Posted in Blogs, Books, Canada, Chocolate, Christmas, Environment, Family, Food, Holidays, Jane Austen, Movies, Music, Political, Televison, Uncategorized

You May Say I’m A Dreamer

1apeace22All that peace and love stuff, it’s just idealistic mumbo jumbo, right?

Or is it?

While I admit I don’t understand a lot of stuff, but as long as it’s not really hurting anyone, why would I care?

Too often, the commonly held view seems to be that if we don’t agree, we’re at odds.

Like somehow 7 billion of us are suddenly going to start agreeing, or we have to battle it out Star Trek style.

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For example, I find the rise of pumpkin spice alarming – apparently pumpkin spice is a season now, so the pumpkin spice must flow.

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Here’s a completely incomplete list of stuff people do that I don’t ‘get’, or want to (no particular order):

1. Touching wet paint or wet cement – yes, it’s wet, move on.
2. Running water after going to the bathroom instead of actually washing your hands.
3. Lying, lying, and what was that other thing, oh yeah, lying.
4. Judging a person based on their skin tone, religion, race, nationality, whom they choose to love, clothes, home, family, etc.

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5. Walking into traffic looking at a cellphone.
6. Bad driving.
7. Hurting others, especially children.
8. Loving something just because it’s endorsed by or has the name of a celebrity.

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9. Using racism as a political strategy.
10. Fat shaming, and also those who say fat shaming is wrong, because they’re also calling people fat.
11. Having fictional conversations in your head with others (ok, done this).
12. Not smiling back at a child or being impatient when an elderly person is slowly walking down the stairs in front of you.

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13. Yelling at furniture that jumped out and stubbed your toe (ok, I’ve totally done that).
14. Wearing uncomfortable shoes (especially with stubbed toes).
15. People who pretend they don’t fart (you do, we all do, own it).
16. Reading the instructions after you’ve done something.

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17. Saying “I’m sorry” when you’re not sorry.
18. Unenvironmentalists (you know that should be a word).
19. Buying non-orange pumpkins.
20. Pretending you don’t wish some cool movie-like thing would happen to you today instead of just the usual stuff…come on, you really haven’t done this?

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I can’t understand how people find the time or energy to judge, fight, or generally care so much about everyone else’s business. Does this have to do with our fight or flight response? Not running from sabre-tooth tigers (mostly), our fear response is now triggered by shopping (prices are terrifying), finding info on the internet (bloodcurdling), and politicians (I’ll take the tiger). Obviously our fear of scarcity has survived, so maybe those who are different or disagree feed into that fear. I’m just guessing, frankly, I’m baffled.

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The internet just seethes with fear and loathing which is why I’m happy when I find bloggers who make me smile. David Prosser, a wonderful, funny, and caring blogger from Wales offered the world his Buthidars philosophy https://lorddavidprosser1.wordpress.com/ – a hug, a good deed, a simple gesture, a smile…forging a path toward peace.

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And he shares his life each week at: https://barsetshirediaries.wordpress.com/ and kindly shared one of his novels, The Queen’s Envoy, with the caveat, it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Perhaps, but I emphatically enjoyed the fanciful flight of fictitious foibles. It reminded me of watching Bond movies with my Dad. As a child I didn’t understand what Pussy Galore, Holly Goodhead, and “Oh James!” really meant, but the spirit of adventure always made me feel like anything was possible. I like that feeling, wherever I can find it.

It’s Thanksgiving this weekend in Canada; I’m thankful we can all agree to disagree, eh. I don’t tell people they’re stupid for their beliefs and I don’t expect them to understand my complicated relationships with: chocolate, spiders, TV, sleep, housekeeping, kale, Jane Austen, gravity, technology, toenail clippers, Christmas, pools (you know, cause of sharks), clowns, Thanksgiving, meat, and life in general.

We don’t have to agree to have fun, be respectful, and add love and hope to the world.

