Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Moments of Joy and Sadness

This is the first drawing done entirely on my new computer!

It is entitled "Crazy Flowers". I decided to do something rather wild and crazy in honour of having purchased a new, and very fancy, computer.

The drawing was actually inspired by some clip art that I discovered in the new software I loaded when I first got the computer -- before I had picked up any of my own picture files for loading. This painting makes me feel very joyful.

By the way, all is not going smoothly with this new computer.

Actually, I have decided to name the computer, "Flicker", like the horse. The reason for this is that every so often the screen freezes -- it just goes gray and sits there and flickers. It won't do anything -- it won't respond to any commands -- so all that is left is to turn off the computer.

What this has me doing is saving things compulsively. Fortunately, this freezing business doesn't happen constantly -- usually somewhere between every 12 to 24 hours. One day it happened twice in a 24 hour period.

This does not make me happy, of course, but I am trying to come to terms with it. Toshiba is quite willing to try to fix it for me, but they will have to take my computer away from me to do it and I don't know if I can handle the trauma just yet!!

Also, I know how difficult these intermittent problems are to diagnose and fix.

Anyway, now that we are speaking of sad things, I may as well show you a photo of something even sadder.

When I saw this picture in the newspaper a couple of weeks ago, I almost cried.

I grew up taking care of chickens and I know how they should look when they are healthy and happy. This isn't it!

I don't know if the loss of feathers occurs naturally in factory farming when the birds never see sunlight or if it occurs because they are attacking each other.

Whenever we saw a chicken looking like one of these, we would move it to a location by itself until it was able to recover and then when it was re-introduced, the other chickens would no longer attack it.

I came across these nice photos of chickens and turkeys being raised the way we used to do it.

To me that look a great deal happier than those in the photo from the newspaper.

If I was still a meat eater, I think I would much prefer to eat the ones in the second set of pictures rather than the ones in the first!

How do I get off on these tangents anyway?

May peace be with you all.

Monday, 28 April 2008


Please don't be too shocked by tonight's title.

I do not have bedbugs; however, we here in Toronto, like many urban areas these days, are having a bedbug "epidemic".

So, this evening at 7, I will be attending a co-op general meeting about bedbugs.

I tell you all this by way of explaining why I am writing my blog a little after 5 p.m. instead of my usual later evening hour -- just in case anybody noticed.

I could take that thought a bit further and do that self-pity thing I do so well and say: just in case anybody happens to even be reading my blog!

The drawing at the beginning, by the way, is entitled "Dock in Sunlight" and is one of the last things I was working on prior to the great crash of a week ago. Fortunately, it was salvageable and I finished it this weekend.

It's not a drawing that I am particularly fond of, but I had fun trying to see how many little "pretty" extras I could add. I really got carried away with the flowers once I decided to throw in some clip art ones.

Today is a day of mourning for all those who have died in industrial accidents.

you should be able to light a candle online. I checked it out earlier and found that it was not responding properly. If you click on the WSIB option, you can read all about the history of the day of mourning and even download the poster. I contacted the webmaster, so maybe by the time you read this, you will be able to light a candle. Another Ontario worker died accidentally just last week.

I used the saying from the inside of my Solidarity cards to bracket the poster as it seems to me to be very fitting for the occasion.

Well, I shall get myself ready and then I will be off to learn more about the friendly bedbugs and how fond they are of our blood. You know, all those years as a child, when my mother said goodnight, she almost always added "sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite". I had no idea she was serious!!

Hopefully I will never experience them for real.

Peace be with you.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Look Who's Back!

Soon after my last brief entry, I experienced my first hard-drive crash! And, no, don't even ask me about whether I do regular back-ups!! Anyway, most of my work was retrieved by a really nice young man named Nick and I got a new computer through the really, really nice son-in-law of my dear friend, Jessie. So all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well to quote Dame Julian.

This bright drawing was one I had almost finished just prior to the crash and it was obviously not corrupted.

I have been able to finish it in the past few days in spite of all the downloading and uploading that I have been doing hour after hour since getting my new computer and getting all my retrieval discs returned.

This drawing is entitled "Shooting Stars" and was inspired by a photograph taken by Brenda -- my blog friend whose photo site link I posted for you a month or so ago. If anyone knows the proper name of this flower, by the way, please let me know.

