A Flock Of Feathers

I call this watercolour painting “A Flock Of Feathers”.

It may not look like much but painting it was a lot of fun.

My daughter gave me the idea for it when she sent me an instagram tutorial showing how easy it can be to paint feathers with watercolours.

Of course, I didn’t find it that easy.

That was lesson one for the day.

When learning something new, little comes easily. It’s all about the practice.

Experts say that when working with watercolours, one must try to stick to only three colours.

I brazenly pushed the envelope to five.

Now, on to lesson two…

Having used five colours, once I had finished up I had a number of brushes to clean up.

In the past, I’ve often wondered why a painter’s palette is always so messy looking. Most that I’ve seen are laden with both colourful and muddy mixtures and wrought with strangely inky pools.

It was while I was standing at my kitchen sink cleaning up the brushes when the answer to this question suddenly came to me.

Why do palettes always look messy?

Because trying to keep it continually clean can drive a painter crazy.

That must be why artists suffer so much….

…Ba-dum-tss.

The Art Of Journalling And The Journalling Of Art

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It was 1992 when I began journaling.

25 years later, I think it’s safe to assume that scattered around my house are no less then 100 purchased journals filled with quotes, daily activities, pictures, spiritual meanderings, meaningless musings and all other sorts of what some people may consider unending drivel.

Perhaps.

Most of these journals cost on the average about ten dollars. I always tended to go for the prettier journals with lined paper and strong spines.

Other journals came as gifts for which I was grateful.

Now, wherever did I obtain this passion for putting pen to paper in small little books you may ask?

I often asked myself this same question as I kept stacking my filled journals one by one on top of the other. It is my belief that the answer to my obsession is my grandfather, best known in our family as Opa Scherer.

Currently, I am the keeper of what I call The Scherer Archives which contain journals and photo albums which can be found my living room, bedrooms, at least four book cases and one suitcase.

Yes, there are that many.

My Grandfather spoke and wrote in languages that I never learned and so they are mostly unreadable.

This breaks the heart as I can only imagine what they contain.

Now, what I’d like to tell you about are my experiments into making small travel size journals.

My daughter introduced the idea to me when she gifted me with a Tardis blue leather midori journal.

I’ll start with the smaller art journals which I’ve been making over the past week.

My personal preference for the art journal is the cold pressed paint paper which is best suited for watercolour painting.

First, I made the cover. This was done by taking one sheet of the chosen paper and cutting it lengthwise in half, then covering it with either artwork or gluing some decorative paper to it.

Next, I took a sheet of my cold pressed art paper and used washi tape to help divide it into sections. The reason I used washi tape instead of regular scotch tape is that it doesn’t damage the paper when it’s removed.

Then, with my scissors I cut along both lengths of the washi tape as follows…. Which left me with this

So, you may be asking yourself this by now:

How do we put this all together?

There are several options, you can bind it with stitching if you’re sure that you are comfortable with not being able to add or subtract pages later on.

This is my preference for my writing journals.

But since, I’m focusing on an art journal, I’ve come up with an idea that’s much more flexible and easy. You can remove and add paper at will.

Now, here’s the trick:

I got a black hair tie which was purchased in bulk at the dollar store.

I gave the thick paper which would be used for painting a good heavy fold along with the cover.

Then I inserted the prepared paper strips inside the cover.

Next, I fed the paper and the cover through the hair tie until it was halfway up.

In this way, the hair tie is holding everything together like a rubber band would.

Another beautiful thing about this is that should I want to remove a piece of paper and replace it, no problem because it’s not sewn together. It’s only a rubber band that’s holding everything together.

And there you have it, a quick and easy journal easily made for less than a dollar depending on the quality of your supplies.

Of course, the past few days did not come without some mistakes along the way…

I’ve learned that when using a paintbrush to glue cardboard to paper, it is no longer a paintbrush. It then becomes a glue brush because it’s nearly impossible to remove the glue bits trapped between the bristles. The last thing I want are glue particles finding their way into my painting.

Another thing I learned is I must be very careful when using soap to clean the brushes.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out where all the bubbles in my paintings were coming from.

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial.

It’s time for me to start thinking up another one.

