Tag Archives: women

Odia’s Forgiveness Offering

Today I crocheted.


Three little vessels.


And I’m mailing them to Odia Reimer in Manitoba.

In 1984 Odia’s 13 year old sister, Candace Derksen, was murdered when Odia was only nine years old. Read her story. This is a famous Canadian murder case.

And it has been recently re-opened.

Odia Reimer is a Canadian installation artist, sculptor, photographer. I have witnessed Odia’s work at one of the most beautiful small town galleries I’ve ever visited, Gallery in the Park in Altona, Manitoba.

In the same way that Odia has dealt with her sister’s murder, the grief and the trial, she is dealing with this new twist in her family’s history, with her art.

Seventy times Seven represents the inward journey through emotion. It is 490 crocheted tears suspended from a frame, 7 X 7, hung 7 feet off the floor, to create a perfect cube symbolic of the natural attempt to contain the pain. Each tear is crocheted by hand without any pattern making each one unique, a reflection of the moment of its creation. The color white symbolizes the purity and simplicity of the falling of a tear. The tears also portray an understanding of the answer to Peter’s question… “Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who has sinned against me? Seven times?” Christ’s answer was seventy times seven, 490 times. This is one day.

Seventy times Seven represents the inward journey through emotion. It is 490 crocheted tears suspended from a frame, 7 X 7, hung 7 feet off the floor, to create a perfect cube symbolic of the natural attempt to contain the pain. Each tear is crocheted by hand without any pattern making each one unique, a reflection of the moment of its creation. The color white symbolizes the purity and simplicity of the falling of a tear. The tears also portray an understanding of the answer to Peter’s question… “Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who has sinned against me? Seven times?” Christ’s answer was seventy times seven, 490 times. This is one day.

Her latest project is called “The Offering“.

The Offering, Odia Reimer

The Offering, Odia Reimer

Here’s how she describes it….

Nov, 2013. As some of you know my family and I have been going through a trial. Literally and figuratively, we have just heard that the perpetrator who has been accused of murdering my sister almost 30 years ago might be getting a re-trial. …These recent developments have stirred up old emotions and has brought me to places where I again have to look at forgiveness and loving my enemies to heal from wounds these events have inflicted and continue to inflict.

I have also realized that many individuals that I have shared my story with, have similar elements of pain. I would like to invite you to join me in taking the pain of hurt, anger, and bitterness of whatever you have been through and offer it as a sacrifice in a step of overcoming, releasing, and turning your face towards forgiveness.

“The Offering” is a community art piece, a physical act of taking our hurt sometimes blood, tears or pain and giving it as an offering, I believe this act of giving away our hurt releases our need to hold onto the pain we feel and opens us up to receive the healing and wholeness we are searching for.

After reading Odia’s blog I wanted to participate.

Something drew me to create these little bowls and offer them to her. Not so much due to my own pain, which in no way mirrors hers. But to participate in a corporate sacrificial offering of forgiveness.


I used a combination of threads in earth tones, representing community. One has some bronze metallic representing the unfulfilled life of a murdered teen girl. The little red dots represent blood.


Odia has created a marvellous tutorial. So even if you have never crocheted you can certainly learn.

Here are the written instructions. Download.

Feel free to use any colour, texture, or weight of wool you wish. Use colour and texture as a way of expressing the pain and hurt your bowl represents.


Why not join in? You have until Feb 28th, 2014.

Mrs. Borody

My BFF from childhood, her mother died yesterday.

The house where I grew up on a quiet suburb of Winnipeg was surrounded by Borodys. Literally.

On the south side was by best friend Carol-Ann and her mum, dad, brothers and a dog, Binks. And on the north side of our house was her grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. Borody, Senior.

Ev & CarolAnn snowballs

Pink Borody Senior’s House, my house, Borody’s house

Our front lawn was a path from the one house to the other. Which proved to be an interesting dynamic. Like the time when one Borody adult was chasing one Borody child across our lawn with “The Board of Education”.

Two families growing up, side by side, for years.

Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Borody

Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Borody

Leaning over the fence between our driveway and Carol-Ann’s house, our mothers would gab for hours. The regular kind of stuff that new moms share. I can imagine the joy, “I’m pregnant again!” “Oh my, so am I!”. The two mothers birthing one after the other. Within a couple of months, my older brother and hers, my middle brother and hers, and then we two, born within 3 weeks of each other.

Carol Ann & Ev

1964 Brownies

1964 Brownies


Mrs. Borody was so different from my mother. Didn’t your friend’s mothers always seem cooler than your own mother?

