Marking the Advents of Our Lives

It was in 2006 that I circled the pond with Maxman, for the purpose of taking a single photograph of a bush.  I walked very regularly at this location for several years before, and was a steward of the pond daily, creating a project called Changing the Landscape: One Bag at a Time.

For almost five years I filled a trash bag with litter and left it at the side of the bin for the city to pick up once a week.  I believe that I changed the location through this stewardship, but I guess I’ll never really know.  I’ve been back to visit and the land is covered, once again, with layers of plastic and fast food containers and plastic bags do blow, like flags, in some of the shrubs and trees that grow at the pond’s edge.

During those early days, I noticed that the light and weather and time of day seemed to really impact my experience of the pond on these walks.  I began snapping photographs of natural forms as a way of archiving these experiences along journey of the revisited circle.  In the end, I focused on a single bush, noting what amazing atmosphere was observable through its branches, particularly created by the water/ice/snow and sky.  That’s when I began archiving the bush each day, a single Instagram photo to capture the light and the narrative of that particular ecosystem.

I called the place Frank’s Flats.  In the days when I picked litter, a free spirit named Frank, used to sit on the slope and drink back six beer every time I worked.  He would give me the empties and off I would go.  At end of that summer, Frank moved out to Vancouver, where he said the weather would be better for sleeping outdoors.

The winter of the Instagram bushes, I discovered that there was another young man who tucked in to sleep under the tall evergreen trees each evening.  His shopping cart, containing his few possessions was pushed in tight against the branches.  In the daytime, I’d see the large sheets of cardboard and his sleeping bag, waiting for his return at the end of the day.

This is when I had the idea to light up and decorate the bush for Advent.  Each day I added more ornaments/ribbons/led lights.

On Christmas eve, in dark of night,  I filled the mystery person’s cart with treasures…warm socks, a winter hat, chocolate, Christmas cookies, a scarf, a thermal underwear shirt, some magazines (National Geographic).  Nothing made me happier that Advent and Christmas than creating magic around that bush.

Why am I writing about this right now?  What made me think to write about this?  Well, this past couple of weeks have been pretty difficult weeks for me and my dog, Max.  He’s been struggling with a back leg injury and I’ve been deliberating about his quality of life.  I had to sneak out of the house to make my daily trip to the river last evening and I was pretty sad that I wasn’t able to take him with me.

Once at the river, I discovered this wee decorated tree, in close proximity to Lauren’s bench.  I was sort of wondering if Lauren’s family might have done the very thing that I did so many years ago, at the edge of a pond.

If, in fact, this was Lauren’s family, I captured photographs of just two birds, among several  Chickadees, White Breasted Nuthatches and Blue Jays that were making themselves known at that very spot.  I think that it’s an interesting thing that they were sporting the same colours as the ornaments on the tree.  Is it possible that angels were in my midst last evening?  Certainly, I felt blessed.

My decorating will begin on December 1, the beginning of Advent.  I don’t get the early jump start that most Calgarians do, and my ornaments will come down with Epiphany.  I am praying that Advent is a blessing time for my readers.  May you have good health and much strength for the difficult stuff.

Poem for Maxman

You are here for
anniversaries and dinners.

You are here for
tears and laughter.

My hand sinks into
your soft fur. You
look up into my eyes.

My hand drops.
Your white paw reaches,
suspended in air,
a request for connection.

In empty moments,
when my anger and sadness
pour out onto the
red sofa where you are
sitting,
you give me, in their place,
safety and assurance.

You are my great friend.
You are stability and gratitude.
You are my companion.

We have, again and again,
walked through nature,
exploring.
You pause, ears alert,
at bird song or the deer’s silent pose.

You are the greatest cliche
ever written.

I search for the num lock key
and the accent code and
you secret under the desk,
plunk
beside
my feet.

I am grounded in you.

 

 

 

Finding Nigel

Truthfully, Nigel found me!

We just hosted Christmas dinner and Nigel and Angela were with us.  I have to write this down because, given the experience of being swept up in gravy and my grandson, there wasn’t a single photograph archived of my dinner guests.  You know the one…the one where everyone is gathered into a collective and asked to say CHEESE!  There is always only one person left out of that photograph.  Well, this year…well…no need to get redundant.

