My Wish



My fervent wish is that we have a kinder, gentler, more heartwarming new year. In a small effort to make my dream come true I am going to share something with you that may make you pause for a moment and wish the same thing. It is in the little things that we do that sometimes tells the bigger story. I saw this on the blog of one of my favourite bloggers, David Kanigan, who has become a good friend I have met only in words. He posts on his blog everyday—and his words, and those he chooses to share of others good words are always inspirational. I hope you find the little tale I am about to share one that will lighten your heart in the dark days of winter. I am not sure of the source but at the end of the story is cited.

Without further ado, prepare to be heart-warmed:

“While feeding my horses on New Year’s morning I noticed a solitary sparrow perched upon the steel fence near the water tank. The tank is heated to keep it from freezing. It is not uncommon for birds to drink from the heated tank. Apparently, this unfortunate bird had gotten its feet wet and, while making its exit, had become frozen to the fence in the prevailing near zero Idaho temperatures. First, I attempted to warm the feet of the frightened bird by pressing my palm against both the fence and the bird’s feet, while also gently restraining the bird’s flapping wings. It then seemed that warming the bird’s feet with my warm breath would bring quicker success. Gentle sideways motion with my thumb brought freedom for the frightened bird and a smile of satisfaction to my face… a delightful way to start a new year.”

I have “gotten” my feet wet many a time, and I have people in my life who have warmed them and helped me become unstuck. And I hope I have returned the favour, or just helped without any thought of reward. That is what a kinder, gentler, heartwarming life is all about—doing the little things that help us face the bigger, unkind, harsh realities of life. And let there be no mistake—there are lots of horrors in the world; and while they cannot all be overcome, they can be overshadowed.

On Another Note: Keeper of the Word

Today on the CBS television show Sunday Morning, Faith Salie provided the viewing audience with her rift on the word “curate” and hypothesized that “nowadays everyone’s a curator of their favourite things”. She does not think that our favourite things deserve to be “curated” and that it is a much over-used word that she wants eradicated from our vocabularies.

She points out that Oprah “curates her favourite things” for the world at large–going through all the new and wonderful things that commercialism offers us, filtering them through her red-framed (somewhat rose-coloured) lenses and presenting them as things we “must have”. If you have followed her lists of favourite things over the years, you know that many of us may find her $100 boxes of candy and $300 Sherpa slippers a bit obscure.

Getting a little off-topic here, and showing you that I may not always have my feet planted firmly on terra firma, I often wonder why no one cares about my list of favourite things. What has Oprah got that I haven’t got? I understand that my platform is much smaller, my venue almost non-existent, and my readership perhaps in the hundreds and not millions but why is her opinion so much more valuable than mine?

Anyway, back to the topic at hand: curating. I did not realize this was a thing until today. Salie seemed quite hot under the collar about the subject. She describes the word’s historical roots and what she thinks of as the bastardization of its true meaning. It should be saved and only used when talking of art, or things of historical significance, or quite simply, things of consequence. Apparently, your collection of something does not warrant the use of the word “curate”. Even the Queen of Everything (Oprah) does not have the right to curate. According to Salie, only those true professionals in the loftier worlds of art and artifacts are true curators or “keepers of the guard.”

            Personally, I like to think of myself as being a curator, the definition of which Merriam-Webster says is “one who has the care and superintendence of something especially”. I find it interesting that the dictionary cites other job terms for curator as being a scrivener (scribe), Webster (weaver) and wordsmith. I like to think of myself as somewhat of a wordsmith or “keeper of the word”, thus I guess I can refer to myself as a bona fide curator. Take that Ms. Salie.

Published in: on January 11, 2017 at 4:19 pm  Comments (7)  

Happy 150 New Year Canada! and other New Year’s stuff….

First of all, let us get the business at hand out of the way: Happy New Year! Happy 150th Birthday Canada! Now that I have the important stuff out of the way, the usual drivel shall ensue. (Only I can say this, I would be eternally hurt and totally destroyed if anyone else said this.)

We all have our own ways of celebrating and welcoming in the new year. Some of us are defiant and refuse to make resolutions, in essence saying “Gosh darn it, I will not partake in this useless exercise for another year only to be disappointed in the outcome.” Usually this is parlayed in two succinct words which I will not share with you as this is a family friendly column. But I am sure many of you will get my drift.

Others subscribe to the Mark Twain school of resolution making. He is purported to have said: “New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make our regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” I would say that he was talking more intentions than resolutions, but hey, who am I to argue with Samuel Clemens?

