Okay, well, maybe justice and prejudice are related, but really I say this now because I am delaying the moment when I have to write about serious things.
Today hasn’t shaped up the way I was expecting it would. I was trying to figure out how to write something about Martin Luther King Jr. and then Dolores O’Riordan died.
Well, that’s not really a topic of justice. It only adds to my blue mood on Blue Monday as it stands.
I relate to the fight for racial justice, in that I can take my disability and think how discrimination manifests. Still, the subject is a sensitive one, as it should be.
It’s like the reconciliation discussion I learn about, with Indigenous Peoples, daily, here in Canada and in other places, all over the world. I am just sad, sad we haven’t come far enough and in some cases, have slid backwards with time.
This is the type of writing that evolves and changes throughout a day. I started this (mid month Monday) thinking about how to address MLK Day.
I’ve spent most of today lamenting the death of a one-of-a-kind voice in music, and I’m ending it by watching a documentary I have known about for months about writer James Baldwin, being shown on PBS.
I haven’t read his stuff and I know very little about him to be honest. I do know that these issues of rights, of where privilege lies, and on how to fight oppression and for justice, are bound to be found throughout Baldwin’s doc, in his own words, years before I was born.
He watched the young girl try to attend school and be spit on, chiding himself for not being there to help her.
Disgust and anger. How to move past this and into making it all better?
Baldwin didn’t miss America while he was in Paris. He didn’t miss it, but he did miss his family and his culture.
MLK knew he wasn’t likely to live long to see any sort of change.
It is painful for James to return, though he is home again.
James Baldwin said: The line between a witness and an actor is a fine one.
This feels so intensely true right now.
So poignant all these years later.
All about class and culture and race and so many other classifications I cannot seem to parse.
James did not stay, as witness. He was free “to write the story and get it out.”
He saw Martin and Malcolm X both go and he wrote about it.
Malcolm, Martin, martyrs both. Baldwin was the writer.
He writes: I Am Not Your Negro
How to reconcile any of this?
And so goes the clicking of the typewriter’s keys.
If you get the chance, watch I Am Not Your Negro.
Things sure have changed, since last century, but we writers still will write.
The story of America,” Baldwin said, “is not a pretty story.” “Aimless hostility.”
It was a slow day And the sun was beating On the soldiers by the side of the road There was a bright light A shattering of shop windows The bomb in the baby carriage Was wired to the radio
These are the days of miracle and wonder This is the long distance call The way the camera follows us in slo-mo The way we look to us all
The way we look to a distant constellation That’s dying in a corner of the sky These are the days of miracle and wonder And don’t cry baby, don’t cry Don’t cry
It was a dry wind And it swept across the desert And it curled into the circle of birth And the dead sand Falling on the children The mothers and the fathers And the automatic earth
“The Boy in the Bubble” discusses starvation and terrorism, but mixes this with wit and optimism. Simon concurred with this assessment: “Hope and dread – that’s right. That’s the way I see the world, a balance between the two, but coming down on the side of hope.”
Hope and dread. Hope and dread. Hope and dread. These things run through my head…my head…my head.
My nephew is learning so many new things at school, even already after his first few weeks.
How do I know this?
The other night at dinner he started asking about carrots and how they grow, in the earth, from seeds. Such a basic concept of a lovely natural process.
Seeds planted. Something growing, sprouting up, from once there was only dirt under foot.
I am thankful for all the time I got to spend with my aunt.
Her life is a mystery to me. I get stuck on trying to imagine it. I only knew her for the last few decades of her life.
She was my father’s half sister. She was born in Europe during World War II. She came here to Canada, all by herself. I will forever wonder about all that.
The last time I saw her, as herself, she had made the trip to her mother’s funeral. We didn’t think she would come, for several reasons, but she came and I was nervous to give my tribute to my oma, whose relationship with her daughter was different from ours.
I hugged my aunt, after a day at the graveside, and an evening reminiscing about the life Oma lived, all of us sitting on the deck, around a table. I hugged her and left.
