Tuesday, December 6, 2022

December Letter, 2022


Good afternoon all - Checking in again, finally.

First up, an apology. I have not had much desire or interest in creating 'new work' over the past nine months since mum died. To be sure there's been grief, but also, settling her - and the residuals of dad's estate - has been very time consuming. 

Not only is my parents beautiful centuries-old farmhouse for sale now, but we (my brothers and me) have had to empty it. After 70 years of accumulation and family living, that's no easy task!

Stoneacres, the well-known house and property, has been chock-a-block with fascinating remnants of the bygone decades. Not only did we jettison dad's 40-year old electric jig-saw (made in Guelph, Ontario), but we've tossed toys, school clothing and home-making artifacts from our youth. We've also chucked numerous domestic devices mum accrued over the years, (like 3 ironing boards in various states of collapse - as well as metallic sock and kid-glove stretchers!)

In truth, it's been a somewhat painful process. Sure, those items are of little use or interest today. However, they do bring back loads of memories of a somewhat blissful and carefree childhood ... 

We did have a happy home as youngsters.

I was looking through mum's cookbook cupboard the other day. Nestled above the stove, those pine shelves hold an amazing compendium of books, magazine and articles she saved. They succinctly document her transformation from a dutiful, meticulous and ambitious 'housewife' to an independent and 'liberated' female who was finally 'released' from kitchen drudgery by the invention of the dishwasher and microwave oven. That's not to say, mum was a 'woman's liber'. She wasn't. But, inherent in the cultural evolution of the 60s, 70s and 80s, she went through her own feminine evolution. Over time, she became separated from the repetitive and dull tasks that had previously defined her principal 'role' within our family as 'the cook'.

When first married, mum brought the best of continental training to her kitchen. She'd been trained as a teen in the 'Domestic Sciences' at the Atholl Crescent School in Edinburgh, Scotland. (She won Honours in baking, linen repair and monogram stitching ...) Her first hand-written recipe book in the cupboard meticulously catalogued the early dinners she prepared for her new husband and herself as a newly-arrived war-bride to Canada. Entertaining 8 to 12 friends over busy social weekends was not uncommon. Her handwriting at that time was precise, neat and small. There's also a curious self-congratulatory tone in those early written recipes. Mum loved entertaining with semi-exotic souffles, spiced beef and 'cocktails'. After five years of war-rationing and deprivation, they were living up the good life in their mid-to-late 20s - and were proud of it. She'd write, "Very Good!!"

By the 1960s, after her third child, mum's recipe books transformed into a filing card system with quick and easy to prepare healthy meals for us all. Porridge recipes, chicken pot pies and hearty lamb stews. Her handwriting evolved too. It was looser, freer, more open - yet decidedly firmer and more mature. The entertaining novelty had worn off. She knew what she was doing and she just efficiently recorded what worked and what didn't.

Claw bathtub abandoned in orchard circa 1980s
 Overall, Mum was a very good cook. 

 I especially remember her delectable soups. She made a variety of delicious cold soups - from an exotic tomato-sipper consomme to a garden-grown cold and creamy asparagus. 

She worked hard in the kitchen - and she fed us all very well. 

When dad died, she began to lose interest in cooking. The last recorded recipe - in her by now strong and definitive hand - was from 2001: the year he died. It was for special Christmas cheese cookies she knew he liked. I could find nothing else - no notes, no cards, no clippings of any food that interested her after that. If family were visiting, she'd buy prepared frozen casseroles and toss a salad. Otherwise, she preferred a light diet of eggs cooked in a variety of different ways, raw vegetables, periodic fillets of fish and her favourite dessert, rice pudding with dollop of Lyle's Golden Syrup. And tea, always lots and lots of tea ...

... I was going to add more photos to this post, but haven't transferred over the images yet. I was just conscious I hadn't written in a while, and I wanted to let you all know, I've not forgotten or given up. I've just been very, very busy - sorting, packing & sorting through the rich legacy mum & dad left us. 

When I get the photos done, I'll load them in. Until then - 

Season's Very Best to You All. - Eat, Drink & Be Merry!

with nothing but Good Cheer for the New Year!

