Returning to Belleville

I’m getting ready to return to Belleville and as I do, I am not only thrilled about seeing my father and spending ‘real’ time with him again, but I look forward to visiting Belleville.  Belleville has ended up being a remarkable place, offering experiences that I would not enjoy in any other place across Canada.  I like the arts community.  I am in love with the history and the architecture.  I’ve yet to find any places with live music.  That’s a goal this year.  I’ve made friends in Belleville…not many my age…but people who are rich with stories of love and loss and youthful remembering.

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Cool Breeze on a Very Humid Evening!

Writers come out of Belleville or nearby…for example, on the edge of Roblin Lake.

Dad and I attended an event at Al Purdy’s A Frame last visit…I will return for a visit to the museum and the A Frame again this summer, that’s for sure.

 

 

I will return to Susanna Moodie’s home and look for the same warmth and mystery that I remember experiencing at my last visit.  I will visit the memorial to her life that has been erected, in part, because of my explorations and non-relenting communications with the city.  Most currently published, is a graphic novel Susanna Moodie: Roughing It in the Bush by Carol Shields and Patrick Crowe, illustrated by Selena Goulding.

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My mother will not be there.  But roses will be blooming or will have bloomed in Belleville.

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I will share Power and Politics with my Dad and we will sip red wine that has been ‘cooking’ at Dave’s.

I am looking forward to getting out on the high way.  I’ll be listening to myself.

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Flower Walking at Many Springs

Many Springs 2007

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Many Springs 2012

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It was that time of year…time to check out the blooms.  It was sad to see Val have to stay back.  Little Ollie got sick at our meet-up spot and his Mom had to do the nurturing thing.  I thought about Val a lot today.

So, it was just the four of us for a walk about and a picnic.  It seems that the lack of water has impacted the lushness of the wild flowers this year.  I don’t know if I’m right on that or not.  We got our standard bridge photograph and the shot from the little floating deck.  Oh!  And this year, we met up with three Kananaskis volunteers who were passing out reminders of etiquette as it relates to bears.  Just up the trail a bit…a little sampling of bear skat was in evidence.  Had to get a photograph of that.  I don’t think we EVER think of bears when we come to Many Springs!  Always a first!

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We missed you, Carla, Dar and Val!  Next year!

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Orchid

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Wild Columbine

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Wild Asters

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Tiger Lily

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Lady Slipper

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Shooting Star

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Paintbrush

Our stops along the way…

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Three Friends

Cathy, Kath and Wendy

Hiking Many Springs

Wendy, Darren and Kath

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Picnic lunch at the end of it all.

 

 

 

Clearing Out the Cobwebs

I’m lugging a big box of paper out to the recycle bin.  It always feels good to do the ‘big sort’ and eliminate some of that stack!

I found a few gems though…I’m not going to say much about it.

In looking at these photographs, I can see why I got a C in photography.  I never really ‘got’ the idea of producing a body of work on a theme.  I chose something like death to resurrection, rather than ‘blossoms’.  Do you get what I’m saying?  Who would ever be able to understand that?  I’ll post those photographs (yes, I’m keeping them) one day and we’ll see if any of my readers can figure out what I was trying to convey.  I’m sitting here, laughing.

These three little sketches created a bit of nostalgia in me, though.  The drawings on the cupboard, created in Pauline’s drawing class.  I MADE THAT MACRAME!  The objects in silhouette, all remind me of some place, some one or a special experience.  The sheep area rug came from my Grandfather’s woolen mill.  Anyway, it is what it is.  These three photographs ended up in the ‘keeper’ pile.

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Mark Mehrer’s stereo sitting there…Valdy and Bruce Cockburn records…Stanley, my guitar.

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Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury: Chapter 21

OH!  To have had an audio tape!  I used to make my own tapes.  I read aloud late at night, staying slightly ahead of the students.  Dandelion Wine is my favourite book.  Take a listen, if you have 9 hours to spend, just sitting still, or while you’re working in your studio, just listen.  You will learn to take pause, if you let this book’s lessons sink through the tough shell that has become your busy life and settle on your heart.

