Incognito

My column this week:

I am now driving a green minivan. How is that for an opening line that just grabs you? Well, my vehicle (not particularly of choice but of necessity) is just as I guessed, first cousin to the vehicle deemed to be at the top of the heap of “bland” vehicles. This was so declared by Mike Schlee at AutoGuide.com. He unabashedly chose the Kia Sedona Van as his choice to be at top of “bland mountain”. (Picture me wiping sweat off my brow in relief because my van was not named specifically–although he did say that “minivans are as indiscreet as it comes in the automotive world.” I think he meant to say discreet, but who am I to nitpick when it comes to blandness?) By the way, my van is a vintage Dodge Caravan that just barely makes it into the 21st century.

Backstory
I am driving a green minivan because some kid ran into my car in November of 2013. At the corner of Queen Street and Mill Street West. He hit me so hard that my car almost 360ed. I found myself on the opposite side of the intersection, turned almost completely around. With my right foot hard on the brake. So hard, that my right knee is now paying the price—but that is another story. Thank God we were in town, and speeds were not excessive—or I may not be telling you my merry story right now.

Just before my car was hit, I saw the surprised look on the driver’s face as the fact that he was going to run into me registered. I can only imagine the look he saw on mine. Surprise tinged with terror is my best guess. The sound of the impact was sickening. Metal hitting metal is not a good sound. I was so relieved to find myself safe and fairly sound that the fact of the accident did not fully hit me at the time. It has since, and my knee seems to be a daily reminder.

Was he texting? I don’t know—though my husband has put forth that theory. His explanation for not seeing the stop sign at the four way stop was that his attention was being taken away from the road by the passengers in the car. So who knows? The end result is that my car was totalled. Not crushed up in a tiny ball—but totalled so far as it could not be driven.

The policeman who showed up at the scene was compassionate. I think he thought I was a little nuts as I was worried about the kid who hit me. He, in essence, put the blame where it should be and explained to me that I was not at fault and how the accident likely happened.

Of course there was a little trouble getting what we thought we deserved from the insurance company, (which was not much considering the age of my car) but the local agent was great and helped us through. And we finally got close to what we thought we deserved….just enough to buy an older, used van with great mileage.

Regret and Contentment
I loved the little car I was driving and had inherited from my father-in-law at the time of the accident. It was a champagne coloured Aurora. I know you are not supposed to call a vehicle “cute” so I will call it “sporty” and “classy” instead. But really, I think it was cute. And it went fast. Like lightning. Not that I would know—except the few times I let her go on the McCain Sideroad. I really, really liked that car, even though by today’s standards it was ancient.

When I cranked up the radio and rock and rolled around town I did not look ridiculous (okay, maybe a little), but cranking up the radio in a minivan and bopping to the music does look ridiculous. But I don’t care. I still do it.
And if truth be told, I kind of like the van. It is the ultimate in incognito. Looks like I have nothing to prove. No red convertible with the top down for me (though in my heart of hearts I really do want a red convertible). Now, all I have to do is remember where I park it—because quite literally, everyone and their dog have a green van. I am ashamed to say I have climbed in the driver’s seat of a couple (people don’t you lock your doors?) before I realized it was not mine.

Published in: on July 4, 2015 at 8:06 pm  Comments (2)  

T.G.I.F.: It’s been a long (very) week!

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

This says (shows) it all………..

Originally posted on Live & Learn:

cute


Source: themetapicture.com.  (Thank you Susan for sharing the sleepy little elephant)

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Published in: on July 3, 2015 at 3:29 pm  Comments (7)  

True Patriot Love in All of Us Command

My weekly column which is timed for the 1st of July, Canada Day. Happy 4th to our neighbours, the U.S.:

“With or without the Royals, we are not Americans.
Nor are we British. Or French. Or Void. We are
something else.” ~ Will Ferguson

It is official. It is now summer. Not meteorological summer which apparently started on June 1st. Or unofficial summer which generally in Canada, is thought to be the Victoria Day weekend. It is now real and true summer. Sunday past was the longest daylight day of the year, and fast its heels is our celebration next week of Canada Day.

