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internal inquiry into a considered response

There’s no other way to heal, I think.

I’ve read this many times.  It is lodged in my blood now, where it often sings me awake at night, sometimes until dawn.  It is in my belly too, still mostly undigestible.

The difficulty lies in the difference between what my heart reads and what my head understands.  Or maybe that’s where the difficulty lies. I’m not sure yet.

We learn battle-readiness, to defend our tender new-budded truths.  We are misinterpreted; this can break our hearts.  We misconstrue, often to preserve the rightness of blame, the righteousness of feeling hard done by; this will initially comfort and inevitably constrict.  In the end the effect is the same:  diminishment and poverty. 

I can’t name all of the possible alternative choices, but they are known by their effect: gratitude, openness, expansion.  Love.

Oh, the bluster and the poverty of me!  As though what sparks my interest should dominate all else, till there’s no breath left in the room, and the small simple beautiful thoughts creep away to hide their perfect nakedness.  Lest they get burned by the mocking loud, the snorting judgement, the braying, betraying complaining whine.

I don’t regret this bluster- it has been an important tool for survival these many years.  I do amend it now that I’m out of survival mode:  more heed paid to the exquisitely naked, small simple thoughts.  The tiny observances, the two-way conversations held safely in trust.  All the time in the world to listen well, with love.

It is one of those nights – my blood sings me awake at 3am and now dawn sits pregnant in the east.  Sheets and sheets of luxurious rain cool street and soil after weeks of heat too strong for the season.  I am grateful for the known comfort of this natural balance, counterpoint to my tender-sore conundrum. 

What to do?  I ask the morning, as she emerges. 

In response, the rich rain sings of gravity, release, surrender.  

Family. We are family.  I have no good answer to this difficulty, for how can I be who I am not, even if who I am offends so?

So. Let the rain and the tears fall where they may, in gravity, release, and peaceful surrender.  May the good answers come over time like waves on the shore, with no urgency. Small and simple, held safely in trust.

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The Bells that still can ring

This 2015 Canadian election.

I don’t want to know how many hours I’ve spent online trying to write through and responding to ‘stick with the brand’ thinking, or the conversations that possibly should have been more focused on personal issues.

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Ring the bells that still can ring…

At the beginning of each day I tear myself from Guardian articles and online debates about the pros and cons of strategic voting and move on to more immediate and practical things, like building the integrity and health of my meagre artist’s income:  details about rehearsals and performances, venues and instruments, music part distribution, class schedules and coaching in schools, cello practise and pedagogical research about teaching; the development of a new art course about Line, Light and Colour in time for folks to make Christmas gifts; the development and manifestation of new functional art for the November Studio Tour; at home, gathering up fall bounty and cooking/freezing soups, stews, stock for the winter, putting Summer into the back shed…

...forget your perfect offering...
…forget your perfect offering…

To not attend to these things would be to exhibit a total lack of self respect.  But I’m aware that the current reward at the end of each day is permission to engage wholeheartedly in the process of this election, which grows more and more like a comic book each day.

The personal is political.  In this 2015 National Election Canada struggles to reclaim, rebuild and then manifest our Self Respect, while the world watches.

...there's a crack - a crack in everything...
…there’s a crack – a crack in everything…

I fully intended to use these days in my studio to work on the #Water project, but this election has changed my mind.

The Massie Hall #Water show has been postponed until April 2016, when the ice cracks and the streams flow again after our long long freeze.

Instead of a Massie Hall show in November, I’m opening my studio to show new work, inspired by the election, by Canada, the state of the world, and by Leonard Cohen.  That will be on November 28, we’re thinking (several artists will be involved), and you’ll hear more details from me soon.

...that's how the light gets in. L.Cohen, 'Anthem'
…that’s how the light gets in.                                       L.Cohen, ‘Anthem’

I’m alarmed that we have come to this, in Canada, in my beautiful riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.  I want to be represented regionally by a states-woman, who can articulate my concern to Ottawa, about Truth and Reconciliation with First Nations people, about the toxic distortion of human governance that is Bill C-51, about climate change and the development of clean energy sources, about access to our own locally grown food, about poverty and dignity and full support for the arts in this country.  Our Beloved CBC under threat via TPP.  Our Beloved lakes, streams and waterways sold to China through FIPA.

I’m painting ships bells that call all hands on deck.  They will be hung at The Bean Cellar in Owen Sound the week after my studio tour, on December 4.  I’ll be posting them here in process until then.

Please Canada.  Election day is tomorrow.

Please vote for Self-Respect.

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I’m almost ready to talk

… but not yet in depth, about these paintings, this exhibition project.  If my mind were a light table, it would be stacked with disparate ideas superimposed one over the other  – I’m squinting to see what composite images appear from behind and through – negative and positive.

A sample from the stack:

the distorted state of affairs in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, our own First Nations reserves in Canada (and in so many many more places), where the omnipotent western economic system farms its money with no regard for actual people and their well-being.

Poverty; violence and hatred over women & homosexuality;  the broken bits & deep wounds we all have and are so tragically isolated by …
The mind-flipping, laugh-out-loud contortions of Toulouse-Lautrec, brilliantly comic (and deeply handsome) studio cat.
ToulouseClose4PaulThe dismal places where music and beauty never come – where,  if these two things could take root they’d without a doubt seed  miraculous change for the better.

The dark places where music and beauty DO come and seed miraculous change for the better.

The look on my dad’s face when we read poetry to him in honour of his 80th birthday; my smart, funny, decent, strong, compassionate kid.

The impossible, terrifying beauty of a huge storm; our bizarre and horrific love affair with weaponry that has no other purpose than to kill; the satisfaction of shoveling snow and making a clear, functional path.

All that is delightful, redeeming, miraculous, painful and inconvenient about being human.

This is entirely random, but hey, whatever helps....
I’m doing my very best to make art that is a good reflector for us all, including me.  It’s taking a long, long time – far longer than I’d ever thought, but I will finish.  This new show involves, but is not limited to china teacups (roof of our building, summer 2012).

These paintings had better be functional.  As useful as the tools they describe, accurate in their reflection of the state of things so that sparks fly and conversations reach a different – deeper? resonance.  This is what I’m going for – I’ll keep you in firmly in the loop.

studio shot of the latest development with 'shovel', Jan 2013
studio shot of the latest development with ‘shovel’, Jan 2013

… nail, spike, screwnail, scissors, pliers, vice grips, chair, pencil, needle, knife,
teacup, cooking pot, clock, harmonica, chair, sink, andiron …

Paintings & other explorations in honour of human beings and those ingenious tools we’ve devised –

Those ‘unplugged’ tools that require a learned skill, good strength,
and the will & compassion to make it better.

Happy new moon, all.

Your thoughts are welcome, since what we all do, knowingly or not, is collaborate.