A blessing that has come to me during these strange times is a weekly check-in with my siblings and Dad on Sunday, after I attend my ‘virtual’ Mass with Bishop McGratton. 10:00 am Comox Time, 11:00 Calgary Time, 1:00 Ottawa Time. These conversations are always so pleasant and I feel so grateful. While these are not ‘real time’ connections, they are more than we’ve chosen to do over the past many years, through our years of separation from one another.
I love my family. I miss them terribly. But, we are making the best of things. I hope that my readers will make sure to connect with family as much as is possible through these strange times. Happy Sunday!
Early morning, before my walk at the river and after a phone call with my friend, Joan, Max and I attempted a selfie session, with a variety of results. He began by turning his back to the camera. Here are a few of his very personalized expressions. I was just so relieved in the morning because the afternoon before saw Maxman downing a half a large fruit cake while I was wandering about watching coyotes. As a result he had to visit the vet and, gratefully, Dr. Justine, averted any more drama.
In the afternoon, I headed for Trinity Lodge. I had an opportunity to enjoy a performance with Joan in her new residence. Joan has made a recent move to the Lodge and I was pleased to find her in terrific humour and to have a beautiful friend in Sophie.
Together, we watched a Robert Burns tribute delivered by St. Andrew Caledonia Society of Calgary, in preparation for today’s official anniversary.
First a wee pipe, then a brief history was given by Ian, followed by a recitation of this poem. Well, it’s longish and so that I don’t lose my readers, I’ll post it at the end. The title is To a Mouse: On Turning her up in her Nest, with a Plough, written in 1785.
I really enjoyed that the residents to the left and right of me were able to, in part, recite the poems and songs that were shared in the afternoon.
I feel very grateful that Joan is making adjustments to her new residence. I see myself enjoying many wonderful times with her. Sophie, Joan and I went to the Bistro and sipped our Lattes while sharing many fun stories. Once home, I took Max out for his neighbourhood walk and anticipated my evening attendance at the Katie Ohe retrospective at the Esker Foundation. Overall, it was a beautiful day.
On Turning her up in her Nest, with the Plough, November 1785
Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a pannic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!
I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request;
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t!
Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell-
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.
Thy wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!
But, Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!
Little, cunning, cowering, timorous beast,
Oh, what a panic is in your breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With bickering prattle!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering paddle!
I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes you startle
At me, your poor, earth-born companion
And fellow mortal!
I doubt not, sometimes, that you may steal;
What then? Poor beast, you must live!
An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
Is a small request;
I will get a blessing with what is left,
And never miss it.
Your small house, too, in ruin!
Its feeble walls the winds are scattering!
And nothing now, to build a new one,
Of coarse green foliage!
And bleak December’s winds ensuing,
Both bitter and piercing!
You saw the fields laid bare and empty,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! The cruel plough passed
Out through your cell.
That small heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter’s sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.
But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
Still you are blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!
She comes to mind often. Her humus recipe surfaced the other day.
I wonder if she reached out to our friend, Bobby, upon his arrival. A few more photos were tucked into albums today.
Ed, Bobby and I headed out to see Pauline, our inspiring University professor, who lived perched above Kootenay Lake in Argenta. This was in 1996-97 and I was on Sabbatical. We got lots of sketching/painting done. We slept under the driftwood shelter on the beach. It was the weekend that my friend, Lynn Kierzek, died. While I slept, I wore a painting vest that Lynn crocheted. I still have that vest.
The border collie found in the photo is not Max Man or Laurie Dog…that’s Pauline’s dog. I felt right at home. I love the memory of this time away from the city, of conversations shared along the drive. We picked up a rose bush for Pauline in Cranbrook and planted it while in Argenta. We also purchased a bottle of spice that she needed, in a small grocery shop in Coleman.
May Bobby and Pauline rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon them.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Thank you, Colleen, for your class! What beautiful children!
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 byMarie Kondo and translated by Cathy Hirano. I’ve still got so far to go, but, at times I can see my space evolving.
I 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!
My 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.
See all that green…uh huh…see those white window frames! Yuppers!Moose Mountain, straight ahead…the view from the deck.
Dog walking, Forestry Way…fun times with Charles, Ripley, Stella, and Juno…Max was waiting patiently, in the DIY chaos back at home.
Looking toward home…gosh, I love this beautiful Juno!
Do 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!
Arch within the kiln. East side studio windows…lovely mature jade plants next to a wood fire place.
North facing studio windows…wowsah!
The 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…
During the service…warm, homemade bread with needle nose pliers. :0)
Dogs overseeing the operation…
The feast… Saying good-bye to exhausted Great Dane, Stella. (and hoping that she would have a good sleep through the night)
I 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.
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.
Walls 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.
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.
If 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!