It is the dawning of a new year, nay – a NEW DECADE!!!!! With this comes the courage to try new things, to meet new friends and learn to trust more in the old friends we have.
John Joe Badger is keen as ever, and maybe more so, to continue his journey into this new and exciting chapter of his playing. What will you do this next, new year to challenge yourself? With whom shall you share these times?
Old friends or familiar, known tunes or new, let this next year and new decade be one of brave new adventures into the challenging and unknown of what you love most.
Bliain nua shona duit, mo chairde. We will see you in 2020.
“Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guests, an altar for the unknown God. Then if a bird sing among your branches, do not be too eager to tame it. If you are conscious of something new – thought or feeling, wakening in the depths of your being – do not be in a hurry to let in light upon it, to look at it; let the springing germ have the protection of being forgotten, hedge it round with quiet, and do not break in upon its darkness.”
Henri-Frédéric Amiel, Amiel’s Journal
We come toward the end of what feels like a turbulent year, and I suppose a turbulent decade.
The weather has been unsettlingly mild here in our valley. Then last night a tempest blustered in with all the drama of a storm we might normally see in March. Complete with thunder and lightning, the wind put an end to any idea of peaceful sleeping. And now, this morning, it is more seasonably cool, the skies a steely gray, which I love.
All in all though, we have been blessed with a restful holiday, busy enough with gatherings and visitations, yet spacious too, with blocks of time affording moments of self-reflection, some well over-due house-tending and organization. A true hitting of the proverbial re-set button. It’s been nice.
In a few days the workaday routine will return once more of course, but with it, a tad more intention in how it is all approached. My “word” for 2020: INTENTION. I’ve never been one to subscribe to “resolutions” at the New Year, as it all seems so pressurized and fraught with potential failure. I for one do not thrive under those conditions. But with a word or two steering my course each year, I find I can tack toward a general desired direction and I suppose that is just how it goes. The work is mostly internal these days, breaking down the strange damaging stress responses I seem so hard-wired to; changing the old fear-based, internal dialogue into something a bit gentler, more flowing. Through all of it, to simply allow it all to just be, much like the gorgeous quote above suggests.
There is a small note in my calendar “allowing” myself to return to the noisy world of social media once the New Year dawns. I jotted that note down with a question mark next to it, wondering how that return might feel after a month away from it all. I thought I might be chomping at the bit to re-engage. Alas, after more than a month away from the ‘Big Three’ (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) I am even more keen to stay logged off. And so, I must make some sort of plan to have a more balanced relationship with these platforms. I wonder if the work I do can yet carry itself without the back up of “sharing” on social media. I do not know.
As with all things, the outcome will likely not be one thing or another. I will have seasons of engagement online and seasons of withdrawal for deeper work, this is for certain. And in the long run, it won’t matter if I am “posting” daily or if I take a week or two or three off now and then. Y’all know where to find me.
“My experience is what I agree to attend to.” ~Wm. James
Tomorrow, John Joe Badger will have a post here wishing everyone a bright and tuneful new year, and I wish you all the same. Thank you for reading, for coming along on traveley and painterly adventures along the way, either in person, or virtually here on the blog.
It is the eve of Christmas. There are parties to attend with fellow creatures, many feasts to enjoy, gifts and food to share. John Joe is careful to capture solitude amidst this holiday chaos.
Along the way, while practice may fall wayward, John Joe Badger takes some time to listen. Playing is important, yes, but the real trick to learning is the listening. So between parties and other such social mayhem, put on a favorite record of your favorite player, playing your favorite tunes. It is yet another way of learning.
Merry Christmas season to all. May you find light returning to you in whatever form it takes.
Pipes are nigh on impossible to keep in tune. Especially in winter! John Joe, and so many like him, take to more magical ways of dealing with temperamental reeds…..
Like a good, long stare. That should do it, yes? Yes.
