WOMEN in WARTIME

As the various wars of humanity flare up,  men are out in the streets,  women weep behind closed doors…or is that myth…more women are out there than we once thought possible.  Honestly, where do we women want to be during war?  Isn’t it enough that we must face the bombs as they fall and watch children and old people die?   Or have we learned and trained and opted to be behind the machines that send the bombs, in the cockpit, on the ladders, in the tanks, on the boats…is that where we want to be – part of the war machine?  If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!  Right ladies and gents, step right up!

My last startling vision of women in war was to see turbaned Kurdish women fighters in the hills, sitting astride jeeps with guns and grime on their faces…”the worst insult for an Arab male would be to be killed by a woman, and even more insulting, by a Kurdish woman”, the warrior stated to an interviewer.  Women soldiers – not men, not Child soldiers…but in particular, Women, the other more than half of the world’s population.
Women have long been at war, but just not the war of men.  Women have long been fighting for equality, justice and rights since the beginning…we understand war, but not so much WAR as fighting for religion or capitalist ideal, but fighting for emancipation, recognition.  Imagine a whole chromosome in our cosmos gone or subjugated to the other.   What senselessness would that be?

“Each person normally has one pair of sex chromosomes in each cell. Females have two X chromosomes, while males have one X and one Y chromosome. Early in embryonic development in females, one of the two X chromosomes is randomly and permanently inactivated in cells other than egg cells. ” https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/chromosome/X

My own experience hearing about women in wartime came from my mother’s account of her time in England during the Second World War.  Overseas, in the Red Cross, women like my mother were helping to support the Canadian soldiers who were over there fighting,  supposedly to save all our lives, even at the loss of their own.

Frances Martin Day, first published her book about women in war in 1989,
“Memoirs:  women in war “, (1942-1947) (1952-1955)  Frances, as well as my mother, was  part of the Canadian Red Cross Corps, whose motto is ‘Friends for Life’.  Life, until death, on the battlefield, or from old age.  Even today, the Red Cross Legacy carries on.  I am curious to learn more of the history now as I contemplate the larger concept of WAR and how it continues to prey on our beautiful planet world.  On a cosmic level, I see the earth as a rather large important living organ suffering series of man made infarctions, strokes, contusions, abrasions, scrapes, and climate changes.  Roberta Bondar (Canada’s first female astronaut)  described in an interview with Peter Mansbridge, of being up there in space, looking down on something she had only witnessed in images safe on the ground.  Looking at the floating globe below, she deeply realized that our planet was really the only foothold we have.   A sobering vision for her, and consequently her bravery (or folly?) of being up there, provided a new perspective for me.

 

 

Back on track AGAIN!

Time will tell how adept one can become and how much time one has to expend
revamping a website and going through ALL the writing that accumulates in websites like FB and WordPress, to extract ‘data’ that can be compiled into something valuable and relevant, instructional even.  For those who want to WRITE, I submit that writing daily on a social networking platform in any comprehensible way IS writing.  Now the task is to harness the energy and fluidity of such outpourings and create something that has a life beyond the www.

 

…finishing what I started and starting anew

After a day trip to the Malaspina Galleries on Gabriola Island, the most northern of the Southern Gulf Islands in the Georgia Strait, BC, I knew that these unique sandstone formations would be the inspiration for my first abstract painting.  The 20 minute ferry ride from Nanaimo takes you to Gabriola, a fairly large island and at the northwest end of the island at Malaspina Point can be found the weathered sandstone caves and overhangs which stretch out alongside and into the Pacific.  From an artists perspective, the light and dark and overlapping shapes of rock are organic in their form, with water pooling in almost cellular like structures…the photographs and then the resulting rendering (still not quite finished) in acrylic paint are a first impression and interpretation of what I saw.
I have combined elements (e.g. layered, overlapping and cell shaped rocks) into one view…and want to portray the incredibly organic nature of the place.

I immediately knew while looking at the rock formations that I would not want to paint them as they are, but to interpret them in the way they affected me as we walked over them and experienced them.  The painting is not yet completed, but soon!

BACK ON TRACK

One whole summer, fall, winter, spring have lapsed.  Blog seriously neglected…must remedy!
Summer 2015 COMING UP!  A tentative beginning.  SO much water under ye old bridge.
Renovations, a trip to NZ, home to finish renovations, relatives arriving from NZ and
the adventures of a BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT.

TONIGHT, the first night of ‘al fresco’ dining on Bowen chez Abby and Barry.  Spectacular food,
evening, the sunset and added energy for Mr. T!!!  IMG_8298

LATE SUMMER IN B C – August 21, 2014

See ‘Green Fig Chutney Recipe” in Food & Recipes section!!!

