Monday, March 01, 2021

Poor resolution


Hey there,

So much for that resolution to write more. In my defence — not that anyone's asking — I've been writing in other areas of my life QUITE A LOT. So.

It's the first day of March. One sixth of the year is over. And I have listened at least once to approximately 44 percent of the music currently in my iTunes library.

So that's something, right?

À bientôt,



Saturday, January 16, 2021

But who's counting

 Hello again.

So much for resolutions, eh?

I did, however, want to record — for myself, if no one else — my music stats for this odd, odd year. 

At the end of the day on January 15, iTunes had played through 2,396 songs, which equals 6 days, 12 hours, 33 minutes, and 42 seconds (6:12:33:42). As of this morning, songs played more than 14 days ago are falling off the "Recently Played" list as usual. So.

Taken another way, iTunes has been playing close to twelve hours of music a day for the first two weeks of this year. 

And, for what it's worth, here's a little more breakdown: 2 songs have had 4 plays each; 15 songs have had 3 plays each; and 87 songs have had 2 plays each. 

So, there's some insight for you. I'll be back with more music stats in a couple of weeks. Until then, keep your eye on beauty.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

In review: 2020 in pictures

 Hello again! One of my many resolutions is to blog more regularly. Let's see how quickly this one goes sideways.

Until then, here are some photos from my phone. Tra la!

1. Just before the boom was lowered: This is from late February 2020, early morning at Allard Hall. We were hosting a Greater Edmonton Teachers' Convention event. I drank too much Monster Ultra.

2. Emily doesn't understand why the humans don't leave: Spring sometime. Time is basically meaningless at this point.

3. This is how we go to concerts now: But what a glorious concert it was! The first of several at-home with Sarah Slean events.

4. Beauty is all around if you look for it: And sometimes people bring beauty to you! Thanks, C and C's momma.

5. Roll to the end of the world: Or at least the edge of northeastern YEG. I did a lot of cycling in Summer 2020 — but now I regret every day that I didn't go out.

6. Sure is hot here: Edmonton is notoriously not a hot place, so I like to record the days — such as this one, August 18, 2020 — when the temperature cracks 30C.

7. Suddenly last summer: From the last week of August until Christmas Eve, school was relentlessly busy, but I did carve out time (see what I did there) for Hallowe'en. We even had a traditional tequila shot — on the porch, appropriately distanced.

8. Courtesy of Nik: Why, yes, I do wear a skirt when I ride my bicycle. Sometimes. This was a gorgeous Saturday at the end of September. We had coffee and went for a long walk.

After October there are few photos in my phone. Maybe there will be more events worth photographing in 2021. One can only hope.


Friday, January 01, 2021

Back at ya, 2020

Well, so that was that. Even after more than nine months of working from home and living this muted life, every so often I am still caught off guard by the strangeness of how we live now. I miss actual people SO much. 


So let’s see how a global pandemic affected my consumption of cultural products, shall we.



The year in music

Not commuting to work really changed my listening habits. By year’s end I had listened to dozens of albums more than five times through — some more than ten times through. My top-played songs were played much less frequently than in past years, but nearly 2,000 of the tracks in iTunes had been played at least 10 times, and for the first time ever, I ended the year with fewer than 1,000 songs unplayed: only about 600 unplayed, in fact, of some 18,200 tracks in total. (That tally includes all the tracks tagged “Holiday” — more than 1,300 —which exacted quite a toll from the household at large.) 


I added almost 1,000 songs to my library this year. Much of that total came from re-ripping CDs I own that had been only partially ripped; the balance came from new purchases and free downloads. 


