Friday, July 31, 2009


Today Margaret's cousin Carl Bessai and his family arrived to stay with us for the weekend. Lots of great conversations about filmmaking and family.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


My sister and niece came to town yesterday and this afternoon my niece, William, Margaret and I went to Buffalo Days (the exhibition). William is now getting too old be be interested in the kids rides and we went on some of the big rides, the bumper cars, the Ferris wheel, and so on.He loved the Spaceship 4000, which is a variation of the old spinning chamber where you are against the wall and held there by centrifugal force. Of course we went to the butterfly house where there were 3000 butterflies that would land on you. My mom helped organize it as part of her horticulture society. We also each painted a plaster buffalo to be part of a Saskatchewan Arts Board project.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

new stuff that I didn't do

Yesterday Trevor came by and installed our new front door light plus (and this is the big thing) an outlet to plug our Christmas lights into. For almost 13 years we've been running our outdoor lights off of a plug thing screwed into our socket as there are no outdoor outlets for our house. I'd like him to do one for the back as well, but we don't have it planned yet.
Today we picked 5 gallons of Saskatoon berries and 2/4 gallon of perfectly ripe raspberries. Margaret made pies.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Last night I fell asleep early, around eleven, but William was still away and Margaret let him snuggle in with me. He relentlessly started climbing on me and I had a dream that I was made of Lego and he was taking parts off me. I kept asking if he was going to put the parts back but he indicated that I didn't need all those extra parts.
This morning I met with the head of computer science this morning and we established a plan for the media lab that we share. It took some back and forth emailing all afternoon to secure the money but it all ended up working out. Nice when that happens.
We went to Night at the Museum 2. It was okay, kept me entertained as long as I stayed in the moment.

Monday, July 27, 2009


(Image: William and cousin's on Tom Sukanen's ship)

I am starting to get back on track with my projects. I think it takes the completion of some important tasks for me to start feeling positive about what I'm doing. For example, today I had the music from yesterday under my belt and was able to start laying it out with the picture and suddenly I'm able to imagine finishing the project (Modern) rather than it being another albatross around my neck. As well, I think the long End of Life documentary is a step closer; I reviewed a work in progress today and it is able to go to it's next step (audio correction and sweetening). Next Tuesday we record again and I should also be able to get some incidental music for "Grain" recorded and be able to complete that film. On top of all that, I went out and had a wonderful time with William this evening, walking as he rode his bike. We dropped off William's old Dash (from the Incredibles) jacket for Gavin's son Jack. Jack burst into tears when confronted by me and his dad trying to put a jacket on him; completely inconsolable. I figure Jack must have thought the jacket was to correspond to leaving and that he didn't want to leave, especially with a stranger. Or perhaps he's just not as into the Incredibles as we'd be led to believe.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Modern recording

This afternoon I recorded three tracks of music for my Modern film project. I've deviated from the initial plan of always working with an audience; it has become imperative that I get this done and I DO have access to a great recording studio so why not use it? My first was with visiting audio artist Freida Abtan. We got behind schedule due to our crazed search for the right connectors to get the signals from her computer into my recorder, but once done it was dream. The second was a collaboration between Erin Gee and Freida Abtan with Erin doing physical sounds (voice, bells, xylophone, etc) and Freida sampling from those sounds and live mixing it with her own recordings. The third was with Patrick Johnson; he did vocalizations and "breathing" with a harmonium (looks like an acordian). He was being very Tom Waites or Captain Beefheart like. Great day but very tiring.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

more fish death

The two new goldfish, Silvy and Racer, were dead in the tank this morning. William was more upset this time, probably because he saw them and was there when we fished them out. We spent over an hour emptying the tank, cleaning everything, boiling the gravel, and reassembling the whole station. The catfish is still fine although he was pretty freaked out by his container during all this. Margaret went to the pet store and was told that these small goldfish are prone to sudden death and that there was likely nothing much wrong with our tank. Anyway, they do say we should let the tank settle for ten days before we put new goldfish in.Margaret's brother and his daughters headed back to Toronto this afternoon. It finally turned hot today, 31 degrees, so we played with the hose all evening then went inside and watch "Ernest Goes to Africa". My nephew Chris loved Ernest movies when he was 7 or 8. William howled during many scenes too.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

