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Mystical Garden ~ The Last Peony

Mystical Garden

Oshawa Valley Botanical Park
Peony Festival

2007 - 2010

Prepare to be Amazed

Publications courtesy of Oshawa Chamber of Commerce

~ My Peony ~

Work in Progress

A new peony was born this day!

Just an ordinary peony, if of course a peony could be ordinary.

It was a beautiful balmy afternoon in October with no appointments due to arrive, the phone unplugged, and the studio door was locked.  It was the perfect peaceful calm day.

The hum of the ceiling fan oscillated away at a nice gentle rhythm.  The fire door was open allowing a wonderful flow of fresh fall scented air to circulate through the studio.  A low dreamy cascading rhythm of heavenly piano notes quietly resonated within the atmosphere of the studio.

The background medium was down on the canvas creating pigment to flowing with ease.  A new 4” soft long hair brush (a gift from Newal my landlord) put joy into the sweep of the paint.  There is nothing like a new brush to begin a new piece of work.  It is there when flow enters effortless and mindless that there is endocept the beginning of one's own thought.

Detachment arrived...  this place was not new to me yet somehow today was a bit different, today was the day to be a flower instead of the witness.  

Entered then the pigment I surely did, becoming the cadmium yellow so deep, floating in a rich creamy violet mist grounded by a soft white titanium cloud of light passing through my petals, warm and fluttery like the gentle wings of a butterfly hovering for a rest.

Flowing shadows of light and dark value fused through one another through the golden hues that whispered to the pale lemon of my flesh only to fuse into the nothingness of dreamy diaphanous blue white.  

Hours passed, and then a whooshing sound more felt than heard brought back awareness, so subtle it was not quite there.  First thought was, could it be the rustling of leaves whispering the call of fall outside?  Yet there was not even a breeze; only the sounds of the hustle and bustle of the hurried world below could be heard.  I waited there for a moment, mindful of the different energy from the outside before returning to the quiet stillness within.

To my surprise the gentle whisper that I heard was the flutter of an Angel’s wing, it was right there before me, forever in My Peony.

I returned to the easel where all was blissful, soft and full.

~ White Peony for Caira ~

Oil on canvas 28 x 36, 2008
Private Collection of Anna and Newal Morgan
Oshawa Ontario

Family devastated by teen suicide

A priest has spoken of a County Down family's heartache at the suicide of their teenage daughter Ciara Hanvey who died on Thursday night at her home in Ballynahinch.  The 13- year-old was a pupil

at St. Colman's Secondary School in the town.  Children there have been offered counselling following the tragedy.
Canon Gerard McCory said Ciara's family were absolutely devastated by her death.  She was a member of a local Irish dancing club. 
"Ciara was the youngest child - she was the only daughter and has three brothers", said Canon McCrory.
"They are in a state of shock.  There is quite a large family who have obviously been supportive in this situation."
"The high school in the town has done all it can in laying on counselling for those who might need it."
Canon McCrory said Ciara's school friends had been completely shocked by what had happened.

"Many people have said to me that if this was to happen to someone, Ciara would not have been the person they would have thought of."
Ciara's funeral will take place at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Ballynahinch at 1300 BST on Sunday.

Ciara, my young cousin of just 14-years had passed away, she had succumbed to an accidental death by hanging.

Her brother Gerard who was 17 at that time would call on the phone to share his grief over the loss of his little sister and for his Mam and Dad who would never again find peace in their hearts with the senseless loss of their beautiful little girl. Young Gerard's lament would last for hours in the hope that he could find in him somewhere, a dream for a brighter tomorrow. Through our conversations, somehow in his young mind, Gerard thought he was responsible for Ciara’s passing.  

What could help Gerard from believing that he had anything at all to do with Ciara's passing?  How could this dreadful tragedy that tore the heart and soul from their family be made easier to bear?

Gerard shared that Ciara had a dream to see the Statue of Liberty someday, how could it possibly be that young Ciara would never have the chance to see this dream realized?

So the two of us, Gerard and I devised a plan, he was coming to Canada. White Peony is painted in memory of beautiful little Ciara.

It was through the sale of the Peonies for the 2008 Festival that Gerard would find his way to New York where he would release Ciara’s soul safely into the arms of the Heavenly Angels from the top of the Liberty Tower.

We never made it to New York or to the Tower of Liberty.