Top 25 plays

Jorge Luis Chacin, “Sueltala (J. Verner Total Dance RWK)”

Kate Bush, “Burning Bridge”

The Clash, “Know Your Rights”

Janelle Monáe, “Dance Apocalyptic”

Janelle Monáe, “Turntables”

The Dresden Dolls, “Girl Anachronism”

ABBA, “Take a Chance on Me”

Sonic Youth, “Superstar”

Air Supply, “Sweet Dreams”

Rise Against, “Savior”

Sheena Easton, “You Could Have Been with Me”

Prince, “17 Days”

Vopli Vidopliassova with Amarilyo, “Golubka”

Meg Myers, “Running Up That Hill”

Janelle Monáe, “Come Alive (War of the Roses)”

Haiku Hands, “Not About You”

The Killers, “The Man”

Knife Party, “Destroy Them with Lazers”

The Mowglis, “San Francisco”

Queen, “You’re My Best Friend”

Billie Eilish, “everything i wanted”

ABBA, “Summer Night City”

REO Speedwagon, “Keep on Loving You”

Queen, “Killer Queen”

Siouxsie and the Banshees, “This Wheel’s on Fire”


This year’s list certainly demonstrates some comfort listening, but also some attention to newer artists and genres. Many of the songs that had at least 20 plays this year reflected intentional listening for one of my research/writing projects and so perhaps will not be repeated. I guess we’ll see!



The year in books

One might think a pandemic would be an ideal time to catch up on one’s reading. Turns out, no. Not only were my days unbelievably long from mid March through Victoria Day; when my workload finally lessened, I found my brain broken and often incapable of sustaining more than fragmentary attention. Not an ideal trait in a scholar or an editor. 


Still, by the end of the year I had read 151 books. As in previous years, a good proportion of these books were middle-grade or young-adult titles, as I continue to teach and research in this genre.


Of the books I read in 2020,


• 109 were written by women

• 33 were written by men

• 9 were edited collections or written by multiple authors.


And I’ve adopted a new reading strategy, recommended by my pal Garry. Unless there is something urgent (and come on, what is actually urgent these days?), I try to spend about half an hour reading before I get out of bed in the morning. This decision has definitely made my days better AND increased my overall reading — so probably a habit to keep.



Oh, and television...

In other kinds of textual consumption, we didn’t get into binging on Netflix anymore than usual. We did bit by bit watch Schitt’s Creek, which, in the end, I adored, as well as The Great Canadian Baking Show, which I liked but didn’t love. We have started watching Letterkenny, Taskmaster, and QI, as well as picking through various panel shows and YouTube channels. Haven’t seen a movie in a theatre since December 2019, of course.




Well, that’s it for now. How did you fare last year? 


And happy new year! Here’s to something brighter and safer in 2021.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

More mangling


On the verge of the new year, here's another deranged erasure poem. Enjoy!




"What? Who?"


What child

                                                            is sleeping?

            Angels?                                   Sweet.

            ) her                 at                     peek (

This                 is                     the

                        guard               and

Ha ha,


Saturday, December 26, 2020

Not really the spirit

 I call this a deranged erasure poem.



"Em em em"



mourn in lonely exile

until ——




thine own                   


            give them victory




our spirits:

disperse the gloom

            and dark shadows

shall come



Make safe

                        the path to misery










Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Forty years later


People of a certain age remember the moment they heard President Kennedy had been assassinated or where they were as they watched the moon landing. People from a younger generation remember learning that Kurt Cobain was dead or that Princess Diana's car had been involved in a fatal accident in Paris.

I remember the night John Lennon was murdered. For me, that was the day the music died.

I'm not a huge Beatles fan, and I'm aware that John Lennon had his own demons (you may recall, wincing, that one of my favourite Beatles songs is "Run for Your Life"). Obviously I never met the man. But I mark December 8 this year, and every year, to mourn someone who added to the net joy in the world. To mourn that that mission was intentionally cut short by a deranged mind. To mourn someone who in some ways inspires me every day.

Today I am grateful that the world contained a John Lennon for even the short time it did. And I commit again to my personal mission to be a force for peace and good. Even in the darkest times. Music represents my rage against the darkness.

There is always light if we turn our eyes to it. Shine on, John. Shine bright.


