Oranges and Sunshine

The lights are dazzling on the Christmas tree this morning.  I sip hot coffee and sort through papers and bric-a-brac on the kitchen floor.  I don’t recommend painting walls right before the season’s celebrations.  It’s taking me an endless amount of time settling back in.  Everything, I’m certain, will feel fresh once I’m settled again.

Mornings like this, though, hold their beauty.  I like the nesting experience and I like the solitary moments, hanging with the border collie.  I can sing and sometimes dance, at will.

I decided to play a CD that was sent to me by my sister-friend, Linda Barns, over in London.  Some time ago, she attended an exhibition on my behalf, On Their Own: British Child Migrants at the V&A Museum of Childhood in London.

Some time before Christmas, I sat and cried through the movie, Oranges and Sunshine, a film about the migration of thousands of children from Britain to Australia.  Because I come from a family rooted in this same history, but as it is related to Canadian child immigrants, I feel a huge connection to the content of the movie.

The music I’m listening to as I write is titled The Ballads of Child Migration, songs for Britain’s Child Migrants.  They are beautiful songs written in recognition of this history.  Canadian descendants of British Home Children are continuing to look for similar accountability at every level and to see the events recognized in history classes throughout the provinces.

I try, as much as I can, to be positive when I write or engage social media.  We need, however, to be honest about our history, in order to avoid making similar mistakes again.  There are many atrocities performed by human beings upon other human beings.  This is one of those atrocities.  I suggest that my readers inform themselves on the subject, not for the purpose of blame, but for the purpose of recognition and reconciliation.

I think the movie is accurate in its portrayal of the events.

The music  that Linda has sent me is beautiful in a haunting way.  I love you, for this beautiful gift, Linda.

Kath's Canon, December 30, 2015 Linda's Gift 007Kath's Canon, December 30, 2015 Linda's Gift 006Kath's Canon, December 30, 2015 Linda's Gift 005Kath's Canon, December 30, 2015 Linda's Gift 004

A Ya Ya Feasting Tradition

Thanks to Wendy, Rebecca and Darren for hosting yet another amazing feast to celebrate our long-time friendship and the Christmas break.  This culinary experience is a bit of a tradition and not like any ‘eat in’ dining experience that I’ve enjoyed elsewhere.

2011 saw us enjoying a Japanese Hot Pot and all of the other dishes that precede it…

Japanese Hot Pot...amazing!

Japanese Hot Pot…amazing!

Beautiful friends....awesome chefs!

Beautiful friends….awesome chefs!

Prime Rib and a most amazing tea service.  (I am only selecting a photo or two to represent the epic treat!)


Yet another feast!  Can my readers believe the presentation?


Here we are some time years ago, likely after being spoiled!


And…this year…let’s face it, we’re Besties!  YEAH!

Feast Christmas Ya Yas 2015

Darren began by serving us roasted potato soup…and yes…absolutely yummy!  The most creamy delicious soup!  Unbelievable!  On the menu…

“Potato soup with micro frites and green onion. Pork rib roast studded with garlic and rubbed with rosemary, pepper flakes and salt cooked over charcoal. The pork was served over steamed asparagus on a roasted pepper reduction. With the pork, were two potato croquettes topped with sour cream and homemade grainy mustard. For dessert, there were profiteroles with some melted sugar.
The extra sauces I made were: Parsley and garlic in olive oil and salt. Home made grainy dijon mustard. Raspberry puree with balsamic vinegar. Chimichurri. Pico de gallo.
I think that’s it. Was going to make fresh bread sticks but I forgot. Next time!”

Kath's Canon, December 20 and 21, 2015 Wendy's Feast and Franks 011

Kath's Canon, December 20 and 21, 2015 Wendy's Feast and Franks 012

Kath's Canon, December 20 and 21, 2015 Wendy's Feast and Franks 013Kath's Canon, December 20 and 21, 2015 Wendy's Feast and Franks 015

The nourishment that our friends share with us is very symbolic of how we nourish one another through the laughter, the tears, the celebrations and the struggles.  To be fed by others is an act of sacrifice and of giving.  I want to thank my friends for the treasure of their giving hearts.  I appreciate the empathy and the support that you have offered me.  I also appreciate the good food and the good drink that brings us to a circle.  Grateful…always!

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And…because it’s the first anniversary of his passing and I really like this song…this.

When the Tree is Lit Up…

Kath's Canon, December 15, 2015 Christmas Tree Bush Eli's Painti 002

…I can’t help but think about my family.

The other day, while driving, I thought to myself, “When I get home, I have to give Mom a call and see how she’s doing.”

Mom was always so busy for months before Christmas.  She consistently made a huge commitment to creating beautiful items for the annual Mistletoe Market.  As well, she baked, cleaned, sewed, decorated and prepared for the feast of Christmas to the point, sometimes, of exhaustion.

