Category Archives: Vancouver

Handwriting is a lost art form or why I’m glad I learned to dot my I’s and cross my T’s

Vintage Spelling Test Book - 1981 - Jessica Doyle

So, I hand write letters to people and post them in the mail and rarely seem to receive a letter in return. And that’s OK. Perhaps, I’m one of the last hand writers left on earth. My grandmother used to write me back though. But she passed away a couple of years ago. Her handwriting was elegant and old style and it made me smile when I opened a letter from her to read. And, I notice as the years progress my own mother’s cursive handwriting is taking on that same scrolling form as is my own.

I tend to print in all caps though, and avoid cursive, as it’s slower to create and more cumbersome to lay down. My own handwriting is fast and deliberate; the letters flow seamlessly into one and other first forming sentences then paragraphs and pages and hence, volumes of journals.

While I lived in Vancouver from 2001 to 2005 the only medium I used was ink; more specifically Pilot G-tec C4 pens. I settled on that pen for writing after trying out a stupendous amount of pen brands. I spent that four years of my life purposefully writing and drawing in only ink. I wanted to eliminate the use of pencil and become adept at using only pen and ink on paper. At it’s height, it was all consuming; and emptying dry on average two pens per week. That is a lot of writing and drawing in this day and age.
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Traffic noise amidst the winds of change

The life was sucked out of me on 12th Avenue. The incessant traffic noise I wrote about on more than one occasion in my journal. It didn’t ebb and flow there but rather marched no cannon balled and madly screamed back and forth along that magnificent tree lined East Vancouver Street.

I remember mere moments of stillness when the traffic did stop for a light or for a pedestrian brave enough to cross through Continue reading

Seasonal Kaleidoscopes or Why I Like Winter

Each Winter I seem to migrate no hibernate into my dreams, put paint brush to hand and begin painting floral and embellished little artworks. Stroke after stroke I load the paintbrush and simply paint. I think it dawned on me that much of my recent angst was due to not letting my mind flow freely and for me that means creating sometimes anything.

While living in Vancouver I dearly missed Winter and the quietness it brought about. The seasons their blend into each other with Winter being but a blip of minor cold and incessant rain in December and January. There is no distinct separation of Fall to Winter and then Winter to Spring. And this really affected my psyche, as for 30 years I was acclimatized to distinct seasonal separations and time lapses. That first year I remember thinking when does Winter start or end for that matter? And when does Spring arrive? Yes, the Magnolia’s and Cherry tree blossom’s bloomed but the grass was green in February when I arrived, and it was 11º Celsius when I a stepped off the plane in a bulky Winter coat thinking I’ve arrived in paradise. Is this really Canada? Continue reading

Just Imagine touching the Intangible

Just Imagine touching the intangible by illustrator Jessica Doyle

You can’t say that you don’t crave escape from the every day, the mundane, the mediocre lifestyle that is your life (at times). We all get those moments where we want to plunge into another reality, someone else’s life perhaps, another world where things make sense and you are not left wondering why; things are the way they are.

In other lifetime’s we experience impossibilities; things that are considered strange to the ordinary person; maybe even deviant.

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Day Dreams

Deep guttural industrial clanks and crashes escape the fog of night traveling upwards into the residential neighborhood where I reside, from the shipyard, refinery and paper mill lining the coast.

Day Dreams

The fog is thick.

It is near impossible to see across the street at night. The only light that pierces is those yellow and orange ones that dot the city streets. Many years ago the city of Saint John adopted a new orange hued lighting system on it’s main thoroughfares as white street lights didn’t cut it in one of the foggiest cities on earth. Never drive here with your high beams on in the fog for you will be blind.

I have yet to decide if 57 days of rain in the Winter or 57 days of fog in the Summer is worse. Rain in Vancouver or fog in Saint John. Saint John has sunny Winters but it can have foggy cold Summers. All one has do is drive 20 minutes in any direction away from Saint John and you’ll most likely be met with gorgeous blue skies. And to narrow that drive down drive anywhere outside of the East Side of Saint John and be met with glorious sunshine.

