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in the meantime…..

Late June 2020, Hamilton

…I discover the pleasure of wearing wet pants and t-shirt fresh from the washing machine – this gives me a good twenty minutes more of clarity of mind and focus. The constant burr of fans and the roar of the one window a/c unit is on a par with the scream and clunk of muscle cars and heavy trucks outside, but I’m more than happy to share my space with the inside machines, if they keep the air cool, and moving.

Grateful for drapes on the windows, for the plant mister I use regularly on my face and neck, grateful for the water I drink gallons of, bathe in, get drenched by in the rain that sizzles on the hot pavement, soaks the heatwave air and makes the world smell of green growth.

..an enormous amount of dumb, brute effort, just to maintain the smallest amount of momentum. It’s so easy to sink into the dystopian news cycles, to get despairingly, ragingly, heavily lost in all the ugly being exposed in our systems, in each other, in myself … which of course only compounds the effort required to get moving again, since now I’m running through and with extreme emotional heaviness, too.

Yes, it’s important to not look away from the ugly. But to do so knowing There’s green and good in the world, Mister Frodo.

Mid July, 2020, The Shore Cabin

It’s all green and good here, save for what looks like toxic bubbles on the surface of the lake, the day after a big rain. Oh, and Jet Skis.

Losing things, then finding them again just where I left them, and where I’d just looked. Often I have to ask: May I have my water bottle back now please? and then there it is, useful to me again. Reading Graeber on Debt, which is really a history and examination of slavery. Much appreciated, David. We really do need to understand the connections between economics and racism, slavery, and the misuse of people for gain.

I go to the lake several times a day for lessons in water behaviour. I’m reading the science (oddly spare and sidelined – apparently difficult to get funding for this. I’m thinking I know why…) I’m one of the lucky ones who can hear what the lake is saying, but it’s a process and boy, do I have a lot to learn. She’s happy to teach me, and always we finish with a long swim.

I learn I have exactly the right amount of fat on my body to float on the still lake without effort of any kind, eyes stretched up to watch the osprey, the swallows, the piping plover that just peeped its way northward. Sometimes an eagle, though not since the osprey.

New languages: Swan, water, wind, squirrel, Hathor: El, Ka, Leem, Om. I understand more every day & the drawing helps.

Early August 2020, Hamilton

…Not one cloud in all the soft, pale blue. Not much traffic either, on this Friday morning, sun-washed street. Dads and daughters walk home on the shaded side, dogs of all sizes and shapes on the other, toward Gage Park. They are reflected in the large front window of the house across the way. Here’s a pack of six sun-kissed, golden-white dogs drawn south toward grass, laughter, squirrels, bicycles, roses.

I love the parade of Gage Park roses, too. Each bloom a miracle of scent, each a unique transmission of shape that nods to the earth or gazes up into treetops, faces. Look what I have become! See how I am the sound of palest violet, of warm sunrise apricot, rich beating heart red. See how I have loved this world with my Self, opened wide and singing.

August 17, Owen Sound, at my favourite breakfast joint (Hooray!), my yellow mask handy.

The plan for my 3 year residency was always this: to spend the first year in experimentation (done), the second in development (had a great plan in January which took 3 months to CoVid-revise, started development late May) and the third a launch of the new work, in whatever format and vehicle I devise in the late second/ early third year.

I’m on track. This new work is really really exciting. I’m going to launch in pieces late fall with some teasers before then when I get a chance. There will definitely be ways you can participate and get involved. Do stay tuned.

My apartment in Hamilton is sublet until October, so I can concentrate on this work with water at my cabin, and bring the source material & sketches I gather there into the studio in Hamilton. There’s hardly any wifi signal at the shore, so my blogging schedule here has been difficult to maintain. I miss it! Will be very happy to get back into the regular ritual in October.

Along with the photography, video and drawing, the writing has grown in some intriguing directions…

I developed an allergy to making masks, but am on the mend from this. None in stock at the moment, but I do have 100 or so new ones in the pipe. If you’d like one, send me a note.

In the meantime, I’m happy to report that there’s an abundance of green and good in the world.

All my love to you.

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The Queen suggests…

The first few hours of the year 2020 are dressed with finely sifted snow. No hollering or screeching of tires, just the old trees rumbling peacefully in Gage Park. Some fireworks to the northwest begin at 11:55 and continue for fifteen minutes. I sense a breathing out in the world, like a photographer does, after taking a shot that requires patience and utter stillness.

