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October 6, 2008 in Social Commentary | Tags: anti-nuke activist, bad air quality, Barnesville, blogs, brain cancer, CH Television, Costa Rica, debates, deer, deer hunting, Elizabeth May, Elm Recovery Project, federal election, Firefly Books, Gerald Waldron, Green Party, growing native trees, Growing Trees from Seed, Guelph, Guelph Arboretum, Guindon, Hamilton, Hamilton Spectator, Henry Kock, Homecoming, Irene Kock, Joe Biden, John Ambrose, Lorraine Roy, Lynda Lehman, moose hunting, Ohio, Olney Friends School, OPIRG, Paul Aird, Pennsylvania, photos, power point, press releases, Quaker Monthly, Sarah Palin, Shirley Klement, textile art, Tina Fey, Tropical Forests UK, University of Guelph, vice-presidential debate, Virginia, Walking with Wolf, Wolf Guindon | Leave a comment
I can’t believe it has been two weeks since I wrote last…what was I doing? I have been on my computer quite a bit, took a couple trips to Toronto and Guelph, but really, there is no excuse.
I am sorry to announce the death of my camera – I have dropped it one time too many and the battery compartment has been taped for awhile but now the batteries aren’t lasting as long and, well, it’s time. I’m on my way the the U.S. of eh? tomorrow, the land of the free and the golly gee these days – and will have to buy a camera while I’m there. I feel very bland on my blog without photos – it took me awhile to learn how to post them, but once I did, well, I was having fun. Now I’m just about the words, and that’s great and all, but the pics are half of what inspires me to write. As my friends have found out, if the camera takes a good pic, then you’ll probably make the blog. And I now try and remember to ask people if they don’t want their full name on the blog, those who want to keep living in relative obscurity, and keep it first names only with little bits of tape across their distinguishing features in the pics. HA! As if we can really hide.
A week ago I wrote some articles – one for the Tropical Forests UK website, which was chopped down significantly since I hadn’t asked how many words they wanted and, well, I’m wordy. The other went to Quaker Monthly and I haven’t heard anything from the editor to know what she is going to do with it. I spend a lot of my time on the internet, sending press releases, contacting media folk, and seeking out places to get reviews done. I’m most disappointed with the local media specifically the Hamilton Spectator and CH Television. I mean, I just don’t think there are that many authors in Hamilton that they couldn’t do a little piece about Walking with Wolf. But I keep trying and maybe I’ll find the right hook to get their attention.
Tomorrow I start a roadtrip with my friend Shirley. The purpose of the trip is to go to Olney Friends School in Barnesville, Ohio for their Homecoming weekend. Wolf and I are presenting the book next Saturday night – he and Lucky are coming up from Costa Rica. I’m so excited to be doing this, but extremely happy to spend some time with them. I know there will be many Guindons there as well as the families of the students who are presently enrolled. Wolf and Lucky are pretty well-known alumni and so this weekend, bringing Wolf’s book back to his alma mater, is bound to be quite emotional. That is what has kept me busy this last week, reworking the power point slides and choosing what to read. A small problem is that I’ve had a seriously big frog croaking in my throat for a few days. I’ve been trying not to talk too much but, well, that’s a hard one for me. And even sitting here at home alone working on the presentation, I’m talking as I read aloud, timing the images with the talk. I’ll have to try harder and keep quiet and let Shirley do the talking in the car. I’m not sure if it is bad air quality here in Hamilton or some kinda weird bug, but there it is. Hopefully I’ll be fine by Saturday, but if not, that’s what they make microphones and amplifiers for.
We are driving down to Virginia first to go visit some of Shirley’s family. Shirley wouldn’t do the drive herself and so I offered to take her there, kind of on our way to Ohio. The thing we’ll be looking for the most is the deer on the highways. I’ve driven at this time of the year to Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas – well, anywhere going through Ohio and Pennsylvania and West Virginia it is shocking with the amount of dead deer carcasses and blood puddles on the highways. It’s a slaughterhouse out there. It makes it unwise to drive at night which I generally don’t mind doing. It isn’t worth the risk, when those poor crazed deer come leaping across the fences out of the dark shadows. I think it’s happening at this time of the year because of hunting driving the deer out of the woods - they just run onto roads as they try to escape. I guess the other possibility is that it is mating season and they are all love-crazed but I tend to think it is the first thing that is causing the vehicular slaughter.
