Sunday, February 05, 2006

Lucky, Lucky. You're So Lucky.

I bumped into Ms. Wendt yesterday. Ms. Wendt was my grade 11 photography teacher. I probably hadn’t spoken to her since then, making it a nice round 10 years. Jesus.

Ms. Wendt was such a unique teacher. She was a good teacher, but somehow she was too kind and enlightened for the monotony of public school. She seemed to have been better suited to wandering a beach on the Costa Brava of Spain, contemplating life and sipping green tea. She has fair skin and curly shoulder-length blonde hair that was mostly in ringlets with comparatively little frizz. (She seems like more of an Earth Mother type than someone who would spend a lot of time worrying about frizz, so her curls are probably just very good luck.)

I loved that photography class. It served me well, too. I learned and retained a lot.

Photography is this fantastic marriage of science and art. The photographer aims the viewfinder at the desired subject, light is bounced off that subject flips through a lens into the guts of the camera, reacting with chemicals on the film. When that film is washed with more chemicals, the areas that were struck with light washes away, leaving a negative miniature image. That treated film, when dried, is loaded into a projector that pushes light through the clear areas on the film onto a light-sensitive paper. That positive image flashes on the paper for a few seconds, and then the paper is washed with more chemicals (which develop the areas on the paper where light struck), then rinsed in water, and then dried. Ter-daa! A photograph, easy as that! Both elements of science and composition have to be spot on, or the product won’t be quite right. Ahh… a sensitive geek’s dream.

Ms. Wendt, or Liza, as I remembered was her name, asked me what I was doing with my life and I was forced for describe in extreme condensed form 10 years of my life. It sounded like this: “I ain’t got no job.” I told her I’m considering going back to college to learn something practical. She asked what, specifically, and I told her that I’m very interested in alternative and ecologically-sound building methods, like strawbale, and earthships.

I’ve been thinking about studying the design of homes built out of ecologically sound materials. I believe that there will be a huge demand for alternative building methods in the future. Conventional materials and construction cannot sustain a cost-effective energy lifestyle, and the dent they leave on the environment is unconscionable. I also believe that the demand in the Maritimes will mushroom as people seek ways to lower extortionate energy costs.

When I mentioned these interests of mine, she immediately lit up. Apparently her partner, Kevin, worked in St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick, last summer building a strawbale shed for a lady, and was thinking of constructing one this summer for himself.

She said he knew a lot of people in the Maritimes that knew about strawbale construction, and invited me to give them a call this week to see if he could help me out.

“Holy crap!” says me. Paulo Coelho was right! Maybe the universe is conspiring in my favour! This could be a very useful happenstance. I need to know what I need to study to design homes. Architecture? Drafting? Alchemy? Feng Shui? Can I do the designs and then hand them over to math people or do I have to exhume my math skills that have been buried for years?

Wish me luck.


Holly said...

Lucky, sure, but I'm sure people want to help you because you're a sweet-heart and a good student. If you'd been a dick, she wouldn't want to help you.

So don't chalk all the kudos up to luck. Keep some for yourself.

And alchemy, definitely. Study alchemy... Like turning Smurfs into gold.

Anonymous said...

I can't leave my name (just in case somehow Kevin or Lisa read this), but I promise you know me.

I just want to make sure you know that Kevin is pretty flaky and untrustworthy. He is unreliable and unprofessional. That said, I like him and Lisa very much personally, and they are terrific and fun people to spend an evening with. I guess what I am saying is you should take any information received from Kevin with a grain of salt. He has a lot of big plans, but they are rarely realistic.

(Next time I see you, I'll tell you who I am! Sorry to be so cryptic!)

Catherine said...

Hello, shadowy stranger. Just FYI, I was counceled to and also considered deleting your comment. Yes, it is a bit of a buzz kill, even though you apologise for that, but it's not for that reason. You know that quirky way that any respectable newspaper will not publish anonymous letters to the editor? It's for that reason.

The good news is, shadowy stranger, that I'm not planning to do any projects with this Kevin guy, nor do his plans have anything to do with why I'm excited. I'm excited because he knows the state of the strawbale scene on the East Coast and I've been finding a real dearth of information on that subject. He might be able to connect me with people who can help lead my future studies.

I guess I'll make this PSA, then. Be careful with anonymous comments in the future, my dear readers. Oh, and I forgot - shadowy stranger, you can call or email me. If you know me well enough to write anonymous warnings in my blogspace, surely you know my contact information.

Catherine said...

Oh, and Holly, you're always so lovely and encouraging, but for some reason today, I appreciate it all the more!


Perhaps you're right, though - Ms. Wendt remembered me and told me I was one of the "good ones," that made it worthwhile to be a teacher. It's so funny to hear. Nice, but funny. It always amazes me when previous teachers/professors remember me.

Rosey said...

Ms. Wendt was my Art teacher when I was in Grade 11 and I remember her really fondly. My Grade 10 teacher was newly graduated and could barely keep the class under control, and my Grade 12 teacher was Ms. Wendt's ex-husband and turned everything into a competition with her, but Grade 11 was fantastic. We learned practical skills and Art history. We had slide tests and sketch book assignments every week. We went to the Confed Centre Art Gallery every two weeks and had to hand in written responses to what we saw. Everyone complained that she was too hard -- "Art isn't supposed to be this difficult." It's true -- it was hard, but I've never improved at something so fast. In her class I completed art projects I never knew I could be capable of creating. The piece de resistance was the oil painting I gave my parents for Christmas that year. They still have it hanging in their bedroom. She was an awesome teacher.

Catherine said...

Thanks, Ro. I missed out on her for art, but I loved that photography class. It's a skill I've used a lot, and although I wouldn't want to do it professionally, it's a great hobby.