Umberto Eco inspired photoshoot

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana is an Italian novel by Umberto Eco and translated by Geoffrey Brock.  It is a rich, wonderful, descriptive romp through antique and vintage Italian culture as Yambo, the 59-yr-old protagonist, works to recover his memory after a stroke by returning to his hometown of Solara and exploring his old newspapers, vinyl records, books, magazines and childhood comic books.  The crux of the plot is the one memory Yambo wishes to see most: the face of the girl he loved as a student and ever after.

One of the illustrations in the book as Yambo seeks this memory was my main inspiration for this shot

Photos by: Seann Alexander


Deepwater Blowouts: Is Canada Next?

This summer we witnessed the worst oil related disaster in US history, but Canada should be warned.  Here in Canada we're drilling wells off the coast of Newfoundland that are far deeper in far stormier seas than the Deepwater Horizon.  Don't get me started on the Tar Sands, but I think most Canadians are at least aware of what goes on in Alberta.  Until I watched this CBC Passionate Eye Documentary I was oblivious to the fact that a marine oil disaster of such magnitude could potentially happen here.

Canada is entering the deepwater drilling race with 250 exploratory wells off the coast of Newfoundland and 3 deepwater rigs in the Grand Banks that extract in excess of 100 million barrels of oil a year.  And not 5 weeks after the BP spill began, Chevron began constructing a well that's twice as deep and six times as far out to sea as the Deepwater Horizon!  Not to mention how treacherous the North Atlantic waters are in comparison to the Gulf of Mexico with icebergs, fogs, gigantic waves and near freezing temperatures.  I mean, this is the body of water that sank the Titanic! 

Professionals in the ocean sciences industries are concerned about the effects of drilling in and around one of the most fragile fisheries in the world.  A blowout here could be far more ecologically damaging than the one seen in the Gulf.  Commercial stocks such as Cod and Haddock would be affected both by the initial oil contamination as well as Corexit, the chemical dispersant used to hide the oil.  The oil doesn't completely disappear though either, especially not in very cold water where oil eating microbes reproduce and consume oil at a much slower rate.  The oil will sink into the Labrador current where it will be carried all along the Grand Banks,  the spawning ground for most fish stocks as well as a diverse coral based habitat, creating enormous dead zones. 

The area is home to 40 million seabirds (300 species) living 24/7/365 in the water, many very far offshore, and with the sub-zero winter temperatures any contact with oil would eliminate the birds' insulation and their chances of survival would be relatively nonexistent.  Cold water temperatures and winter storm delays will also make combating spills relatively impossible for more than half the year.  So is the Canadian government stepping up to the plate?  No - they're relaxing regulations!  For example, Canada no longer requires deepwater rigs to file a contingency plan of any sort!

I would highly suggest watching this documentary, you would be surprised what you don't know!


a wreath for @adaveaday

This is my very first tutorial so I made it a simple one!  You will need: a wire circle frame, evergreen garlands, seasonal accent picks, a focal accessory.  First attach the garland to the frame with a twist tie or wire, then start wrapping it tightly.  Use at least 3 garlands so that it is nice and full, and wrap them both clockwise and counterclockwise to make sure it is even.  Attach the smaller accent picks using twist ties then decide if you prefer to leave it like that, or add a focal accessory such as a bell, bow or pinecone.


winter gardening

My broccoli are still somehow alive!!!  They've all got small heads growing, some of which actually set after the first frost!  I'm keeping them going by watering early in the morning on sunny days with warm water so that it can be absorbed before it freezes and offsets hard frost from setting into the soil.  If I had known how long these little guys would survive I would have either built a coldframe / mini greenhouse or mulched / insulated around the raised beds. I water from my walkout rooftop using the sink / hose setup that I created in the summer!


political discourse in web 2.0

Andre Marin is my mum's Hero, mine too.  Today, the Ontario Ombudsman finally released his report on the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services's misconduct leading up to the G20 summit.  There are many articles circulating using very provocative, eloquent quotes like the one below:

"For the citizens of Toronto the days up to and including the weekend of the G8/G20 will live in infamy as a time period where martial law was set in the city of Toronto, leading to the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history. We can never let that happen again."

