This is Michelena Quinta Morris, nee D'Amico. My grandma, also known as Maggie, was born in Nordegg, Alberta on April 17, 1922. She was the fifth of six children born to her Italian immigrant parents.
She had a happy childhood and a life that was filled with hard work, music, and dancing. She loved music and she learned to dance as she stood on her father's feet. She met the love of her life, Albert Morris, in the coal mining town of Nordegg, Alberta. They were high school sweethearts and stayed sweethearts all their lives. Grandma and Papa moved to Calgary in 1955 after living in Nordegg for 33 years. They had three daughters, Frances, Maxine, and Patricia. She had eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren who all loved their Italian Nona. My grandma had so many talents. She drafted patterns and sewed for herself, her daughters, and her grandchildren. She planted a vegetable garden and shared it with all of us. Her homemade pasta and sauce, strawberry jam, and Italian doughnuts were the definition of home.
My grandma was funny, strong, kind, generous, and very compassionate. Her door was always open and she loved to help others. She was always our biggest supporter and took pride in all of our accomplishments. She had a beautiful smile and always had a twinkle in her eye. She was very proud of her Italian heritage. She loved dancing but mostly loved to dance with my Grandpa. They were true partners in every aspect of their lives, which was a great example for all of us. She passed away at the age of 92 in 2015, just 2 days before her 93rd birthday. She left a strong legacy of family and love.
I know that I got my love of crafts and making hand made items from my mom. My whole life, my mom has been making the most beautiful creations. One of my most favourite crafts she made was stuffed pantyhose faces and felt name letters. Each face was created to look like the person receiving it with attention to detail for the hair, beards, noses etc. She always added something that represented their hobby, job or passion. Tiny dance shoes, a little golf club, a teachers Apple, or a soccer ball. I wish I still had mine but I lost it in a house fire when I was a kid.
~ Christine Taylor
I was thrilled to find out that my painting 'Blue Shoes' was accepted into this year's 10² exhibit at the Federation Gallery in Vancouver. Throughout this difficult time, my work has been exhibited around western Canada and for that I am beyond grateful. Because of these exhibits, the paintings have also found new homes around Canada and the world. This exhibit will be accessible at the gallery on Granville Island as well as being online. This is a fun exhibit as it is always interesting to see how other artists use that size and shape of space to create works that represent their genre.
Recently I had the privilege of creating a painting as an award for the Amazing Airdrie Women Awards for AirdrieLIFE magazine. The Publisher, my good friend Sherry Shaw-Froggatt, asked for a piece that embodied caring, community & women and this was the image that came to mind. Hugging one another is tantamount to human connection, and now that we are not allowed to be close to one another in this time I felt that this image was strong symbol of caring, community & women. My daughter is a school teacher who is currently working on her Masters Thesis on neuroscience in education and so many studies show that physical touch is an extremely important part of brain developement. This week was the virtual gala and the recipient of the Amazing Workplace Award was Community Links, whose slogan is Strong Individuals, Strong Families, as they connect people in the community with services, supports and necessary resources. This feels so appropriate.
Born: May 28, 1908 at Gladys Ridge, Alberta
My Grandma Laura came from a large family. She had 11 siblings. She and her fraternal twin sister were born on May 28, 1908. My dad’s mom was born in Saskatchewan. My grandmother Laura’s childhood home is still standing. Growing up in a large family meant helping-out a great deal. She went to school until grade 8 but, then had to quit and work. She worked on her older brother’s farm as well as helping at home. She met my Grandpa Lindsay and they were married when she was 26. It was 1934 so she lived through the depression. My grandparents did what they could to find work. They worked as a team on a farm, where my grandpa was a ranch hand and my grandma cooked and cleaned. They belonged to a Young People’s Society which was a social group. They did many fun things such as dancing, sled rides, and even being the leads in plays! Eventually, they moved to the Turner Valley area still in Alberta where my grandpa worked in the oil fields. My grandma stayed home and looked after her daughter (my mom Fay). The areas around there were known as “Little Chicago” and “Little New York”. They moved to Aldersyde Alberta where they had a farm. They stayed there for several years and then moved into Rocky Mountain House. My grandma stayed home but took in boarders to make some extra money. They were young women who were just starting out their careers. She was instrumental in helping these young ladies become settled and established in Rocky. Finally, she joined my grandpa as a custodian at the high school. I have many great memories of going to the high school and running around as they worked. My grandparents only had one child, so we did so many things together. I have many fond memories of all our summer camping trips, going to her house after school to eat home baked cookies. She made thousands of cookies as she knew my grandpa loved them! She only lived block away from me, so I spent a lot of time wither her. She was a a very loving and caring grandmother. I have so many fond memories of watching put on her makeup and do her hair, making Christmas dinner, baking bread, crocheting and the list goes on. She was a great lady who did so much for others. She died on May 9, 1986 at 78 years of age. I miss her to this day.