There is also the more philosophically based way of looking at the new year. A good example of this can be found in the words of poet T.S. Eliot, who eloquently penned this: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language/And next year’s words await another voice./ And to make an end is to make a beginning.” I have no idea what this means, but it sounds deep and some of you may be enlightened by it. (Side note: Attended a New Year’s Day party and told someone that sometimes when I write my column I get philosophical. This was a mistake, as while I was being tongue in cheek, the person I was talking to took me quite literally and started talking Plato and Socrates. I just continued to munch on my shrimp and did not tell the obvious intellectual that I was talking Wayne Dyer and Dr. Phil.)

Just for good measure, I am going to add one more New Year’s quote that I do not understand, but in an effort to look smart I will share it with you. If anyone can explain this or the last one to me, please stop me in the grocery store or on the street and illuminate me. This one was said by none other than Ogden Nash, who once declared that “Candy is dandy/but liquor is quicker”. (I understood that one btw). This one is a little more opaque: “Every year is the direct descendant, isn’t it, of a long line of proven criminals?”

James Agate, a bit of a snob, but entertaining nonetheless, said once that his New Year’s resolution was “To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.” I would be very afraid to tell Agate that sometimes I get philosophical in my columns—as I would be very afraid to take up more of his time. Unless of course I had a glass and a half of white wine under my belt (which is all it takes now), then I would not much care. Agate is a long dead British writer known for his wit, but forgotten for his writings.

I think Oscar Wilde had it right when he claimed that resolutions “are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.” Simple, to the point, though a bit, shall we say, curmudgeonly?

My resolution this year is one that I am sure will succeed. I heard on television the other day (so it must be true) that if you make only one resolution you are 85% more likely to be successful in keeping it, as opposed to making two, where you are only 35% successful. So, what is my resolution? Read more. And I guarantee I will be 100% successful, unless I die. Which leads me to another question: do people read in heaven?

Suffice to say that the New Year will be much like the old year. Except we have renewed hope. And a fresh chance to begin again. So, open your new 2017 calendar and start inking in some time to spend with friends and family; some time to laugh; and some time to read, or cycle, or throw a pot (as in pottery making), or write opaque poetry only you, Eliot and Nash understand. And let us celebrate in little ways, and big, Canada’s 150th birthday!

Remember, if Jack Yellen could write these words in 1929, then we can sing them in 2017 (whether they be true or not):

“Happy days are here again

The skies above are clear again

So let’s sing a song and cheer again

Happy days are here again….”

*All New Year’s quotes taken from Writers Write blog by Amanda Patterson.

Published in: on January 6, 2017 at 2:22 pm  Comments (4)  

Slipped Up but Happy 2017 Anyway

I asked if you wanted a blog New Year’s Party and many of you responded positively. But I slipped up. I got busy. And I did not extend an invitation. So I am going to correct that and have a New Year’s party review.

To take part just answer any one or all of my following questions, and let us make the first week of 2017 festive:

  1. Did you make a resolution or two or three? If you did—what is it—or are they? If you did not-Why?
  2. Did you go out New Year’s Eve or Day? Whether you did or did not—how did you celebrate?
  3. Did you see the ball drop? Did the ball drop? I did not see it.
  4. Watched the Queen’s address to Canada on the eve of our 150th She wore a maple leaf and spoke French for part of her message. I understood her French (which means she spoke it slowly and simply). Did you watch?
  5. Did you see our Governor-General give his message in the snow and sleet of Ottawa? I love that guy.
  6. What did you eat and drink? Were you merry?
  7. Any words of advice for 2017?
  8. Did you sing Auld Lang Syne? (or however you spell it)

My answers:

  1. Read more. Can’t mess up this resolution.
  2. party on New Year’s Day.
  3. No did not see it drop
  4. Yes (obviously)
  5. Yes again
  6. Lots of shrimp and white wine. And yes, I was merry.
  7. Have hope.
  8. No.
Published in: on January 2, 2017 at 3:28 pm  Comments (21)  

What do you think?

Once upon a time I contributed to the blog world everyday. Everyday. Now it is generally about once a week and I have lost a lot of “followers”. I regret this. I so enjoyed participating and made a lot of new friends–not just friends in the ether world–but a lot of true friends.

I held a New Year’s Eve/Day party on my blog a couple of years in a row and they were quite successful. A lot of people came with their canapes and resolutions in haiku form and dressed (I am assuming) to the nines. Some of you provided entertainment and recipes. It was a lot of fun.

