Thursday, April 29, 2010

Week 7: Order/Chaos

Order (Sarah: left)

First a little bit of background on this project. Mary and I chose 52 opposites and then flipped a coin to see who got what. There was no picking and choosing here. So, I find it both funny and appropriate that I got order and Mary, chaos, this week. Anyone who knows us would think it would be easier (and more fitting) the other way around. But that's the point, isn't it? To be challenged.

So the world is full of signs, arrows pointing us this way and that, telling us that some things are slippery when wet, and (d'uh!) watch out - your hot coffee just might be, you guessed it - HOT! And if we didn't have these signs and warnings all hell would break loose and people would walk around with bubbling tongues and their genitals stuck in toilet seats. (That happened, right?)

Order my friends, ORDER.

My life has always been a little chaotic, and in some ways I like it. These days though, it's a constant battle to achieve order. As a teacher, a mother, a keeper of house and a payer of bills (dare I say, adult? :)) it's something like essential to find a balance between walking a tightrope on your elbows and tip-toeing across freshly waxed floors.

In a life of do's and don'ts, straight ways and forks in the road, big choices and small ones, order and chaos, just how do you achieve your balance?

Chaos (Mary: right)

There’s always a battle between chaos and order.

Chaos: a chasm or abyss.

Every year in northern Laos farmers who dwell in small bamboo villages in the mountains, burn down huge expanses of pristine jungle to clear land for agricultural purposes. The recent illegalization of this practice has not stopped it, and unfortunately, the fires started cannot always be controlled. During the months of March and April the air becomes thick with ash, the sky a constant haze. Flames can be seen in the distant mountains reducing some of the world’s oldest jungles to empty land.

Villagers farm this way in order to support themselves. Modern and sustainable farming techniques, equipment and knowledge have not made their way to these people in this part of the world.

Our 2-day trek through the mountains this week really struck me. I was shocked at just how much damage was being done. Huge mountains, beautifully vibrant, lush green and alive, stood next to those turned into vast, lifeless expanses of burnt tree stumps and blackened soil.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Watch this space...

Just a little note to tell you that you will get a double whammy of Perspective Project this coming week - our technical support (Mary) is in some far off pocket of the earth with no internet access! (IMAGINE??) So, watch this space!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Week 6: Young/Old

Young (left: Sarah)

Youth is a treasure - one that people are forever holding onto, and when lost, forever seeking out.

To be young is to discover, to be curious and full of fascination. It is to marvel at the way things work and to question the how and the why.

It is to lay foundations with mud and sand, to throw wishes into wells, and to cast hopes and dreams on the stars.

Youth is both tender and resilient.

Youth is sometimes stolen though, events can creep in that change yellow brick roads into twisted paths and uphill climbs.

Youth isn't always what it should be...

When I watch my son gazing out the window he is full of youth, shining with all that is new. He is open, receptive and ready to take on the world. I have so many hopes and dreams of my own for him, and one is that he holds on to his childish wonder for as long as humanly possible.

We are human after all, and there comes a point in everyone's life where youth changes into something else, when we go from building sand castles and imagining up playmates to dealing with real relationships and picking up the pieces.

What words do you associate with being young? How do you hold onto your youth? What makes you feel young? Do tell!

Old (right: Mary)

It’s quite remarkable how language transcends speech. How one can tell what someone is feeling without them having said a single word. It’s the simple smile or gesture of a person that can alter your mood. In these instances we see a common language isn’t always necessary.

I have become quite fascinated with the buildings and sights I see, the language of the people, and the nuances of culture I encounter as we travel. But, I’ve found that it’s the oldest sights that seem to leave the biggest impression on me. They are the things that spark that wonderful feeling of contentment.

It’s the mystery of ancient ruins, of once-upon-a-time empires, the crumbling buildings of past colonial rulers that strike me just so. Above all else though, the wrinkles on a face well-worn, the laugh lines of a person who has and continues to live their life with joy are really what stand out to me, when I think of the word ‘old’.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Week 5: Awful/Awesome

Awful (left: Mary)

My friend, Myles often made me ponder the words awesome and awful. Shouldn’t awful be about something that is full of awe and awesome be descriptive of something that has less? Yes, it totally should and as much as I wanted to use Myles’ version of the word awful this week, I thought I’d stick to the awful that we're all familiar with. You know, the one that represents the atrocious, the exceptionally bad or unpleasant, the one where the very idea of doing something, like let’s say getting onto a packed bus or minivan, fills you with worry and perhaps even rage. Yep, that’s the one I’m taking about!

