Wednesday, February 3, 2010

sussex and major

on a recent trip to toronto
i was able to visit a home
that i spent the daytime portion
of a summer
helping to renovate.

it was 1974.

inside the home
lived a couple
who became iconic
in my own mythology
as paragons of the sort
of people
and the quality of relationship
i hoped one day
to experience myself.

this visit
marked twenty years
or more
since i had last seen them.

grandparents now.

the essence of their
and combined selves
still as bright
and colourful
as the stained glass
in the window
of their book-jammed living room.

i told them of the memories
i could conjure up
from that magic summer.

my favourite
memory comes from
one day at lunch
when i put on a record
- elvin jones "genesis" -
a gorgeous album of blues-inflected jazz.

i played it loud enough
that a little group
of beautiful people
stopped out on the street
to dance to it.

that little experience
spoke to me
of so much
of what i wished
- and still wish -
for this world.


Jenny Stevning said...

Wow! Amazing home. Wonderful photos and memories.
"i played it loud enough
that a little group
of beautiful people
stopped out on the street
to dance to it."
Yes! This is good!

Lorenzo Lapis Lazuli said...

Love the image of the people dancing on the street to Elvin Jones' music heard through the open window and how you relate it to your wishes for this world.

I personally relate it to what your daily blog postings do for your readers ... your blog is the open window and the music is a high point of the day.

As a big jazz fan, I have always loved Elvin Jones. Not long before his death I had the opportunity to see him at the Blue Note in NYC on one of my visits home. He had Ravi Coltrane in the quartet and the music was great. I got to chat a bit with Elvin between sets and got the sense that the man was as beautiful as all the music he made and participated in.

A quote from Elvin:
"I can see forms and shapes in my mind when I solo, just as a painter can see forms and shapes when he starts a painting. And I can see different colors. My cymbals will be one color and my snare another color and my tomtoms each a different color. I mix these colors up, making constant movement. Drums suggest movement, a conscious, constant shifting of sounds and levels of sound. My drumming can shade from a whisper to a thunder."
From Whitney Balliett's American Musicians

Friko said...

The house is a poem in itself, I bet it remembered you!

Seven, sorry for having been away for a few days, I've been busy doing a team blog, Fridge Soup, Have a look at it and see what you think. You'd be welcome to join.

Elisabeth said...

This is such a beautiful house Steven, and to think you had a hand in restoring it, and now it moves on into the next generation with these grandparents.

Your photos are so clear and evocative and the story that accompanies them joyous.

That's your main aim, isn't it Steven? To pass around joy?

As far as I'm concerned you succeed hands down.

Pauline said...

and as long as you keep doing your part to make the world a glorious place, we'll get there eventually :)

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Beautiful home, memories and wishes for the world.

Moira said...

Oh Steven, what a beautiful house! Great pictures!They must have been thrilled to see you and so pleased that your memories were lovely ones! Well done you!

Barry said...

Such great memories and what a wonderful home. Obviously you did a fine job.

There are some beautiful old houses in Toronto.

Thanks for sharing Steven.

Golden West said...

I love Queen Anne Victorian houses - turrets and towers and gingerbread galore. I bet it has a beautiful wooden staircase with a beefy handrail worn smooth as silk over years of hands passing over it in comings and goings...

I bet the people were so happy to see you again, Steven!

Dave King said...

That's a wonderful account of the genesis of a private myth. What could be more wonderful.

Butternut Squash said...

There are people and places in time that seem to point the way. If we could just learn to create an eternity out of those moments. Peace.

Reya Mellicker said...

The house is so beautiful, almost as beautiful as your memory, Steven. I have absolutely no doubt that by putting your hands and sweat into the renovation of the house, you helped to bless these people.

Elvin Jones no doubt helped, too. Bravo!

Dervish said...

that is a beautiful home, and a beautiful story. little moments like that enrich life beyond our daily experience.

ellen abbott said...

What a great house. It must have been so fulfilling to help renovate it. but then I like to do things like that.

hope said...

