Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pathetic in Print

Let me start this by saying that I am am an unapologetic feminist.  I am also the mother of four daughters. I have maneuvered through the obstacle course that is placed before women in this life and turned over a few rocks and logs and uncovered a few slugs in my days just as the author above has.

I too have felt an aversion to the signs and symptoms of a culture that bombards girls with messages that tell them they need to look, speak, act, behave and be different than they may well be intrinsically. (I'm also aware that the culture does this to boys)  I'm painfully aware of the so-called "princess culture" propagated by media and film(Disney in particular) that says(I'm simplifying) that girls need rescuing by boys and I've felt complete disgust at pageantry and beauty contests that seem to value girls based entirely upon their appearance. I've been careful to create counter messages in my home to balance the ones that state girls are less than or greater than based upon the make up product they use or the jean size they wear.

It's a tough job and a tiresome battle. But I do it. Because I have girls. Because I've been a girl.

Somehow though, in all my years of battling the patriarchy, the culture, the stereotypes and all the garbage that I've seen that creates the imbalance between the two most common genders, I have managed not to project the distaste I have for all of the things that seem to work against me as the feminist mother of girls, into a distaste for little girls, not even those that don't look like mine. Heck I haven't propelled it into a distaste for little boys either nor the men they eventually become, at least not in a general sense. There are certain specific men I don't care for but it's based upon actual knowledge of their character, or lack thereof, not something as frivolous as their appearance.

I've managed also to avoid the pitfall of judging parents, particularly mothers(because let's face it mothers' parenting is judged far more harshly than fathers') because I've been mothering for nearly 25 years and realize that parenting evolves over time. My feminism evolved over time as well and with my youngest being nine and the vast number of cultural changes happening in these current times it may evolve further.

I also, as a writer myself, try not to judge other writers. Writing skills evolve over time as well. That said I do have a fair to middling understanding of writing and I'm a decent communicator.

So it's out of my comfort zone to address all of this in a blog post but I feel that the above needs addressing, particularly since the message I'm getting from the editorial and defenders of this piece is that it is satire.

I have read satire. The Onion is satire. The Currant is satire. Ray Guy was satire.

Because I'm very busy and this isn't a professional piece I'm going to post a definition of satire from Wikipedia.
  1. Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming an individual, ideology, corporation, government or society itself, into improvement.
My understanding is that the definition above is about shaming an individual, ideology, corporation or society itself into improvement.

Now I have no problem with any of that. I've been known to use this sort of technique on an occasion or two myself.  I can be scathing and brutal in fact. And I must admit, I enjoy it.

The problem that I have with the above piece from the Northeast Avalon Times is that the shaming is placed upon weak instead of the powerful.The individuals in this case are children. Politicians and businessmen are adults who get paid and are in the public eye. They are adults, seasoned and jaded. And I am guessing that even they have moments of hurt from some of the slings and arrows of a well placed piece of satire.  

The target of satire should never be someone who is already without power.  Quite the opposite.  A good satirist uses their abilities to benefit the innocent, is a defender of the underdog and takes aim at those in power. They use their skills to knock down the ivory tower dweller, to point out the flaws in society as created by the corporations, the politicians, the government or the media or any organization that has influence to try to redirect them through humour and exaggeration to show the foolishness of their points of view.

That is why Robin McGrath's article misses the mark.  The target is children and they are the innocent.  If you're going to get all up in arms about the "princess culture" you don't  pick on the princesses. You pick on those who propagate the culture-mainly the corporations and fashion industry in this instance but the broader culture who still acts like girls need rescuing.  I wager however that most princesses have many more dimensions to their character than a tiara and glitter might show. 

In this article the focus is on the children-even if it wasn't meant to be--and it's not pleasant.  The writer admits to her absolute disdain for little girls of a particular type. Once that happened the rest fell by the wayside.  

The target of this article isn't Disney or society or the government. It is very specifically little blond girls which is an odd thing because I've not noticed that the princess culture is made of specifically of the fair haired. Even Disney has a balance in the hair colour department with Jasmine and Pocahontas for example representing the dark haired contingent.   

Any point she is trying to make gets completely lost in her own emotional venting. This venting takes on three main aspects.

First of all there is her strange and worrisome aversion to blond haired girls.  It is apparently a visceral aversion akin to the feeling of discovering bugs under rocks (a place I would contend the author spends considerable time.) 

Second to that there is a judgement of the parents of these same children. Parents who are doing what parents do. Making their children happy. 

