The First Day

When I'm teaching summer art classes with children, I put a lot of thought into the first day.

I want the students to feel comfortable above all. I will not make them stand up and introduce themselves, talk about what kind of art they like best, or anything that could make someone anxious being in a new place with new people while they are figuring it all out. I don't do anything complicated, messy, or requiring previous experience on the first day. The first project is making nametags for their desks, and everyone learns each other's names by seeing them. I can tell a lot about the students with this first project. Some quickly scribble their name with one colour and then ask what to do next, while others are still putting on finishing touches on the third day. I get a sense of what types of things they are interested in, maybe their paper is filled with Pokémon, flowers, giraffes, fashion ideas or geometric designs. The ones with elaborate cursive bubble letters will be really into the projects, those with a rushed scribble will probably need more outside breaks to the playground. I plan little side-projects for the kids who are constantly "done" while the rest of the group works on the main project. Play-doh is good, until they start throwing it around the room. I imagine their parents saying, "you can't play video games all summer! You're going to day camp! Here, this art one sounds fun." A good compliment I received once from a student, "I thought this was going to be totally boring, but it isn't."

On the first day, I explain what we will do all week. I show them which materials they have free access to and which are in the Teacher Zone. My preferred style of art instruction is "buffet" where everything is laid out for them to choose what they want. I let them know that art is like science, in that we test things out and some things work and some things don't. Failure is very important in finding success, and art is so much more than making a horse that looks like a horse. I tell them realistic art is only one type of art, and we explore and experiment while we create and express ideas.

Within an hour, the kids are feeling like they know what's what, and even the most shy start feeling comfortable. Some are excited that they will try materials like charcoal that they've never tried before. They are starting to make friends with the other children they just met, and think I'm pretty entertaining with my theatric inflections of voice and passion for art.

I take them on a walk around the college before snack break to look at and discuss art, and also check out some cool places we will come back to for Outdoor Sketching. It's like when I used to give art gallery tours, only there are ponds and gardens and an elevator the kids love to take to the third floor. "Look at these four paintings. Do you see things that are the same or different? Do they make you feel peaceful or angry or sad or something else? What was the artist trying to say?" We talk about local artist James Marshall's brick mural at the college, and they can always remember where they've seen his other brick murals around town.

The different age groups have different main projects, but I always say if they have something else really inspiring them they can make their own project. I won't force anyone to create something they don't want to, for example a student could choose to make army tanks instead of flowers with egg carton cups if that's what they were stoked about. The students usually enjoy Free Time in addition to what I have planned, and I've abandoned some projects because everyone was in the zone doing their own thing.

One year I had a student that was really creative and liked trying new things. Her dad picked her up one day and she excitedly began explaining she rolled marbles around in a box with paint and how fun it was. He looked at her paintings and heart-breakingly told her that wasn't art since a 2 year old could do it. Guess he was expecting a horse that looked just like a horse. I was so glad I got to show her a different view of what art can be.

Summer Art Camp

Schools are closed for July and August where I live. I work at the College doing summer day programs of arts & crafts with kids.

This is what I'd like to be doing year round, in my own art school/studio/gallery. Need like a million dollars, seems impossible, but I still wish it.

The biggest difference is class size. Having groups of less than twelve children means that I am able to really focus on my students, give them more open-ended creative and explorative projects, spend time talking about their projects with them, and help them problem solve. This does not work once you see 20 or 30 or more kids in a group. The lessons are simplified to be accessible to the weaker students, because most will be teaching themselves while the teacher is busy repeating instructions. The talented students often get little attention because they've caught on to the idea and the people struggling need the guidance more urgently. Small groups though, I am mentoring each one.

I am thinking about making a book (or maybe a blog) about art lessons with kids. I have some great photos from over the several years I've done art camp. I'd have to use photos without faces because the forms the parents sign to photograph their children only cover consent to the college and the newspaper. I'm not sure what programs I'd need on the computer to lay out that kind of thing, if I went traditional publishing route. In addition to the lesson plans and photography, I'd like to add memories, and descriptions of how each lesson creates different results depending on the imagination of the children.

