Hello from the Great (not so) White North once again, everyone, and thanks — as always — for reading these oddly worded missives. This week’s post has several parts:

  • This Introduction
  • Making Art — a bit, anyway
  • A Word About Typos
  • Feedback from last week’s post
  • Links and thoughts on beauty
  • And In Conclusion

I am pretty sure this is the end of This Introduction, so…

Making Art — a bit, anyway

I think I promised last week that I would get to work on the red cedar bowl I have had around, and I did so. At least somewhat:

As you can see, it is now a bit closer to bowl shaped, with a fair bit of material removal having happened on the bottom and corners. To make those corner cuts I bought a relatively cheap pull saw at the local hardware store. I have yet to understand why most saws sold here (and in the US) cut on the push, rather than on the pull. The latter is so much more controlled in my experience, and won’t cause a blade to bend if it hangs up. But perhaps woodworking is like everything else humans do. That is, it is subject to millennia of rules about “this is how we’ve always done it” and mostly impervious to change as a result. Good ideas take a long, long time to supplant older ones that work less well. Weird, but true.

Some of you might want to see a bit more of that work area, so here you go:

It’s quite a mess, and I am not fully happy with the way I am using the bench hook. I have ideas about how to make it just as useful but without the clamps holding the side pieces down. Those clamps are a hazard. It’s easy to scrape yourself on them while working with the chisels.

Anyway, more progress should happen soon. I need to thin the entire thing out quite a bit more, then lay out and cut the the adornments I am planning. It’s only a small piece, and I am only barely a novice at this, but it’s fun, and a distraction I need.


In response to last week’s post I received several typo reports. Thank you for those. I composed that update over about three days, and in the end it was so heavily edited I could no longer see what the words on the screen actually said. That’s because — of course — I already knew exactly what I wrote. Sigh.

Anyway, in all seriousness, thank you for reporting such things. Typos are evil and must die, so I correct them all. Please keep telling me about them!

Amusingly, though, one thing was reported multiple times that is not actually a typo: “enrolment.” And yes, I know all of my American readers just clenched their teeth. “But that’s spelled ‘enrollment’ with two ‘L’ characters,” I hear you cry. Not in Canada, it’s not. And not in England either. Despite just how awful it looks (and it definitely looks awful) the Canadian spelling is the one I am using, so these are correct in this context:

  • “Enrol” (not “enroll”)
  • “Enrolment” (not “enrollment”)

But (somewhat oddly, in my mind anyway) it’s:

  • “Enrolling” (not “enroling”)
  • “Enrolled” (not “enroled”)

Some of you are much more educated about these things, and can probably explain this (ahem… Alan S.). My guess is the British decided to do something weird (what a surprise!) so I just blame them and move on. In any case, when the spelling checker puts a red, squiggly line under something, I go fix it. And when it seems like the spelling checker might be wrong, I try a google search like this:

  • [ enrolment vs enrollment Canada ]

And after grubbing around in the first ten results I learn that the former is preferred, but that there may be some movement towards the American spelling in Canadian publications. And since I am in Canada, I try to do as the Canadians do.

Not that they always make it easy. I may have mentioned this before, but at school they install MS-Word on all the student computers, and they use American English by default in spell check. Why the IT people didn’t make Canadian English the default I really don’t understand. It’s crazy, but true.

Last Week’s Post

I also received a lot of non-typo comments on the last post. All were very supportive and encouraging, so thanks for that. That said, I think there was some concern that I might be experiencing some sort of existential crisis, or (put less dramatically) I might be a tad concerned about the next steps in my life.

And that is sort of true, but honestly it’s been true since we moved here. When we moved out of California we left behind quite a bit of our old lives. And while I wasn’t working at the time, I was still very busy with all kinds of things, and I didn’t feel all that much concern about the future. (Well, not any more than normal people feel, I suspect. We all have our moments, right? Or is that just me? Joke!)

Anyway, when we moved up here, everything changed. First we had to settle in to a new community before school started. And come September it was “go, go, go!” for the next five semesters. I attended school that first summer, even, so I had very little down time. This summer I am off school for three months straight, and as a result there is more time for contemplation than there has been since we arrived.

But there’s more. When we moved, we sold our home. Now we live in a rental, and it’s not like I am going to do a ton of work to it. And yard work here is amazingly easy compared with our California place. Mowing, for example, involves an electric (plug in) mower and less than an hour. (And that includes mowing everything twice, since the mower isn’t exactly stellar, despite sharpening the blade.) In California, mowing was a two day job, and it was hard, hard work. All the home maintenance tasks I need to do are similarly shortened by moving back into town, so there just isn’t a lot of that to do.

Finally, back in California I helped maintain a large mailing list for our neighbourhood. Up here, if such a list exists, I haven’t found it. In truth, though, I haven’t gone looking. Again, we’re in a rental, and just how invested do I want to get in an neighbourhood when we’ll be leaving it relatively soon? And even if I did find such a list, would I want to do that job again even if it was the case that the owners of the list wanted help? Honestly, probably not.

Socially we’re OK. We have friends in the area and we get together with them fairly regularly, but without school my social contact is reduced from what it was in California. (Anne works from home, and gets all the socialization she can stand by doing so. If you know her, you know why.) What we don’t have is a lot of friends in the neighbourhood. That’s because we’re still new here, we’re busy when school’s in session, and we’re probably not planning on sticking around forever. That’s not to say the people around us aren’t nice — they are — but there’s a different emphasis on how we manage our lives and time at the moment thanks to the constraints we live under.

As a result of all that, I am pondering the future more this summer than I have in the last several years. But I don’t want to give the impression that I am unhappy or at a loss for how to proceed. There are vague plans that look something like this:

  • finish my diploma (two more semesters, Fall and Spring)
  • figure out where the next — more permanent — home is
  • acquire said home and move into it
  • figure out what art media are possible in that new situation (possibly including getting a studio somewhere else)
  • determine what else I want to do with my life, which might involve almost anything, possibly including: a low worry job just to stay busy, art creation, more school in any of a zillion subjects (just for fun), volunteering somewhere, teaching stone carving again, and any number of other things I can’t currently predict

That list gets me through the next two years or so, minimum, and at the end leaves the door wide open to ongoing art, study, and anything else. Pondering those choices now — while I have gobs of free time — is happening, whether I really want it to or not. I’m like that.

You’ll note that going on for a BFA and/or MFA is not in that list. As discussed last week, that’s because I have pretty much decided not to take that path. But also as discussed last week, I am open to hearing from anyone with those degrees as to why it would be good (or not) to get one. If you’re convincing enough, my plans could change.

Anyway, thank you all for the feedback and thoughtful comments last week. They were much appreciated!


Also as a result of last week’s post, I have two things to share. The first is an interesting article about beauty and academia, mostly biology:

Speaking only for me, I strongly believe beauty in art is important, but I don’t often think of beauty in a sexual way. It does happen — I am a cis, white, male, after all — but I tend to think of beauty more in the way a physicist or mathematician does. It’s an indication that my work is on the right track. A beautiful result is — for me — generally a better result than an ugly one. That’s not always true, but often it is, and despite the general disregard for beauty in fine arts academia, I will continue to pursue it.

Also, speaking of beauty, here’s a song on the topic as well:

If you know Tim Minchin, you’ll know these lyrics have many layers. Definitely worth a listen, as is his whole catalogue.

And In Conclusion

The video below is from 2013, and I honestly needed to trip over it. There is so much awful news in the world of late that the reminder is good. And yes, Hank Green does talk fast (even more, he edits his videos to come at you quickly) but he’s right on the money, and he’s a professional science communicator (among other things) so I trust his judgement.

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