Is there any interest in having a blog party this year? Let me know….and I will organize it if enough of you are interested.

Enjoy the rest of your time between Christmas and New Year’s. Hoping to hear from you…

Published in: on December 28, 2016 at 6:53 pm  Comments (15)  

No More Tree Shaming

Don’t hate me because I put up an artificial tree…my weekly column for your reading pleasure?



“O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me…”
There are so many divides in this world that I would like to close the deep chasm on at least one. You do not have a better Christmas soul if you put up a real tree. Perhaps I am a bit defensive here since I have been decorating the same “fake” tree for years. In fact, it has been so many years it now resembles a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree, with missing branches and the rest twisted towards the front to make it appear fuller. I place it in a corner, so no one is the wiser (until, of course, I reveal my secret in this column.) I transform my “Charlie Brown tree” into a fully dressed, dripping with decorations, stuffed with thick ribbon, proud lady crowned with a gold wicker star. The star wears a sign that announces to one and all that “Memories Are Made Every Christmas.”

I have thought about getting a new tree festooned with lights so I do not have to drape the tree with lights myself, but I have now abandoned white sparklies for several strings of colourful lights that look like candy drops, and are easy to string on the tree. They look festive and for some reason I am no longer anal about whether or not the wires show.

This year I probably only put up a quarter of my Christmas decorations—which you would think would mean my Christmas spirit was lacking and the décor scant. But no, I just have a lot of decorations. And I must admit I am planning a bit ahead. What goes up must come down. When I finally take the decorations down in March (just kidding) the job will not be overwhelming. (I must add here that because I put up a fake tree, I do have the option of taking the tree down in March. Just sayin….)

Do not get me wrong. I love real trees—and am happy that our local prices are not anywhere near what New Yorkers are having to pay. I am sure we have all heard of the $1000 specialty trees, but at $85.00 a foot for a normal tree, even a more modest tree takes a bite from the Christmas budget. My fake tree is looking better and better in comparison.

I read an article in the Windsor Star by The Washington Post’s Jura Koncius, who has, as a design writer in years past, “been a traditionalist, making clear my disdain (for anything) artificial”.  She chastised (her) colleagues” by calling their “pre-lit, remote-controlled trees tacky.” She admitted that in 1999 she wrote an article “shaming people who had fake trees.” She is now ashamed of herself, as she has taken the plunge and joined the “other side”. She has gone “fake” for several reasons—and saving her marriage was the first one (her husband had apparently better things to do than spend two days of his life on strings of lights that never seemed to work.)

She also said that they succumbed to buying a fake tree because they did not want tree branch scratch marks on their newly painted walls, sap stains on their rug, or watermarks on the hardwood floor from watering the tree daily. While she still claims that the “real thing is worth it” she admits that “real life gets in the way”. She said that when her brother-in-law found out that they were getting a tree in a box from Home Depot, he asked “What would Martha Stewart say?” Her husband’s retort was priceless. He said. “She’d love the idea. We bought one of her trees.”

I am not here to start a “tree war”. Just because I find a fake tree meets my needs and that of my family, I am not trying to change your mind if you are a dyed in the wool “real” tree or nothing aficionado. All I am asking is for some respect. I respect your choice if is different from mine. In fact, I love the smell of a fresh tree—just not the mess (finding stray needles in July), the work: cutting off the end of the trunk so a fresh base will absorb more water; watering daily; dragging it out for recycling; and last but not least—you cannot keep it up for four months. I am proof positive that “fake” trees never die.

It seems to have become a ritual in my little clan to take our bedraggled Christmas tree out of its duct-taped ramshackle box each year and transform it into a thing of beauty (at least in our eyes). Inexplicably my family is devoted to this well-worn tree. It is our fractured tradition. And I guess, as the aforementioned Martha Stewart is reputed to say: “That is a good thing.”



Published in: on December 13, 2016 at 1:39 pm  Comments (6)  

Chestnuts Roasting, Jingle Bells Jingling


In an effort to expand my ever-narrowing horizons I picked up a music CD by George Strait called “The Best of George Strait-The Christmas Collection.” I have never been much for the country music scene even though its popularity, unlike my horizons, seem to be expanding.

