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Comment on Tangled Garden

Since Tangled Garden, a triptych of earth poems, spans 30 years of poetry writing, and took 9 months to video, edit, subtitle, with more blood, sweat and tears than I like to recall, I continue to post comments, and responses to it. It is a major piece of work for me, and so far, if only one of my videopoems remains, I would like it to be this one.

Bent Lorentzen's comment, in a post where, mostly, I defended my videopoem, caused tears of gratitude. I shall not try to summarize his comment; rather, present here in full.


Oh my, you take me to so many places with this, Brenda, literally and figuratively. And when you talk directly to The Great Mother Earth, well into the video, you even evoked a totally unexpected tear from me.

I've seen pieces of this as you shared them in the production. What a mesmerizing journey, into your soul, and the soul of us all. Brenda, this full-length product evokes all sorts of deep emotions, some primitively-emergent tribal, some divine, as if there is a difference. It's very rare that a video this long can hold the viewer so well, but you do it masterfully with an integrated visual and auditory tension, and gentle releases, that are never too much or little, but just right... a single ancient tree with many branches and deep roots, each with their specific nuances, integrated in layers out to the cosmos and deep into the primal. I can only imagine the time and deep patient work you've put into this.

And you invoke humor: "We are told quite succinctly, to stay away from dreams and poetry. Moreover, natural is unnatural... creepy and viney, you scare us, heavy and pendulous, not at all like a laurel tree..." - the metaphors are outstanding!

Oh, the layers in this, the colors, the shadows and light, I haven’t enough vocabulary to describe the sheer exquisiteness of experiencing this multimedia experience. If I were back in my college days, with a half Cherokee philosopher who guided a couple of acid trips, including one with Walt Disney's Fantasia, I would be beyond the beyond into a most wonderful trip from this film. But I am a well grounded shaman in my own right now, deep in the roots of the planet, and already in the cosmos of my highest most subtle heart, so your work, Brenda, is nothing short of, excuse the redundancy, a masterpiece.

It is worth anyone's time to feel, I mean really F-E-E-L to the core, every single dripping dewy, sunshine bright, moonlight shadowy, archetype-inducing moment of this video. And it holds and expresses so many subtle little clues which reflect back upon the viewer... so my advice to any potential viewer is don't take you eyes or attentions away from any of its unique moments, for you will gain insight from, again excuse the redundancy, you will gain insight from this holistic audio-visual presentation.

As you can see, Brenda, I can't praise it enough, and am lost for words.

So drink it up sober like me, to get drunk in the Rumi way, or drink it up in any other way, you will be not only entertained but wiser from the experience.

And what a spine-chilling powerful finale, and I won't even describe it. That's for other viewers to experience

Thank you, Brenda, for making this. I'm going to dream well tonight.


direct link: Tangled Garden


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Celestial Dancer III


Celestial Dancer III, 2012, 24"x30", 61cm x 76cm, oils, acrylic inks on canvas.

This painting was worked on in 4 successive stages over 8 years. The figure was sketched on the canvas in 2004, and first painted in early 2005 - when the background was done and the figure roughed in. In 2009, the figure received more definition. Celestial Dancer III was completed, 8 years after it was begun, with slashes of permanent blue ink (two days ago, she is still fresh). She hangs on my living room wall, where already she has received compliments from visitors. I am fairly shocked, and delighted, that this painting is finished!



Blue Blood. If you don't bleed, is it art? :laughs: 




On October 21, 2009, I wrote in my blog:


When this painting is a little drier, I'll work on the details - though surprisingly if cropped a bit it looks almost finished now. It was not easy to come back to this figure when I have let her sit in storage and my rooms here and in Vancouver unfinished for 5 years. With courage and force of will, I began to complete it. First I tried painting her on an easel, which  perhaps isn't my style in that I probably dance over the work as I am painting. A quick trip out to purchase 2 yards of thick clear plastic at Honest Ed's, the kind for tables in Italian restaurants, would protect my living room floor. I placed it on the floor, with a little prayer that neither my cat nor my dog would inadvertently wander over the painting space, the canvas surface of wet oils, along with a long piece of unused canvas on the side in case of spills, and shone a clamp lamp with a daylight bulb on the area. And then carefully laid the painting flat and wetted it and painted from the tube with fingers and washes with a large thick brush and oh solitary dramatics in an attempt to feel my way into the movement of the dance, her moment of stillness... she is graceful, beautiful, I don't know if that comes across. Hope so! 




On the upper left photo in the collage, I wrote in my Xanga blog (on January 4, 2005):

Despite the gloom of earlier, I moved my art supplies into the little unheated kitchen (an add on to the original house), that wire up front a makeshift dog gate, and my studio heater, which warmed me up marvelously, hang the 1600 watt usage, sat looking at the canvas, as I did yesterday for hours, and couldn't begin, and, you know, wept for long while, entered into a zen state, and squished paint around for maybe 20 or 30 minutes, and now I have the first, most difficult layer...


The drawing on the canvas, with a 2B pencil (shown with a Sepia photo filter), in 2004.


A loose sketch (2004), 14" x 17", India ink and watercolour pencils, which you can see in the collage.


Original sketch with a Photoshop filter.


The original sketch in 2004, 14" x 17", graphite and ball point pen (an after thought, and thankfully the ink has faded out). My brother had this drawing professionally framed and I have to admit, it looks good on the wall in his apartment.

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A tunic from a dress: re-formatting the 90s

For about a year and a half, I have been following a blog called New Dress A Day by Marisa Lynch (she will have a book out in Oct). Marisa was out of work a few years ago. She loved fashion. She wanted to do something creative. So she decided to take used clothes, that she bought at Salvation Army, Goodwill, Thrift stores, etc., and give them new life. Her only restriction was that she could spend no more than $1.00 per item per day. It was a great year, I tell you. She did some amazing transformations. Since that year, she has either posted other people's finds and fittings, or, sporadically, her own. She not only snips and sews, but dyes, glue-guns, and once even made a cool purse out of 1980s shoulder pads!

Below is a dress that sat in a corner for 6 months awaiting the 'Marisa Treatment.' I loved this dress, originally bought at 'La Cache' (now Cornell Trading) on sale. It was a sheer rayon dress, and way too big for me, not only in the 90s style, but a(n overly generous) medium size. No, no - it's not a 'fat' dress, I was always the weight I am... it's only ironed. I used to love dancing in it, having it swirl about me.

On the night that we went to the superb Paul's Spaghetti, which was my niece's Christmas gift to us and where she is the only waitress, I realized I had nothing to wear. Oh ha. A few hours later, I had finally reformatted the dress. I took it in by 20" - 10" on each side! After cutting it to shorten it into a tunic top, my daughter grabbed the left-over and said she was going to make it into a scarf. The print really is nice, as is that red.

These photos weren't so good, so I played in Camera+, being too lazy to ask anyone for another photo shoot.


Before... bought maybe in 1997 or so, I used to wear it over a danskin for dancing at Sweat Your Prayers, which was a weekly venue in Toronto in those days, or with a belt over a black silk slip. Loved the dress, and fabric, and could not bring myself to throw it out, though with sleeker current styles it seemed like a tent dress and unwearable.


Snip, snip! (and the real colour!)

