Monday, April 30, 2012

Holiday in Austin

 There is a fabulous little bakery not to far from Trent and Jamie's house in Austin. We used our ten day holiday time to buy breakfast at the bakery and bring it home. The apple fritters are exquisite. Ivan and Senya love it when they are on holidays.
 Greg was trying to figure out how to get the ladder down on Ivan's fire engine. Ezra was having a great time playing with his older brother's toys while Ivan was off to the park with his sister.
Just a typical up-side-down day. Jamie and Trent have returned from their trip to India so the holiday is almost over.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wet Pond Walk

the long sidewalk to the Wet Pond
The second thing that has changed in our neighbourhood is that I found a charming new walk to the Wet Pond on the brow of the hill overlooking the Bow Valley.

If I go past the church toward the Children’s Hospital, there on University Avenue are the places I have passed often: the church first, then the copse of trembling aspens which used to hold a small fire pit for the kids in residence.

I have a pleasant memory -- taking my own kids there for a Hot Dog Roast one evening.

The Copse of Trembling Aspen
More work than it was worth, I think now, but still, a pleasant memory.

I notice that the some of the trees have been cut now -- the thicket thinned out, and I suspect that this charming little spot will soon be gone.

There was a woman who used to take noon hour tours to little gems on the university grounds and this was one she always stopped at.

Norquay Hall -- on the way to the Wet Pond
She would have people rub the south side of the trees, note the thin white film that was then on their hands, and tell them that this was the original sunscreen, developed by nature for the south bark of those trees.

A deer-crossing sign comes next and then a pedestrian cross walk.

Deer-crossing signs don't seem to be that extra-ordinary in this area of the city.  Afterall, it is well known that coyotes play in the fields a little further north.

I stop to check.  But no deer were crossing.
I am headed to a field that used to be behind the last crescent in University Heights and which has now been turned into a lovely prairie walk.

There, behind the Ronald MacDonald house for families whose children are in the hospital  is an asphalt path for serious runners, bikers and the occasional person like me -- a stroller.

I was the only pedestrian at 6 am.
I have walked the path a number of times now – one hour and fifteen minutes for me to do the whole loop. Today is the first day I thought to bring my camera with me, and of course that doubled the time I took to walk the path, and changed the way I was looking at the world as well.

Just as I would get some moment ready to shoot, I would have to wonder – is it the shot I am loving, or the smell of the prairie air, the sound of the gophers, the ducks quacking as they fly over head, the rustle of the last year’s rose hips still on old branches.

I was busy making lists – as I always am. This time the list was about lists – what was important to me in my 20’s, in my 30’s and even trying to define what it is that has new importance to me in this decade.

No pencil in pocket, but the ideas were shuffling around in my head when I looked down and saw some graffiti on the sidewalk.

Sidewalk Art Work
When did this start, I thought? I had been enjoying the look of the path before me, going into infinity, observing that some of the cement blocks had been replace – and then this funny little face, nicely painted on a square.

I haven’t seen this elsewhere – trends come and go ... so perhaps this one is fading, and not on its way in. So ... walking before six am and wondering about my life – thinking ... what have been pivotal moments from my own experience.

All I could come up with was the following:

Five Years Old – Wear underwear in the morning. The tricycle seat is cold without it.

Six Years Old – Test out God’s goodness. He hasn’t answer my sincere prayer about sending a nickel since my mom refused to give me one. Why doesn’t he want me to walk to the Jenkins corner grocery store, Jenkins, and get ice-cream?

Ten Years Old – Don’t let Doral catch me smoking again.

Twelve Years Old – Earn lots of felt badges for my Beehive bandelo. Doral wouldn’t let me join Brownies when I was eight and this is my first chance to earn badges and display them on my body.

Eighteen Years Old – Study French verbs. I have said I won’t attend Mutual anymore. Doral says I must, but he can see he is in trouble.  I mean business. He compromises. I don’t have to go in the class – just sit outside in the corridor. I do well in French at school from all of that studying.

Twenty-One – Graduate.  Then travel to Peru. I did a project on Peru when I was in Grade IV and I have a lingering desire to see if what I read was true.  I don't get to Peru, but I don't give up my dream of travelling, either.

Thirtyish -Have Family Home Evening for the prophet has promised that families who do, will not loose one of their children and of course, I want everyone to go to heaven.