12/6/17, 4:11 PM  I received this message.

Dear Kathleen, I will always remember you as “Mrs Hanrahan”. I don’t know if you remember me, but you taught me grade 7 art some years ago. I have been searching for you for some time, but it is only appropriate that I should find you now, as I am about to embark on a new adventure; teaching art. Would you be interested in a get together and perhaps imparting some of your wisdom to me?

NIGEL????  Remember you???

Of course, I remember you!

Following our reconnect were stories of remembrance of the Junior High variety…students working things out in my storage cupboard…stuff like that.  As I revisit those years, Robbie Fernuk isn’t far away.  He was a big part of the creative energy that lived in that particular art class.  So was Nigel.  Oh, how the years have sped by…

Photos from our first get together, when I got to meet Angela.  Oh my goodness!  It was as though we had never been apart.

Nigel and Angela first meetingNigel and Angela first meeting 2

I treasure our friendship.  Nigel is life-giving.  He is kind and smart and funny.  Angela has  become a new friend and I hope that we have the years to build memories and share experiences.  Both Angela and Nigel are animal whisperers, brilliant, well-read and artistic.  I love them!

 

(looking for Angela’s birthday photograph, but can’t find them in my archives…sheesh)

(I just ripped them off of Facebook)

 

Nigel and Kath Rumblehouse

Nigel and Kath painting at Rumblehouse

Cutting Myself Some Slack

I have to admit, I’m not at the top of my game lately.  A person can be confronted by and, possibly, absorb a lot of gut-wrenching stuff via the media, daily. (the state of Syria, regional economics, pipelines, the American debates and election, unemployment and the economy, involvement of Russia in global agitation, the status of North Korea regarding armaments, the state of our environment and the care for dwindling species…these are just a few concerning factors that spewed out the tips of my fingers at the keyboard…free flow)  If that ‘removed’ material isn’t enough, then there are also the daily stressors that one must face, sometimes alone, and these can really nail a person down, both in body and spirit.  The important thing is to do something about it by changing patterns and practices.

This past weekend was one of those weekends for me.  Not really ‘into’ any interactions with my wider circle, I focused on ‘being’ with smaller groups, staying closer to home and eating good food.  Quality time with my daughter and my ‘real life’ friends was very healing.  I am grateful for that sense that the rest of the world can motor on at warp speed while I take a little vacation from the nonsense that becomes my whirling life.  What we’re trying to prove, I don’t exactly know.  What I’ve been doing, I do.

The weekend began with a gathering of my hiking YaYas and our ritual gathering photo op with prop.  Thanks to Cathy for hosting.  What a relief it is to talk and talk and talk and laugh.  And wow…those hugs at the end of an evening!

img_2343img_2345img_2346img_2348img_2353

Walking the circle of the pond at Frank’s Flats…always calms me and makes me live more deliberately or consciously.  Walking, itself, causes the lungs to fill up and with ‘real’ air.  The light filters in and replaces worry or dischord.

img_2356img_2361

Contemplating my closest companion…our friendship…activity.  There are many funny moments created by my Max-Man.  This weekend, I was grateful for my fur-boys, both dogs, Laurie-Dog and Max-Man and cats, Piper, Edgar and Peanut.

laurie-dog-3img_2369

On our Saturday afternoon walk, a flock of fourteen Trumpeter swans flew overhead. There is nothing like their sound pulling out of a blue sky.  I didn’t care about zooming or panning, obviously, but I can not look at this patch of blue, without remembering what that was like.  I always consider these events to be Holy events and I have been graced with the blessing of many such moments.img_2378

On Sunday morning, I went to early Mass.  For me, the peace that comes with this celebration can’t be replaced with anything else.  I was also very grateful to be embraced by the MacDonalds in the parking lot, afterwards. Such good people.

Off to the grocery store, I filled my basket with cheeses, beautiful squash, vegetables and fruit and some Kaslo sourdough pasta.  I had selected a lovely Cannelloni recipe to prepare for dinner.

