Music from The Swamp – the ‘Richard Shindell’ edition

Richard Shindell is one of my all-time favourite folk singers.[1] He hails from the United States but has been living in Argentina for many years. The very first song I ever heard Shindell sing was Cold Missouri Waters originally written by James Keelaghan. He partnered with Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky[2] forming Cry Cry Cry and they covered mostly each other’s songs. This song compeletly blew me away the first time I heard it over 10 years ago.

It was very difficult to find Shindell’s music in the early part of 2000. Record stores didn’t carry him and the ease of music purchasing online was still in its infancy. Music sharing sites like Napster didn’t have any of his music then. I can remember ordering the original Cry Cry Cry cd from my local record store then. The first cd I was able to purchase was The Courier. This is a live cd and really cemented my love affair with Shindell’s music. There are several standouts for me on this album.


This is one of two songs about the US Civil War on Courier. Shindell really shines when he tells stories. This song is about a young kid who joined the Confederate army. I couldn’t find the album version. Here is a different live version.


This song is about an American immigration agent trying to get information about the ‘campesionos’ from one of their own. He does this by threating his wife. In the song he weaves a very interesting story while the tension continues to build in the song. I couldn’t find the Courier edition of this song either.


In Transit, Shindell tells the story of a nun who leads a choir at a prison. The story is about the difficulties she encounters getting there. This song, like many of his songs, is quietly political; offering commentary about the issues of the day. Interestingly, he will change some of the lyrics when he performs it live. Unfortunately this is not a great recording.

A Summer Wind a Cotton Dress

Another story, this time about a relationship that cannot be consummated because both people are married.

Are you Happy Now?

Are you Happy Now is seriously the best break up song ever!

All of Richard Shindell’s music is available on iTunes.

[1] This will be the first of several posts covering Shindell’s music by album.

[2] Lucy Kaplansky often toured with Shindell providing back up vocals.

Dispatches from the Swamp –the ‘don’t eat the Chinese food’ edition

  • We have lived in Maple Ridge for almost 6 years. We tried most of the Chinese food restaurants in town and gave up as they were all uniformly bad. Yesterday, when we checked the mail, we got a menu for one we had tried before and saw it had been voted the best Asian food restaurant in MR for 8 years in a row. I am not sure where they find these people or who voted for them because the food was terrible. Our honey garlic ribs seemed to just have some V-H sauce poured over them. The green beans with beef in black bean sauce had been frozen. The beef was seriously mystery meat. The chow mein noodles looked like Mr. Noodles. You get the idea. A word of caution, don’t ever order Chinese food in Maple Ridge and especially don’t order from King’s Kitchen. It was so bad.
  • We seriously have the world’s worst neighbours. They blasted music all Friday and Saturday night. Then, this morning, they are up at the crack of dawn yelling at the dogs outside. They seem to spend a lot of time in their front yard where they yell at the dogs when they bark.[1] Their reaction to a barking dog is about the same as ours to potential aggression. I am not sure why they think this is ok. We hear them all the time. They are loud and obnoxious. At least once it gets hot we will have an air conditioner in that window and we will hear them less.
  • Tru is the strangest dog I have ever met. Her food choices are bizarre. She also does this other really strange thing – she chatters her teeth. The other day she was doing it and it seemed like she wanted to play – so Deb played with her. We also think she has been sent her by Madison to finish off the job of killing us. Tru is always in the way. And as you approach her and try to go around her she just gets more in your way.
  • Edith seems to be doing ok without Archie. She is louder and more demanding. She goes through a helluva a lot of greens for one guinea pig!


[1] This would be different from when they let their dogs bark non-stop in the backyard.

Opening up the Abortion Debate in Canada

Well, sadly, it would seem that I was prescient when I wrote Reproductive Rights Discourse on March 18, 2012. In this post, I explored how Canada is affected by political discourse coming out of the United States. In the last 2 years, there has been an assault of biblical proportions on not only abortion but also contraception in the US. Even though Stephen Harper has said he is not interested in opening up the abortion debate he seems willing to let his backbencher Stephen Woodworth do it for him.