*I have heard it said that the great Liam O’Flynn would do this on occasion when a reed was acting up. He would remove it from the chanter, take a long hard look at it, and then put it gently back into place without saying a word. Miraculously, the reed would then be in tune. But of course it would. No reed would misbehave long for Liam O’Flynn.*
Raw December day, wet, dripping with rain and fog. Last night’s few inches of snow turn to slush and mud. I opt for a day home sketching and drinking tea after a busy weekend of music-making, and other such peopling. I am deeply grateful for a flexible schedule.
The paints have been fairly ignored recently, my hands opting for other activities. I know this is simply my way and the paints do call again eventually.
I work diligently on a set of mittens, maybe a second set if there is time. Gifts of heart and hand.
Iris rests in the studio room with me, both of us vying for the space nearest the space-heater.
The house is cozy, with the season’s usual suspects tucked into their places, remembrances of years past.
The paints have indeed been calling, which is why I take to them for a few sketches today. I can always feel the tug when it begins. I see something that I want to interpret. A scene or a landscape featuring a special light of some sort perhaps. And I want to delve in. This often finds me disturbingly out of practice.
Yesterday, before the snow came, I attended an art-book fair. I found it refreshing to wander the stalls of fellow artists and see they are still keen on political disruption, unable to sit with the state of things, pretending this is all *normal*. It is not normal and it will “not always be like this”. I hope this is true.
On route to the fair, I noted the beauty of a pre-snow sky as the backdrop to our city skyline. Today, I sketch from memory.
My friend Kim and I spend the late afternoon and early evening talking about art and resistance and I am refreshed. She shares with me the story of artist Charlotte Salomon, about whom she’s been reading and who’s work exploded from her while evading Nazi capture (and sadly, other evils even closer to home). Her tale has more to it than I can even begin to portray here, and I have ordered the books from the library to dive deeper into it all. In the meantime, there are many articles about her available which I have been reading today. Here are just a few along with some of her images…..
The sheer scale of her making is almost unbelievable. I think about Charlotte painting as if her life depended on it, with urgency and desperation to tell her story before it was too late and I am glad the work survived at all. Indeed, this storied work may very well be the world’s first graphic novel as it is now called. I simply can’t get enough of looking at these paintings.
I think about other artists whose work has captivated my attention, not only for the caliber in the work itself, but for the stories behind the work. Artists like Edith Lake Wilkinson and Alice Schille, both of whom I have mentioned in previous posts here and there, and both of whom I have found inspiring for their art-making lives.
And through the lens of the work of these artists who’ve come before me in the Grand Arc of Art History, I think about my own work in the world. I think about how it continues to evolve, stretched between words and image making, between material studies and experimentation. How it is never comfortable, and when it is, it gets boring. I wonder how many women artists, like myself or others, have flown under the radar their entire working lives. Many more than we might possibly count I would wager.
So on this quiet day, here is where my head is. I mentioned to a friend of mine the other day how spacious this time without the demands and distractions of social media has felt. We laughed that it’s a bit like when as a stay at home mother, your children first go to school (or perhaps when they leave for college) and suddenly, there is room in your head to actually think deeply. We in this world do not spend enough time pondering, wondering, engaging in our own thinking, following the mindful breadcrumbs offered from the gods of creativity.
I wish for everyone to give themselves the gift of this space. I believe the world at large could sorely use some quiet time.
John Joe Badger has worked and worked for weeks on his own, amidst countless cups of tea, and twigs on the fire in the woodstove. This week, in spite of his misgivings, he accepts the invitation of friends to share a few tunes. Perhaps he will try to play the one simple tune he’s (mostly) learned for them on his pipes. Or, more likely, he will play his flute or penny whistle.
But tunes are made to be shared. And for this John Joe is grateful.
In this past year, I had the opportunity to do some album cover art for a delectable collection of Christmas tunes crafted by Andrew Finn Magill. You can hear a sample below or contact Andrew directly for a copy. It’s worth the effort to obtain, I can assure you. A gentle take on holiday music which really sets the tone of things.
And while we are on the subject of setting the tone of things, this gem has been on repeat here this morning:
I’ll let this write up tell you about the project, but for me, the album simply casts a magical spell. It’s perfect music for artful gleanings….
