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.

2016 Visiting Al Gerritsen

Today marks the Feast Day of St. Nicholas and I was blessed to share an afternoon in Al Gerritsen’s studio with a friend.  Every time I visit Al, I feel calm and happiness and I take in everything I can; the visual aesthetic, the smell of wood, and the recollections of so many wonderful stories.

My nativity is set up in the front yard, the indoor nativity figures are set out on the table for Advent and it has become a bit of a custom for me to make an annual visit to the woodcarver’s shop, just to enjoy the friendship and the creative energy.

Today, I had the opportunity to hear about Al’s Christmas posters and selected four for my Gerritsen collection.  Each one, unique, and again, with a story all of its own.  I don’t think I’ve ever known such a prolific artist.  This second week of Advent is all about PEACE…and today was certainly that!

Following the visit, a hot cup of peppermint tea and some pretty special ocean vessel talk! Overall, a magical afternoon!

-18 and -30 with windchill, this day brought with it, sun dogs, two eagles circling above the Bow and frozen eyelashes at the pond.  Amazing day!

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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?

Bleasdell Boulder

This past summer, I learned just how genuinely accommodating my father can be.  I tend to have many over-riding passions; reading, writing, history, art and family history.  Once I connect with a story, some one else’s story, I tend to want to explore it for its details and for its nuances.  This is what happened when I read Francis Itani’s Deafening.  Because the book was so regional and because summer brought me smack dab in the middle of her setting, I had to explore that.

Similarly, after Dad and I attended the County Festival Player’s rendition of  A Splinter in the Heart, an adapted screenplay based on Al Purdy’s novel…I just had to look deeper.  The following summary, borrowed from and linked to Goodreads.

 Al Purdy’s only novel, A Splinter in the Heart, is an unforgettable coming-of-age story that unfolds against the real-life tragedy of what came to be known as the Trenton Disaster. Set in 1918, it tells the story of sixteen-year-old Patrick Cameron and the events that will change him – and the Ontario town in which he lives – forever. Over the course of one summer and fall, Patrick finds love with a girl whose betrayal he cannot foresee, confronts the death of his beloved grandfather, and comes to terms with a neighbourhood rival. All the while, his hometown of Trenton lives precariously in the shadow of a dynamite factory, a sinister reminder of the Great War, which brought such prosperity to the town. Vivid with character and event, and evocative of time and place, A Splinter in the Heart is a moving portrait of a young man’s journey into adulthood in an era of change.

My father generously agreed to take me to see the location of the old munitions factory and also to visit Bleasdell Boulder in one of the region’s conservation areas.  The erratic is mentioned as a place for romantic meetings between young people in the early 1900s and likely, even today.  Well researched, Al Purdy’s writing, especially his poetry, is linked to specific places right across Canada.  I had a very enjoyable time, visiting many of these places, structures and houses most times demolished or changed, but natural geography, remaining as he might have experienced in his own lifetime.

So, on a beautiful late summer day, Dad and I headed out for a short hike to the erratic, Bleasdell Boulder.  I discovered that my Dad takes strides, much like my paternal grandfather…long and fast.  I had quite a time staying up to him.  Thanks, Dad, for going exploring with me!

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Equinox Vigil 2015: Union Cemetery

This was the first time that I attended the Equinox Vigil.  I was primarily motivated because it was a lovely evening for weather.  For the first days, leaves were dancing down the street…a slight wind, warm sun, blue sky dappled in cloud, cool air.  It was a perfect autumn evening.  The fall equinox falls on Wednesday of this coming week.

I thought that I would bring to the non-denominational event, thoughts and prayers for my dearly departed Mom and my family.  I would open up to a reflective and prayerful evening in the Union Cemetery.  The evening opened with a beautiful sky and dance.  This piece, Rico. Michael was a piece created with Calgary’s departed, Michael Green, at heart.

Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 001 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 004 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 008Various musicians were present to the event…first and throughout the evening, Simon Fisk and Robin Tufts.  Their music was both haunting and spirit-charged.  Absolutely beautiful.  I stood in the dark at one point and just listened and was moved because of this powerful setting.Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 018 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 019I wrote Mom’s name on one of the Memorial Lanterns, lanterns that would be processed twice throughout the evening…light in a dark place.  This ritual felt a lot like writing Mom’s name into the Book of Remembrance at my parish church.  Each year, when the Book of Remembrance is placed for all to see,  I pray for her peace and our peace…those left behind and missing her.

Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 020 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 022Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 023 While I oriented myself to the setting and the event, I missed a couple of events that I had hoped to enjoy…one, the Quickdraw Animation film screen, a tribute to Chris Reimer, ‘Dude, That’s Insane’…

and Kris Demeanor, poet and musician.Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 026Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 028 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 030At the top of the hill, at the M Horseshoe of the Union Cemetery Rayne-Anne Latchford illuminated lives, by sharing with us, a number of stories of personalities who lived in Calgary, but who passed and are now laying, for the most part, in unmarked graves.  She has a passion for history and for the narratives of people.  She also spoke beautifully about how ‘now’ is the time to share stories with one another and to connect with our families.  It is the stories that will remain.

Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 031 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 033I could listen to historian, Harold Sanders for hours.  Thank you, for sharing with us history of Calgary’s cemeteries and letting us know just how much we can learn from the people who are resting in our midst.  I hope to have opportunity to return to Union Cemetery in the light of day and make some discoveries on my own. Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 037Being surrounded by music for the evening added to the atmosphere of the sacred.  Thank you to the Calgary Renaissance Singers & Players for their beautiful sound.

Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 039 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 043Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 047 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 051Beautiful installations were sprinkled throughout the Cemetery pathways…this one, the Breath of Life Memorial by Eveline Kolijn.

As it became dark, I settled in with a hot cup of spiced tea and chatted with friends.  It was good to see you Michelena, Billy, Jenn, Bev, Bill, Steve, Don and friends and Dale.  Walking alone, down the hill, the sky appeared lighter than the ancient evergreens that flanked me.  I looked up and gave thanks to my ancestors.  I also prayed for the many students who have passed away since teaching them…for my daughter’s and son’s friends who have passed…for my relations, most recently, my Auntie Margaret and my Uncle Bob.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.

Amen.

A Space to Inspire: Carli’s Classroom

There are several things that make guest teaching a positive experience.  I have the opportunity, in this role, to get out there and teach in a whole number of locations kindergarten to grade twelve.  Every day is filled with discovery.  I’ve thought recently that it’s too bad teachers don’t have the opportunity to experience one another’s classrooms the way that I do.

Every physical space has its own magic and I enjoy them all!  I thought I might start featuring some of the ‘coolness’ that is out there, with the permission of the beautiful teachers that call these places home during their work weeks. Recently, I came upon a room with a very special feeling.  Not only does it carry with it a peaceful aesthetic, but it also functions well.  Carli’s class is a grade two class.  The students love and respect their space and the function of each area appears to serve them well.

To begin with, I read “Pieces of My Pedagogy” posted on the wall at the counter where I located my day’s plan.  Good stuff.

??????????To these three canvases…words are added that represent ‘What Makes My World Amazing.”  These caused me to remember the pieces of magic I hoped my grade sevens would collect over the year, much to their frustration at times.DSC_1920 Simple displays of beautiful objects and framed photographs.  Things and places to wonder about.  DSC_1923 DSC_1924 ?????????? A mirror at the sink.  Paint brushes!DSC_1926 Under a cupboard…a little nook to feel safe and peaceful.DSC_1927 The Solar System built out of papier mache…the teacher chair for sharing stories. DSC_1929When we shared, I heard all about the way that Sirius is larger than our sun…and what a supernova is…and a black hole…and how we might stretch and then shrink very fast in a black hole.  I was amazed by our conversation.  The students had a good idea about scale based on their construction and study of the planets and the stars.  That day, I selected as my story book, Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust by April Pulley SayreGreat book!  Read it!  Very interesting conversations came up as we read this one!

DSC_1930 DSC_1932I love it when art comes from art…artists can inspire so much in us!

?????????? ?????????? DSC_1935The little clip boards are available if the students want to sit somewhere other than their  desks…sometimes they just want to get away from the traditional seating plan.

??????????At the children’s heights…birthdays…a calendar…some supplies they might need while being at their writing workshop.

??????????A message box…pencil crayons sorted by colour.

DSC_1938 The peaceful corner…?????????? ?????????? DSC_1941The tee pee… see through fabric…no more than two at a time.  Rotate through your class list.?????????? DSC_1944 DSC_1945 DSC_1946 DSC_1947 DSC_1948 DSC_1949 ?????????? DSC_1951 DSC_1952I just thought some of you would enjoy a few of these ideas.  I felt really happy in this space.  And this is where the grade twos created their images for the sentence, “A fiery shooting star flew across the midnight sky.”

DSC_1960Thank you, Carli Molnar, for giving me permission to share your space with us.

