Tribute to a Friend

“Later I will tell him: our courage comes out in different ways. We are brave in our bold dreams but also in our hesitations. We are brave in our willingness to carry on even as our pounding hearts say, “You will fail and land on your face.” Brave in our terrific tolerance for making a hundred mistakes. Day after day. We are brave in our persistence.”
― Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation

My dear friend, Bobbie, lived bravely, passionately and his spirit transcends everything that bound him to the earth…I love you and my life has been incredible because you have been here for me…for us.  No words for now, but I’ve sipped coffee this morning in the quiet of the house, Max at my feet, revisiting our friendship.  These are, in part, moments along the way.  But, we spent most of our friendship looking out at others and beauty.  So, I can not possibly share all of the immensity of that.  Know that you were loved, my beautiful Bob.

ACAD third year…and we gathered to celebrate spring.  I will forever be grateful for meeting you.

After meeting you, you were a part of every celebration.  My children love you.  My friends love you.  And we became family, all of us.

Bob is found written into so many journal pages…a few appear in this post.

I will let Ed know…

Gatwick Airport, before the train.

Oh, the places we have seen!  Angel Glacier, beautiful hikes…so many hikes…walks…galleries…Paris, Giverny, London…Argenta…road trips…books, art, family, friends.

I am blessed for having Liz, Janet, Bronwyn, Peter, Artemis, Cedar…I am blessed for the circle of love.

Road Trip and Angels

I drove out to Folk Tree Lodge this afternoon after my pond exploration with Max.  After a couple of days of rain, the world was brilliant green and blue.  It was the absolutely most perfect day for a drive west toward the mountains.

White puffs of seed playfully made their way to the ground…magic!

Artist, Alvise Doglioni Majer was there to meet me, on his bike, carrying May and June.

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May has as her vegetation, the pussy willow and as her featured animal, mother and baby moose;  June, the dandelion and the bear waking after winter’s rest.  I treasure these angels so much and I enjoy my monthly ride out to see Alvise.  It was nice to compare travel stories about the Lake Superior route and eastern Canada experiences.  It makes me hungry for a big road trip!

 

I was thinking about these angels and today’s news about Tragically Hip’s musician Gord Downie.  Driving home, CBC radio played Courage…and I thought how appropriate that I should be collecting this beautiful series of angels.

Calgary Folk Festival 2015

I’ve just purchased my four day pass for this year’s folk festival and so I thought I had better review my archives on last year’s events because the experience was a little different and very special in a number of ways.  I just didn’t take the opportunity to sit and reflect on any of it.  The program got shoveled into a pile with other papers and I just left the experience to marinate in my heart and my mind.  Folk Festival is a special event for me.

For 2015, initially, I had hoped to travel the Trans Canada Highway for a long visit with Dad in Ontario, but as it turned out, after teaching a long contract up until the end of June, Max-man injured his ACL in one back leg and days later, I broke my foot.  It was a calamity that sent me into a bit of an emotional tail spin because I was so looking forward to a big road trip. (I enjoy the experience of the Canadian landscape while cranking up CBC radio.)

Things weren’t going well.  After two weeks of being confined to one level of the house, Max began to heal and later that first month, with follow-up Orthopedic care, we received the news that he did not require the prescribed surgery.  That was awesome!  As his mobility increased, I met Steve of  Red Rover Pet Care and felt relieved that Steve was someone who would give Max the exercise he needed through my own convalescence and at the same time, be a happy and positive daily force in our lives.

The difficulties of Summer 2015, however, were not over!

Not much time had passed when my upstairs en suite plumbing led to more chaos and money that I had set aside for travel, ended up being poured into renovations.  Crazy! I DO try to find the positive side of events and as it turned out, through the water issues, I met a truly amazing young man, Trevor…such a professional and efficient plumber, on the recommendation of friend, Dino.  Trevor went well beyond the call of duty, given his fix-it knowledge and his kind heart.  Since then, I have learned so many good pointers from Trevor, where general renovations and handling fix-it problems are concerned.

In the midst of all of this, my daughter said, “Mom, if you can’t go on your trip, why don’t you buy Folk Festival tickets?”  I couldn’t imagine it!  Okay…well, I was blessed with a walking cast, but I still couldn’t picture getting around the grounds!  In the end, though, it all worked out.  Every night, I was a little more than tired!  I’m grateful to Erin who really did organize our food and snacks, very generously, so that I was basically just responsible to get myself together.

There were some real surprises at Folk Festival…and there always are!  Let me see if I can pull up some photographs of my favourites.