Just before the Great Crash, I was also just about to post my latest Holy Family icon.

This one is a bit more in the Coptic tradition than any I have done previously. I am sure you can see the difference in the look. For those of you less familiar with icons, they do tend to vary from region to region. The ones that we are more familiar with here in the west are those from the various Russian schools.

And, finally, after further discussions with my Tibetan acquaintance, I have come up with the version that really works for me.

She was the one who wanted me to use "peace" in the first place. By itself, the word peace just seemed too limp, but then I asked her for the same word in Tibetan! Not only is it beautiful to look at, it is also a word in a language that the Chinese have tried to force the Tibetan people to stop using.

I noticed in today's paper that the Chinese are planning to meet with a representative of the Dalai Lama which just could be the beginnings of the long road to peace.

It is wonderful to be back on the computer again -- especially to be able to return to my art work. I cannot begin to describe how painful it was to be without any means to be creative once again.

I got so desperate that I picked up a drawing pencil, but after the third or fourth cramp, I had to admit that it just wasn't going to work.

So you can imagine how grateful I am.

May peace be with you all.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Passover 2008

Here are a couple of new images from one of my foster daughters -- the one in the Philippines.

I am, of course, very proud of her artistic efforts.

Enjoy the sunshine.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Tranquility Reigns

Here is my latest drawing.

I find it rather tranquil and as I finished it off this evening, I thought "how pleasant that after such a hectic day, in the end, tranquility reigns."

I am thinking of naming the drawing "Tranquility Reigns" -- it is either that or something clever like "Gazebo and Swan"!!

At this point, you may or may not be wondering why my day was so hectic -- well, I will tell you... it started off hectic because of the following drawing.

As you have seen several times previously, this is my drawing of the Count from the opera, The Marriage of Figaro. I used a couple of photos of the performer playing the role in this particular production to do the drawing. The purpose of this drawing was so that it could be placed in a frame on stage as a portrait -- and actually look like the person playing the part.

Well, it sounds like a good plan. What I did not realize was that my computer software really cannot turn out LARGE images. This one needed to be 30 x 40 inches and the biggest size I have ever tried to print is 9 x 12.

Early this morning I took my memory stick over to the print shop with the file on it saved in the highest resolution I could manage -- 600 dpi -- and left it with them. I don't know how it actually turned out, but I can only assume that it did not look very professional by the time it was printed!

Oh, well, as I always say, these things are good to help me learn humility. After fretting and fussing about it for a while, I realized that I couldn't change a single thing so I might as well let it go and get on with my day.

Of course, that did not mean that the problems of my day were finished -- the remainder were simply much smaller and did not have so much impact on my silly ego!

As I was doing some work this evening, I came across another photo from the Hubble telescope which I had meant to include in the images I showed you recently from the Hubble.

This is such a beautiful one. It seemed a shame not to share it with you. Also, it is the perfect type of picture with which to end my day -- truly it puts everything in perspective. If I didn't believe deeply that I am known and loved as an individual by the one who created all these things, I would think such images might be overwhelming, even frightening. But then I don't know how other people really feel or think -- so I can only hope that they, too, are filled with awe and indescribable joy upon beholding such images of the deep space that surrounds us. That's enough preaching.

Oh, by the way, I promised an acquaintance that I would help to promote this event coming up on April 24. Any of you in the Toronto area who are interested in our friends, the primates, might enjoy this event very much.

I cropped the photo so you could get a better view of the Orangutan.

Wishing you, and all of creation, Peace.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Stairway to Somewhere

For some reason I have been thinking about stairways today.

I'm can't really imagine why. I mean, I can no longer climb stairs myself -- not even very low stairs -- but I still enjoy thinking about them.

Take a look at the photo above.

I don't know where these stairs are located, but the picture was taken by my cousins, Ron and Sharon, who live in Tennessee and take absolutely beautiful photographs. See

This next photo was taken by someone I once knew when she was on a trip in the former Yugoslavia -- I think this was in Croatia.

To me it is so typical of southern Europe -- so appealing and so totally inaccessible to anyone in a wheelchair! Oh, well, I can still sit at the bottom and enjoy looking up.

This interesting picture was taken by a dear friend. I think it may be some location in northeastern North America -- maybe Vermont, but I am really not at all sure.

