Alanis Obomsawin

You may remember from a previous post, the realization I made a few months ago, that the biographies section of my book collection was quite narrowly dedicated to portraits of Americans, especially American women.

I would therefore like to introduce you to Alanis Obomsawin, who among many professional endeavours, is a Canadian documentary filmmaker who has lived most of her life in the province of Quebec and who celebrated her 85th birthday August 31. Since 1967, she has documented First Nation experiences through her films. To my utter shame (especially considering that her most renown work is a documentary about the Oka Crisis), I learned about her only very recently through the below 2016 podcast from the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF):

Listen to Alanis Obomsawin on Why We Need to Listen More from TIFF UNCUT in Podcasts.

[I believe the animated film she refers to at the end is the short Four Faces of the Moon by Amanda Strong.]

I love her message that all her documentary work begins by listening to people.

Favourite quotes:

“Time is the greatest gift you can give someone.”

 “Everybody is important, every human being, everybody has a gift and you have to apply it. You’re here for a reason, find the best in you and express it.” (Video)

You may stream, free of charge, 22 of her 50 documentaries on the National Film Board (NFB) site. Canadian libraries may also hold some of her work in their collection.

Here’s also, an interview on the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) network from February 11, 2017 (starting at 21:22 ending at 32:33). Interviewer is Adrian Harewood.

And yes Adrian, I think she looks gorgeous too.

 

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Nova Scotia Vacation

I know I’ve been pretty silent over the past few months. I let my job overtake my life from January to June. At the beginning, I felt trapped in high self-expectations, as well as implicit expectations my staff, my colleagues and my boss. Later on, working on projects I enjoyed more, and as long-term initiatives succeeded, I just rode the wave of truly enjoying my job for the first time in many, many years.

I knew the situation was not ideal, which is why I did not delay my summer vacation. I needed time to let go of work, chill, and look at other venues for my creativity and problem-solving skills.

To this end, I went on a one week trip with a good friend from university. We live in two different countries so we meet up every once in a while somewhere we think we would enjoy visiting. This year, we landed on the East coast of Canada. It was the second time I visited its main city – Halifax – so we went further and day tripped to Lunenburg and Mahone Bay and also spent a few days in Cape Breton (Ingonish and Baddeck), with a rainy day trip to Sydney.

Visual Highlights

Halifax Public Library

I fell in love with its new downtown building, opened in December 2014.

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And especially its rooftop café (other café on entrance floor).

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Halifax Public Gardens

And returned to visit an older love…

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Construction

Encountered quite a few construction sites, so we, unfortunately didn’t venture all the way through the Cabot Trail. (But we didn’t lose our cool with a poor employee at the Tourism Bureau, like another tourist did, claiming he had encountered seven construction sites and would never had come had he known.)  We may not have either come to think of it, but try hard not to yell at people with no control over a situation.

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Double Rainbows (but only caught one in my pics)

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Middle Head Trail

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Ingonish Beach

Best, soft sand ever and gorgeous to walk in, in spite of the coldish water.

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Green Cove Trail

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A Shopping Find

I like to shop when I travel but I had very little space in my suitcase (expecting hot, cold and rainy weather will do that). I was charmed by this place however (apologies to vegans, vegetarians, and animal rights defenders), situated on the Cabot Trail between Baddeck and Ingonish.

Leather Works by Jolene

Innovative work done in supple leather in many different colours. I bought a dark brown backpack (not yet featured on the site), that I absolutely love for its finished look and practicality. It was also at a very good price ($160) considering the other bags I had seen at Rudsack ($328?!) and Roots ($250).

The store only had blue backpacks when I visited, so the saleslady encouraged me to go online to purchase. When I didn’t see it, I enquired by email  and Jolene helped me order one easily (including showing me a picture), with the addition to a reasonable shipping fee.

Leather Works add sales tax to Canadian order, but also ships internationally, with no tax added.

