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Ripple

In her book, Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer writes, “In a way, I was raised by strawberries, fields of them.” She goes on to explain how wild strawberries gave her a sense of the world, and her place in it. She writes evocatively about picking and eating and celebrating with wild strawberries, and also about what the strawberries taught her.

We asked this question in the group of friends with whom I am reading and discussing Braiding Sweetgrass – what about the place you grew up in gave you your sense of the world and your place in it? It is a fine question and we answered with the first thing that came to our mind. It is hard question to answer, and as my first answer (birch trees) did not satisfy me, I continue to think about it.

I am at Christie Lake, one of the places I loved dearly as I was growing up. I return once a year if I can. Each time, I see aspects of the natural world here as if for the first time, or I remember something about the natural world that I thought I had long ago forgotten.

I love to get up early and come to the beach for a swim – usually before sunlight has fully crept into and transformed our bay.

I could watch the play of light and shadow and wind on the water, the sand beneath the water, the reflections from the nearby trees and rocky shoreline for hours. I suspect that I spent many a dreamy moment as a child doing just that. In this dappled world, everything is shifting and changing every moment…it is all glimmers, possibilities, dance. The felt sense I get here belongs to this particular place, and no other place that I can think of.

I can’t come close to capturing this feeling with my Smartphone – which wants to focus in on one aspect of the scene in front of me and give it prominence. As soon as I step into the water to try to take a picture, I create ripples, changing the picture. Even if I could capture some sense of it visually, I would be missing the smell of the wind off the lake and decaying seaweed, the feel of wet sand under my toes, the songs of the birds, the waves lapping, the distant drone of a boat engine, the CheCheChee of the osprey, the feel of this air on my skin, the sound that this wind makes in these trees at this moment. I would be missing the constant movement and interplay of light, shadow, reflection.

The play of light and shadow and glimmer on the water did not raise me, but surely, it played a part in the raising of me, in giving me a sense of the world. and how I see and experience it.

Befriending Wildflowers (the noisier version)

It was a very hot and humid day when we set out to explore the wildflowers of Pheasant Creek Coulee, with small sketchbooks in hand.  Each sketchbook had several line drawings of flowers we hoped to find, with a space to name it ourselves, and a space for the common name. I had anticipated moving quickly across the pasture to the hills below but this gaggle of 5 girls and 2 moms stopped to look at  and appreciate every wildflower – they did not miss one – and gave each some very fun names. We collected a few to paint later and proceeded to a very steep hill full of western wild bergamots and a scary climb down  (for some!) that ended with a slide several feet down to the road!!

We returned to Kerry Farm a little overheated, but cooled down with a delicious potluck lunch. We found some shade to really look closely at our wildflowers and experiment with watercolour painting. Along the way, we visited Grandmother Willow (for a little tree climbing and some feather collecting) and said hi to the horses. We ended the day with some flower yoga and gymnastics as you can see.

This is a companion piece to Befriending Wildflowers (the Quiet Version)

Befriending Wildflowers (the quiet version)

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” Georgia O’Keefe

“Befriending Wildflowers” was a two day art retreat which gave us time to “really see a flower” and to befriend some of the  wildflowers who live on the slopes of the Qu’Appelle Valley. By spending time with the wildflowers on the hills, by painting and drawing the flowers that called to us, we came to know a few flowers more intimately.

We were so fortunate to be able to hold this retreat at the Qu’Appelle House of Prayer  which is

Photo by Tania Wolk

nestled in the hills above Echo Lake. We painted under the shade of trees during the hot days, and hiked through woodland trails up to the top of the hills where grasses and flowers bloomed profusely in the early mornings and evenings. We were so warmly welcomed and cared for by Glenn, Margaret, Kathy and Tim.  Silence and quiet are encouraged and allow us to connect with nature more deeply than usual. For those who wished, Eucharist and “silent sitting” enriched our experience. The Qu’Appelle House of Prayer is a sacred place.

some of our “cat flowers”…instructor Kami Jo second from right

While the land (and the flowers) were our greatest teacher(s), we also learned so much from each other. Our youngest participant, Kami Jo, led a session on creating cat flowers which was fantastic. Tania helped us draw flowers in their simplest shapes, getting to the essence of the flower, and helping us see flowers in fresh ways. We painted with dominant hand, non-dominant hand, standing, sitting, upside down,  and we sometimes timed ourselves to get the feel of a flower rather than the details. We did flower yoga, and played flower charades, and  did breathing exercises. We laughed frequently. We moved  very slowly (to Kami Jo’s frustration). We called our unhurried pace “wildflower time”. We learned how painting on the ground in a meadow was a completely different experience from painting a vase of flowers.

