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Monday, October 30, 2017

"This one's an artist!"

My continuing family saga

1967 was the year of Canada's 100th Birthday

...it was the year my brother Clint joined the Royal Canadian Navy,
the year my sister Ann's friend Maria started to look at Clint with a twinkle in her eye
...not to mention that it was also the year I left home for the third and final time.

And then...
in 1968, my family grew!

The expectant father was beside himself with fear. Anything could (and often did) happen to women giving birth in the 1960s.
He was aghast!
My parents were planning their retirement, and soon there would be an addition to our family.
Mom was thrilled. She referred to the baby as Robbie even before he was born, but Dad would storm out of the house saying, "I don't know anyone who's having a baby!"
Poor Dad.
White Rock, British Columbia
He couldn't contemplate life without his sweetheart.
My mother was soon taken from the oceanfront suburb of White Rock to Vancouver General Hospital for strict observation, and stayed there until it was judged safe for a caesarean-section.
She thrived, and survived...and so did my new little brother: Robert Edward Davies, born March 7, 1968.
I was living in the city, and had to pass near the hospital on my way home from work. I'd stop most days to visit Mom in the most-difficult-pregnancies ward: a bright, warm, sunny room housing three young women—and my mother.
They were all there for quite a while, under the strict observation of multiple nurses and doctors, for a variety of reasons...and no wonder: one of the young women had triplets. Triplets! She was my age, triplets the same age as my new brother. I often thought of her as Rob was growing up: three infants, three toddlers, three teens...my mind boggled.
Dad was happy to turn his attention to new-fatherhood once he knew Mom was healthy and happy. Some of their friends, however, asked what would become of their retirement.
"We'll take him with us," he replied.
Fast forward to Robbie sitting in a high chair at the age of two. He started walking very early because he had so little weight to carry, but still used a high chair. He was very bright: easily recognizing the sounds of our parents' favourite musicians. His favourite was Louis Armstrong.
San Felipe, where Mom, Dad and
Rob wintered for many years
One day, Mom stepped out of the room for some reason, and quickly returned, but not before that little guy had turned himself around in his high chair, taken a piece of chalk in his hand and, along the bottom of her grocery-list blackboard, made a series of straight vertical lines about an inch high.
Mom was more amazed than worried. Sure, he hadn't turned around in his chair before, and he certainly hadn't tried to use a piece of chalk, but...
"What's that, Robbie?" Mom asked.
"Grass," he replied.
Mom phoned Dad at the family printing shop. "Bring paper," she said. "This one's an artist."
And Rob Davies was, indeed, an artist, and so he has been ever since: in kindergarten in our parents' chosen winter home of San Felipe, on Mexico's Baja Peninsula; in school in White Rock, BC; in art school in Vancouver, BC; at work in Vancouver, California and Germany, and now with his partners at Atomic Cartoons in Vancouver, B.C.
Rob, younger then than now
Atomic's signature cartoon is Atomic Betty. Betty was a young schoolgirl with red hair and superpowers, who lived in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and fought evil whenever necessary.

POSTING FOR
LADY FI'S MARVELLOUS MEME

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

My somewhat illustrious ancestor

My dad's Living Rivers of British Columbia and Living Rivers of British Columbia and Yukon books 'delight all those interested in the outdoors'.

While writing about my father, I felt I must look up some things that have already been written about him, and I've included some of them here.

Outdoor and travel writer, photographer, artist, musician, WWII veteran, and journeyman printer, Gordon Davies (1924–2009) was 'the friend of every river he ever met'.

With my mother, Pauline—and very often with their young son, my brother Rob—my parents explored and fished rivers from Yukon to Mexico.

In his Living Rivers books, 'he showed, in prose and photographs, how deeply he felt about the streams of British Columbia', our home province.

'Well-informed, concerned, caring, and with a wry wit, he leaves us in no doubt: he loved rivers.'

The second volume in Gordon Davies' collection of stories also featured the rivers of the Yukon. From the turbulent Yukon in the far north, to streams flowing into Washington State, he became, in his books, 'a valuable and entertaining guide to fisher and non-fisher alike'.