We have our folk festival rituals, one of them is to pour over our programs and mark our priorities/mapping out preferences.  I love this photograph of Cayley.  It has that Folk Fest feel about it!  Love the rubber boots!  And yes, this was a year that we had to run for it, a couple of times (cover up) and this involved me pulling a plastic bag over my cast.

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Musicians that I took in last year included (in no particular order because too much time has passed): The photographs are all mine…I did the best I could.  It would be nice if you asked to use them before you use them.

Aqua Alta out of Halifax, NS

Alright, so anything labeled as a Dreamscape, is likely not really for me.  A surreal sensibility in music, for me, is tolerable, but not a preferred experience.  I’m posting here, a sampling that is more literal than most pieces.  To be fair, one would have to say that the layers are very interesting.  I like the percussive layer.

Bombino from Niger  A huge ball of energy, life, light and carrying with him, a truly remarkable narrative, Bombino was one of the highlights for me.  I guess, classed as World music, one could not help but get up to this stuff and dance.  I remember feeling truly inspired by the guy.  Much evidence throughout his commentary and his music that he is in the world to create goodness! Highly recommend!  I remember feeling this same way the first time I heard K’Naan.

Sera Cahoone out of Seattle, Washington  Sera has a big voice for a little girl.  Her writing is good.  When I heard her, I was thinking that these twangy ballads will take people time to latch on to.  But, she’s a solid performer!  A lady with a pile of love songs in her heart. A nice voice to have sitting on a workshop stage.

Jennifer Castle; Toronto, Ontario  Jennifer spent a good while singing in a basement tavern in London, England and is said to have been influenced by British folk tradition in her songwriting.  I guess I don’t know enough about that to really get it.  I find her work a bit dissonant.  (she describes her music as being unsettling)

I heard her sing this number and liked it a lot.

Kim Churchill; Australia  Truth: this guy was just plain handsome…my daughters would roll their eyes at that initial remark, especially since today I turn 61.  If I were you and you had a chance to see this guy perform, I would encourage it!  I liked it a lot…and I’d never heard of Kim Churchill before in my life!  If you don’t take a look at any of the videos I post here, look at this one.  He shares some musicality, especially with the strong percussive underlying beat with Xavier Rudd.  Kim Churchill probably hates that comparison being made…but, I felt it so I’m writing it.

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EMBASSYLIGHTS; Calgary, AB/Iceland  I love love loved these guys!  I liked that they were such family-people! Demonstrating a versatile knowledge of instrumentation, I really thought EMBASSYLIGHTS was wonderful.  Indie or magic-light music, this couldn’t keep you going all folk fest long, but a restful respite on an otherwise-busy workshop stage.

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Father John Misty; New Orleans, LA  Supposed BIG NAME and a must-see, I saw, but in the end, felt that Father John Misty was such a darned PERFORMER, that it was all SHOW and not enough about the authenticity of the music.  Do you know what I mean?  Contrary to the content of his biography and despite the interesting things he has done, I didn’t feel it in the gut!

Frazey Ford; Vancouver, BC  I had been listening to Frazey Ford’s radio voice for some months before the Folk Festival.  She was a must-see on my list.  In the end, I don’t know if the sound techs had that stage worked out by the time she performed.  I just felt that her big voice with amazing and surprising nuance was not coming through.  She has such a quality of voice.  I chalk my disappointment up to the venue (main stage) and not to her performance.  I just really like her.

Frazey 2015

Jenn Grant; Halifax, NS  Yes!  Lots of mellow…chill…music.  We noticed that also.  That’s why, in the end, there are some people who really stand out!  Strong writing and truly beautiful, warm music. Not to be poo pooed.

Robyn Hitchcock; England  Here was a stand out for me!  I really enjoyed Robyn…saw him on a workshop stage with Buffy Ste. Marie and then again on Main Stage.  Really liked him. He had stories and a powerful connection with place. Labeled as a surrealist…his work is innovative and a little unexpected for its character.  Confidence, not arrogance, came through in his performances.  He felt seasoned.  That’s important sometimes.  This wasn’t for everyone.  lol

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Kids Koala’s Vinyl Vaudeville; Montreal, QC Pure entertainment!  Kid Koala just had us all in stitches, while also entertaining us with his amazing abilities!  This was surprising and very very entertaining!  Layers of sound, music and effects. Set way in the back of the early morning workshop group, his creativity and innovation came through! Smiles spread over the crowd!

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Lake Street Dive; Boston, MA  Such good music!  These guys are professional!  Listen to this woman’s pipes!  Great stand up base!