And now a great little tunic top, which I can wear with tights and a black skirt, or with my velvet leggings, or a pair of skinny jeans. Dressed up here with some dangly jewelry and my red Venetian glass beads, and a belt, I'm on my way out to hear Paris Black sing at The Unicorn (last Sat night) with a bunch of friends.



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The Yoga of Fasting

In the 1990s, I used to fast one day a week, as recommended in the yoga I do (and used to teach), and, while it was hard the first couple of weeks, once it became a habit, it seemed to increase my overall energy, not just physically but emotionally.

Once a year or so I also used to go to my cottage alone and fast for 3 days, water only, no food. The days following the 3 day fast were, I recall, radiant.

When I fasted, it had nothing to do with my weight - I did not want to lose weight, it was more of a spiritual quest.

Fasting on a regular basis for a short while, a day, a 24 hour period, seems, from the article copied in below, a very healthy thing to do.

I wonder if I can manage to fast one day a week again?

Not going to try immediately, but I will mull it over and give it a go in a few weeks. If you're going to do this, and have never fasted deliberately, teach your body to fast slowly. Choose one day a week to fast. Begin with a morning only, then eat normally for the rest of the day. The next week go from waking to dinner without any food - do drink lots of fluids of course. Following that, the next week try to fast from waking to bedtime, and if you can't sleep because you're hungry, have a snack. By the fourth week, you should be able to make it through a day of abstinence from food to a great breakfast the next day.

Fasting can help protect against brain diseases, scientists say
Claim that giving up almost all food for one or two days a week can counteract impact of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
Fasting can help protect against brain diseases, scientists say
A vertical slice through the brain of a patient with Alzheimer's, left, compared with a normal brain, right. Photograph: Alfred Pasieka/Science Photo Library
Fasting for regular periods could help protect the brain against degenerative illnesses, according to US scientists.

Researchers at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore said they had found evidence which shows that periods of stopping virtually all food intake for one or two days a week could protect the brain against some of the worst effects of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other ailments.

"Reducing your calorie intake could help your brain, but doing so by cutting your intake of food is not likely to be the best method of triggering this protection. It is likely to be better to go on intermittent bouts of fasting, in which you eat hardly anything at all, and then have periods when you eat as much as you want," said Professor Mark Mattson, head of the institute's laboratory of neurosciences.

"In other words, timing appears to be a crucial element to this process," Mattson told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver.

Cutting daily food intake to around 500 calories – which amounts to little more than a few vegetables and some tea – for two days out of seven had clear beneficial effects in their studies, claimed Mattson, who is also professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Scientists have known for some time that a low-calorie diet is a recipe for longer life. Rats and mice reared on restricted amounts of food increase their lifespan by up to 40%. A similar effect has been noted in humans. But Mattson and his team have taken this notion further. They argue that starving yourself occasionally can stave off not just ill-health and early death but delay the onset of conditions affecting the brain, including strokes. "Our animal experiments clearly suggest this," said Mattson.

He and his colleagues have also worked out a specific mechanism by which the growth of neurones in the brain could be affected by reduced energy intakes. Amounts of two cellular messaging chemicals are boosted when calorie intake is sharply reduced, said Mattson. These chemical messengers play an important role in boosting the growth of neurones in the brain, a process that would counteract the impact of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

"The cells of the brain are put under mild stress that is analogous to the effects of exercise on muscle cells," said Mattson. "The overall effect is beneficial."

The link between reductions in energy intake and the boosting of cell growth in the brain might seem an unlikely one, but Mattson insisted that there were sound evolutionary reasons for believing it to be the case. "When resources became scarce, our ancestors would have had to scrounge for food," said Mattson. "Those whose brains responded best – who remembered where promising sources could be found or recalled how to avoid predators — would have been the ones who got the food. Thus a mechanism linking periods of starvation to neural growth would have evolved."

This model has been worked out using studies of fasting on humans and the resulting impact on their general health – even sufferers from asthma have shown benefits, said Mattson – and from experiments on the impact on the brains of animals affected by the rodent equivalent of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Now Mattson's team is preparing to study the impact of fasting on the brain by using MRI scans and other techniques.

If this final link can be established, Mattson said that a person could optimise his or her brain function by subjecting themselves to bouts of "intermittent energy restriction". In other words, they could cut their food intake to a bare minimum for two days a week, while indulging for the other five. "We have found that from a psychological point of view that works quite well. You can put up with having hardly any food for a day if you know that for the next five you can eat what you want."



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Tulips and Daffodils, Painting 4



Because the flowers, which I was given exactly a week ago, are ready for the compost, this is my last painting of these tulips and daffodils. It is quite abstract. Likely it's mostly finished, except for some minor tinkering maybe tomorrow.

Tulips and Daffodils #4, 12" x 16", acrylics, oils on canvas.




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Self-Portrait Study 3, a painting


Self-Portrait Study 3, 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2012, Moleskine folio Sketchbook, graphite, oils, India and acrylic inks.

In the Moleskine, the earlier sketch in this blog this month. (No, I never ever wear eyeliner like that, not in my whole life. Anyway, it's a self portrait that is its own painting and only has some resemblance to me.)

I wanted it to have something beyond itself, be piercing somehow, and even be hard to look at. Somewhat disheveled and distorted, a sadness there, the more difficult realities of our experience, I guess.

In the initial sketch, I wasn't trying to draw a 'self-portrait' for anyone else, only trying to draw what I saw in this little, round magnifying mirror that was somewhat distorting but at least I could see detail without readers. The woman in the sketch had a 'sad and stricken' look, as one commenter wrote.

In the finished painting you see here, in her eyes I hope there is  concern, compassion, fear, sadness, hope, love, remembrance, and the wild ride that life is, with its inexplicable ups and downs, its times of plenty and times of drought.

Leonard Cohen, in a CBC interview I heard last Sunday afternoon, spoke about how we are all, in one way or another, trying to align our will with Divine Will. I'd call the latter, fate, fortune, life, the way it goes, the Tao.

The woman in the painting is caught right in the crux of moment between individual will and that of the life force, aligning an acceptance of fate, of karma, of whatever the forces are, and perhaps learning that allowing the horror of the pain is an empowerment in itself.


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The Woman Who Is Not Quite Effaced


'The Woman Who Is Not Quite Effaced,' 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2012, Moleskine folio Sketchbook, graphite, acrylic, gel pen.

You might recognize the underlying sketch, which I never liked, and which I always intended to sweep paint over.

Yes, I am at a rather difficult juncture, where someone seems intent on effacing references to me and who ignores my best work, which has had an effect on not just me but other people who have noticed this exclusion, and so I was not able to participate in a writing group this January and have had to suspend posting my articles at VidPoFilm.

I am in discussion over the problems with a number of people, all of whom recommend suspending my articles until what to do becomes clearer.

This painting expresses, what do I call it, that attempt at effacement, but also that it will not work.


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Tulips and Daffodils, Painting 3

Tulips and Daffodils 3, 16" x 20", oils, acrylic ink on canvas.

When I came home last night and looked at this painting drying on the wall, I thought it 'too dark.' This morning I rubbed out a lot of the colour in the background, added some definition to the daffodils, some white ink lines to the the background energies.

