I had a couple of weeks where I had a chance to spend the days with my grandson and don’t want to be remiss in acknowledging that time. I look back on those days with a warm and happy heart. He is changing so fast and so much and he is just such a funny person. I love to talk with him. I treasure every moment. A collection of images for our times shared will be included here…but first…
All of the poems I read on the internet…poems for grandsons…were stupid. The intentions were lovely and they were very very sweet. But, none of them suited my grandson. ‘Perhaps one day I will try to write a poem for you, my wonderful magical Steven.’ For now, the poem that best suited our little boy who loves ants and lady bugs and spiders is this one, written by William Carlos Williams, for his grandson. It is titled, The Turtle. I apologize that these bits are unclear.
Off the top…a great book recommendation made by Bill MacDonnell, Landscape and Memory by Simon Schama.
From the section of Streams of Consciousness Chapter 5…this preface by Gaston Bachelard.
“I was born in a country of brooks and rivers, in a corner of Champagne, called Le Vallage for the great number of its valleys. The most beautiful of its places for me was the hollow of a valley by the side of fresh water, in the shade of willows…My pleasure still is to follow the stream, to walk along its banks in the right direction, in the direction of the flowing water, the water that leads life towards the next village…Dreaming beside the river, I gave my imagination to the water, the green, clear water, the water that makes the meadows green. …The stream doesn’t have to be ours; the water doesn’t have to be ours. The anonymous water knows all my secrets. And the same memory issues from every spring.”
― Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter
These summarize my general sense of landscape and more specifically, place.
Just as I think that our narratives inhabit objects, and without materialism, contain our affections and memory, I believe that particular places do the same.
On Labour Day, my son and I headed to Magrath, Alberta to say good-bye to a house…my Auntie Ruth’s home…because on September 15, it will be possessed by a new family after all of these years. James and I listened to CBC radio programming all the way south to Lethbridge. It seems to me that a story on whistle blowers in places of employment kept us engaged for most of the journey. The miles, as is usual, went by quickly. Once traveling the 23 across from Claresholm, Barons was just around the corner and then, with coulees in sight, I felt as though I was home.
Rolling into Magrath, the first stop was the old house. My cousins have been sorting and downsizing and cleaning…a very difficult experience, as I recall from the days when my parents went through the same process. As I stepped into the house, all of the memories of childhood and adulthood rushed back to the surface. There’s just no stopping that particular experience. I snapped a few photographs…while Auntie Ruth had already moved…she was still absolutely present to my experience of memory and love.
Last week, my cousin wrote that he had found a package of negatives in among Ruth’s things…and much like I do at such discoveries, he set out and had them developed. Here, is a scan of one of those photographs. My parents, in 1954, brother John, a year old and one, a photograph of my Grandfather, John Moors, with his dog at Greg Lake.
“His use of architectural phenomenology lets the mind loose to make its way, always ready for what might emerge in the process. The house is ‘the topography of our intimate being’, both the repository of memory and the lodging of the soul – in many ways simply the space in our own heads. He offered no shortcuts or routes of avoidance, since ‘the phenomenologist has to pursue every image to the very end’.”
If one does not move carefully through a house/home, one might not capture these bits of magic or ephemera that remain silenced by time and circumstance. I’m grateful to my cousin who discovered those negatives, flattened amid the bric-a-brac.
Our footsteps echoed in the house, as James and I traveled room to room. And while memories flooded my walk, my son James had a completely different experience of place and quietly uttered the words, “This is so sad.”
I remember the front door always being open or unlocked. Family came and went.
My father asked me to take a photograph of the front door. Several times repaired or renovated, my father had recollection of an incident from his childhood in this part of the house. I’m publishing that recollection, here, as it was written.
“Well the problem is Kath this new door had the hole above it fixed. Anyway my dad and his buddies came home from hunting birds one day in Magrath Alberta . Of course they were half cut (as dad told me years later”if you are going to drink just drink good scotch and you will never have a hang over”. Well that day Dad left a shell in his single barrel 12 gauge shot gun. I being an inquisitive young lad wanted them all to know ( Mom and the whole family was in that little living room); anyway I lined up the duck flying above the door cocked the gun and pulled the trigger.. BAM you should have heard the screems and the shot about knocked me on my butt but there was a neat round hole firght through trim at the top of the door which appeared just seconds after a big guy way over 6 feet had walked in. Dad was the only one who got supreme heck for having a loaded gun in the house. Now I have bared my soul to all those interested.PS I was about 7 or so when this happened..”
