Otter

A poem
quick bit
I never posted just floating in drafts,
lost all the others to the fire,
2 big rubbermaids full of ’em.

There were chronicles of loss, exploration, listening, cooking, trauma and healing, and writing notebooks kept since I was 12. Was readying myself to read, rework, archive, share and burn. Check.

The “stone deep” metaphor was sure on my mind the night of the fire.

He snugs up then
drops stone deep
to our riverbed

swims up otter waking
my care twelve hours later

our living bodies

I read or hear or observe how we are endangering life on this planet several times a day. So do you probably. I’ll notice I’m not breathing. I’ll realize I’m afraid.

But then I visit a gardener, a farmer or someone living on the land and am showered with their abundance. Today my fridge overflows with varieties of lettuce and kale no supermarket has heard of and I just spent two hours in the garden transplanting more gifts.

It still strikes me as possible we could wake up and celebrate our mortality; there’s enough for us all to share here on this good earth.

Thanks Amanda Tipton for sharing the photo.

Thanks Amanda Tipton for sharing the photo.

Ernest Becker, adopting a phrase from Luther, says you must

“…taste death with the lips of your living body [so] that you can know emotionally that you are a creature who will die”

Lou and Laurie

Any excuse to enjoy a little Laurie. My main motivation is testing out embedding video when posting by email for the EGP Daily Creates guests on the to the quick. Lou and Laurie have been in my heart this past week, of course.

It was grade 9, in Steph’s room, a shrine to Doctor Who for the most part. She played me Lou Reed “I want to be black” and this one. I met Lou and Laurie the same day, years and years (and years) before they joined creative and life forces. How cool is that?

For your mourning pleasure, I highly recommend heading over wfmu.org and just typing “Lou Reed” into the search. A zillion tributes will pop up.

Movin’ on: Stompin’ Tom and resurgence

Found this one languishing in the ‘drafts’ pile just waiting for a few links. Written March 2013, the week singer, songwriter Stompin’ Tom Connors died.

I caught the revival of Stompin’ Tom in the 80’s because my friends in Scarborough were musicians and fanatics. I wore my cowboy boots to the Horseshoe, the Hotel Isabella and Grossman’s to hear country punk, blues-a-billy, rocknfolk inspired bands. My ears were primed for Tom.  Some of us were also tuning into the Rheostatics and paying attention to what they were paying attention to.

So when Dave Bidini’s tale of tracking down Stompin’ Tom came out back in the day, the news reached me somehow.  This week I enjoyed reading  John Doyle’s memories of the Stompin’ Tom resurrection story, paying homage to their fellow college radio dj at York University, Alan Round, who turned on both John and Dave to Stompin’ Tom.

Tom’s name rang in my ears even then. My mom had told a tale of his shake-the-fillings-in-your-molars stomping when she and dad saw him,  but I couldn’t remember where in their non-stop tour of Central/Eastern Canada and upper New York State they’d caught up to Tom. (Probably not their US years.)

She called me up this morning. Turns out it was Larder Lake Hotel, Larder Lake, Ontario circa ’64 or ’65. My mom was teaching grade school and my dad was the United Church minister.  He was minister to a two or three point charge, which meant they’d  drive around in Sunday blizzards to 2 or 3 small towns ‘nearby’, so dad could preach a sermon and the family could greet the people.

It was kind of a deal in the 60’s for the minister and his wife to be out at the local hotel. “This was before your dad became chaplain of the legion.” Good idea! One way of ensuring you can have a beer in public now and then.

“Movin’ on to Rouyn’ was Tom’s first single, released 1965 in Timmins by CKJB radio station. Mom and dad won this 45 that night in the Larder Lake hotel. V-town, mentioned in the second verse, was one of the charges in my dad’s preaching rounds. Kirkland Lake, more well known, was down the road. Rouyn-Noranda is just over the border in Quebec; my family lived there in the late 50’s.

I’ve caught wind of family outrage that the single went missing. “In the moves” mom says but I’m pretty sure I remember it from the box of 45’s in the family room in Scarborough that Danna and I danced to. My mom still lives in that house so it’s the long years in one place that are to blame. Years hide things.

I loved the family stories from their time in the Ontario northwoods. I grew up playing down the creek, one of Toronto many forested ravines. It was the great woods to us but I imagined something else. Taller trees, like stately grandmothers, less brush underneath, wide spaces to walk, a creek not bound in a cage of rocks, not stinking of whatever the factories a 1/2 mile north dumped into it, fish leaping, enough to share.

I was about 7 when I asked my dad if I might have been reincarnated and been with them up north.  He smiled and talked to me of the power of stories.  He reminded me of the stories he’d told of his camping trips as a boy “not a summer until you get north of North Bay” and the stories from his fly-in trips to Native communities north of Thunder Bay, after he’d left the church and joined the Human Rights Commission.  He was telling me I knew the forest through stories.

Now I think the forest was telling me stories too. Lay down a beat, start singing that story.

Stompin Tom toured us around this land and its people.  In truth I haven’t been listening to Tom much this week, except for the excellently curated selection over at Network Effects. I’ll wait until there’s a fire and some fount of song to lead a sing-along.

