10th Contemporary Art Exhibition, Kirkland Lake by Amanta Scott

I am delighted to announce that my work Awakening has been selected be featured in the 10th Annual Contemporary Art Exhibition, April 6 - May 3rd 2017 at the Museum of Northern History in Kirkland Lake. Of 82 entries, 28 works were selected for the exhibition. 

Encaustic painting workshop in Kirkland Lake by Amanta Scott

I was invited to direct a workshop on encaustic painting at The Museum of Northern History in Kirkland Lake, where my work Waiting is now on exhibit for a full year leading up to an exhibition of my work Parallel Lines in March 2018.

I spoke about the history of encaustic painting, my own journey with encaustic painting and shared stories about the evolution of Parallel Lines — an interactive art installation and social engagement project.

I then gave a demonstration of encaustic techniques. The hands-on demonstration workshop was held at Cesar Forero's wonderful painting studio which he also designed. Participants seemed to have quite a lot of fun. I certainly did. The community is very warm and welcoming. 

About Parallel Lines by Amanta Scott

In light of Canada's 150th anniversary, the recent US election; the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada; and the growing climate of intolerance — I feel that now, more than ever before, we need dialogue, and that this is what we artists are here to facilitate. We have a powder keg here waiting. Dialogue is essential.

Parallel Lines draws attention to the continued challenges of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples to overcome their history of incarceration on reserves, at residential schools and in prisons. 

Parallel Lines also highlights the plight of refugees fleeing war and hardship in their own countries and their struggle to build new lives in Canada. 

Aurora, Amanta Scott, encaustic mixed media on birch panel, 40 x 60 x 1.75 in., 2017

Aurora, Amanta Scott, encaustic mixed media on birch panel, 40 x 60 x 1.75 in., 2017

Parallel Lines was created and designed to honour and empower people; to facilitate conversation and dialogue; and cultivate mutual understanding and respect.

The work does not presume to speak for anyone. That's the participant's job in this work.

Over the years I have found that angry abrasive activism is not the only way to reach people.

Ambiguous yet playful Parallel Lines encourages and enables people to listen and learn. 

Faced with the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for example, I imagine many non-native people might dread coming face to face with a residential school survivor. Through Parallel Lines, however, the playful act of interpreting a painting or arranging articles around a bed engages visitors, drawing them in almost as participants in an unfolding story.

Defenses are lowered through play, curiosity and interest is piqued and a fertile environment is created wherein seeds of compassion and understanding may be planted.  

I feel it is vital that Canadian-born people engage with First Nations people and with newcomers to listen to and hear their stories; stand with them and actively help to create a respectful space to enable healing to begin. 

* * *

I met a Bosnian shopkeeper in Toronto who told me she encountered a Serbian warlord from her village back home — by the elevator in her apartment building in Toronto. 

Last week, I was chatting with an Iranian carpet dealer who told me he used to design textiles for the Queen of Iran. He lost everything when he was forced to flee his country. He said that the people of the regime he escaped are now buying up expensive homes in Toronto.  He lives in dread.

The more we understand each others' perspectives, the more chance we have of cultivating compassion and peace.

* * *

Parallel Lines is a multi-disciplinary interactive art project — encompassing a series of photo-based encaustic paintings centred around a prison bed, a prison suitcase and an individual; with interactive sculpture installations featuring 15 prison beds from the former Kingston Penitentiary for Women; and story-sharing.

Centred around the idea that we create a prison for ourselves through our beliefs — Parallel Lines explores questions of perception and choice. Parallel Lines also explores issues of incarceration and freedom, alienation and community, desperation and hope.

The title Parallel Lines refers to the parallel bars of the physical, emotional and psychological prisons where all of us find ourselves from time to time. It also refers to how parallel lines appear to converge in the distance just as seemingly opposing view-points can converge with a new perspective.

Parallel Lines draws people of all ages, socio- economic and cultural backgrounds to engage intimately with contemporary art and share their stories. Parallel Lines is an empowering, socially relevant project, providing a platform for people to express themselves and be heard.

Parallel Lines includes entertaining talks in which I discuss my inspiration for the work, the fascinating process of encaustic painting and exactly how I ended up with 15 prison beds. I also recount stories heard over the course of developing the project — some: heartwarming and inspiring; others: surprising and disturbing.  Visitors are then invited to engage with the prison bed and suitcase installations to create their own personal artist statement and share their own stories. 

