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Mephistopheles: Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris. (It is a comfort to the wretched to have companions in misery).- Christopher Marlowe . The theme followed early applications of paint. The rebellious angel may be remembered as being advised that he could back away the fall into self indulgence, but replied "All I have is Pride!" This was destined to be a year of further mixed blessings for all "companions." Pride is, of course, the ultimate source of all Troubles (those black squiggles), as politics illustrated again four years later.



Rod says, "That's true pride, strong, free and ridiculous." However, for artists of every stripe, very hard to avoid since that truly is all that many of them have.  And, "'You might, from your appearance, be the wife of Lucifer,' said Miss Pross, in her breathing. 'Nevertheless, you shall not get the better of me. I am an Englishwoman.'” - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. Again, overriding pride of another sort. Rod complains that he has been seriously tempted to adopt a Riopelle-like palette painting style, but would have to fabricate statements appropriate to the time when they were produced: exempli gratia, "The Three Elements?" This rapid-fire effort would be less wasteful of time!



In the new year, Rod considered painting a portrait of Saint Norbert. The French born "Norbert Gennep, was a bishop of the Catholic Church, founder of the Premonstratensian order of canons regular. Reluctantly, Norbert became archbishop of Magdeburg in central Germany, a territory half pagan and half Christian. In this position he zealously and courageously continued his work for the Church until his death on June 6, 1134." Having read his full biography, Rod decided his pride was that of a dogsbody and abandoned the idea.



Christmas 2010 had passed leaving some unpacked boxes but only a few summary Christmas decorations which needed to be put away.



I guess that massive Boston fern was their Christmas tree that year.



There had been some changes made in the interest of privacy and Ruth had settled on an arrangement of her "welsh Cupboard." The upstairs downstairs arrangement had been practical through most of 2011 before there was much ice and snow, but the cold season revealed practical problems.



The year was off to a good start with this larger commission, which was finally completed and shipped off early in the new year. It had been fun in the fashion of a jig saw puzzle, with elements borrowed from several photos given consistent tonal values and lighting. Much better than a straight forward interpretation of someone else's photo.



Odd Rod drafted new web pages with the best of intentions, but is not sure that this image was used.

With the economy recovering in a small way inflation increased forcing the painter to increase his prices slightly as seen above. That commission was a 24x30".



At Mahone Bay the temperature had briefly descended to minus 2 Centigrade on February 4 of their final year there. This id "Deep South" compared with most places they had resided in New Brunswick.  That winter at Lunenburg was very warm by contrast, and the heating bill for the big house was not exorbitant.



This photograph as dated back then. The easel was repositioned according to light conditions in each season. The two unfinished paintings seen on an easel and shelved were ultimately trashed. That nearest the floor because Rod thought the design solid enough to demand a much larger canvas.



Same day looking into the still disorganized master bedroom. The area at right was the well for a spiral staircase. Rod had expected the painting there to be popular but perhaps Rod's Friend David Mann was correct in finding it "too cold." But then, he wintered in a Thailand condo. As for that insert: Ruth's mum was suggesting that R&R  not enter by the front door to keep the entryway clear of boots and melt water. Cheerio! They ignored this injunction, because the ground floor back door was often frozen shut and the second floor entry accessed, by a steep exterior staircase was dangerously iced on occasion. Her regular snow clearance guy lived in the deep country and was understandably unreliable when there were serious storms.



That spiral staircase was steep and not the best when carrying parcels. In addition, Ruth was having inner ear balance problems. Fortunately there was a door from the two entry rooms to the annex hallway, which had an indoor stair system built to give children a way to reach a second floor nursery. R&R commenced leaving their winter boots here rather than in the ground floor common room.   After this strange incident,  Rod began to think of Mary as "Queen Mary," as began to display a landlady mentality.



There was no storm the equivalent of Snowmagaddon which had provided a good deal of painterly subject matter, but Rod walked down to the waterfront when there was snow on the ground and interesting lighting in the western sky.  In this case he cropped a couple of pictures out of the overall scene.  There were, of course, other reference photos taken on this particular day when light was fleeting.



In colourful Lunenburg in winter an overcast sky creates better scenes than those observed on a cloudless day. This one required only minor editing.