The flowers were a gift last weekend, and I followed a hankering to paint them (by buying stretched canvases and covering my dining room table in plastic sheeting)- this is my third, and likely final, painting of the vase of beauties.


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Musa Sing: Of Dying Daffodils and Tulips

Tulips and Daffodils 3, 16" x 20", oils on canvas.

Wish I'd taken a photo of the underlying sketch because I liked it. This painting works, I know it does. But it is not 'neat' or 'tidy' or very well contained. It is on the edge of oblivion. A floral swan song. The flowers are dying, the flowers are dying...

...magnificently.

The drive to abstraction is causing emotional distress (you should be glad you didn't see), but every attempt I make to bring the flowers to my usual dance between drawing and painting results in a decrease of energy on the canvas, and so I must respect the muse, and let the musa sing...


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Happy Lupercalia! (day of fertility)



Wishing you,
yeah, a day of LOVE,
pure, trusting, unjaundiced,
authentic, free, catchy-in-
your-bootstraps love, like go
make ART


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Comment on Tangled Garden

Since Tangled Garden, a triptych of earth poems, spans 30 years of poetry writing, and took 9 months to video, edit, subtitle, with more blood, sweat and tears than I like to recall, I continue to post comments, and responses to it. It is a major piece of work for me, and so far, if only one of my videopoems remains, I would like it to be this one.

Bent Lorentzen's comment, in a post where, mostly, I defended my videopoem, caused tears of gratitude. I shall not try to summarize his comment; rather, present here in full.


Oh my, you take me to so many places with this, Brenda, literally and figuratively. And when you talk directly to The Great Mother Earth, well into the video, you even evoked a totally unexpected tear from me.

I've seen pieces of this as you shared them in the production. What a mesmerizing journey, into your soul, and the soul of us all. Brenda, this full-length product evokes all sorts of deep emotions, some primitively-emergent tribal, some divine, as if there is a difference. It's very rare that a video this long can hold the viewer so well, but you do it masterfully with an integrated visual and auditory tension, and gentle releases, that are never too much or little, but just right... a single ancient tree with many branches and deep roots, each with their specific nuances, integrated in layers out to the cosmos and deep into the primal. I can only imagine the time and deep patient work you've put into this.

And you invoke humor: "We are told quite succinctly, to stay away from dreams and poetry. Moreover, natural is unnatural... creepy and viney, you scare us, heavy and pendulous, not at all like a laurel tree..." - the metaphors are outstanding!

Oh, the layers in this, the colors, the shadows and light, I haven’t enough vocabulary to describe the sheer exquisiteness of experiencing this multimedia experience. If I were back in my college days, with a half Cherokee philosopher who guided a couple of acid trips, including one with Walt Disney's Fantasia, I would be beyond the beyond into a most wonderful trip from this film. But I am a well grounded shaman in my own right now, deep in the roots of the planet, and already in the cosmos of my highest most subtle heart, so your work, Brenda, is nothing short of, excuse the redundancy, a masterpiece.

It is worth anyone's time to feel, I mean really F-E-E-L to the core, every single dripping dewy, sunshine bright, moonlight shadowy, archetype-inducing moment of this video. And it holds and expresses so many subtle little clues which reflect back upon the viewer... so my advice to any potential viewer is don't take you eyes or attentions away from any of its unique moments, for you will gain insight from, again excuse the redundancy, you will gain insight from this holistic audio-visual presentation.

As you can see, Brenda, I can't praise it enough, and am lost for words.

So drink it up sober like me, to get drunk in the Rumi way, or drink it up in any other way, you will be not only entertained but wiser from the experience.

And what a spine-chilling powerful finale, and I won't even describe it. That's for other viewers to experience

Thank you, Brenda, for making this. I'm going to dream well tonight.


direct link: Tangled Garden


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Celestial Dancer III


Celestial Dancer III, 2012, 24"x30", 61cm x 76cm, oils, acrylic inks on canvas.

This painting was worked on in 4 successive stages over 8 years. The figure was sketched on the canvas in 2004, and first painted in early 2005 - when the background was done and the figure roughed in. In 2009, the figure received more definition. Celestial Dancer III was completed, 8 years after it was begun, with slashes of permanent blue ink (two days ago, she is still fresh). She hangs on my living room wall, where already she has received compliments from visitors. I am fairly shocked, and delighted, that this painting is finished!



Blue Blood. If you don't bleed, is it art? :laughs: 




On October 21, 2009, I wrote in my blog:


When this painting is a little drier, I'll work on the details - though surprisingly if cropped a bit it looks almost finished now. It was not easy to come back to this figure when I have let her sit in storage and my rooms here and in Vancouver unfinished for 5 years. With courage and force of will, I began to complete it. First I tried painting her on an easel, which  perhaps isn't my style in that I probably dance over the work as I am painting. A quick trip out to purchase 2 yards of thick clear plastic at Honest Ed's, the kind for tables in Italian restaurants, would protect my living room floor. I placed it on the floor, with a little prayer that neither my cat nor my dog would inadvertently wander over the painting space, the canvas surface of wet oils, along with a long piece of unused canvas on the side in case of spills, and shone a clamp lamp with a daylight bulb on the area. And then carefully laid the painting flat and wetted it and painted from the tube with fingers and washes with a large thick brush and oh solitary dramatics in an attempt to feel my way into the movement of the dance, her moment of stillness... she is graceful, beautiful, I don't know if that comes across. Hope so! 




On the upper left photo in the collage, I wrote in my Xanga blog (on January 4, 2005):

Despite the gloom of earlier, I moved my art supplies into the little unheated kitchen (an add on to the original house), that wire up front a makeshift dog gate, and my studio heater, which warmed me up marvelously, hang the 1600 watt usage, sat looking at the canvas, as I did yesterday for hours, and couldn't begin, and, you know, wept for long while, entered into a zen state, and squished paint around for maybe 20 or 30 minutes, and now I have the first, most difficult layer...


The drawing on the canvas, with a 2B pencil (shown with a Sepia photo filter), in 2004.


A loose sketch (2004), 14" x 17", India ink and watercolour pencils, which you can see in the collage.


Original sketch with a Photoshop filter.


The original sketch in 2004, 14" x 17", graphite and ball point pen (an after thought, and thankfully the ink has faded out). My brother had this drawing professionally framed and I have to admit, it looks good on the wall in his apartment.

Comments (4)

A tunic from a dress: re-formatting the 90s

For about a year and a half, I have been following a blog called New Dress A Day by Marisa Lynch (she will have a book out in Oct). Marisa was out of work a few years ago. She loved fashion. She wanted to do something creative. So she decided to take used clothes, that she bought at Salvation Army, Goodwill, Thrift stores, etc., and give them new life. Her only restriction was that she could spend no more than $1.00 per item per day. It was a great year, I tell you. She did some amazing transformations. Since that year, she has either posted other people's finds and fittings, or, sporadically, her own. She not only snips and sews, but dyes, glue-guns, and once even made a cool purse out of 1980s shoulder pads!

