Saturday, March 16, 2024

The Return of Baby Days for Cousin Faith


Baby Days

Baby Days was drawn over the course of three years during the 1990s. By the time a dozen drawings were complete I started to write the story that had been driving the process. Now 20 years later I still like what it has to say and so, apparently, do a few friends. Since it's unlikely to see publication in any format other than this one I hope you'll enjoy it as it is. 

Thank you for coming by.
Susan 2013 now again 2024

We wonder how we came here
We wonder why we're born
In dreaming slept an answer
That woke one Summer morn

A voice is softly calling
Unheard by grownup ears

It whispers love and kindness
Yet never speaks of tears

It calls us all together
And sings a haunting song

A journey must be taken
We haven't very long

The plans are made in secret
In babbling baby talk

The journey is a long one
It's much too far to walk

We need some true companions
To help us in our flight

We travel into darkness
That comes with every night

We gather under starlit skies
(For children have no fear)

The magic time has come at last
To speed away from here

We fly into the morning light
From every distant land

To meet out there a mystery
Perhaps to understand

Even dragons have their children
Who also ought to learn

The world is made for singing
As through the stars we turn

It's time to travel home now
As morning comes to earth

The light of love rekindles
With every baby's birth

Baby days, sweet baby days
We've all been there you know
Hearts are filled with sweet delight
As children learn and grow

We hold them for a moment
As their childhood slips away
We only catch brief glimpses
Of wondrous baby days.


  1. Fabulous work, Susan! I've really enjoyed the revisit, especially all together on one page. Have you thought of printing it yourself, and putting it together as a little gift book for a lucky child (grandchild, niece, nephew or friend. Your work is so exquisite.

    1. I'm happy you enjoyed seeing it again in its new format, Marja-Leena. I looked into having it printed once but decided that a nicely done book would be too expensive.

  2. A heartwarming piece of art.
    Thank you for sharing it, Susan.

    1. I'm glad you liked it (again), Sean.

    2. 37 days later:
      Coming back again and again, and each time I like it a bit more. Just lovely.

  3. Like last time, these stopped me in my tracks.

    Bathtub - The spigots are a wonder (they made me lean in for a closer look with a big grin on my face). And the light on the floor tiles reminds me how much I love the rare showers and baths I take in daylight. I am so glad this is in black and white so your usual magic with textures is the main event. I'm reminded again of Vallotton's "La Paresse"

    "A voice is softly calling / Unheard by grownup ears" - That is the place I am trying to return to in the walled garden. Where my art is trying to take me (unsuccessfully so far). I love this image - the dolphins in the fountain, the gentle interaction around the pram.

    Sand castle - I can feel sand on baby skin.

    The big cats at the zoo - I love looking for the atmospheric details, like the grass in the cracks in the pavers. They slow time.

    The library - the Buddha and Yin/Yang... And the way that baby face peers out from the side of the big boldly patterned chair... brings back memories of when a chair like that could be a whole world to crawl over.

    The kitchen - I love the view of the table from the vantage of baby eyes and the pattern on the dog! The ball that is a globe continues the theme of the meeting of large and small - the world sized importance of play.

    "The journey is a long one / It's much to far to walk" - I'm reminded again of Vallotton, who also had prints with a sense of lunging movement like your dog. And the sun in the door!!! Baby with keys, baby climbing the grand stairs, the big clock... so much here about all that lies ahead of these tiny people.

    The car!!! The lean into the steering wheel! Navigator in the booster seat! The baby shoes from the rear view mirror are insired. And no glimpse of the mirror - no looking back!

    The gate is like a garden and a spider web, and where the babies emerged... I love the postures of the babies throughout these drawings; they show such a loving attention to the balance and proportions of baby figures, and the placement of little hands and feet. And in this drawing I love the dog's tail merging with the frame.

    "We gather under starlit skies / (For children have no fear)" - Yes, I think fear is learned or taught. And I didn't miss the lovely echo of baby carrying bear, and bear carrying baby.

    The merry-go-round - I love the way you open up shapes and perspectives to make patterns follow your whim. You create your own sense of close space - another way your images seem to slow time.

