Monday, December 28, 2009

I dream in puppets... and a Book of Ballads...

Ok, I don't really dream in puppets, if you are thinking that I am meaning the sleeping kind of dreaming. I often sit and ponder, I have my comfy rocking chair by my book shelf & faerie garden, facing the direction of the fireplace. It's lovely to sit there with a wee cup of mead, my book, the candles on, and watch the log in the fireplace burn merrily away. I will read my books for a while, then drift off in thought, eventually falling into day dream. This is where I dream in puppets.

I have this recent thirst to create giant puppets; and when I say giant, I mean the kind that are around 10 feet high. I have no experience building puppets, but I have a book from the Bread & Puppets society that has some instructions on the many kinds of giant puppets that one can build. Actually it was quite interesting because this thurst of mine started right before Bread & Puppets came to town. Not to say that I have not always loved puppets but the interest in building them is very recent.

Even though puppets are man-crafted and there is really nothing magickal about them except for the performer who brings them to life; I still find giant puppets to have a majestic presence about them that gives me a sense of magick. I can best describe this feeling being a sense of "anything can happen", there is more here then meets the eye.

I have a love of old traditional music from any culture, but in terms of my own singing, I am fond of singing Irish & Scottish traditionals. So I have been toying with ideas about how I can combine all of my interests & skills in one project. I also have alot of creative writing on the back burner, most of it abstract poetry that I keep thinking could make fun performance material. Often I have thought I would like to organize a performance utilizing my work, something with a touch of theatre and circus. But it is challenging to organize anything that involves more then one person and especially if it requires skill, and more so, especially if you want people to collaborate or volunteer. Most of my collaborators are very very busy and their focus, understandably so, is on paid contracts, which are often full time.

So the giant puppets open up some more doors. I have been thinking about doing a short piece to begin with, and there has been some discussion with my friend/collaborator, Marie Dietlin, about doing a stop motion-photography-film project together involving the puppets, body painting & 3-D art, but we have yet to settle on an idea & story. We want the final product to be around 2 minutes.

So I was sitting in my rocking chair in front of my fire reading one of my new books, the "Book of Ballads", it is a collaboration between some of my favourite authors and artists. Charles Vess spearheaded this book; his idea was to make a small comic book series based off of traditional folk ballads. The authors who have contributed to this book are Charles De Lint, Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, Jeff Smith, Emma Bull, Sharyn McCrumb and more. There is a historical introduction by Terri Windling that is extremely interesting, so much so that I could write an entirely seperate blog posting off that introduction alone (and perhaps at some point I will). Oh yes and there is this excellent list of musicians the authors were listening to while creating their part of the collaboration. The artwork that Charles Vess has created for this book is lovely and stimulating for my imagination.

The Book of Ballads is highly worth reading, especially if you love Irish music, and I do. It also got me thinking further about a pre-exsisting idea I had for the puppets and what direction I wish to head with those puppets. I had already been thinking to do something influenced by old mythology and legends, but it had never crossed my mind to base the puppets off one of my favorite old traditional songs, and this book has the wheels turning in my head that this might be a fun idea, perhaps even for the stop motion film... hhhmmmm....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Solstice! Merry Christmas! Happy Yuletide! Happy Hanukkah!

I have some mixed feelings about Christmas. It started with the shock I experienced at the age of 10 when I realized I had been duped; Santa-Claus isn't real! All those years spent looking out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of good old saint nick flying through the sky with his reindeer! So sad was I when I realized Santa-Claus isn't real!!

One of my reasons for having mixed feelings about this holiday is I feel like it was taught to me out of obligation. It almost seems really fake because the public don't invent their own traditions, they follow, at this point, either a religious or commercial auto-pilot program. The idea of not filling the house with red/green decorations and either a fake or dying pine-tree, is not something most people consider. What with the pressures to "shop till you drop", often spending horrendous amounts of money on trying to express either one's love or one's duty through gifts. There is also the environment to take into consideration; on one hand, cards & wrapping paper is a lot of fun, but it isn't environmentally friendly.

For myself, I have had an interest in studying world religions since I was about 11 years old and it was about at that point that I declared I was not a Christian. I call myself a "non-denominational spiritualist".

I have decided at this point that what I like about Christmas, Solstice, Yule-tide, Hanukkah and any other religious celebrations that happen at this time of the year is what they have in common.

