As Found In My Home Away from Home – Grace

1956 Pontiac Star Chief
1956 Pontiac Star Chief

After a long and somewhat unproductive day, I make my way to one of Grande Prairie’s music shops – Long & McQuade (formerly G.P. Music). The workflow of salespeople helping customers is somewhat disjointed as experienced staff help junior staff learn the ropes; it’s Christmas season. The salesman helping me buy guitar picks and guitar strings hesitates as he hunts and pecks, finding his way around the cash register keyboard. His novice’s uncertainty and the larger than expected receipt total become a red flags; I check my receipt. I ask one of the veteran salespeople to check the receipt for accuracy. The receipt checks-out and prompts the rejoinder meant with goodwill “Have we ever treated you wrong?” He’s smiling as he says this – everything’s okay. And, in truth, this Grande Prairie guitar shop has been one of those homes away from home, a place in which I could work through a song’s chording on any of a variety of new and used guitars – the people in this guitar shop have always indulged me with gear and in answering my questions. This store has always been a place to connect with other guitar players, a place to hear a tune or two or perhaps a small concert; it’s been a place to help others talk through their guitar purchases.  It’s been a place to draw out music from friends and to enjoy the living feast of their guitar fretwork. I’ve purchased five guitars and countless sets of strings from them through the years.My week has been long, one pushing me from my comfort zone and one shaping awareness of the grace I extend into any situation.

I have made it down to Grande Prairie and back again. In these travels I did slow down somewhat and gather perspective rather than racing through a ‘did-I-do-it-list’ and returning to the road as soon as they were completed. I have been passenger rather than driver on this trip from High Level to Grande Prairie and I’ve been delivered safely at each destination despite ice and snow. I have made it to my doctor’s appointment like ten or twelve others and found bureaucratic conundrum, one hand not letting the other know about the doctor’s absence so that the doctor’s patients would not travel as far as we’ve come, unnecessarily. I was able to see another doctor to follow-up on another lingering appointment for a different issue; squeezing me in, hospital staff were able to make this appointment work for me. Good! Without my own vehicle, I became a New Yorker in Grande Prairie using cabs to go here and there, here again and there again, and again – each cab ride an opportunity to chat with a driver and to learn something of the drivers’ lives and homes.  I learned about extraordinary medical practices in Ethiopia. There’s been the good night’s sleep of the second night in Grande Prairie. And, there’s been camaradie and chat with fellow travellers found in the return to High Level, last evening.

1956 Pontiac Star Chief – The car my father taught me to drive in was a metallic green, 1969 Pontiac Parisienne, two-door. It had its share of chrome, lines and horsepower. And, were I to find another one my brothers and I would likely share the costs of restoring it to its former state.  The Star Chief presented here is one that has been brought into Canada’s north from the United States by way of Kelowna, British Columbia.  Its owner had owned one as his first car, just out of high school, in the sixties.

Listening to – U2’s No Line on the Horizon and City of Blinding Lights;  Concrete Blonde’s Wendy; and, Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians What I Am.

Quote to Inspire – “I find it particularly exciting when a picture evokes anything near that word, ‘mystery’.” – Jeff Mermelstein

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