I was never that person who could keep a gratitude journal, but I do notice that I’m pretty well always grateful for even the ordinary parts of my life. Because I value the ordinary, when something really remarkable comes along, I am really over-the-top grateful.
The Beltline Urban Murals Project provided several offerings over the past few days. My friend, Pat, and I participated in a tour that introduced us to the murals in east locations of the Beltline. We will have to see the murals to the west on our own. The weather was cooperative at the outset, but then we just got really hit with rain. It’s interesting though, Pat and I never really get hung up about things when we are taking in an event of interest. We just have fun.
Click on the blue links for artist biographies. This is the third annual BUMP event to be held in Calgary.
Pat can be seen jay walking in the next photograph. She is going to let me know (again) that she doesn’t like her photo taken.
This mural was a new addition to the line up and it was a really fun stop as two artists were working on this alley mural as we approached. I believe the gentleman is RUNT. It can’t be easy painting that rough stucco surface with brushes. I’m also guessing that this wall was in bad shape upon the outset!
As we left, I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the old ad. art work on the adjacent building.
This piece is going to be amazing and will cover the expanse of this wall. It is based on a study done of buffalo hides and is connected with research at Blackfoot Crossing. Typically, Guido Van Helten produces works that include large monochrome portraits, so this is a little different. I’m excited to see this one finished.
Mateusz Naperialski created a mural in close proximity to several others. This little section was absolutely beautiful and the art was like eye candy. I was really feeling for the organizers and events folks, as well as the DJs who were closing out the event. What a time to have so much rain!
Labrona’s work created a beautiful welcome into the celebration area, fixed with fire pits, strung lights and spray paint demonstrations and participation. So fun! Food trucks are down there and I’m sure that the music is still playing.
Reza Nik’s bright yellow created a brilliant conclusion to our BUMP experience. This is an event that is now on my radar and I will be attending in future. Congratulations to all participants. I’m thrilled that our city is energizing the visual. It’s so important to all of us.
I dread flying. (The fears stem from multiple days on a cross-country flight in a single engine Cessna…but, that’s another story.)
When I heard that one of my best friends, spiritual guides and artist-buddies was moving at warp speed toward death (as we all are), I had to fly. It is with gratitude for a few people and circumstances and timing that I write these words down. Everything lined up so that I could be with Bobbie. Bob and I shared over twenty years of friendship and he inspired such rich and wonderful magic in my life. It was an unwritten pact of sorts that led me to his bedside and into the wonderful circle of his family.
When we landed, I took words of a highly-traveled friend, Hollee, to heart and pretended, to some degree, that I was Dora the Explorer. I had some reservations about flying into Vancouver, not being familiar with the ‘big’ city at all. I had flown into Vancouver with a friend many years ago in order to enjoy a Dave Matthew’s Band concert and the Art Gallery, but hadn’t ever found my way around on my own. So, on the advice of Hollee, I took my time finding my way to the Canada Line, enjoying the beautiful art displayed throughout the airport. Bob would have loved that I did this.
I successfully found my way to the Broadway/City Hall stop and then began my short walk to the hospital.
Peter met me at the elevator on the 16th floor of the Palliative Care Unit, after a convoluted wandering of the hospital, having thought I would find Bob on the eleventh floor. When I stepped around the corner and into Bob’s room, his arms extended and opened up to me. The embrace of two old friends was delicious. He uttered his delight and I parked my bag. I knew that I would make this room my home for the coming days, although Bronwyn had graciously offered me a bed.
I collected a series of photographs…none of them great, because I was so impressed. I wasn’t in Vancouver for site seeing or for a vacation. And yet, the space where my dear friend spent his last days was absolutely beautiful. I’m so grateful for that. This post is written in order to celebrate Bob’s life. He held, in his imagination, such knowledge, practice and understanding of place, aesthetics and image-making. This collection would have awed him.
I sat through the wee hours of morning on August 20th and felt an overwhelming peace. Of course, I was weary, but I was and am so grateful for the people who are in my circle. I am so blessed. Bob was a gentle and kind man. His spirit lives.
