Thursday, December 03, 2015

I Believe in Music I Believe in Love

I Believe in Music - Gallery
(from one of the first albums I ever owned)

What a week it was! Epic for me - 5 concerts in seven days. It didn't start off to be a marathon but when the musical bug just have to go with it! I follow the music to where it takes me. 

Last month I saw Carleton Stone and his new band Port Cities, Alvvays and Alana Yorke to name a few when I volunteered with the Halifax Pop Explosion. I also attended the Nova Scotia Symphony for a performance conducted by Howard Cable and a public performance at the museum. And I saw Kevin Kane (of Grapes of Wrath fame) and Bryan Potvin (of The Northern Pikes) who are now collaborating. 

Coming soon...Matthew Good and Great Lake Swimmers and a re-schedule for In-Flight Safety

Groundswell Music Festival

This was the inaugural year for the Groundswell Music Festival and was the brainchild of Rawlins Cross piper Ian McKinnon. It seems that there were two local bands wishing to hold events in celebration of their upcoming CD releases. That's a party in the making! With a little extra effort it became a weekend of celebrating local music, food and drink. 

Chef Live came on board offering 3 locally sourced dishes and for the record the Lobster Mac and Cheese could have held a stage on its own for the tasters cheered as loud for this dish as for some of the music. Ok, not really but you get that it was really good right :)

Jost Wineries and Garrison Brewery jumped aboard to make sure that the festival goers remained well hydrated. Garrison even developed a special brew they coined Modus HOPerandi to honour the Stanfields new release.

But none of that, as good as it was in the end, was the reason that I attended the Groundswell Music Festival. I saw the poster on what has become my most reliable news source for the local entertainment scene - the telephone pole on the street. Rawlins Cross, The Stanfields and the Town Heroes were headlining. I knew I had to be there somehow. 

As soon as I got home, I looked up the website and sent an email offering my services as volunteer extraordinaire. I have the enthusiasm to be sure!  

The first night, I got to the Olympic Hall in plenty of time to meet some of my fellow volunteers and set up our station. I felt almost giddy as I watched musicians, radio personalities and fans mill about. From the vantage point of selling food and drink tickets to guests, it was amazing to see the enthusiasm from other fans as well. Is it as hard for anyone else to not run up to their idols and gush about how much you enjoy their work/performance?

Hillsburn was the opening act on that first night and I'm not going to make the mistake of saying if they are from Lower Musquodoboit Harbour or Upper or even Middle - because I was schooled enough to know there is a difference and don't mix them up. Let's just say they are a local band. Articles I had read previously called them one of the "must see" bands and they weren't kidding. There was high energy stage presence accompanying the pop-folk style of song. Interestingly, making this festival a real family affair, one of the founding members of Hillsburn Clayton Burrill (who's sister is lead singer Rosanna) was the volunteer coordinator. Thanks for the opportunity to be a part of this inaugural event. I'll be back again to help out and to see Hillsburn!

I knew Rawlins Cross and had been listening to them for many years, but had never before had the chance to see a live performance. The band that formed in Newfoundland had their first hit back in 1989 when their release "Colleen" made the top 10 for alternative Toronto radio station CFNY. Heavy on the bagpipes it was like nothing before on mainstream (or alternative) Canadian radio. For the next ten years, the album count grew to 6 and the awards and accolades piled on. And then there was a hiatus. This performance was part of the revival of Rawlins Cross and I am thrilled I was a part of it. It's amazing to watch Ian McKinnon seamlessly switch between playing the pipes to the tin flute and back within a single tune. Rock fused with the bagpipes is a genre that is of its own and the energy from the stage is quickly transformed onto the dance floor. You just cannot sit still. I sat at my table, feet dancing and counting change to the beat! 

The second night of the festival, I found myself at my same post eagerly awaiting another fabulous night of music, food and drink. I got to know one of my fellow volunteers a bit more and learned that he is an aspiring musician as well and connected with many of the festival organizers himself. Buy those drums my friend and play those drums and maybe I'll see you on stage one day too. Where it is a career or a sideline, music matters in life. 

This was not my first time seeing The Mike Bochoff Band, the first was earlier this year at the In the Dead of Winter Festival. One of the things that really impresses me about this band is that Mike remembers me. That says a lot considering all the people a musician encounters at the many shows they perform. I made a point of talking with Mike on each occasion I saw him to share my enthusiasm for his music. His on-stage presence is really high energy and you can tell he loves it up there! And I was thrilled that I got to hear my favourite song of theirs "The Death Song." Amazing.

