March 25, 2015: Rumble House

I thought I’d attempt a sketch of a British Home Child on Wednesday night.  Given my connection to this story through my Great Grandfather John Moors and two of his sisters, Grace and Alice, I thought that this might be a subject I would like to explore sooner than later.  I have become very fond of a group of descendants through social media and through connection with people here in Calgary.

I decided to choose as a reference, the face of a boy that appeared as a vintage photograph on the Families of British Home Children / British Child Migrants page.  I chose Edward Seery. Edward Seery was sent out of Liverpool to Canada in 1909.  It seems his brother took the same journey in 1898.  These children were indentured servants in Canada and worked very difficult hours.  Most stories, especially the idea of being separated from all loved ones and finding yourself in an alien culture, were very sad.

I arrived at Rumble House at 7:30 (late again), but finished this first sketch in an hour.  I’ve got no history on Edward Seery and the sketch is not accurate in terms of its LIKENESS, so I brought the piece home and will try another more accurate portrait and post it here.  The facial features in this present sketch are all wrong.

BHC Edward Seery 2  His brother James Christopher Seery came in 1898I’m interested in contacting descendants who are interested in allowing an artist to explore their family narratives from this difficult time in history.  I would like to begin with Edward.  I’m still thinking about the media that I will be using, especially the type of surface I will paint/collage, but I wish to create a body of work that somehow addresses this potent moment in Canadian history.  My opinion only…but, I don’t think enough has been said about this and art DOES speak.  I would like the surface of the paintings to somehow mimic the subject matter.  I will be incorporating text into all of the pieces.

British Home Child March 25 2015 Edward Seery

Photo Credit: Andrea Llewellyn

I was feeling pretty mellow/tired on Wednesday night, but my heart was warmed by the presence of so many artists who I have grown to know and love.  One day, Aaron, I will snapple a piece!

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Meeting Jean Richardson

Jean-short-for-Eugenia, a retired nurse, came to be with the grade three classes yesterday and left me, both fascinated, and in awe of her passion for eggs and her organization as a workshop presenter.  The class was informative, seamless and so much fun!

This is something that Jean has always enjoyed doing with her husband, Al.  Her eyes lit up as she mentioned him and their shared love for Eggs-Quisites.  They’ve been going out into schools and organizations to share their experience with different aged children and adults for almost thirty years.  When they come out to your school, they supply dyes, books, wax and amazing exemplars of this traditional craft.  They even manufacture their own kistky!  After a fascinating history of Pysanky, Jean shared a hands on adventure through the application of beeswax in preparation for six different dye baths.

I enjoyed the stories that Jean shared with us and the children adored her.  Such a gentle and truly lovely person!  Thank you, Jean!

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Threes!

I haven’t written many blog posts lately!  I’m very busy teaching a four month grade three contract these days.  I began the last week of February.  I really enjoy my students, but we are super busy!  Each student, taking on an altar ego and the mantle of a super hero means that school is a very busy place.  When not a super hero, then there are always the roles of mathematician, engineer and wildlife biologist to fulfill!  It’s a busy life we live.

As a result of all of the ‘busy’, my body flops onto the red sofa shortly after dinner and sometimes I even nod off.  I just can’t even believe what heroes teachers are to take on such a huge part in children’s lives.  Since retirement, I think I’ve become one of the most outspoken advocates of teachers I know.  It’s one thing to support teachers in theory; it’s another to know and understand what they are living each and every day.

In the morning we have quiet focus time on the mat…I log onto Duke Farm’s Live Eagle Cam, much as I did during my grade one contract a couple of years ago.  I made up a booklet that was grade specific, using the content provided for a higher level study.  Duke Farms provides a wealth of information.  This year we have two eggs on the nest and the weather has been brutal in the east.  We have some sad moments as we observe female or male sitting until their own bodies are absolutely covered by snow.  I think I captured a screen shot one day…yes…here’s the nest on March 1 and that snow crept up a few times so that only the adult’s beak was exposed.  The children seem to be enjoying observing life on the nest and I am holding out hope that the eggs will successfully hatch over the coming week.  Here are the blog posts directly from Duke Farms.

March 1, 2015 Duke's FarmsI have a few photos of my little nest, but it hardly captures the intensity of the space when the children enter and begin swirling through their day.  There is never a pause.  There is so much to learn.

In the morning, each morning, for just about ten minutes, I read aloud from the BFG by Roald Dahl.  When I asked my adult daughter what she remembered about grade three, she told me that she remembered Roald Dahl and all of the wonderful books that he wrote.  And so, just for wind down time, the children and I are sharing those words.

The BFG makes us laugh…and he shares some very intelligent, however nonsensical, words.

quote-dreams-is-very-mystical-things-the-bfg-said-human-beans-is-not-understanding-them-at-all-not-roald-dahl-222445DSC_3020 DSC_3019Books for inventions and schematics of every kind…this week…a dream making machine.  INVENTORS! DSC_3014

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Each pod of desks is a city in India (Mumbai and New Delhi) or the Ukraine (Kiev and Odessa) or Peru (Lima) or Tunisia (Tunis).  The students are just getting their pavilions researched and constructed.  This makes it very easy for calling up a rep from each city to pick up things or deliver things to their group.  They share responsibilities and connect it to their place in the world.  Sorry for the out-of-focus photo…will try to get a better archive.  Most of the art has been collaborative to this point.  This Klimt tree will be evolving over the seasons.  A place to publish descriptive words and elaborative detail.

DSC_3013 DSC_3012 DSC_3004Students collect bling for all sorts of everything and post them on their plain-jane brown paper wrap Super Three frames.  By end of year, these will be the most highly decorated frames in existence. The students are wildly motivated.

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DSC_3009 DSC_3007 DSC_3006 My brother and father both sent explanations of their military medals and ribbons so that I could share with the students what an honour it is to be decorated. I showed these to my students and explained what a sense of pride is felt with such achievements.  They were very excited about the possibility, as Super Threes, of receiving such as these. While having gold star days are an every day occurrence, receiving a ribbon is more special and rare.  I’ve got a huge stash of them and jot down the reason for each ribbon presentation on my note cards.  The children have to then share with me what they are going to do to earn the next.  Again, every child receives recognition and praise.

Dad's Medals DSC_2642Our class medals and ribbons.??????????Our gathering place.

DSC_3002We keep many different publications going…books of THREE (a place to look at why Three is such a powerful number), WHEN-THEN books When__________ (teacher provides an action) Then___________(what action results, giving students opportunities to explore how choices and results connect) and Save the Day booklets (students explore how they want to use their super powers for good).

DSC_3034?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? DSC_3027The students are engineers. After the students tested for stability in a large, medium and short cylinder, they had opportunity to explore how to increase stability.  Whoosh!  They are some sort of inventors.  At the end of the frenzy, they decided that the base of a structure should be wider and heavier and include some sort of connecting material in order to be more stable. :0)

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Saturday Morning

The air was beautiful this morning.  After a hot cup of coffee and Max’s visit with the vet, we headed for Frank’s Flats.  Along the way, I noticed three other ‘pickers’, three men looking for revenue.  I also appreciate that there are some like-minded people who are, at the very least, keeping items like bottles and cans out of the landfill.  But, what I’d really like to see on a nice-weather-day, are families and individuals out picking litter.

I remember a long time ago, seeing these sorts of photos and documentaries and they changed the way I thought about my community environment.

Images like these ones brought to mind an interaction that I shared with students many times along the span of my thirty year teaching career.  If I asked a student to pick up a piece of litter off of the floor, the response was, “That isn’t my granola bar rapper.”  I got to thinking that we’re all like that.  We think that our responsibility to our environment is not to act as a collective.  (If I did not drop that waste, then I will judge the anonymous person who DID, but I will not pick it up.)  We need to, at some point, take positive movement forward as a collective.

It is fine and well to judge the citizens of China or other countries and continents, but we must begin to take a good look at our own nation, our cities and our neighbourhoods.  We use social media of every sort to stand in judgement of other places for their consumption and disgusting waste, but we are blinded by our own.

Just this morning, this is what I saw…

????????????????????“This is why I pay taxes.”

There’s a healthy attitude; don’t you think?

There is a very dangerous exercise that takes place because the status and amount of litter that is gathering along our road sides is becoming so grave.  There is no longer the person-power to pick all of this first and so the cities send out mowers to mow over the stuff, pulverizing it to the point that it becomes invisible to us, but ever so much more dangerous to our ecosystems.

I had to write from my experience today because I was just so broken by the sad state of a single park in a very huge city.  With head down, however, I found a man’s wallet today and dropped it off to the police station, where it was being claimed by its owner.  Little moments of goodness happen as I collect up one large bag of litter every single day.  I’m hoping that others might resolve to, on occasion, do the same.

Ending with a poem…and Max’s today-photograph.

Home

The young man,
arm around his girlfriend,
makes eye contact
and then steers
her in the opposite
direction.

Away from me.

