Bunny Cake Tradition!

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Mom always made us a bunny cake…my sister and I continue on the tradition.  And now, the next generation continues…my daughter Erin’s version, with two variations of a bunny face, at the very bottom.  I missed Mom a lot this year…again…still.

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My daughter’s thoughts on faces…always a variation depending on the availability of licorice, chicklets and jelly beans.

Erin's Bunny 2016

Erin's Bunny 2016 2

Val’s Bunny 2016!

Val's Bunny Cake 2016

Of Brutality and Tenderness

This is a post, of the sort, that I rarely write.  It will try to express, from my deepest heart, my own sense of conflict in a world that, with passing years, becomes more clearly hostile or as is explored by The Little Prince, in my favourite grown-up book, uninhabitable.

The Geographer

Within the context of this hostility, I seek out tender and beautiful moments so that I might share, as much as I can, positivity, without politicizing or pontificating or professing my own views so as to be delicate with my social media readers.  Well, today, I’m going to deliberately confront, for no better reason than to get things off my chest.  It will not matter because the world will continue to be inhabited by, according to Chapter 16 of St. Exupery’s The Little Prince…

The Earth is not just an ordinary planet! One can count, there, 111 kings (not forgetting, to be sure, the Negro kings among them), 7000 geographers, 900,000 businessmen, 7,500,000 tipplers, 311,000,000 conceited men–that is to say, about 2,000,000,000 grown-ups.

To give you an idea of the size of the Earth, I will tell you that before the invention of electricity it was necessary to maintain, over the whole of the six continents, a veritable army of 462,511 lamplighters for the street lamps.

Seen from a slight distance, that would make a splendid spectacle. The movements of this army would be regulated like those of the ballet in the opera. First would come the turn of the lamplighters of New Zealand and Australia. Having set their lamps alight, these would go off to sleep. Next, the lamplighters of China and Siberia would enter for their steps in the dance, and then they too would be waved back into the wings. After that would come the turn of the lamplighters of Russia and the Indies; then those of Africa and Europe; then those of South America; then those of South America; then those of North America. And never would they make a mistake in the order of their entry upon the stage. It would be magnificent.

Only the man who was in charge of the single lamp at the North Pole, and his colleague who was responsible for the single lamp at the South Pole–only these two would live free from toil and care: they would be busy twice a year.

I am sitting, this morning, watching two nests, two eagles, both sitting on two eggs, miles separating them…one in New Jersey, the other in Iowa.  Today or tomorrow, chicks will emerge and the miracle of life will begin…the obstacles, the weather, the natural abilities to thwart and maneuver around all of the various hazards that will daunt the juveniles and then one day if they manage, find them as adult eagles.  To watch live cameras would not be possible at one time in history.  It is a wonder that I am able to enjoy this privilege and I do not take that lightly.

The nests have taught me much over the past five years.  Moments at the nest have been both gratifying and horrifying. At one point, a chick, still like a wriggling worm with nothing but fuzz on its squirming body, managed to back out and under the tallest railings at the outside perimeter of the nest, and plummeted to the ground below, this after the tedious and daunting 35 days of incubation and the endless tending from both of its parents, once hatched.  In another circumstance, at the Hornby Island nest, a chick was caught up in the talon of its own parent who could not free that helpless bird, and eventually, having to leave the nest for sustenance, returned without the little babe.  This is how brutal life can be.

I have watched the spring birds, with amazement and horror this year. At my back yard feeder, I have watched dozens of male sparrows, harass and brutalize a single female.  A loud raucous noise, screaming, the female batting her wings fast and furiously while the males peck one another, pushing into her body.  She gets as close to the ground as she can, but they persist.  She is allowed no where near the feeder either, as the males take positions of domination.  I can only call these acts, in human terms, acts of rape and aggression.  I have seen it again and again.