Sunday, December 06, 2020

Got yer nose

Hey, folks. So here we are nine months into a pandemic, and at present the numbers and the trend are not good. Particularly when I live in a city with a mask mandate (as well as periodic reminders to maintain physical distance and wash hands regularly). 

After a few events of being out in public more than usual, I must issue this following warning.

Wear your mask. That means cover both your mouth and your nose.

Because today I am putting it out there. If I see your nose poking out uglily from the top of your mask and you're doing nothing about it ...

I might flick your nose!

That's it. Back to the advent countdown.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Hallowe'en roundup


It's November and also Fall Reading Break at MacEwan. I'm making slow, cautious progress on various projects.

In the meantime, this is a post to record that we had 78 kids at our door for Hallowe'en. More than most people expected, and it was delightful to see people dressed up and smiling. Here are the communopoly pumpkins:

And best of all, there's still leftover candy to munch on.

Here's to getting through November.


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Thursday, six weeks later


This pandemic takes its toll, it does.

 Meanwhile, apparently my burlesque name is Le Le la Cookie. So there is that...

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Halfway check in

Greetings! For those celebrating, Happy Canada Day!

Today my iTunes records that I have 4,460 (out of 17,552) tracks unplayed. So I guess the lockdown has been good for something.

My reading isn't quite as advanced as my listening, but I've been enjoying lots of poetry lately. Also Miss Fisher mysteries (they were novels first!).

Wishing you happiness today and always. Today is a great day for practising gratitude.

Monday, June 15, 2020

This space left intentionally blank

In shock. Moments ago I learned my graduate supervisor and friend Dr Jerry Kachur died a few hours ago. What the actual.

Another reason 2020 can shove off now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Listing slightly

Hello! Welcome to May. Much like April, but with more sunlight.

List-based challenges are popular right now, and most of them are uninteresting to me. Then someone started the “30-Day Song Challenge” on Twitter, and that felt like something I could pursue. So here goes ...
A song you like with a colour in the title: “Purple Rain” by Prince and “Bitterblue” by Cat Stevens
A song you like with a number in the title: “17 Days” by Prince
A song that reminds you of summertime: “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful
A song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget: “Babe” by Styx
A song that needs to be played loud: “Girl Anachronism” by Dresden Dolls
A song that makes you want to dance: “Dance Apocalyptic” by Janelle Monae
A song to drive to: “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas
A song about drugs or alcohol: “Burn It to the Ground” by Nickelback
A song that makes you happy: “Burning Bridge” by Kate Bush
A song that makes you sad: “And So Is Love” by Kate Bush and “Hey Jupiter” by Tori Amos and “Empty Garden” by Elton John and ...
A song you never get tired of: “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen”
A song from your preteen years: “Mickey” by Toni Basil
A song you like from the 70s: “Whenever I Call You Friend” by Kenny Loggins with Stevie Nicks
A song you’d love to be played at your wedding: n/a
A song you like that’s a cover: “Hush” by Deep Purple
A song that’s a classic favourite: “Hey Jude” by the Beatles
A song you’d sing a duet with someone on karaoke: n/a
A song from the year you were born: “Hair” by the Cowsills and “These Eyes” by the Guess Who
A song that makes you think about life: “Suspended in Gaffa” by Kate Bush
A song that has many meanings to you: “Mad World” by Tears for Fears
A song you like with a person’s name in the title: “Marlene on the Wall” by Suzanne Vega
A song that moves you forward: “Never” by Heart
A song you think everybody should listen to: “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel
A song by a band you wish were still together: “This Wheel’s on Fire” by Siouxsie and the Banshees
A song you like by an artist no longer living: “I Got a Name” by Jim Croce
A song that makes you want to fall in love: “Sweet Dreams” by Air Supply
A song that breaks your heart: “Every Time I See Your Picture” by Luba
A song by an artist whose voice you love: “Blue Moon with Heartache” by Rosanne Cash
A song you remember from your childhood: “I’s the B’y”
A song that reminds you of yourself: “Music” by Cat Stevens
What you see here is one version of the challenge. In a different month, I would likely choose different songs. This version seems a little 80s heavy. I do like that many songs could fit into multiple categories.

