Friday, 27 September 2013

Guest writer - Lockie Young - Not Waxing Poetic

Lockie lives in rural New Brunswick. In 1995 he started writing and hasn't stopped. His story Ryan's Legend has just been accepted for publication by Morning Rain Publishing and will soon be available as an ebook. Find the links to his website below. He has been kind enough to share one of his short stories with us, it's very amusing.
Not Waxing Poetic
All hair removal methods have tricked women with their promises of easy, painless removal - the Epilady, scissors, razors, Nair and now...the wax.  
My night began as any other normal weeknight. Come home, fix dinner, and play with the kids. I then had the thought that would ring painfully in my mind for the next few hours:
Maybe I should pull the waxing kit out of the medicine cabinet. So I headed to the site of my demise: the bathroom.
It was one of those 'cold wax' kits. No melting a clump of hot wax, you just rub the strips together in your hand, they get warm and you peel them apart and press them to your leg (or wherever else) and you pull the hair right off.
No muss, no fuss. How hard can it be? I mean, I'm not a genius, but I am mechanically inclined enough to figure this out. (YA THINK!?!)
So I pull one of the thin strips out. Its two strips facing each other stuck together. Instead of rubbing them together, my genius kicks in so I get out the hair dryer and heat it to 1000 degrees.
Cold Wax, yeah, right! I lay the strip across my thigh. Hold the skin around it tight and pull. IT WORKS!
Ok, so it wasn't the best feeling, but it wasn't too bad. I can do this! Hair removal no longer eludes me! I am She-rah, fighter of all wayward body hair and maker of smooth skin extraordinaire.
With my next wax strip I move north. After checking on the kids, I sneak back into the bathroom, for the ultimate hair fighting championship. I drop my panties and place one foot on the toilet. Using the same procedure, I apply the wax strip across the right side of my bikini line, covering the right half of my hoo-ha and stretching down the inside of my butt cheek (it was a long strip).
I inhale deeply and brace myself. RRRRRRIIIIIIPPPPPP!
I'm blind!!! Blinded from pain!!!!!.....OH MY GAWD!!!!!!!!!!
Vision returning, I notice that I've only managed to pull off half the strip. CRAP! Another deep breath and RIPP! Everything is spinning and spotted. I think I may pass out. I repeated to myself ‘I must stay conscious… I must stay conscious.’
Do I hear crashing drums???? I breathe deep then breathe deep again. OK, back to normal. I want to see my trophy - a wax covered strip, the one that has caused me so much pain, with my hairy pelt sticking to it. I want to revel in the glory that is my triumph over body hair. I hold up the strip. There's no hair on it. Where is the hair??? WHERE IS THE WAX????
Shyly I ease my head down, foot still perched on the toilet. I see the hair. The hair that should be on the strip is not on the strip!! I touch and I am touching wax.
I run my fingers over the most sensitive part of my body, which is now covered in cold wax and matted hair. Then I make the next BIG mistake... remember my foot is still propped upon the toilet? I know I need to do something. So I put my foot down.
Sealed shut! My butt is sealed shut. As I penguin walk around the bathroom trying to figure out what to do next and think to myself 'Please don't let me get the urge to poop. My head may pop off!' What can I do to melt the wax?
Hot water!! Hot water melts wax!!!! I'll run the hottest water I can stand into the bathtub, get in, immerse the wax-covered bits and the wax should melt and I can gently wipe it off, right?? WRONG!!

