School reunions make me feel a tad anxious. I’ve attended my own ten year high school reunion, as well as my 20th, but because I was a student who viewed herself always on ‘the fringe’ and not one who fell into the ‘popular’ category, I felt hesitant and unsure.
The best part of my ten year class reunion was sitting in the hotel hot tub with former ‘speechie’ and friend, Jeff Marshall, and talking and laughing an entire evening away.
Meeting up with people I’ve not seen for a number of years and people I never knew to begin with, can make me squirm.
Yesterday’s event was a little different. This one had nothing to do with my life as a student and more to do with a group of students gathering to celebrate their friendship of almost 30 years.
It was lovely that former students of St. John Fine Arts School put their heads together and arranged for a reunion. While the group that decided to attend did not represent all of my students over those years, it was a fun mix.
Before I headed out to the event, I dug through my memorabilia, but came up short as, somewhere along the line, I finally let go of some student art work and writing that had traveled with me for so many years. I DID find some bits here and there and headed out to Gwen’s place in Chestermere, the only teacher from those years, to attend.
Most wonderful was being greeted at the door by Amanda. Amanda, it turns out, was also one of my students, daughter to Camille, who I taught at St. John’s. What a beautiful experience.
Thanks to Gwen and her partner, Dave, for hosting! And thank you to all who contributed such lovely items to the pot luck. And finally, thank you for the generous welcome and inclusion. It was a very fun event. I DID miss a lot of the beautiful people who were a part of my life 30 years ago in the school…colleagues who really inspired me, students who taught me to have compassion and understanding and to value creativity and even parent volunteers who were so helpful and so much a part of every classroom. From those years, I have lost friends, Dorothy MacInnis and Pat Campbell.
A blitz of images here…past and present.
Dear World: An End of Year Performance at the University Theater
Kite Flying home made kites every year for Pentecost…an event every year for almost 20 years of my teaching career.
In the day, when paper was allowed attached to walls…decorating.
The River: An Integration of Art, Music, Drama and Movement
An Integration: Do You Know What a Dragon Looks Like?
I didn’t wake until 10!! What??? The dreams that I had in the wee hours of morning were, again, of brother, but they were earlier dreams, back three months in the weeks at hospital, so less traumatic than recent dreams. That’s good, isn’t it? I poured out of bed and clicked my heels together! I had slept!! WHOOP! Whoop! But, QUICK! QUICK! This was the day that Gramma and Steven and Steven’s Mommy and Daddy were heading for the Seton Public Library, eager to enjoy the program, “Reading With Royalty”! The program would begin at eleven and there was still Max to get out and coffee to be had!
Celebrate inclusion and diversity with our new glamorous family-friendly storytime program, led by local drag queen and king performers. Supported by ATB Financial.
Audience: All Ages – Ages up to 5
Gramma was picked up on a morning that felt oppressive, wet, chilly and grey! But how to turn a frown upside down? I was so happy to see my family and especially pleased to be sitting in the back seat with Steven who was nestled under his fuzzy blanket and constantly taking in his world through the windows, through the mirror and through the eyes of his Gramma. Together, we were about to be captivated by the magic of Seton.
Upon entry, the first piece of wonder was found in the huge YMCA swimming pool. What an amazing facility. Steven was in awe!
Gramma was captivated by the sculptural elements and a sense of flight throughout the facility! While I didn’t capture very strong images because of the back light and my lack of knowledge about the camera, I recommend to my readers that they take their own field trip to the venue and enjoy. Bird lovers, be surprised and fall in love with the themes. Christopher Collins was the talented sculptor who created the birds. I hope you will enjoy his imagery as they are so much more specific.
As we entered the Seton Public Library, we took in the aesthetic and the excitement first, but quickly discovered the helicopter! The helicoptor carried on with the theme of flight, as did the suspended pinwheels. What a glorious space and what a magical investigation for children who find these amazing flying machines in stories that they read!
It wasn’t long and we began to gather for the special event, “Reading With Royalty”. There was excitement in the air! The Seton Public Library offers graduated seating in amphitheater style for gatherings such as this one.
