Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘coming up for air’ edition

  • The month of January has literally flown by for me. Usually I hate January because it seems to drag on forever. This January has been one of the best in recent memory. The first week sucked but a lot of that was my annoyance that the Christmas break was over and I really had to go back to work. Once I got passed that it was all ok.
  • As I have mentioned, I hired a research company to find my biological parents. At the beginning of the third week of January, she had located my biological father. I had almost forgot this was going on until I got an email from her with the information. We subsequently met a couple of days later. It was interesting because when I thought about my biological family, I really focused on my mother. I never thought about him. I was quite conflicted about the meeting with him. Although it went well in the sense that he did not reject me, I found the evening frustrating, as I could not get any real information. I will definitely see him again as I really would like to get to know him a bit. I also feel like he took advantage of my biological mother in that he was almost 10 years older than her. When I pointed that out she said she didn’t realize that he was that much older. Plus I get the sense that he drinks a lot[1] and it has really affected his mind. I really want to meet my half-brothers as I feel they may be able to give me more insight.
  • This week I was able to make contact with my biological mother! We talked on Tuesday and met on Wednesday. I was so stressed out when I was meeting my biological father; I was quite relaxed meeting my mother. We are quite alike in a number of ways. I really went from feeling like an alien[2] to seeing myself reflected in someone else. She clearly suffered for being forced to give me up for adoption.[3] I, of course, want to jump in spend as much time with her as possible but she is not there yet. So I am backing off and giving her time.[4] She said she has a lot of things coming up in the next couple of weeks that will make her too busy to spend time together. I think she also needs some serious time to process this reunion. She has never told anyone that she had a baby she gave up for adoption. She has told me she will tell people in her life. I am confident that we will have a great relationship once she has some time.
  • Deb, Angelina and the dogs are my rock. I have a safe place to come home to where I am loved and accepted no matter what. This is something my biological mother never had. I really want her to come here and share what we have.
  • I have been feeling so much better since I began to incorporate music into every day. Music really is the thing that keeps me sane, balanced and in harmony with the world. Lately I have been enjoying David Francey,  Richard Shindell, the Decemberists, Paul Simon, and Cara Luft. I am hoping to go to a house concert Cara is putting on in Maple Ridge.
  • Talking about dogs – Zoe is so happy in the morning. She runs like a puppy and if she can find a toy she is over-joyed. She goes out to pee, comes in for her treat[5]. I got some great pictures of her with my new iPhone 4S:
Zoe - looking like a puppy!
Zoe waiting not so patiently for my breakfast!

[1] He might have given it away by the 2 vodkas on the rocks he drank while we were at the freaking White Spot!

[2] I have several idiosyncrasies like not being able to stand the feeling of dirt on my hands and so does she!

[3] Her mother forced her to give me up as they would not have supported her in keeping me in anyway.

[4] Anyone who knows me will realize how difficult this is. I am not known for patience and waiting when it comes to something I want. I think this may be maturity showing.

[5] The only reason she will go outside and get her feet wet is for that little chunk of pupperoni!

Music Imperialist – Richard Shindell – Part 1

Richard Shindell

I first heard Richard Shindell when I was shopping at Suzanne Bell’s in Vancouver. I heard him as part of a folk super group called Cry Cry Cry. Together with Lucy Kaplansky and Dar Williams they released an album of cover songs. The song I really liked was ‘Cold Missouri Waters.’ It was a song written by James Keelaghan originally. The harmonies in this song provided by Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky are fabulous. They covered not only other artists’ songs but each others as well. Dar Williams’ version of ‘The Ballad of Mary Magdalene’ written by Richard Shindell is great. She brings another level to that song that surpasses the original.

Richard Shindell is a master storyteller in his songs. Shindell’s first album, Sparrow’s Point, came out in 1992. It has one of his most popular and lasting songs: ‘Are you Happy Now.’ This song is quite interesting, it is your typical break up song but it is done in an upbeat way that is almost cheery. My favourite version of this song is on the live ‘Courier’ album. Released in February 2002, this is my all time favourite album. It has many of his best songs live. Unlike many artists, Shindell’s music is fabulous live. He has outstanding acoustic guitar skills and makes great harmonies with Lucy Kaplansky who provided back up vocals on this album. There are two US Civil War era songs: ‘Courier’ and the outstanding ‘Arrowhead.’ Arrowhead is a captivating song about a young man who goes to fight in the Civil War and he ends up helping the cook. The song tells his story of how he loses the arrowhead the cook entrusted him with and the eventual loss of the war.

‘Fishing’ is another amazing song about how illegal immigrants are treated in the US. Basically, the man written about in the song is being asked to provide information to the government about others or they will go after his family. He also references Canada and a ‘lake in Ontario.’ Another outstanding song is ‘A Summer Wind, A Cotton Dress,’ a song about unrequited love really speaks to the experience many people have when they are attracted to someone but unable to act on it for whatever reason.

What makes Richard Shindell’s music so fabulous is how he weaves stories in song that speak to the human condition. Whether the story is historic or current he finds a way to speak to his listeners. This ability coupled with his fabulous guitar work and strong vocals makes him one of the best singer-songwriters around. Check back for part 2 on Richard Shindell!