Meanwhile, nature enchants.

 

It is Sunday morning and I look out my kitchen window, alarmed at the silence. There are no bird songs. No pigeons cooing, no seagulls screeching, crows cawing, sparrows singing…

I took a walk into the park on Friday. Looking out over the ocean into the haze, eyes, stinging, feeling heartbroken for Earth.

Meanwhile, nature enchants.

A beaver glided by peacefully at the lagoon.

Continuing on past the ducks and heron.

Sparrows always make me gasp with delight.

 

Breathtaking. In very aspect of the word.

I am obsessed with a photo of Lucy Knisley. So I had to sketch it.

I am obsessed with a photo of artist Lucy Knisley.

So I had to sketch it in my journal.

Those eyes. That spirit. That talent.

I am, by my superficial definition, an ugly person.

“I often stood in front of the mirror alone, wondering how ugly a person could get.”
Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye 

I embrace my aging and postmenopausal expansion of body.

More accurately- I am trying to embrace my aging, ugliness, and expanding irrelevant body but…

INSIDE I feel like Lucy in that photo.

OUTSIDE- old, grateful, done. An old comfortable, crumpled, filled with aches and pains, flesh envelope.

INSIDE- I am young. And beautiful. Like Lucy.

And free.

My mind dances. A happy sponge.

I’ll take it.

The body.

My body.

It ages.

And I thank it.

One day it will be done.

Until then, I am grateful for it carrying me through this strange and exquisite life.

A sock snapping turtle eating David Sedaris’ tumour. A handmade gift.

Does anyone else (well, I know my daughter does) feel like David Sedaris (and his sister Amy) is a family member? I am that kind of fan. Sorry. Reading his books, alone or in public, inevitably leads to me rocking back and forth in tears or in laughter or both. I have always fought against the word resonate, but oh my God, his words RESONATE.

His book, Calypso, emboldened me to dig further into my relationship with my mother and her hidden alcoholism.

 

 

On Feb 12 at 7 PM my daughter and I arrived at the Vogue Theatre for the Vancouver’s Writer’s Fest: an Evening with David Sedaris.

We had our books in our hands aware that after the show David would be doing signings. I knew if I was going to get a book signed, I needed to bring some Sedaris-esque gift. .

Those that know me, know I make sock creatures. Pretty obsessively. So, of course, I made David one based on his notorious story in Calypso about the snapping turtle and the tumour (3:40 mark):

 

I’ve had tumours taken out and thought similar things. So, again his words… RESONATED.

Here it is – an ugly snapping turtle eating David’s tumour:

Once in the theatre we headed up the stairs to the balcony and turned the corner on the second flight and first thing we see is David Sedaris sitting at a table already signing books!  OMG OMG OMG OMG

A NO PHOTOS PLEASE sign was on his desk, as well as a bunch of coloured sharpies, his empty plate and cutlery etc.

We went straight into the lineup. There are too many great stories about the people in the line-up chatting with David- but those are their stories to tell – glorious, heart warming moments. David is incredibly generous with his time. We felt welcomed. He is also so tidy and refined and fucking funny.

It was our turn and I have no idea what we said, but [be still my heart], I gave him the sock turtle and he seemed delighted and exclaimed. “Oh my! You are an artist!” Then pulled out a little notebook and said, “Please write your name and address here so I can send you a thank you letter.”  {hand shaking, I wrote something-OMG WHAT IS MY ADDRESS?! WHAT IS MY NAME?]. And as he chatted he signed the book.

He then chatted with my daughter as he doodled in her copy of Theft by Finding Diaries 1977- 2002. They discussed her plans to go to university in the Fall and how much better it is to be a mature student.

He then handed her the book and said. “There. It’s a tree. Fallen down.”

THAT IS SEDARIS GOLD.

Yes, we were swooning but also we were so moved by his ease and joy and presence. By the familiarity.

We took our seats. 2 plus hours later we left the theatre, walking on clouds. The evening represented  for us that WE ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK. KEEP CREATING. KEEP EXPRESSING YOURSELF.

And, oh yeah,  I am getting YOU ARE AN ARTIST, SAYS DAVID SEDARIS tattooed on my forearm.