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Leftover Cuties; Los Angeles, CA  This was the best workshop stage I attended…a great bunch of people who didn’t mind really jamming.  Sometimes people don’t get that approach and don’t cross into other performer’s genres…this was a wonderful stage and the Leftover Cuties were great sports.

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John Mann; Vancouver, BC  I’m so grateful that I had opportunity to listen to John Mann perform even a few songs on a workshop stage.  It was a privilege.  All these months later, John has performed his farewell concert and of course, it saddens all of his fans.

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Milk Carton Kids; Los Angeles, CA Pure musicality and entertainment.  Wow!  I really am glad that I had the chance to enjoy these two.  They create fantastic harmonies with songs that are well-written!  Their transitions and monologues were uber-entertaining!

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Oh Susanna; Toronto, Ontario  More the twang of a country singer here.  Strong voice.  Again, a very subdued feel to her performance.

Lynn Olagundoye; Calgary, AB  Wow…jazzy…rich…warm.  A very beautiful voice.  It was surprising to me that this was a voice coming out of Calgary!  This workshop stage was so diverse in its styles, there were some struggles where good jamming could happen.  I enjoyed the individuals that came through, however.

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Petunia and The Vipers; Vancouver, BC  These guys also shared my favourite workshop stage.  Much fun! Daughter, Cayley, appears in a music video produced by this group.

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Buffy Sainte-Marie; Hawaii  My sister-in-law, Karen, had joined us on the tarp for some music at the main stage on our final evening.  It just happened to be that a friend of mine was leaving early and had been sitting the whole folk festival, on the golden tarp at the front of the main stage.  She came to talk to me as I waited my turn for the biffy and offered us the tarp.  So…off I went to see one of the most iconic female performers I know of, front stage!  I had also caught her sharing a workshop stage, so this was extra special!  What can I say?  Grateful!

A footnote here, Buffy has the most amazing percussionist ever!  I love the guy!  If you ever have the chance to truly observe Michel Bruyere, take the opportunity!  So beautiful!

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Shakey Graves; Austin, TX  One of my favourite performers was Shakey Graves!  He was passionate about his music, an excellent guitar player and was full of energy throughout his performance!  He was a great surprise.

 

 

Sarah Jane Scouten; Montreal, QC Very folky sounding.  I’ve got to say, this year, the selection was built for a folk festival.  I love well-written ballads performed sweetly.  I would have enjoyed hearing more of Sarah.

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JJ Shiplett; Calgary, AB  JJ shows up on Calgary bills, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see him performing.  I’m going to have to track him down.  Honestly, I love the rich warm sound of his guitar!

Esperanza Spalding presents Emily’s Dplus Evolution; Portland, OR

I’m not even going to post a comment about Esperanza Spalding.  I really didn’t understand her performance piece and regretted not moving from the stage.  It was evening and about supper time, so I just stayed plunked!

The Stray Birds; Lancaster, PA  It’s nice to hear from International musicians…to check out what’s happening beyond our borders.  I enjoyed the clarity of their music and the versatility of their instrumentation.  A very positive feeling to The Stray Birds.

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The Strumbellas; Toronto, Ontario A terrific six member band coming out of Toronto, with strong connections in Northern Ontario.  Their beats get people up dancing.  A very nice energy.

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Richard Thompson; England  As I said before, it’s a great thing when these festivals integrate some seasoned song writers.  Very upbeat and sensational in betweener stories. Lots of humour and great music.

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Loudon Wainwright III; Westchester County, NY  Another pleasure to watch, for his humour and his experience, Loudon Wainwright III!  If you enter his name into Youtube, a hundred titles show up!  Quite a song writer and it was really a treat to listen!

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The Wooden Sky; Toronto, ON

Hawksley Workman; Toronto, ON  Hawksley was a power house.  Lots of energy…he danced and sang across two stages.  I really liked this guy. He put on a great show!

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Adam Cohen Son of Leonard Cohen, I liked Adam’s work.  If you’re thinking that you’re going to hear similarities in his vocals…you’re wrong.  Quite a different experience.  A fun time at Main Stage on this one.

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Oh my, there were others…but, I’m leaving this now.

Yes, indeed!  Dawning my air cast, I took in all of this fabulous music and while we were just saying over breakfast this morning, that it was a very chill line up last year, I’m looking at this list and remembering some phenomenal experiences!  The thing about Folk Festival is that you are exposed to artists you might not have ever connected with who produce stuff that is MORE than appealing.  It was a great folk festival…now that I’ve created this list, I’m going to go back and add some meat to the bones, so to speak.