eaves troughs

Especially since they are almost unnoticeable, I need to announce the installation of our new eaves troughs. They are in a slightly different brown than the original ones but chosen very carefully so they match the old faded brown existing fascia. They called last night to tell me they had an opening this morning. I accepted then got everything ready for them last night, moving the enclosure on the deck and so on. They were done by 2pm. Now the trough above the deck, which was screwed onto a rotting board, is hung by hangers that are connected directly to the joists and they have a rubber seal so they won't rot the wood underneath anymore. There are covers as well so we never have to clean them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

new members of the household

Today my dad (William's grandpa) took him out for some new fish. To dad's surprise, he got off very cheaply as William really wanted some new small fish. The store carefully fished out the two he wanted with the cost of the pair coming to $1.7 including tax. We took the fish (in their bag) for a walk and some ice cream and then home to join Kidder the catfish in the aquarium.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Big Gil

We all went to Moose Jaw this afternoon and to the Sukanen Village. The kids had a good time running around seeing stuff and bonding. When we got home, Big Gil, William's goldfish who had seemed to be recovering with the new medicine over the past few days, was in trouble. He'd been swimming around a lot but he'd not been eating and he was obviously a bit weak. He had been swimming through the plant a lot, it was basically a spider plant, and sometimes he'd almost get stuck due to his lack of energy in his swimming. Well today when we arrived he appeared to be caught by the intake on the water filter. Perhaps it was only for that moment or perhaps it was longer. When we moved it and he was free, he swam a bit but started spending more time on the bottom. A few hours later I came to see him and he was mostly on his back, breathing only sporadically. I sat and watched him die over the next ten minutes.

Monday, July 20, 2009


(photo: first coat on "cottage" ceiling a few days ago)
My Amazon order arrived today including the dvd of the new Terry Pratchett adaptation, "The Colour of Magic". I also got a couple of Mike Hoolboom books, a few Girl Genius books, "The Sharpest Point"about experimental animation, and the Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide for William. Sometimes I get carried away on Amazon. William went to the farm and played with his cousins all afternoon. I had a Filmpool meeting. The fish is still alive and is swimming around almost as if he was healthy except he's not eating and he's got terrible dark blotches all over him.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Harry Potter

We drove out to Lumsden today to see one last secret garden, a rather amazing hill top place with a great pool and huge deck. I'd love to vacation there for a week. William wiggled his tooth the whole way there and it came out finally. Afterwords we drove in to see the new Harry Potter movie. It wasn't until after it was over that we discovered that William's cousins hadn't seen any of the other films, even though the older one had read six of the books. I liked it. It was a bit scary in parts but the really dark stuff from the book has been removed. I coffeed with Kevin for a while this evening and when I got back I discovered that William's tooth had gone missing. I'd placed it on the table on a folded piece of paper two hours before but it was gone. Margaret wrote a letter to the tooth fairy explaining the situation. I found the tooth on the floor. I guess everyone is a bit frazzled after this weekend.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

quick notes on very busy day

Secret garden tour continued today. We went. A good performance by a Winnipeg group took place in Jacqui Shumiatcher's yard. Margaret's brother and his daughters arrived today for a week. I bought new medicine for William's goldfish as I now think it has fin rot. If it survives three days we should start seeing results.

