Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Dark History - Shame and Predjudice - Kent Monkman

Cree artist Kent Monkman poses for a photograph at his new exhibition Shame and Prejudice. A Story of Resilience Nathan Denette/Canadian Press

Considering what's been going on globally with populism, banning refugees, the rise of the alt-right, hate and divisiveness, and in light of the recent election of Donald Trump, 'his majesty the baby', the hate speech, detaining people, building a big wall and the pompous pontificate the great I AM, it feels like the world is stuck in a freakishly weird episode of the Twilight Zone, and we're in a 'back to the future ' very scary movie.

It causes me to reflect on what it means to be a Canadian, in terms of our history. We're not the spitting image, mirrored reflection of the U.S., but we certainly live in it's shadow it's seems much of the time, in spite of how we often declare, 'we aren't like them' and are grateful for it. But one of the things we do share is our history of colonialism, cultural genocide, shame and prejudice, the kind that Kent Monkman speaks of in his art.

"Any Canadian, whether you're a new Canadian or your family has lived here for generations, has to come to terms with the real history of this nation," said Monkman.
"Canadians are learning more about the darker history of this country that has been glossed over, that was never in our school curriculums." 
                                                                   - Kent Monkman

With the upcoming celebratory 150 years of our country Canada, I found that I can't help be rather jaded and cynical about all the whole hoopla surrounding our history, knowing how, especially in relation to the treatment of Indigenous people, that also includes many others, it has been a very dark history.
I feel strongly about this and it often enters my mind, perhaps because my late husband's mother was Cree.

Kent Monkman won't be celebrating on Canada's 150 years, neither will I.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Prayers For Peace - Wah Jhi Le Yihm - I Carry You With Me

Ulali Project - Wah Jhi Le Yihm

It's a day full of sorrow in Canada. In light of the violent attack on the mosque in Quebec City. It is difficult to know what to do in such tragic times. My prayer is that we will support those in mourning, who are suffering, that we will all be carrying them in our prayers and in whatever way we can, showing that we are standing with them, in solidarity, carrying them with us.

A Hopi Prayer for Peace
Contributed by: Billie Campbell

Great Spirit and all unseen, this day we pray and ask you for guidance, 
humbly we ask you to help us and fellow men to have recourse to peaceful ways 
of life, because of uncontrolled deceitfulness by humankind.

Help us all to love, not hate one another. We ask You to be seen in an image 
of Love and Peace. Let us be seen in beauty, the colors of the rainbows. We 
respect our Mother, the planet & our corn fields, with our loving care, from 
Her breast we receive our nourishment.

Let us not listen to the voices of the two-hearted, the destroyers of mind, 
the haters of self-made leaders, whose lusts for power and wealth will lead 
us into confusion and darkness. Seek visions always of world beauty, not 
violence not battlefields.

It is our duty to pray always for harmony between man and earth, so that the 
earth will bloom once more. Let us show our emblem of love and goodwill for 
all life and land.

Pray for the House of Glass, (United Nations) Pray for within it are minds 
clear and pure as ice and mountain streams. Pray for the great leaders of 
nations in the House of Mica who in their own quiet ways help the earth in 

We pray the Great Sprit that one day our Mother Earth will be purified into a 
healthy peaceful one. Let us Sing for strength of wisdom with all nations for 
the good of all people.

Our hope is not yet lost, purification must be to restore the health of our 
Mother Earth for lasting peace and happiness, Techqua Ikachi -- for Land and 

"Together with All Nations We Hold this World in Balance"
Hopi Elders
Hotevilla USA

"Wah Jhi Le Yihm"
 "this is a song for healing and giving back to the water and letting the
 water wash and clean and the spirit rise those are some of the words in
 the song. Wah Jhi Le Yihm… means I carry you with me… So…it means let 
the water carry you… It’s an ancestral song for the dead and the water 
as the sacred source…"

Saturday, January 28, 2017

RUMBLE - Robbie Robertson

 I never knew exactly or understood the historical connections between Indigenous, African American and Blues music though maybe I did on a intuitive level. Blues music has always been a big part of my life growing up til present day. My brother really introduced me to the Blues during the sixties through the music of Hound Dog Taylor and the House Rockers. He knew a lot about it historically, collecting so much music on the Chess and the Alligator labels, not to mention the many Blues magazines and books he subscribed to over many years.

