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Revolution

revolve.  One cupboard cleared, one old pine chest emptied, two rooms of six reconfigured. Three boxes of books off my shelves and into the car for passing forward, a trunk full of clothing for VV. Winter wear rediscovered, pared down, and stowed in one kist, guest blankets in the other.

I now have a better practice setup, a reading place where the views are interesting (for looking up from a thought in order to process it), and a comfortable desk in the western window for writing, with the trees right there. All the dusty corners have been cleared out; the dining room table is covered in swans.

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evolve. This is a thought I look up from and stare with, down Gage Avenue South. I’m thinking of what has brought me here.

It rains and rains in Hamilton. Purposeful rain, punctuated with flashes of white.  A constant big throaty rumble dominates all smaller sounds. Every so often a crash I flinch from, even snug in my enduring love for storms.

I laugh aloud, like a kid:  Thunderbird flies above us, immense, benevolent, alive. NOW.

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volution – a rolling or revolving motion; a spiral or twisted formation or object. A turn or twist about a centre.

It is well past midnight, but how can I possibly sleep through the crash and flash? Now splashes of lightning, but the rumble is distant. I can hear crickets, drips – tree frogs!? through the open windows – all of the windows are wide open.

My soul’s centre has always been the powerful, living breathing lady of Georgian Bay; my life continues to spiral around her. I imagine that the water now falling on Hamilton came from there – pulled up by the sun, pushed by the wind, dropped on this house, on the asphalt of Gage Street, on the ancient park trees I can feel the deep hum of, from here.

We are cleaner, clearer for this rain; we drink it down like a blessing.

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volition. A voluntary service, an offering of personal resources to support something valued. Yes. I will do this.

Such a subtle distinction, isn’t there, between obligation and volition. The former tends to beget resentment, the other gratitude. One is often inherited, the other deliberate, chosen, in a selfless moment. Makes me think of how some gifts are actually hooks. More like investments, with an uncomfortably undefined assumption of return. Is this in part why it can be so difficult, in general, to receive? Over time, too many manipulative, conditional offerings; best just to say No Thanks.

Thankfully, and perhaps increasingly other gifts – of time, energy, food, a roof, effort… are just what they are. Simple. Human, compassionate, generous. Drink it down with gratitude for this kind world, pay it forward when you can.

Gage Avenue is quiet in the wee hours, dripping and cricket-ed. I’m here quite deliberately, but what of my gifts? My offerings? I begin to think they are simpler than what I’ve believed them to be. That this is part of what I’m here to find out.

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ignition. The act or fact of igniting; state of being ignited. A means or device for igniting.

A phrase has been niggling – shall I call it an aphorism? What brought you here won’t take you there. While Marshall Goldsmith has been highly successful at dominating a google search for this thought (his book has popularized the idea, which he unpacks in bullet-point form for folks looking for life and career hacks), the concept is as old and as wise as the hills. As reassuringly complex.

In the last two weeks of August I stared at the lake as often as possible. Swam in it, played in it, paddled on it while holding this complexity quietly in my mind. I am not what I have learned. I am not what I do (the push of those things is what brought me here though. I’m in a good place, grateful I made that effort).

I’m what I can’t yet imagine understanding, what I can’t see from here. What draws me like a heartbeat. What moves me. Forward. In. Out. Through.

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cognition. The mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. A result of this; a perception, sensation, notion, or intuition.

I’ve just walked down the street to the 24-hr corner store to get cream for coffee #2. Brought the umbrella I paid 5 euro for in Florence four months ago, didn’t need it. The whole world out there is rain-soaked & breathing.

Aha. The difference between inclusivity and inclusion. The latter is policy change (e.g. de-segregation), the former an action taken in full acknowledgement of the complexity and contradiction in any evolving situation. Policy does not change minds. Thoughtful, articulated action, does.

Aha. At its best Art is healthy connective tissue between other-than human beings and human beings, humans and humans. As mycelium connects plant life in a forest – information, nutrients, shared resources and understanding. Propaganda and pornography are toxic versions of this. They connect through extortion.

Aha…

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recognition. Coming to understand something clearly and distinctly. An acceptance (as of a claim) as true and valid.

I have the strongest sense that what I’m actually doing now is dismantling what I’ve learned – belief systems, artistic practices, cultural assumptions, a scaffolded understanding of the way things ‘work’. That beneath all the accumulated data of what I’ve learned about the world is a deeper, older world of what I’ve always known.

More like remembering than learning.

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Wordplay, then.

Revolve, evolve;  volution, volition.  Ignition, cognition; recognition.

= Revolution?

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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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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.