Tag Archives: commentary

Thanksgiving

This past weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada, and I’m feeling grateful for just about everything.

Monday morning left me breathless with sheer wonder. After a few days of rain, the sky had cleared overnight and the temperature dropped to about 4°C. The rooftops sparkled with the kind of frost that is beautiful without doing any damage. The sun rose golden in an intense blue sky, and the air was an intoxicating cocktail of moist cedar and distant ocean.

While I sat wrapped in my warm blanket drinking my tea, I was treated to a symphony of birdsong; not the unrestrained chorus of spring, but the sweet and wistful melodies of fall.

Robins chirped and chuckled in the trees, gorging themselves on the last few berries. A finch sang a clear, note-perfect solo. Dozens of juncoes foraged busily on the ground only a few feet away, their tiny ‘chip’ noises interrupted only by the whir of their wings as they took flight to ride the crystal air like feathered rollercoasters. A Steller’s jay took proud ownership of the last few sunflower heads of the season, iridescent blue plumage glowing and crest saucily cocked.

As the sun rose higher, the rough armourplates of Douglas-fir bark transformed into a stunning study of warm light and deepest shadow. The melting frost trimmed every leaf with diamonds. The creek rushed in the background — not yet winter’s torrent, but singing again after its summer silence. The asters and chrysanthemums and rudbeckia glowed bright in the vivid green of the rhododendron garden.

And I sat in this beautiful place, marvelling; and comforted beyond measure.

These patient trees will stand for many of my lifetimes. These mountains were here millennia before me, and will remain for millennia after I’m gone. Compared to their ancient presence, my life is a tiny speck of existence, forgotten in an eyeblink. Nature endures, not only beyond human endurance, but beyond human comprehension. And for that, I am thankful.

I’m thankful to live in a safe home, in a safe country where I have clean air, clean water, abundant food, and health care.

I’m thankful for my husband. He is my rock, the man I can always count on to listen to me, laugh with me, and love me.

I’m thankful for family and friends who, whether we live provinces away or close together but separated by COVID restrictions, are nonetheless only a phone call away.

I’m thankful to be doing a career I love.

And I’m thankful for you, my wonderful readers — you make all my hours of work worthwhile.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Book 16 update: I’m on Chapter 21, nearly halfway done the book! There’s a killer in Silverside, and Blue Eddy has been hiding a murderous past…

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We’re All Naked

Ever since I had my giggle over the dick pic I found on the internet a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about nudity.  Yeah, welcome to my brain.  Sorry about that.

Due to the mysterious workings of the universe, last week I coincidentally discovered another instance of nudity that made me laugh myself silly(er).

I’m a Dr. Hook fan from away back.  ‘Waaaaay back in the 1970s.  Back when they were Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, doing raunch ‘n’ roll that bore no resemblance whatsoever to their later mainstream hits.

So I was tremendously amused to find an old video of the Hook boys shit-faced, stark naked, and performing some “blues”*Warning for those who missed the words “stark naked” in the previous sentence:  Although the nether regions of the video are (mostly) blanked out, this link is NOT SAFE FOR WORK… or any other place where someone might be offended by the sight of drunk naked guys improvising scatological lyrics.

Which, admittedly, may prove rather limiting.

However.

After I picked myself up off the floor and dried my tears of laughter, I started thinking.  Is it funnier because they’re naked?  Hell, yeah.  Imagine the same video with clothes.  Funny, but not as over-the-top hilarious.

Why do we humans arbitrarily designate certain areas of our bodies as “Not To Be Revealed”?  Why are those areas considered so offensive that you can get arrested for showing them?  And why do some of us laugh when the naughty bits get accidentally exposed, while others are horrified?  (Unless the bits in question are exposed in Art, in which case we all stand around nodding seriously and looking constipated.)

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the practical advantages to covering up.  Those probably became agonizingly apparent the first time primitive man tried to step over a thorn bush.

But how did ‘Ow!  I’m gonna wrap some mastodon hide around that’ become ‘Don’t show that or you’re going to jail’?

Who decided nudity was “obscene”?  After all, as Sam the Eagle points out in one of my favourite Muppets skits, we’re all naked.  And aside from minor variations in size, shape, and colour, it’s pretty much a case of ‘If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all’.

Maybe it’s because we humans are such perverse creatures.  Tell us we can’t have something, and we’ll immediately devote huge amounts of time and energy to obtaining it.

So maybe the simple fact that we usually keep our goodies covered makes it that much more fun (or shocking, depending on your attitude) to sneak a peek.  Though by logical extension, that would mean most Canadians should faint at the sight of any exposed skin, since we’re pretty much bundled up eight months out of the year.

I dunno.  I guess, like some grown-up version of the “telephone” game we used to play as kids, somehow the message got garbled from ‘You don’t usually see that’ to ‘You shouldn’t see that’.  It would be interesting to see how long it would take for our taboos to melt away if nudity was more widespread.

So you folks down in the tropics give it a try and let me know how it goes, okay?  ‘Cause it’s still winter here, and it’ll be at least three months before I get my first forbidden glimpse of naked arms.

* * *

Why does our society make such a big deal of nudity?  Why are naked marble sculptures considered “art” but naked magazine photos are considered “pornography”? 

Or, if you’re not so much into the philosophical discussion:  Have you been to a place where nudity is acceptable/expected?

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The Joy Of Mediocrity

As usual, I was dazzled by the Olympics.  So this may sound strange, but I’ve been thinking about the joys of mediocrity lately.

I’ve competed in archery off and on for quite a few years, and my skills are to the Olympics what a tricycle is to a 1966 Corvette Stingray with a 427 big-block.  I’m only good enough to get an inkling of the tremendous physical and mental preparation necessary for Olympic-level archery.

The thing is, there’s such a small margin between an Olympic gold medal and last place, we don’t really get a sense of perspective.  When all the competitors are world-class, missing by a fraction of an inch or a few hundredths of a second looks like failure.  Just for giggles, the IOC should invite a few ordinary weekend warriors to compete in the qualifying rounds of the Olympics.  You know, like a pro-am.  Then we’d understand how amazing even the last-place Olympic finishers are, compared to the average joe.

So hats off to the Olympians… but I’m celebrating “average” this week.

Mediocrity lands me square in the middle of the pack.  Even though I’m worse than half the field, I’m still better than the other half.  Nobody hates me for being too good or despises me for failing.  And when I don’t excel, hey, I’m just doing my part to make those top guys look good.

Excellence takes a hell of a lot of time and effort and commitment.  Mediocrity isn’t nearly as much work.  I love variety, so it’s far more fun for me to do lots of things more or less competently than to practice one thing long enough to do it perfectly (which probably explains my mistake-ridden piano playing and Bob-Ross-style oil painting).

And best of all, the phenomenon of illusory superiority kicks in at some point, too.  (Oversimplified definition:  If you’re not very good at something, you tend to think you’re better at it than you actually are.)

I’m not going to analyze that theory too closely because it might damage my happy illusions about my own competence.  I’m just going to say that with mediocrity, I can relax and enjoy.  If I end up winning, great.  If not?  Well, no surprise.  I get to have fun either way.  Granted, it sucks to end up in last place, but what the hell, somebody’s gotta come in last.

I realize this attitude makes me sound like a lazy slacker.  Don’t get me wrong, I do my best and I’m always trying to improve.  But “my best” means I work out 4 to 6 hours a week, not 4 to 6 hours a day.  I like having a life.

I have tremendous respect for the Olympic athletes.  Citius Altius Fortius is an admirable motto.  But ya know what?  “Good enough” is good enough for me.

Now, who wants to join me while I suck back a cold one and watch TSN?

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