The Rare Birds

Just sipping an early coffee. James and I arrived home from Lethbridge at midnight last night and had it not been for Max and his request at the back door at six this morning, I would still be sleeping.

Yesterday was an exquisite day. I liked the surprises of it and the colour of it. In its own way, yesterday was a rare bird.

But first, there were the ordinary rituals. First, the update from the red couch.

I got Max down to the Bow River early and discovered how powerful and fast-moving it was, after all of our rain these past days. Experts assure Calgarians that these continue to be usual run off levels and that we needn’t be anxious about the swelling river, but given the floods of other years, the changes at the river can feel unnerving.

Some one doesn’t care. He always smiles on these walks.

Something to identify.

Another something to identify.

Birds were very busy and there was a cacophony of sound as it seemed they were all rebuilding, particularly the Red Winged Black Birds. At the eagle nest, I’m pretty certain that we’ve had one of the eaglets ‘fludge’ (accidentally fledge) as I’ve only been able to pick up the profile of one of the siblings these past four days. One adult continues to stand watch in neighbouring trees, but I’ve seen only one this week. We’ll see how that all plays out over the coming days. With full foliage in the trees now, perhaps I am missing things. The adults raised up only one of two last year and this may end up being a similar season. I’ve been documenting daily what I see at the nest, but am not publishing these, as a way of protecting the location of the nest.

Once arriving home, James and I loaded up and headed out on the highway, after gassing up the vehicle and buying our road trip treats. It was sad to leave Max behind, but I was super happy that my nephew, John, agreed to come and take care of Max’s needs late in the afternoon. This was a great relief and I am very grateful to John.

We got as far as Nanton before we began our exploring. There was a vintage car show going on, as well as a Barbecue cook-off and parade of garage sales. The sights and smells were wonderful. Good job, Nanton!

In Claresholm, there was a stop for lunch. The most wonderful thing about lunch was spending time with my son. I was already thinking about how wonderful it was that he wished to spend the day with me and celebrate my art. He has been very encouraging since I have begun painting again. He is a great support.

We hit Lethbridge in the midst of Pride festivities and it seemed that the core was alive with activity and fun. GO PRIDE! Karen and Mel had already visited Casa and so we hooked up at the Tim Horton’s where I enjoyed an ice lemonade and the four of us had a lovely chat. It was good to reconnect and to give ourselves the time to share. I so appreciated that Karen made this visit happen and that we were able to celebrate my art and one another. My heart was spilling over the entire day.

I tried to locate my friend, Michael, with no success and so James and I steered the boat toward Larry and Nina’s. Along the way, I shared stories about my memories of the years 1973 to 1977. I’m sure at times he was overwhelmed with the name dropping, but I love that I was able to bring him into the circle of love that I experienced through those years. Gratefully, Larry and Nina were home and we managed to really shake up their afternoon! But, oh my, it was so much fun! Talks of single-engine Cessna flights, books, family, Herb, renovations, Kaslo…it was rich and filled with belly laughs. Thank you, Larry and Nina, for letting us crash into a quiet afternoon of watching baseball. I love you.

I changed my clothes and off James and I headed to Casa for the celebration of a group exhibit as well as two other exhibits that were going on at the time. Casa is a beautiful facility and Darcy is a hard working curator! The following words shared by Lorraine Lee, the writer of the poem, Child’s Rara Avis.

The Gallery at Casa Presents:
CHILD’S RARA AVIS
work by A Cluster of Rare Birds
Concourse Showcase
June 22 – August 24, 2019

Hugh Prather wrote in Notes to Myself:
“There were seventy-five people in the lobby and only a seven year old girl was finding out what it felt like to sit on a marble floor.”

Or, in this case on a rock.

The exhibition is based on a verse written by one of the artists at the age of 17 – about sitting on a rock and looking at her world through a child’s eyes but now, on the cusp of adulthood, thinking she would no longer be able to do so. This exhibition says we absolutely can, and SHOULD, still ‘sit on that rock’ no matter how grown up we are.

Each woman in this group has used the verse as their “guide”. Some have used direct imagery from the verse, some used the idea of the verse.

– the adventuresome spirit of her grandchildren
– her own childhood memories of walking in nature with her grandmother and seeing the magic there
– believing the world to be filled with colourful, impossible creatures
– familiar landscapes but with a child’s touch of fantasy and painting style
– childhood images of magical worlds she could only dream about
– the freedom and innocence of childhood
– seeing everyday beauty, that as adults, we often pass by
– an archive of treasures suspended through her experience of her own child like sensibilities

All of us have been able, through our creativity, to reach to our child self and in the process, make some discoveries about who we are and what we believe. And, essentially to discover, or rediscover, the spirit of fun and wonder that children naturally gravitate to. To look again through the eyes of the child we used to be.

