Walk With Our Sisters: Calgary

I sit here eating a hot bowl of hamburger soup for breakfast, nursing a cold that after days, seems to hang in.  The soup is comforting and healing.

There are no photographs on this particular post, but a link, here, for everything you might want to find out.  Calgary’s Walk With Our Sisters memorial installation has been two years in the works (maybe more) and has traveled Canada.  It has just a few more visits and will be retired to Batoche. This stop in Calgary is an amazing opportunity for us to connect with the journey…to think about our sisters who are missing and murdered and to think of their families and friends.  It is important for us to honour their lives and their life force because these sisters remain with us, as long as we remember.

As you will see, there are opportunities for volunteers throughout the coming weeks.  All are welcome.  Orientations are offered, but it was made clear yesterday, at my own orientation,  no volunteer will be turned away.

As most of you know, at the onset of Canada’s 150, I decided that I wanted to embark on a journey of gathering knowledge and understanding about Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.  I didn’t know how to begin.  Sable Sweetgrass hosted an online book club and this peeked my interest, so I began to read along and reflect on the authors and books that we were reading.  It was Sable who told me about the book club at Forest Lawn Public Library, hosted by Indigenous Pride with 12CSI and 12CSI Community Safety Initiative.

I attended my first monthly gathering at the library some time after that, intending to read a book a month, for a year, with a focus on Indigenous authors.  After bonding with this group and having my mind and awareness open up, I decided that I wanted to continue with the group and to enter into my own personal journey with Truth and Reconciliation and the 94 calls to action.  Michelle Robinson has been key in my life as an agent of change and her embrace is assisting me in becoming fearless in this journey.  I can not judge what other Canadians do with the knowledge of Residential Schools or with the initial shock of colonial movement across our nation.  I am responsible, first, to grow in knowledge and then to go forward to be a strong advocate on behalf of our brothers and sisters.

I was invited to volunteer with Walk With Our Sisters and this has also expanded my knowledge.  As a result, I am inviting all of my readers to participate at some level during the weeks ahead.

Last week, a lovely group of women gathered to tie tobacco and I grew new friendships and new knowledge.  I really love the fact that working with our hands created such a warm community feeling.  My mother would have loved it.

Yesterday, I attended an orientation and was blessed by Autumn EagleSpeaker’s clear and welcoming approach. Autumn is a strong woman who is a source of inspiration for these coming days.  It was evident how she has inspired so many others on this journey.  I am grateful for our meeting.  I was further blessed to  meet Christi Belcourt, artist and visionary where this memorial is concerned.  We were given an extended opportunity to preview the work that has been done to this point and to be given more information about the ceremony and protocol involved.

I loved being given the story of the shape of the Calgary installation, with consideration for the two rivers, the elbow, the native plants and medicines and the dress.  The configuration of the vamps has been very specific to each city’s Indigenous peoples along the way, while the vamps themselves represent and include a wide variety of peoples, even expanding beyond international borders.

I am really looking forward to my shift later on today, the final installation shift prior to the Opening Ceremonies tomorrow afternoon, at 2.  I hope my readers will attend.  I hope that you will even extend this to volunteering a few hours, if it is possible.

Just ending this post with a lovely video of Christi describing the world of plants represented in a large painting in acrylic.  Amazing stuff!

Grade Fours Doodle a Paul Klee

Using leftover paints quickly involves dumping complementary colours together and mixing them to get a variety of earth tones and browns.  This way, the art teacher can get a lunch time jump start on cleaning buckets out before the weekend.

The artist, Paul Klee, has an amazing history.  I am absolutely entertained by his work and have read extensively about him.  His journals, found in The Diaries of Paul Klee: 1898 – 1918 is fascinating and captures the huge link between his passion for music and for art.

Diaries of Paul KleeHis journals are filled with diagrams and notations, but most interesting to me are his observations of nature, weather, time and the city.  He was a master of observation and yet his schematics are other-worldly and child like.

Paul Klee 2 Paul Klee 1An interesting phenomena happens with children in school art programs or structured after-school art classes.  Basically, they have a desire to draw LIKE GROWN UPS…make everything LOOK REAL.  So, this activity turned out to be much more difficult than my readers might imagine.  I needed to give the children permission over and over again to be playful and to invent and to doodle and let go of their wish to make things ‘look real’.

At snack time, the students have been listening to a settling CD…the story of Harry Potter.  In today’s pre-recess listening session, images of shooting stars pouring out of the sky, owls filling the skies, skinny people, characters wrapped in cloaks all came up.  I hoped that later on, the images would spark some design and pattern ideas.

Just a half hour before lunch, I had the students divide their square formats into four triangles, using chalk for their drawing. As a way of simulating Paul Klee’s work, this would pick up on the geometric division of space that is often seen in the artist’s works.

We looked at a piece by Paul Klee titled Plants, Earth and Empire 1918 that was similarly divided into four triangles.  I haven’t been able to find an image of this piece on line, however the piece below has similar elements to this one (House Interior 1918), but with a single line later being the division between an ‘above ground’  world and a ‘below ground’ world, organized above and below a diagonal organic line..

DSC_1958The students shared the paint palette (station), selecting four different earth tones for their compositions.  I’ve explained how to set up for painting in this lesson. The pre-lunch painting gave the lunch break for the tempera paintings to dry.

After lunch, I gave the students a brief introduction to Paul Klee, the artist, along with the following video projection.

Here’s a better one…if you have the time!  In fact, this is beautiful and you may want to sit with your coffee, readers, and just enjoy.

I turned on the funk music and had the students practice depicting their imagined world, after looking at this video of Paul Klee’s works.  I had the students fold over their drawing paper in order to use a square format, the same as their composition.  I spoke to them about creating a line that moved from one side of the square to the other.  This would create a division between an imaginary world above the ground and under the ground.  I suggested that if it was hard ‘to start’, they could begin with the list of Harry Potter images we had left on the white board.

DSC_1905 DSC_1904 DSC_1903When the students felt ready, they could begin working on their larger compositions.  I suggested that they draw first with pencil and then retrace their pencil lines with permanent black marker.  I felt that there was some preciousness or concern in the students and thought this might give them more confidence.  In future, I’d hand them over the permanent markers and skip the pencil step. To create accents, I suggested that the students use oil pastel to colour in  three or five or seven or nine or eleven shapes. Here is a little of what they came up with while the funk music played in the background.

DSC_1906 DSC_1907 DSC_1908 DSC_1910 DSC_1911 DSC_1912 DSC_1913 DSC_1914DSC_1909

DSC_1934 DSC_1932 DSC_1931 DSC_1930 DSC_1929 DSC_1928 DSC_1927 DSC_1926 DSC_1925 DSC_1924 DSC_1923 DSC_1922 DSC_1921 DSC_1919 DSC_1918 DSC_1917 DSC_1915 A great class!

January 21, 2015 at the Rumble

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of letting your ideas float while painting.  This past week, I had a dream…something about seeing a face looking up out of the bottom of a well.  It was dark down that hole, but I could still see the face.  Instead of being made of rock, the walls were made of lush green foliage and plant life.

  “Green is symbolic of communicating care on a subtle, energetic level. When we dream of green, we are imbued with a magical ability to transfer knowledge by unorthodox means. Green facilitates growth, love and healing by mental stimulation. Greeks believed intelligence came from the heart. This combined with the green of the heart chakra talks to us about emotional intelligence and communicating with an open heart. I realize I’m being vague here, this kind of ethereal communication isn’t easily identified. However, we can look to mother nature for help in explanation. She speaks in viridian tongue – communicating a sea of burgeoning growth – all expressed by the color green. When we dream of green we’re experiencing levels of healing and growth that are subtle. It’s time to concentrate on the areas of our lives that need to flourish. Once we hone in, and begin to express our identification on an emotional (heart) level, our growth will be exponential and immense.”

I have no idea what was going on or who it was, but I’ve heard that all characters that one sees in a dream are the self.  I would consider this character to be a shadow person.