I thought Mrs. Borody had more fashionable clothes. She played Bridge. Didn’t she cook more interesting food? She played golf and travelled. They had liquor in their house, my folks were tea-totlers. Their house was nicer than ours, and a full two-storey.

145 River oaks drAND, (this is the one thing that totally proved it) she had a white Ericofon phone in their master bedroom! I used to try to sneak in there just to touch it.

ericofon phone

But I was totally scared of her. She spoke with a forthrightness that wasn’t normal in my family. She was part of that “Mothers Who Know Everything” club. Even until a couple of years ago we would laugh about that time when she caught Carol-Ann and I buying too much candy at Parkview Drugs across Portage Avenue.

1961, River Oaks Drive kids

1961, River Oaks Drive kids

Mrs. Borody was the consummate neighbour, the kind of neighbour everyone wants and needs. Who else would have been there at 6AM when we needed someone to take a picture of our family leaving on our monumental journey to live in California?

leaving for CA 1964

Mrs. Borody Sr, in pink

Our mothers rescued each other more than once for many things, like water leaks, Hallowe’en costumes, borrowing an egg, and boosting the car in winter.

Births and deaths. Tears were shed. Shoulders were there.

Mrs. Borody graciously hosted a neighbourhood bridal shower for my older brother’s bride-elect. Her own son Richard, the same age as my older brother, was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident when they were both 18 years old. How bittersweet for her.

Doug BD 1957

1957, Richard and Dougie

I will never forget that summer day. The day Carol-Ann’s brother died.

Richard and Doug, two lifelong friends separated forever. How Mrs. Borody bore that grief was an education to me at age 12.

My whole life Mrs. Borody has remained a touchstone to my roots. I would enjoy getting my mom and her together long after they had both moved away from the old St. James neighbourhood.

Then when Parkinsons-like of symptoms robbed Mrs. Borody of her vitality a number of years ago I saw her decline from a stately woman of tremendous will and forebearing to a helpless shell who could no longer speak. It was tough to witness.

But her eyes still shone with remembrance.

I could never bring myself to call her Helen. It was always “Mrs. Borody”.

Maxine & Helen, 2009

Mrs. Ward & Mrs. Borody, 2009

Rest in peace Mrs. Borody.

Helen Borody, nee Bajurny (1926 – 2013)

Ann Beam – The Woman Who Never Sits

I was browsing through the tourist brochures while recently on the lounge deck of the MS Chi Cheemaun ferry to Manitoulin Island.  “The Art Map: Year Round Trail Guide to Galleries, Art Studios and Events” popped out at me. I’m the type of person who is willing to step out of my comfort zone if I sense that I might find some deep connection. This is my definition of adventure.


My husband and I had perhaps 3 hours to putz around Manitoulin Island enroute to the West.  We could swing into the hamlet of M’Chigeeg to see Neon Raven Gallery. So we followed the lively little signs “The Heart of the Art” from the ferry dock. Pulling up the driveway, past the vegetable garden, the banks of solar panels and sighting an adobe-style home and studio I said to myself, “this oughta be interesting.” Out popped a lively hippie woman and said, “I thought you might be my daughter, she’s supposed to be here any minute with my grandchild.”


Ann Beam is a painter, multi-media artist, sculptor, ceramicist, author and wonderful human being. What a joy to be exposed to her world, if even for such a brief time.

Ann Beam autographing a book for me

Ann Beam autographing her book for me

Being welcomed into her studio is like walking into her brain. Works in progress, finished pieces, shadowboxes from long ago, cards, books, pieces of her husband’s potteryher daughter’s art.

It felt like I was experiencing a remnant from another decade. But her art is far from an environmentalist flower child’s meanderings. We were quickly immersed in her vortex of creativity. Currently she is working on large mixed media paintings in corrugated cardboard, found pieces (AKA trash) and photo transfers with acrylic for an upcoming show.

IMG_7466In a number of her paintings she has employed the atmospheric edge of our blue planet. Chris Hadfield would like these paintings, I thought.

Medicine Box 4, "Dr. Bach and the Rescue Remedy"

Medicine Box 4, “Dr. Bach and the Rescue Remedy”


“Wheel”, 60″ x 48″

Her explanation of this painting/collage “Wheel” was that she saw a nine pointed star in the bicycle wheel. The Buddha (it could have been any deity, but that’s the one she chose, even though she’s not a Buddhist she said) is showing us how to sit in a relaxed way, showing us that we all can relax.