Third, and the most disturbing part of the whole thing,  she makes it abundantly clear that the only reason for her disgust of these children is their appearance.  In fact she's OK with her own daughter because she doesn't look like these specific children that she sees as thinking they are privileged and superior.

In a culture that bombards girls with the message that their appearance is their most valuable trait this woman judges an entire group based solely upon this trait and justifies it by saying that these are the privileged so it's OK.  And yet somehow contends that she's a defender of girls? 

The writer states emphatically that she's never acted upon these feelings.

I counter that she has. Through her words in the article and her admission of an absolute disdain for little blond girls, she has acted upon her thoughts. Writing is a verb. An action word. 

Some of the adults reading her article may have little blond girls of their own but most certainly some of the adults reading it WERE little blond girls themselves and most of us still have a lot of the child we were inside of us.  Some even wear, gasp, pink.

Perhaps these revelations are cathartic to the author and she obviously is aware of how bizarre they are when she wonders if there are people out there who have an aversion to children who look like her daughter and hints at discomfort at that thought.

I wager there aren't many and if there are I hope they have the wisdom to reveal these rather deeply disturbing thoughts to their therapist and keep it off the written page until they've fully dealt with their issues.

It is her contention that the only girls of value are those who mimic Madame Curie or some other elevated(by her judgment) woman yet I can't say for certain that Madame Curie didn't adore pink and I wonder if she can. I suppose Marie couldn't have been blond as a child? That would totally mess up the fantasy. I do know she wore dresses and on occasion attended balls. So any child who holds her up as a role model is totally allowed to wear a ball gown. Just sayin'.

The writer approves of a certain "type" of little girl. The kind that fits neatly into her idea of what a girl should be. She approves for girls who their role models should be and chooses the type of woman they should become. It's a controlling sort of mindset.  It's ironically the sort of thinking that pretty much created the princess culture. 

It takes another kind of mindset to dismantle princess culture.  It takes the kind of thinking that says that little girls should be valued for who they are not what they look like.  That a princess dress and a construction hat are all equal choices for little girls and boys. 

Feminism is about equality. Feminism is about choice.  But feminism is about being valued for what makes a girl a girl also. 

My contention is that it is impossible to appreciate the feminist without appreciating the femininity in a woman or girl. Yes our culture pushes pink as the girl colour and blue as the boy colour. For most people who understand and are bothered by this, it does not turn into a diatribe of disgust for the girls but rather strikes at the more appropriate target, the culture.

Her arrow missed that target.

To the editors who defend this.  She has the right to write it. You have the right to print it.

And I have the right to aim my arrow in your direction-where it squarely belongs.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Island Soldier

Royal Newfoundland Regiment of WWI

I grew up on Change Islands in NL.  Many people served and still do who are from or have roots in our town but I always think of those who were lost in the first and second world war on Newfoundland on this date. Their pictures hang in public halls and family living rooms. They are remembered yet in memory they become abstract sometimes.  We recall their stories and their lives while at the same time we forget how very human these men and their familes were.

I wrote this little ballad this morning as I thought of one young man who died at Beaumont Hamel, Pte Archibald Porter who did not get to leave descendants or tell his story.  He was 18 when he died.  He could be any soldier but it isn't, it is Archie whose body was so destroyed he was listed as missing until his mother Lucy implored a local man to investigate if he were truly dead.  He was and a telegram came with a medal and a cheque from the war office a year later with the sad news.  I think of him every Nov 11 simply because I think somebody should.

Island Soldier
He walked the trails that we all walk
He laughed in the air we breathe
He fished the sea from which we take

The bounty he bequeathed

He rolled his baccy on a creaking dock
He elbowed his friends in joke
He sang aloud many a song
He lit up many a smoke

He chewed a blade of grass and wondered
At what was past this land
And he grinned and said “I think I’ll join”
And find out that first hand

He travelled far across the sea
How he missed that crimson sky
that warmed his island home each night
and bid each day good bye

He suffered in a foreign trench
While an island breeze swept though
The memories of an island boy
Who did what boys must do

He wrote that things were going well
While his heart beat in his throat
For death knocked on his door each day
though he dare not tell them in a note

The world he saw was a muddy hole
Where he waited for the day
To live or die at chance’s choice
In a place so far away

She walked the trails that we all walk
Laughed in the air we breathed
Until a telegram came through
With all that he’d bequeathed

A small salary and a metal disc
All traded for a son
But the king was happy as was the land
That the war was finally won

He traveled far across the sea
Far from the crimson sky
That warmed his island home each night
And bid him fond good bye

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summer of Islands

The sun poked through today after a few days of mist and rain. Appreciation for the sun is never greater than on those kinds of days and the joy of its heat drove me to the pond for a walk alone to think and consider what is next for me in my life.

