Christmas With My Old Ma – the story and song

I wrote this Christmas song many years ago.  It is a true Canadian Story and I hope someday others will hear it across Canada.  Either way, I have made my career out of the enjoyment to catch the true moments that deserve to be immortalised by song.  Below this link for the song is the story behind the lyrics.   Christmas With My Old Ma

Back in the ’70s, when I graduated from high school, I moved from the Cariboo to the big city of Vancouver. No more would I be walking the milk cows across Highway 97, stopping the traffic on the road to Alaska. In fact, when I left, they built a cow culvert under the road, so Beauty and the rest of the girls converted.

When I arrived in Vancouver, on my very first bus ride down East Hastings Street, I knew, without doubt, Santa Claus was living there — hiding somewhere amid the bricks and broken glass. Mr Clause was probably sleeping in a hotel lobby chair, right beside an old Grandfather’s clock. At least one friend who worked for CBC believed he saw him there. Resting while Old Man Time swung his pendulum back and forth. He even wrote a poem about it. His name was Tom Houston.

So you see I wasn’t alone in my belief Santa was a real rub-dub; an out of work has been. But when Santa started showing up in department stores with smooth cheeks and a fake beard I could tell nobody here had any idea of how unreal it all was.

Eventually, I forgot too and Christmas in the city settled into a routine of flashing lights, frantic shoppers and long lineups around Santa’s corral.

Like the cows, my curious thoughts slipped into a culvert under the road and time sped by. Or so it seemed until one rainy night in December, busing my way home from downtown Vancouver to Port Coquitlam, I had a strange experience.

While the window wipers were busy in their hypnotic beat of perfect boredom the bus doors opened on East Hastings Street, and an old man’s voice floated in: “Bus driver, can you take me to where I can catch an eastbound freight train? Momma doesn’t know it yet, but she’s gonna have to set an extra plate for Christmas.”

And there he was, getting on the bus, Santa Claus and all his bags. Now I’m very grateful to the lady who sat in front of me as she faced the sideways chair the older man sat down in. You see the old man had a very soft voice and he talked to her because he was happy and because she asked him questions which told me she believed in him too.

Only once, at the very beginning did I look sideways. I couldn’t help the big grin on my face. But nobody else was paying attention, caught up in newspapers and a chance to sleep. No time to waste looking there, I thought.

So I listened as the older man recited a long list of towns…Towns an eastbound freight train would go through…On its way to Toronto…Where Momma was…Where the extra plate would be set…And oh yes, the friend he had in Edmonton who was going to let him use his phone to call Momma. To let her know her son was coming home for Christmas. And all the years it had been since they last spoke. And would the reception be any good for his radio when they locked the boxcar doors?

He was the person I had forgot I was waiting for. The truth that Santa did live on East Hastings Street and this year he was the gift. Wrapped up and ready for a long boxcar ride home.

Of course, this was before terrorism and security checks…a time when people could still sneak through rail yards and hop on freight trains! Now, I want to thank the bus driver who was excited about it and the lady in front of me who wanted to know every detail of it. While the older man unfolded his world out of the bags and boxes at his feet, he read aloud to her the Ads on the bus walls. Always with a comment to her. He liked humour. You might say he was definitely jolly.

I especially remember the one about the exit doors. He said, “I don’t know much about leaving by the exit doors, but I’ve sure got into a lot of places going through them!” Of course, now the sign reads “rear doors”, and I wonder what he would have made of that.

Well, I couldn’t just forget that night. So because my friend once wrote a poem, I decided I would write a song. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to tell the listeners everything about that night, but it never hurts to sing a song about a Canadian, especially when they’re Santa Claus.

Katie Kidwell
The Cariboo Song Rider

©Katie Kidwell, The Living Of Loving, 2019
©GWJ Creative Art

Katie Kidwell is a cheerleader for creative hearts everywhere.  With experience in music, writing and art.  Her inspiring stories on the creative way she has lived are here on her blog “The Living Of Loving”.  She also works as a commission artist.

 

The 28 Day Twitter Art Challenge

Abe the abominable snowman, acrylic (Universal Folklore)

In 2015 I participated in a Twitter Art Challenge hosted by #kidlitart.  The tag for that challenge on Twitter is #kidlitart28.  The challenge is for the month of February and goes like this.

One drawing/day for 28 days and it must be drawn in 28 minutes.

