Public Defiance

The number of COVID-positives are on the rise again and as the numbers increase, so too does the anxiety that many of my friends are feeling. Folks are swamped with pandemic worries and they’re wondering what, if anything, they can do to benefit themselves and others.

WEAR. A. MASK.

Please, please wear a mask when you’re with other people!

Almost daily I almost (I’m always alert) bump into folks not wearing masks. Almost daily there are stories of anti-maskers on the news broadcasts and social media feeds. People from all parts of Canada, folks I know and probably people you know too, with diverse educational backgrounds, encompassing all socioeconomic variables, all refusing to wear a mask because it impinges on their freedoms. They’re proceeding “business as usual” in their daily lives, they’re gathering in groups with scant attention to physical distancing recommendations, walking the streets, carrying placards and chanting, all the while with no face coverings. They claim they’re demonstrating in support of their civil rights.

NO! Please don’t confuse these wilful acts of public defiance, of recalcitrance, with altruistic, humanitarian protests – that would be an insult to all the dedicated individuals who worked so hard to achieve social justice this summer. These are acts of rebellion, pure and simple born, perhaps, of pandemic boredom. Anti-maskers are provoking, no daring anyone and everyone to argue with them for the sport of defending a position they supposedly hold dear. This is an overt display of contempt for the medical officers of health, for the front-line medical workers and for the laws of our  government. Their petty remarks and constant whinging are an effrontery.

“Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”*

Protests are invaluable in the fight for racial equality and social justice, as we’ve seen this summer. BLM has used the art of the protest brilliantly, fuelling participation from musicians, athletes and, this weekend, actors at the Emmy Awards. They are to be lauded, one and all. I’m not against protesting, not one whit. I am opposed to perversity and spite.

“Ye cannot live for yourselves; a thousand fibres connect you with your fellow-men, and along those fibres, as along sympathetic threads, run your actions as causes, and return to you as effects.”**

Cause and effect. A concept Ontarians all Canadians need to personally drill down on in the days and weeks ahead if we’re again to flatten the curve. Never in our lifetime has it been more crucial to heed the Reverend Melvill’s admonition, to ask ourselves if our actions are for the benefit of ourselves or others, indeed if our actions pose a threat to others. We need to think for ourselves, and about others.

The coronavirus affects certain people much more acutely than others – the elderly, those with existing ailments, those with compromised immune systems and those having undergone Immunotherapy treatment. Each one of those souls depends upon the public’s perseverance, their commitment to responsible action and their adherence to public health recommendations. For those deemed most vulnerable, the wearing of masks – by everyone – is utterly essential – a life-and-death practice, if you will. They rely daily upon such dedication to cause. I know this because I’m one of them. ‘Though I am loathe to admit it, I find myself in that vulnerable demographic and I so badly need everyone to remember that we’re all connected by invisible threads and that along these sympathetic fibres, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.

I implore everyone to intentionally be of value to your family, friends and community by wearing a mask at all times when you’re with other people. Everyone’s cooperation and steadfastness is desperately needed. Right now! We all have a role to play during this pandemic and yes, most of us are unhappy with our lot, but this is not the time for complaining, revolt or despair. This is the time to ensure our actions are for the benefit of ourselves and others, to ensure our right actions run as causes and return to us as positive results.

’Til next time, y’all…

*J.R. Lewis

**Rev. Henry Melvill, 1798-1871. Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, Church of England. He graduated, St. John’s College, University of Cambridge: B.A. 1821, M.A. 1824, and B.D. 1836. Of note, the Bachelor of Divinity, the highest ranking bachelor’s degree, is the most senior academic achievement, superior to a doctorate.  

Rhapsody In Blue*

Someone Who Likes To Rock – Emendari

“The melody of that bitter-sweet pleasure settled into my heart;
my personal Rhapsody in Blue, if you will.”*

Sitting in Dad’s chair for the past ten evenings – relaxing, rocking and lulled by its calming to-and-fro motion – was utterly lovely but now the melody of that bitter-sweet pleasure is but a memory.

The thing about living in a very small house is that every square inch matters – there are none to spare. The footstool that contributed so much to the chair’s comfort seemed always to be in the way, a trip hazard even, located as it was (needed be) in the doorway to our den, one of the most-used portals in our home. 