I picked the CD up on the random advice of an older woman who was alongside me looking at a number of Christmas CDs at Walmart. I was really just looking with no real intention of buying but she regaled me with the wonderfulness of this CD. Now she was obviously a country music fan as she also described for me a number of other country star’s music, but she also told me she really liked Bing and others of his elk. I like Bing and his cohorts too, so I thought I would take a chance on George Strait.

Now, I am aware of George Strait so he must be kind of well known, but I really picked up his CD because I did not want to hurt her feelings, as she seemed so positive that I would like it. (I tend to avoid yard sales, going to the market alone, and other smaller venues where things are sold, as I always feel like I should buy something so I do not hurt the vendor’s feelings—I do not have the same feeling in big box stores, groceries stores or stores like Sears). Besides, it was only five dollars—probably due to the fact that it originally came out in 2003.

So, I just put it on and my first thoughts are of Gene Autry, one of my dad’s favourites—and something I was introduced to as a youngster (and have sort of rejected for lo these many decades.) I am getting the feeling that George Strait is of the “old school country” and not the flashy, sequined, new country which is awfully close to rock and roll. So far, he is homey, bringing back Christmas memories of my long-ago youth.

I really like his ballad “Old Time Christmas”—he just sang “the magic never melts away” and being a long-time champion of Christmas I could not agree more. I give credit to my parents, particularly my mom for creating unforgettable Christmases and my eternal fondness for this time of year, though it is a much different celebration for an adult than a child. I find that I am now the creator of Christmas good (and hopefully not too many bad) times and no longer just the recipient of good cheer. A heavy mantle to carry, but I (mostly) enjoy it.

Now he is singing “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”, and his rendition is beautiful. Admittedly this is one of my favorite songs, but he is up to the task. It takes well to “countryfying”. I love snow but in context. In the context that it does not make the roads slippery. I love how it transforms the bleak winter landscape, blanketing everything in white.

“Jingle Bell Rock” is the next song. Not one of my favourite—must bring back unpleasant memories–though I cannot conjure them now. It is just a feeling…. Next up is “All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth). I remember the days when I was wishing for my front teeth—losing my baby teeth was an inexplicably traumatic time for me, so no good memories there. Strange that I can still remember that.

The next tune is unfamiliar. Called “Merry Christmas (Wherever You Are)”, it is kind of sad. But I like the subsequent one on the CD. It is called “Noel Leon” and is about a fellow named Leon who leaves his Christmas lights up all year, with a flashing Noel sign, making it “feel like Christmas all year long.” It is a story song—really quite lovely. And my description of it is sorely lacking—it is a must hear.

The eternally festive song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is properly upbeat—a well-worn song that may have been played one too many times. Not like the last song—which is my favourite of all time. Called “The Christmas Song”—I envision chestnuts roasting on an open fire with such fond nostalgia. Which is strange, since I have never experienced first hand chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

So, do I like the CD? Yes. Do I like George Strait? Yes. Am I a country music fan now? Sort of. And I would like to thank the lady who recommended him in the music aisle at Walmart. Five dollars well-spent. George is now joining my Christmas repertoire of James Taylor, Michael Buble, Carole King, Bing Crosby, Sting, and Nat King Cole (who sings my favourite rendition of “The Christmas Song” ever).

What is your favourite Christmas tune, song, CD, or carol?

Published in: on December 6, 2016 at 2:15 pm  Comments (5)  

The Abominable Snow List

I love lists. And I hate lists. I love lists of possibilities. I hate “to do” lists. I love the lists of dreamers. I hate the lists that remind me of reality—of the things undone that I must do. I love to read other people’s lists and find out what is important to them. The very minutiae of the everyday and the bigger thoughts and ideas that take us outside ourselves.

I have a book that is meant to be interactive. In order for it to be a complete book, it must be written in, filled out, and created. In order for it to have any meaning at all, I must put pen to paper, jot down my miscellaneous thoughts, dream a little, imagine a lot, and commit myself in words to action. The book is called “the 52 lists project” and is touted to be “a year of weekly journaling inspiration.” It was created (I would say written but there is not much writing) by Moorea Seal and illustrated by Julia Manchik with photographs by Julia and Yurly Manchik. I mention the last two because often we leave these illustrators and photographers out. They should not be left out as they are part of the experience of this little book. They provide inspiration just as the author does.

