Art, Cats, Poetry

A Cat, A Comics Artist & A Haiku

Cat Image
Phoebe’s Portrait

Last year,we contributed to the Kickstarter project Furr: A Comic Anthology About Cats. This project was the brainchild of Alex Park, the founder of Tabulit, an online publishing platform committed to building a creative economy for indie webcomic artists and providing a platform for comic lovers to read and subscribe to a range of comic genres.

As part of our contribution to the Kickstarter campaign, we were entitled to receive an original portrait of our cat done by one of the artists featured in the anthology, along with a printed copy of the anthology.

After looking through the artists, we decided to choose to have our cat’s picture done by Ross Brownell-Dupont. Ross is a talented illustrator and comics artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University of Art & Design. He works in ink, watercolour and pen.

A few days ago, we received Phoebe’s portrait in the mail — we were so excited! Ross’ work delighted us — we couldn’t have been more pleased. What do you think? Isn’t she beautiful? And we think that Ross captured her character perfectly.

If you are interested, Ross is available for commission work. You can reach him at rbrownelldupont@gmail.com

If you want to read some excellent webcomics, check out Tabulit — you can even read my daughter’s work there!

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Hey! I haven’t forgotten that it is Haikuesday! I composed this little poem for my lovely Phoebe.

Cat, you calmly sit
staring with determined will
a bird trills a note

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Beauty, Poetry

A Little Poetry on Sunday Night

Magnolia imageThe hour is late on this Sunday evening — time to get ready for sleep. It’s quiet, I’m yawning and looking forward to slipping under the covers and drifting into dreamland.

I have been thinking about poetry a lot these past weeks — it is National Poetry Month, after all! I have been remembering the poems that I read and loved in my younger days. I used to read quite a bit of poetry back then. Hmm… maybe it’s time to get back to this lovely art form.

I’m interested to try some of the trending poetry books out now — Milk and Honey, and The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur or The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace. Poetry sure seems to be in vogue these days!

But back to my reminiscing. I was remembering the poets I used to read: William Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William Blake, Carl Sandburg, Christina Georgina Rossetti, e. e. cummings and Emily Dickinson — and thinking about the emotions and thoughts that their poems evoked. So many beautiful poems… some simple and easy, others requiring deeper probing. All of them beautiful in form and sound.

Here is one of my favourites. I think it is appropriate for this time of the year!

May-Flower

Pink, small, and punctual,
Aromatic, low,
Covert in April,
Candid in May,

Dear to the moss,
Known by the knoll,
Next to the robin
In every human soul.

Bold little beauty,
Bedecked with thee,
Nature forswears
Antiquity.

~ Emily Dickinson

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Mindfulness Thought

Sleep is the best meditation. ~ the Dalai Lama

Parks, Poetry

Hello, Spring!

Hyacinths image
The air is filled with the sweet fragrance of hyacinth in bloom!

What better way to welcome Spring, than to take a stroll in a beautiful park? Bear Creek Park is one of my favourite places to walk. Nestled in a wooded area of Surrey, and adjacent to the city’s lovely art centre and theatre, Bear Creek is a year-round destination. Along with a playground, pavilion, sports oval and a privately owned train and mini golf attraction, this gem of a park features resplendent gardens with plant displays that include greenery as well as seasonal flowers.

The gardens are especially gorgeous in the spring and summer when the plants and flowers are at their showy best. But it is lovely to meander through the paths and across the little bridges that overlook the creek any time of the year. Right now, the gardens are awash in vibrant colours and heady scents as the plantings confirm that spring has arrived!

Creek View imageAt the entrance to the Japanese plant display, stands a large piece of raw granite known as Poetry Rock. This art installation, part of the City of Surrey’s civic collection, is engraved with the poem — Mere Water am I — written by renowned Korean-Canadian theologian, Dr. Rev. Byung Sub Van.

Poetry Rock imageThe poem is inscribed on the rock in both English and Korean and symbolizes the universal theme of water in all its forms and pays homage to cultural diversity. Read the English version below:

Mere Water am I

Becoming vapour
cloud
rain drops
returning
Mere water am I

Drop by drop
making streams
flowing to oceans
Mere water am I

Filling a cup for the thirsty
moving factory machines
washing worker mops
then discarded
Mere water am I

Clinging to evening grass
soaking daylight soil
blood of tree roots
seeping deep into earth
buried tributary
of an enduring river
Mere water am I

~ Dr. Rev. Byung Sub Van

Meditation, Poetry

Zen Cat

Cat sleepingIs there anything better at living in the moment than a cat?

