Rumble House July 29, 2015: One of the Glamour Girls

Marie Magdalene “Marlene” Dietrich became the subject of my Rumble House painting last evening.  It was a lovely crowd who showed up after Rich and Jess being featured in both a Metro piece and a CBC live painting experience this past week.

I’ve done a few little sketches based on the 30s ladies since Rumble opened.  I always thought of my own mother as being pretty glamorous, absolutely loving the evenings in the 50s when she would dawn her satin and crinolines and join Dad for her New Years Eve celebrations.  I loved how she penciled over her eyebrows and traced her lips with her lipstick. There was never a woman who worked harder in her home and with her children, but she could seamlessly transform herself for those special evenings, sewing every outfit so that it looked store-bought.  I remember when she was pregnant for my brother Stuart, how she sewed a black accordion pleated top in shimmering black and edged it in rabbit’s fur.  She wore a simple black pearl pendant. Oh my goodness, she was beautiful!

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Young Mom edited  Katherine Mary Moors in Foreground

I liked the particular approach to photography at the time.  In fact, last evening, photographer, Francis A. Willey was in attendance at Rumble House and completed one of a series of confessional paintings.  His photographs are well known around Calgary and he has achieved international recognition for his diverse talents.  I’ve met him at a number of events in the city and it was great to see him out.  His photographs include a body of work that features this particular sort of romanticism that I am writing about.

Photo Credit: Francis A. Willey

Photo Credit: Francis A. Willey

I chose Marlene Dietrich as a subject because she is such an icon of the period, however, in only an hour and fifteen minutes, the piece is a gesture of what the reference demanded.  I liked the process of moving quickly from the darkest darks into the light, although, the sketch is hard edged in comparison to a studio piece that would involve the application of more layers and washes.  I liked working beside Melanie who was working on a portrait in water colour pencils, with tremendous success.  She had a very positive energy and sitting next to the turn table, listening to hypnotic and sexy tunes, we had a beautiful evening of it.  Thanks to friend, Bana, for her purchase of this piece at auction.

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Politics & Art: Rumble House July 22, 2015

Today, in Calgary, we experienced extreme weather.  I know that we react excessively to changing weather, but today I feel compelled to describe that I, in fact, for the first time in my sixty years, saw a funnel cloud and watched it, ominous, in the western sky and that I did feel that what I was seeing was apocalyptic in nature.  To know that there is such power in weather is a revelation when it is your own experience and not a feature on a news story elsewhere.  I watched golf ball sized hail drop on my yard, bashing trees and creating a sound I have never heard.  It was a day of amazing moments.

A beautiful friend offered to drive me down to Rumble House this evening and to pick me up again, at the end of the auction.  I have been more than a little disappointed that during my healing, I have not been able to drive anywhere. This offer was so generous and I am more than grateful that she would do this for me.  I feel well-loved. Thank you, Kirsten.

There were a lot of reasons why I wanted to incorporate the poem, Of Politics & Art into my piece tonight.  For one, I have been recently sorting through some new and residual material on my grief journey…the incomprehensible loss of my mother.  Everything about this particular poem resonates for me….the teacher, the reading of Melville’s Moby Dick, the description of the community of whales, likely bubble feeding, the females and their young…loss…storms…the passage of time and the passage of life.

by Norman Dubie

Here, on the farthest point of the peninsula
The winter storm
Off the Atlantic shook the schoolhouse.
Mrs. Whitimore, dying
Of tuberculosis, said it would be after dark
Before the snowplow and bus would reach us.

She read to us from Melville.

How in an almost calamitous moment
Of sea hunting
Some men in an open boat suddenly found themselves
At the still and protected center
Of a great herd of whales
Where all the females floated on their sides
While their young nursed there. The cold frightened whalers
Just stared into what they allowed
Was the ecstatic lapidary pond of a nursing cow’s
One visible eyeball.
And they were at peace with themselves.

Today I listened to a woman say
That Melville might
Be taught in the next decade. Another woman asked, “And why not?”
The first responded, “Because there are
No women in his one novel.”

