Gordon Lightfoot, After All These Years

There are no photographs that I can find (we probably didn’t own a camera), of the days when Dad, my brother John and I used to play the ukulele.  There are just so many tunes to play around the campfire on a ‘Uke’ but I remember them including Yellow BirdMichael Row The Boat AshoreDown In the Valley and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

Dad got us interested in stringed instruments very early in our lives.

Christmas St. Sylvestre

 

Whenever we gathered with friends or went camping, we had sing-songs.  In fact, we grew up surrounded by music.  Our military life took us on many family road trips and Sunday drives and all of it involved singing a repertoire of folk songs, big band era music like Abba Dabba Honeymoon,  Moon River and Mack the Knife and funny songs like “One Man Went to Mow“, There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea...well, you get the idea.

Dad also owned a beautiful Gibson guitar.  Nothing made me happier than listening to him sing songs, while playing that guitar.  There are no photographs of the Gibson, but I’m certain that my father and siblings remember it as though it was yesterday.  It was a family treasure.  Dad shared…

“I was given that beautiful Gibson from our neighbour across the street from us on Briar Hill Drive in Battle Creek, Michigan. I am sorry I cannot remember their names, but they were certainly good friends of ours throughout my tour there. He was a Lt.Col in the USAF Reserve and taught high school.  One of the humorous things I remember was Mom giving him a 1 quart and a 1 pint milk bottle that somehow came with us on the move. He was so excited since he would use them during his 2 hour course on Canada. That was the total length of time for their history of Canada.  Anyway he came over one day and had the Gibson with him. He told me that it had been owned by quite a famous country singer and was given to him. It honestly looked like it had just come from the factory it was such a beautiful instrument. I simply adored it and learned to play somewhat from a book.(just our usual camping songs.).”

Because of this inspiration around stringed instruments, when I got a regular summer job at The Deluxe restaurant in North Bay, Ontario, I decided to buy my very own guitar.  I spotted the one I wanted in a music shop window on Main Street and began saving up my tips.  By end of summer, I made the purchase of my Yamaha Classical guitar…something I decided on so that I could play with ease because of the give of the classical strings instead of the resistance of steal strings.  I’ve treasured that guitar for ever since.  Yes…it’s gone out with my own kids to campfires and parties…but, it hung in and makes a beautiful sound to this day.

At the day of my purchase, I also bought a song book of Gordon Lightfoot songs.  The thing about this particular book, the chord illustrations appeared above the appropriate words, so I figured, like my Dad before me, I could teach myself to play guitar.

From 1960 until 1963, Gordon Lightfoot became a household name in Canadian homes.  He was and still is a wonderful song writer…optimistic writing, surfacing during what came to be known as the Folk Revival (just before the huge movement of Beatles music across North America and the world.)  I wasn’t like my brother, John, who next door to me in Great Falls, Montana, in a neighbouring bedroom, played the Grateful Dead and Gregg Allman.  I was playing Dylan; Buffy Ste. Marie; Peter, Paul & Mary; The Mamas and the Papas, Pete Seeger and Gordon Lightfoot.

In the end, it turns out that my older brother, John, became a person I would always admire for his ability on guitar.  He had the ear for music and was a natural.  He felt the guitar and released its spirit, where I would be measured and predictable.  I think he spent some years playing at gigs as well, and given his home in Sault Ste. Marie, he moved towards a Bluegrass style.

Once I moved to Lethbridge and attended University, I continued to appreciate more mellow voices and music, enjoying Valdy, Bruce Cockburn, Bette Midler, Cat Stevens and Paul Williams.  Somewhere along the line, I bought myself a Three Dog Night album.  It seemed that I never really had a lot of money…still don’t…so accessing concerts and getting out for musical events didn’t really happen until I ‘grew up’.  I did, however, listen to other people’s music and so became exposed to a lot of Cabaret music in the day, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton and Grace Jones…on and on it went from there.

Summers and Christmases, traveling back home to share times with Mom and Dad, the guitars came out…and always there were sing-songs.  Mom always asked me to play and I did.

singing and group 4 Two

singing and group 4

Family reunions brought together a large group of very talented people, many of them sharing guitar during the programs.  Cecil, Jo-Anne, my brother, John…Dad…

singing

Kath and John Reunion 1984

There have been a lot of back yard, under-the-tree sorts of moments…sitting in the stair well at the U of L, singing my heart out.  Living in residence was isolating at times.  The guitar filled lonely moments.

 

Gloria

Singing at weddings…oh my gosh, I’ll never forget not being able to find my beginning note during Lord of the Star Fields.  But things went well when I played and sang I Will and also For Baby.

Gloria's Weding

There was never the chance or the opportunity to pick up a Gordon Lightfoot ticket before this recent purchase.  But, long-story-short (fail)…last evening I had the chance to attend a concert where 78 year old Gordon Lightfoot came to Calgary, I felt, to sing just to me.  I purchased the ticket some time ago.  Without a partner, I’ve had years to practice not being shy about attending events on my own.  Strategically, when something comes up on my radar,  I pour over the seating maps for the venues and select the best single seat that I can find for that event.  Last night, I ended up in the second row of the Grey Eagle Casino Theater, with an unobstructed view of Lightfoot.  A father and teenaged daughter duo were sitting to my right.  I felt a bit sorry for the daughter because after every tune, the Dad would turn to her and say, “Did you like that one?”

