Road Trip and Angels

I drove out to Folk Tree Lodge this afternoon after my pond exploration with Max.  After a couple of days of rain, the world was brilliant green and blue.  It was the absolutely most perfect day for a drive west toward the mountains.

White puffs of seed playfully made their way to the ground…magic!

Artist, Alvise Doglioni Majer was there to meet me, on his bike, carrying May and June.

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May has as her vegetation, the pussy willow and as her featured animal, mother and baby moose;  June, the dandelion and the bear waking after winter’s rest.  I treasure these angels so much and I enjoy my monthly ride out to see Alvise.  It was nice to compare travel stories about the Lake Superior route and eastern Canada experiences.  It makes me hungry for a big road trip!

 

I was thinking about these angels and today’s news about Tragically Hip’s musician Gord Downie.  Driving home, CBC radio played Courage…and I thought how appropriate that I should be collecting this beautiful series of angels.

Killdeer Protective Behaviour

I am so amazed by what I learn on a daily basis because I show up at a single pond every day, no matter the weather.  Today I had opportunity to witness this little beauty being protective of her eggs.  I keep Max on leash on every walk these days because it is a very precarious time for all of the birds in this ecosystem.  Max is very co-operative and sits silently whenever I am observing or snapping photographs.  The only time he becomes super alert is when we are close to coyotes and deer.  His ears point and he stairs in the direction of the smell/movement.

He sat nicely as I watched this happening.  I am so in awe of nature and the strength of tiny creatures in the face of huge predators and insurmountable odds.

I’ll never be in that class of photographers where I am selling my images, but as a matter of respect, if you wish to use them for teaching and explaining, please credit me the documentation.  Thanks.

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Moors Family Quilt 1978

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Given that I’m a big family historian, it’s strange that my own name appears nowhere on our family quilt, presented to my grandfather and grandmother Moors in 1978.  But then, I think that my brother, Stuart, is also missing…so, that’s life. ;0)

What I dearly love is that my mother’s embroidery…her handwriting…and her wishes appear here.  It’s as though Mom made me a little visit today as I was documenting the quilt.

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I thought that if I photographed each of the squares, the family, as it was shaped in 1978 (because families change…you know it…for all sorts of different reasons), people might want to save a digital photo for their own history.  I think it’s pretty darned special.

I dug through my own personal photographs, taken with an old film camera and found these two references.  I like that my Auntie Eleanor is present in one and that my Auntie Ruth is in the other.

Grampa Moors receiving quilt Auntie Eleanor on far right

Grampa Moors with family quilt Ruth in background

I think that might be my Auntie Mary in the background here, with Laura Lee on her hip…not certain.

My own family was represented by the following squares, lovingly embroidered by Mom.  Dad’s features a big muskie he once caught…

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I hope that my family, after celebrating such a wonderful party this past weekend in Magrath, will enjoy these posts and perhaps tuck a few squares away in their files!  Play list from 1978…just let this Youtube go…

 

 

From the same reunion, my cousin, Danny…then…

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…and now!

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Angels…

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Ashleigh Bartlett Workshop

I never fail to be excited by the programs and resources available to us in Calgary.  Some weeks ago, I attended a workshop led by Ashleigh Bartlett at the Esker Foundation.  There, we explored the possibilities within abstract painting, with a lovely connection drawn between the works of Jack Bush and Colleen Heslin and process.  The process of exploration included elements of collage, painting and play.  Thank you to Esker for providing such hospitality and wonderful materials.

Thank you to Ashleigh, for sharing a clear and embracing experience!  I’m sad to see this exhibit go.  It has been so inspiring.

Since teaching this workshop, Ashleigh has received one of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards for Emerging Artists.  This made me so happy.

Ashleigh actually took the time to chat with me about my thoughts on being a self-taught artist versus ‘a real artist’ (one who has attained credentials).  Years ago I made a choice to attain a Bachelor of Education degree, with a double major in art and English and never did receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts.  As a result, when I applied for a Masters in Studio Art program some years ago, the wind was knocked out of my sails when I learned that my years and years of accumulated portfolio work was not in any way equivalent to ‘THE DEGREE’.  So, I registered with ACAD and completed my third year toward a BFA, while on Sabbatical from my school district, but when my friends moved on to their fourth year and graduation, I had to return to teaching.  All these years later, the registrars office people seemed less than impressed with my desire to enroll for my fourth year and the two studio courses remaining.  They were not encouraging.  Ashleigh told me to NOT lose hope based on the hoops that they have created for me to jump through.  She encouraged me and for this, I am most grateful.