- mlh - 


Sunday, June 26, 2022

End of an Era: A Tribute to Mum

In mid-February of this year, my dear old mum died of natural causes. She was in her 96th year. By all accounts, she was holding up pretty well. But continued public and private restrictions re: COVID greatly curtailed her social interaction with those she loved most - her family and dear friends. 

Mum's engagement photo
During those two years of imposed isolation at the farm with limited  care-taking staff: in winter, we would gesture through the glass door, blowing kisses and holding up signs. In summer, through the screen door, we wore masks and gesticulated wildly. In the spring and fall, she would station herself at the back door wrapped in a blanket, so we could mouth our words to her. But in the end, it just wasn't enough. She was basically 'cut off' from us - her family. Personally, I believe it was this, the 'social isolation' from those she loved most, that did her in ...

Mum, by nature, a Gemini, was a very social creature. She LOVED entertaining - and being entertained. She always was the first to have a 'good story'. She loved to amuse others and make others laugh. 

She was also a phenomenal organizer. Over the years, she devoted herself to charity organizations, large and small. She was constantly giving, giving, giving - in order to make life better for others.

Mum, as a child in Dar-es-Salaam

 Over the past few months, I have been at the farm sorting through her things. For one so charitable and social, it is astounding how private she really was ...

Early photos of her life - before us - reveal a rare 'social exoticism' few would understand or even appreciate today. 

Mum grew up in colonial East Africa, the first born of a Scottish lawyer. Her childhood home was the former German Embassy in Dar-es-Salaam. That house was massive. 

Multiple images of mum with assorted house-help paint a striking picture of ease, prestige and privilege. Yet, mum only spoke of those early years with great warmth and affection. Ali, the head house man, her personal favourite, was her constant companion and, she always said, her friend. He taught her to converse in Swahili. (Periodically, even in her 90s, mum would drop in a phrase she learned from her childhood.)

One year, Ali carved a foot-high wooden soldier for her - to protect her on her journey through life ...

At the farm, decades later, that little foot soldier held open the door of my parents bedroom. 

When mum finally died, as was her wish, the little soldier, with his tattered, worn-out military cap, was placed in the coffin beside her. 

I never really understood that childhood connection until recently.


At eight, mum was shipped off to boarding school, (literally, by ship around the Cape of Good Hope.) From there she was shipped off again to England. 

During the Second World War, her father was involved with munitions and they re-settled in war-time London. 

When she, at seventeen, met dad, on shore-leave in England, it was love at first sight. They maintained a loving correspondence while he continued to roam and fight across Northern Europe in a tank. Their tender, youth-filled love-letters reflect that tumultuous near-forgotten era. 

Mum and dad were married in Edinburgh on her eighteenth birthday in 1945. 

Luther and Mary Margaret Holton

As a Canadian war-bride, mum's adjustment to a her new life in Canada - so far from all that she had known - was a bit bumpy at the start. No more metropolitan cities, no house servants, no more diplomatic privileges. 

Life after the war was earnest for most.

After several years in an shoe-box apartment, then a Hamilton town house, they bought a run-down farm house in Halton County, with no water or electricity. (Mum always said they bought it because it had stunning century-old Persian lilacs out-front.) 

Then, for the greater part of 70 years, they turned that rambling property into their dream home. Our home. 

Looking at the early photos of 'how-it-was' to 'what-it-has-become' is kind of mind-blowing. They both worked - and played - HARD to make it better for themselves, and for us, their children. They sacrificed, they scrimped, they saved, they invested. They did this - and much, much more - to create a 'good home' for us all. And, clearly, none of it was ever 'easy' ... 

Well done Mum! - Well done.  

We miss you. -- Every single day. 

Mum, masked, in her 96th year.


Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Greetings from Canadian Artist & Author, MLHolton

'Good Vibrations' by MLHolton, acrylic on canvas, 6'x20", 2021

Ok, 2022, here we come ....

... I painted the above, 'GOOD VIBRATIONS', at the tail end of 2021, to send to you all ... 2021 was, without a doubt, a very difficult pandemic year.

With growing proof the initial 'COVID19 virus' was man-made, we are now beholden to 'for-profit' Big Pharma to 'save us' from the mutating variants with more experimental pharmacology ... Talk about a perfect storm!!!