After a brief intermission, The Town Heroes took the stage and to my surprise (never having seen them before) they are a duo. There are two phrases that are often associated with The Town Heroes, 1) they try to make the most noise two Cape Bretoners can make and 2) they host a party you wish you were at. And they delivered on both counts on this night. They were celebrating the release of their new CD "Please, Everyone" and celebrate they did. The energy in the room was contagious. This was truly a festival to celebrate the music and as I mentioned before there were many artists in attendance. During the final set of songs, they were all invited up on stage to join in the singing and partying. There were members of the Stanfields, Hillsburn, Rawlins Cross and of course the Mike Bochoff Band - that I recognized as a mass on stage. It was a rousing end to a fabulous evening.  

In The Dead of Winter

To be clear this wasn't the festival itself but a fundraising show leading up to the main event in January. The Company House was the setting for this dine and song event. Matthew Hornell was on stage with a fellow musician he has recently been touring with, Andrew Sneddon. It was a low-key acoustic set. The audience was too small for such a fabulous performance in my opinion. But the people that were there were very appreciative of the Bluegrass folk music and the banter between the two musicians on stage as they alternately shared stories of the songs origins or learning to play them. I was there for the music and so was most of the audience oh and the food which was cooking as we listened. It was like sitting in the living room of a private home, the audience could easily interact with talent onstage. It was a more personal experience. I loved hearing the backstories of some of the songs. I hope to return to support some of the other artists featured for more Soup and Song. 

Grey Lands and Elliot BROOD

Back to my favourite musical venue in the city The Carleton Music Bar and Grill for a mid week performance. I almost didn't go to this show as it had already been a busy week as I had just celebrated another turn around the sun and was feeling it. 

I became aware of Grey Lands during a YouTube search one day quite some time ago. Wayne Petti of Cuff the Duke fame had branched off to do some solo work and had collaborated with some heavy hitters on the Canadian music scene like Greg Keelor and Joel Plaskett. The songs were amazing and although I knew I wouldn't be hearing those specific duets, I decided to go anyway. I have not seen Cuff the Duke live, but I have seen Wayne Petti, before I knew who he was. He had been a guest artist at one of the first Blue Rodeo shows I saw. I didn't know who he was but it didn't take long to figure out, and he has shown up as a guest at other Blue Rodeo appearances. It was that very first encounter that we talked about after his show that night. As for Grey Lands the band...go see Wayne in whatever form he takes, you won't be sorry.

It is my practice to not research a new artist before I go and see them as I like to keep an open mind. I have found that some artists I like recorded I don't like as much live and vice versa. So all I had to go on before Elliot BROOD hit the stage was the enthusiasm of my bar mates and indeed the owner of the Carleton himself. And they seemed normal enough as they sat further down the bar having a bite to eat :). The music was loud and edgy with a country feel especially with the banjo picking. For most of the double set, guitarist Casey Laforet sat on a case, making the whole show feel a little more intimate. A bunch of people sitting around in a living room just jamming - the Carleton itself helps with that sensation. Mark Sasso on the vocals and banjo took the music to that next level and his passion was evident. CBC Music had this to say about the band, "Death Country - dark, gritty folk soul music built around whiskey - drenched vocals and lyrics evoking images of love, loss and murder". I might agree with that for the live performance but I heard something beneath the grit and when I researched some of the songs I heard when I got home, my instinct was true. Check out Northern Air and I think you will agree. 

Yukon Blonde and Hey Rosetta!

This was another of those last minute ticket purchase. Not in last minute as before the show but rather last minute before they sold out. I don't think there is a bad seat in the house at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, so I was happy to get whatever was available. It was a little easier because I was only looking for one seat. I lucked out with an edge seat about 15 rows back. 

Yukon Blonde was the opening act. Although they have been working the Alternative musical scene for a number of years, they only recently had their first rock hit with "Stairway". Yukon Blonde sure knows how to work an audience though, for most of their set they had the audience up and moving, clapping and helping to sing. It was a high energy performance that culminated with the "I hear you callin' out" refrain echoed throughout the auditorium.

