Pandemic Parades in Covid Times

My 65th birthday began as most days do, with time well-spent at the edge of the Bow River.  The vast numbers of Midges at the river meant that Swallows were feeding in droves of thousands, skimming the water over and over again.  The Bald Eagle adults were feeding new youngsters on the nest and this always creates lots of magic at the river.  While the day was turning out to be grey and a little chilly, I still felt that I was able to breath, relax and do a little reflecting about what my life is all about, what I value and what is important to me.

In the afternoon, on the advice of my middle daughter, I watched a couple of episodes of the The Great Canadian Baking Show.  I laugh as I think about this because the last thing I am is a baker.  It was relaxing and mindless television and that was okay.

Colourful gifts were appearing on my dining table.  Thank you, Kathy and Val!

I walked Max…

I captured a quick photograph of our new vent resident…

…before heading over to my daughter’s for a Dragon Pearl take out dinner.  The Dragon Pearl brings up so many memories for our family.  It’s been our favourite family restaurant since the children were in high chairs.  I miss and love all of the people who cook and serve at this beautiful little spot in Inglewood.

While any food in a take-out situation doesn’t taste exactly the same as if you are eating it in the restaurant, it was a generous and loving thing to sit down with one of three children and to eat such delicious food.  After all, my grandson was sitting at the end of the table, entertaining me with his enthusiasm about the cupcakes that were hiding over in the red pan.  I opened his card and he vibrated with excitement and loving smiles.

A little over halfway through the meal, he started pointing and saying, “Auntie Cayley” over and over again.  My son-in-law’s eyes started shifting side to side.  He was just acting weird.  So, finally, I looked over my shoulder to the front yard and saw Pigeon on the yard, pressing mounted balloons into the gardens. I saw her partner, Shawn, waving and signalling. I went to the door and was excited enough about the balloons and the company when all of a sudden cars began to file past, covered in hand made banners and decorations.  The participants bonked their horns enthusiastically!

Oh my gosh!  It was a stream of my friends in cars!  Let me tell my readers something.

On the television feel-good news stories and on social media, we’ve all seen friends and families and teachers creating parades for friends, family members and students.  It looks like a lot of fun.  It also warms your heart when you see it.  But, to have it happen in your own life is beyond exciting.  I broke out into an immediate ugly cry, sobbing uncontrollably. I felt such overwhelming love pour into my life.  It would have been perfect had my son been able to be there to enjoy it, but truthfully, it was an experience I will never forget!

We celebrated with yummy cupcakes, a sip of wine, lawn chairs and more birthday greetings, reminiscing and physical distance.  I loved this experience…a combined effort of love and celebration.  Thank you, friends and dear family!  If you wish to really make someone’s heart swell and to fill them with an affirmation of love, try throwing them a parade.  These are pandemic times, so throw pandemic parades!

Painting From the Ground Up!

I will often have elementary teachers ask me why I paint on coloured construction paper rather than white paper or manilla coloured paper.  First off…let’s talk about a ground.

ground or primer is the background surface on which you paint. It is usually a coating such as a gesso primer, which physically separates your painting from the support. It is the foundation of a painting, applied onto the raw canvas, paper, or other support.

When it comes to elementary children, the teacher can provide the foundation for any painting and drive her/his own chosen outcome, in a way, by selecting the colour of the ground.  I always recommend construction paper.  It is reasonably priced, compared to the cost of bond paper and it has tooth!  Just like the teeth in our heads, paper has tooth.  The more tooth, the more easily it is for oil pastels, chalk pastels and tempera paint to adhere.  This is something to think about as you choose your activities and this is something they don’t always teach YOU in your methods classes.  Believe me, the learning never ends.

I thought that this week I might try painting the same subject (Valentines) with Division I students, but provide different coloured grounds.  What happens when you create a ground other than white, is that you highly energize the surface before you even begin.  It feels exciting and fun to go ahead with a project.  Next, a coloured ground will do something to colour, in this case, tempera paint.  Sometimes the effect is NOT desired…you will learn what works by experimenting with what is stock piled in your storage spaces.  Let the students leave little bits of their paper ‘shining’ through in places.  Notice how delightful these are compared to white paper coming through in places.

This week, with grades one, two and three, I reinforced the techniques of using a flat brush to make wide lines and the same brush to make thin lines.  Demonstrate, initially, to show the students how to pivot their brush to create thin lines.  They are actually surprised by this simple tip.  Now…for the grounds.

