Friday, April 30, 2010

"A Trip to the Farm"

Second year University French was mandatory in the premed class at Manitoba. I entered second year with one previous high school year of French background. It soon became apparent that I was way out of my depth and destined for disaster! Most of the class was from St. Boniface and were doing the course to refine their own working language, and to belong to the French Club which met regularly. I was sitting with a senior student in the cafeteria and must have had a doleful look as I ate my bag lunch. I shared my dilemma with him, as my cause seemed hopeless at that stage. I saw no way out. He listened to my tale of woe, my putative career gradually eroding away, failure looming large. "Hey listen", he said," If you get out the old final exams in French for the last ten years you will see that there is always 50% of the mark for an essay in French. They give you a choice of topics and if you write an essay on "a trip to the farm" it'll apply to most of the topic choices." I received a glimmer of hope from my rescuer, but I'm sure I looked dubious. However, what that sage said was true! The topic choices in the exam papers I reviewed included, An Exciting Experience (a trip to the farm), What You Did Last Summer (a trip to the farm), An Enjoyable Trip (a trip to the farm). This was a straw I was willing to grasp. Before the examinations I carefully crafted a French essay, letter perfect , accent perfect, on "a trip to the farm". Sure enough, the Angel I met at lunch over my bologna sandwich was right! My essay fit three out of the ten topic choices. I scraped through French with little to spare. I learned a lot though, that you don't always need talent to succeed if you have a will and a way out . P.P.D. (Persistence Pays Dividends).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


We certainly speak to our animals, and see them as responding fellow creatures! It is well known that planters who are successful, speak to their plants as they nurture them,seeing the response as evidence of a mutual understanding. Findhorn became the modern Mecca of this movement. From the time of the Greeks,however, the interchangeable nature of man in both the animal and vegetable kingdoms was an undisputed fact, the assumption of the anthropomorphic metamorphosis of man and his fellow creatures. What about the minerals? I find myself speaking regularly to our freezer and rototiller and our cars amongst the other minerals we live with. I speak to them lovingly as creatures that might have a glimmering of understanding! Now, of course, this is to most, a piece of arrant foolishness, such as could be expected from an elderly eccentric gentleman, but I often see people talking to minerals such as I've described. Their lips are moving with the same obvious intensity as mine. Sometimes they appear to be cursing their mineral. That mineral is unlikely to respond to that kind of treatment. We have names that the pianist gave to our minerals that we drive. The Nissan Axess is called Blue Bottle and the Rav4 is called Green Dragon. We have clearly not fully humanized them, so this is limited anthropomorphizing. We only refer to them as animals. After all, we are all molecules in constant agitation so what's wrong with being a member of the animal, vegetable, mineral race and seeing only a few degrees of separation. The biggest drawback I can see to this idea, is the possible unwillingness of the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms to be anthropomorphized since Homo sapiens is continuing to mess things up.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Summer camp

Kemo kymo dera wah, mahee mahoe marumpside pommadiddle, soupfat periwinkle, niptom nipcat, singsong city won't you kymeoh? When I was 12 years old I was sent to Camp Waconda. I remember almost nothing of the two week experience of the camp, but I do remember that I hated camp. I think we were still in the mindset of Lord Baden-Powell and the Boy's Own Annual . I can't even remember if my little brother Ken was there or not, but he probably was. The only recollection I have of the camp was the nonsense verse that I learned, and has been with me for a lifetime. So far! What a curious thing is the mind! That one should have committed such a blather to one's soft wear, for life, but blanked out the memory of the unhappy period entirely. I have a vague memory of "pledging myself to thee" ( Camp Waconda), but I'm sure my fingers were crossed. This is not a criticism of the camp . How can you criticize what you can't remember? Some of us are not adaptable to camp life. I'm sure that I was a home boy and was accustomed to a life without much regulation. My parents allowed a great deal of freedom to us in those days and regimentation would have been anathema to us. I'm sure my mother thought camp would be good for me. It's not always possible to determine what is good for someone else, even as loving parents. All my children, however, benefited from my camp experience in that they all have full knowledge, and can recite, Kemo kymo at the drop of the hat.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dr. Flower