Yet, as long as COURAGE and HOPE remain, we CAN STOP the intentional, (or accidental), deployment of genetically-modified, gain-of-function viruses designed - for no other purpose - than bio-warfare.**

Sensible and compassionate human beings MUST stand-up for future generations against this reckless, unnatural and heavily-subsidized wickedness. -- What to do? Start by signing this ADVOCACY PETITION. Then, please, pass it on through your social media networks.


In other news ...

I'm very warmed by the positive response to my new short story ebook collection, STICKS and STONES released last fall. Originally written to offer solace to attentive readers during these troubled times, it is a very good introduction to the way - and why - I write. 

Set primarily in Canada, the stories explore delicate, yet deliberate, human interactions within families - between children, parents, adults and seniors. STICKS and STONES is now available as a paperback.

... It is my hope that the short stories will lead readers to the "epic" tri-family saga,TRILLIUM, set in the beautiful Niagara wine region ...

... and/or ... the 2020 Edition of The Gilded Beaver, a "well-crafted" 'faction' about an extraordinary Canadian fine furniture design commission for a wily Toronto-based financier.

Both novels are available in ebooks or paperbacks. TRILLIUM is now a stellar 14.5 hour audiobook - (best via iTunes!)

So, that’s it for now. :)

My plan this year includes more painting, writing and thinking about us all ... Trust me, that's plenty.

Stay Safe, Sensible & STAND UP!

Margaret - LINDSAY - Holton

Canadian. Artist & Author.  Proudly serving CANADADA since 1975. 

p.s. ATTN: Global CO-PRODUCERS: My 'pitch package' for the 9-part series, based on the award-winning, well-loved, Niagara-centric novel, TRILLIUM is ready to go! - Please contact me for a review copy. - Think interwoven Irish, Italian, Mexican, German & Canadian family dynamics playing out on two very different vineyards. A global Win-Win!

- - - 
**  AUXILIARY LINK via independent journalist Glen Greenwald

Monday, December 20, 2021

Year End Thoughts from MLHolton - 2021

Starting to wrap up the year now, 2021, the true year of COVID - the gain-of-function man-made plague that decimated the heart and soul of humanity ...

It became clear in the spring of this past year, many were having far greater difficulty adjusting to 'the new normal' than their jolly social media accounts let on. At one point, a person-to-person phone call, or zoom or face-time chat provided the only convivial human interaction so many desperately needed. We all know that this form of communicating wasn't and isn't 'perfect'. Video calls lack the sheer physical warmth of another human being in our churning electrical presence. We do need, most now realize, genuine living-breathing interaction with another fellow human for our mental, physical and emotional good health. We are social creatures, not typists.

To augment this, I completed two projects this year to help facilitate and bolster human discourse across a broader spectrum. You can read one or listen to one. The short story collection, STICKS and STONES, is available as an ebook for now and will soon be released as a paperback, in January of 2022. The album, GROUP THINK, came out last fall. (Links below.) It is a compilation of musical threads that I've been developing since 2017. Both projects have been produced under the looong shadow of COVID. Both intend to meet it, address it, and offer solace. I hope both efforts do assist others to get thorough this very challenging and transformative period. 

We, as a species, simply cannot go on as we have been doing. Mothership Earth just can't take it anymore, and neither, increasingly, and apparently, can we. 

We have to re-align. We have to re-think our relationship to the planet - and to each other.

This re-imagining has been variously - and often viciously - called the 'Great Reset', 'The Great Awakening', the 'Singularity' or the 'New Beginning', etc. All conjectures swing wildly from horrific dystopias to blissful utopias - with little reasonable or livable 'middle ground' in-between. Too many are manifesting 'all-or-nothing' catastrophic thinking. We've all been hyper-stimulated by our plugged-in devices to become the ascending 'stars' of our own burgeoning media empires. Everyone is now a King or Queen at the epi-centre of their Fiefdoms ... (ok, dramatic flourish. Call it what you will. You know what I mean.)  One thing for sure though, something far greater than the sum of our parts is taking hold of our sensitive psyches. 