Motion 312, put forward by Woodworth, seeks to change the definition of when a fetus becomes a child. Referencing Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada, a fetus becomes a human being once it is born. Woodworth is asking the following questions:

  1. what medical evidence exists to demonstrate that a child is or is not a human being before the moment of complete birth?
  2. is the preponderance of medical evidence consistent with the declaration in Subsection 223(1) that a child is only a human being at the moment of complete birth?
  3. what are the legal impact and consequences of Subsection 223(1) on the fundamental human rights of a child before the moment of complete birth?
  4. what are the options available to Parliament in the exercise of its legislative authority in accordance with the Constitution and decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada to affirm, amend, or replace Subsection 223(1)?

The questions Woodworth is seeking to answer in Motion 312 would fundamentally change how abortion is viewed and provided in Canada. If passed, this motion could mandate all sorts of restrictions on access to abortion.

Now, one might want to ask why Stephen Harper has allowed this motion to go forward. There is no way that Harper the Control Freak would allow anything to go forward without his approval. So even though he says he does not want the abortion debate opened he is allowing just that to happen. He says he will vote against the motion but what does that really mean? By allowing this motion to move forward he is adding to the discourse that seeks to impose severe limitations on a woman’s right to choose. And, as students of discourse theory know, the more we talk about something the more powerful the discourse becomes and before we know it trans-vaginal ultrasounds are the norm prior to abortions in Canada.

Now, lest you think it is only the Conservative party of Canada who is seeking to oppress women let’s take a look at the Liberal Party of Canada. Justin Trudeau has been tweeting, quite proudly, that the LPC will have a free vote on this issue. That’s right folks, the LPC is also prepared to allow their MPs to vote their ‘conscience.’ This pisses me off. A quick scan through the list of MPs indicates 5 of 35 Liberals elected to Parliament are women. When Liberal MPs are allowed to vote their ‘conscience’ 30 men will get to have a say on what women do with their bodies. This is an excellent example of why the LPC is doing so badly in Canada: there is no leadership, no ideology to which people can adhere. It is in these really tough decisions that leadership makes a difference. Bob Rae has an opportunity to show he can lead. Sadly, I think we will all be disappointed.

What I find even more disturbing is the lack of leadership from Justin Trudeau. This is a man who grew up in a political house with one of the best leaders Canada has ever had.[1] He should understand how important ideology is to politics. Did he not learn lessons from his father? He is also of a younger generation than Bob Rae. This does not bode well his future in politics.

Now onto the NDP; Nikki Ashton announced “In Canada, in 2012, a woman’s right to choose is not up for negotiation.’ She confirmed that the NDP would vote unanimously against the motion. Don’t forget that the NDP now has over a hundred members from Quebec where Catholicism still runs deep. Tom Mulcair, unlike the wimpy Rae and Harper, is not allowing his MPs to a free vote. He understands that to do so would be to muddy waters about the real issue, which is safe access to abortion for all Canadian women.

Living in a society where men are the overwhelming decision makers about women’s access to reproductive choice is so incredibly disturbing. This makes it clear that women are still second-class citizens in this country. When men are able to carry a child to term, then perhaps they can have a say. Until then they have no right to force their or their god’s[2] will on women.

[1] I can never decide who was the best leader: Trudeau or Chretien.

[2] Don’t forget, most people who are anti-choice are doing it because of religious doctrine.

BC Sawmills

It was with a heavy heart that I heard about the latest sawmill exploding in Prince George. I actually began to wonder if this a common end to sawmills, as there have been so many explosions and fires in recent history. It turns out there is a reason this is happening. Apparently, it is the increases milling of pine beetle killed wood.  It is drier than other wood and has an oil or residue that makes the dust stick to the saws more than other wood. This was according to a sawmill employee as broadcasted on a CBC call in today.

At least the government is acting. The Labour Minister, Margaret MacDiarmid, has confirmed that she and officials from Worksafe BC and the industry will be meeting to confirm a plan. At a minimum, all the sawmills in the province will be inspected. I am sure this is cold comfort to the family of the dead worker and the 24 people injured.

Sawmills have been a way of life in BC since Europeans arrived here. We have a huge renewable resource here in our province full of forests. In many small towns in BC, the local sawmill is the major employer. One really has to ask why it has taken so long to organize a safety plan for the mills in the province.

Celebrating the 1000th Dispatches from the Swamp Post

To celebrate this huge milestone, I thought I would give you the top 10 posts from the blog. I can hardly believe that I have been blogging since August 8, 2007.

