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Once Upon a Time in Canada: Chapter 2 (Rewrite) — Nov 28, 2018

Once Upon a Time in Canada: Chapter 2 (Rewrite)

Port Hawkesbury set Pictou down on the floor, and he woke up. He began crawling around the sitting room, setting his small button nose upon a feast of wild forest berries, the musky perfume of the woollen carpet, and a fresh mix of flower petals. Port Hawkesbury came closer to him.

“Hello. I’m Port Hawkesbury, your mother,” she greeted him. He gave her a sniff, as if to learn her aroma, and crawled up to Stellarton.

“Hello, Pictou. I’m Stellarton, your father.”

As with Port Hawkesbury, Pictou sniffed him down, trying to imprint his scent onto his senses. He attempted to climb the stairs, but Port Hawkesbury rightly scooped him up and carried him up to her bedroom for a little privacy. Undressing herself, she held Pictou to her chest, and he started suckling on her milk. Port Hawkesbury lovingly caressed him as he sucked out every last drop.

Getting back into her clothes, she picked Pictou back up and headed down to the kitchen to prepare his dinner. Pictou reached out enthusiastically for his food while it heated up in the microwave. The microwave pinged, and Port Hawkesbury carefully took the creamed corn over to Pictou, who clapped for his feed.

Scooping up a spoonful, Port Hawkesbury began zipping the spoon about like an airplane soaring in the big blue sky. Pictou’s eyes darted around to follow his food, and he swallowed the creamed corn whole.

“Good boy!” Port Hawkesbury praised him, preparing another spoonful. “More, Pictou?”


Later that evening, it was lobster chowder for supper. Pictou crawled in and out from below the table, sniffing at the air. Port Hawkesbury looked down, and she made kissy noises at him. Stellarton sipped on some his soup, blowing at it.

Pictou circled the table again, and Port Hawkesbury picked him up. “Oh, you want some chowder?” she asked him, then she glanced across at the fridge. “Or the chocolate mousse we’ve got for dessert?”

Pictou suddenly started coughing.

“Oh, is he choking?” Stellarton came over and gently patted Pictou’s back.

“Maybe he’s just winding himself,” reasoned Port Hawkesbury. “I fed him earlier this afternoon.”

After finishing up their chowder, she went over to the fridge and fetched the chocolate mousse. She kept Pictou close by so he wouldn’t choke from coughing again.


Port Hawkesbury slipped into her bed alongside Stellarton, having already put Pictou to bed. She lay on her side while Stellarton read a book in the lamplight.

“Pictou’s so sweet,” she said. “It’d be a shame if anything were to happen to him at such a young age.”

“He’s a godsend,” said Stellarton, and Port Hawkesbury agreed. He set his book down on the bedside and turned out the light.

“Goodnight, Port Hawkesbury.”

“Goodnight, Stellarton.” She lay her head on the pillow and started slumbering away.


The next morning, Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton took Pictou out in his stroller into town. Along the way, Pictou was descended on by numerous passers-by, who doted on his sweet looks and eyes.

“Pictou’s the talk of the town, isn’t he?” giggled Port Hawkesbury, and Stellarton nodded.

They ambled down Wellington Street until they reached the marina. A greying fisherman emerged from aboard his fishing boat, spotting Pictou approaching him in the distance.

“Oh, what a sweetie!” he exclaimed, stepping onto the pier. “And what may your name be, little one?”

“Pictou,” replied Port Hawkesbury.

“Pictou, eh?” He came closer to Pictou, who reached out to fondle his grizzled beard. “He’s a beauty. And you’re his parents?”

“Yes, I’m Port Hawkesbury, and this is Stellarton.”

The fisherman looked back up. “Y’all want some breakfast on my boat? It’s totally free, don’t worry.”

“Well, we’re Nova Scotians, why wouldn’t we?” Port Hawkesbury smiled, rolling the stroller onboard beside the table. The fisherman made some buttered toast with cups of tea, placing the slices inside a toast rack and laying it down on the table.

While they ate, Pictou crawled around the boat, sniffing a briny scent of freshly-caught fish and cool seawater in the air. The fisherman glanced at him from his plate.

“Oh, hello, little boy.”

Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton turned around to see Pictou, who was trying to vocalize something.

“Boat.”

“Huh? Pictou, did you just say something?”

Pictou uttered another “boat.”

“Oh, has he just said his first word?” Stellarton realized.

“He has?” Port Hawkesbury thought, then her heart burst with joy. “Oh, what a good boy! You’ve finally found your voice!”