Gerard had arrived in Canada just before July 1st Canada Day.   

Three of us, Shandy, Gerard and myself set out for Ottawa to begin his journey of healing to New York and the Liberty Tower.  Just outside Ottawa, we passed under a double rainbow, then to our surprise we watched a third rainbow grace the sky.  In awe of the wonder of God's magnificent universe, we pulled off the highway to watch in grand delight.

We cried, all three of us as Gerard raised his arms high to the heavens and released Ciara’s beautiful soul to the right into the hands of God.
You see, Ciara herself had come to Gerard in that very moment, delivering a blessed beginning to Gerard's healing.

Nothing is so bad that it cannot be shared; indeed it is that very sharing that heals so many in due time.

Gabi always said that true love brings up anything unlike itself in order to heal ~ I will always remember… always.

Gerard’s Double Rainbow over Ottawa, Canada Day 2009

Photo of Gerard's triple rainbow is not available at the time of this publication.

left; Gerard Hanvey right; cousin Tyler Hughes, taking some healing Time on Maple Lake, Haliburton Highlands, Northern Ontario, 2008.

White Peony study #3 

 28 x 36, oil on canvas, 2008.
Celebrating the Oshawa Valley Peony Festival 2008

Private Collection of Anna and Newal Morgan
Oshawa Ontario

~ Graduation Peony C1 ~

~ Graduation Peony C2 ~

Installation of Graduation Peony

~ White Peony #1 ~

~ White Peony ~ #3

~ White Peony # 2 ~

~ White Peony  #5 ~

~ Yellow Peony ~

~ Path of the Peonies ~

Scarlet O'Hara
The Peony Portrait

~ Scarlet O'Hara ~

I turned to look at the clock; It was 5:00 am on Saturday morning June 13 2010, the opening day of the Oshawa Valley annual Peony Festival.

I remember vividly my walk last year through the dense early morning mist in search of a flower to capture for the days painting, only to discover the weighted beauty of the dark crimson Scarlet O'Hara that lay there exhausted on the earth floor, heavenly laden with the rain from the downpour of the night before.  How beautiful this gorgeous peony must have looked before she succumbed to the unbearable pressure of the beating rain.  It was indeed the moment to pay tribute to her life of strength and grace by capturing her last dying breath; or so I thought!

I remember only too well how fast I had to work adding white and more white to my planned dark red palette until all the crimson had become the palest diaphanous pink.

It was all one could do to try to catch her essence throughout the day as she rose up so defiantly from the cold damp floor of earth.

~ Budding Scarlet ~

The days and months of this new year 2010 seem to have just flown by like the timeless moments of ancient history and of course just like the memories of love that linger so hauntingly in the heart.

A definite sense of déjà vu filter through the final strokes of this flower that now rests on the easel.  Lost I have been in catching the memory of the scarlet spirit of this peony from last year's festival in the park.  This is her dying bud that will show for the first time in just a few hours, it is a vision that I will never forget.

Before I started my notes today of this year's magical festival, out of interest I searched Google for the word peony just to see what would come up;  I hit a listing called Peony in Love.  What unfolded was a beautiful tale of a broken hearted lovesick young maiden. 

Based on the true story, Peony in Love by Lisa Seea world full of richness with the magic of Chinese afterlife used to transcend death and explore the many manifestations of love bloomed before me;

“The trees are bare.  In the distance is the hum of morning bees.  If only my tears of blood could die red the blossoms of the palm tree, but I will never make it to the spring.  My heart is empty and my life has no value anymore.

When I came to the edge of our pond, I sank to me knees so I might see my reflection in the glassy surface.  Love-sickness had caused my face to grow thin and pale.  My body was less substantial as though it could no longer bear the weight of my tunic.  My gold bracelets’ hung loosely on my wrists.  Even my Jade hairpin seemed too heavy for the lightness of my frame. 
I wanted to be heard, but only by one man.”

Equally wonderful as well as Lisa's Last Peony, are the operas from the Peony Pavilion on YouTube; , which are very rich in entertainment as well as true romantic representation of Chinese Culture.

The story of the peony that unfolded indeed heightened the spark of creativity to begin the work on the easel in the garden today, celebrating the worlds strongest and most romantic flower in history.