I have watched two male mallards gliding in the water alongside a female; the males looking magical…bright green iridescent head feathers, brilliant orange feet paddling them smoothly through the water; the females, much smaller and dull brown.  Inevitably the wild shake of action and the loud forced honking sounds begin and the female lifts out of the water, one male furiously beating his wings a short distance at her back.  They circle the pond, over and over again, the male in wild pursuit. The female is driven into exhaustion. The energy explodes at the pond, the other male seeming to care less of the goings on on the blue spring air.

The pond is edged in human plastic…the life of the pond is choked as it swallows up our branded cups and cutlery.  One big plastic bag wraps itself around the bull rushes, the willow, the dogwood, the natural grasses and ties itself in a knot so that the pond can no longer breath.  The prairie dogs drag the styrofoam chips into their tunnels, warm insulation for the coming winter, where in spring, their kittens will be born.  The coyotes, the osprey, the herons, the field mice are all of no consequence.

At the pond, I am a witness and there are many lessons for me.

Sometimes, as a species, we believe that we are free of such traumas.  There is a false sense that we are ‘apart’ and that even if all of this and these pass, we will go on.  We do not believe, not really, that we are getting sick and that we are dying.  We believe that if our water supply is gone, if our ice caps melt, if we cut down all of our forests and milk the earth dry of her minerals and her oil supply, that we will somehow be free of any great consequence.  We do not believe that we have responsibility for any of the brutality that befalls the planet or other human beings.  Until some hellish consequence befalls us, we are not really linked to our own mortality.  As a people we become faithless, believing that religion radicalizes people and is the essence of all that fails us. Instead, humanity becomes disconnected from mother, source, creator, force, the divine, God…and aimlessly consumes like a rabid dog, everything and if it proves beneficial, every one.

The robust access to media and news, leads us to images that profoundly shock us.  I can only post one example, but one can find similarly distressing visuals surrounding ALL species…the indiscriminate poaching of animals, the inhumane practices in the farming of animals that we consume, the over fishing of our oceans and the devastating harvesting of the fruits of the 140 million year old Borneo rain forests; these to name only a few of my present day concerns.

Minke Whales

Here

Our headlines tell the story of a radicalized world, one that expresses the insane reality of a humanity that casts away ‘the other’ and looks to fulfill an insatiable and personal/collective appetite for whatever serves to pleasure. At the same time as we preach equality and inclusion, we, who have so much, do little to provide for the basic human needs required for a basic existence in other parts of the world or in our own communities. At the same time that we profess inclusion, we feel the only way to live a satisfying life is to be disconnected from spiritual practice and religion, abhorring and publicly attacking those who have not chosen a similar path.

We have counseling for our own traumas and money to spend on frivolous things, but sometimes forget that the world over, children are struggling to care for dying parents and parents are holding dying children in their arms, most often as the result of the greedy intentions of others. (this is where people ask if I am driving a car…this is where I put my own comforts into question)  We negotiate our way blindly through our lives, and think that there is no end to the luxury of it all.

It is not simply in nature that we see male dominance over the female gender. (and let us not forget the exceptions…I really don’t want to piss anyone off)   Recent news has caused me to feel resentful, as I thoughtfully consider issues around narratives of domestic violence and rape. In 2016…it is a difficult thing to understand how humanity can take the position it does, one that continues to victimize the victim, one that can go so far as to mock. As a result of trauma, years later, a victim may hear, “Get over that victim-role!”

Best written by a smart friend of mine, one of those remarkable men in my life,

“It does not inspire confidence in our species that there is an epidemic of people (mostly men) who are so narcissistic that violation in pursuit of gratification is commonplace, with seemingly tacit acceptance.”

Refugees flee in desperation due to political and social turmoil and war, entire families absorbing the trauma of losing their lives as they knew them. Issues of exploitation of women, the impoverished, children; unemployment, a lack of affordable housing, homelessness, respect for people suffering debilitating disease and disabilities of every variety, respect for the dying…all matters of concern sometimes leading to brutal circumstances.  It is all so overwhelming, that humanity becomes numb to the shear enormity of it all.  For this suffering, the remedy seems to be to self medicate, whether that be in the depths of a screen, alcohol, drugs, sex, narcissism…experiencing life on the surface seems much better than feeling things deeply.  It is easy to experience hopelessness.