    And the rest of the story and images... I stop breathing as the animals take flight, the dragons emerge, and the images go cosmic. I love this entire series, but the two with the dragon smiles might be my favorites. The way you use the different sizes of scale patterns, the division of the pages, the freedom of the figures, the patterns and silhouettes in the sky all have an even more unbridled sense of frolic than the rest. I think you managed to build the scale and wonder of this romp with each drawing - not easy to do for so many images in a row!

    I marvel at the patience to ink the Milky Way, and I love the echo of dragon tail and dog tail.

    The blowing curtains catch the fleeting nature of the whole thing...

    Thank you for reposting these!


    1. Steve, I can't tell you just how amazed and delighted I was made by reading your generous compliments about Baby Days. When I drew these pictures (size 3 Radidograph) I spent a lot of time in a very different space from my usual artistic haunts and, like poets and musicians sometimes say, I felt as though I was a conduit for something far bigger. Too much time has passed to ask myself if I was competent enough to take on such a project. At the time I'd never done pen and ink drawings previously so had no clue (nor preconceived notions either) so your comparing my work to Vallotton's is very kind. Also, it's too late for me to wonder if the whole thing has any value to anyone other than myself. During the more than 5 years Baby Days had it's own site fewer than 20 people left comments, but all of them were very favorable and I'll always be grateful for that. We live in harsh times spiritually, making it no wonder to me that although many more may have read it, Baby Days was just a little too sentimental for most tastes. It's more a story to inspire contemplation of a period that moves far too swiftly when we're parenting little ones in this modern age.
      I'm very grateful to you for taking the time to write such an appreciative account of how you've responded to the individual pictures and the accompanying verse. No review anywhere could make me more pleased.

  4. I came by for a bedtime story.... What great timing!! I'm hearing the text set to music....... Happy Easter..... Happy dreams.

    1. Oh, that would be very nice. I'm glad you came back to see it all together.

      I hope you had a good holiday.

Sunday, December 31, 2023

At the end of 2023



                                                    Best wishes to all for the coming new year
                                                    What’s in store is anybody's guess
                                                    We hope for the best
                                                    And prepare for the unexpected…
                                                    Breathe deep and remember:

                                                    In this moment there is nothing to fear.


Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Christmas in Jerusalem 1921



When three Abrahamic religions lived in peace.

Christmas was cancelled in Bethlehem in 2023.



Friday, December 22, 2023


Crow here. It's been nearly a year since the night I agreed to help the old fellow from the north with some deliveries on Christmas Eve. Quite frankly the dear gentleman was at his wits end, knowing as he did that so many poor children needed gifts and food that night and much more besides. He did what he could as he always does. My task was the much less arduous one (or so I thought) of taking presents to the children of the rich. As you well know there are far fewer of them, such a tiny number of good rich children, in fact, that I was quite confident of being home well before midnight.

At twilight several of his more experienced reindeer arrived pulling a spare Santa sled and off we tootled into winter's darkening sky. Our first stop at a gated community provided my first inkling that this job might not be quite the doddle I'd imagined it would be. As I slipped down the chimney I'd been happy to see the glint of festive lights in the the hall and the living room, but when I stepped across the grate I discovered they weren't holiday decorations at all but motion detectors. Suddenly sirens sounded, steel barriers dropped down to cover the windows and three snarling dogs rushed into the room where I'd just begun to open my sack. I barely made it back up the chimney with my trousers intact.

Having never been one to renege on an obligation I set off with a will to the next mansion on my list. The living room there was a grand space filled with art and fine furniture but once again, just as I set foot on the floor, before I could begin opening my bag, alarms sounded, a spotlight lit my person and a nasty smelling fog filled the room with blue smoke. Coughing and choking I scrambled back up that chimney too.

As I'd had no success at the gated community I decided instead that we'd try for a country house on the list. Knowing nothing about private security systems that employ infrared cameras that read thermal heat signatures, nor about radar detectors - both of which can detect anything larger than a mouse up to five miles away - the reindeer and I were surprised when portals in the roof opened and out popped a brace of cannons. Although we attempted to signal our good intentions by ringing sleigh bells and singing carols, we were forced to turn away when the heavy artillery opened fire.