 And so a couple of days ago I was fascinated and happy to find out about Catherine Bambridge, being a member of a film company called Rezolution Pictures. She is a writer, director and co-producer of RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World, a feature length documentary that premiered at Sundance in 2016. This documentary has been described as being the "missing chapter in the history of American music."

 Recently I've been reading a great new book by Robbie Robertson's, called Testimony, a Memoir.  He's among the many musicians I've long admired, featured in RUMBLE, and has always been one of my very favourite artists. I first heard him interviewed discussing his book on Q, then today for a third time on a repeat interview of Shelagh Roger's radio show, The Next Chapter.

 I could listen to Robbie for hours, he's such a natural born story teller. The stories he tells in his book are wonderfully rich and really engage the imagination, transporting you right to where he was in his personal and musical journey and will make you laugh out loud.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore

I'm saddened to hear that Mary Tyler Moore died. I spent all my youth watching and loving her on T.V. and  in film.

Like many young women growing up, there was so much for us to emulate about her. But mostly now, reflecting on her life, I clearly see she really was that real life woman, who made it after all, after having experienced so much hardship, loss and struggle. In spite of or perhaps because of this, she always remained so gracious, wise and beautiful.

The person she projected on screen, was very similar to who she was in reality and was always very easy to admire and love. She certainly was a woman of great talent, strength, wisdom, courage, honesty, humour and humility. The world sure needs more Mary Tyler Moores.

Rest in peace beautiful, kind soul.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Inspiration of Minerva Boran - She Ain't No Mugwump!

This afternoon I went for the 1.5 hour, what I'm calling the Canada Post imposed walk, because they moved our mailbox replacing the gross green box, with the super box about three miles away. I must say visually it is much easier on the eyes in spite of how green behind the gills I might be feeling, rather like a mugwump.

With a sore knee that is from an old injury and carrying around a resentment of having this imposed walk, I admit I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I wasn't even going to bother writing any blog posts today, which is unusual for me, because I write everyday and always find it very satisfying and rewarding. Today this unexpected post is therapeutic, which is a good thing indeed.

It was a very pleasant, mild, and foggy day, after yesterday's freezing rain storm, that resulted in school closures here, flooded basements and the like, along with provincial wide power outages in other spots beside Nova Scotia. Fortunately, we still had our power, which is amazing because we can't fart without loosing power.

Any way, as I was walking I thought to myself while passing by the small graveyard that is in our little village, how many people die, have died and are going to die.  I think about death a lot, maybe too much, and not enough about living. But as you get older this tends to happen and especially if you are someone who has experienced a lot of death of loved ones in your life, which I have had.

Now I'm thinking I should really focus on life, my life and how I can make it better, in whatever way I can, however I can, because life is really so very short and we never know how it can instantly change, or when it's our turn, to leave this mortal coil.

Later on I learned of a young woman who was part of our small community, and only 52 who died yesterday. It's a big loss to many especially for her family and friends. This event reinforced my thoughts about the fragility of life.

After I returned from my walk, not that I can say I really enjoyed it, but I'm extremely grateful for having been able to simply get outside in nature, in the countryside and walk regardless of my mental funk. Walking is so good for your mental health, and I certainly feel better for doing so. Walking gives me a chance to take an reflective inventory, and exercise I know  aligns my mind, heart and soul. It's a spiritual thing that happens without me even being fully aware of it.

Later I sat down at my computer and found this video of Minerva Boran. She's 101 and lives in a seniors residence in the town where I grew up. She is very much alive and doing something that she loves and I'm sure she knows and understands how important it is to her, dancing. But more than that, I think it's why she inspires every one else. She knows it's vital to be a participator in life, and is an example to us how not to simply be a bystander of life, on the side lines, watching as the world go by. Don't be a mugwump, get up and dance!

And so, I'm not going to be a mugwump! I'm looking forward to my next Canada Post walk and I'll have a few dances too! Thank you Minerva!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

"No More Asking Daddy" - Gloria Steinem

"No More Asking Daddy" - Gloria Steinem Women's March on Washington - January 21st 2017

A monumental day of unity for women world wide. The link above under the photo of women marching in Washington gives real insight into the power of women, and the power of people to organize and take action.

Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada - Women's March on Washington January 21st 2017

I remember specifically the words of Dr. Cornell West the "Jazz Man of Ideas''.

" We can advocate, have empathy and even protest but we need to organize and take action."

Thursday, January 19, 2017

" We Cannot Walk Alone "

I've been thinking today, about tomorrow, as much as I'd rather not. It causes me to feel a kind of surrealistic knot of disbelief, all the while the reality sticks in my gullet, and almost triggers a gag reflex when I think about what's going to happen tomorrow in Washington. I pray my sisters and brothers have a great march tomorrow in the unity of truth.

I cannot be there and so I'll post this. The Truth About Post Truth.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cassandro - The Queen of Lucha Libre

Cassandro (left), one of Mexico's highest profile wrestlers, takes to the ring in drag ( Chris Osburn)

Growing up in East End Toronto, my family was a stone's throw from Maple Leaf Gardens. Occasionally my father would take us to watch live wrestling matches that we'd usually only watch on T.V. during Saturday night wrestling.

 We relished in seeing wrestlers, the good, the bad, and the ugly, like the Stomper, Killer Carl Krupp, Whipper Billy Watson, The Stomper, Sweet Daddy Seeky, Lord Athol Layton, Bull Dog Brower and The Beast to name a few were some of the regular characters. That's was when wrasslin' was real wrasslin', or so we thought!

I think wrestling is very different than now. I'm not sure why I loved to watch wrestling, maybe it was a bonding thing with my father, but it was easy to get caught up in the energy charged atmosphere of seeing them live, along ringside. Wrestling has changed from those days and my interest has certainly waned, with the exception of, Mexican wrestling.

Instead of one great match that North American WWE offers, the Mexican masked wrestlers, part of Lucha Underground, offer consistent good to great matches in every episode, which is why it is so popular with fans.

What I really find fascinating and fun about Mexican masked wrestling, is it's theatrical qualities where matches are staged but not fake. The tradition of story telling is manifested by the use of mask, costume, story line and with the inclusion of women who stand head to head with men, are stronger in character, and continue the story line.

 Today my ears perked up when I heard The Doc Project on CBC Radio, featuring the Queen of Lucha Libre, and who changed Lucha Libre. What really impressed and touched me was this video I found of the American-born Mexican professional wrestler Saúl Armendáriz or whose ring name is Cassandro who has become part of the wrestling tradition of exóticos.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Chris Sears Photographer

"Question" - Chris Sears Photo/ Roncey Dogs

 As I've mentioned many times in my posts I love to learn about artists that I've never heard of, or who's  work I'm unfamiliar with, whether living or dead. This artist is very much alive and full disclosure, Chris Sears is a life long friend. We've known each other since our early awkward adolescence when we were hangin' out in the " Blue Room " at the old hole in the wall Y.M.C.A., in our home town Amherst, Nova Scotia.

That said, Chris and I both studied art, but I never saw a whole lot of his work until recently over the past few years. I'm really excited to know he'd been busily taking photographs all this while, creatively viewing the world through the lens of his camera.

Henri Cartier-Bresson once described photography as "a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture your eye must see, a composition or an expression that life itself offers you and must know with intuition when to click the camera . That is the moment the photographer is creative " he said Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it it is gone forever.".

Like Bresson Chris Sears photography through his own intuition, captures the significance, in that split second immediate reaction to what he sees, documenting the supposed inconsequential events of life into beautiful subject matter and transforms the tiny details of human life into what Bresson called "Leitmotiv".

Chris photographs cats, as he is like me is a great cat lover, as was Henri Cartier-Bresson who took wonderful photos of cats.

I've an real affinity and love for Toronto Ontario because I lived in the East End growing up and it's where I met the love of my life.
 Chris has been living in the big T.O for many years now. His street photographs of the city, make me very nostalgic and I especially love his dog portraits of Roncey Dogs because it's my old neighbourhood on Roncenvalles in High Park and I love dogs.

And so, I am absolutely delighted to be able to share with you this link to Chris Sears photography site.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Bread - The Chili - The Winter Storm

The Bread

The Chili

The Winter Storm

These three things are a good creative ways to find Hygge . A blazing wood fire, good music and cat snuggles all help to keep you warm and happy in the midst of a Winter storm and this first day of Old Christmas.

