Pat Blythe – Contemplative weeding… man…..and music

The goal for today (Tuesday); get up early and dedicate a couple of hours to what I laughingly refer to as the back garden. So here I am having a war of weeds with Mother Nature. She’s insistent they need to have a place to grow and I vehemently disagree. Unfortunately, I think she’s winning this one.

Weeding is actually a peaceful, cathartic, even catatonic chore….at least externally. I go inwards as the wheels start to turn in my brain. Working outdoors puts everything on pause and gives me time for thoughtful contemplation. Music plays in the background more like a distant hum until a specific song catches my ears. It may remind me of someone or somewhere and I go deeper. I reflect on all the relationships in my life….past and present. All those who are central in my life now as well as those who continue to be a part of my life story. I examine all the intricacies of the various individual relationships; the ebb and flow, the guessing and the knowing, the learning and the growing, the meeting and the parting and sometimes I cry.

I suppose weeding is a good metaphor. As people drift in and out of our lives, we nurture those we wish to keep close, constantly spreading the seeds, encouraging new sprouts while we feed and water the mother plant. Some we allow to gently float out of reach like the tufts of the dandelion, to follow their own path. Others that may not be healthy for us tend to root deeply and quickly. We need to tug and dig to remove them, occasionally leaving part of the root behind, a memory scar.

Two hours turn into four, and it’s only when my stomach protests and my back warns me if I dare pluck one more weed it promises to snap me in half.  I tend to move from one area to another as the little devils catch my eye. I lose my gloves, then the clippers, then the hand shovel…..I know my phone is around here somewhere because the music is still playing. My backyard is the size of an international postage stamp, how can I possible lose anything??!! Time to go in.


I’ve started working on a new writing project. Shakura S’Aida calls it an introspection/retrospection. It’s also about reconnection. While social media is filled with bedroom, bathroom, dining room, kitchen and backyard jams and the odd sing along, l fear too many are getting lost in the shuffle. There’s too much choice. Everyone is vying for the same air time. You’ve got five minutes here, ten minutes there, oops you missed one….it’s a back-and-forth game that I soon tire of. Understandably, everyone wants to contribute something, to stay relevant and remain in the game. Me…..I’m missing the connections because, quite frankly, I don’t “feel” it through a screen. A good friend named his company Live Is All You Need. I couldn’t agree more!

I had an idea that sort of percolated up and fired off a few synapses. After talking to a few trusted friends I decided to proceed. I wanted to find out what some of those people I’ve been taking photos of for the past five years are doing, how they’re coping, where they were supposed to be right now… reach out and connect with them. Many have decided to stay away from the “airwaves”, weary of feeling pressured to perform to empty rooms. With no venues there is no live music. I miss them, the vibrancy, the nightclub cacophony of sounds, the vibes, taking photographs, the pure joy and release of the music…..but mostly I miss the connections.

This will be their stories of 2020…..the year that wasn’t.

Music man……

It’s been six days since I received word a close friend had listened to his last Beach Boys song. I haven’t said much and I won’t here. Actually, I don’t really know what to say. This loss was particularly close to home and if one more person says “we’re all getting to that age”…..!!!!  There is no “that age” when we lose anyone. It doesn’t hurt any less whether you’re 6, 16 or 60.

God Only Knows – Beach Boys

Greg Simpson, my friend of 45 years, passed away June 10 after suffering a series of strokes. He had just become Chairman of The Great Lakes Blues Society and was working on a project for his TAFT series. Greg had a tremendous impact on so many lives…..his countless friends, his three daughters whom he adored, his siblings, and for the music industry at large. He was one of those people who imprints on your brain and you never forget. He was a force and his fuel was music. He absorbed it like a sponge, physically, mentally and emotionally.

One of my favourite photos I took of Greg. He was so thrilled when he discovered the Wurlitzer. Our stop at Coombs Old Country Market, better known as Goats On A Roof.

Personally, Greg has left me with many wonderful memories, more recently our 10-day trek across Vancouver Island to attend the Vancouver Island Music Festival, our detour to Telegraph Cove, Coombs and Goats on a Roof, the many stops heading back down to Duncan to catch a mutual friend, Sarah Smith, perform with her band at the 39 Day Music Festival, the incredible recording of Bill Durst we listened to at Longevity John’s theatre… was an incredible visit and we packed so much in.

Thank you Greg. You loved large. You will be missed, my friend.

A rather eclectic mix of tunes which follows my mood at the time of writing (with a nod to Greg). jThere is so much going on around the globe and in my own personal sphere as well.

Good Vibrations – Beach Boys

The Guest – Loryn Taggart

Divine Astronaut – Whither

Happy People Dancing on Planet Earth

A video of hope!

Chariots of Fire – Vangelis

Underdog – Alicia Keys

Find the Cost of Freedom – Crosby, Still, Nash and Young

The World I Know – Collective Soul

Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves

I Am I Said – Neil Diamond

Chandelier – Sia (Read the Lyrics)


Photograph of Greg Simpson ©2015, 2020 Pat Blythe A Girl With A Camera


Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

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dbawis-button7“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence —  33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat little-red-headed-dancing-girlalso worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance! 

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