Thursday, 14 July 2016

It isn't even June, it's July

Though that isn't necessarily evident here in Labrador. It is rainy and cool - let me check the temperature - yep it's about 18 here - which is about 65 or so for you Amuricans. Not bad. I didn't have to wear my sweater but it is close. I'm at work, on my break and wanted to update this blog.
I'll say it right out - I'm having a tough time doing anything that isn't work or the dishes. I am plumb outa poop as they say (where? where do they say that? In my head, that's where.) I'm deeply sadly homesick and I can't seem to recover from it. I look at the beauty here and all I can see most days is prison bars. I've been immobilized with chronic pain in my hip and although I'm fighting it with lots of good food and exercise, I feel it is a losing battle. Work is good - by which I mean it is meaningful and plentiful - but difficult. Like most of the world, it seems like a struggle to find the basic goodness here right now. Oh, I know it is here, otherwise I couldn't be - but every step forward seems fraught.

I read the other day that Aboriginal communities were tired of believing that their youth were suiciding because of mental illness - they were suicidal because of the disease of colonization. I agree. And I'd like to add to the list of symptoms of that disease - sexual abuse, physical violence, murder, addiction, depression, anxiety, and a general malaise I'd call No Hope. We miss the point when we blame the weak and dis-empowered  for their own problems. It has been a long battle in my heart - this taking on the guilt of the oppressor but I cannot hide from it anymore. It doesn't matter that I tell myself (and others) that my ancestors were more oppressed than oppressors - Scottish people hauled from their land so the English could graze their sheep - I know that the mantle of oppression shifts from shoulders to shoulders but the whites have worn it since they arrived in the new world. Period. We don't want to know about it - who wants to know that their privilege comes at the expense of others - but it is true. The most miserably downtrodden white street person has more power than the most lauded and moneyed Aboriginal.

I will have learned much on this sojourn to another part of Canada and I will forget much of it. But I won't forget the kids here. Ever.

Thursday, 28 January 2016


So cold.
So very very cold.
But my mind is ticking away - ideas heating it up

The fella and I have started university.
We are attending The College of Long Nights. We are the only two students and we are also the only two instructors. I'm taking one course now (just until I get going). It is Moby Dick. The course consists of me reading the book and then discussing it with the fella who has read it several times.  The fella is taking Dante's Inferno which he will then discuss with me. He's going to start Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (a self-directed course using the book of the same name), and I'm soon to start Important Elements in Understanding WWII offered by the fella. It's all terribly exciting. I don't think there will be any papers or exams but we will have to respond to that old exam question: Discuss.

I'm enjoying Moby Dick. It is a lot more humorous than I thought it would be. I'm not sure why I thought it would be rather dry and boring - it certainly isn't. I read Captain Ahab's Wife (Or The Star Gazer) by Sena Jeter Naslund last year so it is fun seeing how closely the author followed her inspiration. Not sure how the fella is doing with Dante's Inferno. I might just ask him to read certain Cantos aloud to me. I love his reading voice. When he is taking the drawing course (which I've already done) I can draw along with him so that'll be fun. As to the WWII class - he has to instruct me on what to read. I don't need to have his grasp of the subject - just a better one than I have.

Other antidotes to the desire to simply go to bed at 7:30 are becoming involved with a group looking into representational voting in Canada - a wonderfully confusing topic that will eat up hours with debate; reading Bill Bryson's The Road to Little Dribbling and positively losing it with laughter; trying to teach the dog to beg - which lasted about 45 seconds. Not everything works. We're rather tired of Netflix for instance. I can't bear all the mean cold thrillers out there. I'm full up with Scottish, Danish, Norwegian and British detectives who are submerged in mental states to dire to contemplate. Please refrain from suggesting ones I'm sure to like - I won't. I only want to watch Rake over and over again. So there.

And of course - cooking nice food, cuddling, talking to friends back home, and maybe going back to teaching myself the piano.

Winter is long.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Heading Home for the Holidays

Home? What is that you say? Well, we are homeward bound in two days. We call it home as it is where the bulk of our kids, grandkids and bestest pals reside. We know we'll be welcomed and everyone will want to hear about our further adventures in the land of snow and ice. We'll stay in Prospect Bay, visit in Halifax, Fox Point and Chester. We'll eat too much and stay up too late. We probably will get hopelessly behind in Longmire episodes, but we won't give a care. We'll miss our bed and our view of the beach, but we won't miss Bella, cuz we're bringing her with. Yay says step-dot Sarah! We'll miss Robin and our special brand of family dinners, but heck - she left us lonely the last two Christmases, so now tis her turn.