~ Colleen Mckenzie
The latest mural created by artists from everywhere is now complete and the tiles are being auctioned in support of artists everywhere and can be accessed here: https://www.muralmosaic.com/product-category/auction/ - it will conclude November 24 for Christmas delivery. Every winning bidder receives a print of the mural along with their original! It was a real privilege to contribute of our beloved basset hound Daisy (my painting is tile #14). I also wanted to share this message by Mural Mosaic coordinator Phil Alain:
“In a time never before experienced in modern history where the world is basically shut down from an invisible enemy we are forced to stay home wondering what each day will bring. As we quarantine ourselves, our pets are becoming (and in some ways have always been) our greatest form of therapy.
In February 2019 I lost my wife to cancer, in January 2020 I lost my Dad to heart failure and now the coronavirus has taken over the world. My little family, including two children under the age of 10, desperately needed something positive to latch on to. That is when one little Terrier came into our lives and has helped keep our heads high and brought smile after smile to my children’s faces through some very challenging days.
As my dog lay his head on my lap one evening I realized, our family cannot be the only one’s feeling the emotional strength of the dog .There was no denying the incredible therapy he was providing for us in such a difficult time. It was then that we decided at Mural Mosaic that we need to take this challenging time to celebrate this beautiful animal through art.
Looking back, one of the most enjoyable murals we ever created was “The Horse Gift 2008” . Over 150 artists from around the world uniting their love for horses while in the process reflecting a love and support for each other that formed a camaraderie that still exists to this day. We have always been so appreciative of the connection we had with the artists through that mural and one day wanted to create another similar project.
With our lives all screeched to a halt, travel basically eliminated and all art shows cancelled. We realized one positive we have been given is the gift of time. Time to bring together artists once again and create something remarkable.
So follow along with us over the next few month’s as we take this time of uncertainty to celebrate the certainty of what many have stated for centuries. The certainty of the dog- “Humankind’s Best friend.”
Want to spark your inner Creative? Laura Staisiunas invited me to speak at an interview series called Spirituality and Creativity Summit 2020: Get out of your head and into discovering the wild woman within. She gathered a number of experts whose passion is helping individuals look at creativity through different lenses! They talk about areas like where they find inspiration, how they overcome resistance and connect to their creative space, what’s their process been like in finding their voice, and much more. Experts in the fields of the visual arts, energetic creativity, and vibrational expression share their journey through engaging and sincere conversation. If you are interested, sign up is free at https://spiritualityandcreativity.com/vefu
Katarzyna Angelika (Kosciuk) Fujarczuk was born in Lopatyn, Galicia (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) in 1896. Lopatyn is north-east of L'viv (L'vov, Lemberg), in what is now Ukraine. It was Poland when my father was born there in 1926 and later partitioned off to the Soviet Union. (Without getting into all the politics, this area of the world has been overrun by one country or another since, it seems, the beginning of time. Even now, Putin marched in and took over the Crimean Peninsula and is behind the civil war going on in eastern Ukraine.) She grew up on a small farm and, as her brother had left for Germany (At least, that's what my aunt told me.), it was left to her when her father died. She had two younger sisters but I do not even know their names nor what became of them. My grandmother was illiterate. She was bilingual, though, "just in the wrong languages" was the family joke; she was fluent in Ukrainian and Polish. This made communication with her grandchildren difficult as none were taught to speak either. She married my grandfather, Stanislaw Fujarczuk around 1923, and she always claimed my grandfather only married her to get the farm so he could sell it. (Had they remained in Ukraine, they would have suffered the Holodymor and Stalin's oppression.) He came to Canada in 1926 (His younger sister, Anna, followed a few years later.) and she emigrated with her two sons, Bronislaw (Ben) and Franciszek (Frank) in 1930, travelling by train to Hamburg where they took a steamship to Québec. Then they would have had to travel by train to Edmonton where my grandfather was living and working. They arrived just in time for the Depression. Their daughter, Lidja (Lydia) was born in 1931.