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Picking Bowen’s Blackberries – competing with other creatures for Mother Nature’s bounty!
There is no end to MN’s bountiful offerings – fish, corn, potatoes, all manner of green veggies, tomatoes – this has been one of the best summers for eating local or homegrown produce because the sun has been plentiful…after a wonderful swim in the Bay, my neighbor Abby and I picked blackberries along the path from the water and alongside the road home. We didn’t get back to prepare the evening meal until 8:00pm, so obsessed were we with our picking…we were not the only ones at the scene…with blackberry stained hands, we picked busily with the bees, wasps and spiders whose webs were everywhere amidst the millions of berries – no easy feat leaning into the prickly bushes, trying to reach for the fattest, ripest, blackest berries. After awhile we became inured to the scratches and prickles that are part and parcel of berry-picking.  Mr. Spider gave me a good fright as I leaned in to a particularly black and ripe bunch, right behind his web!  This was a rather large spider, in fact!!!

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GARDEN’S DELIGHT ~
What’s happening in your garden currently? Here on Bowen, in the peak of the summer, watering your lawns or gardens is a no-no. Maybe you can get away with watering your hanging baskets and planters, but lawns are left to go straw-colored. Once everything has flowered, the only color remaining comes from the mighty evergreens, the blue sky and the last of the season’s flowering plants such as hollyhock, hibiscus, dahlia, zinnia and sunflower. As far as food growing goes, the precious water here on the island is designated for the harvest – cabbages and carrots, beets, potatoes – the peas and beans nearing their end. Now the root vegetables, squash and pumpkins get the last of summer’s sun and heat.

IMG_6715If you ‘don’t give a fig’ about figs, think again! The neighbor’s FIG tree here on the island has yielded a magnificent crop this year, setting up a contest between man and wasp to collect the plump and bursting green figs, dripping their sweet juices onto our heads as we reach up into their beautiful foliage to pluck the plump and oozing green orbs. What to do with so many figgies? Check out ‘Food and Recipes’ for ways to deal with your figs before they explode on the ground!  A recipe for fig chutney (SO DELISH) is on the horizon!

THE BEST IS YET TO COME! May 29, 2014

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2 months back in beautiful British Columbiait is SO LUSH here, that my bok choy has already gone to seed and it’s not even June…what’s new?  A recipe for Funghi al Forno, my take on a Terroni favorite, a few new poems, and some drawings, and the rest is yet to come!  This is the season where the many chores just JUMP OUT at you…and even the smallest tasks can be satisfying if you get them off your JOB LIST!  Today’s BIG accomplishment has been to clean out the KEY cupboard and get rid of keys that no longer fit the locks, make sets out of the gazillion extras we’ve had cut for friends, guests etc. and tidy the whole lot up so that it doesn’t take a lot of running around inserting keys to see if they fit or not…feeling very happy about the fact that we are all ‘keyed’ up!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ CYCLONE LUSI HAS BLOWN HERSELF OUT IN NORTHLAND After 32 hours of high winds and a mixture of weather including several inches of rain Cyclone Lusi left Northland with little damage caused.  Because of this, it is relatively safe to say that most of us enjoyed watching Mother Nature show her stuff.  The house we are staying in is a pretty standard NZ bach which means that it is of basic construction, poorly insulated and reliant on rainwater for a water supply.  Most farmers were happy to have the rain,  but I can imagine the winds were quite daunting. The people happiest with the weather system were surfers and kite boarders. It was astounding to see what kinds of conditions these folks were willing to be out in. A trip to the surf beach proved that indeed a few crazies were determined to catch some awesome waves.  After the storm, we were out in a friend’s boat and were able to see the size of the waves from ocean side, and watch them rolling towards the shore – this of course after the storm when the water was relatively normal with the full moon. Here are a few pics to show you what it was like!

There is no end to beauty in NZ…for instance the beaches are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever ‘combed’ – uncrowded, unspoiled for the most part, clean, with dunes and sea birds being protected – so they don’t disappear  before the next century. Check out PHOTOGRAPHY for a taste of Kiwi life at and around the beach… image The NZ Dotterel (Charadrius obscurus) is a native NZ shorebird found on beaches, in sandpits or feeding in tidal estuaries along two specific areas in NZ. On the west coast, from Kawhia northwards, or along the east coast of Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty. There is a small population of these on Stewart island, (200 birds) and they build their nests on the mountain tops. Once common on NZ beaches, the Dotterel is now an endangered species, as there are only about 1500 of these left. Up at Tauranga Bay, we saw about 10 or 15 pairs nesting in the dunes next to the estuary…dunes that are being recovered after extensive erosion and human interference. The area has been cordoned off by locals and the birds are very protective of their habitat, often chasing after you if you walk anywhere near to the cordoned-off area. Dotterels are mostly pale grey on their backs with off-white underbelly which becomes a russet color in winter and spring. They have a prominent head with brown eyes and black bill and are sometimes hard to distinguish because they blend in well with their habitat of sand and dune grass…they seem quite unafraid of humans and will chirp chirp a warning if you come too close. According to the NZ Department of Conservation, in late summer the Dotterels “leave their breeding sites and congregate in post-breeding flocks at favoured estuaries for the autumn and early winter. These flocks are socially important for birds which have lost partners during the breeding season as they can find new partners and young birds can pair for the first time.” Maungawhai is host to one of these flocks of approximately 150 birds and it would be nice to seem them again as they are lively and quite bold! image The estuary at Maungawhai Heads is an incredible feeding ground for all kinds of sea birds…the tidal flats laden with shell fish laid bare when the tides stream out.

