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So is my German, for that matter.

(As an aside, I actually do read and speak some German, the former more than the latter. French, too, quite fluently, when in practice. I’ve studied varying amounts of Latin, Hebrew, Russian as well as a smidgen of Greek, so I can generally pick out most Romance languages reasonably well and can do essential things like buy a loaf of bread, ask your name, tell you I love you and inquire as to the train schedule in a goodly number of European countries. I’ve never visited any of them, but if I were there, I could identify a red car, buy the last piece of cake and a beer, tell the police that I was a Canadian and find the bathroom. I could even admire the view and find out what a hotel room would cost. What more could you want, really?)

I’m digressing again, though.

I was looking at my web stats, as I’m prone to doing overly-regularly, and noticed a few visitors from Germany (hi Ulla! Ich habe seinen blog gelesen! Wie sagt mann “Blog” im Deutsch?), Brazil (Cecilia, I’m not even going to attempt to write in Portuguese) and Egater, from Estonia. As I was perusing Egater’s blog, I came across a picture that interested me of a Craft and Artisan fair in her area (look under “Muud asjad” on the left side of the page). Following the photo link took my to her Picasa album of the St Martin’s Day Fair (St. Martin’s Day is November 11th) and I spent far too much time marvelling at the talents and creations of this amazing group of people. Their use of colours and graduations therein are so very different from ours here in on the east coast of North America, but at the same time there is a huge overlap in materials and certain patterns. Undoubtedly the similarities in climates and transatlantic trade through the ages has affected both what we use and how we use it. Lots of woolen and wooden items abound in the St. Martin’s Fair, the vast majority of which are made with great skill and by hand. I was seriously impressed.

As I said before, my Estonian is pretty much nil, so I was floundering around trying to find out where in Estonia Egater lived when I bumped into a link to her Technorati profile. Turns out she lives in Hiiumaa. Looking up Hiiumaa, I found a bitsy island in the Baltic sea. It’s just under 1000 square kilometers and looks like a very neat place. I followed the link to the official site and poked around there for a bit. In fact, I had a rollicking good time revisiting the concept of things being distorted in translation. In this case, the old phrase “lost in translation” doesn’t apply, as I think the very idiosyncratic writing of the pages tell us more than a proper translation would. Take the following paragraph, for instance, from the “How to Come?” page

Saaremaa Shipping Company takes passengers onto Rohuküla- Heltermaa, Rohuküla- Sviby and Triigi- Sõru by comfortable ferries Scania and Ofelia with shops, bars and restaurants and other places on board that 1,5 hour trip to go smoothly and quickly. You can choose between the shop, bistro and bar. For little passengers we have nice playing- corners and adults may play with fruit machines.

It took me a second to realise that the “fruit machines” were “slot machines” and not some sort of vending machine packed with apples. Are they written literally as “fruit machines” in Estonian? Very cool.

Then there was the culturally enlightening section on “ice roads”. There are ice roads in Canada, up north, so the concept of driving across a lake is not entirely foreign to me (terrifying, but not foreign) and Newfoundlanders have crossed ice for centuries, both on oceans and ponds, but the vivid way in which going across a portion of ocean was described (for tourists, even!) made truly me want to visit Hiiumaa:

During winter time one experience an unforgettable driving by ice road the existence of which depends on how severe the cold is outside and not of the good will.

An ice road is a different one for you can pass the ferries and you have to drive at quite a high speed with your safety belts open. The speed is reduced only while approuching the cracks that one have to cross over the boards fixed on the cracks. It takes approximately 20 minutes to cover the distance in case of favourable conditions.

At least the Hiiumaa inhabitants hope that such kind of traffik will not be remain only in the memories of our fathers-mothers and grandfathers-grandmothers.

When the ice was thin the rope was tide to the tail and running noose around the neck of a horse. The horse that sank through the ice waited patiently to be helped. Usually the running noose was tightened around the neck and while gasping for breath the animal took a deep breath and was said to become lighter in the water. With mutual efforts the horse was often pulled out of water. In case of favourable conditions the trip from Heltermaa to Rohuküla took around two hours.

