Sunday, April 24, 2016

Founders Dinner

My grandfather, John Schlachter, was identified as one of the founding members of the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. Organizers brought descendants together for a special evening to honour the founders' contributions in starting the gallery more than 60 years ago.

Rob, Alex, Penny and I attended the Founders Dinner, along with my mom, brothers and sister, nieces and nephews. Our party made up 20 of the 94 guests, likely a few more than organizers bargained for, but we wanted a place at the table and a chance to learn more about this part of Grandpa's life.

The gallery began in a bicycle shed behind a high school, and the first big show featured a Tom Thomson painting. I can imagine my grandfather working to make the humble shed into something more, into a home for beautiful works of art.

I still often think of his passion for art, of his talent, his work ethic and incredible perseverance. He is one of my heroes, and in second year college I made a film about his work as an artist and artisan. 

His paintings hang on the walls of all the grandchildren's homes. He was an amazing man who helped support us through some very tough times, and worked well past retirement to keep us together. He talked about putting a roof over our heads, but it was so much more than basic shelter. I miss him, and wish he could see the results of his efforts in the lives of his grandchildren, and their children.

Grandpa also worked as a finisher at Baetz Fine Furniture for more than half a century. In my living room, there is a coffee table and two end tables Rob's mom purchased long ago when she was making her home in Winnipeg as a young woman. Now as I'm doing the math I realize this would have been about 60 years ago, right around the time my grandfather was busy helping to found the gallery and the artist association, and heading out on Sundays to paint his landscapes. Marian held on to the tables for decades because they were beautiful, and although they cost a bit more than she could afford at the time, they were made even more valuable by the hope of a gracious home. When I first admired the pieces she mentioned they were Baetz, and I was amazed at the providence. Fine furniture my grandfather had likely crafted, had found its way across the country and into the home of my future husband. Now the tables are in my own living room. I know Grandpa would be pleased.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Full Pink Moon - April

I saw it written and I saw it say
Pink moon is on its way
And none of you stand so tall
Pink moon gonna get you all
It's a pink moon
It's a pink, pink, pink, pink, pink moon.
- Pink Moon, Nick Drake

April 22, 2016 the moon is full at 1:24 a.m.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Feelin' groovy

Steve told me I should practise with a metronome. So did Manitoba Hal at the workshop he gave at Long and McQuade. Also Brett McQueen with his ukulele strumming tricks.

Timing is everything. Okay, maybe not everything, but if you don't have the beat and pulse you aren't in the groove.

Something Manitoba Hal suggested was just listening to a song, trying to feel the groove, and playing along while muting the strings. Scarboro Jam calls this the 'New York Strum.'

Feelin'' Groovy
Hang On Groovy
Groovy Kind of Love

There are lots of online metronome apps, but I like my old school ticker for its visual cues. Tick talks, and when it slows down I can rewind. No batteries required.

Nearly every music student has been told by their teacher to “Practice with a metronome.”  Metronome practice is arguably the most effective way to improve one’s skills and knowing how to incorporate your metronome into your practice effectively will help you improve your rhythmic and technical skills in the fastest and most efficient way possible... Slow practice is the key to fast playing. Metronome Online 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

April garden

We had such a mild winter, and just when we were expecting spring the vernal equinox brought some of the coldest temperatures with lots of snow. Crocuses and snowdrops had already made their appearance, and I admired the tenacity of colourful blooms buried in snow.

Now April 17, I bagged some of the leaves and debris from the garden beds so I could better see the progress of spring. Hellebore blooms, and blood root sprouts. Long awaited. The white blanket lifting.

April 4 

April 5

April 17

April 17

Monday, April 11, 2016

Thinking about thinking

Three of us gathered at Debra's to discuss Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making (Bradford Books)by Gary Klein, the selection for the April book club.  It was an interesting pick,
challenging some basic assumptions about the best way to approach difficult decisions.

Not many copies were available through the library (zero electronically), so I turned online to see if Klein had done any Ted Talks on the subject. There was more available about Seeing What Others Don't, his more recent offering. Klein has inspired thought leaders like Malcolm Gladwell, and has been a consultant for the military and tech companies, but he is not a popular choice for non-fiction. As Debra said, it reads pretty much like a textbook, albeit on a fascinating subject.

The assumptions Klein questions are these:

1) Teaching people procedures helps them perform better
2) Biases distort our thinking
3) The best decision making process involves listing all possible options and choosing the best one
4) We can reduce uncertainty by gathering more information
5) It’s bad to jump to conclusions
6) People need feedback to learn
7) Drawing inferences from data helps us make sense of the problem
8) The best starting point for any decision is generating a clear description of the goal
9) We will make better decisions if we identify big risks and eliminate them
10) Leaders can create common ground by setting up ground rules and defining roles before decisions are made.

Changing your perspective can change everything. This book talks about the difference between learner/judger mindsets, and how practising the attitude of a learner can be a powerful tool at work and in relationships. It's an easy read, with a sometimes annoying narrative, but essential message.

I appreciated the easy-to-remember formula about the choice process,
A = Aware. Am I being a judger?  Is this working? 
B = Breathe! Do I need to step back, gain perspective?
C = Curiosity. What is really going on with me, and the situation? What am I missing?
D = Decide. What is my decision? How do I choose to act?

click to enlarge
The author also shared some familiar quotes:

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.
- Victor Frankl

Creativity is bound up in our ability to find new ways around old problems.
- Martin Seligman

Where you stumble, there your treasure is.
- Joseph Campbell