I was in my office which is right down town in the busiest area of the city.

It is right around the corner from two homeless shelters and above a Second Cup coffeee shop. It is my eye on the world of the deranged and drunk.

I usually take only passing notice of what happens outside my window. Today, someone was yelling “Help! Help!” repeatedly so I looked out to see a tall, obviously demented man flailing his arms… and holding a bird.

He suddenly threw the bird down onto the gravel of a large planter beside the bus shelter and lurched away. Then he came back and pushed the bird around and walked away.

I immediately ran down found that is was a baby Starling, a fledgling.

They had been just doing work on a tree above the planter but the tree hasn’t had a nest in it. It was more likely to have fallen from a niche in the wall of a building or an awning or something. I looked to see if I could see either a nest or a mother but even if I had, I wouldn’t have wanted (as you are supposed to do) either put the bird back in the nest (the old wives tale the parents can “smell you on the baby and will abandon it” is wrong!) or leave the bird and watch to see if the mother comes around before taking it in.

I brought it upstairs immediately because I knew it wouldn’t last long where it was. It was just a fledgling and probably couldn’t fly, at least fly well enough to get out of danger. And there are crazies all around there…. When I brought it up, one of the girls in the reception told me that she had seen a man with a bird yesterday at McDonalds, almost two blocks away. If it was the same man and the same bird, I was sure I did the right thing.

I called Mom to come and pick me up and we drove it out to the Ottawa Wild Bird Centre. I will check in a few days to see if it is okay. It was very weak. I don’t have high hopes but it has a better chance there than it would have stood at Rideau and Dalhousie in a cement planter with drunks and crazies.

The Wild Bird Centre has an amazing record of wild rescues, including… true story… a wayward Flamingo, named Elisha who migrated north for the winter (sensible if she had been living in Chile where she was originally from, not New England where she was living).

Mine had more feathers… but you get the idea.

I was in my office which is right down town in the busiest area of the city.

It is right around the corner from two homeless shelters and above a Second Cup coffeee shop. It is my eye on the world of the deranged and drunk.

I usually take only passing notice of what happens outside my window. Today, someone was yelling “Help! Help!” repeatedly so I looked out to see a tall, obviously demented man flailing his arms… and holding a bird.

He suddenly threw the bird down onto the gravel of a large planter beside the bus shelter and lurched away. Then he came back and pushed the bird around and walked away.

I immediately ran down found that is was a baby Starling, a fledgling.

They had been just doing work on a tree above the planter but the tree hasn’t had a nest in it. It was more likely to have fallen from a niche in the wall of a building or an awning or something. I looked to see if I could see either a nest or a mother but even if I had, I wouldn’t have wanted (as you are supposed to do) either put the bird back in the nest (the old wives tale the parents can “smell you on the baby and will abandon it” is wrong!) or leave the bird and watch to see if the mother comes around before taking it in.

I brought it upstairs immediately because I knew it wouldn’t last long where it was. It was just a fledgling and probably couldn’t fly, at least fly well enough to get out of danger. And there are crazies all around there…. When I brought it up, one of the girls in the reception told me that she had seen a man with a bird yesterday at McDonalds, almost two blocks away. If it was the same man and the same bird, I was sure I did the right thing.

I called Mom to come and pick me up and we drove it out to the Ottawa Wild Bird Centre. I will check in a few days to see if it is okay. It was very weak. I don’t have high hopes but it has a better chance there than it would have stood at Rideau and Dalhousie in a cement planter with drunks and crazies.

The Wild Bird Centre has an amazing record of wild rescues, including… true story… a wayward Flamingo, named Elisha who migrated north for the winter (sensible if she had been living in Chile where she was originally from, not New England where she was living).

Mine had more feathers… but you get the idea.

"The Underneath" by Kathi Appelt

What an amazing story!

Kathi Appelt has created a monumentally emotional painting with this story of love and friendship, tested and proven.

This is no hearts and flowers story, by any means. There is death and betrayal and harsh reality bound up in this story of an abandoned Calico cat, her beloved kittens, and their devoted guardian, an aging, abused Bloodhound. But the story, full of twists and turns and imminent danger draws the reader along.