This post is about Chapter 21 and Douglas’s loss of his dear friend, John Huff.  I guess if you are the daughter of a military man, this might even mean more.

Taking your time and noticing is what this post is all about.  As one pours on the years, one realizes that in order to slow things down, one needs to start noticing.

I was hot and sweaty and cleaning out the paint buckets that I had used with grade ones, painting that day, when I heard my cell phone ding.

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My friend, Michael, had sent a text that he’d like to drop by.  I thought immediately that we might go to the pond, with Max, and enjoy what was left of the beautiful day.  I rushed, swirling the pink water out of brushes and buckets, returned my tools to the storage closet and was out and on my way.

Mike was sitting on the steps when I arrived and Max’s nose was lifted, sniffing against the window.

A quick change into play clothes and we were off to the pond!  Michael patiently observed the life and light of the water, the clouds and the life surrounding this special place.  It was so nice to have a witness to Frank’s Flats and the place that I know so well.

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Michael is always taking amazing photographs, but rarely appears in any of them.  I like that he looks out at the world!  No selfies for this guy!  So, on this outing, I would be witness to his life!

We enjoyed the explorations of baby coots. I took my photo of the bush. And then we were on our way for the next adventure.  Some time ago, I had seen one remarkable photograph on Michael’s social media archive.  He told me that it was taken at McKinnon’s Flats.  I asked if ever he went back, would I be able to join him?  This was the day.  Here’s the photograph that inspired the request!

Michael Collette Mackinnon's flats

Photo Credit: Michael Colette

I didn’t stay left on 22X and so we ended up going north on Stoney Trail.  That was okay!  Meant to be!  We began our slow enjoyable zig zag across the rural landscape, making our way, with ease, back south to McKinnon’s Flats.  I saw a bird I had never seen!  And the light and wonder of it all was very enjoyable.

The sandpiper…

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Michael’s photograph….from this location…truly captured the magic!

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Photo Credit: Michael Collette

The panorama view that opened up as we began our descent into the valley, at river’s edge, was spectacular.  Next time, I will document that.  It took my breath away.

Once at the river’s edge, Michael pulled out our picnic food.  A refreshing potato salad filled with the flavours of fresh veg and lovely dressing…and an icy cold hibiscus drink, so refreshing!  Max observed, but was hungry to be free of his leash and to explore the water’s edge.  It wasn’t long until I did just that.

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The stretch of walk we took, saw zillions of little moths lighting up the already-electric air.  We chatted about photography and light and the sky the entire way.  Out of nowhere about 75 striking white pelicans, hung on the air just above our heads.  I grabbed my camera and snapped this wee instant as a documentation of the memory, that in no way, captures the intensity of the moment.  We decided, standing still above the river, that this moment was meant just for the two of us…two good friends enjoying evening light.

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In order to really gather up my life, I need to do this.  Slow down.  Watch light.  Treasure friendship, my children, my family.  Listen to music.  Make art. Write.

I am grateful for the inspired invitation to go for a Sunday drive on Friday.  Everything that I had planned for the evening, went out the window.  And it was exactly as it should be.  My life is a blessed life.

Slow down

 

May and June

This past winter was an unusual season, so mild that it was difficult to even classify it as winter.  The plows came around once.  We had two big dumps of snow.  And, that was it.  Spring came early, with many warm days in March.  As a result, everything is dry.

At my kitchen window, in the neighbour’s vent,  Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow have nested three times, all without success.  On the first go, we had babies and Mom and Dad did a marvelous job feeding and protecting their wee ones and then all at once, one morning, there was silence.  Given that the duct tape I had applied last season had fallen off (and I’m sort of glad it did because I always imagined my neighbour charging me for a repair), I believe that either a Crow or Magpie rampaged the nest.  The sparrows tried two more times, but with no successful hatch. The nest is now abandoned, apart from the occasional visit from an adult. This has made me pretty disappointed because I enjoyed my daily observations of Sparrow behaviour, while I worked at my kitchen sink.

