File Folder Art Journal

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My latest large size art journal I made from file folders from the recycle box at work and a family size Cherrios box. It is still a work in progress.

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Rainbow Woman

© by Bella Lori Gagnon, June 2012, Winnipeg, MB

I am as diverse as the colours in a rainbow.  Sometimes I am warm and bright, yellow and hot, the sun.  Other times I am orange and gay, bright and bold, a poppy blowing in the morning breeze.  Sometimes I am calm and mellow green, rejuvenating.   I can be passion red, vibrant, powerful.  Other times I am cool, calm, palest blue or intense peacock azure, a tropical ocean reef.  Sometimes I am very royal, all purple, violet and indigo.  I can be white, pure, cold and driven or I can black, dark, mysterious and magical.  I can also be the many shades of grey between black and white.  Soft cloud gray, billowing and enveloping, comfortable “sweats” grey, soft fleece against cold skin.  Then I can be dark, gloomy grey, piling thunder clouds just waiting to burst with dramatic forks, flashes and claps, driving rain and maybe some hail pelting down.  No matter what colour I am on any given day, I will open my arms to embrace my rainbow women.

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Pink Snow, Red Jelly

© by Bella Lori Gagnon, March 2012, Winnipeg, MB

Every spring, the crab apple tree in the back yard of the house I grew up in, would turn into a gloriously queenly profusion of sweetly scented pale pink blossoms.  That softly sweet smell, seductively hinted at something more to come, if one could only be patient.

The magical display would bless us for a few precious days and then it would happen.  A hearty spring wind would blow in during the early hours of the morning and it snowed soft pale pink petals. I would awake, and look out of the dining room window through sleepy eyes, to discover the green lawn had disappeared under an inch of the fresh pink spring snow.

It was to a young child, quite extraordinary.

Spring would run into summer, the pink snow long blown or washed away by spring breezes and rain showers.  By then, that crab apple tree would be loaded with small green fruit.  As the long hot days of summer meandered on, I never paid it much attention.  I was too busy; riding my bike, playing in my sandbox, trying to stay cool by spending hours running through the lawn sprinkler, skipping, and playing hopscotch and hide and seek with the neighbourhood gang.

However, as autumn approached, it did not escape my notice that the apples had ripened into a deep, almost burgundy red.  I always dared to eat a few, despite my Mom’s warning that they were sour and would give me a belly ache.  And so they were, sour that is.  I never ate enough to get the warned of belly ache and I thought them much better tasting than the berries off the honeysuckle bushes.  I was not supposed to eat those either, but I always snuck a few despite the, “they are poisonous” warning from a worried faced Mom.

When the crab apples started to fall off the tree, I along with my Dad, where given a plastic pail by Mom and we started to pick the crab apples.  I did all the lower branches where I could reach, and Dad and Mom did the higher branches.   Dad always insisted that we get every single apple so they would not fall into the lawn, rot, and make a mess.

I secretly kept a few aside and when no one was looking, I laid them along the sidewalk at the side of the house for the crows.   They did not seem to think them so sour as to get a bellyache.  They would gleefully eat as many as I would put there for them.

After the picking, the kitchen would become a beehive of activity, and I was always warned to stay out from underfoot.  The kitchen counter was lined with recently boiled jelly jars and a big pot simmered on the stove.  Mom, wearing the obligatory bib and skirt apron, would be busy pulling stems off the crab apples.   Then she would boil them up along with sugar and other, unknown to me, ingredients.  I would often watch from the back landing.   Sitting on the landing steps, I watched as she worked, seeing that wonderful smelling bright red goo that the apples had turned into, being ladled into all those small glass jars.

The wonder of the spring blossoms and pink snow had been painstakingly changed into red jelly, a treasure to be enjoyed all winter on morning toast or before bedtime on homemade biscuits.

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The Window

© by Bella Lori Gagnon,  2010,  Winnipeg, MB       For Sara

Through my good eye, the one that is not swollen shut, I watch the spring day unfold.  Through streaks of dirt, the sun’s light shines it warmth on my face, a healing force to the wounds and bruises it finds there.  I dare a small smile at the squirrels that are just outside my window.  They jubilantly chase each other through the trees that are sporting new spring greenery.  I am filled with a hard longing to be out in that sunshine, to be running free like those squirrels.  The front door a story below slams shut and swearing and heavy footsteps assault my ears.  I turn away from the glimpse of freedom the window has so fleetingly provided.  I now face my jailor in the doorway.  A drunken, brute of a husband, who after time at the bar with his friends, is always ready to lay a beating on.

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Blue and Pink Letters

© by Lori Gagnon,    February 18, 2012,  Winnipeg, MB

Written at Seasons of the Heart Transformative Writing work shop, Winnipeg, MB

Because you loved me, I long to look back over the long meandering letters you wrote to me when I was a young girl.  Your penmanship was a hard to decipher scrawling scratch that filled every inch, front and back, top to bottom of thin, crisp blue airmail sheets.  Often, there were three or four of them packed in each blue envelope I received from your Niagara Falls address.  You were my first contact with a free flow writer.  You wrote straight from your heart to the page, no worries about spelling, grammar, or punctuation.  Your sentences often meandered for over a page.  How magically wonderful!

You probably never knew what those letters meant to a young girl who felt inadequate in so many ways. In those days before cell phones, iPads, email, Twitter and Facebook, before there was even a telephone in every room in the house, letters were a major deal in personal communication.  Our household’s phone was located on a table in the busy hallway between the living room, the front door and the kitchen. It held no allure as a private or personal means of communication.  But a letter, personally delivered by the local mail man, that was an eagerly awaited for treasure.

