Early in the dark of the morning the air is cool from the night rains. A mourning dove coos softly. The cat plays amongst the wet leaves. Across the courtyard a teenager coming home from the night shift searches for his key for the side door. My coffee steams bitter and dark. I am ridiculously happy.
Ridiculous, you say? Why ridiculous?
Well, externally speaking, in spite of it being summertime, things are not what you’d call great. The other day my accountant hugged me and walked me to her door saying, “you are a very brave woman”. I hate it when people tell me I’m brave – it always seems to mean I’m in way over my head. Friends look at me sideways and say, “gosh, you know, you’re doing really well considering…”
It’s not important or interesting – the story, the details, the particulars. We can just say it’s tense – not even terrible or tragic. In my work in documentary, I’m always steeped in stories of such awful luck – a young mother with terminal cancer, a teenage refugee from Sierra Leone trying to survive in a strange land by herself, a man who is discriminated against in his job and takes it to the Human Rights Commission and is held up in court cases, his life in limbo for 17 years…terrible, tragic stories. I see the news lately – not even the stuff about Gaza and the Ukraine, but the stuff about water in Detroit being shut off to a huge part of the population, and the concurrent news about companies discussing the privatization of water, and I wonder how crazy our world really is, and how much crazier it’s going to get.
So I’m grateful for a deliciously simple moment on a cool morning when I see it and I am happy – up, buoyant, optimistic, enthusiastic. Happy to be alive. Happy to have a hot cup of coffee. Happy to feel the cool rains after a hot summer day. Happy to see the beauty in so many flowers in bloom -
Happy for a weekend away with horses and nephews -
Happy to have a bike that will roll me down the hill to the beach -
The astrologers say the tough stuff has been all about the Grand Cross, a doozy of a tense aspect, ripping one’s life to shreds, but apparently the fact that I’ve had Jupiter in my sign for the duration has made me upbeat in spite of it all. Ridiculously so. Inappropriately so.
Astrologers and psychics do good business in times of uncertainty and economic downturn, they say.
So maybe partly for that reason, I’ve been trying to teach myself the Tarot. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up living in a tent and wrap a scarf around my head and pretend to be psychic and read cards for a living. And besides, I love the mystery the cards embody, how they seem to speak like dreams, through enigmatic cryptic imagery where you have to feel you way through intuitively to find meanings that slip around like eels if you try to hold on too tight.
And one of the things that’s got me thinking they kinda really do work, is that I’ve noticed how I always get the same cards -
The Tower I’ve seen a lot of – not a lucky card.
And I never ever get say, The Hierophant or The Emperor or the Queen of Pentacles or Swords – none of the more sober and practical and grounded characters that exist in the deck, no. Not for me.
On the other hand, I do get, again and again, The Fool.
Strolling along without a care in the world, an innocent, a naïf, about to step off the precipice into the unknown…Weekly Photo Challenge – Summer Lovin’
P.S. – our local Canadian water hero is Maude Barlow – check out some of her stuff here.
We started shedding STUFF 2 or 3 months before the move.
Books, files, furniture, clothes, dishes, more books, more files, paper, so much paper, a bit more furniture, more and more and more stuff went out onto the sidewalk, into the garbage.
We knew we had to downsize by about 70 percent, that we would have a space so much smaller, so much tighter, that we had to get rid of everything but the essential.
As I sifted through mountains, years of mysteriously irrelevant things, I remembered one of my gurus asking me years ago if I had a lot of stuff. I had to allow as how I did. You must get rid of all this junk, she said, to become a spiritual warrior.
Maybe it was because I didn’t identify as a spiritual warrior that I dawdled, did nothing at the time. I identified more as a lost girl, not a warrior.
My son was done getting his things ready in about 3 days. I needed the 3 months.
The first trip out to the new place I made with a girlfriend the middle of May.
As we carried in a few boxes, a child from down the hallway held the doors open for us – a shy and silent angel.
The two of us smudged the space – she had extra-special-super-sacred sage, I had some copal.
It all seemed very auspicious.
The movers did the bulk of the move a bit later in May – my boy has been installed here since then.I lingered at the old place, savouring the relative expansivesness, not ready to face the smallness of our new space.
