FOREVER EVA

I’m working on the third last scene of “Of Old Men…”, two more to go then I tie them together and begin the editing process. The emotional key in this scene is a song. It’s one that a late member of the band always wanted to perform but the other members didn’t feel it fit with their image. “What A Wonderful World” is one of those pieces of music that always strikes an emotional chord and one of the most powerful versions for me is by Eva Cassidy. There are few singers I can listen to and never grow tired of and she is one. She has a world-wide following yet most have never heard of her and that’s sad. If you love real music and an incredible voice you need to hear Eva.

I have ten of her cds, mostly covers with a few originals. These compilations are from a couple of trips to the studio, demo takes, and re-mastered live performances. Pop, rock, folk, and standards like “Autumn Leaves” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”…she sings them all with the purest voice I’ve ever heard. An accomplished guitarist and artist she did the coffee house circuit but preferred her time in the garden unaware of the fan base she was building. Then she realized who some of the people that had become her audience were…people that had come to see her. People like Sting, Paul McCartney, Roberta Flack, Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood…the list goes on. Mick Fleetwood played drums for Eva, considering it a privilege and Sir Paul wanted to do a duet with her. She had arrived…but it was too late.

In 1996, at the age of 33, Eva Cassidy passed away from cancer. After her death Europe discovered her music and she topped the music charts in popularity and sales. She would never know how cherished she would become on the world stage.

At her final performance she was weak and unable to walk unassisted to the stage. She and her audience knew that this might be that last time. “What A Wonderful World” would be the last song she would ever sing and I still can’t hear it without choking up.

In 2001 Ted Coppel devoted an entire Nightline episode to Eva and I have included that link.

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Me and You and A Blog Named Boo….

Yawn…a hot Sunday afternoon and I need to come up with a blog. I have been remiss lately what with yard work and hobbies. My writing both book-wise and blog-wise has suffered greatly. Today is the day…new blog day.

Nothing’s coming…I went to the flea market this morning (priorities and all that) but found very little of interest. There was a pretty good deal on four snow tires but they were the wrong size…plus they were two different sizes. There was an old Austin Dinky Toy that at $20 was overpriced in the condition it was in…no blog material there. I came home and grabbed a cold drink and one of my guitars and headed for my tent-gazebo-thingie in the back yard. About halfway through “Lady Came from Baltimore” (one of my all-time favorite songs) I noticed an eagle over the river. Such graceful flight, slowly turning and weaving gentle figure eights…could be a blog there. I close my eyes to consider the possibilities.

I am aware that other than the distant highway drone there are no urban sounds around me. No mowers, weed-whackers, or music. For my little corner of suburbia this is unusual. Some little birds (I can’t tell them apart but they look kind of like the chickadees on Christmas cards except these are reddish with yellow bits) have built a nest in the birdhouse next door. Noisy bunch but it’s Mum Nature’s noise so that’s okay. I hear Mourning Doves and open my eyes to see a pair of them on the power lines. I’d never seen a Mourning Dove until we moved into this house. I remember hearing what I thought was some kind of owl in the trees and I’d search until I found out where the noise was coming from but I’d always find Mourning Doves…never any owls. This owl hunt went on for weeks until I realized the connection between something that sounds somewhat like an owl and looks more-than-somewhat like a Dove. Okay, I’m old…sometimes it takes time to put two and two together. But…no blog here either.

Guitar

I strum a bit more…this time I’ll have a go at a slow tempo, bluesy-folksy rendition of “Dancing in the Dark” which actually sounds pretty good. I must work on that. Then I remembered a blog that I had started weeks ago…about my favorite guitar chord.

I stumbled onto this chord about fifty years ago. It sounded jazz and if played as an intro it felt good except that I never figured out how to follow it up back then. I couldn’t find this chord listed in any of my books at the time so I took it as my chord. Later, thanks to the internet, I would find out that it was quite common (A/Ab) but it’s still one of my favorites. Like the Chickadee-looking birds many common things unwittingly bear the burden of beauty and for me this simple chord is one of them. Perhaps to others it’s just another chord but then to some the Mona Lisa is just a painting. It’s in the eye, or ear, of the beholder isn’t it? I’m not sure why I was going to blog on a guitar theme. There are things that I am more knowledgeable about but the guitar is something that relaxes me more than any of the others. I suppose there’s a lot about it that takes me back to times with friends around a campfire in the mid-sixties, each of us harboring the determination to be the next Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, all but one of us failing to reach our self-perceived success. It always reminds me of a simpler time where dreams were okay and I had my whole life ahead of me to realize those dreams. I still have my whole life ahead of me but it isn’t as whole as it used to be. So what is the message in this non-blog? Sometimes things don’t sound the way they look…look for the beauty in everything and it’s never too late to dream.

