A MUSICAL WALL DISPLAY

A MUSICAL WALL DISPLAY

Bedroom Music WallA note to retired musicians: Here’s a way to display musical instruments that may have been played for years, are no longer in use but can still be enjoyed. We’ve included longtime bandsman Ian’s antique trumpet and a chanter used for those who want to practice the bagpipe but not make too much noise as well as a number of percussion instruments Gayle used when keeping time with a ukelele band, including a Celtic bodran and tipper, a hand drum, tambourine, a set of maracas, carved wooden spoons and a rainstick. Also included are photos of Ian posing with a trombone he played in a military and Salvation Army band, playing lead trumpet in a Royal Air Force band in the former Suez Canal Zone, of Gayle with her ukelele band and of us singing duets at a Robbie Burns’ party and as the duo “Okanagan’s Mr. Scotland and His Bonnie Lassie.” Displayed nearby are two trophies Ian won in years gone by for singing Scottish songs.

The crowning piece is the last trumpet Ian still owns. It has been about 12 years since he  gave up playing but Gayle has finally convinced him that he needs to polish up his trumpet, at least for our display. So here he is with a bottle of Brasso and some soft cloths starting on what is going to be a huge task. He found the trumpet years ago in some antique or thrift shop and found out it was made in Winnipeg probably in the early days of the last century. We could hardly see the manufacturer’s etching on the trumpet’s bell but after the initial polishing attempt can read “Premier Williams Winnipeg” and further on down the bell a large number “37”. We’ve heard a few squawks from it so far. Ian’s lip (embouchure) is sorely out of practice! However, we were both pleased that he had awakened an interest in the trumpet again. (Gayle is not going to hold her breath until the trumpet polishing is finished!)

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Ian documents his early years of music making in the Salvation Army and RAF in Scotland, other parts of the UK and in the British military sector of the Suez Canal Zone in Egypt in the early ’50s in his first memoir “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada.” Gayle is now editing the second memoir “Came to Canada Eh? Continuing a Scottish Immigrant’s Story” where further music making will be documented in Canada. A third memoir, written by both of us entitled “Mexican Follies” tells of the beginnings of our colloboration in music-making and in jointly producing books. Publication plans for that depend on how quickly Gayle gets to the editing. For her, there is never enough time and too many interruptions but little by little she hopes to get to publication again – some day!

Below is an excerpt from “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada” which tells a comical story about Ian’s attempt to “show off” with his trumpet to his new wife:

The following Saturday night, our dance band was playing at Forres Town Hall. I had been bragging to Mary about the introduction to the song, “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,” that I played on trumpet, standing up, before the rest of the band joined in. It consisted of the first three notes, then into a big glissando, using the third valve slowly, to go down and then up to the third note again and then continuing right into the melody when the rest of the band joined me. It was just a copy of what a big-time trumpet player (Maynard Ferguson) of that era did. Everyone thought it was very effective, sounding and looking quite professional. So, there I was saying, “Wait ‘till you hear me play!”

Saturday night came and my Mary was sitting at the side of the hall, close to the band, her eyes firmly fixed on “Lover-Boy.” Then it was time for me to shine. I stood up, the first two notes came out correctly, but I have no idea what happened to the bit where I was supposed to do the fancy stuff. I played absolutely terrible! The rest of the band started all right, but I had to sit down with a very red face—even redder than usual! In front of my Mary, too! You know, I must have played that “intro” at least 40 times previously without fail. (That’s what I get for trying to show off, eh?)

Ian playing solo cornet

Ian is playing a cornet in this photo, but about a year or two before his trumpet story above. A cropped version on an RAF photo, ca. 1952.

Bedroom-Ian and Gayle musicmaking photos

DECORATING OUR “FOREVERMORE HOME” WITH PICTURES AND MEMORABILIA

After two and a half months getting settled in what we have come to refer to as our “Forevermore Home” (or should that be “Forevermoore”? Nah, it leaves out the “Morrans” part of our name), Gayle is finally posting about what some of our friends and neighbours have started calling “the MM Gallery.” You see, we have made 10 moves in our almost 13 years of marriage and we’ve started saying the only way we will move again is if we are taken out in coffins or to a nursing home. At ages 73 and 84, and with Ian’s not-so-good health, we are planning to stay put “forevermore.” We moved last summer half way across Canada to a downtown senior’s high-rise apartment building in Winnipeg but to a too-small apartment as that was all that was available at the time. On June 1st this year we moved “up in the world” to the penthouse floor (17th) to a bit larger apartment with a fabulous view of the city and sky. After cleaning out a rental storage area and (again) downsizing some things that we have given away to family members and the Sally Ann Thrift Shop, we have finally found room for all those pictures and memorabilia that we’ve decided we just don’t want to part with. That leaves us living in the “MM Gallery.”

