Gramma Reads With Royalty!

I didn’t wake until 10!! What??? The dreams that I had in the wee hours of morning were, again, of brother, but they were earlier dreams, back three months in the weeks at hospital, so less traumatic than recent dreams. That’s good, isn’t it? I poured out of bed and clicked my heels together! I had slept!! WHOOP! Whoop! But, QUICK! QUICK! This was the day that Gramma and Steven and Steven’s Mommy and Daddy were heading for the Seton Public Library, eager to enjoy the program, “Reading With Royalty”! The program would begin at eleven and there was still Max to get out and coffee to be had!

Program Description:

Reading With Royalty

Celebrate inclusion and diversity with our new glamorous family-friendly storytime program, led by local drag queen and king performers. Supported by ATB Financial.

Audience: All Ages – Ages up to 5

Gramma was picked up on a morning that felt oppressive, wet, chilly and grey! But how to turn a frown upside down? I was so happy to see my family and especially pleased to be sitting in the back seat with Steven who was nestled under his fuzzy blanket and constantly taking in his world through the windows, through the mirror and through the eyes of his Gramma. Together, we were about to be captivated by the magic of Seton.

Upon entry, the first piece of wonder was found in the huge YMCA swimming pool. What an amazing facility. Steven was in awe!

Gramma was captivated by the sculptural elements and a sense of flight throughout the facility! While I didn’t capture very strong images because of the back light and my lack of knowledge about the camera, I recommend to my readers that they take their own field trip to the venue and enjoy. Bird lovers, be surprised and fall in love with the themes.  Christopher Collins was the talented sculptor who created the birds.  I hope you will enjoy his imagery as they are so much more specific.

As we entered the Seton Public Library, we took in the aesthetic and the excitement first, but quickly discovered the helicopter!  The helicoptor carried on with the theme of flight, as did the suspended pinwheels.  What a glorious space and what a magical investigation for children who find these amazing flying machines in stories that they read!

It wasn’t long and we began to gather for the special event, “Reading With Royalty”.  There was excitement in the air!  The Seton Public Library offers graduated seating in amphitheater style for gatherings such as this one.

Not new to the Calgary Public Library children’s programming and Rhyme Time, our family nestled into a spot sandwiched between other grandmothers and their grandchildren and people who never miss Rhyme Time with their children.  Some were talking about the Fish Creek location…others, the Quarry Park location.  If you haven’t attended one of these programs, this Grandmother highly recommends! 

Today the MC was Tara and she did an amazing job!  My daughter and I were both moved by the land acknowledgement that was done, in such a way that children might understand.  We were prompted by verse to touch the land…as the acknowledgement was given and it was very special.  Tara then balanced the program of stories read by local Drag Performers and verses that were sung and acted out by the children.  This way the children were better able to pay attention to the two stories that were presented enthusiastically by L J Nailz and Oiliver Twirl.

Sending a link, here, to the kid’s book list that honours themes of inclusivity, creativity, acceptance and pride through the program, Reading With Royalty.

Oliver Twirl: drag performer and enthusiastic reader of the book, The Princess and the Pony

The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton is a story that naturally breaks down assumptions.  It explores that sometimes warriors just need cozy sweaters.  There were laughs that came up throughout the reading of this book, especially with the use of the word, ‘fart’.  What is toughness, anyway?  What does it mean to be a warrior?

Tara, MC on behalf of the Seton Public Library

L J Nailz reads Quit Calling Me Monster

 Quit Calling Me a Monster by Jory John and illustrated by Bob Shea supports children in their identities and their unique personalities.  It presses up against the act of labeling or naming.  It encourages ‘excellent manners’.

Steven is blessed to have this woman as his Mommy.

During the conclusion of the program, the performers were asked about their favourite music and what things they enjoy doing.  Oliver Twirl shared the fun of playing around with both masculine and feminine clothing.  Their favourite music included bubbly theater pieces and punk rock.  

To end, three large Dress Up trunks were brought out and children spent the next part of the morning playing dress up and pretending.  It was a great deal of fun although Steven, at his age, was just eager to do the stairs and to make his way back to the front seat of that helicopter!

Steven is blessed to have this guy as his Dad!

I am always impressed by the variety and the quality of programs offered by our Calgary Public Libraries.  It is with gratitude that we left today’s experience at Seton, feeling a part of a wonderful and diverse community here in Calgary.  Thank you so much to those who organized the program, booked the story book readers, pulled together the resources and covered these topics with finesse.  A very wonderful experience was had at Reading With Royalty!

Now, Gramma needs a nap!

Gorilla House LIVE ART: March 20, 2013

The weather in Calgary was spectacular on Wednesday.  It certainly provided impetus for heading down to the Gorilla House although I felt drawn to the red sofa and a snuggle with the cat.  Instead, after Max and I walked the perimeter of the pond, I purchased a beautiful plywood panel that was riddled with six beautiful knots.  There is a bit of a shift in dynamic or motivation when an artist sees a new box of water colour pencils or a gorgeous piece of wood.  Possibilities begin to bounce in the brain.  This piece of wood did that for me.

