Halloween in the Time of Covid.

As December approaches, many of us have celebrated our Covid birthday celebrations. It was different, wasn’t it? Several of my friends are enjoying really significant birthdays and yet I chose not to celebrate with them, given the risks and the concerns around gatherings. It makes me sad that I am missing them during really special times of their lives, but I am really determined to keep the people I love safe.

Halloween was really different this year. For one, Max wasn’t home with me. I haven’t written his tribute as a post yet because I’m just not ready, but on October 31 of last year, Max reinjured himself for the final time. While he managed for another year, almost, it was a different year for him. It was quiet and his walks were shorter and more thoughtful than ever before. He really struggled through this year, the year of Covid. What I am most grateful for, however, was the fact that I was home with him around the clock and that I shared his last year with him, immersed in love. Snacks were readily available and begging was allowed. I’m sure he found this confusing.

This year, on Halloween night, I headed over to my grandson’s to celebrate ‘revised’ Halloween, where everyone in his neighbourhood was a hero, making fun for children and parents by creating a new normalcy. I was really impressed. This year, three, Steven was going out as Rider of Paw Patrol and so, his Gramma dressed as Chase, one of Rider’s Patrol. We are creating so many memories.

Second Halloween Bumblebees at Mommy and Daddy’s
Third Halloween Teddy Bears
Fourth Halloween Paw Patrol Chase and Rider

Pumpkin decoration happened the night before dress up night.  Look at my handsome grandson and his Mommy!

I took some photographs of the magic that was created by my neighbours before heading out for the dress up event shared with my grandson.  

Door to door was magical, as so many neighbours made special effort to create magic for the little ones.  There were all sorts of contraptions for passing out candy safely and all of this ingenuity contributed to the celebration of the night.  I’m grateful that Steven was able to enjoy a night of fun.  In the midst of a global pandemic it is really special to make positive memories.

Eric Wicherts Visits KOAC

I was introduced to my new friend, Eric Wicherts, in the midst of a pandemic.  I won’t forget that.  It is a beautiful thing that something wondrous took place when times were unexpectedly difficult.  Eric has lived and continues to live a very interesting life and conversations are always interesting, but not so much when both of us are wearing masks and unable to sort out the mumbles.  Writing one another seems to be our most optimal form of communication and I look forward to hearing from him as he writes his advise, experience and his efforts on recent projects.

The day I met Eric, he spoke the entire time about his beloved wife, Andie, who passed away in May of 2019.  Eric created a beautiful archive and history of Andie and her artistic journey in a book, aptly titled, Andie.  This is such a thorough compilation of a life’s work.  It is an incredible book.

As I experienced the beauty of Andie’s studio that day, I thought to myself, ‘this couple had an incredibly interesting life together’.

It is only through letters, since, and our few conversations that I am getting to know more about Eric Wicherts, without Andie.  He is a remarkable story teller.  I hope my readers will follow the link above in order to hear an interview.  As time passed, it became obvious that I should invite Eric to see the amazing KOAC project and reconnect with Harry Kiyooka and Katie Ohe.

Yesterday was the day!

With Eric tucking into my back seat and dawning a mask, off we headed for the country, but by a very convoluted route.  I took my cues from google maps, a system that was in no way as expedient as taking Eric’s verbal directions.  The return to his residence at the end of the afternoon, was seamless and direct.

I would like to express a great deal of gratitude to both Harry and Katie for their generous welcome and their delicious conversation.  It was a busy day, as a free tour was being offered at 2 pm, an exciting offering during Alberta Culture Days.

At a point, I left Harry and Eric to visit and engaged in a segment of the tour where a person can experience the convergence of art, nature, sculpture and story.

Tours are available every Saturday at 2 through September. Contact heidi@koartscentre.org.

It was early in the conversation that I shared with Katie how she, along with other strong female artists and my sister, had inspired me to return to complete my BFA.

Eric has attended one of the KOAC fundraisers at the Hotel Arts.  Here, Katie is showing him some of the news coverage on one of those events.

Violets.

Sphere by Christian Eckhart can be seen at the right.

An early Alexander Caldwell to the left…I’m forgetting the title.

