day two, three and four — dog stories (otherwise known as puppy tales)

If this is your first time at Matilda, hello and a thousand welcomes
and may I refer you to this by way of explaining any potato references.

For others, for those who know about the couch thing  and are here anyway, noble troopers all of you…. cheers!  We’re obviously kindred spuds.

All of which to say… the potato couch  files continue… aka things that happen in an empty room filled with couches of various dimensions.


For example, the other day someone I know drops by and we sit chatting on the couches in the centre of the gallery, which are, indeed, part of the exhibit… and then we notice a few people looking at us as if maybe they’re wondering if we’re  actually part  of the exhibit.

And I think in a way we are…


Then on Saturday someone tells me about a beloved airedale terrier, who had a favourite spot on the couch and how the oil from its fur just ever so slightly marked the upholstery and although the dog is no longer with them and the stain isn’t something anyone else would even see, they see it still. That this  is the story that comes to their mind when surrounded by the couch pics… makes me just so glad I took them.

And then someone else leaves a note about how when they were thirteen their dog jumped onto the couch beside them and landed in their bowl of ice cream.

Two dog stories. Coincidence? Or are dogs and couches a thing?


On a different day entirely when, on the wall in front of me, is a collection of black couches I suddenly remember something I’d long forgotten… how, in my twenties, I’d moved from Toronto to Edmonton by train with only a suitcase and how my parents arranged for a truck of ‘stuff for me’ to arrive a few days after I did.

I didn’t know what they were sending.

Turned out to be a trunk, some boxes and a few pieces of furniture. One of the pieces being a black couch my father made and on it was a stuffed black poodle named Bandit I’d slept with as a child. It was strange to see it loose, not boxed. It had obviously been tossed in at the last minute, an afterthought.

I’d forgotten about all that.

Forgotten how that totally out of character for my parents  gesture surprised me in a way that made being alone and so far from home feel so much less lonely, an unexpected hug… and the best part was that I never knew which of them decided to send the poodle, which of them yelled Wait a minute!!  to the driver of the truck as they ran back to the house to get it…

Dogs and couches.

I think it’s a thing.






the couch potato files

Deep breath.

My upholSTORIES exhibition is up.

Up !!!

Installed with the help of Leslie and her impressive mathematical know-how, general gallery magician abilities and good advice. Hooray! and a thousand thanks to her, and to The Robert McLaughlin Gallery for accepting the premise that there is much to be found in the things we are prepared to lose…

So until the middle of May I’m going to be a regular couch potato… making the gallery space my office for a couple of hours each day as I work on a writing project while also taking in the fact that my pictures of street furniture surround me on four walls. And people are looking at them.

And the people are marvellous! This is my favourite part, the chatting.

Which is the whole point. It’s not about the pictures, it’s about what happens when people see the pictures and are reminded of their own stories of couches in their past. The photos are merely a way in.

Today a young man stands in front of one of my favourites… pink velvet with elaborately carved wood trim and legs… and tells me it’s exactly like his grandmother’s and that he was just sitting on it yesterday. The way he smiles when he says it makes me think he’s often at his gran’s… that tiny comment is just so filled with good vibes about their relationship. And then I wonder if he’ll tell her about the photo next time he’s there. And I wonder if she’ll tell him about her couch, things that would never have crossed either of their minds… maybe about the day she got it, or the party where someone spilled sherry or iced tea or how, maybe, someone else was proposed to while sitting right there where he sits now… and if so, I wonder where that conversation will take them that they may not have otherwise gone.

Because that’s what it’s all about…

The exhibition runs until May 14th in Gallery A
of The Robert McLaughlin Gallery

Reception, Friday, May 5th, 7-9 p.m.
Artist Talk — Sunday, May 7th, 1-3 p.m.

my life in laura smith songs


I love this post over at Commatology so I’m stealing the idea and I hope you do too.

It took me about seven seconds to decide on the music for this game because whether I realize it or not, Laura Smith’s words travel with me. And if not always the words, then the sentiments of land and sea and nature and our responsibility to the world and to each other and the idea of dreams and following them and having the courage to know you are all you need to be.

Also, there are references in her songs to things like goat skin drums and pennywhistles. Who would NOT want that living in their head??

In a nutshell, I like her music.

So the game is this: to answer the questions with the title of a song.

The titles can be from any albums belonging to one musician.

My Life in Laura Smith Songs—
  1.  Are you male or female? I’m a Beauty.
  2.  Describe yourself: My Gate’s Wide Open
  3.  How do you feel about yourself?: I Built a Boat
  4.  Describe your ex: Faceless Wonder
  5.  Describe your current romantic situation: Shade of your Love
  6.  Describe your current location: Safe Home Sweet Light
  7.  Describe where you want to be: Horses and Plough
  8.  Your best friend is: Tell the Truth
  9.  Your favourite colour is: Gypsy Dream
  10.  You know that: It’s a Personal Thing
  11.  What’s the weather: Elemental
  12.  If your life was a TV show what would it be called?: Shore Lines
  13.  What is life to you?: Inspiration
  14.  What is the best advice you have to give?: Clean Up Your Own Backyard
  15.  If you could change your name what would you change it to? Jordy


you can take me anywhere but you can’t dress me up

I was once invited to a costume party I didn’t want to go to but under pressure grudgingly agreed and at the last minute—literally minutes before we went out the door—I cut a hole in a white sheet and wore it like a poncho. No one at the party seemed to know I was supposed to be an angel. Where’s your halo, they said? Where’s your wings??


I don’t like costume parties. I find them uncomfortable for many reasons, not the least of which is that the whole point of the dressing up is to attract attention, which is counter to what I usually aim for at gatherings, i.e. to quietly blend in with the cheese table. It’s not that I’m anti-social. I’ll meet you for lunch in a heartbeat; it’s crowds of people not talking about anything that cheeses me off.

A scenario only made worse in togas and sailor suits.

But it’s not just that, there’s something else weird. Like clown-weirdness.

That said, here I am, invited to another costume thing. One where I will know almost no one. Theme: western. At least there’s that… I can wear jeans. And a simple shirt. And, lest anyone say I don’t have the right spirit for these things (which of course I don’t), I’d like the record to show that I went to Value Village and found a hat with a string under the chin and a black and white neckerchief.

I draw the line at boots.

I think this one’s pretty obvious right?

I’m the Birkenstock Cowboy.

[cue the music]