Wednesday, August 30, 2006

much and little

I've almost finished reading Betty Smith's classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and it's got me thinking about the ideas of much and little, plenty and poor. Set in Brooklyn in the early 1900s the book is the story of a family trying to get by and trying to get better. Katie firmly believes that education will be the salvation of her children but at the critical moment you can't eat books and school has to wait, children have to go to work. It's an interesting discussion of the idea of much. Francie, the heroine, talks of "the luxury of being rich enough to waste" and I couldn't help but see the modern parallel in that. It's so easy to see someone who has more and think that I have little, why it is harder to see those who have less and realize that I have so much?

There's a Duke Ellington classic that sings about "Ain't got the change of a nickel . . . I ain't got nothing but the blues." I've known days when money is tight but I've never gone to bed hungry. If all my life I've known a full stomach, surely that's proof of much. It should be enough proof and proof of enough. There's been a lot of coverage of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast this week and how they are faring a year after Katrina. Vivid images of little and much. There has been so much money promised, but it seems so little delivered into the hands that need it. I was reading on a New Orleans news site yesterday that FEMA is getting ready to cut off rent assistance. People's homes are still unlivable, where are they expected to go? Everything they owned is gone and now the corner they've huddled in for a year is threatened. How little can little get?

I was also thinking this week of a photograph I saw in May 2002 of babies who had been born in the months since their fathers were killed on September 11th. It struck me that all of those kids will be starting school in the next few days. They have homes and schools and hospitals but no fathers. I'm not sure if that's little or much. I suppose it's both.

I think that I tend to think of "much" as a relative term, more adjective than noun, useful only in comparison. But in reality, much is more of a certainty, more solid. Much is much. It's what's in my kitchen cupboards, even if I don't feel that it's what's in my bank account. Much is what's worth celebrating, it's what I have to share, it is the reality of what I have received. I hope the much, and not little, will prove to be the better description of what I've given away.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

sunday afternoon salsa

Why is that you always find the coolest thing to do right at the end of summer? I remember growing up it seemed to happen every year. Just a day or two before school started and inspiration would hit for this amazing thing we could have been doing all summer. Maybe it was the proximity of school that sharpened our minds, or maybe that just made whatever it was taste better. It hasn't happened to me in years, but it happened again this past week-end.

Sunday afternoon RuthAnn and I headed down to Robson Square for Sunday Afternoon Salsa and it was amazing! For four hours salsa music blares through this crazy venue and couples dance like it's the world, not just the summer, that's ending. There was every age, every race and every skill level on display. So many difference faces and every single one of them was smiling. This was of course, the very last session of the summer. I hear plans are underway to do it again next year. I'll have to see if I can get me some moves by then.

Monday, August 21, 2006

contemplations in the moonlight

I found myself thinking about the moon the other day. The moon always gets a bad rap for having no light of its own. A celestial second-class citizen, standing by just reflecting. I remember a science teacher somewhere back in my school days scoffing that men of old thought the moon was a light source when really it's all second hand illumination. But I was wondering the other day if reflected light is really so bad?

Sure the sun is fantastic and powerful and creates its own light, but it occurred to me that you can't look at the sun. It's there and you feel its influence but you can only glimpse it from the corner of your eye. It's so bright, but you can't really see if for yourself. The moon is reflected light. It doesn't control the seasons but controls the tides and you can actually look at the moon. You can sit there gazing at it, contemplating it. It's not enough light to get a sunburn, but it's enough light on a clear night to find your way.

And I wonder if we're a little bit like that with God. God is huge and awesome and knowable but incomprehensible. He's too much for finite minds. Maybe we're a little bit like the moon -- reflections of a light that's not our own. I wonder if that was part of God's intent in making man in His own image, giving us a version of Himself that we could stand to look at, something we could begin to comprehend? I'm reminded of the story in the Old Testament when Moses is on the mountain and wants to see God and God basically tells him "if you saw me, you'd die". And so God hides Moses in a space in the rocks, and covers him as He walks by and even that barest brushing past is almost more than Moses can stand. Like staring right at the sun only so much worse.

I know that I am not God, I cannot manifest light of my own. But I can reflect it, on a clear night.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

happy thoughts and other thoughts

First the happy thoughts -- look at that face! I am seriously in love with his kid. Everyone should get to be an Auntie. The happy thought is that I got to spend the week-end with my whole family in Ontario. The other thoughts revolve around the reason for the trip. We went to Ontario to bury my Grandpa. Funerals always suck but you go through the motions. Stand, sit, shake hands, bow your head, pass the Kleenex. Try to combat the mind games in your head "there will never be another...." Time folds in strange places. As we stood to walk out of the memorial service Janie turned to me and said "You look like you could use this" and handed Corrina to me. She was right. Corrie was just the happy thought I needed.

