January 31, 2010
A cup of tea, a pile of pens, the Cocteau Twins. Slow, meditative lines going nowhere. Thinking about a lot of things; trying to think about nothing.
Posted by jodi on January 31, 2010 at 5.12pm
January 30, 2010
(title is taken from “Memoriam” by Anne Michaels)
Posted by jodi on January 30, 2010 at 4.19pm
January 29, 2010
**Edit: The Court issued a unanimous ruling condemning the government’s actions in the Khadr case, but stopped short of ordering them to intervene with US officials to have Khadr repatriated. I’ll quote a bit from the Globe and Mail article, since they archive stories for a woefully short period of time:
In an 9-0 ruling this morning, the Court said that Canada violated Mr. Khadr’s Charter rights by participating in illegal interrogation methods which included sleep deprivation.
It stressed that the constitutional breach is ongoing and “continues to this day.”
However, the court said that before stepping in to dictate a Canadian response on a sensitive question of foreign policy, the federal government must be given a chance to rectify Mr. Khadr’s plight.
But should the government fail to act, the court warned that it has the power to move more overtly to aid Mr. Khadr.
So. “What you’ve done is wrong, and you should put it right, but we won’t make you. But we could”. I’m trying to look at this in a positive light, but I have no faith that our current government will move to protect Khadr unless forced to do so by the Court. I think they’ve only given Harper more time to stall. And stall he will.
One more quote from The Globe and Mail:
At one point in the hearing, Chief Justice McLachlin expressed concern that, with Mr. Khadr’s mistreatment in the distant past, it might be too late for the courts to take drastic action.
“He has suffered greatly, perhaps, and with great consequence,” she said. “But how does repatriation fix that?”
Well, for one thing, it STOPS THE TORTURE. Because I can’t imagine that life in Guantanamo these days is suddenly all ice cream and pony rides.**
I’m a ball of anxiety today, worrying about what the Supreme Court will decide in the case of Omar Khadr. For those of you who might not know who Khadr is, the quick version: he is the only citizen of a Western country still detained at Guantanamo Bay. He was arrested in Afghanistan at the age of 15, accused of throwing a grenade that killed a US soldier, and has been in detention at Guantanamo ever since. He is now 23 years old. Unlike the governments of every other civilized nation in the world, the Canadian government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper has steadfastly refused to demand he be returned home to face trial in his own country. The US military wants to try Khadr in a military court rather than in a federal court, and the reason for this is that the evidence against him is as fragile as a month-old cobweb: blow on it and it will fall apart and disappear on the wind.
Browse through the comments section (at your own risk; I’ve been reduced to angry tears by it so many times that I avoid doing so anymore) of any online news article on Khadr and you’ll find a lot of hateful racist vitriol there, against Khadr, against his family, and against Muslims and Muslim-Canadians in general. Yes, his family’s associations are problematic. But the truth is, having been taken from Canada to Afghanistan and forced into combat by his own father and not some village-invading militia does not change the fact that Omar was a victim, a child soldier abused first by his own family, then by the US military, and then by the Canadian government in their refusal to offer him the protection every citizen deserves.
I don’t even care whether or not Khadr threw that grenade. I have confidence that the truth will be determined in court. But I don’t have confidence that any truth or justice will come from allowing this boy (man, now) to face trial by the American military. They have too much invested in producing a conviction to be trusted to view the facts fairly.
This morning when my alarm went off I dozed through the CBC radio news, and listening to this story I saw in my dream a 10-metre-tall Stephen Harper in a blue pinstripe suit (and a red toque with a Vancouver Olympics logo; it was a dream, don’t ask) standing at the gates to a medieval city, gazing out over the minus 35 windchill (I must have slept through the weather report as well) snowy landscape with a majestic sneer. Melodramatic I know, but cut me some slack, it was a dream. His giant eyelids slid down lizard-like over his cold, glittering eyes before he turned and closed the doors. Let’s hope the Court forces him to leave that door open a crack, so the abused child at his feet can scrabble in behind him to the safety of home.