Extra treat:

UPDATE February 27, 2020:

Shaping non-fiction characters.

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What was initially to be a short volunteer research project into a Vancouver cold case to support a theory championed by a retired homicide detective, became, for me [and continues to be], a 17+ year personal journey “to restore to now dead people the fullness and degree of complication of their lives. To restore their humanness back to their lives.” 

“That’s our work. To restore humanity to the human being that went before that don’t speak for themselves… You have the possibility of willing them to life; you have the possibility of waking the dead. You have to liberate your characters to their full human dimension whether they are historical or not… The characters exist in a historical reality… that makes our work a kind of 3-D chess game… To make the characters real, you have to permit a darker side.” – Ken Burns

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Photos by Julian Bowers

The distinction between life and lifeless is a human construct. Every atom in this body existed before organic life emerged 4000 million years ago. Remember our childhood as minerals, as lava, as rocks? Rocks contain the potentiality to weave themselves into such stuff as this. We are the rocks dancing. Why do we look down on them with such a condescending air? It is they that are an immortal part of us.

JOHN SEED, Thinking Like a Mountain

A quick creative project on last day of 2019: The Death and Burial of Cock Robin

Rainy stay-inside sick day today. I have stayed in PJs and creative process.

I spent the last few hours interpreting The Death and Burial of Cock Robin with ink, watercolour and salt. [Source: Gutenberg Press. Original text by anonymous circa 14th-17th century]

Chanticleer, what want you here, So early in the morning?

“Cock-a-doodle-doo,” says he, pray don’t you see the day’s already dawning?

All the birds in the air fell to sighing and sobbing,

When they hear the bell toll for poor Cock Robin.


Thou cruel Sparrow

Thy pointed dart

Has robbed me of half my heart;

Ah! he is, no more,

Who us’d with me to fly –

He is slain, he is gone –

And I follow – I die.

Goodbye 2019. CHEERS TO A CREATIVE FULFILLING 2020!

Here were valleys filled with tiny trees and minuscule, tangled vines…

I am a collector.  I love the details of seemingly mundane little objects.  I collect discarded plants and nurse them back to life. I collect bits and pieces underneath the heron nests.

I collect chestnuts.  They remind me of my mom, who would often tell me she collected chestnuts in shoeboxes as a child.

I collect buttons.  They remind me of my great aunt, Helga.  I loved going through her button jar when I was a child.

And the collecting habit continues with my niece and nephew as we drag home treasures from the park and the beach.

And what do I do with all these treasures besides put them on shelves and look at them regularly?  I use them as illustration references.

I was at the craft store today to purchase foam board for a portrait order and came across a bag of dry moss.  Oh wow!

I have been planning to get some reference photos of the forest floor for a project.  I had an idea.  I purchased my supplies and the bag of moss and ran home.  I would try create my own little slice of the forest using our found treasures and the moss.

The moss felt warm and spongy, several degrees warmer than the air around it, and far more damp than she had expected. It appeared to have its own weather. Alma put the magnifying lens to her eye and looked again. Now the miniature forest below her gaze sprang into majestic detail. She felt her breath catch. This was a stupefying kingdom. This was the Amazon jungle as seen from the back of a harpy eagle. She rode her eye above the surprising landscape, following its paths in every direction. Here were rich, abundant valleys filled with tiny trees of braided mermaid hair and minuscule, tangled vines. Here were barely visible tributaries running through that jungle, and here was a miniature ocean in a depression in the center of the boulder, where all the water pooled. – Elizabeth Gilbert

Adding some water awoke the plants and the smell of a mossy forest floor (one of my all time favorite smells) infused the room.

Then I added treasures such as pine cones, shells, heron egg shells, pebbles, beach glass, driftwood, sparrow’s feet.

I am all about the nooks and crannies.  Therein lie the secrets.  The truth.