Space is only part of the problem, in truth, the smallest bit. The chair is in desperate need of refurbishment – foam and upholstery – which is not in our budget now, nor in the foreseeable future. Though it pains me to admit, this is probably not the chair for me. I knew it was time for another audition but was loathe to tell my long-suffering gem.

Like ripping off the bandage, I blurted out my wish to exchange chairs just before lunchtime. Now yes, I do realize my timing was abominable – I’d have likely had a much better response had I waited ’til his tummy was full, but out it came and other than giving me “the look”, Cam dutifully arose and began the exchange… Downstairs first with the footstool and two cushions, back upstairs with the next candidate (which is über-heavy and awkward to carry), then downstairs again with the frame of the rocker. There was but one comment, at least there’s only one more chair you can try. My Cameron is:

Love,
friendship,
happiness,
consideration,
patience,
integrity,
graciousness,
kindness,
and today

Self-Control!

Chair number two is a smallish, compact perhaps, leather recliner that we purchased at the Hyde House in Acton about twenty-five years ago.  It is blue, chosen to match the two quilts that live on our bed in perpetuity, and was needed for Cam’s comfort when  he was on patient monitoring duty back in the good ol’ Toronto General Hospital days.  It seemed necessary that if he were to be confined to our bedroom for such long stretches of time, there at least ought to be a good-sized television and a comfortable chair in the bedroom.  Comfortable but trim enough to squeeze into the corner beside my nightstand and not be in the way. This chair fit the bill splendidly.

Although Cam used the chair so much during those long, arduous years, I’ve barely perched on it (probably just to put on a pair of socks at one time or another).  Our bedroom in this house doesn’t have room for a chair of any size so this baby blue was relegated to the family room in our basement. Hence the audition, with the highest of hopes that this cutie-pie will become my personal Rhapsody in Blue, if you will

Our former chaise de chamber couldn’t be more different from Cam’s armchair – in size, shape and colour – but it does have an edge over the rocker in that it is in mint condition. I gave it a quick test and it seemed soft and cosy.  It doesn’t rock and the dream of a matched set seems to have died on me, but this may prove to be a workable, painless and costless solution.  More to follow…

Til next time, y’all…

*G. Gershwin

Did you take piano lessons too?  At the RCM?  If so, did you also have to learn Mr. Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” preparatory to your grade nine exam?  I hated, HATED it then, but now it’s one of my favourites – I own several recordings by different beloved artists.  Despite modern digital recording technology, my very favourite remains Leonard Bernstein and the Columbia Symphony recorded in 1959 at the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn.  Should you fancy a listen, please click on this link (then scroll down to the red “play” button):  Rhapsody In Blue

#Peaceday

Tomorrow – 21st September 2020 – is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, commonly Peace Day. This year’s theme: Shaping Peace Together

In the interest of shaping peace together, please take the UN’s one minute survey, I did:

UN75 2020 And Beyond: Take the Survey

Please use the hashtags #peaceday and #UN75 with all your social media posts tomorrow – be a voice that is heard, be peace.

Each year on #peaceday the world’s nations unite in their dedication to “the ideals of peace through observing twenty-four hours of non-violence and cease-fire.”* Tomorrow, armies, militia, rebels and historically even terrorists, will lay down their weapons and pause to mark and celebrate #peaceday. A global cease-fire is impressive, make no mistake, even when its duration is a short twenty-four hours, because it proves it can be done, it gives us hope that our consolidated efforts will one day be successful.

Peace is an invaluable, elusive and dynamic state; besides the absence of armed conflict, it means solidarity beyond borders, a harmony which is impossible without racial and social equality and justice.  

“True peace depends on societies being inclusive, healthy and economically stable. It requires a predictable climate, an unpolluted environment and solidarity across community lines.”** 

If we’re to attain this lofty goal, we must be tolerant of all differences. We must be forgiving of real and presumed transgressions. We must demonstrate grace and mercy to all.  We must dedicate ourselves to human rights, health care, economic stability, equality and dignity for all races, religions, genders and nations. It will require an enormous display of love for all humankind.  We will need to be peace.

Peace Day 2020 will be unlike other years; we are unable to assemble and to march together, but we can model social activism for a peaceful world in our homes, on our social media pages and within our communities. Peace begins with each one of us, within each one of us:

“Peace in oneself. Peace in the world.”***

This is a lesson Thay teaches in his podcasts, his lectures and in his book, Being Peace.  I am one of the luckiest ones because I have one of his medallions and I wear it or carry it with me almost always. 

