Monthly Archives: October 2014

Death Cat – Halloween version

This piece started with a photo off Wikimedia Commons.  It was inspired by a series of posts on Gigi’s blog called Conversation With Death which is now being turned into a book. Meepglowsml


Death Cat in Progress


Paw Teddy

At last I have a cat with plain paw pads so I can do this:


(By the way, I drew on the photo, not on the kitty.)

Thank You Card

I try to do considerate things like giving people heading for the ticket machine my car park ticket if it has plenty of time left on it, buying the Big Issue, donating to charity shops, letting people in a rush go ahead of me in a queue, that kind of thing.  All of those things though have one thing in common.  The people on the receiving end can see me, and they usually thank me with a smile, and that makes me feel good.  My acts of kindness are thus not entirely altruistic – I get pleasure from cheering someone up plus my ego gets a bit of a stroke.  Next month’s topic on the Artists4Peace Blog is “Random Acts of Art and Kindness“.  When I saw this I decided to do something different.  I wrote an anonymous thank you card to someone whom I had only spent a few minutes with.  This is what I wrote:
Peacock decorative vase Louis Comfort Tiffany

When dealing with officialdom it is refreshing to come across a worker like yourself: someone pleasant and helpful who does what they say they will promptly and carefully.  You brightened my day so I wanted to brighten yours.  I hope this works.

Best wishes from a satisfied “customer”.

I wrote it on a nice card which had a picture of a stained glass panel by Tiffany.  (I’ve been a Tiffany fan ever since I saw the collection in the Haworth Art Gallery, U.K. as a child.  I went back a few years ago with my mother and daughter, and we had a lovely time.)  Now that it’s been a while since I sent it, I find that I’m worried about it.  Did she like it or did she think it was creepy?  I have no idea.  I can’t look in her eyes and know that I made a difference.  I’m not sorry I did it but I’ve found it to be a whole different experience from usual.  I expected that I wouldn’t feel so good but I didn’t expect to be worried.

Maybe my ego wants me to publish this for some more ego-stroking so please don’t say anything nice!  Feel free NOT to comment on this one!  I’m posting it a) because I found it interesting and b) because I want to make sure I have something to submit to the Artists4Peace blog (my muse is sleeping at the moment).  🙂

Taking a Moment to Just Breathe

liffe is good SMALL

Duck and Cover

The violent-retaliation camp are firmly dug into their trenches.  My “chain of violence” idea didn’t make it beyond no-man’s land.  So here’s my next salvo, courtesy of a man who is better with these word thingies than I:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral

begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.

Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I expect this to be as effective as a chocolate teapot but I’m posting it anyway, so there.  🙂  I’m ready, head between legs, kissing my ass goodbye…

Manga Studio 5

My brother has started using Manga Studio. No doubt he will soon surpass me, as he does with many things. 😀


Having watched numerous tutorial videos, read a lot of reviews and listened to my sister for once I finally realised that Manga Studio 5 might be something I could use to draw some cartoon stuff. It is very early days but here is my second Manga face (the first is too bad to post):


This was drawn using Mark Crilley’s recommended symmetry and while not perfect I am pleased enough with the result to have confidence in doing some character designs for a comic version of one of my books that probably won’t ever see the light of day and probably won’t actually be Manga.

The software is very easy to use in comparison to the Adobe Creative Suite applications which at times I have found can be a total nightmare. Some of the added advantages of Manga Studio are summarised as follows:

  • perspective rulers are easy to set up…

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Rude Awakenings

This post follows on from the previous one; it was prompted by a comment from Colleen.  Below is an excerpt from a book called “Rude Awakenings – Two Englishmen on Foot in Buddhism’s Holy Land” (which is available at no cost via this website).  It is the first of two books written by a Buddhist monk (Ajahn Sucitto) and a layman (Nick Scott) about a pilgrimage they did in India in 1990-91.  This section is written by Ajahn Sucitto.  I can post the same incident from Nick’s perspective if you’re interested.


It was about expectation, surely; that was the heart of the problem.  I was expecting India to live up to my projections of a “spiritual place.”  What that seemed to mean was that it would allow me to stand back from it and feel balanced.  And that was a demand that India refused to comply with.  The way out, surely, was in letting go: let go of getting a clear picture, let go of wanting things to be my way, especially as I didn’t even know what “my way” was.  Letting go: although it feels like dying, it gives you the freedom to live without self-importance.

I remember sitting in the garden of the forest resthouse while Nick was engaged in the lengthy parleys with the officials; we were about to wander off through a forest supposedly infested with bandits.  At one point even talk of an armed guard arose, but one was not forthcoming.  Oh well, I should prepare.  There was nothing to prepare.  Wait.  I had a careful shave, by touch, dipping the razor into my steel mug of cold water and fingering my chin and face.  There.  Ready to go into the unknown.

