Home – The LEGO Businessman and the Oranges

December found us far from Home, though at a place we are learning to call home – our Snowbird place in Arizona. The gathering of the clan at Christmas was a smaller event than usual and Christmas morning was a quiet affair. At least it was until a stranger appeared in my Christmas stocking. He said he was just a Businessman, but there was something about his bowler hat that hinted he had a secret agenda.

We decided to spy on him! Armed with only our cameras and our wits, we syrupti… serrepti… surreptitiously followed him around for the next few days. Here is what we found:


Businessman spent a lot of time investigating a bowl of oranges.  On the surface, it all seemed innocent enough…

half oranges

But apparently there was one bad one in the bunch. Businessman coldly bisected it and skewered it with a cocktail fork.


Later that day, we found him up on the roof of the house with the stalk of another orange in his hand. We heard him whisper, “This is one body they are never going to find.”


Businessman’s behaviour was unsettling, so we quickly juiced the rest of the oranges and hoped he would leave. And leave he did. With only a cursory glance at the GPS and a stare that told us we should forget we had ever seen him…


he left in as mysterious a manner as he had arrived.


Days later, we read that a Businessman had lost his life in an unfortunate accident involving a paper shredder. It happened in Orange County, Florida.


The photos for this story were the result of a challenge. Each of us had to photograph the Businessman – no one else could see the result until all the photos were taken.

Of all modern notions, the worst is this: that domesticity is dull. Inside the home, they say, is dead decorum and routine; outside is adventure and variety. But the truth is that the home is the only place of liberty, the only spot on earth where a man can alter arrangements suddenly, make an experiment or indulge in a whim. The home is not the one tame place in a world of adventure; it is the one wild place in a world of rules and set tasks.

– G.K. Chesterton –

iPad Draw Something! There Be Pirates

The average man will bristle if you say his father was dishonest, but he will brag a little if he discovers that his great-grandfather was a pirate.
– Bern Williams –

I’ve been drawing again. The Draw Something app on my iPad is letting me express my creative talents. Okay, I realize I am rather talentless, but I’m having a good time drawing.

Can you guess what I was drawing? The category was ‘There Be Pirates’. Does that help? The word was 5 letters long.

There are many very talented cartoonists on the internet – here are a few that I have discovered:

Aren’t these people good? They can draw clothes!

Since my last post about Drawing (A Drawing Game) I’ve earned enough ‘coins’ to buy colours – including green, which the Draw Something app doesn’t include when you first start playing.

Now I can draw grass. A green squiggly line is grass. A similar squiggly line, only in blue, is water. You can see from my drawing above that I’ve drawn water – and not just plain water, but waves. Can you see the shark in the water? I hope not because I didn’t draw one. I think it would be very hard to draw a stick shark…

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.
John W. Gardner –

iPad Draw Something! for the iPad

Third Daughter and The Car Guy have been playing Draw Something on their iPads. They invited me to join, so I downloaded the App a few days ago. The premise is simple enough. Player 1 chooses one of 3 supplied words –  which they then illustrate. They send the resulting drawing to Player 2 who tries to guess what the word is. Player 2 is told how many letters are in the word, and they are given a selection of letters to choose from.

It is an odd game for us to play. None of us seem to have the artistic gene. Then, there is the issue I have with the colour palette. They only give you four colours: black, red, blue and yellow.  They don’t give you green. How can anyone draw without green?

Correct answers earn you some points and once you have enough points, I think you can trade them for more colours. Or maybe not. I’m not too clear about that part. But it doesn’t matter, because when three people who can’t draw very well play a game like this, it will be an awfully long time before we earn very many points.

Here is one of my very best drawings. Can you guess what word I was illustrating? It is 8 letters long and it has a ‘k’ in it.

Bev Doolittles’s Pictures Inside Pictures

Life is like a jigsaw puzzle but you don’t have the picture on the front of the box to know what it’s supposed to look like. Sometimes, you’re not even sure if you have all of the pieces.
– A Whack on the Side of the Head –

I finished a jigsaw puzzle while I was at the cabin last week. It was a difficult one, partly because the picture on the box was very small. Then there was all that sky, water, rocks and grass!

750 pieces and I was examining each one closely, looking for a certain shape or ever so slight colour variations. I was looking at the little picture, but wasn’t seeing the big one.

