Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April 2020

Just look at what the sun is bringing forth...

As many of us shelter in solitude,
Or cling together in personal situ,
Last month's promise of sunshine
Is unwrapping the way.

This is
Farley Hill National Park
In Barbados.
The 1818 mansion, setting for
Movie Island in the Sun, burned
The year I graduated from university.

It's perched atop a hill, overlooking
Both the Atlantic to the East
And the Caribbean to the West.

I think we all would like to
See life with a 360° perspective...
Only maybe we'd like our degrees
To be time-stamped.

This sun-drenched garden,
Glimpsed through long-abandoned windows,
Offers us all reminder

Of the sun's arc of promise.
And of Nature's determination
To renew...
To persist...

In the meantime, my friends,
I'll be watching from my balcony...
and thinking of you

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Pi Day 2020

Happy Pi Day, Ya'll

Friday, February 28, 2020

March 2020

The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la...
Bring promise of merry sunshine!

My balcony Buddha sits
In brief sunny aftermath of blustery
End-of-Feb snow whiteout...
While Spring’s promise
Explodes on my side of window...
And brings sweet memory.
Lubbock, Texas, spring of 1954.
First poem I ever learned...
By heart:

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead."

~Daffodowndilly, by A.A. Milne
The Grade 3 version of me
Knew naught of Spring
Nor of her promises.
I guess it got cold in the winter
But I don't recall any snow.
Craig Cooley and Eileen Lamplighter
And I still rode our bicycles
Around the neighbourhood
Dodging ubiquitous tumbleweeds.
I had no awareness of daffodils, either,
But our teacher showed us pictures
And had us make daffodil pinwheels
From yellow craft paper.
Craig and Eileen and I had great fun
Running home holding ours on high
As they whizzed and spun.
But, it was this poem
That captured my soul.
No, I didn't remember all of it.
I had to look it up.

But, see?
Sixty-six springs later
I know snow
And I yearn for spring
I am still captivated.

Many thank yous to Roy for the daffs!

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Friday, January 31, 2020

Feb 2020

Should We Say Year of the Rat?  ...or the Mouse?
Yes, the Year of the Rat is what everyone sees, but a local shopkeeper who is Chinese, tells me she always says "Mouse." She explains, "It's like Mickey Mouse! So much more friendly."  Of course, the Year of the Rodent-of-Some-Kind is all about tenacity, but also about fertility. Fertile tenacity. Tenacious fertility.

Of course, from an astrological point of view, fertility is about creativity—all forms of creativity. What a great focus for the year!

The Chinese year is a lunar calendar, of course, with the New Year falling on the New Moon between Jan 21st and Feb 20th. I have recently started teaching people how to track the moon's phases. Of course, I use astrology as the base for observing today's phases compared to our personal astrological natal chart. I'm pretty excited about sharing my reflections with others.

Here I show you my New Moon to New Moon announcement along with Canada Post's 2020 Year of the Rat/Mouse stamps. The Year of the Rat marks the first in the 12-year cycle.
As the Canada Post site says:
  • As legend has it, the rat earned the primary position thanks to its cunning nature. According to one story, the Jade Emperor based the 12-year cycle on the order in which the animals arrived at the heavenly temple. The rat persuaded the tireless ox, which was sure to win, to carry it to the finish line. Just as the ox approached the temple, the rat jumped down and scurried ahead to take first place.
  • Designed by Albert Ng, O. Ont., and Seung Jai Paek, the stamps present the traditional story of the wedding of the rat’s daughter in the style of folk art known as Chinese farmer painting. The permanent domestic-rate stamp depicts the bride on her way to her nuptials, while the international-rate stamp shows the happily married couple.
  • “A merry wedding procession of rats is a common folk-art motif associated with the Chinese New Year,” explains Ng. “The snowy scene, reminiscent of Canada or northern China, joyfully captures the celebration of the wedding – and the coming new year.”
Whichever name you choose to call them, these gnawers are getting married in the highest style marking their hopes for a prosperous year—and a lifetime filled with joyous creative issue.

On that note, I wish each of you a fecund year of your own favourite definitions of creativity.

If this isn't nice, what is?
              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Monday, December 30, 2019

Happy 2020!

3 Generations in Art...

Read this then click here to see the slide show.
(Best to download and watch on a big screen)

I know I think of us
As three generations...
But perhaps I should admit
We are maybe five.

It started with our family's
Own Elizabeth the First...
My great-grandmother.
She was a typesetter
Originally from Cambridge
Transplanted to Calvert, Texas,
And married to a newspaperman.
All four of their daughters
Learned to set type.
Of course.
I have samples of some
Of their childhood efforts.
My grandmother, one of those
In that typesetting bevy, died after
Giving birth to my mum.
My mum, then, became
Our family's own Elizabeth the Second.

