Friday, October 29, 2010

autumn diversion

Memories of morning on a planet far, far away where people and lizards know to treasure the wisdom of elderly tigers.

In honor of the upcoming US elections I thought I'd post a real radio transcript of a conversation that took place between a US naval ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland a few years ago:

Canadians: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
Americans: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north.
Canadians: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
Americans: This is the captain of a US navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Canadians: No. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Americans: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second biggest ship in the United States Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that you change YOUR course 15 degrees north. That's one five degrees north, or counter measures will be taken to ensure the safety of this ship.
Canadians: We are a lighthouse. Your call.

Sometimes all you can do is laugh.

Monday, October 25, 2010

foraging ground

The entirety of this painting has been up here before but not for a while. I like it well enough to post it again and may do so with a few more in order to keep up my blog presence while I work on some new images that I hope will please me.. and you eventually.

In Portland I once had an idea about painting pictures of little creatures I called Oregnomes. Instead of being the rather gnarly bark colored beings of old European folk tales, mine would be voluptuous, although still tiny, beings who'd spend their time being unnecessarily helpful. This is one of them - in fact, it might be the only one since I got bored with the plan almost immediately and went on to other things.

So here I am starting over again in a new place and feeling like I need to spend some time working on yet another slightly different way of interpreting the situation. Since that will take some time, I'll post some older work when I feel the need to mutter about something else totally beside the point. For me that's what blogging is about.

Thank goodness there are still so many of you with much more interesting things to say. That's why I keep returning.

Crow, in the meanwhile, has been off visiting warmer climes while excusing himself by telling me he had to make sure the swallows made it to Capistrano. He's likely to return soon so I'm keeping his perch warm while I try not to finish off his brandy supply. Have I mentioned it's getting cold here?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

natural magic

Sometimes I may miss posting because I have no picture and sometimes I have a picture and can't think of anything to say. This may be one of those.

Am I whimsical? I don't see myself as such but I do believe it's important to pay attention to what's going on in the world and, as a counterbalance, spend at least an equal amount of time contemplating an opposing view. So I paint another picture.

Then I ask myself just how disturbing do I find concrete reality?

'Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.'
~ Thich Nhat Hhan

Sunday, October 17, 2010

drift jumping

We had our first taste of maritime winter weather this weekend when a nor'easter spent the day blowing through. Happily, this time it wasn't cold but the winds were strong enough that the fountain across the way was spraying 30 feet sideways.

Speaking of winter, and I'd rather not but the fact must be faced, an interesting thing about Halifax is that all the apartments are provided with heat and hot water as part of the rent. Some, like this one, have electricity included too. What's fascinated me about this place is that there are no hot air vents, radiators or little heating units in the walls but we do have thermostats in every room. Some weeks ago I stepped inside the bedroom closet to get something from a shelf and noticed the floor was warm and realized then that all the floors would do the same. I never ran across anything like it before before so I looked it up:

'A radiant floor heating system simply radiates heat upward from the floor to provide optimum comfort and many other benefits. Here is an overview to how it works: A special heating wire is embedded in the slab, ultimately turning the floor into an efficient, low temperature radiator.
The number one benefit of a radiant floor heating system is comfort. Whereas a forced air system delivers heat which quickly rises to the ceiling – a radiant floor heating system "radiates" heat from the floor and delivers the heat evenly throughout the rooms.'

Now that's cool.. I mean warm. Plus, I unpacked my two winter coats, boots, gloves, scarves, and pogo stick. The man at the store told me everyone in Nova Scotia uses a pogo stick to hop over the snow drifts. I may go outside right now to get a little practice in while it's dark enough to hide my incompetence from the neighbors.


ps: The painting is called 'lemon moon' and you're right if you think you've seen a similar one before. I'm still practicing with colors so decided to try a different palette. Here's the other if you'd like to compare:

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Some things have turned out to be unexpected about our move to another country. Of course it's not that much other compared to the place we left but in some ways it's distinctly odd - or maybe it's me. Some things are better but not all.

For one thing banks are old fashioned and conservative enough to have a teller at every station. If you go to a branch bank in the US you're more likely to see a plastic plant with a sign in front that says 'next window please' but there is no other window.

Even if you haven't been officially accepted as a resident 'settler' yet (yes, still waiting for Immigration) the provincial government is still ready to provide free medical coverage. In the US without a good job you're left to pray you never get sick or trip on a broken sidewalk.

Books are very expensive and everything you can't eat is taxed at 13% in the Maritimes but the library lets you borrow 60 items at once. Maybe that's why there were hardly any books to be seen but there were lots of computer stations, magazines, cd's and dvd's and staff.

It takes a month to get a new credit card even if you have an excellent history. In the US people's infant children and dogs were still getting credit cards without asking.

It's much harder to order things online for delivery here and if you do get anything from the US, the import duties are high. In the US you can order pretty much anything at low prices with multiple delivery options.

Not that I'm planning to enroll but studying in Canada is affordable. Rates at American  public universities were almost one third higher than fees for Bachelor’s degrees in Canada, while US private university fees were more than double. Some Canadian degree programs are still just three years.

A KitKat candy bar costs $1.70 but today I bought a pashima scarf for $17.00.