Posted by jodi on January 29, 2010 at 9.17am
January 28, 2010
Our week of mild temperatures and melting snow has given way to what in these parts isn’t really considered THAT much of a cold snap, but for a Sun Parlour girl (and someone who, thanks to three winters in Georgia, has become a bit soft) this is definitely the lower end of bearably cold. After checking the weather this morning (minus 13°) I decided that I could easily walk up the hill to work wearing a shorter than usual skirt and thinner than usual tights (pantyhose weight, really). Upon staggering into my office, wind-whipped and with NEON PINK LEGS glowing out from under my polka-dot tights, I opened up the Environment Canada weather page once more and read the fine print. Minus 23° windchill. Whoops.
Needless to say I bummed a lift home after class with a student. I may be a fool but I’m still also a wimp, and the wimp won out easily. It’s now minus 20° outside, minus 28° with the windchill. Quite normal for here, or so I gather. And certainly not unlike the winters I grew up with, long before my stint in the South miraculously transformed me into a Georgia peach. Tomorrow, thick leggings. Perhaps two pairs.
Posted by jodi on January 28, 2010 at 8.36pm
January 27, 2010
I always leave my Wednesday morning class with a headache. It’s got twice as many students as my other two classes have, and they’re an energetic bunch even at 8:30 in the morning. I often have to shout to be heard or tell them to shut up and listen, and while they’re drawing, while they’re sitting around waiting for class, while they’re dawdling to set up their easels, they are constantly yakking. All at once. Mostly I don’t mind, because they’re fairly engaged with the drawing they’re doing in class, and so far most of them are doing pretty good work. And I would much, much rather have a noisy talkative class than a morose class that doesn’t want to participate. But now it’s suppertime and the mild headache I left class with at 12:30 has unfurled itself into a full-blown migraine. I need to either get these folks to quiet down somehow, or have the drugs at the ready the second I walk out of there.
Posted by jodi on January 27, 2010 at 5.03pm
January 26, 2010
Allow me to introduce, after having sat out a full season between bindoff and blocking, the Flurries shawl:
I started it at the end of August in order to have something simple to knit on my flights from Windsor to North Bay and back when I had my interview for the teaching position at Nipissing. Upon returning home I knit away at it distractedly during repeated watchings of Dollhouse, then flung it, completed, back in the basket to ferment for a spell while I worked up the energy to weave in the ends. There were 6 (six!) of them, due to my switching out to a contrasting yarn for the edging and then back to the main yarn for the bindoff row. Six ends is, like, ten minutes of work, people. And yet the fact that I only left it for four months is a vast improvement over my usual pattern of behaviour.
The pattern, of course, is the ever-popular Ishbel by Ysolda Teague. The main yarn is handspun from fibre I received from Mama E (Ceyeber Fiber), and the contrast yarn in the lace edging is a pale gray mohair blend that I reclaimed from an ugly thrift store find. It’s not too contrasty against the main body of the shawl, which I like, but it provides a distinct contrast against the (returning to the main yarn) bindoff row, which I love. Our gracious model is Miss Bones, an employee of the department of Fine and Performing Arts, Nipissing University.
I had a conversation with one of my colleagues today about the importance of video documentation and how I tried (and failed) to get into the habit of making weekly little studio videos. After this photo shoot was over I wished I’d made a video of myself carrying my model around the snowy parking lot with her broken stand, or gently brushing the snow from the bottoms of her feet as we re-entered the building. I have a feeling it must have looked pretty funny.
So. I mentioned yesterday that there were two cockups in the shawl: one fixable, one bearable. Well, on closer inspection after blocking I realized that what I’d thought was a “bearable cockup” in my knitting was actually just a part of the pattern, executed perfectly, that I’d just been examining wonkily in my haste to get the thing pinned out on my way out the door to work. The fixable mistake, a dropped stitch in the bindoff, was easy-peasy. You’ll never notice. I DEFY you to notice it.