IMG_7457Days later I got around to reading the little book I purchased from her, the catalog of her 2008 Earth and Shell exhibit. As I read it I thought, “what can I find online about her?” Turns out she and her husband, Carl Beam, were an incredibly influential couple in the Canadian art scene. As I read their CVs I was humbled to think that I had ‘accidentally’ run across such artistic wisdom. That I had briefly wet my feet in the brook of the ancients. Turns out we actually did that, because it was because of Ann we found our way to Bridal Veil Falls and hiked for the afternoon.

I regret not having known who Ann was before I drove up her driveway.  It felt like I was with an endangered species, a full time artist. Well into her second half of life she was still busy rendering myth to the uninitiated masses, even with the physical absence of her husband/artist/lover who died in 2005. I felt a tinge of sadness for her. The body of work they built together is a national treasure and should be a historical landmark.

It was no coincidence that I happened upon the brochure on the ferry. It was the only one in which Ann had decided to advertise this season. I only wish I had taken the time to sit with “Ann who never sits’. As an aural shaman and artist there is so much I would have liked to soak in. I could have sat at her feet for days.

"Earth and Shell", 40" x 30" watercolour, sand and stones on handmade St Armand paper

“Earth and Shell”, 40″ x 30″ watercolour, sand and stones on handmade St Armand paper, 2008 and “Earth Incorporating”, 4’x6’,  recycled packaging and found objects and canvas on panel , acrylic, 2010

“Shells are a visual record of that Creational Sound, pouring into the world…inaudibly” – Ann Beam

"from Ann (who never sits)"

“from Ann (who never sits)”

Translating Fabric & Thread into Story: The Quilts of Linda Bar-On




Ailsa Craig is a tiny little town in South Western Ontario, Canada. It was there that I was immersed in quilts from Israel!

My daughter and I went to see the annual Ailsa Craig Community Quilt Festival. Each year a group of committed volunteers mount an amazing display of quilts from other lands.

My absolute favourite quilter in the whole show this year was Linda Bar-On. Her quilts are extremely colourful and based on ethnic stories.

Ashera: The Hebrew Goddess. She is the chief goddess of the Canaanite pantheon, with El as her consort. She is mother of all the gods and wet nurse to all. She promotes fertility and facilitates childbirth. She cities were Tyre, Sidon, and Elath, but she was found on every high hill and under every leafy tree and in clay form as a household figurine. Of the 370 years of Solomon’s Temple she was present for 236 years. She is mentioned 42 times the the Bible. Despite attempts to obliterate her, she survived because she answered a deep and psychological need for a loving and benign mother goddess and her cult was firmly entrenched in the hearts and minds of the populace.


Detail – Ashera


Detail – Ashera


Detail – Ashera

From Planet Patchwork website, “In an area of the world as culturally diverse as the middle east, one would expect cross-cultural influences to affect the flavor of local quilting. Rachel Roggel says such influences do exist and are being encouraged by some quilters: Linda Bar-On (the Israeli chairman) works using middle eastern technique, colors and symbols which she develops and innovates. She takes traditional local customs as a starting point.”


Detail – Five Mothers

“I use thousands of buttons in my quilts as Arabs and Bedouins use in their customs.”

Linda Bar- On was born in 1945. Educated in England she is a self-taught quilter. She started with patchwork and quilted clothing. In 1995 she began making wall quilts reflecting life in the Middle East from Asia. She incorporates embroidery and other embellishments. She has exhibited in Israel, Europe, USA, Japan and Canada. Materials used: cottons, silks, wool felt, braid, buttons, shells, beads, ric-rac.


Lion Women of Lakiyeh

Lion Women of Lakiyeh: The town of Lakiyeh was founded in 1982 as part of a process begun in Ottoman times: the sedentarization of the semi-nomadic Negev Bedouin – a drastic shift from a hard way of life to ordered unbanization. The association for the improvement of women’s Status helps to empower local women. The Weaving Project was founded in 1991 by Roz Welley as Sana, an English nursing volunteer who settled in Lakiyeh. The Desert Embroidery project also keeps traditions alive and provides an income for many families. Some of the more conservative elements in the town have objected to this show of female strength and have even gone so far as to attempt to burn down these projects. The women refuse to remain silent.


