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Monday
Dec012008

Illustration Friday: Balloon

Illustration Friday: Balloon

For Illustration Friday. This week's topic: "Balloon."

I posted about my obsessions with red balloons nearly ten years ago, so figured it's okay for me to re-post the story of how I became penpals with a boy named Frank Mrowka for a while.

I met Frank (sort of) years ago when I lived on St. Patrick Street in Village By The Grange in the late 80’s. One of my Favourite Things are helium red balloons; it used to be one of my secret vices, probably stemming from a favourite childhood story called THE RED BALLOON (also made into a French film, I think). Anyway, one day I was feeling down, so went out and bought myself a red helium balloon to cheer myself up. My usual ritual was to go somewhere quiet, out in the open, and let it go. In my mind, I would also “let go” of whatever was stressing me out or getting me down that day. Sounds silly, but it usually worked for me.

Anyway, on this particular day, I decided on whim to tie a note to my balloon. I drew a little cartoon sketch of myself and included my name and address (yeah, I know, I was a bit nuts back then) and sent it off. This was from the middle of the street in downtown Toronto, and the sky was very clear that day. A few weeks later, I got a letter from a young boy (7 or 8, I think) in Lockport, New York. Turns out his father had found the balloon in a tree in their fruit orchard! Frank and I corresponded steadily for years. Last I heard, he was around 14 and on the high school basketball team. That was a couple years ago, but I still feel compelled to send him a Christmas card once a year, just for old time’s sake.

I don’t do the red balloon thing anymore. I don’t like the idea of my dying balloons landing who-knows-where, and also now prefer to confront problems and stresses directly rather than “wishing them away”. But every so often, I’ll pass a party shop or a summer street vendor with a huge handful of balloons, and feel a twinge of nostalgia. :-)
Saturday
Nov292008

National Cartoonist Society Canada Holiday Party



Partying with cartoonists is never dull. At least that's been my experience each time I attend the annual NCS Canada holiday party in Toronto, and each year is just more fun.

NCS Canada holiday party in Toronto

Above on left: Sandra Bell-Lundy, creator of Between Friends, a comic strip currently published in over 130 newspapers worldwide. Other fellow facing the camera is Paul Gilligan, whose Pooch Cafe appears in about 275 papers worldwide.

This year I went with our friend John Kalisz, who does work for Marvel and DC. I met John through Rand Bellavia; ironically, I see John much more often than Rand these days because of John's trips to Toronto. John's a wonderful houseguest and both Jeff and I enjoy his company and friendship. There's a non-zero possibility he may be moving to Toronto, yay!

John and me

Below: John Martz, also known as RobotJohnny. John is the President of the NCS Canadian chapter. He and Ryan North contributed a great story to the fifth volume of the Flight series called "Scenes in Which the Earth Stops Spinning."

John Martz

It was great to see Patricia Storms again - she is SUCH a fun lady, bursting with energy, enthusiasm and wit. As you can tell from the photo at the top of this post, she also didn't need a microphone when she was calling out the winning raffle numbers.

NCS Canada holiday party in Toronto

Two of my three raffle tickets won prizes! I won a bag of literary goodies donated by Patricia, plus a three-DVD set of Tutenstein, an Emmy Award winning animated television series, produced by Porchlight Entertainment for Discovery Kids and based on an idea by Jay Stephens.

I didn't take that many photos at the party because I spent most of my time talking with people, but I've posted pics in my NCS Holiday Party 2008 Flickr set. Here are a few more:

NCS Canada holiday party in Toronto

Great to see Deborah and Derrick Peyton again (above). Deborah Peyton is a New Brunswick cartoonist who does custom cartoons and illustrations and is also the creator of “Day to Day“, a cartoon that appeared in newspapers throughout Eastern Canada and Florida. She has two ‘Day to Day’ collections distributed by Thomas Allen and Son Ltd. of Toronto, as well as a line of merchandise.

Tak Bui at the NCS Canada holiday party in Toronto

Really enjoyed meeting Tak Bui, a professional comic artist and editorial cartoonist. He created two popular strips, 'PC and Pixel' (daily) and 'Cheap Thrills Cuisine' (weekly), which are distributed worldwide in over 80 newspapers including The Washington Post.

NCS Canada holiday party in Toronto

Above, from L to R: Patricia Storms, Mark Askwith and John Martz. When I first saw Mark, I thought he looked very familiar and then realized where I had seen him before -- interviewing Neal Stephenson in Toronto last month! Fascinating guy; I enjoyed talking with him.

Thanks to John Martz for the invite, and thanks to Patricia Storms for getting me involved with these NCS gatherings in the first place!

If you're a cartoonist, especially one in Canada, do check out the National Cartoonist Society website if you haven't already. You can find out more about the regional chapters on this page.
Friday
Nov282008

Goodstuff revisited

Happydoodle

Above: I'm trying to get back into my habit of doing a Daily Doodle just for fun.

A while back, I posted about how I tend to be drawn to positive people. Thanks for all the feedback to this post! Here are a few of the comments (and a brief note about why I try to avoid public whining):

From vixy:

I’m the same way, and I try to do some of the same things. It’s not unrealistic at all.

