An Easter Sunday Poem

Warbler on tree

The Whole Story

Behind that stone before
it was rolled away
a corpse lay.
There lay all I deplore:
fear, truculence – much more
that to any other I need not say.
But behind that stone I must be sure
of deadness, to allay
self-doubt i.e. so nearly to ignore
the love and sacrifice for our
release; to nearly stray
back into the old
pursuit of virtue.

Once it is clear
it was a corpse that day,
then, then, we know the glory
of the clean place, the floor
of rock, those linens, know the hour
of His inexplicable “Peace;” the pour
— after He went away —
of wonder, readiness, simplicity,
given.

                             –– Margaret Avison

 

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A Movie to Celebrate Canada Day

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers!

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, and pay tribute to the Canadian spirit, I’d like to recommend the movie Maudie, about the folk art painter Maud Lewis (1903-1970). Born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Maud lived with her brother Charles in their family house until he sold it. In the movie, Maud overhears Charles telling their Aunt Ida he will pay her to accommodate and look after Maud in her home.

Maudie

Born with a small frame, disfigured facial features and deformed fingers, Maud suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis as an adult. Such handicaps however do not cripple Maud’s sanguine spirit and fierce independence. While staying at her Aunt’s place, she answers an ad for a housekeeper posted on the bulletin board of the local store. She jumps at the opportunity as she sees it as a way to move out of her Aunt’s and strive for her own independence.

The house that needs a housekeeper is home to Everett Lewis, a fish peddler in the village of Marshalltown, on Nova Scotia’s northwestern shore. Everett’s abode is a cramped, one-room hut with no running water or electricity. With her arthritic hands Maud cleans the floorboards and tends to Everett’s daily needs, cooking on the wood stove and bearing with Everett’s demeaning outbursts. The rule of the house is, he first, then his dogs, his chickens, and lastly, Maud.

Does Maud feel defeated? Well sure, but just temporarily. Her resilient and cheerful spirit can move even a mountain of a misanthrope. Not long after, she and Everett got married. “A pair of odd socks,” she says of their seemingly incompatible personalities. We hear it often nowadays, “diversity is strength”. The Lewis’s household is evidence to that.

And of course, there’s the economic factor.

Maud turns Everett’s dingy house into a pleasant abode. She begins to paint on every surface: the walls, windows, door, stove, washbasin with lively flowers, birds, and whatever she sees in nature. She also picks up small, discarded wood boards to paint scenery and snowscapes. Not long after, a sign “Paintings for Sale” is placed outside their tiny house to diversify the household economy.

Deer painting

Maud is one successful entrepreneur. Her folksy paintings soon draw the attention of passers by; the cheerfully decorated little house on the wayside soon becomes a stop for designated shopping and repeat customers, a point of interest for visitors. Later, it becomes a converging site for news crews and journalists. Each piece of board painting is sold for about five to six dollars, a card, 10 cent. Everett is the finance minister and holds the purse strings.

The movie presents Maud’s story with beautiful and absorbing cinematography. The pace is slow, allowing viewers to immerse in the outwardly harsh life of Maud’s, in contrast to her vibrant spirit and life-affirming talents. A tiny window is a frame of the world outside. The last part of the film comes to a sad note as Maud succumbs to illness of the lungs.

Now, to the making of the movie. The subject is Canadian, Maud Lewis is very much a Canadian folk art icon, her works are in the collection of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The filming location is Newfoundland and Labrador. But note this: the movie is helmed by Irish director Aisling Walsh (BAFTA nom Fingersmith, 2005), Maud is played by the English actor Sally Hawkins (Oscar nom Blue Jasmine, 2013), Everett is played by American actor Ethan Hawke (Oscar nom Boyhood, 2014). If I were a protectionist ruler, I wouldn’t have let them come in to make it.

But then again, this is Canada, eh?

 

~ ~ ~ 1/2 RIPPLES

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RELATED POST ON RIPPLE EFFECTS:

Séraphine and the wrought-iron chair 

 

 

 

 

Finally, Spring!

The last few days have been the warmest, welcome sign that our waiting is finally over. Just a few degrees above zero, but enough for me to venture out to the woods and go on my first birding walk. I had to tread squeaky, slushy paths of melting snow and ice.

Here are some views. These photos were taken just last Friday April 4. Melting icicles dripping into the icy creek. Yes, this is spring for us. No flowers yet, not even green grass. But this is promise enough:

Melting Icicles

 

Last fall they dominated the sky, but I’d missed the Canada Geese through the long, silent winter. Surprised to find these two here enjoying the cool spot, weren’t bothered a bit by my intrusion:

Canada Geese

Up close and personal… Welcome back!

Up Close and Personal

 

The Chickadee never flew away. But I’m sure she’s glad with the warming up:

Chickadee

 

The Bohemian Waxwings stay in the winter and moves north after the cold. But the Cedar Waxwings’s arrival from the south heralds spring:

 

Cedar Waxwings

Silky fine spring look worthy of any fashion magazine cover:

 

Cedar Waxwing

More spring birding photos coming up on Saturday Snapshot.

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All Photos taken by Arti of Ripple Effects, April, 2014.
Do Not Copy or Reblog

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Saturday Snapshot Nov. 16: Magical Realism

At first, what drew my attention were the birds on top of the distant trees, sillouetted against the predawn sky. What were they?

Before SunriseBefore Sunrise 1Must be the hardy European Starlings, I thought. My birding instinct prodded me to get out of the house to find out, at 7:30 am, in -13C temperature.

As I got closer, their buzzing sound reminded me that I’d heard them before, in flocks, making sounds almost like cicadas, but lighter, more metallic and electric. By then, morning had broken. Indeed, they were not Starlings but Waxwings.

Morning has brokenThe sun shed its glorious light and I was much gratified to see that all those plump bellies were not Cedar Waxwings which I’d seen in the summer. From their grey pot belly, I could tell they were Bohemian Waxwings. Of course, they will be spending their winter here. The Cedar Waxwings had all gone south.

Bohemian WaxwingsWhat attracted them to our neighborhood? My stalking skill led me to find out. Ah… berries:

Frozen berriesIt was a delight watching them feast on these frozen fruits for breakfast:

Bohemian WaxwingsGot it!

Got itAnother oneSoon, washed by the glowing sunrise, their greyish plumage began to change into a magnificent color. No CGI (computer-generated images) here:

No CGIJust pure magical realism:

Washed by the morning sun

Magical Realism

Bohemian Sunrise

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy Reads. CLICK HERE to see what others have posted.

ALL PHOTOS IN THIS POST TAKEN BY ARTI OF RIPPLE EFFECTS, NOVEMBER, 2013. PLEASE DO NOT COPY OR REBLOG.

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Munro and Movies

Thanks to the Swedish Academy, Alice Munro doesn’t need a blockbuster movie to raise awareness of her works. Described by The New York Times as ‘Master of the Intricacies of the Human Heart’, and with her story settings mostly in rural counties and small towns, the 82 year-old writer must have known how the small and intimate can have far-reaching effects.

The short story as a literary form too must have gained importance and legitimation overnight now that Munro is honored as Nobel Laureate. The novel isn’t the only peak of the mountain of literary pursuits. Readers too, can now be totally comfortable with reading ‘just a short story’.

Back to movies, with our contemporary mega, blockbuster culture, it sure looks like the general public need to see a movie before knowing about a literary work. While I don’t like the idea, I’ve to admit that could well be the case nowadays. But for Munro, can anyone name a full feature movie that’s based on her short stories?

Right. Actually there are four. Edge of Madness (2002) is relatively unknown. Another one interestingly is an Iranian film, Canaan, which won the Audience Awards–Best Film at the Fajr International Film Festival in 2008. A better known adaptation is Away From Her (2006). It remains one of my all time favorite films. The most recent completed production is Hateship Loveship which premiered at TIFF13. I regret missing it when I was there in September. A film based on her story ‘Runaway’ is currently in development.

With Munro winning the Nobel, hopefully we’ll have the chance to see a general release of Hateship Loveship. So there you go, Munro could well be helping to reverse the trend: the writer promoting the film.

