My Brother Called Me Sis

This post doesn’t have a lot to do with the title.  Eventually, I will write about the recent loss (death) of my big brother, John.  I may not grieve as others do, but usually it gets expressed somehow through creativity, either the lack of it, the complete stoppage of it, or the manic pouring out of it.  Writing is one of those expressions.  If you think that what I do is ‘unhealthy’, then I suggest that you forego these practices when you are grieving.  I haven’t judged the grief of others and I expect that the people who care about me will do the same for me.  I’m sorry if there is any aspect at all of my grief that is off-putting or frustrating for you.  I can only tell you that your discomfort with me or what I do, in no way equals the discomfort that I am experiencing presently.  Maybe I should write about things in a paper journal where it doesn’t make anyone embarrassed or uncomfortable.  Maybe I could burn the words or hide them at least.

I went to a restorative Yoga class last night.  I can’t believe what an hour was spent with myself, my beautiful daughter practicing next to me on her mat.  But once I got out and into the parking lot, I couldn’t stop crying.  I think that all we can hope for in grief is for some release now and again…some relief.

Today, I feel angry.

Today, I went to the studio.  I set up a comfortable place for Max.  I prepared my birch panels.  The Gesso will cure for 24 hours.  I messed around with some other stuff out there.  I sorted through my music.  I nested.

(just a sec…Max barking! door bell ringing! thump thump up the stairs)

Okay…so, how can I be angry?  This just happened!

Does my sister know me?  Mama bird??  Is that not the sweetest mug that you’ll ever see?  I am consumed with birds!  Thank you, Valerie Jean!  Thank you, Jean Pierre, Louis and Eliane!  I love you.  Any of my readers consumed by grief, please read the brilliant book by Kyo Maclear, Birds, Art, Life.

And, yes, about thirty minutes have passed since I wrote the words, “Today, I feel angry.”  And…again, I cried my face off.  How can I feel sad with so much love surrounding me?  How can I get angry?  It’s just the way it is and I accept it.

From the outset of this post, I wanted to write about parking.  It seems just one of those frustrating things that comes up now and then.  Over the past couple of years, I’ve had many hours spent at various medical buildings throughout the City of Calgary and over a very long period of time.  I’ll never forget the time that I couldn’t find parking at the Foothills Hospital on one visit, not in Lot 3, anyway.  I had an appointment.  I was already late when I decided to abandon my drive around and around and around practice and drove to the complete north end of the building.  To negotiate my way back to the Special Services building, I passed many couples where one partner was using a walker, or a person was in a wheel chair being pushed by a loved one, and even passed an obviously distressed person, a person feeling just like I was.  And on that day, I was in no position that I could assist or help and I flew by these people, ending up 45 minutes late for an appointment I felt I desperately needed at the time.

There are families who arrive at hospital late at night in order to meet up with a loved one who has arrived by ambulance.  There are Chemotherapy, Dialysis and other out patients who must endure repetitive and taxing appointments in various buildings around our city.  There are young fathers, racing to be with their partner for the birth of a child. There are the caregivers and loved ones of people who have been, gratefully/desperately/ horribly sadly, admitted into Hospice care.

I’m writing this post while I’m angry because I think a discussion needs to be opened up about paid parking in some of these situations.  Most incredibly current for me is the fact that I was issued a 65.00 parking ticket by Indigo, a private agency, likely hired by Intercare Chinook Care Centre in order to provide a ‘fair’ public parking solution for the families of residents and for the hard working employees.

I missed the ten day window for paying this ticket, given that I was planning a funeral and dealing with other matters and so just the night before last, I paid my ticket with the penalty, a total of 85.00.

Apart from the Hospice parking, there is an option to walk blocks away to street parking, that is also monitored for its two hour limit.  Anyone opting to use this street parking, would have to return to their location every two hours in order to move their car.

So, it was Holy Saturday afternoon, April the 20th.  I put my regular six dollars in for three hours of parking.  That parking would take me to 12:56 in the afternoon.  When I returned to my car at 2:28, my violation notice was waiting for me, tucked under my windshield wiper.  There were four other cars in the lot.  I stood in the parking lot and wept.  I was thinking to myself, “It’s Holy Week…it’s Easter weekend.  Everyone is home with their families today.  I am here with my nephew and my dying brother.”  It was at 3:00 am on April 21, that my brother died.

