Keirartworks's Blog

hmmm. hmmm?


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significant days

Day One

Rain begins, tentative, at 8:50pm.  I can feel the hush of parched trees; the lake is still, the birds silent. Thunder is over there, eclipsed by the subtle snore of a cat.  Rain stops.

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There is no sound of water lapping.  This is uncharacteristic of the eastern shore, where even the gentlest of westerly breezes will make the water speak in rhythm over stones.  The twilight raccoons are quiet, the evening moths still. I can hear a hum, large as the world: insects, over the Bay.

Internet connection is gone.  That’s new.  First time in five years.

The white mycelium connecting all flora with intelligence, one inch below the forest floor.  The loons, nesting here again after a decade of absence.  They sing to the sunset.  The cat stops his hunting just then to still himself, and listens, facing the sun.

Later, myriad moths of all shapes and sizes wake, to flutter their bizarre night time dance.  It is as loud as the snore of the cat beside me.

Day two

Heavy heat, again. Everything is parched, dusty and all living things are fully engaged in gritty endurance. It’s been over a month of this, extended further by an ocean typhoon that just connected with China. On the other side of the planet.

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My awareness of things is stretched by new curiosities. Hmmm.  Why the baby snail, 30 feet up on the slim tree, for weeks.  The curled baby garter snake, napping beside the path – why curled like that, just there. These become the moments I remember best, from the day.

follow the leggy grey-black spiders who populate and farm the hot shore rocks. I gaze upward at the forest canopy, the astonishing spiderwebs. I hear that birdcalls differ through the day, which has a clearly defined rhythm, in this place.  I feel compelled – hungry – to learn it. It runs deeper than my habitual rhythm, is more complex.

In the meantime I have a good list of chores, which I improve by deleting the trip into town for ice. Instead I stay put and read about the interpretation of drawings in Jungian psychology (Furth, 2002), and the Bonny Method of therapy which uses music to take clients ‘traveling’ into their own subconscious.  Juliet Hess (2018), Kari Veblen (2008, 2011, etc) , Kate Bolick (2015). 

I breathe the hot air, which is easier to do by the cool lake.  I draw a little. My broken toe is grateful for rest; a friend comes for dinner, conviviality, and a swim. Sleeps over down at the bothy, which I’m now calling ‘the shore’.

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Day three

Perfect coffee on the cabin porch, to greet the morning lake.  Good conversation around and about metaphor.

Then Town for breakfast and World Cup soccer, England vs Belgium. I badly want England to win, but the young lads look tired and beaten, so sure enough, Belgium takes third place.  

Them the In-Town List pushes me trudging through more oppressive afternoon heat until finally, in late afternoon as I approach the hospital where they will x-ray my broken toe, the winds pick up, the skies darken… 

In the parking lot we are drenched to the bone in two seconds, yelling whoops of pure euphoria.  It’s good to be alive.

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Day four

…begins loudly, one hour after I fall asleep.

The midnight raccoons have decided to launch an offensive, both inside and outside the house (no serious damage, but lots of noise and reckless spillage, which I think is deliberate).  Around the same time the cat brings two live moles upstairs and chases them, squeaking, to their death. There are three times as many months as last night – a sound so full of odd fluttering anxiety I could not have imagined it until now.  I fall asleep eventually at 4am, woken by a 7:30 text… impossible. 

Impossible.  No, I have no functioning braincells, am barely verbal.  I cancel all town plans, including watching the World Cup final.  Instead clean up after Raccoons, read articles, work on this blessed Masters.  Charge battery with solar panels. Find some sleep in between. Build some new living strategies out of thin air, which is hot, again…

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But I’m right to stay, and learn more about this deeper rhythm. I sit in the evening sun, while it charges the battery to 95%.  I dissolve all that’s unnecessary in the lake.

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9pm, the cat snores, the hatches are battened. I have Hess and Bolick to take me into sleep as the sun dips behind the western shore.  

Significant days, these.


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Unplugged yet more connected

Story Cake first instalment is coming – never fear.  It has been delayed by some time-sensitive physical and academic tasks, which have taken precedence over all else:
I’ve been packing up the old and building the new.

