The Stuff of Life: Musical Moments

I have every intention of writing a post here, but, no guarantees. (Three days after writing this introduction, I return to the keyboard.) It’s another ‘hot one’ outside. (As I sit to put the punctuation on this blog post, an entire month and more has gone by.  It is raining outside, with a night time temperature of 13 degrees. I invite my readers to just sit back and enjoy the ride!)  We’ve had a long string of beautiful days and after such a rough winter, is it any wonder that writers step away from their keyboards and artists abandon their studios?  It’s time to make discoveries and later, pull back into the world of studios when  the snow flies and the world is once more, asleep.

I thought I might report on the folk festival daily, but that also failed after Thursday’s reviews, so here I will attempt a sketchy recollection of summer moments and the recent ‘stuff’ of life.

Dad arrived safe and sound, completing another Trans-Canada drive from Ontario and this has been a joy for me; to be able to cook together, eat beautiful foods together and to kiss one another good night before heading for bed.  Our conversations can be interesting and charged with new awareness and revelation OR frustrating and awkward.  We’ve never seen eye-to-eye on several topics and everyone knows it, but I respect no one more than I respect my Dad, for his knowledge, his generosity and his huge conviction. My Dad and I are both religious people and we treasure those discussions.  He knows his scripture and when I share my thoughts about nature, the land and my feelings (both positive and negative), he comes from the same framework and so he inspires me.  Dad loves me and it’s so nice to be on the same red sofa, in the same rooms…the same house…with THAT love.  We are sharing beautiful times.  I love my Dad.

July 27th marked Mom’s second birthday without us, and us without her.  I happened to be down at the folk festival.  Dad was visiting our relations in southern Alberta.  Daughter, Cayley and I melted into the day.  I told her that I didn’t want to be rushing and so I had my first coffee on my back yard deck while watching the birds at the feeder and doing a bit of gardening.  My Mom would have enjoyed all of that.

Sharing a tarp with my children, first we enjoyed Sam Carter.

P1180234

I think that one of the most blessed moments of that day was when Matt Patershuk  was emcee at a workshop and decided to end the set with a participatory event that involved the improvisation of You Are My Sunshine, a tune that my mother led our family in singing on so many wonderful road trips.  Mom so enjoyed road trips AND sing songs.  This was a true gift.  There were several really magical moments shared during Folk Festival.

The first concert that I ever attended came after I left Great Falls, Montana and attended University in Lethbridge, Alberta.  The Yates Theater hosted an intimate concert featuring an up-and-comer, Bruce Cockburn.  A young, gangly man, he walked out to center stage, carrying his own wooden stool and an acoustic guitar.  Above him, was hung a mirror ball that came to life during his tune, All the Diamonds in the World.  It was such an amazing concert.  I routinely listened to his early albums on Mark Mehrer’s turn table in my residence.

Yates LethbridgeI enjoyed Bruce Cockburn at both a workshop and an evening concert.  Both experiences were moving as I felt so plugged into the music.

P1180216Nigerian, Seun Kuti, truly rocked the Main Stage on Saturday night.  Cayley and I moved right up to the front row for this…energy…drums…rhythm…voices that were strong and full of conviction.  This was mesmerizing!  Walking to the C Train that night, we felt pulled into the crowd…music connecting all.

Amazing dancers/back up singers!

Amazing dancers/back up singers!

As I continue to jot these musical moments, I am realizing that in no way am I capturing my delight and engagement in these acts.  In fact, I feel that there is no way that I can even list all of the musicians that I discovered this year at folk festival.  I’ll attempt some highlights, beginning with Leonard Sumner of Little Saskatchewan First Nation, Manitoba.  He has evolved to a style that combines a folk/country rhythm with a rap lyric.  I was touched by this young man’s connection to a unique narrative and was impressed by his song writing, a tool to reach others and to encourage healing.  For similar reasons, I enjoyed Nick Sherman of Sioux Lookout, Ontario.

New to me, as well, was The Provincial Archive of our own Edmonton, Alberta.  I enjoyed them at an early workshop on the final day as well as their own stage in the heat of the afternoon.  Nice thing was, they led us in a final tune, a Pete Seeger tribute.  We all joined in singing If I Had a Hammer, a tune that wound up the final performances of every stage all over the grounds that afternoon. Very cool for lots of reasons.

