The Divine Comedy no.1 by Deborah Clague

Have been spending a considerable amount of my spare time colouring and animating historic illustrations. In addition to a series on London, I am also going to attempt to bring to life the intricate, hauntingly beautiful work of one of my favourite artists, Gustave Doré (1832-1883).  

The first, titled 'Beatrice Unveiled', is from Doré's renowned illustration work for Dante Alighieri's epic poem 'The Divine Comedy', a medieval tale about the descent into the afterlife. 

Canada ❤️ The Hip by Deborah Clague

I got into The Tragically Hip later in life. In my youth, I was more mesmerized by the shiny videos on Much Music over solid lyrical content or geographical relatability.   

After it was announced this past May that lead singer Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer though, I felt like I had been hit in the stomach. First off, hearing news that someone so young (52), someone seemingly still so full of zest and future achievement, should have to deal with the evil that is cancer is always troubling. Life is unfair in so many ways. 

Secondly, it was then that I realized just how deep their sound indirectly permeated into moments of my life. The guitar riffs, the lyrics, Gord's voice ... they have become part of the country's landscape. I have many memories of their catalogue of songs playing on the radio as my family drove down the highway veins of the nation on summer vacation. Like a great soundtrack to a film, the auditory experience felt seamless to the views uncovered. The Tragically Hip were the earnest sound of Canada, from coast-to-coast. 

My high school years are reignited as I recollect my best friend Rita, a huge fan who would play them whenever I visited her home. 'Trouble at the Henhouse' had just been released and I remember pausing to soak in the beautiful wordsmith of 'Ahead by a Century', my personal favourite song of theirs:  

First thing we'd climb a tree
And maybe then we'd talk
Or sit silently
And listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday casting a golden light
No dress rehearsal, this is our life

I've always loved this verse. It has since transcended that era and now, as an adult, perfectly sums up my feelings for friends and loved ones. Enjoy each other's company. Enjoy the moments, no matter how insignificant they initially feel. It all matters. I've evolved from being entertained solely by gloss and now covet the story a great song can share. 

I created the following animated GIFs as a farewell to the band as they perform their last show on Saturday, August 20.

Thank you for being undeniably (and unapologetically) Canadian.

And thank you for reflecting and recording our values and history over the years.  

Thank you. 

To donate to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research, click here.  

Animation created by Deborah Clague (2016).

Animation created by Deborah Clague (2016).

Animation created by Deborah Clague (2016).

Animation created by Deborah Clague (2016).

Animation created by Deborah Clague (2016).

Animation created by Deborah Clague (2016).

Animation created by Deborah Clague (2016). 

Animation created by Deborah Clague (2016). 

Your Occasional Monty by Deborah Clague

It would be impossible for me to love this little guy any more than I do. My wee Monty was meant to be a part of my life. He is the perfect faithful companion through thick and thin, always full of exuberant joy and wearing a contagious smile.  

Also, he kinda looks like a seal. 

Mind the Gap by Deborah Clague

Upon reviewing the revised bucket list I wrote for myself back in 2014, I feel like I've accomplished much. I've climbed a mountain. I've learned how to cook at least one dish. I'm taking French classes (still in hopeful, wistful preparation of that dream move). 

I write. I photograph. I create. I savour. I share. 

I live. 

What I contribute to the wall of noise might not always find an audience, but that is never the intention. My art, in whatever form it takes, is always primarily for me. It is a living journal of moments and memories that have shaped who I am, chronicling people and places that I never want to let time erase. 

After a year of adventure, I now contemplate where inspiration will next influence my life. 

I have a pretty good understanding and confidence of self. But after times of great reminisce, I now want to learn more of my past. Of his past. Of their past.

The Clague lineage.

London is calling. 

Book Reviews by Deborah Clague

Rogues, Rascals, and Scalawags Too
Written by Jim Christy

I bought this book because bold people fascinate me. In one tale, the author recollects upon a number of "urban fauna" he has encountered while traveling across Canada. One individual in particular stood out to me, as I swear I came across the same person in Winnipeg in the early noughts: a mature woman always dressed to the nines no matter the setting. The first time I observed her was in Portage Place mall. On that occasion, she wore bright yellow ski pants paired with a blue-and-white striped bathing suit, clearly bracing for any and all weather conditions that could arise. Her face was spackled with the thickest layer of stage make-up I had ever seen in my life; all wayward black eyeliner and ruby red lips pursed in a slight smirk as she surveyed over her subjects in the food court. Oddly, no one paid her any attention. I was mesmerized. And intrigued. 

The second time I crossed paths with this unique creature, she was exiting a public bus but could have been stepping off the pages of The Great Gatsby. She wore a black sequined evening dress, carried a feathered stole, and had one of those long cigarette holders from a time when smoking was considered glamourous. Every step she took in her heels appeared laborious. I wasn't sure if it was because she had a difficult time walking or just wanted to give her public more time to breathe her in. Eventually she made it inside the Wal-Mart. When I mentioned this person to a colleague, they informed me that she was well-known local character and that all of the older gentlemen in the seniors home she resided tried to court her. 

