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.
Go to the messages icon at the top.
In the top white band, you will see the New Group option. Click on that.
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.
Click the word, Create, that appears in the bottom right. You have formed your group.
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!
A friend shared a thought last week about writing down some of the events and experiences of living through these times, in the case that her grand children ever wonder about the historical realities of living through a pandemic. Clearly, it was my experience to suspend writing because I felt some sort of oppressive push against everything that is ‘normal’ or natural in my life and so my writing ground to a halt. Well, this morning, I am inspired by Mary to archive some of the ways we are remaining connected through this event.
Each one of us is experiencing a birthday or other important anniversary through this pandemic. For some of us, that means a Zoom meet up…here is one, held for my friend Bee, just last week. Each of us brought a candle and we sang happy birthday together and as his daughter Christina led us through questions, we shared memories of Bill.
Zoom has provided for some wonderful fun through these strange events. For those of us privileged enough to have a phone or a desktop computer or a laptop, this experience has helped us to sustain connections. I add this caveat because I didn’t always have the means to own a VCR or a microwave and I’m pretty sure it took me a long time after it was the norm, to purchase my first desktop computer. It is important through a pandemic to realize that our neighbours are not all able to access the same resources. This is one of the struggles during an epidemic.
Easter Dinner was actually my very first Zoom experience. Grateful to my daughter for always taking the initiative to get us doing something different. She made the invite.
Another family gathering happened. Those who could, showed up and I loved every minute. And yes, even pets show up now and again. Hi, Nellie!
On the anniversary of my brother’s passing, family members from across the country, connected so that we could feel closer. It was a difficult time. To this point, I have not ever initiated a Zoom conference, but I’ve been blessed to be invited to these events.
We raised our glasses!
My father is living in a senior’s community and his social director organized for a trivia contest where Zoom family members would appear on large screen in their gathering area. It was a funny hat event and so my siblings and I showed up for that, of course! Given that Dad’s population is under restrictions, it is a blessing that Stirling Park has kept a social program going, alive and well. I believe that we all need connection at this time. The next few posts will also be about different ways that you might connect with people you love.
I never get tired of remembering the birth of my sister. As a little girl there are only certain details that are real, so a woman, once older, has to sift out the details that would belong to others.
My memory is of the air. It was an April evening. There were shear curtains hanging on my window. The bed lined up along that wall, I turned to face the window. There was still a soft light. I already had three brothers.
I said (spoken or in my head…I don’t remember) “Dear God, if you are giving me a sister, please move the curtain.” The window was closed. I remember being hot. The blankets were tucked around my neck. I fell asleep, looking at those curtains, waiting for them to move and believing that God could do it. Already, I believed in miracles.
I fell asleep.
In the morning, my next recollection was my father touching my shoulder. “Kathy. Kathy. You have a sister.”
The next recollection was of her home coming. I remember the front hallway and a beautiful bassinet where my mother placed her so tenderly. Most wonderful, I remember my mother looking so absolutely beautiful. I remember embracing her.
In 2013, these photographs finally surfaced in a packet of undeveloped negatives. These would be photographs of Valerie, taken in the hospital. In those days, a baby couldn’t go home with a mama until after the mother had demonstrated that she could bathe the baby. It’s amazing to think that these photographs were snapped by someone in the hospital, using colour film, 53 years ago.
Next, one of my favourite photo memories, this time, in black and white film.
Next, one of my favourite family reunion photographs…simply because Val and I are together with our Mom and Dad. Little do people know when snapping a photo or two, just what that image might mean, years down the road. I’m likely more attached to these memories than most….I’m pretty caught up in nostalgia. In these days of isolation and separation from family, these become more important.
And finally…just snapped yesterday…a photo from the very current on-line communication format…my sister, Val, with her beautiful daughter, Eliane. They are both angels.
I love you, Val and Happy Birthday! You’ve always been such an efficient and hard working woman. You have had remarkable strength. You have accomplished so much and raised two amazing children. We’ve spent more years apart then years together, but I want you to know that I could not have been more blessed than having you come into my life on that April night. Mom would be so proud. She, is loving you into your life, still.
One day, when all of this is over, I really really want to go on a road trip with you. I want to go to one amazing concert with you. I want to hang with you again. I love you. And for now, remember, Love Can Build a Bridge.
I just returned from the river and had five minutes alone with Mr…one other lady was walking into the park at that time and took out her phone to capture the magnificence. She had just happened to turn into the park and off of her usual walk, so it was fun, at a distance, to explain to her what was happening when he leapt from the perch and made his way to the ridge. It’s remarkable that this family of eagles follows the same course. While, again, the photos are not exceptionally clear, I was excited to see the male return to the nest where the female was sitting and then to see an egg roll (based on movement) and a shift change. What a stunningly beautiful time at the river.
Wouldn’t you love to live in one of those homes…or on a single floor…or in a single room of one of those homes and see nature every day all day long?
