Happy New Year!

Before 2017 disappears completely, let me wish everyone who reads this a safe and happy new year. A couple of comments on the way out….

  • I posted 11 times this year. I just counted and I’m surprised. I thought I’d done better than that. Maybe I can average once a month in 2018! 🙂 I still enjoy stopping by Borrowing Bones now and then, and I hope you do too.
  • I’m venturing a new blog, which will be more niche, more specific, than this one. Chronicles of Aging, I’m calling it, with the intention to post out of my experience of being in the last quarter of my life. I’m not old-old, but old nevertheless. Writing will be a way for me to notice and share what I observe in the process. I plan to post more frequently than here, but have determined to keep the entries short, 300 words max. I invite you to check it out, and if it’s your niche or interest, to follow or, if you prefer not to get email notifications, to bookmark the site.
  • I didn’t get around to a “best of 2017” list of books but I recently enjoyed Rose Tremain’s The Road Home. It’s been a while since I felt myself so drawn into and rooting for a character as I did with Lev, a widowed fortyish immigrant to London from a formerly communist country. Tremain is a superb and deeply empathetic writer. As for movies, I recommend we “Wonder,” an important story about bullying and courage and good parenting. I’ll call these the best of the year and leave it at that.

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton in Vancouver

My daughter and I joined a crowd of some 5000 at the convention centre in Vancouver this morning/afternoon to hear Hillary Rodham Clinton. We’ve both been Canadian fans of hers and were very disappointed when she lost the U.S. election just over a year ago; an evening that we thought would be a celebration of the first woman president turned into a long walk in the crisp night air to process our disbelief and emotions.

I’m not posting here to stump for Hillary in retrospect, however, but just to tell a little about today’s event from my perspective–because it was great fun and inspiriting too. We arrived soon after the doors opened 9-ish, though it didn’t start until 11:30. A long line had already formed around the building. We secured the closest spots possible in the cavernous hall, in the Silver section, also known as the Somewhat Cheaper Seats Where You Don’t Get a Copy of the Book. But no problem, I’ve already read the warm and very honest memoir, What Happened, and enjoyed it. For the next hours we hung out together, talking and reading and chatting with folks seated around us. The woman next to me had a HRC figurine in her purse. She kept it on her desk, she said, for inspiration I presume. So, without direct access to Hillary herself we photographed the figurine in the blue pantsuit, and the poster!

 

The poor tenor who opened for her — he had such a fine voice but one, two, three songs in… Well by four and then five songs a bit of groaning was audible; we’d come to hear Ms Clinton after all, but after five numbers she did appear, in a pantsuit of course (black and white) and we could settle back and listen to the woman herself. She had some nice things to say about Canada, where she started this book tour and is ending it, including a big compliment for gender balance in the federal cabinet.

When people ask her if she’s okay after her loss (in spite of winning the popular vote), she says “As a person I’m okay, it’s America I’m concerned about.” She offered four points to remember:

  1. If you’re knocked down, get back up.
  2. The only way to get sexism out of politics is to get more women into politics.
  3. The forces at work in the 2016 election are still with us. (A whole chapter of her book concerns Russian involvement in the election via cyber attacks of all kinds that seek to turn people against each other–“the new Cold War.”)
  4. There is no such thing as an alternative fact. Democracy requires a well-informed electorate.

After her opening remarks HRC responded to questions from emcee Bob Rennie on everything from last night’s election in Alabama (“for me a turning point…I’m heartened, but we have to keep at it…”) to what she would have done differently if she was elected (a whole list of things) to the threat of nuclear war (“nuclear weapons still my biggest fear”) to Jerusalem (“you don’t give your leverage away”) to media and ‘fake news’ (“we’re awash in fraudulent information”) to how she maintains resilience and focus.

Hillary Clinton seemed relaxed, was often humourous. She got a lot of support in laughter or applause from the audience. In reference to the current president’s twitter habit: “A lot of the tweeting may be [due to] an excessive amount of Diet Coke. [reportedly up to 12 a day.] Who knows what that does to a brain?” As far as what keeps her resilient she said it was her faith, and her family. She told the story of her mother’s remarkable spirit and example in spite of a very difficult childhood. She also spoke of the courage she’d seen in people in dire situations during her travels as Secretary of State.

“I’m an optimist,” she said, “hoping we’ll get back into balance [as a country]” But it won’t happen without effort, she said. She meets many people in book signing lines who tell her, “I’m so tired.” Tired of fighting for the right, resisting wrong, trying to make the world better for people. Her answer to us on this point was from Scripture, “Do not grow weary doing this good work, for in due time we’ll harvest what we’ve sown.”

“We’ll have to do that for a couple years yet,” she said. “But when we take our country back, everyone can have a glass of chardonnay!”download

 

Because of Travel

H. and I don’t travel a lot but when we do, it directs my reading.

We took a long-wished-for tour to Spain/Portugal/Morocco this fall, a 4000-kilometre bus ride (with stops of course) that gave us a wonderful overview of three countries. Impressions and bits of experience, such a tour, which both satisfied curiosity and provoked it. Before we went I tried to find books that might provide points of recognition once there, and since returning have enjoyed several books in which the same happens in reverse. Reading, in my opinion, is travel too, the mind not bound by flights or time, but when text and tour overlap in short order, well, it’s a bonus.

So, for what it’s worth, recent reading because of travel. Continue reading