Friday, October 31, 2014

What the hell is going on

It's starting to look like maybe they "had something" back in the days when a woman could never be alone with any man who wasn't her father, brother or husband. Maybe it wasn't a convention meant to curtail the freedom of women. Maybe it was for their own protection. And it's starting to make sense.
No woman willingly la di da goes off alone with some man who is creepy and frightening and known to be violent. She goes off alone with a man who seems kind and gentle and decent, a friend or lover or even a casual acquaintance who comes across as nice, as safe, as trustable.
And then the woman gets the shock of her life when he hits her and/or rapes her. 
I know men can be trusted. I trust all the men in my family, gentle men, every one, and I have sons who would never even think of hurting a woman. I know many lovely men who have never threatened or abused me or, as far as I know, any other woman. 
So where all are these other guys and where are they coming from? These guys who have murdered more than a thousand First Nations women in the past few years. These guys who beat and murder their wives and girlfriends. These guys who molest and rape. And that's just here in Canada. When you look around the world to, for instance, Africa, you can't help wondering if a large number of men are some kind of alien in a human body. 
I have been alone with three in my lifetime who gave me a serious scare, and felt lucky to get away without being forced to do something I didn't want to. I've known another who believes any woman is strong enough to stop any man and therefore rape is impossible. Him I wouldn't be alone with again. And as a very young woman, I was inappropriately groped by an employer and a co-worker at one of my first jobs. I laughed it off and forgot about it, afraid I was just immature and had somehow invited this treatment by my lack of sophistication. I never reported it, and I didn't quit the job either. I just became more careful.
Becoming a martial arts aficionado couldn't hurt. 
Or maybe we should never, ever be alone with a man we don't know well and trust. 
(Even then, do women and children have to worry? 
According to the history books and the newspapers, we do.)
Jian Ghomeshi should check himself into a treatment centre and get some help. He has serious mental health issues if he is compelled to punch women in the head or choke them. Maybe he should be in jail; maybe he would be if any of the women he abused had gone to the police. And as I listen to their stories this week, I'm also wondering about their judgment, these women, when they chose to be with him for a second time after experiencing rough treatment on the first date. Still, high hopes, willingness to give someone a second chance, not taking your own experience seriously, and poor judgment aren't crimes; violent abuse is. 
When you look at the statistics on reported rape and abuse of women and children today, the social conventions of a couple hundred years ago don't look so silly. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My companion CBC Radio, and books

“This is what I listen to every weekday morning right after the 10 o’clock news,” said Aunt Margaret. She was my great-aunt, actually— my grandmother’s eldest sister— and I’d been sleeping on her couch near Mile One in Victoria, B.C.

It was a CBC radio program called Morningside, hosted by Don Harron. That was 30 years ago, and that program has been my morning companion through the years, through Peter Gzowski as host, and then Shelagh Rogers.  I listened to it from a house trailer in a First Nations community in northern Saskatchewan. I listened to it from a one-room log cabin with wood heat and no running water. I listened to it from a shack on the side of a mountain in Kelowna. I could and I did and I’ve never stopped listening to it, even when, years later, they created what I thought was a dumbed-down version of the show and put Jian Ghomeshi as its host, asking questions intended to be edgy (I guess) but I found simply unimportant and dull… more of interest to a 19-year-old, apparently the new "age demographic" the CBC was targeting. Since then the questions have become more interesting and Ghomeshi has improved as a host (as, according to my friend Julie, he would, with practice), and I still listen to the show when I have the opportunity. 

It makes me remember Aunt Margaret, long gone now, who introduced me to the CBC and its many excellent programs. She also introduced me to washing all the fruit and vegetables when you bring them home from the store, before putting them into the fridge. And to the idea that a young man invited over for a game of chess was being “forward” if he brought a bottle of wine along. I didn’t agree with that one then, and I don’t now; I guess it was a generational thing.

CBC Radio has been a good companion to me all these years, many of which I’ve spent alone during the day. For a while there I read all the Canada Reads books so that when they had the conversations about them during the show I would know what they were talking about. After a couple years I gave that up; some of the books were a boring slog and there is already too little time in a life to read all the books that really interest you. However, the Canada Reads event brought Canadian authors to the attention of Canadians, and that was a good thing. There were some impressive books in there, certainly. There were also some that got far more kudos than they deserved.

Shelagh Rogers as host of the morning show was likable and when she gave that job up and began hosting The Next Chapter, an interview show on Monday afternoons with Canadian authors, I was there with my bells on. Oh, she could make those books sound fabulous! I’d get them from the library, all excited … and then about half the time, if not more, I’d be sorely disappointed. I’d find the writing poor, the editing seemingly non-existent, the — snooze. Oh Shelagh, do we have such different tastes in books? Apparently we do, or, as my internet acquaintance Eugene remarked, “She’s there to shill for CanLit.” She’s very good at it, too. I’ve been suckered in many a time.

