Greetings and salutations, everyone. The past week has been spent doing projects around the house. Nothing huge, really. Just the things that pile up when you’re busy doing more important stuff for months in a row. As such, there isn’t a lot to show for the past week. I mean, how much do you care about stringing some wires on a fence as a trellis for a rambler rose bush, for example? (I didn’t even bleed doing that job!) And re-baiting the wasp traps. Oooh! Exciting!

We did take all three dogs to the vet — at once — for their annual exams and vaccinations. They are all caught up now, and mostly done stress shedding as a result. (Dogs do this thing where they shed like mad when they go to the vet. They know it’s a bad place for some reason and they hate it, and they shed. A lot. We left about three Pekingese worth of hair in that exam room. I feel so bad about that.)

On a radically different topic, some of my readers are in California, where the fire season has been awful. I feel for you. The fire season here has been terrible as well. This is the second year in a row that a province wide state of emergency has been declared for the fires. I follow a couple of BC emergency accounts on twitter where I regularly see evacuation notices and warnings. They are scattered all over the province. It’s bad out there.

Down in the photos section I have included two pictures that show the impact of the smoke on the area. A headline I saw the other day said Vancouver had the worst air quality in North America thanks to the smoke, and I smell smoke as I am writing this post. It’s far too exciting, let me tell you.

But it really was basically a dull week from your perspective. I’m sorry. Here’s the limited news I have to share.

English

I’ve now seen my grade on the final exam, and I am quite happy. Though I haven’t yet seen the overall course grade appear on the transcript, it seems an A is pretty much a given at this point. I am happy about that, given that my English instruction as a kid was spotty at best. Somehow my various English classes missed all those ugly rules of grammar — and even the terminology — and I am very aware of that fact. My English is OK, but it’s all learned through practice and osmosis, rather than through technical instruction. Taking an English class of any kind hits me with imposter syndrome at some level. Of course I am fluent, but at some level I do feel like I am faking it.

Anyway, the final grade in the class will probably show up next week, and put this one to bed.

Oh, I read a story that my English teacher recommended. We shared recommendations before the class ended:

  • I suggested he read “Penance” by Stephen R. Donaldson. A short story about a vampire. Very interesting reading. Donaldson really can write. You can find it in a couple of Donaldson short story anthologies if you are curious. But be warned, Donaldson is not gentle with his characters. They suffer.
  • He suggested I read “The Outer Harbour” by Wayde Compton. Compton is a Canadian writer, and this story is a science fiction (ish) tale of a group of refugees settled in the Vancouver area. I won’t give it away, but I will say it is fascinating reading, and I am not at all certain what it all means. The instructor and I are going to get together at some point and talk about this one. It’s challenging and fun. Highly recommended. It can be found in an anthology of the same name.

Canadian Art

The grade for this class made an appearance this week, and I am very happy with it, too.

That said, while good grades are a nice thing, this class turned out to be much more important for other reasons. I learned some Canadian history and culture that I would not have known without it. In no way am I any sort of Canadian expert, mind you — one six week class won’t make that happen, no matter how intensive it may be — but I feel I have a better handle on some things Canadian as a result of this course.

An example? Well, the other day, Mary Pratt died. We studied her a bit in this class, and her paintings are very interesting. She was part of the group of artists that turned towards realism — photorealism in her case, or something close to it— after the abstract expressionists had had their heyday. She was a Canadian icon of sorts, and her death was national news. It’s nice to see a female painter given that level of recognition.

Links

  • Politics alert: A Historian Explains How Mainstream Conservatives Made Trump. That’s a Vox article based on a twitter thread about the history of the Republican party and how it gave rise to Trump. It’s not that long for Vox, but it is interesting. There are Republicans — the Never Trumpers — who think Trump is an aberration, and that the party is fundamentally different from what is currently going on. This article — and the historian who created the twitter thread that is its source — make the opposite case: that Trump is the natural outgrowth of the Republican party going back at least as far as Reagan. I think he’s correct, and I suspect that the roots go back even farther, though I am not historian enough to pull it all together. Anyway, it’s good reading.
  • The usual index of art school posts and other things here on Medium, because Medium didn’t get the ordering right when I imported posts from somewhere else, and I can’t figure out how to fix it.

Pictures

I promised pictures that show the smoke here in Vancouver. Here you go:

That’s the view out the SeaBus window about to leave the Vancouver dock, headed for North Vancouver. The mountains you can only barely see are the nearest range. The ones behind them are completely invisible. Drift smoke was the cause.

That is the sun through the trees in the backyard. You could look at it with your naked eyes. I just pointed my phone at it and clicked to take the picture. More than a bit smokey, I’d say.

We need rain — without lightning, which just started a bunch more fires in the interior — ASAP.

And In Conclusion…

Written by

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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