My book is all but has been put away in first draft for the summer. School lets out and this busy house, full of my kids and two extras who found their way to me, will be empty much of the time as I make my way to the islands as much as possible, spending the months of July and August in exploration of the Isles of Notre Dame, Fogo Island, Twillingate, New World Island and of course Change Islands.

The Change Islands Newfoundland Pony Barn is under construction.  It is an exciting time. The fish plant is operating once again and we expect a successful year. Optimism for a bright future for Change Islands seems to be the overall attitude going into the summer and employment certainly plays a role.

So this summer, keeping with my penchant for doing whatever I want, I've decided to spend my time getting to know the other islands. I want to travel and spend time at Fogo Island, up around New World Island and in Twillingate. I want to explore the history of all the places, their connection one to the other both in the past and now.

I feel that the island communities have a special resourcefulness, a unique place in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador's past and can continue in that vein into the future.

I've decided to record my island adventures here in the blog so prepare for some amazing photographs this summer.

Tonight however, I am alone. I will  be enjoying some quiet time chatting online with friends and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.  I hope you all enjoy your evening and your summer.

Here are some photos from my last jaunt to Change Islands.

Bobber on the Water

Little boat in Farewell

Life Saver in Farewell

Mist on Salt Water Pond

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Social Media Boundaries; I love you but you're getting blocked.

Blue Boats in the Tickle at Change Islands

Having a snuggle with my favourite Newfoundland Pony Jigger on Change Islands.

The other day a person sent me a message through face book. This is a person who is a friend of a friend of a friend shall we say. I have never spoken to this person in my life, have never really given her any thought in any real sense though I do know who she is. She isn't a face book friend though she's never been blocked or anything because, well, I don't know her enough to block her. Mostly she is just sort of irrelevant.

And then I get the message. It appears in the "other" box  and it has several lines which are terse and taciturn and somewhat accusatory. To make a long story short, I pointed out that her contacting me was bizarre and untoward, denied her weird and unfounded allegation, and then blocked her immediately.

It was obvious from the fact that she messaged me that I, a stranger, was somehow on her mind and that she felt compelled to inform me of her disapproval of whatever her, frankly,  delusional mind had decided I was doing wrong.

Social media is a strange thing.  You have to get used to the idea that people are watching and that perhaps you don't know who they are. And from that lurking and creeping they will come up with a conclusion about you that, while potentially sound, is entirely dependent upon their own perceived notions of how one is supposed to conduct themselves.  In other words, they must approve of you.

Once you get used to being watched and judge you have to filter out that which serves you from that which doesn't. I love social media, all of the Internet and I take the bad along with the good.  I have sold books, gotten jobs and made lifelong friends using social media. I've also seen the darker side and I've had a few really unusual characters try to attach themselves to me in one way or another.

I am fairly open on Social Media and people who meet me in person often comment that I'm quite like my online self.  I pretty much am. No I don't put every single secret out there on the web but guess what, I'm not going to do that in person either.

Social media is a useful tool but it's only a tool and you have to maintain complete control of it. You can't become fixated on the one dimensional profile of a person you haven't met.  You do not have to consider the feelings of a person who really isn't part of your life except from behind a computer screen. I accept that I am not every body's cup of tea but I am fine for many.  And if some, one gives me the heebie jeebies in anyway, insults or abuses me, they get the big bad block without explanation. Being on my friends list or even accessing my public profile is a privilege and I get to deny it to those who don't deserve that privilege.

I think more people should do the same.

When somebody wanders into my world with no other purpose than to disturb it for their own, strange and disturbed reasons, I have no qualms about removing them.

I send them off with compassion however, because things must not be safe, secure and happy in their own world if they feel the need to intrude upon a stranger's.  I wish them well in my mind and move on from there.

Wishing  people happiness doesn't have to come at the cost of my contentment and peace. I am quite willing to do it silently behind a wall of cyber protection.

Also, the photos above having nothing to do with the post but hey, they're nice pictures. They'll make you smile and smiling is all I want you to do after this post.

Because all of you, well most of you, I know only through the Internet and so far, I like you all just fine.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Partridge Berries and Ponderings on a Thursday

Kate of the Cove

Every pony deserves to be loved by a little girl..or two!

