Friday, December 21, 2012

The Roast Beast and Quilts - Christmas Memories

Once upon a time but not that long ago, when my daughter was a child we enjoyed Christmas Day dinners with my mother. The table would be set with her rose-patterned Royal Albert bone china, cornflower crystal glasses and Rogers Brothers silverware. The meal was almost always roast 'beast' (eye of round) with mashed potatoes, mom's famous gravy, another vegetable or two or three, a salad that was mostly iceberg lettuce and strawberries with heavy cream to finish the feast. Of course cookies and chocolates and nuts were consumed, before and after the main event. We ate dinner sometime between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and then the gifts were opened. 

Because my mom's Christmas tree was small, artificial, and sat atop her cedar chest, she usually stashed any presents that wouldn't fit under the tree on the floor in a white laundry basket. Each year, there would be a quilt for me, one for my brother, and in later years, quilts for my daughter too. I miss my mother, always, but her quilts still comfort me. They represent the spirit of the holidays -  loving care.

Our holiday traditions have changed over the years, but we still enjoy the simple pleasures of sharing food, time together small gifts and loving care for one another.

May your holidays be joyful and your new year be happy and healthful.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What Is Around The Corner?

We are born with the urge  to learn, to explore, and to wonder. What is around the corner, what is under the bed, what is next in our lives? And -  if we are readers - what's next in the book?

Often I want more when I hear a  snippet of conversation; but, I never hear the outcome unless I make up my own version.  What other people may see and how they might interpret what they see is also a fascination.  Yesterday, I received a  payment from a writer I'm working with. She had given me a cheque and later decided she would make two payments at once, so she brought cash. I met her in my building's lobby. She gave me an envelope and I gave her the folded cheque.  If anyone was watching us (there's a lobby camera) our actions would be open to various interpretations.  We looked innocent but not all drug dealers look dangerous.

As for books, some are page turners but the ones I enjoy the most  pull me forward because I want to know more about the characters and not just their actions, but their thoughts.  When I read a certain type of mystery, I can skim through the gory parts looking for clues. When I read an Alice Munro story, I savour every word. When I read Anne Lamott, I cry then I laugh, sometimes over the course of three pages. It's her utter honesty that is so magnificent.

What's next in my life?  Surgery in a few days.  Afterward I'll be sticking close to home for a while. Maybe conversation will lead to a story.

What is around the corner for you?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summer is Waving a Hot Goodbye

The Canadian National Exhibition opened last week. That's always a signal that summer is on her way out of town and out of country too. But before she goes, we'll get another blast of hot and sultry.

While that's happening, my family  is enjoying the Great Canadian Outdoors, eastern style. Frank, my eldest grandson, is camping on the lake near Port Burwell and Sam, my younger grandson, is on a five day river raft expedition down the Dumaine River in Quebec.   My daughter and I  enjoyed a campfire in  her back yard on Wednesday evening. I won't name the location in case the fire pit bylaw enforcers, whoever they are, find out about this nefarious activity.

Also, the Viking and I were able to escape from the city on the weekend. It was a perfect day for driving through the countryside.  On our return journey, we stopped in Stratford and strolled down the main street stepping into several shops along the way. I had to go into the bookstore of course. How could anyone not go into a book store called The Book Vault?  I was delighted when I found three books I couldn't resist. The Story of Yiddish by Neal Karlen, The Highly Selective dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate, by Eugene Ehrlich, 

           [pssst I don't claim to be extraordinarily literate - perhaps the dictionary will help.]

and Colombo's All-Time Great Canadian Quotations, by John Robert Columbo.    All those books for $15.72, harmonized sales tax included. Obviously they did not sell at their original prices.

I had not read any poetry in quite a while but then on a brief visit to the library, Impact: the Titanic poems, by Billeh Nickerson jumped into my hand.  Powerful, moving, and yet spare, his poems capture the people, the ship, and  the sinking.  I had to read slowly with many breaks between the poems in order to appreciate all of them. 

At the moment, I have a paying assignment and it is a challenge.  There are certain hazards to proofreading and editing erotica.  You can guess what they may be.

Until the  next time.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Mysterious Stuff, or Why Does Anyone Believe These Things?

There are days, many days,  when I can't understand Americans. There are also days when I can't understand my fellow Canadians.
Because Super Tuesday is very close, let me first talk about the American mysteries.  To date, there are  only four GOP candidates for the presidency of the U.S.A. who may have a shot at winning.  Why would a person with any sense of how the real world operates want to vote for any of them? 

If any one of the four is chosen to run or, worse yet, if any one of them actually becomes the president, the average American will suffer.  Corporations will gain even more power than the overwhelming amount they have now. The rich will inevitably grow fatter and the poor, well they can just shuffle off into further obscurity and eventually the type of poverty the third world knows well.  The poor and uninsured needn't look for  pregnancy contraception, or for choice afterward and that is only the beginning. They have been told over and over again that all government roles are bad and  low, low, lower, lowest taxes and smaller government (hah!)  will benefit everyone. 

Why do they believe the lie that all taxes are evil? And, where do they think the money to support  services provided by the government will come from? 
Why are so many people persuaded that the government should get out of the business of providing any social programs? 

Americans are generous, but charities can't be expected to deal with every social problem. Will there be a return to the Victorian concept of work houses?
Why do Americans, and Canadians too, believe that anyone can advise them on what the stock market will do? No one knows, let me repeat that, no one knows. Most trading is done by advanced computer programs. Numbers are god in that game.

The Canadian federal government is currently CRAP   (Conservative Reform Alliance Party).
And because they are c r a p, they are bringing in legislation that has already proved to be a) useless, or b) harmful, or c) both.  A couple of examples: super prisons, mandatory sentences. 

