Friday, April 6, 2007


JUNQUE—Creating a So-called Life

Good Friday, and I'm going to a friend's for supper. Yesterday was cheque day, so I permitted myself to cruise the secondhand stores again. This is a bit of discipline for me; I have no money, but years of habit mean I still crave “retail therapy” for fun and profit. So I limit my cravings to the secondhand (junque, thrift) stores and garage sales. It is a throwback to “hunting and gathering”, I am sure. If I had more productive hobbies, it would be something like gardening—growing flowers, producing vegetables. The lack of topsoil and the rocky creek bed that is my lot is my excuse. The last time I visited Winnipeg, my best friend Karen and I hit every junque store in the city. It was a great day. Even though we live 3000 kilometres apart, we still stay connected. The time she visited me here, last spring break, was one of the highlights of my life.

Junquing (as is antiquing) is also a form of treasure hunting, and today was a good day. At New2You I found a paperback book that is the script for FARGO, one of my favourite movies, because of the humour and the characters and the twisted plot and, to be truthful, the incredibly beautiful snow and blizzard scenes. Minnesota and North Dakota are just American versions of southern Manitoba; even the accents are similar. I feel so at home in Fargo (the movie). It has a great introduction about story-telling by Ethan, one of the Coen brothers. It is not easy to find scripts. The only other one I have is PULP FICTION, another of my favourite movies, which has absolutely nothing to do with Manitoba. Anyway, I bought the script and an elegant looking mug in my new great-room colours, for a quarter.

Then I went to the art gallery to check out the collages again. I spoke to the artist-on-duty, a wonderful painter from Agassiz, who said that she often works on ideas in her head for three to ten years before the actual painting on canvas emerges. This was reassuring, as I have only 22 days left before the collage workshop. These are the ideas I am mulling so far: a personalized version of the Breakthrough engraving; something about the 200th anniversary of Simon Fraser’s shooting the river; and maybe an introvert/extrovert triptych. If I do some prep, maybe I can make more than one at the workshop. New Idea: maybe I could work my two article themes into a collage—Lions in Vancouver, Who Shot Rambo? I’d really need a colour printer to do that effectively. I have already gathered my gold flakes, old collages (placemats/book covers, canisters), illustrated poems--Bridal Falls, stickers. The Breakthrough engraving would make a good pattern. I've found a Gary Snyder quote that fits it. “I go to meet that blundering, clumsy, beautiful, shy world of poetic, archetypal, wild intuition that’s not going to come out into the broad daylight of the rational mind but wants to peek in.” (from a poetry calendar my friend Carol gave me). I must remember my visuals files and other stickers.

After the art gallery, I walked to the community services thrift store. The volunteer clerk was the woman who had the first garage sale of the season (where I grabbed her coffee cup and spilled coffee all over the table). Neither of us mentioned this detail, but I did ask her whether the square plates had sold. She said there were still some there; pause; so I asked “And are you having another garage sale?” to which she said, “Yes, in May” so I said “I’ll watch for the announcement.” I need to see them in good light and to pick ones that will look good on top of my Solitude pattern (Mikasa) dishes—white with a black and platinum ring. I love dishes even though I rarely entertain any more. It has to do with being a Hestia woman. ( see Jean Bolen, Goddesses in Every Woman).

Tenth anniversary of the Art Gallery; so crowded I had to leave. But not before I had checked out the Backroom, the Collage Display. I remember On Grandma’s Back Step with kids, house wall, and birch logs woodpile. A globe with I Am A Rock, No Man Is an Island, & Marshall McLuhan quotes. Mount Hope computer enhanced series with close-ups and day/night views. A Tower. Boxes. A corrugated cardboard exercise painted silver and a brown one “free to a good home”, both very pleasing. A “garden” of giant abstract flowers (made of round shrimp trays, I hear). A clothesline collage. Some photos re-done in paper—waves and beaches. And a yellowed collage newsprint behind a red filter. And a collage definition of Collage which I wish I had copied down. Now I’m totally confused. Too many choices. I won’t know what to choose to do, at the gallery’s collage workshop which I registered for for April 28.

This morning I braved the horrendous traffic (two highways closed; spring break weekend) to go to the FIRST garage sale (GS) of the season, on Skylark. I had to look up where the street was (but that’s partly why I love garage saleing, learning the streets, and inexpensive entertainment). I have a $2 limit, unless some special circumstances make an object irresistible for me. I never go for the start time (too crowded, too much rushing of tables and fighting for bargains). It was a good one (GS), with a lot of variety and even some new stuff. I bought a new sheet that hadn’t been unfolded for $1.50; black and white looking gray with red surprises, which I will use for re-decorating. I’ve been trying to switch the great-room colours from forest green to blacks, grays, and taupes, with scarlet surprises. I also bought a small black ceramic vase, for the colour, and as part of my vase collection which is still mostly in boxes. The embarrassing part was when I grabbed this large pottery coffee mug (on my list, grande size) and spilled hot coffee all over the table display, because it was the owner’s morning coffee, and not for sale. The second embarrassment was when I was leaving there was this horrible smell and steam wafting off my car hood so I popped it and looked but could see nothing out of the ordinary. (What did I expect to see I’m not sure? But there were no flames, or bubbling oil puddles, etc.) A guy was walking to his car and I saw him twitch his nose so I asked him: Can you smell that? Is it my car? He was polite and helpful and said, I can smell it and it’s not your car, as it was here before you got here; I can’t figure out where it’s coming from. But that was all the info I needed. As long as I’m not going to explode, or burst into flames. . . I waved and smiled as I made a Uie and headed back to the crowded highway and Exit 170.

It’s a good day on television too, as March 17 seems to be more and more an Irish, American, and Canadian celebration day. Bravo Channel 43 has an all-Ireland film day. Early in the morning it was something called The Last September? about the Black & Tans and British occupying army around WWI. Then Dancing at Lughnasa with Meryl Streep; I’ve seen it before and some famous writer wrote it, but I’m still not clear about the story. Women’s tough lives in papist-1937 Ireland, pagan rites, madness, irresponsible men. Then it was Far and Away with Tom and Nicole; I didn’t realize it was so much set in Ireland, in the 1890s, and their running away to Boston where patterns repeat themselves. Way too much boxing and wrestling for my taste. I only remember seeing the land rush scene before, so I guess that’s why I didn’t think it was set elsewhere. Lots of famous faces (Clint, Colm) but characters seem a bit cartoonish. I guess that is true to the American stereotype-Irish. The ones (Irish movies) I would like to see again are Ryan’s Daughter (Robert Mitchum, Julie Christie), The Commitments, and Darby O’Gill and the Little People, because I can’t remember the story (but still love Sean Connery). I’d like to see for the first time the Liam Neilson political bio, was it called Michael Collins? And I loved the one In the Name of the Father, with Daniel Day Lewis, about the wrongly convicted / falsely imprisoned, but there wasn’t a lot set outside England. The prison scene of the fire memorial is fantastic.

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