Beloved Kate of the Cove

I don't know what people see in crack. Partridge berries are so much better. I just made buns with the juicy little marsh candy that grown in the marsh and hills of our fair land and I like to call them marshcandies. The buns were light and fluffy with little tart juicy berries bursting with flavour in each bite. I know it's an unfair comparison as I've never availed myself of the crack but I can't imagine it's any better.

Here I sit, the dinner is cleaned up, my dessert enjoyed and it's the evening before Good Friday. Did you know that I was born  on Good Friday? Yes indeed I was. And in my world since that time I've always referred to it as Great Friday.  I suppose it might even be considered by those who understand my incredible worth, as Magnificent and Awesome Friday.

But I don't have that sort of ego.  I really truly don't.

Tonight I partook (uh?) in a political conversation that was a great discussion with varying points of view and low and behold, I was shocked to discover that one fellow was not so much about debate but insulting those whose view points were different from his rather steadfast and, may I add, simplistic ones.

And so it went that he accused me of having a certain amount of ego. Well no, I really don't.

See ego is when you think you are superior to others.

What I am is confident. I know who I am and what I want and what I am capable of. I know where I excel, I know what I'm good at and I know what I suck at. And because I know the latter I don't spend any time doing those things.  I focus on my strengths,. It is just sensible to do so.

And most of the things I'm good at result in success.  But the truth is rather my ego being being buoyed up by any success I have I'm usually quite humbled by it, mostly because no success I ever had was accomplished without an incredible amount of hard work and support from others. Because one of the things I excel at is encouraging others to find the very best in them.  I think when people really trust and understand that you look for and find the best in them and value them for those qualities it's appreciated.

I don't have to work at that. I truly absolutely love human beings and I know that everybody has something that makes them incredible and I find it every single time because it's what I look for.

Confidence is not ego.  Confidence for me means that YOU can be as successful as you want to be and I will not attempt to knock you down but rather I'm quite happy to build you up and give you the accolades you deserve.

I once read something that stuck with me forever and perhaps it's one of my most guiding principles.

It said this. "Know that you are at your core, divine, special and unique. Also know that each person  you meet is exactly the same.  Ego is when you live by the first part. Martyrdom is when you live by the second.  Happiness is when you live by both."

One thing I've learned from my dissenters is this--they have value.  Every time I have a discussion with someone, particularly someone who practices a certain brand of judgement and insult,  it reinforces my own assertion that integrity and character are of more value than success, that kindness is of more value than intelligence and that I have far too much of all of those to be insulting people on the Internet who obviously have had struggles of some sort in their lives to lead them to such a cynical and angry way of being in the world.

Now I'm no pushover, don't get me wrong. I may be accused of many things but a lack of backbone isn't one of them.  But sometimes the fight isn't worth it. There is a limited amount of energy in a person's body and expending it on somebody who takes delight in insulting and degrading you seems a rather wasteful way to expend it.

So I ate marshcandy, wrote a blog post, smiled a lot and I hope even the angriest and most hurtful among us, have as pleasant an evening as I intend to have.

I am all alone this week and heading to Change Islands with my girls to visit our new pony Kate of the Cove and to find the island peace I've craved all winter.

Oh yes, we own a pony now. How can one be unhappy when one owns a pony? I will write more about Kate soon. She's special.  Take note of the photos!

Time for Downton Abbey now!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day; The Light Underneath

It's a quiet Monday, St. Patrick's Day and a holiday here in the province.  It's the kind of day that allows for a quiet introspection, a revisiting of the recent times and a chance to consider what I want the spring to look like.  The new moon on March 30 will be a time of renewal and the beginning of the spring for me and the time until then preparation for that time. Spring cleaning of a spiritual and mental sort perhaps.

This past week I traveled into the woods on snowshoes. The sun shone above as I made strange tear drop shaped marks in a blanket of fresh white snowflakes.  On my sojourn into the quiet of the woods I came upon a light from beneath the snow, shining through.  It was just a trick of the sun, a reflection of its bright rays on the crystals of the snow that made it seem as though the light came from underneath.  I allowed myself that fancy as I snapped photos of the glowing crevice.

Perhaps, I thought,  it was a path to an underground fairy house, a crack in the time-space continuum or the pathway to some underground world where a population of a different sort lived and loved and ate and fought.