Just recently, an inspiring priest in our parish, shared this talk.  For me, Holy Thursday represents that moment where life flips from brutality to tenderness and the Easter Triduum, in its complete journey similarly encompasses both.  I’ve always felt this way, it’s just that, this year, I feel like I need to articulate it somehow.  These are desperate times.

I want to, therefore, return to the premise of this writing.  And that is, that despite the brutality,  there is such tenderness in this life and living.  There is hope to be discovered in the quiet and profound intimacy of nature.  For me, there is grace, also, to be found in a long and abiding journey of faith, in my case, in the context of the Catholic church.  This journey has been marked by periods of gut wrenching pain, but anchored in an enduring personal determination,  I negotiated through the darkness and into light.

Tenderness is to be discovered in the penetrating love of mothers.  At the nest, unceasing and true to their instinctual calling, the mother remains a protector.  And generally, so it is with our species.

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At the nest, one sees the absolute and determined protective instincts of adults for their offspring.  And within the human experience, we also see hearts that reach out in protection of others.  A few true life examples that came to mind for me over my own Easter Triduum experience…the suffering…sacrifice…dying to self…service…community of support and love…resurrection and light…

Mark and Carmen Vazquez-Mackay have, for weeks now, along with their son, spent Sunday afternoons playing with Syrian children, newcomers to our big city.  They have made an effort to allay fears and to show families who have escaped huge hostility in their own homeland, that they are welcomed and safe.  I think that this is an expression of human tenderness.

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Today’s group was small…only 7 kids around the age of 8. Many of the families are transitioning to their first homes in Canada, so they couldn’t participate. On our walk to the park, a few of the boys fought to be the ones who held my hand for the walk; I wish I had 6 hands this morning. One boy in particular was wanting much of my attention. He is definitely a leader who keeps all the boys in check. When we were leaving the park, he yelled “No, no, no” and refused to leave. Made me happy to know the positive effect Carmen and I are having, but sad that I can’t give him more time. It took 5 minutes to pry him off the playground. When I gave my departing high-fives to the kids, this boy followed it up by blowing me a kiss…sic

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Wendy is the visionary who breathed life into create!   create! in the East Village offers free, drop-in, inclusive creative programming to all residents of the East Village. Sessions run 4 times each week.  The diverse group of people who gather and create and communicate with one another is such an absolute testament to the inclusive nature of humanity when the very best of love and concern shines through.  There is nothing like it.  To find yourself in a place where you are validated by the mere act of entering into the dance of creation is to be richly blessed and exemplifies what it means to receive tenderness.

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Hollee, L’Arche Canada’s National Leader, supports the vision of Jean Vanier who has committed his lifetime and inspires others to care for and tend to the human heart, no matter how lonely or isolated that heart might be.  L’Arche was founded in 1964 by Canadian humanitarian and social visionary, Jean Vanier. Distressed by the institutionalization and the isolation and loneliness of people with intellectual disabilities, Jean Vanier invited two men from an institution to live with him in a small house.

In L’Arche, people who have intellectual disabilities and those who come to assist share life and daytime activities together in family-like settings that are integrated into local neighbourhoods. L’Arche in Canada has nearly 200 homes and workshops or day programs. These are grouped into what L’Arche calls ”communities.” There are 29 communities of L’Arche located across Canada from Cape Breton to Vancouver Island. L’Arche communities are open and welcoming of neighbours and friends and often engage in various collaborations at the local level.

In a seeming brutal world, there are those who make the invitation to others to ‘belong’ regardless of differences and prejudices.  It is possible to see the world with tenderness and to nurture her…all species…the land…the oceans and one another.

Given hours that I have spent in hospitals, sitting next to loved ones who are in pain or who are fading in health and life…I have seen the very worst and the very best of humanity.  The tenderness and compassion that comes with Personal Support Workers and nursing staff, Daycare Workers and those who choose to lovingly care for our aging populations, women and men who are sometimes completely helpless and suffering with memory loss, is to be greatly commended.  While in this lifetime, these responsibilities do not appear to be valued, these expressions of care and professionalism, are crucial to our healthy formation as a people.  Bravo to those who choose patience and kindness and for environments that honour tenderness before productivity and quick delivery of service.