Cheers!

In Memory Of Don McPhee: My Portrait Of Stanley The Seagull

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I am dedicating this post to my dear late friend, Don McPhee.

I got to know him early on in my career at the post office around 1991.

All too sad, he died suddenly of a heart attack in October 2002. He was literally here one minute and gone the next.

It seemed that I cried for days, and I resolved to myself that I would try and think of him once a day.

Yes, he was that special.

He suffered his first heart attack in 1992. It had not been a kind year for him, and eventually all of his stressors took their toll.

Upon hearing of Don’s first heart attack I took a page from my Grandmother’s life’s lessons. I tried to write to him at least once a week, to ensure that he knew that his friends from work were thinking of him.

I had an assortment of stationary that I had hand penned a year earlier when I was studying calligraphy. It felt good to finally put all my cards and letters to good use.

These notes contained inspirational verses and quotes that I had collected through the years.

Among my favourites of these collected quotes were:

“We are each of us Angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.”

and…

“Mailman, mailman don’t delay, do the rhumba all they way.”

When he finally returned to work, his large community of friends at the post office were very happy to have him and his zany jokes back again. I was always fond of the way he told his jokes. While telling them, he himself laughed so hard that he’d have to wipe the tears from his eyes. And that was before he even got to the punch line.

Don enjoyed taking his breaks and lunches sitting on the curb just outside the plant doors of where we worked. He always sat in the middle of his company of friends.

Over time, he befriended a seagull, one of many who kept sentry watch on the dozens of lamp posts/security cameras scattered around our vast post office parking lot.

Don named him Stanley and swore that he could tell him apart from all the other seagulls.

He and the seagull would always share Don’s lunch.

Now, I ask you…

Who befriends a seagull?

Well, to answer that will say again…

Yes… he really was that special.

Much to my surprise, the day after Don’s passing I received a telephone call from his sister.

She had called to tell me that Don had died.

I was a little confused as to why she had gone through the trouble of contacting me, as we had never met or had any other contact before.

She explained that as she and other family members were going through his things, they had found a large box containing all the cards and letters that I had sent him.

Had I really sent him that many?

After going through the letters, Don’s family decided that it would be the right thing to do to contact me and thus inform me of his passing just in case I didn’t know.

I was grateful of course.

His memorial service was the next day.

Upon entering the funeral home, I was directed to the family receiving line where I met his brothers, sister and mother. They welcomed me warmly and told me that Don had often spoke of me. I was moved to tears when they related that Don never referred to me by my name “Doris”, instead he always referred to me as “my friend Doris”.

The family then invited me towards several rooms that had been set up to celebrate his life. There were photo albums, personal cherished items and all sorts of memorabalia.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that among the items displayed were all the various cards and letters that I had sent him.

It seems that there were dozens and dozens.

Yes, I finally realized that I really did send him a lot of cards and letters.

And so, all these years later, I have taken it upon myself to paint a lovely rendering of Stanley the seagull. I had found many good ideas on Pinterest and found one in particular that I liked very much. It seemed to capture Stanley quite well.

First I sketched what I thought to be a decent rendering of a seagull. You would think that after having seen so many in the course of my lifetime, that this would have been an easy task.

Not so.

A seagull has a particular look, menacing is the best way I can describe it. There is a look in the eye that tells you he’s just here for the food and nothing more.

You’ll never get any warm fuzzies from a seagull, that’s for sure.

After I had painted what I thought would suffice being a seagull, I prepared to do a wet on wet paint application. That’s when I wet the paper I am about to paint with clear water before applying wet paint to it.

I chose to do the background colour in a bluish grey.

I needed the paper to dry before I could proceed any further, so I went to shower in an effort to acknowledge that there were tasks other than watercolour painting that needed to be done on this day.

When I returned to my project, I was glad to see that everything had dried according to plan.

Now it was time to start painting the seagull.

This, in the end proved to be more difficult than I had imagined.

I spent a good part of the rest of the morning adjusting this and repainting that.

In fact, it was all I could to to recognize when enough was enough and it was time to call it quits and put my toys away. After all, you never know that you’ve overdone something until it’s too late.

