Jimmy Bang No Shoe Blues


JIMMY BANG’S NO SHOE BLUES (Alternate Version)*

I’ve given up my cigarettes and whisky too
I’ve given up my cigarettes and whisky too
for pain, painkillers, pets and you.

You know why I get mad, you know
why I get sad; but I’ve stopped throwing
tantrums, or dishes – that’s dumb.

Barely have patience for loud rock n roll – and   these blues
Barely have patience for loud rock n roll – and these blues
I was raised No! never to need any NO! no rock n roll shoes – lucky me!

Size 15

Because I can crank the volume rockin in my wheelchair
So I can crank the volume rockin in my wheelchair
Hard enough loud enough to get through this nightmare.

No shoes,
No shoes – Jimmy my my,
you’re waking up Naked
with the No Shoe Blues!

 * Original version printed in Transition, Ted Dyck, ed.



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I’ve been away from my dear website, off chasing rainbows with delusional projects I can’t persuade arts agency  jurors to support. Usually they’ve never seen anything like it before, are suspicious of old dogs with new tricks, or they underestimate what I can do while still being chronically depressed and ill with lousy cartilage genetics, in pain everyday.

Thankfully I have learned how to manage my symptoms and write. So over the course of the next few days leading up to my 64th birthday I will be posting new stories, poems,  letters, and grant applications on this site. There’s a hitch, you’ll have to pay for it, though I will broaden what  I make available for free. Plus there is a new annual category offering a year’s worth of everything for $50, the year running from April 3, 2019 to April the 2nd 2020, my 64th.


No photo description available.

I was planning to apply for a residency in Campbell River with the Write For Your Life  (WFYL) project as my community engagement. I thought for a minute, and I concluded there was no reason I couldn’t do the same here where I live.

Gimli’s Evergreen Basics Needs is hosting an information session, April 15, 2019 at 1:00 pm to see if enough people are interested in participating in a Write For Your Life (WFYL) workshop next fall. Victor Enns, a published writer with “lived experience” will facilitate the sessions where people may gather to write for therapy. Ted Dyck started WFYL  projects in Saskatchewan ten years ago, with five now meeting regularly throughout Saskatchewan. I’ll come back to this and Transition magazine, but for now, well I’m bushed.


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How I became Susann

I was born on February 3, 1921 on a very blustery day about four miles southwest of Altona in a village that used to be called Blumenhof, which does not exist any more, only the cemetery is there.

In those days doctors had to be called in by horse and sleigh and registration of names did not take place soon after a child was born. By the time my name was registered it was already the following December. How that happened – well, you didn’t just go to town any old time. It was in December that father gave a paper, just an ordinary piece of paper, a letter, to register my birth, to someone – no-one seems to remember who it was, to take into the municipal office to register my name. Father had written down Susannah. I was supposed to be registered as Susannah, with the “ah” at the end. Well, whoever went and took the letter in decided to change my name and call me “Susie”on the municipal registration, which, of course, I never was. I was always called Susan.

To prove that, I have report cards from my elementary school that shows my name in the Register as “Susan”. I never liked just the single “n”, and so to change that I went to the Norquay Building in 1986 when I planned to go to Australia. I had to have an ID Card for a new passport. I wanted that information to be as I had registered in university. As Susann with two ns. I’ve checked our 1941 marriage certificate and there I am still Susan with one “n”, but by the time I finished my degrees in the 1960’s I was using the two n’s.

I had no trouble getting my Social Insurance or Canadian Pension or Old Age Pension under the name Susann. But I was having trouble getting it that way on my passport so I had to go get it changed. The people in the passport office or Vital Statistics told me to bring in some official document, a school register, for example, before I had turned 15. So I dug up an old school register from the time I was in grade six or seven, Kate Klassen would have been my teacher; and there, sure enough, I was registered as Susan. Not “Susie”, which I never was, or even as “Susannah” as father had wanted to name me. But as Susan.

