Thursday, 18 December 2014

Merry Christmas

This time of year, my family joyfully retreats. We've good company and good travels ahead. And most of all, we have celebration. Love meets us wherever we're at, and we're so very grateful.
I'll return to the drawing table in 2015. Happy New Beginnings!


Christmas is coming. Grandma and Grampa are coming. And creativity workshops are a-coming:
Tis the season to feed our souls!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

I will be enough

Twice a week, I sit at my desk from 7:00am until 2:00pm, and something magical and distressing happens---it's a blink. It's me at 6:59, opening my Feedly, pulling out my pens and turning on a podcast with a wiiiiide open day and then it's 1:59 scrambling out the door to meet the school bus. The only other time in my life I've felt time not pass like I do on these sacred two days is when I used to run long distances. That body and that brain are of a former self, and I'd long forgotten that Flow could be a reality.  It's Just. So. Great.

Today during that greatness, I binged on podcasts and heard a spiritual leader say that we need to stop saying, "I'll never be _______." Instead we need to say, "I'll never be as ________ as I want to be, but I will be enough." I'm not sure that applies to all circumstances, but it applies to some.

And it applies to this: I'm trying to take risks this year. To make use of these days (as they will not exist next year) and to write and draw in ways I've only fantasized over. Part of that is illustrating a story, and these snapshots are sketches from a book about grandmas. There are all kinds of grams out there, and they all share one thing in common. They love those grandbabies. Whether they show it in hugs or they show it in emails, they love those grandbabies. Here's two of 'those ladies:

This book will never look like I want it to, but it will be enough. And that will have to be okay. Because having time to create "okay" is a blessing indeed.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Loading up for the holidays

In this tropical land of fake IKEA trees, we sometimes see the occasional farm animal strapped on a motorcycle, but we never see this:

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Thanks, Tom

I have absurd things I worry about. Will I ever find an old copy of the Good Times America coloring book (best coloring book ever from my childhood, published by Troubador Press also the makers of Fat Cat, which will show you the brilliance of their artists)? Will my son suffer some sort of loss from not having Saturday morning cartoons? Does Netflix make It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown less special? Will companies continue to publish road atlases even though we all have Garmins? Do people know what I'm talking about when I say "Mutual of Omaha"?

I'm sure my parents worried about me not knowing the glories of their formative decades, but I honestly don't remember them talking about it much except for a few movies forced on me and some spectacular big collared shirts I liked to see my dad wear.

I worry about those things. I worry about how our family does not know what it's like to drop everything for Simon and Simon on Thursdays since Oscar doesn't even know TV. I worry about things being "special" since there's so little we have to wait for. I worry about making my mom's braided Easter bread and creating traditions and being expats in a humid climate where the dough doesn't rise right.

And this week, Tom Magliozzi died. And, well, I've been grieving in ways that aren't particularly helpful. I have worried for a long time that my son doesn't know Hee Haw or the Bob Hope Christmas program or how to rake the perfect pile of fall leaves. Since I was in high school, I listened to Tom and Ray. And my son won't.  So, I'm hyperbolically thinking on what I want this family to carry with them. Because when I say "our fair city", they will not know what I'm talking about, and that feels like a loss.

But, when I say, "naughty naughty naughty!" They know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about Ms. Pearly from the immersion local school that was such a good (horrific) idea when Oscar was two and scarred him for life, as he was the only English speaker and had to sit in rows and flip through books of Mandarin characters in silence when he couldn't even put on his own shoes and would rather be licking the windows. They know what I mean when I holler, "Come on home!" They know it's time to put on Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and have a family sing-a-long because home for us truly is "wherever I'm with you."  They know what I mean when I say we're flying out of Terminal 2. Oscar quickly stuffs socks in his backpack because the slide at the play area there is righteous when you have slippy feet, and just like the Great Pumpkin--we really do wait all year for it.

Oscar will not know Tom. Or maybe we'll make him listen to archives. But when I'm laughing with Oscar and Patrick over Terminal 2 anticipation and the totalitarian Chinese preschool, I'm creating our own sense of normal, routine, and tradition.

But gosh, Tom. Thanks. Thanks for hours of smiling in the car. I can't wait to see what Oscar worries over for his kiddos:

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Keeping community

I meet once a month with a group of women (we cheekily call ourselves Design Dames) that are all pursuing different creative passions. None of us wear one title comfortably, but among the four of us are writers, photographers, filmmakers, bloggers, speakers, illustrators, teachers, consultants, artists, graphic designers, and every combination in between.

I leave every meeting with a list of learnings, and it's a list worth sharing. Last night I learned about significant happenings in the Singapore publishing world, and I also learned I can live stream the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. (woo hoo!) In our group, both ends of the spectrum matter. I learned I should read How Children Succeed, Ignore Everybody, and Amy Poehler's new book. These women are good company and good people. They know when to take themselves seriously and when to just order another round of fries.

But today, alone in my study with only my own too-serious voice, I wrestled with knowing how to wear my hats well and didn't have anyone nearby to remind me that what's happening here isn't brain surgery. Thankfully, I stumbled onto On Being and a tremendous interview with the tattooed Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. And like my Design Dames affirmed and Bolz-Weber echoed, perspective and purpose comes from community. I'm an introvert through-and-through, but man, I need others.

After that, it seemed the right thing to doodle some images that will end up as gifts. And later, I will eat some fries.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Monday, 13 October 2014


I'm back from three quick nights in inspiring India.  Patterns are whirling!
Tara Books took two visits. Such beauty!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Singapore Autumn

We've had a long and happy October weekend, where we saw local sights,  got outside, and celebrated an early Canadian Thanksgiving with good neighbors. Stirring up fall spirit in Singapore means sweating in a 90 degree kitchen and shooing geckos away while one makes apple-cranberry chutney out of lingonberries she bought at IKEA and possibly a mango.

While I've had my share of cranky pants days resenting those contrasts and sighing a lot, this weekend was all about celebrating what makes this place weird and wonderful. It started with a date night drinking happy hour pints that were twice as much a US six pack (each...ack!) followed by a crowded MRT ride where the subway passenger next to me was wearing shoes made of old computer keyboards. We popped out on Orchard Road to witness the pilot of "pedestrian night." The advertisement said Singapore's version of 5th Avenue would be closed to traffic and open to shoppers. Is everyone with me that you too assume we'll all be allowed onto the road for a festive evening of European-like piazza strolling? They didn't allow a foot on the car-less pavement. As an expat, you have a choice with those "but WHYs?". You can laugh and say, "And I was here to witness it," or you can smash your head against a wall. Every day. Twelve times a day. I find I like myself and those around me a whole lot better when we all opt for the former. So, forced-chuckling, we tried very hard to make it to a side street before we were smothered to death in the massive fenced-in crowds all there to marvel at the empty space into which we were not permitted.

Singapore is small, but somehow, just a kilometer from our door there is a seemingly endless bike path network where we spent Sunday dodging sunning lizards instead of frenzied shoppers. Unlike the previous evening, at times we were all alone with the turtles and kingfishers and ginormous tankers--the latter blurring the coastline between us and Malaysia. We've certainly had prettier (and cooler) autumn rides along the Vltava River and Birch Bay's tide flats, but this is our now, and it feels all right.

And how can you not be All Right when thirty or so neighbors (and that's not all of them!) gathered later for a potluck feast? There were butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, orange sauce, pecan studded casseroles, and Rice Krispy turkeys made out of ingredients one can only find in North America. We did a superb job raising blood sugar levels and channeling our inner autumns:

If I had to pick a favorite month---one degree north of the equator or not---it is our now:

Thursday, 2 October 2014