Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah

Yoga is stilling the fluctuations of the mind”

This, borrowed directly from a beautiful relation’s blog post this morning.

Several events unfolded yesterday that were totally out of my control.  These events did NOT happen to me, but happened to two of my children.  As every mother knows, when things spin out of control for a child, it is a natural outcome to want to swoop in and save them from the experience and the outcome.  Even at not intervening yesterday, I was thrown into a ‘spazz’, as Alyssa writes.  I haven’t learned in life to ‘still the fluctuations of my mind’…but as I read these bits this morning, I certainly can see the value in doing so.

So, thank you for the words and as this morning feels full of calm, it is easier for me to look back over yesterday, with a clear perspective.  I am thankful for conversations with Adrienne and with Karen.  I am grateful for the engaged presence of Shawn.  I am thankful for a full night of sleep.  It is a celebration that I rolled over and looked at my clock lit up in the darkness of morning, to discover that indeed, I had slept until 6:30, instead of a week-long frustration of 2:00 am wake ups.  I apologize that I went a little off grid yesterday and was a grumpy-pants with some of the peeps in my life.  Today is a new day.  And I hope that when, next time, there are circumstances beyond our/my control, that I will climb up onto that strong branch and look down upon the situation, with a degree of separation.

The Bald Eagles have left their typical routines at the edge of the Bow River and both juveniles are absent.  It is very quiet as autumn approaches.  Here are the last photographs of Mr. who after a summer of raising two juveniles on his own, is remarkable and held, by me, in high regard. Here are the last photographs of the juvenile that really resisted leaving his home, the nest and its territory.

Mornings are darker and the sun fades earlier.  I am experiencing some loss of the rich sights and sounds of summer.  With the full moon, I feel that I am entering the next season and I am assured that it, also, will be beautiful.

I’ve received some recent e mails from my friend that fill me to the brim with the love of nature.  It is interesting and I do contend that one needn’t go very far in order to enter into the mysteries of the natural world.  And so, I share these words, without permission to illustrate that point.  (sorry, friend)

One day. “You would have liked the view from my kitchen window. As I unloaded my groceries I thought of you.  Blue jays came calling.  Flying among the shrubs and trees.  Perhaps finishing off the few apples, raspberries and saskatoons that are still on the branches.  If i took pictures there could have been some good ones.”

Another. “So, I cleaned bathrooms, quick vacuum, suppers ready and now im going to watch tennis.  But this morning there were lots of robins.  Don’t they leave, shouldn’t they be gone.  And a couple of flickers eating ants in my lawn, good thing, but they do stir up the roots, not so good.”

And finally. “Went out to my gardens today with the intentions of moving some lilies around.  My tiger lilies in front are too tall and some Asiatic in the back get hidden.  Planted them with good planning at the time, i thought, but the ways of gardening you need to change things.  However, the ground was a bit too wet.  Did pick mushrooms, again, in my lawn.  Heard Mr. Hole the other day say mushrooms in the lawn are a good thing!

Deadheaded a few perennials and cut down most of my delphiniums as the leaves have now turned brown.

Lots of perennials still in bloom, fall asters beginning to blossom.   Sending a couple of pics.  My primula is back in bloom again.  It is one crazy plant, blooms for about 3 months in spring, rests for a couple and then starts again.  None of my other primulas do this.  So, don’t know if its location or variety and of course haven’t the tag anymore.  Even with the summer blooms gone there is still so many shades of green to enjoy.

And, wished you were here to identify a bird that was out the whole time with me.  Googled and think it was a downy woodpecker.  Cant say I’ve ever seen one in my yard like that before.  White breast, black and white feathers and no everyone is was not a magpie.  Rat a tat tat on my bamboo stakes the whole time.  Bamboo is strong, I would have thought its beak would get sore.

Still lots of robins and blue jays in the gardens.  And everyday a lone flicker comes to eat the ants.  Wonder if it is the same one and why doesn’t it tell its friends to come feast at my place.  So, I have put up with ants and aphids in hopes that the birds can live without my use of pesticides.”

I feel blessed with the beauty of these descriptions of ordinary moments, that truly ARE extraordinary!  Thank you, friend, for taking me to the peaceful sanctuary of your garden through words.

