Monthly Archives: December 2011

My Year of Being Grateful – 2011 Year-End Review

Reid Dickie

I’m calling this My Year of Being Grateful because time after time, day after day all year I found myself expressing gratitude for an aspect of my present life. Wherever I was and whatever I was doing was exactly what I wanted to be doing at that moment! I am an incredibly lucky man. Although my year began with a short hospital stay for a small physical tune-up, it improved greatly thereafter.

Reasons to be Grateful

Friends, new and old, and travel have helped me this year, providing continuous opportunities to grow and evolve while offering support and love. It is a luxury to be understood. I am enormously lucky and grateful for my friends. Their healing love comes in many forms from company in the Avenger’s passenger seat to a spontaneous breakfast to an accomplice on the Midnight Ride to a cup of coffee to a drive-by hug. From hikes along lush valleys and across the sweltering dunes of Spirit Sands to day trips exploring hidden places, sacred sites, getting a Skinner’s and doing flood recon to long trips into the SK Holyland, I have shared the miles and my experience with only wonderful people this year. Every mile was enhanced by their presence and curiosity and I appreciate that they allowed me to share my enthusiasm and intensity with them. For all the above mentioned reasons, I am grateful to Vonda, Kenny, Chris, Terry, Troy, Mark, Garcea, Mike, Marce, Steve, Mitch, Travis, Susan, Kevin, Sharon, Alex, Ernie, Marc, Cynthia, Jim, Wanda, Roman, Kenn, Liz, Mike, Brenda, Cheryl, Tillie, Robert and Mette. I felt Linda’s watchful presence, her benevolent, beautiful energy with me wherever I went.

My Blogging Life

It’s a numbers game. In the last year almost 93,000 hits have accrued to my blog, an astonishing number! It averages about 240 hits a day now, a steady and changing audience. I went seeking an audience with this blog and my other internet endeavours and I found one! Thank you for being part of readreidread.com  

The flood was the major story on my blog this year, attracting a large percentage of hits. Reporting on it was easy because it was so widespread in MB and SK. Everywhere I went, there was a flood. This is a picture of the Portage Diversion filled to the brim. The Diversion was the major cause of flooding around Lake Manitoba. The other big story, virtually exclusive to my blog, was the huge sinkhole south of Dauphin, MB. My post on June 19 about the sinkhole garnered the most daily hits of any post this year with 1561 views. The short video of the sinkhole on YouTube is the most viewed of my 125 videos now on the DickToolCo channel. The picture shows the sinkhole in July. I became a double blogger this year when I launched a blog devoted entirely to my hometown’s history. Find it at www.shoallakehistory.com 

Good Stuff Bad Stuff

Best hotels of the year: Delta Vancouver Suites (the picture was my view from 20th floor), The Convent Country Inn, Val Marie, SK and Canalta Hotel in Weyburn, SK. All offer superior accommodation, excellent amenities and good value.

Worst hotel of the year: Country Boy Motel, Coronach, SK. Humour and horror combined for a trying stay. Try not to stay there. Find out why. Coronach itself is a pleasant little town in the midst of millenia of fascinating history and pre-history.

Good Company: Enterprise Car Rental for another year of excellent service, economical rates and reliable vehicles. Over 5 months I put 23,000 km on a 2011 Avenger and encountered not one problem of any kind with the car! It deserved to be called the Mighty Avenger.

Bad Company: H & R Block for committing obvious errors on both Linda’s and my income tax and causing me months of grief. They settled. Go to a CPA.

Music: I attended three excellent concerts: The Tragically Hip at the Winnipeg Goldeyes’ ball park, k. d. lang at Regina Folk Festival and the spectacle of Prince at MTS Centre. The Avenger’s CD player was dominated by Bruce Springsteen’s first two albums. I’ll be posting about them in January.

Grieving: Linda’s toothbrush. In my post I Had a Wake-Up Call Today I admit that after 15 months I still couldn’t throw out Linda’s toothbrush. Strangely, the toothbrush became a symbol that grew in significance after I wrote the post about it. My words seemed to imbue it with a special connection to Linda, more intimate than other items she used daily. As with so many other events, things and memories, the toothbrush’s time to be reckoned with arrived. In early December I pledged I would throw out the toothbrush the day after Christmas, two years and a day after Linda died. The day and time arrived, I kissed the handle of her toothbrush, thanked it and put it in the wastebasket. Then I said to myself what I’d said the morning after Linda died two years prior: Today is the first day of the rest of my life. The meaning of this saw from the 1960s is much different today than it was in my youth, looking at it from the other end of life. It still seemed apt. Now that it is gone, the toothbrush has acquired new significance. Now it symbolizes progress, acceptance and hope, an emblem of my endurance. Truly what the toothbrush must be is yet another subtle wonderful gift from Linda. Thank you love.    