I waited, excited, to hear Matt Andersen on the Main Stage on Sunday Night.  I have enjoyed his music for years.  His guitar playing was fantasmic and his last tune of the night blew us all out of the water…a great ending to a highly successful 2014 Folk Festival.  I guess I’d have to say that I prefer to see Matt take a stage on his own…no back-up, but the Mellotones showed up and really owned the stage along side ‘the man’.

Music…a huge net that captures the stuff of our lives!  Universal. Powerful. Magic.

The Waltz We Were Born For
Walt McDonald, 1934

I never knew them all, just hummed
and thrummed my fingers with the radio,
driving five hundred miles to Austin.
Her arms held all the songs I needed.
Our boots kept time with fiddles
and the charming sobs of blondes,

the whine of steel guitars
sliding us down in deer-hide chairs
when jukebox music was over.
Sad music’s on my mind tonight
in a jet high over Dallas, earphones
on channel five. A lonely singer,

dead, comes back to beg me,
swearing in my ears she’s mine,
rhymes set to music that make
her lies seem true. She’s gone
and others like her, leaving their songs
to haunt us. Letting down through clouds

I know who I’ll find waiting at the gate,
the same woman faithful to my arms
as she was those nights in Austin
when the world seemed like a jukebox,
our boots able to dance forever,
our pockets full of coins.

Erin’s Card

I learned that I was pregnant with Erin and Lorraine took my photograph. This was before the day of ultrasound photographs! Trust me…my small seahorse is floating in a primal tide!

Recently my daughter and her husband went to London on vacation.  This meant that she was away for Mother’s Day.

 

It was only yesterday that I discovered her card, tucked away in a drawer in the sideboard.  These are the wee surprises in life that make it so magical.  If our lives are marked by such surprises, then we are truly blessed.

There have been many struggles, as much as celebrations in our lives.  But still, there were the hours of reading Dr. Seuss books and rolling play dough together. 

There were costumes to find and create.  There were cookies to bake.  There was dancing in the living room.  When I found this card, I remembered.

Lectio Divina: Revelations 21

Then he said to me, ‘It has already happened. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water from the well of life free to anybody who is thirsty. Anyone who proves victorious will inherit these things; and I will be his God and he will be my son.’  Thinking of Patrick today.

Lyrics/Music by Bruce Cockburn:

Stand on a bridge before the cavern of night
Darkness alive with possibility
Nose to this wind full of twinkling lights
Trying to catch the scent of what’s coming to be (in this…)

World of wonders…

Somewhere a saxophone slides through changes
Like a wet pipe dripping down my neck
Gives me a chill — sounds like danger
But I can’t stop moving till I cross this sector (of this…)

World of wonders…

There’s a rainbow shining in a bead of spittle
Falling diamonds in rattling rain
Light flexed on moving muscle
I stand here dazzled with my heart in flames (at this…)

World of wonders…

Moment of peace like brief arctic bloom
Red/gold ripple of the sun going down
Line of black hills makes my bed
Sky full of love pulled over my head

World of wonders…

Water…Light…Spirit…Embrace

Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you. Marsha Norman

Changing the Landscape: A Bag At a Time

March 8: 2012 11:00 a.m. Weather: Sunny and 11 degrees.   The snow is quickly melting, exposing new litter.  Max had a fun time today charging through the ponds.  Ian took our archival photograph today.  Ian and a fellow-worker were building the trophy cabinets in the new sports center extension.  The other fellow asked if I would go over to Sundance when I was finished here…told me it was a big mess in their community.  I told them that this was the land that I had staked out and that that was it.  He asked me what my name was and I refused it…saying he wanted to nominate me for a stewardship award.  I smiled and declined the idea.  I told him that it’s no big deal to pick up One Bag At a Time.  He thanked me.  This made my day!  This was my second thank-you on this journey!