It is not as appealing to me as a closed-in stairway or a dark stairway that leads to sunlight but I do love the trees on each side. In time, they may get big enough to give the feeling of shadowy depths that I like so much.

Finally, there is a piece of clip-art that I have used on occasion as the background for portraits of young people and children.

The shadowy stairway leading somewhere suggests a young life full of unknown potential.

Perhaps this is why I was thinking about stairways in the first place.

I had a meeting with a delightful young couple today who are starting out on a very important aspect of Life's journey -- climbing their own stairway to somewhere wonderful.

Peace be with you all.

Monday, 14 April 2008

The Final Third

As you may recall, I mentioned my plans to do three icons of The Holy Family.

There are two reasons why I wanted to do this. One is simply because it is an icon that is very dear to my heart.

The other reason has to do with a course I teach in which I need three icons of the same subject that are slightly different so that reaching a consensus on the favourite may require a bit of negotiation.

So here is the third icon.

This is perhaps the most different of all since it shows Jesus as a teenager, before the death of Joseph, at what appears to be a family Seder meal.

This seems very fitting with Passover being this next weekend.

I have included once again the Holy Family icon that I showed you for the first time last month.

As well, as the first Holy Family icon that I did about a year ago.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for some time now know how much I love drawings and sculptures of hands. Holy Family icons always have three sets of hands, loving hands. Perhaps that is what attracted me to this particular icon from the first time I saw it so many years ago.
How wonderful to be included in that circle of loving hands.
May peace be with you all.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Hubble and Me

A client asked me to do something for him that would show symbols of the different major world religions. At first I tried putting clip art on one long sheet. He kind of liked it but it wasn't really what he wanted.

He then said he would like it to have something to do with the photos from the Hubble telescope! So I suggested that we have two 8 x 10 prints on 9 x 12 plaques with shots from the Hubble telescope as the background. He liked the idea.

I started playing around with the idea today and this is what I have accomplished thus far. We decided that one plaque would have the three religions on it that are known as the "people of the book". The three, Judaism, Christianity and Islam all consider Abraham as the father of their faith and all three religions have a book which they believe contains the inspired teaching brought to man from God.

For those of you who may not know, the quote at the top is the beginning of the Gospel according to St. John. Also, the "fish" symbol behind the Holy Bible is one of the earliest symbols for Christians.

The second plaque will have the other major religions on it.

Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and symbols representing any and all nature religions.

The title at the bottom is the mantra used in some forms of Buddhism, particularly Tibetan Buddhism, and the OM at the top is simply the first word of the mantra. OM is often used by practitioners of yoga as well for breathing exercises. Yoga is a part of the huge and complex Hindu religion.

At the back of both the plaques are two beautiful "photographs" taken by the Hubble telescope and found on the Hubble website which is filled with incredibly beautiful pictures.

When I went there last night to try to find some suitable background material, I was truly overwhelmed by what I saw. Some of the pictures were so impossibly magnificent that they brought tears to my eyes and anyone who knows me well, knows it takes something really powerful to do that! I just sat there, staring at the images on my computer, praising and thanking God.

I could not resist saving a few more to my picture files even though I kept telling myself that I could always go back and find them on the web site! Anyway, here are a few that I couldn't resist.

If I recall correctly, this is something that is dying. I hope I look half as beautiful when I am dying!

The crab nebula has always been a favourite of mine. What amazes me is the colour of the blue/blue-green. Truly, God gets all the best colours in His palette!

This Keyhole Nebula was one of the early photographs taken back in 2000. Once again, I love the colours -- especially the pinkish brown.

I am almost finished with the latest icon I was telling you about recently. I have been busier these days than usual with new clients and new jobs from old clients. This is good, but it does interfere with my time for my own drawing.

Here's hoping you have a good rest of the weekend! May peace be with you all.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

What a Day!

It seemed like such a lovely day when I opened my balcony door at 6:45 this morning to let in the fresh, rather cool breeze. The sun was shining brightly and the kitty cat already had one eye open!

Things progressed routinely. My home care arrived at 8 and left a little before 9 a.m. Then it was time for me to get myself organized to go down to the lobby to meet my friend for our usual Thursday morning coffee outing.

[A photo taken of me last summer visiting with a young friend but it gives you a good idea of what my wheelchair looks like.]

I got myself into my wheelchair and started to back up in order to position myself for going out the door. The chair would not back up. In fact, it was spinning its wheels just like I was sitting on ice. I could not imagine what had gone wrong.

