Vivian was an Art Director that worked for me back in the 90’s during my Ogilvy & Mather days.
She was good. Imaginative. More than willing to present concepts that challenged clients. Her layouts and comps were brilliantly rendered. (InDesign and Photoshop weren’t in wide use back then).
The reality that she was a fine artist was suspected, but remained hidden from us until the day she walked into the Creative Lounge with a battered old art bag full of her watercolours. She had finally decided to show her work and she wanted our opinion…and one of us to write artsy descriptions of each painting.
What we saw were wonderful representations of Toronto, evocative street scenes, finely detailed, bursting with vivid colour. We were impressed, full of praise. Viv was humble. She had stepped outside the confines of advertising and shown us another, creatively different, side of her. She did leave one piece in her bag, though. I pulled it out and she quickly took it from me. “This isn’t worth showing,” she said. “Its too slap-dash.”
It looked like she had ripped it out of her sketchbook; the edges were rough and unevenly torn. But, I liked its simplicity. There was a richness to the varying shades of green that edged up to a slightly out of perspective white Muskoka Chair with three gray shadow stripes across its back.starkness. The chair stood solitary as if waiting for someone.
I was taken by it. This was the garden and the chair I pictured myself one day relaxing in on a quiet summer’s afternoon…not caring about much. At rest. Done with the storms and stresses of ambitions and competitions I depended on for a living were over. It was a picture of a promise I would make to myself.
I told Vivian what I saw in her “slap-dash” work and she smiled. “Ha. Ed’s Chair,” she said. “OK, it’s yours.”
I did pay her. Can’t remember how much. After I retired I had it framed. It hangs in my bedroom.
Today, I have the garden. I have the chair. And I have the quiet summer afternoons to sit and pass the time any way I wish.
There isn’t much that’s important about the loneliness of an inanimate object.
The idea of whether or not the object in question even feels loneliness or anything else for that matter is, some would say, meaningless; not worth thinking about. To the eye of the beholder, though, this appearance of loneliness can radiate certain feelings, illusions that translate into a need to ask questions.
Like this place. It has always intrigued me. Why was the farm abandoned? When? Is the land still farmed? Where is the family now? Do they even care?
All of these thoughts have been with me since I first saw this crumbling abandoned farmhouse ten years ago just off Bruce Road 3. I ask myself these same questions each time I drive by. Year after year it stands like a sentinel, naked, at the whim of weather and time, on a small hill overlooking its fields.
There is a rough, rutted, snow buried, single lane road that runs uphill to the crumbling house. The fields slope down, running away from it. A fence runs parallel to nowhere. I’ve often been tempted to drive up, to explore, to see if any clues to the house’s history might be lying about.
But I always held back. It would be wrong to trespass. The words ‘leave me alone’ always drifted down to me. ‘Respect my solitude’.
Endurance, not loneliness, is what is in this house. It will stand against time for as long as time will allow. As we all will. One day it will succumb.
Until that day and after, I will have this photograph to remind me of what we must endure.
Under the street lamps that pool their light on the now white road wind whips the flurries into individual cyclones whirling about helter skelter. Cedars on the roadside go dark, lost in the shadows, lost in the black of night. In the cone of the streetlights the snow takes on highlights that accentuate its movement. It dances with the wind, blurring in flight, never, it seems, touching down, hovering around and inside the beam’s pool bringing new life to the light. Night Snow is different than snow falling at daybreak…more menacing. You are unsure of what it leaves behind until dawn crawls up the dark trailing early morning light to show you its night work. Night Snow is like a secret gathering, an army, a relentless force building for an attack at daybreak when the world wakes and is forced to face the consequences of all that Night Snow has left behind.
Ice is hard. Resistant. Stubborn. Ice can withstand any single human effort to break through…especially if ice has transformed concrete steps into a glistening, smooth, intransient obstacle that should be left alone. There is no point in trying to break it down (as I did) to get a better foothold – to get a better angle on the object you’re trying to photograph.
Such foolishness can possibly lead to disaster. I sometimes hurry to get things done – and in my unfocussed haste – misjudge and make mistakes that do not end well. I am a victim of my own stupidity.
There is a millisecond between attempt and failure when you are completely unaware of what you’ve just done. In that microscopic moment between slipping and landing you see nothing. The world around you becomes blank. First it’s simply, “Here I am trying to break through the ice with my foot. Here I am on my back lying on the ice. How did that happen?” Your next thought is, “Where’s my brand new expensive camera? Did I land on it? NO! Here it is secure in my hand that’s extended above my prone body. AT LEAST I WAS CONCIOUS ENOUGH TO SACRIFICE MY BODY TO PROTECT IT!” Then it’s, “Why can’t I get up?”
