Monday, February 25, 2019

Think -- an idea whose time has come

Once again, it's Freedom to Read Week, an observance that doesn't get the attention it deserves. True, there are no parades, with people marching and proclaiming their right to read what they choose, but hmm. Maybe there ought to be.

Just yesterday, when I was featured in a public reading, presenting work from my own books, I chose to read a poem that had been challenged. It had been posted on the blog of an environmental group. But soon after it appeared, there were objections to its content, with several commenters insisting that the poem be removed from the site. Some went so far as to say the entire blog should be shut down.

Fortunately, thinking minds prevailed. The poem and blog remained online, the objections overruled. Oddly, the piece in question had been inspired by and based upon verses from the Bible. My head spins at the ironies unwinding. 

But for anyone who believes the idea of challenging -- or worse, out and out banning -- what we read is something that only happens in science fiction, think again. It doesn't take much to have a piece of writing be challenged. Looking over a list of 29 books books that have had to be pulled from libraries or classrooms in Canada, objections were based on "offensive language" or sometimes, "violence." In a number of instances the reasons cited were "unknown."

Some of the authors on the list will also surely surprise you (Laura Ingalls Wilder?!) as will some of the titles -- one in the Star Wars series, and another in the Chicken Soup for the Soul publications.

But if challenging titles over what some consider 'bad' words isn't enough to raise your ire, let's remember what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist who was tortured and executed last year. Freedom of the press is among the most basic of freedoms; some would argue it as the foundation of what we like to think of as democracy.

I hope you'll take some time this week -- and really, every week -- to think about the importance of our freedom to read. Just like the sign in the photo above, one the VPL created for its Freedom to Read campaign (back in 2014) suggests: "Think for yourself and let others do the same."And oh yes,  read exactly what you please.

Monday, February 18, 2019

First cut

Yesterday was so beautiful, I just had to do something outside.

It might have had something to do with the fact that in the morning I'd seen the first robin of the season. He looked to me like the same who built a nest here last year.

And maybe it was just the blue skies and warmer temps that got my blood moving, but something made me need to get out into the garden.

This time of year -- especially with bits of last week's snow still lingering -- it's not really time for much in the way of gardening. Even the weeds haven't poked up yet, but oh, there are always those blackberries, aren't there.

I managed to almost fill a garbage bin with clippings. Not quite what I'd consider a 'pruning' as I only removed the ends of branches that were still clinging to bunches of dried-out berries.

Still, it felt like a satisfying step towards welcoming spring.

Now I'm just hoping this afternoon's whitish skies don't mean we'll need to be looking at more of the white stuff.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Shoulda known better...

This photo of snowdrops in a planter box is one I took just over a week ago, on Saturday, Groundhog Day. Because I couldn't see my shadow cast across the blooms, I fell prey to believing that not seeing it meant that winter was just about over -- that we wouldn't have to wait another six weeks for spring breezes to be upon us.

But oh, silly me, look at what today looks like for those same snowy snow drops in the planter. The poor things are buried past their necks. Even the straggly geranium appears to have given up.

Yesterday we celebrated a dear friend's birthday -- with a nice supper and even a homemade cheesecake. Looking outside this morning, it looked like a yard full of birthday cakes, and all of them risen higher than yesterday's celebratory dessert.

I guess this must be what I get for trying to think like a groundhog.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

I've always loved pigs

That's the start of a quote about pigs by an author I love, Maurice Sendak. It's there because today marks the lunar new year, this year beginning another Year of the Pig, to which I admit unabashedly, I'm proud to be one. According to some legends, pig is twelfth (not a problem for me, as that's my favourite number) because he overslept. Yep, that'd be me, all right.

Today's photo looks more like something I might have posted on the old "What's Fer Supper" blog, the site where I wrote about what we ate, every day for the year of 2009. Every once in a while, I still add something or other, like this post I did for Lunar New Year in 2015.

The past few days our produce stores, most of which carry an array of specialty Asian items, have been extra busy as families prepare for the feasts they will no doubt have this evening. This brunch of ours was much easier to make than it probably looks, as it's a mishmash of foods from our freezer and pantry. I certainly can't claim any skill with making Asian dumplings from scratch.

Depending upon what sign you might be, the Year of the Pig is supposed to be one that sees dramatic change. With an election here in Canada later this year, that's a strong possibility. But in case you're curious what changes might be in store for you, here's a site you can click on to find out.