Douglas Williamson: Urban Theology

Between two Thieves. Photo by Collin Orthner

After the Pitch-In event on Saturday morning, I was able to head down to Wallace Galleries and hear an artist talk by Douglas Williamson.  It was so inspiring that I’m certain this week I will continue to think about both the art and the ideas shared by Doug.  The works are luminous and yet gritty, as they deal with the subject of our humanity, both internal/spiritual landscapes and the external/physical landscapes of our surroundings.  An awesome exhibit that continues until May 9. 

Reading the Word. Photo by Collin Orthner

Saying Good-Bye to Frank’s Flats: Canada Wide Pitch-in Week

I celebrated my experience of stewardship for one piece of the landscape with a small team of volunteers on Saturday afternoon.  We participated in the Pitch-in, a Clean Sweep that was happening right across Canada!  Here are photos of paricipants in Dryden, Ontario; Lacombe, Alberta; Hanna, Alberta and if you take a google on the information highway, you will see that participants worked this past week in every province and territory to change their landscape and do a Clean Sweep!  I feel very proud of my team for their efforts and their support. 

We went out on Saturday morning, after an orientation around my feast table at home. 

A hearty breakfast served, with gratitude.

We were granted beautiful weather and except for a section of property that was swamped by two days of rain, we were able to do a clean-sweep of Bishop O’Byrne highschool’s slope and a quick pick up on the flats.  We were witness to the mating dances/songs of Merganser Ducks on the water, as well as enjoyed this spring’s first siting of a heron in flight.  It was a truly wonderful time.

From the boundary of 'my landscape', looking down at a couple of members of team members.

Here are a couple of team members on the flats.  I felt so proud and happy.  After all of these months of work on this site, it was nice to have the company of others and to hear them saying the things that I had been saying in my head every single day.

Thank you, team!

There were some interesting finds…not much that I hadn’t found before.  In total yesterday, five lighters.  A discus.  Many granola bar wrappers.  I managed to haul another large piece of foam insulation out of the pond’s edge.

A Great group!

It was rewarding having others share the efforts because at the conclusion of a set amount of time, we had six bags of litter instead of one!  Whoot!  Whoot!  There’s rarely a photo opportunity where claymation-master, Kristen, doesn’t take the chance to make a face!  That’s her on the left.


And so, the Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time comes to a close.  I have my Drive By Shootings (filming) project in the works and still wish to contact the CPR regarding their position on garbage alongside their tracks…and apart from that, I’m going to be hitting the paint brushes…tending to the internal landscape for awhile.  I’ve learned so much by being so completely ‘in touch’ with a small part of our environment.  I hope that there will be many more stewards of Frank’s Flats in the future and that while they enjoy this space and spend time observing nature,  they will not take any of its beauty for granted.

Throwing in the towel AND TWO RUBBER GLOVES!

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. Author Unknown

The Shipping News: Annie Proulx

I found this to be one of the most fascinating books that I’ve read in a long time.  A book that flows nicely, The Shipping News provides complex underlying themes by introducing small exerpts from the 1944 Ashley Book of Knots at the beginning of each chapter.  As I entered into the final chapters, these reflections truly became relevant and contributed greatly to the success of the book.  Set in the rich, always-changing, land/seascape of Newfoundland, I felt that in a very honest way, I finally had some inkling of what life has been for Newfoundlanders.  Issues of overfishing, development, weather, economic struggle and family life were pieces of thread, knotted together into a very satisfying narrative.  A VERY ‘magical’ read!

I want to see this movie!

Blue Glass

We wrote cards and letters once and a while, Pauline to me…me to Pauline.  I held her fast in my heart from the time she  taught me to draw; she taught me to see.  When I think about the fragments that are written and contained here, in a floating capsule of the ever-sparking information highway, I know that much of this has been inspired by Pauline.  I collect blue bottles and in the morning when the soft light dazzles them, I think of my teacher.  Late in the evening, when I pull up to the house, I feel happy because the coloured glass reflections glow and move and make me smile.  There are people who come into our thoughts often.  Pauline is one of those, for me.

She kept blue bottles on her window sills.

Painting by Robert Melville: Blue Glass Looking Out on Kootenay Lake

Happy Birthday, My Beautiful Daughter!

Alright…it just might be that I won’t have the chance to give my sweet child a birthday hug today!  However, I WAS able to hook up with her auntie…picked up a drive-through McDonald’s  ‘seniors’ coffee (my FIRST seniors ANYTHING and a big purchase at 82 cents a cup…joking) and then headed for the ridge for a romp in the wind!  An awesome time sharing a few memories and so much gratitude!

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. Gustave Flaubert


Tuesday’s Painting: The Tree of Life

My readers are likely wondering when this wall mural is going to be completed…it’s coming!! I continue to embellish and paint into the negative spaces and today Marilyn worked to create a rich sense of warm violet/red soil beneath the tree.  You will know that the piece is completed once I paint the Omega symbol in the bottom right of the picture plane.

Dylan Christopher

Today, ten-year-old Dylan was welcomed into the space and adhered his angel to the wall, shown here just to the left of his head.  I told him that in twenty-five years, he will be able to bring his friends and family into this space and explain that this is where he stood in 2012 and posed for this photograph for me.  Thank you, Dylan.  I think that his angel is a bit of a caricature…so whimsical and lovely.

More than One Hundred Angels Contributed by Children

The Joy of My Life

The content of this post is self-centered.   I dare not count how many times, I type, “I”.  Far too often, I fear!  Something inside me aches to write about ME, however, and so I am going forward.

I treasure my life these days.  That’s because I have joy in what I do.  I paint because it brings me joy…not because I need to meet a deadline or I have to achieve my quota before the weekend.  I don’t paint for approval.  For years, (more years than I care to remember) I set my alarm for four a.m. and rolled out of bed, painting with oils for three hours before the rest of the family got up.  Most nights, after the dishes were done and the children were tucked into bed, I pulled out the canvases again…working sometimes until midnight.  I carried on like that and raised children at the same time. (reading stories, carving pumpkins, making bunny cakes,  sewing costumes, observing Advent, cooking meals)


I taught school full time and completed report cards four times a year for thirty years.  At the core, I loved painting, but on the surface, I often thought about all of those wonderful things that I hadn’t the time for…hadn’t the energy for.  I watched other people live their lives and wondered what they were all doing, while I painted.

Tree of Life 2010-2012

These days, I paint because it is my passion.  I love watching the ‘magic’ of it.  I feel giddy about it.  It is not my work, but my play.  Sometimes it is so beautiful that it leaves me breathless…the  ‘doing of it is’ beautiful; the art isn’t necessarily…but, the ‘doing of it’ always is.

I pick up other people’s garbage.  This gives me joy.  Yes!  It’s endless and there will always be more.  But it is a satisfying feeling to see the land after I’ve been there, again and again.  I know, at the least, that I have given something to the heart of the planet.

One Bag: April 24, 2012

I write.  I write poems and descriptions of all sorts.  I write letters and prayers.  The more I write, the more I know how much words have always meant to me.  Written words came and come easily, always, and I treasure them.

Taking photographs of common-place objects, settings and people, gives me joy.  I like to take down a visual history of things around me.   I see value in archives and this is just who I am and I delight in that.

By the Tracks

Now, I make short movies.   I like to explore and think about animation and what fun it must be to choose to do this all of the time and at a greater scale.  I like that this is something that once I would have been fearful to try, but on my own, I have discovered and experienced.

I spend much time outdoors; observing the sky and enjoying nature.  The past few years, I have especially enjoyed watching the variety of birds that are in our area.  I didn’t take notice of them before.  But having taken a huge interest in endangered species since 2006, I am mindful of many more things and grow in knowledge about birds every day.   We can’t be activists for all things, but we can educate ourselves a little bit every day and live consciously.

April 24, 2012: At one point, no fewer than 30 Yellow-headed Blackbirds in a Tree

If I hadn’t made the decision to own a dog again, I wouldn’t be outside in all of the different seasons.  When it rains, I put on my gum boots.  When it snows, I bundle up.  Like clockwork, I am outdoors with Max delighting in the silent mornings while so many others are sleeping and again in the late afternoon.  I have explored most of the parks of our city this way and feel enriched because of it.

Max and I visit Kootenay Lake

I read a book each week.  Inside the front cover of each book, I write a summary of my thoughts about that book and I write the date and my name and my place of residence.  One day someone might pick up that book and wonder about the inscription in the front. 

About Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat, I wrote...

I am thrilled that I am able to read.  My mother loved to read.  Now, with alzheimer’s disease, she can’t.  I am grateful each time I hold a book in my hands and can think about the story, the characters and enter into the settings.  As I have typed this paragraph, I know that my mother motivates me more than anyone right now…her life tells me that I have only time to fill my life with joy.  I haven’t time to waste on things that bring me less.


I am digging as deep as is possible into my faith;   understanding and expression of my Catholicity.   I want to know my Creator-God.  I want to be a friend to him.


I treasure my friendships and my family…so many good men and women who have made my life a joy!  My children make me proud and as I watch them grow, I treasure the memory of who they were as wee ones and who they are today.

Proud Mom of the Bride!

This is a time of wonderment.  This is the joy of my life.

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time


April 23, 2012 4:30 p.m. Weather: 26 degrees, sunshine, cloud, terrific wind.  Saturday, this week, marks the end of my stewardship of this particular location, Frank’s Flats, edging on South Fish Creek Recreational Association.  This afternoon was a spectacular time for heading over to the flats to case out the status of the park for my Canada-Wide Pitch-In team who will be coming out with me to celebrate my last pickin’.

Boxes: Everywhere!

As I approached on foot, I was devastated by the  absolute wreck of the slopes…strewn with empty pizza boxes and Booster Juice product boxes.  It took me multiple trips up and down the hill to retrieve all of the cardboard that evidently had been chucked while a group was in party mode.

And MORE Boxes!

It appears to me that there was some involvement with Booster Juice,  and I’m wondering if they found any of their cartons of product to be missing on one of their recent deliveries.

Twenty Large Booster Juice Cartons


Slices of the Cold War

It’s a strange thing for a lady, living in the west…a teacher…an artist…a bit of a writer…to be so moved by these slices of life as represented in a 7 minute slide show, photos provided by  These photos represent a very specific and impressionable time of my life.  I lived with my family during the Cold War hay day in North Bay, Ontario.

Reflections on a Changed Landscape

Clouds Gathering to the East

April 19, 2012 4:30 p.m. Weather 12 degrees, some wind, intermittent cloud.  Findings: The Same: Again and Again  Now it is a matter of maintaining the park area.  I learned from the orientation that now the birds are settling in near the shores and that if I see any flushing at all from the ducks/geese out from under the cattails and other vegetation, then it wouldn’t be right to disturb their space, so I’m not pulling plastics out of the pond anymore.  I spent an awesome walk, reflecting and just enjoying the outdoors.  Max spent much of the time on leash as he LOVES the water!

The desire to write grows with writing. Desiderius Erasmus