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Story Cake

Here’s a thing I’d like to do, in collaboration with you guys  – some I know, lots I don’t – who read this blog.


This idea came to me out of ten years of astonishingly terrible experiences with people who I’d been close to for a very long time.  I’ve done at least a partial inventory of what happened:  there were big money fights, betrayals, a flat tire on the 407, illness, deep lies, shameful disrespect of self and other, triangulations, abuses of power, several counsellors, epic misunderstandings, two kayaks, petty and powerful punishments, lots of lawyers, appraisers, fires, storms, a Jungian therapist, at least one great lake but maybe three, hammers, guilt, exhaustion,  embedded ancestral control issues, and plenty of old family furniture, old books, obscure memories, inheritances…

There were two cars but three license plates, an arm injury, breakups, new songs, broken friendships, cedar shakes, a dentist, six large windows from Sundridge, a new bridge made of books, 3 gifted walnuts from a squirrel friend, seven binders of journal articles, a new cabin, 30,000 km of road, broken connections, new connections, three howls in the night, an old bothy, two perfectly healthy but nevertheless felled trees, a polydactyl cat; there was exile and isolation…

….all adrift without anchor, all seeking a new story.


In retrospect and inspired by Foucault, I can see some telling things that were missing.  If there had been more laughter, for example, there might not have been so much illness.


Comedy is the missing thing that most applies to this new project.  I want to put it back in to the story, and see whether this might lead us all forward and through, smiling.

A re-make of the story cake, if you will.  With better ingredients.


For example, here’s the set up for  Re-tell vignette number 1:  Thanksgiving.

Protagonist:  Pamela, a 50-year old artist (straight, white, female colonial), now living cheaply and illegally in her studio after leaving her abusive husband.  She is relieved and exhausted, determined to build a new autonomous life for herself.  Her best friend is a polydactyl cat named Knuckles.

Bystander:  Frank, a very intelligent, often belligerent anarchist with mental health issues who prefers to live on the street.  He is an excellent horticulturist, and is addicted to Listerine.

Antagonist:  Pamela’s Great-Great-Great-Half-Aunt Margery, Matriarch of the Industrial Patriarchy, and Active Ghost, who has grown in subtle power through the 100+ years of her hauntings in town.  She is judge, jury and sentencer for anyone whose actions run against the grain, and has the ability to extract punishment for any wrongdoings that offend her sensibilities.  She is an early colonial, and lesbian, though she would never admit either of those things.

The story-cake piece comes in my next post, your part comes after.  Stay with me.

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A multitude of tasks and their stressor partners slow-dance around my house like dust motes in the sunlight; I am happily, if overwhelmingly engaged in the actions of living.


Every so often pressures collide with sensibilities and swirl the dust mote dancing into a frenzy. Through and over all of this a thin cicada song of anxiety – I’ve mostly learned to ignore this, like the writer who works beside a busy train track.  Some days are better than others.


I am doing my utter best to lay solid groundwork that will take me/us somewhere new, satisfying and truly relevant in these times.  To connect need to need in a way that can reveal surprising, intersected solutions.

To make functional use of art and music, in valuable and valued service.


Need to need, like bee to flower. Then honey, more flowers, a resplendent spring.

I seek nothing less than an active, challenging, collaborative peace.



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The white chair

The test for old chairs is in the sitting, and this one more than passes, happily. It’s an online auction chair, old and formal-ish in the picture that prompted me, upholstered outrageously  – in cream and white.  It looked comfortable in the photo, but this could have been wishful thinking.


Old White and formal-ish comes with a history I can only invent. I find myself doing so in collaboration – my back against hers, my body held softly but with just enough firmness, my lap at just the right height with feet on footstool.

It becomes the chair I write from in the mornings.  The chair claimed first by my visiting daughter.  The chair that lends lightness to the room, drinks in sunlight.

This chair beckons, but does not compel.


Old white was intended for the cabin, where comfortable things are welcome, though curiously it seems to want to stay here, in town.  I sit in its welcome, listeningly, and feel happiness.

Outside the window is springtime.  Conversational starlings and squirrels (both black and red), a carpet of scilla on the tiny back yard, humming with bees.

Yes, that’s what it is.  A simple, welcome, peaceful happiness.



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Driving Time

In July 2017 I bought a car.  At that time it had 45,000 km on the odometer, which is partly why I bought it.

In our tradition of car-naming my daughter and I named him Thom, short for Thomas. Not Tommy, ever.

He is an indigo Blue Honda Fit.


By now, April, 2018, and Thom and I have racked up another 30,000km together.  There have been things to do and people to see.