#Peaceday is the opportunity for a world-wide display of being peace by each one of us, of our intent and pledge to create a culture of peace for every soul on the planet.  And wouldn’t that be a magnificent legacy to leave to the next generation!

What you can do:

  1. Organize a UN75 dialogue.  Part of the conversation is a one minute survey.  Please make time in your day to add your voice to the discussion: Take the Survey 
  2. Educate yourself about peace and the groups in your community working toward peace. Consider volunteering.
  3. Engage in acts of kindness and solidarity.

And remember, please use the hashtags #peaceday and #UN75 tomorrow.

Honour the UN crusade by being a daily ambassador of peace through intentional acts of consideration, inclusion, kindness and love, especially in this year of pandemic worries.

 Happy #peaceday!

’Til next time, y’all…

*United Nations

**António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

*** Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, lovingly called “Thay” (the Vietnamese word for teacher) by most.

Hygge

Hygge
(Pronounced “hoo-gah”.)

Hygge is the Danish term for a feeling or moment that is precious and cosy, and autumn positively abounds with such interludes. It’s a season when many of us plan short escapes to the countryside to enjoy the colours, tastes, smells and events that are unique to fall. To seek and to savour hygge.

A cold front blew through Cobourg on Friday morning. The high was only 14℃ and there was a gusty wind that swirled around me when I was walking and every time I stepped out of the car to take a picture.  No mistaking, fall has arrived here in Northumberland County, even though the magnificent autumnal equinox is ten days away yet. The leaves have begun to change colour, Goldenrod is flourishing, Sunflowers are blooming, the Canada Geese are practicing their vee-formation flying ready for the migration they won’t make, and the crops are ripening.

Fall is my favourite season and a Northumberland County autumn is unbeatable. Lots of people agree because every fall, thousands of people from all over Ontario, Quebec and New York State flock to our area.  Northumberland boasts spas, wineries, boutique inns, bistros, corn mazes, festivals, fairs, a haunting experience at Phantom Farm* and… APPLES!  

Northumberland is famous for its annual apple harvest. The small towns dotted along the lakeshore in Northumberland – Port Hope, Cobourg, Grafton, Colborne and Brighton – all on the south side of the Oak Ridges Moraine, form the Cramahe Apple Route. There are lots of U-Pick orchards.  Do apple cake, apple crisp, apple strudel, apple pie and apple muffins all taste better with apples we’ve hand-picked?  Of course!  Our labour of love is the secret ingredient in all apple/cinnamon/sugary goodness.  

There are also farm gate sales, roadside markets and gift shops all offering fresh apples, cider (even the hard variety at Empire Cider), apple ice cream and a mouth-watering variety of apple baked goods.  Hands down, my favourite market is Cricklewood.  The owners and staff are all kindness personified; helpful, friendly and accommodating. And they have more varieties of apples than I even knew existed.  The shop is pure amazingness but the best bit is their world-class corn maze (check out the picture on their webpage!). Maze, as in amazing! Exciting fun, unlimited photo and selfie opportunities, and exercise in the fresh air.  What could be better?

Another star attraction of our county and a huge draw at this time of year is the Northumberland Forest sitting atop the Oak Ridges Moraine. There are 50 kms of trails for hikers of all abilities. For nature lovers there are birds, diverse animal habitats and spectacularly flaming leaves, all enhanced by the cooler temperatures and the absence of enervating humidity.

After a day in the fresh air with the people you love, what could be nicer than cosying up around a roaring fire at the inn with warm drinks, discussing the important things in life.  Or having a desultory chat about nothing in particular. Conviviality. Hygge!  

As we hear over and over again, once here, our visitors usually experience something more spellbinding and enjoyable than the fall festival atmosphere that drew them here in the first place:  The welcoming and relaxing nature of our small towns and the amiability and hospitality of the folks who live here. That ambience and the slower pace of life in the small towns of Northumberland County – our hygge – are what beckons them back year after year.

I hope you have the opportunity to visit us this fall and that once you’ve returned home, and the golden leaves are all brown and crispy on the ground, I hope the cosy feeling you experienced here lingers on.  Keep some of our hygge in your hearts to warm you this winter.  

’Til next time, y’all…

*Sadly remaining closed this year due to COVID-19.

