Gestures of Love

Recently, like everyone else, I’ve been swept up in more fear and anger than usual because of the shifting tides of political, economic and philosophical posturing the world over.   We try, surrounded by the bombardment of ideas, reactions and media, to sort and sift things out, but sometimes, regardless of our efforts, cave to the tumult.

I was feeling the darkness of our times.

It seemed that last evening, there was a shift of this dark into light, as my dear cousin living in Utah, sent me a message to give him a call.  He’s known for a long time that I have a big heart for family research,  and a desire to find the pieces of our history, however narrative in nature and lacking in the documentation required to make real sense.  He and I, both, have worked on our paternal side for a very long time, in our own ways, if you count up all of the years between us.

I weep this morning, as I type here, about the lovely conversation shared between Dr. Ted (our name of affection for him) and myself.  Ted lead me through some of his research on our family.  It was like bags of sweets laid out before me. (Remember that feeling as a child?)  He guided me patiently, while the both of us logged on to a family ancestral site…this is a fan chart…click on person…click on tree…this is who this person was…and this one…here is the document…And so it went!  Any of you who do this sort of work know how generous this gesture of love is.  My grandfather, John Moors, would be so pleased.  My father, John Moors, will be, when he reads this.  Blessed!  I love you, Ted! And I will pour over every detail bit by bit and so much will be revealed to me!

This morning, I decided to continue to focus on the unbelievable possibility of the positive.  Rolling out of bed, I stepped into my slippers and shuffled upstairs to go through my morning rituals.  As a single woman, I typically do a day’s dishes in the evening, later than you choose, I’m sure, but, just the way I do things.  Last evening, I didn’t.  I expected to bury my hands and arms into warm sudsy water while the coffee maker burbled.  I like doing these things, although when I had a partner, I was over the moon about having a cup of coffee prepared for me and delivered to the sofa, while I either read the paper or eased into the day.  Rituals change and I have become very happy about treating myself to those tender gestures of support and kindness.

But…today…

I woke to a note on my kitchen counter.

Went to
gym.
Made you
coffee.
Leave the
dishes +
garbage. Will
do when I come
home.

❤ you

My adult daughter and a gesture of love…makes everything feel different, doesn’t it?  When someone does you a kindness?  Little effort, but a whole spin that takes you to a place of reassurance and gratitude.  Thank you, Cayley.

I opened up Twitter while I sipped on this first hot cup of coffee.  This, after turning on the Tallest Man on Earth. (My cousin Peter finally showed me how to connect to those lovely speakers over there, with Bluetooth).

My friend, Wendy, had posted this…and I felt so grateful.  Something about me? Really?  The artist?  And the title of the piece, STABILITY!  Thank you, Wendy!

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I’m feeling that these three gestures of love are a small smattering that represent the possibilities that are available to me today, these and the warm nuzzle of my Max Man pushing up against my thigh, here at the computer desk.  “Let’s go, Mom!  Let’s walk!”  Today, let’s all look for the gestures of love in our lives and look away from the natural draw to worry and sadness that pull at our heart strings these days, often issues that we have no control over.  Let’s simply do what we can, with a real focus of what are the blessings of our lives.  Create!

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KOAC: Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre

This morning, I’m celebrating Wendy Lees and the Love Art in Calgary tours that she provides, here in the city.  Yesterday, we had the opportunity to enjoy the intimate and generous experience of visiting KOAC.  Harry Kiyooka and Katie Ohe directed a magical tour of their property, studios and home and today I am still ruminating about the conversations, the practice and the encouragement received.  Grateful!

Katie and Harry have done so much for our community and, both visionaries, they have a commitment to leave an amazing legacy for all of us.  But right now, they need our support, both monetary and philosophically.  Calgarians need to see themselves as both beneficiaries, but also contributors to this dream.  I hope that my readers will take the time to visit the website and explore how they can be a part of this.

We began our tour with the wondrous drive out to the property under an amazing chinook arch.  The light and arch contributed to the aesthetic experience of being on the edge of the city, looking west toward the mountains.  Good conversation, laughter and shared philosophies are always a part of a Love Art in Calgary tour and this time, I reconnected with a like-minded woman, Sharon, who I had met on a previous workshop at the Esker Foundation and Melissa, who has a long history of Gorilla painting with me.  So much fun.

Melissa and I went for a wander to look at a couple of the sculptures on the property before the tour of Katie’s studio began.