No, this week I’m remembering that forest I imagined as a child and listening to its music. In my poking around since Tom’s death I discovered that he and his manager started a record label in 1971, Boot Records, that featured a some Native musicians, one of whom was the Cree musician, Morley Loon.

Youtube got me to this recording of Morley Loon, not by Boot Records but by the CBC Northern Service. I hear the forest in these songs.

Cree Songs by Morley Loon recorded by CBC Northern Service.

 Resurgence. Songs of this land and the people.

Something Tom rooted for.

Unist’ot’en Action Camp

Direct action camp led by Unist’ot’en and Grassroots Wet’suwet’en people and allies to stop pipelines through their land.

cultivating alternatives

The 4th annual Unist’ot’en Action Camp is coming up July 10-14th and will likely be the largest ever.

In their report on last year’s action camp, submedia.tv draws connections between the camp and its opposition to the PTP pipeline, the Tarsands, and industrial extraction more generally.  They discuss the Wet’suwet’en’s recovery of the free prior informed consent and other traditions and responsibilities, and the importance of direct action.

Also, check out this article about the Unist’ot’en Camp in Earth First!

In it, Crow Qu’appelle writes:

The support from allies across the country during the November 27th day of action, Raising Resistance, proved that grassroots networks working together can equal or surpass the efforts of large NGO coalitions. Having money but often lacking base support, the NGO model has shown itself capable of mobilizing, and often wasting, large amounts of resources towards sensationalist one-off actions, and incapable, or uninterested, of developing…

View original post 119 more words

Out Back, the Sun is Out

Slow down, stand in the sun: storm’s on the way.

Here's The Thing...

I’m writing this from my phone, standing outside in my backyard. The sun is out, I am barefoot and in shorts. Currently my phone is playing the new daft punk single and a thunderstorm is on its way. That storm however means nothing to me at this moment. There will be plenty of storms in my life, some worse then others. Some will be mundane, some will be quite the opposite. However right now the heat and sun are to good to be ruined by a future unknown. I don’t want to be inside, I have no interest in missing out on this. Don’t let some storm in the distance ruin a sunny day. Go outside, there’s not a whole lot on this world that can’t wait 5 minutes.

image

View original post

Performing

I wrote this for a young friend who had something pretty awful happen to her. She’s a gifted artist, before trauma and after. 

I did some performing as a kid. I played piano, clarinet in school band, sang in choirs. I performed in dance recitals; gymnastics one year, jazz dance the next and then Highland dance. Every year I gave speeches at school.

In speech arts I always won at the classroom level, often the division level and a couple of times for our school. I don’t know why it had to be a competition but it was and I did my best. I wrote the speeches with a lot of help from my mom and dad.  She worked part-time as a teacher and knew what they looked for, as well as speaking to groups of kids, teachers and parents all the time.

After my dad died I didn’t want to perform. He had a motorcycle accident and died 5 days later from the injuries. It was sudden but the crisis went on for a long, long time.  Ties that bind us to the earth fray, snap, blow in the wind.

My dad was a powerful, provoking and inspiring public speaker. As a United Church minister he liked to preach sermons. As a senior public servant he liked to give speeches. He worked really hard on them and he coached and helped me practice my own on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, just us, in the dining room by the piano.

The year he died I didn’t write a speech. Instead, I memorized a poem, not too long, about a sailor. It was like a jig or a sea shanty. Anyway I won at the classroom level. I was too good at it by then, even without practicing. I found myself performing, a grade 7 girl, in front of a few hundred kids, the grade 7’s and a very tough group of grade 8’s. They were a sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll crowd.

I got started, and through the first verse. Then, on the second verse I stopped. The words were gone. My memory was white, like old bone.

I stood there for a long minute. And then another one, while the giggles started in the audience. My friend Jeanine from our street was in grade 8. I found her with my eyes and she wasn’t giggling. I heard a voice, inner or maybe from backstage, telling me to start again.

I did and got through it. And that was all. It was over.

After that I didn’t want to perform for a long time at least not as a solo artist. I played in the band in highschool, 2nd clarinet, in the back of the crowd. I loved drama class but didn’t do school plays. It’s still something I feel very unsure about, drawn to, sometimes with longing, but mostly I hear a NO, not for me.

Except. I’m noticing there’s more exceptions as I get older. Some things that felt like performing 20 years ago, like leading a workshop, just feels like sharing with friends now. Or playing at being a rock star, like at ladies rock camp. It can take a while for nerves to heal up I guess.

Dream from Turtle Island

Thomas King on not being raised within the Cherokee Nation, from The essential, inconvenient book for all Canadians, an interview by Taiaike Alfred. (An interview with Prof. Alfred from the CBC’s wonderful 8th Fire.)

I just carry myself and the culture and everything else that I have been able to pull together around with me like a turtle does.

A brief note to my myself that I want to read Thomas King’s latest and am looking forward to Taiaike Alfred’s in-progress memoir on Mohawk ironworkers.

The quote stirred up an image of my long ago turtle island dream, the one where I stood on a white sand, Caribean blue beach and watched the horizon swim toward me, a turtle the size of a continent. I wonder if I was a little turtle in the dream, ready to jump on with my culture and everything else I was able to pull together.

海龟岛 Turtle Islands
Thanks Tianyake for sharing the photo.