I have a few of them…from live theatre to wide open spaces. With “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin playing in the background – I am committing in writing to my top three guilty pleasures: coffee, songs and road-trips. But first, here is a quick snapshot of who I am, where I come from and where I am now…
I grew up in a small farming community in Zhoda, in southeastern Manitoba. I was raised by my Baba & Gido. I learned to care about family, to make friends (more than just acquaintances), to work hard, and to believe in community over self.
I have worked in the performing arts and this incredible industry has taken me to Banff, to Winnipeg, and to Vancouver. Along the way, I have been tempted to live and work in Edinburgh, Scotland and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I stepped away from the world of theatre and young audiences to find myself, once again, in the wilds of northwestern Ontario.
Since 2013, I have been happily ensconced at a craft brewing company, with the responsibility of developing and building a platform that focuses on community development. And, I have been lucky enough to work within my wheelhouse for the small municipality, that I call home – the Township of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls. Oh, and perhaps most importantly, I play, scheme and dream with my life partner – Mary Anne at Black Lake where we live off-the-grid with three dogs, Breyre (who is our blind and brave English Golden), Penny (who is big and kind, always kind) and Sofi (a rescue who is playful, busy, and sometimes bratty). Which brings me to today and guilty pleasures…
5 MOST MEMORABLE ROAD-TRIPS in no particular order
In a red Jeep with Terri Gillis at the wheel.
Point of Origin: Winnipeg, MB | Destination: Pembina, ND | Reason: Ice Cream
In a silver Ford Granada with Sheldon, Lucille, Landis and Kim
Point of Origin: Vita, MB | Destination: Swift Current, SK | Reason: Youth Edge Millar College of the Bible
In a silver Envoy with Mary Anne and Breyre Rabbit (our English Golden)
Point of Origin: Bowen Island, BC | Destination: Lincoln City, OR | Reason: Christmas on the Coast
In a forest green Land Rover with Mary Anne and Breyre Rabbit
Point of Origin: Bowen Island, BC | Destination: Sioux Narrows, ON | Reason: Going Home
In a maroon Cutlass Supreme with Mary Anne and Java
Point of Origin: Winnipeg, MB | Destination: Great Falls, MT | Reason: Summertime Fun
Looking back, the road-trips all take on singular pieces to the puzzle that is this thing called life; from first loves to coming-of-age moments to visiting with crazy coffee-loving, beer drinking, salt-of-the-earth cheesehead friends, who are more like family, in the state of Wisconsin. Indulge me for just one more minute and imagine a red jeep, traveling down a Prairie dirt road in the dog days of summer. It is dusk and for miles and miles, you see the night sky lit up by fires, burning stubble in the farmer’s fields, as we wind our way south to the border. For ice-cream. Enter the world of Gillis. I remember, Gillis and I went for ice-cream. Or maybe, just maybe it was for cartons of cheap American cigarettes – Wilsons, to be exact. In the good ol’ days, there would have been plumes of smoke rising up from the open roof-top of that red jeep, just as surely as there was smoke wafting across the roadways from the fires in the fields. I am sure we had a few tunes playing in the background, with I Want to Come Over by Melissa Etheridge being at the top of the playlist in the early 1990s and that brings me to my next guilty pleasure: songs.
SONGS. The truth of it – I am bad at this. Horrible, in fact. Ask anyone. I can hardly ever put together a lyric with the singer/songwriter. Well, maybe once in a very-blue-moon. I have some favourites, a few front-runners.
- Spirits by The Strumbellas
- Applejack by Dolly Parton
- Summer of 69 by Brian Adams
- Daniella Denmark by Jonathan Roy
- Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler
- My Love is Your Love by Whitney Houston
- 22 by Taylor Swift
- Mamma Mia by Abba
- Song of the Universal by Walt Whitman
Songs – take you to a place and time. Songs help you to re-set. Songs, also make you feel something, anything. Follow this link: Song of the Universal to listen, to wander, to think and to wonder. I think I marvel most that music, good music (like great theatre) can happen anywhere. A staged reading in the ruins of a long abandoned monastery. Or, perhaps in a school gymnasium with fluorescent lights raging overhead and school bells ringing. But what lives on – is the seared memory of actors in costume, with props and a set (that all packs up in crates to fit in a cargo van) telling a story like An Illustrated History of the Anishinabe by Ian Ross – challenging perceptions, breaking down barriers, changing and re-arranging. Sorry, I digress. Live music happens in public houses, on street corners, by the water’s edge, under tents, and inside big stadiums.
Ahhh. Guilty pleasures. Artful living. Good company. Road-trips. And, Coffee. It seems like we are in a crazy renaissance. Where craft matters. Where source matters. Where the cute ladd or lassie– roasting the beans – well that matters too. The roasting part.
I am partial to packaging and labels and great names. I am also keen on fair-trade, ethically sourced coffee. You know the kind. Where the grower, the farmer who tends to and cares for the actual bean is paired a fair fee for the coffee. I love, love, love cappuccinos, lattes, and café mochas. I have yet to find a flavoured shot, I did not like. Homemade syrups are the best. And, whenever I can – wherever I am, I try to find the little coffeehouse, the one with a story. The mom and pop shop where history and heritage play out from everything to the exposed brickwalls to the merchandise for sale to the coffee on the chalkboard menu. I am also a fan of Bean Around the World and yes, it is true Starbucks. I am drawn to its culture and its success. I am also big on Seattle, Washington and all things “west coast”, so the humble beginnings of Starbucks sings to me. So, too does the story behind its name. Google it. Just for fun. It has references to the sea and to a classic in terms of the literary world.
And, what goes better with coffee than books? Large, hard cover coffee table books. Or a paperback that you can read, while sitting in a comfy chair – in a coffeehouse, anywhere at anytime. If you are looking for history and heritage and how it weaves in and out of an independently owned coffeehouse – look no further than Broken Paddle Coffee.
This small coffee company is making a mark and looking to leave a legacy: staying true to its maritime roots; trying hard to source beans of superior quality; and making good on its pledge to keep the craft in coffee roasting. The coffeehouse is warm and welcoming – a kind of place you want to hang in when the sun is shining, the winter wind is blowing, or when it’s raining cats and dogs. In any season, it is a place to connect – to your True North and to one another. And, on that note, I am going to find a roadmap. I think – we will head south and east in the fall of 2017. I have playlists to create, coffeehouses to bookmark, and forks in the road to travel down.