Forty – Hang onto the idea that when your kids are teen-agers, you should think that success is achieved if you can just keep your head above water.

Fifty – Learn the names of the people I work with. I have been out of the work force for 35 years and my learning curve is a steep one.

Sixty – Try to live by my lawyer’s advice: “ If you are going to court, you might as well enjoy the day there. You are paying for it.”  And remember the second piece of advice -- the court room is not about justice.  It is only about settling differences.

Seventy – Walk every day, ... it is the most important job for me, now that I am retired.

And then my list-making stops for I have arrived at the Wet Pond.


In Daddy's Arms

Picture Caption:
"In Daddy's Long Arms of the Law"
From Moiya:

Last week we went up to Spruce Grove to spend some time with Adam, Michelle, and Sydney.

Adam was graduating as an experienced officer and is now with the Edmonton Police instead of the RCMP.

We are delighted that he is living closer to home!

Adam and Sydney made it on to the Edmonton Journal's front page headlines on April 28th, 2012.

I never thought that my crooked fingers would make it on to the front page, but there they are, taking a picture!

David figured out how to scan this in to get it sent off to you.

We are back home for a while now.


The Old Neighbourhood

.. dismantling the crane that has hung overhead ..

There are two new changes in our environment. The first is that the Kaleidoscope Project is well under way at the corner of 25th Avenue and 24th Street.

 I once came out of the alley and could see the church.

Now that mountain view is blocked by a building with one and two bedroom apartments, four stories high in all.
Looking north on 24th avenue

I have been watching the construction with interest.

Since there used to be a gas station on that corner, the first set of equipment took out the dirt that was tainted with oil – that was a long project.

I would stand at the fence on the way to work, and Derek Hasegawa, who was the project manager would give me a lesson on how he has made a business out of cleaning up damaged soil. Then the economy turned down and that triangular lot grew over with weeks.
.. looking east from the church lawn..

But building began again in the fall.

Yesterday morning the alley was blocked off and the crane that has been lifting up setting big chunks of the building on its foundation, just as though someone is playing lego – that crane was on its way down, so there will be no more stories going up – just windows going in now, the electrical to finish and when I get back from London, people will be moving in with the promise of floor to ceiling windows, stainless steel appliances and a place to store their bikes.
"That's no road.  That is my alley."

Quite a deal, starting at $850 a month for a one bedroom place.

You can still find us at the same address – though other parts of our environment are changing as well.

Just about every year we see a couple of houses come down and two go up on the lots that used to hold one.
The early morning sky looking back to the new building

“Getting quite gentrified, aren’t you,” said my friend, Ann Cowie, the last time she picked me up.

Yes, the look of the neighborhood is changing, but we are still the same.


Friday, April 27, 2012

A Last Day in Quebec ... for a while

... simple eating ...
...grind some Parmesan on pasta ...
Mary and Leo have thanked me many times for coming to stay with them.

The dishes are done, the laundry folded, the hot bread out of the oven and the much-loved meal of pasta is ready for the kids.

They do not need Kraft dinner.

Just boil up any pasta and pass the ketchup.

A no brainer for them.

Xavier gave me a test last night to see if I was a Stone Age, an Egyptian or a Middle Ages Grandmother.

 I cannot remember now which category I fit into, since there are times when I feel that all are appropriate.

... a successful trip to Byblos yields namoura ...
I read out of Fire and Ice to them, their nightly novel.

I peeked ahead.

A long chapter is coming up tomorrow called “The Storm”.  The title of that chapter sounds like real life.

The reading is going to take more time, and not just because I am gone.

There are just more pages in that chapter.
Can you build me a door through a fence?

 Mary told me the genesis of the door in the back fence, through which the kids can enter each other’s yards.

 It was well into Grade I, when Xavier and the girl next door discovered that not only were they in the same Grade I class, but their houses were back to back.
Buy mamoul -- much easier than baking brownies

They began passing notes through the fence when they discovered that fact. It was not long until the families had agreed that a door should go through the fence, connecting the two yards.

As well, Leo built a play house in the large tree in the Brooks yard.

 As an after thought he put a sand pile at the bottom of the tree.