To my left, two Ya Yas sat down just as the show began, a little envious of the cold gin and tonic that I was sipping, having arrived in time to access the bar line before the performance.

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I felt that the performance last night was all about good song writing.  The lyrics, beautiful narratives, for the most part, were exquisite.  I was filled with admiration for this person…for a career of dedication, struggle, and sideways living-gone right.  I really listened to these lyrics for the first time and saw them as very positive.

I got teary at the point where Gordon Lightfoot began singing The Minstrel of the Dawn…and that continued until the end of the song. Many of his songs moved me, but this one, the most.

Lightfoot is good humoured about his abilities.  He has a great lead guitar that provides the thread of his former performances.  His voice is weaker than in the past, but has all of that quality that is endearing.  Some songs were performed as shorter versions of themselves, out of need to entertain the crowd with the ‘old familiars’, but Lightfoot performed his most recent writing in its entirety and with enthusiasm.  I was really impressed.

I can’t tell a lie.  As I listened, I thought about my Dad.  I thought about what a gift it must be (and I have some experience of this already) to be able to continue to delight in your talents after so many years.  Dad, at 86, is in a choir and continues to carry the magic of his Irish tenor voice whenever he interprets music.  I was impressed by Gordon Lightfoot last night and was moved in a remarkable way.  As we move into our later years, we need to do what we can to continue nurturing our gifts.  I’m posting a video here.  I hope you will take the time to listen to the interview and then, listen to the song.

Music is something we hold inside of us…like DNA.  The stories that we carry in us are, for the most part, bits and pieces of the music we have cherished in our lives.  Live music can never be underestimated for its impact on us.

Post Script: The Next Generation

 

Postcards of the Great War

As a part of researching my family, there are just a few archival items that have been passed along in our family and some of those are a little worse for wear.  There are two postcards, written by my Great Grandfather John Moors addressed to his son, my Grandfather John Moors.  One is in my auntie’s possession and the other is in my father’s possession.  The first one is known as a silk, easily identifiable because of the stitched front side.

Background and production

Embroidered silk postcards do not all date from the First World War – they were used for sentimental greetings in France before 1914. First exhibited in 1900, they continued to be manufactured until the 1950s. Production peaked during the 1914-18 war, as the format proved especially popular with British soldiers.  The hand-embroidery is thought to have been carried out in domestic houses as ‘out-work’ by civilians in France and Belgium, and in the UK by Belgian refugees. The designs were repeatedly embroidered on rolls of silk.  These were then sent to cities (mainly Paris) for cutting up, final assembly and distribution, in what was probably at that stage a factory operation.

The silk that we have in our family is now behind glass.  I apologize for the glare as it did impact the photograph, but it is great to have a digital image and to be able to share its contents with my family.

John Moors Post Card from Auntie Eleanor's House

On the backside…lovely words…a father to his son.  John asks for mailing information for Walter and George.  I’m pleased that I have placed both of them in this photograph prior to heading overseas.  He writes very much as my grandfather spoke, with a bit of formality.  I reach across time and space to give him my love.  This is August 2016, mid ocean.  My Great Grandfather died, while a patient, during the bombing of Etaples Canada Hospital on May 19, 1918.

Post Card John Moors 11

Walter and George both appear in the 40th Field Battery photo taken at Camp Borden.  I don’t know if my Great Grandfather had any opportunity to reconnect with them.  They both survived the war, though there are several references that put their military units at such locations as Vimy and Passchendaele.

R Walter Haddow 4th fr lft 2nd row frm back

My Great Uncle Walter…

Walter haddow 40th field battery

My Great Uncle George…

George Haddoe 1915 40th Field Battery

The second postcard was more simple issue, sent as my Great Grandfather was returning to the war, after a leave in Paris.  It’s strange, but this object is a real treasure, in my mind.  When one thinks about letters or postcards, there is an intimate relationship between the hand, the eye, and the heart…these two items were held in the hands of my relation.  Quite amazing that they have managed to move through the passage of time!

A couple of things I wonder…

…if my Grandfather sent his father letters.

…if anyone has a photograph of my Great Grandfather in uniform.  As far as I know, the photograph that appears at the bottom of this post is the only one in existence.  This is also a digital image.

I am forever-grateful for these two postcards, the last one post marked March of 1918, two months prior to John’s death.

Front Side Post Card John Moors

John Moors Postcard

P1130628

Writing on the Studio Wall

I have a long history of writing on walls.  But, what a friend recently told me is that Sharpie fades and will only last so long on drywall. (this explains why my affirmations, written on my bathroom wall in metallic gold pen, have begun to disappear)  So, as I looked at my studio walls, I DID realize that many of the original song lyrics and early writings of friends have begun to disappear.  I have documented these so that as they fade, they can be remembered as they become a part of the history of place.

I’ll begin with the most recent signing…that of my furnace tech, having just cleaned out my furnace and vents for this year.

If you do not see your writing on my wall, it is time for a studio visit!  Scout…looking for your writing. ;0)

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I need to change my filter more often.

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Annie Lennox: The Saddest Song I’ve Got (yup…sometimes when you’re painting, you feel sad and I would have been playing this CD while I painted, likely after I saw her playing a concert with Sting.)

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My oldest Kananaskis Country map plastered on the studio wall. I think about the mountains whenever I’m not in them. When I thought to, I recorded the odd hike…just so that I could remember the circumstance. Most times I forgot.