Not new to the Calgary Public Library children’s programming and Rhyme Time, our family nestled into a spot sandwiched between other grandmothers and their grandchildren and people who never miss Rhyme Time with their children. Some were talking about the Fish Creek location…others, the Quarry Park location. If you haven’t attended one of these programs, this Grandmother highly recommends!
Today the MC was Tara and she did an amazing job! My daughter and I were both moved by the land acknowledgement that was done, in such a way that children might understand. We were prompted by verse to touch the land…as the acknowledgement was given and it was very special. Tara then balanced the program of stories read by local Drag Performers and verses that were sung and acted out by the children. This way the children were better able to pay attention to the two stories that were presented enthusiastically by L J Nailz and Oiliver Twirl.
Oliver Twirl: drag performer and enthusiastic reader of the book, The Princess and the Pony
The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton is a story that naturally breaks down assumptions. It explores that sometimes warriors just need cozy sweaters. There were laughs that came up throughout the reading of this book, especially with the use of the word, ‘fart’. What is toughness, anyway? What does it mean to be a warrior?
Tara, MC on behalf of the Seton Public Library
L J Nailz reads Quit Calling Me Monster
Quit Calling Me a Monster by Jory John and illustrated by Bob Shea supports children in their identities and their unique personalities. It presses up against the act of labeling or naming. It encourages ‘excellent manners’.
Steven is blessed to have this woman as his Mommy.
During the conclusion of the program, the performers were asked about their favourite music and what things they enjoy doing. Oliver Twirl shared the fun of playing around with both masculine and feminine clothing. Their favourite music included bubbly theater pieces and punk rock.
To end, three large Dress Up trunks were brought out and children spent the next part of the morning playing dress up and pretending. It was a great deal of fun although Steven, at his age, was just eager to do the stairs and to make his way back to the front seat of that helicopter!
Steven is blessed to have this guy as his Dad!
I am always impressed by the variety and the quality of programs offered by our Calgary Public Libraries. It is with gratitude that we left today’s experience at Seton, feeling a part of a wonderful and diverse community here in Calgary. Thank you so much to those who organized the program, booked the story book readers, pulled together the resources and covered these topics with finesse. A very wonderful experience was had at Reading With Royalty!
We just hosted Christmas dinner and Nigel and Angela were with us. I have to write this down because, given the experience of being swept up in gravy and my grandson, there wasn’t a single photograph archived of my dinner guests. You know the one…the one where everyone is gathered into a collective and asked to say CHEESE! There is always only one person left out of that photograph. Well, this year…well…no need to get redundant.
12/6/17, 4:11 PM I received this message.
Dear Kathleen, I will always remember you as “Mrs Hanrahan”. I don’t know if you remember me, but you taught me grade 7 art some years ago. I have been searching for you for some time, but it is only appropriate that I should find you now, as I am about to embark on a new adventure; teaching art. Would you be interested in a get together and perhaps imparting some of your wisdom to me?
NIGEL???? Remember you???
Of course, I remember you!
Following our reconnect were stories of remembrance of the Junior High variety…students working things out in my storage cupboard…stuff like that. As I revisit those years, Robbie Fernuk isn’t far away. He was a big part of the creative energy that lived in that particular art class. So was Nigel. Oh, how the years have sped by…
Photos from our first get together, when I got to meet Angela. Oh my goodness! It was as though we had never been apart.
I treasure our friendship. Nigel is life-giving. He is kind and smart and funny. Angela has become a new friend and I hope that we have the years to build memories and share experiences. Both Angela and Nigel are animal whisperers, brilliant, well-read and artistic. I love them!
(looking for Angela’s birthday photograph, but can’t find them in my archives…sheesh)
This was another one for the throne room…this does not mean that books in the bathroom are any less interesting than ones on my bedside table or ones next to the red couch, it just means that I choose a different genre and always something a little less cerebral than my preferred reading, fiction or non-fiction.
