• June 10'20 Nice Bistro Whitby, ON
  • Apr.15'20 Princess M Hospital Atrium
  • Apr.11'20 HIRUT 2050 Danforth Toronto
  • Dec.14 '19 HIRUT 2050 Danforth Toronto
  • July 26 2019 Gull River, Minden ON
  • June 19, 2019 The Nice Bistro, Whitby
  • 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

Wednesday, September 25, 2019



I wrote this piece a number of years ago - can't remember exactly when, but it had to be before 2001, maybe earlier, because that's when I submitted it to "Dropped Threads", the anthology that Marjorie Anderson and Carol Shields were putting together - stories by women about things that we hadn't been told.
I had the following response in December, 2001:
"Your proposed topic, "Silence Around Sex", caught our interest because of its unique angle and your writing style. We invite you to send us a full piece of about 2000 words on this topic."
I sent it, and received later, date unknown, this critique from Anderson and Shields:
"An energetic, candid account that has an appealing freshness and honesty to it."

I didn't make the final cut for publication, and somehow forgot about the invitation to have it posted on the website for reader perusal, so the work has simply languished in my files ever since. But now!! Here it is for the world to discover and enjoy, much like myself in discovering "the bum beat".


My first orgasm arrived like a secret lover stealing into my bed in the night. Ten years old,
second daughter in a Catholic family of then six, later eight children, I lived in a naive and uncomplaining isolation. The business of life: ("Set the table; go outside to play; go to the store for me") formed the conversation in our home, not any personal small talk. Thoughts, wishes, dreams, ideas, fears, or even mundane recountings of the day's events were never communicated. There was no tendency to share, not even, it seemed, the memory of any interest. My private and closed world, my self and soul, were enclosed by regulations established in a pre-verbal order. I never questioned. I never rebelled. It goes without saying that sex was not discussed.
And so my sexual awakening was truly that. I awoke one morning with the sweet memory of a thitherto unknown sensation. And, in my unenlightened and inexperienced solitude, having no awareness of the existence of sexual organs, I reasoned that this enjoyable throbbing, which I found I could repeat endlessly by manipulating the general area of the toilet functions, must be connected with the bum. It's what I knew, in any case, so I called this satisfying pulse "the bum beat".

The bad thing about leaving children alone in their minds is that they grow up not knowing how to relate to others, living in subordination to ancient fears or flights of fancy, or to their own underdeveloped solutions to problems of survival which, out necessity, they created. The good thing is the autonomy which they then take for granted. Everything is organized according to this very comprehensive, albeit primitive perspective. No problems.
I set the bum beat to work like a new and delightful wind-up toy, keeping it to myself, as I had been taught to do with all feelings, but otherwise exploring, replaying anywhere, everywhere, and as often as I could. If left alone, I would prostrate myself if possible, but no matter what position my hands would fly to my crotch. In crowds I discovered that I could "do it" by simply crossing my legs and squeezing. I did this once on the sofa on a Sunday night when the whole family was lined up in a row on either side of me watching Ed Sullivan. Thanks, Ed. Or maybe thanks to whichever family supplied the sex genes. A Ward aunt, (my mother's maiden name) was seated immediately next to me, so perhaps it's true: 'The Ward lurks in strange ways', as they so often say.
I got in four good years of constructive sexual learning, or at least practice, before falling victim to the Catholic Church's inimitable brand of perversion - that unholy lie, created by self-hate, fear, repression, and clod-like depredation; to wit: the lie that sexual play is a sin. The specialized evil - misogyny - doesn't enter the scene here. Masturbation is a sin for males and females alike. This point was illustrated to me when, about eight or nine years after graduation, I ran into a (male) friend I'd known in university. Sitting in my kitchen, he atop a high stool, we had started reminiscing about our early Catholic backgrounds and the humiliation in general of the teen years. I have a perpetual vision of Tom, rocking himself and the stool, wiping tears from his eyes, choking and sputtering and teetering dangerously, as he tried to overcome his laughing hysteria and tell me the priests' approach to high school boys' confessions around the sin of "impure touching". I had recently been in Gestalt therapy sessions where entering into the "here and now" of the past was encouraged, nay, insisted on, to promote healing. Tom must have been healed, as he pitched on the perilous perch (which I like to think symbolized the pastoral patriarchy), giggling with shame and self-consciousness and holding himself in a straight-jacket embrace, until finally he regurgitated the confessor's one defining interrogation: "Was there flow?"
Flow indeed. Those many years later, in the 70's, "go with the flow" was the new religion. But back in high school I discovered, having overheard some older girls talking about it, and later looking up the word in the dictionary for teenagers which I found in the home where I occasionally babysat, that I was in fact masturbating. I read the definition and shook my head sadly. Mortal sin. End of fun. I went cold turkey for five years.
As it turned out, it was a most efficacious method for improving the frequency and intensity of my orgasms when I started to date a man in university. I didn't touch myself impurely, but if he kissed me for a while, you can imagine the release that five years of repression would generate. Technically, I was innocent; (Catholic dogma: no intent). Necking was probably putting myself "in the occasion of sin", but again, vagueness in communication ruled, and moreover, in university that level of sexual activity was the unspoken bottom line, so to speak, a minimum requirement, but besides, I wanted to. It didn't take long for me to orgasm, at which point I would demurely, and in my most Catholic voice say, "I better go in now". He, being Catholic too, would let me go. I always slept well.
It was many years later before I learned about the "double standard". Unwittingly, I had turned the tables and taken my pleasure first, quite selfishly and happily. I sleep even better now enjoying that. But at university in that first year of being back "on the beat', the April examinations came upon us and I went up north to study, at a house whose owner was away. This first separation from my partner, and the resulting sexual deprivation, combined with the tension of academic pressure, hit me head-on one night as I bathed in the old clawfoot tub. It was the first confrontation between sin and my will, and I was forced to realize my own consciousness and admit the conflict between being passive and getting some relief. So I decided, in the quiet Muskoka evening, that not only did I want sex more than the Church, but that I was probably in deep shit anyway, for all those good sleeps. After five long years of never having hand to hearth, I baptized myself in the waters of sin, with pleasure.
That summer, I split up with my guy and was having a flirtation with a co-worker. At some point, I decided I was going to have intercourse just to find out how to actually do it. As I had continued in my own world order and lack of information, I had no idea either that men sometimes "used" women; that there existed a kind of battleground in an area where I thought we should just have fun. I hadn't known of the silly rules that men make up nor that this competition for power resulted in a premium on women's virginity. When the summer guy asked me if I was a virgin, I didn't know why he asked, but I told him "yes" because I was. But after our tryst, he kept harping on it, confusing and irritating me. I didn't get it and didn't care, but even though I was annoyed, the confidence I had from my own sexual autonomy made his blather irrelevant, so I just didn't listen. it was only when I went back with the university guy and eventually slept with him that Christmas, that I discovered my virginity was still intact. Up until that very unmistakable moment of penetration (which occurred coincidentally with the cat's epileptic fit), my hymen had not been affected by my previous lover's smallish member. So my attempt to become a roué of sexual dalliance was for nought. I remained unsophisticated, and, for the male sensibility, pure. The virgin buster had had no reach.
My education continued and I graduated to the wealth of misinformation that men like to disseminate. The university guy informed me after were making love regularly, and my physical satisfaction was out in the open, as it were, that women didn't have orgasms. He'd read that. The book, of course, written by a man. This was the sixties, before the revolution, or public discussions, or sitcoms where everybody knows everything about everyone's sexual habits, but still. In the darkness of this earlier time I handled it by deferring to my only authority - my silent and private autonomy of old. I assured him that in fact, women do orgasm, because I did, and we left it at that.
There were other happy surprises which have confirmed the blessings inherent in just relaxing and letting yourself feel good (or making yourself feel good if nothing "comes" on its own - like my original secret lover did). I remember the shock when after some years of experience I pleasured myself on the floor and, sitting up, saw in a floor mirror that my genitals were actually dripping a profuse viscous liquid. I had always thought all that goo came from the guys. That's where the emphasis of sex information always was and nobody told me otherwise, so I had the additional pleasure and delight of discovering the physical proof of my own erotic productivity and role. 

Another time, I was just lying nude, my stomach to my man's (also nude) back, and just squirmed myself to orgasm: no plan, no expectation, no manipulation, no "spot", or method. This serendipity also occurred relatively late in my sexual career, after imagining that I'd done it all - proof to me not only that I hadn't, but that "being" does indeed conquer "doing" sometimes.
I always come back to the bum beat, like an old and dear friend. It has prevailed, rolling over men's ignorance and the other numerous trials of life that come my way. It has been the succour to hurts and frustrations, fatigue and the limitations that life encounters. Once when I worked in a government office, the environmental tension was so great it forced me into the washroom during my break, just so I could get myself back to normal. Now, so many years and lovers later, I find comfort, freedom, creativity, and, dare I say, spiritual connectedness in this expression of life's most constant and commanding force. The orgasm is the essence of our beings, the wave we rode in on; it was our first sense of ourselves, and we were alone. Personally, I like to return to that old self. I need my place in the cosmos, my isolation, to be my choice and I need it to feel good.
The bum beat, in its primal position, perseveres and is true, like the heartbeat, in dignity and confidence.
The bum beat rules.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Been out of hospital for about ten days now; dragging myself around the house with very low energy.  Oh yah, got cancer, then the drugs attacked my leg, eye, and heart muscles leading to myocarditis - heart inflammation.  So I am pretty useless these days. Music and exercises and slow re-learning how to walk in the park notwithstanding - and now that I think of it, very often it is not with standing, but with a wonky falling-over posture.
Please tell me it will get better...
In the meantime, I thought about the past, present, and future.  At least I hope for a future.

And I made a little video, but it's too big for the blog, so i've put it on youtube:
ZOE CHILCO  I wanna dance and bike Past Present Future June 2019


MEANWHILE....I did do a little gig last week, exhausting myself, but loving singing once again.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


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


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


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:

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, -


I still say, like the song, "I'm gonna live 'til I die."

Friday, April 19, 2019


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


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:


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.