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Darts and Laurels

First, cheers to the cashier at the Sobey’s at Queensway east of Park Lawn, who this morning was spreading joy to her customers with a winning smile and a little conversation. Awesome!

On the other hand there was the clerk at the gas station at Queensway and Windermere yesterday morning. I was on my way to take the Newfs to Lorraine, our super-fantastic groomer for a much-needed bath and full groom. I filled up with gas and went into the store to buy a cold drink. There was one fellow behind me in line and as I was waiting, I put my hand down on the counter – and unfortunately into a waiting blob of white goo that I’m guessing was dripping ice cream from a previous day. I asked the clerk for a paper towel. He didn’t understand what had happened and pointed out which aisle in his store held the paper towels. I explained that, no I didn’t want to buy paper towels. I showed him my gooey hand and said I needed to clean up. He produced a roll of paper towels and tore off a piece for me. I cleaned my hand – and his counter – as best I could, leaving the residue paper towel on the counter, as I knew there was a garbage behind the counter. I paid for my drink and was about to depart, when buddy tells me in a really condescending way to take my paper towel and deposit it in the garbage outside. If he had anything to say, “sorry about the mess on the counter” seemed more appropriate. So I said, look I cleaned up your mess, and he said it’s not my mess and I said, I’m your customer, this is your store and it’s for sure not my mess. I think he was getting angry. It’s my store, he said, but it’s not my mess. I wanted to tell him that had he kept his store in a clean and sanitary condition, I wouldn’t have mysterious white goo on my hand, but instead, at that point I just left.  Maybe I should have just smiled, wished him a good day, and taken the paper towel with me.

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Checking in

This space has been bare for a few days, an unusual condition – but for those who look forward to these posts I haven’t gone anywhere.

I had some kind of stomach bug – I think it’s something going around because Tuffy P had similar symptoms for a few days prior. Either that or it was my decision to eat some ribs at the CNE last weekend. Who knows. I had to deliver works for my exhibition at yumart on Tuesday and it was all I could do to accomplish that.

Speaking of my exhibition, it’s up now at yumart. The opening reception was Saturday, and just in the nick of time I started to feel human again. Thanks to everyone who came out to the opening. I really appreciate the support. The show is on until October 1. I expect to be at the gallery on Friday afternoon if anyone wants to talk to me about the paintings and drawings.

Next week, Tuffy P is going to hold the fort for a couple days while I take a quick road-trip to Ottawa to visit some friends. Since retirement, I don’t miss the work-a-day world even a tiny bit, but there are a few folks I know from work I’d love to spend an evening with and at the same time I’m going to enjoy dinner and some refreshments with my pal East Texas Red. I’ll take advantage of the opportunity to spend a few hours at the National Gallery – I haven’t been there in a few years.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on the latest Lazy Allen story, and I hope to have that posted soon for the select few readers who have been following this project. If you’re interested in checking the stories out, visit my stories site to read the latest, Bananas Foster and all the rest.

I hope to get out to the enchanted mushroom forest for a few hours at least one day this week. Recently, some ornate boletes and some scaber stalks have been fruiting, welcome after a dry summer which left me without chanterelles, lobsters and hedgehogs.

That’s it for now. I’ll leave  you with a fun photo Tuffy P took of the Ladybug, one of our cats. bugs.jpg

I attempted to link up this little post to my facebook page, but the facebook security system has detected objectionable elements and has blocked my ability to make that link. I feel like such an outlaw, making controversial blog posts with provocative cat pictures.

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Bad Singer by Tim Falconer

I just finished reading Bad Singer – the surprising science of tone deafness and how we hear music – by Tim Falconer. The book describes the journalist’s quest to understand why he’s a bad singer. He subjected himself to loads of scientific tests, talked to many of the leading researchers, and on and off took vocal coaching sessions from singer Micah Barnes.

The book goes into how people perceive music – pitch, rhythm, timbre, and what happens in the brain of a “tone-deaf” person compared to a good singer when singing. It was fairly interesting and informative and the author’s own struggle to learn to sing gave the book a personal touch. It’s kind of personal – kind of scientific – and relies on many meetings and interviews along the way. It’s a book that reads kind of like a long magazine article, if that makes sense.

Bad Singer is going into the 27th Street Book Box, so if you’re interested in learning some about why some people can perceive or produce accurate pitch, you can find it there.

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Artwork delivered


Ahoy, encaustic on carved wood, 2016

I dropped off the work today for my upcoming exhibition at yumart gallery, here in Toronto. It’s going to be an eclectic show, including a suite of new encaustics (of which the painting pictured above is one), some new drawings, and as well, I’ve selected a few blasts from the past to put the new ones in context.

There will be an opening reception on Saturday September 10th,  from 2:00 – 5:00 PM and continues to Saturday October 1.

yumart gallery is located on the lower concourse level of 401 Richmond Street West, at the new north-east entrance near Peter Street. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday, noon to six p.m.    (647) 447-9274



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The Other Spotted Pony

There is a fiddle tune called Spotted Pony or The Spotted Pony, normally played in the key of D, which seems to be pretty common among old time players. I had heard a different Spotted Pony, a Missouri tune played in A, on a recording by Cathy Barton Para and Dave Para called Sweet Journeys. At the Midwest Banjo Camp this year, Cathy taught Spotted Pony in A.

I’ve been struggling with this tune for a while. Here’s a little video of me practicing The Spotted Pony in A, played on my Dogwood Banjo.