Sunday, May 17, 2020

Montreal - A Girdled Porcupine (reflections on a reunion in 2013)

Forty years, unbelievable and yet, a reality; that it's been that long since I graduated from McGill with my M.D.;C.M. and a little B.Sc. tucked in as well for my six-year experience. Annie Foyle, you said some of the time at school felt ethereal. Medicine not necessarily what you might have chosen, either, had you been given more time to think about it. You have had a rewarding career, nonetheless, as have I, and yet I understand entirely. One finds oneself in high school with only a vague sense of the future, a glimpse of purpose, some inkling of direction. Poof! You are there, and somehow you make it through a fantastic experience. Now, forty years later, there is perspective and time to reflect. Before this time, it's the demands of the job that comes with this challenging career choice, the intense needs of spouse and family, and just a little time with friends and creativity. Not enough sand in the hourglass for more. Reflection and introspection become needs and indulgences of maturity.
I noticed how many of us reflected on the subject, "Will we be there for future reunions?" Our aches and pains, cancer, angina, hypertension, and arthritis and just the feeling of fatigue at the end of a day all force us to look ahead to the reality of mortality. (As I edit this in 2020 the spectre of Co-Vid 19 also looms.) Some of our classmates are no longer with us already. Some lost far too soon.

I enjoyed the reunion, despite my feeling that it was much too short. Not the medicine reunion, that was about right; but, those events conflicted with general reunion events that I would like to have attended on campus. I did visit and thoroughly enjoyed the Leacock luncheon; Dan Needles was the speaker. I enjoyed his talk enough that I'm planning to buy a book or two. I believe some of my former Lutheran Collegiate Bible Institute classmates might enjoy these stories, too. The humor rings genuine in the telling. Maybe, copies will make their way back north. Warm and folksy humor tickles my fancy.

I am an inadvertent object of humor too often, which maybe is why I like the fun of a gentle nature at other's expense. It happened one night when walking back to my hotel, where a statement of mine was taken to mean something entirely not innocent. While Ms. Manners might suggest responding with humor, I shook my head. I was silent, reflecting on how men's minds tend to bring sexual innuendo to any comment. Maybe women's, too, though I do not find that personally, is my style. My husband reflects that I am perpetually naive, I think he's right.

Annie arranged a lecture about the history of the architecture of the McGill campus by Professor David Covo at our reunion dinner. I was fascinated! Montreal is an island with a beautiful mountaintop park, designed by Olmsted, at its center. Treasured vistas are preserved by the architects as they plan the city. Maintaining the view, preservation of history, and a push for green architecture are restraints.

The title of this essay is not a reference to the beautiful quill beading done by that tiny fraction of my ancestry, the Metis, and First Nation people. This is the feeling I have when I look about me on the streets of Montreal and as I walk through campus. It's an unsettling architecture where things fit in where they may, edgy and contemporary. There is not the soaring verticality of New York City. There are no broad sweeps of Parisian boulevards, nor the feeling I get here in Sacramento, where buildings seem to flow with the rivers. While Montreal is a mountain, there are not the seesaw vistas of San Francisco, but an entirely different mood. I notice a feeling of constraint and of angles. A sprinkle doughnut on a spindle, an image I considered when I reflected on how I felt about the city, was a picture quickly discarded. That description did not give me the disquiet I feel about Montreal, nor has the city any feeling of roundness or bloat. Somehow, an image of a cute porcupine its head and quills upright and its nethers constrained by a too-tight girdle seems right. Montreal is not a town of comfort, and I'm not sure it aspires to be. The city does not comfortably accommodate the handicapped. Historical preservation even dictates the exclusion of service to those citizens in need, denying modifications for that purpose. I learned, within the grey walls of the structures of McGill, contemporary architects include bits of color and cozy coffee spots.  They see these as a necessary requirement in a world where the environment is often grey and white. In the city itself, here are sidewalk cafes and cozy little sandwich shops with a good smattering of hipster fashion and classic design. The buildings mix the very old and the new in the same edgy way as the campus. Like most North American urban areas, vacant and blighted buildings are not a strong aspect of the city; activity and construction are more dominant features.