The next time she would have faced tumour treatments, her brain badly effected. She clung to me, our last real moment of contact, and one more familial thread is lost..
Without my parents making a decision to introduce us, I would never have known her mighty spirit.
I am thankful for the light chatter of young voices on a hard day of reality confronted.
On the night we received the news, I heard a one-year-old playing lovingly with her doll (all thanks to WhatsApp) and I interrupted a family in the middle of their beloved spaghetti dinner.
I needed to hear these little people, to remember that there are beginnings as well as those endings we wish would never come.
Na na na na na na na na Max Man!
Thanks to speaker phone, we discussed colours, what we want to be when we grow up, and what our favourite foods are.
I sat back, listening to my niece describe all manner of shades of many many colours. I needed that just then.
I am thankful for a world attempting to live more peacefully.
Justin Trudeau spoke about what “Canada has gotten right, not perfect.” That we believe diversity brings us strength to fight hatred and violence.
With all the meetings of UN in New York through the week, I listened to several speeches, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau in particular. All still so complicated. Peace exists in pockets. I just happen to live in one of those at the moment. No guarantee it will always be that way.
I am thankful for another educational Ken Burns PBS documentary.
I was unaware of the story of this couple.
I am thankful for a room full of writers
I had a question about writing, about the writing journey we’re all on, and I thought who better to bring it to than that select group of people. They are just learning as they go along, just like me, and I wanted their take on a particular situation I’ve gotten myself into.
Their input did not totally squelch my concerns, but we did have a lively discussion about writing contests and when a scam is a scam. I did not want to bring down the other writer in the group to have received good news like myself. He may choose to go a different way with it, but I am still undecided. We all want our writing to have a chance out there in the wider world.
This sort of thing is not visible to me anymore as such, but just hearing this scientist’s enthusiasm made me believe in the hope of all that magic to be found, especially in the ocean.
I am thankful for the perfect autumn weather.
Thursday was nearly thirty degrees. It was humid but yet there was a coolish breeze, enough to make a meal out on a patio still rather lovely. Yep, there was at least one bee this time, but not on me. Not that I knew of anyway.
I wasn’t having a great week. I was feeling unwell and having more computer troubles. I wanted the first day of fall to feel like fall.
By Friday the temperature had dropped ten degrees or more. I was in Heaven. Fall had arrived.
I am thankful for speedy and readily available medical care for myself and for those I love.
I felt lousy, but I needed blood taken and tested. I got it. Results available online now and oh how far we’ve come, to be able to check our own blood levels, without having to ask any doctor.
Then my family needs treatment for chronic medical conditions, tests run to check out symptoms, diabetes, and diet changes are called for. Hopefully those I love can remain healthy and live for a long time still.
I am thankful for a lovely day on the go.
It began at a secondhand store. Not exactly my kind of place, as I have a strange aversion to old, used things. I am also drawn to their stories. My sister was shopping for maternity clothes, not as easy as it sounds.
We kept my nephew occupied in the halloween decorations section, specifically interested in a doorbell with an eye that opened and and a voice that cackled.
We had lunch at a “pizza store” as my four-year-old nephew refers to it. All you can eat, but still we ate thin crust pizza, to stick, as close as we possibly can, to our diets and health restrictions.
Then I had my violin lesson. Brahms’ lullaby, played for me on piano and violin, so hopefully I can master the entire song by next March.
I went, with my brother and a few people, to attend a bit of speaking about video game production and radio.
This guy, the one with the website, he has been on a Toronto radio station for years. My brother listened to his radio programs. We heard he was visiting and we decided to go and listen to what he had to say.
Finally, we walked downtown, a Beatles festival happening, and capped off the day with a relaxing glass of wine and delicious dessert on a patio and then a cup of coffee, latte, before I felt a sore throat coming on dampen my mood. Nothing could truly dampen my first Saturday of fall.
I am thankful for an album, which becomes an experience in itself.
This album was brought back to my attention, but this week it has great value, in its overall feeling of hope and peace.
