Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Bunny Day!

I never really got the connection between the religious part of Easter and the bunny part, but this article attempts to explain it.  I'm not sure it all makes sense but that's okay.

Here's my sketch from today, I drew this cute little stuffed bunny I picked up in Seattle last month:

Hope you enjoyed your chocolate, jellybeans and Easter egg hunts!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's Bunny Time!

Whether you are celebrating Passover or Easter or the arrival of spring or just the fact that it's a long weekend, enjoy!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hatching and Sketching

I've been using hatching in my sketches, following my most recent lesson via Skype with Lisa Cheney-Jorgensen.  Working on my application for the Mary Ann Moss School of Sketching. 

I drew this tentacle last week:

As you can see, I had a little trouble with the proportions of this seashell, as compared to the wider, rounder real thing:

No matter, I moved on to this ink bottle.  Again, a little wonky with the sizing but I soldier on.

I also copied/did my own version of this drawing of a nose by an artist named Igor Lukyanov.  I prefer to think of it as sincere flattery rather than blatant plagiarism.  I hope Igor feels the same.

Who knew homework could be so much fun?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Kitten + Shower Curtain

As I've mentioned before, some of my foster cats like the water.  For my current foster kittens, Belle Matisse and Belle Cherie, it's all about the tub and the shower curtain. Wet or dry, they like to hang out in the tub.  If they're playing with a toy, they like to carry it into the bathroom and jump in the tub with it, swat it about.  Sometimes, they just play with the shower curtain, taking turns hiding between the fabric and plastic layers.

Most of the time, this isn't a problem.  At least, not until kitten + shower curtain = big hole.

Katrina helping me assess the damage
Luckily, I buy my shower curtains at the dollar store for $2.00 each (which could also explain why they tear so easily) and I usually get more than one at a time, so I'm usually ready for this occurrence, but still!

Monday, March 25, 2013


Things are about to get a little crazy at the Toronto Zoo.  Two new panda bears arrived today from China, a male and female.  They'll be in Toronto for the next 5 years and then Calgary for the 5 years after that.  They were delivered by Fedex and greeted by our Prime Minister - you can read the full story here.  They'll be in quarantine for the next 30 days and then accepting visitors on or about May 1st.

The last time we had pandas here was more than 20 years ago.  I know I went to see them then, although I don't remember the lineups people are talking about today.  I remember they were sleeping for a long time and that wasn't very exciting and then they woke up and they were everything you wanted them to be - fascinating to watch as they tumbled about together and chewed on bamboo.  I know there are many who advocate that zoos are bad and it's wrong to lock animals up in cages for public amusement but I believe there are benefits too, such as exposing people to wildlife that they wouldn't otherwise ever see live in their lifetimes and protecting endangered species.  Yes, maybe there are better ways to do it but for now, this is what we've got.

Knowing how much I had enjoyed them, my dad gave me this print by Canadian artist Michael Dumas print at some point after that:

I shall have to schedule a visit to see these two new guests at some point (although maybe not right away, the zoo is expecting a huge increase in visitors as a result of their arrival). It has been a long time since I've been to the Toronto Zoo, I'm long overdue for a visit.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday At Home

I took pictures of the power lines this morning.  The way the light was hitting them made them really stand out against the grey tones of the trees underneath in a way that I hadn't ever noticed before.  The towers made me think of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Yes, there are still spots on my lens. I can actually see
a small hair sitting on the lens! Will have to take the camera
in to the store, hopefully it can be fixed easily.
I was just heading out for a walk before noon today when a voice came over the intercom system in our building to announce that we were having power outage issues in the neighbourhood.  As a result, I didn't want to risk getting on the elevator, nor was I keen to walk down a double digit number flights of stairs (or, more accurately, to have to climb up again if the power was still off when I came back).

The weird thing was, the power hadn't been off before the first announcement was made.  Over the next 8 or 9 hours, it went off three times for 10 or 15 minutes each.  The rest of the time, everything seemed to be working so I kept on with the rest of my planned activities for the day. 

