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.

Two Good Books

Two books that I highly recommend for their strong writing and amazing narratives are Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and the memoir, Educated by Tara Westover.

I think I was very late to the ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ party.  I had heard the title kicking about for quite some time.  This pandemic has provided an opportunity to read, probably, a little bit more than I usually would, sometimes staying up turning pages way later than is really acceptable, given that I babysit an almost-three-year-old most days.

Coming to books with my own insatiable appetite for the outdoors and for wildlife, particularly birds, this book filled me to the brim.  And while I appear to be quite an extrovert to most, I feel inwardly uncomfortable being in groups of people and feel awkward in the world of conversation.  As a result, this book by Delia Owens, retired wildlife biologist, is strongly appealing to me.

We see this part of the world, intimately, through the eyes of Kya.

By description, the protagonist has a most amazing collection displayed inside her primitive cabin, located in a remote marshland in North Carolina.  More than anything, I wish that I could feast my eyes on this.  Surely it was an image that I carried in my imagination throughout the reading.  I loved the idea of leaving feathers tucked away in secret places, treasured gifts from a special visitor. I think I know how Kya felt as I feel the same way when I discover a feather nestled in the tall grasses by the edge of the Bow River.

The story, suspense, character relationships read as believable and there are no moments of disappointment, at least not for this reader.  I was completely absorbed by this book and the hidden world of life on the water and in this magical place.  The fact that the protagonist becomes a writer causes me to look at some of the books on my book shelf differently.  This is one.

I highly recommend the book, Where the Crawdads Sing for its rich description and charming story.

Next, the memoir Educated by Tara Westover is a powerful true-life reflection.  This is another page-turner that totally engrossed me in a circumstance that is foreign and in so many ways, unbelievable.

Taken directly from the New Yorker review written by Alexandra Schwartz….this.

Westover was born sometime in September, 1986—no birth certificate was issued—on a remote mountain in Idaho, the seventh child of Mormon survivalist parents who subscribed to a paranoid patchwork of beliefs well outside the mandates of their religion. The government was always about to invade; the End of Days was always at hand. Westover’s mother worked as a midwife and an herbal healer. Her father, who claimed prophetic powers, owned a scrap yard, where his children labored without the benefit of protective equipment. (Westover recounts accidents so hideous, and so frequent, that it’s a wonder she lived to tell her tale at all.) Mainstream medicine was mistrusted, as were schools, which meant that Westover’s determination to leave home and get a formal education—the choice that drives her book, and changed her life—amounted to a rebellion against her parents’ world.

What I took from this novel was an astounding resilience and huge lessons about “education”.  We encounter the brilliant truths about the stories we are told in our childhood and subsequently, the truths we tell ourselves.  It is then a very complex process to integrate these truths with the lives that we live, the knowledge we attain and environmental impacts that come our way.  Tara makes a stunning effort to communicate what this journey entails.  This is such a powerful memoir.  Please do read it.

 

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.

Babysitting in Covid Times

As I sit down to the laptop to write about Covid-19 days, I think a lot about the true life figures/people on our family trees who saw and lived through times just like these, but many years ago. They watched people close to them die, and struggled with physical symptoms. They dealt with the trauma of loss and experienced the dislocation brought on by illness. One of the real-life figures on my own family tree who succumbed to the Spanish Flu was my Great Uncle, my Grampa’s Uncle John ‘Jack’ Haddow. A wrangler, working on Forster’s ranch outside of the town of Drumheller, he saw countless inhabitants of the region succumb.

I ended up on a two-hour-long search of old Calgary Herald newspapers at this point and came upon some mentions of Great Uncle Jack and so never did return to this post until 6:30 next morning. I’ll try to get back on track, but it’s amazing to note that the item about the Country Dance of Berry Creek was published in October of 1906 and the marriage announcement appeared on April 17, 1916. Five years later, Jack would be dead as the result of influenza, this one, known as the Spanish Flu.

As I write, I also think about our indigenous peoples, the world over, who suffered trauma at the impact of disease through trade and colonization. This is not the first time the world has seen these life events unfold. All the conspiracy theorists aside and all of my readers who deny the seriousness of these events, I feel differently, and I will remember this as a global pandemic that caused the death and illness of many the world over. It is like living in a science fiction movie. Each person has to find their way through these events in a way that works for them, with respect for the medical people who are making educated assessments along the way. We must never take people who are working in the front lines for granted.

And now…for the subject of this post. Through history, whether it be in the days of the Spanish Flu or in the families of our indigenous peoples, disease has had an impact on children. I am exploring this because adults have a way of processing what is going on, but what are the children feeling through all of this?