So I brought a copy of this record in to them, to prove my name had been Susan, and that my name had been wrongly registered. This they accepted but I did have to pay $25 to add the second n, to make my name Susann, the way I had been writing it for a long time already. I liked it better that way, and it seemed to me I was just shortening my name, dropping the “ah” from Susannah as Dad had wanted to name me, and writing my name as Susann.    

I was never Susie. They never even called me Susie at home. Sometimes they called me “Sue”- “Suess” in low German. But I objected to ever being called “Sahn”, that’s low German, an ÄltColonische Wort, for Susan. In Russia it would have been Sonja, and I would even have preferred that.

What else do you want to know?



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Libby’s Crunchola


I’m making this now.  Lynn and me enjoyed this granola on one of our Toronto sleepovers visiting friends Ian and Iarra in their Runcesvaille home. Ian got this recipe from Libby. I eat a lot of porridge most mornings and this is a lovely change still using a lot of oats and even more good stuff. Works wonders with yogurt. I’ve also discovered Spoon Size Shredded Wheat and Bran has more fibre than bran flakes and no sugar and salt.
The original recipe:
1/2 cup oil with a little milk
1/2 cup honey (and/or maple syrup in my version)
6 cups oats (3 quick, 3 regular)
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup wheat bran
Raisins, sunflower seeds, dried apricots (my favourite), dried apples or other fruit.
We also added walnut pieces and dried cranberries.

Mix the dry ingredients, except the seeds and fruit, in a big roasting pan. Boil the liquid ingredients.

Mix the hot liquids into the dry ingredients making sure each bit becomes a little wet.
Toast at 325 for about an hour, stirring thoroughly each 20 minutes.
Add in nuts and dried fruit. A total of 1-1/2 or 2 cups should do.


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Recommended Reading


The Beautiful West and the Beloved by God.”

So now post medication and looking through pages (many dog-eared) again I am struck by a book in two halves that can’t live without each other. Helen Humphrey has her latest start with an auto-fiction exploration of how she came to write A Machine Without Horses, And then tells the story in the second half. Ondaatje’s War light, and Divisidero before that also two halves of the apple. Michael Springate‘s 2014 novel The Beautiful West and the Beloved by God  stands well in their company.

The first half is set in Montreal including characters from or near Brandon, and the intentional family and diversity of friendships that are possible in Montreal. I was lulled into a comfort zone, even as the conversations in the first half were tackling the subjects of difference, war and religion. I like conversation like this in literature because they do actually happen in (human) nature. I like good sentences and good dialogue, which don’t always go together, but here they keep fine company. I realized how much things were going to change when Mahfouz is arrested and disappeared with the complicity of the Canadian government in Egypt, and I put the book down. I find passages of violence hard to read, and easier to write and here we’re back to what my life experiences bring to any text I read, being bullied as a kid makes me respond quite emotionally, especially or maybe particularly if it’s by unjust and oppressive power and force. While being suffocated in a snow bank as a kid is not like adult and professional torture, amndI’m still alive to bitch and moan about it.

Writing the inevitable isn’t as easy as it sounds, and has nothing to do with predictability. A story, even one with two halves, has an internal logic or rhetoric, if you like of its own. It is easy to bugger that up by working against what the story wants to do. I’ve had the predictable/inevitable discussion with David Bergen about his book Stranger, and it would be interesting to read these together. I know this is too much for facebook, but not enough people read what I have to say here so I’ve posted it here  and on Face-Book. This one I can alter more easily, and add too as I have other ‘thoughts’ about this book.  Now, back to Independent People.

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My listening continues to gravitate to classical recordings with heady mix of jazz and blues and rock.

Late string quartets by Shubert and Beethoven have my attention, as does Shubert’s Piano Sonata in G reaching for peace. Schubert and Beethoven’s late quartets were a revelation, thanks to Tom Allen and CBC. These require active listening, and are strange and wonderful and dark. Quartets Jimmy Bang appreciates.