PURPLE CONSTRUCTION PAPER GROUND

BLUE CONSTRUCTION PAPER GROUND

YELLOW CONSTRUCTION PAPER GROUND

The paint colours you provide the children with are also important considerations.  For a class of 26, you want to mix up 15 buckets (two brushes in a bucket) (only 1/4 full) of mixed tempera.  In the three projects above, red and white are pure and out of the bottles.  Every other colour has a little something else mixed in.  You can do it!  For tints, pour in the white to fill the bottom of the bucket and add a drip of another colour.  See what happens.  You’ve done those colour mixing experiments with your students in science…you can make lovely tints of orange and add a bit of red and see how it changes.  No!  Don’t add black to red to make dark red!  Instead, add a little titch of blue and see what happens!

So, take a look at the paintings above and ask yourself how each ground changed the experience of very similar colours.  The paintings on yellow, were painted with an analogous colour scheme…red, yellow and white.

The other two sets of paintings included blue and so they were painted using a primary colour scheme….red, yellow, blue and white.

There’s a song out there, “I Hope You’ll Dance!”  My motto is, “I Hope You’ll Paint!”

Have fun!  And happy Valentine’s next week!

What is Essential

… is invisible to the eye. Both scriptural and found in the eloquent pages written by Antoine de St. Exupery, these words resonate with me on this seeming ordinary April day.

As the world’s citizens gasped in horror while the spire of Notre-Dame Cathedral fell to the ravages of fire, I not only grieved the loss/damage to such an iconic structure, but I immediately connected with my own memory and what the sense of place meant to me and my own family. I can not possibly know all of what Notre-Dame has meant over history, nor can I know the myriad of treasured moments shared there by other people just like me, from all over the world.

Instead, I think of my own three children and my, at-the-time, soon-to-be son-in-law. I think of the utter joy at the early morning surprise of a plane ticket from London to Paris, a subway ride into the core from the airpoirt and the magical events that unfolded, all of them shared as family.

Over the past ten years, if one runs just a few searches on the internet, one will find out how many of civilization’s greatest monuments have fallen, destroyed in natural catastrophes or through the mindless and hateful ravages of war. The destruction of the most cherished landmarks in human history shatters us, somehow, to the core. These are places captured in the minds and imaginations of all of us, places written about and found in movies, settings that we assume will always remain stable and present in those same imaginations.

I think we need to think about the fragility/the ephemera of our lives and our planet. This morning, again, I reflect upon what is essential. I’m hoping that through the damage done to such a seemingly permanent icon as Notre-Dame Cathedral, our human family might combine their efforts in creating a better world. Let us take pause and go into this day, empowered to make a difference.

Simple Gestures of Love

So many gestures have been made for me and my family the past while.  I don’t want to forget any of them.  As I set out on the journey of another day…the journey of an hour…I am taking pause for reflection.  I am saying, Thank You.

When everything slows down…becomes more simple…I notice more.  I see the love and the detail that goes into simple things and simple gestures of love; right down to the way a package is wrapped.

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Some of My Favourite People

Ascension Sunday was beautiful in so many ways.  Bishop Emeritus Frederick Henry was with us for the celebration of the Mass.  As much as being a part of this family has, at times, been a struggle, it feels as though I am home with my community when I share in the Mass with so many friends.  Sometimes in today’s world, we can be very MEcentric and I find that I am able to quiet that and really focus on ‘the other’ when I am in community. I sometimes wonder how the human family will look back on the world that we are creating and what our part in history will be.  I lifted prayers and offered up this Mass, in particular, for people in my life who have medical struggles and for my children.  From Mass, I stepped out into a gorgeous-weather day and decided to make my circle of the pond, with Max before anything else.

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I booked up the afternoon with a create! workshop at Wendy’s…a session co-delivered with Ruth Purves Smith, needle felting and wet felting, forgetting that I was also committed to attending Indigenous dance led by Jess McMann.  Sigh… I opted to head out to Lakeview, as I knew I planned to visit my YaYa at the Foothills Hospital afterwards.

The afternoon was glorious, back yard crafting with beautiful and engaged creatives. The birds were chirping and singing and bathing, all the while.  Ginger snaps and ice cold lemonade were served as we went about learning to make dryer balls, wet felting and creating lovely artworks.  A great way to spend the afternoon!  Thank you, Wendy and Ruth.