An educator,
a professional,
I suppose I wore the cloak
of someone
living

on the margin.
A woman passes by quickly.
I bend down and pick
another Tim Horton’s cup.
Saturday morning latte.

Do you live in a house of brick?

When the wind stops blowing,
some can rebuild…
a home of cardboard,
pulling the Dorito bags and
the Granola packages in around them.

Tuck into endless
heaps of plastic bags.
Use them for a pillow.

The nesting ducks at the pond’s edge
can gracefully move
through water lined with
straws and cigarette packages.
The peregrines, when they return,
will fly, regal, over all.

It is all about someone else.
It is all about life being busy.
I’ve got only so much time on weekends.
The city needs to deal with the homeless.
The city needs to deal with the trash.
Give them fines.
Do something else.
If it doesn’t make you happy,
why are you doing it?

I’m not happy.  But, I’m going to do it.

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User Groups: Community of Shawnessy, Bishop O’Byrne High School, South Fish Creek Recreational Center, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Jugo Juice, Wendy’s, Michael’s, Subway Sandwiches, Calgary Public Library

Today’s Pick offered up for Loretta Young, my beautiful friend.  Will always miss you, but my love is forever and travels with and around you.  Rest in Peace.

 

 

March 11, 2015: Rumble House

I wanted to ease into my evening at Rumble.  I didn’t want to neglect Max or my every-evening litter pick up at Frank’s Flats.  I also wanted to eat something.

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So, with all of those things attended to, I headed north on my epic drive to the intimate, warm and magical environment that is the Rumble House.

Bronwyn Schuster had brought to mind the idea that sometimes I might paint on a more intimate panel, instead of the large sized format that is so typical of me.  And so, I worked on a beautiful 8 x 8 inch cribbed panel, perfect for fitting inside someone’s purse.

Arriving late, at 7:30, I sat down next to Priscilla who was sitting in a comfy chair next to me, busily crocheting/knitting on a self-invented slipper.  I mentioned that I was going to paint a meditation.  She mentioned how much she enjoys sitting near her son, Rich, so that she can hear the things he says to others as they walk by.  Priscilla also said that she is in awe as she watches his paintings reveal themselves.

I was more focused on the community of people that surrounded me than anything else.  Michael is always so cheerful with his greetings and it sets the tone for a wonderful experience. Paula and Brittney were busy creating their first collaborative piece, a mix of collage elements and paint. It was good to talk to Mike and to share a bit about our sadness and the loss of our friend, Loretta. Leenie!  It was so good to see her smiling face and to be around her energy!  I had opportunity to speak with Asa…hadn’t had a chance to catch up with him in a long time.  Jo and Jeff were tucked away in a small safe place, collaborating on a beautiful piece that reminded me of a book I’m reading about a mother and her daughter, pomegranates and seeds and Persephone.  Louise was back…hadn’t seen her for awhile. What a special touch that she asked me as she left if I had a ride south.  (I’ll never forget the first time we met.) I chatted with James and Enriquito and finally reconnected with Jennifer.  She was painting an awesome bird of prey.  In fact, everyone painting in our section of the space, was painting in a warm/hot palette of colour.  That intrigued me.  I felt/feel nested in this place with like-minded and diverse people.  I like it.

I set about painting my meditation.  I incorporated text in graphite first, a piece from Jewel

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(sic)

As I go about each day, picking up the plastics, the discarded cups and bags from stores, the packaging and flyers that are strewn into natural environments where birds lay their nests; coyotes, their dens; ground squirrels, their complex webs of tunnels, I feel a sense of nurturing fill me up.  I wish to create a safe nest for all.  I wish, and optimistically so, that all human beings would open their eyes to our self-destruction.  We are very lackadaisical about the landscape as we rush by, getting to the next place.  And given that we can not see beneath the surface, the oceans, more than any place on earth, are crying out to be protected.

A nest meditation seemed the right thing to paint.  Because the time with my Rumble pieces is so immediate, I practice the rituals of writing on the back of each piece and then archiving the work by taking a photo or two.  The process of painting at the house is like a bright flame lighting up and then extinguishing, all in two hours.  Funny, on this particular night, I did not sign my piece and I did not photograph it.  I’m posting a photo or two here of other works that have explored this theme of nesting.  Thank you to Sam who purchased my Wednesday nest containing three blue eggs, at auction.

P1140481 P1140505Thanks for the image, Sam!

Three Eggs and NestI treasure my place on this jewel of a planet.  I am only one…but, wish in this brief moment, to make an impact.  Here are some of artist-souls who impact me.

