Gramma Visits the Pet Store

There are little opportunities for magic in an ordinary day.  Never take for granted a simple trip to the store where you might select a ripe cold piece of watermelon, or a trip to a pet store where you might pick up your own pet cat a four-dollar toy.  There are amazing things that happen in the blink of an eye!

Today, my grandson, shouted out (well, in his sweet voice) “Cement Truck!” and “Excavator!” when other children could only look on to a construction site, in awe…their hands lined up against the fence and their eyes, bugging out of their heads.

Today, my grandson learned Spruce Tree, Poplar Tree and Pine Tree.  He also learned that it’s much more fun throwing pine cones than heaping them up into piles.

Today, my grandson learned that it’s easier for Gramma to go down one of those super wide slides than one of those twirly ones…

It was when I heard my grandson talking to his Mommy about his trips to the zoo…saying Hippo and Maquaq and Panda and bamboo and cougar and YiYON! and Penguin and more…I thought to take him to a pet store.  This kid is amazing!

“Man man man man!”

“Awe!  Awe!  Awe!  Bunny!”

Not sure, at all, about ferrets!  Hmmmm….even baby ferrets!  They are just so busy…crawling under their blankies, hanging sideways, moving their food.  “Oh, they’re not so bad”, this enthusiastic gentleman tried to point out!  (Still not convinced)

What about that kitty over there, Gramma??  “Never mind,” this fella meowed!  “What’s wrong with me??”

“Kitty!  Kitty!  MEOW!”

Awe!!!  AWE!!!  AWE!!!  Bunny-washing!

This is the point where the Grandson started eyeing the hamster homes on the aisle…true attractions of the pet store visit!

“Hamster!”

“Amster!  Amster. RUN RUN RUN!”

Awe!

Birdie.

“Guinea Pig!”

“Piggy!  Piggy!”

EEEEE! EEEEE!

One last….AWEEEE!

Sunday Driving on Friday

Max and I did our big hike-about and then decided for a drive out to see Alvise and to pick up the second angel.  I am big on walking, with no purpose but to walk.  The same goes for driving…nothing is more wonderful than getting out onto the roads to explore and to see how the seasons are changing. Arriving at the studio, it was so lovely to breath in that wonderful air that comes with being in close proximity to the mountains.  Dripping with the scent of evergreen and melting snow, the morning has left me ready to curl up for a nap.

Kath's Canon, March 11, 2016 Bragg Creek Alvise 008

This month’s blue-eyed angel is embellished with the Equinox. The March equinox marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north. This happens on March 19, 20 or 21 every year. The animal represented on this angel is the rabbit (in our neighbourhood, these guys are just losing their winter coats) and the alder lichen, one of the rabbits’ favourites.  I felt the angel was calling out for a hug and so I embraced her!  Beautiful!

Welcome home, little lady!

Kath's Canon, March 11, 2016 Bragg Creek Alvise 013Kath's Canon, March 11, 2016 Bragg Creek Alvise 011Kath's Canon, March 11, 2016 Bragg Creek Alvise 009

On the drive back to the city, I really enjoyed a CBC interview with musician, Hayden.  In his career in music, he has experienced and thought about all of the same things as I have as a visual artist, but for slightly different reasons.  It was a very affirming experience to hear this interview.

 

http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2685092791

 

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.

P1100248 P1100265

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.

Gorilla House LIVE ART Battle: January 30, 2013

It was a night of craziness…from beginning to end…I have recently taken a teaching contract and that has really changed the dynamic of my life.  As you all can attest, a change is sometimes exhausting for a while, until a person gets into their ‘groove’.  Getting out of school and then out to the pond with Max is a bit crazy before getting down to the Gorilla House, but both things are important to me.  Max-man has made quite an adjustment, given that he sees me so little, so a good exercise is imperative for his good health.  He is a workin’ dog, that’s for sure.

P1090405

I’ve got to say that even when the temperatures are low and the air is bitterly cold, a good athletic walk in a beautiful landscape is also healthy for me.  So, off we boogied!  From there, I headed out to the store to pick myself up some new coveralls.  Wowsah!  I’ve had the same painting coveralls for about twenty years.  The denim feels like cotton now and it’s just time!

Old.

Old.

New.

New.

So, once home, I ran to the studio and applied some texture to my panel and all guzzied up, I fed Max, gave him a pat on the head and headed down to the core, knowing that this week I’d be late!  I wasn’t there for the spin and so just grabbed two of the concepts for the week from Belinda…Fibonacci and Circus…and began to create.  I was wearing my Old Ideas t shirt from the Cohen concert and those words, old ideas, were playing over, again and again, as I drove.  I had attached the parable of the fig tree, a few precious pattern pieces that came from Mom’s sewing room and an old index page from my precious Audubon cast-off onto my panel before leaving the studio.

P1090377I further developed the layers and textures, as I considered the themes.  I knew I had no reference for a rabbit, although that was the first thing I thought to paint as my subject for the night.  I just didn’t have the confidence to produce a depiction without some information.  In the meantime, I produced a rich surface and was ready to go, blocking in my first rabbit in chalk, but quickly abandoning it because of its lack of dimension.

P1090379Next, I wandered around the Gorilla House, talking to other artists…asking them to collaborate with me on my evening piece by drawing me a rabbit.  It’s just so funny…no one I spoke to felt confident to draw a rabbit…except for Marta.  She took her brush and sketched out a very fanciful animal onto a napkin…we both laughed and I moved on.  Sylvia pulled a Telus calendar from under her palette…and VOILA!  The tone for the hour that was left, was set!  I would paint one of the whimsical, sweet animals like those that Telus has used in their ad campaign.  This was not going to be an evening of sophistication…that was all ready so obvious!

Thank you, to David, for purchasing the piece at auction, on behalf of Shauna, on behalf of darling Felix.  It was good to see you again, Melissa!  Who painted that panda?  I loved it!!  Thanks for the calendar, Sylvia and for your cheerful support always, Harold.  Marta, it was fun to meet your friend, Tina.  Thanks to all of those who attended a battle for your first time!  Here is my ‘cute’ painting.

P1090393 P1090386Thanks to Aaron McCullough of Red Dot Photography for taking this photograph.  It features my new coveralls.

Aaron McCullough taking a picture of Melissa taking a picture of Kath taking a picture.

Aaron McCullough taking a picture of Melissa taking a picture of Kath taking a picture.

Aaron's Kath

Photo Credit: Aaron McCullough of Red Dot Photography

Thank You for Your Class: Bunny Stencils

 

I enjoyed sharing with these grade six students that I’ve been really thinking about rabbits recently.  It’s surprising how many people, this age, are up on the news and had heard at the time, about the potential rabbit cull in Canmore, Alberta.  This was a full morning art activity, split into two parts, with recess in the middle.  First, I read them a motivating story, as well as brought in a whole heap of bunny books from the library.  This story works well.

Little Bunny on the Move by Peter McCarty

Next, using the references, the students created stencils of their own on manilla tag paper, making certain that they kept crisp cutting edges.  Each student created three stencils, with sharing in mind so that each composition would capture many bunny gestures.  Here is a great example of what can happen with stencils.   And, here is an example of the resulting composition on green.

Bunnies Go Wild!

 

 

 

Stories Left in Snow

What made these tracks?

All sorts of stories might be captured in the crusty snow of the front yard.  While I have not been witness to much of this activity, I can ‘suppose’ what has been going on.  I DO know for fact that the behaviour at the bird feeder has changed since I have attached a seed capture tray to the tube feeder.  The sparrows are totally annoyed, landing in the same bushes and branches and ranting wildly.  They are just not able to approach for some reason…they try, but the attached plastic wires on four corners seem to have them baffled.  Funny enough, the chickadees are celebrating this stall on the sparrows’ behaviour and are regular feeders now.  I hope that I have not created a problem for the sparrows’ survival this winter (Have I?), but the seed accumulating on the snow was creating great mouse activity every time the temperatures would warm up even slightly.  I added the trays out of necessity and likely should have done this earlier.

A close-up...don't think they are mice because I have had mice at the back.

😦 I've lost another sparrow.

I will spare my readers the photograph I’ve taken of ‘sign’ left by an animal that I don’t recognize.  I asked one of my readers if they thought it would be inappropriate to post that and they adamantly replied, “Yes!  It would be so inappropriate!!” Hmmm…

Lot's of bunnies curling up in the bushes and under the tree at night.

 I think that winter is a ‘magical’ season, for so many reasons!  I am in awe of animal life and how they survive sometimes brutal conditions.  Just today, I read this story.

A Rabbit Comes to Me in the Night

Rabbit #1

Freaky, right?  Well, I chose not to ignore the image of a rabbit that came hopping into my consciousness/dreams at 4:00 a.m. two nights ago.  I got up out of bed, turned on the lights in the family room and drew this rabbit. I’ve always had some unexplainable ‘thing’ for rabbits and have yet to discover why.  I’ve had four experiences that began to define this attraction and I will briefly describe them here.

Rabbit Trim and My Mother’s Black Pearl

First, there was this dress!  My mother sewed this on her treadle sewing machine for my school photograph.  She always made certain that we were dressed to the nines for school photo day.  How sad for her that she had no control over what my hair would do after recess or the expression I might have on my face!  This makes me pause and smile.  I still remember the feel of the fabric, the bow that was tied at the back, the colour of the taffeta and how beautiful I felt, even as a grade one student.  The reason I still remember it?  You’ve got it!  The bunny trim!  There was nothing softer or more ‘magical’ from my little-girl perspective!  I had no idea that a rabbit had lost its life.  I didn’t think about that.  I was caught up in the tactile/visual experience of this white trim.

Secondly, Flo Hunter was my mother’s closest friend and our closest neighbour.  Our family was stationed in St. Margaret’s,  New Brunswick at the time.  Peter-the-rabbit was the Hunter family pet!  He was a wonderful white over-fed bunny who had been with Flo and her children for some time.  I envied her children this bunny because for many years, our only family pets had been cats and dogs, Pal being our dog at the time.  He was a mutt who was strung out on our backyard clothesline.  I remembered that the PMQs backed onto a large field and then a forested ares.  I can picture that still.

Well, I decided one fine summer day that, while my playmates were well-distracted with games of kick-the-can and such, I would steal Peter and have him for my very own.  I carried him down to the basement and locked him into a foot locker that was hidden under the stairs.  There, in the dark, I imagined that I would take him out any time I wished and play with him.  Surely this plan would work out perfectly!

When the Hunters noticed Peter was missing, the entire neighborhood went on a search for the lost bunny.  It was nearing dusk and the children and adults, both, were weaving in and out of yards and even exploring the woods out back.  I still remember the children’s wild cries.  “Peter! Oh!  Peter!!”  The Hunter children were in tears and Flo’s arms were flailing!  So that I would not be found out, I remember engaging in the search, acting concerned and calling Peter’s name also.  And sadly, I was even articulating my own theories about where Peter might be hiding.

It wasn’t until later that evening, or even the next morning that I fessed up; the guilt was just too much for me to carry any longer.  When we went to the foot locker, we found Peter….inhaling….exhaling….inhaling….exhaling very slowly as though he was on his last ‘bunny legs’.  I have absolutely no recollection of the outcome, my shame, or the consequence for me, but Flo and her children were ecstatic at the returned bunny rabbit.  Looking back, I can not help but wonder what was going on in my head at the time of the bunny caper…and what was my passionate attraction to bunnies?

In the late 1990s I lived on a beautiful ridge lot, just above the Bow River.  It was a ‘magical’ place to live because I could easily disappear into the river bottom and see all sorts of wildlife; plants, birds and mammals.  It was absolutely amazing.  One night I was in the living room and looking across the street when I saw the flash of lights in the field stretched out before the ridge.  I stepped out, in my nightgown, onto the front porch and then gradually down the front steps, trying to make sense of what I was seeing.  As the lights danced horizontally across the field, I also noticed the flash of red eyes and the white form of a rabbit racing one direction and then another, in extreme fear.  The entire nightmare unfolded as I ran,  in my pyjamas, into the dark field, shouting.  A couple of young people were shining flashlights into the eyes of the frightened rabbit and as it became mesmerized, the other was beating a golf club onto the ground, trying to beat the rabbit, as sport.  The air rang with the sound of their laughter until they heard my shout and abruptly ran the opposite direction.  I saw the white form of the rabbit disappear into the night.

The fourth experience took place late at night, likely ten years ago.  I used to go running in a wide open field a short distance from here.  I would do several rounds of the perimeter once the sun had just set and Laurie-dog would run along side me, taking little breaks to explore and exercise as well.  This particular night, the air was cool.  I remember the rhythmical breathing as I almost completed the first lap.  All of a sudden the air split wide open…an explosion of movement!  Laurie ditched me and took off into the center of the field.  Before my eyes were what seemed to be hundreds of white rabbits racing in all directions.  It was as though a silent field was suddenly undulating.  I had never seen anything like it!

I do not know why these encounters with rabbits have been a part of my emotional formation.  I do not understand if there is any real significance to the symbol of the rabbit in my life or what I am meant to do.  Just recently, however, I have been reading about and viewing news items coming out of Canmore, Alberta.   A rabbit cull is underway. Maybe that’s why I am experiencing recent agitation around the image of a rabbit.  For a short while, at least, I’m going to explore this subject in my art work and see where it all leads.