#10 Mobile Me: Back to my Mac Views: 338 Published: April 14, 2010

It is amazing to me how quickly tech moves. Apple is retiring Mobile Me at the end of June in favour of iCloud. I am still not a huge fan of iCloud in that I don’t use it for documents or files I need/use on a daily basis. iCloud is not as straightforward as Dropbox. It only automatically syncs iWork documents. Since I move back and forth between Word and Pages and hate Numbers  this does not work for me. Dropbox on the other hand is easy to save any file. Plus they recently doubled all the storage space you have earned through referrals!

#9 Extreme Begging and Other Dog Stories Views: 364 Published: June 9, 2008

Begging for food is a theme in our house. However, I have to say, no one does it better than Zoe!

#8 How do you solve a problem like Maria? Views: 397 Published: July 7, 2008

Well, I did continue to watch the show to the end. What can I say? I like a good train-wreck.

#7 Raw Feeding 101 Views: 444 Published: August 19, 2008

I have been accused of being a raw-feeding evangelist. I’ll own that.

#6 How do you solve a problem like Maria part 2 Views: 477 Published July 29, 2008

It was such a train-wreck.

#5 ICBC Hit and Run Coverage Views: 679 Published: October 4, 2010

I never did get the damage fixed. It was too minor to spend $300. I still hate ICBC.

#4 Living with a Dying Dog Views: 732 Published: January 5, 2010

We lost Gemma a couple of months later. She was such a great dog.

#3 The Inmates have taken over the Asylum Part 2 Views: 1673 Published: May 10, 2009

We have been so blessed to have known so many great dogs.

#2 My Mr. Lube Experience Views: 2557 Published: August 27, 2007

This post is still generating comments! I should blog more about cars!

#1 Dropbox vs iDisk Views: 2697 Published: April 12, 2010

As I mentioned above tech moves so quickly these days. Dropbox has certainly held up for me. I cannot imagine moving to another file system at this point. Plus given the recent doubling of space, I have 13.75 GBs of space and I am not using half of that at this point.

Thank you to everyone who has been reading my ramblings over the last 1000 posts. I look forward to the next 1000 posts!



Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I think we fixed Ruby’ edition

  • I have to say, I thought it would take much longer to fix Ruby. A couple of evenings of ‘puppy massage’ and she is now rolling over on to her back for belly rubs. She is wiggling around and trying to scratch her back. She has become way more engaged. Now when we move, she follows us, ever hopeful some morsel will fall into her perpetually open little maw. She still chooses to sleep in her door less crate but she is pretty tuned in to what is going on. She does the best little dance when she comes in wanting her treat. Now, if she would just learn her name.
  • Tru is holding her own. She has never met a carb she didn’t like. This is a dog who will eat fried potatoes over bacon; cookies over steak; and pasta over roast chicken. We have never come across a dog who has such strange tastes in food. We are not sure if she was starved or if she survived on garbage. I think she ate whatever her people ate and maybe they were vegetarian.
  • Tru and Ruby are now official members of The Swamp pack. They have been adopted. They have fit in quite well.
  • Everyone else is doing really well. We think Zoe may not be as old as we were told. She has not changed at all in the almost 3 years she has been here. Piper is losing some weight so she doesn’t have difficulty breathing in the heat this year.
  • It has been so nice since we hooked up to the city sewer a couple of months ago. We have no more stench that migrates into the house. This time last year when we decide opening a window might be great we no longer have to listen to the noisy neighbours because we can open one up on the quiet side of the house. In the past, there was no way we could open those windows as the smell was overpowering. Sadly the backyard is still a swamp.
  • The frogs have been singing for weeks now. The ribbits are definitely the sound of spring at The Swamp.

Swampy Quote of the Day

If you vote to split the free enterprise vote, all you’re going to do is elect Adrian Dix the premier of B.C., and not for one term, probably two,”

Christy Clark, Premier of BC

The BC Liberals[1] are running scared. They keep harping about the Glen Clark or the Mike Harcourt governments as an evil specter of what the NDP can do if they are elected. It’s crap. They are acting like we are stupid and have fallen under some sort of NDP, Adrian Dix spell. Christy seems to think that we should forget about all the lies told by her party.