Limited Edition signed and numbered poster
The main act was Hey Rosetta! an east coast favourite band hailing from Newfoundland. The young lady beside me was eager to share her enthusiasm for this band with me. She was thrilled with their live performance and still in awe of how they fit all seven band members on the stage with all the equipment and instruments. The stage was decorated with strategically placed bare bulb light fixtures that lit up with varying intensity seemingly in time with the music and every time they did the audience was quick to show their appreciation. It was really cool looking and adding to the performance. One of the absolutely amazing things about this band is their musical ability. Every band member played several instruments and often moved to another part of the stage to switch roles with other members. The cellist made room for the violinist to take her place on the keyboard while he held onto the cello. Although founder Tim Baker is the lead singer, he also wears several instrumental hats, including keys and guitar. With the addition of strings, horns, keys, and various percussion to the standard band, with Hey Rosetta! you get a high energy performance with many layers of musical bliss - like a phyllo pastry desert that you don't enjoy sitting still. 

The encore for this show saw Yukon Blonde return to the stage to perform the "duet" with Hey Rosetta! that became an Anti-Harper protest song before the recent federal election in Canada. Entitled Land That You Love, it was great to hear it live! 


A few pictures follow the Credits and Links

Credits and Links:
Carleton Stone -
Port Cities -
Alvvays -
Alana Yorke -
Halifax Pop Explosion -
Nova Scotia Symphony -
Howard Cable -
Kevin Kane -
Grapes of Wrath -
Bryan Potvin -
Northern Pikes -
Matthew Good -
Great Lakes Swimmers -
In-Flight Safety -
Groundswell Music Festival -
Chef Live -
Jost Wineries -
Garrison Brewery -
The Stanfields              -
Hillsburn -
Rawlins Cross -
Mike Bochoff Band -
In the Dead of Winter Festival
The Town Heroes -
The Company House -
Matthew Hornell -
with Andrew Sneddon -           hornell-andrew-sneddon/
The Carleton Music Bar and Grill -
Grey Lands -
Cuff the Duke -
Blue Rodeo -
Greg Keelor -
Joel Plaskett -
Elliot BROOD -
CBC music!/artists/Elliott-BROOD
Northern Air
Rebecca Cohn Auditorium -
Yukon Blonde -
Stairway -
Hey Rosetta! -
Land That You Love -         v=ZnU8V7gsjok

Kevin Kane (l) Grapes of Wrath and Bryan Potvin (r) of Northern Pikes

Groundswell Music Festival


Rawlins Cross

Mike Bochoff Band

The Town Heroes

The Town Heroes and Friends

Andrew Sheddon (l) and Matt Hornell

Grey Lands with Wayne Petti (c)

Elliot BROOD minus drummer (sorry)

Yukon Blonde

Hey Rosetta!
Enjoy the pictures but please don't steal them...thanks! 

Friday, November 06, 2015

Tortured Genius and the Final Conclusion

Be Yourself - Audioslave

To Thine Own Self Be True. It's not an easy mantra to live by but I tried. We are all influenced by various factors in our lives. Traumatic events, abuse, self-doubt and with the constant bombardment of "Hollywood Perfection" we struggle to cope with self-love. Not easy to accept and be yourself. I think I was mostly successful.

By the time I had my children, I liked myself pretty well. Yeah, maybe lose that excess baby weight but, as a person, I could look in the mirror or in the eyes of my children and know I was okay! Although I was at times terrified knowing that I could not call my mom for her sage wisdom and advise, I was in fact ready for motherhood and knew I could rock that role! Go ME!

That was the kind of self-confidence I was dealing with at that time of my life.

Ten years later, I had made the decision to part ways with my then husband. I told the kids we would be moving wherever I got a job. I ended up with a job in the Toronto area and so we packed up our lives and moved. Life was good and after settling down I had a quick change of employeers to the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. I had a split school situation that year and to find my place in the organization, I chose to find a location the following year where I could be full time in one setting.

That year I met the first two of three Terri's that would come to mean a whole lot to me, they were classroom teachers. The student I worked with was amazing, the staff at the school was great. It was a wonderful time. Financially I had to take a second job teaching piano to make ends meet as support from the ex was not forthcoming.

It was the third year with the board that things changed. The school, staff and student were all the same but the classroom teacher was different. She believed my role to be "slave" for my CP student rather than assistant. She said I was working myself out of a job. She insisted on everything being done for him before he even decided himself that he wanted help. She made my role in her classroom very uncomfortable but I sucked it up. I didn't realize that there was a profound change in my demeanour until the custodian commented that I never smile anymore. On my breaks, I would write profusely about what was going on and she took great offence to that thinking I was writing untruths about her. My daily planner never left my side and I pleaded with the powers that be to cut me some slack.

