These times.  Ukraine, Palestine, homeless people in our streets, broken hearts, and some folks just …stuck. I hear news like the hit and run death of Boris Brott and what was a level floor turns into a 45 degree pitch. We carry heavy things in these times and hearts are cracking open. 

Steady on. 

There are 288 steps at Wentworth that I go up and down, but only when the sun is shining. Used to be I rested every 40, now I rest every 100. My left arm has kept me up at night for ten months but improves every day – I can lift a pot of coffee without yelping now.

There was a big garbage bag of stuff in my studio for months – I tied it up at over capacity and put it out this morning – they were yelling jokes at each other as it was pitched, with just a slight flick of the wrist, into the back of the truck, and carried away. I don’t remember now what I was holding on to.

It’s like this with triggers, too. Banff writes today to let me know I was not accepted for the summer session, we can’t give you feedback but maybe check out some tips for application before you apply again… and the inner voices come in like a crowd making the room claustrophobic. Until I realize I’m relieved – that with the work I’ve started now, this work I love that’s making everything better and more alive, driving to Banff and staying there for a month would be a rabbit hole I really don’t need to fall in to. In the most straightforward way I am relieved, and this relief clears the overcrowded room immediately. I can hear birdsong, even.

Friends lost in complicated betrayals become stories with important bits missing. An old flame steps up for honesty and warms my heart. Someone I love sings the Ukrainian anthem, and the whole crowd joins in – I weep to hear the courage and the strength in those voices, singing together in the biting wind. We show up. We just do.

Colour from Marigold, Buckthorn, Osage tree sawdust, Mulberry (Fustic) and logwood – making dyes and inks from Tree Colour

I AM doing work I really care about, every day. Work that’s important to me, that in some way answers the separation we feel from one another in this the climate changing, refugee-heavy world. I’m doing what I can to show up – for us, in relation to each other and every other living thing. For me this is to stand and work with trees, since they are the in-breath to our out-breath, and vice versa. Trees transmute our carbon, and so much more. We need them alive so we can breathe.

They also have colour – some which has been used to dye fabric for centuries now, from brazilwood, logwood, walnut. I’m learning how to make and make use of these colours – new media for me, but also a reconnection with my early watercolour training at The Mary Schneider School of the Arts, in Madoc. Having some serious fun with this.

Osage Yellow. Takes my breath away.

Cotton Factory is having an Open House on Saturday May 7, starting at 4 and continuing until 11pm. Lots of us here will have our doors open, so you can come in to see what’s alive and happening here. In SH242 I’ll have some of the tree work for you to see, and some fun, sturdy colourful quilts I’m making (while ink and paint dries) will be available for purchase – proceeds to assist the Ukrainian people who are displaced and yet standing firm. My left shoulder’s a bit better so I may play a little cello too – we’ll see.

Hope to see you in May.

In the meantime, steady on.

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