I got myself out of the chair and using my rollator/walker, managed to investigate. I discovered a number of pieces of what appeared to be candle wax. Further investigation revealed that I had tried to back up over a candle that had been sitting on a low table by the front door the day before!

How on earth had it gotten under my chair?

I asked miz k.d. what she knew about this situation, but she just looked at me with those innocent green eyes and blinked.

The temptation was to blame her, but I knew that my home care had also been working in that area during the morning.

Nevermind, I said to myself, the concern of the moment was how was I going to get myself out of this mess so I could meet my friend who was waiting for me downstairs?

It was already past the time I was supposed to meet her and, unfortunately, she doesn't carry a cell phone.

I won't try to describe the gymnastics I went through to remove the broken pieces of candle while trying to hold securely to the walker and the wheelchair, but I finally got enough of the mess out of the way so that my chair made contact with the floor once again.

Almost in a state of collapse, I got back in the chair and headed for the lobby -- sure that my friend would be sitting there tapping her foot impatiently. But, no, she was busy talking to several other friends from the building and hardly seemed to notice I was even late!

We went to one of our favourite coffee shops where I ordered my usual latte. You would think that at this point I could begin to relax; however, that was not the case.

Just prior to the episode with the chair, I had checked my email once last time before leaving and found an email from a client -- a very picky client.

He had somehow found out that I was planning on meeting a mutual acquaintance this afternoon. He planned to see this mutual acquaintance later in the day. So he had the bright idea that the mutual acquaintance could act as a go-between and bring samples of the most recent work he had ordered. All I had to do was make copies of the work and get it to the mutual acquaintance when we met.

The one problem was WHEN was I supposed to have time to make these sample copies?

After having coffee with my friend, I had a doctors appointment, followed by a business appointment, followed by the meeting with the mutual acquaintance!

So, while I was sitting there trying to relax and enjoy my latte, my cell phone rings. It is the "mutual acquaintance" calling. She was not feeling well and would not be able to meet me after all. Truly, I was very sorry to hear that she was not feeling well, but it is surprising how much more I could relax once I knew I no longer had to worry about making the sample copies for the client!

Truly, I am very fortunate in so many ways.

This drawing from several years ago is called "My Neighbourhood" (The St. Lawrence Neighbourhood) and is the area of Toronto I live in. It is a great place to live especially for someone who is disabled.

This morning I left my wheelchair accessible apartment and went for coffee in one of several accessible coffee shops in the area. I then drove myself to my doctor's appointment at a local hospital. Next I drove myself to a meeting at a local business. On the way home, I stopped off on the local supermarket. Finally, in the early evening, my end-of-the-day home care arrived and got me ready for bed.

It is simply impossible for me not to feel grateful.

Wishing you all an abundance of blessings as well.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


I have been working on a different technique lately at the request of the person who ordered the portrait of the Count in The Marriage of Figaro.

I included my latest version as well as the version I had shown you previously.
In the first version, I had simply drawn the image as I usually do -- letting lines signify the various important items of the drawing.
The client requested that I try to make the portrait look a bit more like a painting with something approaching shading where the lines would normally be.
If I were using sophisticated software, I could just use the built-in paint brushes I have heard about and really make it look like a painting. However, I have never been able to understand enough of what the instructions are talking about to learn my own software! Maybe one of these days.
Anyway, take a look at what I did and see what you think.

The original drawing is just included for easy comparison. As you can see, I also changed the background at the request of the client.

The next set of double I want to show you are my latest Solidarity cards. I know everyone must be getting tired of them, but I just wanted to show you how they are gradually expanding.

I have finally gotten permission from the client to do this simple form of the Spanish for one set along with the regular set in English.

So, now we are putting a message on the inside as well -- English in the English card and Spanish in the Spanish.

These are nice union people I am doing this for, so the message reads:

So, as you can see, I am doing lots of work but it is not as glamorous as usual. I enjoy it very much however since it is creative.
I am working on a new and very different icon which I may be able to show you sometime next week.
Right now I feel as though I had better get back to work as I have another client coming over on Friday and I need to make certain that all of his work is finished.
May peace be with you.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Peace and War

This is the new icon I was mentioning -- and the "peace" part of tonight's posting.

