Saturday, October 28, 2017

My Muckle Wheel

Yesterday a made an unusual and very special purchase that I couldn't really afford, but I felt like I couldn't afford to pass it up either, because I very much doubt that I'd ever have another opportunity like this again.

I feel in my very bones and believe it was the right, once in a lifetime decision that I had to take advantage of, because owning a spinning wheel is something I've wanted for so many years, since I was first exposed to one as a teenager in a spinning workshop, so many years ago.

Always knowing that the price I'd have to pay, it would undoubtedly be realistically way beyond my financial reach, until yesterday! I was able to pay ninety dollars for this spinning wheel, in perfect working order, and probably a turn of the century antique the Great Walking Wheel!

My neighbour in the next village just a few miles down the country road, owned it, but never used this spinning wheel. She had it in her gift shop that she's selling, along with all her inventory. She'd only used it to display the mittens she'd made, attached to the wheel with clothes pegs.

I could never have ever imagined I'd ever be able to find this magnificent wheel right in my own neighbourhood! I'm so very happy and grateful and can hardly wait to get some wool to spin!

"Great wheels are driven spindle wheels and are also called wool wheels, high wheels, walking wheels, or muckle wheels (a Scottish term)."

I feel a great affinity with the spinning wheel and especially with this Great Walking Wheel. It's a metaphor for life really, as it relates and reminds me very much of the three ages of the Moirai, reflecting the lunar phases and the three stages of every human life. They spin, measure and cut in the  Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card.

I have been learning about weaving on a Leclerc table loom that a good friend very generously gave me, and weaving traditionally always began with spinning, and so it's very fitting that I now have my very own spinning wheel to spin the natural wool I choose to use for weaving.

On both my mother and father's side of the family, my grandmothers did very fine handcrafted work, crocheting, lace work, knitting and quilting, which I learned from my mother. I never learned about spinning or weaving other than being briefly exposed to it as a youth. I'm certain my great grandmothers would spin out of necessity and knew how to weave. It gives me a deep sense of connection with them carrying on this fine traditional work.

Photo -

The Great Walking Wheel has been described as being truly enchanting, and I'd have to say I'm enchanted, completely. The photo above is one I found on the great site and it's the same wheel I have, just a much better photo than the one I took of my wheel. As you can see it's a very simple design in form and function. This is the great beauty of the Great Walking Wheel in my opinion.

It's amazing how common textile hand work has been featured in so many mythological stories, and folk lore, especially involving the spinning wheel, which is the oldest form of textile.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Tarana Burke - Me Too

Tarana Burke

Not the easiest post to write and think about, but I'm compelled to do so, considering all the ongoing media attention and outpouring of "Me Too" posts on social media in light of film producer Harvey Weinstein, and the allegations of abuse and sexual harassment made against him by women in the film industry.

I also posted "Me Too", having had experiences of being sexually harassed, and subject to abusive relationships at different points throughout my life.

I don't believe many women were at all surprised all of this came to light. It's what women have been experiencing from time immemorial, systemic, cultural and insidious abuse and sexual harassment, threats and rape. As I thought about this today, I made the historical connection of past cultures, when there once was the fundamental belief in the Goddess, when a woman's body was considered sacred, because her womb was the vessel that held the miracle of life itself. I'm so often acutely and painfully aware this spiritual theology of the sacred feminine, is not held in high regard today. It has been replaced and defined in masculine terms, within religious, cultural and societal institutions. The consequences being, everyone continues to experience the fall out from this abuse of destructive power and control in one way or another.

Such an epidemic within society and throughout the world has reached a pivotal crisis by way of a perpetuated shaming silence, keeping women and men imprisoned in shame, through guilt and all to often, blaming the victim.

Of course it's essential that we stand up and speak out against abuse. Everyone and especially men must take a very proactive and significant role in speaking out against this behaviour.

Today I'd heard Quentin Tarantino make a statement he was aware of  Weinstein's behaviour. He said he was heartbroken and regrets he'd been complicit by never speaking out. We can only hope that in the future those like Tarantino will no longer choose to keep silent.

Women need men to be speaking out against predatory, monstrous and deplorable  behaviours, and those responsible need to held accountable legally and socially. Women also need to be believed, supported and men need to proactively promote change. We're all in this together, and we need to help one another make a better world for the following generations.