Below is a dress that sat in a corner for 6 months awaiting the 'Marisa Treatment.' I loved this dress, originally bought at 'La Cache' (now Cornell Trading) on sale. It was a sheer rayon dress, and way too big for me, not only in the 90s style, but a(n overly generous) medium size. No, no - it's not a 'fat' dress, I was always the weight I am... it's only ironed. I used to love dancing in it, having it swirl about me.

On the night that we went to the superb Paul's Spaghetti, which was my niece's Christmas gift to us and where she is the only waitress, I realized I had nothing to wear. Oh ha. A few hours later, I had finally reformatted the dress. I took it in by 20" - 10" on each side! After cutting it to shorten it into a tunic top, my daughter grabbed the left-over and said she was going to make it into a scarf. The print really is nice, as is that red.

These photos weren't so good, so I played in Camera+, being too lazy to ask anyone for another photo shoot.


Before... bought maybe in 1997 or so, I used to wear it over a danskin for dancing at Sweat Your Prayers, which was a weekly venue in Toronto in those days, or with a belt over a black silk slip. Loved the dress, and fabric, and could not bring myself to throw it out, though with sleeker current styles it seemed like a tent dress and unwearable.


Snip, snip! (and the real colour!)

And now a great little tunic top, which I can wear with tights and a black skirt, or with my velvet leggings, or a pair of skinny jeans. Dressed up here with some dangly jewelry and my red Venetian glass beads, and a belt, I'm on my way out to hear Paris Black sing at The Unicorn (last Sat night) with a bunch of friends.



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The Yoga of Fasting

In the 1990s, I used to fast one day a week, as recommended in the yoga I do (and used to teach), and, while it was hard the first couple of weeks, once it became a habit, it seemed to increase my overall energy, not just physically but emotionally.

Once a year or so I also used to go to my cottage alone and fast for 3 days, water only, no food. The days following the 3 day fast were, I recall, radiant.

When I fasted, it had nothing to do with my weight - I did not want to lose weight, it was more of a spiritual quest.

Fasting on a regular basis for a short while, a day, a 24 hour period, seems, from the article copied in below, a very healthy thing to do.

I wonder if I can manage to fast one day a week again?

Not going to try immediately, but I will mull it over and give it a go in a few weeks. If you're going to do this, and have never fasted deliberately, teach your body to fast slowly. Choose one day a week to fast. Begin with a morning only, then eat normally for the rest of the day. The next week go from waking to dinner without any food - do drink lots of fluids of course. Following that, the next week try to fast from waking to bedtime, and if you can't sleep because you're hungry, have a snack. By the fourth week, you should be able to make it through a day of abstinence from food to a great breakfast the next day.

Fasting can help protect against brain diseases, scientists say
Claim that giving up almost all food for one or two days a week can counteract impact of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
Fasting can help protect against brain diseases, scientists say
A vertical slice through the brain of a patient with Alzheimer's, left, compared with a normal brain, right. Photograph: Alfred Pasieka/Science Photo Library
Fasting for regular periods could help protect the brain against degenerative illnesses, according to US scientists.

Researchers at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore said they had found evidence which shows that periods of stopping virtually all food intake for one or two days a week could protect the brain against some of the worst effects of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other ailments.

"Reducing your calorie intake could help your brain, but doing so by cutting your intake of food is not likely to be the best method of triggering this protection. It is likely to be better to go on intermittent bouts of fasting, in which you eat hardly anything at all, and then have periods when you eat as much as you want," said Professor Mark Mattson, head of the institute's laboratory of neurosciences.

"In other words, timing appears to be a crucial element to this process," Mattson told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver.

Cutting daily food intake to around 500 calories – which amounts to little more than a few vegetables and some tea – for two days out of seven had clear beneficial effects in their studies, claimed Mattson, who is also professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Scientists have known for some time that a low-calorie diet is a recipe for longer life. Rats and mice reared on restricted amounts of food increase their lifespan by up to 40%. A similar effect has been noted in humans. But Mattson and his team have taken this notion further. They argue that starving yourself occasionally can stave off not just ill-health and early death but delay the onset of conditions affecting the brain, including strokes. "Our animal experiments clearly suggest this," said Mattson.

He and his colleagues have also worked out a specific mechanism by which the growth of neurones in the brain could be affected by reduced energy intakes. Amounts of two cellular messaging chemicals are boosted when calorie intake is sharply reduced, said Mattson. These chemical messengers play an important role in boosting the growth of neurones in the brain, a process that would counteract the impact of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

"The cells of the brain are put under mild stress that is analogous to the effects of exercise on muscle cells," said Mattson. "The overall effect is beneficial."

The link between reductions in energy intake and the boosting of cell growth in the brain might seem an unlikely one, but Mattson insisted that there were sound evolutionary reasons for believing it to be the case. "When resources became scarce, our ancestors would have had to scrounge for food," said Mattson. "Those whose brains responded best – who remembered where promising sources could be found or recalled how to avoid predators — would have been the ones who got the food. Thus a mechanism linking periods of starvation to neural growth would have evolved."

This model has been worked out using studies of fasting on humans and the resulting impact on their general health – even sufferers from asthma have shown benefits, said Mattson – and from experiments on the impact on the brains of animals affected by the rodent equivalent of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Now Mattson's team is preparing to study the impact of fasting on the brain by using MRI scans and other techniques.

If this final link can be established, Mattson said that a person could optimise his or her brain function by subjecting themselves to bouts of "intermittent energy restriction". In other words, they could cut their food intake to a bare minimum for two days a week, while indulging for the other five. "We have found that from a psychological point of view that works quite well. You can put up with having hardly any food for a day if you know that for the next five you can eat what you want."



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Tulips and Daffodils, Painting 4



Because the flowers, which I was given exactly a week ago, are ready for the compost, this is my last painting of these tulips and daffodils. It is quite abstract. Likely it's mostly finished, except for some minor tinkering maybe tomorrow.

Tulips and Daffodils #4, 12" x 16", acrylics, oils on canvas.




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Self-Portrait Study 3, a painting


Self-Portrait Study 3, 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2012, Moleskine folio Sketchbook, graphite, oils, India and acrylic inks.

In the Moleskine, the earlier sketch in this blog this month. (No, I never ever wear eyeliner like that, not in my whole life. Anyway, it's a self portrait that is its own painting and only has some resemblance to me.)

I wanted it to have something beyond itself, be piercing somehow, and even be hard to look at. Somewhat disheveled and distorted, a sadness there, the more difficult realities of our experience, I guess.

In the initial sketch, I wasn't trying to draw a 'self-portrait' for anyone else, only trying to draw what I saw in this little, round magnifying mirror that was somewhat distorting but at least I could see detail without readers. The woman in the sketch had a 'sad and stricken' look, as one commenter wrote.

In the finished painting you see here, in her eyes I hope there is  concern, compassion, fear, sadness, hope, love, remembrance, and the wild ride that life is, with its inexplicable ups and downs, its times of plenty and times of drought.

Leonard Cohen, in a CBC interview I heard last Sunday afternoon, spoke about how we are all, in one way or another, trying to align our will with Divine Will. I'd call the latter, fate, fortune, life, the way it goes, the Tao.

The woman in the painting is caught right in the crux of moment between individual will and that of the life force, aligning an acceptance of fate, of karma, of whatever the forces are, and perhaps learning that allowing the horror of the pain is an empowerment in itself.


