With Rudi in his first year of school, sharing Valentine cards en mass is suddenly an important issue in our household! I took to the internet searching for a non-commercial, non-saccharine option and I found this wonderful Love Bug Jar idea from Danyelle at Dandee Designs, who generously shared her template with the world (I highly recommend checking it out immediately).
Rudi is very excited about writing, he can make most letters, uppercase and lower, from memory when I recite them out loud to him in the order of a name, which totally, utterly astounds me. Such fast learning. Oh to be four!
He was very taken with the bug idea but didn’t want any “creepy” bugs, so we went with butterflies and ladybugs. He toiled away, writing his name on the back of each jar (after a love from by me because he declared that to be “too many words for a boy to write.”) and wrote the recipient names on every single jar card in just two sittings. So proud I have a major crafty-boy with super-craft-stamina on my hands!
He loved the glueing. I accidentally used wood glue that I thought was craft glue so it looks yellow — I guess that can be the creepy bit on these cards, and Rudi doesn’t care! I’d put a dot of glue down and he’d carefully place the bug, deciding out-loud which way it should face. He also decided we should use the same ink as colour of bug. I’d suggested opposite colours but he said, “same would be better for sure.” Fair enough! Ta-da — heaps of wonderful valentines for the class, now we’re working on more for cousins and friends.
And a little added love bonus from my friend Lindsay and her project The Love Lettering Project: she’ll send you a package of letters so you can spread your own anonymous love letters to the people, places, things that you love! You should totally do it! Click on the photo for more info:
I’ve been tossing around the idea of doing a series of interviews with some lovely creative types I want to share with you. Since I’m heading to Alberta this summer maybe I have gold rush on my mind, but truly, each of the women I’ll feature here is a golden nugget of excellence in the career she’s carved out for herself! Therefore, I am delighted to present the inaugural:
Pocket Alchemy Nugget of Awesome Interviews: eight interviews with eight inspiring, artistic, self-starting women over the eight weeks of summer. I am proud to call each of them friend and am delighted to share them and their work here. Please note that I am replacing my regular Rearview Fridays posts with these interviews over the summer.
LINDSAY ZIER-VOGELis my most familiar and regular artistic collaborator. She is also a wicked friend to me and an amazing cheerleader in both joy and trouble. We met in 1998 at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre where we studied together for 3 years. Lindsay hired me as a dancer, my first professional gig, in her dance work September Sentence. Since then I have made costumes for her, she has made choreography on me, we’ve made dances together. I edit her writing, she taught me to make books, we had a line of clothing together called Puddles in my Pocket (a combo of her Puddle Press and my Pocket Alchemy and yes, the acronym is P.I.M.P. We didn’t realize…) We taught workshops in schools on combining poetry and dance, we even rocked that workshop at Hillside Festival a couple of times! Whew. Lindsay’s an absolute force to be reckoned with, she’s got verve.
Lindsay Zier-Vogel is a Toronto-based writer, arts educator and bookmaker. She studied contemporary dance at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and completed at Masters of English at the University of Toronto.
She is currently working on her second novel titled “The Opposite of Drowning,” where 20-year-old Bea Porter confronts grief as a lifeguard on the edge of Lake Ontario.
Lindsay has written text for various dance pieces including Susan Kendal’s OrganStories and travelled to Saskatchewan for a three-week creation residency for Shannon Litzenberger’s HOMEbody.
Lindsay teaches writing and book making workshops and is the creator of The Love Lettering Project, a one-of-a-kind community-based love letter art project that was featured on CBC Television’s The National and deemed one of the top 50 reasons to love Toronto in Toronto Life magazine.
Pocket Alchemy Question: Tell me about your artistic work.
Lindsay Zier-Vogel: I do a bunch of different things – I’m working on a novel about a 20-year-old lifeguard named Bea, and have been writing the “scripts” for a bunch of dance performances this year. I am the creator of The Love Lettering Project, a community arts project that gets people writing anonymous love letters to their city. I also make limited edition hand-bound books and a Toronto Brunch Map.
I like juggling a lot of different projects as I find they often end up informing each other. I also love creating tangible “things” – books, baked goods, anything I can hold in my hand as novel-writing is a lot of sitting in front of a computer time.
PAQ: what is currently sparking your imagination?
LZV: Lake Ontario. I live close by and have set my current novel on its edge. I love that it looks like an ocean if you stand in the right place. I love how the light shatters off its surface. I love that it can blend seamlessly with the sky. I love that it is deep and dark and filled with seaweed and eels, and also swimmable.
And in terms of paper-y creations, my deep, deep love for this city [Toronto] I live in. For this year’s love lettering project, I’ve been hearing about what hundreds of strangers-to-me love about this city. It inspires me to no end.
PAQ: How do you structure and manage your days/weeks/months to get it all in? Do you have micro/macro plans that you stick to?
LZV:I write every morning, which means I have to get up way before I’d like to, but it’s when I get my best writing done, so sleep be damned. I also go (in my pjs!) to a coffee shop around the corner that has no internet, which helps me stay focused. I’ve also realized that I write in the mornings because I want to do the thing I love most before I do anything else. Even if the rest of the day goes sideways, I will have done the thing that matters most to me right off the top. I use evenings post-work to juggle grant-writing, website updating and love letter admin work.
I wish I had more of a plan, but I have an agenda that doubles as my Bible and I make sure it’s always as up-to-date as it can be to avoid double booking events. Sometimes looking at it gives me a panic attack, especially this last June.
