The past three days, we have been pulled out of the deep freeze and into a melt.  I can not walk through the tall woods at the river, without hearing the constant mating thrums of Northern Flickers and without seeing the wild flurry as males, out of urge and instinct, chase the females, dodging in and out of branches. I can hear the echoing drum of the Pileated Woodpecker on the opposite side of the river and thrill to see my Alberta Birders’ archives of the splendid colour, later, on my computer at home.  It is as though everything has come to life, suddenly.  For so long, the world slept.

It all began with the Magpies.  My neighbourhood, even as snow mounted on our quiet circle, was abuzz with the squawking gathering of dead branches that were tightly woven into the growing bulb of nests, peppering the remaining Elms.

Evenings, I stood in contemplation while the adult Bald Eagles, flew west and east and west and east, gathering up lining materials and tall grasses, returning again and again to the nest that was clearly visible all winter long.  The juveniles have mostly disappeared, leaving the two regal raptors to forge out a life for the new.  It has been an intimate and powerful encounter to watch these families throughout such a harsh winter.

While these aren’t the best of shots, I have a wee archive of the interesting approach to gathering.  I can only imagine living in one of the ‘big’ houses along the ridge and having access, every day, to such wonder, just outside my windows.

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I celebrate, every day, the access I have to such wonder.  I really can only equate it all to an experience of grace.  My friend, Michael, is someone who knows and understands what I mean by that.  A person just wants to sing, at the top of their lungs…”HOLY!  HOLY!”

Whether one enjoys the nesting behaviours of an eagle, or the simplicity of sparrows that nest in a stove vent…it is all so amazing.


Mr. & Mrs. 2018

As my children have become adults, I have experienced a sense of loss.  Some days my heart feels empty.  But, then I step out into nature and I observe what surrounds and once again, my heart sings.  I am reminded that God made all of this for me.  I am reminded that I need to take responsibility for such astounding beauty.  Sometimes it can all be very brutal, but at other times, it is pure fragility and tenderness.



Fiddler’s Green
One, two, three, four, one, two
September seventeen
For a girl I know it’s Mother’s Day
Her son has gone alee
And that’s where he will stay
Wind on the weathervane
Tearing blue eyes sailor-mean
As Falstaff sings a sorrowful refrain
For a boy in Fiddler’s Green
His tiny knotted heart
Well, I guess it never worked too good
The timber tore apart
And the water gorged the wood
You can hear her whispered prayer
For men at masts that always lean
The same wind that moves her hair
Moves a boy through Fiddler’s Green
Oh nothing’s changed anyway
Oh nothing’s changed anyway
Oh anytime today
He doesn’t know a soul
There’s nowhere that he’s really been
But he won’t travel long alone
No, not in Fiddler’s Green
Balloons all filled with rain
As children’s eyes turn sleepy-mean
And Falstaff sings a sorrowful refrain
For a boy in Fiddler’s Green

Digging Through Archives

My daughter (now, a teacher) and I were sitting together while she was still cozy in her kitty jammies this morning…me, at the dining table, she, on the stairs…she was telling me about a very inspiring Convention session that she attended on Thursday of this past week.  It turns out that the presenter was Ron Wigglesworth.  As soon as I started exploring his posts on the internet, I realized how his contributions to education and to students has been exceptional.  Anyone who has encouraged a connection between drawing and biology is great in my eyes…in fact, I’d have to say that he has done a lot of connecting between diverse disciplines.

I got thinking about archives of various projects and things that my students have explored in the past and I just thought I’d write a post that featured those.  I had fun teaching and in retrospect, I’m pretty sure that I saw the students’ hands, hearts and minds as extensions of my own.  I’m grateful for their hard work, their talents and their commitment.  For me, it was never about the marks.  A sampling…digital…there’s a load of stuff in my photo albums.  And, today, I’m celebrating it all.

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Cleaning Up the Desk Top Computer

I think I was looking for my photograph archives from a trip I took with my son, the summer of 2009, when I came upon some images from the end of the teaching year and celebrations with my students; specifically, my grade nine art students, our life sized sculpture exhibit and my grade seven home room.

It was that year that I invited my students to bring in a special object for our prayer table…so, every Monday, it would be the next person’s turn.  It started with me…and a stone. Jarrett Alley, a former student of mine, had passed away in 1997 at the age of 13. His place in the classroom was two rows back, but directly across from the framed article that remained, for all of my teaching years, a tribute to his life.

