2016 Visiting Al Gerritsen

Today marks the Feast Day of St. Nicholas and I was blessed to share an afternoon in Al Gerritsen’s studio with a friend.  Every time I visit Al, I feel calm and happiness and I take in everything I can; the visual aesthetic, the smell of wood, and the recollections of so many wonderful stories.

My nativity is set up in the front yard, the indoor nativity figures are set out on the table for Advent and it has become a bit of a custom for me to make an annual visit to the woodcarver’s shop, just to enjoy the friendship and the creative energy.

Today, I had the opportunity to hear about Al’s Christmas posters and selected four for my Gerritsen collection.  Each one, unique, and again, with a story all of its own.  I don’t think I’ve ever known such a prolific artist.  This second week of Advent is all about PEACE…and today was certainly that!

Following the visit, a hot cup of peppermint tea and some pretty special ocean vessel talk! Overall, a magical afternoon!

-18 and -30 with windchill, this day brought with it, sun dogs, two eagles circling above the Bow and frozen eyelashes at the pond.  Amazing day!

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Birdie by Tracey Lindberg

I finished Birdie a couple of weeks ago and I’ve had to take time with the story, before writing about it.   I’d like to be kinder in this review, but truly it was a difficult ‘read’.

It was obvious to me, only pages in, that I was going to struggle with Birdie.  I always forge on when reading is a slog.  I make assumptions that everything, at some point, is going to pull together.  I know that this is what I did with Moby Dick.  In the end, Melville’s narrative was linear even though there was a heavy bulk of marine biology that moved the reader every now and then, away from the narrative.  Not so, with Birdie.

The themes and the ‘story’ are not problematic.  While Bernice’s story was brutal, it is told with such honesty that I connect with her and empathize with her and sometimes, cry with her.  The supporting female characters, also, are to be treasured.  The writing of them is observant, sensitive and again, authentic.

The book’s structure, however, is problematic.  Each chapter includes descriptions of Bernice’s dreams, as well as her stories.  The reader is introduced to new vocabulary in these sections.  Then the chapter moves on, but seems to journey from one place to another and one time to another.  I never ‘got it’.  I never moved, with ease, through the events or ‘places’ in Bernice’s life.  If one was to describe the book as a song, one would say that there were a lot of dissonant chords.  Even the end, felt unresolved.

I was grateful to see the Globe and Mail’s review, professionally written, validated my experience because I thought that the problem was with me, the reader, not the book.

Included in a fairly positive review…this.

We spend a lot of time in Bernice’s head and a lot of time exploring her past. It gets exhausting. The novel’s timeline is a mess. I suspect that’s by design, but it doesn’t make the reading any easier. Darting around between events from Bernice’s past becomes more confusing thanks to the sometimes-repetition of these events. Readers may find themselves flipping back through the pages to confirm that, yes, they’ve read about this already, only now it’s stitched into a different sequence. Those who enjoy a linear or even a cleverly assembled non-linear recounting of events will be frustrated. Total surrender to the memory soup that floods Bernice’s troubled mind may be required, but it’s still a tough swim. While disorientation can be a powerful storytelling tool, readers still deserve a road map. Besides Jesse, the Frugal Gourmet (a.k.a. Jeff Smith) figures more prominently in the story, a kind of spirit guide for Bernice. Smith was a public access television phenomenon in the eighties. (His show ran for 14 years, but ended abruptly after sexual-abuse allegations were levelled against him.) A weird choice for a spirit guide, but as Hunter S. Thompson said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

In the very early pages, I sensed the protagonist had suffered horrible abuses.  I felt deep sadness and I think I DID  “surrender to the memory soup that floods Bernice’s troubled mind” in order to move on through and complete the book.

Several reviews describe the book as humourous.  I’d have to say, then, that I lack in humour.  I found the themes dark, painful and heart wrenching.  I couldn’t laugh at the moments that were perhaps intended as comic relief, but that were like watching a vulnerable child on a school yard being spat upon.  I can’t be one of those by-standers who gawks and laughs.  Bernice is vulnerable to us.  She is a metaphor for every child and woman who has been raped, emotionally manipulated or disappeared.