Come join us on the rock.

A Cluster of Rare Birds:
Patti Blackstaffe
Diane Brinton
Vaughan Coupland
Claire Hatton
Shauna Hayward
Laurel Krause
Lorraine Lee
Kathleen Moors
Kathy Schwarz

We met one another (this was my first time meeting the other artists) and celebrated with wine and cake. Thank you for your hospitality, Lorraine.

I will also include here, my own artist’s statement regarding the work that I am presently producing. With over 220 Instagram images archiving the life and times of a bush at the edge of a pond, I have many references for a vast exploration of time, atmosphere and presence. I am very excited about it.

My Rara Avis: Instagram Bush

A person aligns with certain values throughout the course of living a sometimes-joyful, sometimes-challenging life. My way of being is strongly influenced by literature and most specifically, by two books; Le Petit Prince par Antoine de Saint-Exupery and Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. Both writings include lessons on noticing, presence and place. The protagonist of Dandelion Wine, Douglas Spaulding, keeps a diary throughout the summer of 1928, in the front, collecting a record of ‘usual’ things about summer and in the back, a record of the revelations about those ordinary things. My life, thus, is marked by a huge history of seeing the spectacular embedded in the ordinary.

The poem, a Child’s Rara Avis written by Lorraine Lee, aged 17, invited me to share my rara avis, my incredibly beautiful and evolving experience of a single landmark along a circular pond walk with my dog, Max, daily, in 2015. I took pause in front of this bush and observed the changing aspects of its structure and surrounding environment through the course of our walks, snapping one Instagram photo and capturing the moment as a matter of preservation. I logged the time of day, the weather and the date at each visit. Through the course of this presence, I collected samples of vegetation and other organic materials found beneath the branches of this same bush and bottled them up as an approach to archiving the moment. Douglas Spaulding, similarly, observed his grandmother bottle the ‘Summer of 1928’ in the cool basement of his home, in the form of Dandelion Wine, a tincture to be brought out in the wintertime to combat aches and colds.

In the studio, I am pouring over the references and field notes, enjoying the sensual memories and the experience of walking. I am intimately recreating these experiences by transitioning the Instagram photographs into paintings. This process contributes a seeming permanence to something that is very ephemeral. (see Chapter 15 in Le Petit Prince) It elevates my rara avis.

It is the child’s heart within me that discovered the wonder of this location. It is here that I ‘sat on a rock and watched the world’.

During the process of walking, I realized that while incubating the idea of these works, all square formats and all acrylic paintings, I wanted to also capture the act of walking. Videographer, Liam Hawryluk, of Beam Media, generously joined me on the circle and collected footage across the seasons, capturing the reality that within a very huge narrative, there is a rara avis available for personal engagement, if one chooses to take notice.

Kathleen Moors

This is the video created by Liam Hawryluk.

Liam’s company, Beam Media, produces amazing videos and I am so grateful that he took this project on. This archive means the world to me. Thanks, Liam.

I think that the first surprise, and a glorious one, was to see Kasia. It was such a quick embrace and I wish we had shared more time, but so quickly, a big chunk of my amazing family including my Auntie Eleanor, descended into the space. Thanks also to Tim and Tamaki. And, thank you, Larry and Nina. And most importantly, thank you, James. What a wonderful and surprising night. We all live such busy lives and I’m grateful for those of you who were able to find the time to give me this support. Now, please readers, forgive my blast of photographs.

Martine, Kath, Danielle

Nina, Kath, Larry

Kath and son, James

Kath and Auntie Eleanor She described my art as having a lot of movement.

Tamaki and Tim

Tristan, Robert John de Gruchy, cousin Deanna and beautiful daughter, cousin Barb, cousin Martine and daughter, Danielle and cousin Margy. In front, Kath and Auntie Eleanor

My Auntie Eleanor Witbeck

Friends Reach Out Across Time

I continue to be blessed by individuals who somehow land upon a post of mine now-and- again, (quite often, recently), as  it relates to family.  I have often come across old photographs, military medals and treasures in second-hand shops and thought to myself, “I hope that our family treasures are always cherished and remain with our families, somehow.”  Well, in this world of digital imaging, more and more, photographs of our loved ones surface and just as I have shared with others…others share with me.

I am hoping that in the morning, my family members are surprised by these recent gifts from a man who I will simply refer to as Phil.

Yesterday’s e mail, in my inbox, began like this…

“I’ve known for years that your grandparents John & Florence were friends with my grandparents, Percy Hayes (1899-1979) and Mary Hayes (nee Severs, 1909-1996) of Oshawa, Ont. I’m afraid I don’t know the nature of their friendship. Percy worked most of his life at GM. I grew up just up the road from them, my Dad being their oldest son Cliff Hayes (b.1929). I recall being told that your grandpa had moved to Magrath to run the woolen mill, being a strategic industry during WWII.

