March 20, 2013 at 8:27 AM

Keith: Rebuilding (first draft)

“Cooking soup with stale words and fresh meanings; it tastes so good.”

By Thor Sigstedt

Thor’s Hammer

Thor Sigstedt is an artist in wood, words, cameras, bronze, cast iron, glass, notes and steel; a homesteader from Spirit Valley specializing in forest diversity and “land ethics” and a dabbler in practical and non-practical non-zero new paradigm complexity in the multiverse.


“cooking soup with stale words and fresh meanings; it tastes so good.”

I also lost a very good friend over the weekend, Keith of “Dia and Keith” who we often went to dances all over the state with (you can check out my facebook page about it). Very tragic; sudden death and will leave a huge hole in our lives, and, of course, Dia’s.  I had two bizarre and related things happen over the weekend; I got to the show down at Highlands and was walking in the street and saw the guy who set the show up and he said that someone had knocked over my “fragile culture waltz” piece (that was in the EXEX show) and knocked the dancers off and they broke! and he didn’t know quite what to do so I said I would take care of it (the reception was, literally, a few minutes from then and get it back on the piece.  The odd thing is that it broke right above where the hands are joined for the two dancers (two arms) and a leg broke off of the man.  After Keith died I could not avoid the fact that their dancing life together was gone and shattered, that their lives had in fact proved to be fragile and that Keith had also had a damaged leg a week ago!  Then, to top that off; I am not sure exactly when he died up at the ski basin (on the mountain overlooking both Santa Fe and Las Vegas), but at about that time I was setting up all of my musical equipment and had just put my book of lyrics onto a music stand and had bungied it down pretty well, when, all of a sudden, a microblast of air hit the stand and completely yanked out dozens of pages of my book and cast them to the street and against the screen wall nearby.  I got them all back, but that wind was no ordinary wind, like the butterfly who flapped his wings, sort of thing.......amazing life we lead, even if these are just coincidences, they send shivers up my spine as I contemplate the tightness of our lives, thoughts and images and experiences.

North, south, east , west


‘Yea, we used to have family picnics over here, cause we lived up north past Silver City, raising livestock and scratching out a living, getting beat up because we were white, but that was ok; its just the way it was;  we would get on  the boulder, run up to the brink, plant our feet, throw open our arms for that last balance, and make a little screech, , Erhh!,grinning,  like we put on the brakes just in time.’ So Keith and I did it a half century later, like those giddy boys he described, grinning from ear to ear, scampering around in childish ecstacy.  No more little cowboy shirts , boots and hat; traded in for a cool panama, some shorts and a pair of sandals; boots are for dancing only; for this re-invented cowboy who knew that the rancher wore the simple hat; had nothing to prove.  But boyish  fun is universal and will not be stopped.  So my brother Keith was up on the slopes of the Sangre de Cristos, reinventing himself again as a retired man skiing and became a part of the mountain.  Now, at the time I was in Las Vegas pouring cast iron and playing music for us, then going over and pouring metal; the windy spirit of profound change came and his spirit roared off the mountain and became a microburst that blew my book of lyrics and the bungee that held it down and cast the pages everywhere;  re-shuffled the deck and I realized the lyrics were gone that Saturday; the music died as fate turned the page on us; no cheat sheet; gotta persevere beyond that microburst.  And the cast iron sculpture entitled Fragile Culture Waltz in the art gallery nearby was crashed to the floor earlier; breaking the clasped hands of the dancing couple above their wrists;  we rushed to a hardware store and got some epoxy and I managed to glue them together before the big reception.  And his broken  leg was repaired too.  We all know that a glue job cannot really replace the solid cast iron that is created by shattering old radiators and such, melting them down (with some old man singing faked lyrics to old Leadbelly  bues) and casting them into a mold.  Yes,  the glue cracks show, but it seemed to be the right thing to do; re-make somehow; fake it till we re-make it.   I learned about Keith’s death at 11 that night and I was unable to have a reaction; my feelings were locked up tight and it was disturbing to be like that; I realized I would have to re-invent my  locked emotions  and accept the truth somehow; the fun we love just died.  I broke down sobbing the next morning as I watched a clip of him letting er rip to Rosie Ledet and the Zydeco Playboys down south last year.  I thought about how how we four, like the main characters in a compass rose, travelled all about in that Cadillac, having so much fun for so many years, arriving, Keith parking, then polishing the floors, thinking; is it really ok to have this much fun; it’s not a sin?  Being with Dia and Keith was so much fun!  I remember Keith coming twice to take my odd painted  assortment of plywoods and particle boards and help piece them together onto shimmed up rough sawn one-by-six cull  wood, destined for a Pecos woodpile; $1 a board, screwing them down in the hot sun, Keith smiling and movin boards like he was at his best friend’s  birthday party and there to have a good time.   He was reliving his past as a lumberjack  and  also knew there was a dance at the end of this or-deal and that a floor with bounce and some smoothness  was a good thing.  I hope we find ways to pick up the shattered pieces, re-melt them, perhaps use spit and bubble gum for a while, sweat in the hot sun, pick up the lyrics that were cast onto the street and get back up on our horses or cadillacs and ride like the wind towards our own brinks, with our own grins beneath our own cool hats; not sinning again as we reconstruct  our new adventures, in peace. I want to trust that a sunset is the promise of a sunrise next day, somehow.

As a final note,  we saw Dia and Keith last Thursday; we were just getting ready to leave ‘cause Belle was getting tired and in walked Keith and Dia and they sat down with us and we stayed and danced and talked till the Buffalo Nickel stopped playing.  We shared the same sort of time that was now common for us; just being friends and wanting to be there with each other.  Some profound talk was exchanged about how much Keith appreciated having Dia to “keep him  along a good life path”, for instance.  It was special and they invited us to go the next night, too, for Bill Hearne, but I was super busy that night and we opted out, sadly.  What I really wanted to say was that I was telling someone a few days ago that I go down to the draw, the creek bed whenever I am getting ready to do something important or I need guidance….and I am never let down by the experience.  This morning I walked all the way to above the falls, looking for signs of water in this drought.  I noticed that the watercress patch that I had planted near the creek, in a spring 20 years ago was gone; finito; no signs of green, no trickles of water.  I thought about what I should do next; go back to Chimayo and get another bunch after the drought breaks, just forget it and go on with my life, what.  I don’t have the answer.  The other thing that occurred to me because of all the rocks down there, that there are different kinds of rocks, some that you could carve a cool basin out of with the right tools and some that we call huecos; they are natural bowls that catch water and share freely with the animals and humans after the rains; they are not the kind of thing you can just  say, “I think I will go find a hueco today”, like saying  “I will go find a metate today”.  Well Keith was like a  creekbed hueco; naturally sculpted, generous and beautiful and very hard to find and you are always amazed and glad when you do see one, because you are in the presence of greatness. As one other final note, I wanted to mention that Keith pointed out a very cool framed quote on the way to the bathroom of one of their favorite restaurants in Silver City the last time we were there.  Of course we were treated like royalty once they saw Keith and Dia but what he pointed out was the piece on the wall that said, thanks