Given a two hour time limit, painting at the Rumble House does not always allow for a real resolution to a painting, but rather, allows the artist enough time to put the idea down in an instant.  Most of these works would be considered sketches of a sort.  I did not achieve the depth in this painting that was in my mind.  This would have required many more layers.  I tried to create the sense of coming out of depths quickly, by painting central dark to outward light auras regardless.  I got a quick snap shot, but not the result I had hoped for.

The inspirations that were drawn from the wheel of doom included 1) a whale breaching 2)  These


DSC_1843And 3) hmm….something inspired by a Dylan Thomas poem.  Each evening at Rumble House, as was true of the Gorilla House, these inspirations may be included/explored by the artists in their works or be ignored all together.

Some of the real highlights last night were having ukelele music flowing live out of the heart of Emma Rouleau in the house.

Nina, of Hear’s My Soul Cafe was in the house, along with her friend, Steve.  The two of them had a bit of a bidding war on my piece, but Steve managed the final bid.  Thanks, Steve!  It’s ok…Nina left with two fantastical pieces, one painted by my artist-buddy, Jennifer and the other by a new-to-the-rumble artist, Nick.  Both, beautiful works!

Here’s the lovely Nina with Jennifer Stinson’s work.

DSC_1852It was good to talk to you, Stacey and to learn that you read my blog.  It always surprises me when people connect with my writing.  So, I was grateful for that.

Thanks to Andy for pulling over to say good night.  And, I had a wonderful chat with another artist (I want to say that her name is Lorraine…please send me a message and let me know your name!) (LOUISE!!  Her name is Louise!  She read this and contacted me!  So happy about that!) at the doorway, as I was leaving.  She is a woman after my own heart.  Priscilla, yes, I am coming out of the grief and I have appreciated your inspiration along the way.

Thanks to Steve, who generously purchased this piece at auction.  Now, off to teach grade threes!  We’re painting images based on the Taj Mahal today!  Stay tuned!



Saying Good-Bye to Grade One

Spending an intense five weeks with grade one students was a huge learning experience and made me grow in ways that I might not have imagined otherwise.  I will certainly treasure the memory of little people who put it all out there, leaving nothing to the imagination.  A slide show, rather than words, seems appropriate.  I’m sorry that I missed photographs of their cube-a-link grouping activities. I’m sorry that you can not see them jumping and dancing while counting by 2s and 5s…getting those numbers squeezed into their bodies.  I’m sorry that you can’t hear them singing, with all of their hearts, the theme song from Frozen. Their scientific illustrations in their lima bean journals were spectacular as well.  I hope that those dang beans, now sprouted and planted beneath soil, will grow to be great bean stalks!  They have much invested in their scientific observations!

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Things That Grow

Listening to the news, it sounds like much of Canada is suffering drought.  It makes me wonder about how we’re going to be doing with produce this coming winter and how our farmers are going to cope with such devastation.

I woke this morning disheartened. A neighbouring tree was being taken down.  I left for a while to hike with Max because I couldn’t bear the sound of the saw anymore.  It’s been going on for three hours…”The wood is so hard,” said one of the fellas who was hired for the dirty deed.  I felt as though the saw was cutting into my own limbs, the pain was so real for me.

The earth sometimes screams back at us.  For no obvious reason, part of the mountain came down on Johnston’s Landing recently, taking two, possibly four beautiful lives with it and shaking a mountain community as well as reshaping and carving out the land.  I’ve driven on the scenic road that is now washed out…stood overlooking Kootenay Lake, in awe of its beauty.  I lift up my prayers for all of the community as they rebuild and appreciate more consciously, the wonder of peaceful walks along the river.

This morning, I looked at the wee things that were growing; again, amazed by how different an environment can look, one week to the next.

Everywhere, things are growing, producing and feeding the earth.  It is a glorious thing…how the earth bears fruit for humanity.  I just sometimes have to focus on the blessings, and not so often on how we are turning our backs on ‘the covenant’…our part of the bargain.

For lunch, I prepared myself a salad of red and green leafed romaine from the garden, cherry tomatoes, lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper and appreciated every morsel. I am richly blessed by things that grow.

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it. Tennessee Williams

Going to Seed

It is an amazing thing how quickly the textures found on a particular pathway change as the season progresses…same place, just completely transformed!

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It is early yet…it is hot…but the changes occurring in the hills, speak of a bigger change that will come inevitably.

The Harvest Moon

The flame-red moon, the harvest moon,
Rolls along the hills, gently bouncing,
A vast balloon,
Till it takes off, and sinks upward
To lie on the bottom of the sky, like a gold doubloon.
The harvest moon has come,
Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum.

So people can’t sleep,
So they go out where elms and oak trees keep
A kneeling vigil, in a religious hush.
The harvest moon has come!

And all the moonlit cows and all the sheep
Stare up at her petrified, while she swells
Filling heaven, as if red hot, and sailing
Closer and closer like the end of the world.

Till the gold fields of stiff wheat
Cry `We are ripe, reap us!’ and the rivers
Sweat from the melting hills.

Ted Hughes
Pods, hanging in circles on the stem….if you know what this is, please help me identify it.

Sister-Fig: Presently a Stick

Sister-Fig in Better Days

Bob, my artist-friend, traveled for a year in Australia.  It wasn’t the first time that he had left Mother-Fig in my care. And each time, he told me the heart-warming story of the lady who had passed Mother-Fig on to him years before and that at one point, the plant had even produced fruit! I was determined to keep her alive, although I was open to critical incidents and there were more then a few, particularly her constant battle with red spider mites!  But, with time, attention and much love, she thrived and was the most unusual plant!  It was fun to do drawings of her…such an unusual contour, smooth woody bark, beautifully-shaped leaves!  A real beauty and conversation piece!

Well, when Bob came back, I already had a well-established cutting, knowing that I loved Mother-Fig so much, and she came to be known as Sister-Fig.  I’ve had her for years now and she’s seen family and friends through many Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas celebrations.  There was always talk about Sister-Fig!  I continued to struggle periodically with her leaf drop and the reoccuring visitation of the dreaded mites (all because of her woody stem), but basically learned her ways and enjoyed her.

However,  this summer I left Sister for two months and have to report that things did not fare well for poor Sister-Fig.  Some of you might say, “Oh, just go back to Bob’s Mother-Fig and begin the journey anew.”  But, I fear that this is the end to this lineage, given that Bob’s Mother-Fig had succumbed some time before Sister.  (I secretly believe that she missed my ministrations.) 

I have cut down the main stems of Sister, have watered her and am hoping that she will somehow revive.  I am not looking to place blame in this situation for I know that it is a difficult thing to take up this sort of project in one’s life.  Tonight, however, I AM looking at the countless WordPress Blogs that deal with this very issue and I’m astounded!  I have NO difficulty understanding why the fig is of biblical stature!  A fig is just soooo hard to grow! 

Poor Sister-Fig!

I invite the wisdom of the experts.  Shall I abandon her at long last or hold out hope?

Ok…so…updates here.  This is what Sister-Fig looks like as she has come out of refrigeration!  Poor girl.  I’m hoping that I will see something green eventually.  For now, I’m watering my soil.  Thank you for the advice!  If she never comes to be, again…where would I purchase a fig?


Planted After Artificial Hibernation in my Fridge!


How Does Your Garden Grow?

Mom's Angel in the Front BedMany accomplishments this afternoon!  I managed to build the new strawberry bed and the side flower bed as well.  I’m trying to integrate veggies in with the flower beds, hoping to create really healthy soil and to have edible things everywhere!  It was windy and cool, but a perfect day to do mega physical work!  Just as I unplugged my power drill, the rain started coming and now I’m indoors, sipping a nice glass of red and watching the birds at the feeder.  It has been a beautiful day! 

On June 5th, I posted some photos of wee plants that were just getting the start and wrote about some of the people I feel close to because of the variety of plants and their origins.  Now, for a shorter update!  It is so ‘magical’ when plants bust out in bloom!  Everything changes!  So…here you go!

New Bed: Strawberries and Asparagus


New Bed for More Bloomers and Veg