All of these thoughts were just my imagination playing which is a nice exercise for someone who makes their living off the creation of stories.  The weaving of tales requires a mind that is free of constraint and pretending there is another world down there, or out there, is part of my own exercise in that freedom.

As to the light on the snow. Indeed it was a trick of the sun and a reflection.  But it did make me peruse the idea that the sun shining on the snow also shone on me.  And that it created the same light in my heart as it did in that place where the snow banked in the perfect pattern to reflect the light above.

The rays that shine on a person will directly influence the light that shines out from them. It encourages me to make sure when I'm dealing with people that the light I shine on them is the best possible one.  I need to make sure the brightest and kindest part of me illuminates the best part of them so that they're given the best opportunity to shine.

The whimsy of this is not lost on me. I'm in that sort of mood, where I would, if I could, shine a beam of happiness onto everyone.  And as I clear out the cobwebs, move things and make way for a bright start to the spring season I'm hopeful that the sun that shines on us all finds its reflection with ease.

Such a mood may be fleeting but while it exists I'll enjoy.  Fanciful thoughts that bring sublime happiness are the kind of light I love best.

That and a visit with the fairies.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Excuse me sir; Which way back to Canada?

Finally, after months of bombarding the government with letters people concerned about the situation with the Manolis L, correspondence is coming from the Minister, Hon. Gail Shea about her ministry's stance on the situation. There were no surprises there of course, a very standard form letter with very little substance or opinion with the original signed by her honour.  I'm not concerned about a form letter considering I've encouraged so many people to write to her that it might be a tad overwhelming for her or her staff to reply to them all.

However I do admit that I was creeped out somewhat by the part I've bolded below.

Ministerial Correspondence Control Unit / Unité de contrôle de la correspondance ministérielle
Fisheries and Oceans Canada / Pêche et Océans Canada
200 Kent Street, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0E6 / 200, rue Kent, Ottawa (ON) K1A 0E6
Telephone / Téléphone 613-992-3474
Facsimile / Télécopieur 613-990-7292
Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada"

This department has a "Ministerial Correspondence Control Unit?"


I was so taken aback I contacted a Member of Parliament to find out if that was indeed a "thing."

It is indeed, a thing.

Is this new?  Do all ministries have them?  It is indeed and, well, yeah, every letter is made by this unit on behalf of ministers.  Creepy.

Am I the only one weirded out by the fact that it seems there is an entire department dedicated to controlling the correspondence that comes from the ministers to the citizens?

That we only get to read what meets approval by this "unit" and not the true feelings of the minister on the topic.

Are the ministers so incapable of forming valid opinions they can't write or be responsible for their own thoughts? Well it's either yes they can but aren't allowed, or, they are incapable.  Unsatisfactory.

Are they so untrustworthy they need oversight so they stay on message? Again, neither yes or no, satisfies.

I actually feel sorry for the ministers too.  The absolute indignity of it.  To be so incapable that your employer needs "control" of your outgoing correspondence. Or to be capable and unable to personally make people aware of that.  

It's frightfully undemocratic.  It's terribly insulting to the ministers.  It's creepy to those of us who like to have a certain flow of information between us and those we elect.

And it's remarkably un-Canadian.

Basically this "unit" is a group of individuals who sit and write letters all day using bland language designed to bore the constituent to tears halfway through with the hopes they will be so delighted their dear minister responded they won't notice that it came from the "correspondence control unit."

I feel like I've stepped through a crack in the time-space continuum, wound up in some parallel Canada where an alien force controls the democracy.  It's a place that gives the appearance of a smoothly efficient country where in back offices there are rows and rows of obedient and smiling workers tapping out letters on identical Dell computers.  

But peel back the rubber skin of the employees and you find some octopus-like creature slurping and slithering its tongue in the space between the ears of this empty humanoid, droning sentences like "we are monitoring the situation" and "we continue to engage" ad infinitum while their laser beam eyes suck your common sense out through your nostrils as tiny particles of light until you too are walking around with the same serious cognitive dissonance.

Quick, look away!

This department is there to control the message of course.  Because as is painfully obvious in the house of Harper, the message needs to be controlled. Why without such departments you would have Senators and MP's and ministers just saying all kinds of things and getting in all sorts of trouble with scandals happening left, right and centre. (perhaps the correspondence control unit prefer "right right and right"?) 

Oh...wait a minute...scandals and trouble?

This begs the question, How bad would it be if they didn't have these controls?

Ministerial Correspondence Control Unit.  Surprisingly, they didn't even get clever and call it the Fair Correspondence Unit or anything.  