Someone Who Likes To Rock

“and someone who likes to rock, a rocking chair in the middle.”*

Is there anything more evocative of a warm, cosy, loving home than a rocking chair? Back and forth. Back and forth. The familiar motion at once soothing, calming and reassuring. 

When you were growing up, did your home have the “dad chair”?  Mine did and it was splendid.  It was a Colonial style rocker. The frame, back, legs, spindles and arms were maple and it was finished with two dense cushions for the back and seat, upholstered with a thick, soft, red wool fabric. Elegant, stylish (for that era) and oh-so-comfortable.

There has been a little chair drama in the Perrault home this week. Late last fall (nicely in time for Christmas), and after much toing and froing, we splurged on two new arm chairs for our den to replace the two decrepit chairs that we’d been using for decades.  

Our new acquisitions are very large – with high backs and wide, padded arms, upholstered in a deep, rich burgundy leather.  Very handsome indeed, if a little masculine, and Cam is over-the-moon happy with his.  Me, sadly, not so much, and there was a pointed remark at my announcement of dissatisfaction last night. Whilst sitting in the shop trying out the new chair, it seemed perfectly comfortable to me. My problem (okay, one of my problems) is that I have two wonky hips, both due to be replaced and, after sitting in my new chair for a while, they ache terribly. Now what? We absolutely cannot afford to prance out and buy two more chairs (not even one) so there goes the “matched set” dream.  It seemed my only option was to audition other chairs in our home for the stately role of the princess’ throne. (That bit’s for you, Janie! xx)  

Of the models available to me, one is Daddy’s rocker, which I inherited, and which has been moldering languishing in the family room in our basement. I remember it being enormously comfortable, like easing into a welcoming embrace but perhaps that comfort is mere wishful thinking, memories embellished with all the love of that childhood home. I’ll never know for sure ’til I try it out.  And not for a few minutes, but for a full evening of relaxation, music, reading, television, iPad time…  

Still a touch testy, the gem moved my leather chair off into the corner and headed down to the basement to bring up the rocker and with it, a whole assortment of new problems. First (and please, please don’t judge) it smelled faintly musty.  Not good for two people with breathing issues. I wanted so badly to be charmed by it, to fall in love with it but, ohmigosh y’all, it looks sad and tired, wilted even. Decades of daily use have permanently compacted the foam cushions. The upholstery, chosen by Mum during her grand redecorating phase after Dad died, is more than a  little old-fashioned; big cabbage roses – not something that was my style then (1990’s) never mind now. And that frilly ruffle?  It has to go! The maple arms bear evidence of how well-loved and well-used it was; the wood stain is worn and faded at the ends where dad’s hands rested so many evenings of his life. Otherwise, it is solid and sturdy and doesn’t squeak when I rock.  

Last night was the first trial. I’ll admit, it’s comfort would be greatly improved by a new piece of foam on the seat and I didn’t feel “hugged” like I did as a kiddo but, best, it was cosy and restful. All night. Like spending time with a dear old friend, Daddy’s chair offered familiarity, sweet memories and that beloved relaxing, rhythmic motion. Already I can’t imagine our den without this chair, even though it needs restorative attention. Desperately.  

So now what?

Today I removed the two cushions and sprayed them liberally with “febreze FABRIC HEAVY DUTY with 2X Odor Elimination Power”.  Alas, we proved to be a greater challenge than Mr. Febreze was capable of handling.  As I type this post, they are outside on the deck, in the sunshine and fresh breeze and I’m hoping Mother Nature will have more success than Mr. Febreze.

My initial thought was that I would sew a pair of covers, perhaps from a drop sheet, to give them that rumpled, casual, linen look (at a fraction of the cost).  Unless an afternoon en plein air worked miracles, I fear I shall have to splurge on reupholstery ‘though I’m open to any and all suggestions, please!!!  

“and someone who likes to rock, a rocking chair in the middle.”*

Despite the obvious challenges ahead, sitting in Daddy’s chair I found myself in the cradle of his infinite love, which is perfect, non?  

“Put the kettle on, Babsie, it’s tea time.”

’Til next time, y’all…

*Welcoming sequence, “The Friendly Giant”, CBC.

Happy Labour Day!

On Labour Day, a monument to hard work and persistence. Isn’t it magnificent?
Hard to see in this small shot, but there’s a drone emerging from the opening.

