Two Ladies and a Little Boy Go to the Lake July 23, 2019

As Steven’s second birthday comes around, I realize that not only is my house needing a good clean, but I’m really behind in my archives.  I’m not writing as frequently.  I’m at a stand still in a lot of ways. I’m spending hours and hours at the river’s edge.  Here it is August 9, 2019 already and summer is whizzing by!  I will always look back on this staycation with gratitude.  I’ve been through a lot this past year and even some days during summer, I have experienced hardship and sadness as traumatic events lose their crinkles in my heart and flatten out where I can see them.  One after another, the memories of dark times are, in fact, smoothed out and my life of nature, art, friendship and love are able to create a blanket over them.

So, it was a fine morning on July 23, when Linda prepared us a nice picnic lunch and we three headed to the lake.  This is a year of construction vehicles and diggers and such marvelous observations at the neighbourhood school and on every roadway.  Even the back alley holds its charm.

I am grateful for Linda’s friendship and I treasure every special moment I am able to observe the world with my grandson.  Summer 2019

At the river, the family of Bald Eagles is observed with great respect and awe.  I view these with such love and feel that the narrative of this little family fills a hole in me, a cliche maybe, but I feel it is so and I sort of understand now why people use it.  Otherwise, it’s difficult to articulate what goes on when you lose someone special.

While of very poor quality because of distance, I post the photos of the two adults side by side here because these two are the last two photographs I captured of Mr. and Mrs. together.  This is their favourite perch.

Sunday in Parkland Community

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

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

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

New siding, textures and colour for the building.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of The Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

This is a quick post.  I read Michael Finkel’s book, The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit in two evenings…it was more an experience, than anything.  Written about Christopher Knight, a man who at the age of twenty slipped into a thick wood and didn’t have a conversation with another human being for thirty years, this book is an unusual narrative, with moments of real revelation. I was fascinated by the story and throughout, couldn’t really come to terms with a mixture of emotions…revulsion, sadness, envy or curiosity (of the ambulance-chaser sort).

Honestly, I think it is the most interesting thing that Christopher Knight and the family that knew him, opened up to Michael Finkel enough for him to collect the content for this writing.  So, the process of research and respectful communication of this content was just as fascinating to me and generously included.

I had read, a long time ago, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.  I suppose one could make comparisons between the two books.  However, I think that Christopher Knight’s methodical approach to stealing food and supplies is what, ultimately, kept him alive over decades and in the end, led to his capture.  Enduring isolation of the northern Alaskan wilderness, Christopher Johnson McCandless was in true ‘survival’ mode, leading to the eventual and mysterious loss of his life, probably four months after disappearing.  It was obvious, in reading both, that there were motivations to disconnect from society, but both men did that in very different ways.

From Goodreads, I’ve lifted these words.  I like that Michael Finkel responded to the reader…

I haven’t read this but not likely to. The mere fact that he stole from people that worked hard for what they had…the fact that for 27 years this community in Maine lived in fear because of these unsolved burglaries that he committed is beyond shameful. He didn’t live off the grid. He lived off of other people who worked for a living. “He survived by his wits and courage” ?? No. I don’t think so.

Response from Michael Finkel: “Hello. I’m the journalist who wrote this book. Chris Knight — the hermit — is not portrayed, not for a page, as some sort of angelic hero in the book. Knight himself did not want to be portrayed that way. He confessed to 1,000 break-ins, one of the most extensive burglary cases in U.S. history. He tormented people. But — he also never physically harmed anyone, never carried a weapon, never stole anything of great monetary value, never shattered a window or kicked down a door. He had a wildly unusual idea for how to live, and he lived in a way radically different from any other human you will ever encounter, and he has an awesome and daunting brain — he is, I feel certain, a genius — and he has insights into modern society and solitude and the meaning of life that you will find nowhere else. “Take the good with the bad,” Knight told me, when speaking of how he should be portrayed in my book, and I did. I firmly believe that in the good are some incredible insights, and in the bad is a fascinating true-crime tale. And please note — Knight is receiving no money from this project. A summer camp for children and adults with mental and physical disabilities (The Pine Tree Camp), from which Knight frequently stole, will instead be receiving donations.”

Having read the book, I am glad to encounter this response, as it does represent the book very well.   I felt, at times, compassion for Christopher Knight, wondering what feelings and experiences within him, motivated such a disappearance and disconnect from his life.

As Calgary suffers such a bitterly cold winter, I also truly engaged the stories of survival that involved planning and revising a nest/camp.  The description of winter, alone, is enough to keep me from ever wondering about doing this same thing!

Christopher Knight told this story, as much as Michael Finkel did.  If my readers enjoy adventure or are taken by very unusual characters, this is the book for you.

It was good to meet Michael Finkel and to have him expand upon the narratives that connected him to his character.

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All That Jazz!

