Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

To make Comments write directly to Jim at jimt@quixotic.ca

 

29

Jul

2021

Going ‘round in circles

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday July 29, 2021

 

Long long ago, I had a Baby Brownie camera. It had no settings at all – just point and click. But it let me take grainy black and white pictures. 

            As time went on, I graduated to a 35mm camera that would do almost everything for me except choose my subject. It would set the aperture. Choose the shutter speed. Auto-focus on whatever I had on the screen. 

             Except that one of its dials sets “picture mode,” in which the camera automatically amends its settings to suit special circumstances -- portraits, landscapes, close-ups, etc. 

            Not long ago, I took a series of photos of our Rotary club picking up litter along a popular walking route. Somehow, I bumped that dial from “Auto” to “Art.” 

            I got grainy black and white photos that I might have taken with my old Baby Brownie.


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: aging, letting go

22

Jul

2021

Learning to live with smoke

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday July 22, 2021

 

Smoke cloaks the Okanagan Valley, as it does much of North America. With wildfires burning all over B.C. and through the western states., smoke can’t help drifting through this valley.

            It hangs like frosted glass between me and the far shore of the lake. 

            To the north and south, water sky and hills merge into an opaque curtain. 

            There are no horizons. 

            Smoke is becoming a new normal. As extreme weather patterns come tumbling one after another, we can expect more heat domes. More droughts. More smoke.


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20

Jul

2021

Things that happen in threes

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday July 15, 2021

 

Bad things happen in threes, my Irish relatives used to tell me. 

            Some sources will tell you that the “rule of threes” derives from trench warfare in World War I. Two soldiers could safely light their cigarettes off a single match. But if you kept the match alight long enough for a third soldier to light up, enemy snipers had time to aim. One dead soldier.

            But the rule of threes surely goes back far before that. 

            Threes are endemic in Christianity. The Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In baptisms, people are dipped or sprinkled three times. Everyone knows that there were three Wise Men – although the Bible itself never cites that number. Resurrection came on the morning of the third day. Peter denied Jesus three times; Jesus countered by asking Peter three time, “Do you love me?” Jesus rejected three temptations in the wilderness…



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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Threes

20

Jul

2021

Watering Walter’s memorial tree

Author: Jim Taylor

            Earlier this spring, a friend and I were coming down a steep trail on a local mountain. As we came around a huge boulder, we suddenly realized there was a woman on the far side of it. Sitting with her back against the boulder. Sobbing. 

            To one side of her there was a small green tree. A pretty little tree, but not what I would consider a native pine, spruce, or aspen. It looked more like the decorative evergreens that florists use for contrast in a pot of blossoms.

            A small white sash hung around the tree: “This tree planted for our son Walter.”



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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: grief, tree, Walter, memorial

3

Jul

2021

The dog who didn’t get run over

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday July 1, 2021

 

I took my dog Pippin to an off-leash dog park on the outskirts of Kelowna a week ago. 

            Pippin loves dog parks. She pranced off to meet with a group of other dogs, and their owners, gathered in the shade of some trees.

            Suddenly a black and white and tan streak emerged out of the cluster, heading for the gates, as if it was trying to outrun a load of buckshot. 

            I expected the double gates at the park entry would stop her. They didn’t. She slid under the first one on her side. Then under the second. And out onto the highway. Running north, as if she were demented. Running, running, running. 

            I started running myself. 


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: dogs

25

Jun

2021

It just wells up inside

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday June 24, 2021

 

Sofie Hartwick is an anomaly – a gifted pianist who doesn’t read music, doesn’t know what she’s going to play before she starts, and never repeats herself. 

            And plays beautiful music just the same. 

            Sofie – I’m using her first name because I think of her as part of my church family – is somewhere on the autism spectrum. Where, doesn’t matter. Typically, she plays a totally spontaneous piece for about three minutes at the conclusion of our church’s sermon/reflection/homily. 

            Something in the minister’s words sets up a musical thought pattern for her. Perhaps it defines the tempo she’ll play at, or the key she’ll play in. And then she starts playing. 

            And the rest of us listen in awe. 

 

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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: piano, Sofie, CD

25

Jun

2021

What’s a father anyway?

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday June 17, 2021

 

It’s Father’s Day this weekend. 

            My daughter, a single parent, is trying to be both a mother and a father to her children. She asked me, the other day, “What does it mean to be a father?”

            There are only two things I can say for sure. 

            One is that being a father is not limited to being male. 

            The second is that supplying sperm does not make one a father. Indeed, any male who later claims that merely having provided an aggressive sperm gives him a right to control a child’s life should be run out of town on a rail.

            I learned about being a father from – who else – my own father. 


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13

Jun

2021

The Covid Quarantine Blues

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday June 10,2021

 

Only 14 days to go. This shouldn’t be difficult. I don’t expect quarantine will be much different from daily life in these Covid-restricted times.

            I live alone. Covid rules won’t let me invite people in for dinner or coffee. The only germs I have to deal with are my own. So keeping the house spotless doesn’t need to be a high priority.

            I have a freezer full of frozen food. I’ve got more books than I can possibly read. The cable is working, and Google awaits.

            This could be almost like a mini-vacation.

            I can see the routines shaping up.


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13

Jun

2021

The purpose of symbolic acts

Author: Jim Taylor

I have worn mismatched socks for most of 2021. Deliberately.

            The idea came from a reader in England, a retired Methodist minister named Ken Nicholls who admits to “being a little eccentric at times.”

            I decided some time ago to make a statement with my socks. I NEVER  wear what is usually considered a pair. Socks are bought often from large stores selling them in packs of seven pairs. Often, seven different colours. 

            “So I may wear one green sock and one yellow. Or one blue, one purple. People I meet tell me that I have odd socks on. My reply is that they are wrong. This IS a pair. The socks have the same size, the same material, the same shape, the same manufacturer, and the same thermal value. 

            “They only differ in colour. And colour is irrelevant to the way they are loved and valued. Why are you judging them by colour?”

            I liked his idea enough to try it. But as a symbolic act, my mismatched socks were an utter failure.


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Prejudice, socks

31

May

2021

When the crows went dancing

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday May 20, 2021

 

When the west wind blows across the lake, it has to rise when it hits the cliffs along the eastern shore.

            The other day, I watched a cabal of crows dancing in that upwards rush of air. 

            Traditionally, a collection of crows is called a “murder”. I don’t like that term. I suspect it was coined by someone who disliked crows, who shot them whenever he could. 

            “Cabal,” to my mind, better fits crows’ mischievous nature. It’s also alliterative. 

            This particular cabal put on quite a performance. 

           I found myself envying their mastery of the invisible element they lived in. 


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Crows, dancing

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