IMG_0870

I’ve archived here, ‘some’ of the parking receipts spewed out from the lot machine over the time that my brother suffered.  Is it a bit of a thorn in my side?  YES!  Do I have suggestions or solutions?  No!  But, I truly believe that this is a matter that must be discussed for solutions.

IMG_0869

I’ve turned my seething frothing anger about losing my brother toward this matter.  It seems ‘small’ of me.  Oh well. The efforts made by the Chinook Hospice staff and management on behalf of our family was of the highest caliber.  If ever I have opportunity to evaluate the program and their treatment, I will assign the venue the  highest accolades.  However, if given the opportunity to discuss parking, I will vehemently respond with the fact that there is a need for analysis and change.

At a time like this, it just makes me wonder what has happened with our world/society that we have perhaps lost compassion along with progress and maybe we traded in kindness for economic growth.

 

Pick of the Week: Experience Inclusion

Thursday night and the City of Calgary was bursting with visual arts events of every sort!  I might have visited the Glenbow Gallery’s exhibits.  The gallery offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month. (some of you may not know that)  I missed the recent opening of the new exhibits and  I particularly want to see 1920s Modernism in Montreal: The Beaver Hall Group and Rough Country: The Strangely Familiar in mid-20th Century Alberta Art.  These shows leave us end of January/beginning of February…so, they are on my list.

Also on Thursday, presented by Foster MAK, artist, Belinda Fireman, celebrated her opening.  This is one my readers want to catch before the end of November.  Loft 112 is a fantastic venue for events that include writers, performance artists and visual arts.

“Belinda Fireman is one of Calgary’s most vibrant artists.  Her original paintings are characterized by inspiration, colour, fun and vulnerability.  She loves making live art at events and parties, and she competes regularly in local and provincial art battles.

Belinda is the incredible creator of Self Love 365 – a daily practice that inspires and generates creativity and self-worth. This year, SelfLove365 inspired many incredible portraits of people in Belinda’s life, surrounded by the writings of her vulnerable, honest and relatable thoughts. Through the month of November, her images and words from this beautiful project will be on exhibit at Calgary’s Loft 112, presented by FosterMAK.com.”

Beautiful things are happening every where…Jarvis Hall has an artist talk this afternoon, presented by Wil Murray at 2:00 following the opening, last night, of the current exhibit, Spray Can Sea, Ooh Bared Ass, Vet Her.  From the Jarvis Hall website, this…

“Wil Murray is known as the wild man of contemporary Canadian painting.  A lifted brushstroke here, a folded dried paint skin there: he creates a new visual dialogue that is equal parts paint, sculpture and at times, photography.  Always investigating his media and using traditional materials in ways the contemporary viewer had not seen, his previous work was as much theatrical sideshow as they were contemporary painting.”

So, what did I attend on Thursday night?  Experience Inclusion: Artist Studio Portrait Exhibition at In-Definiate Arts Society!  This was a fantastic event!

From Calgary Arts Development’s initiative, What’s On In Calgary and written by AMY JO ESPETVEIDT, this…

On October 6, 2016 a group of artists transformed the Calgary Municipal Building’s atrium into an artist studio. Pairing City of Calgary employees with In-Definite Arts artists, participants used marker pens on plexiglass to draw and trace live portraits of each other.

Thursday, November 3rd was the closing reception, a lovely event that involved mingling with artists, snacking on a beautiful array of treats and looking at some truly wonderful portraiture.  Another very special aspect to the evening was speaking with three artists; Roby, Jennifer and Tony.  These artists have not allowed disabilities to prevent them from expressing their creative nature.  I’m looking forward to meeting Jennifer again when I attend the group’s creative arts sale on November 19. Finally, I was very proud of my daughter, Erin and her colleague, Phil, who spoke to the exhibit and who spoke to the nature of inclusion and the process that our city is taking in order to ensure movement forward in matters of acceptance and appropriate accommodations.  I was happy to see my son-in-law, giving his generous support for my daughter.  I love him to bits!  Another employee of the City of Calgary, he is a dedicated worker who daily, has to consider inclusion as it directly impacts his department.  I am proud of you, Douglas.

img_2513

My daughter, Erin, was partnered with Tony, an enthusiastic and sincere gentleman who I met, for the first time, at the In-Definite Arts reception.  Here, they met at the City of Calgary atrium, with the intention of drawing portraits of one another.img_2512img_2511

Here, they celebrate the follow-up exhibit at In-Definite Arts Gallery.img_2508img_2505img_2504img_2503img_2501img_2499img_2498img_2497img_2496img_2495img_2494img_2493img_2492

img_2491

I am so proud of my daughter, Erin. (Human Resources Consultant for the City of Calgary)

It was a great pick of the week.  I felt relaxed because I did not cram too much into my evening and was happy to relax and read before sleep.  Oh!  I have some good books to share with my readers!  But, for now, time to enjoy the beautiful weather at Frank’s Flats. Max is waiting!