Power and control must be replaced with compassion, justice and peace in order to preserve, protect, reclaim and honour the very soul of culture.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sick Boy - Jeremie Saunders, Taylor MacGillivary, Brian Stever

Jeremie Saunders, Taylor MacGillivary, Brian Stever

I first heard about these three beautiful, wise, insightful and hilarious Haligonian young men a number of months ago. Then two days ago they were featured again on CBC Radio on The Current.

Sickboy is their podcast that features interviews and discussions about illness, death, life and lots of laughter. I could say they're inspirational examples, and all the other trope like adjectives that describe those of us dealing with terminal illness, and mortality. But I'll simply say they're great guys who talk openly, honestly and humorously about life and the really difficult parts of it, that most of us rather avoid.

 It's the kind of refreshingly, deep communication that everyone should have, about illness, grief and death in between the laughter.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sam Smith - Pray

Laying in my bed every morning before my feet hit the floor, I spend a few minutes of quiet and focus to read from two small contemplative and meditative books that are my daily readings.

Once downstairs my usual routine is to get the coffee, going have a bite to eat and then write in my journal. This morning for some reason I missed the readings and the writing, which for me is kind of like a stream of consciousness and really also like prayer for me.

My radio is always on, because I'm such a radio head and a dyed in the wool CBC addict. When this song was being played, it stopped me dead in my tracks, the song Pray I'd never heard, by an artist I'd never heard of, Sam Smith. I guess I'm either living in a vacuum or don't listen to commercial radio. Regardless I'm now a big fan.

The lyrics touched me. I think many people feel what he describes in his lyrics, about not knowing what to say about the state of the world, or knowing how to express the inner struggles with feeling alone or being in a state of despair for whatever reason.

Reflecting on a time, 37 years ago I felt this way. I was in a quite room with a priest who was trying to spiritually walk with me and the darkest time in my life, when my late husband was on life support in Toronto's St. Michael's hospital.

I told the priest I found it impossible to pray. I wasn't able to find any words, and my heart felt like it had turned to stone. He gently touched my face, the same way my late husband would, who was a very spiritual, tenderhearted and loving man. The priest said to me, the desire to pray is a prayer in itself. In the years to come I read the same thing that the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton wrote in his book The New Seeds of Contemplation. 

There are still times I don't have the words to pray, but I'm comfortable with that because I've learned that the Creator only expects from us the honest desire in our hearts to pray, whether we have the words or not when our hearts feel like they've turned to stone. And I've read that prayer isn’t come as you are; it’s just be who you are.

 “Prayer and love are really learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart turns to stone.”
                           - New Seeds of Contemplation -Thomas Merton

I'm young and I'm foolish, I've made bad decisions
I block out the news, turn my back on religion
Don't have no degree, I'm somewhat naive
I've made it this far on my own
But lately, that shit ain't been gettin' me higher
I lift up my head and the world is on fire
There's dread in my heart and fear in my bones
And I just don't know what to say

Maybe I'll pray, pray
Maybe I'll pray
I have never believed in You, no
But I'm gonna pray

You won't find me in church (no) reading the Bible (no)
I am still here and I'm still Your disciple
I'm down on my knees, I'm beggin' You, please
I'm broken, alone, and afraid
I'm not a saint, I'm more of a sinner
I don't wanna lose, but I fear for the winners
When I tried to explain, the words ran away
That's why I am stood here today

And I'm gonna pray (Lord), pray (Lord), maybe I'll pray
Pray for a glimmer of hope
Maybe I'll pray (Lord), pray (Lord), maybe I'll pray
I've never believed in You, no, but I'm gonna...

Won't You call me?
Can we have a one-on-one, please?
Let's talk about freedom
Everyone prays in the end
Everyone prays in the end
Oh, won't You call me?
Can we have a one-on-one, please?
Let's talk about freedom
Everyone prays in the end
Everyone prays in the end

Oh, I'm gonna pray, I'm gonna pray, I'm gonna pray
Pray for a glimmer of hope
Maybe I'll pray, pray, maybe I'll pray
I've never believed in You, no, but I'm gonna pray

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Giles Clement - Aerial Tintype

Giles Clement

I've noticed a whole lot of young people taking a serious interest and real passion about things old, like everything 60s, the tradition of black and white photos and old school photography that involves disciplined processes, like spending solitary hour after hour  in a dark room, developing film.

There's a serious resurgence happening that really excites me. The adage of everything old is new again I believe to be true, but with a twist combining the old art with the new is mind expanding and inspiring that is carrying on a tradition, leaving me feeling creatively hopeful for the future of art and artists.

Today on what some folks call "The Face Book "I saw this. Blows my mind, involving large format view cameras, Tintype and a drone! Very exciting. Great youtube video about Giles Clement's Tintype photographs, with a great up town funk kinda song!

Saturday, October 7, 2017


Bonn-e-Lass - Egg Tempera - Catherine Meyers 2017

I held off posting this painting for sometime as it was a commission for a friend's daughter to be given to her on her Birthday. The Birthday has come and gone so I'm free to post this egg tempera painting of her late grandfather's Cape Island fishing boat in Apple River Bar.

Before moving to Apple River in 1995 permanently, I really knew very little about this place of rich history of sea faring vessels, majestic beauty and kind folk. A young man who I dated many years ago, when I was just 17 brought me to Apple River and he'd lived in Apple River when he was young as he was from the area. Sadly, he tragically died young.

I never imagined then that I would be living in the exact spot he'd once taken me. What I did know was what a special feeling I had, I'd say looking back it was a spiritual feeling I got about Apple River, all those years ago, that I never forgot, and I'm so grateful to that beautiful young man who brought me here 47 years ago.

In 1994 I ended up going into a real estate office where I knew a good friend who worked there.  Passing by I'd seen a photo in the window of a house in Apple River, and those feelings came rushing back, of the memories when I'd been there so long ago, remembering how what a special place it was.

I wasn't looking for a house and the price was far from affordable for me. I was simply looking for a small Summer spot to get away from my work and paint.

It wasn't any time my friend said to me, "Cathy I know your and artist, and I have just the place for you." She proceeded to show me the photo of the house, located in Apple River that I saw in the window of her real estate office. I told my friend I could never afford the price. She stated if I offered the woman who owned it, a much lower price, she thought she'd take it, and so I did. And the rest, as they say, is history. I've never regretted it for a minute and I love my community, and the way of life is second to none.

My mother once told me our family had relatives in the area that were Rectors, as my great grandmother was a Rector from West Brook, Nova Scotia. The first Rector had settled in the Parrsboro area of Nova Scotia. But I knew of none of these relatives. 

This painting is of the late Clifton Rector's Cape Island boat. I know Clifton was a relative of mine, but I'm not sure exactly how, a cousin several times removed I expect. I never knew Clifton but I heard many good things about him.

There were a total of 14 vessels built in Apple River in the past. It was a bustling and thriving place once, with a post office, a school and a couple of hotels, not to mention a logging mill that employed many men, along with fishing and sailing vessels that enabled folks to sustain themselves.

The vessels and logs would come right down Apple River. This is a picture of the old mill that once stood out back of my place.  

 Once moving here I did find out some of the connections I had in the area, and  it left me with the distinct feeling that I knew this is exactly where I was meant to be. I'm blessed and grateful to know that.

I Am An Indian - Kent Gooderham

"This book is the FIRST anthology of Indian literature to be published in Canada. It has been written and illustrated by men and women who are called Indians, but who think of themselves as Sioux or Salish, Ojibway or Delaware, Abnakis or Assiniboine."

                                                                                                      - Kent Gooderham

Going through boxes of books this month in my garage I found one book that belonged to my late mother, whom I miss so much. I didn't know where it was, and was afraid I'd somehow lost it, after searching everywhere for it a few months back, but I was so happy to know I still had this special book that I'd tucked safely away.

On the inside of the cover my mother signed her name and dated it 1969.   The book is entitled, I Am In An Indian which was first passed onto her when she worked for what was then known as the Department of Indian Affairs. It was edited by Kent Gooderham and Published by J.M. Dent & Sons (Canada) Limited. I'd searched online for this book a few months ago before I found it in my garage. I wished it was reprinted again, as it's very worthwhile reading.

My late husband was of Cree and Metis heritage. Because of that, and after taking my own spiritual quest and journey over my life, I've found that the spirituality of Indigenous people is what I most strongly identify with now. It makes me feel closer to my much loved, late husband, and to my mother who first introduced me to this book of story tellers, poems, songs, artwork created, told by First Nations themselves throughout Canada.

I Am An Indian may seem dated to some, but it's still very relevant today, if not more so. It was the first hard book copy written the same year my mother shared it with me when I was 16 years old.  It comforts me now to re-read it again, after all these years.