Reared by her typesetting grannie
And two of those typesetting aunties,
My mum eventually became an architect.
At a time when women seldom ventured
Out of their homemaking roles,
She designed houses and clinics and schools
In Dallas, Texas.
She took up painting after I married and
Released her from a myriad of mothering tasks.
I had taken up painting, in university
In San Antonio, Texas,
Where I had majored in Sculpture.
But it was graphic design, mostly for packaging,
That became my focus, with little forays
Into oils and acrylics...
And designing an actual home in Toronto.
Years and a couple of trans-Pacific moves later,
I had my own daughter.
She later attended
An arts high school in Toronto,
Where she, too, took up painting—and more—before
She ventured into the work of becoming
A full-fledged mathematician:
Dr. Kate, now with tenure!

On this month's calendar, I show you
Some of my mum's work,
Plus a couple of Kate's and mine.
My mum always said Kate would
Out-shine both of us... indeed
She continues to do just that.

I've made a slide show I'm calling
Elizabeth, Kate, & Me—3 Generations in Art.
Download it and have a look.

It shows you some more of my mum's paintings
As well as more of Kate's and my art...
Paintings and more. Kate's selection
Even includes some book covers
She's created, just for fun, for some books
She particularly enjoyed reading this past year.
My own packaging production design
Belongs to my clients, so I can't show you...
But if you've ever gone shopping for groceries
In Wal-Mart in the US or Latin America or Germany...
Or Sobey's or Metro stores in Canada...
You've seen some of my work.
All-in-all, then, we three generations
Have a history of making stuff.
We're such show-offs, eh?

I want to thank Steve-Paul Simms
For letting me use his song, Lillian's Girls,
In my slide show. Steve-Paul is a very talented
Singer & songwriter... and my friend
For two decades. Steve-Paul is himself
In the throes of creation: his new album,
Ingrid and the Messenger Boy
Is due out in March. His previous albums are
Wall of Illusion (1999), Open City (2005) and Palpable Hits (2006).
Those of us in Toronto can catch him next
At the Tranzac on Sunday, Jan 26th, from 5-7 pm.

Have a great 2020, my friends,
And let us all see any stuff you create this year.
Let's all make 2020
The Year of the Show-Offs
And fill the world with joy and excitement.

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

P.S. I've cut my hair. Look at my new profile pic.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Dec 2019

Ruminating about returns...

On the day of our birth every year
The Sun returns to the same place in the sky
That it held on our first earthly day ever.
We call these our solar returns. Indeed,
People utter celebratory, "Many happy returns!"
To encourage our perseverance and continuance.
So the Sun welcomes our new year
By retracing his annual path through the seasons.
It's a known path, but still filled with fresh discoveries...
As we ourselves revisit our pasts along
With new iterations and variations,
Fed with debris we've left behind...
Or have we?
Always old.
Always new.
Always a familiar
Handrail and steps to remind us
How precious it all has been
My own solar return was a couple of days ago. That means I've now been tap dancing for 70 years and chanting for 36 years—and I'm not out of breath yet, my friends. I thank Rich Fuller for this inspiring glimpse of his lush world,
taken on the Summit Path, Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill), Penang, Malaysia.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Nov 2019

Memories of Vatican bees...

I've told you before about how Kate kidnapped me (2015) and together with David took me to Italy to meet up with Peter and Lisl for my bucket-listed visit to Michelangelo's David in Florence. Here's a reminder.

At the Vatican Museums, David piloted a wheelchair for me, so I could see everything without stressing my back. Not only did that make it easier for me, but the wheelchair got us into the Sistine Chapel faster and right to the front. Of course, we gawked and grocked in wonder and awe. Then as we made our way back, we went through the Gallery of Maps. It was David, at his elevated height above the heads of crowded others, who noticed the bees. Lotsa bees there. He carefully rolled me near so I could snap pix of them all.

Seems all these bees have historical significance. I didn't have to dig very deep.

The noble Barberini dynasty was among Rome’s greatest patrons of the arts. The Barberini family first arrived from Florence in the late 16th century, where they went by the name Tafani (horsefly). They soon changed their name and out went the unattractive old insect and in flew the ancient royal symbol of a bee. The family reached the height of its power in the 17th century when Cardinal Maffeo Barberini became Pope Urban VIII. Under his commission, artists turned Rome into a showcase of Baroque. The family’s coat of arms is three bees in a V-formation, and they decorate buildings and paintings all over the city. Barberini bees appear throughout the Vatican Museums, in particular on frescoed walls of the Gallery of Maps like this one.

In 2011 the Pope became a beekeeper when Italy's largest farming association gifted him with 1/2 million bees in honour of the Day for the Protection of Creation.

Tis all fitting, eh?

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course