I filed my taxes - that only took half an hour online and I felt sooo virtuous afterwards to have gotten that task done well before the deadline.  My refund is a whopping ...wait for it...forty-two cents!!  Make that forty cents, now that rounding is a fact of life here in Canada. :)  Not worth writing home about but considering that I had to pay $200 last year, I am more than happy with the results.

Surprisingly, I've been blowing my nose like crazy all day.  Seems like it's too early for allergies - everything is still pretty frozen out there! - so I'm guessing it's a cold.  Drat.

I puttered around with some art supplies, and cut up Peerless paint squares to tape onto a palette I got from Steve Salik's blog, based on one developed by my friend Jane Davenport - you can read about her version here.  This process has been taking longer than expected but it's very relaxing.

I cuddled cats, watched a little Nascar (bit of excitement at the end, one of the drivers crashed in the final lap and was airlifted to the hospital - because of the post-race traffic rather than the urgency of his condition, it sounds like he's going to be okay) and toured around online.

Just a quiet late winter Sunday at home.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Art By Flashlight

I always feel a bit silly celebrating Earth Hour by myself, sitting in the dark all alone.  Sometimes I think, why bother?  Then again, if everybody thought that way, there wouldn't be millions of people around the world doing it, not to mention the 13 million Canadians who joined me in turning off the lights last year.

Here are my blog posts on the subject from 2011 and 2010.  (Not sure what I did in 2012, apparently I didn't specifically mention Earth Hour last year.)

Here's what I did tonight - I sat in the dark with just a large flashlight shining on my page and drew a my clock.

The sound of the ticking was very meditative, as everything else was so quiet.  Even the cats were quiet, they thought it was nap time.  After the hour was over and I turned the lights on again, I added the watercolours - I wanted to wait until I could look up a photo of the globe online. Goodness knows where the continents would have ended up if I'd left it to my imagination!

Of course, once the lights went back on, the cats got busy again.  They decided they needed to check out the water for the paintbrush (don't worry, it was before I used it) and oh yes, turns out Matisse was thirsty!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Do Over

The Scintilla Project, one of today's prompts:  Sometimes we wish that we could hit the rewind button. Talk about an experience that you would do over if you could.

The good news is, I don't have too many experiences in my life that I regret.  If I could do something over, chances are it would be something good, something enjoyable that would be great to experience again.

Although, I must admit that I caught myself wishing for a do-over yesterday with respect to the sketch I did at the car dealership while waiting for the oil change to be done.  I wasn't doing the best job of sketching this car they have on display (on its side so you can see the underbelly of the car)

but I could have gotten away with it.  However... I never should have tried to add the ceiling to this sketch.  Blech.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Swimming and Sketching

I went for a swim last night, to celebrate the arrival of spring.  It seemed like a good idea, since it was too cold to go outside for a walk. :)

I had been thinking about going for a while. I hadn't used the pool in my building for a long time so it was on my mind but then I woke up yesterday morning with the idea that I would sketch this image:

so I took a photo while I was down there and when I came back from my swim, I drew this little picture super fast

and then I took a little more time and drew this.

I was pleased with how it turned out, pretty much exactly how I had imagined it in the morning when the idea first came to me.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hello Spring!

If we had to judge by the weather, no one would believe that spring arrived today. It was cold today, the wind blew hard and frosty, there was some sun and blue sky (thank goodness) but there was also grey cloud and snow flurries.  The snowbanks are still around, we're still bundled up in our bulky winter coats, scarves and mitts.

But according to the calendar, today's the day. Spring arrived at 7:20 a.m. this morning and as far as I'm concerned, it's all good from here, even if it still feels like winter for the next few weeks (or so the forecasters are predicting.  I choose to believe they'll be wrong about that, like they usually are.)

No matter what the temperature is outside, I still want to say  "Hello Spring! Welcome back!
Photo from

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Learning with Lisa Online

From The Scintilla Project, a prompt from Day 2:  2. Tell a story about something interesting (anything!) that happened to you, but tell it in the form of an instruction manual (Step 1, Step 2, etc.).

Learning How to Draw:

Step 1: Convince a really talented, artistic friend (in this case, Lisa Cheney-Jorgensen) to give you and another friend (Lorraine) a drawing/sketching lesson online using Skype.