Today I am beyond grateful to all the hard working Canadians — the suffragettes, the trade unions and the civil rights activists — who fought for the eight-hour work day and the five day work week.  To those dedicated men and women, those heroes who protested, battled, bargained, persuaded and won, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude.

Their efforts essentially created the middle class to which most of us belong yet we do not always remember how fortunate we are and take for granted the workplace benefits and protections we enjoy today.  Can you even imagine working ten or twelve hours a day, six or seven days a week?  I definitely cannot, so, much gratitude for their dedication and effort.

Most Canadians think of Labour Day as the last long weekend of summer, the last hurrah before the kiddos return to school but please do remember that first and foremost Labour Day is a day of remembrance, appreciation, and glorification.  

Happy Labour Day!

‘Til next time, y’all.

Joyspotting #8

King’s Mill Road

Ah, Labour Day weekend! The last long weekend of the summer. Three days away from work. One last hurrah for the kiddos before school begins. Fun for everyone and we can’t wait for it to begin! An excitement and enthusiasm you’d recognize immediately, even if you were an alien visiting Earth for the first time and found yourself on Highway 401 driving east out of Cobourg this morning.

Like I was. Ohmigosh, y’all – it was busy and fast and frenetic and just the right side of “in control”. Too many drivers were speeding, driving aggressively and were obviously angry. Oh-so-angry!  Horns were blaring, birds were being flipped, there was a race and a game of chicken, each driver daring the other to hit him. And I hated every minute of my drive so I hopped off two exits early, trading the highway for some country roads and the tempers for tranquility.

The old grist mill on Squires Creek.

Today is, after all, a day of #JoySpotting and my destination was the beautiful King’s Mill Conservation Area on Squires Creek.

#1 LOOK UP  

The mill pond and Squires Creek.

Any big cloud, blue sky* day is special and that’s the joy I spied up in the sky this morning.

#2 LOOK DOWN

Blandings turtle.

Today I’m grateful for this prompt; I was standing on the Trans Canada Trail bridge, looking down into Hoard’s Creek when I spotted this guy (who was partially concealed by the grass and reeds.  I love my turtles and – without my Joyspotter’s Guide – would have missed seeing this chap sunning himself on a rock.  

#3 KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR COLOUR

Zinnias, dahlias, black-eyed susans and sunflowers.

The entirety of this garden is magnificent, but this bed in particular was an explosion of colour – impossible to see without feeling a bubble of joy.  

#4  FOLLOW THE CURVE 

Kings’ Mill Road (west of the grist mill).

#5  GO WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE 

Which today, apparently, is on the road – Wingfield Road, to be precise.  Poor thing looks laminated to the tarmac.  Sorry, y’all – despite my best efforts, there was no other wildlife to be seen today.

#6  SEEK OUT SYMMETRY

Taken from the Hoard’s Road Bridge, this is the Trans Canada Trail bridge over Hoard’s Creek. Railing symmetry and reflective symmetry.

#7  SEARCH FOR SIGNS OF ABUNDANCE

Living in Northumberland County, so very rich in agricultural lands, finding abundance is dead-easy.  At this time of year there are ripening soy and canola crops, apples ready to be picked and today – corn, as far as the eye can see.

#8  WATCH FOR WEIRDNESS

The Joyspotter’s Guide asks, Is there something that seems a bit out of place?  What could be more out of place than a tree, growing out of a rock that is a channel marker in the middle of the Trent River?  

#9  ZOOM IN

Chicory (a herbaceous perennial of the dandelion family). Or, as Mum would have said, “Cornflower” (which was her crystal pattern).  These never fail to bring me joy, not just because they so prettily adorn our roadsides, but because they always remind me of my mum.  

#10  NOTICE THE INVISIBLE

Driving home along Morganstson Road this afternoon, long before I spotted the farmer and tractor, I could smell that sweet, heady aroma of freshly mown hay.  Sure enough…

#11  TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE

If you know me, if  you’ve read any of my posts, you’ll surely understand that a “road” like this one is plumb-irresistible to me (despite Cam’s near constant remonstrations).  Now that’s a scenic route!!! (It was also a dead-end.)

