Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thinking Out Loud

There has been a lot of talk and media attention lately about bullying and it appears that most of it starts at school and continues on-line.

I did not experience bullying as a child. I kept my feelings to myself and was mindful of how I acted. I learned to fit in with the rest of the guys at the all-boys Catholic school I attended from primary to grade 12, all the while knowing that I was different from most of the boys in school.

However, I did experience it face-to-face as a teacher.......not as a witness but as a recipient.

For about four years while at a high school, I, along with a few other teachers, were pushed and bullied into leaving that school.

It was not because I was gay but because I thought 'outside the box' on a few things with which the administration couldn't cope. It was the same with the other teachers. Guess we were a real, or imagined, threat.

Funny thing, until this particular administration came to the school everything went very smoothly with two other administrations. 

It was the way in which our experience at the school  was turned into a nightmare by these people. All three were bullies, taking the lead from the head bully.

We were all adults and writing this now, some 13 years after I left the school, I can hardly believe that it could happen to anyone in our positions.

I truly feel that bullying is a systemic problem in our schools/society, one that is so entrenched that most don't notice it at all. It is accepted as the norm. And when one gets the occasional 'boss' taking the lead and getting away with it, one is left confused, discouraged, angry and stripped of any self-worth.

In my particular case I told the 'people downtown' that if I were to return to this particular school in the fall that I would go on sick leave indefinitely. They asked why and I told them the whole story.

Guess what? They were not surprised as they had a file filled to overflowing on this 'boss'. A lot of good that was to all the teachers that were bullied by this individual over the years.

Luckily for me I got a job for the next 11 years that enabled me to rebuild the lost self-esteem that was bullied out of me. I could list the things that I faced on a daily basis but not right now. 

Suffice it to say that when I hear about kids being bullied, particularly in school ,my heart goes out to them and I hope that they have someone that will see this happening and take the steps necessary to stop it.

The same is true with adults who are being bullied on a daily basis at the workplace. Who do they have to turn to? Will they lose their jobs? Maybe. If they are lucky like I was they will be able to move to another position away from the bully.

What's the solution? Well, I believe we all have to be part of the solution. We should not tolerate it anywhere.....even if we do not know the ones being bullied. Responsible adults could make the difference by 'stepping up' and taking a stand on this issue. And hopefully this persistent fixture in our society will disappear. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday's Gallery

As some of you may know we spend a lot of time at the beach.....any beach. And whilst walking along on the sand at the water's edge, I often come across what I call 'beach art'.

It is made by the tide, the wind, the rain, the heat of the sun and the chill of winter. Each day is like going to an 'opening' at some gallery......never knowing what to expect but always happy that you 'attended'.

Here are a few examples I found in PEI last week. All the soil and sand on the Island is a reddish terracotta colour.

    Reminded me of  a Georgia O`Keeffe work.

    Wind was whipping this piece of seaweed back and forth........almost like an artist`s brush.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Laughing Out Loud

This is Cathy Jones a comedian who lives here in Halifax. She is playing Mrs.Enid, one of many characters she plays on the CBC weekly comedy This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

I hope you enjoy her.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Contemplative Monday

My poems are great shouts of the joy that I feel and share; the deep passion that rocks and caresses and embraces me and all that is part of my world and my life."

The quote above is by Maxine Tynes, a local poet, teacher and colleague who died recently.  It is from her work 'Mirrors'. 

    Beach art

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday's Selection

On the way home from Prince Edward Island this week we heard this old folk song on the radio and began singing along not even knowing the words!

It is a 'catchy' tune that Bob Dylan originally wrote/sketched  in 1973 but it was never released till the Old Crow Medicine Show did so with their added lyrics years later. 

You just may be humming this for the rest of the day! Enjoy.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Retro Saturday

While in PEI last week it was recommended we 'try out' a diner in Charlottetown, the capital city. So we did and we were very happy that we did!

It is called Rufus and Rory's Finer Diner. After we found a very shaded spot for the car and Sophie, we headed in.

Much to my surprise it was jammed packed with retro items from the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's.

I had a ball snapping away and while I did the owner/manager, Chris Kenny, gave me the history of a few of the items.

For example, this straw hat belonged to the actor Maurice Chevalier. There was an auction in NYC and the owner's mother went and showed an interest in it and got it.

Then there was this 'push plate' that came from the NY Metropolitan Opera House.

The place had a few signs as well, especially this one that greeted you at the entrance.......good thing it wasn't the 60's or I'd have to use another door!

Of course the food was really good. Ron got the obligatory chocolate milkshake! Along with that he got baked beans and a salad with corn bread! The bread was great as were the beans.....I got those as well along with a classic burger.  And since I didn't get a milkshake a dessert was in order.....carrot cake! M-M-M!

The diner has been open for almost a year and I am sure that it will be a hit....if the decor and food are any indication.

I am sure the population of PEI triples in the summertime with tourists and the businesses must feel the pinch from the late fall till spring. 

I hope this place is still there next summer as we plan to sit at the 'fountain' the stools of which  were salvaged from an old shop in town.

    There's Chris up by the Pepsi sign.

Chris, the owner, mentioned that both his parents were born in PEI and as children they  moved to NYC unbeknownst to each other until they met a little later in their teens and got married.

Chris and his family stayed in NYC until he was about 9 or 10 when they moved back home to PEI and have been in the restaurant business ever since.

This diner is his latest venture and I wish him success!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Magical PEI

We got back Wednesday evening from a trip to PEI (Prince Edward Island). My sister, Marilyn, and her husband, Jim, invited us to their cottage for a few days. 