A new art work will evolve from the stories people tell me. I'm really feeling passionate about this. I think dialogue is essential in our current climate. I truly believe we need to engage with one another to share our concerns, express our values, and discuss what really matters as we share this planet and learn how to love....

What do you think?

Ontario Society of Artists — Open Juried Exhibition by Amanta Scott

I'm delighted to announce that my work Autumn from Parallel Lines, has been selected for “Suspension & Motion” — the Ontario Society of Artists 143rd Open Juried Exhibition. 

Out of 221 images from 122 artists, the jurors selected 38 works in various media, including painting, photography, sculpture and mixed media.

Opening Reception: Thursday, April 7th 2016, 6:00 - 8:00pm

The exhibition runs April 5 - 29th.

John B. Aird Gallery, 900 Bay Street (Bay and Wellesley)

Visions Fugitives by Amanta Scott

Wandering around New York on a misty evening . . . a chance encounter with a security guard by the Oculus at the World Trade Centre left me with a gentle heart and eyes open. He lost friends when the towers came down, as did many. He was to be working there that day, and arrived on the scene to see the first tower fall. He told me that when he spoke to strangers at the time — the second tower's gonna come down too, best get as far away as possible — he was amazed that they looked at him and instead of taking his advice, asked  — who are you to say? — He told me that since that day he has learned to be kinder to people. We are more than we may seem. Much much more.

Highlights from the Cloisters Museum in New York by Amanta Scott


The Cloisters Museum is well worth a visit. One walks from the subway (86th Street) in northern Manhattan along a winding path bordered by trees and rocks with a panoramic view of the river. It's a refreshing and rejuvenating experience after the busy streets of New York. The Cloisters' collection comprises approximately two thousand works of art. 

The museum reminded me of the Alhambra in Spain. Chatting with the attendant when I returned to the coat check, I was delighted to hear him say:

"I love it here. I am from Spain, it feels like home." 

website

another highlight from the Neuberger Art Collection by Amanta Scott

Sophie Calle - is another intriguing artist born in France, 1953. Much of her work is photography based and generally tells a story. The stories may be autobiographical, derive from tales of others' experiences, or be entirely fiction. Questioning the line between fiction and reality is fundamental to her work.

In her work Autobiographies (The Tie) she accompanies an image of a tie with an amusing anecdote which would be fun, if true — in which she claims to have seen a man who was badly dressed, so she sent him a silk tie. Each year, she said, she sent him a new article of clothing. One day, she wrote, she hoped to meet him clothed entirely as she had dressed him.

I love this concept. I couldn't find an image of the exact work but here's a link to a website which seems to represent her work.

a highlight from the Neuberger Art Collection by Amanta Scott

I was charmed by an enchanting work by Teun Hocks

Born 1947, Leiden, The Netherlands, Teun Hocks seems an intriguing artist with a great sense of humour. 

Hocks creates "large scale hand painted photographs", featuring himself in the works. 

He first creates a background with paint and props; he then positions himself within the created environment and captures the scene in a black and white photograph. This photograph is then blown up and sepia toned. He then paints a transparent layer of oil paint, colouring everything but allowing the original photo to come thought the paint.

A fascinating process — drawing, performing, photographing and painting. 

His works include images of himself but are not self-portraits. He creates a kind of 'every man' situated in a puzzling, thought-provoking environment.

I'd like to meet him someday! I think we have a lot in common.

Check out his website too. Great fun.

The Dog Who Wasn't There by Amanta Scott

I told him when he was ready, I'd take him to get a new dog.

I knew he was missing Rusty.

It takes a while to get over the loss of our four footed friends, so, when the Toronto Humane Society announced their Adopt-a-Pet event at the CNE Exhibition grounds, I agreed to go with Jason to see what we might find.

* * *

We arrive at noon and encounter a woman with purple hair and a gorgeous black retriever.

"Oh they're mostly all gone now," she says. "I just adopted this one — but most people here have been camped out here since 5 a.m."

Not exactly cheered we set off to investigate our options . . .

Nothing but cats.

"Are there no dogs at all?" I ask one of the volunteers.

"There's a few left over there." She points to beyond a black curtain.  

We enter into an area littered with wire cages. Walking around we encounter a few small yappy creatures and three or four depressed-looking larger dogs. None of them respond to Jason beyond a few indifferent sniffs of his hand. Row after row of empty cages with notices announcing "I've been Adopted" or "Interview in Progress".

It's not looking good.

In the centre of the room I notice a row wire cages: all of the cages are empty — save one, with a fluffy Pomeranian, snoozing.