There have been many a rant on what it is to be Canadian—we went from not being sure who we were, to being a hockey playing, beer swilling, maple syrup pouring people. But we are much more than that. Personally I cannot imagine being anything but a Canadian. I love my country as much as one can love something which at first glance seems to be inanimate.

After all our country is made up of the usual things—trees, water, terra firma, mountains, hills, valleys, prairies etc. But Canada is its people, and as such we are not inanimate at all.

Anyone who has been backpacking in Europe knows the power of having our flag proudly displayed on their backpack. The tiny symbol sewn onto a piece of canvas is powerful. People generally like Canadians. And why? Because on the whole, we are pretty darn nice people. Okay, admittedly we all know some pretty rotten people, who just happen to be Canadian, but for purposes of this column they are nonentities or persona(s) non grata.

Lots of famous people have commented on Canada. One of my favourites comes from Jane Fonda, and no matter what your feelings are about the actress—she did get this right. She said that, “When I’m in Canada, I feel this is what the world should be like.” Yes, we have our problems, but observed by someone outside our boundaries, we look pretty darn good.

Winston Churchill once declared our future as having “no limits”. He predicted that Canada had a “majestic future” and that our people are “virile, aspiring, cultured and generous-hearted ”. He may have been tippling at the time of this statement, but obviously it did not affect his judgment.

In the quote that opens this column Will Ferguson defines who we are not and says: “We are something else.” I agree with him, but not with how he completes his thought. He says that “the sooner we define (ourselves) the better.” This is old thinking. We have defined ourselves. I think each individual Canadian knows in her/his heart just what kind of person they are, and at heart that person is a Canadian.

Will’s book with his brother Ian, “How to be Canadian” written in 2001 is already a bit long in the tooth, but some of the questions in their quiz at the back of the book are still relevant. This is my rendition of the quiz using my own scoring system with a bit of help from the Brothers Ferguson. Also, it will help you if you are of a “certain age”:

1. If you hear the name Elvis and immediately think of figure skating ~ 1 point
2. If you still don’t know the capital of New Brunswick ~ 1 point
3. If you have ever posed for a picture beside a Big Object next to a highway ~ 1 point
4. If you have ever curled ~ 1 point
5. If you were the skip ~ 1 point
6. If you have ever been to Niagara Falls ~ 1 point
7. …..in a barrel ~ 50 points
8. If you still know all the words to the Molson “I am Canadian” rant ~ minus 50 points
9. If you are proud to be Canadian, even if you don’t watch hockey, swill beer, or smother stuff with maple syrup ~ 50 points ~ because Canadian are (mostly) tolerant.

Happy Canada Day to all, and to all a good summer!

So what do you do to celebrate Canada’s birthday? And those of you who are not Canadian–besides Americans, who I know celebrate on the 4th–when and how do you celebrate? Answers from you 4th of Julyers are more than welcome.

Published in: on June 25, 2015 at 8:54 pm  Comments (11)  

Just a Thought

Why do I rail at words that are spelled incorrectly but when I do it, think I should be forgivne?

Published in: on June 24, 2015 at 12:46 pm  Comments (15)  

In zealous agreement

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

I am sure all you fathers out there agree……

Originally posted on Live & Learn:

Fathers-Day-daughter-son-parent

Scott Addington writes, “As is often the case, my purpose became clearly evident after I had stopped looking for it. On October 11, 1995, my daughter was born. Beginning with that moment, there has never been the slightest doubt regarding the purpose and source of meaning in my life. Being a father is the most meaningful and rewarding pursuit a man could ever hope to experience.”

~ David Brooks, Hearts Broken Open


Photo: wilstar

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Published in: on June 21, 2015 at 10:55 am  Comments (1)  

Perfect Moment

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

well written–I am rethinking the “perfect moment”….

Originally posted on ScribbleDartsfromtheHeart:

perfectmoment

(imagechef.com)

I am waiting for the perfect moment
to make my move and call.
I am waiting for my calendar to clear
to be able to sit for awhile.