To the point where I’ve got twenty days left here:

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during which I find places for all this house-ness,

and incrementally move my work here:

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Where I can collaborate with the lake, the trees, the critters, the rocks, and the folk who come to drink it all in.  There’s often wifi connection from across the water; I have some solar panels and a battery.  I have paint, paper, books and simple recording equipment.
What a great big enormous blessing.

It’s been a life-long dream, this.  Ever since I first read about Emily Carr and her cabin.

Postscript:  For the next three weeks some paintings from #Selfie and Five paintings at the River are available for a reduced price, fully instalment-negotiable.  Tomorrow I will post a list with sizes and suggested prices, and my contact information.

 


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Story Cake

Here’s a thing I’d like to do, in collaboration with you guys  – some I know, lots I don’t – who read this blog.

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This idea came to me out of ten years of astonishingly terrible experiences with people who I’d been close to for a very long time.  I’ve done at least a partial inventory of what happened:  there were big money fights, betrayals, a flat tire on the 407, illness, deep lies, shameful disrespect of self and other, triangulations, abuses of power, several counsellors, epic misunderstandings, two kayaks, petty and powerful punishments, lots of lawyers, appraisers, fires, storms, a Jungian therapist, at least one great lake but maybe three, hammers, guilt, exhaustion,  embedded ancestral control issues, and plenty of old family furniture, old books, obscure memories, inheritances…

There were two cars but three license plates, an arm injury, breakups, new songs, broken friendships, cedar shakes, a dentist, six large windows from Sundridge, a new bridge made of books, 3 gifted walnuts from a squirrel friend, seven binders of journal articles, a new cabin, 30,000 km of road, broken connections, new connections, three howls in the night, an old bothy, two perfectly healthy but nevertheless felled trees, a polydactyl cat; there was exile and isolation…

….all adrift without anchor, all seeking a new story.

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In retrospect and inspired by Foucault, I can see some telling things that were missing.  If there had been more laughter, for example, there might not have been so much illness.

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Comedy is the missing thing that most applies to this new project.  I want to put it back in to the story, and see whether this might lead us all forward and through, smiling.

A re-make of the story cake, if you will.  With better ingredients.

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For example, here’s the set up for  Re-tell vignette number 1:  Thanksgiving.

Protagonist:  Pamela, a 50-year old artist (straight, white, female colonial), now living cheaply and illegally in her studio after leaving her abusive husband.  She is relieved and exhausted, determined to build a new autonomous life for herself.  Her best friend is a polydactyl cat named Knuckles.

Bystander:  Frank, a very intelligent, often belligerent anarchist with mental health issues who prefers to live on the street.  He is an excellent horticulturist, and is addicted to Listerine.

Antagonist:  Pamela’s Great-Great-Great-Half-Aunt Margery, Matriarch of the Industrial Patriarchy, and Active Ghost, who has grown in subtle power through the 100+ years of her hauntings in town.  She is judge, jury and sentencer for anyone whose actions run against the grain, and has the ability to extract punishment for any wrongdoings that offend her sensibilities.  She is an early colonial, and lesbian, though she would never admit either of those things.

The story-cake piece comes in my next post, your part comes after.  Stay with me.


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Resplendence

A multitude of tasks and their stressor partners slow-dance around my house like dust motes in the sunlight; I am happily, if overwhelmingly engaged in the actions of living.

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Every so often pressures collide with sensibilities and swirl the dust mote dancing into a frenzy. Through and over all of this a thin cicada song of anxiety – I’ve mostly learned to ignore this, like the writer who works beside a busy train track.  Some days are better than others.

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I am doing my utter best to lay solid groundwork that will take me/us somewhere new, satisfying and truly relevant in these times.  To connect need to need in a way that can reveal surprising, intersected solutions.

To make functional use of art and music, in valuable and valued service.

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Need to need, like bee to flower. Then honey, more flowers, a resplendent spring.

I seek nothing less than an active, challenging, collaborative peace.

 

 


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The white chair

The test for old chairs is in the sitting, and this one more than passes, happily. It’s an online auction chair, old and formal-ish in the picture that prompted me, upholstered outrageously  – in cream and white.  It looked comfortable in the photo, but this could have been wishful thinking.