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Oh my gosh…winter hot dog roast at Sandy McNabb…that was a long time ago! I DID DO RAE GLACIER again!

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I didn’t keep this up…but, I thought it would be cool to list the new CDs that came into the studio. Don’t know what the Martha Stewart Wedding memo was about.

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This boy has a big influence on me. He got over some addictions. He helped me recently.

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Alan put up some shelves in the studio when I first built it…now, that was a long time ago! It seems we reused wood. I painted it up and it looked great. I remember when the studio was empty.

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Pat, from the Ironwood, was out with another buddy. I was bugging him about the fact that when the move happened from the present day Blue’s Can, they took Mussels off the menu. We were drinking wine in the studio that evening. These things happen.

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My niece, Mandi, wrote beautiful words for me on the morning of my first born’s wedding…and it’s almost impossible to read them anymore. I treasure them and always will. I send her love, abundant love.

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Bee, my dancing partner, when there’s good Honky Tonk music playing, continuously shares hilarious bits of blah blah…usually, I write them down.

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Oh, good grief…weird stuff ends up hung on my studio wall, but, I am always prepared. Nothing’s worse than having to leave a painting, in order to floss your teeth…and times wasted looking for it.

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Oh my gosh…I was obsessed with getting large storage for my big canvases. Thank you to all my friends and family who had to listen to my musings on this subject and to the two men who eventually built them. I’ve been afraid that they are going to fall on me while I paint, ever since. lol

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Yes, I was this obsessed. To the right, a beautiful mosaic created by a Larche artist, a gift from Father Clair Watrin a zillion years ago.

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One view of the storage that I love so much.

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The other side…

 

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Chris and Clayton…former students. Every so often the kids come back to visit…they’re both grown up now. We don’t forget, though. Proud of both of these dudes.

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Broken hearted, I cut three travel journals up into little squares, when my trucker boyfriend dumped me over the telephone. (I may as well be honest). Chances are that if you’ve got one of my paintings since 2006, one of these squares is buried in your painting. I thought it would be good to send a bit of my heart out with each new piece…the nice thing to announce is that it barely hurts at all any more. This is what happens with broken heartedness.

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Awe…my cousin, Clayton, just before he headed out for a huge walk for the support the Kidney Foundation? Correct me, if I’m wrong, Clay. Karina and Clayton…a gift to share an evening with them.

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Jen Hall took the first and only ‘real’ portrait that I’ve had done of me…and Max…and she documented a few paintings for me. She’s awesome.

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I have a habit of picking up things in old frames, especially if they look like they were hung in some one’s kitchen for a zillion years…where mayhaps tea was served and ladies talked.

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I read stuff about our animal/bird/insect/plant species that are in trouble…I clip them here…I don’t want to forget. Some of these land in paintings…it all depends what I’m thinking about at the time.

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My son….he was my very young batman…he wanted to keep everyone safe and happy and calm. These are two of my favourite photos of him. The other one…well, you saw it earlier.  James and sister, Cayley, at Angel Glacier.

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Yeah…more journal squares…a piece from Ashleigh Bartlett’s workshop at Esker…more salvaged religious memorabilia from the second hand stores…a postcard of Tim Belliveau’s glass…my all time favourite glass artist.

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Book suggestions…words from my sister-in-law, Grace. Aaron, Angela and Wisdom visited me and took away my teaching table so that I would never, again, be tempted to teach in the studio, but instead, paint.

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Yes…my daughter’s wedding. Trying to remember neighbour’s names…

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Karina…beautiful. I wish more of my relations from Raymond and Lethbridge and Magrath would stop in for visits. Love them so much.

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Youngest person to visit my studio…Wisdom is growing up so fast. Love the Sponge Bob!

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Leaves of Grass: Walt Whitman Read it! WHEN the true poet comes, how shall we know him— By what clear token,—manners, language, dress? Or shall a voice from Heaven speak and show him: Him the swift healer of the Earth’s distress!

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Bill used to move my art…I loved him so much.

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Bill Webb…still painting luminous landscapes of the Livingston Range and winter roads. New adventures are happening for my dear friend.

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James Blunt…during heart wrenching moments in the studio.

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Margy…oh my gosh…how many times did we watch the music video and sing along with this tune??

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Bob Nelson…drove all the way from Helena and we went down to Knox and listened to acapella music. High school friend and talks about life, the world and Kant. I’m catching waves.

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I didn’t see this note about the scissors until today. Cayley, sorry that I wasn’t helpful. lol The scissors are hanging in the scissor place over there!

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Beautiful lady, Angela. And, I guess some sort of recommendation from Dylan. Dylan and Kristan, former students, have visited. But…it’s been a while. Both are doing inspiring and exciting things. I still have a JH self portrait in a portfolio for Kristan to pick up. lol

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Oh dear…I can’t read this. Can you? Please let me know…something about meditation…I can read “Remain Radiant”

REMAIN ‘RADIANT,’AS JOYCE PUT IT, IN THE FILTH OF THE WORLD.

The goal of life is to be a vehicle
for something higher.Keep your eye up there
between the pairs of opposites
watching your play in the world.Let the world be as it is
and learn to rock with the waves.Remain ‘radiant,’
as Joyce put it,
in the filth of the world.”~ Joseph Campbell, Excerpt From: “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.” Joseph Campbell Foundation, iBooks

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This young man…an accomplished and published photographer/journalist out of Toronto. Look for his stuff on cars…and his road trips! Proud of you, Clayton.