That won't work. I know Jason specifically wants a big dog.

* * * 

Walking along the empty row I find myself coming to a stop in front of a cage covered with a blanket.

The profile reads: Shepherd Husky mix, 3 years old; name: Coyote.

"Hey, Jason," I call. "I have a good feeling about this dog."

"Oh yeah?" he says, coming over eagerly.

Straightening up after peering into an empty cage, he eyes me dubiously: "What dog?" he asks. 

"He's not there — but nothing says he's been adopted either . . ." I say.

Jason shrugs.

I turn to a guy in a blue T-shirt. "Do you know anything about that dog?"

"There's no dog in that cage."

"I know that. Where is he? Has he been adopted or what?"

"They may have taken him out for a walk," he offers: mildly amused, largely indifferent.

"Can we go out and meet him?" I ask.

"He'll likely be coming back soon." he says, turning away.

"Since he's already out of the cage and it's the best way to meet a dog, can't we just go find him and meet him there?" I persist.

"I'm just a volunteer here, I dunno, they don't usually let people go out there. But . . ." The guy smiles at me, "I guess it would be okay. . ." 

He directs us to an exit where panting, pulling, agitated dogs are being taken for brief walks by young volunteers. 

* * *

Jason sees him before I do.

"That's likely him over there", pointing. He looks like a wolf.

The dog turns his head at that moment and heads towards us as we approach.

I crouch down to greet him. Immediately the dog rushes over to me and thrusts his nose into my neck, nuzzling. He leans into me.

The connection is immediate.

Laughing, I hug and kiss him. Jason shakes his head, wonderingly. He pats the dog and they too connect. We hang out until the volunteer says she has to take him back.

We are told to arrange an official interview with the dog. As we are doing so, several other people come up expressing interest in the dog. Children are now crowded around his crate. How was it that no one had noticed him before?

Outside in the yard again for their "Interview", Jason and the dog have time to develop some more rapport. Before long it's evident. They belong together.

Back we go into the hall where we learn a bit of the dog's history: he's come from a shelter in Montreal, and before that another shelter. He's somewhat of an escape artist, very smart, and able to open doors. 

After a lengthy chat, Jason and the Humane Society woman seem to agree. "Coyote" and Jason make for a good match. Jason pays the minuscule fee and the three of us set off for home . . .

* * *

The dog is pulling, seemingly elated to be away from the building. As we walk people stop and stare. They tell us he is beautiful. Indeed he is. He really looks like a wolf. Again, I wonder, how is it no one claimed him before Jason and I did?

Once on the bus the dog tucks his rear under Jason's chair, settles between Jason's legs, and gazes contentedly at the passengers. Alert. Intrigued. Content. Women seem particularly taken with the dog. Everyone remarks on his eyes.

* * *

Arriving at the station we are swept up in an urgent wave of people pouring down the subway stairs. 

I notice the dog walking as if he is spooked. His belly low to the ground, paws spread wide. 

"He's spooked" I say.

"Oh he's fine" Jason replies.

"Look at the way he's walking."

I am reminded of when I worked with the Caravan Stage Company on Vancouver Island with a team of Clydesdale horses pulling caravans up a very steep hill. We all had to dismount in order to lighten the load. Even so, the horses almost crawled up the hill, bellies skimming the road. A spooked horse could pull the whole team off course and cause the caravans to jack-knife. 

Jason shrugs off my concern. "He'll be fine." At the bottom of the stairs, Jason and I head off in our different directions, west and east respectively.

Something about the way the dog is walking and pulling leaves me wondering . . .

* * *

Later in the evening I phone to ask how Jason and the dog are managing.

Jason is concerned and frustrated.

"As soon we got to my house I knew something was up." he says. "He wouldn't go near the stairs. He wouldn't go upstairs and there was no way he was going down."

"What are you going to do?" I ask,

"Looks like I'm going to have to spend the night on the floor with him. He absolutely will NOT go downstairs."

"Well, I had a feeling something was up when I saw him going down the subway stairs."

"Mmm"

"You think you actually have to sleep on the floor with him?"

"He cries otherwise."

"Good luck" I say.

* * *

In the morning Jason tells me he managed to sleep on the floor with the dog until about 5 am. At this point the dog apparently got up and started pacing around the house. Jason was at his wits end. Finally, he told me, he gave up, discouraged and went downstairs to his bedroom thinking maybe this wasn't the right dog after all.

"Don't give up yet", I say. "Bring him over here. I may be able to help him with the stairs."