2010 to 2019. Quite a decade.

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Houses. Ten years ago I lived in a house I’d spent five years building with my husband. Three years later I walked away from both – a good move. I will forever miss the trees there, and the walls I built with my parents but to stay would have been unthinkable.

I lived in four beloved places in that decade after I left the house with the trees. Released two of them, built a tiny, sacred one that will anchor my soul for lifetimes to come. It’s a seven-generation kind of place. Has a heartbeat.

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Cars. Chelsey the Tercel, Sam the 20-year-old red Impreza. Katie the silver Fit, and now Indigo Thomas, just cleaned inside and out by my family, in time for Christmas. All cars loved, two of them grieved like old friends when they passed on – Sam developed a hole in his gas tank, but for two weeks after I kept driving him anyway. The unbelievable cost in gas was necessary in my process of letting him go.

Music… a decade of cello – teaching, playing, cajoling, gigging, laughing, snorting & cursing (happily) at tricky bits. No regrets there, but I did eventually injure my bow arm and now must pay attention and play differently. My old friend  – (now ninety) with whom I bonded when I was sixteen – came back into my life. He sits across from me now like a strong anchor in stormy seas. Not an instrument, really. More like my grandfather whale.

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A great deal of learning and discovery about the capacity and stretch of my own minds (heart, brain and gut). Their limitations, too. Funny how doing a Masters in Community Music extends my awareness and insight into so many things that I’d once thought were not related to either community or music. Like writing. Painting. Or just …art, in the world. For and about people of all species, for and about provocative relations with the world.

Family. Our home was packed up, distributed and sold; my dad passed too after a slow battle with dementia, having mostly made his peace with humility by the time he chose to go. I read in his chair now, my book is lit by his lamp. I hear him every time the train passes my house. Ten months before the decade’s end I moved into a place five minutes by foot from the house where he lived between his ages of nine and twenty-five. Up the street from the stadium where the Tiger Cats won every home game last season. In a way that makes sense to me, I know they did this for Dad.

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Briar Hill was built in 1867 by colonial scots stonemasons, my parents bought it in 1968 as a decommissioned rural school complete with desks, a centralized woodstove, a wall of slate blackboards, institution green paint, and big white globe ceiling-hung lights. A house of many many great gatherings.

I live two minutes by foot from Gage Park, whose trees were no doubt climbed by my dad in the late ‘Thirties, and twenty-two minutes by indigo blue car from the park where Ontario’s reintroduced Trumpeter Swans spend the winter.

I moved myself here to make art in whatever form it comes, in collaboration with past, present and future. To make a meaningful third anchor for myself in this Treaty 3 land (1792) of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Attiwonderonk and the Anishinabek nation., this city of immigrant workers, artists and broken old industrial buildings, where 125 years ago the wives of the cotton, then steel industry magnates made certain there was an art gallery of note, and began collecting good work.

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These broken old industrial places are connected to our shame, that as a city we prospered early on the labour of African slaves stolen from their villages, as we deforested then paved over the astonishing beauty of 10,000 years of traditional Haudosaunee territory. The rows of immigrant worker houses are connected to the fires raging in Australia, the melting ice caps in Antarctica. the steam and fire still belching from the steel mill to the tar sands in Alberta and to all those who continue to insist that money is the most important thing.

Now the artists are here, to tell the story of where we’ve come from, and where we are going.

Here in the beginning of a new decade, our payment for unchecked colonial, industrial and now neo-liberal greed comes due. We all arrive, willy nilly, at the place where we question our entitlements. Each of us is called to be accountable to ourselves, and then to all others – including other-than-human others.

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Rage is good as a fire-starter, but it can’t be sustained; it burns itself out, leaves a dry husk behind. I much prefer curiosity as fuel for creativity. It is sustainable, can participate in a full spectrum of observation and emotion, can offer up epiphany and insight, understanding and compassion, but it cannot live in a place of fear.

It’s my sense that we need to find our way to courage, to muster enough curiosity to balance the fear. That this, not anger, is a good way forward.

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At age ninety-three, Her Majesty The Queen of England maintains her dignity and decorum, even as she carries the inherited sceptre and shame of British colonialism. She suggests that we take this next decade one well-considered step at a time.

…small steps, taken in faith and in hope, can overcome long held differences and deep seated divisions