 

Alvise Came to Town!

Dang!  I wanted to document each and every monthly angel, with its creator, Alvise Doglioni Majer.  This time I forgot.

We had lots of creativity to talk about, though, and the minute I saw her, I was smitten by July!  Thank you, Alvise.  She has now officially joined the other ladies in the Journey Around the Sun series.  The summer critter to be represented is the honey bee.  Alvise has two hives on his property now and will expand to four next year.  I particularly enjoy the face, halo and wings on this angel.  She has a bit of a summer tan.

I’m enjoying a bowl of beef barley soup on this rainy chill of an afternoon.  I’m glad I got out to the pond this morning…so sad, however, to find that pesticides were being sprayed in an area where young geese were feeding and the other birds were still busily harvesting worms surfaced after yesterday’s rain.  I just don’t understand why we are not more invested in caring for delicate ecosystems.  Why would the pristine turf of a sports field take priority?  The city of Calgary website explains that the presence of broadleaf weeds is a tripping and safely hazard.  But…I digress.  I’m praying for the conversion of the human heart, in so many ways.

IMG_9177IMG_9179IMG_9182IMG_9183IMG_9186

Former archives.

Alvise Doglioni Majer’s Studio

Sunday Driving on Friday

April’s Angel

Road Trip and Angels

 

 

Whirlwind

This is a beautiful day!  I got up early and Max and I headed over to the pond.  I made a decision to attend a later Mass again because light will be fading soon and our pond walks will be later in the day…it is time to soak up the beautiful morning light while it’s still possible.  It is another golden-blue day as tree branches become more exposed and the leaves move into a warmer shade of yellow.

Mass was inspiring.  With my church family, I was able to reconnect with a friend I hadn’t visited with for quite a long time and I felt as though I was able to be really present to her and to the blessed peace of the Mass.  I thought a lot about discipleship…and took pause to consider what direction these thoughts might take me in my community.

Once home, I ate a nice lunch and then visited with Dad on Skype.  Now, I am sitting in my pyjamas, ready to have an afternoon nap.  The sunshine is creating beautiful patterns on the floor near by.  This relaxed feeling that pours over me is quite a contrast to the whirlwind of activity that has been filling up my life since Enriquito’s departure and connecting with Dylan last week.  A few images as an archive…

Dragon Pearl Dumplings and Hot and Sour Soup…a family favourite and great for an art night.

Dragon PearlEsker Foundation autumn opening.  The snacks, as per usual, were amazing!  And it was such a nice thing to visit with Jim and Sue Hill again.  I bumped into people I knew, but it was especially good to share the experience with my daughter, Cayley.  I have to say that this exhibit is a challenge for me.  I’m looking forward to programs that will supplement the visual exhibit over the coming months.  I’m guessing I will learn more about art as communication and installation.  The programs began on Saturday, with an artist talk, but one needs to pace ones self.  Charlotte Moth: living images and Celia Perrin Sidarous: Interiors, Other Chambers will be on exhibit until December 20.

From this gallery setting, we headed over to Pith Gallery, meeting John Will in the center of 9th Ave, where funny enough, he stopped to talk.  Comic Con’t by Ryan Statz, had me in stitches.  Honestly, the work made me laugh out loud.  A great find!  Autobiographical in nature, this work was technically astute and in very good humour.

Lifted from the Pith Comic Con’t public share, I hope that Ryan will not mind me sharing this…sort of gives you the back story.

Ryan Statz – Biography

A native of Montréal Québec, Statz completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2000, and received his Masters of Fine Arts degree at Concordia University in 2008. Currently based in Calgary Alberta, Statz’s work has been exhibited across Canada, The United States, and Europe.

Ryan Statz – Artist Statement

I am an idiot.

Anyone who knows me would likely admit that this is neither a stretch of the truth or the imagination – in fact, if I were a gambling man I’d say it’d be a pretty safe bet. Based on a personal, and experiential reality, my work owns up to this; however, because I also do not lead a life that is altogether interesting or exciting, the subject matter of the work references the mundane.