                             Marilyn and Jim.

                             Visitors add to this every year.
They arrived from Edmonton, Alberta in mid August and we missed there visit to Dad's as we were away in Cape Cod. So it was good to see them and spend some time with them on the Island.

Since they have two cottages side by side there was plenty of room for us all......they brought their dog,  Shelby, with them. She is a Border Collie. She and Sophie got along from the 'gitgo' .

Sophie spent the first day just watching Shelby in amazement I think. As you may know Border Collies love to retrieve! ALL THE TIME! Until they drop!

Sophie didn't quite know what to make of this dog dropping a ball in front of her, then circling her, lying flat on the ground........ behind her! But Sophie did catch on and chose to just take the ball away from Shelby and run away with it.

We had a blast watching these two critters do their 'dog thing'. Shelby is a sweet dog with a very gentle temperament. And with Sophie's, let me say, more assertive approach to life, they really complimented each other.

PEI is a special place. As soon as you cross the bridge or the ferry, you find yourself transported to another place in time.

When I was a kid my family would spent a couple of weeks in the summer there. I loved it then as I do now.

    Inukshuk found on the beach.
My mother's parents were both born on the eastern end of the Island. I am a little partial to this area as it is steeped with the family history of the MacDonald's and the MacIsaac's dating back to the 1700's.

My sister and her husband left on Monday and we stayed for a few more days. Thanks Marilyn and Jim, it was great to spend some time with you both!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Contemplative Monday

Last week a colleague and old acquaintance passed away. Her name is Maxine Tynes. I met Maxine back in the 60's......she was a close friend of my brother, Bernard. She was a teacher, activist, published writer and poet.

I worked with her at the local high school where she taught English Literature and she would always have one of 'my' students in her class who required some accommodations made to the course. 

She was always very sensitive to their needs and would bend over backgrounds to assist them any way she could.

I will miss the fact that I will not have a 'chance meeting' with her again. She was always so attentive and her eyes sparkled with interest whenever she was listening or talking with you.

Here is something she wrote which may give you an idea of the woman she was:


Women are always looking into mirrors, looking for a mirror to look into, or thinking about, regretting, sighing over or not quite believing what they’ve seen in the mirror.

We’re looking at ourselves; looking for ourselves. The girls we were, the women we are, and what we will become. Searching, always searching in mirrors.

For people of colour, for Black people, for this Black woman in particular, the search is the same, but different. We are constantly looking for who we are. So many of the signals have been lost, historically and culturally, along the way.

I’m (at least) a fourth generation Black Canadian woman, writer, poet, broadcast journalist, teacher, performance artist. But as soon as I say something in print or otherwise about my Black past I have to qualify it; because we as a people have lost many tangible, documented traces of who we are.

I cannot possibly say to you that I am a woman descendent from the people of the plains – the Serengeti, of Kenya, of Ghana, the Gambia or of Zaire – the heartland. I can only look to the vast expanse of Africa, that black mother continent, and say, that is who and what and where I am.

For me, a Black woman four generations hence on these shores, that is a lament into the mirror of the map of that place. Africa.

Or, I can, as I sometimes do, look into my mother’s face. And seeing she has the high, proud nose of North Africa, I wonder about the where – the valley, the tribal name, the kinship and origins I will never know. That, too, is a lament.

Then, as I often do, I look into my poet’s soul to find there the route to self and personhood, both Black and female. That looking is not a lament but the greatest of joys.

My poems, my poetry are like mirrors reflecting back in great or subtle beams and shafts of light and words and images that are womanly and Black and brown and tan and full of the joy and pride in femaleness and in Black womanhood that I am.

My poems are great shouts of the joy that I feel and share; the deep passion that rocks and caresses and embraces me and all that is part of my world and my life. The laments for lost heritage are there; but, then, so are the feelings of having found a centre and a self-acceptance and an identity in this Black and woman’s skin that I so joyfully wear.
I wear it joyfully. I wear it big. I wear it womanly. And I wear it Black. Black. Black. As night, deep and soft and endless with no moon. Just black and perfect splendour in life and in being a woman in this world.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse - Body And Soul

Today's selection is sung by two still with us and one not.
This was just released this week. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Retro Saturday

I got the cute Fenton vase you see above on the left from a fellow bloger......Christine from I'm not old, I'm Vintage fame!

 I entered a give-away she had last month and low and behold I won! You know the amazing thing? It arrived all the way from Mississippi (love spelling that word!) IN ONE PIECE!

Christine is the QUEEN of vintage in my books! She knows her stuff.....especially anything  having to do with Fenton Glass and jewelry

Check her out yourself at: Vintage Christine

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thinking Out Loud

One thing Ron and I had noticed while we were on vacation in Cape Cod this summer, was that a lot of people of all ages were walking around with their heads looking downward at the ground.

Whole families were doing this as they were walking down the street with their hands cupped and thumbs moving up and down continuously!

Of course you know what they were doing.........using their 'smart phones'.

When we got back to Halifax we noticed pretty much the same thing here but in proportion to our population.

Now, there is nothing wrong with this behavior and to be honest I find these 'phones' very intriguing and if I had a need for one I would probably have one.

Being the 'thinker' that I am I can't but wonder what effects this preoccupation/habit/addiction will have on our society. Being 'connected' and distracted like this may certainly change one's comfort with being alone and 'on their own'.

I think it's very important to spend time with yourself  and be 'disconnected' from everything......on a regular basis.

What do you think? Are we going to become a society with crooked necks and never to look up again?

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