Keirartworks's Blog

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

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Snow is both light and heavy, slow and fast, visible and not.

It’s a season of contrast.


I live in a Canadian province that stretches from Windsor/Detroit (on a latitudinal par with Northern California) to Hudson’s Bay – a stretch between 42 and 57N; from carolinian forest to tundra – “Ontario is Canada’s second largest province, covering more than 1 million square kilometres (415,000 square miles) – an area larger than France and Spain combined”, reports my provincial government.


Somehow, after exploring many other places on the planet, I became the sixth maternal generation to live in the one small town in this enormous province that gets the biggest annual snowfall (and rainfall).  Owen Sound is nestled at the base of the Bruce Peninsula, which defines the west shore of Great Lake Huron and the rocky eastern shore of Georgian Bay.  A note:  I identify more with Georgian Bay than with Huron, which is like a lukewarm bath to swim in when all I want is the rejuvenating shock of cold water.  GB is 80% the size of Lake Ontario, second-deepest of the world’s largest inland freshwater lakes, and is guarded by a hothead Anishnabe god called Kitchikewana.  He called me back here from far far away and I came.  For good reason.

Pic by Vita Cooper, friend and artist.  12 street from the river, where I spend most of my time....

Pic by Vita Cooper, friend and artist.  Just right of centre you can see a brick building – I’m writing this from the top floor of it.

The geneaology is important in a personal way.  But the effect of all this falling water, both frozen/ light and heavy/ wet – that has shaped me and my understanding of the world in a very profound manner.

I think differently, because of it.


Snow, here, is peace.  The wind on our walls;  the vast plain of white outside our windows;  the deeply understood value of fire and warmth; the call to our belly muscles as we shovel ourselves out of a four-foot blanket of confinement – we live in a kind of shared solitude that makes things clear and simple.

In an ocean full of the salt of complaint, I exult in my good fortune – to be Here.




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The Sweet Ouch

Home to find the Shire bathed in sunlight and still buried in snow.  Three days home and yet another winter storm howls and screams at my north windows.  It’s mid-march.  I don’t feel in any way inclined to take pictures of this weather.

But oh my studio is warm warm.  Full of echoes left from hours of cello practise:  Faure, Brahms, Bach, Schubert, Dvorak. Endlessly gratifying workout-studies.

Every muscle hurts.  Including my heart.

singing, now....

singing, now….

Paintings all leapt ahead and comparing their new selves – mirrored across the walls, watch me move, see how I am, now.

More more more.

Wires like the promise of further connection:  1/4 inch to loop pedal to Soundboard to speakers.  xlr from MK40 to board to speakers.  These wait on new arrangements written in the car, on the road, in waking moments – and time…  after the meetings, the rehearsals, the photoshoots, the graphic design, the lessons, classes, visits….

Tonight.  Tomorrow, and then the tomorrow after.

my friend's house

my friend’s house

I’m bigger somehow, since I’ve been away.  So is the world.

Didn’t think I could love more than I did when I left.  Turns out I can.

To achieve great things, two things are needed;  a plan, and not quite enough time.

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Topographical lines

It strikes me as I look out at all the curves of white that this winter has changed the shape of us here.


October 2013

In places where two months ago I walked on level ground, there are dense mounds of tiny ice crystals waist-high, knee high, shoulder high.  Rooftops end in curves, trees and traffic signs are coated in snow – the town has the look of a David Milne painting.

January 4, 2014

January 4, 2014

What does this do for us here, in the snow belt – this fact that there is no level ground – that we now walk over, through and inside apparently infinite amounts of frozen water?  Views once clear and straight are now obstructed by six-foot walls of snow.  We shovel, push, blow it aside daily, but even those piles encroach now, shrinking the roads, the streets, the parking lots.

Our external topography is changed, and  – this being early February, when 2 weeks of heavy snow is still to come – it will continue to change.


I can only speak for myself of course, though I suspect this could be true for many here.  I think all this heavy white landscape calls us to ourselves, and to one another.  It’s not an easy thing –  to be cabin-fevered with your partner, yourself or with young kids who have not been to school for days and days.  To be huddled around block heaters together because the oil truck couldn’t get to your house, or to spend two hours, twice a day shovelling and blowing snow just so you can get to work, to the grocery store.

If ever a time there was when creativity and ingenuity was essential, it would be this winter.  In fact, Winter 2013-2014 could have a subtitle:  “How we learned to become unstuck”.

bocce with frozen balls.  playing and recording YouTube videos in the snow.  tunnels, forts, snow fights, toboggans, skis, snowshoe yoga.

spring's coming, definitely.  But I think we could still use some more winter...

spring’s coming, definitely. But I think we could still use some more winter…

puttering on an old project or two.  noticing that I’m dressing down for a Nirvana Unplugged gig.  checking in with my neighbors – ‘need anything?’.  trying a new thing.  sniffing the wind.


…feeling my internal topography as it changes; enjoying the new curves.

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Snow in April

I Love it!

Thanks Lynda, for the photo. I'd have taken this kind of beauty in January, and wept with gratitude. Now it's making me laugh. The Tulips are blooming, for pete's sake.

Here’s my friend Lynda’s picture of 1.5 feet of wet snow in Chatsworth, where they cancelled the school buses this morning. That’s 15 miles from here.

One of the reasons we all live here is that WE NEVER KNOW WHAT’S COMING! And we’re better for it.

