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To Locate

I resist the obviousness of GPS as a tool to locate, navigate, identify.  Most interesting to me is when GPS is wrong, as in the case this spring when a K-W woman, travelling in deep fog at the tip of the Brice Peninsula, drove her car into Georgian Bay instead of the Hotel parking lot.

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tap water filling the bucket I used to water my garden every day, in this dry dry summer we had

There are so many other ways to identify that have more meaning, make more sense. They pull from deeper source data to inform us about identity.  Navigation there is not by straight, measurable lines.

very simple shore cabin where I spend several summer weekends this year. This is Georgian Bay, at the mouth of the "sound" that leads to Owen Sound, where I live and work
This is Georgian Bay, at the mouth of the “sound” that leads to Owen Sound, where I live and work.

I live in a place surrounded by water.  It rains and snows more here than any other place in Ontario.  Travel by car in any direction and you’ll find a river (likely with a waterfall), a lake Great or small, a creek or stream – in less than fifteen minutes.

Jones Falls, Owen Sound
Jones Falls, Owen Sound

My mother’s family has lived here for six generations before me.  The (scots) paternal side of her family was famous for their foundry, where they made enormous propellers for lake and ocean-going ships “At one time, [Kennedy’s] supplied propellers for about ninety-five percent of marine traffic on the Great Lakes” (Grey Roots Museum and Archives).  Water people.  Industrialists.

a brass replica of a Kennedy Propeller pattern. I'm using this as reference for a series of paintings.
a brass replica of a Kennedy Propeller pattern. I’m using this as reference for a series of paintings.

Mom’s Maternal side (Pennsylvania Deutch – descendants from German refugees of the 100 years war) not so famously made ladies’ hoisery, employing 200 women at a time when women were organizing to get the vote. A great great great uncle of mine fought for the North in the American civil war; we are making a book of his letters home at the moment.  Dependable people. Steady.

It is in that factory building, on the third floor NE corner, where I have kept a painting/music studio these past eight years.

studio a couple of years ago

My parents are retired (and excellent) Highschool English teachers saturated by music, literature and art (Mom – ARCT Piano, Toronto Conservatory; Dad a painter of landscapes and literary references).  My daughter is now twenty, mostly fluent in Japanese, studying modern languages and international studies at U of Ottawa.

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I had a mentor and teacher as a young music student who was fierce like a grandfather to me.  As a young man he used to play violin like Fritz Kreisler in my Great Grandmother Kennedy’s parlour for the WCTU ladies. He later played at my parent’s wedding and made both of my cellos, the first of which was just returned to me last summer after 14 years. (link to that blog if you click on the picture I believe)

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Instead of studying cello at Laurier at age seventeen I chose to study Visual Art at York University.  Somehow I felt that the formal study of music would ruin my love for the pure joy of playing it.  I will never know if I was right, but I’ve also never regretted the decision.  I’ve been able to do both in my life and love them equally. Each practise informs the other I’ve found, so I teach musicians how to draw and it makes them better players.

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It is this very thing that has led me to a Masters in Community Music – at Laurier, where I chose NOT to study music performance 35 years ago.  I love the way life travels us back to ourselves.

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Full Moon Morning

I stayed over because of the cat. He’s not mine, but I care for him over the winter while his owner’s away.  Six toes on each foot. Patti says that makes him magic.

He’d been locked in the basement for four days until yesterday when I got the store owner to let me go down and call for him – out he came from one of a thousand dusty corners, thin, wide-eyed and exhausted.  He’d been looking for freedom, but found dust-dark-no-water instead.  Clingy now, but it’s good to see him.

Knuckles staying in touch.  His owner and brother-cat, Toulouse come home tomorrow - I'm happy for him
Knuckles staying in touch. His owner and brother-cat, Toulouse come home tomorrow – I’m happy for him

Studio is not the best for sleeping but it’s wonderful to wake up in on a spring morning.  Three large third-storey windows face full east, and the sun spills in like honey.  Starlings hang out on the wires and chatter endlessly – Knuckles is mesmerised.

Studio facing northwest - a study in red
Studio facing northwest – a study in red

I leave for Toronto soon – visits with dear ones, airport trip and some hunting of insights, input.  Back home tonight, back here tomorrow morning, to record music-for-film, work on a painting commission and a Study in Blue, and share in the Joy of Knuckles as Paul and Toulouse return to his building.

facing southwest.  Just replaced the old 15x12 foot dropsheet - tabula rasa
facing southwest. Just replaced the old 15×12 foot dropsheet – tabula rasa

It will still be humming.  This is the best studio ever.

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fathoms

I stare at the handle of a red screwdriver and use my ears to see the space around me.  There are tires scribing the wet street three floors down; the clock ticks each second in counterpoint to the keys on my laptop.  Furnace just kicked in like a huge breathing thing acres wide and deep; the cat licks its’ shoulder. I cannot hear walls.

Audio memory kicks in now too, adding the plink…plink! of piano tuning from this morning; the breathless excited scramble-wiggle of dog claws on studio floor; footsteps like signatures in the hallway; doors squeaking open and banging shut – punctuation for arrival.  All the voices who spoke here today, each carrying different degrees of anxiety or humour,  as we navigate the measured hours before Christmas.

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My ears cannot hear the sound of a to do list.  They hear only what is, and record what has been, for playback later.

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These small moments I get –  to explore the shape of the room with my ears, to examine with just my fingertips the shape and texture of my cello, of a book, or a pencil as my blind grandmother did for 50 years – they are possible because I’ve chosen to make gifts, not buy them.

I have also given myself the gift of time.

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Happy Christmas and Hannukah everyone.

May the time with yourself and with those you care for be rich with love.