Music Monday celebrates Joni Mitchell

Last week was all about women for me, beginning with Monday’s music post featuring Ella Fitzgerald,  A few days later, a girlfriend and I attended a wonderful exhibit by American artist, Georgia O’Keeffe.

Fantastic show and worth seeing if you’re in Toronto, closing July 30th so go soon.

On Saturday, I hosted an all-female barbeque, It was great to bring six smart women of diverse backgrounds together for an evening of food and fun.

As I was trying to think of whom to feature this week, Joni Mitchell appeared on T.V. in a news item.

She seemed the obvious choice.

“Little Green” was written in 1967 about the daughter she gave up for adoption. Mitchell reunited with her thirty years later.

And then another woman made the news … Princess Diana died twenty years ago, hard to believe. 😦

Time flies, so I hope you take it slow and enjoy.

~ eden

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Filed under Important Announcements, Musical Mondays

Music Monday celebrates Ella Fitzgerald

Born April 25, 1917, Ella Fitzgerald, often referred to as the First Lady of Song would’ve turned 100 this year.

To this day, there is no other singer I’ve heard with a voice as pristine as hers.

In this version of Bobby Darin’s classic, she forgets the lyrics and improvises the entire verse. And she scats like no one’s business!

If this song does not put a swing in your step, nothing will.

Smile and have a great week. 😀

~ eden

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Filed under Musical Mondays

Music Monday says “Hey Joe”

“Hey Joe” is a song that has been recorded by numerous artists, most notably The Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966.

This weekend, I binge-watched a psychosexual series called Gypsy on Netflix. Charlotte Gainsbourg’s recording of “Hey Joe” appears during an edgy scene between two women.

Haunting and moody, it was the perfect song for the scene.

If you’re interested in watching a good psychological suspense, I’d recommend Gypsy. It’s a slow burning series and I appreciated the good writing.

Hope you enjoy it and have a wonderful week.

~ eden

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IN TWO MINDS ~ A story written with Bill Kirton (@carver22) for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

The prompt for R.B. Wood’s Word Count Podcast #67  asked that we use JUNE in the setting AND the picture below:

For this story, the fabulous Bill Kirton and I are at it again!

You’ll recall I joined forces with Bill on two other shows:  “The Wrong Shoes” and Selfie Love.”

“In Two Minds” came together quickly, and we think it’s one of our best stories to date. I wrote parts 1 & 3, and Bill penned 2 & 4. There was no discussion of plot or characters prior to writing each part. We simply played off each other’s segment.

The title (Bill’s idea) is just as it implies, an exploration of two minds, evident in both the story and our collaboration.

Listen to Bill and me reading the story here.

You can also learn all the latest from the Facebook page for the Wordcount Podcast. Please LIKE the page if you get a chance. I know R.B. would love to have more people on the show. It’s a great way to hone your writing chops and be part of a supportive group of authors.

Thank you and hope you enjoy the story!

flourish

I hate crowds, but here I am at one of the busiest places in New York on a June afternoon. The Jones Beach Theatre kicks off the summer with a free concert featuring famous musicians, and some not so famous. Though it is never confirmed, rumours swirl that music agents dot the crowd in search of fresh talent. The concert attracts musicians from all across the country and goes on for the entire day. It’s believed that catching the attention of one influential agent amongst 15,000 concertgoers is still a better odd at success than uploading a viral Youtube video.

I would not be here if it were not for James. He and I have just started seeing each other; it’s our third date. His teenage son is in a band that will play here today. Given the chaotic start, I imagine their band won’t appear until the second half of the show.

It’s only noon, and it’s sweltering.

Greasy people in shorts and tank tops, smelling of coconut scented lotion, are in constant motion around me. We are seated in the middle of a row where twenty-somethings shuffle by us to get to the end of the aisle or to their seats. They carry trays of beer and snacks. I stand every time someone passes in front of me, not to give them room, but to avoid having them touch me.

My germaphobia is on high alert.

“You all right, Maggie?” James touches my arm lightly as I sit down again. “You must be hot in that long sleeve blouse.”

I shake my head. A bead of sweat pools at my hairline, but I dab it before it rolls down my face. “No, no … I’m fine.” It’s a lie of course, but I like James. I’m willing to tough it out for a few hours with him here.

He leans toward me and brushes a sticky strand of hair from my cheek. “You’re such a good sport for coming out here with me today, especially in this heat.” He smiles in a way that makes my stomach drop a little. “How about I go buy you a souvenir T-shirt?” he says. “I’m sure it will be a lot cooler than what you’re wearing.”

I am hot, and only getting hotter. I suddenly feel heat rush to my face. “Thank you, James, but I won’t be able to wear it anyway.”

“Why not?”

“It’s … it’s the formaldehyde. They use it to treat new materials, so I never wear anything new unless I wash it first.”

James furrows his brow as he looks at me. 

Have I offended him?

+++

Bizarre creatures, women. Necessary, essential even, but so hard to fathom. There’s not much I like more than putting on a fresh, brand new shirt. Does that mean I’ve got a thing for formaldehyde? Poor Maggie. She’s sitting there, obviously uncomfortable from the heat, but it’s more than that. It’s the people. I sort of knew it from how I first met her. In a library of all places. Who the hell goes to libraries nowadays? Well, obviously Maggie does. I was there to look up something for Cal. He’s written a couple of new songs for the band which they think could be their breakthrough. I have to admit the lyrics are pretty impressive but he said there was something missing from the second one. He’d been a bit ambitious, tried threading different sets of references together and wanted to get Norse myths into it. He’d looked online but hadn’t found anything extreme enough – he wanted weird hybrid creatures, the things that popped out when Gods had sex with humans – so I said I’d check the stacks in the university library. And there she was – not in the main building, but at a single table tucked away in a corner of the stack. Little halo of sunlight around her hair, stunningly beautiful – so much so that you’d expect her to be gliding about where there were others to admire her. But no, she was in a near empty building, reading quietly amongst dust and volumes that were rarely opened.

