1 - Last Saturday, after my acupuncture session in the morning, I grabbed a bite to eat and headed over to the Halifax Commons to attend my very first Pow Wow.
2 - This was part of the Membertou 400 celebrations, which honoured Chief Membertou's 1610 decision to become baptised into the Catholic faith.
Membertou could read the signs concerning the imminent migration of French settlers at the turn of the 17th century, and sought to create a diplomatic solution to an obvious culture-altering event. As a sign of good faith, he and many members of his family were baptised at Port Royal.
In fact, his embrace of the French culture smoothed the way for strong French and native relations. For a century and a half, the two peoples lived side by side in relative harmony.
Unfortunately, the arrival of the English in the mid-1700's threw this arrangement into disarray. The historic animosity between the English and French, combined with the English tendency to 'civilize' indigenous cultures, led to the mass deportation of French Acadians out of what is now the Atlantic provinces, and drove the First Nations people to retreat from contact with Europeans. What had begun as a welcoming gesture towards the church for the Mi'kmaq decayed as their previous French allies joined in the British efforts to eradicate native culture through the use of residential schools.
3 - Within the past several decades, the First Nations people have re-emerged as a vibrant cultural group.
As someone descended from the merging of the French and Mi'kmaq cultures, I've been longing to attend a pow wow for many years. When I found out that we were having one right here I could barely contain my joy.
Here the master of ceremonies opens the second day of the pow wow with a prayer in his own language. He invited all in attendance to join in, using whichever manner we were used to for praying.
4 - Then the assembled Mi'kmaq and their invited Relatives from out west and down south entered the circle, led by an Elder from Eskasoni, a native band from Cape Breton.
He was very old and walked very slowly, but he in fact danced as well as he was able, and needed no assistance in carrying the eagle standard.
5 - Following behind the Elder, there were First Nations members of the Armed Forces and The Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
6 - Included in the competitive parts of the festivities were the drum circles and singers. As these groups competed, they provided the music for the dancers, who filled the circle. I loved it when the MC introduced each group and then told them to "Make 'em dance."
7 - There were all ages involved in the pow wow. I really loved this little girl in the green dress. She was completely serious and really grooved to the music, listening carefully to the rhythms and dancing very solemnly to what she heard.
8 - The amount of young men involved really excited me. The arts always seem to draw far more female participation than male, but here the men were out in force.
I couldn't take my eyes off them as they danced.
The guy in the hunting pose in the center of the shot also sang and drummed in one of the circles directly in front of my seat in the bleachers.
9 - After the initial opening parade through the circle, the MC called the different groups of dancers out so they could do their thing. The women included Fancy Shawl and Jingle Dancers.
10 - I was totally impressed with the Golden Age dancers, especially this woman in the red. She had such a regal way of gesturing with her eagle feather.
11 - The men were awesome!
They included Men's Traditional and Fancy Feather Dancers.
12 - The young dancer in blue was also a double-duty performer, drumming and singing as well as dancing, just like the young guy in black with yellow regalia.
13 - And how could I be anything but awestruck at the level of dancing done by these young performers? The little one in turquois was just amazing. At one point, as they moved around the circle, she danced on her own as the group moved along in a bunch. She was so intense, she held the crowd's attention as easily as a seasoned adult performer. So, so impressive.
Thanks for coming along to the Pow Wow with me! Hope we can get to another one soon.
Akelamalu says I would so love to see that for myself but your pictures capture everything so well. I was watching Queen Elizabeth arriving in Nova Scotia on TV last night - the mounties looked so fabulous waiting in line to greet her. :)
Anthony North says This looks a brilliant and culturally important event.
Adelle Laudan says Thanks soooo much for sharing this with us. I've researched all of what you showed me over the past couple of years for my writing. Happy T13!
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Heading for Canada Day, I thought I'd share a poem about a rather iconic Canadian city.
This was written by Poet Laureate for the City of Moose Jaw, Gary Hyland.