I needed a roadmap for this one.

Image result for birdie by tracey lindberg

November Paint

One of the components of the Alberta Elementary Art Curriculum is Expression.  Here lies the opportunity for students to explore media, personal narratives and ‘let ‘er loose’.  While I typically embed reflection and depiction in my lessons, as well as inherently guide the students to compose well (all of the strands are connected), sometimes I focus more on the act of painting or sculpting or learning what media can do.  Seasonal celebrations lend themselves well to Expression.  Those educators who lean heavily on Pinterest for their ‘art ideas’ need to remember that these are, for the most part, Expression lessons and often of the variety that focuses on the ‘how to’ rather on the child’s personal interpretation of their internal narrative. We need to be wary of the ‘paper cut out’ approach for the sake of a ‘pretty display’. I think it’s essential the ‘art idea’ bank be balanced with more unpredictable outcomes and never sacrifice the experiences that come with Reflection, Depiction and Composition.

This month the students in my care, painted.  The use of the brush continues to be a skill to be reckoned with.  Turning the brush sideways for thin marks and flat for wider marks, another technique to practice.  Dry brush and wet brush effects can be observed and discussed.

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Creating candlelight separately, to be cut out and glued to the candle after drying…one idea…in the case that you have short bits of time for painting, instead of a sustained period of time.

The resulting collages, including a wreath of evergreen that has been created using green on green, studies in pattern.  In this case a second candle will be added on the second week of Advent (taller), a Gaudete candle on the third week (taller still and pink in colour) and the fourth candle, the last week, leading to Christmas.

Fully painted Advent Wreaths, horizontally on large paper.  Concept in composition was overlapping…we did a few exercises with our bodies before beginning this…talked a little about perception.  Notice North, South, East and West marked at the compass points of the picture plane.  These dots give the students reminders to stretch their images to touch each of those edges.  Chalk allows the students to explore placement, change their minds and plan and scheme.  Pencil is debilitating at this age.  Erasers become appendages.  lol  Just get rid of both.  White chalk rocks!

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Smaller format…still, on coloured construction for an activated picture plane.  Later, to have the candle flames whitened with chalk or white oil pastel…I would suggest that these smaller compositions might have oil pastel underlines or embellishments added after dry.

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Larissa Fassler: CIVIC. CENTRE.

One of my favourite places to hang out on wintry days is the Esker Foundation.  It is either bopping with gaggles of work-shoppers, panel discussions, tours or other such events or it is simply peaceful, quiet and bathed it beautiful light.  Yesterday found me relatively ‘on my own’ in the space and I really appreciated the impact of the exhibits.

Most impact-full, for me, was Larissa Fassler’s work.  Given my incessant record-keeping and my daily walking-observation-documentation of my pond study, it makes sense that her work speaks to me.  I’ve almost finished my second coffee and Max needs to be speed- walked before a day of teaching.  So, I’m not going to go into long explanations here, but yesterday I felt that I had collided with a very like-minded artist.  It is wonderful to see concepts mirrored back.  And, completely by surprise.

Directly from the Esker website…this…

Larissa Fassler’s work begs us to slow down, look around, and consider more deeply the spaces and structures that organize our cities, our lives, and our identities. Fassler’s current artistic practice is premised on a prolonged process of observing and recording: she visits her chosen sites at varying times throughout the day over a period of weeks or months and remarks upon the unremarkable. She records countless everyday encounters and charts minute architectural details, creating a meticulous record of highly complex sites, looking ultimately for the ways in which space influences behaviour – and for traces of protest or disruption.

I will, later, post about Cedric and Jim Bomford’s work, The Traveller.  Given my University of Lethbridge residence experience…and gazing out at the High Level Bridge for those four years, I was left breathless once confronted by the powerful construction of space in the ‘guts’ of the gallery.  I have much to say about the traveller and was intrigued by the process of a father and son installing such a beast as this, within the context of the Esker Space.

I was grateful to be greeted by Parisa.  It has been quite a while.  The hospitality shown by the Esker staff is consistent, warm and educational.

