Gift Guide

The Giver Not The Gift

why yes thank you

it’s wonderful

I can’t get over it

you made it yourself

you made it just for me

I’m amazed

not that you made it

I know you are capable of making things

don’t take the wrong way

it’s just that I never expected you

to make anything for me

let alone something like this


I’m sure I’ll find

the right place to put it

not that it won’t fit in anywhere

one might chose to put it

something so unified

that uses only the purest

that uses every possible part

nothing is wasted

but it needs to be the right place

after all the work you put into it

I can’t just stick where

no one else will see


(though I’m tempted

to to do just that

how long before I can regift it

perhaps drop it into some

donation box

share the abundance

but get it out of my sight)


thank you

Over the years I have been given gifts that made me think ‘who the fuck do you think I am?’ who mistaken bright for garish. I have had & passed along gifts that aren’t quite right for – if asked – you ever wearer did you read – it’s easy for me to say I met someone who really loved it so it ent to a better home. 

I’m sure I’ve been guilty of the same though – giving someone something that they felt obliged to say ‘oh how lovely’ or some-such other Canadian politeness response. Now I’m more inclined to let someone dip into my music collection rather than presuppose I have the perfect music for them. Be warned, if you want something similar to Kenny G out of my jazz collection – that’s not going to happen 🙂 

The home-made, hand-made gifts I appreciate are cookies, jam – things that don’t need size & the only taste level is the flavour of the yummy goodies. So. yes, this piece is based on some actual experiences of being given travel purchased t-shirts that I knew I would never wear from people who should have known better. and yes I admit I can be hard to shop for if you think of stuff but if you think of the unemotionally of gift cards then my gratitude is real. iTunes, Starbucks, Tim Horton’s even Swiss Chalet – these are things I use.

As I get older I have less compunction about passing things on. Some gifts have turned up as amazing prizes at Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam. Who knows that what you give may not end up making somebody else day. I am grateful for anything anyone takes the time to give me though – I may not appreciate the gift but am always appreciative of the giver.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s – sweet,eh?

Jessie Mae Hemphill

Four or five years ago I watched a documentary on Christmas music – obscure Christmas music, not the mainstream albums pumped out by big pop stars. It focused on a couple of obsessive collectors – which I identify with – looking for lost treasures. One of the songs was ‘Merry Christmas, Pretty Baby’ by Jessie Mae Hemphill. The song was rollicking, sexy fun & the sound was sort of rustic & homemade – clanky tambourine, slide blues guitar with her vocals on top of it all.

I found her on iTunes & have Feelin’ Good; She-Wolf; Get Right Blues on this mp3 collection. The sound quality is excellent. Her guitar playing is strong. The material is a mix of originals, blues classics & some spirituals. Mostly uptempo & all fun. Levon Helm won grammies for Americana but Jessie Mae is an even more rootsy Americana.

One of the other Christmas songs “Christmas in Veitnam” by Private Charles Bowens & Gentlemen From Tigerland – lead me to the The Rojac Story. The only collection where I could get this track. “Founded in 1963 Rojac Records was Jack Taylor’s attempt to capture the musical pulse of Harlem. Throughout the 60s (and into the 80s) the imprint released a steady stream of releases. Whether they were hits or near hits they’re all exceptional in quality.”

The Rojac Story is some 44 tracks from their catalogue including cuts by Big Maybelle, Damn Sam The Miracle Man & The Soul Con’ & many more. Raunchy, funky music that I was never exposed to growing up on the east coast. Some it novelty or one-cut wonders like Private Charles Bowens. This is a compilation worth tracking down.

Clarence Reid is so well represented in this Rojac collection I picked up his Funky Party – the title alone tells you what to expect. A funky version of Otis Redding – Clarance has a fine voice, lots of fun & charm in his music. He may want ‘A Real Woman’ but is open to fun until she comes along. His ‘Winter Man’ deserves to be rediscovered. Love finding these hidden treasures – at least hidden from me – things that round out my musical knowledge. I never know where I’m going to find something new. 

That first time I watched Jingle Bell Rocks! twice just to jot down the names of songs & performers. Since 2014 it shows up on TV every year in December and I watch it every year.


What do I see for 2001 – the news will not change, different names and better coverage but the same events – senseless killing sprees, innocent people shot at their desks, fire bombed in jungles, cults of capitalist doom consuming the energies of people. 

Money made and lost on the stock market, more lost than made made, dives and dips that will send more people screaming in front of TV cameras with opinions but no solutions.

Bad movies about teenagers with no sense of value that will get rave reviews. Music that no one understands, not even the people who make it. Books of pointless dissections of lives, past recriminations of parents for being human and not gods when bringing up those children, with the microphones hidden in their heads, tape recorders for brains that will spew out entire dinner conversations to reveal just how human parents are.

TV shows about people losing their way in big cities where they don’t even speak the language. Sad American tourists blindfolded and taken by air to unknown destinations and just let free – no money, no guides, just that damn camera crew trailing behind their every step.