She’s an enigma. OK, we’re still new to one another but at least she’s here. I really thought she’d say no when I invited her to come. I mean, The Jones Beach Theatre? First concert of the summer? Hardly the place for someone who’s agoraphobic. But she’s here. That’s a positive, right? But can anything come of it really? I can’t help feeling I’m invading her space. When I brushed back her hair then, she flinched. Only slightly, a conditioned reflex. She smiled to hide it, but it was there. And yet we’ve kissed, I’ve held her. Nothing much more yet and I’m trying not to rush things, but if she always needs to stay in that cocoon of hers, well…

God, the noise. That’s the trouble with these things – most of the stuff onstage is derivative. Tribute bands without admitting it. The present lot are probably copying Spinal Tap, with the amps set to 11. I’ll be glad when Cal’s set’s over. I won’t look for him. His mum’s here somewhere so she’ll probably find him and embarrass him in front of the band. Maggie and I will just find somewhere quiet. Yes, quiet would be good.

+++

I’m relieved when James takes my hand and brushes his lips over the fingertips. Despite the heat, a shiver runs down my spine.

He is unlike the others. James is gentle and considerate, and when I’m with him, I feel like what I imagine a normal woman would feel like. I can only owe this to him being a father. He cares about more than just himself. I sensed that when he approached me at the library where we first met. He immediately apologized for disturbing me and sat in a poorly lit area so he would not infringe on my space. I felt bad for him, trying to read in the dark like that. When I gestured for him to sit closer to the window and the light, closer to me, he almost seemed reluctant to do so, but he did.

I always fall for the shy, quiet types.

It’s been two years since Mike, even if I’m reminded of him every time I walk by the overgrown flowerbed in my backyard. The patch of wild flowers is hidden behind my wood shed, a dilapidated structure used to store garden equipment, along with leftover cans of paints and cleaners. I repainted that garage with three coats of oil paint. The smell was awful, but for a time, it masked the odour of the body.

It was with Mike that I learned everything I needed to know about formaldehyde. Mike turned out to be an abusive drunk after our initial honeymoon phase. My biggest mistake was inviting him to live with me after only a few months. He must have been on his best behaviour before then because he changed immediately after moving in. From the moment he came home after work, he drank beer and hardly moved from the couch in front of the TV. Next came the hard liquor, soon followed by his violent fits of rage.

Ten drops of methanol added to his scotch over three nights was all it took. The chemical metabolized into formaldehyde inside his body and led to respiratory failure. Mike’s asthma sped up his demise. The hardest part was keeping his body in the shed while I dug up the flowerbed.

But James is not Mike. He’s different from the rest. He’s not a loner. He has people who depend on him. That will make it difficult for me to fall back into old patterns.

The others are gone now, in the past. James is my future.

I palm his face and offer a sweet smile. “I’m just being silly,” I say, “Of course, you can buy me a T-shirt. I’d love to have one as a reminder of our day.”

“Excellent!” he says. A grin lifts the corners of James’ big, brown eyes. He appears genuinely pleased.

+++

You know, maybe I’m seeing problems where none exist. As I’ve said, we’ve kissed, touched, and she’s here beside me. Even in this heat, she’s still looking great. I couldn’t resist kissing her hand. And she let me, even smiled. It was magical – her and me, a little oasis of quiet in the din. And she touched my cheek, trailed her fingers over my lips. No recoils, no flinching. Maybe it’s my imagination again. It’s just that she seems so fragile, vulnerable. That’s so bloody attractive nowadays, when women’s sexuality has become so … well, aggressive. She’s probably just shy. I’m going to get her that T-shirt but I don’t want to leave her alone here with all these strangers around her. We’ll get it after Cal’s set.

I can’t help feeling sort of special that she’s let me get this close. It seems like a real date, the first. The other two we’ve had so far were fine but there was a distance. We were feeling our way – both of us. You know, I even think she may be a virgin. I know it’s unlikely. I mean she’s well into her thirties, but there’s that mystery about her, that otherness. Makes me want to protect her. I know, I know – typical male fantasy, macho crap, but I can’t help it. It’s that fragility. When I was at her place for dinner, it was almost a parody of the single female. The place was immaculate, the kitchen spotless. She’s a wonderful cook. The meal wasn’t at all fussy and yet the flavours were superb, but she blushed when I said so, waved away the compliment and said something about adding chorizo oil at the last minute.

But she’s no handyman – the garden, the shed, they’re just embarrassing really. It’s a nice place, lots of potential, but it needs a bit of TLC. The shed ought to come down. Apart from the state it’s in, it’s right at the front, hiding the bit of garden that’s got the most potential. The central flowerbed’s a disaster. All around the edge she’s got delphiniums, lavatera, hollyhocks, foxgloves – that sort of thing. It’s like a wall of flowers and, in the middle, where you can hardly see them, there are phlox, Californian poppies and peonies. It needs a man’s touch. I’m toying with the idea of surprising her. She has a graphics conference in Massachusetts next month. I’m thinking of giving the garden a make-over while she’s away. Put up a new shed, fix the trellis at the side of the house. Most of all dig over and replant that bed.

That’s for later, though. For now, I’ll just sit with the beautiful Maggie and watch my own kid, whose nappies I used to change, excite these thousands of people with his music. Life doesn’t get much better.

flourish

Thank you for reading and/or listening. Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.

