Tag Archives: Linda Tooley

Another Tribute to Linda


Reid Dickie

Recently I became aware that a short film by Winnipeg producer and director Brendon Sawatzky was dedicated to Linda. In her role as Film Liaison for the City of Winnipeg, Linda worked closely with all kinds of filmmakers. I remember her speaking highly of Brendon and his work.

Brendon’s short film North American Perspective was shot in Winnipeg before 2009 and released on 2011. Linda is mentioned at the end.

In response to my email thanking him for the dedication, Brendon wrote back, “Linda was always such a huge help to me when I was working on my own films and always so fast to get things done.”

Click the picture to watch the film which is 5:50.


Filed under Film, Linda

Curiosity and Gratitude – 2012 Year-End Review

Reid Dickie

If I had to choose two words that describe my year, curiosity and gratitude come to mind. Regular readers of this blog know I have an insatiable curiosity that lures me to out-of-the-way, little-known places on the prairies and causes me to investigate and report on what I find there. Whatever form the journey takes and whatever I find at its end, expected and unexpected, are always causes for gratitude.

The Road

Once again I rented an Avenger from Enterprise Car Rental and followed my summer wanderlust, all 23,000 kms of it. My friend Troy and I ventured into Saskatchewan for a couple of days exploring sacred sites. The rest of my travel was done in Manitoba, mostly Blooming pincushion cactus at Spirit Sandschasing my heritage geekness, rooting out heritage sites and doing documentation. Southeastern Manitoba and north of Dauphin, two areas of the province I wasn’t familiar with, supplied a wealth of new heritage sites. This is my picture of a pincushion cactus in bloom on the trail to Spirit Sands.

I was more prepared than ever for my heritage tours, doing thorough pre-travel research, planning itineraries and making arrangements for access and interviews at various spots along the way. I documented about ninety heritage sites this year, wrote and produced videos about many of them and still have a backlog of new ones for posting and uploading in 2013.

For a 49 second video clip of the map of Manitoba with my 2012 roads marked, click the pic.

When my heritage list was cleared, I hiked to Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Park about 30 times this year. I was able to introduce friends, both new and old, to the marvels of the park, especially Spirit Sands. ISpruce near trailhead yurted at Spruce Woods Park in June and August, both enjoyable experiences and ones I’d recommend for the almost-camper. Easy, inexpensive (take some friends) and fun. During my June stay at the yurt, I hiked into Spirit Sands just at sundown on the full moon. My post about the hike is called Gathering Moonlight at Spruce Woods Park.

Another hang-out of mine this year was the Criddle Vane Homestead which I have documented in several different ways including my 11:30 video tour of the site. Coming in 2013 another video and a post about this heritage site and the people who lived there.

Best Heritage Experiences

Two sites stood out this year, providing unique and very dissimilar experiences. Carberry, a little town just off the TCH east of Brandon, is a Manitoba heritage gem! Two blocks of Carberry’s Main Street have been officially deemed a heritage district, the only one in Manitoba. The concentration of well-preserved brick buildings constructed before and after 1900 earned the street the designation. I documented the street thoroughly and posted reports on all the individual heritageEast side of Carberry's Main Street buildings on the west side of the street, sixteen in all. The east side of Main Street is in the works for 2013 along with a video of the street. This picture shows some of the east side brick buildings which will be featured on my blog in the coming months.

The other enthralling heritage site is Negrych Pioneer Homestead, north of Gilbert Plains between Riding and Duck Mountains. Ten original log buildings from the 1890s and the equipment the family used, all of it fashioned from materials available on their farm, make this the best preserved Ukrainian pioneer homestead in North America! Lovingly preserved and maintained, the
site provides summer student guides who are knowledgeable and very empathetic to the Negrych family and their lives in the bush. The
Bunkhouse plus on Negrych homestead remoteness of the location, the complexity of the site and the attention to detail created a deep understanding of the hardships and the glories of early pioneer life. This bunkhouse with long shingle Carpathian roof is an iconic image from the Negrych farm. I am working on a video and feature article about the homestead.

Best Online Heritage Experience

The website for the Manitoba Historical Society is the best online resource I have found for referencing anything about Manitoba’s past. There is nothing that compares to it for its wealth of current details about heritage sites of all kinds, in-depth background on our history and people, and overall accuracy of the information. I have referred to it hundreds of times in my research. A major aspect to the website and a gargantuan project is an interactive map with over 4,000 Manitoba historic sites just a click away! Yes, 4,000 sites! I have a few hundred heritage sites on this blog and feel I’m getting things done. The 4,000 is the work of the MHS webmaster Gordon Goldsborough, a fellow heritage seeker who also likes heading out for a few days and gleaning every piece of heritage he can find, taking pictures, gathering information and GPS co-ordinates, all of which wind up on the website. Gord is much more successful at this than I am. Secretly, I get a little thrill on the very rare occasions when I discover a heritage site that Gord hasn’t already visited and posted on the MHS map! At all other times, I am in total awe of his work. Thank you Gord, for your integrity and determination. Links: MHS website and historic sites map.


I added 55 new videos to my YouTube channel this year, many of them with some kind of heritage angle, all of them original, bringing the total to over 170 videos. Heritage churches accounted for 13 new videos, heritage houses for 6, trains going by (I’m a train fan!) for 6, the rest on sundry topics. This month I exceeded 61,000 hits on the channel in the two years of its existence. I am humbled and grateful. Thank you for watching.

Here is a new video from my summer travels. Come on Along the Road with Reid and visit 12 Manitoba places in 5 minutes.


Two books, both loaned to me by dear friends, offered explanations for some deep and old mysteries this year. The Old Way The Old Way of Seeingof Seeing: How Architecture Lost Its Magic (And How To Get It Back) by architect Jonathan Hale clarified why some buildings appeal and seem to sing while others are disharmonious and ordinary. The secret is the Golden Section, the system most architects working before 1840 used to create human spaces, spaces that resonated with our bodies and spirits. I started to use Hale’s schematics on heritage buildings of all kinds to determine if the Golden Section was employed or not and discovered subtle and essential qualities that empathetic places all have. Published in 1994, the book is still available. Thank you Vonda.

The other book, Falling Into Grace: Insights on the End of Suffering by Adyashanti suggests another old way of seeing…with the spirit. If you are openly looking with love in your heart, other Old Souls joinadyashanti you on your journey and you on theirs. Within minutes of reading the opening pages of this book, I knew I was in the presence of not just an Old Soul, but someone who is reincarnated by choice, a man with a spiritual mission. He knows stuff we all can benefit from knowing. The initial simple idea of “They are only thoughts” led to recognizing the illusion of having any kind of control over anything to finally following Spirit’s invitation. Very often our paths crossed, the words are different but the experiences described flow from one source only. A book that tells the truth. Thank you Garcea.


