Wednesday, December 28, 2011

time out

Hmph. The Solstice is over, Christmas is over, even Boxing Day is over so why isn't it spring yet? It's still quite dark by 4:30 in the afternoon, a situation that leaves me little daylight for getting all those daytime chores done and still have a few hours of natural light for painting. What could be going on?

Is time really speeding up? If you take a little time touring the internet under the search 'time speeding up', you'll find many sites dedicated to 2012 and very few linked to any sort of science. However, I did run into one theory related to quantum physics about the Schumann resonances. Wikipedia describes them as a set of spectrum peaks in the extremely low frequency (ELF) portion of the Earth's electromagnetic field spectrum that are global resonances excited by lightning discharges in the area between the Earth's surface and the ionosphere. According to Wiki the planet has had a relatively stable resonance of 7.8 cycles per second for thousands of years. It's been likened to the heartbeat of Earth. Fine. So what could that have to do with time speeding up?

According to many 2012 websites the pulse of the Schumann resonance began to speed up around 1980 and has been measured at 12 cycles per second. That would mean that although there are still 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour etc. that time as we experience it has actually been moving faster. If that's true then we're all actually spending just 16 hours instead of 24 hours getting all the things we need to get done in a day. What an amazing and unlikely claim that seemed to be. If it were true it would be spring by now and that is patently not the case. By then I was sure I wasn't alone in believing there are some people with too much time on their hands. What will they all do for fun when 12.21.12 arrives and nothing happens? Well, nothing obvious anyway..

Perhaps Father Time in this wonderful painting by Edmund Dulac might have a bottle containing a little extra time for me. I'm willing to share. Meanwhile here's another take on time:

UN TOUR DE MANEGE from alexis liddell on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

kliban's Cattitude

This picture, the last on our 2011 calendar, has always been one of my favorites. Cat is alone but content skating figure eights under a clear nighttime sky with the promise of light and warmth in the near distance. You can call me sentimental but that was in truth a rarity for Kliban during his life.

The Cat illustrations were for him doodles he made when he was attempting to realize one of the more bizarre and ironic images that appeared most often in Playboy magazine. (Don't worry, we didn't read it, just looked at the pictures.) He routinely savaged sacred cows, apparently staying up nights on end to see just how far he could force an idea that would still be interpretable to the rest of us. The results, as he incited philosophers to loot small towns and pretty women to fix their makeup in the mirror of a blind man's dark glasses were always fascinating, darkly funny and never comforting.

It seems to me that such a gifted artist, one who struggled with the perceptions coming from the dark side of his psyche, was very involved in uncovering essential truths about our plight as human beings. Another favorite of his cartoons shows a fakir settling down on a bed of nails while saying, 'It only hurts when I exist.' When Kliban died in 1990, a great many people never realized the world had lost a twisted and irreplaceable visionary.

Perhaps you're already familiar with his 'other than Cat' cartoons and you may even own a copy of 'Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head' or 'The Biggest Tongue In Tunisia'. They are wonderfully irreverent and well worth your attention if you haven't seen them for a while. Yet I still get the feeling that even though he dismissed the Cat drawings, refusing to be interviewed about them even after they became wildly popular, that in them he'd found a universal truth. There's a poignant and transcendent quality to them that speaks of finding light even in the deepest dark.

I was relieved to get our 2012 Kliban cat calendar in the mail a few days ago. Yes, there are many other calendars out there - probably too many - but if you need to have a selection of rambling, playful, hedonistic, and somewhat sadistic cat images on your kitchen wall to make the place seem like home then nothing else will do.

Happy Solstice.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

lost and found

It turns out there's an urban art form I'd never heard about until very recently. Next time I go for a walk I'm definitely taking a few posters with me. 

Lost: Elephant
Color - Greyish
Size - Largeish
Looks - Like an elephant
Last seen - Halifax area
When - Not for a bit
Answers to - this


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

traveling slow with Crow

So where has Susan been lately you may wonder, or probably not. What happened is that some time ago I decided I should come up with a picture of my own for every new post and more often than not whatever interesting subject I'd considered important enough or silly enough to write about got lost while I was in the process of coming up with a suitable drawing. Frequently the drawings got lost as well. Thank goodness whether or not the world continues to revolve doesn't count on me for its impetus.

This time I'd been thinking about trains and how much more sense they make as the most civilized mode of overland travel left. Once the United States had the world's biggest and best rail system, and Canada's wasn't far behind. Quite a few people still alive today remember the days when fast, efficient rail service connected all but the very smallest towns in America. This is still true for many other countries in the world and we hope they may return. Goodness knows the opportunity to experience beauty and relaxation should trump speed in a better world.

Crow loves to travel in comfort and style so I thought you'd like to see a picture of him as he departed from the Halifax Train Station on his way to visit some old friends before the northern winter takes hold. He'll be back before Christmas and asked me to wish all of you well while he's away.

As for me, I promise to try posting a bit more often even if it's necessary to back off on my idea of completing a drawing for every post. Now I'd better go and make sure Crow's stock of brandy and fruitcake are sufficient for his return.

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.
 ~Lao Tzu

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

sharing lunch

Some things you just have to show because if simply described there's no way you'd believe the sight. Ever since it began to get cold around here I've been carrying a little sack of peanuts with me whenever we take our walk in Point Pleasant Park. A mile or two along the wooded pathways we have a favorite spot where there's a bench near a rocky outcrop that overlooks the water and the south shore. Usually, well before we reach the spot, a local crow or two will have noted our presence and will start cawing to alert his friends to our arrival. I toss peanuts around the area and then we sit to watch what happens.

Generally, one crow will stay on a branch of a nearby tree while several others land to grab the nuts. For some reason there's always one among them, invariably the biggest one, who takes the first turn and picks up as many as he can find all at once. Often he'll have such a load in his beak that the last ones will fall out but he remains persistent and won't fly away with his hoard until he's sure he can hold no more. I can't tell you how hilarious it looks to see a crow looking like he has a mouthful of big yellowish teeth so I drew a picture. The other crows never seem to mind and just let him get on with his business.

Meanwhile, a little squirrel who lives nearby patiently waits his turn. Squirrels around here are the smallest I've ever seen and this one is always careful about not getting too close to the larger birds. I always save a few nuts for him just in case he misses out on the first feast. A few days ago he came all the way over to the bench where he stood up on his hind legs to ask for his share.

Life is good.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


                                         If Spring is a season of rebirth,
                                         Summer a time of happiness,
                                         And Autumn a time of abundance,
                                         Then Winter is a season of reflection and memory.
                                         Winter is a season of the mind.

