Monday, March 30, 2015

Lugubrious Linguistics?

I love communication, and I love language. My last year of University I had to take an academic elective so I could fulfill my degree requirements. The only courses that would fit in my schedule were, English Romantic Poetry, and Linguistics. I loved the Romantic Poetry. The Linguistics became my nemesis, and I became a little jaded. I did eventually come to appreciate the crazy world of Linguists, who seem to love to fight among themselves. I did not have that kind of special brain it takes to be good at it, and just barely passed the course.

My love of words stems from my mother who did crossword puzzles everyday of her life. She had her favourite words that have become mine as well.
Milk toast, insipid, vacuous, extrapolate, ort, lugubrious, limp, jaded, lucid, salacious, doolally, loquacious, interlope, banal, bucolic, are just a few words I am most fond of, though I don't use them often. I like to make words up, and so why shouldn't we? Language is a living thing. It is always changing and ever evolving.

I would have enjoyed watching this video in my Linguistics class. What I did find most compelling in my linguistics class was learning that linguistics is about the history of people, and you'll see this for yourself in this very humourous and entertaining, animated History of English.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Marvin (Popcorn) Sutton - Moonshine Mountain Man

Marvin (Popcorn) Sutton - M. Reach

The other day I heard that the Appalachian mountains on the East Coast of North America were once joined all together with Scotland, before the ocean separated the continents. This truly is the history of Appalachia  with ancestors from the British Isles.

I've always been very drawn to Appalachia, the music, the people, and their connection with the land. Living along part of Appalachia trail, here in Nova Scotia it feels close to my heart and soul. It's a big part of my own family history.

The story of Appalachia is rich, tragic and beautiful. Alan Lomax did a documentary called Appalachian Journey , an amazing historical video made in 1991, that I just finished viewing. It's about an hour of watching but if you want to see something that certainly gives an in depth history of Appalachia, it is well worth watching.

There are many contemporary correlations in the way the land today in North America is being stripped for fossil fuel with fracking and oil, and the way North Carolina was stripped for coal and gold, leaving the land decimated and it's people in poverty.

I was especially captured by the linguistics of the people, the music and how folk in the mountains where basically forced into moon-shining to survive because of the dire poverty and the way corn was harvested.

A few years back I happened upon a You-tube video that musician Seasick Steve did about a mountain man by the name of Marvin (Popcorn) Sutton. It was really something. Here's short film done by photographer and film maker Andy Armstrong.

"The Work Is to Keep Doing The Work"

The Red Shoes-Egg Tempera, Catherine Meyers 2012

At night, while in bed, is how I like to read my books.
I absorb certain books little by slowly, and re-read the ones like Women Who Run With The Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, when I want to do some unconscious digging into my instinct. This instinct is about as Clarissa Pinkola says, is realizing that " the work is to keep doing the work", the work of new growth. Life grows and diminishes in different areas and rates she states.

Dr. Pinkola Estes is not only a Ph.D Jungian analyst, but a cantadora storyteller. She tells these stories to help women restore their vitality by doing what she calls " psychic archeological digs" into the the female unconscious, what she calls the Wild Woman.

We all have our way of doing things, of expressing ourselves, and I believe it's important to find out what this is in order to find our own voice and our authentic selves.

Thinking about alcoholism and myself as a recovering alcoholic, I decided to read a story concerning the topic of addiction, which brought me to re-reading The Red Shoes which is a fairy tale by the Danish poet and writer Hans Christian Anderson. It's a rather dark, disturbing story about a young girl who becomes enchanted by red shoes, which make her dance to the point were she cannot stop dancing. Eventually she ends up having her feet severed, the only way she can stop the dancing. It is the story of addiction and finding your own voice, being your authentic self according to your vision, longings, passions and what you value.
Surrounding ourselves with others who will support us in this, is vital to our sense of self, and happiness.

 " He who cannot howl, will not find his pack. " - Charles Simic

The Red Shoes


Hans Christian Andersen


ONCE upon a time there was little girl, pretty and dainty. But in summer time she was obliged to go barefooted because she was poor, and in winter she had to wear large wooden shoes, so that her little instep grew quite red.
In the middle of the village lived an old shoemaker’s wife; she sat down and made, as well as she could, a pair of little shoes out of some old pieces of red cloth. They were clumsy, but she meant well, for they were intended for the little girl, whose name was Karen.
Karen received the shoes and wore them for the first time on the day of her mother’s funeral. They were certainly not suitable for mourning; but she had no others, and so she put her bare feet into them and walked behind the humble coffin.
Just then a large old carriage came by, and in it sat an old lady; she looked at the little girl, and taking pity on her, said to the clergyman, “Look here, if you will give me the little girl, I will take care of her.”
Karen believed that this was all on account of the red shoes, but the old lady thought them hideous, and so they were burnt. Karen herself was dressed very neatly and cleanly; she was taught to read and to sew, and people said that she was pretty. But the mirror told her, “You are more than pretty—you are beautiful.”
One day the Queen was travelling through that part of the country, and had her little daughter, who was a princess, with her. All the people, amongst them Karen too, streamed towards the castle, where the little princess, in fine white clothes, stood before the window and allowed herself to be stared at. She wore neither a train nor a golden crown, but beautiful red morocco shoes; they were indeed much finer than those which the shoemaker’s wife had sewn for little Karen. There is really nothing in the world that can be compared to red shoes!
Karen was now old enough to be confirmed; she received some new clothes, and she was also to have some new shoes. The rich shoemaker in the town took the measure of her little foot in his own room, in which there stood great glass cases full of pretty shoes and white slippers. It all looked very lovely, but the old lady could not see very well, and therefore did not get much pleasure out of it. Amongst the shoes stood a pair of red ones, like those which the princess had worn. How beautiful they were! and the shoemaker said that they had been made for a count’s daughter, but that they had not fitted her.
“I suppose they are of shiny leather?” asked the old lady. “They shine so.”
“Yes, they do shine,” said Karen. They fitted her, and were bought. But the old lady knew nothing of their being red, for she would never have allowed Karen to be confirmed in red shoes, as she was now to be.
Everybody looked at her feet, and the whole of the way from the church door to the choir it seemed to her as if even the ancient figures on the monuments, in their stiff collars and long black robes, had their eyes fixed on her red shoes. It was only of these that she thought when the clergyman laid his hand upon her head and spoke of the holy baptism, of the covenant with God, and told her that she was now to be a grown-up Christian. The organ pealed forth solemnly, and the sweet children’s voices mingled with that of their old leader; but Karen thought only of her red shoes. In the afternoon the old lady heard from everybody that Karen had worn red shoes. She said that it was a shocking thing to do, that it was very improper, and that Karen was always to go to church in future in black shoes, even if they were old.
On the following Sunday there was Communion. Karen looked first at the black shoes, then at the red ones—looked at the red ones again, and put them on.
The sun was shining gloriously, so Karen and the old lady went along the footpath through the corn, where it was rather dusty.
At the church door stood an old crippled soldier leaning on a crutch; he had a wonderfully long beard, more red than white, and he bowed down to the ground and asked the old lady whether he might wipe her shoes. Then Karen put out her little foot too. “Dear me, what pretty dancing-shoes!” said the soldier. “Sit fast, when you dance,” said he, addressing the shoes, and slapping the soles with his hand.
The old lady gave the soldier some money and then went with Karen into the church.
And all the people inside looked at Karen’s red shoes, and all the figures gazed at them; when Karen knelt before the altar and put the golden goblet to her mouth, she thought only of the red shoes. It seemed to her as though they were swimming about in the goblet, and she forgot to sing the psalm, forgot to say the “Lord’s Prayer.”
Now every one came out of church, and the old lady stepped into her carriage. But just as Karen was lifting up her foot to get in too, the old soldier said: “Dear me, what pretty dancing shoes!” and Karen could not help it, she was obliged to dance a few steps; and when she had once begun, her legs continued to dance. It seemed as if the shoes had got power over them. She danced round the church corner, for she could not stop; the coachman had to run after her and seize her. He lifted her into the carriage, but her feet continued to dance, so that she kicked the good old lady violently. At last they took off her shoes, and her legs were at rest.
At home the shoes were put into the cupboard, but Karen could not help looking at them.
Now the old lady fell ill, and it was said that she would not rise from her bed again. She had to be nursed and waited upon, and this was no one’s duty more than Karen’s. But there was a grand ball in the town, and Karen was invited. She looked at the red shoes, saying to herself that there was no sin in doing that; she put the red shoes on, thinking there was no harm in that either; and then she went to the ball; and commenced to dance.
