Friday, January 21, 2011

the wind whispered Spring

The buds are on the willows near my cabin are beginning to swell..soon they will burst into soft grey pussy willows.

The ice around the cattails is melting into a beautiful lattice pattern..exposing new shoots.

The mornings are warmer, and the wind whispers Spring

A haiku I wrote about Spring in Canada

In the tangle
of the frozen willows
Spring begins

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Betcha never log rolled before...

Early one summer morning, after a healthy dose of blueberry pancakes drenched in maple syrup, my dad announced that he had a "surprise" for us. My dad's surprises were the best because they involved one or more of the following elements: athletic ability, being outdoors, animals, nature, water or snow and COMPETITION.

On this day we were in for a brand new adventure...log rolling.
Log rolling is a crazy combination of balance, strategy and endurance. Born in log camps, it was probably derived from the art of moving log booms..booms are basically a circle of logs chained together which surround a group of floating logs destined for either the lumber mill or paper mill downstream.

(log boom 1903)

My dad ran booms as a kid to condition himself and improve his balance for hockey and lacrosse. He told us that if you slipped off the log into the free floating logs it was tough to get back to the surface.

Log rolling "equipment" consisted of a bathing suit and a log half submerged in the water..either free floating or attached to a dock by a long chain.
The ends of the log were painted with thin stripes which encircled the logs..these lines served as a focal point...if you can kept your eyes on the end of the log, you had more control. The center of the log was also marked, and each "roller" had to stay on his or her own end of the log during competition (aka a roleo).

You wore water shoes, or chose to go barefoot. I always preferred to have contact with the log and liked rolling barefoot.
Old timers used a long pike pole to help with balance, or to help navigate on the log, but we elected not to use this technique.
NOTE: REAL lumberjacks wore work pants, boots, and suspenders rather than bathing suits.

Our first introduction to the log was watching my dad's childhood friend Bill Fontana and his DOGS demonstrate how to logroll.. Peppy a retired dalmation had been Bill's first birling partner, and together they had gone on the road promoting the sport and Bill's houseboat business. My dad guided some for Fontana so we would often be there visiting with the dogs and our Uncle Willy while my dad cleaned fish for the tourists.

Lesson one: had to get the "feel" of the Dad steadied one end of the the log as one by one we took turns running out onto its slippery surface. We were instructed to focus on the end of the log rather than our feet, bend our knees, keep our torso erect and stretch our arms out to the side. Then we scampered back to the safety of the dock, unless of course we slipped into the lake. Rainy Lake is a large body of water, so a little added "chop" from waves was not uncommon..making balance all that more difficult.

Lesson two: this lesson, you first achieved balance..then gave Dad the thumbs up, whereupon he released his grip on the log. Immediately the log began to move in the water..and depending on how well you had mastered lesson one you either stayed on the log or went for a swim. This lesson resulted in NUMEROUS bruises until we learned to throw ourselves away from the log during the "dismount". My dad often scored dismounts and was as ruthless as the Russian judges. He of course added back flips to his dismounts, making the judges squeal with delight.

Lesson three: RUNNING and CHANGING this lesson, you mastered "control" of the could run in place on the log, or stop the log by redistributing your weight, and bending your knees more deeply.
Changing directions was more difficult, because it required a little "balance beam" style hop on the log, to reverse the spin direction.

Lesson four: BRING ON THE this lesson, the element of competition was introduced. Two rollers positioned themselves on opposite ends of the log. The object was to control the spinning of the log and thereby roll your competition into the cold lake.

Lesson five: DAD GOES FOR A Dad was a fierce competitor who never believed in "allowing kids to win" merely because they were kids. If you beat my dad in ANY competition, believe me you earned it honestly. I practiced hard, wore my bruises with pride and then one day..I sent my dad into Rainy Lake with my fancy footwork. I think I bragged for the rest of the summer..which was always too short.

Years later in college, I met a woman who was a log rolling champion..I challenged her to a roll and let her know that Rainy Lake rollers RULE!!