Step 2:  Watch carefully as she shows how to do a blind contour drawing:

Step 3:  Sneak in a few photos when nobody's looking.

Step 4: Take notes in between drawings.

Step 5: Ignore the voice of your inner critic and/or the cat looking over your shoulder.

Step 6: Look forward to doing the homework - draw, draw, draw!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Not This Time

 A prompt from The Scintilla Project:  Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. Write about a time when you taught someone a lesson you didn’t want to teach.

She had always wanted to be one of those people who could stand up for herself when others were taking advantage but somehow, she rarely was.  Perhaps it was because she was one of those "polite Canadians".  Or maybe because she, like most people, preferred to avoid conflict rather than face it head on.  Sometimes, it was just because the person who needed to be taught the lesson was absent from the scene at the time.

When she came out of the office, after crossing the parking lot fighting the bitter cold blustering winds and blowing snow of the impending blizzard, she was surprised and dismayed to find a large black pickup truck parked directly in front of her car with less than a millimetre of space to spare. Whaaaatttt???

She wished she could be the person to craft this creative diagram:
as posted on Q107's Facebook page

She wished she could be the one to write a clever note like this:
Photo: What do you think. Justifiably angry, or overreacting?
also as posted on Q107's Facebook page
She wanted to ask the driver if he'd recently been to a monster truck jam and was trying out some of the moves.  If he'd found his driver's license in a cereal box.  Or if he was trying to compensate for something by driving such a big truck.  But he was nowhere to be seen.

Instead, she was the one that quietly took the photos on her cell phone (once again wishing she had upgraded to the latest iPhone in order to get a better image) and then gently reversed her car, hoping not to hear the telltale scrape that meant the huge pickup truck had in fact been parked on top of her car's bumper(which, phew!, she didn't) and just drove away.

Of course, when she got home, she posted the photo online for others to deride and ridicule.  And the next day, she sent the photos to the property manager for the building, along with the offender's license plate, just in case anyone else had been a victim of this person's inappropriate parking manoeuvres.  Maybe she wasn't cut out to be cruel and would rather be kind, maybe she wouldn't be the one to teach this fool a lesson but still, there were things that could be done to bring about a modicum of satisfaction.  That would be enough, this time.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Many thanks to the
for this image.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Singing in the Car

The Scintilla Project - Day 3: Talk about a time when you were driving and you sang in the car, all alone. Why do you remember this song and that stretch of road?

I sing in the car all the time when I'm alone but the best memory I have about singing in the car is a drive from Toronto to Kingston that I took several years ago with the husband of one of my best friends from high school.  I can't remember the exact year, we would have been in our late twenties or early 30's, before they had kids.  She had gone back to school in Kingston and I was going to visit her for the weekend, catching a ride with her husband.  I'd known him since she started dating him in high school and we always got along quite well but I don't think we had ever actually spent any time alone together, let alone in the close confines of a long car trip.
Photo from
It was awkward at first but over the course of next three hours, we both started to relax as we chatted about lots of things (none of which I can remember all these years later).  At some point, we started singing along to whatever the music was coming from the radio.  Or maybe it was a cassette tape we were listening to, I don't even remember what music it was.  All I remember is both of us singing along, no holds barred, and how much I enjoyed having someone to sing along with in the car.

That was many years ago and I'm still looking to find a guy of my own to sing with in the car but that doesn't stop me from singing along by myself whenever I'm driving. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

3+15+2013 = 50

My baby brother turns 50 today.  When I spoke to him this afternoon, he said he was feeling strange about changing the first digit of his age from a 4 to a 5.  He's only 15 months younger than me, so I'm not feeling too weirded out by the occasion.  When my other baby brother and baby sister turn 50, then I'll probably be freaked out but today, not so much.

If you've been reading this blog for the past few years, you'll have seen this photo before but it's one of my favourites so I think it bears repeating.  Could  he be any cuter with his tongue sticking out and his hair sticking up? I don't think so!  Happy Birthday Craig! 


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Everybody Lies

One of today's prompts from The Scintilla ProjectA: What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told? Why? Would you tell the truth now, if you could?

Anybody who tells you they never lie is lying to you and to themselves.  That's the truth.  We all lie and we all do it all the time.  We lie to ourselves, our boss, our family, our friends, our lovers, even total strangers.