Drums of My Father

A hundred thousand years have passed
Yet, I hear the distant beat of my father's drums
I hear his drums throughout the land
His beat I feel within my heart.

The drums shall beat, so my heart shall beat,
And I shall live a hundred thousand years.

                                                              - Shirley Daniels

"Mary Jane Sterling is a member of the Thompson River (Nteakyapamuk) Indian Band. She wrote the following comment on school life when she was many miles away from her home in central British Columbia attending school in Vancouver Island."

Thoughts On Silence

What am I doing here
Among these strange people
Sitting in these funny desks
Staring at paper?
Oh yes, I am in school.
These are my classmates.
Though they chatter all the time
They are silent now.
Now I can think.
I see a bird flying high in the air.
Maybe it is flying south.
My heart leaps with the bird
Taking a message to my mother.
My mind is heavy, thinking something sad has
Happened at home.
But the birds are singing
Everything is all right.
The breeze has whispered something in my ear.
I hope it whispers the same joyous words to my people.
I get lonely for my family and I especially miss my mother
But I shall see them all soon.
When we meet we won't even touch hands
But our hearts will leap with joy
And our minds will be glad.
                                 - Mary Jane Sterling

Virginia and Gladys by Daphne (Odjig) Beavon

Friday, October 6, 2017

Ai Weiwei - Human Flow

I first heard the name Ai Weiwei during a sculpture class at Mount Allison University, about eight years ago. I was so drawn to this artist because of his commitment to social justice and peace. If there's any purpose that artists serve, it's my opinion, that there can be no higher purpose than this, considering the state of our world, full of racism, poverty and the violence of war.

It's difficult to maintain hope for humanity in the contemporary world, however Ai Weiwei imparts hope by constantly affirming the power of the individual to speak out, and to stand up for truth, by following the open path of love, associated with what is, helping us to try and process what is happening in the world of humanity that's so difficult to fathom and understand man's inhumanity toward one another.

I've heard and seen a number of interviews and documentaries about Ai Weiwei, and each one increasingly moved me. The interview I heard recently on the Current, regarding his new film called Human Flow, is so profoundly insightful and simultaneously disturbing, conveying an intimate and riveting perspective of the reality of 'what is' happening with those who are fleeing war and violence on a global scale, that convicts the conscience.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Social Metaphor

I think OCD causes me to count, and sometimes it drives me a little doolally, but I've come to accept this as part of who I am, and just another personality quirk, and everyone has one.

Because I try hard to walk everyday, trying to get in shape and loose some weight, I've been counting my steps with my pedometer. I don't count calories, stitches, or words unless I need to.

Lately I count days because I'm waiting, for something I'm really looking forward to next June when I'll be 65 2018.

I'm a self-confessed recovering alcoholic now for 23 years. I've heard it was said, the definition of an alcoholic is a person who has to have something to look forward to. I do believe this is true for me. Perhaps this is why I count. I look forward when I come to the end of my counting, but it never seems to stop. One's too many, and a thousands not enough!

My good friend generously gave me a beautiful table loom with all the extra gadgets and gizmos needed, including a book and thread that goes with it to weave. I'm wanting to take it on as a Winter project, which I know means more counting, this time counting threads.

Spring cleaning is not something I do. I refuse to be inside the house cleaning once Spring arrives, but come Fall, before Mother Nature lays down her Winter snowy blanket, I get the strong urge organize, reorganize, and clean, but thankfully this is not where my OCD kicks in! Rearranging and cleaning this time of year is my way to subvert the Winter blues. It never completely keeps them at bay, sure does help. I'm not a Winter fan and never will be, no matter how I've tried over the years.

This morning while going through a bag of papers I'd stored away for whatever reason, I came across something I'd written down, that someone else said. The sentence went like this "the thread of sewing and writing is a social metaphor." I believe it was a quote from Helaine Posner made by Ann Hamilton, and the scholarly article The Poetics of Place.

I'm sure you can substitute sewing with any kind creative handmade artwork.

The line of thought continues to describe how we make things with language and words are our materials, the thread as line and the thread is as a line of writing. It goes on to describe how we are sensory beings and as adults we negate this. As adults we need to go back to being multi-sensory, where we smell the work and experience skin and the line.
I'm sure any kind of creative handmade work could be substituted in place of sewing.

I admit I don't normally smell my work, unless I working with oil paint and using turpentine, you can't help but be aware of the smell. I no longer work in oil, so I rarely smell anything unless my egg tempera paint has gone bad, and there's nothing pleasant about the smell of rotten eggs!