I took about a bagillion pics of Corrina over the week-end. Turns out she likes my camera and in addition to the one above we got some great shots. You can see the short version on Flickr or if you're my Mom, or Corrina's Mom you can see all 71 shots (fair warning I haven't had a chance to edit these so they're raw).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

hello dear, how was your day?

Today was a very strange day. From unexpected packages to Indonesian poetry written in my honor (no I'm serious) it's been a very strange day indeed.

First the package. I'm an editor so people send me stuff from time to time. Most of it is books (whoo hoo!) Now if I could just convince that powers that be that we should run a book club on the site so publishers would start sending me fiction... I also receive samples. Sometimes it's really useful stuff like shampoo or band aids, other times CDs from lounge singers (yes really) or the most memorable of all -- a lightbulb filled with paper clips (I have no idea). Today I got in to work and there sitting right in the middle of my desk was a huge box containing . . . . . . home pregnancy tests.

Um, thanks. The box's contents were emblazoned across the package. I've been at a conference for a week so who knows how long this thing has been sitting on my desk. Let the rumours fly. Not exactly what I anticipatedsetting my latte down beside this morning. I currently have no need for such tests, even if this particular variety is digital and lights up in different colours. (Again I have no idea.) If it could be of use to you, let me know, I've got the hook-up.

Then a Dilbert from a few days ago got me thinking:

He uses schadenfreude in a cartoon, just one more reason to love Scott Adams. (PS, if it helps, schadenfreude is defined as " a malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortune of others.) The reason the cartoon got me thinking however was that there is another German word that refers to a general sadness over the state of the world. I couldn't remember what it was and it was driving me crazy. It sat there, niggling away at the back of my brain. Several attempts to Google it were unsuccessful (it does happen to me some times). We have dictionaries where you look up words to find definitions, why don't we have reverse dictionaries where you can search by definition to find a word? Fortunately, finally I hit upon an better phrasing of the question (editing is everything) and found the word:


How could I forget such a delicious word? I breathed a deep sigh of relief. And then the thing with the poetry happened.

Towards the end of the day, Leah, my co-worker (and friend) called over the cube wall, "hey Claire, there's an email you need to take a look at and I want to see your reaction when you do." Oh great, I thought. Usually I handle all of the upset reader email and things get handed over to me for bulldogging. If someone's waiting for a reaction it often means a particularly colourful wacko, I mean, valued reader, has decided to drop us a line. In a thousand years I could not have guessed at what this email held.

It turns out that one of our readers in Indonesia was doing some research and came across one of my articles and was inspired to write me a poem. It's an acrostic of my whole name and according to the email that came with it, it is supposed to be sung to the tune of Josh Groban's "You lift me up". Wow. And very cool.

I don't think anyone has ever written me a poem before. Years ago a friend of mine wrote me a song which was pretty amazing. If you ever gets your hands on a copy of Achilles' Lament, it's track 6 "I'll fly Away". I'm in the liner notes and everything. Sweet. But for Indonesian poetry, this was definitely a first. I have to admit I tried singing it in my head and I can't quite get the lyrics to scan. Maybe that part is getting lost in translation somewhat.

Like I said, it was a very strange day at the office. I think I'll work from home tomorrow.

Monday, August 07, 2006

i do not have two left feet

Photographic evidence to the contrary, I do not have two left feet. However, both Kendra and I are now sporting our traditional summer henna/mehndi body art. We had gone down to the Spirit of the Sea festival on Sunday and as hoped there were several artists on site. We were pretty happy with our results. As a side note, I learned that henna is the Arabic term and mehndi is the Hindi term. So there's your useful tidbit for the day :)

White Rock, as always, was gorgeous. This time they had festooned the pier with flags. All this time I thought the brackets were only used for the lights at Christmas but apparently not. If it were up to me I'd keep these flags up all year. I think they're lovely. Anyone know what the final three flags are? You'll probably have to click on the image to be able to see them clearly. They're blue and white patterns and maybe they're just there to be pretty but I wondered if there was something more to it.

After giving the henna some time to set we headed off to Dolce Gelato. Of course. The store was recently written up as the best gelato in Vancouver. Finally someone with a newspaper has spent some ink on what we've known for years. I tried to find the link to the article but it hasn't found its way into Google yet. Congrats to Davide and Elizabeth on a FANTASTIC job well done. I for one plan to continue doing all I can to keep you guys in business for many years to come.

iRevolution 2006

I spent the past week up at Whistler attending a staff conference. We did do more than just sit around and eat, but I only brought my camera out on the last night. Pics of plenary sessions are less interesting anyway. Trust me.