Lume

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I haven’t studied architecture in the classroom for a few months now, but I have made an effort to continue my learning; I’ve been reading architectural texts, practicing my sketching skills, and working on hypotheticals. In January I was lucky enough to learn of a competition based out of Canada exploring light and the built environment. The theme this year was Interface, where the built and unbuilt environments meet. Living on the coast, I gravitated toward the ultimate interface between land, which is built-on and pretty much under control, and the untamable ocean. I designed a system of lights and gathering points for the trails at Signal Hill, which I’ve nearly fallen from on more than one occasion. The jury deliberated recently and, while I did not place, I did learn a lot from the experience – and I have some new portfolio pages to boot!

mike

Self Love Files: Hot Yoga or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Sweat

hotyogaI am the sweatiest person in my hot yoga class. This is a statement I believe to be true, and it embarrasses me to no end. I have always been a heavy perspirer. On hot summer days I melt like a snowman. During job interviews I sweat through my camisole, button up, and blazer. I have organized my closet into shirts that hide sweat, and shirts that don’t. I wouldn’t say my personal condensation rises to the level of a medical condition, but it is a feature of myself with which I must contend.

My wonderful friend Lisa Walters and I committed to doing 30 days of (mostly) hot yoga at our local Moksha Yoga Studio in St. John’s (read about her experiences here). Classes so far have been amazing. Just being in a room for one hour while an instructor reminds you to be kind to your body, to love yourself, to be aware (but not judgmental) of your limitations, is a form of therapy. My only issue with hot yoga is not one I can blame on the studio. It is a problem I have with myself, or more accurately, with my sweat.

I know sweating is part of the goal of hot yoga. It’s done in a room heated to about 38 degress Celsius and it’s meant to make you sweat in order to detoxify the body and help ease you into challenging poses. Despite this fact, during class I can’t help looking around the room and feeling like I’m the only one completely swimming in a pool of my own perspiration.

How bad is it? During practice my hair becomes soaked, my clothes get drenched, and sweat creeps into my eyes, mouth, and ears. I feel like I have a responsibility to warn anyone near me that they have entered a “splash zone,” and will likely get sprayed. I fear the instructor will come over to adjust my pose only to run screaming out of the room when she touches my sweaty, clammy skin.

Why does my sweat bother me so much? At first I thought it was because it makes me look ugly. Then on second thought, I realized that I don’t really care that much about my sexual appeal during hot yoga class. Sure, I look kind of nasty, but no one there looks like they are about to go out for a night on the town. Hot yoga is not a beauty pageant.

I think the real reason my sweat bothers me is that I view it as a sign of weakness. My inordinate perspiration feels like my body mocking me, loudly announcing to the class, “Hey everyone, look at this Fatty Fatty Fat Pants who can’t even handle some stretches in a hot room!” Each bead is a capitulation, proof of my failure to be in perfect shape. Surely if I were more fit I wouldn’t be sweating so much. My sweat becomes this sticky reminder of my lack of will power, discipline, of my inability to walk away from that delicious Nanaimo bar last week.

Almost immediately after convincing myself that my sweat was proof of individual weakness, I started to wonder. How can I be weak when I hold downward dog with such strength and stability? How can I be weak when my tree pose is balanced, steady? How can I be weak when my breath flows freely during practice? How can I be weak when hot yoga makes me feel so powerful?

I have come to realize that sweat is not my body’s way of mocking me, but thanking me. She is saying, “Hey girl, I appreciate you doing this for me, now let me send you something to help cool you down.” Sweat is a thank you. It is a gift. It’s not chocolate or a vintage dress, but it does keep you from dying of heat, so it’s still pretty good.

Understood in these terms, I start to feel better about my excess perspiration. Don’t get me wrong, I still find sweat kind of gross, I mean, it does make you sticky and a bit smelly, but it is not a sign of defeat. It is evidence of the symbiotic relationship between me and my body, each one giving the other something it needs.