I think I always intended to copy and pass on a photo to each student at the end of that year, but evidently that never happened!

I’m going to loop the photographs here.  My students, of over thirty years of teaching, remain in my heart.

For the most part, I am out of touch with these students, so if my readers know any of them, please share.

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Room by Emma Donoghue

Spoiler Alert, I suppose, especially if you read the review link below.


This is a single-night (maybe you can stretch it to two nights) read.  I haven’t seen the movie, but thought that I would read this, for the purpose of sharing a teachers’ book club night.  Now, it turns out that the evening set aside for the book club recently, was already booked on my calendar.  Such are the busy lives that we all carefully negotiate. I thought I’d jot a few notes on my thoughts on the book.

It takes about four pages to get a sense of ‘the voice’ of the book.  Intimate conversation is shared by the protagonists, Jack and Ma, victims of the violent and isolating experience of being held captive in a room.  Jack has been born into this captivity, as a result of the horrible and redundant rape of his mother, at the hands of her kidnapper.  One would think, by this description, that the book would be an extremely sad piece of work, but what I found intriguing were the many sorts of activities and pretend games that the mother created for her son and how they, indeed, survived this bleak situation.

I felt empathy for Ma throughout.  Given even ideal circumstances, I know that I ache for my own children when they confront conflict or struggle, so I can’t imagine the obstacles that would be mine emotionally in such a crisis.  The reader sees the internal struggle of both mother and son, and also sees their vulnerability, but at the same time, can not help but experience amazement at their strength of character and gut.

I raise up a prayer for all of those victims of traumatic experiences such as this one. I pray for ‘the missing’ and for those family members who know this story intimately.

I recommend this one, but don’t know that I will go out to see the movie.  This might be a ‘wait until Netflix’ title.

A Thorough Review


May 8, 2015

…my 60th birthday!

Whoot!  It was a wonderful day!  And, yes, I taught the full day.  But then I had the pleasure of sharing a late afternoon walk with my daughter, Erin and pooch, Max. We did our bird, coyote and muskrat watching and enjoyed the warmth.  The afternoon with my students, was spent needle felting with Leah C. Donald, visionary for Art Felt Studio.  With our previous experience painting spring flowers, this was an amazing extension and a great opportunity to create a more-than-special Mother’s Day gift.  I enjoyed connecting with Leah and learning that one of her favourite spots is the Custom Woolen Mill near Carstairs, Alberta.  I told her that I had grown up with the smell of raw wool and we gave each other a big hug.  Thanks to my gang of grade three friends who made the arrangement for this magical activity!

Some people might be fearful of age, aging and the changes that passing years bring.  For me, being 60 means a freedom to be and I stand firm in my gratitude for that.

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Cell May 8, 2015 Franks, Needle Felting, Birthday 009

A Family That Lays Down Track is a Happy Family

DSC_2734I’m feeling elated.  A 6:30 a.m. drive, delivering my son to work…sleepy-head chatting…setting the digital clock in the car…making observations of Deerfoot Trail at this time of day.  A nice way to experience daylight savings time!  Max and I stopped on the way home and stepped into the center of a huge field of crispy dry grass.  As he bounded to and fro, I had time with the sky, the stars, bright studs in the darkness, revealing themselves more clearly, the longer I was present.  I am so graced by morning.

Seated in the sixth row pew each Sunday, I have the chance to connect with my friend, Johanne. I seem to have a little home in that row, having always shared it with people like Carol and Adam and for years, Johanne, when she travels from Sudbury to make time for her Calgary children. Another beautiful homily was delivered by Father Cristino-Bouvette at Mass and such grace received in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

So many reasons today, to feel grateful…

I think that some of the joy I feel today is a result of the evening spent with my children.  Family dinner was changed to Saturday and my daughter and her husband hosted.  On the menu, a wonderful Jamie Oliver light caesar salad minus the anchovies.  It is an excellent recipe!  Try it!!  We then put together our own home made pizzas on Cobs pizza bases.  Topped with a lovely sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushroom, roasted bell peppers and artichoke, these were amazing.  Yummers!

We followed good eats with a game of Ticket to Ride and all seemed well with the world!  I knew I was returning home to a nice smelling dog, given the earlier Saturday afternoon shampooing at the Car-Dog Wash.  A weekend doesn’t get much better than this!