It is just over three years since I lost Linda, my soul mate, to cancer. I now feel more accepting of her death due, in part, to the time that has
passed but also because of dear and loving friends. Adyashanti’s book helped me take large strides towards acceptance, giving me
Linda at IF in 1980sperspective on my suffering and offering simple methods to get out of my own way and help myself, to “fall into grace.” Thoughtful phone calls, chance encounters and many long coffees with friends have given me healing opportunities for which I am enormously grateful. Linda’s message to me is still “be happy.” This picture of smiling Linda was taken in the 1980s at our vintage clothing store called IF you have to get dressed in the morning…

Ezra Reid Scholl

Regular readers of my blog will recognize the name of my longtime friend Chris Scholl. For over a dozen years Chris and I have helped each other through many difficult life changes and we’ve celebrated our successes, too. We have traveled the prairie together, visited sacred places and made pacts with Nature together. We’ve become family. Chris and his beautiful partner Megan had a full moon baby boy in October. To my complete amazement, they named the boy after me – Ezra Reid Scholl! (just the Reid part.) For an intentionally-childless guy like me, I was, and still am, overwhelmed knowing I Ezra at 6 weekshave a namesake in the world. More than a metaphor, the first image that came to me was Ezra is “a tunnel into the future.” I explore so many tunnels into the past that having one going in the other direction flummoxed me for awhile but I am starting to find language for him now. He is six weeks old in this picture. I am so grateful to Megan and Chris for their loving gesture, for adding a fresh and unexpected dimension to my life resulting in a brand new kind of joy for me.  As only an innocent new-born can, Ezra helped me bear my grief at its most intense. The Christmas season was more real to me this year. I am humbled and happy to express my gratitude to a little child.

Wouldn’t you know, Ezra already comes with philosophy! Now just over two moons old, Ezra has grown and changed so much. When I think of the changes ahead of him, I smile. All those changes can be viewed on Ken Wilber’s Map of the Evolution of our Consciousness. Read from bottom up. Ezra is lolling in the primary matrix right now, undifferentiated from the world around him but just itching to climb as far up the ladder as he can. Soon he’ll start differentiating himself from the world. Such as? Noticing the difference between biting the blanket and biting his thumb or – in grandly-hewn Wilberese – “the hatching of the physical self.”

Ken Wilber's map

The Lonesomes: Sixteen Prairie Stories

Strange births and strange deaths and the lives lived in between on the Canadian prairies. Stirred by the forsaken tumbledown farmhouses and barns, rusting farm equipment and lonely places they abandoned to the prairie wind, the voices of the pioneers and their descendants tell their poignant tales. Farm folk recall their struggles against the elements. Town folk recount interpersonal conflicts and complexities. There is no music but for the lonesome prairie wind. A beautiful dance of sadness and joy ensues.

When you drive down a country road and see a lonesome old farmhouse, sun-baked and tumbling down, or a broken-down rusty half ton on a rise or an abandoned red barn, don’t you wonder what happened in those places, to those things? Maybe you even start making up stories about them. That’s what I did. I found sixteen such places on the prairies and let their stories arise in my imagination. The Lonesomes is the result!

A forty-seven minute docudrama eighteen months in the making, The Lonesomes is a creative extension of my interest in heritage. The sixteen original stories, ranging in length from one to Image from The Lonesomesfive minutes, span more than a century of history, roughly 1890 to 2005, from pioneers opening the harsh prairie and early railroading to second and third generations living complex lives in small towns and villages. The stories tell of the desperate births of people, towns and ideas, mysterious barns, trickery, magical windmills, memories of machinery, revenge and bizarre deaths.

The Lonesomes is a place where rusty old farm equipment suddenly spouts poetry, where the blue vastness of the prairie sky frightens a woman to death, where an innocent red barn is revealed as the scene of an old mystery, where a defeated small-town mayor sheepishly tellsBarn from The Lonesomes his odorous story, where two retired telephone operators have a chance encounter with life-changing results and where a pair of long-abandoned grain elevators have a wonderful dream.

I hired professional actors to voice the roles and recorded them at state-of-the-art Video Pool Studios. The sound quality is exceptional thanks to Michel Germain, an extraordinary audio engineer. The actors brought their best game to The Lonesomes. I’m thrilled to have my characters brought to life so thoroughly, so convincingly.

I shot all the images in HD digital myself. Visually The Lonesomes ranges from subtly changing still life to montage to live action always suggesting the location where the story occurs. The images are simple; the raw, explicit stories blow through them like the restless prairie wind.

This is much bigger than my YouTube stuff. Since I have a financial investment in it, I’ll explore the commercial potential of the piece. My plan is to market The Lonesomes in several ways. The options are many: from apps to E-books, on-demand TV to film festivals. I will keep you apprised. It’s a little too early for a preview but stay tuned to a blog near you.

Particular Posts

Another year of posts done, about 180 in all, covering the length and breadth of my interests. These are some of my best posts of the year with links to the original articles.


Early in the year I started my reporting on Carberry and its unique heritage position in Manitoba. An example is this incredible
Canadian government postergingerbread house built by James White. Starting in the late 1800s, the Canadian government advertised free land in the west to fill up the newly acquired North West Territories  I created the TV commercial for their ad campaign. If you think Winnipeg’s current mayor is a sleazebag, he’s carrying on a well-established tradition begun by our first mayor, Francis Cornish. Find out what I mean.


I reported on another bit of Carberry heritage – their vintage Louis Riel statueoctagonal agricultural display building. A rarity in Manitoba. On the 20th, Louis Riel Day,  I celebrated the day with two posts about the two Louis Riel statues that have had prominent places in Winnipeg. First statue, second statue. I ended our leap year with the first of several posts about Manitoba Heritage Under Duress, showing a couple of examples of damaged and disappeared sites.


Early in the month I posted a piece I had written a few months after my double-bypass heart surgery in 2002. The palpable power of an online prayer circle that formed around me for the surgery aiding the success of the procedure and speeding my healing afterwards is recounted in Nothing Virtual About It. On the 15th, in a grateful post called Lucky, Very Lucky, I wrote about the pattern of luck that has shaped my life. Last winter I watched a series of documentaries from the library and reported on four excellent ones – Gasland, Buck, Exit Through the Gift Shop and Catfish. I recommend them all highly. I Bruce's first albuminadvertently created one of the most popular posts when I wrote about Bruce Springsteen’s first two albums. Included with my thoughts on his music was a highly revealing photograph of a young, mostly naked Bruce taken by Lynn Goldsmith. Now when anyone searches springsteen naked, which happens surprisingly often, they find my post. I’ll bet one or two have even read the article. The post is called Forcing a Light, one of my best titles.To end the month, in case you missed memo, I posted a short video on why it’s called a combine.