I get in the tub - the water is slightly hotter than that used to torture
prisoners of war or sterilize surgical equipment - I sit.
Now, the only thing worse than having your nether regions glued together, is having them glued together and then glued to the bottom of the tub, in scalding hot water. I soon discover the hot water doesn't melt the Cold Wax. So, now I'm stuck to the bottom of the tub as though I had cemented myself to the porcelain!!! God bless the man who had convinced me a few months ago to have a phone put in the bathroom!!!!!
I call my friend, thinking surely she has waxed before and, maybe, just maybe she has some secret of how to get me undone. It's a very good conversation starter 'So, my butt and hoo-ha are glued together to the bottom of the tub!'
There is a slight pause. She doesn't know any secret tricks for removal but she does try to hide her laughter from me. She wants to know exactly where the wax is located, 'are we talking cheeks or hole or hoo-ha?'
She's laughing out loud by now... I can hear her. I give her the rundown and she suggests I call the number on the side of the box.
YEAH!!!! RIGHT!!!! I should be the joke of someone else's night?
While we go through the various solutions, I drain the tub.  I resort to trying to scrape the wax off with a razor. Nothing feels better than having your girlie goodies covered in hot wax, glued shut, stuck to the tub in super hot water and then dry-shaving the sticky wax off!!!!
By now my brain is not working. Dignity has taken a major hike and I'm pretty sure I'm going to need Post-Traumatic Stress counseling after this event.
My friend is still talking with me when I finally see my saving grace. The lotion they give you to remove the excess wax. What do I really have to lose at this point? I rub some on and OH MY GAWD!!!!!!!!
The scream probably woke the kids and scared the dickens out of my friend. Its sooo painful, but I really don't care. 'IT WORKS!!!! It works!!!!'
I get a hearty congratulation from my friend and she hangs up. I successfully remove the remainder of the wax and then notice to my grief and despair. THE HAIR IS STILL THERE. ALL OF IT!
So I recklessly shave it off. Heck, I'm numb by now. Nothing hurts. I could have amputated my own leg at this point.

Next week I'm going to try hair color!

 I'm still laughing. Thanks Lockie. Please visit Lockie's website Or you can find out more about his new book - Ryans Legend - at

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Letting Go Part 2 Sequel to Four Boxes of Memories

Removing the lid, the first thing he sees is a very old picture album surprised by the fact that he’s never seen it before. Lloyd liked taking pictures keeping them in albums in the living room, but not this one. It’s thick containing black heavy pages that are worn on the edges. The front is dark brown faux leather that is creased and split in spots. Balancing it on the top lip of the box, he opens the cover.

The photos are fastened to the pages with decorative silver corners glued to the dark background pages. There are two per side, perfectly and identically placed. They are all of Eugene. The first four are as a baby. In silver ink beneath each photo is a date and how old Eugene is. They start at 6 months, the eyes big and full of baby wonder, the cheeks fat, a wisp of thin hair sticking up. The fourth is of a laughing boy with icing smeared on his chin. The birthday cake in the black and white photo has a large candle stuck slanted in the center. It’s the number 1. As if to confirm the obvious the script below says one year.  Eugene looks at the cover again in wonderment why Lloyd never showed him this, feeling hurt that he didn’t share it. The feeling is swift as Eugene soon realizes these are Lloyd’s memories, the things he deemed personal, thing that were important.

Sitting back in his chair, he scans the remaining photos. They are mostly of just Eugene in some silly or endearing pose but there are many of Lloyd and him. The pictures follows the life of a growing boy, every age. Two, three, four, the teens, the twenties, the present. Birthday cakes are the dominant theme in the early ones. Some have trophies displayed with Eugene wearing various sports uniforms, mostly scuffed and dusty baseball togs.

Half a dozen are in front of giant pumpkins, his graduation both high school and community college, a few on the fishing boat when he worked with his dad, one when he had his first job as a graphic artist sitting at his new desk, one when he opened his own studio, his wedding day, one each in the year of the birth of his three children, Matthew and Natasha and Damien. Always in the pictures, Eugene is laughing or mischievously grinning. The bangs are always too long, the face happy and round. The eyes are bright even as the black and white photos turn to color as the years see him turn into a man. 

It takes him forty minutes to look at the whole set. The collection is clearly a work of love, documentation of a father’s pride, a cheerful passing of time. There is nothing sad about the album but he feels a pang of deep lose. He misses his father, comforted somewhat as he reflects on the man’s love. There had never been mean words between them, disagreements yes, but no anger was spoken. He had a good life and the pictures are proof.

