Friday Fodder

we all need to read this…

Brigitte's Banter

I have been absent from this platform for a while. I often think of abandoning it altogether but I never do. I’m not sure why and I’m not sure blogging is even a “thing” anymore. Seems as if we abbreviate and shorten our thoughts more than expressing them in detail.

Blog = dinosaur Twitter, instagram, snapchat and all the other ones = Cool hipster Guy Blog = dinosaur
Twitter, instagram, snapchat and all the other ones = Cool hipster Guy

This isn’t about getting on a soapbox of the state of affairs of our country. I still believe with all my heart and soul most people want the best for others, want to do their best and want us all to get along. You don’t see that if you turn on the television so I tend to keep it turned off. It doesn’t mean I don’t keep up with what’s going on. It means that I’m choosy about how I spend my time and spending…

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Published in: on February 26, 2017 at 4:25 pm  Comments (2)  

A heartfelt goodbye

“Exotic and heartfelt stories of life in small-town Canada.

Of life in Canada. Period.” -The Toronto Star

I miss his voice. His stories. But most of all I miss his heart. In the local Saturday daily there was an editorial cartoon depicting Stuart McLean with a red maple leaf drawn where his heart would be. He was a Canadian through and through and the depiction of his heart as a maple leaf was probably the best homage to this brilliant and funny and lovely man I have run across.

Best known as the host of the CBC Radio program, The Vinyl Café, he literally took his show on the road and I am honoured to have sat in the audience of one of his Christmas shows about ten years ago. He signed one of my books. (Or, if we are being honest here, one of his books that I bought.) He was shy. I was shy. But he signed one of my books, so I was happy.

He has been described as a national treasure. And a story telling comic, though many of his stories were as poignant as they were funny. According to one of my favorite literary sources, Wikipedia, he was lauded with the facility to celebrate “the decency and dignity of ordinary people” (like you and me). Grace and humour were his tools, and he wielded them with, well… grace and humour.

You can Google Stuart McLean and find out all sorts of things. Like his first name is Andrew. But Andy McLean just doesn’t seem right. Stuart does—it has a ring to it—one of authenticity. Not of course that there is anything wrong with Andy, it is just not how we know him

I could quote any number of newspapers and people who think Stuart is the best thing next to sliced bread. In fact I will, just to show you how loved he was:

According to the Vancouver Sun, he was “Like a tonic for our national ills…as penetrating as the wind on a cold Prairie Day.” I agree with the first part. I have no knowledge of the second part, but if it was in the Vancouver Sun, it must be true.

Or the Halifax News who praised his “slice of life vignettes” as humorous and poignant revelations and simple truths. We all know that “simple truths” are somewhat slippery beings, but Stuart was a master at finding them.

The Ottawa Citizen summed up Stuart in one very telling paragraph that I could not agree with more. I have the book that they are describing, and it mirrors my manifestation of the man perfectly: “Delivered in a simple style, liberally spiced with humour and understanding of what make people tick, “Stories from the Vinyl Café” presents vivid pictures of an assortment of ordinary situations. Witty and warm, the 18 stories in this collection…make easy reading as well as pleasant listening.”

Witty and warm. There are not two better words in the English language to describe this man taken way too soon. Unless of course, you add compassionate, patriotic (but not in a ranting sort of way—but by action), and intelligent.

There is a vast intelligence under the guise of simple story telling. We knew Dave, Stuart’s main Vinyl Cafe character, who was the hapless owner of a record store, and his wise wife Morley, and their two kids. Stuart got inside the mind of his character(s), the thoughts Dave thought are those that many of us have (whether we want to admit it or not).

A Canadian voice, he has not been silenced by death. We have his books. We have his recorded voice. We have our memories….

Good-bye Stuart.

On Another Note

Enjoyed a glass of wine at one of the local wineries on Sunday. Outside. Without a coat on. It is February. A bunch of people were sitting in a semi-circle around an outside brick fireplace. Just a random gathering. We talked, we laughed, we sipped wine. It is just this type of chance get-together and the warm comraderie that makes me happy to live in this county and in my small town. Stuart would be proud.

Published in: on February 22, 2017 at 2:32 pm  Comments (11)  

February: stream of consciousness*

 

 

 

It is February. I thought I would state that unequivocally and upfront so that I do not lose my status as one for the obvious. I have decided this year to just settle on the fact that though this is the shortest month of the year, it really is the longest. It is midwinter, it is going to be cold, and so I am just not going to fight it. And you have to admit it, the snow on the ground is beautiful—white and crisp and sparkly–although tomorrow it will most likely be rained away. I am going to enjoy it for today, the heck with tomorrow. (I believe this is called living in the moment—others may call it denial, but 6 of that, half a dozen of the other.)

Even though I do not have a meteorological degree, I do not depend on a little furry creature to predict when spring will come. Face it, spring is six weeks away, or winter will be at least six weeks longer. It is a great tradition to have the little guy poke his head out and either see his shadow or not, but seriously folks, he is not fooling us. The American guy predicts 6 more weeks of winter, and our little guy predicts six more weeks until spring. The difference is huge. Or non-existent. Depends on which side of the glass half full, half empty school you belong to. Personally, I like the theory that it does not matter whether it is half full or empty—all that matters is that you can fill it up again. (Who says I am not philosophical—these are exactly the little gems you tune in for each week—my wise observations stolen from the Internets.)