But when she wanted to go to the right, the shoes danced to the left, and when she wanted to dance up the room, the shoes danced down the room, down the stairs through the street, and out through the gates of the town. She danced, and was obliged to dance, far out into the dark wood. Suddenly something shone up among the trees, and she believed it was the moon, for it was a face. But it was the old soldier with the red beard; he sat there nodding his head and said: “Dear me, what pretty dancing shoes!”
She was frightened, and wanted to throw the red shoes away; but they stuck fast. She tore off her stockings, but the shoes had grown fast to her feet. She danced and was obliged to go on dancing over field and meadow, in rain and sunshine, by night and by day—but by night it was most horrible.
She danced out into the open churchyard; but the dead there did not dance. They had something better to do than that. She wanted to sit down on the pauper’s grave where the bitter fern grows; but for her there was neither peace nor rest. And as she danced past the open church door she saw an angel there in long white robes, with wings reaching from his shoulders down to the earth; his face was stern and grave, and in his hand he held a broad shining sword.
“Dance you shall,” said he, “dance in your red shoes till you are pale and cold, till your skin shrivels up and you are a skeleton! Dance you shall, from door to door, and where proud and wicked children live you shall knock, so that they may hear you and fear you! Dance you shall, dance—!”
“Mercy!” cried Karen. But she did not hear what the angel answered, for the shoes carried her through the gate into the fields, along highways and byways, and unceasingly she had to dance.
One morning she danced past a door that she knew well; they were singing a psalm inside, and a coffin was being carried out covered with flowers. Then she knew that she was forsaken by every one and damned by the angel of God.
She danced, and was obliged to go on dancing through the dark night. The shoes bore her away over thorns and stumps till she was all torn and bleeding; she danced away over the heath to a lonely little house. Here, she knew, lived the executioner; and she tapped with her finger at the window and said:
“Come out, come out! I cannot come in, for I must dance.”
And the executioner said: “I don’t suppose you know who I am. I strike off the heads of the wicked, and I notice that my axe is tingling to do so.”
“Don’t cut off my head!” said Karen, “for then I could not repent of my sin. But cut off my feet with the red shoes.”
And then she confessed all her sin, and the executioner struck off her feet with the red shoes; but the shoes danced away with the little feet across the field into the deep forest.
And he carved her a pair of wooden feet and some crutches, and taught her a psalm which is always sung by sinners; she kissed the hand that guided the axe, and went away over the heath.
“Now, I have suffered enough for the red shoes,” she said; “I will go to church, so that people can see me.” And she went quickly up to the church-door; but when she came there, the red shoes were dancing before her, and she was frightened, and turned back.
During the whole week she was sad and wept many bitter tears, but when Sunday came again she said: “Now I have suffered and striven enough. I believe I am quite as good as many of those who sit in church and give themselves airs.” And so she went boldly on; but she had not got farther than the churchyard gate when she saw the red shoes dancing along before her. Then she became terrified, and turned back and repented right heartily of her sin.
She went to the parsonage, and begged that she might be taken into service there. She would be industrious, she said, and do everything that she could; she did not mind about the wages as long as she had a roof over her, and was with good people. The pastor’s wife had pity on her, and took her into service. And she was industrious and thoughtful. She sat quiet and listened when the pastor read aloud from the Bible in the evening. All the children liked her very much, but when they spoke about dress and grandeur and beauty she would shake her head.
On the following Sunday they all went to church, and she was asked whether she wished to go too; but, with tears in her eyes, she looked sadly at her crutches. And then the others went to hear God’s Word, but she went alone into her little room; this was only large enough to hold the bed and a chair. Here she sat down with her hymn-book, and as she was reading it with a pious mind, the wind carried the notes of the organ over to her from the church, and in tears she lifted up her face and said: “O God! help me!”
Then the sun shone so brightly, and right before her stood an angel of God in white robes; it was the same one whom she had seen that night at the church-door. He no longer carried the sharp sword, but a beautiful green branch, full of roses; with this he touched the ceiling, which rose up very high, and where he had touched it there shone a golden star. He touched the walls, which opened wide apart, and she saw the organ which was pealing forth; she saw the pictures of the old pastors and their wives, and the congregation sitting in the polished chairs and singing from their hymn-books. The church itself had come to the poor girl in her narrow room, or the room had gone to the church. She sat in the pew with the rest of the pastor’s household, and when they had finished the hymn and looked up, they nodded and said, “It was right of you to come, Karen.”
“It was mercy,” said she.
The organ played and the children’s voices in the choir sounded soft and lovely. The bright warm sunshine streamed through the window into the pew where Karen sat, and her heart became so filled with it, so filled with peace and joy, that it broke. Her soul flew on the sunbeams to Heaven, and no one was there who asked after the Red Shoes.
The End

