Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yellowknife Cultural Crossroads

There is this amazing painting and set of sculptures that decorate a stone hill along the roadway leading to Old Town and Latham Island in Yellowknife. If you know the 'knife, it's just before Johnson's Building Supplies; if you don't - you can't miss it. It's fabulous.

From a plaque on the site: "This site is a testament to the close collaboration among Metis, Dene, Inuvialuit, English Canadian, French Canadian and Quebec cultures and is dedicated to all peoples of the north. Work on this project began in the summer of 1999, when artists Sonny MacDonald, a Metis from Fort Smith, John Sabourin, a Dene from Fort Simpson, and Eli Nasogaluak, an Inuvialuit from Tuktoyaktuk fashioned this sculpture from a block of marble formed on the shore of Great Slave Lake 2.5 - 4 billion years ago."

"The rock face was carved by Armand Vaillancourt of Montreal, assisted by Chris Ishoj of Mansonville, Quebec, and the symbols were painted by John Sabourin. "
It's a great combination of carving, statues and paintings. And the colours used stand right out against the grey of the rock. In addition to the bison pictured above, I also saw a mouse, turtle, frog, cat, lizard and many other creatures, surrounded by hands, heands and more hands.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The View from Up Here (Yellowknife, NWT)

Mike and I climbed up to Pilot's Monument to get a view of the city from a great vantage point. The picture right gives you a view of downtown YK from "old town". From this point, you also get a great view of YK Bay (Great Slave Lake) and the Back Bay. Float planes, boats, barges and houseboats are sprinkled all over the bays; some anchored, some moving. You can see how difficult it is to build here... it's all rock underneath. Canadian shield. Solid. Difficult to penetrate for those who want their houses to stay put.

And yet there is new development, perched on an incline looking over Back Bay there is a new row of housing going up. I don't see any housing coming down, so I conclude that YK is growing. Nice, though, that it's still the kind of place you can move around in without a car. You can drive, take the transit system (all of maybe three buses?), ride a bike (snowmobile in the winter) and of course, you can walk. Really. It's a good hike from one end of town to the other, but certainly do-able.

If you live in a houseboat, you have to canoe to shore first. And you need to acquire your own source of potable water and deal with any sewage waste on your own. Oh yeah, and provide your own heat and electricity. That's the trade-off for not having to pay property taxes... you need to supply all your own utilities.

But doesn't it look like a serene way to live? No neighbours right beside you, no late night noises from firetrucks, ambulance or the kids down the street having a backyard party. Nice. Just the lapping waves and the odd motorboat. And floatplanes using the bay for take off and landing. Watch out!

That's what the beacon on top of Pilot's Monument is for. It's there to warn boaters in a visible (flashing) kind of way that a float plane is coming in. Keep an eye on the sky... especially if you're in a canoe or kayak.
No sunrise or sunset pictures this trip. According to time and date dot com, the sun rose at 4:37 AM this morning and will set at 10:50 PM tonight. I may be up to see the sun go down but I'm certainly not up early enough to catch it coming over the eastern horizon!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Folk on the Rocks, Yellowknife, NWT

I've come back to Yellowknife after having been away for twelve years. I did come back and visit briefly about ten years ago, but it's been a long time. Things really haven't changed a lot here. I don't remember where everything is, but it's coming back fast.

The first day here, Mike and I went to Yellowknife's folk music festival: Folk on the Rocks. It was a beautiful, clear and hot, sunny day. The festival takes place on the shore of Long Lake and there is a very sandy incline down to the lake that participants can sit on to see the show. The crowd is small and made up of mostly locals. You can tell because many of them are "catching up" right in the middle of the concert while kids play, dance and run around (supervised by all).

Along the edges, they stand in small knots and chat even though the people behind them (like me) are trying to watch the show. So, it's great because it's not crowded and it helps that the speakers are loud (I could always hear even if I couldn't always see!)

One of the best acts that we saw on Saturday was Jill Barber. She has the nicest voice! You can hear her music courtesy of CBC Radio 3. There were other great acts, but I thought she was the best.
We had a great adventure getting to the festival via Yellowknife's transit system, but that's a story for another day. Today, the weather is fine and I'm heading off for lunch. More tales and pics later!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mittens for Sarah

I'm almost finished the Selbuvotter mittens for Sarah. See? I'm working on the second thumb. I hope to finish it, and weave in the ends today. Then I will celebrate. These mittens were really nice to knit. The chart is clear and mittens don't take nearly so long as socks!

The mittens were supposed to be done for Sarah's birthday. I had one done, the left hand, which I gave to her on the big day. Being a southpaw, I thought she'd appreciate that I worked on the left hand first. I promised the right hand would soon follow. But then I went to Olds for Fibre Week and was busy being a merchant and a student and didn't get much time for being a knitter. Now I'm making up for lost time. The second mitten knits up much faster than the first.

I do love these mittens...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

06 July 2008: Escape to the Countryside!

I spent the last week in Olds, Alberta, taking part in Olds Fibre Week 2008. I was a part-time vendor at the "merchant mall" bringing in all sorts of yummy fibre and fibre-related goodies from River City Yarns to the fibre-fanatics who were attending this event. I was also a student... taking the Level 3 course for the Master Spinner Certificate program run through Olds Community College. And best of all, I was able to visit with my buddy Lisa, who has moved out to the country with her husband and her kids.

Olds is a small community about 2 hours south of Edmonton and you can see the Rocky Mountains bordering the western horizon. It's a quiet, dusty place that's "quaint" in all the senses of the word. Lisa lives outside of Olds, on a little acreage bordered with trees on the east side. It's a beautiful spot surrounded by fields and up on a little hill from which you can see everything. It's well worth the drive just to get away from the highway, from the town, from everything except the hot sun, the fresh air and the sounds of birds and bugs. Lisa and her family were kind enough to share their home with me when I couldn't find accomodation in Olds for Fibre Week. It was a great visit and it made me realize how homesick I am for life in the country. No neighbours! What a treat.

This year, in my course, we worked on spinning bast fibres. I like to call them "veggies" (as opposed to protein fibre). We also worked with silk, which is a filament fibre. We spun cotton directly from the boll, from roving and blended with other fibres. We also spun coloured cotton (called Fox Fibre after the woman who brought coloured cotton back into existence). We used our spinning wheels but also worked the cotton with supported spindles and charkas. I spent four full days spinning and one day in the dye room. I learned a lot and now that I'm back home in the city, I have to figure out a way to keep the spinning momentum going. It's tough... other "life responsibilities" tend to get in the way of work and I realize that one of the benefits of taking the class is belonging to community of spinners. That's really important in building skills and just keeping up with practice. I'm going to have to find and join a community here or get one going. Lots to do...