UPCOMING GIGS

  • Sun.May5, 2019 Hugh's Room, Toronto
  • Sat.April 6, 2019 The Old Mill, Toronto
  • 15 marzo 2019, el gallo restaurant, san pancho, mexico
  • Feb. 26, 2019 Relish Bar/Grill, Toronto
  • Jan.23,2019 Nice Bistro, Whitby
  • Sept.29,'18 12:30-3:30pm; Glass Eagle Studio, Haliburton
  • Sept.19, 2018 Private Function, Toronto
  • July 27&28, Haliburton Arts&Crafts2-4pm
  • June 6, 2018 The Nice Bistro, Whitby, ON
  • Feb.23,2018 San Pancho Music Festival, Mexico
  • Jan.20,2018 The Old Mill Toronto, Home Smith Bar
  • Sept.30,2017 All That Jazz & More, at the Minden Legion
  • Aug. 5, 2017 Private Party, Carnarvon, ON
  • Aug. 4, 2017 Music by the Gull, Minden, ON
  • Aug. 2, 2017 The Nice Bistro, Whitby ON
  • May 17, 2017 The Nice Bistro, Whitby, ON
  • April 29, 2017 Minden Cultural Centre, Minden, ON
  • March 24,2017 The Old Mill Toronto, Home Smith Bar
  • Feb.26,2017 San Pancho Music Fest. Mexico
  • Nov.5, 2016 Radio Hall, CanoeFM, Haliburton, ON
  • Nov. 2, 2016 le Nice Bistro, Whitby, ON
  • Sept. 4, 2016 The Red Umbrella Inn, Minden, ON
  • July 26, 2016, Head Lake Park, Haliburton, ON
  • Jan. 29, 2016, The Home Smith Bar at the Old Mill, Toronto
  • Oct.23, 2015 Gate 403
  • Sept. 9 The Nice Bistro, Whitby, ON
  • August 22, Gate 403, Toronto
  • August 14, Music by the Gull, Minden, ON
  • July 29 Hugh's Room, Toronto
  • June 13, Gate 403,Toronto

Thursday, May 16, 2019

MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE


all the womens for the finale
Cathy Salvatori, drums
Dawn Duvall, vocalist & flautist
Julian Yarrow, piano

Paul McKeracher, guitar









Rachel Melas, bass

Tabby Johnson, vocalist; with Zoe

Lucy Lehman, vocalist
Carolynn Coburn, MC

Cue Kirk, poet

Kim Doolittle, vocalist
Zoe, finale

John Sheard, piano




Monday, May 6, 2019
It's a little hard today to make that kind of joy; it's been raining all day today and yesterday, and is going to continue. I'm cold, since my house was empty and unheated last night while I stayed elsewhere to be closer to the hospital appointment at 9am the next day. I sat around in the hospital giving blood and waiting to see doctors, losing the whole morning, - a depressing way to spend even a good day, let alone one which already was high on the depression scale.
I find myself in a BAD MOOD.
Time for that delicious homemade soup that a friend brought over for me, along with her corn bread too. Such good and generous people in my life.

And I'm so lucky to have had in my life the wonderful experience of having an idea for a show, then working on it for over a year, then see it come to fruition last Sunday evening, May 5, with the most fantastic group of musicians, vocalists, and one entrancing poet - all performing songs and their messages that I have written over the years. They did it with great verve and personality and talent that made the whole place (a full house at Hugh's Room) go crazy with approval, love, and yes, joy.
The words of whatever quote I'm quoting from a new or old testament, or famous religious hymn - certainly came to life. The happiness was palpable, and I consider myself privileged to have worked with these artists. I got a very good group. And a very good result. And a very impressive amount of funds raised for the beneficiary of the concert: Sistering, a group that helps women in Toronto.
Altogether, a successful venture.

So much so that the next morning, when I was sitting in the very depressing blood clinic at Princess Margaret, with a crowd of shuffling and coughing, masked strangers, I was able to go back a few hours in my head, and recall the night before, so that I could blot out my surroundings, and smile gratefully at the memory of the night before.

Today, the hospital having drawn my blood once more, I too draw again, but on that night's memory.

