Thursday, March 19, 2020

A banner for spring

I was going to post an item about empty shelves in the supermarket, but those aren't anything new, and they're mostly a cause for anxiety.

Instead, because this year brings us one of the earliest official beginnings of spring, a piece of new outdoor art is flying -- both here and on our house.

The banner was a Christmas gift from a dear friend, and today seemed like the right day to hang it by the door. And yes, the message of peace to all who enter is true and from the heart, even though these days there aren't many who are entering.

We remain healthy (touch wood) and we're taking the order to self-isolate very seriously. Spring break or not, it's not a time for gathering in groups. A time for catching up on missed tv series, reading books, and making phone calls to friends we can't visit with.

And, of course, wanting peace.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Weapons of Mass Protection

The cancellation of so many events has left me at loose ends. I'm accustomed to having a full-on schedule of events, whether those are ones I'm attending or participating in.

Today was supposed to be 'my' choir's Spring Concert. My head is still filled with many of the beautiful songs we worked on, though it isn't the same as standing with friends in the front of a church and singing them in harmony.

It feels downright weird to not have any sports on tv. Recent Sunday afternoons have been filled with curling. Otherwise, it's often golf that's being broadcast here.

The sun is shining, though it's cool out, but we did a bit of yard clean-up earlier -- the results of yesterday's windy gusts.

Not even having our usual family Sunday dinner, as at least two of the regulars are down for the count, luckily only with bad colds, not the dreaded virus.

I can only think we're at least all learning better habits with all this hand-washing and leaving space for each other, not hugging or shaking hands. There's bound to be some good that comes out of this, even it's only some concentrated spring cleaning -- of ourselves, and maybe with the enforced isolation, of our house (or at least my office).

Here's to the power of soap, still they say the best solution of all.

Sunday, March 08, 2020


International Women's Day. A day to celebrate the many women who persisted. This piece of art is by a woman named Dani. It's part of a show called Herstory, an exhibit that opened the other night in a local gallery. All that I need to say for today. 

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Not sallying forth

Plenty of people like to observe today, March 4th as a day to 'march forth' and do something, but I've been seeing it more as the day that spring is springing forth.

Not sallying forth, which I'd always thought meant dawdling in a forward direction. Only it turns out, its meaning is actually something much speedier sounding, with even a bit of abruptness to it. So I guess I even learned something today.

Whatever phrase, today made me feel that spring is finally here, and the little garden patch I walked past on the way to the dentist seemed to affirm that.

Even my teeth-cleaning day at the dentist felt like spring. It helps that their office is on the third floor and in line with a tree the crows seem to love to gather in. The blue sky and puffy clouds were putting on a pretty good show too.

This proved to be the day I even got to wear shorts -- really just because I was cleaning the hot tub, and refilling it so it's ready for a new season, something I usually do so it coincides with the equinox. But where that observance is a bit early this year (earliest it's been in a century), it maybe doesn't hurt to look after this chore a bit early too. Now it's just a matter of waiting for the water to come up to temp from what flowed out of the hose. So I guess I did 'march forth' and do something after all.

Saturday, February 29, 2020


Here we are at another Leap Day, a day that turns out to be full of odd celebrations and customs.

And really, February 29th holds a lot of potential as a great date for some rare and eccentric traditions. Just think, we'd have a full four years to plan our escapades.

Not a day for jumping, only leaping. We could leap to conclusions without fear of reprisal, feel our hearts leap at thoughts of true love, or spend the day in inspired speculations, making leaps of faith and logic.

About the only leaps I made today were small leaps of progress in the garden, as I gave both raspberry and blackberry vines their annual mega-prune. It's a job that always grants a share of satisfaction, maybe just because I know how tasty the summer crop will be.

As for the bridge sign above, the water flowing beneath it was beautiful and inviting. I think you were just supposed to swim from the bank below rather than cannon-balling off the railings.

Must admit to having several leaps in mind for myself, as I suppose we should all have a dream or two that requires, at the very least, some leap of imagination. Leap on.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Exercise your read

It seems I usually am reading more than one book at a time. Okay, not reading with books in both hands, but one for afternoon reading, another at bedtime, and poking my nose into some other book or two throughout the day.

One of the books I've been reading (actually, re-reading) is George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. It's amazing that it's held up so well over the many years since it was published. But I'm finding that quite a lot of it seems a little too spot-on, with ubiquitous surveillance cameras only one of those aspects.

Other parts of it that seem a little too close to reality are those that concern both writing and language.

Much of the writing depicted in the novel is actually re-writing -- the re-creation of history that's become inconvenient -- often because an individual was too caught up in the mores of his time. And yes, that individual is generally a man, but then that simply reflects how our histories have been written. And what the protagonist (Winston) must do in his job seems not all that different from ways we have recently been revisiting some of our own history. 

Even more chilling to me as a creative writer is the notion of machines spinning out novels. As with the revision of history in the book's Ministry of Truth, an entire department is devoted to the creation of Fiction. Books are conceived by directive of a committee, then the words are spun out by a machine. Sure, there's a department for rewriting, but somehow it doesn't sound very literary. And the same process is also true for pornography in Orwell's dystopian society, though only women are permitted to work in that section. Much too stimulating for men. Harrumph.

But even more bothersome to me is his vision of what he called Newspeak, a word that showed up yesterday as one of the answers to the New York Times crossword (one of my morning addictions, along with coffee).

Newspeak's goal was purportedly to simplify and clarify language (right...) by paring down the dictionary to only the most basic words, all of which could be modified with simple prefixes and suffixes. Thus, 'bad' becomes 'ungood' and a person who is particular righteous and law-abiding would be described as 'goodthinkful'.

And we can't forget Newspeak's brother, doublespeak, whose presence lingers in our midst like a bad smell. Examples that come to mind include "It's all good" (especially when things might be anything but) and "Have a good one." (A good what, I ask myself.)

I find it worrisome to have 'good' be the basis for such meaningless remarks. It seems like shades of the simplistic 'ungood' to have 'good' as the foundation for so many of our offhand, rote remarks. Although really, it isn't that I don't want life to be good, it's the diminishment of language that rankles me.

Anyway, this happens to be Freedom to Read Week, and I'm glad that even my socks (in the photo) have something to say on that. My advice? Learn a new word -- or better yet, go find a book that's been banned and read it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Who knew, eh?

By one of those flukes of taking my time reading the weekend newspaper, I ran across an article on 'homegrown literature' and the importance of reading exactly that. It claimed that today has been proclaimed as "I Read Canadian Day."

Only, as it happened, I was in a bookstore today and as I made my purchase, I asked about the observance. The employee gave me the deer-in-the-headlights face, and said she didn't know what I was talking about. If the booksellers don't know about it, no wonder there's no promotion.

I remember that, during the '80s we had "Canada Book Day" and it fell on, I'm pretty sure, April 23rd. And whaddya know, apparently it still exists (though even the entry about it admits that few people know about this).

It really was quite the celebration, as the Canada Council provided a box of Canadian books to libraries that made a request.

And next week, there'll be another Canadian literary observance. If it doesn't come to mind immediately, you might have to check back here, as who knows, I might even do a post about it.

Read on -- and when you can, think about reading something written by a Canadian author.