But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.
― Alan Watts

 

I am happy among my books – I am not happy without them. – Anne Lister

“Anne’s reliance on her books for mental well-being and personal happiness was clear – ‘What is there like gaining knowledge?’ she once said. ‘All else here below is indeed but vanity and vexation of spirit – I am happy among my books – I am not happy without them’ (2nd May, 1829). Words on a page empowered, enlightened and educated. She said that it was our ‘intercourse with the world that blunted our feelings, which made us suspicious, and mistrustful’ and that living as she did among her books her ‘heart was left unchanged’ and her ‘feelings rather sharpened.’ (2nd August, 1829)” – Anne Choma (2019), Gentleman Jack- the Real Anne Lister, Penguin Books

Man klarar sig i många år på ett ögonblick…

Just a few moments from this past week.

I was gifted 3 very special, very moving, very private days in Stockholm.

It was about family, about grieving, about celebrating, about the city.

 

 

 

 

Man klarar sig i många år på ett ögonblick

– Kalle Moraeus, Sommar Pratarna, SVT24

[You can survive many years on a moment]

 

 

 

 

 

This New Moon is about the heart, your truth, your emotions, and working with what you carry in your bones and blood from your ancestors, your imprinting and your own personal lineage of lifetimes. 

The Power Path

This post is dedicated to my aunt, Siv.

With my Aunt Siv at her apartment in Stortorget, Gamla Stan , Stockholm June 27, 2019

There is one moment in Pippi Longstocking that nailed it for me…

As a child, I desperately searched for characters in books that aligned with my anxious outward ways and my happy reclusive interior.  Charlie Brown came close, but he was always seeking connection.  I was seeking alone time.  Like Charlie, school terrified and exhausted me.  Home, my room, my books were my calming tools.  I found many characters (especially in Astrid Lindgren’s works– like Lotta, Emil, Pippi) that I looked up to for their passion, ability to express anger, for their independent spirits.

There is one moment, however, in Pippi Longstocking that nailed it for me- when I felt Pippi and I were aligned- and I would read that scene over and over again. To this day, think about it often, and connect with it even more.

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Annika was standing at the window of their room in pink pyjamas, looking over toward Villa Villekulla.  “Look, I see Pippi!” she called out, delighted.

Tommy rushed over to the window too.  Yes, there she was.  Now that the trees didn’t have any leaves they could look right into Pippi’s kitchen.

Pippi was sitting at the table with her head propped against her arms.  She was staring at the little flickering flames of a candle that was standing in front of her.  She seemed to be dreaming.

“She– she looks so alone,” said Annika, and her voice trembled a little.  “Oh, Tommy, of it were only morning do that we could go to her right away!”

They stood there in silence and looked out into the winter night.  The stars shining over Villa Villekula’s roof.  Pippi was inside.  She would always be there.  That was a comforting thought…

… And the most wonderful, comforting thought was that Pippi would always be in Villa Villekulla.

“If she would only look in this direction we could wave at her,” said Tommy.

But Pippi continued to stare straight ahead with a dreamy look.  Then she blew out the light. 

– Astrid Lindgren, Pippi in the South Seas (translated by Gerry Bothmer)

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See also:

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I keep the broken bits. They illustrate the subtext.

I keep the broken bits. I honour the cracks. They illustrate the subtext. There in I seek the true story.

Subtext or undertone is any content of a creative work which is not announced explicitly by the characters or author, but is implicit or becomes something understood by the observer of the work as the production unfolds.  – source

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Observing minute details is a solitary experience.

I find myself breathing in the stories that emanate from mysterious places.  The subtext of the old, the dead, the new, the fresh.  Gives me life.  Helps me create.

This post is dedicated to my soul-sister, Patti.

Silent interiors…

Fort Langley National Historic Site, Easter, April 21, 2019

I spent a wonderful afternoon with my family in Fort Langley today.

While the egg scramble mayhem and sugar highs rang out outside, I was drawn to the silent interiors.

Form follows function—that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.

– Frank Lloyd Wright

Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.

– Frank Gehry

I don’t enjoy living in a white box flooded with light. I like shadows, small spaces, old furniture.

– Kevin McCloud

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Every city is a ghost.
New buildings rise upon the bones of the old so that each shiny steel bean, each tower of brick carries within it the memories of what has gone before, an architectural haunting. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of these former incarnations in the awkward angle of a street or filigreed gate, an old oak door peeking out from a new facade, the plaque commemorating the spot that was once a battleground, which became a saloon and is now a park. 