Every now and then I meet a student that I immediately know has True Talent. Yes, everyone can be an artist. Art skills can be learned and improved. If you can write the alphabet you have basic drawing skills. I tell all my students their work is awesome. "I love the colours you chose!" "This technique is working really well!" type of thing. But some kids really impress the socks off me and that happened today. I can't wait to see her final project, it might be better than the example I made!

At snack break she sat on a couch in one of the student lounges on campus. She put up her feet on the upholstery and I said, "Hey! Would you put your shoes on your couch at home? What would your mom say?" In a joking, conversational tone of voice, not punitive. She very quietly looked toward the windows, and after a pause, moved her feet to the floor and said softly, "my mom died."

It made me think about the connection between artists and adversity, and how she will create with real emotion and darkness and hardship most kids haven't experienced. I wonder if that unspeakable tragedy had to happen to her so the world will have her beautiful expressive art. Or maybe it was just a fluke project, the majority of her work is not adult level, and she said she was orphan because she thought it would be funny. Who knows?

Things I Can’t Say

I was reading an article about a prison guard who is in trouble for taking photos of an inmate's disgusting cell and going to social media with them. Commenters say, "but he's a hero!" The Truth is illegal.

As a teacher I am bound by confidentiality. I sign a form swearing I will never disclose what goes on with the children and colleagues in the schools. I'm sure the prison guard signed something similar.

I wanted to write about what happened in my internship. I was treated unfairly, it was a nightmare, I still can't believe it happened. Even trying to talk to another staff member about what was happening with my mentor teacher was enough for her to threaten to sue me for speaking ill of her. Not joking. I need to silence myself on so much I want to say.

I wanted to write a futuristic fiction about the collapse of public school and the consequences to society for what the education system is doing.

I wanted to write about the time administration failed to uphold government law to placate a religious parent and left me feeling like I was the one in the wrong even with the law on my side.

I can't tell anyone about any of it. I am gagged by the agreement I signed, to pretend everything is fine when it's so very broken. I worry I can't even say what I've said in this post.

I know how the guard feels. I want to show everyone the figurative shit I've seen smeared on the windows, but it could cost me my job.

Mornings

I love the morning. When I have nowhere to be, that I can lie in bed with my cats brings me joy. The fourth floor gets so hot in the afternoon. By the middle of the night, a cool breeze has found the bedroom window and the curtain billows like a ship's sail when the wind blows a certain direction. It is glorious in the morning to be so comfortable for a small window of time. No need for the fans and AC which leave me annoyed at the continuous feel of air moving on my skin.

I sometimes go to bed early so I won't sleep through this beautiful time. How many mornings I've wasted in being unconscious or having to work.

My cats are needy in the morning. They know I always get up and feed them so they crawl on me and cuddle and knead me as a giant lump of dough. Before I moved to a new apartment and got a different bed, they both slept by my feet. Now they only come when they are doing their best to get me downstairs where the food goes into bowls. The new bed is much higher from the ground than the old mattress on the floor, and it seems narrower. The night I realized this I leapt out of bed to grab a measuring tape to ensure I actually bought a Queen, googling mattress dimensions at 2:00 am. I have an 'under the bed' area now which they enjoy, but morning is our bonding time.

Lou is draping herself over my side and purring, I reflect on my failed relationships. How I'm better alone. The ways I change and compromise myself to get what I think I'm supposed to want. I see my life as whole and full of love without a husband or kids, I'm not lonely. I think of the cartoon where the girl squeezes the cat, "I will love you, and squeeze you…" as the cat is struggling to escape. I am manipulating attention from my cats by delaying feeding them. Control issues. People always say, "you'll find someone when you least expect it," and, "there is someone out there for everyone," and, "have you tried online dating?" I don't want to give up all the space in my bed, or in my head, or take in all the worries and noise that follows sharing your life with another human. I think about robot lovers, Amanda Palmer's song 'Coin Operated Boy'. I think about how a spouse could have helped me move, could pay half the rent, but does that make me an awful selfish person? Venus in Capricorn.

