Sunday, 31 December 2017

Help Wanted -- Guardian of Gates and Doorways

This position requires the unique skills of a being who can remain in the present for eternity, while those who pass through concern themselves only with the past and the future for their entire earthly lifetimes.

Primary responsibility: to mark the comings and goings of personages and of time.

Must possess skill in the following areas:
• great patience and discernment
• the ability to welcome friends and cast away foes
• knowledge of various human conditions, including but not limited to urban and rural life, war and peace, and various levels of so-called civilization
• the ability to remain alert with little or no sleep for at least one eon, the duration of which shall be determined by the employers
• the ability to be omnipresent (will train)
• preference for stationary amusements
• bi-directional visage would be an asset
• Roman lineage also an asset, but not a requirement

This full-full-time position offers the right applicant countless opportunities to become acquainted with all who come and go and to make decisions of great import. Candidates for this position may already be worshipped for various qualities and reasons, provided he or she has the ability to fulfill the aforementioned gate-keeping responsibilities. Upon successful completion of the standard thousand-year probation period, the Guardian of Gates and Doors will be issued the key to all portals.

Application deadline: the precise moment when the most suitable being recognizes his or her interest in eternal guardianship.

Apply in person or in spirit to God on High and Father Time.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Sue Grafton

I am sad to say that one of my favourite authors, Sue Grafton, has died. I have read all of her books, except for the latest, Y, and will do so as soon as I can get a copy. It just came out in August. In 2012 I re-read them all in order, to get a closer look at the life of her protagonist, Kinsey Millhone, and to dwell more on the accomplishment of her creator, Sue Grafton.

When I discovered Grafton's alphabet series I marveled at the young woman, who in 1982 embarked on a plan to write a series of mystery books with a female protagonist...and to work her way through the entire alphabet. Admirable audacity! And she made it to Y. Wonderful determination and commitment.

Through the years, as I read and re-read Sue's books, I wondered what she would do after writing Z. Would she keep writing or actually whatever way writers can be said to retire. Sadly, we'll never know.

I hope that Sue enjoyed the ride, as this reader certainly has.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Writing Quotation

What kind of life can you have in a house without books?

Of course, many people have wonderful lives without books in their homes, but I do share Alexie's apparent passion for books. I love looking at them on my (numerous) bookshelves, stacked on tables, balanced horizontally on their vertical cousins because the shelves are too full. I suppose one could say that I hoard books. I suppose I would agree. And I'm okay with that.

Through the years I've gone through a number of reading phases and interests. That's part of the fun. I have enjoyed thousands of hours of enjoyment and learning and inspiration. Through those same years I have been given the great gift of passing on a love for reading and creativity and story to my children. 

Having read Alexie's quotation, I wonder how the richness of my life would be changed if I had no books in my house except, perhaps, the one I was reading at that time. The richness of friends and family would still be there, as would the bounty of other interests...but I would miss seeing the books. Part of the pleasure of books is holding them and soaking up their smells and textures, their weight and shape. A book presents one with the opportunity to see the world through another's eyes, heart, mind and experiences. A book forces and invites me to consider other views which, in turn, enrich my own.

What kind of life would you have in a house without books?

Wednesday, 27 December 2017


I like to play Scrabble and Words with Friends. On a fairly regular basis my opponents play words I've never seen before. This happened recently on Words with Friends when my computer-opponent played the word eyne. Never heard it. Had to look it up. Found out that eyne is the ancient plural of eye. Who knew? Well, perhaps Shakespeare did, but I sure didn't.

Eyne solves a sweet little quasi-dilemma in the land of love. If someone is the apple of your eye, what do you do with several of them? Now they can all be the apples of your eyne. Very handy.

On my little etymological adventure I went on to learn not only that eyne can also be spelled "eyen," but that the English language supports other versions and relatives of "eye" of which I knew nothing. Did you know that something or someone could be "eyeable?" Neither did I. And that if that someone is eyeable, then that makes me the "eyer." Sad to say, something might also be "uneyeable." I'm not kidding. It's a word.

So, although these words may have been undereyed until now, you must admit that they are now well-eyed and, perhaps, even overeyed. But then, surely, such things are in the eye of the beholder.... 

Friday, 22 December 2017

Writing Quotation

Which of us has not felt that the character we are reading in the printed page is more real than the person beside us?        
― Cornelia Funke

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

#WordWednesday -- eve

Now here's a common little word that has many uses yet remains mainly in the background of our verbal lives…except at this season: the capitalizable Christmas Eve for those of that persuasion and New Year's Eve for those of that persuasion. Neither Eve has the distinction of being declared a national holiday anywhere that I know of. Eves are the also-rans in the holiday world. Many people have a minor affection or disaffection for Eves because of either the anticipation or dread that they stir. As I write I can't help but wonder why we don't have Eves for other holidays: Kwanzaa, Easter, Hanukkah, Labour Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving or Birthdays. We humans are an odd lot.

Anyway, on to lower-case eve. This venerable little word harks back to about 1200, when it meant the time between sunset and darkness, as it more or less does today. It comes from the Old English word æfn, but at some point the final "n" was dropped, which is retained in today's more common "evening."

