Dec 6th Action

December 6, 2016 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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Words matter.

“Women on one side, men on the other.”

“He told us [the men] to leave, and we did.” (p. 171)

From the book: The Montreal Massacre by Louise Malette & Marie Chalouh; translated by Marlene Wildeman. Charlottetown, PEI: gynergy books, 1991.

Do you know the new inclusive words for the Canadian anthem?

Why is it wrong if I need the words of my national anthem to include me through its language?

I am not a son. I am a daughter. I am not a man but I am a person. I am part of us.

Language matters.

Words matter.

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My Previous words of remembrance.

Je me souviens … Geneviève Bergeron, 21; Hélène Colgan, 23; Nathalie Croteau, 23; Barbara Daigneault, 22; Anne-Marie Edward, 21; Maud Haviernick, 29; Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, 31; Maryse Laganière, 25; Maryse Leclair, 23; Anne-Marie Lemay, 27; Sonia Pelletier, 23; Michèle Richard, 21; Annie St-Arneault, 23; Annie Turcotte, 21.

 

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No One’s Mother

May 8, 2016 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’ll never be anyone’s mother.

I think I’ve known this since I was first married at twenty-four. I started taking care of other people’s children the New Years I was thirteen and stopped, doing it as a job, in my middle thirties.

It’s hard leaving other people’s children once you’ve spent years being responsible for their daily care and knowing you will probably never see them again.

I may not have given birth but I have raised children. I sat up with them when they were sick, took them to the doctor and emergency care, was the sole caregiver for weeks on end, went to their school events and nurtured and worried over them.

But they were not mine!

I vowed young that I would not have children if I could not take care of them properly. To me that meant that they would have two primary parents who could provide them with a middle-class home. I was raised in poverty by a divorced mother with little contact or support from my father, I knew how hard it was to raise a child.

Now I am entering menopause knowing that I will never be anyone’s mother.

FurBaby

And I’m okay with that.

I am okay with being child-free. I struggle to support myself, both financially and emotionally. I thank the stars that I never had to make the decision between my well being or my child’s!

I only have myself but all of me is mine – this is both exhilarating and scary. Who will take care of me in my old age? I will take care of me as I always have.

Straw Doll

There are a million ways to create a family. There are a million different types of families.

I am a family of one (plus cat – the census doesn’t consider my cat to be family).

Friends

There are many types of mothers.

I have a biological mother and a stepmother.

My cousin had an adoptive mother and a birth mother.

I had more than two grandmothers. There was my maternal grandmother, my paternal grandmother and my stepmother’s mother.

I had honorary grandmothers as well. Grandma F who lived to the left of us and Mrs. Stapleton who lived to the right of us across the alley and Grandma Smith who I think was my paternal grandmother’s stepmother.

I had literary mothers. My first librarian, Miss Missler taught me to love books and reading.

Women have been a major influence in my life.

And I hope that even though I will never be anyone’s biological mother that I will be a major influence in the lives of the girls and young women I have constant contact with.

Pink Roses

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who mother me!

 

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Travel Theme: Poetry

May 1, 2016 at 8:15 am (Faery tales) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Snow White Learns Witchcraft
by Theodora Goss

One day she looked into her mother’s mirror.
The face looking back was unavoidably old,
with wrinkles around the eyes and mouth. I’ve smiled
a lot, she thought. Laughed less, and cried a little.
A decent life, considered altogether.

She’d never asked it the fatal question that leads
to a murderous heart and red-hot iron shoes.
But now, being curious, when it scarcely mattered,
she recited Mirror, mirror, and asked the question:
Who is the fairest? Would it be her daughter?

No, the mirror told her. Some peasant girl
in a mountain village she’d never even heard of.

Forest Fey

Well, let her be fairest. It wasn’t so wonderful
being fairest. Sure, you got to marry the prince,
at least if you were royal, or become his mistress
if you weren’t, because princes don’t marry commoners,
whatever the stories tell you. It meant your mother,
whose skin was soft and smelled of parma violets,
who watched your father with a jealous eye,
might try to eat your heart, metaphorically —
or not. It meant the huntsman sent to kill you
would try to grab and kiss you before you ran
into the darkness of the sheltering forest.

How comfortable it was to live with dwarves
who didn’t find her particularly attractive.
Seven brothers to whom she was just a child, and then,
once she grew tall, an ungainly adolescent,
unlike the shy, delicate dwarf women
who lived deep in the forest. She was constantly tripping
over the child-sized furniture they carved
with patterns of hearts and flowers on winter evenings.

