66 Years in the Making!
3 Plays for a Quarter!
Yes, it’s true!
Download the Jukebox for free:
play-the-jukebox PDF version
play-the-jukebox-reid-Dickie ZIP file epub for tablets and ereaders
With gratitude and love I dedicate this book to my parents, Helen and Bruce Dickie, whose gifts I used every day of my life, and to Linda, who lit my way.
Available now at McNally Robinson
Moments away from puberty, young Jim Crawford begins to discover how his newly effervescent maleness gives fresh meaning and expression to manhood in his family, friendships, community and beyond. Set in a small Canadian prairie town just as the tumultuous social and cultural changes of the 1960s begin, Play the Jukebox is a character-driven story entwining bright wholesome and dark pathological expressions of masculinity. As his own unique gifts reveal themselves, Jim learns the heights and depths to which men will go to defend family and future and how shared experience creates diverse forms of camaraderie between men and women.
Jim’s life revolves around pop music and records. The 45 – the little record with the big hole – is king; radio disc jockeys, record players and jukeboxes spin the seven-inch discs constantly. He discovers intimate links between hit songs and his own development as he travels from town to town changing the records in jukeboxes with Percy Peel, a mystery media mogul who leaves lasting impressions on Jim. As they did for millions of 1960s youth, The Beatles play a defining role as one of Jim’s change agents.
McNally Robinson: If you are coming into one of our stores, we suggest that you confirm that the book you want is in stock by emailing the location nearest you: Grant Park, Saskatoon, or by phoning the location nearest you.
The six Frequently Asked Questions on my blog all deal with some aspect of my personal spiritual practise – shamanism.
What is shamanism?
Personally, shamanism provides a method for me to experience life beyond the rational mind and its limitations. Ever since I was a young child I knew there was a place where imagination began, where great powers and incredible beings existed to help us and heal us. I spent forty years trying to find a way to get there. In 1994, I discovered a little book called The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner. He laid out the core elements of shamanism as it had been practiced for over 50,000 years, adapted the techniques and technology for modern people and, suddenly, I had access to the spirit world. I had found my way!
Using a sonic driver, in my case drumming on CD, the daily mind is distracted. Then, having access to that mythical 90% of the brain we don’t use, the psychic and subtle worlds are revealed. I enter these worlds with powerful intent behind each of my journeys there. Intent, while a good list filler in ordinary reality, in non-ordinary reality becomes an enormously powerful tool. The shaman’s work is to apply the intent and watch for the intentional and unintentional to occur and discern their meanings. Power animals and spirit helpers act as guides, protectors, companions and teachers. More often than not, my clarity results from their explanations of events.
Mircea Eliade, the historian and philosopher who wrote the seminal work on the topic called Shamanism, subtitled it Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. What the shaman knows that few others know is the secret of the trance, which is: the trance plus intent opens access to the scene of freedom, to the source of creativity and to sheer ecstasy, all achieved simply, safely and without drugs. Ecstasy is a major factor in all the reports in this series. I spend a lot of time there.
You find my FAQ page here.
This year’s 12 Days of Christmas will feature one daily post from 12 of readreidread’s best pages. This will show the diversity of my blog content while revealing the range of my personal interests and some of the blisses I have followed in my life. The pages are all listed above my home page header picture. I begin with an excerpt from one of my favourite and most satisfying projects – The Lonesomes.
The 16 stories that comprise The Lonesomes offer life and death at play on the open prairie. Change is chronicled in personal events, measured by lifetimes. The stories tell of the desperate births of people, towns and ideas, of mystery, trickery, love, revenge and bizarre deaths, glimpses of the human condition that resonate deeply with people everywhere, city and country, town and farm.
To watch the Old Friends segment – about 4 minutes – click here.
Watch The Lonesomes in its entirety – about 45 minutes – by clicking the picture at the top of this post. rewind to zero as video starts a few minutes into it.
Feedback always welcome.