Life is NEVER dull.


a-yurting we go, into 2012

Here we are now, ready to ‘clean the slate’.

At the very end of the calendar year, we’re both steeped in peace like chamomile tea.  We’ll pack the truck this afternoon and drive to McGregor Point where our yurt awaits (not really winter camping, just a canvas cabin to sleep in for two nights – we will take the crock pot and the rice cooker, and leftover curry from last night’s excellent meal).

But it is Away.  A way through, possibly. Certainly it seems to be one good way to take the ideas of New, time, renewal, friendship, family- and Pay Attention.

Neither of us wants to leave this marvelous house, but we shall go anyway into the great whiteness, surrounding the fire together with good friends we hardly ever see.  We’ll sing in this new year – so loaded with Mayans, Carl Sagan, with change and challenge and difficulty and promise.

We might even make a song with all that stuff loaded into it, so we can bellow it out to the sleeping chickadees, who will undoubtedly think us ridiculous.

They’ll be right.  tee hee.


I miss having Vaclav Havel alive in the world.

In the spirit of where we find ourselves on the eve of 2012, I’ll leave off with this:

The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness* and human responsibility.

Václav Havel


* he is using the word ‘meek’ in its original Greek sense, meaning ‘willing to work, uncomplaining, resourceful, proactive, gentle, humble.’  I’ve also seen it defined as ‘strength under control’.



Impossible Beauty

It began yesterday morning when the temperature dropped.  This dreary, straight down rain we’ve felt so wrong about all month became soft floating flakes of snow – wet enough to stick to every branch, every bough, thick enough to cover last years piles in a pristine white eiderdown.  Less than a day later I wake to find myself surrounded in pure white floating dancing wonder.  I have yet to see another natural phemomenon that transforms the world so profoundly, that so clearly gives all who live within it permission to go inward.  Entranced in the big window, I sit with my face twelve inches from the swirling sculpted outside.  The sense of it is sinking in – I can feel in my whole body that Winter is Here, Now.


It’s time, the Ojibway will say, to tell stories.  Time to gather together and slow ourselves down so we can share them, repeat them, sing them to one another.  To write down the thoughts that so easily escape and dissolve in other, busier seasons, to build hearth-fires and keep them burning, to notice subtle things about people and respond to them, gently, as you would offer a story, gently.  As the days grow longer here, they also grow colder – so we enter the season in which warmth replaces light as the generous thing to offer.  I do love this about us, here.

looking out from the warmth

Inside there is peace too.  This Christmas has been marked by a steady (but not punishing) schedule of visits, gatherings and meals, none of them fraught with tension or angst, melodrama or frustration- rather a sense, for me anyhow, of deep joy, true appreciation, and contentment.  We’re still not done – there are at least four more important gatherings to join, a huge turkey and a ham to consume (on two separate occasions, thank god), hikes through the snow with cameras and conviviality, books to read together in a house with others reading books, letters to write, and – for me, because Christmas Day came at us headlong like a steam engine full of Vivaldi Glorias & Corelli Concertos – presents to finish making.

I'm sitting right beside this deck, on the south. The snow has now completely covered the rock. Bye bye last year, hello the lovely 'in-between' of Winter.


I dreamed last night that I had forogotten to bring my cello to a recording session. No panic, in the dream – I simply went home to retrieve her – but it was a clue – I need to reconnect, in a deep & meaningful “winter” way, with my friend.  To release her chocolate tones again and again, more and more specifically. To play the Faure, the Saint-seans, the Dotzauer & the Bach with her into my new gadget, so I can hear them back, polish.  And soon, to write and sing my own, which will feel like building a warming fire, and keeping it lit.

Happy Wednesday all, & thanks for the beauty.



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thrust & glow & drink & feel & push & ache & hope & yearn...

Is this annual? Does this sense of URGENT URGENT RUN FIX LISTEN SAY DO NOW NOW NOW happen every year around this time? Anybody?

Maybe I’m just noticing it this time around – an old old cycle of violent push-through-the-dead-stuff growth. It’s equally possible that this is part of global climate change, and nothing will every be predictable, ever again.

Case in point: it’s April 17th in Owen Sound, and it’s been snowing and blowing all day long.

Sorry, no picture. Instead, I give you the poor cold, hungry bluejay….

loud, blue, agressively famished

I look around me with human eyes, and I feel it rising within – the urge to attack the piles of useless stuff anonymously left outside last fall. The undeniable inner growl that signals certain death to any thing, thought or habit that no longer serves forward movement. It’s more than a bit scary. See squirrel:

ready. to give anyone shit for anything.

It’s enough to make me aware that I shouldn’t spend too much time in public without supervision this weekend- I would most definitely offend (and then there would be the explanation, the apology, the clean-up – none of which I have any patience for, in my current state).

So if it is snowing in April, then let me be a snowplough, equal to the clearing of old, stagnant, dirty crap. Permit me to direct my springtime rage to good effect, so ground may be cleared for the garlic, the peas, the onions, the lettuce and the cilantro, which will only fulfill their full promise if the way is properly set. For it is rage as good as any irate squirrel will direct at you, if interfered with. Joyful unbounding rage as strong as a river freed from months of ice-bound paralysis, as it sweeps everything last-year-dead before it over the waterfall, into the gorge, into the river, into the bay.

If I could, I would forego sleep, and just work and move and listen and smell and watch and see…. until the pea-plants push through the soil, singing.