The BC Liberals are being encouraged to merge with the BC Conservatives. I think both parties are far too egotistical for this to happen. If they did manage to put their power issues aside I am sure the electorate will see it for what it actually is: a desperate ploy to hold on to power.

[1] We use the title “Liberal” loosely here. They are now defining themselves as the ‘free enterprise’ party. Ya, k, yawn.

Innovation from The Swamp – the ‘Zoe Diet™’

We have the next new greatest diet plan ever living here at The Swamp! Zoe is our secret weapon. I think if we could market her to normal people we would make a small fortune. Here is why: whenever I eat something she claws my legs and barks at me non-stop until I give her what I am eating. She usually will allot me 5 minutes before she starts her tirade.

Do I look capable of being a tyrant?

If I am eating in the living room she starts by popping up on her back legs and clawing at my chair. This invariably annoys me quickly because we have leather furniture. Then she barks. About every 10 seconds she will let out one bark.[1]

When that fails[2] she will jump up on my footrest and paw my stomach.[3] When that fails to work to her satisfaction[4] she will launch onto my chest. This means that all 20 pounds of her lands on my lungs with her face right in my face.[5] Then I put her down and we start over again, wash, rinse, repeat.

Yesterday I was eating breakfast at my desk. Zoe detected that I could possibly be eating and came into my office. She started clawing at my lower leg.[6] She then stretched up on her back legs and clawed my chair and started barking. I ignored her for a while as I tried to enjoy my eggs and tater tots. Shihtzus are knows for their tenacity and Zoe has that in spades. Finally, I give in and give her a piece of egg. She sniffs it and turns her head away. She doesn’t even like eggs! Then I gave her a tater tot. She didn’t want that either. I thought I was free now that she knew I wasn’t interested I thought I would be permitted to finish my meal in peace and quiet. Huh, was I ever wrong.

It's all lies. Here I am patiently waiting for my turn.

Here is the thing I have learned about living with Zoe: she always gets her way. It does not matter what we do to try to change a behavior we always lose. If I were to put her out of the room while I ate[7] she would create such a raucous noise that there would be no peace for anyone in the house. One time I thought I was going to outsmart her when she was up on my footrest clawing at my stomach for my food. I decided I would suddenly lower the footrest so she landed on the floor. I did it once, I did it a second time and the third time, instead of landing on the floor she launched on my head. I lost.

I need a rest after driving my humans to distraction.

Such is life with a Shihtzu. They are crafty and tenacious. Zoe is a prime example of a self-actualized Shihtzu. She has come a long way from her former puppy mill life. Thanks again to Turtle Gardens for rescuing our little despot. Yvette’s dreams of her becoming a ‘yuppy puppy’ have long been achieved.

So does anyone want to try the Zoe Diet™?

[1] I have actually become very good at ignoring her barking. It fades to background noise for a while anyway.

[2] Which in her little mind means she has not been fed fast enough.

[3] I then tell her: “Zoe, don’t do that it! It hurts mommy.” But she is an evil, Machiavellian dictator and she does not care. For her the ends definitely justify the means!

[4] See footnote 2.

[5] Sometimes I think she wants to take the food right out of my mouth.

[6] I am dreading capri season!

[7] I’d probably gain weight.

Music from the Swamp – the ‘Matthew Barber’ Edition

Several months ago I heard Matthew Barber on the CBC when he released his most recent eponymous album. Barber’s music has been described as indie, alternative with a few country twinges. His latest album is actually his sixth. His first album, ‘Means and Ends’ was released in 2003. Matthew Barber graduated from Queen’s[1] and then went on to McMaster and earned a Master of Arts degree in philosophy.[2] Music seems to run the family – his sister Jill Barber is also an accomplished musician.[3] Unfortunately, none of his songs are in YouTube so I can’t link to them. Check him out in iTunes!

So, in no particular order, are some of my favourite Matthew Barber songs:

‘Man in a Movie’ – The first couple of times I heard this song was on the Alaskan crusie I took with my mother in June of 2011.

‘Oh Lexi’ – This is a simple song but I love it. The piano in it is phenomenal. Deb hates it.

‘Hawks on a Highway’ – is from True Believer

‘Somebody Sometime’ – from ‘Ghost Notes’ is my current favourite!

[1] I also graduated from Queen’s!

[3] I have tried to like Jill Barber’s music but I can’t get into it.