What would your 30-Day Song Challenge include?

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Not long gone

Grades are due in a week and I'm struggling to get out of bed on any given morning, so what better time to start scanning some old old old scrapbook material? Exactly.

I found the image below in a folder of pages torn out from magazines in the early 1980s — magazines like 16 and Tiger Beat and People. This particular page is from Creem — remember that? Well.

I was trying to imagine where a page like this would be published in 2020. Surely we live in a kinder, less sexist time now. (Seriously! Read those image captions.) But B says no.

Anyway. Whether we're more enlightened or not now, this is an interesting artifact. Maybe I'll post some others. What's turned out to be most amusing about this project is not the pages I saved but their versos — all the ads from the 80s, prices, products, images, styles ... So. Much. Visual. Culture. And I have the soundtrack to support it.


Thursday, April 02, 2020

No fooling

Good morning!

The sun is rising gloriously despite an air temperature of minus twenty, so the world does in fact continue to turn. We will get through this together — although it is a kind of togetherness apart.

Anyway. You might have been waiting breathlessly to know how my music library was faring at the end of the first quarter of this bizarre year. Well, the bizarreness of the year has played to my advantage: I have listened to nearly half the tracks in my iTunes library so far. At midnight on 31 March, 9,861 tracks were unplayed (of 17,465). Listening to music for twelve hours a day means we go through a lot of tracks quickly.

Of course, some of those tracks have been played repeatedly, too, and the music in my Top 25 would surprise no one who has been paying attention over the years. Though maybe the lack of bus commuting and bicycling will eventually change that, too.

Back to your daily day now. And as John Irving urges us, keep passing the open windows.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Like forty years ago

Hello again,

Still procrastinating. Here's a photo from the very late 1970s, taken in my grandmother's kitchen in St. Albert.

I honestly wonder whether photos from the 1960s and 1970s (and later, I suppose) degrade with age. Or is it simply that my parents were truly terrible photo-takers? This photo lived on my mother's bulletin board in her kitchen for years.

Photographs are taking on an increasingly important place in my life as my memories became fainter and are overwritten by memories of memories and conversations about memories. In this image I can refresh my sense of that house, that era — details that feel scarce after so much time.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Marching forward

Hello again!

Just a quick update re stats because ... well, why not? And I'm procrastinating rather than proofreading.

Thanks to the extra day in February, I listened to a few dozen more songs yesterday and can now report that I have listened to almost one-third of the tracks in my iTunes library. So far I've played through about 5,150 songs. Of those, more than 500 have been played more than once. So, once again, statistically speaking, I am on the path to listening to all of my iTunes library before December. And yet history shows it's unlikely that will happen.

Anyway. The sun is returning and the sky is blue, so let us rejoice while we may.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Theatre Unseen


Last Friday night B and I went to see The Invisible, a play presented by Catalyst Theatre. It is a dramatization of untold stories about women saboteurs in World War Two — as a musical. Here's the set (we had excellent seats!):

I enjoyed this play. Heroism in World War Two tends to be masculinized; representations of women who fought back against the Nazis are exceeding rare. The story is serious but is told with light and localized touches, which made the play feel highly topical. I would see it again and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in women, the agents of ungentlemanly warfare, or musical theatre — but it closed in Edmonton last weekend.  Still, a lovely night out!

(And if this play's not for you, perhaps consider As You Like It, which is running on the Citadel's main stage right now...)

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Knew you were waiting

So, it's February and we've been through Groundhog's Day and the Superb Owl (lol) already. Whoops.

Well, without further delay, here's the information you've been waiting for: by the end of the January, I had played more than 2,800 songs in iTunes, putting me handily on the way toward listening to all my iTunes tracks by the end of the year. And yet somehow I suspect I won't. (I also added a few dozen songs to my library in January. Eeeks!)