As Eckhart Tolle says, “I have lived with many Zen masters, all of them cats.” I  believe it — I only have to observe my own kitty to see that this is true.

She can sit for hours on the window sill, watching the world outside — gazing in stillness as the breeze stirs the grass, or a bird hops by searching for worms. She contemplates the moment, completely absorbed in the scene unfolding before her.

Then she will get up and stretch — a full body, yoga stretch from the top of her head to the tip of her tail, she will stretch every muscle, taking her time to be in the moment.

She does not care what I think — she is content to just be. She eats when she is hungry. She does not judge. She does not worry and she sleeps wherever she finds a cozy, warm spot. She exudes peace and contentment.

I think I can learn a lot from my cat.

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A Sphinx

Close-mouthed  you sat five thousand years and never let out a whisper.
Processions came by, marchers, asking questions you answered with grey eyes never blinking, shut lips never talking.
Not one croak of anything you know has come from your cat crouch of ages.
I am one of those who know all you know and I keep my questions: I know the answers you hold.

~ Carl Sandburg

Poetry, Things to do

Cherry Blossom Walk

Cherry Tree WalkIt’s April and that means that it is once again time for the Vancouver International Cherry Blossom Festival. This year it runs from April 3 to April 29, 2018. One of the long-standing events promoted by the Festival, as you may know, is the VCBF Haiku Invitational, which is open for submissions until June 1, 2018.

Once again, on Haikuesday and in honour of the Cherry Blossom Festival and National Poetry Month — I share with you, my spring haiku:

Fragrant blossoms sway / Subtle perfume wafts in air / A soft pink carpet

Mindfulness, Poetry

Sunday Contemplation

Water ImageAnother week has gone by — and I was searching for a beacon of hope, something to soothe my soul and bring a smile to my face. A reprieve from the tragedy, the nastiness and the grimness that is so prevalent around us these days.

I am always uplifted by heartwarming stories about the kindness of strangers, the courage of ordinary people and the many acts of gratitude that circulate around the globe. Stories about the beauty of humankind, simple acts of love and everyday heroes fill me up. Luckily, there are many such anecdotes around, easy to find with a quick search.

Here are some examples I found this week — I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Song is Poetry

Angel City Chorale is a Los Angeles choir that boasts over 160 singers with an expansive repertoire that includes music from classical to pop and everything in between. The choir was started in 1993 and is known not only for its music but also for its good works. Their motto is “Building Community One Song at a Time.” Find out more about this group.

Watch this YouTube video of their performance of Africa. Oh, how I wish I could sing like this!

Poetry in Motion

I love flashmobs and a few years back it seemed as if people were gathering every week to put on a mass dance or sing-along. These days, flashmobs aren’t as news worthy, but I love watching them and would LOVE to be in one. In the video below, watch these amazing students as they perform a group dance at a mall in Liverpool.

Comic Relief

In this last video, members of the New York City Ballet perform an excerpt from The Concert, a lighthearted comic ballet by Jerome Robbins. These talented dancers prove that even missteps can be beautiful, poetic movement.

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Mindfulness Thought:

Mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it. ~ Sharon Saltzberg

Poetry

Flashback Friday — Vintage Poetry

child with umbrella illustration
Original illustration for Rain, from A Child’s Garden of Verses

It was rainy here all day — wet, but mild. “Typical, for Raincouver,” I hear you say! Yes, the skies were grey and wet, but people were out walking with their umbrellas closed. I say it was raining, but really, it was only sprinkling. Nothing to get excited about, it is April after all, we expect rain — how else will we get all those May flowers?

I was thinking of National Poetry Month as I was out splashing in puddles, and I remembered one of my treasured books from my childhood. A vintage copy of A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Some of my favourite poems are in that little book and I have fond memories of reading it.

So in honour of NPM, I am posting a poem from the book, one that illustrates the feeling of this rainy Vancouver day. Enjoy!

By the way,  A Child’s Garden of Verses is available as a FREE ebook from the Gutenberg Project! If you are interested, follow this link to the website, then do a search for the book. There are over 56,000 eBooks available to download or read online on this site.

RAIN
The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child’s Garden of Verses

Mindfulness, Thoughts

Thoughts On An Orange

Oranges

Photo by Jackelin Slack on Unsplash

And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China.
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you’ve always been her lover.
Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne”, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)

Sitting in the morning stillness, the fresh, tangy-sweet aroma of an orange being peeled suddenly filled my senses. My mouth watered and I immediately plunged into a whirlwind of thoughts …about oranges!

