Category Archives: love

Chickens, bravery and bagpipes . . . not the Scottish ones

I had no idea there are so many kinds of bagpipes . . . pretty much one for every European nation, and even a Chinese version . . . the ones in the music of this video are Romanian.

I picked this video for a few reasons. One is that the pictures remind very much of some of the pictures of some of my now-deceased family – my grandparents – they really worked the land. Their stories are heartwarming, funny, inspiring, sometimes so very sad, and sometimes maddening.

They were not gypsies, except perhaps on the occasional Saturday night! I don’t know if the people in this picture were gypsies either – when is a group of gypsies no longer gypsies?

The other reason I chose this clip is because it also reminds me of a brief mention of a wonderfully humorous gypsy folk tale. I mention it in my novel, and no matter how I classify it, the story is about love – both mine and the gypsy tale!

I’ll only mention how the tale begins. Apparently there was a young man who was completely smitten by a certain gypsy girl, but she taunted him terribly. The story is all about his laughable quests to gain her favor, and the first of these is to fetch her a chicken, but not just any chicken!

And so it goes . . . I really can’t tell you more than that here . . . the games we play for love!

I’m kind of surprised that even today there are those who are wary of gypsies, though I apologize here because the term has as many variations as the bagpipes – probably many more!

All I can say is where would Cirque du Soleil be without them first? And even in this video, there must be something of love? I hope so . . . .

Thank you for risking so much!

For Your Eyes Only…Only for You?

When I was a kid, and then still when I was a young man, I always looked forward to the next 007 flick. I don’t know about you, but for me it was all about the gadgets and special effects, and of course the leading ladies. Yeah, I know, there’s plenty of stereotyping that goes on, but then there’s the humor, so hopefully no one took the sexism to heart.

Then it got to the point where for me at least, the introduction and the ending credits became worth the price of admission all by themselves. In this particular case for example, as much as I like the video, I can’t remember a damn thing about the movie, nor do I care to now. And I must have seen it at least three times.

This video, For Your Eyes Only, has always captivated me. There’s the music, the intriguing and mysterious lyrics. . . “no need to read between the lines.”, and then there’s the visual portrayal, and finally, all the technology that goes with it.

It’s pretty amazing to think that this video was done so many years ago. We tend to think of all this layering as being much more recent than 1980. But then the machine that was eventually to become known as ‘the fax machine’ was actually based on technology from the 1920’s.

It’s funny how the ‘warm and fuzzy’ I get when I watch this video is also the same way I feel in writing many parts of novel. It is hard to blog about that, partly because what is really a very simple story seems to be deceptive in a way. I say ‘deceptive’ because as it is coming to completion, I see that it has many different layers, and to talk of one without the other is damn near impossible. It’s kind of like trying to describe the rain coming from one cloud when it’s actually coming from more than you can count. . . but not too many!

But I’ll try to touch on of those layers here. It actually does concern the issue of audio and video technology and what happens when they become somehow entwined in a very sensual experience. Should some experiences be “for yours eyes only”?

So the issue becomes an ethical one, and there are so many these days, so many that I wonder whether humanity will ever be able to catch up with all our modern technology. If you think about it, then in a way the technology controls our sense of right and wrong, or perhaps puts that sense to sleep, for your shut eyes only?

And does technology have karma? It must, at least in the sense that it seems to be an inextricable part of much of the human condition. But then what is karma? And I’m sorry, but I’m not going back to writings from thousands of years ago to try to understand that. I’ve already done that many times over the years. But there are things that happen, and they involve technology, technical applications in the context of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. . . well those events have crushed any personal understanding of that term ‘karma’, at least in the traditional sense.

In my writing, one of my characters finds herself disturbed by the term, so the best she can describe her own feelings on the matter is, “the blending and churning of time and truth.”

Anyways, these are the musings of someone finds inspiration in the strangest places, even a silly little introduction to a James Bond film. I think the next music I post here will be ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’, the live rendition by Sharon Clark.

Have a wonderful weekend.

PS – The last 007 film that I’ve seen was a breakthrough film for Halle Berry, with an exquisite Madonna intro and conclusion. Since then they have completely lost any appeal, but then I haven’t seen the intros.

So tell me, am I missing something, anything?

20,000 Words and a Bunch of Characters!

