Impermanance meditation: What do we learn?

Chestnut tree wants spring

Chestnut tree wants spring

All around me today I experienced elderly people driving, standing in line, talking to clerks. They were struggling. One man looked like his legs were on backwards from the knees down. He was holding himself up with two walking sticks as his question mark shaped wife struggled to get his walker out of the car. She pulled. He leaned. The question of timing was paramount. Could she get the support she needed out of the car before he totally collapsed?

A woman who didn’t understand about her telus bill, had trouble reading and couldn’t hear the voice of the service person through the phone handed to her at the counter explained that, no she didn’t have email. She didn’t have a fax. Could the person please speak up? Her husband sat adrift in the waiting chairs not looking at anything. Not interested in anything. Waiting for her to pick him up from the chair and take him to the car.

A silver haired woman swung wide and turned left into the right hand lane without looking. Another small driver that could only be seen as the sun glistened off of hair later changed lanes almost clipping my car, without even noticing.

While I am experiencing some trepidation about flying to Portland on my own, driving an unknown car, carrying legal papers, computer etc on my back in the backpack, I realized today that I need to do things that are difficult or challenging. I need to take what appears to be uncomfortable decisions.

I know that these hands will cease to move. Death is inevitable. The brain that I use as a tool and that uses me as a tool will become mere molecules. The only memories that will remain will be those that are held in the minds of others.

But for now, activity, taking on challenges, taking care of my body, staying in a loving heart will make the journey more pleasant. As I deal with my father’s death, as I think about his weakening, everywhere I looked today I saw those who are impaired by age, crippled by their bodies. And it made me think about impermanance and the need to love.

Jazz, Classes and Arts News Kelowna

Was that sunshine out there? Welcome to Spring.

Cameron’s News:
March 31st Cameron plays with Jane Eamon at Ministrel’s Cafe
Cover Charge is usual

Sitting in with Jennifer Scott and Bernie

Sitting in with Jennifer Scott and Bernie

April 17th Cameron plays at Peachland Civic Awards at 6:30
Danny Sameshima trio

Cameron is well on the way to getting his
Contractor’s Licence.
We will celebrate his ability to pull his own permit ( not as naughty as it sounds.)
He is an full electrician with red seal and is skilled at other home improvement tasks.

Cherie’s News:

Cherie is now President of her neighbourhood association and is looking for other
past or current residents of Kelowna’s North End to join the North End Facebook group.

The NERA meeting is March 25th in the Ellis St. Library, upstairs room

April 4th Cherie’s workshop: UBC-O Continuing Services class on Digital Photograph
from 10-4 pm still has room
Phone: 250.807.8177
Fax:  250.807.9155

Further Classes offered in her studio are:
April 6th 6-8 Selecting the Image: How to choose a “shot”
$45 adults and teens

April 8th 6-8 Starting with You: Finding what matters in photography
$45 adults and teens

April 11th 10-2 Workshop on Keepsake handmade book: Gift of Yourself
All materials supplied. Bring a keepsake or two to include
$50 adults and teens

Also at the library, April 29th from 7-8 An Artist’s Eye: Photographs of Europe
Discussing the Artscape exhibition currently at the Kelowna Community Theatre until end of April

Cherie is preparing for the group curated show DISPARATE VOICES
Stiegenhaus Gallery, Vienna, Austria. May 8th to May 16th.
The artists Jean-Francois Provost, Quebec; Rian Kerrane, Art Professor, University of Colorado; Matthias Schmidt, Ph.D. student Austria.

Cherie is looking for submissions to her twice a month column on entitled Find Art. Any event in the arts in Kelowna, free listing. or 1-250-763-4269

The soft evening of the spring with lights dancing

The soft evening of the spring with lights dancing

Why visit Portland, Oregon?

old building new condo with library

old building new condo with library

It rains. There are businesses that have gone broke. Art Galleries have closed their doors in the downturn.

But the basic vision that this vibrant city was built from is still shining brightly. Wikipedia states, “The city and region are noted for strong land-use planning[9] and investment in light rail, supported by Metro, a distinctive regional-government scheme.”

What this means for those who reside or visit the city is longitudal parks, free light rail, public art available for discovery in every section of the city and a population of hardily dressed citizens whose intention is to walk, ride their bikes and inhabit the out door spaces, no matter what the weather.

Public art in hall above Whole Foods parkade

Public art in hall above Whole Foods parkade

The Portland Art Museum is always worth a visit. The current display of mixographia is fascinating. A process that uses the building up of layers of paper to form a mold. The three dimensional prints cry out to be touched. But I was responsible in stead of responsive.