Wildflower Joy! Photo by Tania Wolk

Photo by Elizabeth Gavin

Photo: Tania Wolk

Speaking for myself, It was pure joy to be with others who take notice and delight in wildflowers. Being with others  who are totally absorbed  in trying to get the feel of a particular flower on paper is very settling, calming and joyful. I saw wildflowers in new ways, and sometimes through the eyes of others, I saw familiar wildflowers in completely unfamiliar ways. I treasure my friendships with wildflowers – through the presence and teachings of my companions, my friendships continue to grow and thrive.

Once upon another PLAYshop, this one focusing on trees, hypnotizing chickens became the most fun thing to do. During our Befriending Flowers time, the most fun thing for Kami Jo was having the chance to drive Margaret in the golf cart! You have to scroll to the bottom for photos of that one.

I feel gratitude for the sacred place that is the Qu’Appelle House of Prayer, for the people that care for it, and for us; for the beautiful hills, grasses and wildflowers; and for each of those who took part so wholeheartedly!! Thank you.

Diane getting to know gaillardia

Gaillardia seed head, Diane

Gaillardia sun and shadows, Liz

Gaillardia, photo by Tania Wolk

Gaillardia Seed Heads by Tania

Purple Prairie clover, first impressions, Liz

Purple Prairie Clover, Photo by Tania Wolk

Cat flowers, Kami Jo

Purple Prairie Clover, Tania

Trying with marker, Kami Jo

Wild Rose, early morning meditation, Diane

Wild Rose, early morning meditation, Tania

Wild Rose, after the petals fall and before the rose hip forms. Beauty in every stage. Tania.

Liz’s flowers…gaillardia, bergamot, wild rose

Cat Flower, Liz

Wild Bergamot (using Tania’s shape method), Sue

Wild Bergamot makes us go wild and free, Diane

And the wind blew, and the bergamot got wilder!  Whoohee!!

Dancing in the Meadow, Sue

Kami Jo’s flowers, photo by Tania Wolk

Who painted the fastest of us all? (Kami Jo)

Early morning painting in the meadow

Totally absorbed as we “befriend a wildflower”

Mai Jo befriending Margaret, Margaret befriending Kami Jo. Margaret is one of the co-directors of the Qu’Appelle House of Prayer, along with Glenn Zimmer. Photo by Tania Wolk.

Saving the best for last!! Finally we are speeding up, says Kami Jo. Photo by Tania Wolk.

through the looking glass, Northern Bedstraw, photo by Tania Wolk

 

Shane’s Hands

The photo above shows my husband Shane’s hands, and behind his hands, the new view that he wakes up to every morning. Shane is pursuing his dream of spending more time in the Yukon, and has taken a 6 month massage therapy stint to make this happen. He has been here 10 weeks, the longest period of time he has ever been away from his home at Kerry Farm in Saskatchewan. It is a rare person who who can say they still live in the house where they began their life!

When I first met Shane he was a grain farmer. He is a strong person, and certainly his hands told a tale of hard work and strength. Hands that worked with the earth, with seeds, with animals, with machines and engines…hands that often held the smell of diesel. A “get her done” mentality pervaded, so often he kept working even when his hands were tired, or chapped, or hurt, or sore.

His hands aren’t only strong, they are also deft. In his recent absence from our farm, we have had lots of small (and not so small) things go wrong, things that his hands know exactly how to fix, that our hands do not. Recently, none of us could remove a long  pipe attached to a float valve in our horse watering bowl, not only because we were not strong enough, but also because we did not know the precise feel of it.

When Shane began to think about  training to be a registered massage therapist, an old friend looked at him wryly and said, “Well, you better do something about those hands.” They had cuts and nicks, torn nails and cuticles. They were like rough sandpaper. They were “farmer’s hands”.

Going back to school at age 47 was no small feat. Making the transition from grain farmer to massage therapist is not a usual trajectory in career transitions. Shane remembers the first week, when the instructor gathered all of the (mostly female) students around a large garbage can to trim their nails. “If only the guys at the grain elevator could see me now!” he thought to himself.  The “rough sandpaper” aspect of Shane’s hands could be softened with cream on the hands, protected by gloves at night or while driving. Ironically, the final softening of his hands comes when he buffs his hands with fine sandpaper.