I try to ask myself… it’s usually in my head so it’s not always actually in words, but basically… “What are you adding to the world?” Or, “What are you putting out into the world right now?”

That question has stopped me from a few bad decisions, for instance something I was going to say that I would have regretted later, either because it would hurt someone, or simply because it would wind up bringing me (and those around me) down even more, or because it would have made me look like a bitter, negative person in public. Is what I’m about to do or say adding anything to the world at all other than negativity? Has it got any purpose? Why am I doing this? What am I adding to the world?

Of course, sometimes you just have to vent. But I try to recognize when I’m venting because I need to vs. being needlessly snarky and dwelling on things that I need to just let go.


From Linda Neely:

I spent 37 years working in Human Resources and I got lots of complaining people. I’d been in HR for about 2 years when I got assigned to handle Employee Relations. I saw the same people over and over and finally decided I’d have to do something about it so I startled one of my regular complainers by telling her that she would have to tell me three good things that had happened to her that day before I’d listen to a complaint. I did this for a week with all the people who just came in to gripe. (I didn’t do this for people with legitimate complaints.) Anyway, the interesting thing to me is that after about a week the same people kept coming in but they’d come and say, let me tell you what happened and they’d tell me good things. Eventually I realized that what they mostly wanted was for someone to listen to them. They would talk as eagerly about good things as bad. It’s just that most of them had found that other people were more likely to pay attention when they talked about bad things.

There’s no profound moral to this tale, but what I learned is that my behavior has a lot to do with what other people give me. If the only time I pay attention is when something is wrong. . .

From Jane Garthson:

You are such a positive person, and such a joy to be around, that I can’t remember you saying anything negative. And while some store clerks would be rude to anyone, anytime, surely you bring out the good side in most people you meet. Or the evil side, with filkers, but that is quite different from negative.

I would give anything to have your smile. Sometimes, when I am smiling inside, my facial muscles do not cooperate and I do not look as happy as I feel.


From Michelle Sagara:



They tend to be positive, benevolent personalities

I vote that you grandfather some of us in!


From Andrea:



There have been times, with both Jim and I, that we purposely tell the other person “I am going to vent” and then righteously vent, just to get rid of the energy.

And I’ve done the same, in email to friends (announcing the vent-to-happen first of course). It feels good to get rid of it and then move on *grin.*

I also enjoy friends who have a sense of humor that helps me see what’s ridiculous about a situation. Like when my ex husband wanted to sign our divorce papers on Valentine’s day. I told a good friend that in a rather disgusted tone, and she burst out laughing, because well it *was* funny *chuckle.” (and no, we didn’t sign the papers that day . ..)


From David "Born In The Summer, So I'm A Natural Optimist, Scientifically Proven" Barker:

Nothing “unrealistically idealistic” about your attitude. I do the same kind of personal monitoring about negatives. Doesn’t always work, but nuthin’s perfect.

(I will, but not often, call chronic complainers on it. As hazardous as that may sound, it’s not always the wrong thing to do.)


From Judifilksign:

Your view strikes a chord with me - I, too try to stay positive. I have times when I allow myself a good rant or a wallow, but once it's out, I'm back to my normal perky self.


From maedbh7:

I could write a thesis in response to this. Perhaps in my own LJ, I will :) -H...


I also recently rented a movie -or maybe it was a recorded tv show, I can't recall- in which someone said she tries never to say anything to anyone that wouldn't hold up as the last thing she said (e.g. if she never saw that person again, or if something happened to her). Something to strive for, I think.

It's part of the reason I try hard not to post negative blog entries unless I intend there to be something good to come out of it. I'm aware, especially from life experience and experiences of people I know, that life can end quickly and unexpectedly for anyone at anytime...one of the reasons I do try to squeeze every bit out of every moment.

And suppose I posted a whiny blog entry, then something happened to prevent me from posting again. Do I really want THAT entry to be the last one I ever post? The one that stays online for people to remember me by? As Vixy said above, what will I be adding to the world?

It's impossible to stay positive all the time, of course, and everyone needs to wallow and bitch once in a while. But as Judi says above, just get it out of your system and then come back. :-)
Thursday
Nov272008

Happy Thanksgiving! (and my last BGG.con post)



Happy Thanksgiving to you Americans out there. Here are the last two instalments of my BGG.con report:

Part 4

Part 5
Wednesday
Nov262008

Imagine & Geekguy



I have another painting up on Etsy; I'm pretty happy with how the colours turned out. "Imagine" is an original acrylics painting on stretched canvas. Measurements: 4" x 4" (approx 10cm x 10 cm) and about 1 1/2" (4 cm) thick. Sides are painted so no need for a frame, and are thick enough that you can stand this painting up for display.



Another new item: Geekguy, a piece of handpainted, hand-thrown pottery by my friend Luisa and me. Our pottery is food safe, microwave and dishwasher safe. We pack it carefully in bubble-wrap and mail it with first-class postage in a crush-proof box. "Geekguy" measures approx 4" (just over 10 cm) across.

If you buy either piece, you're free to use the image as an LJ icon. :-)

You can see these pieces and others in my Etsy shop.
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