The month began with a report on my beloved Spruce Woods Park Kevin Richardson kissing a lionand its state after the snow. This is the first of many park reports over the summer. It is love. That’s the only explanation for this amazing relationship between a man and 38 lions, a video I reposted from the internet. It will make your day. I posted about another great documentary called Waste Land – turning garbage into art. The Manitoba Escarpment, a geological step upward as you proceed west across the prairies, offers some spectacular views of the old lake bed below. One is at newly created Alexander Ridge Park near Miami, MB.  On the 15th, I posted Convergence – 35 Years Ago Today.  It commemorated the day Linda and I moved into a little house on Lorette Avenue – our first home together. We stayed there a couple of years. The house is gone now but not the Super 8 I shot out its front window.


Reports from the road started in earnest this month as my summer travels got underway  The Fort La Reine Museum on the east side of Portage la Prairie is a terrific museum. I hiked the Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Park about 30 times last summer and Hoary puccoon along the trail to Spirit Sandsdid two reports this month: the first about the park’s recovery from the floods of 2011, and the second post on my hikes so far. We’ll take any excuse for a long weekend in Canada and Victoria Day is a prime example. I explain why we celebrate the day. I suppose it’s because of its general outrageousness, but this Email from an Old Friend draws views for all kinds of reasons.


I started my posts about one of Manitoba’s heritage gems, Carberry One fine Carberry buildingand the turn-of-the-century buildings lining its main drag. The first three buildings on the street are here, here and here. In an early report from along the road, I covered a drive I took up to Dauphin and beyond. I did a report on an alluvial fan which has garnered a surprising number of views. People wanna know! I ended the month with something for armchair engineers – chug chug chug.


I kicked off the month with another report from the road, this time
Trinity of light in aisle of a churchfrom a tour through southwestern Manitoba including Spirit Sands and Brandon. In July I reported on six more of the fine old buildings along Carberry’s Main Street. The best way to access all my reports is to choose Carberry in the categories. A provocative title about what happens after death caught some views thanks to Dr. Kenneth Ring.


Two trains and two trestle bridges provided some excellent video as did my exploration of two bridges, one trestle, one swinging, over the Structural support for swinging bridge over RoseauRoseau River. Another road report from southern Manitoba including Miniota, Hartney and Spruce Woods Park. The dog days of summer found me reporting from southeast of Winnipeg. A veteran thrift store haunter, I celebrated the 40th anniversary of MCCs (Mennonite Central Committee) thrift stores. Based on years of seeking out and exploring often remote heritage sites, I make some observations in a post called Sex and the Solitary Heritage Site.


My reports from Carberry continued this month and I also wrote about heritage sites that have been lost for various reasons. I repostedThe staircase that killed Percy Criddle my Map of Dying from the Tibetan Book of the Dead followed by two more road reports. The first offers interesting pictures from here and there; the second has a dozen pictures from around the province with my short write-ups. Language always fascinates me and the hobo code, a series of symbols that transients in the first half of the 20th century created, resulted in a popular video. I explored a spooky old house inside and out, resulting in another original video.


The appeal of ruins along the road was expressed in several original Wooden statue of Katerivideos including one called Portals to the Past, which combines live images with harrowing sounds. My curiosity about language found me exploring Diner Slang, food to the nth degree. I wrote about two more buildings in Carberry’s heritage district this month. Things to do along the road included Reid’s Roadside Junk, which meant filling a small box with highly miscellaneous items and leaving it somewhere out there, all documented on video, of course. On the 20th, I wrote about the impending canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha in the context of Leonard Cohen’s second novelBeautiful Losers, in which she is a central character.


I elaborated on a post I found online about Friendship, adding a few items gathered from my life. Desperate for free stuff to fill the ever-increasing white space between their ads, the Winnipeg Free Press ran the Friendship post in their Sunday edition as blog of the week. Later in the month I posted a piece about digital executors and new forms of memorializing yourself after death called Log Off in Peace – Cyber Wills and the Virtual Beyond.


In a repost from the internet, which I called Mayo = Life, a succinct explanation of our basic empty awareness ensues. I celebrated the second anniversary of this blog on the 11th. As the year ends, the blog’s view count is more than 182,000 in just over two years. Thank you one and all! The tradition of the 12 Days of Christmas began in the 14th, this year heritage churches and houses alternated daily until Christmas.

The Future

The immediate future will see 31 short absurd videos – one a day, every day, like a pill, throughout January. The series called Sorry Notes to the Future starts January 1st. I plan to kick back in January, let the blog ride with Sorry Notes and focus on some other projects I’ve been putting off. Thereafter, expect more heritage reports from this year’s travels and loads more of the other guff you’ve come to expect from RRR.

I wish you only happiness in 2013 and may you awaken each day with this kind of determination in your spirit.


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Filed under Heritage Buildings, Linda, Manitoba Heritage, Year-end Review 2012

World Collage Week – Day Seven

Reid Dickie

After the Sunday service at the Squishy Church for Everybody and communal Sacrificing of Common Sense, it’s the Pulp and Pancake Breakfast in the Bally Crawlspaces presented by the International Forestry Industry (their motto is “Do we look oriented?”) who are introducing a new line of edible tree products, basically poorly-disguised sawdust – oak oats, elm nuts, cedar wheat, aspen aspic (yuck, first; and second, who needs or craves or can even be sold fucking aspic in the 21st century? They’ve been smoking their bibles at the Big Tree Club!), pine sugar, willow eggs, teak Tylenol, unknown nanotree additives for cereals, potato chips and anything that fizzes at any time during its processing and/or consumption and yew yogurt. The pancakes are actually irradiated plumped birch bark, plumped ground pulp, and acidophilus infused with the genes of a panther and a ring-tailed chubhyct. What will those wacky biogeneticists think of next?! The syrup is maple, of course. Collage festival week concludes, as usual, with regression: smiting, keening, ulullating, bisoning, quailing, shaling, stoning, and sexual frolic. Hope you can come at least once. These are the last two collages (I could be swayed by public opinion…) of the week.


Her men gathered in the kitchen, each eager to be blindfolded, spun around and fed pot roast with extra pot.


“And this is how you were conceived, son. Do you understand?”

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Art Actions, BEAUTY, DickToolery, Humour, Love

World Collage Week – Day Three

Reid Dickie

Today’s big event is the International Shred-a-thon which began at 2:00 this morning worldwide and runs for 24 hours. It’s Cloud Nine for paper fetishists. Due to the Miracle of Technology, the whirring and chewing of millions of paper shredders of all sizes will be heard echoing without stint through the ancient octagonal drums of Our Lady of Ouch Ouch Grotto, one of the area’s major tourist attractions. Here are today’s celebratory collages. Yummy!


She watched the fuzzy dice sway gently back and forth from the rearview as the Chiffons sang “He’s So Fine.” He was large and hot, increased his pace inside her, did a few dick tricks and groaned. She told him to bark like a dog and he always did which made her even hotter and hornier. His face and shoulders were getting red. He was just about to come when…


No time for coffee? Need the caffeine anyway? Try the new Caffeine Patch from Maulco. Slap one on first thing every morning and you are caffeinated for the day. Convenient, non-allergenic, contains no peanuts. Side effects include jitters, shitters and quitters. Extreme but rare side effects include machete-wielding serial killing, exploding penis, taserable panic attacks and/or death.

