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Sunday May 9, 2021
Today is Mother’s Day.
I had a mother. That’s possibly the only statement that every human on the planet can affirm without qualification. Also any mammal.
` I’m tempted to say that every living thing had a mother, but I’m not convinced that laying eggs in a riverbed or casting spores to the wind qualifies as mothering. The new life may require female DNA, but in my mental dictionary, mothering Involves more than abandoning one’s offspring to chance.
When we scattered our son’s ashes in the ocean off Vancouver Island, his mother began, “From the moment I first felt you moving in my womb…”
With almost a sense of shock, I realized that being a mother starts nine months earlier than being a father.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: Mothers, ego
Thursday May 6, 2021
The Kelowna Art Gallery is hosting a show about nuclear exposure, until July 18.
The gallery’s promotional leaflet says, “BOMBHEAD is a thematic exhibition organized by guest curator John O’Brian that explores the emergence and impact of the nuclear age… encompassing the pre- and post-war period from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daachi in 2011.”
It’s not just about nuclear war, although the visual images do include mushroom clouds and flattened cities.
It’s also about the invisible threat of nuclear radiation.
I felt that the exhibit failed.
BOMBHEAD is a visual arts display. But how does an artist portray something invisible?
What you can’t see CAN hurt you.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: Art, BOMBHEAD, nuclear threat
Sunday May 2, 2021
As a child, I had a smallpox vaccination every year. As an adult, I travelled with a yellow vaccination booklet that documented my vaccinations against smallpox. Also against diphtheria, tetanus, cholera, Yellow Fever, typhoid, typhus, measles, and mumps.
No immigration officer has asked for that booklet in more than 20 years.
Because vaccinations work. They prevent me from catching a disease, and from passing it on.
I don’t care what scruples you have about the ethics of Big Pharma. I don’t care what rumours you have absorbed about Bill Gates or the Illuminati plotting to take over the world. I don’t care if you found an obscure Bible verse that specifically prohibits vaccinations.
Although I can’t help wondering how a writer 2,000 years ago would know about vaccinations, to condemn them.
But I doubt if you have anything that rational against vaccinations.
Tags: UNICEF, vaccination, Immunization, smallpox, polio, Rotary
Men don’t like talking about emotions. They have a hang-up about discussing their hang-ups. If you want to get men talking, ask about their first car.
This tactic doesn’t work as well in mixed groups. Some women don’t care about cars. A few have never actually owned a car. They’ve left car ownership to their boyfriends or husbands.
Cars seem to matter more to men. It’s a macho thing, I guess.
That first car was a rite of passage. An entry to the adult world. A portal to an alternate universe.
Tags: cars, Peter Egan, Road & Track, men
Sunday April 25, 2021
The federal budget is in. As presented by Finance Minister Christia Freeland last week, the budget expects to run a $354 billion -- yes, that’s billion -- deficit for the current fiscal year.
Plus $152 billion next year.
And $59 billion the year after.
On top of somewhere over $400 billion thrown at the economy during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the carnage caused by closures, shutdowns, lockdowns, and travel restrictions.
The federal government itself has no money. It operates on money it collects from us, in taxes. If it doesn’t have enough money on hand, it has to borrow from us, so that it can feed that money back to us, to get us through an economic crisis, and then we have to re-pay ourselves the money that was borrowed on our behalf from ourselves.
Does that strike anyone else as somewhat circular?
Tags: government, deficit, credit, borrowing
If this column seems a little lighter than usual, it’s because I completely forgot about writing it for the local weekly paper. Until today. Which happens to be Earth Day, 2021.
A few years ago, a visiting friend asked me what I thought of the state of the world.
At the personal level, I said, I’m an incurable optimist. I don’t know any individual who would refuse to help out another individual in need.
I know, I know, there are occasional stories of someone being murdered while 27 eyewitnesses did nothing. But those stories make the news because they’re the exceptions.
Most individuals can be, and are, compassionate to other individuals.
At the collective level, though, I am equally pessimistic. As a human species, we seem incapable of thinking beyond the present. We are terminally short-sighted.
Tags: Earth Day, optimism, pessimism
Let’s imagine the unthinkable. Suppose life never goes back to “normal.”
Increasingly, I hear people expressing frustration about pandemic restrictions. They want to visit their grandchildren; travel to exotic places; hug their friends.
I share those desires.
I long for a time when I can associate with my friends directly – not virtually.
But maybe things won’t go back to what they used to be.
Tags: Friendship, COVID-19, isolation
Thurs. Spr. 15, 2021
In January 1993, Joan and I took our winter holiday in Montserrat, one of the less-visited islands of the Caribbean. It was so less-visited, it only had three hotels.
Four years later, the island’s volcano blew up. It buried the capital city in ash. To the rooftops.
Then in January 2008, we went to St. Vincent, at the other end of the Caribbean chain of islands. Five of us hiked up to the rim of St. Vincent’s volcano, past ferns growing 30-feet tall.
We peered down into swirling mists in the crater. I’d love to have gone down, but the rock walls were too sheer for anything but trained climbers with ropes and pitons.
Last week, the volcano on St. Vincent blew up.
Tags: volcano, coincidence, St.Vincent, Caribbean
Sunday April 11, 2021
Many years ago, when our son was still alive but not yet a teenager, our family watched a made-for-TV movie called “The Boy in a Plastic Bubble.”
It had little to commend it. Even the story line was a bit hokey – a boy born with no immunity to anything. To have any kind of normal life, he lived inside a large plastic bubble that isolated him from everyone.
It seemed to me, at the time, that it also reflected the life that our son had to lead. Because he had CF, cystic fibrosis, he had to be protected from anything that might lead to a potentially fatal lung infection.
When the movie ended, our son yawned, stretched, and said, “Okay. I’m going to bed.”
On a sudden impulse, I asked, “Do you ever feel like that boy in the bubble?”
He was frozen for an instant. Then he burst into tears.
Tags: bubbles, CF, isolation, trauma
Thursday April 8, 2021
The church congregation I belong to has held an Easter Sunrise service for at least 40 years. The last two years, however, Covid-19 has thrown a virus into the works. Health restrictions prohibit any gathering of people. And any singing.
This year, for some reason that I cannot fully define, I felt that I needed a sunrise service.
If we couldn’t have one collectively, I decided, I would have one individually.
Which is why I found myself, half an hour before dawn on Easter Sunday, climbing a steep trail up Spion Kop, a local peak.
Tags: Easter, sunrise