Monday, December 1, 2008

Dec 08

2 Thanksgivings This Year...

In Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in October. It's associated with harvest time. This year I travelled to visit KC in Ann Arbor and from there we went to visit his sister Joanie and her husband Dick where we enjoyed a glorious sunny day and a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings in honour of American Thanksgiving.

Seems we always think of pilgrims and Indians and turkeys when thinking of that American Thanksgiving thing. Yeah, BUT, (as KC's internet browsing discovered) the first declared Thanksgiving holiday in the US was associated with the American revolution and was held early in December of 1777. From that time onward it was re-declared every year (sometimes twice a year!) usually with dates in late November or early December--until 1941 when President Roosevelt signed a bill making it a national holiday falling always on the fouth Thursday of November... and opening the doors to football and the Macy's parade now in it's 82nd year... and the official beginning of Christmas shopping.

Of course, in Canada we had our Santa Claus Parade the week before to kick off our own shopping spree. I guess it takes us week longer to do our shopping here.

This month's calendar shows Joanie's and Dick's turkey-ready table overlooking this small peaceful lake that was trying to freeze over in preparation for this winter's onslaught of skating and hockey and snowmobiles.

Lots for all of us to be thankful for... whether we do it with one turkey day or two.

Now get out there and shop!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Nov 08


November 11th is Kurt Vonnegut's birthday.

We watched from our easy chairs as the Olympic torch burned in China. My son Peter sent these pix from his Beijing sidelines: first a Beijing parking lot for market vendors. Yes, zillions of people peddled zillions of goodies to a market on zillions of bikes. Their drive to thrive economically is set against another sight for which we need no caption.

The Great Wall always reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut.

In his book, Sirens of Titan, I encountered Salo. From a world called Tralfamadore, he' a robot explorer built many millennia earlier to carry a message to a distant galaxy. His spacecraft is powered by the Universal Will to Become, or UWTB, the "prime mover" which makes matter and organization wish to appear out of nothingness. A small component on Salo's spacecraft breaks, stalling him in our Solar System. He requests help from Tralfamadore and hangs out on Titan waiting patiently for the part to arrive and observing distant planets, including our own Earth. Salo's fellow Tralfamadorians respond by manipulating human history so that primitive humans evolve and create a civilization in order to produce the needed replacement part. It turns out that the Great Wall of China (as well as Stonehenge and the Kremlin) is visible from Titan and is a message in the Tralfamadorian geometrical language informing Salo of their progress... so far.

I invite you to celebrate Vonnegut's day on the 11th. Is there something you feel compelled to do to encourage Salo in his long wait?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oct 08


I • A M • O F • T W O • M I N D S...

Every month I face the same dilemma: what shall I put on my calendar? Sometimes I've taken an image during the month that I've sort of earmarked as possibly calendar-worthy. Sometimes I just search through my old graphic and image files and see what has been lurking that might become calendar-worthy with some help. Sometimes someone else sends an image that becomes calendar fodder. Recently I even seconded some of my mother's early work.

Tonight I find myself facing the end of the month—again— and having nothing in my files ready for the new calendar. Kate has been visiting from NYC so my time is limited. Should I pore over the old images again? Should I ransack my old design files again? Should I grab my camera and take a new and purposeful image? Of what?

As you can see, I've decided not to decide. I'll just sit here and mull. Sometimes simple inaction is the best thing.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sep 08

Flags Outside and In

KC visited from Ann Arbor and brought this gift of little Tibetan prayer flags. They are traditionally found on rooftops, mountain passes, river crossings, gardens and other sacred places in the Himalayas. I hung mine on my curtain to enjoy in errant wafting breezes all day. The Tibetans hang them to promote peace, compassion and wisdom and they believe the energy of the prayers and sacred mantras on the flags are blown in the wind and will bring joy, happiness and good health to all who see them as well as their families, loved ones, neighbours, and all people throughout the world.

Here I share the flag's wishes with all of you. After all, KC wrote a book about compassion. We all have the responsibility to keep it moving... wherever the wind blows.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Aug 08

Those Three Little Words

Breath halts
In anticipation.
Yes, I know
What's coming next.
Quiet now
I contemplate
How the threeness
Of the words
Call out core of being.
Like Beethoven's
Dum, Dum, Dum
...then
Dum.
Three resolve
Into One.
Chords complete.
I sit quietly
In the knowing.
Here,
I share vision.
I close eyes and

Bite

Into

This

DARK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE

...then

YUM.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

July 08

O Canada! Happy Birthday to You!

Canada Day found us at Harbourfront along with thousands of other celebrants. Many opted to stand in line for the ferry to Centre Island. Our view from the shade showed us people learning to canoe and kayak, people walking and watching, ferries and other boats and Centre Island in the background. Lots of kids and dogs, lots of music, lots of sun and lots of water. A perfect day.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

June 08

Spring's Greeter... Friend or Foe?

North Americans decry
Dandelion's ubiquitous invasion.
Japanese praise
Her unwavering tenacity.

Grown-ups call her weed,
Endeavour to eradicate.
Kids just can't wait for her
Summer seed-blowing crown.

To a person standing on a piston
The world goes up and down.
Seems a lot rests
On our point of view.

I suggest we choose
The piston or the world.