Thanks Dad for teaching me to log roll. Thank you for teaching me the importance of balance in my life, and to NEVER give up. I sure hope you're practicing in heaven so you can take back your title..I love and miss you Dad

(my dad)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bozhoo Nijii

At one point in my life I decided that I would learn another language..the language I chose was Annishinaabeemowin..the language of the Annishinaabee (Ojibwe)Nation.

(Stormy Sunset on Rainy Lake)

It was a language I'd heard early in my life-growing up on Rainy Lake in NW Ontario..sometimes spoken by Native fisherman paddling thru the bay in front of our cabins..but more often mispoken on non-Native tongues speaking the Annishinaabee names of lakes and bays named long before their relatives had come to live in the Canadian wilderness.

(Little Falls,Gakaabikaansing, Atikokan Ontario by Patti Kryzanowski)

People often learn words of greeting first when studying a new language..hello. In Annishinaabee language this can be either Bozhoo
(bah zhoo)..similar to the French bon jour, or it can be ainiin (a knee) which is a little more formal and perhaps less common greeting. This word Ainiin..combined with the word "nijii" (nah zhee) which means friend..opened the door to a beautiful friendship for me.

My father's journey was changing and he had recently been hospitalized after living a rich life exploring the wonders of the Canadian wilderness. I went to ease this transition for both of my parents. En route, I beaded a small medicine bag, working in a rosette pattern from the inside out..adding circles like a stone does when thrown into a calm pond..I had no plan for this was merely something to pass the time.

As the nursing staff cared for my father, we were asked to leave the room. My mom and I entered a small patient sitting area, which could also be accessed by patients living in the extended care ward. One woman shared lunch with her disabled husband, while others visited with family members or friends. Alone in the corner was a beautiful little Gramma..alone but smiling happily. Mom said..let's join that little Gramma..she might enjoy some company.

We approached and I reached out my hand to shake hands with the woman, asking if we could join her..her warm smile said we could. Her reply was not in English, but in I spoke her words-words new to my tongue..ainiin nijii..her eyes sparkled and her smile engulfed the room. We spoke as much as we could..stored conversations came to life as her native tongue rolled freely from her lips, feeble attempts to understand and respond came from mine. All the while I translated for my mother. Doris, as I'd later learn her name, pulled my chair closer to her, and held my hand as we spoke..forgiving my misprounced words, correcting me with kindness. Laughter and smiles accompanied our words.

When it came time to go back to my father's room, Doris kissed my hands over and over, and held them close to her face. I told my mom-NOW I know why I beaded that is for her..and I told my mom I'd join them shortly, but that first I have a gift to give. I returned to the sun room and held the medicine bag out for my new friend. She took it gently, and then motioned for me to help her put it on. As I did, tears rolled down her beautiful old face. She held my hands against the side of her soft cheeks momentarily.

As I left the room, I told her giga-waabamin (see you later). She smiled and knodded her head. The woman who had been feeding her husband stepped in front of me at the door..she said..I heard you talking to her..she doesn't speak English you know so we can't talk to her, is she your Gramma..I responded that in Native culture all elders are your relatives and are to be treated with that level of respect..she said-so she's YOUR Gramma and I she is my Kokomis, then I turned and winked at Doris..the woman said..well you know NOBODY talks to her, nobody comes to visit her..and I said-well today someone came to visit her..and with that I walked by her.

Every day for the next two weeks, I found an excuse to visit Doris Whitefish..she held my hands, kissing them gently..and I called her Gokim which is another version of the word for grandmother.
If I picked blueberries I'd bring a bowl for my friend.
(blueberry photo by raceytay on etsy)

If I came during lunch, I'd stir her soup to cool it off. If I came in the evening, we'd pull a chair by the window and watch the sunset. Sometimes I'd bring my beading and we'd just sit together. She taught me new words..pointing to things in pictures and telling me what they were.
When it came time to leave Canada and return to Colorado, I was sad to leave my parents and Doris behind.. I explained the best I could that I would be back to see her the following summer.

(sweatlodge is artwork done by dkjart on etsy)

In the months that passed, I spoke her name in my sweat lodge prayers..asking that she was well and that she would know my heart was thinking of her.

