Re-Imagining

I am off this morning to pack up my art from the art show, where because of COVID capacity numbers, no artists were in attendance, just their art. It was strange to receive texts and messages throughout the weekend asking, “Are you here? We are? Where are you?”

Back at home, I worked in my studio. Not creating art. Creating the space, or rather ‘re-imagining’ it.

Two years ago, when my daughter and her partner bought a bungalow and began to renovate it, I became the owner of two solid wood closet doors.

Last year, when we gave a leather couch to a friend for his lodge, one of the doors was used as a solid surface for transport. The lodge is closed in the winter so the door stayed tucked away in storage until our friend went to open up the lodge this past week.

Last week, when I got the door back, I decided it was time to do what I had always intended to do with the doors, transform them into tables for my studio. I’d been using two of those long plastic tables with the fold out metal legs — they worked well, but added no esthetic value to my studio.

It was time for beauty to supersede function.

Over the weekend, I attached the legs I’d bought and re-organized. I also hung the beauty art quilt tapestry that my friend Jane gave me. Bonus.

I LOVE it all. The process of re-imagining. The attaching the legs to the closet doors. The cleaning and organizing. The hanging my tapestry. The feeling of calm that my studio embodies.

This morning, as Beau and I went for our early morning walk, I was thinking about the process of getting ready for the art show and how the ‘knowing’ I had to create for it had sat at the back of my mind every single day for months. No matter what I was doing, there was always the thought “I need to be doing’ simmering away on a back burner.

This morning, that though was gone. Poof! Vanished.

I won’t know until later how I did at the show, though I know a couple of pieces sold, which is lovely.

What I do know is that not being there was strange. Kind of otherworldly almost.

And I know it’s just a case of it being ‘different’ than how I’ve done shows before. Not bad. Not good. Different.

In that ‘different’ is the opportunity to assess what I want.

Like the door that became a table when it returned, when my unsold art comes home, I can decide what next.

Do I re-imagine my online store? Do I hold an art show of my own? Do I….

Lots of options. Lots of opportunity.

All mine to explore.

And, like the sparrows who are transforming the robin’s now empty nest outside my studio doors into a nest of their own, I get to re-imagine what was into something new and wonderful and inspiring just for me… What a lovely opportunity. What a wonderful day!

The Table Door

It was just… one of those…

Drives. Yup. Just one of those drives that took way longer than anticipated. Even the lady in my navigation system who talks me into going places I’ve never been before didn’t know where we were going. She was so lost she led me down a road and told me to turn right when I reached the main highway — except, the road she led me down no longer has access to the main highway.

The south west quadrant of our city is under major road construction as they complete the last leg of the ringroad — which means…. directions, road access, signage… it’s all iffy! When I finally got to the highway (after many unnecessary extra kilometers) she still didn’t like the direction I was going and insisted I pull a ‘legal U-turn. Except, I was on the right highway, going in the right direction to get to Vale’s Greenhouse in Black Diamond, the site of the art show where my art is on display for sale this weekend.

I write it as ‘my art on display for sale’ as one of the things I mis-read in the instructions letter Vale’s had sent was the fact that artists are not actually in attendance at the show.

Due to Covid — capacity limits on the number of people in attendance are too low if all the artists are onsite. So… the show is on display, without artists.

I didn’t realize/connect to that reality until I was leaving after spending the day setting up. When the manager of the Greenhouse asked if I was not selling the three paintings I was taking back to my car, I said, “I don’t have enough room for them so thought I’d just leave them in the car and bring them in when space permits over the weekend.”

That’s when I realized my misconception.

It’s the same way they ran the show last year – and it went well so I’m not worried. Just a tad disappointed as it really is fun to be onsite and chat with people as they wander through the art.

Lady in Red – mixed media on canvas board, 11 x 14″

There was a woman yesterday who insisted she was coming back on Friday to buy my Lady in Red painting. And, several people did take poems from my Poetry in a Basket display — so I’m pretty pumped!

And, I have to say this — the show is absolutely gorgeous! I was too tired at the end of the day to do a slow walk around the greenhouses and plan on doing so tomorrow when I go back as a ‘customer’ – I also wanted to pick up some plants so it’s quite legit!

There are some incredible artists in the show and seeing all the work amidst the greenery and flowers is stunning.

And none of it matters. The getting lost. The tiredness. The did I forget anything worries nor the oh dear… I misread the directions angst.

In the end, my little greenhouse corner looks great and I have done something I’ve wanted to do — be part of the Vale’s Greenhouse Cultivation of Art Show and Sale. Yipppeee!!!

And here is a little video of my corner of the greenhouse.

Poetry in a Basket

“Poetry … is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own.” — Salvatore Quasimodo, from a speech in New York, quoted in The New York Times

— Salvatore Quasimodo, from a speech in New York, quoted in The New York Times

As I’ve been getting ready for the Vale’s Cultivation of Art Show and Sale this weekend, I was working on two things to have as an offering – one to give to patrons who buy my work. The other to have as a give away to anyone passing by.

The first was easy. I love making bookmarks so have created a stack of them to have on hand.

The second I struggled with. And then, yesterday afternoon, while I finished off getting a couple of pieces ready for sale, the idea came to me.

Poetry in a Basket

I have oodles of poems I’ve written over the years. They’re stored on my computer, in journals, on scraps of paper beside my bed or scribbled in the margins of a book.

Why not inspire acts of poetry by offering passers-by the opportunity to ‘pick a poem, any poem’ from my basket?

I am both artist and writer, creative imaginer and poet. Why not showcase my ‘other side’ along with my art?

And thus… Poetry in a Basket was born.

As I watched the final feature presentation of the THIRD ACTion Film Fest last night (it was AMAZING btw – the whole Film Fest. Kudos to founder and president of the festival Mitzi Murray and her team), I sat in the chaise beside my desk and rolled and tied-up poems to be put in the basket. I figure, if people can knit and crochet while watching a film, why not roll-up poetry? And the film, One Careful Owner, was the perfect inspiration for my random acts of poetry.

Poet Lucille Clifton wrote, “Poetry is a matter of life, not just language.”

Art is a matter of life becoming visible through the hands and eyes and words and bodies of the painter, sculptor, weaver, writer, architect, gardener, chef, dancer, actor, film-maker…

We are artists. All of us. It’s the mediums we employ and deploy to tell our stories that differs.

And for me, those mediums include both visual and written pieces.

Sooo…

Poetry in a BasketA Gift of Words to inspire, awaken, challenge, move and motivate you into becoming the poet and the poem in your own life.

And now… I’m off to finish getting ready. I had noted my set-up time in my calendar as being Thursday afternoon. Yesterday morning, as I began to record my words for sale on the sheet to provide the organizers of the show, I realized I’d made a mistake — my set-up time is Wednesday afternoon.

I’ve got a lot to do between now and then….

I may or may not see you until I get to the other side next Monday.

But…. if you’re out and about in the Calgary area, this show is one of the most beautiful shows around. It’s spread throughout the greenhouses of Vale’s, along the Sheep River in Black Diamond. Seeing the art amongst all the flowers and plants is truly breath-taking. And there are weavers and jewelry-makers and potters and ceramics artists too, not just painters.

So… if you’re around Friday, Saturday or Sunday and looking for a lovely outing, do drop by!

Click HERE for details.

Why I Dance!

Why I Dance – mixed media on canvas board. 11 x 14″

Years ago, as a gift for my daughters, I painted two paintings on the theme of dancing.

Yesterday, I wrote a poem entitled, Why I Dance.

I knew that somewhere I had a photo of the painting I’d created for my eldest daughter and went in search of it. I thought it might make a good accompaniment for my poem.

I found the painting, (believe me I was surprised!) but… I wasn’t all that pleased with the work. At the time, it was good. I had only been painting for a couple of years and it was a reflection of my nascent skills and talent.

But, (and yes, there’s always a ‘but’) I had totally forgotten about the ‘when’ of my beginning to paint until I started working on a new piece to go with my poem.

I started painting in the throes of a relationship that almost killed me. I had mostly quit writing. Writing is about truth for me and the truth around that relationship was enshrouded in so much pain and fear and terror I could not, would not, didn’t dare express it.

On that first day when I picked up a paintbrush, I found a way to express myself through creating beauty to block out the pain and fear I lived within every moment of every day.

As I look back on the gifts that painting has brought me, I am humbled by its power to transform fear into faith, pain into perseverance, horror into hope.

My eldest daughter taught me how to paint.

My daughters teach me how to love, the darkness and the light, within and all around me.

Writing teaches me every day how to walk in truth.

Painting awakens me, every day, to the beauty, within and all around me.

And here’s the thing about writing. This post is not at all what I had thought it would be about when I started typing this morning.

And then, the words appeared and as is the way, they just kept flowing as I flowed with them.

I’d type more but… Beaumont the Sheepadoodle is sitting by my desk, staring at me with that looks he gets when he feels I have been sitting here too long. “It’s time to get out into nature,” he says with his emploring eyes.

And I believe him and am off to dance with nature.

Why I Dance 
by Louise Gallagher  

There is no rhyme 
or reason 
to why 
I dance 

there is only  
the beat 
pounding 
pulsing 
pushing 
my body 
to move 
cavort 
contort 
into expressive release 
of the energy 
coursing 
through my veins 
limbs extended 
reaching out 
as if in that one  
fluid motion  
I can grab on 
to nothing 
but air 
and fly 
as high as the sky 
free 
of all earth 
bound need  
to be tied 
down.  
There is no rhyme  
or reason 
to why I 
dance. 
 
There is only  
the desire 
to fly 
free. 
This is the painting I created in 2003, the year I was released from that relationship.

Waiting out the storm

The morning started out cool, damp and gloomy yesterday. As the morning progressed, it didn’t get much better.

By the time Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I went for our long walk, the temperature was still hovering close to freezing.

“I should dress warmly,” I told my rational self.

My irrational self had other ideas. “It’s late May,” that voice inside my head that loves to be contradictory insisted. “You shouldn’t have to bundle up.”

This is Calgary. Snow in May is not uncommon.

In 1986, when I was in the final weeks of my first pregnancy, (my due date was May 28) we were also in the final stages of finishing a renovation on our house. The back end was still covered in a big tarp as our contractor raced to complete construction before I gave birth.

Fortunately, my daughter decided to wait three weeks before putting in her appearance June 19th, but that’s a whole other story.

At the time, we were racing to finish the renovation when the weather decided we needed one last big dollop of winter. And I mean BIG TIME dollop. A HUGE dump of snow.

So yeah. Snow is not uncommon in Calgary in May.

Alas, it’s also not uncommon for my mind to decide it knows better, or to forget being obstinate is not necessarily a good thing.

Which is why, when Beau and I were walking on the path that wends its way through the woods along the river, I had to stop under a tree, pull the linen scarf I wore around my neck primarily for decoration, up over my head, and wait out the sleet that was almost snow. Note to self: linen scarves do not offer much protection from the elements.

Beau had no need to wait. Oblivious to the white stuff falling from the sky, he sniffed and snuffled through the grasses, bound over fallen logs and headed into the river for a drink.

By the time the sleet/snow stopped I was feeling mighty damp. Because I had told myself I didn’t need to wear my fleece lined rain jackiet, my sweater coat offered about as much protection as my linen scarf.

And none of that mattered.

As I stood under the canopy of the forest, I listened to the birds twittering and tweeting in the trees. A pair of Canada Geese honked as they flew overhead. Two ducks floated on the river just out of Beau’s reach. A squirrel complained vociferously about Beau’s presence on his turf. A woodpecker pecked on a tree trunk somewhere close by and the leaves whispered stories of their unfurling as the wind rustled through the branches.

It was magical. Mystical. Beautiful. And, I might have missed feeling, hearing, seeing, experiencing the sounds and sights of the forest so deeply had I not stopped under a tree to wait out the squall.

Which makes me wonder… how much beauty do I miss when I’m busy living my life as if getting to the next moment in time is all that matters? How much of the mystery and wonder do I not experience because I’m busy marching through inclement times determined to better life and get ‘this stuff’ over with so I can get to the ‘good stuff’?

Living on the river reminds me, every day, that it’s not about bracing myself to face every storm as if I can get the better of nature. Nor is it about trying to protect myself from life, or arm myself to avoid falling or getting wet.

It’s about listening to the calling of the trees, the birds and all of nature and allowing all of nature to unfold naturally, effortlessly, calmly, without my trying to control it.

And yes, it’s a good idea to put on a rain jacket when the skies are cloudy and grey. But it’s not the rain jacket that makes life beautiful and magical and full of awe. It’s your attitude.

Whether you storm head first into inclement weather, or wait it out under a tree, being present to all that is around you, savouring the moment full of the sights and sounds of nature, makes all the difference in the world, no matter the weather, or even how well you’re dressed for it.

Namaste.

Goosey Tales

It was as if in the early hours of the morning the sun had cajoled the trees with its exhortations, “You can do it! You can do it!” And the leaves had whispered to the branches, “Leaf out! Leaf out!” And the branches had called to its roots, “Push! Push! Push! and suddenly, spring burst out in glorious, splendorous, luscious greenery.

Beau and I walked along the river in the early morning light savouring the sounds and sights, occassionally, he stepped to the water’s edge and grabbed a sip of cool mountain water and continued to run along the trail.

And then….

He spied a lone Canada Goose floating in the middle of the river.

With a leap and a bound, Beau splashed into the water and started madly paddling towards the goose.

The goose started madly honking and swimming in circles, flapping her wings as if to say, “Go Away!”

Which I think is exactly what I think she was saying!

Beau started paddling faster and trying to bark as he went and I stood on the banks calling at him to ‘Come back here!’

Beau finally heeded my calls and turned back towards shore.

The goose never quit honking, but she did quit flapping her wings when Beau turned around and came back to shore.

And thus ended the peace and tranquility of the morning.

And Beau’s only comment was…. “I think she was the goose on the deck! If she can invade my peace and my home, why can’t I disturb hers?”

What a dawg!

______________

Oh… and here’s what the trees looked like…

Spring Splendour

A Kiss Like No Other.

There is something magical about walking along the river in the early evening of a warm Spring day.

Magical.

Mystical.

Mysterious.

Birds twitter in trees, the soft trill of some unknown (to me) species. The chattering of the chickadees mixing with the gossiping of squirrels. Ducks quacking from the middle of the river where they float lazily by while overhead, geese fly low, honking and calling out to one another.

Divine.

Delightful.

Delicious.

Leaves rustle on trees as if, released from the tightness of their buds, they have much to share about winter days gone by. Grasses turn green, eyeing one another as they whisper amongst themselves the secrets they’ve dug up from deep within their roots.

Luscious.

Luminous.

Light.

Fairy dancers spinning tales of magic on sun-dappled water. A fisherman casting his line out where he stands, thigh deep, in the running waters. A fish jumps just out of the water, splashes down as if to say to the erstwhile fisherman, “Catch me if you can!”.

Stories woven out of air, spun upon a gentle breeze catching a whiff of something exotic simmering on the fire where a family gathers to share time spent laughing and playing and eating by the river.

And I walk along the river’s edge and Beaumont chases the ball and stops to sniff some unknown scent and then he lets the ball fall into the water and he follows it with a splash into the river and I sit on the bank and watch and smile and listen and savour the pure delight of being alive in this moment right now.

This is spring in the city. My viewpoint focused to this moment in time where I sit and watch the world float by. No destination. No To Do list calling. No ‘have to’s’ waiting.

Just being. Here. Now.

This is all there is.

Love.

Joy.

Beauty.

Life.

______________________________

This post is in response to Eugi’s Weekly Prompt: Viewpoint

Your Weekly Prompt Viewpoint – May 13, 2021.

Your Weekly Prompt –Viewpoint – May 13, 2021.

Go where the prompt leads you and publish a post on your own blog that responds to the prompt. It can be any variation of the prompt and/or image. Please keep it family friendly. This needs to be a safe and fun space for all. Prompts close 7 days from the close of my post.


Link your blog to mine with a pingback. To do a pingback: Copy the URL (the HTTPS:// address of my post) and paste it into your post. You may also place a copy of the URL of your post in the comments of the current week’s prompt.

Responses posted prior to the next Thursday prompt release can be included in the Roundup.

Let’s be creative and have fun!

-Eugi

https://amanpan.com/2021/05/13/eugis-weekly-prompt-viewpoint-may-13-2021/ 

Goose in a Flower Pot

I am sitting at my desk writing when I hear a loud thud. Startled I look up and discover two Canada Geese have landed on our deck railing and are climbing into one of the flower pots.

Are they thinking of using one of them as a nest, I wonder? I use them for herbs during the summer and while I had cleared them out last fall, there are lots of fallen leaves and debris still in the dirt.

Earlier, when I’d stepped outside with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle the view was limited. Misty air encompassed the world around me, rising off the river like a ghost slipping through the hallway of a haunted house leaving ethereal wisps of memory of its life gone by in its passing.

Beaumont the Sheepadoodle, oblivious to the mystical nature of the morning, padded along the grass looking for just the right spot to make his presence known.

I stood in awe.

I love foggy mornings.

Especially when they include two Canada Geese landing on our upper deck railing and taking up temporary (I think) residence. At this point, as I type, they have been standing and sitting and navigating the limited space of the pots for about an hour and a half. Which means, it has taken me that long to write this post as I have been intermittently typing and watching and taking photos and waiting and hoping to catch them lifting off.

At one point, I opened the deck door to try to get a better photo. One of them hissed at me so I quickly retreated.

Geese, I have concluded, are masters of mindfulness. They can sit and stand in stillness for long periods of time. They out-wait me.

I’m good with that. Add them to the robins who are busily building multiple nests in the beams above our lower deck and I feel surrounded by an aviary of wild things.

Mystical, magical nature unfolding its wings.

And through it all, Beau ignores the geese and instead, lays at my feet looking out the window directly towards the river. He is keeping watch over the the bird feeder along our back fence. To no avail. The squirrel has once again completed a successful raid of its seed.

The chickadees hop on the ground pecking at the droppings.

The fog has lifted.

The day has begun.

And the geese still out-wait me.

Until finally….. I wake C.C. up to come and help me get the goose to fly away — He took the string of bells hanging from the front doorknob and started ringing them. The goose was undeterred until C.C. stepped out onto the deck…

Fact is, while I think it’s lovely they came to visit, we would like to use our deck this spring and summer. Plus… I really do want to plant my herbs! I know… it’s all about me. 🙂

Update…. The goose came back… I think she likes it here!

David Kanigan! This one’s for you! To read a beautiful, poignant story about a goose and its eggs, visit – Walking. It Ain’t Disney on the Sabbath.

To live and let live.

Learning to Fly art journal 2 page spread – mixed media

It is back. This need to check the data every day. To scan news headlines for what’s happening now in a world that seems hellbent on conflict and destruction.

It was gone for awhile, this need. I wanted it to stay away. Yet here it is again. Unbidden. Uninvited. Unwanted.

So I shift my approach to dealing with its presence. Instead of searching for data and world events, I read articles on post-pandemic life. I seek advice on how to step out into the world, without being riddled with anxiety and guilt, once critical mass on vaccinations is reached and restrictions can be safely lifted.

And then, I dip into one of my social media feeds and feel discouragement rising like the third-wave surge of sickness and death. How will we ever arrive at a post-pandemic world when there are those who believe wearing a mask is a sign of weakness? That following restrictions is sheep-like behaviour destined to transform one into a lemming falling over a cliff?

I turn off my social media feeds. I step back from the edge of the abyss where I feel myself getting pulled into the undertow of a debate that feeds my anxiety and drives me deeper into the data as if somehow, somewhere, some number will help make sense of it all and send this virus packing and stop this ‘us versus them’ debate.

One of my aunts, who lives in southern India, has only been out of her apartment once in over a year. She is tired. Anxious. Frustrated. Worried. When she phones, I can feel her loneliness ringing in my ears with every word she rattles off in her rapid-fire French about how limited her life has become through these months and months of Covid. “But what can I do?” she asks without waiting for an answer from me. “To stay alive I must stay at home but I am so lonely.”

Her two remaining siblings live in France as do the majority of her nieces and nephews. She cannot travel to visit any of us nor can we travel to visit her. “I have a dream to come and visit you one more time in Canada before I go,” she tells me. I tell her I want her dream to come true.

And so, together, we wait for the world to right itself. For vaccination counts to surpass the 75% mark. For sickness and death counts to plummet.

Three weeks ago my youngest daughter and her partner became statistics in the Covid case count. They are two of the over 146.8 million of the reported cases as of yesterday’s count. Fortunately, while they said they’d never felt so sick, they did not succumb to the virus as my cousin Linda did in Paris last spring. They have recovered and stayed on the life side of the ledger. Linda is one of the over 3.1 million who did not.

And here’s the thing. They are not ‘cases’ or a number on an ever-increasing count. They are my loved ones. Just as the other 146.6 million reported cases were someone else’s loved ones.

Which is why I will do whatever it takes to keep my loved ones safe. I will get vaccinated. I will wear a mask. Keep my distance. Stay sequestered with my beloved whose lungs, should he become infected, might not be able to withstand the viruses onslaught. We have only received the first vaccination and while the risk and severity are lowered, they still exist. .

And sure, there are those who would call me a sheep. Who would rally against my precautions in the name of their rights.

I get it.

Masks can be annoying. Keeping away from human contact challenging and depressing. There are still many unknowns. Still too much uncertainty and question marks and confusion over so many unknowns. And the unknown and uncertainty breeds anxiety. It feeds fear.

But certain things remain known. Masks work. Keeping safe physical distance works. Being vaccinated is a better safeguard than not being vaccinated.

The virus will not go away on its own. But if it can’t find enough hosts to keep replicating itself, it will eventually lose its grip and fade out. (I know that’s not a scientific explanation but it makes sense to me.)

Just as doing the right thing, whether I like it or not, makes sense to me too. It’s for the sake of myself, my loved ones and for all of us.

And in my world, doing the right thing is never the wrong thing to do.

Which means, I must do the right thing for myself today. I must lovingly wean myself away from diving deep into statistics, into watching news feeds for world catastrophes and natural and manmade disasters, from scrolling social media feeds urging me to cherish my rights over the right to life of all humanity.

I cherish my right to life. I cherish the right to life of all human beings on this planet.

And so, I breathe and say a prayer for all humanity.

May we find a way to survive this latest surge without tearing our humanity apart.

May we find a way to honour one another, to show tolerance and grace in the face of adversity and differing views.

May we all remember we do not have a guidebook on how to behave during a pandemic. That we are all struggling with the knowns and unknowns. We all feel the fear and anxiety. We all feel the constraints.

And may we all remember, we all want to live in our own way.

May we all live to tell the story of our survival.

Namaste.

_________________________

This post was inspired by an article in the New York Times shared by David Kanigan at Live and Learn. Thanks David!

Lost In Nature

I wrote this poem as part of National Poetry Month as well as in response to this week’s prompt at Eugi’s Causerie to “Go where the prompt leads you and publish a post on your own blog that responds to the prompt. It can be any variation of the prompt and/or image. Please keep it family friendly. Prompts close 7 days from the close of my post.”

To inspire you, I’ve included the prompt “Dance” along with the photo, Eugi’s beautiful haiku and a quote from Maya Angelou below –

dance with harmony
and let cosmos rid chaos
stars sway in moonlight

“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.” – Maya Angelou

Prompts such as this are a fun way to stretch your creative muscles and to discover other bloggers.

I do hope you check out the offerings that are linked over at Eugi’s Causerie — and maybe… just maybe… you’ll be inspired to dance with words and images too! I hope so!

.