He says that he might as well have saved his money on the tree house, for it is in the sand pile that the children play. He is right about the number of children in the sandbox – at any one time there can be up to 7 of them, and they can range in age from a three year old to a girl in Grade VII. Go figure on that one. I wonder what I will have to do to get some use out of the sandbox we have at Annis Bay. Maybe build a tree house over it that no one uses? I have been busy at the Brooks’ house. I haven’t had time to learn to turn on their lovely new TV or to figure out how the remote works. Perhaps next time.
"Grandma, help me get away from this guy."

For now we are back to normal here -- a few trips to Byblos gives us enough pita bread and desserts made of honey and ground nuts. Michael gets to come over to my house to check out how we are doing.

More of life as it should be lived, in an easy key.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Home Remedies

My Story Begins with a Note from Mary who says:
Nivea -- does this remind you of your mom?

Thanks for the tin of hand cream.

The smell of Nivea will always remind me of you.

I loved it when you told me the story of how you would eat a piece of Sen-Sen when you were missing grandpa.

Nivea will always be to me what Sen-Sen is between you and your Dad.

Mother, I found the following on-line.

I bet that you didn't know that Sen-Sen is the original breath freshener, those small hard pieces with a licorice flavor.

Sen-Sen -- the original breath freshener
Sen-Sen was developed in the late 1800s by T.B. Dunn and Co., perfume dealers in Rochester, New York. According to Dunn’s history, a plant supervisor by the name of Kerschner developed a formula for an effective and refreshing breath perfume.

In keeping with its perfumery roots, it was on the market list for many years as a cosmetic.

Any country store worth its salt, prominently displayed a box of the handy little packets within easy reach of its customers.

The product is still made on some of the original equipment that manufactured the product in the late 1800's."

Yours, for fresher breath,


And Now My Own Story about Smells and Products Begins:

Using Sheep Dip for its Intended Purpose
Image from 1908: Wikipedia 

You reminding me of Nivea and Sen-Sen as remedies for loneliness also made me of think of other home remedies: Sheep Dip, Rawleigh's Antiseptic Healing Salve and Bag Balm.

 I first heard about sheep dip while listening to my Great Uncle Val tell stories of miraculous healings.

This particular story was about having the skin of his arm ripped back, when he caught it in some mechanical equipment in Arts Cleaners.

With a dramatic sweep of his arm he would show me how he grabbed the skin, slapped it back in place, put sheep dip on it, and wrapped it with gauze.

Then he would have me inspect the scar that was left, proudly saying how he had done a better job than any physician could have done with that wound.

Rawleigh's Antiseptic Healing Salve
I knew the story must be true, because we had a jar of Rawleigh's at our house, which my dad used as the ultimate in salve for all sores – whether  for a cold sore at the corner of his mouth, or for a cut on my finger or for an athlete's blistered foot.

I used to imagine it was just a refined kind of sheep dip, for it could do everything.

One touch of that tar-like salve brought instant healing .

I don’t know if there was an antiseptic agent in the salve, or if it was the putrid smell of the product that chased germs away.

I saved that can, since there was still some salve in it when Doral was disposing of all of his worldly goods.

Of course, the tin reminded me of him and of Uncle Val's story telling.  That is why I saved it.

When Catherine became a Dr. I gave the tin to her, hoping that when the best of medicines failed, she could turn to the memories of her pioneer past where there was always a last hope for a miracle ingredient.
... the bust of a cow on the top of the container ...

This month, when I was visiting Mary’s, I had some cracks on the edges of my nails – too much yard work without the protection of gloves.

My own fault.

Mary brought another home cure to my bedroom.

 “You can’t buy this at Lee Valley tools (except in Alberta).”
Bag Balm Instructions
For Sore Teats and Hard Milkers
Apply the Balm 1 Hour Before Night Milking

Then she showed me Bag Balm. My fingers were aching.

I would have tried anything.

“I know it is greasy,” Mary continued, “but those cracks will go right away if you just let the salve go into your fingers”.

Oh how I wish I could talk to my Uncle Val again and introduce him to modern alternative home cures, at least for loneliness.


Good work, Larch Haveners

Summer 2009

My son, Doral, suggested that we set up a blog two and a half years ago -- one for family, friends, anyone who has visited the lake, or wants to visit the lake, or even anyone who loves the chance to talk about family -- all of that could be on a blog, he said, a blog for everyone.

He must have underlined that for me, for he kept saying, "No it is not my blog.  It is our blog.  Everyones!" 

I decided to do my part of "owning" the blog with my first start, Nov 12, 2009.  A pretty pathetic start.

