Cutting Myself Some Slack

I have to admit, I’m not at the top of my game lately.  A person can be confronted by and, possibly, absorb a lot of gut-wrenching stuff via the media, daily. (the state of Syria, regional economics, pipelines, the American debates and election, unemployment and the economy, involvement of Russia in global agitation, the status of North Korea regarding armaments, the state of our environment and the care for dwindling species…these are just a few concerning factors that spewed out the tips of my fingers at the keyboard…free flow)  If that ‘removed’ material isn’t enough, then there are also the daily stressors that one must face, sometimes alone, and these can really nail a person down, both in body and spirit.  The important thing is to do something about it by changing patterns and practices.

This past weekend was one of those weekends for me.  Not really ‘into’ any interactions with my wider circle, I focused on ‘being’ with smaller groups, staying closer to home and eating good food.  Quality time with my daughter and my ‘real life’ friends was very healing.  I am grateful for that sense that the rest of the world can motor on at warp speed while I take a little vacation from the nonsense that becomes my whirling life.  What we’re trying to prove, I don’t exactly know.  What I’ve been doing, I do.

The weekend began with a gathering of my hiking YaYas and our ritual gathering photo op with prop.  Thanks to Cathy for hosting.  What a relief it is to talk and talk and talk and laugh.  And wow…those hugs at the end of an evening!

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Walking the circle of the pond at Frank’s Flats…always calms me and makes me live more deliberately or consciously.  Walking, itself, causes the lungs to fill up and with ‘real’ air.  The light filters in and replaces worry or dischord.

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Contemplating my closest companion…our friendship…activity.  There are many funny moments created by my Max-Man.  This weekend, I was grateful for my fur-boys, both dogs, Laurie-Dog and Max-Man and cats, Piper, Edgar and Peanut.

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On our Saturday afternoon walk, a flock of fourteen Trumpeter swans flew overhead. There is nothing like their sound pulling out of a blue sky.  I didn’t care about zooming or panning, obviously, but I can not look at this patch of blue, without remembering what that was like.  I always consider these events to be Holy events and I have been graced with the blessing of many such moments.img_2378

On Sunday morning, I went to early Mass.  For me, the peace that comes with this celebration can’t be replaced with anything else.  I was also very grateful to be embraced by the MacDonalds in the parking lot, afterwards. Such good people.

Off to the grocery store, I filled my basket with cheeses, beautiful squash, vegetables and fruit and some Kaslo sourdough pasta.  I had selected a lovely Cannelloni recipe to prepare for dinner.

Sunday offers the opportunity for people to recline and have a little snooze, or as my Dad calls them, a Sizz under the Fuzzy.  I had one of those and then…

I drove to Hull’s Wood…a part of my life, here, in Calgary’s fringe.  Jess has begun her teaching of this semester’s Pow Wow dancing.  I highly recommend this practice to all of my readers.  We began with the peacefulness of a smudge ceremony and the blessing of sweetgrass and sage.  Then…cardio…then practice.  This week, some basics in handling a single hoop.

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I had missed a few openings on the weekend.  I especially wanted to see the exhibit, For You and Me hosted by the Paul Kuhn Gallery, curated by artist, Ashleigh Bartlett.  As well, I had wished to offer my support of Mark Vasquez-Mackay and Rich Theroux for their opening, Mindfulness at the Rumble House.

I decided, on the way home from Pow Wow dancing that I would stop off at the Queensland Community Center and spend some time with Mark’s mural on the building.  On a perfect autumn day, it was a wonderful option for viewing art and giving one of my peeps, some support.

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At home, Cayley and I made Cannelloni together.  It was fun to share the kitchen and I’d like to do that more often.  The process of cooking can be a very relaxing thing.  When I went to my room in search of my bedroom slippers, I noticed that my daughter had also folded my clothes from the dryer.  Kindness from others is likely  the best medicine out there, for anything that might ail you as an individual…it is also the best medicine for the world.

I would like my readers to share what it is that they do to relax, to find their center…to be at peace.  We don’t have to control everything all of the time.  But, how do we let go of that need to control everything?