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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!




British Home Children in Canada

Recently, it’s come to light that my great grandfather, John Moors, was among the thousands of British Home Children who were sent, by ship, to Canada to spend their childhood years working for others.  In our family’s case, John was the only son of five children and in August of 1889, he crossed the Atlantic on the Parisian, along with 71 other children and in his case, he was sent out from Stratford to work on a heavily wooded farm in the Arthur, Ontario area, near Guelph.  He was separated from his family for almost nine years.

This is further substantiated by my Grandfather’s narrative,

“My father was born in England. He was a tall, big man with pale blue eyes and shiny red hair. It wasn’t very often necessary for Father to physically discipline us. It seemed to me he just needed to look at you and his eyes looked right through you.

He was sent out from England when he was a boy of about nine years of age (the age of 13 is substantiated by records), the only boy in a family of five children. He went into the bush country of Ontario as a stable boy. He lived in Arthur, not far out of Guelph, Ontario. Now, when he went out there, there was a hardwood forest in that part of the country. He worked there, the only member of his family in North America – until his father came out to Canada eight years later. Father became a foreman in a lumber mill which was hard, rough work in those days. He met Mary Eleanor Haddow in Hamilton, Ontario and they married.”

John Moors 13Yesterday, I attended the Mountain View Art’s Festival in Didsbury and there, met several descendents of British Home Children and had opportunity to meet John Vallance, himself, a Home Child of Scottish decent.  He and I both ordered liver and onions in the small town cafe and it was awesome to sit and hear him share his story and his memories.

I have much to learn and read about and will now pursue more information about the status and placement of my great grandfather.  It was not unusual for detailed descriptions of the children to be recorded, in regards to their appearance and behaviours as they were carefully inspected before their placements, many coming out of orphanages, long before separated from their mothers, fathers and siblings.  Each child came to Canada with their standard wooden box filled with a specific list of belongings.  Often the children were photographed as a matter of record as well.  I am looking forward to learning more about this and encourage you to visit a number of sites related to this subject.  I warn you that most of these stories are heart wrenching.

It was a blessing that John was later joined by his family who immigrated to Canada, his father, John Moors, along with his wife, Grace and their daughters Second Class on the Dominion from Liverpool to Montreal in 1900.  I count our family among the fortunate ones, given this particular time in history.

John and Grace Moors 1865 to 1935 Canadian Passenger ListSt. Andrew Lambeth Poverty 1898

P1110705Thank you to Bruce Skilling, Alberta Director of the British Home Children Advocacy & Research Association for his warm welcome and information.  It was good to meet Hazel who created the beautiful quilt in commemoration of the 2010 year of the British Home Child and nice to share a meal with Connie! I am also very grateful to Lori Oschefski who has been working tirelessly, creating a data base and opening up the conversation about the stories of thousands of broken families and lost souls.

Hazel's Work

Hazel’s Work

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2010: Year of the British Home Child

2010: Year of the British Home Child

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John Vallance: An honour to meet you.

John Vallance: An honour to meet you.

John Vallance represented on 2010 Commemorative Quilt

John Vallance represented on 2010 Commemorative Quilt

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I love each of my three children so much.  My heart wells up when I think of each of them.  Each one, such an individual…so special, in my mind.  My remembrances and shared experiences with each, are so particular.  Each one holds in body, soul, mind and experience, such a special collection of attributes.  I am a proud mother.  No…the relationships I have shared with them are not perfect…but the humanity of this struggle called life and the blessing/curse of free will,  guarantees that imperfection is pretty much a given.

Erin…my first born…a young lady with a heart that swells with kindness for others.  Her young life fractured bits and pieces of her innocent and beautiful trust in love.  I didn’t do so well in protecting her from all of that.  Bit by bit, as a woman, she has been filling the wee holes with new love and experience…the love of a steadfast husband…and she has used some really durable glue to fix the fractures.

She treasures her brother and her sister and has been a formidable part of her grandparents lives…their moving from one phase of their years into the next and the next.  Erin values and treasures family.  She has always worked tirelessly and sometimes passionately to discover how to make peace…for everyone.  And sometimes I think that work has been too hard.

Erin is music…and I can not help but interject with this song, by Sinead O’Connor, The Singing Bird…because this is a song that comes to mind when I think of Erin.  I also think that O’Connor’s hands…her gestures here…remind me of my daughter.

