Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Widow's Endorphins: Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring!

Widow's Endorphins: Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring!: Hello Spring!  We've been waiting for you!  You haven't changed a bit - still the same fresh face of my youth and childhood.  ...

Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring!

Hello Spring!  We've been waiting for you!  You haven't changed a bit - still the same fresh face of my youth and childhood. 

Winter's dark, cold days have been replaced here in Toronto, with bright, cold days.  I stepped out into the streets yesterday, with only a light trenchcoat and beret.  Look Ma, no gloves!  It was a few degrees above freezing, yet felt so balmy.

While Vancouverites and Victorians post lovely pictures of crocuses, daffodils and cherry blossoms making their appearance in Canadian Westcoast gardens this month, our melted snow has revealed only discarded cigarette butts and candy wrappers.

Our flower shops, and grocery stores are bursting with every shade of pink, lavender, and yellow.  Buckets of tulips and ranunuculus crowd flower shop sidewalks, like a greeting party.  I picked up a bouquet of ranunculus, and combined them with tulips a dear friend had given me on the weekend. 

It was late afternoon before I started photographing them.  As clouds rolled across the sun, the light in one of the back bedrooms would change from bright, to soft, creating light and shadows.  Nature was directing the blog theme:  goodbye, Winter, hello, Spring!       

 Photographs Copyright of:  Ruth Adams, Widow's Endorphins Photographic Images Incorporated.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Widow's Endorphins: Sombre St. Patrick's Day

Widow's Endorphins: Sombre St. Patrick's Day: Bloody Sunday.  It was more than 47 years ago.  On that infamous day in January 1972, a civil rights march through the streets of Derr...

Sombre St. Patrick's Day

Bloody Sunday.  It was more than 47 years ago.  On that infamous day in January 1972, a civil rights march through the streets of Derry, Northern Ireland, ended in the deaths of 13 unarmed civilians (a fourteeth person died a few months later).  In the decades which followed, more than 35-hundred people died in Ireland's "troubles".  That long ago Sunday weighs heavily on the hearts of victims' families this St. Patrick's Day, because the old wounds were opened wide this week. 

On March 14th, nearly half a century after a tribunal exonerated the 18 soldiers - and led to a quarter billion dollar, 12 year full public inquiry, which blamed the army - Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service announced it would be charging only one anonymous soldier, Soldier F.  

Lance Corporal Soldier F., was with the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment.  The Prosecution Service says the former paratrooper, a grandfather in his 70s, will be charged with the murder of two men, and the attempted murder of four others.  There is insufficient evidence to persue a "beyond a reasonable doubt" conviction against the other 18 soldiers (one has since died) and two Official Irish Republican Army (IRA) gunmen involved the killings that day. 

There had been riots.  Derry's working class Catholic Bogside and Creggan districts were behind barricades.  Rival IRA factions  - the Official IRA and the Provisional IRA - shot British soldiers patrolling the streets, killing ten soldiers.  Six civilians were killed.  

Lt. Colonel Derek Wilford's paratroopers had been sent into Derry to crack down on rock throwing rioters, the  "Derry Young Hooligans" (DYH).  Wilford raged that his paratroopers would not stand around like "Aunt Sallys" in the face of the hooligans - "ever".  The head of the army in Northern Ireland, General Robert Ford, had written a memorandum to his superior which basically said the only way to quell the riots was to warn them, then shoot to kill the DYH ringleaders.

The march, organized by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, was in protest over internment without trial, which had been going on for a year and a half.  Although political demonstrations were banned, fifteen thousand people showed up for the march that Sunday, only to have the army prevent them from marching into the centre of Derry.

Although the Royal Ulster Constabulary says it wanted to let the marchers pass by, so that they could be photographed and arrested later, the army, under General Ford wanted to scoop up the hooligans, and arrest them in their tracks.  

Some youths threw stones.  The army responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.  Under strict orders not to send his men onto residential Rossville Street, Col. Wilford ordered his troops to chase the marchers down Rossville, in armoured vehicles.

Shots were fired.  The twelve year long Saville Inquiry, which heard from two thousand witnesses, and reviewed 125-thousand pages of documents, says the paras fired first.  One soldier told the inquiry that the night before Bloody Sunday, they had been told to, "get some kills".

It was carnage.  Nearly all those killed were young men.

Soldier F, whose name is Dave (fellow soldiers called out his name), may be in court within a few months for a preliminary hearing.  The Prosecution Service says that, "A court would not permit the prosecution to rely upon the majority of the previous accounts provided by the soldiers as evidence against them in a criminal trial.  This is because of the circumstances inwhich they were obtained (often by military authorities without a caution being administered)".  

John Kelly, whose 17 year old brother Michael was killed on Rossville Street, was one of the family members disappointed with this week's news that only one soldier will be brought to trial.  He says, "We have walked a long journey since our fathers and brothers were brutally slaughtered on the streets of Derry on Bloody Sunday.  Over that passage of time, all of the parents of the deceased have died - we are here to take their place.  The Bloody Sunday families are not finished yet."

Photographs Copyright of:  Ruth Adams, Widow's Endorphins Photographic Images Incorporated.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Widow's Endorphins: Mardi Gras: Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Widow's Endorphins: Mardi Gras: Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!: Laissez les bon temps rouler!  That's French for let the good times's Mardi Gras!  Which is French for Fat Tuesday, ...