This transformation is filling many with fear and dread. It is also filling many with great hope and courage. People everywhere are increasingly aware that humanity IS - gosh, darn it - a global family. And, as such, we increasingly understand we all have responsibilities towards each other. Thus, it no longer makes sense to devastate an entire eco-system in one corner of the globe to prop-up consumption in another. It just isn't viable anymore. Paternalistic and exploitative colonialism, as we've long known it, is over. 

However, as is evident, this generational transition will not be easy. When an old order falls away, a new order will take its place. For now, the problems decimating the current era are manifold. There is no 'easy fix'. Not one nationalistic elitist group has all the answers to the questions. Die-hard free-market libertarians or staunch communistic oligarchies under dictatorial rule do not have a pat single solution. In fact, the whole idea of 'nation states' is collapsing. In their place, tech giants, with market support from savvy global investors, are surpassing the GNP of many middle-sized countries. The techies are taking over accepted mainstream media, local political theatre and increasingly, even the basic mechanics of banking. It's a new and unprecedented phenomenon - and we are all witness to it.

What can - and should - make a sustainable difference moving forward is our very personal and individual capacity to empathize. We do need much more compassion at this moment than we need destruction. We need to rally and support each other, not isolate from each other behind cellphones, tablets and screens. We need to be better humans IN PERSON.

We can all do it. - Do it small. Do it daily. Do it neighbour to neighbour. Village to village. Town to town. City to City. Tribe to Tribe. Nation to Nation. We can all put our best and bravest foot forward. 

Sticks & Stones: Table of Contents
Simply put, we can no longer shirk our global responsibilities as caretakers of ourselves and the planet. Nor can we allow ourselves to continue on as 'beasts of burden' for unscrupulous soul-sucking over-lords. We need to stand our ground and not let loud, belligerent or moneyed bullies take advantage of our fundamentally Good Natures. 

Instead, we must strive to be forthright, sincere - and fair with each other. Above all - we must be kind. Mano o mano. oh, and humor helps. Use humor. Now. Get outside of your silo.


If you do have a moment after all that, perhaps you will consider my new short story collection - (it makes a Great Gift to PASS ON) - or my new album. I did do both of them for YOU - to help all of us get through.

1. GROUP THINK ALBUM - download here.

2. STICKS and STONES: 10 Canadian Short Stories

Season's Greetings: with a Merry Christmas to All!!!

Here's to a healthy & happier New Year  - Keep in touch!

M. Lindsay Holton  - Canadian Artist/Author 

(p.s. And add this insightful hour-long film to your 'watch later' list ... then, Pass it on)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Midlife Musings: On Fire - and Tea, Toast & Trivia

Two opportunities arose recently that offered unique platforms to share several thoughts about the aging process, particularly from a mature female perspective. The first was the opportunity to submit a non-fiction essay/story to a book publication about the challenges I faced while working UP into 'A Man's World'. The second was an opportunity to discuss the broader holistic perspective that a woman does gain with age. 

The first, 'Midlife on Fire',  shares the perspective from 20 women who really do 'tell-it-like-it-is', for better and worse. A mature woman, with a wealth of lived experience, does have an enhanced ability to evaluate both positive and negative circumstances. For those who'll consider it, older women offer a lot of quiet wisdom to an evolving humanity. 

The second opportunity was as a  guest on the 'Tea, Toast and Trivia' podcast, hosted by the ever-affable Rebecca Budd from Vancouver. Rebecca and I chatted about a wide range of topics, and touched on the aging process. How do older dames stay 'grounded' in a world that seems increasingly 'adrift'? Have a listen here.

There is plenty of discussion on social media these days about 'the patriarchy'. In my wide-eyed youth, in the late 1950s and 1960s, I was well aware of this reality, but, (aside from my own observations of how men did seem to hold greater monetary power everywhere), little was done or said amongst my female peers to challenge or usurp this entrenched 'authority'. - 'It was just Life. It was just the way things were'. (As an aside: I never did resonate with my early indoctrination in Christianity with its dominating Holy Trinity who were completely devoid of anything to do with 50% of the species .... ie. the Feminine! - What's up with that??!)

Well, seemingly, we've come a long way, sisters ... 

