Tuesday, March 24, 2020

COVID-19 Report

Where I will be for the duration.

And then everything changed as the wave of virus swept over the land.

But you have to get up everyday. So I have been doing that and I have even been trying to work but I have also been watching my body respond to the stress of the unknowingness of this event. I have been cleaning, organizing, moving my things around. Thinking about getting things taken care of in the event I do become ill. The US/Canada border is closed so there goes my love life. The closure is presenting an interesting forced retreat on both my husband and me. I'm philosophical. We have been here before. Once for 6 months he was away, and we survived that. We're adults after all not hysterical children. The truth is I only go out about twice a week under normal conditions. When gas was up around 4 bucks a gallon I limited the 40 mile roundtrip to town to about once a week. I don't feel like I am missing much, hermitess that I am. The worst part is all the nervous energy and where to put it. The library is closed. My brain is splintered. I try to maintain a normal routine but I am noticing how little urgency I feel to work. I go back and forth from feeling inspired to just feeling as lazy as all get out. What has honestly changed for us? We are slightly more trapped than normal and now with fewer retail opportunities. I wish I had more food on hand but I also like the potential for pandemic weight loss. Occasionally the thought of escape comes to mind as if I had that ability and the reality hits that this thing is everywhere, there is no escape. Makes me think of a few dreams I've had where I am somewhere distant and unfamiliar and I can feel the pull to return to what is familiar even though the effort to get to this new location was difficult and time consuming. I am here. I am waiting for this thing to pass and I am trying to keep my mind in a happy free space where I can think about and do the things I want to. I'm lucky, so very lucky to have my home to shelter in place in. It's spring and I can't help but be outside to catch the show. Yesterday we had thunder, today there are violets. The news is complex and will likely get worse. In this moment I feel fine.

Here's something I worked on while we were locked down.

Monday, February 10, 2020

January 2020

I have been out of touch, and a bit off balance because of it. January is always a slow work month. The weather has been bad, my husband and dog both got sick. There was flooding eventually and a record number of consecutive days of precipitation. Rather than gnash my teeth or worse, I have been flirting with moderation, reading a lot, dreaming, and I launched a new website for my design business. Here’s what I have been reading and reacting to in the world. My lovely sister gave me the book, “Year of the Monkey” by Patti Smith, for Christmas. I have never been a Patti Smith devotee, I am not a detractor either, I had never really thought very much about her before 2016. I knew about Maplethorpe, I knew about her music a bit. I think the role she played for many young female American artists was for me filled by Canadian Joni Mitchell. I know a few of Patti’s songs and I was very interested in her performance of a song by Bob Dylan during his Nobel Prize ceremony. She was overcome and stumbled a bit, and had to stop singing. She writes about it later and I think it was that writing that I first connected with her as an artist. I mean who wouldn’t be overwhelmed singing a song by a legend, in front of an audience filled with cultural dignitaries and such. Who wouldn’t become hyper aware and lost. I read a bit about her then, she seemed very down to earth which maybe surprised me. So I was pleased to receive the book. It’s light reading, small format, some photos, a rambling travelogue look at an artist making sense of her life. Familiar territory to me. I then immediately read from the “Why I Write” series from Yale University, an essay called “Devotion”. This is a great reminder that the muse cannot be sanctioned into work. So she generated some spark as she does reading and visiting the graves of artists. A strange story arrives inside her in place of the essay she thinks she’s trying to imagine, and she writes it all down, and continues on with her life of visiting the sites of some really interesting humans, and recording her thoughts about her surroundings and feelings. “Devotion” ends with her having a sleepover with Camus’ daughter! What a great gig! So I applaud her for that. She is active in her practice. She does drop a ton of literary names which was annoying at first, and what her writing lacks in interest she more than makes up for with her openness about sharing her experiences with us. The travelogue is an interesting book form and in this case, art form. Books have been important to her and she reminds us of that again and again.  My next books are by my recent favorite Scottish author Ali Smith. I discovered her quite by accident a few years ago in my local library, a fact that I think would please her. As I am writing this I have now read "Autumn" and "Winter" of the seasonal series. Spring is up next, Summer not yet published. She must be flying, working on number four. The subject matter Brexit is current and so its character is developing further. Now Trump has been acquitted! 

I first came across a small edition of hers called “Artful” and devoured it. It was one of those books that contains an answer to a question you’ve been trying to formulate. Completely impossible to describe, informative. Which is an apt word because her play with the novel form is unique and she has tremendous curiosity about language which is inspiring. Her subjects often involve art and thought. Her writing also contains elements of the surreal which coexist easily with the real. Hallucinations, dreams, all play a roll and time shifts all around it like a serpent.

A college friend shared this online recently. 'The world is full of magic thingspatiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.'
—W.B. Yeats I haven't read much Yeats but I seek that sharpness. I try to thin myself out when I am out in the world, in order to mesh more with those magic things. Ali Smith and Patti Smith both access those magic things in their writing. 

Also read a terrific article in Geist magazine about Yoko Ono, written by Connie Kuhns. Talk about your feminist artist maverick role model. She's been to hell and back but she has kept on, and her vision and voice are so clear. She arrived on the scene early and was quite misunderstood as an artist. She was no pop music singer but she became a pop culture icon. An early multimedia artist, using film and installations, happenings, art as live event. She was a boundary pusher. She also got a ton of push back but she has prevailed with a message of peace and curiosity. She may be my new feminist crush.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Come to be with Me

It was less of a plague, more like mild nausea
the frogs started appearing after the rain
One came in and hid itself from me
I kept the lemon tree wet for it
this visitor from another world
Come to be with me
Every evening it sang its song, slowly drawing me
closer and closer to it until finally it revealed itself to me
I cupped my hands around its body barely holding it
Its wet skin anointing the palms of my hands
Did it worry it would never leave my kitchen, did I
or did it give it no thought at all
and instead got to work wowing me
with it's impressively loud creaking tenor
Singing me toward freedom

R. Moore

Thanks to writer Maria McLeod for encouragement.

