Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On Meeting Lorna

Oh my...inspiration. I personally met Lorna Crozier on September 26/09. She was delightful. Upon first seeing her, I thought her a frail, small, being. She walked into the Writersfest wearing a long brown peasant skirt, a belted top, a colourful long scarf, and her boots stole the show. She moderated the Poets Brigade beautifully- no boring questions, she was interactive and engaging.

Lorna Crozier’s voice has the grace and confidence her life experience has earned. The three attending poets, Karen Solie, Kevin Connolly, and David O’Meara, were great company for the much admired Lorna. As the Poetry Brigade wrapped up she announced with sass “Poetry rocks”.

I met with Lorna at the close of the Poetry Brigade. She was handing each of the mentionned poets back her copy of their own books and requested that they be autographed. She asked them to dedicate the books to ‘Lorna and Patrick as we share everything’. I found this admirable.

Lorna is accessible, generous and fun. Physically, she is small, yet she is strong and wily. We spoke, I asked for a photo with her, she agreed but she needed to excuse herself for a moment; shortly afterwards she made her way through the crowd and found me again, urging me to follow her to a better place to meet - I like her.

We talked a bit about The Sex Lives of Vegetables, her appropriate and non offending use of the word cunt, and her friendship with Al Purdy. The latter started a chat about Al Purdy. They lived a few blocks from one another in Victoria. Near the end of his life they spent a lot of time together. She spoke of an innocent, purely platonic and obviously shared crush on one another. Al, happily married to Eurithe, and she, happy with her partner Patrick Lane, loved to talk, share stories and she was the "sparkle in his eye". As she spoke of Al Purdy, you could hear, feel, how much she adored and admired her friend and fellow poet.

At times while listening to Lorna speak to other attendees, I found myself just watching her in her small frame with her abundant smile. I looked at her teeth and her lips coloured red, thin lips with all of the stories she has told. Her glasses were delicate, the wine coloured frames gracing the tops only wisping into a cat shape at the corners. Her eyes were piercing and sparkled. Her hair was curly, wiry, matching her personality. Her necklace caught my eye. At first it looked like an Inuksuk, though it could have been an angel.

Later that evening I attended an elegant affair mastered by Bill Richardson of CBC. ‘Speak easy’ was an intimate reading with the authors accompanied by a three piece jazz band. It was quite evident that Lorna and the musicians had prepared well for this evenings event. When she began to read from her memoir Small Beneath the Sky about the insects she endured while growing up on the prairies, the musicians used whatever instruments and shakers they had to simulate the songs of the bugs. She proceeded to make moths dirty, dragon flies sexy, and ants “recreate the Earth”.

When she spoke we listened.
When she stopped there was a moment of awe.
She was art.

Monday, September 21, 2009

That which makes us young again…

One evening last week my big black lab and I headed out for a hike at one of our favourite provincial parks. After an invigorating climb through trails up and down steep hills, poor Bailey was quite worn out. As he quickly approaches the 10 year mark in his life, we are seeing his age sneak up on him. He sleeps for much of the day, getting up after a long nap is quite laborious for him and his back legs are strained under all 120 lbs of him.

After the trek in the woods, we headed down to the river for a dip to cool off. Although he is a gorgeous water dog, these days his uncertainty in his back legs prevents him from leaping into the water for that well deserved swim. I have to lead him into the water until it is deep enough and then swim with him. This was really therapeutic for both of us. I do adore him so.

Following the swim I got out, dried off and grabbed my book. I settled in at the river’s edge for a good read, but what happened next took me from my reading. Bailey found friends in the frogs. His whole energy changed. It was brilliant. My heart was light and my breathing made easy to watch one of my best friends acting this young and childish again. His whole body was youthfully wagging, his ears were perked with childish giddy and his tail was wiling his new friends on, “play with me”.

As I sat there and watched him play in the river, the old adage came to mind "You are as young as you feel" and I reflected on the things in life that make me feel younger.

Swimming – Anywhere, but preferable in the lake. River swimming is fun as the current pushes you along, ocean swimming is refreshing and awe inspiring, lake swimming is my favourite, in particular, Lake Ontario. Don’t forget to take in some skinny dipping whenever you can.

Listening to music – and sing along too.

Flirting –It is harmless and can really lift both parties involved. Keep it innocent and friendly and always stay in control of your behavior. Flirting can reduce your stress, boost your confidence and make you feel young and attractive.

Watching fireworks - whilst lying on the grass with your best friend.

Spending time with elders – this is certainly a win-win. The stories you will come away with are priceless and the history is quite remarkable. Thank you, Ted.

Watching comedies - Although he is infamous, I love watching Woody Allen. He is clever and neurotic.

New love - the kind where you feel like you can do anything! Whether you are just falling into love, or rediscovering it with your longtime lover, love makes your heart young.

Being completely ridiculous – going nuts until my teenagers have to give in and laugh hysterically.

These are just to name a few. Feel free to add to this list. What makes you feel young again?
Youthfully,
Janet

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Harvesting The 100 Mile Diet

During a recent hike near my home in the country, I came upon some puff mushrooms, a local delicacy that is delicious, fresh and free! This spurred my idea for that night’s dinner and today’s blog on The 100 Mile Diet.

I had guests for dinner and everything on the table was from my garden or that of local farms. The remark was made that we are actually living this diet. At the time, I was unaware of this movement and its Canadian origins.

