Conrad O’Brien-ffrench. He was an aristocrat who had been a spy. My parents, who knew him, told me he had been a close pal of Ian Fleming’s. Conrad was the “real” James Bond.
Conrad laughed when you asked him but a lot of people knew this about him.
I knew him as an old man who could draw and paint horses, people and places. Here I was walking down a dirt road with him. A little girl and an old man and all because I told him I liked to draw. So he invited me to come along with him.
I remember sitting behind the Bridge Creek Estate barn with him. Drawing horses and fences and the way the grass grew along the creek. He told me I must know the anatomy of a horse if I want to be able to draw it moving. He drew bones on my paper and I still have it.
It was a wonderful afternoon. Drawing and talking. Later, I saw his home in Colorado when I went to visit my Aunt. She signed me up for one of his drawing workshops. It was on hands and feet and eyes which he was very good at.
The workshop was okay but nothing like that afternoon sitting behind the barn drawing. He is gone now and I tease myself with the memories of sketching with the real James Bond.
(from my 1992 notes at Elko, Nevada)
During an estate sale a few years ago, I found an oil painting by Conrad that had been stored in Lord Martin’s Attic. It was leaning against a wall behind Lillian’s piano. There was no price on it. I asked and bought it! When I took it to the framers I discovered it wasn’t square. I knew Conrad had painted it on one of his many visits to the Lodge and had used the wood from their local wood shop. So I took it to my trusted carpenter friend, Peter Dalby (who also knew Conrad). He did the job proud and $400.00 plus dollars later it was framed. A fitting wood frame of knots and beauty. It is a picture of Jesus in the Garden.
Not the best of photography but for now.
Conrad wrote in pen, on a piece of manilla paper glued to the back of this painting the following, which was later lifted and placed onto the new backing:
This is what he wrote:
Sermon On The Mount “The Kingdom of God is within you” Leo Tolstoy wrote a book with this Title concluding it in 1893 the year I was born . Conrad
On the last Christmas my brother Terry was alive, I heard a loon. From the top balcony, outside his house it came, drifting down Sheridan lake.
I had stepped out to be by myself. Admiring the stars and the way the snow wrapped itself on the tree’s. Here and there a Christmas light poked through on the tree closest to the balcony. Having enjoyed a beautiful Christmas dinner with my family I pondered there. The haunting sound of a loon answered. I looked down the lake thru moon light and shadow only to hear it again.
“Loons in the winter,” I thought. “Was it possible?” So I went downstairs where the men hang out.
“You’ll never guess what I heard…a loon on the lake!”
I had to speak a couple of times. They seemed to be unaware of what I was saying. Then it came:
“Oh no! That couldn’t be…,” they chorused.
Perplexed, I went back up the stairs and stood by the large glass patio windows. The night was bright and the stars were dazzling. Turning to face my sister-in-law Roberta’s shelves, I was deep in thought. I know what I heard.
Faintly, like whispered murmurings, the sounds of a nature tape. “Oh,” I thought, Roberta had this on so low she must have thought she had turned it off! Would this tape have the sound of a loon on it? And if so, how did it get outside, increase in volume and come down the lake?
Today, I remember my brother Terry with the only craft he ever made. Dad had shown him how to make a loon box out of wood. He only made a few so I bought one before the other’s went into Roberta’s store. This was the summer before anyone knew… Now I have his loon box and the mystery of the loon I heard after our last Christmas Dinner with him.
Did the loon call come from the tape? How did it find its way into a beautiful night and setting? I often think of it as the Christmas Loon and it makes me think of my big brother.
“Shake a paw for a treat!” Sam and Boots with Terry 10 years earlier @ Christmas 1988.
This is a short story published by Whitecap Books, 2000, “A Cowboy Christmas, Celebrating the Season on Ranch and Range,” Edited by Anne Tempelman-Kluit
When Cowboys Were Boys
by Katie Kidwell
You know, I’ve got some real fine memories of Christmas.