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Comment on Tangled Garden

Since Tangled Garden, a triptych of earth poems, spans 30 years of poetry writing, and took 9 months to video, edit, subtitle, with more blood, sweat and tears than I like to recall, I continue to post comments, and responses to it. It is a major piece of work for me, and so far, if only one of my videopoems remains, I would like it to be this one.

Bent Lorentzen's comment, in a post where, mostly, I defended my videopoem, caused tears of gratitude. I shall not try to summarize his comment; rather, present here in full.


Oh my, you take me to so many places with this, Brenda, literally and figuratively. And when you talk directly to The Great Mother Earth, well into the video, you even evoked a totally unexpected tear from me.

I've seen pieces of this as you shared them in the production. What a mesmerizing journey, into your soul, and the soul of us all. Brenda, this full-length product evokes all sorts of deep emotions, some primitively-emergent tribal, some divine, as if there is a difference. It's very rare that a video this long can hold the viewer so well, but you do it masterfully with an integrated visual and auditory tension, and gentle releases, that are never too much or little, but just right... a single ancient tree with many branches and deep roots, each with their specific nuances, integrated in layers out to the cosmos and deep into the primal. I can only imagine the time and deep patient work you've put into this.

And you invoke humor: "We are told quite succinctly, to stay away from dreams and poetry. Moreover, natural is unnatural... creepy and viney, you scare us, heavy and pendulous, not at all like a laurel tree..." - the metaphors are outstanding!

Oh, the layers in this, the colors, the shadows and light, I haven’t enough vocabulary to describe the sheer exquisiteness of experiencing this multimedia experience. If I were back in my college days, with a half Cherokee philosopher who guided a couple of acid trips, including one with Walt Disney's Fantasia, I would be beyond the beyond into a most wonderful trip from this film. But I am a well grounded shaman in my own right now, deep in the roots of the planet, and already in the cosmos of my highest most subtle heart, so your work, Brenda, is nothing short of, excuse the redundancy, a masterpiece.

It is worth anyone's time to feel, I mean really F-E-E-L to the core, every single dripping dewy, sunshine bright, moonlight shadowy, archetype-inducing moment of this video. And it holds and expresses so many subtle little clues which reflect back upon the viewer... so my advice to any potential viewer is don't take you eyes or attentions away from any of its unique moments, for you will gain insight from, again excuse the redundancy, you will gain insight from this holistic audio-visual presentation.

As you can see, Brenda, I can't praise it enough, and am lost for words.

So drink it up sober like me, to get drunk in the Rumi way, or drink it up in any other way, you will be not only entertained but wiser from the experience.

And what a spine-chilling powerful finale, and I won't even describe it. That's for other viewers to experience

Thank you, Brenda, for making this. I'm going to dream well tonight.


direct link: Tangled Garden


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Celestial Dancer III


Celestial Dancer III, 2012, 24"x30", 61cm x 76cm, oils, acrylic inks on canvas.

This painting was worked on in 4 successive stages over 8 years. The figure was sketched on the canvas in 2004, and first painted in early 2005 - when the background was done and the figure roughed in. In 2009, the figure received more definition. Celestial Dancer III was completed, 8 years after it was begun, with slashes of permanent blue ink (two days ago, she is still fresh). She hangs on my living room wall, where already she has received compliments from visitors. I am fairly shocked, and delighted, that this painting is finished!



Blue Blood. If you don't bleed, is it art? :laughs: 




On October 21, 2009, I wrote in my blog:


When this painting is a little drier, I'll work on the details - though surprisingly if cropped a bit it looks almost finished now. It was not easy to come back to this figure when I have let her sit in storage and my rooms here and in Vancouver unfinished for 5 years. With courage and force of will, I began to complete it. First I tried painting her on an easel, which  perhaps isn't my style in that I probably dance over the work as I am painting. A quick trip out to purchase 2 yards of thick clear plastic at Honest Ed's, the kind for tables in Italian restaurants, would protect my living room floor. I placed it on the floor, with a little prayer that neither my cat nor my dog would inadvertently wander over the painting space, the canvas surface of wet oils, along with a long piece of unused canvas on the side in case of spills, and shone a clamp lamp with a daylight bulb on the area. And then carefully laid the painting flat and wetted it and painted from the tube with fingers and washes with a large thick brush and oh solitary dramatics in an attempt to feel my way into the movement of the dance, her moment of stillness... she is graceful, beautiful, I don't know if that comes across. Hope so! 




On the upper left photo in the collage, I wrote in my Xanga blog (on January 4, 2005):

Despite the gloom of earlier, I moved my art supplies into the little unheated kitchen (an add on to the original house), that wire up front a makeshift dog gate, and my studio heater, which warmed me up marvelously, hang the 1600 watt usage, sat looking at the canvas, as I did yesterday for hours, and couldn't begin, and, you know, wept for long while, entered into a zen state, and squished paint around for maybe 20 or 30 minutes, and now I have the first, most difficult layer...


The drawing on the canvas, with a 2B pencil (shown with a Sepia photo filter), in 2004.


A loose sketch (2004), 14" x 17", India ink and watercolour pencils, which you can see in the collage.


Original sketch with a Photoshop filter.


The original sketch in 2004, 14" x 17", graphite and ball point pen (an after thought, and thankfully the ink has faded out). My brother had this drawing professionally framed and I have to admit, it looks good on the wall in his apartment.

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A tunic from a dress: re-formatting the 90s

For about a year and a half, I have been following a blog called New Dress A Day by Marisa Lynch (she will have a book out in Oct). Marisa was out of work a few years ago. She loved fashion. She wanted to do something creative. So she decided to take used clothes, that she bought at Salvation Army, Goodwill, Thrift stores, etc., and give them new life. Her only restriction was that she could spend no more than $1.00 per item per day. It was a great year, I tell you. She did some amazing transformations. Since that year, she has either posted other people's finds and fittings, or, sporadically, her own. She not only snips and sews, but dyes, glue-guns, and once even made a cool purse out of 1980s shoulder pads!

Below is a dress that sat in a corner for 6 months awaiting the 'Marisa Treatment.' I loved this dress, originally bought at 'La Cache' (now Cornell Trading) on sale. It was a sheer rayon dress, and way too big for me, not only in the 90s style, but a(n overly generous) medium size. No, no - it's not a 'fat' dress, I was always the weight I am... it's only ironed. I used to love dancing in it, having it swirl about me.

On the night that we went to the superb Paul's Spaghetti, which was my niece's Christmas gift to us and where she is the only waitress, I realized I had nothing to wear. Oh ha. A few hours later, I had finally reformatted the dress. I took it in by 20" - 10" on each side! After cutting it to shorten it into a tunic top, my daughter grabbed the left-over and said she was going to make it into a scarf. The print really is nice, as is that red.

These photos weren't so good, so I played in Camera+, being too lazy to ask anyone for another photo shoot.


Before... bought maybe in 1997 or so, I used to wear it over a danskin for dancing at Sweat Your Prayers, which was a weekly venue in Toronto in those days, or with a belt over a black silk slip. Loved the dress, and fabric, and could not bring myself to throw it out, though with sleeker current styles it seemed like a tent dress and unwearable.


Snip, snip! (and the real colour!)