I don't want to take the ear plugs out yet, it's so peaceful. I don't want to be vertical and deal with things that require me leaving this nest or getting dressed or using stairs. I just want to stay in this blissful bubble before the temperature rises and the moment is gone.

Feeling Devastated 

I thought all my writing projects were saved on my jump drive. The file names were there, but when I went to open one to work on it, it was 6 pages of pound signs. #######################

The person who broke into my home and stole my electronics stole thousands of words and ideas from me that the insurance company can’t replace. 

I still have my pencil-and-paper writing journal, and bits and pieces on the blog. I will be able to start again and rewrite everything. Like all my crops have been destroyed in a massive hailstorm, but will eventually grow again. 

I will be writing everything on google docs from now on, so it is saved to the Internet. I’m also glad I didn’t try to open a file when the theft happened, I don’t think I would have handled it as well. 

After three weeks I’m still waiting for the insurance company to send me a check for a portion of what was stolen, minus $500 deductible. Then I have to replace everything and send them receipts, and they send me another check for the difference. I remember foolishly thinking I would have everything back in a week. The police found fingerprints but they were not in the system, and they are probably mine as everything was recently handled during the move. I don’t think I’ll ever see my things again or anyone will ever be caught for it. 

Fictional Portrait Edit

The second assignment was to edit the first portrait to reflect what was discussed in the lectures and readings.

……………………………..

He rummages through the dumpster, looking for recyclables. On a good day, he can fill his reused black garbage bag and stop in at the bottle depot more than once for the cash deposit on drink cans and bottles. He finds other things too in the places people throw things away, items that could be sold or repaired but are easier to dispose of in a wasteful society. He is a thrifter, a treasure hunter, a trash archaeologist, sifting through the layers of the unwanted materials of other people’s lives. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

He smiles and says hello in the early morning, as the woman tosses her bag of kitty litter, banana peels, and used kleenex into the dumpster on her way to work. He can tell he won’t need to go through this bag, but after she has driven off, he pokes at it just in case. The dumpster’s heavy lid is propped up with something he found lying around, and his cane reaches down into the acrid depths of the metal bin. Today he has found a discarded electric fan. One of the blades is missing, another has a crack. He assumes there is a good chance it still works, and sets it to the side. It will be light enough to carry home up the hill, but this is only the fourth dumpster on his daily route, and he will collect it later. The tiny apartment really heats up in the summer, and this is a fortunate find, if it works. If there is some issue with the motor or electrical system he can’t fix, it will simply be returned to the endless supply of refuse. If the broken fan blade makes it spin unevenly, he will remove another blade opposite to balance it. He is good with his hands. He is a problem solver.

Crescent Heights, where he lives, is at the top of the hill. He comes down the well-maintained stairway built into the side of the coulee, and crosses the pedestrian walkway over the busy Altawana Hill traffic. The bottom of the hill is Riverside, with its many apartment complexes and adjoining dumpster buffet. It also has a bottle depot. Passed the Catholic cathedral, the sidewalk leads to the pale green Finlay Bridge, over the river into Downtown. Here is where he spends most of the day, before returning for any items he set aside earlier, on his way back up the hill. He never takes a day off. He goes out and about every day, because you never know when you will find something worth finding.

Familiar faces come and go at the Tim Horton’s on 3rd street. Some do not make eye contact, others greet him with a smile or some spare change. His army camouflage pants don’t blend into the brick walls, but you would sometimes think he was invisible. The pretty lady with the pony tail behind the counter is always friendly to him. “Hey there, how are you doing this morning? Your usual breakfast today?” He nods shyly and casts his eyes down to the counter, setting down some toonies for his small double double coffee with a bacon n’ egg breakfast sandwich. He puts nickels and dimes into the change box of the Children’s Foundation beside the register because he likes to give when he can. He knows every little bit adds up.

