at the train station

 

The five year old whose dad says “Stay here, I’ll be back in a minute,”  and leaves his kid kneeling on a bench surrounded by backpacks and bags and the kid stares in the direction of the washrooms like a puppy until he comes back.
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The teenage boys who fist pump goodbye like it’s nothing. The face on the one that stays.

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The lads that take pictures with real cameras with real lenses.

dsc08769The three young women whose minds explode when they see each other. Their smiles.

 

discuss

 
Why did the green program start with blue boxes?

Why is the Canadian Tire logo a triangle?

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Why is men’s and boy’s clothing made to fit so much looser than girls’ and women’s?

And can someone please design a better bathing suit…

Why does no one know the name of the first person who survived going over Niagara Falls in a barrel?

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On the subject of  pink and blue:

“There’s one famous study showing that women treated the exact same babies differently depending on whether they were dressed in pink or blue. If the clothes were blue they assumed it was a boy, played more physical games with them and encouraged them to play with a squeaky hammer, whereas they would gently soothe the baby dressed in pink and choose a doll for them to play with.”   Valid point or bollocks?

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Why do we need three title options for women: Ms., Miss  and Mrs. and only one for men?

Why does *he* always drive?

What are there more of:  snowflakes, grains of sand or blades of grass?

Is the book always better than the novel? Examples?

How best to handle the guy in the next seat who doesn’t realize his ‘space’ is only as wide as his legs unspread… without turning it into a ‘thing’ that ruins your movie/play/flight/bus ride?

Why is there no Toddlers and Tiaras for boys?

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How do ducks keep their feet warm in winter?

Why is there no major religion where women are the leaders?

How is it possible for a work of literary fiction to be in such dire need of editing and still go on to win awards?

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If I’m right (as I most definitely am) and you’re right (as you most definitely are), who’s right?
 
 

tell me about your walk

 
Tell me the beautiful bits, things I might not see if I walked where you walk.

dsc08625_1 Because we need to see beauty more than ever.

More than ever.

And through the eyes of each other.

dsc08623So tell me about a poem that came to you one day as you looked at this scene or that one and how it made you go home and count your blessings.

dsc08642And how this tree or that corner or this bench makes you remember a friend and a conversation about bread.

dsc08650Tell me about trees taken down with saws and others taken down with teeth. And tell me: where is the dam?  (Also:  where is a naturalist when you need one to explain where is the dam?)

dsc08629dsc08648 dsc08635Tell me about the sound of birds you can’t see and about a loved one who is flying across the ocean at this very moment, homeward.

dsc08622_1dsc08661Tell me about the litter you pick up or don’t pick up and about the bike you once found abandoned in the woods just there and how you wonder where abandoned bikes go… and why ducks’ feet don’t get cold.

dsc08652 dsc08638 Tell me about the neighbourhood stray.

How he appeared at the window one day when your cat was sitting on the sill and they both nearly scared each other to death and how neither of them have gone anywhere near that window since.

dsc08659Tell me about the brim of your hat and how you tilt it upwards because you want to let every drop of vitamin D into your eyes.

And the splash of red you see in a bush, which you assume is another Timmy’s cup and when you get closer you see that it’s not litter but a bird.

dsc08654Tell me about the man doing tai chi in the park and how you’re grateful for all the goodness he’s putting into the air. And how in the very same park someone left a hoover and a giant bag of household garbage.

dsc08657dsc08627Tell me why you walk.

dsc08651Tell me it’s to clear your mind, to remind yourself there’s more than madness in the world. Tell me it helps you see that despite all the anger, fear and hate, there’s no value in anger, fear or hate because that’s not how things work, that’s not the essence of what we are.

Despite all appearances, that’s not the essence of what we are.

Tell me you walk to refuel because refueling is necessary… because this isn’t a time for idleness.

Tell me you walk because there is so much beauty.

And so much work to do.

how it won’t work

 
It won’t work if it’s done only when it’s done en masse.

Or when the beautiful momentum of hundreds of thousands gives it credibility and air time. As powerful and important as that is.

It won’t work if we stop when the cameras stop and the journalists go home and we’re left with our own small lives and make the mistake of thinking what can I do… me… one tiny person?

It won’t work if after stretching to this extraordinary moment of pink power we let the elastic snap back into complacency and start supporting what’s easy instead of what’s right.

Pink is no longer a colour.

It’s an attitude.

Reclaimed at last from the retail aisles and Barbie accessories. Let it stand instead for kindness, equality, respect, truth. Let’s accept nothing less. And let’s find creative and clever ways to live it every day in our own small lives.

Also, let’s remember that however important it is, it’s not the only colour.
But maybe, just maybe… it can lead the way.

Equality. Kindness. Truth. Respect. Across the board.

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the teachers are leaving… i hope we’ve been paying attention

 

I’m thinking of so many teachers on a morning when we woke to find we’d lost one of our best, one who taught through music and poetry, such gentle lessons… the kind that change us in ways that allow us to find the strength to build and change our world with compassion.

Have we made notes? Because it’s up to us now.

And I’m thinking about those who fought against the *isms* … Oh, to find a way of fighting without harming. Maybe that’s the hardest fight of all.

dsc07670It’s not much, but I went out onto the main street of our tiny downtown and watched those men and women march to the cenotaph. Each year there are fewer gray heads but those still there always have the same look in their faces, their eyes…

dsc07680I’m not a fan of war (are there fans of war?). Or even the military. That’s not what I’m paying respect to.