And Mrs. Whitimore was now reading from the Psalms.
Coughing into her handkerchief. Snow above the windows.
There was a blue light on her face, breasts and arms.
Sometimes a whole civilization can be dying
Peacefully in one young woman, in a small heated room
With thirty children
Rapt, confident and listening to the pure
God rendering voice of a storm.

A wonderful reflection on the poem may be found here.  The writer states that he/she has not read Moby Dick by Herman Melville.  I have.  The description of whales and their behaviours are very detailed and elegant, if not sometimes, extremely so, and one can not help but ‘know’ whales at the conclusion of the book.

When I set about on tonight’s piece, I began by writing the poem into a circular format, with thoughts of air and breath…life.  I included a small piece of Chopin music…music…life…the whale song.  “The blue…blue light on her face, breasts and arms.”

I depicted a family of whales…thinking in terms of personification and the self.

A very personal painting, purchased by a visitor who had stopped and shared a brief conversation with me about music…thank you, Lois of Choiceland, Saskatchewan.

It was a beautiful and funny night.  I loved the conversation on our drive.  I enjoyed the many conversations on site, the colour, laughter, layers of music, the grapes and the olive crackers, the stage, the jokes and always, the friendship.  I will sleep well tonight.

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The Sunshine of Your Smile

The Sunshine of Your Smile” was a British popular song published in London in 1913 just before the First World War by Francis, Day and Hunter. The lyrics were by Leonard Cooke and the music by Lilian Ray.[1]

My Gramma, Florence Moors, used to love to play little tunes on her small organ in the front room of the woolen mill.  The songs that she enjoyed included Aura Lee and two other gospel tunes. (will have to gather the titles from my cousins)

I found a little card in Gramma’s writing where she wrote out the words to The Sunshine of Your Smile.  Urban legend has it that she wrote the words down to share with my grand father.  I’m sure that she had Grampa in mind.

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Finding a Stash of Old Photos

I’ve written before about photography and how it’s changed.  It wasn’t always this way, a sort of obsession about recording ourselves, our food and our experiences.  Digital photography has changed how we see the world and how we see ourselves.  I had fun today because I found a small set of photographs from 1978, all taken with what was called an instant camera.  I couldn’t see the results until months after I returned home from my experience.  I picked up these and other photos, in slide format, from a drug store.  I didn’t know that I had purchased ‘slide film’.  Sigh…I know.  It’s different.

Outward Bound…an amazing and forever-memorable experience.  Here are a few photos.  I love that through the years and through the conversion of these to a few photographs, I have such fond and wondrous memories.

A three day solo…began with the construction of my shelter…a process I completed just as the sun went down.  I grabbed a quick photo of that moment…although I had no idea what the image would look like until some months later. No filters and no photo shop.

Outward Bound 1978 Saying Good Night to the SunIn the morning, I explored my neighbourhood after dusting off the spiders that were warming on the inside of my plastic lean-to.  A glorious home and a lovely rest after weeks of athletic training and climbing.  I had three lemon flavoured candies.  I decided to eat one each evening as a ritual.  Funny…but fasting is the very thing that busted the nerve of some of my peers.  It meant nothing to me to go without sustenance.  I wrote.  I warmed myself on the heat of that great boulder.

Outward Bound 1978 Solo Lean ToThe rock was beautiful beautiful granite…so different from climbing crumble.  This photo was taken just minutes before heading up my first chimney.  In looking back, I’m glad it captured the essence of the rock.

Outward Bound 1978 Before the Chimney 3Looking at the view…quite something.  Here, a view of Amphitheater Mountain in Washington State.  Quite a different sort of photograph than appears on-line today.

Outward Bound Amphiteater 1978 2Two of my lady-friends…I remember Sue is to the far right and Marianne in the middle.  We have reached a summit here.  Heck if I can remember the name of the mountain…we climbed 11 mountains to their summit in 31 days.

Outward Bound 1978 Summit I’ve shared this one before and I’ve written about it.  I’m glad that I located some others.  They make me smile, especially as I look down at this cast.

06-06-2011 5;15;38 PMIn my youth, I have very few photos…no selfies for this chick, but archives like this are enough.

Take Out!

Getting out of the house is heaven…even if it is during a wind/rain storm!