Friday, March 27, 2015

" Music Saved Our Lives "

Saul Dreier and Ruben Sosnowicz

 Another testament to survival, of how one's love, and passion for creativity, in particular music, can give you the will to live is seen in Saul Dreier and Ruby Sosnowicz, who started the Holocaust Survivor's Band, as a tribute to late fellow musician and survivor, Alice Herz-Somer. Such a beautiful soul.

I love these two guys Saul and Ruby. Saul, he reminds me so much of my father, who's family came from Poland with his Jewish Germanic name.

You can see more videos and listen to the interview with Saul and Ruby here on CBC Radio Q.

The Turnip Princess

Listening to late night radio, I hear and learn about so many things from all over the world. Many are tragic, some funny, entertaining, and some can spark my interest enough to blog about them, particularly when they involve stories about life related to anything creative.

My art work involves fairy tales and story, so I was especially excited, and very curious to learn about a volume of 500 new fairy tales that had been recently found in Germany. These fairy tales were collected by local historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth (1810-1886) in Bavaria from country folk all over, around the same time as the Brothers Grimm, however faded into obscurity as these tales never gained popularity, and  were stored away for over 150 years, until now.

This Guardian article explains that Oberpfalz cultural curator Erika Eichenseer found them.
I loved what she says about fairy tales. She calls them a " valuable treasure known to man: ancient knowledge and wisdom to do with human development, testing our limits and salvation. "

Here is an example of one of these fairy tales.

The Turnip Princess

A young prince lost his way in the forest and came to a cave. He passed the night there, and when he awoke there stood next to him an old woman with a bear and a dog. The old witch seemed very beautiful and wished that the prince would stay with her and marry her. He could not endure her, yet could not leave that place.

One day, the bear was alone with him and spoke to the prince: "Pull the rusty nail from the wall, so that I shall be delivered, and place it beneath a turnip in the field, and in this way you shall have a beautiful wife." The prince seized the nail so strongly that the cave shook and the nail cracked loudly like a clap of thunder. Behind him a bear stood up from the ground like a man, bearded and with a crown on his head.

"Now I shall find a beautiful maiden," cried the prince and went forth nimbly. He came to a field of turnips and was about to place the nail beneath one of them when there appeared above him a monster, so that he dropped the nail, pricked his finger on a hedge and bled until he fell down senseless. When he awoke he saw that he was elsewhere and that he had long slumbered, for his smooth chin was now frizzy with a blond beard.

He arose and set off across field and forest and searched through every turnip field but nowhere found what he was looking for. Day passed and night, too, and one evening, he sat down on a ridge beneath a bush, a flowering blackthorn with red blossoms on one branch. He broke off the branch, and because there was before him, amongst the other things on the ground, a large, white turnip, he stuck the blackthorn branch into the turnip and fell asleep.

When he awoke on the morrow, the turnip beside him looked like a large, open shell in which lay the nail, and the wall of the turnip resembled a nut-shell, whose kernel seemed to shape his picture. He saw there the little foot, the thin hand, the whole body, even the fine hair so delicately imprinted, just as the most beautiful girl would have.

The prince stood up and began his search, and came at last to the old cave in the forest, but no one was there. He took out the nail and struck it into the wall of the cave, and at once the old woman and the bear were also there. "Tell me, for you know for certain," snarled the prince fiercely at the old woman, "where have you put the beautiful girl from the parlour?" The old woman giggled to hear this: "You have me, so why do you scorn me?"

The bear nodded, too, and looked for the nail in the wall. "You are honest, to be sure," said the prince, "but I shall not be the old woman's fool again." "Just pull out the nail," growled the bear. The prince reached for it and pulled it half out, looked about him and saw the bear as already half man, and the odious old woman almost as a beautiful and kind girl. Thereupon he drew out the nail entirely and flew into her arms for she had been delivered from the spell laid upon her and the nail burnt up like fire, and the young bridal pair travelled with his father, the king, to his kingdom.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Making Viva Frida

I have been a fan of Frida Kahlo's for a long time now. I think I can say she actually is my favourite artist. Not only because of her art, but because of her spirit, her love, and passion for life.

I met a lovely young woman online from Spain the past week, and asked her today if she liked Frida Kahlo. She told me yes she did, very much. Then just today, I found out about a new children's book that has been published, called Viva Frida, by the award-winning author/illustrator Yuyi Morales who has produced it. Here is a video that shows the painstaking and loving process that the artist went through to create the machetes, that were photographed for this beautiful and enchantingly illustrated book.
You can vote for Yuyi Morales for best Children's Illustrator in the CBC book awards competition here:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hooked On Hamilton - The Mystic Highway

I grew up in the east end of Toronto during the 50s, in a working class neighbourhood. At the age of ten my family moved to Southern Ontario in 1963, and then we lived in Guelph until I was 15. As a teenager, I was very aware of Hamilton and Kitchener. The cities were often thought of as being synonymous. One got the impression that Guelph thought of itself as a little more sophisticated, after all of the industrial factories were outside of the city, sight unseen. But there was an underside, of the pristine civilized city surface, as I found out first hand, in my pubescent youth, enchanted with the 60s counter culture.

My brother who was very much the 'greaser,' born in 1943 and ten years older then me, was getting into his own messes. He informed me that he'd spent his only night in the local jail, sharing a cell with a mafia guy. Seems the mafia had infiltrated Guelph. I certainly knew the biker scene was active, as was the drug culture.

Hamilton and Kitchener's reputation preceded itself, in that it was well known for having a lot of bikers, working class partying rough necks, and drugs. I'd never had the opportunity to spend any time in Hamilton, nor did I ever want to go, cause I was a little afraid, but when I hit my teens, I became acutely aware of the level of talent that was coming out of this area like Crowbar, and King Biscuit Boy, under the influence of Ronnie Hawkins. My brother worshiped The Hawk, and I began to learn through osmosis from my brother's love and knowledge of music, and about the bands that The Hawk was involved with, or them helped get their start. I was completely hooked on Hamilton and didn't know it.