“Now you don’t have to guess what he wants anymore,” laughed the fisherman.

“Well done, Pictou! You’ve made me very proud,” smiled Stellarton.


To celebrate Pictou’s first word, Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton decided to dine out at a local pub. She ordered a pizza with salami and four cheeses, while he ordered sausages and mash with onion gravy. Pictou would have his own mash.

“And some red wine and whiskey to drink.”

“Will do.”

Pictou started coughing softly. “Oh, Pictou,” Port Hawkesbury moaned, giving him a few pats on his back to alleviate his discomfort. Their drinks arrived, and Stellarton took a sip of his whiskey.

“While we wait it out for our food…” Port Hawkesbury fetched Pictou’s food from his stroller and unscrewed the top. She dug a lump of creamed chicken and sweetcorn out from the pot, then she gestured towards Pictou’s mouth. He turned around and happily swallowed it.

“Good boy. Have some more.”

At that moment, Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton’s own food arrived. Stellarton poured the gravy over his sausages and mash.

“Well, shall we tuck in then?”

Port Hawkesbury nodded. She dined on her pizza slice by slice while also feeding Pictou and sipping on her wine.

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Once Upon a Time in Canada: Chapter 1 (Rewrite) — Nov 20, 2018

Once Upon a Time in Canada: Chapter 1 (Rewrite)

As part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I’m re-writing my first novel, Once Upon a Time in Canada. My NaNo profile can be found here: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/novabrunswick


THUMP!

A pillow pummelled Port Hawkesbury’s head. But this wasn’t abuse – she was engaging in a playful tussle with her husband Stellarton. He lugged out the bedsheets from under his wife, causing her to tumble to the floor with a CRASH!

“Ouch, that hurt a little bit.” Port Hawkesbury rubbed the back of her head. Stellarton only laughed, but she laughed with him.

Soon, things became a little more heated. Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton intertwined their bodies with each other, their caressing and kissing slithering like silk.

Stellarton took Port Hawkesbury’s hand. “Let’s get one on.”

“Alright,” she whispered sensually, and they buried themselves beneath the sheets in a showering of passion.


Port Hawkesbury awoke to the cold white ceiling, Stellarton laying still beside her. She could feel the sensation of something inside her stomach, something almost phantom.

“I think I’m…”

She couldn’t get herself to think of the word as she headed into the bathroom, yanking the cord down and closing the door. A few minutes passed, and Port Hawkesbury held the stick to the light to get a better look at the results.

Positive.

Port Hawkesbury gasped, and she eagerly tried to awaken Stellarton from his slumber.

“Stellarton!”

“What?” He detected some excitement in her tone.

“Stellarton, I’m…”

He gazed at her as more silence fell. Her hand curving over her stomach seemed to be suggesting that she was indeed in that state.

“…I’m pregnant.”

“Oh, congratulations.”

Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton shared a tight embrace and a long kiss, like no kiss they’d ever shared before.


“Calling Port Hawkesbury Birchwood and Stellarton Bridges-Drummond for Dr. Kettering, please?”

Stellarton helped his wife up, and she cradled her puffy belly in both of her hands as they made their way to the doctor’s room. They sat themselves down at his desk, each one shaking their hands.

“Good afternoon, Port Hawkesbury,” he greeted her. “So you’re here for your monthly check-up, correct?”

“Yes.”

“You’re four months in,” said Dr. Kettering. “This is an important stage of your pregnancy. You’re going to need a lot of nutrients and vitamins – as will your baby. How have you been doing?”

“Apart from feeling a little poorly on some mornings? I’m good.” Port Hawkesbury smiled.

“That’s normal,” the doctor continued. “It’s all the hormones in your system. Your baby’s gaining momentum in its growth, and nutrients like fibre will aid in that growth even more.”

Stellarton lay a hand on Port Hawkesbury’s stomach, feeling its warmth. “I want my child to be the healthiest they can be.”

“You’re making a great decision, Stellarton,” the doctor praised him. “No one wants to have a sick baby, do they? That’s why you’re here.”

Dr. Kettering typed out Port Hawkesbury’s diet recommendations on his computer, and printed them off for her to stick to the fridge. Just before they set off, he had a message of well meaning for Port Hawkesbury.

“I wish you all the best for you and your baby.”

“Aw, thanks, Dr. Kettering. You as well.”

“I’ll see you next month to see how you’re doing again.”

Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton made their way out of the hospital, and he lay another hand on her stomach.

“This’ll be our child.”

Port Hawkesbury nodded, and they both set off home into the early evening.