The family of my student moved the following year so a transfer of location was in the cards for me too. As an aside, the parents of the student were aware that I was being handcuffed from doing my job as they saw a regression in the ability of their son. He was refusing to do anything independently whether it was put his coat on or propel his own wheelchair, even practicing with the walker had taken a dramatic slide. Years later I met them in a store and they reminded me how valuable I had been for their son compared to the other support he has had. It made me feel grateful that I had been able to tough it out for his sake and the validation of a job well done didn't hurt either.

It is difficult for me every September on that first day meeting all the new students and with increasing frequency for me, new staff as well. But as many difficulties we face in life we "suck it up". And so I did. It was really no different every evening that I walked into the piano student not knowing if I had a new student or a make-up lesson for another teachers student. Exposing myself to the the unknown was a part of my life whether I was comfortable with it or not. I doubt many people even recognized my inner turmoil.

Year 4 was a professional success and I met some amazing people that are still a part of my life. But as that year ended, declining populations dictated that I once again be moved. I could have used my growing seniority to insist on remaining but I took the moral high road and sucked it up. In hindsight...well, hindsight is always 20/20.

Year 5 was the year from hell. By the end of the first week, I was begging and pleading to be moved to a different location. On the first day, I walked into the school to introduce myself and the principal barked at me and I immediately cowered. And unfortunately time would prove that that in fact was the most civil she ever spoke to me. Not that I gave her a lot of opportunity, I did my job and avoided her like the plague. In the mornings, I would arrive and sit in my car until my yard duty started and then to avoid being stared at by her, I would hide behind trees. She would later claim that I was late every day because she never saw me in the staff room or in the yard. I won't get into all the details of her levels of madness, partly because it is still too distressing and partly because I have blocked many of the memories out and only know what I do because I have copious amounts of daily notations. The student I worked with bore the brunt of the abuse on my behalf. An autistic child with whom I had an excellent relationship with, and his mother and the classroom teacher too.

There was no denying what was going on but it was a school community that lived in fear of the principal. I was her current target. If I had the day off, when I returned I would be chastised for some behaviour that allegedly occurred by my student in my absence. I sucked up this degradation to my character and professionalism until March Break. I had been crying everyday on my way to and home from work for months. I saw my doctor during the break and he knew immediately that things were not okay, he approved an extended leave from work. The board said that I was angry. While I think I had every right to be, I was more frustrated and demoralized than anything else.

I eventually made it back to work at the beginning of June, but not before assurances dictated by my physician that it would not be to that place of torture. I could never be made to return. I would not even go back to collect my personal belongings. According to the teacher who did it for me, guess who hovered like a hawk to see what I had? Was she looking for journals or personal writings?

The rest of my career was spent in a single setting. A setting where my strengths as an Educational Assistant were really able to shine, a high school. Two good years were followed by a change in department head whose greeting to me in September was "I never liked you from the moment I first met you". Well hello boss! Yikes! I had two more long term leaves of absence under her rule and it became my last school placement.

In a brief nutshell. it was December 2010 and I was transferred to a school where the worst of the abuse started for me with the board. I was to start after Christmas break. I never went back again. I could not go back to the place of so much trauma. I had a profound understanding of PTSD and the fear of going back to the pain. That placement letter was the bomb that exploded in my head.

Knowing I was good at my job but they didn't like me I tried to change myself. That's when the distorted eating and extreme self-loathing came into play and remains a struggle. My doctor was supportive of my mental struggles and I started seeing someone professionally in late February 2011.

When the first round of papers came up after my sick days were done in March and I had squeezed all I could out of EI, I called upon our former union rep to help me fill out the multitude of overwhelming legal papers. She was awesome and I was soon (less than 1 year later) approved for both CPP-D and mortgage insurance coverage. For the record I don't understand how anyone of sound-mind could navigate all those forms let alone someone who is struggling either physically or mentally!

The board insurance company stood firm on their denial of benefits. They claimed that any trauma/breakdown I was suffering was due to a car accident I had been involved in 40 years previously. And while that accident was horrific, the two simply weren't related beyond affecting how I viewed the world and leaving me vulnerable to the maltreatment of others.

Anyways, denial upon denial and we kept going up the ladder of corporate fish at the Insurance Company. All this time, the former union rep was supporting me. But mentally I was getting worse. Lawyers wouldn't touch it because I had a union and they should be fighting for me. Our union with the new president was shit, a board patsy! So, my union friend became my legal representative and with that designation and some lawyer-ish documents I was finally approved for short-term LTD. Meaning that they decided that I could not work at my previous job. But I received that designation in May 2013, covering me for the previous 2 years that expired April 2013!

