dying illustration

For those that don’t know me really well, I’m a huge comic strip fan. Those illustrations, found in the back of papers, with their humor, satire and truths always make me smile. My favorites include ‘Calvin and Hobbes’, ‘The Peanuts’, and so many more.

‘Calvin and Hobbes’

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The enjoyment of illustrations, dates back to days long before comic strips. To times long ago when artist slaved and tormented over engravings of mostly political satire, and sporting humor. One such illustrator an artist by the name of Robert Seymour made quite a name for himself in the 1820’s and 30’s in the British papers.

At the youthful age of 24 in 1822, Seymour found his work accepted by the Royal Academy. Shortly following his artistic success he was engraving illustrations for the publishers Knight and Lacey. Among Robert’s work was works showing comedy, poetry, melodramas and even children’s stories. Much to his dismay Knight and Lacey went bankrupt, still owing Robert Seymour quite a pittance. Leaving him in substantial debt.

However, as his work had found popularity, he was soon working for Chapman and Hall publishing. This was a big move in his career as his work grew even more in renown. Robert was selected to illustrate some sporting humor named ‘The Pickwick Papers’. A young hack writer was assigned to add the small text that in those days accompanied illustrations in publication.

20130604-010959.jpg Robert Seymour’s depiction of Mr. Pickwick addressing the ‘Nimrod Club’….

In no time at all, Charles, the hack of no reputation at the time garnered the attention of none other than the head publisher Edward Chapman. It was apparent that despite this young mans lack of fame and his young age of 22 there was greatness in his pen. This to the dismay of Robert Seymour brought about a most unpresidented change. ‘The Pickwick Papers’, and adventures of the members of the ‘Nimrod Club’, would be first written by Charles, then illustrated by Seymour. At the time this was an unheard formatting. Engravings were simply always sketched and then captioned by the hack, not the other way around as E. Chapman would insist.

Bringing us to Tuesday April 19th 1836, a day when after meeting with young Charles and publisher Edward Chapman, Robert Seymour spends laboring over an engraving. In the meeting the young writers elegance, genius, wisdom and way with words have shown Seymour just why in him Chapman has placed his confidence. After many hours of work, Robert completes the engraving. On his artist board resides ‘The Dying Clown’, a piece resembling possibly his own predicament of youth taking his place. With work done, behind his desk Robert Seymour takes a shotgun and blows off his own head.

20130604-011253.jpg Robert Seymour’s last work ‘The Dying Clown’

It’s always difficult to say for certain in situations such as this, but was the turmoil of the hack dictating his works just too much? Did pride stand to strong to allow him to illustrate this man’s words? Or was Robert Seymour just a lost tormented soul? Only a few things are certain, Seymour would have soon been president of the Royal Academy had he not taken his life. Most certain of all he firmly set his place in history as the man who illustrated the early writing of none other than the legendary Charles Dickens.

Dickens went on to finish ‘The Pickwick Papers’ and when completed and published in book form the following statement from Charles Dickens himself was included. “Mr. Seymour never originated or suggested an incident, a phrase, or a word to be found in this book. Mr. Seymour died when only twenty-four pages of this book were published, and when assuredly not forty-eight were written;”
“All of the input from the artist was in response to the words that had already been written;”

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coffee with Le Clown

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(I ordered for two in hopes that he’d really come)

Today I had mocha, coffee and pastries with a friend. He spoke in French, with an accent I hadn’t yet known. We talked on for hours, when it was my turn he leaned in close. It wasn’t as much to be near me, as respect and in effort to not miss a word.

Of course we spoke of the HABS and what it was like, the Montreal of his youth. I’m not sure how long we sat there, as with good company it never quite matters. I told of my grandparents and Sweden. Then listened about that which was his life, spoken with such passion.

Candy was exchanged, I brought chocolate because that’s what I thought you gave to friends. I learned however, that blue ones are more special indeed. The kind that are so very vibrant your tongue soon shows their shade.

My black dress seemed dab and mellow, in comparison to his dapper attire. A checked coat so brilliant, with a fedora upon his head. I’d been lost to him I fear, if not for the red ribbon laced ever so neatly, through all my long hair.

