June 25, 2012

Good things come to those who wait.

My Grandma once told me that she had warned Grandpa long ago, “I’ll marry you, but I’m not going to be like the other wives. I’m not going to stay at home!” That was back in 1935.

She definitely had her own ideas about how to do things.

During her life she had three children, worked tirelessly as a seamstress, served her community, fought for women's rights, joined and co-founded multiple organizations and schools, volunteered for UNICEF, became a Citizenship Court Judge, got involved in politics, and received countless honors in recognition of her contribution to the Italian community in Montreal – she even met the Pope once!

Grandma was always busy, busy, busy. Instead of calling her “Bisnonna”, the Italian for “Great-Grandma”, my children gave her the special nickname of “Busy-nonna”. And my grandmother’s notion of time was elastic. While she multi-tasked she paid no attention to the clock and often kept people waiting, not least of which was my Grandpa.

My cousin and I were just reminiscing about this. We both remember our grandfather endlessly waiting for our grandmother. He was a patient and gentle person. After several hours of waiting for her to finish talking on the phone/delegating/checking documents/making pasta, he would always raise both hands and in his Italian accent he would say, “Marrrrrry…come on!” And then he would wait some more.

My Grandpa passed away twenty-one years ago; he was in his eighties. My grandmother had held his face in her hands and told him she loved him as he slipped away. She missed him immeasurably, and believed they would be together again in Heaven…

In the meantime, she kept herself busy. There were weddings, great-grandchildren and always with the community engagements. Grandma lived on and on. In my mind, she became Immortal.

Near the end she was brave…so very brave. As I’ve said before, it hurts to grow so old. But even though it was hard for her, she still kissed us, nodded and smiled, told us we were loved. And then, at the amazing age of 97, she died. So my cousin was saying that at last our Grandpa didn’t have to wait for his Maria any longer.

But if I know my Grandma, he may have to wait just another few minutes.

Time is especially elastic in Heaven!

RIP Maria Marrelli.

June 21, 2012

The Show Must Go ON...!

My precious Grandma slipped away from us today. At 97, she was finally ready. When I heard the news, I went to be with my family; I hugged them tight. And as we left I turned to blow my Grandma one final kiss from the doorway. But she was already gone.

Even though we were expecting this at any moment, the tears still surprised me. And then I thought what she would say;
"The Show must go on!" She'd stamp her walker, throw her head back and laugh. She had quite the laugh for such a tiny person! It shook the chandelier.

And so, since the show must go on, I invite you to scroll way, way, waaaaaaaay down...

Today is my Blogiversary. It's been two years since I leaped into the Blogger Abyss and never looked up. We've had giggles, tears, stories, eye rolling, we've poked fun at social media and we've shared the lighter side of parenting. It's been fun and I suppose I've done rather a lot of drawing.

Thank-you to all who have visited me here. I love you.

Let's eat cake!

June 20, 2012

The Driving Lessons.

“You’re having a baby? You need to learn how to drive.”

I was 4 months pregnant and living in London when one of my more practical friends hit me with this. It was true that I’d never got my license and was happy to sit in the passenger seat while everyone drove me everywhere. But Vanessa pointed out that once that baby popped out, I would become increasingly dependent on The Huz and what if he wasn’t around? What if I needed to get somewhere in a hurry? What if I couldn’t manage the Underground or bus?

I had to admit she had a point; I might become isolated.
That thought scared me. But there were obstacles.

“Well, we haven’t got much money and driving lessons are expensive.”

Vanessa simply said, “I’ll pay for them.”

She insisted; she said it would be a gift. You couldn’t argue with Vanessa…well you could try, but once her mind was made up, that was that.

I considered it. As she was financially stable it wasn’t going to put her in troubles. So I decided to graciously accept what became known as The Driving Lessons.

* * * * *

I got my license three weeks after my baby was born. I loved zooming around London in our 1969 VW camper van with our little sweetling and our giant Newfie.

When The Huz went away on tour, I could easily shop for groceries, visit friends, and head for the doctors if the wee one ran a fever. When I suffered from post-natal depression, and everything overwhelmed me, my driver’s license got me out to mother/baby playgroups every day.