Ian’s Photo

My Parents Come to Mind

Tribute 72 x 48 Oil on Canvas

The thing about converting old photographs and slides to digital is that the images bring up so many stories of places and people who have shared life with me.   I’ve not been blogging so much recently just because the act of archiving is such a time-consuming activity on its own.  It is a joy to come across particular images that remind me of the beauty of my life.  For example, I came upon some flower paintings and I thought of Mom and Dad.  The notation on the exhibit titled Tributes: A Show of Garden Paintings, reads…

“This exhibit is a tribute to the loving hands of my parents…to their dreamscapes…to their palette of exquisite colour.  I have no other way to acknowledge this thing that they did right, but to try to paint it.  These works are sentimental for no other reason than that it is with great sentiment that I experience the memories.  The recollections of flower and vegetable beds across two nations are on the surface.”

 

One Day I Walk

(Bruce Cockburn)
I have been a beggar
And shall be one again
And few the ones with help to lend
Within the world of men
One day I walk in flowers
One day I walk on stones
Today I walk in hours
One day I shall be home
I've sat on the street corner
And watched the boot-heals shine
And cried out glad and cried out sad
With every voice but mine

One day I walk in flowers
One day I walk on stones
Today I walk in hours
One day I shall be home
I have been a beggar
And shall be one again
And few the ones with help to lend
Within the world of men
One day I walk in flowers
One day I walk on stones
Today I walk in hours
One day I shall be home

 

Pacing the Cage

One of my road songs…something I was listening to as I drove home from the Belleville Cemetery today.

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it’s pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage

I’ve proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip’s worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Hours chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It’s as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you’ll wind up
Pacing the cage

Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can’t see what’s round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage.
Pacing the cage.
Pacing the cage.

Bridge Street: July 26, 2011

Work Socks for the Mustard Seed

Lent began yesterday with Ash Wednesday and our classes are collecting work socks for the Mustard Seed.  I love the photographs, so make certain that you visit the SOCKS photo album.  Like any good installation sculpture, we’ll see if we can, in the end, make a huge visual impact by providing many pairs of socks….what? perhaps 2000 pair?
IMG_7309 IMG_7310 IMG_7311 IMG_7312

I’ve been teaching every student I meet how to fold socks and we are sharing the work together….along with a calming radio station, this experience transforms the art room into a huge EXPERIENCE!  I have always loved Bruce Cockburn’s music…saw him for the first time in the Yates Theater in Lethbridge, Alberta.  Now that I am able to embed music videos and things, I am going to pepper my blogs with his tunes so that you can listen to something while you read.  The first one…a powerful tune called Soul of a Man.  Enjoy!

Sirius Radio

James Taylor in the Day

 
It is a peaceful thing to sit with my stacks of assignments and read them while listening to good music.  James Taylor is presently singing Something in the Way She Moves and I remember years in university.  Mark Meher’s (is that how I spell it?) stereo was left behind for vacations when he would go back home to his parent’s place in Medicine Hat.  I would spin his albums…Valdy, Bruce Cockburn and James Taylor…Joni Mitchell…There was always a view from my residence room window of the Oldman River.  I always felt so calm about life perched there above the river.  I’ve wanted that feeling ever since.  One day I see myself living near a creek or river.
 
There’s something in the way she moves,
Or looks my way, or calls my name,
That seems to leave this troubled world behind.
And if I’m feeling down and blue,
Or troubled by some foolish game,
She always seems to make me change my mind.
   
 
And I feel fine anytime she’s around me now,
She’s around me now
Almost all the time
And if I’m well you can tell she’s been with me now,
She’s been with me now, quite a long, long time
And I feel fine. 
 
Every now and then the things I lean on lose their meaning
And I find myself careening
Into places where I should not let me go.
She has the power to go where no one else can find me
Yes, and to silently remind me
Of the happiness and good times that I know, got to know.
 
It isn’t what she’s got to say
But how she thinks and where she’s been
To me, the words are nice, the way they sound
I like to hear them best that way
It doesn’t much matter what they mean
If she says them mostly just to calm me down

And I feel fine anytime she’s around me now,
She’s around me now
Almost all the time
And if I’m well you can tell she’s been with me now,
She’s been with me now quite a long, long time
And I feel fine.