Did others see as lovers, or just as maybe old friends? It really doesn’t matter, my attention was completely upon him, words spoken between us and of course his guitar. Finally the moment arrived, with sure fingers I found notes, rhythm and then melody. Of course I played mellow jazz and blues standards, I’m sure you know the ones. Oh, how I wanted to sing for him but at last shyness again won out over my needs.

When coffee and pastries were completely gone. I remembered words from my childhood, spoken in my grandfathers tongue. A smell and taste can always refresh and return one to a scene. With that in mind and coffee that was dark and black. Taking in the fresh deep richness, first smelt then savored long on my tongue, I knew I could always again quickly return.

Like is the case a great deal of the time, at the coffee house I was actually alone. My friend is in Montreal home of the Canadians (HABS). I could not travel there though his invite seemed grand. Please check out his post and blog at Le Clown (A Clown on Fire). I’m grateful to have had this experience, time well spent with a good friend.

When Water Runs Cold Does Frost Yet Gather

When water runs cold does frost yet gather
A cause so righteous, seems worth the life we trade
Boys when they left, still not men they bury

Flowers are drenched as soldiers trample them down
On they march as the drum does order
When at last will young men sleep?

Not before the cannons roar,
hills are dusted with more than fodder
Gray skies bested by blue robins feathers

Light surely announces the dawn as our fathers dreams too gone
Wilting, falling to rise not even once more
Freedom is called from the north, we beg triumphant

What does it mean they follow so closely
Barefoot steps in solders sole prints, lost to the world they knew
Where to now they all mutter without a single word

Work of old no longer there to finish with ones hands
Did I hear a young lad speak of ‘Uncle Billy’
Carry on the path we go, nothing left behind but dead

When water runs cold does frost yet gather
A price so steep, hard to pay
Many a mothers weep as sons come home to stay

a good thing can lead to good friends

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I’m fortunate to have a friend like I do. She is so special I named my mountain bike after her. Some may not view this as a compliment but I assure you it is. For one thing I love my cycle, not to mention said bike is sexy, rowdy and awesome. All attributes that the real life Tabby possess in abundance.

Of all my friends Tabby is the one that I share a special love and interest with. Now don’t assume this takes anything away from my other friendships, it isn’t actually like that at all. The special activity that strengthens my bond and friendship with Tabs is not actually something I want to share with everyone. In fact I prefer that Tabby is the only other girl I know who enjoys this art, that we share, it makes it even more special when we get together. To better explain I will travel back to the first time we shared our love.

Over the roar of the helicopter blades I shouted, “Dad, why on earth did you purchase a business someplace you have to fly to?”

“It’s amazing isn’t it?” he replied, either not hearing or ignoring my question.

Through the glass window of the flying machine which incased us I could see a few buildings surrounded by forest and then ocean. Miles and miles of clear freezing ocean. It was breathtaking, the glaciers in the far distance and the snow covered peaks in the other. Somewhat like the Scandinavian scenery I’d come used to from visits to my grandparents. This was different though, we didn’t take a helicopter to see my grandparents and cousins. No, that was simple a flight to an airport then a car ride.

When the helicopter gently landed blowing snow up in puffs I was convinced my father had lost his mind. As we exited and made our way towards what appeared to be a shed the helicopter lifted and roared off into the distance. Now I was sure of it, he was nuts!

“Dad, ummm… They are leaving us here?” I half asked, half complained.

“Don’t worry Alison, they will be back,” spoke Paul the third member of our traveling party.

With the torment of the helicopter gone it was apparent that the snow was just a light dusting not even an inch and the shed was in fact a shed. However, beside the shed I noticed a white Ford F250. As we approached I quickly realized a young girl set upon its hood viciously chewing an enormous wad of something. My pondering of the substance that filled her mouth was quickly clarified as a giant pink bubble appeared from between her lips.

The girl, slightly shorter than me was clad in white snowboarding pants and a bright pink hoodie, blonde curls hung loosely from beneath a powder blue beanie. She looked as though she was oblivious to the remote desolation of the place. As we came closer she bounced from the hood of the truck with a pop of an enormous pink bubble.

“Hey, I’m Tabby but you can call me Tabs.” She stated and before any of our party could respond in cheerful tone she continued on, “my dad sent me here to pick you guys up and I thought you were never gonna get here, I guess it hasn’t been that long but I kinda have a short attention span. You all ever been to Alaska before? I’m guessing not, most people haven’t. I myself have never been anyplace else… Well kinda not anyhow, I mean I’ve been on the ocean and to Vancouver and Anchorage, well Anchorage is still Alaska technically I guess but it’s not really. You know what I mean?”