Spirit:  My gratitude extends beyond the organic realm to include the helping and loving spirit helpers and power animals who humble me with their ongoing assistance. Always and all ways, there is Spirit ashimmer with unconditional love and proper guidance. I am all gratitude. It was an extraordinary thrill for me to take several of Linda’s friends for their first hike on Spirit Sands this summer. I felt privileged to share my special experience with all of them and watch them become quickened and present as Spirit moves through them.

Particular Posts     

With a year of posts under my belt, I’ve created a month-by-month guide to my life and blog with links to some of my best writing of the year.

January: The year began with some chest pain, a few days in Health Sciences Centre followed by grateful recuperation at home. My post, called Six Days Among Angels, recounts the events in the hospital. Mid-month I posted a historical piece I’d researched and written several years before about Rooster Town, an early Winnipeg ghetto. This proved to be one of my more popular posts. The tenth anniversary of my father’s death inspired a piece simply called Dad, another popular post.

February: February 1st is Grasslands National Park Day on my blog, celebrated with three posts about the park and region. Lise Perrault, who lived in Val Marie, SK on the edge of the park, painted many scenes of GNP in an appealing folk art style that I have long admired. Prairie dogs still abound in several dogtowns in GNP so when I came across this prairie dog image I did some research and posted Prairie Dog Rapture. GNP pictures and commentary gave some local background. In mid-February I posted Weasels Ripped My Flesh about Frank Zappa’s album of the same name. This is consistently among the posts most viewed on my blog.

March: The posts I’m most satisfied with in March deal with Linda’s death and that of an old friend, heyoka and a tandem post with Chris where we ponder the big stuff. Sacred Clowns explored the role and significance of heyokas, “contraries” in tribal cultures. In my post I Had a Wake-Up Call Today, I recount the last moments of Linda’s life in language one friend described as “startlingly candid” and try to update my grieving process since that has always been one of the reasons for this blog. Wake-Up Call was difficult but cathartic to write as was my tribute to a friend Linda and I had known a long time. David Marks died in mid-March. I have fond memories of David. He was one-of-a-kind. On March 26, Chris and I tandem-blogged on the same topic: Have I found what I’m looking for? with interesting results from two different generations.

April: This was the month my traveling began with a week-long stay in Vancouver visiting old and new friends and having a ball. In April I posted two practical pieces, both dealing with some aspect of death: Obituary Euphemisms and Do You Have a Last Will and Testament?  I took my first long drive out of Winnipeg to Dauphin in late April and recount it with lots pictures in My Weekend. It was April 28 when I did my first flood report: an aerial view of Morris surrounded by water.

May: A vivid memory from my youth growing up in a little prairie town was my first hearing of Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles, a post that draws some attention. I celebrated the life and influence of my mother on her deathday in early May in a post called Mom. My flood coverage began in earnest in the first week of May and continued through most of the summer. I picked up my summer horse, another mighty Avenger from Enterprise, in mid-May. It was exciting to take day trips, often with friends, to view scenes of the flood and bring back information and pictures for my posts. I’ve had many comments both on and off the blog lauding my reporting and praising my mix of fact and dry wit. And of course, May 21, 2011 was The End of the World. Remember? Didn’t notice? It was a blogger’s dream come true and, as The Rapture proceeded, I did three posts that day, each more sardonic than the last. Here’s the first, second and third post.

June: A month of many changes. The flood dominated my attention and the blog most of June with daily coverage including the Lake Manitoba Flood Protest at the Manitoba legislature. I seemed to have the exclusive on the huge sinkhole near Riding Mountain National Park and blogged several times about it. June 14 was the ninth anniversary of my heart surgery and I wrote about it in the post My Fixer-Upper. On June 19, Chris and I drove west into Saskatchewan and encountered that province’s floods in Weyburn and area. We spent a few days together, visiting sacred sites and enjoying each other’s company. I bought my camcorder on June 24 and it went with me everywhere thereafter.