I’m doing some back-peddling. I’ve not been much for writing the past week or so, but I’m pulling out of the doldrums. (Maybe because of the seven hours of sleep last night.) I have no idea. I’m just going with the ebb and flow. I’m being grateful. I began the day with a short Vimeo shared on social media by artist, Tim Schumm. He’s been quite the adventurer in life and when I see his photographs, paintings and such, I feel a real connection with the more adventurous spirit that was my youth.
This is the video he shared. If you have 16 minutes, watch it. It made a difference for me today.
I felt a change inside at the conclusion of the movie. I made a decision to be more patient and to be grateful. Additionally, I decided to focus on kindness. So, where yesterday, I felt a tad ‘flat’, today I gained purpose. I also felt prepared to celebrate the lives of those who have died over the past few years without focusing on missing them. And so, I feel as though today I was going somewhere instead of traveling nowhere…I felt, a little bit, as though I had left the doldrums.
And so, I sit to write…
Happy Birthday, Nigel! August 23rd…and we are so grateful you were born! Former student of mine, smart cookie, amazing chef, artiste-extraordinaire, husband to beautiful and big-hearted Angela, philosopher, literary scholar, gamer, connoisseur of music, all round good person….we are so grateful you were born! This evening, I am celebrating our friendship.
Thank you, Angela, for the lovely barbecue in Nigel’s honour.
Early mornings on the river now reveal just how circular my own journey is and how natural death is to life. All life blooms, but also fades. In youth, I ran toward the next Christmas and to the next Halloween and to the next grade and the next teacher and to a boyfriend and to a husband. Never would I suffer divorce. Never, in my imagination, would my mother die. My brother would not die. My life long friends would remain at my side always. The abundance of living well, seemed endless.
In reality, the magic that perches at the edge of the river demonstrates again and again that life transforms. I look down at my own hands at this keyboard this morning and see this transformation in my self. I have no choice but to accept it, while at the same time, I have the opportunity to create magic in others and to watch life unfold in my children and in my grandson. I also have the choice to embrace the beauty of another fading summer.
My circular walks at the river have healed me throughout this lush green often-wet summer. I have watched closely as the adult Bald Eagles tended two eggs at their nest, saw them through the biting cold of spring when at last those eggs hatched and almost two months later two beautiful fledglings found their place in a brutal world.
Having watched this mating pair over several seasons, it was sad to watch the disappearance of Mrs., a week after the second youngster fledged. She was such an inspiring raptor and was vigilant with the two young eagles, demonstrating fiercely, the skills that were intuitive and essential for their start in life. She may have been evicted or killed and within days, a sub adult began to dominate the territory, eventually captivating Mr. who diligently fed and raised up his two progeny.
These days those same juveniles soar high above me, carving huge circles into a deep blue sky, utterly celebrating what it means to be Bald Eagles. I sometimes find myself weeping at the enormous beauty of this passage of time as manifested in one little family at the river.
I no longer hear the sounds of the Red-Winged Blackbirds. Theirs is the first song of spring. And now, they are gone. Where only a month ago the Yellow Warblers’ very particular song filled the woods, there is only the occasional flash of bright yellow in the low brush. Mating and fledging behind them now, where do they disappear? The sounds of geese returns after a month of silence. The adult Mallards begin to separate from the juveniles now, after so many weeks of being alert and startling so easily. The American Pelicans no longer rest in great numbers in the quiet eddies of the Bow. The changes happen in subtle ways. One beauty is replaced by another.
Now, the Cedar Waxwing juveniles are practicing flight in great numbers and every evening they are making loops out over the water and back, out and back, lighting in bare branches. Adults remain vigilant. Yellow Rumped Warblers have increased in numbers, likely just passing through, and Downy Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Northern Flickers take up residence. Many of them will winter here.
Wild Asters are in bloom for a second time and the Thistles are in seed. Small water bugs fly thick and hover above the racing water. The fish jump. Conversations with the fishermen include stories of Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and Pike. They pull out their phones and scroll through their photographs, proudly telling me their fishing narratives. They humour me with observations of the eagles.