And so, allow me to introduce to you Stanley the seagull.

I hope you like it…

I’m pretty sure that Don would have liked it too.

Miracle On Seventeenth Street…

When thinking about where to find beautiful art, my thoughts often turn to to the eternal city of Rome, Italy.

Next to Rome’s City Government offices located at the address of #17 Via Venti Settembre is the church of Santa Maria Della Vittoria.

This unassuming and very plain looking church is filled with glorious works of art that include statues by the artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It was these same statures that came to my attention when I read Dan Brown’s book ANGELS AND DEMONS back in 2008. For those of you who saw the movie starring Tom Hanks, you may remember this church as it was featured in a fiery murder scene.

Dan Brown wrote at length about one particular statue called The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. It depicts an angel holding a large arrow pointing towards the collapsed Saint.

My first two visits to the steps of this church failed to grant me inside access because of the rather staggered visiting hours.

Finally, at long last came the day when we were able to enter the church and I was very excited that I was about to come face to face with one of Bernini’s masterpieces.

Once inside the church I began to approached The Ecstasy Of Saint Teresa. When I was directly in front of the statue I noticed something was wrong with my surroundings. Both me and the statue were in darkness. This was very unlike the pictures I had seen where everything gleamed with white and gold. I quickly realized that the statue was unfortunately unlit.

Looking around I noticed there were a few other people in my area, none of which were my family. There was no clergy or anyone else to voice my concern over the lack of light.

Had someone forgotten to turn them on?

Was the church trying to save money?

There was little I could do, so I decided I would accept the lowlight conditions for what they were and I would not allow it to diminish the joy of finally being able to admire this work of art.

Standing quietly I began to take in the details of what sculpted marble and gold I could see.

It was then that I noticed a very soft golden glow beginning to emanate out of nowhere from somewhere inside the statue. Right in front of my eyes the glow became even brighter as it began to light up the face of Saint Teresa. The angel’s arrow began beaming radiant shards.

I looked left and right to see if anyone else was noticing this phenomena. Instead, I found myself totally alone. The rest of my family was some distance away near the front of the church.

Turning my attention back to the statue I saw that it was glowing brighter still.

How could this be happening?

Was I witnessing some sort of miracle?

Again, I turned my thoughts back to the present, and resolved that I must take advantage of whatever this was, and be grateful for the mysterious light. I knew that I would never forget the beauty of these moments when I was able to observe The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa in full glory and bright brilliance.

After spending a few minutes in silent wonder, I noticed that the lights around the statue were slowly dimming.

Shortly after that me and the Bernini statue had fallen into darkness once again.

Taking that as my cue to leave, I turned around to find my daughter Jennifer standing behind me.

“Did you see that?” I asked her. “Did you see how the statue began to glow out of nowhere right in front of my eyes?”

She nodded yes with a smile…

“Yeah, there was an offering box on a table next to the door,”

I wondered how an offering box next to the door had any relevance to my miracle.

It was then that she went on to explain…

“I decided to donate a few coins, and as I dropped them in I saw the statue lights beginning to come up.”

She continued…

“The more money I put in the offering box, the brighter the lights, so I used up all my change to give you lots of light.

At this point my daughter and I had walked to the front of the church and sure enough, sitting on a table was an plain wooden offering box just as Jennifer had described it.

As we left the church, I noticed a sense of happiness about myself. It was the same sense of giddiness that I felt when I found myself in the presence of that strange and mysterious light.

This sense of joy has never left me and I carry it with me still.

I learned that one really must recognize and appreciate any and all miracles…

…whether they emanate from from otherworldly source…

…or just a plain old church offering box.

Living In A Box Of Paints

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Before I begin, I feel a need to explain the title of today’s post.

It is one of the lines in a Joni Mitchell song that has over the years etched itself deep into my music playlists.

The first time I heard this song was during a movie called TRULY MADLY DEEPLY. A trusted coworker had endorsed this movie as a must see.

At one point during the movie, this song was sung by Alan Rickman, and I was immediately charmed by it’s lovely melody.

The title of the song was A CASE OF YOU.

If you’re unfamiliar with this song, I welcome you to look it up sometime.