Strength and the ability to endure are definitely assets as a massage therapist. Shane has those qualities in spades.  But massage therapists also need their hands to “listen”, to hear the stories a body is telling, to be sensitive to the whole person they are massaging. As Raye Hendrickson, a Regina massage therapist writes, “In my massage practice, I consider my hands as another set of ears – they listen to people’s bodies and know, often before before my head does, what needs special attention.”  Shane became aware that some of his fellow students have the natural gift of “listening hands” that Raye describes. While he does not count himself among those with this natural talent, he is learning and he is listening and becoming more closely attuned with the subtle messages conveyed through our bodies.

Shifting how he works with his hands has opened up new worlds for Shane. As a grain farmer, he didn’t often listen to his hands if they were freezing or hurting because the priority was a job to be done. He continues to learn to listen to his own hands and to listen to the other signals his body is giving. He is less likely to push through. He has observed that some people who come for a therapeutic massage have pushed their bodies and not really listened to them until the pain is quite severe. 

As a massage therapist, he has been open to other healing modalities including reiki, Body Talk and healing touch.

Working with his hands as a massage therapist has opened up a special relationship with those who come to see him. He understands the power of touch and the power of presence in new ways. When his parents were aging and feeling various aches and pains, he was able  to offer them comfort and solace through the healing power of touch and massage. His parents most certainly soothed him with loving touch as an infant. The circle completes itself as he offers them comfort and love in their final years using his hands.

And, who knows? Would he have felt the pull of the Yukon if he had continued as grain farmer? Perhaps. Massage therapy has opened many new worlds for Shane. Using his hands as a massage therapist has provided him with a portable way of making of making a living and making a difference as he explores new places.

Shane enjoying Takhini Hot Springs on a frigid Yukon day, hands at rest!

This post has been written in the Yukon as I prepare for an upcoming PLAYshop called Hands On! Celebrating our Hands which will be held in Regina Sat. Feb. 10th, 2018 and in Fort Qu’Appelle Sat. Feb. 24th, 2018. Other posts about hands are Hand – Word Play and Gestures

Gestures

Permission to use this image “Give me your hand” granted by Shell Rummel ©Michelle Rummel/ Shell Artistree LLC. Other work by Shell Rummel can be seen at  www.shellrummel.com . 

 

“Of course! The path to heaven

doesn’t lie down in flat miles

It’s in the imagination

with which you perceive this world

and the gestures

with which you honour it”

–  an excerpt from “The Swan” by Mary Oliver from New and Selected Poems, Volume 1, Beacon Press 2005

How does your imagination perceive this world? What are the gestures with which you honour this beautiful place? These are some of the questions we will consider at Hands On! Celebrating our Hands

Other posts considering hands are Hand – Word Play about how we use the word hand and  Shane’s Hands  about my husband Shane’s hands.

With thanks to the imaginations and  expressions above of Shell Rummel and Mary Oliver.

 

Hand – Word Play

Hand (noun)
Old English hond, hand “the human hand;” also “side, part, direction” (in defining position, to either right or left); also “power, control, possession” (on the notion of the hand’s grip or hold), from Proto-Germanic *handuz (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch, German hand, Old Norse hönd, Gothic handus), which is of uncertain origin

hand (verb.)c. 1400, “take charge of, seize,” from hand (n.). Earlier verbs were hend (Old English genehdan), handle. Meaning “to pass (something to someone)” is from 1640s. To hand it to (someone)“acknowledge someone’s ability or superiority” is slang from 1906, the it perhaps meant to suggest a trophy cup, award, etc. Related: Handedhanding.

Are you handy?

Are you a handful?

(I bet you’re HANDsome!)

Hands on. Hands off. HANDS UP! All hands on deck. Hands across the ocean. I want to hold your hand. Put your hand in the hand of the….I’ve got to hand it to you…on the one hand, on the other hand….first-hand, second hand. Living from hand-to-mouth, handmade. Let us walk hand in hand. Hand over hand. Sleight of hand.

Out of hand. In hand. At hand.

In good hands.

An old hand.

My hands are full. My hands are tied.

firm handshake. golden hand shake. limp handshake

high five!

handiwork

handicap

handyperson, handywoman, handyman

Clocks: the minute hand, the second hand, the hour hand

How many hands high is that horse?

Measurement: a handbreadth

A handle is held by a hand.