#12  USE ALL YOUR SENSES

Isn’t she majestic?  Despite the years of neglect and her obvious shabbiness, there remains a certain splendour.  Just imagine… The farmer who built this home for his bride – this is not a basic farmhouse; there are architectural details that elevate this house above the ordinary.  Just imagine…  The kiddos playing in the yard, perhaps a swing hanging from that big tree in back.  Just imagine…  A pasture of dairy cattle all chewing and lowing. Just imagine… A line of laundry swaying in the breeze and a quilt out for airing.  Just imagine…  The tempting smell of the hot pie cooling on the kitchen window sill.  Just imagine…  The wagon loaded with the family and their jams and eggs and apples – headed for the farmers’ market in Campbellford.  Just imagine…

Not part of the #JoySpotting guide, but joy-inducing nonetheless:

Da da da da da.  Da da!  
Da da da da da.  Da da!
Da da da da da, da da da da da, da da da da da!  

Green Acres is the place to be.
Farm livin’ is the life for me.
Land spreadin’ out so far and wide.
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside!

Did you know Green Acres was here in Ontario???

Today’s rural ramble: King’s Mill Conservation Area consists of the old grist mill, the mill pond and dam and is the site of some significant wetland rehabilitation.

As you can see, there is very little water trickling over the dam at this time of year and as a result, the creek is neither as high nor as fast-moving as when we were there in the winter.  I wrote about that experience (including a picture of the much more robust Squires Creek) here:  Adventure Never Hibernates

I hope, dear readers, that you spotted lots of things that brought you joy today too.  

’Til next time, y’all…

* Megan Giddings from her book Lakewood.

Two Anthems, Two Artists, One Message: Change Is Needed

This morning a local radio host posed these two questions:

Are the sports boycotts worth it?  Some say yes, some no. This debate will never be solved.

and 

Did we perhaps rush to judgment of the Kenosha police without having all the facts?

These types of remarks, these beliefs are the crux of systemic racism; thoughts and comments only possible from someone who has lived white privilege. In our predominantly white county, it is highly unlikely these remarks will be questioned, indeed they may even accurately represent popular thought, though I’m doubtful and very much hope not.  

Two shootings in Kenosha – Jacob Blake, seven times in the back, and a 17 year-old white boy pretending to be militia, killing two and leaving a third person seriously injured. Two persons of interest to the police, two very different outcomes. Why was that?  

On Wednesday night, Trevor Noah expressed his thoughts which were so much more eloquent that anything I’m able to compose:

“…it really made me wonder why some people get shot seven times in the back while other people are treated like human beings and reasoned with and taken into custody with no bullets in their bodies.

How come Jacob Blake was seen as a deadly threat for a theoretical gun that he might have and might try to commit a crime with but this gunman who was armed and had already shot people who had shown that he is a threat was arrested the next day, given full due process of the law and generally treated like a human being whose life matters?

Why is it that the police decide that some threats must be extinguished immediately while other threats get the privilege of being diffused? 

I’m asking these as questions but I feel like we know the answer.  The answer – the gun doesn’t matter as much as who is holding the gun because to some people black skin is the most threatening weapon of all.”

If you’d like to listen to his monologue: Trevor Noah

This is the concept that many white-skinned folk are failing to grasp.  And that failure to comprehend is outdated, uninformed, intolerable, and RACIST!!!  Why does this ignorance persist?  Because, 

“That’s just the way it is.
Some things will never change.
That’s just the way it is.”

Thirty-four years ago (34!!!), in his 1986 seminal anthem – “The Way It Is” – Bruce Hornsby wrote specifically about the Civil Rights Movement, about segregation, the law makers and ethics.  The condensed message is that change must be pursued, even in the face of those who believe “some things will never change”.  Since 1986, three rappers (E-40, Polo G and 2Pac) have all reused these lyrics in their own art. There is a link to the recording below.   

More powerful even than Mr. Noah’s words were those of Jacob Blake’s sister:

“When you say the name Jacob Blake… most importantly, make sure you say human.  Human life.  Let it marinate in your mouth, in your mind. A human life.  Just like every single one of y’all and everyone else. We’re human and his life matters.

This has been happening to my family for a long time, longer than I can account for.

I’m not sorry.  I’m angry and I’m tired. 

I am numb.  I have been watching police murder people that look like me for years.

I’m not sad. I don’t want your pity, I want change.”

If you’d like to listen: Letetra Widman Speaks Out

Ms. Widman’s words, calmly spoken and without emotional rhetoric are, nonetheless, both passionate and powerful.  

