Cats and Dogs

The furry roommates were suspicious about my housecleaning efforts last weekend.

Perhaps they were concerned by all the talk of The Year of the Dog.

cats in play structure hidie box

Cats hiding in their room


I reassured them that we would not allow a drooling dog live in our home yet I wanted to make preparations for the arrival of the lunar new year and the Year of the Dog on February 16th. I did this by performing a winter cleanup, a ceremonial cleanse according to a local Feng Shui Master’s advice.

In addition to writing things out as a form of therapy, I embrace and respect Feng Shui as the art of living in a clean, harmonious space. It also helps to break up the winter blahs and pull me out of the winter blues.

Illustration for Year of the Dog

Illustration for Year of the Dog by Gisele

If you are familiar with my 2011 novel, you will understand my attraction to the Chinese Zodiac since my Muskoka childhood. Although I did not grow up in the same culture where they use this occasion to honour deities and ancestors, I find the Lunar New Year a good opportunity to cleanse, freshen one’s living space – and head space.

Black cat at iPad on table

Snuggles wants to make sure we have a dog-proof plan

So… how are you celebrating the Lunar New Year?

To learn how my cleansing and reorganizing efforts turned out, you can read the details at my pen name’s blog.

Thanks for dropping by!


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Winter is sucking and blowing

January is almost over.

I feel gratitude for the weekends, volunteer opportunities and family outings. I am tired of the hurdles and obstacles of getting around the city.


bench in a bus shelter surrounded by snow

Winter bus shelter experience

I am thankful for the weekend break, for a visit from one of my adult children.

I am not pleased with the whiny cat who does not understand that 4:30 a.m. is too early to get me up on a Saturday.


He almost looks thankful for the breakfast service. Either that or he’s glad to warm up his balcony toes on my lap.

At least February is coming soon as is the refreshing promise of the Lunar New Year. Wander over to the Year of the Rabbit blog for hopeful readings:

One consolation of being dragged out of bed early is  witnessing with awe the stages of a winter sunrise.

winter sunrise

Winter sunrise

Thanks for dropping by. Have a nice weekend.




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Writing pleas about bags in trees

My recent writing activities included a poem about a plastic bag stuck in a nearby tree. 

The sight of bags and other litter stuck in trees makes me sad. How about you?

Oh plastic bag in nearby tree,

How my disappointment hangs with thee.

You yank and waggle in the blowing snow.

How I wish you would just let go!

Let go! Let go, I beg of you,

Because you’re ruining my ****ing view!

Poem - plastic bag stuck in tree

Poem – plastic bag stuck in tree

Last year, one of the offspring helped me remove a bag from one of the trees. I had purchased a 12 foot tree trimming pole just for that task. It worked. This time though, the bag was out of reach.

Writing this poem helped me express and share my frustration. People thought it was clever and funny. It was. It was but I still felt sad about the spoiled view, the symbolic, careless disrespect for nature.

My next writing task was an email to my landlord while I took a sick day from work. A combination of disrupted sleep due to car alarms sounding unnecessarily during the night and the sight of this bag inspired me to use my words, my power of persuasion through writing.

It worked. By the next evening, one of the landlord’s groundskeepers had removed the bag from the tree.

When I opened the blinds the next morning, Miss Geneva and I were pleased to see that the bag was gone.

Tabby cat on window seat

Miss Geneva Tabby on her window perch

This confirms that you can use your writing skills to entertain, to elicit feelings AND encourage action. Of course, I promptly sent a follow-up message with a big “thank you” to the landlord and crew.

Thanks for dropping by.


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Strokes of finesse in painting a poem

As part of my lifelong learning activities, I recently attended Sumi-e painting classes.

This was just an introductory level to learning the nuances of preparing one’s ink, wetting the brush and applying just the right pressure when stroking the rice paper.

According to this source, Sumi-e is like “writing a painting” or “painting a poem”. I like that. 

First, our instructor provided us with ample practice time to learn the different strokes, how to correct the ink’s darkness, how to keep the brush tip in the correct shape. She also reminded us about the importance of keeping quiet during the lessons.

After practicing the strokes, we learned the Kanji character for the Moon.

Ink on rice paper calligraphy practice - Moon

Ink on rice paper calligraphy practice – Moon

Now, you will find differing opinions on how the moon character should be drawn. Some say the two horizontal lines should touch the vertical ones on both sides. The way we learned it, they don’t.

Brush and ink practice on rice paper

Brush and ink practice

During the second week’s lesson, we learned how to paint the chrysanthemum, a highly revered flower in China and Japan. Different colours hold different meanings.

Sumi-e Chrysanthemum black ink on rice paper

Sumi-e Chrysanthemum black ink on rice paper

I was tickled and proud to receive the instructor’s stamp of approval.

Despite the late end times and having to wait for buses home, I enjoyed the classes, the opportunity to learn new techniques – and socialize with other students. Hence the instructor reminding us to keep quiet…

Black cat in front of iPad with Sumi-e painting

Mr. Snuggles critiques my first Sumi-e painting

The cats seemed concerned that I was not home in time to serve their soft food dinner and they had to suffer with the bowls of Senior dry bits.

