July 2009

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i’ve made a pocket version of my amigurumi storybook, ‘the boring life of spencer, the ennui dog’.  it’s a children’s story for adults, with love, adventure, a 3-headed duck and a little backstabbing.  it’s available now in my online shop.  and i’ll be showing it at the fringe festival here in saskatoon, starting tonight.

back in 2006 i was invited to take part in an art book fair at aka gallery in saskatoon.  i’d just started this blog.  my first solo show of drawings was opening soon and i was still drawing for that show.  the art book fair was scheduled just a week after my show opening.  i didn’t have a book of drawings, or any other book to show.  but i wanted to take part, so of course i said ‘yes’.

i’d already been making a few amigurumi animals, but i didn’t have a story.  so i sat down a couple of nights after my show opening and wrote a story.  i spent a couple of days going around town taking photos with my amigurumi (it was super-cold, some of the “special effects” were hard to get right, i had to go to value village to find a pink jeep for the big ending).  paul and i stayed up late one night to do the layout and i got it printed the next day, at an office printing shop.  i bolted the pages together and took it right to the art book fair.

everyone seemed to really enjoy the spencer book.  that summer i brought it to the fringe festival and people were lining up in front of my table to read it, bringing their friends over.  i thought about getting it printed professionally but it seemed like too much trouble.  i always meant to make a smaller, affordable version of the book, but life kept getting busier and that never happened.  i did design a set of ‘spencer’ postcards that i’ve been showing at the fringe festival and selling in my online shop.  and the 3-headed maximum team power duck doll who played the bad guy in the book, made an appearance as part of a show i did at the mendel art gallery.

well, now i’ve finally made a mini-version of the spencer book that you can buy and take home with you.  it’s roughly 4 x 6 inches in size, so you can carry it in your pocket.  just take it out and read it when you need a little laugh. or you can come to my blog and read the whole story here. click the thumbnails to view the pages at full size or click the link below to launch a slideshow.

[nggallery id=spencerbook]

i’m taking part in the saskatoon fringe festival again this year, starting tonight until august 8th.  it’ll be the 4th time i’ve showed there in 5 years.  i’ll be selling this petit spencer book as well as my prints and postcards.  come on down to broadway avenue to meet me.  i’m planning to attend as many days as i can.  i’ll probably have elijah with me for some of the time, since he’s having a very emotional separation anxiety these days.

hope to see you there!

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bath with tomoko

july 22, wednesday 1981 cloudy

“yesterday, i bathed with tomoko-chan and she washed my head.  it felt very good.”

i still remember the frosted glass with snowflake pattens in the bathroom in the house we lived in from age 5 to 14.  tomoko was the daughter of my mom’s friend.  i think she was older than my brother, who is 3 1/2 years older than me.  she was, my mom and i think, my brother’s first love.  she stayed over a few days during the summer break.  i think she broke my brother’s heart.

she wore a beautiful baby blue long skirt.  her long hazelnut hair swayed as she went upstairs with my brother.  she had big eyes with long eyelashes, like alice from wonderland.  every time she smiled she was like an angel.

maybe she was my first love too.

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elijah likes auto-tune the news so much that he asks for it saying, “‘o-to tune da nu~ eve-thin beta o-to tune~’, miru (watch)!” he dances to it. it’s super-adorable.

sometimes i don’t want him to watch it.  i want to go out and play instead.

so i say ::

ママ 「今日ね、ちょっと見れないの。コンピューターが寝てるから。」

(居間のラップトップを指差しながら)

イライジャ 「おねんねしてるの?」 (ちょっと寂しそう)

(走って、オフィスにいく)

イライジャ 「ママ!大丈夫だよ。こっちのコンピュータ、起きてるよ!こっちで見れるよ!」

mama “we can’t watch it today, because the computer is sleeping.”

(pointing at the laptop in the living room)

elijah “(it’s) sleeping?” (looking sad)

(elijah runs to the office)

elijah “mama!  it’s okay!  this computer is awake!  (we) can watch it here!”

auto-tune the news will continue to echo in my head all day long…

posh boy, elijah

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it was probably not a good idea to go on a bicycle ride yesterday — it was sunny, but cool and very windy.  we wanted to try out our chariot, the bike carrier, for the first time this summer.

now elijah and i have a cold.

his nose was running and i was coughing all afternoon today.  elijah noticed that i wasn’t feeling well.

he asked me ::

イライジャ 「ママ、どうしたの?どうした?」

ママ 「ママ、ちょっと、喉が痛いよ」

イライジャ 「チューしてあげる」

(喉にキスと撫ぜ撫ぜ)

イライジャ 「もう大丈夫になった?」

ママ 「もう大丈夫だよ」

elijah: “what’s the matter, mama?  what’s the matter?”

mama: “my throat hurts a bit, mama.”

elijah: “(i’ll) give you a kiss.”

(gives me a kiss on my throat and pets me)

elijah: “has (it) got better now?”

mama: “i’m okay now.”

he was super-sweet and i didn’t want to miss this sweet opportunity.

so i asked him ::

ママ 「ママ、目も痛いよ。チューしてください。」

イライジャ (チュッ)

ママ 「右のほっぺも痛いです。」

イライジャ (チュッ)

ママ 「左も」

イライジャ (笑って) 「痛くないよ~。もう、大丈夫だよ~。」

(笑いながら走って逃げる)

mama: “mama, my eyes hurt, too.  please give me a kiss”

elijah: (kiss)

mama: “my right cheek hurts too”

elijah: (kiss)

mama “left one, too”

elijah: (laugh) “(it) doesn’t hurt!  (you’re) all right now.”

(ran away, laughing)

once in awhile, having a cold isn’t too bad.

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summer diary book, 1981 front cover

my mom sent me a box full of my old diaries, essays, letters and poems.  this is one of the picture diaries that i had to keep as an assignment during summer vacation when i was in grade one.  it looks like i drew it with crayon.  the summer vacation began on july 20 and ended on august 31.  i wrote a diary entry under the drawing.

summer diary, july 21, 1981

JULY 21, TUESDAY 1981 SUNNY

“i was forced to take medicine by mother yesterday.  so i threw up.  after i threw up, my throat hurt.”

what a touching story!  can you feel the maternal love?

medicine in japan is very bitter.  Kong Qiu said “good medicine tastes bitter in the mouth…”.  for that, japanese pharmaceuticals are doing an excellent job.

even the kid’s medicine i had to take was also bitter.  they came in liquid and powder form.  my mom used to wrap powder medicine in “オブラート (oblaat)”, which is a tasteless water-soluble gel made of starch.  that way, i wouldn’t taste the bitterness of the medicine.  liquid medicine, on the other hand, had no way to distract from its bad taste — a sickening mixture of cola, cinnamon, dirt and toothpaste in a purple-brown color.  as i got older and more mischievous, i would pour the liquid medicine down the sink and tell my mom that i took it.  i was successfully “taking” the medicine happily in this way until one day when i poured so much down the drain that my mom noticed and figured out what was going on.

i learned that i should never EVER tell a lie to my mom and to stay healthy so that i wouldn’t have to take medicine.

canadian kids don’t have to go through such a rough childhood.

children’s tylenol in canada is flavored cherry, bubblegum, or banana — you name it.  elijah likes the super-sweet medicine so much that he asks for a second helping — saying “more, more” — a red carpet to happy drug addiction.

i can’t wait to introduce him the king of bitter medicine, the original “SEIRO-GAN“!

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