Good Grief

It’s July 27 and I find grief gripping me, a little more today than yesterday.  I feel it in my chest…my heart?…my head…I experience it in the hours that tick by.  It is that thing that creeps in to every conversation, but not.  Since losing John, it’s hard, I guess, for people to ask me how I’m doing.  Nigel does through text, quite regularly, and so, I can answer him.  He is one of my earthly angels.  I speak to Linda.  She is like a sister to me.  I talk to my three children, a little.

Mom was born on July 27, 1934, in Summerside, Prince Edward Island.  She died on May 31, 2013 in Picton, Ontario, having struggled with Alzheimer’s Disease for the last years of her life.    Approaching her birthday, I found that I was spending time trying to remember her voice and her laugh.  She is never far from me.  Things that my family members do or say remind me of her.  Over the telephone, my sister reminded me of some of the things Mom would say and I remembered, relieved.  When I put down the phone, I sobbed.  I was so grateful to remember.  They were happy tears.

Grief is something that ebbs over the years, but it is never very far away.  It is important for each person to find their way and to never stand in judgement of another’s grief.  Loss does weird things.

My grandson has a lot to do with healing…his exploration…his words…his openness to everything and the world, help me to see with new eyes.  Laughter and fun are integrated into my walk.

Nature is a part of my wellness.  Walking is a part of my wellness.  As I document images of the magic I encounter in nature, I am left with an imprint of positivity and beauty in the world.  I am walking this journey and taking steps forward.

For me, painting is a part of the walk…whether that is the ‘not’ painting or painting.  Music is a part of the walk.  Last night my sister-friend treated me to a ticket to see Sheila E at the folk festival.  Everything about the day was helpful and healing.

The energy, the sunlight and heat, and the presence of others were all components of a healing day.  I am constantly in the process of loving those family, friends and students who have moved out of my physical circle and have moved on to the next part of their journey in the spiritual expression of their souls.  My heart is large enough to always be close to them, but oh my, sometimes I really miss their embrace and presence.

May God be always at my side.

Mom, I am thinking of you today.

Sunday in Parkland Community

My friend, Pat, invited me for a beautiful Sunday afternoon experience in the Parkland Community.  I have always really enjoyed hearing Pat’s pride in her community and I do see it as an exemplar of what community can be, while living in the suburbs of Calgary.  This community has got it ‘going on’ and with the leadership of a few very motivated community members (there are a few in every community) and the hard work, commitment and creativity of a strong membership, Parkland has much to be proud of.

The gates were opened up last Sunday and in the afternoon a gathering of people, carrying their lawn chairs and snacks, arrived at two in the afternoon for two amazing sets of blues music offered by entertaining storyteller, Tim Williams. This weekend, Sunday, will find the attendees enjoying the music of Houston’s Hogan and Moss.

After the relaxing time in the sunshine, Pat and I crossed the road to see the community gardens and the wonderful public art; murals, mosaic and ironwork.  Even the siding and landscaping demonstrates the thoughtful investment of the Parkland community. Fantastic stuff.  Gratitude to Pat for inviting me into the glory of summer!

New siding, textures and colour for the building.

Vintage signage has been installed, with thoughts of creating a protective covering, so that it will remain an archive of earlier times and the establishment of the original building of the Community Center.

The creation of storage included the narrative of the sorts of programs and offerings come with the membership in this community, including the book club that I so desperately would like to join.  (no members outside of the community…dang!)

Friend, Michelena Bamford of Wolf Willow Studio, coordinated and created beautiful mosaic work, along with community members.  I love that she included elements of the landscape and wildlife that thrives in our deep south.  The book club members contributed by learning how to create mosaic, but also broke up the pieces of glass for others to use.  Love this Magpie!  It’s a favourite piece!

Animal tracks represent the wildlife typically encountered in our home along the river.

One of the original pieces of art that was created for the community some years ago.  I love the nostalgia that this piece captures.

And then there are the gardens…beautiful and carefully planned and maintained!

Not only is this a magical garden, but I enjoyed a magical day in Parkland Community!

Fly Me to the Moon

This week has been filled with the magic of flight, whether that is metaphoric or quite literal.  This is the time of the season when every variety of wee bird or raptor seems to be in flight training and this year’s observations are even more magical because this is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 space mission and the successful landing on the moon.