When it came down to our family’s journey, my grandson, Steven, very swiftly found himself without his daycare friends and teachers and couldn’t attend Wee Wild Ones SE. His parents, similarly, found themselves with changing work situations. Mommy, immediately, had no choice but to stay home. My grandson is almost three. When this all began, we were reeling and I stepped in to help at the very outset, but really had no intention of spending a pandemic as a child care provider. My son-in-law was still working out in the world, as a part of essential services, and so, at a point, when restrictions were becoming more clear and as we discovered that the severity of the illness seemed to be hitting seniors more than anyone, I became scared for my own health. I stopped providing babysitting and that was a very difficult decision.

I geared up for a number of different projects including the writing of a historical fiction, creating a paper barn owl and painting in the studio.

When I left my two week stint, babysitting, I agreed that I could return on the condition that my son-in-law was able to pull himself out of the ‘real-world’ workforce and remain home for fourteen days. Dr. Deena Hinshaw had already introduced the idea of adopting a cohort family for children to have at-home playmates, and so I applied the same concept to child care.

There are so many grandmas who wanted to do the same for their grandchildren, but who were keeping themselves isolated from their families, that I felt guilty at times or felt as though I was doing something wrong. I also experienced a lot of push back from some individuals as a result of my decision. But, as mentioned before, I made a decision that I felt would be okay for me and as long as everyone in our circle could respect that parameters of our cohort unit, I would do alright to take Steven under my wing.

Long-story-short, I have been babysitting Steven ever since. Is it easy? Nope. There are lots of days when my back and knees are sore. There are days I’d like to sleep a little longer and get home a little earlier. My border collie, Max, who is also aging is spending a lot of time alone. So, there are those things. But, I have to look at this time as being really very special, as well, and I work, daily, at creating magic for Steven as we have one another exclusively for all of this time.

I try to be child-like most of the time because Steven and all of his little peers are missing the natural socialization that comes with Library programs, swimming lessons, play groups and day care. Acting three years old all day can really create exhaustion and I find that when I get home, I’m mostly unproductive. Just recently, I’ve surrendered to the need to be an adult some of the time and I’ve given myself the time to ‘take breaks’ from play and exploration. I’ve done it so well that now Steven will sometimes be found sitting on the rocking chair. I’ll turn to him and ask, “What are you doing?” and he will reply, “I’m taking a break.”

I’m pouring over the photographs I’ve snapped through these months and it’s really difficult to narrow down and post just a few that represent what we’ve done together. We read a lot. We play outdoors A LOT. I’m trying to teach Steven as much as I can about the places that I love. I’m helping him to notice aspects of nature that are important to me. I’ve been leaning on the lessons my Paternal Grandfather taught me about respect for nature and understanding the gifts as well as the dangers that are a part of that respect. He has learned about ice shelves and has been learning to read the river….shallow water looks lighter….fast water can look murky and/or dark….”Let’s throw a stick into the river and see what happens to it. A stone?”

I am putting limits on how long I can sustain this, but I will look back on this time as being a bit of a gift of sorts to our beautiful boy. He is so very important to all of us. To all of my readers who have made other choices out of concerns for the safety of your circle, you are giving a tremendous sacrifice, as are those who have decided to take care of your grand babies through these most trying times. I have your backs…all of you.

Gratitude, also to Wee Wild Ones SE who have provided weekly FLOW events/colouring sheets/creative links and recipes for goo and mixtures, music videos and zoom meet ups…while we can’t do all of it, we are glad for the connection and send our love to all of the hard workers! I have continued respect and love for you!

Thank you to Miss Carlie for your wonderful music classes!

IMG_20200422_092517

Yoga with Ms. Chloe sometimes gleaned amazing participation and sometimes just brought the sillies out. And Steven loved seeing his little friends on Zoom calls, but Gramma mostly missed the appointments for her outside wanderings with her little boy. When the weather is nice in Calgary, a person just has to take advantage!

IMG_20200427_110405

Steven has been learning a lot about balance and loves to practice on logs.

Steven has been learning a lot about predators and prey. He has been learning that animals are food for one another out in nature. Here, he is pretending to be a sneaky coyote. He has observed only one coyote at the river, but knows from Gramma that there are more and that when they have their pups, they are super cranky. He’s learned to shout SHOO and to wave his arms.

