Keirartworks's Blog

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


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Grand Plan

In the corner of my well-collected room there is a gilded chair, with cushions of soft cedar green.

I observe both chair and my pleasure in it, thinking how odd it is to have something right there in my room so finely made that the gilding is not ostentatious, but appropriate.

I do not sit in it.

My room, looking away from the gilded chair, at the bay window couch I do my reading in.

My room, looking away from the gilded chair, at the bay window couch where I’ve been reading anthropological studies of the Western Conservatory Music culture all day

Art Fundamentals 7th edition (Ocvirk/Stinson/Wigg/Bone/Cayton, 1994); Free to be Musical (Higgins/Campbell, 2010); The Tone of our Times (Dyson, 2014) – this week’s doors, waiting to be unlocked, to be passed through. Other doors I’ve left open behind me, each granting passage into a thought-provoking room, hallway, staircase.

view from reading couch

view from reading couch

Up, down, through, in.  Cognitive dungeon to library to kitchen to widow’s peak – each a different ‘ology’, each a story that links to all the others ever written, and those only now being conceived.

My mind is becoming vast like an ever-expanding castle, which, although timely and immensely satisfying, is not entirely comfortable.  Often it’s a tight squeeze.  I forget things like where the car is, what music I need to find, what day it is….

Union Station subway poem, Rush hour Oct 27

Union Station subway poem, rush hour Oct 27

Travel and roads.  I’ve spent a great deal of time not-home, in-between.  I don’t mind this 600+ km each week of highway through orange maple trees and purple skies, cropped fields and pumpkins on shelves by the roadside. Pumpkins like people, each one a different shape and size, some sideways, some flat, some enormous, others tiny, a couple of them smashed into pulp on the road.

In between I read through and into cognitive change.  I tune my cello/voice and play/sing for Tom Thomson, for Mary Sue Rankin, who are gone from here but also Not-Gone, ever.  I am honoured and humbled to be part of a circle teaching gift from three powerful indigenous women, and to be gifted an improvised-traditional calligraphic rendering of my friend and colleague’s Chinese name. As the kilometres go by and events sift down into understanding, I realize with growing certainty that the most valuable ones are those that cannot be purchased.

Home from Toronto Oct 29.

Home from Toronto Oct 29.

Oh yes.  Lawyers (an interesting and useful contrast), to collaboratively and fairly settle and resolve a marriage that ended three years ago. Muffler replacement on my hard-working honda.  These are purchased in the name of maintenance, a ‘taking care of’.  A garden full of beautiful perennials (rescued from the bad marriage), now being choked by goutweed – I will start digging it out tomorrow morning, also putting away the beautiful summer writing space on my back deck, now blanketed by yellow ash leaves.

Certainly, for things like these, for ‘taking care of’, it’s good to earn a decent living.

ashtree_fall2016

My beautiful ash tree, three weeks ago, just after Thanksgiving. Now it’s mostly on the deck.

Remembrance day concert soon in the marvellously thriving community arts centre – this one a collaboration of elementary school musicians and the community concert choir, who both need cello, lucky me.

Things you can’t purchase, but have the greatest value.

Generosity.  Thanks-giving.  Remembrance.  Care.

 


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Value

What an intense beginning to October it has been.  It feels like I’ve been birth canal-ed – squeezed into a ‘passage through’ from that September of structural change (schedule, mental, energetic) into this October of ‘Now, GROW’.  This is the first morning of stillness after a massive storm of People and Events and I find myself looking around in wonder, like a newborn.

bridge on the way to my weekly class at Laurier

Bridge on the way to my weekly class at Laurier.  Like a birth canal, save that I come back through it every week at midnight.  Always an odd sensation.

I played back-to-back gigs in three completely different genres from Friday until Sunday at 2pm – the fallout from those rehearsals is over there…

Oh yes, and Friday was also my birthday. Why the roses...

Oh yes, and Friday was also my birthday. Why the roses…

I threw my old loveseat in a dumpster on Saturday too – the old pullout that didn’t pull out was my bed for the year after my marriage ended in 2013 and despite its’ size and brokenness, the ragged sides ravaged by cats and the seat pillows I never did finish reupholstering, I loved it dearly.  We pushed it over the edge and it opened one last time to say goodbye.  I whispered thank you for holding me before we drove away.  The tears that came then (and now, I’ll admit) are proof of my exhaustion.  Change.  Sigh.

Plaid. High back, which makes me feel short. Longer by two feet. hmmm.

Plaid. High back, which makes me feel short. Longer by two feet.

This new old couch has good pedigree (people very very dear to me have sat and slept here) and I have high hopes for it’s eventual ‘rightness’ in this space, though it still feels awkward. The studio cats have shunned it, so far.

I suspect it will grow in usefulness as I settle in to the habit of reading books, annotating books, blogging about books and commenting on the blogs of classmates.  This is how doing a Masters in Community Music translates into daily life. Ha – even as I write I know that’s not even the half of it.  This masters pervades all levels of now – how can it not, when books entitled Music and Mind in Daily Life (Clarke/Dibbin/Pitts, 2010) are on the week’s menu?  Every class from 7 until 10 pm) we talk about what is meaningful and authentic. How this changes when music becomes a commercialized product.  What does it feel like, to share musical space, to tell true musical stories that resonate and mix across personal and political cultures.  How music is so naturally inclusive, yet so easily distorted by projections of class, identity and politics.  How Music changes things, always.

