Between Two Worlds- waking and dreaming

This collage is inspired by a 30 day course I am taking from Toko Pa called Dream Drops. It’s focus is not only to learn more about our dreams but also to reconnect to something deeper which often lies just beyond our reach.

Toko Pa offers the suggestion to think of Dreamwork as a ‘dynamic reciprocity between two worlds: waking and dreaming, seen and unseen, physical and holy.’ Like a body of water, with two shores, we can familiarize ourselves with what lies beyond our reach. The distant bank calls to us with a yearning to find our true place in the world.

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‘100 Houses Project’ Mo Hamilton’s art exhibition

The ‘house’ as a symbol captures a full range of our human experience. We can feel connected to our place in the world or dislocated from all that is around us. Mo Hamilton expresses this concept brilliantly in her art show ‘100 Houses Project.’
The prints evoke a relationship both personal and metaphorical. I chose two prints that reach me in this way.


‘Growth’ offers a vision to bring beauty into the world. We can surround ourselves with what makes us feel alive, in bold ways as sunflowers reaching up to the heavens or like forget-me-nots, equally startling as they reach out far beyond the garden path.

The Bridge

‘The Bridge’ offers a deeper symbol of change. When asked to describe the beginnings of her project, Mo shares an experience when her family was in transition between two places. Packed, ready to move, that night Mo dreamt she lived on a bridge. This captured her imagination, she realized that the house as an image could represent many transitions we face as humans. Thus, the idea for this work was born.

100 Houses Project

One hundred prints surround the walls of the Terrace Art Gallery. Their size and range of expression offer an intimate view of how we encounter ourselves and the outside world. Mo says, ‘Just as in life, there are sad things, loving things, and beautiful experiences. This project embraces the full circumference of what it means to be human.’

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‘Into the Mystery’

‘Into the Mystery’ Collage 9″x12″

We are familiar with our river systems in northern British Columbia. It carries our salmons’ birth along with their return, but where they go in between is unknown. It is only imagination that allows us to travel alongside salmons’ subterranean journey.

Can I say this about our own lives? Often, we try to plan our passage, but inevitably mystery makes itself known in both welcome and challenging ways. The unexpected occurs. We can only have faith we will return in some form to our beginnings, be it a breath of air, a flash of light, or an open heart ready to receive.

This collage is a part of the Skeena Salmon Art Show currently on display at the Terrace Art Gallery

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Spring Blossoms

Spring explodes. Tulips emerge, bedazzle me with their array of reds and yellows. Cherry trees garment themselves in flowers. New leaves burst in a full spectrum of greens. I am both intoxicated by their beauty and reeling in disorientation. It has been a long winter, a long year. How do I show up when so much has changed.

I must follow the guidance from the earth. Always my teacher, it asks me to come out of hibernation. Take risks. And so I reach for my paints, and sketch pad to get out of my thinking mind. Follow my intuition and explore these feelings that well inside. There is so much to be grateful for.

Life is a precious gift.

photo credit: Cheri Reidy at Green Blossom Studio

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Conversing with the Muse: an exploration within community

I occasionally fall under the illusion that my creative process occurs alone, or when my life is simple. In actuality, my imagination is sparked when I am in both connection and community. I am not an isolated being, but merely a seed in a continuum.

Our writer’s group, North of 54 embarked on a beautiful collaboration with artist Leslie Barnwell for our 5th anthology. This was especially meaningful to me as Leslie is an important mentor for my poetic path. Many years ago, I took my first creative writing course instructed by Leslie at the local college. Through her guidance and her brilliance, as she offered myriad ways to explore and respond to writing, my passion for poetry was fully realized. We shared in several creative ventures since that time, and so how lovely to once again be in this relationship together.

Our anthology, ‘Seed Dreams- poems of blossoming’ contains 22 photos from Leslie’s flower collection. One of the photos included was a perfect marriage for a piece I had written many months previously.  ‘Conversations in February’ was a response to a poem from another dear friend and creative muse, Lesley Strutt, whose work, “If Time were a Tulip” ignited my own images.

I am grateful and humbled to feel this connection to a larger community. There is synergy when we create together; our interdependence is crucial.