Vanessa had been right. I was ever so grateful.

* * * * *

Years passed and we moved to Vancouver and eventually Montreal. I was working full time as a producer and had a decent salary. I began to think, why not pass Vanessa’s gift on to someone who needs it? I began to search for suitable candidates…someone whose situation would mean they’d benefit from the ability to drive but who couldn’t afford it financially. I approached several people but it wasn’t so easy! You’d be surprized at how many people are actually unwilling to learn to drive.

They say they want to, but if you put it within their reach, they will shy away. They may prefer to be driven, or the responsibility of being behind the wheel is too much. People have their reasons, I guess.

And then I met Martin. Martin and Colleen were the parents of our daughter’s kindergarten BFF. We became good friends with them; we hung out, we went to the countryside together with our collection of kids and dogs, and we had some pretty great dinners. Martin rocked a fantastic salad with baby spinach, lemon and salt. Good times!

Martin did all the driving in their family as Colleen was a NON-DRIVER. Actually it was kind of a bone of contention between them.

As our friendship grew, the closer we became, the more certain I was that Colleen would be the ideal recipient for Vanessa’s gift.

You see, Martin had terminal brain cancer. It’s strange to become friends with someone knowing that you will one day lose them completely. By the time we met he’d already survived a couple of brain surgeries to remove tumors, and all kinds of radiation therapy and chemo. He’d lived longer than modern medicine said he would, managing to help raise two daughters from babyhood to children. He was doing okay… but I knew that someday he wouldn’t be able to drive anymore and that Colleen could be stranded…and isolated. The family had little money and their collective ability to work was becoming sporadic. I decided to offer her The Driving Lessons.

Colleen resisted at first, perhaps not wanting to accept a charity. But I asked her to reflect on it; I said that someday, if she ever was in a position to do so, she could pass on The Driving Lessons to someone else. And that way Vanessa’s gift could keep on giving. She agreed.

Several months later Colleen got her driver’s license. She eventually took over all the driving for her husband, their two children and two large dogs. Martin, once an Ironman triathlete, lived as long as he could and when the cancer took too much, he gently passed away at home. He is missed. I made some spinach salad yesterday and it made me think fondly of him.

Our kids are still great friends, and well into the throes of their adolescence.
And Colleen? I just saw her in her car outside our kids’ school and she honked at me.

Thank-you Vanessa.

June 15, 2012

Do lil' gherkins have fathers?

The answer is yes.

And here's a repost of a film I made about a very funny daddy blogger named Why Is Daddy Crying?

Happy Fathers' Day!

June 14, 2012

Sticking PINS in my eyes.

Which one(s) are you?

And if you'd rather stick pins in your eyes than stick Pins in your eyes, well ... click here to see a drawing of a naked lady.

June 12, 2012

Limitations = FREEDOM. #MadeWithPaper drawing app review.

You may have noticed a slightly different style appearing in some of my drawings here since I got the iPad 3. I bought several drawing apps – they’re luxuriously cheap and some have nearly all the bells and whistles of Photoshop or Illustrator.

But my special favorite is a very simple app called Paper by 53. You can’t zoom in it… …there are no layers …you can't change the brush size...and the colours are limited. So why do I love it so?

Just download the free app and take a look at the books.

Choose one and open it up. It feels nice.

The ink drivers flow beautifully, and the limitations actually force a creative thought process.

I find I don't want to be bogged down by too many choices.

I can tear away from the temptation of time-consuming perfection and detail.

Working within restrictions can somehow set you free.

I guess drawing in Paper is a lot like drawing on paper, but with a really great eraser!

Here’s a quickie guide:

  • The tool tray slides up and down. 
  • The quill is speed sensitive – the faster you draw, the thicker the line. 
  • The water colour brush will deepen the longer you linger. 
  • All colours are transparent, except black and white.  
  • A circular motion with two fingers on the screen counter-clockwise will undo. 
  • The page is not white, so white ink shows nicely. 

Everyone who draws with Paper can't help smiling.