We made our sad way back to Santa's workshop in dread of his disappointment. How surprised we were by his merry laughter as he commended us for our attempts and said, 'Don't worry boys, next year I'll let them fight it out with the Amazon drones'.

Peace to All!

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Back to Nature



An afternoon at the park found us looking at a baby owl just learning to fly.

He's big but still has baby fluff.

Then there was the eagle who enjoys standing on the world's tallest totem pole..

Let's hope they meet as friends.. and so may all of us.

Happy Springtime ☀️ ʕ•́ᴥ•̀ʔっ☀️

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Thripdipple - Anthony's story - 10 years later

Once, a while ago, so long ago that my Grampa recalls it vaguely, everything was pretty much the same as it is now. Except for a few things. Some of these things that were different were the turtles. They weren't so different. They still had noses and ate bugs and moved slowly just like now. The only difference really was that they didn't have shells. So they looked something like this, I guess. 

And this turtle here, his name is Anthony. He's the turtle this story is about. All the other turtles have stories about themselves, of course, but it would take me five years to tell you even half of them, and thirteen years more to tell you all the endings. Besides that, you should probably go to sleep soon. So I will tell you just about Anthony tonight. 

Anthony lived with his brothers and sisters in a place called Turtletown, which is about 27 miles east of Schenectedy. But you won't find Turtletown on any map. Many maps don't even have Schenectedy on them. Turtletown was a pleasant and beautiful place with many colorful flowers and cool clear ponds. Just as now the turtles passed their moments quite happily.

Well, not all their moments. Sometimes a hungry fox or two would come by. And sometimes it would rain and become cold. Worst of all, sometimes a hungry fox or two would come by and it would rain and become cold, all at once! But there seemed to be nothing that could change these things. 

And not being the type that dwells upon misfortune, Anthony, and all his brothers and sisters, lived in their happy moments - even though they had sore throats and so on sometimes.

Well now, Anthony was out walking one day, searching up some munchies and humming, and what do you think? Well, it almost goes without saying that suddenly a long, pointed rocket swooped out of the sky and landed very near by. 

Anthony's little red eyes blinked a few times. He was surprised and said, "Holy Smokes!" He forgot all about hunting for munchies, but did keep on humming. And he walked over to the rocket. When he got there a big purple man with three eyes, three ears, three noses, three mouths, three arms, and three legs came out from the rocket. 

He bent down and picked Anthony up. Anthony said, "What's happenin', man?" The purple man laughed heartily. He laughed so much that Anthony laughed too. When they stopped laughing, the purple man said, "Thripdipple!" They started to laugh again. Then Anthony's new friend took Anthony into the rocket.

Anthony's friend went to a chair and sat down. He put Anthony on one of his shoulders. There were many buttons on the walls. Anthony's friend pushed a button. Then he said, "Thripdipple!" Then he pushed another button and said, "Thripdipple!" He pushed seventeen more buttons. Anthony helped his friend. They said "Thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple thripdipple!" 

Then the rocket shook and roared up through the cosmos. And in no time at all it seemed (and in actuality was) the rocket became still. Anthony knew they had landed. His friend stood up. Anthony was still on his shoulder. They went to the door.

What a sight! Anthony's friend put his hands out and said, Thripdipple!" Anthony began to hum. They walked to the corner. There were other men and women at the corner, and they were standing in a queue. Anthony guessed that it was a bus stop. And as sure as your Aunt Matilda wears tennis shoes in the bathtub, he was right. 

 Anthony and his friend got on a bus. His friend said 'Thripdipple!" to the bus driver and they both chuckled. Then Anthony stuck out his tongue and everyone on the bus laughed at that. Anthony and his friend went to a seat.

Now they traveled on the bus for some time. Anthony stopped humming and listened to two women who were sitting in front of him. This is what they were saying: 

"Well, anyway, thripdipple, thripdipple thripdipples over thripdipple. They thripdippled last thripdipple." 

 "Oh, I didn't thripdipple that. I thripdippled thripdipple thripdipple, and she didn't thripdipple me." 

