Shout Out

Hey, I grew up in a small town! yes!

So, this weeks illustration for the newspaper
was "draw something for an article about small towns."
I thought that an image for a "Manitoban small town" should convey something about how if you exit the transcanada anywhere outside of Winnipeg you are almost sure to hit some nice little small town.

I don't know small town life as intimately in this province as I do in my own (except I have gotten pretty familiar with the White Shell area)
So I hope the sketch is iconic enough for everyones reference point of "some turn-off" on "some Canadian highway" to "some small town"...maybe even yours?


My buddy

This is an old one- maybe I even posted it a long time ago? Whatever. I am re-posting it today.
Today I am thinking of my old Buddy, a husband of one of the residents I looked after. He was my good buddy and his nickname was also "Bud" or "Buddy" which made things pretty easy for me (considering it is hard to keep a names for a bunch of ever-changing residents and all of their extended family members straight in my head.)
I see my Buddy and say "Hi Buddy" and there you go.

So, I was not your typical "nursing home worker." For one thing I wore converse sneakers and wierd glasses which really seemed to bother my coworkers.
For another thing, I got too attached.
I think I am too sensitive generally. I play it tough and I don't think people realize how much I carry things with me. I have a hard time letting go of sad things too. (So, yeah, great job choice Devon! go and work in a long-term care home! geesh.)
My manager literally warned me to not get close to anyone, especially family members.

Which seems to me like asking someone who works in this field to go swimming and not get wet.

Bud was one of those people who I seriously clicked with and I adored his wife. When she got really sick and went to the hospital, I went to say goodbye. I spoon fed her because she wouldn't eat for anyone else. I held her oxygen mask for 40 minutes because she couldn't tolerate the elastic.
Leaving the hospital that day I told myself that going to visit residents outside the nursing home was probably too much for my little heart to handle.

Can you believe that she made a recovery and was back with us after a few weeks?

Then I lost Bud the next week after that.

So here you go Buddy, I was thinking of you today. We had some good times and great conversations. I am glad that I got to know you and that we were close.
Being close to people, really listening, and yes, getting attached is important to me.

I would argue that in a nursing home it is the most important thing.


crow funeral

i witnessed a very haunting (and magical) thing the other day.

so, i was walking home along morley and heard this very loud commotion. when i looked up there was a large group of crows making a closely gathered ring in the trees above. there was a deafening combination of sad mournful sounds and piercing cries while the birds fidgeted in the branches of the trees above the street.
then i looked directly down below the circle i saw a dead crow that had very recently been hit by a car.

i literally froze in my tracks and took in the moment. it was beautiful in a strange way.

then the other day around remembrance day, curtis, rowan and i walked the same route and we noticed the crow had been moved to the side of the street.

someone had placed a little poppy beside it.



Not to toot my own horn, but I LOVE how this one worked out.
I can't say much more about it...but I hope it makes somebody smile.


Reality Check

I sure hope I don't offend anyone out there- but i made a promise to myself that I would draw/tell the WHOLE story of my experiences working in a nursing home.
Let me say that it is not all sentimental and charming stories of knitting grannies and reminiscing grandpas!
As I prepare to post this comic I got thinking about how our preconceptions of the elderly limit how we really see them.
I recognized this in myself one day when i patiently listened to a gentleman preach to me about his religion...I would typically have been offended by this forward evangelical approach in a peer or a younger person and yet I was SO respectful of his years that I quietly nodded and smiled the whole time.
Isn't that strange?
I mean, it goes the other way too, how many people have you witnessed not being willing or respectful enough to REALLY listen to an older persons point of view. And I gotta say- not many people seem very comfortable acknowledging the sex drive + libido topic.
Hey if you got it- celebrate it! And if you got Alzheimer's you may happily lose some inhibitions and say how you REALLY feel. Like our pal "Deedee" here.



My latest assignment: Draw an addicted looking person on their knees beside a man in a suit holding cigarettes in one hand and money in the other.
Pretty specific eh?
It's for an article for the Manitoban this week that talks about tobacco companies making profits despite economic conditions.

it's an illustration, but i think it still looks like my style...well i hope so anyways.


Bingo Hour

I re-drew this comic I had done over a year ago and finessed it a bit to submit to the Manitoban for next week.
I was totally smiling the whole time.
Man, I had forgotten the feeling of being "the caller" during the Bingo hour twice a week!!