A newspaper is left on a table near a window and he chooses that spot. First he flips to the obituaries. At some point in your life, the names and faces stop being folks your grandparents’ age, and you start seeing people your parents’ age, if you had any. Then more and more people your own age appear in the columns until one day it is you. He sees a headline in the paper about how the city of Medicine Hat claims to have ended homelessness. From April 2009 to December 31, 2016, they housed 1072 people, including 312 children. The mayor is quoted as saying, “I wasn’t even on board when I was first elected,” but now believes the program is a huge success, with declining costs in crime and health care saving taxpayers money in the long run. “How do you solve homelessness? You give them a home.”

After his meal, he leaves the newspaper for the next person and goes out to the bench beside the sidewalk, between the coffee shop and the street of one-way traffic. There is one plastic water bottle in the trash can beside the bench, which he crushes and adds to his bag. He sees his friend coming down the street, the one who declined housing to stay in a tent with his dog in an inconspicuous bramble of trees in one of the city’s parks. Some do not have the same life goals as the families you see living the cookie cutter lives of nine-to-five jobs, marriage, big screen televisions, SUVs, excess and suburbia. Some prefer to live off the grid, but still go into town for supplies. “Hey man, how’s it goin’? Haven’t seen you in a while,” the man with the dog says as he sits on the bench beside him. “Oh, you know, same old- same old,” he replies. They talk about the weather, warm and windy as usual.

“He was just a puppy when I pulled him outta the stream by Saratoga Park. I didn’t know if he’d even make it. I saved his life, now he saves mine. I feel safer knowing nobody gonna mess with the guy with the guard dog.” This vagrant prefers an alternative way of life, but he has needs we all share, such as safety and companionship. The dog provides both. The dog, the abandoned German Shepherd crossed with a few other breeds, the squirming sinking lump that turned out to be the strongest swimmer of the litter, a survivor.

For the most part, the people he encounters in the community are kind and generous. There are also those who cast judgmental looks of disgust or shout taunts at him as they drive by. Usually a variation of, “Get a job, you lazy bum!” or, “Frickin’ freeloader!” He tries to understand where their hate is coming from. They think he is taking something they are entitled to. They see him as a parasite. They make assumptions about substance abuse and his mental health. They think he is a lesser lifeform than themselves. They think the government should spend tax money drug testing welfare recipients. He once overheard two men talking loudly in front of the Royal Bank, “I don’t work my life away to have to give it all up in taxes to those lazy commies. I bet they never worked a day in their lives, or known sacrifice like I have. Greedy. Just looking for the next handout, riding the gravy train.”

He says goodbye to his friend and continues his dumpster route down an alley. He thinks about nights he spent in cold, drafty places, beneath bridges and in gutters and hidden away in nooks and shadows. A tent and a dog would feel like camping, feel like a choice. His apartment has everything he needs, running water and more privacy than the homeless shelter. He has a support worker helping him with government forms and paperwork, and he was accepted for AISH funding, Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped. You take a hit to your ego when you admit to being handicapped. Permanently disabled. They paid for his new glasses. They would pay for a gym membership, but he keeps in shape doing the stairs every day. He used to work construction, but because of the seizures he lost his driver’s license and his job. Just wasn’t safe.

The library has one of the best public washrooms that you don’t have to buy something to use. He pays five dollars a year for his library card and has access to all the books, music, and movies he wants. He likes to read non-fiction. He has read more than most college graduates, but never got a fancy piece of paper with the official stamp and signature. He uses the Internet computers to check the weather report and ask Google questions. He likes to sit in the chairs that face out over the river on his breaks from rescuing usable unwanted items. He is reading about local history. The Gas City was settled when the railroad was built across Western Canada in the late 1800s. It is known for its underground pockets of natural gas, referred to as All Hell for a Basement. Many of the people here are reliant on the oil industry to make their living. With the recession leading to massive job loss there were desperate times for many who never imagined it would happen to them. Unemployment can happen to anyone; sudden financial difficulty is not always a result of bad choices. He remembers how he heard someone talking into their thousand-dollar pocket computer how they had to sell their house to live in their trailer, but that the trailer was worth over three years of his AISH payments.