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Filed under Art Actions, BEAUTY, dicktool co, DickToolery, Humour, Linda

World Collage Week – Day Two

Reid Dickie

Collage week celebrations continue! At noon today, join me and the gang down at the Fussy Eaters Clubroom at Sunshine and Suchness. We’ll be chowing down on lymph burgers and yamato juice. Later is the hike through the Recanted PVC Forest, a rebuilt plastic imitation of a forest that once stood there, tree for tree, tick for tick. It’s a remarkable accomplishment in simulacra. Experience it before it’s against the law! Meanwhile, enjoy today’s collages.


“Of course we can convince them that one plus one equals three. They are sheep. They believe what their television tells them to believe. They sit or stand at the touch of a button. They think they are who they are told they are. Of course we can convince them…”


While Jack and his drinking buddies watched the game in the living room, Michelle, in the guise of painting the bathroom, was actually communing with Medusa.

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Filed under Art Actions, Blog Life, dicktool co, DickToolery, Humour, Linda

Celebrating World Collage Week – Day One

Reid Dickie

Come join me for a week of collage festivities on readreidread! June 18 to 24, 2012 has been deemed World Collage Week by the International Collagists Enclave (ICE), meeting in Brussels. The designating motion, seconded by the secretive Dry and Darkists, proclaimed that, during this week, the entire planet be recognized as a collage in its own right. The proclamation is lengthy, detailed, merciless tho housebroken and available for consumption on the ICE website at www.thisisajoke.com

Inspired and required by the ICE, I will post two collages daily this week, one colour, one black and white. These are selected from paper collages Linda and I created back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Each will be accompanied by a brief story suggesting possibilities for the image. Do not be limited by the stories. They are merely suggestions. Enjoy!


We who divide everything by three, who must divide everything by three, we are the triplists of the world – our vision is pure, our ways quaint and our power unfathomable.


I am smiling down on you from Great Heaven helping you remember something you have forgotten. Have you remembered it yet? Keep trying. Be still. Look inside. It’s there.

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Filed under Art Actions, dicktool co, DickToolery, Humour, Local History

Linda’s Things

Reid Dickie

Today, among Linda’s things, I found this picture she had taken of Teedy, our lovely cat that lived with Linda and me for seventeen years. Clipped to the picture was a little piece of paper with this quote from one of Linda’s favourite authors written on it. “The slow petting of the beloved cat is the increasingly complicated heart speaking with the hand.” – Barry Lopez.

I just needed to share this with you.

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Filed under BEAUTY, Family, Linda, Love

Convergence – 35 Years Ago Today

Reid Dickie

As John Lennon would say, today is a “red lettuce” day in the history of Linda and Reid. On this date, 35 years ago, we formally amalgamated our households and our lives by moving into a small house at 729 Lorette Avenue in Winnipeg. Since we had fallen madly in love, the move was inevitable. It was an usually hot April day, at least for back then, as the temperature soared into the 80s. Sweat was pouring off us and my friend Ted who helped with the move but we managed to clear out two apartments and find space for our combined stuff in the little house.

The house had been a rental property for some time before we moved in and had been reasonably well-maintained. I think we paid $130 a month for it which was appropriate. It became our “one-and-a-half-storey utopia” as we called it, alternating with “the boxcar” because it was long, narrow and open. This picture shows 729 Lorette in 2010 just before it was demolished. It hadn’t been lived in or heated for several years and was deemed “unihabitable.” It had served its purpose, satisfied intent and provided all its shelter.

About Lorette Avenue: it’s a Winnipeg anomaly, a “hermaphrodite street,” as Guy Maddin calls it in My Winnipeg (See this movie please). The front yards of one side of the street, our side, face backyards across the street. This odd bit of urban planning goes on for a couple of blocks then shifts over a block then dissolves into correct property lines. “No one speaks of Lorette Avenue,” again from My Winnipeg. This is the view directly across from 729 Lorette today.

Putting Lorette Avenue’s hermaphroditic charm to use, during the hot summer of 1978 I shot a fast frame Super 8 film out our front window into the backyards across the street. It wound up with a great Pere Ubu soundtrack, a song called Go, and is a popular choice on my DickTool channel on YouTube. Catch a glimpse of Lorette back then.

Linda and I lived on Lorette for two years, making our early art together – photography, films, collage, video. You can find the detailed chronological history of our artlife on my DTC Art page. Some of our strangest video art ensued from the Lorette house. Videos shot on Lorette include Cheap Grace, No Shirt No Shoes No Service, The Yard, Evidence of Winter and Video Shoes. The Super 8, Passionate Leave, was also shot there.

The little house was demolished and replaced with a spanky new duplex over the past year. This is what stands at 729 Lorette Avenue today.

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Filed under Accommodations, Art Actions, BEAUTY, dicktool co, Family, Linda, Love, video art, Winnipeg

Forcing a Light – Bruce Springsteen One and Two

Reid Dickie

“Sandy, the fireworks are hailin’ over Little Eden tonight, forcing a light into all those stony faces left stranded on this warm July.” – Bruce Springsteen

My high school English teacher, Mrs. Smith, along with my teacher Mom, instilled in me a deep appreciation of images conjured out of mere words and the power that ability holds. They made me realize that to stimulate the imagination of others using language carries a mysterious power, creates a direct bond between people and satisfies our need to share experiences. I have pursued the satisfactions of words ever since, in what I write, what I hear and what I read. I am always listening for an original turn of phrase, a dazzling metaphor, an unexpected linkage of images to include in my writing. I admire writers who do this with alacrity and clarity. Annie Proulx’s best work is a cascade of exciting and unexpected images. Almost every page of her fiction offers something that makes me think, ‘Yes, that’s a unique way of expressing it.’ Annie intimidates me and inspires me with her imagery.

Songwriters have garnered my admiration for their abilities to build pictures with words, especially Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen. Last summer, when I listened to music on my travels in the mighty Avenger, it was almost always Bruce Springsteen’s first two albums, Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ and The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, both released in 1973, the year Bruce turned 24. That year I started at CFRW-FM in Winnipeg doing a free-form evening radio show that often spun tracks from Greetings… When the second album came out in the fall, it became a huge hit on my show with listener requests every night. The Boss had arrived!

This revealing picture of Bruce was taken by Lynn Goldsmith and appears in her 1995 book Photodiary. Opposite the full page picture the copy reads: “Once during a studio shoot Bruce started taking off his clothes. I yelled at him to stop. He thought it was funny. I was angry. I told him that if he ever took his clothes off for any photographer he’d be putting himself in the position where one day the pictures could be published.”

 The work on Bruce’s first two albums reflected and, to a degree, created American mythology, some of it dredged from adolescent fantasies, some captured from flocks of fresh and fleeting visions in the form of stream of consciousness rants.


Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.

released January 5, 1973

Greetings… consists of nine songs, all written and arranged by Bruce. Every song is infused with youthful vigour and keen enthusiasm, images tumble by as a peculiar cast of characters emerge, live their short urban lives then recede only to be followed by others. The album quickly, and somewhat justifably, earned Bruce the title of “the next Bob Dylan,” an endless quest of 1970s rock journalists. Bruce’s encyclopedic knowledge of 1950 and 60s rock and roll combined with the heavy influence of American movies meant the images from Bruce’s first album already felt familiar. Most songs on Greetings…, especially Lost in the Flood and The Angel, have great cinematic flare. Bruce writes what he knows. His milieu is the big city and seaside resort as experienced by a bright curious American boy. Right from the album title through the postcard cover design to the last track, Bruce invites you into his world. His vision has knowable, safe parameters and sources; he is confident that his world is worth visiting and he is ready to show the rest of the world why.

I always like to know the first words of an artist’s career, meaning the first lyrics they sing on the first track on their first album. In Bruce’s case, Blinded by the Light kicks off Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. with these words: “Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat in the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat.” That’s a helluva start to a career! And only the beginning as a rampage of characters follow. In 1977 Manfred Mann’s Earth Band had a #1 hit with their dreadful version of this tune but you need to know the original. It is Bruce’s first song.

Growin’ Up is a wistful mid tempo rocker that demonstrates Bruce’s evolved perspective on vanishing youth. Bruce was 23 years old when this album was recorded.

Mary Queen of Arkansas appears to live on Dylan’s Desolation Row having just returned from My Last Trip to Tulsa on Neil Young’s first album. Harrowing, sparse and personal yet lyrically opaque, Mary has just enough ambiguity and heartbreak showing through to make us yearn along with the poor confused boy.

Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? One of rock’s great question songs, it’s a peon to entertaining yourself by people watching while riding the bus. A favourite line is, “Man, the dope’s that there’s still hope.” Bruce conjures another wild cast that build to a gorgeous cinematic finale.

“Everybody’s wrecked on Main Street from drinkin’ unholy blood,”  – an apt description of the misfits and cops who populate Lost in the Flood. Three things about this track: it has some of Bruce’s most dramatic poetic images that build in an enticing musical and lyrical swell, Steven Van Zandt makes his first appearance on a Bruce album providing “sound effects” (he’d next appear on Born to Run two years later) and I love this track. It takes me there every time! Back in the day, that was the end of Side One of Greetings…

The Angel is the outline for a movie, sung plaintive and plain with a denouement I wish I’d thought of. It demonstrates that right from the get-go Bruce wasn’t afraid to use quiet strings and solo piano to frame his stories.

For You is another cascade of brief but urgent glimpses into the psychic field between devotion and rejection, disease and healing and all the angst contained therein. Bruce and the boys relay the emergency convincingly.

One of Bruce’s sexiest grooves, Spirit in the Night is my favorite track here. Today Martin Scorsese would direct the movie in which this is but one marvellous scene. The characters are high, happy and horny and the events at Greasy Lake are your basic orgy on the beach. Body and soul unite in a magical sex flight “where the gypsy angels go. They’re built like light,” one of my favourite Bruce characterisations. Clarence, who is under used on the album, establishes and maintains the bubbling groove and reenforces it with a fine break. Wild Billy has “a bottle of rose so let’s try it” which I take to mean Wild Irish Rose, a long-time harsh and cheap bum wine. The hint of sadness in Bruce’s voice in the last verse when they leave Greasy Lake makes me feel very nostalgic for youth, for the freedom the unknowable future encourages.

As if he foresaw or richly imagined the life and work ahead of him, such as  becoming a Planetary Treasure, It’s Hard To Be a Saint in the City is tongue-in-cheek bluster from one of the coolest guys Bruce ever described. Pumping along, high definition city core images arise then sink back into the steam in the street. The tune and album end with a burbling fadeout.

The E Street Band was in its formative stages on Greetings… The only players here who became permanent band members are saxman Clarence Clemmons and Garry Tallent on bass. The album suffers from muffled production by Mike Appel and Jim Creteros. The biggest drag on the band is the ham-fisted drumming of Vincent Lopez, one of rock’s worst over-drummers. Otherwise the playing is worthy of the songs, Bruce the lone guitar on the entire album.

In order to save some of the cash Columbia Records had advanced to Bruce, Greetings… was recorded quickly in an inexpensive studio in Blauvelt, N.Y. and it sounds like it. The tunes and the songs are there, the talent is evident and the whole album has the feeling of being just the tip of a very large iceberg but the production detracts more than it should. Nonetheless an auspicious beginning!

The album only sold about 25,000 copies in the first year of its release, but had significant critical impact. On its 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, Rolling Stone ranked it #379. It’s #57 on my list.


The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle

released September 11, 1973

This was the convincer for me. Like Axis: Bold As Love, Hendrix’s second album, The Wild… proved without doubt Bruce was a force that the future required, beckoned, quickened. Although again produced by Appel and Cretecos and recorded at 914 Sound Studios, the same studio as the first album, this outing is less muddy than the debut, in fact almost throughout it’s downright bright. Future permanent E Streeter, Danny Federici, turns up on keys, everything’s bigger, even Vini Lopez steps up a little – maybe it’s just how he was recorded this time. Again Bruce is the only guitarist on the album. The Wild… is attractive, convincing, eloquent, beautifully sequenced so every song complements and contrasts the ones around it and Clarence gets to wail!

The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle kicks off the escapade with clattery horns resolving into a smooth groove maintained by Clarence that bounces around under a story of sexy youthful diversions performed by a fleeting cast. The last minute and a half feature a sweet guitar break followed by a funky percussion workout to the fade. Sweet and a perfect introduction the next track.

One of my all-time favourite Bruce songs, 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), like all great rock and roll, is about fucking and the pursuit thereof. It’s Sandy’s big chance for sex with the needy poet boy from the beach. The fireworks of the first line promise orgasms later. Throughout he’s telling Sandy what he thinks she’ll buy, what will make her sexually sympathetic to him. He mentions getting stuck on the tilt-a-whirl, shares boardwalk gossip, explains his break-up with his waitress girfriend, tires of the factory girls who tease him, generally uses all his “lines.”  To create empathy, he tries to explain that he and Sandy are the same stuff, know the same lives.  I like how during the line “And the wizards play down on pinball way” Bruce’s acoustic guitar imitates Pete Townsend’s work on Pinball Wizard. Near the end of the song Bruce promises that if she loves him tonight he’ll love her forever. The delivery of the word forever is truly marvellous – a mixture of sexual urge, youthful promise and doubt with a huge scary question mark beside it which acknowledges the understanding between he and Sandy on this potentially special night! Beautiful! But he’s quitting the beach scene and encourages Sandy to do the same, to give up the “carnival life.” Although the song ends without a denouement, I like to think it all worked and they had mad, once-in-a-lifetime sex under the boardwalk that night creating more fireworks as promised.