The native grasses are now beyond my shoulders and the closeness creates that feeling of being watched, a mystical feeling of not being alone. Sometimes, I look to the left and deer are perfectly still and their eyes meet mine. Their eyes are pools of dark liquid, staring. They do not move. We are captivated by one another. If I move at all they flinch or huff and spook into the trees. The coyotes sulk into the tall growth and disappear. It is in this stillness where I discover life, abundantly. I look up and a juvenile eagle is peering at me. The Grey Catbirds, now gone, would remain absolutely still as I slipped by. The Eastern Kingbirds, showmen as they are, perform their antics with seemingly no fear. Their numbers are also dwindling at the river’s edge.
Once, the stillness was broken by the loud slap of a beaver in the quiet eddy to the south. Another time, with my back to the water, I heard a powerful bang and quickly pivoted around to see an Osprey lift up and out of the water, huge fish clutched in its talons. The sounds at the river are mesmerizing…and now, with the tall grasses turning gold, those sounds can be very soft and comforting.
Tansy is changing from brilliant yellow to brown. Leaves drift silently to the ground from the highest canopy. I am in awe that summer is at an end.
Over the coming weeks, the Bald Eagles will eek out their place on the river. Mr. will no longer provide the two youngsters with food. He will evict them and they will begin their struggle to survive through another bitterly cold winter. I don’t have any idea how to end this post because life at the river has no real end. It is a place of beginnings.
I know this. I know that we must challenge everything in the world that does not steward the land and the earth and the air. Life is a brutal thing. Death is brutal. We must protect the little ones. We must leave my grandson this beauty…I can not imagine him not knowing what a world of abundance we were given.
Yesterday saw us traveling north on Highway 2 to do a bit of an exploration of Olds, Alberta. Both Pat and I had heard a CBC radio interview about the Highway 27 Sculpture Pathway and both wanted to see it. Cayley just came along for the ride. What a beautiful day!!
It seemed that we sailed there…when sister-friends are together, conversation seems to carry them and quickly! A short jaunt on a sunny summer day, Calgarians can be in Olds in an hour tops.
There was a lovely walkway, edged with beautiful landscaping. All three of us agreed that at some point the city will have to relax the parking restrictions on at least one side of the blvd that edges the park. Pat parked her car, with permission, in front of a very welcoming real estate office on the 27. We enjoyed our casual engagement with the sculpture, as well as sharing a personal critique of the sculptures. Read about the beginnings of this vision here.
From the sculpture garden, we began our exploration of Olds, first looking at the residential areas and then locating the amenities, including churches, sporting facilities and other venues of interest. We started off at Centennial Park.
Noteworthy, I thought, was the Horseshoe Pitch.
The Centennial Park offered a splash park (presently closed), a series of historical plaques informing us of the relevance of various buildings, early settlers and businesses.
I was very enthusiastic about the building facades…
A particularly interesting venue was Pandora’s Boox, providing for opportunities to game, read and drink nice teas and coffee. Housed in a 1910 Bank building, this space had great charm and seemed to be a bit of a hub.
I also absolutely loved this little shop…a real community self care spot. I was grateful for the tour offered up by the proprietor. Awesome, Olds Town Square.
By the time we located and explored the large number of churches and saw the various parts of the town, it was time to eat and we decided to try out the Mad Greeks.
Nummers! Good choice! Cayley and I enjoyed a regular meat Donair, combined with a Greek Salad at 11.00. Pat enjoyed a massive Caesar Salad with a side of Garlic Toast, followed by a very light cheese cake. Fresh food produced by a lovely couple.
From lunch, well, we met up with City TV, of course! Ranked last by Macleans??? Mountain View County??? Are you kidding???
This little interview was followed by a bit more of a shop wander and then off we were to discover Olds College and their Botonical gardens. Amazing stuff, people!
This is a destination that every Albertan would enjoy! I felt like yesterday was a really relaxing day and that I had the opportunity to see new things. We followed our walk at Olds College with an icy cold lemonade from Tim Horton’s and east and south we headed. Thank you, Pat! Another great adventure!
My son, Pat and I attended the first Thursday event on August 1st. Recently, this exhibit includes the work by the amazing Nick Cave. I’m so happy that we had opportunity to enjoy this work. Very provocative, unique and obviously born of tremendous industry. There is also such depth of meaning and I’ve tried to include some of the background here.
