beauty bush

We often go for a stroll after dinner if there’s time. We almost always go the same way and it’s just matter of how far we go before we turn around. But tonight my oldest asked, “Where should we go tonight, Mom?” And it suddenly struck me that we could go see Harris and Eva’s beauty bush. There are other beauty bushes in the neighbourhood, but Harris and Eva’s is spectacular. Indeed, when he saw it even my curmudgeonly husband (curmudgeonly as far as plants go that is) was kind of blown away. It’s as big as a tree and pretty much dwarfs the house.

I actually took this photo two years ago. When I checked the date stamp just now I realized it was exactly two years ago to the day.

Bill Hunt

For the last couple of years I’ve been entering competitions and juried exhibitions madly. But this year I’ve kind of stopped. It gets expensive fast, and I’m trying to live economically (yes, Canada has paid maternity leave but the legal amount is only 55 percent of your income to a maximum of about $400 a week). Not only the entry fees but the printing and framing and shipping. And of course, my time is short these days. Anyways… the other day I discovered one that I’m seriously considering. The juror is a renowned curator/collector/author but more than that he clearly took a lot of time to write about what he’s looking for. It makes him seem so human and approachable and passionate that I really want to try and please him. I want to see if it might be my work that “rings his chimes.” (Yep, I’m nothing if not ambitious… perhaps dreamer is a better word.)

And then today I saw this video

and this one

I love his advice for collectors. It seems to me that it’s good advice for photographers:

“When you look at the photograph you want it to push back at you.”

“The best part of the education is not only looking… but reacting and having a sense of how stuff plays on you.” “The best thing you can do is make yourself available to the experience. Do you like it? Listen to it. What are you responding to? It doesn’t have to make any rational sense but what’s doing it for you? … You can get a sense of what your taste is. … When you have an eye you walk into a situation and you go, ‘that one.’ … “It’s experience and instinct and the ability to hear yourself.”

sad and angry

Back in 2008, when I still volunteered at the Drop-In Centre, a young woman was found naked and dead in a local park. I had never met her but people I served at the drop-in knew her and grieved. It took the police more than a year to decide it was homicide. I guess because it’s common for mentally-ill, crack-addicted, part-time sex workers to end up naked and dead in a park from natural causes. I haven’t followed the details of the case closely, but they did finally arrest a man in 2010 and now his case is being tried. I have read precisely two articles in my local paper about the trial, and I am disgusted. I don’t know whether to be disgusted with the lawyers and legal system about the way the questioning is going, or whether it’s simply a matter of misogynist reporters and editors. But from the articles I can’t figure out who’s on trial: if it’s the accused, there hasn’t be a whole lot of coverage on him. It seems like it’s the victim who’s on trial, judging by the articles.

The first one is all about how mentally ill she was and how much crack she smoked and how much prostitution she did. The only mentions of the accused are how he sits quietly in the court and [politely] rises when the jury enters and exits, and how when the victim was killed, he was homeless… “on the street; he was distraught.”

The second article continues in the same vein. There is some small mention of how the accused was caught in the act of beating and sexually assaulting a prostitute in Barrie before being arrested in this case, but the bulk of the article is about the victim. How she didn’t pay the full amount for her last hit because she often waited until she got paid for sex. Whether all the sex she and a former boyfriend had was always alone and how his answer was that they never had a threesome. I’m sure that’s relevant to the case, somehow, but the way it’s being reported it’s all out of context and just ends up feeling horrible. Would they report it this way if she were still alive after the sexual assault? I thought we had laws about the relevance of a victim’s sexual history in sexual assault cases, but perhaps it goes out the window when the victim is dead. Or when she’s a crack-addicted sex worker…

It’s so discouraging to see how backwards we still are in so many ways. It’s disgusting that a human life is so disregarded. She was a person, like all of us, with flaws and grace and love. She sold roses to amorous couples. People loved her, people who have to read this trashy, disrespectful coverage. People who have to watch the system dehumanize and devalue her life over and over again. It’s sickening.