“If I’d been the Virgin Mary I would have said No.”-Stevie Smith.

A pretty good year, aside from a certain amount of stress and chaos. I got to go on a long overdue book launch celebration tour of “Skookum Raven,” visiting long lost friends along the way; Victoria, Salt Spring Island, Winnipeg, Bowen Island and the Cariboo. Each event was like a reunion. Even sold some books!

Partner-in-musical crime Keir Nicoll and I made our Pluviophiles debut in May at Massey Arts and recorded a bare bones demo with pal Jesse Waldman in June. Our tunes are available on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music and the others. We’re working hard to nail down a set and will seek gigs and festival appearances in 2023. I love our material! And it feels so good to be singing and writing songs again. It saves my sanity, nourishes my soul.

Gawd I despise Old Man Winter. We’re all enduring a long, bitterly cold December with record shattering temperatures and a lingering arctic front/air mass which has evolved into “king tides” and flooding in Vancouver. I feel reluctant to emerge from hibernation but we are reminded of those pesky obligations and resolutions with each approaching new year.

I was exhausted after two days of shopping, cooking and cleaning but enjoyed a wonderful Christmas Eve. Zoomed a visit with our Ferguson kin in Ontario. I wasn’t thrilled with my efforts; cheesecake cracked; stew took too long in the slow cooker. Ha! I forgot to add the green peas, dammit. Didn’t particularly like the new salad recipe and I had knocked over the juice for the dressing. Ugh. Menu too ambitious. Next time I will stick with the tried and true. I wanted a traditional turkey dinner but the snow storm and ensuing daunting logistics kiboshed that plan. Kids didn’t notice, far as I could tell. Lucas and Ayana ate everything up and drank their wine.

Hauled out some old photos for a trip down Memory Lane. It’s weird watching my autistic son being affectionate with a woman. I’m not used to PDAs. I liked her. She’s beautiful. Charming. Asked if I danced? “Lucas doesn’t know how to dance.” They were cute together. Good natured banter and teasing. Happy together. I hope it will last.

Christmas day I read,  binged on leftovers-cheesecake impossible to ignore-and movies; American Splendor, Glass Onion/Knives Out, Lost In Translation and Home Alone. Apropos I suppose. Got weepy. Christmas conjures up melancholia/my inner Mick.

I’m enclosing my Christmas poem; well, it’s more an ode to the Virgin of Guadalupe, written while visiting the Yucatan one year.


Enchanted morning swim, matrix of turquoise
lagoon. Silver palometas, yellow damselfish
caress my legs. Casa Ocio walls whitewashed
in cactus milk. Coconuts on the lawn.
Palm fronds bowing, rippling like sea anemones.
Heavy mahogany Hemingway digs.
Gecko chirps from behind a gilt frame.
Cool terrazzo marble pulls sand from toes.
Double rain showerhead. Full throttle bottle bar
under a palapa. I ponder the power
of local masonry to withstand hurricanes,
why it seems odd to name them after men.

Beneath an arbor of pink bougainvillea
sit my dubious nephew, delicate girlfriend,
doubts sinking slowly into the deep
purple cushions. We are going to town. To Playa.
Soft brown doves adorn neon.
Turtles bask on green tile mosaic. Red house
hosts a party tableau of orange Fanta, blue corn
flowers, flags of paper lace, chocolate pan de huevos.
We smell agave, chili, vanilla, coriander and anise,
hear mariachis blaze a mighty La Bamba. Gobble
pumpkin tamales, snow-white beach cooling our heels.
Mongrels expire at the feet of professional urchins
soliciting pesos. I will not cry, select a white handkerchief
festooned with poinsettias embroidered by his mother.
No, I can’t buy them all. Though downcast he will not cry.
Our Lady of Guadalupe provides. Protects.

Christmastime but it’s Mary I see. Everywhere. To the faithful
the forever virgin manifests in reefs, rays and schools
of gobies and fairy basslet. In the crystalline water
of a cenote near Merida. In the mynah’s cry.
They live in Mother Mary’s shadow, warm as her embrace.
Queen of the Americas imperial as the iguana
gnawing hibiscus, sunning atop Tulum’s serpentine stairways.
She is wing carved into rock, three pelicans soaring above.

Even Mary, standing on the moon, presiding over the jungle
in a cloak of stars, could not stop the calendar,
marauding anthropologists or games to the death.
On every altar she towers over the crucifix, candles,
iron crosses, golden grapes. She is under their skin,
her miraculous portrait inked onto their muscles.
Hammered in copper, in tin. On murals.
Santa Maria assures and comforts all
her Mexican children. Heals. Entirely and ever
Virgin Mary is the horizon, sea and sky colliding
in azure, cobalt blues. Sacred to all. Taxi drivers.
Marimba players. Deejays and charros. She waves
from the cruise ships, watches over fire dancing,
blesses the portrait of two young lovers lost
in a car crash. Her people feel the harbour of her arms
around them. Her mercy. Infinite. Close.
First comes Mary. Holy Mary. Mother of God.

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