When I arrived at the Bow River this morning, late, Dad was low in the nest bowl, obviously on duty. Mama had all of the ducks and gulls freaking out and from one place to the next, there arose a tremendous cacophony. At one point, unbeknownst to me, she flew directly over my head and then I lost sight of her. As I made my way along the river’s edge, I was able to witness the exchange of duties and Mama settled down to take over for Dad. She’s much younger and not as experienced as he is…and so it delights me to see her intuitively taking part in the work.
Published four years after her death, Emily Dickenson’s poem This is My Letter to the World captures a sense of her chosen personal isolation and her connection with the intimacies of the natural world. This is a time when we need to all explore the realm and the depth of ourselves…soul, body and mind.
Earlier in the day, at the edge of the river and before the weather changed, I was pretty certain, as I have been for days, that there is at least one egg at the nest. Mom is clearly in the nest bowl, her tail raised and resting on her brood patch, while Dad is slightly out of view, but present. None of my photos are crisp, given my inability to zoom extensively, but keep in mind that I make observations of nature and I’m not knowledgeable as a photographer. These are archival in their publication.
I stood alone on an embankment, a shelf just above the dark river water and saw the female eagle at 4:00 last evening. I believe that the incubation for, at least, the first egg has begun. Mother was well down into the bowl and then suddenly lifted up and out and straight toward me, suddenly arching down and piercing a duck. All others flew up wildly out of the water while the powerful raptor circled around. She came around to the evening ice and scooped, out of the water, the limp body of the Common Golden Eye. I was stunned at the enormous beauty and power of the experience.
Before returning to the nest, she flew a wide victory circle, clamping her talons around what remained of her trophy.
I’m of the mind that we can move kindness through the world. This week, I have encountered some beautiful and engaging moments on Instagram, Facebook, Skype and other social media. Congratulations to those of you who are being supportive, loving, generous and healing. While we don’t necessarily have all of the time in the world, there are positive people we can access in order to contribute to our own wellness.
My family drew a line in the sand once prescriptions were picked up. My son and I are following the requests of the World Health Organization and our own Provincial Dr. Deena Hinshaw by remaining at home and keeping social distance. In the meantime, we are finding our ‘new normal’. I have to say that this past week I listened to the media a lot. I’m guessing you did too. I know that the news coming out of Italy makes me very sad because my daughter and I had such a magical time traveling Italy and I find this heart breaking that their community is suffering so much loss.
In the meantime, back at home, I’m getting into gathering research for a project that I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve also connected with a lot of different uses for social media that serve me in healthy ways and offer support for others. At this time, everyone is coming to financial blows. Good for those of you who are enjoying financial stability because your houses are paid for and you have provisions to get you through this. Bless those who are struggling….but then, you’ve all heard the news during this past week.
Here are a few of the amazing connections I’ve been blessed to have in the last week.
Auntie Check-in with all of my nieces and nephews…this will be a weekly thing. I haven’t heard from Ainslie, but every one else checked in. For this, I’m using Facebook group messenger.
E mail group letters are being exchanged in some of my circles, in order to touch base with how friends are doing and what they’re doing.
I’ve always touched base with my father via Skype, although our reception has not been very good as of late and so we are using Facetime for daily check ins.
My Grandson and I are Skyping, although sometimes we have used Facetime. I love joining Steven at his breakfast or lunch table.
I’ve figured out Group Skype and a circle of my friends and I will be meeting every Friday evening at 7:30.
I’m enjoying various poets and their works on Instagram, book reviews and all connections with word.
There are many artist tours going on on Instagram as well, including those conducted by Trepanier Baer and the Glenbow. Seek them out. You won’t be disappointed. I’m really excited about the one offered by vivianeartgallery in Kensington, Calgary.It’s called Staring at my Four Walls! Check it out. And in the meantime, think about your own art and perhaps get around to archiving it.
There are a number of musicians who are connecting with us through various media and live streaming. You can fire off a wee contribution for these mini concerts. I missed Joe Nolan’s the other night, but I DID attend Ruth Purves Smith and her Swalwell event. She is reading dramatically from the classics in an intimate setting. Of course, she ended up playing us a tune. ‘We just keep on dancin’. There ain’t no other way.’
Contribution to her Pandemic Kitty can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org
This was a wonderful gathering with Ruth at the center. She shared a real time experience. You don’t have to dress up for these events…wear your pajamas! Ruth showed us her latest kitty rescue, a photograph of her mama and a portrait of her Dad. She showed us notations that her mother made along the margins of her Poe book. She drew the Northern Flicker card and thought of our communal well being. It was lovely and minimized a huge anxiety that had come over me last evening.
There are wonderful things happening all over the world. You are not alone, dear readers. I will make every effort to continue sharing some of what is available to you through the coming days.
Teachers, I am, of course, thinking of all of you over these difficult times. I know that you are all experimenting with various programs like Zoom and Google Group in order to open up remote learning for your students. You are shaving down content to meet the new guidelines coming out by Alberta Learning. You are caring for your own children at home while doing this. I am thinking of you all.