And now a great little tunic top, which I can wear with tights and a black skirt, or with my velvet leggings, or a pair of skinny jeans. Dressed up here with some dangly jewelry and my red Venetian glass beads, and a belt, I'm on my way out to hear Paris Black sing at The Unicorn (last Sat night) with a bunch of friends.



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The Yoga of Fasting

In the 1990s, I used to fast one day a week, as recommended in the yoga I do (and used to teach), and, while it was hard the first couple of weeks, once it became a habit, it seemed to increase my overall energy, not just physically but emotionally.

Once a year or so I also used to go to my cottage alone and fast for 3 days, water only, no food. The days following the 3 day fast were, I recall, radiant.

When I fasted, it had nothing to do with my weight - I did not want to lose weight, it was more of a spiritual quest.

Fasting on a regular basis for a short while, a day, a 24 hour period, seems, from the article copied in below, a very healthy thing to do.

I wonder if I can manage to fast one day a week again?

Not going to try immediately, but I will mull it over and give it a go in a few weeks. If you're going to do this, and have never fasted deliberately, teach your body to fast slowly. Choose one day a week to fast. Begin with a morning only, then eat normally for the rest of the day. The next week go from waking to dinner without any food - do drink lots of fluids of course. Following that, the next week try to fast from waking to bedtime, and if you can't sleep because you're hungry, have a snack. By the fourth week, you should be able to make it through a day of abstinence from food to a great breakfast the next day.

Fasting can help protect against brain diseases, scientists say
Claim that giving up almost all food for one or two days a week can counteract impact of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
Fasting can help protect against brain diseases, scientists say
A vertical slice through the brain of a patient with Alzheimer's, left, compared with a normal brain, right. Photograph: Alfred Pasieka/Science Photo Library
Fasting for regular periods could help protect the brain against degenerative illnesses, according to US scientists.

Researchers at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore said they had found evidence which shows that periods of stopping virtually all food intake for one or two days a week could protect the brain against some of the worst effects of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other ailments.

"Reducing your calorie intake could help your brain, but doing so by cutting your intake of food is not likely to be the best method of triggering this protection. It is likely to be better to go on intermittent bouts of fasting, in which you eat hardly anything at all, and then have periods when you eat as much as you want," said Professor Mark Mattson, head of the institute's laboratory of neurosciences.

"In other words, timing appears to be a crucial element to this process," Mattson told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver.

Cutting daily food intake to around 500 calories – which amounts to little more than a few vegetables and some tea – for two days out of seven had clear beneficial effects in their studies, claimed Mattson, who is also professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Scientists have known for some time that a low-calorie diet is a recipe for longer life. Rats and mice reared on restricted amounts of food increase their lifespan by up to 40%. A similar effect has been noted in humans. But Mattson and his team have taken this notion further. They argue that starving yourself occasionally can stave off not just ill-health and early death but delay the onset of conditions affecting the brain, including strokes. "Our animal experiments clearly suggest this," said Mattson.

He and his colleagues have also worked out a specific mechanism by which the growth of neurones in the brain could be affected by reduced energy intakes. Amounts of two cellular messaging chemicals are boosted when calorie intake is sharply reduced, said Mattson. These chemical messengers play an important role in boosting the growth of neurones in the brain, a process that would counteract the impact of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

"The cells of the brain are put under mild stress that is analogous to the effects of exercise on muscle cells," said Mattson. "The overall effect is beneficial."

The link between reductions in energy intake and the boosting of cell growth in the brain might seem an unlikely one, but Mattson insisted that there were sound evolutionary reasons for believing it to be the case. "When resources became scarce, our ancestors would have had to scrounge for food," said Mattson. "Those whose brains responded best – who remembered where promising sources could be found or recalled how to avoid predators — would have been the ones who got the food. Thus a mechanism linking periods of starvation to neural growth would have evolved."

This model has been worked out using studies of fasting on humans and the resulting impact on their general health – even sufferers from asthma have shown benefits, said Mattson – and from experiments on the impact on the brains of animals affected by the rodent equivalent of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Now Mattson's team is preparing to study the impact of fasting on the brain by using MRI scans and other techniques.

If this final link can be established, Mattson said that a person could optimise his or her brain function by subjecting themselves to bouts of "intermittent energy restriction". In other words, they could cut their food intake to a bare minimum for two days a week, while indulging for the other five. "We have found that from a psychological point of view that works quite well. You can put up with having hardly any food for a day if you know that for the next five you can eat what you want."



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Tulips and Daffodils, Painting 4



Because the flowers, which I was given exactly a week ago, are ready for the compost, this is my last painting of these tulips and daffodils. It is quite abstract. Likely it's mostly finished, except for some minor tinkering maybe tomorrow.

Tulips and Daffodils #4, 12" x 16", acrylics, oils on canvas.




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Self-Portrait Study 3, a painting


Self-Portrait Study 3, 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2012, Moleskine folio Sketchbook, graphite, oils, India and acrylic inks.

In the Moleskine, the earlier sketch in this blog this month. (No, I never ever wear eyeliner like that, not in my whole life. Anyway, it's a self portrait that is its own painting and only has some resemblance to me.)

I wanted it to have something beyond itself, be piercing somehow, and even be hard to look at. Somewhat disheveled and distorted, a sadness there, the more difficult realities of our experience, I guess.

In the initial sketch, I wasn't trying to draw a 'self-portrait' for anyone else, only trying to draw what I saw in this little, round magnifying mirror that was somewhat distorting but at least I could see detail without readers. The woman in the sketch had a 'sad and stricken' look, as one commenter wrote.

In the finished painting you see here, in her eyes I hope there is  concern, compassion, fear, sadness, hope, love, remembrance, and the wild ride that life is, with its inexplicable ups and downs, its times of plenty and times of drought.

Leonard Cohen, in a CBC interview I heard last Sunday afternoon, spoke about how we are all, in one way or another, trying to align our will with Divine Will. I'd call the latter, fate, fortune, life, the way it goes, the Tao.

The woman in the painting is caught right in the crux of moment between individual will and that of the life force, aligning an acceptance of fate, of karma, of whatever the forces are, and perhaps learning that allowing the horror of the pain is an empowerment in itself.


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The Woman Who Is Not Quite Effaced


'The Woman Who Is Not Quite Effaced,' 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2012, Moleskine folio Sketchbook, graphite, acrylic, gel pen.

You might recognize the underlying sketch, which I never liked, and which I always intended to sweep paint over.

Yes, I am at a rather difficult juncture, where someone seems intent on effacing references to me and who ignores my best work, which has had an effect on not just me but other people who have noticed this exclusion, and so I was not able to participate in a writing group this January and have had to suspend posting my articles at VidPoFilm.

I am in discussion over the problems with a number of people, all of whom recommend suspending my articles until what to do becomes clearer.

This painting expresses, what do I call it, that attempt at effacement, but also that it will not work.


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Tulips and Daffodils, Painting 3

Tulips and Daffodils 3, 16" x 20", oils, acrylic ink on canvas.

When I came home last night and looked at this painting drying on the wall, I thought it 'too dark.' This morning I rubbed out a lot of the colour in the background, added some definition to the daffodils, some white ink lines to the the background energies.

