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.