Mardi Gras: Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!  That's French for let the good times's Mardi Gras!  Which is French for Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.  Which is the beginning of the forty days and forty nights of Lent.  Which is a time of penance, self denial, self discipline and repentance in the days leading up to Easter.  If you were going to give up chocolate, wine and even sex from now until Easter, wouldn't you have a big all-day-all-night party the day before?

Mardi Gras is celebrated in Catholic communities all over the world, yet, only two cities are synonymous with the festival: New Orleans in the USA, and Brazil's Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.  I can hear my Italian friends saying, "what about Venice, Italy?  It's been celebrating Mardi Gras off and on since 1162, when Venetians gathered in victory dances against the Patriarch of Venice!"  Venice is famous for it's spooky, elaborate masks...but it doesn't have the passion and rhythm of the two New World cities.  Vivaldi is lovely for a wedding, not the bachelor party!

From the pancakes and beignets Tuesday morning, 'til the last drop of bourbon and champagne early the next morning, the people of New Orleans eat, drink, and make merry in the streets of their city.  The food and music have a French and Creole influence, heard in the Cajun fiddles, Zydeco accordions, and the horns and drums of brass bands.

Portuguese-speaking Rio dances to a different beat: the Samba.  Samba's roots are found in West Africa's Angloa and Congo regions.  All year long, Rio's dozen samba schools create, choreograph, compose and rehearse for the big Carnival samba competition - called the "biggest attraction on Earth".  Once a theme is announced, musicians, dancers, costume designers, float designers work together to create the best dance parade.  The floats are three storeys high.  Nearly nude dancers are adorned in vibrantly coloured feathers, sequins, feathers, silk, feathers, satin...and feathers.

New Orleans is more of a free for all, with jubilant neighbourhood parades, including the "Indian Nation" gangs dancing through the streets of the city, the Chiefs wearing enormous feathered headdresses.  A popular '50s song, Jock-A-Mo by James "Sugar Boy" Crawford, tells of the tribes running into each other at intersections.  They'd call out, "Jock-a-mo fee na na", and "Iko, Iko".  The Dixie Cups' cover is Iko, Iko.

The Blacks in New Orleans formed the Indian Nation gangs about 120 years ago, as a tribute to the Indigenous people of the region who gave pre-Civil War runaway slaves safe refuge.  They also parade on St. Patrick's Day.

Louisiana was refuge to white runaways too.  In 1755, the English expelled the Acadians from what is now Nova Scotia, Canada...burning down their homes to drive them from their land.  The Acadians had come to Canada, from France, and in 1605, established the first permanent European settlement in the New World.  They were French, and would not swear an oath of allegiance to the King of England.  So, the great exodus began. 

The Acadians, mispronounced as Cajuns, fled to Louisiana.  The Cajuns brought their fiddle music with them, and for the next 150 years, shared music with African American freed slaves, and Creole Haitians who had fled Haiti.  The Cajun Creole sound was born.  They used whatever instruments would create a beat, including washboards and spoons.  Around the late 1800s, the accordion was brought in, almost drowning out the fiddle.  Listening to Cajun music, I hear the sounds of Quebec kitchen parties in my Grandparents' home...Metis friends will hear the same sounds. 

In recent times, Creoles dropped the fiddle, and left it with the Cajuns.  The accordion became the dominant instrument.  Clifton Chenier coined the word Zydeco, to describe the accordion "swamp blues" cajun music he made famous in the late '50s.  Chenier, known as the King of Zydeco, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

Today, Cajun is a little more Country, and Zydeco is a little more Rock 'n' Roll.  Those sounds, along with Jazz, and Blues are heard spilling out of bars, onto the street corners where brass bands are playing. It's the rich fusion of all these sounds that makes New Orleans music great.

Don't make this just another day at the office...Here's a playlist of music that will get you in the Mardi Gras spirit, and let the good times roll:

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - Olympia Brass Band
Big Chief - Professor Longhair
I'm Comin' Home - Clifton Chenier
You Used to Call Me - Clifton Chenier
Beast of Burden - Buckwheat Zydeco
Let the Good Times Roll - Buckwheat Zydeco
Josephine Par Se Ma Femme - Clifton Chenier
Mardi Gras Blues - Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers
La Vielle Chanson de Mardi Gras - Cedric Watson
Jock-A-Mo - James "Sugar Boy" Crawford
Iko, Iko - The Dixie Cups
Ballin' on Zydeco - Lil Nathan
Blue Moon Special - Lost Bayou Ramblers
Twistin' the Night Away - Marc Broussard
The Girl From Ipanema - Antonio Carlos Jobim
Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars) - Antonio Carlos Jobim
Mas Que Nada - Sergio Mendes
A Batucada dos Nossos Tantas - Fundo de Quintal
Aquarela do Brasil - Gal Costa
A Voz do Morro - Ze Keti
Alma Boemia - Toninho Geraes
Samba Pa Ti - Carlos Santana

Photographs Copyright of:  Ruth Adams, Widow's Endorphins Photographic Images Incorporated.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Widow's Endorphins: March 4th

Widow's Endorphins: March 4th: March 4th is the only day of the year, that when spoken aloud in English, is a declaration of intention to go forward.  March forth!  ...