On the European Orthodox Christmas Holy Day my thoughts are of those that are in great need of love and warmth.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Laolu Senbanjo's - Everything Is His Canvas

Laolu Senbanjo

Here's a young contemporary artist living in New York, who's art and personality are very compelling. He impressed me so much, with his energetic talent so I had to find out more about him and his art. He's a testament to those who are committed to follow their dreams no matter what.

Laolu Senbanjo's art work is exciting, spiritual, socially conscious and epitomizes the phrase art is life and life is art. In the numerous ways he actualizes his creativity, is remarkable and life affirming.

There was a very insightful interview this morning on Q with Laolu that I invite you to listen, and check out his site which is full of his art and you can see some time lapsed videos of his incredible creations.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

John Koenig's Dictionary

The above photo of this list of word definitions I saw today, shared by a friend, and is from Graphic Designer John Koenig's site and I love this descriptive name, the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. Each word he's invented and derived etymologically from several languages and it a sort of mash-up of jargon that actually means something. I would never remember most these words, but I certainly love and appreciate John Koenig's very creative efforts to invent new words for feelings and emotions we can't explain with our standard present day words.

I'm sure the grammar police will not be happy about this, but language is forever actively changing, like people and can't nor should we attempt to contain or relegate them into one specific meaning. Language is a living thing. New words are always being invented and added to dictionaries.

I don't remember a time when I didn't love words and language. I find them all fascinating and I don't really know a whole lot about either other than I did study linguistics one semester as an elective in order to fulfill the requirements of my Bachelor of Fine Art degree.

There were many things I loved about linguistics, but I was really was pretty hopeless at figuring out all the basic semantic linguistic formulas. That was brutal and soon became what I call my nemesis. I passed the course by the skin of my teeth, but I'm so glad I took it, after learning so much about what it means to be a human being. I think linguistics is something every one would benefit from studying.

When I was a little girl, maybe about 6 or 7 years old, I watched a T.V. show on old our black and white, during the early hours of the weekend mornings, when every one else was still in bed. The show featured a what appeared to me, as being the perfect family living in Paris and so of course they only spoke Parisian French. I had no clue what they were saying, but I loved to listen to them speak, imagining what it'd be like to live in beautiful Paris as part of this family, speaking such a beautiful language.

I attribute my love of language to my mother, who faithfully completed a difficult crossword everyday from the newspaper. We both had a love of words and some of our favourites  being, milk toast, lugubrious, balderdash and ort. I'll never forget that one, meaning food morsel, I learned from my mother. It's a great word for playing scrabble.

When people would mispronounce words, this was a real bugaboo for my mother and she was always quick to correct, not anyone else, just me. I appreciate that she did do this, because I became conscious of the words I used to express myself. Mispronunciations quickly became my bugaboo over time. It doesn't bother me now, especially after studying linguistics. I do however take note, but certainly refrain from ever correcting anyone, which would be just plain rude. I'll leave that up to the annoying grammar police, that drive themselves mad with perfectionism.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Cowboy With Hemorrhoids

 I once heard a fellow recovering alcoholic say that giving an alcoholic a medallion for sobriety is like giving a cowboy with hemorrhoids a medal for not getting on his horse.

Having been given a handful of medallions over the years, what I'm forever grateful for is all those in the program that have helped me to find my way to live  life through a fellowship second to none.

 I could never meaningfully apply my spiritual beliefs until recovery found me. Today, January 2nd 2017 marks twenty-three years of sobriety, which gave me back my life and I've been able to accomplish things I could never have imagined doing without the fellowship. I'm so grateful to have become the sober creative person I was meant to be, and without having a good sense of humour I'd be dead long in the water.

 Learning to carry only the weight of twenty-four hours, not dwelling on the past, not projecting into the future and really focusing on the present, has enabled me to leave unkindness and bitterness behind. Letting go of resentments, my sense of failure and disappointments have no place in my life now. I'm grateful to be moving forward  into this new year and into a new life with wisdom and strength that only comes from the God of my understanding.

Marsh Buddies - Catherine Meyers