So, out there on the roads, I was thinking…

…but it was a brief moment later and I remembered that Mom isn’t with us anymore.  Of course, the tears fell.  But, I have to say, in every other sense but the physical sense,  Mom is THAT present to me right now.  She is in the dazzle of light.  She is grasping my hand while sitting next to me on a wooden church pew, listening to Dad sing O’ Holy Night.

Mom is right here, with me.

Christmas St. Sylvestre

1973 Christmas

Peanut Christmas

Considering the Notion of Gift

I love this story and so, I’m sharing it again, but with a short addendum.

Two years after I received this lovely illustrated book of gratitude from Eli, I have finally written my thank you for the gift.  Yes, I know, a thank you for a thank you…but, I just felt I needed to wrap up the circle of love with a wee painting.  The subject: Eli’s grandmother’s hands, offering an unpainted ornament to me.  Thanks to both grand mother and grand son for including me in this annual creative project for twelve years!

Kath's Canon, December 15, 2015 Christmas Tree Bush Eli's Painti 009Kath's Canon, December 15, 2015 Christmas Tree Bush Eli's Painti 008

For love of her grandson, a friend of mine orchestrated and pulled off a twelve year project. The other evening, before ordering a post-movie Humpty’s breakfast, she passed me the gift of a photo archive of the project, in the form of a book, made by her grandson (photographs by her son), a response to his experience of receiving my hand made ornaments from the time he was a little boy up until he became a young man.  I am in awe of her persistence.

Each year, well before Christmas, this amazing lady organized the posting of the ornaments to connections in distant countries, beginning with Okotoks, Alberta. :0)  These people would use her funds, included in the double-wrapped packages, to post the gift back to her grandson, living in Vancouver.  Imagine receiving an anonymous package from a different part of the world each year for twelve years!!  I am so grateful that I was the artist chosen to participate in this Christmas magic.  Needless to say, I shed a few happy tears while leafing through these pages while sharing an evening breakfast with my daughter and three of my dearest friends.

Usually in a bit of a rush, even to the point of waiting for the ornaments to dry, I only archived by photograph, one set of these ornaments, but got them out the door and delivered to my friend, just in the nick of time for mailing.  So for me to receive this carefully constructed archive is heaven!

The speech that was written and shared with his class was written prior to his receipt of “On the twelfth day of Christmas…”

True love comes from Nanas….everyone knows that!


Poinsettia With Grade Threes

If you had previously studied the structure of the poppy during November and did some careful observations of the petals, stems and leaves of that flower, then, drawing and painting Poinsettias is a natural follow-up.

When I visited Tammy’s grade three class, I decided to have the students do a drawing from their memory/experience, so I could determine where I wanted to direct the lesson.  We only contain so much information in our visual memories and so whether you are a child or an artist, sometimes the details of the visual stories are vague.  So, I asked the children to draw a Poinsettia.

“What is a Poinsettia?”

“A Poinsettia is a Christmas flower…bright red…we can buy them in pots at Home Depot or at the grocery store to decorate our homes and the church.”

“Oh, YEAH!”

They set to work and created very symbolic pieces that indeed, represented the flower we would be analyzing.

Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 003 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 004 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 007

Next, I pulled out a Poinsettia plant that I had borrowed from the office and did a demonstration of the structure of the center and the petal/leaf arrangement on the Poinsetta plant.  I talked about the unique nature of a plant…similar to each human person being unique from one another.

Poinsettia-inPot (1)

There is no set rule as to how many petals radiate out from the center in a first row.  Similarly, it doesn’t matter how many show in the row directly behind this first row.  In grade three terms, I tried to identify the differences between informal and formal (symmetry) balance.

“In your sketchbooks, no crossing out…begin again rather than using an eraser…draw dark on top of light to make changes.  Practice several times.”

If you feel uncomfortable about doing a drawing as an exemplar on the board, I’ve selected this Youtube video as a pretty good example of what I am going for in terms of representation and structure.

The second drawings looked something like this and were completed by the same students as above.  (I just randomly pulled a couple of visual journals out of their desks at the end of the activity.

Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 008 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 005 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 002

Moving into Composition, I handed out 18 x 24 construction paper in a complementary colour.  I chose purple for our journey of Advent.  As I always do, I also handed out a piece of white chalk to each student for the sake of working out their composition.

“To make your art work dynamic and exciting, boys and girls, place your center OFF CENTER.  You may also wish to have a vertical format or horizontal format.  The choice is up to you.  Look!  When you draw with chalk, you can fade out lines that you don’t like.  It doesn’t matter.  You will be painting over the lines that you want to keep.”

