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Archive for November, 2012

Waywords Location #12 – St. Catherines, Ontario and the dark past

November 16th, 2012

You can’t read a town by its façade. In some ways they all look the same, especially these days. From the highway, every town is just a Walmart, a MacDonald’s, and a PetroCan.

But St. Catherines surprised me. I liked it at first: a little shabby, a little faded, but quaint with an obvious arts presence and one good coffeeshop on the main street (which is really all I require from any place: a room to write and think and drink in).

We arrived at the Mahtey Café in St. Catherines early that day and settled in behind our laptops, our teas, and our organic treats. I set up my typewriter on a sunny bar-style countertop against the window the spied on the fist few contributors.

“What kind of creature are you?” I thought. “The kind who types or the kind who passes by?” I can never tell.

The world is full of creatures. Animals. Beasts. St. Catherines had been the home of serial killer rapists Bernardo and Homolka. Somehow I’d missed hearing about that. I was young. My mom probably turned the radio off when they reported it back in the eighties and nineties. St. Catherines lost its charm after I learned that. And I couldn’t look at the river the same.

Sometimes, it’s best to not know what kind of creatures there are.


"Waywords" is supported by the Nova Scotia Department of Culture & Heritage

Waywords Location #11 – Toronto where I waited

November 13th, 2012

Everyone hates what they love sometimes. Every dream is darkly lit and uninspired some days. Every shiny thing gets dented and broken in time.

In Toronto, I felt the loss and fatigue of the road. I felt it secretly. At the perfect vegan hot spot where we had supper. At the rainy streetlights where pretty people waited, hurried, waited. At the microphone on the low stage. At the bar where I waited for things to end.

My typewriter, reliable and loyal, put up with it all too. We drove three hours west after that show out into the darkness of the 401. I knew I’d love it all again tomorrow.

"Waywords" is supported by the Nova Scotia Department of Culture & Heritage

Waywords Location #10 – Peterborough, Ontario (two dogs & a house)

November 10th, 2012

I’ve always viewed two things as marks of great achievement in life: a wooden house and a pair of dogs. A good kettle falls under that distinction as well. But I’m a strange girl born and raised by idealists on a farm in Cape Breton, so I’ve always considered my version of achievement a bit unorthodox. Sandy and Maria however, seemed to agree with me.

Their beautiful home and two dogs were the main stage of our next show: a house concert in Peterborough. I admit I don’t remember seeing a good kettle, but I do remember sipping hot water and whiskey while I sang (to calm the throat and cool the nerves, of course) so there must have been a kettle somewhere nearby.

A clamour of bright young things crowded in. They watched me sing with the kind of inquisitiveness only very young, very smart people do. I gave what I could and I felt it went well. It turns out they were mostly students in the local sustainable forestry program. I guess I should have told them my dad was a silvaculture worker and my living room was a second home to teams of tree planters for part of the season each year when I was growing up. Instead I just sang them fiction.

I placed my typewriter on the end of the kitchen counter and waited for the first brave entry. It came from a slight girl. Others followed and soon the page was mostly full. A boy in a wheelchair took the typewriter into his lap and typed for a long time.

Second set was soon over, the night aged, my wine glass empty, and I was dancing to disco in the middle of the living room with a stranger. Typical.

My typewriter, guitar, and keys, stayed the night. Kim and I snuck away from the dance party and eagerly to beds a few blocks away. I retrieved my gear and typewriter the next morning and started a long drive west to London, Ontario.

"Waywords" is supported by the Nova Scotia Department of Culture & Heritage

Waywords Location #9 – The Abandoned

November 6th, 2012

I embarked on the fall tour this year with trepidation. Touring, like all things I love, holds me a little bit captive, and sometimes I want to escape from it, rebel. But, with a car packed full of gear, my  touring partner Kim Wempe in the driver’s seat, a head full of new songs, and a light rain in the air, I gave into the pull of the road once again and we started our long journey east, then west, then east again.

Our first show was a small house concert in a very rural town on Prince Edward Island. The people were kind, fed us well, and gave us great energy for the show. But somewhere in the bustle of inching our gear into their tiny living room, re-curling my hair, and preparing mentally to play in such an intimate space, I chickened out and abandoned my typewriter.

The next morning we were driven to a small house with a large fishing boat parked outside. A woman in an apron and high-waisted jeans welcomed us to a full breakfast waiting on the plastic-covered table. The small kitchen was pristine, noticeably well managed and her thickly accented prodding made us eat more than we should have.

That night we played to an incredible crowd in Perth Andover, New Brunswick. This town had been underwater just a few months earlier from a cruel, bursting river. The people were generous and full of applause. I cringed a little when I got to the lyrics in my song: “One river’s flooding while the other dries to dust.” I didn’t have to tell them.

I chickened out again and left my typewriter in the back seat of the car. This section of my Waywords project was off to a rough start.

"Waywords" is supported by the Nova Scotia Department of Culture & Heritage