Today I was noticing that in the ensuing days since then, there have been 992 blogs written -- by family and friends.  Before the end of April, someone will have written the 1000th post, which should deserve a prize of some sort.

By 2011 ... a walk along the tracks for every age ...
I have been thinking about all of the posts that are unwritten, as well. 

Like the news I heard from Wyona today.  Trent and Jamie's kids are missing their folks who are away on a holiday. 

Wyona said she found some little scrunched up tissues in Senya's bedroom and discovered she was crying silently at night, missing her parents. 

So Wyona and Greg decided to turn things around for them, and said that if their parents were on a holiday, that they could be on a holiday as well and that their grandparents would take them on one.

The holiday began. 

The little Bates kids have been watching Disney movies, seeing Charlotte's Web,  eating dessert for lunch, enjoying the play equipment at MacDonalds, feasting on donuts -- oh what a grand holiday, delivered right to the comfort of their own home. 

Probably as good as the holiday that their parents will report on when they get home from India.

Isn't that as good a way to save tissue as any grandparents have ever had?

Arta  (completing post #993)

P.S.  Senya? Templeton is the name of Wilbur and Charolette's friend -- that gluttonous rat who will only help when he is offered food.  Bad rat!


Ratification of the Peace of Münster
(Gerard ter Borch, Münster, 1648)
Type: Peace treaty
Drafted: 1646-1648
Signed: 15 May - 24 October 1648
Location: Osnabrück and Münster, Westphalia, modern-day Germany
Parties: 109
It will come as no surprise to anyone that I like to taunt Rebecca.

I can do this best by finding some local conference that she would like to go to, and then sending her the particulars, telling her ... "I bet you sure wish you could be here for this event".

Now she has turned the tables on me, sending me notice of a conference called "Her Proper Name: A Revisionist Account of International Law.

But she informs me we will both be in the same place and can go together, if I wish.

 I have two areas in which I have no academic strengths: History and Political Science. Well, I should add Religion since I have never taken a course in that as well.

So ... the Treaty of Westphalia -- that drew a complete blank for me. I have been out doing a little homework ... pre-session study for I don't want to be a complete idiot, sitting in the audience and understanding nothing.

Rebecca is having the last laugh on me.


The Bates: Old and Young

 Greg and Wyona are in Austin spending time with Senya, Ivan and Ezra while Trent and Jamie are having a holiday in India. We decided we would be on holidays here in Austin also, so we went out and bought a couple of CD's and DVD's and we dance and play. Ivan is running faster than Ezra here. However, Ezra is having as much fun as Ivan.
There was a little sorbet left in the freezer so Ivan and Senya finished it off. Ezra wanted some so he got the empty ice cream cone and he loved it just as much.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Anna Netrebko in 'Manon'
Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Time
Massenet's Manon will be performed on Saturday at a theatre near you -- Live in HD from the New York Met.

I have only had time to go out to the New York Times Review and read the article there.

It was there I found the names of the two most famous arias, so I found some utube links to those: Adieu, notre petite table and "En fermant les yeux."  There was a little too much French there for me, so I clicked on some more links and found the lyrics in English.  Then I had to go to utube and watch other famous sopranos sing "Adieu, notre petite table":  Natalie Dessay, Renee Flemming, Maria Callas, Beverly Sills ... and by now I was getting to know the tune quite well.

Should be fun on Saturday. 

In my community it is only playing at 10:00 am at the Scotia Cinneplex in Chinook Centre.


Monday, April 23, 2012

A Job at Burns

"I can pour my own ketchup, grandma!"
Rhiannon asked me if she could have a hot dog for a snack.

That reminded me that I used to work at Burns Meat Packing Plant after my first year of university, packing wieners.

That is where I learned to look for the tastiest product, snap off the ends and just eat the centre.

I don’t know how I heard about this job -- it was the midnight shift of women who skinned and packaged wieners. I was paid union wages -- $1.89 an hour – an absolute fortune. I worked from 11:30 pm until 7:30 am, and came home and slept for the day – out in the backyard in the sun – so I had the added benefit of a great tan. I thought I had the job of a lifetime.
"Too hot!.  I shall cool it down."

The money and summer sun were the good parts of the job.

There were some bad parts -- a foul stench around the factory to begin with, so bad that I took a deep breath before entering the unit where I worked.