The bottle depot closes at 5:00 now, it used to be 5:30. If he has found a lot of bottles after his lunch time depot visit, he will go again. He walks back over the green bridge and sees people fishing, geese and ducks swimming in the river, the occasional beaver. He fantasizes about living off the land, he thinks he could make a bow and arrows, maybe a slingshot. If you have Indian Status you can claim hunting and fishing rights. He was told when he was young his father had some native blood, but he has no documentation to complete the paperwork, all he has of his family history is a name and the memory of his dearly departed mother, taken too young. He has always depended on himself.

Home in time for dinner, he changes out of his work clothes into sweat pants and a clean t-shirt. He cleans and organizes the items in his backpack, sets aside breakfast money, and makes lists of things he needs to do the next day, or things he is searching for during daily excavation. He is content, he is productive, and his high quality of life is reliant on social programs.

 

 

I Was Robbed

They came in, took my plastic recycling bag out of the pantry, and filled it with my electronics. Laptop, noise cancelling headphones, old iPhone 4 I used as an iPod, all my camera equipment. 

I didn’t even notice right away because there was no damage. They came right in, I’m assuming with the former tenant’s key. Always get the locks changed when you move. 

I called Best Buy to get the serial number of the computer. The next day they offered me a loaner laptop until my insurance claim is sorted. I cried with gratitude that they would be so kind to me.

My insurance claim should take less than a month. And I’m so lucky, as I had rental insurance just over a week when I was burglarized. Never had it the nine years I lived downstairs. I mostly was thinking about getting a hotel if a tree smashed through my window. I never imagined someone would enter my home and steal from me. 

That night I used the chain lock on the door, even though there was nothing left to steal that could be sold for drugs. It was the second time I’ve used a chain lock, the first was several years ago when my car was broken into in the parking garage. That time they got my spare keys with address listed on my ID. I think a chain lock would not take much force, the screws would rip from the wall, but it is symbolic of safety when you are feeling violated. 

My writing goals for June are to keep up with my writing assignments for the writing course I joined. It’s more difficult than writing whatever I’m motivated to do. I’m learning though, and the lecture videos are interesting. I’m reading a book about how to build an online presence, and another on the art of writing memoir. I still have some stories left to read in the massive Lovecraft collection too but it’s not easy to get through. 

The night before the theft I made sure all my writing files were saved onto a jump drive, as I finished the first draft of Assignment 1. I worried my work could be lost if my computer stopped working properly. I’m going to start saving to google docs also. I was so glad they didn’t take the jump drive, glad I ejected it safely and it wasn’t in the computer. 

Could have been much worse. My cats were OK. They didn’t take any of my art. They didn’t get the crystal jaguar I bought at Chichen Itza. It’s bad timing for me financially to have to pay out the deductible but my things will eventually be replaced.

Fictional Portrait Inspired by the Man That Digs Through My Trash

I joined a free online writing course and the first paper was a portrait of someone and how their identity is influenced by their surroundings and social issues. I thought of the man I often see at the dumpster on my way to work. I wasn’t sure I said all I wanted to say, but I didn’t know how to end it. I started worrying I was making too many assumptions creating a fictional day-in-the-life of this nameless man. I started feeling like to do this piece properly I should be interviewing people at Tim Horton’s, not just imagining what could be.

………………………

He rummages through the dumpster, looking for recyclables. On a good day, he can fill his reused black garbage bag and stop in at the bottle depot for twenty dollars for a few hours work. He finds other things too in the places people throw things away, items that could be sold or repaired but are easier to dispose of in a wasteful society. He is a thrifter, a treasure hunter, a trash archaeologist, sifting through the layers of the unwanted materials of other people’s lives. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

He smiles and says hello in the early morning, as the woman tosses her bag of kitty litter, banana peels, and used kleenex into the dumpster on her way to work. He can tell he won’t need to go through this bag, but after she has driven off, he pokes at it just in case. The dumpster’s heavy lid is propped up with something he found lying around, and his cane reaches down into the acrid depths of the metal bin. Today he has found a discarded electric fan. One of the blades is missing, another has a crack. He assumes there is a good chance it still works, and sets it to the side. It will be light enough to carry home up the hill, but this is only the fourth dumpster on his daily route, and he will collect it later. The tiny apartment really heats up in the summer, and this is a fortunate find, if it works. If there is some issue with the motor or electrical system he can’t fix, it will simply be returned to the endless supply of refuse. If the broken fan blade makes it spin unevenly, he will remove another blade opposite to balance it. He is good with his hands. He is a problem solver.