Because you’re lying at the bottom of uneven ice-coated steps, stupid!
Thankfully there are no witnesses to my next ridiculous act. Camera held high, I rolled over, grabbed the ice-coated railing with my free hand and painfully pulled myself to a more secure level. It took a while. Ice does not give up its victims without making them struggle. Eventually I made it. Looking down at the frozen steps I just scaled I chastised myself for being so reckless. And stupid.
When we take chances success is usually 50-50. Clearly this was a chance I shouldn’t have taken. Any go or no-go decision is often quick and thoughtless. Spur of the moment as they say. It is always difficult to judge the wisdom of one’s next move until after you’ve made it.
Life, the pundits say, is about taking chances. “Find a Way or Make One. Just Do It. Who Dares Wins. Deeds Not Words.” Pick any current phrase that suits you. Sometimes the taking works – sometimes it doesn’t. This time for me, it didn’t. That’s just the way it is.
I didn’t get that just-right angle for the shot I was looking for. But, I hurt too much to be disappointed.
That is not any great event. But more and more, as I pile on the years, I find myself taking more quiet time on a regular basis. Its time when I put down the IPad. Ignore the ‘bings’ of new notifications. Ignore the radio, magazines and newspapers and clear my mind of everything that I thought was important a mere moment ago. Meditation? Perhaps. As age advances, memory recedes – the everyday things I once took for granted now have a bit of mystery to them. I often wonder, “Is my mind still trustworthy”? It has taken on a thin layer – a patina, as it were. Recollection is not instantaneous. Earlier images and memories are hidden somewhere. Its as if they’re painted over, only to show through in their own time.
As I was contemplating this “state of mind” of mine I recalled similar thoughts from others I had tucked into my notebooks.
Here they are. Make of them what you wish:
As I grow older I become ever more a stick in the mud – contrary ornery and difficult. Were I not married to a magnificent woman who keeps me young I would end up being an evil old man eating beans out of the tin. I take great joy in seeing what you do, what you read, what you support. My Facebook friends list, though large, is periodically pared down enough that it actually consists of people I genuinely like and am interested in. If I should prove hesitant to join you in doing the very same thing you are doing it doesn’t mean that what you’re doing isn’t good, valuable and worthwhile. It just means that I am doing other things. Love you all.
I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.
Jose Micard Teixeria
“There are other assets of old age. The storms and stresses of life, the ambitions and competitions are over. The futile and unnecessary and false responsibilities have fallen from one’s shoulders and one’s conscience”.
I have not paid too much attention to this Blog since well before January. Not because I haven’t had anything to say (which is partly true). But blogging, to me, becomes a tad boring (for the writer) if the writer isn’t following a personal message or cause or theme. And I, for one, don’t believe in listing or recounting all that happens to me on a regular basis.
What I have been doing on a fairly regular basis, though, is posting a blog for the Huron Fringe Birding Festival (http://huronfringefest.wordpress.com). Not because I am birder but because I’m married to one and she is on the Festival Committee and I let myself be talked into becoming their ‘Blog Master’ as they have titled me.
Birders are interesting people, if not a touch obsessed. Actually a lot of them have become good friends. Their varied backgrounds and varied interests make for good conversation and good laughs. The Festival is over now so more time will be spent literally rambling on metropolitanhomesickblues.
So what has been happening over the many months? Sadly our cat of 19 years has left us.
Miss Molly was a clawless, long hair “tort” as they say, a rescue cat my wife brought home one day. She does that sort of thing with animals. Molly and I were buddies. When she wasn’t sleeping she was wherever I was, even in the middle of the night. When she walked into a room she walked to me and demanded (in the voice of her people) that I pick her up to carry her on my shoulder or place her beside me in whatever chair I was sitting in…room for her or not.
When she had had enough of her lazy life, Molly told us. She went quietly. She is well remembered.
A short piece of the Bruce Trail became my responsibility over that period.
I am Trail Captain for a length that runs above the Slough of Despond towards Skinner’s Bluff. Its up on the North Bruce Peninsula and it’s a lovely hike. My duties are to inspect the trail at least three times a year and keep it clear and walkable as it varies from gentle to rocky to wet in the spring. Rest assured there will be words and pictures coming your way as summer unfolds.
Of course, who can forget the now legendary Winter of 2014.
I can’t remember when it started, but it felt like it lasted forever. The Great Lakes were frozen over. The ice never left Lake Huron until mid May. Blizzards, road and town closures, endless driveway snow blowing, shovels and roof rakes were the norm.
All of that is past us now. Just had to get it all out of my mind on to the page as an excuse to write this blog.