Sunday, August 11, 2019


Cha cha changes. Summer is waning away so soon. I'm just working doggedly for clients and myself, enjoying the pace of my various activities. Working on the property and thinking, ever thinking. I walked down into the little hollow where the barn is, the other night after sunset, and took these pictures of the sky through the trees. The light felt like that of murky dreams and faint memories of summer places. Small valleys, fields surrounded by trees, shorelines, dirt pathways, and damp sheets.

August. Softly dies earlier material. Drought that is natural. The ground and trees are drier now and for the first time I saw a news story illustrated with a map of the earth showing the places where water supply is becoming a real problem. I feel the imbalance but I forge on, looking for sparks of inspiration.

At college in the mid 80's I remember thinking that the whole nukes fear message in the media blinded us to many other things that were going on at the time. Chief among them the pollution created by our own appetite for cheap goods. We caused environmental degradation, resource mismanagement, institutional racism. And now we're running out of fresh water.

When I sat to write this this morning I was not sure where I was headed with it. It's always surprising what trickles out in the moment my hands hit the keyboard. I am slowly gaining greater connection to what I am making, saying, conveying, dealing with, whatever. And as always it's good to just show up everyday and see what unfolds. That's what I look forward to, the unfolding of my one unique life.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Flag waving

My thoughts on Patriotism

Summer has arrived. It is the season of patriotism and I am again reminded how I am two things, Canadian by birth, American by residency. I feel like both and I feel like neither. This is something I think about often, what am I tied to? Where do my loyalties lie? I think the answer is; in the land. My loyalty is to the land I am on and to the region I am in, regardless of which side of the border I find myself on. My Canadian husband was with us at home in the U.S. on Canada day and we shot off American fireworks on my rural property. My daughter has recently obtained her Canadian citizenship so it was her first official Canada day as one of us. That was Monday. Thursday was July 4th and the fireworks were all gone. My daughter made pickled beets and I laid on the couch marveling at her. When my daughter was young she always spent the holiday with her American father so I was generally on my own. It was often just another semi-gray early summer day in the Pacific Northwest. It felt weird that we had no familiar thing to do together and that because of the crazy political climate we are in as Americans currently it's hard to to drop the knives and join our voices in song. Doing so feels so trite, all the quotes about liberty and images of waving flags on social media, not to mention the blue glitter eye shadow and color coordinated outfits. I watched this flag flapping in the breeze on my walk today. I stood under it for awhile and then made this video of it's shadow.

Some things that are inspiring me right now are:
Artist Heidi Gustafson's Almanac of Divination

T'ang Boogie is probably the first "film d'artiste" created by a modern Chinese painter with his own works. In 1973, with the help of film maker Tom Tam, T'ang Haywen gives life to the random paths of ink on paper.

Netherlands artist Diana Scherer seen here on IG

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Memorial Day

Memorial Day was hot so we went for a walk in a shady wetland. We walked along the narrow boardwalk and talked about school mostly. Stopping now and then to peer into the dark shallow water, I made these photos of the clouds reflected on the surface of the water. Looking down but looking up, seeing through and seeing nothing but the whole sky where the bottom of the marsh should be. I like how these pictures look like double exposures but aren't, with the clouds making a ghostly light effect on the water and trees.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Winter Contemplative

The studio below freezing.

Tracks and shadows.

Tracks and shadows.

Flowering currant prunings.

Moss and snow, flat light.

Snow erosion.

Ditch melt.

I am working hard. Sticking to routine and watching the mad parade of life as it passes around me. It's been snowy for what seems like forever and I have been fascinated by changes in the light conditions that accompany it. The thick cloud to no cloud and low sun getting higher. The snow is such a material change, sometime in February I wrote in my journal that I was distracted by the snow. The sparkle of it. It's a mercy in the winter around here because of the added reflected light, even on a dull day there are the most interesting light effects in the presence of snow. It's all melting now and getting worn away day after day as the temperatures rise and fall.

An artist I know began posting what she called snow drawings and that encouraged me to share the photos I had been taking of the changes in the snow and the "drawings" that are created.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Suicide season

Before you pull the plug consider
the faces of the people you saw
on your last day.
Maybe go back out and study a few more
just to be sure.
Give some consideration to the abstract after the angst is past
life really does go on, the wound heals over itself again and again.
A flesh knot of remembrance.
From where I sit thinking about death I am filled with so much sadness
that any of this has to end, the party, the hearts broken.
I see the faces of the already lost and wish them back
I would take them all back
and say we suspected this but could not stop it.
But please reconsider while you have the chance
perhaps change your mind, if the material allows.
But it's not that simple and we can never know
the horror of the mind gone rogue, depleted of life's persistent force.
Plan your memorial, pick a date and invite your friends and family over
present the plan to leave them and let the cards fall
make your case for leaving early,
share your plans for the afterlife, share what you believe in
play a song or two, let the music wash over everyone in the place
retire to your room and slip away under a blanket of knowing that people actually cared about you.
Maybe it won't end your pain but it might soften the landing knowing you went willingly
and bravely into that good night.

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