Now, I’m posting just a couple of your photographs, without permission.  Get back to me if you wish me to remove any/all of your creative material.  I’m celebrating your connection with nature and the beauty of your garden this morning.

Photo Credit PT

Photo Credit: PT

Today, I’m going to try to be more mindful.  I’m going to demonstrate calm.  I hope that I can be here, in a healthy capacity, for those who need me.

Outline by Rachel Cusk

Recently, I’ve found myself in the enviable position of reading during the day, instead of just before bed.  Reading nicely places another narrative in my head and I no longer ruminate about absolutely everything that’s happening in my own life, right before bed.  Naturally a worrier, my own life used to keep me up at night.

One of the books I read last month was one of a trilogy by Rachel Cusk, Outline.  I’m presently reading the second, Transit.

The structure and approach to Cusk’s writing in Outline is fascinating.  I hesitate to recommend this book, however, given that it is such an interesting read.  My friends don’t necessarily like my take on ‘interesting’ reads.  I missed the book discussion on this one.  It was held at the Fish Creek Library.  I did, however, drop my notes off to the desk one day, hoping that my group would get my take on the read.  In the end, I learned that the notes didn’t get passed on to them.  But, I wasn’t surprised to learn that no one in my circle enjoyed the book.  I wasn’t surprised with that news.

A female writer boards a plane headed for Greece.  She will be conducting writing workshops shortly upon her arrival and also taking in a bit of sun.  What happens on the flight is that she meets that person sitting next to her…he’s like every other person you stand next to in line or the one who sits across from you in class.  He is the person who sits alone at a table in the restaurant where you are reading your book and eating a salad at the same time.  These people in our lives are like ‘outlines’…we have no context with them…but, what Rachel Cusk does is she creates their stories, generously building their motivations, passions and needs…their vulnerabilities and strengths.  The reader is witness to the building of each character.  It’s remarkable.

I am fascinated with the exercises that the protagonist creates for her classes and with the participants’ reactions/responses.  I suggest, strongly, that you give this book a chance.

A couple of moments particularly delighted me.  I am captivated when one of the writer’s students walks under an open window and hears a familiar piece of music…oh my…so wonderfully- described and so rich in meaning! (page 138).  In truth, from beginning to end the syntax and the description is refreshing and new.

Cusk’s writing is thought-provoking.

On page 245…

“She had sat there, she said, and thought about her own lifelong habit of explaining herself, and she thought about this power of silence, which put people out of one another’s reach.  Lately, since the incident – now that things had got harder to explain, and the explanations were harsher and bleaker – even her closest friends had started to tell her to stop talking about it, as though by talking about it she made it continue to exist.  Yet if people were silent about the things that had happened to them, was something not being betrayed, even if only the version of themselves that had experienced them?  It was never said of history, for instance, that it shouldn’t be talked about; on the contrary, in terms of history silence was forgetting, and it was the thing people feared most of all, when it was their own history that was at risk of being forgotten.  And history, really, was invisible, though its monuments still stood.  The making of the monuments was half of it, but the rest was interpretation.”

In Rachel’s writing, her characters speak…they talk about themselves and we know them like we can not know other characters in other writers’ books.

I see parallels between Outline and my repetitive painting of a single bush at the edge of a pond.  It is the atmosphere, surroundings, weather/season, even the time of day that fleshes out what the bush is.  In part, this is why I responded to this book as I did.  The character (writer) surfaces out of the development of everything around her.

By Chance Alone by Max Eisen

Last week, I read Canada Reads 2019 winner, By Chance Alone by Max Eisen.

While books about this time of our history are very sad and very dark, it is so important, as a part of our education, that we continue to share these narratives.  This book is particularly well-written, so steeped in an authentic voice, that it is rich and heart-breaking.

Given that I believe that the human spirit is rooted in love and compassion, I am reminded when I read such historical memoirs as this one, just how horrible and brutal human beings can be. There is an innate spirit of hatred that has surfaced throughout our human story.  If a person focuses too much upon this, it can be very traumatizing.  So many atrocities in the name of power, greed and difference.

I strongly recommend this book.  It has been Max Eisen’s life work to bring his family’s story to light.  It is historical and contributes to the documentation of the experience of this time.