Not only is Ruth a huge advocate for the Custom Woolen Mills, she is a heart-filled musician and huge song writer and story teller!  I hang out with amazing people!

In conclusion, kits were put together and I was eager to get over to the hospital and my friend, to see if she would be able to try felting.

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It was a joy to watch my YaYa, sit outdoors in the shade of Foothills Hospital and manage some felting.  I will bring the project that she began along with me on my next visit and bit by bit, she can construct something beautiful.  Best she not poke her finger with one of those needles!  The day was so much brighter because I was able to hang out with her and to see the progress she has made in her healing.  Four months later, she is a strong and inspiring fighter!  Her husband is equally inspiring because he has been selfless and supportive through this very unique journey.  They are, together, an inspiring couple.

I spent the evening on my own…a little putzing in the garden…some more walking with Max…some texting with my daughter who had entered a song-writers competition.  She got to chat it up with one of my favourite Alberta song writers, Joe Nolan, and so I will aptly conclude this post with one of his tunes.

The day was a ‘Ballad of Some Sort”.  (Changed my mind…but, YouTube it!) Instead, River Ends. Both Ruth and Joe deliver music in wool socks.  I think song-writers who perform in sock feet are generally good people.

Thanks, Wendy Lees, for being a beautiful person!  Thanks to you, Ruth…for sharing the joy of creation with me, again.  Such warmth and generosity!

Love Art in Calgary Tours

Wendy Lees

Ruth Purves Smith

 

 

Gestures of Love

Recently, like everyone else, I’ve been swept up in more fear and anger than usual because of the shifting tides of political, economic and philosophical posturing the world over.   We try, surrounded by the bombardment of ideas, reactions and media, to sort and sift things out, but sometimes, regardless of our efforts, cave to the tumult.

I was feeling the darkness of our times.

It seemed that last evening, there was a shift of this dark into light, as my dear cousin living in Utah, sent me a message to give him a call.  He’s known for a long time that I have a big heart for family research,  and a desire to find the pieces of our history, however narrative in nature and lacking in the documentation required to make real sense.  He and I, both, have worked on our paternal side for a very long time, in our own ways, if you count up all of the years between us.

I weep this morning, as I type here, about the lovely conversation shared between Dr. Ted (our name of affection for him) and myself.  Ted lead me through some of his research on our family.  It was like bags of sweets laid out before me. (Remember that feeling as a child?)  He guided me patiently, while the both of us logged on to a family ancestral site…this is a fan chart…click on person…click on tree…this is who this person was…and this one…here is the document…And so it went!  Any of you who do this sort of work know how generous this gesture of love is.  My grandfather, John Moors, would be so pleased.  My father, John Moors, will be, when he reads this.  Blessed!  I love you, Ted! And I will pour over every detail bit by bit and so much will be revealed to me!

This morning, I decided to continue to focus on the unbelievable possibility of the positive.  Rolling out of bed, I stepped into my slippers and shuffled upstairs to go through my morning rituals.  As a single woman, I typically do a day’s dishes in the evening, later than you choose, I’m sure, but, just the way I do things.  Last evening, I didn’t.  I expected to bury my hands and arms into warm sudsy water while the coffee maker burbled.  I like doing these things, although when I had a partner, I was over the moon about having a cup of coffee prepared for me and delivered to the sofa, while I either read the paper or eased into the day.  Rituals change and I have become very happy about treating myself to those tender gestures of support and kindness.

But…today…

I woke to a note on my kitchen counter.

Went to
gym.
Made you
coffee.
Leave the
dishes +
garbage. Will
do when I come
home.

❤ you

My adult daughter and a gesture of love…makes everything feel different, doesn’t it?  When someone does you a kindness?  Little effort, but a whole spin that takes you to a place of reassurance and gratitude.  Thank you, Cayley.

I opened up Twitter while I sipped on this first hot cup of coffee.  This, after turning on the Tallest Man on Earth. (My cousin Peter finally showed me how to connect to those lovely speakers over there, with Bluetooth).

My friend, Wendy, had posted this…and I felt so grateful.  Something about me? Really?  The artist?  And the title of the piece, STABILITY!  Thank you, Wendy!

wendy-and-koac

 

I’m feeling that these three gestures of love are a small smattering that represent the possibilities that are available to me today, these and the warm nuzzle of my Max Man pushing up against my thigh, here at the computer desk.  “Let’s go, Mom!  Let’s walk!”  Today, let’s all look for the gestures of love in our lives and look away from the natural draw to worry and sadness that pull at our heart strings these days, often issues that we have no control over.  Let’s simply do what we can, with a real focus of what are the blessings of our lives.  Create!