Blessed are those who advocate for our planet…those who research and study, observe and document, diligently fight for the humane treatment and protection of the myriad of species we share this planet with.  Theirs is important work.  There are countless individuals who take in stray animals and tend to their woundedness.  There are organizations that take on very specialized mandates in protecting our forests, waterways and our resources.  There are those who fight for the cause of other human beings who are struggling, in our city and globally.

Ramona, my high school bestie, has just returned from serving with the Peace Corp in Guyana and before that, Peru.  Her photographs over these several years and her brief stories have sometimes made me cry; I am so proud of her service and her contribution to the education and well being of others.  Ramona’s heart has always been filled with tenderness and sincere care for others.  No time for ‘selfies’, this lady is captured in photographs in the ‘belly’ of life and living.  I love her so much!

Ramona

Ramona 2

Sweet Christina, who I’ve watched grow from dream-filled teenager to smart creative woman, decided to take on a mission.  She just decided she was going to do something meaningful and so readers discover, Slum Runners!

Slum Runners is a grassroots organization working toward the creation of sustainable community-run bases that address the widely unmet needs of: education, sanitation, access to clean drinking water and affordable food. We aim to develop access to these basic resources within urban slums.

One third of the world’s urban population lives in slums. This number is continuing to climb and the need for hubs providing these basic needs
are, and will be, both life enhancing and life saving.

Our project aims to develop a scalable model implementing natural design principles that incorporate traditional knowledge and modern-day innovation.

To date we envision robust earthen educational structures, rainwater harvesting, intensive urban food forestation and increased access to school supplies.

Our pilot project is scheduled to commence early in 2016 in the urban slum of Mukuru Kwa Ngenga, Nairobi, Kenya.

Christina

About this picture…

We started the Chinese year of the monkey with ZERO monkey business. Just dirty hands and straight faces!!! Today we dug our new small garden plot a foot deep into garbage, clay and actual boulders….that is the soil we have to work with 😳 BUT we did it! We’ve got a little lasagna bed starting. So proud of our growing environment club! Soon we’ll be ready to plant seeds. Oh! And when the kids came to class I asked them to get out all the compostable materials I had listed for them to bring and found 100’s of plastic straws mixed with mango peels and grass…I finally realised I had listed “hay/straw!” 😂😂😂

There is so much beauty and tenderness that rises out of the dark sludge of everything that ails…but, this post is becoming far too long.  If you’ve pushed on through all of it…I’ll summarize my thoughts here.

I am, in walking a single pond environment every day, learning lessons about the intimate beauty of an ofttimes struggling world. I’m capturing hope and light in the bubble of my heart and going home with it.

This Easter journey was a beautiful thing…it not only exposed much about the world that is brutal, (suicide bombings, disintegrating glaciers, Yemen murders of 16 people, four of them five members of the Missionaries of Charity)  but it brought to mind, everything that is glorious about life and peace (the tending and hatching of two eagle eggs over 37 days, the love shared between my children and my family members, my Dad, the laughter shared with students at school, my daily dog-walking and nature-watching).  This is what living means…all of it.  It is all by the grace of God.

Duke 812 March 27 2016 Feeding Easter Morning

Show Grade Twos a Nest, And They’ll Draw It!

Teachers, when you have that short bit of time to observe a Live Eagle Cam with your class, log into one of these two spots and have your students make observations, write about the eagle behaviours, draw them, paint them…it’s so beautiful to watch!

Either today or tomorrow or the day after that, the eggs should hatch at Duke Farms.

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/eagle-cam

OR

Decorah…at…

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/eagle-cam

The weather today has been quite lovely at Duke Farms in Virginia.

Eagle March 23, 2016

Horrible weather…sleet…rain…slush and wind in Decorah.