Beauty

The word BEAUTY seems almost an understatement for how I feel about nature and the changing sights as a new season unfolds.  I just could not think of an adequate title for this post.  I would also guess, knowing my attachment to nature, that I have likely used this title before in order to write about the very same thing.  Being redundant about beauty or nature, however, does not seem to be a fault, but rather a wonderful celebration and so I’ll carry on.

The sparrows have returned to the feeder.  As they ready their nests, they seem to be building up their stores.  So, where seed has fallen, the other critters gather and this beautiful rabbit nibbled fearlessly for quite some time on Sunday afternoon.

I was captivated by the beauty and miracle of the changing of its colour…from the pure white of winter through this next transition of soft brown.  I never cease to be amazed by these daily observations.

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The Beauty of Things

By Robinson Jeffers

To feel and speak the astonishing beauty of things—earth, stone and water,
Beast, man and woman, sun, moon and stars—
The blood-shot beauty of human nature, its thoughts, frenzies and passions,
And unhuman nature its towering reality—
For man’s half dream; man, you might say, is nature dreaming, but rock
And water and sky are constant—to feel
Greatly, and understand greatly, and express greatly, the natural
Beauty, is the sole business of poetry.
The rest’s diversion: those holy or noble sentiments, the intricate ideas,
The love, lust, longing: reasons, but not the reason.

New Year Resolve by Mary Sarton

May Sarton (1912-1995)
At her death, May Sarton had written 53 books: 19 novels, 17 books of poetry, 15 nonfiction works including her acclaimed journals, 2 children’s books, a play, and some screenplays. I’ve tried to list first editions here, whenever possible, or at least to give the copyright date if I couldn’t find a complete reference to the first edition. Many newer editions of her works are also in print. I have sometimes listed multiple editions if the illustrations or supporting materials are different. For a comprehensive bibliography describing works by and about Sarton, see May Sarton: A Bibliography. (Annotated) by Lenora P. Blouin. Metuchen, New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1978.

May Sarton wished that upon her death a fund would be established from the residue of her estate to provide scholarships for poets and historians of science. (Her father was a historian of science at Harvard.) The Sarton Fund has been established and is held under the auspices of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of which May Sarton was a member. The Sarton Estate recorded May Sarton’s memorial service, which may be ordered for a small sum that includes a donation to the fund.

To contact the Sarton Fund, write to:
Sarton Fund, c/o The American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Norton’s Woods, 136 Irving St., Cambridge, MA 02138.

Source

May-Sarton-Quotes-1

New Year Resolve by May Saron

The time has come
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow,
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.
Time for a change,
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.
Let silence in.
She will rarely mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.
For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.

from The Silence Now – New and Uncollected Earlier Poems

Listen Here

Opening Doors

New, this morning, is a Global Collaboration based on an inspiration I received the other day from my blogging friend, John Clinock at the Art Rat Cafe.  I am inviting all of my readers to send along a photograph of one of the memorable/quirky/special/most amazing doors in their lives.  Include a location, a photo credit and a brief account of what that door means to you.

John tells me that there are DOOR BLOGS.  I’d love to hear from a blogger of doors, as this is just a spark and I’m really profoundly curious about the doors that people have opened, both metaphorically and physically.

To see what I’m talking about, please peruse the beginnings HERE and thank you for participating.  Share this with your friends!  Painter Lady

Paris: Blue Door Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors

Paris: Blue Door
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors

This Morning In the Garden

Before attending karate last evening, I managed to get the garden implements tucked away in the shed and pulled out the snow shovels.  I also hung four strings of white sparkle lights into the arms of May, for some winter light in the back yard gardens.  This morning, however, I didn’t feel like walking through the 8 cm blanket of snow, in order to plug them in.  I’m opting to stay home this morning while so many others don’t have that choice.  I feel blessed that on a morning like this, I can put on the coffee and stay warm and off those roads!

The Snowbound City

By John Haines

I believe in this stalled magnificence,
this churning chaos of traffic,
a beast with broken spine,
its hoarse voice hooded in feathers
and mist; the baffled eyes
wink amber and slowly darken.

Of men and women suddenly walking,
tumbling with little sleighs
in search of Tibetan houses —
dust from a far-off mountain
already whitens their shoulders.

When evening falls in blurred heaps,
a man losing his way among churches
and schoolyards feels under his cold hand
the stone thoughts of that city,

impassable to all but a few children
who went on into the hidden life
of caves and winter fires,
their faces glowing with disaster.

Kathleen’s Back Yard

Doug’s Front Yard