First Thursday was a most wonderful evening. I enjoyed the company of both Pat and James. We wandered the gift shop for a while and I found some lovely books for my grandson, things that I’m certain he will enjoy.
I loved the conversation and the company. Another great night in YYC! I’ve heard many people complain that Calgary is a tough city for making connections or sharing in community. My own experience is one where I simply don’t have enough time to take in all of the events that are absolutely accessible. While the sprawl does create a physical distance between many of my friends and myself, it is always a good idea to meet in the middle.
I still enjoyed my time at the river, but at this time, already began to suspect that something was up with the female Bald Eagle. Dad seemed to have assumed all of the duties and there was even the appearance of a sub Adult, maybe 3 or 4 years of age. I took a close up shot of Dad’s talons to confirm that it was him, although I’ve become accustomed to his handsome face.
The morning I took my tent over to set up in my grandson’s back yard was the last day I saw Mrs. alive at the river. I didn’t know it then, but the female Bald Eagle’s beautiful and peaceful time with me at the Bow River’s edge would be her last and so I will always treasure the archive of photographs my readers might enjoy, here.
I kind of chuckle about that sentence as I leave it behind in my first paragraph, imagining that anyone at all might read the thoughts or passage of time shared by a 64 year old woman. I feel some days as though I am still a young girl who marvels at the beauty and rich loam of the mysterious gully across from my home on Market Street. I don’t feel different and yet so many years and so many places have gone by!
When in doubt about how a camping trip might be arranged between a Gramma and her Grandson, it is best not to let the logistics interfere with the experience, and so, sometimes you just have to go ahead and make things happen.
Little did I know that a tent would simply provide yet another way for trucks and diggers to be celebrated. In the tent we went with the big yellow trucks…and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Thank you, Linda, for our tea and snacks. Steven and I headed out to a very busy construction site. Once returned, Gramma rolled up her sleeping bags and packed up her tent and was on her way. A call for severe thunderstorms that afternoon, made this call, the safe call.
The river is no longer silty and the clarity of the water in the morning, allowed beautiful hues of turquoise and green to shine through. Max is always my trusted companion on these early morning walks.
First things first…the fly sheet goes down. ‘Say fly sheet, Steven.’
There was an orangy-yellow glow to everything that evening at the river. I watched two beaver for almost a half hour before walking north west and finding Mrs. quietly observing her world from above. That night I confirmed that her talons on the left had damage.
Hours spent by the river are the best hours. I hope and pray that my grandson will love and respect nature as much as I do. I will do my very best to instill that in him by sharing my joy and delight in the textures, colours, sights, smells and sounds of natural environments.
Snake! Gramma touch.
What a pleasure to make observations of the juveniles. Dad is watching closely.
There we were at Anderson Station, bright and early. Pat was so very kind to share her Sunday tickets, a gift from Ziggy and family, with me. I will always be grateful because Sunday ended up being a great day for workshops and new discoveries at the Calgary Folk Music Festival!
With an 8:30 departure, we found ourselves setting out our tarp and setting up our lawn chairs at the Main Stage around 10:00. Again, we had a marvelous location and I felt really excited about what the day would hold. I really enjoy Pat’s company, our conversations and the fact that we are both open to adventure and surprises. We brought Pat’s treats for the first part of our morning…nummy B.C. cherries, moist rhubarb cake (love her baking!) a huge bag of Hawkin’s Cheezies and mints, (the hard candy type with the dab of chocolate in the middle).
Walking past the CKUA tent and on our way to the Rigstar Stage 5, we happened upon an interview with Ndidi O. BAM! What a magical start to our day!
After her song, Maybe the Last Time, Pat and I headed to our first workshop of the day, Hear Your Voice at the Rigstar.
This was an eclectic stage, so there wasn’t so much jamming as you might typically experience, but it was a beautifully supportive stage. T. Buckley, Logan Staats, Beverly Glenn-Copeland and Ramy Essam…each one very unique in their approach to both song writing and performance. This was an animated stage. It was a perfect mix and the audience was receptive. Ramy Essam and Beverly Glenn-Copeland were the surprises here.