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This one made a journey across the ocean in a crate…missed the sculptor’s name.

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‘Dandelion’ a kinetic sculpture created by one of Katie’s former students.

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Treasures.

Walking to Katie’s studio, we stopped and had fun, listening to Katie’s stories and being present to her larger-than-life energy!

I think this woman is such a role model for us.  She is so full of warmth and has such a generous nature.  And…she says that she writes a lot of reference letters! :0)

Katie Ohe, when speaking of her sculptures, touches them in such a special way and speaks about them in that manner, also.  It is evident that she has a very close relationship with the materials and knows and loves the process of creation in a very intimate way.  I cherish listening to her speak of her art.

 

 

Next, we went to Harry’s studio, a treasure trove full of discoveries and large canvases.

Harry is such a gentle and kind man, with such enthusiasm for the vision that has been forming over such a long period of time…a vision and partnership shared between Katie and him.  He is a huge promoter of KOAC and has announced that tickets are available for the next big fundraiser.

Next, the two artists invited us into their home and we sat and snacked and shared a coffee break, while being surrounded by amazing works of art, as well as an extensive collection and library!  Phenomenal!

 

I will never forget the strength of Katie’s hand wrapped around mine, as I thanked her for the afternoon.  What an amazing woman!

Previous posts…

Art Tour 2013

Poem For Katie Ohe

Katie’s Idea Books

Objects of Affection

Wool

Yes.  Here it is again.  Another post about wool.

It can’t be helped.  Through time and research and memory, the smell of the woolen mill is a forever-sensory-experience.  When I DO get around to writing ‘that novel’, captured between the pages somewhere will be the sound of the machines and the smell of the wool…it can’t be helped.  It is in me to share.

My readers have been patient and tolerated my obsession with this process, texture, landscape…you know it it is the landscape of this woman’s heart.

And so, I will keep words to a minimum and simply share that when my cousin, Laura, made a recent trip west, it was perfect that Laura, her brother Peter and I should drive north east to the Custom Woolen Mills, together.  Cousins, in our family, share a special bond and one can not possibly, in a post such as this, capture or contain the sort of laughter and fun that is shared when we get together, even as adults.  It’s pure joy and ridiculousness.

I am forever-grateful to our grandparents who gave us this bond and this relationship with wool and the manufacture of products from wool.  It is pretty special!

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Peter and Laura Dewar, children of Mary Moors and Peter Dewar

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Cousins, Kathleen Moors, Peter Dewar and Laura Lee Dewar

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Post-Mill and we share wine, laughter and lots of Italian food.  I was so grateful to share time with you, Laura and Peter.

We spent an hour or so together, researching and playing upbeat songs off of our phones…so hilarious.  Here’s one.

 

It’s Been This Kind of Day

I have to thank my new birder-friend, Bob, for his share of the story of Mrs. Shoveler on the Bird’s Calgary site, today.

I began writing on-line in 2005. In writing to an ‘imagined’ public, I discovered a public voice.  I learned to write about events that took place in my rather simple life in a way that could be explored and shared with any reader. There was a line that I refused to cross, a line that delved into the realm of the very personal.  I’ve enjoyed learning to narrate my life, while reigning in my voice to a degree.  In my head, I always remarked, “Only write what you feel anyone could read.”  I suppose the closest I ever came to crossing that line was at the loss of my mother.

I was in my father’s office, at the computer desk, the summer of her passing.  It was so bloody humid.  Dad tried to keep me from opening the windows because we had to have air conditioning or we were going to melt!  Whenever I would sit to write at the computer, I would secretly slide the window open to the right of me…in the night time, there was such stillness…not a breeze.  I remember writing this.

A lot of bloggers get weary of the process of writing after a while, but for some reason, I find the flow of evening-writing,  a wonderfully relaxing practice.  My initial story of Mrs. Shoveler and my effort to retrieve her from a small piece of open water achieved over 400 hits in an hour after publication.  I know.  I know.  I don’t really have a swollen head over this.  It’s not what the on-line crowd would call ‘going viral’, but, I was deeply touched that so many readers care about wildlife enough and in this case, a hen Northern Shoveler, that they would peruse the events that took place in the bitterly cold days of last December.  The follow-up story, involving the re-appearance of this dear bird, sent the numbers soaring yet again.

Well, today, with gratitude to Birds Calgary, more readers have visited and I’ve really enjoyed comments and messages and reactions.  So, readers, thank you for all of that.