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More of Mark!

I guess I’ve published a few posts, now, about  Mark Vazquez-Mackay.

Here

and

Here

and

Here

Gee, I must be a fan!  And…I am!

Last Friday night, Mark exhibited his travel sketches at the Rumble House.  I hope that my Calgary readers took the opportunity to enjoy this show and the narratives and the hospitality.  It was a wonderful thing!  While I won’t write a lot here, I will post my documentation of the exhibit.

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The next three photographs are posted, with permission by the photographer, Rich Theroux, on the trade that I will show up for figure drawing on Thursday night. :0)

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Cleaning Up the Desk Top Computer

I think I was looking for my photograph archives from a trip I took with my son, the summer of 2009, when I came upon some images from the end of the teaching year and celebrations with my students; specifically, my grade nine art students, our life sized sculpture exhibit and my grade seven home room.

It was that year that I invited my students to bring in a special object for our prayer table…so, every Monday, it would be the next person’s turn.  It started with me…and a stone. Jarrett Alley, a former student of mine, had passed away in 1997 at the age of 13. His place in the classroom was two rows back, but directly across from the framed article that remained, for all of my teaching years, a tribute to his life.

I think I always intended to copy and pass on a photo to each student at the end of that year, but evidently that never happened!

I’m going to loop the photographs here.  My students, of over thirty years of teaching, remain in my heart.

For the most part, I am out of touch with these students, so if my readers know any of them, please share.

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The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

A quick review. I was pretty excited to hear that Lawrence Hill was coming again to Calgary and some time after registering to attend his talk at the John Dutton Theater,  his new book, The Illegal, won the Canada Reads competition on CBC radio.  I was pretty stoked and headed out to the book shop to pick up my hard cover and get it read before his visit.

For the record, I have been a #1 fan of Lawrence Hill’s writing.  His Book of Negroes and Any Known Blood shook me to my core.  While I haven’t read Blood: The Stuff of Life, I have heard Mr. Hill address this title in a few different book talks and have really really enjoyed those as well.

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From Goodreads…a brief summary.

Lawrence Hill spellbound readers with Someone Knows My Name(made into the television mini-series, The Book of Negroes), hailed as “transporting” (Entertainment Weekly) and “completely engrossing” (Washington Post). The Illegal is the gripping story of Keita Ali, a refugee—like the many in today’s headlines—compelled to leave his homeland.

All Keita has ever wanted to do is to run. Running means respect and wealth at home. His native Zantoroland, a fictionalized country whose tyrants are eerily familiar, turns out the fastest marathoners on earth. But after his journalist father is killed for his outspoken political views, Keita must flee to the wealthy nation of Freedom State—a country engaged in a crackdown on all undocumented people.

There, Keita becomes a part of the new underground. He learns what it means to live as an illegal: surfacing to earn cash prizes by running local races and assessing whether the people he meets will be kind or turn him in. As the authorities seek to arrest Keita, he strives to elude capture and ransom his sister, who has been kidnapped.

Set in an imagined country bearing a striking resemblance to our own, this tension-filled novel casts its eye on race, human potential, and what it means to belong.

The first problem, for me, came with the ‘imagined’ setting.  I think that I would have found the story more compelling had this narrative been more closely linked to a geographical truth.  This IS a very contemporary issue and is global in nature, but I would have felt the story to be more honest without the invention of ‘place’.

The characters were believable and interesting, but I felt there were too many of them telling this particular story.  I would have appreciated a more clear perspective on this writing.

For me, the most disappointing aspect of the book was its ending.  I felt that it came quickly and was resolved too perfectly.

Goodreads feedback seemed to be in line with what I was thinking…for me, this one was a disappointment.  In the end, every one should meet this author…a smart and entertaining man who is very sincere in his craft and is inspiring for his process.