She remembers when the peddlar woman came
to her door with laces, a comb, and then an apple.
How pretty you are, my dear, the peddlar told her.
It was the first time anyone had said
that she was pretty since she left the castle.
She didn’t recognize her. And if she had?
Mother? She would have said. Mother, is that you?
How would her mother have answered? Sometimes she wishes
the prince had left her sleeping in the coffin.

He claimed he woke her up with true love’s kiss.
The dwarves said actually his footman tripped
and jogged the apple out. She prefers that version.
It feels less burdensome, less like she owes him.

Dwarf Cottage

Because she never forgave him for the shoes,
red-hot iron, and her mother dancing in them,
the smell of burning flesh. She still has nightmares.
It wasn’t supposed to be fatal, he insisted.
Just teach her a lesson. Give her blisters or boils,
make her repent her actions. No one dies
from dancing in iron shoes. She must have had
some sort of heart condition. And after all,
the woman did try to kill you. She didn’t answer.

Pensive Angel

And so she inherited her mother’s mirror,
but never consulted it, knowing too well
the price of coveting beauty. She watched her daughter
grow up, made sure the girl could run and fight,
because princesses need protecting, and sometimes princes
are worse than useless. When her husband died,
she went into mourning, secretly relieved
that it was over: a woman’s useful life,
nurturing, procreative. Now, she thinks,
I’ll go to the house by the seashore where in summer
we would take the children (really a small castle),
with maybe one servant. There, I will grow old,
wrinkled and whiskered. My hair as white as snow,
my lips thin and bloodless, my skin mottled.

I’ll walk along the shore collecting shells,
read all the books I’ve never had the time for,
and study witchcraft. What should women do
when they grow old and useless? Become witches.
It’s the only role you get to write yourself.

I’ll learn the words to spells out of old books,
grow poisonous herbs and practice curdling milk,
cast evil eyes. I’ll summon a familiar:
black cat or toad. I’ll tell my grandchildren
fairy tales in which princesses slay dragons
or wicked fairies live happily ever after.
I’ll talk to birds, and they’ll talk back to me.
Or snakes — the snakes might be more interesting.

Arid

This is the way the story ends, she thinks.
It ends. And then you get to write your own story.

Travel Theme: Poetry

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Laura Secord’s Cow

March 6, 2016 at 8:15 am (Fun) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Who do you think of when you think of great Canadian Women?

I think of authors first. The Margarets (Atwood & Laurence), Lucy Maud (Montgomery), Mavis (Gallant) and Alice (Munro) who recently won that big prize! I feel like I should be on a first name basis with them because I’ve read all their writings and so many bios about them that I feel I know them personally. Does this make sense?

I also think history when I think great. There are the Famous Five who used to be on our fifty dollar bill of whom Nellie (why is no one named Nellie anymore) was a member.

96-1-CH-FM16

Lately, I think of Laura Secord when I think great Canadian women. Why? Partly because the War of 1812 has been in my news feed and partly because I recently purchased her chocolate.

There is a dispute as to who really won the War of 1812, the Americans or us? We did, of course (back when we were British). We are the only nation to have successfully burnt down the White House after all!

Laura Secord was a heroine of the War of 1812 because she heard that the Americans intended to surprise the British outpost at Beaver Dams and capture the officer in charge, Lieutenant James FitzGibbon. It was urgent that someone warn FitzGibbon and Laura resolved to take the message herself to FitzGibbon.

Thus a legend was born. The legend of Laura and her cow trekking 30 miles through the woods to warn FitzGibbon. The cow came along to provide cover because a women and a cow in the forest was normal back then!

Laura delivered her message and became legend. We aren’t told what happened to the cow!

Chocolate Bar

A hundred years later, a chocolate company is named in her honor.

In 1913, Frank P. O’Connor, the founder of a small candy business in Toronto selling hand-made chocolates, chose Laura Secord as the name for his company because she “was an icon of courage, devotion and loyalty.”

This has been your Canadian History moment inspired by the latest Canada’s History (formerly The Beaver – a name I much preferred) magazine.

Canadians you have until March 8th to submit your vote for a Great Canadian Woman.

Vote always. Always vote!

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My Book Obsession

February 21, 2016 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I read and I read and I read. It is not uncommon for me to average five books a week. On top of that I also read magazines and newspapers and blogs.

This is who I am and have always been.

I am a reader.

I will read anything. Any topic. Any author. Any genre.

But I have been obsessed with female detectives since I got my hands on the Encyclopedia Brown series when I was in elementary school.