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The Fort McMurray blaze happened and left the province in shock.  To not mention this would just be wrong. The media images of the devastation and mass exodus from the city were terrifying.  I think that this fire changed all of us in ways we could not imagine.  Our hearts are still reaching out to those impacted most.  In an economy that was already struggling with woes, this has contributed additional stress.  My prayers continue to be for those impacted and for the fire fighters who continue to make efforts to quell this blaze.  This image, from Jonathan Hayward, Canadian Press.

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A giant fireball is seen as a wild fire rips through the forest 16 km south of Fort McMurray, Alberta on highway 63 Saturday, May 7, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

There just isn’t a transition from that!  As a result of the differing and dry climate, different insects are inhabiting our gardens.  My asparagus failed to come up this year and very few Oriental poppies.  My strawberry plants are weak, as are my lupines. I learned, one morning, while taking photographs that this is all due to the destruction of the Tarnished Plant Bug, last season and this.  I’ve spent these months trying to ethically rid my garden of the ‘damned’ things.  Sadly, this means I will likely be chasing them away to someone else’s garden.  I am thinking it will take me a couple of seasons to build up my garden again and I’m anticipating more damage next summer, given that the bugs likely produced eggs before I got on to this.  Gardening causes me to think about what it must mean to farm and to weigh my decisions around protecting beneficials such as bees and lady bugs.

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Tarnished Plant Bug presence Noted!

Different birds have settled into the pond area at Frank’s Flats.  It’s easy for me to notice because of my close relationship with this location the past five years.

Last year, at this time, I was watching the nesting practices of Osprey very closely.

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In late April, this year, two nesting platforms maintained by Enmax were pulled down as a result of future infrastructure development on the Stoney Trail ring road and so things have changed. I can only keep track of a single platform from a huge distance.  There is no access at this location on Sheriff King Road, for viewing.  I think that the relocation happened just in the nick of time, however, so I am grateful for the efforts of Enmax. Presently, Mr. and Mrs. are watching over a couple of eggs, if not chicks by this time.

Mr. or Mrs. showed up right on time this year, overlooking the pond south of 22X and exactly where the platforms were located last year.  I’m not certain if this is one of the siblings born last season or if it is one of the adults, but I am really happy that we have this presence.

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No place to go, the Osprey began building on the tops of the power poles.  This photo was taken once all nesting materials had been removed, demonstrating the adult Osprey’s determination to set up camp.  I quickly contacted Enmax via Twitter and from there, same-day action ensued and a new location was selected for the erection of the platform.  Disappointed, I knew that I wouldn’t, with my Canon Power Shot, be able to monitor the nest this season.

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From a distance, I saw that the very next day, male and female had established a home, with an abundance of nesting materials.  It was a thrill to see.

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I have visited a few times, just to make certain that the beautiful raptors have had a successful experience.  Only a week ago, I checked in.  Mr. is attentive as Mrs. sits patiently.  These two are slightly behind the other nest I watch, nearing the edge of the Bow River at Sikome Lake, but they look like they are managing.

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Birds have been plentiful at the pond and I’ve nudged up closer than in the past.  Sometimes I imagine the birds saying, “Oh, it’s just her again!”  I still haven’t made the capture of a male or female Shoveler and that disappoints, given that they attended the pond in large numbers this year.  Because they are so skittish, I also haven’t a focused photo of either variety of Grebe, although I’ve captured some great out-of-focus drama!  Below, see some of my collection of species this year.  I am thrilled with the closeness I have developed with nature and seeming, all because I am present for a walk each day, since October 13, in order to take a single photograph of a bush on Instagram.  I have been blessed!

 

The garden has not disappointed and continues to give me a quiet place to sip my coffee in the warm morning sun.  I’ve always received peace in flowers and green. This was a very early photograph…I can’t believe how things have changed and I’ll have to get out there again to snap a photograph or two.

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My Auntie Ruth turned 90, as did the Queen of England.  This meant a trip to Raymond and it meant a 200.00 speeding ticket!  It was a beautiful reunion of family!