Another second-hand-book-find, What Elephants Know ended up next to my other books about elephants. I liked that Jane Goodall wrote a quick recommendation. “You will be fascinated, angered, and charmed in turn by this beautifully written story.”
Dr. Eric Dinerstein is the Director of the Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions Program at RESOLVE and so I was very interested in the fact that he wrote a novel and I anticipated that the book would be written from a unique and knowledgeable perspective.
This was a lovely book that I’d recommend for students grade five to grade seven. It was a quick read that left me thinking about the vulnerability of our wildlife and ecosystems. The protagonist, Nandu, is a beautiful character who, through his young life, teaches about the numerous impacts made upon these, while exposing the reader to the vulnerability of humanity, as well.
I think this would be a wonderful book to read aloud to students. It is refreshing to find a book that is culturally diverse and can open eyes and hearts to a different human experience. Grade three students, in their study of India, may really benefit from this story. Nandu’s relationships with his female elephant, Devi Kali and with the plants and other animals of the Borderlands are described beautifully.
This is a two evening (10 potty visits) read for an adult. I recommend doing a quick review of the book before sharing with your students/children so that you know the sensitive topics that will come along. Give it a go.
I sit here eating a hot bowl of hamburger soup for breakfast, nursing a cold that after days, seems to hang in. The soup is comforting and healing.
There are no photographs on this particular post, but a link, here, for everything you might want to find out. Calgary’s Walk With Our Sisters memorial installation has been two years in the works (maybe more) and has traveled Canada. It has just a few more visits and will be retired to Batoche. This stop in Calgary is an amazing opportunity for us to connect with the journey…to think about our sisters who are missing and murdered and to think of their families and friends. It is important for us to honour their lives and their life force because these sisters remain with us, as long as we remember.
As most of you know, at the onset of Canada’s 150, I decided that I wanted to embark on a journey of gathering knowledge and understanding about Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. I didn’t know how to begin. Sable Sweetgrass hosted an online book club and this peeked my interest, so I began to read along and reflect on the authors and books that we were reading. It was Sable who told me about the book club at Forest Lawn Public Library, hosted by Indigenous Pride with 12CSI and 12CSI Community Safety Initiative.
I attended my first monthly gathering at the library some time after that, intending to read a book a month, for a year, with a focus on Indigenous authors. After bonding with this group and having my mind and awareness open up, I decided that I wanted to continue with the group and to enter into my own personal journey with Truth and Reconciliation and the 94 calls to action. Michelle Robinson has been key in my life as an agent of change and her embrace is assisting me in becoming fearless in this journey. I can not judge what other Canadians do with the knowledge of Residential Schools or with the initial shock of colonial movement across our nation. I am responsible, first, to grow in knowledge and then to go forward to be a strong advocate on behalf of our brothers and sisters.
I was invited to volunteer with Walk With Our Sisters and this has also expanded my knowledge. As a result, I am inviting all of my readers to participate at some level during the weeks ahead.
Last week, a lovely group of women gathered to tie tobacco and I grew new friendships and new knowledge. I really love the fact that working with our hands created such a warm community feeling. My mother would have loved it.
Yesterday, I attended an orientation and was blessed by Autumn EagleSpeaker’s clear and welcoming approach. Autumn is a strong woman who is a source of inspiration for these coming days. It was evident how she has inspired so many others on this journey. I am grateful for our meeting. I was further blessed to meet Christi Belcourt, artist and visionary where this memorial is concerned. We were given an extended opportunity to preview the work that has been done to this point and to be given more information about the ceremony and protocol involved.
I loved being given the story of the shape of the Calgary installation, with consideration for the two rivers, the elbow, the native plants and medicines and the dress. The configuration of the vamps has been very specific to each city’s Indigenous peoples along the way, while the vamps themselves represent and include a wide variety of peoples, even expanding beyond international borders.
I am really looking forward to my shift later on today, the final installation shift prior to the Opening Ceremonies tomorrow afternoon, at 2. I hope my readers will attend. I hope that you will even extend this to volunteering a few hours, if it is possible.
Just ending this post with a lovely video of Christi describing the world of plants represented in a large painting in acrylic. Amazing stuff!
