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Saturday, July 28, 2007


WHAT IT IS rocks the park last year (final act this year)

Last year's Keep the Beat

This Wednesday, August 1st, my daughter and other young people (all young women it turns out) are presenting the second KEEP THE BEAT music event in Nelson. They raise money for War Child Canada, an NGO that has projects around the world that support children affected by war.

They put on ten hours of live music in Lakeside Park, Nelson - noon to 10:00 p.m. Everyone from
Laura Landsberg (professional jazz) to Adham Shaikh (Juno nominee - world fusion). Zoey (my daughter) is doing a set of her songs early in the day. Alex Atamenenko, our NDP Member of Parliament is coming and will speak - he is very committed to social justice and peace issues.

The show is free and open to all ages. They raise the dough through donations, a silent auction and bunch of kids collecting pledges. Last year they were able to send off $6,000. Come on down and sit on the grass, take a swim, boogie your butt off - whatever appeals. And bring some cash.

P.S. If you like jazz singers, you owe it to yourself to click on the Laura link and have a listen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A new mix: John Lennon, Amnesty and Darfur

The new sidebar is a promo for the double CD of Lennon covers that has been created to raise money for Amesty - and awareness and energy to do something about the hell on earth known as Darfur, Sudan. Have a listen, sign the petition, buy the music (if you want to).

I recently heard this story: people in the camps for the displaced (in this case over the border in Chad) are harassed and tormented by the Janjawid militias from Sudan. They are not protected, even in these camps. Women go out to forage for firewood so they feed their families, and are routinely raped by marauding Janjawid. When asked why the men don't go instead, the response from people in the camp (to my colleague Alex, who asked) was: "If the men go, they are killed - if the women go they are only raped." A choice: death or rape.

And what's on my mind? Price of gas... mortgage rates... job satisfaction...organic food versus regular... new car or not.....blah, blah, blah.

I worked in Darfur many years ago (famine relief work with the Red Cross). With what I know about what is happening to those people now, I have no good excuse for sleeping well at night... So I do something, even if not much.

One more picture from the road trip...then I'll move on

Two guys and a wreck (click to see larger)

While in Haida Gwaii (also called the Queen Charlotte Islands) recently, I spent one day on a long hike with two friends, Nelson (from Nelson) and David. We walked along the bucolic Tlell River for a couple of hours, then along the open Pacific until we reached the wreck of the Pesuta, an old log barge that came ashore in a storm in 1928. There's not much left of her, but she's photogenic. In this rare case, so are the humans (and my daypack) - I think at least so.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dad and daughter

I went with my 17 year old daughter to Vancouver for some time together. I need a vacation after the vacation, just to rest. We rode bikes along the ocean, went to Shakespeare (R&J), saw a dance performance, ate out everywhere, took a UBC (university) tour, went to a movie (The Mighty Heart)... and shopped a lot ( I refuse to go to malls, so it was cool urban streets). Did I mention it was all in three days? A photo here.

Stanley Park, Vancouver

And while on the topic of my daughter, she did a small piece of creative writing that I like, so here it is:

Alone at Night

Something splashes in the water less than ten feet away from where I sit. For a moment my heart jumps, thrown into an irregular beat, but then it gently eases back into regularity as I imagine a silver backed, shimmering fish dancing nearby under the dark and glassy surface of the lake. A perfect half moon lights the sky. I sit on the end of the dock and let my legs dangle over the edge, feet immersed in silky darkness up to my ankles. The earth exhales the heat it has stored from the scorching day, and the night is deliciously warm, scented by fresh life and far off smoke.

As insects buzz and whisper in the long grasses surrounding the small lake, I think of my grandfather. As a young child, he used to tell me that if I listened carefully I would hear the words of the crickets, singing songs about life and the world at night. We would sit together on this same creaking dock and the hushed ripples echoeing from our dangling feet would be twice what they are now. Every summer my family comes to stay at my grandparents’ cabin on Spirit Lake. Only two other homes exist on its shores. Nature, as I know it in my life, booms and comes to a crescendo each summer that I am here.

This summer, it has become a nightly routine for me to silently sneak down to the water from the comfort of my bed and dreams. Something about the human silence of the night combined with the enveloping orchestra of the natural world around me creates the perfect environment for thought. I used to listen to my grandfather counselling his daughter (my mother) by these shores. He would tell her that loneliness is simply a word we use to excuse lack of personal strength and self-knowledge. Under the stars tonight on this dock, I understand what he meant. For the past two weeks, the relationships within my family have been strained and static, a strange combination of love and sadness. I find peace on the quiet of the water at night. It embraces me as I release frustrations of the day and reconnect with the pure love I hold for the people around me.

Fifteen days ago, my family sat in the garish, yellow painted kitchen of our small city apartment. With the usual laughter and teasing, we discussed and planned our trip to this lake. Fourteen days ago, our city was shrouded with clouds; an unexpected summer thunderstorm. With a simple phone call, I was faced for the first time in my life with the death of someone I love.

Something rustles in the tall, dry grass to the left of the dock. Looking in the direction of the snapping twigs, I see a shadow drift onto the shore – a racoon. The racoon looks up, and even at such a distance, our eyes meet. We are both equally alone on this warm and delicate night. However, neither of us is truly alone. We are both surrounded by life; loss, love, longing and the force of survival driving the creatures all around us.

His physical presence is gone, but as a watch the racoon scurry back into the bushes, searching for some unknown secret in the darkness, I feel the essence of my grandfather with me. Cradled by the almost purple, velvet sky, I have personal strength and self-knowledge. I am alone, but I am not lonely. I lie back on the worn, scratchy wood of the dock and close my eyes. These nights spent alone by the water are celebrations of my grandfather. Water, earth, sky and air subsume me and in the gentle darkness I listen to my own breathing. I am myself and I am a part of all life around me.


I like it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Back from Northern BC

My most-of-a-month in Northern BC ended with a week on Haida Gwaii. This group of islands, traditional lands of the Haida people, is an amazing place. Probably should be on people's 10 PLACES TO GO BEFORE I DIE list... I was working there the first few days and tourist the next.

Sunsets at 11:30 p.m. So many eagles that they are commonplace (I counted 19 at once on the beach in front of my room). Long open ocean beaches, without a soul in sight. Tall cedars, covered in moss as thick as a quilt. Sealife abounds - salmon to 40 pounds, crabs on every menu, orcas, sea lions, seals, whales and dolphins in the bays.

And most interesting - the Haida people are a strong presence, physically, historically and as at least half the population. When initial contact occurred, mostly in the late 1800's, their network of villages was devastated, by smallpox, by religion (my opinion), residential schooling and the intentional destruction of their culture. Although they have many problems to deal with, there is a strong sense of optimism and a treaty process underway.

A friend and I spent a day travelling by boat to Kuunu (Skedans), an abandoned Haida village that has the remains of poles, longhouses and the spirits of generations of people. Haida Watchmen live on the island, granting permission to visit and protecting what remains of the village.

Here is a taste in a few photos:

North Beach - 25 miles of empty fullness

Poles in Kuunu

David and Wilfred (ask me!)

Ancient alder

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