With a pause not long enough for anyone to answer, she continued on. “I guess we should get going my Dad is waiting to meet you and well I think he’s frying Salmon and that’s worth rushing back for. In account that he’s a decent cook and all.”

At that point we all began pilling into the pickup. I was so amazed by Tabby’s lack of coyness that until the diesel truck stirred to life that she was obviously not older than myself and I had a year to go before I was old enough to legally obtain my learners permit. When this fact came to my realization and I was about to inquire about legality of her driving, with some strange mind reading skill she began to speak.

“You look like your my age, 13 almost 14,” she said looking at me in the rear view mirror as the truck threw gravel and we headed down a dirt road. “Papa Grizzly, thats the name I call my dad, said your Dad had a daughter about my age. Boy I’m glad you came, tomorrow we can go fly-fishing unless you only fish with a spinning reel in witch case we can do something else, cause I don’t city fish and I’m not of much use as an instructor.”

“I love to fly-fish but I didn’t bring a rod or tackle.” looking around at the miles of what appeared to be nothing I quickly added, “and I don’t have a license, nor see anyplace to get one.”

“I’m sure you could get one in town but if your with me you don’t really need one. It’s not tourist season and well even if a warden was about I’m certain I know him. What I’m saying is don’t worry about it we don’t need licenses.”

This disregard for a need for legal licensing was no real surprise to me due to the current circumstance. The one lane gravel road was now winding down a coast line and in the distance I could see a harbor with boats and what looked like a small town. As we came closer our unlikely escort told us that what I had expected was true it in fact was town and the harbor. Then with a sudden jerk the truck turned and bounded up a steeper rougher road into the woods.

“That’s our house there,” Tabby announced as we approached a beautiful two story cabin that appeared to be out of a movie, nestled in amongst the wilderness. As the truck slid to a halt, I understood why she could drive us. We hadn’t seen another vehicle or person the entire trip. However what I was still clueless about was how did she acquire the skills to do the task? It was apparent that her life was drastically different than mine.

Again as if reading my mind Tabby spoke. “Hey, come meet my dog. His names Burt! You guys can just go on in the house, my Dad will hear you open the door and come greet you.”

To my surprise my father thanked her for the ride, told her he was pleased to meet her and headed for the house. To my complete astonishment Paul patted our driver on the headed and followed my father. This left me completely baffled… My Dad was going to just walk in their house and Paul was affectionate towards a stranger. My world was flipped I was blown away, nothing at all seemed to make any sense.

It was the strangest moment of my life, my father, had purchased a commercial fishing business and had brought me along to Alaska to meet the former owners. Then once we arrived had left me alone and walked without knocking into a strangers home. None of it made sense.

Tabby’s spidee senses again kicked in, “So you know it’s a big deal to us.”

Before I could ask what was a big deal. Having visitors, meeting normal people, entertaining guests, she continued after popping a bubble. “What your Dads doing and all. Him saving the boats from the bank and giving my Dad control of the business and all. Like so you know my Dads not lazy and he does a good job with the company. The economy is just bad and the price of fish down, we will pay you all back you know. My Dad says your Dad just is signing it all over to him, without a contract or anything and it’s a big deal. Anyways, what I’m saying is like I want to go fishing tomorrow though and it’s nothing to do with the business and all. But still it’s a big deal and thanks, but don’t think I owe you anything.”

In a moment of clarity I gained a level of respect for my father that I have never explained to him, he still doesn’t know that I am aware of why we now have friends in Alaska. What I didn’t realize was I’d myself just made an incredible friend. A loving, loyal, kinda wild and crazy friend and the only girlfriend I have who loves to fly-fish almost as much as I do.

So, as summer approaches and I plan another annual trip to Alaska to see Tabs, I’m also reminded by the actions of my father. Be kind and helpful to good deserving people but don’t do it so you can brag and gain credit do it because it’s simply the right thing to do.

the glass (daily prompt)

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A glass jar is a good place to keep ones cookies… This is not an opinion but a fact. It’s inviting and welcoming to have a glass container filled with a treat for a guest. The fact that the treat can be seen welcomes one to reach inside and enjoy the rewards.

