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A Whale of a Tale

"I have been blessed with a great love of music but not much of a voice."

Whale of a Tale

That’s Lois Finn whose rug ‘Singing with the Angels’ appears on Page 71 of ‘A 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 - ‘My Old Brown Coat and Me’ by Doc Williams 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 story-telling"?

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 explained why she had to re-work some sections of ‘The City of Singing’ on 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 school - elementary school! - I 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 the ‘Ode to Newfoundland’, which appears on 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’ on 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 ‘Little Girl in the Spotlight Stood’ by Teresa Ennis on 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.

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Singing

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  • Bill Coultas
    September 23, 2011 - 09:36

    Harold, Enjoyed your column on the Whale book. I'm kinda pissed off that I haven't read your work to date ( I'm the inbred townie). Enjoy your style. Will search out your work a little bit more.