Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An Artful Question

This post can also be found at

This blog may not agree with some of you out there. I'm usually the kind of person who likes warm, fuzzy blogs, but today this one isn't going to be like that. So read on at your own peril.
Both the United States and Canada are facing national elections, but here in Canada, one of our issues is arts funding. I live near an excellent university and because of that, I have ample opportunity to enjoy their arts' programs. I love them.
In some ways, I, too, am an artist, a writer who is blessed enough to get paid for her work. But here in Canada, we have people saying more funding must go into our arts and culture program.
Stop a moment. We also have gun violence in Toronto, an Arctic in crisis, and the working poor whose children are going hungry. We have natives who struggle to survive, and a country with a wildly growing dependence on fossil fuels.
Canada also has a global conscience, seeing the poor of other countries, the oppressed and those suffering under terrorist regimes. Canada has a responsibility to support those countries who want to end the global crises.
How can I sit in a comfortable seat in an auditorium enjoying the arts when this is happening? How can I justify saying that my government should support these programs when the burden of helping our own Canadians and the poor around the world is so great?
Some people may say that this is our culture, to have quality music, fine visual arts, and incredible talent.
No. When our poor and our native populations and environment are in crisis, this becomes our culture.
Our culture is our poor, and oppressed, and how we deal with them.
How we deal with the less fortunate is the true measure of ourselves. How are we dealing with them? It's not just a nationally elected body's responsibility, but an individual responsibility, too. How am I helping the poor, the environment, our supply of fresh drinking water?
How are you? What are you, personally, doing to change the culture that has been thrust upon us in the world's eyes? What am I doing?
Let us be able to watch that symphonic band's newest recital with clear consciences.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

brutal, but good

Hey, I'm not talking about anything you shouldn't be thinking of, okay?

I'm talking about Mount Katahdin in Maine. Sure, it's only 5,000 feet or so, but it's brutal to climb. I read somewhere it was the most difficult climb east of the Rockies, and now, a week after the dirty deed, I can still fully agree.

I volunteered with my church's youth group. I'd been halfway up it once, and loved the view. And thinking like a brand new marathoner, I was thinking, hey, I can climb halfway, so the rest should be just as easy, right?

Take a look at the pic to the right. See those little people in the centre? Yup, they're people, and yup, those are the size of the boulders one must climb.

I'm not going to sugar coat this climb. It was brutal. It made me hurt. It pushed me to the absolute limit of my endurance. I suffer from a fear of heights and wear bifocals. Placing a foot down or climbing up on a rock at the top of a mountain where you can't judge its distance, and trusting the blue paint that says this is the way to go, is just something I don't do everyday.

But I did it.

And the trip down scared me. I couldn't see over the edge, and the boulders felt as though they were progressively getting bigger and bigger. My knees shook, and the only way I could confirm they'd hold me up was for me to lock them.

Our youth pastor, Robin, commiserated with me, and we encouraged each other to keep going. She ached as much as I did.

I must also mention the time I got my backside wedged between two enormous hunks of granite, and our trusty guide, AKA our senior pastor, Vernon, had long disappeared over the edge of the trail down to Chimney Pond. Only the fear of needing to be rescued was greater than the pain clamping down on my hips. Humiliation helped me unwedge myself.

We ran out of water, too. Thankfully, we discovered a massive wall of granite with clear spring water streaming from it. Makes one appreciate the basics of life, it does.

We made it down, all of us. By now, I'd twisted both ankles, bent back a finger and scraped my knees, but I was glad I did it.

And equally glad that Robin was thinking of a more benign summer trip next year. A walk around the swan pond, anyone?

Switching Gears to Gold Cream and Big Bang Theory

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