December 16, 2002

The Christmas Rant



Here are a few of my favorite online haunts:
[This is the site I visit to fantasize about living in Toronto again, which is almost every single day during the winter]

Jonathan Cainer's Zodiac Forecasts
[This is where I visit in the morning, when I need a positive spin on things past, present and future.]

Living Local
[This is where I go to see what Canadians are up to, sometimes I even buy things from the businesses listed there.]

Environment Canada Weather
[This is the site I visit every morning, and before every road trip during the winter]

Things have gone very quiet. This hush of days is welcome.

Attila managed to put up the outdoor Christmas lights. Our display is modest, compared to most, but keeps our spirits bright.

Luna and Janus have just moved into their second house. They moved into their first house last June. Relocation has them on the move. Attila helped load the van at the house they are moving out of, he is generous with his time and energy where the girls are concerned. I stayed home and out of the way, since I could not be put to any use at the moving site.

Luna's birthday dinner was fun. Terra had to work and so they missed the festivities. This is the first birthday celebration since both of them have been on their own. It is quite different from when they lived at home; they were always available for family functions.

As I sit here typing, Mist has entered the room and has a paw on my lap, ready to leap. Up she jumps and suddenly the keyboard is a whole cat-length away. As I reach my arms around her to type, she takes the opportunity of relatively still hands to give me a good wash. Mist loves to lick. Now she has slung her furry paw onto my forearm to keep me from getting away until she is satisfied with the job.

I have discovered another recipe that does justice to our plentiful supply of squash. These muffins originally call for canned pumpkin, for which I substitute cooked, pureed squash. I even tried making them with applesauce, also plentiful this year. Attila has declared them a great success.

Christmas shopping is always a challenge on a tight budget. This year our aim has been to maximize the usefulness of the gifts we do give. To that end, I believe we have succeeded. Some of the gifts will include homemade food, such as cookies, cakes, and croutons. The containers meant to be gifts will be filled with food.

The gifts, that must cross the border, are wrapped and posted. In the corner of my office, sit the gifts that will be given under our own tree. From time to time, I catch the bright colors of the wrapping paper out of the corner of my eye.

On the desk, beside the computer, sits a richly colored poinsettia that Attila brought home. Always keeping in mind that curious pets should not eat the leaves, we keep it well out of the way of Mist.

My favorite part of the Christmas season is color and light.

On a less cheerful note, the employment status of many of my friends and acquaintances has been a recent topic of communication. Many of the small group of people of my acquaintance seem to be experiencing the same type of problem. To date though, this phenomenon seems to be affecting my female friends most acutely. These people are well educated, highly motivated, hardworking individuals.

Jobs that have provided a living wage have been made redundant, or are lost in a number of other ways. The women who held these jobs find other jobs. The new jobs provide an inadequate income, due to either low wages or part-time status. Since these women support themselves, and some of them are family breadwinners, this is an issue of deep concern.

One feels so helpless, watching the effects of the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. Conscious and compassionate people can only watch from the sidelines, and feel grateful is it not happening to them. Yet.

On a more hopeful note, the Quebec provincial government has passed antipoverty legislation.

"An antipoverty law drafted by community groups was unanimously adopted by the Quebec legislature on Friday, but some activists said the legislation was short on details.
The law aims to eliminate poverty in Quebec within 10 years but it does not contain any measures that would take effect immediately.
It does oblige the province to table an action plan on poverty within 60 days..." The Toronto Star

One can only hope that bureaucratic due process, within the government and the community groups, does not reduce these seemingly good intentions to smoke and mirrors. If all this does is increase employment opportunities for antipoverty/poverty "experts", then nothing of value will have been accomplished. If the primary thrust is to send people back-to-school to learn skills they do not need for service-sector jobs, then the effort will be a mockery.

My comment on the back-to-school issue is motivated by the issue of creating employment for teachers. First, as a teacher, I am well aware that requiring people to seek additional qualifications means work for me. I feel apologetic to be "teaching" skills to people who already have them. I know many University graduates who are counseled, compelled, to "go back to school" in order to qualify for employment.

Of course, those needing basic skills such as reading should have the opportunity to go back to school. But the notion that the primary barrier to employment is a lack of skills is simply ludicrous. Correct me if I am wrong, but is this not referred to as a "red herring"? To a significant degree, what Canada's labor pool lacks are opportunities, not skills.

We have no new colonies to which we may send the poor. The world we live in will have to deal with this economic problem, one way, or another.

Popular opinion seems to point a finger at poverty as a state of personal failure, and therefore personal responsibility. The people who created this economic problem are not the poor; the poor are not that powerful. They sit in no boardrooms, they dominate no powerful economic or political pressure groups, they direct no public inquiries. They are the subjects of social science, the data of economic analysis.

Approaching the problem with harsh or punitive measures will not enrich the species.

May every human born on planet earth be allowed their inherent dignity, and self-reliance.

That is my Christmas wish this year.

Top of Page

Worldly Distractions

Christmas Cheer

Pumpkin Muffins
From: Betty Crocker Cookbook pg 89

1 whole egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin or squash
1/4 cup butter melted
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch cloves
1/2 cup raisins washed

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups. Beat egg slightly with fork. Sitr in milk, pumpkin, and shortening. Blend dry ingredients and stir in just until flour is moistened. Batter should be lumpy. Fold in raisins. Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon sugar over each muffin. Bake 18 to 20 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 12.

16:02 EST
Temp: -6`C
Humidity: 73%
Wind: N 17 km/h
Barometric:102.1 kPa

Sunrise 7:49 AM EST
Sunset 4:50 PM EST

Page by Page: A Woman's Journal
by Maggie Turner

Canadian Maggie Turner writes and publishes poetry, photography, and a personal journal online. Her work reflects the current way of life in Canada, embracing Canada's past, present, and future in a unique portrayal of everyday life. Maggie's voice is one of the many that actively depict the rich diversity of Canadian culture.

Photography: "a term which comes from the Greek words photos (light) and graphos (drawing). A photograph is made with a camera by exposing film to light in order to create a negative. The negative is then used in the darkroom to print a photograph (positive) onto light-sensitive paper.
Source: University of Arizona Glossary

Poetry: "a form of speech or writing that harmonizes the music of its language with its subject. To read a great poem is to bring out the perfect marriage of its sound and thought in a silent or voiced performance. At least from the time of Aristotle's Poetics, drama was conceived of as a species of poetry."
Source: Creative Studios

Journal: " "Though a journal may be many things - a treasury, a storehouse, a jewelry box, a laboratory, a drafting board, a collector's cabinet, a snapshot album, a history, a travelogue..., a letter to oneself - it has some definable characteristics. It is a record, an entry-book, kept regularly, though not necessarily daily.... Some (entries) will be nearly illegible, written in the dark in the middle of the night.... Not only is it a record for oneself, but of oneself. Every memorable journal, any successful journal, is honest. Nothing sham, phony, false...." (Dorothy Lambert from Ken Macrorie's book, Writing to be Read )
A journal is a way to keep track of your thoughts about what you read... as well as what you did on any given day."
Source: Journal Writing

A Blog is an online journal created by server side software, often hosted by a commercial interest.

"The term "weblog" was coined by Jorn Barger[4] on 17 December 1997. The short form, "blog," was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog in April or May 1999.[5][6][7] Shortly thereafter, Evan Williams at Pyra Labs used "blog" as both a noun and verb ("to blog," meaning "to edit one's weblog or to post to one's weblog") and devised the term "blogger" in connection with Pyra Labs' Blogger product, leading to the popularization of the terms."

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