And so mentally and physically unable to fight anymore and on the verge of losing my house (mortgage insurance only covered 2 years), I decided to leave. But before I did I hired a lawyer that specialized in disability cases. Upon reviewing all the paper etc he decided to take on the case. Yes, he cost money but I had long passed the point where I was capable of opening any mail that came to the house. Bills terrified me because I knew I couldn't pay them. Seeing the Board letterhead on an envelope caused me extreme anxiety and the demeaning and belittling tone they took on the phone had me screening every call that came in. If I was going to leave my residence, I would have to leave forwarding information. We decided that the lawyer would handle all communication with the Board and Insurance company from here on in. He took care of all the paperwork and BS from my tormentors and gave me peace of mind.

Faith of the Heart - Rod Stewart

Earlier this year, I was sent to see a psychiatrist appointed by the Insurance Company. I felt confident that he would indeed remain unbiased and not blame my Mother for what happened with the Board. My faith was misplaced. He took my words and the words of my professionals and twisted them, for they all knew me well enough to know that I am of at least average intelligence. His determination could have concluded the case, but he decided that with my ability to write my blogs and volunteer that I was smart enough to be retrained.

Logistically I was over the half-century mark in years on earth and by the time re-training was complete, I wonder how many employers would jump at hiring someone closer to Alzheimer's age rather than a 20 something ready to conquer the world. Did this re-training come with assurance that I would be employed and not lose my benefits on top of everything else? You have to look at the whole picture...not just the spot in the middle that is in focus. I had a career that I lost...not a job at MacDonalds that could be replaced by going to Wendy's!

Now, if you had asked me, I could have told you I'm smart. I was smart when I was 12 after my Mom and sisters passed away. I was still smart after my brother passed away when I was 22. And for the next 30 some years my intelligence level, if anything increased as opposed to going in the opposite direction. My intelligence saved me because I used it to keep myself going - I wrote about it all. All my life I've been writing. But even perfect diamond can crack with the right blow.

According to Psychology Today there is relationship between high intelligence/creativity and mental illness, although it is not a mutual exclusive relationship. You can have one without the other, but I bring up the concept as it relates to me. I think that it unreasonable for that psychiatrist that I saw to assume that a change of career will somehow cure my depression and anxiety.

Kurt Cobain was a tortured musical soul who took his own life, should we have taken the guitar from his hands and given him an accountants ledger instead? Would training Robin Williams to be a bus driver have saved his life? Could training me as an x-ray technician have made what happened at the Board go away? Or would it make it okay for them to hurt me? In many instances talent and demons seem to go hand in hand, in my case the demons where living and breathing members of the School Board. I couldn't make them go away.

October 2015, nearing 5 years off work and a decision was finally made. A settlement was reached. I paid a high price for the suffering that was doled out to me. If the same people had come to my home and robbed me of my personal belongings there would be some form of justice, they would be held accountable in some way. But my perpetrators/demons robbed me of my livelihood and career, the life I had worked so hard for. My house, my dreams, my life. I have to start over.

But at least I can start over. Not everyone has the stubbornness to want to prove them wrong. To prove that I am okay. That you didn't beat me, you broke me. There is a difference!

It wasn't easy and I don't wish these types of struggles on anyone. I wish I believed in karma so I could wait for the day when justice will be meted out, but instead they will become non-people to me. I write them off and give them no more space in my mind.

*If you or someone you know is struggling with abuse at the hands of their employer please support them anyway you can and understand that mental illness just means that we are given more than we can handle. We each have a cup that can "runneth over" and each one is of a different size.
Many of my supervisors were bullies who sensed the weaker in the herd to prey upon, no different than the schoolyard bully that we warn our children about. When the term schoolyard bully is uttered, everyone in that yard should be suspect - including teachers and principals. Sometimes they are also psychopaths.
FYI: I don't have a hate on for teachers. My mother and the most influential people in my life were teachers.

*If you know someone who is fighting for Long-Term Disability, know you don't have to fight alone. There is help out there. Don't be afraid to ask for it. You're worth it. Please, do not try to scam the system because it makes life so much harder for those of us who need the support for real.