One of the biggest reasons my brother loved Ronnie Hawkins was his salt of the earth personality, his great sense of humour, and his wild side. When musicians are loved, it's not just because of their raw talent, it's because of the kind of personalities they have. The more down to earth they are, the average working class person relates to them.

I love these interviews with Tom Wilson who talks about the rich musical history of Hamilton. Tom is about as down to earth, and working class as you can get, as are his associate members in the band Blackie and The Rodeo Kings. I think these factors all play a big part in why they have become so successful, loved, individually and collectively.

As a member of Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, Tom Wilson, Stephen Fearing, and Colin Linden are very cognizent of the importance of musical history, and keeping this tradition alive, and I think unites them as a musical force of nature for a greater good. The name of their band, being a tribute to the late great Willie P. Bennett, who was the song writer's writer.

Here is what I think is the best video interview done with Tom Wilson, that embodies the musical history of Hamilton. It gives insight into the kind of person Tom Wilson is, as a musician and a Hamiltonian.

Monday, March 23, 2015


I wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU to all of my supporters through out this big global online world who have and continue support me. Your, heart felt comments, loyal visits, and ad support sure make it all so rewarding and worthwhile. You ROCK and I love you all!

A special shout out to my special Canadian peeps

This past week I hit another milestone and got another achievement notification from The Google! LOL Here it is!

AdSense achievement

Lifetime ad impressions: 100,000 Congratulations! On March 15, 2015 you reached a lifetime ad impressions achievement.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Eileen Kramer - 100th Year of Creativity

Marie Forleo posted this beautiful video about a dancer, and choreographer I'd never heard tell of, and I just had to share it.

Eileen Kramer is not only a pioneer and a legend, but she is a 100 years young, still dancing, and very involved with choreography. What an creative inspiration she is. 

In the Huffington Post site are a series of videos that I'm sure will not only inspire and amaze you. I am certain you will be touched, if not enchanted by her grace and ageless, creative, and beautiful soul.
Her statement convinces me that creativity is the secret to staying young.

  "Try to do creative work, because if you're dealing with creative work you're doing something new all the time."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

" Poverty Is Another Country. You Have Either Lived There or You Have Not "- Alex Andreou.

Bum-Free Planter- Victoria British Columbia,  Nils Norman-Artist

I'd never heard the term defensive architecture until this morning, when listening to a special segment on CBC The Current called, By Design. I am certain I have seen examples of defensive architecture in the city, but I haven't lived there for many years. Along with the pigeons, it seems like people have become nuisances.

I am very cognizant of homelessness and poverty having been a Youth Care Worker for 20 plus years. The marginalized within society and throughout the world, are living in dire poverty, less than a dollar a day. This fact is glaringly apparent as being the other 99% of the economy that the Occupy movement speaks about, while the other remaining 1% of the population holds the ever increasing purse strings, and defensive architecture perpetuates and contributes to poverty.

Alex Andreou may not be unlike a voice in the wilderness. I admire his voice in addressing this topic because he has lived in the 'country of poverty' he refers to in his article.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Inside All of Us Is a Wild Thing

This list makes me laugh. It's my list of I guess what some might consider wild things I did as a kid. I spent a lot of time alone, and so maybe I was easily bored, and tried to entertain myself. Maybe I spent a lot of time day dreaming, following my heart, took more risks, looked for more ways to express myself, didn't like boundaries, and just liked making new experiences for myself. I have to say I haven't changed much in many ways.

6 Things I Did Differently Than The Rest?

1. Climbed the Guelph water tower on a dare when I was 13
2. Got my feet caught in an eves trough, jumping off the roof of my house again at 13
3. Got my middle finger stuck in one of the holes in a hand pump at 11
4. Shaved my eyebrow off when I was 10
5. Got a ping-pong net clamp stuck on my arm when I was about 7
6. Stuck a very small blackball candy in my ear was I was 4

I've done a lot of things that I could call stupid, but I don't think they were. Mostly I attribute this list above, to simply being a kid, and the stuff I did as an adult I'll omit. Many of the things I did as an adult might be considered a little wild by some, but in retrospect they caused me to grow, increased my confidence, never left me bored, and were great adventures.That list is long, and some are frankly a little embarrassing, some were unwise, but I've made progress, not perfection. Regardless, I've learned a lot of important beneficial life lessons. I suppose I could say or use the excuse, and say I did things because of my creative, over active imagination. I can conjecture, but I really don't know, nor do I really care.

Today I came across this list of 22 things creative people do differently than the rest.

After reading this article, I concluded that as a 'creative'  for as long as I can remember, I am always rather suspect when there are definitive descriptions about the way artists think, and behave. Making generalizations perpetuates myths, misconceptions and misunderstanding. There are more than enough sweeping statements already made, and opinions held about how artists think and behave.