“Mrs. Birchwood and Mr. Bridges-Drummond for Dr. Jarl, please?”

Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton heard their names over the PA system, and they headed down to the ultrasound scanning room, where Dr. Jarl was waiting. Port Hawkesbury lay herself down on the bench beside the machine, pulling her dress up to just below her chest.

“So, you’re Port Hawkesbury, yes?” the doctor asked her.

“That’s right.”

“And you’re how many months along now?”

“Five.”

Dr. Jarl started the machine. “I’m going to scan your baby to see how it’s doing,” she explained. “Before I do that, I’m going to apply this gel to your belly to help me scan more easily. It might feel a little bit cold…”

Port Hawkesbury flinched as the gel was rubbed all over her stomach. “Brrrrrrr! I think it’s TOO cold!” she laughed, as did the doctor.

“Yes, it’s very cold, isn’t it?”

The doctor began rolling the scanner over Port Hawkesbury’s belly. A faint monochrome image slowly started morphing on the screen, and she watched as it sharpened and cleared up.

The image eventually took on the form of a baby, tightly curled up like a mouse hibernating for the winter. Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton gasped with hope.

“That’s our baby.”

The doctor studied the image, carefully checking it for any deformities or other unusual phenomena. She sent it to the printer, which promptly ejected several copies of Port Hawkesbury’s scans, and stored them inside a sturdy envelope so they wouldn’t get bent. Stellarton peeked inside the envelope, thumbing through the prints.

“We’ll keep these as a memento of today.”

Dr. Jarl turned back to Port Hawkesbury. “So I’ve checked over your baby, and they don’t appear to have any abnormalities. You should have a happy and healthy baby come birth.”

“Well, that’s good to know.” Port Hawkesbury felt her baby kicking inside her.

“I wish you all the best.”

Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton headed out into the early evening and took another glance at their baby scan prints, using a nearby streetlight to get a better look.

“So this is the first picture of our baby,” said Stellarton, and Port Hawkesbury nodded. She wedged the envelope securely under her arm, and they walked hand-in-hand back home into the sunset.


Port Hawkesbury jolted awake. An excruciating pain pierced her stomach, and she shot out a shriek loud enough to awaken Stellarton. Realizing she was on the verge of giving birth, he gasped and dashed for the nearest telephone to dial 911.

“Hello, is that the ambulance? I need to go to the Sutherland Harris Memorial hospital. My wife’s gone into labour.”

He nodded, replacing the handset, and went back upstairs to tend to Port Hawkesbury while he waited, a siren wailing faintly in the distance.

“Calm down…”

A few minutes later, the ambulance pulled up outside his house, its siren flashing in ruby red and sapphire blue. Using his might, Stellarton hauled Port Hawkesbury from her bed downstairs, letting the paramedics strap her securely onto a stretcher. He crouched down at her side, holding tightly onto her hand as he comforted her through her labour pains.

Outside the hospital, the paramedics rushed Port Hawkesbury inside to the maternity ward. Her midwife saw her and promptly got to work delivering her baby.

“Come on, push!” she encouraged her. Stellarton stayed by Port Hawkesbury’s side, also pushing her on in both senses of the word.

A couple of assistant doctors came to Port Hawkesbury to give further aid. Her midwife peeked under the blanket to find two feet with tiny toes.

“I see two little feet!”

Port Hawkesbury pushed even harder, revealing two little legs upon the two the little feet. Next came the torso and umbilical cord, then the arms and head. One of the doctors grabbed onto a leg.

At last, Port Hawkesbury gave one big push – and an ear-splitting scream. Her newborn baby popped into her midwife’s arms.

“It’s a boy.”

Port Hawkesbury smiled sweetly as her new son had his umbilical cord chopped off and his backside slapped. He inhaled deeply and started crying with his first breath. Port Hawkesbury cradled him in her arms, gently stroking his soft skin.

“Isn’t he sweet?” Stellarton remarked.

“He’s perfect,” added Port Hawkesbury. They took a short moment to admire their freshly-born son a little more, before it came to the big decision.

“What’ll you name him, then?”

Port Hawkesbury glanced around the ward, then spotted something on a noticeboard out in the corridor. She turned back to her son.

“Pictou.”

As if in recognition of his newly-selected name, Pictou’s crying grew noisier.

“Welcome to the world, Pictou Denoon.”

“He’s our baby,” Stellarton proudly proclaimed, his speech almost deafened by Pictou’s howling.