Today, regardless of the congratulatory noise and media hype, the primary issue between women and men continues to be: 'equal-pay-for-equal-work'. The rest of the hype, to my mind, is somewhat irrelevant. (As example, it is impossible to equate the innate upper body strength of men to the innate pelvic design of women. We are simply constructed differently. Biological Fact. The unfortunate and diverting fall-out from many of the bold and current challenges to 'the patriarchy' has been the wide-spread invention of numerous 'sexual identities' across a wide 'sexual spectrum' ... Good grief: what a a waste of energy!) -- Why? Because the primary issue continues to be - Economic Parity - 'equal-pay-for-equal-work'. Women have still got some ways to go on this front. Working women continued to be paid far less than men for EQUAL WORK.* Until women, (and the wonderful men who support working women), get this equation sorted out, we all continue to exist within 'the patriarchy.' When the data and statistics change, we're making progress. Until then, it's just more distracting noise as far as I am see ...

Pick up MIDLIFE on FIRE HERE-- And listen in to Rebecca's and my chat on Tea, Toast & Trivia HERE. (Available as well on Audible, Spotify, iTunes, iheartradio, etc.)  Enjoy!


* https://canadianwomen.org/the-facts/the-gender-pay-gap/

*  https://data.oecd.org/earnwage/gender-wage-gap.htm

Thursday, October 21, 2021


Design and Made by Nusi Quero

As a practicing artist of 40+ years, it is very seldom that another artist comes along who innovates beyond the known-conventions of ‘making art’. When one does, other artists, regardless of their discipline, immediately sit up and take notice. It’s the sheer audacious ORIGINALITY of that hitherto unknown creator that shines like a beacon …

Predominately, there are two principal artistic modes used for interpreting ‘reality’ – realism and abstraction. For those determined to relay what their eyes see outside of themselves, the on-going aim is to meticulously recreate perceived objects in Time and Space.  For those determined to relay what they feel and think about assorted IDEAS in Time and Space, explorations - (using assorted mediums, methods and geometry) - are quintessential until the finished ‘abstraction’ resonates with the artist. Both are now accepted means of ‘interpretation’ that articulate the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ worlds that we all inhabit. Examples follow:

When an artist, especially a young one, suddenly emerges BETWEEN these two ‘disciplines’, it’s really worth a second look.  

Grimes' 'tattoo'

Nusi Quero is the name ...

... and ‘fractal-generated fluidity’ seems to be his game.

This Floridian-born, California re-settled, lapsed-graffiti-artist and former architectural student first came to my attention a month ago when he was linked to Elon Musk’s punky-goth wife, Grimes, as a collaborator on her nasty-looking back tattoo. 

That body marking, in and of itself, did nothing for me  -  BUT - I was intrigued by the ‘realistic precision’ of that scarring ‘abstraction' ... 

I began to investigate further …

Currently, Nusi Quero is experiencing some global acclaim within a fringe of the ‘haute fashion’ world as a bold innovator who sculpts what are essentially bodice garments onto nubile nymphs. The ‘garments’ themselves are provocative, bizarre - and titillating. Well-placed luxurious metal swirls amplify the seductive curvatures of the female forms. Some bodices border on a kind of kinky S&M ritualism. However, the garments really are applied-sculptures that revere an idealized female form with a new kind of mythical power and potency. They bespeak of a new interpretation of the ‘female form’ that jettisons it FORWARD as a harbinger of an evolving ‘futuristic imperialism’. These  fetish-ized girls are generally portrayed as alluring bejeweled nymphs - (often with exceptionally long “I-don’t-use-my-hands-for-anything-except-theatrics” fingernails). These dazzling damsels are seldom depicted as mature QUEENS in any sense of the word. Rather, they are crafted as seductive PRINCESSES. (That’s a small jejune flaw that can be rectified, or built upon, later.)

Empress Mask by Nusi Quero - $8000

Inherent to Quero’s exuberant extravagance is a demanding 'cry for attention', not only the wearer, but for the artist himself. 

Quero definitely wants seduced viewers to RESPOND to the intricate perfection that exudes from these stylized creations. The body-cladding certainly does elicit ‘shock & awe’.