I wish this cursor would stop blinking at me, but I guess that’s why they call it a ‘cursor’.

It seems almost every blogger that I follow also does other writing. With a minor case of bloggers’ block, I’m finding this to be quite different than writer’s block. Funny thing is though, I’ve never had writers’ block. I’m 20,000 words and five chapters into my second novel and it’s coming along better than expected, and I expect a lot!

So far I’ve found four main characters that sneaked into my book.

Each character seems to have their own rule book, though none of them see themselves as rebels, just quietly rebellious.

They’re a curious bunch, all very decent on the surface, except for one dude who’s gotten what he deserves. Pardon me…that’s dudes not one of the four, and yet so far he’s been the sneakiest by far! The two main female characters are smart, one very funny and one very troubled, tough and at the same with a huge but confused heart…a survivor of both her looks and charm, as well as the curiosity that led her down an adventurous path that she very much wants to leave behind.

Then there’s two main male characters. One’s your average guy, until you get to know him. A tradesman, a loner, a playful dreamer who thinks he wants to find the right woman and ‘settle down’ but at 37 he is actually very much settled, comfortable, busy in his passions. In other words, like most men in his position he really doesn’t know what he wants, and the question remains as to whether he ever figure this out, or perhaps someone will do it for him?

The other man is more of a gentleman, a quirky eccentric who doesn’t mind helping others as long as he has a say in direction, and ‘helping others’ seems to have no end in terms of the strangely pleasant adventures he brings his followers into; most of them don’t even realize what they’re involved in, and none seem to mind…at least so far!

Now after dragging you into this funnel of intrigue, I suppose it’s only fair to punish you with an excerpt:

As always, Melanie begins with her window shopping, a full 90 minutes of it, followed by a quick 30 minute grocery tour, which is basically a routine more than an adventure. She likes the uniqueness of the bazaar or at least the attempt of it. Local and regional crafts people are everywhere, this being the start of the tourist season. Small artist and artisan-run co-ops occupy what seems like two out of five shops. Most of the others are franchise operations but at least the offerings are more exotic, different than the mega-malls. And then there are the service businesses: hair salons, acupuncture and massage, all kinds of mini restaurants, and then her favorite: the music shop.

 It’s more than a place to buy musical instruments of all sorts classical. It’s also more than a place to buy sheet music that must be exhaustive in availability.  It’s even more than a registry for antique instruments or a place to sign up for lessons of the French Horn. It’s also a place where every Sunday for 30 minutes of every hour, a local musician or small group performs in a small sitting area within the shop, with room for maybe 20 or so patrons. The charge is voluntary and all proceeds go to the musicians, and the ones that really don’t need the money leave theirs for the ones that really do.

 She knew of this kind of sharing through her acquaintance with one such musician, Joe Spence, a violinist who only recently came into some unexpected financial success with an online video that quickly became popular. She met this young man totally by accident about three months ago, literally bumping into him as she came out of the grocery store, in a hurry to meet up with Donna. Though it was her fault, he apologized and offered to repay her in some way for the trouble he had caused. His kindness caught her by surprise, or perhaps it was his gentle nature, which seemed odd when she looked at him and saw the face of a proud, defiant Sioux warrior.

 She would have no part of any kind gesture, so after helping her getting her bags repacked he offered to play for her someday. This is how she learned of the music shop, as he handed her a card and told her he plays there every Sunday morning. When he told that he’s a violinist, his eyes shone brightly and he grinned at her obvious surprise to the announcement. Perhaps it was all of this, and maybe his passion as well, that lured her every week to hear him play, and then to visit for awhile. Other than that, shopping was just groceries.

 Walking down the aisle, a poster on a community billboard catches her attention. It’s a beautiful picture of horses and an advertisement for some sort of jumping competition. It reminds her of Joe’s explanation, his reaction to her surprise, as he had told her, “I can you’re surprised…an Indian playing the violin! I was surprised too…never thought of it until I learned something special about violins.” Without giving her a chance to ask, he continued, “It’s all about the horses for me, and for my people. They were our friends, not our possessions. This is still the way. We don’t own them any more than we own the wind. So it’s the bow. Do you know the string of the bow is actually the hair of the horse? This fascinated me and soon I fell in love with the wind of the violin…the music.” He then looked her in the eyes, and seeing the warmth he knew she understood and with a lightning grin he concluded, “It’s all horseplay!” and they laughed.