~eden

**

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Filed under Short Stories & Poetry, Writing Joint Ventures

Music Monday asks “If You Could Read My Mind”

Canada celebrated its 150th birthday two days ago on July 1st. Fifty years ago for the Centennial, the great Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot performed at the celebration.

He did so again this Canada Day and sung one of my favourites from his vast repertoire.

Lightfoot said his divorce inspired the lyrics for this song. The second verse always brings tears to my eyes.

… If I could read your mind love
What a tale your thoughts could tell
Just like a paperback novel
The kind that drugstores sell
When you reach the part where the heartaches come
The hero would be me
Heroes often fail
And you won’t read that book again
Because the ending’s just to hard to take …

Have a great week, and to my American family and friends … Happy 4th of July!

~eden

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3 things I’ve learned from writing

1. The process of writing means more to me than the finished product.

I’ve gone back to reading several of my old works. Admittedly, some pieces are cringeworthy; others still resonate true today. This comes as no surprise, really. The familiarity of what I’m reading allows me to bypass the story and concentrate on elements of craft. I see things differently than when I first published in 2011.

When I was a non-writing reader, the rules of grammar and punctuation only came to light if I saw an obvious error. Poor sentence structure, the overuse of adverbs, word repetition, etc., were but fleeting impressions.

Now, I’m more focused on how a sentence can be improved upon. This is probably why writers are advised to read — a lot. We feed off and learn from the writing of better authors.

Although completion of a short story, novella, or novel is cause for celebration once it’s published, it is no longer mine. The process of writing is what is important from a learning perspective, and remaining attached to a story after it’s made public serves no purpose.

2. The more I write, the more I learn about others and the less I know about myself.

Writing fiction demands that I look at the world through the lens of others, to inhabit my characters in order write their stories.

By gaining insight into others, I’ve discovered how little I know about myself.

Allow me to explain.

Because I must expand my imagination to write fiction, I sometimes question if it is truly me who comes up with the stories. In the genre of mystery and suspense, I’ve researched by reading a lot of true crime. It’s not surprising I’ve filled my mind with some awful images. That I am also a news junkie only adds to the chaos inside my head.

It’s great for fiction, but not so good for maintaining daily calm.

To stay grounded, I meditate and do yoga. In meditation, all kinds of thoughts come up. I simply observe them, attaching neither good nor bad feelings toward them. Acceptance of these thoughts trains my mind to stay calm and be in the moment. This translates to a more easygoing manner outside of meditation, and hopefully, more awareness.

Yoga serves to strengthen my physical being, which is intimately connected to the mind.

To create believable characters, it’s necessary to nurture them to behave in a way that might be contrary to my own behaviour. The important thing is staying true to myself when I’m not in my fictional world.

3. Writing can be all encompassing.

Writing absorbs me when I’m “in the zone.” At these times, I don’t need food or sleep, and I avoid all distractions. My only purpose is to ride the creative wave for as long as it will take me and as far as it will go.

It doesn’t happen too often, but it’s an amazing feeling when it does.

+++

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from writing? Please feel free to share. 🙂

XX

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Music Monday says “Get Lucky”

I heard this song last week and can’t get it out of my mind. It’s not a new song, nor the first time I heard it, but this time it finally stuck.

The video is a shiny piece of space-age funk mixed with anime and Pharrell.

How can you go wrong?

Have a great week and hope luck is on your side. 😀

~ eden

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SILENCE #poem

It’s been a long time since I wrote a poem. This is one I started more than a year ago when I was having a difficult time writing. I’d forgotten about it until I perused the many drafts on my blog which have yet to be published.

The poem says a lot for how I was feeling and how I continue to feel at times. I never published it, probably because I wanted it to be perfect before I did.

Today, I could not feel more imperfect. I don’t say this to solicit sympathy. It’s simply a statement of fact that some days will be less rosy than others.

Even if the poem goes unread, it will no longer just be silent words in my head.

+++

Silence

Silent

I’ve been silent for so long

So silent I’ve lost my own voice

So silent I don’t know what I sound like anymore

When I speak, I gauge another’s reaction to my voice

I see confusion where I once saw recognition

I sense disagreement where there was once agreement

I feel discomfort in the space between us

Where a pillowy air of comfort used to be

How did I get here?

I’ve been too quiet

For too long

It’s time to hear my voice again

Time to speak and express

It’s no longer important how I came to be here

It’s only important where I go from here

 

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Music Monday features Sugar, Sugar and @ThatSugarFilm

I watched an excellent film on Netflix called That Sugar Film, written and directed by Australian filmmaker, Damon Gameau.

The documentary follows Gameau in an experiment to highlight hidden sugars in normal, everyday foods.  For 60 days, he eats a health-conscious diet low in fat but high in sugar, consuming 40 teaspoons of sugar daily in foods such as pasta sauce, juice, and cereal. How his body transforms over this period is alarming.

Watch the film if you get a chance. It has a humorous slant but provides a strong message about the foods we eat and the dangers of sugar.

This sweet childhood tune always brought a smile to my face. Hope you enjoy and have a great week. 😀

~ eden

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Music Monday features Death & Taxes by @DanielCaesar

In 2014, Rolling Stone ranked Daniel Caesar’s debut album, Praise Break, as one of its Top 20 R&B albums.

The Toronto-based singer songwriter left home while still in high school after a fight with his parents over faith. “Death and Taxes” is a track from his latest album Pilgrim’s Paradise and features Caesar battling with God.

” … Only two things in this life that are sure, of that I’m sure
Death and taxes
Death and taxes”

Caesar is only 22.