My mum and dad in retirement lived in a high rise rental unit for a number of years. There were a large number of units rented, almost exclusively by elderly people. My dad, in his heyday, had grown an abundant number of dahlias and gladiolus and missed the prospect of cut flowers always being available for their home. He spent half of his horticultural lifetime giving away flowers to all and sundry. It was his shtick! Since I am a chip off the old block I have grown dahlias for a number of years in some volume, here on Lotus Island. I grew gladiolus for a while as well but eventually quit because the deer eat the florets. They don't eat the leaves but what is a glad without flowers? The deer here may browse a little on some of the dahlias,but not much, and then the leaves only. If they are too persistent I give the plant a spray of Plantskyyd. I started taking dahlias to my parents at Lotus City once a week. Then, they had a few friends they asked me to bring some for as well. My donations were well received and soon most of the renters waited for me as I showed up at the same time every Wednesday . My "customer" base grew like wild fire. They called me Dr. Flower. I'm not sure that I liked the name. It sounds like Dr. Dolittle, or Mr. Rogers, not the image I necessarily wanted. However, the name stuck, so I had to wear it. In point of fact I loved the idea of dahlias spread throughout the block. No doubt there was some ego on my part. Nothing is fully clean. The love of color and beauty by older people in a concrete apartment made the gift giving a continuation of my dad's generosity. It was a boon to me as well because a few days later,the dahlia would have needed dead heading, so it was really little additional trouble. My dad died, my mother moved to a nursing home,my truck expired, and I ended my flower toting activity!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mother's boy

In 1952 I started university in Winnipeg. It was a big sacrifice for my parents at that time, inasmuch as I could not earn enough during the summer to meet all the expenses necessary. My dad was a railway station master in a small town and his income was about 350 dollars a month. Not a bad salary in those days. From January on, he sent me 125 dollars a month to tide me over 'til May when I started work again. One third of his gross income! It boggles the mind! I never thanked him enough in his lifetime! I think in retrospect I was a very callow youth. But I was a mother's boy. My interim university marks the first Christmas were abysmal. I failed everything! I put it down to culture shock. I promised at Christmas holidays to my parents that I would work harder at my studies. The first week back in Winnipeg, I went to a dance cabaret, Jack's Place on Pembina highway, with a new girl. We were dancing on the dance floor when along came the Roving Reporter. The radio station was playing the music from Jack's Place and the reporter was interviewing the patrons. Of course we had our "mickey " under the table and bought our mix from "Jack". It was a lot of fun and I had set aside my parents concerns. My mum and dad were sitting in the living room in the small town station at the same time, listening to the music from "Jack's Place", The reporter said, Here's a handsome fellow who looks like he's enjoying himself with a lovely girl. Let's talk to him ". My mother said ,at that moment, to my dad, "I bet that's Jim ". Now how in the world could a woman, 400 miles from Winnipeg, in a little prairie town, know that in a city of 500,000 people, that her son on the radio must be the "handsome one" . I confirmed her intuition by speaking to the reporter, pleased to be the center of attention. I loved my mummy and she loved me. Connectedness is a wonderful mystery!