Politics and controversy colored reunion conversations and elicited passionate discourse. It was a delight to hear speeches where the rights of all to health care was assumed, championed not argued. The passion for making the care and system better was the focus of the speeches. How Americans can tolerate the healthcare we live with, truly mystifies many who live in Canada. Yet, many classmates, like me, have found their way to the USA. Weather is a significant factor, and so is the opportunity the USA affords. Canada may be a vast land, yet it has a population less than California. That's a significant factor in a people-focused business.

Reflections are often a bit rambling, and I've taken you on quite a meandering path with this essay. I'm happy I found this amidst the drafts in my Blogger file. Only three short years until our 50th!

Slow kitchen progress after 6 months

 Northeast view of Kitchen on left, Southeast view of Kitchen on right
 West/Southwest view of the Kitchen

West view Dining room on left, west view of TV room below

I've not done a follow up on the kitchen remodel until now. It is the most hellish process. I think I'd hoped to be finished at the end of 2019. Nope!

We had errors in our cabinet delivery that postponed installation. Then, I forgot to report a mistake in that order and needed to put in a late correction. Home Depot initially ordered in the wrong color, and I did not catch it until late in February.

Co-Vid 19 has delayed that delivery. For now, our contractor is working around that, but first, we needed to be sure the work was done safely with little viral danger for us. The contractor has had to scale back his business because of the virus. Smaller crews mean more delays.
We have 95% of the cupboards installed. The over-the-fridge cabinet from Thomasville () is now 4 weeks delayed from the promised delivery time. Likely the virus is a factor in that.

The quartz countertops and apron front sink are in and look gorgeous.

We do have our beautiful new windows installed, and the roof where the once contentious window lights were installed is now fixed. We did not have a soffit in that room, and the contractor has convinced me it is better to have one to keep the walls consistent in adjoining rooms. I just hate that "1980's" look. But, we cannot remove the soffits in the dining room and breakfast area because of structural and ducting issues. I'm sure I'll learn to live with it. I suppose if I hate it enough, we can take it out and redo that drywall.

Repairs to the walls and ceiling have been made, and I believe the next step is painting.

I'm so anxious to see the dining room chandelier and the kitchen pendant light hung and the cork floors in.

I've made disastrous design decisions in the past; while so far is so good, I'm biting my nails hoping I've made wise choices this time.

All kinds of white kitchens are featured on T.V. and in print. I know that white would not suit the style of this home. Still, I worry that it may look too dark, though we have lots of ceiling cans, undercabinet lighting, and I'm getting a quote on drawer lighting. Having two-toned cabinets may date this kitchen down the road, but I love the colors so much. So lovely to see how the veining in the countertop works with both colors.

While it is a mystery as to when this will all be done, I'm hoping I'll have photos of the finished product by summer.

P.S. We need to have repairs and painting done on the exterior of the home. I hired a designer to pick colors. That decision just proved too stressful. All I know is that it has to be another color than it is now.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