Even when the puzzle was done, I saw sky, water, rocks and grass – and a rider on a horse and some teepees – oh, and a rainbow.

jigsaw puzzle

Then I looked at it through the lens of the camera. Goodness, this is a picture of a wolf head! A very big wolf head. I sure didn’t see that coming.

The thing is, I should have known there would be a picture in a picture. The puzzle is from a piece of art by Bev Doolittle, and she is well known for the ways she uses context, design and pattern to hide images.

Every closed eye is not sleeping, and every open eye is not seeing.
– Bill Cosby –

I’m not the only one who sometimes misses the obvious, right? RIGHT?

How to Make Melted Crayon Art

Last fall each of my grown children purchased new crayons and artist’s canvas, and it wasn’t for the grand-children to take to school. No, they used a glue gun, a candle and a hair dryer to create a merger of the crayons and the canvas. Here is what they made:

The result was my Christmas Present last year.  I’m hoping they will do the same this year. I loved the results! One daughter, the one who lives to cook, presented me with this beautiful bundle of vegetables. I can only imagine how long it took to melt the crayons with a candle, then plant each melted bit onto the canvas!

Another daughter glued black, grey, white, green and yellow crayons onto the top of a canvas, then used a hair dryer to melt the pointed ends so they dripped. Note the new colours that formed near the bottom where one colour ran into another.

The third daughter – whose husband rides the same model of Harley that The Car Guy did – chose a Harley Davidson theme and colours. She combined the melted dot technique to outline the Harley logo, then she used the drip method on the ends of the crayons.

The only consultation between the three girls was the size of the canvas they were going to use. It was so wonderful to see how different each piece turned out!

There are lots of websites that explain the process for these projects. Here are a few:


Pink and Green Mama

Long Journey in the Creation of a Jug

A while ago I wrote a post called I Tried Being Subtle. It tells the story of how I came to make the Jug that is in this photo.

Today – same Jug, different photo and a brief discussion about the word Create.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.
-Steve Jobs-

I made this jug in a workshop taught by the famed potter, Michael Casson. The style is entirely his, but the jug is my creation.

I took the photograph of the jug. The camera was a creation of Panasonic, but the resulting picture is my creation.

I ran the photo through the FotoSketcher software that was created by a man named David in Lyon, France. The aftermath of using the Emergence effect is my creation.

I posted this photo in my blog, which is here because of the creative minds behind WordPress. But the blog itself is my creative home.

There is a gap of 20 plus years between when I made the jug and when I created this post. I would have done it faster, but I had to wait for so many others to be creative first…

Who was Al Capp and What is a Shmoo

Sun and shadow slice across the kitchen wall. The pillar above the sink is decorated with a figure called a Shmoo. Below it is a set of moose measuring spoons.

The Shmoo was a fictional animal created by Al Capp (not Andy Capp!) in 1948 for his classic comic strip, Li’l Abner. The Shmoo required no food itself, but was a perfect source of food for humans. It was a prolific breeder, so there were always enough of them to go around.  Shmoos didn’t need any care. They dropped dead with just a glance from anyone who was hungry. In addition to being food, they could become just about any other product a person wanted.

Can you imagine the fate of mankind in a world where everything is free and readily available? Can you imagine the fate of the Shmoo?

Origami – The Math of Fortune Telling

“Pick a colour!”
Schoop, schoop, schoop. (This is the best I can do at describing the sound made when a Paper Fortune Teller is manipulated.)
“Pick a number!”
Schoop, schoop, schoop, schoop, schoop, schoop.
“Pick another Number, and I’ll reveal your fortune!”
The flap with the number two is unfolded and the fortune is read: “You may be small but your ideas will be BIG!”

If I had received this fortune when I was a kid, would I have thought it was hokey? Or would I have thought ‘When I grow up I’m going to share all my BIG thoughts on a blog, which will be read by very few people, but I won’t care because…’  Of course, when I was a kid there was no internet and therefore no blogs, and I certainly didn’t think I was going to remain small, so I would have thought it was a dumb fortune.

But this was the fortune I got when I downloaded, and made a Paper Fortune Teller plan posted by the Children’s Author, Deborah L. Diesen. (She calls it a Cootie-Catcher, but that wasn’t a term used in my day.) Deborah warns that her fortune teller doesn’t really tell fortunes or predict the future, but I beg to differ with her!