I chose to illustrate my 1988 South Cariboo Children’s Festival Theme Song,  Magical, Mythical Monsters – Monsters from A – Z.  My imagination went wild as I chose my alphabetical monsters out of Wikipedia.  I went no further than their name and geographical locations (folklore).  I didn’t want any picture “influence”.

I had a lot of fun over those 28 days, posting on Twitter, my 28 minutes sketched “monsters” according to the alphabet.  I also included two characters to make up the 28 days.  In this case, following the lyrics of my song I created a “star child” who had signed out his monster book from the “Librarian Moon”.

I highly recommend the imaginative experience I had drawing the “unknown”.  Since then I have gone on to create a colouring book from my sketches and to paint some of the characters I created.  Abe the abominable snowman for the letter (A) is one of them as is the Greek Garden Nymph for the letter (G).

I have a board at Pinterest of the rough sketches I made which you can view here.  Magical, Mythical Monsters

My 1988 Children’s Festival Song is at Soundcloud if you would like to listen.   It is a song about a young boy who signs out a library book on Monsters from A to Z only to have them come to life in his bedroom.  The monsters win him over with their magical nice monster ways and now his book is overdue at the library.  I had a lot of fun teaching the schools in assembly this song with growls, whistles and clucks.

As I said using your imagination to draw “the unknown” is lots of fun and I highly recommend it.  If you are someone who feels a special connection with something outside of yourself or inside maybe you could draw it out?  Give it a character and a name.

Somehow right now I hear Tiny Tim singing, Tip Toe Through the Tulips.

You and I both know a song like that will never come again but we all know the message it holds and it’s a creative one!  So start tiptoeing…

Garden Nymph (Greek Folklore) Oil

©Katie Kidwell, 2019 The Living Of Loving
©GWJ Creative Art

Katie Kidwell is a cheerleader for creative hearts everywhere.  With experience in music, writing and art.  Her inspiring stories on the creative way she has lived are here on her blog “The Living Of Loving”.  She also works as a commission artist.

 

 

 

 

My Back Step

The Greek Garden Nymph by Katie (Oil)

I like to play my guitar on the back steps, facing my garden.  Beyond the garden, the back end of Porridge Forest sprawls.  Over the years different birds have flown through the garden and perched on the fence to watch me.  I accepted their coming and going as part of the notes of the song I was playing…or should I say – we were playing?

The evening I’m writing about a hummingbird landed on the top wire.  Facing me with wings folded and a shrug from each shoulder.  Hummingbirds are seldom still.  It isn’t in their nature.  I expected the hummingbird to leave.  Five songs later, with no pause between…the hummingbird had stopped shrugging his shoulders and replaced it with a slow nod of the head…

As it started to get dark I was asking myself silent questions like:

“Do hummingbirds fly in the dark?”

I never missed a beat on the guitar and my voice soared…that is how it is when you have an amazing audience.  One that is obviously affected.  Just as the last of the light was in the sky I leaned forward and said:

“Shouldn’t you be going home now?”

As if on cue – the hummingbird flew and I took my guitar inside.

Ask me about the stages I’ve been on and my back step at Porridge Forest is still my favourite.

Katie the Cariboo Song Rider performing @ Lone Butte Rocks 2016

©Katie Kidwell, The Living Of Loving, 2019
©GWJ Creative Art
“My Back Step” part of Katie’s 2017 “The Little Birds That Fly” Parkside Gallery Show

Katie Kidwell is a cheerleader for creative hearts everywhere.  With experience in music, writing and art.  Her inspiring stories on the creative way she has lived are here on her blog “The Living Of Loving”.  She also works as a commission artist.

 

Beauty (the song)

Exeter Valley towards the Highlands

My post today is a song I collaborated on many years ago with an Alberta Cowboy Poet by the name of Buddy Gale. It was while I was in my “hay-day” as a singing cowgirl.  If you want to know more about those days here is the FB link to Katie, The Cariboo Song Rider

 

I took the photo for the song “Beauty” out in Exeter Valley (Bridge Creek Estate Ranch).   You can just see the Highlands where the cattle are in the distance. When I was kid this was always a great place to ride.

Beauty (Where All Cowboys Ride)

as performed by Gordon Maxwell

The Lyrics

Beauty

Chorus:
If beauty’s a land where cattle can hide;
Beauty’s the place where all cowboys ride.
If beauty is Hoare frost, rain, snow and sleet;
Then beauty’s the place where all cowboys meet.

Verse l
If beauty is sagebrush tumbling along
Then beauty is also the howling winds song.
If beauty is mountains and old Jack Pine rails.
Then beauty is muskeg and hard rocky trails.

Verse II
If beauty is sundown – cold hazy sky.
Then beauty’s a bedroll; a good place to lie.
If beauty is silence with smoke in your eyes.
Then beauty’s the night owl flying by.

From the poem “Beauty” written by Buddy Gale
Song Lyrics:  Buddy Gale & Katie Kidwell
Music:  Katie Kidwell
©Beauty, Buddy Gale & Katie Kidwell, 1995  SOCAN

The Story

This song is a collaboration between Buddy Gale and myself, Katie Kidwell. Originally a poem by Buddy called “Beauty”; additional lines and music made it a song. Recorded by Gordon Maxwell who is known as Ian Tyson’s bass player of many years. I am playing the acoustic autoharp in this recording.

You can also listen to Beauty at SoundCloud

©Katie Kidwell, The Living Of Loving, 2019
©GWJ Creative Art

Married With Cows

Married With Cows, Wendy Liddle Illustration for my book “Well Hell”

In my poem, “Married With Cows”,  I take aim.  I hope the poem hits your funny bone.  Here’s some background.

The Story

While I was on the ranch, I gave it my best shot to be part of the Canadian music scene.  My ability to write about my experiences is one of my strengths. For this, I was hired by Ian Tyson.  He was looking for a performer to represent the cowgirl at his Cowboyography Show during Expo ’86. Writing songs about cows and fencing had an audience…and now I had permission to write more!

For his show, I wrote four songs of which there was time for three.  After twenty-one shows that week, I was geared up to play my spurs on both sides of the border!  What a wonderful time. So many beautiful “salt of the earth” people to be around.  Like me, they were expressing themselves and their worlds.

Later I wrote “Married With Cows” to put into perspective all those phone calls I’d had on the ranch.  There I made cold calls to agents and managers I had heard of. 

Life is more satisfying when you can see the funny side of things.  Especially when you don’t have to make it up.  Even though…it meant I would never be part of the Canadian music scene or on the radio.  When was the last time you heard spurs played over the air?  

Not Just My Experience… 

“Married With Cows” was on at Poetry poem.  While it was there, I heard from several men (husbands).  They wanted me to know the same events had happened to their wives.  They felt bad about it.  

So this is what I found to be true as a folk performer.

Everyone loves a good song and a sincere presentation.  Everyone loves to laugh and learn a little about the country they are visiting.    

So after the cowboy gatherings, I started performing for bus and rail tours. I no longer aimed for agents or managers.  From my homeland, I sang to the travelling world about the wonders of the Cariboo as a “singing cowgirl”.  Spur playing included and I also taught the Cariboo Yodel! 

As a folksinger, it doesn’t get any better than that.  To sing about your country in your country.  My handle was Katie, the Cariboo Song Rider.  You can check me out on facebook and here is a link to my music on sound cloud.

Here Is The Poem

Married With Cows

I wanted to be a singer
and sing my own true songs…
They wanted to know my measurements,
was I a redhead or a blonde?
And just how old are you?
And before you send your tape…
Send us a great big picture
and for the last five years – your weight.
“We’re not signing married women –
their husbands make them quit!
With years and years of experience –
our investments have to stick!”
So I didn’t send that picture,
my hair type or my weight.
I didn’t bother fooling them –
and I never sent a tape.
For the rules, they were describing
I never could kowtow…
so I told them, “I ain’t single,
I’m married with cows!”

©Katie Kidwell, 1997
Previously Published by Canadian Cowboy Country Magazine
Vol5 No.2, 2001

From My “Hay Days”

Katie, the Cariboo Song Rider with Abi Sha Trigger circa 1988

One of the songs I wrote for Ian’s Show – “The Cow-Boss Yodel”
You can practise for the next time we meet…

From the Tom Thompson Sessions – Meadow Show – Album I

©Katie Kidwell, 2019, The Living Of Loving Blog
©GWJ Creative Art

 

Lullaby

 

In 1976, while I was living in North Vancouver, I wrote “Lullaby”.  I composed it just before I went on the road working as a folk-singer for Whitefoot Entertainments.