For a 8x10 format, this sort of image simplified created the best visual impact.



As that winter closed, partly cloudy and overcast days remained as the painter's friend.



As seen and painted in April 2012.


9x12", Rod says.  "Wanderer & 'Ell's Angels.



The TV Series came to town in early spring to avoid the high season for tourism.  That year they shot on the street in front of the town hall. 70 King street was two and a half blocks distant. It was a cold, miserable day and the actors were not wearing gloves.  Three portraits came out of this.



This was the season for painting boats in bot the real and visual worlds. Seemingly simple, this one taught Rod that he should avoid photographs displaying a lot of interior detail. This was the Bluenose tender at her slip. The mother ship was under construction at a local dry dock.



Rod could not resist doing something with an even more demanding group of small boats.



This painting was executed in a larger format, and was greatly simplified.



This tour boat was cropped to completely eliminate the background, and painted in a watercolour style.  Rod gave it to Chris Webb, who had captained it before going to work for Elizabeth's Books, which he ultimately owned. In 2016, this painting still hung in the shop.  Chris pointed out the fact that Rod missed including the metal guard rail on the far side of the boat.



This dory painting would have been absolute simplicity except for the water effects.  The red was reflected from a shore building.



Rod had had a health problem which called on emergency workers while living at 49 Townsend, and was restricting garden work to digging shallow beds, which is why Janet Cowan was hired by Mary to construct a garden pond.  Rod thought about a people picture, but rejected the idea since the representation of Mary would not flatter her.



Instead, he opted for this scene in small format.



Feeling more confident at a later date, Rod created new tree and flower beds in that empty field back of the house and R&R started planting.  There was a damp basement problem created by the fact that there was a berm creating a diked areas around the house and drainage water was collecting there.  Rod created the drainage system seen above, feeding outflow into Janet's pond.  Revved up by great summer weather he build a stoop to service the door to Mary's kitchen, which had none. He commenced laying  patio bricks after infilling that "low area" and eventually extended them over the area filled with sand.



It was an enjoyable gentle summer.  Rod painted this south western view from their balcony at the second-floor back door entry.



One of the Halifax ferries needed TLC that year, and Mackay happened to be at the waterfront as it chugged north to the Foundry. It was painted.



Rod never shied from material which might be considered to have an embedded story.  He wiped the figure of the man behind the girl and cleared people from the sidewalk.  In this case he placed the centre of interest in the centre to give her an absolutely firm anchor in place and time.



The big photographic opportunity for Rod and Mary came on July 25 when part of the Halifax Tall Ship contingent stopped off for a couple of days before making calls at Shelburne and Annapolis Royal. A couple of small paintings were created featuring men and women in the rigging. In retrospect, he thinks that all paintings should have been given more canvas.



Reenactor Greg Wentzel of Lunenburg was on hand for a march past of Loyalist troops, and guard duty over the tall ships. He was painted, as were several other reenactors.



This was a should have been painted with a substitute background. Rod was very busy and reactive so the image was passed over.



The Lunenburg tall ship Picton Castle was among those that berthed for the event, and provided excellent images.



The horizon was returned to horizontal, but all rigging was retained as seen in order to contain and direct the eye of the beholder.



Many related events were arranged to coincide with this crowd-pleaser, including the launch of the first schooner built at the Dory Shop.  This was not the only shot which was recreated as a painting.



The Picton Castle tender got similar treatment.




Rod also painted the tall ship Swedish ship Sorlandet which was hired on by local sea-training school after the loss of their ship in the South Atlantic.



The reconstructed La Amistad, which had been seen by the King Street Trio in Shelburne the year before, was involved in the Lunenburg visit but the crew was less in evidence than it had been in 2011. The original ship was a slaver transporting blacks out of Africa in 1836.  The slaves seized the ship and killed some of the crew. Their hope of returning to Africa was thwarted by their dependence on a Spanish navigator who guided the ship into American waters. This led to the case known as "United States v. The Amistad (1841)." It was finally decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in favour of the Mende people, restoring their freedom. It thus became a symbol in the United States in the movement to abolish slavery. These paintings were decidedly illustrative.