'An avid fisher could find information about various fish in each river, as well as suggestions as to the best lures and bait. 
Those who didn't fish could find a wealth of material about western Canadian rivers, and about interesting sites along their banks.'

Lots of good, even wonderful, things have been said about my dad (whom I often referred to as 'my illustrious ancestor') and I feel in my heart that I should add something here, but right now I can only quote this verse from 'Voices United'

“I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.”

NEW NEWS — I have successfully tracked down copies of Dad's books, have ordered some from Amazon, etc., and now am in touch with the publisher of Living Rivers II, about procuring more copies for posterity, and for the nieces, nephews, grandchildren et al.

Sharing this with Lady Fi's memorable meme Our World Tuesday

Monday, October 23, 2017

The musician in the man...my dad


Louis Armstrong
My very-much-younger brother
Rob could recognize the sound of
Louis' horn when he was a toddler.

Below: Glenn Miller
Mom and Dad loved his music
and made sure I loved it, too.



On a wind-up gramophone in the 1950s; on my portable record-player in the 1960s; and later, on a cabinet stereo or even a battery-operated cassette player— my parents loved to play the music of their youth: swing, blues, jazz, swing, and one of their favourites: Dixieland.

When my brother Clint and I were still quite small, we learned the names of all Dad's favourite bands and the band leaders, and several of the musicians, not just Louis and Glenn.
Our younger sister was either too young or too disinterested. Probably too young.
Canadian Army Show
(Wikipedia)


Like so many music students in the pre-WWII era, Dad had to learn violin when he was a youngster, but his real love was the trumpet. He could, and did, play other horns and other instruments, but he always loved his trumpet.

Dad played standing bass* in a dance band, and was a musician in the Canadian Army Show in Britain in WWII (where his other assignments included painting scenery, because he was also a dab hand with a brush).

Army show musicians, singers, and artists, all belonged to the army—they wore army uniforms, but they weren't trained soldiers. The show's job, as bombs dropped all around, was to entertain Canadian, British and other allied troops who were about to be sent across the English Channel to France.

One almost-fateful day, members of the army show were rounded up, put on a train and told their eventual destination was France...once there, they would no doubt be expected to use rifles, hand grenades, and who-knew-what-all weapons. They were not amused.
No amount of talking could convince superior officers that they didn't know one end of a machine gun from the other but, at the last minute, orders came to send them back to the Army Show from which they had come. Great sighs of relief (and cheers, I imagine) from scenery-painters, sign-painters, musicians and other entertainers! They'd have been helpless cannon fodder for sure, I'd bet.

*

Years later, back home, married and enjoying fatherhood, Dad quickly recognized my brother Clint's musical aptitude and eventually taught him to play trumpet.
However, I was, and am, tone deaf, so Dad told me early on that the best he could do for me was to teach me to listen to music, to learn and appreciate the sound of each instrument.
I'm so grateful he did that. I still can't carry a tune in a bucket, but I learned all the words to all the songs I heard on the radio, all the hymns in church, and can enjoy mouthing the words when others around me are singing songs from the 1940s and 50s, the 60s and 70s.
Nothing, however, matched the enjoyment of listening to Dad and Clint playing trumpet together. It gave me great pleasure, all warm and fuzzy and proud.

One of the sweetest and funniest things Dad did: when he bought my portable record-player, it came with a box of 45rpm records: a full set of Glenn Miller's music. Dad said I had to play one Glenn Miller record for every rock'n'roll record. Although I discontinued that one-for-one as I grew older, Dad's patient instruction stood me in good stead when it came to listening to the sound of other musicians, other orchestras, other bands.

*

I love a lassie, a bonnie Hielan' lassie
She can warble like a blackbird in the dell.
(Traditional Scottish song)

My mother, however, carried her own musical instrument within her: she could whistle every song she'd ever heard. She could definitely "warble like a blackbird in the dell" as the song says.

When I’m lonely, dear white heart;
Gordon and Pauline Davies
black the night or wild the sea,
By love’s light, my foot finds
the old pathway to thee.
                                (Eriskay Love Lilt)


*

Dad gave Mom an engagement ring before he went overseas. When he returned to the west coast of Canada, he married her: Pauline MacKenzie, his high school sweetheart.