All we are saying is give peas peace a chance.

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Posted in Books, Canada, Fibromyalgia, Holidays, Jane Austen, Movies, Music, Televison, Uncategorized

Never Tear Us Apart

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People talk about troubles, sing about troubles, write about troubles.
We try to solve troubles, outrun them, avoid them.
Troubles can tear us apart or bring us together.
I’ve worried over the years that I might be a trouble magnet, or that I brought on troubles…or even that I was troubled. As I got older, I realized troubles find most everyone, in one form or another, it’s how you meet those troubles, that’s what matters. I’ve had varying degrees of success with that part.

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Distracting ourselves from our troubles by thinking about the troubles of others, isn’t that part of the magic of books, TV, and movies? I recently got captivated by “The Troubles” of a small supernatural Maine town…Sounds Stephen King-ish, that’s because Haven, my new addiction, is loosely based King’s The Colorado Kid and is crammed full of King references. Haven, going into Season 6, with it’s hilarious X-Files meets Twin Peaks meets Psych meets Supernatural à la Stephen King, but with more romance, just keeps getting better, unlike King’s Under The Dome.

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Syfy’s Haven is bursting with talent, much of it Canadian (filmed in Canada), including the incredible Colin Ferguson (I miss Eureka soooo much), Adam Copeland (WWE’s Edge), and rumour has it William Shatner will soon visit Haven – that will be the icing on a wonderfully weird cake. And the complicated bromance between Nathan (Lucas Bryant) and Duke (Eric Balfour) is a delight to watch (sigh).

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Should I have escaped some of my own troubles by falling into a Haven, or enjoying a 20-year-old pop culture burp (aka Clueless based on Jane Austen’s 1815 classic, Emma), or a war between angels and humans in Dominion? Perhaps not, but as it turned out, it gave me the excuse to slow down, take a break, and start to feel ever so slightly better.

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Like most books, TV, and movies, these programs are actually about the characters, about friends, family, romance, and the choices they make, that we all make every day and how we face those choices, handle them, and the fallout (good or bad or neither or both). The supernatural stuff  is added as a cool hook (yes, I’m including Clueless as supernatural, wouldn’t you?).

So I’m glad to be back, more or less, and here’s what I got from my mini-break…

  • Life is for living and the living…small towns in Maine might be the exception.

  • Turns out they can tear us apart, literally and figuratively (you lied to me, INXS).

  • Life is short and unpredictable…enjoy the ride.

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  • There’s always more than what we can ‘see’.

  • Little is as it seems.

  • You never know what’s going to be a trigger – for memories, anger, sorrow, joy, pain, hope.

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  • The things you own can own you.

  • Sometimes what seems like a haven isn’t and vice versa.

  • Apparently angels, especially archangels like to dress in black leather, a lot.

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  • John Lennon was correct, life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

  • Love is the best and worst thing that can ever happen to you…sometimes both.

  • And last, but never least, you don’t need to be afraid of what you can’t explain…except Donald Trump, some things are just too freaky.

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Posted in Books, Canada, Family, Political

People are People

1funny414“People are people so why should it be you and I should get along so awfully? So we’re different colours and we’re different creeds and different people have different needs. It’s obvious you hate me though I’ve done nothing wrong. I never even met you so what could I have done? I can’t understand what makes a man hate another man. Help me understand…” ~Depeche Mode

How can we assume that by birth, or race, or religion some people are somehow less? It’s easy. Just make sweeping generalizations.
Drunken Indians. Stupid blondes. Lazy fat people. Violent black people. Muslim terrorists. Nerds all grow up to be millionaires. People with Autism don’t have empathy. All rich people are greedy and unfeeling. All poor people are lazy and want a handout.  If you’re depressed you just need to cheer up. Everyone can beat cancer if they fight hard enough. Fibromyalgia is just another word of lazy. People with anxiety just aren’t trying to get over it. And on and on.