Needless to say, times were tough. My grandfather seems to have worked a number of low-paying jobs and from what I have been able to research, it would seem that he drank and partied away a lot of his income. He did not provide adequately for the family and was unemployed at times, although I imagine many people were without jobs for much of the 1930s. My grandmother tended a small garden across the street from their little home in Riverdale. My father has told me they used to dig coal out of the North Saskatchewan River bank. An "uncle" (or cousin, as older cousins were often referred to as uncles), John Kulych, whose farm was later expropriated when Elk Island National Park was created, brought food into town for them. Katarzyna (Katie) had a very hard, lonely life and suffered from depression. She had a miserable marriage and barely tolerated her husband. There was a lot of bitterness. This is a family where secrets are still kept and a false story created. I believe my grandfather was abusive to both my grandmother and his children although, as a grandfather, he was a lot of fun and very interesting to talk with. Stanley enlisted during WWII and was stationed as an engineer in Britain for the duration; I imagine this was the steadiest income he'd had in years. He took up with a British woman and intended to abandon his family in Canada, is one story later denied, that I heard. This would have been a disastrous development for my grandmother who was economically dependent upon him. Katie was hospitalised for her depression at one point and the children nearly put into foster care, another story I have heard that was later denied. My mother told me that when she was dating my father and would come round for dinner, my grandmother cooked the meal and then sat in the kitchen eating alone while everyone else ate in the dining room. My mother was appalled and put a stop to it right then. (That would be my mother!) Around 1948, when my aunt was still in high school, the family suddenly moved to Toronto. They did have cousins there and my grandfather's sister, Anna, had died quite young in 1948. Their two sons were in the navy and army by this time and followed later. In 1953, they bought a home in Etobicoke where my aunt still resides. Lydia, beginning her career as a stenographer, cared for both of her parents while working full-time. My grandfather obtained steady employment as a tailor at Eaton's department store where he worked until his retirement. Katarzyna continued to be a homemaker who tended a garden and cooked the traditional Ukrainian diet of borscht, perogies, holubsti, nalysnyky, dill pickles, etc. I grew up thinking this was Polish food until I got to university. I later learned that being Polish and Roman Catholic was considered superior to being lovely peasant Ukrainian (and being Eastern Orthodox) -- my grandmother's mother had a Polish surname while her father's was Ukrainian. There was so much political and religious prejudice in this part of the world, my grandmother, I think, was caught up in the middle of it within the family.
She was happiest when her sons and their families visited or when Polish or Ukrainian friends came over. And she loved it if you enjoyed her cooking. That's when she would smile and laugh. She cried whenever we left and my aunt explained she was just afraid she would never see us again. It wasn't until I was much older that I understand why that preoccupied her. My grandmother suffered from dementia in her later years and died at age 91, still with a full head of thick, snow white hair.
Despite all this dysfunction, all three of Katarzyna's children were pretty bright and became successful, productive adults. All were psychologically damaged and the fall-out had a major impact on their own children. Owning property and having money were valued above further education. There was also a lot of humour in the family and more tall tales than you can imagine. Facetiousness rules. (I called my 88-year-old aunt on this recently and she couldn't stop laughing, I knew she thought she'd pulled a fast one, which she did -- on some unsuspecting strangers -- but not on me!) The gift of hyperbole is ingrained and carries on. As does the love of Ukrainian food especially when made in the tradition of my grandmother.
~ Cathy Buchanan