Considering I started with nothing….

P.S.: One of my blogs was featured in a local Kamloops art magazine…check it out! http://bollokscraftrecords.com/zine/bcx-pdf-version/

Wolf Humper? That’s the best you got???

In one of my more lucid moments I decided it was time to grow up.

Of course during another somewhat lucid moment I voted for a city councilor based on her hair length and bra size.

Lucidity is much over-rated.

So now, fifty years later, I have finally completed my grade nine English assignment (which was to use the word ‘lucid’ in a sentence). I should get extra marks and a fast-food fry voucher for ‘lucidity’.

Not that I’m a proponent of fog-based realizations either, never have been really.

There has to be a middle ground between fracked-out ignorance and harsh reality where degrees of awareness are tempered with furry kittens, warm summer nights and sipping whiskey.

I haven’t found it yet.

This was the original beginning to this post. I was actually winding my way towards telling you about my favorite guitar chord but since I started writing this I have had some comments made about me personally and generally on a few of the Anti-Wolf sites. It is no secret that I am Pro-Wolf and when I make a comment on any of these sites I like to think I present a logical, well thought out and, above all, educated point.

Every so often I make the mistake of giving some people credit for intelligence. I believe in letting anyone have their say and even if I don’t agree I try to understand their point of view. Before getting into a dissertation I like to research the subject so that I have at least an inkling of what I’m talking about. I try to leave emotions in my back pocket and approach the subject at hand in a reasonable, non-confrontational manner without resorting to name-calling and profanity. I have come to the conclusion that it has all been a waste of time, that trying to approach such an emotional subject with those “on the other side” is basically a futile effort.

In the last week I have been called, among other less-civil things, a “wolf-humper”, a “hunter-hater”, a “perpetrator of myth” and an “inogrent city-dweller”. I choose to remain neutral on the last one as I have no idea what “inogrent” means although I suspect the writer still hasn’t figured out spell-check (the defense rests your honor). While I have a few names I could fire back at these people, I choose not to. Every time one of them opens his mouth, every time they show a video of proud “real” men skinning a wolf alive, every time they brag about shooting one more wolf from behind they accomplish more for the Pro-Wolf side than we ever could. They hold people like Bill Hoppe, who baited and killed 831F (a Yellowstone radio-collared wolf) as some kind of saint rather than the cowardly low-life that he is. Good ol’ Bill’s story in all its unbelievable and twisted gory detail is far too long and sordid to get into here. Suffice to say that commerce has once again taken precedent over the environment.

The cry on the Wolf Hunt page is “Kill a wolf, save an elk”. I don’t know…it seems incomplete to me. How about “Kill a wolf, save an elk, so I can kill an elk”. Ah yes, much better.

This may upset a few of the Pro-Wolfers but I am not a “hunter-hater”. There are responsible hunters out there and while I could never hunt, I don’t have an all-out condemnation of hunters. I don’t understand the mentality and I certainly don’t like it but I’m told there are enough measures in place to control and maintain reasonable numbers of game animals so, at least for now, I have to live with it. I also don’t condemn ranchers who are merely protecting their investment by killing a wolf however I have to question why they haven’t explored the non-lethal approaches to wolf/livestock control as so many truly wilderness-conscious cattlemen have.

Then there is the argument about why the Government “planted” a non-native species into Yellowstone Park to begin with. Give your head a shake folks…the wolves were “planted” there before there was a Yellowstone and long before you “planted” yourself. It was some guy deciding that wolves might be dangerous to tourists and the other wildlife that resulted in man “unplanting” them. The subsequent and fairly rapid deterioration of the Park’s eco-system brought about the wise decision to “re-plant” the wolves and the results have not only been positive and surprising but an undeniable testament to the value of this keystone creature in the system at Yellowstone and elsewhere.

One last thing before I end this rant. The term “non-native” animal is threaded through a lot of the posts on the Anti-Wolf sites. Most of the wolves, these people insist, are Canadian wolves. Really? That’s your argument? Honestly I have so much trouble wrapping my head around stuff like this. Wolves were here long before there was a Canada, or America for that matter. They freely roamed across this unnamed continent. All of a sudden we declare borders and we expect the wolf to respect that invisible line between the countries? Grey wolves, as they have been since before we started keeping time, are spread all across the Continent, north and south… how can you tell it’s a Canadian wolf? Besides it’s really not a “Canadian” wolf is it? It’s just a wolf. I won’t even stir the stew by pointing out that anyone in North America whose ancestors came from another country is, technically, a planted non-native species.

Thanks for the time folks, sorry for the rant but I had to get some of this off my chest.

 

My 2nd LIFE….