At hand.

By hand.

Off hand.

To have on hand.

Off one’s hands.

Underhanded.

Peekaboo.

Lay hands on someone.

Handhold

I wash my hands of this!

Handkerchief

Handicuff (put up yer dukes!)

You are a handful!

Expressions

To bite the hand that feeds you.

To know something firsthand.

I head that secondhand.

To force someone’s hands.

To gain the upper hand.

To get your hands dirty.

To give a hand.

To lend a hand. (Can someone borrow a hand? Would you ever get it back?)

To hand something down. A hand-me-down.

To give a hand up.

To hand something to someone on a platter.

To win hands down.

To be hands off. Or hands on.

To have blood on one’s hands.

To act with a heavy hand.

When the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

I know it like the back of my hand. (How well do you know the back of your hand?)

What we do with our hands

gesture, touch, clap, wring, hand-writing, stir, soothe, touch, caress, drive, drink, eat, paint, pat, tap, sign, stroke, slap (if we’re Batman), wash, handshake, scratch, reach, grab, carry, blow kisses, wave, hold….

If you are curious, check out these recent blog posts:  Shane’s Hands  about my husband Shane’s hands or Gestures which asks a question (or rather poet Mary Oliver poses a question)

 

(Source: https://www.etymonline.com/word/hand. I checked our dictionary at home which has several pages of words deriving from the root word “hand”)

Paper (S)mash eh? (Papier Mache Art Camp)

As some of you know, I have needed to stay off my right leg for some of the summer. I wasn’t quite sure how a papier mache overnight PLAYshop was going to go.

It went SMASHINGLY!

And for that, I have to thank Lilly, Kate, Kami Jo and Tania. I learned that it is possible to hold a PLAYshop while lying on the couch with your leg up most of time. I just ordered everyone around. When I stood up, they said, “sit DOWN.” And, I did!

Here are some photos from our fun time together – my thank you’s are at the end!

Lilly, pizza chef extraordinaire

Beginning to create our forms with balloons, gooey flour and water and newspaper

Let them dry…Off to the coulee! (Photo by Lilly)

Photo by Lilly

Blazing Star, Photo by Lilly

Pheasant Creek, Photo by Tania

at Grandfather rock, photo by Tania

Who is that under the umbrella? Why, it is Kate who is certain it will rain. It did not rain. But, there are bears and umbrellas are excellent bear protection.

The person with the wrinkles is driving the car

Hanging our forms out to dry (shouldn’t have got so enthusiastic with that glue but felt so good on our hands!!)

Kate hypnotizing a chicken

Tania bonding with a chicken

Supper. Who needs vegetables when you can have flowers and chocolate cake?

Stage 2, the balloon on the left will become a bowl and Kate with her collage

Day 2, Good Morning! (We did sleep in tents in between Day 1 and Day 2)

 

Art before breakfast (but not before coffee for the two adults)

Under the shade of Grandmother Willow, painting…letting the papier mache dry

Such smiles!

Our gallery or some of the pieces we did

Quiet time with Archie on the Sunshine Couch before finishing papier mache

Mama T and her bowl

Kate, amazing bangle maker

What better place to be than a farm???

We may look happy, but we are kaput, exhausted, done, finito…and happy!! As Lilly’s dad says, “All that arting wears a girl out.”

Thank you to Lilly for arriving first, rolling out pizza dough, building the fire, decorating the cake, serving me breakfast in bed, finishing your blue bunny (even though you were finished!)

Thank you to Kate for protecting us from bears (and rain), going to the coulee even though you hated it, enduring spiders, making me such beautiful bangles, cuddling with me.

Thank you to Kami Jo for building that fire, decorating that cake, delivering breakfast in bed, doing chores with a smile, driving the car (just kidding!!)and carrying stuff.

Thank you to Jessie, Marina and Handsome Stranger for giving Kate and Kami Jo a horse ride.Thank you to Shane for acting as if all this is just part of a normal day.

Thanks to the Nobles for letting us enjoy their land.

Thank you to Tania for being an adult and making the coffee (and so much more!) But, especially for being an adult.

Art Buddies

 

When I was about 10, an uncle who was a  “Sunday artist” spent an afternoon  showing me how to draw cups and bowls. He taught me about volume and perspective, taught me how to shade with my pencil, and encouraged me to draw  with a “light touch.” He was patient and seemed to enjoy himself. I soaked up the attention. My aunts and uncles loved us all, but it was very rare for one of them to pay particular attention to one of us cousins. They were in their world and we were in ours. I now suspect that this uncle wasn’t so comfortable in the adult world, so for an afternoon, he crossed over.

