There are many uncomfortable truths in this world and the year 2010 reminded Rod that some clever quotes are untrue. "The road to success is not easy to navigate, but with hard work, drive and passion, it's possible to achieve the American dream."  - Tommy Hilfiger. Well. Tom it depends on what road one takes and how one defines success. The struggle for perfection coupled with hard work and persistence will not invariably have the expected result. Anything is "possible" but...

Einstein had suggested,  "Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value." Churchill noted that,Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. But one can only soldier so far on limited resources.

Here is that same scene, cut and Photoshopped for more drama.

Dak's Day is Germanic, the equivalent of Groundhog Day. That physical storm did provide some painter ready material but the cold snap that followed precluded plein air painting.

Oddly 1910 had been another Green Christmas and Mahone Bay almost snow free and not viciously cold until then. Nova Scotia suffered less than other parts of Eastern North America, and snow cover here measured a mere 10".

Rod was looking for a new material and a new direction and was actually buoyed by a fresh look in the landscape. Norman Rockwell did not live life as he might have liked it  and for a bit thought maybe his friend, and fellow artist Norman Eastman, was correct in taking him as a model. He had one large, narrow unused canvas purchased at a bargain price when a Mahone Centre painter left town for Mexico. He went out and took a series of downtown businesses. Like Stockbridge, Mahone Bay is surrounded by hills... This project never took wing.

It was so cold on this day, Ruth did the driving and Rod took photos though window glass in the back seat. In Rockwell's case, some of those businesses in that Christmas scene made it to souvenir plates and this idea was considered and dropped because of lack of seed money. Subsistence living means eating seeds.

Rod supposed that that long narrow canvas could have been devoted to this Lunenburg snow scene. Instead he clipped out a portion of the scene for a 9x12" canvas, with disappointing result.

This photo seemed an unlikely candidate but with tonal adjustment looked better than the Lunenburg scene. The inscriptions were a saviour in dating some of these images.

Records seem to suggest that this painting from the Blue Rocks area was also completed that winter.  It was based on a much earlier photo.

Just before the storm Ruth parked the car across the court in front of condos owned by those who wintered at home in Tennessee. This allowed for snow clearance in front of the Mackay-Brown residence. Rod did not feel inspirited to paint these places even with snow cover.

In those days, a cuppa meant Tim Horton's. Today this place is open most of the year but as a restaurant.  The juxtaposition of signage and observable weather is amusing, but a little too slushie for a painting?

This business was in the building next door. Today fudge competes with ice cream as a major sales product. This building was torn down, supposedly to create waterfront condos. That business is now in Lunenburg. Deep mid winter is the only season when colour schemes like this can be appreciated.

A little painting was based on this Zack & Nemo photo. The background was darkened to add a feeling of depth.

Partly because Mt A used to rail against centrally sited subject matter and sunsets, Rod worked up a couple of views through the French doors at the back of the condo.

Open water came early that year providing this image opportunity.  After that came a spell of deep freeze which did not persist after mid-month.

Also seen that same day. R&R had no idea that their future would include a very unpleasant, unprofitable five month winter rental at this place in four years time. Today it remains an unsigned, uninspected, absentee owned seasonal tourist rental. It was recommended by Cottage Connection Nova Scotia, a firm physically based in Newfoudland, which has nothing more than a virtual presence in this province. That was a nice sign compared with the next!

This was February 14, Valentine's Day walk. The Lost Gallery owners had long before retreated to Britain, but this was when R&R first notices a "For Sale" sign.

Just after that Rod was informed that his mother had died at St. Stephen, New Brunswick aged 100+.  R&R travelled over bare roads for the funeral on February 18, picked up daughter, and experienced that sad family get together including burial on Deer Island. Cathy was briefly a visitor at Mahone Bay returning home on February 25.

It was March 16 before Rod went out with a camera and painted a picture based on this image of a loon.

Same day. This one posed more problems in painting the background.

This was noted the following day.