52: Building a Multi-Faceted Creative Career with Pat Wood

Welcome to today's show! We have Patricia Wood, Karen's friend, and teacher, with us today. Pat is a professor of art at American River College, where she is currently teaching printmaking and drawing. She is also the director of the Kaneko Gallery, which is the campus art gallery. Today, Pat tells us about what she's doing at American River College- the fabulous art shows she's put together for the Kaneko Gallery, and the fun projects she's coordinated with her students. She also talks to us about her background and the kind of art that she creates. Listen in today, to hear all about Pat's creative approach to her life, her art, and her stimulating and multi-faceted job.
The Kaneko Gallery is situated at the American River College in Sacramento, California. Pat has been the Kaneko Gallery Director since 2016, and she coordinates and produces all the shows that are held there. Pat is also part of the Permanent Collection Committee for American River College, which oversees the college art collections for the 200 campuses in America that have part of the Andy Warhol estate. Tune in now, for more.  
Show highlights:
  • Pat discusses the various art shows she coordinates for the Kaneko Gallery every year. These are massive undertakings.
  • This year, Barbara Range, the curator, and director of the Brickhouse Gallery will be the juror for the annual student art competition.
  • Pat explains why her bookings run way into the future.
  • Coordinating art shows has been a lot of fun!
  • Building an entire room within the gallery.
  • American River College now owns an Elizabeth Catlin linoleum cut print, a Jacob Lawrence silkscreen, and a Simela Lewis woodcut.
  • American River College has some beautiful art.
  • The Warhol Collection, consisting of photographs and silkscreens, was gifted to American River College.
  • Finding the best way to create a map for the art collections.
  • Teaching art appreciation and an introduction to art history.
  • Making a public art piece was an interesting assignment.
  • Pat talks to us about the art that she creates.
  • Pat has been focused on drawing, with a bit of mixed media, for the past couple of years.
  • Pat had some sketches in the recent SMD (Sacramento Municipal District) show.
  • Pat got her MFA from the University of Arizona in 1997 and she later became a double major.
  • Pat talks about the time at the University of Arizona.
  • What Pat has noticed about children and art.
  • Why everyone should create some kind of art.
Pat Wood link Patricia Wood Art
Pat Wood is correct, American River College is not the only community college that received grants from the Warhol Foundation, but most recipients are universities. For a complete list of recipients, you can go to Photographic Legacy.
Links to individuals and places mentioned by Pat Wood in the podcast:
Jodie Hooker 
Mick Sheldon
Kaneko Gallery 
ARC Kaneko Gallery
Student Show submissions 
Barbara Range, Brickhouse Gallery 
Shenny Cruces
Angela Casagrandes 
Rachel Clarke 
art new media link to photo at the Rachel Clarke show 
Fan Lee Warren 
Unity Lewis   
Unity and Samela Lewis 
Samela Lewis
The History Makers: Samella Lewis 39
Black Arts Movement 
Jacob Lawrence 
Elizabeth Catlett 
Betye Saar 
Charles White 
Charles White migration series 
Crocker Art Museum 
Sarah Mattson 
Ken Magri 
Linda Gelfman 
Garr Ugalde 
Figurative Angel Sculptures
Ruby Chacon 
ARC campus painted mural 
Randy Schuster
Wayfinder’s map 
Dolores White
SMUD Gallery 
Craig Smith 
Lorrie Kempf 
Laura Parker 
Joy Burtinuson 
American River College (ARC)  
University of Arizona, Tucson
Sacramento City College 
University of California Davis 
Haleh Niazmand  
Stephanie Ryan  
Pima Community College  
Tucson Arts Foundation 
Sierra Community College  
San Joaquin Delta College 
Rillito River  
Mount Lemmon 
Rose Canyon 
Alan Short Center 
Fairytale Town 
Art Folsom prison 
Rehabilitative Arts CA State Prisons 
Davis Art Center 
California Youth Authority Arts Programs 

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The beginning of a Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen remodel, do those two words make you start shaking? I am feeling some anxiety as we finally, after 30 years of living here, are going ahead with this long-overdue project.
We did make a few fixes along the way. Sadly, now, even the fixes need fixing!
The flooring is tired and some loose by the pantry. The microwave, stovetop, and fridge have challenges. The lighting is awful, the cabinets are worn. The countertop tile is that ugly white stuff with the wide dark grout, and it is loose in places too. The water pressure needs improvement and there is a too wide gap by the pipes that lead outside. On occasion, a small creature like a frog or rat has appeared. Yuck!

So now the challenge is making the most of one's money. It's not that easy though. Plans must be done by a professional for a permit and there are always a dozen things to consider. You cannot change only two of the three front windows on the front of the house and have it look right, so all three must be updated. It does go on and on.

The advantage though is that this 40-year-old kitchen will be up-to-date and the badly needed repairs and repainting of the house exterior will be done at last.
I must admit that until the past couple of years I had little interest in the kitchen. Learning to cook has changed my thought process a lot, as has an organizer who has helped me get control of my home. When things are tidy the underlying deficiencies are a lot more obvious.

