Keirartworks's Blog

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Cabin Stories 3: weather

The tarps work well. Easy to pull out and put away, which is required since sometimes rain comes unexpectedly at 3am. I am quietly and ridiculously proud of this.

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It occurs to me that I haven’t been myself for some years now. That the strong, creative me, fully open to possibles and wonder is only just now beginning to stand up, be seen and look around again, in these past few weeks of Cabin.  She sings, draws and writes every day now.

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There was a glimpse of this me in 2014, but it was chewed up and diverted by small town commercial gallery egos (abetted by my own stubborn naiveté about the way things work in that world), by painful/ joyful diversions into and out of romantic love and by the increasingly heavy requirements of paying for culturally prescribed things. Things that, from here, I’m not sure I needed.

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Many of the things I did need then I don’t need, now. In retrospect, the psychological distance between those needs then and these now is a lot like the distance from the top of the dover cliffs to the rocks below them.

Down is where you look when fear runs in your veins. Down to the meeting place between Forever Sea and Rocky Shore (while your friend the little white dog tugs at your leg to pull you back from the edge).

And then if you look up, where fear has no place, you can see your old, embedded practicalities for what they are: just a few small options among a big-sky-full of others.

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As I surrender to the last hours of Day 29 after The Leap of Faith, I can see what I could not have imagined before I found my courage. 

My ‘friend the dog’ is the cat who joins me to watch the sun set each night. The place where rocky shore meets the endless water has expression as vast and diverse as any behavioural spectrum, but this inspires fascination, not fear. On every level I know I am stronger. 

When the beauty around me reaches impossibly generous levels of gentleness, I stop drawing/writing/reading/singing, and just witness.

Gratitude.

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There is strong emotional weather, to be sure. Beauty without shadow is nothing you can build a good path from. I welcome it – there’s always room for change. Change is all around, here – dancing with life. 

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During and while all of the storms pass over and through, the spiders spin, the birds forage, The butterflies do their impossible, the waves sculpt the shore, and the trees drink both sun and rain, stretch themselves steadily upward and down. 

The clear sky remains the same, regardless of weather, full of options. I trust the sky.

I’ve landed well.

 


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Cabin stories 3

Like Laurel and Hardy, Level and Sturdy are comedians. It’s the kind of funny that sneaks up on you a couple of days later, when you look at the framing you took a break from and there they are, tangled in the ladder, looking bewildered but earnest. You take off your hat, scratch your head, waddle over to get the level, then come back with the tape measure.

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New term: joist hanger. D’uh.  

New level of understanding: nails push, screws pull.

Skil saws buck when your board binds the blade. Weight on one end fixes that. Sometimes.

Power tools are just obnoxiously loud. But I do love them.

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In the end, comedy gets it done. Level and Sturdy get some well deserved down time before the next job. They use it to jump up and down on the 5×10 deck we muddled through together (it holds). I make the shelves fit, put my paint on the shelves and rig up a tarp so I can work there in the rain…

 

Which is not just rain, it’s a deluge so intense, heavy and long that the cat stares at me in increasing terror because time has stopped, there is no daytime any more. All there is or ever was or ever will be, is rain.

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Rain makes a painting out of the water containers I use for painting.  Rain drenches me to the bone in five seconds. Rain on wet west wind finds ways to come inside and under my brand new tarp ceiling, until I, yelling AAAAHHHH, go outside with vapour barrier and staple gun to block it. AAAAAHHH and NOOOO there’s not enough vapour barrier left to go all the way around.

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Wet still, but less wet. I chuckle a slightly mad chuckle at my own heroics, then realize I’m seriously chilled.

Happily there are a few sticks of dry wood to burn, smirks Sturdy, and winks at Level.  He means there’d be WAY more than that, if I’d been on the chainsawing and wood piling during the eight week drought we had.  Never mind, it’s enough for a fire in the stove.

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Cat is much happier with the edge taken off the damp, snores his boneless day-sleep on the white chair. I wrap myself in blankets and read.

L&S play cards and wait for the next gig.


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Cabin Stories 2

Week Two

Ratbastard is a new regular presence in my life. Has arrived, I believe, to teach me powerful new lessons in the kind of assertiveness that brooks no opposition. He requires that I maintain full, absolute ownership of the space I now occupy.

He is nocturnal and extremely intelligent. Also pointy-faced and vindictive when thwarted.  I sense that he has dangerous and deeply rooted self-esteem issues, is possibly in exile from his family (since they are nowhere to be seen), and so is really seeking love and belonging, in his bass-ackward way.  He’s a young adult, reckless and angry.  I am a middle-aged woman with a broken toe. I’ve developed a mean bark and the certainty that I can and will use a 2-by-4 to drive home my point.  If necessary.  I do hope it does not come to this.

Ratbastard and I are embarking on a journey that will eventually end in truce or death (his).  I can and will out-persist him.

NOTE:  I have nothing whatsoever against either rats, or bastards, in fact I have good friends who hail from both species. The name RATBASTARD was the first that came to mind as I chased my troubled trouble friend away from the window screen he was attempting to open.  A satisfying name to yell when defending territory.

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Rain is all you can hear when in comes in torrents. After three grateful, introspective days of it this place is richer, greener, kinder.  Plants have appeared where there were only rocks and a skiff of soil before, and the spiders are back to their abundant net-working.

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Ratbastard has not come by for four nights now.  I wish him well.  I also persist in my wish not to see him again.

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After an interesting day-surgery experience yesterday which required much preparation over the weekend, I’m back at my work: collaborating with this place, reading, drawing and deepening the final research inquiry for my Masters.

I don’t think I could feel happier than I do in this moment.

 

 


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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.