We didn’t take much of a break because this stage set us up for a powerful day of music. We headed for the Community Natural Foods Stage 6 and set ourselves down along the edge of the tent, but in the shade. The stage show was titled Dance Hall Moonshine and indeed, it was a Dance Hall. On stage; Ndidi O, Valerie June, Cedric Burnside and Yissy Garcia and Bandancha. Cedric Burnside was the surprise here. This show was full of strong beats and drew in the crowds.
We decided to grab our lunch from our Mainstage backpacks and to find spots at Stage 6 again, beginning with Calgary’s own Lab Coast. We moved ourselves quite a distance from the stage because the sound seemed really big (too big)…so, we ate our lunch next to the new Cannabis Consumption site. lol
At 1:55, Fantastic Bombastic began with me moving into a central position under the tent. I knew that this would be a lively stage, featuring musicians; The Harpoonist and the Axe Murder, Sam Lewis, Reel in Dimes and Freak Motif. And it was lively! What fun. This stage got the win for the greatest collaborative jams…there was such chemistry, while all-the-while each musicians particular genre and music was evident. Everyone in the tent was up and moving. It was a very powerful experience.
This stage was the highlight for me. I had marked Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s concert on my map, for 2:20, but there was no way I could see myself leaving bopping stage! Grateful that I caught him in the morning.
Folk fest requires that I enjoy several rituals throughout its course, but given the usual four days, these rituals can be spread over the entire festival. This year, given two days, provided by dear friends, Linda and Pat…I couldn’t possibly do everything. I didn’t take time in the merchandise tent this year, nor did I visit the artisan fair. I did, however, take note of what activities were happening in the children’s section as I imagined my grandson attending next year. One has to prioritize. I didn’t miss iced cold lemonade though and Pat and I got a cup on our way to the Field Law Stage 3.
I thought that because this was Pat’s first folk fest experience, we should go into the Field Law via the beer gardens. Now, typically, folk fest sees me enjoying a single cold beer at this stage. But this year, oh my, given that the Field Law is physically open to the beer gardens, I found it extremely crowded, elbow to elbow and very noisy. Standing room only was located directly in front of the biffs. It just wasn’t my cup of tea although it was evident that the music was phenomenal. I sat for three songs and Pat stood where space was more available on the outside fringe. She was such a good sport. At this stage; Hamsa Hamsa, Ramy Essam, Mdou Moctoar and Cedric Burnside. I was happy that we had earlier enjoyed two of these.
Off we went to the National for Channel Crossers; Jon Langford’s Four Lost Souls, Mekons, Colter Wall and We Banjo 3. In the intense heat of the day, Pat was very observant and found us comfy seats under a tent, compliments of the National. Wowsah! What luck! It was under this tent that a former student dropped by and grabbed a hug and our annual selfie. It always seems I bump into Brent at folk festival. So wonderful to see these young kids grow up! This stage was a bopping Celtic sort of country blend. The sound wasn’t good, although the National stage is usually pretty good. The standout for me, here, was We Banjo 3. They engaged the audience and got things bopping. We greeted Colter Wall after the performance. We thought he was very brave during the stage performance as his placement with the other musicians didn’t seem to be very well thought out. Sound for his very traditional country music was better at the evening stage, but again, not my cup of tea. It’s obvious there is a huge following of this 24 year old’s music, regardless.
By this time, it was time to head for the ATB Mainstage where the lineup included Della Mae, Valerie June, Colter Wall and the finale The Strumbellas. I really found Valerie June was one of the most unique artists, with a very beautiful presence on stage. Funny how she stepped out, put her big green bag down next to the drummer and when she left, she said, “good night” and went and picked up her bag and walked off. No messing around.
Pat and I went, during Colter Wall’s performance to seek out french fries and coffees and returned to our spots with gigantic hot dogs from the Red Wagon food truck. Mine was slathered in cheese, sauerkraut and onion…the onion slightly undercooked. We chowed down while watching Colter’s fans completely engage his music. His vocals are his strength, but for now, he is delivering a lot of covers.