July: My travels continued all over Manitoba and back to Saskatchewan in July with pictures and videos coming thick and fast. Floodwise, I visited Souris several times to see their flood preparations and the crest of the river. Several popular posts and videos ensued. Though there was little to do in Spruce Woods Park because of the flooding Assiniboine River, I spent two enjoyable days yurting there in mid-month resulting in a post called Yurting at Spruce Woods. Late in July I posted three items about my early childhood in rural Manitoba. Hayfield – A Manitoba Ghost Town explained the place’s history, My Memories of a Ghost Town described Hayfield from the point of view of a child (me) between four and eight years old, and Hebron School – 1 Room 8 Grades 30 Pupils 1 Teacher explores my early education in a reopened one-room schoolhouse until halfway through Grade Three when we moved away.

August: My third trip into Saskatchewan and the opening of Spirit Sands were August highlights. The eight-day SK trip resulted in a post called Out There It’s Summertime. Early in the month I offered a series of pictures and video of the flood damage to precious Spruce Woods Park and later in the month, once Spirit Sands opened, I took pictures and video of my hikes. I stayed in a yurt in Spruce Woods Park again in August with the resulting video. My post Journeys of the Heart, Journeys of the Soul gives a good overview of how I was feeling late in the summer as a result of my travels and their revelations. The Doll House is an art project by Heather Benning situated by the side of Hwy #2 in western MB that I reported on in August. 

September: July and August were hot and dry and the fall continued with warm, fair weather prompting more day trips and a few overnights. I wrote about one of my trips in a late September post titled Equinox Journey. Shoal Lake, MB, my hometown, provided the inspiration for a piece I’d had published in the local paper Crossroads This Week some years ago, about Art Moderne Texaco Filling Stations. Such a building remains in a prominent intersection in Shoal Lake and in Dauphin which I visit frequently.

October: The mighty Avenger returned to Mother Enterprise in mid-month but not before a few more visits to Spirit Sands, my last one on October 11. This picture shows naked trees on a late fall hike to Spirit Sands.  Two Days Out recounts a trip into the heat-broken prairie early in October. Before and after pictures of the flood, bottle buildings and wild epitaphs highlight the report.  My post called The Real Work, inspired by friend and Old Soul Chris Scholl explains some of the work of Old Souls and, on Thanksgiving Day, I offered a public service to anyone not able to find something to be thankful for called If you can’t think of anything to be thankful for today, I have a suggestion. This post resulted from a friend whining at me this very line, “It’s easy for YOU to find things to be grateful for!”

November: I sublimated my wanderlust into several dozen coffees with friends as the days grew shorter and colder. I have been celebrating people’s deathdays on my blog which caused confusion and even consternation among some readers and friends. I clarified it a bit with a post called What’s With Happy Deathday? A post called Between Shark’s Teeth and Stardust details a midnight hike on Spirit Sands during a full moon. The government notified me in November that Linda had officially ceased to exist as a taxable entity which prompted my post Death and Taxes about how many different ways we can be dead in this society.

December:  Another full coffee card this month as I spiral into the Big Day. I repost my two stories, Dancing Horse and Messenger, which commemorate Sitting Bull’s death on the anniversary – December 15, 1890. Tradition held with another 12 Days of Christmas series, this year it’s churches in rural Manitoba. You can find them all on my Churches page. And here I am at the edge of a new year feeling thankful for friends who have become family and family who are friends, for imagination, intuition and everything that happens before I think about it and for  grateful.

My luck holds out! The sun sets in an orange blur along the TCH, the rumble and groan of semis dissolve into the harvest glow. Once again the full moon rises between the old wise spruce in the autumn haze, the whir and slur of traffic on the TCH sings a lullaby to the nightbirds fitfully dozing in the cottonwoods overhead. Tranquility base, earth shine, we have seen it and been it all before.

Peace in your heart creates peace in the world. May the moments you find rare, precious and beautiful abound in your life in the new year and every year.  With love, Reid

Taken December 31, 2011

4 Comments

Filed under Blog Life, Family, Linda, shaman, Spirit

Lioness: New Amy Winehouse CD

Reid Dickie

How great! There is at least one fine collection of tunes remaining from Amy’s career that gives us a glimpse into her various styles. It’s no Back to Black, lacking that album’s musical cohesion, inspiration and chutzpah but it is a worthy set that detracts not at all from Amy’s genius. Lioness: Hidden Treasures offers twelve tracks: four new Amy originals, two new versions of Back to Black tunes and six covers. It’s worth track-by-track tracking.

Lioness kicks off with a swinging reggae version of Our Day Will Come, the Ruby and the Romantics #1 hit from 1963. Exquisite male backing vocals and a bubbling band buoy Amy’s hopeful, almost joyful vocal.

