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When I was a kid, a teenager (and beyond, in fact), I played the guitar and I hitch-hiked quite a lot. As a grubby-looking, long-haired guy, that latter activity meant I spent a lot of time standing by the side of the road, day-dreaming. And a recurring day-dream was that I would master the guitar to the point where I might find myself someday sharing a stage with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, noodling away like a 'head from the Haight.

Obviously, it never happened. I didn't have the drive to become a good guitarist nor, I suspect, did (or do) I have the innate talent. Sometimes biology is destiny.

But last night, I happened on a video of a very recent concert by Dead & Company, a band made up of former members of the Grateful Dead and others, younger players.

I don't expect many (or even, probably, any) of you to watch the video — it's more than 3 hours long, but who knows? Maybe someone's trippin' ...

Anyway, listening to it and (sometimes) watching it and it hit me: John Mayer, the lead guitarist (whose name but not work rings a bell with me), though 12 years my junior, is doing something I fantasized I might do on those long, dusty days with my thumb out waiting for a ride.

No wonder he bounces. No wonder he looks so happy. He's jamming with the Dead, man!

Dead & Company is a nostalgia act, sure, but there's still some creative life in the old bones, if only through the input of young(ish) blood. The Rolling Stones could take a lesson.

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Many years ago (I was a teenager, so we're talking circa 35 years godhelpme), I was hanging at a house-party, drinkin', probably tokin', and wandering about talking to this, that, and the other person.

At some point I opened a closed door, poked my head into a room lit only with a single candle. I'd heard music and been curious.

Inside, cross-legged on my friend Adam's futon, was Matt. Matt was a musician, a guitarist. In fact, he was the guitarist at my very small high school. In a way. He could play anything and sound like anyone.

You wanted Jimmy Hendrix? Matt could do Jimmy, note for fucking note. Or Jerry Garcia. Or Jimmy Page.

You get the idea.

I didn't really much like Matt. I didn't dislike him, but he always struck me as a poseur, as someone who was forever showing off his skills, instead of inhabiting them.

But that night (or morning), I opened that door and caught him unawares. And he stayed unawares. He didn't hear the door open, didn't know I was listening.

He was playing only for himself.

And he was fantastic. Just a young man really getting into his acoustic guitar and grooving. I don't know how long I listened, but it was long enough for a couple of my friends to notice me, half in and half out of the hallway and they too stopped when they heard the magic. The joy.

And yeah, I know these guys (presumably) knew there was a camera on them, but that's the feeling I get from this lovely piece of music.

Enjoy.

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Neil Young and Crazy Horse, 2012. Do yourself a favour when you've got 24 minutes and 48 seconds and press Play.
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"I'm really a very lucky person." — Benita Hart

My sainted mother says she's a very lucky person
My sainted mother, Benita Hart, is growing old ungracefully.

There's no getting around it: my mother is dying. Not of any specific disease, but of that monstrous universal, life.

As she puts it, "my spine is crumbling" and her new(er) artificial knee rattles around, causing her intense pain on very little activity. She isn't quite housebound yet, but it's a near thing. She's basically given up on cooking because standing at the stove and bending or reaching for things in the cupboards hurts.

I rather suspect that, on some level, pretty much everything hurts her, at least a little.

And yet, "I'll consider myself lucky," she said to me the other day when I was up to Sudbury for a visit, "if I have another five good — productive — years left. Really lucky if I get ten."

And yet, even if she doesn't get those five years beyond her current 81 — if she died tomorrow — I think it would be safe to say that she died happy.

My first full day in Sudbury, Tuesday, I took her out to run some errands. Well, two. A stop at a medical supply store to return one assistive device and to purchase another — some sort of portable chair-seat tilter to help the infirm stand up and a long bench to assist in getting in and out of the bath-tub, respectively. Then off to the grocery store, which (for her) meant getting out of the car right at the entrance, hobbling inside and taking a seat on a motorized shopping cart I was pleasantly surprised to see are provided for the handicapped customers.

And then to home, that was it. But the next day, she was forced to spend almost entirely in bed. She'd woken with her knee seized up and needing powerful pain-killers for the rest of the day. (On the plus side, I was gratified that she marathoned the excellent Sally Wainright mini-series, Happy Valley, despite that programs bleak and sometimes brutal content.)

Every time I see her, she's smaller and more fragile and this trip made that which I've understood intellectually for a long time viscerally clear: this visit could easily turn out to be my last visit with her; the next email or phone call could be it.

And yet, this terminal stage of her life, with its pain, loss of energy and focus, sees my mother happier than I think I have ever known her to be.

Although many (perhaps most) of her old friends left Sudbury over a relatively short time, she has managed to cultivate a new (and mostly younger) group of friends, including a special friendship with a much younger man (well, he's in his early 60s, I think) that isn't quite romantic but shares a lot of characteristics of a romance. He is also the man who drove her to Ottawa to visit Raven and I last year). And a renewed sense of professional purpose through her weekly gig on CBC Radio, which brings in welcome money and certain amount of local celebrity, which she is enjoying every bit as much as she ought to.

She isn't in denial about death's proximity, nor is the old atheist scared of it (No heroic measures! she says, and she means it), but she plans to keep on living just as long as there is joy to found in it. When the pain or the disability comes to outweigh the joy, then, she says, she will be happy to let go.

At the risk of sounding sappy, me old mum's attitude towards life (and death) is frankly inspiring. (And the fact that 81 is only 31 years away from where I am now is frankly sobering. It's been nearly a month since I turned 50 and those 24 days went awfully god damned fast. That's sobering, too.)