The way I see it, if life insists on being a puzzle we may as well draw our own pictures. I'm still struggling with the art projects but I'm drawing and painting daily and hope to see some improvement soon. Practice might not make perfect but it can make better.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

seaside Crow

It's taking a little while to settle down to drawing and painting again but I'm getting there. You may remember this drawing from a couple of months ago. I rather like it in color and Crow is looking quite nostalgic.. or maybe he's wondering if I've remembered to replenish his Remy Martin. Of course I have and I found an antique fruitcake for him and his friend to share. Who said I wasn't considerate?

I hope you're having a good weekend.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

not too distant views

A few days ago after an especially nasty period of grinding, the workers actually spray washed our windows on their way back down the front of the building. In a very happy convergence, that evening showed us one of the prettiest sunsets we've ever seen anywhere. Nice, eh?

Don't worry. This giddiness about being in a new place will soon end and I'll get back to the grim business of paying attention to American politics and general evilness once again. In many ways I feel more like an ex-pat USarian than a returned home Canadian, a fact which is only natural in view of having lived on that side of the border most of my adult life.

I've been keeping track of the news these past weeks and it doesn't appear that my having left has improved things at all. (It had been a faint hope.) There was another huge rally of progressives in Washington last weekend that was either ignored by or ridiculed by the media so everybody went home again frustrated about the same things they'd been aggravated about previously - and now short the amount of money they'd spent getting there. I've never written about politics much around here but that doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention. It's just that so many others of you do it so much better and it's the one thing that makes me lose my sense of humor. Today I read March to Nowhere by Chris Hedges and to say he's irritated would be an understatement.

Maybe I should just stick to taking pictures of our weird neighborhood where holiday cruise liners can be found parked next to our grocery store. It's amazing the lengths some people will go to buy a nice 2 kilo bag of Canadian potatoes.


Monday, October 4, 2010

canadian sugar

Sometimes I need a little sweetness to overcome the more bitter aspects of reality. The result of our recent change of planetary address and circumstance has generally been very good but, contrary to any impressions of transitional ease I may have fostered, there have been a couple of stumbling blocks along the way. One of these days I'll get around to writing and drawing some new Adventures about a couple of incidents, admitting outright the details of just how dumb and naive a reasonably intelligent woman can be. It turns out I can on occasion be hilariously idiotic when stressed but, happily,  not fatally so. In fact, the mistakes likely saved us from potentially much worse results had they not been made.

While undergoing emotional changes, it became necessary to check on how much of the candy I remembered from my youth was still available in Canada and this little store was a good place to begin the investigation:

Mackintosh Toffee - This is a unique Canadian treat that starts out hard and becomes creamy soft as you chew. My having enjoyed a lot of it pre-fluoride may well have contributed to the long hours spent in dental office chairs later in life.

Bassetts Licorice Allsorts - The original Allsorts Licorice is an assortment of black licorice cuts, straws, sandwiches and buttons which turn my teeth temporarily black and are an excellent cure for constipation.

Coffee Crisp - Canadians typically will consume this chocolate coffee treat in layers, eating each layer separately, enjoying a unique taste with each layer. Yes, Canadians are weird too.

Smarties - Similar to M&M's but not quite. The words for the Canadian advertising jingle were:
"When you eat your Smarties, do you eat the red ones last?
Do you suck them very slowly, or crunch them very fast?
Eat those candy-coated chocolates, but tell me when I ask,
When you eat your Smarties, do you eat the red ones last?"
I used to like using the red ones as lipstick in the days before girls were given make-up kits at the age of 7.

Skor Toffee Crunch - Buttery toffee crunch wrapped in milk chocolate. I actually preferred sucking the chocolate off these and throwing away the toffee.

Ste Julie Cream Fudge - Cream fudge maple syrup candy. This was a delicacy I learned to appreciate as a grown-up along with the amazing maple sugar pie that apparently you can only buy in Quebec.

McCormick's Marshmallow Bananas or Strawberries - Dried out marshmallows not suitable for roasting. I may have seen something similar in the US but I wouldn't buy them there either.

Purity Candies - Purity is the famous candy company in Newfoundland whose specialty is Peppermint Nobs and Candy Kisses. Newfoundland is still on my list of places to go when the weather warms again and I may buy my first Nob when I get there. Considering ferry costs a Nob may be all I can afford.. or a beer.

Chris and Larry's Clodhoppers - Fudge covered graham wafer clusters that come in two mouth-watering flavours -  "Vanilla Fudge" or the original "Chocolate Fudge". I've never eaten either but I like the name.

Wine Gums - In unique and strange flavors wine gums (or winegums) are chewy, firm sweets similar to gumdrops, except they aren't sugar-coated. I once ate a pound of them on a childhood plane ride to England and threw up the whole lot when we hit air turbulence.

As with so many other things, many of the candies I remembered have been discontinued as the companies that made them were subjected to the type of corporate takeovers that have been the ruin of small businesses everywhere these past few decades. Black Magic Chocolates were my very favorite for years but Rowntree was bought by Cadbury who now produce fancy chocolates that taste of chemical additives and nobody likes that.

I wonder if there are sweet shops and candies you remember that can no longer be found?