I realized that our little rented cottage, nestled in a quiet pocket of downtown, had been the longest I’d lived anywhere in my entire life.
10 years. Hard to let go.
Finally, May 31st, I had to be out.
The last ferrying of stuff, a 2-car adventure with friends, brought all the last items from our previous existence into this new place of abode.
This room is our living room / dining room / work space. What was spread over 3 floors and 4 large rooms has all been condensed into this one little burst of chaos.
Still more stuff needs to be shed.
But the process pushes one to discover priorities – the process of being forced to choose, to boil it all down to the essential, is a revelation into what IS the essential.
Turns out a little space to be creative, and the associated paraphernalia, is important to me.
For the last couple of years, I’d been making art in my bedroom, but my new bedroom is perhaps a quarter of the size of my previous room – it is big enough for my bed and a small bookcase. The dresser is in the closet.
No room here for art-making, so the art-making mess has had to move into the one big shared room, right in the middle of everything.Now, one week into this new space, this new life, something feels different.
This letting go of stuff – of 9/10 of my library, of 3/4 of the furniture, of mountains and mountains of miscellaneous junk that I no longer remembered why we had in the first place feels… totally liberating. I feel SO much lighter. Almost as if I’ve lost weight.
I do miss having a bigger space, having more room to make a mess in, and also the cool of the garden in the evenings and the dark of the sky above.
But there is a patio here, a little bit of garden to work with, some glorious trees in the shared courtyard and the sound of birds in the morning – robins, cardinals, and a large contingent of swallows.
I love swallows.
Fact is, I never would have shed all that stuff without the massive kick in the butt delivered by the need to move.
Now that so much junk is gone, now that we are lighter, now that we are freer, it feels like anything could happen…
Perhaps there’s something to that spiritual warrior thing after all…
Weekly Photo Challenge – Room
For a month or two I’ve been inviting friends over for dinner, wining and dining them into the night, and, when they’re relaxed and off-guard, I lure them up to my room, blinking and confused, and force them to sit on the edge of my bed and look at my art.
I’ve been so hungry for feedback, ravenous after many hours and days and weeks over the winter of experimenting with different forms, jamming around with the photos, the painting, the collages – I need need need to see what people respond to.I’d invited a bunch of people over for a barbeque last night, a little seasonal fair, and as I was tidying and mopping and vacuuming in anticipation of their arrival, it occurred to me – I’d have them hostage for hours, could put art all over the house and see what people might say.It must be some core piece of the need to make art is an element of communication – it’s like you’re looking for a way to talk about something.
And sometimes it may be a private correspondence with the Universe – like cave artists making shamanic magic on the walls, calling to the spirits of the animals to reveal themselves and where they can be found in abundance.
Or it may be a conversation you are having with a friend in your mind as you do it, a kind of running dialogue that informs what comes out. And then when you talk about this image that has sprung from somewhere, it’s part of how you connect as friends – you see more about who they are by what speaks to them.So when Bea said she really loved the alligator – a drawing I’d hesitated to put up, cause it’s just a loose rough kind of sketch of a piece – it gave me some sense of a place in Bea that resonates with this not-pretty, not-girly kind of image.
But Tom kept remembering something I hadn’t put out, a picture I’d shown them several weeks before when I’d had them on my bed and forced them to look at things, an experiment with drawing and painting on a photo – That one! said Tom. That one was his favourite.
Sometimes taste seems to cut along a shared medium, as in sometimes the painters like the paintings, responding with a visceral part of themselves to texture and colour – Maria, a month ago uttering a low hum when she saw the blues and drips and bumps in this piece – And showing no real interest in the experiments of drawing and painting on photos -
Whereas Nicky, a non-visual artist, an actor / dancer / director, was very drawn to these experiments, and felt the one of the magnolia was the most realized, the most successful integration of photo and paint – And while some people have a more textural inclination, others are more figurative, they don’t care for abstraction, they like to always recognize what the image is, to always see a familiar shape.
Sometimes when you’re kind of on that edge, a title can help, can indicate a figure to be found and known – so for example, if I were to say this is a butterfly -
Would you believe me?
What’s your favourite, Dear Reader?
