Tuesday, May 31, 2011

on the side of the road

These were plastered all over Queen St E, not last weekend, but the one before:

"it is on" sign

I like to imagine the small child and author, like a miniature circus barker promoting his toy sale, challenging all other toy sales to a toy sale smack-down. "It. Is. On."

Maybe that says something about me.

mural, Queen E
bike lanes pleezz
Roncesvalles & Queen

I'm also going to say, because no one else will, thank goodness for actual heat! 31oC is more like it.

Tomorrow, we're off to Halifax and assorted maritime provinces.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


We drove to Ottawa Friday morning, and back last night.

flame, Parliament and tourists

This photo isn't about Parliament, or the stance of the photographer up front... it's about the sartorial choices of the man in the turquoise hoodie, wearing plaid shorts *over* his pants.

unicorn is not okay

I really don't know what to think about the unicorn at Parliament, but I like it.

gargoyle I hadn't been inside Parliament since I was 12, and we decided to do the touristy thing and poke around. An enthusiastic guide (who, in a very Canadian fashion, had a distinct Mexican accent) invited us to take the 45 minutes tour. We declined, but he came back and said that actually, people didn't general know this, but it was possible to avoid the tour but simply go up the Peace Tower and see the Memorial Chamber. So, we decided to do this. Despite, some hassle with security (who were fascinated with my travel chop sticks), we got in and up the Tower after only a short wait. It was really worth it. The view is wonderful and the Memorial Chamber was actually quite moving.

Parliamentary library roofview from Peace Towermuseum from Peace Tower
gargoyle dragon

The downtown core really does seem to empty out by 6 pm. We headed toward Byward Market to try and find dinner. We chose a place because I was amused that it was in the building which originally housed the Geological Survey of Canada.

Saturday, RJH played several hockey games (for the Heart & Stroke foundation) and I went to the Museum of Civilization, since I had yet to do so. It's across the river in Gatineau, with a great view of Parliament. Though this child appears to be fleeing, the museum is great. I enjoyed their Japanese exhibit, which rooted contemporary Japanese design in its traditions - for instance tracing robots to eighteenth century automatons, or manga to ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Since I've spent time in Japan, and visited the Tokyo Edo Museum and the National Museum, I wasn't sure I would be impressed, but it was really well curated. Also, I got to pet Paro the Japanese robot baby seal. It was creepy. I also enjoyed the amazing array of masks in their permanent collection, and even the straightforward Canadian history.

child flees museum
Museum of Civilization Reid SculptureReid creatureBill Reid sculpture
Museum of Civilization
Museum of Civilization ceiling
in Museum 'How Charming'Museum of Civilization pressmailbox cat

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Toronto Etsy Street Team Spring Craft Show

Check out this video from Pam and husband Nial of lurearts pottery of the Toronto Etsy Street Team Spring Craft Show at the Gladstone last April.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Happy Victoria Day & Hearts

Happy Victoria Day everyone! I hope where you are the weather is beautiful for fireworks. If you aren't Canadian, are a Canadian away from home you should celebrate anyway, cause it's as good an excuse as any. :)

In other news, my things from secret minouette places etsy shop now has over a thousand hearts! I *love* when my shop gets hearts and would like to thank every single person who has added the shop to their favorites. Thank you!

Friday, May 20, 2011

science demons

Laplace's Demon

This is the 3rd demon in my 'Imaginary Friends of Science' series. In fairness Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace (23 March 1749 – 5 March 1827), French mathematical physicist (who incidentally, did invaluable work in geophysics), was pretty hard-headed and probably didn't really have any imaginary friends. In 1814, when he envisioned an entity such that if it knew the precise location and momentum of every 'atom'* in the universe then it could use deterministic principles to reveal the entire course of cosmic events, past and future, he didn't name it a demon. His biographers did. But less face it - hard-headed or not, this hypothetical entity is much like those thought experiments of Maxwell and Descartes, also called demons. So, I've made linocuts of the entire trio. Each block is 6 inches by 7 inches and printed on Japanese kozo (or mulberry paper).

I imagined this demon as containing 'everything' between his horns (galaxies, stars, planets, comets, and so on), bearing a maked ressemblance to Laplace, and, since it knows everything, being enlightened, so I've borrowed some associated iconography.*

Recall the other demons:
Maxwell's DemonDescartes' Demon all

*this of course, pre-dates our modern knowledge and ability to detect atoms, so you must read the word in its original sense of 'small, indivisible, primordial particle'

**there is a story about Laplace, possible apocryphal, that when questioned by Napoleon about his lack of reference to God or a Creator that he stated that he had had 'no need of that hypothesis' (Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là). To which an amused Napoleon alledgedly replied, Ah! c'est une belle hypothèse; ça explique beaucoup de choses. ("Ah, it is a fine hypothesis; it explains many things.") So, it seems he was likely atheistic, and would be surprised to find his thought-experiment turned into a Buddhist demon.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ernst Haeckel and some of his favorite critters

Ernst Haeckel portrait

Ernst Haekel (February 16, 1834 – August 9, 1919), the famed German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor and artist, whose book "Art Forms in Nature" filled with lovely 19th century scientific illustrations of biology has inspired many of my prints. This month the mad scientists of etsy challenge theme is Ernst Haeckel, so here we have the man himself, surrounded by several of the creatures he depicted. Clockwise from the top we have: rugosa, a foraminifer (or foram), a tubularid hydroid, homo sapiens (Ernst Haeckel), a dinoflagellate, and a sea slug or nudibranch.

top Haeckel

This is an original lino block print printed in various colours, water-based block printing ink on Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper. The first edition is limited to four prints The sheets are 30.5 cm by 30.5 cm (12 inches by 12 inches).

