Well I don’t actually live right next door. The mortuary is one parking lot and one old-house-turned-doctor’s office over from my house.
Usually the mortuary staff are very discreet. But the other day when I was pulling out of the back alley (where I park), I saw them unloading a body from a big truck.
I tried not to look, but my breath caught in my throat and I stopped babbling to my three year old in mid-sentence. They were wheeling “it” in on a gurney and the body appeared to be covered with a clear plastic bag. It also appeared to have clothes on. Perhaps that is my overactive imagination filling in the details . They were very quick about pushing the gurney into the back doors of the mortuary, but I had seen what I had dreaded seeing for the 2.5 years I have lived here: a dead body
Prior to buying our house (years ago in fact) when my seven year old son was but a wee baby, Lupe and I were walking by this house and we were remarking how neat it would be to own that charming old brick house with the gingerbread in the eaves.
Lupe’s only reservation at the time was: “Yeah but it’s so close to a mortuary – wouldn’t that bother you?”
As 2012 careens to a close, and my blog’s one year anniversary fast approaches, I thought it was time for a look back.
In case you missed any of my most excellent posts this past year here is a ‘top-ten’ round-up of the most popular and, MY most favorite….
Most popular posts – according to Google Analytics:
It has been over a month now since Hurricane Sandy pummelled the coastal areas of the north-eastern United States. Damage assessments have been staggering: the hard-hit state of New Jersey experienced $36.8 billion in damage. In New York state there was over $9.7 billion in damage just to the housing stock alone.
The headaches will be long-term and catastrophic for many homeowners who survived the storm.
If you own a house, you know the importance of purchasing basic homeowner’s insurance, but have you ever considered that you might need flood insurance as well?
Flood insurance is optional unless you live in a designated flood zone and your mortgage company requires you to purchase federal flood insurance (I experienced this at my former house). But if you own your home outright, or do not live in a flood zone, you are not required to have flood insurance. It is purely voluntary. And most people don’t think they need it.
Case in point:
Many homeowners who lived high up on the western hillside of Colorado Springs, Colorado never dreamed they would need flood insurance. Why would you if you lived at a high elevation, away from all the low-lying creeks and riverbed areas?
Then last summer the Waldo Canyon Fire struck, burning large swaths of entire neighborhoods to the ground. Over 300 families lost their homes – it was the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history.
But the hardships didn’t end there. The massive burn-scar on the west side of Colorado Springs now looks like a charred moon-scape. There is little to no vegetation left to absorb moisture. In fact, the whole composition of the soil and the landscape has changed, creating new pathways for water to get down the mountainside.
Dollhouse, 1972, wood and mixed media by Miriam Schapiro
Few things motivate me as much as art, houses, literature, history and feminism. The combination of those elements – like in Miriam Schapiro’s mixed media Dollhouse [above] - sets my little heart a flutter with creative muses. Add to that mix a Canadian perspective, and you’ve got me pretty much over-brimming with contentment.
Canadian born Miriam Schapiro‘s 1972 statement piece was part of a larger feminist cooperative installation in California called Womanhouse where an old Hollywood mansion was transformed by a group of feminist artists into expressive rooms dealing with different aspects of women’s lives.
Schapiro and her assistant Sherry Brody spent months collecting bits of fabric, tea towels, lace, and personal mementos from women around the country and then put them all together in compartmentalized “rooms” within a dollhouse.
The result was an expression of the often conflicting roles of artist, wife, and mother that Schapiro was experiencing and that many other women experience as well.
A parlor, a kitchen, a Hollywood star’s bedroom, a “harem” room, a nursery, and, on the top floor, an artist’s studio suggest these conflicting roles. The different symbols challenge the idea that the domestic lives of women prevent them from making “serious” art. At the same time, the tiny rooms in Dollhouse evoke cells in which the hopes of women are often imprisoned.
I remember studying Schapiro’s work in my high-school art class in northern Ontario. The concept of women’s experiences being represented in miniature “rooms” was obvisouly very intriguing to me.
Why? It probably has something to do with the traditional notion that domestic spaces are women’s spaces. And that there can be something empowering and even subversive about women manipulating those spaces.
Have a look at Canadian photographer/artist Julia Callon‘s Houses of Fiction – a series of photographed dollhouse-sized rooms that depict “The dichotomous representation of women – mad or sane”.
Using famous female author’s 19th century work as subject matter, Callon meticulously crafted the rooms to perfection… then destroyed them by descending each one into some type of chaos:
Wuthering Heights No. 1
Wuthering Heights No. 2
It’s controlled chaos, of course.
I was approached last week about doing a post on minimalist furniture. My first thought was: “Nah, I don’t really do minimalist” But then I thought about it and decided that maybe I’m missing out. After all, the recent natural disasters have got me thinking that the ‘less is more’ philosophy is onto something. Maybe we don’t need so much stuff. Maybe we can live more affordably, efficiently and greenly [word?] if we learn to live with less. So without further ado, here is the post on minimalist style…