For the next three summers I visited Doris each time I went home..I took a CD of powwow music for her..and I introduced my daughter to her..Doris motioned for Jaryl to dance when a fast powwow song came on..Jaryl obliged..fancy shawling with a tablecloth as her shawl..while staff and other patients watched..Doris smiling proudly and inviting them all to the end of that visit we all joined in a round dance..the dance of friends.

(Eagle shadow picture taken of my daughter by Peggy)

I will share more about my special friendship with my beloved Gokim and about all the gifts that learning a new language has brought please come back and I will say giga-waabamin..because in Native languages there are no words as harsh as goodbye.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Colour of Mountains

(Mountain bluebird by Patti Kryzanowski)

Winter temperatures have stripped the colour from the mountains. Not unlike a charcoal drawing, the colours range from soft pussy willow greys to the stark black of deep charcoal greys. As the sun rises, the alpen glow finds the top of peaks, throwing pinks and oranges against this dull palette. Momentarily the mountains resemble the old hand-painted black and white photographs of the past. Dimensions are altered, as trees flatten against the rocky backdrops.
Low in the valleys, motionless clouds are frozen in place.

Seasonal transitions expand the mountain palette. Blues dominate. Shades from deep indigo in the foreground, give way to silvery shades of blue on distant ridges. Clouds climb out of the valleys, like smoke leaving a fire. to encircle the rugged terrain above timberline.

(Sunset storm by Patti Kryzanowski)

(Alaska Bay by Patti Kryzanowski)

Purple storm clouds gather over steep mountain peaks. As the Summer storm spills over the mountain tops, sweeping down the slopes, green explodes in its wake. Fields of wild flowers, hurrying down the mountainsides.

(Alaska tundra by Patti Kryzanowski)

( San Juan mountain flowers by Steve Black)

Autumn cascades down the slopes, as fall whispers of Winter. Tucked into the valleys, aspens burst into firey oranges and yellows.

Snow clouds build, and the cycle repeats.
(Eagle Peak trail by Patti Kryzanowski)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Giveaway hosted by PrimitivePost

FREE IS GOOD..If money is little tight after the holidays, come see what you can win for FREE!!

I've teamed up with Kate of Primitive Post. Kate won a crow pillow from me in November and we've been secretly planning this giveaway since then!!
Click the link below to view all the wonderful details..
be sure to add Primitivepost to your blogs to follow.

Working on a new blog post-so please check back later!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Where in the World? dream destination

The other day I asked a friend-if you could go anywhere in the world where would you go.. his answer-oh, I don’t know….my head must have swiveled around like the possessed girl in the exorcist-because shortly after that he did come up with an answer..the Caribbean…he never asked where I would go-but I felt compelled to tell him anyway..and now I will share my dream destination with you too....we are going on a trip…

Let's pack those suitcases and catch our plane

The origins of this trip began 26 years ago..two young mothers had taken their sons to the park by the lake for a day of play..One boy was named Jamal, the other Maligiaq. At first the mothers smiled from across the playground at each other. Soon the boys began playing together..then as children do, they engaged their mothers to come push them on swings. Both moms noticed that the other was pregnant. Smiles widened..bonded by their membership in the "big belly club", the mothers began to talk as they pushed their sons into the clouds.

Later that day, they shared picnic lunches.. One mother was from Canada, the other from Greenland, and both had come to the lake park because they were missing the waters of their homelands...they both laughed at how small this "lake" was..hardly worth mentioning, the smallest of waves and no fish either..

Months went by, bellies got bigger, a season changed, friendships grew, and the babies were born..a sister for Maligiaq and a brother for Jamal.

Greenland came alive as one mother told the other stories of her country..she told of the trickery in how Iceland and Greenland were named, she remembered the canneries where she worked alongside her sisters, and the other Native women of her village. She spoke proudly of her father's dogs..and their coveted status as sled dogs in her village. She talked of getting together in humble homes darkened in the Winter light creating beatiful beadwork with the women she knew from the cannery. She painted pictures of surreal beauty..icebergs, fierce ocean waves, rocky inlets, open landscapes, and beautiful brown faces..her heart always followed her words as they faded away.