                                         In skeletal trees and frozen earth,
                                         We visualize leaves, grass and flowers,
                                         And remember birds and bright winged butterflies.
                                         In Winter we recollect things we've lost and hope to find.
                                         Winter concentrates the mind.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

sunday with Crow

I thought you might enjoy seeing a picture of Crow relaxing in his sanctum earlier today when I carried in our tea and a package of dark chocolate digestive biscuits to share. Such small luxuries can make grand occasions of life and we enjoyed some conversation about the world as it is and as it used to be. It seems to both of us that although the past is gone and much about it is best forgotten there are still many things to learn and carry into the future.

Crow likes to surround himself with some of the artifacts he's collected over the course of a very long life. Naturally, some of them he left in place because even though they were originally dedicated to him and his friends moving them would have been impossible as well as rude.

You'll probably laugh as I did when he told me that Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun weren't such bad guys to hang around with once you got to know them. He made a good point when he mentioned that at least they did their massacring, raping and pillaging right up front rather than being sneaky and dishonest about their activities and real motives.

Some of his happiest memories are of the times he spent in company with William Morris who was worried about English society for similar reasons we worry about our own culture now. He said that, in a "true society", where neither luxuries nor cheap trash were made, machinery could be improved and used to reduce the hours of labour.  Rather than the clamor made by futurists for faster machines, progress, capitalism, competition and the creation of wealth Morris thought the function of the machine should be to free workers from drudgery rather than displace them. His aim was to create as much beauty as he and his associates could for as many people as they could. It's strange to think that in our own times there's no designer, politician or industrialist who would dare to make concrete proposals for improving the lives of ordinary people.

After a happy autumn spent watching and participating in OWS events we were saddened about the feeding frenzy we heard about this past Black Friday. People get confused and desperate, all the more so when they're being told the only hope for the economy to rise, and perhaps for their jobs to return, is that they max out their credit cards. Crow mentioned it wasn't unlike the peasants rushing to the bakeries to buy cake just before the French Revolution. I have a feeling Occupy will return with the spring flowers..

It wouldn't be a surprise to any of us to see a world economy based on the false premise of infinite supplies of fossil fuel grind to a serious slowdown in the near future and there's no doubt there'll be trouble. It's more than likely we'll see a near future where 2012 is just another date on the calendar, the Singularity is forgotten as people figure out how to grow vegetables on their balconies and keep chickens in the extra bathroom, and the Rapture leaves everyone behind. Then again, as Crow said today there's always the possibility that in the longterm a larger world will be more comfortable for everyone.

We'll just have to wait and see - or at least Crow will.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


dream(drēm)n. from Mary Lai on Vimeo.

It's unlikely I'll ever make a video myself but I'm very impressed with the wonderful effects that can be made to happen using only the simplest of materials - and a good knowledge of computer arts. I found this one very recently and rather than leave it where it was I thought I'd post it here for you to see.

This is a story about a blackbird who lives quite a miserable life whether awake or asleep. How he deals with his situation is what the movie is about.

I'm sure Crow would approve.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

it's that time again

Between bites of dinner this evening I ventured out onto our cold 7th floor balcony to snap a few pictures of the Festival of Lights, Halifax's annual holiday parade. Even though my camera complained about being confused, the pictures it captured were considerably more exciting than the event itself. It's the kind of parade that nobody would go out to see if it happened in daylight. Trucks, buses, the Harbor Hopper, and even the Purolator delivery van covered in Christmas lights drove by in slow procession, each and every one playing 1950's holiday music at the loudest possible volumes their freshly installed sound systems would allow.

If you can imagine Brenda Lee singing 'Rockin Around the Christmas Tree' bumper to bumper with Gene Autry's version of 'Frosty the Snowman' closely followed by Chubby Checker doing 'The Jingle Bell Rock' I'm sure you'll get the gist. I can hardly bear to mention listening to the combination of Burl Ives 'Holly Jolly Christmas' and Bing's 'White Christmas' when a traffic jam stranded them out front for ten minutes. Do you ever wonder why it is that popular Christmas music seems frozen in an earlier time?

Anyway, the pictures are kind of neat in a weird way. Between my shivering and the moving vehicles it actually looks like a high tech art event. Who knows? Maybe they'll convince tons of tourists to stop by next late November. But probably not you.

Did I capture a little bokeh?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

lucky to be water born

During the three hours this morning it took me to wake, drink coffee, eat breakfast, read the news, shower and get ready for a walk, humanity had extracted another 378 million barrels of crude oil, 56 million tons of coal, and 36 billion cubic feet of natural gas out of the planet’s steadily depleting reserves. I'll admit right up front the way I spent those three hours contributed to the depletion. Considering the way things are set up in the western world it's very difficult to know how to live in such a way as to not stress the environment. I hate going to big box stores or shopping malls but the fact is I've been engineered to negotiate those spaces whereas, being left to myself in the woods, I couldn't tell one mushroom from another and neither could I find my way out of a good sized park without a map and the help of a kind hearted park ranger. It's pitiful.

It was only a little more than a century ago people pretty much lived in harmony with nature's ability to resupply our natural resources; essentially, work was done by human labor in concert with animals when extra strength was required and power for grinding grain was done by water and wind mills. I wouldn't last a month in that world. Nevertheless, what did happen was the discovery of the planet's non-renewable resources and the serious mistake that was made was to treat them like they were infinite.

Even if I had the inclination I couldn't afford to buy land, tools, seeds, or any of the other multitude of things required to start a farm. If you're interested in the adventures of someone who actually did make a serious try at it please go over to Gfid's blog North of Sanity where she's been describing a time more than 30 years ago when Canada still had some free land on offer. Her experience provides a very entertaining story about what most of us city bred types could hardly imagine doing.

What I am good for is doing all the things we're able to do with the support of modern conveniences. I can cook, clean, read, write, drive, draw, and even ride a bicycle. What I can't do is figure out how to save the world for future generations to enjoy, but if anything is ever going to change for the better, I think alienation is a good place to start. There's a lot worth being alienated from. You don't have to be ashamed of feeling alienated by a world filled with evil, stupidity,  greed,  and injustice. We've all fallen into the world as it is but if our children's children are to be free,  maybe imagining a different world - a world in which we would feel at home - is a good place to start.

Keep smiling.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

little distractions

Before I say another thing I want to tell you just how grateful I have been for your wonderful and heartfelt reactions to my sad announcement that my friend had died. There are some people we encounter who actually define our lives by their presence in the world. Inger was and is one of those very rare individuals.