Getting up from his seat, he goes to the wall where the door is. There are shelves lining both sides, full of books, knickknacks, some pieces from his antique toy collection, more books. One section on the bottom is taller than the rest that holds a small group of albums from before digital days. He places the precious book amongst the others. Returning to the box he digs through a few things when he realizes the box is about him, things Lloyd has kept to bookmark events in his life.  It surprises him, Lloyd never seemed one to be comfortable with sentimentality, wasn’t given to too much reminiscing.

An 8 1/2 by 11 manila folder titled Newspaper Clippings holds just that, clippings. Leafing through them, they’re mostly team photos of when the teams he played on won some tournament or provincial championships. Four are for baseball and one is for basketball. A copy of his advertisement for the Grand Opening of “Minister’s Graphic Studios”. His prom photo which was one of several in the entertainment section. There are six of them in a group, the girls were all close friends, the guys so-so. Black heavy framed glasses makes him feel he looked like a geek.  He was still dating LW then, but they broke up after graduation, her wanting to see the world, him a hometown boy with no desires to venture far.  Maybe she left because of the glasses. There are more pumpkin related images and stories. He closes the folder placing it on the what-to-do corner.

There is a battered baseball tucked in one corner. Some threads have unravelled for an inch or so on one of the seams, scuff marks where the bat has only nicked it are evident in many places, faded ink on the side proclaim Home Run in big rugged letters. Eugene tosses it lightly in the air catching it deftly with a forward swipe. He remembers the day he hit it over the fence at the Kiwanis’s Field. There were two out in the bottom of the last inning, one man at second, and his team behind by one run. He had a strike and three balls when the pitcher erred by sending the round missile straight across his path at shoulder height, right where he loved them. He was twelve then, a scrawny kid but strong. He spent many summers on his father’s boat as often as could, Lloyd always putting him to work, teaching him as they sailed.

The ball connected with the last six inches of the bat in the widest part of its swinging arc. It sailed majestically upward, clearing the field by fifty feet into a wooded area. Lloyd had been sitting on the cheap iron seats. He dashed for the ball yelling that he’d go get it. He came back shortly claiming he couldn’t find it. He wasn’t fooling anyone especially as he was blushing when calmly returning to his seat. The umpire scrunched his shoulders and dug a new ball from his bag. Lloyd had shown his “prize” to Eugene when they got home. He and his father had batted it around and played catch with it for several years in their own back fields until he whacked it once and the leather curled away from the broken laces that held it together. He remembers that he had never seen it after that. Lloyd had bought him a new one.

Eugene walks back to his bookcases, eyeing the best spot for the ball. He wants to be reminded of the good times it proclaims every time he sees it.  There is a gap between several books on the right shelf level with his chest. Rearranging the hardcovers, he sets the ball between The Sea Captain’s Wife by Beth Powning and Four Fires by Bryce Courtenay, two of his favourite authors.  He checks his watch seeing it’s almost noon and hears Taffy in the kitchen, probably making a peanut butter and banana sandwich, her specialty. There’s no schedule on the weekends and he’s not really hungry after the muffins so decides to finish the box now. A white shoebox sits on one side on top of what looks like official documents, he can see the provincial crest is stamped on one corner of the top sheet. Next to where the baseball had been beside the shoebox is a folded baby’s jumper, of the lightest blue. It’s small. He stretches it out with the body the length of his forearm. The small feet are puckered cloth. The label on the tiny neck states size 0, causing Eugene to laugh.

The gentle laughter lingers as Eugene studies the small robe. He’s heard of this miniature outfit, saw it a couple of times but mostly forgot about it. It is the garment he was wearing when Lloyd found him in a box, a banana box sitting on top of a bed. He frowns with a little sadness when he thinks of two young people abandoning their baby, never knowing his real parents. He wondered many times about the missing teenagers but Lloyd would never talk about it freely, always needing to be coaxed. Eugene never pressed the issue always claiming no matter what, he couldn’t be any happier as a kid. He didn`t have as much as some kids, more than many but always enough, there had never been anything to complain about.  Placing the garment on the top of the folder, he digs out the shoebox. Placing it on one corner of the desk he removes the top. It`s full of seashells.