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The above-pictured plaque is a feature of our hallway wall and poetically expresses our sentiments about the type of decorating we have in our Forevermore Home.

One of Gayle’s hobbies is combing used book stores for unusual books that mirror her interests. Some years ago she came across a book entitled “Decorating With Pictures” (© 1991 by Stephanie Hoppen, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York).

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Hoppen’s text and pictorial examples couldn’t have matched any more perfectly Gayle’s natural inclinations to decorate with lots of colour and gusto. Reading the book and looking at the many and various examples of rooms full of a “wonderful kaleidoscope of colors and textures” were a true inspiration and vindication. Now, in our Forevermore Home nothing is going to be stored away for use “some day”; we are going to use things or get rid of them. Like Hoppen, we believe “pictures are the soul of a house.” Some people may remark that our home looks “busy” or “overwhelming”; but we have persisted in celebrating those items of artwork and memorabilia that we have collected over the years. We continually delight in relishing the displays on a daily basis. How great it was, then, to read Hoppen’s statement, “I love lots of pictures. I love mixing different media and different subject matter. I love framing some identically, some differently, and I love the effect that simply regrouping or reframing a collection of pictures can have on a room. A collection of pictures takes time to amass, time to evolve, and is ever-changing as new pictures come and old ones are reframed and rehung. It is a living, growing thing but don’t be frightened by it. Use it, tame it, tailor it to your own likes and needs.”

Here are some samples of the lavishly-laden walls, shelves and windows in our apartment:

Balcony Monkey, Parrot & SombreroBalcony Southeast CornerBalcony Window View 2Balcony window viewBalcony-Calla Lily & Sunflower artBalcony-Mexican Mask, Embroidery & WeavingBedroom Music WallBedroom North WallBedroom Southeast Corner into EnsuiteBedroom-Ian and Gayle musicmaking photosDen East WallDen-Bookshelf WallDen-north wallDining Room Watercolour Peonies and Ceramic ButterliesDining Room-Artwork - Oil, Lithograph, Silkscreen, etched candles, crystal stemware and decantersHalf-bathHallway looking southHallway to Den - Macrame HangingHallway-Family baptismal photosHallway-Family photosHallway-German and Alsatian picturesHallway-Ian's book promotionsHallway-Scandanavian and Scottish greeting shelfHallway-Scottish GalleryHallway-Scottish Swords and Shields plus Horses' BrassesHallway-Wedding and Ethnic PicturesKitchen-Egg Coddlers, Swedish shelf, Austrian and Scottish pot holders, cow bellKitchen-Rosemaled Canisters and Dalarna Hest, Swedish ClothKitchen-Slovakian, Norwegian and German Plaques, Swedish Dalarna Hesten, German and Norwegian doll pot holdersLiving Room Northwest CornerLiving Room West WallLiving Room Window View and Stained GlassLiving:Dining Room Northeast Corner

The particular tastes in memorabilia that we have chosen to celebrate are as follows:

For Ian: Anything Scottish, such as swords, shields, bagpipes, kilts, tartans, crystal bells and whisky decanters; items associated with his avocation of music-making; memorabilia from his profession as a machinist, such as metalwork, coins and vintage model automobiles; reminders of his early apprenticeship as a blacksmith, such as figures of horses, horses’ brasses and smithing; animal pictures and figures.

For Gayle: Folkart of many countries, particularly the Scandinavian and North Dakota traditions to which she was exposed from childhood and the German and other European traditions she encountered in her early adult years; percussion instruments; flower displays, vases and unique flower pots; embroidered, macraméd, rosemaled and appliqued items; crystal and porcelain; handmade pottery; original oil, watercolour or acrylic paintings; lithographs and copies of medieval manuscripts; religious artwork; German wood carvings.

Jointly: Family photographs including baby and childhood photos; group photos; graduation and wedding pictures. Items from our over-two years’ living in Mexico and from our shared interest in depictions of birds from stained glass to paintings to needlework to figurines.

Perhaps these will be subjects for in-depth postings in the future.

