Lately I have received many messages on my email that international groups dealing with pornography or essay writing are trying to post on my blog page. I find these emails offensive and totally inappropriate.
I also know that I am taking a risk posting my photos of my paintings on this site as there are unscrupulous people in Asia who simply copy work and sell it. I am neither famous nor wealthy and so I do not understand why anyone would bother to copy my paintings. I do love what I do and I will continue to post on this page. But, like most people, I am outraged by this greed and callousness, especially when my animal charities are victimized.
And so, if you are one of these "students" or "teachers" in an English essay writing course, please just stop writing nonsense.
Because of this intrusion into my life and this website, I am not allowing any comments to be posted. And I would hope that those who are copying my art, suffer some sort of grief for this theft. Unfortunately my host site seems to be unable to set up a sufficient firewall to protect my pages, but that is the way of the world now. Sadly!
I have a watercolour based on this photo now hanging at our Brushstrokes Gallery at Lonsdale Quay. How beautiful are these fall colours in Whistler Village! I was really blown away by the brilliance. It did not take great camera skill to capture this image. In the background, you can see the slopes of Blackcomb still in green, but it wasn't long before the rain came below and the snows carved out the runs up above. It was the "off season" but tourists still came from all over the world. What a gift!
How lucky I am to live and walk amongst these amazing trees in what the Native People call the Spirit Forest! This creek is only ten minutes from my home. Yes it rains a lot here during the winter months, but when the sun comes out and the mist slowly leaves the forest floor, it is magical!
Of course, there is tragedy here also as more and more people are moving to this place. Last spring, my neighbours were all greatly upset as developers came to clear cut 10 acres of the forest just south of this creek. They are in the midst of building another huge apartment building are are "crowing" that a development of 39 town homes sold out in three months. There seem to be no restrictions on putting more and more condos into this narrow space that we call the North Shore. As the trunks of these majestic trees were taken by truck down the hill and off to who knows where, it was like a funeral procession. Of course, the black tailed deer, the bald eagles, the pileated woodpeckers, and all those little brown birds are displaced - and so it is funereal!
For the moment, I am refreshed and feel the magic of these places. They must be protected. I am blessed to be able to have this experience!
This story of the destruction of rainforests and habitat is tragically true all around the world where the orangatans, the rhinos and the elephants, and now the Koalas of Australia are losing their homes. Too often, the perpetrators are Chinese who have new found wealth and little respect for Mother Earth, but clearly the governments of Australia, the United States, Tanzania, Zimbabwai and Swaziland are willing to sell what is really not theirs because of their own greed. I do not understand this lack of forethought and selfishness. Why do governments not move quickly to protect these spaces? Why do people continue to buy products that will mean the depletion of these forests? If you agree with me, do not just nod your head! Instead, take action, write to your governments, join an advocacy group, send money to help save those animals who are suffering, stop buying products that contain palm oil (that even includes peanut butter and your favourite shampoo!) - put your oar in the water and start to work on behalf of these Spirit Forests and the amazing wildlife on our planet!
What a piece of work is man!
The Garamba Park Rangers
In the week after our March for Elephants and Rhinos in Vancouver, there was a terrible incident in the Garamba Park in the Congo. Park Rangers who were tracking the collar of an elephant were ambushed by members of the Lords Resistance Army. The helicopter that brought them into the area, returned and dropped a sling, rescuing most of the rangers, before its rotor was destroyed by bullet fire. Sadly, four men were left behind and were killed. They are survived by their wives and fourteen children.
After paying expenses, our group, Elephanatics, had raised a small amount of money from our efforts during our march - the selling of T shirts, umbrellas and cards and from many donations. At a recent meeting, Dr. Jake Wall, one of our founding members, suggested that we consider making a contribution to the families of the four Garamba Rangers who died. We were all pleased to take this initiative and with Jake's help, a connection was made with the Garamba Park. In addition, we are building up that fund through GoFundMe Garamba Rangers. Our hope is that the money we can send to these people in the Congo will demonstrate our concern for them and their loved ones who are putting their lives on the line to protect the elephants. Hopefully this will also be a message of encouragement for those rangers who may feel they have been forgotten by the rest of the world. You can find out more aboaut this at yourevolution.ubc.ca/Garamba Rangers Fund
If you can, please find the Garamba Rangers on GoFundMe and make a donation that can bring a message of comfort and warmth to these families.
Today is Pearl Harbour Day, widely recognized as a turning point in World War Two. It is also the 24th anniversary of the funeral service for my dear father, Don Thomas. He would have been 99 this year! His suffering at the end of his life is always with me, and I am always overcome by sadness and tearfulness at this time of year - it is what I do while others are busily shopping and getting ready for Christmas.
I know I am not alone in feeling sadness at this time. December 6, yesterday, was the 26th anniversary of the assasination of young women who were students in Montreal at Ecole Polytechnique, murdered by a man who felt that women had no place in a professional world. John Lennon was shot December 8, 1980. And, of course, the children who were murdered at Sandy Hook in 2012 have been joined by the workers in California this past week in death. The list of those who were innocent victims of evil is far too long. Now we have many refugees who need help as they try to escape evil.
Such a justaposition of grief with celebration at this time of year - when we are supposed to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus - if we are Christians. But this meaning of Christmas has lost a lot, hasn't it? Without getting into the long list of reasons why this season has been coopted by all other less worthy activities, it is a time to reflect on what has happened in this past year, on what we believe in our hearts, and a time to work even harder to be thankful for what is around us, to care for our loved ones and let them know our love. And it is a time to look again and again at the beauty of the world that is at our feet, to reach out to try to keep wildlife safe, to care for the animals who make our lives brighter. Very often it is harder to remember the good things - but they are there!
