Saturday, 27 December 2014

And now for something completely different…

Texas has a whorehouse in it. Well, maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. I truly have no idea. I’m sure there must be a chicken ranch or two, but I’m guessing they’re filled with poultry rather than scantily clad women being harassed by a religious zealot. Although, I’m not a hundred percent certain, which may be motivation enough to head stateside.

Why mess with Texas? That is where dear husband (DH) and I hooked up…well…sort of. We will celebrate thirty years together in March thanks to meeting in August of 1984 for a first reading of that risqué musical play and the crazy fun-filled performance that followed. In a city too large for my outport soul, I connected with like-minded people that fateful year. More importantly, I found my soul mate. Yep, soul mate. The fodder of romantic novels happens in real life, for there are no other words to succinctly explain our connection to one another.

Here we are three decades later, lucky enough to retire incredibly early and have choices. What to do? Canadians are snowbirds. It’s a long-standing tradition. For those of you not of this continent, snowbirds fly south, away from mounting snowbanks to the sandy shores of the southern states.

Don't we look like the perfect match?
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, 1984
We have continued to quote from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. It will have no meaning to anyone except us, but “...and your cottage on Padre Island” is our favourite line—for over a quarter of a century! (We won’t mention that we recently watched ourselves in a beta version—if you don’t understand that, perhaps you got lost in your blog hopping and will now recognize that you have drifted into the ancient past—and found out that the actual line is “...and your fishing lodge on Padre Island.” It seems we even synchronize our mistakes.)

Faced with our first winter of freedom, we thought of our beginnings and decided to bring it full circle. Texas. We’ve only been to the imaginary stage version of the state, so this is an exciting adventure. As for the existence of a real life Chicken Ranch? Stay tuned. We’ll let you know what we find out.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

My Christmas Wish

The moon is ethereal, glowing upon the white pillows that blanket my backyard. I stand in the window, comforted by the warmth of my home and the joy of my small family. I am wrapped in the arms of the man I love. I am content.

A precipitant gust, a swirl of snow and the yard becomes a dreamscape. The past whispers on the wind. It will not be forgotten. We lived. Their voices haunt me as they have since I was young. Remembered tales from childhood? Romantic melancholy? A past life? It is within me, around me. There are things in this life that defy explanation.

The Ouendat lived. They longed. They loved.

In Raven’s Path, Brandan "Raven" Murray yearns for accord between nations without the stain of blood upon the ground. Isn’t that what we still wish for in the world today? In the spirit of the season, I ask that you join me in remembering the Ouendat of Huronia and their descendants. The land beyond my frosted panes belonged to them, yet they welcomed strangers and shared their bounty. Let us continue that tradition.
 The Huron Carol 
Ehstehn yayau deh tsaun we yisus ahattonnia
O na wateh wado:kwi nonnwa 'ndasqua entai
ehnau sherskwa trivota nonnwa 'ndi yaun rashata
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Ayoki onki hm-ashe eran yayeh raunnaun
yauntaun kanntatya hm-deh 'ndyaun sehnsatoa ronnyaun
Waria hnawakweh tond Yosehf sataunn haronnyaun
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Chretiens, prenez courage,
Jesus Sauveur est ne!
Du malin les ouvrages
A jamais sont ruines.
Quand il chante merveille,
A ces troublants appas
Ne pretez plus l'oreille:
Jesus est ne, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Oyez cette nouvelle,
Dont un ange est porteur!
Oyez! ames fideles,
Et dilatez vos coeurs.
La Vierge dans l'etable
Entoure de ses bras
L'Enfant-Dieu adorable.
Jesus est ne, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Let Christian men take heart today
The devil's rule is done;
Let no man heed the devil more,
For Jesus Christ is come
But hear ye all what angels sing:
How Mary Maid bore Jesus King.
Iesus Ahattonnia, Jesus is born, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Three chieftains saw before Noel
A star as bright as day,
"So fair a sign," the chieftains said,
"Shall lead us where it may."
For Jesu told the chieftains three:
"The star will bring you here to me."
Iesus Ahattonnia, Jesus is born, Iesus Ahattonnia.

The Huron Carol was written by Jesuit missionary Jean de Brébeuf in the 17th century. Originally written entirely in the language of the Ouendat, Heather Dale** does a nice job of including French and English. It is considered Canada’s first Christmas carol.

**Please consider purchasing this music from Heather Dale if you loved it, as she is an independent artist.


Saturday, 13 December 2014

…everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us, on the inside, looking out. –Jonathan Safran Foer

Last month we visited the Ouendat/Jesuit mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, a carefully crafted recreation of a community that existed in the 1600s. They hold an annual First Light weekend, lighting over 5000 candles to illuminate this wonderful village. Celebrating First Nations’ and French cultures, it is an evening filled with music and food. From the evocative drumming in the smoke-filled longhouses, to the toe-tapping French-Canadian folksongs in the granary, and the mystical strings of the harp whispering in the church, it invites you to step into another time.  Chilled to the bone, but warmed to the heart, we enjoyed the haunting images of days gone by.

Longhouse photo:
Much of my inspiration for Raven’s Path comes from this nearby site. I visited as a small child and continue to go yearly. The moment I cross the threshold of the palisade, history wraps around me and drapes with the comfort of a blanket. Its call is inexplicable.  Each time I enter a longhouse—plants hanging from rafters, animal pelts tossed casually on the side platforms, wood smoke acrid and familiar—I pause. Center hearths glow, flickering eerily over the bark walls, contentedly snapping out warmth. I listen with my heart, take heed of my soul and I can hear it. The echoes of the past. Out of the ashes of the fires that burn, rise the people caught in the crossfire of nations.


Saturday, 6 December 2014

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. --Jorge Luis Borges

The Kobo is a great addition to my technology collection. I mean, how can you not appreciate being able to take a large diverse library with you when you travel? Next Issue provides the same convenience, the sheer quantity of magazines at the press of a button somewhat thrilling.

Yet, I still love the feel of the real McCoy. There is nothing like opening a new book, the paper crisp beneath my fingers, the sense of anticipation as I turn each page. I can't imagine a world without hardcopy versions of my favourites lining my bookshelves. Sometimes I am passing by and have to stop to touch the spines, just connecting with them bringing me pleasure. (I must confess, I fondle books at retail stores too, relishing opening them up for an illicit peek, but let's just keep that between you and me.)

I am all for progress and change and certainly support the eBook trade. But, let's not forget our old friend, the book book. Pick one up once in a while, feel the comfort of its weight, and appreciate how it brings you, not just to a new place but back to a time when simple pleasures were, well, simple.

(Thank you friends on CompuServe for sharing this video: The Power of a Bookbook.)