Homesickness is a powerful illness, and one day the mother from Greenland called to tell the other that she could no longer pretend that she didn't prefer the sound of wind in the trees over the sound of traffic, she could no longer pretend that she thought the pond at the park was a lake..she told the other mother...I have decided to raise my children in my village..can you please help me pack?

The children climbed in and out, playing in the empty boxes, until one by one all of the boxes were full but one. The mother from Greenland had saved the beautiful beadwork for the last box..she held it out in her hands to her Canadian friend and are my only friend here..please take something to remind you of me..but the Canadian mother could not..she was too sad to hold something that her friend had made with her beautiful hands.

The two women hugged, with tears rolling down their faces..the children looked bewildered-they had only known joy and laughter between their two mothers..The mother from Greenland spoke at last...I will always keep two of my father's sled for Jamal, another for Eric and when they come..they will have status in my village...and my people will love them as I do.

Dark Winters came to Greenland as the years passed..some letters passed between the two women..both divorced the fathers of their beautiful children..and sometimes their hearts remembered a friendship now separated by time and got in the way and they lost contact eventually.

Under the stars, years later, the Canadian mother thought of her dear friend..and was comforted to know that they still saw the same stars..she wondered if she would ever see her friend from Greenland again..just then a shooting star hurried across the night sky..assuring her that she would..

Within four short days thanks to the wonders of the Internet the friends were connected..before they hung up..the voice in Greenland said-hurry and come to Greenland..Maligiaq will take you in the sea kayak and you can see your beloved polar bears..but hurry because they don't have much time here..

and now you know why Greenland is my dream destination

Maligiaq Padilla is Greenland's champion sea kayaker and Jamal Allen played professional football in Finland, but this is the closest they have been since they once played together.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Winter fun

Nothing cures the Winter blues like FRESH put on somelottawarmthings, grab your skates, skis or a sled and head outside.

Why retreat indoors once the temperatures drop, and the snow falls? Indoctrinated into the polar bear club early in life, I was the kid bundled from head to toe with more layers than the Michelin man, who couldn't wait to get outdoors to play in the fresh snow. My dad knicknamed me Nanuq which means "polar bear" in the Inuit culture.

I always wanted to take "one more run" on the toboggan..even if it meant clambering up the hill one more time.
Did you know the derivation of the word toboggan is from a Micmac word..interesting as hockey is also attributed to the Micmac tribe.. I guess the Micmacs loved the Winter as much as I do.

Have you ever skated outdoors? Skating indoors just doesn't take your breath away like gliding over a bumpy frozen pond. My mom who was a figure skater once told me-I knew I could skate, but the first time I skated with your dad I FLEW over the ice. They were the stereotypic Canadian pair-he was a professional hockey player, she was a champion figure skater. My mom practiced skating after dark to keep her competition "in the dark" about her routines.

Skating was a family activity. Saturdays we'd pack a picnic lunch, and spend the day playing a hybrid game that was like a cross between broomball and hockey in some frozen paradise. Dad would build a fire..I don't think he knew how to make a small fire..along the snowy bank..and when we weren't warming our frozen bodies, we toasted marshmallows or burned hotdogs black.

I live for's not a time of hibernation for me.

Each of the items in this treasury remind me of some facet of Winter fun that is part of my Canadian upbringing.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Tracks in the Snow

pink dawn
tracks in newly fallen snow
holds stories of the night before

As a young child, I often accompanied my Dad deep into the Canadian wilderness. Beyond the frozen swamps, rimmed with red dogwood and blown cattails, we'd turn onto some abandoned logging road. Edged by spruce  forests, intermingled with white birch, these roads went everywhere and nowhere at the same time. In the open clearings carved out by ancient glaciers or more recent logging, my training as a naturalist began. You see, back then there was no "Animal Planet", or "Discovery Channel" to teach you the wonders of nature....and as it was, we had no TV back then anyway. So in all honesty, my degree in Biology didn't start my first semester at CU..but rather the first time I stepped onto a logging road....