Sunday offers the opportunity for people to recline and have a little snooze, or as my Dad calls them, a Sizz under the Fuzzy.  I had one of those and then…

I drove to Hull’s Wood…a part of my life, here, in Calgary’s fringe.  Jess has begun her teaching of this semester’s Pow Wow dancing.  I highly recommend this practice to all of my readers.  We began with the peacefulness of a smudge ceremony and the blessing of sweetgrass and sage.  Then…cardio…then practice.  This week, some basics in handling a single hoop.

img_2380img_2383img_2384img_2386

I had missed a few openings on the weekend.  I especially wanted to see the exhibit, For You and Me hosted by the Paul Kuhn Gallery, curated by artist, Ashleigh Bartlett.  As well, I had wished to offer my support of Mark Vasquez-Mackay and Rich Theroux for their opening, Mindfulness at the Rumble House.

I decided, on the way home from Pow Wow dancing that I would stop off at the Queensland Community Center and spend some time with Mark’s mural on the building.  On a perfect autumn day, it was a wonderful option for viewing art and giving one of my peeps, some support.

img_2388img_2390img_2392img_2393img_2395img_2399

At home, Cayley and I made Cannelloni together.  It was fun to share the kitchen and I’d like to do that more often.  The process of cooking can be a very relaxing thing.  When I went to my room in search of my bedroom slippers, I noticed that my daughter had also folded my clothes from the dryer.  Kindness from others is likely  the best medicine out there, for anything that might ail you as an individual…it is also the best medicine for the world.

I would like my readers to share what it is that they do to relax, to find their center…to be at peace.  We don’t have to control everything all of the time.  But, how do we let go of that need to control everything?

Epiphany Tunnel Books

Oh my gosh…not a lot of writing is going to happen here, but I have to archive an activity that I’ve actually never practiced before and had opportunity to try today.  I have to say that the most difficult aspect of teaching a grade four class how to construct a tunnel book was teaching them how to fold creases as valleys and mountains…or let’s face it, how to fold creases at all.  Do my readers remember, as children, folding fans?  That’s all that’s required, really, but folding a fan seemed, at times, insurmountable.

All other concepts…near and far…background, middle ground, foreground…no problem.  I don’t know.  I’ll have to think about just how to make the folding easier.

What I DID do…I created a template and copied it twice for each student, providing, once folded, for the two sides of the tunnel book (accordion-like).  I marked out a series of lines, dotted from one side to the opposite side.  At some point, I’ll photograph my template and share it here, but, not tonight. What’s a tunnel book, you ask?

Tunnel books can be as sophisticated OR as simple as you wish. The book collapses flat, exposing a single composition.  Once pulled, like an accordion, a three dimensional sensibility is revealed. The Epiphany tunnel books that the grade fours created after I shared the story, The Gift of the Magi, were very basic.  Take a look at these.  These illustrate the more complex tradition.

Wim de Vos is a bit of a character…but, I like that he demonstrates the kind of artistry possible where a tunnel book is concerned.

I found the following photo on Amanda Watson-Will’s site and because there is no other photographer credited, I will assume this is her archive.

Wim de Vos

This is more like it.  I only wished I had seen this one before I began my lesson.

So, after the  story of the Epiphany star and the fine art of gift offering…I got the students started on a background panel, deciding that it made sense to work from the back up to the front OR the background to the foreground.

These are a sampling of the tunnel books made by these awesome, open and enthusiastic students!  Love them so much.

Requirements for their compositions:  A guiding light, a figure, gifts, foreground, background and middle ground.

Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 006Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 013Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 005Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 003Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 001Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 015Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 012Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 017Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 008Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 014Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 002Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 007Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 010Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 004Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 016Kath's Canon, January 7 2015 Gr 4 Epiphany Tunnel Books 018

Thank you, Colleen, for your class!  What beautiful children!

My Get Away to Visit the Bogners

I got up bright and early and pursued yet another DIY project…the front entrance and closet.  I’m leaving the intense palette at the front door. Ten years ago, I wanted to keep a triad sort of palette going, with the three primary colours, but recently I’ve been muting the colour throughout my living space to create a more peaceful sense. I’m continuing to work my way through various categories inspired by The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and translated by Cathy Hirano.  I’ve still got so far to go, but, at times I can see my space evolving.