Now, on with my story…

If you’ll remember, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to try and learn something new every day.

Well, I can say with confidence that during this very short time I have learned more I had originally bargained for.

Let me begin…

About a month ago, while scrolling through Pinterest I had come across pictures of an extremely small box of paints made from an altoids tin and clear plastic gum pack, you know, like the plastic you find in your average package of gum.

I was immediately smitten.

Within a week I had gathered the materials, sat myself down and began constructing this little treasure of a paint box.

In front of my was a tin so small you could fit two inside an altoids tin. I had purchased this tin in a little Roman shop selling pasta, liquors, cookies and candies. This tin was filled with tiny liquorice candies. I had some bubble tea staws about the size of a liquorice wand. I was going to cut them about an inch thick, and they would hold the paint. Imagine my surprise when I learned the tin would fit sixteen pieces. This meant that my little paint box would hold sixteen different colours.

Yay!

Now, looking back, I can see that my efforts in making this small liquorice tin into a mini paint box proved to have several faux pas.

To begin with, I had thought that lining the tin with aluminum foil would help protect it from rust.

Well, what it did do was prevent the paint from thickening and hardening.

Putting gel glue on the bottom of the bubble tea straws to help contain the paint wasn’t a good idea either.

I constructed that tin weeks ago and the paint is still as wet as on the day I had poured it.

Another travel paint box that I constructed yesterday featuring varying blues and greens is already dry.

Further, yesterday I lined the tin with washi tape hoping it would add some colour and flair.

That was another bad idea because the washi tape is peeling off the sides.

There’s no flair in that.

It would seem that I’m going to have to rethink my paint box making skills and try to build a better paintbox.

Oddly enough, just now, I can hear my own father’s voice telling me time and again that in order to succeed, one has to build a better mousetrap.

I always knew that I never had the smarts nor the will to build his proverbial better mouse trap.

Instead, I’m going to build me a better box of paints.

Resolutions

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January 1, 2018

It must now be twenty years since I read Stephen King’s book; the craft of writing.

In that book he advocated that any serious writer must be committed to writing at least one thousand words a day.

It was a promise that I made to myself time and again, but never kept.

Today is January 1st, 2018, the first day of the new year and I have made two New Year’s resolutions.

The first is to commit myself to writing one thousand words a day. I feel I have a better than average chance at doing this because on December 28th of last year, less than one week ago, I retired after working 29 years at the post office. This retirement did not come one minute too soon. After suffering a serious shoulder injury last fall which rendered my tow motor driving days at work over and done with, the horrible night shift of 3:00 am to 11:00 am has left me exhausted.

My husband who retired last summer make it very clear to me that my retirement would be filed with everyday walks and plenty of activity.

Well, that hasn’t really happened yet because of the extreme temperatures outside. Indeed, every day seems to set new low temperature records. Even some of last night’s new year festivities were cancelled due to public health and safety.

As for my second New Year’s resolution, it is about 44 years since my school band instructor Mr. Inglis told his music student’s that if you undertake a hobby and commit yourself to it, you must strive to learn at least one new thing a day. It doesn’t have to be anything overwhelming, but something you noticed, that you have never noticed before.

About a year ago, I began to notice that I was beginning to take on an interest in watercolour art. My daughter had purchased a travel sized watercolour palette that really began to peak my interest.

What made me take notice? You ask…

Well, it was probably when she, my husband and myself were making our way through security at England’s Heathrow airport. She failed the carry on luggage test when the screening noticed something odd in her suitcase. It was pulled over for inspection much to our chagrin. Anytime you are pulled over to have your suitcase inspected the world seems to grow dark with shame and fear.

In the end it was her travel size set of watercolour paints that caught security’s attention.

They opened it up and asked her what it was.

She told them.

They allowed her to pass through their sacred portals along with her box of paints. However, they made it clear to her that had they been in liquid form, they would have been confiscated.

During my summer holidays in June of last year, I bought myself a box of paints and some paper and began to paint.

Badly, of course…

However, I found joy in my awkward paintings. Underwater scenes seemed to be the nicest ones that I produced.

I began to dabble my way around the internet and you tube looking for direction.