The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”

This was a truly remarkable book.

St. John Fine Arts School Late 1980s

School reunions make me feel a tad anxious.  I’ve attended my own ten year high school reunion, as well as my 20th, but because I was a student who viewed herself always on ‘the fringe’ and not one who fell into the ‘popular’ category, I felt hesitant and unsure.

The best part of my ten year class reunion was sitting in the hotel hot tub with former ‘speechie’ and friend, Jeff Marshall, and talking and laughing an entire evening away.

Meeting up with people I’ve not seen for a number of years and people I never knew to begin with, can make me squirm.

Yesterday’s event was a little different.  This one had nothing to do with my life as a student and more to do with a group of students gathering to celebrate their friendship of almost 30 years.

It was lovely that former students of St. John Fine Arts School put their heads together and arranged for a reunion.  While the group that decided to attend did not represent all of my students over those years, it was a fun mix.

Before I headed out to the event, I dug through my memorabilia, but came up short as, somewhere along the line, I finally let go of some student art work and writing that had traveled with me for so many years.  I DID find some bits here and there and headed out to Gwen’s place in Chestermere, the only teacher from those years, to attend.

Most wonderful was being greeted at the door by Amanda.  Amanda, it turns out, was also one of my students, daughter to Camille, who I taught at St. John’s.  What a beautiful experience.

Thanks to Gwen and her partner, Dave, for hosting!  And thank you to all who contributed such lovely items to the pot luck.  And finally, thank you for the generous welcome and inclusion.  It was a very fun event.  I DID miss a lot of the beautiful people who were a part of my life 30 years ago in the school…colleagues who really inspired me, students who taught me to have compassion and understanding and to value creativity and even parent volunteers who were so helpful and so much a part of every classroom.  From those years, I have lost friends, Dorothy MacInnis and Pat Campbell.

A blitz of images here…past and present.

Dear World: An End of Year Performance at the University Theater

Kite Flying home made kites every year for Pentecost…an event every year for almost 20 years of my teaching career.

In the day, when paper was allowed attached to walls…decorating.

The River: An Integration of Art, Music, Drama and Movement

Science Fair

An Integration: Do You Know What a Dragon Looks Like?

The Girls by Emma Cline

Straight from the inside cover, “Emma Cline’s remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction – and an indelible portrait of girls, and of the women they become.”

I disagree. I love reading because it gives me the opportunity to make my own judgments on writing and what I personally value and see as good writing. Throughout The Girls, there are moments of poetic writing (Page 137. I lay there, staring at the framed photo that hung over the bureau: a sand dune, rippling with mint grass. The ghoulish whorls of cobwebs in the corners.) lively description or a flash of insight about what makes girls ‘tick’. But as a story line, this novel feels very contrived, and obviously based on the Charles Manson narrative. Sometimes, frankly, that just gets old.

In a more original way, the recent movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood invites the viewer to look at the cult story differently. But, the book, The Girls, just doesn’t do that. Contrary to the book jacket, I find the writing predictable and dull, anything but spellbinding. Hmmm…I’m negative about this one, aren’t I?

The great thing about book discussions is that when a group of ten readers convenes to analyse a book, I can find endearing and positive elements to every book and I can look at different parts or even sometimes, the entire book, with new eyes. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a reader who reads to its conclusion, every book I start. The book discussion on this one, was excellent. Thank you to the book discussion group at Fish Creek Library.

Being a part of the library book discussions gives opportunity to read books that I might not select. I like the huge variety that comes up. Sometimes I’ve got two or even three books going at a time and this can lead me into distraction. This one was an easy read…readers, you could do it in a few evenings.

I suppose the big ‘idea’ in this book is an old question, in my mind, “What is it that causes young women to latch on to ‘bad’ people? What is the allure? The obsession? How do young women allow others to have such control or power over them?”

While I see moments in Cline’s writing that are generous and beautiful, this particular story feels empty and familiar. So, on this one, I disagree with the New Yorker. Laughing to myself, at writing that.