Rain and Snow on Decorah

Grade twos made amazing observations of the eagles, rubbing off their chalk every time Mom changed her posture in the nest and began to sketch again.  After the sketching practice, the students added their colour with different media.

Thank you for your class, Elisa!

Exploring the Glenbow on a Quiet Day

Some days, I just really relish the wandering and the peaceful consideration that comes with attending an exhibit on my own.  Exhibit openings are magical for conversation and that sort of electric energy that sparks the air as a result of the dynne, but truly, I am far more engaged by the art when I am alone and visiting at my own speed.

Concurrently, some interesting things have been on view at the Glenbow.  I think I visited last Sunday, but these moments all seem to blend together when you see so much as I do, so don’t hold me to the calendar.  On my exploration…these…

Kaleidoscopic Animalia: An exhibition designed and curated by Paul Hardy

Embracing Canada: Landscapes from Krieghoff to the Group of Seven

The Demise of 17th Avenue, one of the Glenbow’s Recent Acquisitions

One New Work, Walter May: Object Lessons

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I was welcomed by Widow.  The one venue I had missed during the exhibit, Oh, Canada, was the Nickle Galleries.  I was very happy to see this piece, Widow, an eight-foot bear sculpture made of wool and mixed media, donated by artist Janice wright Cheney, to the Glenbow.

The John Hartman painting in the stairwell captured my heart immediately.  I’ve been an admirer of his work for years and to see this monumental piece was just so exciting.  One of my favourite books on my art shelves is Big North: The Paintings of John Hartman.

Bad picture…but…really, I wasn’t in the Glenbow to collect photographs…I really was there to very consciously, take in the works.

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While I have no images to represent the time spent with the section ‘Embracing Canada’, I spent a long time standing in front of the countless images of landscape and in some cases, responding emotionally.  I think that at my core, I am a landscape painter, likely because of my huge connection with the Trans Canada highway and my life as a child of a military father.  I am truly the biggest fan of our nation, for its beauty and its expanse.  This exhibit is a strong representation of Canadian landscape painters and their art.  It was a physical collection of works…meaning, I felt its impact in my body as well as in my heart.  I remember feeling this same way while visiting the McMichael art gallery so many years ago.

Walter May’s work struck me as whimsical, humourous, light-hearted and sparse.  I liked the childlike freedom of the work and the materiality (if that is a word?) of his pieces.  The more dynamic angular pieces were difficult for me and I found his more linear works more appealing from an aesthetic stand point.  I liked his apparent inclusion of functional objects in unusual circumstances.

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I probably spent the most time exploring the works of Robert McInnis, the Demise of 17th Ave, mainly because I was seeking out the representations of the familiar and iconic people related with the arts scene at a point in Calgary.  I went looking for John Snow…Ken Christopher…Doug Maclean … Joane Cardinal-Schubert…and others.  The amazing story of the work is found here.  Given my own interest in history and family history, I feel this work is absolutely archival.  I remember meeting Robert McInnis several different times, hanging at the original CAG here in Calgary and once out at the Leighton Center.  He was living out in Cayley at that time.

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Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed the Kaleidoscopic Animalia exhibit curated by Paul Hardy.  A disappointment was that the gift shop downstairs had no documentation for purchase about how these potent spaces were curated.  From the time I was a child and watched Chez Helene and her pet mouse, Susie, teaching the french language over Mom and Dad’s black and white television set, I have loved the idea of little mouse houses, assemblages, spaces cluttered with amazing objects.  I am compelled to explore objects of affection and wonder about them…their historical significance…or what they meant in the context of ‘the ordinary’.

This exhibit fulfilled all of my curiosity about such spaces.  Loved this!  I could spend hours on a visual journey through these spaces!

Having recently written a post about my remembrances of the Oldman River, I stopped into the gift shop and ended up finding a single copy of Robert Girvan’s book,  Who Speaks for the River? The Oldman River Dam and the Search for Justice.  Happily, there is a chapter that describes the entire day at Maycroft Crossing, so many years ago.  This is something that I can give to Cayley and Erin who were with me that day on the river.