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TAURANGA BAY, NORTHLAND, NEW ZEALAND

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Tauranga Bay – is the FAR NORTH of the North Island of New Zealand and a small community of people on the larger Whangaroa Bay…the closest large town, Kerikeri, is South of Tauranga Bay..which is considered part of the Bay of Islands and approximatley 236 kms. or a 3 hour 20 minute drive from Auckland. This area was first visited by Captain cook in 1769 and he aptly name it Bay of Islands. Heading along Hwy. 10 North, and past Kaeo and Whangaroa is Tauranga Bay, where our friends have a typical ‘KIWI batch’ facing the beach…the water is a wonderful aqua color, and it is not unusual for the weather to be a bit of everything in one day. The water can be dead calm or great for boogey or body surfing. The school holidays are now over and the family traffic of the summer is down to a dull roar. In otherwords, it’s pretty peaceful out here in the wop wops! Soon we will head south towards Auckland and settle down in another popular beach town known as Mangawhai which is where I’m hoping I will get to bring out the drawing pad, water colors and camera and pursue my dream of creating artwork that will be appealing enough to give as gifts or to sell…practice makes perfect…there are plenty of beautiful walks to do, Kauri trees to visit, and birds to watch.
Our friends have a fishing boat and regularly go off to areas around the Cavalli islands or just off Whangaroa Bay to catch fresh Snapper, Kawahai or even a Kingfish…we have been eating
fresh fish from the sea, nothing can compare.
Happiness is time out at the beach. Kapai!

UP TO YOUR NECK IN 2014!

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One month has passed since my last blog post.  Sounds a bit like confession, doesn’t it?  This does not bode well for the NEW YEAR, however my resolutions have been made and I’m tapping away at the keyboard, happy to finally be back at the drawing board.

GREY, foggy, misty, dampness has settled onto
our fair shores but we mustn’t complain about our weather compared to our East Coast friends and family. We have had a very gentle winter so far with only one short cold snap that challenged our plumbing and heating systems, (not to forget aching bones!)

New Year’s day began with the annual plunge into the waters of the frigid Pacific…and though the day was not cold the water WAS!  So good to scream like a baby entering the world for the first time! The Polar swim; a refreshing look into the future with eyes, heart and head clear and fully awake to the possibilities.  A new year, with the seeds for new beginnings already planted.

Why start the year with a polar swim?

*Wikipedia gives the following info on the origins of the ‘polar bear plunge’.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_bear_plunge#Canada

In Canada “Polar Bear Swims”, “Plunges”, or “Dips”, is a New Year’s Day tradition in numerous communities across the country.[1]Vancouver, BC’s annual Polar Bear Swim Club has been active since 1920 and typically has 1,000 to 2,000 registered participants, with a record 2,128 registrants plunging into English Bay in 2000. Registration is not enforced and the actual number of swimmers may be significantly higher. Estimates of the number of observers are typically up to 10,000.[2] Suburban White Rock, BC’s was founded in 1958, and other suburbs including Port Moody and North Vancouver also hold swims[3]

Other locations include Bowen Island BC [18], Edmonton AB, Calgary AB, Ottawa ON, Oakville ON,[4] Toronto ON,[5] Clarington ON,[6]Sarnia ON,[7] Montreal QC, North Hatley QC, Halifax NS, Prince Edward Island, and St. John’s NL. In Yellowknife NWT, the “Freezin’ for a Reason” plunge is held in March after the spring thaw.

Hopefully you will make your NEW YEAR everything it can be for you, your family and friends.  Good to spread your self around – just how much and for whom usually varies – life is like that!  Spread it around according to the balancing act that is your life and stay on course.

What does the NEW YEAR represent for you?  More of the same?  Less is more?  New beginnings?  Approach to finish lines/deadlines?

So many ways to be inspired. Are you a ‘resolution- maker’ come resolution breaker?  Are New Year’s resolutions a source of stress or pleasure, of anticipation or dread?

