Don’t Give Up…

…without a fight.

Have you ever been put in a situation…or put yourself in a situation…where you lose control, completely.  You find yourself cornered/humiliated/vulnerable/speechless?  You lose your voice?  Loud voices are coming at you.  You see mouths moving and eyes wide open.  But, you really don’t hear a word that the voices are projecting.  You want to catch up on the conversation and what is happening, but you are so shocked that you’re NOT SAFE, that you are deemed useless, defenseless and feel only things in your body?  Oh. I’m sweating.  Oh, my heart is pounding.  Oh. Am I going to throw up?  Am I going to cry?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what is going on in a world where this is allowed to happen.  We become enraged when we remember these collective experiences happening historically, in the unbelievable and horrific impacts of colonization and slavery, of racist and immoral conduct in war.  (Presently watching the Netflix series on Vietnam, with my son.  Watch the entire series, beginning with French colonization…see what atrocities happened there.) We are shocked and freaked out when it happens on the world stage in the forum of politics, religion and foreign policy. (I can’t even name all such horrors.)

The strong prey on others.

The privilege of power; whether that is white or big or strong or conservative or educated or rich…the privilege of power is a demon in the face of building relationship or building community or building trust.

The second clutch of sparrows was attacked on the hottest day of summer.  It might have been a Magpie or a Crow.  I wasn’t home to see the events.  The Crow and the Magpie have youngsters to feed…their aggression is without thought for kindness, but for survival.  That’s the difference between human beings and Crows.  We can choose to communicate kindly, even in the face of conflict.  It is our moral imperative to do so.

Mr.  did not give up without a fight.  How do I know this?  Because his feathers show the scars of the attempt to protect his youngsters.  Mr. and Mrs. have grieved at the empty vent these past two days.


I ask myself if I had stayed home from book club, would things have turned out differently.  Maybe not.


Thoughts on Social Media Shouting Fests

I was thinking about something today.  Why am I learning  (most times) to keep my fingers off of the key board when I feel very passionate about some of the issues regularly posted on Social Media?  My track record is that I’ve slid into ‘confrontation’ very easily in life (since being in high school) because I felt that confronting an issue was profoundly important to give voice to my thoughts on issues.  I thought that by vocalizing, and usually emotionally, I had the ability to change the perception of the other or convince them that the way that they were viewing an issue was ‘wrong’ or just plain weird.


It’s taken many years…sixty one of them…to figure out that it is not necessary to vocalize, in order to make an impact or to solve a problem.  There are just some things that one is powerless to change.  It is healthy, instead, to empower oneself through action that is productive and meaningful.

It is possible to create change in the world by more consistently being an exemplar for others around issues and doing so with some humility and grace.

Recently, I found an all-encompassing article about what can sometimes happen in marriages that are strained or not working because of communication styles.  When two people, who see an issue differently, have a shouting brawl, are they able to solve the problem at hand?  When a couple is in a perpetual state of silence, are matters being resolved?  If it interests you, please click on the link below because I think that meekness is a fundamental quality that would be effective in dealing with the huge heap of problems that seem to be facing human beings today.

Regarding our view of history and decisions that are made for us, rather than with us, we will always find people with strong beliefs, taking polar opposite positions.  It is human nature.  Democracy is built on the belief that all people have the freedom to express these points of view.  What, I suppose, we might want to work on is how we express these.

Social media has created another layer of communication in our lives.  Its access and simplicity provides the opportunity for us to speak, without thoughtfulness and to send words that do not represent our most productive, kind or professional selves.  There, our words represent ourselves for all time.  No pulling them back.  We need to weigh and measure what that might mean.  An intellectual, Marshall McLuhan, once surmised, it is at these times that, the medium becomes the message.  I think that we are daily, in the sad position of falling into this trap.

Discussions about Donald Trump as President, the visit of celebrities to profess their views on Environmental Issues, whether or not Global Warming is a scientific fact, the responsibilities that fall on Canadians to take account of past mistakes where our Indigenous peoples are concerned, Rachel Notley and the NDP Government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the treatment of women in modern society, Rape, Foreign Policy and military intervention, Syria and Rwanda before, fossil fuels, exploration of the North, the status of wildlife the world over, to name but a few…listen folks…there is much to talk about, but without having productive conversations about the issues, how can we possibly be the creative productive problem solvers that this planet requires?

While Kevin Thomas’s points in the following segment of his essay may address a style of communication in marriage, a person can really apply this to any matter where human beings are concerned in an engaging and helpful conversation.

From Kevin A. Thomas’s personal blog, the Warning: Rocky Times Ahead

The end to apathy is not aggression; it’s meekness.

Meekness communicates that one still cares about the marriage. It announces “I’m still here.” It shows concern for the other person. It reveals a vulnerability and welcomes the other person to reciprocate.

Meekness reigns in the aggressive and it provokes the apathetic.

For some, meekness would say “stop yelling.”

For many, meekness would say, “start talking.”

Wonder if you operate with meekness? Consider the following questions:


Deafening by Frances Itani

On the recommendation of a friend back here in Calgary, one of the books I read while visiting my father in Belleville, Ontario was Deafening by Frances Itani.  With a regional setting of Deseronto, Belleville, the railway and the surrounding area, upon completing the book, of course, I had to go and visit the places.  Itani’s novel, placed during World War I, is exquisite.  A Winner of a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, I was captivated and motored through this one at warp speed.

