We've had an awful lot of rain lately. Our neighbour, Mike, woke us up at 4:30 this morning to let us know that water was flooding into our crawl space. He's the last cottage on the lane and we're the second last cottage. He said he was woken by the sound of water gurgling in his furnace. His place was completely surrounded by water and he was also letting us know that he was evacuating to his parents place. He's got an SUV that sits higher than the water so he can make it down the lane.
Lise and I grabbed flashlights, put our rubber boots on and took a walk around our place to see how bad things were. Yes, water was all the way up to our well. Looking along the north side of the house we could see that water was flowing into our crawl space but while the ground was soggy right around the other sides of the house, the chickens were dry. We also checked the shed because that's where our furnace and hot water tank are stored and everything was dry there too.
The water had risen halfway up our driveway and all the way down the lane. From the way the wind is blowing it looks like the lake is blowing water right towards our house.
Now that it's light, I went out to see if the water had receded enough for me to get into the city this morning and took this video.
Mike's back now and I can hear he's running a pump to pump out his crawl space. We don't have any mechanicals down there but I wonder if I should go rent a pump too? I'm going to make some calls.
My daughter Jennifer gave birth yesterday to a healthy 7 pound baby boy!
I enjoyed the privilege of coaching her through her labour helping her push her son into the world. What an experience it is to be there with your daughter as she gives birth. As I held her and reminded her to breathe I couldn't help but remember me giving birth to her and how life truly does come full circle.
Anyway, here is a little video of Tyson's first bath at two hours old.
I can't begin to say how excited I am to now have two grandchildren. Tomorrow I'll have my son and his wife and their two girls and my daughter and her boyfriend and their two boys here for a beach day and roasted lamb supper. Yeah, life is good.
One of my favourite quotes was made by the late Erma Bombeck, "Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving." With a Catholic mom and a Baptist father and as a young adult becoming a Salvationist, I know guilt - and yes, it is the gift that keeps on giving.
In my early 30s when it became clear to me that I could not adhere to the heterosexual imperative our society demands, I stepped away from the church. Why hang around someplace where you know that they would run you out just for being who you are?
In the ensuing years I have had to find my own sense of spirituality but have often thought of all the young people, still within their churches, questioning their sexuality. I've read that suicide rates for young people who question their sexuality are much higher than the average and I often wonder if this is not because of the guilt and shame which is inflicted by fundamental and main-stream religions.
If you are a young person reading this who is struggling with your sexuality or a parent whose child has just revealed her/his sexuality, or anyone who has struggled with reconciling your faith with your sexuality, run to your video store and rent this film.
I miss SCTV. I loved Andrea Martin's characters: Edith Prickly, Edna Boil, Pirini Scleroso and her impressions of Barbra Streisand, Connie Francis and Bernadette Peters. I think Ms Martin is brilliant and was delighted to see her in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
This movie is a fictionalized account of the war crimes trial of judges and prosecutors who served the Nazis.
"Judgment at Nuremberg" depicts a watershed event: the first trials, based on principles of justice and international law, of the leaders of a country that waged aggressive war and committed crimes against humanity. The film is a gripping, searching and provocative look at the moral issues surrounding both the actions of the accused and the process of bringing them to justice. The film also explores the issue of whether ordinary Germans bore responsibility for the Holocaust.
I have seen this movie many times before, however, while watching the movie this morning, I was struck with how relevant the film's themes are today as we contend with our "War on Terror" and are living with the abomination of such things as America's Patriot Act, detainees at Guantanamo Bay, horrors at Abu Ghraib Prison and Canada's compliance with "no-fly" lists.
Burt Lancaster plays the character Ernst Janning a German judge who is on trial for condemning innocent people during the Nazi regime. Janning is pretty stoic throughout the proceedings but as he watches the court room events unfold, he is compelled to give an explanation for his actions. In one of the most stirring moments on the film, Janning rises in court to give his statement:
"There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger. We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. Above all, there was fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, and fear of ourselves. Only when you understand that - can you understand what Hitler meant to us. Because he said to us: 'Lift your heads! Be proud to be German! There are devils among us. Communists, Liberals, Jews, Gypsies! Once these devils will be destroyed, your misery will be destroyed.'
It was the old, old story of the sacrificial lamb. What about those of us who knew better? We who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we take part? Because we loved our country! What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. Hitler himself will be discarded... sooner or later.
The country is in danger. We will march out of the shadows. We will go forward. Forward is the great password. And history tells how well we succeeded, your honor. We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. The very elements of hate and power about Hitler that mesmerized Germany, mesmerized the world! We found ourselves with sudden powerful allies.