The Scion

Grafting a shoot of a fine plant specimen to propagate it widely, or create a more hardy, altered shape or size makes sense. It's been done for years and horticulture as we know it could not exist without grafting. Down deep however, it still seems to me a manipulation of Mother Nature. It's a bit hypocritical on my part to say this, since my garden is, like everyone else's, full of grafted specimens. The nomenclature of the shoot as a "scion" must come from a particular past, when the promising offspring was "grafted" to a new setting. A successful take of such a graft in the case of "scion" would depend on accurate matching of the cambium layers, secure fixation for a period of time and avoiding contamination. Such careful attention to detail was not provided by the grafters and transplanters of the 17th and 18th century that sent excess populations to this shore. It was a higgledy- piggledly mix and included both the pianist's and my family of origin. There were no "scions" there! Some survived, some didn't. There was no matching of people to their cambium layer. There was no consideration of the right season to graft. There was no tight wrapping and waxing for fixation and protection from movement. There were no measures taken to avoid contamination. "Luck and pluck" were the governing principles of that transplantation and grafting. We tend to forget how much we owe our forebears. They are a national treasure, warts and all. Someone hopefully will emerge as the family librarian in each generation to retain history or herstory! Then we will augment the knowledge of who we are, by where we came from, and by what means we were grafted.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Antimacassar

I was once invited to the Lieutenant Governor"s for a state dinner with the president of Vorarlberg. I had never been to the Lieutenant Governor's before ,nor since, but at the time I and the pianist felt a little special, as if we had been singled out as "comers". In point of fact, when the truth came out, the dinner was a cast of one hundred and the content was a sprinkling of a middling mix of business, professional ,political and artistic without anyone particularly grand. We had a lot of fun. I, however, the several weeks in preparation, worried myself silly that I wasn't up on etiquette sufficiently to carry off this venture into society. I purchased Amy Vanderbilt's " Complete book of Etiquette" to teach myself a crash course in how to behave in heady company. I read the book from cover to cover assiduously! The book was written in 1952. It stated that a man should bathe at least once a week, and use a hair oil to groom himself well. The oil may have been macassar oil. Hence, of course, the need for the antimacassar. I think the penny dropped with me that even in the 1970's Amy's book was dated. I skipped her advice. The pianist found my panic stations somewhat amusing. My mother had antimacassars she inherited from my nanny, and she used them because in those days we applied Brylcream to our heads from time to time, only a little dab I believe, but enough to stain the back of the good chair or divan, without the antimacassar. There seems to be something elegant about a patterned crochet lace. We used to have some, as I recall, but the pianist ditched them when no one any longer had an oily head. We still use the lace doilies on the drink tray. The pianist is more practical and less affected than I am. Oh well! I have to look in the mirror and ask myself, "What kind of a man is interested in doilies?"

Friday, April 23, 2010

American prosody

An interesting contrast with our American friends is the ostensible passion they bestow upon their city states in song! I can't imagine a Canadian rhapsodizing about Edmonton or Winnipeg or Ottawa! What is it about us, that love our country, but tend to praise with a faint damn, rather than some corny, evocative, efflorescence? Maybe it's us at fault, not them. We sometimes, I think, wear our national heart, off our sleeve ,except for hockey. If it's down in New Orleans,or meeting in St. Louis, or dreaming of Galveston it seems to me Americans all want to be somewhere they aren't. If it's vagabond shoes in New York or flowers in the hair in San Francisco it seems to me they are looking for a change in life style. They are not sure where they are going but they want to know the way to San Jose, without it seems, much idea what they will do if they find the right direction and get there. Having said all that, we as Canadians, may be a charmless bunch, without the finer feelings the Americans seem to display about their homeland cities. Certainly the Irish and the Scots are full of musical blather about their bays and islands and their songs are incredibly evocative and passionate. I think we, as Canadians, are far too prosaic about our country. I don't include Newfoundlanders! I envy the passion of the songsters even if it is a bit of blarney! Would that we would let our hair down a little more, and push out our chest, stand a little straighter, and be proud of peace, order and good government and God keeping our land , even if it is a little colorless.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A neighbor from Hell