I finished this painting a couple of weeks ago and had been planning to show it to you in a new post at the time. Now it's the first and only thing I have available to show you at all so that's what I'll do. It's far from one of my best efforts but, even though the message isn't clear (even to me), it at least changed in mood from the drawing done in late summer when I was thinking about reflections. This one is more about the distractions that appear just as we're on the cusp of some momentous understanding. It seems to me that our lives are often more about the little things that distract us while we imagine we're making our way to larger goals.

There have been many interesting developments these past weeks in the world at large and I'm sure Crow will have a few things to say when he returns. Meanwhile, I'll gather my thoughts and my pencils and will make an effort to be verbal again.

Much love to you all.

Monday, October 24, 2011

you say good-bye

It was just a week ago I got word that one of my closest friends had died quite suddenly and most unexpectedly. A few days earlier we'd spent an hour on the phone talking about whatever occurred to us as the clouds blew past our separate windows on our shared planet. There were never planned times for talking but every so often it would occur to one or the other of us that it would be a fine time to hear the other's voice. Our conversations, Inger's and mine, were more like duets of love, laughter and shared impressions of whatever was occurring in that moment or something we'd seen or noticed previously suddenly remembered.

When I first met her in Montreal she was a master weaver from Sweden. Years later she had become a Sufi living in Philadelphia teaching peace and loving kindness. More than that it's almost impossible to describe the 40 years we shared.

Yes, I've mourned her absence this past week and will for a long time to come. Here on Earth Inger was the most gracious and beautiful person I've ever known but, all in all and all things considered, there was no one more prepared to step away at a moment's notice. I will love her always.

May the long time sun shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure light within you
Guide you all the way on. *

from A Very Cellular Song by the Incredible String Band

addendum November 7th: I received this beautiful memorial from Inger's husband this morning and felt it should be added to the post: 

From Qadir Bibi's husband, Rick Asma'el:

Her leaving was a loss for everyone who knew her.  It has been almost 3 weeks since she left, and not a day goes by that I am not sobbing at the fact that never again in this life will I be able to hear her voice and touch her hand and be awed by the gentle light-love upon her face and in her heart.   

But she loves God and even in the last hour of her life, she was urging me to trust in Him more than in the doctors who worked so hard to help her.   She taught me Love, taught me to trust it and to give it unhesitatingly and fearlessly.   Our Sheikh, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, is the light of our hearts and Souls;  Qadir Bibi's love within my heart is now inseparable from God's love and wisdom.   

She has not gone from my life, but has entered another room in my heart;  just as she has entered another room in her Soul-life.   My prayer for her is that her intention for surrender to God is accepted and that she becomes comnplete Divine Light, then returns to all our hearts and own  love.   

I mourn her passing, I miss her every moment, but I am immensely grateful to have had 18 years to love her and to be loved by her.  

She would not have us grieve.  What she would say is, "Do not miss me, but love each other as God loves you."  She would say it humbly and mean it and this is her beauty.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

r-evolutionary Crow

Naturally, Crow couldn't bear sitting around in his library once he heard about OWS so he's gone off to the festivities. Sometimes I get a bit jealous of his ability to flit across world borders without even so much as a passport. Now that he's been there for a couple of days he's sent a list of his favorite sign slogans to share with you. He promised to bring me a t-shirt just like the one he's wearing so long as I remember to save him some brandy.

I dream of a better world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.

The evolution will not be terrorized.

Support your local police - Beat Yourself up.

You'd be home by now - if you lived in your car.

Screw us and we multiply.

You're damn right it's our business.

Too broke to fail.

Class war is the best war.

If the system is corrupt, how could reform be the answer?

1% is the loneliest number that you've ever seen.

You can't arrest an idea.

Let's bring on Ayn Rand's nightmare.

NYPD is a layoff away from joining us.

When tyranny is law, revolution is order.

Obama 2012 - Excuses we can believe in.

The beginning is near.

Lost my job, found an occupation.

Growth economics is a suicide cult.

Respect existence or expect resistance.

Due to recent budget cuts, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off.

Too big has failed.

Man, proud man,
Dressed in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
As make the angels weep.

-William Shakespeare

So have you heard any good ones he missed?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

unrealistic utopia

During my wanderings of the internets recently I found this example of a relatively inexpensive housing project that's under construction somewhere outside of Houston. The idea is to use 500 shipping containers outfitted with solar panels and other green technologies as affordable housing for whoever feels like experimenting with a different community lifestyle. My first thought was that it looks a lot like the Alamo and would probably be just as easily defended but to what purpose is anybody's guess - except perhaps as a retreat during the zombie apocalypse. The executives in charge of the Hive project describe it thus:

The containers will be easily affordable for working artists and creative professionals. Rents will range from $300 to $500 a month, and purchase prices from $10,000 to $50,0000, depending on how built out the container is — many of the containers will be offered as just shells with electricity and plumbing to give tenants creative freedom in their design. A variety of tenant uses will be offered in the square 288-container perimeter, including office, studio, retail, restaurant, entertainment, and residential. The goal is to have everything a regular village has: a farmers’ market, a veterinarian clinic, a daycare, a health clinic, recycling centers, art studios, coffee shops and more.

On the one hand it's kind of a cool idea but there are a few problems that immediately occurred to me and its sustainability is certainly questionable. For one thing, it's going to be built miles away from town on 6.5 wooded acres of land. Cars won't be allowed inside the perimeter but I saw no mention of grocery store, school, post office, movie theater, roller rink, museum, or any place where someone might go to earn a living. Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to place such a development close to where people already live? If they built it instead on some huge area of urban blight or rehabilitated the soils of an abandoned industrial complex and placed it there sustainability would be much more realistic.

Oh, nevermind. Let's just watch a little movie I found instead.

In The Fall from Steve Cutts on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ishmael and Crow

Since it originally became very popular in 1992, it's pretty likely Daniel Quinn's book 'Ishmael' is old news to you. I'm sure I passed it by any number of times during my weekly sojourns to Powell's in Portland but one day last week when Crow was going through some documents he came across a picture taken of him and his old friend years ago. We talked about Ishmael's views regarding how humanity divided into two distinct groups about 10,000 years ago when agriculture first gained a foothold around the fertile crescent of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The people who elected to stay in one place to farm the land Ishmael called Takers while the ones who preferred to continue their wandering ways he identified as Leavers.

Although his theory is valid, it's somewhat oversimplified for my taste and understanding about the general history of that period. It was just about 10,000 years ago that the last Ice Age ended quickly and produced a climate change significant enough to make food gathering much more difficult than it had previously been. The change to farming rather than following the herds while gathering what edibles could be found among the trees, grasses and tubers produced by nature was very difficult. Archeologists have determined from skeletal remains that the early generations born among the first farmers were noticeably smaller than their hunter-gatherer cousins. However, this soon changed and before long the farmer society formed divisions in its make-up we'd recognize today. Soon there were kings and standing armies to defend the land they had and grab as much more as they could defend. We can well understand that over the course of time the Leavers became more and more marginalized, until today when there aren't many left.