Appelt has a gift with words and every page is resonates with the scents and sounds of the bayou (“The air was heavy with the scent of old bones, of fish and dried skins, skins that hung from the porch like a ragged curtain. Wrong was everywhere”). There is magic in every fibre of the forest and every creature is a kindred spirit (“And all around, the watchful trees, the oldest ones, shimmered. They knew that Grandmother Moccasin, when she awoke, would not be happy. The trees knew, but they also recognized the moment for what it was: a love so strong that there was no going back for either one. So for just a little while, the soughing trees used their own ancient magic to stir up the Zephyrs of Sleep.”).

The story isn’t straight forward…. It slips back and forth between the present — the cat, her kittens, the dog, and the dog’s cruel owner — and the ancient but ongoing story of Grandmother Moccasin, a snake-being who lost her only daughter to true love, and Grandmother’s unquenchable quest for revenge.

The stories are interwoven and ultimately intersect, with each character ultimately receiving what they deserve…. either in fact or by way of a lesson.

I was reminded, somewhat, of the book “Beautiful Joe” that I read in Grade 5. Unfortunately for me, the terrifying start of that story rendered me unable to recall further, though I know I read it through.

While “The Underneath” contains its own measure of cruel reality, Appelt has managed to portion it out in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the reader. I would caution parents, however, that for a child who is very sensitive, there should be some discussion of death and cruelty, and an acknowledgment of the wrongness of some human actions.

I certainly think that Appelt has clearly shown how an act of cruelty can forever impact the life of a person and how one person can affect the lives of others, for good or bad.

A highly recommended read.

“The Underneath” by Kathi Appelt (For ages 10 and up)

"The Underneath" by Kathi Appelt

What an amazing story!

Kathi Appelt has created a monumentally emotional painting with this story of love and friendship, tested and proven.

This is no hearts and flowers story, by any means. There is death and betrayal and harsh reality bound up in this story of an abandoned Calico cat, her beloved kittens, and their devoted guardian, an aging, abused Bloodhound. But the story, full of twists and turns and imminent danger draws the reader along.

Appelt has a gift with words and every page is resonates with the scents and sounds of the bayou (“The air was heavy with the scent of old bones, of fish and dried skins, skins that hung from the porch like a ragged curtain. Wrong was everywhere”). There is magic in every fibre of the forest and every creature is a kindred spirit (“And all around, the watchful trees, the oldest ones, shimmered. They knew that Grandmother Moccasin, when she awoke, would not be happy. The trees knew, but they also recognized the moment for what it was: a love so strong that there was no going back for either one. So for just a little while, the soughing trees used their own ancient magic to stir up the Zephyrs of Sleep.”).

The story isn’t straight forward…. It slips back and forth between the present — the cat, her kittens, the dog, and the dog’s cruel owner — and the ancient but ongoing story of Grandmother Moccasin, a snake-being who lost her only daughter to true love, and Grandmother’s unquenchable quest for revenge.

The stories are interwoven and ultimately intersect, with each character ultimately receiving what they deserve…. either in fact or by way of a lesson.

I was reminded, somewhat, of the book “Beautiful Joe” that I read in Grade 5. Unfortunately for me, the terrifying start of that story rendered me unable to recall further, though I know I read it through.

While “The Underneath” contains its own measure of cruel reality, Appelt has managed to portion it out in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the reader. I would caution parents, however, that for a child who is very sensitive, there should be some discussion of death and cruelty, and an acknowledgment of the wrongness of some human actions.

I certainly think that Appelt has clearly shown how an act of cruelty can forever impact the life of a person and how one person can affect the lives of others, for good or bad.

A highly recommended read.

“The Underneath” by Kathi Appelt (For ages 10 and up)

Lean, green security machine!

Tom Ballhatchet has designed this ingenious device!

A Hamster-powered paper shredder.

People are pinheads!

So…. the CBC publishes this story about the Queen’s grandson, Peter Phillips, marrying a woman from Montreal, Autumn Kelly, who has converted from Catholicism so he won’t lose his place in the line to the throne…

If you read the pin-headed comments from people, you wonder what planet they live on. Firstly, every one knows that any self-respecting prince meets his women at a dance thrown by his father to which he invites all the eligible women in the realm for his son to pick from, not at the Grand Prix… So this woman is OBVIOUSLY a “gold digger”.