Sensory overload occurs when you enter into the world, having spent many weeks in the same space in a state of frustration some days and in a state of acceptance during others.  The experience makes me think about our Calgarians who have no family members in town and who are hospitalized or unable to get out of their apartments.  It makes me think about the isolation that illness, addiction, poverty and age can cause.  It’s important that we learn who these people are and ‘take them out’.

This is one of the compelling reasons I continue to be upset about the closure of the Golden Age Club in the East Village.  While the folks in the core are resilient and will find their way through all of this, thanks to the leadership and guidance and connection of such people as Wendy Lees, the decision DID create an obstacle and I’m thinking that we can choose to be open doors through which others can pass or we can be walls that have to be climbed.

Yesterday, Val opened a door for me.  We headed out to Chestermere to visit friend, Wendy and to deliver Take-Out.  The weather created a bit of an adventure, as did our search for Thai food on International Ave.  In the end, we chose a random Vietnamese restaurant, made a selection of food and then headed east to Chestermere.

Conversation with two of my sister-friends, while the wind howled outside, was very comforting and after all, I fell into a state of sleepiness.  Sensory overload. When i got home, I curled up into a deep sleep.

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Thank you, Val, Wendy and Darren for a beautiful lunch.

Drives to Appointments

This whole series of short posts is about how I hope to remember to help others.  When life is such a whirlwind, it’s easy to become spun up in your own life, so much that you don’t remember that there are very practical ways that you can help others.

Naomi and daughter, Erin, are forever-friends.  I remember watching them perform as colour guard together…such beautiful and energetic young women!  Now, both married, they continue to share their journeys as women in a very different world.  Recently, Naomi has enjoyed the birth of her second babe, Jasper. We are grateful for Jasper. Well, on the day that I did a call out for a ride to my doctor, Naomi and Jasper made the time.

kindness-quotes-hd-wallpaper-26Off we went in early morning, in the rain, to Forest Lawn.  Thank you for your offer of a ride, Naomi.  I loved our conversation…and all to ourselves, I feel like I got to know you more for the very first time.  I love you and I’m grateful for your kindness.

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Meeting Steve

My daughter and son-in-law have spoken for a long time about this wonderful cat sitter they employ while taking trips out of town.  His name is Steve.

Well, something I’ve found to be really ‘good’ for my heart is knowing that Max-man is getting one really GOOD walk each day.So, I went to the Red Rover Pet Care website and decided to ask Steve if he had time in his day to meet with Max. Servicing clients in the south, Steve said, “Yes,” and this experience has been amazing for Max and for me.

I treasure my connection with Max.  Typically, we share wonderful times twice a day exploring nature and being outdoors in every type of weather.  It’s been a huge frustration to let go of that connection. Unable to be off leash due to his knee injury, Steve gives Max an athletic walk on leash each day and returns after an hour with a very happy border collie!  Knowing that your dog-friend is well cared for eases frustration and brings peace of mind.  I have learned that if a friend is injured, I can support them by caring for their dog-friends.

These photos were snapped after speaking the words, “Max, Steve is coming.”  Other dog-walkers for Max’s second walk these last many days…I appreciate you with all of my heart…Cayley, James, Erin and Doug.

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Kath's Canon July 18, 2015 Max Dog Walker Steve 012 cropped Kath's Canon July 18, 2015 Max Dog Walker Steve 011-croppedAn hour long walk…and ten minutes later.

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Take Pause and Read

When Max-Man was diagnosed with an ACL injury and it looked like we were going to be slowing life down for the summer, I went out and purchased two books; The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo and House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.  I thought since I would be in the house so much, dealing with plumbing and floor renovations, this afforded me a wonderful opportunity to nest and sort through the clutter.

Well, it turns out that House of Leaves is a VERY ‘heady’ book, more so than I am accustomed to reading and I’d say that I typically enjoy conceptual reading.  I had just finished The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje and the last book I could possibly be drawn to was something contemplative.  Besides, it was on July 2nd that I broke my foot.  The heat, the fracture and the House of Leaves were not a nice combination.  So, that one is tucked away on my book shelf for the short term…good winter reading.

Marie Kondo’s book is an easy quick read and is a great resource for making some quick decisions about a space and objects that give you joy.  Unfortunately, right now, I have stacks of categories in the works everywhere because I can no longer scoot and flit through my house with energy and instead, clump clomp around like a person in leg irons.  Everything, for now, is in slow motion.