Crescent Heights, where he lives, is at the top of the hill. He comes down the well-maintained stairway built into the side of the coulee, and crosses the pedestrian walkway over the busy Altawana Hill traffic. The bottom of the hill is Riverside, with its many apartment complexes and adjoining dumpster buffet. It also has a bottle depot. Passed the Catholic cathedral, the sidewalk leads to the pale green Finlay Bridge, over the river into Downtown. Here is where he spends most of the day, before returning for any items he set aside earlier, on his way back up the hill. He never takes a day off. He goes out and about every day, because you never know when you will find something worth finding.

Familiar faces come and go at the Tim Horton’s on 3rd street. Some do not make eye contact, others greet him with a smile or some spare change. His army camouflage pants don’t blend into the brick walls, but you would sometimes think he was invisible. The pretty lady with the pony tail behind the counter is always friendly to him. “Hey there, how are you doing this morning? Your usual breakfast today?” He nods shyly and casts his eyes down to the counter, setting down some toonies for his small double double coffee with a bacon n’ egg breakfast sandwich. He puts nickels and dimes into the change box of the Children’s Foundation beside the register because he likes to give when he can. He knows every little bit adds up.

A newspaper is left on a table near a window and he chooses that spot. First he flips to the obituaries. At some point in your life, the names and faces stop being folks your grandparents’ age, and you start seeing people your parents’ age, if you had any. Then more and more people your own age appear in the columns until one day it is you. He sees a headline in the paper about how the city of Medicine Hat claims to have ended homelessness. From April 2009 to December 31, 2016, they housed 1072 people, including 312 children. The mayor is quoted as saying, “I wasn’t even on board when I was first elected,” but now believes the program is a huge success, with declining costs in crime and health care saving taxpayers money in the long run. “How do you solve homelessness? You give them a home.”

He knows a guy that still lives in a tent with his dog in an inconspicuous bramble of trees in one of the parks. Some do not have the same life goals as the typical families you see living the cookie cutter lives of 9-5 jobs, marriage, bigscreen tvs, SUVs, excess and suburbia. Some prefer to live off the grid. He prefers running water and more privacy than a shelter. He has a support worker helping him with government forms and paperwork, and he was accepted for AISH funding, Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped. You take an ego hit when you admit to being handicapped. Permanently disabled. They paid for his new glasses. They would pay for a gym membership, but he keeps in shape doing the stairs every day.

The library has one of the best public washrooms that you don’t have to buy something to use. He pays five dollars a year for his library card and has access to all the books, music, and movies he can carry up the hill. He likes to read non-fiction, he has read more than most college graduates but never got the fancy piece of paper with the official stamp and signature. He uses the Internet computers to check the weather report and ask Google questions. He likes to sit in the chairs that face out over the river and watch the clouds on his breaks from rescuing usable unwanted items.

The bottle depot closes at 5:00 now, it used to be 5:30. If he has found a lot of bottles after his lunch time depot visit, he will go again. He walks back over the green bridge and sees people fishing, geese and ducks swimming in the river, the occasional beaver. He fantasizes about living off the land, he thinks he could make a bow and arrows, maybe a slingshot. If you have Indian Status you can claim hunting and fishing rights. He was told when he was young his father had some native blood, but he has no documentation to complete the paperwork, all he has of his family history is a name and the memory of his dearly departed mother, taken too young. He has always depended on himself.