Moose Jaw? And they attempt to hide
derision. How can anyone claim
this Podunk, Hicksburgh, Blahville
place home? Wasn’t this the place named
after former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney?
The Name: the Moose Jaw river
is shaped like the jawbone of a moose.
Rich Little once got a laugh saying.
“Moose Jaw is so small they don’t have
weather there.” People with names like
Rich Little shouldn’t make jokes about
the size of anything.
Comic Strip artists can’t keep their pens
off Moose Jaw: Broomhilda, Get Fuzzy,
even Marvel Comics released a special
Wolverine and Cable comic in which
the superheroes battle with a gross mutant
on the streets of Moose Jaw, a town
just outside civilization.
The name: the place where Lord Dunmore,
Earl of Mulberry, fixed his cart
with the jawbone of a moose.
When they want to designate nowhere
important, unendurable plainness,
or a certain weird quaintness
authors summon the name—
Murder in Moose Jaw; Still Circling
Moose Jaw; All the Moose, All the Jaw;
The Moose Jaw Book
The Name: from the Cree Moosoochapiskun
meaning Moose Jaw.
When they want a comic-exotic touch
authors site Moose Jaw. J. K. Rowling
in Quidditch Through the Ages names
one of the world’s top teams the Moose
Jaw Meteorites. Homer Simpson conjures
a Moose Jaw baseball team as the bottom
of bottom rungs. Atomic Betty, Teletoon
defender of the universe, resides in
Moose Jaw Heights
Hollywood dumps on Moose Jaw.
In Slap Shot an incredibly
dumb and violent defenceman hails
from Moose Jaw. In Atlantic City
a florist asks repulsed lover
Burt Lancaster where to send
the flowers now. Hurt, disgusted
Burt replies, “Moose Jaw.”
The name: from the Cree moscatstani-sipy
“river of warm breezes.”
Now you’re talking.
- Gary Hyland
Photo by silvabelle
For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!
Janet says An interesting poem, Julia. And being a Saskatchewanite (and a proud one, at that), I must promote the beautiful city! Funny name, but awesome city :)
Travis Cody says I'd live in a place called Moose Jaw.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
A vintage look at summer for Summer Stock Sunday, hosted by Robin at Around the Island.
This picture was taken by my grandfather in the mid-1940's, when my mom and her brother were taken to the travelling circus when it visited Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
I've always thought this shot looks like a still from an old film.
Mama Zen says It does look like a still from an old film. That is so neat!
Patty Reiser says This photograph reminds me of "The Little Rascals." Wishing you a wonderful Summer Stock Sunday! Celebrate Life and Capture It!
Robin says Certainly nothing says summer better than cotton candy at the circus.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Here's the latest installment of Scorpius' boyhood back story. For the first twelve scenes I've posted for the Weekend Writer's Retreat, we've followed him as a seven-year-old, when he outgrew the nursery where he'd been brought up with the other children of the blood.
But when no one from his family came to claim him, Scorpius was released to serve a falcon master as an apprentice.
You can follow the progress of this dark fantasy story arc by clicking on the Works in Progress link just under the blog header.
The falcon fussed on his perch. Scorpius sighed sharply but carried on, ducking out of reach of the bird’s wings as they beat the air in irritation. This was the third mews he’d cleaned today, with nine more waiting for him.
Refusing to settle down, the hawk instead beat its wings even faster, whipping up dust and feathers. Scorpius barked at it to calm down just as two men entered the small building.
Dressed down for hunting, they were nevertheless clad in handsomely-worked leather and finely-woven wool. Swords hung from their hips and jewels glinted from their fingers.
Dropping to one knee and bowing his head in the smooth motion he’d perfected, Scorpius said, “My lords” in a clear voice. The nobles were just like the falcons, Richolf had taught him. Handle with the deference they demanded, but show no fear if he wanted respect in return.
“Your master about?”
“Yes, sir.” He stared at the lord’s polished wine-red boots.