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My brother, owner of Cliff’s Chinook Charters out of Comox, wrote about the plight of the salmon. I love my brother…he knows how much I think about him. I caught a big one out there, while sharing a trip with my daughter and father.

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Leslie Champ, former student and amazing man! Christmas visit 2013. The little piece matted in purple, a piece of art created by student Katie McGreevy for me when I taught at St. John’s Fine Arts School…again, a zillion years ago. A couple pieces of my paint-by-number collection.

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I cherish Leslie’s words.

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Jen…another artist extraordinaire. A part of a powerhouse teaching team at AGC when it was before the boss woman went down in flames.

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Middle Child, daughter Cayley, is one of my two daughters. Both have taught me about courage. I could not have learned the lessons of courage in life, without them.

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Thank you.

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Rita, I miss you. You opened up so much discourse. You supported me.

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First born. I can’t type anything about her without getting teary. Such a warm, funny, organized, loving human being! Brave! Pam and Larry, that was a fun night! Such fun!

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“The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.” ― Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark

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lol You’re welcome, Larry.

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In two places.

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Jen, I miss you. A bit of a piece done with Asheigh Bartlett, as a response to work by Jack Bush.

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People leave me stones, shells and earth from places they have traveled…these came from Australia. Thank you, Bob.

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Natasha…former student studying art in Vancouver. Love you and so proud of you.

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Darwin stones.

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Prince Edward Island Sand…touch it every once and a while and my mother comes to mind.

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Shells and stones…Prince Edward Island. I get teary looking at these.

Of all the Places

I ended up thinking about this place today.  I sat with my children, as we do on Sundays, ate a meal and shared stories and as they left and I find myself alone at the table, I feel a certain sadness for the passage of time.  Sundays with Gramma meant a blade roast, cooked slowly, all day long.  Sundays meant cartoons with Grampa on the sofa.  I’m grateful for my family and the memory of places that remain in my heart.  If you are in my family and have a photo of yourself on this front step, please forward it to me, so that I may include it here.

The Mill For Sale As I remember it. Woolen Mill 001 Uncle Bob Moors in Magrath Alberta July 1963

Florence, John and Bob Woollen MillRuth and Roy IMG_5619 IMG_8911 IMG_8912

Woolen Mill

They lived off of the front of a woolen mill, the only one in all of Western Canada.  The evening we arrived at the Magrath Wool, Card and Spinning Mill, was the first time I had ever met my grandparents.  It was a one bedroom apartment with a curtain strung for a bedroom door.  To the right of the front door was a small office with papers and invoices heaped high on a huge oak desk.  Some old black and white photographs were pinned to the bulletin board.

To the left, a living room opened up, with a sofa set before a half wall that was easily called the Wiley Coyote-Couch because every evening after work, Grampa would sit for the cartoons with as many grandchildren as possible nestled around and about him.  The half-wall revealed on the other side, the kitchen where most of the visiting would happen.  My Gramma was the nucleus of this portion of the home.  I still remember her, without dentures, eating a slice of white bread slathered with butter and sprinkled with white sugar.  The sound of her laughter and the appearance of her crinkled face stay with me.

Deep into the living room was a second sofa, this one was a pull-out bed.  My parents would sleep there.  Beside the sheers on the living room window, grew a huge Christmas cactus, dust woven in and out of its myriad of branches.  There was a small electric organ in front of the same large picture window and Gramma would play Aura Lee and Going Home and make my father weep.

The evening we arrived, Gramma met us all at the front door, squealing.  It seemed my father held onto her forever.  She had one of those cover-up aprons on, more like a duster…it was covered in golden flowers and was as soft as can be.  Grampa was called in from the mill…Gramma called him, lovingly, Jack.  Whenever he made his way into the kitchen from the mill, his first gesture was to lift his suspenders up and over his big shoulders.  When he smiled his eyes always filled with tears, it was just the way it was.  He smelled of this wonderful scent of raw wool and wore little pieces of grey and white fluff in his hair and on his clothing.  I loved these two with my whole heart.

The sight of my grandparents for the first time, was indeed, a little taste of heaven.  Having lived on the move so much, it was those memories that I would grow to hold onto and keep in the treasure box of my soul.

Loving the Bogners

It’s a beautiful thing to have friends who journey the years with you…while not WITH you exactly, they are in your heart. Everything I’m about to write comes from the rewriting of memory.  It’s interesting that when Randy Bogner sits down and recalls a story or two, it seems to me, that those stories can be completely different from the ones that I recall.  But, such is life and its richness.  In telling stories, people can create something new each time…you know what I mean?  If you don’t share a zillion years then you don’t get to discover how this works.  One must laugh and enjoy these experiences.  They are the blessings of lives well-lived.

I met Randy what seems THAT zillion years ago.  It was through those years when I had a beautiful and young circle of friends early 70s, in Lethbridge, Alberta.  I was blessed to be able to meet and live with my dear friend, to this day, Gloria. These were the years of EOF projects, Employment Opportunities For Youth and several of our group were employed teaching drawing, clay and painting in tucked away places, like the Civic Skating Rink.  I remember listening to one teacher-friend reciting poetry while sitting on a table and at the same time, braiding a bracelet.  I remember riding my bike every where.