Jason seems doubtful but he's willing to try. He agrees to head over in an hour or so.

* * * 

The phone rings. It's Jason.

"He won't go down the subway stairs. I'll have to walk him to another station that has an elevator."

"Good luck" I say. "See you eventually."

* * *

Finally dog and man arrive. Both fraught, frazzled and exhausted. I invite them into the house and watch the dog race past the stairs — giving them the widest berth possible — straight to the back door. I usher them into the garden where Jason collapses onto the couch and the dog proceeds to bound through the Hosta lilies and Day lilies. So much for my garden.

After a while, once a measure of equilibrium has been reestablished, I open the screen door and invite the dog into the house.

Jason has taken to calling him Cody. "What happened to 'Coyote'", I ask. "Too long." He says.  

Cody and I move around the house. He avoids the stairs. He is positively spooked.

I figure we'd better find out if he likes music or not, since Jason is likely to be here quite a bit helping me out with a construction project and the dog will be with him. 

I sit down at the piano and start to play. The dog comes into the room, paces around briefly, sit in the doorway, listens, then comes over and puts his head into my lap. He has started to relax. After patting his fur my hands feel oily so I decide to go wash my hands.

I walk upstairs.

The dog follows.

Jason and I are stunned. The dog explores around upstairs. 

"I can't believe it." says Jason.

I start walking downstairs. The dog starts whining. Clearly he is afraid to descend.

I get a dog treat and return to sit halfway up on the stairs, hoping to coax him down with food.

Not a chance.

Now we have an extremely anxious animal pacing around the second floor.

"Well, let's see," I say, "it worked the first time, maybe it'll work a second time." 

I return to the piano and start to play.

Moments later down comes the dog. 

I play a bit more and then Jason says "Let's see if he'll go into the basement."

Nothing doing. Not a chance. 

I sit on the floor in the kitchen, leaning against the railings to the basement. Jason sits on the floor across from me. The dog enters the kitchen and eyes the basement railing dubiously. He avoids the stairs.

After a few moments of conversation I, once again, return to the piano.

Again the dog comes into the room, listens, relaxes, puts his nose on my knee, and returns to the doorway to relax and listen.

Once again, I decide to wash my hands. This time in the basement. 

Down I go.

Down comes the dog.

Down comes Jason. 

We sit in the basement chatting while the dog explores the basement.

When I decide to go upstairs, we all go up.

From that moment on — the dog has never shown the slightest fear of stairs.

He's a beautiful creature with a gentle playful disposition and Jason absolutely adores him.

The Birthday Cake by Amanta Scott

Every year since we've been children, my brother and I have baked our Mum a birthday cake. This is a very special cake based on the fact that neither of us are bakers and that we started doing this when we were very small — cooking in the kitchen up at the cottage while my mother lay on the couch in the living room pretending to be asleep.

Key to this cake is a ghastly lemon cake mix which Mum insists tastes great - but we know it's mainly because she so enjoyed the chaos in the kitchen that ensued when the two of us were together in the kitchen. 

One year we put sparklers on the cake - not anticipating the resulting molten lava fusing into the icing.

For her 75th birthday party, I baked the cake and my brother and I iced it — in the basement on top of the washer and dryer, because we didn't want her to see us in the kitchen during the party. We almost lost the cake that time because it kept sliding off the top of the washer.

Anyway, this year I thought I’d try something different, still a mix (since that is non-negotiable) but at least, I thought, maybe I could find something with less chemicals in the mix. I was very pleased to find an organic cake mix. 

My brother looked at it dubiously. "It's vanilla." Dominic objected. "It has to be a lemon cake." 

"We can add lemon," I insisted, "It's organic. It'll taste better." 

"I dunno." he said, shaking his head. "Well . . .  I guess we'll give it a try." 

* * * 

You’d think following directions on a box of cake mix would be a relatively straightforward matter. And it is — if you haven’t Dominic or me following, or rather, interpreting the directions.

While I was preparing the cake pans, Dominic got going on the mix: measuring out a cup of milk, a quarter pound of butter, two eggs, and juicing the lemon.

“I don’t like the smell of this mix, it doesn’t seem lemony enough.” He was saying.

“I’m sure after we add the lemon it’ll be fine” I said turing to look over my shoulder in time to see him pour lemon juice into the milk before adding it all to the mix powder in the bowl.

“Oh, no.” I said. “Not yet, you’ll curdle the milk” 

Too late. That’s precisely what happened. "See?" I said.

“Doesn’t matter” he said blithely, "It all goes to the same place, it won’t make a difference, it all gets mixed together.”