1funny401I can’t understand why you could automatically like or dislike someone, love or hate someone just because of their: colour, height, weight, religion, bank balance, celebrity status, education, ancestry, culture, etc.
People are people. You should feel the way you do because each person has earned what you feel for them, as an individual.
We need less arguing and letting ourselves be distracted from real issues.
Tolerance isn’t over-rated, it’s just withering away from lack of use.

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Imagine a school with no playground, but with a cemetery. It sounds like something out of a horror story. It is.

Schools are about: learning, growth, safety. Aboriginal Residential Schools were just named schools to hide an ugly truth, they wanted to kill the Indian in the child.

Children torn from their families and physically, emotionally, and even sexually abused. Not given proper medical care or nutrition. Used for research and experiments.
This cultural genocide was not only government sanctioned, but paid for by taxpayers.
Generations flayed at the altar of religious and government depravity, because they not only lived on coveted land, but they had the audacity to worship a different Creator, speak different languages, have different customs, and a different skin colour.
At least 6000 children never made it back to their families. Approximately twice the number that died on 9/11. The odds of dying in residential schools in Canada was about the same odds of a soldier dying in WWII.
Many who returned home felt those who died were lucky.

So damaged, they passed that damage along.

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How do we reconcile this? Broken systems still abound, half of children in foster care in Canada are Aboriginal; over 40% of water for indigenous populations is high risk; suicide rates are skyrocketing; Aboriginal students get 30% less funding than non-Aboriginal students…yet there’s billions in lapsed funding, arguing, corruption, prejudice, and endless political games.

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We like to think horrifying residential schools, workhouses, orphanages can only be found in the pages of a Dickens novel. I wish I could pretend everything has changed since the times of the horrifying details in The Truth and Reconciliation Report and Nicholas Nickleby (recently watched 2002 adaptation with Charlie Hunnam, Jamie Bell, Nathan Lane, Anne Hathaway, Christopher Plummer and a veritable who’s who of UK film, by the by, quite decent). Yet each day, children around the world are: abused, neglected, sold as slaves, used as child soldiers, tortured, and raped. If we close our eyes, can we pretend it’s all fixed? It’s not.

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The world is looking more and more like Disney’s Fantasia where the Sorcerer’s Apprentice/Mickey Mouse tries to find a solution without doing the right things. Everything gets out of control, all the problems multiply, and get poured back in.

No matter the intentions, we need to face the truth, too many children and adults aren’t being treated well and don’t have enough.

They look to the future and see darkness instead of dreams. That needs to change.

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Posted in Books, Canada, Family, Televison, Uncategorized

Someone Knows My Name

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There are many ways to enslave people – physically, emotionally, psychologically, economically, culturally. There are ways to do so without the slaves knowing they’re slaves.

The Book of Negroes miniseries on CBC, adapted from the award-winning Lawrence Hill novel reinforces how wrong slavery was and continues to be.

 The Canadian title, The Book of Negroes, thought to be controversial in other countries, refers to a historical document containing the names of black people who served the King/Britain during the American Revolutionary War and could then escape to Canada. Ironically, even as The Patriots fought to free themselves from being slaves of The Tories, they didn’t also consider the black slaves should be free. It’s more common title, Someone Knows My Name, refers to the protagonist’s wish to be more than a slave. This document isn’t connected with the Underground Railway; routes and codes that helped slaves escape to Canada, starting in the 1780s.

People often say, I have no prejudices, I’ve actually said it, turns out I do. I have prejudices, but not against any race, religion, etc., just against selfish, cruel, arrogant, thoughtless, injudicious, idiotic people; those I find offensive.

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This 6-part miniseries, directed by Clement Virgo is wincingly uncomfortable to watch, to see any person or living thing treated in such a callous, cruel, repulsive manner should always be unnerving to see.