The dandelion doesn't care.
She'll be here long after
Our own seeds face distant
Yellow-topped challenges
.

........Bette
........Toronto
........1 June 08

While you ponder your own point of view, let me encourage you to enjoy the dandelion's reincarnation in your path. If you gather the greens before the blooms appear they're less bitter and delicious added to your salads. For the blossoms, let me suggest this surprising Dandelion Blossom Syrup. It's a traditional European recipe that you can use it as a substitute for honey in any recipe to make it "wild."
........4 cups dandelion flowers
........4 cups water
........4 cups sugar
........½ lemon or orange (organic if possible) chopped, peel and all
Note: The citrus is optional, it will give the syrup an orangey or lemony flavor. If you want the pure dandelion flavor, you can skip the citrus.

Put blossoms and water in a pot. Bring just to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let sit overnight. The next day, strain and press liquid out of spent flowers. Add sugar and sliced citrus and heat slowly, stirring now and again, for several hours or until reduced to a thick, honey-like syrup. Can in jars. Makes a little more than 2 cups.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Happy Luke Skywalker Day
Polish your light saber today... and celebrate tomorrow with a couple of spicy tacos and an icy Tecate.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May 08

His name was Bill Robinson...
AKA Bojangles

Bill was born May 25, 1878. Orphaned as an infant, he was reared by his grandmother, Bedilia Robinson, who had been a slave, but he ran away at the age of seven to start his dancing career. No one knows how he came to be called “Bojangles” except that it appears to have been a somewhat generic nickname for vaudeville dancers. Bojangles Robinson danced in all the vaudeville halls and night clubs in the South and North. He changed the face of tap dancing forever, moving it from the buck-and-wing shuffling developed by the slaves to the lighter and crisper sounds we know today. He was already famous when he started his film career, which brought him to the whole world.

Was Bill Robinson the “Mr. Bojangles” Jerry Jeff Walker wrote his famous song about? Probably not. Instead of doing jail time (inspite of his two famous vices: ice cream and gambling), Bill Robinson donated his time selflessly to raise money for charities and lived in Harlem as the locality mayor. He died in 1949 and his funeral was the largest attended in the history of New York City. Adam Clayton Powell delivered his eulogy.

Maybe Jerry Jeff Walker didn't write about Bill Robinson, but he did find a way to link us with the universal joy and spirit that makes the Bojangles in each of us want to dance.

May 25th is now named as Tap Dance Day in honour of Bill Robinson. Get out there and do a few flaps, cramp rolls and shim sham shimmies to celebrate. I will.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Apr 08

My secret is out...
After all these years in the design mileau, I've decided to fess up. If you're someone who has had reason to read my resumé, you have seen that I have a degree in art from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Tis true. You probably thought, however, that my speciality was graphic design... or, as we used to call it, "commercial art." I admit to letting you assume that. I probably even encouraged you. After all, that's the industry you've found me in for years and years.

Today, tho, I'm announcing to everyone who wasn't around then: my speciality was sculpture. I was fortunate enough to study under a very talented man from England named Philip John Evett. He was a great influence with his guidance and non-stop puns. Go here to see what he's up to these days. www.philipevett.com

This month's postcard features a limestone carving I did then. I call her Wishful Thinking. She greets me at my door every day when I get home.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Mar 08

Realities in triplicate...
1. March has 31 days and all of them are herein included.
2. This epistle finds us still covered in snow in Toronto.
3. My snail-mail box shows proof of (2) above... even if it finds itself somewhat of a (well-designed) relic in today's e-age.
March entered with gentle lamb-like flurries, so I guess we should brace ourselves for an eom lion in the form of dramatic winds with snow and freezing rain. Time for us all to enjoy some good warm rental movies and Monopoly and Scrabble.
Bake something round and celebrate...
...the perfection of the circle

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Feb 08

Some scrapbook memories...
OK, you already know I'm an artist and you probably know my daughter Kate's an artist, too. I think it's high time you learn where it all started. My mother, Elizabeth Pollard, started her career about 1930 as an architect working for the firm M.C. Kleuser in Dallas, Texas. She designed several homes, a school and the clinic reno shown in the newspaper clipping below. The effects of the depression cut that career short. She went on to other things then married and had me. In her later years she discovered oil and watercolour painting. Like the Mexican courtyard scene below, many of her paintings involved architectural subjects... not a surprise.
Here's a little surprise, tho: see that clinic? The addition was for several doctors among them a Dr. Carrell. That was 1931. In 1963 I was studying sculpture at Trinity University in San Antonio and one of my classmates was a painting student named Richard Carrell Fisher... the grandson of Dr. Carrell. Here's wishing you a warm and romantic February, filled with fond memories of your own place in time and the pleasures of creating fresh new ones.
Leap Year Day...
Just buzzing by with your special Leap Year Day to add to your February calendar. How come none of you wrote me about my short-changing you with your Feb calendar?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Jan 08

Hopes... Wishes... Resolutions...
Now that the season of indulgence is past, we come to the season of change... The time we look for ways live up to our ideal potential. This month I offer you a taste of my personal determination to bring the best into my life. In this case, a glorious healthful drink presented with full visual impact... plus, it offered olfactory delights as well as crunchy topping for texture. How many senses does that make? (Thanks for Éric for the friendship and the pic.)