I like to believe that I'm a reasonably truthful person and that's true most of the time but I also know I've told lots of lies in my lifetime - some of them tiny, some of them with good intentions, some of them deliberate, some of them by accident, some when I was young and didn't know any better, some because it was just easier to lie than to tell the truth, some just for fun. 

I don't know that I've ever told a "big" lie.  I've never pretended to be pregnant to get a guy to marry me. I've never told anyone I have a terminal disease to get people to realize how much they'd miss me if I were gone.  I've never lied about where I was in order to give myself an alibi for the time I dressed up in a disguise and robbed a bank to get money to feed my gambling habit.  Then again, I'm not a character in a soap opera. 

Does it make me a better person knowing that none of the lies I've told have been really big ones? No.  Ho do you define a "big" lie?  Maybe it was just a little white lie to me but a huge lie to the person I told it to and I just didn't realize it, then or now.  Do I feel bad about telling the lies I have? Yes in some cases, no in others.  Does telling a lie make me human? Yes.

I tell the truth when I can.  It's just easier that way. I've learned the hard way that it's a lot of work to live a lie, to remember the lies you've told so you can avoid getting caught out.  As Mark Twain said, "if you tell the truth, you don't have anything to remember." 

I've learned how to tell when other people are lying but I'm not always successful at it.  I've had to forgive people who have lied to me.  In some cases, I've told them I forgave them but I was really lying. I know that a lie can be painful but the truth hurts sometimes too.  Then again, I've seen how some lies can eat away at your soul and slowly poison every aspect of your life.

I could promise to always tell the truth from now on but I can't, because it would be a lie.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Once Upon A Time At The Grand Hotel

I signed up to take part in The Scintilla Project.  Every day for two weeks, those of us taking part receive 2 prompts via email. We're to pick one and write about it.  It started today, with "Tell a story about a time you got drunk before you were legally old enough to do so."  Not quite the type of prompt I was expecting but here goes:

I'm not much of a drinker.  The number of times I've been "drunk" are few and far between (much to the dismay of certain friends and family members who'd like to see me "wasted" for some reason) and when I was underage, it just didn't happen. 

Nevertheless, I did have my first illegal drink at the tender age of sixteen.  I remember the occasion well, although I can't remember what time of year it was.  I was in grade 12 and younger than most of my friends, both because I had a late birthday (November), which meant I started kindergarten at age 4 instead of 5, and because I had accelerated in school (did grades 3, 4 and 5 in two years instead of 3).  So I was 16 in Grade 12 when several of my friends were already 18.  (The next year, they raised the legal drinking age from 18 to 19 which put me yet another year behind - I wasn't legally allowed to drink until my second year in university!)

One day, it must have been a Friday afternoon, a bunch of us girls headed to The Grand Hotel, a local drinking establishment on the main street of our small town that was known for its cheap reasonable prices and lax attitude towards underage drinkers.  I do recall that I had borrowed someone else's I.D. for this occasion, as they were known to check for I.D. the first time you came in and after that, you would be a known entity and they wouldn't ask again.

At that age, I had no idea what to order. One of my friends suggested her favourite drink, a Tom Collins, so that's what I got.  I showed the waitress taking our order my fake I.D. and that was it, next thing I knew I had a drink in front of me.  We all giggled and felt extremely grown up and mysterious, having fooled them into serving us drinks when we were underage.  Truth be told, I'm sure they knew exactly what we were up to!  We then proceeded to have a "grand" time.

Photo found on
I didn't know what was in a Tom Collins at the time (gin, lemon juice, sugar, carbonated water) but it tasted a bit like lemonade and I liked it.  Can't say I've ever had one since though! 

We spent many a pleasurable afternoon (playing hooky from school) and evening in The Grand during my high school days.  It was the thing to do in small town Ontario in the late 70's.  There was a "disco" establishment called The Miss Susannah in a strip mall on the edge of town, we partied there as well but The Grand was the place we spent most Friday and Saturday nights - talking, drinking, flirting with members of the opposite sex, passing the time waiting to grow up and get on with our lives.  In those days, there was the gents side and the ladies side, each with their own entrance and a flight of stairs dividing the two (lead upstairs to what would have been hotel rooms in the early days of the hotel's history, although I don't think they were renting out rooms by that time, or down to the bathrooms).  Technically, we girls could go over to the guys side any time but there were often a bunch of drunken old boozers hanging out on that side, so we mostly stayed on the ladies side which was actually unisex.

