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.

 

Chasing Neowise 2020

All my life, I’ve been amazed by the night sky. It is not an unusual thing to see me looking up, whether day or night.

I have some wonderful and very special memories about loading the van up with sleeping bags and rousing my children at two in the morning to drive out past Canada Olympic Park, in order to watch meteorite showers.

My son and I were truly blessed one night, when we were both much younger, to share the Northern lights from sleeping bags parked on our own front yard. The green dancing lights entertained us for hours.

These are moments I will never forget.

I started my hunt for Neowise comet at the dawn, driving the entire length of Deerfoot Trail at 4:30 in the morning, only to find Neowise could be seen best at around 4. Then began the night time hunt, for several evenings, from the ridge above the Bow River. It is kind of spooky walking pathways between midnight and three in the morning, all on your own. Surprisingly enough, I met up with a young man at my perch on the first evening. There were other nights just like that one, where I was being chewed up by mosquitoes while standing on benches along the river pathway, searching the sky.

When, first, I saw Neowise, I bumped into a lovely couple in the pitch black. They were wrapped in blankets, hot chocolate in hand, sitting on lawn chairs, and whispering in quiet voices. Honestly, for a moment, I was spooked. It was that couple that oriented me to the location of our comet in the heavens. From that moment, I knew what I would be looking for on following nights. Armed only with a cell phone, this is my first shot of the comet.

The next night, I went hard core…out to Okotoks Erratic at 12:30 in the morning!

The wonderful thing about that experience was that there were maybe six other photographers out and about at the location. My quick observations came from a place of NO knowledge of photography, but all sorts of things seemed to be going on. I just started taking pictures with my cell phone because there she was in all of her glory! A man was standing in the foreground, upon a huge boulder, but I thought that this gave the images more interest. In the end, a person really should go on line and see some of the wondrous photographs taken by members of the Aurora Chaser’s group. They are unbelievable!

I met wonderful and generous hearts, Daniel and Arleney and their three children in the darkness. Daniel (I didn’t know his name at the time) was the man captured in silhouette in my photographs, above.

In an act of total abandon and without thinking much about it, I asked the couple if they would snap a photo of me looking at the comet. I really think that was a tad pushy, but kindly enough, they agreed. Little did I realize at the time the knowledge and experience these two have with nighttime photography. They are TRUE aurora chasers! Here is the result. Photographer: Daniel Sanchez Salazar I will be forever grateful to Daniel for this capture of Neowise Comet.

To follow this event, I knew that I wanted my adult children, if possible, to see the comet. My first born and her husband, I realize, have their little son, bedtime and work days to think about. The other two agreed, though, that on the next night (without clouds) they would be ready to join me in the wee hours of morning. While there was a thin veil of clouds in the sky, we still managed to captured the softest presence of the comet.

2020 has been the strangest of years, hasn’t it? It is important that as often as possible, we look for the magic. We are writing our collective histories. I am so grateful that so many professional photographers and darned good hobbyists have captured this comet in all of her glory.

Next up…watch for meteorite showers and fire balls!

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!

One Tree: One Hour July 8, 2020

This afternoon, while at the river, I decided to stand still beside one tree for an hour and document what I saw. This was an amazing exercise as I was able to reflect on springtime at this location and what I have observed since the snow melted and things came to life.

Steven (my grandson) and I discovered a nest in this tree quite early in the spring. An adult Robin was seen nesting for a matter of weeks and next, we noticed an adult Cedar Waxwing, her banded eyes, popping up above the nest. Today, mother Robin was the first bird that I spotted in the tree.

One of her ‘fledged’ was redundantly chirping from a higher branch…so…in a matter of minutes…

I watched the adult deliver the goods and saw the youngster move from branch to branch, eventually leaving and finding rest in a neighbouring tree.

The Cedar Waxwings seem to have some investment in this tree…its location…its resources because they were agitated, but not dive-bombing, because I was there. I always think that photographs of Cedar Waxwings look ‘fixed’ or manipulated. These birds look so unreal. But, no, this is how they look and the experience of them in real time is even more fantastical. These are only three representative photographs.