16" x 16"
Our March for Elephants and Rhinos is in the final planning stages. While it is great to cover our costs and I am happy to have sold many umbrellas to support this cause, the most important goal of this March is to educate people who may not yet know that buying IVORY means that a beautiful animal must die. Elephants are dying at an atrocious rate of one every 15 minutes, as are Rhinos! We could be without any of these animals in the wild before my granddaughter finishes high school! Ivory and Rhino Horn belong on the animal and not in a magical potion to increase human libido and not on a shelf to show how prosperous the human being is! Please support this shout out for animals by donating to a reputable elephant or rhino refuge or vet program, joining our March or speaking out via petitions or letters to those responsible for allowing this to continue. Support bans on Ivory and on inhumane ways of keeping these animals in captivity in zoos and circuses around the world. Do not ride elephants when you are on holiday - volunteer at an elephant refuge. There are so many ways you can help. Each small personal effort combines with others to create a bigger impact. Make yours a positive one for wildlife, please.
Welcome again! Happy to show my latest Acrylic, "White Wash Tofino", Long Beach, Tofino, 24' x 36". It depicts the weather that we have seen so often on the west coast. This was Long Beach at Tofino on an earlier trip.
But this July and August, we longed for that very kind of storm. I was one of a group of "waterers" who dragged heavy hoses out to the rhododendrons and hydrangeas in the gardens around our condo. The plants were wilting. In the rainforests so well known for their moisture, the bears are starving because the berries have dried on the vine and the salmon cannot get upstream. No wonder that the bears are coming down into the city looking for something as simple as birdseed to fill their bellies. The cougars which have been shot in town are described as being emaciated as they prowl looking for cats or birds to eat. Even the birds have had trouble finding puddles and streams and there are no worms for the robins. It has been most frightening. It is predicted that next summer will be the same. The winter is to be warm and dryer than in the past.
This past weekend, we had more rain than in the previous four months. It felt great. Unfortunately trees were uprooted, full leafed branches fell, property was damaged, a woman is struggling for her life and thousands were without power. We cannot just chalk this up to El Nino and carry on. I believe in Climate Change theories and they are very scary. The weather has been weird all across the world. Our government needs to step up and make big policy changes. We need to demand change from our politicians and ask questions during this election time.
But we can do things ourselves. There are changes we must make - use grey water for our gardens or the car wash, bring in rain barrels to collect water off the roof, take more care with the water we use and save drinking water for just that. I love to paint in the sunshine out of doors, but this painting of the storm at Tofino was great fun!
I have been doing a lot of watercolour lately. It started when the owner of a bookshop in Edgemont Village invited me to submit a couple of watercolours to her store, 32 Books. "The Cracked Pot" is there now, waiting for a buyer. The legend of the cracked pot tells about a woman carrying water up the hill to a garden owned by the Emporer. When she got to the top, she discovered that her water was gone, but water from the pot had nurtured the flowers all the way up the hill and had fulfilled its mission of bringing beauty to the land. The lesson is that beauty is not always found in things which are perfect! As I get more and more of my own cracks, I cling to this thought.
In June, I painted "en plein air" at Ambleside. It is hard for me to paint outside with people watching; I get to talking. This led to one of the most beautiful moments of my summer when an elderly woman, a true beauty in her 90's, approached. We talked for at least a half hour with her memories of her experiences with elephants resurfacing again and again. She was so passionate about elephants and the need to treat them with kindness and throw away the bull hooks, that I felt very drawn to her. After a while, she looked longingly at one of my paintings (Elephant Dream) and we made a good deal for all of us. I carried her new painting to her apartment and placed it on a hook opposite her bed. She was so touched by it and I was so touched by her caring. That money she gave me has now gone to support the March for Elephants and Rhinos to be held October 3. Thank you, Jacqueline!
I will continue to paint at Ambleside by the sea in September on the days when the sun shines and most probably on the weekends.
My father-in-law, Peter Croezen, passed away last week (April 30), after a very sudden and devastating diagnosis of lung cancer. Peter was a fine man who was very positive about my painting, bless him! He was a father of four sons, a grandfather and great-grandfather. He immigrated to Canada in 1956 from Holland and became a teacher in Newmarket, North Bay and Kitchener. When he retired from teaching, he took several groups of Dutch tourists on travels around Canada; he was a treasure trove of interesting stories. In 2010, he returned to his home town of Coervorden in the Netherlands where he instigated the renaming of the main streets of the town after the Canadian soldiers (James Reilly, Mervin Brampton and Montgomery Cliff) who liberated it on April 5, 1945.
Peter also developed a method of reproducing rare endangered orchids in a test tube and travelled several times to Peru where he taught students how to use his method to save orchids which are threatened with extinction in the mountains. There were always thousands of tiny orchids in his home laboratory. He created hybrids of orchids and named them after his grandchildren and his daughters-in-law. I was never very good at keeping his orchids alive and had to return one that he gave me when it was in serious condition. However, I have recently painted a watercolour of a white phalanopsis in a cracked pot (see my Watercolour page). I think I need to work on a few more orchid paintings and I will remember him as I paint. I can never look again at an Orchid without fondly remembering Peter Croezen.
My life was all the better because of Peter Croezen.