 

I know Mom & Dad (can’t recall if ‘Granny’ was with them) stopped in Magrath years ago on a trip. I can’t recall if they connected with anyone though. I seem to recall Dad saying there weren’t any/many Moors left there…”

Phil began by sharing two photographs, along with their annotations.  I immediately forwarded the e mail to my father and he very shortly responded via Skype, sharing stories about his three oldest sisters and the three gents that they dated…all horse-riding cowboys.  Off they would go for their rides together, evenings, in the herd pastures of McIntyre Ranch.  *OOPS!  A mistake…Dad has sent me corrections, here.

“It was not Mcintyre ranch herd pasture. It 
was the Magrath herd pasture where all our cows were pastured every day 
!!! Rob worked at the ranch as I recall ‘but even that may be wrong 
cause we all owned horses in Magrath and Raymond in those days even me . 
Love you big good work.”

Dad

It is an amazing thing, this lovely collection featuring my aunties.  Beautiful Margaret is now passed on, but Auntie Eleanor just enjoyed her 90th birthday…as did Auntie Ruth, a couple of years ago.  Auntie Mary, the youngest, was not to be excluded from this set.  Also featured, my Gramma Florence Moors, my Great Auntie Caroline; her son, Orval who flew with the Canadian Navy and would not have lived much beyond these two photographs, having served on the battleship, HMCS Magnificent, (was a Majestic-class light aircraft carrier that served the Royal Canadian Navy from 1948–1957.) meeting an early demise when the plane he was flying, crashed.  His little sister, Joan, is also present in one of the photographs.

Based on the annotations, it seems likely that Auntie Ruth sent some of these archives…some might have been mailed, along with letters, by my Gramma Moors to these friends in the east.

I am amazed by the generous hearts of people who take the time to scan and forward such treasures on to me.  I do not take any of this for granted.

Family, do enjoy and copy and save these to your own archives.  I love you all.  Thank you, Phil, for taking this time.

Ruth Moors Rollingson and Rob Gorman 1

Auntie Ruth with Rob Gorman

Ruth Moors Rollingson and Rob Gorman 1b

Eleanor 1

Eleanor and Bob

Eleanor and Bob 1b

Margaret and Jay Passey 1

Margaret and Jay Passey

Margaret and Jay Passey 1b

Gramma Moors, Caroline, Orval, Joan 1

Front: Joan Gamelin Back Left to Right: Auntie Caroline, her son, Stanley Orval Gamelin and Gramma Florence Moors

Gramma Moors, Caroline, Orval, Joan 1b

Orval Ruth and Dooley 1

Dolly, Orval and Auntie Ruth

Orval Ruth And Dolly 1b

And, here’s dear little Mary Jane.

Mary Jane 1

Mary Jane Moors

Mary Jane 1b

Today, I enjoyed a yummy lunch at the Blackfoot Diner with Phil and his wife, Cindy, and they generously gave me the original photographs that you see above.  I am blessed.

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We never stopped gabbing the entire time! I got a little emotional when I gave them my good-bye hug. Can you imagine what our grandparents might have thought?

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Cindy and Phil Hayes

Southern Alberta Roads

P1130699What a wonderful feeling to hit open roads…heading south always gives me some sense of going home to my peeps.  I weep when I see this blue up against this yellow…reminds me of grampa and our talks as he drove, with his racing cap on (ball cap turned backwards).  The past two days, I moved between Raymond and Magrath and Lethbridge…connecting with that feeling, pretty much the whole time.  Interviewing two of my beautiful aunties about family history was a joy.

I started Tuesday morning off with bacon, eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee at Ying’s Chinese and Western Cafe.  I love that there is no choice here…no brown and white toast, for example.  This was where I bought my penny candies as a little girl…and where grampa went in to catch up on the stories.  I chatted with these folk (different-but-the-same) over my first two coffees.  Thing is, the place looked so different years back.  Apparently, one of the fellas told me, May died some years ago and Mark lives in Lethbridge.  There used to be booths with high backs…dark wood.  These Canadians were a part of my childhood story.  I felt blessed in remembering.

P1130678 P1130680From there, I went out to the cemetery to have some time with my relations who have passed and who rest in such a beautiful and peaceful spot.

P1130683 P1130684 P1130690The mill…a spot where family photos were taken…keeps on changing as it changes hands.  For our family, though, it will always be connected to that smell of wool and grandma’s roast beef.

