Keirartworks's Blog

hmmm. hmmm? Observations, actions and connection points through art.

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A broadly curved road

I went subterranean twelve weeks ago, maybe more.  Came up again two days ago, I think.  I know this because I found myself gardening yesterday.


This was a tunnel of a place I’ve been in, a way into and through the deep, long list entitled Impossible-but-Necessary.  In twelve weeks strong and beautiful people died, shockingly, suddenly, and those of us who grieve them turned inward then slowly forward; old and treasured things were broken then transformed phoenix-like amid the mourning, the loss.  Boundaries were breached, injuries dealt and received, some old trusts betrayed and also new ones established without question.  Concerts were rehearsed and played; family homes sold and contents dispersed, others burned and the tenants embraced by this rich community. Long overdue letters were written and sent; 50-year careers ended; a 20-year-old vehicle sold for parts; the streets in the city opened and excavated in the great replacement of metal with plastic…


As the boxes were packed and the old things released into landfill sites, recycling depots, re-store Judy Collins sang who knows where the time goes? to help the tears come.

As the goodbyes were said after the stories were told, as the weeping hugs were shared, Kodaly’s solo cello sonata raged and softened and spoke …

As the solos were played and the painting delivered; as the portfolio was presented and the university applications sent, Cohen sang ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering…

Through all the overnight insomnia on the studio couch Joni sang dream on, dream on...


As we turned forward into spring, and green and growth, david sereda sings, you’re beautiful.  Be You.  Coco Love Alcorn sings We gather ’round when we can, and we let ourselves be true…  Tyler Wagler sings …out the doorway, ‘way we go.  Where you lead, I will follow … Kati Gleiser plays Rachmaninoff and then sings our beauty back to us.

As the pipes thawed, so did we.


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Frozen Pipes semi-resolved, Day 20

The morning raising of the bedroom window blind reveals a bright blue pipeline stretching east-west across the backyards of our neighborhood block, turning north at my forsythia bush. I look out the front of the house onto our street and it’s filled with orange trudging men.

It’s raining water and corn snow as I ask one of them if he’s tired, because I know they’ve been at it non-stop.

“Getting there, ya.”  but he’s smiling

2015-03-14 12.27.09

Some of us gathered a while later to talk with Denis about what it’s been like – how the experience has raised questions about water as a human right (it is); how it should never every become a commodity for sale only to people who can afford it; little we know about the system that brings it to our taps (and want to know more); how good it feels to understand just exactly what 30 litres can do; how this is such a first-world problem but nevertheless bathing in our own homes will feel like heaven…

the street. They brought the men dressed in orange and the blue pipes sometime in the early early morning

the street. They brought the men dressed in orange and the blue pipes sometime in the early early morning.  Brent next door left coffee out for them.

And then I came to work to write music for Liz’ film and develop my water paintings concept a little further.  I didn’t stop on the way to load up with 30 more litres, though I did consider it.

At 7:30 my daughter texted this:


this is a picture of happy.

this is a picture of happy.

So never mind work.  I’m going home to my bathtub and my washing machine now.

Can you hear the angels singing?


Frozen Pipes Day 19

“..last year the pipe to the barn froze in February and didn’t thaw again until May 15. Nothin’ I could do about it, so we hauled water…”, said the farmer beside me in the feed store. Of course then I added my story of hauling 30-60 litres per day depending on house activity, “…well over 300 houses now, and everyone on our street just has to wait ’til April…”

“Water guys are out there 24/7 I hear, losing battle against frost though.  City water bills might be a tad lower now  (chuckle…)”

A version of this conversation is shared every hour or so across town and in barns & kitchens.  So and thus the February freezes of 2014 and 2015 are woven into our local history.

harbour from studio roof, March 13, 2015

harbour from studio roof, March 13, 2015

I still haul 30+ litres of water a day, cook only simple meals that don’t waste alot of water (I cringe at the thought of boiling pasta or potatoes now), and flush our toilets with a bucket.  Somehow, the fact that I can go outside in shoes (not boots) and with only a sweater on is helping.  Faucets that actually run with water could be weeks away but the thaw has begun, and that makes all the difference.

2015-03-13 13.07.46

We may not need to wait that long.  City staff (the heroes!) have knocked heads with a local engineering firm to devise a temporary solution for our little street that may have me in a hot bath by the end of next week.  Woot.

I’m feeling cheerful today.


Frozen Pipes, Day 15

We were told three days ago that the water will not run in our taps until the end of April.  I feel relief.  It’s good to know – that we are directly linked to the spring thaw, that we need to build the gathering and conservation of water into our daily routine, that we will forego the use of our washing machine and our bathtub & shower for seven more weeks.

everyone on our little street is in the same predicament...

everyone on our little street is in the same predicament…

30 litres of water does two sinks-full of dishes, makes a kettle of coffee, flushes a toilet four times, waters the plants, fills five large glasses at lunch and cleans the kitchen.