Then Itried to hold my breath as long as possible, knowing that either I had to hold that breath until I died, or take the next breath which would be so foul that I would wish I had died.

I worked there for two summers: the first summer packing wieners and the second summer stapling boxes in the packing plant.

The first bite is always the best one.
Packing wieners included the paring knife skill of skinning 12 wieners, then laying them on a cellophane wrap over which I had to run a hot iron to seal the ends and then they were ready to be packed in boxes.

I was deft, nicking the top of the cellophane once, and then pulling on that end, letting the cellophane spiral down to the bottom of the wiener with one sharp tug.

The real trick of employment that summer was staying awake for the whole Sunday night shift, for I was never smart enough to get a full eight hours of rest on Sunday before my shift began. The rest of the days were fine.

I have no idea how I got a promotion to the boxing room the next year, a day shift – where three of us stood at machines that were operated by our feet, while our hands folded a box bottom, and then held the side of the box while it glided over the stapler, making my foot and my hands work in tandem to have the staples hit the right spot.
Two pieces in the left side of her cheek.
Now to pack in 2 pieces for the right side.

Even though I was the summer help, I used to see if I could go faster than the two women who worked there full time.

One day the Scottish woman took me aside in the lunch room and bawled me out.

“Don’t you do your crate of boxes faster than Agnes does hers. She is slowing down so that you will do all of the work. I will punish you if you do her work for her because she will let you. She is just lazy. We are not paid by how fast you go. We just have to do a certain amount of work altogether, and you are doing hers.”

I was the new kid on the block.
Rhiannon: Grandma? "Do you want to cook one for you? "
Arta: "No, I had plenty of them when I was 21."

I got another lesson, I didn’t process until years later.

To back up a bit, I had done my fair share of reading when I went babysitting for the Wards. The mom in that family had her collection of True Romance, Truth Love and True Confessions -- $.15 a copy, sometimes $.35 a copy.

More than I could afford, but I had read hers and make money baby-sitting at the same time. The titles were provocative: “I Couldn’t Forgive My Brother-in-Law”, “My Father Sold me”, “Marked by Scandal” or “I was a Teen-Aged Lesbian”. I chalked that last article up to being the dumbest thing I had ever read, and wondered who had ever dreams up that stuff. But here in the meat-packing plant I got my first real-life lesson for I tried to learn everyone’s name on the midnight shift and eat lunch beside them. I was taken aside and told not to go near the two women who wore black leather jackets to work and who lived with each other. That was the commandment.

I learned another lesson in that plant. A woman I liked, only a few years older than me, wore a simple gold band. I was getting married that year. We had no money. She wore a simple gold band. I thought I could go with a band like that for a wedding ring and I asked her about hers. She was a Catholic, married, but getting a divorce, in an era where there was no other way to get one than to wait for a 7 year separation period. “Marry in haste, repent in leisure,” she said to me.

I would have worked the rest of my life at Burns, the pay was so good. The second year I was making over $2.00 an hour, enough to pay my living expenses when I was in Edmonton at university. Doral paid my tuition and my books. Fees were low in those days. The government paid 80% of the tuition – the deal was, you had to matriculate with a 65% average and you could enter university. Not many women went. I didn’t like the sexist saying that made the men my age at the Institute laugh: 90% of the women in the world are beautiful and the other 10% go to university. I wondered who had collected that kind of data – but I didn’t wonder long enough to do any research on it, for what did I care.

I thought about all of the while watching that cute little thing in hot-dog heaven, eating her snack.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Nickel for that tear

... a cut on the foot brings a tear to the corner of Rhiannon's left eye ...

When I was young, I was  promised a nickel for every tear that I could catch in a cup.

Mary told me that with inflation, that price should be going up. True, but there is something that catches the idea my personal heritage in that phrase "a nickle for every tear....".

There are other phrases from my childhood that have numbers in them, numbers that I can't verify using academic records.  Take for example the sentence, "You have to wait 24 hours before you can play a trick on someone who has just played a trick on you."

Where did that number come from?


The Clothes Line

Michael orchestrating the yard work.
This photo says it all.

Richard had his jeans hanging on the clothes line.

How retro is that?

Or maybe I should say, how perfect an image for Earth Day.

Living next door I get to see that clothes line full, often.

I think to myself, hey, when is Richard going to give that up.

