Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jesse Winchester

My blog posts have been more infrequent lately, I know. I haven't felt much like writing and didn't have much to write about, being in a funk, fighting with Community Services, and being down because of my financial situation, without work, no car, no food and my eyeball, I thought was acting wonky again. I had a wonky eyeball a few months back.

However, today I was proactive, and took care of business so to speak, put things into perspective and am feeling much better. I have learned the best anecdote to worry and stress is prayer and action. Courage is worry that has said it's prayers. I don't know who ever said that, but it helps me.

It's all relative and I always need to remember to put things into perspective, concentrate on the positive, forget my false pride, to not be afraid, reach out to others and to have gratitude.

What does this have to do with Jesse Winchester you are asking? Music and it's power to teach about, life, love, healing, humility, humour and health.

My only brother, and my hero, had MS from the age of 15. He would have been 68 this past March. He was one year older than Jesse. You could say, I look at Jesse as a big brother, that I have come to feel like I know, because of his music and the way he expressed his very humble, tender heart and soul in his words, and song that always came shining through.

My family is very musical and CBC radio was a staple. Music was a very important part of our family, however my brother Ralph , was not a musician, but he had a passion for music like I never saw before, until I heard musicians like Jesse Winchester, back in the 70s, when he first came on the Canadian music scene. His music captivated me, touched my soul and heart deeply like no one else.

Music , especially the Blues, saw my brother through his illness, in such a way that it brought us close together and deeply bonded us forever, much in the same way I feel bonded to Jessie and other musicians like him, that humbly dedicate themselves to their passion and their art. They are true wordsmiths, story tellers, healers, humourists and most of all have so much to teach us about what means to be human. Music is a wonderful God given gift, that is a strong glue that can bond people together.

I want to share a story.

My brother first introduced me to Blues when I was about 15. One very early Monday morning, for a young teenaged girl, I was awakened suddenly, by a loud wild sounding music coming from downstairs. Not being impressed, I got out of bed and found my brother blaring the television program, Canada AM. This regular early morning show, would always feature some kind of obscure musician, and this morning it was, Chicago's late great, Hound Dog Taylor & The House Rockers. I was spell bound, and from that point on, hooked on Blues. Looking back, I was already steeped and well schooled in Boogie Woogie, R&B, Rock and Roll and the likes of Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddly, and Rompin Ronnie Hawkins, etc., which were played regularly everyday in our house and so it was a natural progression in my musical education.

I would listen intently with my ear pressed against my brother's bedroom door for hours, while he played his records, on his old record player, that I still have to this day. I would think to my young self, what is this music, what are they singing? I swore I heard Bo Diddly singing about pink spaghetti! I'm not sure just what that song was, but Ralph used to play that one a lot!

Fast forward to many years later, not that long ago, I phoned in the request line to Saturday Night Blues. You leave a message on Holger's machine, saying your name, what it is you want to hear, and why.

Some time later, I recieved a very surprising email, from a man I knew many, many years ago, as a young troubled girl of 13, going on 14. He was my boyfriend, though we had never made it official, but I was in love, we both were.

My father had left our family, my brother was very ill with MS and mental illness and I was an out of control teenage girl. So my mother made the decision to leave Ontario and head back home, to her beloved Nova Scotia on the East Coast.

I was heart broken to be leaving and I remember the day before we left, very clearly. This beautiful young man, walked me home and we cried holding each other in front of my house, as we said our goodbyes. I had often wondered all these years, where he was and searched for him online but thought I'd never hear of him again, until that day I recieved his email.

He had heard me on Saturday Night Blues and searched me out. What an amazing experience to be able to talk to him when he called me over the phone and we were able to talk after 45 years, all because we both shared this love of music, especially the Blues. I have my brother Ralph to thank for this, because he religiously listened, as I do now, and he first introduced me to Holger's program, the best Blues show in the world I'm certain, over 20 years ago.

So my childhood sweetheart , we talk now and again and it's a healing kind of feeling to do so. He is still very dear to me in those very tender parts of my heart.