He is allowed to take as many breaks as he wants. He knows that Gramma will not lift him because he’s a toddler now and can toddle. I’m happy to explore places when he takes his breaks, with my eyes, nose and ears. I tell him to let me know when he’s ready. On this day we were looking for an owls nest on the west side of the river and into Fish Creek Park.

Throwing sand at the sand beach.

North Glenmore Park and picking up plants at Wendy’s home in Lakeview.


Two Little Dickie Birds

Watching Decorah Live Eagle Cam during afternoon snack time, especially fun on wintry or bad-weather days.

Love Your Family in Covid Times

A blessing that has come to me during these strange times is a weekly check-in with my siblings and Dad on Sunday, after I attend my ‘virtual’ Mass with Bishop McGratton.  10:00 am Comox Time, 11:00 Calgary Time, 1:00 Ottawa Time.  These conversations are always so pleasant and I feel so grateful.  While these are not ‘real time’ connections, they are more than we’ve chosen to do over the past many years, through our years of separation from one another.

Today was really fun, mostly because my brother Cliff was sorting his tackle box.  Cliff is a charter operator who has, of course, had business grind to a near halt…first because of last year’s catch and release policy, and this year, due to Covid.  It was fun to have him do a show and tell.  This week we also discussed paper barn owls, bamboo gardening, tomato gardening and reminisced about Mom and Dad’s property in Frankford, Ontario.

I love my family.  I miss them terribly.  But, we are making the best of things.  I hope that my readers will make sure to connect with family as much as is possible through these strange times.  Happy Sunday!

Live Stream in Covid Times

Live Streaming is not a new format, but definitely a more frequented format since Covid-19 times! The Internet is spilling over with opportunities to make some human connection through this platform.

In mid March, I found myself without a church community and so my first step into the world of Live Streaming was to connect with, when I could, daily Mass with St. Peter’s parish and weekend Mass with our Bishop McGrattan at the St. Mary’s Cathedral.

I light a wee candle as Mass begins and join in any sung bits and even click little heart icons when I am wanting to participate in public prayer responses.  It is a very strange experience, not to be surrounded by my prayer community, but through Live Streaming, I can remain connected, celebrate the liturgy of the word, take in many inspiring homilies and journey, with support, through these troubling and isolating times.

If a person wants to connect with Live Streaming opportunities, they can be found on most social media platforms.  They could keep you busy all day long, so I have a few favourite ones that I will share here.

Because I come from a creative background, I can not help but feel concerned for the many musicians who rely on income from gigs and live events throughout our city and across the nation.  I often wonder how our local musicians are managing through Covid.  I think it’s a great idea to attend and support at least one musician, artist or other performer through Covid times, if it is possible, without creating a struggle in your own home.

Each evening, at 7:00 Monday through Thursday, I attend I Love Ruthie, a music/book/story telling type event, hosted by Ruth Purves Smith.  This event puts a smile on my face and is conveniently set between dinner and my Skype visit with my father out in Ottawa.  Each evening we meet cats, see plants, hear readings from a book of the day, look out Ruthie’s window to a completely different landscape and answer the question of the day.  An art book of the week is opened to an image each evening…something to think about and ponder.  If you would like to attend, I can connect you with a link.

Ruthie has been self-isolated in a small Alberta hamlet named Stalwell since this all began.

As well, Craig Cardiff is hosting a Live Stream event on all formats: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  He is such a generous person and I encourage you to offer support by connecting with his profile on Spotify.

Craig is living with his family in Ontario.  I attend bits and pieces of Craig’s every night performances.

As well as musicians on Live Stream, a person can find a lot of different Live Stream art events and lessons.  While not technically Live Steam, the Esker Foundation provides beautiful and well presented activities for youth and for wee ones, at home. (Keep an eye out because I will feature a ‘How to In Covid Times’ post. They have a fantastic Watch and Listen section on their website.  Take a look! 

I’m filing these away for ‘after the pandemic’ times because I just don’t seem to have time to take absolutely everything on.  I’ve recently done some curbside purchases at the Inglewood Art Store and I’m motivated to get my own creations rolling out of my home studio.

The Glenbow Museum and Gallery have been doing Live Streaming, as have most other gallery spaces.  The first one that I bumped into was ‘Staring at My Four Walls’ With Viviane Art Gallery.  I loved this series.  From here, I went looking and found artist talks, gallery tours and all sorts of efforts being made by supporters of the visual arts.

Christine Klassen’s Art Gallery hosted an art panel during the exhibit Papyromania featuring work by Heather Close and Rick Ducommun and I thought that was very well done.

Don’t feel intimidated by these sorts of experiences.  I know that some have enjoyed Opera, Concert performances and even cooking experiences through Live Streaming.