“Ok” I said doubtfully, being neither much of a physics whiz nor a baker.
“He may know better” I thought to myself.

We mixed the ingredients together and it seemed okay but Dominic still objected to the non-lemony smell, so we decided to add lemon zest.

We scraped one of the lemons that he'd juiced but didn't get enough zest, so we peeled another lemon, chopped up the skin and added it to the mix.

Now to find the electric beater.

"We don't need one," he insisted, "we never used one at the cottage."

True enough, we used to have to count strokes beating with a fork for two minutes. But since I happened to have an almost virgin electric beater, why not use it? Once we figured out how to keep the beater blades from falling into the mix and wedged into the machine we were on a roll. 

Soon everything was mixed and we poured it all into the two greased pans, with him holding the bowl while I scraped it clean.

Into the oven it went and the two of us got working on another task - drawing some cards for Mum's birthday.

After a while I thought we should check on the cake. I turned on the oven light. 

"Oh dear." said Dominic. "It looks very odd."

The cake had begun to do some very strange things indeed, becoming exceedingly lumpy — resembling something out of a Dr. Seuss story.

"Well, let's wait and see." I said.

Twenty seven minutes later we tested it, and, as per instructions on the box, found the toothpick clean when poked into the centre — as far as either of us could see with our own deteriorating eyesight.

So I pulled the cake out of the oven and put it on racks to cool while the two of us finished off our other project for a few minutes. 

* * *

Neither of us noticed the cake.

It started to sink . . .

And sink. . .

. . . lower and lower and lower until it had sunk to about 1 cm high — resembling now a solid, unappetizing block rather than a lovely light fluffy delectable cake.

"Oh dear." said Dominic.

"Hmmm." I said.

We looked at each other and back at the cake.

"Shall we try it?" I suggested, brightly. Dominic made a face. "Okay, but just a tiny bit."

This from the man who has tried both cat food and dog food because he figured it couldn't be that bad. He reported it as being the most disgusting thing he'd ever tasted and thereafter he maintained total sympathy for the dog when it refused to eat its dinner.

I shaved off a sliver of cake and we both tried it. It couldn't be that bad.

"Yeeuch."

"Right then, what do we do?"

"I guess we'd better start again."

The time was 10:45 at night. 

"I don't think it was the lemon in the milk that did it." Dominic began, "I didn't like the look of the ingredients on the box, it had guar and locust bean gum in it, what was all that about?" 

"Never mind, we'll get the old chemical mix. A real lemon mix this time." 

Off we went in search of another mix. As we were driving I said: "We could try the local Value Mart - but they never have anything I'm looking for." 

"Let's try it." said Dominic."

We went. They didn't. The section was: chocolate, vanilla, chocolate and chocolate.

Lemon. It HAS to be lemon.

We arrived at Sobeys and found our old staple: Betty Crocker Lemon Cake Mix. I asked a woman working there if she'd ever had an odd experience with a cake mix. She said she wasn't much of a cook but grinned ear to ear when I described adding lemon to the milk.

We bought the mix.

* * *

Take Two:

I greased the pans, measured out the ingredients, poured the dried mix into the bowl and added the milk.

“Would you like me to crack some eggs?” Dominic asked, brightly. We were both extremely tired. No doubt jet-lag kicking in with a vengeance. 

“Sure.” This mix required three eggs.

"Oh and we should preheat the oven.” he said.

“Ok” I said, "give me one of the eggs, I’ve just added the milk and I think it’s time sensitive.”

I reached over for an egg saying “just turn on the oven, would you?” — and I turned my head in time to see a look of horror cross his face as he fumbled the eggs and sent all three crashing to the floor. 

Hilarity ensued as we mopped up the mess.

The cake made it into the oven and came out looking okay but smelling more of coconut than lemon because I’d used coconut oil rather than vegetable oil.

Since the cakes had to cool we decided to leave icing them until the next day.

Now you'd think somewhere along the way at least one of us would have learned something, but apparently not. Not in this family.

The next morning I set about making icing. Mum's recipe book which she'd typed on her ancient Olivetti with the missing apostrophe and wobbly 8, stipulated: 1 cup of icing sugar with 3 tblsps of butter and 3 tblsps of liquid - either milk, water or orange juice.

Well what's the difference between orange juice and lemon juice? They're both citrus.

So I added 3 tblsps of lemon juice. 

And the butter promptly separated.

I mixed like mad. Added more icing sugar. And more. And more.

