Adam’s River Salmon Run 2018

I headed out on the ninth of October on a bad-weather day, first to meet up with friends and next, to drive early-morning to the Adam’s River, north west of Sorrento in British Columbia.  Days have passed and I’ve been unable to sit down in order to write a post.  I’ve asked myself, ‘Why the hesitation?’  To some degree, I feel like my words can never contain the powerful meaning this experience had for me.  While the numbers of returning Sockeye did not match predictions at the time, given that 2018 is a ‘bumper’ year, it didn’t matter to me.  I have spent half of my lifetime wanting to be a witness to this journey and with all that is impacting various species globally in the present, I jumped at the chance to go.

I wish to contain the archive of this experience on my blog.  However, I will note right from the beginning, that there are no words for the experience of standing on rounded river stones and looking out to see the brilliant red backbones of so many fish, struggling against current, with an instinct that insists somehow that they must go home.

To begin…a short video.

On the evening before my firstborn’s wedding day, family members gathered in my studio…not all at once, but a few at a time.  My brother Cliff owns and operates a salmon charter business out of Comox, British Columbia.  His company is called Cliff’s Chinook Charters.  More than anyone, he has taught me about salmon populations and what variables contribute to a healthy population.

My brother wrote a piece that he called, The Salmon’s Plight onto my studio wall.  These words have been embedded in a few different paintings over the years since and every time I read them, I cry a little…for the memory of the salmon and for the memory of my brother.  Given our family’s military history, we live in every part of our great nation.  I miss my brother very much.


I was blessed to ride along with Cliff and catch a couple of fish with him, my father and my daughter.  It goes down as one of the most beautiful times of my life.




Bad road conditions took us all the way to Lake Louise and then it seemed that the skies opened up and the mountains became crisp against a light grey sky.  Gratefully, Pat shared oatmeal cookies that were so buttery that they melted in my mouth. After a stop in Golden to enjoy our packed lunch of turkey sandwiches and garden carrots, we were off, on the last leg of the journey.

We headed immediately for the Adam’s River Salmon run.

Adam's River

At this point, I’ve decided to post some photographs…if I write anything at all, it will be heartfelt.  Years ago, having completed a 30 day Outward Bound course, I accepted myself as the artist in the group…that person who was taking in the sensory experiences, but not necessarily bound to the physical achievements and the orienteering.  My head was in the clouds.  Consistent to that, I was completely plugged in to this earthy, fishy, visual encounter with these amazing salmon during their upward surge.

I highly recommend CLICKING on some of the images of the salmon…they are just so absolutely beautiful…powerful…mesmerizing.




Pacific Salmon

We stayed that night in a local Bed and Breakfast in Chase.  I highly recommend the Sunny Shuswap B & B.  This was breakfast!


We checked out and headed right back to the Adam’s River.





Poems to follow…I need to head out with Max.  I am blessed for having had the opportunity to see the salmon run 2018. Grateful.



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!

Art Flood: Grade Ones Talk About Rivers

We visited about happy times spent along the river.  We remembered that our Alberta rivers include the Elbow and the Bow rivers.  We talked about skipping rocks, fishing and the differences between oceans and rivers, what a community is.  We also prepared our panels with gesso.  The students each took a turn rolling paint on panels, an act that elicited a number of stories and memories as well!  The students received their site word list.

Having been hooked up fully on the classroom technology front, I also had the children gather on our community carpet to watch Mayor Nenshi’s invitation to make art on the topic of the flood.  Later that day, we began reading river stories.  Many good books are written about the river.

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Art Flood: First, Grade Ones Talk About Other Floods

My readers will notice that my own writing is going to be taking a back seat for a while because I’ve taken a short contract, teaching a class of grade one students.  Given Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s April 4th deadline for Art Flood, I knew that on March 31, I wanted to begin a conversation about floods with the little guys seated before me and it was important to me that this conversation be one that would not induce fear, but the sense of change and rebuilding.

What better way to begin than to read the story of Noah? How did the animals get onto that ark?  How did they fit?  What does 2 by 2 mean? There were many questions come up and as serendipity would have it, we are a class blessed with a student also named Noah.

Soon after Noah’s story,  I asked the students if they wanted to share any flood stories.  This is when the subject of Calgary’s flood of spring 2013 came up.  My Filipino students had eyes light up as they said, “I know about a flood!”  And of course, the flooding of Manila in August 2013 and other typhoon events in the Philippines linger through family stories and real time experiences.

Images of Noah’s ark were created in student journals.

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Heritage Weekend at Calgary Public Library

Besides LOVING ART in CALGARY, I’m also very interested in history and so managed to get over to the Central Branch for their session on Calgary Stories in the John Dutton Theater.

A most entertaining session was delivered by three local historians.  Wowsah!

First, Historian Laureate, Harry Sanders, shared archival images Z-A and brief and entertaining snippets of our local history while he went.  Harry, your website isn’t current, but looking forward to reading content after construction ends.  For now, updates can be scanned via Mr. Sander’s twitter account.  His presentation was very entertaining and the public library promises that yesterday’s session will be taped for the purpose of viewing in future on Youtube.

Directly from Harry Sander’s website…this.

An historian from an early age . .

When he was a child, Harry Sanders found an old beat-up photo of the hotel his family owned and knew he wanted to find out more. That photo inspired Harry to research and write about the Whitehouse Hotel in Drumheller, Alberta and he has been writing ever since. Harry uses historic buildings as the catalyst to an exploration of the people and events that have shaped Calgary and Alberta history. He especially likes making obscure connections that others may not have noticed and relating current events to what has happened long before most of us were even born.

Harry has published articles in several magazines and is the author of 7 books on local history. He will have two new books published in 2012. As well as being a prolific author, Harry is also a popular public speaker.

Next, Harry Sanders introduced Historian, John Gilpin.  Now, with my interest in the river as metaphor for mostly everything I think and do, this talk fascinated me.  John Gilpin has authored several books, one being The Elbow: A River in the Life of the City.  The focus of yesterday’s talk was our history with flooding and the issues surrounding decisions on historical mitigation.  I took a couple of photographs in the dark…absolutely fascinating.  Visually, the projected images and the timeline for the building of the Glenmore Dam were of particular interest to me.  

P1130926 P1130927Fascinating that our city should have such a history around flooding.  Again, once the talk has been published, I will post it here…it was absolutely ‘spilling over’ with interesting fact and narrative.  John Gilpin is often involved with tours and talks and has participated in the Jane’s Walks events, an organization I hope to tap into this coming spring.

David Finch, dressed in his early oilman ‘get up’ was the last to speak and his focus was on the oil, natural gas and other related products as the industries developed in Turner Valley.  A charming speaker, this was another very informative and packed session.

I can not speak highly enough about the programs generated at the Calgary Public Library.  As I made my way to the theater, there was Artist-in-Residence, Lea Bucknell, busy with at least fifteen people of all ages, drawing and looking at books.  What a wonderful event!

It’s Lent and I’m Still Making Christmas Cards

A process, well documented.  Every so often, we have to blog something on the ‘lighter’ side.  When I considered writing my Christmas cards in January two years ago, it was because of the hour-long line up at the post to buy my stamps that year.  New Years Christmas wishes went well for the following year.  This year, not so much.  Those of you on my list might have noticed that I have always enjoyed a home made touch…and this year, that went snaky.  I have documented the process.  Now, I have only to fold the letters and address the envelopes.  I have 92 pieces remaining so that I may continue to make cards to complete this conceptual piece…these will be shared with friends and family who have not been on my annual list.  In my imagination, I see you all getting together one day, to reconstruct the painting that you see here.

Christmas Card 2

It all began with a landscape…

I really treasure the memory of my grandfather…drives west to Cardston, from Magrath.  The mission: to pick up a hard ice cream cone.  I treasure the Oldman River…I fought against the dam.  I used to flow milkweed pods on the water…watch them drift, ever so slowly away from me.  I love reading…and writing…magpies.  I am nostalgic, sometimes painfully so.  I believe that we are all connected…that nothing we do is for us alone, but that it all relates…our words, our actions…our treatment of our environment.  I have an artist soul…painting is not optional, but essential to who I am.  I am utterly convinced of the Divine nature of everything…and treasure the Divine in myself.  I hold fast to my faith, especially when I am challenged.  I journey like a lost pup in a very huge world and love it all.  Family; my three children…my sister…my three brothers…my mother and father and all my ancestors are in me as I move through this big world and I am grateful for them, as I breath.

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Losing Patrick

I love the preface written for this particular book of poetry.  It claims to have a poem for each season and every occasion.  I looked over the poems…thought about them…the one that speaks to me today is written by Alfred Lord Tennyson, A Farewell.  A former student of mine has passed away…he was an avid fisherman…loved the outdoors…he was a young man.  My heart is broken for his family and his friends.  Following, the composition based on Tennyson’s words.

When I drove my son down to the park last night, looking for Patrick’s brother…a tall buck was standing right in the middle of the road and a doe nuzzled snow just off to the side.  Noticing us, in just a few long strides, the buck gracefully vanished, along with its partner, into the night.  In some mysterious way, I thought, “How appropriate that these two beautiful creatures…so stately…would come up from Fish Creek Park tonight.”  Patrick, may you rest in eternal peace.


A Farewell

Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea,
Thy tribute wave deliver:
No more by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.

Flow, softly flow, by lawn and lea,
A rivulet then a river:
Nowhere by thee my steps shall be
For ever and for ever.