For myself, (as a mature and elderly women within the field), as much as I do find Quero’s execution and interpretations both exceptional and extraordinary, I sincerely hope that he doesn’t stop here and become forever snared in the fidgety world of ‘fashion’. There is a very unique and emerging talent in this young man that could EXPLODE onto much greater and dynamic ‘social’ art works.

This young fella has oodles of talent. The question is: can he step-it-up to step-out of his current interest in vapid Game-of-Thronesy punky-baroque 'elitism' and enter other artistic realms that manifest his evolving understanding of the FUSION of the two primary disciplines of ‘realism’ and ‘abstraction’? 

If he can, and if he does, he could well become the in-demand Julie Taymor of his generation - or even GREATER ... Definitely ‘One-to-Watch.'

Follow  - Nusi Quero - on Instagram, his preferred platform.  Read his 'voice' in links 1 & 2 below. Link 3 has been posted on his Twitter account, it's a mind-blowing clip!

1. http://www.cor-mag.com/2020/12/21/nusi-quero/

2. https://expo156.tumblr.com/post/618713572514643968/the-ornament-of-our-enigmatic-desires-interview

3. "Multi-track audio-reactive body-dysmorphia-simulator DEMO" - You definitely want to see this clip! 


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

5-Star Book Review: STICKS and STONES by MLHolton

Thrilled by this first formal book review by the former CEO of the Art Gallery of Burlington of my new short story collection, STICKS and STONES, published in The Bay Observer in Hamilton, a former print and now fully on-line news resource for the Greater Hamilton Area. 

STICKS and STONES will be available as an ebook on Oct 16th via Amazon and non-Amazon platforms. A paperback is coming in the Spring of 2022. 

Here are Mr. Steven's choice words: 

Sticks and Stones, the new collection of previously unpublished short stories by prominent Burlington-born artist/writer/filmmaker Margaret Lindsay Holton, is surprisingly unsettling.

That it would be unsettling is no surprise: the author clearly articulates in the introduction her objective to entice readers away from their settled beliefs and ideological certainties into unfamiliar cognitive spaces in the hope that more empathetic and fluid communication might develop across today’s social and political divides.

The surprise is in just how many different and unexpected ways Holton finds to destabilize the inherent cognitive bias of the reader. Poetic word choices, plot twists, and shifts in perspective are to be expected in the short story format, but Holton combines and recombines these with familiar settings and seemingly familiar characters to the point that even the most ordinary scenes can become hallucinatory experiences.

Holton’s sensibility as a visual artist is evident in the extraordinary number of indelible images that these stories evoke. However, I feel I must refrain from describing in too much detail any of these striking moments lest their impact within the reading be diluted.

The collection includes ten stories, mostly set in the Golden Horseshoe region. Some are simple and touching sketches, some involve fantasy and romance, and some are disturbingly puzzling, while others are puzzlingly disturbing. To reveal more would just spoil the fun.

Although these stories are all newly completed, Holton explains in the introduction how their original drafts were written at various stages over the past forty years, and how the experience of the 2020/21 pandemic inspired her to revisit these works. These reworked stories resonate deeply in this period of isolation and uncertainty. They evolve with a kind of organic accuracy that amplifies an on-going contemplation of the grandeur and significance of the passage of time. (Worth noting, this ability to ‘mark time’ parallels her deft handling of multiple generations throughout her 2019 award-winning novel, TRILLIUM, a 250-year epic saga set in the Niagara Peninsula.)

Sticks and Stones offers the reader an insightful glimpse of the aesthetic voice of Margaret Lindsay Holton. It rewards the reader with several enduring images and provokes profound questions as it subtly reflects on the beauty, horror, heroism, and hubris of our shared experience, especially during this unprecedented pandemic. It is a good read. I highly recommend it.

Ebook, 107 pgs. - Paperback, 126pgs, - via Acorn Press Canada.

Pre-order e-book on Amazon – https://www.amazon.ca/Sticks-Stones-Canadian-Short-Stories-ebook/dp/B09DTRYCGZ   - Paperback coming January, 2022.


Robert Steven is former President and CEO of the Art Gallery of Burlington, and the former Executive Director and Curator of the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie.