Planet Nilknarf

November, 2008

A message from the Editor:

Welcome to Planet Nilknarf, my first on-line newsletter. I hope you will have as much fun reading this publication as I have putting it together. Welcome to the place where I share my hopes and dreams, creative ideas, places I've been, things I've seen, random thoughts and musings, not to mention upcoming events. A few short facts about yours truly...I am an artist with Asperger's Syndrome and bipolar. But I am not my illness. In fact I don't even think of Asperger's Syndrome as an illness. Rather, it is a different way of seeing things and part of what makes me what I am. When I first found out about having it, about a week before my 40th birthday, I knew that I wanted to learn everything I possibly could about it so that I could help others who were in my situation. At last, a logical explanation for why things happened in my life the way that they did. I wanted to write a book! I wanted to start a support group! I wanted to go to schools and talk to teachers and students about how to better relate to us and our needs and issues. So far I've done two of those things. Back in November of 2004, I spoke to a teachers' meeting at C.R Marchant Middle School in Etobicoke and last year at around this time, I facilitated a support group at Kerry's Place autism Services for about eight weeks before Christmas. I have been writing a book, too, but it hasn't been published yet. As far as I know, the completed manuscript is still on the computer at Kerry's Place. That is, if they haven't deleted it or put it onto another disc. In the meantime, I enjoy my job, Mondays through Thursdays at New Horizons, doing the Coffee Cart in our office building where I sell coffee, tea, hot chocolate and various baked goods, free smiles included. I also enjoy my Saturdays at the hospital as a Peer Support worker where my friend Scott and I host Cards and Coffee for patients in the psychiatric ward who can't go home on the weekends. But best of all, I have my own little business making and selling my crafts! I make dolls, puppets, various stuffed animals, hand-embroidered T-shirts and carousel horse Christmas tree ornaments. I recently did a sale at the Geneva Autism Symposium in Toronto where I sold a variety of products including a set of emotional puppets,three “licorice allsorts” T-shirts and one with my “Ewetopia” sheep, four teddy bears, two donkeys and one doll. But the things that sold more than anything else this year were my carousel horse ornaments. This year I sold ELEVEN of those. In the meantime I've got a gray “Ewetopia” T-shirt on the go for a customer and the latest panel for a mural that I am creating for my aunt's sister to put together in her front hallway.

I have been making dolls for a number of years, first as an assistant for a small business where I worked in a toy store, but more recently on my own. I've also started recently creating “Autism Awareness” teddy bears with various symbols on their chests.

I've been living in Oshawa for over six years now, as long as I've been married to my wonderful husband, Dave. I love to tell the story about how the two of us met. There used to be this TV show in Toronto called “Speakers Corner” where you could go into a booth, pay a loony (Canadian dollar coin, to those of you outside the Great White North)and talk about whatever you wanted for three minutes. Well, I had just finished recording my CD so I went on “Speakers' Corner” in full attire, complete with my blue KIDEO wig and modified KISS makeup, and promoted my CD, compete with the address of my post office box at the time. I watched the show the following week and saw this guy who said he wished that “Speaker's Corner” could be an hour long instead of just half an hour. Spoken like a true kindred spirit, I thought! Little did I know that within the next week to follow he would be one of only two people to respond to my ad and order a copy of my CD! For several moths to follow, we corresponded on a regular basis, talking to each other and sharing favorite songs on cassette tapes. Finally, in October of 2001, we went on our first date, a Mandy Patinken concert at the Hummingbird Centre, and from that evening on we knew we were meant to be together.

We were married on July 13th of 2002!

2008 National Carousel Association Annual Convention One of my absolute all-time favorite things is carousels! And whenever I can afford it I enjoy going to the National Carousel Association's annual conventions wherever they may be. A couple months ago, I had the enjoyment and excitement of joining the NCA for this year's convention in Memphis, Tennessee. I joined the two optional tours; a rare stationary 2-row Dentzel in Meridian, Mississippi (also the home town of Steve Forbert, BTW) and the recently built Carousel Works “Endangered Species” carousel at the Memphis zoo.

Above: (left) Dentzel stander, Meridian, Mississippi, (right) me on the zebra at the Memphis zoo!

Our next destination was the beautiful 4-row Dentzel at Libertyland.

We also visited the St. Louis zoo and Faust Park, as well as Perryville, Greenville and Little Rock.

Above: (Left) a caterpillar on the big 4-row Carousel Works machine at the St. Louis zoo. (Right) a variety of horses on the 4-row Dentzel at Faust park! Below: (Left) Pink Ponies in Perryville, (Right) Greenville.

Perhaps my favorite carousel was the Over-the Jumps ride at the War memorial Park zoo in Little Rock Arkansas! Only four of its kind were ever built and this is the only one remaining. Its unique, undulating caterpillar track makes for one of the most exciting rides I've ever experienced!

You can read a more detailed report of my trip here: and you can see tons of pictures in my Facebook albums.

The Traveling Dolls Project
The Traveling Dolls project was something I started in the summer of 2006. Originally seven of my dolls were given or sent to friends, some in different parts of the world, to be photographed in various different places. Some have disappeared, but some have been photographed in interesting places since being mailed to their new destinations. I have my own doll whom I take places with me. Here are some pictures of some of my dolls and the places they've been.

Above: (Left): Trevor at the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows, New York, (Right:) Eric between Lisa and her son, Evan on the all-insect carousel at the Bronx zoo. Below: (Left) Janette, Margaret, Mahandra, Lily and Ace at the C.N Tower. (Right) Janette and Margaret on a miniature horse at the CNE.

More pictures of my Traveling dolls can be seen in my Facebook album and group, not to mention that my own doll had some pretty interesting adventures of her own when I took her with me to the convention in Memphis.

I'd like to introduce you to Olive, Gladys and Edna, the stars of my comic book series, “Ewetopia”.

Gladys and Edna made their debut on a birthday greeting in April of 2005 (“Hippo Birdies, Two Ewes”) and started popping up everywhere in my LiveJournal ever since. They were eventually joined by Olive in August of that year and only days later by their soul mates, Pat, Mike and Lester. Their rowdy behaviour actually got me kicked out of LiveJournal but since then they've toned down their act and found a new home on Facebook and regular appearances in the “Living With Autism” newsletter. Like me, all three of them have Asperger's Syndrome, and like other Aspies, it manifests itself in different ways for each one. The sensory issues and other quirks such as taking things literally, makes for some interesting humour sometimes, often resulting in us feeling pretty sheepish! (That was BAAAAAD!) I hope you will enjoy their adventures!

That concludes the November issue of Planet Nilknarf. I hope you have enjoyed our time together until next time!



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