A few days ago I went up to the Guelph Arboretum to the launch of a new book called Growing Trees from Seed (Firefly Books). It was a project started a few years ago by a wonderful man by the name of Henry Kock. I knew Henry when I went to the University of Guelph in the early 80s and we were both on the board of the OPIRG (one of Ralph Nader’s Public Interest Research Groups). I also knew his sister, Irene. Well, these two people were some of the most dynamic, hardworking, committed individuals in Ontario. Irene was an anti-nuke activist throughout her adult life. She died tragically in a car accident on New Years Eve about six years ago. Then Henry, this outstanding human being, larger than life, developed brain cancer and he died a couple of years ago on Christmas Day. I’m sure the Kock family doesn’t look forward to that week at all anymore.
Henry was known for his love of trees. He started the Elm Recovery Project, to aid in the renaissance of the elms that were wiped out years ago by disease in southern Ontario. He had a thumb so green it was emerald and a passion for nature that energized all those who knew him. He started this book before the cancer was diagnosed but at some point couldn’t continue with it, so three of his friends and co-workers at the Arboretum, Paul Aird, John Ambrose and Gerald Waldron, continued with the book. It is a coffee-table-book-sized practical guide to growing native trees, vines and shrubs and is a must have for anyone who is interested in growing themselves an arboreal garden. Or even one really beautiful tree from scratch.
Also related to Henry, I went with my friend Lynda Lehman, to see the breathtaking textile art of Lorraine Roy. Well, as a person who has worked with fabric all my life, sewing my own clothes when I was younger and then working as a furniture re-upholsterer for years, I have a natural interest in anything made of fabric. Lorraine Roy makes these textile canvases that are compositions of tiny pieces of materials laid out and sewn, quilted in a way, into intricate designs – some abstract but many of them inspired by the lifecycle of trees. She met Henry when she went to the University of Guelph and was moved by his passion which blended with her own love of nature. She has done several series of these masterpieces that feature seeds, trees, ovulation, and much more. Go to her website, (Lroytextileart.com) and take a look. The delicate power of her work is awe-inspiring. There is an incredible amount of detail that results in muted landscapes and still lifes which are not still, but living, organic creations. Her colour sense is musical. I wish I could afford to own one of her pieces, which I don’t even find that expensive, but that won’t be happening for awhile. But…wow.
The last little item that lingers in my head is watching the debates last Thursday night. Here in Canada, we have a federal election next week and the candidates for prime minister sat around a table with a moderator and had a very lively discussion. I quite liked the style of the round table which allowed for lots of real interaction. Proudly, the person who seemed to be announced the “winner” by much of the media was Elizabeth May, the head of the Green Party. I’ve known her from afar for many years and always known that she was a very intelligent spitfire. She had to fight her way into the debate, as there was disagreement about the Greens being there at all. There was a public outcry and so the other parties relented and she was allowed at the table. As it turned out, she was the hottest on many of the issues, especially hot on Steven Harper’s case. Good on you, Elizabeth, this Canadian woman was all substance, style, spit, and smarts.
The other debate that night was the infamous vice-presidential debate between Joe Biden and Tina Fey’s less intelligent double, Sarah Palin. I know this woman must be intelligent to have got to the post of governor of Alaska, but her hokey manner, frequent winking and subterfuge of her very right wing values made me crazy. She kept trying to sound like a mild conservative and either stayed away from answering the questions or contradicted herself. I spent the whole time with my remote, flipping between debates whenever one made me squirm or scream. My take on the Republicans is that I find them wholly irresponsible and arrogant to have put a person of so little experience and sophistication into the (hopefully not so) possible position of being the president. IF McCain were to be elected and IF something bad were to happen to him, she could be the leader of the so-called free world! It seems to me that they were more interested in choosing someone for the ticket who would appeal to the lowest common denominator of the electorate, to the religious right and perhaps (though I’m not sure how) who would appeal to the women who wanted Hillary. I am appalled that they would have put this woman in this position. What I do see is that Palin would appeal to the same folks who voted for that other hokey guy, George W. I can remember seeing an older woman from Kansas in an interview during the last election who I suspect spoke for a certain part of the population when she said that she was voting for Bush because she thought she’d like to sit and drink a pot of tea with him and couldn’t imagine doing that with John Kerry. Well, that’s all very nice and fine, but do you really want this guy as your president? I mean, is feeling comfortable in the tearoom really a prerequisite for being presidential? I mean, is anyone really surprised at what is going on in the US and the world today because of Bush’s presidency. I mean, really???
If you want to invite the woman to go moose hunting, well, go for it, but please don’t put the rest of the world at the risk of being run by Palin and her muddy morally-maverick mind (and the Republican powers-behind-the-Palin). Now that is truly scary.