Speaking of my birthday, I'll leave you with a brief video Raven took after we returned from birthday weekend of skating and snow-shoeing in Montebello, Quebec, at left.

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Despite appearances, I am not about to be beaten to a bloody pulp by fellow inmates of a correctional institution in the photo shown above. The photo was in fact taken on the soccer pitch at Carleton University on the 27th of July 2013, during a lull in a 7-on-7 match. And I am most likely gasping for air, not hurling invective at opposing players.

Yes, it's been a long time since I've posted here. A long time since I've posted much of anything anywhere, pretty much, beyond the delay blurts on Twitter and occasional comments here, on Livejournal or Facebook.

As those of you checking in on my Facebook or Twitter postings might know, I've been cycling a hell of a lot and holding my own (see above) in 7-on-7 soccer with and against players who are mostly 20 or so years younger than I am. And yes, I'm feeling good about that, even if my belly seems to show little or no signs of changing in response to the workouts my body's been getting.

I've also been working quite a lot, both at the Transportation Job and on various word and word-related projects. But not enough with the latter. In truth, when it comes to actually sitting down to write, I've been blocking more often than not; and when not blocking, my long-overdue ghost-writing project has been taking priority.

I'd like to change much of that (really I would!) and as a bit of self-encouragement, I am writing this post to re-introduce myself to whoever among those listed here and on LJ still have me on their reading lists. To that end, "A Memeish Thing", freely modified from one posted by LJ's earlier this month.

_____

Please copy the topics below, erase my answers and put yours in their place, and then post it in your journal! Please elaborate on the questions that would benefit from elaboration. One-Word-Answers seldom help anyone out.

FIRST NAME: Geoffrey, but answers to Geoff quite willingly. Some who know me well might have other appellations, but I prefer those remain between you and me.

AGE: 48. I know, I find it nearly impossible to believe also. But, as some wag once put it, getting older is better than the alternative. And yes, I realize that calling myself Young Geoffrey might strike you as hubristic, or worse. But I'm happy with it still and I figure that's what matters most.

LOCATION: The nation's Capital, not much more than a bom — stone's throw from Parliament Hill. Speaking of which, if you've never been, take the tour of the Library of Parliament; it is a remarkably beautiful building and well worth an hour acting like an actual tourist.

OCCUPATION: No thank you, I believe in personal, local, and national autonomy and self-determination.

Ahem. Driver, editor, writer and fledgling small-press publisher.

PARTNER: A wonderful woman who values her privacy. I am permitted to refer to her only as Raven, to admit that she hails from the Orient and that I have a few years on her. I count myself lucky to have that much dispensation.

KIDS: Not yet, but we're contemplating. And I like to think I've had some good influence on my brilliant, now 20-something, niece.

SIBLINGS: Two, a younger brother and older half-brother via my mother.

PARENTS: Both turning 80, both still alive and kicking. I help Dad with his online newsmagazine and Mum is about to go back on air with CBC Radio doing once-a-week commentaries.

PETS: Not just now.

Politics: In my blood, going back generations. Best described, perhaps, as an anarcho-socialist cynic who dreams of peaceful transition even as the psychotic thugs running our world seem hell-bent on provoking a global bloodbath. Normally an astute observer, I sometimes get taken in by soaring rhetoric; I was briefly fooled by Obama, among others.

3-5 BIGGEST THINGS GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE: (1) My relationship with Raven. (2) All this exercise; slap me if I turn into one of those ex-smokers who can't ever shut the fuck up about how awesome it is to get healthy ad nauseum (slap me if I'm already there). (3) The aforementioned ghost-writing project. (4) Getting my hands on the proof copy of The Old Man's Last Sauna, which I hope will be the first of many works of fiction published by the BumblePuppy Press. (5) Finding a way to influence the world, rather than just bitch about it to the quire.

Right. Let's see if that jumpstarts anything here — or even elsewhere. Meanwhile, how 'bout another hit of Montreal's Grimes?

Happy 2013

Jan. 1st, 2013 12:52 am
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New Year's Eve was delicious (if you're in Ottawa and like Indian food, the Golden India on McArthur is the best I've had in Ottawa. And they're not kidding about the dishes labelled extra hot) but otherwise quiet.

Some issues that need dealing with on the home front put a bit of a damper on our celebrations (and have taken up way too much of our time and energy), but we both can look back on 2012 as a pretty good year. And we're looking forward to the next being even better.

Happy new year, Gentle Readers. Though there is much wrong with this old world of ours — or rather, with what we are doing to it (and to each other) — there is a great deal of beauty and courage also.

All of which is to say, any summing up is going to have to wait (if I can get around to it at all). So I'll just leave you with a video. Remember when Neil Young was great? That's right, it was 2012.

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Operation Enduring American Freedom

Revolution in the Middle West (Tell China to end First World debt)

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So bizarre I suspect it's a put-on, but who knows?

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I hate it but I also (kinda/I think/maybe) love it. Writing to a deadline, that is. Anyway, this is the second week in a row I've found myself not only producing True North Perspective but also penning the Editor's Notes.

Finished the nearly 1,000 words around 11:55 and threw the switch (pulled off the password protection and queued the email announcement) at around 00:05. God only knows if either the argument or the grammar hold up but it will have to do.

Meanwhile, the drupal version of the site is in beta mode and (please god!) the new, 21st century version of the beast will be up and running end-of-the-month-ish and I will no longer be involved on the production side of things.

Meanwhile, here's a video. The Bronte Sisters battle evil sexism.

September 2017

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