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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Bird Tails From the Hood

Feral cats roam free throughout the seasons on our circle.  A few of them congregate on the ‘cat lady’s’ step because I think she gets them through the winter.  One of the cats belongs to her, but he is definitely an outdoor cat.  The other three come and go, but always sit, when she’s gone, on her smoking chair. The one that has managed through the most years is a tortoise shell long hair who often stalks my bird feeder and routinely catches and tortures mice.  I watch, stunned, from the window.  Yesterday, this very cat sat on the sidewalk directly across from my house…crouched and ready to bolt.  Max, my dog, barked wildly from the living room window.  I stepped outside to see what the commotion was all about.  Looking carefully, I saw puffs of feather circling the cat’s mouth.  It looked funny until I saw the fledgling robin on the yard below me.

Both mother and father were posturing anxiously in near proximity to the evidently scruffed up youngster.  I shooed the cat away as it bolted and hid beneath one of the cars parked along the street.  Bit by bit, I coaxed the young dude east along the street and up onto neighbour’s steps where he/she might be able to get some height on the next flight attempt.  Prompted by its parents, it continued bob bob bobbing along, however exposed to the crows, the cats, the magpies and the great big world.

As I looked more closely at the young robin, I saw that it had been attacked on its chest and definitely on its tail feathers.  I don’t know that it will at any point be able to fly, given this disastrous result.  Once again, I contemplate the tough world of nature.  I think about the challenges of adults, in this case, the hatching and feeding and raising up of young birds in precarious nests and then, teaching them to fly.  In nature, there is so much fighting against birds, animals and plants.  Sometimes I am amazed that species continue to populate this earth, where now, there are so many forces operating against them.  Natural predators are one thing, but the forces that human beings exert upon species and the devastating development of natural environments is truly, staggering.

I managed, yesterday morning, to delay the violent ending of a young robin.  The lesson, however, is that ‘out there’, it is the strong that survive.  I guess it’s the same for us.

©Kathleen Moors  Mama bob bobbing, frantically.  Her antics, steering the cat's attention away from her progeny.

©Kathleen Moors Mama bob bobbing, frantically. Her antics, steering the cat’s attention away from her progeny.

©Kathleen Moors Dad, looking as puffed up and red-chested as possible, distracting predators, the cat and me, from his progeny.

©Kathleen Moors Dad, looking as puffed up and red-chested as possible, distracting predators, the cat and me, from his progeny.

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors Youngster, his own feather caught within his beak, survivor of the first attack.

Cat Ladies and Other Good Habits

In 2007 I met one of the most gracious and fun-loving women of my life.  There was a huge context there and quite a history, but as of today, we jokingly share that we met in rehabilitation.

My readers will know that I lost my beautiful cat, Peanut Meister, this past year…well, I had to go and visit with Kirsten to get my fill of cat loving and at the same time, eat my belly full of beautiful white chocolate and berry scone!

We shared updates and laughs and took photos of Zebbie and Mitz from every angle, while sipping a home brewed latte flavoured with just a wee bit of vanilla.  YUM!  It was an awesome start to my day.  Thanks, dear Ya Ya!

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DSC_2531I am now going to wade through the kazillion photographs of these precious siblings and post a small selection here.  I also want you to notice what I was willing to do in order to capture these photo moments.  Zebbie is the one who looks somewhat like a zebra because of the markings down her back.  Mitz (not to be confused with Mitts) is a chill sort of guy…totally different demeanor as compared to his sister.  My purple winter coat became a fascination to both cats, but especially Zebbie.

First… one of the crazy cat ladies. (Because the other one doesn’t like her photograph taken. I am true to my word with people like this.)

Kath at Kirsten's 2(Anything for a picture of Mitz)

Kath at Kirstens 1Here’s the cat lady who shall remain out of photographs (for the most part).

DSC_2558And here just a couple of the little sweethearts.  It’s easy to see why cat videos and cat books are the norm these days.  They just put a smile on your face.

Mitz...and in the case that you didn't get a good look at that black marking under his chin, he will give you a better look.

Mitz…and in the case that you didn’t get a good look at that black marking under his chin, he will give you a better look.

Can you see it now?

Can you see it now?

Zebbie just loved the purple coat.

I see you.

I see you.

Oh, Go Away!

Oh, Go Away!

Intensity.

Intensity.

You're annoying me!

You’re annoying me!

We were thinking you might leave this coat behind.

We were thinking you might leave this coat behind.

I had a great morning.  Filled up with friendship, good food, good conversation and two beautiful cats, I headed home to my adoring canine, Max.  The weather was so beautiful…it was time to play!