Home in time for dinner, he changes out of his work clothes into sweat pants and a clean t-shirt. He cleans and organizes the items in his backpack, sets aside breakfast money, and makes lists of things he needs to do the next day, or things he is searching for in particular during daily excavation. He is content, he is productive, his high quality of life is reliant on social programs. For the most part, the people he encounters are kind and generous. The worst is judgmental looks of disgust or shouted teenage taunts as someone drives by. He has never been attacked, but he’s always home by dark.


 

Power of the Pen Writing Course

While I have been busy all month packing, moving, cleaning, and now unpacking and organizing, I have not had much time for my writing projects. 

I still make notes in my writing journal, jot down interesting ideas, think about where my stories are going, and read posts in online writing groups. One of the posts I came across was for a free online writing course about Social Issues and Identity in Fiction and Non-Fiction. My alley, it’s right up it.

http://www.writingwa.org/articles/power-of-the-pen-2017-moocs
Each week the instructors post video lectures and readings about the topic, encouraging discussion and building a network with other writers. The first assignment is to write 1000-1500 words about a portrait of a person and how they fit into their community. 

I thought at first about doing a memoir, but changing it to be fiction. How I felt displaced growing up, building a sense of belonging by coming to terms with negativity and mental health, who I am in the community now. 

One of the talks encouraged me to think deeper about what issues there are in my city, and I thought of the overlooked impoverished people that are here that no one really talks about. One man in particular, who I see going through my dumpster, inspired me to create a fictional day in the life of someone “rescued from homelessness” as my city is a front runner in the Housing First program. 

I’m thinking of a film I saw back in Art School called “In the Gutter and Other Good Places” about people who scavenge for cans and bottles to get the recycle refund. I want to show how this man is resilient and resourceful, not some drunk freeloader mooching others’ hard earned tax dollars. 

I’m excited to see where the course goes, and possibly sign up for other sessions in the future. 

Haunted Objects

I moved to a place with high ceilings. Ceilings so high I need a ladder just to change the light bulbs in my bedroom. I also require a ladder to access the windows and to hang art. 

I go to a lot of garage sales. It’s partly because I’m cheap, and was raised appreciating second hand things. I also love haggling for a cheap price, something you can’t do at WalMart. I hunt for beautiful, original, and vintage items. 

So when I saw how pricey ladders are, the thought crossed my mind to find one at a garage sale. But then I thought, you don’t want a used ladder. What if the previous owner fell and died, and now their ghost haunts the ladder causing accidents for anyone that might use the ladder? 

Where’s my writing journal, I thought, I need to write this down. 

Looking through my collection (hoard), I have so many great objects that have the potential to be haunted items. Not really, but in a fictional kind of way. I’m not sure I even believe in ghosts. Spirits, souls, vibes, residual energies, maybe.

But in a horror fiction sense, I started thinking of a series of short stories surrounding haunted items. How does an item become haunted? The ghost must have a connection to the object, maybe it was something they cherished like a ring, or something they used everyday like a paintbrush. In the case of the ladder, maybe the object becomes haunted when it causes a death. 

Can an object be haunted by more than one ghost? Can each person who falls from the cursed ladder end up connected to it, or is there a one ghost limit? Places can certainly have multiple hauntings, but what about objects?

Do certain materials attract and hold ghosts better than others? If so, is it connected to that material’s ability to conduct electricity? 

Do ghosts haunt things because they have unfinished business, want revenge, weren’t ready to die, died suddenly?

So each story will describe an object. Then it will show how the item comes into the possession of the new owner and the resulting haunting. Then it will tie in to the previous owner. 

The ring, it’s colours, the stone, maybe it’s from eBay. A woman buys it, and begins thinking she is someone else when she wears it, does things out of character for her, has weird memories. Turns out, a woman in an insane asylum wore it, and it was stolen when she died. 

The paintbrush, what it’s handle and bristles are made of, it’s at an estate sale. The new artist finds when he uses it, he blacks out, and doesn’t remember painting what is on the canvas when he wakes up in the morning. The previous owner was an artist who never became famous, but whose spirit remains obsessed with making art. 

I would photograph the objects and use a high contrast black and white filter to make them look spooky.

In the mean time I’m watching the fliers for ladder sales.