You were my first and best pen pal.  Like Transformative writing power notes, I would read your letters at least twice, once for my head and once for my heart.  Sitting at the kitchen table, with eager hands I would open the blue packet.  Then I would read it to Mom, a kind of requirement at the stage of my childhood.  Private anything was not encouraged then or at any other time come to think of it.  She would listen while she puttered between the sink and the stove, commenting occasionally, but mostly just giving her head a nod here and there.  That was the once for my head.  Then as soon as I had the chance I would retreat to me room, grab my favorite blanket and a flashlight and head for the closet.  Enfolded in fuzzy green and purple stripped wool, flashlight held between my knees, I would sit in the dark and I would read your letter again, glorious word by word.  That was the once for my heart.  In reality, each and every one of your letters would be read over and over and over.

Do I now remember the content of even one of those beloved blue epistles?  I do not.  What I do remember is how they made a little girl feel, like I mattered, like I was special, that I was old enough to have a personal correspondence with an adult.

Writing letters back to my Grandma Doris was my own first experience of writing.  I remember buying airmail letters that were paper and envelope all in one at Couton’s Variety Store.  It was very important in those bygone days to use airmail stationary to save on postage.  I would have a hard time containing everything I wanted to write to her in the confines of those blue folding airmail paper and envelope combinations.  What a joy when I got my first real stationary to write my letters to her on.  Peony pink paper with matching envelopes packaged in a folding clear plastic folder.  It gave me the freedom to write as many pages as I wanted to, freedom to write until I had nothing else to say.

To this day, pink stationary always reminds me of Grandma Doris, my childhood muse.

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Valentines Stories – February Diamonds in the Rough

Thursday, Feb 9, 2012 Diamond in the Rough (Transformative Writing Alumni) Meeting, at Gaylene’s @7:40 pm

The theme tonight is angels and the many faces of love.  The trigger table is a collection of lovely small angel statues, all doing something or holding something different.  Our writing table is ablaze with angel candle holders down it’s center.

Focus Reading – “Things I learned about Friendship, Love & Life”, author unknown.

I am aware that on a scale of 1-10, I am about a 7.  I feel I should be a lot lower because I am still grieving the loss of my Dad.  However, being with my “Diamonds” will always take me up 3 or 4 or even 5 points on my 1-10 scale.   Reading, writing, sharing, could anything ever be better?

I chose the phrase “I’ve learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words.  It may be the last time you see them.” from the focus reading.  I feel I have done that with my parents.  I spent a lot of time doing that the last few years and now that they are both gone,  I take comfort in feeling I have no regrets where they are concerned.  Regret can be such an overwhelming waste of time and energy.  My need for tonight, my intention, is to start to reconnect to writing beyond spilling out raw emotion on to the page.

Affirmation: I am reconnecting to writing in a place beyond spilling out raw emotion onto to the page.

Readers Forum: everyone in the group tonight read a piece of their writing.  Unplanned, everyone’s writing, spoke in different ways about angles and/or the many faces of love.

As we end the evening, I am taking with me, a renewed, precious, and heartfelt love of angels and the many faces of love.  Love of chocolate, we actually had chocolate treats tonight.  Love of all the angels that watch over us and guide us to put pen to paper, guide us to paint personal and vivid word paintings of the many faces of love we have experienced.  Its joys, it sorrows, it’s peaks and valleys, it rawness and it’ warm fuzzy comfort.  Being a member of the Diamonds is like having my own personal group of writing angels.  As we write, share, listen to each other’s words, we are each to the others, guardian angels of this precious gift of writing.  My angel from the trigger table is playing a flute, notes of simple sweetness that enfold us, protect us, give us permission to speak and write our truth.  “Angels Watching Over Me” springs to my mind, the hymn we used for baptisms at St. Paul’s when I lived in Churchill.  We are all in this group of writing angels, baptized by love.  Love of writing, love of sharing, and love of supporting each other.

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My China Cabinet

© by Lori Gagnon, Feb 4, 2012 in Winnipeg, MB

my wedding flowers and cake top

favourite wedding photo and framed certificate

sit proudly atop where all can see

the bride doll from my wedding shower

10th anniversary champagne flutes and

painted rock from that second honeymoon

four flowered, burgundy banded, 22 kt gold trimmed plates

taken from the cabin at Falcon Lake

the middle shelf do proudly stand

with 2 china cups Mrs. Wells gave

Gramma Clayton’s silver topped china jam server

a pinwheel crystal pickle dish

a wedding gift from a previous marriage

Gramma Farebrother’s yellow rose tea set

bought by my Dad and handed down to me

the top shelf do adorn

Gramma Clayton’s old serving platter

and another from AAA consignment

four dollars, a steal of a deal

a yellow rose candy dish from eBay

Jeff’s Town of Churchill mantle clock

crystal claimed when clearing out Mom & Dad’s house

the bottom shelf holds dear

a service for two of Royal Doulton Sherbrooke

one crystal liquor decanter

and 4 matching crystal glasses

a wedding gift from my marriage to Jeff

a wedding gift of mother of pearl handled silverware

for Gramma that Grampa Clayton made himself

middle drawers in the bottom lovingly store

along side a service of shiny new silverware

placemats, napkins, and table pads

seasonal table cloths and scraves

and a ceramic ashtray Jeff’s Gramma made

Mom & Dad’s wedding china given

by Gramma & Grampa Clayton sit

in the cupboards either side of the drawers

a service for twelve with one only one cup missing

a life time of family gatherings and celebrations

witness to birthday, Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners

I listen for the remembered stories they hold

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