Thursday, February 28, 2013

dragon fruit

Some dragon fruit  which I bought for the first time, waiting to become ripe enough to be tasted.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

new ink

My foray into the world of fountain pens and inks continues with the purchase of some proper ink (80 dollars worth!). After tinkering around with the pens, cleaning, realigning, adjusting parts, and reassembling, I've finally been able to get things working. The colours I chose were a bit more subdued in this sketch than what I imagined (partly because the dip pens I used weren't cleaned properly each time), but I felt like a new world of subtle possibilities has opened up.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

wrong ink!

The Noodler's Ink Ahab Fountain Pen I bought a few weeks ago was a hit, and I have loved using it. Wanting to experiment with colour (without dip pens), I bought another Ahab, along with two of the slightly cheaper (and smaller) Noodler's Creaper pens, so that I could fill them with other colours. These sheets are the result of some experimenting...I still prefer the Ahab pen, as it gives me a much cleaner, crisper line with easier manipulation of width. The Creaper pen is still good, with a more consistent, softer line, while still allowing expressiveness. Both cannot beat the flexibility of certain metal nibs on dip pens, although I was surprised how spontaneously I changed my technique depending on the personality of the pen. Each has its own great quality.

I quickly found that the new pens were getting clogged. I had been using the wrong type of ink unsuitable for fountain pens. I rinsed the pens immediately... and now need to acquire new ink. This has become an expensive endeavor.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

the funeral

A scene from the funeral of my wife's great-aunt, who passed away at the ripe old age of 98... and some of the flowers that decorated the intimate celebration of her beautiful life.

"When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.'
    “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?” "

1Corinthians 15:54-55 (NIV)

Monday, February 11, 2013

going home...

A dear relative of my wife, her great-aunt, passed away today in Calgary.   She was 98 years old.

When we last visited with her last Wednesday at the nursing home, she had not eaten a good ten days or so, and had her eyes closed the whole time. Her bedsore wounds had become so unbearable that she was under medication to ease the pain, but we sensed that she knew we were all there as she garnered enough strength to blurt out "bye" after our teary goodbye greetings and prayers.

Although at times a difficult journey -- including life in the internment camp, the death of her first husband and enduring a difficult second marriage -- she lived a life rich in stories, many which my wife continues to recount to me with much longing. These stories usually revolve around the house near rural Redwater (north of Edmonton) where she lived alone for decades and well into her 80s. A vast cohort of relatives and friends of my wife's generation (mostly urban) were embraced wholeheartedly, spending time to experience the prairies as the prairies should be experienced -- on a farm. She had no children of her own, but took in all kinds of visitors under her gentle wing, often teaching new young immigrants from Japan (many who had never set foot on a farm in their lives) the joys of the vegetable garden and where to pick matsutake mushrooms.

That legacy flourishes to this day as many of our own friends trace their Christian spiritual journeys to those moments of time spent tending the garden and witnessing the fruit of their labour nurtured by the grace of God. I have only known her for ten years or so, but witnessing the beauty of that farm (sadly sold off several years ago) was a powerful event for me. It connected the humble history of the struggles and the joys of an entire ethnic Canadian community to my own, and somehow I was comforted to know that I too could make my life here on the prairies...

She was a rather quiet woman, a strong silent type, but often with a down-to-earth humour and playful wit. Her giggly laughter will always be remembered... and we are comforted to know that that is what she is doing in Jesus' presence as she worships Him in heaven.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

winter skyline

I've been able to spend a bit of time sketching the downtown skyline from across the River Valley in the late spring,
and now the mid-winter. It's days like today, with clear, crisp blue skies, that help bring out the beauty of this city in the winter, and make this long season bearable.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chinese New Year at WEM

The Ice Palace (skating rink) at West Edmonton Mall is a grand event space this weekend as it is packed with people celebrating the Chinese New Year. At the centre of the venue is a temporary stage showcasing musical and dance performances by the local Chinese community, which my kids enjoyed very much.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Some elderly ladies play bingo at a nursing home in Calgary, helped by some of the nursing staff. All of the residents around the table are in wheelchairs, but they still radiate vitality as they banter and erupt in bouts of laughter. Though we visited someone to be an encouragement, I felt I received some in return as I sat in their presence and sketched them.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kallin Chinese Restaurant

 at one of our favourite Chinese restaurants: Kallin on 109 Street, with some Chinese new year decorations... 

Monday, February 4, 2013

104 Avenue, downtown, eastwards...

The view eastwards along 104 Avenue from a building on the MacEwan University campus, framed by MacEwan's totemic concrete markers, the Epcor, CN, and City Square Towers, and the glass pyramids of city hall. The vista leads across the North Saskatchewan River towards the horizon that is dotted with more towers, the chimneys belonging to the oil refineries in Strathcona County.

Ice on Whyte Festival ice slide

The weather has once again warmed up to near-zero, and we took the opportunity to make a short morning trip to the Ice on Whyte festival. Among the selection of ice sculptures throughout the venue, the main feature is arguably this three tiered giant ice slide -- itself a monumental sculpture of snow -- dominating the winter cityscape with its hoodoo-like forms, and glowing in the sun against the bright blue sky. Throughout my ten years in this city, I've discovered that Albertans are a hardy bunch, able to find ways to endure the harsh winters with a sense of joy and celebration.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

kids' craft time

The parents were invited to observe a portion of the community school kindergarten class that my daughter attends on Fridays, and I did some quick sketches as they made some paper masks during craft time. 

Friday, February 1, 2013


a pot of pink cyclamen flowers given to us during Christmas...