I then proceeded to demonstrate how to use the paint center and how to share the paint with a partner.  I showed them how to use a place mat and slide it along the edges and how to care for their brushes by stroking the paint, rather than scrubbing the paint.  Some where along the line, I had the painters stop (brushes in your buckets) in order to show them that the flat brushes could make wide marks and thin marks.  For some reason, they broke out into wild applause when I turned my brush sideways and painted a long thin line.  That actually surprised me.

For the sake of expediency, I had the children limit themselves to one outline colour from the warm palette for their Poinsettia petals and one from the green palette for their leaves.  If the students are accustomed to using a paint center, they can travel back and forth, trading colours frequently.  Here are the works, outlined and ready for fill ins.

Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 016 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 015 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 014 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 013 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 012 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 011 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 010 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 009

The children’s individual styles surface quickly and I like that!  A lot.

They had a wee break for a music class and returned a half hour later, ready for the quick and immediate activity of filling in the rest of their background spaces.  I really enjoyed working with these guys and I appreciated the fantastic support of young student teacher, Shelby.  Thanks so much for your help!

And, thank you, Tammy, for your class!

Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 023 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 022 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 021 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 020 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 019 Kath's Canon, December 11, 2015 Pointsettias Grade 3 018

Being Caribou in Grade Two

We did the morning rituals…O’ Canada, prayer, calendar math, a reading about Samson and Delilah.

This is a difficult Old Testament reading to translate into grade two terms.  I did the best I could, but it was still tricky getting past the gouged eyes and the fact that the pillars were dropping on top of everyone.  However, we did our very best.

When we entered the room this morning, we saw an elf (and I’m afraid that I’ve missed out on the stories and the thoughtful handling of the elf up until this point…definitely a pop culture sort of experience) hanging from looped chain on the far side of the room. The children, in their excitement, wrote a journal entry responding to its location in the room and what they thought must have happened during the night.

From this point, the day became about caribou…also known loosely as North American reindeer.  You see the connection with the season, don’t you?

I projected this image…

Caribou 3

From somewhere behind me, a young lady’s voice chirped in, “My Dad kills caribou!”

I let it be, as you might also, in the same situation.

Someone answered, “He does?”

I messed around with the zillions of chords that were puzzling me, thinking ahead to the little piece of film from the documentary, Being Caribou, that I hoped to show a little later on.  (I wonder how I will figure out the sound part of this?)

She piped in again, “He kills deer and moose too!”

I had no choice but to respond, “You must get to eat some very tasty sausage, right?”  She just looked at me.

We divided a large chart paper into two sections, one with the heading Deer, the other, Caribou.  Using the image as a reference, we created a list of physical traits that make the deer and the caribou similar and different.  I forgot to take a picture of this for the purpose of illustrating this blog.

Once we had a list of vocabulary accomplished, I gave the students each a piece of regular white paper to do a depiction from the reference.  They could use media of their choice, but I wanted them to include all of the parts that we had listed; hooves, beard and antlers.

Kath's Canon, December 8, 2015 Caribou Art Grade 2 027

Recess, Hymn Sing and Skip Counting by 2s, 5s and 10s and finally I had sorted out  the sound issue and set the movie to playing the most wondrous migration of the Porcupine Herd caribou herds.  The students verbally ooohhhhed and awed…and I remembered my reaction when I first saw this section of the movie some years ago.

I stopped the film when the baby caribou found its legs and then began to create our Caribou Migration.  It took a few minutes to learn that caribou run in herds and not in flocks.

How many caribou would be in our herd if each person in our room made ten caribou? (count by tens)

Kath's Canon, December 8, 2015 Caribou Art Grade 2 026

Kath's Canon, December 8, 2015 Caribou Art Grade 2 050Kath's Canon, December 8, 2015 Caribou Art Grade 2 049Kath's Canon, December 8, 2015 Caribou Art Grade 2 048Kath's Canon, December 8, 2015 Caribou Art Grade 2 043Kath's Canon, December 8, 2015 Caribou Art Grade 2 041Kath's Canon, December 8, 2015 Caribou Art Grade 2 036Kath's Canon, December 8, 2015 Caribou Art Grade 2 035Kath's Canon, December 8, 2015 Caribou Art Grade 2 034Kath's Canon, December 8, 2015 Caribou Art Grade 2 033

A beautiful creation!  Thank you, Tracy, for your beautiful class!

Kath's Canon, December 8, 2015 Caribou Art Grade 2 047

Lonesome Cowboys and Brave Hearts

I enjoyed such an amazing event last Friday at Loft 112!  The past couple of weeks have been a struggle and I’ve missed many arts events in the community because by evening time, I’ve felt beaten down.  But, at the same time, I’ve referred to my calendar anyway and noted my ‘must go’ note where Friday evening was concerned.  I headed down to the core, anticipating something pretty special!

