To reminisce…

The wisdom of the elderly
Courtesy pixabay

As we age, there is a tendency to look back on our lives and reminisce, pausing our current lives so that we can long for all that once was and all that we accomplished. We need to keep in mind, however, that life continues, for everyone, and that the cycle renews itself with each season, each new opportunity, each new addition to our family. There are myriad opportunities ahead of us, and we need to embrace them as they arrive in our lives. Tomorrow is a new day, with new memories to be made, and new opportunities to experience life in a different way than ever before.

Dr. Leif H. Smith,
Sports Psychology for Dummies

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The things I miss…

Funny how one thought or experience in the present can bring back a flood of memories from the past.

This morning, as I was preparing to write another juicy article on who-knows-what, I stumbled upon a brief piece of writing concerning the state of the music industry today. According to the author of the aforementioned article, things do not look good for artists and their music, let alone the livelihood of producers and songwriters.

One thing that stood out for me, though, was the author’s personal comment at the beginning of the article.

You know what? I miss my vinyl records.

I miss going to the record store (a real community experience) and buying an LP for $10-$15. I miss the larger sleeves with the cover art and the inside liner notes which told you who wrote what and who played on which track.

Ramin Streets is a Singer/Songwriter and Entrepreneur from Chicago, IL

For some inexplicable reason, his personal comments struck a chord in my heart that nearly brought tears to my eyes.

I can remember…dude, I hear you.

I miss that community experience also. I miss the sights, the sounds, and the smell of a used record store. I miss the eclectic motley crew that hung out there, like a rather innocuous bunch of groupies waiting for Elvis to return. I miss the big beautiful smiles of the chatty girls in their bell-bottom jeans and long flowing hair adorned with beads.

I couldn’t remember what kind of tops women used to wear in the 1970’s, so I asked my wife…she said none 😉 Lol.

Occasionally, I found a date or two amongst that warm bunch of female pseudo hippies. Imagine that – meeting a potential future wife in a used record store! Who would have thought of that? I bet Tinder didn’t.

We were young, free, and born to be wild.

Steppenwolf would appreciate the gesture of acknowledgement.

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Steppenwolf in 1970 (L-R: Goldy McJohn, Jerry Edmonton, John Kay, Larry Byrom, George Biondo). Courtesy Wikipedia.

Fast foward to the mid-1990’s, and I was a changed man. Like most adults, I had grown up. After all, I had a wife and three beautiful daughters to care for. Even my appearance had changed drastically. My long blonde hair had been cut considerably shorter, reduced to shaved sides and a mop-on-top – the de rigueur style of that era.

One afternoon, circa 1995, I strayed into an 11th Avenue record shop called Vintage Vinyl, apparently well known within the Queen city. The shop was nearly deserted. Where was the crowd of groupies and pseudo hippies? Nevertheless, the place was typical of the 1970’s used-record shops that I was familiar with, as a sixteen-year-old, in Toon Town. Rows upon rows of used LP’s and the quintessential array of drug paraphernalia that seems to go hand-in-hand with rock music – go figure? Missing was the floppy waterbed covered in sheepskin, the sweet smell of burning incense, and an assortment of 8-track tapes and cassettes. In their place were stacks and more stacks of used CD’s – something that I just happened to be looking for on that particular day. I found a couple of Yanni CD’s, along with some instrumental music from various artists. When I went up to the counter to pay for my rather eclectic selection of music, the salesperson gave me a look of complete disgust and contempt.

Yanni? You have got to be kidding me…that is not cool man!

I just looked him in the eye and smiled…and then, I offered him a few choice words of wisdom.

Yeah…whatever dude!

Little did he know that my intent was to find some elevator music, suitable to play as background music in the family portrait studio that I worked at. I never visited the record store again. But, I did come to appreciate and enjoy Yanni’s music 🙂

A few years ago my youngest daughter, much to my chagrin, bought her boyfriend an expensive modern turntable for Christmas. She had just discovered the sweet, mellow sound of LP’s and was anxious to find some good used albums. I suggested that they take a boo at Vintage Vinyl. Somehow, it had escaped me that the business had been under investigation by the local police. An entire family was charged for drug-related offences.

Duh! What do you think sustains these shops in the first place…records? 😉

The choices we make today become who we are tomorrow…

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The Ghostwriter

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It would seem appropriate, in this halloween season, to write about ghosts & goblins. But, is that what a ghostwriter is?

According to Wikipedia:

A ghostwriter is a writer who is hired to author literary or journalistic works, speeches or other texts that are officially credited to another person.

Those lofty words spoken by Barack Obama, during his two terms in the presidential office, were predominantly written by someone else. Yes, apparently Obama is an accomplished writer, having been a former editor of the Harvard Law Review. Nevertheless, the majority of his public speeches were written by an army of ghostwriters under the supervision of a Whitehouse Director of Speechwriting.

Have you ever heard of Jon Favreau or Cody Keenan? I didn’t think so.

Yet, the entire world was mesmerized by the content of Obama’s speeches and his skills as an orator. The people behind the scenes did not receive the public credit due them.

That is the life of a ghostwriter – all work and no credit given.

As a former professional communicator, I have had my fair share of speech and article writing on behalf of another. I was paid to do a particular job and had to be satisfied with that alone. Yet, it has never ceased to amaze me how CEO’s, Directors, and Politicians alike have accumulated mass followings based on their lofty words – the content or literary emphasis being the brainchild of someone else.