For me, embracing my sweat has been a radical act of self-love. I have come to love myself, love my sweat, and really love hot yoga.

katie

Sweet Tooth

One of our favourite parts of a St. John’s summer is Eastern Edge’s Art Marathon Festival, so named for a 24-hour marathon of art-making that’s been taking place for more than 15 years. Since its inception, the marathon has expanded into nearly a week of activities: workshops, performances, talks, and installations. This year, the organizers accepted submissions for a festival zine entitled Sweet Tooth, centered around themes of indulgence, sweetness, and excess. I didn’t have anything to submit at the time, but thanks to Katie’s collection of vintage magazines and a stroke of inspiration, I managed to put a few arrangements together. When I finally picked up a copy I was surprised to see both my submissions on a great two-page spread! While I get the feeling there were few (if any) rejections, it does feel good to see your work in print.

mike

The Golden Pheasant

A few years ago the Turner’s Tavern building in downtown St. John’s was turned into a number of high-end apartments and a jewellery store. Maybe the greatest loss from the project was the historic mural which covered the building’s west side.

The original Golden Pheasant mural faded into obscurity half a century ago but it was recently painstakingly and expensively restored by two local artists. This kind of history is so easy to preserve – a low-upkeep iconic image and way-finding device for the downtown – that needlessly destroying it is especially sad.

This post is a partial digital reproduction of the most recent mural that I put together from photos. I love the style, and the whole situation is one I’d like to look at in some sort of future project.

mike

Mahone Bay Scarecrow Festival

Last weekend Mike and I decided to drive out to Mahone Bay to check out the town’s annual Scarecrow Festival. Boasting over 150 life-size scarecrows, the festival was a pit stop for not only this year’s Amazing Race Canada, but thousands of Nova Scotians. There was a great variety of scarecrows, from fishermen to witches to politicians and royals. While we were there we also checked out some amazing local shops, like Peacocks Antique & Vintage, an adorable vintage shop full of clothing circa the1930s and 1920s. We also participated in a little food tourism, eating homemade oktoberfest sausage from a street vendor and splitting some cheesecake at the Biscuit Eater Cafe and Bookstore. All in all, it was the perfect fall adventure.

katie

Thomas Howe Demonstration Forest

A few more photos from home. The Thomas Howe Demonstration Forest in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador is one of my family’s favourite places to walk on nice evenings. The trail system passes through a mostly undisturbed forest of trees both new and very very old. Just off the path the remains of a Second World War-era B-17G bomber are slowly becoming part of the landscape. Teddy, the family pet, is a huge fan of the streams in the area.

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Plate Cove

The bar and the bean are in separate provinces this week as Katie holds down the fort in Halifax and I visit family and friends in Newfoundland and Labrador. Last Thursday Dad and I traveled to Plate Cove, Bonavista Bay to take part in the food fishery. We found a berth on a relative’s boat and filled our quota early Friday morning. For many who live on the coast this is a near-daily ritual, leaving at dawn to catch cod for dinner or to dry or freeze for the Fall and Winter.

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Abandoned

One of the many abandoned homes in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. This house is particularly striking because it looks both neglected and lived in; its paint is chipping and its power is cut but curtains still adorn its windows and flyers still hang from its doorknob.

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(This week “the bean” has been visiting his home province.)

Natal Day

Last weekend Halifax was a buzz with Natal Day festivities. Although Mike and I tried to avoid most of the events (neither of us are fans of big crowds), we did not miss the waterfront fireworks display on Saturday night. That night we walked down to the harbour, claimed a small piece of dock as our own, and enjoyed some of the best fireworks I’ve ever seen. Here are a few shots taken from our view at the harbour – the tall buildings that surrounded us and the fireworks that lit up the night sky. We usually would take more pictures at an event like this, but I think we were both too busy enjoying the view.

katie

30 Mile Yard Sale

After missing the “world’s largest flea market” last year we’ve finally redeemed ourselves with what may be the world’s longest. Last Saturday we traveled to rural Nova Scotia (Caledonia, to be precise) to check out the 30 Mile Yard Sale. Most of the town was out in force, selling many lifetimes’ worth of possessions by the roadside. Some of our purchases include a small shoe collection for Katie, some storybooks from the 1930s/1940s, a wall clock that would not be out of place in any grandparent’s kitchen, two pieces of Nova Scotian-made hard-shell luggage, and a few tools for myself. Before heading home we stopped at the Hollow Log Cafe for iced coffee and chocolate peanut butter cheesecake. The service and presentation were excellent, and my only regret is not eating a whole meal there. See our photo post from a few days ago for more photos from our trip!

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