I remember fried eggs and bacon cooking….the smell of toast freshly-popped. I remember my mother’s laughter in this kitchen. I will always remember where my Auntie sat.
The back room…I remember the ceiling being lined with cardboard egg cartons. I remember my cousins and drumming and laughter. I remember the door from this room out to the back, always open. I remember summer.
I remember Linda. I remember sleepovers. I remember lots of quilts and pillows.
I remember food supply.
Objects of the every day.
I remember the gardens…the lilies…the geraniums…the hanging baskets.
More than anything, I remember my Auntie sitting on the front porch.
From the house, James and I went for visits with both his Great Aunties…Ruth and then Eleanor. We are so blessed to have these women in our lives, as well as my Auntie Jackie and Auntie Mary. I lift up prayers for all…for their health and their safety and that we keep memories such as I enjoyed with my son, close to our hearts.
Just this morning, and the reason for this post, I interviewed Auntie Ruth over the telephone, about her home.
Back in early 1940s, my Gramma and Grampa moved to Magrath, mostly in an effort to help their young daughter, Ruth, fight the symptoms of asthma. The humid air in Ontario seemed to really irritate her breathing and my grandparents were willing to try anything.
The first home they lived in was rented from a Ukrainian family. I am in the process of researching their name. Water was manually pumped from a well on the property. There was an outhouse and bathing happened in the middle of the kitchen floor in a round tub. Auntie Ruth remembers the water being heated in a kettle on a wood/coal stove.
Magrath had two stores at the time, the Trading Company and Louis Stevenson’s store. There was a black smith shop on main street, as well as a show house. There were no sidewalks in the town.
When Ruth turned 16, she remembers that the family moved into a white stucco house, the very house that James and I visited on September 1 of this year. She remembers that Eleanor, Margaret and Johnny went off to school in the town, located where today’s school stands but, of course, a much smaller building. During the war, Ruth worked at one of the blanket-making machines in the Golden Fleece Woolen Mill. I’m posting a photograph of that particular mill here…it is not to be confused with the Woolen Mill that my grandfather opened up some years later.
Many contracts came in to the Magrath Golden Fleece Woolen Mill during World War II 1939-1945. My Auntie remembers working there.
A booklet published by the Magrath History and Museum Association and written by John Balderson, explains…
“When in full operation, the Golden Fleece Woolen Mill ran three 8 hour shifts, 24 hours a day. Twenty-five men and women were on each shift making seventy-five individuals in total. Two hundred and twenty five army blankets were made each day using 1,000,000 lbs of wool each year.”
Whenever my Auntie speaks about that time, she mentions the Canadians of Japanese descent who shared her machines with her. She also talks about the shame she feels at how they were treated. She explained to me this morning that eight Japanese-Canadian women were pulled off the Sugar Beet fields, to work in the mill. They were all University educated and lovely, however, shy women. Auntie Ruth said that their housing was comprised of sheds lined up on the far edge of town, rows and rows of sheds where these beautiful and hard-working people were treated as prisoners-of-war. My Auntie will never forget the women she worked with on her shifts.
In terms of the house, my Auntie remembers very good and also, difficult times. She dated my Uncle Roy for four months when they got married and moved to Lethbridge, Uncle Roy worked for Western Drilling. Ruth was 20 at the time. Auntie Ruth will always tell you that the Korean War finished off her husband. And all these years later, having read about the war and discovered the exposure these soldiers had to Mustard Agent and Lewisite as well as the bizarre view of PTSD at the time and the irresponsible treatment of these veterans, it is absolutely no wonder that he and his family, struggled upon his return.
I remember vacation days in both Magrath (at my Auntie Ruth’s and at my Grandparent’s place in front of the mill) and Raymond (at my Auntie Eleanor and Uncle Ted’s place). In fact, I regret that I didn’t have the chance to grieve the farmhouse in Raymond like I did this house. I remember much family laughter. I remember the smell of a slow-cooked blade roast in the oven. I remember my Grandmother’s laughter. I remember the smell of wool.
This past weekend, I said good-bye to a place. That does not mean that it does not remain with me…always.
I’ve always used the word loosely. No incantations…nothing showing up out of a top hat. It’s a way of being…a choice to live in delight…even when, like today, a 2 liter jug of eggnog spills out on the kitchen floor, just minutes before having to rush out the door. I’ve made an effort now and then to explain…but, it is too much about the un-explainable.
Yesterday, I painted with Grade Ones…tree ornaments…I thought these would be cool with a bit of an aluminum foil embellishment added. I still paint with kids around the city, every opportunity I get, but have stopped writing so much about it. Holding a brush is an important action…it’s something important enough to become familiar…to practice…to enjoy. I like to paint with kids.
Every darned day that I am a guest teacher in someone’s classroom, I am absolutely blown away by the mountain of responsibility and creativity that is observable in just moments of being in that someone’s learning environment. I am in awe of the magic of the teaching experience, interaction and output, both by teachers and by their students.
I usually go over to the window first and open the blinds. I like to see how the light changes things. I also have the time to reflect, something that teachers who are steeped in their careers don’t always have enough opportunity to do. I like to reflect about the spaces where I find myself enjoying, exploring and filling with hard work.
Yesterday, Amber generously shared her students (little guys) with me. Grade One! Wow! All I can remember about grade one is my coat hook and the fact that my brother ran so fast the first day of school, I felt really really panicked about catching up. I remember a man walking about the school yard, at a point, raising a hand bell high in the air and shooing us into the building. I still, to this day, want to call him Mr. Cannon.
I haven’t asked permission (now I have), but would like to share a couple of images I snapped while the students went up to the music room for their very first time.
Just look at these…tell me what you think.
The students were full of energy, but we enjoyed our time together and really engaged the process of chalk drawing and painting. (There was no white in the supply cupboard so…I used yellow to brighten some of the colour…but, tints are just so lovely!) The students were very attentive as we went forward and I’ve captured a few little images of their work and their journal responses. Magic. And yes! Could be an Easter Egg…could be a kite…could be an ornament! In the ‘end’, it is about the means…and NOT the END! The experience of painting is wondrous. There! You heard it from me!
I asked the students if they might do a journal entry about their experience and the resulting pieces were pretty amazing. Lucas told me he didn’t want me to photograph the following drawing until he had finished the light coming from the window.
Today, I left my paint bucket out in the car. I thought I’d meet Jen’s Grade Six students before committing to an art experience in paint, this afternoon. I wasn’t with them for ten minutes and I knew that they would enjoy and respond well with paint. Mayhaps it was the fact that the first wondrous thing I noticed, after looking out the window…were these!
Gorgeous, Jen!! Wowsah!
I decided that I’d use the very same lesson that I did with the Grade Ones. As I delivered my lesson about tempera paint, I could have heard a pin drop. The students were totally engaged and I was pretty grateful. Nice people. So, as I publish the next photos, I was wondering if my readers are able to notice the differences, schematically.
The past two days have been blessing days.
And, this evening…
Nigel left me a note. I’m over the moon about it. I treasured him years ago…and treasure his contact now.
I will always remember you as “Mrs H”. I don’t know if you remember me, but you taught me grade 7 art some years ago. I have been searching for you for some time, but it is only appropriate that I should find you now, as I am about to embark on a new adventure; teaching art. Would you be interested in a get together and perhaps imparting some of your wisdom to me?
What a beautiful exchange was had…looking forward to many inspiring conversations about art education with this new arts educator!
Of course! The Osprey are on my mind these days, so let’s see what Grade Three can pull off! I shared, with the students, a few of my own photographs of Osprey. We talked about the similarities and differences between Eagles, Hawks and Osprey because, even adults, get them confused with one another.
Earlier in the day, the students had discussed, with me, the aspects of a champion. I told them that I am a champion for nature and always will be. They told me stories about their champions and then went to their seats to write a couple of paragraphs about someone they consider to be a champion in their lives. During art, we would be champions for nature, by talking for a while about how Enmax has built platforms throughout our city in order to help the Osprey out and to protect them.
Then, the students would use their artistic practice to be champions, by making art that would teach others about the Osprey.
David Allen Sibley is an American ornithologist. What better person to demonstrate some real basics of the form involved with drawing a profile view of an Osprey? The students made three sketches in their visual journals. YES! Three! Practice practice practice! If my readers want to see how challenging it is to draw the beaks, the form of the body and the head shape, try to draw along with David Sibley, here. While I wanted to do a small composition with the students in chalk pastel, I also wanted to prepare them. The practice was invaluable and the compositions ended up fantastic!
I recommend that you put this video on silent as the music is very irritating…however, I wanted to give the students practice drawing the Osprey looking the other direction. Most chose to incorporate this posture for their composition and worked from their own drawings, as references.
Here’s some of what the students accomplished. Thank you for your class, Jenn. The students were absorbed and determined as they produced their compositions. Having the practice under their belts, the chalk drawings took a little over 30 minutes…no pencil was used in the compositions.
Pencil sketching from projected Youtube videos…
Students used white chalk to block in their simple contour lines to define where their Osprey would be placed in the composition.
With a foundation of Reflection and Depiction, the students then had opportunity to Compose and Express, using the media. They learned to leave bits of the ground (green paper surface) exposed…to turn their chalk pastels onto their sides and on the tip, for different mark making. A very absorbed activity.
When all was said and done, some of the students shared with me that when they were in Grade Two, I spent a class drawing Eagles with them. I showed them a Live Eagle Cam from Duke Farms. No eagles showed up to nest at Duke Farms this year.
I think that it’s a very cool thing that some of these students have studied the Eagle and now, the Osprey.
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.
Various 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.I 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.
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.At 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.
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.
I cherished painting last night at the Rumble House. Stories from Paris were my first stories of the day because, rising early, I had a coffee in my hand and some free time. I clicked on the news. Sigh. Twelve human beings killed.
In the past, I’ve been appalled with satire that was posted on social media regarding MY GOD…MY JESUS…MY LORD. There’s no way on earth I could understand the inhuman approach to such disturbing images that got a ‘big laugh’ from the throngs of the Faceless Facebook personae. At the time, I was struggling. At the time, my Mom was struggling…she was struggling for breath in hospital, having been afflicted with pneumonia. No one loves/loved Jesus more than my Mom. So…how did I feel about the public hatred for Christianity…the insensitive portrayal of MY Saviour? I felt hurt…attacked…defiant. But, how did my actions play out? I expressed my point of view on the subject. I shared my feelings. I confronted and even celebrated my faith. I understood that not everyone sees things my way and that doesn’t make me a lesser being and it certainly is no deficiency in the other.
Given who I am, I doubt that I would truly appreciate the perspective or satire shared by the Charles Hebdo weekly newspaper. It’s just not in me to poke fun at any person’s faith or ideas. However, what was accomplished by mowing down the lives of human beings who were simply expressing their opinions in a democratic society, can only be described as shocking and deeply disturbing. I was left speechless as I thought all day about how much I treasure my freedom to express.
So…what did I paint?
I thought about a few different contexts and melded them. I knew exactly what I wanted to paint.
For one reference, Grampa Moors used to spend hours watching Loonie Tunes, his favourite being The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Grampa, after a day in the woolen mill, would pull down his suspenders and turn on the cartoons, laughing in his way (I can hear it right now, as I type), while a whole row of youngsters curled up under his arm on the sofa while he did. I don’t think that there was anything more violent in my childhood than watching this miserable, but somehow hopeful, coyote, blown up again and again or clobbered at the base of a huge ravine by a giant boulder. He always got up. Something about the aesthetic and characters of this wee cartoon, reached into me yesterday…and I remember the cartoon with a great deal of affection.
Who might possibly paint a portrait of this violence…and make it seemingly banal and even humourous? OH! I KNOW! Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) This would be somehow satirical…right? How could I build upon this? The artist paints an artist painting Wile E. Coyote…hmmm….what if the unsuspecting artist has as his possible undoing, his own subject matter! A bit of tension. I KNOW! Dynamite! And so the connections developed…I sought out a reference where the subject is Johannes Vermeer, painting…here it is, Vermeer At Easel circa 1662-1668.
I hoped that I might adjust the composition…and modify, knowing full well that I wasn’t going to be able to pull a Vermeer out of my bum in 2 hours.
So, in the end…I positioned the figure on the panel so that I had that space in the upper third…I KNOW…I will include the word SATIRE, for those people who need it spelled out for them. It DOES SEEM that a lot of people don’t understand OR appreciate good satire.
In the end, I am grateful for the generous bidding that took place on the piece. I thank Rich and Jess for hosting on a relatively quiet night…grateful for Jennifer and Andy because I always enjoy a good conversation…for Mike who had some interesting things to tell me about Paris…for Gavin who drove me to the station…for Claire, former student, who showed up for her first paint night and for Robb who purchased this piece at auction, but best of all, the offer of rides/support/coffee and just general generosity. I’m richly blessed by this community. (although the set cost for an adult fare on the C-Train IS ridiculous)
One gets used to multiple horizon lines, gazing out to that distant line to the west, where the sky reaches down behind the mountains like a silken blanket. There are the foothills, layers of cityscape, residential sprawls, the river and everything else that seems to tuck up close. Autumn’s landscape often seems endless and forever-deep.
All of that can change. With the change of weather and atmosphere, perspective shifts. This morning when Max and I headed out for Frank’s Flats, it seemed the world was two-dimensional. White crystals in the air, mixed with foggy patches and a sky that was a warm white…all of this spilled over and covered those horizon lines that define and create depth. Driving, I became mostly captivated by a sense of texture and acutely aware of how close everything was to me. As I moved into the landscape, it seemed as though I was being swallowed up.
Out on the slopes, my perspective of things opened up again. While very small, in comparison to the larger landscape, this part of the world was like coming home and my breathing opened up. Max bounded down to the frozen pond with the same enthusiasm that I felt. Above us, flock after flock of geese called out to the cold air, arriving and then disappearing to the west and to the south. I was reminded again of Stanley Kunitz’s poem, End of Summer. It has been, for years, my September poem in the classroom. I miss some things about having my own classes.
I relished the time with Max in this earthy, frozen, sleeping landscape. I felt inspired to write a children’s story about how every winter, somehow the pond becomes spotted with heavy round rocks. I created a character who systematically places them there on the ice. Each spring the pond becomes more and more shallow until all at once, there is no pond water left, but a huge field of rounded stones.
When perspectives shift, we create and think creatively.
I arrived to teach social studies a full hour early this afternoon, so I signed in and then headed for Fish Creek Park to the east. It was interesting being on the west side of the Bow River. My perspective and experience of the river is typically from the east side. While the air was biting by this time, I was in heaven. I felt alone. But, it wasn’t so.
There at the base of the ancient river elms, were three men, filming hair brushes. Yes. You read that correctly.
I carried on walking north along the river, for quite some time and then thought it best to head back.
Returning to my waiting car, I had opportunity to speak with one of the three men, a crew member for Bruce McCullock’s new work, Young Drunk Punk. I deliberately took time to look at his props. We spoke, as we walked along, about our own father’s hair brushes and the lasting scent of Brylcreem. We talked about black pocket combs and all of the nostalgia associated with these objects. I explained that from a distance I had imagined that the three of them were releasing a beaver and photographing the event. When we parted, one of us said, “Go home and check your hair brushes.” The other said, “Beware of the beaver.” How fun was that? What perspective we gain by putting ourselves into the world and making observations. One never knows.
It’s a beautiful thing to have friends who journey the years with you…while not WITH you exactly, they are in your heart. Everything I’m about to write comes from the rewriting of memory. It’s interesting that when Randy Bogner sits down and recalls a story or two, it seems to me, that those stories can be completely different from the ones that I recall. But, such is life and its richness. In telling stories, people can create something new each time…you know what I mean? If you don’t share a zillion years then you don’t get to discover how this works. One must laugh and enjoy these experiences. They are the blessings of lives well-lived.
I met Randy what seems THAT zillion years ago. It was through those years when I had a beautiful and young circle of friends early 70s, in Lethbridge, Alberta. I was blessed to be able to meet and live with my dear friend, to this day, Gloria. These were the years of EOF projects, Employment Opportunities For Youth and several of our group were employed teaching drawing, clay and painting in tucked away places, like the Civic Skating Rink. I remember listening to one teacher-friend reciting poetry while sitting on a table and at the same time, braiding a bracelet. I remember riding my bike every where.
Given that my family had moved east again, as was my father’s military obligation, I found myself plunked into a world that was strange and unfamiliar to me. So, along with the new, that same bike would regularly be parked up against the outside wall of a variety of churches, finally resting up against the brick wall of St. Patrick’s parish and so began my journey toward becoming a Catholic.