He recently told me, Jesse Winchester and a very talented young man he works closely with, by the name of Jimmy Bowskill were to play in a concert on the West Coast, however Jesse unfortunately has had to cancel all his tour dates, because he has been diagnosed with cancer.

At once I felt the pain and sadness of my brother's illnesses, my own blood brother Ralph and the one of choice, Jesse.
I have no doubt, if my brother and Jesse had ever had the chance to meet, they would love one another, because they have much in common. They are both brave, kind, funny, strong, soulful, humble and loving men, who love their music, love people and who love their God of their own understanding. I wish the world could be filled with more of this kind of man.

There is a song that Jesse sings, Step By Step that I love, here are the words

Step by step all the happy Saints go marching in
And if one of those Saints steps out of line
He'll have to start again
Cause Jacob's ladder
Gets slippery at the top
And many a happy-go-lucky saint
Has made that long long drop

If I'm late, don't wait
Go on without me, I may tarry a while
Cause I need to know before I go
How come the Devil smiles

Free from care, free from sin
The Saints are troopin' in
The children play all around the Throne
Innocent of sin
A trillion voices sing the Name
The mortals may not know
And Heaven's walls are too high to hear
The trouble down below

If I'm late, don't wait
Go on without me, I may tarry a while
Cause I need to know, before I go
How come the Devils smiles
I need to know before I go
How come the Devil smiles

Please drop by this site to leave a message for Jesse Winchester.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wolf Woman

I had a brain fart a minute ago and realized I deleted this post mistakenly, and so I am re-posting it again!

I have been re-reading a book by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph. D. Women That Run With The Wolves. She is a cantadora which means she is "keeper of the old stories". Stories are medicine she says and I believe this to be so. It is a book of women's stories, about the wild self, tellings about the ways of the wild woman, that many woman have forgotten.
This book has been and is continuing to become a very vital and significant influence on my creative life.

"All these stories present the knife of insight, the flame of the passionate life, the breath to speak what one knows, the courage to stand what one sees without looking away, the fragrance of the wild woman." - Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I am beginning to paint the powerful imagery of this book. These egg tempera paintings I am working on are small studies of my imagination. I have posted the first one I completed.


I completed my fourth egg tempera painting today and this story of Bluebeard is a powerful one and scary too, but only if you let it scare you. I've known a a number of Bluebeards but thank goodness I know to run the other way now!

The Natural Predator of the Psyche

"Developing a relationship with the wildish nature is an essential part of women's individuation. In order to accomplish this, a woman must go into the dark, but at the same time she must not be irreparably trapped, captured, or killed on her way there or back.

The Bluebeard story is about that captor, the dark man who inhabits all women's psyches, the innate predator. He is a specific and inconvertible force which must be memorized and restrained. To restrain the natural predator of the psyche it is necessary for women to remain in possession of all their instinctual powers. Some of these are insight, intuition, endurance, tenacious loving, keen sensing, far vision, acute hearing, singing over the dead, intuitive healing, and tending to their own creative fires." - Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ass Kissing Your Way Through Art School? Then What?

The above is from an engaging site on this very topic, Art Workers Won't Kiss Ass
I learned a long time ago in the 70's when I was very involved in the politics of feminism and art while attending NSCAD , that I didn't want to ever ass kiss my way through art school in order to be successful. That said, it is my belief that practical business/ commerce knowledge and skills are vital to all artists to increase one's ability to sell your art work.

More often than not, our work is undervalued. As artists we don't need to contribute to this by short selling ourselves and perpetuating the sterotype of the starving and long suffering artist that lives in a garret, who have to sell our souls to the devil, and ass kiss to get ahead!

As an artist, that has returned to university to complete my BFA, I am painfully aware of how students are not given the business skills regarding, marketing and selling their work without loosing one's personal integrity.

