One Hundred Bells

My dear friend and colleague Jessica Viola of Viola Gardens published her book entitled ‘One Hundred Bells’ this month. The final product is a hardcover coffee table book full of gorgeous illustrations by Carly Jo Carson, luscious photos of Jessica’s work by myself and Suzanne Strong, and of course Jessica’s inspiring, educational story. Viola writes about her life’s journey into becoming a steward of the earth, a business owner, a mother and how her growth and lessons have been mirrored and taught by the way her gardens grow. The book follows this metaphor of life as a garden throughout, leading to wonderful revelations that ground the reader deep into their roots. By taking the elements of permaculture and teaching us how they can be applied not only to our gardens but to our entire lives as we evolve and grow, Viola reveals a splendid ideal lifestyle to strive for that is inherently in tune with nature. The book is now available HERE. Do your soul a favour and order your copy now. xo

“It’s befriending the bloody heart that lives in all of us and that inhabits this at-times stony culture. It means shining a light on what breaks us down in the dark of night, and still choosing to rise. To be ultimately committed to what you love – to Love in itself – as a way of life. Choosing love over fear. Choosing authenticity, choosing self acceptance, choosing forgiveness, choosing to live on the growing edge of who you are and all that is possible in who you are as a way of giving back, as a simple way of recognizing the divine in you and the divine in others.”

from ‘One Hundred Bells’ by Jessica Viola

Goddess Remix Project

Bia Remix by TooleXFathom
Pheme by TooleXFathom

We were bound to get up to some kind of collab this Summer what with all this time on our hands as we sat back and waited for the world to open up again. My fiancée is a very talented aerosol artist / graffiti king who writes ‘FATHOM’ all over the world, but especially all over Toronto. He was contacted by a woman over Instagram who was admiring his work on a walk in Roncey with her kids. She wanted a custom piece. One thing led to another and we all settled on a massive Fathom canvas with a Nike, Goddess of Victory ink transfer on top. The commission got our creative juices flowing. Soon canvas prints of Goddesses Bia and Pheme were glowing with Fathom’s touches of paint. The results delight me and I hope you too. They are all one of a kind. Should we do more? xo

Nike Remix by TooleXFathom

Cordova Lake 06/20

It was a glorious return to the cottage after 100 days of quarantine in the hot, noisy city. A dragonfly blessed Tasha’s boobs (obviously) and Kaiyah convinced Ocean to jump off the dock for her first time! Of course, it was impossible to stop her after she got over her fear. This lake heals the soul. xo

One Plant Kensington

Sonia for One Plant Kensington

Weed shops have been deemed an essential service, thank God, and remain open for business. That being said business is growing! The new One Plant Kensington had me out to shoot some product and promo for their brand new store. Here is a little tease of the campaign to come. xo

Fine Art Photography Award Nomination

4th_fapa_nomineeFAPA_4th_Edition_Certificate

I am honored to share this nomination for The Goddess Array photography series for the Fine Art Photography Award in the Professional Nudes category. The Fine Art Photography Awards are issued out of their London headquarters. Here is a bit more about the institution in their own words:

Fine Art Photography Awards is one of the largest award giving bodies for a community of artists ushering an era of new trends in the world of photography. Created in 2014, this competition is a melting pot for people where passion, interest, sense of beauty and openness to diversity in photography collide in intergalactic proportions. At Fine Art Photography, we seek to find artists and unique souls who breathe and live for creativity—where we provide a platform of promotion and support in their pursuit of self-realization and development.

Since the beginning of the competition, our jurors have thoroughly reviewed and evaluated hundreds of photographs from dozens of different categories. Owing to the phenomenal trust coming from participants all over the world, within just a span of few short years, we have catapulted to a pedestal alongside the most important and highly prestigious artistic photography contests of this era.

9/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Nassau, Mar. 5

We got a call from our pal Delroy the next morning inviting us out for a night on the town. He would pick us up at 8PM. With our evening to look forward to we set out on the jitney for another island adventure.

Love Beach is tucked away down a secret staircase off of Compass Point resort. Because of its hidden entrance it is often empty. An entire stretch of pristine white sand and turquoise ocean all to ourselves. We felt safe and free. We stretched our muscles in the sun, floating around, feeling the divine weightlessness that comes with salt water submersion. I was so full of gratitude for the friendship of these two incredible women. This trip is just the most recent chapter in the evolution of us. It is the scariest chapter, but not the craziest. I look forward to reminiscing about all of it when we are old and grey. Hopefully, our love for each other will only have grown. Long friendships are rare and so special. There is no one else in the world I would rather have had a near death experience with. For all the shock and terror, we handled ourselves calmly and efficiently and managed to come out the otherside unscathed but for a bit of residual PTSD. Connie and Jenny, my ride or die babes for life.

Back at the house Delroy and his friend arrived right on time. They drove us over to Lyford Cay, the very wealthy, very private end of the island that Prince Andrew, Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey and Robert DeNiro have all enjoyed. The gated community on steroids was in the news just before we arrived because Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard was just busted for using his oceanview mansion there to run a sex traffiking ring. We pulled up the long dirt road to Philosopher’s Smokehouse, an outdoor party complex with twinkly lights, picnic tables, a cute DJ, and what smelled like delicious BBQ. Under the sweetest protection of our generous friends we wiled the night away dancing until we dropped. I made a gorgeous new friend who looked like a Bahamian Queen. Her name was Cornelia and she had been Nygard’s personal assistant until the week prior. I was dying to hear stories, but we parted ways with promises to get in touch for a brunch that never happened. Connie, Jenny and I stumbled back into the house for a nightcap on the upstairs patio. Everything was alright.