Right now I’m listening to Bryan Ferry’s Dylanesque, a complete album of Dylan covers, which is turning out much better than I expected. Older records I’ve listened to a lot are by Bonnie Raitt, Leonard Cohen, and the Talking Heads/Brian Eno. I continue to listen to Ry Cooder and enjoyed the music on The Prodigal Son his latest release, the singing not so much, and the lyrics even less, but damn he can play that guitar. Sue Foley released Ice Queen, recorded down in Austin, Texas, which really is her best yet. The only one that comes close is Love Comin’ Down, produced by Colin Linden.

Jazz has dominated my downloads, as what I want to hear cannot be found in my records or CDs except for the classics like Kind of Blue, which I have in all formats. So recently added the calming strains of Brad Mehldau’s Trio/quartet (Their Blues and Ballads release is superb) sets, to the wildness of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor.

But always a return to Mingus, this year Blues & Roots on heavy rotation. I started a thing on hard bop, which remains unfinished. Not surprisingly it’s about the drums or drums and bass. Clifford Brown and Horace Silver with Max Roach or Art Blakely (whose work I thought I new) my big jazz discoveries. I mean I knew the drummers but had not heard about Silver or Brown.

I didn’t except to like the free form jazz, but have become accustomed to the dissonances and rhythmic shifts by listening to a lot of “new” music, which is still all 20th century for me. Listening to a lot of the Emerson, and Orford string quartets playing these later Shubert and Beethoven compositions. I am a fan of Alban Berg and the Alban Berg string quartet, and a lot of other composers of the “Second Viennese School” and Russians of the turn of the 20th century. I draw your attention to my favourite find in this area…Glenn Gould’s 1959 recordings of Berg, Schoenberg and Krenek.

2018 was also the year I discovered the James Ehnes recording of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, and Anne-Sophie Mutters recordings of 20th century music, especially Homage a Penderecki released in 2018, which I’m listening to now. Until next year.









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I’m celebrating Christmas by listening to music, reading and writing. These I happily do alone. On Thursday, the 27th I’ll be spending the day with family and I’m looking forward to that.None of this is very hard, and I’ve lowered my family’s expectation to reduce any anxiety levels over the holiday. The only difficulty is trying to explain to others, some who are spending the holiday alone, and others that are looking forward to a large family gathering, that I’m “not doing” anything for Christmas. So I’m listening to all 0f Beethoven’s symphonies, many concertos and all his string quartets if there is time. So I have a project, and everybody is happy. What I don’t say is “I’m working,”well I did that, but only once, clearly crazy talk. Nor do I say I’m working on two profane manuscripts that I’m scheduling to run to the end of January. I hope to have most of the existing writing up on the website by 2019. 


The advertisement in German on the right promises the cheapest fares from Glasgow to  Chicago. So begins The Crossing as I move forward on my Involuntary Tongue project. Initial posts included a series of video scripts, Angst a black & white film script, and Mother Tongue in English and German translation. For a paltry $1.00 or $1.50 a month you can have it all!


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Graphic Illustration by Murray Toews.

I’m getting organized for another work week; having had some Christmas (and my first turkey sandwich today) and going back to the city on Dec.27 to visit my brother and January 2nd to see my shrink. Somewhere in there kids possibly also, though we already had a lovely roast dinner, with the tree up, a week ago.

My plan is to write five days, 500 words a day on Boundary Creek. I will then ask for subscribers again…once the new posts are up for  January 2019. A good deal of November and December were given over to revision of my new poetry collection Love & Surgery, (forthcoming, fall 2019)research and writing towards my Boundary creek project, grant application and preparing a writing sample. Murray Toews has agreed to collaborate, and his image to the left is the opening image for Boundary Creek.

I will need to do some more cleaning. You should see my place. Yes the kitchen and bathroom are clean, but my general untidiness lends itself to the straightening up every slightly OCD writer must do before capturing that elusive first sentence, even a phrase might do. My Dickie Suspenders arrived today, I bought them at lunch on Saturday with Amazon one click, and there they were waiting for me…it’s only Wednesday. I bought my new jeans too big because I cannot tolerate to be bound around my waist or belly because of bad sciatica. I did wear a belt so my pants stayed up for today’s flurry of activity, but damn my side down to my groin hurts now. So suspenders and overalls will be the thing for my adaptive clothing.

