Friday, October 27, 2023

just hanging out...

Some recent sketches... hanging out at a local coffee shop before a site meeting, and chillin' at home...

It's been a while since last doodling at a cafe... loving the Paper Mate pen's ability to make me loosen up and be spontaneous (top 4 sketches); also a perfect pen to use alone with opportunities for quick washes with water. I'll have to buy a box of them. 

Bottom image is with my trusted Pilot fountain pen, which I've been using 95 percent of the time for four and a half years. I've learned to control it. I trust it and know its ink flow.

I realized there's an interesting dynamic between pen, paper, drawing subject, and style, in which it's not so much me solely choosing the tools based on what I think I want to achieve, but the instrument and medium and subject (and me) all meeting somewhere in the middle to produce something of a collaboration. I get to choose the tools, but those tools, in turn, change me...and even the way I see.


Sunday, September 10, 2023

All the sketches from Burstall Pass Trail and beyond... Day 3

Sketch dump day 3:

We had an extended lunch break at Burstall Pass on the trek back to the trailhead, giving us an opportunity to explore Snow Peak and the expansive long views all around. 

Mount Leman, Leman Lake, with Sharks Fin and Mount Soderholm in the background

The view northwest from the pass (sans Mount Assiniboine...😅  )

Snow Peak, from Burstall Pass

Rock formations along Snow Peak

Pig's Tail

Mount Birdwood

Saturday, September 9, 2023

All the sketches from Burstall Pass Trail and beyond... Day 2

Second day's "sketch dump": 

After the previous day's trudge up and over Burstall pass, the group takes a leisurely hike westwards to the BC border, and we hang out at Leman Lake all afternoon...with some extended time for a couple of larger panoramic sketches.

Snow Peak
Mount Leval from the camp site river
Smutwood Peak, Mount Smuts, and the lower flanks of Snow Peak from the campsite
Snow Peak... again
Mount Leval from the lake
Mount Smuts across Leman Lake
Smutwood Peak
Smutwood Peak, Mount Smuts, and a part of Snow Peak from the lake
Glacier-nursing Mount Sir Douglas, Mount Williams, Sir Douglas W2 from the campsite
Burstall Pass, Whistling Ridge, and Mount Sir Douglas from Leman Lake
Snow Peak
Smutwood Peak and lower parts of Snow Peak
The last two sketches... combined

Friday, September 8, 2023

All the sketches from Burstall Pass Trail and beyond... Day 1

I survived my first backpacking hike involving 2 nights of camping, which happened a few weeks ago on a gloriously sunny weekend. Thankfully my knees withstood the weight of extra food, clothing, and camping equipment. I might even do it again... 

Day 1 entailed a 12km hike with 11 other (mostly younger) hikers on a trail parallel to Burstall Creek in Peter Lougheed Provincial park, across Burstall Pass and into Banff National Park where we reached our camp ground...with some opportunities to quickly capture most of the major peaks along the way on a small 3.5x5.5in Moleskine sketchbook.  

Commonwealth Peak
Whistling Ridge

Pig's Tail

Commonwealth Peak...again

Snow Peak from the camp/Spray River

Snow Peak from the camp/Spray River... again

Mount Sir Douglas, with its glacier

Mount Leman

Smutwood Peak, from the meadows by Spray River

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Maundy Thursday, and some thoughts about washing feet

Maundy Thursday

The imagery of washing one another's feet is especially strong this evening as I witnessed my wife washing an elderly friend's feet during a Maundy Thursday service a few hours ago.

As I ponder Jesus' final week before his death on the Cross, and the particular incident recorded in the Gospel when Jesus washed his disciples' feet, I can't help but reflect (again) on the death of my parents 12 years ago, for they both in their own ways showed Jesus to me. 

On the morning my father passed away, my mother, my sister and I had the opportunity to wipe my father's body in one of the most meaningful rituals I have ever experienced. I remember gently wiping his feet with a warm towel. It was probably something he wouldn't have allowed us to do while he was alive. The feet that carried the weight of seven tumultuous decades -- rough, calloused, grey-haired, wrinkly -- now seemed so incredibly frail. We knew he was no longer here, but yet the act of washing his feet gave me an overwhelming sense of closure, acceptance, and gratitude. Time moved slowly. It was a sacred, purifying moment in which I was the one being cleansed.

Less than a year later, my mother was spending her last weeks confined to a hospital bed, her feet swollen from the effects of failing cancer treatments. My sister and I spent countless hours massaging those aching, pale round feet; my hands still remember the sensation of them. Those long afternoons by her bed felt dreadful, the silence sometimes painful, but we endured them largely by taking turns rubbing and washing her feet. As an adult son, initially it took courage to even touch the feet of my own mother... it was perhaps the first time since early childhood to experience that kind of physical proximity. I realized then that it was me, the one washing and massaging her feet, that needed to become vulnerable in her presence. In doing so, in her dying moments, the act of washing brought me closer to my mother in unexpected ways. It gave her children an opportunity to be present to her without saying anything, and serving her in the most basic and intimate way. It was a way in which my my sister and I were brought together, in community and in devotion.