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It was a beautiful afternoon at the Glenbow Gallery and it was important that I post some of my thoughts about the magic that I experienced there.  If you can, take the time, to find your magic there.

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

 

One of the ‘engines of life is faith’.  In my opinion, this premise is core to Martel’s writing. Yann Martel consistently negotiates his way through this theme in his books, instead of avoiding it completely, which seems to be the norm in our world today.

This was one of the loveliest books I’ve read in a long time.  The shape/form of the book comes to the reader in three chunks; Homeless, Homeward and Home.  When I began to read chunk two, I said to myself, “HUH?” (I am not one of those who reads reviews first or who even reads the bits that appear on the book jacket.) With no transition from the seeming novella of chunk one, I didn’t ‘get’ what was happening.  I just decided to ‘go with it’.  I literally wept at the conclusion of chunk three.  Beauty.  Place. Home. Companionship. Family. Faith. Adventure and the human wanderings of our hearts.  All of these are themes of this book – part fantasy – part so real that it causes the heart to ache.

I fell in love with the landscapes…so clearly written, that in the evening, I wanted to return to the same places.

I was intrigued by the artifacts; Father Ulisses’ diary…the unusual crucifix…the workings of the four cylinder Renault.

The symbols and characters are, for me, very allegorical.  I think that my readers might agree that this device is used consistently, also, in The Life of Pi.  Martel’s imagery moves so far beyond metaphor.  One has to take the time to search their own sense of meaning and life, in order to really appreciate this book.  Since this is my practice all of the time, it comes naturally.

For some readers, the detailed description of the ‘magical’ autopsy, may provoke some upsetting feelings or sense of disbelief, but for me, this, in chunk 2, was imperative.  It is interesting that, most recently, a lot of my reading is helping me with and through my grief story.  This one, truly, was the most helpful to me to this point.  Perhaps it is the fact that it appeals to the artistic side of me and taps upon the wounded part of my imagination.  Loss does amazing things.

Finally, the relationship between Odo and Peter in the Home section, chunk 3, found me both laughing and crying throughout.  I DID feel HOME in this chapter.

I hope that my reading-friends will pick this one up and get back to me on your thoughts.  I’m looking forward to hearing Yann Martel at Wordfest this week.  I find his writing appeals to me.  Of his works, the only disappointment for me was in Self and my comments scratched in the front cover on November 14, 2012, simply say that the book was ‘tragic and in so many ways, for me, insincere.  Difficult in places and not humourous as the reviews present.’

A thorough review on “The High Mountains of Portugal”… and I agree, there are no spoilers reading reviews on this book because when you enter into the experience, it is sure to be your own.

It was a beautiful evening at the John Dutton Theater, listening to a great interview with Yann Martel and speaking with him for a short while, about grief.

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THE HIGH MOUNTAINS OF PORTUGAL -- cover

 

 

Sunday Driving on Friday

Max and I did our big hike-about and then decided for a drive out to see Alvise and to pick up the second angel.  I am big on walking, with no purpose but to walk.  The same goes for driving…nothing is more wonderful than getting out onto the roads to explore and to see how the seasons are changing. Arriving at the studio, it was so lovely to breath in that wonderful air that comes with being in close proximity to the mountains.  Dripping with the scent of evergreen and melting snow, the morning has left me ready to curl up for a nap.

Kath's Canon, March 11, 2016 Bragg Creek Alvise 008

This month’s blue-eyed angel is embellished with the Equinox. The March equinox marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north. This happens on March 19, 20 or 21 every year. The animal represented on this angel is the rabbit (in our neighbourhood, these guys are just losing their winter coats) and the alder lichen, one of the rabbits’ favourites.  I felt the angel was calling out for a hug and so I embraced her!  Beautiful!

Welcome home, little lady!

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On the drive back to the city, I really enjoyed a CBC interview with musician, Hayden.  In his career in music, he has experienced and thought about all of the same things as I have as a visual artist, but for slightly different reasons.  It was a very affirming experience to hear this interview.