My most-played track in January was "Know Your Rights" by the Clash. As they say, it's never too late to have a happy childhood. 

And incidentally, the duet I reference in the title of today's post is a sweet one. Go listen to it now!


Wednesday, January 01, 2020

With Renewed Clarity: 2019 in Review

Happy New Year! I hope that your final day of 2019 was bright and that you’re looking forward to a better year starting today. I know I am.

And now, without further ado, my annual review of books and music.

The Textual World
Without question, 2019 was the worst year I’ve had in reading since I’ve been keeping track — and possibly ever. If it were not for reading children’s novels for academic purposes, I doubt I would even have cracked one hundred books. As it is, my total is dismal: 116. Here’s the breakdown:

Books by women: 78
Books by men: 35
Mixed/Unstated: 3

For the first four months of the year, most of what I read was middle-grade or YA, in support of the seminar I was teaching. No seminar this term, and the publication I’ve been reviewing for since 2013 has shuttered, so who knows what I’ll read this year.

I read limited poetry but absolutely loved Kath MacLean’s Translating Air and Emilia Danielewska’s Paper Caskets. I continued to read anything John Scalzi published, and through his endorsement read Mary-Robinette Kowal’s Calculating Stars works — immensely satisfying SFF. I stumbled on a quirky cozy mystery series by Leigh Perry: preposterous in its premise, but spot on in its details about the life of contract faculty. The most unusual book I read was Bibliophile by Jane Mount, a book about loving books, embellished by art representing book spines. If you’re a bibliophile, it’s sure to speak to you.

Sadly, my own book was not printed in 2019 but should be available in the first quarter of 2020. Fingers crossed!

The Aural World
Well. After a second year of intentionally listening to music as albums rather than as singles, I can see some changes in my listening habits. All the dance classes I’m taking are also affecting what I listen to — as are sessions on the bike. But comfort listening still dominates my list. Unsurprising, given the year that was — and, more granularly, given my ongoing experience of bus commuting. Here are my top tracks:

“Not About You” - Haiku Hands
“Dance Apocalyptic” - Janelle Monáe
“Golubka” - Vopli Vidopliassova with Amarilyo
“Sueltala” - Jorge Luis Chacin
“You’re My Best Friend” - Queen
“Whenever, Wherever” - Shakira
“Wash and Set” - Leikeli47
“Burning Bridge” - Kate Bush
“I’m So Excited” - Pointer Sisters
“Voicemail for Jill” - Amanda Palmer
“Hot-n-Fun” - N.E.R.D (feat. Nelly Furtado)
“Take a Chance on Me” - ABBA
“Brand New Lover” - Dead or Alive [single edit]
“Sarah” - Sarah Slean
“Summer Night City” - ABBA
“Long Train Runnin’” - The Doobie Brothers
“An Everlasting Love” - Andy Gibb
“Hungry Like the Wolf” - Duran Duran
“Come Alive (War of the Roses)” - Janelle Monáe
“Dreams” - Brandi Carlile
“Samson” - Regina Spektor
“Sky Full of Song” - Florence and the Machine
“Salsa Caliente” - Grupo Bip
“Sweet Dreams” - Air Supply [album edit]
“Moderation” - Florence and the Machine
“Venus Fly” - Grimes with Janelle Monáe
“I’m Your Baby Tonight” - Whitney Houston
“Tiny Thing” - Jenson Interceptor
“Let Go the Line” - Max Webster
“Con Calma” - Daddy Yankee feat. Snow

Two shoutouts here: the glorious Janelle Monáe and the incomparable Amanda Palmer. You may recall that my birthday present last year was a pair of tickets to see AFP in concert while I was in Vancouver for Congress. I went with my research assistant and friend, Rebecca; it was a staggeringly impressive concert. I discovered Janelle Monáe in a more roundabout way but quickly embraced her — I played the Dirty Computer album all the way through twenty-six times. Expect to see more from both performers on future lists.