Fake lakes, fake last-century wars, fake letters--can we please start using fake tax dollars for some of this stuff?

I think it's simply wrong for a minister not to have the opportunity to correspond without interference.  To perhaps even make a mistake.  Of course they will err, embarrass themselves on occasion and maybe have to answer to their leader but at least their actions will reflect who they are as people.  

And it's the people that were elected and appointed to their portfolios.  Or are they too one boiling pot of water from Calamari Fettucini like the "unit"?

I kind of feel sorry for these ministers.  Imagine being elected as a MP, then becoming a minister,  in this great country and when history looks at your correspondence in fifty or a hundred years they find it was all written by the unit instead of you.  

Your mark on the country would be devoid of any sense of who you were and anything you did because, well, you didn't do it, the unit did.

What mark would you  have actually made if all you did was sign the papers placed before you by the octopus people?  At least in the olden days the  executive in your office was someone you knew who drafted what you wished to say and you had input and a relationship with the person who sent the letter on your behalf so that a constituent could at least find themselves perhaps just once removed from their minister.

And you could be assured that at least the minister was the person who actually controlled the message.

Our parliament works under tight regulations(well it used to) that allows for participants to be human, to fail and to be righted through the debate with the opposition and that nifty little thing we ourselves have at our disposal to be part of the system called an election.

A Ministry Correspondence Control Unit  sounds alien and I think doomed to failure. Because all of us out here, we outnumber them and we're still very human and like to connect with those we elect.

We like our correspondence to come from people, not units.

Meanwhile I'm looking for that crack in the time-space continuum so I can slip back into Canada where ministers are free to write letters and create their own spin all by themselves.

I think it will appear next year, the date yet to be set but highly anticipated by those who like our octopus on the ice at a hockey game, not composing letters from the ministers of the country.

Then we'll slip back through into real Canada where our elected officials are permitted to be humans, fallible and authentic.

With something an octopus doesn't have.  A backbone.


PS.--my aliens are not a gestalt race of telepathic beings who live in the 42nd century but a current breed of spineless octopi-like creatures disguised as humans from the present time universe parallel to this one.  They write letters. 

Any resemblance to Oodkind is purely coincidental.  Just sayin.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

It ain't heavy unless it's heavy.

It's a quiet Sunday and it's been a nice light weekend. I've not had to leave the house and have just caught up on my writing and I have the Oscars on the tube while I chill and eat a bit of dark chocolate.
Ready to shovel some snow

I wrote a sarcastic political post and saved it for another day. Today I'm not in the mood for heavy.  I'm not in the mood to write about the state of the world or the crisis and troubles people are having.

I am choosing to keep it light and the fact is things are pretty light here in Book Land.  I'm well into the novel with a completion date closing in with most of the first draft on schedule to be finished in three weeks.

What else?

Helping a casting agent out for a reality television show is one thing.  I'm looking for crab and seine fishermen and that probably will give a clue.  Cold Water Cowboys had an excellent premiere and they're not looking to replace anyone but to possibly add a couple of new captains should a second season happen.  That's fun!  If any one of my recommendations makes the cut I'll be thrilled.

Also television related, while visiting the capital I was interviewed for the television talk show Syllables on NTV to talk about the Manolis L issue.  I guess this is pretty heavy, an oil spill ruining our bay is hardly light conversation but I'm confident we'll be able to make a difference to the situation if we keep working on it.  And if a disaster happens it won't be because we didn't do our best.  It'll all be on the government and they will pay.

The plus is a trip to Change Islands next Sunday to meet and form the steering committee that will continue to pressure the government on the issue.  Also spending some time on the pony barn planning.

Some days I long for the days when I just wrote poetry and pretty stories but taking some times to help the community and province I love seems to be a small sacrifice.

And the best thing is the planning of the pony barn which is under design.  The application has been sent to Aviva and we'll be working over the upcoming weeks to make sure things come together and are signed.  It's exciting to see all the hard work come together into a concrete project and I really look forward to the exciting part--the party in September that will celebrate our victory and the ponys' new home.

It's a lovely thing, to have life fall into place, and to kind of go with the flow.  The heavy parts, well they're only as heavy as you make them.  There are important serious issues but the level at which you stress about them is entirely a decision.