But the Ontario Ombudsman is not just a figurehead, he's a man named Andre Marin with a very human side and I wanted to know how he felt about reviewing the G20 summit, not just what his conclusions are.  I've written about this before, and I want to say again how powerful a tool Twitter is for quick interactions and discourse with public figures that one blogger wouldn't traditionally have access to let alone get a comment from.  Yet here we are!


Give the Gift of Life This Christmas

I came across this post on one of my social networks, and I decided that along with making sure I'm registered for organ and tissue donation, I would cross-post this message so that other people might be inspired.  This is not my personal story but I think its so well written it should be posted as is:


tying my summer garden into the winter holidays

The morning glories that grew all over my billboard and stairs left twisted vines and little seed globes, wrapped and twined and dried into a lovely almost rope-like structure.  I tied the rope onto a wire circle as gently as possible so not to unwind the rope or dislodge the seeds.  In the spring I can plant the wreath and a perfect circle of the morning glories will grow!  The whole project should be done overtop of some kind of lid or plastic sheet so you can also save the seeds that fall off :)


feeding your pets an apropriate diet

Inspired by my friend Nadia who feeds her dog a canine prey-model raw diet, I thought I should take a closer look at what I've been feeding my rats.  My pet rats are domesticated versions of the Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus) which even themselves have been long since urbanized.  Brown rats are true omnivores, with the main portion of their diet ideally coming from cereal grains.  Over 100s of years co-existing with humans, they have adapted their tastes to garbage as their main food source!  According to one study, the brown rats' favourite foods are (in order) scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, and cooked corn kernels so I feed mine those as treats :)

For their main diet, I started with the most popular diet online: suebee's rat diet and adapted it using this study.  At each feeding I mix 1/2 dog food and 1/2 grain mix.  All the ingredients are from Bulk Barn!  For additional treats I just feed them scraps of whatever I'm having.  Generally if its healthy for you its healthy for rats!

Staple base diet: Lamb & Rice Dog Food or Super Premium Puppy Food (depends on age)

                                         Grain mix:
1 cup dry rolled oats
1/2 cup cheerios
1/2 cup rice krispies
3/4 cup vector
1/4 cup soybeans
1/2 cup dried fruit
1/2 cup dried pasta
2/3 cup raw sunflower seeds


    Post Inspired Christmas Decorations

    With all the talk of letter writing / sending lately I wanted to make some Holiday Post inspired art!  I found this charming tutorial for stamp coasters over at Design*Sponge!  It's cute but I didn't have any fabric transfer paper left... I do however have lots of translucent frosted sticker paper!  I printed one of the stamp images and left it in mirror image when I printed it.  That way I could stick it to the inside of the glass over top of some letter inspired paper and old christmas wrapping paper :) I chose the postal delivery bird because they he most festive!  Christmas decorations don't have to be your traditional red/green garlands and trees!


    Vintage-y Ruffle Skirt {update}

     Remember that Dust Ruffle / Jean Short upcycle skirt I made a month ago?  
    Well it featured in a cheeky photoshoot with Seann Alexander last night!


    soul of muskoka choir

    At 5:30 this morning both @Stephen_Job and I were up studying/stressing out.  He posted some reminiscent words on a lovely photograph from our summer vacation at  Muskoka Soul.  I then remembered this video of an impromptly formed choir led by Frater Musicus which has brought me peace and some how reminds me of summer, yet seems appropriate for this holiday season all at the same time!


    Winter Garden Update

    It's December 1, its snowing steadily and my garden is STILL going strong!  I harvested a handful of rainbow chard and an absolute armful of Italian flatleaf parsley :)  There's an assortment of herbs, about a dozen each of rainbow chard and broccoli plants still growing, even the Bacopa ground cover is surprisingly still thick and covered in flowers!  I love this place - its so much better than battling Zone 3 and shallow soil over the Canadian Shield in Thunder Bay haha.  Even with flurries collecting on the ground and beads of slush freezing to the leaves these plants still seem to persist.  I feel truly blessed to be heading into my 8th month of harvesting food from this garden.