Time disappears quickly during the festival, eight hours feels like five minutes.  I lose myself in the silent conversation between light and color that so gloriously presents itself during that moment in time.  Very difficult it is to pull the attention away from the radiance of all the beautiful blooms that enchant the spell of the moment, everything appears like misty apparitions floating in and out among the splendor in the garden that overflows in timeless beauty.

This year in particular festival day will be even more memorable, more special than all the others to both Mam and I...

Patricia Maguire ( Mam ) enjoying a moment with the beauty of the flowers
Oshawa Valley Garden 2010
Photos by Stephen Cormack

The Peony Festival came to mean so very much to both Mam and me,  she loves all the flowers so much.  When I was asked to paint at the festival it was Mam who encouraged the day there in the park.  Had it been up to me I would have easily shied away.  Always we were there together every year at the Oshawa Valley Gardens to witness the many people that came to pay tribute to one of the oldest and most beautiful romantic flowers on earth.

The hours of the day spent there to capture the essence of the morning light that rested on the bloom was the search for the beauty found in the light of the palest hue transparent of the day's conscious evolution of the sun brilliant with ray.  The dance of light filters down through the folding depth of the multi-petaled flower.

Lost we would be Mam and I in the magical scent of the peonies.  Always she was there, waiting and watching patiently to see what would manifest onto the canvas as the hours of the festivals first day flew by.  

After a mastectomy in 2007, Ma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, a disease of the brain resulting from medication prescribed to treat breast cancer.  It is the journey of the light leaving the Pineal gland until finally it glows no more.  She is now a resident in the full care facility of Winfield's Retirement Home in Durham Region where she is in the final stages of dementia.

Somehow the Peony Festival will not be the same without her very presence there which truly made the day there so very special.  The Last Peony painting is in memory of Mam's love for every flower in God's beautiful garden.

~ Mystical Garden ~ The Last Peony

 C1 & C2
 Celebrating Oshawa Peony Festival 2010
  Private Collection of Linda Cormack, Oshawa Ontario

March 17, 2013

Celebrating the 87th. Birthday of

Patricia Josephine Neate Maguire

~ Nana ~

~ Patricia Josephine Neate Maguire ~

Photo by Seamus

Nana with Great Granddaughters Amanda and Mackenzie

 Granddaughter Shandy and Nana

 ~ Kathleen Sweeney ~

Good friend from Winfield's to Mam and all our friends in the home as well as to our families.

Kay celebrated her 91st. Birthday this year by securing independent living outside Winfield Full Care Facility breaking history for the first time at the home for a single adult to leave the full care for private living.

Congratulations Kay on your new home and a very Happy 91st. Birthday to you!

May you always be as free as a bird!


 Wee Seamus, Amanda and Nana 

 ~ Kaelham ~
Great Grandson 

 ~ Kaelham ~

~ Mother Julie and McKenzie ~

Great Granddaughter  Amanda and Papa Johnny (Grandson)

Shandy & Nana

Mommy Leah with wee Seamus and cousin Amanda

 ~ Lady Ayden Sloan ~
Great Granddaughter

~ Ray Van Schyndell ~ Shandy's handsome Beau

 ~ Lovely Leah ~

Uncle Lenny ~ ( Leonardo da Vinci )

 Wee Seamus ~ doing an Irish jig for Nana & Goggy

 Seamus trying out  Mommy's camera

Lady Ayden and Lovely Leah

 Granddaughter Laura ~ Miss Biss

 O'h, oh... Miss Biss ( Aunty Laura ) showing Seamus how to use Goggy's camera

Shandy reading Nana's beautiful card from first daughter Pauline

~ Wee Seamus ~

~ Mommy ~

Photo by Seamus

~Aunt Shandy ~

 Photo by Seamus

 ~ Aunt Lori ~ 

Photo by Seamus

~ Uncle Len ~

Photo by Seamus

~ Aunty Paul ~

Photo by Seamus

~ Aunt Shandy ~

Photo by Seamus

~ Uncle Johnny ~

Photo by Seamus

Happy Birthday Nana

May the winds behind you keep you in a forward direction

May the brilliant Light of the sun moon and stars always
Shine your way through the shadows

May the rain always refresh your palette

May God's Angels deliver you safely into the arms of your God

May you always know that you are loved and never alone

Always remembered you are Nana for your beautiful Spirit
That filled our heart with so much Love
From one moment to the next
Without end

A Little bit o Heaven you are Mam
A`midst your forty shades of green


Your Family

~ The Last Peony ~