The American legal system with tear right down the middle with a nation more divided than ever. Greater civic unrest for minorities who are actually majorities. Whites will wake up to the fact that there are more Asians and blacks than anglos in the the land of the free and those people will demand to be free once and for all from the oppression of financial expectations, religious intolerance and body shame. They will rise slowly but surely before anyone realizes what is going on and the tide of change will not be controlled by any national guard or petty sex scandal.

Water will slowly disappear. People will wake up and find there isn’t enough to go around, not enough water, not enough power. Waste will become a crime. No watering of lawns, recycling of bath water, all controlled to eke out each last drop, but still there will not be enough for some. Only the rich will have lawns, the rest of us will have wild flowers (yeah).

The hungry will get more hungry, the homeless will increase as people lose the longing for home. 

The nature of family will continue to change. The Rockwell image will be replaced with the reality of today. Nostalgia will no longer rule and the those who wish we were back to yesterday will be sent there once and for all, leaving the rest of here to enjoy progress and appreciate and flexible future. For without flex there is no future.

The war between the sexes will continue as men stay stuck till they find the gal still stuck in that past. Men will marry each other, women will marry each other and God will smile while churches that perform such services will be burnt to the ground by worshippers of nostalgia.

2001 will be a year of great spiritual shifts in all who flex and one of deep fear and a distrust to those who refuse to open to the future. 

The future cannot be halted and it is my fault.

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

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#Woyaya Aster Aweke

I miss going to Sam the Record Man to search through the various levels finding finds. There was an excellent World Music section on the second floor which is where I discovered Aster Aweke, an Ethiopian singer living in the USA. I was willing to take a chance on a $1.99 cassette of her first lp.

jacket ground cover

She’s been fairly compared to Aretha Franklin with her resonant soulful voice. Now I don’t speak or understand many other language beyond clumsy French and corazón roto Spanish, so I can’t tell you what she sings about but I like it. I’m open to letting the music function without the importance of the lyric – with English I can’t avoid sometimes feeling forced into an emotional response.

cloudy cloud cover

I have three of her recordings. Aster ( that cassette replaced & on a mp3 collection of Janis Ian), Kudu (a stand alone, as it were) and Sugar (a live recording on an mp3 collection of Buffy St. Marie). More about Janis and Buffy when I get to them on the shelf.

toilet uncovered

What grabbed me about her, besides the voice, was the horn section – it reminded me of Osibisa (an African band – more about them when I get to the ‘O’s.) In fact she does a few classic African folk songs that Osibisa also recorded. Woyaya for one. She’s available on iTunes.


I, Robot Mother


“How many times do I have to tell you to turn that racket down?” Val’s mother shouted up the stairs.

“Sorry Mother.” Val cringed as she heard her mother come up to her room.

“Are you ready?” her mother asked.


“Oh those shoes are sweet, but you know, I think with some little bows of them they’d be even sweeter. What do you think Val?”

“I’m sure you’re right.” Val slipped off her shoes and handed them to her mother.

Having a Martha Stewart android for a mother was every girl’s dream but if they knew what it was really like they would know it for the nightmare it really was. Val still shuddered at the memory of her mother covering her school binders with kindergarten drawings she had made. Just the thing every high school girl loves to be reminded of. She cursed the day her father brought home the android.

“I’ll just get Karen to do that, shall I? Karen!” Martha shouted down the stairs.

Karen was this week’s assistant. Val was glad she was no longer the one who had to carry out her robot mother’s minute directions. She had hoped it would mean she and her mother could just do mother daughter things that weren’t for some TV program or book but that hadn’t happened yet.

“Yes Madam Stewart.” Karen appeared. She had sequin stars stuck to her chin, a streak of red paint in her hair and gobs of white plaster all over her sweater.

“How are you coming with those baby jumper flower pots?”

“They’ll be ready for Val’s show and tell.”

“Good. Now get a hot glue gun and stick some of those old Christmas bows on these shoes. If they look okay don’t forget to tell me so we can put them in the school’s Christmas show.”

“Yes Madam Stewart.”

“Now Val I’d like you to try on this coat.”

“It looks like the living room carpet.”

“It is Val. We got rid of that old carpet but I thought it would make a darling coat.”

“I hope you vacuumed it first.”

“Of course I did. Didn’t we Karen?”

“Yes Madam Stewart, I steam cleaned it along with four dozen potatoes for the Thanksgiving salad.”

“Good. I do think we’ll have time to refinish the frames on your glasses now Val. Would you like a faux marble finish or perhaps something fun in polka dots.”

“Mother I like them the way they are.”

“Oh, don’t be so silly. I know you are just joking anyway. Now I hope you like these bracelets. I made them out of old milk bottles.”

“Yes, mother they are simply lovely. Now can I get my shoes on and get out of here.”

“What time is your young gentle man picking you up?”

Just then the door bell rang.

“Right now.” Val rushed down glad for the opportunity to escape from the house.

“Val here’s a forget-me-not ring I made from some old braces and teeth. It’s the prefect friendship ring. Don’t you think Brad will love it?”

shrug east end beautification

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