zyzyly: (prairie)

There was a two-day period where I simply went in the direction that the people I met told me to go. I was driving along a farm road in southeastern Alberta on the way to Saskatchewan, and came across the town of Cereal. Most of the businesses along the main street were boarded up, and the place looked deserted, except for a boy of about 10, riding around in circles on his bicycle. I was standing on the street with my camera and he rode over and told me his name was Joel Toth. He asked what I was taking pictures of, and then told me about the museum.

About the only thing that was still open in the town was a one-room museum in the old train station on the edge of town. By chance, it was Joel's sister Jaycea who ran the museum. He suggested I go see it, so I did.

Jaycea is 19 years old. She opens the museum for a few hours every day, and gives tours whenever someone like me wanders by. She goes to college.

The museum, though small, was fascinating. It offered a glimpse of rural life that is fast disappearing in Canada (and long-gone in the US). Jaycea gave a great tour, and was surprisingly knowledgeable about how the world she lived in was changing. I came away from the tour with an appreciation for the Canadian prairie that I had not expected.

Before I left, I asked Jaycea where she thought I should go next. It turned out that one of her friends had a grain elevator museum in another small town about 40 km away. She called her friend and told her I was coming.
zyzyly: (Photog3)

Arlina and I spent a few days in Portland Oregon on our first trip together back in 1990. One day our friends took us to the Saturday Market, a giant flea market at the edge of downtown. We came across a pianist tucked away in a corner, playing a beat-up old piano. His name was Paul Immanuel Owens. We liked his music and bought a cassette, which we listened to almost all the way down the coast.

When I was back in Portland at the beginning of my trip this summer, I headed back to the Saturday Market on my way out of town. Paul Owens was still there, tucked away in a corner, playing a beat-up old piano. There was something about him still being there, still playing after all these years, that moved me in a way I can't articulate.

"I'm back," I said.

I bought a CD of his music and listened to it as I crossed the prairie.

edit: i found this article about him after I posted this. The article was published yesterday!

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