There & Back Again

Mum and I just came home from our second annual interior camping trip to Charleston Lake Provincial Park. It was a birthday present from my friend Nicole which proved to be most memorable.

On our way up to Charleston Lake we stopped in a B&B in Brighton. On our way home to St. Catharines, we made stops in Cobourg for dinner and in Vineland for farm fresh produce (in addition to Kingston, Gananoque, and Port Hope). Here are some pictures from the moments bordering the end destinations:

Reflection of the moon on the water at night. A sign by wooden steps leading down to the water reads "Use at your own risk"
Brighton, ON.
Red and yellow tug boat in a marina. Blue sky and blue water bordered by white iron fencing.
Cobourg, ON.
Pile of brown farmers baskets in the grass at the end of a row of peach trees.
Vineland, ON.

Photos from Charleston Lake to follow.

View last year’s blog posts on our stop in Kingston on our way to Charleston Lake here. Last year’s posts on Charleston Lake can also be found here and here.

DEEP 2013 @ OCAD U

Today was the last day of the Designing Enabling Economies and Policies conference held at OCAD University. It was a wonderful three days of discussion on inclusion and an opportunity for my graduating class to showcase our work. As my friend Spirit was doing a dance performance at the event that morning, I decided to bring my camera where I took these pictures on the 5th floor on my way to Inclusive Communities breakout discussion, and it the auditorium at 100 McCaul Street.

IMG_0452White room with coloured square windows, two plastic chairs and wood tables stacked upon one anotherFrom left to right: a chair with a sign reading 'visible' on it, 3 TV's stackon one another, and Spirit Synott in a wheelchair with a sign reading 'valid' on the backMicrophone and podium with a backdrop of text projected on a white wall.Blog post on Spirit’s performance to follow! (Design and Desire)

Birds, Beets, & Berries

Old fashioned milk containers painted white, linked together with chain around a curved driveway under trees.

While in thesis writing mode, my mum coaxed me out of Toronto with the promise of steak from Lake Land Meats for dinner. She surprised me at the St. Catharines bus station with a picnic basket in tow and drove to Charles Daley Park. I have many memories of there from when I a child, eating watermelon, building sand castles for my trolls, and going on adventures through the tall grasses and trees bordering the water. Settling ourselves under a tree, we watched swimmers run into the waves of Lake Ontario and couples walk their dogs along the beach. We stayed in the shade however, munching on cold chicken, beets, radishes, and shared a delicious herb croissant.

Close-up of a woman's hands on her knees as she lays on the ground next to a sun hat and picnic basket.

After lunch, we drove to Dillon’s Distillers to check out the small batch distillery, which uses locally sourced ingredients from the region. We had a tasting of their spirits and could fully appreciate their unique floral aroma. We then finished our visit with a rhubarb cocktail outside in the sun where Mum read a magazine as I documented Dillon’s pacakging design on Instagram. Dillon’s Distillers is indeed a new stop along the Niagara Wine Route that I encourage friends to make. Not only did I love their products, but I was also head-over-heels with their branding! It was current, unified, and beautifully orchestrated across each product, the store interior, shopping bags, and website. I was impressed.

Beets in red water

On our way back into town, we stopped in Whispering Pines which has become my favourite Niagara fruit stand (if you can call it that) as it always has visual delights to photograph. There were baby ducklings, beets, and berries to amuse myself with as my mother picked out her vegetables. Unfortunately, the baby ducks playing in a puddle made by a tractor wheel didn’t stay as still as fresh beets in a basin of water to have their picture taken.

After doing some shopping for our upcoming backcountry camping trip in Charleston Lake, we returned home for dinner. Mum made steak on the BBQ with strawberry ice cream and local rhubarb for dessert. We then watched an episode of Inspector Lewis on the television to end a lovely day together.

It was well worth the trek to Niagara!

The Cluckless Chicken

I recently joined Toastmasters to improve my public speaking skills. The ‘icebreaker’ as they call it, needs to tell the audience a bit about you, where you’re from, and where you’re going. So, I decided to share with the club my memories of public performance from a young child to an adult. And now, I am sharing it with you.

Young girl dressed up in a chicken costume with her nose painted yello
The author dressed up as a chicken at age 9.

I come from a family of performers. My mother is an interdisciplinary artist, my father a theatre director, my grandmother a singer and voice coach. But me, I have never been one for the stage.

Like many children, my first memory of being on stage was acting in the school play.

In our school’s production of Charlotte’s Web, I was cast as a chicken, but I was more of a prop than a part of the performance. During intermission my dad drew me aside and coached me on the gestures of a chicken.

“Bob your head,  flap your arms, and cluck like a chicken!”, he advised.

So when I returned to the black platform we had set up in the classroom that served as an auditorium in our 6 room country schoolhouse, I did just that. I mimicked a chicken- and possibly stole the show in my parent’s eyes.

My school didn’t have a music program and my family couldn’t send me to music lessons (although I had a childhood dream of becoming a drummer in a rock-and-roll band). So, for three summers in a row my grandmother sent me to music camp to learn classical instruments in hopes I would suddenly become the musical prodigy we were lacking in our family.

However, it didn’t pan out that way.

Every year, come the end of camp concert, I would sit in the back and mimicked the gestures my peers made on their instruments, but without making a sound.

I carried this tactic forth into the school choir. For those students not cast in the annual school play, we were forced onto the bleachers and told to sing. But I refused to sing- I just mouthed the words to the songs. Even though I knew all the words, I never uttered a sound.

My first job when I moved to Montreal after getting my B.Des in fashion was working  in telemarketing. There, I had a script I couldn’t deviate from in-front of me at all times. When I finally got paid work in my field of study as a sales rep for an Italian textile mill, I found that sales without a script could be terrifying. I didn’t have an answer to every question or rebuttal a click away like I did in telemarketing. Even though I knew the answer to questions, answering without something concrete in front of me made me constantly question and have doubt in my own judgement. I found that in the real world, there was no solace in miming.

I left the fashion industry and returned to university to do a Masters of Design. I was encouraged to take part in conferences and give presentations outside of class, which I have been doing. However, a real wake up call for me was presenting the draft of my major research project to my colleagues in class. I was positive and confident right up to the point that it was time for me to present on my area of specialization… I then proceeded to give my presentation to my desk instead of to the friends around me.

I need to stop hiding. I want to say things aloud. I want to stand out from the crowd, and not blend into it.

I want to stop asking “Am I acting like a good enough chicken?” and instead know that I am the best chicken that I can be.

Young children dressed as spiders, chicks, and a hen in front of a giant spider's web.
Maple Grove Public School’s 1996 production of Charlotte’s Web.