We are all individuals. Everyone has creative capacities. I think making generalizations tends to put people into a stereo typical role, and perpetuates a certain kind of artist persona.

All that said, the lists I found I could most relate to about artists, have been made by Julia Cameron, in her book, The Artist Way. Her list of  Basic Principles, and learning about the myths regarding artists are life altering, and breakdown the stereotypical beliefs surrounding why we believe the myths about why should not or can not be artists.

I'd love to hear what other people did differently than the rest, as a kid, and as an adult ( if you're not too embarrassed) and if you think you are or were different. Do creative people do things differently than the rest? I hope you leave your comments.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Creativity and Mental Illness

Bill and I on Our Wedding Day - June 21st, 1980

Recent life events have caused me to think more lately about the past, my relationships, wellness and illness, life, death, and all those things that tear us apart, tie us to one another, and bring us together.

In 1979 I met Bill. We were both frequenting the Younge Street Mission Evergreen, in Toronto Ontario. I was living around the corner of Gerrard Street and Younge, at the Women's Christian Temperance Union, because the rent was relatively affordable, and I needed a place to live, while I was attending school. You could only entertain gentlemen in the parlor, never upstairs in your room! Bill was living around High Park, on Roncesvalles Avenue, in a windowless, dark, one bedroom, basement apartment.

On the right is the WCTU in 1956. It still looked the same in 1979. It was like going back in the past.

While I was at the Mission one evening, before I'd met Bill, I heard a young man laugh out loud, such a great full laugh, which caused me to take immediate notice of him, and I said to myself, "Who the hell is this guy.?" He'd made such a strong impression on me. He was wearing a toque on his head, like the one Jack Nicholson wore in One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Jack was Bill's his favourite actor, and that was his favourite movie. I was later to find out exactly why.

We began dating, and after a very short period of time Bill became my husband, and then quickly became, my late husband, as he suffered with Paranoid Schizophrenia and Brittle Diabetes from the age of 16, and was an out-patient at the Clark Institute in Toronto for ten years. Our first date was spent in the outpatients at Saint Michael's Hospital.

Bill was an extremely caring, compassionate, creative person, a writer, with a great love of music, and wicked sense of humour. He was very intelligent, and could relate to any one, especially to street people. Everyone loved Bill.

I have known many creative artists who have mental disorders of some sort. I really don't know if there is a connection between the two, or simply that mental illness is more common than society cares to acknowledge, because it's frightening, if we don't understand. When it comes to any disease, many people go into denial.

 “We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution for the universe.” - Göethe

I don't know if the correlation between mental health and artists is so important, but what I do know, is that it is essential that people need to talk about it, so we can get educated, and change the stigma and misunderstanding attached to mental illness. The silence and stigma surrounding the topic is what is not only crazy, but so very destructive and threatening to peoples lives, more so than the illness itself.

I found a site today about bipolar artists that is very informative, compelling and worthwhile checking out.

This information I found on line from Public Health Agency of Canada site

  • Mental illnesses indirectly affect all Canadians through illness in a family member, friend or colleague.
  • Twenty percent of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness during their lifetime.
  • Mental illnesses affect people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.
  • The onset of most mental illnesses occurs during adolescence and young adulthood.
  • A complex interplay of genetic, biological, personality and environmental factors causes mental illnesses.
  • Mental illnesses can be treated effectively.
  • Mental illnesses are costly to the individual, the family, the health care system and the community.
  • The economic cost of mental illnesses in Canada was estimated to be at least $7.331 billion in 1993.
  • Eight-six percent of hospitalizations for mental illness in Canada occur in general hospitals.
  • In 1999, 3.8% of all admissions in general hospitals (1.5 million hospital days) were due to anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, major depression, personality disorders, eating disorders and suicidal behaviour.
  • The stigma attached to mental illnesses presents a serious barrier not only to diagnosis and treatment but also to acceptance in the community.
  • Friday, March 13, 2015

    "Are You Too Old To Do What You Really Love?"

    Julia Cameron

    “But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano / act / paint / write a decent play?"
    Yes . . . the same age you will be if you don't.”
    ― Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

    I went to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design ( NSCAD) in the 70s. I wasn't able to finish my degree in my last year. It wore heavy on my heart for thirty years. I continued with my art work, and supported myself with various jobs, namely as a Youth Care Worker. I finally was able to return as a mature student to finish my BFA at the age of 56 in 2009. If I had let my age stop me, I'd never have been able to fulfill my dream and goal of attending  Mount Allison University in the Fine Art program, and having graduated in 2012. It was a wonderful experience, but you must want it, need to be able to think for yourself, keep an open mind, believe in yourself, and do the work.

    When I was in my 20s, I was no where ready to attend University, but I do not regret it for a minute. NSCAD was quite a remarkable experience in the 70s, full of change, feminism, art adventures and some amazing teachers.
    I think one of the main reasons I went back to school several times in my life is because I love learning, especially life long learning. We are never too old to learn.