How about that Super Bowl—another great February tradition. Went to bed with the Falcons ahead—by a lot. Got up to the Patriots winning. Just goes to show you—never give up hope. Though I do feel sorry for the Atlanta guys—you think you have things wrapped up and then the bow gives way. As Roseanna Roseannadanna (Gilda Radner’s iconic SNL character) used to say: “It’s always something…”

I am a new fan of Lady Gaga. Saw her half-time show on Facebook and was duly impressed. Is it a bird, is it a plane—no it was Super Gaga. (You had to see it). I figure if Tony Bennett likes her, that is good enough for me. (I have just recently become a fan of his too—used to think of him as of my parents’ generation, but as I have gotten older, I have gotten wiser. Cough, cough…)

So, what is the other big news this month of 28 days? (Have you been caught by that new internet questionnaire that asks how many months have 28 days? I have and am so proud of myself for saying all of them. Will not tell you though how long I pondered that question.) I have veered off topic again—something I am wont to do. The other big deal is that Valentine’s Day is coming up. Love or hate it, it is a reality, but in my book, anything that celebrates over priced chocolate and roses worth their weight in gold can’t be all bad. (Or can it? —another existential question with no answer.)

As an older (yet still strikingly immature) married woman, Valentine’s Day does not have the hold on me as it did in my younger dating days. I kind of hated the day sometimes, and loved it other times—but always resented the fact that a stupid holiday could have such an effect on me. I think that manipulative holidays should be outlawed, but hey, that is just my humble opinion.

Valentine’s Day would also have been my youngest older brother John’s 71st birthday. In his memory, I am determined to raise a Manhattan –a drink that was one of his favourites. I have never had one before, but will make the ultimate “sacrifice” in his honour. Also, my nephew Mark is celebrating his 50th on Tuesday the 7th. (Happy Birthday Mark!) I was a mere kid when he was born—just saying’…

Every month has its special days, but I think February is unique in that it celebrates not only sports, family, and love, but furry animal predictions. These celebrations are the cornerstones of our lives—and demarcations of a life well-lived. In that spirit, I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day, and may you celebrate it as you see fit.

 

*In literary criticism, stream of consciousness is a narrative mode or device that depicts the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind. The term was coined by William James in 1890 in his The Principles of Psychology…(Wikipedia)

Published in: on February 9, 2017 at 4:32 pm  Comments (11)  

chaos averted

 

I have a function on my laptop that says: “Ask me anything.” On occasion, I use it rather than Google. It does not always provide me with an answer that is exactly what I am looking for but this morning when I asked “What should my column be about this week” I was provided with a number of options—none of which really answered my plea directly, but at least one got my brain-addled creative juices flowing.

What was it you ask? It was a column by Mimi Wuest called “Why I can’t write my column this week…” (Citing my source, it is wisnews.com—the Reedsburg Time Press). Ms. Wuest said that she could not write her column “because life is pretty chaotic right now.” Then she proceeded to write a column about the chaos. The first chaotic reason was that her husband was having knee surgery, and what she was doing in preparation for his recovery at home. The second reason she could not write a column was that she was starting a new semester teaching at College and was spending her time “composing new tortures to inflict” on her students.

I am going to take a page out of Wuest’s book, and tell you why I can’t write my column this week and it has nothing to do with major surgery or coming up with ways to torture people. But it does have to do with chaos. Right now, it seems that we are living in a world of uncertainty, which is not all that unusual, but it is. There seems to be chaos on all sides: from the tragedy in Quebec City at the mosque; the Trump presidency where we are wondering with bated breath where he will go next and what he will do when he gets there; our own Prime Minister’s seemingly innocent tweet about inclusion which may have been ill-timed; the flu epidemic (which I have fallen victim to); and the death of my heroine, Mary Tyler Moore.

There are lots of other things I am not mentioning. Chaos has no beginning and no end. One event may get resolved but another takes its place swiftly and/or simultaneously, giving us little time to recover. The word of the day, the week, the month is overwhelmed. Too much is happening—how do we harness it; how to we deal with it; how do we get past it? The simple answer is: we don’t. We have to find ways to get through it.

In this column, I try not to pass judgement. (Try being the operative word here). You do not really want to hear my political views, which if I am truthful, are rather chaotic themselves. I am at times angry, resigned, puzzled, and on my way to losing hope. Other times I grasp at the straws handed out none too judiciously, and hope is at least a glimmer. So instead of talking about world problems, of which there are plenty, I am going to regale you with my ode to Mary Tyler Moore.

Illustrating the fact that even “a blind squirrel finds a nut” once in a while, I happened upon the Comedy Channel yesterday afternoon while ensconced on my couch vegging out (which is one way to treat the flu) and came across a short marathon of my heroine’s 1970’s program. Seven shows (which may have come from each of the seven seasons the program aired) were shown—the first and last, and from what I can figure out, one for every year in between.

I lay on the couch basking in my luck—many of the programs I had not seen before, but it brought back those late teenage years and early twenties when I thought I had the world by the tail. And the program—though slightly dated by today’s standards, withstood the test of time. She was at once vulnerable and independent, smart but humble, and her comic timing was impeccable. Like Lucille Ball, she was a beautiful woman who was not afraid of humiliation. And that is one of the things I admire most about her and the program—she was not afraid to go there—and she did it with class. Comic class, but class nonetheless.

I was a girl brought up not to see inequality. My parents and my siblings never expressed the thought that I could not do something because I was a girl (except once in high school when my mom told me I could not hit a girl in my class who had pushed me into my locker—I really, really wanted to hit that girl). I came to women’s liberation (as it was called back then) as naturally as a fish to water and I have never struggled with my role in society. Besides my family, I give Mary Tyler Moore the credit for that. Thank you, Mary. That was at least one chaos you helped me avoid.

Published in: on February 2, 2017 at 3:43 pm  Comments (13)  

groundhog.

good advice….

I didn't have my glasses on....

coffee-art-groundhog-day-2016-2
“turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.”

~maori proverb

happy groundhog day

and

may your face find the sun.

image credit: angel sarkela-saur

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Published in: on February 2, 2017 at 11:09 am  Comments (1)