Cell, December 5, 2015 Steve, Knitting Advent, Franks 022

There had been a little bit of press…a beautiful article showing up in Calgary’s December 2nd Herald.  For a succinct background, take a look at that one, here.

Contained in the article, a handsome photograph of Barry Thorson and Steve Gin as they appeared in the 1994 production of Brave Hearts at the Pumphouse Theatre in Calgary.



Directly from Factory 112’s event page, the invitation appeared on Facebook.

Loft 112’s interdisciplinary arts series, Factory 112, takes on a more intimate tone as we partner with HIV Community Link, The Gay History Project, Chromatic Theatre & Teatro Berdache honour AIDS Awareness Week with a special anniversary reading of one of Calgary’s first independently produced queer plays.

In 1994, Harry Rintoul’s award-winning AIDS drama BRAVE HEARTS opened at The Pumphouse Theatre, with the Calgary Herald proclaiming it “An Act of Courage.” Calgary actors Barry Thorson and Steve Gin appeared as “Rafe” and “G.W.,” a Saskatchewan seismologist and ranch hand whose chance meeting at a party reveals their aching loneliness and changes their lives forever.

Barry and Steve reprise their roles in this one-night only reading, directed by Karen Johnson-Diamond. An informal panel discussion follows, led by Chromatic Theatre’s Jenna Rodgers, and featuring members of the cast, Tereasa Maille of The Calgary Queer History project and Mark Randall from HIV Community Link.

Reading begins at 7:30 pm, but come early and join us for a drink and conversation, with doors opening at 7 pm.

Admission by donation, with all door proceeds being donated to HIV Community Link.

Lonesome Cowboys and Brave Hearts

Lisa Murphy Lamb, Director of 112 Loft space, exuded warmth and excitement upon our arrival.  We were offered up laughter, conversation and a lovely pre-function social.  The space was electric, with a backdrop installation by Scott Barry, part of SPARK Disability Art Festival.

Cell, December 5, 2015 Steve, Knitting Advent, Franks 014

Cell, December 5, 2015 Steve, Knitting Advent, Franks 016 Cell, December 5, 2015 Steve, Knitting Advent, Franks 017

In retrospect, I’m very surprised that the story didn’t get picked up by other media as this was a ‘must see’. A masterful arts educator, I wanted to finally see Steve Gin in an acting role. Steve and I worked together for a short while, along side Jenn and Rylan, a power house team of arts educators.  Unless you’ve seen this man engage a child-audience, you really don’t know what inspiring teaching is.  It’s an amazing thing when gallery spaces nurture some sort of educational programs, for the revenue they generate, but mostly for the substantial meaning that they create.

But as well as creating meaning for young audiences, Steve has a way of sustaining, if not captivating, an adult audience as well!  I’ve found myself in situations where I’ve listened to one show tune after another, when Steve is really on a roll…and always ‘in role’ as other great performers. The guy knows how to throw out a hand full of amazing impressions, my favourites being Carol Channing and Ethel Merman.  Whenever I start laughing out of control, this feeds Steve’s insatiable appetite for entertaining. Surely my Calgary readers have had opportunity to meet our local Andy Warhol at a number of events in the city!  In fact, the first time I met Andy was back at the Glenbow Art Gallery in the 1990s.

Last Friday, Steve WOWed the audience in his role as G.W.  Lovely pacing…powerful dynamics…this reader’s theater spilled raw and authentic emotion out over its edges.  I found the delivery compelling and the engagement between G.W. and Rafe honest and true to the struggles of two gay men in a time that I really know little about.  This was the night of my revelation about so many critical issues as they relate to gender, sexuality, social engagement and health.  Thank you.

G. W. and Rafe

I will always remember the feeling of laughing out loud and crying, both, as I watched this performance.  It was so compelling to have the same two actors perform parts that they had explored 21 years earlier.  I felt that the bond between these two friend-actors was as powerful as the bond created between the two characters, making the play, doubly satisfying.  Bravo, gentlemen!  Excellent directing by Karen Johnson-Diamond!

Barry and Steve

1994 artical

Panel Discussion Friday

Photo Credit: Lisa Murphy Lamb

Following the play, a panel discussion was opened up to the audience.  I cried several times during this period as the shared-narratives opened up a deeper understanding within me. Jenna Rodgers of Chromatic Theatre moderated an intelligent and thought provoking discussion,  featuring the members of the cast, Tereasa Maille of The Calgary Queer History project and Mark Randall from HIV Community Link.  I had a chance to chat with Mark Randall before the play.  He is such a funny man!  I learned that Mark was a child of a military family, as I was, and I thought about how that narrative might have played out, growing up as a gay person.

Steve Gin has generously shared some links that might be of interest to my readers on related topics.  I feel smarter.  I hope that I can be more understanding and inclusive.  I think it’s imperative.

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