 

In Part, Why We Do It

It wasn’t five minutes ago that I stood in the middle of a wide open field.  The air was cold.  Crystals of snow tickled my cheeks.  The sky was dark…the trees, etched in fine detail against the street lamps.  Snow crunched under foot.  My border collie, Max, charged wildly in circles.  When his face looked up at me, it was white apart from his dark eyes, sparkling like coal and like everything around me.  The sensory experience brought back two memories.

For one, I remembered walking home from the airplane hangar that doubled in winter, as a skating rink for military children.  My friends and I would laugh and talk all the way home, one at a time, veering off in the direction of a PMQ…home…warmly lit up on a winter’s night, the collective shrinking in size, the longer we walked. Boots, stiff from the frigid air.  That same crunch under foot.  Leaping into banks, harder and more lumpy than they appeared and piled high on the sides of the road.  Snow packed in swaths shone under street lamps like sheets of cellophane.  A recent plough must have just passed by.  We walked down the center of the road.  No cars. No traffic.  Voices echoing.

Secondly, I thought about my own father throwing a ball for his treasured pet, Gus.  I could look out from my window at 42 Market Street, to the huge field across the street and plainly see my father throwing the ball over and over again, repetitiously and Gus, speeding back like black lightening as many times..  As I threw the whizzo for Max Man in MY field tonight, the repeated action brought up a memory of my father and another dog that, at the time and even now, means the world to me.

Childhood.

So, tonight, similar feelings bubbled up inside me.  I heard myself saying out loud in the field, “I want to remember this moment.”

When my first born was in my arms, I held her close and touched the downy fuzz on the top of her head.  Tears slipping warm down my cheek, I said, “I don’t want to forget this.  Let this moment stay with me. Let me remember.”  Tonight that wee child is a beautiful woman with a husband and the ability to cook amazing meals, nestled in her own home, discovering all of this, apart.

This has been happening a lot lately.  On the day when I had to let go of our family pet, I spent the entire day alone with him…observing…touching the small imperfections of his ears…looking at the patterns on his tail and his tummy, wanting to remember…the joys of the 15 year relationship by some how remembering the details of his physical body, his warm breath, his purring, his gestures.

These and many more experiences (too many to relate here) have come up for me recently, but these do not, the revelation make! (Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury).  The revelation is that these experiences, in part, are why we write…why we paint…why we play music.  I think that we do these things as a way of recollection or floating, as in resin, our experiences, our memories, and our treasured sensory discoveries.

Tonight…Remembrance Day 2014 slips away.  We have remembered through music, poetry, verse, stories and the simple beauty of a red poppy.  Through these rituals, our lives as a creative, struggling, discovering, failing, flopping, getting-up-again people are rehearsed and remembered.

I have written about a crystalline winter’s night, so I will remember.

Poppy3

 

I Am the One Who Will Remember Everything

Oh what have we here, he must be three or four,
Shaken out of a boot on its way back to war
And hes not looking for a father or a mother,
Just a seven year old brother,
On this smudged line border camp of refugees,
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
So where are we now, he must be five or six,
Just running around, hungry kids, sharpened sticks.
And he will grow with pain and fear and jealousy,
Taken in by schools of zealotry,
Who train orphans to make orphans evermore.

I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.

You drink the smoke, you ride the noise
You drink the smoke, you ride the noise,
And you say its necessary,
And you forget the ordinary
But I say, on the wheel of time,
Scour the Earth and find the
Orphans of forgetting, all the orphans of forgetting,
Give them stars for math and praise for good play,
Heres a Band-Aid, happy birthday,
Yes of course I did remember,
I remember everything.
Oh come over here, kid weve got all these books to read,
With the turtles and frogs, cats and dogs who civilize the centuries,
And in a world thats angry, cruel and furious,
Theres this monkey whos just curious,
Floating high above a park with bright balloons.

I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
Everything

Songwriters
DAR WILLIAMS

Losing Peanut

My readers knew that my beautiful tabby, Peanut Meister, was sick.  I wrote a cat story as I struggled with his health, visits to Dr. Marty and possible outcomes.  In the end, Peanut became very sick here at home (I will spare my readers the details) and after observing a list of observable symptoms, I knew that Peanut was struggling.  Thirty six hours later and before our Thanksgiving weekend, I made the difficult decision to ‘send him to heaven’, as Dr. Marty puts it.  As you likely would guess from my writing and approach to nature and life, I am not in support of the death penalty, abortion or euthanasia…personal views of mine alone.  So, when it comes to the decision to have a beloved pet ‘put down’, the decision comes with huge struggle and laboured consideration.  It’s a time when it would be great to have a partner to support or argue my decision(s).  But, more and more, I realize that decisions have to be my own and I have to make them with my own sense of right or wrong.