I am a bit nervous about how it will all turn out. I purchased the cabinets and appliances before we hired the designer to draw up the formal plans and that may have been rash. I did love the colors ( slate blue lower cabinets and wood with an orange tint finish for the upper) and trust that the brand names, Thomasville and KitchenAid, mean a decent product. I want a dark cork floor. I'm so looking forward to the floor I've often thought of having. I was at a gallery in San Francisco (Crown Point Press) this week which had cork floors. I really liked walking on that surface. That made me very certain that was a good decision. (BTW - the current show at Crown Point of Gay Outlaw's prints, and ones she curated to hang with them in the gallery, is terrific.)

I want things to be simple and efficient. My husband likes an excess of gadgets and clutter in the kitchen, so it may be a challenge to keep the look. Fingers are crossed!

I'm posting a "before" photo now and hope that I'll have some wonderful "after" shots before the end of 2019.



Wednesday, October 2, 2019

51: How Your Health Can Impact Your Creativity with David Cornish

Are you bursting with creativity or are you perhaps feeling a little under the weather right now? Have you noticed how much your state of health impacts on your levels of creativity? Today, we're starting season three of the podcast with an interview with Dr. David Cornish. David is Karen's friend and he's the author of two terrific novels, 1918: The Great Pandemic, and 1980: The Emergence of HIV. With the current escalation of viral illnesses in the world, this is a really good time for reading these topical novels, so tune in, to learn more about David Cornish and his books.       
David practiced gastro-neurology for thirty-three years before retiring last year. He still works part-time, though, to keep his hand in the craft. He has always loved writing and even took some writing courses while studying Medicine at the University of California. About ten years ago, David wrote two non-fiction books about service in medicine. (Evidence In-Service and The Essential 20.) Then, about three years later, he decided to try his hand at writing a novel, and this was followed by a sequel a few years later. In today's episode, David talks about his two novels. He discusses his process of writing and he explores the reasons for reading and writing stories. He also reflects on the seriousness of viral illness, and the emotion behind human stories that are associated with diseases like influenza and HIV. Listen in today, to hear about David's creative approach to writing.
Show highlights:
  • David explains how he got into writing books and why he chose these specific topics to write about.
  • The influenza pandemic in 1918 was the worst natural disaster in human history.
  • The main characters in David's books are fictional, but the events are all accurate.
  • David talks about some of the projects he's taken on since retiring.
  • David explains why he likes writing historical fiction.
  • The difference between writing fiction, and writing about something technical, related to medicine.
  • David found fiction a lot harder to write than non-fiction.
  • David's approach to writing historical fiction.
  • David talks about why people read novels rather than non-fiction.
  • The influence that David's mother had on his creativity and his writing.
  • Writing from what you like, and about what you know.
  • David talks about the teachers who inspired him to write.
  • Why you need to keep re-reading and revising what you have written.
  • David explains why you need to have someone edit your work.
  • David shares some observations about the difficulties associated with publishing a book, currently.
  • Why ebooks are here to stay.
  • David shares his thoughts about creativity, and about where his writing comes from.
Karen's website: A Creative Approach Podcast
David's website: David Cornish Books. This is where you will find his bio and information about his books. All David's books, including the non-fiction ones, have links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
David's Facebook Page
The link to Ursula Le Guin: Wikipedia: Ursula K. Le Guin