Books like food. Masters is like eating and eating when you know you are already full. An exercise in stamina...

Books like food. Masters is like eating and eating when you know you are already full. An exercise in stamina…

I have not found ‘normal’ yet.  In the openness of this morning I look at my weeks and think, something has got to go.  There’s not enough room, currently, for the things I need to do, for the books I need to read.

And yet this is a stage in any valuable long-term project that I recognize, and relish – a good exercise in using emotional intelligence to understand what’s going to be supportive, gain me greater clarity, sharper focus.

And what is not.

chair_floor_studio

I’ve added things.  Cello lessons every other week (we are changing my right thumb position, working on my bowing, and fine-tuning my ears).  New cello students.  A string ensemble gathering every other week.  Learning lead vocals on two songs – one gaelic, one by Robbie Burns, for a mini-tour in Toronto in 2 weeks.  A drawing class for people who think they can’t in November, functional art making, and visual art making for a Studio Tour in December (this is how I will PAY for the masters – I have commissions and buyers, but so far no time to do the work).  Christmas mini-tour with my favourite musical collaborators.  Regular family visits.  Good, slow time with my dear and significant other.  Time spent listening and laughing with old and new friends.

It’s a lot, yes.  Doable if I practise smart self-care.  If I can find and work from a new lightness of being.

There is is.  I know what I need to let go of.  All the old heavy I carry that’s not mine.  Stories that are long over but still stuck in a run-on sentence.  Time to close those old books, and burn them.

Ah, that crazy beautiful bridge.

crazy beautiful bridge.


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List of five

A rainy 5:20 am in the darkening northern hemisphere.  It is November 1.

StudioOctober22_2015

I was lucky enough to be on the road every weekend last month, to and from Kingston, Toronto, Peterborough.  I drove through ridings filled with campaign signage, fields of shorn crops, hills of red and yellow trees, towns surrounded by housing developments and the occasional marsh, feeling grateful and tiny.  Skies full of bruised purple clouds shedding rain even as the slanted sun blazed through to set hill and valley aflame.  All night on super highways through a 386 kilometre downpour, I wondered at my strange need to always be not the fastest, but the first, even on slippery roads.

The beautiful front porch of the Peterborough house I stayed in

The beautiful front porch of the Peterborough house I stayed in

For the first hour, driving is thinking.  In the second hour mental chatter dissolves into a song of the land and the way through it.  By the third there is no-mind, by the fourth, lightness of being.  I hadn’t realized how small my world had become, before October’s road trips.  Thanksgiving, indeed.

coach house garden in old Kingston

coach house garden in old Kingston

Home on November 1 is a tunnel into winter.  I assess, I simplify, I clean up the past seven months and carefully file valuable things – deck chairs and tables, garden plants, kayak, things found on hikes, shared laughter, simple grief, great joy, humbling rage that left me stronger when it had passed.  It’s the inner garden we prepare to tend now, during and enduring the frozen months.  Experience is compost.

Rue flourished this summer. Beautiful plant right out of folktale

Rue flourished this summer. Beautiful plant right out of folktale

I draw and paint bells for a show in early December.  I dig through art history to find work that explores line, light and colour for a drawing course I’ll launch this fall and winter. I write and teach music in my studio, and plan for an open house in five weeks, while Canada reclaims her soul after a dark decade.  Me too.


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#Water: integrity

I think about reflection, and Oscar Wilde pops into my intuitive fishing net.  He brings his Dorians Grey for discussion – the beautiful ageless public face and the ever more twisted and toxic one hidden in the attic.

RaftWater2

Oscar the bon vivant who hides a keenly perceptive heart behind his great wit – he’s good company when I’ve just come through a wicked-hard tunnel of work and surface to breathe in an hour without deadlines, rehearsals, concerts or commitments.

OtterBrownstare

We talk about navigating the treacherous waters of high society, while still maintaining the even keel of integrity. We share stories of being maneuvered to help a cause in the name of great friendship then later discovering to our great embarrassment that we’d simply been used.  Is it the cause, then, that reaps the value invested?  We suppose so together, and sip dry dry wine richly laced with self-mockery.  It is the most healing of all humours.

shorelineHarbour

We see and reflect only on what we know, and are so often blind to the world beneath the surface. If water is a universal solvent then it is also a solution of which we are all an integral part.

a place I love.

a place I love.

Value comes in different currency for everyone, but I would wish for this world that we could value one another, and ourselves, more than we do.

 


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My Ugly

i used to identify with the glamour I can pull up out of my performance joy, as though it was the best part of me. It certainly got the most attention.


Now I think of it more like one of many essential ‘functions’.  A runner learns how to run, or a digger to dig- I’m a musician. so performance is a muscle I learned to identify and then make good use of.  I’m only now beginning to to understand that it’s not the point.


Gandalf uses glamour to great effect (greater in the books) when he absolutely needs to make certain that what he’s saying is heard and understood.  He gets bigger, more dominant, more resonant.  A performance.  But not the point.


There are deeper things in me that are far more essential, valuable, and private.  They include My Ugly which I spar with in deadly contests more often than I care to acknowledge.

I have grown a deep respect for My Ugly over the years.  She has taught me more than anyone else, and is wiser than I will ever be.


I feel like the ocean tonight.  As though the surface of me has nothing to do with who I am- it’s just a reflection of everything else.


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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.

 


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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.

Icegrotto4

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

Icegrotto3

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