5/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Toronto, Feb. 28

Jake and I hopped a train from Paris back to Brussels where I said, “Goodbye.” It was an epic sibling Eurotrip and I was sad to go. Jake’s contract at the wind farm had him there until August so we made plans to meet up back on Canadian soil at my wedding on Vancouver Island planned for August 8th. Exciting times!

I set out to the Brussels airport at 4AM. There was a wet, heavy snow falling beautifully in the lamplight. Jake said that’s the first and only time he saw it snow there. At the airport I got chatting with a South African gentleman who said he was an epidemiologist. His work seemed very focused on Malaria, despite my urgings to shift the topic to the Corona Virus. He was en route to a conference in Russia where he was hoping to get more information about it. He didn’t seem alarmed in the slightest. It was only when I reached customs in Toronto on Feb. 26th that there was warning of the virus. All the staff at YYZ were wearing masks and gloves and inquired if I had been in Wuhan in the last 14 days.

Back home, I was welcomed by a very sick fiancee. He had a high fever that broke my second evening home. I figured it was a bad flu and was happy he appeared to be getting better fast. Maybe he had Corona? Maybe not. We were not able to get tested either way and he recovered back to perfect health. We were very lucky.

I did my pile of laundry and packed my bags again, this time for my bachelorette party which was happening in Nassau, Bahamas a few days later. The news about the virus in China was alarming, and there were a few more cases in Italy, but still nothing too out of the ordinary. I figured I was fine to take off. And off I went…

3/10 Covid -19 Travel Diary: Prague, Feb. 23

Bidding a sweet adieu to Budapest, a land of wonderful parties, spas, food and vintage Korean clothing, Jake and I embarked upon our next stop; an overnight in Prague. We were to arrive around 11PM and had a dinner reservation at a neat-looking restaurant in an old clock tower for 11:30PM, a 20 minute walk from our $30/night Air Bnb. That was the plan anyway…

We were flying Czech Airlines for the first time. Again, we breezed through security and customs without a hitch. No one was wearing masks or gloves or taking any precautions yet regarding Covid-19. When we reached our gate, Jake took a peek at the plane we were about to take. It was a smaller propeller plane built by Bombardier. Jake mentioned he had worked on the design for this particular model at his stint as an intern at Bombardier last year. In his words, “I hope it doesn’t fall out of the sky.” And with that promising warning, we hopped aboard, sanitizing everything in our sight, of course.

The hour-long flight was peaceful up until our approach to landing. There was a torrential storm hovering over Prague. Out the window all we could see was horizontal precipitation in the flashes of light caused intermittently by the plane’s caution lights and the actual lightning bolts touching down all around us. The little plane felt like it was being tossed around by a bored giant and many people around us emptied their dinners into the lovingly provided barf bags onboard. Then the news came that we were unable to land for 45 minutes due to the weather. So we proceeded to circle in this storm for the next hour as our anxiety levels soared right up to our current altitude. I said to Jake, “If this is it for us, I just want you to know I love you, man.” And Jake said, “You know, it’s not such a bad way to go. We’ll be worldwide! The two Canadians who perished on the crashed Czech Airlines flight. We’ll be infamous!” It was a moment completely out of our control, so we relinquished ourselves to the machine. Finally, we were cleared for landing, which was rocky, but we survived.

Back on solid ground with our nerves totally shot, we set out about getting to our AirBnb. We missed the public bus, and splurged on an Uber. The keys for the AirBnb were at a sketchy shawarma spot down the street. We got the keys, dropped our bags, and hurried over to the bell tower restaurant to try and rescue the evening. If the walk there told us anything, it’s that Prague is haunted. The streets were deserted. It was a great scene for a murder. The looming clock tower could have housed Frankenstein back in the day. The troll woman who manned the lift up the tower refused to let us in, saying the restaurant was closed despite the numerous signs around posting the closing time as midnight, which was still a half hour away. Turned down and discouraged, we headed back to the shawarma spot and proceeded to get drunk on cheap beers and lebanese food. A slew of very drunk English tourists kept the joker guys behind the counter busy and entertained as they fed them and charged them way more then was fair. I went to order another dish and they said because I was Canadian I wouldn’t mind paying more than the fair price and charged my card without asking. What had been funny until that point then turned gross as we realized the racket these guys were onto every night. I plead karma and one of the cooks said he had twelve children, so fuck karma. Point taken. We retreated back to our AirBnb and got in a couple hours of sleep before our early flight to sweet Paris…

 

2/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Budapest, Feb. 22

The flight from Brussels to Budapest was as smooth as a Corona-infested stainless steel countertop. We checked in online and sailed through security and customs. No one even checked our passports. No one was thinking about Covid-19. Life was still normal.

A friend said to me yesterday, “We lived in the time of large gatherings.”

Our first stop in Budapest was the Szechenyi Spa & Baths, the largest spa in Europe. Imagine Versailles, but switch the gardens for hot spring pools. We proceeded to sweat and cold dunk on repeat with trips to the outdoor pools in the interims for heavy waterfall massage pouring out of ancient fountainheads. Groups of excited people were celebrating their bachelor(ette) parties there as the bar was selling mulled wine and the shining sun kept everyone’s spirits bright. That evening there was to be a Sparty, the infamous spa party, but Jake and I decided as neat an idea as that was it could become a literal cesspool of germs. We decided to go dancing instead.

We stumbled into Akvárium Klub where Rebekah was spinning and proceeded to dance for hours to her high-energy, driving, mechanical beats. The club was wall-to-wall packed. The crowd was swept up into a trance and time was suspended as our feet left the ground. 

We escaped both large gatherings unscathed and Corona-free thankfully. Looking back, I wonder when we will be able to hit the spa and party again. I am feeling a little less free than just a week ago. Our next stop is Prague…