I also try to make sure to write in upcoming grant deadlines a few weeks early to get the ball rolling early. Really, I just end up shoehorning in the time when it’s needed. Most of the time, I’m a little stunned and amazed that it all gets done…
PAQ: What is a current favourite resource or material?
LZV: Writing wise, it’s just me and my computer (with a side order of a mushroom identification book as my main character and her grandmother like to go mushroom hunting), lists of Rush songs (as Bea’s boyfriend is a big Geddy Lee fan) and an old lifeguarding manual (as Bea’s a lifeguard on the shores of Lake Ontario).
But for book making and love lettering, I’ve fallen in love with washi tape from The Paper Place. I also love love love the Nepalese paper they carry there. The colour is so rich and the paper itself is so forgiving – you can sew it, and bind books with it. I love teaching with it, because it’s just so kind to first time paper sewers and bookbinders.
PAQ: Give me 4 great songs to work to!
LZV: I don’t often listen to music with lyrics when I’m in the creation phase of writing, though I started my novel listening to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago album and The Department of Eagles’ In Ear Park album on repeat, so anything from either of those albums immediately get me working again. But for editing, sewing, book making and general crafting, I need music to keep me going.
My non-stop working song right now (that’s perfect for editing/website-updating/kitchen dancing/watering the plants/etc) is Christa Couture’s newest single You Were Here In Michigan. I love that it references the creative process.
Whitehorse’s Emerald Isle is also perfect for working to. And sometimes, when it’s time to really buckle down, I put a ponytail on the top of my head (my “powertail”), put on my running shoes (strange, but it really makes me work faster!) and crank some Bring Da Ruckus by Wu-Tang.
PAQ: What about your work keeps you up at night (for good or ill!)?
LZV: Transitions! In the early days of novel writing, the “who” of my main character Bea kept me up at night, and then questions about her nan, and her boyfriend, Malcolm, but these days it’s transition – how to move Bea from one chapter to the next without losing key bits.
PAQ: How has your aesthetic evolved over the years?
LZV:I feel like you can answer this better than I can – you’ve seen everything from those early angsty hand bound poetry days I photocopied on the photocopier at my Parks and Rec job to now.
THE WRAP UP
Check out Lindsay Zier-Vogel and her Love Lettering Project, you can follow her inspiring projects and events on both sites. She’s out and about in the Toronto area this summer presenting The Love Lettering Project, I highly recommend it as a great city activity. And you might just catch some of her infectious, brilliant enthusiasm!
I haven’t written specifically about the kids or the mothering in a while. We are truckin’ along and I am riding the ever shifting balance of being home with two energetic, gorgeous boys. Gene is now 9-months-old and he is suddenly Captain Velcro, meaning he’s stuck to me like glue every waking moment. He’s utterly content if he’s on me, but the minute I try to leave — and by leave, I mean to go, say, get the mail or make some lunch, something innocent and necessary like that — he’s panicing, weeping, wailing piercingly, heartrendingly. He falls asleep clutching a handful of my breast in case the food source should try and sneak off whilst he’s at rest! He’s realized in earnest that I can disappear and that he doesn’t know when I’ll be back. And this consciousness has led to paranoia on a grand scale! Of course it’s normal and good and I’m so glad to see him evolve, even if sometimes I find myself trying to go pee with an infant stuck to me, which is no easy feat. I surrender a lot these days and just lie on the floor or in bed and let him satellite around me, maybe fold laundry or read but often just be there (at the cost of cleanliness or order in the house, but this too shall pass!) We have lots of giggles and gazing sessions together and he continues to charm me silly.
Then there’s Rudi, now 4 years old. He’s suddenly so grown up! He’s still got his powerful willWill WILL intact but I am finding that the near constant butting of heads that we’ve been playing at for the past few months is easing up. He is more independent than ever, he makes his own toast now and is so proud to “make breakfast!” He is a little more logical, a little more worldly. He can wait when I ask him too, knowing that it won’t be interminable. And we are starting to have little moments of, for lack of a better way to put it, hanging out. As mom and son rather than mom and toddler. I take him out once in a while without Gene because even though I’m with both boys all day, my attention is divided and Gene usually gets more of me. So I jumped at the opportunity to take Rudi to go Love Lettering last week with my friend, the indomitable artist Lindsay Zier-Vogel.
The Love Lettering Project is a community arts project bringing love letters to strangers. Lindsay’s been at it for eight years now and gained all sorts of local and national attention last year. The project grows by leaps and bounds each year and I “love” it (a-ha-ha). This year, she’s setting up at various community events, inviting people to write a love letter to something they love about their city and then leave it anonymously for someone to find — which will surly brighten the days of all involved! Rudi and I went to The Avro in Toronto’s East end for PAL-SAC‘s (Post A Letter Social Activity Club) night hosting The Love Lettering Project. We chatted, he had water in a pint glass, worked diligently on a love letter to The Secret Park (which is near our house, but I can’t say where exactly, what with it being Secret and all) and chatted up the locals. Then we went for burnt-marshmallow ice cream at Ed’s. It was a good night!
I loved being able to chat with Rudi without the divided attention necessary when I’m solo with the two boys. We are so much calmer together when we’re alone together. I think there’s a lesson in there for me somewhere! I’m sure it has a lot to do with my tension level. I am constantly amazed by what mirrors we are as parents. Rudi so often reflects how I am, and he’s got keen senses, because I can’t be faking calm, he’ll still pick up on the turmoil underneath if it’s there. So cheers to one-on-one dates with 4-year-olds, with sons, and cheers to love letters. And to velcro, can’t forget the velcro …