Last year Mom was still with us. Jake was with his Dad. Linda Harriman was still looking after my parents (she is now back in Alberta). I made a prime rib roast for my folks last year, but really Dad is the one who likes it most, so I made it again this year. This is my third roast and I am getting almost casually competent. My son said it was delicious. I do not take these compliments lightly. Dad is always appreciative, but tonight he was actually beaming. With more bad health news on the horizon for him, and increasing weakness, I am thrilled when anything lifts his spirits. The other thing that actually made him laugh out loud was a Banksy image of a chicken glaring at a fried egg in a black pan… somehow it just struck him right. I enjoy cooking for him though I have a pathological dread being cast in the role of constant cook… I am not domestic but I love food. And love seeing Dad eat.
Postcard perfect day outside… jewel-blue sky, luminous sun, sparkling snow, elegant trees both near and far. Did not leave the house, and finished 9 more freehand shaped and profiled blanks, bringing my total to 100 this year.
I am fixated on numbers when it comes to reeds. First of all, I like new reeds, and need a minimum of 10 per month to actually have newish reeds for each concert. This year, I fell behind and actually did a recital on an ancient reed, an experience that I never want to repeat, hence the current push to get the numbers up for the coming season.
I quickly googled to see if other people are doing the freehand approach. I am sure that I am not the only one, but if there are others, they are staying quiet for the time being. Or perhaps they use different terminology.
I have now been making reeds this way for 18 months, producing 173 reeds thus far. I these reeds have been heard on all my recitals, concerti, chamber music and orchestral playing (first, second and third bassoon). I have released one recording that I made two months after starting in this style (Vivaldi Volume I) and am about to release my second album (Canadian Concerto Project I).
This method takes very little equipment…. xacto knife, pencil, ruler, easel, sandpaper, file and nail file. It is cheap and all of the extra practise of looking and assessing can be easily applied to the mechanized processes of shaping and profiling. My good old Dad has made 4 new maple easels despite how hard it is for him to stand and see.
Each time I start one of these reeds from a piece of gouged and profiled cane, it feels like it is a conceptual impossibility. I suppose that is from years of training in the use of mechanized tools. And yet, 173 reeds have emerged from the mountains of sawdust on my various reed tables and have gone on to concert halls across the continent. Conceptually possible.
And thanks to Nic McGegan for sending this absolutely heavenly image.