Credit where credit is due:
Psychology Today
Huffington Post

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

True North Strong and Free, Now with Sunny Days :)

Stealing All My Dreams - Blue Rodeo

I first heard this song back in April of 2015 and being a self-professed Keelorite I was immediately drawn to it for that factor alone. But like the rest of Greg Keelor's body of work, I loved it because of what he had to say and how he said it. Greg's songs tend to have deep personal meaning for me and for the record, this is not his first protest song. I figure that Greg in his youth was probably the first one at a Sit In encouraging his peers to not "Stand for It." Just before the end of the election, Blue Rodeo released the song as a call to action. Smart move, it got people talking.

It is October 2015 and Canada is in the midst of one of the longest election campaigns in the country's history. Now, I'm not a staunch political person and I sure don't understand the reasoning behind the tremendous waste of money that went along with nearly 80 days of campaigning. But over that length of time it sure gave the average citizen the chance to hear all about the political promises of 3 men vying for the top position in the country, Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair. There were other smaller players in the game like Elizabeth May (Green Party) and Gilles Duceppe (Bloc Quebecois) also.

There has been a growing dislike for the current Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper for some time. That sentiment just grew as time went on. I had issues from the first campaign advertisement I heard that was not full of rainbows and promises but attacks upon the perceived greatest threat to Harper, one Justin Trudeau. In my world, there is no time or place for the bashing of another human being especially for personal gain.

There were many reasons cropping up on social media to Stop Harper. He was known for taking a back pocket position in the pants (near the farts and smell, not the wallet) of the corporate world. He seemed to speak for them more than citizen tax-payer. We faced such issues as the preservation of the environment, (what Kyoto protocol?) the safety and security of the people, scientist and researchers were handcuffed trying to do their job and slapped with gag orders (of a sort). And while the people were questioning their dwindling rights to freedom of speech, the oil companies were allowed to bleed us dry and don't get me started on fracking

The only non-partisan source for news and information about our people and our country, the CBC has been decimated. Consider Clara Hughes fundraisers for Mental Health "Let's Talk" and "Clara's Big Ride" which are sponsored in part by Bell Canada. The CBC and Bell owned television stations supported and promoted this worthy cause but nary a word was spoken on Rogers owned stations. This is one example proving we need the CBC for fair and honest, non-judgmental information. News, sports, music, culture, entertainment "By the people For the people."

In my humble opinion, it is the lack of funding for the CBC that sold off our national dream sport of hockey to public enterprise and left it inaccessible to many without a Rogers account. Hockey knitted communities together from one end of this nation to another. In the most remote corners of this country, you could always get an antennae and access the CBC and come together. Not so much anymore.  

The sky-rocketing incidence of missing and murdered indigenous women was just not very high on Harpers list of priorities. The veterans who made this country what it is today were cut off from services and support at the same time that incidences of PTSD among the military personnel was exploding. 

Last (for the purposes of this missive but by no means the last of the atrocities committed by Mr. Harper), at a time when on-line shopping is increasing and delivery is necessary to complete the transaction, Canada Post has become a former shell of itself. Door-to-door delivery is all but gone. The elderly are encouraged to stay in their homes avoiding long-term facilities but many are unable to access their mail which is now a potentially hazardous journey. Even the able-bodied have issues with the lack of service and inaccessibility and safety of retrieving their mail. Winter in Canada is not community mailbox friendly.

Lots of reasons to Heave Steve. 

Much of what I've said could easily have been shared long before the election. But I think people should make up their own minds. Besides, I am in some part responsible for the long tenure that Stephen Harper did have. In typical Canadian fashion we forgive and hope for better until we can't take it anymore. 

Sunny Days Victory Speech Soundbite

I'm not saying I voted for Justin Trudeau and I'm not saying I didn't. But one thing you can be sure of is I didn't approve of what Stephen Harper was doing to the country. But in the aftermath I find myself wondering what good he did do during his tenure. I put out a honest request on Facebook to help jog my memory. Instead of a jog I am barely sauntering. Maybe with time it will become clear?

Map courtesy National Post

I wanted change. Canada wanted change. We got change but I was hoping for a little more colour in the political map. Democracy works best when there is a little devil looking over your shoulder. The morning after the election, I wasn't surprised by the victory of Justin Trudeau, what I was surprised by was the near annihilation of the New Democratic Party who's popularity fell below the Conservatives. I would have preferred a little more power for a dual-opposition party to hold the current government accountable. 