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For You/And Me

 

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I met Ashleigh Bartlett at the Esker Foundation. I was participating in a workshop that was a visual response/reaction to the Jack Bush and Colleen Heslin exhibit, one of the most powerful visual experiences I had had for a very long time.  Ashleigh really impacted me with her approach to the workshop and I saw the evolution of non-objective forms more clearly than I had in the past.  I also became very engaged in process, materials and colour.

Ashleigh is presently working out of Boston and she has become a social media friend.  I enjoy visiting the art exhibits she attends through posted images and sometimes get to see work that I admire, through her eyes.  Most recently…just yesterday…she posted an image of a piece by Kara Walker, an artist I’ve been intrigued by the past several years.  Her paper cut outs related to the topic of slavery are potent and important.  Anyway, point being, social media may have its downfalls, but more often than not, it creates interesting connections.

Ashleigh Bartlett curated the current/soon departing exhibit For You/And Me at the Paul Kuhn Gallery.  I couldn’t let it leave town without seeing it.  After all, yesterday was a snowy and grey day.  One other person was wandering the gallery, but soon, I was alone in the space.  And…my readers know how I feel about that glorious feeling of being alone with work.  I’ve snapped some photographs of my favourite works.  I’d describe this group show as elegant and restful.  While colour on the larger fabric collages is intense, there is a dominant sense of balance and that leads the viewer into an experience of meditation.

In regards to my experience, I was curious about the technical aspects of the work.  There were some very engaging approaches to use of media.  Jim Verburg’s approach in his two layer paintings was lovely…so subtle, that photographs would not do them justice.  Paint on mylar in front of paint on mat.  Nice.  Jessica Groome’s Glimmer, Gazer and Pearl, documented below…my favourites!

 

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This little piece was probably the one I wondered about the most.  Mark Clintberg’s Two Coins was simple, but complex at the same time.  I like the projection of the shadow onto the back mat.  I like the texture of the embossed gold leaf.  I wonder about the connections with Felix Gonzales Torres’ Drawings and Sculptures.  This captures the sensibility of the exhibit in full…elegance.  Congratulations to Ashleigh, the participating artists and Paul Kuhn.

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I’d love to have Erica Mendritzski’s Girls hanging in my home.  This is the stuff that dreams are made of.

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A Fruitcake Tradition

Why fruitcake?  A lot of people don’t even like the stuff…

To be honest, last evening, after cutting cherries (green and red) in half, following a really different and physical day, I was suffering a bit of a martyr complex that can sometimes hit women if they do too much in preparation for the Advent season and Christmas.  I say ‘women’ simply because my observations tell me that women value the traditions  and rituals of the kitchen and appear to do a lot of preparation for holiday seasons.  (I also know a gentleman who prepares hundreds of perogies, in the tradition of his mother, prior to Christmas…so, I’m not meaning to make this a story about who-does-what.)

In my family of origin, my mother did a lot of work in the kitchen and sat many hours, sewing our clothing at her sewing machine.  My father participated…for example, he told me that he remembered cutting the cherries in half. (news to me…and as a result, this is the first year that I cut them in half)   The reason for starting this blog post.

I set my alarm for 6:30 this morning.  I decided before I went to bed that I would get up early, mix up the batter and fruit and put it all together to rest in order to bake it this evening.  (I’ve got lots I want to do today).  Well, it turns out that I woke at 4:00 in the morning.  Wide awake.  I made a decision to rise and SHINE…shine, being the operative word.

I put the coffee on and let Max out in the back yard to pee.

I looked up Gordon Lightfoot on Spotify, after listening to one short album of The Tallest Man On Earth.  For some reason, I woke with the lyrics of Wherefore and Why on my mind.  I made a choice to enter into the fruitcake prep with happiness and with a sense of nostalgia.

Some things came to mind as I worked and I wanted to write them down before I get on with the day.

First of all, the smells of Christmas are really important.  Allspice. Molasses. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Mixed Peel…evergreen…mincemeat.

I remembered my family while making fruitcake.  My grandparents.  My parents.  My brothers and sister.  And through the last many years…my children.