Why did even a minority of Canadians believe electing Harper would be a good idea?

Why do some Canadians believe that further belt tightening will somehow stimulate the economy and that we will all benefit from the trickle down effect of lower corporate taxes? 

That has been proven to be wicked nonsense.

Maybe we have fallen down the tunnel into wonderland.

Till next time.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Liebster Blog Award

My blog was honoured with a Liebster blog award given by my friend, Susan Barclay.  There's a lovely little heart logo. However; incompetent as I am, I"m unable to transfer the pretty thing to the top of this page. After hours of effort, and various attempts to deal with the new Google E blogger format and to find out how to edit saved drafts, you can find the symbol at the bottom of this post   Anyway, this is award is for interesting blogs with  under 500 followers . Now that I've received it, I'm asked to nominate five other blogs including the blog of the person who named my blog.
So, here are some blogs that I find interesting. --
Susan Barclay's blog, Honey from the Hive is here :

Jan Markley's blog is always worth reading and frequently her sense of humour shines through.  She writes youug adult fiction.  Her titles to date:  Dead Frog on the Porch, and Dead Bird Through The Cat Door.

The Falcata Times blog features news, book  reviews, and interviews with writers of Sci-Fi Fantasy, Historical, YA, Horror, Crime and other genre fiction.

Darcie Friesen Hossack, the author of Mennonites Don't Dance, also has blog about food, Nice Fat Gurdie is charming and informative.

My dear friend, Lori Hahnel, the author of Love Minus Zero, a novel, and Nothing Sacred, a short story collection, blogs about her news and views here at Tales From Behind the Calgary Hotel.

Until next time, or whenever I sort out how to deal with this new format.  Cheers!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Harper to Cut Social Programs. Is Austerity the Answer? Not Bloomin' Likely

Once again, seniors are being touted as the villains in the political story. If this was a murder mystery plot, I'd say it was way too trite. I have news for the Conservatives (and the Republicans). Older people are very unlikely to quietly agree to anything that diminishes government benefits. The ruling party would do well to remember that a larger proportion of seniors vote than any other segment of the population.

Are Canadian seniors doing well financially? Between the 1990's and the 2000's the rate of poverty among seniors rose according to the Conference Board of Canada and, it continues to rise. Older single women form the largest group of poor seniors. We should not find that acceptable. At the same time, many work places are eliminating defined benefit pension plans and opting for defined contribution plans, or in many cases no pension plan at all. Oh happiness for companies, but not for their employees.

I hear someone muttering, you need to save and put money in RRSP's. I reply, it's good to remember that not everyone makes a wage that provides them with enough money left over to save significant amounts and furthermore, one crisis; for example, being out of work for more than a few months can wipe out the savings of a low-wage earner in less than a trice.

So is the answer to work longer and retire later? That may be a part of the answer. However; it is not easy to find work if you lose your job when you are over 50, or even worse, between 60 and 65. If you do find work, it will likely pay less and be less reliable. We have not yet reached the point where there are way too many jobs and too few people to fill them (except for a few trades and occupations). That is one among many reasons for maintaining and enhancing the Guaranteed Income Supplement for low income seniors. By the way, low income seniors are consumers too. We buy things, not as many things as before but we do spend and that also puts money into the economy. That brings me to my next question.

What is the role of the federal government? If Mr. Harper has his way, the primary role always will be to support business the most. Damn the torpedoes (and the environmentalists too) and full speed ahead says Captain Queeg. Social programs and health care are drag on the economy and cost too much. We will cut costs by slashing in those areas first. Look, look, we have oil and gas, and water too. Don't worry we'll get rid of pesky regulations. And we'll cut costs. Forget Toys are Us - that was last year when we wanted planes and military toys. Our new slogan will be Austerity is Us. Plus, low low low corporate tax rates and lots of business loans.

If the austerity budget cuts are deep and sharp, is that the right thing to do now? I think that as the world works it's way into another major recession/depression, more austerity is not the answer. Governments that can spend, should spend major amounts on infrastructure . (Note that Mr. Harper has repeatedly said that we are in better shape than other first world countries) This would increase employment and boost the economy. When times improve, and they would, then governments can pay down debt.

A footnote of sorts. Once upon a time, actually, it wasn't all that long ago, many Canadians worried about Western Alienation. We kept hearing, The West wants in. Well, news flash, Eastern Alienation is rising and my Canada which does include Quebec, is not in favour of an American style government - for the rich, by the rich. The social contract is at the heart of Canadian identity. At least I think it is.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

I'm In First Gear, Again

It's been a long while between blog updates. Now that December has finally ended and the darkest part of the year has passed; I've restarted my writing engine. A lot happened in the last month of 2011. I moved my friend, The Bear, into a long-term care facility on December 1st. Everything had to be done lickety-splickety [I know that should say lickety-split] , or even faster and thanks to The Viking's help, it all worked out. I was limp toast by the end of the day, but The Bear adjusted easily to the change of location. The staff at his new home are very good with him and I'm extremely thankful for that.

There have been changes within my family too. Life has not been easy for any of us in December, but the New Year can bring with it a fresh approach and renewed hope for a better future.

Yes, I have some New Year's resolutions, but they are too modest to mention in any detail. Mainly, I plan to move forward with my writing projects at whatever speed I can manage, with occasional short side trips and detours. For example; comments on American politics might appear on my blog, if I am able to make them without over-ranting. Also, now that we have GO train service between Kitchener and Toronto, and, now that The Bear is finally settled; I may be able to go out of town for more than a day at a time.

Blessings to all of you for 2012.