From “The Watercolour Misfit” I eventually learned how to properly push water and paint around the paper. Mind you, I still need a lot of practise of this and many other things.

Anyway, my second New Year’s resolution for this New Year is to learn something new each day.

This, of course does not strike me an overly time consuming commitment, yet I recognize it will require some sort of dedication.

And so, on this first day of the year, I discovered not only one, but two epiphanies in regards to the fine art form of watercolour…

The first discovery came when I was doing a pink flat wash background for a bird that I had sketched onto my cold pressed watercolour paper.

Noticing that in my paint mixture, there were small specks of debris, it didn’t take me long to figure out that they flecks had come from the rubber eraser of the pencils that I used to sketch my drawing. I had erased several pencil lines and did not think to ensure the remover of the eraser leavings. That’s a mistake I will not be making again.

The second lesson came as I was putting away the tubes of paint after I had finished painting.

I noticed that the white tube of paint that I had used to highlight my bird’s eyes with was missing it’s small little cap. It was in that moment that I realized that after removing the cap on a tube of paint, you must immediately replace the cap.

Why?

Because those little caps are so small, once misplaced, you will be hard pressed to try and find it.

Good thing that I had made a new palette of cooler hues of blues and greens and had emptied several tubes. I retrieve an empty tube from the garbage, removed the cap and rinsed off the dried paint from inside.

And voila, I had a replacement cap.

While, I was at it, I retrieved two more caps from other discarded tubes. I know myself well enough that I can be quite absent minded when I am preoccupied with my tasks at hand.

And so, there you have it. I know two things that I did not learn yesterday.

Yay me.

Tomorrow, I will write of the painting books that I made.

To be honest with you, I actually had three epiphanies today, however I’ll leave it to next time.

I was just informed by my husband that I don’t have to worry about running out of paint anytime soon.

It seems that along with the three reams of paper that I asked him to order for me, he also mistakingly ordered another three boxes of 18 count paint tubes.

Three boxes.

Fifty-four tubes of paint.

I am going to be doing a lot of watercolour painting this year.

There’s going to be a lot to be learned.

There’s even more to be done.

The Book Of Thank You ~ Post 7: The Canadian National Exhibition

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The month of August always brings thoughts of a family tradition started by my Father in 1966.

That is when we would make our annual visit to the Canadian National Exhibition, or more commonly known to the people of Toronto as the C.N.E.

On the last day of school in late June, every child would be given a free children’s pass to this annual event.

Father was never one to let something free pass him by.

Set in the middle of downtown Toronto and bordering on Lake Ontario, the C.N.E. covers 192 acres of ground filled with a stadium, bandshell, coliseum, midway, fountains, picnic areas and much more.

Using Toronto’s public transportation, Father and I always went on the first Saturday after the grand opening. This usually coincided with the annual grand Scottish Tattoo parades where the sounds of bagpipes could be heard at every turn.

My Father didn’t care for bagpipes, and I remember how he would cover his ears and whisk me off to a quieter venue, a building perhaps, one of the many which would showcase countries from around the world, cars, or home shows.

The food building was a grand concourse featuring kiosks of cuisine from all over the world. I was partial to the corn dogs, while Father always contented himself with a cardboard bowl of spaghetti which cost only twenty-five cents.

Throughout the course of the day we collected free magazines, brochures, samples and souvenirs. By the time we left at the end of the day we would usually have three full bags of treasure to take home. I carried one while Father carried two.

I was allowed to purchase one souvenir of choice which was usually a punching ball, or an invisible dog leash.

The last time that I went to the C.N.E. with my Father was in the early 1990’s.

We brought my two young daughters to share the experience with us.

What I remember the most about that day was when we went to the bandshell where their was a rock and roll revival being held hosted by Bowser from the group SHA-NA-NA. We found a patch of grass to stand and watch. While the Platters were on stage singing their hit UNDER THE BOARDWALK, my daughters and I twirled and danced to the music.

Those were very happy moments.

In 1969, while my Father was away on business, my Grandparents took me for my annual pilgrimage to the C.N.E.

All these years later, it’s hard for me to decide which memories of that day are dearest to me.