The idea for this diet is truly simple, traditional and, in fact, Canadian. The history, as quoted from the website, started when “in 2005, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon began a one-year experiment in local eating. Their 100-Mile Diet struck a deeper chord than anyone could have predicted, inspiring thousands of individuals, and even whole communities, to change the way they eat.” http://100milediet.org/


I thought I would share how my family enjoys the harvest from our local area. To begin with, apples are in season right now and I am lucky enough to have a few apple trees on the property. We never spray the trees so, yes, as Joni Mitchell would sing, there are spots on the apples, and that does not bother me a bit. They are delicious right off of the tree.

The sweetest freshest corn I have ever had is from Roslin, Ontario. I have been all over the County of Hastings and nothing compares.




My eggs come from a farm that I pass on my way home from work. I always reuse my egg cartons and the farmer sells these eggs fresh that day for $2.00 a dozen. You can really tell the difference in these eggs, the yolk is dark almost orange.

I have my herb garden in pots on my little front porch, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, fresh and ready for each meal. I only take what I need. Some of the plants can be brought in for the winter. Others, like the massive mint and the taragon I have in the front garden will be dried.
My vegetable garden looks like my mind at times, utter chaos, but it is so full of amazing things! Tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, chives, hot peppers which came in handy when I made my salsa this year. (If you peek behind the tomatoes, you will see the salsa). I also have beans and rhubarb and peas growing around the perimeter of the house.

I get my honey from the Morton’s up the road. Our butter comes from Stirling, Ontario. Our milk, ice cream and most other dairy come from Reid’s Dairy in Belleville, Ontario, however our special cheese comes from Maple Dale. I have been able to source out local meat and managed to 'meet' some great people during that process. I enjoy visiting Wendy and Bruce each fall when I pick up my lamb (and maybe a rabbit or two). We also get our beef and pork locally. We know of a source for fresh chicken and turkey, but we prefer the lamb most of all.

Finally, I have found a local organic shop which allows me to order from other sources right here in Ontario for my grains and granola bars and cereal too. The less distance the food has to be transported, the less energy it takes to get it to your table.

If you are in my area, check the following links to make your 100 Mile Diet easier for you.

Farmers Markets Ontario. Find a farmers’ market near you.
Food Down the Road. Locator map, seasonal chart, local-food newspaper for Kingston area.
Ottawa Social Planning Council. Comprehensive Ottawa-area farm directory.

From all other corners of the world, seek out your local food, and then let me know how you do. I look forward to hearing about your harvest table.

With grace,
Janet

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

International Literacy Day


It is distressing and staggering that in this day illiteracy is still alive and growing in numbers around the world. The immediate connection between illiteracy and poverty is clear. With specific mention to women, who make up two thirds of the illiterate population, this must change. The following is an except from UNESCO on literacy;

September 08, 2009

Objective:On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally.

September 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO on November 17, 1965. It was first celebrated in 1966. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. Celebrations take place around the world.

Some 774 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 72.1 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

As a writer, lover of reading stories and poetry, I support the movement to provide education to those without.

Further to that, I support Wendy Lee and her efforts to bring books to Cameroon, West Africa.
Wendy Lee is a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Cameroon, West Africa. Her project, Books For Cameroon, is aiming to bring 30 bilingual (French & English) libraries throughout regions of Cameroon. Their slogan, 'We are fighting poverty with literacy, 1 latte at a time.'

http://www.booksforcameroon.org/

We can do it one book at a time...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Words Fail Me



This is a recording of Virginia Woolf as published electronically through The Book Bench with The New Yorker. I knew I had stumbled on a treasure when I saw this. Her words continue to inspire me, but there was just something so visceral, so palpable in hearing her speak her own words, listening to her pause and then emphasize certain words, it left me content. The next time a pick up one of her novels, I hope to hear her voice inside my head.


“This is presumed to be the only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf. It was recorded on April 29, 1937, as part of a BBC radio broadcast series called “Words Fail Me.” Woolf would have been fifty-five at the time.”


(Partial transcript in this recording)

Words, English words, are full of echoes, of memories, of associations. They have been out and about, on people's lips, in their houses, in the streets, in the fields, for so many centuries. And that is one of the chief difficulties in writing them today – that they are stored with other meanings, with other memories, and they have contracted so many famous marriages in the past.
...

And how do they live in the mind? Variously and strangely, much as human beings live, ranging hither and thither, falling in love, and mating together. It is true that they are much less bound by ceremony and convention than we are. Royal words mate with commoners. English words marry French words, German words, Indian words, Negro words, if they have a fancy. Indeed, the less we enquire into the past of our dear Mother English the better it will be for that lady's reputation. For she has gone a-roving, a-roving fair maid.
...

They hate being useful; they hate making money; they hate being lectured about in public. In short, they hate anything that stamps them with one meaning or confines them to one attitude, for it is their nature to change.


Although this was recorded over seventy years ago, much of the same is true today. Moreover, we are seeing her notion of creating a new language occurring as we speak. We can easily connect with people worldwide through the web, therefore our language, the rules around the use of this language and how we communicate with one another is constantly evolving. The definitions of the words we use accumulates as we assimilate how other dialects create new words, idioms and slang. Thus the need for an electronic dictionary just to keep up. Thousands of new words are added to our language every year, sadly some are retired also. For fun, a completely wonderful way to waste time, check out the Urban Dictionary.


Word

1) well said
2) said in agreement
3) can be used as a greeting, hey whats up

Examples

1..and 2..."Yo u goin to that rocks tanite....word"

3. "word up"

Signing off, I say 'Word, to your mother."