So before the travel, the crowds and playing the Top 40, I wrote what I was fascinated with, in music. The idea you could sing a note out to nature and nature would take the note out to the universe and back. I still believe in this.

Lullaby ©Katie Kidwell, 1976 SOCAN

Lullaby

Now when I see a crow fly
I sing out a lullaby
On his wings, the notes will fly
Lullaby – Lullaby

Crow played it for the forest gate
Said the trees:  “It’s not too late”
Softly the trees began to sigh
Lullaby – Lullaby

Water whispered to the air:
“Lullaby is very fair”
Youth like the stars heard earth reply
Lullaby – Lullaby

Returns the night, the black crow free
Hushing forest melodies
Remember the crow to those who fly
Lullaby – Lullaby
©Katie Kidwell, 1976 SOCAN

Lullaby was part of my 2017 Parkside Art Gallery Show. The album for this show also titled: “The Little Birds That Fly” can be listened to here at Soundcloud.

Lullaby can be purchased as an mp3 download for $1.00 US
Secure payment with PayPal or credit/debit card


Lullaby mp3

©Katie Kidwell, The Living Of Loving, 2019
Message me @ GWJ Creative Art

Saddled and Gone

The Story

Sometime in the late sixties, The Star Weekly published a story about a woman who had been given a few months to live.  The magazine story focused on the fact that it was now 10 years and she was still alive and thriving! They wanted to know how she had done it and they wanted their Canadian readers to know about her choices.
 
I was a child then, and my Mother wanted me to know the story too.  Of how this woman had sold and rode away from everything, with a horse and a saddle.  I was fascinated with the newsmagazine’s large photo of her face.  I had never seen so many wrinkles before and she wasn’t even old.  Yet she had spent the last 10 years of her life sleeping on the ground with her horse.
 
I don’t remember the woman’s name only her face and big hat.  If you know of her let me know.  My question here is “Would it still work to do what she did?  Sell everything and buy a horse and a saddle and plan on sleeping on the ground?”  If you had a few months to live, what would you do different and what if it was the cure?
 
 I too have lost family members to cancer.  I know there are miracle survivors everyday we could all sing about.
Sometimes it’s a sad song when the miracle is to quickly leave the pain in the body.
I never forgot the story of this woman and the look of her face.  So years later I wrote a song to celebrate her with. It’s called Saddled and Gone.

The Song

Here are the lyrics to the song I wrote about her story and further down this page the recording:
 
Saddled and Gone
 
Did she pass on?  
Saddled and Gone?  
I like to sing her song…
Oh I oh…..
I…yi….yee…
 
She was one city girl with a fatal disease
A few months to live, so live as you please
Without any kids or a spouse
She sold her car and her house
 
“Goodbye job, Goodbye friends
I’ve bought a horse and we’ll be travelin”
Oh I oh…
I yi yee….
 
Under the stars
Sleep on the ground
‘Till winds wrinkle
Your face turns brown…
Oh I oh…
I yi yee…
 
Ten years went by and she was alive
Out went her tale along the news wire
And then my Mom read it to me
To a child, it’s no mystery
When your saddled and gone
Riding along
Your heart sings a thankful song
Oh I oh…
I yi yee…
 
Some tales I have heard, slip their way down
‘Least when I know it they circle around
And though it’s a tale from the past
I feel it is good and will last
Now did she pass on?
Saddled and gone?
Hawk and coyote sing her song…
Oh I oh…
I yi yee…
 
                  © Katie Kidwell, 1991     SOCAN
 
Here is the Tom Thompson acoustic recording of Saddled and Gone done in the mid 90’s.

Saddled and Gone can be purchased as an mp3 download for $1.00 US
Secure payment with PayPal or credit/debit card


Saddled and Gone mp3

This blog post was previously published as:  “Have you lost someone to cancer?”  True to You (no longer on-line)

©Katie Kidwell, The Living Of Loving, 2019
GWJ Creative Art

World Singing Love

©”Spirit Of Song” w.c. by Katie
Several years ago I created a web site with an invitation for the world. I called it: World Singing Love. How it works is simple.
Everyone sings the chorus. The chorus is one word. That’s right, LOVE.  The music you can click on is easy to learn and the words are right there if you want to learn the verses! 
 