I am waiting until I know
that we won’t be interrupted,
I don’t want my message to be
misinterpreted or corrupted.

As I wait for the perfect moment
I know the years are passing
but my courage is also growing,
expanding and amassing.

And now here I lie
on my deathbed ready to expire…
I never found the perfect moment
to which I had aspired.

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Published in: on June 17, 2015 at 1:06 pm  Comments (1)  

Every Day is Father’s Day

This week’s column is timely:

I have a picture of my Dad, and on the back of it, in my dad’s rather elegant script is the name: Ed Geauvreau and date: 1933. Since he was born in 1919, Dad would have been 14 when the picture was taken. In an exercise for a writing workshop I described the picture as thus:

“He clambered atop the tall tree stump. Cut three feet above the ground, he surveyed the world around him from his solid perch. The tree had just been toppled by his dad and uncle and was being hacked by an axe that had seen better days. The pieces of wood strewn around the base of the stump would be fed to the wood stove inside the old log cabin he called home. That little black pot-bellied stove was the only thing that kept their cabin warm in the winter. Right now the memory of the acrid smell of burning wood teased his nostrils.

“I am the king of the world!” he announced to the squirrels scrambling through the woods, hither and thither as squirrels are wont to do in the fall. He stripped off his thick sweater and pulled up his scratchy wool socks. His bulky knickers were made even more cumbersome by the contents of his pockets. The balled up handkerchief his mother made him carry shared space with his pocket knife, some smooth stones he had fancied, and a bunch of hickory nuts he had gathered and stored away until he got home and could crack them open with a hammer. It was the “dirty thirties” and conspicuous in their absence from his pockets were coins.”

I took some artistic licence in describing my dad in the picture, or more accurately in describing some of the details of his life. He was standing on a stump. The stump was three feet off the ground, and he did look like “the king of the world”. But I have no idea what was in his pockets—I just guessed. And he did not live in a log cabin (though I believe there was a log cabin on his dad’s farm property). I have no idea who cut the tree down, or why the stump was so tall. But the stump was in a forest bare of leaves and dad was standing on that stump looking both pensive and rascally.

He had his hands tucked into the pockets of his sweater and he looked like an active fourteen year old caught in a moment of inaction. Though the picture did not show a close up of his face, if one peers at it intently, one can see the beginnings of a grin, and imagine the thought process of the young teenager. He looked like he was thinking—“let’s get this over with so I can get back to more important things ” which I imagine included gathering stones and nuts and using his pocketknife to whittle some of the wood at the base of the stump.

If my dad were still in this dimension rather than the next he would be 96. I miss him every day, but I am grateful that I was one of the apples of his eye—the other three being my brothers and sister, and later—his grandchildren. My dad was my champion—anything I endeavoured to do he believed I could do it. And he believed that of all his children.

He held down responsible jobs over his lifetime—the last and longest at Ontario Hydro. But he was a musician first and foremost. He and his dad and brother were quite a popular dance “band” back in the day, and it was something that was reignited in the last decade and a half of his life. He could not read music, but he could play professionally anything that had strings—from the fiddle to the banjo to the guitar to a little ukulele we gave him when we were kids.
I have a bit of a creative bent, but I can barely carry a tune in a tin bucket (or whatever that cliché is). My eldest son seems to be carrying on the music tradition and his love of music reminds me so much of his grandfather.

This Father’s Day, as every day, I will be remembering all the wonderful things that my father taught me and thank my lucky stars for being afforded such a wonderful dad. Just because he is not physically here does not mean that he is not here with me. Love you, dad. Happy Father’s Day!

Published in: on June 16, 2015 at 10:11 am  Comments (12)  

Hello?

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

perfect thought for a Sunday,…..