We had one sunny day last week. Other than that one blissful day it has been down right cold, raining and miserable. And I was sick on that day. Dammit!

Funny thing with fog is that only deep noise penetrates it. A baritone’s voice would do well in such conditions while a soprano not so good.

The foghorn was invented here. A man named Robert Foulis happened to be walking one very foggy night in the 1800’s and heard piano keys tapping. He soon realized that only the deep keys traversed the fog while the higher notes were inaudible. And so the story goes that lighthouses soon after had a foghorn installed within. Funny that Wikipedia doesn’t mention the piano keys. Maybe it’s just locally known or an urban myth we were taught in elementary school.

Lucky me.

It’s a good to day to dream in Photoshop.

Day Dreams - original ink drawing

Above is the original ink drawing before I played with it in photoshop. The original sold back in March 2008 and belongs to an art collector in the United States.

Archival prints of Day Dreams are available in the art shop.

Three Psycho Snowmen or How to Identify Which Drug Your Snowman is Taking

The Opiate Addict

The Opiate Addict

He has very tiny pupils. His snow is dirty yet he appears to be happy. He chooses to dress in overly bright decorative scarves that have been out of style for 15 years.

The Amphetamines Addict

The Amphetamines Addict

Notice how happy, bright and shiny this snowman is! Look closely at his dilated pupils and dryed out mouth. He even sports his own hand made wooden pipe.

…and The Alcoholic

The Alcaholic

This snowman is depressed. His snow is dirty, his eyes are dull and his nose has gin blossomed. His clothes are clean but faded and old.

Three Psycho Snowmen

I come from a family of crafters and labourers who have what some may call a peculiar sense of humor. When you are couped up inside month after month during winter you need to do something to bide your time.

After living on Vancouver’s Eastside for four years I couldn’t help but laugh at these snowmen my folks made. All three do resemble mentally impaired folk art style candle holding drug addicts.

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The Secret to Distilling Fog

Fog surrounds every fiber of Saint John this night. The city is quiet. Only the street lights are visible a block away. I look out the deck doors to the trees illuminated by one particular street light; they say nothing yet tell me so much.

I was born and raised here. My mind was elsewhere. It didn’t find solace. Does it now? The fog is soothing, quiet and forbids quick movement except in stealth mode perhaps.

I stare in disbelief at the remnants of Vancouver, arriving in boxes daily that I shipped through Canada Post a week ago there. Every one must be carefully sorted outside, rebagged for laundering or placed in the deep freezer for two weeks to rid them of potential stowaway bed bugs. Those last couple of weeks living in Vancouver opened my eyes to real social issues facing the poorer citizens of the city. During the Moving BACK-EAST Sale neighbors came up to wish me well and say I was lucky to be able to leave and get away before it gets worse. Aquilini Investments has no right being a landlord. The city handed them $10 million dollars to prep the skydome for 2010. These people can afford to buy a bottle of wine for $12K yet they can’t or won’t pay to properly de-infest their rental properties of bugs. UPDATE – no stowaway bed bugs were found :)

I think about my friends living in that building, a few of whom are covered from head to toe with itchy bites, rashes and scabs all because the whole building has not been treated all at once. One apartment at a time. This really only pushes the bugs into another of the 59 dwellings.

Fog is filling me up. This is good I suppose. I want to jump. Something doesn’t feel right with the world. Then again it could just be me. Then again, now is the time to make a change for better and live my life the best way I can. Time to squeeze the water out of that sponge letting the bad evaporate and the good distill.

My family is kind. It’s good getting to know them all over again. I was never estranged but developed different ideas than they did about living or so I thought I had. I’m discovering we have much in common and that is inspiring. On a humorous note, I can diagnose every last one of them with some form of anxiety, attention deficit or obsessive disorder. We Easterners are dysfunctional. It’s GREAT!

I’ve lost and let go of an awful lot over these past months. The grieving process feels genuinely honest amidst this coastal fog. The many years of heartache, struggle and shame seem to melt away when you really have the time to rest your head on a clean comfy bed.