Maybe I'll have time for poetry in the summer.  I'll be spending all of it on my island and cannot wait. So many good things planned including a community garden, another-as of yet unconfirmed project-- I've been asked to help out with using my writing background, a photography workshop, and the editing of the book.Oh and there is a teaching opportunity that I'm excited about as well. There will be trails to walk and breaths to catch and of course ponies to pet and ride.

It's a light post tonight and light is how it should be.  It ain't heavy unless it's heavy and it's only heavy if you carry the load instead of laying it to one side and spending time on the easy stuff when the opportunity presents.  Now back to the Oscars.

Some are wearing Gucci.

I'm wearing jammies.

Oh, Brad Pitt..gotta go!


Friday, February 21, 2014

When One of our Own Goes Missing; Help find Loretta

Loretta Saunders is missing.

Her family is in that  desperate space between wanting to hope and fearing the worse.  It's a parent's, nightmare, a sibling's torture, a family's worse fears.  It's a space we never hope to inhabit.

The news is full of the Saint Mary's University student's disappearance from her Halifax community on February 13, they have found her car and the people who were driving it in Harrow, Ontario have been arrested and charged with stealing the car. 

Law enforcement are considering the matter suspicious now on February 21th, over a week after the Newfoundland and Labrador native vanished.

According to a CTV new article,"Saunders's car was found earlier this week near Windsor, Ont., and Halifax police issued arrest warrants for Blake Leggette, 25, and Victoria Henneberry, 28.
Ontario Provincial Police arrested Leggette and Henneberry earlier this week on charges of possession of stolen property, which were stayed during a court appearance Friday in Windsor.
One of their lawyers said they were also remanded for six days to give authorities from Nova Scotia time to bring them to Halifax."

But news stories only tell part of the story.  To read today's update go here.

When people go missing oftentimes to us they're a name on the television with a photograph.  We are reasonably horrified and express much concern.  Perhaps we pray or show support through social media.

All of these are good things but often after some time we let that slip by and sort of shuffle it into the back of our hearts. Perhaps the reality of the situation is a bit too difficult to cope with.  Perhaps we're afraid to look at a person that could as easily been our family member, our friend.

Still, Loretta Saunders is one of our own.  She is from Newfoundland and Labrador. Her parents reside in the province as do most of her family and friends.  This could easily have been someone from our family.

It hits too close to home to ignore.

So we here in the province stare a little longer at the photo, read a little more.  Do we know the family? Is there a connection?  

I read the story of Loretta like all of you and shared it on my Facebook page at which point a friend of mine here in Central Newfoundland messaged me that she was closely connected to the family of the missing woman and her sister, Delilah who is now in Halifax and that the entire family is absolutely distraught  over the situation.  My friend is worried to distraction.  I asked if I could help perhaps by helping in the fundraising effort and she said yes. She wished to remain private and I respect that.  How a person deals with this sort of thing is very personal, some of us our loud and out there, some of us offer support from a quieter place. Each way is valid.  

While it's mostly about "where is Loretta?" it's also about "who is Loretta?"

A person is not a newspaper article, a case number or a photograph on a Face Book meme. They are the sum total of all they have been, who they are at this moment and the potential their future holds wrapped up in the intricate web of the relationships and memories they've created from the time of their birth.  

The photographs of Loretta  Saunders show a happy person with a full life. She is a graduate student, she is in love, she is three months pregnant. She has so much to look forward to.

Loretta's family knows who she is to them. We can never even come close to knowing, no matter what I write here, no matter what you read elsewhere. Only they know. But what we can do is catch a glimpse of the person through their eyes.

She shares a past with her sister, her mother, her father and all of her family and friends.

She shares her present with all of those people plus a boy friend, friends and faculty at her school and the baby she looks forward to in seven months.

Her potential was summarized in a message from a professor at SMU and Loretta's Thesis supervisor who had worked with her for over 8 months says  "Loretta is a uniquely brilliant student the likes of whom don't come around often. The last time I met with Loretta Saunders, two weeks ago today, I had never felt more inspired and proud of a student. We discussed herthesis project, which she had carefully presented in a proposal that was the best written project I had ever read in seven years of university teaching; teaching well over 1,000 students. I even told her so."

When a person disappears from their lives it rips a hole in the fabric of a family.  Family members tear apart their own lives to try to find the loved-one, trying to stay optimistic, trying to cope.

That concern prompted Loretta's sister, Delilah,  to fly in from her home in Vancouver and she is now there, alone, trying to spearhead a campaign to find clues, to find answers, to find her sister.

Compounding the fears of the family is the fact that Loretta was working on a thesis about the missing and murdered aboriginal women in this country--an epidemic of them--and now has become one of the former.