Be bold, be bold, and everywhere be bold. 

Favorite line: "those with mundane lives insist on questioning the validity of those whose lives are remarkable."


Listen to the Squawking Chicken
Written by Elaine Lui

I regularly read the author's gossip blog, LaineyGossip.com, as the writing is smart and focuses more on the sociological reflection Hollywood imposes rather than straight conjecture. Her first book, a memoir (sort of), discusses her relationship with her mother affectionately dubbed the "squawking chicken" because of her loud, blunt way of speaking. The book is very enjoyable, its tone witty and conversational while full of insight towards the dynamics of mother-daughter relationships and Eastern philosophy. 

Favourite line: "This force of a woman, with the most indomitable spirit I have ever known, a phoenix seemingly undefeatable, didn't want me to be like her at all."


How Paris Became Paris
Written by Joan DeJean

Before I begin this review, I must state that I have bias. My career path is in the design field and Paris is one of the great loves of my life. This book explores, in depth, the role that brilliant, innovative civil engineering coupled with a determination to be the very best has resulted in the city earning (and deserving of) the reputation as the greatest in the world. Joan DeJean is a master with verse, complementing historical overview with engaging asides. 

I could not put this book down. I now want to track down the author's other works. Highly recommended. 

Favourite line: "Technology and urban planning had thus created the notion of a cityscape, an urban landscape, a magnificent scene made by man rather than nature. Paris had no longer just an isolated monument or two worthy of contemplation ... When viewed from the [Pont Neuf} bridge, the Seine became a beautiful sight, and the complete urban footprint, the landscape of Paris, became a masterpiece."

Dubai Part X by Deborah Clague

I wish I would have had more to write about regarding my holiday in Dubai but ... I've been struggling. Despite its showiness – despite its commitment to extreme opulence, grandeur and the biggest/tallest everything – I found the city lacking in practicality, culture and, ultimately, heart. 

I felt like I traveled half way around the world to visit things I could see in my backyard. Mind you, they were bigger, taller, SHINIER things than what are in my background, but still. I didn't depart with a positive lasting impression. I have no yearning to return. 

At the end of the day, it ranks near the bottom of the list when it comes to my favorite destinations. 

Maybe I'm just bitter I didn't get to drive a shiny, metallic green Ferrari. 


I spent my final days away from the towering, glittering skyscrapers of which the city wants to be known and instead strolled through the traditional markets of Deira, repeatedly riding the abra and feasting at the Arabian Tea House Café, my favorite restaurant in Dubai. It was a relaxing time spent wandering about at my leisure, observing and participating in the theatre of the streets of the Old City. 

At one of the market stalls, I was drawn in by a beautiful teal embroidered robe. I paused to admire it and ended up with an invitation by the owner to share chai and traditional sweets. I accepted the offer, fully aware it was a ploy to get me to buy but also an opportunity for me to gain insight on real life in the U.A.E. In between haggling on price, we talked. 

I learned that the owner moved to Dubai from northern India after graduating with a degree in Business. The market stall he operated was a venture he planned to operate for just a few years, earning enough profit to help his family with back home. He was eager to return to India though. The original allure of the big city had dissipated. Dubai was expensive. The promise of riches it teased with was not as forthcoming as originally believed. The hustle-and-bustle was not for him; nor was the fact that, despite contributing to the economy and development of the nation, he would forever be an outsider there. I told him of my experiences over the previous two weeks and, after listening intently, he welcomed me to visit his home province one day to be shown real hospitality.

After an hour in the shop, I eventually got the robe, and a second one, along with a beautiful cashmere scarf for the price I was seeking. 

Dubai Creek (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Dubai Creek (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Dubai Creek (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Dubai Creek (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Iranian Mosque, Bur Dubai (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Iranian Mosque, Bur Dubai (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Detail of Iranian Mosque, Bur Dubai (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Detail of Iranian Mosque, Bur Dubai (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Burj Khalifa, Dubai (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Burj Khalifa, Dubai (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Burj Khalifa, Dubai (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Burj Khalifa, Dubai (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Burj Khalifa, Dubai (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Burj Khalifa, Dubai (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Tim Hortons in Dubai Mall (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Tim Hortons in Dubai Mall (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Old Souq, Bur Dubai (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Old Souq, Bur Dubai (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Owner of shop I had tea with (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Owner of shop I had tea with (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Arabic chicken dinner at the Arabian Tea House (©Deborah Clague, 2016) 

Arabic chicken dinner at the Arabian Tea House (©Deborah Clague, 2016) 

Stray cat in Deira (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Stray cat in Deira (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

Billboards of Emirati leaders line the streets and highways (©Deborah Clague, 2016) 

Billboards of Emirati leaders line the streets and highways (©Deborah Clague, 2016) 

I couldn't escape camels. This smoking lounge was at my layover in Frankfurt Airport (©Deborah Clague, 2016)

I couldn't escape camels. This smoking lounge was at my layover in Frankfurt Airport (©Deborah Clague, 2016)