Now when Christmas comes, and I’m snowed up and alone in some line shack feeding cattle, I get those memories out and have myself a grand old time remembering.
Used to be when I was a boy we always had something happening and I remember one Christmas when the folks had to go into town to pick up some Aunt who’d just arrived from Boston. My sister was quite a rascal back then. Just as soon as they were gone we opened up both the front and back doors of the house and filled the floor between with a good layer of snow. Then we took our old sleigh up the hill which was right behind the back door and boy did we let her rip…right through the back door and out the front. Course we had to aim real careful or we hit the wall.
Sure was fun…of course we caught hell when the folks got back. I think my father got a kick out of it but he wasn’t gonna let mother know. No, she wasn’t all that fussy about the mess we made, that’s for sure!
Yes sir, it sure is nice to remember Christmas when you’re all alone somewhere listening to the wind howl. Kind of puts the sound of church bells and carols into your soul just thinking about it.
Today I was invited out for Moose Chile with the Canim Lake Elders! There I presented my painting and story about Weswisxe. Here is the story which follows the painting. Also a note of thank you at the end.
by Katie Kidwell (a story as shown in the painting)
The Great Spirit, the Father, lives in the sky and at night the Star People dance for him.
Silhouetted by the night, the Mother Robin sits on her nest like she is a mountain and her nest is the earth where life is born. Notice her chicks in the nest as valleys and hills, rivers and lakes.
When you see the mountain in the robin; she sees you with starlight in her eyes. In the light of her beak her words are now a song.
The Father lives in the eyes of the Mother’s children. His light glows like the cool part of a flame. Together, in the nest, the Mother and Chicks are a living fire of Life. A campfire where the peoples of the Earth can gather and remember the star dance. The dance of flying over mountains in the breath of the Great Spirit; the dance of living and of being alive right here on Earth.
With twigs and with moss we build our nest…and live like a mountain.
My note on this: I am grateful to a Canim Lake Elder who expressed an interest in my painting: “Robin and Chicks” at my show, The Little Birds That Fly. There she told me the Shuswap name for Robin was “Weswisxe” and wrote it down for me. I promised her a painting with this name. The story came along for the ride and I am grateful to the wisdom of the Great Spirit in using every opportunity to reveal His presence. I trust I heard him right. If not, I will hear about it around the campfire…
One morning, while I was laying in bed, half awake and half asleep; I heard the voice of an expert.
“Her work will never sell.”
“Yes,” I thought dreamily as I stretched. “I know this one…it isn’t seen as commercial.”
Half awake, I understood what was being said. It was as if I was there, looking over the shoulders of the “expert” who was looking at my work.
But this is when I really woke up. The booming voice over it all…
“It’s the currency of Love!”
Two voices waking me up with two different messages!
So I laid in bed for awhile mulling it over.
It was such an intriguing line… “It’s the currency of Love.”
The fact is, one voice wanted me to know I would never make money from my work. The other voice wanted me to know I had already received!
Currency is another word for money. The largest part of the word is current suggesting flow, energy, power.
Yes, Love is a powerhouse – it runs the Universe.
The bible says: “God is Love”.
If you asked me I would tell you this. I find agreement with the work that comes to me. I believe God created me to create. Creating Love is what God spends on me and expects from me in return; The currency of Love.
This is the story of my Life!
This blog “The Living Of Loving” is what I spend on you the reader. If you leave “inspired” it’s been a good exchange.
A near stranger said to me once:
“You have different creative expressions because you are still exploring who you are!”
This is the ultimate pay off. “The currency of Love”
P.S. I will be mulling this experience over for awhile as I’m sure there is more to discover…on my own or in listening.
My blog today is a short story. It is in response to a friend who was wondering if he would protest for democracy or the rights we have come to know and love in the free world. I wrote this story to show where my heart would be.
We live in a moment of Time.Having shopped our circumstances; we are left with what’s hanging in the closet.Or the blessing of not having one.How naked is that?