Given that my family had moved east again, as was my father’s military obligation, I found myself plunked into a world that was strange and unfamiliar to me.  So, along with the new, that same bike would regularly be parked up against the outside wall of a variety of churches, finally resting up against the brick wall of St. Patrick’s parish and so began my journey toward becoming a Catholic.

These were the days of hippie earth children, long hair and the White Album.  Randy’s hair was admired by everyone, given that it extended the full length of his back.  And he was/is a tall drink of water, so that’s saying something.  Cabarets were also big and while I didn’t drink, I enjoyed the lively music and dancing late into the night. Hmmm….a good time to inject some music. S’alright…you needn’t listen to the entire album, but you might set it to play while you’re reading this nostalgia.

These were the years of back yard visiting, Yukka Flux and communal foot washing/rubbing rituals.  It was a different time.

I remember, as well, that Randy played classical guitar so beautifully and during gatherings there would be this amazing sound going on while our friends talked over it.  These were the days when we had it ALL FIGURED OUT and we were going to change the world.

Glo was/is the one who I must give credit to making sure that, over the years, we all stuck together…stayed in touch…were informed on births, deaths, marriages and she is a blessing to us all!  For example, she created this collage of photographs, some distant past and others from 2000.  Her card…I save them all…is dated August 25, 2001.

Glo Collage

Gloria's WedingI lost touch with Randy for a chunk of years as he disappeared into the Slocan Valley…lived with a family of wonderful brothers and sisters and created pottery.  This, from the outside, appeared to be a spiritual quest for Randy and contributed to his forever-formation as a Christian, I’m certain.  We joke about the only visit I made out to Slocan, along with my daughter and a then-boyfriend.  The ‘Shack’ seemed to be so tucked away in the trees of the valley, that from the bottom of a dirt road, I started calling out to the trees…”Randy!  Randy!  Are you there, Randy?”  It turned out to be a beautiful visit, however other-worldly.

A few photographs, snappled up without permission, to illustrate Randy of those days…late 70s-early 80s.

Kiln Opening Randy Bogner Hobo Late 70s or early 80s Hobo the dog Slocan Valley Randy Bogner 1983I am blessed in that I have been the recipient of a couple of pieces of pottery created by Randy.

What happened after that…I don’t know.  Years passed. Gloria, again, became the reason I reunited with Randy and his beautiful wife, Jane, and their girls.  A lot had transpired for the Bogners before this meeting.  But…not my story to share.  It was such a blessing to meet Jane and now to know her as a true Ya Ya.  Wonderfully warm and generous of spirit, I can now say that I’ve had opportunity, along with Glo, to share much home made bread, soup and pastries with Jane’s family. Another family that loves dogs as much as I do!  Jane is a wealth of knowledge, especially around book recommendations and always has the right question to ask to inspire and to provoke thought. I admire Jane’s ability to cook, and especially delight in her baked goods, but I’ve also had opportunity to look at her art portfolio and I still look forward to a paint-out opportunity. We share many laughs when we are visiting the Bogners and I’m so grateful for these times.

The last huge body of work I painted was an exhibit titled The Places I Have Been, hosted by the Wallace Art Galleries and the Bogner family, Glo and several of her friends came out to support me.  I don’t know what I’d do without friends like these.  That collection of landscapes somehow represented, also, the landscape of these friendships and what they have come to mean over time.

Oil Paintings 2

2010 Visiting the Bogners

2010 Visiting the Bogners

2010 Bogners

There’s That Warm Bread!

2010 Bogners 5

There’s That Home Made Soup!

 

2013 Visit With the Bogners and Meeting Juno

2013 Visit With the Bogners and Meeting Juno

House Concerts

House Concerts

Room for Dessert?  YOU BET!

Room for Dessert? YOU BET!

Quiche, Home Made Bread, Salad and the Glo's Gift of an Orchid

Quiche, Home Made Bread, Salad and the Glo’s Gift of an Orchid

2014 Visit With the Bogners

2014 Visit With the Bogners

I could go on and on with photographs and anecdotes, but suffice it to say today, Sunday, I’m grateful to the friends in my life.  I’ve appreciated your support, your humour and your genuine love all of these years.  Let’s remember always what these years have meant.

The Art of the Jack-o’-lantern

The last few years, the pumpkin has been transformed in ways that it really hadn’t ever been before.  I suppose it started with the sale of special carving tools that went beyond the basic carving knife utilized by our parents.

Just yesterday, I saw one of these contemporary carvings posted by friend, arts educator and artist, Jen Dunne, a depiction of Edgar Allan Poe.  Absolutely fantabulous!  I would guess that the carving happens, much like the process of batik, where you have to think ahead to what general forms you wish to read lightest in value all the way to darkest or black.  The light will glow through the various layers revealing a number of glowing orange values/greys….very coolio!

Photo Credit: Jen Dunne

Photo Credit: Jen Dunne

While the Tell Tale Heart is my favourite, Edgar Allan Poe is most known for his poem, The Raven.

Back to pumpkins.

When I was a child, it was Dad who gathered us around the kitchen table for the carving of the jack-o’-lantern.  Mom was always busy harvesting items in the house that we could use for our home made costumes.  She also salted and placed in the over, a tray of seeds once separated from the heap of yucky pulp.