"Well, you thripdipple, thripdipple is so busy thripdippling thripdipple, she doesn't have a thripdipple to thripdipple." 

"Oh, how thripdippling!"

Soon enough, however, Anthony's friend got up. The bus stopped and they got out. They were in front of a glorious house. They went to the door and Anthony's friend knocked. A voice from inside called, "Thripdipple!" Then Anthony's friend opened the door and they went in.

Such a splendid room! A wise looking old man with three fluffy pink beards was sitting on a pillow in a corner. Anthony's friend bowed to the man and said, "Thripdippleness!" Anthony said, "Hey, hey, hey!" They all laughed. 

"I am Thripdippleness', said the old man, 'and this place you have come to is called Thripdipple. It is a planet far in the skies in the cluster of stars named Alpha Schenectedy. We folk are called thripdipples, and we all speak the language called thripdipple. But I can also speak turtle." 

"When's lunch?" said Anthony. 

 "We thripdipples have a favorite thing we like to do", said Thripdippleness. "More than anything, we like to thripdipple. I can't explain to you what it means because only thripdipples can understand. Anyway, I decided today to thripdipple you turtle folk. Now listen to my story:

 "Many years ago when I was your age, thripdipples didn't have the kind of rockets we have now. We used to have round ones. And children, you know, like to have toys and smaller things to play with. So we thripdipples gave our children small, round rockets, like this one." Thripdippleness reached in one of his ears and pulled something out. 

 It was green, It was round on the top, and flat on the bottom. It had one window in the front and one window in the back. And two on one side and two on the other. How many is that? 

"But you see," said Thripdippleness, "after about five thousand billion years, the thripdipples decided to have long pointed rockets for a change. Then the children wanted small, long pointed rockets. So now we have a big pile of small round rockets that the thripdipple children don't play with anymore. So I would like to thripdipple you turtles with them." 

"Righteous! said Anthony. Anthony's friend took Anthony in his hand. He gave him to Thripdippleness. The Thripdippleness put Anthony inside the small round rocket. "All dressed up and nowhere to go," said Anthony. 

Well, the rest of the story is plain to see. Thripdippleness and Anthony's friend filled up 46 big bags with all the small round rockets the thripdipple children didn't play with any more. They put the bags in the long pointed rocket then Anthony and his friend went in. Anthony's friend sat in his chair. This time he only pushed one-half of one button. They both said, "Thrip!" Then the rocket shook and roared through the cosmos.

When they arrived back in Turtletown, Anthony called all his brothers and sisters. Then Anthony's friend put each and every one inside a small round rocket. And now, even if a hungry fox or two comes by, and even if it rains and becomes cold all at once, the turtle folk don't mind. They are safe and sound inside their thripdipples. 

the end 

written by my co-conspirator Numb - pictures by me

Happy Christmas and a Better New Year to all 

ps: "In our civilization, and under our form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office."
~Ambrose Bierce

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Heron in September

Does this mean I'm now a nature photographer?

Saturday, February 9, 2019

letter to Tom, cc'd to old friends

Hi Tom,

Thanks to your note yesterday I finally got around to solving the problem I'd run into in not being able to comment on your blog posts. Yes, I did notice you'd come back a few weeks ago but since I haven't been to blogger very often these days I just thought you'd changed your settings on your return. I'd tried several times to leave you a note and every time was blocked by not having an 'account'. Also, phantsythat was behaving oddly and I knew I hadn't made any changes. So I got in touch with the help desk forum where I eventually discovered an anti-tracking program (Ghostery) I'd loaded a few months ago had identified a number of blogs (including my own) as sites to be constrained. The solution was very simple in that all I had to do was to mark Gwynt (and phantsythat) as 'trusted' sites. I left a couple of comments on your more recent but older posts and I see one of the people from the forum had dropped by your place too to see if all was well (he's the one who deleted his comment).