Meanwhile, in my ongoing quest toward completeness, I managed to play about 15,000 of some 17,250 tracks in my library, including every track tagged “Holiday” (meaning the household was subjected to A LOT of Christmas music this year). Just over 1900 tracks received at least five plays.

So that’s me. What caught your ears and eyes in 2019?

Once again, I wish you a brilliant, joy-seeking new year — and new decade. And here’s to fun with math!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

1980s Victoriana

Greetings! It's nearly time for my annual state of text consumption post, but before we get to that, here's a quick retrospectacle of me in Victoria.

1. Dallas Road/Strait of Juan de Fuca, August 1987

2. Tofino, August 1989 (with bonus sand cat!)

3. Beacon Hill Park, probably 1987

I'm looking at photos frequently lately. Maudlin? Not exactly. I prefer proactive.
More soon!

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Turning around

Last night B and I went to see Revolt, She Said. Revolt Again. A play by Alice Birch, it presents a series of vignettes about the way women experience the world of emotional labour, constant sexualization, gendered violence, and shaming. It was strikingly presented by Studio Theatre at the University of Alberta.

This image was taken as the lights came down at the opening. There was no intermission. The wings are open and, as you can see, there were no curtains. The actors could be seen in the wings changing costumes between one scene and the next, and as the audience was filing in, the actors were speaking, singing, chanting, and shouting. Quite avant-garde and provocative. I loved it! (And two of the set-change songs were by Amanda Palmer/Dresden Dolls — extra fun for me!)

It was not my intention to see this play on the thirtieth anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, but there it is. A fitting tribute to a day of remembrance. I'm so glad to have seen this play, and I hope many, many more people see it, talk about it, think about it — and act on those thoughts.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Time to roll this one out

When I defended my dissertation, I included a long quotation that I eventually began to regret including because it felt excessive. After the last few days, however, I think maybe it's not so excessive after all. Here it is:

[Alberta is] the noisiest province in English-speaking Canada. It is the tempestuous — and slightly smaller — brother or sister who is not going to be hushed, thank you very much. It has money in its pockets and it's going to make its opinions heard. If it loses the money, it's probably your fault. And it will get it back, and more, and you'll probably want some when that happens. Significantly, it will share its good fortune. It is headstrong but generous, and it does care about others in the family. And remember, it will pipe up, uninvited and unrepresentative though its message may be, so take with a grain of salt its claim to represent the entire West. (Gerald Friesen, "Defining the Prairies," 22)

Exceptionalism, huh. I love my province but not its cultural ideas.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Images of a simpler time

Canada has survived its election more or less intact. So there's that to be grateful for.

Meanwhile, here are some images of a simpler time.

The first is my grade three class photo. It's amusing how little I've changed.

The second was taken by my cousin Wendy. She took many pictures of my brother and me while she was doing a post-secondary credential in photography. I remember Wendy explaining why she preferred to take pictures of the snow after the school kids had walked, run, and played all over it.

The world was likely no more desperate then than it is now, but life through the eyes of a child was simpler. Perhaps I can hold on to some childlike gentleness today.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Looking around

Because I’ve been meaning to do so for a while, today I finally pulled out my cards. A classic spread without a question card. Beautifully balanced and absolutely fascinating.

1 (Querent): Queen of Swords: Cleverness. A woman of sadness. Happiness and great unhappiness.

2 (Immediate influences): 3 of Cups: Resolution. Comfort. Satisfaction.

3 (Goal/Desire): Ace of Wands: Adventure. A new experience. Creation.

4 (Foundation): 2 of Swords: Balance. Agreement. Harmony.

5 (Recent past): 5 of Wands: Struggle. Strife. Conflict.

6 (Future influence): Death: Drastic change. An ending or a new beginning. Abrupt departure.