Bob, one of my colleagues, had a puckish sense of humor. He had a neighbor from Hell, who was also one of our colleagues. Bob's neighbor was a man who brooked no opinions or actions that deviated from his own self adulating point of view. When I first moved to Lotus City and appeared exhausted after a successful and difficult case, Bob's neighbor from Hell asked me if I thought I would ever, "amount to anything"? You get the idea! Thank God he was Bob's neighbor and not mine. The neighbor , whose name was George, had a very short trigger. He could supply ire, at will, in a nanosecond! As a result, the bolder amongst some of us, those with a mean streak, would play George like a trout after a dry fly, as he would always rise to the occasion. Hardly mature and seasoned behavior on anyone's part really, but understandable. Bob, at some point, acquired a dog, a black Labrador retriever. The dog was enormously friendly and liked to wander, and stand on it's hind legs, leaning with it's paws on George's fence, looking at him. George loathed Bob's dog! Bob, not one to restrain himself, or let the opportunity for ironic humor escape him, named his dog, George. He would of course call the dog repeatedly for all manner of reasons at all times of the day, saying " Here George,good boy! Good doggy George, bury doggy do do!" and so on! Of course George would act with fury, but impotent fury. It is not clear to me, who was the neighbor from Hell! Probably both, maybe all of us, the tantalized and the tantalizer, the obvious and the non obvious. It's easy, and wrong, to be more sympathetic to the cool and funny bully, than the overt, pejorative, crank!

Friday, April 16, 2010

boat coffee

When you are seriously fishing and running three lines on the troll, you are busy. The herring strip has to have the right action and be checked repeatedly for weed if the water is littered. The strip has to be changed regularly. The treble hooks have to be sharpened to hold a strike and the depth of your bait requires repeated changing in order to locate the level the salmon are at. Also, with the time for the tide change, and the Solunar Tables for bite times, these critical events dictate a further frenzy of activity to get the location right and a effective and straight run. Moreover, all the other boats are vying for what seems the best position, and scanning the horizon, looking to see who is catching fish, and where, and what gulls are showing a herring or bait ball being pushed to the surface by underlying fish. Steering through tide whirlpools and missing depth changes can lead to line tangles, loss of gear on the bottom, and loss of precious fishing time. How then, given this activity, is it possible to dovetail time for coffee? Boat coffee is the answer. In our family it was famous . Made with a kettle on the propane stove in the midst of this frenzy, water not necessarily quite boiled,poured in a plastic cup with instant coffee dashed in, sugar dashed in, and the white powdered peril added. Usually stirred with a screwdriver or pencil. The boat is always damp, so the coffee in the jar, the whitener and the sugar were always caked a bit, so have to be levered out with the screwdriver or the fish knife. You may find this hard to believe, but in the great scheme of things, boat coffee is delicious. The alternative was Chicken in a Mug. It's not really chicken and we didn't have a mug. The water was always just warm enough to mix the powder. It was a salty concoction of dubious chemical composition and was equally caked to a semi-hard concrete consistency in the jar. It's relationship to a chicken may be suspect. Nevertheless it was good on a cold winter morning on the bounding main and gave one a feeling of satisfaction and satiation. It just goes to show that it's not what you eat, but where you eat it, and with whom you eat, that really matters.

I wish I'd said

Yesterday, I was sitting on the bench in front of the grocery store reading a book of poetry, while waiting for the pianist. She was shopping and I don't relish tagging along while decisions are being made for which I have little expertise. As I sat in the sun, a young fellow came to the bench and began to stuff the groceries he bought into his backpack. He noted my book and asked, "Do you have any wisdom for me ?" I am always taken aback at questions out of the blue like this, but I probably shouldn't be. An old fellow sitting on a bench in the sun probably looks harmless and a good subject for a gentle kidding. I said something in reply that was completely banal and that was the end of it. We both smiled. I have since thought of what I could have said since every encounter we have, may or may not be ordained. If you believe there is even a chance of this, you might take it seriously. I could have joined the repartee in kind and said something like " A wet bird never flies at night!" ( Dick Shawn), or, "Don't shoot an albatross on the way to the tropics or the wind will die and so will all your crew!" Stuff like that is chatter however, and has no lasting power. Maybe I'm too serious but the best alternative is to answer a question with a question. You may say it's silly to answer a question with a question, but I say, "What's wrong with a question?" Something simple! "Welcome to Lotus Island. How are you enjoying it? Are you going to grace us with a stay for a few days?" A churlish question I could have made in reply would be," What do you think I am, a fortune cookie?" It's easy for me to be a smart aleck, but even if someone seems a bit patronizing, gentleness and interest will lead you down the right path. Competition sucks! I probably looked like one of the two old boys in the television advertisement for the trust company!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Evergreen Magnolia