Friday, July 17, 2009

end of week

After a week of working on the "cottage", I have the ceiling painted with two coats, leaving it a light, dusty blue. William enjoyed his "choose your own musical adventure" camp through the University's "Space Camp" program and we had to race back to town for his 1:45 recital today (it was 15 minutes long and featured songs alternating between his violin group and a different cello group). He was behind another kid and I didn't get good video of him, but here he is after the recital (see video below). Now I've got to shop for a violin. It was my dad's birthday today. We went to my sister's for supper.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I painted the ceiling of the "cottage" today. I ran out of the tan mis-tint half way through so had to switch to my abundant blue. I thought it was going to be a darker blue-green but instead it was a light blue so I think Ill put a second coat on the ceiling. My purpose for painting first was so that the dust will be held for when we work on the windows. However, the ceiling will not end up being altered as much so it will be worthwhile to put that second coat on.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wolfe at the door

The last Rex Stout "Nero Wolfe" book in our collection arrived yesterday. I've now acquired 50 or so of these books for Margaret; it's taken me about three years. This last one, "Triple Jeopardy", has been out of print for a while. The only one I didn't get her was "Corsage", which as a novella that appears to have had only short numbered print runs. The cheapest copy I found on line was $200 and it was apparently adapted into one of his later novels. A few years ago I nearly completed my friend Joanne's Nero Wolfe collection when she gave me a list of 17 she was missing and I found 15 of them. I then lost the list and so no longer know which two she was missing. The tv show they made from these books was fantastic and we were very sad when it was discontinued. It starred Timothy Hutton and Maury Chaykin and the rest of the cast was an ensemble with the same actors playing different roles each week. This way, you could not guess who was the criminal based upon the actor; one week someone might be the killer, the next s/he might be the victim or the witness. Really well acted and designed. It's available on dvd, the library has both seasons although at least on of the season one discs was scratched. When you read the books after seeing a few episodes of the show, you can really hear their voices as you read. These are the only mystery novels I've ever read, having read my first ones about two years ago when I was travelling to Victoria and ran out of other reading materials.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I spent the day cleaning the "cottage" in preparation of painting it. My last hour was spent scraping dirt and old grain out of the grooves in the floorboards. All the day I fretted about the fish and how to break it to William. I ate lots of chocolate and listened to the B-52s with the cd player powered by my solar collector battery. This kept up my spirits. Luckily William had a really good time with his music camp and is excited to return. We broke the news to him after supper, he's always in better control of his emotions after he's eaten. He took it fairly well but was sad and wrote a card to his friend "T" who is the owner of the fish. I watched a few episodes of "Get Smart" with him after supper as well. I bought season 1 last week and he really loves it.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Yesterday I was really tired and sore from the heavy Saturday painting so I ended up sleeping in. I finished painting yellow second coat and some touch ups but didn't start on any tope. Took William swimming for a while then collapsed in bed early. Woke up at five to discover that his friend's fish had died. This is a new thing for me as a dad, dealing with dead pets. I though that this fish was the one that had recovered and it was William's fish that is more in danger. It gives me a sinking feeling. William has an all day camp today that he's already on the verge of rebelling against, even though it was his idea. This could be a very bad morning.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

feeling yellow

I spent much of the day painting. The weather was cool, under 20 I think, but good for working outside. I'm finished the yellow but for a second coat on part of the back porch. Windows start tomorrow.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Crystal Reaper

I was invited to contribute to an on line zine premiering next month. I had an idea about Lego that I wanted to write about so I did that today. I also needed to restore the Lego Mars Mission MT-61 Crystal Reaper to photograph it for support of the essay (just 700 words). Although the Reaper was mostly together, it still took my two hours to find the missing pieces (many key pieces had been built into other stuff). More info on this zine when it is published.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Reading or Movies?

This morning William finished the 635 page "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire". He started it 24 days ago. This afternoon he watched the fifth movie in preparation for reading the book. He told us this evening that he prefers to read books than watching movies, although he hummed the "Get Smart" theme for about an hour (we watched the first two episodes this evening after supper - it's a rainy day). Paul, Margaret and I watched the first half of "The Spirit" but have left it for tomorrow. It's not as good as the Will Eisner comic but better than Warren Beattie's "Dick Tracy", although there are many similarities.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

something to look at

Last night I watched Jean Luc Goddard's "It's My Life". It has a visionary and economic style of cinema that I love. Depressing but great. I'll definately show the opening scene in a class this fall. It has a conversation intercutting between the backs of two people's heads who aren't even looking at each other. Nana Kleinfrankenheim as Anna Karina (Anna Karenina) is so great, even when we can't see her.
This morning I finished painting the north side of the house (the stucco, yellow) before the rain started. It rained the rest of the day.