If you are a nature buff, there are also a whole number of Live Cams set up at nests or rivers, where you can watch Live Streaming.  One of my favourites is the Decorah Live Eagle Cam.  I hope you will explore some of these events and experiences through Covid times.

 

 

Reading in Covid Times

Oh my goodness! I am not going to write individual reviews for the books that I’ve read during this pandemic (so far), not for Goodreads or for any other reason because generally, I’ve not been pleased with the selection thus far.

I was reading Hope Matters by Lee Maracle, Columpa Bobb and Tania Carter when all of this began.  I know this because our March book discussion was canceled at Fish Creek Library.  This was all new and at that point I think I shrugged my shoulders and thought this would be over before we knew it and that all would go on as usual.  But now, all these weeks later, I realize how blessed I was in our group.  I miss the group very much.

When I began Hope Matters, I was really excited about it, but as I read further in, I struggled and I came up against a lot of walls.  Poetry is a tricky genre for people, generally, and this writing I found difficult to tunnel into.  I think that there needs to be a hook for the reader of poetry.  I am not saying the book is strong or weak.  I’m just saying that something about me would not let the words in.  If you’ve read the book, let me know your thoughts.

The Parcel by Anosh Irani was sitting on my bookshelf.  I purchased it while attending the last Wordfest event, here in Calgary.  This is a powerful and essential read.  It was a solid piece of writing that evoked a great deal of emotion and brought social consciousness to the forefront as I read.  I had heard similar stories before.  I think, also, that movies and Hollywood has given us a picture of what life is like in Bombay.  However, I feel that this author, having his own life rooted in Bombay, gave the reader an authentic experience of the subject.

My heart went out to the protagonist, Madhu.  I entered into her life and felt her exasperation.  While I’m grateful for having read this book, I must warn other readers that this is a dark story and it is very sad.  It pulled me down.  I thought to myself, at the time, “Lady, you need to find something a little lighter for these times.”  As these types of novels typically are, this is a story of redemption.  I recommend…but, with a warning.  This author is talented and honest.  You will like his writing.

I decided to read the next book that was on the list for our Book Discussion in April.  The book was also on the Canada Reads list, From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle.  Bravo to Jesse Thistle who gives us this powerful memoir, a story of human strength and an inspiration to anyone who feels that life has dealt them a very difficult hand.  The writing is good. But, a little voice kept needling me…”Why don’t you tackle some light reading, Kath?”  These books, while eventually reaching the resilience of the human spirit, are so darned sad, for the most part.

From Goodreads, 

In this heartwarming and heartbreaking memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful experiences with abuse, uncovering the truth about his parents, and how he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family through education.

An eloquent exploration of what it means to live in a world surrounded by prejudice and racism and to be cast adrift, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help one find happiness despite the odds.

On my friend, Hollee’s, recommendation, I next read Starlight by Richard Wagamese, published after his death and with the support of his estate.  I loved this book…the protagonist was a wildlife photographer living on a beautiful piece of land.  Here, he intervenes in the protection of Emmy and Winnie.  It is written with such eloquence and heart that I was so totally engaged.  As I was running out of pages, however, I became disarmed because I felt that the ending was not going to be tied up comfortably for me…and it wasn’t.  I highly recommend this book.  It didn’t have the same impact on me as the other books I had read to this point of the pandemic experience, and beginning in March.

It was at this point that I picked up The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood.  Because Atwood was my first born’s favourite author during high school and beyond, at some point I decided that I would read all of Atwood’s writing in order to understand my daughter a little more.  Isn’t it funny that I think that might happen through books?  Erin was my BIG reader in the day.  I couldn’t keep her stocked in L.M. Montgomery books when she was younger.  She read them all.  And I haven’t.

Previously, I read Bluebeard’s Egg, a collection of Atwood short stories and really really enjoyed those!  I also sailed through The Handmaid’s Tale….maybe every one does.  But when it came to The Robber Bride…oh, my!  I crashed into a wall.  This book felt somehow surreal and it amplified my mood surrounding the epidemic that we were learning to endure at the very same time.  In this book, Zenia exercises such power over three different characters; Toni, Charise and Roz, that I felt a huge frustration at their naivety.  I was absorbed by certain sections where Atwood explores the particular motivations of her characters, but as a whole, it was just a really hard read.  After the book, I read various reviews and discovered that the author intended all sorts of connections to be made about the 60s feminist movement and a review of this writing even compares it to the grisly tale of the Brothers Grimm.  I found the book to be too raw in its subject.  It made me squirm. I haven’t decided which of Atwood’s books I will tackle next, but having used three weeks (WHAT??) to read this one, I thought I’d look for something ‘mindless’.  On this one, consider yourselves warned.