It looked very strange but since it tasted okay I figured it would do and I'd better start icing the cake.

On I painted and watched with trepidation as the speckled translucent clearly separated icing oozed its way off the cake and onto the plate.

Now, I paint with encaustic, normally — molten beeswax if you don't know the term — so I'm accustomed to watching paint drip and flow, and I've been known to have issues with paint texture, so I wasn't completely fazed and decided to soldier on, regardless.

I mixed up another batch of icing and — just to prove the point or repeat the experiment — I did exactly the same as I'd done the first time.

I was not, therefore, particularly surprised when I achieved exactly the same result. This time however, the "broken" icing was a little thicker and I decided that a few hours in the fridge would harden up the butter and most likely all would be well.

A few hours later Dominic called and said I should decorate the cake without him because he was busy running around doing errands for Mum before her non-birthday party. Somehow all of the friends she's invited were not to know it was her birthday, even though they'd known her since she was fourteen. 

Right. And here we were with the cake to blow the secret sky-high. 

Okay, back to the cake. Decorating. Well I'd gone all out. I'd found some crazy wavy candles that seemed like fun and I'd picked up some marker pens coloured with food colouring so we could actually paint the cake. 

That was the idea anyway.

The markers worked for the first couple of spots and then quickly dried out. The cake began to take on a distinctly kindergarten vibe.  A labour of love by a five year old. Or a somewhat addled painter several decades older struggling not to blame the tools.

Dominic arrived to collect me and the cake. As we were driving I asked if he'd remembered to bring the candles that I'd put beside the cake — as candles wouldn't fit under the cover.

"Nope." 

So we stopped off at another store en route where I picked up some black olives and some candles that would spell out "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" if you arranged them in the right order.

* * *

Dominic smuggled the cake into the basement while I distracted Mum in the kitchen.

I asked what I could do, so Mum asked me to slice and butter the bread for wrapping in foil and toasting in the oven.

"Here let me show you how." she said.

"I think I know how to wrap bread."  I said, thinking: Bread I can handle; cakes not so much.

In due course her guests arrived and the party ensued.

When the time came for us to present the cake, Dominic and I seconded ourselves in the kitchen hurriedly putting the candles on the cake before she realized something was happening.

Candles lit, we entered singing – with a cake cheerfully sporting the message:

HAPPT BIRYHDYA

 

 

The Dog in the Teacup by Amanta Scott

"The last two times she's seen a dog in her teacup!"

"Yeah?"

"I looked and sure enough, there really was a dog in her tea leaves!"

"So . . .  Whaddya think?" I asked.

"Well it was definitely a dog . .  But it had pointy ears and a long nose...  It's not Rusty. It looks more like an Alsatian, not a retriever."

Jason eyed me pensively.

"And last night I had a dream Rusty came to your door in puppy form."

We considered this.

"Are you ready for another dog?" I asked

"Soon." Jason answered.

Soon.

 

 . . . to be continued . . .

Taking the plunge by Amanta Scott

I am about to take the plunge and launch my new website. I gather people have been seeing dribs and drabs of it posted to social media here and there, but this next step involves cutting ties with my old site and jumping.

You might think this a fairly simple matter. It probably is.... but for the past few months as I've laboured away I have been feeling like such a dinosaur. I'm almost reluctant to jump now!

I've been designing this site myself, as one does here — learning new software, a new language, a new way of presenting information. It has been a tremendous learning curve — in more ways than one. . .

At one point in this process I spent an entire day simply trying to figure out how to create tabs and margins.

Seriously. An entire day.

"Go paint, play piano, do something else — you're making yourself crazy" — said my mother.

No. I had to get through this, I thought. The problem wasn't going to go away if I stopped working on it . . . 

Finally, over dinner, and in tears, I sought the advice of my friend who always gives me the straight goods.  

"Do something different" he said, showing me various social media sites on his cell. "Tabs are obsolete."

Finally something hit home.

I tease my friends with an old joke —

A guy hits his finger with a hammer.

"It hurts! he says

He does it again.

"It hurts! he says, again.

This goes on and on until he ends up at the doctor's office.

Doc says "So stop hitting your finger. Then it won't hurt."

I don't know about you, but I think most of us are a lot like that guy. We keep hammering on at things that hurt us until finally we realize that when we stop doing the things that cause us pain, the pain stops too.

So I listened to my friend and I stopped trying to create old fashioned layouts and embraced this new model. I don't know what you'll feel about it, but it's been quite an adventure. I hope you like where my new site takes you.