John and I have always toalked about visiting Scandinavia and were enthusiastic about the possibility of seeing Iceland, but I think Hiiumaa is now near the top of the list. It looks like a very cool place (both climatically and culturally) and I would love to visit that St. Martin’s Day Fair (really, the photos are worth a look. Use the slideshow feature so that they’re big enough to see properly). I think I’ll take the ferry, though. A body can only take so much excitement.

As an aside, the horse incident was incredibly reminiscent of similar Newfoundland stories immortalised in the song Tickle Cove Pond. Funny how cultures in similar latitudes coincide….

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I believe that, technically, one isn’t supposed to respond to things labelled “rhetorical”, at least, not in polite company. Ryan has, however, asked some interesting questions and I feel, if not honour-bound to answer, then at least sufficiently interested to examine, them.
Let’s break it down.

Why do you do it? Why do you do what you do? I don’t mean things like going to work, washing laundry, or eating. I mean the things you do that aren’t necessities. Why do you create? Why do you paint, draw, photograph, write, or journal? Is it a hobby? Is it a passion? Or is it just a job? Or because it makes you seem more interesting to others? Or because everyone else is doing it?

It’s because I can’t stop doing it. Interesting to others? Not my chief motivation. In fact, I have found the label “artist” can often be seen to be synonymous with “social parasite” in many circles. People act interested while thinking, “yeah, she does that to keep her busy while her husband earns all the real money.” It’s a vocation. I could have been a lot of things, but I chose (and keep choosing, despite hardship and frustration) this. I must feel that I have something to give to it….

 

While I’m asking, why do you choose the tools you use? Do you only use that brand of paint because of someone’s review or because you love the colour range? Do you use that camera because it’s what “all” the other photographers use or because you are happy with it’s ability to capture what you see? Did you buy that journal or sketchbook because of the brand or because the paper welcomes your medium of choice? Do you use the word-processing software with all the bells and whistles, or one that does just what you need?

I work in textiles because I like making art that not only appears three-dimensional, but is sculpted in relief. I also like the tactile nature of my media and its ease of manipulation. Plus the environmental hazards and mess aren’t as bad as for, say stone carving.

 

Bells and whistles? My paints are good paints, but not because they’re trendy, just because they work. I have a workhorse of a sewing machine (Bernina Activa 130) that will do what I tell it to all day without complaint. It won’t do anything fancy or create My camera was researched to suit my particular needs and what I photograph does actually reflect what my inner eye sees, more or less. I’ve learned to use it to do so (underexpose many things by one shutter notch does the trick for me).

 

And since I’ve already asked way too many questions, is your use of those tools unique to you in any way? Do you craft your characters like every other novelist? Do you draw the same things that others are drawing? Do you stand next to other photographers to take a picture from the same angle?

 

I try for uniqueness. It’s one of the reasons that I tend to create solitarily and not clutter my mind up with what everyone else is doing. I suspect that many basic techniques are used by everyone, whatever the craft, but I rejoice in finding new ways to achieve effects, combine techniques and render imagery. The only time I take the same picture as someone else is when I want a copy of what they see. Most times, I’m off in another direction.

 

I’m all for people creating, whether they have “talent” or not, but shouldn’t motivation be a factor? And shouldn’t the choice of tools play a role? Do you use what everyone else uses, or what works for you? Do you create what you see and imagine, or only what others produce? Is there any of you in what you do? And does it give something back to you?

 

Do most people lie awake at night and imagine linear tension and visualise colours layering? I suspect not. Normal people aren’t kept awake by problems of achieving dimensionality through the use of layered sheer fabrics (that was last night’s mental tangle). Folks who are artists can’t stop looking at the world differently and attempting to see it in their medium.

 

Did someone push one of our buttons today, Ryan?

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