Adding to the situation for the family is their concern for the sister, Delilah,  there searching  there for days with no one from her family to be with her.  For a time there was no support as she waited for news about her sister all alone, a responsibility no person should have to assume themselves.

Family has met her there now. But it's still a burden.

They simply don't have the financial means to leave their works, fly to Halifax, be there indefinitely. It costs too much for this regular Newfoundland family.

But they are there, today they're doing press conferences, a group are putting up posters and the family is working hard to find Loretta.  

Friends have started an online fundraising account to to help the family financially during this time.

I am appealing on their behalf for anyone who can to assist this family.  To help seach for Loretta and to help this family find their missing loved one, to bring them some reprieve from the turmoil of this time in their lives.

After all she is from this province which, related or not, makes her one of our own.

You can help in several ways.

Join the Facebook group  and offer moral support to the family of Loretta Saunders.

Pass the word around on Twitter hashtag #findloretta

Donate to get family to Halifax with Delilah to support her and help look for Loretta HERE

Share this post and ask your friends to do the same.

It's the least we can do when one of our own goes missing.

Thank you.


Friday, February 7, 2014

"It's Permanent...until it isn't."

In light of the recent events regarding the decision by DFO to not remove the oil from the sunken ship Manolis L that has been leaking since last March I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’ve decided that trying to get this resolved from the outside is not going to work. I’ve decided to infiltrate the government and fix this from the inside.  That’s right, I’ve made the decision to become a minister in Stephen Harper's cabinet. I’ve given it serious consideration and study and after investigating current ministers I think I’ve figured out exactly what I need to do.  It’s really simple, which brings me to step one.

I have to get simple. I think a few rocks to the head will do the trick or a game of shinny without a helmet. If I still have an IQ of over 100 after trying those things maybe I’ll watch a few Rob Ford Videos and use up some remaining grey matter trying to figure out what the hell he’s on about.

Once I’ve lowered my intelligence getting elected will be easy. Can you say Election Reform boys and girls?  Oh yes, that wonderful new bill they’re just putting through parliament to be in effect for the next time we get to mark our X.  No more robocalls, just plain old disenfranchising the voters who would vote for the other side.  Have you heard the new CPC slogan?  Welcome to Cheaters R Us.” Catchy and kinda nails it uh?
With that taken care of I just need to shed my desire to care even one iota that anything I say makes me look like a complete and utter imbecile. Things like, “This is the permanent solution until it isn’t” and “A fisherman from Fogo says we’re awesome!” will become part of my regular dialogue.  I must be subtle. I can’t just say I’m an idiot. I need to prove it by my actions.

Then I must learn to spin. Not the making yarn from sheep’s wool(the kind they try to pull over your eyes) but the kind where no matter what kind of douche bag you are you make it seem like your douche- baggery is really a good thing.  “Did you kick that kitten?” “The kicking of kittens is an integral part of the country’s economy. Without the occasional kitten kicking the price of gasoline would drop and then there would be a drought in Saskatchewan. Vote for me so I can save Flin Flon.”

The casting away of principles is also important.  They have no place in the Harper government.  Also, do not ever pay a senator’s expense bill to get him out of trouble unless you do so and don’t tell the Prime Minister because you absolutely must never do such a thing unless you need to do it but don’t tell the Prime Minister.

String hiding is also a skill you must learn.  Invisible thread allows your puppeteer to control you without it being very obvious. If you’re one of the unfortunates that is made into a hand puppet then practice wiping the grimace off your face every time you give a speech with Harper’s hand up your arse. In the case of Peter McKay it’s wipe the smile off your face…but…I digress.

I must always remember that the Harper government is opinion optional. You have one option. Don’t have an opinion.  However should you require an opinion at some point one will be provided to you. Please copy it in triplicate and use all three wisely.  You may not be given another opinion. Stealing the opinions of the Prime Minister is allowed, indeed it’s encouraged. He’s that kinda guy-fist bump!

So there you have it. These are requirements to become a minister in the cabinet of Stephen Harper.  I think I can meet all of them quite easily.  Anybody up for a game of shinny?  A fisherman from Fogo says we’re awesome! Oops sorry kitty, but at least Assiniboia is taken care of. 

Seriously though, keep the faith.  A Tory government is somewhat like a cofferdam. In the, er, unusual sentniments of Fisheries Minister, the Hon. Gail Shea, “It’s permanent…until it isn’t.”