Friday 30 August 2019

Farewell, Harry

[Photo of Harry from "The story so far" June 30, 2019]

I hate it when a blogging buddy passes away. And one of my faves did so earlier this week on August 27th -- Harry Hamid of The Rise and Fall of Harry Hamid.

Harry wrote prose -- strangely compelling, beautifully twisted, prose. He would come at subjects sideways, entertaining us with his surreal details, seducing us into entering his often macabre world of clever verbiage. His was a unique voice and I enjoyed reading his short stories very much.

Like many writers, Harry wanted to experience the world in other people's skins. When I first unknowingly encountered him a few years ago in the blogosphere, he was blogging as Katy, a beautiful, homeless lesbian who loved obscure rock bands and had an unfortunate love life (Katy's wife ran off with Katy's brother). Harry had also, it turned out, written other blogs in the personas of two different women.

A couple of years ago, when Harry came clean and revealed all (so to speak), he undertook to write his new blog in his own persona. We went with him on a new journey involving his struggles with love, life, alcohol, cigarettes and the Green Party. Then, tragically this Spring, there was a heart attack/stroke that nearly killed him, a cancer diagnosis, surgery, chemo, failing health and now death, as his brother advised us in a final post on his blog. Harry posted personal photos of himself in hospital, so thin, so frail, yet he always fought on, still writing on occasion.

A year ago, Harry noted in a blog post that this particular week in August is when everything bad always seems to happen to him --

"This week is my annual near death experience.

Jamie left. You know this. It’s been six years today. I almost died, five years next Monday. And it’s hurricane season in Houston.

In my life where nothing ever happens, everything that happens happens this week. There was the year when my car blew up. Yes, that one. I remember. I said, “Of course it did,” and all my co-workers laughed. At me. They said, “You’re superstitious after all, Harry.” That night, our server room exploded and the firemen ran up twenty-seven flights of stairs, each one wearing a hundred pounds of equipment and nothing was left but the ashes. The mayor came out. In tacky pajamas. I walked out under helicopters and the world stank sharp with electrical fire.

This was no surprise. I’d warned them. This was the anniversary of everything.

Nothing is cursed and no week and no one. You will always find a logical explanation. That’s the rule. No magic, no magic at all. So okay then, let’s have it then. I’m game.

Logical Explanation 1. There exists a strange cabal of very cruel people who are targeting me. They blew up my truck and they blew up the server room, damn them. Made Jamie leave, and Ruby. Got Veva to marry. Chose the day for my new firm to gobble up my old. Alright.

But what about the hurricanes? What about my total loss of platelets and sitting at lunch, watching my arm fill up with blood in 2013? What a strange cabal that would be.

This is the part where I get to Logical Explanation 2 and it’s the one where, in my paranoid state, I’m bringing it all upon myself. My paranoia stirs up storms! Breaks underground pipes. It kills my grandfather and the world goes up in sympathetic explosions. No good, no good, that seems even more fantastical than a curse, Occam’s razor and all that jazz.

I’ll stay in, with the lights out, this year. Maybe I will call a priest. A handyman. An anesthetist. Dial 9 and 1 on my phone in preparation. In expectation. While I’m waiting."

And now in 2019, during his bad luck anniversary week, Harry has indeed died. Rest in peace, my friend.

But you know, a very real part of me hopes that he has simply pulled another literary fast one on us -- that in a little while, he'll reappear in some new persona in a new blog, saying "Sorry! ha ha! THIS is the real me now!"

Wouldn't that be great? Yeah, yeah it would.

Universe, make it so.

Wednesday 28 August 2019

My Favourite Emily Carr Painting

Emily Carr (1871-1945) is one of my favourite Canadian artists. From her home in British Columbia, she struggled to achieve her artistic vision despite obscurity, poverty and eccentricity. As Wikipedia notes, her art was:

. . . inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. One of the first painters in Canada to adopt a Modernist and Post-Impressionist painting style, Carr did not receive widespread recognition for her work until the subject matter of her painting shifted from aboriginal themes to landscapes—forest scenes in particular.

This next image is of my favourite Emily Carr painting. Deeply spiritual in meaning, the painting depicts three trees, sole survivors of a brutal forest clearcutting operation. These trees are meant to remind us of the three crosses of Golgotha, where Christ and the two thieves were crucified. This time, however, the unspeakable crime is committed against Nature and Mother Earth. The clouds filling the sky, suffused with light streaming from heaven, ties into this spiritual theme as well. Carr's use of light in this painting was influenced by the style of her friend and early artistic/spiritual mentor, Lawren Harris of the Group of Seven (another favourite Canadian artist of mine).

Carr entitled this painting: Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky.

An exquisitely poetic title, isn't it! It's essentially a modern, free-form haiku, written long before such zen poetry came to North America.

I love the title as much as the painting. In seven little words, it perfectly expresses that the true value of Nature is never to be measured or judged by its commercial or economic worth.

When we were in Vancouver earlier this month, we spent some time at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Guess what it had on display!

For years, I had a reproduction of this painting in my office. I've seen the original painting only three times in my life -- once on loan to the Winnipeg Art Gallery, once on loan to the National Gallery in Ottawa, and now once again at the Vancouver Art Gallery, which is the painting's permanent home.

Each time I've seen it has been a wonderful gift.

[First 2 photos from the internet; 3rd photo taken by My Rare One, August 2019]

Monday 26 August 2019

Who's Ready for Autumn?