I enjoyed Ken Follett’s first trilogy back in the day, so I looked at my collection of Follett books on my shelf and chose one that dealt with the theft of a virus (NO, I’M NOT KIDDING) called Whiteout.  Sheesh!!  This one is one that you will whiz through.  It is mindless.  There’s a bit of a romance.  There is a series of cheesy good guy bad guy stuff happen in a very bad storm.  I really did give this one a try…finished it in three evenings, but it wouldn’t be one I’d recommend.  Goodreads mentions that it has startling twists.  Hmmm….I would beg to differ.

Onward and outward…in search of the five star pandemic novel, I saw plastered all over social media, a book title of interest to me, A Life Without Water by Marci Bolden.  Not only that, but the reviews were over-the-top, positive.

Sorry, guys.  This was a let down.  Another three evening read, A Life Without Water feels like the writing is diluted.  There is flavour, but it’s so weak that it’s disappointing.  While the premise might provide opportunity for a good story, I think that the writing has to really power up.  Amazon says...An unputdownable, heart-breaking, but ultimately uplifting story about the power of forgiveness. 

No. Don’t do it!

Again, Hollee posted something about this book, You Are an Artist by Sarah Urist Green.  I ordered it that day through Amazon and really like this book.  I highly recommend!

I think this book would provide some creative connection for high school students and for adults, spending time at home. It provides unusual approaches to making art in your own spaces and in your own communities.

My readers knew that eventually it would come to this, right?  Of course I’ve picked up my Peterson’s Field Guide to Western Birds identification book!  This morning, for the first time, in my neighbourhood, I saw a Thrush.  This was a very cool experience!  I also received a photograph in my messages from a friend who snapped a photo of a beautiful yellow and orange bird that she saw in Carburn Park yesterday!  I knew what it was!!  Seven years later, I’m very excited about identifying birds.  Get yourself a Bird Identification book!

My sister gifted me the Atlas of Breeding Birds of Alberta…also, highly recommend.

Last night, I opened a page turner.  I’m already heart broken for the protagonist, little six-year old Kya, in the book, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, but the syntax, description and opening up of the story are eloquent.  Thank goodness!  I’m living in hope that I’m now on the right track for the remainder of my pandemic reading.  I’d love you to let me know what books you are picking up through these times.  Leave me a message.  There was a great little CBC program on just after lunch today, asking folks what they’re watching on television…what they’re reading…what they’re listening to.  All good questions.  Again, I’m coming from a place of privilege, that I should have the time and ability to read.  I’m always grateful.

 

 

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!

Messenger in Covid Times

Another way to communicate with your loved ones through these crazy times is through Messenger.  I used to call this Face Time, but then what do I know?  To enjoy a messenger visit, I have to log on to Facebook.

  1. Go to the messages icon at the top.
  2. In the top white band, you will see the New Group option.  Click on that.
  3. You will see a list of friends and to the right of each of their names, a circle.  Click on the name of each person you want to join a particular chat.
  4. Click the word, Create, that appears in the bottom right.  You have formed your group.
  5. When you wish to chat and see this group, instead of clicking on the telephone icon on the top right, click on the wee movie projector.  A large screen will pop up and people will join as they answer their calls.

Sometimes it’s nice to establish, as much as you can, a time that works for all when using any of these methods.  As well as time and day, some within your circle may have to use these technologies throughout their work week, from home, and it may be too much to expect them to use the same technologies in their down time.  Be very amiable to some people opting out when you make the invitation.  It can be really exhausting to always be connecting through technology.  We yearn for real connection, but sometimes we just do the best we can.

I use Messenger as a way of connecting with my siblings and my father on Sunday afternoons.  It has become a short, sweet gathering that I truly enjoy.  We haven’t been the greatest as staying in touch with one another over the years, so this is something very new and I really really love it.  Here are a couple of screen shots from messenger gatherings. We live in Comox, Calgary and Ottawa.

I’ve also used this method for one-on-one chats with my high school friend, Ramona, who lives in Michigan.  With her, I can talk about worries, fears, good books and landscapes…we shared a few sunrises since beginning this connection.

My cousin Margy can always make me laugh.  She can update me about family in southern Alberta.  We can truly relax with one another.

I spend a lot of time alone these days…by making these connections on various systems, I am able to remain close, while far away.  I love you all!