Grania, the protagonist, emerges from a bout of scarlet fever as a child, deaf.  The novel evokes a real sense of what language means.  As stated in the Goodread’s summary,

“A magnificent tale of love and war, Deafening is finally an ode to language-how it can console, imprison, and liberate, and how it alone can bridge vast chasms of geography and experience.”

In published reviews, it appears that a lot of readers lost interest as Grania becomes involved with Jim. I think the author is successful in steering clear of sentimentality and introduces Jim as a device to talk to the reader about war, its impact on the small community and how the concepts of lost communication express a similarity with loss of hearing.

At the conclusion of this book, I thought this was my favourite book of all time…but, you know and I know, this is just until the next one!

My father humoured me and visited the grounds of Belleville’s Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf with me and I went, on another day, to Deseronto in order to document some of the places mentioned in the book. Why?  Just because I could.

The school for the deaf has a beautiful campus including several stately brick buildings and wonderfully groomed grounds.

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The places of Canada…driving driving driving…remind me of the blessings of our common narratives.  Everywhere, windows are boarded up, mostly in small towns and names are written, as are profanities on the baked painted surfaces of what used to be animated corner stores and bakeries and churches…places where people gathered, all working to get through hard winters and humid summers.

Deseronto captures all of it.  The tea rooms and antiques, the post office, the docks…

I am grateful to have seemed to step into a book.

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Post Office Deseronto

Post Office Deseronto

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St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church Deseronto

St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church Deseronto

I strongly recommend Deafening by Frances Itani.


I Drove Up to Didsbury…Laughed with a Friend, Drank Some Wine and Painted on a Drum

I enjoyed overlooking a beautiful garden and listening to my friend speak about magical things while I painted on a drum.  That time of year when canola fields and dramatic skies feed my soul!  I feel grateful.

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Three Readers & the Art of Blogging

I haven’t written much for a while.

Some people need to stop worrying about me when I DO write a lot because I derive a lot of joy from putting my ideas out there.  Let it be known that I have this thing that I do, under control.  I don’t spend a lot of time baking great cakes.  I also stepped into a mall for the first time in five years (no lie) over the holidays because I was to meet my son-in-law in the Shopper’s at South Center.  I don’t shop.

So, instead of listing the other 200 things that other people do while I am writing, I’ll just say that I am pretty dang happy at this time of my life.  There were two dark moments in 2013…the moment my beautiful mother had to let go of her life in May and that instant when my friend of over 25 years, Elma Flaherty, died.  I continue to deal with these losses on a daily basis, but, truly…my life is one of blessing.

I wanted to enter into the dance of the New Year with an acknowledgement of three of my readers.  I’m not very well connected to the ‘blogging community’ because that WOULD end up eating up a lot of time…but, these same readers are three amazing writers and I need to say just how wonderful it has been, sharing their writing journey, so I’m going to do that now.

John Clinock lives on the west coast, in Vancouver, hosts a blog titled Art Rat Cafe.  He is a talented writer and also has a fondness for art that incorporates text, as well as a love for good music.  I’ve been reading and admiring his work for a good long time and I think I originally connected with one of his posts when I went searching for blogs that focused on the artist’s journey.  Generally, his life on this techno-high wire is an optimistic one.  Some would wonder if optimists are presenting a facade in all forms of social media, but John writes about ideas, music, the seasons, human celebration and pain, with a particular beauty and authenticity.  I want to thank you for your writing, John, because it consistently inspires.  I’m posting one of your images here, likely mixed media, and will ask your permission AFTERWARDS!

Tarot: John Clinock

Tarot: John Clinock

Dear Shimon lives in Jerusalem., Israel.  He writes beautiful narratives that convey the simplicity and beauty of life, but from a far off land.  I gather from his beautiful photography and his writing that he treasures observing his world and taking the time for those things that really count.  Deeply connected to his cat, Charlie, his family and traditions, I have learned very much about his customs through his posts and through my inquiries.  I consider him a dear friend although we have only shared the common elements and differences in our stories along the way.  A huge reader and appreciator of music, I hope to take on his reading list along the path of my life.  I strongly encourage my readers to visit The Human Picture and to have your eyes opened to Jerusalem in a very new way.  Something very interesting this past year was that Shimon experienced such a huge snow storm that temporarily transformed his home land in a dramatic way.

And finally, on her blog titled, Year-Struck,  I have been enjoying reading everything by a woman I know only as Year Stricken.  Her humour and her intelligence are the two reasons I return again and again to her writing.  Well-crafted, her words bring me to tears through the power of a moment or cause me to laugh hysterically in the next.  I have appreciated her vignettes that cause me to think about teaching, mothering, loss, serendipity.  Through her writing, I enter into a new way of seeing this thing that is common to all of us…life.

I don’t know the art of blogging.  I know that I enjoy the immediacy of this world at my finger tips.  My children will surely not suffer for lack of ‘getting into my head’ ever!  There are a couple of other blogs that I really treasure for their personal connections with me and my life.  I love reimer writes!  I have learned so much from Nikki.  Through her honesty about loss and grief and how to write your way through it.  I’ve learned about matters of the heart. Through her blog, I connect with someone who shares in my outrage at the treatment of  countless animals.  We share in our desire to respect and honour life.  Thanks, Nikki.

Finally, one of my dear friends has been making an exceptional effort in her vision to bring the arts to the marginalized in our city and to constantly open up the narratives that we share through her Love Art in Calgary tours.  Wendy, you are so important to me.  I wish you the best for this coming year.


Talking about YouTube – Xavier Rudd – “Messages/Guku”

Beannacht / Blessing

by John O’Donohue

Original Language English

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.