Machine Without Horses by Helen Humphreys

…a late wake up time for me this morning, but I’ve decided to begin the day with a quick book review.  I haven’t reviewed my reading for months now, so, over the coming weeks, I might write one here and there, as I’m at the easel and don’t want to steal too much writing time from that.  I do love writing.  And it relaxes me, all the while giving me the same fearful moments as  I stare at the blank pages as I have when I tremble before a blank panel in the studio.

I have read Helen Humphreys before and thoroughly enjoy her connections with history…such an interesting measure of history and fiction that I have no troubles labeling her writing style as very unique.  While there are some reviews that say that this novel is unresolved, I beg to differ.  This is one of my favourite reads of summer.  It’s a quick read, although this review says that the first half will slow you down, but with the caveat that if the reader takes an interest in the craft of writing, this section might be just as magical as the second.  I am this person.

The book is titled, Machine Without Horses, a somewhat deceiving title, but it will make sense for the reader in time.  Oh, never mind…I’ll offer my readers the literal meaning to start.

Given my time at the river, I’ve been speaking with the fly fishermen and others about their fishing rituals, this past summer.  One evening I had a particularly interesting chat with a young man who shared his enthusiasm for fly dressing.  When I met him he was stooped over with a small screen, capturing the nymphs or larvae of the flies and bugs that were seen hovering above the water and the vegetation that particular evening.  Once identified, then he would make his selection from his collection.  He shared these with me.

I told him about what I had learned about the fine art of fly dressing while reading the book, Machine Without Horses and he was intrigued.  The novel is based on a Scottish protagonist and historical crafts person, Megan Boyd who gained a magical love and ability for salmon fly-dressing.  She worked tirelessly at the craft for some sixty years.  Megan provides the basis for the novel, but the means in which Humphreys writes this character is fascinating to me.

I hope that my young nephew, Jake, reads this post as he has tackled fly-dressing and I’m curious, now, if he continues to do this.  Here are a few of Megan Boyd’s flies.

In the first half of the book, we meet a writer who has come upon the obituary of Mary Boyd.  From the first spark, we learn what motivates the writer (fictional writer?  Helen?  who knows?) to tackle this subject.  The reader becomes an observer of the writer’s process as she develops characters, events and setting.  It is all so fascinating.  As a huge relief, the reader then moves into the historical fiction with greater insight/knowledge about the narrative that unfolds. I’m leaving the synopsis just like this because I don’t wish to introduce you to any bits other than the protagonist and perhaps to say that the setting in Scotland…the atmosphere…the ocean views…and the rivers captivated me.

I think that this is a great little book and highly recommend.  I know. I know.  I certainly don’t have the same tastes in books as many of my friends, but give this one a try.  I’m linking up to the other reviews I might have written on Helen Humphrey’s books.  I may have my friend, Hollee Card, to credit for discovering this author and picked up my first book of hers, Coventry, in a second hand book store.  Other novels were read by the same author, but not reviewed.  One of the most aesthetically written books on my shelf is The River by Helen Humphreys.  I also encourage you, if you romanticize about place, as I do, to pick this one up.

Coventry by Helen Humphreys

The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys

 

 

Belted Kingfisher

Autumn means chasing this guy around, trying to grab a focused photograph.  Some people play football.  This is my sport.  I could spend hours listening for him and then high-tailing it to his next location.  He plays catch-me-if-you-can and I can be heard in the woods, laughing out loud.  If anyone else was around they would wonder.  First, readers, take note of the Belted Kingfisher’s interesting sound.

Twice in the past two days, the Kingfisher has taken a place of importance, the high Y branch of the Bald Eagle family’s favourite tree.  First time, both Juveniles went at him.  I think that perhaps the Kingfisher was consuming a meal and the young eagles get pretty scrappy with the food of other river hunters.  Next time, the Sub Adult flew in, I suppose just to claim her dominance.

My visuals are all very unfocused, but I’m logging these here as a part of my birder journals.  This morning, in the fog, I also watched an Osprey dive, almost vertically, off of a tree and pounce upon a young Cormorant as he fished.  Life on the river is a bit of a dog-eat-dog world.  When I returned home, I saw that I got an unfocused capture of the Osprey leaving the tree.

The two juvenile Bald Eagles swooped into the scene, evicting the Kingfisher from prime territory.

He arrived at my side of the river, for only moments and I snapped this photograph, directly into the light.