Is it the memories of going on the Ferris wheel with my Grandmother?

She handled my rocking the carriage very well. I could be a handful at times.

Shortly after that, as I took another turn on the Ferris wheel alone, she won me an orange stuffed teddy bear. To this day, I think she paid off the carnie just so that she could see the joy on my face as she presented me with a new toy. I named the bear Godfrey.

We were very fortunate that day as our visit to the C.N.E. coincided with the visit of Canada’s current Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who was there for a cinematic premiere at the Queen Elizabeth building.

My Grandmother and I stood less than ten feet from him as he stood for photographs and welcoming speeches.

At one point, he turned his head left, looked at me and smiled. I smiled back.

Now, my Grandmother has always been of the opinion that the Prime Minister was smiling at her and not me.

Indeed, every time that we found ourselves together in the following thirty-five years we would lovingly spar  with each other over this:

“Trudeau was laughing at me…” she’s say.

“No, he was laughing at me…” I’d respond.

Then we would end the discussion by laughing at ourselves.

One of the last times that I visited the C.N.E. Was in 2005, seven months after my Father had passed away. I brought my two daughters and a good friend.

We made new memories as we walked our way through trapeze artists, upside down rides, tall cups of lemonade, tall ships, log flumes, ice cream, all behind the beautiful backdrop of the Toronto skyline.

It was good to be reacquainted with one of my childhood joys and be able to set aside my lingering grief.

Thank you C.N.E. for those new memories.

May there be many more.

 

 

The Book Of Thank You ~ Post Six: Thank You Wicked Witch Of The West

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The first time that I ever felt real fear in my life was when I was four years old. I was watching the movie THE WIZARD OF OZ based on the book by L. Frank Baum. Everything was good until the part of the movie when the Wicked Witch of the West started throwing fireballs at everybody.

First lesson learned from the Wicked Witch of the West:

Don’t play with fire.

I ran into my parents bedroom and stayed there until I knew all was well again in the land of Oz, which was only about five minutes or so.

Second lesson learned from the Wicked Witch of the West:

Fear is only temporary.

Then there was the scene where the Witch has Dorothy locked in her castle. The Witch then shows Dorothy an hourglass and threatens her by saying that when all the sand has run dry, her life will be over.

Third lesson learned from the Wicked Witch of the West:

Time is precious.

Now fast forward to the scene in the movie where Dorothy has just thrown water onto the Witch and she is dissipating into nothingness leaving only her pointy black hat and clothes.

Fourth lesson learned from the Wicked Witch of the West:

If you treat people badly, you will suffer the consequences.

When I learned that Gregory Maguire had written the book WICKED, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST, I immediately purchased a copy.

As I read the forward, the author wrote that he wanted the book to be a study on the nature of good and evil. He invited us to ask ourselves as we read the book: By what criteria do we distinguish a good person from a bad one?

Then I went on to read all about the Wicked Witch of the West’s life and realized that I had badly misjudged her.

What had been perceived as an evil hag was in truth a very misunderstood soul.

Now, whenever I watch the movie WIZARD OF OZ it’s a totally different experience.

Fifth lesson learned from the Wicked Witch of the West:

Be careful when judging people without knowing all the facts.

Thank you Wicked Witch of the West for all the lessons. In return, you can count on me to always come to your defence.

I’ve got your back, my pretty…

 

 

The Book Of Thank You ~ Post Five: Thank You Uncle Martin

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A long time ago on a planet far, far away, there came from the planet Mars…

…a Martian.

One day this Martian was flying in his spaceship just above our Earth when things started to go wrong. The next thing he knew was that he had crashed his spaceship into our planet.

Coming quickly to the martian’s aid was a very nice man called Tim O’Hara who worked in a newspaper office.

They become friends.

Before long Tim O’Hara invited Uncle Martin to come and stay with him until he could repair his spaceship which had taken up residence in Tim’s garage.

It was then up to Tim then to come up with a cover story. He told his neighbours and friends that his Uncle Martin had come to stay with him.

That, my dear readers sums up the first episode of what was my first favourite television show which came out in 1963.

This show was called MY FAVOURITE MARTIAN.