It is April 9, 2018 for just a short while longer.
I was downloading photographs off my Canon Powershot…birds, of course. I clicked something in the process of fiddling with the files on my desk top and images surfaced from past April 9ths and I take pause.
I’m going to slow this writing down a little. I’m going to back-track. Yesterday morning I was feeling downhearted. News has been very sad lately. We had just endured more bitterly cold days and another 15 cms. of snow. I was just heavy-hearted for a lot of reasons. I received a message from my friend Michael. He said that he was up for some naturing. The weather was taking a turn for the better and the sun was out.
We sat ourselves down on a bench at the river, after enjoying a leisurely walk right to the river’s edge. I watched a Downy Woodpecker, from where we sat. The brilliant white gulls flew overhead. Michael plugged in a bit of Ram Dass and we took pause and listened. For both of us, Toe Knee came to mind. Then we talked about death. We talked about the releasing of everything…power, ego, money, objects, even friends and family. We grieved the loss of so many who suffer addiction, hopelessness, overdose, hunger…we talked about trauma. I know. It all seems pretty dark. But, truth is, we don’t talk about some of the things that really matter. And that is why the pain sometimes continues to go on in the background.
Michael made me cry when he told me that the paintings that my students do are an expression of the artist in me. I was grateful for the remark. And so, today, I began my day by painting with grade threes…this, after walking Max, drinking my two cups of home brew and moving, dazed, through all of the morning rituals that began April 9, 2018.
First…my photograph of the little Mrs. She only pops her head out briefly during the morning, when Mr. heads out in search of sustenance. He is usually on guard at the vent, repeating his vocalizations again and again. This morning came with her sweet face.
The children are beautiful, as they enter into a magical silence and become completely consumed by the process of creating.
Small conversations about Easter break…hugs from friends I have made over the years…a really great conversation about Reconciliation and the Metis with a teacher I had met some years ago…a young student, now in grade five, putting out the question, “Do you remember me?” Number lines and plotting data, first events in stories, agendas, recess, mixing of paint, sunlight filling the room, fruit yogurt, spelling digraphs gh/ph/f…wallpaper in closets…dates in calendars…logging in and logging out…the drive to and from.
Max and I at the river…releasing. We stood under a tree and big chunks of wood began dropping onto both of us. He would shake. I would brush off. Again and again. I looked up to find this guy, ravenously chipping through the flesh of the tree.
…and this guy observing all.
…and this guy scooting into the tall grass.
…and this above and around me.
…and these two courting.
Not to mention, these two.
April 9 was a particularly beautiful day, as it turns out. My first born took a drive to Lethbridge today with my grandson and these two photographs, make my heart sing…Steven with his Great Granny Batsford and his Great Grampa Bergman….and soon he will meet his Great Grampa Moors. What a blessed boy! and how blessed we are by him!
And as I downloaded my photographs onto my desktop computer, April 9, 2013 photographs surfaced. I was given the memory of my mother’s hands…and the memory of the work that she did in her life.
These were a little gift for me.
The day is almost gone and I am left with a feeling about just how powerful a single day can be. I hope to be mindful about each day I am given. I hope to remember the lesson that this day has given.
My daughter (now, a teacher) and I were sitting together while she was still cozy in her kitty jammies this morning…me, at the dining table, she, on the stairs…she was telling me about a very inspiring Convention session that she attended on Thursday of this past week. It turns out that the presenter was Ron Wigglesworth. As soon as I started exploring his posts on the internet, I realized how his contributions to education and to students has been exceptional. Anyone who has encouraged a connection between drawing and biology is great in my eyes…in fact, I’d have to say that he has done a lot of connecting between diverse disciplines.
I got thinking about archives of various projects and things that my students have explored in the past and I just thought I’d write a post that featured those. I had fun teaching and in retrospect, I’m pretty sure that I saw the students’ hands, hearts and minds as extensions of my own. I’m grateful for their hard work, their talents and their commitment. For me, it was never about the marks. A sampling…digital…there’s a load of stuff in my photo albums. And, today, I’m celebrating it all.