To celebrate Munro’s Nobel win, I’d like to repost in the following a review of Away From Her which I wrote in 2008. The film was directed by the young and talented Canadian actor/director Sarah Polley, who was nominated for an Oscar for her adapted screenplay based on Munro’s short story ‘The Bear Came Over the Mountain’. Julie Christie received an Oscar nomination for her role as Alzheimer’s afflicted Fiona.

You can read Munro’s story ‘The Bear Came Over the Mountain’ now online, thanks to a timely reprint by The New Yorker.

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Capri_AwayFromHer_PosterB

AWAY FROM HER: A Short Review

How can you turn a good short story into a full length movie without compromising its quality? By turning it into a screenplay written by an equally sensitive and passionate writer, and then, through her own talented, interpretive eye, re-creates it into a visual narrative. Along the way, throw in a few veteran actors who are so passionate about what the script is trying to convey that they themselves embody the message.

Sarah Polley has made her directorial debut with a most impressive and memorable feat that I’m sure things will go even better down her career path. What she has composed on screen speaks much more poignantly than words on a page, calling forth sentiments that we didn’t even know we had. As Alzheimer’s begins to take control over Fiona, what can a loving husband do? Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent stir up thoughts in us that we’d rather bury: how much are we willing to give up for love? Or, how would we face the imminence of our loved ones’ and our own mental and physical demise?

Based on the story by Alice Munro, ‘The Bear Came Over the Mountain’, Polley brings out the theme of unconditional love not with your typical Hollywood’s hot, young, and sexy on screen, but aging actors in their 60’s and 70’s. It may not be as pleasurable to watch wrinkled faces hugging and kissing, or a man and a woman in bed, bearing age spots and all, but such scenes effectively beg the question: why feel uncomfortable?

Why does love has to be synonymous with youth, beauty, and romance? It is even more agonizing to watch how far Grant is willing to go solely for love of Fiona. Lucky for us, both writers spare us the truly painful at the end. It is through persistent, selfless giving that one ultimately receives; however meager and fleeting that reward may seem, it is permanence in the eyes of love. And it is through the lucid vision of a youthful 28-year-old writer/director that such ageless love is vividly portrayed…. Oh, the paradoxes in life.

~ ~ ~ Ripples

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Saturday Snapshot May 18: The Bow

The Bow is the newest addition to our downtown cityscape. Design architects are the acclaimed, London-based Foster and Partners. This new kid on the block has put Cowtown Calgary on the map as it is recently named one of The World’s Most Spectacular Corporate Buildings by the German building database Emporis.

You can see how spectacular it is on Foster and Partners’ website with their professional presentation. But for Arti, the Cowtown inhabitant roaming in the midst of the buzz and the dust, weaving through busy downtown traffic, these snapshots are personal and authentic, no posing, and believe it or not, shot with just her iPhone:

The Bow 1

The Bow is named after the river that winds through our City. So it’s apt to design the building in a crescent shape, fluid as the river, and shaped like a bow:

The Bow 2

A bit closer now, you can see the art installation in front of the building. It’s a 12 m. tall wire sculpture entitled ‘Wonderland’, created by the renowned Barcelona-based designer Jaume Plensa whose works can be found all over the world:

The Bow 3

It’s the head of a girl, intriguing when you think of the title ‘Wonderland’. Why, of course, it must be a wonder to enter someone’s head. Here, you can do that through a door. See the green balloon inside her nose?

Wonderland

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. Click Here to see what other bloggers have posted.

Saturday Snapshot: Gliding Into The Sunset

On Thanksgiving Monday (Canada, Oct. 8), I stopped by Iona Beach in Richmond, B.C.  On the smooth water illuminated in a golden hue were Mallards gliding into the sunset.

The common Sparrow too was swept in an amber tone. In that frame, nothing seemed common anymore.

And finally, I saw the sun slide down the distant sky. What a sight to wrap up Thanksgiving. If anything’s common… it’s common grace.

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.

A Note About These Photos: No colours had been added nor saturation altered in any of them.