We’ll close with the house blessing made for Gayle years ago by Pam, a dear friend.

Hallway-House Blessing Plaque

 

Touring the Royal Canadian Mint

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According to its website at mint.ca, the Royal Canadian Mint decribes its Winnipeg location as “… our high-tech, high-volume manufacturing facility. Every single Canadian circulation coin is produced here – literally billions each year. Established in 1976, the Winnipeg plant occupies a 14,864 m2 state-of-the-art facility.” Ian has a special connection to Winnipeg’s Mint since he worked in that architectularly-beautiful and important building for three years shortly after it opened.

Gayle’s editing of our next book, Ian’s second memoir entitled Came To Canada, Eh? Continuing A Scottish Immigrant’s Storyis finally back in full swing after about a three-month hiatus to pack up and move into a larger apartment in our seniors’ lifelease building in Winnipeg. Finding appropriate photos to include with a story about one of the unique jobs Ian held has proved an impossibility until today. Camera in hand,  we made a trip to Winnipeg’s Royal Canadian Mint where Ian had worked from 1977 until 1979.

Though having lived in Winnipeg twice for a total of about 22 years and often having seen the beautiful Royal Canadian Mint building from the highway, Gayle had never toured the facility. Ian hadn’t been back to the building for 37 years. What a fun tour we had yesterday!

Included below is a portion of our book’s fifth chapter which Ian calls, “Heading A Wee Bit Back East-Winnipeg, Here We Come.”

“As I wasn’t too satisfied in the job I first had in Winnipeg, I applied for and got a job in the new “money factory” that had opened in Winnipeg in 1976. I should maybe explain that the “money factory” was the Royal Canadian Mint (certainly the most impressive-looking building I’ve ever worked in). The Mint building is a large, shining triangle rising up out of the surrounding prairie with a small picturesque lake at its side populated by a flock of Canada geese and an occasional pelican or two. Whenever anyone asked me what I worked at, I would say that I made money. Actually, I worked in the die production department,  using a lathe and a milling machine to make some of the dies that were eventually used to stamp images on the coins.

(If you happen to have any 1977-1979 Canadian coins in your pocket, there’s a possibility that they were stamped with dies that I made. Incidentally, the Royal Canadian Mint also produces coins for about 75 other countries as well.)

“The public was regularly invited to take tours of the mint so they could see the process by which Canadian coins were produced. You might say that I became a bit of a ‘tourist attraction’ during those tours. No one ever commended me for making the tours a bit more colourful, but I believe I did. You see, I love to whistle and have found that whistling makes the work go faster and also makes it more interesting. So there’s me, merrily whistling along (probably a Scottish folk tune) when I overheard a commotion on the catwalk above our work station. A small crowd of tourists had stopped and were pointing down at me while commenting on the ‘happy work atmosphere.’ Well, I couldn’t ignore them, so I gave them a wee wave and a bow. From then on whenever a tour came by, I would wave at the group and give them a nice whistled tune. They could have called me the Mint’s version of one of the seven dwarfs of Snow White fame (probably “Happy”) performing “Whistle While You Work.”

“[While this book was going through its final edit in 2016, my wife/editor thought we needed to add a few photos of the mint as I didn’t have any in my photo collection. We decided to take a tour of the mint, to educate her on the minting process and help me reminisce a bit, all the while taking a few photos. This time I was an 84-year-old tour participant, listening to a guide, peering from the catwalk and straining to see the process from my wheelchair. I didn’t hear any whistling or see any workers waving; but considering that the catwalk over the working floors has been  glassed in, I’m not sure we could have heard someone whistling anyway. The tour is still interesting, though; at least for anyone curious about the minting process. We were fascinated to learn of the two-metal process that was developed for the “toonie” ($2 dollar coin) that is made of a steel ring around a brass disc. Both the “loonie” ($1 coin picturing the North American bird, the loon) and the “toonie” were introduced long after I had left the mint job.]”

Copyright © 2016, Ian Moore-Morrans

Below you can check out some of the photos Gayle took yesterday of the “Parade of Nation’s Flags”along the entrance to the Mint representing some of the 75 nations for whom the Mint produces coins; a front view of the Mint location; a view of the machine shop where Ian used to produce dies for coins; and two photos of Ian sitting on his wheelchair in the lobby where he enjoyed posing with a unique “Mountie” and an antique minting machine, as well a mint.ca website photo of some beautiful Canadian coins made right at the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg.

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