Man was made for joy and woe

Two years ago I fell back in love with poetry which was nice because my English degree had drained away much of my admiration for the fine craft. I credit my mother and her unstoppable addiction to CBC radio. One night as she was falling asleep they read two William Blake poems on the radio, one being Auguries of Innocence which mentioned something about a robin.

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage

My mother liked the poem and the fact that it mentioned my name so she printed a copy of it for me the next day and left it on the desk in my bedroom. It has since become my favourite poem and it rekindled my love for the art that (for me) had become dry and stale through years of tedious forced readings and analysis. Blake is a genius and I really enjoyed studying him during my 19th century British Literature course this year. His social commentary is spot on and his words make my heart sing. I love the lines:

It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine,
Runs a joy with silken twine.

When I read those words I feel like everything in my world is right again and I can carry on with whatever my day entails. Today that meant mopping the dinning room, cleaning all of the chairs and tables, windexing windows and wiping shelves. Luckily, I was able to listen to CBC while doing so (like mother, like daughter) and I heard a very interesting interview with the conductor of the Canadian Opera Company who conducted the two operas I saw this year, Aida and The Magic Flute. It put a big smile on my face.

It's interesting to me that Blake has come up twice quite randomly, for me, in two days. Two nights ago I was discussing the sometimes dark subject matter of his poetry and artwork with our head chef. Then last night, Rysio and I decided to watch The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys and towards the end of the film the main character does a public reading of The Tiger, which is also a fairly popular Blake poem:

Tiger Tiger burning bright,
In the forests of the night.
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy perfect symmetry?

Sidenote: I took these photos of Sophia when we were much younger, during my budding photography love affair. She would patiently sit and pose for me and I think the first photo is a good example of joyful Sophia in Pukaskwa National Park. In the second photo her exasperation with my tireless photo shoots is showing - a bit of woe over my domineering older sibling personality. It's really exciting for me to look back on those days and remember how much fun I had... and I like to think she had a bit of fun too, playing the model.

 Today was definitely full of more joy than woe. I hope your day is too!

Steamy Days

I bet you didn't know that Hamilton has a Museum of Steam and Technology. While we were on our short vacation, we decided to take a little tour of the National Historic Site that pumped clean water from Lake Ontario into the Hamilton reservoir using the power of steam. Our tour guide informed us that the reservoir enabled the city to in order to reduce incidences of cholera and protected the city from fires.

Earlier in the day I bought the new-to-me dress that I am wearing in the photos. It is from one of the new vintage stores on James Street North. I also found a great belt at the vintage store Relish, it is similar to one that I fell in love with at the one of a kind show in Toronto this spring. It is made from upcycled kimono fabric and organic cotton. I keep dreaming of 100 ways to wear it this year and I think it will become one of my cherished wardrobe pieces. 

What do you think of our steam-era hats? I think they may be a bit out of date but you can't fault the museum for including some experiential learning for the little ones. After our long day spent in the warm Hamilton air we decided to cool off with a nice gelato on the waterfront in Burlington. It was a nice visit back in Hamilton but it was much to short. I'm already planning what I want to do when I go back in September. 

Hammer Sauce

Rysio and I were lucky enough to get two splendid days off to spend in the great metropolis of Hamilton. Of course, we quickly rushed ourselves to our respective dentists. Once we were through with that sadomasochistic task, we decided to host a small bbq for our darling friends. Here is the invitation we sent out:

And here are some of our adorable friends who showed up:

The Happy Couple - Rysio and Me
After a hard day of dental work and BBQ preparation
Rysio's shirt reads: Elephants Never Forget - That's Why They Drink
And drink we did
I hope you had a lovely Tuesday

Trinkets and the Beach

It has been a lovely week so far. My parents came to visit the park and I immediately convinced them to whisk me away to the busy streets of Huntsville and Bracebridge. Plenty of antiques were perused, the Muskoka Arts and Crafts Summer Show was browsed and coffees of varying degrees of vileness were imbibed. Actually, that's not entirely true. We did manage to find a nice cafe in Bracebridge that sold fair trade organic coffee and as a part-time-hippie that's what I'm all about. I'm the sort of person who relies on landmarks rather than street names or business signs so I promptly forgot the name of the place but I never forget my way back to a good mug of coffee. I know I'll be back.

Some Treasures from Don's Junk

We also went to the beach in Dwight. It was my first time chilling on the sand this summer so I was pretty excited to be there. Not pictured below: Rysio (who is taking the photo) & my parents who are busy-busy doing a training swim. In six and a half hours they will be running the Friendly Massey Marathon, I hope they do well! 

I'm pretty sleepy. I've been teaching myself how to use Gimp, the Ubuntu version of Photoshop. If you're lucky I may post some of my goofy results. For now I think I'm ready to settle down with a mug of Sacred Blend (yes that's actually what it's called - by the Algonquin Tea Co.) and a good book. 

Reclaimed Wood

Tom Thomson - Jack Pine

I'm a big fan of history (as you may have guessed). So when I found out that they were rebuilding a large log cabin on the property here,  I was pretty excited. The building once belonged to a wealthy woman who was the daughter of an automotive company executive. Rumour has it that she welcomed members of the Group of Seven into her Algonquin Park getaway so that they could complete their work. I like to imagine that maybe Tom Thomson or A.Y. Jackson leaned up against one of those walls while thoughtfully smoking a pipe or maybe even hung a painting or two on the walls before they became famous.

Recap: a gorgeous century-old log cabin, world renowned works of art, Algonquin Provincial Park and illicit affairs between aristocrats and artists. (Ok, I made that last one up but life is more fun when you colour in the details a little bit, don't you think?)

While Tom Thomson aptly captured the spirit of Algonquin Park in images like Jack Pine (shown above), Lawren Harris has always been my favourite of the Group of Seven. His paintings express the grandeur but also the desolation of the northern Ontario that I am better acquainted with. His paintings Pic Island and Coldwell Bay both depict places I visited as a child and they make me feel fortunate that I grew up in such a beautiful place.

Coldwell Bay - Lawren Harris

If you are interested in the Group of Seven, I highly recommend taking a trip out to the McMichael Art Gallery where they house an extensive collection. 

Pic Island - Lawren Harris


I was lucky to have a wide selection of electives to choose from in university. One of my favourite courses was The History of Graphic Design, which gave a thorough overview of the development of Art. The most enjoyable part of the course was discussing the development of writing, from cuniform on clay tablets to the printing of the Gutenburg Bible. As a word-nerd, I was head over heels for all of the new information. At the same time, my friend Gillian was going to school at OCAD in Toronto and she was taking a class which focused on Typography so we spent lots of time chatting about different typefaces. Ever since then I have noticed the way words are written with curiousity and admiration. Typography is something you can never think about for your whole life but once you've learned the basics it becomes impossible to ignore.

I was sitting on the dock enjoying the sunshine the other day when I noticed an interesting typographical choice in lettering on the boat. Someone had obviously lost their lower case 'm' and needed to improvise. I'm sure very few people have noticed this detail but it made me smile, it's "make-do" logic.

My Camera Love-Affair

I'm pretty camera crazy these days since my old Nikon coolpix bit the dust. Sometimes I steal borrow Rysio's camera for a jaunt in the woods and Sam has graciously lent me his beautiful SLR from time to time since I've arrived in Algonquin. I even purchased a new 35mm manual adjustment Pentax from an antique store, aptly named Don's Junk (more on this later)!

One of my first loves was photography. I remember the first tiny camera my parents gave me. I took a photo of the Canadian flag at the post office, my sister in a white smocked dress and the Mink Creek waterfalls. From that point on I was pretty much inseparable from whatever camera I was using at the time. I have boxes and boxes of old photos and I've spent a small fortune on developing rolls of film with no regrets (ok there were a few regrets when full rolls of film came back blank).

In high school I learned to use the dark room which was covered in a layer of beggar's velvet (that is what us romantic hippies call dust). I rolled, processed, developed and printed my own black and white film. I really cherished my quiet mornings inside that dark, quiet closet - chemical smells and all.  I've always promised myself that one day I would build myself a little dark room once I was settled down in a place for more than a year.

But for now I settle for whatever I can get my hands on. Here are a few photographs I took with Sam's camera this week while a few of us hung out on the dock.

My Better Half

Last weekend I went to my cousin's wedding at a vineyard. When the couple said their vows a beautiful great blue heron flew over top of the wedding party and it was a pretty awe inspiring moment. It seemed so powerful and symbolic, definitely a good omen for the relationship.

I think everyone had an amazing time. It was great to spend time with my family who I don't see often enough. Needless to say, I've been pouring over photos - picking out favourites to print and share in emails.  I'm still learning to smile with braces on but overall I think we look like a pretty happy family!

Today I noticed something strange though. While my sister and I don't share taste in our aesthetic style, there is a remarkable similarity in some of our mannerisms and facial expressions. In two separate photos  we seem to be mirroring each other so closely it's uncanny. I thought I'd let you take a look and decide for yourselves (hint: in the first photo it's the pose of our legs and in the second photo we are both smiling with our eyes closed and our heads turned away from each other in the same way). 

I love Sophia so much more than I could ever explain and I feel blessed to have her in my life. I am quite the lucky girl to have the privilege of sharing a very sweet sister bond with her.  

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