Hudson Terraplane

During evening meals as I and my brothers grew up my father would look back to his boyhood days and share stories and facts about the world surrounding him. Talk would often revolve about different outings and that his mum, my grandmother loved a Sunday drive in the landscape surrounding Moncton, New Brunswick where he grew up. It did her good to be with her family and to see the world beyond her home. A blue 1938 Pontiac transported them – a few years ago my aunt showed me a picture of the car with my Dad and his younger brother eating picnic sandwiches sitting in shade on the car’s running boards. Cars do double as portable homes or perhaps rooms and during transport they group a family together. Everyone has common vision, all staring down the road with the driver.  Cars become a place to catch-up on things, a place to talk things through, places to share news – in transport, you’d not be the same person getting out of the car as you were getting in to it.

While cars did seem to be a family thing, a fact that I continue to be amazed at is that my father only learned to drive after completing his Ph.D. at the age of twenty-five or twenty-six; perhaps he anticipated family as his next step. And, maybe there’s some truth in that because during his university years at Mount Allison (Sackville, Nova Scotia) and at St. Mary’s College (London, U.K.), he hadn’t needed a car but had been able to make his way around Europe on train, by bus, on bicycle or hiking.  And, it seemed that such travel was much more of a social thing with much more grace being there as fellow-travellers or friends in the act of travel.  Perhaps there was that common purpose of travel in that former time – to ‘see’ the world (which also meant to experience it).

Dad had ideas about cars, about how long they should be driven before a new one should be bought.  He had ideas and biases about good and better cars. He enjoyed a car that had what he would term ‘pep.’  It’s tempting to look at the cars Dad has owned and driven as associating to different points of development among our family – a 57 Ford Consul (marriage), a 64 Pontiac Beaumont (the family populates), a 69 Pontiac Parisienne (the family’s middle years), a 76 Chevrolet Caprice Classic with 74 Ford Gran Torino (the family’s later middle years), an 81 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (kids almost ready to move out), an Oldsmobile Delta 88 with Dodge Aries K Car (first years of empty-nest), two Nissan Maximas (later empty nest and retirement) and a Nissan Altima (later years of retirement).  You could almost use the technology available at each stage to chronicle the evolution of cultural norms within society … possible Masters thesis for someone.

On occasion, cars – what they were about, their history and their potential for each aspiring driver in our family – would be the center of discussion at evening meals. One vehicle Dad commented on with regard to its history was a car alluded in terms of character name in the Disney/Pixar movie, Cars.  Paul Newman provided voice-over for that car, now animated, Doc Hudson. Last summer I got to see a Hudson Terraplane, not one from the fifties or forties, but a Hudson Terraplane from the thirties, a pet project for an autobody repairman and tow-truck driver from Nanaimo.  These photographs are taken at the end of July, 2011.

Quote to Inspire – “The question is not what you look at but what you see!” – Henry David Thoreau

Listening to John Mayer sing Route 66 from the Cars Soundtrack; the same soundtrack has Rascal Flatts singing Life is a Highway.  After that it has been listening to Tom Cochrane and Red Rider in the Edmonton Symphony Sessions recorded at Edmonton’s Jubilee Auditorium – Avenue A, Bird on a Wire, Big League and Boy Inside the Man … all, good, good tunes.

First Light’s Drama Reflected Earthward

Thursday was a photographer’s morning. A warm change in weather brought colourful, early morning, sustained, sky drama of first light reflected earthward among clouds. Entering school, I set-up my camera, deposited my camera bag and moved out our east doors to click and capture the following images.

Today, being considered is a newer used vehicle. With one household vehicle being all-wheel drive, a fuel-efficient car might be smart (perhaps a VW Golf or Passat). Another consideration would involve spending a minimum of money on a vehicle that is 4×4 and wouldn’t be too much of a loss if it were to break down; here, I’ve owned three early 90s Nissan Pathfinders and they worked for me along the corduroy roads in and out of Wood Buffalo National Park through six years. And, in the back of my mind is the surety I encountered driving a Chevrolet, 2500 series, manual transmission with 4×4 in a snow storm travelling down Alberta Highway 63 from Fort McMurray to Edmonton early-on in the 90s. The overall sensible choice may be a 1999 Toyota 4 Runner with 309000 km that should run for a few more 100000km and can be purchased in a private sale in Peace River.  This vehicle should provide safe travel in and out of 4×4 throughout all seasons, no matter who was driving it.  It would hold the road well.

Listening to Canadian Melissa McClelland sing Victoria Day (April Showers and May Flowers) from her album of the same name.  Other songs standing out this morning have been Snow Patrol’s Lifeboats, Ray Lamontagne’s I Still Care for You and For the Summer.  Jack White has featured among the Raconteurs in Steady as She Goes.

Quote to Inspire – “Light glorifies everything. It transforms and ennobles the most commonplace and ordinary subjects. The object is nothing, light is everything.” — Leonard Missone

Anticipating Spring’s Arrival

Yesterday contained opportunity for a photowalk with photographers and a chance to witness the world with growing intensity of light and warmth late on a Thursday, winter afternoon in High Level, Alberta – all were giddy with being outside and anticipating spring’s arrival … still a month away.

Listening to several songs this evening. First, my daughter asked me to find and download four Glee tunes (Animal, Dog Days are Over, Bad and Smooth Criminal). Next, we loaded Adele’s 21 album/CD (a Christmas gift) onto our iTunes account; my daughter likes Set Fire to the Rain. Twice this week, I’ve returned home at day’s end to huge decibels of Adele preceding the dinner hour. Beyond this, we’ve downloaded Schubert’s Ave Maria, the music accompaniment to her current ballet performance, music for her to practice with. Of the songs that have played through, tonight, while editing photographs the ones that stand out are those from my father’s time If I didn’t Care, by the Inkspots, I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover, by Bix Beiderbecke.  I’ve been listening to the Get Low soundtrack which has eight songs involving Jerry Douglas and his dobro in a Bluegrass sound, one of the primary sound elements undergirding the music of Alison Krauss with Union Station.  And, then the iTunes music shifted to Foster the People and Pumped Up Kicks … a catchy tune that stood out for me at West Edmonton Mall’s ice rink as Edmonton youth waited to personally meet Selena Gomez back in October prior to her concert.

Quote to Inspire – Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera. — Yousuf Karsh. If you are a photographer in need of inspiration I would point you to a podcast called The Naked Photo offered by Rianne de Beer, a Canadian photographer on Canada’s west coast (between Vancouver and Salt Spring Island); in episode 5 he looks at Yousuf Karsh’s approach to creating a portrait of Winston Churchill, a photograph commissioned by the Canadian government. There is a ton of insight to be gleaned on forethought and the process to capture essence … of the subject.