Helping Hands

It was a big day again for the City of Calgary, with the opening of the Barb Scott Memorial Park, the Inglewood Night Market and the Helping Hands Mural launch, celebrated along with artists, Mark Vazquez-Mackay, Hannah Poon and Ryan Delve and “Just Bill”. I opted to celebrate the Helping Hands mural and so glad that I did!  There was a sense of a beautiful community that hovered under the overpass on a very rainy day!  There were delicious DONUTS, offered up for free by Jelly Modern Donuts!  I was very proud of the creative participants from the create! program in the East Village who contributed to the mural.  I was happy to be witness to this historical moment for our city.

Directly from the Calgary Media Release, this background…

“(CALGARY, AB) – Plans to transform a small wall under the 5th Avenue flyover began when “Just Bill,” a resident of the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre (The DI), decided he wanted to add more colour to the neighbourhood by creating a public art installation everyone could enjoy and actually participate in creating.

Bill, a born and raised Albertan, has been homeless for the past 15 years. Two years ago on New Year’s Eve, Bill resolved to explore his lifelong dream of becoming an artist. At 50, he picked up a paintbrush for the first time, began reading books about famous artists and started running with a very creative and collaborative art crowd in Calgary.

“I credit Angel and Angela, the two young women who founded Market Collective here in Calgary, with giving me the courage to really follow my dream and start making my art a reality,” says Bill. “They encouraged me to showcase my work and make connections in the arts scene. It’s changed my life for the better.”

Inspired by some of the magnificent public artwork within East Village, such as Julian Opie’s LED installation “Promenade” and Ron Moppett’s mosaic tile wall “THESAMEWAYBETTER/READER,” Bill and three fellow artists decided they wanted to contribute to the emerging art scene of East Village by adding some colour under the 5th Avenue Flyover. Working with City of Calgary Roads and Centre City Planning & Implementation teams, they have imagined a mural called “This is our City:

Helping Hands,” which celebrates diversity, choice and community building and honours former DI Centre Executive Director Dermot Baldwin for his contributions to Calgary’s homeless.  Dermot Baldwin was present to the celebration yesterday.

This isn’t the first time a group of local artists has teamed up to bring life to an unconventional canvas. Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), the organization charged with redevelopment of the East Village, began a curated art program on the bridge abutments and storage sheds in 2009. Local photographer Derrick Besant debuted his black and white images on the bridge abutments three years ago, and just last summer a new group of Calgary artists called Light & Soul added “The Field Manual: a compendium of local influence” – a mural that spans 11 surfaces along Riverfront Ave.”

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Final Stop: The Studio of Mark Vazquez-Mackay

Margy and I got caught up chatting with Phillip and bid Anna and him good-bye with hugs before heading over to Weeds Cafe for a Montreal spiced meat sandwich and Italian soda.  It was a pretty nice feeling.  When you go out on a Love Art in Calgary tour, your brain goes “ZING” and you find yourself processing so much great insight…sometimes it’s a good decision to punctuate!  On we raced to the studio of Mark Vazquez-Mackay.

P1150856Mark’s studio was magical, but how can it not be when he has such a beautiful way of seeing life and his world.  I think that he is extremely generous and very community centered.  His hands and mind are engaged a lot in terms of visual arts in Calgary and we need to be grateful for people like him.  He generates a lot of chatter.  I really do treasure the fact that we got a window into just a small part of what he does and accomplishes.

P1150816I liked learning about his use of ivory black to mix colour.  I liked that he had a Lucien Freud book perched against a wall. (I am nuts over Lucien Freud’s figurative works.)  I was excited to have him demonstrate his exploration of camera obscura, his connection with Vermeer, his insights after reading David Hockney’s Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters.  I felt so excited about his vision around public art and his open concept of public art everywhere.  I had a warm heart as he spoke of his son, the innovative and driven musician who worked alongside his Dad to paint his mother’s eyes on his front yard fence. Generally speaking, his time spent with us was jam-packed and invaluable!

P1150832Mark, impacted personally by the spring flood of last year in Calgary, appears to have not missed a heartbeat, but, with determination and resilience, rebuilt and then some.  He is a hero to our arts community.  A good person.

I’ve written sometimes about the objects of our affection…about how our objects hold memory and such.  In Mark’s studio, I felt that I was surrounded in a blanket of so much love, perception and imagination.  Truly remarkable!  Thank you.

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