15 litres a day on schooldays, 30 to 45 litres / day on weekends. We fill these up at the Recreation centre, which is about seven blocks away

15 litres a day on schooldays, 30 to 45 litres / day on weekends. We fill these up at the Recreation centre, which is about seven blocks away

The value of water is now firmly established, and conservation methods improve daily.  As the days go by we learn the value of other things often taken for granted.

Offers for sleepovers have come pouring in (couldn’t resist), which has been heartwarming for us.  Strangers help me carry the 15 litre jugs to my car from the Rec. Centre hose, and offers of laundry facilities, beds, showers, bathtubs, meals, ready-made food (to conserve on dish-washing) are gratefully accepted and welcomed by us.  We learn to write our household chores into visits with friends, showers into dinner invitations…

Wine bottles full of spare water for little tasks & needs in the kitchen window

Wine bottles full of spare water for little tasks & needs in the kitchen window

There’s also something satisfying about boiling water on the stove and doing one’s own dishes in one’s own sink.  I stood at the sink in my housecoat and the pure pleasure of warm soapy water on my hands and felt – good.  A spring bird sang outside in the sun, which was melting the snow into drip music…

All of this white will turn to green, in a very short time.

All of this white will turn to green, in a very short time.

I value the warmth and generosity of our friends, this deeply compassionate community I live in, the inevitable passage of time, and simple things that feel good.

Spring comes, as promised.


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Day seven, frozen pipes

I’ve had sleepovers in three different friend’s houses now, and one at my studio.  The houses I’ve stayed at in town play constant musical obsessive repetitive drips in counterpoint to their ticking analogue clocks.

Our entire small city shares the consequences of too-shallow water mains and fast-creeping frost. We are either frozen here, or dripping – the latter by decree.  Idly, I wonder if we are beginning to live the consequences of climate change….

looking east from studio

Weather forecasts predict that spring thaw – the deep thaw that will reach our pipes – is still weeks away. The arctic blast that has swung low and stayed over central Canada still snarls through woolens, through layers through mitts and toques – our shoulders are hunched at our necks, our jaws set as we continue to trudge, to shovel to scrape.

We stay inside mostly.

Made into introverts by this enduring, deep cold, we whisper in the slow slow approach of Spring, 2015.

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when water is solid

and taps silent, the flow of human traffic increases.  I’m fascinated.

ice candles, made in the winter of 2015 by my friend Robbin Darling.

ice candles, made in the winter of 2015 by my friend Robbin Darling.

It is a commitment of time and effort that would otherwise go unnoticed, this answering of the need for water.


As the days go by a growing awareness of value. Mindful conservation where before there was only entitlement.


I cleaned the kitchen this morning with two cups of water.  Next time I think I can get it down to one.


Dear snow,

…dear Minus 25 Degrees Celsius, dear 70 km ph Winds and your Death-chill-Factor,

what the wind makes out of snow

Thank you for finding a way to freeze a substantial part of the city’s water system – at the very point in our heavy winter when we collectively agree to become grumpy that the world is not green and growing.

The first birds have come north, singing thinly in the cold, but – singing!  Each is reported like an omen and we fear for their lives in the brutal crunch of minus 35.  Then the temperature rises a few degrees to minus 12, skies clear to reveal blue sky yellow sun and we shed our coats in celebration, only to heave them on again a few hours later when the wind bites into minus 20, (feels like minus 38) again.  We each want to stay in bed under blankets or max their VISA on an unplanned trip to Cuba NOW.  Sweaters are coveted for warmth not style and thick woolen socks worth double their weight in gold…


This year there’s a deeper freeze to contend with.  For the first time in at least one generation, possibly two, we the city folk need to contend with what the country folk have known forever, that we are not entitled to comfort without appreciation, warmth without work, nourishment without conscious, proactive, collaborative effort.  All the automatic things we do – toilets, bathroom sinks, bathrubs and shower stalls, kitchen sinks, kettles, glasses, pots for boiling, living potted plants – all of these require replenishment from a source that is now dry and frozen.  We actually need to think about … how water?  Where water?  Need water.

Third-floor roof of the studio building.  Looking Southwest across the harbour

Third-floor roof of the studio building. Looking Southwest across the harbour

We of the four seasons climate are frozen deeply into this cold place where nothing flows, where movement requires effort, just when we would normally be feeling the ebb of winter…


Instead we now know just a little more about our small city’s system for water into tap – the pipes, the flow, the people, the equipment, the efficacy.  We have some time to think about it, since this isn’t going away fast.

We share our resources, our houses, our bathrooms, showers and sinks.  We’re crying Discomfort! but also I think we whisper appreciation for the ones out there all night in feels like minus forty whose job it is to pit themselves against weather and harsh, and try to fix, try to fix, try

Spring seems like years away.  But it will come and all of this will transform into a story we will tell and tell again.  Remember the end of February 2015…?

I want to thank you, Snow, Cold and Wind, for all of this.

When in six weeks I stand t-shirted and digging in my garden I shall think of the winter show of 2014-15.

And I shall miss you.