7 (Attitude of questioner): King of Cups: Opportunity. Advancement. Aspiration to a new 
objective or challenge.

8 (Environment/Energies): Knight of Wands: Flight. Travel. Movement. Change of residence.

9 (Hopes and fears): 2 of Pentacles: Difficulty in new areas. Worry. Embarrassment.

10 (Outcome): 7 of Pentacles: Growth. Progress. Attainment (especially material).

Certainly lots here for me to think about. Later!


Saturday, July 06, 2019

Almost bookends

Hello again! Here are more artifacts from the recent purging in the garage. I am very, very happy to have them. I also found a piece of paper I've been missing, and worried was gone for good, for almost a decade. So I'm grateful for (infrequent) cleaning, purging, and consolidating.

These two photos form an almost bookending of my elementary school experience.

Photo one is of my grade two class. The teacher, Mrs. Campbell, was also half-time my teacher in grade one (and beginning when I was in grade three, our school's teacher librarian). The principal of my school didn't believe in letting students skip a grade, but acknowledged that I was a troublesome presence in grade one, with its focus on learning letters and reading. So I spent mornings with the grade twos, then returned to grade one for afternoons. In retrospect, it would have been better if I'd been allowed to skip completely into grade two, because being in grade two Language Arts a second time amplified my "troublesome" issues with "distracting other students." But at that point we had a different principal, one who was firmly against skipping (and lots of other things, as I discovered later). Still, I was OK with this, because Mrs. Campbell was my favourite teacher to that point. She let me write stories and poems and read A LOT when I was finished my seat work.

Fast forward to 1980....

Photo two is of my grade six class. The teacher, Mr. Beechey, was also part-time my teacher in grade five: he taught social studies and phys ed (and spent the rest of his time that year teaching grade two — we were the first class that was entirely his). I was still a trouble-maker and we still had the anti-skipping principal, and at this point I had basically given up any interest in learning, but school was still much better than home, so I made the best of it. (Not so much in grade seven: I skipped A LOT in grades eight and nine.)

I like the continuity between these photos, as well as the obvious (and the subtle) changes. With the exception of one person, I do not know where any of the other grade sixes ended up (but have heard numerous rumours).

As for me ... well, the less said ...

Thursday, July 04, 2019

One night in Vancouver

At the beginning of June, at the end of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, I had the absolute pleasure of attending an Amanda Palmer concert at the Chan Centre on the UBC campus. The tickets were "the best birthday present ever" and I have to say they lived up to their billing.

The concert started a few minutes after 7:30 and continued (with a short intermission) until 11:30. I was spellbound for all of it. She could have played for another hour or longer (except the venue wouldn't permit that). Wow! AFP delivers performance as art.

Amanda's current tour is organized the experience of abortion. As she explores this topic from a deeply personal perspective, she tells numerous stories about her life. One of the themes that emerges from her stories is radical empathy, or radical compassion. At one point she talked about the idea that there are people for whom our society argues we should not feel empathy or compassion. This point has resonated for me. I think our society is experiencing a crisis of empathy. And since we know how a loss of empathy can play out, from any number of events of the twentieth century, we need to take this crisis serious — or even just acknowledge that it's a crisis.

This concert impressed me on so many levels. I am grateful to have had the chance to attend it (and with my research assistant, Rebecca, as a bonus!). Amanda is not for everyone — but she is for me, and I am for her.

(Oh yeah, I tried to take actual photos of AFP, but with my phone they all turned out fuzzy. Ah well ...)

Monday, June 24, 2019

Photographic evidence

Hello again!

Another photographic post today, this one from almost forty years ago.

You likely know that my current academic research project involves exploring the adult lives of gifted girls. One of the dismaying findings in the research (and in the work of earlier researchers) is that most of our participants disavow their giftedness as adults. The reasons for this, in the research literature, at least, are complicated; but the sentiment itself makes me very sad.

