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July 1, 2021

I spent much of today, marked “Canada Day” on my digital calendar, in deep thought. While I’m proud to be a Canadian, and very thankful to call this country home, what I have learned over past years about our history has given me pause. Facts that have been revealed, little by little, are now under glaring spotlights as the first of many dear and innocent children, buried at forced confinement institutions, are found.

This afternoon I finished my second reading of Invisible North: The Search for Answers on a Troubled Reserve by Alexandra Shimo. Shimo, a Toronto-based journalist, made a plan to spend several months living on the Kashechewan reserve to research a water problem. What resulted is part memoir, part history, as she, a non-Indigenous person, relates her first-hand experiences and insight into life there.

I highlighted as I read, and I’d like to share pieces of her book with you. Although long, what follows are just a few words that taught, shocked, and broke my heart. Putting myself in place of the people who must live with these injustices, I wonder what kind of person I would be if I’d experienced a fraction of what so many live with daily. I now must figure out how to become part of the solution.

” . . . from the nineteenth century onward, First Nations were confined to poverty in six ways. They were moved away from mineral wealth. They were displaced from natural resources including forest, lakes, and rivers. They had their land stolen through “theft” and “fraud”. They were stopped from establishing their own industries on traditional land. They were obstructed from opening other businesses. They were excluded from jobs off-reserve through racism.

“If you take away a community’s ability to generate resources, and then remove an individual’s ability to make money, then . . . you end up with the current situation of First Nations: racialized poverty. . . . Ninety-two of Canada’s one hundred poorest communities are Aboriginal, according to Statistics Canada.” Continue reading “July 1, 2021”

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It’s a Green Garlic Day.

I am very sad to say that I have profited by someone else’s misfortune.

Some locals may already follow my cousin’s daughter on her Reverie Farm IG account, as I do. I’ve enjoyed watching her business (on a farm between Markham and Stouffville, Ontario) grow and develop. Things appeared to be ticking along in fabulous fashion until . . . COVID. It kicked out the legs beneath lovely social events hosted on the farm — weddings and beautiful evening solstice meals — and that meant change and diversification.

At one point I watched a new bed of garlic being planted, and I anticipated the purchase of a nice stash to use over the winter. And then, a few days ago, there was a sad new post. Because of a problem I won’t get into here, the garlic wouldn’t grow to to maturity and she was offering green garlic for sale. I bought some. Continue reading “It’s a Green Garlic Day.”

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Friends, and neighbours, and John Deeres, oh my!

Today my husband and I did something that we we may not have done if we weren’t stuck at home every day of the week under Covid lock-down restrictions. Perhaps the lesson I should learn from this is to do more things even when I feel too busy, because as it turns out, I’m sure glad I didn’t miss today’s event.

C153C9E3-DF3D-4B25-B83A-D5206BF8B61D_4_5005_cLet me back up a few years. Few is a relative term in this story, but it feels not that long ago that I met John and his wife June. They were older than me, already having a couple of small children by the time I met them, but they welcomed me into their home as though they had known me forever. I was quite young then, perhaps eighteen or nineteen, and looking back, it seems a bit unusual that June and I would have become good friends, but we did. Her husband was busy building and running a large farming and grain-drying operation, but there was always time for his June. When he told me how much he loved her, and the special things he liked to do for her, it would embarrass me, but his words played out in real life, and it was obvious that June had a gem of a husband. Continue reading “Friends, and neighbours, and John Deeres, oh my!”

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When Did I Meet You?

I’m trying to remember when I met my mother. She met me on the day I was born, and we spent the next week together. Fathers weren’t welcome at deliveries then, so Dad dropped her off at the hospital and she went in and had her first baby. To top it all off, the world was in the midst of — wait for it — the Asian flu pandemic, a global pandemic of the influenza A virus. A vaccine was released a couple of weeks after my birth, and the rapid deployment of same helped contain the virus. All that to say, the hospital allowed no visitors, and because a birth meant a stay of nearly a week, poor homesick Mom was on her own with me. Naturally, I have no memory of this.

When I was born my mother met me, but I have been wracking my brain to remember when I met her. Technically, that first meeting was mutual, but is it truly a meeting if I can’t recall it? Photos tell me we spent formal time together, sitting with my father and with various grandparents in generational poses. In other pictures, disembodied hands bathe me and cradle me, and I sit in front of a Christmas tree. Parental folklore tells me we spent time together walking the circuit of a small upstairs apartment in the farmhouse where we lived: around the kitchen table, down the hall, around the living room, down the hall, and so on, and so on. Apparently I had colic, but I wonder if, even then, those endless, wide-awake hours were an early sign of FOMO. What might I be missing out on?