Just recently, I’ve been publicly shamed on social media for asking for photo credit and explaining my distaste for the blast of photographs being published on line of members of the public, hoarding or standing in long lines in store environments. Just my opinion, but these photographs fall into the same category as Wal-Mart shopper photos, babies having temper tantrum photos and Fat Lady photos. I just don’t get what the purpose is? Oh…I received the explanation that publishing the photo of a profiteer who was bragging about the resale potential of a cart load of thermometers had shifted the behaviour of the big box stores and convinced them to limit sales. (all myth and absolutely no idea WHO the person was and what the product was and what the motivation was) Bull Winkle Twinkle Fairy Dust! Are you kidding? Social media photographs do not convince companies such as Home Depot to change their policies? And as a follow-up, it’s interesting that Reddit has deleted the photograph, while the legacy of hateful comments remain spouting off about Capitalism and such. Haters need to hate.
I digress. Because I spoke out about the negativity of such content being shared over and over again in formats such as Reddit and Facebook, I was labeled a lunatic who takes pictures of baby deer and eagles and was reminded that I am dumber than door nails. Too bad. I look at the fact that this person didn’t read or take in my concerns or my views on this subject. He only saw his own perspective and then BLACK OUT….the thread disappeared and the big BLOCK happened. Wow! UH OH!!! I’m telling my readers, we are living in very troubled times. Kindness is required.
And…back to the ‘baby deer and eagle photos’. It is my choice to try to retain a positive expression of social media. If I get so rattled, in real time, about something political or what I view to be a social injustice, I might post, but you will notice those discussions/threads disappear off of my social media within days. I think that what the world needs at the best and the worst of times is positivity, enlightenment and gratitude. If readers/posters want to be miserable all of the time, it’s their prerogative. There is room in the world for all of us. Just don’t block me, shut me down, silence me when I wish to share an opinion along the way.
On the subject of this post…another big UH OH! Some of you have followed Tales from the Vent over the past seven years. At my kitchen sink and window, I find myself in close proximity to my neighbour’s vent. Over the years, this has typically provided a nesting site for House Sparrows, but the past few years, there have been nest wars between Northern Flickers and House Sparrows. Well, look here, what was spotted this morning at the vent. OH NO! Pigeon poop potential! It’s going to be interesting to see what happens this season. I’ll keep you up to date!
It’s a very other-worldly feeling to be journeying life through a pandemic. In the grocery stores, yesterday, I felt to be plunked into the opening scenes of a Sci-Fi movie. Sometimes a person just has to find a way to ground themselves when all else; health, economy, events and travel are floundering. I almost feel that this is a guilty pleasure in these times…writing about children and painting. But in doing this, I feel like a rope has been tied around my ankles…someone is tugging…and I am easing my way, like an overfilled balloon… coming to rest on the ground. This is what I do.
This year, my friend, Claudia, inspired me by the painting she did with her students. My practice, as a guest teacher, is to promote painting with children. It can be so messy…there is the preparation and there is the clean-up…but Claudia doesn’t shy away from any of that. She is a remarkably inspiring Div 1 teacher. Thank you, Claudia!
After seeing the results of Claudia’s art lesson, I went out into a Div 1 classroom and painted the very next week.
And following that, Gillian also painted with little ones. Gillian has had a long and accomplished career as an educator and she is also not one to shy away from paint.
I wanted to post all of these resulting paintings at the same time in order to illustrate the variety that can be achieved with paint….same concept…same lesson…but, each and every painting is unique and each of the three sets of paintings is using a different palette of green. If you look about the hallways of elementary schools, if you see that there is a sameness about the works that children create, there is the possibility that their outcomes have been engineered to be close-ended; it also means that the means to get there may have been closed. (the trouble with most Pinterest activities) Try letting go, just a little, at first. The resulting projects may not be as predictable, but this is what creativity and visual art should excite in children.
Children are magical. May they be safe and may their teacher’s be safe through these trying times. Happy March! Happy GREEN!
Claudia’s Palette. (I didn’t include images of students painting because their little faces were in the photos.)
This morning at Mass, Father Krzysztof spoke of those moments of grace when a person experiences a flash of insight where revelation arises. He talked about the importance of taking pause and giving time to reflect upon these insights in order that these not disappear into memory, but rather, so that they might impact the present moment, our actions or possibly even the course of our lives.
He began with the story of a night when the stars fell. Over 200,000 meteors blazed through the night and into the morning of November 12, 1833, astounding people of the entire world. Can you imagine how such a sight such as this might take your breath away? I know that almost every day, I feel that I’m watching 200,000 meteors flying across a dark sky. In fact, I feel this way every time I am with my grandson.
In the telling of this story, I reflected a little on the circle I walk each day at the river and how by taking pause, I come to an experience of peaceful revelation and renewal.
I also remembered my student’s magic journals, written over the years. Based on the journals written by protagonist, Douglas Spaulding, of Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, I asked my students to write down their daily revelations in a ‘magic journal’. Some of the students strongly disliked these. And, a lot of the time, their parents disliked them more.
But, as I pondered these matters today at Mass, I have no regrets for my efforts with these students. This is a practice of ‘noticing’ that I deeply treasure. If the students approached this journal with a lack of sincerity and if my efforts were not appreciated by parents, it matters not…to this day, I am grateful that I followed through with this exercise. This is insight that we can all benefit from.