The flowers were a gift last weekend, and I followed a hankering to paint them (by buying stretched canvases and covering my dining room table in plastic sheeting)- this is my third, and likely final, painting of the vase of beauties.


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Musa Sing: Of Dying Daffodils and Tulips

Tulips and Daffodils 3, 16" x 20", oils on canvas.

Wish I'd taken a photo of the underlying sketch because I liked it. This painting works, I know it does. But it is not 'neat' or 'tidy' or very well contained. It is on the edge of oblivion. A floral swan song. The flowers are dying, the flowers are dying...

...magnificently.

The drive to abstraction is causing emotional distress (you should be glad you didn't see), but every attempt I make to bring the flowers to my usual dance between drawing and painting results in a decrease of energy on the canvas, and so I must respect the muse, and let the musa sing...


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Happy Lupercalia! (day of fertility)



Wishing you,
yeah, a day of LOVE,
pure, trusting, unjaundiced,
authentic, free, catchy-in-
your-bootstraps love, like go
make ART


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Comment on Tangled Garden

Since Tangled Garden, a triptych of earth poems, spans 30 years of poetry writing, and took 9 months to video, edit, subtitle, with more blood, sweat and tears than I like to recall, I continue to post comments, and responses to it. It is a major piece of work for me, and so far, if only one of my videopoems remains, I would like it to be this one.

Bent Lorentzen's comment, in a post where, mostly, I defended my videopoem, caused tears of gratitude. I shall not try to summarize his comment; rather, present here in full.


Oh my, you take me to so many places with this, Brenda, literally and figuratively. And when you talk directly to The Great Mother Earth, well into the video, you even evoked a totally unexpected tear from me.

I've seen pieces of this as you shared them in the production. What a mesmerizing journey, into your soul, and the soul of us all. Brenda, this full-length product evokes all sorts of deep emotions, some primitively-emergent tribal, some divine, as if there is a difference. It's very rare that a video this long can hold the viewer so well, but you do it masterfully with an integrated visual and auditory tension, and gentle releases, that are never too much or little, but just right... a single ancient tree with many branches and deep roots, each with their specific nuances, integrated in layers out to the cosmos and deep into the primal. I can only imagine the time and deep patient work you've put into this.

And you invoke humor: "We are told quite succinctly, to stay away from dreams and poetry. Moreover, natural is unnatural... creepy and viney, you scare us, heavy and pendulous, not at all like a laurel tree..." - the metaphors are outstanding!

Oh, the layers in this, the colors, the shadows and light, I haven’t enough vocabulary to describe the sheer exquisiteness of experiencing this multimedia experience. If I were back in my college days, with a half Cherokee philosopher who guided a couple of acid trips, including one with Walt Disney's Fantasia, I would be beyond the beyond into a most wonderful trip from this film. But I am a well grounded shaman in my own right now, deep in the roots of the planet, and already in the cosmos of my highest most subtle heart, so your work, Brenda, is nothing short of, excuse the redundancy, a masterpiece.

It is worth anyone's time to feel, I mean really F-E-E-L to the core, every single dripping dewy, sunshine bright, moonlight shadowy, archetype-inducing moment of this video. And it holds and expresses so many subtle little clues which reflect back upon the viewer... so my advice to any potential viewer is don't take you eyes or attentions away from any of its unique moments, for you will gain insight from, again excuse the redundancy, you will gain insight from this holistic audio-visual presentation.

As you can see, Brenda, I can't praise it enough, and am lost for words.

So drink it up sober like me, to get drunk in the Rumi way, or drink it up in any other way, you will be not only entertained but wiser from the experience.

And what a spine-chilling powerful finale, and I won't even describe it. That's for other viewers to experience

Thank you, Brenda, for making this. I'm going to dream well tonight.


direct link: Tangled Garden


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Celestial Dancer III


Celestial Dancer III, 2012, 24"x30", 61cm x 76cm, oils, acrylic inks on canvas.

This painting was worked on in 4 successive stages over 8 years. The figure was sketched on the canvas in 2004, and first painted in early 2005 - when the background was done and the figure roughed in. In 2009, the figure received more definition. Celestial Dancer III was completed, 8 years after it was begun, with slashes of permanent blue ink (two days ago, she is still fresh). She hangs on my living room wall, where already she has received compliments from visitors. I am fairly shocked, and delighted, that this painting is finished!



Blue Blood. If you don't bleed, is it art? :laughs: 




On October 21, 2009, I wrote in my blog:


When this painting is a little drier, I'll work on the details - though surprisingly if cropped a bit it looks almost finished now. It was not easy to come back to this figure when I have let her sit in storage and my rooms here and in Vancouver unfinished for 5 years. With courage and force of will, I began to complete it. First I tried painting her on an easel, which  perhaps isn't my style in that I probably dance over the work as I am painting. A quick trip out to purchase 2 yards of thick clear plastic at Honest Ed's, the kind for tables in Italian restaurants, would protect my living room floor. I placed it on the floor, with a little prayer that neither my cat nor my dog would inadvertently wander over the painting space, the canvas surface of wet oils, along with a long piece of unused canvas on the side in case of spills, and shone a clamp lamp with a daylight bulb on the area. And then carefully laid the painting flat and wetted it and painted from the tube with fingers and washes with a large thick brush and oh solitary dramatics in an attempt to feel my way into the movement of the dance, her moment of stillness... she is graceful, beautiful, I don't know if that comes across. Hope so! 




On the upper left photo in the collage, I wrote in my Xanga blog (on January 4, 2005):

Despite the gloom of earlier, I moved my art supplies into the little unheated kitchen (an add on to the original house), that wire up front a makeshift dog gate, and my studio heater, which warmed me up marvelously, hang the 1600 watt usage, sat looking at the canvas, as I did yesterday for hours, and couldn't begin, and, you know, wept for long while, entered into a zen state, and squished paint around for maybe 20 or 30 minutes, and now I have the first, most difficult layer...


The drawing on the canvas, with a 2B pencil (shown with a Sepia photo filter), in 2004.


A loose sketch (2004), 14" x 17", India ink and watercolour pencils, which you can see in the collage.


Original sketch with a Photoshop filter.


The original sketch in 2004, 14" x 17", graphite and ball point pen (an after thought, and thankfully the ink has faded out). My brother had this drawing professionally framed and I have to admit, it looks good on the wall in his apartment.

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A tunic from a dress: re-formatting the 90s

For about a year and a half, I have been following a blog called New Dress A Day by Marisa Lynch (she will have a book out in Oct). Marisa was out of work a few years ago. She loved fashion. She wanted to do something creative. So she decided to take used clothes, that she bought at Salvation Army, Goodwill, Thrift stores, etc., and give them new life. Her only restriction was that she could spend no more than $1.00 per item per day. It was a great year, I tell you. She did some amazing transformations. Since that year, she has either posted other people's finds and fittings, or, sporadically, her own. She not only snips and sews, but dyes, glue-guns, and once even made a cool purse out of 1980s shoulder pads!

Below is a dress that sat in a corner for 6 months awaiting the 'Marisa Treatment.' I loved this dress, originally bought at 'La Cache' (now Cornell Trading) on sale. It was a sheer rayon dress, and way too big for me, not only in the 90s style, but a(n overly generous) medium size. No, no - it's not a 'fat' dress, I was always the weight I am... it's only ironed. I used to love dancing in it, having it swirl about me.