I say that life is what you make it and if you have to make resolutions to get motivated, fine. If you have to break them to cut yourself some slack, so be it.  But movement forward is key.  Standing still is sometimes necessary, but ultimately, there has to be movement…and forward is usually the direction we are heading for.

This year?  I generally want to move forward with my photography – and to increase my opportunities for writing.  I have added ‘POETRY’ as a new page, and perhaps this blog will enable me to bring to light the works of a lifetime thus, and to be inspired to write more poetry as the new year opens up possibilities for travel, learning, and honing skills.

What’s on your agenda for 2014?

COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS 2013

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Christmas can be what you make it.  You can celebrate the birth of Jesus and attend midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, or you can think of Christmastime as a
celebration of the Winter Solstice.  It’s a time when many folks, Christian and not banish the fewer hours of daylight by putting up festive lights that sparkle on a black winter’s night.  In the Northern hemisphere, Winter Solstice is Dec. 21, at 5:11 pm.

Deborah Byrd, founder of EarthSky – http://earthsky.org/earth/everything-you-need-to-know-december-solstice tells us all about Winter solstice in scientific terms and her website is a great place to learn about the shortest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere and the longest day of the year in the Southern hemisphere.

Regardless of your beliefs, the Solstice is an occasion to celebrate the ‘return of the light’ with family and friends.  It’s a time when people like to get together to ‘eat, drink, and be merry.’  Over the years, our family has customarily celebrated the way Quebecers do, by going to Midnight Mass and returning to the household for a grand post-midnight-mass meal, called Reveillon. It didn’t take long for the ‘midnight mass’ ritual to fall away as our family became a blend of Antipodean and Canadian.  We moved away from the more traditional and Catholic way of celebrating and leaned more towards the Yule celebrations, focusing more on the notion of renewal and reflection…the opportunity to take time out to spend quality time with the people you most care for and with whom you don’t often have the time to connect.

Quebec Christmasses are usually snowy and white, and the Reveillon is a wonderful way to ring in Christmas Day.  In BC, the weather can be just about anything…this Christmas, they are predicting a 60 – 70% chance of rain on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day in Vancouver could be sunny with a few scattered showers.  That’s the reality of living on the Pacific Ocean in the wintertime!  In NZ, Christmas is usually warm and sunny, and it’s likely a good day for the beach, with surfboards on the roof rack rather than Xmas trees.
Wherever you live, and whatever way you celebrate, gift giving is usually customary.  This can be a really stressful time for people who don’t have money and who feel pressured to buy buy buy because of the dictates of the media.

I like to think of Christmas these days as ‘gift making’, and sharing any talents you might have.  Last year I gave people ‘photographs’, and this year will be a similar event, with a bit of ‘clay work’ added in, and home made treats. Spending huge amounts of money on people is losing its popularity and I’m hoping that the growing trend will be for folks to take time out to share a meal with loved ones and to include in their plans, those who are less fortunate.

In “Food & Recipes”, I include the ‘tourtiere’ (meat pie) recipe my mother used to make for Reveillon when we lived in Quebec.  ENJOY!

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WINTER IS HERE ON THE ISLAND

…not full-blown winter, but the beginnings…snow icing the
mountains, winds blowing cold across the ocean, darkness ascending more quickly, porridge on the stove, wool socks and gloves out of storage, fireplace working overtime. Yup, it’s that time of year.

Next up? Christmas.

Time to snuggle up under the eiderdown and read, read, read, or pursue whatever brings you enjoyment. Speaking of reading, check out
READING for a quick review of the new Joseph Boyden book, “The Orenda”.

AUTUMNAL GREETINGS

Time to get back into the blog of things…I have not been faithful to
my daily meditation, at least not in print, and so, the encroaching
days of darkness inspire me to get back to the keyboard to record
the events of the summer passed.  

In ‘READING’, I have included a number of book titles that might be
of interest, and would encourage anyone to reply with some favorite
book titles of their own.  

I have also posted a simple recipe in Food & Recipes – this is a winner!

The weather here in BC for the past couple of weeks has been sensational
and I can almost say that the FALL colours this year could possibly compete
with those back east…just saying…it’s pretty spectacular here at present!
Halloween is coming up, and the fog and mists that have been coming off the
ocean with the accompanying fog horns is making this season quite special.
By mid-morning, most of the fog has burned off and we are enveloped in a
warm,  golden and resplendent sun…enjoy while you can.  The leaves are 
just beginning to cover the streets and sidewalks in carpets of gold and red, and
if we are lucky the rains will hold off so that we will not be walking around in our
customary leaf-mash…layers and layers of it lining the pavement.

Enough…back to the drawing board!