“Fetch him, then – there’s a lad.”
From the corner of his eye, Scorpius watched the nobleman move toward the bird. He bit down on the words that wanted to warn him away from the already moody falcon. But he’d been dismissed. There was nothing for it but to obey.
As he dashed through the door into the sunlight, the falcon screeched and the lord cursed.
His master’s intention for the day had been to inventory and bundle the fur pelts he took to the estate for trade. Scorpius headed for the shed where the pelts were cured, but when he breathlessly rounded the doorway, the shed was empty.
A sinking feeling gripped his belly. The nobles hadn’t given prior notice, but that wasn’t so out of the ordinary. However, he felt certain they would not take the news well if he couldn’t locate his master and they were denied their hunt.
Taking off at a run, he sped to the cottage, not expecting to find him there but hoping for it anyway. “Sir?” he called as he burst through the door. “Sir?”
An idea surfaced but he rejected it as he hurried back to the noblemen. He’d never been instructed in such a plan. It could make things worse.
But his mind worked quickly and boldly over all the preparations he’d need in order to lead the lords to the hunt on his own. He’d take the large red-tail. They would get a guaranteed kill, and Scorpius had a good rapport with the bird.
When he re-entered the mews and saw Richolf gathering up the very bird he’d planned to use, he swallowed disappointment to focus instead on the relief that spread over him.
© Julia Smith, 2010
Ann Pino says Ah, poor kid. He almost had a great opportunity there. Maybe it's for the best, though.
Janet says A more mature Scorpius, but one who still has a streak of independence! And then to discover his master would use the same bird he had planned to use - yep, Scorpius is certainly growing up :)
For this week's set, I'm presenting six hipstresses (one of the five are actually a sister duo.)
For more marvellous music, visit Travis at Trav's Thoughts.
1 - Secret - The Pierces
Got a secret
Can you keep it
Swear this one you'll save
Better lock it
In your pocket
Taking this one to the grave
If I show you
Then I know you
Won't tell what I said
Can keep a secret
If one of them is dead
- Allison and Catherine Pierce
2 - I Wanna Be Your Dog - Emilie Simon
Now we're gonna be face to face
And I'll lay right down
In my favorite place
Now I'm ready to close my eyes
And now I'm ready
To close my mind
Now I'm ready
To feel your hand
And lose my heart
On the burning sand
- Dave Alexander / Ron and Scott Asheton / Iggy Pop
3 - Chick Habit - April March
Hang up the chick habit
Hang it up, Daddy
Or you'll be alone in a quick
Hang up the chick habit
Hang it up, Daddy
Or you'll never get another fix
I'm telling you it's not a trick
Pay attention, don't be thick
Or you're likely to get licked
- Gainsbourg / March
4 - Cascade - Deluka
I want your temper when it's burning hot
Cause it hurts me like a thousand watts
You spit fire and it makes me run away
It cuts deep like a switchblade
Fade in, fade out
And don't make me shout
When words hit walls
The lights go out
Nights crash, eyes flash
You don't know
You don't even know me
- Brasco / Innocenti / Kovacs / Palmer
5 - Watching the Clothes - The Pretenders
There go the whites
There go the colors
There go the delicates
Into the final rinse
There goes my Saturday night
I go without a fight
- Chrissie Hynde
Jamie says Every time I hear Deluka it surprises me how much I like her. May have to get an album at some point.
Linda says All new songs and singers for me this week with the exception of The Pretenders. THIS is why I love this meme of Travis', it gives us the chance to expand our musical horizons a bit!
Minnesota Mamaleh says What a fun, creative compilation! All new to me!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
As I state over in my sidebar, 'I love to showcase creative works by artists of all stripes.'
Here at A Piece of My Mind, I've had an embarrassment of riches when it comes to my own family. I've posted art shows featuring:
My mom - Paulette Phillips
My uncle - Charles E. Doucet
My sister-in-law - Anna Baccin
My other sister-in-law - Violetta Smith
For today's Thursday Thirteen, I'm opening my Art Gallery doors to feature my late grandfather, Charles Doucet Sr.