For those of you who don’t know, Encyclopedia Brown is an amateur boy detective and son of a police chief. His business partner is a girl called Sally Kimball. Together they kept the small town of Idaville crime free. I wanted to be them. I wanted to have read the complete set of encyclopedias cover to cover like Leroy (Encyclopedia) Brown and solve crimes with him like Sally did.

And thus an obsession was born.

The Case of the Tri-Coloured Cat

The Case of the Tri-Coloured Cat!

I quickly graduated from Encyclopedia Brown to more advanced detective books.

I sped read through the library’s collection of Nancy Drew books.

I fell in love with Harriet the Spy and her classmates.

I inhaled all of Agatha Christie. It’s too bad I didn’t have internet capabilities then or I also would have become obsessed with learning about the real mystery that she caused! It seems that, around 9.30 p.m. on Friday, December 3 1926, Agatha Christie got up from her armchair, climbed into her Morris Cowley car and drove off into the night. She would not be seen again for eleven days.

I devoured P. D. James books starring the reluctant detective Cordelia Gray.

I could not get enough of these smart, sassy, singular women!

Where bounty hunters go to buy their cannoli

Where bounty hunters go to buy their Cannoli!

I still read books starring women detectives.

I love me a good mystery!

I, occasionally, picture myself another life. Me, detective or bounty hunter or spy, roaming the streets of the mean city and helping the downtrodden!

I am the lone heroine. with no family or other connections to drag me down.

I am the hard-boiled Private Investigator, a solitary, wandering soul, roving from mansions to dives in search of the truth.

I am the grisly bounty hunter successfully bringing in the bad guy.

I am the reluctant detective drawn in by circumstances that are slowly revealing who I am.

I am the lone heroine. with no family or other connections to drag me down.

Broken Down Rusty Truck.

Broken Down Rusty Truck.

I am obsessed with reading about strong women.

I am fascinated by crime (which thankfully does not touch me).

If you are also obsessed, know that there are a myriad of other exciting crime novelists who are women writing about women.

To explore this obsession further you can go spend hours on the Sisters in Crime website.

Enjoy your obsession!

Dragonfly Border

“Every mystery solved brings us to the threshold of a greater one.”
Rachel Carson, 1954, in Linda Lear, ed., Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson (1998)

“… blackmail. The age-old path to the land of milk and honey. The one sure way of being paid for doing nothing.” ~Ursula Curtiss, Voice Out of Darkness (1948)

 

 

 

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How Long?

December 6, 2015 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Lifetimes have passed since.

The length of a generation.

It’s been a life time – babies who were born that year are now young women as they were. They were women who never got to fulfill their destiny.

A Mother’s Grief.

A mother who will never hug her daughter’s daughter to her breast.

[We stand] crying before the coffins of strangers,
offering roses and tiger lilies to young women [we will] never know.

“O Lord, how long?” O Lord, how long?” cry those standing at a prayer vigil on another December day.

Family Bear

Je me souviens … Geneviève Bergeron, 21; Hélène Colgan, 23; Nathalie Croteau, 23; Barbara Daigneault, 22; Anne-Marie Edward, 21; Maud Haviernick, 29; Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, 31; Maryse Laganière, 25; Maryse Leclair, 23; Anne-Marie Lemay, 27; Sonia Pelletier, 23; Michèle Richard, 21; Annie St-Arneault, 23; Annie Turcotte, 21.

My previous words of remembrance are here.

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At Seventeen

November 8, 2015 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’ve always been drawn to the dark.

My best friend & I hung out at graveyards/cemeteries when we were in elementary school.

SC Cemetery

I read Stephen King’s Carrie at thirteen.

When I was a teenager, 1970’s music was full of women singing songs with delightfully ambiguously dark themes.

Songs filled with images of tainted love & betrayal.

I never believed in the traditional vision of love and happily-ever-after.

I didn’t see it anywhere in my own life so how could it exist?

I learned the truth at seventeen,
That love was meant for beauty queens.

And those of us with ravaged faces,
Lacking in the social graces
,…

dreams were all they gave for free,
To ugly-duckling girls like me.

(Here are the full Lyrics.)

Janis Ian was just like me. Lonely, an outcast, dreaming in the dark.

Cher was another woman singing and dreaming of the dark.

And then there was Helen Reddy telling me the tale of Angie Baby.

The headlines read that a boy disappeared
and everyone thinks he died
‘Cept a crazy girl with a secret lover…

Broken

According to my sister, two years older than me, I was in the mean class in High School.