As well, the garbage can is filling up with twigs, gathered from our melded back lawn.

Michael is playing on a blanket in the yard and will soon be going on a drive in his stroller around the block, propelled by Grandma Arta's energy.

Enjoy Earth Day.


The Weather Turns Around

Photo: Arta

This morning's news reported that there would be snow in central Canada.

Hard to believe, because when I left the daffodils were out, the trees were in bloom, and families were raking up winter's debris. 

We had at least eight bags and that was all from the front yard.
Photo: Anne Marie

The Brooks family had this stop in the park on the way to the airport, which merited a picnic lunch at the very least.

An afternoon could have been spent relaxing in the sun, taking pictures and running after butterflies who were landing everywhere.

But ours was just a pause for a few photos.

Perhaps next year there will be a blanket, deviled eggs, cheese, ham sandwiches and drinks.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Wyona Watches Kids

From Wyona:

... the grandparents / caregivers on their own holiday ...
Jamie got away ... to India.

Greg and Jamie left at 5 a.m. Greg said Jamie slept most of the way to Houston. Outside of Houston 30 miles, the traffic came to a slow crawl. There was an accident. So the three hour ride to Houston central took almost four hours instead of three. Greg was pushing the speed limit all the way and some of us know how, if necessary, Greg can pull the video car moves.

They got to the 9:00 am appointment and the guy told them it was impossible to have same day appointment at 9:40 am but Jamie had secured that online the night before.

Passport in hand she went to the next step. This kept happening all day until at 3 p.m. she telephoned me elated...she even had success changing her ticket at the Qatar ticket office.

Trent just telephoned but he does not have the itinerary so he does not know what hotel to go to in India. Is there more than one hotel in New Delhi?

The children cried for their mother yesterday.

At one point Senya said, "I'll take my Dad or my Mom!"

What they get is me.


Once Upon a Time in Anatolia: Part Two

Image from Once Upon a Time ...
I couldn’t get to sleep after the movie last night.  When we came home, Kelvin wanted to speculate about what he had seen.  I wanted to go to the external reviews that are posted under every film on the International Movie Data Base and see what newspaper reviews were saying about that film.  I had already made that trip (to the external reviews) before watching the movie, scanning a few of the columns.  But now I was in earnest, since the movie left me with so many questions.

I woke up this morning, still restless after the movie last night. First of all,  I was looking for the answer to who was the protagonist in the film?  The suspect?  Suspect #2?  Were there three protagonists, all of them explored in the seemingly incidental stories told by the doctor, the chief of police and the prosecutor?

I wanted to find a film list or bulletin board what people were saying about the introduction to the movie last night. Or to find one of my old classmates after the movie, but I didn’t see anyone there and in fact the showing was so poorly attended.  Probably only 20 people there and I didn’t know any of them.   I was looking for someone else into whom it had been drilled about how important the first 2 – 4 minutes of a film is. I took that concept away from the Biopics Film class with a vengeance.  That opening sequence when so much is being set up is crucial to understanding a film.  In this case, the opening sequence comes to the screen and then the screen goes black, and the name of the film, the producer and director and the actors roll by in black and white before the colour of another film sequence begins.  It is that little intro that has been bothering, no confusing me.  The rest of the film is sub-titled, but not this part of the film, so there must be enough in that sequence to set up what the director wants us to look for.  These questions or ideas go by for me.

Is the director asking us to explore focus:  The film framing a window and through the opaque glass we can see a television and hear voices.  When that rack focus takes us to see the faces of the people inside the room, we can see men, sitting around, eating and drinking.

Is the director asking us to think about what we consume, how that affects us, and what is left over to be given to the dogs?  I say this because later in the film we discover that the murder was precipitated by lips that were too loose during a drinking session.

Is the director asking us to think about a very small place, germane to the action of a road film, for in fact we are “on the road” for a significant part of the film.  Think about the sounds of the film in that sequence – dogs barking and the noise of traffic on a highway passing the building.  At one time we even lose track of the action as a semi-trailer drives by between us and the window we are looking through.

