Showing posts from December, 2020

Goodbye Hello

Just to the years. Not me. I'm still here. Goodbye to 2020. Hello to 2021. Here's a random photo, the earliest I downloaded in January last year. No, my name is not Beth, but that's what I tell people when they're making me fancy coffee drinks. It's easier to spell, nobody feels impatient or stupid, and I don't have to drink out of a cup meant for Marianne, Maureen, Maran, etc.  Ah, Beth, we could never have predicted 2020.  Let's do all we can to make 2021 a good year.  Think about the people whose work we've deemed "essential": caring for our health, and the health of our elders. Stocking grocery shelves and packing grocery orders, growing and harvesting and packaging food, driving the trucks that bring it closer to us, cooking it and  bringing it to our homes. Doing all of those same things for prescription drugs. Keeping networks and systems generally functioning so we can connect virtually.  We owe them so much. We can pay them back both i

The Necessary Perils of Credit

Is it an accident that two of my favourite books of the past year both address the concept of receiving or claiming credit? (No.) In If Sylvie Had Nine Lives , by Leona Theis, Sylvia wonders why there's no real way to get credit for all the things she manages to not shoplift.   And in Marina Endicott's The Difference (AKA The Voyage of the Morning Light ), Kay wishes that people could know just how many pieces of cake she has managed not to eat, how chubby she might have been. Sorry, I don't have page references for these ideas--you'll just have to read the whole books (you'll thank me later). My point here is this: in December of most years, I look at what I'd hoped to accomplish and see where I fell short. It's harder, in spite of all the urging from self-help self-care gurus, to think about what I did get done. I try--I even write a list every Friday of things that happened that week that I'm proud of. But it's easier to focus on the areas where

Black Lives Matter in Canada, Too

Last month, I showed a stack of books that constitutes part of my antiracism reading since June. I’ve written about How to Be An Antiracist most recently, here ; about Me and White Supremacy , here ; and about So You Want to Talk About Race , here . Today I want to highlight Black people in Canada. Although all people currently living in North America share history, Canada also has its own history to reckon with. And the two books below are excellent places to start. The Skin We’re In , by Desmond Cole , has won All The Awards, and deservedly so. Cole, a journalist and activist, writes about one year (2017) in journalism in Canada, primarily Toronto. Thirteen broad topics, all different and all depressingly the same, shed light on parts of Canada’s past and present that most of us would prefer to ignore. It’s full of research and great explanations, straight talk and vivid descriptions. I appreciated how Cole doesn’t mince words. Early on, he sets up the reader for what to e

Winter Rituals

We’re approaching the shortest day of the year, which marks the official start of winter. We’ve had some snow, and some lingers in the grass, but more snow has stuck around in other years. Parts of the lake are freezing already, and skaters are at play.   Squirrels and bears and foxes around us have been preparing for a full season already. The stretch of grass between our porch and my car is lumpy with squirrel treasures, buried there for “later.”   Recently, the dark fox came trotting up near the house, carrying something. It scouted and pawed in various places, apparently looking for soft dirt to bury its prize. I couldn’t get close enough to see what the prize was. I'd feel like a busybody if I looked for it now, though I confess to wandering around where the fox might have had easier digging. (No luck.)     Our human rituals are slightly different. A thermostat drives our heating system, so the heat comes on some nights as early as August, before I remember to

Wonderfully Welcoming: Reading How to be an Antiracist

My reading life (and, you know, everything) changed a lot in 2020. Woefully late--far too many years too late--I've begun reading difficult books that relate to racism.  "Difficult" as in "worth doing." "Difficult" as in "prompting re-evaluation of uncomfortable life moments."   NOT "difficult" as in "poorly written" or "wrong."  I can heartily recommend most of the books I've read about Black lives in North America--certainly all of those by Black writers.  This one, How to be an Antiracist , by Ibram X. Kendi , especially. It's valuable not only as a reader but as a writer.  As a reader, I felt that Kendi was my host and companion on a journey. He shows the same generosity of spirit demonstrated in Braiding Sweetgrass , by Robin Wall Kimmerer, who also teaches by invitation and in community. In some ways, How to be an Antiracist is like other nonfiction. As you can see above, the book is explicitly des