A whale of a tale

The Compass - - ORTHTE -

“I have been blessed with a great love of mu­sic but not much of a voice,” says Lois Finn whose rug “Singing with the An­gels” ap­pears on page 71 ofA Whale of a Tale ... With Hooks, Lines and Singers.”[Flanker Press]

Me too. I don’t have much of a voice.

Lois, the tallest girl in the choir, con­fesses she was rel­e­gated to the back row of the school choir and told to “move your lips but don’t make a sound.” Me too — kinda. When I was a wee bay boy bawl­ing out lines from my favourite ra­dio tune — Doc Wi l liams’ “ My Old Brown Coat and Me”, p’raps — Granny some­times would say, “My love, can you go out on the ve­ran­dah and do that?”

So who am I to be scrib­bling about a book de­signed to pro­mote “ the op­por­tu­nity to com­bine mu­sic and art with the time-hon­oured tra­di­tion of rug hook­ing and sto­ry­telling”?

I may not have a note in my nog­gin but I can ap­pre­ci­ate the in­ten­tions and the ac­com­plish­ments of the women who hooked the rugs that are the sub­ject of this book, eh b’ys? Mar­ion Coun­sel ex­plains why she had to re-work some sec­tions of “ The City of Singing” [ page 2]: “I had no choice but to pull out some strings ... and moved the heads of the notes to the left.”

Ap­par­ently, she’d made an er­ror with the shape of the mu­sic notes pic­tured in her rug.

Way back in Ele­men­tary schoolI was obliged to draw tre­ble clefts and their chums on the pre-lined pages of mu­sic scrib­blers. The true shapes of those notes have not re­mained in my skull , so Mar­ion could have fooled me.

Yet, like all true artists, since Mar­ion wanted to get the de­tails right she re-worked, re­vised and, prob’ly, even when she’d pulled the last thread through the burlap, won­dered if there might be some fi­nal item she could add.

One of my favourite rugs is “Ode to New­found­land” [Page 10]. Stretch­ing hor­i­zon­tally across the cen­ter of the rug is “an ab­strac­tion that rep­re­sents voices and the ode it­self.”

In the ab­strac­tion sounds are de­picted as a wav­ing blend of colours.

While I was look­ing at the pic­ture and try­ing to de­cide what ex­actly I liked about it, a neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tion —yes, a neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tion —came to mind.

Synes­the­sia. I think I’ve spelled it cor­rectly. Yes, I checked. Peo­ple who have this con­di­tion — I al­most said“suf­fer from” but that might not nec­es­sar­ily be true — see colours when all the rest of us hear sounds.

So, view­ing “ Ode to New­found­land” is a sort of synes­the­sia. That make any sense? “ Dance the Song” [ page 61] caught my eye be­cause — and I didn’t re­ally know this un­til I read the line — it is “about how belly danc­ing ... has moved to this prov­ince.”

Belly danc­ing! What red-blood bay boy, or dot­ter­ing old codger, for that mat­ter, wouldn’t pause to ogle the brightly coloured dancer shak­ing her boo ... no, shak­ing her belly and twirling in a blur of red, yel­low and blue in dra­matic con­trast with the dark green and brown of her New­found­land stage?

My very favourite —Is that re­dun­dant? —is Teresa En­nis’ “ Lit­tle Girl in the Spot­light Stood” [ page 16].

For­give me, Teresa, if I’ve in­ter­preted the rug’s pic­ture all wrong, or cer­tainly not as orig­i­nally in­tended. Blame it on my an­cient pres­by­opic eyes. Here’s what I see. A lit­tle girl co­erced into singing in her school’s spring con­cert. For sure she’s ner­vous stand­ing in the spot­light in her pretty yel­low dress and her huge pink bunny ears. She seems to have her arms clamped an­grily across her belly. I know that ac­tu­ally it ’s the sash of her dress, but “arms” is how I first saw it.

Her blue eyes seem to be hauled down in a fu­ri­ous frown.

And b’ys, that lit­tle maid looks pissed. Gotta love ‘er! In ad­di­tion to the pic­tures of rugs,Whale of a Tale...“ in­cludes lessons and ad­vice to fol­low when rug hook­ing.

For in­stance: “It takes prac­tice to de­velop a com­fort­able hook­ing style.”

Sev­eral years ago Mis­sus de­cided to at­tempt rug hook­ing. She lugged all the para­pher­na­lia into her sewing room and com­menced to hook. She quickly be­came in­pa­tient with her fail­ure to de­velop “a com­fort­able hook­ing style.”

Lack­ing this book’s sen­si­ble ad­vice she soon re­sorted to vo­cif­er­ously voic­ing phrases that would make a rap­per blush.

Thank you for read­ing.

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