Originally posted on Live & Learn:

light-heaven-clouds

[…] I ask nothing more of God
than a very slight little tap,
coming to answer yes to my question…

~ Hélène Cixous, from “The Cauliflower of the Lautaret,” Love Itself: In the Letter Box


Notes: Quote Source: Journey of Words. Helene Cixous’ full passage on Google Books. Photograph: Petrified Tears

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Published in: on June 14, 2015 at 12:55 pm  Comments (2)  

When

At a poetry workshop last February I wrote two versions of the same poem. Tell me which one you like best. My fellow poets liked the “darker” one best. Here they are: the lighter one first; the darker one follows:

When
When I was younger
I dreamt dreams
of forever.

Now
I dream dreams
of maybe, perhaps, could be…

I know I will be happy
When
My dreams come true.

When ll
When I was younger
I dreamt dreams
Of forever

Now
I dream dreams
Of maybe, perhaps, could be…

I know
I will be sad
When there are no more dreams.

Published in: on June 11, 2015 at 2:34 pm  Comments (24)  

Astonished

Have you ever read a book that was written just for you? You recognize yourself in the character if it is a novel, or you are the sole audience member if it is non-fiction? Right now I am reading such a book, and though I know it was not written just for me as that would not be economically feasible (made more so by the fact that it is a library book) the author seems to know me startlingly well.

The genre the book is listed under is “creativity”. I like the niche it has carved for itself, because it speaks to me on a level that is disquieting in one way, but “creatively” comforting in another. How does the author know me so well? I have come to the conclusion that I am not as “unique” (read: weird) as I thought. Apparently there are a lot of people out there somewhat like me who would benefit from the author’s expertise, which she shares quite generously. But what I find so endearing is that she admits her expertise was hard won.

The book is called “Get It Done” and while it brings the Nike factor of “Just Do It” to mind, it is a little more hands on than the shoe manufacturer’s commercial. The author, Sam Bennett tells us how to “get it done” without admonishing us. “Just do it” seems a bit judgmental and heavily relies on pulling yourself up by your bootstraps (perhaps because it is a manufacturer of footwear, and not into deep soul-searching.)

“Get It Done” is gentle on the creative soul; understanding of fallow times when you just can’t seem to come up with the next idea; and prods us in a mellow, almost soothing way to find the means to “get it done”. “It”, of course can be anything. While Sam is all for us getting our creative selves going, she understands that we are not just solely creative beings—we have lives that entail taking out the garbage, working at jobs that at times do not seem creative, and getting supper on the table.

I am not quite half way through the book yet, but have found that a lot her ideas are not too extravagant to try. Many creatives hide behind procrastination. If we cannot do something perfectly, well then, we might as well not do it at all. Sam says that “Procrastination is an insidious demon that must be fought with every weapon we have.” She equates it with perfectionism which she says “turns procrastination into a virtue.” During a particularly anxious time in her life, she came up with an antidote to the procrastination/perfectionism conundrum. She decided that if she could not disabuse herself wholly of the syndrome, then she would “just try to get a C—which is the grade you get for showing up and doing the work. Not doing the work better than anyone else, not doing extra-credit work—just showing up and doing the work.”

Now, many of us would not be satisfied with a C. (Though to be honest, getting a C in my beloved subjects of English and journalism would have been a death knell; getting a C in math would have been a bonus for me.) Sam defends “getting a C” for two reasons: first she says “your version of a C is probably everybody else’s version of an A”; and secondly, getting the work out there is the important step, because once it is done, you can always improve it. She once defined perfectionism as “a hobby for people who didn’t have anything better to do with their time” even though she herself suffered from the malady.

I am going to leave you with one of her “Nearly Miraculous Habits” which I think is so doable in getting something done. She says that if she could “actually make us do stuff” the first thing she would do is convince us to spend 15 minutes a day “each and every day working on (our) project”. She believes that we will “be flat-out astonished by how much progress (we) will make. If you spend 15 minutes a day writing a novel, eventually you will have a novel. If you spend fifteen minutes a day working on your abs, pretty soon you’ll have strengthened your core.”

I don’t know about you—but I am ready to be astonished.

Published in: on June 10, 2015 at 12:31 pm  Comments (18)  
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