Last Vacation Thoughts

Weather was really hot in the city and pretty cold in Cape Breton, especially at night with two rainy days. I would think July might be a better weather time to visit.

Have a great week!

 

 

Lost Boys of Summer

April announced the start of the baseball season. It used to be a magical time for me. Between the late 70s and early 2000s, I was a devoted fan of my hometown Major League team.

I started being interested in sports when I was four years old upon realizing that, if I watched a hockey game on TV with my dad, I could spend more time  with him watching that one game than I did in an entire week.

Then my uncle came into the picture and I was sold. I had many years of fun talks with both over line ups, trades, decisions of the coaches and amazing plays.

In those years, baseball games were on TV only on the weekends. The rest of the time, if you wanted to follow a game, you listened on the radio. To this day, I remember that the first sign of Spring for me was to hear the familiar voices of the baseball announcers calling the Spring training matches. The sound of the bat hitting the ball for a home run, the cheers of the crowd – indelible memories.

I attended matches too. My first when I was eight years old, just before the team moved to a bigger and colder stadium. In 1993, I was in the stands with my dad when they retired my favourite player’s jersey. He had gotten free tickets (my dad is quite a cheap wad).  It was a memorable event. I missed not having my uncle there though.

The 1993 and 1994 seasons were amazing for my team. Then it went it hell in a hand basket with a players’ strike, a fire sale of all our best players, my uncle being diagnosed with cancer and passing away three months later. For these and other reasons, 1995 was one of the worst years of my life. My sport interest waned but I still waiting anxiously for April, for the sounds, for the hope, for the cheers, for a while…

The last hometown match I attended was just before leaving the city in 2003. I went because close friends invited me. Convinced by the team’s bad management that the team was doomed to move away, not longer benefiting from fun chats with my uncle, I had stopped caring. Instead of waiting for the team to leave me, I had left the team.

In February 2012, my favourite baseball player of all time passed away. Way too young, just like my uncle. In watching retrospective video clips of his career, I cried and cried. I cried for the loss of a sports hero, for the loss of my team a decade earlier, for the loss of my enthusiasm for sports  and, again, for the devastating loss of my uncle.

I’m sure you all know by now that life is very different from sports. The winners and losers aren’t clearly distinguishable, and more often than not, there is no next season to make things better.

We simply keep on.

Mighty Be Our Powers

Last month I mentioned looking forward to reading the book Mighty be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War by Leymah Gbowee. It was a quick read, which is unusual for me as I always seem to put all kinds of work and my Twitter American politics addiction, before m y reading pleasure.

I expected to be inspired by this book, considering its author’s journey and life changing accomplishments, but I didn’t expect to like her so much. After all, we come from very different backgrounds, and I’ve been allowed the privilege of making much different choices when it comes to marriage and child bearing.

One of my favourite quotes from the book: “…my image of wealthy white women was that they had one child, if any, and gave all their attention to their dog.” It was of course a comment coming from the new perspective that becoming a rich white woman’s friend gave her.

I would recommend it for its realism and hope.

8/10

Lecturisme I

Premier texte complètement en français (il était temps ?) J’ai choisi un sujet facile, une autre série de romans policiers qui m’a amenée dans la fabuleuse ville de Paris, cette fois écrite par Fred Vargas (vrai nom Frédérique Audoin‑Rouzeau).

Découverte il  a plusieurs année, cette écrivaine sous un nom de plume, a créé, au cours de 24 années (1991-2015) une série avec comme protagoniste, le Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg.

Les histoires sont souvent à teneur psychologique et donnent plus de place à la déduction que la violence, ce que j’apprécie.

Fait intéressant, le quatrième roman est situ au Québec (Sous les vents de Neptune). Adamsberg loin de Paris, n’est cependant pas à son meilleur.