I now enjoy taking the time of giving thanks year round, but I do also pay some extra attention to gratitude during the winter festivities. I enjoy sharing both with strangers and loved ones alike. To give gifts that have meaning, often hand-crafted. If I decorate, I like to choose decorations that I personally identify with, often drawing from nature or old world influences. I love gatherings and I love music (however, the majority of Christmas music sets my teeth on edge).

Historically speaking, Christmas is derived mostly from 4 sources. A Germanic pagan religious celebration called Yule or Yuletide. Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year which celebrated the coming light as the days would grow longer again. A roman holiday called "Sol Invictus". Of course the birth (although some argue it's the conception) of Jesus and Christmastide.

Yuletide Arts & Crafts Fair!
This year I participated in the pagan community's arts & crafts fair at Melange Magick. Take a look at the video journal I created: (also includes brief history of Christmas)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I am a very open minded sort of person and I enjoy connecting with people from all walks of life. Hitch-hiking is something I have a lot of experience with, which I feel is a bit of a taboo subject, which in and of itself, can make it more dangerous then it needs to be.

Old childhood friends, who are now parents, contacted me recently over the concern for the 18 year old brother who had not been heard from for a 24 hour period while hitch-hiking in northern BC on highways that have a reputation for people going missing. Those circumstances were unique and I won't go into those details, the brother did show up safe, but due to some of the folly that nearly cost him dearly, I felt maybe it would be appropriate for me to speak up as an experienced hitch-hiker.

Popular belief has it that hitch hiking is dangerous, and this is true, but it's actually a lot safer then what popular belief would have you believe, especially if you know the do's and don'ts of the road. Popular belief is largely based off of what we see on the news and is being perpetuated by the inexperienced, most people who teach their kids not to hitch-hike have never done it. Therefore it gives a very fear based slant with little information available about when hitch-hiking goes right.

Truth be told, I believe there is alot more positive stories out there that just aren't being spoken about because of the taboo nature of hitch-hiking. It might surprise you to know that it's very few people who actually have problems on the road compared to the amount of people who successfully hitch-hike without an issue.

I started hitch-hiking when I was 23 with the boyfriend I was dating at the time. Up until that point, I had always sworn I would never hitch-hike. But a family emergency came up for my boyfriend, and it became the only choice for getting from Kelowna to Nanaimo, BC. From that point forward, I gradually begin to hitch-hike more and more. Once I left that relationship, I started hitch-hiking small distances alone, mainly around the coast of BC but sometimes up around the Okanagan. Once out here in the east of Canada, I did quite a bit of hitch-hiking between Montreal and Toronto and one trip out to PEI from Montreal.

When I was 27, I did my 1st cross Canada hitch-hiking trip. First from Montreal to the Sunshine Coast, BC, then around BC and eventually back to Montreal. Going to BC it took 8 days and I was travelling with a tall Russian man, a friend of mine who wanted to ensure I would be safe. Coming back to Montreal I did half of the trip with a girlfriend, and the other half alone; this took a total of 3 days.

Why hitch-hike?
The trick is calculated risks. I have no regrets, but I also have entered each of my hitch-hiking experiences with the willingness to have full responsibility for my actions and whatever outcome there may be. The way I see it is everything in life can potentially be dangerous, we face danger on a regular basis, although I am sure we don't always realize it. I have hitch-hiked in the past because it enabled me to do something I did not otherwise have the resources to achieve.

Who picks up?
I have been picked up by families, old timers and single people. I realize it helps that I am a girl, many people view me as less threatening then a man so it opens up more options for me. The most common thing I have heard while hitch-hiking are the following comments:

"I couldn't bear the thought that you would get picked up by the wrong person."

"I used to do a lot of hitch-hiking back in the day, but now I am financially well off and want to return the favour."

"I have kids so I look at you as potentially one of my children, the more good people who pick up, the less likely a hitch-hiker will get picked up by a bad person."

"When I was a youngster, there were no buses, and hitch-hiking was normal. I want to return the favour."

"I have never picked up before, but I wanted to make sure you got safely to your destination."

"I am doing a long haul and wanted someone to talk to as it helps keep me awake."

"I have a long way to go and wouldn't mind some company."

How to safely hitch-hike:

1) Pick one person who will monitor your journey and keep in touch with that person as much as possible. Every opportunity you can access a phone (or better yet, bring a cell phone), phone and check in your progress, tell them where you plan to be hitching from, what highway etc, and where you are headed.

2) Try to have a friend to hitch-hike with, as much as possible, avoid hitch-hiking alone.

3) Know the environment, certain places are going to be safer then others. If you are hitching long distance, talk to an experienced hitch-hiker and find out what routes are more hitch-hiker friendly and avoid highways that may have an unusually high rate of missing persons.

4) Never get into a ride without talking to the driver first. Make eye contact. Ask them where they are going, why they have decided to offer you a ride. Anything to stall, so you can try to get a feel for who are dealing with and what their intentions are. Listen to your intuition; if it doesn't feel right, if you are hesitant, don't be afraid to say no. Saying no is ok and a good idea sometimes; just be polite but be firm. Someone who starts to be insistent that you should take the ride is definitely someone you should say no to, because someone who does not have ill intent will not care if you take the ride.

5) Learn to read people. I find that your first reaction/response, is the right one. Really good people you can feel that they are good people when you look in their eyes, you just know. But people who fit into the gray, there are many reasons it may not be clear. There are so many good people on the road that it isn't necessary to take a ride you are not sure about.

Bad people are obvious or will appear "grey", but a bad person will never appear to be a good person. If there is anything sketchy about a person, say no. I have seen alot of people make bad judgement calls that I saw coming, tried to warn the person but they didn't listen, largely because they did not know how to read people. Learn to read people.

6) Pick the right location. Ideally this will be somewhere public, near a gas-station, better yet, right in front of the gas station but this is only possible if the gas-station is really close to the highway as it will be the last stop for many travelers before they hit the road. If this is not possible, then go to the on ramp, just where the on ramp is about to merge with the traffic on the highway there is usually a large area appropriate for pulling over safely (remember safety must always come first for both you and the driver so think like a driver, where would you pull over if you were picking up a hitch-hiker?).

7) Have a large, bright sign painted/drawn that says the name of your next destination; this will make being picked up much much quicker then if you only use your thumb. Keep in mind alot people are not paying attention to hitch-hikers, usually due to their visibility, this will make you more eye catching but will also improve visibility for safety reasons (this will reduce the chances of being hit by a car).

Also wear light/bright colours for the same reasons as above.

8) Try to keep a smile on your face and look like you are having fun, even if it's taking a long time. People won't pick up if you yourself look negative in any way.

9) Don't hitch-hike at night. Good people generally won't pick up at night (unless you decide to be bold and stand in front of the walking traffic going in and out of a Tim Horton's near the highway) because they can't see who they are dealing with, so your chances of getting picked up by the wrong people at night is high. If you are stuck somewhere at dusk or nightfall, go pull an all nighter at a Tim Horton's, as long as you have a tea in your hand, they dont' care how long you are there and often they will turn a blind eye to a traveller (the big back-pack gives it away), even if you are sleeping with your head on the table. Or travel with a tent & sleeping bag and find a discrete place off the side of the highway to sleep.

10) Ideally try to have at least $100 emergency money on you as you never know what you might need.

11) Be grateful with your rides as they are not obliged to pick you up; you want this to be a positive experience and so be careful to leave a lasting positive impression. Be sincere, honest and take an interest in the person who picks you up.

12) Understand you are taking a risk and be mentally prepared to take full responsibility for that risk.

13) Make sure your intentions are clear with yourself, IE "I choose to be safe and reach my destination safely". This will program your psychology which in turn will help you subconsciously make a safe choice. If you are scared, don't go to the road until you are calm and ready to face this challenge. Like is attracted to like and hitch-hiking will show you this. When I have hitch-hiked scared, all the people who stopped were people I ended up needing to say no to. When I have hitch-hiked confident and happy, the people I attract are usually very positive people who it has proven to be safe to take rides with.

14) Set your intentions. Listen to your intuition.

Be wise, Be Safe!!
That's all I can think of for now to share with you about how to hitch-hike safely; I have been very successful as a safe hitch-hiker. If I think of anything else, I will update this post.

If you are planning to hitch-hike but have never done so but have any questions I have not already answered, don't be afraid to leave a comment as I will be happy to answer your questions.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Years Eve - Body Art

Book your private appointment now to get some face or body art done for your New Years Eve celebrations!
$1.50 per minute

Conveniant Location, close to Lucien L'Allier Metro or Guy-Concordia Metro.

Email to discuss details:
or 514-243-4315

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New projects...

Howdy folks...

I have been so busy over the past two months, while actually life is like that regardless, but it's been intense enough to not allow me time to keep my blog as updated. One of the projects I just recently finished is for a friend of mine, Gillian Pritchert. Her mother is a talented poet, Milly Leonara, in England who has recently published her first book. Take a look: