The Marathon Runner

My morning tea at Mt Engadine Lodge

When my mother was alive we counted her birthdays by her number of years on earth.

Yesterday, for my sisters and daughters and I, her 99th birthday was marked with the number 2. It was her second birthday since leaving this earth February 25th, 2020. She was 97.

When she was born in 1922 in India, the average life expectancy in her land of birth was around 25 years of age (I should mention that was for the average Indian who did not live as privileged and protected a life as my mother and her siblings and cousins, the majority of whom have all lived beyond the age of 80, Of my mother’s 9 siblings, 3 continue to grace us with their presence).

When my mother arrived in Canada in 1946, life expectancy was around 60 years of age. As in so many things she did, my mother defied the odds.

One day last week, before I headed off to the mountains to play ‘Chef’ at Mt Engadine Lodge, I met a man jogging through the park while I was walking with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle.

He stopped to admire Beau and told me he and his wife were dog-sitting his son’s Labradoodle. “They’re such great dogs,” he said.

I agreed and then asked him about the running shirt he was wearing. It had a photo of a city skyline imprinted on it and the word, in big bold letters, BOSTON, printed beneath the skyline.

“Did you run the Boston Marathon?” I asked.

He smiled, touched the shirt with one hand against his chest and said, proudly, “Fifteen times.”

“Wow!” was about all I could respond.

And then he went on to extoll the virtues of staying fit, of having a hobby, of being engaged with life.

That man’s name is Gerry Miller. “You can connect with me via social media,” he told me as he prepared to start jogging again (he was on kilometer 15 of his 32 km training run). “I’m pretty well known in jogging circles and in the elder community.”

When I got home I looked him up.

Well known? How about renowned.

At 85 years of age, Gerry is the number 1 ranked over 80 marathon runner in the world (an activity he took up at the age of 58 at his son’s urging). He holds 3 gold medals and 2 silver medals in his age category and, at the time of our chat, was preparing to run the London Marathon this October — as long as they let me into the country, he told me with a big smile.

In our brief encounter Gerry reminded me of the value of ‘attitude’.

His was infectious. Exuberant. Invigorating.

So much so, I wanted to drag my running shoes out from the back of the closet and hit the trails again. But not before first googling the question, “Does running with severe arthritis in my feet make it worse?”

Sigh. The fact is, any impact sport will negatively impact arthritis.

Time to formulate Plan B.

Time to augment my daily walking with biking, swimming and weights (gently of course 🙂 ).

My mother was 97 when she left this earth. Never a particularly active woman, arthritis ate away at her body strength and agility with every passing year and though her mind stayed alert, she lived with excruciating pain. She seldom complained about the pain. She did complain about what she perceived as God’s Plan.

Often, in her final years she would ask, “Why doesn’t God take me?”

And I would reply, “Because he’s not ready for you yet.”

“I’m ready,” she would respond.

My mother left this earth ready to go. She’d been preparing for her departure for years.

I don’t know when I will leave this earth (none of us do) but I do know, I want to spend each day with an attitude like Gerry’s. Active. Engaged. Eager to take on new challenges. Excited about the next opportunity. Looking forward to the next kilometer or adventure.

Aging is not a death sentence. It is an integral part of living, as natural as breathing. We can’t avoid getting older. We can avoid getting old — in our thinking, our way of living, our attitude and our outlook.

And to do that, we must keep moving, doing and being excited about life.

When Adventure Calls, Say YES!

Brunch at Mt. Engadine Lodge – Photo source – https://mountengadine.com/gallery/

Yesterday, I spent several hours taking and editing photos of my artwork and loading them onto my ETSY store – DARE BOLDLY ART

I know… shamelessly commercial, but… it’s also real, ’cause here’s the thing –

I don’t create to sell, I create to express my inner desires, hopes, dreams, feelings, thoughts, ideas, concerns, confusion, contemplations.

And then, my walls become too crowded. My cupboards become cluttered with pieces of art gathering dust, growing weary of the darkness.

And so… I enter art shows and fairs in the hope that in selling a few pieces not only do I create space, I also create inspiration for the next creative expression (along with coin to buy the prerequisite supplies – though given that my studio is full of supplies, that buying more supplies probably comes with a douse of over-consumption!)

But, regardless of why I want to sell my art — (I really do need the space) I have finally started to load some of my paintings onto Dare Boldly Art!

Over the next few weeks I’ll be adding more — but today…

Well, today I’m off for three days to be “The Chef” at Mt. Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis Country. They are between chefs – the new second chef starts Sep 6 and the current chef needs a break! I’m happy to oblige! (The photo above is taken from the deck)

Not quite ‘backcountry’ (you can access it via a gravel/dirt road) it is however off the beaten path as well as ‘the grid’.

This is the same lodge I cooked in at just before Christmas 2019 – just before Covid locked the world down and lodges such as Mt. Engadine struggled to make their way through the chaos and closures.

Through good management, committed staff and strong Covid protocols, the Lodge has pulled through.

Colour me excited!

Last time I was there, it was a winter wonderland. This time, I’ll be entering a late summer/ early fall (the temp this morning is 0C – 32F) playground of burbling streams, mountain flowers carpeting meadows in all the colours of the rainbow and birds singing and soaring in the air.

And… bonus! My friend JD is joining me again to keep me company and play the role of ‘sous chef’. I’ve packed along a bucket of paints and ephemera for us to play with, my hiking boots and a stack of cookbooks to devour as I plan out the meals for the next three days.

Before cooking at Mt Engadine the first time, cooking in a backcountry lodge was on my bucket list — now it’s on my ‘repeat often’. It is exhausting but fun. It’s (kind of) scary and challenging. It connects me to my creative core – cooking for 30 people does that – and it reminds me that life is a constant adventure when you say YES! to its many beguiling invitations.

See you all next week!

And PS — please do come check out my store — if only to say Hi!

Happy cooking. Happy living! Happy. Happy.

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.