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So much in the way of art and art exhibits!  I guess compared to usual, maybe a little less. The Ivor Strong Bridge has been dealing with some repairs and so I feel, every evening, as though I am on an island and don’t wish to struggle my way out of the community.  Not so much live music.  I think I’m going to have to remedy that!  I was definitely grateful for Allan Rosale’s invitation to the University of Calgary!

I’m very interested in learning the traditions and practice of Indigenous dance.  Jess has been so helpful in this regard and is a very inspiring teacher as well as practitioner.  I hope to continue with this study more consistently throughout this coming year.  I met Jess through Eileen since we were all in attendance to the Juno Awards event that featured Indigenous Nominees and included a power house performance by Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Jess, Kath and Eileen

I hope that if you or your children are interested, you might contact me for information as the camps and study continue throughout the summer.  Such a positive and physical experience! Sîpihkopiwâyisîs Jess McMann-Sparvier is a powerful spokesperson for her cultural traditions and is inclusive, finding the narratives so important to share.  She is rooted in history and is constantly doing research.  She combines her delight for music, dance, tradition and teaching and is just one of those people you must meet and spend time with!

While I may not be athletic, I find this circle of beautiful people to have a very positive impact on me and the dance forms, a definite wake-up-call to my muscles!

Read Trail of Tears to Prokofiev HERE.

Find the link to Indigenous Dance Studio here.

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May and June have been full and richly lived…home repairs, teaching, paint, writing, family history.  I can’t ever imagine life not being beautiful.  I am filled up as I look at what has passed this last month and a half.

 

 

 

The Week in Review: The Loss of My Mother

 

Mom and Kath

Tuesday marked the third anniversary of the loss of my mother.  It’s one of the many difficult dates on the calendar, where Mom is concerned.  She wouldn’t wish for us to carry this much pain and heart ache, but grief is just like that.  It ebbs and flows and sometimes feels like it drowns us.  No one person can be blamed for how they grieve or what they do about it…their struggle to smother it or ignore it or constantly process it…it all has to be okay.  By embracing the journey, one never truly sees the world in the same way, but one can see the world and be in the world and carry on.

So…I put on a pair of Mom’s socks in the morning.  I brought her socks home with me three years ago when I headed out from Dad’s on my Trans Canada drive west.  In my mind I suppose I thought that at some point the socks would wear out, but, I’ve been lucky that way.

I said the rosary out loud before leaving for school.  Thoughts of Mom had inspired that.

Grief is exhausting.  I remember that I felt tired on Tuesday.  I went over in my head what  I was doing before and during and after receiving the news about my mother’s passing.  I played the one voice recording from a telephone call Mom had made years ago…one I had never erased.  I wanted to hear Mom’s voice.

I had a cry,  a couple of cries, privately.  I was so grateful to be painting during the day, with grade ones.  They painted kites and were so very excited and into it that life captured me…a wind carried me…and I felt lighter also.

I Skyped with Dad.  I always look forward to that.

I went to the pond and took a photograph of a bush.

I will always miss my mother.  The thing is, I was so very blessed to be her daughter that every day I know that I lucked out.  I am grateful that I carry so much of her in me.  I like it that sometimes when I laugh, I hear her laugh.  I love and never take for granted, my family.

The Week in Review: Paint!

I was blessed to be asked to guest teach for the entire week in one school.  I was so happy to be able to paint with children.  It is a joy to mix colours in buckets and to share them with young people.  Watching them journey through a process such as this is so gratifying.  To pour paint colours straight out of the bottle would never be enough for me!  I like to create a palette that sings!

Colour mixing

Just a few photographs were collected this week, as most days I forgot my camera.

Grade Ones painted kites on the anniversary of my mother’s passing.  I could not help but think of Mom’s spirit…soaring. The children had painted once before with me, so they nailed their technique!

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Grade two paintings of hot air balloons…I added red and blue to Tuesday’s palette.