2006 pumpkin

2006 pumpkin

I’ve carried on the tradition with my children all of these years, but consistently carving the same grinning face that my father carved out for us. I missed my Dad last night…I do every year on Halloween night.  He is and will always remain a part of my memory when I light up the candle in my jack-o’-lantern.

DSC_1053HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARY!

 

Finding Florence Lahti

It was a couple of years ago, while visiting my mother and father in Belleville, Ontario that I purchased this book in a second hand shop and was carried away by the small notations in this text book about Canadian history published in 1929.  And so, I wrote this post…

Florence Lahti 1Florence Lahti 2

 

Today, during my flipping of pages on the internet, as well as reading about Atlantis and telescopes, I discovered Florence Lahti’s obituary.  Florence married a Morley Goddard and it seems, remained in Sudbury for her entire life.  She passed away on March 24 of 2008 and predeceased by her brother Victor…his name also appearing in the front of the book.

If any member of the family would like, I will send you this little text of Canadian History so that you might enjoy the doodles and inscriptions and underlined text of your relation.  Just let me know. Not everyone is like me (this makes me laugh) and may consider it a blessing to clear out objects/books and mementos.  It’s just that this seems to me to be a very special book!

Here is Florence’s childhood home, 385 Burton Ave in Sudbury.

387 is the house on the left and 385, the one on the right.

387 is the house on the left and 385, the one on the right.

GODDARD, Florence Lillian (nee Lahti) – With deepest sadness, the
family announces the passing of our cherished Mother and dear friend
Lillian Goddard, 83 years, at the Sudbury Regional Hospital – Memorial
Site, Tuesday, March 24th, 2008. Lil was a voracious reader and had a
passion for solving crossword puzzles. She also enjoyed many nights
with the girls playing bridge. Lil loved the outdoors and was most at
home at the Black Lake and Johnnie Lake Camps. She was in her
element cross-country skiing and playing golf. While raising her three
boys, Lil returned to the workforce as an Executive Assistant to the
President of Cambrian College and Dean of Health Sciences retiring in
1988 after 16 years. Lillian’s greatest joy was spending time with her
family, especially her three grandchildren, who she treasured. Beloved
wife of Morley Goddard predeceased 1972. Loving mother of Morley
(Heather) of Mississauga, Marcus (Jennifer) of Rothesay, N.B. and
Spencer of Toronto. Cherished Grandma Lil of Lauren, Charlotte, and
Spencer. Dear daughter of Victor and Ellen Lahti predeceased. Dear
sister of Victor predeceased (Alyce of Sudbury). Dear aunt of James
(Victoria) of Milford, Jeffrey (Sally) of Field, B.C. and Leslie (Ross) of
Melbourne Australia.

The Stuff of Life: Musical Moments

I have every intention of writing a post here, but, no guarantees. (Three days after writing this introduction, I return to the keyboard.) It’s another ‘hot one’ outside. (As I sit to put the punctuation on this blog post, an entire month and more has gone by.  It is raining outside, with a night time temperature of 13 degrees. I invite my readers to just sit back and enjoy the ride!)  We’ve had a long string of beautiful days and after such a rough winter, is it any wonder that writers step away from their keyboards and artists abandon their studios?  It’s time to make discoveries and later, pull back into the world of studios when  the snow flies and the world is once more, asleep.

I thought I might report on the folk festival daily, but that also failed after Thursday’s reviews, so here I will attempt a sketchy recollection of summer moments and the recent ‘stuff’ of life.

Dad arrived safe and sound, completing another Trans-Canada drive from Ontario and this has been a joy for me; to be able to cook together, eat beautiful foods together and to kiss one another good night before heading for bed.  Our conversations can be interesting and charged with new awareness and revelation OR frustrating and awkward.  We’ve never seen eye-to-eye on several topics and everyone knows it, but I respect no one more than I respect my Dad, for his knowledge, his generosity and his huge conviction. My Dad and I are both religious people and we treasure those discussions.  He knows his scripture and when I share my thoughts about nature, the land and my feelings (both positive and negative), he comes from the same framework and so he inspires me.  Dad loves me and it’s so nice to be on the same red sofa, in the same rooms…the same house…with THAT love.  We are sharing beautiful times.  I love my Dad.

July 27th marked Mom’s second birthday without us, and us without her.  I happened to be down at the folk festival.  Dad was visiting our relations in southern Alberta.  Daughter, Cayley and I melted into the day.  I told her that I didn’t want to be rushing and so I had my first coffee on my back yard deck while watching the birds at the feeder and doing a bit of gardening.  My Mom would have enjoyed all of that.

Sharing a tarp with my children, first we enjoyed Sam Carter.

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I think that one of the most blessed moments of that day was when Matt Patershuk  was emcee at a workshop and decided to end the set with a participatory event that involved the improvisation of You Are My Sunshine, a tune that my mother led our family in singing on so many wonderful road trips.  Mom so enjoyed road trips AND sing songs.  This was a true gift.  There were several really magical moments shared during Folk Festival.

The first concert that I ever attended came after I left Great Falls, Montana and attended University in Lethbridge, Alberta.  The Yates Theater hosted an intimate concert featuring an up-and-comer, Bruce Cockburn.  A young, gangly man, he walked out to center stage, carrying his own wooden stool and an acoustic guitar.  Above him, was hung a mirror ball that came to life during his tune, All the Diamonds in the World.  It was such an amazing concert.  I routinely listened to his early albums on Mark Mehrer’s turn table in my residence.