Well, it turns out that books are coming to me via various angels and shared cups of tea and coffee gatherings.  This is a way that I will remember to love others who are similarly stuck at home.  I’ve had beautiful visits at the feast table and at the red kitchen table with friends from a whole number of contexts in my life.  Some have come by with pastries.  Some have come by with muffins and some with books.  I’m grateful.

Presently, I’m reading a fiction set in Newfoundland.  Sweetland by Michael Crummey is one of those books that moves seemlessly, without effort, and I feel cozy and wonderful when I pick the book up and disappear into the story.  My friends would still remark that this is a ‘downer’, but it is elegant and the words carry me away.

Thanks to those of you who have thought to bring me books or, as my father and sister-friend Ramona did, mail me books.  Reading causes a connection with other stories.  It is good to take your head away from what you think is an obstacle and to realize the huge situations others endure, even if those situations are purely fiction.

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Talk of word search puzzle books and the ‘correct’ way to circle your words.

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Receive something...give something away.  Grab bag of things sorted out of one of my categories...books.

Receive something…give something away. Grab bag of things sorted out of one of my categories…books.

I am blessed by family and friends.  I love you.

Getting Out to “The Cheapies”

I felt like I was in heaven the evening Mary picked me up for a movie.  Of the three picks Mary made, I chose The Water Diviner directed by Russell Crowe just because I knew that Canyon Meadows ‘cheapies’ would mean the easiest access, the smallest crowds and the shorter drive.

The Water DivinerSensory overload…but so so awesome!  The smell of popcorn, the lights, the conversation…all of it amazing!  For months now, I’ve archived my experiences of nature at Frank’s Flats.  Spending so many hours in my cocoon, I felt to be a butterfly…well, that might be a slight exaggeration.

We bought our kid’s pack…small popcorn, drink and candy…and headed in to theater 10.  With Stampede happening, the parking was handy and very few people were out to the movies.

The movie opens and we see the protagonist, the father, with divining rods…a beautiful moment as I remembered my father, out in Frankford, demonstrating this very phenomena with me on one of my summer trips out east.

I liked this movie a lot.  I found it thoughtfully and beautifully created.  The cinematography, colour, sense of light and sound were all sensitively done. The aspects of war were unsettling, dark and very uncomfortable.  The narrative, rooted in truth, was powerful.  I fell in love with the textures and images of Turkey.

It was good to get out of the house and be carried away somewhere in my head.   I think this review of the film is a candid and accurate one and I suppose ‘melodrama’ is a natural fit for me recently.  I’d recommend this movie and I’m grateful to Mary for driving and sharing this time with me.

Pancakes

It took this experience to understand that when friends or acquaintances are doing their eight to twelve weeks in a cast for whatever reason, they need a hand and they need connection.  It’s been fifteen days and I still often feel this claustrophobic panic spill over me on a regular basis.  At those moments, I let the air out of my cast and pull it apart and gasp for breath.

I’m not writing about this experience because I am soliciting comfort, support, pity or even empathy…I’m writing because I find it all so surprising.  I also think that the notion of “walking in the other person’s shoes” comes truly to mind.  I’m being hard on myself for not always responding, with empathy and in a concrete way, to those who have endured the drawn out period of healing a fractured bone.

Stampede came to town…and Stampede left.  I wouldn’t have known it as it seemed I was cloistered in my family room, to the point of even sleeping on this same level.  It was a very hot spell for Calgary weather and so, to be honest, it was physically uncomfortable at night.

It was an absolute joy when first, my daughter, and then my friend, offered to take me out for pancakes at two of our pancake breakfasts.

I remembered bringing my children to these and even hosting my own over the years and so the experience brought up a lot of positive memories and let’s face it, everyone seems pretty happy at a Calgary Stampede pancake breakfast.  I feel gratitude about these two experiences and while I was a true ‘hop-along’ and still had that sense of walking in a brick of dried cement, I also felt gratitude and I felt free.

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Live music, line dancers and free thinking ladies.

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The line moved along quickly.

Oakridge Co-Op was the first…and next, Greengate Garden Center.

Pancake Breakfast