 

http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2685092791

 

Painting Spring Lilies With Grade Threes

Goofy how-to videos are out there in abundance.  I actually think the best way to learn how to draw ANYTHING, is to observe it…look at it…analyse it.  But, this morning, I didn’t have a bucket of Easter lilies and after a 40 day journey of Lent, I’d love to leave the children with the anticipation of spring, new life, renewal and Easter.  In this video, I like the idea of drawing the star shape first.  I can’t guarantee that after you do a step-by-step activity of any sort, that you will be an overnight artist!

To begin with, in their visual journals, the students wrote a ‘waiting for spring’ short poem, after brain storming vocabulary words.  On the next page, they drew their lilies.

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We will use this video as a reference, as well as my own photographs of lilies in my garden, for studies in visual journals.  These will be tucked away once we move into compositions.  Initially, I had thought to paint tulips with the students, but, the limited palette of white and a number of greens will make the preparation quick and easy.

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I provided a limited palette, having mixed up a variety of tints of green plus yellow and white.  The grade threes began by drawing their images in chalk and then outlining their lilies in a single colour.  Each bucket of paint includes two brushes so two friends share the same colour.  I mixed fifteen colours, knowing that I had twenty five students.  The focus of my side coaching and support was to remind them how unique flowers are and that they are like us, in that there is no single flower that looks like another.

Here are their paintings.

Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 041 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 040 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 039 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 038 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 037 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 036 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 035 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 034 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 033 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 032 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 031 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 030 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 029 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 028 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 027 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 026 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 025 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 024 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 023 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 022 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 021

After music class and their agenda writing, wee Isaiah came up to me and gave me this little gift…proof of the extended learning and  that made me super happy!

Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 043

Display…ready for proper caption.  Thanks for your class, Jenn!

Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 044

 

The Peel Project

My children are warm-hearted and inclusive.  Last night I was very excited to have been invited, very spontaneously, by Cayley, to the viewing of the documentary, The Peel, in the intimacy of The Blank Page studio.

It was Cayley who, 27 years ago, picked purple flowers for me, while surrounded by wolf willow, at the edge of the Oldman River at Maycroft Crossing.

Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 005

Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 008

I had missed the huge public viewings of the film the night before.  So, as I look back on last evening, I’m very grateful that I was able to curl up on a sofa and enjoy such remarkable vistas coming out of the Peel Watershed documentary and to enjoy, in part,  the narratives of the participants on this wondrous adventure.  I could not help but connect with the narratives, struggles and histories in the documentary, given my close connection with the Oldman Watershed in southern Alberta in the mid 1970s through the 1980s.

OldmanWatershed

First, to describe the Peel project, directly from the website, this…

The Peel is a multi-layered project bringing together film, the arts and sciences as a means of telling a uniquely Canadian story of art, adventure and Canadian identity. The Peel highlights the landscape, culture and wildlife of the Peel River Watershed (PRW) in Yukon/Northwest territories. This watershed is one of the last undeveloped watersheds left in Canada, spanning nearly 68,000km2 of intact arctic wilderness.  As of January 2014 71% was opened for economic development related to mining and oil exploration — that decision has been continuously fought.

There is something very interesting about aging…one collects a whole bunch of experiences that later, become reference points for others.  I’ve always treasured the words and stories of my elders…now, very slowly, I become the elder.  It makes me smile.  Life marches forward.  We are left with the photographs and the archives and the documentaries.

Surprisingly, as I sat down this morning and did a search of the internet for the steps that we took in defiance of the building of the Oldman River Dam, there was very little in the way of an ideological footprint (there have been a couple of books written, one newspaper archive and the mention of the Oldman River Expedition appears sparsely on a whole number of artists’ Curriculum Vitaes) and so I decided to dig up my own archives coming from the late 1980s.

First of all, SAAG in Lethbridge celebrated the works of the following artists in an exhibit, as a response to a shorter but similar journey down the Oldman River.