(Okay….so that was quite an experience of music! 2231 words later!)  I hope that my readers have enjoyed the odd bit.  I’m not going to be waiting until a year later to document 2016 Folk Festival…so looking forward to it!

 

 

 

 

April 15, 2015: Rumble and a 100th Battle

I just found it extremely peaceful at the Rumble House last night.  Apart from the focus of painting, there were the hugs and the laughter ringing out.  I put aside the celery sticks and, instead, enjoyed a piece of cake.  It was celebration time!  A night of enjoying the camaraderie and the art with friends made since the inception of the Gorilla House-now-Rumble House.  Thank you, Rich, for all of it.

As time goes by, our network of artists and visitors grows and we welcome everyone.  Last night was a full house, as well as some familiar faces from the beginning days.  Elijah, it was awesome to see you.  Frank, Harold, Tamara…I just feel warmer and happier when you’re around.  Mike got back from his vacation, rejuvenated and inspired.  Louise, shared strength and a huge desire in her heart, to create.  Magpies seemed to be surfacing.  I’m wondering what that’s about.  Mark, Aaron, Daniel…such inspiring people and voracious painters! Christine…painted the skyline and the tower as a celebration of the Flames entering into the playoffs!  Bana…Elena…your work blows me away.  Dawn, always a story…about mothering, grand-mothering or flowers.  Priscilla…a constant and nurturing presence. James…Chinese name pronounced…An-du…for the times that we fumbled over our words, trying to communicate profound ideas. Dave…for your wisdom and observations on faces.  Morgan…for your courage.  Jess…your laugh.  Ringo…your music. Ed…your leather bound guest book.  Rich, Matt, Sean, Galen…your generous hearts.  And…Zack for the purchase of my piece at auction…thank you.  If I have not mentioned you, it’s because I have to get Max out to the field before I teach! Missed tonight…Andy, Jenn and Enriquito for three…Jeff and Johanne for five…Asa for six.  And THESE THREE…who wandered in at 11 and asked, “Did we miss the auction?”  Such a beautiful time.

??????????If YOU ever wish to wander in, we’d love to have you!

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May 8, 2014

I’ve looked forward to every birthday…feeling so blessed for every year, even when those years weren’t so easy.  I am just so filled with gratitude for the mix of experiences.  God has woven his heart in and out of mine and I have never felt alone.  Yesterday was a beautiful day.  The sunshine was lighting up a brilliant blue sky.  I got up early to a birthday phone call from my friend Bob on the west coast and then many messages of love throughout the day.  Happy birthday…sung with my Dad on morning Skype…and later, Bonne Fete sung by my Fiset family in Ottawa over the phone.

Breakfast was shared with Kate at Cora’s…always eggs benedict, coffee and great conversation.

P1160470 P1160472My first crocus of spring on the ridge above the city…exercise, deep breath, time with my pooch.

P1160474 P1160477 P1160478 P1160485New old E.O Brody Co. Cleveland OH short vase for $2.00 at the Women in Need shop.  I didn’t have this one.

BrodyConversation with a neighbour-friend about shrubs that grow well on the north side of houses.  A wander around a green house, after a long bitterly cold winter…enjoying the smells and sights of so much green!

Dragon Pearl dinner with my children and so grateful that everyone could make it.

Dragon PearlFloral arrangement brought over to my home by another neighbour…gift from Dad for my special day.  Conversation about flowers and flower beds as we stood out in the warm evening air.

P1160486Happy birthday cupcake delivered by my daughter as I read over Facebook birthday messages…again, we sang Happy Birthday!  May 8, 2014 was quite a day!

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Dragons Do Dance!

Happy New Year!  Welcome to the Year of the Horse!  The grade twos in my care today enjoyed a book written and beautifully illustrated by Ian Wallace, Chin Chiang and the Dragon’s Dance.  It was a wonderful thing to be able to celebrate the possibilities of a dragon in visual journals afterwards.  Visual journals are such an entry point into the imagination!  Another awesome day as a guest teacher!

Ching Chiang and the Dragon's Dance

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The Memory in my Suitcase

Katherine Mary Moors in Foreground

Everyone else would be dipping their toes into the cold water, whether it was at Kouchibouquac Beach in New Brunswick or Lake Ontario.  But what would my mother do?  Without hesitation, she threw down her towel, and kicking sand up behind her, she would ditch all of us for the water!  I will never forget how streamlined she looked as she dove in head first, all of us left laughing and up to our ankles.  She would surface and with one gesture, push her dark curls off her forehead and stretch back into a beautiful back stroke…sun dazzling on her wet face.