When I opened the small carton of molasses, I remembered my Gramma Moors.  A dessert treat would be to soak up molasses with a piece of white bread.  I remember her doing this while sitting at her small kitchen table.  The table was covered with a piece of floral vinyl.  I remember her soft yellow bath robe.  I remember that her feet didn’t really touch the floor when she sat at that table.  I miss my Gramma.

My kitchen is small, by today’s standards.  I realize this.  But, I have no desire for a larger kitchen.  My dishwasher hasn’t worked for almost two years.  I wash my dishes by hand. But, as I worked in my kitchen this morning, I remembered the kitchens where my mother toiled to make turkey dinners and dozens of butter tarts and fruitcakes and, for the most part, they were small kitchens.  I liked the intimacy, this morning, of my kitchen.  I enjoyed the idea that this kitchen is in a home that I have made, along with my children, all on our own.

I haven’t got a hankering to purchase or use mandolines or food processors of any kind.  I use a knife, a glass lemon squeezer, a grater…those sorts of tools.  In our family fruitcake recipe, for a single batch, we require one lemon and one orange; zest and juice.  As I squeezed these this morning, I remembered my mother’s knuckles…her hands…doing their work at the kitchen counter.  The image was as clear as day.  She pressed so hard that I remember her knuckles being red.  Every last drop of juice was won by her efforts.

Having no bowl large enough in my kitchen, I used my roasting pan and combined ingredients there.  Mom and Dad used their turkey roaster, also.  I remembered the large batch of batter resting in the family roaster.

I had a beautiful start to my day, preparing our family fruitcake recipe.  Thanks to Dad for sending me grocery money, I will be baking these up tonight, wrapping them up with the help of my girls tomorrow evening and posting them to my family, for the holiday.  Even if my brothers and sister just open the wrap and take in the smell of brandy and fruitcake, it will be enough…to remember our shared Christmases, our history and our Mom.

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When I woke this mornin’, something inside of me told me this would be my day
I heard the morning train, I felt the wind change, too many times I’m on my way
Come on sunshine, what can you show me
Where can you take me to make me understand
The wind can shake me, brothers forsake me
The rain can touch me, but can I touch the rain

And then I saw the sunrise above the cotton sky like a candycane delight
I saw the milkman, I saw the business man, I saw the only road in sight
Then I got to thinkin’ what makes you want to go, to know the wherefore and the why

So many times now, oh lord I can’t remember if it’s september or july

Then all at once it came to me, I saw the wherefore, and you can see it if you try
It’s in the sun above, it’s in the one you love, you’ll never know the reason why

Come on sunshine, what can you show me
Where can you take me to make me understand
The wind can shake me, brothers forsake me
The rain can touch me, but can I touch the rain
So much to lose, so much to gain

Writing on the Studio Wall

I have a long history of writing on walls.  But, what a friend recently told me is that Sharpie fades and will only last so long on drywall. (this explains why my affirmations, written on my bathroom wall in metallic gold pen, have begun to disappear)  So, as I looked at my studio walls, I DID realize that many of the original song lyrics and early writings of friends have begun to disappear.  I have documented these so that as they fade, they can be remembered as they become a part of the history of place.

I’ll begin with the most recent signing…that of my furnace tech, having just cleaned out my furnace and vents for this year.

If you do not see your writing on my wall, it is time for a studio visit!  Scout…looking for your writing. ;0)

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I need to change my filter more often.

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Annie Lennox: The Saddest Song I’ve Got (yup…sometimes when you’re painting, you feel sad and I would have been playing this CD while I painted, likely after I saw her playing a concert with Sting.)

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My oldest Kananaskis Country map plastered on the studio wall. I think about the mountains whenever I’m not in them. When I thought to, I recorded the odd hike…just so that I could remember the circumstance. Most times I forgot.

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Oh my gosh…winter hot dog roast at Sandy McNabb…that was a long time ago! I DID DO RAE GLACIER again!

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I didn’t keep this up…but, I thought it would be cool to list the new CDs that came into the studio. Don’t know what the Martha Stewart Wedding memo was about.

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This boy has a big influence on me. He got over some addictions. He helped me recently.

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Alan put up some shelves in the studio when I first built it…now, that was a long time ago! It seems we reused wood. I painted it up and it looked great. I remember when the studio was empty.

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Pat, from the Ironwood, was out with another buddy. I was bugging him about the fact that when the move happened from the present day Blue’s Can, they took Mussels off the menu. We were drinking wine in the studio that evening. These things happen.

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My niece, Mandi, wrote beautiful words for me on the morning of my first born’s wedding…and it’s almost impossible to read them anymore. I treasure them and always will. I send her love, abundant love.

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Bee, my dancing partner, when there’s good Honky Tonk music playing, continuously shares hilarious bits of blah blah…usually, I write them down.

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Oh, good grief…weird stuff ends up hung on my studio wall, but, I am always prepared. Nothing’s worse than having to leave a painting, in order to floss your teeth…and times wasted looking for it.

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Oh my gosh…I was obsessed with getting large storage for my big canvases. Thank you to all my friends and family who had to listen to my musings on this subject and to the two men who eventually built them. I’ve been afraid that they are going to fall on me while I paint, ever since. lol

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Yes, I was this obsessed. To the right, a beautiful mosaic created by a Larche artist, a gift from Father Clair Watrin a zillion years ago.

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One view of the storage that I love so much.

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The other side…

 

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Chris and Clayton…former students. Every so often the kids come back to visit…they’re both grown up now. We don’t forget, though. Proud of both of these dudes.

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Broken hearted, I cut three travel journals up into little squares, when my trucker boyfriend dumped me over the telephone. (I may as well be honest). Chances are that if you’ve got one of my paintings since 2006, one of these squares is buried in your painting. I thought it would be good to send a bit of my heart out with each new piece…the nice thing to announce is that it barely hurts at all any more. This is what happens with broken heartedness.

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Awe…my cousin, Clayton, just before he headed out for a huge walk for the support the Kidney Foundation? Correct me, if I’m wrong, Clay. Karina and Clayton…a gift to share an evening with them.

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Jen Hall took the first and only ‘real’ portrait that I’ve had done of me…and Max…and she documented a few paintings for me. She’s awesome.

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I have a habit of picking up things in old frames, especially if they look like they were hung in some one’s kitchen for a zillion years…where mayhaps tea was served and ladies talked.

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I read stuff about our animal/bird/insect/plant species that are in trouble…I clip them here…I don’t want to forget. Some of these land in paintings…it all depends what I’m thinking about at the time.

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My son….he was my very young batman…he wanted to keep everyone safe and happy and calm. These are two of my favourite photos of him. The other one…well, you saw it earlier.  James and sister, Cayley, at Angel Glacier.

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Yeah…more journal squares…a piece from Ashleigh Bartlett’s workshop at Esker…more salvaged religious memorabilia from the second hand stores…a postcard of Tim Belliveau’s glass…my all time favourite glass artist.

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Book suggestions…words from my sister-in-law, Grace. Aaron, Angela and Wisdom visited me and took away my teaching table so that I would never, again, be tempted to teach in the studio, but instead, paint.

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Yes…my daughter’s wedding. Trying to remember neighbour’s names…

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Karina…beautiful. I wish more of my relations from Raymond and Lethbridge and Magrath would stop in for visits. Love them so much.

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Youngest person to visit my studio…Wisdom is growing up so fast. Love the Sponge Bob!

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Leaves of Grass: Walt Whitman Read it! WHEN the true poet comes, how shall we know him— By what clear token,—manners, language, dress? Or shall a voice from Heaven speak and show him: Him the swift healer of the Earth’s distress!

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Bill used to move my art…I loved him so much.

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Bill Webb…still painting luminous landscapes of the Livingston Range and winter roads. New adventures are happening for my dear friend.

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James Blunt…during heart wrenching moments in the studio.

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Margy…oh my gosh…how many times did we watch the music video and sing along with this tune??

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Bob Nelson…drove all the way from Helena and we went down to Knox and listened to acapella music. High school friend and talks about life, the world and Kant. I’m catching waves.

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I didn’t see this note about the scissors until today. Cayley, sorry that I wasn’t helpful. lol The scissors are hanging in the scissor place over there!

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Beautiful lady, Angela. And, I guess some sort of recommendation from Dylan. Dylan and Kristan, former students, have visited. But…it’s been a while. Both are doing inspiring and exciting things. I still have a JH self portrait in a portfolio for Kristan to pick up. lol

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Oh dear…I can’t read this. Can you? Please let me know…something about meditation…I can read “Remain Radiant”

REMAIN ‘RADIANT,’AS JOYCE PUT IT, IN THE FILTH OF THE WORLD.

The goal of life is to be a vehicle
for something higher.Keep your eye up there
between the pairs of opposites
watching your play in the world.Let the world be as it is
and learn to rock with the waves.Remain ‘radiant,’
as Joyce put it,
in the filth of the world.”~ Joseph Campbell, Excerpt From: “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.” Joseph Campbell Foundation, iBooks

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This young man…an accomplished and published photographer/journalist out of Toronto. Look for his stuff on cars…and his road trips! Proud of you, Clayton.

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My brother, owner of Cliff’s Chinook Charters out of Comox, wrote about the plight of the salmon. I love my brother…he knows how much I think about him. I caught a big one out there, while sharing a trip with my daughter and father.

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Leslie Champ, former student and amazing man! Christmas visit 2013. The little piece matted in purple, a piece of art created by student Katie McGreevy for me when I taught at St. John’s Fine Arts School…again, a zillion years ago. A couple pieces of my paint-by-number collection.

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I cherish Leslie’s words.

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Jen…another artist extraordinaire. A part of a powerhouse teaching team at AGC when it was before the boss woman went down in flames.

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Middle Child, daughter Cayley, is one of my two daughters. Both have taught me about courage. I could not have learned the lessons of courage in life, without them.

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Thank you.

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Rita, I miss you. You opened up so much discourse. You supported me.

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First born. I can’t type anything about her without getting teary. Such a warm, funny, organized, loving human being! Brave! Pam and Larry, that was a fun night! Such fun!

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“The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.” ― Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark

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lol You’re welcome, Larry.

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In two places.

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Jen, I miss you. A bit of a piece done with Asheigh Bartlett, as a response to work by Jack Bush.

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People leave me stones, shells and earth from places they have traveled…these came from Australia. Thank you, Bob.

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Natasha…former student studying art in Vancouver. Love you and so proud of you.

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Darwin stones.

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Prince Edward Island Sand…touch it every once and a while and my mother comes to mind.

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Shells and stones…Prince Edward Island. I get teary looking at these.

Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People (and Yours) by Harold R. Johnson

I was invited to join the Sweetgrass Book Club, enthusiastically organized for the three books for November and a week ago, completed Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (And Yours) by Harold R. Johnson.

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Amazing!  While there were some messages that became redundant, in the reading, the book was written from such an honest and authentic point of view, that I was truly absorbed from beginning to end.

I appreciated so much that traditional stories were woven into the factual history of human relationship with alcohol and more specifically, the stigma that comes with the relationship that Indigenous peoples have had with alcohol.  I felt an urgency, like I have not before, that these concerns must be addressed, but as they relate to these families, our families.

Based on my reading and my experience of The Spawning Ground by Gail Anderson-Dargatz, it is essential that the bridge between our two worlds be burned down!  We need to be aware of the power of story…we have to listen.

I think that Johnson introduces a refreshing approach to the social and judicial complications in the layers of these stories.  He also brings to light the truth of so many related matters..  His wisdom really impacted me.  I hope that my readers will listen to the CBC interview that I am attempting to post here.

I highly recommend this book and think that sobriety can offer a very productive and satisfying result.  Our celebrations can be very special events without the presence of alcohol.  Thanks to Tracey Lindberg and Richard Van Camp for your contributions.  I’m reading Birdie, now.

“We need all of the sober artists to tell their stories.”

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The Spawning Grounds by Gail Anderson-Dargatz

I’ve written about Gail’s books before, but completed The Spawning Grounds in October, so I thought I’d leave a small footprint in the passage that is my life about this one.  In her promotional video, Gail uses the perfect word to describe this story…well, at least it comes up.  The word is ‘numinous’…not a word I’ve encountered before, but I love it.

nu·mi·nous
ˈn(y)o͞omənəs/
adjective
  1. having a strong religious or spiritual quality; indicating or suggesting the presence of a divinity.
    “the strange, numinous beauty of this ancient landmark”
    synonyms: spiritual, religious, divine, holy, sacred;

    The Spawning Grounds gives the reader opportunity to consider characters, conflict in relationships and an awe-inspiring setting, but the thing that will either make or break this book, for the reader, is this ‘numinous’-thing that Gail, herself, has described as being ‘magic realism’.

    The book confronts the stories of people on two sides of a river, separated by a bridge.  In itself,  this initial setting establishes a huge metaphor for readers, especially given the present-day events of Standing Rock and the struggles for the Sioux and Lakhota peoples.

    While the element of magic has been present in other books that I have read by Gail, this one takes the cake for the consistent and fluid relationship between humanity and its spirituality. (Science Fiction? No!  Magic…or as we religious folk call it, Belief.) There is conflict as a result, and the reader questions his/her own ability to distinguish between what is real and not.  Some readers will cluck their tongues on this one.  However, I was able to move beyond rational explanations like ‘mental illness’ and ‘trauma’ and flowed easily into more remarkable mythologies that explained the sequence of events that erupted throughout the book.

    This won’t make any sense to my readers, right now.  In looking over that last paragraph, I take pause.  “Hmmm”…I’d say, “give it a chance”.

    For me, the novel was lyrical.  The images that were created were both horrifying and wondrous.  I loved this book.

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The Women Who Raised Me by Victoria Rowell

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Last evening, I had the chance to hang out and chill with my sister-friends.  Thanks, Darlene.  The only disappointment was that Wendy wasn’t with us.  It was the intention to hop right into the hot tub, but, as per usual, the snacks came out and the conversation began.  It doesn’t matter how often we see one another, there is lots to say.

Being with friends is a very healing experience.  There is much that is revealed by getting ideas out of heads and hearts and hearing the perspectives of women you completely trust because of the years that you have shared.

I thought that since this got me thinking about my long-time friends, I would share a book that I read early in October.  It’s a good one.  I’m big on reading Memoirs.  Not everyone is keen on that genre.  If, however, you wish to read a book that has a heart warming component, this is one you might want to consider.

Victoria Rowell shares with the reader, sometimes-complicated, but always-treasured relationships with women who ‘raised her’.  I think that we all have teachers and friends and extended family who have supported us and certainly we know the beautiful thing that is a relationship with a mother or a sister or an aunt…but, for reasons out of her control, Victoria’s mother could not be in the picture that was her life, not to a deeply nurturing extent.  This book is about the women who stepped up.

I am blessed to belong to several circles of friends.  While I am not a part of a traditional family of my own (with a life partner), I have been deeply blessed by the friendship of women in my life (sure, and a few guys, too…you know who you are).  While I would have liked it to work out that I had a life partner who would be a help mate and spiritual companion, I have learned that life offers us a richness in ‘other’ forms of relationship if we are receptive to those invitations.

Of this book, I particularly enjoyed the opening chapters where Victoria lays down the tracks of her life by introducing us to the history of her family.  I think that we are all rooted in stories and her stories were fascinating. Matters of fostering and adoption live at the core of this memoir. While I typically go for more complex writing, this one flowed nicely and made me feel happy for the women in my life.

You might enjoy, The Women Who Raised Me by Victoria Rowell.  3 1/2 out of 5 as Goodreads ratings go.

“Do not look around thee to discover other men’s ruling principles, but look straight to this, to what nature leads thee, both the universal nature through the things which happen to thee, and thy own nature through the acts which must be done by thee. But every being ought to do that which is according to its constitution; and all other things have been constituted for the sake of rational beings, just as among irrational things the inferior for the sake of the superior, but the rational for the sake of one another.”

Marcus Aurelius