wimmen

 

———those who doubt,
———those who insist,
———those who sit at the steering wheel and cry,
———those who write on blackboards,
———those who fall asleep in the sun,
———those who wait to be served in their own language,
———those who have a radical change of attitude,
———those who have seen your face somewhere before and
frantically search their memory for the sound of your name,
———those who worry about the state of your health,
———those who turn up the volume as loud as it can go to
prepare for the confusing and unpleasant noise that will
surround them,
———those who can recognize in the grey sky the infallible
signs of an impending storm,
———those who place their head against your forehead to
try to track the movements of your thoughts or to transfer
information or, simply, to try to get close to your soul,
———those who stretch out their hands, imploring you to
help them up the steep slippery slopes they are preparing to
climb with or without you,
———those who go and get wine,
———those who do the shopping,
———those who make supper,
———those who move painfully, making their way slowly
and cautiously over icy sidewalks,
———those who turn around to make sure you haven’t
followed them with your eyes into their solitude,
———those who can’t get their keys to turn in the frozen
locks of their houses,
———those who touch up their lipstick,
———those who carry their shoes in plastic bags,
———those who never use a comb,
———those who cut their own hair,
———those who wipe the fog from their lenses,
———those who write their names in the sand,
———those who draw hearts and arrows or write risky
confessions in the dust and dirt that builds up on car bodies,
———those who use pointed objects to engrave graffiti into
the cold frost that thickens on the windows of their houses,
———those who insist on getting things out into the open,
———those who share a deep respect for each other,
———those who say yes with their eyes, offering the
troubling and genuine confession of their vulnerable bodies,
———those who leave flowers, love notes, flyers under the
windshield wipers of cars in the parking lots of shopping
malls,
———those who hold your face in their hands as if to drink
out of your mouth, as if from the source of an injury that
cannot be repaired by any other means but in this intimate
gesture, as distant as scripture and as moving as the sea,
———those who care deeply about making sure the world
is still and will always be a refuge of infinite warmth and
constant comfort…

~ From, Beatitudes, by Hermengilde Chiasson

That my choice for Int’l Women’s Day is an excerpt from a book by a man isn’t completely ironic. His were the words that came to mind today when what I wanted to address was the universal each other  of us,  not just those who travel in our circles, who share our concerns, but those with or without families, with or without homes or meaningful work, respect, love… with or without someone who cares if we have a cold, who will bring us soup.

The forgotten women as well as the remembered.

The fact is we’re more same than different… and, despite our differences in gender, culture, race, privilege (and other contributing factors to how life plays out) (and the need to address those factors of inequality…) we recognize each other.

And that’s no small thing.

But how to use the power of it?

Because it strikes me that maybe it’s a key ingredient to achieving all kinds of equality, and rather than giving so much energy to divisiveness, teams and sides, all those rules to argue over, which makes for such a slow and bumpy road, maybe we could focus on the reality that we ‘recognize’ each other.

But, yeah, how to use that reality… remains the question.

In the meantime, that a man wrote these passages feels somehow hopeful, makes the idea of recognizing each other seem more possible somehow.

In the meantime…

Happy International Women’s Day, to ‘us’ all…

 

 

 

 

 

the (anti) shopping list

 

Here is my not-quite-but-almost annual list for them wot don’t especially like ‘stuff’… Also, coincidentally, it’s a list of my favourite things to both give and receive… (note for those intent on giving:  the asterisked books? got ’em.
But I’m wide open for all the food items… leave baskets on the porch).

1.   Food. Any form. You can’t go wrong with cheese. If you live in the vicinity of Country Cheese… fill my stocking with the goat brie (coated in ash). It’s absolutely heaven sent, this stuff. Appropriate for the time of year, no?

2.   A book about  food. I’m mad for anything Laurie Colwin, also *The CanLit Foodbook  and most recently, *a Taste of Haida Gwaii,  by Susan Musgrave. And… Euell Gibbons’ Stalking the Wild Asparagus.  I can’t believe I don’t own this.

3.   Music by Laura Smith.

4.   Gift certificate to a garden centre. My choice would be Richter’s Herbs for the following reasons: the staff know things and are pleasant (this is no longer the case at all garden centres). The selection is amazing and mostly edible. They play classical music to the seedlings. (Also, and not insignificant, the route home goes right by my favourite place for pizza.)

