Bonfire Life
September 7, 2018

Universe works in amazing way

I couldn't hope for a better Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. Not that it was life-changing spectacular or worthy of a galactic footnote.

It just went very well start to finish, beginning with a drive out to Edna Scott's place on Lake Nipissing's Callander Bay. One of the best in an area swimming with great artists, Scott was donating two framed pieces to the Look, Listen and Laugh (Because Dementia Sucks) silent online auction which begins today. (The goal is to launch at 7 p.m. but so many great contributions received this week may mean additions will be added throughout the weekend.)

What a treat it was to stand in her living room, the lake brewing after higher pressure drove out stormy weather, talking about everything from the state of journalism to politics to artistic techniques and the pain of losing loved ones. It certainly felt like I was in the presence of someone who has seen much and knows a great deal while always eager to learn more.

It didn't shock me at all when she told me her sister is Pat Madill Stamp, who donated a ceramic tea-pot work to the event with all proceeds going to increase hours of respite care service available through the North Bay Alzheimer Society. I had a worldly conversation with Madill Stamp as well while picking up her contribution. It's the best part of being involved in a fundraiser like this.

By the time I was pulling off Lighthouse Road it was 10 a.m. and the light was starting to show promise for the day. The break in the sky led me to take the long way home through Astorville and a cruise by Lake Nosbonsing before cutting north again to Corbeil. It was going to be a hectic afternoon and there was a couple hours of computer work before things got dicey, so I soaked up as much beautiful scenery as possible.

Aside from dealing with ticket requests for a sold-out show and documenting all the art donations, I took on some contract proof-reading work to fill in the dull moments. And at 2 p.m., I was hosting my first "media-savvy" communications session. Not sure how this idea came about it but I was taking donations for the Alzheimer Society cause and the first client was a business person looking to expand. After discussing her goals, reviewing her website (including grammatical proofing) and coming up with marketing tools, she wrote a $100 cheque to the society. She then gave more by offering to the auction a $100 coupon for tax return preparation or bookkeeping service. Call it the art of business with Murielle Roach, owner of Accurate Business Solutions, eager to help a good cause.

I held the mini-fundraiser at the at the corner of Gertrude and Lakeshore Drive in a building that used to house the Tweedsmuir Elementary School. It's a thriving business centre now with the NRCC using the hallways for an art gallery.

Several artists stopped by and dropped off their donations including Brent Trach, Denis Lalonde, Miranda Prior and Pauline Sutherland. It was also cool to accept two carved canes made by Bil Carr, one of my son's former teachers and basketball coach at Silver Birches Senior Elementary. Long-since retired, Carr made the canes from Tweedsmuir's old maple balance beam. 

It sure is a small world. Sutherland is from Fort Albany on the James Bay Coast. After hearing details about her artwork, I told her a woman who is helping me organize the fundraiser used to teach up that way. She gave me a Cree smile that said there have been a lot of teachers who have taught throughout the Mushkegowuk territory with dozens of communities. But she asked her name anyway and you should have seen her eyes light up when I said Mary Ann Johnson and that she was just outside at the barbecue in the courtyard. That was cool.

Before long the burgers and hot dogs were cooking with everybody enjoying the ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. It was my second "retirement" sweet-tooth event. I'm not sure where I got that idea either but I thought it was a cool way to end an afternoon in the classroom. I was going to invite event participants as well to have a bit of a pre-show huddle, a meet and greet of sorts. But I ran out of time and then chickened out. Another good idea poorly executed.

The conference room and barbecue time in the courtyard was donated by Christian Fortin, managing owner of the complex. Fortin, who is actually from Kapusasking, joined us for a snack and his eyes lit up while chatting with Sutherland, her husband Damian Macseain, and Johnson about an adventurous 1975 canoe trip down the Albany River he had. It sparked many other James Bay coast stories that were interesting to hear.

I finished off the night editing another document and then writing this little journal entry.

And that's what I call a great day.


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