(oh, and spider shows up in another poem in the anthology)

Conversations in February
“Time might be a tulip”
~Lesley Strutt

Nestled under thick duvet    feather pillows;
a kind of rapture.
Soft morning glow sifts
through the curtained window-
no need to rise.

Only this~ layers enveloped within
a thin envelope, the fragile membrane
holding fragrant dreams

and if I learn to listen

hear the language of tulips murmur
with scarlet throats, soon enough
they will whisper
the exact moment
to unfurl                      spill light
from inside chambers,             fling
silken scarves as a whirling dervish,

translucent offerings
upon the floorboards.





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The Miracle of Salmon: an art explosion

Salmon is central to the human experience, especially in the North Pacific where I am gifted to live.  Their annual migration seems like nothing short of a miracle.

The Skeena Salmon Arts Festival Society (please click on the link to see the amazing work created through this society) was created to honour, celebrate and inspire northern residences and beyond on the importance of this life-giving organism. Due to the vision and dedication of many hard-working individuals, salmon is celebrated through public art, including murals, sculptures, carvings, and banners. The town of Terrace is transforming,

Judy McCloskey was one of the many artists in the Skeena Salmon Art Show during the month of August at the Terrace Art Gallery. Her textile collage was inspired by Celtic mythology, a part of her heritage, where salmon continue to be revered within the culture of Ireland and Scotland. Salmon are associated with extraordinary wisdom, because of their ability to remember and navigate to their own birthplace.
Salmon of Wisdom “22” x 28″

In 2018, the first year for the Skeena Salmon Art Show, Judy submitted a whimsical rendering. She explains how the design “playfully captures the interplay between the lines of the forest, the shapes of rock, and the pattern of the water as home to our returning sockeye.”

‘Swimming Upstream’  30″ x 36″
At present salmon are spawning and as they deteriorate, they also support a complex life cycle. For me, it is a call and an affirmation on the importance of home.


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Below the Surface

Visiting Newfoundland was like seeing the tip of an Iceberg. Yes I tried to absorb as much as I could in the short time I was there, booking a day trip to nearby fishing villages, taking a boat tour out of the harbour to get close to Icebergs, visiting The Rooms, a museum/art gallery dedicated to natural and  cultural history


would I ever perceive the depths of  these stories? No, I will not!

Nonetheless, like bergy bits that break off from the main ice flow, I long to drink in
this place on the edge, people fixed to the rocky shores with nothing in between them and Greenland. People rooted, always coming home.

Below the Surface

For Larry

Under a bruised sky, having just missed leaden rain beat against the rocky outcrop
at Cape Spear, this most easterly point, web into wind thrash the coast line

we follow our guide, his stories a metered cadence

Imagine! This place was always here, then Princess Di and Prince Charles came to visit so of course we needed proper washrooms and right then and there it became a historic sight. Imagine that will you!

stories all syllables dance together and then just as quickly hammer like waves buckling against rock

We came to Confederation in 49 with only 51% in favour, plucked us out of outposts, we were self sufficient. and then the cod moratorium, said it was temporary!

the next breath
a coo

Ah there’s an iceberg for you, the peril of sailors, radar can’t read the bits that break off

Ice mass juts out through layers of fog, floats on the horizon. What lies below the surface, the darkened skin, son of a line of fishermen now stranded a shore


words scour the ocean bottom
troughs crisscross the imagination
tidal currents just beyond my grasp

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Light Bodies

My heart feels wide open, bruised, yet tender after the Celebration of Life ceremony for a dear friend. I contemplate how some of us proceed towards death with a tremendous fight, many with a persistent denial and if we are lucky, we greet the inevitable with a welcoming, ‘Ahh, there you are.’ Souls depart in scorching unexpected flashes, others in painfully slow increments.  However we leave, whatever our beliefs are surrounding death, gifts are bestowed in glowing memories to those who love us, to those whom we love, in our infinite connection.

Light Bodies

For Roger

On my birthday you set up your tipi in our back yard.
In its cavern,
like a dark womb
we build a fire,
its belly glowing with the light of a thousand candles.

Friends circle under the canopy held in place by ridgepoles,
twenty saplings lashed together
as ribs from a great beast,
reach through the smoke hole into firmament.

But you remained outside,       a nomad
guitar in hand,          silhouette etched in the door flap

Appeared as a wizard
tracing your source to constellations above.