Smack-dab right in the middle of our view of the Lotus Island harbor is our large Evergeen Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). It has been a fertile source of family interaction for years as to it's origin, utility, architecture, and status. Since it is a short, squat , wide monster, it looms large in the ensuing debates. It was bought as a pot plant for our former house, to sleep on a pool side deck. There is argument as to who bought it. My daughter and I think it was bought from K-Mart by her then boyfriend, to ingratiate himself to me in 1973. My brother thinks he bought it for me as a present for my birthday the same year! It lasted on the pool deck 'til 1980 and was growing out of two pot changes when we moved it to Lotus Island and planted it as a little shrub in front of the cottage. There it grew like Topsy and was eventually 20 feet high and a beautiful specimen, but was starting to interfere with the sea view. Moreover Lotus Island is not South Carolina, and the tree's summer blooms are sparse. Beautiful and fragrant, but sparse! Here, these are prized plants for the large glossy leaves. I remember clearly, one winter day, remarking to the pianist that we had the best specimen of Magnolia on Lotus Island. That night we had a heavy snowfall and the tree broke in half with the snow load. God punished me for my prideful remark! Broad leaved evergreens are a risk in snow load areas! There was serendipity however in this, as the view returned, much to the pleasure of the pianist. Since then I have trimmed, or had it trimmed, to maintain the view and it has become progressively more portly. The current controversy is, it is taking over the yard, it produces few flowers, and requires arduous trimming to maintain it's height. Moreover, it is now said to be a tree that is not a tree but rather a monster shrub. Despite this, I am adamant that it stay, since I have become even more attached, and can claim to have the fattest Magnolia on Lotus Island.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Bathtub

Lying stretched out in the bathtub with the jets in full bore and the water piping hot, sinking into the bubbling streams, is Heaven to one who grew up with the galvanized tub on Saturday night! The pink midriff where the hot water draws a line is submerged in the foam of the soap. Having the luxury of time, allows one to soak till the water cools and the finger skin goes white and wrinkled. One can lift his feet above the water line and watch his toes wiggle at his command. Slowly the thickened nails will soften in the long soak and allow the clippers to ease their way through the nails without effort. Lying in one's own water with the surrounding desquamate that you shed, plus hair, along with whatever dirt and sweat you provide, is a small price to pay for the luxury of whole body immersion and whole body jiggling. My friend John says the definition of a gentlemen is someone who gets out of the bathtub to pee. Undoubtedly true! Someone else may say, "I'm going to have a fast shower". That person is a person on the go. It's no nonsense cleansing. With showering all the dirt and desquamate immediately go down the drain along with any thing else that can be named! It's almost too pristine. I don't judge those who shower, harshly, in any fashion, but it does not have the same cache as the long and voluptuous bath. Their fingers will not be white and wrinkly, their toenails will be hard, and their muscles will not be relaxed and softened. They won't have a rubber duck to watch float alongside and they can't make big bubbles. At the end of a long bath, when you have nowhere to rush to, there is a sense of serenity as you look in the mirror at your shiny face. If this typecasts me as a voluptuary, at my stage in life, I do not care. It's a simple form of indulgence!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A So-called Lawn