La volupté du goût: French Painting in the Age of Madame de Pompadour
La volupté du goût: French Painting in the Age of Madame de Pompadour was a thoroughly researched exhibit that gave the viewer a glimpse into history and the mores of the Boroque period. Pale colors, curving lines, ornamentation for its ownsake gave way to Neo-classicism. It is much fun to walk through history and see the cultural norms and measures for beauty changing before your eyes.

No visit to Portland is complete without a visit to Powells Books. The coffee is freshly ground and great. I particularly like exploring the cart with books on it that others have placed there as they left. It gives me an opportunity to see what individuals have seen as an area of focus. A quirky sense of humour, a dark vision, a desire for self-improvement, dealing with depression, mold, children, or training a pet are all a reading thumb print left on the cart.

The reading room now offers shelter to more street people than I can ever remember in over ten years of visiting the store. The few we saw were quiet and simply slept on a table without disturbing anyone.

The architecture is brilliant. Old buildings are housing new sleek condos with ultra-contemporary furnishings. The sense of connectedness to the past is everywhere. In terms of fashion, the cut and fabric of clothing is important…to keep off rain and cut the effect of winds. Shoes, coats etc. are well designed and expensive; however, there is no sense of display. The colors were quite muted. Perhaps a skirt had an extra frill of dark beige on black. Buffalo Exchange is a place that we always visit. The store is designed to circulate clothing through the customers. Buy a delightful sweater coat and wear it for a year. Then bring it back to the store and get credits toward another piece of clothing. Powell’s Books does the same. You can buy a new book, read it and they will buy it back as a used book.

The whole concept of cycle of use is wise and supportive of a feeling of community. Flex cars, as well, can be seen everywhere. The citizens are aware of use and share as a centralized philosophy.

We explored both the Portland University and the Portland State Campuses. They were both wonderful. Portland University is a small catholic university with a campus that harkens to the past. A central green surrounded by brick buildings felt homey. The athletic field was shared by a practicing soccer team and an rotc group going through drill. It was a sad reminder in this place that should have been an ivory tower that young people were at risk in a war.

public art

public art

Portland State houses a very utilitarian tower for Engineering studies that reminded me of the architecture of the art museum in Vienna. But there was more glass and light. The campus is a fascinating place to just sit and watch people. Serviced by the free trolley, one could walk here for an hour or two exploring and just hop on the light rail to get downtown to the Pearl District.

Here is where the art galleries and up scale restaurants are clustered. The Pearl is not a place to explore if you are in a hurry. Every corner takes you to a new adventure. Take time to go through all of the stores and galleries. Funky rooms, labyrinthine hallways, discoveries are encouraged by the use of old breweries and buildings for the new stores.

The people in Portland are very polite. Doors were held open, people at counters took the time to talk with us. I think the thing we were most impressed by was the eye contact. People look at one another and smile. It is okay to make contact; in fact it is just plain normal.

So why go to Portland? Why not?

Spring Hopes Eternal in the Okanagan Valley

Weeding my comment garden

with thoughts of spring

the ground opening its frosty surface

to my fingers.

Digging the soil.

Soon tulips will paint the air

Primary the urge to return to full life.

Now the comments, like weeds

I have removed.

And tended my sites

each a bed of hopefulness

where I have sown the seeds

of possibilities.

But what of magic?

What of the incantations that pull

the forces of the earth, the heart?

How can I envoke the energies of life

in this dark time?

The peace of Roses: Peace Rose

The peace of Roses: Peace Rose

When do we risk failure?

When we try. The insoucient stance, the distant wave, the well guarded fortress are attempts to control life. Schedules, chaos, gaming in all senses of the word are attempts. One friend cannot “do” spontenaeity. Every minute of the day is accounted for. Another refuses to live with straight lines around her. All must be gothically cluttered and piled gimcrackery is important for the nest of her life.

Interesting to me is the ability I have to see primarily what is NOT ME. “I don’t do that,” I say to myself. But it is damnably difficult to discover what it is that I choose to do. So much of my life and energy is about the lie that I am simply reacting to circumstances. Why I have  such clarity about how others select actions and create their own scripts while I am blindly acting out the ego lines of my little drama is the central question.

Today I have obligations to others, a column to write, a studio to clean. I want to create more order by throwing out the winter webbing of possessions. Holding on to things seems warming and safe in the winter. But once the sun comes…

Skype conversation with Jean-Francois Provost was really fun this morning. He is a gentle, intelligent and talented man. He has begun to paint for the show. I said to him that he was kicking my butt. My focus beginning tomorrow will be the Vienna show.

Forget the cob webs.

