Grouse for the day

What are you grousing about today? Mine is political. You can stop reading now, if you so choose. I wouldn’t blame you. Mine is this: why is our UCP provincial government even considering a for profit health care system? I am very concerned about this. I cannot see it working. Our health care system may be far from perfect but it’s working much better than others around the world. It is one thing that Canadians are rightly proud of. We know that despite where people may fall on the economic scale, they will be taken care of. In all honesty I did not vote for this government and they have done absolutely nothing to change my mind since they took office a little over a year ago. In the middle of a pandemic our health minister has been belligerent, arrogant, and picking fights with the province’s health care professionals (and have done little for education, either).

Yes, I know this pandemic will cost us all. I am not looking forward to the economic fallout that is sure to come. I know our taxes will likely go up. I know services will be pared down. It’s worrisome. Anyway, that’s my grouse for the day. My apologies. I do try to keep it positive but I am tired, and I am especially tired of the combative nature of our provincial “leaders”.

To hell with being informed. It’s giving me a headache!

Oy! As this pandemic worsens nations are circling the wagons and attempting to block companies that produce personal protective equipment for health care workers from exporting these items. I do understand it. Fear, stress, anxiety, etc. etc. are not the monopoly of the rank and file. It sure is exposing weaknesses in the supply and demand way of doing business. Demand is certainly outpacing supply. As multinational companies moved to produce items at the lowest possible cost and for the highest possible profit; As globalization left governments at the mercy of big business the general population was left vulnerable. That cannot be clearer than it is right now. Nations that were once dependent on one another for goods and services are now throwing caution to the winds and practicing more and more of a protectionist mentality. I don’t pretend to have any answers, or even to have a really good handle on it all. All I know is that it is all very worrisome. And the more I read the more depressed I feel. Is being informed a good idea right now? Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. I think I need to reverse again and go back to my fast on the news! I have a headache!

A very serious Sunday

I have been thinking much more serious thoughts of late – likely due to all I have been reading: about the death knell on democracy; about the climate crisis; about mental health issues, and so forth. Sometimes I just have to wade into those dark pools of human realities.

I like to keep things light, as much as I possibly can. But that is difficult when I allow myself to read all the doom and gloom. I worry about what we are leaving for future generations, because, let’s face it my generation, the “baby boomers,” are quickly entering our twilight years. Meanwhile the powers that be seem bent on operating like its business as usual while the planet seems to be rushing headlong into catastrophe or quite possibly total oblivion.

I was reading one article that discussed the responsibility of journalists to forego using the words “climate change” and instead to call it what it is – a full-blown climate crisis. Perhaps it is well past time we woke up to the reality of all the damages done to the environment in the last hundred years. Yup, it seems pretty bleak.

Then there is the whole issue of democracy and the war on media. Nothing is quite as simple as it seems – there is no black and white but many gradients of gray. Social media has made elections much more devious and based on character (or perceived character traits) of the candidates and, as Ontario illustrated in the last provincial election, platforms that are thin if there is any at all. We vote more with our emotions than with our heads.

And our heads have been inundated with social ills from overcrowded prisons to waiting lines in hospitals. Mental health issues are wide spread with little hope of an answer to the many plagues, such as depression, that abound these days.

I don’t know what to say about it all except that it is very worrisome. I’d like to stick my head in the sand until it all gets magically better. But magic is a mirage – much like the smoke and mirrors that is politics.

I do believe in the inherent goodness of humanity. At every turn in history when push came to shove the despots and tyrants never won – they may seem to in the short run, but in the long run cooler heads do prevail. Perhaps it takes a period of chaos or the imminent destruction of the planet for people to stand firm and shout out a decisive “NO”.

Please, let those cooler heads come to the fore now. May God grant us better leadership and more applied intelligence than we’ve been witness to in the past number of years. Please, God, let it be so.

Taking out the garbage – literally and figuratively

Yesterday was garbage day. The recycling bins are also placed at the curb for emptying. Where we live the recycling, bins are alternated each week. One is light blue and contains paper products, the other is dark blue and contains plastics and aluminum items. When my husband went to put them out he knew it was the dark bins that had to go out. Yet when he looked up and down the street he saw only light blue bins at the curb. He went against the grain and put out the dark blue one anyway. As it turns out, he was right.

So why, you may ask, am I writing about putting out the garbage? Well, it made me think of how easily led we all are. Obviously the first person to put out their bins made a mistake. Yet all our neighbours followed suit. “The blind leading the blind”, so to speak.

We read about “fake news” and the power of social media. Recently I read an article in the Globe and Mail, This lone wolf operative is shaping Ontario’s political discourse, a political analysis by Adam Radwanski (in case you want to check it out yourself).

The article talks about the ‘lone wolf’s intentions of influencing the upcoming provincial election. He created memes he shares on social media with the caption, “Ontario Proud”. It can be very misleading. The memes attack the NDP and malign the Liberal Party. Can we guess which political party this lone wolf would like to see in power? At any rate, these memes are being shared by many on social media without the slightest hesitation.

I get it. People are fed up with Wynn’s liberals and want a change. The problem is that unless we investigate a little further we will not know what hidden agenda lays behind these memes. It’s like everyone following suit with the recycling bins. It’s how Trump got elected president.  Beware the memes people post, and ‘news’ stories from questionable source, that’s all I’m saying. Think for yourself, educate yourself, and don’t be taken in by slick memes and knee-jerk emotion.