R &R are not Royalists but they did decorate to celebrate the wedding of Kate & William on April 29. After that there was mayhem. This was because there were only three other people resident at The Meadows all that winter. There had been a death and one other senior citizen was scheduled to move to assisted living in Bridgewater.


The sky was overcast and the mood was despondent.

What happened next might be called Mayhem.  Having given notice in the previous month, R&R stayed in residence long enough to hang an American flag and greet the boys from Tennesse when they returned for their six-month stay in the True North.

Ruth continued transcribing, while Rod packaged all their small possessions and placed them in the storage room. Gradually all easily movable furniture was moved into the studio space at the front of the condo. Here is how things looked on moving day, with just a bit of organization still in order.

This became an even more crowded area just before noon, when filled cartons were brought out of storage and placed here to make for a quicker move.

That was Ruth emerging from a final inspection tour.  Having used the moving company previously it was left to them to transport everything to Mary's little house on Townsend Street in Lunenburg. From the beginning this move was understood as a transition to larger living quarters for everyone.

In late June, to break the tedium, R&R&M took a day trip to Sheburne for Founder's Day. The gathering of Loyalist's soldiers was disappointingly small that year but it was diverting, and Rod and Ruth brought back a few useful photos.

Most of R&R's possessions went into the basement through a driveway side door near the front of the house. This beautiful little house had high steps at the front and rear of the home, and the only way Mary could navigate them was by holding a rail and walking down them backwards.

Ruth and Mary spent a couple of months following real estate agent Michael Wilson on the look for houses with easier access and more living space. 49 Townsend was placed on the market.  Needless to say, Rod was not painting pictures.

Some places proved eminently unsuitable.  In addition this one was on very unleveled ground.

Ruth had been on the lookout since May 19 as this photo shows.  That little blue house was to small and the cream coloured place, also for sale, seemed massive. This place at 70 King Street was Michael's first suggestion.

This additional shot may explain why she thought it was too large, although the ground floor had easy access at both front and rear doors.  In the latter case, a wheelchair ramp since it was St. Norbert's Catholic Church hall. This place was shown by Michael about April 24 and rejected until it was recognized as the best value as well as the only truly ground floor accessible house on sale in town.

Ruth did all of the necessary phone calling to end and reset services. Rod did most of the packing for Mary .

October 6, 2011. At 70 King they did all of the unpacking and preliminary rearrangement for Mary. Because of tight deadlines both transfers of property coincided at the end of September.

This partly explains why it was necessary to take on a vacation rental cottage in the vicinity of Princes Inlet. It was a new building and well appointed and supplied through Cottage Connection. There was a minor blip on the arrival date which was not the fault of the owner, but it did cause the loss of frozen food. Mary was installed here while R&R arranged things at the new place, a mean job considering that they had to unpack two households.  Mary's stuff took up two-thirds of the moving van.

Since the place had been rejigged as a church hall there were two downstairs washrooms, with another upstairs but no bathtub or shower stall and no place for a washer or dryer. Further there was no door on the larger public washroom in the annex.  Ruth arranged for carpenters and a plumber, but Mary alienated the plumber when it came to installation cost.  Ruth remembered that Clayton had done work for her date and was very fortunate to obtain his services, later used to install kitchen and laundry facilities on the second floor where R&R were to live. This was a prime reason why the Catholics did not get their full asking price of $239,000.

Move in day, as opposed to moving day, came on October 8. That did not mean that Operation Overload was at an end. Ruth had managed to work a bit on-line at the cottage and now discovered she had to wait for an internet connection.

The place leaked air and Rod became the full time live-in handyman. There was a corridor service area in the annex and he rescued built-in pine counters and transferred them to the upstairs where a kitchen was created back-to-back with a washroom. Clayton came back to install plumbing for a second hand sink and dishwasher which they had purchased for Orchard Street. Janet Cowan, "The Lady Carpenter" did a lot of work for Mary and renewed this counter top, which was only ready for use on November 28.

The tiniest kitchenette ever (10x10 feet), but much appreciated. There were so many chores that this room was the only  one somewhat organized by the end of November.