Make a joyful noise, indeed. They all did, performers and audience, and my heart, which is still reeling from the experience, it's noisily joyful. As the song says: "They Can't Take That Away From Me". It will triumph over many a depressing scenario, just because it happened, and I was there. Another week later, it's still working its magic.


Saturday, May 4, 2019

A RASH MOVE


I lie and wait, rain dripping from the window ledge of my seventeenth floor penthouse room, saline solution drip-dripping into my body. Overnight the clouds have set in; the shadows of the city's tall buildings soft in the grey vista surrounding the hospital this morning, the distant condos and office towers invisible in the mist.
I lie and wait; I ponder my fate; I'm late, I'm late.
I want to go home.
They are friendly, efficient, and very thorough here at Princess Margaret Hospital. They admitted me yesterday for the night; they grilled me about all my functions and reactions; they did another small biopsy; they had me pose for nude photos of my whole body, and then studied my rash endlessly to eliminate the one very evil and very dangerous type that could herald death.
Later that evening, my son came over to visit just before sunset, and we had a real photo-shoot in this, my private dorm in the sky, silhouetted against the city backdrop, and with specular highlights to boot. One shot of me, - hand on heart - praying perhaps, for a good outcome to this hurdle.
My rash is probably benign, - as much as an arrabbiata (anger is more forceful when it's Italian) and flaming mass of red spots can be benign - and I'm hoping, now that it's morning, and everyone has seen me and decided there's no imminent danger, that they will give me a cortisone cream and discharge me. Perhaps this erupting skin is a late reaction to the chemo, or just myself all awash in nerves, anticipating my upcoming show on Sunday.
Or it could be me dreading the next round of chemo, and subconsciously creating a delay: "We'll head 'em off at the pass, Red; you cover me while I get away." Didn't work, though. Chemical infusion Tuesday, as scheduled. No rash changes. It's enough to curl your hair, if I have any left in the next few weeks.












Thursday, April 25, 2019

MY OWN EVENING NEWS



So you know how you turn on the six o'clock news once in a while, then turn it right off after 'headline' stories? - the latest murders, or idiot politicians, or world disasters? Personally, I'd rather focus elsewhere - walk, or sing, or read a good book.
But having been hit by my own evening news - i.e. cancer whacking, punching, and kicking me like a mean school bully - it's harder to turn off. Some mornings, the dread is there as soon as I awaken - a weight that sits on your head and heart, saying your life will never be the same again; in fact, may soon be over. I weep for the loss, and then move on.
It takes a very concerted 'focus elsewhere' to make my mind walk, sing or write a good book, and change the structure of my brain. Fortunately, I sing out loud in the real, outside world, which is a healing experience, but I also have had forty years of being a massage therapist, so on the mornings that the dread doesn't totally debilitate me, I know how to mentally massage myself; to go into that part of my brain and brain waves that are associated with healing, and to use that energy to focus on a specific body part.
I do this in the hope that I will shrink the wayward and out-of-control cells that somehow are currently active in me. Does it work? Don't know, but it makes me feel better, helps me to think that I still have some control, and just generally reminds me of what is important in the life: i.e. love, an intention to help, an openness to wisdom and knowledge that is available subconsciously, and an awareness that while I don't know a lot, I can be a conduit for good if I simply allow it.
So in this evening of my life (I'm not old enough for the late-night-before-the-final-big-sleep-bedtime news yet). I say, "Begone, cancer - get thee out of me!". And I've taken to my own personal "Go Shrink Me" campaign, which is to ask everyone I know not to waste energy feeling bad for me, but to spend a few seconds daily thinking of my bad baby belly and shrinking-to-elimination that demon child, which strangely, I might have foreseen in a poem, "Bad Babies" I wrote back in 1988:

