Monday, October 24, 2016
He was the best cat. A foundling from the road, he came mewing out from under blackberries, he was covered in fleas. We washed him and loved him. He became a great hunter notably bringing in dead things when my husband arrived at the weekend. As if to say, look what I have been doing to protect your womenfolk. He weighed 20lbs at his peak. He was an Olympic level snuggler with the most satisfying purr. He tolerated dogs and rough handling. I last saw him September 1oth before we went away for the weekend. I suspect he became prey to a larger predator as he was out hunting. I felt terribly sad about losing him and wept openly about it when asked how I was feeling about becoming an empty nester. This loss got wrapped up in Pearl moving into the dorm at Western and I wasn't sure what I was saddest about. Perhaps the cat as Pearl was still alive.
Monday, August 8, 2016
Me cycling on the Matsqui Trail portion of the larger Trans Canada Trail.
This summer my husband and I have begun to ride our bikes with more purpose. It all started when I heard a story on CBC radio about the Kettle Valley Railway trail which winds east from Hope BC along the Coquihalla River, into the Okanagan valley. We are not road riders so discovering trails like this old railroad are real finds. One can ride along for miles and never encounter a car or a brutal hill. Because these trails were designed for railways, the grades are gentle and in some cases it's barely noticable that you are gaining elevation.
Our first hurdle was finding a good bike rack. We settled on a tray-style, hitch mounted design that allows for quick loading of bikes that are of different sizes. We chose a BC made product and bought it from Lifecycles in Abbotsford. The store owner Harv, was helpful and encouraging. He's a way more extreme rider than we are but he did not mock us or anything so that was good.
Our first outing was to the famed Othello Tunnels near Hope BC. The drive there takes about 90 minutes and the ride itself was only 8km return, so as my husband pointed out, the ratio of drive time to biking time was a bit out of whack. The trip to Hope and the relatively short ride were still a lot of fun and we felt our maiden voyage was a success. The path through the woods above the steep canyon of the Coquihalla River was like a dream ride from childhood.
This weekend we rode the Matsqui Trail near our place in Abbotsford. It was a much better drive to ride ratio. 15 minutes there and 2 hours riding. We rode about 14km with little stops along the way to check out the river and pick a few blackberries to eat. The trail sits atop the dyke that protects farmland from the river. The views are beautiful on both sides. The Mission Abby bell tower is visible from the Page Road trailhead, we didn't hear the chimes, maybe next time. The weather was quite gray but still suitable for riding. We left the dog at home and enjoyed racing eachother on the way back. We're both a bit competitive.
View through Othello Tunnels on the Kettle Valley Railway also part of the Trans Canada Trail.
Dramatic views of the Coquihalla River canyon from the Kettle Valley Railway along the Trans Canada Trail.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
I'm a graphic designer, in the business for 30 years. I am interested in
technology and fashion and art. I would genuinely like to know about the
reality of your business. I am also a tall person with huge feet which is why
I am drawn to custom made shoes. I sew a lot, and knit. I am a
general maker of things. My grandfather had a shoe store in Scotland and
did all his own repairs for his clients, so maybe shoe making is in my DNA.
Strangely, as a woman in our culture with super large feet I have not been
able to participate in the shoe fetish that my kind seem to share. I have
begun making clothes as a political statement.
Thank you for responding to my query.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
I have been doing my work. I have been practicing daily those things which I know help me to do my daily work. I have been thinking about art making and the natural world which seems to be what is emerging as the focus of my expression. Stick piles and light.
I have been quiet, I have listened with my whole mind. I watch what turns my head, what causes me to pause. The above piece appeared on the western wall of my bedroom one morning on my way out of the shower. Light streams through moving trees, glass and screen.
Video was shot on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
I barely know how to speak about this piece except to say when I saw it, I said yes. It feels like a step in an interesting direction to me.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
This post has taken all together too long to write. It's an apt metaphor though, everything takes longer than I think it will.
I didn't read many books about parenting, just the usual early stuff about habits of smaller children. What to Expect..., Penelope Leach and etc. Mostly I read them to calm my nervous ex-husband. I went mostly on instinct and logic and knowledge of my small subject. Nowadays I read bits and pieces online when specific issues arise with my teen. Back in the day when my kid was a baby and toddler I mostly watched people who had kids and paid attention to how they were with them and what the kids were like. I have been lucky, I have some really good parent examples around me, I learned much and I am still learning today as my friends kids turn the corner into fully individuated adulthood. My understanding of parenting has grown and evolved as I have gone along. I had no idea what an intense job it would be to raise the best child I could with the tools I had.
Parenting takes balance. I am pragmatic with my choices where my parenting is concerned. In the beginning I needed to be able to work while still caring for my kid in a positive way. I altered how I approached work. I learned to conceptualize solutions during lazy afternoons following a toddler around, saving them up to work on later while she slept. I stopped traveling. I stayed at home and made myself available to my child no matter what. I created this life we have so that she would feel safe and respected, and able to thrive. It wasn't all easy despite my practical approach but it mostly was and now I can see how far we have come.