Clams, quahogs, skate, oyster, snail, tiny crabs, even a faded orange lobster claw are crammed into the box. Removing one of the larger sea clam shells, he recognizes the stick figures he loved to draw as a child. There is a big stick figure and a small stick person, they are holding hands. Lloyd’s concise printing underneath says ``Beach Day, 1979`` he would`ve been six.  The shells evoke a warm sensation, a memory of sunny skies, wavelets lapping at his skinny legs, wet sand between his toes, Lloyd running to dive in headfirst no matter how cold the water may have been. He loved the sea but he adored the beach bringing Eugene as often as they could.

A two hundred foot beach with yards and yards of shallow water when tide was low was only a minute from their house.  He thinks of the many times they walked back and forth on the sandy shore, talking their time as they hunted for beach glass and chatted. Their most serious discussions were had with sand upon their bare feet. Eugene looks to the corner of the room by the window where a large vase of clear wavy glass holds dozens of shards of sand polished multicolored pieces. It took them thirty years and a hundred conversations to fill it. Those and the shells, he muses, represents perhaps the happiest memories, knowing full well why Lloyd kept them all. He can never throw these out.

Eugene sorts through a couple more shells, trying to visualize the day represented by the drawings or the date on the individual pieces. Most don’t provoke anything particular until he removes a starched white oyster shell. On it is an Acadian flag, red, white and blue squares. A disfigured yellow spot in the upper corner of the blue section is supposed to be a star. The date is August 15, 1982, he would’ve been nine that summer, ten in the fall. Lloyd would’ve turned 65 that spring. This one he remembers. The drawing was done by a girl his age, her name was Anna, he can't remember the last name . Her mother had carried her to the beach, her father carried a wheelchair. It was not an ordinary wheelchair, the skinny wheels had been replaced with what looked like bicycle tires, probably easier to push in the sand, no adornments, some rust spots on the rims, it was only meant for the shore. Anna loved the water and the sand. She couldn’t walk but she could float and swim if someone helped her.

The other kids shied away but Eugene was captivated by the smiling girl. He could hear her laughing and it rang like a melody in his ears. When the girl’s father became too tired to wheel her through the shallow water, Eugene asked if he could take the man’s place. The stayed in the water until their fingers and toes were pruned from the salty sea, splashing each other, throwing a Frisbee, building bucket castles on the exposed sand dunes. They played all afternoon and he became enamoured by her spirit, as much as a nine year old can be. She never came back the next summer nor any summer after that. She was eleven when she died. Eugene would always remember that day at the beach.

Placing the shell back in the box, he replaces the lid. Putting it aside he digs out the papers in the bottom of the #4 box, they’re the last items. There are several sheets stapled in the top left corner. He can see they are legal documents.
The top page is from the family court in Moncton, New Brunswick, a larger city forty miles from his home. The page clearly states in so many words that his parents, Jody Macpherson and Myles Franklin have allowed their son Eugene Gerald Franklin to be adopted by Lloyd Benjamin Minister. The signatures on the bottom from his parents are strangely similar. Eugene scratches his head wondering how it could be. Lloyd told him that when Eugene was a baby, only a few days old, his parents had left in the night, stealing some furniture and the rent payments from when they had stayed in Lloyd’s parent’s house, leaving him and their responsibility behind. How could he have gotten the parent’s signatures when he claimed that he never saw them again?

Eugene is sitting in his chair in front of the desk, the documents on his lap when he realizes the forms have been doctored. Lloyd did whatever he needed to in order that he could keep the baby. Eugene leans forward, pushing the empty box back a bit so he can place the papers on the desk. He opens the top drawer on the right side to remove a crinkled piece of thin cardboard which has a blue ribbon pasted to it. The center of the cardboard is damaged, the ribbon unglued. The coroner had removed it from Lloyd’s dead fist when they had recovered the body the morning of the night he passed away. Lloyd had been holding it tightly to his chest when they found him.

