It was Mardi Gras, February 12, 1991. We’d gone on a “date” to Stanroy’s Music in Santa Rosa. We then wended our way back to my pad, an old farmhouse in Penngrove, California. The house was on what had once been a chicken ranch during Sonoma County’s egg production heydays in the 1920s. The living room had high ceilings, windows that faced the horse pasture in the front, oak trees on the side. The fireplace was smokey because of a poorly functioning insert. The couch was rust colored and modular — a hand me down from my oldest sister.

We had started hanging out after the Winter Solstice, talking, watching movies together, taking drives, more talking. We were falling in love but, having both had been married before, we were taking it slow, very slow.

This night, 27 years ago, after more talking and pots and pots of herbal tea, I saw bands of light reaching out from our hearts pouring into each other. We kissed and …

Of course, I wrote a song about it:

People gathered at Place des Arts in downtown Montreal on this brisk Saturday midday, in solidarity with worldwide demonstrations for the rights of women and equality for all.

I wanted to add my body and pink pussy hat to the event so I hopped on the metro and made the short 25 minute trip. I captured these few shots of the participants.

In Canada, equality between women and men is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights, unlike the US, which has yet to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Canada is not perfect — the pay gap is still wide and women are under-represented in politics,for example — but the the government is committed to creating gender equality.

It is hard to believe that in the 21st century, those of us with a vagina are still fighting for basic human rights.

While walking home today, I had the chance to enjoy, and video, a complete snow removal operation on a sunny stretch of Boulevard Saint-Michel.

What can I say? These big machines and their coordinated moves are fascinating.

I had fun putting together this short video, underscoring it with one of our tunes: “Drunken Sailor’s Hornipe – Wally’s Dub” from our album “Shake Those Bones”.

The statistics quoted are from the official City of Montreal website:
English: http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/snowremoval/
Français: http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/deneigement/

Around we go again. Here’s hoping that 2018 moves us forwards as a species — more compassion, more critical thinking, more action, less talk, less religion. A gal can dream.

Gary and I send out a New Year’s greeting to family and friends every year with a light-hearted selfie. When putting together this year’s greeting, I got to wondering how many times have we have done that. Looks like, we’ve been at it for 17 years – 2002-2018. Oh my. So, for fun I put together a super short video to share those seventeen seasonal selfies. (Who says to avoid alliteration?)

In Quebec, one can use the word selfie — everyone knows what that is — but the “official” word is un égoportrait.

The tune underscoring the video is “L’Amour Persiste” from our latest album “Naked Ladies“.

Gary and I gathered with 2,000+ others today at L’Esplanade de la Place des Arts, Montréal to support the worldwide Women’s March. It was a “moderate” winter’s day here in Quebec at 1° celsius. The crowd’s was energized.

The battle for women’s rights continues. It is unbelievable and maddening that even now in the 21st century we are still fighting for basic human rights. Today’s amazing display by millions of people everywhere was encouraging. It tells me we are all so not interested in going backwards.

Onward, Pussy Cats!

Early estimates:
Washington D.C. over 500,000
Los Angeles over 500,000
Denver over 100,000
New York over 200,000
Chicago over 200,000
Boston over 100,000
Paris over 5,000
Sydney over 5,000

We had a nice, big snowfall yesterday — close to 8 inches.

Gary usually walks to meet me after I finish exercise class. It’s a 4k (2.50 mile) round-trip walk. For this “Montreal Minute” I followed him through our “arrondissement” as we headed home through the snow.

It is a pleasure to walk when it’s snowing as long as you have the right clothes and shoes!

The music is a synth piece I wrote for a Mixed Company show. The show was “Mixed Reviews”. The tune title is “Star Material”.

Other MTL Minutes:
MTL Minute: le Métro
Les Tams Tams at Parc Mont-Royal
First Snowfall of the Season
A Steel Forge in Montreal

I have very few photos of my mother when she was young and even fewer of my father.

This photo dates from Christmas time 1947.

In the photo, I see a good-looking couple dressed in holiday best. He is tall in a double-breasted navy blue suit with a snappy geometric patterned tie, highly polished black shows. His hair is parted and in place with hair creme. He sports a tidy moustache. He is relaxed and has his arm wrapped around his wife, his wedding ring just visible. She is wearing a brown, possibly silk dress, camellia corsage near her left shoulder, fancy drop earrings, peep-toe sling back pumps. Her hair is medium length. Her make-up is understated, a touch of red lipstick. They are definitely styling. Both are looking at someone or something away from the camera.

Cal Leonard Martin had just turned 22 that October. Penny née Jean Marie Swanson was 21 and would turn 22 a few weeks later in January.

They seem so young but, in post-war, mid-20th century America, they were adults, parents starting a family. They had just had their first child, my older sister Mary in November. (Three years later I would be born, in five years my younger sister Nanci and in seven my youngest sister Kate.)

They were grown-ups on their own and on their way. Neither of them would have considered living with their parents as an option. Advanced education wasn’t on my mom’s radar. Back-packing around the world or taking a few years off to find himself would not have crossed my dad’s mind. He was a Marines Corp veteran having served in Korean War. Now he was a father and breadwinner.

I don’t know where this photo was taken. Certainly California, but was it near Salinas where my sister Mary was born? Or were they already in San Francisco where my dad would start his Radio & TV repair business (Day & Night Television) using the skills he had acquired in the Marines?

They look happy. I hope they were in love. I am sure they had plans for the future.

Neither of them knew at that moment that in 5 years Penny would contract polio in the 1952 epidemic and would spend weeks in an iron lung while she was pregnant. They didn’t know that she’d ultimately undergo an experimental surgery which transplanted muscles from her abdomen into her left leg so she could walk again, leaving her with a permanent 99 stitch scar and four artificial trusses criss-crossing her belly.

Neither of them knew that 7 years later in October 1954, only a month after their youngest daughter was born, Cal would be dead from a blow to the head incurred in a fight at Compton’s Café in the Tenderloin in San Francisco after hours. He and another drunk man would exchange verbal insults. Cal would be knocked down, hitting his head and be taken to SF General Hospital unconscious. There he’d fight for his life for three days, receiving three separate craniectomies (small holes drilled in skull) to try and stop the swelling in his cranium.

Neither of them knew that every holiday season after Cal’s death, Penny would sink into a dark alcohol-soaked state of mind, full of unspeakable sadness. They didn’t know that at Christmas time in 1959, after weeks of traveling with her daughters and mother in tow searching for some kind of better life, she’d try to commit suicide in Nice, France.

And neither of them knew that, finally, around Thanksgiving in November 1981 on Maui Hawaii, Penny’s liver would fail.

None of that future is visible in this photo of a young couple at Christmas time.

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