It was a 2013 tour in Germany that inspired the first one-line-for-each-place reflection once I got home, and I like trying to extract, or encapsulate, what stands out about each place — especially because once a tour is complete, there can be such a blurring of faces, backdrops, and events. There are also so many vivid and brilliant moments; some of them are still reverberating, shining, giggling, swaying, sighing in my thoughts and bones.

I like to pause and see what comes to mind — not unlike #ddnd on Twitter (“dear day not diary” and a daily highlight composition) — neither too soon after the tour, nor too long. Today is the day, friends, and I’m thinking of the dots and hearts we connected in song from the west to east coasts.

Duncan, your low hanging moon was not where I left it but how I remembered it, and your sun’s warmth was the first of its kind this year; you began.

Victoria, you represented 1996 and 2013 in beautiful women’s big smiles and a folded piece of newsprint with a picture of me.

Vancouver, you filled a room and my heart with every way and time that I know you, and I noticed your touch every single time in slow motion; you were hard to leave.

Ymir, your certain kind of magic was the solution to the long drive’s equation; you hung my poster — and I smiled wide for it — amid flour and sugar.

Calgary, turns out you’re younger than you look and you sound older than you are; your deft repair turned on lights below and ignited backstage giggles.

Lloydminster, your virtual and physical knowledge differed and we championed a comedian’s first, ending it all on a piano bench with white wine and a chorus of “Proud Mary.”

Winnipeg, you sidled up to the curb in a way to besmirch your near-perfect paralell parking reputation and were touched by the presence of Birds Hill to Berlin and back.

Stony Mountain, the first double, you sold girl guide cookies, belly sweat in your new dress, and talked about “the girls” while we exaggerated stories of potential.

Onanole, we drove into your April snow storm and, unplugged, planned musicals and heard of house fires.

Saskatoon, you won over the Statler and Waldorf of the joint and swooned in the arms of a baby grand, melting in her steel and wood.

Calgary, we returned, you beckoned from the hot tub after singing along.

Edmonton, we tried to nap in the “room for crying” and navigated puzzle pieces from the past, remembering the waiting of 7 years ago most.

Sherwood Park, you panned for gold in the Saskatchewan River and spun pure magic near changing walls.

Toronto, as my new home you showed home well:  replies from here, there, and everywhere I’ve reached my hand out to; you held and lifted.

Montreal, you were the best you’ve ever been, near full, smiling, and seeing at long last via Aurora and 73rd Ave.

Ottawa, your rainy Sunday slowed us all down, not to mention those stairs, but you’re always my favourite hiding place and I was glad to close my eyes and rest my head on your shoulder.

Cole Harbour, you were funny and lovely, setting up a new world with a three day life span.

Saint John, your sunset was just one of the warm faces in the crowd, and after the music your eyes-filled with tears as you told me of your lost one; I noticed what I missed about those stories, this time.

Fredericton, the background noise would come and go but we, a small but dedicated few, travelled its peaks and troughs together, glowing for each other; plus gin.

xoc

Day 33 and this particular Canadian tour comes to an end! It’s been the best Canadian tour I’ve had yet, in both the practical, concrete ways and the intangible and magical ways.

Upon getting home, I sat on the couch and played ukulele covers of all the tour/homecoming songs I could think of. There are so many good ones, I’m not sure I’d ever need to write another. Here’s a bite of Brandi Carlile’s “What Did I Ever Come Here For.”

My heart is full. My body is tired. I’ve given and received so much.

It’s been two years since “The M Word: Conversations on Motherhood” was published and editor Kerry Clare has been posting follow up pieces from contributors on her blog Pickle Me This.

This opportunity came up just before I left on tour and I wasn’t sure if I would have time for it, not just time to write it, but to feel it, too. Writing about my kids asks for space. And Kleenex.

On the flight from Vancouver to Toronto, I wrote my two-years later post; my part of the ongoing conversations on motherhood. You can read it over at picklemethis.com.

This is the fifth in a series of posts catching up writers from The M Word, and finding out what they’re up to now. (Find out more about The M Word and read its rave reviews right here.) From previous weeks: “Kerry Ryan on Wishing and Washing“; “Heather Birrell on Talking to her (M)Other Self”; “Dear Me, by Nicole Dixon“; “Kerry Clare on Motherhood and Abortion.” 

In her essay, “These Are My Children”, Christa Couture introduces readers to her sons, Emmett and Ford, and recounts how she has mothered and related to motherhood since their deaths. Here, she considers what’s changed and what hasn’t in the two years since her essay was published… 

Day 27 and only 3 shows left in the tour! Getting the exact same rental car in Toronto as we did in Vancouver made for an easy transition off the plane and back on the road, and the weekend spin from Toronto to Montreal and Ottawa was almost entirely soundtracked by Regina Spektor and Kate Bush in that Camry (I’m having my semi-regular love affair with Hounds of Love). I just about had to move to Montreal when I could not for the life of me take the right exit out of the city, but other than that, smooth travels, friends, prevail. Hard to believe this tour is almost done.

Day 20 and the Western Canadian tour dates came to a close as we drove towards the sunset in Vancouver. Today, we fly back to Toronto and the tour resumes Thursday at Burdock! So far, we sold out of my first three albums (sorry fine folks of the last three shows!), left behind my dermaclean and Gaby’s aeropress, lost one sock, and gained one traffic violation. Other than the ticket, we think that’s pretty great, tour wise, and speaking of sold out: the last few shows were, and it just fills my heart to the brim.

What a damn beautiful tour this has been. Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, we’re coming for you!

