say their names

 

Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student

Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student

Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student

Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department

Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student

Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student

Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student

Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student

imageimage

It’s been 30 years.

Sadly, violence against women continues.

And, sadly, it’s probably up to women to do something about that.

“Let’s not pretend that being hopeful is an easy or straightforward pursuit. Hope can be a fracturing, even a traumatic thing to experience… Experiencing hope may bring oxygen to a stifled set of lungs, but hope also brings the realization that if something else is possible, then the stifling wasn’t necessary or inevitable. Experiencing hope means running the risk of a kind of crushing disappointment and agitated torpor… cruel optimism. So yes, it’s complicated to be a hopeful feminist killjoy, complicated and necessary.”

Notes from a Feminist Killjoy,  by Erin Wunker

 

 

 

this is not a review: ‘deep water passage’, by ann linnea

 

The first time I read Ann Linnea’s Deep Water Passage, I had never kayaked and was more interested in the idea of solitude and running away into the woods. Boats were incidental.

Since then I’ve become the owner of a boat named Lulabelle and spend summer mornings on a pond communing with swans and so have gained some enormous respect for the physical aspects of what Linnea must have experienced as she circumnavigated the entire coastline of Lake Superior… she was the first woman to do so. It took her 65 days.

A really lovely aspect of the book is that it was written before social media and cell phones and pictures of EVERYTHING and people setting out on adventures for the sole purpose of writing books about their adventures. Although that may well have been Linnea’s intention… it doesn’t come across that way.

There are NO pictures. Not one.

Often, people who undertake this kind of extraordinary challenge, do so because of something they need to work out in their personal life and Linnea is no exception. The inner journey becomes a subtle undercurrent to the stroke stroke stroke rhythm of the story, the thing that moves it forward.

The tension isn’t found simply in how she fights ten foot waves, wind, rain and cold, we know she survives it all, it’s more this other, inner quest, that begins to overshadow the physical hurdles, coming to her as an almost surprise, presenting her with questions and decisions she knows she needs to make about what she wants to return to and who she’ll be returning as. The questions come in forms she didn’t expect and one of her greatest worries is about her kids, that they won’t welcome a mother who is more herself.

“For six weeks the importance of truth-telling
had been hammered into me by the lake…
The message I [had for] my children was correct,
there was more I was supposed to learn.”

That said, and despite the feat of paddling a notoriously tough and unpredictable lake, it remains the kind of book where not much happens.

You really have to like inner reflection and weather.

Two of my favourite things.

There is also dampness, and aching wrists, sore bodies, the immense peace of cooking a simple meal over a fire, breathing deeply and sleeping under a sky chock full of stars.

By the end of the book it occurs to me that the real story is the one I read the first time. The one that doesn’t require understanding of how a paddle feels in your hands. The real story is the old story, the every-story, the timeless one we’re all writing our own version of… a personal story of the what’s it all about, alfie nature that anyone can relate to and a story that can be revealed and realized via any journey for the price of wanting it enough.

Lake Superior just happens to be Linnea’s blank page.

“There comes a time in our lives when we are
called to believe the unbelievable. If we allow ourselves
to believe, we open the door to the infinite possibility
of who we might become.”

 

 

squirrely

 

How is it possible the same brain that can make a nest from leaves and spit,
 


 

a nest that will stand up through snowstorms, rain, thunder, lightning and gale force winds, cannot seem to remember where it hides its nuts and berries and seeds and wotnots?
 


 

I’m wondering if it’s similar to the way someone who’s able to do complicated math… and understands highbrow philosophies
 


 

but is never sure whether to turn left or right when exiting a public bathroom…
 

 

 

wordless wednesday postcard

What did we do before google?

Who else in a the snap of a finger could tell us the history of why we call piggy banks piggy banks?

Turns out it comes from the word pygg, which (according to Wikipedia), “is an orange… clay commonly used during the Middle Ages as a cheap material for pots to store money, called pygg pots or pygg jars.”

Somewhere down the road the jars took on the shape of the animal.

I don’t remember ever having a piggy bank until a friend made me a pink one with gold wings in papier mache. I was an adult by then but I took pleasure filling the flying pink pig with coins. Then one day, I don’t know why, I gave it an appendectomy and took the contents to the bank.

I have the pig still, a gaping hole in its side (too sad to show in a pic) and still toss in loose change… but it’s so much easier now to get them out when I’m short for the pizza guy.

(Also… WHY ARE THERE SO MANY AT THE SALLY ANNE???)

Who gives away their piggy banks???

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Allison Howard
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

 

say the word

 

I just read this wonderful piece about seventh graders asking for tampons in their school and the powers that be who denied the request because of worries that the girls would “abuse the privilege”.