You’ll love his voice and the bluesy guitar. I look forward to featuring more of his music in future posts.

Have a great week,

~ eden

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Music Monday remembers Manchester

Liam Gallagher, formerly of Oasis, made a surprise appearance at Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester benefit concert.

The show included Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and many others to raise money for victims of the terror attack that killed 22 people after Grande’s concert, May 22nd.

The terror continued yesterday with another killing on London Bridge and Borough Market.

Among the seven killed was a thirty year old Canadian woman. 😦  Rest in peace, Christine Archibald.

During these difficult times, music is the common language that unites the world. I am comforted by the strength of Mancunians, and I’m so grateful for the power of music.

~ eden

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THE FURY OF POSEIDON ~ A story for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

The prompt for the latest episode of R.B. Wood’s Word Count Podcast asked that we use the month of May and the picture below in our settings. Of note, R.B. Wood took the picture with his i-Phone while on a cruise in Boston Harbour. He also contributes a story to this podcast!

My story inspiration

This was a hard one for me. I know nothing about sailboats, and taking a cruise is not my idea of a vacation, though I have taken short sightseeing excursions at sea. With that in mind, I had to conjure up an interesting story premise. As I usually like to write about relationships, love, death, and include a twist ending, The Fury of Poseidon materialized.

I didn’t intend for this to be a cautionary tale, but it ended up that way. I even learned a thing or two about sailboats!

Hope you like it.

You can also listen to me reading the story on episode 66 of R.B. Wood’s podcast.

flourish

Debby was getting married, finally.

When I introduced her to James a year ago, it never occurred to me that they would hit it off so well. Amongst our group of friends, Debby was the only one not married. Most of the time, she seemed happy to be single, but there were moments when she confided in me that she didn’t want to be alone forever. Those moments were rare but telling. It let me know, that as her best friend, I had to set her up as often as possible.

Jim, as Debby called him, was that rare combination of good looks, manners, and humility. Financially secure as a senior partner in a law firm, he had grown children from a previous marriage. Debby was never the maternal type, and she was past her childbearing years anyway. The match was perfect.

With James, she catapulted into a whole new sphere of experience. Debby had never known a luxurious life. She earned a modest living, and though generous with friends, she rarely spent on herself. Her hairstyle was the same as it was twenty years ago, her clothes purchased from second-hand stores. Underneath the dull exterior was a brilliant gem, but most men never bothered to scratch below the surface.

James did, and it renewed my faith in all men.

Debby invited her bridal party for a week to Curacao to thank us for helping her plan the wedding of her dreams. It was an all-expense paid trip for two bridesmaids and for me, her matron of honour. We could not get away from our husbands and kids fast enough!

Debby had been to Curacao once before when James flew her there at Christmastime. It was then that he proposed to her on his boat. As an added surprise, he even renamed the boat after her.

James arranged for us to stay at his property on the Dutch Caribbean island. We had exclusive use of a butler, maid service, and his yacht. On our second day in paradise, we lounged on the deck of the eighty-foot boat drinking wine and snacking on Dutch cheese and smoked sausage. As we drifted in the middle of the ocean, the sun play hide and seek behind large clouds.

The boat’s captain, Miguel, was a character out of the movies. His coffee-coloured skin contrasted boldly against gold-hooped earrings in both ears. Deep lines etched his face like scars, making it difficult to tell his age. He could have been forty or sixty. Only his incessant smile softened his expression.

“Did you know that according to legend, every boat is recorded by name in the Ledger of the Deep and is known personally to Poseidon, god of the sea?” Nicole said. She was the nervous bridesmaid of the group, having never set sail before this trip.

Debby laughed as she poured herself another glass of white wine. Her freshly manicured pink nails shimmered in the sunlight. “Nikki, for someone who’s never sailed, you know a lot about this!”

Nicole shrugged. “It helps to know a bit, makes me feel less anxious, but I did learn it’s bad luck to rename a boat without purging its name and erasing it from Poseidon’s memory.”

“Yes,” Debby said, “Jim knows all the sailor superstitions. We had a small ritual on the boat, but to erase every trace of the old name from it is a bit much.”

“What was the old name?” Nicole asked.

Debby made a face and pointed out to sea. “You see those fish?”

Far off in the distance, grey marine creatures arced high above the ocean and splashed gracefully back into the water.

“You mean dolphins? They’re not fish, you know. They’re warm-blooded and they’re mammals,” I said.

“I know, I know.” Debby swatted the air with her rosy nails. “Well, for some reason, Jim named the boat Dolphina after his favorite dolphin.” A puzzled look crossed her face. “How he can tell one dolphin from another is beyond me.”

We laughed, but Nicole remained serious.

“Do you ladies want to go swimming with the dolphins tomorrow?” Debby asked, “It’s kind of the thing to do around here.”

Jane, the other bridesmaid and also Debby’s cousin let out a sigh “I’m just as happy to spend the day swimming or on the boat. I need to work on my tan, that’s … if the weather co-operates.” A gust of wind whipped her long, red hair straight in the hair.

“I can’t believe how dark it is. What happened to the sun?” Nervous Nicole wrapped herself in a mesh cover-up. The warm ocean air suddenly cooled and goose bumps popped up on my arms.

“This is strange for the month of May, look like it might rain,” Miguel said. He stood at the helm eying the horizon. The sails flapped wildly and the boat began to rock.

“What do you think, Miguel?” Debby raised her voice above the rising howl of the wind. “Should we head back?”

Miguel was already on the move, busy reefing the mainsail. “Yes, Ma’am. We best get back to shore. The wind will give me resistance, so it will take time.”