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Old White and formal-ish comes with a history I can only invent. I find myself doing so in collaboration – my back against hers, my body held softly but with just enough firmness, my lap at just the right height with feet on footstool.

It becomes the chair I write from in the mornings.  The chair claimed first by my visiting daughter.  The chair that lends lightness to the room, drinks in sunlight.

This chair beckons, but does not compel.

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Old white was intended for the cabin, where comfortable things are welcome, though curiously it seems to want to stay here, in town.  I sit in its welcome, listeningly, and feel happiness.

Outside the window is springtime.  Conversational starlings and squirrels (both black and red), a carpet of scilla on the tiny back yard, humming with bees.

Yes, that’s what it is.  A simple, welcome, peaceful happiness.

 

 


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Pivot

So much anxiety.

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Even here, in this small town Shire-like piece of Ontario, we dutifully find our regular dose of Fox news or its equivalent so we can chew on our worry in a bizarrely informed way.

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If not Fox or Sinclair and the suspicious smell of fascism, or the use of our tax dollars to bail out yet another oil pipeline through the wilderness project, then about Stan the heavy-bearded wanderer toasting muttered anarchy with Listerine; about the goose wandering alone for a month in the open field; the pencil thin young woman entering then leaving the methadone clinic to the profit of some private business person who would rather she stay addicted.

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The young, ballcapped man, tight with sloppy rage, yanks an aging woman out of a broken down house, her shirt still open to a tan-coloured pushup bra.  Every window in the house is smashed.

Here in the shire, on my way to the store for cream.

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We share our news in the bank lineup, the grocery store, the gas station like chatter over an undertow of unease… is any belief system, economic system, political system, educational system not showing signs of extreme erosion, even as others crumble?

It’s not just the climate that’s changing (…weather’s odd for this time of year, doesn’t feel right….).

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Today a friend asked, “What do you know for certain?”.  About anything, she meant.  Gave me pause.

I said that I suspect I have a working theory about how things change, but certainly no certainly.

Whatever work I’ve been able to accomplish – internal and external – in these past few years has been a more or less messy mobius of intention, action, and reflection.  All three balanced and juggled like plates or knives, never still, never dropped.  But this is abstract.

Think.  Choose.  Do.  Think again.  Do differently, Think.  Choose again. et cetera.

My working theory is that, A) pivot points occur only in the doing. 

B) well-considered doing (not just ‘busy-ness’) is an effective antidote to worry.


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Loudly we gather

Future Bakery now has wifi and wall plugs for charging laptops.  This is good, because our B&B has no power at the moment, and there is course work to be done, due at 11pm.

The B&B power is out because the hydro lines were clipped by the arm of a crane as it lifted drywall up into a house a few doors down.  Nobody notices anything odd until the lines all down the street start to smoke. “I’ve never seen anything like it”, says the fireman from the other side of the do-not-cross tape.  “Smoke was just pouring out of the lines, all along here.  We’re waiting for Hydro to come now, but until they do we’re keeping people off the street…”

We are fireman-escorted to our car then drive down the road to Future bakery which has both power and coffee, also where a big reno was finished just last month.  I’m sitting where the cheesecake used to be, beside a wall plug that wasn’t here six weeks ago.

 

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We people watch while the laptops charge, while the Hydro guys figure out what’s wrong.

While the conversations, the meetings, the dates, the thin, the abrasive and the low soft voices, the laughter and the listening-faces.  While the staff continue to sort out where everything goes.  While the cars park and shine, the blinking phones, the open doors because it’s spring, the arm tattoos, the scrape of metal chairs on tile floor.  While the resplendent boston ivy soaks it all in, as we do.

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This after the night in Ottawa Jail Hostel, managing sleep between two distinct snoring styles and one creaky bunk.  The 5am alarm for lovely Slovenia lady so she can catch her Kingston Train, and the barrel of male francophone teenagers pranking each other in the hallway shower.  The rock paper scissors cappuccino made for me at the campus cafe after hugs all round on behalf of everyone’s mom.

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The apartment couch before the drive, then the drive through the 401 rain that clears over the Don Valley, then the arrive and park, the pub (playoff game) and mashed avocado on toast. Out of the pub onto the smoking, taped up street….

Now here, watching.  Now, charged up.  We will go home through the lights and the loud, to the dark.