One last note...when I was 21, my old parents became new parents: and my brother Rob quickly made it clear (when he was a toddler) that he had inherited our dad's artistic ability. Rob has always made his living in the animated cartoon industry, and I'm ever-so-very proud of him, proud to the point of annoying him when I get too gushy. Sorry, kiddo, but that's me.

*Bass, upright bass, string bass, acoustic bass, acoustic string bass, contrabass, contrabass viol, bass viol, standup bass, bull fiddle and bass fiddle. (Wikipedia)

PS—One day I might tell you about the bagpipe lessons I insisted on.

Posting for Fiona's wonderful meme  Our World Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The past slides into the present

What's on my mind today (if you use Facebook, you'll know this is the question Facebook always asks) so...what's on my mind is the large collection of colour slides my father, Gordon Davies, amassed during his years as an outdoor writer and photographer.


I've checked online with both of my brothers, one at his home in British Columbia, the other gallivanting around Europe with his wife on their umpteenth 'second honeymoon'!

Neither brother has been able to tell me where those slides are now...but I'm telling you, Dad's photos were beautiful. Not only beautiful, but also wonderful.

The gizmo pictured above is supposed to able to transform colour slides into online photos, I've been told. How wonderful is that?

You're probably thinking if I had such a gizmo, I would bore everyone in Blogdom with endless travel, fishing and outdoor photos (if one of us can find them). You might be right. Fish photos would be a change, however, from endless pictures of my dogs, past and present. And a change is...well, you know, it's as good as a rest.

I can't even find Dad's books now, because I had loaned both of them (Living Rivers and Living Rivers II) to a sick friend. I do hope she had a chance to read them both before she died, because they are happy books.

Oh, don't get me wrong, they're not jump-up-and-down happy, like a teenager on a trampoline, but serene-and tranquil-happy, like a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter's day. That's what El Gordo wanted...always coffee, never tea, and he'd thank you with that mischievous twinkle in his eye.

When we were young, Dad taught us about fish and their spawning.
This lake trout is in 'spawning dress' and  therefore not good eating.
Wikipedia photo


I'm sharing this trip into my past with Lady Fi's
Our World Tuesday


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Dog and ball retrospective


Cito Gaston
On more than one occasion my husband, Richard Schear, and I drove from here (Medicine Hat, Alberta) to Seattle, Washington, to watch 'our' baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays, play the Seattle Mariners.
The Jays were still led by coach Cito Gaston and were great fun to watch because playing against the Mariners meant playing against the incomparable Ichiro Suzuki.
In the stands, there would be an equal number of American and Canadian fans, many of them there because of the rivalry between the Jays and the Mariners, and many of them because they loved to see Ichiro's amazing performances.

The incomparable Ichiro
However, Dick and I had our own favourites: two young Blue Jays players we called our boys: mine was Aaron Hill and Dick's was Adam Lind.
Aaron Hill at bat

Adam Lind

In time, our trips to Seattle had to stop because we adopted a dog. She turned out to be a dog who loved to travel, but of course she couldn't be left alone in a hotel room while we attended a ball game.

When we first found our Golden Retriever at the former SOS Senior Dog Rescue in Medicine Hat, they called her 'Lily'. She had been living wild with another Golden, and  the two had spent a winter in a barn. Unfortunately for them, they couldn't stay in their new home, because the farmer couldn't afford to keep feeding two big dogs, so he had to give them up.
'Lily' was not, however, the name we kept for her. Our next door neighbours had a 'Lily' so Dick suggested we name her after his favourite Toronto baseball player, Adam Lind, and her name became Lindy.

The late, lovely Lindy was a beautiful girl, with a beautiful personality. She loved people and was even willing to be dressed up for Hallowe'en, when she loved to lick the candy-covered faces of neighbourhood children.


I'm posting this retrospective for
Lady Fi's incomparable meme, 
Thanks, Fiona, I know how much you love Goldens.
Our beautiful Lindy, here with her daddy, who adored her.

Monday, September 25, 2017

With love but not permission...

