Tag Archives: horse

Time to Reflect – in Banff (36/365)

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I spent much of the day today hiking from end to end of Banff (and back), reflecting. Ostensibly, I was figuring out exactly where I need to go when I lead my first ghost walk, planning where to tell which story… But there was lots more going on than just deciding when to mention the various apparitions. Wandering around the streets and alleys, peering into back yards, reading all the plaques (they weren’t there when I lived there, way back when), catching glimpses of the familiar, being shaken by all that has changed… I kept alternating between regret and sadness that we ever left and delight to be back and looking at my old hometown with fresh eyes.

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All day today the world kept shifting between the intense colours of early summer and the black and white filter of powerful childhood memories. 

When I was a kid sometimes the guys (they were mostly men back then) would let me ride my horse at the back of the string of horses when they were brought down from the Banff Springs Hotel to the barn near the rec grounds. I pretended like I was actually important and had a proper job to do, though I was really just following along. I loved the way the tourists would point and say, “Look how small she is!” as I sat astride my much-too-big-for me horse, Ace.

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Ace in front of Cascade Mountain. About 1970. 

As a family, we travelled a lot when I was young and until recently I was hard pressed to say what place I considered to be ‘home.’ Now that I am back in the mountains, though, I feel like I have come home, in geographic terms at least. Walking around in Banff, I think that’s perhaps the closest I will ever come to identifying with a specific place in such a way that I feel that’s where I come from. It’s a very strange feeling because I don’t even live in Banff (and probably never will again) – I live down the road in Canmore. But Canmore feels like the place I live at the moment that’s very similar geologically speaking to a place I once called home. And that is different to actually being back at home.

Oh, it’s confusing. I keep finding myself time-slipping, taken back almost five decades to the first summer we spent in Banff in a cabin not much different to one of these:

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Banff Beaver Cabins on Beaver Street

Back in the day, accommodations for visitors were in short supply (actually, that hasn’t changed much). Enterprising locals built cabins behind their homes and rented them out. When we first arrived in 1969, we lived in just such a cabin for the first summer until we moved into a small house on Grizzly Street a couple of blocks over.

My most vivid memory of that first summer was being awakened at dawn by banging noises behind the cabin. No, it wasn’t a ghost… it was a female grizzly and her two cubs raiding our garbage cans. Mom, my brother and I watched through the window until they had taken what they wanted and ambled off.

Those were the days before animal-proof garbage cans and, actually, before feeding the wildlife was strictly verboten. Somewhere, I have photos of us feeding crackers to elk outside the back door of the Grizzly Street house. On my next trip to the coast, I’ll dig through the boxes of old photos and find a few to post…

For now, though, my memories from long ago and the new impressions from today are doing a strange dance, not quite in synch but not quite not in synch either. Do you know what I mean?

I am too tired to think any more about this tonight (and, my jaw still hurts so I just want to go to bed), but I’ll leave you with a question or two: How far away from ‘home’ do you live? In our ever more mobile world, what does home mean?

Going Dotty for Dots (15/365)

I arrived on Vancouver Island for a visit only to find Dad having a bit of a medical issue. A wicked nosebleed that refused to stop has meant four visits to emergency rooms in two different hospitals over the past 36 hours or so. Don’t worry, Dad is ok – but he has, as a result of his leaking blood vessels, spent a fair bit of time hanging about in waiting rooms.

 

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Magnifying Glass by Roy Lichtenstein (1963)

 

What does one do under such circumstances? Talk about dots, of course…

And, spots… like the many, many paintings featuring coloured spots by Damien Hirst.

 

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Valium, by Damien Hirst

 

According to Hirst’s website (www.damienhirst.com) there are more than 1400 of his spot paintings out there. The spots range from teeny tiny and thousands upon thousands on a single canvas to larger works with fewer, much larger spots. Assistants have helped paint some of the canvases, which are meant to look like they could have been painted by a machine.

This next painting by Bonnard is lots of fun and features spots in a different way. The combination of playful dog and the woman’s spotty dress make me smile!

 

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Woman in a Polka Dot Dress by Pierre Bonnard, 1890s

And here’s one by the French/Chinese artist, Sanyu that features one of my favorite subjects, horses.

 

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Two Spotted Horses by Sanyu (1950)

 

 

This conversation about spots and dots, of course, led back to my own dot experiments and then Dad piped up with “… what about dominoes? You could do something with that… ”

Which is how I wound up searching for domino images on Google while trying to ignore the steady stream of walking wounded moaning and groaning their way into the emergency room…

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I had my daytimer with me, so I started doing some quick sketches of the basic domino shape… and was just getting warmed up when Dad got summoned to go in for treatment and we had to stop chatting and put away our pencils.

It’s an intriguing idea, though. I can imagine adding colour… and multiple dominoes, and patterns of falling dominoes… Who knows where this may lead?? It’s late now and it’s been a very busy day with a great meeting with my editor about the medically-assisted dying book plus the next project about civil disobedience, presenting to students at Royal Oak Middle School, having a chat with my accountant, and searching for ground lamb (there are plans afoot for a weekend away on my daughter’s boat and rather elaborate preparations are ongoing as Dani puts together a rather spectacular menu), so I’ll leave things there for now.  Can’t wait for tomorrow to see where the spots and dots and dominoes may take us next!

 

 

 

 

 

U is for Ungulates (AtoZChallenge2018)

 

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Landscape with Cows and a Camel by August Macke, 1914

 

The law of inverse proportions is in full effect here at the moment with one variable being how panicky I feel about my manuscript draft getting done by the deadline (May 1) and the second being how long I have to spend on my daily blog post! More panic? Less blog time…

 

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Back in my farming days, I spent a lot of time hanging out with ungulates… 

 

Today, I throw all efforts to tie into my theme to the wind and frantically scramble to find some visual representations of ungulates. Ungulates, in case you can’t quite remember from biology class, are mammals with some form of hoof. They include horses, cattle, pigs, camels, deer, and hippos…

 

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Here in Canmore, these elk are resident ungulates. 

 

 

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This bison/buffalo is on display in our town hall… 

 

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Ancient ungulate imagery… Two Camels Fighting (1530)

 

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The Moose by George Stubbs (1773)

Now, I’m going to have a quick shower and try not to disturb the neighbours with my baleful ululations (oooo – oooooo–nnnnnoooooo) as I consider the ticking clock that is ruling my existence these days… Then, perhaps a few more pages of edits before turning in.

Until tomorrow –

Ciao!