The finale act was very entertaining and the entire island was moving rhythmically side to side and singing along. I love folk fest evenings…the brilliant sky fading from blue to darker blue to black…the lantern parade…huge bubbles spilling into the air…beach balls bouncing through the crowd and finally, on the evening of the 40th anniversary, fireworks! Hugs from friends, Jocelyn and Mark…and we were on our way…another beautiful folk festival thanks to my friends. We crammed a lot of music into our day! Thank you, Pat. Thank you, Ziggy. Thank you, Ziggy’s family!
Forty years since the beginnings of summer at the edge of our beautiful river and the celebration of music, community and food! This year was the Calgary Folk Music Festival’s 40th anniversary! And, surprise! Things are a little tight for me this summer and I planned that I wouldn’t partake this year.
Everything turned around for me when my sister-friend, Linda, told me that she’d treat me to a night at the festival, if I’d join her for Sheila-E. What??? Of course I would go!! I was speechless and offered snacks and dinner as an exchange. (hardly an equivalent!)
Friday at noon, we headed out from Anderson station. My rituals each year have included the C Train ride and the walk with other folkies from the 1st Street stop down to the site. Parking downtown has always been a bit of a worry for me. This year was the first year, though, that I actually felt really weary as I headed home after the night’s main stage performances, so I might be reconsidering my mode of transport in future.
We set up our tarp at the ATB Mainstage and I was really happy to discover that friends, Jocelyn and Mark were parked right to our right. Our location was forward of the walk path by a long shot and this year, to the left, near the dancing section. I decided we had great spots for the evening shows and that I would have great access to step forward and into the front row fray later on. Whoop!
On the way to the National (Stage 4) we stopped at the CKUA tent in order to confirm times for Grant Stovell’s interview with Sheila E.
The National was hosting a very energetic workshop from 3:00 until 4:15, Mujeres Poderosas with Sofia Viola, Yissy Garcia and Bandancha, Sheila E., Los Pachamama y Flor Amargo. It’s really impossible to describe, here, the energy level. A fabulous workshop.
I loved the percussive power at this stage. Yissy Garcia and Bandancha, Los Pachamma y Flor Amargo and Sofia Viola owned that stage. Sheila E. snuck in a bit of percussive stuff on one improvisation piece, I’m thinking because she wanted to let Yissy be the star of this performance, knowing she had a Mainstage spot that night. I really don’t know, but this is the narrative I’ve written into the afternoon. It’s all in the head! It was hot hot hot and our shade kept moving. Click on the images to enlarge.
After this stage, we headed for the CKUA interview and for lunch.
O’ MY! Sheila E. spoke so eloquently…a little about her career, the struggles, her music and her mission. I felt that she was authentic, warm and was very blessed to be sitting this close to her.
Freak Motif provided the musical dynamic through the course of the interview and they are fantastic!
Yissy Garcia and Bandancha led off the evening main acts at 5:45.
This performance was followed by one of my favourite folk fest discoveries, some ten years ago, Ndidi O. What pipes! What heart! I treasured the experience of connecting with her music again.
Dinner break came after Ndidi and Linda and I headed straight for Mediterranean, one of the yummiest meals served at the folk fest. Linda went with the wrap style and I had the plate. For years, I enjoyed the curry that was served, but that business didn’t show up about three years ago and I’ve never found the perfect substitute.
Back we went to our seats to enjoy the food, but not so much the music. You have to be a certain kind of music lover to enjoy the Rheostatics. The band has a strong following, given their forty years of performance and are often considered one of Canada’s iconic bands. For me, their music is a tad of the ‘musical theater’ vein. I like the folk festival because it exposes to music you may not listen to otherwise, but this band just wasn’t my cup of tea. The high point of this performance for me, was when poet Kris Demeanor joined the band in song near the end.
High point of the night came at 8:50! Sheila E kept us all spellbound, and as planned, I headed for the front, coming finally to the second row, with Linda in tow. What a night! Sheila E completely connected with the audience. It was fantastic!
There was just not going to be any beating this performance and so I recommended to Linda that we pack up for the night. I was going home with one of Sheila E.s drumsticks. I was flying high from the vibrancy and execution of a wonderful performance. We walked along to the train, full of music and gratitude. Thank you so much, Linda, for this gift. It was up there with the top musical experiences of my life.