William and I were watching a bit more of the 1991 "Batman the animated series" tv show today. We're about mid way through the first season and they've really hit their stride. They fashioned it after the Fleischer Brothers' Superman series of the late 1930s and they've really hit it. Not only are is the design there (buildings, clothes, cars, machines) but the actions are now following the classic smooth, calculated style of the Fleischers. I'm hooked.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I met with Janine this morning, looked at three videos she's been working on. Coming along well. Her newest one finally has good form but, for the first time in her history of this documentary project about her turbulent family history, it lacks drama. She'll work it back in.
This afternoon I painted the south side of the house, I like it.
The fish were seeming sicker than usual to me, hiding in the corner with their fins folded in. We got a new siphon which pulls water from the bottom, rattles the gravel around, and basically pulls water out with an emphasis on pulling dirty gunk off the bottom. I had a panic attack a few minutes ago, remembering that the last time I looked at them they were still in the corner and were appearing to be having seizures. I just checked, they have their fins out and actually appear happy. Perhaps they've turned the corner.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Peter Cook

This evening I hung out with my new friend Peter Cook who I've only known for a couple of months but, both fortunately and unfortunately, is moving away tomorrow. He's taken a position in a new institute of Canadian History at McMaster in Hamilton. Good bye and good luck.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

more paint

I painted the brick facade on the front of the house this morning. I used a big roller that is supposed to be for rough surfaces. I swear it must have held a pint of paint; my arm got very sore holding it. When I'd finished, I had a bit of paint left in the tray and the roller was fully loaded so I attacked a piece of stucco wall. I did almost the entire wall with what was in that roller, just pushing a bit harder and a bit harder as I progressed (see left side of house - I had no ladder so it doesn't extend to top).
I also laid out a patio by the garage and we lit the new fire pit this evening on top of it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Transformers 2

William, Ed, Rowan and I went to Transformers 2 tonight. It was long and action packed. There were a few good laughs: one favorite was about transformers coming to earth thousands of years ago and only having the ability to transform into a wheel.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Something fishy

William wonders how can something be "New and improved"? You can improve something that is old but why is something that is new already improved? I concur. If something new already requires improvements, then obviously it was not a well thought out or tested product.

Last night when we got home from fireworks, the goldfish looked very happy; their fins were out and they were swimming around. We re-introduced the sucker fish into the goldfish. Multiple people had assured us that the sucker fish would not have attacked the goldfish and that the likely culprit was the other goldfish. This morning the fish still looked fine by later in the morning the goldfish had resumed their new habit of hiding in the corner. Then at lunch we actually witnessed the sucker fish chasing the goldfish and trying to bite it! We removed him and I took him back to the store. Apparently they are nocturnal and if they get more than 6 hours of light in the day they might start going crazy. We swapped him for a very cute little catfish that William has named "Kidder". The fish are significantly more happy and relaxed now. In this video, shot just a few minutes ago, the catfish seems to be sleeping but he was very lively earlier - sniffing around the bottom like an excited puppy. You can see the the damage to the larger fish's tail (Big Gil).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada Day

This morning we worried about the fish. The two goldfish were sitting on the bottom, pushing their heads into the corner. We'd separated out the suckerfish but I was worried he would starve in his small container. The master feeds store was open at eleven so William and I went there and bought the medicine for "ich", the disease that causes their spots, as well as some high protein food and some new water conditioner. We dosed him and then went out to Regina Beach to spend the day with Jerry Ann, Steve, Linda, Shawn, Jake, and Cohen. We had a great time. We picked up a few algae covered rocks from the lake for the fish. I forgot to bring my camera. Home again and after a quick nap, we re-embarked to the park, picking up Paul on the way, and watched some very good fireworks. The fish are now back in the same aquarium and seem to be doing well, swimming and doing normal fish stuff.