This was my day…while Max and I played in snow and I met Abir again, after so long, and I made and enjoyed such a beautiful stew…while every thing was happening in my life, this is what was going on in the hum of the background.

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Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones

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Yesterday was another cold day in Calgary, but I did manage to do the circle at the pond, came home and nested for a bit and then decided to curl up on the red sofa in the afternoon sunlight, covered with the green quilted blanket, tiny sip of sherry in hand and set out to finish the book, Mongrels.  I was determined. This book has been a challenge over the Christmas holiday, not because it was long or complex, but in fact, the subject matter was entirely foreign to me.

Anything I’ve read about Stephen Graham Jones, his prolific writing habits and his prominent reputation as a writer of “literary horror”, seems to be positive and for several reasons.  However, I’m not one for reading about mythological creatures or for delving into the world of fantasy.  I must confess that I have read several of Anne Rice’s novels, starring vampires, beginning with The Interview with the Vampire and I’ve followed the vampire, Lestat, to the point where I could imagine the smell and taste of blood.  Yes!  It’s true. Disgusting!  Anne Rice’s vampire narratives are that believable! The vampire is a more popular ‘creepy’ character in contemporary writing; much less common is the appearance of the four legged man-wolf, the werewolf.

I found some aspects of the book, as it moved along, redeeming.  There was just something about the structure, though, that hounded me.  This is what went on…I became intrigued by the story of Libby, Darren and the youthful narrator (a young dude hoping that he begins, at some point, to transform into a werewolf, as his Aunt and Uncle do).  Problem is that this narrative was intruded upon by alternating chapters that spoke from a different point of view, in a very uncanny way.  At regular intervals I was forced to sort out a shift as the young dude became ‘the vampire’ (at Halloween), Darren, the vampire’s Uncle and Libby, the vampire’s Aunt; ‘the reporter’, Darren, the reporter’s Uncle and Libby, the reporter’s Aunt; ‘the criminal’, Darren, the criminal’s Uncle and finally Libby, the criminal’s Aunt….and so it went in alternating chapters for the entire novel.  What was that about?

I’ve read so many reviews on this book and there isn’t one that addresses this shift in point of view.  For me, it adds a complexity that doesn’t seem necessary.  The reviews are generally positive and share accolades for the unique approach to telling a werewolf story, the freshness of the ‘coming-of-age’ angle and the situational originality.  I agree with these positive aspects, but I really did struggle with the structure.  In this particular review…they refer to it as an ‘episodic’ structure.  Not a fan of graphic novels and such, perhaps this is where the problem is for my reading preferences.

While the episodic structure sometimes causes the novel to feel as aimless as its characters, it’s still an often moving portrait of a family struggling to survive in a world that “wants us to be monsters.” (May)

Generally…readers see it the way of this particular review.

“A compelling and fascinating journey, Mongrels alternates between past and present to create an unforgettable portrait of a boy trying to understand his family and his place in a complex and unforgiving world. A smart and innovative story— funny, bloody, raw, and real—told in a rhythmic voice full of heart, Mongrels is a deeply moving, sometimes grisly, novel that illuminates the challenges and tender joys of a life beyond the ordinary in a bold and imaginative new way.”

I think that if it touches me in any way, it is to feel empathy for ‘the outsider’.  I did grow to listen to the narrator’s young voice with a big heart.  I haven’t given up on a book before.  In the case of this one, it was an ‘almost’ situation…but, LOOK!  It is done.

And, yes, mongrels survive! :0)

Now, I’m into a book that has a very traditional flow and seeming linear story line, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers.  Stay tuned as I explore the story, opening with the description of John Singer, who rents a room in the Kelly house after his fellow deaf companion, Spiros Antonapoulos.

 

 

 

Thoughts on Social Media Shouting Fests

I was thinking about something today.  Why am I learning  (most times) to keep my fingers off of the key board when I feel very passionate about some of the issues regularly posted on Social Media?  My track record is that I’ve slid into ‘confrontation’ very easily in life (since being in high school) because I felt that confronting an issue was profoundly important to give voice to my thoughts on issues.  I thought that by vocalizing, and usually emotionally, I had the ability to change the perception of the other or convince them that the way that they were viewing an issue was ‘wrong’ or just plain weird.

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It’s taken many years…sixty one of them…to figure out that it is not necessary to vocalize, in order to make an impact or to solve a problem.  There are just some things that one is powerless to change.  It is healthy, instead, to empower oneself through action that is productive and meaningful.