It was the ribbon that was twined about Eugene’s tiny infantile wrist, the one thing his father had often told him about. An errant tear escapes from Eugene’s glistening eyes as he listens to his father’s husky voice as it echoes in his mind.

“This is the ribbon that changed my life. This is the ribbon that has made me the happiest man in the world. I will always take care of you. I will always love you.”
Thank you for visiting. Next week meet a new guest writer, Lockie Young and his very funny story - Not Waxing Poetic.


Please feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Letting Go Part 1 A sequel to Four Boxes of Memories.

It has been six months since Lloyd Minister passed away. The last three weeks have been a trial for his son Eugene. All of Lloyd’s possessions had been stored when Eugene had to remove them from his father’s room at the senior’s home. He only lived there one night. Most items, mainly furnishings, have been sold, except the antique pieces Eugene and his wife kept. Clothing, bedding and other things nobody wanted have been given away. The Salvation Army van picked them up last week. Eugene himself had carried out the last box packed with his father’s folded suits, to place it in the van. With head hanging and deep reluctance he had set the carton softly in the vehicle but couldn’t let it go, couldn’t take his hands away from the last remnants of the man’s physical presence. The driver had to coax him, lead him gently aside.

Only four more cartons needed attention, the same that Eugene had been putting off. Lloyd always referred to them as his “four boxes of memories”; it wasn’t going to be easy. Banker’s boxes with a giant 1, 2, 3 and 4 on their lids rested at Eugene’s feet in the corner of his den. Early morning sunshine streams in through two large windows on the opposite wall to yellow the room with positive vibes. It seems to suggest to Eugene that this is okay, a good time to discover his father’s cherished possessions. He has cleared his cluttered desk earlier this morning so he would have adequate space to dig through the containers.

Number 1 had already been arranged, detailed and categorized. Deeds for two houses, Lloyds and his parent’s homestead in Kent County, a deed for a forty acre parcel of land along the Richibucto River, last will and testament freshly returned from the lawyer’s office, several bank books offering a rich and tidy sum of $36,341.89, bank statements for the last five years and other papers only left to be filed, except the $25,000.00 insurance policy yet to be honoured.  Useless receipts and documents have been discarded, the box only half full now. Eugene pushes it aside with his foot.

Lifting box #2 he places it on his desk. Removing the flat top, he sets it against the nicked leg of the desk. He remains standing so he can see what it contains. On the top are seven clear folders, 8 x 11, with a plastic button on the flap that lines up with another button on the envelope that is joined by a figure eight of white thin string. Each hold a large colored ribbon attached to a circular disc of similar material, silky and cheap. Four discs proclaim first place, blue ribbons; three bedecked in red  stated next best, 2nd.  Eugene leafs through them stopping at the middle one, a winner. There is a six by four black and white photo in the bottom corner. Lloyd and Eugene are standing in front of a 762 lb pumpkin. Eugene has pants that are an inch too short and suspenders over a white shirt, he is only five. Lloyd wears a plaid shirt and coveralls, a dark fedora low over his brow, a dead cigar in his mouth, he is sixty and the same ribbon is pinned to his chest.

Eugene fondly remembers the tenderness and attention his father gave to his pumpkin patch, even after long days of fishing in the Atlantic, he tended his orange beauties. Unwinding the flimsy strings, he saves the photos, the plastic and the ribbons are slowly lowered into the garbage bin at his side.  Feelings of betrayal unnerve him making him want to dig them back out but they’re meaningless to Eugene so he forces his mind away.

A bundle of old photos with curled edges from the red elastic that holds them sits askew upon a folded newspaper. Removing the rubber band he leafs through the pictures. He’s seen them before, mostly people he doesn’t know and deceased relatives. There are not many, maybe twenty or so, all black and whites. Deciding he’ll ask Margaret, his father’s cousin about them, he replaces the elastic holding them to set the packet on the front right corner of his desk, the spot he designated for things he didn’t know what to do with and couldn’t be thrown out.

  Digging through the remaining items, many of them end up in the “round file” except the folded newspaper. It’s dated July 16, 1969. The front page, top of the fold is a photo of the Saturn V rocket lifting off from Merritt Island, Florida with the Apollo 11 crew of Collins, Armstrong and Aldrin. Eugene reflects for a moment, smiling as he remembers Lloyd’s fascination with the moon, how it told him when to plant his pumpkins, how it controlled the tides, riding the sky as it waned and waxed, but mostly to imagine that men walked upon its surface. A tiny tap on the door interrupt’s his thoughts. Setting the newspaper in the “what to do “corner, he says,

“C’mon in.”

Its 8:30 on a Saturday morning and Eugene’s wife, Taffy (short for Taffeta, a name she hates), is an artist and a certified machinist. She sculpts, shapes, bends, twists and polishes all shapes and sizes of metal into expressive works of art. She’s wearing scuffed steel-toed shoes that look clunky on her small feet, her favourite Levi’s that are faded baby blue and a red long sleeved t-shirt with an image of “Minnie Mouse” on the front. Her blondish hair is pinned to the back of her head, a few wisps loose and waving. Her green eyes sparkle at him as she offer’s him a steaming mug of coffee.

“How’s it going?”

Eugene smiles at his wife, loving her support. She held him many nights after his father died.

“I’m glad I’m doing this, these things meant a lot to Dad. I’m almost done the second one.”

They chat for five minutes, mostly about the giant pumpkins. Taffy is finishing her latest project, a sculpture for the foyer on the new engineering faculty building at the University, the deadline is next week so she is anxious to head to her studio in the garage. She departs with a quick kiss and a pat on his butt. With a feeling of slight euphoria, Eugene returns to the box.

The last item is a bunch of loose letters on another sheet of newspaper, not the whole issue, just one page. Eugene thinks it odd that the letters are helter-skelter, not bundled in Lloyd’s usual neat manner, almost as if they were just thrown in. The top two are stamped RTS and remain unopened. Recognizing his father’s slanted script, Eugene lifts the top one out to study it. It is addressed to Denise Livingston in London, Ontario. The post mark is dated 1972, the year before he was born.  Setting it down, he pulls out the rest, there are seven more. They are slit open across the top fold. The handwriting on the front is loopy and large, very concise. They are addressed to Lloyd.

Pausing to stare at the patch of sun that is crossing the floor, he remembers his father talking about a woman named Denise and how his face lit up when he did. It wasn’t often but when someone commented on him being a bachelor, he always spoke of “the one that got away” and her name was Denise. Eugene returns his gaze to the box; he gathers the letters uncovering the newspaper page. It’s a page from The London Free Press, from 1973. A page of classifieds and the section that is circled with a pencil is noted Announcements.  Under the black banner that precedes the title, is the notice of the wedding of Denise Livingston and ...

Feeling low for how his father must’ve felt he sits down for a moment, the clipping in his lap. Closing his eyes, he can still remember the time when he was six, after the first day at school and he asked Lloyd why he had no mother. That was the first time he heard about Denise. After that every woman he met he would ask if she was Denise and his father would laugh. This was one of his fondest memories, thinking of his father laughing, big hearty chuckles. Grinning he stands again confronting an empty box. Setting it on the floor behind him, he replaces the letters and clipping, thinking to decide on them later, maybe read them, he’d ask Taffy.

He bends to lift the third box, surprised again how heavy it is. Removing the cover, he finds some issues of Field and Stream.  A bouquet of old ink stirs as he lifts the top issue from the box. A sensation like a sad warmness flows through him as he rubs his hand over the cover. He has a momentary vision of Lloyd on his rocker, the squeaky   wooden one in the kitchen, a cigar in his mouth, cheap glasses half way down his nose as he reads his monthly fishing magazine. Always after supper the day he received it.  And the trips he planned to take. Eugene could imagine his husky voice,

“We will fish for sport instead of for our bread. We’ll chase the stubborn salmon, catch him and let him go.”

But they never went. Life had been too busy with the harvest of the sea, housekeeping, school, sports, chores and plain getting by. Thinking of the many things Lloyd gave up for him, the letters on the cover get a little blurry; Eugene tries to blink away the tears and only the tiniest one falls to the glossy page. He takes a deep breath, clearing his mind. Remembering that his father often told him taking a trip was just a wish and wasn’t as important as spending time at home with his son, he smiles as he lifts the dozen that are in the top half of the box to put them to the left of his desk on the floor. That pile will go to a charity.

In the bottom of the box are scribblers. Multicolored testaments to Eugene’s schooling.  The top one is from Grade 1, with crude stick people drawn in pencil on the bottom corners. Eugene’s name is neatly printed in large childish letters over the subject line which is blank. Shuffling the collection he notices how the printing of his name changes over the years from rough letters to a tiny cursive script, the same as he uses today. Doodling is evident on all of them. From grade three to grade seven the caricatures are more menacing as they often carry guns or drive heavily armed tanks. The school subjects are mostly math and science, the two classes he loved most in school, the ones he usually had the highest marks in. He’s glad Lloyd didn’t keep the ones for history classes, he liked neither the course nor the teacher, old Mr. Beechum who never ever smiled or said anything nice, no matter what you did it was never good enough.

He stops as he reaches the orange colored leaflet from Grade 10. The simple sketches have become mostly hearts with arrows piercing the dormant organs. Quite a few of them have the letters EM L LW. LW are the initials of his first girlfriend. He pauses for a moment to remember Linda, wondering where she is now, she had taken off after graduation with only her back pack bragging that she was going to work her way around the world. Her parents moved to Alberta. One of his friends told him several years ago that she married an African and they were operating an orphanage in Mali but he’s never heard from her. Eugene forgets the rest of the scribblers, removing them from the box to place them in the garbage receptacle, deciding they’re of no value any longer. Placing the empty container on the floor, he stretches to relieve his sore back. Gazing at the last box, he decides to take a break before tackling it.

His office is across the hall from the bathroom and he stops to relieve himself. His three children are at Taffy’s parents for the weekend, he can hear his wife hammering on something in the garage so he doesn’t bother shutting the door. He grins thinking how he never wanted to shut the door when he was small, the bathroom was claustrophobic. Lloyd would growl at him,

“Shut the darn door, nobody wants to hear you tinkling, you do that in private.”

Eugene chuckles as he remembers his reply, with the audacity of a five year old, and how Lloyd laughed at him.

“But we’re both men and we both have pee-pees.”

Heading into the kitchen, he follows the aroma of baked blueberry muffins. There is a plate of them Taffy made this morning on the counter by the fridge. They’re still wrapped in their white crinkled papers, the mushroom like tops are moist and dotted with blue temptation. Yanking open the fridge door, he grabs a can of Pepsi from the bottom shelf, picks the two plumpest muffins to head back to the den.

A gulp or two of the frosty cola, he removes the little skirt from one of the desserts. While he munches on it, he turns on his stereo, changing the cd.  Clapton out, Nina Simonne in.  Turning the volume low, he returns to the fourth box as the sultriest of voices begins to sing about love. The last box is not as heavy as he heaves it onto the desk.  Removing the lid, the first thing he sees is a very old picture album surprised by the fact that he’s never seen it before. Lloyd liked taking pictures keeping them in albums in the living room, but not this one. It’s thick containing black heavy pages that are worn on the edges. The front is dark brown faux leather that is creased and split in spots. Balancing it on the top lip of the box, he opens the cover.

Join me next Friday to find out what else is in the box. Eugene and I will be expecting you.

Please feel free to leave a comment..

Friday, 6 September 2013

4Q Interview with Yves Chiasson, Songwriter Extraordinaire

Yves Chiasson - musician extraordinaire, songwriter, kick ass guitar player has freshly returned to Montreal after a Zero Degrees Celsius reunion concert on August 15th – Acadian Day, when the band played many of our favourite tunes, agreeing to answer some questions here at 4Q. He presently performs as Luther Chase. Links provided below, please check them out. 