Amy has written several explicit and honest songs about sexual adventures. In this vein, Between the Cheats, a witty title for a witty song,  describes a couple who are cheating on each other and know it.

Next Amy covers herself with a whole new arrangement of one of my favourites from Back to BlackTears Dry on Their Own, the original version here, was a ballad and benefits from a subtle string arrangement. Amy’s voice carries a lot of sultry pain, a satisfying glimpse into her first thoughts about the song.

Amy’s cover of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (Shirelles 1960 #1) is a desperate plea for a future, for hope which is beginning to fade since Our Day Will Come. Darkness is gathering. The arrangement reminds me of David Foster. I expected Seal to start singing. I have heard Amy’s stripped-down moody version of this tune which I prefer.

Like Smoke featuring NAS has Amy contributing a sweet chorus between which NAS raps. He’s annoying while Amy howls and purrs.

Singlehandedly Amy imprinted an obscure song by Liverpool’s Zutons into the mental file called Melodies-that-play-by-themselves-in-our-heads. Valerie, here the ’68 version, has several versions. This one was Amy’s favourite. It swings but with an undercurrent of sadness.

The Girl from Ipanema (Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto 1964 #5) gets a nice modern spin from Amy, refreshing and apparently one of the first songs she recorded back in the day.

Half Time was written before Frank, Amy’s first album, came out but never made it onto the set. A lovely ballad, Amy is in fine sexy form.

The one-take demo version of Wake Up Alone from Back to Black is just spooky.

Another new song Best Friends, Right? is a great bitchy song that Amy often opened live sets with in the early days. This was recorded in 2003.

Body and Soul (Jack Hylton 1930) is a jazz standard that Amy covers in a duet with Tony Bennett. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios in March 2011, it was Amy’s final studio recording. At times Amy sounds so much like Billie Holiday it’s astonishing. Amy’s pain and experience are palpable in her delivery. Watch them sing the song together.

The set ends with Leon Russell’s A Song for You. Leon can die happy now. The ultimate version of his best song has been recorded. In fact, in one take. Amy was a fan of Donny Hathaway and here she uses much of his phrasing. Again the tear in her voice reminds me of Billie Holiday. The song ends with Amy, in her thick accent, talking about Donny Hathaway, saying “He couldn’t contain himself.”

I like most of the covers here, especially Our Day Will Come and Valerie. Both new arrangements of her songs are terrific as are most of her new songs. I could have done without Like Smoke, or at least without NAS. The album that began bubbly ends sad and alone, addiction and genius meld and separate. While the mood of the set progressively darkens, I find Amy’s voice, phrasing and presence so fascinating and extraordinary that the gloom matters little. It feels like an honest part of her. It will be interesting to hear what else is stored in the Amy vaults. She often did several versions of her songs so similar sets to this may be in the offing. There is live material waiting for airing as well, I’m sure.

Leave a comment

Filed under Linda, Music, Old Souls

Reid’s Year-End Review Coming December 31

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog Life, Life and Life Only

12 Days of Christmas Day Twelve

Once St. Luke’s Anglican Church, now The Plum, Souris, MB

The plum in your Christmas pudding! The Souris area was barely settled when the former St. Luke’s Anglican Church was constructed in 1883. As the community grew, two additions were built. There is an enormous amount of Gothic detail in this tiny building: the jerkinhead gable end, double and staggered triple lancet windows and doorway. The L-shape is typical as is the fieldstone foundation. The additions were demolished in 1989. The Souris and District Heritage Club acquired the original 1883 section and relocated it to its present site. It sits perched halfway down the Souris valley and, in plum and chocolate colours, is unmistakable, almost edible. The Plum is now a museum where guides in period costumes offer lively story-tours.  There is a tearoom with a terrace overlooking Victoria Park Bird Sanctuary. Watch a very short video clip of this building that I shot this summer.

“Although it’s been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you”

Reid

Leave a comment

Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, PRAIRIES

12 Days of Christmas Day Eleven

Emmanuel Anglican Church, Holland, MB

This ambitious church is credited to architect Andrew Maxwell and constructed in 1893/94. An extremely pretty and well-maintained Gothic church, it has many enticing details. The tower doorway has a classic Gothic arch, triply repeated to great effect on the left side facing the street. This arch begins the ascension.  The tower is fraught with corner brackets, decorative scrolling and contrasting black and white trim. The slim steeple with narrow gabled openings accelerates the ascent to the ornate finial and beyond.