Recent news of interest to Sojourner visitors - we were plagued by a wolf for the past two weeks. It meant I came to work an hour early so I could catch a ride, and it meant no idly walking on the beach for this scaredy-cat. Now rumours abound. Was it killed? Someone shot one wolf from a snowmobile but wasn't sure it was fatal. Another person says there are two - a black one and a reddy-brown one. The black one killed a dear little beagle in the its yard, just down a few houses. I wish they didn't have to be killed but I sure understand the need to do so. That is one of the weird twists of living here. Yes, there are wolves, bears, and foxes - but there are also hunters, trappers and plenty of guns.
here is a bear whose photo I took
and a wolf that I found on the net:

I'm finished work today - go tomorrow for graduation and then not again until the fourth of the new year. In between, I'll draw, I'll write, I'll loll and visit.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Where Winter is Greeted with Delight

One of my favorite things about Labrador is that I no longer dread winter. In Nova Scotia, and before that in Ottawa, my spirits would sink into my mukluks as the dread season approached. By February and March I'd be beside myself with hatred of snow and ice and black ice and more snow and most of all, of lousy driving conditions.

Here in Labrador, winter is anticipated with delight. The former mayor was just over to our house and he was exclaiming how happy he was that the colder temperatures had FINALLY arrived. It is minus fifteen today and sunny as can be. Why does he and most of the others here want that low temperature? Why, so the bay will freeze of course, and the snow-goes can be brought out. So folks can get to their cabins, and ice fishing can commence.

We have no cabin - feeling no longing to escape the hurly-burly of downtown North West River (population 523 on a fat day). We do have Uncle Dick's snowmobile. I don't love it - racketing along with the bumps and dips of the land or bayscape. But I do love walking along the shore instead of slogging through the woods and that is easy-peasy once the bay has frozen tight. And I love the infinite variation of snow and ice forms along the shore - the ballycatter, the crazy candle-ice of spring, all of it. The ice makes a poetic long-line showing where the determined tide still manages to effect its design.

Here are some photos of my walks to work this week. I will also include a photo of the lighting of the kudlik - a soapstone lamp used for centuries by the Inuit. Miriam Lyall, an Inuk from the coast, came to our centre to show our families how it is done.

 the road I live on...
  A view of Upalong from the bridge.

Miriam lights the kudlik

 the hills behind Little Lake with their dusting of snow

 the hill from the bridge where I work.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Grace in Small Things #4

1. A picnic at the Halifax Airport with my bestest pals. On a four hour layover I was taken to a observing deck where we had smoked salmon, delicious cheeses, baguette, florentines, bubbly, and best of all - great huge helpings of good conversation, hugs, and kisses.

2. When my daughter-in-law was trying to get my youngest grandchild's onesie on he yelled out beseechingly "Meemaw!" (his name for me).

3. Is this a small thing? No. However. We got out country back - we got our country back. I can't stop being so grateful for that.

4. Last night I knit and watched a silly show with my fella. I love that.

5. Crows.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Grace in Small Things #3

1. My coffee warms me thrice. Considering it. Holding the cup of it in my hands. Feeling it slip down my throat.

2. Two new pals are coming for dinner tonight. I stayed up late to make Arroz con Pollo for them. It smells delicious and the recipe connects me back to one of my oldest pals, who I got to think of while making it, as we have done so many times over the past 40 years.

3. I am going to help the Buffalo Riders (grade 5s) make medicine bags today.

4. The yellow leaves of the turning trees make every view even more delightful. Medicine for the heart.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Grace in Small Things #2

Where I found grace in the past while:
1. Making a new dolly.  So utterly satisfying when I was stuffing the little limbs. I don't know why, but it is.

2. Watching Bill Cunningham, New York on netflix. This octogenarian cool hunter is such a lovely, enlightened being. Watch it.

3. Making a kale dish that everyone went yum yum for by transforming a Canadian Living recipe from swiss chard. Who doesn't like frazzled onions?

4. the sun coming up all rosy and pearly over the bay this morning. I never get tired of that.