In the production of my work, I employ strategies from performance, executed with a deadpan fervour that includes elements of humour, wit, and humility – with just a hint of self-deprecation. Any self-flagellation, however, should not be taken as an admission of a lowered self-image; it is used primarily as a comedic device that addresses the notion of hegemonic masculinity.

Art History ubiquitously portrays the male artist as an iconic figure, a genius, and a hero. As I often approach things with a great deal of humility, I present the male artist (myself) as an individual who is not the sharpest tool in the shed, whose social status amongst his peers isn’t the highest, and whose success within the local, Canadian and international art context is virtually non-existent. So for my own purposes, and in the context of the male artist-as-bumbling-idiot, failure is always a viable option.

DSC_1330

DSC_1331

DSC_1332

DSC_1333

Cell September 27, 2015 Ironwood, Esker, Pith, Frank's 026

DSC_1335

DSC_1338

From Pith Gallery, Cayley and I walked down to the Ironwood Stage and Grill where Steve Coffey and Sheri-D were performing a collaborative piece titled, Tales From the Moonshine Room.  Over a glass of wine, a snack of calamari and conversation shared with a writer out of LA, Cayley and I really enjoyed this performance piece.  On a few occasions, the spoken poetry brought me to tears.

Sheri-D and Steve CoffeeNice to see you again, Paul Forestell!

DSC_1343

Saturday morning began with an early morning pond walk.  Even when life is hectic, having a beautiful border collie (Max-Man) in my circle, causes a connection with nature and required exercise.

Kath's Canon, September 27, 2015 Heron 002 Kath's Canon, September 26, 2015 Heron, Pith, Open Doors 061From there, I headed up north for an Open Door YYC activity.  I had registered to see the warehouse where the City of Calgary stores and cares for the Public Art Collection.  It was fabulous!  Barb and Quinn did an superb job sharing such a ‘magical’ place with us. Articulate and genuinely passionate, their collaborative presentation was excellent. A staff of two, they manage a beautiful space and collection.  I was really glad to have seen this. (No pictures inside…and if you’ve ever attended to such an event, you would understand the logic.)

Kath's Canon, September 26, 2015 Heron, Pith, Open Doors 001 Kath's Canon, September 26, 2015 Heron, Pith, Open Doors 002 Kath's Canon, September 26, 2015 Heron, Pith, Open Doors 003Had I prior knowledge about the density of population that would attend a Pop Up Etsy event, I would not have committed to the 50 minute line up to get to the 97 vendors inside the Golden Acres venue on Saturday.  While I did pick up three Christmas gifts, I find that Market Collective provides a more ‘chill’ experience and as many artisans and creatives.  I missed food trucks and live music.  The crowds were oppressive.  Hmmm…let me see…I’m sure I took a photo of the line up that wove in and out of shelving.  Yes, here it is…

DSC_1357Yes, Dad, I DID do this!  The best part of the line up was that I met up with one of my fans…just love this girl!  Hannah is in one of her dance poses for this photo. :0)

DSC_1356

I decided to opt out of the bus tour of the Shepard Land Fill site and headed home to chill out before sharing the evening with my girls, attending Alberta Ballet’s Balletlujah.

It was nice to sip (or would that be, down?) a gin and tonic at intermission with my daughters, reviewing the experience together and getting some Auld Triangle time (a little name we gave ourselves during a show put on Tom Phillips one night at the Ironwood).

Jean Grand-Maitre

Jean Grand-Maitre

From Avenue Magazine: Photo captured of a moment in Jean Grand-Maitre's choreography for Balletlujah!

From Avenue Magazine: Photo captured of a moment in Jean Grand-Maitre’s choreography for Balletlujah!

Now…it might be that my readers will think that Saturday was over…but, no.  What did we do?  We stopped at the Blackfoot Diner OF COURSE.  We thought we would share a piece of pie.  But instead….this.

Breakfast after Alberta Ballet Kath and ErinI have much to be grateful for…I’m offered up so much in the way of opportunity…good food and drink…friendship and family.  It was quite a weekend!  Late this afternoon, I will drive out to spend time with my dear Ya Yas. But…for now…a snooze!

Equinox Vigil 2015: Union Cemetery

This was the first time that I attended the Equinox Vigil.  I was primarily motivated because it was a lovely evening for weather.  For the first days, leaves were dancing down the street…a slight wind, warm sun, blue sky dappled in cloud, cool air.  It was a perfect autumn evening.  The fall equinox falls on Wednesday of this coming week.