Here, a wee Northern Flicker, sound asleep OR knocked out on a paved pathway near the edge of the Bow River.  I thought he may have come to a sad ending, having likely fledged from a nearby tree, but, at my prompting, he stirred, panicked and disappeared into the wild flowers, a place that increased his possibilities, I’m sure.

Every new life is extremely vulnerable right now in the river environment and the adults of every species are doing phenomenal things, given the brutal thunder storms, hail and huge winds.  Finally, these past two days, we have had a reprieve from awful weather.

I was just 14 years old and living with my air force family on CFB Hornell Heights perched on a hill above North Bay, Ontario when the space program was initiating such wild adventures into the unknown.  That summer I would have just finished up my grade eight year with Mrs. Penner at Paul Davoud School and would be beginning grade nine at Widdifield in the city, the following autumn.  Mom would have already sewn me summer pop tops and jam jam shorts.  I was excited for time at the base swimming pool and my little sister would have been two years old.  We had a black and white television set and I would have been snipping out important news stories from the North Bay Nugget and pasting them into my scrap book. (some of them are featured below)

In my record box, (bright green floral vinyl), I had my single-play records including Revolution and I Want to Hold Your Hand by the Beatles.  It was the first summer that I would, under my brother’s chaperone, be allowed to attend Teen Town dances.

My entire family was excited about the Apollo Space Mission.

We watched the moon landing, together, on the television.  I remember the images.  I remember looking up at the moon that night, the silhouette of the huge lilac bush outside my window, and being afraid for those men, so far from home.  It was truly unbelievable.

Well, this past weekend, we shared in the memory of that experience, now 50 years ago.  On July 20, I read poetry and watched the second eaglet fledge.  For me, the day was a celebration of flight.

On the evening of July 19, there was a tremendous storm brewing.  I watched, with great amusement as Mr. and Mrs. both fed Jr. #1, the little guy that had fledged three days before.  He’s doing well, having flown across the river, and having practiced moving about to a variety of places.  Over those few days I was captivated by several close visits, as well as a variety of shenanigans across from me on the river. (most amusing being a middle-aged couple manning kayaks, one that capsized and the other that became grounded minutes before a huge deluge…the two, totally unaware of a family of three Bald Eagles feasting within meters of them).  The male Bald Eagle stared at the adult male with a look that made me laugh.  I’m posting some of my recent photos, here.

On July 20, 2019, I witnessed the fledge of Jr. #2.  I considered this a huge gift on such a special anniversary.

July 16, 2019 (a visit to the river with summer guests, Angela and Preston)

July 17, 2019 (Mom and Dad spent lots of time the first two days prompting Jr. #1 to get up higher.  The fledgling seems to ball, especially on Day 1 and the adults patiently convince him/her that they can be relied upon for food, for guidance and for presence.)

July 18, 2019

Meals on the run…sharing treats with Jr….I’m just so surprised that Mr. came directly to me.

July 19, 2020

Second Fledge and little buddy is the one located in the vertical tree. Junior #1 doesn’t like that the attention has moved away from him.

July 21, 2019

Three visits to the river.  On the second, I didn’t have my camera, but I did have the company of Deb Sharpe.  Together we watched the siblings reunited on the tree root across from us.  Jr. #1 had remained there throughout the night.  Mr. and Mrs. shared the big tree on my side of the river to watch the pair of youngsters.  It was just so beautiful.  The icing on the cake is that one of the adults soared with the Year-old Juvenile that made a visit as well, chasing him, first, out of the territory.

On my evening stroll, I listened to a bag piper sending out his beautiful songs to the river…

Other species have been evident and beautiful…and new songs have been sung.  I’ve watched, but not documented American Goldfinch and have really enjoyed the Grey Catbirds, Cedar Waxwings and Eastern Kingbirds.  I’ve also really had fun speaking with different people who enjoy my love for the river.

It is a remarkable thing that human beings have traveled into the far reaches of space through manned missions as well as through the use of technology that brings images and science back to us from Mars.  It is for us to celebrate the abilities of humanity to accomplish wondrous achievements such as this.  However, it is equally as important to recognize the charm and amazing intuitive lessons that are given by other species.  It is essential that we connect with this wonder so that we become better stewards of the magic.

I’m wrapping up this post with a song that my mother used to sing to me…among others…but, this one is a good one for this celebration.

