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?

Cat Ladies and Other Good Habits

In 2007 I met one of the most gracious and fun-loving women of my life.  There was a huge context there and quite a history, but as of today, we jokingly share that we met in rehabilitation.

My readers will know that I lost my beautiful cat, Peanut Meister, this past year…well, I had to go and visit with Kirsten to get my fill of cat loving and at the same time, eat my belly full of beautiful white chocolate and berry scone!

We shared updates and laughs and took photos of Zebbie and Mitz from every angle, while sipping a home brewed latte flavoured with just a wee bit of vanilla.  YUM!  It was an awesome start to my day.  Thanks, dear Ya Ya!

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DSC_2531I am now going to wade through the kazillion photographs of these precious siblings and post a small selection here.  I also want you to notice what I was willing to do in order to capture these photo moments.  Zebbie is the one who looks somewhat like a zebra because of the markings down her back.  Mitz (not to be confused with Mitts) is a chill sort of guy…totally different demeanor as compared to his sister.  My purple winter coat became a fascination to both cats, but especially Zebbie.

First… one of the crazy cat ladies. (Because the other one doesn’t like her photograph taken. I am true to my word with people like this.)

Kath at Kirsten's 2(Anything for a picture of Mitz)

Kath at Kirstens 1Here’s the cat lady who shall remain out of photographs (for the most part).

DSC_2558And here just a couple of the little sweethearts.  It’s easy to see why cat videos and cat books are the norm these days.  They just put a smile on your face.

Mitz...and in the case that you didn't get a good look at that black marking under his chin, he will give you a better look.

Mitz…and in the case that you didn’t get a good look at that black marking under his chin, he will give you a better look.

Can you see it now?

Can you see it now?

Zebbie just loved the purple coat.

I see you.

I see you.

Oh, Go Away!

Oh, Go Away!

Intensity.

Intensity.

You're annoying me!

You’re annoying me!

We were thinking you might leave this coat behind.

We were thinking you might leave this coat behind.

I had a great morning.  Filled up with friendship, good food, good conversation and two beautiful cats, I headed home to my adoring canine, Max.  The weather was so beautiful…it was time to play!

 

A Matter of Time

The weather is changing…in fifteen minutes, I had collected up my bag of litter and Max and I were off to enjoy the shift in temperature and remarkable scenery.  A woman stood on the ridge looking, I suppose, wondering what I was up to.  Two pigeons strutted about the east side of the glassy pool of open water, two muskrats slid, slippery, into the dark water on the west rim.  I never cease to be in love with this small bit of the world.  A jet black crow dipped, unbalanced, with nesting material already spilling out of its beak.  Spring is just around the corner.

Always company, no matter the weather.

Always company, no matter the weather.

February 20, 2015

February 20, 2015

A shift in the weather.

A shift in the weather.

White to Colour

Today is a tremendously magical day.  Fresh snow covers everything and I ended up spending more time than usual at Frank’s Flats…playing with the Max Man and delighting in the dazzle of everything.

?????????? Cell January 31, 2015 Frank's Flats Fresh Snow Max 004DSC_2158DSC_2172Plans for the day have changed because of the beauty of the white…and the wonderful feeling of fresh cold air.  I like how that happens.

??????????The last I posted of this bedroom furniture DIY project was titled, WHITE.  I had everything primed and ready to go.  At that point, I had thought to paint based on Marc Chagall’s work, but have opted to do a free flowing bit from my own heart.  I wanted to pick up on the colours found in a feature painting hanging already in my bedroom…something I did a long time ago.  Here is where colour comes in.

P1170878First of all, Sisters Marjorie and Ita enjoyed a Sunday dinner with my son and me.  They were so gracious and brought me a beautiful spring bulb arrangement.  It has sat on my feast table this week and I have watched one plant after another, burst forth in colour.

DSC_2079DSC_2086While I have been very slow to progress with my studio furniture…I wanted to give a bit of a sense of where it is going at this time.  As well as what you see here, there will be other layers…text as well as sparrow paintings incorporated in collage techniques.  In the meantime, I continue to sleep on my brand new double box spring and mattress, on my bedroom floor.  I hope to update you again in the spring with the completed furniture.  Painting can be like experiencing the seasons…moving from the blank canvas to an energized piece of colour.

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Palette inspiration.

A Cat Story

This week was a tough one, for a whole lot of reasons…but this is one that I can write about.  We adopted Peanut from the Calgary Humane Society when he had been there for weeks and was scheduled to be put down, along with his sister who was sleeping in a corner of their shared cage.  Ironically, I was drawn to an old tabby (looked much as Peanut looks now) who was curled up in his small kennel space, quite peaceful…a tabby that had found his way into this situation when his forever-mother had passed away.