The recipe for how the magic works is on the web site so I won’t repeat it here. Find out for yourself what it is. Here’s the link to hear the song and read the lyrics: 

Web Site for World Singing Love 

Be in the spirit of the song and let me know if the magic shows up for you and your loved ones.
.
©Katie Kidwell, The Living Of Loving

Katie Sings Mother Goose

© “Four Leaf Clover” Art by Wendy Liddle from my book of Cowgirl Poetry

In Vancouver, British Columbia

In the 70’s I helped the “play therapists” in what was then the kids ward  of the Vancouver General.   Before the Children’s Hospital was built.  I brought my guitar and voice and played to the kids of all ages in all conditions.  It was heart touching and memorable.  For the young teens I played what was on the radio!

Looking back at the Mother who grabbed me and wanted me to know that her baby hadn’t slept for days….but fell asleep while I was singing!  I am reminded of another time on the ranch…when I created my nursery collage and songs and recorded them to play in a bedroom without me!  It worked too!  Maybe better because I wasn’t present to stimulate.

So I created a web site where people could go and play my recording if they needed a voice in the room for their little ones to fall asleep to.

You might surprise yourself at how many of these tunes and rhymes you already know!

Here are the Mother Goose Rhymes I recorded.

Did you notice how I changed the “Old Woman In A Shoe”?

Here are the nursery songs I recorded as a collage.

Katie sings Mother Goose has its own website. Hear the continuous loop of rhyme and song at this site and see if it helps to put your little one into happy sleep!

Let me know how it goes…

©Katie Kidwell, 2019 The Living Of Loving
©GWJ Creative Art

Testing…Testing…

I moved to Vancouver when I was 19

A high school graduate with shorthand, accounting and typing. I had always worked after school and during summers so I expected to find a great job with all my references! Excited to move away from the little cow town!

On one of my job interviews…

In downtown Vancouver I was applying for a receptionist position.  This was a company leading the way for other company’s on: “How to hire the right people for your business.”  Now I don’t remember their name.  But I do remember their office was full of packages,  pamphlets and signs for “industrial psychology.”  Something I had never heard of. They were very busy.

The test would take three hours…

I was informed at my interview I would have to undergo the testing they were teaching other company’s.  If I wanted to come back after lunch they would have the test ready and it would take 3 hours. I had a folded newspaper in my purse with the days job opportunities. I wondered if I wanted to give up most of my day to one application.


I thought about it…. 

Then I realized – Heh!  People pay big money for this and I get to do it for free.  So I came back and sat down to a stack of papers. Most of the questions were multiple choice.  When I finished – yes it was 3 hours – I went to their waiting room.  In time I was called in.

And the results of the test are…


The man behind the desk looked at me with what appeared to be a mixture of kindness and sadness.  Holding the papers in front of him he shook his head several times and then he apologized.

 

“I’m so sorry…I don’t know what to tell you. What you should do…”

You have the highest marks I have ever seen for someone in the field of writing…with music second and art third!”

He looked at me as if I should say something. I sat stunned. He continued.  “I don’t have a clue on what to advise you…maybe…(and at this he really sounded doubtful)…more schooling?” Then he really perked up: “I can tell you would never be the right applicant for an office job!”

And this was just a receptionists job… 

So I had wasted a whole day.  One part of me agreed with him.  I did love writing, music and art, BUT I had already proven myself out working in office jobs I had references for.  I had all my high school training!  I could do short hand!  And this was just a receptionists job…I kept these thoughts to myself.  I thanked him and walked out.

I like to think I went for a nice coffee…  

Today, I haven’t forgotten the atmosphere of his office, his look and his words.  I wish now I had looked deeper at what he told me.

I became Secretary to the highest paid scientist in forestry…

 
I did work in Vancouver in temp positions moving in and out of many office buildings.  In the course I learned dictaphone and telex machines and zerox. I became secretary to the highest paid research scientist in forestry in Canada at that time.  A two year hiring on Russian research called “Muka”. But in the end I became sick with agoraphobia.
 
Eventually  I became a folksinger and a multi-media artist.  My ability to juggle the work on the ranch gave me what most ranch women get. Expert ability to handle logistics. This meant I could organize shows with successful outcomes and I did!  My typing has been invaluable and I still love short hand.  But everyday I’m faced with the same dilemma my “tester” had.

 I still don’t know what to tell myself about the writing, the music and the art.

 Oh well.  All’s well that ends well.

 I hope it does.
 
© Kathy Kidwell, 2015  True to You (no longer on-line)
©The Living of Loving, 2018