Another question about the film is about the director’s gamble with time.  The modern audience is used to a film that is less than two hours.  This film is  almost three hours long and we rarely see  those shot sequences that are edited until we see 30 shots in 15 seconds or less.  None of that – we are asked to stay in the moment, think with the characters, pause while answers to questions are being formulated, watch the face of the listeners instead of watching those asking the questions.  When I know beforehand that a foreign film will be slow-paced, I think to myself ... I am going to treat this film as though I am sitting on a train, watching through the window while some country I have never been to, rolls by.  And in the case of this film, if nothing else happened, I felt as though I had a trip to Turkey, or at the very least been to a small village in the Anatolian steeps of Turkey.  And when the evening ended, I wanted to go out to a Turkish restaurant where I could eat and talk about what I had just seen.

Image from Once Upon a Time ...
A feminist perspective:  This film was about men.  Or was it?  We saw two women, and photographs of a third.  That is all.  Now that I think about it, perhaps there were more women.  Some in a crowd scene and a woman delivering hot bread.  What stuck out for me was a troubling line about women.  A generality.  At one point the police chief tells the others that when he was in Police College, the instructor told him to look for a woman at the baseline of every crime. And in 20 years he has found this to be true. This morning I am trying to put that line in perspective, with what the director was asking us to look for in this story.  As well, one of the reviewers noted that the Clark Gable look-a-like prosecutor asked for a second cream biscuit, when he was offered one by a soldier.  I couldn’t make sense of why the reviewer pointed that out ... until this moment ... and we shall talk about that once you have seen the film as well.

Who can believe all of that is being set up in the first short sequence of the film?  And I have only started talking about this, but I must end here.

To answer your question, Rebecca?  Should you teach this film next year? Absolutely. I don’t know if your students can slow down enough to watch and synthesize a film that takes almost three hours, since in law school they seem to be asked to read so much at such speed.  Can they slow down to give it their full attention?  Or will you see them texting their friends or doing their assignments on laptops as they watch?

I can say, at the very least ... go rent the film and see for yourself.  It is rich in the nuances of what happens before crimes are sorted out in a court room.  And deliciously, the script is based on a true story.  If you wait until I get there, perhaps we can spend an exquisite afternoon together in front of your large movie screen ... and we will go eat Turkish food when it is over.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Good-bye, Ottawa

April 18, 2012 -- Ottawa Photo: Anne Marie
It was a perfect day on many counts.

The magnolia trees had come into flower.

The sun was shinning.

There was a chance to drive by on the way to the airport, so that I could take a look at all of this.

As well, Mary's colleague, Anne-Marie offered to meet us at the park on our way out of town, for a quick photo shoot.

She has an amazing eye for a getting amazing candids.

I can stand on a tree branch with my bare feet. Photo: Anne Marie
I did not know where to turn my own camera.

Butterflies were landing on the magnolias.

Soon the family forgot about taking pictures and were ducking under branches and pointing to where they could see yet another insect.

Bees were darting around the flowers.

Mary, Rhiannon and a hint of Annabelle
Good byes are always hard, but less so in this case, for I am going back there in August.

Still there were thanks to be given.

Today, Mary told me thank you for blogging so many of the family experiences and having them sound so good.

"Did I ever not tell the truth other there?" I asked.

Good bye Grandma, it was fun! Photo: Anne Marie
No, she had to agree -- I am a lot of things, and one of them is truthful.
Smell this magnolia, Rhiannon. Photo: Anne Marie

What is it that she would have wanted me to tell?

The day I made a mistake with the butter horns?

I had bread already in pans, but Mary had asked me to make at least one batch of butter horns before I left.

So I tackled those in tandem with the other cooking project.

I put the dough in the oven, an oven that was holding just a bit of heat for me, so I could jump start the butterhorn dough into rising faster than usual.

And I had a piece of plastic laying across the top of it.
Breathing in the scent of flowerings trees Photo: Anne Marie

In my rush to get the loaves into the oven to bake, I forgot about the butter horn dough rising in the oven, and so put on the dial to pre-heat to 350 degrees.

The moment when I remembered this mistake, was the moment when I could smell dough cooking and plastic melting, at the same time.
Can you tell I am still on crutches? Photo: Anne Marie

Now is this the kind of story Mary would rather have me tell out here?

The one about how hard it is to scrub half-baked dough out of a stainless steel bowl.

 Or would she like to me take a time-lapsed picture of me scrapping plastic off of the bowl with that tiny flat Richard's Tool that I use to scrap paint off of windows?

All this to say, that though a picture (like the ones in this post) can tell a thousand words, there are other thousands of words that are best left unsaid.

I have had the grace not to blog those words.