Things that had been denied to us as a democracy were open to us now. The world said 'go ahead, take it, take it! Take Sudetenland, take the Rhineland - re militarize it - take all of Austria, take it! And then one day we looked around and found that we were in an even more terrible danger. The ritual began in this courtroom swept over the land like a raging, roaring disease. What was going to be a passing phase had become the way of life.
Your honor, I was content to sit silent during this trial. I was content to tend my roses. I was even content to let counsel try to save my name, until I realized that in order to save it, he would have to raise the specter again. You have seen him do it - he has done it here in this courtroom. He has suggested that the Third Reich worked for the benefit of people. He has suggested that we sterilized men for the welfare of the country. He has suggested that perhaps the old Jew did sleep with the sixteen year old girl, after all. Once more it is being done for love of country. It is not easy to tell the truth; but if there is to be any salvation for Germany, we who know our guilt must admit it... whatever the pain and humiliation."
Here is Lancaster's brilliant performance:
Spencer Tracy played the head of the tribunal, Judge Dan Haywood. Throughout the movie as he interacts with the German people and in particular in his interactions with the widow of an executed German officer, played by Marlene Dietrich, you can see his struggle to understand the evidence of the atrocities presented in court in light of the warmth and nature of the Germans he meets. He can't seem to grasp how a people with such love of life and song could allow such things to happen and claim they didn't even know they were happening. I see Janning's statement as the point where this juxtaposition becomes clear to him and this chilling realization is reflected in his comments at the trial's verdict:
"Janning, to be sure, is a tragic figure. We believe he loathed the evil he did. But compassion for the present torture of his soul must not beget forgetfulness of the torture and death of millions by the government of which he was a part.
Janning's record and his fate illuminate the most shattering truth that has emerged from this trial. If he and the other defendants were all depraved perverts - if the leaders of the Third Reich were sadistic monsters and maniacs - these events would have no more moral significance than an earthquake or other natural catastrophes.
But this trial has shown that under the stress of a national crisis, men - even able and extraordinary men - can delude themselves into the commission of crimes and atrocities so vast and heinous as to stagger the imagination. No one who has sat through this trial can ever forget. The sterilization of men because of their political beliefs... The murder of children... How easily that can happen!
There are those in our country today, too, who speak of the "protection" of the country. Of "survival". The answer to that is: survival as what? A country isn't a rock. And it isn't an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for, when standing for something is the most difficult! Before the people of the world - let it now be noted in our decision here that this is what we stand for: justice, truth... and the value of a single human being!"
The verdict is indeed chilling and Tracy delivers it with the aplomb and skill of a seasoned actor:
But while the performances of all of the actors in this film were stellar, it is the themes of the film from which we can draw meaning and which rung a bell for me today.
In a post-911 world we too live in a "Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, and fear of ourselves." We too have leaders who would tell us, "There are devils among us. Once these devils will be destroyed, your misery will be destroyed."
In our fear to be thought of as less patriotic, in our fear of once again being targeted by those who hate us, many sit in silence and say, "What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later."
But this way of thinking only perpetuates the very evil from which we seek to protect ourselves. In our paralytic fear we've allowed the very principles upon which our democracy was founded to become corrupted. I think these last few word's of Judge Haywood's verdict should be not only etched in our hearts and minds but retained to galvanize us to rededicate ourselves to the principles we have held so dear:
"A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment that the grasp of the enemy is at its throat, then is seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way, only the answer to that is: survival as what? A country isn't a rock. And it isn't an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for, when standing for something is the most difficult!"
I seem to remember when I was growing up an ice cream treat called the Nutty Buddy. I don't think I'll look at a chocolate dipped, peanut encrusted ice cream cone the same way ever again. Man, even I cringed watching this video.
Today, October 26th is my mom's birthday and she sits in an Ottawa hospital awaiting placement in a nursing home. She's recovered well from her stroke but remains disoriented and confused. As time goes on, she will become more confused and remember even less. She has already forgotten much of her past and I know that one day she will even forget who I am.
So while I still can, I believe it's important that I remember for her. I know that everyone says this about their moms but my mom was an incredible woman. No, she didn't discover a cure for cancer or solve world hunger or peace but she was incredible because she swam against the current of her time and tried to live her life differently. Her life may not have turned out as she would have liked and she did suffer greatly but along the way she had some pretty cool adventures.
I'd like to share one period of her life with you that had a tremendous influence on me throughout the years.