Anyhow, that's that. As for me (and Crow) it's true we kind of slipped away from blogging last March and who'd know better than you just how difficult it can be to pick up the traces again? Somehow I'd made a commitment to posting a new illustration of some kind to every piece I posted on the blog and I'd pretty much run out of steam. When I paint or attempt any artistic endeavor the results are invariably based on how much time I've taken. By that point I'd been taking less than the necessary time for a good while and I felt it showed. Added to that was feeling like if I had to write about something important to me I must try to do so in a way that wouldn't offend anyone else. Talk about a conundrum, eh? You can never make everybody happy and sometimes you can't make anybody happy and that's just the way things go.

Lastly, and to not make this too long, although the circumstance described certainly too long enough, we packed up our Halifax, NS life and moved four thousand miles to Victoria, BC late last summer. If you're a Canadian who wants to live in a milder climate but not leave the country this is the place to be. Getting here and becoming established has taken much time and energy.

So far I haven't even attempted to draw anything since last winter. That may change. What also may change is our possible return to phantsythat. After all, you were gone for two years and for us it's only been ten months. We'll see what happens next.

Take care and keep well.
Susan and Crow


Saturday, March 31, 2018

mirage or no from Crow

Dear Friends,

You may be curious about where I've disappeared to these past long months. I hope you'll accept my apologies with the understanding my new found companions and I have been making great efforts on behalf of all the animals and good people in the world. What could that be, do you wonder? I will explain.

During my late winter sojourn to ancient Aegypt I came upon a cartouche of profound antiquity which took me many long nights to decipher. It told of a path that leads to lands of unimaginable wonder where all can live in peace and harmony. I'm aware you may be skeptical that such a path exists but remember it wasn't that long ago most humans agreed the world was flat, that Earth was the center of the Universe, and man was the pinnacle of creation. We all know what became of those assumptions and who knows but there may be others that will be overturned as wisdom grows.

As we search for signs of our route across this mighty desert I've taken this moment to send you fond greetings. There are trails to mystery and beauty in unexpected places, some of which you may have found yourselves. Always remember the journey itself is what brings meaning to the destination. In other words, enjoy yourselves and why not try something new (like a piece of fruitcake)?

I will send further dispatches as space, time and shifting sands allow.

Meanwhile, salutations to all,


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

not fade away

It's been a while since I've written about the train journeys I enjoyed when I lived in England in the mid-1960s. In those days the railway was still the most convenient and relaxing way of traveling around the countryside and one of my primary reasons for doing so at the time was that I had become interested in brass rubbing - similar to coin rubbing but on a larger scale. Commemorative plaques installed on stone floors of churches between the 1300s and the 1700s, the brasses are elegant and detailed portrayals of people in the medieval period - important people, that is. By the the time I got interested in making some reproductions of my own many of the churches that housed the monuments had stopped allowing people to make the rubbings at all because brass, being a fairly soft metal, is easily damaged or simply worn away.

So while many churches in the south of England had banned the practice ministers outside large urban areas were frequently more amenable. Since it wasn't a good idea to simply walk in carrying the rolls of paper, wax and weights (to hold the paper down) I wrote letters to request permission and to determine an acceptable date. Once that was done I'd plan my trip.

Probably the most interesting of my expeditions was the day I arrived at a tiny village that was home to a very old Gothic church. A young minister met me at the entrance and showed me into the nave where shafts of light from the arched windows created patterns of light and shade. The brass I'd come to reproduce, a knight in full armour with a greyhound at his feet,  was to the left of the altar. After dusting the piece carefully I positioned the paper and set to work transferring the image under the fascinated gaze of the minister. A little later while he related the history of the church he paused for a moment and asked if I'd like to see something special. Naturally, I said yes. He asked me to help him move a couple of wooden pews to one side and then he rolled back a carpet. There I gazed upon one of the most beautiful and intricate of the monumental brass memorials ever made.

Not this, but something like:

and no, I didn't even ask of I could make a rubbing. Seeing it was enough and having seen it was a very special moment for me. I think many people have accepted a very unfair description of the medieval period by calling it the Dark Ages. There was much in that time that was worthwhile - such artistry as the old churches attest both in their building and decoration required time and peace of mind in their creation.

“I don't suppose there has been a moment in the world's history where more people felt themselves to be artists, or when less art was produced."
~ Auberon Waugh