When I was imagining “Explorations in Art” I wanted the young people who came to experience that kind of attention.  I have often worked with large groups of children and youth. Let the wild ruckus begin! Sometimes big group art experiences are more about handling materials and general chaos and completing a project  than learning about art.

My first ever Explorations in Art student was Lanelle. For the past two years Lanelle has come once a month, sometimes more and occasionally, less. Among her consuming passions are dragons, so we have learned a lot about art by exploring dragons. But we have also explored tractors, wildflowers, pencils, faces, cubes, cylinders, dogs, ski hills. Together with others we have explored art in the city, both in galleries but also in back alleys, restaurants and tattoo parlours. We have visited the horses, skated on the ice rink, climbed the hills and visited Grandmother Willow in all seasons. We play weird games in the car.  Lanelle has brought along her sister, her mom, her cousins and once, eight of her friends! We have favourite snacks – hot chocolate, ginger cookies, pizza. I have been promising her mango smoothies. She has promised me a fiddle concert under the willow tree.

One of the guiding principles of “Explorations in Art” is “Teaching is a two way path”. Nothing could be truer. I have a wonderful group of students and I do not doubt for a moment that they are among the very best  teachers I have ever had. They inspire me to see the world in new ways. Their interests take me in new directions. They shake me up.

While the one-on-one approach of “Explorations in Art” allows me to offer a student my full attention and tailor our time together according to their various interests, abilities and working rhythms, it also offers an unintended benefit – the very best art companions. It is about relationship as much as it is about art.

As such, the way Lanelle and I  create art together has changed. This summer we spent many happy hours creating in the same room…just enjoying the calm, creative, entirely enjoyable, and beautiful world we were inhabiting together. Lanelle is in charge of music – sometime roots music, sometimes calming music and sometimes dance music – for that, we have Marvin Gaye. Sometimes we have to shake it up and dance or do calisthenics. Sometimes we listen to a book. We have the same quirky (and sometimes dark) sense of humour. Sometimes Lanelle is absolutely quiet. She can be incredibly focussed. Sometimes she talks my ear off.

During the spring, we were having a wonderful talk and I had an epiphany. Lanelle is a kindred spirit. Friends for life, I am sure.  Renegades. Art buddies. So, this blog is for you Lanelle – with a thank you from the bottom of my heart. It’s also for my long ago (late) uncle who took the time. Another thank you.

(Question for Lanelle: How would you paint the bottom of a heart? Have you ever seen a person’s ear fall off because the other person was talking a lot?)

Lanelle’s most recent project, summer of 2017

Close up

We both love working on the floor. Keeps us down to earth (sort of).

Lanelle’s piece inspired this “Sprites Dancing in Full Moon” .We both love this lovely blue paper and I was inspired by the simple clean lines in Lanelle’s piece.

Lanelle’s first dragon with piles of gold coins plus some wonderful food, fall 2015

Sketching around the farmyard, spring 2016

Spring 2016

Collecting ticks and painting wildflowers, Spring 2016

Painting Pots PLAYshop, Spring 2016

Dominique and Lanelle, Art in the City, Summer 2016

Art in the City, Lanelle’s 7 minute sketch, summer 2016

Lanelle’s surprise Christmas gift for her family. A watercolour (framed by Lanelle) of her family skiing at Mission Ridge, fall 2016

Paper Playshop, Fall 2016

Lanelle’s friends, winter 2017

Self- Portrait #1

Watercolour, Winter 2017

Neve’s mermaid (Lanelle’s little sister) and Lanelle at work

 

 

Remembering Our Book Fairy

Flying from East to West is our Book Fairy, but the truth is, she really didn’t look quite like this. And the other truth is, she began by travelling from West to East.

Our Book Fairy’s real name was Barbara. She was born in Kelliher, Saskatchewan in 1919. She gradually began to move East, beginning with University of Manitoba in Winnipeg where she trained as an architect, and eventually settling in Manotick, Ontario where she designed her family’s beautiful home and practiced architecture. I had the great fortune to grow up a few houses down the river from her. Once grown, I travelled from East to West where I eventually married and raised a family just 80 kms away from her birth place in Kelliher. For over two decades, our Book Fairy and her husband Doug sent parcels of books to our four daughters from East to West three times a year – every Hallowe’en, Easter and Christmas. Sometimes they even came to visit. Almost every second year, we packed into the family van, heading in the opposite direction with tents and sleeping bags, books and swimsuits, and great excitement to visit the Book Fairies. The collage above remembers Barbara the Book Fairy, who died this past February after 97 rich and marvellous years, many in the lovely home she designed. Here are some additional memories.