I would change two things though – first, I’d offer more colour palettes. Not unlimited colours, but more trays of set colours. The current colours are starting to bore me; it’s hard to differentiate one artist from another cuz we're all using the same colours. Prolly good for the initial branding of a drawing app but it's getting old. And  secondly, since I’m a cartoonist it would be useful to make copies of drawings; that way I could work on a succession of drawings, with subtle changes between them.

The basic version of this app is free but if you want all the brushes they cost about $2 each. A whole $8. Also... Paper just won an Apple Design Award yesterday - Congrats!

I drew my three children on my iPad, using Paper and a Wacom Bamboo stylus.

June 11, 2012

FaceBook WTF.

First off, this is a lie.

It turned up on The Huz's Facebook sidebar - I never liked Vivint on Facebook and I NEVER EVEN HEARD OF IT. I also refuse to Google it just on principle.

Then, this turned up on my Facebook artist page:

I get that Facebook is a business, but this makes me feel uncomfortable. I dunno, it's kinda like they could adjust their algorithm to make me suddenly unseeable to those who used to see me. I feel powerless, voiceless, impotent, invisible. Like I don't exist...unless I pay.

Dark words play at the corners of my mind. Words like "extortion", "profiteering" and "got me by the short n' curlies". Okay, the first two might be harsh, but the last one is spot on.

Anyone else seen this? Anyone tried paying actual money? And was it worth it?

June 10, 2012

My Funny DOG.

Here's some funny things my dog does.

You can set your clock by her.

She knows how to get what she wants.

She's a tad delusional.

I love my dog.

I drew these in a bar, on my iPad, using Paper and a Wacom Bamboo stylus.

June 7, 2012

SEE what I SAW! About SeeSaw.

What the heck is SeeSaw? It’s hashtag-heaven for Tweeps! Go to Sees.aw, log in with your Twitter account and you’ll see the latest trending hashtags populating your screen in real time.

WARNING: You should not stare at this too long cuz it’ll hypnotize you. I'm not even joking.

Here's the cool part. Wanna follow a specific hashtag or topic? Let’s say you like a little #WineParty on Friday nights, heheh...hit the SeeSaw magnifying glass and type it in the box.

Presto! All the tweets with #WineParty will appear in a mesmerizing patchwork quilt on your screen. Of course there will be a few nuggets of incredible wisdom that you’d like to save forever, right? On Twitter it’s a real pain to scroll through tweets trying to find something you liked in a tweetchat, and there's no organized way to save it. But on SeeSaw, all you have to do is hover on the tweets you like and click on the word "Saw".

This saves that particular tweet to your own personal “Saw” board, which you'll find by clicking on the word "SAW" at the top right. So if you’re following hashtags for Twitter parties, chats, or certain topics, you can collect and curate tweets to your own custom boards. Like Pinterest, but for Twitter. Your favorite images, links, information, whatever is important to you, even an entire # stream can be saved to peruse at a later time.

SeeSaw is extremely useful for image lovers (like moi) because it’s so visual. I can save all my best #PickleWeasel tweets to a board – and if anyone asks what a Pickle Weasel is, I simply show them this:

If they see something they like, they can follow the link back to my blog. Someone says something nice about PickleWeasel – I save it for when I need cheering up.

SeeSaw is new and I’ve just started playing with it. You can tweet/reply directly into it, you can highlight keywords within a hashtag crop to harvest your content, and there’s share buttons too. There’s still a few bugs here and there - certain images won't show, for example - and it would be cool to have the option to make a board public or private (seriously I don't want you guys finding out which of the rude #DrawSomething's I'll be saving haw haw). But the peeps behind it (Internet Media Labs @SeeSawMe) are listening and refining, which is awesome.

Lemmeno if you find some other cool ways to use it.

#WineParty was created by @blogdangerously.

June 4, 2012


Heheh...thanks FaceBook.

You likey? Clike lick!

COFFEE Conundrum.

To say that I'm passionate about my coffee is an understatement. I'm a coffee-nazi. Don't offer to make it for me - if the colour, opacity and strength of my first coffee aren't just so, my day will be ruined and you won't like it. It's just better if I do it myself, even I mess it up.

I had a rough night with a sick child last night, so I'm having a harder time than usual waking up today.

It doesn't help that it's a Monday. Do you have days like this?