Jennifer

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DSC_2886Rich (I never get a good picture of him)

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DSC_2836What a place!  We’d love to see you next Wednesday night.

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A Family That Lays Down Track is a Happy Family

DSC_2734I’m feeling elated.  A 6:30 a.m. drive, delivering my son to work…sleepy-head chatting…setting the digital clock in the car…making observations of Deerfoot Trail at this time of day.  A nice way to experience daylight savings time!  Max and I stopped on the way home and stepped into the center of a huge field of crispy dry grass.  As he bounded to and fro, I had time with the sky, the stars, bright studs in the darkness, revealing themselves more clearly, the longer I was present.  I am so graced by morning.

Seated in the sixth row pew each Sunday, I have the chance to connect with my friend, Johanne. I seem to have a little home in that row, having always shared it with people like Carol and Adam and for years, Johanne, when she travels from Sudbury to make time for her Calgary children. Another beautiful homily was delivered by Father Cristino-Bouvette at Mass and such grace received in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

So many reasons today, to feel grateful…

I think that some of the joy I feel today is a result of the evening spent with my children.  Family dinner was changed to Saturday and my daughter and her husband hosted.  On the menu, a wonderful Jamie Oliver light caesar salad minus the anchovies.  It is an excellent recipe!  Try it!!  We then put together our own home made pizzas on Cobs pizza bases.  Topped with a lovely sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushroom, roasted bell peppers and artichoke, these were amazing.  Yummers!

We followed good eats with a game of Ticket to Ride and all seemed well with the world!  I knew I was returning home to a nice smelling dog, given the earlier Saturday afternoon shampooing at the Car-Dog Wash.  A weekend doesn’t get much better than this!

 

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Rumble House: March 4, 2015

I wonder how other women seem to have their ________together, especially those with young children, a career and outside-of-work volunteering and exercise programs.  I took on a contract, teaching grade three, beginning last Tuesday.  You’ve been wondering why I haven’t been writing?  Why my poetry response to each day has gone to the wayside?  Well, let me tell you, it’s a crazy life we’re living; crazy-busy, that is!  Max is still getting out to Frank’s Flats each day when I arrive home, dragging my feet and tempted to slouch on the red sofa!  We’re still out there.  And…we’re out in the middle of a field at 6:30 every morning and I drill at least twenty Frizbee throws into the darkness while Max, like a bullet, whizzes into the abyss.  These two daily events are the routines I can manage.  All else seems to be crumbling.  I laugh as I type.

Yesterday morning, I stood in line for the photo copy machine. You try to minimize the use of paper, but truly, paper is a blessing when it comes to a full day with grade three!  There was Lina (perhaps spelled wrong).  She was/is beautiful!  I was taking pause (a wait in a photo copy line just may be your only pause all day long) when I noticed how put-together she was.  A pony tail was lifted to just that perfect spot on the back of her head, speaking of youth and optimism.  YES!  Pony tails DO speak!  Accessories, colours, textures and the shoes!  I asked her, “How do you do it?”  I’m not going to spill the beans on her particular life at this time, but let’s just say, it’s a busy life she lives and while she says that she’s bubbled up inside, she expresses herself with friendliness and calm.

This gave me something to think about during the day.

Before I headed for Rumble House (late, as per usual), I captured a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror, as I washed my hands.  I looked at my reflection.  Those eyes spoke to me.  (not going to write down what they said)

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And while I was so so tempted to recline and find a good Netflix binge for the coming two hours, instead I walked to the computer in search of a reference image of a glam girl…I wanted to paint some concept of beauty, whether facade or authentic classical beauty…I wanted to explore the beauty-feminine, thinking about all of those amazing women who are so diligent in their lives to become ‘the archetype’ full-on.  I printed off a reference and headed out.

vintage womanArriving at 7:30, I grasped one of the concepts determined at the wheel…’what inspires you’ and the one and a half hour painting frenzy began.  I didn’t get a chance to say hello to Paula.  I was excited to meet up with friend, Bronwyn, from East End.  I parked my easel next to Dawn.  Priscilla came by and showed me an awesome book of portraits, flipping pages and pointing out beautiful contrasts and powerful black and whites. I met Miriam, James Young and Anna.  Enriquito gave me a big hug, as did Rich.  A couple of very friendly Shaw guys came by and interviewed me about the community,  Beatles music played in the background and voices buzzed.  There was energy and life and creation.

Thanks to Jess for purchasing this one at auction.

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At auction, I saw that many of the artists captured the ideas that were floating my boat.

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Painting by Bronwyn Schuster

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