beginnings and endings

Life is Compost; Death is Compost. Everything is Alive and Nothing Lasts.

These photographs were all taken this past winter during the two months I was living full time with my mom Shelley as she was dying of sinus cancer.  
I was her primary caregiver and was with her when she died by the hands of the MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying) nurses. I held her in my arms as she passed, and spent three days with her corpse before she was cremated. Time bends and slows down around death; and preparing for it (especially when helping your own mother choose the exact date and time of her death) is a very slowed, tedious and fast paced series of peak experiences.  We were in Roberts Creek living on the waterfront, and I often took moments to myself down on the beach to photograph the frost on the logs and seaweed in the early morning light. I photographed the mould growing in my brother’s fridge as i helped him move back into his place after our mom died. I heave cried alone on the beach often and watched the sea foam quiver in the cold breeze. I was drawn to the tiniest, prettiest fungus growing from the decay on the forest trails nearly.  Before corpses begin to decay, the rigor mortis is really fascinating, and relaxing to be with. Shelley’s body was warm for a long time after she died, then it slowly became cool…over several hours her arms became firm branches…over days the muscles became hard; flesh turned elemental and her whole body became strong and cool and reassuring like an ancient beach rock. Humans are part of nature and the end is not a finality at all.




“slugscan”, quick ink sketch from live slug, jessica gabriel, 2004.


THE SLUG LIBERATION ACT : : : by Gerry Gilbert

1. Slugs are People.

2. The twinge of disgust which a Human can feel at finding
a living Slug in the Salad will from now on be known as a
sign of Good Luck (for you & the Slug & the Salad) and the
cook is to be immediately congratulated.

3. When a dead Slug, or any part thereof, is discovered in
the Food, the Human involved in the discovery shall, at the
earliest convenient time and in a suitably damp place, do
something slow and pleasant in memory of the deceased.

4. Whenever any Slug, in the course of his duty, is acci-
dentally wiped out, the nearest Person capable of speech
shall say, “Goo-by.”

5. Whenever a Slug is intentionally or carelessly or in sport
wounded, tormented, or killed by Anyone (unless it be
done in order to eat it or to eat what it was eating) that
Person is to be considered as having inherited the contempt
normally reserved by big Animals for slimy squishy little

6. Whenever an edible Slug is used as food by a Human,
that Person shall endeavour to imagine that his own eyes are
projected on slender stalks far away into the future.

7. Whenever a Gardener kills Slugs in order to protect the
plants in his charge, that Gardener shall do so personally
with his or her hand, foot or other sensitive instrument —
and not with salt or poisons or beer or piss — and that
Gardener shall be permitted to kill Slugs only after patient
persuasion, prayer, the posting of notices, the taking of
hostages, offers of re-settlement, and the topic of conver-
sation have failed. Such gardeners are also required to boast
about how many Slugs they had to re-cycle.

8. Slugs shall be given right-of-way on all thoroughfares;
properly marked Slug Crossings shall be established and
maintained in perpetual wetness at regular intervals on all

9. Any Slug shall be a reminder for all Persons of the
elegant process of Life on this Earth; the absence of Slugs
from any Place shall be considered a sign of Danger for all
forms of Life there.

10. All kinds of Slugs — including blows, fake coins, spaces
between words, indications that time is up, migrating Spore
blossoms, sluggishness, Nancy’s buddy, cocks, Escargots,
turds, bullets, drinkings at a gulp, baseball bats, sleepers, as
well as Pulmonate Gastropods — shall have the following
sign in common, and that sign shall be added to all alphabets :

slug signature