On the night that we went to the superb Paul's Spaghetti, which was my niece's Christmas gift to us and where she is the only waitress, I realized I had nothing to wear. Oh ha. A few hours later, I had finally reformatted the dress. I took it in by 20" - 10" on each side! After cutting it to shorten it into a tunic top, my daughter grabbed the left-over and said she was going to make it into a scarf. The print really is nice, as is that red.

These photos weren't so good, so I played in Camera+, being too lazy to ask anyone for another photo shoot.


Before... bought maybe in 1997 or so, I used to wear it over a danskin for dancing at Sweat Your Prayers, which was a weekly venue in Toronto in those days, or with a belt over a black silk slip. Loved the dress, and fabric, and could not bring myself to throw it out, though with sleeker current styles it seemed like a tent dress and unwearable.


Snip, snip! (and the real colour!)

And now a great little tunic top, which I can wear with tights and a black skirt, or with my velvet leggings, or a pair of skinny jeans. Dressed up here with some dangly jewelry and my red Venetian glass beads, and a belt, I'm on my way out to hear Paris Black sing at The Unicorn (last Sat night) with a bunch of friends.



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The Yoga of Fasting

In the 1990s, I used to fast one day a week, as recommended in the yoga I do (and used to teach), and, while it was hard the first couple of weeks, once it became a habit, it seemed to increase my overall energy, not just physically but emotionally.

Once a year or so I also used to go to my cottage alone and fast for 3 days, water only, no food. The days following the 3 day fast were, I recall, radiant.

When I fasted, it had nothing to do with my weight - I did not want to lose weight, it was more of a spiritual quest.

Fasting on a regular basis for a short while, a day, a 24 hour period, seems, from the article copied in below, a very healthy thing to do.

I wonder if I can manage to fast one day a week again?

Not going to try immediately, but I will mull it over and give it a go in a few weeks. If you're going to do this, and have never fasted deliberately, teach your body to fast slowly. Choose one day a week to fast. Begin with a morning only, then eat normally for the rest of the day. The next week go from waking to dinner without any food - do drink lots of fluids of course. Following that, the next week try to fast from waking to bedtime, and if you can't sleep because you're hungry, have a snack. By the fourth week, you should be able to make it through a day of abstinence from food to a great breakfast the next day.

Fasting can help protect against brain diseases, scientists say
Claim that giving up almost all food for one or two days a week can counteract impact of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
Fasting can help protect against brain diseases, scientists say
A vertical slice through the brain of a patient with Alzheimer's, left, compared with a normal brain, right. Photograph: Alfred Pasieka/Science Photo Library
Fasting for regular periods could help protect the brain against degenerative illnesses, according to US scientists.

Researchers at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore said they had found evidence which shows that periods of stopping virtually all food intake for one or two days a week could protect the brain against some of the worst effects of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other ailments.

"Reducing your calorie intake could help your brain, but doing so by cutting your intake of food is not likely to be the best method of triggering this protection. It is likely to be better to go on intermittent bouts of fasting, in which you eat hardly anything at all, and then have periods when you eat as much as you want," said Professor Mark Mattson, head of the institute's laboratory of neurosciences.

"In other words, timing appears to be a crucial element to this process," Mattson told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver.

Cutting daily food intake to around 500 calories – which amounts to little more than a few vegetables and some tea – for two days out of seven had clear beneficial effects in their studies, claimed Mattson, who is also professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Scientists have known for some time that a low-calorie diet is a recipe for longer life. Rats and mice reared on restricted amounts of food increase their lifespan by up to 40%. A similar effect has been noted in humans. But Mattson and his team have taken this notion further. They argue that starving yourself occasionally can stave off not just ill-health and early death but delay the onset of conditions affecting the brain, including strokes. "Our animal experiments clearly suggest this," said Mattson.

He and his colleagues have also worked out a specific mechanism by which the growth of neurones in the brain could be affected by reduced energy intakes. Amounts of two cellular messaging chemicals are boosted when calorie intake is sharply reduced, said Mattson. These chemical messengers play an important role in boosting the growth of neurones in the brain, a process that would counteract the impact of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

"The cells of the brain are put under mild stress that is analogous to the effects of exercise on muscle cells," said Mattson. "The overall effect is beneficial."

The link between reductions in energy intake and the boosting of cell growth in the brain might seem an unlikely one, but Mattson insisted that there were sound evolutionary reasons for believing it to be the case. "When resources became scarce, our ancestors would have had to scrounge for food," said Mattson. "Those whose brains responded best – who remembered where promising sources could be found or recalled how to avoid predators — would have been the ones who got the food. Thus a mechanism linking periods of starvation to neural growth would have evolved."

This model has been worked out using studies of fasting on humans and the resulting impact on their general health – even sufferers from asthma have shown benefits, said Mattson – and from experiments on the impact on the brains of animals affected by the rodent equivalent of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Now Mattson's team is preparing to study the impact of fasting on the brain by using MRI scans and other techniques.

If this final link can be established, Mattson said that a person could optimise his or her brain function by subjecting themselves to bouts of "intermittent energy restriction". In other words, they could cut their food intake to a bare minimum for two days a week, while indulging for the other five. "We have found that from a psychological point of view that works quite well. You can put up with having hardly any food for a day if you know that for the next five you can eat what you want."



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Tulips and Daffodils, Painting 4



Because the flowers, which I was given exactly a week ago, are ready for the compost, this is my last painting of these tulips and daffodils. It is quite abstract. Likely it's mostly finished, except for some minor tinkering maybe tomorrow.

Tulips and Daffodils #4, 12" x 16", acrylics, oils on canvas.




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Self-Portrait Study 3, a painting


Self-Portrait Study 3, 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2012, Moleskine folio Sketchbook, graphite, oils, India and acrylic inks.

In the Moleskine, the earlier sketch in this blog this month. (No, I never ever wear eyeliner like that, not in my whole life. Anyway, it's a self portrait that is its own painting and only has some resemblance to me.)

I wanted it to have something beyond itself, be piercing somehow, and even be hard to look at. Somewhat disheveled and distorted, a sadness there, the more difficult realities of our experience, I guess.

In the initial sketch, I wasn't trying to draw a 'self-portrait' for anyone else, only trying to draw what I saw in this little, round magnifying mirror that was somewhat distorting but at least I could see detail without readers. The woman in the sketch had a 'sad and stricken' look, as one commenter wrote.

In the finished painting you see here, in her eyes I hope there is  concern, compassion, fear, sadness, hope, love, remembrance, and the wild ride that life is, with its inexplicable ups and downs, its times of plenty and times of drought.

Leonard Cohen, in a CBC interview I heard last Sunday afternoon, spoke about how we are all, in one way or another, trying to align our will with Divine Will. I'd call the latter, fate, fortune, life, the way it goes, the Tao.

The woman in the painting is caught right in the crux of moment between individual will and that of the life force, aligning an acceptance of fate, of karma, of whatever the forces are, and perhaps learning that allowing the horror of the pain is an empowerment in itself.


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