July 1, 2019 Family Reunion

I feel sorry that I didn’t spend my usual time grabbing some formal family portraits on the 1st of July, but I have some sweet photographs, regardless.  I took some at the elders’ table, but ladies, none of you would want me to post the photos capturing you chowing down on all of that great food.  Right?

Thanks and blessings to my wonderful family.  Margy you provided such a beautiful space for us to celebrate and Barb, the food was remarkable, as is always!  Now I know that our traditional pasta salad is called Dill Pickle salad.  How did I miss that all of these years?

Barbara, TJ and Sadie Witbeck

This post will be heavy on the images and sketchy on the reflections.  However, let it be known that yet another reunion weekend has left me feeling super nostalgic and grateful.

June 30th meant the highway drive on roads lined with Canola fields and big blue sky.  We set up our tent and relished an evening of magic, song and love, catching the early arriving family and those who live in Raymond, Alberta already.

Navy, or as others call her, Bean…daughter to Mack and Kecia…grand daughter to Margy Witbeck. New sketchbook. New markers.

Cousins, Sutton and Maverick.

Went to check out the beautiful home that Jess and Penny have been building…and met these two along the way.

Beautiful Maisey Witbeck and her gorgeous daughter, Bowie.

After hanging out and loving the beautiful space, we decided to go up to the Lodge and see Auntie Eleanor.  No photographs of her, but we hung out, looked out a family album and then left the family room, for her bedroom so that we could pour over old mementos.  Among them, these treasures.  The problem with taking photos of photos is the glaring and reflection.  But, these are nice to have.

Eleanor Moors and Ted Witbeck, on their wedding day.

Little baby, Laura Lee. I hope that I will receive corrections in spelling where I make mistakes.

My little cousin, Teddy (Thump) with a baby goat.

Laura Lee is in the middle and that would be cousin, Barbara on the right. Is that Cecil on the left? Help me, peeps.

Laura Lee, Jo, Barbara and Cecil.

Auntie Eleanor said that these birds were drawn by her Dad for her, so art done by my Grandfather John Moors.

I loved our little visit.  Back at Margy’s, the tent photo, a wonderful family dinner of pulled pork and potato salad and then, the big bonfire, with great music and lots of singing.

My photo of beautiful baby Bowie on the trampoline.

I will include our playlist of songs as soon as Heidi sends them on to me.  I don’t think it was until about 1:00 in the morning that we all made our way to bed for the night.  What an exceptional day!!  I loved being with my cousin, Margy, again!  Loved sharing her grand babies with her and really was grateful to share this day with my son.

Photograph credit here, Maisey.

Photo Credit: Maisey Hicken campfire snuggles

Next day = Parade Day.

Got ice.  Taped red and white checker table clothes to tables.  Grabbed some coffee from the gas station.  Ready to roll!  Erin, Doug, Linda and Steven joined the family on the parade route and the fun began.

Parade opening…four Mounties and the colour guard. It’s the same every year!

John (my nephew), Douglas (son-in-law) and James (son)

Steven (Kath’s grandson) and Erin (Kath’s daughter)

Cecil (my cousin) little Lily (Cecil and Dianne’s grand daughter) and Dianne

Auntie Ruth and Danny

 

Auntie Jackie and Auntie Ruth

Nephews Levi and Greg are in this photo. (Recently learned that we refer to our cousins’ children as Nieces and Nephews.) WHOOP! Congratulations on your entry in this year’s parade.

Back to the house for our meal sharing and then the program and candy toss.

Dinner: Traditional Pulled Pork, home cooked beans, dill pickle salad, coleslaw and Caesar salad. No close ups of plates this year as I was too busy taking photos of my grand son.

Chalk activity as designed by Eva.

Chalk drawing, thanks to Eva.

The hostess with the most-est up on the platform, Margy. My beautiful Auntie Eleanor checking out the swaths of people.

Sadie playing the ukelele during the family program. Somewhere Over the Rainbow Cousin Clayton, holding the Mic.

Father and son playing a bit in the sand.

My family in the family program…singing Jackson. So good. I had a tear here.


The candy toss for children ages 0-4.  Thanks, Penny!
The candy toss, ages 4 to adult…much smaller crowd this year allowed for different age categories from usual.  No photos of adult category because I was filling my shirt at the time.

I have unbelievable love for my family and feel very nostalgic after a weekend in southern Alberta.  I’m posting a few family reunion memories here.  Please, family, if you see photographs that you don’t have, just right click and save them to your archives.  I love you all!

Be safe this summer!

 

 

Generations: 50 Years of Art at the University and Beyond

I strongly recommend your attendance at the Nickle Galleries for Generations; 50 Years of Art at the University and Beyond. Today, I decided to attend Nickle at Noon, a wander through the exhibit in the company of Mary-Beth Laviolette.  I made my way to the campus early enough to consume the most wonderful Reuben sandwich made by the peeps of the Red Wagon Diner food truck.  There was still a bite to the air, but now the sun is out and it is a magical autumn day.