Haeckel detail

I had to choose a nudibranch because they are so spectacular looking, like a sea cucumber dressed for carnivale. There are some weird looking creatures in the ocean. When tasked with documenting what we see with a submersible ROV, we are often left with little option but to type 'critter' or even more vaguely 'life'. I can't help but recall an animated short I saw at the NFB with , 'Chloe the sea cucumber' which was in fact weirder than any critter I've seen yet.

Haeckel seems to have a Louis Riel thing going on. The print is based on a photo of him, clearly after doing field work, in 1866 (hence the posture, leaning on the table).

Friday, May 13, 2011


Funky music, animation and science journalism - nice.

Speaks for itself, I think, so I'll just say drinking water should not be flammable. Ever.

(via bioephemera)

*waits quietly for inevitable BSG jokes*

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

magpie & whiskeyjack

In case you don't know, I have this whole other blog at magpie & whiskeyjack which is about the delightful, intriguing and beautiful finds, with an emphasis on things at the intersection of art and science. Think of it as a repository of loot gleaned by a acquisitive magpie and the trickster whiskeyjack.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

more moths


So I completed another moth broadside (and listed all 3). Perhaps I should paper my walls with these and dare the little $^#* to eat them.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Reading is sexy XLV

(image credit: Adam Guzowski)

Well, I knew I would forget something if I waited too long to write up my reading. This book should actually be #4 if my list were strictly chronological.

9. The Divinity Gene by Matthew J. Trafford. This is a marvellous little (debut!) collection of short stories by a Canadian writer with a knack for balancing evocative realism with hints of the surreal, re-imagined contemporary folklore and religious imagery taken to its illogical extreme. I think I would have bought the collection for the wondrous title "The Renegade Angels of Parkdale" (fallen, physically perfect, angels run a hip gay bar in Parkdale) and the lovely and whimsical book design and illustrations by Jessica Sullivan alone. However the quality and originality of the writing would give anyone reason to pick this up. The titular short story's tale of Jesus clones or the unwanted, undead companion on a camping trip in Algonquin in 'Camping at Dead Man's Point' are inventive and impressive, but most impressive is Trafford's ability to write from various points of view, of men and women from childhood to old age.

10. The Jaguar Smile by Salman Rushdie. This book recounting his travels in Nicaragua in 1986, was Rushdie's first book of non-fiction. While the politics have become dated, you'll recognize Rushdie's incisive wit and it makes an intriguing introduction the Central American nation of poets, peasants and revolutionaries and its unique place in politics and history.

11. Little Lessons in Safety written and illustrated by Emily Holton. I bought this beautiful little book at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. It seems a bit difficult to categorize, essentially being an artist book, like the graphic novel answer to the short story form. The words and picture are symbiotic. Holton is not only an evocative illustrator, she's a good writer. There's whimsy, modern day fables, humour and despair. I was tickled by her comic (for lack of a better word) about Karl Lagerfeld and moved by the broken love stories. Haunting yet delightful.

12. Mason and Dixon by Thoman Pynchon In which Mr. Pynchon's wild, Unfettered, Profound, tightly woven (and Sporadically, giving the Appearance, of Unhinged) Mind takes on the Lives of two Eighteenth Century English Astronomers, Servants of the Royal Society, now Best Rem'mbred for their Survey of of the Boundary of Pennsylvania and Maryland.... Though the language is suited to the protagonist's era (complete with unfathomable capitalization rules) and the narrative winding and non-linear, I'm 200 pages in and it's addictive. Only 600 more to go...

{Series so far: books read, more books read, books read, books read continues, more books read, I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII,XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVI, XXXVII, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XL,XLI, XLII, XLIII,

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Don't get me wrong....


I got no quarrel with the insects. Just because they have six legs and an exoskeleton is no reason to revile 'em. The beasties of the Lepidoptera order are beautiful and multifarious. We take their cousins the butterflies as symbols of the soul. I've personally long maintained that butterflies are the new pirates, with their ever-increasing popularity. I understand that insects will share my habitat - and even my home - as they, after all, were here first. We may even compete for the same resources in our shared environment. It's just the expensive tastes of the moths... they've crossed the line. It's not like I even own very many cashmere items, and the little bastards went after them all.

So, I'm printing broadsides. As RJH said, "Because there's nothing a moth hates more than a strongly-worded pamflet."


Linocut, (inked à la poupée), 12.5 inches wide by 14 inches, on Japanese cream-coloured kozo (or mulberry paper). The first image shows one with various washi chine collé.

Apparently, it's International Print Day so it's apt that I finished this today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011