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The Week in Review: The Loss of My Mother

 

Mom and Kath

Tuesday marked the third anniversary of the loss of my mother.  It’s one of the many difficult dates on the calendar, where Mom is concerned.  She wouldn’t wish for us to carry this much pain and heart ache, but grief is just like that.  It ebbs and flows and sometimes feels like it drowns us.  No one person can be blamed for how they grieve or what they do about it…their struggle to smother it or ignore it or constantly process it…it all has to be okay.  By embracing the journey, one never truly sees the world in the same way, but one can see the world and be in the world and carry on.

So…I put on a pair of Mom’s socks in the morning.  I brought her socks home with me three years ago when I headed out from Dad’s on my Trans Canada drive west.  In my mind I suppose I thought that at some point the socks would wear out, but, I’ve been lucky that way.

I said the rosary out loud before leaving for school.  Thoughts of Mom had inspired that.

Grief is exhausting.  I remember that I felt tired on Tuesday.  I went over in my head what  I was doing before and during and after receiving the news about my mother’s passing.  I played the one voice recording from a telephone call Mom had made years ago…one I had never erased.  I wanted to hear Mom’s voice.

I had a cry,  a couple of cries, privately.  I was so grateful to be painting during the day, with grade ones.  They painted kites and were so very excited and into it that life captured me…a wind carried me…and I felt lighter also.

I Skyped with Dad.  I always look forward to that.

I went to the pond and took a photograph of a bush.

I will always miss my mother.  The thing is, I was so very blessed to be her daughter that every day I know that I lucked out.  I am grateful that I carry so much of her in me.  I like it that sometimes when I laugh, I hear her laugh.  I love and never take for granted, my family.

Springtimes at Many Springs

Time passes and the rituals of our lives bond us with friends and family members and our communal narrative becomes something timeless and very very special.

Yesterday saw us on our flower walk, this time, missing Carla, Val and the boys.  Our most courageous friend, Wendy, has had some struggles with health this past year and so this spring, her funny and talented husband, Darren, also accompanied us on the trail.  Wendy is witty enough, but get these two together and it’s such a fun time.  Many Springs is always a blessing-time.

I wrote about this ritual in 2011.

I wrote about this ritual in 2012.

I wrote about this ritual in 2014.

In 2011, the water levels were like this.

IMG_8818This year…they were like this.

Kath's Canon June 28, 2015 Flower Walk 073Past springs have seen the water levels change and so the scenery changes.

Copy of On EarthThis year…

Kath's Canon June 28, 2015 Flower Walk 062Our group shots have seen Cameron as an infant and brought us up through his childhood.

And ME!Happiness!At the Bridge

Many Springs 2008 043Westhills Starbucks…our meeting place for car-pooling. Many Springs 2008 012

Cathy’s photo at our bridge…2015.

Many Springs 2015  2RotatedDarren promises me his photos from yesterday, but I DID manage to get a few.  Lilies were the predominate flower…more than we’ve seen on any other hike.  We found only one lady slipper on the entire circle and very few orchids.  The wild columbine was already done.  There were some beautiful wild violets on the far side of the route, but everyone was so focused on managing the chair up and around the incline and the tree roots, that we enjoyed them on the fly.

Kath's Canon June 28, 2015 Flower Walk 069Kath's Canon June 28, 2015 Flower Walk 005 Kath's Canon June 28, 2015 Flower Walk 016 Kath's Canon June 28, 2015 Flower Walk 037 Kath's Canon June 28, 2015 Flower Walk 040 Kath's Canon June 28, 2015 Flower Walk 046 Kath's Canon June 28, 2015 Flower Walk 051Kath's Canon June 28, 2015 Flower Walk 058 Kath's Canon June 28, 2015 Flower Walk 063

O frabjous day!  Callooh! Callay!

Calm Can Be Found in Ashley’s Classroom

Monday morning, I wasn’t at my very best.  I knew I was coming down with something…head aching…throat, sore.  I hoped, from the onset, that I would have the energy to give these grade four children a lovely day and a bit of a painting experience.  I was already tickled to be welcomed by beautiful office and instructional staff.  These guys always rock!