Mr. Mulcair, I have only one question for you. Who was going to pay for your $15/day childcare plan? The aging Canadian population who is closer to retirement than child-bearing age? Although I understand that there are some people in true need of such a program, I object to paying for the childcare of people who live in a 2 income household so they can maintain their "mansion" in the burbs, cottage in the north, and annual summer vacay in the south.
No it is not statistically based but my views are based on facts derived from my experience in the system. How about paying the Childcare Workers a little more of a living wage? Many are making barely above minimum wage with no benefits. Hardly enough to pay off the college loans and certainly not enough to afford their own children.  

Mr. Harper, I applaud your actions which did stabalize our economy but at what cost? I don't think it much matters that we are an economically viable country if we have no country left. There are economies in some Asian countries that are booming also...and they can't breath the very air that surrounds them. I can't be the only one that sees a problem with protecting the economy at the expense of the environment and the people!

Below is a graphic that illustrates the change in tide of Canadians leading up to the October 19, 2015 election that led to a Liberal majority government, and Stephen Harper stepping down as party leader. In the end 54% of votes went to the Liberals (LPC), 29% for the Conservatives (CPC), 13% for the New Democrats (NDP), the Bloc took 10% and the Green Party took one seat. 

The people of Canada, in the end spoke loudly. More than 68% of eligible voters cast a ballot to make their voice heard. Although that figure is 7% higher than the last election it still falls short of the 80% average of the late 1950's and early 1960's. 

So we will see how this plays out. Worse comes to worse, we will have the opportunity for a do-over. Because Canada is true, north, strong and free and a democracy.

Fools Like You by Blue Rodeo

By the way, this is not the only protest song released by Blue Rodeo. Nor is Blue Rodeo the only group to release a political or other protest song. In this election campaign alone Google tells me there were 10 songs. 

For the naysayers who think that artists like Blue Rodeo should "Shut up and sing" instead of the wealthy and well-known telling us what to think. May I introduce you to the television commercial? Have you heard of product placement? Has a politician ever tried to garner your vote? Has your boss/union/or life partner tried to sway your opinion? Have you ever buckled under peer pressure? 

You want to boycott Blue Rodeo because they jumped into the political arena, go's your choice (democracy and freedom of speech in action). But, how many artists are you willing to not listen to for the same reason? Go back in history and consider the following very small sampling. 

The Times They Are A-Changing - Bob Dylan
Eve of Destruction - Barry McGuire
Smoking Gun - Blue Rodeo
We Shall Overcome - Joan Baez and others
Get Up Stand Up - Bob Marley
Ohio - Neil Young
Fools Like You - Blue Rodeo


Your pipeline will spill its disease
You shut down all the research libraries
And you muzzled all the white coats in your laboratories
Then you set your sites on the CBC

You’re stealing all my dreams
You’re stealing all my dreams

Whatever happened to our democracy?
Well, this train came into town, the Reform Party
Little King, Stevie, & his monarchy
Behind the closed doors of corporate-ocrasy

You’re stealing all my dreams
You’re stealing all my dreams

He likes an enemy conspiracy
Greatest threat to mass security
He’ll throw me in jail cause I disagree
And I’m so scared of your oil industry

‘Cuz I love the rivers & I love the stream
But, I’m scared for the children & the babies
I love the forest & I love the trees
Have you forgotten that you work for me?
You can start by honoring a treaty

You’re stealing all my dreams
You’re stealing all my dreams

War planes, computer games, robo-calls & Senate shame
It’s a crime if I descent
Supreme Court held in your contempt

Native women, not a priority
Sometimes I wonder... just how you sleep?

You’re stealing all my dreams...

2015 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his newly appointed cabinet

Proof of facts in the song
Finding the song lyrics
Clara Hughes
Map courtesy of National Post - see more maps here

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Movers and Shakers!

No Regrets - Tom Cochrane

The summer of 2015 will go down as the summer of movers and shakers. For me at least, because it seems that every other person I talk to is planning a move and before they go there is a lot of shaking going on! To be honest the shaking is probably the dust flying around upon being disturbed after so many years. I know you can all relate! :)

I moved two years ago now and always said I would write about the disaster that was that move, if only to warn people. It has been locked up (where it will continue to stay) until I feel strong enough to revisit that stressful period in my life. 

But once the moving part was settled, it was the best thing I could have done for myself - and yes, it was totally selfish. From that move came an awesome circle of friends and supporters that just seems to grow. Some say it is the nature of the east coast. Some say it's not a reality at all. I think maybe it might be the sea air and salt water! Really, I don't know because all of the good people don't have maritime blood in their veins but they do have hearts of gold.