 
The big event had hardly died down before this happening, which saw wooden schooners displayed in review within the harbour and racing one another from here to Hubbards.



That review was a goldmine, since the weather was cooperative.






Rod doesn't know what became of these paintings, but recalls that some featured ships sailing in fog.
 


In the bad old days click-click-click actions photos would have been prohibitively expensive. On the other hand, many photographers were put out of business including Rod's old friend, Bill Rumming. For a painter this sometimes means there are too many choices to be made, but it does allow for  virtual cutting and pasting in hopes of improving a composition.



The tall ship HMS Bounty had been build for the motion picture "Mutiny On The Bounty" in Lunenburg decades before it came to port and held an open house on July 29.  This was its last port of call before it was lost in an Atlantic storm.  Several small paintings were developed.



"We believe that 'Captain Jack' was one of the survivors."




The Trio visited Shelburne again for Founder's Day.  On this particular morning, Mary overindulged in the very generous breakfast offered at Cooper's Inn and remained in their garden reading a book under a shade screen. A member of the local regiment noticing R&R's photographic interest in the troop offered the loan of his uniform and these pictures were the result. Rod thinks that one was turned into a sketch but otherwise they were only used as web material. Photos by Ruth.




Rod's favourite Group Of Seven artist was minted in that busy year.



Mahone Bay pirate days had been plagued by bad weather but they did get one good weekend day that year.



Once again R&R brought back photos but none were used.



Power House Art Gallery opened on Lincoln under the proprietorship of Lynn Meisner.  Mary showed her paintings there but Rod thought that the third floor placement of local paintings of all but Innu art and her paintings would not constitute  useful exposure. Ultimately, Mary withdrew her paintings when it was obvious that there would be no sales.



In many respects this was a very happy year for R&R. Here Ruth is seen in Chester back in the days when they were almost middle class in their expectations and life style.



Late Summer skies at the beginning of the Hurricane Season always offer drama.



Senator Wilfred Moore of Lunenburg promoted the idea of a NASCAD post-graduate residency program in what had been a fire hall. Lynette de Montreuil, Nadia Gemeinhardt and Jason Skinner (above) came to town as the first inductees, living above the first floor and doing their thing in the former garage on the first floor. None of this had much in common with the life and mores of long established working-class painters. Jason's large format montague was an attempt to delineate the history of Lunenburg. Too large for most Lunenburg walls.



Rod was not particularly drawn to the idea of painting the past. A St. Stephen painter was placing ghostly figures from times past on the streets; a novelty idea which seemed interesting but not worth copying. Instead, Rod turned a telephoto lens on workmen who were recreating Bluenose 2.9 back in 2011.



Several paintings did come out of this effort including one showing workmen installing the original wooden rudder, replaced with a weight metal one with horrible consequences for its plans to set sail in 2012.


"It was fun to play with that sunset."



And by sea... It is too bad that the Bluenose launch missed several days of great weather.  This was more difficult to paint than Rod originally supposed.
 

"After more than 25 months of reconstruction, Bluenose II was relaunched into Lunenburg Harbor on 29 September 2012 from the Lunenburg marine railway followed by festivities at the nearby Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, however due to repairs not completed, the vessel was pulled back onto land for more work. The vessel was returned to the water on 6 September 2013."
 


On launch day the ship was towed to its usual berth down town, but the day was cold and damp and the somewhat smaller crowd than expected was scattered by a cloudburst. Bad omen!  The tall ship sailed in 2015 and 2016 while factions argued about who was irresponsible for what.  In the end the builders were exonerated and there are plans to drop that metal rudder into boat-builder's hell sometime soon. Rod lost all enthusiasm for the new ship and bureaucrats who created this white elephant for taxpayers.



As the Fall deepened Rod took to the closest walking trail and   painted the inefficient waste water treatment plant in the background. Something was needed in the foreground.



That is how this bird came to dominate the painting. It does take some imagination to juxtapose.




More subject matter, but Rod should have risked a large canvas.



