Beggar Charlie

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Broke

There never was any March Break when I went to school. Well, there may have been at the end but when I was in elementary school, I attended all of March. It just seems there's so many ways to feel cheated when you're my age. What about all the cool technology that kids have? I never had that and also there was the parenting thing where we had to stay out of our parents way. And stick up for ourselves to bullies. Now, that I found impossible. Bullies seemed to me like they knew who they were, although, they really don't. They're really lost people who try to diminish others to their level. Nowadays, you just report them and someone does something. We had to find ways to deal with them. Bullies could really ruin your school life. But of course, there are advantages to being raised such a long time ago. We had to write down notes and put the subject into our own words. That I find helped me develop my own opinions and mind about things, something I don't think young people do with all their 'copy' and 'paste' of school work. Some of my writer friends who teach say young people will often highlight bit swathes of someone else's book and copy it to their own. It's a problem that they don't know about plagarism. Maybe they don't teach any law in school now-a-days? So even though I missed out on some things, I did benefit in independence of thought and other such things. So I guess even though I'm getting old, I'm ahead on points.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Is Coming

Things are so different in Ontario than where I grew up. In White Rock about now, there's probably flowers, if not blooming, then coming out of the ground. Ottawa today is sunny, bright and melting but still no sign of plant life. Trees are still bare and gardens piled up with last year's dead growth. It took me some time to deal with the difference. My first summer in Ottawa, I had to suppress my urge to go back to BC. I wanted to swim in the ocean so bad. But now I'm used to it here, so sometimes, when I meet someone from a hot country who's having trouble adjusting, I tell them a bit of my story. Not to bore them, just to show them that anyone can adjust. In 1980, the winter was cold. -20 from October to April. Global warming has solved that problem for the people of Ottawa. (It isn't unusual for an Ottawan to remark, "If this is global warming, I like it.")When October is still warm, as it is now. Still, we don't have to worry about crocodiles yet. I wore a scarf that October. The people where I worked laughed at me. "What are you going to do when winter gets here?" They asked. I wondered what they meant. It was -20, there was snow, wasn't it here? They assured me it was not, that January and February would be much worse. They were, in fact, pretty bad. So I guess it only proves that the human body is adaptable in wonderful ways. Maybe I won't have to go back to BC when I get old (to avoid the ice)and can stay in this apartment downtown. Still, I'm glad spring is almost here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Star Is Not Born

I think that some people are born for the stage. Not me. When I was in grade two, my class put on a play for the whole school. It was about a princess who was sick and would die unless someone in the kingdom found a cure for her. I was the doctor. I had an Abe Lincoln stovepipe hat made out of colored paper and my line was 'The princess is sick' then I had to deliver the news that someone had to find a cure. I was so nervous. I practiced my lines until my mother told me to stop it. The big night arrived. I went on stage, so afraid. "The princess is not sick." Oops. Did I really just say that? Now the rest of the play doesn't make any sense. I quickly recovered. "I mean, the princess is sick." The audience laughed and laughed. A star is not born. But there was a guy who although he also was not a star, was perhaps the most bloody-minded child ever. I guess it would be grade three. Every Canadian child learns the Huron Christmas Carol at some point. Our grade was slated to do it at our Christmas pageant for the parents. We all dressed up like what we thought Indians looked like, which was not Huron Indians but some sort of Hollywood plains Indians. The buckskin, the feather, you know. I think his name was Dale. He was going to play the beat and then when we switched to our other song after the carol, he would play that beat. Well, he had an idea. He would play the 'Indian beat' and then go Da da-da Da Da, Da Da. Our teacher, Mrs. Petersen didn't want him to. Never mind that, just switch beats. In our practice we witness a might tense stand-off between the two as he would go ahead and play his version. She would stop the rehearsal. "Never mind." She would say. "Just switch beats." But then he would do it again. Night of the pageant. Would he do it his way or her way. No bets were taken at that age but everyone wanted to know. Would he crumble? He didn't. Right on stage, in his Indian costume, he played Da da-da Da Da, Da Da. He had won. And I might add, Mrs. Petersen was behind the curtain. "Just switch." No use. Sheer bloody-mindedness.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Breast Cancer Screening