I was only six years old.

By way of television, he was one of my after school babysitters at 4:30 every day until my parents arrived home from work.

Uncle Martin had a friendly demeanour, a kind face and a wonderful smile. When he wanted, he could even make antennae rise up from the top of his head which allowed him to become invisible.

Uncle Martin got Tim into all sorts of trouble with his neighbours, his boss and his girlfriends.

Sadly however, Uncle Martin never seemed to be able to fix his ship or get back to Mars.

Eventually, the series ended, and I doubted I would ever see Uncle Martin again.

Then sometime during the 1980’s a new television series AMAZING STORIES by Steven Spielberg premiered on television.

How quickly I rediscovered my six year old glee when I glimpsed him during the opening credits.

Not long after that he became an infrequent visitor on STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION and STAR TREK VOYAGER series. He played BOOTHBY, a kind and wizened groundskeeper at Starfleet Academy in San Francisco.

When DVDs where at their height of popularity, I was finally able to purchase the first season of MY FAVOURITE MARTIAN. I was a little nervous when I first sat down to watch it as I wondered if I would find it old, cheesy and filled with dated humour.

My worry quickly turned to wonder as I once again fell under my old Uncle Martin’s spell. The show was as fresh and funny as I had remembered it.

In reality, Uncle Martin was played by Ray Walston who had a long string of successful roles in both television and movies. Tim O’Hara was played by Bill Bixby who later went on to star in the television series THE INCREDIBLE HULK.

In 1999 MY FAVOURITE MARTIAN, the movie was released starring Jeff Daniels as Tim O’Hara and Christopher Lloyd as the Martian.

Perhaps you’ve seen it.

My own Uncle Martin even made a cameo appearance as he revived his role at the end of the movie. I’m sure that I levitated out of my movie theatre seat.

Although the actor Ray Walston passed away January 2001 from lupus, my fond memories of Uncle Martin will be with me always.

For that, I am grateful.

Thank you my dear Uncle Martin.

 

 

 

The Book Of Thank You ~ Post Four: Thank You Mr. Driving Instructor

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When my husband and I were first married in 1977, our first car was a Pontiac Astra.

This car had a standard transmission.

From time to time my husband Frank, would try to teach me the fundamentals of how to drive a standard vehicle. For whatever reason, I could never get the car to go forwards. I could only make it go backwards.

All these years later, that still mystifies me.

Shortly after I started working at the post office in 1988, it became apparent that a second family car would be needed. My husband had set his sights on purchasing an economic vehicle which came with a standard transmission.

I needed to immediately learn how to drive this vehicle.

It was decided that the best course of action was to get some professional help and hire a driving instructor to teach me how to drive a car with a standard transmission.

I, of course had my doubts. It was now over ten years that I had been trying to understand how to get the car to roll forward while in first gear. The problem was that I could not understand how one instinctively knew when it was appropriate to step on the gas while easing up on the clutch.

It just didn’t make sense to me.

Enter Mr. Driving Instructor who in the end was successful in getting me moving from a full stop while in first gear. Even better, I was able to go from first gear into second.

Through his skillful tutelage I finally saw the proverbial light.

How did he do it?

Easy.

All he had to say were two words.

Those two words were:

“Friction point.”

It was in that moment when I first heard those two words that I fully understood the importance of clear and concise language.

Thirty minutes later, after driving a few laps around some local city blocks I exited the driving instructor’s car and thanked him.

In the next several days, after arriving home from my night shift at 4:00 a.m. I would practise my new skills by circling the pre-dawn city streets over and over until I could change gears without even thinking about it.

That was 28 years ago.

That was my first lesson on the importance of well chosen words. Those two words superseded the thousands and thousands of words I had to listen to over the past ten years until I finally and clearly could understand how to drive a standard transmission.

Ever since then, whenever I am trying to explain something to someone as a mother, union representative, health and safety advocate, or friend, I am always confident that my listener will be able to understand anything that I am trying to convey, as long as I choose the right words.

The fewer words the better.

Now twenty-eight years later, if it were possible, there are two words of my own that I would like to say to to my well spoken driving instructor.

Those two words would be:

“Thank you.”