Pojar and Mackinnon, in their book, Plants of Coastal British Columbia, describe 200 different grasses in coastal B.C., Washington and Alaska, most of which are indigenous to the area. Today I cut my so-called lawn,composed of a variety of these grasses, for the second time this year. When we moved here in August 1979, the pianist and I inherited a meadow,amongst other contributions of Mother Nature. The meadow grasses were three to five feet tall and mighty impressive. Over the years I have mowed our meadow regularly,turning it into what has become a passable lawn, though not of the same nature as it's more civilized brethren from the seed store or turf farm. The multiplicity of grasses in the so-called lawn remind me a little of the grade 8 class at school. Some short, some tall, some plump, some skinny and pimply but all quite beautiful and growing at different rates. Because of that characteristic, to give it a semblance of lawn, it must be cut regularly or it looks dreadfully thatchy. By close mowing over time there is a population shift to the finer blade varieties. I have also, over time, planted store bought seeds in some areas that I secondarily converted to grass. It of course grows evenly and looks well, even if one misses the occasional cut.In time however, the sown lawn and the so-called lawn do begin to resemble one another, much like two people such as the pianist and I, who have lived together for eons of time and are a product of the same living and ageing cohabits. I suppose if our lawns were in Lotus City I might feel a bit out of place, but here in boondock Heaven no one sees the lawn except those whom we choose to invite. I guess, in addition to putting your own stamp on a piece of ground, it's good to try to retain as much as possible, of the gift that Mother Nature has freely given.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Jigging for Herring

Jigging for herring with my children on the Tillicum bridge and the Bay street Bridge in Lotus City was an easy and productive activity in the 70's. The herring spawn in the spring was up the narrow ocean inlet called The Gorge. The Gorge narrowed at the Tillicum Bridge causing crowding of the herring on the way to spawn, heading into the Gorge Lagoon. A lovely spring afternoon with the jig dropped into the current and teased up and down was simple and effective. The tiny hooks were beautified by little yellow and red flies. The line was weighted by a small round lead weight at the end, to counteract the current and 5 to 7 tiny hooks spaced up the line. We were after bait for our salmon fishing activities and cut herring strips from the herring ,froze them, and then used the herring strips as bait fish. The strips were cut in the prescribed fashion to resemble a crippled herring when trolling. Apparently the salmon thought this an easy prey, though I confess, I was never privy to their thoughts. We were often crowded together with the Nordic bunch,mostly "old boys" who were jigging for herring to pickle, make rollmops and eat fresh and they were even keener than we were. Now there seem to be fewer herring around. I don't know if anybody jigs any longer on the Gorge bridges. It may be a thing of the past. The main use for herring these days seems to be obtaining roe from the spawning herring for the Asian market. Huge numbers are caught by seine netting including all the males, of course. It may be economically sound but it seems an awful waste of a species that is an integral part of the food chain . Moreover, also a food source for people of a certain European custom that made good use of the fish. Now they are just rendered after the roe is extracted from the females, or discarded. Oh well, progress I guess! The whole business seems less intimate and more wholesale now. The assembly line and the food chain are not the same: they just sound the same! One is a creation of man and the other of Mother Nature!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dahlia time

I pulled all the dahlias out from under the straw where they have been sleeping all winter. Even though it is warm enough on Lotus Island to winter them in the ground, our dirt is too wet in the winter since we are below the Hundred Hills and they will rot. They have done so in the past, when I was lazy one year. Why we always learn the hard way I never know. They came through with less than 3 percent rotting this year which is pretty good for me. I used to wash and dust them before storage but now just shove them, dirt and all ,under copious amounts of straw beneath a tarp. The bulbs are particularly nice and plump this year. Now I have to split them as they are compounded and multiply compounded. Quite the job. I also have to haul and compost the straw. I find it quite interesting that some named varieties of dahlia have dramatic propagation potential and some, chiefly the larger flowering types are much more feeble about bulb production. If I was a commercial grower I would care about that. Where else can you get 10 or 15 bulbs for 1, per annum with some varieties? I'd be a millionaire if I could do that with money. I like dahlias better than most flowering plants since they are user friendly, propagate like stink, and bloom all summer. The deer may browse a little but they do little damage to them. The slugs are voracious with dahlias but a few early morning rounds and tallying the count that you achieve cutting the slugs in half, will make them soon disappear. It's still pretty cold out, but I have some drier areas, and will take a chance on planting the ones that have sprouted. The sprouting bulbs have an innate intelligence I think. Normally, it's best to plant them when the Oak leaves are the size of squirrel's ears, but I have no Oak trees to check, though I have squirrels. They say we are to have a very warm April so I wish it would hurry up and come. A watched kettle never boils.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Houseplant Jungle.