“How much time?” I asked, sensing panic in Miguel’s voice.

At that moment, Debby arose from where she sat just as the boat hit a choppy stretch. She fell to her knees. Before she was able to stand up, the boat pounded down on another large wave and loose gear slid from one side of the deck to the other. Nicole and Jane screamed. That was right before water slapped me in the face so hard that it momentarily blinded me.

+ + + +

At Debby’s funeral, I overheard the words “shocking” and “unbelievable” used over and over again. When I delivered the eulogy, I had to come to grips with the events of that day. According to Miguel, a dolphin, larger than one he had ever seen, shot into the air at the stern of the boat just as Debby stumbled blindly to find her balance. On its descent, one of the dolphin’s fins struck Debby as she was getting up. She suffered multiple skull fractures from the impact and never regained consciousness.

Part of the dolphin’s body also crashed against the boat before falling into the water. No doubt it would have been injured, but a search for it turned up nothing.

It was a freak accident, surreal, in fact, yet I could not ignore that perhaps we had offended Poseidon, for immediately after that incident, the sun re-appeared and the winds died down to a gentle breeze for our solemn two-hour sail back to shore.

flourish

Thank you for reading and/or listening. Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.

~eden

**

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Music Monday remembers Gregg Allman

It’s the sad reality that musicians I grew up with and admire will pass away.

This past week, Gregg Allman died at the age of 69. I featured his brother Duane Allman previously.

Gregg and Duane (who died in 1971) formed the Allman Brothers Band and was its lead singer and keyboard player.

Gregg Allman wrote “Whipping Post,” which first appeared on the band’s 1969 debut album. Here is a performance of it from the 2013 Crossroads Festival.

Rest in peace, Gregg Allman.

~ eden

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Music Monday remembers Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell passed away last week. He was 52.

It was a shock. He seemed in the prime of his career with so much more to share, and now he’s gone.

I sat stunned for sometime when I heard the news. I featured him back in 2015 as a member of AudioSlave.

Great voice and talent, and it saddens me to showcase another dead musician.

At the end of it, it’s his music that keeps him alive. This song from Temple of the Dog with Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam really showed off Cornell’s singing chops.

Have a good week,

~ eden

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I Walked the @DaretoWearLove Runway to benefit @stephenlewisfdn #charity #lgbtq

The Dare to Wear Love 6 Gala and fashion show took place at the Ritz Carlton Friday, May 12th. It was an amazing evening, raising more than 275K for The Stephen Lewis Foundation‘s new LGBTQ Funding Initiative.

The new initiative will support organizations responding to HIV/AIDS within sub-Saharan African communities where HIV rates are highest.

As always, huge hugs and thanks to Jim Searle and Chris Tyrell of HOAX Couture, founders of Dare to Wear Love. They are two of the most generous people I know, and their tremendous energy brings out the best in everyone around them.

Photo credit: Eyecontact Photography

Many thanks also to designer Farley Chatto who created my beautiful dress, which I love!

Lovely man and designer, Farley Chatto

The evening was filled with love and hope. By celebrating the talents and commitment of Canada’s fashion community and artists, we all used our powers for good!

Thanks to everyone who supported me this year, either with a monetary donation to my Challenge or by sharing the event and encouraging me along the way. It all helped!

Below are a few pictures from the evening’s show, but there are hundreds more! You can see them on the Flickr galleries, accessible via the Photos link on the website.

Enjoy!

Follow Dare to Wear Love on  Facebook,  Twitter @daretowearlove , and Instagram.

 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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The Last Meridian – A new novel by Joe Hefferon (@hefferonJoe)

It’s been some time since I’ve showcased an author. I took a break to pursue other commitments but when friend and author, Joe Hefferon, told me about his upcoming book, I wanted to share it and do so by way of a Q & A. I have interviewed Joe before, so his name will be familiar.

He’s taken a different approach with his current novel. Find out what he did and why.

****

(Eden) Hi Joe, great to have you back. Your latest book, The Last Meridian is published by Evolved Publishing, a hybrid small press. Why did you decide to publish with them?

(Joe) For one, they agreed to work with me. I’d been testing the market for traditional publishers and found Evolved. I like the concept behind the hybrid model; it suits the changing landscape of publishing. The short of hybrid is, upfront money that might typically go to the author as an advance is spent on production and larger royalties are afforded the author, post production.

A good model to keep in mind, thanks Joe. I’m intrigued by the setting of your book. Why did you set The Last Meridian in the sixties in Los Angeles?

It’s a time of wonderment for me. As a kid, movie stars intrigued me. They lived in a glamorous world I could only glimpse on Oscar night, a huge television event. I loved movies. I like the styles of the sixties, that Mad Men look. I like the suits, the hats, the highballs, the smoking of cigarettes that seemed cool. I like the mid-century modern style of houses, though I prefer the updated version, wired for the internet. Although there is, politically speaking, good reason to leave the past where it is, the pre-war sixties are alluring. I love crooners like Tony Bennett and Sam Cooke, bourbon over ice and a cigar on the veranda. It seems simpler.

Not a fan of cigars, but I love Sam Cooke! Tell us about the book’s main character, Nina Ferrer. What inspired you to write her story?

It started almost as a lark, a kind of writing exercise. I wrote some hard-boiled dialogue just for fun and decided to see where I could take it. I began to wonder who this woman is, driving to Bakersfield with the top down. What’s her intention? Why does she need a private eye?

I have an adopted son and any adoptive parent will tell you they’ve often wondered about how or why the child’s life took such a dramatic turn. I wondered if the mother might ever think about him. I spoke to a number of women of various ages and backgrounds and they all told me the same thing. You’d never let it go. Somewhere inside, you would care. It started the stone rolling.