And this, via my friend and flute teacher extraordinaire, Nuala Kennedy. It too is lovely and mood changing. And I highly recommend it. Here’s a review which sums it all up beautifully.
And lastly, you know me, I adore what’s known as “pure drop” traditional Irish music. I picked up this album while in Ireland and I’ll admit that it’s my go-to happy music to play in the car recently.
What are you listening to that helps to create your world as you would like it? What might happen if we were to more carefully curate what comes into our sphere of consumption? For me, the world becomes a slightly gentler place in which to forge the beauty I am so keen to offer.
“So the days slipped away, as each morning dawned bright and fair, and each evening followed cool and clear. But autumn was waning fast; slowly the golden light faded to pale silver, and the lingering leaves fell from the naked trees.” —J.R.R. Tolkien
A week’s time into the hiatus from the more time consuming of social media platforms. It is surprising to me how little I miss them. The season of gratitude and a shared meal around the home table is past and we are thrust into the highlight of the capitalist calendar.
We walk in the woods. We play music and sketch.
We maintain gratitude for the littlest of things.
We tend to them with care and full presence.
Still we grieve. Also with care and full presence.
Most of all, we rest.
As promised to myself, I practice the art of slowing down, of diving into deep time. Knitting, reading, drinking tea. A gentle but firm pressure on the reset button. It is good.
“The times are urgent. Let us slow down.” ~Bayo Akomalofe
There is still *busy-ness*, as there is in life. Appointments to be kept, jobs and presentations to attend to. But it is all a bit less noisy and for that I am deeply grateful.
Here are a few of the delightful things occupying my mind, eyes, ears and heart of late….
And this one:
I look forward to a catalyst for dreaming due out in the coming months by Jackie Morris. Even the updates on the process of its creation are delicious. Consider supporting The Unwinding. (click the link, there is a beautiful video.)
A friend of my daughter’s turned her ears to a podcast….
I’ll admit to a bit of back and forth between the lovely depth and gentility of this wonderful consideration a favorite series of mine, and the live news coverage of impeachment hearings going on in my own country. Somehow, the magical world of Harry Potter seems to make more sense than the one here in the not-so-United States, especially when viewed through a blind republican lens.
Via email, I receive updates from another podcaster, Jocelyn K. Glei. Her show Hurry Slowly began as a mindful methodology toward higher productivity, but has become a meditation on transformation of spirit, so sorely needed in the world right now. In her newsletters, she collects and shares lovely links which create a rabbit warren of inspiration. Much like I do here.
Since logging off of social media, I’ll admit that the sensation of “writing for the proverbial no one” is a bit more pronounced. But I have no fear of missing out as it were. Instead, I am wondering how I might be able to do these longer breaks more often. I am glad of the gift of time.
Have you opted for some time off on the social media channels? How do you balance your online time? Are there blogs or newsletters to which you subscribe which bring you joy outside of the soundbyte realm? I’d love to know.
PS, for Mary Oliver….. coffee and rainy days indeed!! <3
……With much practicing, John Joe Badger has learnt most of a simple jig.He has invited a couple of his closest friends and confidants over for a cup of tea to share it with them.But lo!Just when John Joe reaches the B part, *phlooofff!!*….. An embarrassing blowout!His friends do their utmost not to laugh, as these things do happen.Especially in the beginning.
The fecks continue to fly, of course, yet John Joe carries on.His friends are delighted at his progress, in spite of the leaks, the blowouts and the goose-like cacophony of his playing.Keep practicing John Joe!Oh, and maybe a little twist of waxed hemp to shore up that connection between your bellows and your bag, yes?Yes.
~A TWIST OF HEMP~ week 3 of John Joe Badger’s journey into Uillean Piping……
John Joe is diligent in his efforts on wrestling the octopus-like instrument we call the Uillean Pipes. Gallant even! But there are times during this journey when one might hear some rather colorful phrases coming out of the woodshed, or round the kitchen door. John Joe realizes he has taken on a beastly task here, and that this will not be easy.
With every mistake, out of tune squawk, honk, or (occasionally, miraculously) note, John Joe looks up, takes another deep breath and tries again. Letting the flying curses fall where they may….