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Peace

The beautiful winds. They picked me up out of sleep, made my first coffee then tucked me in for the morning write in front of the eastern window.

A quick scan of the news has filled me with wonder – we all are navigating this new call for quarantine, for self-care, in isolation. Museums close, the stock market takes a dive and stays there even after Mister Trump tweets a correction. Sophie, wife of Justin has tested positive and so our Prime Minister will self-isolate for two weeks. Schools are now closed for three weeks. The band shows up because music always happens, and plays to ten, instead of 100.

Canada has counted 150 cases so far and one of these is in Hamilton, though of course there will be more. The Ontario doctor who specializes in infectious diseases says that he was scared by Sars, but is not by Covid-19. What scares him is our fear and panic.

Humans are marvelously inventive beings. We can of course devise sensible, meaningful ways to connect, amidst the quarantine and isolation.

Mia the cat stays at the window, mesmerized by the spring birds who flit past. The purple and gold clouds scudd overhead as though the speed of the morning is pushed forward in time-lapse. The winter-bare tree tops dance and sway, while the wind whistles in through my open western window.

The world is a beautiful place. While the wind swirls, while the trees dance and the sunlight flashes through traveling clouds I find myself smiling. Peace.

I appreciate the feel of foamy soap on my hands, enjoy the gurgle of water down the drain. I’m writing letters and will send them by snail mail. I’m reading books, drawing and visiting friends I’ve not seen for decades – we can wash our hands together; there will be laughter. I’m taking my amazing young nephew out for breakfast too. We’ll make a game out of not touching our hands to our faces.

Happily my portrait work and research continue without impediment. There are some for whom this is not so, and my heart goes out to you. I hope you can find some simple joys to ease the worry.

We’ll sort this out, folks. Sensibly and with love. In the meantime, let’s find ways to actively love one another.

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Late in the afternoon,

Alright, I’ve given Paglia a fair shake, but alas, no. The energy required to sift through her self-aggrandizing provocations to find nuggets of meaningful insight is more than I have to spend, especially when other books beckon. Let it be known that I approached her latest with goodwill and open curiosity, and made it through a full third of the essays and interviews printed therin.

I like the paper the publisher chose. It felt like crisp linen sheets on my fingers as I turned each page. A first for me; the quality of paper upstaged what was printed on it.

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I could not overcome a growing distress over the state of the world as seen through Paglia’s judgemental lens. For me, she misses an interesting examination of the rich complexities of what it is to be human by directing our gaze again and again back to herself, as a kind of Queen of Opinion. I suppose that’s the game of (mostly white) pundits and politicos, as paid by the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, FT, etc… to divide and distract us.

Not playin; I closed her book.

IMG_2631Popova now, in Figuring (2019) introduces me to complex, interconnected humans I’d never hoped to learn about and from in this way – Johannes Kepler, Maria Mitchell, Caroline Herschel, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Sophia Peabody in the first five dancing chapters alone. I will happily carry her bright yellow book with me until it’s done and my mind is fully changed by it. Likewise with Shotwell’s Against Purity (2016), Tsing et al (Ed)’s Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet (2017), Berger on Landscapes, another on synesthesia, another on natural soundscapes.

 

 

 

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Like a spring filly released into the field, I am without academic harness for the first time in 2.5 years. I can read whatever I want to.

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With gown and hood, I graduate from my masters program, then drive around Southern Ontario (as we do) for 17 hours, to deliver, pick up, visit, revisit.

Before that a week of family and friends, to celebrate the beautiful complexities of my Dad and the resonances he leaves with his passing – another kind of travel, through time and story.

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Before that, 20 days of a journey in and through Dublin, Lyon, Tuscany, Florence, Edinburgh and all the related airports, train stations and car rentals, going backwards through the history of my ancestors, taking note of the ideas and economics and systems that formed their world, centuries ago, in four cultures and three languages.

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May feels like a long run-on sentence I have yet to punctuate properly. It sits in a pile of boarding passes, maps, brochures, museum tickets and restaurant receipts on my dining room table.

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But I am Home, where the plants and the windows, the kettle and the bullet-strong coffee, not latté, cafè latté, espresso or cappuccino, much as I love all of those.

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The park and my patient, glowing studio, the now-opened books, my excellent bed and windows in all directions. My cello out of his case and ready for ritual every morning, the starlings singing through the bathroom window.

Home which feels different because I am different after these journeys that still need punctuation, these travels I still need to claim sense from. All in good time.

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The horizons have been pushed far far beyond what I imagined; the world is impossibly, curiously new. There is plenty of good work to be done here which I’m happy and eager to begin.

…after I read just a little more.

 

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An ethical line

To draw a line.

A simple line can identify both home and trespasser.

Political lines describe differences, places of meeting:  here and there, you and me, us and them.

Natural lines are always clear, but changing.  Shoreline, treeline, river, snake, stick, shadow.

“Snakeroot”, 6×6″, graphite and acrylic on paper, 1999. Sold

Lines can protect the sacred, the private, the personal from the public.  Open, traveling lines explore, closed ones separate, keep safe.

Implied lines blur understanding, strong ones describe structure.  Like ladders, scaffolding.

An ethical line supports both the one and the other.  If drawn with clear intention, such a line can offer a way through conflict to respect, reconciliation.

A good, quiet line, both firm and generous.  Provocatively simple.