These were the days of hippie earth children, long hair and the White Album. Randy’s hair was admired by everyone, given that it extended the full length of his back. And he was/is a tall drink of water, so that’s saying something. Cabarets were also big and while I didn’t drink, I enjoyed the lively music and dancing late into the night. Hmmm….a good time to inject some music. S’alright…you needn’t listen to the entire album, but you might set it to play while you’re reading this nostalgia.
These were the years of back yard visiting, Yukka Flux and communal foot washing/rubbing rituals. It was a different time.
I remember, as well, that Randy played classical guitar so beautifully and during gatherings there would be this amazing sound going on while our friends talked over it. These were the days when we had it ALL FIGURED OUT and we were going to change the world.
Glo was/is the one who I must give credit to making sure that, over the years, we all stuck together…stayed in touch…were informed on births, deaths, marriages and she is a blessing to us all! For example, she created this collage of photographs, some distant past and others from 2000. Her card…I save them all…is dated August 25, 2001.
I lost touch with Randy for a chunk of years as he disappeared into the Slocan Valley…lived with a family of wonderful brothers and sisters and created pottery. This, from the outside, appeared to be a spiritual quest for Randy and contributed to his forever-formation as a Christian, I’m certain. We joke about the only visit I made out to Slocan, along with my daughter and a then-boyfriend. The ‘Shack’ seemed to be so tucked away in the trees of the valley, that from the bottom of a dirt road, I started calling out to the trees…”Randy! Randy! Are you there, Randy?” It turned out to be a beautiful visit, however other-worldly.
A few photographs, snappled up without permission, to illustrate Randy of those days…late 70s-early 80s.
What happened after that…I don’t know. Years passed. Gloria, again, became the reason I reunited with Randy and his beautiful wife, Jane, and their girls. A lot had transpired for the Bogners before this meeting. But…not my story to share. It was such a blessing to meet Jane and now to know her as a true Ya Ya. Wonderfully warm and generous of spirit, I can now say that I’ve had opportunity, along with Glo, to share much home made bread, soup and pastries with Jane’s family. Another family that loves dogs as much as I do! Jane is a wealth of knowledge, especially around book recommendations and always has the right question to ask to inspire and to provoke thought. I admire Jane’s ability to cook, and especially delight in her baked goods, but I’ve also had opportunity to look at her art portfolio and I still look forward to a paint-out opportunity. We share many laughs when we are visiting the Bogners and I’m so grateful for these times.
The last huge body of work I painted was an exhibit titled The Places I Have Been, hosted by the Wallace Art Galleries and the Bogner family, Glo and several of her friends came out to support me. I don’t know what I’d do without friends like these. That collection of landscapes somehow represented, also, the landscape of these friendships and what they have come to mean over time.
2010 Visiting the Bogners
There’s That Warm Bread!
There’s That Home Made Soup!
2013 Visit With the Bogners and Meeting Juno
Room for Dessert? YOU BET!
Quiche, Home Made Bread, Salad and the Glo’s Gift of an Orchid
2014 Visit With the Bogners
I could go on and on with photographs and anecdotes, but suffice it to say today, Sunday, I’m grateful to the friends in my life. I’ve appreciated your support, your humour and your genuine love all of these years. Let’s remember always what these years have meant.
It wasn’t five minutes ago that I stood in the middle of a wide open field. The air was cold. Crystals of snow tickled my cheeks. The sky was dark…the trees, etched in fine detail against the street lamps. Snow crunched under foot. My border collie, Max, charged wildly in circles. When his face looked up at me, it was white apart from his dark eyes, sparkling like coal and like everything around me. The sensory experience brought back two memories.
For one, I remembered walking home from the airplane hangar that doubled in winter, as a skating rink for military children. My friends and I would laugh and talk all the way home, one at a time, veering off in the direction of a PMQ…home…warmly lit up on a winter’s night, the collective shrinking in size, the longer we walked. Boots, stiff from the frigid air. That same crunch under foot. Leaping into banks, harder and more lumpy than they appeared and piled high on the sides of the road. Snow packed in swaths shone under street lamps like sheets of cellophane. A recent plough must have just passed by. We walked down the center of the road. No cars. No traffic. Voices echoing.
