I wanted to drop a line to let you know that we won't be live-streaming tonight as planned. We've had a hard week. Our darling Foxy started walking funny on Monday, and by Wednesday morning we had to let her go. We'd noticed her stumbling a bit over the last few weeks, but we just thought she was showing her age. Turns out there was something growing in her brain. She went downhill surprisingly fast. Pamela took the day off work on Tuesday, we made a fire in the yard, some friends came to say their goodbyes, and we fed her a lot of her favourite things. She couldn't stand up on her own, but she still somehow managed to drag and throw herself across the lawn after a cat who pushed his luck, and she mustered up a show of orneriness for our friend Laurel-Lee, growling and rolling helplessly down the lawn like an angry burrito.
She managed a couple wags of her tail when we were reunited at the vet's office Wednesday morning before they put her down, and she ate all the treats we gave her even though her mouth barely worked. We pet her and rubbed her tummy and talked about car rides and walks and treats and squirrels and Mia and Ginny and all the words that danced in her brain until the overdose of anaesthetic quietly stopped her heart.
Foxy had a good life, at least in its last chapter. She found a home with Pamela from the first day she did her happy dance around the yard. And she had a great final year, thanks to the pandemic keeping us around all the time. She was a rescue, and had a hard time trusting strangers, especially men. But she opened her heart to me, and she got a lot better with other people and dogs. She learned about love, and she taught us about love too. I reckon that's all a good life amounts to. That's a sad but kinda comforting thought for me.
Since then we keep seeing her silhouette everywhere––on her perch by the window, at the foot of the bed, in the kitchen whenever I open snack bags, in the quiet at the door when we come home.
Grief is the price of love. And love's worth it.
Pamela and I will be back online from the back of the van in Jasper National Park next weekend, playing a few songs Friday night for Nanaimo Folk Connection's first-ever online event (starts at 8pm Mountain Time, we're on around 9:50), and then playing a concert in the round with Meghan Cary and Suzie Vinnick for Brooklyn's Voices in the Heights on Saturday! The show's happening on Zoom, which is the most intimate format I've found for online shows, and tickets are pay-what-you-can over at www.voicesintheheights.org. The concert runs 7:30-9:30 Eastern Time, which is 5:30-7:30 our time. Please come join us, it'll be special. And if you're on Facebook, please share the event!
Last I wrote you, Bob Bossin's transatlantic singalong of "Pass It Along" had just been released. Putting our YouTube and Facebook tallies together, it's been viewed 20,000 times since then. If you haven't see the video yet, it's here, pass it along! It got written up by Folk Radio UK, and the Nanaimo News Bulletin. It's been shared by hundreds of kind folks, including Gabor Maté! Biggest of all for me, it got added to Rise Up Singing's massive online database of songs. It made me so happy to hear from Annie Patterson, who has lived her life in service of songs. It's a joy for an old song to find new ears. But it's even better for it to find new voices.
I got my first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine about two weeks ago. I had a feverish night, but my overwhelming feeling was of gratitude to the researchers and the public health workers who made it possible. Since then I've been hearing from a few folks––some old friends, some just fans or perhaps former fans––who are convinced that the vaccines are part of a multi-pronged plot to depopulate the earth and enslave humanity. I don't imagine there's much sense in arguing with them, since their beliefs seem to have been formed by watching many hours of video online, and that's not how I make up my mind about things. As far as I can tell, many people's test of truth is to watch someone talking and decide for themselves if the speaker's sincere. As Malcolm Gladwell makes clear in Talking to Strangers, we're really, unbelievably bad at spotting liars. But more importantly, no matter how genuine someone is, that doesn't mean they know what they're talking about.
If only all the bright souls overwhelmed by speculative conspiracies would invest their time and attention into the actual conspiracies against humankind unfolding in front of our eyes, well, I think we'd live in a different world. To see vaccines funded by taxpayer money (in the form of public research funding and government purchase contracts) jealously guarded in the interest of private profit––with Big Pharma successfully lobbying governments in Canada and the European Union against a waiver on their intellectual property rights––is a clear, provable crime against humanity. As my Fleming roster-mate (and killer songwriter) Carsie Blanton wrote recently, "Pfizer and Moderna did not invent any vaccines - people did. And Pfizer and Moderna will not die of Covid - people will. And if Pfizer and Moderna were people - which they aren’t - what would we do with them? There are 2,673 Americans on death row right now for a lot less murder than that." I expected about as little from Joe Biden as I did from his old boss Barack Obama, but I was pleasantly surprised to see him buck the will of the corporations on this one. The vaccine makers' stocks lost value on the news. To my mind, that's all the proof we need that our decisions oughtta be guided by morals rather than markets.
It's been kinda surreal to see some pictures from festivals in Australia and New Zealand over the past while, and it's encouraging to think that live music is gradually coming back on this side of the world too, even if my stubborn fellow Albertans with their anti-lockdown rodeos and covid churches are currently racking up case counts among the worst in the world. My agent Lara has been lining up US tour dates for the fall, and there's still a possibility that I'll be in Australia in the new year, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, if anybody in Australia hasn't got their hands on Tangle of Souls yet, there are copies of both CD and vinyl at Sugar Sounds in Bega, NSW and the wonderful proprietor Greg would be more than happy to hook you up.
Oh, and we Indoorables just might be playing outdoors from a porch in Highlands May 21st, if Albertans can get their poop in a group by then! As always, all the details for all my shows, online or in the real world, can be found on www.scottcook.net.
Alright, I'm gonna leave it there, and hope to see you online next weekend. Love your loved ones, and never forget how lucky you are.