It is possible to create change in the world by more consistently being an exemplar for others around issues and doing so with some humility and grace.

Recently, I found an all-encompassing article about what can sometimes happen in marriages that are strained or not working because of communication styles.  When two people, who see an issue differently, have a shouting brawl, are they able to solve the problem at hand?  When a couple is in a perpetual state of silence, are matters being resolved?  If it interests you, please click on the link below because I think that meekness is a fundamental quality that would be effective in dealing with the huge heap of problems that seem to be facing human beings today.

Regarding our view of history and decisions that are made for us, rather than with us, we will always find people with strong beliefs, taking polar opposite positions.  It is human nature.  Democracy is built on the belief that all people have the freedom to express these points of view.  What, I suppose, we might want to work on is how we express these.

Social media has created another layer of communication in our lives.  Its access and simplicity provides the opportunity for us to speak, without thoughtfulness and to send words that do not represent our most productive, kind or professional selves.  There, our words represent ourselves for all time.  No pulling them back.  We need to weigh and measure what that might mean.  An intellectual, Marshall McLuhan, once surmised, it is at these times that, the medium becomes the message.  I think that we are daily, in the sad position of falling into this trap.

Discussions about Donald Trump as President, the visit of celebrities to profess their views on Environmental Issues, whether or not Global Warming is a scientific fact, the responsibilities that fall on Canadians to take account of past mistakes where our Indigenous peoples are concerned, Rachel Notley and the NDP Government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the treatment of women in modern society, Rape, Foreign Policy and military intervention, Syria and Rwanda before, fossil fuels, exploration of the North, the status of wildlife the world over, to name but a few…listen folks…there is much to talk about, but without having productive conversations about the issues, how can we possibly be the creative productive problem solvers that this planet requires?

While Kevin Thomas’s points in the following segment of his essay may address a style of communication in marriage, a person can really apply this to any matter where human beings are concerned in an engaging and helpful conversation.

From Kevin A. Thomas’s personal blog, the Warning: Rocky Times Ahead

The end to apathy is not aggression; it’s meekness.

Meekness communicates that one still cares about the marriage. It announces “I’m still here.” It shows concern for the other person. It reveals a vulnerability and welcomes the other person to reciprocate.

Meekness reigns in the aggressive and it provokes the apathetic.

For some, meekness would say “stop yelling.”

For many, meekness would say, “start talking.”

Wonder if you operate with meekness? Consider the following questions:

 

Bitterly Cold Winter, Wrapped Up In Wool

Monday morning saw the accumulation of a whole lot of snow overnight.  The sun was shining and I was grateful for that, as I picked up the shovel and cleared the sidewalk, yet again.  I was excited to be heading for sister-friend time, a hearty soup and warm-biscuit lunch prepared by my Ya-Ya, Wendy Lees, and the experience of felting with a woman who knows wool, so well.  In fact, like me, wool is her history…her story.  Ruth Purves-Smith, oh, how I grow to love you!  Now, you have been my teacher and I treasure that!

Gathering together means the sharing of stories, the week’s events, creative projects, vision, frustration, hard work and yes, edits on cover letters, even dog tales/tails!

Meeting  Booster for the first time was more than fun!  This sweetie really wasn’t ever supposed to have a chance at life, but because of her willingness to negotiate around Booster’s many special needs, Ruth gave her that!  Apart from very unique dietary concerns and the fact that she has to consistently wear a little diaper, Booster seems to lead a very happy and contented life.  As Max’s best friend, I can tell you that this gives me great respect for Ruth.

Settling in, I loved the colours and textures that began to spill out into Wendy’s living room!

I’ve had opportunity before to watch a remarkable lesson on felting delivered by Leah C. Donald  to my grade three students.  However, I didn’t have the opportunity to share in the experience because it was necessary to supervise the students’ use of the felting needles and to be a part of their process.  So, I was excited to actually manipulate the media and to enjoy the hands-on practice.

Ruth brought some of her creations and I was at once, in awe.  Hmmm…no pictures of lunch, likely because I was enthusiastically ‘putting it down’.

 

I decided that I would like to create a hot pad for the table and to focus on technique.  I was definitely the slowest person in the room!  It took quite some time before I sorted out the use of the felting needle.  Thanks for your patience, ladies!