“It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change’s gonna come”

Fifty-six years ago (56!!!) the divine Sam Cooke wrote and sang of his personal experience with racism in his anthem “A Change is Gonna Come”. Ms. Widman’s words reflect the anger and frustration expressed by Mr. Cooke so many years ago – that It’s been too hard living and that change is needed.  Now.  

Why is it that, fifty-six years after Sam Cooke’s hit, change hasn’t happened? Why is it that, thirty-four years after Bruce Hornsby’s hit, change hasn’t happened?  Why is it that, after three months of protests and civil disobedience across the globe this summer, change hasn’t happened?  What more can BLM do?  Of course, the NBA, MLB and NHL boycotts are “worth it” Mr. DJ!  Of course they are! Every public display of outrage, of anger, of expectation and exasperation is worth it.  Collectively these brave souls have become a choir of resounding voices, all singing a united message.  If a change in governance occurs Stateside this November, it will be due, in no small part, to this chorus of discontent.  Each voice raised reaches a different audience, influences a different demographic, persuades yet another group that change is needed. Convinces them to consider. To analyse. To judge. To participate. To vote differently.  To choose law-makers who will legislate the change that is so very long-overdue.

It. Is. Worth. It.  Make no mistake!

Because the law don’t change another’s mind.

Because to some people black skin is the most threatening weapon of all.

’Til next time, y’all…

1986

If you’d like to listen: “The Way It Is”

Standing in line, marking time
Waiting for the welfare dime
‘Cause they can’t buy a job
The man in the silk suit hurries by
As he catches the poor old ladies’ eyes
Just for fun he says, “get a job”

That’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
Ah, but don’t you believe them

Said, hey little boy you can’t go where the others go
‘Cause you don’t look like they do
Said, hey old man how can you stand
To think that way
Did you really think about it
Before you made the rules?

He said, “son
That’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
Ah, but don’t you believe them”

Oh yeah

well, they passed a law in ’64
To give those who ain’t got a little more
But it only goes so far
Because the law don’t change another’s mind
When all it sees at the hiring time
Is the line on the color bar, no, no

That’s just the way it is
And some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
That’s just the way it is, it is, it is, it is…

Written and performed by Bruce Hornsby.

1964

“A Change Is Gonna Come”

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh, just like a river, I’ve been running ever since
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change’s gonna come, oh, yes, it will

It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die
‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there above the sky
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change’s gonna come, oh, yes, it will

And I go to the movies, and I go downtown
Somebody keep telling me, don’t hang around
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change’s gonna come, oh, yes, it will

Oh, when I go to my brother
I’d say brother, help me, please
But he winds up knockin’ me
Back down on my knees

There been times that I thought I wouldn’t last for long
Now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change’s gonna come, oh, yes, it will

Written by Everton Bonner, John Christopher Taylor and Sam Cooke.  Performed by Sam Cooke.

Dear Diary:

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Last month my friend’s brother suicided and I wrote about it here. Since then I’ve heard from a passel of friends who’ve related their personal experiences with suicide. I was wholly overwhelmed by the sheer number of responses – I honestly had no idea so many of your lives have been shattered by the experience of a loved one ending their own lives.

We really are doing a terrible job of openly acknowledging suicide, of sharing its anguish, grief, suffering and obviously, by extension, supporting one another through the heartache and despair wreaked upon the bereaved families and friends. It seems to me that Bell Let’s Talk day should be a monthly, not annual event.

“People are scared to talk about it,
but they should be scared about not talking about it.”

[HRH Prince Harry Windsor]

In her e-mail to me, one of my friends wrote that “we all have mental health issues to some degree, every single one of us, the difference is merely the number of degrees”. The number of degrees, yes, but reading your stories, two other key factors have been the self-care coping mechanisms in place and the supporting characters – both professional and familial – involved in these tragic tales.

My friend continued, “I have always been impressed with your mental health care regimen”. What? Me? I do nothing in the way of mental health care. She was adamant, though, she says my journalling “is a very positive and effective mental health care remedy”. Hmmm…

Intrigued (and more than a little surprised) I went to the cupboard and dragged out a pile of notebooks from a number of years, opened them and began to read. There are some intimate details, some brave admissions, some nonsense, some random thoughts jotted down to assist my memory, details of problems I’d struggled with, poem fragments and lots of (too much?) raw truth. Reviewing the notes I’d written, words that were given scant attention at the time, was a revealing, uncomfortable, disturbing and eye-opening experience. 