    Going to art school is very stimulating. You learn a discourse, interact with other artists, build confidence, learn so many skills, and network.
    I would highly recommend anyone to go get themselves into a Fine Art program and get a degree, if art is your passion, you think can afford it, and you are really ready.

    If a person loves and wants to be a teacher, doctor, lawyer, or any other profession, no one would ever think not going to University to get a degree is a good idea, so why would we entertain the idea it is okay not to bother getting a degree in the study of art.

    Of course a degree does not make or a guarantee good artist, nor a good doctor etc., but it sets a standard of professionalism that I believe is crucial. Most of all it has been and is still essential that I love what I do whatever it is I choose, whatever my age.

    Thursday, March 12, 2015

    Damien Hirst-How Come You Can't Paint Your Own Paintings?

    Your new boss Damien Hirst?
    I have been fantasizing a bit this morning. I saw a job posting in the The Guardian. He's at it again. He being, Damian Hirst, looking for painters to create his paintings. When you are Damien Hirst you can afford to do this sort of thing. 

    My question is why would you want to? Especially when you are a capable and talented artist, who CAN paint. Only reason I can come up with, is to fast track your 'artistic creative out put' in order to make the big bucks that Damien Hirst's name brings in.

    In my opinion it reduces art to the lowest common denominator, devalues the creative process and talent that should be Damien Hirst's. I can't say, I just don't get it. Sadly I do. It's all about money, and not really giving a flyin' F--- about what you do, because you are Damien Hirst.

    I recollect in the past he'd said, “ I can’t wait to get into a position to make really bad art and get away with it. At the moment if I did certain things people would look at it, consider it and then say ‘f off”. But after a while you can get away with things.” Julian Spalding, The New York Times 2008.

    Fantasizing about what it would be like to work for Mr. Hirst, I no doubt I'd get fired, but I have no desire to work for Mr. Hirst. I have never been a fan, especially of pickled and rotting dead things.

    I don't think I'd ever have a desire to paint anyone's paintings but my own. I can see where some would be tempted by the money, and prestige of saying, "I create Damien Hirst's paintings, he's my boss."

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    Balancing Heaven and Earth and Sacred Hoop Special- Suicide in Native America

    Henry Evans-Robots For Humanity

    Henry Evans with his PR2 robot

    If you have, ever have had, a loved one, or a friend with mobility problems due to illness like MS or a stroke or some other kind of state of paralysis you'll understand how the simple things, like being able to scratch your own nose can be greatly taken for granted by those of us who do not have mobility issues. It is easy to take your ability to walk, talk, feed yourself etc., for granted when your body and health are all intact.

    Technology is changing things for people and I was excited to hear about Henry Evans who was the innovator of Robots for Humanity which involves assisted robotics. Henry Evans is an incredible human being, and a testament to the miraculous creative power of the human spirit.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    No Ordinary Topless Accordion Player

    Debbie Patterson

    I've always loved the accordion.,and took lessons until I was about 13 years old at the Ontario Conservatory of Music. I still can play the piece I performed for my final exam. I played accordion when it wasn't cool, and then began to loose interest because what I really wanted to learn was the guitar, and of course being a pubescent teenager, I was wanting to be very cool.

    Speaking of cool, I heard an very cool and awesome accordion player today on  DNTO, CBC Radio. She had actually been a topless accordion player by the name Debbie Patterson. I also found out she is so much more than an accordion player. She is a writer, play write, an actress, and now a dancer. She is a very gifted, talented, multifaceted and inspiring  human being.

    Feb 2014 Sargent Victor from Theatre Projects Manitoba on Vimeo.

    Friday, March 6, 2015

    "Marie's Dictionary"

    Here is a touching short documentary film I found out about, by Emmanuel Vaughan -Lee of the Global Oneness Project called "Marie's Dictionary". The film says it all, and tells the story that imparts inspiration and hope, about Marie Wilcox, who is the last fluent speaker of The Wukchumni language in order to preserve, and keep the language alive.

    Thursday, March 5, 2015

    Bob Ross - Happy Little Clouds and Happy Little Trees

    Even Bigger Bob Afro!

    Life can really suck the big one sometimes. It's so important to be able to have a sense of humour, and I am so grateful that I have beautiful friends and family that laugh a lot, because it can get very wearisome with all the problems we encounter. Sometimes the best medicine is just to laugh, which is just why I wanted to post this Youtube video.

     Bob Ross never fails to make me laugh, and to give me that warm, happy, fuzzy feeling, that only Bob Ross can do no matter how many times I see him, and why I am sharing this, in hopes that maybe it will give my viewers the same feeling, if you just need that moment, and that much needed break from life's problems.

    Love those happy little clouds, and happy little trees. I believe Bob Ross! I believe!

    Wednesday, March 4, 2015

    Thanks For Seven Years Now Where's My Wad a Dough?

    These days I write, and I write, and I write some more. It's a good thing. I can't help but write everyday. If I don't write, the day just feels off to me. I began this blog November 11th 2008. Then in February 13th, 2014, I started another blog all about Apple River Tarot Readings that I post to daily, and it has been very rewarding personally, especially doing individual readings for people that I can hopefully help.

    It is very encouraging to get feedback from readers who leave comments. They motivate and inspire me to keep writing. Sometimes a blogger can feel like they are talking to the ether out in cyber sphere.  So, if I haven't already invited you to leave a comment, and if you are so inclined, please don't be shy, as I would absolutely love to hear from you, good , bad or indifferent!

    Today I received a notification from Google AdSense that I've been using AdSense for 7 years. I've always been  very fond of  and partial to the number seven , and so I am expecting this year to be a good one filled with increasing growth, confidence, adventure and transformation.

    It is a an encouraging acknowledgement of my seven years, as I've worked with committed diligence at this blog. Although I haven't had much remuneration in monetizing this site, it has improved and continues to do so everyday. It may sound ridiculous to some folks but believe me, I get pretty darn excited when I make over a dollar a day...once in a while!

     I figure by the time I'm 80, I might have my first 100 dollars! It would be great if that came sooner, but regardless, I never started blogging for the big bucks!

    I sure am grateful to each and every one of my viewers and followers, regardless if they are clicking on my ads or not. To all of you, I thank you very much, as you are all greatly appreciated.

    Here's what my little anniversary card from said from Google AdSense.

    AdSense achievement

    7 years Happy Anniversary! As of today, you've been with AdSense for 7 years

    Monday, March 2, 2015

    Grandmother Moon

    The Mother's Prayers Are Carried to the Grandmother - Catherine Meyers

    Grandmother Moon                                  
    Without the glare of city lights,
    The darkness surrounds me
    As I drive home late at night.
    Into my mind creeps
    A trickle of fear.
    Then, above me I see
    Grandmother Moon in the fullness of her glory.
    Like the Creator's protective eye,
    Her gentle glow never leaves me.
    I feel the love of the Divine
    Surround and enfold me,
    Like a warm, soft cloak,
    As I am guided home.
    - B.K.

    I have an online friend who wrote this beautiful poem, Grandmother Moon. We have much in common in spirit, and when she shared this poem with me, I immediately thought of a painting I did a number of years ago, I called  it The Mother's Prayers Are Carried to the Grandmother. I thought the two paired together went well with one another. I asked her today if I could post her poem along with my painting, she said yes, and so here they are together.

    Sunday, March 1, 2015

    Augusta Fells Savage

    Augusta Fells Savage- February 29, 1892 – March 27, 1962
    I am always excited to learn of new artists and in particular women, who have gone unknown, and seemed to have disappeared into obscurity. A good friend posted information about one such gifted artists of the Harlem Renaissance, who was a talented sculptor, a dedicated teacher, and a strong activist.

     Augusta Fells Savage was the daughter of a Methodist minister, who forbade her to create her art as he deemed it to be a sinful activity. In spite of, and perhaps because of his recriminations and abuse, she ardently pursued her passion.

    In 1920 she was admitted into Cooper Union where she excelled, but experienced discrimination, and eventual rejection into a summer art program, that she had applied for in France. She was rejected solely based on the colour of her skin. Immediately forging her commitment to civil rights, she began to publicly fight for equal rights, informing newspapers of this situation, that was in turn publicized throughout the United States and Europe.

    Turning her focus on to creating sculpted portraits of W.E.B Dubois and Marcus Garvey, this effort led her to being an acclaimed artist of the Harlem Renaissance.
    Through the funding raising efforts of many individuals in her home state of Florida and in New York, she eventually was able to attend the Parisian art school, the Acadèmie de la Grande Chaumière, in 1929. She exhibited her art at the Grand Palais, winning  awards for her work, and then traveled throughout Europe to study art and architecture.

    Augusta returned from Europe to New York in the 1930s, where she then became the first African American elected to the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. She then established the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in Harlem, where she taught art to anyone interested. In 1939, she was commissioned by the New York World’s Fair, creating a piece inspired by the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Unfortunately the sculpture it was destroyed at the close of the fair, as she did not have the financial means to transport the piece.

    Augusta Fells Savage died in 1962 without fanfare or recognition of her creative, artistic talents and contributions. Much of her work has been lost to history and of unknown whereabouts. Fortunately 'Gamin' one of her most famous pieces is permanently displayed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

    It always saddens me to learn of such women like Augusta Fells Savage, going unnoticed into obscurity, or not have been recorded within art history books. Finally at long last this is changing, and I am grateful to learn of this remarkable woman now, rather than never. Augusta Fells Savage is truly a gift to the rich history of African American Artists and who has left a wonderful legacy to the art world.