When I was old enough to start noticing what characteristics made up the different members of my family, I knew that one grandfather played the fiddle, and one grandfather painted. Grandpa Doucet was the painting grandfather, and anytime I smell turpentine or oilpaints, I automatically think of him.
He made his living as a portrait photographer, but didn't leave his passion for photography in the studio.
I have very affectionate memories of him constantly sketching in numerous sketchbooks with colored pencils or pastels. I remember being fascinated as he mixed the colors on his artist's palette. I remember all the rags and the brushes in his basement on the shelf outside his darkroom.
His art work graced the walls of his home and of his children's homes. I've never lived anywhere without an art piece of his upon the wall.
So I'm pleased to share a small selection of his work with you, in honor of his birthday, which is coming up on the 27th. Feel free to stroll about the gallery - I'm going to see about that tray of fruit heading this way.
- 1 - A depiction of the Sacred Heart
A very early piece done in colored pencil, dating from his boyhood in Cheticamp, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
- 2 - Cheticamp rug hooking
The town where he grew up is known for creating fabulous, intricate hooked rugs. In later life, he gave lessons on rug hooking.
- 3 - My circus clown
When I was little, this hung in my bedroom.
- 4 - Yarmouth Harbour
My grandparents moved from Canada to Michigan in the 50's, and back to Canada in the 70's when he retired. They settled in my Gram's hometown of Yarmouth, which has really incredible sunsets. He painted a lot of silhouette landscapes during this period.
- 5 - Moonlight
He also did quite a few snowy scenes, especially set at night.
- 6 - Bluenose II
He did this one especially for my Uncle Warren, who served in the United States Navy.
The Bluenose II has its home port in Nova Scotia, and is featured on the Canadian dime.
- 7 - Cottage with Birches
This always hung in my grandparents' living room.
It was definitely hanging on the wall beside Gram's rocking chair during her last decade here.
- 8 - Cape Breton scenery
This piece was painted on the outside of the shed at their Yarmouth home. It became a bit of a landmark for awhile.
- 9 - Portrait of Simon Doucet
Grandpa concentrated mainly on landscapes, but he was known to paint figures from time to time. This is a portrait of his father.
It was painted from this photographic portrait, also taken by Grandpa.
This is an amazing shot of my great-grandfather, since Grandpa was very keen on posing his subjects for studio portraits. The naturalism and candid moment is quite atypical for my grandfather's photography.
- 10 - Turkish Coffee
- 11 - Abstract Autumn Colors
Grandpa didn't create too many abstract pieces, but this one is a favorite of mine.
- 12 - Snow Scene
- 13 - Sunset, Yarmouth
Here's my grandfather with his wife, Juliette - my Gram. This was taken at his portrait studio for their 25th wedding anniversary.
Also here at the gallery, in spirit, is my Aunt Sheila.
Nabbed for a picture are Charles' children, Louis, Warren, Paulette and Charlie.
We'd all like to thank you so much for dropping by my grandfather's art show. ((hugs)) It's been great to see you here!
Shelley Munro says I particularly liked the Turkish man and the snow scenes. Very nice!
Kelly Boyce says What a great show! I love the candid photo of your great grandpa.
Akelamalu says The scenery on the side of the shed is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. no wonder it became a landmark!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
For Father's Day, I've taken a piece of journal writing from my grandfather and fashioned it into a found poem.
That's my grandfather in the seen-better-days photo, with his father. My mom and I found this on a piece of notepaper, in amongst a box of photos. Since he was a photographer rather than a writer, this memory was an absolute delight to come across.
For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!
Simon, What Do You Think Of The Weather?
I went out
To sleep with my dad
At their fisherman's shack
So we would be ready at five o'clock
We would be ready
To go fishing mackerel
At five o'clock
I could hear the fishermen talking
I could hear outside from different shacks
The fishermen talking about the weather
Then I would hear someone call "Simon (who was my father)
Simon - what do you think of the weather?"
