An uneasy wish list

With my 50th birthday approaching on 18 November, I’ve had some notes from folks asking what I might like as a gift.  This is always a difficult thing for me, so I put some thought into it.
I mean, heck, come to the art show – there, that’s a gift to me.
Be my friends.  Love me, love each other, be kind, all those things.

So rather than making a specific list, I thought I’d put some places I love to shop and I’d enjoy having a gift certificate to them.  As many of you know, being a disabled poet and funeral celebrant doesn’t leave one wealthy beyond all measure of avarice, so gift certificates are like gold to me.  I’m famously careful about using them, but once I get into it, I find it a pretty simply job.

A friend gave me a wonderful gift certificate to Chapters/Indigo last Christmas, and of course their stores are like a toy-filled Christmas dreams for a geeky adult like me.  When I needed a new book for my funeral notes and services, it was great to be able to show up, pick the one I love, and buy it without worrying, “Will there be enough in the ol’ account (or overdraft)?” And inside my new book I put, “Bought with a gift certificate from Pat Johnson, 2017.”  The book before that says, “A gift from Shirley and John Naismith.”

I’ve always liked to notate such things when possible.  Mom had a great memory for, “This was Uncle Jimmy’s plate that he bought Grandma before he left for WWI.”  He never came home, so the plate is much treasured.  So I’ve learned to put a story to many things.

Now, as I find my brain failing me sometimes, I keep a list of things and stories when and where I can.  It helps me.

I tried to put as few big businessesses on the list, because I believe in small businesses and artisans and those kinds of things.  On the list is the privately owned Bulk Warehouse on Plains Rd in Burlington, but I also included the Bulk Barn, which I love.  You know, one tries to do one’s best but in the end, when you need Big Feet and fancy liquorice allsorts, you  need ’em, or I do.

Joanne and I
Joanne Babcock and Paul Chappel at a party held in my honour, September 2016

Thank you for the love you all share with me every day, my dear ones. x

Art Show Open House & Party

The fifth of November we’ll have an open house for my third solo show at St. James in Dundas, but this open house has a twist; we’re also celebrating my 50th birthday. So I hope lots of  new and old friends will come and visit with us, take some time to enjoy the energetic and very artistic feel of the church, and also have some fun.  Laughter is of course always welcome.

The art show will include photographs printed on paper and on canvas, and other pieces including a six-piece set made of wire, minerals, and beads.  To be honest, I’m still working on this one, so I’m trying to buckle down on it.  Two of the six are totally finished and the other four are well more than half way done.

I’m very excited about all of this and am so looking forward to seeing all of you who can come.  If you can’t come on the fifth, the show is open during St. James’ office hours for the month of November. stjamesdundas.ca

More Marmot Information

Well, folks in this area will be able to hear me reading from the Marmot stories at an event called Vinyl Church at St. James in Dundas. We’ll have a hip jazz combo with a sultry singer (Sara. my wife) and I’ll do some readings from the Marmot canon.

Now, I know you’re thinking that it sounds like a rather popular CBC radio show, nothing could be further from the truth, in fact, I’ve never heard of Vinyl Cafe – oops – what I meant to say was, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”  Yes, that’s it! 

The date in late February will be announced here on the blog shortly.

How some hymns are written

Orgelbuchlein concert I
Orgelbuchlein concert II

Now, I take my handy-dandy Moleskine journal with me on my journeys, but in days gone by I often had to write on whatever came to hand.

 
I was at a recital of Bach’s entire Little Organ Book, put on by the local centre of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, and the idea for a new hymn celebrating organs and their use in worship came to mind.  I thought I’d only sketch out the ideas in rough, but the poetry came quite easily that afternoon in Port Nelson United Church, Burlington, where a good friend, Rev. Michael Brooks, is now the senior minister.
 
This hymn has been used at many organ dedications and celebrations, but to me it always brings to mind this purple concert programme and that afternoon when I just kept writing.  If you look closely on the scans, you might even decipher the words:
 
 

Organ Pipes Sing Holy Praises

1. Organ pipes sing holy praises;

Wood and metal songs abound.

Skills of players, tuners, builders

Join to make the joyful sound.

Flutes and strings and booming trumpets

Lift us up to holy ground.

2. Singing blessed by prayerful organ

Brings the soul a new reward;

Lifting people’s worship gently

To a place where God’s adored:

Beautiful emotions raising

Now with every flowing chord.

3. Gifted writers of the music

That makes worship rise and sing

Have throughout the ages brought their

New creations echoing,

Giving sound to Alleluia

With a new, inspired ring.

4. People’s senses are embraced by

Every organ’s mighty roar.

People of all ages join the

Organ praising evermore.

Voices mingled with the organ

Laud and worship, sing, adore.

5.God inspires the organ’s singing:

Praise to the Creator’s might!

Jesus gives our souls redeeming:

Praise the saving, holy light!

God the Spirit fills our breath and

Gives our praising voices flight!

878787 – could use Westminster Abbey, or Neander

written Sunday, 16 November 2003

Pipe Organ Thoughts

Easter Organ Pipes
I have, in many ways, dedicated my life to the organ. As a small child I pointed towards the organist at our church and said, “I want to do that.”  Although there have been some bumps in the roads, I have done just that.
I’m playing a little these days, but basically I’m retired from active playing due to physical problems, but my attention to the pipe organ hasn’t diminished.  Having a small studio of students, I can watch their progess with great care. Some of my former students are doing great things in the organ world, even as their training stage continues.
As you read this blog, I will refer to the organ often, no doubt.  I have published compositions (and several as yet unpublished) for the organ, and I continue to write about the organ.  Indeed, if it weren’t for the organ, I’d not have met my wife Sara.
For a few years, I served as Archivist and Historian to the Royal Canadian College of Organists.  During that time, Sara was hired as a summer intern for the College’s office in Toronto. We got to know each other as friends, and in due course of time, were married. (This was the Reader’s Digest version of the story)
Our wedding was described by Muriel Gidley Stafford, the Grand Dame of the College  as an RCCO royal wedding. So many friends and colleagues came to sing loudly and wish us well.  My best friend Paul Grimwood played for us and conducted the choir.
In 2005, the College (RCCO) granted me one of its highest honors – the Honorary Life Membership, of which I’m rather proud. Also, as I was under 40 when I got it, I intend to have free membership for many years to come!
RCCO Crest