Nina is a complicated woman, like many I’ve met in my life. She’s tough, witty, wicked smart and creative, but she has secrets and demons that keep her up at night. She can be almost cruel, but it’s to keep you from being cruel to her. She’s had a hard life, was raised poor and she isn’t going to let anyone take what she’s worked so hard to build for herself. She’s funny, and has a soft spot, I think and that makes her likeable.

I like her already. Are any of the characters based on people you know, and how did you develop them?

They all are, either directly or in the round. Nina is a combination of a couple of women I’m close to with a little Joan Didion wisdom thrown in to challenge me. After twenty-five years in police work, I’ve met all the characters: good, bad or pretending to be one or the other. I once read everyone has a public, a private and a secret life. There’s a lot of truth to that.

They develop over time as I form a mental picture of them, the way they walk or respond. Dialogue helps. As I’m putting the plot together the characters reveal themselves. It come from their motivation for pushing the story one way or another. Each character has their own goals and working to achieve or acquire those things within the context of the story drives the action.

I love that saying about how we all have three lives. What is the central theme of your book?

Loss. Nina had given up her newborn son for adoption and suffers quietly with the remorse she feels over having done that. Her marriage is failing and both spouses have lost the desire to fix it. There is also an underlying yearning to make something right, that perhaps, whatever that turns out to be, will have a halo effect on other aspects of her life.

Your book is considered a hard-boiled mystery. How do you define this genre and who have been your favourite authors of it? What is it about their work that influences your writing?

Hard-boiled is defined by the noir aspect but also by the character archetypes; femme fatales, battle-worn-bourbon-swilling private eyes and slimy bad guys. I love the old movies and the classics of the genre, such as, Raymond Chandler. I also like Elmore Leonard and gristly newspaper men like Jimmy Breslin. In fact, my reporter’s first name is Jimmy; that’s for Breslin, although the character is nothing like him. I’m influenced by the no-nonsense style. I write much like a musician who plays by ear. I may not have had the formal prose training, but I know people.

That’s a good segue into my next question. Has your profession as a former law enforcement officer helped you to read people? And did it help in writing this book?

Yes. It helped in the interrogation scenes and the police procedures but more important, it helped in developing a dislike for phonies and people who lie to your face while screwing you. I’ve met and worked with them all—they’ll all find their way into The Last Meridian or in one book or another. Writing is great revenge. In police work you see people at their best and worst. It’s definitely made me more cynical, but also wiser and it’s broadened my view of the human animal.

Writing is definitely great revenge, and you won’t get jailed for it. 😉 What do you think crime fiction readers will like most about The Last Meridian?

I hope they like the characters and the dialogue. I tend to write visually. By that I mean I should probably write screen plays. I see each chapter as a scene from the movie, so the prose is less important than the action and dialogue. Everything about a person is revealed in what they say and how they say it. In life and in fiction, nothing is by accident.

I tend to agree. What was the most difficult part of writing this book? And the easiest? 

Short answer? the plot was the hardest, because it’s not so much about the murder mystery but about how the characters react to what life throws at them, be it a philandering husband or a murder suspect. I knew I had something to say, but finding the right mechanism was difficult at first.

The easy part was the dialogue. Once you know who is speaking, what they say comes naturally.

Yes, your dialogue flows smoothly throughout the book. What’s next for you, Joe?

I’ve just completed a draft of an action novel called (tentatively) Countdown to Osaka. This is my homage (French accent please) to Elmore Leonard. It’s all action and dialogue peppered with comedy, no philosophy (well, perhaps). It follows Koi, a Yakuza enforcer who wants to leave her clan. She’s given one last mission, but it’s her most dangerous—tracking and killing the elusive Le Sauvage, the world’s most notorious gunrunner. Le Sauvage holds the codes to a secret cache of gold hidden after the fall of Osaka Castle, but Interpol is closing in on him. She must get to him before the law. If Koi fails, her dying mother will pass without honor. If she succeeds, Koi will kill her father.

Countdown to Osaka is due to drop on Cyber Monday, 2017. I had a lot of fun writing it and can’t wait till it’s ready to roll out.

Sounds amazing. This short blurb has me intrigued already!

Thank you, Eden, for making the time for me I had fun speaking with you.

And me with you, Joe. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

Readers, find out all more about Joe’s upcoming book below. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon

The Last Meridian – crossing it was her only choice.

A telegram sets off a chain of events that destroys five lives, throwing Hollywood insider Nina Ferrer’s life into turmoil. The infant boy she gave up for adoption in Chicago sixteen years earlier has been arrested for murder. A plea from the boy’s adoptive mother pushes her to act, but Nina has a big problem—she never told her husband about the boy.

Nina must come to terms with her guilt, while accepting the reality of her fragile life and her cheating husband, who’s embroiled in another deadly plot. As her life unravels, the boy’s fate grows ominous. Set against the backdrop of the Hollywood heyday of the early 1960s, the quick-witted, smart-talking Nina, a designer for the well-heeled of Los Angeles, hires a private detective to uncover the facts about what happened back in Chicago, and save her boy. Maybe… just maybe… he can save her, too.

Or perhaps Nina will have to save herself, the most frightening prospect of all. To do that, she must cross The Last Meridian, the place beyond which life as she knows it will no longer exist.