 

“Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick,
And think of you
Caught up in circles confusion
Is nothing new
Flashback warm nights
Almost left behind
Suitcases of memories,
Time after”

Saying Good-bye to Ted

So many hearts speaking to hearts…

Yesterday saw us gathering at Ted Godwin’s memorial.  What a beautiful sharing of thoughts, memories, stories and music.  I hadn’t ever attended a funereal event where folk broke out into applause again and again or where the attendants had to graciously hint that we should eventually leave…artists, art dealers, writers, poets, musicians, AA supporters and friends all moving from the program into a reconnection-reception with one another….Ted being the common thread to all.  His life richly blessed all of us.  Highlights for me…standing before a beautiful polished urn…placed visually in Ted’s own Bow River…water reflections seeming to move as I gazed upon the composition.  The painting, something like this one.

Ted_Godwin_Days_End_on_Moab_1_1999_360On either side of the painting, sprays of white flowers and greenery…a continuation of the colour story that felt so much like our dear Ted.  To the left, a photograph of Ted from younger days, the fisherman by his river…a moving black and white photograph that told us the story of his love of that particular landscape…in his gesture and in his eyes.

Recitations of very important poetry…

Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me;
“Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.”

Testimonies of friends…prayers…the most chilling, for me, when Fred Williams opened up to all of us the opportunity to speak the names of those we had lost and loved…one name at a time, spoken…over and over the voices rose.  I felt tears stream down my cheeks for the absolute unity we all felt around this moment.

I was sitting next to an artist-friend who has certainly inspired me over the years, Bill Duma.  At the conclusion of his testimony, he read a quote from Ted’s own Lower Bow: A Celebration of Wilderness, Art and Fishing.  At this, I felt chills go down my spine.

“Standing in the water and casting to a stir at twilight in late fall, I feel a gentle sadness in knowing that it might be the last fish and last day of the season.  With a sniff of winter in the air, there is a certain finality to trips at this time of the year.  All the rhythms of nature seem attended to change and the coming of the quiet white time.  With nature putting on such a flamboyant show before winter’s slumber, one can’t help being swept up in the drama of the moment.”

Thank you, Bill.

Bill Duma Painting

Bill Duma Painting

A rich collection of pieces by Jazz musicians, Eric Friedenberg, Al Muirhead, Bob Erlendson, Kai Poscente, Phil Dwyer and Brian Buchanan was rich and demonstrated clearly, another big love of Ted Godwin’s.

Time shared with friends was so special to each of us afterwards, I’m certain of it.  Doug MacLean stopped over for a visit.  His advice and his connection early in my painting, was invaluable to me. His offerings to the art community in Calgary from the early days at the CAG and to its new location on the Stephen Avenue Mall…and finally, his continued presence now in Canmore, can not be qualified.  Doug knows his art history…gives a huge context to Canadian art and his knowledge of art history surpassed most.  It was good of him to share a visit with me after all of these years.  I met Ted through Doug…just as I met John Snow and Peter von Tiesenhausen.  I treasure you, dear friend.

Visits with Ken Christopher, Katie Ohe, Verna Reid, Bill Duma and you, Denise and Elise, were so special.  And Fred…we were blessed by your role as presider!

My Invitation to Ted's Lower Bow exhibit at CAG

My Invitation to Ted’s Lower Bow exhibit at CAG

Blue Rock...my own work painted after a horse packing trip.  I first made the acquaintance of Ken Christopher on this trip.

Blue Rock…my own work painted after a horse packing trip. I first made the acquaintance of Ken Christopher on this trip.

My treasured copy of The Lower Bow.

My treasured copy of The Lower Bow.

Epiphany

I will light up the Nativity this evening…and tomorrow evening, will tuck it away for the year…but, I will not forget the message of hope and the gift at the manger as I go forward into this year.  Epiphany.

e·piph·a·ny

noun, plural e·piph·a·nies.

1. ( initial capital letter  ) a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth-day.
2. an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity.
3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
4. a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight.

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Happy Birthday, My Beautiful Daughter!

Alright…it just might be that I won’t have the chance to give my sweet child a birthday hug today!  However, I WAS able to hook up with her auntie…picked up a drive-through McDonald’s  ‘seniors’ coffee (my FIRST seniors ANYTHING and a big purchase at 82 cents a cup…joking) and then headed for the ridge for a romp in the wind!  An awesome time sharing a few memories and so much gratitude!

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. Gustave Flaubert