Today I did some Christmas shopping at Tergesens, had lunch with Lynn and a very well behaved Alice, then off to the LWWG writing workshop session, with everybody bringing prose. The group today was me, Dorothy Adrian, Leah Isberg (host, in Matlock) and Pam Larner.  I stopped briefly at the Super A for fruit and a loaf of bread. (yes for the Turkey Sandwich)on the way home…and I’m waiting for it to be time for my meds and a good sleep. That is all.


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My Right Foot


For one brief moment I thought my uric acid levels had regained acceptable levels, so stopped taking my Allpurinol medication. A week or so later this is what my remaining foot looked like.

My uric acid levels were at acceptable levels because of my medication not because of eating more carefully and not drinking. Once again the diabetes alarm bell was rung, but no my sugars are fine, it’s my uric acid levels. Hell even my triglycerides are fine. High uric acid levels create the symptoms of gout, which I thought was related to arthritis and the pain meds and NSAIDS would also help.

Nope. It’s different. I have started taking  Allopurinol again,  doing its job, easing pain a little, but mostly allowing me to keep my foot on the floor when I’m working. My toes look funny because I had a procedure to straighten my hammertoes. I’ll spare you the photos of my kebabed toes. Bonus in this one in losing the nail on my little toe by jamming it into a sproinging, but not sproingy enough door-stopper. So, Polysporin to the rescue. Infections are never good, especially in the foot you have left.

Sadly, this foot, or more precisely my ankle will be reviewed by my excellent foot surgeon next Wednesday at HSC. A new custom-made brace will be prescribed, but I’m also asking about it’s likely future. The ankle is going the way of the left one, that is collapsing, or at best the bones are going through an unplanned reorganization. I can manage this pain because of pain meds for my back, but it’s not sustainable and I expect more surgery. I am more attached to my right foot (no adaptions needed for driving at the moment) but am an unlikely candidate for an ankle replacement and my last ankle fusion didn’t take, so I may loose this one too. I wasn’t kidding when I said I’m leaving my body to science one limb at a time.


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Notes Re writing today


Have been able to write and work on my website for second or third day in a row. I have to be somewhat cautious, as usually there is a crash that follows, but always, well what if there isn’t?

Many influences today, contributing to my writing which includes correspondence with my siblings and friends. Hoping more website Patreon subscriptions will come when it’s clear they will receive new work most every day. Scheduling works, and now Patreon works, and now pasta is cooked. Just wait a minute.

That was good. So was the sunset. More Beethoven. Ludwig will feature in one of the pain room imaginings. Composing some sonatas, like my sister would play, and then mining his anger at his disability in the Grosse Fugue..including dialogue with his unhappy publisher. He is one of my intended Group of Seven or Magnificent Seven which includes Augustine (with Euripides), whose story is already begun, Menno Simons, Catherine the Great, Richard the Third, Beethoven, Queen Victoria and Sigmund Freud (with German poet Richard Dehmel). Each will be imagined by Corporal Ivy from the pain room. The first part of his story was added to the pain room Patreon supported blog. Murray Toews has been providing the visual images of each of the characters.

Today’s issue of the New Yorker includes an essay by James Wood, on the Norwegian author Dag Solstad, with more translations in English becoming available, with his comment “taking away someone else’s life lie also means you are taking away their happiness.”  My sister is sending me Helen Humphrey’s new book, Machine Without Horses: A Novel, just out in this September. I have been thinking the work I’m doing will have links of one sort of another, no matter how different the streams are. This goes directly to the Solstad comment; my connections of interest investigate how we make ourselves different and manage identity shifts and revise our story to function as best we can. Corporal Ivy imagines many lives and moments that side-step his pain bedridden-self. Susann with 2 nns started revising herself in grade school, and on her death bed said “I’ve had a good life,” not easy to tell from her own stories, or my experience or those of my siblings. I can hardly wait until I get there…that is the Boundary Creek story-telling, not my death bed!

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