Ben and I have had our fair share of awful bus rides thus far on the trip. Let’s take today as a case in point. Twelve people crammed into a minivan, most stinking of very different, very potent and sometimes disgusting body odours. The three old French guys in the back moaned “ewwwwwwahhhh” or “oweeeeeeee” when we hit a pot hole and their fragile heads either smashed off the roof or window and their hips slipped in and out of joint.

Then you’ve got the man beside me (who had ‘burger pits’ as Ben would say) who kept falling asleep and letting his sweaty leg go limp against mine forcing me to contort myself into the most uncomfortable positions, alas, in vain, since I was unable to escape his slimy limb (the van was THAT tiny). There was no escaping. Add to this the dude upfront who was puking. Yeah, really. He sprayed the outside of the car and painted the window with his orangey bile while winding along the mountain road. It also splashed back on his shirt and face. It was awesome, I mean awful.

The temperature outside was approximately 35 degrees, the air con in our van did not work because we were driving along windy mountain roads and it would have sucked up too much power, so it was hot, really f*&^ing hot. And we can't forget the driver, back and forth, up and down, throttle, break, horn, throttle break horn.

All of this makes for a wicked headache, a lump of something in your throat and a stomach that is full of knots and pains (and puke, but it just hasn’t made its way up yet). So yeah, I guess you could say that minivan ride today was awful, not so great, not particularly fun….in any way, shape, or form.

Do you have any awful stories you'd like to share?

Awesome (right: Sarah)

Okay, so, three things come to mind when I hear the word awesome:

1. The fact that I squeezed a child out of my nether region.

2. My favourite high school teacher Dr. Porter, who could easily be sent into a fit of rage with what he deemed, and I quote, "ABUSE OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE!!!!!"


Student one: "Dude, can I borrow your pencil?"

Student two: "Ya, sure!"

Student one: "AWESOME! Thanks!"

How can a word as big as AWESOME be used for something as trivial as borrowing a pencil? I get his point.

3. And, I think the last time I was totally blown away by something I saw was the Planet Earth series. If you haven't seen it, YOU SHOULD! What a wild and wondrous place we live... the way the world keeps spinning, seasons continue to change, gravity gravitizes, birds spit nests into existence. It boggles my mind.

Anyway, here I sit soaking in the tender beginnings of spring, my favourite season. Flowers are blooming and the air all a buzz with awakenings. What could be more awesome than life - the way it begins and the way it evolves - the places we explore, and the things we discover???

When was the last time you thought, "this is awesome!" ?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Week 4: Orange/Blue

On the 4th week of each month, you can expect a set of pictures from both of us where we both post a set of opposing pictures. So, it's the last week of the month and here are both of our sets...

(Orange/Blue: Sarah)

I'm an art student, so when I hear the words orange and blue I can't help but conjure up the image of a colour wheel and spin it around my head a couple of times... primary colours, secondary colours, complimentary colours, oh my! Orange and blue are in fact my favourite complimentary pairing. But, then when I start thinking about things that are complimentary I can't help but think about food and, well, I love food. So, what foods compliment each other well? pickles and cheese? wine and cheese? popcorn and cheese? ... (Yes, I love cheese). Umm, chocolate and almonds, salmon and lemon, toast with marmite, tea and cookies?

How about you, what's your bread and butter?

These images were taken and two very different restaurants, serving equally delicious food.

(Orange/Blue: Mary)

The unexpected things that manifest in life, are what seem to lead to some of the greatest pictures, moments, and experiences, aren’t they? Often and especially with this project, I have an idea and having this idea leads me to look for certain things and steers my attention in a particular direction. This path, rather annoyingly, doesn’t usually lead me to a completed project. So from here on in, I’m trying a new approach. I’m going to just let things happen.

The opportunities in which I snapped these pics revealed themselves unexpectedly. The first is an 83-year old monk who decided to come and chat with Ben and me while we waited for a bus. He relayed details of his life and chatted rather enthusiastically about all sorts of things. It was a nice chat before we boarded a not so nice bus. The second is a picture of where we are currently stationed, Mut Mee’s Guesthouse, Nong Khai, Northern Thailand on the banks of the Mekong River. Quite the lovely retreat for some R&R.

Do you live for the unexpected?

About the Project

As a way to stay connected through our travels and beyond, A Perspective Project was initiated by the desire to master our cameras, and to be creative and more observant of the world around us.


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