I thought of how I love fresh oranges but detest orange juice. I remembered how much I used to like eating an orange and a banana at the same time. First eating an orange segment, then following with a bite of banana — the best sour and sweet combination, ever! Oh, does anyone else remember orange/banana flavoured Jello?

My thoughts wandered to childhood Christmases, when I eagerly looked forward to our first box of mandarins of the season —Christmas Oranges, we called them. In those days, the small, round fruit came packed in a small wooden crate, each orange wrapped in green tissue paper. I remember how my siblings and I would marvel at how easy they were to peel and how sweet each little segment tasted. I remember the pure joy those oranges brought us!

Pictures of orange-flavoured candy and sweets danced in my head. Terry’s Chocolate Orange, the fruit made out of orange infused chocolate — which would break into segments just like the fruit. Orange jelly slices — artificially flavoured and covered in sparkly, white sugar, candy corn on Halloween, candied orange peel, and that [shudder] orange cream hiding in the box of assorted chocolates.

Aack!!! All that sugar!!

Somehow these memories led me to reminisce about my favourite muffin recipe — Oatmeal Orange muffins — made by soaking the oatmeal in orange juice, and adding in orange zest to enhance the flavour. I lost the recipe long ago and have never been able to find it — even my BFF, Google has failed to turn up the instructions!

Then I started thinking about the different kinds of oranges you can buy at the market. Navel oranges with their funny belly buttons; round Valencia oranges; the deep, red flesh of Blood oranges; Mandarins, of course, and the pretty Satsuma oranges. Sweet, juicy and oh, so fragrant!

My last thoughts — were centered around one of my most beautiful Mother’s Day gifts — a lovely, indoor orange tree. I can see it in my mind’s eye the tiny white blossoms nestled in the dark green leaves — a few baby oranges hanging from the branches. I loved to breathe in the delicate, orange perfume of the flowers. Alas, this thoughtful gift did not last long (not an unexpected event in my house — I LOVE plants, but I have the opposite of a green thumb!!)

All these memories rising up from the scent of a freshly peeled orange! I am grateful to live in a world where fresh fruit grows!

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Mindfulness Thought:
“Take the time to eat an orange in mindfulness. If you eat an orange in forgetfulness, caught in your anxiety and sorrow, the orange is not really there. But if you bring your mind and body together to produce true presence, you can see that the orange is a miracle. Peel the orange. Smell the fruit. See the orange blossoms in the orange, and the rain and the sun that have gone through the orange blossoms. The orange tree that has taken several months to bring this wonder to you. Put a section in your mouth, close your mouth mindfully, and with mindfulness feel the juice coming out of the orange. Taste the sweetness. Do you have the time to do so? If you think you don’t have time to eat an orange like this, what are you using that time for? Are you using your time to worry or using your time to live?”

~ from: The Moment is Perfect by Thich Nhat Hanh Read the entire article.

Mindfulness, Poetry

Breathe — A Haiku

Pink RoseIt’s the first Haikuseday of National Poetry Month and I challenge you to join me in writing a haiku. I share my attempt below — I hope you enjoy it. Are you writing any haikus?

Breathing slow and deep
The rose’s delicate scent
I regard my breath

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Mindfulness Thought:
This is universal. You sit and observe your breath. You can’t say this is a Hindu breath or a Christian breath or a Muslim breath. ~ Charles Johnson

Mindfulness, Poetry

Poetry and Mindfulness

The world is full of poetry. The air is living with its spirit; and the waves dance to the music of its melodies, and sparkle in its brightness. ~ James Gates Percival

the oceanIs there anything more soothing than the sound of the waves breaking on the shore? Is there any better way to spend a lovely, sunny afternoon than combing the beach for the sea’s bounty — smooth, round stones and sea-washed shells? Translucent pieces of clear, blue sea glass?

Walking on a sandy shoreline never fails to soothe my soul — always eases my mind. My heart is filled with the magnificence of the ocean’s power. I feel that I belong to and am part of something larger than myself. I feel a connection with the heron, the eagle, the hawk and yes, even, the common seagull as they soar above the ocean’s current searching for their dinner.

The salty sea air invigorates me — I feel strong, but also, peaceful, calm and deeply connected to the planet and all who inhabit it.

The ocean is beautiful, powerful, life-giving.

The ocean is poetry.

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Mindfulness Thought: Be calm. Be now.