Secondly, any woman who wears a hat like that has royal blood…

Thirdly, well… thirdly, people are pinheads and the pin-headed comments just prove it.

Personally, I think the CBC should go back to only publishing letters to the editor, not offensive comments from people who think that the ability to poke their fingers on the keyboard, even if they can’t spell or make coherent sentences, means that they have have an opinion worth reading.

Lean, green security machine!

Tom Ballhatchet has designed this ingenious device!

A Hamster-powered paper shredder.

Take Back the Day!: Mother’s Day: Not just an invention of the greeting card makers!

Contrary to general opinion, Mother’s Day was not the invention of the greeting card makers or floral industry.
In fact, Mother’s Day originates circa American Civil War and was the brainchild of Anna Jarvis, in recognition of her own mother Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis‘ dream of one day having Mother’s Friendship Day a nationally recognised memorial day for mothers.



Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis Anna Jarvis

Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis created the idea of Mother’s Friendship Day as a way of bringing together families and communities torn apart by the Civil War, based on a shared love of their mothers.

By 1907, two years after the death of her mother, Anna Jarvis had organized the first memorial dedicated to her mother.

By 1914, she had succeeded in the dream and Mother’s Day a national holiday. However, as the day became more widely recognised and celebrated, it became less focussed on peace and friendship and more directly related to celebration mothers.

By 1917, the day had become so commercially successful that the original meaning was lost and Anna Jarvis and her sister, Ellsinore, were actively campaigning to have it stopped. Anna Jarvis even incorporated herself as “Mother’s Day International Association“, had been arrested for disturbing the peace during on protest, and had claimed copyright on the second Sunday in May. She and her sister spent their family inheritance fighting against the commercialization of the day, dying in poverty, as a result.

Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe, anti-war campaigner and author of the words to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” continued the effort to carry the Mother’s Day tradition of peace and reconciliation through her “Mother’s Day of Peace” campaign. By 1872, she was promoting the day to be celebrated on June 2, honoring peace, motherhood and womanhood.

By 1873, women in 18 cities in America held a Mother’s Day for Pace gathering. In Boston, the day was celebrated for about 10 more years. Sadly, however, the tradition didn’t last after Howe was no longer paying for them.

While some communities continued the tradition for another 30 years, the commercialized Mother’s Day, held on the 2nd Sunday in May held sway.

Inter Pares, a Canada-based organization working with women world-wide to promote peace and justice, is doing their part to revive the day as it was originally envisioned by Anna Jarvis and her mother Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis. They are asking us to “TAKE BACK THE DAY by supporting women around the world working for better futures – for themselves, their communities, and their societies.”

Coincidences….

Funny how things seem to coincidentally happen.

The other day, I decided to have yet another search for a book I had read a LONG time ago, 1981 to be precise, and then promptly forgot the title for.

I have done Googles previously and found nothing. This time I was lucky and located it first try!

The book was non-fiction by a wilderness walker who comes across a cave in Nevada which had been inhabited, circa WWI. Intrigued by the mystery-man who had once lived there, he starts a search through records for the man. The title should have been easy to find… book about a man living in a cave…. the title was, as I discovered, “The Man From The Cave” (by the late writer and wilderness walker, Colin Fletcher). However, in the pre-Google days, the book eluded me.

I will be seeking out a copy to re-read.

Fresh from that success, I turned on the TV last night and came across a film called “The Group”. This 1966 film is about a group of women who, in 1933, meet at college. They are members of “The Group”, a sort of unofficial, exclusive club. Their friendships stand the test of time, more or less, and the film follows them past graduation and into the world and their adult lives.

Despite the time during which the film was made and the time in which it is set, it manages to touch on some serious issues, such as birth control, pre-marital sex, miscarriage, lesbianism, spousal abuse, and mental illness — even breast-feeding — in a remarkably forthright manner. There is no moralizing over some of the issues which usually suffer at the hands of Hollywood scriptwriting and the characters rise above the stereotypical social mores one would expect to prevail.