But here will sigh thine alder tree
And here thine aspen shiver;
And here by thee will hum the bee,
For ever and for ever.

A thousand suns will stream on thee,
A thousand moons will quiver;
But not by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

Last evening, I attended an orientation for the Calgary Pathway and River Clean-up hosted by the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.  I felt that I was sitting with like-minded people and I felt transformed from the sense of helplessness and ineffectiveness of the morning.  I really DID relax into myself and felt gratitude for the project that I’ve been faithful to for the past three months.  I feel more prepared, for one, regarding hazardous materials procedures, safe practices, tactical disengagement and prohibited activities.  I guess I’ve been doing things backwards, really.  I had such a desire to clean up the darned mess that I acted somewhat spontaneously and might have at some point, really made a serious mistake.

Because the city closed down registrations for the Pathway and River Clean-up a wee bit early this year due to the overwhelming interest in volunteerism for this project. (Good Stuff!) I ended up registering my team for the Canada wide Pitch-In program that takes place April 23 -April 30.  On Saturday morning, the 28th, we’ll meet here for a big cowboy breakfast and I’ll train my team.  Then we’ll head out to Frank’s Flats for what will be my final pick-up of that particular tract of land.  Last night, one of the City Parks people went over this map with me and explained that it is corporate land, not parks land.  The City, however, has been very happy and supportive that I have taken this area on because it DOES become such an eye sore in terms of trash.  No one in the corporate world…CN Railway, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, or Tim Hortons is taking responsibility.

Those of you who read my recent posts know what a struggle it has been to get the ‘big boys’ of business on my side.  I’ve had good experiences there and not so good…Chandos Construction Ltd.  ended up being a prize among companies and an organization that wished to meet their social and ethical responsibilities.  Home Depot, on the other hand, wished to wash their hands of their own statement of philosophy and abandon it in a practical sense.  It was easier to make their mess someone elses responsibility.  I will never look at the word, ASSOCIATE, in the same way again.  Tim Hortons…well, Tim Hortons has a struggle of sustainability on their hands.  There are many grassroots folk who work for the company who have NO IDEA what the vision is for long term sustainability.  In their own sustainability report, they provide zero accountability for their own waste management.

Long-story-short, I will be calling 3-1-1 and find a piece of land that is within our City Parks jurisdiction and continue my stewardship in the city of Calgary.  The bird sanctuary, itself, is a testament to how beautiful a property can be within a bustling city!  I am proud of the work I’ve done and I DO believe that one person can change a landscape.  Frank’s Flats is for the most part, a ‘magical’ place and now, with the birds nesting along the pond’s perimeter, I feel as though my efforts are truly enjoyed!

On this map, you can see the piece of land to the right of the Shawnessy Home Depot, that has provided me with my greatest challenge.  Home Depot does NOT own that land!

Frank's Flats

I will spend the remainder of the month, along with my team, clearing the slope that edges on the school and I will get the highschool crud cleaned out from a stand of trees where some very yucky things happen…and then I will leave Frank’s Flats for the people who use it…to steward it…so, dog-walkers, joggers, homeless, highschool students, sports center parents and children, coffee drinkers…as of May 1st, this land is YOUR land!  I’ll be pickin’ in a piece of park land, not far from you.

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. Gustave Flaubert

First Snow and a Week In the Life

My daughter says that I should only use that particular handwritten font on wedding invitations and that her brain is tired of trying to figure it out…so, I will write using a basic Ariel font from this time forward.  But isn’t the colour nice?

When the first snow hit Calgary, Max Man was still in his cone.  It’s been eleven days since his surgery, so stitches will come out on Monday and I’ll be so glad that I will no longer have to be totally vigilant about guarding them.  It’s been a long haul and I’m glad for him to be in good health again.

On the first snow day, Max went out with his protective cone over his head and resembled a snow plow more than anything.  I laughed to myself as he continued to plow up snow onto his face, as he sniffed about, looking for an ideal spot to lift a leg.  At the park, our ball throwing was equally pathetic, as each ball plunked into the wet snow and bounced nowhere.  Max, over and over again, did a search and rescue, licking the snow off of the tennis ball, before returning to me. We’re going to have to do something about finding a new play toy for his morning activity on school days.


He and I have returned to the river, but on leash and are struggling with the dragging.  Max just wants to run. Too bad our Polite Pooches money was poured into surgery this month as I really want to get some tips on some things, one being leash behaviours.  We aren’t able to begin agility training until the polite pooches class happens, so we’re on a bit of a hold.

Today is going to be filled up to the brim because yesterday was a play day after a crazy burrito and sangria party, early morning papier mache trees, a ya ya lunch of french cuisine…it’s time to roll up the shirt sleeves and get some things accomplished!  Max awaits his morning romp outdoors. HOLA!