The Grey Catbirds are still very skittish, but this batch seem to be getting to know the lady who stands around and really does no harm. I found that they were more courageous today, even doing their remarkable call that secures their name, in my presence.

I kept looking over my shoulder into the brush behind me because Yellow Warblers were playing couples chase games, weaving in and out regardless of the blustery wind. I haven’t had a clear photograph of a Yellow Warbler this year, so I was delighted when I turned back to the tree and saw this little guy fully present and almost looking at me. Quick! Snap!

A female Eastern Kingbird took time to land and say hello, and then in her typical style, she took off, circled, landed, took off, circled, landed. I saw a male a short while earlier, but won’t include him here because these were all visible in a single tree.

A quick photo after noticing a Least Flycatcher…of course she turned her back on me and disappeared into the wood immediately after this shot.

And what would one nesting tree be without a female Brown Headed Cowbird? I’m sure that at this time of year, she is ferrying about, taking note of what birds are feeding her progeny.

And finally, as I looked down at my feet, this Northern Flicker was happily consuming ants on the pathway.

I managed to garner a few more mosquito bites than usual, but I enjoyed standing still to observe what birds might visit a single ecosystem over time.

As I continued on my circle at the river, these were a couple of the sights I took in. Another magical afternoon! Juvenile Spotted Sandpiper balancing on fencing in a huge wind. I got some really comical photos in this series.

Another clutch of Mallards…

The two juvenile Bald Eagles were holding on for dear life as their nesting canopy was swinging in the wind. I didn’t see Mr. or Mrs.

Advice to my readers…sometimes, just sit/stand still. You will be amazed.

Tails From the Vent!

The only people who ever read this blog are people who know and love me.  Some of the content is simply ridiculous.  My readers know, all too well, that I am also all about ritualizing my life…circling a pond every day, watching an eagle’s nest every day, following the nesting narrative of a Suburbian vent every spring…and it goes on and on.

Well, this spring there has been a twist at said vent.  If my readers look back into my archives, they will note that the vent has changed shape over the years as one piece after another has dropped off.  This, I believe, has contributed to the evolving bird narrative that makes up the history of the vent.  I’ll make it easy for you. (Laughing my head off.)  Here are the links!  I’m now going to pour a glass of wine.  After all, it’s Friday!

Uh Oh: Bird Tales From the Vent 2020

What a Difference a Day Can Make: 2019 at the Vent 2019

Venting! 2018

Venting…Again! 2018

You Know You Want to Ask!! 2018

Evicted! 2018

Drama Out the Kitchen Window 2018

Birds Art Life by Kyo Maclear 2017

May and June 2016

Mr. Found a New Mrs. 2015

Did Mr. Take a Mistress? 2014

Nesting 2013

Life and Death 2013

Livin’ ‘er up at the Ritz! 2012

This year, I’ve had the opportunity to watch a new sort of drama unfold as I’ve observed a single adult Pigeon nurture two wee Pigeons to life, one egg being tugged out of the nest, fairly early in the game, or we might have had three.  (And yes, I did see Pigeons, this season, but some distance from my house, in the act of copulation.)  I’m really getting an education!

It’s interesting what rituals birds hold, as watching Pigeons has been very different from watching House Sparrows or Northern Flickers.  Every evening around seven, I hear the adult (I like to imagine that it’s Mom.) cooing from the top of my roof. (I know.  I’m almost certain there are some surprises-not-surprises up there on my roof, as a result.)  No other Pigeons show up, though, just the one mauve iridescent adult.  This has been very-much a solitary exercise.  And who knows…what the heck is she feeding them?  Pigeons have always struck me as being a little dumb.  Are they?

Before this, I always wondered why I hadn’t ever seen a young pigeon…in fact, I’ve wondered the same thing about American Pelicans.