5.   Gift certificate to my favourite place for pizza. (This is an excellent gift and comes with a good chance of being invited to share a slice.)

6.   If you have made anything pickled, I would welcome a jar. (FYI, I’m not much for jam.)

7.  Honey. Unpasteurized of course. Local please. Or a kombucha mother. And who would say no to a bag of Atlantic dulse???

8.  And because we can’t ever have enough… books, books and more books from across this literary land. One from each province/territory — mostly published this year:

YUKON — Ivan Coyote’s *Gender Failure (Arsenal Pulp Press) actually came out in 2014. So sue me.

NWT — Ramshackle: a Yellowknife Story,  by Alison McCreesh (Conundrum Press)  (this review by John Mutford sold me)

NUNAVUT — Made in Nunavut,  by Jack Hicks and Graham White (UBCPress) Because we could stand to know more about this part of the country.

BC — Please don’t think Amber Dawn’s *Where the Words End and My Body Begins  (Arsenal Pulp Press) is only for those in love with poetry. It’s for anyone who loves words. Trust me.

ALBERTA — Rumi and the Red Handbag  (Palimset Press), by Shawna Lemay.

SASKATCHEWAN — *The Education of Augie Merasty  (University of Regina Press), by Augie Merasty and David Carpenter.

MANITOBA — A writer new to me, Katherena Vermette. I want very much to read her North End Love SongsAlso the more recent The Seven Teachings  (Portage & Main Press, 2014/15).

ONTARIO — A Rewording Life,  a fabulous project by Sheryl Gordon to raise funds for the Alzheimers Society of Canada. 1,000 writers from across the country were each given a ‘word’, which they then returned in a sentence. Essentially, it’s an anthology of a thousand sentences. I’m proud to have been invited to join the fun. My word was ‘nettles’.

QUEBEC — Okay. This came out in 2013, not 2105, but I haven’t read it and have always meant to and now it’s long listed for Canada Reads. So it’s time. Bread and Bone  (House of Anansi), by Saleema Nawaz.

NEW BRUNSWICK — *Beatitudes  (Goose Lane Editions),  by Hermenegilde Chiasson. This was published years ago (2007) but I include it because it’s truly one of my favourite books ever and I don’t get to talk about it enough.

NOVA SCOTIA — *These Good Hands  (Cormorant), by Carol Bruneau.

PEI — *Our Lady of Steerage  (Nimbus Publishing), by Steven Mayoff.

NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR — Ditto the Canada Reads argument for Michael Crummey’s 2014 *Sweetland   from Doubleday.

9.  Donations to any number of good causes. And a few more ideas (some repetition, but also not). And this, recently discovered: The Native Women’s Association of Canada.

10.  The gift of art.

11.  The gift of lunch, or a walk, a phone call, an hour to really listen to someone who needs to be heard. A visit to a nursing home. A poem tucked into a card. An invitation, a freshly baked pie for the neighbour who could do with some cheering. The gift of letting someone give to us too. Margaret Visser wrote a wonderful book on that… The Gift of Thanks.

12. The gift of a promise kept.

13.  And never to be overlooked or forgotten: the gift of massage.

You’re welcome.

And thank you.

c’est us, n’est pas?

 
Heremenegilde Chiasson’s marvellous book,
Beatitudes, begins like this:

“those who raise their heads in astonishment at the raucous cry of birds,

those who await the end of twilight,

those who ceaselessly leaf through catalogues and order nothing from life,”

—and continues, in  incomplete single sentences of a few, or few hundred, words, leading us on and on to an (incomplete) image of ourselves: funny, sad, beautiful, unsettling, always true.

“those who are euphoric about the mystery of snow crystals, delicately carrying home their unique fragility on woollen mittens,”

“those who scribble graffiti on their bodies with lead pencils, engraving their story in the secret depths of their skin, scratching themselves until they bleed, making a lie of pen and paper,”

“those who pull off their gloves with their teeth,”

118 pages of ‘those’…

Who would have thought the universe was big enough, that there were so many nuances…needs…differences…samenesses…things that unite us, tell us who we think we are, who we don’t want to become, who we may already be.

This book is a celebration of what it is to be human, a meditation, and a mirror.