I’ve been trying to eat Mediterranean recently, but I lined up at the Harvey’s Burgers joint and picked myself up a single burger, slathered in onion, lettuce, relish and tomato.  Not exactly Sonoma, if you get my drift.  What we do as a way of speeding up our lives…sad, but true. Regardless, I was on my way.

A bowl of sugared candies and friends were waiting…waiting for friends, painting, experience, bedazzled moments of genius under pressure.  It is true that a person feels welcome, once at the Gorilla House.  Priscilla had a new hair cut.  Tamara…another week gone by without her son…a few tears…a hug that lasted.  Karen’s smile.  I wandered in to her studio space and snapped a picture.  I so admire Karen’s meticulous work.

P1090910Those are river stones wrapped in white silk threads, under the blown glass globe.  Exquisite.

The concepts for the evening were….

1. Moon Horror or Sun Shower
2. A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi: The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English by Chloe Rhodes, Aficionado.
3. From Barbara Ann Kipfer’s Word Nerd: More than 17,000 Fascinating Facts About Words, Kabuki

I thought that it was interesting that the night’s concepts included two sources linked to words.  So, to begin with, on my panel, I recorded those two sources at the bottom.  I then turned my panel so that the dark knots of the wood were linked on the far right of the panel and the words were parallel to them left and right.  I was thinking about the power of words…their ability to bind people together and the way that they pull people apart…both internally and in communion with their fellow beings.

An example: FELLOW BEINGS

Definitions

Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  1. n. A fellow-creature; especially, any member of the human race as compared or contrasted with any other.

Some, in today’s global culture, would take offense to this term, given that we are now avoiding being gender specific and fellow being assumed to be male in nature.  I don’t hold too many hang ups about this.  In fact, I become frustrated with the forced inclusion of inclusive language.  I don’t like taking liberties with language if I can help it.  Does this make me ‘conservative’? Does it make me less ‘progressive’?  insensitive? Am I not a ‘feminist’?  Do I not care about women’s rights in the bigger picture?

When I think about people who have ‘stood up’ for the down trodden, I am begoggled by the will and the courage to initiate change and to fight for the freedoms who those who have not.  It goes so much deeper than the words we use and perhaps ‘the words’ merely represent these greater notions.  Example:

The Persons Case and Womens Right to Vote in Canada

{The Vote: Suffragists were relentless campaigners, lecturers, demonstrators and petitioners. They bravely faced politicians’ ire and the aggressive opposition of public opinion. By 1918, some women were granted the right to vote and to have a say in the political future of Canada. For many other women, their race, ethnicity and religion still barred them from the vote and, for them, the fight continued for almost 50 years. It wasn’t until the introduction of the Universal Right to Vote in 1963 and the addition of the equality clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1985 that the right to vote could not be denied on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, mental or physical disability, or gender.}

The “Famous Five” and the Persons Case:

Early activists challenge conventional views to change Canadian history ==è The Famous Five achieved not only the right for women to serve in the Senate, but they and their many contributions paved the way for women to participate in other aspects of public life and the assertion of women’s rights ==è Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards

“We want women leaders today as never before. Leaders who are not afraid to be called names and who are willing to go out and fight. I think women can save civilization. Women are persons.”

– Emily Murphy – 1931

The early 20th century and the courageous women who challenged the existing status of women are now part of the historic landscape of Canada. Five women created legal history in women’s rights by contesting the notion that legal definitions of persons excluded females. If women were not legally persons, then they had no rights.

These words borrowed from here…

1918!  What a remarkable thing that up until this point, women had no say in the decisions around their government and its policies for their lives.  What a great day it must have been to cast the first vote as a female.  I remember reading something about this as I studied my own family history and it caused me to weep.  Equity and equality are such important concepts to uphold.  But, as is my typical style, I digress.  (This is because my van is being maintained and I am home for the day.  Digression is sometimes a luxury.)

Another woman who was, in her simplicity, an inspiration in her time and as a result, timelessly so, was Rosa Parks.

“At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.
Rosa Parks

I painted Rosa Parks.  While painting…or just as I began to write a few words on my panel, a new visitor to Gorilla House LIVE ART, stopped and visited.  I think her name was Barbara.  (If that isn’t your name, please write to me and tell me because I know you are reading.)  Let’s, for now, call her Barbara.  Another example of the importance of words!  Barbara has begun to draw.  She attends figure drawing on Thursday nights at the Gorilla House, but hadn’t been in for the Battles.  What she was about to share moved me to the core, so much so that I wanted to put down my brushes and chalks and sit on the sofa.  Her words were ‘enough’.

Barbara shared about reading my words…about using the Public Library computers to read my entries about the Gorilla House LIVE ART battles.  I guess, in our imaginations, when we write, we don’t think about there being a ‘reading audience’.  The words spill out for ourselves…well, at least mine do.  But there, in conversation with me, was someone who reads my words and actually, it seems, looks forward to reading them.  This was a real inspiration to me and supports my experience as a writer.  So, I thank you, from my deepest heart and I hope to see you again.

Thank you to Melissa, who generously purchased this piece at auction.  I so admire you for your knowledge, for your connections with Arusha and for your courage to use Calgary Bucks.

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