Where Peanut was concerned, my daughter informed me that we could have our vet make a house call.  This was something I did not know and in a very short time, on that horrible Friday, Dr. Jennifer Hewitt and her beautiful assistant, came to our home.  I am grateful for the respect and compassion that were shown to our family on that day.  And while it was another very sad time in my life, I felt cared for and felt that Peanut was genuinely cared for in his final hour.  Thanks also, to Dr. Martin Lovo, who always cares for my pets with a big heart and to Amanda who is the very best on the front lines.

We are all faced with difficult decisions, every day.  I’ve just shared one of mine.  Peanut, along with Laurie-dog, Edgar and Piper, before him, will remain in my heart and in the heart of my family forever.  As one of our pet-family, he brought 15 years of joy and fun into our lives.  Thank you to McKenzie Towne Animal Clinic, under the Horizon Veterinary Group.

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A Cat Story

This week was a tough one, for a whole lot of reasons…but this is one that I can write about.  We adopted Peanut from the Calgary Humane Society when he had been there for weeks and was scheduled to be put down, along with his sister who was sleeping in a corner of their shared cage.  Ironically, I was drawn to an old tabby (looked much as Peanut looks now) who was curled up in his small kennel space, quite peaceful…a tabby that had found his way into this situation when his forever-mother had passed away.

My daughter had other ideas. That day we met Peanut, a seven week old tabby who was literally climbing the walls of his cage and crying out to my daughter, Cayley…”PICK ME! PICK ME!”  I walked Cayley over to the older boy and said, “Look!  We need to save this beautiful boy!”  Her head was cranked over her shoulder and obviously making eye contact with this crying baby, literally dangling from the cage by his claws.  He had chosen her.

There was no way that I was leaving the building, without him.  That’s what happens when you visit a place that harbours lost and forgotten pets; your heart strings require a decision of you.  And so, you leave with your arms filled with love, a forever-love.

We picked him.

Peanut Blog 1That was in July of 1999.  As I look at his adoption contract, I notice that we listed as his date of birth, May 8, 1999, my birthday.  He was scheduled to be euthanized, along with his sister, 7 days from his adoption date.  Our Peanut is now 15 years old and at times, experiencing survivor’s guilt, as are we.  Often we have been challenged about leaving his sister back at the Calgary Humane Society on that day, so long ago.

Peanut has been with us through so many of our personal struggles, heart aches and joys.  He is family.  Our dear border collie, Laurie-dog, took him under his wing and Peanut learned to groom his dog-friend regularly and rarely did they sleep alone.

Peanut Blog 2As a kitten and young cat, he spent much of his recreational time finding and then hiding in plastic bags and pop boxes.  Even when his body had outgrown his mind, he nested in the funniest places.  Peanut has given us much to laugh about when we take ourselves too seriously and he is the go-to guy to pick up and curl into hurting arms when sobbing begins over illness, loss or hopelessness.

Peanut ChristmasA part of every celebration, Peanut has never been any sort of problem or demanded anything from us.  He is flopped on his basket chair where he can watch the action at the bird feeder or curled on his red couch while family is hanging about.  When his dearest friend Laurie-dog passed, he lost his greatest companion, but at the arrival of Max Man, he quickly re-assigned his loyalty to this crazy boy, that, in no way, demonstrated the same calm as Laurie did.

I wrapped Peanut in a bath towel and deposited him in a Soby’s re-usable bag a couple of weeks ago and took him over to Doctor Marty on High Street in McKenzie Towne.  Dr. Marty has been taking care of our boys for years.  I had asked for a geriatric exam for Peanut because I felt, in my bones, that things just weren’t right.  For a short few days, I agonized that we were losing our Peanut Butter (immediately, right now, this moment) and could hardly breath for the remembrance of losing Piper, Edgar and Laurie-dog.

DSC_0440 DSC_0438 DSC_0436These pets become a part of us, our families and in some way, our identities.  Doctor Marty, in his compassionate and knowledgeable way, gave me confidence in his diagnosis process and in his treatment.  He also assured me that he would give me the knowledge to recognize whether or not Peanut is feeling unwell, discomfort or pain.  In the end, Peanut has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism (on the day of his initial exam his heart beat was sitting at 210).  With follow up care, I will have to diligently monitor for the onset of kidney failure.  Presently, my sweet man is being treated with medication every twelve hours and I am hopeful that this will give us more quality time.  Thank you, Marty, Jennifer and Amanda.

So, why am I writing?  Morning coffee always tastes better with writing.  Also, I wanted to write my love and gratitude…for what it means to be a pet owner.  Owning an animal that requires our care and concern, takes us out of our selfish place, at a very personal level.  There are lessons to be learned in caring for a pet that we can apply to our larger lives.  We must be vigilant in our concern for how animals are treated because it is a reflection of how we treat one another.

I suggest, where it is in your means, that you support agencies that do good for abandoned and mistreated animals.

Peanut has given our family a life time of shared experience.  I am grateful that we chose him and I hope to enjoy the rest of his time with us.

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