The debate in the former Prebyterian Church Hall. A local girl tells a come-from-away that he just doesn't understand local needs.  R&R, in attendance, have their first experience of encountering the CFA syndrome in Lunenburg. Stockton received 25% of the vote. Observing that the town was decidedly ghettoized they began to consider moving elsewhere as some of their friends and acquaintances had done.




The lighting was just right.



On this shore Lobster Season starts in late November and terminates when fine weather develops.  This winter season gives fishermen the Christmas market and firm-fleshed lobster from off-shore banks which are the most productive in the entire region.



R&R liked and approved of the Lutheran cleric and her husband seen here representing a pioneer of their cause in the Santa Claus parade that year. Talking with them, they realized that there were religious push-me-pull-me differences still active after more than two centuries.



Ruth, Mary and Rod took coffee at Eli's in Mahone Bay that December, there last casual completely unguarded get-together.



Ice on those steps explains why R&R insisted on using the front entry in winter. Imagine this area after a really big snowstorm. That shed was Rod's summer workshop for stretching canvas and  woodwork essential to improving the weather tightness of the house. A rusting hulk, he spray-painted green at some risk of life and limb.

This was a gift from Allison in those dark days.



The Sony had had its' day but was still serviceable as a back up machine. Gifts were opened before Christmas Day as was their wont.



Christmas Eve proved to be another turning point thanks to another series of unbelievably unfortunate family-oriented events.m On Christmas Day R&R went for a drive to try to shake off the fall out.  It was too cold and windy to get out of the car at the Railway Wharf. This was turned into a painting at a much later date.



“Christmas it seems to me is a necessary festival; we require a season when we can regret all the flaws in our human relationships: it is the feast of failure, sad but consoling.”
- Graham Greene.

However, consolation can be distant following the repercussions of a little too much eine keine nachtmusic. A professional singer, Ruth's bother knows how to project his voice when talking as well as singing.  He maintains a home in Lunenburg but upon arrival on Christmas Eve came to see his mother after midnight. Ruth had worked a full day and was roused from sleep by his continuous loud talk, a very bad omen since there was a long litany of earlier annoyances, some at this season.



In a long lifetime, Rod says he has experienced extreme angst as well as happiness at Christmastide. The terrors of Christmas are not due to external forces as Updike surreptitiously contends. John Irving has noted that, "... the yuletide is a special hell for those families who have suffered any loss or who must admit to any imperfection (individually as well as collectively)... Christmas is our time to be aware of what we lack, of who's not home.” And what followed to much loud talk and banging about was an unexpected steamroller of released emotions which predictably led to revelations and greater estrangement. The death of Ruth's father had been a great loss because he had been a balancing force in family politics.  As for imperfections, no one likes to admit to them, but people who speak loudly and do not listen are not analytical of themselves. Mary and her son, were tightly wound and bounced pronouncements off one another with increasing vigour whenever they came together. "Declaration rather than conversation." Ruth and Basil were less loud, and through the decade before his death he was not in his son's camp. In his day, he often characterized himself to R&R as "Poor old Bas." He did have the courtesy to reconcile himself with Edmund at the end of his time, but his last words to Mac Odd were on the mark: "Poor old Rod."



Mary in the hallway at Solomon House more than a decade ago. Ruth e-mailed her brother noting that while he was on holiday, she was a working girl and needed her rest. He took umbrage and complained to his mother. Rod thought this very strange behaviour for a man well beyond middle age. especially when she reacted by upbraiding her daughter, rather than promising that she would attempt to moderate any further abusive language. Rod warned her of the dangers in showing favouritism, but knew that a social train wreck was now almost certain.



Mary never understood that Ruth needed to work in order to "earn a living."  In all her life that had only been her experience for a brief few years before she met Basil and he catered to her following retirement. Ruth suggested that Edmund undertake to walk her a couple of blocks to attend a Chistmas church service . She said that he needed rehearsal time, which R&R thought an unusual excuse. When Ruth requested that he walk her to over that short distance, he came tearing into 70 King anteroom and commenced a one-sided shouting match, which made them fearful. He returned when he realized that Ruth was not about to be subservient.