In the summer of 1990, a group of well-known artists in all media from across the country took part in a week-long rafting and camping expedition down the Oldman River, arriving in Lethbridge on Canada Day. This exhibition will document that trip by showing that the work was initiated by that experience. Participating Alberta artists are: Barbara Ballachey, Carroll Moppett, Stephen Hutchings, Jeffery Spalding, Janet Cardiff, Billy McCarroll, Catherine Burgess and others include Dan Hudson, Tim Zuck, Judith Schwarz, Toni Onley, Tak Tanabe, Terence Johnson, Robert Blake and Landon MacKenzie. Although the work in this exhibition is diverse in media and approach, it is unified in its tribute to the southern Alberta landscape. – See more at: http://www.saag.ca/art/exhibitions/0516-the-oldman-river-expedition-exhibition#sthash.Z0dUPaWF.dpuf

I continue to admire the work of several of these artists and have followed their careers and work with great interest.

While painting could not be my sole focus through this precise period of time, I had been painting the Oldman River as a subject for a number of years.  Nestled on the edge of the river, the University of Lethbridge had already been my home for four years at this point.  The river became an obsession with me for many years and I had spent countless days/hours exploring and dreaming in the coulees and at the river bottom.  When the politics became heated over all aspects of irrigation and development of a Dam on the Oldman, I was consumed and soon became a contributing member to the “Friends of the Oldman”.  My own grandfather, the owner of Magrath Wool, Card and Spinning Mill, had taken a position on the Oldman Planning Committee.

Grampa Moors 2

The number of connections I made and conversations I shared around the river, grew. I remember meeting and speaking with Joane Cardinal Schubert at the time.  It was an image of hers that became the poster for our legal and artistic struggle.

Joane Cardinal Schubert and the River 2

Joane Cardinal Schubert and the River I began painting a series titled Oldman on the Edge and continued to paint the river right into the 1990s.

Maycroft 3

I snapped some photographs from my albums this morning…as our family, like many others, headed out very early in the morning and drove from Calgary to Maycroft Crossing for a musical festival to raise funds and to voice opposition of the dam that was already in the works.  That day, I met Ian Tyson, Gordon Lightfoot, Andy Russell and Chief Crowshoe.

Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 010Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 009Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 013Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 001Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 007Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 006Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 003Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 004

Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 012

So…was it any wonder that I felt deeply about the documentary, The Peel, last evening?  I’m glad I had opportunity to talk with both Katie Green and Daniel J. Dirk for a short while.  I admire their attempts to integrate the power of the journey, their artistic practice and their strong desire to preserve, for future generations, this last remaining watershed in North America.  It’s crazy what has happened to our rivers, in the name of progress and in support of industry.  I understand their efforts to articulate what their journey on a portion of the Peel has come to mean to them.  I know that, given my own physical/emotional/psychological efforts on  a 31 day Outward Bound experience (white water and mountain climbing), what it means to try to ‘be an artist’ on a journey and how it must have been challenging for the artists on the Peel Project.

Reflecting back, again, on ‘my’ river…take a look at this…the land use…the cut lines.

Land use Oldman Watershed

I’m publishing a few pages that come out of a 2010 report on the Oldman Watershed…I think it touches on the history of a river and might give my readers something to think about.  I guess something that really touched my heart last night were Daniel’s words to me…and I paraphrase…

I guess even if our voices aren’t heard and we are unsuccessful in our efforts to create sustainability, where the watershed is concerned, we will have been defiant and stood in opposition.  Maybe that’s the best we can do sometimes.

2010 Oldman Watershed Report Preface

2010 Page 2

2010 Page 3

2010 Page 4

2010 Page 5

Aldo Leopold’s words ring true…

“We end, I think, at what might be called the standard paradox of the 20th century; our tools are better than we are, and grow better faster than we do.  They suffice to crack the atom, to command the tides.  But they do not suffice for the oldest task in human history; to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.”

Congratulations on the North American premiere The Peel, a free Art!Flicks documentary directed by Calder Cheverie and Anthony Wallace.  Congratulations to six artists; Aurora Darwin, Carleigh Baker, Anthony Wallace, Katie Green, Daniel J. Kirk and Callan Field.