My mom was a from a Francophone community in Northern Ontario. Her father didn't believe in educating girls beyond grade six - why does a girl need an education when all she's going to do is change diapers? My mom argued with my grandfather and managed to stay in school until grade eight. After that, she would sneak out of the house to attend high school. I'm not sure if she managed to finish high school but when she was nineteen she started taking courses in typing and shorthand. By then World War Two had ended and she left home to find work.
One of her sisters had found a job in Ottawa working as a chambermaid at the historic Chateau Laurier hotel and mom left home to join her. Soon, her typing and shorthand skills landed her a job with Blue Cross in Toronto so she moved to Hogtown and lived there for four years until she accepted a transfer to a Blue Cross office in New York City.
I'm not exactly sure how long she worked for Blue Cross but her next job was to work for a man named Archie Bleyer. Mr. Bleyer had once been the band leader for Arthur Godfrey and in 1952 had started his own recording company he called Cadence Records.
Mom always fondly remembered Andy Williams, Phil and Don Everly (she said they were always polite, sweet boys), and Dorothy, Carol, Janet and Jinny of The Chordettes. Mom had friends in the secretarial pools of other record labels like RCA and Capitol and the gals used to swap disc jockey pressings of the 45s and albums of the day.
When my mom was pregnant with me, the gang at Cadence had a baby shower for her and all the label's stars were there to congratulate her. She left Cadence Records to stay home and be wife and mother but I always got the feeling that she missed the music business. But she hung on to all the records she collected while working for Cadence and these were the records I listened to growing up.
In our house we listened to all kinds of music from rock 'n roll to country, to pop, to big band, to classical. I grew up appreciating all kinds of music and it's small wonder that today I find myself married to a musician.
So to celebrate my mom's birthday here's a little video of a song she used to sing to me. Happy Birthday Mom!
Whirl, whirl twist and twirl. Jump around like a flying squirrel. It's Saturday morning and time for a cartoon. This cross-dressing rabbit was one of my favourites growing up. Bugs is my hero! (grin) Enjoy.
October 10th is election day in my province and I'm happy to see that we're having a referendum on electoral reform. I've written about this before (Electoral Dysfunction) and proportional representation is something I wished for Canada so I'm glad that it's finally going to make it to a ballot in one of the provinces.
The Citizens' Assembly for Electoral Reform has a video explaining how they came up with their recommendation for this referendum. It's only 7 minutes long and worth the time to view.
I hate shopping for jeans. After shopping for shoes, shopping for jeans will get me depressed every time. I've got a small waist and a bit of a booty so that makes it really hard to find jeans that fit well. When I find something that fits well around my hips and bum, it puckers out at the back of my waist so much that I end up showing off my knickers. The other thing is that I'm only 5ft 4.5 inches tall. Petite sizes are just a tad too small/short while regular sized clothes are often just a bit too big. What I don't understand is why the larger you go in size the longer the pant leg gets. What's that all about? Women get fatter, not taller. Yeah, I could take jeans to a seamstress but I think the jean manufacturers should just make jeans that fit real women.
After dropping waistlines and finally finding something halfway flattering in the Gap's Long and Lean jean, they tell me that the high waist is coming back. I just got rid of my high waist jeans because I thought they made me look too matronly. Sure, I may be a grandma but I'm not ready for support hose and a cotton duster.
Many Canadians can't start their day without their Tim Horton's coffee. Travel to just about any town in Canada and you'll find locals chewing the fat and sipping on a double-double or line-ups at the drive-through.
To be honest, Tim's doesn't have the best coffee I ever had but a large coffee only costs $1.39 and since, when the birds fly over my house they say, "cheap, cheap, cheap", I refuse to spend more than two bucks on a cup of java. Hmm, I may be the only person in North America who has never had Starbucks. Lise likes one of their fancy caramel concoctions but at almost 6 bucks I'd rather not.
So being the cheapskate that I am, I just about lost my mind when I heard about cat poo coffee.
Feeling rather nostalgic these days. It's a beautiful Saturday morning here and I'm sitting on the patio enjoying the sound of the doves and drinking my coffee. This is a weekend morning ritual for me but many years ago my Saturday morning ritual was a bowl of Sugar Pops and cartoons.
We only got three or four TV stations then and we couldn't afford a color TV until 1969 but as soon as our chores were done, we'd plop ourselves in front of the box until noon. We'd skedaddle out of the house as soon as the cartoons were done because we knew that if we stuck around, mom would find more chores for us to do. So if the weather was nice, for the rest of the day we ran like terrors throughout the neighbourhood with my brother's Daisy air rifle. If it rained we'd spend the day in the garage playing school or Mass. Yeah, we took turns being the priest and used soda crackers for the host.
