Friday, June 30, 2006

Some Mild Patriotic Words

Tomorrow is Canada Day and while I'm not going to wave the flag about, I do want to say - Happy Birthday - eh!

A couple of nights ago, I answered a telephone opinion survey. It was a political survey and after the first three questions, there was no doubt in my mind. The survey was designed to find out whether Canadians agree with Harper's policies and his agenda. There were about 15 questions connected with the likelihood of a terrorist attack on Canada and how the government is handling this supposedly urgent matter. There were also a lot of questions about how much information the government should be able to access (in order to prevent terror attacks, naturally) and how further access to information, conversations, you name it, could be made legal. Finally, there were questions about Canada's role in Afghanistan and our role as peacekeepers.

Many of the questions started with "Are you afraid? - of terrorist attacks, of youth gangs, of criminals not being locked-up forever, of refugees who may be terrorists, of our inability to defend our arctic waters, of ill-equipped customs officers, or conversely, of not being able to enter the United States of... Well ... Everything.

How can anyone reasonably answer a question like - will there be a terror attack on Canada in the next year? Yes, no, maybe - all are equally correct. If terrorists are going to target us, they are not going to warn us about it.

The questions concerning Canada's peacekeeping role were equally unsuitable. Should we stick to our "traditional observe and help role;" or should we take a more "Military" role. In the first place, our traditional peacekeeping role has always included military "action" when necessary in a protective manner. In the second place, actively assisting the Americans in Afghanistan to attack and kill is not peacekeeping. And it will not stabilize anything.

The whole questionaire seemed designed to prod paranoia buttons. Well my button didn't function. Let's not try to become Americans. We are Canadians, and that is more than good enough.

Harper, smarten up. Don't make me smite ya.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Signs, signs, everywhere Signs - Open the Door!

My birthday weekend was replete with the kinds of people and events, I'd wish everyone I care about could have on their birthday. And yes, there were signs.

The front of my daughter's house was decorated with a Happy Birthday sign. Primarily, it was there for my grandson, who celebrated his fourteenth birthday on Saturday, but I choose to believe it was there for me as well.

This evening, Wayson Choy spoke about signs and symbols in a writer's life and I realized there have been quite a few signs pointing the way for me. However, it takes me quite a while to understand the portents.

New ones given to me on Sunday, when I visited my daughter. My youngest grandson made a card for me. The front of the card has a "door" that opens, and the card says
"Do you choose to open the door to life?" I am not impartial. I'm blown away by my soon-to-be twelve grandson's ability to cut to the heart of things. My daughter gave me a beautiful brick candle to light my way. And the man in my life gave me a book. And not just any book, but: Writing Life: Celebrated Canadian and International Authors on Writing and Life.

Over the years, there have been lots of other signs. Some of them seemed negative at the time. My eighth grade teacher insisted I couldn't possibly have written the story I submitted and tried to fail me. My tenth grade teacher said I should continue to write poems. Eventually, I did, but they came back from editors with notes that said - not these, but do you have more. I didn't send more. This could be an endless list. My mother kept every letter I ever sent to her until I insisted she get rid of them. One of my ex-lovers has a stash of my letters and will not give them back to me, nor will he destroy them. I've only written eight short stories that I feel are "finished" but two have been published. That should be considered a good average, but of course I don't consider that - I wonder what's wrong with the rest of them.

I've managed to ignore the fact that I wrote a two page letter that enabled the Veterans program to get half-a million dollars in expansion money, and every other grant proposal I wrote brought in money too. Then there was the condolence letter I wrote to a former client's son. It was a simple and direct letter about having known his father. I did it because I wanted to acknowledge a man's life, but the son was so moved by it that he made a very large donation to the agency, and a friend tells me that he continued to do that for two more years.

So, there have been lots of signs, I'm just a slow reader.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Older than them thar Hills But, Not Smarter, Yet.

It's that time of year again. The time when I officially get older. It isn't a decade birthday, but today my grandson officially graduates from elementary school and on the weekend he will be fourteen. In two years, Frankie will be driving. I guess that makes me older than them thar hills. It's a good thing I became a mother at such an early age, because I'll have more than one generation to depend on as I enter my dotage.

I'm still too young to have any of the advantages of being older, like crankiness and forgetfulness, the flaws people ascribe to our elders. But I've decided some early practice wouldn't hurt. Maybe I can "forget" to pay some bills and use the extra money for a treat, and maybe I'll ask the mail carrier what he's done with all the acceptance letters that should be in my mailbox. I might even tell the superintendent of my building that I don't want to hear about every complaint she receives. Well, I might, if I have a personality change, but it's more likely that I'll continue to listen to her.

I'm not any smarter than I was last year. Probably that's just as well, though, because if I was too smart I'd give up the mug's game of writing fiction, since logic would say my chances of success are so low.

Fortunately, I'm not smart enough to accept that. Instead, I plan to celebrate being young enough to pursue my dreams.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Capri Pants Must Die.

I was at the mall today looking for a skirt, or a decent pair of dressy straight-legged slacks. Every other woman who passed me in the mall was wearing capri pants. Ick! They make women's legs look shorter and fatter. Unless you're a stick figure, they simply don't work. What really aggravates me is that next year, that fashion will be as dead as dead can be, and hundreds of thousands of women will put the Capri pants or cropped pants, or whatever you want to call them, (I just call them ugly) at the back of their closets.

And while I'm still in fashion rage mode. Why are there only ballerina, flouncy skirts on the racks, or skirts with weird zig zag hem-lines? And why is the only suitable cotton A-line skirt in the entire mall priced at $80 (including the taxes) and made in China? Maybe the pretty beaded filigree trim accounts for it, but I have my doubts.

I also doubt that I'll be able to add anything else to my wardrobe in the near future.

I am only a channel for "The Fashion Maven," side of my personality and take no responsibility at all for her crankiness.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The New Yorker, The Walrus, and Snidely Whiplash

The good folks who live in Toronto are recovering from the media frenzy that blared forth when suspected terrorists were arrested on Friday. I think it was Friday, time seems to waiver when news reports leave out details. Before this incident I'd been thinking about the media and humour in the media. Now, I wonder what The New Yorker magazine and The Walrus magazine would have to say about the incident. I know what Snidely Whiplash would say, he'd say "Curses! Foiled Again."

So why am I mentioning Snidely in the same sentence as those two magazines? It all began when I bought an April issue of the New Yorker and then the June issue of The Walrus. I like to buy Canadian magazines, and I wish that at least one could compare to The New Yorker. The Walrus tries hard, and the June issue has a very good article by Roy Romano on Canada, as well as an article by Mark Kingwell about the empire of the United States but it also has a pitiful attempt at humour by Marni Jackson. The New Yorker is still a weekly magazine, and it's the only weekly magazine that will print long detailed articles, fine fiction, and humour and there is always at least one cartoon in every issue that makes me laugh. Maybe someday there will be an equivalent Canadian magazine, maybe, but that's about as likely as the return of Snidely Whiplash. Snidely, the inept cartoon villain from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, might say - tie Ms. Jackson's computer to the tracks. Then, I'd have to stop him in order to preserve his reputation. But I'll give him another task, he can make a brief appearance or two in my novel, if he misbehaves in the appropriate manner.