While the Nonagenarian was with the doctor yesterday, I watched the arrival of the Giant Pandas in Toronto. There were other folk in the waiting room watching the broadcast. We had questions that the journalists failed to answer to our satisfaction. We dismissed the panda diplomacy…too outlandish to be taken seriously. We shared our embarrassment that the Prime Minister of our country would stand on a windy tarmac to welcome the beasts. We shared our hope that FedEx paid for the transportation. After all, their president got to speak to a phalanx of reporters and the PM inserted a plug for the courier service in his speech.
The conversation continued when the coverage ended. The thirst for knowledge had to be quenched, so I opened up my ‘droid and googled panda. We learned the average size and weight of giant pandas. We learned about their diet – 99% bamboo, 25 species of bamboo! A fact that is burned in our memory is scatalogical – giant pandas defecate up to 40 times a day. There is a lot of roughage in their diet.
This unladylike conversation came back to me this morning, as I tip-toed around the goose droppings – euphemisms for excrement abound, and range from the childish to the impolite. Spring has sprung in my neighbourhood. The geese are back and so is the mess they make.
My friend The Nutritionist wrote an article about the beauty of poop. Sharing it with you seemed as natural as…well…eliminating waste.
The Frost King has come and with a flick of his thumb turned the windows to Renaissance art
Valdy has been singing around the world – Canada, USA and New Zealand – for four decades. I know this because he said so last night at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. Fans gathered with albums clutched in their arms – not DVDs, Not iPods – vinyl with fading covers. (Valdy’s songs are available on iTunes, he said so.)
He sings in a lower key the songs that caught our fancy years ago – Peter and Lou; Renaissance, and Oh Yeah – the one about Rock and Roll Songs. In between he sang the songs he wrote for events that have occurred in his life in the subsequent decades. Protest songs, praise songs, songs about justice – thinking people songs. Valdy is a folksinger, he told us so, last night in case we had forgotten.
The last time I saw Valdy in concert he sat on a stool in front of his band in the corner of a tiny bar. So the BIG surprise last night was to discover Valdy dances when he sings. Little jigs and skips and the odd scissor jump a la rock and roll divos. His picking is fast and furious – one man and a guitar, unabashedly dropping Canadian references as fast as Kim Kardashian drops husbands. He showed us his Order of Canada, instructing us to make a difference and we could get one too.
He sings in a lower register, but then we’ve all changed. Last night I felt as if I had come home to a gathering of my people…the first time in forever that the audience and I were of the same vintage. We clapped at the intros to the songs we loved. we sung along to everything, because Valdy told us we could and showed us how!
Whether you know Valdy or not, you should visit his website. He built it himself – yes he told us so! Like Valdy the flash is missing, but it does the job with warmth and a sense of humour. Valdy turned the night into Renaissance art.
It was a dark and stormy night the first time I saw Valdy in concert. Really! Thirty years ago, I drove from Nanaimo to Parksville, BC, through thunderclaps and tree limbs bashing about in a high wind off the Strait of Georgia. The hotel bar in which he was to perform was at the end of a quiet road far from anything remotely like civilization. I breathed a sigh of relief as I shut the car door. I had had the foresight to book a room for the night. [The foresight was due to a desire to drink, not because I was smart enough to check the weather report!]
The small bar glowed golden – I remember that specifically. Although I cannot remember the light source. Valdy was on a riser in the corner, singing everything in that mellow voice of his; unfrenzied and unapologetic that he was a folksinger.
Am I hoping to recreate that experience, March 9, 2013 at 8 PM? Not that exact moment…but the unfrenzied, mellow voice singing clear and confidently. Now that I hope to recreate. Valdy is a storyteller as much as he is a folksinger. OK…you are right…folksinging and storytelling are like Jimmy and Choo – inseparable.
I have tickets to Valdy’s Richmond Hill concert, because I am a fan of his stubborn belief that being Valdy is good enough and right. I have tickets because I love Play Me a Rock and Roll Song. I have tickets because I miss that West Coast vibe that was so much a part of my life 30 years ago.
Nostalgia isn’t the only reason. I have tickets to see Valdy perform because he is as Canadian as good manners and as engaging a performer as any this country has spawned.
Many know of the story of Isaac Brock and his death at Queenston Heights on October 12, 1812 but many are unaware of the significant participation of the Six Nations and their native allies in this battle. Even the Battle of York on April 27, 1813 is informed by allegiances among the British and First Nations. Mohawk William Woodworth (Rawno:kwas, “he dips the words”), a member of the Bear Clan will attempt to clarify the native participation in the war and their significant role in the establishment of Canada.
Today’s genealogy lecture sponsored by my local library introduced me to an ancient world view that exists separately but equally within the community that surrounds me. Dr. Woodward spoke with authority, respect and a passion to make his room of descendants of “settlers” understand that there is alternate way of interpreting the War of 1812 and the world as we understand it.
He explained fundamental Mohawk values – the importance of being part of a greater good, and the confusion the Mohawk feel for those who seek to be individuals, separate from the community. The Mohawk word for people who pursue individualism translates as Rolling Head.
I descend from Rolling Heads, five centuries of them. My people chose non-conformity over the norm, again and again. They moved from country to country, community to community, seeking something they could not find in any one place, under any single political point of view.
Dr. Woodward painted a brilliant and enticing picture of a life of contentment when part of a something larger than an individual. Knowing your place, following the traditions of the ancestors, sharing, showing kindness, living in peaceful co-existence. He acknowledged that his people were warriors, not for the sake of war. His people fought to protect the eastern gate of the longhouse. They fought when necessary, valiantly, yet always aware that taking a life was not to be taken lightly. He spoke of the spiritual leaders of his people: The Great Peacemaker and Handsome Lake, who through example and speech changed the values and conduct of the people of the Six Nations.
Unfortunately I was unable to ask the question that burns in me, “Were not the great thinkers of the Mohawk people Rolling Heads?”
An influential Canadian broadcaster, Moses Znaimer, bought a pair of radio stations and the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP). With the purchase came an insurance company and a magazine. Znaimer brought to the package a visionary’s view of the Baby Boomer generation as Seniors… or, as he has dubbed them…Zoomers. He has been rewriting the image ever since.
One of the products he added to the mix is a conference culminating in a “$how”. I was at the show yesterday, and will be today, representing Louisiana tourism. (Booth 3211 if you are planning to attend.) My job let me talk to a great number of people about a State I know and think of as a second home.
When the day began it was them versus me. What did I have in common with a group of old folk, beyond a desire to travel? Somewhere between the biker riding a motorized mobility device, wearing his colours and a do rag, and the ladies of the Red Hat Society, I began to question the chasm I had assumed separated us.
Music heralded epiphany. The main stage began at 10 AM, with a performance by a young opera singer. I enjoyed from my booth vantage point. So did the early risers who were in line when the doors opened. The afternoon line-up was cover bands; Guess Who, Billy Joel, and Supertramp. Bands I followed when I began to develop a taste for Rock and Roll. Typical Seniors fare? Now that Zoomers are retiring, you bet it is. All the musicians, from the Canada’s Got Talent tenor, to the ersatz Supertramp, were welcomed enthusiastically, pulling people from the show floor to the main stage concert seating.
During that last soaring chorus of Stand Tall, I realized I too am a Zoomer. The curtain of denial has been lifted. I am Zoomer, hear me roar.