 

In Search of Buffalo

It was when Steven’s Great Grampa and Auntie Val made a trip out to Calgary to say good-bye to his Uncle John that our family gathered at Fish Creek on a very rainy day, to take family photographs.  This is something that daughter, Erin, really wanted for her birthday.  It was important to her.  I think that most of us whined about it, but in the end, it was really very fun!  Many laughs as we shivered and got wet, taking our turns hiding in the entrance to the visitor center, closed at this particular time.  We did press our noses against the glass, however, and it was then that Steven spotted the buffalo!

There is only one thing that delights Steven almost as much as trucks and emergency vehicles and that is buffalo!!

So, this morning, Nanny, Steven and I headed to the same location in the hopes of finding the buffalo and we saw him…and so much more!  A beautiful morning…a beautiful place, one of the most wonderful spaces in south Calgary.

No touch!

“Touch, Nanny.”

Campfire!

Tee Pee!

Beaver! Awe!

Touch.

River

In Tee Pee.

Campfire!

Wolf

Berries

Poet Tree Benches

Chickens

Awe.

Wow.

Ice-e-cream

Nature Walk

What? A goldfinch and NO CAMERA!! Lifer with Nanny and Steven

Looking for Trout in the river. “Hold on, Steven!”

Grass!

Splinter…a first.

Back home, in Gramma’s garden.

Another beautiful adventure!

Junior

The first eaglet fledged five days ago.  I made no siting of him yesterday or the day before and no vocalizations, so I was growing worried that he had come to some demise.  Last night, it poured rain…it’s just been that sort of summer.  If I wasn’t going to get out to Ptarmigan Cirque this morning with my guests from Louisiana (Preston and Angela) due to severe thunder storms, then I was going to get them down to the Bow River to hopefully site Mr. and Mrs.

Initially, we spotted Dad on the horizontal branch on the dead tree across the way.   It was pretty obvious it had been a rough night.  I took my guests south on the river to see if Mama was on this side in her favourite hang out.

Along the way, I pointed out the American Pelicans and the spot where the juvenile Northern Flickers had been eagerly waiting to fledge.

No Mrs.  Hmmm….I thought to myself, “Where can she be?”

I talked to Preston and Angela about skat…pointing out the coyote poop and its contents.  By this time, we were soaked to the knees, although the rain had stopped and there was just a sprinkle.  The colour and texture of mammal skat is very much impacted by what they have available for food.  Just yesterday I found some skat that contained a lot of animal content, likely rabbit fur and the dark colouring was reflective of old blood.  To me, this didn’t look so much like the coyote poop I most often observe on my circle.

The skat pictured below contains more berry content and a different texture.  This is what I generally think of as coyote skat.  I’m pretty certain that yesterday’s sampling (if you do a search, this will be confirmed) was Bobcat skat.

(I’m off topic, right?)  It my readers are out in nature a lot, it is important to be able to recognize or identify these clues so that  you are somewhat aware of what animals you are sharing space with at the time.  This can contribute to your safety in certain situations.  But moving on.

By the time we had done our circle and returned to the edge of the river, Mrs. was perched a short distance from Mr. but in an unusual spot for her…balancing on the top of one of the high branches of a tree across from us.  We watched both of them for some time and I was feeling very grateful that at the very least Preston was able to see the two adults that I blither on about constantly on social media.

The adults consistently stared downward and so Preston and I talked about what might have happened to the fledgling.  Given the silence, I believed that the youngster was at the very least injured, and at the worst, gone.  I got a big hug from Preston as we silently acknowledged that the first fledge had come to some sort of end and the adults were doing some grieving.   I took the lead as we carried on north along the very edge of the water.

As we came out of the tall grass and made our way onto the bike path, going south, I noticed through the trees that Mom was no longer there.  I shouted to the other two that I was going to walk ahead and go down to her roosting tree on our side to see if i could get them a better look.  As I came through the clearing and faced the water, my mouth must have fallen open as I saw the juvenile, with much grace and strength, fly directly for me….I shouted out, “He’s coming right into my arms!” And he alighted into a tree branch just above my head.

I was exuberant! (understatement)  Quickly, I readied my camera and started snapping.  Then, hurriedly, I surmised that he must have followed Mama and I shared that I was heading south on the river to see if I might see her in her favourite tree.  Dad remained aloof on the horizontal branch right across from us.