Thoughts and Prayers

I have been thinking a lot about thoughts and prayers after the backlash following the horrific shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It is not hard to understand the anguish and the anger that follows such a senseless and tragic catastrophe.  My heart goes out to the people in this community and to the American people as a whole. “Thoughts and prayers” have become a terrible cliché after so many mass shootings. It seems trite and useless, I am sure. The phrase that is meant as an expression of sympathy; as an expression of unity and empathy has been viewed as an insult to many when government action is not taken.

I am a child of the 60s and well remember the student protests in regards to the Vietnam War; to racial segregation; to injustices in general. I remember the sit-ins that were met with armed soldiers in some cases. The movie, ‘The Trial of Billy Jack’ springs to mind. We were the generation that wanted real change – and many of us still do. Sadly, violence is too often the response to a peaceful demonstration for change in many places in the world.

Yet, we are God’s hands. However, we have to agree to be just that. We have to ‘put our money where our mouths are’ and take concrete action to give legitimacy to our thoughts and prayers.

I am Canadian, but the coverage of the most recent school shooting has been massive here. It has eclipsed the very real issues around human rights that we face in our own country. When a farmer can kill an indigenous youth and be exonerated something is terribly wrong. My heart aches for the American people, but it also aches for all Canadians and for humanity in general, for all those who are living with injustices of every kind.

“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of” – Alfred Lord Tennyson. I believe in the power of prayer; in the power of positive thought; in the inherent goodness of humanity. But our prayers must also incorporate the will to do something, to be God’s hands in this world.

Information withheld

Yesterday at work a coworker told me about the cruel reality of life in Venezuela. Although the nation is purported to be a democratic country, the reality is vastly different.  She told me about the lack of food and medication there and of the way the government controls the media, keeping its citizens in the dark as much as possible. Here in Canada we take our freedom for granted. Although many First Nations peoples deal with the struggle with poverty and fight for their rights, they are not shot for protesting (rightfully) the lack of clean drinking water, for example, or the long list of wrongs committed against them, unlike the people of Venezuela. And this is not to slight in any way the experiences of our indigenous peoples. It is simply to point out the gross human rights violations in Venezuela and around the world where the response to peaceful protest is violence. Canada has a long way to go to address the issues facing First Nations groups. Yet, I am grateful to live in a country where food, for the most part, is abundant and medical care, though not without its downfalls, is provided. Living with plenty does not give us a license to turn a blind eye to our indigenous people, nor to the people around the world living in terror as the direct result of tyranny. Today I will pray for peace and for people everywhere to have their needs met. And I will give thanks that I have the choice to be informed about what is happening here at home, and around the world.

Lost in Daydreaming

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”  – Neil Gaiman –

I want to write something beautiful, something uplifting and inspiring, but my mind is somewhat like the catacombs of Paris (or at least as I imagine them to be) going off in a hundred different directions and settling nowhere –  running in a never ending circle of tunnels where my thoughts are squirreled and moth-eaten.

Daydreaming is a rather frequent occupation in my little world. Outside snow flurries drift willy-nilly like dandruff falling from the sky. Not the big fluffy flakes that will no doubt make an appearance as winter advances, but the dry tiny bits of white, as though Mother Nature hoards her moisture for other times.

Today I have read repots of the damages caused by the remnants of hurricanes in my native province of Newfoundland & Labrador; of horrific devastation in Haiti; of further damages in Florida. There are also lots of stories about Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton and the ongoing battle of words as the U.S.A. presidential election draws nearer.

However, natural disaster, politics, crime, and human foibles of various kinds fail to hold my attention and not because I do not care. I do. It is just that my thoughts are as scattered as ashes in the wind and it would be easier to nail jelly to the wall than to put together any comprehensible stream of thought.

I want to write something beautiful – I cannot. But I do wish the world peace and strength to overcome all disaster. Perhaps tomorrow, when the cottony substance covering my brain is lifted I will do better. Until then I will allow myself to be lost in daydreaming.

The Wonder of the Buffalo

“The wide prairie land was the habitat of the great buffalo and the people of the [Blackfoot] Confederacy looked on that animal as their staff of life.” – Canadian Portraits by Ethel Brant Monture –


When I decided to move to Alberta one of the things I most looked forward to was seeing a buffalo. I had read stories of how the First Nations Peoples of the plains had survived for centuries thanks to the buffalo, which was a staple of their diet.  The great herds migrated back and forth between the U.S, and Canada. According to Monture, the buffalo were slaughtered by the thousands by American settlers in a political scheme to control Sitting Bull and the Sioux. At that time, according to Monture, Sitting Bull would strike at the American army and then take refuge with the Blackfoot in Canada. The situation was becoming a headache for the Canadian government as the U.S.A. brought pressure to bear on the government of the day. It is a sad page out of history that the scheme to starve the “Indians” into submission by wiping out the buffalo succeeded. The huge herds were no more, a bare minimum survived the widespread slaughter and once proud and independent peoples were relegated to life on reservations.

Gazing through my camera lens at the massive bovines was both inspirational and grief provoking.  The animals I had the fortune to view live on a ranch near Fort Mckay, AB. They are well cared for but their legacy of thundering across the plains is denied. Like the people who once lived on the flesh and furs of this great animal the buffalo’s freedom has been curtailed and its life vastly changed.