Father’s Day 2018 — Jun 17, 2018

Father’s Day 2018

Fathers helped to create us; without them, none of us would be here. Even if they’re only celebrated on one day of the year – which is today – they’ve always been around for us, even if it’s not a physical presence.

Because of this, I’ve drawn some special art for the occasion:

pictoustellartonfd2018
Pictou Denoon & Stellarton Bridges-Drummond

Probably the most famous father figure in the Canadian Boys series, Stellarton is dad to Pictou, the protagonist of my first novel Once Upon a Time in Canada. Although his mother Port Hawkesbury mostly cares for him, Stellarton does have his fatherly duties for Pictou. Here, he shares a

I had drawn a version of this before, but decided to draw it digitally to add extra effects, like the starry gradient background. The stars tie in somewhat to Stellarton, as his name starts with ‘Stella’, which is Latin for star. This reflects the etymology of the name of his hometown, which was named for a kind of coal which gave off star-like sparkles when ignited.

townofstellarton
The town of Stellarton, Nova Scotia

To finish, here’s a celebratory poem by Keith Garrett:

FATHER’S DAY

Down through the years, there have been many types of fathers,

Unfortunately, some get lost with what it takes to really be a dad.

Sad as it is sons and daughters grow up without and not knowing,

Thoughts and questions are held onto that may eat at with sadness.

This father’s day let’s honor and praise the men who do stand strong,

To the ones who are new and too those who have been at it for a while.

You were there when first you saw his little face and a smile of a lifetime,

You were there when her tiny hands touched your heart forever, young father.

You were there walking her down the aisle when again her life began,

You were there when a son stood at the altar hand in hand with his bride.

Through the bumps and bruises, good times or bad, it was you strong as a rock,

To you on father’s day, the ones whom never give up, you are dad, a father.

Happy father’s day,

Keith Garrett

Stellarton Starman: Main Cast (2015) — Jan 29, 2018

Stellarton Starman: Main Cast (2015)

stellartonstarmanngnebulapictoupluto

I can have many ideas at one time. Some of them develop further, while many remain as seeds that haven’t yet germinated.

One of those ideas was Stellarton Starman. Conceived as a spacey Saturday morning cartoon in the Canadian Boys universe, it was inspired by all those stories set in outer space I loved to illustrate as a younger child, but ‘modernized’ to fit in with my current focus of art.

As with many in-universe Canadian Boys series, much of the characters are based on those which already exist within the metaverse. In this case, the main characters – as seen above – are based on Stellarton, New Glasgow (from A Nova Scotian Way of Life) and Pictou respectively, but they are given differing designs and personalities so as to not come off as copycat clones.

  • Stellarton Starman

The eponymous hero of the show, Stellarton has the energy and power of all the stars in the sky, hence his name. He fights for peace in the galaxy, usually through non-violent methods – but he does have his laser blaster if things get a little out of hand.

  • New Glasgow Nebula

The ‘villain’ of the show. Although he’s not outright evil, his vanity borders on almost self-indulgence and only being concerned about himself. His flamboyant fashions and equally ostentatious behaviours are a source of much amusement to the citizens of the galaxy, who often can’t take him seriously.

  • Pictou Pluto

Stellarton Starman’s teenage son. Just getting started as a space ranger, he often flies along with his father in his spacecraft so he can learn the basics of being a galaxy pilot. He usually spends time with his mother Port Hawkesbury Hubble as his father is usually away saving the galaxy.

As mentioned before, this idea remains just that – an idea. But the show is still within the Canadian Boys universe, where it’s regular Saturday morning viewing by the kids, and a set of action figures is even playable with.

Scotland and Nova Scotia (2015) — Nov 30, 2017

Scotland and Nova Scotia (2015)

scotlandns

St. Andrew’s Day has arrived again, so it’s a great excuse to whip out this doodle from 2015 to show off the Scottish spirit which traverses across the seas.

scotlandflaggif

novascotiaflaggif

Spurred on by the fact that Nova Scotia literally means ‘New Scotland’ in Latin, and also boasts a rich Scottish heritage and history, I wanted to draw my own version of Nova Scotia (not the Project Canada one) and his ‘father’, Scotland, together. While people from all kinds of backgrounds call the province of Nova Scotia their home, the Scottish sentiment stays strong in a select few regions of the province, especially in the northern towns of Pictou and Antigonish. The former is the landing place of 200 Scottish immigrants on the ship Hector in 1773, and the latter is home to the largest Highland Games outside of Scotland; the former is even nicknamed the Birthplace of New Scotland.

shiphectorpictouns

antigonishnswelcomesign

Happy St. Andrew’s Day!

gykostandrews

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