Before I got here, one had left to go back to her home town of Boston and one had left my life but not my heart. Others I knew from years ago I have been able to reconnect with. And in this wonderful city I found other kindred spirits. One I said "farewell" to just last week.

Lake Baikal in Siberia - The deepest lake on earth
When I tell people she is moving to Siberia, nobody believes me. They make jokes like "nobody willingly goes to Siberia, they get sent there for punishment - what did she do wrong?" All I know is that she is following her love there and it is a question of work options and experience. The only thing that most people know about Siberia is that it is cold and big. I think that there are some people that think that is an accurate description of Canada as well. But first hand knowledge has taught me different - maybe her experiences there will teach me a little something about Siberia too. 

Before she left we got in as much friend time as we could and we made some fabulous memories and she left me with a broader circle of friends that I can also call my own. 

The cat doesn't understand why the hiding
places are disappearing
Her father and sister came to help her with this massive transition and to spend some extra time with her as well. Her father is European and spoke of when he made the move across the ocean to Canada and it got me to thinking about possessions. When the early immigrants crossed the Atlantic to land on the shores of this "new" country they barely had the clothes on their backs and maybe one suitcase. Everything was left behind but the basics and few mementos. It doesn't seem that there was the attachment to stuff that we have now. But is that a bad thing?

One day, the time comes for all (or most) of us to move. Even if it is just the transition from our childhood home to our own place, we have to pull our "stuff" out from the nooks and crannies where we stored it and box it up. We look at each piece and go through a gamut of emotions. A fond memory or a question of our sanity. We all have those things hidden away that we look at and go "what was I thinking when I decided to keep that". And then pretending to throw it out we toss it slyly into the box of treasures hoping that no one noticed. 

Unless you have done it yourself recently, you have no idea how much stuff can accumulate under our noses without our really paying much attention. The number of calculators, pens and tape dispensers that I came across when I packed is a classic example of how we consume and collect. You can't find tape, you buy a new one. Calculator doesn't work you buy a new one and forget to toss the broken one. It's not until you are forced to box up your life that you can take a good look at your life collection a piece at a time. Then you look back in wonder at how it all fit in that tiny space.

We are afraid to let go of friends, family, love and even stuff. The stuff is a tangible reminder of our life. When we move, we are leaving the familiar and comfortable. Our things are our safety link, they represent our sense of purpose and belonging. Our security blanket shrouding the unknown. 

It is exciting to move but it is also terrifying. New adventures and experiences lie ahead but our physical memories are left behind. The bite marks in the venetian blinds that we made as children only fit the window of my childhood home. Never again will I sit with my daughter under the tree we planted in her childhood home to commemorate her birth. Never again will I look fondly at the spot where my brother stood the last time he visited me before he died.

This is were cameras can play a crucial role. Sometimes taking a picture helps us to let go of stuff - although admittedly it is not always easy. I have tried to capture in still or moving pictures a record of the homes I have lived in. Caring for the collection of stuffed animals that my children amassed got to be too much (so we took pictures to serve as memory placeholders) and gave them away. And no I am not talking about Pink Panthers :)

Just for the record 4 large bins and 3 boxes of them and some left in storage. Don't judge me! lol!

Home - The Devin Cuddy Band

As for the others that are moving. I have come to the decision that the home that I made for my children is being sold as the good memories have left the physical structure and remain with me and them. I am proud of what we accomplished in that modest home and if I could pick it up and move it far away from the pain that is there now I would. It's not the house, it's not the neighbours - it's the part of my life that was destroyed by those that remain nameless at my workplace.

A family member sold their home after years of saying they would, they finally took the plunge. I wonder if they will be judged as I was for having stuff? And although I haven't seen the new home it is my understanding that this move means some serious downsizing!

The mother of a friend is doing exactly what I did in reverse several years ago. She is leaving her family here and heading west. She'll be missed. She was a friend to me as well.

Miss You HM
Adding to the chaos and upheaval, the Siberia-bound friend is also selling her own childhood home with some family members. More nooks and crannies to peer into and memories to treasure. Another family will move in and find love in those walls.

One child moved to a new place a couple of months ago and the other child is soon moving to a new place. Ironically, neither moving too far from their previous address but a life change none-the-less. I wish for them that the year of Champagne Wishes carries on for a lifetime! 

As fall approaches I am sure that the upheaval will settle along with the dust and life will go on with some of us having a different view of the world. Good luck to all those in transition.

credit Where credit is due:
Siberia picture/wallpaper