This is what this part of the house looked like at 7:30 yesterday morning.  See some history of the objects here.

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 001I didn’t take a photograph of the inside of the front closet.  Suffice it to say, it was a disaster.  So…I got Max out to Frank’s Flats and then began in earnest.  Does Max look pleased?  Would anyone else publish photographs such as these on their blog…NAH…but, I’m putting them here as a way of explaining just why I’ve been isolating a tad during this summer.  With the broken foot tying me down to this space for all of July, I’ve spent August transforming my spaces, beginning with the top level.  Now, for this one!

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 067 Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 068 Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 069My place looked just like this, when I got myself cleaned up and excitedly, headed out to the Bogners!  Escape!  Vacation time!  Friendship!  Laughter! Jane and Randy are angels and the day could not have been more glorious for a drive toward the mountains and all that green!  Four dogs are presently sharing their space and so there was extra fun upon my arrival.  It was great to observe and talk about other folk’s DIY projects as Randy has also been up a ladder for a good part of the summer, painting the stucco and window frames of this beautiful home.

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 012 Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 013 Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 014 Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 016 See all that green…uh huh…see those white window frames!  Yuppers!Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 017 Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 020Moose Mountain, straight ahead…the view from the deck.

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 026

Dog walking, Forestry Way…fun times with Charles, Ripley, Stella, and Juno…Max was waiting patiently, in the DIY chaos back at home.

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 031 Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 032Looking toward home…gosh, I love this beautiful Juno!

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 053Do you see her?  Peek-a-boo!

I GOT A STUDIO TOUR!  What light!  What space!  A wood stove and everything!  A potter’s paradise.  The kiln space also wonderful!  And I received the beautiful 60th birthday gift of a Bogner tea pot, fired in this very kiln!  WHOOT!

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 042 Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 041Arch within the kiln. Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 037East side studio windows…lovely mature jade plants next to a wood fire place.

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 048North facing studio windows…wowsah!

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 036The artist stands before the signage for the house entrance.

We finished our tour in perfect time to enjoy one of Jane’s beautiful meals…salmon marinated in olive oil, garlic, ginger, soya sauce; broccolini, garden fresh green beans, tomatoes and roasted potatoes followed by fruit crisp, with bits of lemon and orange zest served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.  Nummers! Wining and dining with Alex, Jane and Randy…a beautiful afternoon/evening after a tour of the studio.  Before the grill…

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 035 During the service…warm, homemade bread with needle nose pliers. :0)

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 034Dogs overseeing the operation…

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 055The feast… Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 058Saying good-bye to exhausted Great Dane, Stella. (and hoping that she would have a good sleep through the night)

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 064I am grateful for friendships that last the years and believe that they must be preserved and tended with care.  Now that I have found my way out to visit the Bogner’s, I hope to do it again very soon.

Jane Bogner and Me August 22, 2015 This was a delicious holiday experience!  With gratitude, I headed home before sun faded to the west, silently and slowly passing a deer out on Forestry Way…amazed by the peacefulness of the scene.

Back at home, I applied the second coat and began putting my space to rights.  I feel rejuvenated and happy to have had a get away.  It’s been a long summer, but there has been magic along the way.

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 075 Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 073 Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 072Walls ready for some art and a light fixture crying to be out of here.  When my table was finally clear of the clutter, I set out the gift of a tea pot and felt grateful.  Thank you, Randy.  Its aesthetic reflects that sense that I wish to create in my home.

Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 078 Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 077 Kath's Canon August 22 and 23 DIY Bogner's 076

Meeting Steve

My daughter and son-in-law have spoken for a long time about this wonderful cat sitter they employ while taking trips out of town.  His name is Steve.

Well, something I’ve found to be really ‘good’ for my heart is knowing that Max-man is getting one really GOOD walk each day.So, I went to the Red Rover Pet Care website and decided to ask Steve if he had time in his day to meet with Max. Servicing clients in the south, Steve said, “Yes,” and this experience has been amazing for Max and for me.