About the Author

 Website |  LinkedIn | Twitter: @hefferonjoe | Facebook

Joe enters the writing world after a 25-year law enforcement career in the city of Newark, NJ. He’s written for several online publications, including over thirty profiles of high-achieving women from around the world for About.com. He has an inexplicable curiosity about Texas noir, and set two short stories in the southeast corner of the state between Laredo and Corpus Christi. Many of the awful things his characters inflict on one another are based on real events from his former career. The sarcasm is in his bones. Joe lives in New Jersey but enjoys learning about other cultures and perspectives. He’s fascinated by human motivation, and doesn’t believe much happens by accident. He often listens to movie soundtracks when writing to help with visualization.

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Music Monday says Let’s Work Together

Wonderful things are created when we work together for a common cause.

I walked the runway for Dare to Wear Love this past weekend and was one of many tiny moving parts that came together for the show.

The event came together because so many worked tirelessly to make it happen.

The end goal to collect funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation drove the mission.

I will write more about the show in a future post, but for today, this song by one of my favourite bands resonates loudly.

Have an amazing week,

eden

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Walk the Walk #fashion #charity #dtwl

I’ll be walking the runway tomorrow for Dare to Wear Love. If you want to know more about my involvement, you can read about it here.

Normally, for such a swanky event, I would need to find an outfit to wear. Since I’m part of the fashion show, however, I’m fortunate to have something custom made for me!

The amazing Farley Chatto designed my dress, and I had the pleasure of trying it on earlier this week.

I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s fabulous. Made from six yards of African fabric in colours I would never choose for myself, it’s a complete departure from my all-black wardrobe. Farley calls it “naughty goodness” as he juxtapositions African fabric with Italian lamb leather! My dress is the one in the middle. The other two are also being worn by winners of the Dare to Wear Love Challenge.

I’m having my hair attended to by one of two masters in the craft—Brian Phillips of World Salon and John Taccone of Navigate Salon. MAC Cosmetics will take care of my make-up. Even my jewellery will be looked after by Rita Tesolin.

The only thing I had to get were shoes. Farley told me early on to get a pair of heels, not the chunky heels I’m used to wearing, but the tall, skinny heels. The higher the heel, the better it would show off my legs and the dress, which sits just above my knees.

And I definitely wanted to do that, but … Yikes!

Recently, I wore my highest, skinniest heels for the Toronto International Porn Festival. They are two inches. I was able to walk in them, albeit not for long stretches at a time. 

You’re talking about a girl who lives in sneakers, after all! These are my beat-up runners on the car’s dashboard. Heh.

“Walk the walk” is almost always said in combination with “talk the talk.” It’s an alternative to old sayings such as “Talk is cheap,” or “Actions speak louder than words.” It’s quite fitting as the title of this post.

After weeks of raising money for the event and “talking” about it on social media, I finally have to walk it. Less than a minute’s worth of stepping one foot in front of the other shouldn’t be too difficult, right?

Plus I’ve done it once before.

The difference last time was I walked in boots with wide heels. My floor-length skirt covered my boots, so it didn’t matter what I wore on my feet, really.

This time …

Three inches! Count them—One, Two, Threeeee inches!

I practised walking up and down my driveway after watching some “How to walk in high heels” videos. Pretty sad, right?

Anyway, I managed to scuff up the soles a bit for better grip, and I even surprised myself with how steadily I walked. The test will be tomorrow evening when I take to the runway.

Just when I was feeling more confident, a friend sent me this video.

It actually did make me feel better. I mean … there is no way I’m going to be this bad, and these are professional models!

Join me if you can tomorrow night. It’s fashion for fun, hope, and a great cause. There are limited tickets available as the event is close to being sold out.

An incredible amount of love and work goes into producing the Dare to Wear Love event, and I want to thank everyone who has supported me with a donation or encouraged me on social media.

Wish me luck and that I stay upright!

eden 

XX

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Music Monday supports Fashion #DavieBowie #dtwl #charity

The last and only time I walked a fashion runway was back in 2014 for Dare to Wear Lovea charity that uses the power of fashion for good. It collects funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which puts money into grassroots organizations in Africa to fight the AIDS pandemic.

Here I was in my Susan Dicks creation. 😉

This year, I took part in the Dare to Wear Love Challenge again and raised $1775! Thank you so much to everyone who supported me.

From all the challengers, four of us were chosen to walk the runway at the gala on May 12th, and I won one of the spots! The fabulous Farley Chatto is designing my dress this time, and he’s calling me his “Gala Seductress.” Here’s his sketch of my dress, which he considers ‘naughty goodness.’

I love it! 

I’m proud to continue supporting this worthy cause, and I hope you will too. There are still $150 tickets available which gives you access to an amazing Silent Auction, cocktails, the incredible fashion show, and a rocking after-party! Dare to Wear Love is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so connect to them to see all the latest posts and pictures.

It’s a charity event like no other, and this year, Stephen Lewis will be there to introduce the Foundation’s LGBTQ initiative and much more. He’s considered one of the most captivating and eloquent keynote speakers, and his speech is sure to inspire. Renowned Ugandan LGBTQ activist, Frank Mugisha, will also take to the stage.

Join me if you can — fashion for fun, hope, and a great cause.

In the meantime, enjoy the music of the great David Bowie, an icon of fashion if there ever was one,

Thank you so much for your support, and have a fashionable week,

eden

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THE COTTAGE LIFE ~ A story for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

The prompt for the latest episode of R.B. Wood’s Word Count Podcast asked that we use April in the setting AND the picture below, taken by friend and fellow writer, Bill Kirton.

My story inspiration

I write a lot about women, loneliness, and murder. They are themes that haunt me daily as I work on my current trilogy. For a short story, however, it’s not practical to squeeze in too many ideas; it can become convoluted. For “The Cottage Life,” murder is not a central theme, but an ambiguous by-product. I hope you like how it turned out.