We might take a cup of tea, or better yet, the makings for a dozen cups.Imagine ourselves into a new adventure.We can never change what is all too common now; the protests and the angry sounds of people dying on the street.
But out where the earth slips though our toes and where the nuts still hang for boiling, we may find each other wanting.Yes, a bunch of vagabonds who know the tea is better when boiled with the nuts!
“The Tree That Grew From Rock” is a watercolor painting I splashed on last summer, from my belly boat on Crown Lake, at Marble Canyon Provincial Park. This scene has fascinated me for years. The tall column of rock with the lone tree on top. In a zippered compartment of my belly boat I found the water stained pad of paper, from which I had tried to express in 2010, the poetry of the rock and it’s invitation to the tree and everything around. So I have combined here the poem and the painting. I highly recommend floating and creating together.
The Tree That Grew From Rock (watercolor, Marble Canyon, Belly Boat)
Rock – Magnificent rock
Rock that hasn’t said
come tree, come bush
come crack, come hole
come be with me
This morning at the Chartreuse Moose an “oldie” was playing. It instantly took me back to the early 70’s when I was learning to play my guitar and there were all these great songs to learn! My friend Cathy Miller and I, otherwise known as the “two Cathy’s/Kathy’s”, would play whatever was new and happening. So today I say thank you Hoyt Axton and Three Dog Night for the fun memories of this song.
Joy to the World was easy to play and it had an energy, especially in the chorus, that always got people up dancing and singing. With songs like this you couldn’t be shy so Cathy and I would sing out wherever we were. Down at the barn milking the goats and the cows, or during the lunch hour “locker hangout” at school.
There were other songs too and certain events would trigger our spontaneous combustion. Like riding our horses bareback on a moonlit night belting out Cat Steven’s “I’m being followed by a moon shadow!” Our horses plodded along, they were use to us being like this.
Yes those good old songs you could learn on your guitar as they were happening on the radio. I miss them. Do you? Let me know.
If keyboards could talk, it would be better than prime time on any network! Could you leave your keyboard at the office at the end of the day?
What a sight it would be, most everyone packing their keyboards home. Cool outer gag wear would be created just for this unless of course our keyboards were fussing. In which case a bottle of water might work. Steel briefcases would be back in style ’cause some people might like to look innocent…taking files home to work on…
Of course everyone with a home computer would want to know if the delete or mute button worked when company came over. Imagine having your cocktail party crashed by a drunk keyboard upstairs on full volume. Whoops, who spilt the wine?
Yes, keyboard sales would go up. Smashed ones at the end of the day would be followed by a Starbucks, and an extra one for the keyboard. AND then there would be comments around the office like…“oh she’s such a goody-goody. She never takes her keyboard home. She’s always kissing the bosses keyboard…You get my drift?
Paranoid people worried about every keyboard they ever touched, wondering if their first one’s landed in the dump and were they safely buried? Some of you know how revealing DOS can be.
In our world today, some keyboards would have top secret instructions…spy keyboards! In countries all over the world, keyboards with top level info and those processing our privacy…It would take it’s place as the top criminal activity and perhaps the last war on this planet.
The health risks of deciphering and listening to keyboards would take time to evaluate. The need for a steady hand and brain along with the need to stop the voice in your head would have some effect on drug sales world wide. It would have to be determined. Probably by a talking keyboard.
Lawyers would seek admissible keyboard evidence. Special monitors and desk tops would be created so everyone could see the keyboard spill the abc’s of a crime. Guilty by the default key. The “National Liar” would have a field day. Aliens might sue them for loss of interest and some Hollywood Stars.
Did Einstein have a keyboard? Think of the treasure and the secrets! Some boards would be priceless. I’m not going to talk about my keyboard. Who knows, the next program I download might have a trigger on it…a blab file for every keyboard hitting the…okay, it’s the mouse that does that. Heh! It’s the rat in the room! Watch out. Your talking keyboard might be one click away. So keep your keyboards clean. It might be your best protection.
P.S. Right now my board is under surveillance. If I disappear anytime soon, please look for me…or not. Let me know.