Binoculars on


photo_2Christmas was spent in Toronto. We had a wonderful time with Second Son and family; just the granddaughters’ expressive joy over their gifts alone was worth the airfare. The four-year-old’s top wish was an Elsa doll, of the Frozen movie franchise, which she duly received from her parents, as well as the Anna doll. We’d gone to see Frozen after it came out, on account of our grandchildren’s interest, and it had seemed to me that Anna, with her act of sisterly love, was the heroine of the story. I noticed that the girls of my acquaintance were more strongly attracted to Elsa, the princess who turns the kingdom into snow and ice, however. When I puzzled aloud about this, my daughter-in-law explained (and the four-year-old confirmed), “It’s because Elsa has the power.” Hmm; interesting.

While in Toronto, H. and I also went to see the Alex Colville exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario. I’m intrigued by Colville’s paintings for several reasons, not the least of which is the way they suggest stories, though not telling them as much as demanding I create them myself from what’s set in the frame. What happened? one wonders. What’s going to happen next? And why this moment?

In “To Prince Edward Island,” which was reproduced on a wall outside the exhibit for visitors to pose against (as I did above), the woman has picked up binoculars to look closely. Her pose is one of vigilance. The man behind her, though hidden and surely looking too, seems relaxed. The woman’s gaze penetrates, feels uncomfortable (if directed at me), has a sense of prescience about it. The distance and depth already traversed is vast; is past. It’s the Here and Ahead that matters.

Is her looking eager, or afraid, or steady as she goes? Are the binoculars her Elsa-like (and thus attractive) power?

“To Prince Edward Island” reminds me of the temporal space into which I’m travelling as the new year opens. Uncertainties about 2015 seem larger for me than usual me on the cusp of a new year. Nothing to do, however, but look straight into it. Like the woman in the painting does — unflinchingly.


In that spirit, I’m coming to you, for however short or long, with a new blog face. Thumbs up or down about the change are welcome.

11 thoughts on “Binoculars on

  1. Although the photo suggests a summer setting, your background has become white like the January snow and icy weather we are experiencing. These days I find myself looking back much more than looking forward. Comes with age I guess!

    • I think it must be the fact of winter, for sure.Its stark simplicity. — As for looking back, maybe that’s what the woman is doing; I don’t know enough about boats, though the title suggests “to”. — I think it’s good to turn the binoculars to the past too!

  2. I’m looking forward to your “face it head-on” blogs in 2015.The photo says it all! When I first glanced at is, I thought maybe your brother had set this up.

    I, like you, just recently watched Frozen and agree that Anna is the true heroine. I also think that Elsa has the appeal of showing “no fear” in having the power. I suspect this is very attractive to these young kids growing up in our complex world.

    • Thanks Eunice. Wish I had your and Al’s skills with a camera. Al was complimenting your work to me the other day. — Nice the way our grandkids get us into “new” stories, isn’t it!

  3. I used to do a short story writing unit with Colville’s paintings with my high school students. After looking at dozens of his paintings we brainstormed for the qualities they had in common and then the students had to pick a painting and write a short story about it that contained some of the same qualities as Colville’s paintings. He was so inspiring to young writers and high school kids especially I think were drawn to their somewhat eerie quality. I’d have loved to see the exhibit. So glad you had a chance to do so.

  4. Thumbs up on the new blog face. I like its clean simplicity. Also, I found very intriguing the comment that girls are attracted to the Elsa character in Frozen rather than Anna because “Elsa has the power.” A reflection of how our culture is socializing our children now? I wonder. Definitely food for thought. Lastly, I like the Alex Colville painting. I will look for more of his work.

  5. Love the new blog look which, in my view, Dora, suits your calm personality! Also the Colville painting with it’s “eerie” trademark is a favourite. As it happened, my husband, son & 5 year-old granddaughter (who delights in painting & drawing & art galleries!), visited the Winnipeg Art Gallery during the holiday season, too; and greatly enjoyed the amazing complexity of the Salvador Dali exhibit there. Indeed, P. & I want to revisit the exhibit before it ends.

    Re Frozen & the attraction this dvd has for little girls (including my granddaughter!), I’m quite troubled (more so after speaking with my son) by the extreme commercialization which surrounds this not so very good movie, and how whatever “power” Elsa seems to have, is exploited & cheapened by a vast array of gimmicky products seeking to boost consumerism at Christmas.

    That’s something P & I would like to shield our granddaughter from–perhaps by taking her to see exceptional paintings at the art gallery which will help to widen her world-view, and also encourage us, as you say, to look straight ahead into the uncertainties of the new year (as well as our grandchildren’s world), unflinchingly! Leona

    • Thanks for the comments, Leona, and the reminder about the Dali exhibit, and the wonder of art to bring different perspectives. — I know what you mean about commercialization, going into the local toystore chain before Christmas brought that forcibly home to this grandmother too!

  6. Hi Dora, I’m glad I found your website. I enjoyed reading your blog.
    My name is Tammy, I attended your reading with Sue Sorensen in Winkler last year or more ago.I was very interested in your research on Working Girls in Winnipeg as my grandmother was one. You suggested that I look up the Centre for MB studies. Is that where all the tapes were? Who do I ask for? which department? I would really appreciate your help Thanks, Tammy

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