Words spill out.  I use the word beautiful a lot!  I mention, too often, how grateful I am or how blessed I feel.  Writing helps me to take pause, to slow down and to take real measure of how truly fortunate I am. I seem to be a more positive person when I write. However, in that part of life away from the keyboard, I can become anxious, worrying and temperamental. I thought about this last evening, after an experience of improvisational jazz music that was both rich and compelling.  I’ll make a connection between words and jazz in a moment.  Readers, bear with me.

I always think of Wendy as a connector, but more than that, a dear friend.  Out of the blue, she invited me to join her for an early evening of improvised jazz.  The musicians, percussionist Robin Tufts and trumpet player, Andre Wickenheiser, created such magic in musical dialogue, that tonight, even as I write, I get chills.

We entered through the front doorway of the ‘yellow house’ and stepped into the warm light of new friendship.  Everywhere, interesting objects told stories of inspiration and the arts. Wonderful aromas wafted from the kitchen.  Introductions were made and Pat steered us toward the two pots of stock heating on the stove top.  Hanna turned meatballs in the fry pan.  I began chopping up beets on a wooden cutting board and the conversations seamlessly wove over and under and through the lovely gathering.  The only time the words stopped, was at the invitation to gather for the music.

Words stopped.

Taken from page 107

The Power of Silence: Silent Communication in Daily Life By Colum Kenny

What was about to take place was the ‘touching of a mystery’…a silencing of words.

Andre and Robin took their seats before us and Robin invoked a minute of silence.  It was heart breaking, the silence was so beautiful.  And…out of that silence was born the most remarkable improvised jazz sound.  I was transported or emptied or released…I haven’t decided which.  I relaxed.  Words left me.  I didn’t ‘think’.  It was a wonderful experience to focus on a weeping trumpet, a laughing trumpet…a percussive response; a light bell, wood, metal, skin….a cry, a gasp, a retort.  So complex, and yet so immediate and natural.

I was a little disappointed when the music came to a peaceful close.  Words, again, flowed throughout the room.  Conversations. Reactions. Circular sifting through spaces, hot bowls of soup…bread…desserts.  A glass of wine.  It was a genuinely ‘magical’ experience.

Thank you to Pat,  Robin and Andre.  It was good to meet you; Hanna and Roberta, Jaqueline, Rayne, Claudia…

Wendy, as always, thank you.

 

 

Mosaic 101

Wendy Lees is a vital leader in our visual arts community here in Calgary.  She has spearheaded so many wonderful projects and visual arts tours, either through making, leading or inspiring.  I’ve treasured her friendship for years now and I’m so grateful for our meeting.  I was blessed, yesterday, to have the opportunity to learn the first basic baby steps to mosaic art, in the comfort and organized studio that is her own home.  What a fun experience and what great people!

Wendy took on the magical practice of  create! in the East Village some time ago…and through that program, I met some of the most authentic and beautiful people of a lifetime.  Gladly, a few of them were able to attend the Mosaic 101 workshop, so renewing those relationships was an additional blessing!

If you have opportunity to participate in or attend any of the programs that Wendy advertises, DO!  Such fun!  It’s not just about techniques and skill development…it’s about community and connection!

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Love the focus and concentration that surfaced during the program!

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Laurel Crescent Little Free Library and Little Gallery OPENING DAY!

I always feel proud of Wendy Lees and the magical events/experiences she creates. Today was no exception as the Laurel Crescent Little Free Library and Little Gallery enjoyed its opening with a large draw of neighbours, family and friends.  The festivities were marked with warm buttered popcorn, lemonade, heart shaped cookies, painting, bubbles and chalk drawing.  What an amazing community feel!

It was great to see the MLA for Calgary-Glenmore, Ms. Anam Kazim (ND) and to see her engaged and genuine support, as well as Lakeview Community Association’s President, Geoffrey Vanderburg out and about, meeting the neighbours on Laurel Crescent.

I brought my contribution to the Little Library since this was a bit of an historical event for the neighbourhood.

Glad to celebrate this event with you, dear friend, and congratulations.  We honour what you do for community building throughout Calgary, Wendy.

Rumble House: May 11, 2016

The car got a detailing.  I purchased a new soft-walled kennel for Max.  I made a nice grilled cheese sandwich and then I headed down for a two hour Rumble.  It was good to take out the paint box and hang with these beautiful people.

Painting dissolves the forms at its command, or tends to; it melts them into color. Drawing, on the other hand, goes about resolving forms, giving edge and essence to things. To see shapes clearly, one outlines them–whether on paper or in the mind. Therefore, Michelangelo, a profoundly cultivated man, called drawing the basis of all knowledge whatsoever.