Journée internationale de la femme 2017 International Women’s Day

La Journée internationale de la femme 2017 est à nos portes et plusieurs publications offrent de l’information sur des femmes remarquables. Je trouve dommage que notre société requiert encore une occasion spéciale pour mettre en lumière des consoeurs, mais bon.

En regardant mes lectures passées (gros merci à Librarything) je me suis aperçue que les femmes que j’admirais et desquelles j’ai lu des livres étaient, à part Thérèse Casgrain, des américaines (Sonia Sottomayor, Ellen DeGeneres, Hillary Clinton, etc.) [ndlr le livre Thérèse Casgrain, la gauchiste en collier de perles présente clairement la tranche de la vie féminine avant l’obtention du droit de vote au Québec et les efforts répétés de Mme Casgrain pour l’instituer.]

J’ai alors tristement réalisé que mon univers de modèles, fictifs et réels, était non seulement limité, mais aussi complètement favorablement biaisé envers nos voisins du Sud. (Les raisons pourraient sûrement être étudiées pour produire un billet futur.)

C’est pourquoi j’ai voulu prendre un peu de temps pour sortir de mon carcan et présenter une femme vivant dans un univers complètement différent de mon privilège.

“You can never leave footprints that last if you are always walking on tiptoe.”

Leymah Gbowee

I first saw this saying at a Women’s Day cocktail I attended in my last job, and it stayed with me. (It helped that they were handing out magnets with the sentence written on it. ;-))

I was a tad embarrassed by the fact that I didn’t know anything about Leymah Gbowee and quickly looked for information about her endeavours. She is someone who made quite a difference around her, so much so that she won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 – one of only 16 women who have won the prize since 1901.

Born in Liberia in 1972, site of two civil wars between 1989 and 2003, she overcame domestic abuse to organise a women’s movement (Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace). This group’s efforts to engage rebel factions in the peace process, was instrumental in ending her country’s last civil war.

Her biographical book, Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War (2011) is next on my reading list.

Cosmetic Products Sleuthing

After weeks of international bad news and difficult posts, I’ve decided to write about a  lighter and more fun subject.

For the last few years, I’ve been on the lookout for reasonably priced facial and body products which contain less harmful chemicals, yet work extremely well. (Yes, I’m a demanding consumer.)

My first information source was the EWG’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database. It’s American and consumers from other countries may not be able to find all the less chemically-based products it analyses. As well, even if a product is found in your country, it may not contain the same ingredients. Still, it’s a good place to start if you’re looking for information on a certain class of products, or if you’re considering buying a particular brand.

In addition, I look at Beautypedia. Created by Paula Begoun and her team, it gives access to a searchable database of products and, above what the EWG database offers, presents reviews on how they work and rates them based on efficacy. You will also see too Paula’s Choice brand products sold on her site but in spite of this, you can find amazingly helpful information on competing products.

I first encountered Ms. Begoun’s work by reading the book Don’t go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, now in its 9th Edition and offered for sale on her site as well as on Amazon US and Amazon CA. I learned from this book, as well as through her interviews, that more costly cosmetic and beauty products aren’t necessarily the best for your skin (most hold a lot of fragrance for instance) and that you can find similar quality in less known brands, which also often happen to be more reasonably priced.

Some of my great finds include my new favourite skin care brand — CeraVe®. I came across this brand as I was looking at reviews on different sites for a new night cream and kept seeing how cream X did not beat their CeraVe® product, so I got curious. Beautypedia gives the brand high marks all around.

My must haves now include the Hydrating Cleanser (I used the Foaming Facial Cleanser in the summer, but winter is harsh here so I switched), the Eye Repair Cream and the Moisturizing Lotion which I use on my face and body. Again in the summer, the Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM for normal to oily skin was great for my mixed skin, but didn’t cut it in winter.

Sleuthing for good cosmetic products takes enormous amounts of time. I’ve been doing this for many years, and hope to discuss here other of my reasonably priced and healthy great products in the coming months, which may, hopefully, answer one or more of your needs.