 

Yesterday afternoon was just one of those magical times that created memories, both in my heart and head, but also in my body.  The warm smell of wool, the texture and the concentration…all so wonderful!  The next time you feel really cold, I highly recommend wrapping yourselves up in wool, good food and friendship.

Support the Custom Woolen Mills, when you can.  Buy your gifts from artists and artisans.  Buy music from local artists.  Support the creation of treasures that come out of your local community.

 

Coming Clean!

I have to update my readers.  I’ve intentionally stopped posting about the pond.  No bush. No duck. No footprints in the snow.

Four days ago, I wrote a tribute to Mrs. Shoveler, a hen Northern Shoveler who, having suffered an injury, was grounded on the pond.  I first noticed her on December 14.  Very consistently, nature shares some revelation with me on December 14, every year.  This year, having solicited the support of all of my social media contacts and City of Calgary wildlife organizations, I had lost hope of retrieving this bird from the open water and on January 2nd, having come upon a kill site, I knew that she had come into the clutches of a canine predator.

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I woke, on January 3rd, knowing that later in the afternoon, I would be attending prayers for Emelia, a former student who passed away, sadly, on December 26.  I had one of those mornings where I drifted in and out of sleep for quite some time.  I’m an early riser, but when it’s bitterly cold outside and the alarm isn’t set, I enjoy that wonderful pull-back into sleep.  I didn’t know where the distinction was, that morning, between dream and thought.  Let’s just say that the images that surfaced from the fog included a big red vessel, many cables from land being pulled strenuously, heavily weighted, a duck-like bird that looked as though it was a character in a graphic novel, these images all in techno-colour blue and red and yellow…somewhere, a shift…a large wolf-like dog pouncing, shaking, lifeless form, indistinct.  I jolted awake from this.

While I made my coffee, I prayed for parents who have lost a child, for each morning, for each new day’s realization.  It was ridiculous that I should have had an attachment to the Northern Shoveler. “Time to let go of these images and these attachments.  What can I do to disconnect from this experience?”  Several people, including my father and Ruth Purves-Smith and Sean Kubara said all of the right things and while disappointed, I did realize that in nature, you truly find a circle of life.  I headed for the pond, with Max, thinking that I might collect a feather to bring home.

This is what I found…”PIGEON FEATHERS!!!  Are you kidding me???”

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Looking to the right, this is what I saw…

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“YES!  That’s her!”  I hooted!  I ran to the car and called the non-emergency fire department. That was it!  I wasn’t messing around anymore.  I was going to get Mrs. off of the water! The department was kind enough to assess the situation and their feed back was, “She seems to be enjoying her time out there on the pond.”  Okay…so, that wasn’t the avenue I was going to take.  I sent a message off to AIWC Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation.  Ducks Unlimited sent me a message, “Ducks sometime choose to hang out all winter long.”  At this point I thought about all of the people who had supported me and who had read my heart felt thoughts in my Mrs. tribute.  I decided, until this situation had a resolution, I was going to stop myself from sharing anything at all.  I left the pond, feeling determined.

I went to say prayers for Emelia, connecting with so many people who loved and shared time with Emelia in life…hugging her Mom.

Exhausted, I headed home, full of the absolute joy and sadness of life and living.

On January 4, word came from AIWC and a capture attempt would happen, around noon. Thanks to the training and experience of Cheryl, Dan and a Birds Calgary member, Rodney, we put in an effort and discovered more about the little lady on the pond.  First of all, the injury was to her leg/foot and not her wings. This was a good thing.  This meant that she could escape a predator if need be. Since December 14, I had visualized getting a raft out onto that open water, and yet that would not have been helpful at all.  She would take off at every approach, circle and swish down into the water over and over again.  When she landed onto the fresh snow, she couldn’t walk and would take off from there again and again.

Mrs. got really annoyed with all of us and finally took off east down the line of 22X.  We had to close up shop.  I had gratitude, for the fact that she could fly and that she could use her natural instincts to avoid predators.  Unfortunately, I knew that bad weather was on the way.  The next attempt would not be until January 6.  I hugged the volunteers and headed home, informed of how to feed her and what to feed her in the case that she came back, so a quick stop was made and that evening, as sun was setting, I headed to the open water, hoping for her return, bucket of corn millet in tow.

Not only was little Mrs. back, but she had company in a female Mallard who enjoyed the easy pickings of the seed that I threw out onto the water.

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The next day, Mrs. Shoveler was alone again,  when Max and I stopped in to throw some feed and to go for our walk.