“The Singing Bird”

I have seen the lark soar high at morn
Heard his song up in the blue
I have heard the blackbird pipe his note
The thrush and the linnet too
But there’s none of them can sing so sweet
My singing bird as you.
If I could lure my singing bird
From his (her) own cozy nest
If I could catch my singing bird
I would warm him (her) on my breast
For there’s none of them can sing so sweet
My singing bird as you.
My singing bird as you.
My singing bird as you.

Erin is about feasts…good food and good drink… parties and celebration.  If you have not attended one of her events, you must really get in her good books…you won’t forget her hospitality and alongside her husband, Douglas, you will feel the welcome of their home.

I love you, Erin.

Yesterday evening, Erin and I shared a meal at our favourite family restaurant, The Dragon Pearl, in Inglewood and then went on to wander the Esker Foundation. It was the last-day for Janet Werner’s Another Perfect Day, Dagmara Genga’s Scenic Route and really fun and engaging, Jillian McDonald’s Valley of the Deer.  Erin and I spent some time deciding which role our Cayley AKA ‘wood nymph’ would play in McDonald’s installation.  I’ve included the short piece of video What Does the Fox Say simply because it reminds me today of the exhibit.  The Esker Foundation never disappoints!  It was fantastic!

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Sometimes we are helpless in our circumstances.  Tonight I’m writing about helplessness.  I want to make an important distinction, however…because I am not writing about hopelessness. For me, they are different.


1. Unable to help oneself; powerless or incompetent.
2. Lacking support or protection: They were left helpless in the storm.
3. Impossible to control; involuntary


1. Having no hope; despairing.
2. Offering no hope; bleak.
3. Incurable.
4. Having no possibility of solution; impossible.


Tonight, certain situations come to mind.  Some are very large.  Some smaller.  But, in the scheme of life experience, it all matters. With all of my heart, I lift up prayer for those in utterly impossible circumstances. On the east coast, a family has lost their eighteen year old daughter.  Also…somewhere…a sister has lost her brother.  A mother has lost her child.  A child has lost his mother.  And yet, every moment of every day, a new life comes to be.  Birth does not, however, exclude the pain of loss.  Grief is a huge reality.  I pray for you all in your grief; for your loss… divorce, separation, abandonment, disloyalty, death, illness.


Lola passes at the Hellabrunn Zoo Munich, Germany-Photo: Bancroft-Landov

A facebook offering from Information Blitz.  Orphaned elephant.

A facebook offering from Information Blitz. Orphaned elephant.

My mother sleeps in a long term care facility room and I wonder how she is sleeping and try to remember her laughter.  I want to pull her blankets around her.  I do not know and can not know her thoughts.  She can not communicate any more about the things that hurt her.  I feel helpless.  I have to trust in the love of her care givers.  I pray for all of those who have family members suffering dementia, loss of memory, loneliness or depression, ill health.

P1100418Today it was reported that a baby was left as sewage and then miraculously saved when “a tenant heard the baby’s sounds in the public restroom of a residential building in Zhejiang province in eastern China.”  This and many atrocities against the innocent come to mind and I feel helpless.  Most days it feels like it is not enough to be appalled.  I pray for the unborn…and for children…that they are protected, sheltered, fed and loved.

(Photo: AFPTV AFP/Getty)

(Photo: AFPTV AFP/Getty)

 Photograph: Imaginechina/Rex Features

Photograph: Imagine China/Rex Features

I found a wee nestling when I arrived home yesterday, Mr. and Mrs. flying urgently about, helpless to aid the still-breathing moving bird.  I slipped it cautiously back up into its nest and reinforced the broken vent.  Assistance was generously given by Peter and Rick.  Taking action minimized my feeling of helplessness.  But, today it is quiet at the nest…Mr., as though by instinct, returning again and again, to look in.  Helpless.


Before the Fall

Mrs. Before the Fall

Mr. After Nestling Returned and Entrance Reinforced

Mr. After Nestling Returned and Entrance Reinforced

Matthew 10:29-31

New International Version

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

We live in a big world full of remarkable circumstances and moments that change us forever.  Some of these moments can only be described as miraculous and others, on the flip side, devastating.  We are very fragile beings, each one unique and irreplaceable.  Love hugely and in the deepest sense.  And when you feel helpless, pray.