Friday, 9 October 2020

My Immigration Journey - Part 13

The Spring Bears, acrylic, 20" x 16"

Blog 22

The year 2001 started with lots of agitation. At the beginning of February, we found our dog lying in a large puddle with water dripping from the ceiling. When we looked for the source, we discovered that the water was running down from the upstairs master bedroom wall to the basement. The carpet was soaked. We and we had to change the towels every hour to keep the water from dripping to the lower levels.

All this excitement probably did not help me with my pregnancy. Even though I had another six weeks ahead of me, I started having contractions. I and could not feel my otherwise active baby anymore. Once we were at the hospital, our little girl moved so much that the nurses could not get a continuous reading of her heartbeat. As the baby was quite big but much too skinny, I had to stay on bed rest for ten days. I felt very lonely in my misery and guilty that my pregnancy prevented me again from living without confinements. Instead of taking our son to the playground, we spent the time reading, creating art and watching TV, which was not what our active almost-four-year-old boy felt like doing all day long.

On March 5, when we started dinner, the contractions started again. After the long labour I endured with Dominic, we decided to have dinner first before leaving the house. A big mistake! Suddenly, the contractions came strongly and in short intervals. It was snowing, and we had to drive Dominic to a friend first before we continued to the hospital.

When we reached the hospital, things happened quickly. I was rushed through the hallway to a birthing room. People had to jump into the room to make space. I was relieved to see two doctors in the room, one of them the same doctor who had already delivered our son. I still wore my street clothes when Christine was born minutes after we reached the room. From the time we had entered the hospital until she was born, only 20 minutes had passed.

Despite the new challenges of having a newborn in the house and not sleeping more than five hours during the night, I continued to go to my monthly theatre outings with friends at the Ottawa Little Theatre, Canada’s oldest community playhouse in downtown Ottawa.

Starting in May, I started going again to the monthly Arteast meetings, the local art organisation. I was lucky that it took Christine only a month until she started sleeping through the night. It was time to start painting: first a tulip bouquet, then three of my bears sitting in a tulip bed (see above). I was determined to finish the painting in time for the yearly Arteast critique night. I was happy when the feedback was mostly positive and thankful for the suggestions for improvement.

I also continued to go to the National Gallery special exhibitions. Usually, I brought both children along. It was hard work because one of them often wanted to be carried around. Nevertheless, I was soaking up the beauty of the art and found inspiration to keep painting.

Whenever we had visitors, I took the chance to take them to art events. When I visited the Glebe Studio Tour with my sister, it was not only exciting because of the art, but also because of the beautiful neighbourhood.

At the time, Ingo and I kept looking for houses and building lots outside of the area where we lived. Our yard bordered on a small wooded area that led to a public transportation parking lot. The closeness to the bus station had resulted in more and more incidents of burglary. We were excited when we finally found a large lot in Cumberland with lots of trees and wild roses.


Mushrooms, acrylic, 16" x 20"

I continued painting in the fall when my parents came for a visit. At their cottage, I painted a group of mushrooms in the garden. It felt so liberating to be able to sit outside and paint while my parents entertained our children. Painting without interruptions was a rare treat!

When I go through my journals of the past, more and more pages are left empty because I was so busy caring for our children, our Golden Retriever and the household. I am surprised that I still managed to sketch and paint at all. It shows my strong urge to create. No matter how bad things are, creating art makes my life better. It is not something that I can stop. The desire to express myself and to capture the world around me is too strong. It gives me so much joy and feels meditative.

I hope you will join me again in two weeks when I have a look back at the year 2002.

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