Detail – Lion Women of Lakiyeh


Detail – Lion Women of Lakiyeh

Detail - Lion Women of Lakiyeh

Detail – Lion Women of Lakiyeh


Invitation to a Blind Date


Detail – Invitation to a Blind Date

Riding the Tiger

Riding the Tiger

Riding the Tiger: The tiger symbolizes power, will and determination. By riding this ferocious beast one masters these attributes and conquers the demon of ego. Durga is fearless, releasing her devotees from fear itself. She redeems those in situations of utmost distress. With her eight hands she protects from all directions. She is the Shakti, the warrior aspect of the Divine Mother and the embodiment of the creative feminine force in a state of independence from the universe, showing self-sufficiency and fierce compassion. She never loses her sense of humour or patience. Her weapons in this case are domestic rather than warlike.

I was really moved by Linda’s work; the colour combinations, the detail, the exquisite embellishments and her ability to translate story into art through fabric and thread. Symbols dripping with meaning. A real testament to “women’s work”.

The Good Wife … Re-visited

My best friend re-wrote the famous Old Testament passage about the perfect wife. Proverbs 31: 10-31 is an expose of the Good Wife, or The Perfect Woman. “It is the fulfillment of the roles in the home assigned to her by society that causes her to be praised in the very gates of the city where Woman Wisdom first raised her cry”. *

Jenny & Ev at Threadworks

Jenny Hurlburt says,

The review of Proverbs 31 on Mother’s Day has been almost unbearably difficult for me over the past few years.  I had been interpreting the proverb as a list of “supposed to be’s” from two perhaps self-centred perspectives: one – an impossible list of my own shortcomings as a mother and, two – in my experience, a disappointing list of lack of being acknowledged and appreciated.  

It wasn’t until last night, in a conversation with my daughter when I said, “I should write my own Proverbs 31,” and she said, “Yes… Mom… Do it!”  So, with that encouragement I wrote a modernized version and found that Proverbs 31 is not so much a list to measure against, it’s a description of a woman’s life, full of the typical, everyday activities she does that reflect what a wonderful woman she is.  

Proverbs 31…. Revisited

Some say, “A good woman is hard to find, she’s worth far more than diamonds.”

But I say, “No wonder it’s hard to find her, she’s not exactly standing still!”

If you were brave enough to matriculate to the world of a “good woman” you would, no doubt have to tango with the best.

If she has a husband, she does his books, washes the car, and cooks his frozen pizza on Friday nights.  And he’s lucky she does.  He trusts her to come home at night and do the laundry and he has never regretted this arrangement.  She shares her dreams, her fears, and her pay cheque with him.

She shops for bargains, ensuring the children have something to wear for all occasions and she has fun doing it; she happily dumps out her bags at the end of the day boasting about her prowess at the superstore.

In the mornings, she drags herself out of bed, puts the cereal box on the table for the ‘Help-Yourself’ breakfast and drives the kids to school in her pyjamas.  Upon arriving back home, she lets the cat in and the dog out, feeds the hamster and gets out the vacuum cleaner.  Before sucking up every Webkin and Polly Pocket, she kindly puts all the toys in the hamper and shoves it into the corner.

She makes a honey-do list for herself while savouring a whiff of her vanilla-flavoured coffee and then gulps it down: time is flying.

Turn on the dishwasher, throw a load in the dryer, straighten the beds, stick the chicken in the slow cooker, push down the toaster.  Hop in the shower, blow dry the hair, dress, shoes, grab the toast and run for the car.  She hurries to work where she walks in with a smile, choosing her attitude!

Over the lunch hour she delivers the tax return at the accountant, picks up allergy pills for her husband, drops the overdue books in the slot at the library.  She wolfs down an apple and 2 squares of cheddar cheese in the car.

Four more hours at her work, pouring herself into her job, she tries to be efficient, considerate, creative, supportive, and helpful and, oh yes, she remembers to smile.

Time to pick up the kids, she gives them each a healthy snack in the car and they head over to the soccer field for practice.  She volunteers to organize a fundraising event, balances her cheque book, plans menus for next week along with the grocery list.  Soccer’s over and she drives the kids home.

They disappear to the TV room while she sets out dinner for them, along with feeding the cat, the dog and washing machine.  Her children love her and bring her breakfast in bed once a year on Mother’s Day.  She is a good woman – to be admired and praised however, she rarely sits still long enough to receive it.  She IS the diamond, with many facets and sparkles.  She is priceless!

 by Jenny Hurlburt

Jenny IS a good woman and a good friend. Not only does she write, but she found time to support my art exhibit too. She is a diamond to me.

What is your experience of The Good Woman?

*The Women’s Bible Commentary,  p. 152,  Newsom & Ringe, Eds., SPCK, London, 1992