Awakening swamp 

According to my dad, "quiet" was the best voice for the bush.  The forest had its own voice..the wind in the tops of the tall pines, the cracking of ice, the whir of a startled grouse..and the caw of the raven..enticing you deeper into its world...quiet...listening to that voice.

When my dad did speak, it was often without words..pointing out things with a quick sideways toss of his head, or holding up his mittened hand to stop me from startling a resting animal, or squatting to examine the tracks in the fresh snow.

Snowy impressions of owl wings left in the pursuit of a foraging mouse

signs of a lone wolf stalking an aging moose

bobcat gliding over a snowy hill to get a better view

the hidden refuge of a where a buck had bedded down

 meandering tracks of a fox flushing his breakfast

leaving the woods,  my heart will forever step in the tracks of my Dad
(all items shown may be purchased..just follow the track..aka links)


Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Great Snowflake Debate

I was born to be a Scientist... to question, postulate and  investigate was the norm for my inquisitive brain even as a child.  As soon as the first snowflake fell each Winter, I was on a mission to disprove the theory that "No two snowflakes are alike".

If 20 trillion snowflakes fall in an average snowstorm, then two snowflakes will be exactly alike.

To investigate the possibility that two snowflakes may be exactly alike, snowflakes will be captured on a plain colour mitten and examined for  characteristics.

To investigate the possibility that two snowflakes may be exactly alike, snowflakes will be captured on a plain colour mitten and examined for similarities.  Child will stand with mittened hands outstretched, palms up during a snowstorm. Snowflakes will be caught on the palm of the mitten for 20 minutes. Snowflakes are generally six sided crystals, so each side will be examined and its shape recorded.  After collection, the data will be examined over a cup of hot cocoa.

One pair of plain  Navy coloured hand knit wool mittens with attached idiot string
Two warm snowsuits
One pair of child's Winter boots, hand me downs acceptable
One pair of adult's Winter boots
Two pair of handknit wool socks
Two woolen scarves  wrapped tightly over the face of investigator and recorder
Two Winter parkas
Canadian child, age 5
Recorder, adult of any age willing to stand out in the snowstorm
One snowstorm
Hot cocoa
Mini Marshmallows

Sample size: 50 snowflakes were examined and characteristics were recorded. During the investigative period, four snowballs were made, and thrown between the investigator and recorder. Approximately 28 snowflakes were consumed before they fell to the ground. No yellow snow was eaten.

Investigator ran all over the yard, chasing snowflakes. Investigator noted that some snowflakes melted too quickly to be examined.

From a sample size of 50  beautifully formed snowflakes, no two snowflakes were found to be exactly alike, but all snowflakes do TASTE exactly alike.
A parent who is willing to brave the elements to support a child with an investigative brain knows the importance of being a parent..thank you Dad..
A parent who makes the hot chocolate with mini marshmallows to warm you up after the experiment knows the importance of being a parent..thank you Mom.

Mittens, snowflakes and hot cocoa mix can be purchased from the featured etsy shops by following the links listed

Saturday, January 1, 2011

WELCOME to 2011

Blessings to all 
Happy New Year and welcome to my brand new blog

January 1st..this is the day where reflections  of the past years intersect with opportunities for change and new experiences in this and years to come

So after working to design a new blog, I'm sitting here looking out at the snow, enjoying a cup of herbal tea..yes I gave up caffeine..thinking about the following:
what did I learn...what new thing can I learn...where have I been and what did I accomplish in the prior year..what lies can I be a better person...what  needs my attention

As you may have guessed...becoming a blogger is my "new thing to learn".  I'm one of those old dogs who has managed to learn a few computer skills, but always looking to improve.

This blog will be a reflection of my life experiences as  a person, a mother,  a friend, an artist, a gardener, a tomboy and a Biologist..and will include subjects as varied as my, cool Biology lessons, life experiences, artistic endeavors, home decorating tips, introductions to my favs, my weight loss journey, pet stories, and..well just follow along and you'll see

Stay tuned for an exciting giveaway from my shop later this month

Walk in peace