Shortly I’ll be fully retired. The bookshop I work for will close the doors. It has been my second life for a dozen years or so and this will leave quite a space to fill.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to prepare myself for this by doing something I’ve wanted to do for many years.

White Wolf Moon describes the life of the lead character Evan Morris…back then and now. To a certain extent I actually lived his life in the sixties and now I get a chance to try and live it as he does today. As he says in the unfinished sequel: “If my life was a novel I’m editing the fourth revision for the fifth time.”

I tried to retire about five years ago but ended up working three days a week so I usually have four days where I have the house to myself. I figured it would be easy to just slip back into the old ways. Not so.

My 2nd life doesn’t kick in until after I’ve checked email first thing in the morning. Then I shut that computer down and work on my laptop which isn’t hooked up to the internet (the laptop has replaced the pens and writing pads of the olden days). Staying off the main computer has been the toughest part of adapting to this slightly different lifestyle. I didn’t realize how many hours I spent with facebook and the like until I stopped doing it. I also realize how undisciplined I’ve become with regards to time management…another area that needs work but it is getting better.

My 2nd life involves writing, mostly the sequel to White Wolf Moon, and music. I’m back to “playing at” guitar. I’m not very good at it and have never professed to be. It’s something I do for myself. I’ve made that activity a little more complicated by trying to write some songs as Evan would be doing today but it’s still a pleasant diversion. I’ve also realized that maintaining this blog is a little more time-consuming than I thought it would be but I consider it an important part of where I am now so it becomes an integral part of the writing.

I still need that on-line time to follow what’s happening with the book and to keep in touch with those that are following me but I’ve restricted that to an hour or so in the evening.

I’ve already noticed a calming effect. I feel much more relaxed now and upon reading back some of what I’ve written I find it smoother and more thought-out much earlier on in the process than it usually is. This 2nd life…is good.

By the way the picture of the rabbit above has nothing to do with this post. Her name is Pasta and she’s my bunny-buddy. She’s actually my grandson’s rabbit but their landlord decided that they weren’t allowed to have rabbits in the apartment so she ended up at grampa’s house, which is fine by me. How she got her name was one of those wonderful accidents. My daughter was sitting on the couch with the yet-to-be-named rabbit on her lap when my grandson sat beside her, held out his hands, and said “Pasta bunny.”

She’s a tad cranky these days because she likes sitting with me and watching hockey games but with the lock-out….

Anyway time to wrap this up and break the 2nd life rule to post this.

Thank you to all for the ‘likes’ & follows!!!

OUT DAMN THOT!

A thought came to visit me this afternoon but I was busy. In tiny blue canvas runners the thought crept silently into my mind field. It poked at my fertile imagination but I ignored it. I had something else to do.

I was writing a song. It was a folk song about finding love beneath a stone.

The thought waited impatiently…leaning against a tree in one of the forests I imagine when I get tired of imagining the ocean or a theme park in a hot place.

Thoughts are funny things, some of them. Some are smile-funny while others are laugh-out-loud funny. But some aren’t funny at all. Thoughts are like airborne seeds. They come from nowhere then go to nowhere until you consider them and nurture them. They lie dormant in the creative mush at the bottom of that little used part of the brain. Like mushrooms they begin to grow where not much else happens, at least not much that I am aware of. Some thoughts belong to someone else. They just stop by to see if they’d be better cared for elsewhere. Some thoughts are pure, others not so. Some thoughts are fickle. Ignore them and they’ll move on quickly, with no sense of loyalty. Thoughts have no sense of order. They don’t necessarily bear the burden of logic. That’s why I couldn’t deal with that thought at that time. I needed logic, not some flippant thought. I was trying to write a song about love found beneath a stone and I couldn’t find it. Not love…I can find love anywhere. I just couldn’t find the chord that tied love and stone together in a catchy yet complex progression that naked pseudo-hippies years from now would sing around a campfire.

So while the thought leaned in tiny blue canvas runners against my tree with its tiny thought arms crossed and tiny thought eyes rolled toward the skies, I struggled to find the chord.

Finally, and quite theatrically, the thought disappeared. It threw up its tiny thought arms in disgust and stomped forth in tiny blue canvas runners to find a more receptive mind, one that wasn’t quite as cluttered. It didn’t really bother me that it was gone. It had become annoying. Besides thoughts are like busses and we all know about busses.

I looked out across my yard, then across the alley, then into Mrs. Dunham’s yard. Her dog of many colors and questionable breeds was asleep by the gatepost. His name is Bopper. I imagine the other dogs in the neighborhood get quite a giggle when they hear old Mrs. Dunham calling him in for the night.

In about the time it would have taken the thought to get from here to there Bopper opened his eyes. His ears perked up. He stood, walked across the yard then lifted his leg on Mrs. Dunham’s roses.

I’m glad I let that thought go.