Neil Gaiman says:

Neil Gaiman says:
pic by Allan Amato

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas 2010

2010 was an exciting year, full of change, travel and new beginnings. Mid-February, I was admitted to hospital in Utica, NY for a gastric bypass. The surgery itself took longer than my Mom would’ve liked, but I was grateful to have Dr. Fitzer’s time well spent getting everything ‘just right’. I’m relieved to have a new lease on life: one without pain, or the mobility issues that had become a way of life, or the looming threat of diabetes.

May was another beginning in my life, with the birth of Brain Power Studio, headed by Beth Stevenson. A lifelong childhood friend and creative powerhouse, Beth had a vision to create great children’s programming, educational content and publishing. Thankfully, she also pictured a certain writer-artist in the mix: me! The studio launch happened in June and we received excited accolades and many toasts. ‘Overhead Bob’, our stalwart figurehead was present, as was ‘Team Zero’. We posed, were quoted and made toasts of our own.

At the end of July, my Mom and I headed to the States once more. We crossed into Vermont, drove through the breathtaking mountains of New Hampshire and into Maine. We stayed in Bangor (and even visited Stephen King’s house!) We headed back into Canada near St. Stephen. The Duty-free store had a back window where you drove around to collect any alcohol you’d picked up, to ensure that the booze was Canada-bound. It felt like something from the old ‘prohibition’ days!

We visited lovely St.Andrew’s-by-the-Sea, caught the ferry from Saint John to Digby, then drove to Lunenburg. We had great travel luck and enjoyed tasty food and friendliness wherever we went. Thanks to our GPS, losing our map in the States didn’t set us back too much. We caught the Ferry to PEI and made our way to Charlottetown, the ‘Birthplace of Confederation’ There, we caught up with Troy, Carol, Alicen & Hayden, met new friends and enjoyed great music. I was able to share the lovely beaches and scenery with Mom and enjoyed wonderful Island Hospitality shown by Troy’s folks as they hosted a delightful brunch for us. We left for Miramichi that afternoon and had a great time reconnecting with Robbie, Bobbie, Chloe, Piper and Briar.

Mom and I had a blast going on a few mini-road trips with the Stewart-Anderson clan, up to Escuminac for fresh lobster, then to Cape Enrage the next day to explore the cobble beach. Everyone found cool fossils! After far too short a stay, we headed west, spending the night at Riviere-du-Loup. It wasn’t long before we negotiated the traffic snarl of Montreal and were safely home, backs slowly unkinking with tasty drinks in hand!

It was so nice reuniting with Clayton and of course Hank! Hank has enjoyed being fostered during all my trips at the cottage with Vicki, Anders, Emilia and Dan. We’re very lucky that he has his ‘home-away-from-home’ available and such loving people to spoil him rotten.

October 13th was a momentous day, as the ever-youthful Clayton turned the ‘big 5-0’. We celebrated over delicious dim sum at our favourite place in Kanata. Clayton and I shared a birthday gift of a PS3 game system and he received lots of new games. We’re still trying to figure out all the controls; but are having fun! Getting a new toy when you turn 50 is probably the best way to describe Clayton’s outlook on life: “13 going on 50”.

I was fortunate this year to receive a pass to the Ottawa International Animation Festival. I enjoyed meeting lots of creative and cool people, catching inspiring animated films and also testing my endurance at several industry parties. It was delightful being able to walk everywhere without worrying about stairs, distance or pain… although by the end of it I was happy to get a rest! It was a thrill getting to be a part of the festival and helping to get Brain Power’s name out there.

Clayton and I continued to coordinate the monthly Ottawa Comix Jam at the Shanghai Restaurant. The Ottawa comic scene is vibrant and the people are fun. We were happy to see a lot of new faces turn up at the gatherings and some great artwork produced. The Shanghai has offered to host an art show for our group next April and we are planning how that will come about. It should be a blast!

Mom and I enjoyed a couple of lovely trips to Belleville: in October to celebrate Uncle Dale’s 70th birthday and in December for the family’s annual Tree Trim. It was such fun getting to catch up with all the cousins, sisters and aunts ;-)

November, I spent illustrating ‘Momma’s Magic’, another children’s book by local author Bobby Salvin, which is at the printers. Once that was completed, I was ready for my next adventure…

LAS VEGAS! Mom and I skipped town Dec 9th and winged west on Westjet’s inaugural non-stop flight to Nevada. Complete with showgirls, an Elvis impersonator, free drinks and prizes, the flight was a hoot! We stayed at Bugsy Siegel’s famous hotel ‘The Flamingo’, where Hunter S. Thompson had penned ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’. It was a beautiful place with a bird sanctuary and marble opulence everywhere. But, the main attraction for us was across the street at Caesar’s Palace. Saturday night, we attended the last show of Leonard Cohen’s 3 year tour at the Coliseum. What a treat! This 76 year-old, full of grace and generosity, love and heart, backed by some of the most talented musicians in the industry, wowed us for over 3 hours. Ovation followed ovation and encore followed encore. He dusted off songs from 30 years ago and rolled out his hits. Polka-dot blouses fluttered in the air and the crowd breathed sighs of amazement as ‘Hallelujah’ soared over us. It was an incredible, memorable night—where everyone wore fedoras and roses cascaded over the stage.

We spent a day recovering, then ventured to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon. Words and pictures fall short of describing the natural beauty of this place. I was shocked seeing people far past the ‘safety barricade’, posing with small children inches from the precipices however. Apparently around 15 tourists plunge per year. We kept our distance, and used up the batteries in both our cameras shooting a pile of pictures.

We also spent time at the slot machines, and a couple of nice wins paid for my tour of the Canyon and also a Burlesque show! We hoofed it all around, rode the monorail and the bus, explored the Luxor’s display on “Bodies” which was intense and humbling. We also paused at the famous Gold and Silver Pawn shop and poked around. No deals there, but plenty of great history my Dad would’ve enjoyed.

I realize that this year’s traveling would’ve been impossible for me last year. The little things had the biggest impact: doing up a seat belt on a plane without an extender, walking up a flight of stairs without a cane; walking up stairs on a double-decker bus, sitting in a booth at a restaurant. Simply having the energy to do all of these things. Surgery is partly to thank for this, but the other part is the support and love from my family and friends during the long road to healing and losing over 100 lbs.

I send our best wishes out to you for the season, may it be one of happiness, relaxation and peace. However you celebrate the holidays, may you spend it in love, held warmly and firmly in the embrace of people who care for you and keep you close to their hearts. May the New Year bring equal measures of goodness, luck, health and beauty your way.

Big hugs and plenty o’ love,
Suzanne & Clayton