Yates LethbridgeI enjoyed Bruce Cockburn at both a workshop and an evening concert.  Both experiences were moving as I felt so plugged into the music.

P1180216Nigerian, Seun Kuti, truly rocked the Main Stage on Saturday night.  Cayley and I moved right up to the front row for this…energy…drums…rhythm…voices that were strong and full of conviction.  This was mesmerizing!  Walking to the C Train that night, we felt pulled into the crowd…music connecting all.

Amazing dancers/back up singers!

Amazing dancers/back up singers!

As I continue to jot these musical moments, I am realizing that in no way am I capturing my delight and engagement in these acts.  In fact, I feel that there is no way that I can even list all of the musicians that I discovered this year at folk festival.  I’ll attempt some highlights, beginning with Leonard Sumner of Little Saskatchewan First Nation, Manitoba.  He has evolved to a style that combines a folk/country rhythm with a rap lyric.  I was touched by this young man’s connection to a unique narrative and was impressed by his song writing, a tool to reach others and to encourage healing.  For similar reasons, I enjoyed Nick Sherman of Sioux Lookout, Ontario.

New to me, as well, was The Provincial Archive of our own Edmonton, Alberta.  I enjoyed them at an early workshop on the final day as well as their own stage in the heat of the afternoon.  Nice thing was, they led us in a final tune, a Pete Seeger tribute.  We all joined in singing If I Had a Hammer, a tune that wound up the final performances of every stage all over the grounds that afternoon. Very cool for lots of reasons.

I waited, excited, to hear Matt Andersen on the Main Stage on Sunday Night.  I have enjoyed his music for years.  His guitar playing was fantasmic and his last tune of the night blew us all out of the water…a great ending to a highly successful 2014 Folk Festival.  I guess I’d have to say that I prefer to see Matt take a stage on his own…no back-up, but the Mellotones showed up and really owned the stage along side ‘the man’.

Music…a huge net that captures the stuff of our lives!  Universal. Powerful. Magic.

The Waltz We Were Born For
Walt McDonald, 1934

I never knew them all, just hummed
and thrummed my fingers with the radio,
driving five hundred miles to Austin.
Her arms held all the songs I needed.
Our boots kept time with fiddles
and the charming sobs of blondes,

the whine of steel guitars
sliding us down in deer-hide chairs
when jukebox music was over.
Sad music’s on my mind tonight
in a jet high over Dallas, earphones
on channel five. A lonely singer,

dead, comes back to beg me,
swearing in my ears she’s mine,
rhymes set to music that make
her lies seem true. She’s gone
and others like her, leaving their songs
to haunt us. Letting down through clouds

I know who I’ll find waiting at the gate,
the same woman faithful to my arms
as she was those nights in Austin
when the world seemed like a jukebox,
our boots able to dance forever,
our pockets full of coins.

MY ’70s Show!

My life experience is very much rooted in the 1970s.  I graduated high school in Great Falls, Montana in 1973 and certain events of that period inform my memories. From 1970 onward, a  fund raiser was in place, selling bracelets for the soldiers MIA, as a result of the war in Vietnam. It is an interesting recollection that contextually, it was a very different matter to be a Canadian in this place and time.  When I look at That ’70s Show, I see myself and my family.  It is entertaining, but it is also a curiosity.

Being a Canadian, living south of the border through my high school years, I studied American History, Ancient Civilizations and experienced a huge focus on sports, clubs, expensive field trips, some racial segregation, even in the west, (although I was very naive about this and crossed boundaries of every sort), and a leaning toward a particular type of art.  Here is an example…a calendar that I still have, silk screened by my high school art teacher, Mr. Dwight Winenger and a piece of his work titled, Seriously Centric displayed at the Charles M. Russell Gallery in 1972.  Silkscreen was big at the time and I enjoyed the process.

1973 Winenger

Seriously Centric Charles M. Russel Gallery Great Falls Mr. Winenger 1972

This is where I went to high school, graduating in 1973…Charles M. Russell High School.

CMRKath GraduationThis is my bestie, Ramona.  We did the photo booth thing after one of our epic walks around the city.  We walked everywhere and this was great preparation for the lifestyle I took on once moved to Lethbridge, Alberta.  University was across the Oldman River from the city and so I bought myself a pair of gators and hiked in routinely, when the river was frozen and took the long hike over to the bridge (only one bridge in the day) when the river was open.

CMR MonaThis is family…AND our basement and our kitchen.

Great Falls 1 Great Falls 2 Family Photo Great FallsI had a crush in high school, but only one date, and not with the crush.  Dick didn’t have me out again because at the Drive-In movie, Castle Keep, I didn’t ‘keep him warm’. I’m laughing as I type this. The movie was fantastic!  My only regret was that my Mom had spent money on such a fabulous pair of lilac coloured bell bottoms.  I have hunted for a photograph of the Drive-In, but am having some troubles with that.

Someone found a photo for me!!  Whoot!  Thanks goes out to Rhonda M. Potts!

Twi-Lite

My family moved east again; Dad, transferred from Malmstrom Airforce Base back to North Bay, Ontario.  I liked the dry air of the west, the vast expanse of sky and really wanted to remain west, so having done my research, landed myself up in Lethbridge.