Memorable segments which from the first time I watched the film (some time in the 1980s) were

  • the depiction of the heartbreak of Priss (Elizabeth Hartman) in failing over and over to produce a child for her overbearingly critical pediatrician husband (after the second miscarriage he states that it will give him a bad reputation), her joy at finally making it successfully through a pregnancy, only to find that Sloan plans on using the boy for his “radical” theories on child-rearing whether it is good for either mother or child or not. His theories on breastfeeding, while noble and nutritionally accurate, for instance, not only render her so nervous as to be incapable of managing to do it, they endanger the baby and only encourage Priss to fall back on bottlefeeding. Poor Priss is saddled with actually putting into practice the unworkable “experiments” and every failure is seen as hers, not his — watching weary Priss turning down an invitation for coffee while her son destroys the room behind her is excruciating
  • the frank heart-to-heart discussion between (cannot recall the character) and her mother over birth control –in the time period of the film it was illegal for unmarried women to obtain birth control– and her angst over “the appliance” which she managed to obtain at her mother’s insistence but left in disgust under a bench in the park. Her mother tells her that it strikes her that she doesn’t really love her boyfriend, a revelation she hadn’t actually considered
  • the discussion over women entering college in order to obtain their Mrs. (in order to find a husband)
The film, based on the Mary McCarthy book of the same name, has been called melodramatic, “shrill”, and glossed-over. To my mind, however, as a portrayal of a period in history where women were beginning to break down social, economic, and professional barriers and succeeding, and managing to dare to break a few Hollywood conventions, it is a pretty good film. It may have dispensed with a lot of the political discussion (McCarthy threw in a lot about Republican vs. Democrat political commentary) as well as much of the discussion of Communism, it has not been entirely dispensed with. Perhaps, had the film been made more recently, it might have more astutely dealt with certain issues. However, I would argue that we would have lost some of the Feminist timeliness that the 1960s reflected and I doubt our jaded viewpoint would allow justice to be been done with some of the issues. I highly recommend seeing the film, if only for Feminist historical perspective.

Take Back the Day!: Mother’s Day: Not just an invention of the greeting card makers!

Contrary to general opinion, Mother’s Day was not the invention of the greeting card makers or floral industry.
In fact, Mother’s Day originates circa American Civil War and was the brainchild of Anna Jarvis, in recognition of her own mother Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis‘ dream of one day having Mother’s Friendship Day a nationally recognised memorial day for mothers.



Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis Anna Jarvis

Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis created the idea of Mother’s Friendship Day as a way of bringing together families and communities torn apart by the Civil War, based on a shared love of their mothers.

By 1907, two years after the death of her mother, Anna Jarvis had organized the first memorial dedicated to her mother.

By 1914, she had succeeded in the dream and Mother’s Day a national holiday. However, as the day became more widely recognised and celebrated, it became less focussed on peace and friendship and more directly related to celebration mothers.

By 1917, the day had become so commercially successful that the original meaning was lost and Anna Jarvis and her sister, Ellsinore, were actively campaigning to have it stopped. Anna Jarvis even incorporated herself as “Mother’s Day International Association“, had been arrested for disturbing the peace during on protest, and had claimed copyright on the second Sunday in May. She and her sister spent their family inheritance fighting against the commercialization of the day, dying in poverty, as a result.

Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe, anti-war campaigner and author of the words to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” continued the effort to carry the Mother’s Day tradition of peace and reconciliation through her “Mother’s Day of Peace” campaign. By 1872, she was promoting the day to be celebrated on June 2, honoring peace, motherhood and womanhood.

By 1873, women in 18 cities in America held a Mother’s Day for Pace gathering. In Boston, the day was celebrated for about 10 more years. Sadly, however, the tradition didn’t last after Howe was no longer paying for them.

While some communities continued the tradition for another 30 years, the commercialized Mother’s Day, held on the 2nd Sunday in May held sway.

Inter Pares, a Canada-based organization working with women world-wide to promote peace and justice, is doing their part to revive the day as it was originally envisioned by Anna Jarvis and her mother Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis. They are asking us to “TAKE BACK THE DAY by supporting women around the world working for better futures – for themselves, their communities, and their societies.”

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: