A Starry Night

We’re less than a month away, folks! And nothing helps you get more in the Christmas spirit than doing some Christmas-y crafts (and baking, which is on the agenda for tomorrow!)

Like last year, I’m going to get a real tree for my apartment again. As I anxiously wait for Saturday to come which is when H&M Christmas Tree Farm opens for the season, I thought I would make a new ornament to add to my collection. Hence a trip to my favourite Vancouver art store I’ve mentioned before, Urban Source on Main Street.

I bought this wooden star for a few bucks and let my imagination take over.

IMG_0705I knew I wanted to decorate it with sheet music, so I traced the star on some old piano music of my mom’s that I’m not skilled enough to play, and cut out 2 pieces for 2 points of the star. I’m all about assymetry.

I definitely wanted to keep that red pencil crayon where a teacher had marked the decrescendo. It adds that much more character, don’t you think?

IMG_0707Before gluing the pieces down, I made the star pop with bright red paint.

IMG_0715Then I glued the pieces down and added a button in the middle, referencing my old-school hobby of sewing.

IMG_0720But I wasn’t completely satisfied. My star was missing something. Something to give it that extra sparkle. It needed some gold. So I asked the Artist, of course. He suggested using something called gold leaf instead of gold paint, which he just happened to have in his repertoire of art supplies. And so we had a Christmas crafting date.

IMG_0730If you’re wondering what gold leaf is, don’t worry, you’re not alone. I learned that it’s very thin paper that sticks like paint, but it’s not paint. You apply the glue (see photo above) with a paintbrush to the areas you want the gold leaf to stick, and then you let it dry for 10-15 minutes because you want it to be just sticky-enough for the paper to stick, but not overly wet that the paper gets soggy.

Here’s the best part: taking the tissue paper-thin leaf sheets out of the package, being careful not to blow, breathe, sneeze, or do anything that would risk creasing, tearing, or destroying it (and it doesn’t take much!) This is the most fragile material I’ve ever worked with. We placed the paper on top of the glue and used a paintbrush to seal it along the ridge.

IMG_0733Once the glue was all covered, we peeled away the excess paper, again using a paintbrush to sweep the remaining flecks & fragments away.

IMG_0738IMG_0735And voilà! It’s sealed on there like paint. The beauty (and frustration) with gold leaf is that it’s not neat & precise. It has that frayed-edge look, but I actually quite like it. And I think the gold gives it that extra something, wouldn’t you agree?

Now it just needs to a tree to hang from!

IMG_0749IMG_0746What are your favourite DIY Christmas crafts, ones you’ve done or ones you’d like to try?

The Giver

Tonight I finished reading The Giver by Lois Lowry for the first time. I know this book was on school reading lists when I was in elementary school, but I never remember reading it. Given the recent movie that’s come out about it, I thought it would be a good time to give it a go.

the-giver-movie-trailerIt’s a brilliant concept, especially when you remember Lowry wrote it in 1993, before the new millennium even. The premise is that life in Jonas’s community is perfect. (read: controlled). Rules govern everything. There is a Council of Elders who decide on the rules & make decisions for the whole community. Who your match will be. Who your children will be, and you only get 1 boy and 1 girl. What you do with your time. How often, how much, and when you eat. A society where everyone blends in. A community made up of Nurturers and Labourers and Birthmothers and Doctors and Engineers and Instructors and so on.

And one Receiver.

The Receiver is the only person in the community who knows of life before and beyond Jonas’s community. This person is the only person is a Receiver of Memories, who has memories of something outside their community of Sameness. The Receiver is given the “honour” of holding all the memories for the entire community—joyful ones and tragic ones; beautiful ones and brutal ones. Memories of colour, family, love, sunshine, snow, broken bones, hunger, poverty, loss, neglect, warfare. The community doesn’t want to feel real feelings. Because they don’t want to feel pain, they also protect themselves from feeling love & joy & delight. But they know someone has to remember what this is like, to ask for his counsel from time to time. Hence the Receiver. The lonely Receiver.

The event that launches the book’s plot is the Ceremony of Twelves in December where Jonas, along with all the other Elevens-turning-Twelves, receives his Assignment about his job in the community. His was a rare appointment.

Jonas is selected as the next Receiver. The current Receiver (called The Giver) transfers his memories to Jonas, and now Jonas carries them. What does he do with them, with his newfound knowledge? That’s why you have to read the book!

It’s a beautiful story, so poignant with similarities to our world. And written so simply and accessibly. It was definitely a page-turner, and even at the very end, I was wanting more. I was wanting to find out what happens to the community. That’s where I wish we could have a third-person omniscient narrator. But I also like that we’re left to imagine it. The worst are books that give too much away in their conclusions.

I’ve watched the trailer for the film but don’t know if I’ll see the movie. Now after reading it, I can already tell the movie veers quite substantially from the original. Jonas & Fiona are seen kissing & having a much more intimate relationship than they do in the book. The daily injections come in the form of pills, and Jonas never counsels Fiona to skip one. And Jonas doesn’t tell anyone about his training as the Receiver, or what he’s learned of life beyond.

I wonder if the screenwriter added these scenes to make it more exciting, more plot-driven, more filmable? It’s interesting to consider Lowry’s words in the prologue, reflecting on 20 years since its publication:

If I had written The Giver this year, there would have been no gulp. Maybe a yawn, at most. Ho-hum. In so many recent dystopian novels (and there are exactly that: so many), societies battle and characters die hideously and whole civilizations crumble. None of that in The Giver. It was introspective. Quiet. Short on Action.

“Introspective, quiet, and short on action” translates to “tough to film.” Katniss Everdeen gets to kill off countless adolescent competitors in various ways during The Hunger Games; that’s exciting movie fare. It sells popcorn. Jonas, riding a bike and musing about his future? Not so much. Although the film rights to The Giver were snapped up early on, it moved forward in spurts and stops for years, as screenplay after screenplay–none of them by me–was commissioned, written, and discarded.

Despite the all-star cast including Jeff Bridges & Meryl Streep, the movie didn’t do well at the box office. Maybe if it had stuck closer to the original script, more The Giver fans would have given it a shot? What are your thoughts?

 

A Walk in the Gardens

I work in Surrey now, and when the weather’s cooperating (which hasn’t been too often), I like to eat lunch outside and explore my new surroundings.

Here’s what I encountered when I walked through Bear Creek Gardens the other day, on the afternoon of the Bear Creek Park Garden Light Festival.

I spied with my little eye a chapel in the woods.

Chapel in the Woods 1

I went closer to see if it was really what I thought it was. Indeed.

IMG_0631I would love to go to church in the woods!

IMG_0635 - Version 2My walking then led me to this labyrinth of paper cups filled with dirt (I’m guessing so they wouldn’t blow away). I wonder what they were used for.

IMG_0637IMG_0638IMG_0640A lot of the tree decorations were shielded from the elements.

IMG_0641The colour of these autumn trees, combined with the Japanese ornaments, was absolutely stunning.

IMG_0645IMG_0647IMG_0654IMG_0657IMG_0658IMG_0655So many hidden treasures in these gardens, including this pink bicycle.IMG_0663It would have been beautiful to see these decorations all lit up at night. Perhaps it looked something like this:

starry_light_festival

The Results Are In!

Well, readers . . . we did it!

Tonight, the news landed in my inbox that my story, “Living Bigger, Looking Closer” won 2nd place and $500 in a local Vancouver writing contest! I am thrilled and so thankful for all your help in voting for my story over these past 2 months. It’s been quite the wait to see how it would all turn out, and this is a terrific ending to the story.

Thank you for being a BIG part of this process. It’s been really wonderful to share it with you.

And while I’m giving you an update about the contest, I’ll also mention that for those of you wondering if the We Make Stuff book my boyfriend is featured in will be going to press, YES! The final dollars came in at the eleventh hour. Thanks to all of you who contributed to that as well. You can check out a behind-the-scenes video of the book being printed at the printers from their website (and order your copy if you haven’t yet!)

So as you can probably imagine, it’s been a great couple weeks for the two of us with our creative pursuits.

Now I find myself asking, “What will I write next?”

My Vancouver

Vancouver, my muse

 

 

A Poem for Peggy’s Cove

Evening drive to Peggy’s Cove. Bright green houses and Adriondack chairs. Picture by the water before the sun says goodnight. Watch light disappear, fall in love with the way ocean splashes rock splashes me. Get lost in rugged mist of east coast bliss. Where there is beauty, there is danger. My friends and I, precariously close to the edge. Always sitting by the edge. How much we know each other by our silhouettes. Black against oranges, pinks, and blues, there’s something about these summer hues. Hot tea in thermos, sipping warmth, wiggling our toes. Hair all over the place. Let it fly with the wind. Let me be still and feel everything.

IMG_9081 - Version 2IMG_9082IMG_9090IMG_9093IMG_9100IMG_9105IMG_9103IMG_9099

Story Update: Keep Voting!

Dear readers,

This is a quick update to let you know the status of the story I submitted to a local Vancouver writing contest that I posted in early September. The good news: I made it into the top 10 thanks to your votes! I know some of you have been tremendously faithful in voting for it every day. Like, literally every day. That means a lot!

So the voting isn’t over yet though. The semifinalists have until Oct 30 to get more votes for our stories, and then the top 3 will be revealed. I hope your stamina for voting isn’t exhausted yet . . . just another 2 weeks, we can do this!

Here’s the new link to my story where you can vote for it once a day.

You guys are the best!
~Charlene