It is obviously another drawing of The Holy Family. I need three different versions of the Holy Family icon for a course that I am teaching. This is my second one. As soon as I feel I am finished with this one, I will start on another one.

As always, working on this icon has brought me a lot of happiness and pleasure for which I am very grateful. But remember, this is just a first draft so any comments or suggestions would be welcome.

This next item is the beginning of the "War" part of tonight's posting and I am using my old drawing of the soldier and the kitty cat as an illustration.

You may not be aware, but I am a supporter of the War Resisters movement and send the occasional letter to our Canadian government trying to get them to agree to allow those Americans who have gone AWOL from Iraq to stay in Canada and not be sent back to the U.S. They are having an event tomorrow night that any of my blog readers from the Toronto area might be interested in attending. Here is the information:


Video screening, Monday April 7, 7 pm

Health Sciences Building, University of Toronto, 155 College Street (@ McCaul)

From March 13 to 16 this year, 200 veterans of the Iraq war testified at Winter Soldier, a conference organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War in Washington.The testimonials were modelled on the original Winter Soldier hearings during the Vietnam War, when returning soldiers told of the reality of the war on the ground and the need to keep organizing to end the war. Join us on Monday April 7Th at 7 pm to watch some of these historic testimonials from both the original Winter Soldier, and Winter Soldier II, and to get an update on the situation of US war resisters who are seeking asylum in Canada.

Sponsored by the U of T NDP and USW Local 1998 Political Action Committee.For more info call 416.856.5008.

Finally, continuing with "war", I wanted to show you the final slogans I ended up with in my "Free Tibet" drawing.

The newest one is "Denounce the Dalai Lama NEVER!" This was inspired by the latest move from the Chinese. Evidently, they plan to require all Buddhist monks in Tibet to denounce allegiance to the Dalai Lama and to make a commitment instead to the government of China!

The next one "Made in China" with a line through it was inspired by the human rights group I am involved with:
They are recommending that people try to stop buying items made in China.

This third one was inspired by the recommendations of two of my friends -- Brenda W. and Alice H. They both came up with practically the same suggestions within a day of each other. Both of them felt strongly that Tibetans should have the right to be themselves... to speak their own language, to keep their culture and to practice their own religion.

A big thanks to everyone who sent me suggestions. I really appreciated all the help I got.

I hope it has been Spring-like weather wherever you are. It has been beautiful in Toronto this weekend. The wind is still cold, but the sunshine is bright and glorious.

Peace be with you.

Friday, 4 April 2008

More Strange Things

This is a picture taken from the top of the hillside near Palmer Rapids, Ontario looking down on the farm we owned.

If you look closely you can see the neighbour's sheep grazing in the pasture and the shiny objects are the tin roofs on the house and the various out buildings.

What makes this strange?

Well, today I ordered a book from Madonna House Apostolate in Combermere, Ontario. The lady who answered the telephone to take my order asked me, hesitantly, if I was the Sallie who used to have the farm at Palmer Rapids?

This person turned out to be someone I haven't seen or spoken with in about 35 years. When I last saw her, she was just starting out on life's journey and now she is a grandmother!

What a wonderful blessing this is.

This next item is strange in appearance. It is also a new drawing -- first draft.

In my usual clever fashion, I am keeping the title closely related to the subject of the drawing. I have called it "Cybister Amaryllis".

This is an older drawing of mine of what we normally call an Amaryllis plant.

The truth of the matter is, the Amaryllis Family has lots of different members including the strange character above called Cybister.

Which explains why my new drawing is called "Cybister Amaryllis".

Then, the other day, I came across this photograph.
I knew right away that there was something familiar about it, but I couldn't figure out what. In fact, at first I couldn't even figure out for sure what I was looking at other than I knew it was some kind of trees!
Finally, I found the explanation that went with it and was told that this is a photo of Cypress trees taken at sunset.
Well, I was still confused.
This is what I am used to thinking of when it comes to Cypress trees.

This photo was taken back in the 1980's on the lake where my sister, Betty, lived in Florida. It was called a Cypress lake and had that brown-stained water that Cypress wood gives.

While I admit that none of these items are earth shattering, they are the kinds of things that keep life interesting and surprising for me.

I have almost finished a new icon of the Holy Family which I will probably be showing you on Sunday when it will be time for another posting.

Until then, may peace reign in your hearts.