At least not directly.

I’m there for the individuals, not the machine.

I’m there for the same reason I once stood at the side of the 401 while the car carrying the body of a boy home from Afghanistan passed and the crowd of people went silent and a mother and a father were somewhere doing god only knows what mothers and fathers do at times like that.

It’s not about condoning why people die, it’s about not being able to pretend they don’t.

And so every year since this one I try to make it to the parade and stand in silence, together with neighbours I don’t know, all of us there for probably very similar and yet different reasons.

Does it matter that there are different reasons?

dsc07667 dsc07668 dsc07666 dsc07675However you look at it, it’s a sweet thing in a fleeting way.

**

Bonus: on the way back to my car this beautiful old man in a don’t-hit-me fluorescent vest, said hello in that way the very old have perfected as an art. One of those things we might have made better notes of… how to greet the neighbours we don’t know.

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**

The Gift,

by Leonard Cohen

You tell me that silence
is nearer to peace than poems
but if for my gift
I brought you silence
(for I know silence)
you would say
This is not silence
this is another poem
and you would hand it back to me.

words

dsc07819On this traditionally wordless day at Matilda, may I suggest that today we use our words. And use them kindly.

Forget the anger. It buys nothing worth having.

No stamping of feet, no pointing of fingers… no giving the anger-mongers more fuel.

dsc07814Instead, let’s think of what we can do as individuals, as communities—let’s come together, even as the anger-mongers continue to flail about.

dsc07780-copy-copyThe bottom of the barrel isn’t always the worst thing… it’s often a necessary place to be so that we wake up, say enough, and begin to create the change we want to see. To be  that proverbial change we want to see.

dsc07835So despite the forever angry-ness of some… and maybe because  of the barrel’s bottom in our faces… let’s move forward rather than be discouraged… and let’s do it with the simplicity of kindness as our guide and our goal.

That’s all, just kindness. Pockets of kindness in the giant madness.

If only so we can breathe.

dsc07838It’s a novel idea, I know. Sappy and impossible some will say.

Still.

What can it hurt?

It’s a start.

dsc07809Kindness.

Spread the word.

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Elizabeth Yeoman

this is not a review: ‘what milly did’, by elise moser

 
Milly Zantow falls into the category of People You’ve Never Heard of Who Have Changed the World. In this case, the world of recycling. Because Milly Zantow is the person who created a tiny thing called the global recycling standard for plastic,  more commonly known as the-numbers-inside-those-little-triangles-on-your-water-bottles-and-stuff.

It’s what made plastic recycling possible.

But it’s the HOW this all came about that’s jaw dropping. What Milly Did  (a childrens’ book for all ages, including adults in my opinion) by Elise Moser, is an extraordinary story about a woman who, at age sixty or so, decides to do something about the growing problem of plastic in landfills.

9781554988938_1024x1024Turns out that plastic wasn’t recycled because no one thought it could be done.

Enter Milly, an ordinary woman, raised on a farm, who has no experience in anything even remotely related to anything to do with recycling but who just really believes that something can be done.

So she says pfffft  to the naysayers and starts reading about plastic; she studies it, takes courses, learns everything she can then cashes in her life insurance policy, buys a gigantic grinding machine and opens a company called E-Z Recycling where she and a few others do much of the grunt work by hand, seven days a week.

“She called the Borden Dairy Company in Milwaukee and asked them how they manufactured their plastic milk jugs. What did they do when they made a mistake? she asked. They told her they just melted the deformed jug down and reblew it. That was an ‘Aha!’ moment for Milly.”

Moser captures Milly’s spirit as a woman who is in no way ego driven. Nor is becoming rich her motivation; she simply wants to make sense of trash and to that end she does whatever she can to help people recycle, including establishing programs in nearby towns.

Eventually her vision catches on. Various community groups form, tipping fees for landfill sites are established and in 1988 her system for grading plastic is adopted by the Society of Plastics Industry, which means a standardized recycling practice across North America.

The story, of course, isn’t quite that simple. There are many hurdles along the way, people who laugh, who say that what she’s proposing is impossible, and then there are the times themselves, the 1970’s and early 80’s, which aren’t overly receptive, or even friendly, to the idea of recycling. Moser has done an excellent job of telling Milly’s story against this back drop of time and place.

A clever addition to the story are sidebars throughout the book, telling about bridges and boats made of plastic bottles, stats on current plastic usage and where it all goes, yo-yo trivia!, the ABCs of modern recycling, innovations in biodegradable plastic… all bite-sized, very readable for any age, and all to the accompaniment of sweet b&w illustrations by Scott Ritchie.

That this is such an unknown story is mind-boggling. I’m grateful to Elise Moser for telling it. It needs to be shared. I hope the book will find its ways to schools and to homes, not only as an eye-opener to an important piece of history, but to open at least two kinds of conversation… One,  about the problem of a planet full of garbage and, two, the power we have as individuals  to make the world better.

Finally, what maybe I love most about this story is what Milly didn’t  do… she didn’t complain, blame, whinge or whine or suggest that this problem to solve was someone else’s job… 

Or that the difficulties she faced were someone else’s fault.

She just got on with it.

The world could use more Milly.