Tuesday, April 28, 2009

If I had a mangle:
A domestic lament

I'd mangle in the moooooorning
I'd mangle in the evening
All over my kitchennnnn (or dining room, or studiooo, or bedroom)
I'd mangle out rumples
I'd mangle out creases
I'd mangle out wriiiiinkles between my steamy roller and my other steamy roooooller
All over my kitchen (or dining room, or studio, or bedroom)

Ah, the humble mangle, staple of many a North American grandma's laundry room. Had I a grandma of my very own in this country, perhaps she'd have a mangle such as to make my eyes a-mist with memories of morning sheet mangling, Werthers proffering, and under-chin chucking. But alas, I do not.

I first heard tale of the mangle's existence in a Martha Stewart Living magazine article discussing the finer points of clothkeeping in Martha's laundry room at Skylands (n.b.: this link will not lead you to the article of memory, but you'll get the idea). Still a teenager, with a head full of boys and high school tragedy, I had little need for obfuscatory housekeeping apparati, but me being Me, I filed "Mangle" away somewhere in the tidy corners of my mind, giving no more thought to the subject until now.

Now, I have a home. Now, I have an event design business. Now, I have sheets and tablecloths and curtains and reams

and reams

and still more reams (and swaths, even!)

of similarly long and large expanses of fabric to press. Now, though I have the much lusted after Rowenta iron that my beloved and I asked for and received as a wedding present, and pressing shirts and pillowcases is truly the impressive irrepressible inexpressible insuppressible steamy joy I always knew it could be, ironing the fabric for the curtain panels I sewed for our living room and dining room took hours and hours and hours. And hours. And, though those curtains are beautiful

and were worth the occasional steam singe and foggy lens, leave it to Martha to show me the better way of doing things. Leave it to Martha to foster mangle envy.

Still, I'm not alone. Pilar Viladas and Alex Kuczynski of the New York Times, too, had secret mangle desires, as did Meredith of Like Merchant Ships (in this latter case, perhaps not of the Martha-variety, but mangle-lust nonetheless). In Meredith's case, whatever pumpkin you believe in saw fit to rain mangle from heaven for a mere $24!

Twenty-four dollars!

Oh Blessed Exchequer, allow these words to open your ears and hear this plea from your most humble event designer and planner extraordinaire: Though my warps be wonky and my wefts fraught with wrinkles, grant my bohemian boat the skill and grace to navigate the Great Material Continuum successfully and, if my heart truly wants it (and I believe it does), towards a long and happy career complete with many time-saving and not too space-gobbling miracle devices like a mangle.

I trust. Let the river provide. So let it be written. So let it be done.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Inspirations and Diversions:
It's where the blog writer learns to speak Finnish

Though I don't often turn to other event professionals for inspiration, part of my job is keeping current with what's going on in the wider creative marketplace: like Saipua. (According to their website, the "Saipua" is derived from the Finnish word for soap.) They make flowers and soap and, oh my, their flowers are simply amazing. Jumbly and messy in the same wonderful way as Grandpa's attic and Grandma's steamer trunk! There is a masterful, and free-wheeling, compositional eye at work here.

You know that blank stare you get when you're really tired or really bored? Where you're not taking in anything in particular and looking at everything at the same time? That's how professional artists look at their own work (and others' work). Try it. See how it helps resolve colour, line and spatial relationships that are otherwise not apparent when you're looking at this particular line or that swath of colour. It took me three years of university before I figured out what my professors meant when they kept telling me to "really look" at my paintings, and I'm giving it to you here, in 250 words or less, for free! Lesson número uno in Bonne Vivante 101: The Unfocused Stare!

And now yet another diversion for you, my fellow visual jackdaws:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's up to me, Part Ungh:
High River

Meet Melissa and Ryan. You can tell they are outdoorsy because of the yellow backpack and Ryan's climbing pick.

This lovely lovely couple was introduced to me by James. James loves me and I love James and James thought I would also love Melissa and Ryan and he was right! (And it is said they love me (and Aaron) too.)

Here is James working his way up the mountain we climbed that weekend in High River.

It was slow going, what with Ryan being the only one among us in satisfactory shape. He'd be charging along, leading the herd, when he'd notice people falling behind, and, like a border collie, would fly back down the mountain and gather up the stragglers. It was actually quite amusing to watch when I wasn't gasping for my next breath. He looked Elven, hopping from craggy rock to craggy rock. But with a backpack and carbon fibre poles.

Here, he scans the horizon for predators and coming snowstorms (on an earlier night out we saw a cougar on the road) .

Here we are about three-quarters of the way up the mountain. The expression on my face isn't the usual casual insouciance. It's fatigue. There's James in the lower left. Soon hereafter, Ryan and Melissa nourished our weary bodies with chocolate and pecorino. A couple after my heart!

OH, but it was all worth it.

The view! From where we stood at the top of the minimountain, you could see almost 270 degrees around. (The other 90 degrees being a higher peak that we didn't have enough time to climb that day.) Ryan told us that on a sunnier day, we'd be able to see another mountain ridge instead of that cloud in the upper left.

And the fauna...you may have noticed I get weak in the knees for brightly coloured lichens and mosses. Aaron took these beautiful photos while I rested and ate chocolate.

What I loved most, though, was that other than the wind and the occasional (hopefully cute) animal, the only sounds we could hear were our own voices. The quiet makes a person hyper-aware of what their mind is doing and thinking. It's really centering.

I noticed, for example what a difference it made in how my body felt when I realised climbing the mountain wasn't pushing my body up against gravity, but more like my intention to reach the top drawing me up. It was as if the universe had connected a rope to my belly button and was pulling me up with each step. I felt lighter! And faster!

And the food! Melissa made some sort of English muffin, egg and bacon thing called Scott's sex for breakfast(?) that an unknown young man invented to help him get laid. Their cooking reminds me of how Aaron and I cook for ourselves: healthy, fairly light, fresh and delicious. With several of my friends (particularly the ones who cook and host dinners) moving to other cities, it's nice to meet another couple that enjoys cooking and having people over. The mittens too! They are also thoughtful hosts, continually making sure we were comfortable and, especially on the mountain, warm. "Nobody has to suffer on the mountain!" Ah, and Ryan's vented footed pyjamas!

Notice Ryan buttoning up the back flap. That, my dear readers, is the picture of inevitability.

Poor James. Somehow Ryan and James in the same room always equals Ryan's bare nether flesh in James' face. I have no pictures of the actual exposure. Ryan's glory flashed so blindingly, I had to turn both face and camera way for fear of irreparably burning my biological and technological light sensors.

Ryan and Melissa have a beautiful and inviting home, and in a very short time they have furnished and decorated it with things they enjoy or find beautiful, and that have meaning to them.

Like a cabinet from Ryan's grandmother, an old pink door they unwittingly stole from some Mennonites, and an antique chair (Ryan used to collect them)

Art and vintage wooden spools

A springy-grid they've turned into art (another Mennonite find)

Gathered stones and mementos from their travels

Books, plants and tiny obscenely-posed mannequins

And more art.

Here are Aaron and Melissa having a conversation in the living room.

Aaron and I look forward to attending their wedding on Vancouver Island in September, for which we will be designing the flowers and decor. You may notice I don't generally like to write or talk too much about projects in progress (it messes up my thought process), but I'll be writing about that eventually.

Until then, stay tuned for It's up to me, Part D-I-NY: New York.
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