As we moved through Advent at what seemed to be warp speed, I had the opportunity to be with Ashley’s class of Grade fours for a day. The students were bright-eyed and receptive…an awesome little group. Woven through the day seemed to be a theme of gift. So, the story book that I had packed into my bag at home, seemed like it would work just perfectly.
In the afternoon, I pulled out my book and read it aloud to the students. No matter the age, students, for the most part, fall silent at the reading of a picture book. It was no different on that day. While I’m not crazy about this particular delivery, I did find the story on Youtube.
I would consider the painting activity to be an Expression lesson. I did not focus too much on skills related to depiction or composition, but focused on how to hold a brush and the idea of stroking paint instead of scrubbing paint. I guess the interesting thing about asking the students to paint two mittens is the idea that the patterns would match…so they were exploring two things in duplicate. At some point, I adjusted my own system of sharing buckets of coloured tempera, but quickly fell back to my fail safe routine when I observed the chaos in trading that can ensue. I had intentionally limited the number of buckets I prepared on this day for the simple reason that I didn’t want a big clean up at end of day, so I prepared 14 buckets for 24 students. Normally, I would prepare 18. So, you can imagine that, at times, you would hear someone belt out, “Are you done with the white?”
Thank you, Dana, for your wonderful assist.
The paintings, in the end, were lovely. The Pinterest crowd will find a whole variety of projects based on this story book including fabric arts, oil pastel drawings and paper cut outs…lots that you can do around a story. Advent and Christmas art abounds at the moment, I thought that these paintings might bring the spirit of winter into the classroom, for a longer duration. Thank you, Ashley. Thank you, Grade four students. I had a beautiful day!
I’ve always used the word loosely. No incantations…nothing showing up out of a top hat. It’s a way of being…a choice to live in delight…even when, like today, a 2 liter jug of eggnog spills out on the kitchen floor, just minutes before having to rush out the door. I’ve made an effort now and then to explain…but, it is too much about the un-explainable.
Yesterday, I painted with Grade Ones…tree ornaments…I thought these would be cool with a bit of an aluminum foil embellishment added. I still paint with kids around the city, every opportunity I get, but have stopped writing so much about it. Holding a brush is an important action…it’s something important enough to become familiar…to practice…to enjoy. I like to paint with kids.
Every darned day that I am a guest teacher in someone’s classroom, I am absolutely blown away by the mountain of responsibility and creativity that is observable in just moments of being in that someone’s learning environment. I am in awe of the magic of the teaching experience, interaction and output, both by teachers and by their students.
I usually go over to the window first and open the blinds. I like to see how the light changes things. I also have the time to reflect, something that teachers who are steeped in their careers don’t always have enough opportunity to do. I like to reflect about the spaces where I find myself enjoying, exploring and filling with hard work.
Yesterday, Amber generously shared her students (little guys) with me. Grade One! Wow! All I can remember about grade one is my coat hook and the fact that my brother ran so fast the first day of school, I felt really really panicked about catching up. I remember a man walking about the school yard, at a point, raising a hand bell high in the air and shooing us into the building. I still, to this day, want to call him Mr. Cannon.
I haven’t asked permission (now I have), but would like to share a couple of images I snapped while the students went up to the music room for their very first time.
Just look at these…tell me what you think.
The students were full of energy, but we enjoyed our time together and really engaged the process of chalk drawing and painting. (There was no white in the supply cupboard so…I used yellow to brighten some of the colour…but, tints are just so lovely!) The students were very attentive as we went forward and I’ve captured a few little images of their work and their journal responses. Magic. And yes! Could be an Easter Egg…could be a kite…could be an ornament! In the ‘end’, it is about the means…and NOT the END! The experience of painting is wondrous. There! You heard it from me!
I asked the students if they might do a journal entry about their experience and the resulting pieces were pretty amazing. Lucas told me he didn’t want me to photograph the following drawing until he had finished the light coming from the window.