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I knew that weather was changing and sure enough, when I visited her at 5:00, the water was turning to slush, the seed was just sitting on the solidifying surface and she was barely moving on the far side of her patch of open water. Evening…and I wondered with the snow that was falling if there would be any way to survive the plummeting temperatures and the snowfall.

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Today, I hiked down to the site, with Dan and Cheryl’s promise that they would be coming down for noon time, to find this…

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I texted Cheryl…there was no reason she should make the effort and come south from Airdrie in such rotten conditions, if our Shoveler had met her demise.  I went back to the car and stayed warm and hoped that Cheryl would contact me.

We hugged in the parking lot and then, together, walked down to the site, in order to scout around the cat tails.  It took no more than ten minutes and Cheryl spotted her…back wing feathers and tail feathers out of the snow…but otherwise, buried and seeming stuck on the slope directly up from the pond.  Quietly, Dan approached with his net, gathering her up.  There were joyful utterances from all of us and an urgency to get the snow off of her and warm her up, however gradually.  Wrapped in a towel, Cheryl described how small she was, likely underweight and also dehydrated.  So readers, we got the save!  This is the ‘resurrection’ story…this is a story of how things sometimes ‘go right’ in nature.

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Cheryl, new friend and advocate for wild life.

 

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Cheryl and Dan AIWC volunteers…amazing people!

I’m so grateful that I have this story to share with each of you and thank all of you for putting up with my perpetual efforts and amusement in all of this.  I will be applying for AIWC as soon as possible.  There’s some evidence that I take an interest!

Report from Cheryl is that Mrs. Shoveler is being assessed by their vet team…she couldn’t stay for her check up as she was off and running to deal with an owl stuck in a vehicle rad. :0(  Apparently, these are the stories of our wildlife friends and I encourage you to support, how you can, the fine people who fulfill this very specialized need.

To update my readers…and again, thank you for your support through this little journey into nature.

To all of my readers/supporters/wild life enthusiasts, I am sorry after such a ‘save’ today that I have to report that Mrs. had to be humanely put to rest this afternoon. Her fracture to her left leg was a complicated one as it was on her joint, she had multiple fractures to her toes and she had extensive frost bite to the left foot as well. There was no treatment that might have prepared her body for the life of a functioning Northern Shoveler. She was a resilient and determined Mrs. and she filled my heart…and she made Max bark…and she created light in her life by the sheer beauty of ‘being’. If she was that for us, how much more can we be for others, not by appearances, but, by sheer will? Just paddle as hard as you can. It is enough. AIWC rocks. I just want to thank you and I’m happy that she isn’t alone out there, in the snow and cold tonight.

The Principles of Uncertainty

by Maira Kalman

Two days ago, before or after Emelia’s funeral prayers, I wanted to write a post titled something like, “The Loss of Children”. About that choice of title, I thought, “Who are you to write a post titled, ‘The Loss of Children’, when you have been so blessed and your children are safe and healthy?” So much has happened, in my head, during this Christmas/New Years holiday, that I postponed the post and now I’m writing this.

I woke at 5:35.  I’ve had a lot going on in my head.  (I guess I already said that.)

I dusted off the final two shelves of books.  It’s been a two-shelves-a-day project ever since the dust settled and the window casings were clear-coated.  If you are connected to my Instagram account, you’ve seen that I’ve snapped a few shots of books, but I stopped that because it was actually distracting me from getting the job done.

A side note: I was able to, with the guidance of the book,  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo,  choose twenty books to box up and deliver to a WIN shop.  Apart from the books in the cardboard box, I can say that the titles that remain, give me joy.

To celebrate the completion of the task and to stall Max’s walk at the pond (Facebook status: [Big fat flakes falling, beginning at around 6 this morning. It is easy to see them, lit up by street lamps. Morning light is still some time away.]), I sat under the green quilted blanket, cozy, on the red couch and read the most beautiful book, The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman.  The smell of home made turkey soup was heavy on the air…yesterday’s cooking continued because the carrots still had a tad too much crunch.

I loved this book so much that, for a short while, until my next book, it is my favourite.  Yes!  I finished it a short while ago.  It is that type of book.  For its sparseness, it is absolutely overflowing and packed with content of the heart.  It is an entire history and archive of those bits of life that are inspiring and magical, in part, anyway.  I also like that Maira dedicates the book to her mother.

Maira Kalman  is a woman of my own heart, very much captivated by the magical moments of life.  A fabulous illustrator and person.  I highly recommend this book.  I’ll be moving on to her other books.