Another visit to the river, and again, he chose prime branches.  Are you kidding?

In she swooped…and look, where the little guy ended up!

This morning, in the fog.

Life carries on, in all forms, at the river, but very different from only weeks ago.  The Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are in greater numbers, as are the White Breasted Nuthatches.  The Northern Flickers swoosh down and up onto the Elms.  This afternoon, the subdued landscape was broken by a huge frenzy of vocalizations of coyotes on the island and the howls were returned in unison by the coyotes on this side of the river.  It was absolutely magical!

Osprey taking a dive, not for a fish, but for the Cormorant catching the fish! (Horrible photo alert!)

Juvenile Cormorant.  Doug Newman pointed out one time that some Cormorant species have bright blue eyes in this stage.  This is the best that I’ve been able to capture that.

And, what exactly is this?  Has this wee babe been abandoned by Mom?  What is it?

The elegance of the young American Robins, at this time, fills my heart, whenever I see them.

This past week might have been impacted by bad-weather days, but nature continues to amaze me, regardless.

The female Mallard keeps her kids in line.

I will continue to attempt a good capture of the Belted Kingfisher during the coming week.

BUMP!

The Beltline Urban Murals Project provided several offerings over the past few days.  My friend, Pat, and I participated in a tour that introduced us to the murals in east locations of the Beltline. We will have to see the murals to the west on our own. The weather was cooperative at the outset, but then we just got really hit with rain.  It’s interesting though, Pat and I never really get hung up about things when we are taking in an event of interest.  We just have fun.

Click on the blue links for artist biographies.  This is the third annual BUMP event to be held in Calgary.

Our meet-up was at the historic McHugh House.

First stop was Luke Ramsey’s work at Alpha House.  Luke is out of Powell River, B.C.

 Next stop was Lacey and Layla’s work.  They are out of Edmonton and Montreal.  I like the focus of their work.

Pat can be seen jay walking in the next photograph.  She is going to let me know (again) that she doesn’t like her photo taken.

This mural was a new addition to the line up and it was a really fun stop as two artists were working on this alley mural as we approached.  I believe the gentleman is RUNT. It can’t be easy painting that rough stucco surface with brushes.  I’m also guessing that this wall was in bad shape upon the outset!

As we left, I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the old ad. art work on the adjacent building.

This piece is going to be amazing and will cover the expanse of this wall.  It is based on a study done of buffalo hides and is connected with research at Blackfoot Crossing.  Typically, Guido Van Helten produces works that include large monochrome portraits, so this is a little different.  I’m excited to see this one finished.  

At this point, the rain was coming down.  Kevin Ledo’s work will take your breath away.  It is truly amazing.

The work of FATS is about freedom.  I like the vertical format of this one.  By this time, I was getting wet.  My umbrella was sitting in the back seat of my car, quite some distance away by this time.

From this point forward, I lost track of the artist’s work and will have to spend some time researching a wee bit.  I’m thinking that this one was completed by an ol’ Gorilla House friend of mine, Adam Zhu.  In fact, I own one of his pieces as commissioned in the day.  I’ll go take a look at his website.  Yuppers!  Congratulations, Adam!  Beautiful work!!

Mateusz Naperialski created a mural in close proximity to several others.  This little section was absolutely beautiful and the art was like eye candy.  I was really feeling for the organizers and events folks, as well as the DJs who were closing out the event.  What a time to have so much rain!

Labrona’s work created a beautiful welcome into the celebration area, fixed with fire pits, strung lights and spray paint demonstrations and participation.  So fun!  Food trucks are down there and I’m sure that the music is still playing.

Reza Nik’s bright yellow created a brilliant conclusion to our BUMP experience.  This is an event that is now on my radar and I will be attending in future.  Congratulations to all participants.  I’m thrilled that our city is energizing the visual.  It’s so important to all of us.

Pat, that was a good one, right??

Now, to curl up with some Netflix.

Crows Fly Over Main Street

My daughter spent quite some time living in Vancouver.  For some reason I always put up a bit of a wall when the possibility of traveling there was considered.  I’ve had a friend living there for decades.  And then, Bobbie moved there.  But, I always felt some fears around its density, compactness or some unnamed unknown.  A drunk person poured an entire glass of beer down my back at a Dave Matthew’s concert in Rogers Arena one night, years ago, and the same night, I stayed in an Otto Rogers themed room. That sums up my experience of Vancouver, until recently.