Just some photos…and grateful to Ralph and Edgar for purchasing my piece at auction.
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This moment, this being, is the thing. My life is all life in little. The moon, the planets, pass around my heart. The sun, now hidden by the round bulk of this earth, shines into me, and in me as well. The gods and the angels both good and bad are like the hairs of my own head, seemingly numberless, and growing from within. I people the cosmos from myself, it seems, yet what am I? A puff of dust, or a brief coughing spell, with emptiness and silence to follow.  Alexander Eliot

The Tinier Gallery

This afternoon, in the sunshine and under a blue sky, I attended EMBEDDED MEMORIES by Solveig Agecoutay at the Tinier Gallery in Bridgeland.  Hosted by Carmen and Mark, this was a beautiful celebration of art and community.  What a relaxing and lovely time!  The piece itself was very nostalgic for me…bringing to memory back yard swing sets and macrame owls.  I had not met Solveig before and I think that this particular gallery allows us opportunity to meet with and mingle with new people and friend-artists.  As one gentleman stepped ‘into’ the gallery space, he professed, “I’m not saying that I’ll understand this…but…”  This and cat stories made me smile.  Congratulations on a dreamy event.  The crunch of carrots and perfect ice tea were refreshing!  The connection, a blessing.

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Rumble House: September 2, 2015

Having a home and being connected with people is very important to ‘who we are’.  With recent news of 71 migrants dying on an Austrian motorway, 200 refugees drowning off of the coast of Libya and the horrific situation off of the coast of Greece, it is again, time to think about global responsibility and inclusion.  Interestingly at this time there is even a renewed conversation about building a wall between Canada and the United States.  So much of our global context is based on fear, judgement and exclusion.  All human beings require the basic needs that come with belonging.  It is time for belonging to be a focus.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  Even in our Rumble House community, we are thinking about what it means to belong.  We gather in this tiny venue, and share a powerful sense of being a part of something. We accept one another, laugh with one another and talk about extraordinary things.  When one of our community is in pain, we support and uplift.  It is interesting that art is our connective tissue.

Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 061 Last night, I didn’t participate in the auction…my piece was largely incomplete.  One of the themes of the night was ‘Take Down the Walls’.

Take down the walls.
That is, after all, the whole point.
You do not know what will happen if you take down the walls; you cannot see through to the other side, don’t know whether it will bring freedom or ruin, resolution or chaos. It might be paradise or destruction.
Take down the walls.
Otherwise you must live closely, in fear, building barricades against the unknown, saying prayers against the darkness, speaking verse of terror and tightness.
Otherwise you may never know hell; but you will not find heaven, either. You will not know fresh air and flying.
All of you, wherever you are: in your spiny cities, or your one bump towns. Find it, the hard stuff, the links of metal and chink, the fragments of stone filling you stomach.
And pull, and pull, and pull.
I will make a pact with you: I will do it if you will do it, always and forever.
Take down the walls.”

Lauren Oliver, Requiem

I painted from a little reference.

British Home Children Rough Crossings 2010

Kath's Canon, September 2, 2015 Rumble House 005Sketch in progress…

Kath's Canon, September 2, 2015 Rumble House 003I’m very-much interested in research and the production of a body of work based on the historical plight of British Home Children.  My readers may or may not think that this is a part of history to reflect upon…it doesn’t matter.  It is relevant because it is a part of MY story.  I am a descendant and find this story on my family line, along with so many other diverse stories, an important one.  From the Library and Archives of Canada….this.

“Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from Great Britain during the child emigration movement. Motivated by social and economic forces, churches and philanthropic organizations sent orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada. Many believed that these children would have a better chance for a healthy, moral life in rural Canada, where families welcomed them as a source of cheap farm labour and domestic help.

After arriving by ship, the children were sent to distributing homes, such as Fairknowe in Brockville, and then sent on to farmers in the area. Although many of the children were poorly treated and abused, others experienced a better life here than if they had remained in the urban slums of England. Many served with the Canadian and British Forces during both World Wars.”

As we enjoy our sense of community and security, we need to remember that we are blessed.  We must remember that colonization impacted the homes of others and be respectful of that impact always.  We must remember that our security has been built upon the backs of hard workers and indentured workers, as well as slaves and upon the opportunities that were and are afforded us as a part of democracy.  These gifts must never be taken for granted.

Here are some photographs of an awesome community of artists who are doing a great job supporting one another through various life journeys.

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Bird Tails From the Hood #2

Originally, Mr. was widowed.  I had seen the female and male sparrows very early in the spring, but after one of two brutal snow storms, the female disappeared. He remained at the nest, lamenting and frustrated, crying out for days and then weeks, trying to attract a new lady friend.  Finally, the courting began and I started to see the new little Mrs. coming and going.

Well, it now appears as though she is managing the nest on her own.  This, I think, leaves her vulnerable as she races in the heat, back and forth from the feeder, tending her little ones who now make their presence known redundantly through the day and into the evening.  Mother sometimes appears to be panting at the nest opening.  I haven’t seen Mr. around for over a week.

But, I HAVE seen the aunties…a whole string of females on my eves trough, that every time Mrs. leaves the nest untended, take turns flying in to look at the youngsters.  I’m wondering if this, in nature, is a malicious thing or if they are curious on-lookers.  I just feel very sad for how busy Mrs. is and wonder how she will manage to see her way through this time.

Just this morning, my daughter and I had our first siting of one of the young birds.  I would love to place a trampoline under the vent location because in the past, we’ve always lost one or two to their fall onto the hard ground below.

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