Today that place is known as The Grand Experience and it's more of a family-style pizza restaurant than a drinking establishment.  They've expanded from the original building on the left, where I misspent those days of my youth, into the building on the right. 

Photo from
Times have certainly changed over the past 35 years!  They're probably not still serving underage drinkers but I like to think they're still serving a Tom Collins every now and again...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

More March Madness

"You are only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."  Robin Williams

This month, the Journal Junkies put the March Madness theme on our journal pages.

Laura's page had to do with her madness for high-priced cosmetics, as sold at Murale.

Kelly, who believes red is the colour of insanity, did two pages featuring the same quote.

Donna's page featured Olivia De Havilland, the star of "Snake Pit", a movie about a woman in an insane asylum.

Chloe's page featured Beethoven, she said it had something to do with his eyes.

Dana is new to our group, here is her page (split over two photos).  We teased her about using a swear word on her page but really, that just means she's going to fit in with this group with ease!

Last but certainly not least, here is Bette's page, featuring Alice in Wonderland's March Hare and several of his friends.

Monday, March 11, 2013

March Madness

Here is the second half of my journal spread for this month's "March Madness" theme.  I used acrylic paint, stencils, Dylusions sprays, a toilet paper roll, acrylic stamps and Distress Ink to make it.  I'm not entirely sure it's done yet, I think it needs a little something more.  As my fellow Journal Junkie friend Laura said, it's a little flat.  Still, I'm quite pleased with how the background turned out. 

Here's how the two pages look together:

I'll let them percolate for now, see if I get inspired to do or add anything more.  Feel free to make suggestions!

In the meantime, stay tuned. Tomorrow I'll show you the pages my fellow Journal Junkies made for this month's challenge!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Saving Daylight

Daylight saving time started today.  Most of us here in Canada turned our clocks ahead by one hour ("spring ahead, fall back" is the rule), with Saskatchewan being the exception - they don't change their clocks at all.

As a result, we have more sunlight later in the day and it's darker in the morning, at least to begin with.  By the time summer rolls around, it's light very early in the morning too.  It has been happening since the winter solstice in December but this extra hour makes a huge difference.  It's such a lovely thing, as spring progresses, to see how the days lengthen slowly but surely until we reach the longest day of the year on June 21st.

I made this journal page today, both to commemorate the day and as part of this month's Journal Junkies theme. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post to see the other half of my journal page!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Slow Moving Saturday

I've had a rather slow moving day.  I woke up with all sorts of ideas in my head about what I would get done today but somehow, nothing is quite finished although lots of things are in progress and things that weren't even on the original list got added on.  I watched a couple of long movies - "As Good As It Gets" and "P.S. I Love You" (for the millionth time) while doing other things - made some art, cuddled some cats, wrote emails, toured around the Internet, moved some things around my apartment but never quite put anything away, that sort of thing.

I did not spend any time today playing with a Q-tip but someone in this household did:
Belle Cherie
I love knowing that I still have all day tomorrow (even if there is an hour less of it but at least it will be brighter longer) to get things done.  Maybe I'll buckle down, maybe I won't.  That's the beauty of slow moving weekends with no clear agenda - if it gets done, great. If it doesn't, there's always next weekend!

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Spaceship Cloud

Sighted a very strange cloud formation out my window this morning.  The way the sun was leaking through the cloud, it looked like a spaceship hovering over the neighbourhood.

Farther away, other leaks were happening as well:

Here's a close-up of the cloud:

It slowly moved so it appeared to be hovering over this building across the street:

(I was rather alarmed by the spots on these photos but I think, I hope it's just a sign of a dirty window rather than moisture drops on my camera lens! No sign of them on other recent photos, so I think all is well.  In the meantime, at 14 floors above the ground, I'm at the mercy of the wet weather until the building management hires a window cleaner in the spring!)