Secondly, I thought about my own father throwing a ball for his treasured pet, Gus. I could look out from my window at 42 Market Street, to the huge field across the street and plainly see my father throwing the ball over and over again, repetitiously and Gus, speeding back like black lightening as many times.. As I threw the whizzo for Max Man in MY field tonight, the repeated action brought up a memory of my father and another dog that, at the time and even now, means the world to me.
So, tonight, similar feelings bubbled up inside me. I heard myself saying out loud in the field, “I want to remember this moment.”
When my first born was in my arms, I held her close and touched the downy fuzz on the top of her head. Tears slipping warm down my cheek, I said, “I don’t want to forget this. Let this moment stay with me. Let me remember.” Tonight that wee child is a beautiful woman with a husband and the ability to cook amazing meals, nestled in her own home, discovering all of this, apart.
This has been happening a lot lately. On the day when I had to let go of our family pet, I spent the entire day alone with him…observing…touching the small imperfections of his ears…looking at the patterns on his tail and his tummy, wanting to remember…the joys of the 15 year relationship by some how remembering the details of his physical body, his warm breath, his purring, his gestures.
These and many more experiences (too many to relate here) have come up for me recently, but these do not, the revelation make! (Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury). The revelation is that these experiences, in part, are why we write…why we paint…why we play music. I think that we do these things as a way of recollection or floating, as in resin, our experiences, our memories, and our treasured sensory discoveries.
Tonight…Remembrance Day 2014 slips away. We have remembered through music, poetry, verse, stories and the simple beauty of a red poppy. Through these rituals, our lives as a creative, struggling, discovering, failing, flopping, getting-up-again people are rehearsed and remembered.
I have written about a crystalline winter’s night, so I will remember.
I Am the One Who Will Remember Everything
Oh what have we here, he must be three or four,
Shaken out of a boot on its way back to war
And hes not looking for a father or a mother,
Just a seven year old brother,
On this smudged line border camp of refugees,
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
So where are we now, he must be five or six,
Just running around, hungry kids, sharpened sticks.
And he will grow with pain and fear and jealousy,
Taken in by schools of zealotry,
Who train orphans to make orphans evermore.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
You drink the smoke, you ride the noise
You drink the smoke, you ride the noise,
And you say its necessary,
And you forget the ordinary
But I say, on the wheel of time,
Scour the Earth and find the
Orphans of forgetting, all the orphans of forgetting,
Give them stars for math and praise for good play,
Heres a Band-Aid, happy birthday,
Yes of course I did remember,
I remember everything.
Oh come over here, kid weve got all these books to read,
With the turtles and frogs, cats and dogs who civilize the centuries,
And in a world thats angry, cruel and furious,
Theres this monkey whos just curious,
Floating high above a park with bright balloons.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
Only elegant words would be adequate to describe Marjorie and I can’t find those as I sit down to write. I met Marjorie through my beautiful sister, Grace. Thanks be to God. It would have been a sad thing to have missed this opportunity in life. She is one of the most soulful and gracious individuals I’ve ever met. But here I go…trying to use ordinary words. I’m going to post a poem, a song and some images. I hope that they will be enough.
The stories that Marjorie shared with me…told again and again…so, now maybe I can keep them and learn from them. The following, metaphors.
A Memory of Youth by William Butler Yeats
THE moments passed as at a play;
I had the wisdom love brings forth;
I had my share of mother-wit,
And yet for all that I could say,
And though I had her praise for it,
A cloud blown from the cut-throat North
Suddenly hid Love’s moon away.
Believing every word I said,
I praised her body and her mind
Till pride had made her eyes grow bright,
And pleasure made her cheeks grow red,
And vanity her footfall light,
Yet we, for all that praise, could find
Nothing but darkness overhead.
We sat as silent as a stone,
We knew, though she’d not said a word,
That even the best of love must die,
And had been savagely undone
Were it not that Love upon the cry
Of a most ridiculous little bird
Tore from the clouds his marvellous moon.
ALTHOUGH crowds gathered once if she but showed her face,
And even old men’s eyes grew dim, this hand alone,
Like some last courtier at a gypsy camping-place
Babbling of fallen majesty, records what’s gone.
These lineaments, a heart that laughter has made sweet,
These, these remain, but I record what-s gone. A crowd
Will gather, and not know it walks the very street
Whereon a thing once walked that seemed a burning cloud
A head above the rest.
New Friendships Last
Marjorie. I will remember the prayers she said for my children.