In the past I've loved thick oil paint on canvas and felt the desire to eat it. I admit as weird as this might sound to some,  I know I'm not alone, as I've had other artists tell me they experienced the same thing.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Evan Rensch - Enterprise Faucett Foundry

Evan Rensch - Photographer

During my daily walk I saw a graceful hawk soaring and gliding over the salt water marsh. When I see birds or other wildlife like this, I'm always transfixed and excited to see them. I'm of the belief they are signs or perhaps a spirit animal, especially when seen frequently.

I was immediately reminded of someone in my past that I once thought I loved and had motivated me to create a painting of a Fox and a Hawk. I was later saddened that my hopeful thoughts of love had been dashed. But I dodged another bullet. I'm no longer that hopeless romantic I once was, but I see myself as a hopeful romantic.

Throughout the ages artists are inspired by love and romanticism to create. It can be heart rendering to read a poem about unrequited love, or a spurred lover who's life comes to an end, because of a broken heart. The awesomeness of nature inspires thoughts of the divine when expressed in music or song and the horror of war can be depicted in the view of a camera lens that can haunt with grief and emotion.

Artists can be mocked for sentimentality, idealism or romanticism. That said, I see the role of the artist and art, to  inspire, to move, provoke thought, and even change lives. Not necessarily through sentimentality or by simply making something pretty or beautiful, but through creating art work making us reflect, perhaps even shock, that challenges us to open our mind or causes a combination of several responses, all at the same time.

In 2012 I saw an exhibition of photographs that touched me deeply, made me both happy and sad. I felt loss and a gain, pride in a sense of heritage and personal identity.

Evan Rensch's exhibit entitled Enterprise is a series of matter-of-fact photographs of the workers inside the Enterprise Faucett Foundry in Sackville, New Brunswick. This exhibit at the Owens Gallery on the Mount Allison University campus, brought together a whole community of historically hard working folk, a testament and bore witness to those who have a direct connection to Sackville and to the historical legacy of the Enterprise Faucett Foundry, dating back to the early 1800s.

My late grandfather Roy Winslow Milner was born and raised in a big egalitarian farming family, just outside of Sackville (Westcock). As an adult and he worked hard his whole life at this foundry, as a molder, to provide for his family. To this day I have a number of cast iron frying pans, and decorative items he made while there, and I treasure them.

Sadly my grand dad developed silicosis or what was commonly known as black lung and then lung cancer eventually took his life. It's not much wonder, as there was no filtering or exhaust system in the work place.  My grand father was much more than an iron worker as many all the other workers were as well.
Grandad had a thirst for learning, with two sisters who were teachers, and he was a multi-talented musician, who had a love of the land, growing his own food and a great respect for all animals.

The photograph below was taken by Evan Rensch as part of his poignant exhibition. It is a portrait of my talented and gifted cousin Gary Milner, who also worked at Enterprise Faucett Foundry.

I'm happy Evan Rensch took these photographs that document an era that has come to an end. My happiness is tinged with my feelings of sadness for the workers and their families left without an income after the devastating fire destroying the Enterprise Faucett Foundry in 2012. Etched in the faces of each worker, you can see the personalities and the years of hard work reflected in their eyes, and on their faces.

Evan Rensch has told a powerful story that's imparted a deep appreciation and love of community, within a context of history, and in the tradition of photographers that have come before him, honouring the soul and body, and reclaiming the beauty in the world of the individual, through the lens of the view camera.

Gary Milner

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Autumn Leaves - Beauty

Apple River - Photo - Catherine Meyers

Autumn Leaves - Beauty

When Autumn comes around every year, it's always a little bitter sweet. I experience a multi-sensory, radiant beauty living in the Nova Scotia countryside, where land, sea and sky meet. I also experience a quiet sense of sadness, that comes to the surface. My soul and body will remember the losses of the year(s) that have passed, even if my mind doesn't. I've come to believe consciousness is found in the body.

                                                                   "Beauty is the radiance of truth."
                                                                                            - Saint Augustine

There are many people who share in these feelings with the arrival of Autumn. It's simply part of the Life/Death/Life cycle that we spend introspectively processing how it's all manifested and born out, creating meaning from our experiences.

                                         "God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December."
                                                                                                                        - Thomas Merton

My heart lives in the beauty of Spring, but I know beauty only visits it doesn't linger.