What an enchanting wonder you have such wonderful memories of the people who loved there.

Nice to know they still do. And the people dancing outside brought a smile to my face. The world should stop and break into spontaneous joy more often. Thanks for that!

Titus said...

In full agreement with all of the above! What a magical-looking house - somewhere a good wizard would live.
Lovely words about the couple who own it, and I jump at any opportunity to dance in the street.

Goldenrod said...

Ho boy, Steven! That first picture reminded me SO much of the Bishop's Palace in Galveston. Memories, memories!

steven said...

hi jenny - it is an amazing home. maybe not as "restored" as its owners would like, but it really is eye-catching and lovely in its own right. steven

steven said...

lorenzo thankyou for the very flattering and thoughtful compliment. especiall thankyou for the wickedgood stuff about elvin jones. his music was a turning point for me - i'm not a drummer - but i knew he had to see his music - really see it the way you tell his story!!! i have a heap of his work at home and it coften serves as the soundtrack for the creation of my postings here. sweet gifts lorenize - thanks!!! steven

steven said...

friko - you crazy woman! i know you're busy. i'm following your work and trying to decide what part i might play in it. fridge soup is such a clever iteration on the bloggy world!!! the house . . . i remembered it but like a woman's body after giving birth, it felt and looked different. still good to my eyes though!!! steven

steven said...

elisabeth - to pass around joy. yes. that's all this is about. it's pretty simple really. the house carries something about it that is hard to put into words. memories and a summer with the last colouring of hippiedom. steven

steven said...

pauline - it's a collective effort that's for sure. we all work to provide our own little bit of love and joy. steven

steven said...

thankyou very much bonnie! steven

steven said...

moira thankyou for your thoughtful comment. i was excited to see them - quietly excited. it's amazing to revisit people from your life long ago. what's changed? in you? in them ? steven

steven said...

barrie you're so right! their are some amazing lovely old homes in toronto. of all sorts and descriptions. steven

steven said...

golden west - it has some of the features of its heritage restored that's for sure. there's lots of wear - that's also for sure!!! i love this era of home. i wouldn't want to decorate and furnish it to be accurate for its heritage though. i sort of like that period but not a whole lot. but the exteriors rock!! steven

steven said...

dave - it's neat that - the ability to see the genesis of something that lasted through the first half of my life . . . steven

steven said...

butternut - what a sweet insight!!! steven

steven said...

reya - elvin helped a lot. i was so unformed, unaware, just pure teen boy with a bit of intuition, a strong sense of where i needed to go but absolutely no idea how hard that path would be until i confronted it in the light of the bigger world and found it's not tenable. well not unless you have scads of courage which i don't. have a lovely evening in dc. steven

steven said...

hey dervish - it was a special place for me. special people lived in it. it definitely influenced who i was for some time. dad

steven said...

hi ellen - the renovation is still underway. it's been a never ending task!!!! like marriage. steven

steven said...

hello hope - spontaneity is such a touchy thing for people. they like to hold their perceptions of their perceptions of themselves so close. letting go is frightening for them and the viewers. it'd be nice to leave all that behind though, i agree. steven

steven said...

titus - a good wizard could live here!!! very much so. it's in a cool area. lots of great energy and people in their own worlds - colliding on the streets. steven

steven said...

hi goldenrod! nice to see you here! it's a house of a time. i expect that there are houses something like it in most major north american cities. each with memories busting out of every crack in the wall!!!! steven

Eryl Shields said...

I just love that wall! Great story too.

steven said...

hello eryl - isn't it so good - the wall i mean!!! steven

jinksy said...

I love the way the paintwork colours mimic those beautiful bricks...

Coastcard said...

What an amazing building - and to feel that you are somehow a part of it...

Enjoy the snow, Steven. Drizzly rain and mist here!

Kathleen said...

You are such a dear. I'll bet that couple loved visiting with you. I know I would!

nollyposh said...

Oh Sigghhhhh... me tOO

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