Anyway, here's a few cartoons I watched as a child:
I like to think that I'm not the only person who has guilty indulgences. I'm not talking about something like chocolate or new shoes. I'm talking about liking things that your friends may think you wouldn't like.
For example, Lise teases me because I like old school country music - I'm talking Loretta Lynn, Don Williams and George Jones. Don't know much about contemporary country music but I just love me some old time pickers and grinners. She also teases me because I like to rock out to The Eagles and Steve Miller Band. You see, she assumed that growing up I would have listened more to R&B or disco. Well, I did listen to R&B and disco as well as Strauss, Chopin, Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire and Pink Floyd.
Lise and I were having dinner the other night with some friends (another lesbian couple) and we began to discuss movies and TV shows that we had seen and enjoyed. I wish I had a camera to capture the look of distaste on their faces when I told them that I was a fan of HBO's series, Big Love. Come to think of it, Lise's brother and his husband had that same look on their faces when I told them about the show's premise.
Big Love is about a family of polygamists - a man with three wives and the intricacies of their lives. My friends could not understand how, as a lesbian and a recovering christian, I would really dig this show. I tried to explain that coming from a Catholic/Baptist/Salvationist background I find their interpretation of Christianity fascinating in light of the deception in their lives. There are so many levels of intrigue, manipulation and deception in this series it's almost like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Big Love has been picked up by HBO for a third season and with season two just about wrapping up I can't wait to see what's going to happen. Here's the trailer for the second season:
My other shameful indulgence is the Showtime series, Dexter. Here's a guy who looks like Opie Taylor, works as a blood splatter expert for the Miami police and just so happens to also be a serial killer. How on earth could a middle-aged lesbo relate to such a character? I sure as hell don't know but I find myself actually feeling sympathy for the guy. Here's the trailer:
Yeah, I'm also a fan of The L Word and Rome but for the next few weeks on Sunday nights I'm watching polygamists and a serial killer. Shhh, don't tell my Birkenstocked friends...
I've been trying to upload this video here for the last several days but haven't be able to because my internet connection sucks. Anyway, all frustration aside here's another short video of my little grand daughter Eve.
Ok, I'm dropping into grandmother mode again. Just can't help it and there ain't no cure for it either. The kids took this short video of Eve blathering away while playing with her daddy. Don't know what she's saying but she sure does!
...one of those insufferable grandparents who obsess over their grandchildren. Holy cow and it took less than 48 hours! They just look at you, coo innocently and instantly the subliminal message of the Borg is conveyed - Resistance is futile.
I made a similar video with the same music for my nephew and his wife's first baby. I simply love Alison Krause and this version of Baby of Mine so...
Well, it looks like Canada has made a deal with the US on the ongoing softwood lumber dispute. We're going to get $4 billion of the $5 billion they illegally took from us. I don't trust them and I don't trust our current government to do well by us. It looks like I'm not alone in my concerns.
Opposition parties want to review this "deal" before it is inked. I don't blame them for their concern. From what I understand of the agreement, either party can 'opt out' by just giving 12 month's notice and it says that all current litigation on this issue is stopped. We've already gone to the courts five times and won this dispute. Despite this, the US has refused to honour its obligations under the Free Trade Agreement. I don't know about you but I have a hard time trusting anyone who doesn't keep their word.
Here's a little primer on the softwood lumber issue:
I wanted to share a little something to honour this celebration but had a hard time finding something that I felt represented to me all that is good about and all of my best memories of the United States. Just as I was about to give up, I found this sweet video. Enjoy.
I was listening to the CBC in the car yesterday and they were talking about a poll that revealed that 70 odd percent of Canadians think we are too modest. Well today is Canada Day. The celebration of the federation of Canada. In honour of this day I'm sharing with you a series of three short videos.
The first is a video set to the music of one of my favourite acts, The Arrogant Worms. The next two were very popular beer commercials the first also features The Worms while the second has gone down in Canadian history and has been repeatedly parodied. Enjoy!
I've had a house full of company these past few days so I've been unable to spend much time at the computer. Today however, I've spent the entire day creating a slideshow from one of my poems. I took me all day to do this because I've never used this program before and my learning curve was interrupted by having to do several loads of laundry (sigh).
Anyway, I wrote the poem "Post Millennial Musings" on January 1st, 2000 and since then thought it would be kind of neat to "digitize" it.