You might know this already but people get really crazy during a game of bingo. There is a whole culture of superstitious behaviour: tiny trolls, certain coloured bingo boards, lucky tiddly-wink styled chips of a certain colour. I love the whole scene, the ceremony of it all.
There was this one lady, Mary, who had a rhyme for EVERY number I called. For example, B8: Set them straight, B5: I feel alive! I got so distracted listening to all her amazing rhymes one game that I got complaints for calling too slow. That is the other thing: people get temperamental about the pace of the game. They like a few quick "one line any way" games to warm up and then they want to get down to business with the classic "X" or "Black-Out"...But oh my goodness, if you call TOO FAST you get a whole lot of complaining too.

It takes a lot of practice to call a game of Bingo in a nursing home: There are a lot of things to be aware of outside of the regular game...make sure you seat people very strategically, learn how to patiently repeat the same stuff many times in a non-irritated voice and keep that bucket of chocolate eggs visible: the folks like to keep an eye on the prize!

Also, you will have to get up and redirect Mildred (very large lady in her wheelchair) several times during the hour because she comes in yelling it's NOT her birthday and all hell breaks loose.


Wear a Face

Things are underway for a very exciting collaboration between tijit (the devon half) and designer extraordinaire: "Tony Chestnut" (the fabulous and talented Jill)

She is a one-woman show from start to finish, check out her website and her latest creations here:


So, when Jill approached me about silkscreening my hand-inked drawings on to Tony Chestnut scarves I very promptly said yes! Our plan is to print these very large faces on to beautifully dyed and sewn raw silk scarves. I am pretty sure they are going to be AWESOME.

Jill will be selling them at a craft show in Winnipeg near the end of November...but for you hip folks with cold necks that don't live in Winnipeg, I will give you more details on how you can get one of your own in a few weeks.

In other news, I am busy drawing a new story for tomorrow. (Wow, a blog entry, some printed things AND a comic in one day?!)

Always thankful for the days that my one-year old has epic naps.


Mozy Rue

You can now buy our hand-printed "tijit" designs at the sweetest little eco collective at the end of my street!

We are so excited to be a part of this wonderful boutique: it's beautiful, features local designers, has many handmade things made from preloved objects and tons of eye candy to drool over.

Everyone can find one special thing to go home with at Mozy Rue. Pop in and say hi on your way along Osborne Street!

And by the way, check out the nice shout-out I found on their blog this week:



Bitter Sweet

Whenever I sit down to draw one of these old friends, or tell their story there is not one emotion I can definitely commit to. I am happy to have known them, sad they are gone, disappointed in the living situation they had to endure while struggling with Alzheimers...and then the whole meditative act of drawing and writing as I remember is somehow life affirming.
All these things at once.
I think aging, for some folks, tends to bring their personalities and life-expereinces in to sharper focus...what does your mind hold on to as the other stuff slips away? Your love, your children ...the place where you grew up? Thinking about aging makes me hyper-aware of the life I am living right now- I will be reminiscing about it one day too.
A four panel doesn't tell it all but I sure try to cram in as much of it as possible.


The man, the mystery.

I am hoping to submit this drawing today to the Dave Barber Birthday Party (Art Auction) Bash to raise money for the Cinematheque in Winnipeg. It's rainy and windy and i am planning on carrying my one year old wearing his halloween costume on one hip with this drawing tucked safely under the other arm.
whew! The things we do in the name of art.
If you don't know who Dave Barber is, he is a fine gentleman who works for the Cinematheque. He is a wonderful dude to have involved with the arts community in this city.
Hey, If you are planning on going to the party you should throw some money down for this drawing...it's for a good cause!


In Print!

So, my old folks comics are going to be featured weekly (on the Diversions Page) in The Manitoban newspaper here in Winnipeg. It was pretty cool to see Lloyd printed on newsprint in all his glory this week.
And, the amazing cover for this weeks edition is a painting by my good pal, and very talented artist: s. arden hill!


that was a fast year

So this week I have been focusing my art-making on decorations and invites for Rowan's First Birthday party...I did not draw this particular image (haven't had the chance to scan lately) But I wanted to share it anyways. Birthday appropriate wouldn't you say?

And if I could just brag for a second: I folded some beautiful origami paper and then sewed pieces to a ribbon to create two very charming banners. Can't wait to see them hanging from the house and tree outside. No rain please!


End of the Summer

Hey Folks,

Nearing the end of a blissful summer vacation with the only deficit being in drawing and posting! Looking towards September to get back in the swing of it. I have decided to stay home with Baby Rowan this year so hopefully the drawing will be plentiful...and so many story ideas still percolating too...Please don't forget to comment on drawings and pass the word along if you like the blog! (Shameless i know- but it keeps me going, xo.)


L'il observation

Curtis here (the delinquent half of Tijit). Just wanted to point out that ever since Devon posted the blog titled "T'is but a flesh wound", our google ads are all about cuts and bruises and scars. Gross. Of course, posting this is only going to make matters worse.