Another creative area similar to ghostwriting, is the photographic works that individuals produce. Often those works are produced by individuals for the companies that employ them or are directly commissioned by government. Personally, I have had considerable work published and/or displayed in public spaces that I will never receive credit for. All credit and copyright belong to either the company(s) that employed me, or are the public property of government. That is the nature of commissioned works of art, at least in my neck-of-the-woods.

It may seem that I am a little bitter about that – truthfully, I am not. But, I do visit the aforementioned places approximately once a year or so. I wander through the halls of these majestic public buildings searching for photographic works that I had something to do with, in whole or in part. What was done in “secret” as a ghost photographer is sufficient for me 🙂

Now that I am considerably far removed from the hustle and bustle of the work world, I am quite content. I had invested a significant part of my life in being a ghostwriter and a commercial photographer. I have no regrets.

As an amateur blogger, I do not feel the pressures of corporate deadlines, nor the need to be overly concerned about content. Grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc., are secondary to just having fun.

Whatever tickles your fancy. Have fun  🙂

American Woman: Guess Who?

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Introduction

Recently, I was listening to some of the earlier music of the Guess Who. One song that stood out amongst all the others was American Woman.

I can recall the first time I heard the song like it was yesterday. I was just a young kid hanging out at a place called Poplar Beach on Wakaw Lake, Saskatchewan. My siblings and I were there for Red Cross swimming lessons. At the top of the hill was a general store and confectionary. The building had an idyllic setting with an outdoor deck facing the beach and lake. In the corner was an old jukebox that was blasting out American Woman almost all day long, like it was the only record in the entire machine.

That particular song by the Guess Who has stood the test of time and is considered a classic today.

American woman, get away from me
American woman, mama, let me be
Don’t come a-knockin’ around my door
Don’t wanna see your shadow no more
Colored lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, I said get away
American woman, listen what I say, hey

American woman, said get away
American woman, listen what I say
Don’t come a-hangin’ around my door
Don’t wanna see your face no more
I don’t need your war machines
I don’t need your ghetto scenes
Colored lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, get away from me
American woman, mama, let me be

Go, gotta get away, gotta get away
Now go go go
I’m gonna leave you, woman
Gonna leave you, woman
Bye-bye
Bye-bye
Bye-bye
Bye-bye
You’re no good for me
I’m no good for you
Gonna look you right in the eye
Tell you what I’m gonna do
You know I’m gonna leave
You know I’m gonna go
You know I’m gonna leave
You know I’m gonna go, woman
I’m gonna leave ya, woman
Goodbye, American woman…

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The Willow Tree

The Willow Tree on Vimeo.

It’s difficult to imagine our backyard without this particular willow tree, but all living things must come to an end. The large willow tree has withstood harsh winters, aphid infestations, and drought over a period of approximately 40 years. The wondrous willow has provided shade, branches for children to climb on, nesting places for numerous species of birds, and majestic beauty for our neighbourhood.

Our family has fond memories and considerable sentiment for this willow tree, it’s removal bringing literal tears to my wife’s eyes. To a tree removal crew, it is just a tree. To us, the willow represents several generations of laughter and joy in our family. I can still picture our eldest daughter at 14 years-of-age, perched on a rather precarious branch, reading a good novel while sheltered from the glaring sun, our youngest shouting out with joy as she swung on the hammock fastened between two large branches, our small Shih Tzu, “Missy” getting her leash all tangled up around the trunk, looking rather sheepish and helpless.

With this in mind, it is time to say a heartfelt goodbye to an old friend who gave us more than we could possibly give back.

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Cutting down the stump before grinding.

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Memories of the Family Farm: A Place Called Home

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The modern grain farm in Saskatchewan.

I wish I had a better picture (closeup) of this farming activity last fall, but I was on my road bike and in a bit of a hurry. I was impressed with the amount of grain trucks and activity on this farm, just north of the Trans Canada Highway 1, along the west side of the Grand Coulee highway. Outside of the scale of activity, it reminded me so much of working on our family farm, harvesting with my dad and other relatives. As a teenager and young adult, I often hauled grain in one of our three-ton trucks or the semi tractor with a belly-dump trailer similar to those pictured above, except not tandem trailers.

Custom combine outfits were later to take over even that job. Farming has changed immensely, but my love for the land and the good memories of harvest time have not 🙂

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#LoveLife

Saying goodbye to an old friend…again

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2010 Jeep Wrangler

If you have ever driven and/or ridden in a Jeep Wrangler, you know how much fun they can be. In the winter, with a hard-top, they are a superb daily driver. This sturdy four-wheel-drive vehicle can handle just about anything you encounter, from icy highways to three foot (1 metre) snowdrifts. In the summer, with the top off, it is like having a whole new vehicle. The sights and sounds are just so much better in a Jeep.

We have slowly been downsizing our lives, and my beloved Jeep was destined for the chopping block. I was sad to let it go as I have so many great memories exploring Canada and the US in my almost invincible Jeep. As a cyclist, the Jeep sat in my driveway most of the time. In fact, it only had approximately forty thousand kilometres on it – I have put on more mileage on some of my bicycles!

Alas, an eighteen-year-old girl will now enjoy this fine utilitarian vehicle. Her rather personable and wealthy parents just purchased the Jeep for her as a gift yesterday. I hope she takes care of it and enjoys it as much as I did 🙂

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2010 Jeep Wrangler. Photographed along with a white tail deer and a fox at our family cabin in Candle Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada.

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