I thought that I would bring to the non-denominational event, thoughts and prayers for my dearly departed Mom and my family.  I would open up to a reflective and prayerful evening in the Union Cemetery.  The evening opened with a beautiful sky and dance.  This piece, Rico. Michael was a piece created with Calgary’s departed, Michael Green, at heart.

Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 001 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 004 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 008Various musicians were present to the event…first and throughout the evening, Simon Fisk and Robin Tufts.  Their music was both haunting and spirit-charged.  Absolutely beautiful.  I stood in the dark at one point and just listened and was moved because of this powerful setting.Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 018 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 019I wrote Mom’s name on one of the Memorial Lanterns, lanterns that would be processed twice throughout the evening…light in a dark place.  This ritual felt a lot like writing Mom’s name into the Book of Remembrance at my parish church.  Each year, when the Book of Remembrance is placed for all to see,  I pray for her peace and our peace…those left behind and missing her.

Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 020 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 022Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 023 While I oriented myself to the setting and the event, I missed a couple of events that I had hoped to enjoy…one, the Quickdraw Animation film screen, a tribute to Chris Reimer, ‘Dude, That’s Insane’…

and Kris Demeanor, poet and musician.Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 026Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 028 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 030At the top of the hill, at the M Horseshoe of the Union Cemetery Rayne-Anne Latchford illuminated lives, by sharing with us, a number of stories of personalities who lived in Calgary, but who passed and are now laying, for the most part, in unmarked graves.  She has a passion for history and for the narratives of people.  She also spoke beautifully about how ‘now’ is the time to share stories with one another and to connect with our families.  It is the stories that will remain.

Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 031 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 033I could listen to historian, Harold Sanders for hours.  Thank you, for sharing with us history of Calgary’s cemeteries and letting us know just how much we can learn from the people who are resting in our midst.  I hope to have opportunity to return to Union Cemetery in the light of day and make some discoveries on my own. Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 037Being surrounded by music for the evening added to the atmosphere of the sacred.  Thank you to the Calgary Renaissance Singers & Players for their beautiful sound.

Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 039 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 043Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 047 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 051Beautiful installations were sprinkled throughout the Cemetery pathways…this one, the Breath of Life Memorial by Eveline Kolijn.

As it became dark, I settled in with a hot cup of spiced tea and chatted with friends.  It was good to see you Michelena, Billy, Jenn, Bev, Bill, Steve, Don and friends and Dale.  Walking alone, down the hill, the sky appeared lighter than the ancient evergreens that flanked me.  I looked up and gave thanks to my ancestors.  I also prayed for the many students who have passed away since teaching them…for my daughter’s and son’s friends who have passed…for my relations, most recently, my Auntie Margaret and my Uncle Bob.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.

Amen.

Rumble House: July 1, 2015

Since I was fully invested in my teaching contract the last four months of the school year, I didn’t have the energy required to do very much gallery/music/event hopping and one of the greatest losses was Wednesday evenings at the Rumble House.  I decided, given the resolution of most of my plumbing problems at home, I’d head downtown the evening of Canada Day and do some ‘chill’ painting just to soak up the good feelings that I always enjoy when I’m surrounded by friend-creatives.

I took along a papier mache rabbit that I had constructed as a demo piece for one of the create! classes that I taught down at the Golden Age Club.  I thought that it was time to bring the little guy to completion and to let go of him.  Priscilla sat next to me and I treasured quiet conversation.  It was good to meet up with Jenn and Vincent after such a long time. While the Canada Day displays and events were a huge draw for Calgarians (something like 250,000 in attendance along the river), it was nice to be a part of something peaceful and familiar.  It was nice to be painting.

From Rumble, I headed past the crowds congregating at the Center Street Bridge, to my brother’s place.  After he fed me, we walked ourselves down to the hill at Max Bell Arena and watched the Canada Day fireworks together.  I loved being with him and we shared memories of Mom and Dad taking us out with blankets and pillows in the night, to watch fireworks together.  We are so blessed to be living in Canada.  I had a beautiful evening.

Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 042 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 040 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 038 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 036 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 035Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 013 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 034 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 030 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 001Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 004Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 027 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 023 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 022 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 018 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 016 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 014 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 010 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 008

Saturday Morning

The air was beautiful this morning.  After a hot cup of coffee and Max’s visit with the vet, we headed for Frank’s Flats.  Along the way, I noticed three other ‘pickers’, three men looking for revenue.  I also appreciate that there are some like-minded people who are, at the very least, keeping items like bottles and cans out of the landfill.  But, what I’d really like to see on a nice-weather-day, are families and individuals out picking litter.