Here, however, is a photograph of some gifted kids in late 1980. This was the enrichment class I attended one day a week. The year this photo was taken, the class was the largest it had ever been. Happily, I re-met a few of the students after junior high, although we lost touch again after high school (with the exception of Mark, who is now a Facebook friend). I particularly miss Jodie, whose education was supposed to end when she left high school; I hope that wasn't how things turned out for her, though.

Note that the class is fairly gender balanced and not completely white (although Edmonton overall was very, very white in 1980). There are also less visible markers of difference and inclusion in this group, which might contradict what earlier researchers have found about enrichment programming at large. Funding for this kind of education was eliminated in Alberta a few years later, and I am still grateful to have had several years of it. It made a positive difference for me.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Outtake from the Ship of Fools documentary

Hello again,

It seems I have more to say in the summer. Huh.

For all kinds of reasons, I feel particularly happy about finding this picture, which wasn't exactly misplaced but was effectively forgotten. This is my dad and me (with hair henna'd by Body Shop — I really miss those packets!) at Cox Bay, near Tofino, BC, in August 1989.

Please put good thoughts into the universe today.

L xo

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Outstanding in our field

My blog is more or less a collection of excuses for not writing. That's weirdly meta — but only inconsistently so.


The guys have been cleaning the garage in the process of building work spaces and storage. Many, many strange artifacts have been (re)discovered. This one is a picture of us in June or July 1998 in the Holes' garden in St. Albert.

Summer nights like this make winter in Alberta bearable. Looking forward to more of these soon — happy first full day of summer!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Rapid-fire Q&A

Howdy! In a magazine I encountered a rapid-fire interview format that I really liked. It could work as an icebreaker in adult education settings — if the participants are all women! Here are the questions, with my answers (in case they're not self-evident).

1. Walking or yoga? walking

2. Cats or dogs? cats, obvs

3. Coffee or cocktails? cocktails

4. Lipstick or smoky eye? smoky eye (but why not both?)

5. Jeans or dresses? dresses

These are a little too casual for a job interview, but could be pulled out in a crunch if you find yourself alone at a social event and dread making small talk. I'll have to try to remember this tactic myself!

What do you think? What questions would you replace, and with what alternatives?

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Hosanna Superstar

Greetings from Vancouver, where I am attending the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. My association's conference is over now, but I'm not leaving campus until tomorrow. That means I'll likely spend a good chunk of today at the book fair — and then tonight ... the Best Birthday Present!

But in the meantime, here's a picture from the play I attended the other night: Hosanna by Michel Tremblay. Although I've read several of Tremblay's other plays, I had not read this one. It's the story of Hosanna, aka Claude, who has been gravely socially embarrassed and who must confront the validity of his relationships and sense of self. The play is set in Montréal in the early 1970s and represents gay men's lives at the time.

This is a big script — although it's a two-hander, most of the work is done by Hosanna— and was well acted overall. I also liked the lighting and the spare set (which took advantage of the backstage and the audience space). Stephen Heatley, formerly of Edmonton, was the director: he has been the department head of Theatre and Film at UBC since 2015.

In brief, I'm happy I saw the play. And kudos to UBC and Congress for making admission free for Congress attendees.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

As May Day approaches

My estranged grandmother attempted to re-enter my life when I was about sixteen. At that time I was also very politically active, as was she, so we collided somewhat awkwardly at the May Day rally in 1987.

Unfortunately, almost every photo my grandmother ever took of me was awful, as the one below is. But still, I think it's time to post this one, because the issue of abortion is becoming central once again and I have not changed my stance. If anything, I am more radical in my views around reproductive freedom than I was then.

And so, here is a picture of me at seventeen that you have never seen. Today I am older, perhaps wiser, but also much readier to fight for these beliefs.

(Does this have anything to do with the last week of campaigning before the provincial election? Entirely everything.)

I wish had talked with my grandmother about her life, her politics, her involvement in the Slavic community — but we never overcame our estrangement. I am the poorer for it.