“It's the idea that people living close to nature tend to be noble. It's seeing all those sunsets that does it. You can't watch a sunset and then go off and set fire to your neighbor's tepee. Living close to nature is wonderful for your mental health.”

 There's no doubt that the hardships endured by those early farmers has led to the benefits many of us take for granted today but the fact remains that our headlong rush toward continuing 'progress' has brought us to the brink of planetary climate disaster. The first Industrial Revolution began with the use of fossil fuels and since then we've discovered how to dig deeper for minerals, fish the oceans with larger nets, divert rivers with ever bigger dams and canals, appropriate more habitats of other species and cut down forests with more powerful land clearing equipment. One day last week Earth Overshoot day passed pretty much unnoticed but every year it happens a bit earlier that we exceed our annual use of the world's natural resources. It's the kind of debt the bank can't forgive even if was of a mind to do so.

“We're not destroying the world because we're clumsy. We're destroying the world
because we are, in a very literal and deliberate way, at war with it.”

I see the Occupy Wall St. movement as another harbinger of a growing world-wide movement for a change in the way we live on Earth. It may not be articulated as such but people need something to work for rather than laboring to produce more and more useless stuff from dwindling supplies. Better to do nothing rather than dig one more oil well in deep water or pave one more wetland for a big box store full of goods most of us neither need nor can afford. Now that unemployment has reached massive proportions many of us are already learning to live with less than we thought we needed. Understanding that true wealth lies in a new era of progress without growth might be a smaller step than we realize. The Transition Movement is already gaining some ground in building healthy communities with thriving economies and healthy natural environments.

It's not my habit to write long posts and this one is already quite big enough so I'll end with a final favorite quote from Ishmael:

“If the world is saved, it will not be saved by old minds with new programs but by new minds with no programs at all.”

Yesterday I saw some people carrying an Occupy Halifax sign. ♡

Thursday, September 29, 2011

space race

Alpha from The Animation Workshop on Vimeo.

When the space programs were in their earliest incarnations I always felt sorry for the dogs and other animals who were sent up in rocket ships never to return to earth. Poor Alpha has been captured and coerced into participating but although the results might not surprise you I think you'll find his journey to astronaut status as amusing as I did.

There are some truly amazing animation studios around these days proving that not all new art is bad.

Far from it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

golden age masters

Longer ago than I prefer to remember my parents acquired all 51 volumes of the original Harvard Classics, works of literature that were considered by the then president of the university to be essential reading for an educated person circa 1909. In the late '50's I was far too young to be fascinated by Aristotle, Dante, Hobbes, Shakespeare, or Voltaire, to name but a few, but Volume 17 was a different story. In it were all of the original stories of Aesop, The Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen which I got to read before stories like Snow White or Beauty and The Beast were Disneyfied.

It's quite likely nobody reads them anymore but even after all this time I still remember Andersen as one of my favorite writers of children's literature. Unlike Aesop and the Grimm's collected fairy tales he actually wrote the stories published under his name. Many of them are just a little too ironic to be labeled as classic fairy tales with the pre-supposed happy endings the term implies. His stories are more complex and the resolutions don't depend on the type of magic fairy stories usually rely on. Rather than spells and transformations Andersen allows readers to draw magic from the edges of our own imaginations.

Among my favorites is the Little Mermaid, a coming of age story about a mermaid princess who discovers the world above the waters and becomes obsessed by a human prince she saves from drowning. Tragically, she discovers that her current form makes her unsuitable to love a prince and, worse still, that she has no soul. To satisfy her dreams she must become human but only by winning the love of the prince will she gain an immortal soul. (The 'Christian' in Andersen's name was not without meaning.)

A sea witch crone gives her a potion that will change her fish tail into legs but irony dictates her every step is at the cost of continuous pain. The potion has also made her mute - a tragic loss for a siren whose ability to sing defines her identity. Her grace and beauty attracts the prince to love her as a sister, but not enough to recognize her as the girl who saved his life. Now she experiences a double irony since her sacrifice allows her to be close to him but unable to close the gap between them.

Meanwhile, family politics arrange for the prince to be betrothed to another princess, a girl so beautiful that when he meets her he becomes convinced it was she who rescued him. The little mermaid now has come to a dilemma. She has neither union with the prince nor can she she return to being a mermaid. Doomed to spend the rest of her life in pain, she will eventually die without an immortal soul. Andersen doesn't let it happen by supplying a twist wherein the mermaid’s sisters sacrificed their beautiful hair in exchange for a knife she can use to kill the prince and end the sea witch’s spell. In the end, Christian morality wins and the mermaid, who can't bring herself to murder the man she loves, kills herself by jumping into the sea and merging, as mermaids do, into its foam.

In the original story Andersen let it end there, but his editors wouldn't allow such a tragic conclusion to a story meant for children. He introduced air spirits. By becoming one, the little mermaid can serve as a guide for the proper behaviour of children and if she does her job well, will be able to earn an immortal soul. I don't know about you but I prefer the irony of the original ending.

Edmund Dulac, my favorite of the Golden Age illustrators, created some very beautiful paintings for this classic story. I hope you've enjoyed seeing them as much as I always do. Now I'm going back to re-read The Snow Queen which I once thought of illustrating myself just to see if I could.

Friday, September 23, 2011

a walk with Crow

This morning as susan and I strolled along the beach she mentioned that my absence from her blog had been noted. This is true and I do apologize if this has caused any consternation. The fact is I've been sequestered in my library for long hours in a vainglorious attempt to write a book for my animal friends on the subject of human intelligence. After copious rewrites the only thing I have to show is a pamphlet. Yes, yes you people have made huge strides in all sorts of ways that benefit you - I won't argue that. Yet I wonder who among you wouldn't agree, if asked to take my point of view, that so much of this achievement has a hollow ring. Let me spell out a few of my concerns for you in brief.

You'd think, given a planet that's 70% covered in water and 10% covered by mountains, deserts, and snow covered wastelands in a solar system with no other habitable biospheres that people would be careful of the real estate. You'd think they'd develop an intelligent approach to land use. You'd think they wouldn't fight stupid little wars over useful areas of terrain, wouldn't deploy weapons and energy generating systems that could render the land useless for human and animal habitation for centuries to come. You wouldn't think they'd knowingly pollute their water with poisons. You wouldn't think they'd fill the air with chemicals and the crops with genetically modified pesticides - what you call a pest is dinner to many of my friends. You'd never imagine a sensible race would chop down forests and pave the continents with asphalt and pipelines. Well, you wouldn't, would you?