Curated by  Mary-Beth Laviolette, the exhibit began with a variety of work from the Founders of the University Art Department, spanning every decade up to the present day.  An extensive body of work gives a very positive sense of the production and the mentoring within this powerhouse visual arts community of ours.  It all made me feel so proud.

Mary-Beth was funny and smart and shared with a few more than 20 attendees, the interesting narratives behind most of the work that included sculpture, paintings, drawings, fabric arts, mixed media and print making.  I’ve documented a few of the things that really amused or intrigued me.  The tour was beautifully paced, educational and thorough.

Our city is loaded with the most wonderful opportunities.  I hope my readers will get out to take advantage of this one.  DaveandJen’s A Natural History of Islands opens tonight, from 5 until 8, in the upstairs gallery.  I will be holding off on this one until the Artists’ tour on November 24.  There are a ton of events going on in the city right now and through Saturday.  Don’t spread yourself too thin, but it is definitely not a Netflix weekend.  (oh…do what you want!)

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Work by Nicholas Roukes, writer of Design and Art Synectics...two books that greatly influenced my teaching.

Work by Nicholas Roukes, writer of Design and Art Synectics…two books that greatly influenced my teaching.

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Peter Deacon and Marcia Perkins

Peter Deacon and Marcia Perkins

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Amy Gogarty...this one just captivated me!

Amy Gogarty…this one just captivated me!

Joane Cardinal-Schubert

Joane Cardinal-Schubert

Mary Scott and Jed Irwin

Mary Scott and Jed Irwin

Mary Scott

Mary Scott

John Will

John Will

Beautiful portrait of John Will in Ballpoint Pen and Sharpie Marker by Aurora Landin

Beautiful portrait of John Will in Ballpoint Pen and Sharpie Marker by Aurora Landin

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Rita McKeough Mitten Series

Rita McKeough Mitten Series

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Bill Laing

Bill Laing

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Dang...something is on my lens!

Dang…something is on my lens!

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Artist, Bev Tosh, speaks a little about her War Bride series.

Artist, Bev Tosh, speaks a little about her War Bride series.

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Marigold Santos

Marigold Santos

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Dulcie Foo Fat

Dulcie Foo Fat

 

 

Water Spiral

On September 27, in the Wildwood Community Garden, you can celebrate the official launch of the Water Spiral at their 2nd Community Harvest Festival.  I’m not kidding you, I tripped out  to this community all the way from mine in the deep southeast of Calgary, in McKenzie Lake, just to see what wonders an eco sensitive community and two artists might create together.  What I found, amazed.

My epic journey was on June 7 and a lot has happened since then!

Wildwood Harvest Festival

While I can’t possibly write, this morning, about the entire process, I can write about the wondrous day that I walked through the garden.  What I saw, captured my heart.

On June 7th, the Wildwood Community hosted the Water Spiral Community Workshop.  It was with open arms that Michelena Bamford greeted my cousin, Margy, and me upon our arrival.  Lane Shordee, at the time, was quietly engaged with a young man who was doing something inventive with wood.  If you have opportunity to meet Michelena and Lane, you will see their humility first and then you will notice their greatness.  Both are actively engaged artists, but with a twist.  They both have a solid connection with sustainability and the earth.  Surprisingly, I connected with both first at the Gorilla House.

You can read about Michelena’s accomplishment by hooking into the Wolf Willow Studio website, some of which describes school mosaic mural construction and installation, public art projects and seasonal wreath construction.  Lane’s work is very diverse and his projects include important contributions to both the Wreck City and Phantom Wing.  They are both inspiring creatives in the City of Calgary and the fact that they got together and successfully pitched the Water Spiral project was a blessing.  For the complete process, hook in with the Water Spiral Facebook link that will take you through this labour of love from start to finish.  It is such an amazing story.

The smell of wood filled the air…the sound of hand saws and hammers to nails…children throwing water at one another…fathers with children, inventing…mothers, pushing strollers, exploring, chatting, meeting other mothers.  All was magic.

Wildwood5Margy and I first slipped into a trailer (Michelena’s family vacation mobile) to meet with Canadian Art Foundation Writing Award recipient, Jenna Swift.  She was inspiring written intentions and blessings that would later be etched onto the underground cistern of the Water Spiral.  Given the fact that brevity is not my strong point, I felt that writing was a way to release my intentions; it didn’t matter if my words were to land onto a cistern.  For me, the words were permanently etched on my heart.

I view myself as a ‘river’ woman..and so, I am completely enamoured with any project that has to do with sustainability, protection and responsible use of water.  This is how the Water Spiral works.

Paint wsI wrote of my connections with the protagonist Morag, a writer, who divines a river in Margaret Laurence’s novel, The Diviners.  For me, as Laurence eloquently captures, the river of our lives flows both ways.  We can not help but be connected.  We are fluid.  We breath one another in all day, every day.  We need to be responsible for one another; for the air, the land and the most precious commodity, water.  I wrote something about all of that on the blue-green piece of paper before me (generously donated by The Social Page).