Lawrence Hill

The Illegal

Thanks to the Calgary Public Library for hosting a wonderful event!  I’m always so proud of the work that the library does to promote literacy and engagement.  I’d like to see a return to the One Book: One Calgary events that we’ve enjoyed in the past.  It was really lovely that refreshing beverages and snacks were served!  Such amazing hospitality.  It was also nice to be together with my dear Ya Yas in culture.  A great night!  Pick up The Illegal, read it and let me know your thoughts.

 

CBC Calgary Reads Big Book Sale

I’m pretty pumped about finding eleven solid ‘reads’ at the CBC Big Book Sale.  For going on four weeks, I’ve been down for the count with some hack and honk virus and reading is right up my alley right now.  I’ve been avoiding gatherings and sticking to time on my own as much as possible.  There’s nothing wrong with that sometimes.  Anyway, here are my treasures, a mere $4.00 a piece.

First, I picked up the first book of Ken Follett’s Century trilogy.  It’s been a long time since I read Follett, having thoroughly enjoyed his first Trilogy.  I’ve heard good things about this one also, so looking forward to propping this big baby up in bed very soon!

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E. Annie Proulx is one of my favourite writers and I spotted one that I haven’t read, That Old Ace in the Hole.  I’d have to agree with this; Prize–winner Proulx imparts this information with such minute accuracy that it’s like seeing a painting up close and magnified, with each tiny brush stroke lovingly emphasized. One grows quite fond of the characters so beset by nature, fate and bizarre accidents, especially old Ace Crouch, a lifelong repairer of windmills, who represents the joke that the title promises.

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Complicated, Iris Murdoch became of interest to me when I saw the movie, Iris.  The fact that she suffered Alzheimer’s disease made her story so special.  Words meant everything to Iris, in her life.  Her husband, John Bayley, also a writer, was dedicated to Iris Murdoch in the most amazing way.  When I remember his part in her life, I think of my father.  I found The Green Knight at the Big Book Sale.

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I absolutely treasure Timothy Findley’s writing and consider them some of my favourites!  If you haven’t read Findley, please do!  I was happy to find hidden amid all of the more popular things in the ‘General’ section,  a novella, You Went Away.  Excited for this.  Timothy Findley’s female characters are forever-compelling.

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I’ve met Karsten on at least two or three occasions and heard him speak twice.  He wrote and filmed Being Caribou, a book and documentary that inspired me and my growth as a human being.  I heard him speak of this Walking the Big Wild, but had never picked it up.  Whoot!  Another great and hidden gem!

Walking the Big Wild is the story of Karsten Heuer’s extraordinary 18-month journey of hiking, sking, and paddling across 2100 miles of mountains, forests, and rivers from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to the Canadian Yukon. Accompanied by occasional human companions and a remarkable border collie named Webster, Heuer encountered immense challenges: storms, avalanches, floods, and grizzlies. At the end of the journey, Heuer proved that there is nearly continuous wilderness that can support wildlife along the length of the Rockies-and is salvageable if the right decisions are made now.

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I picked this one up out of interest in the topic and the geographies of the north…quite intrigued by this one as its format includes both poetry and prose, a sincere concern for the ice.  Looking forward to reading Enduring Dreams: An Exploration of Arctic Landscape by John Moss.

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As I gazed upon the options in the Visual Arts and Photography section, I felt as though I was looking at my own collection at times.  This one, Female Gazes, stood out because it is beautifully illustrated with concise autobiographic material on each of 75 female artists.  Fun!

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If you’ve read any Nick Bantock books, you would know that Barbara Hodgson, another Vancouver writer, has a similar approach of writing mythologies along side amazing collage and visual images.  I don’t have this little treasure, and given my travels with daughter Erin, back packing from Palermo, Sicily all the way up to Venice, Italy, this will be a gem!