Continue reading “When Did I Meet You?”
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ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

I realize memories are fickle and unreliable, but I like mine a lot. It’s probably a sign of age, or more likely because there is little I need for Christmas, but I wish for these impossible things this year.

Phyllis and sister Linda.

1.              I wish my parents would go to Massey Hall in Toronto (what a grand-sounding name) to hear Handel’s Messiah again.

I want them to get dressed up after supper and go out, leaving us — with whom? I don’t remember, although having someone else stay with us was as unusual as our parents heading to the city at night.

What I do recall is crowding around Mom the next morning, anxious to hear the details of their evening out. She would tell us about Lois Marshall, the perennial soprano soloist, who sang like an angel, and my childish mind was in awe as Mom described her, always called by her first name, as if she were a friend. I imagined how beautiful she must have looked in her long gown, crossing the stage using crutches, because she’d once had polio. I’d never seen anyone use them and I was a bit envious.

When I was twenty, I performed The Messiah with a large choir, and whenever the soprano sang her solos I thought of Lois.

Continue reading “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS”
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Serendipitous

SERENDIPITY: Something lovely that one has not been looking for.


Last summer I had a lot of fun writing a short story, “My Tree of the Week”, and it appeared in The Star, a daily publication in Toronto, Ontario. It was a bit of a thrill to see my piece in the Saturday paper, but a greater delight was yet to come.

It’s fun when people comment on my blog posts, but the tree story generated a first. A note from someone I hadn’t seen in fifty years came to my inbox and I couldn’t have been more delighted.

I’m going to digress for a moment. Please bear with me. Continue reading “Serendipitous”

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Bragging On My Boy.

fullsizeoutput_2c4bCan I brag on my son for a bit? I’ve written about Andrew before: here, and here, and here. He certainly has his challenges, but he’s made huge strides since those stories were written, and I mean that quite literally.

Although he was in the Multiple Exceptionalities class in high school, Andrew joined the main stream cross country team. I can’t remember how or why that happened, but when I picked him up after the first practice he told me he’d run 5k. “What?” I exclaimed. “How often did you have to stop to catch your breath?” He looked at me like I was crazy. “I didn’t stop, Mom. The coach told us to run 5k, so I ran 5k. Some of the kids stopped but I just kept on going because I listened to the coach.” I was pretty impressed. Continue reading “Bragging On My Boy.”

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Best poutine EVER!

It’s a sunny Sunday in Ontario, and like everyone else I’m stuck at home during this COVID thing. I haven’t made sourdough bread or baked much of anything else, although many have. I’ve tried a few new recipes for dinner, but that’s about it.

Today, though, I had a craving for really good fries. And gravy. And, just for fun, yummy melty cheese.

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Continue reading “Best poutine EVER!”

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This COVID thing.

It’s Sunday March 22, 2020, and a lot has changed in the past week. In just seven days we’ve moved from hand-washing++, and social distancing, to “Wow! I sure hope this doesn’t get as bad as it is ‘over there'”, to realizing that it certainly could.

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Clinic Day.

I work in an ER and last week I spent bone-chilling hours outside in our hospital’s COVID Assessment Clinic. When people presented with symptoms or exposure risk I was disheartened by the number implying they wouldn’t take our advice to self isolate at home.

Inside, I’ve seen the mock situations, and real-time transportation of patients with suspected COVID — a parade of porters, security, and environmental services — accompanying the gurney. You can be sure there are way more on the way to the ICU. My stomach rolls when I think that our hospitals could be impacted like Italy’s are, and yet, that is entirely possible. Continue reading “This COVID thing.”

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COVID-19. Stay calm.

** NOTE: Written before masks were mandated. **

I know these words aren’t going to change anything, but they have to come out.

I needed a few things from the store today, and because I had a bit of cabin fever (non-COVID-19 variety) I hopped in the car and drove to our small town of Uxbridge.

The first stop was at my favourite small green-grocer’s where business is usually brisk but never overwhelming. But today — holy no parking spaces, Batman! — it was crazy. Carts were FULL of fresh fruits and veg, and aisles so crowded there was hardly a way to get through. I grabbed my few items, and then, wondering if I was a bit nuts, headed over to Walmart. Continue reading “COVID-19. Stay calm.”