Before launching off, I quickly said to Preston, “I’m still not convinced that this is fledge #1…I will check the nest for Junior #2 once I’ve located Mom.

I rushed ahead and Preston and Angela followed, but when I got to the tree, no Mama.  From where I stood, Angela and Preston said, “Look.  Is that Mrs?”  I did a pivot and there in the tree neighbouring Junior, Mom sat and surveyed all.  Back we went.

At this point and after confirming that, indeed, Junior #2 was still  disgruntled and sitting on the nest across from us, in my private thoughts, I was thinking how grateful I was that we had such a private showing of these two raptors and that indeed, Junior #1 was safe.  I was also thinking how happy I was that we weren’t at Ptarmigan Cirque.

I was snapping photographs of the two when things became even more dramatic and Dad headed for his family.  Alighting shoulder to shoulder with the female, she became unbalanced and was knocked off, leaving Dad in her place.  She headed north over the water, a tad annoyed. (But that is me personifying the situation…AGAIN.)  The following photographs were taken by Preston or Angela.

Preston and Angela, with their phones at the ready, documented this bit of drama as I was just gawking at the goings-on, very much in disbelief.  What a wonderful experience.

After watching Dad track a fishing Osprey within his territory for some time, and after sharing our happiness with the experience, we headed home feeling pretty satisfied with our morning in nature.

At home, I whipped up some sausages, eggs and brown beans and toast and we shared in another coffee.  I’m so grateful that Junior is doing so well…thriving on the river.  I hope that they will make their way back to the island where their environment is less-traveled by human beings.  Some days I just feel that creation was made for my pleasure.  This was one of those days.

The great thing about having some one with you when you witness such as this, is that you can share in the joy.  I’m glad you were with me, Angela and Preston!  Oh!  And, Max!

 

First Fledge: A Photo Journal July 12, 2019

Adult eagle is supporting the fledgling.

From my distance, it looks as though the youngster is bound up in the branches.

I am in awe of the adult who is listening to the vocalizations of the youngster, all the while, trying to problem solve.

At this point, I am wondering if the adult has tried to feed the youngster.

Junior is so upset and the adult just patiently stands by.

This is not a place where the adults have ever set down…balance? how?

The adult swoops down low and flies over the river, setting down just across from me for drinks and a quick bath. At this point, this is looking like Dad. I’m assuming Ma is over addressing any needs with Jr. still at the nest

Dad goes back to a location near enough Jr. that he can keep an eye…and a place where he can have some comfort.

He watches.

At this point I’m noticing that Jr. has enough wiggle room…something that worried me originally.

Wondering what the night will hold, but so excited for flight and for small things, growing brave.

Pancakes….AGAIN!

That’s it. Tomorrow we’re having a break. I’m staying home for the entire day and painting. I’ve already let everyone know. I’ll put on the coffee pot early in the morning and nest.

Today we headed for St. Mary’s University. We met up with friends, Pat and Janet, as well as son James and his friend. YAHOO!

The meal was delicious, but the absolutely best thing about this stop were the firemen and their trucks…fire, hazmat and river rescue. The guys were so wonderful with Steven and Steven had NO FEAR of them. Up he jumped into every section possible and asked, in conclusion, “In? AGAIN?”

We arrived sharply at nine and so we were able to participate in children’s activities…bubble making and chalk drawing. For others, there was face painting and photo booth with Elsa. The princesses in the crowd were loving that! There was live music and line dancing, but not everyone wished to try that out. Thank you, St. Mary’s University for your hospitality and generous event.

The morning held the promise of a beautiful blue day…a walk in the garden before everything began!

Balloon Excitement

Picture taken prior to spilling the bubbles out of that container.

Watching line dancers, with curiosity.

I promised Pat not to publish her photograph…but, there she is holding her cup of coffee to the right of Janet and I. YAHOO!!

Breakfast

Distracted from his brief moment of chalk drawing.

Over the moon…see the yellow fire man hat across from him? He made the sound of a fire truck the entire time!

Bumping into former student, Megan and her three beautiful children was a bonus! Love you, Meg!

Breakfast for Boobies at South Centre Mall

Amazing!!  How they pulled this pancake breakfast off, with the numbers who attended, I will never know!  I feel so proud of Calgary and the Stampede and everyone who pulls together to make these events happen.  Given the line up for the actually pink pancakes, I didn’t really cover the show, the children’s events or the various ‘pink’ inspired activities, but I took in the crowd and loved just how much my grandson can adapt and invent and create his own amusements in so many situations.  It was a fun morning and I’ve tried to capture this in photographs.