He would answer, "Well,
It doesn't look too good.
Might as well go back to bed."
To bed...I felt very disappointed
I said, "Dad
How come we're not going out this morning?
The stars are all out
The sky is clear
And it is very calm."
He said, "Son,
Do you hear a funny noise?
A noise like the wind blowing.
That's the sea
Making that noise.
And the calmness
The calmness in the air.
That is a sure sign
Of a big southeast wind."
And by gosh
Within the hour
You could feel the wind picking up
You could see the white caps
Forming on the water
- Charles Doucet
Please join me this Thursday when I post an art show of thirteen pieces of my grandfather's art work, in honor of his birthday.
Janet says Brilliant! Loved it Julia :)
Systematic Weasel says Beautifully written!
Charles E. Doucet says Thanks so much, my wonderful niece!! The Found Poem moved me a great deal... I imagined myself standing with my father and grandfather in the darkness, with the fish shacks and sea at Grand Etang, waiting to go fishing for mackerel, listening to both of them talking... you gave me a real moment in their lives...thank you!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Just in time for Father's Day - a vintage look at summer for Summer Stock Sunday, hosted by Robin at Around the Island.
This is a picture of my grandmother, Juliette with her father, Eugene, taken about 1938.
Juliette was one of ten children, so a moment with her father all to herself must have been a moment to savour. As well, this was taken during the same summer that she married my grandfather, so this photograph is an interesting one.
First of all, my great-grandfather had spent much of Gram's young life chasing work all over Canada. There was no such thing as Employment Insurance back then, so men went where they could get a job, and sent back money for the family.
The fact that he's on a motorcycle ready to head down the road, with Gram's arm tucked into his for the moment, is an eloquent symbol of their time together.
Hanging onto her family ties while ready to start a family of her own is a common summer rite of passage for women the world over. The likelihood that her future husband - my grandfather - took this picture, places another layer of meaning onto the shot. She gazes at the camera with sureness, while her father feels free to look down the road, since his son-in-law-to-be is taking care of the photgraphy.
Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there! You can visit Robin for more summertime photos at Around the Island.
Robin says LOVE the goggles :)
Ms Snarky Pants says I agree about the goggles too. Everything about that picture screams steam punk! :-D
Anna Matthews says Such a great family photo, such a great photo period. And thank you for sharing the story behind it.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Here's the latest installment of Scorpius' back story.
For the Weekend Writer's Retreat, I'm following the boyhood back story of an adult character I'm writing for a dark fantasy.
You can follow the progress of this story arc by clicking on the Works in Progress link just under the blog header.
When the nobleman had finally drunk his fill, his chin tucking low on his chest, Richolf opened the door and motioned to the weary guard without. They filed inside, wordlessly lifting their master from the chair to settle him insensible on Richolf’s bed.
With a loosening of neck cloths and buckles, Lord Zorjak’s men found places around the falconer’s table. Richolf fed them all, pouring ale this time as Scorpius watched through the woven panel screen that served as the cabinet doors. His stomach growled, but his master had made no move to let him out of his sanctuary. Best stay put.
Eventually, it was decided that two of the guard would wrap the body and haul it towards the pillar rock. The others would wait for their master to restore himself. How odd that the men assigned to the more grisly task seemed relieved.
Scorpius stared intently at one of the guard in particular, pressing his eye close to the tiny holes so he could see better. Had Richolf failed to explain about the dragon?
The cabinet door cracked open without warning. A boiled root tumbled into the darkness beside him even as Scorpius’ heart leaped into his throat. The door shut and his view of the table was blocked entirely.
He listened as plans were agreed upon and the two groups collected their gear to make ready. Whoever stood before the cabinet did not budge. Scorpius sat in complete darkness, the scent of the root filling the tiny space. He felt about blindly until his fingers hit upon the cooled root skin, his guts rejoicing noisily.
Scorpius raised it to his mouth, his teeth sinking greedily into the rich flesh. He’d never been overly fond of this type of root before. Strange how an evening in a cabinet could change things so drastically.
Satisfied for the time being, and with nothing to see through the blocked peepholes, Scorpius curled onto his side and closed his eyes. When he woke again, Richolf was pulling him out of the hiding place.
The men were gone. Lord Zorjak was gone. The body no longer lay outside the cottage.
Scorpius stood blearily before the open cabinet door as Richolf crouched before him, eye to eye. He cupped one roughened palm against Scorpius’ cheek, his tired gaze shining with pride. A warm happiness spread through Scorpius’ chest.
His master chucked him on the head and stood. “Let’s get this put away, now,” he said, turning to the cups and dishes littering the table and sideboard. Yawning, Scorpius collected the bowls and stumbled for the wash basin.
© Julia Smith, 2010
Apprentice Writer says Still really love the name Scorpius.
Alice Audrey says Those lords must be real pieces of work to be scarier than a carnivorous dragon.
Ann Pino says Nice wrap-up to the scene. I'm looking forward to where this is going - I have a feeling something big is coming soon.
A big Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there - and for this week's set, I've put together five songs that always make me think of my dad, the moment I hear them.
1 - Roadhouse Blues - The Doors
Dad used to sing the opening lines to this song when he drove. Or thought about driving. He was a car lover. Car mechanic. Car salesman. He loved cars.
Keep your eyes on the road
And your hands upon the wheel
Yeah, we're goin to the roadhouse
We're gonna have a real good time
Let it roll, baby, roll
- Densmore / Kreiger / Manzarek / Morrison
2 - Mystery Train - Elvis Presley
Dad was a big Elvis fan. And he was also a big fan of the Chet Atkins sound, so the early Sun Records combine that feeling for me.
Comin' down, down the line
Comin' down, down the line
Well it's bringin' my baby
Cause she's mine, all, all mine
- Parker / Phillips
3 - Birthday - The Beatles
He always called me on the phone when I lived in Toronto and sang this to me on my birthday.
They say it's your birthday
Well, it's my birthday too, yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy Birthday to you
- Lennon / McCartney
4 - Our Love is Here to Stay - Billie Holiday
This was our father-daughter dance at my wedding. I'd prepared a recording of Cleo Laine's version, but my sister secretly switched it with an accapella one of herself singing, which she recorded with the help of my brother-in-law, Jeff.
CLICK HERE to listen to the song
It's very clear
Our love is here to stay
Not for a year
But ever and a day
The radio and the telephone
And the movies that we know
May just be passing fancies
And in time, may go
But oh, my dear
Our love is here to stay
Together we're going a long, long way
In time, the rockies may crumble
Gibraltar may tumble
They're only made of clay
Our love is here to stay
- George and Ira Gershwin
5 - Go Down Gamblin - Blood, Sweat & Tears
Once upon a time, back when the Superbowl had marching bands for the half-time show, my dad turned the sound down on the TV and put on his Blood, Sweat & Tears album. The visuals of the marching band matched the blaring horns of Blood, Sweat & Tears so perfectly we were all in tears of laughter.
Besides which - the it-ain't-over-till-it's-over philosophy of this song pretty much sums up my dad.
Down in a crap game
I've been losin' at roulette
Cards are bound to break me
But I ain't busted yet
Cause I've been called a natural lover
By that lady over there
Honey, I'm just a natural gambler
But I try to do my share
Go down gamblin'
Say it when you're runnin' low
Go down gamblin'
You may never have to go
- Lipsius / Clayton-Thomas
For more fabulous musical sets, visit Travis at Trav's Thoughts.
Jamie says Oh those are all wonderful picks and very nice dedication to your dad.
Travis Cody says I had never heard Mystery Train. Thanks for bringing me some "new" Elvis.