Well, this year, I’ve seen the funny little guys….and of course, I’m going to document.  These aren’t great photos because they are taken through the screen of my kitchen window.  Every year I learn something new about birds while washing up my supper dishes or while making my morning coffee.  Life is so very good and so very interesting.

Mom thought this little guy was being a bit too adventurous this evening and from no where, a big flutter and the two disappeared into their cave.

This is the sweetest….if you look at the silhouette, you will see her.  I’ve never seen her on my roof.  She is very discreet.  But, I’ve captured her presence, singing the evening lullaby to her two little ones.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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!

Valerie

I never get tired of remembering the birth of my sister. As a little girl there are only certain details that are real, so a woman, once older, has to sift out the details that would belong to others.

My memory is of the air. It was an April evening. There were shear curtains hanging on my window. The bed lined up along that wall, I turned to face the window. There was still a soft light. I already had three brothers.

I said (spoken or in my head…I don’t remember) “Dear God, if you are giving me a sister, please move the curtain.” The window was closed. I remember being hot. The blankets were tucked around my neck. I fell asleep, looking at those curtains, waiting for them to move and believing that God could do it. Already, I believed in miracles.

I fell asleep.

In the morning, my next recollection was my father touching my shoulder. “Kathy. Kathy. You have a sister.”

The next recollection was of her home coming. I remember the front hallway and a beautiful bassinet where my mother placed her so tenderly. Most wonderful, I remember my mother looking so absolutely beautiful. I remember embracing her.

In 2013, these photographs finally surfaced in a packet of undeveloped negatives. These would be photographs of Valerie, taken in the hospital. In those days, a baby couldn’t go home with a mama until after the mother had demonstrated that she could bathe the baby. It’s amazing to think that these photographs were snapped by someone in the hospital, using colour film, 53 years ago.

Next, one of my favourite photo memories, this time, in black and white film.

Next, one of my favourite family reunion photographs…simply because Val and I are together with our Mom and Dad. Little do people know when snapping a photo or two, just what that image might mean, years down the road. I’m likely more attached to these memories than most….I’m pretty caught up in nostalgia. In these days of isolation and separation from family, these become more important.

And finally…just snapped yesterday…a photo from the very current on-line communication format…my sister, Val, with her beautiful daughter, Eliane. They are both angels.

I love you, Val and Happy Birthday! You’ve always been such an efficient and hard working woman. You have had remarkable strength. You have accomplished so much and raised two amazing children. We’ve spent more years apart then years together, but I want you to know that I could not have been more blessed than having you come into my life on that April night. Mom would be so proud. She, is loving you into your life, still.

One day, when all of this is over, I really really want to go on a road trip with you. I want to go to one amazing concert with you. I want to hang with you again. I love you. And for now, remember, Love Can Build a Bridge.

March 25, 2020 Gathering of Fresh Nesting Material

I just returned from the river and had five minutes alone with Mr…one other lady was walking into the park at that time and took out her phone to capture the magnificence.  She had just happened to turn into the park and off of her usual walk, so it was fun, at a distance, to explain to her what was happening when he leapt from the perch and made his way to the ridge.  It’s remarkable that this family of eagles follows the same course.  While, again, the photos are not exceptionally clear, I was excited to see the male return to the nest where the female was sitting and then to see an egg roll (based on movement) and a shift change.  What a stunningly beautiful time at the river.

Pounce!

Wouldn’t you love to live in one of those homes…or on a single floor…or in a single room of one of those homes and see nature every day all day long?

Mrs. heading for a well-deserved rest.

Mrs. in one of her favourite look out trees.

 

Artists and Musicians; Poets and Priests

I’m of the mind that we can move kindness through the world.  This week, I have encountered some beautiful and engaging moments on Instagram, Facebook, Skype and other social media.  Congratulations to those of you who are being supportive, loving, generous and healing.  While we don’t necessarily have all of the time in the world, there are positive people we can access in order to contribute to our own wellness.