Remember when it was still commonplace for anyone, of any persuasion, to be "young and gay," and "clowning around" was thought amusing?  That was Rod at left engaged in a promotional to benefit the Lunenburg Art Gallery.  The sage who said the Devil invariably whispers the truth in people's ears is correct. He leaves it to them to distort the truth on their road to Hell. Ruth has always said that one would be happier if allowed the complete liberty to rewrite personal history and feel no sense of guilt. Rod agrees that neither of them is good at doing this. "One should accept innate childish foolishness over adult lies."

Rod says that being a male predisposed him to an "unforgivable, unforgotten" disposition in relation to his parents. This is not to say he ceased to love his mum and dad, but he remained wary of them as a supposed adult.  Ruth, on the other hand had periodic suspensions of disbelief and often characterized her mum as a "poor little old lady." Rod had doubts, but did not often vocalize them, and got flak when he did.
 



Ruth's mum saw Ruth as "difficult and antagonistic" although Rod saw her as analytical, helpful and truthful. She never resorted to croquet mallets in confronting her mother or her brother. Her controlled responses were remarkable for Rod, whose family interactions had sometimes been firecrackers. R&R were led to believe they would soon experience the extreme justice of isolation and loneliness, eaten by lions or consumed in flames.
 


Eddie is a very peculiar old chap, who can be ingratiating when he speaks from within his experience and training as a musician. While Ruth's accent since she and her brother immigrated as Canada has become a blend of Canadian and British dialects, Edmund's has somehow become more firmly tied to Britain in spite of the fact that he has lived and worked since then in the United States, Canada and Germany. His teaching experience in Frankfurt has seen him mostly resident in Germany. Rod says he has never experienced a genuine conversations with the lad, but has noticed that he has broad opinions on almost every subject in spite of his narrow education.


 

While in Germany, he first married a young German national who was Rod observed was probably the only female completely in his camp. He divorced her. He then had a child from a short-term relationship with one of his students from Uzbekistan, whose family had immigrated to Germany. After that, Mary encouraged him to marry her former roommate, another student from Korea.  R&R had privately predicted that that churching, which took place in Lunenburg, would not last. When these women were displayed on visits to Canada, it became obvious to Rod that Edmund was not only patronizing but verbally abusive, so Ruth was not alone in being indelicately characterized. He has blamed his unhappiness on all four and has since sought out and found many "friends" on Facebook.



The namesake of King Edmund, the "deed-doer" or "Edmundus magnificus" he had the unabashed devotion and patronage of his mother in facing legal hurdles created by his pacadillos. He may have been a deed-doer with a splendid reputation in Germany, but when he vacationed in Canada he tended to be legarthic. Ruth was sure that he experienced widespread admiration. While R&R did not gossip about either Mary of Edmund they were recipients of a lot of unsolicited negative gossip about both.  It boiled down tom "They talk too much." Edward Gorey, left; Ronald Searle, right.

goreysearle

At all social at-home events at Mary's residence in Lunenburg, Edmund invariably made himself the centre of attention by talking very loudly and posturing tools of his artistic trade. He did complain that neither R nor R paid adequate attention to his local showmanship. However, these things require reciprocity and Edmund have never attended one of Rod's art exhibits nor shown any interest in Ruth's health science knowledge or her transcription work.  He was not a believer in the use of medical drugs and was caught up in various homeopathic scams.
 


Edward Gorey's view of concert goers, and Seales
ironic view of Royalty are apropos. R&R have always enjoyed music as background experience but are hyperactive adults and hate sitting still for long periods. In any event Mary alway claimed that he had a following. Meek Mill guess that "Everybody think they're famous when they get 100,000 followers on Instagram and 5,000 on Twitter."
 


Edmund complained that he disliked Germany and Germans, although he was not adverse to taking a pay check from them. Although he spent only a few weeks of each year at his residence in Lunenburg, he declared himself "Canadian" too often to be taken seriously. His occasional ventures into the folk song genre suggest he would like to have enjoyed the advantages of being a a popular culture figure.



That "sigh" was back in 1958 when computers that Rod used look like the bank seen at left. Neither Ruth nor Rod has been able to keep even with all aspects of personal computer use, although they used them daily. Edmund was a Mac rather than an MS-DOS affectionado, and though himself a guru, which he may have been when it comes to using his machine as music-making device.  Unfortunately for Ruth, he was not versed in handling the idiosyncrasies of a Microsoft machine. He spent a lot of time that Christmastide Facebooking but unknown to his mother or R&R downloaded some heavy-duty software into her machine to track down musical scores and create virtual compositions.  This crashed Mary's machine after he returned to Germany and she spent hours figuring out what was wrong.



Is that all there is? Of course not and Rod says, "Just then highlights, please!" Ruth suggested that her brother could perhaps try to be helpful if not quiet. She suggested that he might plasticize the downstairs windows in the interest of conserving heat, perhaps take out their collective garbage and compost or even paint the bathroom which R&R had renovated. The troublesome duo had other ideas and Edmund removed the seal and peel Rod had put on the windows as a draft stop a month earlier. That was never replaced and the plastic sheets remained in their boxes.
 


Poem courtesy of Edward Gorey. Ruth said that as a child Edmund had a propensity for taking mechanical and electric-driven objects apart and being unable to reassemble them, which is why she had suggested physical chores. R&R has gifted Mary with a five piece cell phone set because she was living in a big house and had had some health issues.  They installed four phones for her on the ground floor and a base phone on their floor in case of need.  These wired-in electronic devices, unlike simpler early phones require a rest when they are moved about.  R&R had argued against turning one of these hones into a wall-hung device once everything was up and running. Edmund re-established two downstairs phones and put them out of commission. Ruth fiddled for hours without resolving this problem. This prompted an edge of anger but she remained calm but forcefully suggested that her mother tell her brother to desist playing electrician.

 

You can always tell the Germans, and always tell the Dutch. You can always an English school-boy; you just can't tell him much. The next day he decided to rewire a switch in the front porch and cut the power without telling Ruth. Suddenly in the middle of a medical transcription... That file was lost and much needed cash went flowing down the tube.



That was distressing but more followed.  For some unknown reason Ruth's computer started crashing without explanation.  It took two days before she found that he had relocated the modem, so that some intervening electromagnetic field was subverting the wireless signal.  She was about to hook up with a cable when she noticed the new location and removed the modem to its old location.  This was getting to be a costly  Christmastide, a Chevy Chase reality show.



The goldfish bit back!  When Edmund posted a Facebook note saying he guessed he should paint the bathroom before going back to Germany, Rod, posted this short response, "Good Idea!"  The Dynamic Duo did not take the put out the garbage request seriously, and on collection day Rod found a massive pile of post Christmas leavings at the foot of the back indoor stairway where Mary left them each week.  For some reason this pushed Rod over the edge into depression.



R&R had thus far provided regular services for the Queen on King: local transportation for grocery shopping, appointments and delivering paintings, medicine and mail pick up, vacation travel, painting and carpentry work, gardening and health advice. Ruth said that some changes had to be agreed upon or the Upstairs/Downstairs arrangement terminated.  Mary's Boy Child was neither amused nor happy about admitting any complicity in causing this upset.  M&E hunkered down and quickly passed through the five stages of grief, viz. denial, anger, depression and acceptance.  There was never any bargaining so R&R guessed that the twosome had never suffered much real grief. Edmund had successfully exploited his mother's emotions and won the day and his way.



One other subjective opinion: A very great source of annoyance over many years was the fact that Edmund often exercised his voice under Mary's roof.  Rod says he never got beyond Grade I in his three years of attempting to master piano, but observed that Ruth was good at playing this instrument and church organs. Ruth admitted that neither she nor her brother mastered the violin. R&R agreed that neither Basil nor Edmund were maestros when it came to instrumental music. Their efforts explain why about half the guests at Christmas parties retreated to the kitchen.



Instead of bargaining, Mary hit Ruth with all barrels blazing saying that she was incomprehensible and a very bad girl who denigrated her brother.  Ruth could only suggest that she should conclude the arrangement.  That said, R&R should have completely cut ties and moved out post haste, but it was deep mid-winter and they had a forlorn hope that she might modify her stand.  In the end, guess who stayed behind to clean up the mess?  Of course the disruption of yet another move meant that Rod's painting career had run aground again. That is why no further paintings were created for several months.


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