P1130691 P1130693 Sister in MagrathOn the Steps of the MillIMG_5619Ruth and RoyWoolen Mill 001P1130516

Surprise #3: Ian Tyson

I saw this Legend perform ‘back in the day’, when I was a bit of an activist as a member of the Friends to the Oldman River Society.  A beautiful artist and friend, Joane Cardinal Schubert, created the image used on the poster advertising a great musical and political event at the edge of Maycroft Crossing back in 1989.  Ian Tyson, along with people like Andy Russell and the Chiefs of the surrounding Nations, gathered along with thousands of Albertans to persuade the Government of Canada that construction of a dam would be of great environmental impact on this river. From The Art Gallery of Calgary’s catalogue for the Calgary Collects Exhibit in the Fall of 2011, this…

Joane Cardinal Schubert and the River

From Wikipedia…

“Russell also sometimes confronted environmental issues in the field, directly on the front lines. In 1977, for example, he was successful in persuading officials in British Columbia to reconsider plans to grant timber harvesting licences in the Akamina-Kishenina region, an area with which Russell was intimately familiar as a result of the decades he spent guiding and outfitting in the area.[23] While wilderness landscapes like the Akamina-Kishenina region were central to Russell’s writing and film making endeavours, he also directed some of his environmental advocacy to the rural working landscape he shared with his neighbours. For example, when Shell Canada in 1970 put forward an application to divert additional water from Drywood Creek, Russell monitored the proceedings to ensure than no more water was taken than necessary, and that the resulting effluent was properly treated.[24] In another instance, to draw attention to problems with the Government of Alberta’s use of sodium fluoroacetate as a predator control compound, he joined two of his ranching colleagues and assisted to gather ten poisoned and rotting coyote carcasses; these were then left on the grounds of the municipal office in Pincher Creek, Alberta, as part of a plan that drew public attention to the issue through prearranged media involvement.[25] Russell also involved himself in larger projects, including in the politically charged opposition to the construction of the Oldman River Dam in southwestern Alberta. He was a founding member of the Friends of the Oldman River and he participated in actions to oppose the dam project, most prominently as a speaker at musician Ian Tyson’s benefit concert held at Maycroft Crossing on June 12, 1989.[26]”

Maycroft 3Further to this, on the University of Lethbridge site

“Active resistance on the Oldman River Dam came from a group of Peigan Natives, the Peigan Lonefighters Society, who in August 1990 began to divert the river using an excavator to render the multi-million dollar dam useless.  The claim was simple, the government of Canada was intruding on sacred Native land, land owned by the Blackfoot Nations. According to Milton Born with a Tooth, “the Oldman River is located in Blackfoot Nation’s territory, something we have always taken as being within our own domain. We all grew up by the river, and that’s how the river has a personal attachment to myself and the people. So that’s what drove us to do what we did on August 3, to let the people know we still had this connection to the river.” Though resistance to the Oldman River Dam has been pacified in the past few years, Peigans still claim that reservior land is their own.

Another part of the controversy has to due with the environmentalists. The environmentalists call themselves, “Friends of the Oldman River Society.”  They formed in the early 1990’s, over the environmental concerns in the construction of the large scale Oldman River Dam. They note that the construction of the Oldman River Dam required an environmental assessment impact, and this was not conducted at all, by Ralph Klein’s government. An environmental assessment impact is a neccessity according to the “Navigable Waters Protection Act”, where it would be determined if its construction would have any notable environmental impacts on this region. The Friends of the Oldman River strongly felt that the construction of the Oldman River Dam, would severely alter and damage local riparian biomes, wildlife habitat, and aquatic life in down stream from the dam. A environmental impact assessment was later conducted by the government, and found the dam to have no significant environmental impact; but the Friends of the Oldman River Society amongst others regard it with much suspect.”

I had studied at the University of Lethbridge, perched on the edge of the Oldman River, and lived in residence there, so for four years, I had a huge relationship with the river.  Everything that Ian Tyson and Andy Russell stand/stood for, I felt deeply about.  And I guess that’s just never changed.  While I am faulted often for being a bit of a ‘bleeding heart’ in my family, I care very much for our environment and see, this many years later, what impact our choices as consumers have upon this wealth of land, water and air that we, as Canadians, often take for granted.

I’ve danced to this song many times over the years and to hear it on the night of the Flood Relief was a surprise.  Thank you, Ian, for your work on behalf of Albertans over all of these years.

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Pastoral Setting and Peace

I spent June 30th in a rural setting with Lorraine and Ron Russell.  In the evening, I sat with Lorraine and we shared stories, sipped apple-cinnamon tea and snacked on homemade butter tarts.  It was so relaxing and a really special treat before landing upon a big family reunion in Raymond, the next morning.  I have tried to capture the gist of my feelings in this short video.  We all need to take time to reflect…and really listen to bird songs.

Thank you, Lorraine.