Classes for Adults and Teens at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, Kelowna

April 6th 6-8 pm
Selecting the Image: Photography with an educated eye
Adults and Teens $45 

April 8th 6-8 pm
Starting with You: Digital Photos
Adults and Teens $45

April 11 10 am- 2 pm
A Gift of Yourself: Creating a Chapbook
Adults and Teens $50

April 29th 6-8 pm
 From Dull to Delightful
Adults and Teens $45

May 2nd  10-2 pm
Writing Colourful Poetry
Adults and Teens $50
picture from sheet music which I treated in computer

picture from sheet music which I treated in computer

Why income tax?

Snow the wind-freezing hands and fingers ice cycle in and out of pockets. The urge to shut down, shut up, withdraw is strong. But soon the lawn will be exposing itself and the dead sticks will need to be clipped so new shoots can begin.

For now, it is about self-discipline. Inside my studio the papers like snow, receipt, receipt, receipt falling to my ankles on the floor as I enter the red line reality of my last year. Keeping track of what I spent is not something I do willingly. Ten years of working every day and there is no turn in the road. The view is clearly backward.

detail of a painting I did as a donation for Gallery Vertigo

detail of a painting I did as a donation for Gallery Vertigo

How much better it is to tell myself that I am moving to the where of somewhere. Knowing that I am working 12 hours a day, choosing not to drive the car to have a coffee, not going to the thrift store, not reading a magazine at the book store so that I can get to the where of somewhere. And then this. The irrefutable records of loss.

Each sale only a fraction of what was expended. The sales months apart. I have the words to warm my heart. I have the words of “Beautiful. Love it. Amazing. Genius. Genius. Genius.” And yet I break our couples’ backs. What if…. the questions arising. What if I did not try so hard? What if I did not work on learning the edge of the brush, the filter treatment, the flow of line? What if I lunched and pampered and read and traveled for something besides to show my art?

The questions arise; the faces of columns asking me why. And all I can answer is that I cannot help it. The work calls me.

reaching for connection

reaching for connection

How do I turn what I so highly value into something that is valued by others?

The words are sweet but are a fantasy, offering neither light nor heat.

Does spring take courage?

With sun the dust returns.

The plants are gray with fuzz

they grew instead of leaves.

The windows are coated with handprints

of breathing air  pressed upon the glass

and underfoot

the necessary sand

that held us to winter walkways

has moved in

to make the house a beach.

We are on the shore of seasons.

Neither warmth nor winter’s shut down gratitude

Now is the restless season.

So many souls have

chosen to depart.

Spring takes an energy

depleted bodies

cannot find.

It is the cusp

of life and death.

I grieve the passing of so many

and wait for the sun

to offer warmth as well

as clarity.

Often the sound of voice is all that is left

Often the sound of voice is all that is left

When will the bottom fall out?

So many people have their eyes on the bottom of the stock market, the bottom line and what their bottoms look like as they walk away swaying their jeans. Today is a day to look up. The sky is blue. There is sun light and we are still alive.

The optimistic frame of mind comes from the news that I have received lately that three people who were close to me when I lived in Houston, B.C have either died or had a close relative die. The school secretary  offered me comfort and solutions to many problems when I moved up north, alone with few possessions, and having two children under the age of six who had chicken pox in tow. My car had a hole in the floor next to the gas pedal that allowed the 30 below air to sweep over us. It was not an easy existence but Margaret made my life tolerable. She has moved on from her battle with cancer and is gone.

By the time I moved back to the Okanagan I had established myself as bloody minded and stubborn. I had spent all of my time working as an English teacher, Drama teacher and had no  emotional or physical support for raising my two children. I had not accumulated friends. Friends take time and effort which I did not have to spare.

On moving day only two people showed up to help us move a household of four bedrooms into a u rent van and a small car and set off on the new life. George, who suddenly died of am embolism after a routine surgery, was one of the two. I think of him gratefully.

My stepfather is refusing to get out of bed after an accident which left him with three broken ribs. He has, basically, given up. We will be going down to sit with him as soon as our classes finish in the next week. He who never spoke to us and was distant at best has in his drugged state allowed my brother to hold his hand.

So, as a person who almost hemorrhaged to death in 1974… losing 1/2 of the blood in my body; survived cancer in 1997 that was a close call, and walked away from a car accident that saw our car spiraling from guard rail to guard rail directly in front of a semi-truck, I know fully that  there is a bottom line. It is not financial or cosmetic. The bottom line is the termination contract that we have all signed.

With grief, comes appreciation. Today the sun is shining and I think kindly of those who were there for me in the best way they could be. Thank you.

The door beyond

The door beyond