We walked for an hour, my outer robe folded and tucked over the top of my bag.  The bag was hanging on my left shoulder.  Across my chest was slung the water bottle and mug so that they dangled by my right side.  It was from behind me on that side that the little chap approached.  He caught hold of my mug, and as I turned, asked in Hindi where we were going.  There were others with him; they were the men who had been sitting on top of the dead buffalo.  “To the next village,” I said as he tugged my mug urgently.  “What is it? Do you want this thing?  It’s only a mug…”

Then everything blew up.  Nick turned round with a menacing expression on his face; someone was tugging my robe on one side while the first man was hauling frantically at the mug on its strap on the other.  Three men charged at Nick who was crouched boxer-style; he wheeled and hit them with his backpack, then ran off with the three of them in hot pursuit.  I was being lugged in two directions simultaneously by the strap on my water bottle and on my bag, I could only try to get the stuff off and let them have it, but their pulling on it made that impossible.  We were going round in circles, with their excitement spinning into frenzy.  I had to stop this.  “Wait! Wait! Let me get this stuff off!”  Momentarily they stood still.  They all had axes and staves.  The leader glared at me through twisted features and raised his axe.

Funny how your mind goes clear when the options disappear.  Why struggle against the inevitable?  The only freedom was to go without fear.  I bowed my head and pointed the top of my skull toward him, drew the blade of my hand along it from the crown of my head to the brow.  “Hit it right there.”  Something shifted; he backed off, waving his axe and muttering angrily.  I stepped forward and repeated the action.  Give it away; let it all go.

Things settled.  He lowered his axe.  I slipped off the bag and the water bottle and stepped back.  The three of them began excitedly picking over the treasure.  I imagined that they’d rummage around, find there was nothing there of any value, and run off.  Two of them picked up the gear and scurried down the track a way.  I felt shaky and sat down.  Better keep cool – I started chanting softly.  Then Nick ambled along with a smile but without his pack or assailants.  “I’ve hidden the money; Bhante, are you all right?”

His return signaled further frenzy.  As his assailants returned, the men charged at him with their sticks and began swinging blows; Nick caught most of them on his arms: “All right, all right! I’ll show you where.”  And the mob had streamed off into the forest by the time that I got to my feet, leaving me with one lad, who sullenly resisted my attempts to strike up a conversation.  But he was mellow compared to the older men when they returned – without Nick or the bags.  They jumped on me and pulled off the bag that I had around my neck containing the relics and Buddha image; they ripped off the waistband that was threaded through my pouch; they clawed under my sabong and dragged the passport out of another pouch that was hanging around my waist.

Then they were off with the loot tied up in bundles on their heads.  The leader turned around and said “Your bags are over there,” pointing into the forest.  “Fine, OK.” I said, in a vaguely warm way.  The forest went back to silence as usual … a sunny day, with the forested slopes on either side.

I am not sharing this so we can pass judgment on any of the men in the story.  Rather, I offer it up as a prompt for reflection.  One idea that the story illustrates is that violence begets violence (if you read the story from Nick’s perspective you will find that he received quite a beating).  One ends up with the chain of violence that I tried to talk about in my last post.  Another idea illustrated in the story is a core idea in Buddhism: that the more tightly we cling to things – our possessions, our sense of self, our very lives – the more we suffer.  Please let me know what lessons this story brings to you.

Chain of Violence

I don’t often write political pieces (or comment on them) because I’m painfully aware of my ignorance in this arena.  However, this month on “Artists For Peace” the topic is “Against Violence” and I felt compelled to write.

I keep reading blog posts about how we should fight against injustice and violence, etc.  They seem to think that “turning the other cheek” is about ignoring the problem or about cowardice.  However, as far as I am concerned, there is nothing braver than to meet violence with nonviolent resistance.  You cannot fight fire with fire.  That just leads to escalation, and builds up more hatred, resentment and desire for revenge: a chain of violence.  There is nothing braver than to risk it all to stand up for your belief in peace; fight with the flames of your heart.  I can’t say whether I would be brave enough to do it myself because I haven’t been tested.  Maybe I would be brave enough if my children were fully grown and independent, I don’t know.


You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.

Indira Gandhi

I know that if a nation were to give up its arms in today’s world it would be a suicidal and irresponsible thing to do.  If you live surrounded by people who bear arms then to practice non-violence is very risky.  However, I still believe that the right to not bear arms is something that we should work towards for nations and for individuals.

Knitwits & Crafty Stitchers

I had to go to Galway today.  Galway is one of my favourite cities (not that I’m familiar with that many, mind you).  Today I stumbled upon a little gem tucked away on an industrial estate (Liosban Business Park to be precise).  It can be hard to find supplies in the West of Ireland so I was delighted to find such a well-stocked shop with reasonably-priced yarn.  People tell me to shop online but I like to get my hands on stuff before I buy it; I guess I’m old-fashioned.  I’ve just checked out their website and it looks like you can order on-line too (for those of you who like that sort of thing). 🙂

I bought the sparkly white yarn because I thought it would be perfect for more Christmas snowflakes.