I have held this child so tightly, knowing that the whole exercise of parenting is about letting go in a million different ways. Letting go of time, expectation, the deep seated crap we have carried from our own misshapen childhoods. We weren't in a good place last fall when her world was shattered by the loss of her friend from suicide. It was a tough blow and we've had to work hard to learn to process it. I returned to my fallback position of vigilance for awhile while I grieved the violent loss of her innocence. 5 months on I feel like we are through the worst of it, I hope we are through the worst of it. On top of all that though is just the normal discomfort associated with development. The letting go is difficult, it's sticky, and at times it's just plain ugly. Little gestures, harsh words, cutting looks. It's the push-me-pull-you of detachment. Normal healthy detachment. It will strip you bare at times, waking your own sleeping adolescent self. We rise and fall but hang together.
She asked me the other day, in a text, if I was an existentialist. I was touched somehow. I said yes and asked her if she was one too. She said yes, and I immediately felt bad about it. We have crossed a threshold in understanding. Calvin's death opened up the possibility that the unspeakable could happen for no reason. There is no sugar coating this. As the parent I can only model what I think is the correct behavior or response. We honor that we are having a difficult time while still moving forward. There will always be some crisis that stirs up our feelings, sometimes small, occasionally catastrophic. There are moments in time that we need resilience to help us through. I have labored to give her the tools needed to weather these times.
Where I am, I don't know, I'll never know, in the silence you don't know,
you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on.
My kid got into the her chosen school and won a scholarship to boot. When I am not trying to impart to her every piece of important (in my opinion) information, I feel she needs to know about the world, I am amazed by her. She's fantastic, a wonderful being and I like to marvel at the person she is becoming. Parenting has been and continues to be the most exciting and fulfilling activities of my life.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Last year, at the end of a hot dry summer there was a wind storm
we didn't know it was coming, it had been so dry and the forecast was for a rain event
instead we got high winds and all the trees still laden with their leaves
and brittle from the long hot summer, were sails and got hooked and torn
and spiraled and fell when that wind came. We got stuck in it, going for a walk at the last minute,
not realizing how strong it was and how the trees were easy victims, unprepared as they were.
A big leaf maple came down near my piles and I have felt unable to begin clearing away the debris
even though I know the piles will grow as a result
The last post on this topic.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
I was only a housewife with a dream to bring laughter to the sad eyes of my people and trusting the anchor we live by to complete the woven tale we are still telling. Quoted from the back cover of her recent book, We Are the Dreamers.
From Lnu and Indians we're called
Ragweed Press (1991)
© Rita Joe, 1991 Mi'kmaq Poet
Ragweed Press (1991)
© Rita Joe, 1991 Mi'kmaq Poet
I am sad, my culture you do not understand.
I am just an Indian to you now
You wrinkle your brow.
Today you greet me with bagpipes
Today you sing your songs to me
Today we shake hands and see
How we keep good company.
Today I will tell stories
Today I play the drum and dance
Today I will say what is on my mind
For being friends is our goal.
Today I will show I am just like you
Today I will show what is true
Today I will show we can be friends
Together we agree.
Today I will tell about my race
Today I will share what is mine
Today I will give you my heart
This is all we own.
Today I show.
Hello everybody, my name is Rita Joe.
Rita (Bernard) Joe was born in Whycocomagh, Cape Breton Island, on March 15, 1932. At the young age of ten she was orphaned and shortly after was sent to the Indian Residential School, located in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. She later moved to Eskasoni where she met her husband, Frank Joe; they married in 1954. They lived all of their lives in Eskasoni, raising a family of 10 children.
In the 1960s, Rita first began to write poetry, primarily as a mechanism in which to challenge existing negative stereotypes regarding aboriginal people. She wrote about the manner in which the Mi'kmaq viewed the world, about Mi'kmaw traditions, culture and especially about the beauty of the Mi'kmaw language. She believed that her poetry demonstrated a gentle persuasion in changing people's negatives views of aboriginal people.
Rita's poetry became celebrated nationally and through her lifetime she went on to publish seven books. She became known as the Poet Laureate of the Mi'kmaq people for her accomplished writings and also received many awards, including the Order of Canada in 1990 and a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in 1997. She also was known for her two song recordings, The Oka Song, and Drumbeat is the Heartbeat of the Nation.
Rita Joe died March 20, 2007 at the age of 75 after a long struggle with Parkinson's disease.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
The east wall of my living room. My mothers diplomas among other things.
January again. The beginning of a new year. As usual I am reflecting. I spend a lot of my time thinking about my creative practice. I walk and look up at the trees and I take notice of what is happening in the sky. I feel small and glad. To be alive. I think being an artist is maybe the same thing as what it means to be a person. You just keeping getting up each day and making an effort. Art is just a metaphor for life, we seek it, that feeling of understanding, of realization, of contentment. It is natural to want to make order out of chaos. Housekeeping is part of it. Without concern for form, with no product in mind. Laying hands on natural things. Domestic earth arts. Lately my making has been around sewing and cooking and building up the most beautiful compost pile. I consider my lifestyle as striving toward piousness. Without god obviously. My job is to observe and reflect, and yes, to serve the planet in some way. We are curious to learn about the natural world. We create a life that is artful in it's approach. We are wild, and lets face it. We want to do what we want to do. That cannot be sold. To create nothing except that which can be broken down and absorbed back into the earth. Clothing, books, piles of sticks. Can the practice be the art. The beginning of the year. I am reflective. In the midst of everything. Bowie is dead.