This was even more so the situation in my early years as an art student. It is still prevalent, but fortunately today art students have the opportunity more than ever to access commerce related information, if they seek it out, and Professors encourage and reinforce the importance of having commerce as part of your education while in art school.

Studying and understanding how to market yourself as an artist, I would dare to say is percieved as diametrical to what it means to be an artist, to the point of being a sacrilege. This is also a myth, making us victims of our own personas in which we are percieved as never needing or wanting to seriously consider the material or monetary in terms of our art practice or careers.

This is not a moral highground nor should it be. I am certain no artist wants or chooses poverty as their lot in life, loosing an ear or maddness in order to be an artist! Making art is work, hard work, but it also doesn't mean we are destined for a life of poverty. We want, need and deserve to expect to be remunerated for our work.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Global Enrichment Foundation, founded by Amanda Lindhout-developing strengths already within women to assist them in changing their lives.

The Global Enrichment Foundation, founded by Amanda Lindhout-developing strengths already within women to assist them in changing their lives.

The Handless Maiden

I finished this third egg tempera of my painting series late last night.

"The" Handless Maiden" is about women's initiation into the underground forest through the rite of endurance. The word endurance sounds as though it is means " to continue without cessation", and while this is an occasional part of the tasks underlying the tale, the word endurance also means " to harden, to make sturdy, to make robust, to strengthen, and this is the principal thrust of the tale, and the generative feature of the woman's long psychic life. We do not just go on to go on. Endurance means we make something substantial.

" The Handless Maiden " story is called, in different parts of the world, "Silver Hands," "The "Handless Bride", and " The Orchard." Folklorists number more than a hundred versions of the tale. Other variations are found throughout Eastern and Middle Europe. But the truth be told, the deep womanly experience underlying the tale is found anywhere there is yearning for the Wild Mother." - Woman That Run With The Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Sarah Leavitt Dot Com

I heard an interview with artist/writer Sarah Leavitt today for the second time on Shelagh Rogers. It featured Sarah's powerful book, entitled, "Tangles", which is about living with her mother's Alzheimers disease. One thing that struck me was that she spoke about how isolating the disease is. It caused me to reflect on how most diseases are isolating, and those of us who are well are convicted by this and we need to change our attitudes about disease. As a recovering alcoholic I know how isolation works. It kills people.

Friday, July 15, 2011

La Loba

My second egg tempera painting of La Loba/Wolf Woman the collector of bones.

"She collects and preserves especially that which is in danger of being lost to the world. Her cave is filled with all manner of desert creatures: the deer, the rattlesnake, the crow. But her specialty is wolves.

She creeps and crawls and sifts through the mountains and the dry riverbeds, looking for wolf bones, and when she has assembled an entire skeleton, when the last bone is in place and the beautiful white sculpture of the creature is laid before her, she sits by the fire and thinks about what song she will sing. And when she is sure, she stands over the criatura, raises her arms over it, and sings out. That is when the rib bones and leg bones of the wolf begin to flesh out and the creature becomes furred, La Loba sings some more, and more of the creature comes into being." - Clarissa Pinkola Estes | The Late Show | Episode 3 - Chava Rosenfarb - July 12 & 15 | The Late Show | Episode 3 - Chava Rosenfarb - July 12 & 15

Chava Rosenfarb I recently learned about who is an amazing woman and mentor.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Another Creative Cousin

People can say what they want about the pointlessness of social media, and I was no different before I decided to get involved with it.

I was looking for a friend I'd lost contact with over the years, this happened for no reason other than my own lack of effort to continue to nuture and value an important friendship. In this day of instant communication and fast paced life styles it is easy to loose sight of the importance of keeping in touch.

My mother use to say you can have several acquaintances but if you have a few close friends, then consider yourself very blessed. She was right speaking these words of wisdom. I have come to realize that it is so vital to nurture and value relationships with others, especially with friends and family. Relationships are what count the most in this life.

Social media allows for the opportunity to reunite, rekindle friendships, family bonds and even connect with relatives we never knew and to even make new friendships. I don't believe it is a replacement for face to face interaction but it certainly helps to keep those lines of communication open.