With its genius for art and culture, there is no country in the world as wonderfully civilized (and civilizing) as Italy. But seething below this surface is a long and shadowy history of corruption, cruelty, and the generally bizarre. For centuries it has been overrun by waves of invaders, all contributing their own questionable bits of culture, and all wantonly adding to the confusion. So, how is a poor visitor supposed to make sense of this anarchic place? Co-creator of the cult favorite Paris Out of Hand, Barbara Hodgson has neatly brushed away the chaos and assembled an eclectic treasury of forgotten and overlooked oddities: long-lost popes, bloodthirsty mercenaries, tempestuous artists, and inexplicable follies. Italy Out of Hand is not a traditional guidebook, with hotel addresses and hours of operation. Rather, it is an idiosyncratic tour of a country that is too overwhelming and extravagant for most of us to comprehend without a little guidance. Illustrated with an equally eclectic selection of photographs, portraits, and art, Italy Out of Hand is the perfect companion for those who like their truths to be stranger than fiction.

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If you listen to CBC radio at all, you will be familiar with Thomas King.  I enjoyed several seasons of his Dead Dog Cafe series.  He is a consummate story teller!  I was so happy to find this little treasure.  Tom King has a way of using tongue-in-cheek humour to get to the heart of painful histories.

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I’m not familiar with this author, but the topic was of interest to me.  I was thinking of artist, Bev Tosh’s series of War Brides.  An historical fiction, I think this will be appealing to me.

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I did really well finding these books at the sale.  I hope my Calgary readers have a chance to get out to make their own selections over this weekend.  Happy reading!

Rumble House: May 11, 2016

The car got a detailing.  I purchased a new soft-walled kennel for Max.  I made a nice grilled cheese sandwich and then I headed down for a two hour Rumble.  It was good to take out the paint box and hang with these beautiful people.

Painting dissolves the forms at its command, or tends to; it melts them into color. Drawing, on the other hand, goes about resolving forms, giving edge and essence to things. To see shapes clearly, one outlines them–whether on paper or in the mind. Therefore, Michelangelo, a profoundly cultivated man, called drawing the basis of all knowledge whatsoever.

Just some photos…and grateful to Ralph and Edgar for purchasing my piece at auction.
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This moment, this being, is the thing. My life is all life in little. The moon, the planets, pass around my heart. The sun, now hidden by the round bulk of this earth, shines into me, and in me as well. The gods and the angels both good and bad are like the hairs of my own head, seemingly numberless, and growing from within. I people the cosmos from myself, it seems, yet what am I? A puff of dust, or a brief coughing spell, with emptiness and silence to follow.  Alexander Eliot

Little Birds

Thank you, Jenn, for your wonderful class!  They were amazing, respectful and so appreciative of everything I had to share with them.  I enjoyed being in your class.  I’ve collected a few ideas here that I thought other teachers might appreciate.

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These art ideas are colourful and include subjects that grade three students adore, ANIMALS!  I turned on Duke’s LIVE Eagle Cam while the students wrote their journal pages this morning and they were amazed.

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I browsed around as they worked and discovered some wonderful guidance in the word walls, the charts and the resources that are posted for student use throughout the classroom.

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This afternoon, I spoke to the students a little bit about how we can sometimes feel abandoned by God, at times when big things happen, like the news of so many people having to leave their homes in Fort McMurray.  This morning in Health, we had learned about several ways to calm ourselves down when life is stressful and we practiced a five minute meditation together.  It was amazing how calming that time was!

So, we wondered this afternoon,’when something big happens, what are some ways that we can calm down the stressful feelings we are having?’  Well, it is really helpful to know that there are kind and caring people around who are going to be there for us.  I spoke to them about the Footprints prayer and that sometimes when we don’t experience God close to us, “it is then that HE carries us”.  We are not alone.  Look at the lilies of the fields.  Look at the sparrows…the tiny birds…if our Father loves them, how much more does He love us?

I moved from this shared conversation into an art activity where I spoke to the students about observing a sparrow family in a vent across from my kitchen table.  I’ve watched these sparrows for the past six years.  At this point, there were all sorts of stories shared about nests/eggs/sparrows and I tried to listen to every one of them.

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The students are really getting to appreciate that a visual journal is for practice and exploration.  I was really impressed by their studies.

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I handed out small-scale pieces of heavy toothed white paper for their final compositions. While students were drawing, they took turns painting swirling sky colour onto blue construction mural paper, in order to create a sense of spring and atmosphere.  The students added colour with pencil crayon, to their final depictions and after observing several projected images of sparrows.

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Collaborative projects are a way of displaying smaller projects that are skill oriented.  Thanks for your class today, Jenn.