Imagine A Better Title

Good day once again, gentle reader.

I’ve always wondered about that phrase: “gentle reader.” Why should I assume you’re gentle? You might be violent. I can probably get away with assuming you are a reader, though. If not, you won’t see the phrase to know about it, so it clearly won’t apply to you. (But in that case who am I addressing in that last sentence, or this one? Language, it seems, is complicated.)

I suspect the phrase “gentle reader” comes from the same root as the word “gentleman,” which Google tells me derives from a Middle English term for one of noble birth, particularly one who is entitled to a coat of arms. Sexist tripe, I think, and racist too. I clearly need to abandon that phrase and find something else — something more inclusive. I’ll work on that.

I’m in the midst of a lot of projects at the moment, as I think I hinted at last time. The big one is painting one of the bathrooms. Here is photographic evidence of that effort:

The reason I show up in that last photo is that there is a barrier keeping the dogs out of the bathroom and I didn’t bother moving it to take the pictures. So far I have applied one full coat of primer and cut in a second coat of the same. The room is vastly improved already.

The door to the bathroom is also a work in progress:

And there you see what my art studio looks like at the moment. I suspect it will be a door painting station for some time. The door itself has one coat of the final colour on each side. A second coat remains to be done, and Anne must pass judgment on the colour. It is substantially lighter than what was on the door before, but I am not certain it is what she intended. I’ll know soon enough.

Here’s a comparison:

The paint stirring stick is the new colour for the doors and in the background is another door painted the original colour. Quite a difference, eh?

In addition to needing paint, that bathroom door has a couple of other problems that need fixing:

On the left you can see the large recess cut for some previous door latch, and on the right you can see the rounded corner hinge in use despite the recess being for a square cornered one. This sort of thing goes on all over the house, and there is lots of work to make it all look reasonable. I used glue, toothpicks, and drywall mud to repair the area around the door latch, and we’ll use new (square) hinges to fix the other issue. I cannot explain these things, but I can repair them.

In other house news, we talked with a contractor about a series of smallish, exterior jobs that need to get done before the big storms arrive this fall. It’s all stuff they can do at odd times when other projects don’t need a full crew or they are stuck waiting for something. They should be able to slot the work in easily enough, and it won’t take long in total. We’ll get a bid in a few days and see what it looks like.

Other things going on this week included:

  • Yet more work on the BCA website. I suspect this is lifetime employment.
  • A talk with the Langara Shop coordinator about a specific project in support of the public art class. Still awaiting final approvals to get going on that, but I am going to have a design done before the weekend is over.
  • Finally getting and paying the annual property tax bill for our home. We bought the house just after the taxes were paid by the previous owners, and it is the only big bill we hadn’t yet seen. It’s good to have it in hand and understood.
  • Discussing the possibility of teaching a stone carving class through the Continuing Education department at Langara College. No definite information yet, but the person I spoke with is interested and will run it up the flagpole. Things are still in stasis thanks to Covid, but maybe they will get moving again sometime in January.
  • Returning the CNC machine to Xwalacktun. I am definitely on call to help with it when he gets back to it. That will be fun. And I got some much needed space back in my shop.
  • Pick up my new glasses, along with going to the grocery store and the pet food place. The dogs must continue to eat, of course.
  • Probably sixteen other things I have forgotten.

As you can see, I’ve been fairly busy.

On a more fun note, I finished reading The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green. Highly recommended. Lovely writing and an interesting way to organize a book. It’s not actually a memoir, but it’s got a lot of him in it, and it is largely reflections on life, particularly since Covid. If you’d like to more, I suggest here is a good place to start:

To borrow a line: I give The Anthropocene Reviewed five stars.

Green has made it a thing to sign many (or all) of the first run printings of his books. Here’s the signature in our copy of TAR:

On a couple of occasions, Green hosted a live video stream from his home as he signed stacks of pages that were eventually bound into these books. During these events he also answered questions from viewers. I watched some of these and they were surprisingly entertaining. He’s eloquent, funny and warm, and kept me engaged even as he did something entirely monotonous. In one case he mentioned the colour of the Sharpie he was using at the time. It was an odd one: Intergalactic Cosmic Indigo, I believe. I suspect the signature above is that colour, so there is a chance I saw him sign the specific page in our book, which I find amusing. On the left is his review of autographs, written after signing his name 250,000 times for this printing alone.

Green’s writing both fascinates and inspires me. I’ve been thinking about writing more and Green’s latest book is a nudge in that direction, as is an email from a reader, asking a set of leading questions about my art school experience. I recently assembled a list of story prompts that may be good places to start, and I am adding those questions to that list. I won’t be answering those questions this week, but I am thinking about them and they may appear in the future posts.

As you can see, I am trying to figure out a bit more about my writing. For example, why I am doing it and what I am trying to accomplish? Having struggled with blank page syndrome on several occasions (during spectacularly failed attempts to write fiction) it occurs to me that starting with memoir(ish) stories might get the text flowing more readily. And while I am not exactly the most exciting of subjects, I do have a few tales I can share. The classic advice is to write what you know, and I know myself and my own past better than I know anything else, so…

Such directed writing would be in addition to these weekly posts, not a replacement for them. And I would attempt to maintain a higher standard in those stories, spending more time both crafting and proofreading. As a result, publication would be sporadic.

And here — gentle reader (argh!) — is where I ask your opinion. If I can scrounge more time in front of a keyboard, might the results of that effort interest you? I would not add to the weekly email announcements unless you specifically asked me to. (A second email list would be created to announce posts of this new type only to those who are interested in such things.) But I would include links to new stories in weekly posts like this one.

As always, I encourage your thoughts and feedback. Let me know what you think. I will assume silence means you’re not interested, so please be vocal.

Finally, I give you a photo of Cruzer, who was not at all sure what I was about to do:

He’s standing at the top of the stairs, amid the carpet augmentation material that mostly comes from Tinkerbelle, his pack mate and nemesis. Whatever I am about to do matters because he must follow me, wherever I lead. I only wish I knew where I was going.

All the best!



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Jeff Powell

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