My family drew a line in the sand once prescriptions were picked up. My son and I are following the requests of the World Health Organization and our own Provincial Dr. Deena Hinshaw by remaining at home and keeping social distance.  In the meantime, we are finding our ‘new normal’.  I have to say that this past week I listened to the media a lot.  I’m guessing you did too.  I know that the news coming out of Italy makes me very sad because my daughter and I had such a magical time traveling Italy and I find this heart breaking that their  community is suffering so much loss.

In the meantime, back at home, I’m getting into gathering research for a project that I’ve always wanted to do.  I’ve also connected with a lot of different uses for social media that serve me in healthy ways and offer support for others.  At this time, everyone is coming to financial blows.  Good for those of you who are enjoying financial stability because your houses are paid for and you have provisions to get you through this.  Bless those who are struggling….but then, you’ve all heard the news during this past week.

Here are a few of the amazing connections I’ve been blessed to have in the last week.

Auntie Check-in with all of my nieces and nephews…this will be a weekly thing.  I haven’t heard from Ainslie, but every one else checked in.  For this, I’m using Facebook group messenger.

E mail group letters are being exchanged in some of my circles, in order to touch base with how friends are doing and what they’re doing.

I’ve always touched base with my father via Skype, although our reception has not been very good as of late and so we are using Facetime for daily check ins.

My Grandson and I are Skyping, although sometimes we have used Facetime.  I love joining Steven at his breakfast or lunch table.

I’ve figured out Group Skype and a circle of my friends and I will be meeting every Friday evening at 7:30.

I’m enjoying various poets and their works on Instagram, book reviews and all connections with word.

There are many artist tours going on on Instagram as well, including those conducted by Trepanier Baer and the Glenbow.  Seek them out.  You won’t be disappointed.  I’m really excited about the one offered by vivianeartgallery in Kensington, Calgary.It’s called Staring at my Four Walls!  Check it out.  And in the meantime, think about your own art and perhaps get around to archiving it.

Live Streaming includes a daily meet up with artist, Mark Vazquez-Mackay.  He is working on an amazing piece…magical.  If you want to observe his approach to using mixed media and structural perspective, join up….usually a 12 o’clock start up.  Just put yourself on the list to be notified.

There are a number of musicians who are connecting with us through various media and live streaming.  You can fire off a wee contribution for these mini concerts.  I missed Joe Nolan’s the other night, but I DID attend Ruth Purves Smith and her Swalwell event.  She is reading dramatically from the classics in an intimate setting.  Of course, she ended up playing us a tune. ‘We just keep on dancin’. There ain’t no other way.’

Contribution to her Pandemic Kitty can be made to music@ruthpurvessmith.com

This was a wonderful gathering with Ruth at the center. She shared a real time experience.  You don’t have to dress up for these events…wear your pajamas!  Ruth showed us her latest kitty rescue, a photograph of her mama and a portrait of her Dad.  She showed us notations that her mother made along the margins of her Poe book.  She drew the Northern Flicker card and thought of our communal well being.  It was lovely and minimized a huge anxiety that had come over me last evening.

There are wonderful things happening all over the world.  You are not alone, dear readers.  I will make every effort to continue sharing some of what is available to you through the coming days.

Patrick is working on a couple of YouTube channels and these may be of interest to you for the coming days.

Teachers, I am, of course, thinking of all of you over these difficult times.  I know that you are all experimenting with various programs like Zoom and Google Group in order to open up remote learning for your students.  You are shaving down content to meet the new guidelines coming out by Alberta Learning.  You are caring for your own children at home while doing this.  I am thinking of you all.

Where possible Moms and Dads, hook your school aged kids up with Live Cams that are set up the world over.  Many of these include teacher units and other resources.  Getting your children to connect with nature is a wonderful thing.  Message me if you wish a copy of a PDF I created based on Live Eagle Cam viewing.

For those of you who have lost your faith communities through this isolating journey, many of you will be able to connect with Live services streamed in the media.

I am sending out love from my little techno world to yours.  Be safe.  Keep distance.  Blessings.