I know many of you out there in Blogland are jonesing hard for autumn to get here so you can celebrate cooler weather, fall colours, fall foods and Halloween.

Joyce of Octoberfarm, Guillaume of Vraie Fiction and Lady M of Lady M's Haunted Parlor, I'm looking right at you!

Autumn is my favourite time of the year too. So everyone, just consider this post a little amuse-bouche of imagery to fill us with anticipation for the coming fall season!

Soon, my pretties . . . SOON!

Friday 23 August 2019

Food for Thought

Don't get an upset stomach, but it's time
for some gastronomic puns and word play!

As an appetizer, how about
a nice fruit 'n veggie tray?

Or would you prefer some bread and cheese instead?

Next, the pasta course -- mangia, mangia!

And then, the protein course --

Whatever you eat, don't forget the condiments!

I hope everyone saved room for dessert!

This next dessert is so good, it ought to be illegal!

I trust this post has been a revelation to you all.

[And as usual, a special shout-out of thanks to Jackiesue at Yellowdog Granny, who always finds and posts good pun memes for me to steal!]

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Watercolour and Ink Sketches

The main thing I learned in July's "Sketching in Pen and Ink and Watercolour" course is that I really need to take a beginners course in watercolours! I was not happy with most of my efforts in this class, but here are the ones I don't mind posting, LOL!

We painted the watercolour wash and spatter background in this first exercise before we knew what picture we'd be drawing in ink over top of it. If I'd known, I would not have chosen these particular colours for my wash! Oh well, just pretend this landscape scene is from an alien planet --

I like these little tomatoes on the vine but wish I'd drawn them bigger on the page.

I'm happy with this fruit still life too. The fruit was supplied by my fridge.

These veggies came out of My Rare One's garden. When I was done, I chopped up the onion and put it on a pizza. Delicious!

Because I'm busy and running around traveling in August and September, I won't be taking another art course until October or so. But I may do some art on my own at home.

[Photos taken by My Rare One, August 2019]

Sunday 18 August 2019

It's National Bad Poetry Day Today!

We all know that poets and poetry
get virtually no respect these days,
either in life . . . 

. . . or in death.

But today on National Bad Poetry Day,
they get even less respect than usual!

So to mark this auspicious occasion,
here are some famous poems turned into bad poetry
simply by being rewritten as limericks,
that lowest of all poetical forms
(courtesy of The Poetry Collection blog) --

The Raven
There once was a girl named Lenore
And a bird and a bust and a door
And a guy with depression
And a whole lot of questions
And the bird always says “Nevermore.”
Footprints in the Sand

There was a man who, at low tide
Would walk with the Lord by his side
Jesus said “Now look back;
You’ll see one set of tracks.
That’s when you got a piggy-back ride.”
Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

There once was a horse-riding chap
Who took a trip in a cold snap
He stopped in the snow
But he soon had to go:
He was miles away from a nap.
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

There was an old father of Dylan
Who was seriously, mortally illin’
“I want,” Dylan said
“You to bitch till you’re dead.
“I’ll be pissed if you kick it while chillin’.”
I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud

There once was a poet named Will
Who tramped his way over a hill
And was speechless for hours
Over some stupid flowers
This was years before TV, but still.

And what's this?
A mathematical limerick?

Despite everything that's been said in this post
to commemorate National Bad Poetry Day,
let's end on a positive note and
recognize the true value of poets and poetry!

Thursday 15 August 2019

Good Bingo Juju

In Vancouver, we visited My Rare One's Auntie Olga, who is a big fan of bingo. So one evening we tagged along to the Croatian Community Centre and played bingo with her and about 500 other hopefuls. Here we are setting up and waiting to buy our bingo cards. Thank goodness Auntie Olga was well supplied with daubers so she had more than enough to go around.

As you undoubtedly know, all bingo players have little good luck charms and tokens that they set out on the table to attract good bingo juju. So I dug around in my purse and managed to come up with my own little collection -- part of a Moon Card from the Voyager tarot deck, a Thor's hammer pendant, a triple-spiral goddess rock, a key to some long forgotten door, and a rather grimy little quartz chip. You will note that I also hogged the rainbow dauber, of course.

My Rare One and I were comfortable playing up to six bingo cards at a time but more than that did not go well. When playing nine cards, we'd get behind and miss numbers. Auntie Olga played a dozen or more cards with ease, of course.

Alas, the bingo gods did not smile on us that evening. We won nuttin, my friends, NUTTIN. But we had a good time with Auntie Olga and that's the important thing!

[Photos by My Rare One, August 2019]

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Birds of Vancouver

So let's start off with a BIRDS-EYE view of Vancouver, British Columbia. My Rare One and I just got back from visiting friends and family there.

While kicking around Chinatown, we saw this lovely CHICKEN mural which I really liked, probably because my Chinese astrological sign is the Rooster.

One of the things we did was to visit the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in downtown Vancouver. Bill Reid was the greatest of all Haida Indigenous carvers and artists. This magnificent RAVEN stands at the apex of his huge totem pole in the Gallery.

Like BIRDS OF A FEATHER, My Rare One and I flocked together with more than half a million other people at the Vancouver Pride Parade on the August long weekend. We had a great time! And look at the beautiful bejewelled plumage that I found for myself! Yeah baby yeah, I got my rainbow bling on!

[First photo from the internet; all other photos by My Rare One, August 2019]