Tammy, a mean girl classmate once hit me with a large board (art project) on top of my head when we were on the school bus. The driver did nothing. My classmates said and did nothing.

Did everybody see me drowning and nobody think to save me? I was barely able to save myself but somehow I did and reading about the secrets in the darkness helped me.

I recently read a YA Horror Anthology, Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. I loved it. I would have adored it at seventeen. The stories are chock full of girls who take charge and get revenge.

slasher

The book blurb reads as follows:

A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.

If you haven’t figured out the inspiration(s) by the end of the story, they are written out at the end of each one.

I’ve always been drawn to the dark.

See additional reviews:

Here

Here

Here

 

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One Singular Sensation

May 17, 2015 at 8:15 am (Meme) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

If you could have a guarantee that one, specific person was reading your blog, who would you want that person to be? Why? What do you want to say to them?

This is a hard question. How do I narrow the possibilities down to just one?

There are fellow bloggers to consider; people like Jen and the Paperback Writer. People I’ve actually corresponded with and could possibly meet.

There are the famous I’d like to meet. Those I feel like I’ve known forever like Bernadette, Broadway actor extraordinaire whom I’d like to have seen on stage as the witch in Into The Woods. Susan, whom I’ve followed since Thelma and Louise first rode off into the sunset (and Geena, of course, who is such a smart woman and strong feminist). Jodie, whom I watch grow up on screen since I was just a wee bit like her. They could help me understand how one lives a happy, happy life in spite of all the idjits out there.

Then there are the historical women like Mary Shelley and her mother who had such interesting lives despite society’s views on their womanhood.

And what about all my fellow spinsters out there? I don’t have enough time to explore them all.

The answer to this question changes daily, nay, hourly, or by the minute!

Tilted Angel

My choice right now would be someone alive and kicking, someone nearish to my age so we could be life-long admirers of each other’s works. I would have liked to have had her childhood (she grew up in a funeral home) and I get her references because we have the same cultural markers in our lives. I shall start following her on facebook because, in this day and age, I can.

Her name is Alison Bechdel and I have read her comic since the beginning though heaven knows how I (a young woman in rural Saskatchewan) ever first discovered it since, Dykes to Watch Out For, a cartoon strip that ran for twenty-five years, between 1983 and 2008, ran mostly in alternative newspapers.

Her view point is not mine. Her life style is not one I aspire to. I like that she, as all these women do, shows me a different world that is, in many ways, exactly like my own.

So, here we have today’s (this minute’s) one singular sensation whom I would like to be reading my blog.

 

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Expendable

December 6, 2014 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I own a red shirt. I’ve worn it once. A red shirt. What’s the significance? Maybe you have to be a geek to get it. A certain sort of Star Trek geek in fact.

It has one word written on it.

That word is Expendable.

I wore the T-shirt, for the one and only time, on my last day of work in May. Sorta of an inside joke but I was the only one (geek) who got the joke.

I kept having to explain.

I kept trying to explain.

It got harder and harder to see the funny in it.

I work in a field that is 95% women.

You see, this also happened in May…UCSB May 2014 .

And again .

Yes, all women face these concerns and fears all the time.

And after a day of proclaiming myself as expendable, I didn’t like the joke anymore.

Nobody should be expendable.

YWCA Rose logo

Je me souviens … Geneviève Bergeron, 21; Hélène Colgan, 23; Nathalie Croteau, 23; Barbara Daigneault, 22; Anne-Marie Edward, 21; Maud Haviernick, 29; Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, 31; Maryse Laganière, 25; Maryse Leclair, 23; Anne-Marie Lemay, 27; Sonia Pelletier, 23; Michèle Richard, 21; Annie St-Arneault, 23; Annie Turcotte, 21.

My previous words of remembrance are here.

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Women Travelers: Book Quote Sunday #7

July 27, 2014 at 8:15 am (Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

“A woman who forsakes hearth and home, who does not campaign for bedroom furniture and bassinets. A woman who … sleeps many nights in many strange and empty beds, and is not afraid of the dark. A woman who can be alone and not talk to herself.” (p. 52)

Dangerous Beauty of the Open Road
by Ellen Shea

In My Father’s Daughter: Stories by Women
Edited by Irene Zahava

U.S., Crossing Press, 1990

Globe_Holland America_Oosterdam

One of the things I do when I travel is pick up any and all free newspapers that are laying about which is how I discovered this issue of the Anchorage Press and this Alaskan native MC, here she is on YouTube.

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