Libba Bray

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Bird spotting with a yellow legal pad and a walk in the park.

I walked around Lost Lagoon this afternoon.

In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.
Robert Lynd

I found a heron nest on the ground after a windstorm broke a large tree branch.

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I saw signs of early Spring.

And hope springs eternal.  What else did I see?  Well…

There is an unreasonable joy to be had from the observation of small birds going about their bright, oblivious business.
Grant Hutchison, The Complete Lachlan

Every bird at the marsh filled us with a little light. I wondered if I was just so simple that this was all it took. But then I thought, I’m lucky that this is all it takes.”
Lynn Thomson, Birding with Yeats: A Mother’s Memoir

A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on it’s own wings. – Unknown

She decided to free herself, dance into the wind, create a new language. And birds fluttered around her, writing “yes” in the sky.
Monique Duval

Vision 2019: COURAGE

Recall My Big Vision and Mission for 2018:

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Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. – Carl Jung

This vision board has stayed on my bathroom shelf all year as a daily check in.  And as I reflect on a year that just sped by, much faster than expected, I feel the greatest gift of this past year is that I found an ability to speak my truth (out loud).  Even if my voice shook.

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In 2018, I came to understand that my core value is TRUST- to be trusted that I know what I am doing.  And I have been challenged in this regard both by myself and by others many times this past year.  Even today.  Even in this moment,  As I encounter(ed) and work(ed) through those challenges, I hear(d) myself (not perfectly, mind you, and not always in the most succinct way) speaking up.

Inktober was life changing.  Bringing me into a deeper creative process- allowing me to experiment with colour and narrative.

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Molly has been in hiding (as some producers took a stab at her) but I am “taking her back” and my life’s biggest creative project now enters a new draft, a new creative process.  I hear the voices of the ghosts again and a sense of emancipation flows through the work.  (And a relaunch is imminent)

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I explored my 1977 diary on the blog and though I haven’t been working on it of late, being too busy with my bread and butter work, I had a great sense of peace working on it.  A pure comic book version is the ultimate goal.

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I simplified this past year.  Savoured family.  Visited San Francisco.  Twice. Here at home, I retreated from invites.  Staying in with the cats.  Working, constantly working.

I pulled an angel card before I started writing here, asking for a message as to how I should approach working on my Vision for 2019:

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Angel Card bowl by Alison Donnelly.  Angel Card holder, a gift from Emily Cowan.

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The card is blank.

We have to be willing to accept that “drawing a blank” to our questions is sometimes the very best response we can receive. It calls for us to look inward for the truth and access our own authentic power instead of looking to others to tell us what to do or think. – Angela Rider

So as I have been reflecting on the year in the last month, one word keeps circulating in my mind for 2019: COURAGE.

courage (n.)

c. 1300, corage, “heart (as the seat of emotions),” hence “spirit, temperament, state or frame of mind,”from Old French corage “heart, innermost feelings; temper” (12c., Modern French courage), from Vulgar Latin *coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanish coraje), from Latin cor “heart” (from PIE root *kerd- “heart”).

Meaning “valor, quality of mind which enables one to meet danger and trouble without fear” is from late 14c. In this sense Old English had ellen, which also meant “zeal, strength.” Words for “heart” also commonly are metaphors for inner strength.

In Middle English, the word was used broadly for “what is in one’s mind or thoughts,” hence “bravery,” but also “wrath, pride, confidence, lustiness,” or any sort of inclination, and it was used in various phrases, such as bold corage “brave heart,” careful corage “sad heart,” fre corage “free will,” wikked corage “evil heart.” – SOURCE

Why this word?

I have become more and more aware of when the anxiety arises within me.  When the floor opens up and I fall through.

And a journal entry at the airport on my way to an extraordinary adventure in San Francisco clinched the work I need to do in 2019:

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That question often came up this year– what happened to my courage?  Asking myself that question actually kicked my ass into motion even though anxiety feels like a cheese grater scratching at my heart.

Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.” – Brené Brown

And so-

I will use my own esteem heart exercise:

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And focus on the word COURAGE as a tactile connection to my 2019 Vision.

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Head up.  Straight back.  Panic arising?  Yell- BRING IT ON!!! 

Speak.  Speak UP!  

Listen.  Carefully.  Mindfully.

And create.  Create.  Create.

Anytime you write something, you go through so many phases. You go through the ‘I’m a Fraud’ phase. You go through the ‘I’ll Never Finish’ phase. And every once in a while you think, ‘What if I actually have created what I set out to create, and it’s received as such?’
– Lin Manuel Miranda

It’s not that I don’t know what to do.

Regarding my passion project Molly- a true crime analysis2003-2016 was all about researching, drawing, accumulating, writing, collecting.  2017 was all about creating an online weekly draft, telling the story with images, words and music in whatever way it unfolded, sharing it openly, publicly.  2018 has been all about allowing others in, and letting go of control, and hiding the project and process away so that those others could take a run at it.  The outcome of all this is still unknown.  I admit it feels odd and strange.  

But what has been brewing inside me is another version of the story– one that only I know how to tell.  And I keep pacing about it.  It’s not that I don’t know what to do.  It’s that I  KNOW what I am supposed to do and it somehow scares the shit out of me.

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2019– I am ready.

Keeping a “don’t know mind” is important during this time as you may be somewhat confused and in a state of not knowing. Let spirit and your inner truth, wisdom and intuition sort it for you. Let go of any attachment to how it is supposed to look, who should be in the picture and how it needs to unfold.

There is freedom in trusting that everything will land where it should so take some time and enjoy your life, enjoy your community, enjoy the outdoors and enjoy your unique talents and creativity. Worry and obsession about whether or not you are “doing it right” will only rob you of your sleep. Let the energy of TRUTH assimilate into your being without any effort or hyper-vigilance. The word of the week is TRUST.

The Power Path November 2018 Forecast

 

Potato Nose Diaries (1977): Instalment 9- Torpet

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Previously on PND:

Instalment 1: Introduction

Instalment 2: The First Entries

Instalment 3: Do Tendu Jetés en Balance

Instalment 4: Sex Education

Instalment 5: They Don’t Know What It Is

Potato Nose Diaries (1977) Short: I am 15 now

Potato Nose Diaries (1977) Short: The Audition

Instalment 6: The Trip to Paris

Potato Nose Diaries (1977) Short: Steven

Instalment 7: Grad and the Part

Instalment 8: The Letter

Today’s instalment

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© Katarina Thorsen 2018

This post is dedicated to the Carlsson’s, Skååre’s, Hallgren’s, Envall’s.

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Photo by Julian Bowers. Ulriksdal, Mässvik, Värmland, Sweden, July 2009.

60 years ago my mother became a mother. (Karin Kristina Orwald 1936 – 2008)

Decades are significant.

60 years ago my mother became a mother.

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My older brother born Summer 1958

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50 years ago we moved to Canada from Sweden.

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Leaving Grums, Sweden, October 31, 1968

50 years ago, my mother started to write letters home to Sweden.

 

 

30 years ago, my mother’s second grandchild was born.

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My son born January 1988

10 years ago, I had my ear to my mother’s chest and listened as her heart slowed down and then stop.  My brother held her face and guided her through.  Surrounded by family. Her final exhale liberated her soul and I felt right then she flew straight down to San Francisco to be with my daughter who flew home ta few days later.

10 years.

On this day, I am lucky enough to work from home and simply be in my space in peace and joy.  I did what I learned so well from mamma- I cleaned the bathroom, did the dishes, mopped the floors (making sure to go behind the furniture).

I ate food so iconically mamma- pannkaka and cookies and egg.

Drank coffee.  And bit into an apple.

The apple is significant.

Mamma’s full name is Karin Kristina Orwald (Thorsen).

The Emigrant Saga Series by Wilhelm Moberg has so many parallels to mamma’s journey.  And the main character, Kristina, is wrapped in the metaphor her beloved apple tree at home in Sweden and on her death bed holds a ripe apple from her tree in Minnesota.

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