The protagonist, Aminata Diallo is intelligent and ambitious, she yearns to be more, to break free, and to be known as a real person, not property. She realizes education is a strong tool to help. She’s proud of her name and wants to be known by it. I understand that, although my name was already a series of Nancy Drew-style books, also, the surname, Parker, well, we weren’t just proud keepers of parks, but also: slave owners, slave traders, and overseers. Hey, you can’t pick your ancestors.

The cast is so astonishing, where to begin, at the beginning, with Shailyn Pierre-Dixon, the extraordinary young actress who played Aminata as a child. She took us into this role; you believed she was the protagonist. I assume we’ll be seeing a lot more of her. Aunjanue Ellis continues the role to perfection.

This had me flinching, sad, hopeful, crying, smiling, and compelled to watch more.
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Brilliant work from Allan Hawco (of course), Greg Byrk, Amy Louise Wilson, Sandra Caldwell, Louis Gossett Jr., Cuba Gooding Jr., Lyriq Bent, Jane Alexander, ok, the whole cast is amazing.

Hard to believe people are still sold into slavery.

How is that still a thing?

“She asked why I was so black. I asked why she was so white. She said she was born that way. Same here, I replied.” ~Lawrence Hill

Images courtesy of the CBC

Posted in Books, Canada, Political, Televison, Uncategorized, Zombies

It’s all about the Target Base not the Tribbles

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I have expectations on the brain, I blame Charles Dickens who lured me into rereading Great Expectations. Dickens was using expectations in the archaic sense, a legacy or prospects, aka money, but also that Pip, our young hero had hopes about living better, loving, having a full life. We continue to posture and pose about raising expectations, making all the appropriate noises to end poverty, disease, war, inequality, abuse, etc., yet we appear to be backsliding. How much has essentially changed since Dickens wrote this vivid classic over 150 years ago?
Poverty still stalks too many.
Too many still prey on the vulnerable.
The human race remains a perplexing blend of: compassion, drama, wonder, trauma, hope, stupidity, love, ignorance, arrogance, sorrow, creativity, absurdity, brilliance, mayhem, joy, and the grotesque.

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Could be our expectations are unrealistic. What we expect isn’t always what we get. Canadians thought they were getting the same Target they’d shopped at in America, instead they got an understocked, overpriced cut-rate copy, so Target is closing all it’s Canadian stores. Not a loss to me, I don’t shop there, but I have empathy for those losing their jobs. It’s not a surprise, Target came into Canada blowing it’s trumpet, expecting to dominate, but if you want to woo customers, you have to do something more than show up. Companies often enter marketplaces without their ducks in a row, Target just did it on a grand scale. Mexx and Sony (maybe they can blame North Korea) are also leaving Canada. Suncor and Bombardier (what is the world coming to when the rich can’t afford extra luxury jets?) are cutting their workforces. All about plunging oil prices? Easier to think that comfortable excuse than the truth; we’ve made mistakes that need addressing.

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The human race is a brave lot when attacked by: aliens, zombies, megalomaniacs, dragons, machines, corrupt politicians and corporate entities, evil overlords, anything even remotely supernatural, well, just about anything that tries to curtail our freedoms.
At least fictionally brave.
In real life, we want to be brave, but it’s not as easy as it looks on the big screen, our computers, TVs, smartphones and even those old-fashioned, what are they called again, oh yes, books.
I sometimes wonder, if zombies really roamed the streets would we just offer them our brains?
Oh look! Aliens! Hey, I like your ship, please enslave us.

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Posted in Canada, Cats, Christmas, Food, Holidays, Uncategorized

Oh Snow, You Didn’t!

1snow3Looking out my window last night, into the dark, still night as I always do before bed, you know, as everyone does to make sure there are no zombies, aliens, purges, or other issues, I noticed a new menace!

This was a foe I’d met before.
Sneaky and untimely, it had arrived.
On the surface it was bright, sparkly and gave the street a contemporary Currier and Ives appearance, but I knew it for what it was!
Snowmg, this was too soon.
I thought, Oh Hell Snow!
Snow way!