Little Books

Hey Everybody!

I am excited to announce that some little books i have been working on will be available to see (and buy) at the upcoming show at Freud's Bathhouse and Diner. (42 Albert Street in Winnipeg)
One book is called: "Getting to know some folks." This book is hand-printed, folded and sewn together with my moms sewing machine.
There are five copies of this one, available for three dollars each.

The other little book is called: "Puree time" and it features ink drawings photocopied onto acetate plastic. The pages are sewn together inside a paper cover with a divider so you can look at them individually or piled on top of each other. I made one only. also just three bucks.

So please check it out friends!! Here is a link to the gallery:


And here is a link to the actual show:



The Kwina Sheba

Old Folks in nursing homes have a few perks. One major one is getting visits from the St. Johns Ambulance Therapy Dog.
Ours was Kwina.
She is no longer with us but everyone has fond memories of her spirited nature, her kind eyes, her super soft ears and her lovely owner Margaret. Would you believe Margaret and Kwina came once a week rain or shine for most of Kwina's life? And they visited all 6 wings in the whole place. Every visit.



Hey, Hey. A rainy day over here in Winnipeg. I dug this sketch out to share with you all. Hope you enjoy!


The Weather Report

There was somehow nothing more comforting than hearing the monotone voice of Birdy reading the weather report off of the TV while I was walking down wing six in the afternoon.

There is also this whole thing in the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's" where Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) has to recite the "weather report" to this mobster Sally Tomato, while he is in jail. The "weather report" itself was actually code for mob-related messages and activities.
So, Can't you just picture it? Birdy sitting in her room all day with a tiny wire reading the "weather report" to the mobsters on the outside?


'Tis but a flesh wound.

I drew this one a few days ago- I used these great "Grey-Scale" brush tipped markers that my friend Travis gave me. I like the effect of a few tones of grey.

So, I hope the skin thing doesn't upset anyone (Curtis loved the drawing but was disturbed by the open sore.)
Some elderly folks have trouble with their skin healing.
My grandmother Enna had an open sore on her leg for over two years. I know Victor was a little embarrassed of his sore, he wore this old cap over it most days- even at the dinner table. I had already known him for almost a month before i even saw it and this is exactly what he said when i noticed it: "Darn thing just won't heal."


Making Friends with Alzheimers

I couldn't find my favorite brush tip marker the other day so I did this quick sketch with a black felt pen.

I have many stories about these two gents. I am hoping to work out some more stories on this topic soon.

I still remember the day that i met the REAL Val (not realizing that he was Bill's old buddy before Lloyd came along and effectively replaced him) I was so shocked at how non-responsive Val was and yet you could see the anger bubbling beneath the surface as he was spoon-fed his puree dinner. Sometimes he would spit out mouthfuls or dig his hands in the bowl and push the whole mess on the floor. Apparently he was not a very nice friend to Bill either and he was constantly bossing him around.
So, don't you think it's a nice turn of events that Bill now has Lloyd instead? Most days you can spot the two of them hand in hand walking around and around the dining-room.


Buried Treasure!

My gardening friend particularly loves this story I tell about potato harvesting at the nursing home. I have been meaning to draw it for a long time and finally got around to it this week.
Once I started writing and drawing I realized this could have been a way longer story; I could tell by how many words i tried to cram in to the frames!
I think I have a lot more to say about gardening with the elderly so I hope for more comics to follow on this theme.

In the meantime I think this one says what I want it to say about potatoes.

Hey there, can i trouble you for a cookie?

Many fond memories of this lovely gentleman we shall call William. Man did the guy love to sing hymns at the top of his voice on a sunday morning. hymns and sunday mornings are not especially my thing... but how can you resist the sheer joy on williams face when you hand him a choir book and start the cassette tape going with hymn number one: Rock of Ages. whew. it still brings a tear to my eye.
oh man.
and his voice.
big and booming sugary gravel baritone with a lisp.



I drew this one the same day that I drew Mildred- that's why the lines are nice and inky...


The Boards

Today I am reminiscing and drawing up some more stories but in the meantime I found a scan i hadn't yet posted.

So here is the concept behind this one:
When I first started my job at the nursing home I have to admit I was disappointed in the (lack of) variety of the activities offered each day and consequently each week. The monthly calendars in nursing homes reflect this repetition. Each week is exactly the same, the only exception being nightly performances or special events.
But as I grew into the job I realized how comforting it is for the residents to be able to rely on the same stuff during the week.


Wet Basement

The computer is upstairs away from our wet basement (that got a big puddle due to epic thunderstorms in winnipeg for the past few days.)
So, that means that I am away from the scanner too.