The book was published by Sasquatch Books in Seattle. There is really no reason for you to know this other than the fact that I really like the word Sasquatch. The vision of a huge white fur matted monster-like human creature stirs my imagination. Perhaps you thought of Yeti or Bigfoot or the Abominable snowman. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (embedded in the workings of my laptop) defines Sasquatch as “a hairy creature like human…reported to exist in the northwestern U.S. and western Canada and said to be a primate between 6 and 15 feet…” I beg to differ with this definition, having been brought up thinking that the sasquatch or bigfoot is a character from the 1964 movie, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. They called him the Abominable Snow Monster.

But I digress…as I so often do. We were talking about lists. And my new book thus unsullied by my pen. Since we are entering Week 48 of 2016 I guess that is as good a place as any to start. List 48 wants me to “List the things you want to add to your life.” And in case I am stymied there is some further inspiration included that just may help move me along in my list making. The author’s note for the list states: “As we transition into the holiday season, we start dreaming about all of the presents and objects that we want. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming of gifts, but what is it beyond the physical and tactile that you crave most?” So, I take from the prompt that I am supposed to think a little deeper about my list and go beyond my yearning for a red convertible and some fancy dancey new boots. Hmm…must give that some thought….

Okay, next week, Week 49. Much easier: “List your favourite books.” Well, this one is right down my alley—but I have so many favourite books—where to start, where to start? The prompt asks me to “Reread a chapter of a favourite book to remind you why you first fell in love with it.” Now I am wondering: which one, which one? This whole list thing is not as easy as I thought.

Week 50 asks me to list my accomplishments. Well that is pretty straightforward. But accomplishments are in the eye of the beholder—but since I am the beholder I guess I get to choose. You may not think that driving at night is much of an accomplishment, or finding my other blue sock, but hey—this is not your book! You don’t get to judge.

List the things you want to be known for is Week 51’s assignment. Hmm…. again. Well we all know it is not my gourmet cooking or domestic prowess.

Okay, Week 52. The last week of the year. I am supposed to list the most memorable moments of my year. Is this a test? Okay memory—get fired up. On second thought, maybe I will wait until the New Year and start with Week 1. It tells me to list my goals and dreams for the new year. I can do that—and I still have a few weeks to think about.

In the meantime, I will get ready for the holiday season which seems to be upon us. Now where did I put those holiday decorations when the basement flooded last winter?

Published in: on November 30, 2016 at 4:00 pm  Comments (4)  

What Is The Big Deal



It is time to embrace diversity. Time to “cool our jets” so to speak and be more accepting. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have some prejudices, some misconceptions, some things we do not understand, but very few of us are bigots. A bigot, according to Merriam-Webster is “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions….one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.”

I have to admit that I am sometimes devoted to my opinion, but I like to think I am open-minded. It may take me awhile to change my mind, but if I find an argument compelling enough I can be swayed. For example, I used to get behind the motto “let’s put Christ back in Christmas” and was a bit anti “Happy Holidays” and pro “Merry Christmas”. But I have seen the error of my ways.

Sometimes we believe that the very fibre of our beings is being threatened, and when we do, we fight to get back what we thought was lost. But in the scheme of things, Christ was not lost and neither was “Merry Christmas”. We over-reacted, and in that over-reaction, diversity suffers. A friend of mine (yes, you Cindy) posted this on Facebook and I could not agree more. Derived from The ManKind Project, it reads:

I don’t understand

what the big deal is…

If you are Jewish, tell me:

“Happy Hanukkah”.

If you are African American (or Canadian), then tell me:

“Joyous Kwanzaa”.

If you are Christian, tell me:

“Merry Christmas.”

If you don’t prefer those, tell me:

“Happy Holidays.”

I will not be offended.

I will be thankful that

You took the time to

Say something nice to me.

That is really all it comes down to: being nice. Taking the time to notice our fellow earthlings and saying something nice. Niceness is way under-rated yet the thing that most of us crave, nay require, is connection to our fellow human.

As the holiday season is upon us, it is time to let our defences down, not totally—but at least at half mast. What our neighbours just went through with the recent election illustrates my point. Vast chasms of difference separate so many. They are going to have to get over it. Change. Not accept what they can’t change, but adjust to it.

The other day, again on Facebook, a friend put out a plea to everyone to “Just stop!” And I responded with one word: “agreed”. She was tired of the bloodletting, the vitriol, the negativity. Me too. And by the way, we are Canadian. There is not a darn thing we can do about the election. I know that the elephant that is the United States affects us, but we are going to have to find a way to come to some peace about it. We can only hope the elephant does not roar. I do not want us to be complacent. We are certainly entitled to our opinions, but if they differ with reality, we are going to have to find a way to face this new reality.