Kitty’s Back is the perfect companion piece to Sandy, filled with seaside characters and their relationship to Kitty. Bruce’s sweet guitar playing sets the tone for the piece which has a free-for-all break that allowed most of the band members to improvise during concerts. This tune and Rosalita were the album’s most requested songs on CFRW-FM. 

Continuing the fast-slow-fast-slow flow of the album, Wild Billy’s Circus Story ends side one with a delightful visit to the circus and some brief glimpses of its odd denizens. Garry Tallent pumps the tuba, Federici provides accordian and Bruce strums guitar and mandolin to create a midway atmosphere so pure and convincing you can smell the hot dogs, taste the cotton candy and hear the screams of the roller coaster riders. Bruce writes what he knows yet the tune only hints at the drama that awaits us.

Side two consists of three epics starting with Incident on 57th Street which features Spanish Johnny and his adventures in bed and out on the street. Here’s Bruce’s opening description of our hero: “Spanish Johnny drove in from the underworld last night with bruised arms and broken rhythm and a beat-up old Buick but dressed just like dynamite.” The whole song could be the outline for a great movie script. The track is dominated by gorgeous piano and organ work from Federici and David Sancious and a bunch of tedious over-drumming from Lopez.

Fuelled by Clarence’s sax and Sancious’ organ, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) rocks! A long-time concert closer, it’s the story of our poor boy pursuing beautiful Rosie, his “stone desire,” against the strong will of her parents. He’s sure things will work out because “The record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance!” – one of Bruce’s happiest deliveries.

New York City Serenade offers romantic mythology couched in dramatic piano work from Sancious. The entire epic floats, buoyed by Sancious’ piano and string arrangement and Clarence’s sexy sax wail. A new cast arises, starting with Billy and Diamond Jackie getting it on in the backseat of Billy’s Cadillac at “midnight in Manhattan” with hookers, jazz musicians, small time crooks in “a mad dog’s promenade.” Clarence’s contributes glorious sax throughout. On a personal note, there are two lines from this song that I have said aloud to myself every night for the past 20 years just before I fall asleep. These words have become my day-ending mnemonic device to induce sleep: “Shake away street life, shake away city life.” Works every night.  Thanks Bruce!  

In 2003, The Wild… was ranked #132 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. On my personal list, it’s #17.

FM radio caught on to Bruce right away. He was hopeful, humorous, intense and great fun! For me, from the beginning, he was a breath of fresh and honest air in a growing sea of mediocrity dominated by phony bands like Kiss.

Bruce Springsteen changed my life. Find out how in this post https://readreidread.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/linda-and-the-boss/

Next my Bruce post is Born to Run. Coming soon to blog near you.   

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Filed under BEAUTY, Family, Hope, Linda, Love, Music, Old Souls, Spirit

Four Docs

Reid Dickie

I’ve been pillaging the Winnipeg library system’s terrific collection of DVDs for recent documentaries and have four to recommend to you. I’m sure you can find some or all of these on the internet.

Gasland by Josh Fox Wanna see a guy light his tap water on fire? Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, is a dangerous and earth-killing technique that oil and gas companies all over North America use to release natural gas from shale deposits deep underground. A combination of water, sand and over 900 chemicals under enormous pressure is pumped into the shale, fracturing the rock. Trouble is, without any oversight, the drillers pollute the groundwater of area residents with natural gas and chemicals causing dire consequences. On the Canadian prairies, fracking is used extensively in southwestern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan. It would be interesting to look at the groundwater purity in places like Waskada and Melita, MB and Stoughton, Carlyle and Weyburn, SK today and see what happens to it over the next year or two. Click the pic to watch a preview of Gasland.

Buck by Cindy Meehl Buck Brannaman is an American “horse whisperer” of sorts. Raised by a violently abusive father, Buck bucked the typical imitative lifestyle of the beaten-young and lived the opposite life, one of compassion, love and understanding for people and animals, especially horses. We follow Buck as he travels to various four-day horse-training workshops and we encounter the people and horses he meets and tames using his gentle technique which he teaches to the horse owners. We get to listen to Buck’s country philosophy delivered with humour and true wisdom. As Buck says, “Often, instead of helping people with horse problems, I’m helping horses with people problems.” I was honoured and humbled to spend ninety minutes in the presence of someone as highly evolved as Buck Brannaman and you will be too when you watch it. Click pic to see preview.

Exit Through the Gift Shop by Banksy When Linda and me first got together in 1977 we made all sorts of art including street art. Our outdoor work included putting fancy decorated bras on the “breasts” of fire hydrants, postering neighbourhood telephone poles with paper collages and so on. (You can find out much more about our early art efforts on my DTC Art page.) The spirit of street art has grown since then to the degree that one of the genre’s most shadowy figures, British graffiti artist Banksy, has made an Academy Award nominated documentary on the topic. Banksy tries to give us some direction here but this film twists and turns until you’re not sure who or what it is about. Fascinating glimpses into the lives of Shepard Fairey (OBEY) and Thierry Guetta whose role changes as the film progresses. Overall a statement on art beyond post-modernism demonstrating that the distance between graffiti on a brick wall in an alley and on the wall of a cocktail-muzak art gallery is very short. There is some indication the whole movie was a hoax, a prank by Banksy. Decide for yourself. Click pic for a preview.

Catfish by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost After a discussion on the veracity of the internet, my friend Kenn recommended Catfish to me. Thanks Kenn! Here we find a nice Jewish photographer who starts to buy art ostensibly painted by a little girl over the internet. Soon he meets her older sister, again over the internet. They talk on the phone, exchange pictures, check each other out on Facebook and he starts to fall in love with her. He desperately needs something to believe in but gradually things about her don’t add up so he and his filmmaker friends decide to visit her in Michigan. That’s as far as the trailer takes you and I’m leaving you there too. You’re on your own for the rest of this fast-paced eye-opener. I didn’t have much sympathy for the gullible photographer who seemed incapable of any kind of critical thinking, dumbed down and fully in the sway of Born-Yesterday Syndrome but I was richly entertained by the film. The upshot: Believe nothing you read on the internet, including my reviews, unless you can personally verify it, which in my case you can by seeing the films. Click the pic for trailer.

Four non-docs I recommend: Red State is a departure for that Kevin Smith and the antidote to Clerks. Tyrannosaur is a powerful British film completely peopled with despicables. The first season of British crime drama Luther features the incredible Idris Elba in the scary title role. Pirate Radio is a nostalgic romp that includes one of the best Beatles homage moments ever.