I remember a long time ago, seeing these sorts of photos and documentaries and they changed the way I thought about my community environment.

Images like these ones brought to mind an interaction that I shared with students many times along the span of my thirty year teaching career.  If I asked a student to pick up a piece of litter off of the floor, the response was, “That isn’t my granola bar rapper.”  I got to thinking that we’re all like that.  We think that our responsibility to our environment is not to act as a collective.  (If I did not drop that waste, then I will judge the anonymous person who DID, but I will not pick it up.)  We need to, at some point, take positive movement forward as a collective.

It is fine and well to judge the citizens of China or other countries and continents, but we must begin to take a good look at our own nation, our cities and our neighbourhoods.  We use social media of every sort to stand in judgement of other places for their consumption and disgusting waste, but we are blinded by our own.

Just this morning, this is what I saw…

????????????????????“This is why I pay taxes.”

There’s a healthy attitude; don’t you think?

There is a very dangerous exercise that takes place because the status and amount of litter that is gathering along our road sides is becoming so grave.  There is no longer the person-power to pick all of this first and so the cities send out mowers to mow over the stuff, pulverizing it to the point that it becomes invisible to us, but ever so much more dangerous to our ecosystems.

I had to write from my experience today because I was just so broken by the sad state of a single park in a very huge city.  With head down, however, I found a man’s wallet today and dropped it off to the police station, where it was being claimed by its owner.  Little moments of goodness happen as I collect up one large bag of litter every single day.  I’m hoping that others might resolve to, on occasion, do the same.

Ending with a poem…and Max’s today-photograph.

Home

The young man,
arm around his girlfriend,
makes eye contact
and then steers
her in the opposite
direction.

Away from me.

An educator,
a professional,
I suppose I wore the cloak
of someone
living

on the margin.
A woman passes by quickly.
I bend down and pick
another Tim Horton’s cup.
Saturday morning latte.

Do you live in a house of brick?

When the wind stops blowing,
some can rebuild…
a home of cardboard,
pulling the Dorito bags and
the Granola packages in around them.

Tuck into endless
heaps of plastic bags.
Use them for a pillow.

The nesting ducks at the pond’s edge
can gracefully move
through water lined with
straws and cigarette packages.
The peregrines, when they return,
will fly, regal, over all.

It is all about someone else.
It is all about life being busy.
I’ve got only so much time on weekends.
The city needs to deal with the homeless.
The city needs to deal with the trash.
Give them fines.
Do something else.
If it doesn’t make you happy,
why are you doing it?

I’m not happy.  But, I’m going to do it.

DSC_2920??????????

??????????

User Groups: Community of Shawnessy, Bishop O’Byrne High School, South Fish Creek Recreational Center, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Jugo Juice, Wendy’s, Michael’s, Subway Sandwiches, Calgary Public Library

Today’s Pick offered up for Loretta Young, my beautiful friend.  Will always miss you, but my love is forever and travels with and around you.  Rest in Peace.

 

 

Helping Hands

It was a big day again for the City of Calgary, with the opening of the Barb Scott Memorial Park, the Inglewood Night Market and the Helping Hands Mural launch, celebrated along with artists, Mark Vazquez-Mackay, Hannah Poon and Ryan Delve and “Just Bill”. I opted to celebrate the Helping Hands mural and so glad that I did!  There was a sense of a beautiful community that hovered under the overpass on a very rainy day!  There were delicious DONUTS, offered up for free by Jelly Modern Donuts!  I was very proud of the creative participants from the create! program in the East Village who contributed to the mural.  I was happy to be witness to this historical moment for our city.

Directly from the Calgary Media Release, this background…

“(CALGARY, AB) – Plans to transform a small wall under the 5th Avenue flyover began when “Just Bill,” a resident of the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre (The DI), decided he wanted to add more colour to the neighbourhood by creating a public art installation everyone could enjoy and actually participate in creating.

Bill, a born and raised Albertan, has been homeless for the past 15 years. Two years ago on New Year’s Eve, Bill resolved to explore his lifelong dream of becoming an artist. At 50, he picked up a paintbrush for the first time, began reading books about famous artists and started running with a very creative and collaborative art crowd in Calgary.