During the third lesson, we learned how to apply colour to our brush (from basic water colours) and blend it in with the black ink – or choose to apply it as a wash.

Sumi-e Chrysanthemum paintin with colour

Sumi-e Chrysanthemum with colour

Once again, I was tickled to receive the instructor’s stamp of approval 🙂

I look forward to practicing at home this fall and winter, perhaps applying some techniques to that children’s book idea that has been simmering, to blend with some of the other illustration attempts.

Cat on couch resting with plants and painting in background

Tabby cat resting on couch with sumi-e painting and plants in the background

Here are many tutorial videos to learn Sumi-e. I appreciated learning with an instructor in a small class. I might just sign up again.

Thanks for dropping by – and not disturbing the Tabby.




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25 years of connecting a community

This past month has brought daily work day commutes, social outings and a stinky, humid heat wave – in September!

My writing activities were limited to journal entries, resume updates, politely stern mail messages and drafting another letter of complaint to a federal agency.

birthday cake and cupcakes for National Capital FreeNet 25

25 Years of connecting a community

Despite the anxieties and resulting stress this month, I pushed myself to attend the 25th birthday party for my community ISP. Those who live in Ottawa may be familiar with the National Capital FreeNet.

Back in the day… we used 9600 Baud modems and two-tone dumb terminals to connect to special interest groups, email and eventually a text version of the world-wide web. With the evolution of graphical web browsers and the support of images, there was soon a proliferation of funny cat pictures and other titillations …

Being a member allowed me the opportunity to expand my web design skills, stay connected with family and friends during tumultuous times, express my thoughts   and share bad poetry.

We graduated to DSL in 2005, soon connecting with all kinds of devices. It was a necessity while accommodating the social needs of teens and tweens living with me at the time.

Black cat at laptop

Cat on lap asks “What’s a Free net?” Book: “aa000: 25 Years of National Capital FreeNet”


I am glad I attended the party, sat through the speeches and bought a copy of the book (to which I made a small contribution). I pushed my social skills to chat with familiar members but left early due to acoustics incompatible to conversations. I also had to get home to feed the >^..^< darlings.

In my haste I forgot to get some birthday cake. I had two pieces the last time I attended one of these parties.

Thanks for dropping by. Keep in touch.


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Rainy Sunday Mewsings

It’s a rainy Sunday and I’ve been up since 6:00 a.m.

It was nice to emerge from dreamland to the tapping of rain against the bedroom window. It was mildly unpleasant to be roused by a needy cat.

As I shuffled out to the kitchen and served their breakfast buffet, I reflected on my long weekend Saturday outing to experience the arts, culture and fresh air.

I didn’t turn on the kitchen radio until after the news report would be done. I could not listen to more reports of hardship and assholery so early in the day. I am saddened and concerned about the forest fires and floods. I am angry and concerned about the dick-taters with their sabre rattling and stroking their weapons of phallic destruction.

It’s like we’re given more fodder for the bible thumpers, doom sayers and dystopian novel writers!

I digress, pulled into weltschmerz once again.  Sigh… Let’s return to fond memories of an enjoyable, solo outing.

MosaiCanada150 Mother Earth

MosaiCanada150 in Jacques Cartier Park

Once his stomach was satisfied, Mr. Snuggles supervised as I organized my photos into an album, downloaded the good ones for sharing with family and friends. He even freed my lap for a while so I could concentrate and write about my experience in the Deep Blonde Thoughts blog.

Black cat in front of laptop screen

“‘So, this is what you were doing in the outside world yesterday…”


Black cat with big eyes in front of laptop screen

“Since it’s raining today, you’re going to stay home with me, right?”

Yes, I plan on staying in our hole in a log for domestic putterings, welcoming inspiration and motivation to draw and write.

How about you?


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My great grandchildren will not be white

That’s a bold prediction from someone so naturally fair of skin and hair.

I am okay with that possibility.

First, I can say that because I have brown offspring from a mixed marriage. In my eyes and their doting Aunties’, these children were beautiful, intelligent and well-behaved.

I was often oblivious to the colour of my children’s skin yet experienced some strange looks and comments when we were out in public. The most humorous and innocent was when a child at the local park asked if I was their babysitter.

Yes, they have met challenges with finding their identity, their place in society. They adapted. They survived. Some of them identify as Black or POC (Person of Colour). None of them have adopted urban stereotypes nor have they been in trouble with the law.

To me, they are beautiful humans, the next generation. I raised them to be positive contributors to their community and to society. They know how to speak up when they see injustices. They too will make beautiful babies if they so choose or can afford to raise a family in this precarious economy.

Continue reading at

I share the anger and disbelief with what’s going on, being spouted by POTUS after the Charlottesville incident. But here I am, challenging my agoraphobia tendencies, my anxieties while enjoying my quiet comforts and white privilege in Canada. I am living, learning and trying to write it down. 

Thanks for dropping by.




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