And just so y’all don’t think I’m tiring of snow pictures just yet, we had a fresh snowfall today:
Just yesterday I photographed those same branches dripping with water as a warm rain fell, turning much of my hard-packed snowy walk to water and slush:
Posted by jodi on January 26, 2010 at 7.53pm
January 25, 2010
Finally remembered to get Ishbel blocking on the bed in the morning so I can still sleep there at night without having to lie in a wet spot. While pinning her out I noticed a couple of little cockups, one that can be fixed, one that can be lived with. Whatever. I realized once I had it all pinned out that, while I’ve made quite a bit of lace over the years, this is my first lace shawl. First finished, that is; I’m pretty sure I’ve started a few over the last 20 years that got forgotten or unraveled along the way. Never mind. Tonight I’ll fix the little problem (dropped stitch in the bindoff) and tomorrow I’ll have a lovely lace shawl to wear.
Posted by jodi on January 25, 2010 at 10.04am
January 24, 2010
Adding the extra repeat to make this shawl a little longer was a good idea: it’s beginning to look like I might run out of shawl at around the same time as I run out of yarn. I was worried that I would have a hard-to-use-up amount of yarn left at the end of this. Of course, now that I’ve said that, the yarn gods will no doubt come down and bite my ass for my hubris, and I’ll run out of yarn halfway through the bindoff.
Underneath it is my blue Ishbel shawl, finished for months now but still not blocked. I keep remembering it too late in the day to risk pinning a wet shawl out on the mattress I need to sleep on, and I keep putting it in different places in the room in hopes that one of these mornings I’ll notice it early enough to get it in the bath and finally block the poor rumpled thing. I did go out and buy T-pins, so that’s one step closer already.
Posted by jodi on January 24, 2010 at 6.48pm
January 23, 2010
Cutting a new woodblock:
This wood, a cheap Douglas Fir ply, was great for wood intaglio (which is what I bought it for) but is not so hot for carving normally. It’s brittle and splitty and kind of a pain in my arse. And in my wrist, which I may need to wrap up tonight. This could be slow going. And when I pick up the wood for my printmaking students to use, I’ll get them some nice birch instead.
I poked around the shop a bit and had a look at the litho equipment that was donated to the school last year. It’s pretty much a full litho shop’s worth of stuff: press, graining sink, stones, scraper bars, chemicals, lots of tusche and crayons and other supplies. The shop isn’t set up yet and the graining sink can’t be used, but I’m thinking about getting one of the stones out and trying to do some printing without graining first. It’ll all depend on whether I find any lithotine once I get my hands on a key to the locked fire cabinet, but everything else I’d need seems to be there. Everything but a forklift to heave the stone I want to use up onto the press, of course. I think it would take six of the biggest students to lift it, and it’s got to come up from almost floor level. Bonus marks won’t be enough incentive, I’m thinking.
It looks like a pretty good press:
There were also some nice old inks in the cupboard that I don’t think I’ll open, as the older they are the more likely they are to be filled with carcinogens. Many were date stamped January 1989 but these two on the left here, the Ault & Wiborg ones, are dated Oct 27 1964 (red label) and Feb 22 1957. Neither has ever been opened.
No, the orange ink is not from 1542.
I don’t think I ever told y’all this story about those other old inks, the ones I got from the shelf marked “oldies” at Green Street, the oldest of which is dated October 1971 (two months older than me!). I received an email from someone who had seen my photos of the inks on flickr, inquiring what I was planning to do with the inks and whether I’d consider selling them. I wrote back and said that I was going to print with them, because I thought it would be kind of funny to use ink that was older than me (in the same way I remember my housemates and I back in 1989 thinking it was so hilarious when one of us, not me, tasted some of that army food in the silver packets that was older than we were and had been sitting around in storage somewhere), and just out of curiosity what did he want the inks for? He wrote back that he was a lawyer working on a case for a group of individuals who had contracted cancer from working with inks in that era and please under no circumstances should I use the inks. Of course I immediately told him that in that case he was welcome to the inks as long as he would deal with the rigmarole of getting them back into the States, as by that time I had finished grad school and brought all of my stuff, including the purloined heirloom inks, back to Canada. I never heard back. Which makes it not much of a story really, except for the whole inks = cancer thing. So now the cans sit untouched up high on a shelf in my studio, looking pretty with their 30 years of label design, and this story is added to my vast arsenal of stories I use to try and scare my students, along with the one starring yours truly who used to cook curried black eyed peas in a pot on the hot plate in the intaglio room at Bealart, right next to people who were cooking asphaltum onto plates. So, curried black eyed peas with added tar, wax and mineral spirits, essentially. That’s some tasty stuff right there.