I attended a gathering last evening at a friend’s house.  She’s just recently completed a kitchen renovation.  Ten women sharing a meal on a wintry night…just beautiful.  It is our habit to talk about everything, really.  And, at some point, we always share our current reading, authors, genres and such and last evening was no exception.  I was a bit embarrassed to share that I was still struggling my way through a werewolf story, titled Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones.  I think I’ve decided that werewolf stories are not for me.  Anyway, back to The Principles of Uncertainty, the book gives me a fresh perspective on the human condition. The themes are very personal and yet universal.  Everything is uncertain…even the books that we pick up and our experience of them.  I felt warm and happy looking around that room last evening, with the realization that, for the past twenty-five years, these women have shared their reading with me.  Ours is a delicious friendship.

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I will be writing about the loss of children at a later time, not because I know that experience, but because I can’t imagine that experience.  And why? What will that do or help or prove? Absolutely nothing…just that I can.

Mrs. Shoveler

I discovered her, first, on December 14.  The temperatures, the week before, had been frigid, plummeting to -27 on some days.  I had, a couple of times, walked around the pond, breathing hot air into my wool scarf, tied tightly around my mouth and nose.  My eye lashes grew icicles.  Max, sometimes wound up with cold feet and I would stoop to clear snow from between his pads.  On the 14th, the weather seemed better.  At the bottom of the slope that edged the football field, I first saw her, recognizing her beak profile as being that of a Northern Shoveler.  “What the heck?” I thought to myself.

I had my first experience of closely observing Northern Shovelers on the far side of the fence, last summer, and never did get a good photograph of a Mr.  On the other hand, I had several very beautiful encounters, image-wise, with females.

Facebook 27 Female Northern ShovelerFacebook 29 Female Northern ShovelerFacebook 31, The Best I have Northern Shoveler

I am not one for making a big deal of things in nature, knowing that, for the most part, nature will find its way.  I watched her, thinking that perhaps she had been widowed during the extreme temperatures.  Mates will remain where they have suffered loss, for weeks, sometimes months.  I had made observations of a mating couple of geese last summer and when one had obviously lost its mate, the bonded partner remained at the same place on the pond for June and most of July.  Therefore, I didn’t make any calls for assistance right away.  Today, this is my only regret.

Finally, with the vacation approaching and having experienced two days of intensely bitter cold wind, on Frank’s Flats, I decided I should look for sanctuary for little Mrs.  What one discovers as one begins to seek support in this city is that sometimes it doesn’t come easy.  Without recounting my negative or non-productive experiences, I wish to merely express gratitude for those who did reach out with empathy and concern.  First, Bob of Birds Calgary, took the time to research, make inquiries and hook me with other organizations.  I’ve followed Birds Calgary for some years now and love the documentation of birds in our community and the narratives that some times surface on the website.

My second communication with Calgary Wilderness Rehabilitation Society, again, functioning mostly on volunteer-steam and funded by donation, seemed to be hopeful, but a New Year’s blast of winter, meant that services were taxed in other areas of need.  This was a non-emergency situation.  I’m sending on a link to their Wish List, in hopes that this experience of mine might lead to positive change and solicit support for organizations such as these.

In the end, I received the greatest and most professional treatment from the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) and I certainly hope that you might, if this is one of your interests, support this organization.  Please spend some time perusing their blog.  They were quick, responsive and had a nice flow to their communication; e mail response, phone and on-line website.  The City of Calgary 311 on-line request form needs some careful attention in order to become expedient and avoid glitches.

I documented my visits with little Mrs.  Sometimes the photos were lovely…sometimes not.  Do I regret being obsessive over an injured duck for the past few weeks?  No.  I learned so much.  I regret to report that sometime in the night or the wee hours of morning, a predator did carry and kill Mrs.  I followed the edge of the pond, the tracks and the narrative until I found her soft fan of feathers in the snow.

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I’m thankful to all my friends and my daughters, for their hearts, ears and suggestions.  I love you all for caring.  I think that we are all called to action.  I think it is easy to get comfortable in our own lives, sometimes.  I think that Mrs. is a mere metaphor for ‘the other’…for the marginalized who are living in our own city.  It is important that we not become so comfortable that we forget that there are others who are cold, without shelter, circling the small pond of their own lives because it feels as though there is no way out.

I am in gratitude that nature has taught me more.