BAD BABIES
So yesterday morning I woke up,
Curled on my side, as I often am,
And my eyes, when I opened them,
Beheld a strange sight.
There, between my thighs,
Was the beatific and sleeping face of a babe.
"My God!" I said, "I have given birth in the night".
I wondered if it was alright, with only its head out,
And quickly gathered it up.
I thought about the cord, and how you cut it -
I didn't really know, but I remembered all the
Natural births I'd wanted and thought: "Oh yes,
I'll just lay her on my chest. Everything is fine."
And it was.
Except for some things I noticed later,
When I held her in my arms:
She was sucking her own thumb, and continuing in her blissful sleep.
"What's wrong?" I wondered, "Doesn't she even know enough
To want her mother's breast?"
She looked a little too self-sufficient.
I worried that she was not normally needy.
And then, there were her legs: lumpy and toady -
Covered with spots and warts;
And the black hair, that was so black, and yet,
Red too.
Long and straight and fringing the underside of her chin.
A voice murmured: "A demon child."
"Oh really," I thought, "she's so cute."
And still, I had to admit, devil babies probably were cute -
They had to start somewhere.
What to do?
The others - (I'd had three other babies,
All normal, all born that night), -
Would be enough; I could toss this one -
Even the Christians would approve of that.
The problem was: I liked her.
She was cute, hair and warts notwithstanding.
And with the loving upbringing I intended,
Would prove the silly superstitions wrong.
She couldn't really be a demon, could she?

************************
When I looked up "Bad Babies" I found this, written twenty years later, in 2008, on the day my momma died;  Today is her birthday.   no title:

Huge white panther at my side
Like a baby; fearless hide
Belly-up, inviting strokes;
And a smile that invokes
All her regal, massive power -
Set aside while we have our
Intimacy - public now -
And our comfort, showing how
Her prodigious size and strength
Would keep me safe should she
Unleash it all.
                                      
************************************
Long story short: I may die sooner rather than later, but today - at least before more chemo comes, -
BESAME MUCHO

ME, AGE ONE

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN
I still say, like the song, "I'm gonna live 'til I die."

Friday, April 19, 2019

PEOPLE GET READY, THERE'S A TRAIN A-COMIN'



I wish.
One of the side-effects of chemotherapy is constipation. Not a pleasant topic, or situation.
Hey, that rhymes; I could write a song....
But no, I'll confine my creative output to this blog, and hope my body output gets moved to move too.
My sister from Calgary just phoned to check in and make sure the chemo didn't "knock the poop out of me", but I told her "Oh, would that it had!"

I will sit here in the bathroom, computer on my lap, phone by my side, foot roller running back and forth over those large intestine meridians, until I get some results.
And meanwhile, the photo below might amuse, or turn you off, but one must have a sense of humour, mustn't one?
A few years back, I was getting ready for a gig up in Minden, and I and my granddaughter, staying with me at the time, and put to work later on the door for the performance, were just goofin' around with fake poo fotos, which made us giggle a lot. Personally, I am easily amused.
Except right now, as the Queen says, we are not.
******************************************************
The chocolate choo-choo never came by, so after a valiant three hours, and a few phone calls and projects and books from the throne, I gave up. But they had put the fear of God into me at the Princess Margaret Hospital, saying that if nothing moves for two days, then the danger of a bowel obstruction looms.
Since that time had passed, I phoned the doctors there, and they told me I should go to Toronto General Emergency and make sure the obstruction was not happening.
Downtown hospital. Last day before a long weekend. A few loony guys and an endless parade of other people in varying stages of discomfort and pain, most of whom were seen ahead of me. Then  eight hours later, at 1AM, I am pronounced obstruction-free, just full of shit. Oh, and cancer.

Looks like a big jobbie for for SuperZoe.  I will be stepping up to be boss lady.
What a day this has been! What a rare mood I'm in! Why, it's almost like being in love.

The love goes to my son, who has been ferrying me around the city through these last few weeks, and now tonight into the wee hours. Thank you, figlio mio.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

I JUST HAD TO SING

That's the title of one of the songs for my new, upcoming CD, and it's true. I just have to sing, every day, because that is what always frees me from the madding crowd, and it's what inspires me, and makes me feel good, better, and best.
So I will keep on singing....Here are the words to the song I referenced in my last post:

LIVING FREE

Standing in the front end of a fast boat;
Skimming waves atop the big blue sea;
All the things I see out on the shore line
They don't mean a single thing to me.

Speeding over miles in just a moment;
Only thing that's real to me is now;
Where I've been and all the years that I've spent
Blowing in the wind and past this bow.

This is how I live out on the ocean;
Where problems of the world just disappear.
Where slicing through the air is all that I know,
And I have left behind me every tear.

Standing proud and tall and looking forward;
Opening my arms to what will be;
No more chasing after what the world says;
Life is sun and wind and a blue sea.
I see it in my mind and I am free.


san pancho, 7 marzo, 2019

can't remember chords.