R&R paid rent and half the expenses of electricity, taxes and heat, so the difference between living here and at The Meadows was minimally less.  The bad news was that Ruth had to work as a transcriptionst just to stand still financially. Her mother being on a full pension did not always appreciate the fact that she was not on call to serve as a go-body. In that first half year when she started attending her mother's needs, she notes that her income dropped by about $9,000. Still, she and husband felt less isolated.

Late fall is not a great tine for snapshots whatever the tide.

However, frost came late to protected areas with a southern exposure.

One of four rooms on the second floor was designated for computers before the boxes filled with personal possessions and books were opened. That's Rod's Sony at right.

That had been a poor years for making pictures, but Rod still had a sizable stock of paintings he was willing to retail  and had worked on creating an all new web site where time allowed. It went on line November 12, 2011. Some local artists had actually been stung by a scam where they were an offshore "hotel" placed an order with a cheque enclosed and they shipped after it appeared to have cleared, so Rod had added a condition of sale, which meant that such "clients" would have a three month cooling-off period. He received three such proposals.

Everything was placed, with excruciating slowness. The kitchen table was originally placed in the kitchen where space limitations made it difficult sit and eat a meal. It was banished to this hall location just outside the kitchen door, which was removed and refitted as a hallway door to keep food odors out of the five main rooms. It was Christmas Day before the last boxes were opened and all the paintings given wall space.

Rod's studio was initially placed in the computer room where he seems to have made an attempt to continue with a painting started earlier in Malone Bay.

In the midst of this, he got commissions from a regular patron, and precipitously abandoned that project.

All three of the new residents took the last Saturday in November off to observe the Christmas Parade, a fairly new phenomenon at the time. Very successful!

From past experience Rod knew that the handling and packaging of a mail-order painting might interfere with Ruth's auditory work and moved his base of operations to an adjacent 8x8' room next door, where he shoe-horned in all of his gear and unfinished work.

It was at this juncture that he took down this beginning work, which might have been next in line, and hung that "Lady Janet painting in its place.

The church had stored all kinds of paper goods in this room. Rod fitted these wall hung shelves with more substantial.

View from the doorway. Rod repainted the walls ceiling and floor and tightened the window against winter wind. The chimney serving a downstairs living room fireplace made entry a bit tight, but the room did have a bright northern exposure.

The first commission was relatively straight forward.  Using an e-mailed portrait, Rod printed out  a photo, and worked it up. The second was a little more complex.

Both were framed as show and the corners blocked in with corrugated card stock. They were individually bubble wrapped, separated by polyfoam sheets, packaged , labelled and sent. This provided a nice unexpected infusion of cash just prior to Christmas.

A final order involved a larger canvas and a half dozen  photos but delivery was not demanded in time for Christmas.  This was a very difficult, lengthy project, but it was completed before the New Year and was ultimately presented to George Matthew's secretary, the lead singer in a band based in Calais, Maine. Rod posted a progress report on his web site.

Christmas was not memorable for reasons we will set aside for the moment. Mary hosted her annual Christmastide party during which passed on excess belongings to anyone interested. Included was a Mr. Potato Head.

"Voice of Fire" (centre) is an acrylic on canvas by American painter Barnett Newman. It consists of three equally sized vertical stripes, with the outer two painted blue and the centre painted red. The work was created as a special commission for Expo 67. In 1987 it was loaned to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.The purchase of the work by the National Gallery of Canada for its permanent collection in 1989 at a cost of $1.8 million caused a storm of controversy. A bit after the fact but Rod, actually painted two smaller thingies for relaxation late that year. The one at left was not that clever, so he came up with "Shade Drawn On Voice Of Fire" at right. Both trashed instead of transporting them at the next unwelcomed move.

While Rod was at play Ruth spent this evening at her work station.  That's a part of survival for most working artists who spurn teaching their craft.

We had come a long way, but felt undue security under a roof originally built to shelter Presbyterian clerics. Some lived here before a new manse was built in the twentieth century. It was two blocks away closer the church with the cod weather vane.

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