Leave a comment

Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, PRAIRIES

12 Days of Christmas Day Ten

Cypress River United Church, Cypress River, MB

 

This massive red brick United Church stands impressively on a corner. Charles Bridgman of Winnipeg designed the place for a union of Presbyterians and Methodists in 1921. The three front windows have been bricked in with vivid crosses and a star below the arch. Ascension is accomplished here in novel ways using attenuated symmetry. The roofline of the entrances begins ascension. Small staggered rectangular windows prompt the upward motion. The roof angle over the left entrance and nave swoops upward, accentuated by the jerkinhead gable end and culminating in the fine tower. The tower feels like something’s been removed from it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, PRAIRIES

12 Days of Christmas Day Nine

St. Agnes Anglican Church, Carberry, MB

Reid Dickie

A tall stone foundation supports this substantial tan brick Gothic church, its aura is steadfast and prosperous. The entrance tower, well adept at sending your attention heavenward, is beautifully proportioned to the rest of the structure. Gothic arches abound on windows, bell tower and doorways. Built in 1902/03 from a design by James White, who also designed Carberry United Church, a major feature is the large bell visible in the steeple. The small side entrance with the little green roof tucked into the corner is a whimsical bit of medieval building craft.

Leave a comment

Filed under Carberry, Churches, Day Tripping, PRAIRIES

12 Days of Christmas Day Eight

St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church, Ninette, MB

Built by Charles Orevend in 1905/06, this is a lovely and rare example of gabled transepts stepped up from the nave. Though the plan is fairly common, the tiny transepts and the spire at the crossing are very unusual. The Gothic windows are refreshingly wide with modest tracery. The beautiful arch over the front door, strikingly painted black and white, drives your attention to the steep gable on the vestibule, centred with the round detail under the gable. The delicate, unusual details of the church create a special uplifting feeling.

Leave a comment

Filed under Churches, PRAIRIES

12 Days of Christmas Day Seven

Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Baldur, MB

Built 1903, this wood frame Gothic church has extraordinary detail that abets its standard design. The square entry tower, supporting an elaborately decorated bell tower and glorious steeple with lively elaborate spire, has fine tracery over the doorway separating coloured panes. On the eight-sided belfry, every opening is topped with a sunburst design and a pediment. The low balustrade with corner pinnacles accentuates the steeple’s angle. The window details and the slight eave returns on the façade create softness to contrast the sharp edges Gothic usually attempts. Note the contribution the spruce tree makes to attention ascension.

Leave a comment

Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, PRAIRIES

12 Days of Christmas Day Six

Silverton United Church, Silverton, MB

Originally built for Presbyterians in 1892, this little wooden church was moved to its present location in the tiny village of Silverton in 1949. The building is a simple rectangular nave pierced by four stubby lancet windows along each side. The major Gothic feature is the large square entry tower with the battlement along the top – very medieval yet somehow congruent with the open Canadian prairie. It benefits greatly from its setting – a wide-open area backed by trees. As you can see, the building and the lot are well maintained.

3 Comments

Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, Prairie People

12 Days of Christmas Day Five

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Elie, MB

Located on an ancient sacred site, the pale brick of this imposing Catholic Church exudes some form of holy mist that gives the place an intriguing aura.  Built in 1928 in the cross-shaped transept design, Romanesque arches abound even on the entry canopy. The tall square tower with its open belfry and steep roof culminating in an elegant lit crucifix achieves an attractive balance. The circular window over the doorway on the tower is another example of recurring Catholic detail. Brick headers emphasize the doorway and the windows. Medium-pitched parapets extend above the gable ends of the transepts with Palladian windows, a Catholic preference, beneath.

Leave a comment

Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, PRAIRIES

12 Days of Christmas Day Four

St. Francois Xavier Roman Catholic Church, St. Francois Xavier, MB

Built in 1900, this small but imposing tan brick church set on a fieldstone foundation was designed by Joseph Senecal, leading architect of Roman Catholic churches in Manitoba. St Francois Xavier was originally called Grantown, a settlement created by Metis leader Cuthbert Grant. This building replaced a substantial log church, which had served the parishioners since 1833 on the same site. Cuthbert Grant is buried in the cemetery that surrounds the church. Though somewhat obscured by a gorgeous evergreen, the front elevation is a work of symmetrical accomplishment. The corner towers with their roofs and pinnacles balance the central entrance, the side entrances and the well-proportioned square tower with its delightful cornice and dentil. Arcades surround the belfry, which is topped with a steep four-sided roof with small round openings.

2 Comments

Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, PRAIRIES

12 Days of Christmas Day Three

Douglas United Church, Douglas, MB

This modest and well-maintained wooden Gothic church was built in 1893 for a Methodist congregation. Sometime over its 118-year history, the church lost its belfry and steeple though the roof pitches and lancet windows still point heavenward. Notice the dainty corner pillars with plain pinnacles. The rear section was added on in 1957.

Leave a comment

Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, PRAIRIES

12 Days of Christmas Day Two

St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Shoal Lake, MB

Illustrating my hometown bias, here’s a second church in Shoal Lake. Located across the street from yesterday’s church, this white wooden Catholic Church has three modest onion domes dominating the façade. The domes and their drums are octagonal with heavy iron cross finials. The three arched windows on the front elevation compliment the domes. The entry pavilion to the rectangular nave is bracketed by the slim corner towers. This church was built in 1945 to replace the 1892 building they had bought from the Anglicans in 1919 for $1,000. The old church became the IOOF Hall and was moved to Fourth and South Railway where it still stands.

1 Comment

Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, PRAIRIES

121 Years Ago Today – Repost

SITTING BULL AND DANCING HORSE

Reid Dickie

December 15, 1890

Sitting Bull’s Camp

Grand River, South Dakota

Commotion was his cue, his spur, his trigger. Gunfire, whoops, whistles and yells! Dancing Horse needed no other prompting. He began to perform his repertoire of tricks; the seven Bill Cody taught him and the two he learned by watching other horses. He was a smart horse who learned easily.

Though it was the middle of a cold night and the years had slowed his gait, it all came back to Dancing Horse. As the air filled with noise and bullets whizzed around him, the horse pranced and danced, sat on his haunches and raised his front legs, waving, whinnying and shaking his mane. He cantered in a circle, stopped, backed up and cantered on, a curtsy, a bow and, his finale, a high wild buck accompanied by snorts and a long careening whinny. Then he started again.

The horse was born to the circus. Bill Cody had gelded him himself and taught him tricks. Dancing Horse was the gift Buffalo Bill Cody gave Sitting Bull when Bull retired from the Wild West Show. He’d spent recent years on the quiet prairie with Sitting Bull, far from the cheering crowds.

At the door of Sitting Bull’s log shack, melee built into frenzy. The holy man, now 60 summers old, lay propped half-naked against the doorframe, dying; his blood, loosened by two wounds, soaked into the snow. Sitting Bull’s spirit soared over the scene, its grief brief for the hard and desperate life just lived, now elated by the familiarity of death and the antics of Dancing Horse, moving like a white ghost in the snow below.

Long after the fighting ended, as the prairie filled with mournful keening, Dancing Horse continued to perform, repeating his act over and over. The horse had danced through the mayhem without a single bullet hitting him.

He did not perform for the incredulous and spooked Sioux who stared in awe. Dancing Horse had an audience of one. His old friend Sitting Bull watched long in delight, solely entertained by the horse’s show, then he turned and his spirit embraced The Light.

As the first rays of dawn swept over the frozen land, Dancing Horse collapsed into the snow, exhausted. A little boy dressed in buckskin advanced toward him, extending a handful of sweetgrass.

MESSENGER

Reid Dickie

December 15, 1890

Central Plains

Overhead Orion paused in mid hunt; half a moon lit the prairie snows. The Spirit, its message clear and urgent, rose from the shabby encampment on Grand River, the scene of the crime.

Wearing only paint on his body, riding a horse with arrows and lightning bolts painted on its white flanks, the ghostly Messenger held a human skull on a stick. Half his face was red, half white, his heart was painted with a blue starburst and his body had wavy yellow lines running from foot to throat.

Sailing through the clear cold air the Messenger traveled north over the rolling hills of Standing Rock Reservation to Cannonball River, the end of Hunkpapa land. Every tiny cluster of tipis with warm dreamers inside in the camps of Thunderhawk and John Grass got the news as they slept. Some awoke keening in grief.

The Messenger turned south, crossed over the Grand River in a single bound and headed toward Cheyenne River Reservation, home to the Minneconjou. In his dream, Yellow Bird, the medicine man received the news with a jolt, grabbed his rattle and woke the camp. It was nearing dawn but still dark and cold as Kicking Bear, the high priest of the Ghost Dance, his wife Woodpecker Woman, and all the Minneconjou were informed. Further on, the camps of White Swan, Bear Eagle and Hump were next to be grief stricken. Off the reservation, the camps of Touch the Clouds and Red Shirt received word.

The ghost Messenger leapt the Cheyenne River and flew southwest toward Pine Ridge Reservation. Passing over Bad River, through the eerie Badlands past Castle Butte and a leap over White River got him to Pine Ridge and the camps at the headwaters of White River. Black Elk, the mystical shaman of the tribe, received the news and told the Oglala chiefs Red Cloud and American Horse. Ghost Dance priest Good Thunder immediately began to beat a hide drum and chant.

Spirit Messenger turned eastward just as dawn was blemishing the blackness. A leap over Pass Creek, through coulees and around buttes and Two Strike’s camp was informed; the ghost dancers Short Bull, Mash-The-Kettle and Plenty Horses began to paint their bodies with grieving symbols.

By the time the sun rose, the Great Plains was lit with grief. As far west as Tongue River Reservation in Montana, Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, and as far south as the Kiowa Reservation in central Oklahoma – they all knew what had happened. Even the people of Walker River Reservation in western Nevada, home to visionary Wovoka who brought the Ghost Dance to the people, knew.

Except Orion, no one saw the ghostly figure riding the strange awkward horse but they all reported his message with sad accuracy:

“Sitting Bull is dead.”

2 Comments

Filed under Saskatchewan, shaman, Spirit

12 Days of Christmas Day One

In 2005 Linda and I began sending out Christmas greetings in the form of an email a day for the 12 Days of Christmas with a new theme each year. We sent churches, schools and houses. Instead of emails, this year I am continuing the tradition with a daily post of a beautiful church in rural Manitoba on this blog. Share them with your family and friends. Enjoy! 

St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church, Shoal Lake, MB

 The sun rises on one of five churches in Shoal Lake. Built in 1940, this small wooden Gothic church preserves the holiness of St. Helen, here bathed in early morning Manitoba sunshine. It was built as a part of the mission of the Parish of Elphinstone. The nave is a typical rectangle with a low-pitched front porch added later. The tower supports a belfry and an octagonal steeple topped with a heavy cross. The louvered arched openings on the tower have a sunburst pattern complimented by the rose window beneath. The lancet windows along the side are edged with coloured panes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, PRAIRIES

All Aboard Rail Fans

Reid Dickie

It was an unusually warm October afternoon when I captured this eastbound fast freight on CNR mainline just south of Headingley, MB. The crossing arm creates a new horizon across which the train flies. Great rhythms. Play it loud!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi47LS7blrA&feature=player_profilepage

Leave a comment

Filed under Day Tripping, Trains

Finding My Audience – ReadReidRead.com First Anniversary

Reid Dickie

It’s hard to believe a year has passed since I started this blog. A year ago I had several intentions for ReadReidRead: as an ongoing celebration of beautiful Linda, as an outlet to share my enthusiasm for local heritage in its many forms; as a canvas for my personal cultural interests, as a platform for my spiritual experiences, as an inspiration for others and as a way of finding my audience. Today I can humbly and gratefully say I have fulfilled those intents to a degree I never anticipated.

Linda’s presence on the blog is always very strong and loving.  There are numerous pictures of her scattered throughout my posts. Search in the Linda Category for my many tributes over the past year. In the Gallery you will find some adorable pictures of Linda from her childhood.

I’ve written extensively about local heritage over the past ten years and enjoy using the blog to share my pictures and thoughts on heritage buildings and events. I have a personal collection of over 1000 pictures of heritage sites that I will be drawing from for future posts. Creating videos has added a whole new dimension to my heritage reporting. Check out Churches, Houses and MB Heritage pages for dozens of heritage examples.

Culturally, everyone from Salvador Dali to Ralph Eugene Meatyard (maybe not that big a step), Bjork to Wm Burroughs (ditto), Fellini to DickTool Co have been homaged on my blog this year. Personal experiences like hearing Eleanor Rigby for the first time in 1966 and seeing Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band in Toronto in 1969 to more recent encounters with various art forms have been vented on the blog. For a chronology, examples and links to the art Linda and I made when we first united, check out the DTC Art page.   

Practicing shamanism and incorporating its wisdom into my life has guided me to share my experiences via the blog, not with an agenda to convert you or change your mind about anything (I have nothing to sell) but to simply tell my story, share my glimpses into the hidden places, into other possibilities and report what happens. There are dozens of posts and pages relating directly to my shamanic experiences on the blog. Numerous Categories apply. Check out About, Sacred Places and FAQ pages for detailed reports.

Because of the blog, many readers have contacted me this year, most often about heritage related matters. I have connected people with places and with each other, found knowledgable people to answer obscure questions and given specific directions to heritage and spiritual sites on the prairies. Inspiring people to seek Spirit on the Canadian plains has created enormous opportunities for personal gratitude. One of the most satisfying and humbling experiences in my blogging life was when my friend Chris Scholl said I inspired him to create his thoughtful, thought-provoking personal blog, Love Art and Fear. I inspired myself to create another blog devoted entirely to the history of my hometown, Shoal Lake, MB. The DickToolCo channel on YouTube and two hundred pictures on Flickr are more outlets for creative fun!

I have attracted a blog audience that far surpasses my wildest expectations when I started typing away at this a year ago. Almost 88,000 hits in the year equates to about 240 hits a day. I seem to have found an audience and I thank you, every one of you who has landed at readreidread.com for whatever reason, I thank you; everyone who subscribes to my scribblings and guff, I thank you; all the befuddled and wild-eyed who suddenly find themselves in Reidland, I thank you (be brave); everyone who finds out shamanism isn’t what they think it is by reading my blog, I thank you.

Besides simply giving me something to do almost every day, my blog has provided an outlet for my diverse interests, improved and expanded my computer skills and offered satisfactions I never dreamed possible.

What’s in the future for ReadReidRead? Carrying on the festive tradition that Linda and I began six years ago, I’ll be posting a daily feature to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas. This year I have selected 12 Manitoba churches, which begin Wednesday, December 14. My year-end review is in the works and will be posted December 31. All the original intents of the blog still apply and I can assure you my diversity and curiosity will continue to be fully represented. Is blogging still fun? It’s a blast! Even after 565 posts!

Thank you for visiting my blog this year. Be happy. Reid

2 Comments

Filed under BEAUTY, Blog Life, Linda, Local History, Music, Prairie People, shamanism, Soul Building

Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Bronnie Ware

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

2 Comments

Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Deathday, Life and Life Only, Momentous Day, Soul Building, Spirit

Manitoba Heritage Buildings – Downtown Baldur

Reid Dickie

Brick Commercial Buildings, Elizabeth Avenue, Baldur, MB

Baldur is a little community on Hwy #23 in southern Manitoba named after the son of Odin, a major deity in Scandinavian mythology. Baldur personified the nobler qualities of human nature. Known for his beauty, Baldur was also the god of innocence and the summer sun. A few years ago I took some pictures of two fine examples of early prairie commercial buildings that still stand on Baldur’s main drag. The above picture shows the contextual view of the two tan brick buildings. 

Now Kay’s Place, the smaller, more modest brick building was built in 1910 and sports fine brick detailing on the second floor. The corbelling under the cornice and the broad fanned arch with datestone highlight the roofline. The three bay façade has inset windows with rough limestone sills and regular pilasters to offer movement. It is a shame the ground floor façade is such a mess. What wonders once lurked, perhaps still do, beneath the poor cladding? In this case, half a building is better than none.

The Fowler Block, the larger commercial building, was built in 1899 by Alex Fowler from a design by Brandon architect W. H. Shillinglaw. Fowler arrived in Baldur in 1891 to operate the new facility for the Manitoba Elevator Company of which his father was president. Fowler purchased the local saddlery business of C.W. Watson in 1895 and by 1899 had commenced construction of this building. The saddlery business occupied the smaller of the two retail spaces on the main floor with various merchants renting the other space. In 1904 Alex became Baldur’s postmaster and for the next 31 years the town post office was located in the Fowler Block. The structure remained in the Fowler family until 1978.

The Fowler Block is an excellent example of the type of commercial block commonly constructed in southern Manitoba between 1890 and 1920. The design is straightforward and attractive with vertical brick pilasters separating the stores.  The second storey windows feature segmental arches with rough limestone keystones and a limestone belt course running below. The most eye-catching features are the rich double rows of corbelling along the cornice and the fanned brick arch with the datestone, similar to the other commercial building. A rather amazing feature of the Fowler Block is the integrity of the original façade, which hasn’t been trashed with inappropriate signage or colour, other than the vertical cladding above the windows. The brickwork on both buildings is standard running bond.

 The exterior ground floor is original, attractive and well maintained, featuring indented entrances with opposing sidelights and carved entry surrounds. Existing signage is appropriate in size and content and does not detract from the overall beauty of the building to any large degree. Fortunately, the interior retains many original features including decorative pressed-tin ceiling panels. The overall condition is excellent which bespeaks the fine originality of the design and the presence it has in this small town.

Leave a comment

Filed under Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Pioneers