So I haven't written much today because I had an appointment with the Ontario Breast Screening Program. It's something the Ontario government has set up for the women of Ontario. Like all health care in Canada, it's free. It was also easy. The last mammogram I had was very painful and intrusive, although all medical tests are intrusive. It took about four or five minutes to do. I was in and out, done the whole, filling out forms etc in less the twenty minutes. I wait longer at my general practitioner's office. Anyway, I just want to encourage all women to get a breast cancer test. I know I'm not a doctor or anything but I think it is important to have a test. I'll be going back in two years unless they find something. David drove me. Funny though, I thought since yesterday was so mild, today would be, too, but no, it's cold today. Cancer is getting more and more common, I think. My mom died of lymphoma and my step-mom died of breast cancer. In fact she had two types of cancer. I think that the reason more people die of cancer these days is because there's not much left to die of. They've conquered smallpox and cholera, bubonic plague and have done away with polio in the western world. Well, there is malaria and bilharzia in Africa, but for us, most of the worse things are gone. So in steps cancer. By the way, men can get breast cancer. Cancer can strike anyone. Remember on the right side of my blog there's a contest. One winner 53 e-books. Beggar Charlie is one of them.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Terror 'Education'

This has been a tragic last few months. We had the guy in Ottawa shoot a soldier to death at our war memorial and who was in turn killed. Then there was Paris. I don't think I'll ever forget these two incidents. Now we have Copenhagen. Just pure terror. The immediate impulse is to say (and I have) shoot them, they're our enemies. On a second thought, though, maybe it would be better to fight right to the source, which I think is the 'education' they're giving their recruits to make them radicals. When I was a child there were predators in cars that would try to get children into their cars. We were street-proofed, even though I grew up in a small city. Now we have online predators and people are warning their kids. Police, parents and children who have been victims of these kinds of people are getting the word out. What does this have to do with terror? Well, aren't terrorists predators? Maybe. And aren't they after young people? Definitely. So it makes me wonder if the correct way to deal with the problem, along with the ways that are being done, is to put some of our own education in place in the schools. I think some undercover work about the methods used by ISIS and Al Queda might shed some light on how they are appealing to young people. In our own school system, we could have discussions with young students about the reasons they are being recruited, which is to fodder for a political system of hate that has little to do with religion. Another way could be to get immigrants out into the wilderness and show them how to utilize the parts of our country that they have no experience with. Is it naive to think that after they know of the possibilities of our country and other countries, they will think less of wanting to hurt us? Well, that may be naive but I still think one way to fight terror organizations is to show them up as the cowardly fools and predators that they are. We may save a lot of children that way.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Skana

For some reason, this past night I dreamed of Stanley Park. It's situated on the western tip of Vancouver and is a favorite place for people to stroll and jog. Homeless people have been known to camp there. I used to love Stanley Park when I was living in BC. There is a zoo, of sorts, in Stanley Park. The monkey cage was my favorite. One day, my school went there on a day trip. My friends and I went to see the monkeys. It was surreal. A great crowd of people stood around the enclosure which was shaped like a horseshoe and hooted at the monkeys who sat quietly watching the crowd. I felt a bit ashamed at these people's behavior. Aren't we humans supposed to be more intelligent than them? But I guess silliness might just be a trait of intelligence, representing, as it does, free will. My entire favorite place was the marine park. The belugas would come over to the glass and look at me and I always felt that they liked me. I have since read that others feel the same. We may not be wrong although why a mammal taken from it's natural environment and trapped in a tank would like us, I can't figure. But Skana was the queen of the park. Skana was a killer whale. A beautiful mammal all black and white. People loved Skana. Imagine my surprise one day in the nineties when I picked up a newspaper just to read that Skana had blasted through the glass in her tank and had cut herself so badly she had died. I just couldn't believe it. Not Skana! I don't know if they ever figured out why she rammed through the window. They know it was deliberate. Was she frustrated? angry? sick and tired of captivity? We'll never know and I'll never feel anything but sorrow for the beautiful marine creature that just couldn't take any more.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dickens And Other Children

I remember reading an interview with an author who likened writing books to having children. Publishing those books was, to him, the same as having children go out into the world. I have heard this before, when I was in painting. People insisted that creating was like having children. I have to say I disagree with this entirely. To me, you don't write a story to make a whole different entity with it's own personality but you write to clarify who you yourself are. I don't think I'm being selfish here although some might accuse me of that. Now, when you have a child and someone doesn't like that child, the main response on the part of the parent is dislike to the person speaking. When someone doesn't like you story, you think about it, does that person have a point and if it's too hurtful, you just suck it up, shrug your shoulders and move on. Now when you die, the 'child' advocates say, your child is known to the world. Me, I write so that when I die, something of myself will be left behind. We don't read Charles Dickens and say, "I really like his grandchildren" which is what you say if your one hundred years later than the date of his death and have met his grandchildren who may be much different than he was. When we read Charles Dickens, we say, "I like Dickens." Unless you don't like his book then you say, "I don't like Dickens" To me, that's because Dicken's books are parts of who he was and are not separate entities at all. They ARE him. It's what I want for myself even though people may not even read me one hundred years after I'm dead. Still, it's motivation and that's what I need for right now. Don't forget on the right side of this blog you can enter the contest perhaps to win 53 ebooks. There's still time.