words are all i have

A morning thought…

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The blessing that is autumn

Autumn, my favorite time of the year, arrived for me yesterday.

I saw her golden splendor, still clinging to tree branches in defiance of Mother Nature’s seasonal dictates, and I felt her crunch under foot as I made the lengthy trek from the concrete enclave I call home to my doctor’s office in homey Fairfield, with its inviting feel-goodness.

Because I live in downtown Victoria and seldom stray any great distance from home and hearth, autumn tends to escape without notice. The sole indicator that she has arrived are the peaks of the distant Olympic Mountains, which have begun to accept dabs of snow that I can see from my eighth-floor apartment. That is not to experience autumn, though.

Shuffling booted feet through piles of leaves is experiencing autumn, as is taking in deep breaths of crisp, morning air during a mile-long walk. There is a zen-like quality to autumn on the tree-lined streets of Fairfield. It is a cleansing, even as her signature colors lay strewn on the ground or piled high on boulevards and street corners.

I love autumn. Yesterday was a blessing.

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Baby Blue and other songs that take me back to special people and places

patti dawn swansson

So, I stepped out of the shower the other morning and I could hear country legend George Strait crooning. The song was Baby Blue and I immediately thought of my beautiful daughter, Krystal.

Baby Blue was her favorite song for a time. Mine too.

Hearing it again served as a sweet reminder how music, perhaps more than anything else, links us to the special people and places that enrich our lives. Specific songs take us to a specific person, or to a specific place. This is the list of select songs that do that for me, and the people and places I recall warmly when I hear them.

Baby Blue, George Strait: I cannot hear to this tune without thinking of Krystal.

If I Fell, The Beatles: Lynn, first high school crush.

Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain, Willie Nelson: Heather, owner of The Toad in Osborne Village in Winnipeg. We’d have what we called “Willie Nights” when the barman played nothing but Willie Nelson tunes after closing. Heather and I would dance.

Dance with My Father, Luther Vandross: Terry. This was played at the memorial service for his father.

Fanny Be Tender, Bee Gees: Colleen, my lifelong crush. She was 21 and married, I was an 18-year-old kid when we met. Nothing ever happened, but I wanted it to.

You Needed Me, Anne Murray: Colleen, Part II. I’m still crushing on her after all these years.

Lady, Kenny Rogers: Sheila, a special, amazing, beautiful woman. What was I thinking when I left her?

Songs of Life, Neil Diamond: Sheila, Part II. And I still don’t know what I was thinking when I left her.

Pretty Woman, Roy Orbison: Sheila, Part III. Obviously, I wasn’t thinking when I left her. Dumb, dumber and dumbest.

Stormy Monday, Eric Clapton (or any great blues singer): Rhonda, another ex. My goodness, that woman had a voice. I heard her sing this in Brandon shortly after we began dating, and I was blown away.

Since I Fell for You, Barbra Streisand (or any of the great lady singers): Rhonda, Part II. She sang this for me in the lounge at the downtown Sheratan in Winnipeg. I was gobsmacked.

New York, New York, Frank Sinatra: Joan was my landlady when I first moved to Toronto in early 1980s. Great friend.

Imagine, John Lennon: Stephanie was a lady from Liverpool whom I met the night John Lennon died.

From This Moment On, Shania Twain: The was played at the first same-sex marriage I attended, for Rob and Derek. Rob left us a few years ago, but I always think of him and Derek when Shania sings this tune.

Girl from the North Country, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash: My brother Mick. It’s the first song on the Bob Dylan classic Nashville Skyline. I gave that album to Mick long ago and he’s been a Dylan-ite ever since.

I Cross My Heart, George Strait: I always think of Harley Tucker, a fictional character and Strait’s love interest in the movie Pure Country, when I hear this song. I’d like a girl just like her.

Old Friends, Waylon and Willie: Johnny Murphy, late DJ at CFRY in Portage la Prairie, once took an article I wrote and read it verbatim on his show, playing the various tunes I mentioned in the piece. They included Old Friends. Then, when our mutual friend Friar Nicholson died, I played this song all morning.

Losing You, Alison Krauss: This is Saturday afternoons/evenings at Paparazzi, when owner/barkeep Terry allows me to switch the music to my favorite singer.

Till I Gain Control Again, Alison Krauss: I think of heaven, because her voice is angelic.

Roadhouse Blues, The Doors: Once upon a time, I hosted a talk show, Prime Time Sports, on CJOB in Winnipeg. This was my theme song.

Till, The Vogues: Glenice, my first. A truly beautiful soul who deserved better than me.

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Random thoughts in the small hours of the morning

patti dawn swansson

Doing something because “everyone else does it” is wise only if you learn how unwise it is to do something just because “everyone else does it.”


It is not the rope around his neck that the condemned man fears, it is the springing of the trap door.


It is better to have a door than a window to your soul, for you can only look through a window but you can walk through a doorway.


Be wary of those who place you on a pedestal, for no one steps down from a pedestal—they are pushed or they fall.


If wisdom was sold in six-packs, more people would want it.


He who toots his own horn often finds himself playing in a one-man band.


It is best to wash your dirty dishes before they walk out in protest.