Mental health self-care? I’m not so sure, but H. is resolute.

Journal entries are like letters to oneself which, I suppose, is why so many begin Dear Diary  These notebooks are a safe, non-judgmental, private place to document hurt, fear, worry, confusion, sadness and torment – every story shared without fear of censure, ridicule or rebuke. I try write something each day regardless of whether my heart is light – happy and carefree or heavy – sad and burdened with concern and strife. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as opening my notebook to a clean, blank page and, with little thought, letting the words pour out – no editing, no spell-check, just spontaneous expression.

Mental health self-care? Perhaps. ‘Though it would require more attention, more analysis and more time than I ever spare for all those hastily scrawled thoughts.  What I have learned this week though, is that our minds are utterly vital. Mental health is fragile. We all need to consider the importance of sustaining and protecting it. Some self-care is necessary. An awareness of the scales tipping in the wrong direction and recognition that attention is required are both essential, but it is absolutely crucial to seek professional counselling when solo attempts fail to work as hoped.

’Til next time, y’all…    

Craving Sunshine and Fresh Air

“And the weather would be warm, not hot. Big cloud, blue sky weather.”*
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With gleaming sunshine; a brightness that brings happiness and hope and enthusiasm.

Today I had to go to Presqu’ile. Had to! You see I was given an errand to run in the park which was both the best and least necessary impetus ever! It’s been weeks since I last visited, I’ve missed it terribly and you can bet the farm that I took loads of pictures and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of my time at Presqu’ile today!

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My park really does offer one pretty vignette after another, everywhere one looks! Everything was lush and green. Vibrant and flourishing.  Everything except for the masses of white silk tents, populated by caterpillars intent on defoliating as many branches as possible.  Moths in the making.  

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The air was very nearly still, yet the wildflowers seemed to be swaying in the breeze.  Optical illusion; they are alive with insects, bees, dragon and damsel flies, butterflies and  moths.  We’re meant to count Monarchs this weekend and I can happily report that several dozen floated past me today.

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It was absolutely my lucky day because the picnic table at the edge of the lagoon was not being used, it was in the shade, and I immediately laid claim. It was so peaceful, so beautiful.

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My lunchtime companion:
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“I had this pet frog. His name was Froggy. He was my best friend in the whole world.”**

Besides the busyness of the insect world, the lagoon was teeming with birds and waterfowl today.  This chap quickly captured my interest; he spent the entire time I was there (2+hours) wandering across one lily pad after another.  He’s a cutie pie, non?

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Then there was this old chap who, at first, I believed to be a Cormorant. Upon closer inspection, though, I think he is something else entirely, ‘though what, I have no idea. He’s a diver! He was dipping and bobbing back and forth across the lagoon the whole time – showing off his aquatic mastery.

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One last stop before heading home – Jobes Woods – for a walk and some much-needed shinrin-yoku (forest bathing). I love that my friend Stuart has adopted the phrase for him and his lovely family! I also love that forest and everything in it – the insects, birds, animals, reptiles, wildflowers, moss and, mostly, the trees. Every spring I check to see if “Granddad” has survived another winter. ‘Though I’ve sped through Jobes a couple of times this year, I hadn’t thought to check on him but today – huzzah – he’s very much alive and I am thrilled.

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We don’t have to board a plane to visit the magical kingdom, it’s right here in southern Ontario. If we’re quiet, observant and patient, if we bend low to the ground, or tilt our heads back to look way up at the sky, the magic of summer is so easy to spot. A small garter snake sunning herself on the stones close to the woodland trail. A line of caterpillars marching up a maple tree intent, I’m sure, on spinning another silk tent for warmth. A Blue Jay, oddly standing on the ground, watching the human enjoying her forest bathing, believing her to be daft in the extreme. Dancing and floating around all the wildflowers are clouds of butterflies. Mother Nature’s show is always amazing – our very own magical kingdom.  It almost makes me wish that summer might last forever.

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‘Til next time, y’all…

*Megan Giddings, Lakewood Two things about this quote – it’s my current favourite which, I’m sure, you know judging by how often I’ve used it; and it encapsulates exactly my favourite sort of day, ones just like today – big clouds and blue skies make me believe anything is possible!

**Shane Black, writer, characters. Line spoken by Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 4.  If you’d like to hear the speech and it’s too cute message, here is the link:  I had this pet grog.  His name was Froggy

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