The worst effects of human depredations could be overcome if you acted in concert to live in harmony with your environment as all other animals do. The trouble is that many of you aren't able to come to this conclusion on your own. The birds I've spoken with have told me you interpret their cries as simple bad temper rather than the urgent communication about danger they've been trying to establish.

We may have come up with a solution. Not only have the birds been studying you but now the parrots who have lived closely enough with humans to learn your languages have returned to the wild to teach the flocks how to speak. Perhaps when the day of reckoning comes it won't be zombie armies or hordes of robot warriors bearing deadly cleaning implements. Instead, you may witness the cockatoo apocalypse when millions of birds the world over stand outside your windows to shout:

I bid you a temporary farewell as I retire once more to my library with a fresh pot of espresso, an old fruitcake, and a snifter of Remy. This search of my files for anecdotes about human intelligence is a trying procedure. Meanwhile, susan has agreed to forward any remarks you see fit to leave for my attention.

Salutations, dear friends.

Monday, September 19, 2011

surface details

Just in case you've been wondering what I've been up to lately here are a couple of the sketches I've been playing with in the past couple of days. Neither of them is actually done or even close to it in the finished sense but I'm tending to lean toward refining the seated lady more than the mirror woman. Both tell something of a story but the reflection on outward form and stretching time to some machine like plastic being interests me less than the contemplative aspect of the other. I'm curious about what it is the seated lady may be considering.

A long time ago I spent my painting time trying to reproduce modern versions of the work done by the 19th century watercolorists whose work I continue to admire more with passing time. Although I did come up with some interesting images I never did manage to capture the look of both innocence and wisdom I was trying to portray. It's no longer the 19th century or even the early 20th and my imagined version of the tranquility of those times is currently in abeyance. I'm not a particularly realistic person when it comes to my preferred memories or thoughts about the past but I do believe there was a time not so very long ago when mutual respect was more common. Things are going much faster now but nobody knows the ultimate destination.

I think we each must have a better world we dream about in order to allow for a better place to grow. My plan is to continue spending the time I have imagining and painting a prettier one. Whatever your skills and interests I hope you will keep on doing so too.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

free ride on space ship earth

Camtrac from Dan Eckert on Vimeo.

Having found both of these pieces earlier in the week I thought they'd make a nice set. There have been and continue to be some people in the world whose vision is exquisitely clear. I continue to hope a little will rub off on me.

A Letter from Jack Kerouac to his Ex-Wife:

I have lots of things to teach you now,
in case we ever meet,
concerning the message that was transmitted to me
under a pine tree in North Carolina
on a cold winter moonlit night.

It said that Nothing Ever Happened, so don’t worry.
It’s all like a dream.
Everything is ecstasy, inside.
We just don’t know it because of our thinking-minds.
But in our true blissful essence of mind is known
that everything is alright forever and forever and forever.

Close your eyes,
let your hands and nerve-ends drop,
stop breathing for 3 seconds,
listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world,
and you will remember the lesson you forgot,
which was taught in immense milky ways
of cloudy innumerable worlds
long ago and not even at all.
It is all one vast awakened thing.
I call it the golden eternity.
It is perfect.

We were never really born,
we will never really die.
It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea
of a personal self,
other selves,
many selves everywhere,
or one universal self.

Self is only an idea, a mortal idea.
That which passes through everything, is one thing.
It’s a dream already ended.
There’s nothing from staring at mountains months on end.
They never show any expression,
they are like empty space.
Do you think the emptiness of space will ever crumble away.
Mountains will crumble, but the emptiness of space,
which is the one universal essence of mind,
the one vast awakened-hood,
empty and awake,
will never crumble away because it was never born.

The world you see is just a movie in your mind.

If this is true I wonder why I tend to be tuned in to the wrong channel most of the time?
It must be the fault of gravity.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

the rider pauses to reflect

Although the NASA space shuttle program finished its last mission this summer telescopes on earth and in space have continued to watch the stars. The scientists who operate the Kepler Space Telescope announced a bonanza of distant planets earlier this year, reconfirming that solar systems, some possibly hosting life, are common in the universe. It seems that water is very prevalent in space as are stars with solar systems - more than 700 have been discovered already.

Naturally, once we start thinking about other rocky planets similar in make-up to our own our thoughts will naturally turn to the idea there may be beings that live on them. It's true that the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence has been going on for about 50 years with the advent of SETI and its search for radio signals. Of course, it would be fascinating if beings from another civilization actually did get in touch but it seems to me even more likely that intelligent life on other planets simply has no interest in or physical ability to manipulate technology. Space is such an enormous concept that to my knowledge only investment bankers and Ben Bernanke have come up with numbers to match the distances. Does a trillion or two in debt make a few dozen light years more reasonable in our ability to understand the concept that a message to and from a distant star might take several thousand years to complete? I don't think so.

Anyway, if by some miracle we ever do get to meet an alien species, how would we hope to converse with them? Are there alien beings closer to hand with whom we could communicate? The answer is that researchers in several places in the world have been working to establish communication with dolphins - those beings who have proportionately large, sophisticated brains developed in areas linked to higher order thinking. Some studies even suggest dolphins share their own language. All are qualities we’d hope to see in an alien, and no daydream of contact is complete without imagining a conversation. Yet with dolphins, every attempt has involved teaching them to speak our language, rather than meeting in the middle.. until now:

CHAT — Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry — designed by behavioral biologist Denise Herzing's team at the Wild Dolphin Project in Florida is a device built to help humans communicate with dolphins directly. It’s a small unit worn around a diver’s neck, connected to a pair of hydrophones and a simple keyboard that can be used with one hand or a dolphin's nose. The idea is to sidestep the issue of whether dolphin ‘language’ can be translated by setting up the option of a common artificial language that both humans and dolphins could use. So far they've found that dolphins do some extremely interesting things from the standpoint of possible language. They can emit whistles and barks, use echo location, and seem to understand a basic syntax, which might indicate the difference between a statement and a question, or differentiate between a past or future tense. It would be amazing to hear how a dolphin sees the world.

Besides learning to use tools there is a very social nature to intelligence and to be social, we must be communicative. Learning about how other species on our own planet use their intelligence will eventually help us to learn more about the universe, whether we ever get to meet inhabitants from other stars or not. If the overall lesson for our lives is that we gain mutual respect for other beings on every level that would be good indeed. Looked at that way even Facebook means progress.

I like to think there are beings swimming in seas under alien suns who also wonder about the mysteries of creation. Goodness knows that's what I sometimes do when my wrist gets tired from drawing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

happy new year

Just this past May Paul Simon played in concert in Toronto. During the show Rayna Ford, a fan from Newfoundland, called out for Simon to play "Duncan," and said something to the effect that she learned to play guitar on the song. In a moment of astonishment and disbelief, Paul Simon invited her on stage, handed her a guitar and asked her to play it for the crowd. When she strapped on the guitar, the audience went crazy. In a few strums, the band played along, tears ran down Rayna Ford's cheeks and Simon stood by her side in smiles. It was so neat I had to show you.

It's September now, the end of summer, the Labor Day weekend, the beginning, in a way, of another new year. My two oldest friends both have birthdays coming soon - Belle's is tomorrow and Inger will see her own new year begin next week.

"You can go through life and make new friends every year - every month practically - but there was never any substitute for those friendships of youth that survive into adult years. Those are the ones in which we are bound to one another with hoops of steel."
Alexander McCall Smith - The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

It's also the fourth anniversary of Phantsythat and I'm so glad to know you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

no man is an island

“Let’s blow this fascist popsicle stand!  Purchase a small island somewhere, and start our own country.” 
– Montgomery Burns

Getting away from it all by starting a country is an interesting idea but it appears there are no spare uninhabited islands that don't already belong to some larger country that frowns on claim jumpers. Remember the entire British Navy setting sail for the Falklands? Since it's difficult, bordering on impossible, to find places that don't fall under some national jurisdiction there are those who have become enthusiastic about turning abandoned oil rigs into their own separate countries.

These ideas always seem to be presented by people who have better skills making architectural photo-shop models than they do in the real world where things tend to get messy. In fact, things already are pretty messy. Did you know there are 27,000 wells in the Gulf of Mexico, many of which are already abandoned? Since I thought I'd limit this post to old oil drilling platforms as potential living spaces there's not much reason to mention that according to The American Petroleum Institute there are approximately 2.5 million abandoned oil wells in the continental US. I had to mention it because we can't solve problems we don't know about. It seems that ever since the first well was drilled in the US in 1859 the practice has been to walk away shortly thereafter. It's far from being a strictly American problem as experts in the subject have estimated there are likely to be 20-30 million of them globally. Many were wildcatted long before there were any capping techniques or regulations and far too many have never been identified. Capping has usually involved nothing more than pouring some cement down the hole and, as we know from looking at highways and bridges that haven't been continually repaired, things can go badly wrong.

Anyway, back to our abandoned oil platform home sweet home. Although I believe the concept to be fairly chimeric - how many of you would enjoy sitting on a palm tree planted oil platform during hurricane season in the Gulf? - there might be some advantages insofar as people having a reason to monitor further oil and gas leaks. The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster came as a profound shock and wake-up call last year when many of us first learned about the dangerous practice of deep water drilling. The oil industry, inarguably the wealthiest enterprise in the history of humanity, has opted to spend a small portion of its profits by influencing governments to deregulate or not enforce laws on the books. Oil and gas leaks continue to cause massive damage to the environment as a whole and to the ocean in particular.

There are so many problems in the world right now and this is a very small blog but I have to point out the old saying that ignorance of the law is no excuse under the law. It's quite obvious that the same rule should apply equally to environmental crimes. The fact is that there are no islands left where we can start again. As Bill McKibben said:

"We've built a new Earth.
It's not as nice as the old one;
It's the greatest mistake humans have ever made,
One that we will pay for literally forever.
We live on a new planet.
What happens next is up to us."

Sayonara from Eric Bates on Vimeo.

The oil companies have money enough to pay for superfund clean-ups of the areas already defiled. Perhaps the day will come when the uber rich will realize there are no islands for them to run to either.

We live in hope.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

everything whirls

Derviche Tourneur from Réno Violo on Vimeo.

The Mevlevi Order of Sufis of Turkey, the ones we know as the Whirling Dervishes, are monastics whose prayerful dances are rarely seen. When they do appear in public nobody applauds because the audience understands they are witnessing a ritual trance that unites them with God. The Order was founded in the 13th century and named after Mevlana Jalal al-din Rumi who ended one of his poems with the line: 'dazed by the marvels of love, our whirling endures'.

The Dervishes make very precise movements with their hands while turning and every gesture is symbolic. The right hand is turned upward to receive Allah's grace and the left hand is turned down to convey that grace to earth. The left foot is kept as still as possible.

I found a video of a tanoura dance based on dervish technique which is often used to entertain tourists and parties in Turkey and Egypt. I'd never seen it before and thought you might enjoy it too. The dancer may not be a Dervish but you can see just how mesmerizing it is to witness the whirl taken to a whole different level.

A Dervish turns from right to left embracing all creation as he chants the name of God within the heart for the enrichment of this earth and the well-being of all.

Maybe we should all dance for that even though whirling would make most of us fall over.

Monday, August 22, 2011

another story

There's a new Adventure next door just a few weeks after the last. I wonder if I'm getting back into the habit of writing them? I wonder why the drawing is easier than the writing? I wonder if I'll ever put them in chronological order or if that's even necessary?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. There was certainly a lesson in it for me.

ps: Did you ever have a perm?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

playing for change

Every year around this time there's a Busker's Festival held at the Halifax harbor boardwalk. These days I prefer avoiding crowds whenever possible - at least crowds of holiday makers whose main interest seems to be lining up at food vending stands. Call me cranky and I won't argue.

Anyway, yesterday we had some business to attend to a few blocks over at a place that's on the direct route to the busy summer waterfront. As we walked across the bridge to the ferry terminal we heard a few young guys attempting to play a Crosby, Stills and Nash song. Strangely, we'd passed the disabled man whose usual summer spot that is driving his wheelchair along Barrington St. a few minutes previously. He busks in the city year round playing Acadian music on a battered old accordion but it appeared he hadn't been invited to the event.

A few minutes later as we made our way through the people thronging the first batch of food stalls we heard something amazing. It was Andean music and the musicians were very, very good. They were set up under a small awning just to one side of the main walk where there was little space for an audience to stand, and certainly no place to sit. We stood in the bright sun for close to half an hour while people walked directly past them, sometimes even kicking the guitar case placed for donations. The four musicians didn't seem to mind as they continued to play their magnificent haunting music. Besides how wonderful it sounded what was really amazing was to see them switch the traditional instruments during the course of playing individual pieces. It's very rare to see such virtuosos in performance and we felt very blessed to be there in person. Eventually they stopped for a short break and we walked on.