I don’t want to get into a huge narrative about life in Lethbridge, but I do want to say that it is my favourite place in the world.  It might be that this is because it was/is such a sleepy place, but something about the people in my life and the landscape, remained in my bones always.  These were years of formation for me.  I hiked those coulees until I knew them through and through.  I harvested cactus berries and rosehips, made tea in my room, listened to Valdy on my friend’s turn table.  I wore ankle length embroidered jean skirts and Progress store work boots.  Times were good.

Robert Waldren has kindly shared some archives with our common friend, Ed Bader, and has given me permission to use them here, so with gratitude, I share them.  I’m also including here a few coloured photographs that really pick up on the ’70s.

A hundred years later…Pauline and I share time out in Argenta.  I love and miss you, Pauline.

1977 February-u-of-l-pauline-mcgeorges-watercolour-class-01 Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

1977 February University of Lethbridge Pauline McGeorge’s Watercolour Class 01 Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

1977 October: Dennis Burton Opening Ed Bader and Paulinemcgeorge

1977 October: Dennis Burton Opening Ed Bader and Pauline McGeorge (Photo Credit: Robert Waldren)

1957_60115820210_602_nArt Department Magic

1977 March U of L Herb Hick's Drawing Class (I include this photograph because my friends from residence would sleep on this platform at all hours of night while I worked.) Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

1977 March U of L Herb Hick’s Drawing Class (I include this photograph because my friends from residence would sleep on this platform at all hours of night while I worked.) Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

October 1977 Dennis Burton Opening: Charley, Ed, herb, Pat

October 1977 Dennis Burton Opening: Charley, Ed, herb, Pat

One of my favourite people, Larry Weaver, ceramics prof…a man who has fathered me on more than one occasion.  Grateful always to him and to his beautiful wife, Nina.

March 1977 Larry Weaver in Ceramics Studio (Photo Credit: Robert Waldren)

March 1977 Larry Weaver in Ceramics Studio (Photo Credit: Robert Waldren)

Larry and Nina Weaver 1979

Larry and Nina Weaver 1979

I don’t think I have a single photograph of me from ’73 until ’77.  It was not the age of the selfie.  IT WAS THE TIME FOR LIVING.  A short musical interlude at this time…a tune coming out some time around 1968.  If this isn’t enough for you, I’ll point my readers in the direction of the song, Time for the Seasons by the Zombies.  Same time, same sentiment.  Just not such a self-focused world at the time.  This is what I grew up with.

Recently, I attended a fantastic event, Art on the Rocks, a figure drawing experience hosted by the Glenbow Art Museum and taught by a friend of mine, Tim Belliveau.  I told him that I would give him feed back about his workshop to share the differences between his approach to figure drawing and the practice he has been taught and the experience of my own practice, coming out of the ’70s.  As I was drawing gesture, contour, negative space and focused on the model, I was swept back in time…the whole reason for this post.

This was the University of Lethbridge, the year that I graduated with a B. Ed degree in 1977.  The architect, Dr. Arthur Erickson, is no longer with us, but this particular building, its residence, academic rooms, landscape surroundings and people, had huge impact on my life.

University of Lethbridge April 1977 Panorama Robert Waldren

Photo Credit: Robert Waldren April 1977

My bedroom in residence…overlooking the coulees; and YES, that IS macrame!

Kath University RoomThe art and physical education buildings were separated from the main block by ‘the worm’.  Freezing cold in the winter and stifling hot in the warmth of other seasons, I walked up and down this structure more times than I could ever guess.

University of Lethbridge April 1977 Panorama Robert Waldren 2

Photo Credit: Robert Waldren April 1977

The Worm Winter Storm 1977

The Worm Winter Storm 1977 Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

Billy McCarroll in the day. Fantastic person, artist, teacher, musician. Photo Credit: Robert Waldron

Billy McCarroll in the day. Fantastic person, artist, teacher, musician. Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

 

Robert Waldron 4

Ed Bader, drawing in beautiful light. We were always surrounded by lots of concrete. Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

Robert Waldron 2

Carl Granzow; Spirited sculpture prof. Maker of magic and full of laughter.  Photo Credit Robert Waldren.

April 1977 SAAG opening Dale Ketchison Guitar Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

April 1977 SAAG opening Dale Ketchison Guitar Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

It’s time to take Max for a walk, but it’s been really wonderful looking at the impact of the 1970s.  I am grateful to my friends and teachers of the time.  I developed a real hunger for experiences in nature, a desire to create in both written form and in art.  Great professors caused me to teach more than anything and so I did.

Here are a couple of tunes.  My very first concert wasn’t a big name band, but rather, Bruce Cockburn, sitting on a stool center stage at the Yates theater.  It wasn’t until years later that I heard Valdy singing in a community center here in Calgary, but his music was a part of my creating back in the day.

Coaldale Farm House 1973-1974.

Kath with FidoMaking home made bread 1976-1977.  Photo credit: Lorraine Lee

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It was 2008!

In 2008, I left behind a drawing/message a day on a piece of fabric.  My friend, Cathy, then quilted it all together in love.  Today I am thinking about that friendship and in going over the bits of writing, I am considering just how rich our lives are, particularly if we have the reminders of a snapshot each day, left behind.  Yes, life is a struggle at times!  And although life does not promise to be easy, it is a many-layered, magical memoir.  I am putting MY 2008 out there, as a healing sentiment for all.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

Photo Credit: Jenn Hall

Photo Credit: Jenn Hall

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