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Filed under Art Actions, Diversions, Film, Linda, Love

New Video – Frozen Warnings Taxi Mix

Reid Dickie

A blast from the past! Alternate take of “Frozen Warnings,” a Nico classic covered by beautiful Linda and myself somewhere in the early 1980s. (Find our original version here.) This time, join us on a taxi ride from near River and Osborne to Winnipeg’s North End via the Arlington Street Bridge. Alfred Avenue between Battery and Artillery is where Linda grew up.  The Winnipeg taxi dispatcher works hard to keep the customer satisfied while we Dick Tool around, intoning a freakish duet. Local landmarks arise, Homer’s Restaurant on Ellice, the Windmill Restaurant on Selkirk and who remembers the Rickshaw Restaurant at 875 Portage? Rancid Randy, a feisty obese raccoon who frequented area backyards, can be heard pounding on a toy baby grand piano we set up near our trash can and tricked him into playing. That coon plays a nasty yano!

Despite the full moon and the deep background the places contain, things aren’t quite right. Aren’t they? Click the pic to find out.

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Filed under Art Actions, BEAUTY, DickToolery, Family, Humour, Linda, Video, Winnipeg

Lucky, Very Lucky

Reid Dickie

“We never know how we will affect people by just being who we are.” – Chris Scholl

Looking back over my six decades as Reid Dickie, I see patterns that define who I am. The older I get and the more honest I am with myself, the more evident my patterns become. Recurring events and themes that were confusing and unhappy at the time now make sense in the long view. By seeking out our patterns, we make ourselves wise, wise about ourselves and others, wise about the world. The trade-off in this life is wisdom for youth. As our bodies age and start to limit us, we are given the opportunity to become wise, to blossom mentally, possibly spiritually. Wisdom is not guaranteed though. It takes work. 

A major pattern of my life has been luck. Starting when I was a little boy I can recall my father often saying to me that I had a lucky horseshoe up my bum. When your father tells you something like that, you tend to take it literally which I did until Mom explained what he meant.  Dad was trying to tell me what a lucky boy I was. In the long view, he was right, as ever! Dad’s wisdom flowed smoothly and naturally through him. He inspired me more and more intensely the older and wiser he got. Every day I aspire to become like him. I have my work cut out for me.

Whether I was born lucky or grew into it, the horseshoe became a lifelong symbol and reminder of my good fortune. It certainly contributed to the notion that we create our own luck. Here’s an example of creating my own luck.

I am one of those incredibly lucky people who knew from a young age what I wanted to do with my life, what I wanted to “be.” When I was eleven I decided I would become a radio announcer, more specifically a disc jockey. I remember earnestly discussing this with my parents when I was about 12. Although, as parents do, they both had higher aspirations for their only child: Mom wanted a doctor and Dad wanted…huh? Dad wanted me to be myself. Whoever that was or would be, that’s what Dad wanted me to “be.” Thanks Dad. Though Mom persisted good-naturedly with the doctor thing, we all decided that if I wanted to be a disc jockey, I’d be a damn good one and go to school to learn how it was done well. And I did.

After two years studying Radio and television Arts at Ryerson in Toronto, I got my first radio job in Flin Flon at CFAR where I was DJ, news reader, commercial writer and general joeboy. I loved it! I had made the right choice. Nine months later, in 1971, I got on at CKX in Brandon where I did the all-night show for 23 months. Five nights a week, starting at 1 a.m., I played whatever music I wanted for four hours then two hours of country music from 5 to 7 a.m. and I was done. I loved it! In the summer of 1973 I got a job in a major market – Winnipeg on CFRW-FM. At the time CFRW-FM simulcast the AM station for 18 hours a day and let me free range in their FM band for the other six. Again I could play or do whatever I wanted…and did. I loved it!

Hairy and happy, this is a picture of me in the CFRW-FM studio about 1974. There are more pics of me from my radio days in the Gallery.

For a short time after I got there, CFRW-FM studios were in the Confederation Building on the bend on Winnipeg’s Main Street. The station moved across the street to the old CKY radio studios near Main and McDermot. (The building is gone now.) The FM studio happened to be the very same studio where the CKY DJs who inspired me to work in radio did their shows in the early 1960s. I had come full circle. I had been devoured by the medium and spit out nightly on air, free to do and be whoever I wanted in a major market! It was the fruition of my dream from when I was eleven, a little bit of heaven, a luxury that few DJs thereafter ever got to experience. I created my radio fantasy for nearly two years before CHUM from Toronto bought both stations, turning FM into heavily-formatted CHIQ-FM.

CHUM buying CFRW-FM was another irony of my radio career. When I attended Ryerson in Toronto, I listened to CHUM-FM which was a terrific free-form radio station, a creative leader. CHUM-FM inspired the style of radio I would do in my early career but, in Winnipeg, CHUM was eliminating free-form radio in favour of tight formats.

Since its inception in the 1930s, FM radio had largely been a commercial mystery to broadcasters. Its stereo capacity attracted classical music but it wasn’t until the 1960s that FM’s commercial potential began to be exploited. First it was free-form radio, alternative, hippie stations that played lots of new music, had no format and played no hits. This was the first hint that FM held enormous possibilities to make money. By the mid-1970s FM had come under the thumb of the “format geniuses” and the end of free-form loomed. I was among the last DJs on a commercial station to create radio without formats or any kind of restrictions, other than playing the Club Beer commercials after 10 p.m. College and university radio stations would provide the next opportunity for people to create free-form radio. I was very lucky.

CFRW-FM added to my luck because it was there I met Linda. She worked in various capacities at the station, one of which was to give me a wake-up call about 1:00 every the afternoon. Linda lived in my neighbourhood so we started to hang out together, fell madly in love and spent the next thirty-three years together. Again, lucky, lucky!

Since getting online ten years ago, I have been contacted out of the blue by three former radio listeners who remember my work at CFRW-FM. All three claimed that my words and music left an indelible impression on their lives, whether it was their taste in music, their outlook on life or as an example of personal freedom. Recently one former listener contacted me and I hope he won’t mind if I quote his first email: I just wanted to let you know that you had a most profound affect on my life. I listened to your radio show on CFRW FM nearly every night. I`m talking about the show you did from 8pm -2am. Your words and music have stayed with me in my life. Right now I can barely type these words as memories keep flooding back. I am glad I was able to finally tell these things to you. Thank you so much. And remember “the harder you pull, the tighter it gets”.

I was surprised, humbled and overwhelmed by this email. I am enormously grateful to this man for sharing with me. Talk about a day-maker! As my friend Chris pointed out in this post’s opening quote, we never know the positive change we make in the world by simply being ourselves, by following our bliss. But every once in a while…

Lucky, very lucky!!


Filed under 1960s, Blog Life, Family, Life and Life Only, Linda, Love, Winnipeg

Nothing Virtual About It

Reid Dickie

Six weeks after I had double bypass heart surgery in 2002, I wrote this piece about healing and prayer circles.

Before we got our home desktop, whenever my computer-literate friends would talk about virtual reality, virtual communities, virtual museums, virtual anything, I would smile, nod and appear to know exactly what they meant. I didn’t, of course.

I understood the word ‘virtual’ and the concept they were using it to support but I was not adequate to their meaning of the term. It was the context I was missing. I didn’t have the necessary tool to create the possibility of something/anything being ‘virtual’ in my life. That changed the day I unpacked the computer. Soon I’d be keenly aware of the new meaning of this word ‘virtual’.

It was Valentine’s Day 2002 when I found out I needed double-bypass heart surgery. The stress test, angiogram and nuclear heart scan all pointed to the same conclusion: two of my coronary arteries were almost completely blocked. Surgery was recommended though not urgent since I could function with medication and moderation.

Ten years before, at age forty-two, I’d had a heart attack shoveling snow on another February day. It was my wake-up call! I paid attention. Changing my diet, habits and attitude, and walking twenty miles a week for a year at a rehabilitation-fitness centre saved my life. I had ten good years before my “genetic predisposition” caught up with me. The cousin who minds the family tree mentioned how many of my male predecessors had heart problems and attacks. The surgeon who performed the bypasses commented on how I’d gotten a bit of a raw deal genetically since I was slim, otherwise healthy and “young.”

There is a limit to the amount of responsibility for one’s situation you can attribute to “genetic predisposition.” The guilty food pleasures, the walks I should have taken but didn’t, the negative thoughts and aggression that always work against the heart; this is where my responsibility lay, how I started to jam up my own arteries. And now the consequence, the feedback was making itself known. Heart surgery!

Nothing virtual about it. This was a problem at the level of matter and meat. It was something we could fix, do fix everyday, almost routinely, with modern medical tools and skills. A re-arranging of arteries and veins, the right drugs for the various stages of the procedure and afterwards, the pump to take over from the heart and lungs, the drainage pathways required, the restricted movements to allow proper healing of bone and flesh – all this we are very accomplished at doing.

I had the surgery in mid-June. With at least six weeks of recovery after the operation, some financial planning had to be arranged and I needed to research the surgery and the alternatives. I spent many hours online reading about the heart, bypass surgery – often in full colour graphic detail – and the other resources available.

After weighing the alternatives, Linda and I decided the surgery would be my best option at this stage of life. I was strong and healthy enough to survive it intact, we were confident about the skills of the surgeon and the surgical staff.

One idea I came up with during this time was to create a prayer circle of family and friends online and elsewhere when the day of my operation neared; a ‘virtual’ prayer circle as one of my friends dubbed it.

As resilient and resourceful as the human body is, it necessarily houses a spirit that requires expression in the world and thrives on love exchanged between beings. That was what I wanted to tap into with the prayer circle.

I was on the cardiac surgery waiting list four weeks. On a Friday, I got my date. It would be in one week. Linda and I kept the date to ourselves during the weekend giving us a chance to mull it over and feel more settled about the whole procedure. It weighed heavy on my mind.

When we live more intensely, as in a pre-operative state, life begins to manifest itself in ways that are necessary and appropriate. As we began to inform family and friends about the surgery date, something wonderful happened! When we shared the burden of knowing, an increasing lightness started to grow in both Linda and me. The simple act of sharing the burden relieved the weightiness of the immediate future. With each successive person we informed, anxiety melted away. An unexpected confidence started to build in me, complete certainty that this was the right thing to do.

Two days before surgery I emailed the prayer circle request to about 25 family and friends. It was straightforward with date and time of surgery, approximate hospital recovery time and a simple sincere request:

“Please join together in a circle of love during and after my surgery with your prayers and positive energy. Your loving help means so much to us at this time and will aid in my full and speedy recovery. Thank you for sharing in my healing. Now that you have read this, the healing has already begun!”

Several people emailed me right back with their messages of hope and loving support. The rest I felt in my heart. On surgery eve, I was awash in the positive energies and expressions of love generated by the prayer circle; bliss in full measure took over my being. It was palpable. Linda felt it too. I had invoked the healing interplay between body, mind and spirit and wept at the sheer perfection of its unfolding. I was ready for the repairs!

 There was nothing virtual about it. The reality of love and friendship, expressed with singular intent across many miles from many sources, converged in me. This aura of love carried me through the surgery, the immediate recovery and onto the ward where I spent four days. I basked in the afterglow of this healing intent, aware of how it was fueling my recovery, abetting the natural regenerative abilities of my body and lifting me when I felt some post-operative depression.

This outpouring of loving support manifested in other ways. It helped me sustain a positive attitude during my hospital stay. The people who noticed this immediately were those angels of mercy, the nurses. They’d seen people deal with this same situation in all manner of ways, some more successful than others.  Maybe it was my spiritual preparedness or the intangible support that I brought with me; whatever it was, the nurses and staff recognized something extra was happening.

Looking back on this I now realize what was happening: the ‘virtual’ was being made real in the world. The prayers and loving intent that I asked for ‘virtually’ online became my reality. While the computer tool made the virtual prayer circle possible, it was the spirit and expression of our loving first nature that made it real in the world. I was living those special conditions.

And what was my responsibility? The answer came to me with such brash certainty I could not ignore it. It made perfect sense. The only way I could repay my family and friends for their limitless sharing of love was to recover fully, completely. It would answer their prayers. It was the exchange the special conditions demanded.

In the six weeks after the surgery, my recovery was nothing short of remarkable. My heart, with its new stamina, allowed me the increasing exercise I needed, the flesh and bone healed with little scarring and no infection. An unexpected benefit of the procedure was increased creativity. Suddenly I had all this extra blood flowing to my brain causing fresh new ideas to spew out of me. For a writer that’s almost a miracle! One of the risks of heart bypass surgery is cognitive decline. For the exact opposite to happen is an unexpected bonus.

The fact is, love lives large in the world and, when focused, produces amazing results! The love shared by my family and friends merged with Linda’s unconditional love and devotion resulting in a perfect healing environment for body, mind and spirit. Nothing virtual about it.

Read an earlier post about my heart surgery.


Filed under BEAUTY, Family, Hope, Linda, Love, Momentous Day, Spirit

Sordid Amok (because we’re all just kids in a closet)

Reid Dickie

After an exhaustive, year-long dig working under harsh and inhospitable conditions, a crew of experienced archies has unearthed something rare. Resurrected and dusted for carbon dating, this video relic from the distant past resonates even today in our post-communicative world. 

Decades ago, in the pre-digital Dark Age, Linda and I created a strange but topical promo video for a new fashion trend called Sordid Amok. With the help of several brave friends, we demonstrated the absolute relevance of Sordid Amok, which involves some skin, many forms of plastic, giant crocheted ice cream treats and plenty of office supplies.

As Linda tells you in the script, Sordid Amok shows you “new ways to create envy, infiltrate envy, thwart envy, develop rage, soothe rage” and just in time. Sordid Amok will help you get through life’s “wilderness of mirrors.”  

Since there still are people walking around committing crimes of fashion with no dash in last year’s brown, Sordid Amok’s time has come. “I want a hat with cherries!” Click on any picture to play the short video.

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Filed under Art Actions, BEAUTY, DickToolery, Humour, Linda, video art

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


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

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”


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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