Today, I left my paint bucket out in the car. I thought I’d meet Jen’s Grade Six students before committing to an art experience in paint, this afternoon. I wasn’t with them for ten minutes and I knew that they would enjoy and respond well with paint. Mayhaps it was the fact that the first wondrous thing I noticed, after looking out the window…were these!
Gorgeous, Jen!! Wowsah!
I decided that I’d use the very same lesson that I did with the Grade Ones. As I delivered my lesson about tempera paint, I could have heard a pin drop. The students were totally engaged and I was pretty grateful. Nice people. So, as I publish the next photos, I was wondering if my readers are able to notice the differences, schematically.
The past two days have been blessing days.
And, this evening…
Nigel left me a note. I’m over the moon about it. I treasured him years ago…and treasure his contact now.
I will always remember you as “Mrs H”. 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?
What a beautiful exchange was had…looking forward to many inspiring conversations about art education with this new arts educator!
I came into the house, after visiting the Nickle Galleries at the University of Calgary, yesterday, and looked deeply at the painting by Joane Cardinal-Schubert that my then-partner and I bought on December 7, 1995 from the Master’s Art Gallery. It wasn’t as though we could ever afford to collect art, but, we were determined to collect art…we were always buying something and we did it in a disciplined way because each month we made an allocation of a specific amount of money toward our art budget. A lot of people at the time, and still today, don’t realize that they can invest in art over time. Ordinary people don’t have access to a budget that covers the entire value of many of the pieces that they grow to love. This is how I was able to be a collector.
After seeing the amazing retrospective, The Writing on the Wall, I couldn’t help but see Joane’s work differently. Appropriate that on December 1st of 2017, I should enjoy all of this and more.
I just went upstairs and snapped a couple of photographs…the first, the painting that greets me each day as I enter my home, Protectors of Dreams.
And next, the book that I purchased as it relates to Joane’s narratives about the various works…and her practice. I’m so looking forward to reading this.
The exhibit was so powerful that it hit me in the gut. I sat down at every opportunity to process the messages of the work and to take it into my spirit. I read every wall plaque and words, as best as I could, on every painting. I’m just going to post the images and spare a great commentary.
Joane fought tirelessly against the building of the Old Man Dam and we reconnected once again in Maycroft, as well as at the Masters Art Gallery, for another exhibit. At that show, she took the time to chat and to sign my poster, collected back in the fundraising days of the Friends of the Old Man meetings.
Joane came to visit with my students in 1980, right before I took them down for their tour of the Glenbow Museum. During those years, I worked very hard developing curriculum for urban Metis and Indigenous students in my care. Our School District was aware that there were huge gaps in content for these students and that generally, many were struggling with attendance and performance on standardized tests. Visits from Elders and people like Joane created a sense of role modeling that my students could not get from me. She showed them slides on a slide projector of her sweat lodge images. All these years later, I will never forget her generous heart and her painful remembrances. Yesterday, I felt my hand in hers. I am forever-grateful for our connection.
Tomorrow, I attend a friend’s funeral service. One piece that really touched my heart was this one, Remembering My Dreambed…I stood before it and thought of my friend’s battle with cancer.
Remembering My Dreambed Joane Cardinal-Schubert 1985 recollections of invasive medical procedures related to cancer treatment.
Below…Homage to Small Boy: Where Were You In July, Hercules? 1985, Joane Cardinal-Schubert. The colour is not near true…the blue is the most amazing ultramarine blue, in this piece.
Letters to Emily Carr…birch bark letters. I loved reading the words…
The Lesson Joane Cardinal-Schubert
Where the Truth is Written – Usually first installed 1991 Joane Cardinal-Schubert
I have not yet included all of my references, but again, Max needs his walk. I need to pull the decorations from out of the basement. The roast needs to get into the slow cooker. I want to end with a bit of music. Last night, a friend and I attended A Tribe Called Red. I want to insert the images here.
Photo Credit: Michael Collett
Photo Credit: Michael Collett
Photo Credit: Michael Collett
It was such a powerful experience. The visuals, the dance and the music combined to speak deeply to the heart. I feel changed.