I treasure my connection with Max.  Typically, we share wonderful times twice a day exploring nature and being outdoors in every type of weather.  It’s been a huge frustration to let go of that connection. Unable to be off leash due to his knee injury, Steve gives Max an athletic walk on leash each day and returns after an hour with a very happy border collie!  Knowing that your dog-friend is well cared for eases frustration and brings peace of mind.  I have learned that if a friend is injured, I can support them by caring for their dog-friends.

These photos were snapped after speaking the words, “Max, Steve is coming.”  Other dog-walkers for Max’s second walk these last many days…I appreciate you with all of my heart…Cayley, James, Erin and Doug.

Kath's Canon July 18, 2015 Max Dog Walker Steve 010 Kath's Canon July 18, 2015 Max Dog Walker Steve 009 Kath's Canon July 18, 2015 Max Dog Walker Steve 007 Kath's Canon July 18, 2015 Max Dog Walker Steve 005 Kath's Canon July 18, 2015 Max Dog Walker Steve 003 Kath's Canon July 18, 2015 Max Dog Walker Steve 001If you are looking for quality care for your pets and you are living way out in these southern ‘burbs…Kim and Steve are the people for you!

Kath's Canon July 18, 2015 Max Dog Walker Steve 012 cropped Kath's Canon July 18, 2015 Max Dog Walker Steve 011-croppedAn hour long walk…and ten minutes later.

DSC_1103

Foot Rest

Foot Rest 1I felt myself falling in slow motion. Over I went and my foot remained in the hole, while my body flung over that way…to the right. I heard a sound as though a thick elastic band had just hit a wall. I looked up. The dog walker twenty feet from me walked past, hitching her brown and white collie to her lead. I was looking up from a funny angle. Max was sitting at my head, tied tight by umbilical lead. I wondered about moving. My hip was hurting. Slowly, I pulled my foot from the hole. The guy on the bike flew past me.

Blue Boy

Of the same series…

Leaning back onto the bed…reading the Introductory comments to House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, Max whined incessantly at my head. I had no idea why, but I thought it might have something to do with his recently favourite toy, Blue Boy. So, in frustration, I said, “No, Max! I’m not getting up to get him…YOU GET BLUE BOY!” Like the trooper he is, he retrieved Blue Boy out of his water dish and proceeded to walk the gamut of the family room with his toy, pouring water, the entire loop of the room.

I rolled off of the bed and hobbled to the closet where I found paper towel and carried on wiping up all of the water and throwing Blue Boy out onto the back deck.  Moments of peace and silence can somehow become disrupted even when no one is around.

There are so many layers to be unpeeled in life.  The more simple and slow and uninvolved life might seem, the more one discovers in the close-up version of every microcosm.

History & Future of the Book DIG 350 (Fall 2014)

Max Moors Gets Mail!

….EXPEDITED, no less!  Thanks to the Fiset family, and especially my sister-friend, Val, for sending a care package.  It arrived safe and sound on our front door step and Max-Man (as I call him) or Maxfield (as my father calls him) is grateful. Recouping from an injury isn’t easy.  It’s especially difficult keeping an ‘enthusiastic’ breed cloistered in a house all day.  He is offered simple leash walks after a lifetime of exploration and boundless expression of the most agile, speedy and remarkable variety. He looks at me with those big brown eyes, and I imagine him saying, “And it’s come to this???”  Max is delighted with the mail.  And I’m grateful for the generosity of my family.  Thank you!

My readers might take note that my writing has been limited these several months while I’ve served a four month contract, teaching an awesome group of grade threes.  My guess is that as I venture into the summer months, there will be more painting and more writing than I even imagined because Max and I will be limited in regards to our outdoor discoveries.  Close to home, we’ll be venturing into the world of home repairs, studio time and quiet evenings on the back deck.

In the meantime…here is an archive of Max’s reactions.  And then, we’ll be putting on the leash and getting out for a late afternoon stroll.

DSC_4191 DSC_4192 Cell June 15, Max Gets Mail 005 Cell June 15, Max Gets Mail 006 DSC_4198 DSC_4200 DSC_4201 DSC_4202 DSC_4203 DSC_4205 DSC_4207 DSC_4208 DSC_4209