23 April 2010


A picture may indeed be worth a thousand words, but sometimes you need more than one photo to adequately describe a place, and if you don't have a wide angle lens you may just have to shoot several photos and patch them together to get a panorama.

(click on these pictures to see much larger versions of them)

Now, you can do this like David Hockney with actual physical prints, or you can use software if you're shooting digital photos (or scanning your prints). There are several programs that can do this for you, but I used Photoshop to stitch my digital pics (Photoshop itself has a feature that merges similar areas in a group of photos to give you a panorama, but I wanted to do this myself). Incidentally, I climbed our TV aerial to get the high angle in the above image of our outbuildings and silo.

The technique I used for these was simply panning the camera from left to right (or vice versa), and stopping to take a shot at regular intervals, making sure the pictures overlap a bit. In the above shot (front yard, house, outbuildings, silo, The Hesperus, and the rest of the front yard), I went from left to right, catching Krista as she returns from picking up the mail (she's on the far left, almost exactly between the white posts that will soon display our Small Pond sign and the red cap of our well).

I caught Krista again in the above shot of our clearing in the woods. For this, I tucked myself into a "corner" of the clearing and shot from left to right. I thought about standing in the centre and trying to get a 360-degree panorama, but I didn't think that would convey the beauty of this area, so I just went with this simple shot.

Below are panoramic pictures of our rooms for residencies. Again, a panorama helps get a better sense of a place --in this case, cozy rooms-- and helps to avoid the sense of smallness and claustrophobia that a single photo normally creates. Now, the rooms may look a little distorted, but you get the idea.

Speaking of distortion, here is a montage of the source photos I used to make two panoramas of the Blue Room:

With a lot of distortion and digital torture, I managed to force the above pictures into the coherent panoramas below:

Of course, if you look very closely, you can figure out where the seams are, usually due to colour variation.
But that's not the point.

The painting on the side of the garage in the first photo (hello jimmy), and the long vertical paintings in both the Gold Room (General Mayhem) and the Yellow Room (I don't fit this shoe) are by Alberta artist Dean Stanton.
The painting of the urn in the Gold Room is by Mae Dalby, Krista's great aunt.

14 April 2010

Not in Our Back Yard

With the return of sunny, warm weather, I’ve been spending a lot of time in our woods. Sometimes I just walk around, observing how things are growing and changing with the coming of spring, listening to the birds, and sneaking around trying to surprise some deer or wild turkeys (no luck yet).

Other times, I am hauling trash out of the woods. We inherited a lot of junk with our property, which is apparently a fairly commonplace thing in the country. So I’ve been spending some time every day donning my work gloves and consolidating the garbage so we can haul it away to the dump.

More than anything, the trash is automobile-related; a veritable graveyard of auto parts, made poignant in this age of peak oil. I have found just about every part of a car: reflectors, rearview mirrors, seats, spark plugs, smashed windshields, tail pipes, hubcaps, carburetors, and many parts that I don’t have the knowledge to identify. And tires! There’s 55 in this pile alone, which we are going to turn into some sort of art project before they become mosquito incubators.

As I’ve been crawling around in the brush untangling car parts from the foliage, I’ve been thinking about stuff. About how much stuff we buy and how most of it never goes away. You can leave it at the curb in a garbage can, toss it in the woods or haul it away to the dump, but it still exists. Last week I watched some disturbing footage of the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, and if I hated plastic before, witnessing this ecological travesty is enough to turn me off buying anything plastic ever again. In case you don’t know, the Garbage Patch is a floating trash heap estimated to be the size of Texas; even worse, it is literally impossible to clean up.

As I was picking trash in the woods, I came across a pile of empty baby food jars. Now, I don’t have children, but if I did, I cannot imagine feeding my baby and then throwing all these jars into the woods as if there were no tomorrow. Far be it from me to judge the generations of people who lived on this land before us. Maybe there was no garbage pick-up, maybe they didn’t have enough money to take their trash to the dump, maybe they were careless and selfish and stupid as we all are at one time or another. I moved to the country for many reasons, one of them being that I love nature in all its fresh, unspoiled glory. I cannot live with these strangers’ trash in my woods, so I am moving it from point A to a point B that is out of sight. The ultimate futility of this act is not lost upon me. The junk will still be out there, but at least I won’t have to look at it.

A few weeks ago, Milé and I went on the Green Homes Tour, organized by the County Sustainability Group. Prince Edward County is truly a hotbed of green thinking and alternative energies – geothermal, solar, wind power and bio-diesel. In our short time here we’ve met a number of people living off the grid, as we hope to one day at Small Pond. During the Green Homes Tour we visited the Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, an incredible off-grid facility that makes out-of-this-world cheeses. We were toured around by architect Francis Lapointe, and one thing he said really struck me: "The greenest product is the one you don’t use."

Although a number of the plays that I’ve written have environmental messages, I’m not into gloom-and-dooming about the environment. I think at this point we all know that we’re in some pretty deep trouble. What I’m interested in is solutions. Buying less and living more. Re-using, repurposing, and throwing away only what we must and in the best possible way. If you’re interested in banding together with your community to find creative solutions to climate change and peak oil, then check out the Transition Town movement. There’s a burgeoning Transition movement in the County that I’m proud to be a part of. As we celebrate Earth Day next week, let’s remember that the earth is our home, and stop throwing junk in our collective back yard!

01 April 2010

On the Trail

Last week the 2010 Arts Trail guide was released. It’s a slick, glossy guide to many of the galleries in Prince Edward County, and best of all, Small Pond Arts is in it!

Milé picked up two cases of the guides for us to hand out, as well as our municipally-issued Arts Trail sign, but one little thing was nagging at me… oh yeah, the gallery doesn’t exist yet!

Details, details. Our gallery opens on May 1, now a mere 30 days away. So with the Arts Trail guides hot off the press, I became suddenly motivated to spend most of the week getting the gallery into shape. Milé said to me the other day, “I never thought I’d have a gallery.” He’s been painting for more than 20 years, and is incredibly talented and prolific, so I don’t feel like having a gallery is that much of a stretch. Having a silo, especially when you’re a puppeteer just moved from the city – now that’s unexpected.

I woke up early this morning, sun streaming through the blinds in our temporary bedroom. This room has the most beautiful floor grate (the star turns to open and close the grate).

Our own bedroom – like the gallery – doesn’t exist yet. But it will soon. I know, because we’ve hired someone to make it so. The gallery: our responsibility.

I pulled on my painting clothes. I’ve been wearing them all week. Why put on something clean at this point?

Before spending another whole day inhaling paint fumes, I went for a walk around our property. The morning air was vibrating with life – birds, frogs, crickets, all raising their voices together with the dawn, creating a resounding chorus that brought a smile to my face.

The sun shone unabashedly as I took a tour around the gardens behind our house. While I’d been slaving away painting the gallery all week, sleeping plants had awoken, pushing their petals towards the sun.

In another garden – a typewriter, just waiting for inspiration.

In the field, remembrances of last year’s blooms.

And in the gallery, white walls await my Milé’s vibrant, gorgeous paintings. And there's a puppeteer who’s ready to dance, because it’s going to be freaking great.