As we continued on our way we saw several other acts playing at much better stages. A couple of hip-hop artists were entertaining an audience sitting on bleachers and benches near their space. Further along a large number of people were enjoying a karaoke contest at another well set up performance area. The last act we saw before we left the harbor was a young guy at a prime site who was balancing a power lawn mower on his chin while a couple of audience members threw heads of lettuce at the rotating blades. Now I don't have anything against hip-hop, karaoke, or bizarre balancing acts but I thought it was rude to make the musicians from Ecuador play in the midst of what was essentially a sidewalk.

So in honor of their magical concert I have drawn a picture. I hope it's one that lets you almost hear the music they played.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

tiny adventure

I mentioned a couple of days ago that sometimes all we can manage are tiny steps when the big ones are just too much. Afterwards I found myself thinking about some of my earliest memories and wrote a little Adventure you can find next door. It's not much of a story but does seem to indicate certain tendencies that would develop later. If I'm going to add to the memoirs I figured I may as well start over near the beginning.

If you have a minute I hope you'll enjoy it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

what next?

Just so you know I'm still here and not completely a ghost of the internets I thought I'd show you a new drawing. At the moment I'm not sure if he'll become a character in a painting whose form hasn't become clear to me or if this is just another of those images that come and go. The good thing about having a blog is that I can leave him here to graze in a place where someone may see him and wish they could pat his soft nose. I love horses. Just the sight of one reminds me of a simpler way of living that's been lost to most of us - at least for the time being.

I've been thinking about writing and drawing a story but just seeing shadows and glimpses instead of an entirety makes it difficult. I prefer being positive. I don't like conflict but struggle seems to be a major part of the reason we're here. If nothing bad ever happened we'd have little reason to talk to each other and certainly no cause for compassion.

Perhaps I should simply continue writing and drawing the Adventures and see what develops. Tiny steps when we're not strong enough for leaps and bounds will have to do.

In the meantime I made some more bracelets.

Now I've put the beads away for at least another ten years.
Sustained acts of compulsive behavior can make a person very tired.
They can also drive you crazy.
I think I may have figured out what's wrong with our culture.
There may be a story in it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

a better summer beach

Summer days are long and the computer box gets very warm in my lap - a condition I'm sure is no good for either of us. My preferred pool is about 30 miles away at a place called Crystal Crescent Provincial Park where we wandered to one Sunday morning quite recently. The funny thing is that we drove and drove going from one small road to another through charming unspoiled landscapes and seaside villages only to find ourselves on a narrow winding track that was paved by gravel. Sure that we'd found a secret getaway, since there'd been nobody in front of or behind us for miles, we were startled to find about a thousand cars in the first big parking lot with more stopped by the ditches. We traveled onwards and found a second lot a few hundred yards further along where the road simply ended. We got out and started walking to see sights like these. I'd decided not to take my camera because I wanted to play in the water but was sorry not to have it once we arrived so I 'borrowed' these. Scale is hard to show without references but there's more white sand than you can see here and the granite bedrock is colossal. If CR, Marja-Leena, or Randal reads this please note the area is in serious need of good photographers.

Happily we'd already passed the busiest beach so walking through the surf was pretty much as you'd imagine. The water may have been icy but it felt delicious and the sand was only littered by more sand and a few deceased crustaceans. I should mention the seagulls were some of the biggest and most contented looking I've seen.

We climbed the gorse covered slopes and along the granite outcrops that overlook the sea and sat for a while just watching and listening. I loved it but next time we go it will not be on a bright and sunny weekend day. Strangely enough, every little beach we've seen around here has lifeguards on duty but Crystal Crescent has none. Perhaps it's because the water is too cold for swimming 11.5 months of the year. The park is huge, much larger than expected, so next time we go we'll be prepared for a long hike around the perimeter.

One thing I didn't mention is there's a nudist beach further along the shore that we didn't hike to but I did see their list of rules:
'No walking to and from your car without clothing'
'No taking of photographs'
'Keep a respectful distance from other naturists'

Still being occasionally infantile, despite our advanced age, we couldn't help but make up more rules on the way back to the car. Every time I fell over laughing I found a few wild raspberries. Life is good.

Meanwhile, here at home a few days ago I went off looking for one thing and found something even better. Overtime is an amazing piece of work that I hope you'll enjoy as much as I did. All I know about it is that Oury Atlan is a French CGI specialist who currently lives and works in LA. I have a feeling Jim Henson would be touched by this film.

Overtime from ouryatlan on Vimeo.

I hope your favorite beach is closer.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

speechless saturday

Except for a few words written by someone far wiser than I. This is called 'Disappearance' by

by Thich Nhat Hahn
The leaf tips bend
under the weight of dew.
Fruits are ripening
in Earth's early morning.
Daffodils light up in the sun.
The curtain of cloud at the gateway
of the garden path begins to shift:
have pity for childhood,
the way of illusion.

Late at night,
the candle gutters.
In some distant desert,
a flower opens.
And somewhere else,
a cold aster
that never knew a cassava patch
or gardens of areca palms,
never knew the joy of life,
at that instant disappears-
man's eternal yearning.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

hidden treasures - other people's work part 2

The Etsy site has about 500,000 sellers according to their documentation. There's some nice stuff, there's some nasty stuff and every so often I'll notice something that's very clever.. not just clever in this case but ingenious. That's quite rare. I thought, just for the heck of it, I'd show you some items an actual famous artist has for sale there. Mark Bryan seems to have a similar viewpoint to me and to many of you which shows quite well in this painting called 'Republic of Amnesia'.

Now I'll show you one of the cellulose phones Mark Bryan has for sale on Etsy:

Are there monkeys in your head telling you things you don’t need to hear? Let’s face it, we all hear those guys yammering in the background and sometimes it’s just too much. You can “BE HERE NOW”. It’s time to say no to those monkeys. Breath deep and say to them “Shut the f… up!”

In addition to their fine craftsmanship and subversive message, each Lost Horizon Cellulose phone also comes with a generous service plan and user agreement : Lost Horizon agrees to provide free unlimited minutes for you to talk to your phone until you die. Our guaranteed GPS service will always be ready to tell you that you are right here, right now.

Lost Horizon phones are hand crafted (by my own pet monkey) from wood, paper, glue, a brass hinge, varnish, and one eight penny nail. They are approx. 4” tall, 2” wide and 1.25” thick. Included with each phone is a very nice fabric drawstring bag (again, made by my monkey) to store your phone safely. Your user agreement card fits nicely inside. Lost Horizon phones never require charging in order to function. An active imagination is all you will need.