While we were driving (by ourselves, never when witnessed), a song came.

It became an earworm.  Then it grew, longer and longer….

back_leftI recorded bits of it into voice memos. A few weeks ago when we parked at home, there were enough bits, so I wrote them down, strung them together and recorded a rough version.

Here it is…



…complete with frogs (one from Costa Rica, another from Toronto) and badly played xylophone (I’m a cello player, not a percussionist, damnit. Also at one point the frogs had a falling out).

Warning – it is an earworm.


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After a year of howls, gifts.

Not sure I can articulate this, yet.


Harness has become a listening blanket.


Rage has become discernment,

patient, like a well-fed shark

constantly in motion.



Pain has become beauty,

complex, like music.

like sky and lake.


There is time.

I am grateful for this, since it will take some time to make a new story.


I can feel the new story coming

from across the lake.

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There’s a place where it fits

If you’ve done the work and you feel a strong something to be true, even if it goes against the grain, there’s a place for it.


… but you need to listen, and see where that place is.  And when it is.


Keep walking, pay attention.


Make certain no living thing will be damaged.

Then make it so.

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DNA- identity?

I’m tucked under a fish blanket in the summer porch of a lovely Air b&b in London Ontario.


After a mess of driving through and around Southern Ontario (Owen Sound Toronto; Owen Sound; Waterloo; Owen Sound; Toronto; London) in the past week it’s good to be planted in the side porch of a stately old pile of yellow bricks in my housecoat, with a satisfying cup of coffee beside me.



My daughter, her father and I have sent our expectorant to a lab in Ireland where our DNA will be tested.  From this test our ancestry will be revealed to us (and our data will be added to a growing ocean of data about origin, migration, connection among humans).

My results came in yesterday, with few surprises:

Ethnicity Estimate:  Great Britain 58%; Ireland/Scotland/Wales  (Scotland): 16%; Europe West 10%

 Low Confidence Regions (though the percentages are small, these connections are more interesting to me.  Caucasus?!? That’s the Middle East.)

 Europe East 5%;  European Jewish 3%; Finland/Northwest Russia 3%;  Scandinavia 2%;  Caucasus 2%; Iberian Peninsula < 1%


Migrations (also interesting, but no surprises here.  Clearly I’m not indigenous to Canada, through I’m seventh generation born-here on my Mother’s side.  I come from a long line of european colonial settlers.

Pennsylvania Settlers
I know about this – my mother’s mother’s family were Pennsylvania Deutch, descended from German refugees of the Thirty-Years War who were permitted to enter England. Queen Victoria sent 10,000 of these overseas to settle in the English colonies under William Penn.  

From your regions: Great Britain, Ireland/Scotland/Wales, Europe West
I know about this too – A recession and the potato famine in Scotland, the result of a market crash in England pushed my Kennedy ancestor overseas to the Ottawa Valley in 1935, then to Owen Sound where he built a foundry.  My McArthur ancestors were farmers and blacksmiths out of Campbeltown and Glasgow area who were granted land in Saskatchewan in the early 1900s. Land that blew away in the dust of the ’30s, when my father was born.


So here am I, white woman of european & Scottish descent sitting on a porch built by wealthy English colonials one hundred or more years ago on indigenous treaty lands.   

I wonder if these massive elm trees were planted then, to give name to Elmwood Street.  I wonder who planted them, how they were paid, and by whom. 

I wonder whether the beauty of these living elms is the real wonder, regardless of who, when or how. they came to be here.


Postcolonial thought.

If someone reversed what has more recently been said to Syrian refugees and Dreamers in the United States, and told me to “Go back where you came from”, I would be unable to do so, even if I were willing even eager to leave this North American culture that has so shaped me.  I cannot legally live and work in the UK under the current international laws and policies that currently exist.

As a white person, descended from Scots and european industrialists, I am privileged.

My gender makes me less so.  My chosen single-ness less so again.  My profession as artist/musician/writer/grad student…. well.  Because of that I get to have more interesting discussions.


My name is on the title deed of a tiny piece of property which is actually not, from an indigenous / ally point of view, own-able by anyone.

So where is my home?


It’s more than possible that I do not, in fact, have one, save for whatever place I choose to put roots into, for however long.  I am a nomad, as are we all here now, in North America, though indigenous roots go deeper than any of us white folk might guess, and it behooves us to pay attention, and learn from those cultures.

But we can also learn from out own.  For example, and as a start, out of western Europe comes Capitalism and Schizophrenia, which I highly recommend to anyone trying to sort out the why and how of these times.

Nomads Matter, in this complex system of us.

I am honoured, and challenged, to know myself as one.