Saturday Snapshot Sept. 29: Canada Geese

While I was birdwatching this week, I saw a flock of Canada Geese fly overhead in perfect V formation. With my recently trained quick reaction, I pointed my camera up, framed them so beautifully in my viewfinder, and CLICK. Shoot, my camera was turned off. Another quick reaction, I turned it back on and tried again… catching the tail end of the troop.

Here it is, better late than never:

Thanks to Alyce of At Home With Books for hosting Saturday Snapshot, let me have a chance to hone my eye-hand coordination.

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Tomorrow September 30 is our Anna Karenina Read-Along First Post: Parts 1-4. Stop by again to join in the discussion and make some ripples.

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A Whole New World: Saturday Snapshot September 15

An Autumn birdwatching course I just started brings me to a whole new world I haven’t explored before. Of course I’ve observed birds, appreciated and even photographed them occasionally, but never so up close and personal, and purposeful.

Some in my group are equipped with long 400mm lens, nature paparazzi. But we leave nature be, of course, and being so far away from our subjects, no invasion of privacy. This pensive Gull isn’t a bit bothered by us.

With just a 50-200mm lens, this is the best I can do. The Osprey is harder to capture of course. With a little help from iPhoto, here’s a closer look of her/him perched high up in a tree, and even farther cruising in the bright blue sky.

I can only wonder why it has taken me so long to come to such a fascinating world. 12 more weeks to go, yes, into the snow likely.

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.

What If… A Northern Nativity

The late Canadian artist William Kurelek embraced a nativity that’s beyond time and culture. In his children book A Northern Nativity, he envisioned through a little Prairie boy’s dreams the various scenarios: what if Christ was born in the land of deep snow in an Inuit community, or what if Mary and Joseph, homeless on our streets, had to take shelter in a soup kitchen, what if… Would we have noticed? Would we even care?

This is a moving video clip on the paintings in Kurelek’s children book A Northern Nativity, accompanied by Chris de Burgh’s touching piano music “When Winter Comes”.

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And to All, A Merry Christmas!


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Looking for “Intrusions of Grace” in Nature

This may be the easiest to find, especially with our glorious fall this year. Not intrusions, but infusion of common grace. I’m amazed because everywhere I turn, I see beauty that’s out there and so accessible to me. Like their raison d’etre is for me to behold and enjoy. From the macro scale like these scenery at Banff National Park:

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To the medium range, nature in our city streets:

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To the micro scale. Last long weekend, I walked the Douglas Fir Trail. Again, I’m grateful for our urban parks:

And what an apt occasion, Thanksgiving Day, for me to discover all these minute wonders on the Trail. First, the colours:

Nature in the miniscule… the varieties of berries. Black against red:

Red against green:

And these pure whites like pearls in the undergrowth:

And the vibrant lives on two fallen twigs… I was mesmerized:

If we’re intruded by grace, I’m more than willing to give in.

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All photos taken by Arti of Ripple Effects in the fall of 2011. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Signs of Fall

The changing of the seasons is best captured in nature. Immersed in the glorious sunshine and unusually mild temperatures, I took these photos in my neck of the woods on the last day of summer. Yes, I’ve enjoyed my occasional trips out to the B.C. Coast, or my excursions in Toronto, where the sign of fall is the Film Festival. But I’ve been solidly grounded all these years in Southern Alberta.

Here are the reasons…

These are glimpses of Fish Creek Provincial Park, a natural sanctuary of 13.8 km2 (3,330 acres) right within our City’s boundary. It is one of the largest urban parks in North America. This is where I see the signs of fall, Alberta style.

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I won’t see the red as in B.C. or the East Coast where maples are prevalent, but here our own golden, rusty shades are soothing and ethereal. Remember the colour scheme in that movie “Far From Heaven” with Julianne Moore, or Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven“?  Funny that both films have the same word in their title.

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And with succulent fruits ready for the picking, here’s a sure sign of fall:

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All Photos taken by Arti of Ripple Effects, September, 2011.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

For more wonderful fall photos CLICK HERE to my post Looking for ‘Intrusions of Grace’ in Nature