The only dashing I wanted to do was down to the park to play some tennis or to take a long walk, in shoes.
No jingling. No jangling. No turtledoves or French hens.
No lords leaping or otherwise.
No fat man with a hidden address going on my roof. What is with Christmas anyway? Having children sit on some strangers’ lap and tell him the thing they want most in the world so he can break into their house, eat their food, drink their beverages, leave them gifts after watching them sleep. That’s just freaky.

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I don’t want wassail or fruitcake, wait, it’s cold, I’ll take the wassail, but not the wassailers, too early.
4 cups apple cider, or apple juice, or 6 cored apples & 4 tbsp. sugar, honey, or maple syrup (or a combination depending how sweet a tooth you have)
2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups orange juice
3 tbsp. lemon juice
2 cups water
4 sticks of cinnamon or 1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. Cloves, ginger, nutmeg (or not)

All the ingredients in a large pot, on low for 6-8 hrs; all day in a slow cooker.
Add wine or brandy or rum for adults.
Orange slices and cranberries for decoration.

Snow is not a signal to start Christmas cheer yet. No shopping and definitely no fa la laing. No singing loud for all the world to hear. Signed, The Grinch.

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I was enjoying other people’s posts on snow, then it got real. How can I originally be from near Sudbury and still be this traumatized by snow? No idea.

Fine. Bring it on.
Polar Vortex. Snowmageddon. Snownado. Snowzilla.

Snow wars. Snow conflict. Snowpocalypse.

Quietus snowus. Snow-nihilation.

Snowreaper. The oncoming snowstorm.

Just know that I will grumble. I will say, How about this snow? Brrr, it’s cold and the classic, Is there more snow than last year?

Snow there, Mother Nature, snow there!

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Posted in Books, Canada, Uncategorized

Smart as a whip and ready to crack

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Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking,
Socrates, Bach, da Vinci, Mozart,
Darwin, Tesla, Kepler, Galileo,
Newton, Van Gogh, Pythagoras,
Bell, Homer (obviously not Simpson),
Shakespeare, Hippocrates, Marie Curie,
Gandhi, Edison, Kant, Plato, Banting,
High IQs or gifted in immeasurable ways?
Does a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) =
success, fame, fortune, or happiness?
Does having high IQ matter if you can’t use it effectively?
Traditional definitions of intelligence can be restrictive, but thankfully, that thought process is being widely challenged.

The world is now all about: smartphones, smart cards, smart bombs, smart TVs, smart water, smart cars, hmmm, does this sound like we might be overcompensating? Is our stuff getting smarter than us, and does that matter?1IQ12

I had to know, what is Beyond IQ, so being a nosy parker, I read the book of the same name by Garth Sundem (Three Rivers Press). Countless MacGyver references and quizzes later – I didn’t include my scores, I didn’t want to make anyone feel bad also, I, umm, forgot to keep them, and a dog randomly came into my house and ate them, but I assure you they would’ve made Stephen Hawking so totally jealous. This entertaining and enlightening book vividly highlights how practical intelligence can be even more important than standard or analytical intelligence, but then why are we so obsessed with knowing everyone’s IQ?

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There’s even a new CBC show, Canada’s Smartest Person, loosely based on Harvard professor and psychologist Howard Gardner’s absorbing 1983 book, Frames of Mind (Fontana Press) where Gardner outlines his theory of multiple intelligences. Obviously they didn’t waste time on politicians, if they’re intelligent most of them are hiding it well. Gardner and others have suggested our abilities, aptitudes, skills, and even quirks make us intelligent in a way that can’t be measured on a standardized test.
We know negative factors can lower our intelligence so can adding positive factors make us smarter? It’s worth a try.

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Still don’t know all the answers, but I’m going with this, intelligence shouldn’t be measured in how smart you can be on a test, but about how you can use your smarts. By Jove, I think I’ve got it!