It is a magical record, full of the voice of Paul Simon, but yet with a distinctly African tone. Anyone who has never heard it has been missing out.
These days albums in their entirety are all but extinct. Songs that stand alone are what gets the public’s attention. This album, named for a tourist attraction, a musical and cultural icon of a place, a spiritual experience for some, that is what this album is for me.
It’s a collection of songs, taking me on travels, experiences of sorts, to a place called Africa, where my young self couldn’t imagine. This album was playing in our house, thanks to my father, and this can clearly be heard on an old home movie when I was three.
There was the almost mystical affection and strange familiarity I felt when I first heard South African music. Later, there was the visceral thrill of collaborating with South African musicians onstage. Add to this potent mix the new friendships I made with my band mates, and the experience becomes one of the most vital in my life. block quote level 1block quote level 1
I did not want to visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, so much as I wanted to learn about South Africa, about the troubles and the ruining of lives Apartheid caused, when I was too young to realize, when the concept of black and white wasn’t something I thought anything about. Now I think about it often. No superiority. No ranking of human life.
What was unusual about Graceland is that it was on the surface apolitical, but what it represented was the essence of the antiapartheid in that it was a collaboration between blacks and whites to make music that people everywhere enjoyed. It was completely the opposite from what the apartheid regime said, which is that one group of people were inferior. Here, there were no inferiors or superiors, just an acknowledgement of everybody’s work as a musician. It was a powerful statement. block quote level 1block quote level 1
Graceland transcended racial and cultural barriers. ” Graceland was never just a collection of songs, after all; it was a bridge between cultures, genres and continents, not to mention a global launching pad for the musicians whose popularity been suppressed under South Africa’s white-run apartheid rule,” said Andrew Leahey of
American Song Writer.
I don’t know how much of a lot of Canadian music always makes it out of Canada sometimes, but the big news here this past week is the announcement that a nationwide musical icon has been diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer. I just figured I would share one of my favourite songs from Gord and his band. I learned something new and interesting about the origin of the song “Courage” and it seems apt.
I know I have looked to these lyrics, searching for courage at different times in my own life, and now it appears courage “couldn’t come at a worse time” for Downie.
Here’s what I learned about a Canadian writer who inspired “Courage” the hit song:
I honestly, sometimes, feel I really don’t deserve them as my mother and father. This was brought home to me in a big way this week.
I was on the phone with my mother early in the week about something. When I hung up, I found myself feeling emotional about how they have always looked out for me, in both big and small ways, and how even now they are preparing for the future. It is a hard thing for me to think about sometimes, how much they have had to worry about me, but that’s how life goes. I can’t fully express, as we’re in the middle between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, still upcoming.
For that ability to turn on my AC when spring suddenly makes the leap into summer earlier than one might have expected.
I guess it’s like PBS or something, but again, this one would be something only those living in Ontario, Canada would likely be aware of.
I watched this channel since I was a kid and now I watch it for so many fascinating nature, science, social issue and travel documentaries. I love a lot of their historical programs. I learn a lot, as far as media goes, from TVO.
For the sharing of ideas that make me better and believe I deserve to strive for more in my own life.
This woman’s words made me cry because I’ve felt out-of-place too, many many times in my life, but I still want to believe I will figure out where I fit in.
For hash tag Greatertorontoday and the good deeds that were done.
All across the city of Toronto, for one day, acts of kindness were done for others. I would hope this isn’t just a one shot sort of a thing, that it could go on for more than just one single day, but it was nice to hear the reporter on the Toronto news reading the Tweets from the random acts of kindness that were happening.
My feelings on Toronto as a city run deep, but I know it has a great respect around the world, for its multiculturalism. I hope this, in itself, helps people to realize we are all human and deserve the same kindnesses shown to us all.
For gestures put forth and peaceful acts, amongst so much nasty rhetoric and angry attitudes throughout the world.
First, mid week, it was nice to see Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, taking one day off during his trip to Japan, to celebrate his anniversary with his wife.