I hardly need mention – though of course I will – the several other uses of eve's forbear, even: The ground is even. Both sides are even now. Even me!? Two, four and six are even numbers.

And then we have the inevitable colloquialisms that arise in all human speech. They provide some of the spice in languages, even for common little even. People became even-tempered in 1712 and didn't start getting even until 1833. Shortly thereafter, they began to sort things out when in 1866 they learned how to make things even-steven. It took until 1907 for anybody to get an even break.

Then there was Eve in the garden with Adam. Her name comes from the Hebrew word Hawwah and means "a living being." So every living thing could be called Eve. I like that. Derivatives of her name are Ava and Eva, and perhaps it also got extended to Evelyn. 

And there you have it – more than you ever thought there was to learn about one tiny little gift to the English language. 

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Yesterday I posted the last of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation 94 Calls to Action. I hope that seeing them listed separately over the past five months or so has given you a chance to become more aware of what they're about and to think about them. What can each of us do to further recognize some of the truths in Canada's history? Even more importantly, what WILL each of us do?

We have many opportunities to learn and better understand, to ask questions and listen to answers. To be open to new answers and new questions.

It took millions of people and hundreds of years to get where we are today…for better and for worse. How can we help individuals and this country to heal and move forward? How will I? How will you?

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Truth & Reconciliation Call to Action 93

Newcomers to Canada 

We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the national Aboriginal organizations, to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and its citizenship test to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Truth & Reconciliation Call to Action 92.iii

We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:

iii. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Writing Quotation

I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful - for all of it. -- Kristin Armstrong

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Truth & Reconciliation Call to Action 92.ii

We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:

ii. Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017


I just finished reading a book by Bill Bryson, my second by him. He is a funny, astute, critical, self-deprecating writer whose books I've enjoyed reading. In this one, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, Bryson wrote about many topics from government ridiculousness to people ridiculousness, silliness and wonderfulness. The chapter that sparked today's #WordWednesday is called "Word Play," so if you know me at all, you'll know that my reading ears perked up at that one. The first sentence of the chapter is, "Have you ever noticed that some words sound perfect for the things they describe and other words don't sound right at all?"

For example, he thinks that "Snooze…is also first rate, as are chortle, clank, gasp dribble and bloat." Well, I have to agree with him on all of those. We part ways, however, on several others. Some of his "bad words" are anorak, spatula, pantaloons and settee. I happen to think that those are excellent words, both for fittingness with the thing they name, and as a bonus, the way they feel in my mouth. They are, shall we say, double winners for me.

Then there are the words we both agree are agreeable to say, no matter how well or poorly they fit the thing they name: galoshes, pandemonium, transubstantiation, rudimentary, palpitation, kiosk, and quisling…to which I shall add abracadabra, melodious, balaclava, boobaloo, Dubble Bubble and anaconda. The word anticlimactic doesn't quite get to be on this list because though it's satisfying to say, that darned middle c bugs the heck out of me because it taunts me, making me want to pronounce it, which is instantly clumsy and much too clackety-clackish, not to mention wrong.

So, there you go. One wordster gone a little gah-gah (another good word, by the way) over language. I believe I shall don my balaclava and recline on the settee, for all this melodious pandemonium gives me palpitations Some other time I'll give myself palpitations by writing about words that are not words but ought to be, such as malodiferous. Stay tuned.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Writing Quotation

I've had people who see all my characters as Native, even if they aren't. It's kind of like assuming all a writer's characters are really female because the writer is a woman. I've learned to let that go.
-- Eden Robinson

Wednesday, 6 December 2017


I'm not sure why we do this, but in English many common names have come into use in non-name forms. For example: We use a jack to change a tire. A stevedore works on ships and docks. A jane is a girl or woman. We send a bill to someone who buys something, but if they don't pay, we might sue them. If they rob us, they're really in trouble. When it's too sunny we might don a hat.

We've also taken many common words into the language from a job designation…which became a surname...and then a common noun. Got that? How about a Wright – someone who makes a thing, such as a wheelwright, a millwright, etc. Then there's a Smith, a Clark (or clerk), a Webster (female weaver), Baker, Brewer, Hunter, Thatcher, Glover, Gardener, Archer…it's a very long list.

I can’t help but wonder if someday we will meet Mr. and Ms. Programmer or Ms. Mechanic.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Truth & Reconciliation Call to Action 90.ii

We call upon the federal government to ensure that national sports policies, programs, and initiatives are inclusive of Aboriginal peoples, including, but not limited to, establishing:

ii. An elite athlete development program for Aboriginal athletes.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Truth & Reconciliation Call to Action 90.i

We call upon the federal government to ensure that national sports policies, programs, and initiatives are inclusive of Aboriginal peoples, including, but not limited to, establishing:

i. In collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, stable funding for, and access to, community sports programs that reflect the diverse cultures and traditional sporting activities of Aboriginal peoples.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Truth & Reconciliation Call to Action 89

We call upon the federal government to amend the Physical Activity and Sport Act to support reconciliation by ensuring that policies to promote physical activity as a fundamental element of health and well-being, reduce barriers to sports participation, increase the pursuit of excellence in sport, and build capacity in the Canadian sport system, are inclusive of Aboriginal peoples.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Writing Quotation

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it.
                                                                             ― Anne Lamott