“I credit Angel and Angela, the two young women who founded Market Collective here in Calgary, with giving me the courage to really follow my dream and start making my art a reality,” says Bill. “They encouraged me to showcase my work and make connections in the arts scene. It’s changed my life for the better.”

Inspired by some of the magnificent public artwork within East Village, such as Julian Opie’s LED installation “Promenade” and Ron Moppett’s mosaic tile wall “THESAMEWAYBETTER/READER,” Bill and three fellow artists decided they wanted to contribute to the emerging art scene of East Village by adding some colour under the 5th Avenue Flyover. Working with City of Calgary Roads and Centre City Planning & Implementation teams, they have imagined a mural called “This is our City:

Helping Hands,” which celebrates diversity, choice and community building and honours former DI Centre Executive Director Dermot Baldwin for his contributions to Calgary’s homeless.  Dermot Baldwin was present to the celebration yesterday.

This isn’t the first time a group of local artists has teamed up to bring life to an unconventional canvas. Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), the organization charged with redevelopment of the East Village, began a curated art program on the bridge abutments and storage sheds in 2009. Local photographer Derrick Besant debuted his black and white images on the bridge abutments three years ago, and just last summer a new group of Calgary artists called Light & Soul added “The Field Manual: a compendium of local influence” – a mural that spans 11 surfaces along Riverfront Ave.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

P1170135 P1170134 P1170155 P1170157 P1170161 P1170165 P1170167 P1170168 P1170170 P1170171 P1170174

 

The Nuisance Grounds

“WELCOME TO OUR NUISANCE GROUNDS”, as Margaret Laurence, writer of The Diviners, aptly named that hidden place where garbage is tossed, shoveled, moved around and buried.

Photo Credit: D'Arcy Norman 2009 Spy Hill Landfill

Photo Credit: D’Arcy Norman 2009 Spy Hill Landfill

 

There is no judgment in writing this piece because I contribute generously, as well, to the dump (now, politically-labeled the landfill), it’s just that every spring, I seem to churn the soil and dig our communal secrets up again. They present themselves on the surface in the form of litter.  The story of winter refuse surrounds us.  We drive by it, step over it, complain about it and then wait for someone else to pick it up.

I met a homeless gentleman named Frank, three years ago, when I started picking up litter at a location where I walked my dog, Max, daily (still do).  Frank was one of five people who thanked me during that period of time.  I had been picking up a full heaping bag of litter every day for three months and he would sit and drink a beer, roosting on one of the slopes, gazing over the whole of the pond at the center of the flats.  He would place his beer can in a a plastic grocery bag and tuck it under a tree and after the sixth day, his neatly tied package would be offered up for pennies, nickles and dimes.  He said good-bye to me on his last day, after months of watching me pick.  He was heading for Vancouver for the winter and he thanked me for ‘making the place look good’.  I told him that the place was going to be named after him, Frank’s Flats.  The name has stuck.

A jogger thanked me.  She put down her plastic water bottle while doing her laps around the pond and asked if I would please not throw it away.  She told me that she would be picking it up after her run.  She said that the place looked great, because of me.

A man, getting up in years, thanked me.  He was walking his old pooch on the trail.  He asked, “You’re not from the city, are you?”  I said…”I live here. I’m a teacher.”  He thanked me.

A high school student thanked me.  A couple had been sitting on a bench that over looks the pond.  It was after school and they were curled up and smooching.  As I approached, they reorganized themselves and while I picked up plastic slurpee cups and chip bags and straws and fast food packages, they observed.  As I stepped past their bench, the boy called out, “Heh, thank you.”

Debbie thanked me.  She even told me that when she walked her dog, Rosie, she was going to start bringing a little bag with her and do the same.  This was such a warm and wonderful offering, one of the best things that happened to me that first spring and summer.

And so it went…for three months; I was observed by many and because I was observed so closely, I became interested in reactions and fascinated by the isolation that became  my experience.  User group members of the facilities above the flats and my encounters with them became a social experiment.  I became fascinated in the huge chasm that came between me and ‘the others’, more than the distance between two complete strangers…bigger than that!

To this day,  when I pick garbage, it’s as though I become invisible.  I am, all of a sudden, from a different social status.  If I was a city worker, I would be given higher status.  But, I am not a city worker.  That’s why I began thinking that the ‘garbage man’ must fit into one of Carl Jung’s archetypes, most likely a part of ‘the Shadow’.

