Back in the saddle

I know. This is bad. No entries for weeks! My only excuse and the bane of my existence this time of year, is Christmas. Ugh. It takes over my life every holiday season no matter how hard I try to avoid its demands on my time and psyche. I know I’m not alone in dreading the annual holiday tide. Christ, it’s long. I swear it begins earlier every year. Retailers start in with the Christmas music right after Halloween. People start shopping and talking about Christmas in November, by early December they’re having their obligatory office parties and by Christmas eve I’m so sick of the whole thing, I just want to fly away like a red-nosed reindeer. This quote pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter. “If I had been the Virgin Mary, I would have said No.”–Stevie Smith. Or, “Happy Fucking Holidays” and I think a lot of people must say that. By the way, don’t virgins always say “No?”

We were all quite ambivalent this year. It was *magical* for me as a child but that is tempered by memories of drunken uncles fighting or falling on the tree and my parents being more broke than usual for months afterward. So the three of us debated but couldn’t agree on whether to have a tree or not. Finally Josef decided he did–Oh Tannenbaum–and so went out and procured one. A lot of work to put up but I have to admit, it looks and smells divine and we can let it rot on our woodpile in the back acre. I think next year we should buy a live one and plant it post-Christmas. At any rate, we just moved in August and this was to be our first Christmas in the new house. We had been planning a bohemian-themed gathering, with absinthe and exquisite corpses and finally had the opportunity to host it around the weekend of the winter solstice. Think we had this party and focused on it as a way to bypass some of the holiday madness but it caught up with us a few days later as we scrambled to get gifts for the children in our lives at the very least, and then wrapping, cooking, and on and on. We did have the pleasure of celebrating New Year’s eve in Whislter with my best friend Cathy at her fantastic new house that took nearly four years to build.

Busy week of meetings. Drove to the Burnaby library to meet RPW Records head, Pam Southwell who resides in Maple Ridge. It’s roughly halfway for both of us and it worked out fairly well, after I figured out where the free parking was. We found a table upstairs and laid out our materials. I got so excited once discussing everything—the contract, touring, cd promotion, publicity—she motioned “Shhh.” Oh yeah, we’re in the library. So the official release date is April 15, our first gig is April 26 at Burning Word on Whidbey Island and from there we’ll head south to play shows in Sante Fe, Las Vegas, Phoenix or Flagstaff, LA, and San Diego. We’ll head to eastern Canada/US in summer and Europe in the fall! I’m so excited.

Then I met with extraordinary artist Tina Schliessler to work on an image for the cover of our AURAL HEATHER cd. She has a house in Deep Cove, overlooking the water. She wanted to work with natural light as much as possible and we were blessed with some. The picture windows conducted the light brilliantly and the sun kept poking out from behind the clouds.

I was loaded down with costumey clothes and stuff and she greeted me with a smile and said, “Are you moving in?” Better to have more than you need than not enough. We needed to experiment, and play. Play we did. She got very excited when I showed her the pound of acorns I bought on eBay. Ah, the times we live in! I could not find any on Bowen Island, and in desperation went on the Internet. I came across a woman in Missouri who was hawking acorns from her ancient red oak. Serendipitous or what! Tina had found oak leaves on the ground in her neighbourhood, which was fortuitous because I couldn’t find any of those either. She had made a backdrop of branches and leaves, a hanging doll with a cigarette in its mouth as my stand-in. We had fun stringing the acorns to the *branches.* Tina checked with her nature guide to make sure we placed them correctly. “Oh, don’t worry,” I said, “we have artistic licence.” It looked righteously beautiful by the time we were through. I went and put on my makeup. I had considered hiring someone to do makeup and styling but had a feeling things would work better if it were just Tina and I. We talked about that, how distracting it is to be managing assistants and production people while trying to work. Channeling Frida, we started with a plain black dress with a lovely neckline, then a translucent wrap with a primitive necklace of beads, stone, bone and shells around my neck. I donned a purple (colour of royalty) quilted jacket and held the acorn in front of me. All we needed was a monkey or a cat!

Tina’s funny. She said, “Can I boss you around?” Yes, I think I can take direction. Please do! I wanted to try a few shots with bare shoulders and me holding the acorns in both hands. Took about three hours and we managed a lot of shots. There’s got to be one that is aces. I can hardly wait to see the proofs.

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