My daughter had other ideas. That day we met Peanut, a seven week old tabby who was literally climbing the walls of his cage and crying out to my daughter, Cayley…”PICK ME! PICK ME!”  I walked Cayley over to the older boy and said, “Look!  We need to save this beautiful boy!”  Her head was cranked over her shoulder and obviously making eye contact with this crying baby, literally dangling from the cage by his claws.  He had chosen her.

There was no way that I was leaving the building, without him.  That’s what happens when you visit a place that harbours lost and forgotten pets; your heart strings require a decision of you.  And so, you leave with your arms filled with love, a forever-love.

We picked him.

Peanut Blog 1That was in July of 1999.  As I look at his adoption contract, I notice that we listed as his date of birth, May 8, 1999, my birthday.  He was scheduled to be euthanized, along with his sister, 7 days from his adoption date.  Our Peanut is now 15 years old and at times, experiencing survivor’s guilt, as are we.  Often we have been challenged about leaving his sister back at the Calgary Humane Society on that day, so long ago.

Peanut has been with us through so many of our personal struggles, heart aches and joys.  He is family.  Our dear border collie, Laurie-dog, took him under his wing and Peanut learned to groom his dog-friend regularly and rarely did they sleep alone.

Peanut Blog 2As a kitten and young cat, he spent much of his recreational time finding and then hiding in plastic bags and pop boxes.  Even when his body had outgrown his mind, he nested in the funniest places.  Peanut has given us much to laugh about when we take ourselves too seriously and he is the go-to guy to pick up and curl into hurting arms when sobbing begins over illness, loss or hopelessness.

Peanut ChristmasA part of every celebration, Peanut has never been any sort of problem or demanded anything from us.  He is flopped on his basket chair where he can watch the action at the bird feeder or curled on his red couch while family is hanging about.  When his dearest friend Laurie-dog passed, he lost his greatest companion, but at the arrival of Max Man, he quickly re-assigned his loyalty to this crazy boy, that, in no way, demonstrated the same calm as Laurie did.

I wrapped Peanut in a bath towel and deposited him in a Soby’s re-usable bag a couple of weeks ago and took him over to Doctor Marty on High Street in McKenzie Towne.  Dr. Marty has been taking care of our boys for years.  I had asked for a geriatric exam for Peanut because I felt, in my bones, that things just weren’t right.  For a short few days, I agonized that we were losing our Peanut Butter (immediately, right now, this moment) and could hardly breath for the remembrance of losing Piper, Edgar and Laurie-dog.

DSC_0440 DSC_0438 DSC_0436These pets become a part of us, our families and in some way, our identities.  Doctor Marty, in his compassionate and knowledgeable way, gave me confidence in his diagnosis process and in his treatment.  He also assured me that he would give me the knowledge to recognize whether or not Peanut is feeling unwell, discomfort or pain.  In the end, Peanut has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism (on the day of his initial exam his heart beat was sitting at 210).  With follow up care, I will have to diligently monitor for the onset of kidney failure.  Presently, my sweet man is being treated with medication every twelve hours and I am hopeful that this will give us more quality time.  Thank you, Marty, Jennifer and Amanda.

So, why am I writing?  Morning coffee always tastes better with writing.  Also, I wanted to write my love and gratitude…for what it means to be a pet owner.  Owning an animal that requires our care and concern, takes us out of our selfish place, at a very personal level.  There are lessons to be learned in caring for a pet that we can apply to our larger lives.  We must be vigilant in our concern for how animals are treated because it is a reflection of how we treat one another.

I suggest, where it is in your means, that you support agencies that do good for abandoned and mistreated animals.

Peanut has given our family a life time of shared experience.  I am grateful that we chose him and I hope to enjoy the rest of his time with us.

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Max Falls In!

By now, my readers are getting to know Max pretty well.  Yesterday, it was such an awesome autumn day…so golden-blue, that I took Max back on the loop where I once did daily walks with my Laurie-dog at the river.  The image below is a photo that I took on one of our final river walks.

Laurie and Kath 2My children and I sprinkled Laurie’s ashes along the path of his favourite walks…places he had shared with me over his 14 years.  I painted, as a result of his passing, a series called my Heaven Series, paintings that were rejected by the commercial galleries that represented me at the time, for the fact that they had ‘too much sky’.  Sigh…

September 7 2008 Max and Heaven 033I try to get Max back to these places before the snow flies and my favourite time is in the autumn.  Yesterday the yellow leaves were dancing on the ground.  There was just enough breeze and in the past couple of days the leaves have been on the change.

?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? DSC_0571Initially, Max was charged with excitement simply because we had such a steep drop into the valley and then there were gaggles of juvenile pheasants feeding in the open clearing left behind after utility and infrastructure revisions.

