For Mom

I can’t believe that it’s been six months since my dear mom passed away. Time moved on, I guess, even though my world stopped for a while. I want to post a few more of Mom’s paintings. It’s my way of honoring her. I apologize for the slightly off-kilter photos. The images of Mom’s paintings were originally taken for cataloging purposes rather than showcasing.

6509 - #709 - $ ~ 22"X26" - Hardboard -             6570 - #14 - $300 ~ 14"X38" - Hardboard -

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How Do You Connect?

My, how the world has changed! With today’s technologies, we can be connected with friends from all over the world practically in an instant. I remember my grandfather telling me many years ago that the world was changing so fast, he could barely keep up. And that was before the personal computer saw the light of day. But I understand how he felt, because some days I feel I can’t keep up either. Maybe I have an old soul.

A hundred years ago, pioneers could only connect with others by one type of social media. It was called getting together and talking, face to face. People worked hard in those days–not that I’m saying we work any less–but they made time to connect with their neighbors, family and friends. They didn’t Skype, or have Face Time. They couldn’t email, or even phone someone. They simply hitched a team of horses to a wagon or sleigh and traveled to a neighbor’s farm for a visit. They appreciated their friends and took time to nurture their relationships.

As well as visiting, they also organized group events to keep in touch. The box social was a major function held in the fall after the harvest was finished. It gathered friends and family from the four corners of the district together in one place, usually in the one-room schoolhouse. At the same time they raised money for the upcoming Christmas Concert.

A box social was a simple concept. The women packed a lunch, wrapped it in some creative manner, and secretly took it to the social. The men would bid on the boxed lunches, and the woman who prepared the lunch would share it with the winning gentleman. More often than not, a husband knew which lunch was his wife’s, but there was usually a prankster in the group who loved to mix things up. Sometimes the outcome was good, sometimes not.

In my recently re-released book, Stubborn Hearts, the young school teacher has packed a lovely lunch for the box social. She wonders who will be the winning bidder. Will he be the blue-eyed Norwegian she rather fancies, or perhaps a father of one of her students? Or will he be that interfering, insufferable blacksmith she so despises? And who is that man funding the most hapless bachelor in the district? But no matter who buys the teacher’s lunch, he’ll be treated to some interesting conversation and delicious food.

Maybe the pioneers had the best means of communication after all.



Showcasing E. Cossey Ritten

I recently said goodbye to Mom, a wonderful, artistic and courageous woman. She was a great influence on me and I miss her. It helps to know she is in Heaven, happy and free from pain and worries. Writers are well aware of the saying “write what you know?” Well, my Mom built what she knew and loved. Widowed at a young age, she started a very successful art supply and picture framing shop. You see, Mom was a passionate artists. That’s what she knew. She began to paint when she was fourteen and her love of painting lasted until she could no longer hold up a paintbrush. That’s a lot of years to put paint on canvas and paper. She created oil paintings, watercolors, a few batiks and even some collage work, but Mom’s favorite medium was acrylic. The Group of Seven strongly influenced her work, possibly because one of the famous members taught her at the Banff School of Fine Arts during two summers.  His name was A.Y. Jackson. If you don’t know who he is, look him up. Quite the artist. Quite the group. Over the years Mom compiled photos of every painting she made. All were categorized and cataloged. (Someday, I’m going to count how many there were, but it will take some time.) When she sold a painting, she penned a tiny ‘s’ in the corner of the corresponding photo. No big “SOLD” written across the picture, just something nearly imperceptible. That was Mom. She never boasted about her abilities, though she’d sold hundreds of pieces of art over her lifetime. Any awards she won over the years at the Calgary Exhibitions or numerous other shows and competitions, she merely tucked away in an unassuming box. I wish I had taken more interest in Mom’s art. I wish I’d asked her what inspired her to paint that picture, or why she chose that particular medium or those colors. But I didn’t. You see, I grew up watching her paint in her small art studio next to the furnace. That’s what she did.  She also cooked, cleaned and did a million other things. It wasn’t until I was in school that I realized not all mothers painted. And older yet when I understood that Mom possessed a wonderful talent. When we packed up her things, we put over 250 paintings into storage. What a wonderful legacy for her children, grandchildren and descendents yet to be born. But no artist wants their work hidden. They want it to be  shared. And so that is what I plan to do. I hope you will indulge me because I’m going to post some of Mom’s paintings from time to time. I’m very proud of her, for so many reasons…one of which is her art. I think you’ll see why. Here are two of her paintings.

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