Wildwood6From the trailer, Margy and I did not contribute in construction, but we wandered the grounds, dodged water spray and children playing, munched on apples provided by the Apple Lady, spent time sitting in the sunshine observing, and then went to explore the lay out of the gardens, just newly planted, but evidently, organized by a community of people who enjoy an aesthetic, as well as a love for the land.

Wildwood3The day was, as I call most days, a blessing-day!  I was so taken by  community members who welcomed us, chatted with us and encouraged us to seek out involvement and initiative in our own communities.

Wildwood Map There is much in Calgary to be grateful for and because we are physically, such a sprawl, we need to go outside of our own part of the city to connect with and enjoy the company and vision of other Calgarians.  It will be a wonderful thing to see the completed project and to enjoy the evidence of a great garden harvest in the Wildwood Community!

Wildwood1 Wildwood2I hope that my readers will find opportunity to attend the celebration of the Water Spiral on the 27th of September.  It will delight you…inspire you and give you optimism for a healthier future.

Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood

Before my recent trip east, I had finished another book by Margaret Atwood…so, before I place it on the bookshelf, I thought I’d make a few notes.  This book, Moral Disorder, is a collection of interconnected narratives that span a number of decades.  Having heard Margaret Atwood speak at this year’s teacher’s convention, I feel that, again, some of the settings and characters are influenced by the writer’s own childhood and family.

It seems that I am writing on particular themes as I post today, among them, the idea of life snapshots.  This book, similarly, captures and sustains the experiences of childhood, parenting, celebration and grief through the development of various voices around Tig and Nell.  The context for me, demanded empathy, given a sense of the same collective nostalgia and life landmarks apparent in The History of Love.  The following excerpt, found here.

Dealing with her aging mother, watching her look at her photographs for the last time as she sinks into blindness, trying to tease her into remembering pieces of her past, Nell seems to be pre-visioning her own future. Though there is nothing overtly supernatural in this collection, the author has the art of weaving the teller into the tale and blending the characters into one another’s lives so that the end result is something magical.”

A.S. Byatt, in 2006, writes for the Washington Post, Times of Her Life.

“We are such stuff/ As dreams are made on,” says Prospero, “And our little life/ Is rounded with a sleep.” Moral Disorder is cunningly constructed of the vagaries of memory and is rounded by Alzheimer’s and forgetting. Nell, Tig and Nell’s sister test themselves for failing memory as they ruefully allow for failing knees. There is a moving, evocative story of Nell’s father, after a stroke, inhabiting a story Nell reads to him, of three explorers disastrously astray in Labrador. There is a plain and very sad tale of Nell’s mother, reduced to immobility, her memories slipping away, though living on, briefly, in a different form, in Nell’s own memories. The mother dreams a repeating dream of being lost, and no one, no thing, being there, only the empty sky and a logjam she tries to climb. This tale, like all these tales, is both grim and delightful, because it is triumphantly understood and excellently written. ·

 

A.S. Byatt is a writer of novels and stories. Her latest book is “Little Black Book Of Stories.”

MoralDisorder

 

 

 

 

Memoir

From Harvey River: a memoir of my mother and her people

A recent ‘read’, A Memoir of my Mother and Her People From Harvey River by Lorna Goodison, gives a beautiful account of a writer-poet who journeys through several generations through to the present.  From the inside jacket…

“When Doris Harvey’s English grandfather, William Harvey, discovers a clearing at the end of a path cut by the feet of those running from slavery, he gives his name to what will become his family’s home for generations.”

Given my interest in ancestry and my search for the narratives of my own family, the structure of Lorna Goodison’s account was of tremendous interest to me.  I’ve toyed with the idea of writing my own memoir at some point, but am sometimes uncertain about how to protect the ‘living’ from the honesty of a family’s beginnings.  Goodison is successful, I think.  An excellent book for those who enjoy historical accounts.

I would like to include here, a poem by Lorna Goodison.  This poem found on this site.

Guinea Woman by Lorna Goodison 

Another from the Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry.

Guinea Woman
By Lorna Goodison

Great grandmother
was a guinea woman
wide eyes turning
the corners of her face
could see behind her
her cheeks dusted with
a fine rash of jet-bead wars
that itched when the rain set up.

Great grandmother’s waistline
the span of a headman’s hand
slender and tall like a cane stalk
with a guinea woman’s antelope-quick walk
and when she paused
her gaze would look to sea
her profile fine like some obverse impression
on a guinea coin from royal memory.

It seems her fate was anchored
in the unfathomable sea
for her great grandmother caught the eye of a sailor
whose ship sailed without him from Lucea harbor.
Great grandmother’s royal scent of
cinnamon and scallions
drew the sailor up the straits of Africa,
the evidence my blue-eyed grandmother
the first Mulatta,
taken into backra’s household
and covered with his name.
They forbade great grandmother’s
guinea woman presence
they washed away her scent of
cinnamon and scallions
controlled the child’s antelope walk
and called her uprisings rebellions.

But, great grandmother
I see your features blood dark
appearing
in the children of each new
breeding
the high yellow brown
is darkening down.
Listen, children
it’s great grandmother’s turn.