Day twelve and we’re enjoying a day off in Onanole, Manitoba, where the latest snow fall (!) is quickly melting in the sun sun sun. I’m about to get a massage at Elkhorn (bliss!) and work some of the long drives out of my shoulders…

I’m in love with this tour, I gotta say. Every single show has been fantastic, and after taking so much time off from the road I couldn’t ask for a warmer return.

Gaby and I continue to Announce The Keys (and it remains a necessity…), the rental car is covered in mud on the outside (thanks to the GPS being hell-bent on back dirt roads during rain storms) and encrusted with granola in the backseat on the inside (oops), we’ve only lost one toothbrush and one sock, and we’ve gained the purchase of the original Broadway recording of RENT. Sing-alongs abound.

Happy album release day to us!

Yes, this fourth album of mine is now out in the world living her big, bold life. Get it digitally on iTunes or get the CD from Black Hen Music.

Long Time Leaving is the best thing I could make for you at this point in my life and I’m so proud of what Steve Dawson, Gary Craig, John Dymond, and I cooked up! Along with the talents of Shannon Swords (who engineered) and David Travers-Smith (who mastered) for your ears and Jen Squires, Catherine Mellinger, and Joi Arcand for your eyes.

Go get it. Sing along. Spread the word. Let me know what you think.

AND THANK YOU!

Day one on the west coast and we’re off to a good start! I almost lost the car keys leaving them on a friend’s stairs and Gaby almost lost them by leaving them at the coffee grinder in the Save-On in Nanaimo… thus we’ve developed a habit of near constantly announcing where the keys are to each other (routine will come quickly…) Backstage at the Duncan Showroom the zipper on my green “Long Time Leaving” shorts split open and trying to take them off was a challenge I’m glad only Gaby was there to witness… but then the “moon” at the back of the room at the showroom shone on our skin that was still warm from the sun, and Chris Ho opened the night with busy bees and flightless war, and all was, undeniably, well.

In 2012, when I crowd-funded about half of the costs for my album The Living Record, I delighted in fulfilling the perks.

Most of them, anyway.

The t-shirts I did not plan well, and custom making them left almost no room for error, which put a lot of stress on my partner at the time who was the one doing the actual screen printing work… I remember us both near tears in exasperation, surrounded by t-shirts hanging off every part of our house: the bookshelves, the shower curtain rod…

Since then, I’ve only hired-out for screening printing. Phewf.

For my new album Long Time Leaving‘s pre-order, I’ve ditched t-shirts, personalized songs, wee pieces of art, and kept just my favourite extras to give you: a lyric poster, and the song story postcards. As for the latter:

I like to tell stories (this you know).

And I love sending mail. Postcards in particular for me conjure travel and wandering and thinking and remembering and reminding; quick hellos and short stories.

I first wrote song stories for my EPs Loved and Lost in 2011. It gave me a chance to give what I do on stage — offer back story, insight into my song’s origins — in a new format. It meant those stories could have farther reaches in their new mode of transportation.

For The Living Record, I wrote song stories for ten of the  album’s pieces, and I felt like I was letting you in on a secret; one I wanted to tell.

Most of the postcards were written while on the road: in a couple spare hours before a show, in  a park or coffee shop near the venue, or on a day off. Dropping a big stack of postcards into a mailbox in one fell swoop is a satisfying feeling. I have to admit: I never quite trust Canada Post. Maybe trust isn’t the word, it’s more that I don’t believe the system works and am always so impressed by it. I write your name with some numbers on a piece of paper, drop it in a box, and days later it shows up at your house?! Magic!

Anyway, when I decided not to do a crowdfunding campaign for this new album, I knew I still wanted to make some of the “perks” available and I picked my favourite. Here’s to spending time with pen and paper, to the squeak of the mailbox drawer opening and closing, to the journey of a postcard from my hands to yours.

As I write this, there are 11 days left to still get the song story postcards (the pre-order ends April 15th!) and you can do so here.

Then keep an eye on your mailbox come May. Spring and postcards are coming.

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I find it hard to think “write a letter” without getting a little Joni singing in my head.

Originally posted to Facebook 03/25/2016.

What a sad week. The impact of violence, on cities, on people, on women. Yesterday I had to close the computer to stop taking in both the strong (thank you, to those voices, I am listening) and the cruel, in the wake of the Ghomeshi verdict.

For the record, I am a survivor and I believe survivors.

What Miriam Novak has written on this kind of belief is brilliant. I would quote the whole thing, but you can read it here. I appreciate that it prompts us to ask questions of ourselves, not just of others.

In the midst of the helplessness and worry and ache of this week, the contrast of delight and oddity of promo for Long Time Leaving has started. I’ve done the first few interviews, songs are getting their first few spins, and the first reviews are coming in.

I’ve been asked a few times about resilience, and I’ve wondered if people think I’ve a secret, or a trick to it. The trick comes on day two when I can see that I’ve made it 24 hours. And it comes every day after that. One week. One year. Eight years. The trick has been to see the steps I’ve taken so far as the impetus to take one more.

I thought I made an upbeat album that was rooted more in the joy of music than the space for sorrow (considering the space my last few albums held), but it’s been reflected back to me so quickly this week, from the first ears who are hearing it, that the story and space continues. It’s upbeat, but not exactly lighter, as one journalist put it to me. And I see it: sorrow doesn’t change her name, but she does make friends.

My heart was wide open yesterday, for the above and other elsewhere reasons, and I cried an ocean. I am a puffy-eyed Friday morning question and no answers except: put on the kettle, and keep asking.

Photo 2016-03-25, 11 28 24 AM