@LiisbethHQ interviews Eden Baylee

Relationship Strategist Sue Nador, founder of The Relationship Deal interviewed me and put together an excellent piece for LiisBeth.

Thank you so much Sue!

I’m extremely honoured to be included in LiisBeth, an online magazine for entrepreneurial feminists intent on advancing gender equality globally.

Hit the graphic below to read the interview and be sure to connect to LiisBeth on all their social media platforms.

Website | Twitter @LiisbethHQ | Facebook

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Filed under Eden's Guest Blogs & Interviews

Music Monday remembers Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell passed away last week at the age of 81, six years after his diagnosis with Alzheimers disease.

Born the seventh son in a sharecropping family of twelve kids, his obsession with jazz guitarist Django Reinhard had him drop out of school to play gigs with his musician uncle.

By 1962, he earned a spot with the Wrecking Crew, a group of session musicians in Los Angeles who played on hits for the Byrds, Mamas and Papas, Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, and many others.

“Adios” is a song written by Jimmy Webb originally for Linda Ronstadt and is also the name of Campbell’s final studio album. It released two months prior to his death.

According to Campbell’s producer of the album, he had to stand with him in the booth to record the vocals “line by line” as Campbell could not remember the lyrics, yet he “didn’t lose his melodies, and that beautiful perfect pitch and tone.”

Adios, sweet man, you will be missed.

~ eden

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STICKS AND STONES ~ 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 July and the picture below in our setting. Of note, R.B. Wood took this photo while hiking in Zion National Park, Utah. This is the beginning of the Narrows hike, where previous hikers sometimes leave their walking sticks for future hikers.

My story inspiration

The current state of politics inspired this allegorical tale, along with the old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

You may recognize the boy in the story. 😉

You can also listen to me reading the story on episode 68 of R.B. Wood’s podcast.

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The boy’s three-foot wiry frame is small for someone his age. Judging from how he is dragged along more quickly than he can walk, his arm must hurt. He seems unable to pull away, or perhaps he is afraid to let go of the large hand gripping his.

People around him are carrying walking sticks to navigate the stone-filled muddy river. Some even use two poles to help with their balance. Flash flooding is not uncommon on this leg of the hike.

The boy runs to keep step with his father and trips on a rock. He is wet up to his waist before Fred yanks him up by the arm.

“Look what you’ve done. You’re soaked!” The large man shakes the child like a wet rag.

“Oww, my arm hurts!” The boy appears on the verge of tears. “I don’t want to walk anymore,” he whines.

“Don’t you cry, don’t you dare cry. Crying is for babies!”

The boy stands in the river, his chest heaving. He passes his forearm across his face and swallows his tears. “I’m not crying.”

“Don’t ever embarrass me in public. You are not a girl. Only girls cry, you hear?”

“Yes sir.”

Inside the Narrows, Zion National Park’s most popular trail, Fred pushes out an exasperated breath. The park is swarming with tourists. He thought he could avoid the crowds by catching an early shuttle—but not today. He can’t even visit one of America’s most beautiful parks without an infestation of foreigners.

Just then, a family of questionable background walks by single-file. They look Mexican or Asian, not American anyway. They speak to each other in some annoying language he cannot understand. Under his breath, he curses, “Fucking immigrants.”

One of the kids, a girl of about twelve must have heard him. She turns in his direction and stands tall. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Though each word is spewed at him with disgust, her eyes convey pain.

The girl’s mother pulls her away. She is less defiant than her daughter. “Kimmy, don’t cause trouble, come on.”

“But Mom, that man called us …”

“Never mind what he said, just leave him alone.”

Fred looks on as the family moves away from him.

“Dad, what did she say to you?” the young boy asks.

Fred takes some satisfaction in scaring off the foreigners. If he were not clearly outnumbered in this tourist spot, he would have happily told them to go back where they came from. He kneels until he is eye-level with his son. “You see, Donald, that girl is an example of a child who does not listen. In the old days, children who did not obey their parents would be beaten by sticks and stones. It broke their bones, but they learned to behave. Calling a child a name like idiot or stupid is not enough. Do you understand?”

Donald wrinkles his nose. “I think so.”

Fred picks up his son and continues on the trail. The July heat is relentless, but walking in the water cools him down. Even though Donald is only six, Fred has big plans for him. Donald will take over his business one day, but not before he learns the ways of the world. No way is he leaving his life’s work to someone who does not share his values or his love of country.

Fred will give his son everything he can, but more importantly, he will provide a strong foundation for him as a man. Like him, little Donald will grow up to be a confident ladies’ man, a strong negotiator, and a world-class leader.

That will be his legacy to this son.

Donald squirms in his father’s arms, and Fred stops mid-stride. “Do you want to come down?”

“Yes, sir, I feel better now.”

“Are you sure?” Fred says.

“Yes, I want to walk with a stick like everybody else.”

Fred lowers Donald until the child is ankle-deep in the river. “You will walk, but you are not like everybody else, you hear?”

“Yes sir.”

Fred finds a large stick. “This should be the right size for you,” he says. “Not too big for my boy, right?”

Donald grabs the stick with his little hands. A wide grin stretches across his face. “No sir, it’s not too big. No stick is too big for me to handle.”

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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 features @LondonGrammar

London Grammar’s music has been described as a blend of ambient, ethereal, and classical sounds with powerful, soaring vocals.

The English trio is made up of vocalist Hannah Reid, guitarist Dan Rothman, and keyboardist/drummer Dominic ‘Dot’ Major.

“Strong” is a moody, emotional song, and I think you’re going to like it.

Hope you have an amazing week,

~eden

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Music Monday asks “Who’ll Stop the Rain?”

The ivy is abundant, flowers are in full bloom, and mosquitos are a-biting. It’s been a wet summer so far, but this past weekend saw its first without rain. Whee!

So nice to see the rain has stopped … for now.

Hope you’re enjoying your summer so far.

~eden

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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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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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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Filed under Dare to Wear Love, Important Announcements