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

50: Creating Art with Deep and Meaningful Connections with Catherine Rains

Would you like to know what inspires an artist to create a meaningful piece of work? Today's guest is Catherine Rains. Catherine is an artist and she is an excellent example of how evolution works in collage, her chosen medium of art. Catherine has had a really intriguing art career. In today's episode, she talks to us about her skills, and about her certification in evaluating personalities. She also explains how she lets her art speak to her over time a period of time as she creates it, and how she brings a deep and meaningful spiritual connection to her pieces. Listen in today, to learn more about Catherine and her work.
Until age 33, Catherine often said that she didn't have an artistic bone in her body. Catherine discovered her life calling in the middle of an overwhelming day job, where she created her first collage just to relieve stress.  This simple beginning eventually led to quitting her day gig to manage a thriving art business. Then her journey took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  This led her back to a day job for the next 10 years, traveling across the US, creating almost no art. Three years ago she decided to integrate the day job she loved with the art she could not live without, by setting up an art studio in every hotel she visited and following a structured schedule to fit art back into her life. As a result of this self-commitment, she returned to her greatest passion – art – on January 1, 2018. Tune in, to find out about Catherine's creative approach to her life and her work.
Show Highlights:
  • Catherine talks about what she does as a collage painter.
  • Catherine's art is mixed media collage infused with spirituality, meaning, and inspiration.
  • Finding relief from a job she did not enjoy with collage.
  • Figuring out how to make a living from art.
  • Quitting her job and focusing on expanding her skills.
  • Coming to realizing that she really loved doing collage and that it gives her incredible joy.
  • What Catherine has discovered about making money from art.
  • What the business of art looks like for Catherine.
  • How posting on Instagram teaches her to be real and authentic.
  • Inspiring people with her art.
  • Speaking to people on a deeper level with her art.
  • The spiritual aspect of Catherine's art.
  • Communicating with her art piece as if it is a living being.
  • Looking for a title that will draw people in.
  • The unique way that Catherine blesses her art.
  • Catherine believes that there is an art to marketing art.
  • Asking for guidance as she creates a piece. in order to allow the magic to happen.
  • Certifying people with Myers-Briggs for the moment, in order to take the pressure off having to make money from art.
  • How Catherine's creative process is set in motion.
  • Catherine really loves teaching. She would like to teach Soul Collage in the next year or two.
  • Catherine has been a breast cancer survivor since 2004. It has transformed her life and only produced good things for her and caused her to grow.
Catherine Rains
Instagram: Catrains Artist
Wikipedia: Myers Briggs Type Indicator
The Myers Briggs
Emily Jeffords
Kelly Raero Berts
Beth Kirby
Soul Collage
Art Of Karen Poirier Brode

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

49: Creating Visual Art in Your Local Community with April Bey

Are you dedicated to creating wonderful art? If so you are really in for a treat! Today's guest is April Bey, an exciting visual artist, and teacher. April teaches art at a community college in California. She loves drawing and using her art to explore contemporary themes about current events. In today's episode, April talks to us about her life, her studies, her art, and her career. Tune in now to find out more.
April grew up in the Bahamas, and for all her life she's been passionately creating. Art is a very prominent subject in schools in the Bahamas, yet April realized during high school that there were no careers in art to be had there. So she moved to the United States. She did her undergrad in the Midwest, obtaining a BFA in drawing from Ball State University. She then went to LA, to do her master's in interdisciplinary painting at California State University in Northridge, Los Angeles. Listen in today, to find out about April's creative approach to her art and teaching.
Show highlights:
  • At the moment, April is doing a lot of sewing that's acting as drawing.
  • April explains how she got to where she is right now with her art.
  • She is currently making art about West Africa and textiles, how women run the trade there, and how their labor is often exploited.
  • The materials and techniques that she uses.
  • Why April loved the freedom of teaching at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena so much.
  • Having overbearing foreign parents is something that April has in common with many of the students at the community colleges.
  • What led April to explore the textiles of Africa.
  • A lot of the fabric in Ghana is imported.
  • All the places in Africa that April went to on her research trip.
  • April's textile works also act as portraits.
  • You can go to April's website to take a look at her awesome art. Go to April Bey.
  • What you can expect to find on April's website.
  • She does a lot of work with feminist themes.
  • Some of the advice that April gives to her art students.
  • April had some really wonderful mentors.
  • Some of the shows that are coming up for April.
April's website:  April Bey.

Check out this episode!

Montreal - A Girdled Porcupine (reflections on a reunion in 2013)

Forty years, unbelievable and yet, a reality; that it's been that long since I graduated from McGill with my M.D.;C.M. and a l...