When I was a kid, the Paper Fortune Teller would appear on the playground a few times each year (it was banned from the classroom, which was unfortunate.)  Once one person made one, everyone made one, and the craze would last for a week or two, then disappear. At the time, we didn’t know it was a very simple example of Origami and we certainly didn’t think about the geometric shapes we were creating when we folded a flat piece of paper into a three dimensional object.

Paper folding has likely been happening since paper was first invented! However, Origami as a Japanese art form began when paper first arrived in that country in the 6th Century. Paper was quite expensive at that time, so objects made from folded paper were reserved for special occasions. A butterfly, similar perhaps to the one I made, might have adorned the Sake bottles at a formal wedding ceremony.

Origami today is an entirely different duck as a result of the work of a number of  individuals who have described the mathematics of origami, extended the range of what can be folded, and applied origami to real world science situations. One of these ‘Folders’ is Robert Lang. You can see his remarkable Compositions on his website – Robert J. Lang Origami or you can listen to his story in the TED talk, Robert Lang Folds Way-New Origami.

Even the simplest Origami is not that easy as you will see when you try to open up the Paper Fortune Teller for the first time. As for the Butterfly I made – well, I won’t give you the link to the instructions because they were abysmal.

Happy Folding! May your mountains and valleys be crisp and precise!

Crayons – Launch of the Summer Art Season

Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon … And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air  … and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth — boxes of Crayolas.
– Robert Fulghum (All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things) –

For the past few summers, the grandchildren have arrived at the cabin shortly after school lets out. Their invasion means the launch of the Summer Art Season. Crisp white or coloured construction paper, freshly sharpened pencils and pencil crayons, scissors, glue and the good old wax crayon – all stand ready for action.

multi colorsThis particular box of crayons is a mix of old ones and new ones; ones with sharp points and ones with rounded ends; ones with new paper covers and ones that have lost their paper; favourite colours and seldom used ones. The wax crayon is the tool of choice when a large swath of colour needs to be laid down!  At the end of each day, pictures are cleared off the dinner table, then sorted and stacked in the drawing cupboard where they await their fate. Some will see the light of day again on the door of a fridge. Some will take pride of place in a scrapbook, and some will get scanned and saved in a folder of cherished memories. Some, well, they still sit in a stack in the cupboard at the cabin.  I’ll see if the kids want to use them to light the first bonfire of the season – this could be the launch of a new tradition!

A Picture is worth a thousand Words. In a 483 word essay, The Phrase Finder explains where this saying comes from, ending with the comment, “Perhaps I should have drawn half a picture?”

Art Galleries: A totally different kind of art is being offered to the public for virtual viewing. It is called Art Project, and it is powered by Google. Similar to Google Earth, this website gives the viewer the opportunity to browse through art museums around the world. Not only can you walk the corridors, you can zoom in on the art, which is presented in super high resolution.

I quickly navigated to Amsterdam and London to revisit a few of my favourite pieces of art. Although it is not nearly as exciting as being in the galleries for real, Google has done an excellent job at making great art accessible to the world.

Duct Tape – Product with a Million Uses

One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop.
– G. Weilacher –

How often have you observed people’s ability to take a perfectly ordinary utilitarian product and turn it into something quite extraordinary, or at the very least unexpected? You know, things like wine bottle corks that become bulletin boards, plastic milk jugs that are made into lamps… stuff like that. Another product that is very versatile and has been used to make all sorts of things is Duct Tape.

Duct Tape – I can’t picture a roll of it without thinking of The Red Green Show,  specifically the segment called  Handyman Corner. There wasn’t a thing Red couldn’t fix if he used enough rolls of Duct Tape. In one episode, he tried to duct tape the Ontario-Quebec border as a potential solution to Quebec separatism, (and who can dispute the fact that so far it has worked… )

The Car Guy and I got these wonderful duct tape gifts this year from the Middle Daughter and her husband. On the left is my shiny black purse, and on the right is his two tone wallet (complete with some Canadian Tire money.)

A quick search of the internet turns up any number of sites that feature Duct Tape Projects: Duck Tape Club and Duct Tape Crafts are just a few I found.

Personally, I will be making some sort of protective case for my new iPad2, perhaps with embedded magnets to take advantage of the magnetic properties of the iPad2.

Magnetism is one of the Six Fundamental Forces of the Universe, with the other five being Gravity, Duct Tape, Whining, Remote Control, and The Force That Pulls Dogs Toward The Groins Of Strangers.
– Dave Barry –