An occasional feature on Shelagh's show is “If You Liked That, Then You’ll Like This.”  That is usually a book by a non-Canadian, and this is one by a Canadian. Several weeks ago “that” was Tina Fey’s Bossypants; “this” was Kelly Oxford’s Everything is Perfect when You’re a Liar. I ordered them both from the library and started with Bossypants. I was laughing out loud by the time I finished reading the dedication, and chuckled all the way through. Then the Canadian book was up. What a treat this would be! I thought, until I read two chapters without cracking a smile (I wanted to be entertained! Yes! just like I want to laugh at The Big Bang Theory, but it’s.not.funny either. I know, the sitcom-watching world disagrees with me bigtime but … take out the laugh track, folks, and I bet you won’t be laughing either) and decided to return it to the library without finishing it.

And this is as close as I’m coming to a book review, because really, what good are they? Aside from telling you a bit about a book’s plot and characters (which I haven't done here, so this isn't even close to being a book review, is it?), reviewing a book is such a subjective affair. It truly is a different-strokes-for-different-folks thing and tastes in literature differ widely, not only between people but between different times in the same person’s life. A book that is fascinating and informative and inspiring when you read it at age 20 is often flat, dull and old hat when you’re 40. And sometimes it’s the other way around. There are times in your life when a book can move you, and times when the same book leaves you cold because it isn’t what you need at the moment. I couldn't get through Proust's Remembrance of Things Past when I was 30, or even when I was 40, but I bet now I could. 

I will always listen to and probably act upon book recommendations made by my friends. Some of the books they rave about may be stinkers, but others will be a revelation (Thank you, Bev, for introducing me to The Buckshaw Chronicles.) When you love books and reading, you will be open to anything and make up your own mind about everything. 

But I don’t trust Shelagh anymore. Fool me once, Shelagh … fool me twice … but dammit, you fool me every time!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Jimmy's in Saskatchewan

Usually one enjoys a live concert more if the music has been heard before, and I have heard it but I'm still having a listen to some Jimmy Rankin tunes before attending his show. His videos are playing on my desktop but I'm not watching, just listening.

Rankin writes gorgeous songs with the hauntingest melodies and has a supple sweet voice that's a real pleasure to listen to. He's got so much good stuff it's hardly possible to pick just one video to put here. Is there any chance you don't know who he is? Nah.

 Jimmy Rankin sings songs you (OK, I) can't help singing harmony to. That's my favourite kind.
And this, one of his more recent, makes me want to go for a drive with Scott.

And after you listen to it (and sing along. You will.) you should find a shitload more videos with nice, nice Jimmy Rankin tunes online.

And with that helpful advice, I leave you and go for a walk:

Chicken coop and storage shed.
Barn and ? Darned if i know what that building is for.
Dugout in back yard.
Back yard.

Tractor shed

Think these trees on the left will ever fill in after the deer chewed them up a couple winters ago? 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rudolph & family

Karen had just started assembling her new Xmas decs—a reindeer family—when I got there.  We set them up in the yard once we had them cobbled together.

When plugged in, this family of reindeer will light up.

My sister's front patio at AURORA BEACH.

I drove cross-country to get to her place, past the farm where we spent our teenage years and down the curvy road around Mink Lake between there and Highway 5. When I saw this scarecrow some distance across a field, it looked so much like a lady I did a double take.

I did a double take, so maybe the birds and deer do too, and don't make holes in the grain bag.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


There are things we believe we cannot bear.
But we can bear them.
We do bear them.
-Clara, in 'The Paradise' (tv series)


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More Bales*

Another cross-country walk in windy perfect scented fall air.
You can't really ask for more than that on your days off.

That was yesterday.
This morning I went out onto the step just long enough to turn around once or twice in the sun. I had a powerful urge to sit down and drink coffee out there. Alas the coffee was gone by then and I wasn’t about to make more. Maybe Karen and I will sit outside later. Maybe she will go for a walk with me.

*Well what would you title this entry?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Geese and Eagle

Saw a pair of bald eagles on the way to Nut Mountain early this afternoon but they flew up and landed a further distance away when I stopped the car. But we were still quite excited, Pat and I.

On the way back, we saw these:

Usually I only see flocks of geese in a field. Click on image; for some reason this small one is fuzzy.

And this, overlooking the geese:

Click photo to enlarge.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The back 40

The back 40 is an ankle-twister so it's less often a walking destination of choice. For that reason there's still a bit of a mystery back there and I'm nervous, like a deer. Not when out in the open, as in the photos below, but when I enter the trees and approach the slough. Thank goodness there's no need to be concerned about alligators or man-eating snakes.