Saturday, February 24, 2024

Ideas and thoughts beyond our own

Last week I had the good fortune of being a 'book' of sorts in a 'human library' at a secondary school here in the Lower Mainland. I'll admit that I wondered why I should be selected for such a project, but it turned out that students had plenty of questions for me. 

Because I used to work in a library, the place felt familiar in many ways. Lots of books, yes. A bank of computer stations, yes. Tables and chairs arranged around the room. Best of all, young faces asking (often shyly) me about my own books, about writing in general, and of course, what had attracted me to write a book about Amelia Earhart. The one that made me stumble, I think, was from a Grade 11 boy who asked for my definitive idea of what had really become of her. As if I might be able to provide a reasonable answer!

I'll admit that during breaks, I wandered the stacks, looking at the collection. While I was especially impressed by the many books there by Indigenous authors, I was surprised to spot a couple of books that have been pulled by many libraries. Why? Because those authors aren't exactly what they've claimed to be, their heritage isn't really Indigenous. 

When I spoke with the librarian about this, she explained that it was an issue they were still dealing with. Clearly, it presented a conflict that staff there were trying to draw some lines around. When should (if ever) should a book be removed from a library? When should readers be denied the opportunity to decide for themselves?

Such questions are exactly why we observe Freedom to Read Week. There was a terrific piece by the head of the Calgary Library System offering some strong thoughts in 'Why our fight for intellectual freedom matters for all Canadians.'

I especially loved her closing line: "I don't always agree with everything on library shelves, but I will always fight for your right to read it." Exactly. 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Not according to plan

Today's post was supposed to be a cheery one, celebrating the fact that this little blog has been going (and been reasonably active) since this date in 2006

Eighteen years. That's how old you need to be to vote, to buy alcohol or cannabis products, to get married without parental consent. The powers-that-be have determined that as the age which deems one an adult. 

Instead, this day is filled with shock and sadness as we have learned of the death of Alexei Navalny at a prison camp in the Arctic in Russia. 

No one in what we consider as the Free World is thinking of this as anything but the execution of the person who served as the greatest and most outspoken threat to the tyranny of Putin. 

Strangely, when I sought a bit of comfort in an online word game, the first words played on the board (the computer posted two, I'd only played one) seemed to agree that this death was no accident. 


Sunday, February 11, 2024

Springin' along

Some, I'm sure, would swear that seeing a robin serves as the first sign of spring. I'm pretty sure my mother was in that camp. 

Others may contend that it's the job of the crocus to make this announcement.

As for me, it's seeing a thicket of snowdrops that tells me spring is on its way. 

With the hard cold (for here) that we've had, the possibility of a new season feels very welcome. And with yesterday's observance of the Lunar New Year, the timing seems just right. Let there be dragons (so long as they're gentle, kind ones). 

Now, if only it would warm up a little more so it would also feel more as if spring is truly
near at hand. 


Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Wasteful

At least that's how this scene looked to me. 

On the weekend, there was a house there. One, I learned, that had been built in 1967. And here it was, the end of the line for it. 

Why, I wonder, do other towns and cities value their older homes? Is it because they have a greater respect for history, or do they consider the materials and craftsmanship that went into their making?

When this one was coming down, it didn't crumple easily, but withstood repeated blows from the digger. I couldn't help thinking, as I saw it sway from those repeated thumps, that it would have withstood a substantial earthquake. But then, looking at the materials it had been built with, its sturdiness was no surprise. 

It had been built with two-by-fours from wood that's far more substantial than the lumber that's for sale today. Why weren't those salvaged? Why wasn't that house taken apart, bit by precious bit? Windows? Doors? Light fixtures? All of these are items that cost plenty. And really, why should all of those be going to the already overfull landfill?

A man was strutting around while all of this was going on, pretty much nodding his head in approval. I suppose he'll be the new neighbour moving in to the undoubtedly mega-house that will be built there. I'd gone down to another neighbour's place, returning a piece of mail that had been mis-delivered to our house and tried to catch his eye to say hello each time I passed him. But no, his eyes may have well have been made of glass, so glazed over were they, so unwilling to engage. 

Today, to give the workers credit, the lot is tidy. There's even a fair amount of lawn-like grass, as if the site is getting ready to be turned into a neighbourhood park. But no, I am sure that isn't the case. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

Brain food


Our mother used to tell my sisters and me that fish was food for the brain, and did her best to convince us that eating it would make us smarter. She must have believed it was an ingredient we needed as she was often telling us to 'smarten up.' In truth, I always suspected the fish theory may well have simply been her way of getting us to eat sardines.

But the reason I'm thinking about brain food is that today is officially Puzzle Day. And if the reports are at all true, I've not (as my mother liked to scold) been wasting hours of my life by engaging in puzzles. As it turns out, they provide exercise for our brains. 

We 'puzzlers' (the official term for those who enjoy doing puzzles) are a tribe all our own. This is a term I happened to learn from a very fun book I read last week with the puzzling title of Jigsaw

I'll admit to being kind of a puzzle geek, as I love Sudoku, crossword puzzles, Wordle, and as you can see from the photo above, jigsaw puzzles, the biggest time-passer of all. 

Both of those puzzles were gifts I received at Christmas, but I haven't started either one of them. The round one, with 500 pieces looks challenging, but possible. While the beautiful Avatar-like image on the other is tempting, its 1,000 pieces leave me hesitant to even open the box, as 750 is my usual maximum. Still, with a new month approaching, the time may be nigh for new horizons with bigger challenges. 

Wouldn't you know--in the process of poking around for this post, I learned that eating fish maybe really does make you smarter. Once in a while I guess those mothers of ours managed to get a few things right after all. 

Friday, January 12, 2024

Oh yeah??

 

I'm not in the habit of arguing with 'answers' on Jeopardy! but hey, today this is just plain WRONG. 

Coldest I can remember it ever being. This morning, our little weather station read minus 15. Hardly what I'd call mild. 

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Ta-daaaa!


A new year, hurrah! One that's almost sure to be better--or at least happier--than 2023 with its many horrors and wars. And I hope being a few days late with its bud opening doesn't make it any less appropriate for the new year. After all, what's a few days among friends. 

I suppose a flower seems an odd way to celebrate a mid-winter observance, but...to me the showy blossom of the amaryllis looks a lot like a horn that's trumpeting good news. 

At least I sure hope that's what it's announcing.