Katie’s Mother and Turtle in the foreground and 2 Crack, Pot Column Sculpture behind.

A close up of Sphere by Christian Eckhart.

The tour is listening to a description of the cement fondue piece, Woman Standing by Norman Sjoman.  Bob Morrell is in the foreground.

Garden Sculpture by John Andrekson

A wee piece of ceramic pottery by Roy Kiyooka is sitting in the gardens…

An incredible story shared about Snakes by Elli Scheepens.

Zigzag by Claudia Questo

Earth Mother by Mich DeMuth

Two works by KO Arts Centre Resident Artist James Ziegler

Dandelion by Katherin Dobbins

Time spent, deep in conversation and deep in thought, with Eric and Harry.  Harry shares such a rich collection of stories and remembrances.  This part of the visit smacked of nostalgia and gratitude.

“What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello
Thank you, Eric, for the beautiful afternoon.  I like what you said as I left you at your door.  “I hope that I will see you again.”  I will, Eric.

 

Inspirational Zoom Presentation by Kate Davis

Steve posted an event on his Facebook page.  I attended high school with Steve from 1970 until 1973, when we graduated and I moved north, back to Canada, while most of my peers from Great Falls, Montana, ended up moving to Montana Universities.  This guest speaker event sponsored by Swan Valley Connections, appealed to me from the moment I saw it, probably because I’ve watched a Bald Eagle family nesting in a very special spot on the edge of the Bow River for going on eight years.  I have learned so much from these beautiful raptors over the years, but realize after last evening, that I have so much more to learn.

Kate Davis lives in the Bitterroot Valleyin Western Montana and is an acclaimed photographer, steward, educator, writer and presenter who has studied and educated the public about Raptors for years.   Kate’s biographical notes can be found here.

Steve lives in Condon, Montana in the Swan Valley, a wonderfully rich ecosystem and landscape teaming with multiple species of mammals, fish, birds, plants and trees and raptors.  I am really grateful to Steve for posting and hope to be included in future Swan Valley Connections events.

Kate has written several valuable books/resources and is truly, an expert in this field of study.  As a result of this presentation, I will be picking up some of the books as they will be helpful in my identification of a variety of raptors and to further my knowledge in the behaviours and abilities of these.  When I capture photos of hawks, while circling my place at the river, I always have to share them to the group, Alberta Birds, because I am unable to make a proper identification without the help of others.

The evening’s talk was riddled with rich narratives coming from Kate’s memories and research, but interspersed were the introductions to three raptors that live with Kate

First, we met the Sonora, an Apolomado Falcon.

From the Raptors of the Rockies website…

We are thrilled to have an Aplomado Falcon thanks to The Peregrine Fund in Boise, Idaho. We picked her up on July 2nd in 2013 at 17 days of age and fresh out of their breeding project. She rode home in a laundry basket and hung out in a baby play pen (and on the window sill in the office) as a growing girl. This Northern subspecies disappeared from the U.S. in the 1950’s and was listed as endangered in 1986. Habitat destruction and later on pesticides caused their demise, and a breeding and re-introduction program was started by the Santa Cruz Predatory Research Group, and continued by The Peregrine Fund. A small population has been established in Texas, and breeding project came to a close, this just about the last one.

I am always one to be concerned with the shrinking habitats of species along the Bow River and the horrendous impact the development of the Southwest Ring Road has had for our local populations of birds, mammals and other species.

Next, we met Sibley.  Sibley is one of 18 non-releasable and falconry birds that live in enclosures next to Davis’s house, and this evening, was present IN Kate’s house.  What a profoundly beautiful creature!  

And finally, we met Owen, the Sawet Owl.  Most entertaining was Kate’s ability to make the various calls of owls.  This was such an entertaining and informative presentation.  While Covid-19 keeps us from an authentic connection, we are blessed that technology brings us into space with one another in a different way.  I am so thankful to the Swan Valley Connections for making this happen.  Ramona, and some of my birder-friends from the Bow River would enjoy such as this and I’ll make certain that I invite them in enough time to connect for future presentations.

65% of Raptors do not live their first year.  They are hit by cars.  They go hungry, finding it difficult to locate and kill prey that ‘doesn’t want to get caught’.  Their struggle to breed and raise young in primarily hostile environments is extraordinary.  The fact that I am blessed enough to watch our Bald Eagle family so regularly is a true gift.  If eagles are not stressed, they will live for forty years.  That is just so absolutely amazing.

Kate’s primary message to the public is not necessarily to get the big work done in terms of the protection of these species (although that would be nice)….but, her message is to GO OUTSIDE and when you do, leave your cell phones behind.

Morag Northey and Good Vibrations

I was so happy to receive Helena’s message, including me in an invitation to enjoy cello music at Fish Creek Park last Tuesday evening.

By that point, I had been spending a lot of hours through the night, chasing down the Neowise Comet and so, it was lovely just to bring my lawn chair and park it, alongside several sister-friends, and be lulled into evening by the beautiful sounds of many cellos.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Mary and, in these Covid-19 days, it was amazing to hear her beautiful voice carried across the required distance and plunked right into my heart. So, thank you, Mary, for listening to me go on about my University registration frustrations and know that I was just so happy to be out in the park, sharing time.

I previously attended a Moonlit walk with Morag Northey in Fish Creek Park, thanks to my friend, Pat. Morag is a lovely, generous and talented woman who has done so much for our community by sharing her intesne love of music, cello, humanity and life.

Morag and Good Vibrations (adult cello players) were being documented during their performance last Tuesday night and they did each of their pieces twice through. I was so taken by the beauty of the music, in combination with the reflections of the park in the glass panels that surrounded most of the perimeter of the performance. I liked that I could see the reflections of my friends there, as well.

This was a magical evening and I’m very grateful to Helena for organizing.

Thank you, cellists, for the magic of the evening. I’m very grateful for this opportunity!

Ptarmigan Cirque 2020

Around noon, Cathy, Anne and I hiked up to Ptarmigan Cirque, one of the most magical landscape bowls that I’ve come across.  A scenic drive from Longview, I feel myself unwind every time I have the opportunity to do this.

A little earlier in the season, I was gobsmacked by the multitude of Glacier Lilies that were in full bloom, as well as White-flowering Mountain Avens (Dryas hookeriana).  These made the hike today really special.

Be warned, the trails this summer, are heavily traveled compared to any other year.  On one hand, it excites me that so many people, with their children, are getting out to see the wonders that Alberta/B.C. offer.  On the other hand, sometimes I worry about preparedness as I see little children heading up in little sandals and no jackets. (The wind up at the top was cold and pretty powerful today.  I guess everyone learns their lessons in their own time, so, I’m leaving these thoughts as mere observations.

The air was so intoxicating.  It was cool and fragrant.

Conversation was easy among friends.  I loved sharing the trail with these two.  Again, my words are going to be limited, here, but I am excited to share a little bit of what we experienced today in photographs.  Anne and Cathy, I love you, dear friends.

I hold nature and wilderness in deepest regard.  Such joy…I’ve not found anywhere else.

 

 

Many Springs 2020

I was running behind, having spent some time taking care of ‘matters of consequence’ on the home front.  Once turning in toward Westhills Starbucks, I felt the excitement, even in the pouring rain, of getting out to Many Springs and discovering our wild flowers.

We missed Wendy.  We missed Carla.  And, we missed Darlene. And, we missed Darren, too!  Oliver and Cam, glad you could join!  We shared many remembrances as we made our way from our meet-up and headed for the Bow Valley Parkway and then on to our hike.  Only one other group was out on the trail while we were there.

Everything was lush and the colours were more saturated as we wound our way past Middle Lake and on to the parking.  Only a single ‘Bear in the Area’ sign, so nothing to be concerned about.

I don’t think we saw as many orchids as usual, but we certainly saw many more wild Tiger Lilies.

IT POURED….especially as we made it back to our cars.  Thank you, Val and Cathy for sharing this time.  It almost feels sacred.

When the ladies send me their shots, will publish them here…photo credit: Val Vine and Cathy Szata.

Diamond T and Pick Up the Park!

It was a busy day.  It began with flowers in my own garden…

Oriental Poppy

Columbine

Orchid Frost Lamium

Peony

…and expanded to include a whole number of beautiful wild flowers.  As I type, I am thinking about the special friends who also shared this day with me.  I am so grateful!

We had a meet up at Station Flats to do the Diamond T hike, a good early conditioning hike.  Val, Cathy, Oliver and I were an eager little group.  The link provided is a 2016 map, but will be helpful if you want to know where to pull off for the trail head.

Cathy retires this year, so a little Naked Grape Blue was served at our picnic spot.

Mountain Shooting Star

 

Red Paintbrush, Orobanchacea.

Arnica, Arnica cordifolia

Purple Virgin’s Bower, Clematis verticellis

Raising the glass in celebration of Cathy’s amazing career as a teacher.  She has impacted so many people along the way.  She has a stunningly huge heart and I am blessed to call her ‘friend’.

Oliver is waving at the bottom of a very very long hill.

Canada Violets  (I LOVE THESE!)

Wild Geranium or ‘Sticky Geranium’

Canada Anemone, Anemone canadensis

I had a two p.m. meet up with the ladies at Bankside in Fish Creek Park for their annual litter pick up.  I knew I was going to be late by a bit, so sent a message to one of my sister-friends and ended up connecting without very much hassle.  I had fun sharing conversation, weather, but not much litter at all along this particular walk.  My friends are the very best for being open to fun and good times.

While we didn’t verbally acknowledge it, this day, my friend Ramona’s birthday, was a perfect celebration of the Summer Solstice.

Ox Eye Daisy

While the sky was threatening and the air very humid, I was grateful that the weather held and we made our way back to our cars.  It was magical to see a lovely bride and her wedding party making their way to the river’s edge and I’m glad that they had only the mosquitoes to contend with, but no lightening.

Happy Summer Solstice to all of my readers.

Joan Turned 91 in Covid Times

I know, first hand, how wonderful it can be to receive a Birthday parade during Covid times because my friends did exactly that for my birthday.  Well, this year is pretty important because our ‘fearless leader’ turned 91 yesterday.  My treasured friends in fine arts education came together to create a drive-by parade and then a Happy Birthday circle yesterday.

Joan has been one of the most inspiring people to serve as Supervisor of Fine Arts for the Calgary Catholic School District in the days when fine arts were understood to be essential to the development of learning within a child.  We were a part of a period in education when Fine Arts advocacy was well and growing in schools.  Teachers received regular support, exemplary modeling and resources in terms of professional development, in order that they could deliver solid programs.  So, Joan was all that.

But, at the core of ‘who’ Joan is….she is a treasured friend.  She has a brilliant mind.  She is a superb artist, one who has looked at her world and nature with precision.  Her observation skills can be surpassed by very few.  Joan is an empathetic listener.  Joan has an appreciation for song and celebration.  She is playful and fun to be around.  Little sayings filter in to every conversation.  I love Joan with my whole heart and she has been a blessing in my life.  Happy Birthday, Joan!

My grandson, Steven, helped me get ready for the parade by painting two banners.  Unfortunately, when I hopped out of the car, I forgot that I had this taped up, post parade.  It looked better during the drive by.

Joan, sharing words of appreciation.  Always self-effacing, she made certain she drew attention to the strength of our team, pointing to each one, “You, you, you and you”…pointing to each one and making eye contact.

Before the fall…

Thank you to the organizers.  These events are so important for these times.  Each person has to determine what proximity they can have in every situation as we enter into stage 2 with the opening up of our economy.  However, it is always important to keep in mind the safety of our senior citizens and those who are vulnerable due to various medical conditions.  Thanks to this residence that provided us with a safe circumstance in order to celebrate our forever-friend.

Pandemic Parades in Covid Times

My 65th birthday began as most days do, with time well-spent at the edge of the Bow River.  The vast numbers of Midges at the river meant that Swallows were feeding in droves of thousands, skimming the water over and over again.  The Bald Eagle adults were feeding new youngsters on the nest and this always creates lots of magic at the river.  While the day was turning out to be grey and a little chilly, I still felt that I was able to breath, relax and do a little reflecting about what my life is all about, what I value and what is important to me.

In the afternoon, on the advice of my middle daughter, I watched a couple of episodes of the The Great Canadian Baking Show.  I laugh as I think about this because the last thing I am is a baker.  It was relaxing and mindless television and that was okay.

