Thursday, 10 August 2017

She's On Her Way

She's turned her back on her own funeral and the mourners gathered behind her.
Her bags are packed and she's on her way.
(painting sold)

We spent about 40 years at odds with each other.

She had a way of saying exactly what she was thinking which probably made her the effective high school teacher that she was, but not so successful at some social/family interaction which is often based on subtleties.

Being subtle wasn't her strong suit. 

So when she first got sick I went to see her more out of a sense of duty than anything else.

She was very upset - the only time I saw her like that.  The next time I went she was better,  her husband was back  and she was settled into a routine.  At the time they were thinking there was a hospital in Hamilton that could help her.

I went to see her every few weeks and we talked of so many things, her grandchildren, my recovery from cancer,  our younger years, how she so enjoyed it when her brother took her outside to feel the sun on her face, how delicious a meal from McDonald's tasted after hospital food when her husband brought it in. We laughed about Donald Trump - she was very interested in everything. 

Unfortunately every time I visited another door was closing for her. Hamilton couldn't help her, stem cell research was not possible, etc. 

But never once did she exhibit any signs of distress or depression.  When I told her I thought she was a hero the way she was handling everything she struggled to turn her head looked right at me and said, "Francie, I'm no hero."

But she was.

And she possessed an inner strength that I can only marvel at.  

She died the way and at the time she chose to die.

I will miss her.

Monday, 31 July 2017

A Good Summer

The Choir, mixed media, 36" x 36"

A friend texted me this morning and asked if I am having a good summer.

I didn't know what to say.

At around age 70 it might be better to ask , "Has your grief been contained this summer?

In spite of lost family, friends, relationships and places have you been able to laugh this summer? Enjoy a quiet moment in the sun, an ice cream come, a good book?"

Yesterday I found out that a family member has chosen doctor assisted suicide which will happen soon. 

We weren't close.  In fact for almost 50 years she has been my best enemy.  She infuriated me and though normally a placid person more prone to silent seething than outright confrontation I can't remember a conversation I had with her that lasted more than 20 minutes before I was shouting at her.

But in the last few months on my occasional visits as I sat by her hospital bedside we became friends.

So am I having a good summer?

Well, right now I am having trouble containing my grief but I can still laugh, still enjoy an ice cream cone, a good book and a quiet moment in the sun

so yes I'm having a good summer. 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Are You There, God? It's Me, Francie

Are You There, God?
mixed media on canvas
36" x 36"

I don't actually think that God is my personal friend.

I suspect that God is a wild loving Force to which we return - but that is about it.

I do think it is possible that the God Force can be tapped if enough people concentrate on an issue

but it seems to me that getting angry because God 'let' something bad happen is simplistic.

Shit happens.

I had such a hard time moving into the making of abstract art.

I had to literally cut apart some of my pictures and glue them back in the wrong places.  The results were terrible but the act of doing it was a bit of a mental laxative - it seemed to tell my unconscious that I was ready to let go of a lot of crap, (pun intended).

But it is a comfortable place now and this large piece is about learning to use oil paint.

(And maybe there is a little spiritual arrogance thrown in and certainly a reference to the children's book, "Are You there God? It is Me Margaret")

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Singing Woman

Blue Feather Eagle Woman was not given her name until she was taken home to be buried on her Saskatchewan reserve.

She had a different name when I taught her in grades 4 and 6.

When I read that she had hanged herself in jail I made this mask of Singing Woman to help her spirit soar.

And because my grief for the child I once knew is great...

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Nancy Drew in the Mystery of Omar Kadar and the Missing Canadian Compromise

I lied. 

There is no Nancy Drew here. 

There is a whole lot of missing Canadian politeness, compromise and listening to each other though.


Meanwhile on Parliament Hill:


What a shameful week.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Bessie's War

Because of a volunteer job I do at a local historical society, every morning I post a tweet from the diary of a front line WWI nursing sister who came from my home town of St. Catharines, Ontario, (pictured above with two wounded Canadians).

Most of her diary entries are amazingly banal: going to the village, attending concerts, flirting with the officers, the lovely countryside and architecture of France, etc.  

After the battle of Vimy Ridge during which over 3,500 Canadian men were killed and 7,000 wounded she notes with chilly satisfaction that everyone is pleased because they were expecting so many more.

She refuses to take you down into the chaos and butchery that surrounded her.

And yet sometimes her words haunt your dreams.

Last week she wrote how 'her boys' often found humour in the grimmest of situations.  One lad laughed and told her that when he saw a pair of legs flying over his head he thought to himself, "If those are mine, I've had a terrible accident."

History isn't what we read in well researched factual books it is found in the voices of those who were there. 

This diary says as much about women and Canada as it says about the 'boys' who fought.

link to Bessie's war

Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Woman Cave Studio

My basement flooded this year.

And it was very mysterious because I couldn't see where the water was coming from, I could only see that it was gushing out from under the laminate flooring like mini-me Niagara Falls.

I went and got a neighbour and we were both bamboozled.

"You'd better call someone," she said helpfully as she went back to her own DRY house.

Long story short I had workers in my basement with jackhammers and shovels for the longest time.

Fortunately the condo insurance paid for everything except the laminate flooring.

Then I got breast cancer.

It wasn't a great year.

Then I got better.

AND because I got better I celebrated by trading a few of my pictures with my cousin's hubby who came and painted and put in new flooring.

I moved my art studio into my cave this morning.