I stepped into Ashley’s classroom and immediately felt a sense of calm.  I think that there has to be some sort of link between productivity, learning and an ordered space.  Is it possible to be creative when there is order?  I guess I’ll check out the psychology of that aesthetic as I think of Ashley’s work space.

Hmmm…the Psychology Behind Messy Rooms.

Tidy Desks and Messy Desks..

K…so I’ve wandered a little on the world wide web, sipping grapefruit juice as I go and what I can surmise is that our living and working environments need to be constructed/designed/maintained in a very individualized way, to suit our very personal way of functioning and creating.

On Monday, this ordered space was absolutely what I needed.  I have Ashley’s permission to welcome you into her space.

Love is in the air…first of all, it’s February!  Gracie was my #1 assistant all day.  Thank goodness for her efforts.  She really took up the slack!

?????????? ?????????? I just really like the philosophy behind these seven habits…language that grade fours can understand…but, ideas that we might all put to good use.DSC_2258A sense of space and order as I entered the classroom…I think I actually vocalized…”Ahhhhh” as I breathed out.  The new buildings are so wonderful because the flooring allows for spills, building, exploration and easy tidy-up.DSC_2257Winter art was cheerfully displayed.  I think that mats, while very inexpensive, somehow emphasize the individuality and the special nature of each creation.  Once the display comes down, the other side can be used for the next piece of art…so reuse!

DSC_2256 Light…so wonderful and necessary for a peace-filled day.  I like the touch of personal objects that give the children a sense of home and community.  A place for those teacher’s gifts.

DSC_2255 Storage buckets with a sense of humour.  These make me smile just looking at them.

DSC_2254A nook for spirtual objects contributes to a sense of calm.

DSC_2253 Ideas for daily physical activity!  Good stuff!

DSC_2251 Students like to know how they’re doing.

DSC_2249 DSC_2248 DSC_2247 DSC_2246I liked how every thing had its place.  I felt in control, even in moments when I would typically be feeling anxiety.  The desks were in such an arrangement that it made very quick work to move them into pods of two students for easy access to the paint station.  The how-to of this lesson can be found here.   Here are just a few of the students’ creations.  Thank you, Ashley, for a day with your class.

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Other Classrooms…

Elisa’s Classroom

Carli’s Classroom

 

My Mandy-Girl

Call it ‘by any other name’, but I have to say that the time spent with my niece, Mandy, was pure heaven.  Up until recently, this is all I ever really knew of my girl…here, in the arms of my younger brother.  A sweet little red head…quiet…introspective…artistic…vulnerable.

Cliff and MandyAs she grew, she sent her Gramma and Grampa a drawing that Grampa still has hanging in his hallway.  Mom and Dad were/are so proud of her.

I received a special card in the mail, an image that I framed and have displayed in my sanctuary…another treasure.  I noticed at that time that my niece was becoming a little artist.

??????????In 2008, on my daughter’s wedding day, along with the rest of the family, Mandy left her words on my studio wall.  It was such a blessing to be together on that day.  I will never forget it.

??????????“Life is special, and yours will always be unique, as will everyone’s.  Don’t waste a moment of it, but always take a second within those times to step back and absorb what is happening.  Reflect on it, turn it into something you’ll remember always and will still be just as alive when you think of it. – Mandi”

And then…a collision with her energy and our own time shared recently at my place!  What a gift!

DSC_0488 Mandy Arrives Mandy Market Collective 2 Mandy Picking Garbage With Me Mandy in Snow Storm September 2014 Mandy With Cousins Mandy Market CollectiveWe shared special talks and shared peaceful silence…we were creative together…purchased B.C. fruit together…shared meals and wandered the city together.  I will always appreciate that this time was for us alone.  I’m so very happy for that.  I drove Mandy to the airport and then cried, (as I always do when I drop special people to the airport), driving south on the Deerfoot.  When I arrived home, I found Mandy’s words…pages of them…stacked on my red table, along with a parting gift.  This little penguin purchased at the Market Collective, will remain an object of affection for always.  Thank you, Mandy, for taking a break to come and be with your Auntie.  I can hardly wait until my niece, Eliane, does the very same thing.  And, mayhaps, when her hectic life slows down, I might even have a couple of weeks to go exploring with and get to know my niece, Ainslie in this same way.  Love you, my precious girls!  Love you, Mandy.

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