Sometimes life bites. We just have to learn to chew a bit more thoughtfully.

Christmas is a time for thoughtfulness. A time for those who believe in God and Jesus to celebrate the birth of their Saviour. But it is also a time for frivolity—even jolliness. Santa is the distraught parent’s best friend, and though I hate to admit this, I did use him to “teach” my kids to be kinder when they were small. Yes, I did invoke that old chestnut that “Santa is watching to see who is good and who is bad” a few more times than I like to admit. And it worked like a charm.

Sometimes we just do what works. And if “Happy Holidays” works for you–

it works for me!

How do you feel?

Published in: on November 23, 2016 at 2:25 pm  Comments (10)  

One sick puppy . . . and she needs your help

for all you dog and animal lovers…

Robin Coyle

Hello blogging friends! I jump-started my blogging routine a couple of months ago and then, what do you know, it fizzled. The reason? Who knows!? I’m sure you have all experienced the same thing.

However, I am moved to do a blog post today because this precious 4-month-old puppy needs your help. Help from all of us. Let me explain . . .

Our daughter Paige is a crazy dog lover. Not a lover of crazy dogs, but is nutty over dogs. Actually, we all are. But, back to Paige being a dog nut . . . ever since she met an English Cream Golden Retriever several years ago, she has longed to have one of these gorgeous dogs in her life.

That dream came true in September when this little nugget came into her life.


Look at all that puppy-goodness!

Needless to say, I was head-over-heels in love as well.

View original post 526 more words

Published in: on November 21, 2016 at 4:55 pm  Comments (2)  

Hallelujah Suzanne


1968-1969. Grade 10. I was 15 when I was first introduced to the “poet laureate of pessimism”, Leonard Cohen. It was English class. Our teacher was Miss Hunt. She was young and fashionable, more cute than pretty, and she had her finger on the pulse of the late 1960’s. I loved English class, I loved the way she taught—yes we tore literature apart, but she put it back together for us in a way we understood—and we did not resent her for it.

I have the ballad “Suzanne” tattooed on my memory. It was exotic and dark, truth telling and honest. Here are a few of the lines that fed my developing mind at 15, and continue to satisfy almost five decades later:

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by, you can spend the night forever
And you know that she’s half-crazy but that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her that you have no love to give her
Then he gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer that you’ve always been her lover


Chorus: And you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind.


I loved that she was half-crazy, and that she chose to serve tea and oranges that came “all the way from China”. I know that this is only one of his ballads, but it is the one that introduced him to me, and will live on as my favourite.

I heard snippets of an interview with him on television when he was asked if he was a pessimist, and his reply was wry and funny. He said that a pessimist is “someone who thinks it is going to rain” while he is “soaked to the skin.” He also wondered at receiving a Juno award, and said that only in Canada would a voice like his be rewarded.

An article I read in the Saturday National Post part of the Windsor Star by the Canadian Press (no name was on the article) listed a few of his nicknames, the above-mentioned “poet laureate of pessimism” being only one. He was also dubbed the “godfather of gloom”, the “grocer of despair” and the “prince of bummers.” His songs did not escape his reputation—one of the most memorable descriptions was: “music to slit your wrists by.”

He was aware of his reputation and joked about it, according to the article. At a sold-out concert in 2012 he admitted that, “Sometimes, I stumble out of bed, look at myself in the mirror and say to the mirror, ‘Lighten up Cohen’.”

My second favourite ballad of his is haunting. It is phenomenal in that it makes you feel so deeply it touches bone. Depending on the way the song is used it can be triumphant or chilling. I have heard it used in a couple of death scenes on two different programs—and of course whenever I hear it now I am reminded of those two scenes. On Saturday Night Live, Kate McKinnon, famous for her portrayal of Hillary Clinton sang Hallelujah dressed as Clinton in tribute to her (and I believe him too). We all have our “feelings” about the way the U.S. Presidential election turned out but perhaps Cohen’s song can lead the healing:

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah….


It is no surprise that he was a 2003 inductee in the Order of Canada, or a 2008 inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When he was asked “the location of the creative well that spawned his offerings” he said “If I knew where the songs came from, I’d go there more often.”

Admittedly, Cohen’s songs were not “toe tappers” but I would like to leave you with the words of Diana Bass. Her husband owned the Montreal deli that Cohen frequented. She called him, “a lovely man…”


*info for last two paragraphs derived from Canadian Press article

Published in: on November 14, 2016 at 3:24 pm  Comments (5)