You can also listen to me reading the story on episode 65 of R.B. Wood’s podcast.

flourish

Spring in this part of the world could hardly be called warm. The snow has melted due to monsoon-like rains, but it’s left a chill in the air. The dewy, mild temperatures normally associated with this time of year are buried along with the crocuses.

My fingers tap against the steering wheel as I grip more tightly than necessary. Classical music intended to soothe begins to irritate me. I turn off the radio, preferring quiet. The four-hour drive outside of the city gives me time to reflect on last April. The cues from family and friends indicate they think I’m still grieving.

I wear my mask well.

A year ago, I lived with my husband, Mike, in a small cottage on a lakefront property. The house wasn’t much to look at, compared to other homes on the lake, but the land it sat on was worth a great deal. All the lakefront homes within five miles of where we lived had appreciated two, three, four times over the last decade. We held on to our investment despite numerous offers to sell from greedy realtors and other interested buyers. I knew that if I was patient, the real estate market would work in my favour.

I put up a fight initially when my husband suggested we sell our suburban bungalow in the city. He brought up the subject as we sat down for dinner one night, a home-cooked meal of steak and potatoes, fresh baked garlic bread, and a side of green beans.

“Come on, Beth,” he said. “We don’t take advantage of half the things the city offers. Let’s sell while the market is hot and use the profits to winterize the cottage. That way, we can live up north all year round.” He slathered more butter on his bread, his fourth slice.

“How about our friends?” My brows furrowed.

“Our friends will just have to make a trip to visit us. They love coming to the cottage in the summer. Everyone hibernates during the winter, so what’s the difference if we live here or at the cottage?”

“I suppose so …,” I said, “But we’d have to downsize. The cottage is tiny.”

“So, we downsize.” Mike cut into his fatty steak and swallowed the piece, barely chewing it. “Besides, we’ve finally finished paying off our debts. Why carry the expenses of two properties? We can only live in one place at a time, anyway.”

Yes, we had finished paying off our debts, but what he neglected to say, was that they were his debts, not mine. Months earlier, we made the final payment on a loan that was used to pay off legal fees from an investment that had gone sour. That was after I cashed out my retirement savings to offset the bills. I resented using my funds to pay off his mistake, but we were married. What was his was mine, and that included his debts.

“I don’t know about selling,” I said. “It’s a big change at this stage in our lives.”

Mike finished off his steak and potatoes. The beans on his plate remained untouched. “Sure, it’s a change, but you’re always saying we need to be open-minded, so I’m taking a page from your book.”

I sighed. “How much do you think we can get for this place?”

My husband burped and wiped a napkin over his double chin. “I’ll call Bob tomorrow and ask him. What’s for dessert?”

+++

Living in a cottage highlighted the issues in our marriage. The problems existed before, but the self-imposed isolation magnified it all the more. Mike loved sports, so he spent most days glued to the television. It amazed me how he could seamlessly change the channel from hockey to football to basketball. It was endless. I would putter around the six hundred square foot space doing odd jobs, reading when the TV wasn’t on full blast, and cooking. The biggest part of my day was preparing Mike’s meals.

And so we lived in that cottage, though lived would be too strong a word. Existed might be a better word. Or rather, coexisted. If Mike and I said a hundred words between us during our waking hours, that would be an interactive day. We tolerated each other, but that was it. After nearly forty years of marriage, should I expect more?

When an agent offered us $1.5 million for our cottage after we were there less than a year, Mike suggested we sell.

“We’re still settling in here and now you want to sell? And where are we going to go?” I said.

“With that much money, we can go anywhere. How about Southwest Florida? You know Murray and Betty love it in Fort Myers.”

“I’d rather die here than move to Florida with all of those blue-haired ladies. All they do is wait for their 5 PM buffets. I wouldn’t fit in with them.”

Mike must have heard the annoyance in my voice. He grabbed the converter and switched on the TV, didn’t even look at me as he spoke. “You know, you’ve never fit in with my friends’ wives. You think you’re better than them because you’re a vegetarian?”

“What?” I shouted. “That’s ridiculous!”

“Is it? We hardly ever get invited for dinners because they’re all worried about what you can’t eat. You need to eat more, Beth!”

That was one of our last conversations before Mike dropped dead of a heart attack a few weeks later. The doctor said his lack of activity and overeating was a lethal combination. You may say I killed him slowly with my cooking. You may say that, but it wasn’t against the law to make sure my husband ate well.

+++

I pull up to the unmarked area where there is a clearing of conifers that offer light and shade in varying degrees. There are large rocks nearby, but they won’t be a problem to remove.

I step out of the car and breathe in the crisp, fresh air. The sun streams through the canopy of trees, and I tilt my head toward a warm ray of light. A few minutes later, the sound of snapping twigs draws my attention down the hill. A tall man approaches, carrying a folder. “Beth?”

I recognize his face from his realty listings. “Nice to meet you, Jim.”

He shakes my hand firmly. “I parked below,” he says, pointing in the general direction from where he came. “I thought to check out the surrounding area for you. You never know what might offer you the best view.”

“Yes, of course. This is very different from Lake Mishog, where I sold my old cottage,” I say.

Jim looks at me with empathy in his eyes. “True, and I’m sorry to hear about your husband.”

I nod, but say nothing.

“Well, you won’t be disappointed here,” Jim says, as if to reassure me I made the right decision. “This area is underdeveloped and a much better deal than anything you will find on Lake Mishog. You can build the cottage of your dreams here.”

I lower my gaze. “I’m looking forward to it,” I say.

flourish

Thank you for reading and/or listening. Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.

~eden

**

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