Posted by jodi on January 23, 2010 at 11.03pm
January 22, 2010
I have not felt creative in a very long time. Did y’all know I got a grant last year? It was for a project. I bought a serger with the money, and a few other supplies, spoke to a couple of people about the project (as it’s collaborative) and then just sort of. . . didn’t. I lost my momentum and spent many, many months caught in the cycle of not working, beating myself up for not working and feeling so bad about it all that I couldn’t work. We shall not speak of it. I have a new, albeit temporary, job, teaching again. And a change of scenery and the energy of the studio classroom is doing me a world of good. Whether it’s going to do me a world of kicking my arse back into the studio and some sort of serious working routine is something I’ll have to get back to you on.
My knitwear design “career” pretty much fizzled out near the end of my first year of grad school, when I took on too many commissions at once and would up totally fucking off and wasting that year while at the same time barely pulling those design commissions out of my very overworked arse. I became that designer who’s a complete cockup, making costly mistakes, turning things in on time or late, and generally being the kind of person you don’t want to work with because they’re too much trouble to chase after all the time. I decided then that I would have to take a break from the design stuff until I was finished grad school if I wanted to succeed there. In the year and a half since receiving my degree, I completed one design that was promised to someone but I was so terribly unhappy with the result, which looked not-so-bad in photos but was not a project of which I felt proud, that I pulled out of publication in order to rework it (and I’m still trying to get that done, in a new yarn, with major changes). And I made another design that should have been so dead simple, but because of my total creative breakdown the project kicked my arse completely and once again I turned it in very, very late, the pattern full of mistakes, feeling like a total failure and no doubt disappointing people who were counting on me NOT being that flaky fuck-up. I do not want to be that person anymore. I want to be the person who considers each project with care and executes it flawlessly, and in a timely fashion. I want to be the person others can count on, not the person they write off as unreliable.
So. I think it’s time I approached my knit design process in the same way I do my studio practice. The project I’ve been dragging my heels on is all about making personalized uniforms for other people in a workplace. I’ve asked three people who are special to me to work with me on some new designs: I’ll give them all a set of interview questions, they’ll send me images, songs, books, whatever things move them. And I’ll stop worrying about what I like, and what sorts of designs I want to work on for myself, and what things knitters want to knit, and just design the ideal perfect sweater (or other knitted thing) for each of those people. Maybe this isn’t so revolutionary, and is in fact what a lot of other designers do. But part of what’s going to get me back in the game is not worrying about other designers and just getting on with working. My way.
En D’Autres Nouvelles
This house has more mirrors than Enter the Dragon but because I’m living with COLLEGE BOYS they are all kinda grody. Anyway. Here I am in the kitchen, a good ten metres at least from my laptop, listening to blip.fm on my expensive new wireless headset. I’m much, much more excited about this than I look. It means I can talk all I want on Skype with my beloved and still knit or draw without the constant worrying about getting my hands caught up in the wires and yanking the ‘phones painfully off my head. Now I can even take my laptop up to the Monastery (where the art department lives) and talk with Peter while I cut woodblocks! Except I won’t be able to tell funny stories about students then, in case any of them are listening. I’ll have to find some funny stories about the housemates. So far the housemate stories all have to do with inconsiderate midnight laundry (the machines are right outside my bedroom door) and dirty dishes and nobody wanting to be the one to replace the empty toilet roll. And that shit’s just not funny.
Posted by jodi on January 22, 2010 at 10.55pm