Tuesday, April 16, 2019

RIDDLE ME THIS

I've meant to write more here, but time is just not around my life any more. So many visits to the hospital and it's a lousy way to lose your life's little allotment. I started this maybe two weeks ago:

Nobody wore German health shoes back in the 60's, did they? Or ate whole wheat bread? Or rode their bike everywhere. But I did. And I still ride, still eat only good stuff, still refuse to destroy my feet or back with bad shoes. I also swim, walk, do yoga-type exercises, take time to smell the roses and appreciate life, have good friends, etc. etc. etc.
And yet, if the genes don't fit, or perhaps if they fit too well, then you are fucked. and if the shoes fit, well, you wear them.
Got the damn bad genes, I guess, and so now, here I am, riddled with cancer.
Quelle horreur. And it's not funny. However, I think about my favourite Monty Python skit and say:
"It's only a flesh wound!!!", and get into fighting stance.
**************************
Today's precis April 16, 2019 9:30AM :
I am Orange 22 - the chemo colour unit and chair number. I feel like Dead Woman Walking, on her way to the electric chair. I sit in 22 and listen to more of the endless blather. Oh, they are all professional, friendly, and very helpful, but this is a crap hand in a crap deal, and I find myself thinking "I hate you, God" - a blasphemy that could send me to my afterlife hell, but right now I don't care. I only hope that my higher, healing self, which always took over when I was doing massage therapy for the last forty years, and which let come to life a person and awareness very different from the self I had come to know in "normal" life. Just hope the higher me takes over this process while I go away and sulk.

It's so depressing. I want to cry, but that would only depress me more. I had planned many chores to get done during this brutally boring day, but now I just want to shut the door to everything. Bad attitude, I reckon, but "to thine own self be true".
I expected, - and still do expect, - more, and better, from life.

I was part of the entertainment at this hospital a few years ago - appeared here three or four times for patients and families condemned to this health sentence. I'm not singing now; this experience is the opposite of the life-affirming privilege I have enjoyed as a musician and performer. How quickly things can change.

KABOOM!

I did sing a bit this morning at home, when I found a tune I'd written about a month ago in Mexico - before the sounding of the death knell. It is called "Living Free", and when I think of it, I can return mentally to the beach where I was when I composed it, watching a boat skim over top the waves of the ocean, someone standing forward in the prow. I can feel the good air rushing past me when I become that boat person; I can see the shore line - even see myself standing there watching. I see the world, which the songwriter me says I'm happy to leave behind. Little did I know then that I just might have to do that. Ah, well, having a child was good; doing massage was good; my lovers - even the ones who couldn't really be there for me - they were good. And then the music. That was the night's "lovely tune". Beware, my foolish heart.

Maybe I'll listen to my own yet-to-be-released CD. I just have to wait for my sister to get here with my bag. If it's ready for manufacturing soon, I hope to celebrate its birth. If it's posthumous, then I hope everyone else celebrates it well.
Yesterday, after buying some drugs the hospital prescribed for me, I saw a Lucky Money envelope lying on the sidewalk. I know them from many years ago, when I was teaching and living in Kensington Market. They usually had a $2. bill in them for the Chinese New Year. Yesterday's envelope, when I picked it up, had a $20. in it. Lucky me, eh? Just full of luck - and now, poison drugs.

3:30PM Well, to be honest, and except for a period of time when I felt like one of the Parkdale rubbies - drunk and leaning over too much, and slurring everything I said (Wuuuuh th' heh's goin' on, ennyway, eh? Hey!! yur priddy cute, y'know? Oh oh, sorry, sorry, maaam. Don' min' mee, I'm juhsanoldrunk! Yaaaaaah. Hevva niyz day, eh?). Except for that interlude, I felt OK, - tired, but much better than I had thought would feel. It helped a lot to have sister Lucy for aid and for company, and the nurses were very helpful. I could almost say I didn't feel a damn thing. But I was pre-drugged. We'll see later, when they wear off, how I fare.
Showed a couple of the nurses the page for my benefit concert on May 5. Gotta keep on advertising...
The show must go on.   zoechilcoeveryvoice.blogspot.com   hughsroomlive.com (calendar May 5).
Got to my son's house where my daughter-in-law made a lovely soup and bread for dinner. Thank you, Morgan. Chris came home, and we had a little visit. 
And now to bed. It might be a long cold winter coming up.