Because tampons are so useful for things other than menstruation. (Actually, I happen to know from an episode of Sex and the City that they can be used to staunch a nosebleed when cut in half lengthwise).

So the kids, instead of whinging and wailing

and crying about the unfairness of everything,

decided to bake cookies. Tampon cookies.

Which is lovely in its own self-evident way, but what got me even more than the cookies and the chutzpah is what someone in the article said about how things have changed, how once upon a time no one would have dared even SAY the word ‘tampon’. And when you think about that… I mean really think about it… it’s entirely mad. The silencing of what is so utterly normal.

Menstrual trivia: Not until 1985 did the word ‘period’ even appear in advertising, although, of course, many products were advertised (for ‘female conditions’ and ‘time of the month’ and other euphemisms. It was Courtney Cox who had the honours of finally outing the word in a TV ad for Tampax.

But for all the distance we’ve covered, we are STILL in this place where girls and women are made to feel a warped sense of taboo about their own bodies.

**

Two summers ago, in order to promote Gush, a book of essays, poetry, and stories about menstruation,  I sat at a little table on the sidewalk in downtown Uxbridge, outside the Blue Heron Book Shop, and chatted with passersby about menstrual memories. What were their stories? Etc.

It actually went brilliantly, as in PEOPLE (women mostly, but some men too, god bless them) WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS STUFF.

They just need to know it’s okay.

All that’s required is to normalize it. By saying the words. By asking the questions. By sharing stories that make us laugh and cry and want to change the world in tiny ways that are freeing. All of which toward the goal of changing things in bigger ways, as in, oh I don’t know… research into women’s health issues? which remain sadly underfunded and/or overlooked.

For starters.

Because we’re far from done with this subject.

(Slovenian graffiti in Ljubljana; courtesy of WikiCommons)

 

 

 

wordless wednesday (postcard to the past)

Dear Past,

Remember our favourite halloween (or anytime, EVER) costume?

The hobo? Remember?

Dad’s work pants and shirt, a pillow stuffed underneath to look like a chubby tummy, though why a homeless person would be characterized as chubby is a bit odd now, in retrospect. But then so much is. Odd.  In retrospect.

Mum’s kerchief bundled with something and tied onto a stick, which I carried over my shoulder.

I loved being a hobo.

But what I’ve learned since then is that I could easily have been taken for a tramp, or even a bum.

The difference, I’ve learned, is that a hobo is constantly on the move, working odd jobs along the way, while a tramp works ONLY when they have to, and a bum doesn’t work at all. The thing that unites them is that they’re all homeless. But the thing that makes them different again is that some of them are okay with that.

Or course as with any groups, no matter how bohemian, there are arguments among them as to which are superior.

The word ‘tramp’ comes from Middle English and means “to walk with heavy footsteps”, while ‘bum’ comes from the German bummeln, meaning to stroll about, doing not much of consequence. A low level kind of strolling.

No one knows for sure where the word ‘hobo’ comes from.

What I’ve discovered since I was that happy hobo for halloween, is that…

a) I continue to have tremendous respect for a certain bohemian way of life, especially one that includes occasionally working for one’s keep, and b) the band Supertramp took its name from the title of a book by William Henry Davies, a Welshman, who wrote The Autobiography of a Super Tramp in 1908.

Davies also wrote a poem called ‘Violet and Oak’, which I found a thousand years ago in an old schoolbook belonging to my sister. It was the first poem that I remember being in love with….  about a violet next to a fallen acorn and how that acorn grows into a tree and remembers “when [it was] weak and small [and its] sweetheart was a little violet in the grass.”

When I was that eight or nine or ten year old hobo I had no idea of any of this.

And yet…

…here we are.

Isn’t life just the craziest thing?

(oh, and p.s., Past… in 19somethingsomething we SAW Supertramp… remember???)

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Allison Howard
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

 

ducks. in a row.

 

I’ve been on page 9 of Ducks, Newburyport  for some days now.

Wading into the book innocently enough, it occurs to me fairly quickly (within nine pages) that

a) I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK, and

b) that reading it requires some clearing of the decks. Ducks in a row. ‘Planning’ in other words. This is not a book I want to read while alternating with other things, which is usually how I read, because I fear that such reading would mean missing the joy of total immersement.

 

Stream of consciousness requires consciousness.

Also, it is some merry trip being in this narrator’s head.

So on page nine of this essentially single sentence that continues for a thousand more pages, I stop reading, but only long enough to read what other drivel needs reading around here and to hide everything else, all those piles of magazines and papers and TBR stacks, until the house is now a more or less safe, no-distractions-from-Ducks zone.

Okay… deep breath.

Plug in the popcorn maker and throw a few logs on the fire… I’m going in.

If I don’t report back by xmas, send out the hounds.