Today I met another creative cousin I'd never met before, through social media, who is a very talented photographer, and I have posted a link to his website. Peace of The North Photo Art

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Cousin I Never Knew

Over the past few years I have found cousins I'd never knew I had. Many I have connected with over social media and it has been a wonderful experience for me as I had been without any knowledge of so many due to the fact my father had long been estranged with his family of origin.

Some of these cousins I have never met face to face. Nonetheless I have a strong connection with them through music, art, theatre, humour and animals all things we are very passionate about.

One of these cousins I heard over a radio program from British Columbia last night. We are both on opposites ends of the country. But hearing his voice for the first time ever last night it was an amazing experience. I felt like I recognized this person immediately as my family, like I'd known him all my life. Perhaps this is what's meant but blood is thicker the water. I have posted a link to the radio show he was interviewed on last night. He is a Comedian, and Actor and a Drag Queen.

I am so proud to call him my cousin Rick Meyers A.K.A. Vikki Smudge.​id=383344&ep_id=815120

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dark Night of The Soul

Loreena McKennitt - The dark night of the soul

Upon a darkened night
the flame of love was burning in my breast
And by a lantern bright
I fled my house while all in quiet rest

Shrouded by the night
and by the secret stair I quickly fled
The veil concealed my eyes
while all within lay quiet as the dead

Oh night thou was my guide
oh night more loving than the rising sun
Oh night that joined the lover
to the beloved one
transforming each of them into the other

Upon that misty night
in secrecy, beyond such mortal sight
Without a guide or light
than that which burned so deeply in my heart

That fire t'was led me on
and shone more bright than of the midday sun
To where he waited still
it was a place where no one else could come


Within my pounding heart
which kept itself entirely for him
He fell into his sleep
beneath the cedars all my love I gave
And by the fortress walls
the wind would brush his hair against his brow
And with its smoothest hand
caressed my every sense it would allow


I lost myself to him
and laid my face upon my lovers breast
And care and grief grew dim
as in the mornings mist became the light
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair

This poem was originally written by the Mystic, Saint John of The Cross. It is my very favourite song of Loreena Mckennitt's and poem that for me describes one's relationship with the Beloved, be it the lover or the Creator. We all experience at some time this Dark Night of The Soul. And then the Light comes.

Lianne McTavish

Here's a real interesting look at feminism, a very amazing and remarkable woman, Professor/ Body Builder extraordinaire, Lianne McTavish

Friday, July 1, 2011

Joseph and Dylan Cormier

This age old classic folk song written by Hedy West speaks for itself. I've always loved this song and it's been recorded by several people. I think this one I've posted is my favourite recording by my friend, Joseph Cormier and his son Dylan. It's simple and pure in it's heart felt honest rendition.

I have posted the lyrics below, and listed who else has recorded this song.

Bobby Bare - 1963 Bill Anderson - 1964 Glen Campbell - 1964 Jerry Reed - 1972 Reba McEntire - 1995 Also recorded by: Priestie Boys; Lonnie Donegan; Gene Vincent; Joe Simon.

(I'm five hundred miles away from home) Teardrops fell on Mama's note When I read the things she wrote She said "We miss you, son, we love you, come on home" Well I didn't have to pack I had it all right on my back Now I'm five hundred miles away from home Away from home, away from home Cold and tired and all alone Yes, I'm five hundred miles away from home SPOKEN: I know this is the same coat I took when I left home But it sure looks different now And I guess I look different too But time changes everything I wonder what they'll say, When they see their boy lookin' this way SUNG: Oh, I wonder what they'll say when I get home Can't remember when I ate It's just thumb and walk and wait And I'm still five hundred miles away from home If my luck had been just right I'd be with them all tonight But I'm still five hundred miles away from home Away from home, away from home Cold and tired and all alone Yes, I'm five hundred miles away from home Oh, I'm still five hundred miles away from home