Barbara the Book Fairy was not a lone operator. Her husband, Douglas, is pictured flying a small plane on the right, in honour of his time as a navigator in WW2. He did not like to be called a “Book Fairy” but he was fully involved in sharing a love for books with our daughters. Our various thank you letters were addressed to “the Book Fairies,” “the Book Fairy and Hus(band),” and “the Book Fairy and Navigator.” Just below the plane is a parcel reminiscent of the many, many parcels we received over the years.

Look below the flying frog and see the four girls eagerly awaiting the parcel of books falling from the sky. There was such tremendous excitement in our home when a parcel from the Book Fairies arrived. It was an “Occasion.”  I used this opportunity to bribe my children – the Book Fairy’s parcel could not be opened until the living room was perfectly clean. Everybody had to be present. In each parcel there were specially picked books ( books about Egypt or Russia, books by favourite authors, books that were a complete surprise, books from their personal collection), an individual card for each girl, and candies or chocolates as befit the season.

 

Visiting them at their home in Manotick was another wonderful treat. Their home was filled  with beautiful objects and art, including a large statue of the Buddha in their basement. We enjoyed a tour of Mr. Humphrey’s garden followed by tea or ginger ale. Lunch out at a restaurant followed by shopping at Chapters was greatly anticipated by our daughters. On one such expedition, one of my children timidly asked if it was possible to have dessert. I was appalled at such cheek and immediately said no, but Mr. Humphreys interjected. “Absolutely! You can have any dessert on the menu.” (Note the large piece of cake with a cherry on top in the collage.) Shopping at Chapters was equally wonderful – the girls could select any book in the store. Imagine such a treat!

In later years, our lunches took place at Miller’s Oven in Manotick with mile high lemon meringue pie, and our book shopping happened at a used bookstore run by Watson’s Mill – both places very dear to our Book Fairy and her husband.

Seven years ago, when the Book Fairy and her husband turned 90, they travelled to Saskatchewan to attend Kelliher’s 100th birthday. I have many memories of that trip – amongst them, watching an endless parade of farm tractors and other vehicles on a day that was so hot “you could fry an egg on the sidewalk” – the only non-mechanical object in the parade was a Canada Post mailbox with two legs. The Book Fairies endured the parade and the heat with their usual grace and wry humour.

Barb and Doug had a special place in our home as Book Fairies, they were like parents and grandparents to many others as well. A love of books was central in our friendship, but they gave us much much more than books and chocolates and lunches out. They offered their genuine and keen interest in each girl. They offered glimpses into worlds far beyond the Saskatchewan prairies. They also loved and celebrated our farm world. They encouraged Shane and I as parents. They laughed at their foibles as they got older. They loved telling stories on themselves. They took such tremendous pleasure and delight in each other. Their many talents and accomplishments were only exceeded by their modesty. They made each of us feel special and interesting. They not only gave us a lifelong love of books and quest for knowledge, they brought magic and possibility and enchantment to our lives.

It is almost impossible to write about Barbara the Book Fairy without including the Book Fairy’s Husband because they were such a unit. The Book Fairy’s Husband, Doug, is still very much alive, and we will continue to share stories with him as well as enjoy his company.

To learn more about Barbara Humphrey’s contribution to architecture and heritage conservation in Canada, please read this tribute.

 

 

 

Rice Paper Birds

Sometimes a new piece of paper can suggest a new direction, or a new way of seeing things. Such is the case with a gift of the most delicate pale blue translucent paper my daughter Laurel brought me from Toronto. For a while I just admired it hanging in the window with other strips of translucent paper being hung over it for effect. Eventually, two new pieces took shape.

I love flocks of rice paper birds. Playing with such sheer papers encouraged me to focus more on the abstract shapes of birds and the spaces between them (and less on the individual birds).

The birds don’t alter space.
They reveal it. The sky
never fills with any
leftover flying. They leave
nothing to trace. It is our own
astonishment collects
in chill air. Be glad

(Li-Young Lee ‘Praise Them’)