Colourful gifts were appearing on my dining table.  Thank you, Kathy and Val!

I walked Max…

I captured a quick photograph of our new vent resident…

…before heading over to my daughter’s for a Dragon Pearl take out dinner.  The Dragon Pearl brings up so many memories for our family.  It’s been our favourite family restaurant since the children were in high chairs.  I miss and love all of the people who cook and serve at this beautiful little spot in Inglewood.

While any food in a take-out situation doesn’t taste exactly the same as if you are eating it in the restaurant, it was a generous and loving thing to sit down with one of three children and to eat such delicious food.  After all, my grandson was sitting at the end of the table, entertaining me with his enthusiasm about the cupcakes that were hiding over in the red pan.  I opened his card and he vibrated with excitement and loving smiles.

A little over halfway through the meal, he started pointing and saying, “Auntie Cayley” over and over again.  My son-in-law’s eyes started shifting side to side.  He was just acting weird.  So, finally, I looked over my shoulder to the front yard and saw Pigeon on the yard, pressing mounted balloons into the gardens. I saw her partner, Shawn, waving and signalling. I went to the door and was excited enough about the balloons and the company when all of a sudden cars began to file past, covered in hand made banners and decorations.  The participants bonked their horns enthusiastically!

Oh my gosh!  It was a stream of my friends in cars!  Let me tell my readers something.

On the television feel-good news stories and on social media, we’ve all seen friends and families and teachers creating parades for friends, family members and students.  It looks like a lot of fun.  It also warms your heart when you see it.  But, to have it happen in your own life is beyond exciting.  I broke out into an immediate ugly cry, sobbing uncontrollably. I felt such overwhelming love pour into my life.  It would have been perfect had my son been able to be there to enjoy it, but truthfully, it was an experience I will never forget!

We celebrated with yummy cupcakes, a sip of wine, lawn chairs and more birthday greetings, reminiscing and physical distance.  I loved this experience…a combined effort of love and celebration.  Thank you, friends and dear family!  If you wish to really make someone’s heart swell and to fill them with an affirmation of love, try throwing them a parade.  These are pandemic times, so throw pandemic parades!

Zoom! in Covid Times

A friend shared a thought last week about writing down some of the events and experiences of living through these times, in the case that her grand children ever wonder about the historical realities of living through a pandemic.  Clearly, it was my experience to suspend writing because I felt some sort of oppressive push against everything that is ‘normal’ or natural in my life and so my writing ground to a halt.  Well, this morning, I am inspired by Mary to archive some of the ways we are remaining connected through this event.

Each one of us is experiencing a birthday or other important anniversary through this pandemic.  For some of us, that means a Zoom meet up…here is one, held for my friend Bee, just last week.  Each of us brought a candle and we sang happy birthday together and as his daughter Christina led us through questions, we shared memories of Bill.

Zoom has provided for some wonderful fun through these strange events.  For those of us privileged enough to have a phone or a desktop computer or a laptop, this experience has helped us to sustain connections.  I add this caveat because I didn’t always have the means to own a VCR or a microwave and I’m pretty sure it took me a long time after it was the norm, to purchase my first desktop computer.  It is important through a pandemic to realize that our neighbours are not all able to access the same resources.  This is one of the struggles during an epidemic.

Easter Dinner was actually my very first Zoom experience.  Grateful to my daughter for always taking the initiative to get us doing something different.  She made the invite.

Another family gathering happened.  Those who could, showed up and I loved every minute.  And yes, even pets show up now and again.  Hi, Nellie!

On the anniversary of my brother’s passing, family members from across the country, connected so that we could feel closer.  It was a difficult time.  To this point, I have not ever initiated a Zoom conference, but I’ve been blessed to be invited to these events.

We raised our glasses!

My father is living in a senior’s community and his social director organized for a trivia contest where Zoom family members would appear on large screen in their gathering area.  It was a funny hat event and so my siblings and I showed up for that, of course!  Given that Dad’s population is under restrictions, it is a blessing that Stirling Park has kept a social program going, alive and well.  I believe that we all need connection at this time.  The next few posts will also be about different ways that you might connect with people you love.