Orlando

I should be getting used to it by now; it seems like there’s at least one mass shooting in the US every month. You just process one and then there’s another. But the shooting on the weekend in Orlando struck closer to home than usual.

My kids are young adults; they go to night clubs all the time. And my daughter is part of the LGBT community. I woke up Sunday morning and realized they’re a potential target for someone’s ignorant, pathetic hate.

She’s got a trip planned to LA next week. I’m scared to have her go. Even though there’s seemingly a lot of people there who are armed to the hilt for ‘protection’, it doesn’t give me comfort.

And honestly, the crazy nonsense I’ve been reading online over the past few days has me worried that there’s no ‘normal’ any more down south. Hell, I’m sticking to stamp collecting forums and I still see more hate, ignorance and paranoid fear than I can stomach.

All of us are just floating through space, you know? Just trying to make sense of this crazy messed up thing called “life.” And when I read some of the reactions to the latest disaster I realize I’m no closer to figuring it out.

I don’t know what’s worse: the sick hatred that’s behind these crimes or the fear and ignorance that fuels the flames. All I know is that the story is getting really old.

I can’t remember a time in my life when we weren’t encouraged to hate another group, be it national, religious, racial or sexual. Can you?

What Are You Up To?


Saturday Farmer’s Market, Estremoz, Portugal

Cindy and I walked down to the Farmer’s Market today. It was fun to see the vendors again and catch up on things. It’s been two years since I baked for the Market but lots of people still want to see our bread there.

There was lots of interest in our trip and what we saw. There was even more interest in what we were doing next. Sadly, I think my response was a poor one.

I have this habit of telling people I need to figure something out, because I can’t be “unemployed” for much longer. But that’s the wrong answer.

  • I’m already talking to several places in town about starting or improving their bread production
  • There are people signed up to The Baker’s Bench who are ready for another baking course
  • I’m running into people on the street who say they enjoy our travel blog and want me to keep writing

So whether I say it or not, I’m already a baker, a teacher and a writer. And I’m doing all those things. I just didn’t get paid today.

It’s too easy to describe ourselves only in terms of what we do for money. That’s a trap. There’s a lot more going on in all of us.

A Tale of Two Bridges

Funky drawbridge, Rotterdam
Funky drawbridge, Rotterdam

During our recent cycling trip through Holland I was repeatedly struck by the beauty of what we would call the ‘infrastructure’ of the place. The street signs, the light posts, but especially the bridges.

In a country with as many canals as roads, you’re going to have a lot of bridges. I was surprised to see that many of them had unique and beautiful designs. They were functional works of art. And many of them had the builder or designer prominently displayed right on the bridge.

I can imagine the effort that went into designing these bridges. The design competition and the decision process to install this bridge here, and this different design three blocks over.  It would’ve added to the cost, but added something remarkable into the landscape.

Nameplate on a drawbridge, on the main road somewhere between Utrecht and Amsterdam

There’s a new footbridge near my home in Saskatchewan too. It connects the high school with a park and, beyond, a small library on the way to the city centre. The old bridge, no more than 60 years old but, alas, made of wood, must have been deemed unsafe in this modern age.

There is no art to my new bridge. It’s exactly the same as the other new footbridges that cross Wascana Creek. It’s made from galvanized steel (same as the recent grey/silver light posts) and pressure treated lumber. It may not be beautiful but it’s likely the cheapest way to cross the creek on foot. There’s no name on the bridge, or any of the other bridges crossing the creek, identifying the designer or the builder.

No doubt the decision to build the bridge in my town was based solely on cost. What design can give me the most bridges for the least money? Can we use existing ‘off the shelf’ components? Which installation crew is the cheapest? Then ask those questions in a blind bidding process and pick the cheapest option.

It won’t create anything lasting, or beautiful. It won’t make my heart sing every time I walk to the library. The galvanized steel handrail won’t feel good when I hold it. But hey, at least the builder was chosen through an objective and fair process. And Our Tax Dollars were used ‘responsibly.’

I find that sad.  And a missed opportunity.

There are a hundred opportunities every year to add art and beauty and good design to the world we live in. To choose the beautiful and interesting as well as the functional. To move people with our public spaces.

It’s time to add beauty to the conversation.

And We’re Back!

FTP Screen
I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at this FTP screen lately.

It’s been a fun three days.  I decided to make some changes to my hosting setup, which changed the location of this blog among other things.

After several emails to my hosting support, including one step that only they could perform, I have my hosting configured properly.  My bakery website is not completely moved to a new hosted wordpress environment and this host is configured for this blog and a some other blogging ideas I have.  (The skeleton of my next project is underway.)

The biggest unforseen hiccup was that I was without email for two days.  One day for the hosting folks to make their change and one to adjust all my MX records properly.  But even that’s all working now.

Onwards and upwards!

My Three Words for 2016

I’ve been listening to what Chris Brogan has to say for at least 8 years now.  One thing Chris does consistently is to pick three words to guide his work and life for the coming year.

Three words.  Way simpler than a vision statement or grand manifesto.  Or is it?

I mean, if you’re going to dedicate the entire year to focusing on only three words, they better be pretty good ones.  Broad.  Vibrant. Important.  Talk about pressure!

I’ve never done this before, but I have been struggling with focus lately (some may say for a long time) so I decided to do the three words exercise this year. I need some direction and it’s gotta come from inside me.  So here goes.  My three words:

Present.   Open.  Carnal.

Oooh, deep!   Let’s break this down.

Present

I have a really hard time living in the here and now.  I’m either full of regret about the past or worried about the future.  It’s no fun, believe me.

When I’m working, walking or talking with friends,  I will focus on the present. What I’m doing, seeing, hearing right now.

Where I am is much, much better than where I was or where I think I’ll end up.  So let’s love what’s happening around me now.

Open

When I’m caught up inside my head, everyone suffers.  I’m going to open up a lot this year.

I’ll open myself up to truly listen to people.  Their dreams, desires, problems and joys.  I can better help people if I’m truly listening.

I’ll share my hopes, dreams and challenges too and ask for help.  There’s no point putting on a strong face if I’m struggling with something.  And there’s no sense being afraid to say what I want to accomplish either.

I’ll take a page from Austin Kleon and show my work.  If I keep things bottled up till it’s perfect I’ll never ship anything.

Carnal

Here’s a word I picked up from Mary Karr.  It’s powerful.  Possibly controversial. It’s also perfect, so I’m using it.

The way she uses “carnal” it isn’t referring to sex specifically.  It’s referring to experiencing the world and talking about it, using all one’s senses.

That’s what I’m going to do.  When I write, I’m going to capture everything: the feel, smell, taste and sound of thing I’m describing

I’m going to capture the light and colour of the world around me when I paint

And when I travel, around town or around the world, I’m going to capture everything I experience as vividly as I possibly can.

Carnal is also a reminder to write the truth of what I see and experience.  I often sand off the rough edges of whatever I’m describing so as to not offend anyone.  I’m likely going to turn some people off with my writing this year.  That’s OK.  I’m going to turn others on even more this way, I know it.


 

So there you have it.  Three words that will get me out of my head and seeing things in bold, loud, smelly colour.  I’m very excited about the year ahead.