Bless all of those who are suffering cancer…breast cancer and any other…bless their families and friends who are in the overwhelming situation of watching their loved ones negotiate the decisions and the medical/emotional and physical war of fighting cancer.  I love you and have profound respect for your journey.  You have my respect.

Stetson’s Band

Nanny did the cue yesterday…Gramma’s turn today.

Food and entertainment…today, avocado slathered on pancake.  YUM!

Keeping good company, except for Gramma got into a wee confrontation with someone in line…a story to be told at a later date.

A lot of engaged participants.

Cowpokes

Then, the real fun began!  Trucks!

Tank! Tank!

Then, Steven sought out employment!

We couldn’t leave the area without visiting Fish Creek Library!

This other kid…a bit of a pain.

Cement Truck and Digger

Walking a fine line all over second floor Fish Creek Library.

Pancakes! HEEE HAW!!!

An awesome job, Stampede Caravan!

Douglas Square Breakfast

Free pancakes, live entertainment, pony rides and more for adults and kids.

When: 9 to 11 am
Where: Douglas Square — 11540 24th Street SE
Price: Free

This event was so much fun!  YAHOO!  A great one for children!  Lots of activities going on, including pony rides, Butterfield Acres petting zoo, rope making, sheep roping, the walk through of the Marine and Navy bus and so much more.  We were entertained by live music, marching band and Indigenous dancers including explanations for the grand entry, male fancy, female jingle and female fancy.  Excellent times and a great breakfast.  I didn’t get a snap of our food plates today because my eyes were on Steven who had his mouth dropping open most of the time, for all of the excitement.  Such an excellent morning!

No touch piggy.

Sitting in the driver’s seat…Marine and Navy recruitment bus.

Watching the big screen…navy ice breaker!

 

What a great morning.  The food, again, was excellent, this time including those lovely circular shaped sausages, juice boxes and yummy pancakes.  Scrambled eggs were also served.

Departing the site, Steven spotted a forklift, so we spent some time also perusing that. Great times with the Grandson!

YAHOO!! Pancakes!!

Two down…more to come!

The festivities in Cow Town include pancake breakfasts, absolutely everywhere.  I’d like to thank the many businesses and the Calgary Stampede Wagon Train for the fabulous and generous contribution of such lovely events across our city.  While it is not very often that I find my way down to the grounds, I DO so enjoy the spirit that is demonstrated to even the far reaches of our city at Stampede time.  All three of my children participated in very dedicated fashion to the marching band in their young adult years.  Now that I am not chasing them around to all of their performances, pancakes is the way I really remain connected to Stampede.  Follow me over the coming days, IF YOU CAN!

So far, Auburn Bay Co-Op was a breakfast of champions shared with my friend, Hollee, from Sherwood Park, Alberta.  Activities for children included face-painting, balloon sculpture and rope making.  The breakfast was so very delicious and for the long winding line up, there were complimentary cheese sticks, bananas and visits with Harvey the Hound.  I loved the conversations, the tail wagging of dogs and the enthusiasm of the live band that played after we were seated.  A great time was had by all.

Today’s pancake breakfast was hosted by South Calgary Funeral Centre and Crematorium on Macleod Trail.  Yes, I know.  Initially it seemed a little odd to me, also.  But, let’s face it, there IS a lot of stigma around death and dying.  I have learned the last ten years just how deeply and sadly, death of loved ones can impact every moment of every day, likely for the rest of your life.  However, I’ve also learned that death is a part of life and the folks that work at these funeral ‘homes’ have a tough job and they have, in my experience, chosen to do it well.

(By the way, folks, once and awhile, please speak my brother’s name.  Please mention him.  Remember him.  And please, ask how I’m doing.)

So, off we went for pancakes at the Funeral Home!!  What???  Blueberries and Whipped Cream?  You’re kidding!  Nummers!  And, delicious orange juice!  John Wayne oldies playing on a the big screen all the while.  Grandson, Steven, was in his glory and consumed a full adult portion!  After that, a walk around a florist fridge and back alley building equipment!

I highly recommend getting out in your city this week!  There is a lot going on and most of it involves food!

HEEE HAW!