    In a previous post, I mentioned a poem I've always enjoyed but was dubious about sharing  because it is still, apparently, in print.

This week, however, I'm going to be big and brave and bold, in keeping with the indomitable poet, archy. Perhaps I'm breaking copyright (I don't know) but I want to share this with you because, if you don't already know of Don Marquis and his characters by now, you should.

Also because the author is dead these many years, and because the poet who claims, here, to have written this poem was, if he is to be believed, once a vers libre bard whose soul transmigrated into the body of a cockroach named archy.

Now, archy could type out his poems by climbing up on a typewriter and jumping down to hit each key with his head, then going back up and jumping down to hit another key with his head...well, you get the picture. However, archy couldn't use capital letters because he couldn't hold down the shift key.
His best friend was a black cat named mehitabel who claimed to have been Cleopatra.
Who or what they may have transmigrated into by now is anybody's guess ...maybe he is still a cockroach and she still a cat, or they might even be mice... but in the Don Marquis book I love so much, mehitabel was an alley cat of dubious virtue, and archy was a very determined poet who had, one imagines, a very sore top-of-the-head.

This poem appears as it was written by archy, with no uppercase (capital) letters because, as I said, he couldn't shift for himself.

archy meets warty bliggens

i met a toad
the other day by the name
of warty bliggens
he was sitting under
a toadstool
feeling contented
he explained that when the cosmos
was created
that toadstool was especially
planned for his personal
shelter from sun and rain
thought out and prepared
for him

do not tell me said warty bliggens
that there is not a purpose in the universe
the thought is blasphemy

a little more conversation revealed
that warty bliggens considers himself to be
the center of the said
universe
the earth exists
to grow toadstools for him
to sit under
the sun to give him light
by day and the moon
and wheeling constellations
to make beautiful
the night for the sake of
warty bliggens

to what act of yours
do you impute
this interest on the part
of the creator
of the universe
i asked him
why is it that you
are so greatly favored

ask rather
said warty bliggens
what the universe
has done to deserve me

if i were a human being i would
not laugh
too complacently
at poor warty bliggens
for similar
absurdities
have only too often
lodged in the crinkles
of the human cerebrum
                                           ... by archy

archy is sharing my walk down memory lane with
Lady Fi's marvelous meme, Our World Tuesday


Monday, September 18, 2017

The World is Too Much...


.

“The World is Too Much with Us” (circa 1802) is a sonnet by the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth. In it, the poet criticizes the world of the first Industrial Revolution for being absorbed in materialism and for its people distancing themselves from nature. (Wikipedia)

In the early 19th century, Wordsworth wrote several sonnets blasting what he perceived as "the decadent material cynicism" of the time.
"The World Is Too Much with Us" is one of those works. It reflects his view that humanity must get in touch with nature in order to progress spiritually.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours:
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. —Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; 
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.



Triton fountain in Rome
by Gianlorenzo Bernini
Who among us can fail to see the similarities between the ancient world, as described here by Wordsworth, and the world in which we live today?

As writers and poets, we can all read his words "getting and spending, we lay waste our powers..." and "for everything we are out of tune, it moves us not"... and we can't help but apply those words, from 1802, to life in the 21st century.

Yes, our world has seen changes which, in so many ways, would amaze and even, we suppose, awe Wordsworth, were he to see it today.

However, I doubt if he'd be impressed.

With his discerning eye, the poet would know without doubt that our modern reality bears out his opinion..."we lay waste our powers" indeed.

What would the sea god Triton think of the melting polar ice caps... what could a sea god think as we pollute his very oceans along with the lakes and rivers a poet once could love? ...The rapid extinction of one wild species after another would break a poet's heart... and, of course, war always war, never a decade or even a day without war...what kind of sonnet could Wordsworth write today?

Yes, we "lay waste our powers," and now we have to live in the world that Man's arrogance created. Who of us can really believe that 2017 is better than 1802?

And who among us really cares? "I've got what I want, and the rest of you be damned!" That is the mantra of too many.


RIP, William Wordsworth. Yes, may you rest in peace despite us!


Written for Lady Fi's memorable meme,


Thank you, Fiona, for the world as you see it through your discerning eye, every Tuesday.