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Concentric lines around summer symbols.  “When I call SNOWBALL, trade your paint bucket and move to a different spot!”  Everything was wonderful until the wind picked our mural up like a kite and flipped it onto its face.   Oh well, there was just a half hour left so we headed to the field for some kickball. The red, yellow and white are right out of the bottle and all of the other colours are mixed.

The Week in Review: Compassion Under Contemporary Conditions

The week began with Live Painting at Congress 2016, a huge event hosted by the University of Calgary that included ‘six interdisciplinary symposia to exhibit the university’s most compelling and leading-edge thinking and research.’  The symposia on Compassion Under Contemporary Conditions was inspired by University of Calgary assistant professors Shane Sinclair and Graham McCaffrey, ‘who share a mutual research and practical interest in the topic and in sparking conversation and debate around some of the realities of compassion.’

The topic, Compassion Under Contemporary Conditions, really inspired me and I was thrilled that I would have opportunity to hear Margaret Atwood speak as I find her very entertaining, closely linked to family and very very smart.

At home, I shot about loading easel, panel and STUFF into the car. At the U of C, I was met, early, by Allan Rosales who made the invitation for me to submit my artistic intention a week earlier.  Allan was helpful and very gracious. I also met Zareen and friend, from the University visual arts department, as they displayed a beautiful art exhibit based on compassion.  It wasn’t long and I was settled alongside artists Mark Vazquez-Mackay and  Rebecca Zai.  As the day opened up, Mark seemed to be painting the various layers and facets of compassion and his piece was breath taking.  Rebecca was working from a photo reference that she had taken while on one of her international travels, a person demonstrating care for the ordinary street cats of his village.  Again, a beautiful painting!

Photo Credit: Allan Rosales  painting by Mark Vazquez-Mackay Sunday, May 29, 2016

Photo Credit: Allan Rosales painting by Mark Vazquez-Mackay Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hmmm…doesn’t seem I have a completed painting by Rebecca in my photo archives.  I’ll grab one and post later.

It was a blessing day, as it revealed itself. I thought it was very gracious of both Shane and Graham to come and introduce themselves and chat a little about art and life.  While my painting was not completed by end of day, there were a lot of different feelings that I moved through in the process and I was very excited to begin the journey of painting a body of work based on British Home Children that I’ve been researching for probably, WAY TOO LONG.  I interviewed descendant, Janet Fair, such a long time ago. Her grandfather, Sidney Emms Prodgers, was about to become my very first subject.

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Red underpinnings…the pain of the stories.  Gold…elevating the experiences of these lost/forgotten/abandoned children.

 

Application of Collage bits to the panel...S. S. Scotsman, the ship that carried Sidney, at age of 11, to Canada...facility where Sidney was surrendered as an baby, maps.

Application of Collage bits to the panel…S. S. Scotsman, the ship that carried Sidney, at age of 11, to Canada…facility where Sidney was surrendered as a baby, maps.

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The complete biography written in gold…information received via electronic mail from descendant, Janet Fair

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Photo Credit: Allan Rosales

Photo Credit: Allan Rosales

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Photo Credit: Allan Rosales

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Photo Credit: Waqas (Rebecca….last name?)

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Home!  I’ll take Sidney into the studio to complete…so happy with the process!

I was grateful to hear Margaret Atwood’s talk on Compassion…the humour woven throughout, colourful  experiences of nurses and health care providers, historically, leading up to contemporary issues, as well.  I thought a lot about my sister as I listened.  I’m grateful for Valerie Jean Fiset, more than she will probably ever know.  She has had a most inspiring journey and I am so proud of her.  I likely should have brought along some of my Atwood books for signatures…I’m not surprised that I forgot.

Another blessing during the course of the day was to have a visit with a dear friend, Dr. Rita Irwin.  Our friendship began while we both achieved our B. Ed degrees at the University of Lethbridge.  She wandered over to my location, along with three of her witty and smart friends, and had a short but amazing visit.  Another strong and accomplished woman; I simply loved our shared big hugs and the familiar ring of Rita’s voice and laughter.

Rita...second from left.

Rita…second from left.