(Weekly Photo Challenge – Work of Art)
Maybe a month or two back, a friend told me she’d posted a frog picture I gave her on her fridge in an attempt to invoke spring. It made me think of my frog deity painting thingy, who I see as some kind of Lord of the Marsh, of the wetlands and creeks and bullrushes, and I put him out where I could see him, wishing, waiting for warmer days -
I’ve signed up for this thing – 100 Days of Happiness – what better thing to take on when your life feels like a tornado has struck.
Simple concept – each day you post a picture of something that made you happy, and hashtag it and all that. For 100 days.
Yesterday I posted this first real green green thing from the back yard – spring finally coming, after so long…
Amazing how the sight of just a little bit of verdant brush can provoke so much happiness. Such a simple pleasure. The winter was so brutal, so cold, so relentless in snow and wind and harsh temperatures, everyone can’t help themselves but talk about it, the joy at temperatures creeping just above zero, the warmer winds and rains, the hint of buds on the trees…
Today I wondered what I might post for my happy prompt, when I saw this on Facebook –
Too fun. The sense of dramatic choreography to it, how they get all in sync towards the end, but oops! blocking the girl.
And it made me think of all the great African tunes that are so fun to dance to…like check out the snare drum in this –
And then I knew my happy prompt would have to be the new belly-dancing skirt / wrap thingy a friend gave me -
Just a riot to dance with! I don’t know how to belly dance, but the jingle-jangle is just hilarious.
And another synchronistic message floats up from Facebook -
Okay, wait, wait, just one more spring groove tune to get yer Mayday on –
Weekly Photo Challenge – Spring!
Lately has been a patch of such intensity, so much pressure in every direction, that each glimmer of tenderness, of humanity, of a hand reaching out in the chaos has felt like a branch that must be held onto tightly in hopes of slowing the relentless slide down a slope.
That dream the other night of a house where everything you touch turns into something else – you pick up the umbrella, it turns into an eel, you grab the doorhandle, it turns into a salamander.
A house of so many tricks and false faces and turns and complications, and in the dream I am trying and trying to leave, to take my son and go live with a man I’ve met by the seaside, a fisherman, to go and live a simple life, the three of us, if I can just escape this house….
But – But I can’t leave.
I can’t extract myself.
Yet.A couple of nights before that it had been a childhood home, passing through the kitchen and my mother making dinner and instructing me on how I should go out and do all the right things to get this man, to hook this rich guy already and get myself taken care of, fer chrissakes.
He is waiting for me outside, this guy. A producer I know – bit of a hot shot.
He is just up the street, and is impatient there in his fancy car, a sports convertible – he wants me to hurry up and get in the car.I am annoyed at being hurried.
All I want to do is play in the mud…Weekly Photo Challenge – Letters
Over the past few weeks I’ve heard privately from a few of you, asking me where I am, why I am so quiet…I hadn’t realized I was being quite so quiet as to draw attention to myself, but there you have it. Things have been a bit overwhelming in my world, much much stuff going on.Apparently there is a Grand Cross forming in the sky (planets opposed to and squaring each other, like a big monumental Easter hologram in the heavens), producing a lot of stress, pressure and change for a lot of people. Seems I am one of ‘em.Meanwhile, one of the things I’ve been tinkering away with, slowly here and there, is trying to get another site going, just for photos. I’m thinking to make Follow Your Nose a bit more of a writing / musing / iPhone space, and to make the other site, KathAphoto, a place for more finished photography.
It’s still new, still taking shape, just a couple of posts up, but I’m hungry for any kind of feedback, of course, so if you’d like to stop on by at some point, I’d be most grateful.
And for now, some more old scans, of Easter, of that monumental Christian symbol, in other lands -
Hope to be more vocal soon
Weekly Photo Challenge – Monument
Threshold of the subway doors, humans and hints of animal beyond – Threshold of a slinky bus, during a morning commute, he studies his phone, bathed in light – Threshold of a cliff, of the lake, of the edge of the city, of the transition from urban neighbourhoods to the wild beyond –
Threshold of a smile, of the beginning of life, of nascent love…Weekly Photo Challenge – Threshold
Explorations in the crevices of black feathers resting on an obsidian surface –
Weekly Photo Challenge – Inside
Weekly photo challenge – perspective