The strangest thing about being here, away from Lila, is being able to put something down, like my bathing cap or a piece of kleenex, and know it is not going to be swiped away by happy little teeth.
While Damian was at drama camp (learning How to Torture Your Parents, which will be performed on Friday for the brave parents), I went to the Montclair Bookstore. The very best bookstore I know. They have a huge selection of books with second hand and new books side by side. A real treat. With a suitcase full of paint sticks, I’m being cautious in buying books. I’ll go back before I leave, I’m sure.
Then, after a swim, a friend of Tamar’s whom I know well came for a visit. It was generally a very relaxing day.
After six hours waiting in the airport, we finally got off the ground. And it’s good to be here. The sun was bright today but it wasn’t too hot. Tamar, Damian and I had a lovely day—stocking up on food for the week, swimming in the next door neighbors’ pool (they are away and we have full access—not bad!), and generally catching up and enjoying each other’s company.
Meanwhile I keep thinking about someone I met on my travels who is physically handicapped (paraplegic). He said his disability didn’t effect who he was as a person. He did have a very positive, engaging way of being with people and relating to his life. It was quite apparent that he had overcome any possible tendency for self-pity and was also very accomplished in his chosen profession. But to say that his handicap didn’t have a strong effect on his being would be like my saying being an artist doesn’t affect my personality. I do generally take umbrage when people tell me something I do or say or how I look is because I am an artist. And yet . . . I make art because I think the way I do which then effects how you perceive me.
I’m on my way to visit with Tamar, Dan and Damian . . . I think. I’m in the airport, waiting. We were on the plane ready to take off when they put us on hold for about an hour. Then we deplaned and are hanging out in the waiting room. Seems there are about to be thunderstorms in Newark so they’ve closed the airport. And little planes get cancelled first. Nova Scotia is small so we get put on hold. The same thing happened last March when I went to visit Tamar et al. Maybe another hour or so here, after a couple of hours waiting already. I only hope they don’t cancel the flight. The one before mine was nixed.
Meanwhile it is interesting listening to a few conversations around me. Some tourists were talking to a couple of pilots. Although the pilots land here often, they hadn’t toured the province but did start thinking about maybe next summer bringing the family here. The tourist was telling them how beautiful Nova Scotia is, about the Fundy tides, how easy it is to get around, how magnificent Peggy’s Cove is, how close everything is, and more. I just wanted to jump up and say: “I live here!” Lucky me!
Last week Lila hurt her foot. I don’t know how she did it but it was quite bad. She couldn’t put any weight on it and it was swelling. I took her to the vet for x-rays. No broken bones, thankfully, but unfortunately she needed antibiotics. In a couple of days she was walking on her foot again.
But a few days later, as I was about to take her out for a walk and wanted to put some herbal bug repellant on her, when she saw the bottle, she started limping again. As if to say: “You can’t do that to me; I’m injured!”
Yesterday's jazz concerts were beautiful. In the afternoon I went to a concert by the Creative Music Workshop students, a two week study of contemporary jazz creativity/improvisation. The first group was wonderful; the drummer was the son of a friend of mine and superb. I want to introduce him to Damian (my grandson who is a genius on the drums) when he is here is August. The second group played such cacophony I had to leave. My jazz piano teacher (one of the group leaders but unfortunately his group was last) said to hang in there but I couldn't. Then when I turned the radio on in my car, there was a discussion of a book about criticism and what we love. Do we love easy pleasure or do we love to be irritated. The examples they used were from music. Perfect!
The evening concert was Sheila Jordan, a contemporary of Miles Davis. Seventy-nine and three-quarter years and still cookin! She reminded me of my aunt Marcella who lived to 102 and saucy to the end. Sheila played voice and bass duets with Cameron Brown. Her voice was spectacular and she sang stories spontaneously. Sometimes singing to the bass (instrument) or to the bass player, and sometimes telling the story of her life. An inspiration! After the concert, I spoke to a friend who said Sheila Jordan has always been her favorite singer and she'd email me the title of her most favorite CD. Looking forward to having a CD of hers in my home library.
The Atlantic Jazz Festival is on this week in Halifax. I went to see Holly Cole sing Sunday night. Laila Biali was the opener. She played the piano with such ease; I don’t know how she does it. It was inspiring. Her singing is good too, but the piano play, awesome!
Then there was Holly Cole. What a voice! Man, can she sing! And perform. It was spectacular, watching her. The only thing I would have liked is if her choice of songs was a little more intense to go with her intense voice. The songs were just too easy for my taste. But when she sang The Tennessee Waltz the (older) woman in front of me was crying. Memories. Interestingly, the median age of the audience was definitely over fifty.
Aaron had given me a CD of Holly Cole’s for my birthday. I’ve been listening to it and without her strong stage presence, the songs themselves are softer. Her performance is fascinating, her voice one of the best.
Yesterday I hung out at the Main Tent, saw the very good Joe Murphy and the Water Street Blues Band perform. A day-care had brought a group of three year olds and they were dancing up by the stage and throwing themselves around. So free, so very cute and so sweet.
The weather has been lovely lately. Not too hot, not too cold. The skies are clear, the water warm. A couple of days ago when Lila and I went in for a swim we were the only ones in the water. Except for three loons swimming together about fifteen feet away from us. They watched us approach as we watched them looking at us. Then they dove under water and swam away.
A friend just sent me this photo of Lila and Lucky playing together in their typical fashion. They can do this dance for hours, with maybe a minute of rest every now and then.
I have a confession to make: sometimes I do a painting that brings up so much emotion for me I feel like crying. This morning it was with a five foot by seven foot, three-panel painting I’ve been working on for at least a year. Off and on, of course, and always thinking it was finished before I went at it again.
If I can remember correctly, at first it was a pale yellow, then a peachy yellow, then a bright yellow. It never felt quite right even though it was a good painting. I kept seeing red when I looked at it (and I don’t mean anger). So last week I went into it with rose madder, leaving a small portion of the first panel yellow. The yellow under the red gave it a glow that was interesting. It looked good, but not good enough. Once away from the painting, I “saw” that the yellow part needed to be black. And the red, more red. So that’s what happened this morning.
If my emotions are trustworthy at this point, finally it works. I’ll leave it as it is and have a photo soon.
My friend Suzanne and her dog, Lucky, came out today for a swim. As we sat in the sun on the dock after enjoying the delicious water, she was telling me about how another artist is working. Marilyn has been taking photographs from her visits to Mexico, crumpling them up, taking photos of that and making paintings from the final photograph. I was surprised when Suzanne told me Marilyn had always been working from photographs, all her paintings. In fact, Suzanne said, almost all painters these days are working from photographs.
But not me. I prefer not knowing what might happen when I start a painting, what accidents and circumstances of paint will create the final image. I might take a photograph when I think a painting is done and then realize, when I see the photograph, that it still needs more work. Working from photographs was always something I thought was a taboo. I guess it’s not.
My friend Susan’s Brittany Spanial puppies are now three weeks old. They have their eyes open, can walk around and are beginning to play with each other. They still segregate themselves some but not as much. Getting integrated—in every way.
Yes, they definitely are adorable, but no, I am not going to take one home.
My gallery in Switzerland, the Halde Galerie, set up an exhibition at the Canadian Ambassador's villa in Bern (the capital) and she sent these photos.
I was thinking all day I should post something about how much I love living in Canada, being a Canadian, thinking Canadian. I do, but I didn’t. She did it for me.