On the afternoon and evening of August 20, 2019, I had opportunity to walk and see a touch of what my daughter experienced.  While I never did get to the water’s edge, I did walk a stretch of Main Street and visited one of her work places, a shop called, Front and Co.  I’ve snapped a few photographs of places along the way.  One has to admit that the vegetation is lush in Vancouver and varied.  I tried to capture that as well.

In the evening, we gathered to feast and to toast Bob.  One beautiful friend of the family delivered ‘Bob Likes Thai Food’ for dinner and another brought flowers and wine.  As we sat, sharing stories, a huge murder of  crows flew over our heads…a movement that is repeated each evening, like clockwork, over the house.  I was overcome with the magic of this, the sounds of it and will never forget it.

When it was pitch black, we walked and talked our way to the neighbouring cemetery.  There, we opened up a blanket and sat down, overlooking the lights of Vancouver.  We talked until the early hours of morning about absolutely everything, but mostly Bob.

I snapped a photograph of sculpture in the Vancouver air terminal before leaving.

I’ve recently had another dear friend move to Vancouver.  I have family in Comox.  Vancouver, I’ll be back!

Days and Art at Vancouver General Hospital

I dread flying. (The fears stem from multiple days on a cross-country flight in a single engine Cessna…but, that’s another story.)

When I heard that one of my best friends, spiritual guides and artist-buddies was moving at warp speed toward death (as we all are), I had to fly.  It is with gratitude for a few people and circumstances and timing that I write these words down.  Everything lined up so that I could be with Bobbie.  Bob and I shared over twenty years of friendship and he inspired such rich and wonderful magic in my life.  It was an unwritten pact of sorts that led me to his bedside and into the wonderful circle of his family.

When we landed, I took words of a highly-traveled friend, Hollee, to heart and pretended, to some degree, that I was Dora the Explorer.  I had some reservations about flying into Vancouver, not being familiar with the ‘big’ city at all.  I had flown into Vancouver with a friend many years ago in order to enjoy a Dave Matthew’s Band concert and the Art Gallery, but hadn’t ever found my way around on my own.  So, on the advice of Hollee, I took my time finding my way to the Canada Line, enjoying the beautiful art displayed throughout the airport.  Bob would have loved that I did this.

I successfully found my way to the Broadway/City Hall stop and then began my short walk to the hospital.

Peter met me at the elevator on the 16th floor of the Palliative Care Unit, after a convoluted wandering of the hospital, having thought I would find Bob on the eleventh floor. When I stepped around the corner and into Bob’s room, his arms extended and opened up to me.  The embrace of two old friends was delicious.  He uttered his delight and I parked my bag.  I knew that I would make this room my home for the coming days, although Bronwyn had graciously offered me a bed.

I write this post to celebrate the type of care and the environment where Bob spent his last days.  The Palliative Care unit was exceptional.  It was a comfortable space for both residents and families.  And there was art…everywhere!  Referred to as the VGH/ UBC Hospital Foundation Art Collection, the collection gave me the opportunity to disappear into various visual experiences throughout my stay.

“We are grateful to our donors for their contributions to this innovative program,” says Dr. Bev Spring, a physician with the Palliative Care Unit at VGH. “Art helps to create an atmosphere aesthetically and attitudinally where emotional and physical healing can happen. This is important for the heart and soul of the hospital – and the hearts and souls of those who find themselves on the giving or receiving end of care here: patients, their families and staff alike.”

I collected a series of photographs…none of them great, because I was so impressed.  I wasn’t in Vancouver for site seeing or for a vacation.  And yet, the space where my dear friend spent his last days was absolutely beautiful.  I’m so grateful for that.  This post is written in order to celebrate Bob’s life.  He held, in his imagination, such knowledge, practice and understanding of place, aesthetics and image-making.  This collection would have awed  him.

I sat through the wee hours of morning on August 20th and felt an overwhelming peace.  Of course, I was weary, but I was and am so grateful for the people who are in my circle.  I am so blessed.  Bob was a gentle and kind man.  His spirit lives.