The question posed is simple as friends and guests enjoy the cookies and the jars contents begin to dwindle, at that midpoint when it is no longer full but not yet to be empty, is it half full or half empty? I will let you decide for yourself, for I do not believe this is something that can be told or learned. No, it is a truth we just simply know.

As for me personally, of the glass itself I can not say. Yet I’m certain as my offering slowly diminishes, that is one by one or two by two the cookies are eaten in my companies enjoyment, I’m filled with conversation and companionship. Leading me to conclude whether half empty or half full, I’m all the better for it. Thus regardless of which half it truly is, it without a doubt is an improvement upon full….

To or not to Facebook

I detest social media, which sets me drastically aside from most if not all of my peers….. Okay, so that’s not really true at all. It’s Facebook that I’m troubled by and not very fond of. Twitter is not quite the same truth be told. I spend a fare amount of time reading the comments and tweets of people around the world, strangely mostly people I don’t know.

Anyways, back to my point. I can’t really say why but for some reason Facebook just doesn’t work for me. I used to spend ten or more minutes going through my friends posts liking this or that and at times commenting away. The thing is though it either made me miss someone that was too far away or too busy to see. Or worst of all comments like :”hanging at the mall with homies” led me to ponder how or why I was friends with the poster.

Nothing against the mall per say, nor do I begrudge someone who refers to their companions as “homies” though I certainly do not know why someone would want to do so. It’s more that I don’t think like, or talk like or do things like that…. Thus, what possibly could I have in common with them.

Getting to my point the truly problem I had with Facebook was what to post. I’ve always had a blog, okay not always but since I was about twelve anyhow. I usually have things to post, whether it be photos, a story, a moment of my life or just some random thoughts. With Facebook I found my posts to be too long, more suitable for a blog or so short that friends pummeled me with question after question. This leading to Facebook becoming somewhat of a chore to keep up with. Now, I assure you I’m aware that most everyone loves Facebook. Thus, the flaw is inherently my own and not that of Facebook’s. All the same around a couple years ago, sometime when I was almost or just sixteen, I deleted my Facebook. I was smothered in text messages as to why I would do such a horrible and insane thing….. After some explaining, my friends just demised I was nuts and left it at that.

Here is the catch though, I overlooked a serious issue. Without Facebook how does one communicate with friends and family? I’ve found it to be quite difficult. Texting is of course fairly affective but with friends in many time zones, it’s also a bit challenging. I write real letters the kind that require a stamp. This is actually my favorite form of communication though honestly besides my uncle very few people ever respond. Email is fairly better if you want to actually hear back from those you love.

All has been going okay….. My Dad and I email and text regularly, my bestie and I do the same. I have become accustomed and fairly happy with my life post Facebook. Then yesterday I was shaken by an event. I received an email from my grandfather, not a shaking or rare event within itself. The shock came from the contents of the correspondence. I have translated it to English and will included it, well not all of it just the shocking part. I have done this mostly because I am still without words of my own regarding it.

“…….. this leads me to my point, little Princess. (I know totally cute that gramps calls me little princess) Why is it that I can look on The Facebook and see all the lives of my grandchildren and children but yours? It is strange to me that you are so private and secretive.”

It goes on from there with much more, a lot of which of course on subjects not pertaining to this topic at all. Yet those sentences stand out the most. I’m sure I’m not secretive, a little private maybe but not secretive.

Without the ability to process what was said and even less of a fathoming of reply, I of course did what was clearest to do in such a situation. I picked up my phone and called my favorite member of the clergy back in Boston. Several hours after leaving a message, my phone rang in response. (I’m not a huge phone call person either. But this was a drastic situation) On the other end of the line a familiar voice asked if all was well. After assuring my beloved friend I was fine and getting along well here in Scotland and some talk about the sadness of recent events in the Boston area I got to my point.

Upon my completion and description of the message I received my phone speaker was filled with a soft chuckle. The man who advises me on all things spiritual, listens to my confession of sin, and helps with almost every problem I ever have was simply laughing at my latest grief.

After a spell of laughter he gently spoke. “Alison my dear, you must see that it is strange. This opposition of Facebook of yours. My dear girl, even yours truly has a Facebook account.”

So it seems I’m possibly the only person left in this world without Facebook…. strangely I’m somehow even less interested in having it than before.