Many thought this worth commenting on, criticizing, but I was glad to see that he values his relationship with his wife, while still performing his duties for Canada.
But then came the real uproar, at the end of the week, when President Obama visited the site of the bombings, on Japan, at the close of World War II.
Misinformation spread like wildfire, that he was offering an apology. He was simply pausing, at a place of great significance and destruction, while already in the country on official business.
It was the respectful thing to do. I know all the arguments, I realize I didn’t have loved ones directly affected by Pearl Harbor, but I know when peace is called for. I’m thankful he made the gesture.
For several more steps forward in the planning and execution of this podcast idea with my brother.
We did a trial run and it was not bad, but I couldn’t truly focus until I was happy with the name and then my brother’s friend reminded us of something memorable, an image that comes to his mind when he thinks of our family: Ketchup on pancakes.
That’s right. It’s a family favourite around here, for breakfast, or whenever.
Our podcast is officially “Ketchup On Pancakes”.
So now we think we’ve figured out the microphone issues, settled on a catchy name, and have begun a proper outline for our introductory episode. We hope to record next week. I am excited and just hope my brother doesn’t get sick of me too quickly, as I can actually see this podcast going somewhere in time.
For a rebounding, a super positive, as in my latest violin lesson.
Sometimes, you’re just not feeling it. Other times, everything, the energy in the room, it seems to flow and I leave feeling super pumped about this choice to learn to play the violin at thirty-two years old that I’ve made.
That was the difference between the previous lesson, as I prepared to play Happy Birthday for my sister and this latest lesson, where I felt I could handle it, whatever it may be, and I took in every single word and concept my teacher explained to me.
For the support (past, present, and future) of audacious women writers, editors, dreamers who make their dreams come true and who show me guidance and kindness along the way.
Every week, twice a week, I read one particular website religiously. I have been trying to get a feel for the sorts of essays they publish, in the hopes of writing one. I have the idea all ready to go and again, this week, I came across one essay and it spoke to me, being about a similar topic.
Well, the editor of the site has been supportive of me submitting (actually resubmitting, as I was rejected early on, but feeling more and more confident to try again), as she seems to be encouraging me to give it another shot.
And, of course, there is my long developing support from an editor who reads my blog occasionally, who has followed my progress, and sounded intrigued about the podcast.
Canada has lost two icons, in the last two weeks. This is my tribute to them both: Lois and Jonathan.
Lois Lilienstein, dies at age 78
Sharon, Lois, and Bram were a part of my childhood.
Sure, I wasn’t a huge fan of the giant, silent elephant, but I did watch the three performers and I liked their songs.
Somewhere in between Polka Dot Door and Today’s Special.
The Elephant Show was full of skits and songs and it was always there, seemingly just there, in the background of my early years.
It was comforting like home.
The theme song is unforgettable for anyone who has ever heard it.
“Love you in the morning and in the afternoon. Love you in the evening and underneath the moon.”
The folky sounding music they sang together made them some of the best children’s performers around. They volunteered for certain children’s events, such as appearing where I saw them, met them, and had my photo taken with them.
I was a teenager by this time, but my brother and I had both received kidney transplants at Sick Children’s Hospital in downtown Toronto.
We were at a celebratory event, one afternoon, in the hospital’s main atrium. We posed with Sharon, Lois, and Bram by the cake.
Then, as I grew, I’d long since outgrown kid’s shows and soon what became important to me was what made me proud to be Canadian, with the development of my love for my country’s literary history.
I was shocked, last week, when I first read, in my news feed for Facebook…
Jonathan Crombie, dies at age 48
This was the last thing I was expecting.
There’s always a certain obvious morbidity in my mind, as one celebrity dies and I already start thinking, I wonder who the next one will be to pass away.
Jonathan Crombie was only forty-eight and died, a few days before the official announcement, from a brain hemorrhage.
Right away I felt a sickening feeling inside.
He was Gilbert Blythe. He “was” the role. He WAS that character.