The tired old lady with the bad bad baby belly, getting the poison drip

The tired old lady later that night

The relatively youngish girl last July speaking prematurely but accurately expressing the future events, and saying WTF?
but still wearing the t-shirt that says "Gracias a la vida", which means "Thanks to Life".


Friday, March 29, 2019

A BLESSED EVENT


Came home from Mexico Thursday evening, March 21, 2019. Friday morning called the doctor, made an appointment for 2:30pm. Doctor saw my condition, and made an appointment for an ultrasound at Women's College Hospital. By 3:30 I had it, and that test resulted in a recommendation for a CT scan, also done that day. I got home from my 2:30 appointment at about 8:30pm
The weekend meant waiting, plus an art show and good friend making me dinner, but Monday I had blood tests, which, when passed on, resulted in an appointment at the cancer hospital on Wednesday, where six years ago I sang a few times to entertain patients and family members. 
Little ironies of life.

There I learned all about the horror show that had so suddenly become my life, although in truth the strangeness in my belly, which I experienced as deadness, and disconnectedness, had been ongoing, when I figured it out, for a couple of years, It did not become so apparently wrong until the week before I returned to Toronto. At that point, i knew I had to consult the doctor.
My son accompanied me, thank God, and thank him, to the cancer centre. Everyone was very nice and very helpful and very efficient, but that night I couldn't sleep. I tried to make my head spin even faster, on purpose, to centrifuge my thoughts out of my brain, but it was pretty useless. My brain is, always has been, too fast for me, and one giant step ahead, usually with negativity.

I had gone through some old diaries, thinking to throw them out, and spare the world after my looming death. I don't know if it was their contents that had disturbed my peace of mind to the point of no sleep, but it was shocking and utterly distressing to read them, - and I read only a page here and there, out of a mountain of notebooks - to see the vile and all-consuming self-hate that I lived with for so many years. It was shocking and saddening. I lived and functioned, I guess, on a certain level, but inside, I was absolutely trapped and alone. I had no one with whom I could share my feelings - I never had, all the years I had been growing up; I never knew anything else but to suffer and keep it to myself. The pages are awful - bleak and black, and relentless in self-criticism, doubt, and guilt over everything I thought and did. I feel such sorrow for the person I was, and also such a loss for the wasted years.
Fortunately, my life did change at some point, although not in a real discernible way for a number of years. I mean, I didn't stop my endless diatribes and insane spirals for a long time, although outwardly, I did find people and activities that slowly reduced and finally eliminated my habits of being lost within my own head, with no one to talk to.
Therapy, once past the stupid and abusive therapist sleeping with me, then massage therapy, for and later, by me, then music. They made the difference. But friends gave me the most, once I learned to open up a bit, and they helped me to let myself out and let other parts of me live, besides the child trapped in the evil grasp of whatever demon I had absorbed. It's embarrassing now to see what I was.

Likewise humbling. I am not always happy now, no one is all the time, but I have had a lot of joy, and opportunities to express myself and to be creative. I sought out those things, I guess, in my blind way, screaming and repeating my misery over and over again; writing, scribbling thoughts and poems that had no hope or light, but which somehow helped me throw off, if only temporarily, the emotions that were destroying me. Recording all my dreams, looking for guidance.

  I don't know, now, how I survived, and I feel ashamed of my pathetic and desperate beginnings.
But I did survive, and feel like I must now express gratitude to all the people or chance encounters, or perhaps the changing times, maybe even some stupid sitcoms on TV, that somehow taught me. I especially am grateful for music. I was lifted out of the mire, mire maybe of my own confused making, but I had never been taught otherwise, and I don't care any more. I was lifted out, I survived, I did change somehow.
And now I'm pregnant with death, - sat, or laid down, on a conveyor belt of unknown destination. I probably have cancer; it's not been confirmed, but the fast-tracking of all my appointments has been ominous; preparatory for the worst.

The irony of it all: girl overcomes cancer of the spirit, and succumbs to the destiny of the failing body. Maybe that was the lesson of this life. Maybe it's precisely as ordained. Job done.