Interest Peeked

Interest Peeked

Poor photograph...but, yes, these are what caught his eye.

Poor photograph…but, yes, these are what caught his eye.

Where, once, I would throw sticks for Max from the broad perch of river rocks on the shore, most of the banks have dropped vertically into the water.  Max found one of the few locations on the east side of the river where dry rock could be found and there was no way I was clamouring down there, although he barked enthusiastically to prompt me.

??????????It was obvious to me that some huge shifts have happened with the river since the big Calgary flood.  For Max, these changes were not so evident.

As we continued south along the river, I think Max supposed that there were going to be some excellent locations for his activity of choice.  At one point, he took a mad dash from the path and I heard him briefly charging through the thick autumn brush and then….nothing.  Silence.  And yes…this is where he went in.  A tentative and anxious herder, Max has always loved the water, but up to his hips.  He has never had a swim.  He has always barked at sticks when they have flowed out of his easy reach.  Hmmm…this was to be a different sort of experience for him!  This is where he went in.

??????????I climbed my way through thick brush and heard his feeble cries. His situation came clear.  The current was kicking him down river, all the while his wee head was popping up and his strong legs were reaching up onto the wet, worn shoulder of the river.  Eyes, wide open, he caught sight of me and at my prompting, remained at one spot.  I urged his hard work and with a few strong efforts, he pulled himself up and into my waiting arms.

Sheesh.  Be warned!  I was a bad mama!  While on the west side of the river, I could see other families, children and dogs playing on a broad shore, there isn’t nothing of that kind on the east side.

This was excitement that we didn’t need…but, let it be known, my border collie has finally had a good swim!

My Max Man

Max was resting in the sunshine…I feel so grateful for these warm summer-autumn days…for the wandering natural areas when everything is so sun-licked and magical.  This is my favourite time of year and this is my terrific and loyal companion.

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A black eyed dog he called at my door
The black eyed dog he called for more
A black eyed dog he knew my name
A black eyed dog he knew my name
A black eyed dog
A black eyed dog.

I’m growing old and I wanna go home
I’m growiing old and I don’t wanna know
I’m growing old and I wanna go home.

A black eyed dog he called at my door
A black eyed dog he called for more.

Glanmore National Historic Site: Couldery’s Victorian Animal Paintings

This image was lifted off of the internet.  There are multiple copies floating about, with no photo credit.

This image was lifted off of the internet. There are a zillion copies floating about, with no photo credit. 

On exhibit upstairs, 42 Victorian animal paintings by Horatio Henry Couldery.  Couldery’s paintings made me smile and while I couldn’t grab very good photographs, my readers might get the idea just how whimsical this collection is.  There is such a sentimentality about the work and I could not help but wonder how my own border collie, Max, was doing at home in Calgary, with the dog-sitters.  When I looked at the paintings of cats I had to take pause and think about the seething resentment in my cat, Peanut Meister, at being abandoned yet again!  Couldery was a noted British artist and his collection contributes to Glanmore’s international significance. “One of the most extraordinary collections of Victorian dog and animal paintings in the world” – Wm. Secord, art expert.

My own photographs (no flash) do not do justice to the paintings.

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First Off…

My readers don’t truly believe that the cat is here, do you?  You are also wondering how I can possibly keyboard and write while a Peanut-Meister is curled up in my arms.  I will publish proof…not staged.  As I’ve been reading some remarkable and entertaining novels lately, it is sometimes a thin line, that line between what’s ‘real’ and what is fiction.  From where you sit, you may never believe that the cat is here, but in the case that you don’t… right off the bat, I want to leave you with an image.  This will cause you to doubt yourselves.

I pressed the PUBLISH button for the entry, Write On, and Peanut glared at me.

A moment, missing my boy….Laurie-dog.

Katie Melua – Just like heaven – Piece by piece

Show me how you do that trick
The one that makes me scream he said
The one that makes me laugh he said
And threw his arms around my neck
Show me how you do it
And I promise you I promise that
I’ll run away with you
I’ll run away with you

Spinning on that dizzy edge
I kissed his face and kissed his head
And dreamed of all the different ways I had
To make him glow
Why are you so far away? he said
Why won’t you ever know that I’m in love with you
That I’m in love with you

You, soft and only
You,lost and lonely
You, strange as angels
Dancing in the deepest oceans
Twisting in the water
You’re just like a dream
You’re just like a dream

Daylight licked me into shape
I must have been asleep for days
And moving lips to breathe his name
I opened up my eyes
And found myself alone alone
Alone above a raging sea
That stole the only boy I loved
And drowned him deep inside of me

You, soft and only
You, lost and lonely
You, just like heaven

You, soft and only
You, lost and lonely
You, just like heaven

Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you. Marsha Norman

Speargrass