Lost Horizon phones were designed by artist Mark Bryan (he’s famous) and each one features a print from an original oil painting and is hand signed by him. You may see more of his work at

Tags editgeekery,gadget,art,cell phone

As it's so well expressed on his website:

Humorologist C.W. Metcalf says humor and laughter do not exist in the absence of sorrow and tears, but co-exist as a balance of sanity. Mark Bryan's iconography, loaded as it is with multiple inferences, has the potential to make us laugh and also think about the frivolities and stupidities committed by so-called "enlightened" human beings . "Sometimes while I'm sketching," says Bryan, "I often feel like I'm taking notes at a dark comedy, but the play never ends, and they won't let us go home."
essay by Nicholas Roukes, Artful Jesters

His phones cost just $36 and I can't believe nobody has bought one yet. I think some people have had their senses of humor surgically removed.

I hope you'll have a look at his paintings and other cell phones. We all deserve a good laugh through the tears.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

a sunny day at the beach

It's mid-summer for those of us who live in northern latitudes but we always have a tendency to imagine or anticipate the opposite. This magnificent picture I found is what it looks like around here on a typical day six months from now. I know I'm supposed to be enjoying what I have and considering we experienced five very warm days followed by three wet, cold and rainy ones that other season is bound to prey on the back of my mind.

Last winter was cold and the wind knows how to blow hard in my new Maritime province. I like to walk so worst of all was having a bad coat - a raincoat with a light lining I wore in Portland suited me well there and was roomy enough to cover one of my office ready jackets. That turned out to be a lucky thing because by December last year I was wearing an undershirt, a turtleneck, a sweater, and an old fleece warmer under the coat to keep me cozy in sub-zero blasts on the nastiest days. I'm talking layers on layers. To add insult to injury that coat has lapels that would blow up and flap my cheeks as I walked so I was forced to hold them down. Now I know why northerners have rosy cheeks - it's because they constantly get slapped by flying bits of their clothing.

Anyway, I'd been keeping my eye out for a coat. I hate shopping and rarely buy anything other than replacements for what I prefer wearing but I'd been dreading another winter wearing that one. We walked past a shop downtown that had coats that looked just right and the sign in the window said 50% off. Naturally, that was a lie unless I was in the market for sundresses and t-shirts. The coat was expensive. It was also beautiful and guaranteed to be warm and weatherproof. It's the same kind of coat worn by the RCMP and the postal carriers. It has a coyote fur trim around the hood and even though I was assured the coyote was pleased to donate his pelt I was glad to see I can remove it so no one will ever know I participated in the fur market - even if it is the Canadian fur market and all the money goes to needy First Nations people. That's what Native Americans are called here.

So now I'm hoping all goes well with the immigration news because it appears I've made a commitment. I'm pretty sure I'd have little use for a Canada Goose Kensington coat in southern California, Virginia or the West Indies - my other choices for a nice place to spend winter.

Now let's get back to enjoying summer while it lasts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

calling Qatar

Now you may be wondering why my artwork hasn't been jumping off the virtual shelves over at my 'Etsy' shop and to tell the truth so have I. Okay, so you might not know I have a shop at that huge marketplace but I've kept it pretty quiet since reopening the spot a few months ago after a 2 year absence. I don't expect my blog friends to be ready to purchase some of the work I've done these past few years because you provide more than enough happiness for me when you tell me you like the pieces I've shown here. Anyway, I've been selected to be in a large number of circles, favorite lists, and a few treasury lists too but although Etsy sellers may appreciate one another not many have the funds for buying art.

It would be nice to be appreciated at a financial level by those who can afford to collect art and just this morning I discovered that the oil rich nation Qatar is in the market for contemporary work in a big way. Just as some of America's wealthy industrialists built up great collections of art in the 19th century now countries in the Middle East are doing much the same thing. Nobody really knows why and, considering the general Islamic proscription on figurative art, I have to think they are buying as many examples of modern Western art as they can simply because they can. Rothko, deKooning, Lichtenstein, Koons, and Warhol aren't well known as figurative artists anyway but their paintings have been sold recently for up to $73 million dollars each. I mean, what are billionaires supposed to do with all that money once they've stolen it? Invest, of course. The collections now moving to the Middle East and further east once belonged in private collections belonging to former wealthy American industrialists. There have also been rumors that museums have been selling works from public collections.

Anyway, I need to find a way to let those rich sheikhs and sheikhas know about my Etsy shop. Once they've bought a couple of pieces from me they can always go and have a look at some of the shops in my 'favorites' collection. That way everybody gets to make a little money and know their work is being appreciated by a sophisticated international audience. It's not like the artists they're collecting now are around anymore to accept the kudos.

I may have to raise my prices.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

halifax is hopping

Boy, it was hot around here the past few days with temperatures that must have been close to 80. There's a line of enormous cruise ships parked at the pier making me wonder who these days has the money to ride around on them? It's the Season in Halifax and if the sparkle from the water isn't enough to dazzle your eyes then the flashing diamonds of promenading matrons will do he job. Many of the tourists here for summer holidays find walking not to their liking but summer provides several choices for getting around town other than hiring a limo, hailing a taxi, or waiting an interminable amount of time for a bus. Here's a picture of one of them (taken by a news service) across the water from George's Island. There are many stories about that little place but this one isn't about that.

The horse drawn wagons travel the city streets at the stately pace of a strolling Clydesdale. I love horses and many times when I hear the gentle clopping and tinkling bells I look out the window to see them pass. It's also not unusual to see a long line of cars forced into a slow moving parade behind.

Another choice for those who prefer spending their time at outdoor bars and cafes or meandering along the harbor piers rather than hiking up and down hills is one of the big pinks. Retired from duty in London, double decker buses ferry weary tourists around the major historical sites of the city. I wonder why everybody seems to prefer the top deck?

Of course there are the boats that will take people out for harbor tours or even whale watching but that's a different thing. When you're planning to travel across broad stretches of water it's kind of handy to have a boat unless one is an exceptionally strong swimmer.

There is one means of transport seen around summertime Halifax that includes both city and sea and that's the Harbour Hopper. It can be quite disconcerting to see something that looks like a cross between a dump truck and a tugboat driving around the city streets and I must say that the passengers do tend to look a bit silly perched up in the back as it lumbers along. Nevertheless, I may have to ride on it one of these days even if I do have to wear a big hat and dark glasses so none of the other locals will recognize me. You see the Hopper is an amphibious vehicle that dives down a steep ramp into the water. It kind of looks like fun:

It's a bit strange living in a city that appeared to be fairly normal up until 2 weeks ago that has turned into a fun park for the infirm. I think I'll keep on walking.

Enjoy your days ♡