Exposing one's feet -- arguably the dirtiest, ugliest, roughest, most utilitarian and overused part of the body -- takes courage. Touching those of another, and allowing them to be touched and washed, takes even more courage. Today, I am struck by the wisdom in Jesus' commandment and action in washing the feet of others as a way to break barriers, form the basis of community, and be transformed.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas Eve 2022















 "Around Thee there in worship

Our choicest gifts we'll pour, 

Our gold, and myrrh, and incense, 

Thy lowly Throne before; 

And when this life is over, 

And all its clouds are riv'n, 

Thy love -- the Star we've follow'd -- 

Shall be our Sun in Heav'n."

WH Turton 1885

Sunday, April 17, 2022

He is risen!

on Easter Sunday: 

"Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!"

 Charles Wesley (1739)

Easter lilies

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Holy Saturday

"Now is the Lord brought to peace

    My Jesus, goodnight!

The trouble is over, which our sins caused for him.

    My Jesus, goodnight!

O sacred bones,

See how I weep for you with penance and remorse

That my fall has brought you into such distress!

    My Jesus, goodnight!

As long as life lasts

Have a thousand thanks for your sufferings

For having valued so highly the salvation of my soul

    My Jesus, goodnight!"


from J.S.Bach, St. Matthew's Passion BWV244, No. 67, libretto by C.F.Henrici (Picander), 1729. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Thoughts on Good Friday

A thought on this one day of the year on which we contemplate Jesus' death, and not His resurrection...

Despite -- or perhaps, because of -- all the attending pain, uncertainty, and even conflict that the journey entailed, I never felt more spiritually attentive than when I faced and experienced the death of my father and my mother. That was over ten years ago.

I wonder if Jesus experienced something similar as he faced his own death... a heightened intimacy and spiritual attunement in the presence of the Holy Ghost and the will of the Father,

   so much so, that his agonizing prayers in the Garden of Gesthemane entailed not just sweat but blood;

   so much so that on the night before Golgotha he could pray "not my will but Yours", despite the wrathful, absolute separation from the presence of God that he was about to experience;

   so much so, that he could care for his mother, his disciples, even his tormentors as he himself bled to death.

I wonder if I too could be just as attuned to the will of God when my time comes -- a certain death that could arrive tomorrow, even tonight.

O God, is it selfish of me to pray that you would spare me and let me live even just one day longer, so that I too would be so attuned to your Spirit and your will?

   Lord, have mercy.
   Christ, have mercy.
   Lord, have mercy.


a wooden cross from Ethiopia

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Hot Cross Buns... and a Maundy Thursday reflection


Maundy Thursday is a day to meditate on the last supper and the washing of the disciples' feet... events in which Jesus models for us the practice of hospitality.

Today my wife and I attended a Celebration of Life service of a long-time family friend -- a widow and mother of three adult children. She passed away just over ten days ago on a cloudy Sunday morning, to be in Jesus' presence.

Yesterday, we received in the mail a card that she wrote to us just days before her death.

She had filled the entire inside surface of the card, her small handwritten pen marks visibly shaky, a testimony to her failing strength. Her words of gratitude, blessing, resolve, and hope brought tears to our eyes. I hope that I too could face my final days this way -- with words of thanksgiving and encouragement to those who will be left grieving. 

By her actions, even into her final hours, she showed a willingness to practice hospitality; she created a place and a space in which we were invited and felt welcome to receive grace.

We received gracious other treats today, from others with a great sense of hospitality; a neighbour and a friend both baked hot cross buns for us. To receive these gifts was an incredible reminder that these small acts of hospitality really matter -- that in fact they are not small at all. 

Washing the feet of guests and enjoying a meal together were not in themselves extraordinary actions. Yet they were recorded in the Gospels; they changed the course of history.

I am grateful for the encouragement that I have received throughout today by the words and actions of others who sustain us and give us hope, and in turn give us the strength to be gracious to others in an often hostile world.

May the Spirit of God be with us as we remember Jesus' death and resurrection in the coming days.


Monday, April 11, 2022

a Palm Sunday prayer

On this Palm Sunday... 
I pray that the raging war within my heart
    Fueled by
    Wanes and cedes
        as we welcome
           The Prince of Peace
    Whose gentle and triumphant entry
        Signals to us,
                Once and for all
                Yet again
        Another Way of living.
Hosanna in the highest!


Friday, January 7, 2022


A drawing triptych finished over the Christmas break, based on some recent panel designs for a church that wanted to reuse a pile of salvaged cedar planks. The intent was to evoke reflection on the Gospel story with opportunity for multiple interpretation, within a language unique to the material at hand, and easily assembled by the congregation. 

From left to right: 

"The Incarnation",  "The Cross", and "Priesthood".


A second triptych -- variations on the cross -- entitled "Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus".

Monday, January 3, 2022

Third Dose...

 Fifteen minutes to kill as we wait... 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021


It's our turn to host a Christmas supper, and another 25 pound turkey comes out of the oven successfully, much to our relief. Meanwhile the kids enjoy some precious time with some cousins.


Friday, December 24, 2021

organic vegetables

Various goodies are delivered to the office at this time of year, usually taking the form of chocolates, cookies, or bottles of wine. One of this year's unique gifts included a generous bag of organic vegetables from Peas on Earth via Bountiful Market, given to us by a client group and which I got to take home...beets, a squash, and parsnips.