I once grew a Monstera deliciosa that became, over time, so big that the aerial roots grew into our green shag rug and broached the floor boards.It leached out all the dye from the rug where it rooted. This was in the olden days when shag rugs were either "de rigueur" or the "cat's pajama's" which ever you prefer. Needless to say I was not popular with the pianist. The children and I had lugged this plant from the greenhouse to the living room annually in the spring for years, on a toboggan, since I repotted it into progressively larger and larger pots. Eventually, it became so heavy, we had to hammer two by fours in the pot, for 4 people to carry it. I must have been mad. I eventually was forced to give it to the Crystal Gardens in Lotus City ,then a Civic Arboretum.At least they sent a truck to pick it up, along with my obscenely large Bird of Paradise that I had also been "over the top" with. My failing is I cannot easily get rid of plants that I have harbored for years, but no longer fit, but where? I have not learned my lesson and now struggle with a 30 year old Rubber Tree (Fiscus elastica) that is 20 feet tall and has started to become unruly and leaf burned on top due to its proximity to a skylight. If I prune it, it leaks white rubber sap in great gushes and then develops a wild and crazy growth habit. When we were in Israel years ago at the church site of the Beatitudes, north of the Sea of Galilee, there was a Fiscus elastica planted by Mussolini to celebrate his conquering of Ethiopia in 1934, the year I was born. It was about 80 feet high. It was a beautiful tree despite the grotesque gesture of Mussolini. My house tree is long,lank and a victim of my own botanical hubris. It is not the plant's fault! The pianist is into African violets and Streptocarpus. That makes more sense for little old people.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Women's movement

Sadie Hawkins Day demise was one of the a signal events in the evolving feminist revolution. There is no longer any need or interest in Sadie Hawkins! It is a quaint piece of history that no modern woman would give any thought to. And yet, in 1952 when I was in university it was a big, big, big deal. People forget! When I started medical school in 1953 there were no women in my class of 65 students. Other year classes had maybe 1 or 2 women! Now at UBC the number of women outnumber the men in the medical school classes. There is a lot of talk in the past few years about breaking the glass ceiling. Now it's happening and is inevitable.
The question to ask here is not, is it fair,because it is obviously fair. The real question is, is there an advantage to mankind that this is happening? The answer to this is yes! I remember years ago a feature article in the Globe and Mail referring to the first woman CEO in Canada,working for a major Toronto hospital. The author must have had almost no capacity to think out of the box! I spent a lifetime working in hospitals from 1957 on, in which the CEO was a woman from their inception! Many Salvation Army hospitals had a female Brigadier, such as the Grace Hospital in Winnipeg. That is a CEO in name and in fact. There was no question who was boss. All the Catholic hospitals in Canada had a Mother Superior. That is a CEO in name, as in fact. There was no question about who was boss. When governments bought these hospitals from the religious orders for a dollar, the glass ceiling was built! So, what's the advantage for mankind? The feminine mind is generally willing, where conflict exists, to spend more time getting to consensus if it is possible! The male mind is less inclined to spend the same effort but will easily go to" majority rules". They say, "We're not going to waste any more time with this" . The female mind says "Consensus if necessary, but not necessarily consensus". There is a need for both! When will the churches wake up and acknowledge the same available strengths in leadership?