And just so you know, I’m just teasing here…neither Joe nor Melanie are one of the four main characters mentioned above…gotcha!


How Can They Be Free?


When I was a kid, over 40 years ago now, I think I was in grade 7 at the time, Friday night was kind of special. How this became special I cannot remember, nor can I remember how I ever came to be involved in this activity. It seems what was special about this activity was the score, and the coinciding peer pressure. Getting one down the center was the ultimate goal and doing so frequently was some kind of achievement.

I’m not talking about bowling here; that was reserved for Saturday mornings. This was a school-related activity, or at least it happened underground, beneath this one-story elementary school, the one where I spent grade 5. The oddity of this didn’t even hit home until just this very day. You see I was always told that this underground facility was built during the wartime for training purposes. It was a shooting range. There were perhaps 10 or so alleys, the targets seemed much further away than the pins at the bowling alley, and the circles on the paper seemed so very small…and I had great eyesight.

My friends and I thought this was pretty cool. None of us owned the 22-caliber rifles; they stayed with the bunker and we just bought our weekly supply of bullets. There was no time pressure or anything, just the pressure to score highly on a weekly total of 100, kind of like a percentage. So at the end of evening the boys and I would compare our sheets and I was never much better than average, so it wasn’t so much fun. On the other hand, no one beat me at bowling, which was so much more fun.

It seems this was a winter activity and only lasted a few months. When it was over one or two of my friends were awarded pellet guns by their parents. It was springtime by then. In no time at all there must have been about half a dozen of us with these guns. Mine was one of the cheapest as my parents probably had less money than all of the others, so I was kind of envious of some of the others’ units. This too was a competition. Pellets were pretty cheap and the river was very close.

The implication of that was that there was no problem exploring our favorite paths along the river, surrounded by plenty of ample bush and trees, only now we had arms. We usually wondered in pairs, perhaps three if there was an odd number. For practice we would shoot at tin cans and so the competition continued, though it didn’t stay at cans for long. You see there were birds to shoot, and the prowess became the hit rate on sparrows and robins, shot for no other reason.

Thankfully I was not very good at this activity, and regretfully I never thought much of what I was doing. I don’t remember this hobby lasting more than one summer. Neither do I remember when everyone else stopped. However, I do remember as clearly as this evening’s supper how I came to cease and desist. It happened on a very fine day and I was standing on the river bank right next to a big bend in the river. For whatever reason I was all alone. I had my pellet in my gun in case a bird should come along.

Sure enough while looking around this bend I spotted one flying, more like gliding along the path of the water. It wasn’t a sparrow or a robin though. It was a bird like none that I’d seen before, more like a great blue heron. By the time I noticed the beauty of this magnificent bird I already had my gun raised to shoot. And then it happened. I saw this bird for what it was, but more than that it spoke to me in that wonderful silence, as if to say to me in a very gentle voice, “Why do you want to hurt me?” And as I sensed this my arms fell to the side. The question remained unanswered and I’ve never shot a gun of any kind since.

I’ve seldom had such a moment of clarity, and such a calm and peaceful one at that.

So fast forward 30-some years and you will find me in a very confused state. It is in the fall and like so many people, I am immersed in a battle without even knowing it. The tragedy of 9/11 is still very fresh and there is this talk of taking action, a part of the battle of the hearts and minds. My children are with me at this time, they are around 10 and 11 years old and I am driving them to school one day. I don’t know how it came up, but there must have been a question that arose on this issue of war. I hadn’t been able to make any sense of the news, couldn’t understand any of the arguments, but I did mutter something about the need to protect freedom.

Well the discussion pretty much ended in one of those other moments of clarity. It happened very spontaneously in the form of a question that kind of answers itself. So in response to my comment on freedom, one of my children said something that will stick with me as long as I can think. She said, “But daddy how they be free? They carry guns.”

Today when I see the birds there is freedom I see and a togetherness that is so truly inspiring and of course I am a dreamer and I wonder if we will ever be that together. It seems all I can do is hope.

PS – The picture at the top is yet another unpublished work of mine, still in progress, but almost finished.