Life In The First Person

The new window is in. Actually, it went in yesterday evening, and was well sealed with caulking, and foam insulation. The bedroom was comfortable for sleeping, and even though it got very chilly during the night, the temperature in the room did not fall below 15C.

Today heavy rainfall makes Attila grateful that the new window is going in from the covered porch, which means the work area remains dry. The fibreglass insulation went in this morning, the vapour barrier applied. That small rectangle of vapour barrier is the only vapour barrier in the whole room, as it was not commonly used when this house was built. Eventually we will remove all of the old drywall, which has holes punched through it, to rewire, insluate, apply vapour barrier to all exterior walls and then install new drywall. Another year, many years from now, we will tackle that project. For now though, Attila will install drywall over this small patch of wall, mud it, sand it, and paint it. When the trim has been installed, the job will be done!

DSCF1442 The new to us window is in! It isn’t pretty yet, that will take some time, but it is functional. The newspaper covers the bottom pane, for privacy when the lights are on at night. We decided that Attila will not spend the time to finish it attractively, we are going to be replacing this drywall when we renovate the whole room, so for now a coat of primer over dry rough mudding will suffice, as well as some trim, and curtains, we have lots of old curtains!

In reading one of the blogs I follow this morning, I was led to think about why I blog. I did not start out “blogging”. When I wrote my first entry and posted it online, there was no such thing as a blog, or if there was I had never heard of it. There were a few of us, John Bailey, and others, who created our own web sites and posted blog entries, everything was hand coded by the authors. I held out coding my own web pages until 2010, after eleven years of posting journal entries. I thought of them as journal entries, my personal journal.

What were my motivations?

I have always been an avid reader. Although I have read books voraciously since early childhood, the greatest volume of reading that I have done has been scientific and scholarly publications, which is a function of my fifteen years of post secondary education. However, in the books I have chosen to read, I have loved reading about the day-to-day lives of people, it says so very much about them. My chosen reading list includes books like, to name but a very few:

Fernand Braudel’s Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century, Vol. 1: The Structures of Everyday Life. I picked this book up second hand at a University Book Store and loved it. Unfortunately it was a very unpopular book with a few of the ultra conservative professors in my department, and I was chastised for reading it, so I continued to secretly read it. It was not an assigned reading. My assigned reading list, approved by these professors, grew longer at this point.

Lillian Schlissel’s Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey. I enjoyed this book immensely, and it was again not an assigned reading during those intense university years. This book was a gift for my birthday, I think the year was 1988, the inscription reads, To Maggie, Happy Advance Birthday, Love Joan, Paul, and Alexis. People I love and are part of my life to this day. This book includes many quotations from actual journal entries, words written by women who journeyed the USA Overland Trail, across the continent to Oregon and California, from 1840 to 1870. Their lives were conscribed in many ways by the culture, by the expectations based on gender, but in many ways they moved beyond the bounds of common expectations.

Frances and Joseph Gies’ Marriage And The Family In The Middle Ages. A book I picked up at the University of Toronto book store, again not on my reading list. This book gave me a broader context within which to place my own experiences. A book dense with relatively reliable information, I read with enthusiasm and came away, as I read the last page and closed the book, feeling differently about myself and the world around me. A quote: “Family life among the other major Genoese social class, that of the artisans – craftsmen, shopkeepers, petty merchants, laborers – differed markedly from that of the aristocrats.” It was this book that brought to my attention that the stories of the aristocrats (the wealthy) seldom speak to the reality of the majority of the population (rest of the population), at any time in history.

Helen Duncan’s Kate Rice Prospector. This book was a gift from Steve-Paul, for another birthday I believe. It outlines the life of a very unusual woman, a very intelligent, independent woman, who railed against the machine of sexism. She won some of her battles, lived most of her life the way she wanted to, and spent the very last years of her life enclosed in the structures of the society she struggled against. Her story was in many ways inspiring, but in many ways it was also disheartening. Helen Duncan, who wrote the book, had met Kate Rice, and interviewed many of the people who knew her. The book had a particular slant, one which I found less than approving of Kate’s choices and lifestyle. I enjoyed the book, both in learning about Kate Rice’s life, but also in learning how Kate’s life was judged by an author living an “acceptable” life. This book affirmed that “beauty” is indeed in the eye of the beholder, and that our writing says more about us than it does about the subjects we write about.

Thousands of books have influenced my thinking, and my heart. The range of personalities, paths of thought, values, writing styles, life experiences, life paths, life choices… the range of exposure has been exhilarating, fascinating, and has given me a respect for diversity and tolerance and my own ignorance, that I would not have had, had I remained within the limits of the world views in my own small context.

Life handed me some tragic circumstances. I decided to write a journal, not to record those tragedies, but to record how I felt about being alive, how I saw life, the universe, and everything. I decided to ignore how other’s judged my life, to define myself by my own values. I decided to write, not about the circumscribed world of logic, debate, argument, scholarship… but about the life in the trenches. To write not about the ins and outs of politics, and finance, and religion, and powers that rule the world, and the schools of thought that conscribe discourse, but about how all of that translates into a lived life. Life in the first person, I suppose, is what I call my journal entries.

So seldom on these pages do I enter any kind of scholarly rendition. I could if I so chose. I have been trained well to write scholarly tomes, and have done so, published them in scholarly journals, presented them at scholarly conferences. But I count my real success in life as how I have come to love myself, who I am, how I choose to live, what I choose to see in people, that I choose, above all else, “what love does”.

I continue to read a great range authors of the written word. I read blogs, and books, written by all kinds of people, pursuing different interests, living in different parts of the world, different ages, genders (more than two!), different levels of education, different languages (translated into English). They all have one thing in common, the authors are kind, thoughtful people, who know who they are, and write from the heart. It doesn’t take much to impress me, but there are few who do.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 3:00 PM EDT Sunday 29 October 2017
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 7.2°C
Dew point: 6.2°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: N 13 km/h
Visibility: 6 km


“He who pursues fame at the risk of losing his self is not a scholar.”
369 BC – 286 BC

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Bex Crowell

“John Bailey” — now I sure would like to know whatever happened to our John. Do you happen to know, Maggie? I have tried searching online for any hint at where he went or what happened and to no avail. I miss his blogs/journals (yes, Journal of a Writing Man, wasn’t it?) The Old Grey Poet, himself. Miss him. I wonder about Graham and how his illness progressed or didn’t. I guess it’s just a mystery we’ll never learn about.

Joan Lansberry

I too wonder about John Bailey, how he and his partner are doing. (Very enjoyable topic today, it’s getting close to twenty years of journalling, aka “blogging” now. I should write more, I’ve missed it.)

TopsyTurvy (Teri)

I’ve been on the internet for 24 years now. Had a journal for about 10 of those years. Sadly, three of my most active participants passed away. It was too quiet, and since things in my life had toned down a great deal it just didn’t seem worth looking for a new venue once Journalscape shut down. I’ll just have to make do with Facebook and Instagram.

Stubblejumpers Cafe

I remember first getting onto the internet and discovering online journals. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! Starting my own was just to jump in with my own web presence, and a journal used content I was already writing. You and I “met” through John’s journal. I too wonder how it all went for him and Graham. -Kate