Did you intuit this slow letting go?
Know even then your body’s temporary home
bones but a lever reaching for the cosmos

while we sat on the dirt floor
listening to your melodies greet the night sky,

us thinking you would always be singing.

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Reflections on Winter

This afternoon I walked into Kleanza Creek, was awestruck by the blue green water swirling in sluggish pools. Water- a deep luminescent reflection of ice and snow clinging to the creek bed, laden branches weighted with crystal shards. The water’s musicality clean and crisp in the silent air.

Winter in the north, winter in Canada, both breathtaking and challenging. Much easier to vacate to warmer climates but then what would we miss.

The time to go inward, to go deeper, just like this river bed. Find our way through imagination and dreams. Lean into our intuitive nature to discover new paths. Where to flow. How to overcome challenges that might lie ahead.

These are my reflections enhanced by  learning about the water element from Cheri Reidy, acupuncturist and Qigong teacher. We collaborated in a workshop where she offered her in depth knowledge of the body by teaching a model of how to live in balance with the forces around us while I offered my passion for artistic expression through collage.

 Water Element workshop 2019

These images call me to extend my reflections to our beloved poet Mary Oliver. She died In January of 2019 at the age of 83, both in the water element of the cycle of earth and in the water element of her life. We come into the world, nurtured in the wombs embrace and if we are lucky we can age into the water element, where we can slow down to deepen into our inner wisdom. Mary Oliver embodied this essence with her deep respect for witnessing and recording her presence in the natural world.

I grieve for this loss. Her words are akin to a healing balm.  Blessings Mary.

     ~Mary Oliver

In winter
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird
with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.

Like any of us
he wants to go to sleep,
but he’s restless—
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds
from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.

But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.

So, it’s over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he’s done all he can.

I don’t know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds—
which he has summoned
from the north—
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent—
thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird
that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent—
that has turned itself
into snow.


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Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology

When I saw the callout on the League of Canadian Poets website for submissions to an anthology on the experience of cancer I did not hesitate. My heart tugged back in time to losing one of my closest friends to cancer and the series of poems I wrote to help me cope with the enormous loss.

I am regretful that I did not know of Priscilla Uppal, one of the editors of this anthology, whose brainchild was to offer people,  ‘new ways of seeing, understanding, and representing this ordinary and extraordinary experience.’ I was just pleased to have one of my poems accepted.

Then the anthology was published in November of 2018 but it was announced that Priscilla, at the age of 43, did not live to see its completion. Who were you Priscilla? I discover through numerous newspaper obituaries, CBC interviews, book reviews, and  friends and colleagues blog posts, of your immense accomplishments and brilliance as a poet, novelist, and playwright. Your enthusiasm and optimism as professor at York University. Your generosity in supporting so many students, and the arts. Your fierce courage to not sway away from a dark subject.

It is a quote that is taken from one of these articles that stays with me. Priscilla writes, “I think a very undervalued and powerful tool is the imagination. When you’re facing something like [cancer], many people like me feel disconnected and alienated from themselves – from their bodies, from their coworkers, from their loved ones, from the world… The imagination is actually a way to repair and reconnect and heal those connections to yourself and other people.’

The imagination gives rise to the need to create, to put ones life experience into poetry or another form of artistic expression. It is at times the only thing that makes sense.

The anthology was built around Priscilla’s poem. I am saddened that my world was so remote that I did not know of her. Thank you for this ongoing gift, which I am so grateful to be a part of in my own small way.

Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem
by Priscilla Uppal

My body and I have now entered that phase
of relationship where all the quirks and ticks
that used to tug at your heart are sources
of irritation and argument. The monotony of being
with you, day in and day out, going through the motions.
We are now that couple no one wants to
see in public, whose shopping bags hang like broken
promises. We blame each other’s childhoods and
draft unacceptable separation agreements.
The hot tears and intermittent flowers are
the worst, the notes of distant affection,
the vague plans for future holidays. I am no
longer the love of your life. I have the black
eyes to prove it. Our pleas for forgiveness
are hollow. We live for the possibility of thrashing
it all out for the umpteenth time, falling asleep
exhausted and sore, but side by side.

And amongst all of this I still miss you, my dear friend Pat.

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