There are all kinds of volunteers operating in the City of Calgary, picking up that packaging and advertisement that we unleash on to the wind, not giving a care about where it all blows, as long as it’s out of our sight.  If my readers are familiar with Christie in Laurence’s The Diviners or Mr. Jonas, the junkman in Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, you will realize the greater archetype that lives with the ‘garbage man’ or even the ‘janitor’, now labeled a caretaker.  Below, a spark note excerpt about Mr. Jonas, Chapter 35, Dandelion Wine.

“Mr. Jonas, the junkman, comes into town with his horse Ned and his wagon. He sings as he rides, and people line the streets to look at his goods. No ordinary junkman, Mr. Jonas had lived as a businessman in Chicago but decided to spend the rest of his life making sure that one area of town got a chance to take what the other side considered junk. He traveled through the town and only asked that people took something that they truly wanted, something they would use. Then the adults of children would put something of their own that they no longer had any use for in the wagon, and Mr. Jonas would be on his way, singing.”

From Christie, in The Diviners,

“By their garbage shall ye know them,”…The ones who have to wrap the rye bottles in old newspapers to try to hide the fact that there are so goddamn many of them. The ones who have fourteen thousand pill bottles the week, now. The ones who will be chucking out the family albums the moment the grandmother goes to her ancestors. The ones who’re afraid to flush the safes down the john, them with flush johns, in case it plugs the plumbing and Melrose Maclaren has to come and get it unstuck and might see, as if Mel would give the hundredth part of a damn. I tell you, girl, they’re close as clams and twice as brainless. I see what they throw out, and I don’t care a shit, but they think I do, so that’s why they cannot look at me….”

Similarly, Father Kevin Tumback used to tell a story on Ash Wednesday about a Rag Man…a metaphor for Jesus who traded parts of himself for the wounded parts of others.

I was just thinking, as another season of litter-picking faces the volunteers in our Calgary communities, it would be an awesome thing if we all became a bit more conscious…aware of our communications with those who are picking up our communal waste.  It would be a wondrous thing if the ‘garbage men’ were valued and appreciated.  It would also be a spectacular thing if we elevated ourselves as a collective, more conscious consumers, more attentive stewards.

You are welcome to join me at Frank’s Flats.  You only need to bring gloves.  Be in touch.

May 10, 2014 Frank's Flats

May 10, 2014 Frank’s Flats

May 16, 2014

May 16, 2014

P1160774

Amazed about the orange bag filled with litter…someone else picked today!

P1160719 P1160775

 

Brutal Bus Tour With Esker Foundation

My 1,555th post…seems significant, given that I was born in 1955…not sure why!  Laughing about this!  I’ve been a blogger since 2005, my first post written on September 12, 2005 and titled, In the Classroom.

I didn’t know a single soul on the bus tour, but loved the anonymity of the event on that particularly dark and cold Calgary day.  Yet again, snow.  I enjoyed loading on to the bus with others and rocked gently while listening to a very interesting narrative about the Brutalist architecture that appears throughout the city of Calgary, unbeknownst, I’m certain, to very many Calgarians.

Hosted by Cynthia Klaassen, the President of the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society and Darryl Cariou, the Senior Heritage Planner for the City of Calgary, this guided tour was both fascinating and relaxing.  I enjoyed seeing both premier and lesser-known Brutalist sites, including some of the most controversial and nationally acclaimed.  It was fascinating to enter into the Science Center, a place where I had toured many times with my children when they were younger.  Once again, I felt a huge link to the University of Lethbridge, designed by Arthur Erickson and completed in the early 1970s.  I attended the university from 1973 until 1977 and lived in the main building residence on the fourth floor for two of those years.  Playing guitar in the abandoned stair wells and conversing with friends into the wee hours of morning on the main concourse are memories that stick with me.  The smell of concrete is not something everyone can easily get used to, but for me, a fond memory.

When we arrived back at the Esker, I purchased my 10.00 pkg of postcards and headed for the Blackfoot Diner, where I enjoyed a late afternoon breakfast, while reading over the descriptors on the backside of the postcards.  Another great day!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

P1160378 P1160382 P1160395 P1160396 P1160397 P1160398 P1160399 P1160405 P1160408 P1160411 P1160413 P1160419 P1160425 P1160428 P1160429 P1160430 P1160434 P1160440 P1160442 P1160443 P1160445 P1160447 P1160448 P1160449 P1160451P1160453P1160454P1160455P1160503P1160504P1160505P1160507P1160508P1160509P1160510P1160511P1160512P1160513P1160514P1160515P1160516P1160517P1160518P1160519P1160520P1160521