November 12, 2007

In the Moment



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]

A quiet weekend unfolded. Attila felled a few trees whose roots will grow to threaten our septic tile bed. He gathered the brush and piled it into a widening mound beside the fire pit. When darkness descended he used a few branches to light a small fire, then slowly fed the remaining branches into the flames until there was nothing left to show for his day’s labour.

The third sourdough loaf rose on the hearth all of Sunday morning. It rose only a few inches since it was placed there shortly after breakfast. Several more hours passed and it had risen even more, until finally it was placed in a hot oven. The oven temperature was altered, an experiment; it was lowered to 350’ F. The bread baked for forty minutes, spilling over the edge of the pan as it rose in the oven, flowing over the edge, down the side, then through and around the rack, below the pan, which it firmly embraced with its brown and aromatic crust. Although very difficult to remove from the oven intact, it was well worth the effort. The dough preparation has been perfected; the baking process needs further tweaking.

I call my sourdough starter colony Lionel, name after a favorite granduncle.

Television. What can you really say about it other than, viewer beware. It is a source of mindless entertainment, and therefore a perfect vehicle to deliver the mindless message. With audience belief suspended, much can be slipped into a seemingly straightforward story.

Do Attila and I watch television? The short answer is yes. The long answer is complicated.

All television programs are based on underlying assumptions, about the world, the audience and the message, with varying degrees of sophistication. When Attila and I watch television together we talk as much or more than we listen or watch. We talk about the underlying assumptions. This drove my children to distraction during their youth. Nothing was sacred in the world of television.

“ Please Mom, just stop talking!” was heard during almost every program watched at our house.

Now that Attila and I watch only the programming that we select, our commentary has become much more focused. We do not favour programs that endlessly exhibit unhealthy or unrealistic human interactions. Programming that marginalizes people by gender; age, weight etc. are a waste of time and unworthy of interest or discussion. Programming that endlessly focuses on sensational violence, death and subsequent police or detective work are subliminally harmful and we avoid them. Programming presenting specific interpretations of “history” or “nature”, and most documentaries hold little interest; the underlying bias is too cloying for enjoyment. Programming that is interrupted frequently to display images of food that entice desire and create craving are avoided. From my perspective the news is an aggressive attempt to funnel meaningful information into a larger and unspoken agenda. The news makes me angry, full stop.

Ah, you say, so what is left!

Well, not a lot. The weather network is tolerable, their underlying agenda obvious and secondary to their delivery of basic information, such as the temperature. Programs with fairly straightforward and visible agendas are also tolerable, such as home improvement, real estate and interior design programs. Some movies are not only masterfully presented, the details they provide allow one to temporarily ignore the underlying assumptions and agendas; they are work to watch, but if diligent one can enjoy them.

Yesterday Attila and I watched a program promoting foreign investment in residential real estate in the country of Romania. I will not make any comment on the value of such a program. What interested Attila and I was the opportunity to see the exterior and interior of residences in Romania, a country we have not visited. In particular, we were quite interested to see small, tiled masonry heaters in two of the homes. These heaters represent the technology that inspired the design of our masonry heater. The technology behind the masonry heater was used in everyday life in Europe for centuries.

The masonry stoves shown in the program were comparatively small and compact, where our fireplace is a massive nine-ton structure. I have often thought how wonderful it would be if a company in Canada were to design a compact and easily installed masonry stove such as those we saw displayed in Romania. We would certainly install a smaller masonry stove downstairs to replace our small cast iron wood stove. But alas, such a product is not available in Canada. Pity though, that such a product hasn’t been developed here in North America. Sometimes I think about building our own, but the thought of getting such a structure through the needed government and insurance approvals is daunting and much too fearsome for a mere mortal such as myself.

This masonry-stove-meander represents the way in which Attila and I watch television. We glean information from a less than perfect source, and then we play with it.

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Worldly Distractions

hoya plant
Hoya, grown from a twig from a loving friend.

“We live permanently in the recurrence of our own stories, whatever story we tell.”
Divisadero, by Michael Ondaatje, page 137

“Those who have an orphan’s sense of history love history… because if you do not plunder the past, the absence feeds on you… succinct histories tell us something – that anything peaceful has a troubled past.”
Divisadero, by Michael Ondaatje, page 141

“sometimes we enter art to hide within it. It is where we can go to save ourselves, where a third-person voice protects us.”
Divisadero, by Michael Ondaatje, page 142

Mr. Ondaatje and I live worlds apart, yet his words resonate in my life; he writes a middle C that guides my inner ear.

Light Rain
Temp 7.6°C
Visibility 4 km
Humidity 100%
Dew Point 7.6°C
Wind Speed S 13 km/h

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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