What a great excuse to force myself to draw some new drawings.
And then sit and wonder: Does anyone even look at this thing?


Whistle while you work

One thing I noticed about aging is that it sometimes pulls certain personality traits to the forefront...Maybe someone exhibits two contradictory traits that interchange often.
The person becomes almost a hyper-real version of one aspect of themselves as some of their other characteristics fade away.

...and then you add a touch of dementia and there you have it:
This guy, Monty.


oh no!

Sometimes, people in long-term care homes might not be old. They might have MS or they might have had frontal lobe damage or a stroke or something. Anyways, what you will certainly notice is, that despite being a bit younger, these people still need to be treated with the same patience as someone with alzheimers or dementia.



My very first comic was for Christina. Shortly after she passed away I found myself sketching out this story.
One thing I learned about her is that she used to own a hat shop and that the customers called her "tiny." My favorite thing about her is that she would always answer with "yup" no matter what you said. I think she was in her late 90's. What a gal.


A Good Brush

My mom gave me these great brushes for xmas: it's fun to see what happens when you sit down with some india ink you let your brush do it's thing.
I have to say that I do love the simplicity of the straight ahead ink on paper.

By the way:
In the interest of nursing home confidentiality...Mildred is, as many of my comics/portraits are , not entirely herself. If I feel compelled to focus on the traits of one person I try to use only the first name or a nick-name, or I might just swap names around. So yeah, Mildred is real and her fun facts are factual, but her real name only starts with M.


The Slippers of Pat

I have been reminiscing lately about the actual work week at the nursing home. It is a challenging enough day to just get everyone in to one room for an hour to play a trivia game...hilarity ensues when you have to get 8 residents dressed for the weather, through a door that only opens with a code (that is on one-minute timer) while a bus idles outside. You have to watch out for the Residents that aren't going on the outing too because they try to make a break for it when the door opens...

Perhaps it goes without saying that the residents that agreed to attend when you visited them yesterday don't know who you are anymore.

But don't worry, once everyone is on the bus you can sing "bicycle built for two" and everyone...i mean everyone (except for June, who has the bumpiest seat and says JESUS CHRIST! over every pot-hole the entire ride) is happy.


Kind of a Downer

Not a hilarious comic I know, but a reality to be represented about life in a nursing home. The sincerity of belief when you have alzheimers is perhaps what broke my heart the most. The best you can do in these situations is to not discredit somebodies worries but to give logical explanations that might help ease their mind. My buddy Dorothy had some bad days but I like to think that we sorted them out alright.


The Four Panel Story

I find the idea of the detailed and labeled portrait very satisfying to introducing characters (see the one of Bill Smag in my previous post)
... and I could literally doodle portraits all day long. (This is usually the way i "warm up" if I haven't drawn for awhile because it is so fun)
One thing I realized though, is that it's challenging to really cram all the depth and context of a character in to just one drawing.
So, I started experimenting with a short four-panel story. The layout helps provide a little more information that hopefully helps round out the person a bit more for you.
This series of drawings about Lloyd was one of my first attempts.
I like the structure of the four panel story as it forces you to be succinct. (I should also mention that I am a big huge fan of Lynda Barry and some of my favorite comics of hers follow this style.)
Oh yeah, by the way...i had to scan these drawings in one on top of the other but I would rather see them left to right if they were in a book.


Ok Friends,
Hi, it's me, Devon.
This is my first of what I hope to be many, many more blog posts.
Baby Rowan is starting to sleep at more regular (and slightly longer) intervals throughout the day and I think I am ready to return to the graphic novel that I have been working on since 2008. It is coming together in little bits and pieces, sketches, ideas, jot-notes, scribbles and doodles. I can see it forming a more cohesive whole as I get more and more stories articulated and inked in.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Let me first introduce you to my concept and then I will publish some more examples.
So, I used to work in a nursing home....a fascinating environment that i had never witnessed before I started working there as a recreation facilitator. Yup, I was that girl who called bingo, took residents on outings in a big wheelchair bus and even spoon-fed pureed hotdog at lunchtime.
Out of sheer emotional necessity, especially after some dearly loved residents that I was working with passed away, I started drawing some portraits and short 2-4 panel stories in honour of these wonderful characters.
I needed to remember them.
After a few drawings I figured that I was on to something bigger. I needed to categorize and round out the context for these tidbits. I am in the process of that now.
I feel like this blog might help coax my process along, I figure any encouragement will help. So Bill (that guy right there) has the honour of breaking the seal and getting the ball rolling. If you knew him you would know this is how he would like it.