4Q: The band played an awesome show on the 15th Yves. Brought back great memories of when we watched you and the gang rock over fifteen years ago. What was the reunion like for you and the band members?

YC: It was extremely cool to hang out and make noise with my old friends again! My wife Renelle (keys, vocals, violin) and my brother Dan (drums) are both in the group so it was extra special to reunite with Poirier (front man) and Matt (bass) to perform our old songs together as a band. The original 5 members had not played together in 15 years, so we were pretty rusty at our first practice session. But once we got going the songs started to flow and that old magical feeling started to seep through. We had some pretty intensive practicing to do, but the group has a great sense of humor, so we laughed and joked around for most of our practice sessions. When we finally hit the stage and there were around ten thousand people cheering us on, it was surreal! And they were singing along and knew most of the words! That was by far the most beautiful part of the entire experience. The folks from our home town of Moncton singing the words from songs we had written as far back as 20 years ago! What a feeling!


4Q: You’re a great songwriter Yves, are you still writing. What inspires your songs?

YC: Well thank you for saying that! Since I was a kid I aspired to be a composer or songwriter. I studied classical music and still very much enjoy it. I especially love listening to Glen Gould play Bach. But then I figured out in my twenties that what I really loved were songs. And so instead of trying to compose classically inspired music for ensembles and orchestras, I went completely the other way and started writing songs for our band; songs that were rather simple and could be played by one person on a guitar. So I felt extremely liberated from the constraints that I had imposed on myself when I was trying to become a composer.
Nowadays I tend to write Blues/Country/Folk inspired songs that I still try to keep simple, and that have melodies that are groovy to sing. I record in my home studio and my partner/wife Renelle plays and sings on a lot of my material. Luther Chase is releasing a 7 song EP on vinyl this fall entitled Past the Empty Town. The album contains music written in 2013, and is independently funded.

4Q: Please share an interesting or fond childhood memory with us!

YC: I started playing guitar when I was fourteen. I had seen these guys a few years older than me at Parlee Beach playing Heart of Gold by Neil Young. So I was like, I want to do that too! My father had an acoustic guitar and he taught me three chords: G, C and D. I also discovered Jimi Hendrix during that period, so naturally I wanted an electric guitar. So for a while, every day after school I would go down to Moncton Music Centre and look at the electric guitars hoping to one day own one of these shiny beauties. So one day Big Bill, who was the nicest guy, saw me eyeballing the guitars AGAIN and said “do you want to try one plugged into an amplifier?”  I picked up a cheap Stratocaster knockoff (the same type as Jimi used), plugged it in and struck an awful sounding G chord, then looked up at Bill and said “It sounds just like Jimi Hendrix”. Bill just smiled and said “yeah it does!” 
4Q: What can we expect in the future from you Yves, musically speaking of course. Is it still your desire to perform live and if so, what kind of venues do you prefer?

YC: In the last few years I have not played live very often and therefore miss the energy that is shared between musicians and the crowd. Playing to 10 000 fans on August 15th 2013 (Festival Acadie Rock) renewed that need in me to share music with a live audience.
 My preferred venue is a “soft seater” or auditorium that has great acoustics because people are there to listen and the sound is pure and pleasing. A bar is fun too because there is generally a relaxed and casual atmosphere, but people are often distracted and are not really listening, which becomes a distraction for the performer. As I get older (I’m 43 yrs young) I prefer playing for people that are listening to the music. It makes the effort that mush more gratifying.

You can certainly expect more songs from Luther Chase in the future, as I am constantly coming up with new song ideas. And I really enjoy the work of putting music to tape and documenting ideas that might be forever lost were it not for the act of recording. 

I fondly remember listening to you singing Sister Morphine by The Rolling Stones many years ago at the UdeM campus, smoky little place called The Kacho. I had a good idea then that music would always be an important part of your life. Best of luck to you and Renelle with the new album.