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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Entries in Friends (20)


Christmas tree ornaments plus wedding photography follow-up

Our Christmas tree

The past few years, I've participated in a homemade Christmas ornament exchange. Thanks to Amanda Snyder for organizing the exchange this past year! Anyway, here are pics of some of the ornaments I've received:

From Allison, a gorgeous chain-maille decoration:

Xmas ornament exchange: from Allison

A beautiful homemade garland from Cyndee with dried slices of oranges tied to a shimmery tulle ribbon:

Xmas ornament exchange: from Cyndee

And thanks so much to Becca for this lovely crocheted fan:

Xmas ornament exchange: from Becca

In response to my post yesterday about my cousin's wonderful wedding photos, Brooke Palmer posted the following:

Thank you for your kind words, they are deeply appreciated.

I am the “Palmer” half of Cipriano Palmer Photography. Your article is very flattering and complimentary towards Josie and myself but we have to give credit where credit is due here. Dan & Crina were a delight to work with and gave their all to the photography process at their wedding. The photography portion of their wedding day was carefully planned and orchestrated. More than ample time was scheduled to allow us to be creative and explore the various locations we photographed them in. This fact cannot be overlooked when discussing how well the photographs turned out from their wedding day.

Josie and I photograph many weddings every year and the attitude of the bride and groom is paramount in obtaining great results. There is the old saying, “You get out what you put in” and I feel the efforts Dan and Crina made were a big part of the success we all enjoyed on their wedding day.


Chocolate from Franklin

Chocolate from Franklin

My friend Franklin sent this hat full of chocolates as a St. Nicholas gift from Germany! He also sent chocolate-filled hats for Jodi and Allison. What a sweetie.

Chocolate from Franklin

The celebration of St. Nicholas, by the way, isn't the same as the role of Santa Claus in North America, at least as it's practiced in European countries. In the Netherlands, for instance, Sinterklaas (Dutch name for St. Nicholas) will give gifts and candy to good children, but bad children might be taken back to Spain with him. His helper is Zwarte Piet (Black Pete).

Chocolate from Franklin

The names and roles vary slightly, depending the country. Sometimes St. Nick leaves the punishments to his helper. In France, Pere Fouettard disciplines bad children with a spanking while Pere Noel (Father Christmas) just leaves gifts.

Apparently there really was a St. Nicholas. He was born in 271 AD and died around December 6, 342 or 343 AD in Turkey. His reputation for doing good deeds and helping the helpless blossomed into long-lasting mythology after his death. (Source: Kaboose.)

I can't help but be curious, though, whether his nasty little helper was also based on a real person...

Franklin and Urban Tapestry

Anyway, I'll be giving Allison's and Jodi's chocolates to them this Thursday. Thank you, Franklin!

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.

Finding planets

Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Congrats to my astrophysicist friend Bruce and the rest of the Gemini team on imaging planets outside the solar system!

Bruce is one of a group of my friends from university who still keep in touch. After graduating, we scattered across the globe. Some got married and had kids. Occupations include programmers, authors, astrophysicists, journalists, illustrators, experimental high energy physicists, biologists, editors, system analysts, among others. One helped develop the iPhone. Several are Scrabble gurus. And one discovers planets. :-D

Jeff's and my home domain,, was based on a zine I used to edit years ago as a way of keeping my friends in touch. I keep toying with the idea of resurrecting The Electric Penguin as an actual publication but have held off because I already have way too many projects on the go.

One of the ways we keep in touch now is via a private mailing list hosted by one of the group. It's pretty quiet most of the time, but every so often there will be a flurry of activity, like with this latest news.

An amusing quote from my friend Andy: "That brings up the number of people I know who have discovered planets to... 1."


A side note: Another friend of mine, Jean, worked on the original adaptive optics. Jean and Bruce have never met, but I do think it very cool that I have two friends who contributed.

Related articles:
Astronomers capture first images of newly-discovered solar system (LLNL)
Fuzzy photos taken of planets outside solar system (CBC news)
Scientists take first photos of planets orbiting other stars (LA Times)

My earlier Blathering about Bruce:
Boardgames, paranoia, and astrophysics

Visiting Erin and Rand

Rand tries to distract Erin from making pizza

I had a wonderful time visiting with Erin and Rand in Buffalo. I also got a ton of work done. :-) During the day, I worked on my laptop at Rand's library.

Buffalo autumn

It's in a gorgeous area, and is steps away from a great little cafe / restaurant. The cafe people noticed how regularly I was dropping by and asked if I went to the college nearby. When I said I was visiting Rand, they said, "You know Rand? Oh, we LOVE Rand!"

I also got to see Rand in his new office:

Rand in his office

I love Rand's library. It's well-lit, quiet, well-organized, clean, comfortable and has lots of power outlets. Plus a cute Library Director, of course.

We had lunch with Thomas Woods, whom I hadn't seen since he was the emcee for Rand's and Erin's wedding. Thomas is doing more web design, by the way, so be sure to check out his webpage.

Thomas and Rand

Visited Don's Atomic Comics, where I bought the newest Flight: Volume Five and admired Don's impressive tattoo art.

Don's Atomic Comics

I got to see Erin's and Rand's new house. Wonderful place with lots of natural light...and a fireplace! We spent one cozy night in front of the fire, watching some episodes of West Wing (which I had never seen before but loved).

Fireplace (visiting Rand and Erin)

I said hi to my old friend, Chunky Rice:

Chunky Rice the Turtle

And admired some of their fridge magnets:

Fridge magnets

Rand bought the little photo of Jeff Bohnhoff as an infant at an Interfilk auction a while back. Heh. >:-)

John Kalisz came over to visit, and we all sampled some FANTASTIC ice cream that Erin and Rand had picked up in Ohio: Graeter's Ice Cream. My favourite flavour was the pumpkin, but the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip was also to die for. I don't understand how they managed to keep the chocolate chips (big chunks of chocolate, not just chips) soft -- the chocolate bits in most ice cream is frozen.

Unbelievably good ice cream

One of my visit highlights was Erin's baking and cooking. Her homemade bread, for instance:

Erin's homemade bread

She also made pizza from scratch:

Erin's homemade pizza

It turned out wonderfully, despite Rand's (frequent) attempts to distract her:

Rand tries to distract Erin from making pizza

We also did some music together (I had my flute with me), going through both new and old songs. I especially loved hearing Erin and Rand sing together! Hopefully they'll do more of that at FilKONtario.

Rand and Erin rehearse

I opted to take the train there and back. I used to take the bus, but I find the train way more comfortable and less of a hassle. It takes longer at the Canada-U.S. border, but at least I could stay in my seat and keep working on my laptop instead of unloading all my luggage and waiting in line at customs. Plus there were power outlets at every seat!

Wedding pics

Many thanks to Erin and Rand for being such fantastic hosts. It was great to see both of them again.