I knew the PBS mini series before I really read the books. It all came to life for me, on screen, with the descriptive video I received in the mail in the late nineties.
Most girls had their prince charming, Disney prince of their choice. I had Gil. He was what an ideal male would be. He became the ideal for me.
Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe always reminded me of my grandparents, right from the first time I became truly aware of their love story.
I never thought I would be writing about why this character means to me what he does, not for this reason. I had assumed it would come up eventually, here or somewhere else, but that I would talk about the significance of Anne and Gilbert or Gil himself, as an upbeat writing on my favourite literature.
I didn’t think, couldn’t predict I would be writing about what Jonathan’s role as Gil meant to me, not as a tribute to the life lived by the man behind the beloved Canadian literary character, at the time of his premature death.
But here we are.
I don’t know exactly what Jonathan felt about his time playing Gilbert. I would assume he realized what that role meant to people like me. I read he would often answer to “Gil”, but whether or not this is true I can not say.
I do know he played the role of Gilbert for all three movies. He started as a fairly young guy in the eighties.
He was the son of David Crombie, Mayor of Toronto, long before Ford would make the position famous for so many other things.
Jonathan performed on the stage, Shakespearean roles, at the Stratford Festival Theatre.
I wish I could have seen him in that role, as a bit of a variation from Montgomery’s character. Just a small variation of course.
Jonathan would return, years after his original debut as Gil, when the third Anne film was made, at the start of this new century.
It was a bit of a shock, to me in that moment, when I first saw him again. He was older, obviously, his voice having changed a fair bit from what I’d known it to sound like.
He pulled off a whole new, more serious role this time, going off to perform medical officer duty in a retelling, of sorts, of a story from World War I and I was newly impressed by where he would take that character.
It was a bit of a stretch from Montgomery’s original writing, but I wouldn’t read more of the books until several years later.
Of course, none of this would have happened if it weren’t for L.M.’s brilliant creation of the great love story of Gilbert and Anne, but Jonathan brought the character to life in ways I will never forget.
It was the way Crombie pulled off the deep and unwavering devotion and dedication to Anne and his pure love for her. I envied it. I only dreamt that anyone, in my real life, could or would ever love me like that.
Even as an old-fashioned story, theirs is a fictional love story that didn’t have lots of drama and back-and-forth, at least not for him. He played always his part, Gilbert Blythe, the cool, calm, and collected gentleman. The chivalrous doctor that once was a love-sick schoolboy.
Nothing, betrayed in that character, seemed to react. They took a sombre period in Canada’s history, now one hundred years ago, and they portrayed it, both Jonathan and Megan, and the rest of the cast, with grace and dignity, feeling and heart.
The tragic romance of doing the hard thing, the spectre of having to be separated, all coming alive from the pages of any history book I’ve ever read. A fictional story that I could, so easily, picture in real life.
Of course, I knew it to be a work of fiction, but Jonathan made me feel it in every line he spoke as Gilbert.
I wanted to include my favourite moment from his performance in Anne: The Continuing Story.
I will return to this story, again and again, to always see him in this greatest of great roles.
Watching the above clip of their reunion always did bring tears to my eyes, caused the all-too familiar butterflies in my stomach when I immediately went to watch on hearing the sad news, caused my heart to race like always, and will forevermore stir a deep feeling of nostalgia that can hardly be explained through words.
It is why I believe in the art of a fictional performance, when in spite of all the silliness of what acting often is, sometimes an actor gets it right. Sometimes it isn’t silly or frivolous. It means something.
And so I dare to be so bold as to use a line from Montgomery’s books and from the films themselves, not in an attempt to be over-dramatic for the sake of it.
Anne Shirley said it first. I say it now.
I didn’t know him. I never had the chance to meet him in person, but I would have liked to tell him all this, if I had.
“In the depths of despair.”
His passing has caused a strange empty feeling in me since I heard he was gone for real.
From what I read, his organs were donated. This only makes me love him even more.
How many people get to mean the things he’s meant to people like me and to give others a second chance at life through the sudden end of his own?