Since Dodge Ram’s use of Paul Harvey’s speech in their Super Bowl ad has caused such a flurry, I thought I’d investigate the speech. Originally read to a gathering of the Future Farmers of America in 1978, Harvey’s speech was edited to fit into the two-minute commercial. Here is his entire tribute to farmers including the two sections omitted in the ad.
And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.
“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it.” So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from ‘tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.” So God made a farmer.
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church.
“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.’” So God made a farmer.
I’ve covered lots of Manitoba ground over the last ten days and the signs of change are everywhere, not just in the fields where the harvest progresses apace sending plumes of chaff and dust into the air. The red maples flame as loud as our flag. Always the leaders in changing colour, cottonwoods burn yellow in the dry dusty sun of late summer. Greens start to fade as russet and pumpkin shades emerge. An especially good summer for poison ivy, now its scarlet and orange leaves form bright carpets in the understory of shallow forests and along the ditches of the TCH. This year mountain ash are laden with large clusters of hot red berries awaiting the first frosts to sweeten up for the jays and waxwings.
Murmurations of blackbirds weave and dive across the highway coordinating their aerial sonar for the long flight ahead. Tiny flocks of LGBs (little grey birds, thank you Ed Abbey) polka along with the Tragically Hip on the mighty Avenger’s CD player. Vs of geese broadcast their lonesome message across the land. Red-tailed hawks populate telephone poles keen-eyed for their next meal, an easier feat now those nice farmers have cut down all the long crops making the yummy wee critters more vulnerable.
Generally critters get more mobile at this time of year in anticipation of winter. They plan ahead like the garter snakes who are now heading toward the nearest karst that’ll take them down below the frost line where they can overwinter thus many flattened snakes on the highways. Night critters like skunks, raccoons, porcupines and badgers populate the shoulders in larger numbers now than during the hot weather. Ravens tug at the carcasses. Nature bats last.
I caught this cluster of wild bees and several of their honeycombs over the entrance to Zoria Hall, a popular dance hall now and ago. There was honey dripping down the wall! It was a cool windy day so the bees were inactive.
In the cemetery next to the Zoria church was this beautiful white angel turning black with time.
Still driving around…
As you can see on this map from the Natural Resources Canada, most of southern Manitoba is tinder-dry and wildfire-ripe. Today, at least three wildfires still burn in the southeastern part of the province in spite of the efforts of 12 helicopters, 11 water bombers, 26 pieces of heavy equipment and over 120 firefighters. The largest fire, near Badger, remains out of control and firefighters are concentrating on fire lines to protect the little village. So far, they have been successful. The fire near Vita – my video is here – continues to burn as does the large fire near Marchand. In this picture (left), smoke obscures visibility on PR 201, east of Vita. At this time, firefighting efforts are primarily protecting buildings and property. None of these fires are deemed under control.
The weather yesterday and today has been very hot, windy and dry, reaching 30 degrees in some areas. Rain is promised on Saturday which will help bring the fires under control as long as it is a sustained rain. Wind direction and speed will also be critical over the next 48 hours.
Inside and outside provincial parks in all of eastern Manitoba, the province has imposed backcountry travel restrictions, no-burning orders and, in some cases, will require travel permits to access certain areas. Generally, it’s a good idea to be extra fire cautious everywhere in Manitoba this long weekend. Check out Manitoba Conservation’s latest fire information.
Last spring at this time we were seeing these signs because of floodwaters. This year, in a 180 degree turnabout the emergency is fires…wild fires. I shot this on Sunday May 13, 2012, east of Vita, MB along Provincial Road 201. When I asked the girl at the convenience store in Vita what was burning she said, “Everything.”
Seems several small fires have converged into one large fire and are the cause of one of several huge plumes of smoke I saw today, each indicating fires across the landscape of south-easternManitoba.
A strong westerly wind today fanned flames in every direction. It’s been a dry, hot and windy spring and the ground is bone dry as is the understory which is mostly what you see burning in the forested areas. It’s so dry the fire is easily burning against the high winds.
The area behind the flames is a scorched landscape, blackened for miles and miles along PR 201. Emergency vehicles scream by me. Closer to the blaze the air is filled with crackling fire and the smell of smoke, visibility on the road is reduced to almost zero at times. Click the pic to watch my two and half minute video report on the wildfires.
It is one of those late April anomalies: 25 degrees C with a warm south wind, the kind of day that entices red-sided garter snakes from their cool winter dens.
In the Interlake on Highway 17, just north of the village of Narcisse, one of the largest populations of garter snakes in Canada is beginning its spring mating ritual. That is what I’ve come to see.
I’ve come to face a fear too. Ever since a small lime-green snake wriggled out of a crate of bananas in our general store when I was five years old and startled me to hysteria, I’ve feared snakes. Raised in a rural area but long a city dweller, I’ve recently reawakened my connection to nature. Hiking and camping in remote areas, I still find bears, wolverines and black widow spiders frighten me much less than snakes. The dry rustle of a snake in the grass raises the hairs on my neck instantly. Today is a good day to face that fear.
In the parking lot, a friendly Conservation officer gives out pamphlets and information about the snakes. An easy 3 km trail is designed so four snake dens can be viewed. At the first site, a snow fence separates the many human visitors from the den opening.
The sinkhole is in a stand of poplars, its rocky entrance covered with bright green moss in contrast to the brown wintered leaves and the darker highlighted greens of the snakes as they slide with keen grace.
Having overwintered below the frost line in deep caves eroded into the limestone bedrock, garter snakes emerge to mate. Starting in mid April for about four weeks, male snakes gather at the mouth of the dens waiting for females. As each female emerges, she is immediately beset with eager males, forming a mating ball.
Female garter snakes are easy to spot as they are thicker and longer than males. As I stand and watch, a female emerges from the darkness. With amazing speed dozens of males slither to engulf her. Moving over dry leaves and twigs, the snakes make a low static crackle, the appropriate soundtrack to their urgent impassioned dance.
Hundreds of males swarm about the female, a frenzied tangle that moves across the ground, over stones and around trees. Two more mating balls suddenly appear, snakes seem to materialize out of nowhere.
The snakes have drawn a good crowd on this warm Sunday. Small children react with either silent awe or curious delight. A German man, talking excitedly, holds a snake up to his companion who looks on in disgust. A white-haired woman squeals in fear, saying how much she dislikes snakes. Her shrieks mix with the joyous cries of her grandchildren as they interact with the critters. A crackle of ancient fear arises in me when a small male slithers over the toe of my boot.
Oblivious to our fears and our presence the preoccupied snakes mate on. The Eros of all those fleshy bodies entwined in procreativity is almost palpable. The spring air is rich with the aromas of thawed earth. The trees are early budding; the poplars give off their sticky smell.
It is a pleasant stroll along the trail in the warm sun. At each den, mating balls have formed, the biological imperative fully engaged. At one stop, a large ball of snakes has climbed four feet up a poplar sapling. Like a drop of water, the ball splashes snakes when it falls. Within a few seconds the ball re-forms and rolls away.
Once mated, female garter snakes disperse over an area of 30,000 hectares to have their live young in one of the many marshes or rocky bluffs that make excellent snake habitat. Some travel 25 kms or more from the dens. When all the females have mated and gone, the males leave as well.
Because they are cold-blooded, snakes must follow the cycle of the seasons closely. Adult garter snakes return to their hibernation dens when the weather begins to cool in September. Juvenile snakes stay where they summer, finding an animal burrow or crevasse that reaches below the frost line. The next fall they will migrate to a den and join thousands of their kind to overwinter.
If a mating ball has a hundred snakes in it, I try to imagine what it must look like with tens of thousands of snakes in a sleeping heap deep underground. That image leaves a thin film of sweat on my scalp as I sidestep a garter snake on my way to the car.
Did I face my fear? It was a beginning. Will I return to the snake dens? Yes, I must.
It was only a beginning.
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”
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.
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.
St. Agnes Anglican Church, Carberry, MB
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.