straight talk from the lake

Dear Uma: Wow! the new British prime minister sure blew the whistle on how politics work! He was being interviewed on CBC just prior to the G20 and when asked if he thought these wildly costly get-togethers actually accomplished anything significant (a q

Dear Uma:

Wow! the new British prime minister sure blew the whistle on how politics work! He was being interviewed on CBC just prior to the G20 and when asked if he thought these wildly costly get-togethers actually accomplished anything significant (a question being asked by many folk all over the world).

“These meetings are important because they provide leaders with the opportunity to meet and develop personal relationships, which will help in getting important things done,” he said.

His honesty is admirable and he has confirmed what we all suspected about the true nature of politics throughout human history: it’s not what you know but who you know.

It works for me; thanks to someone I met when I was working on my last research project, I now have another one. This one I would never have heard of, let alone been able to compete for, had I not met the man whose wife owns the international corporation now in need of some specialized research. Nepotism, like any ‘ism,’ is a good thing when it works for us.

To celebrate this little surge in personal economic growth I made a huge batch of cookies for the local Bible camp and made a donation to the Vancouver Island Caged Bird Society.

The first was because of an article in the Yukon News about the summer camp; it seems it is a huge event for many of the kids in our town, an event which promotes Jesus while providing the campers with three good meals a day, a safe place to sleep, a schedule of wholesome physical activity, and daily contact with a group of adults who are interested in them. A novel experience, I understand, for a lot of kids.

The second was because I simply like esoteric organizations and good graphics. I was attracted to the lapel pin worn by a friend of Cee who is a member of the Vancouver Island Caged Bird Society; the pin is small and round, with a curling white feather on a pale blue background – very quiet, but appealing. When I inquired about the pin, he was happy to tell me about this international organization which has been in existence for over 20 years, members devoting themselves to the proper breeding, raising and care of caged birds.

On their website I found a whole new world of birds, and people who like them, all under the umbrella term of ‘aviculture.’

There are shows and meetings all over the place all the time. There are youth groups. But the fascinating part for me is, of course, the words used to describe various aspects and types of caged birds.

Lizard canaries and cut throat finches: the imagination boggles. Does the former have scales instead of feathers? Does the latter carry a weapon?

How about these bird descriptions:

Red-sided, plum-headed, white-eyed, red-fronted, scaly headed, rose-breasted, sulphur-crested and white-crowned; put them all on one bird and you’ve got the stuff of monster movies.

Upon receipt of my cheque, the VICBS will send me a pin of my own and will also keep me up to date, via e-mail, on the happenings of the society.

Speaking of caged animals, the annual horse show is coming up, a local event I support by attending just long enough to eat a hamburger and a large plate of fries while watching horses and riders move slowly around the ring. It is said they are doing things while circling the area, and I am assuming this is true because there is a judge watching them and making notes. Whatever they are being judged on is a mystery to me; the only visible action is when one of the beasts defecates.

And speaking of horses, in honour of your coming visit I have purchased new bedding for the guest room. There is an article called a “bed in a bag” that outfits the bed all from one large package, which contains a comforter, pillowcases, a fitted bottom sheet and a top sheet. This is a good concept for someone like me who has no more talent for matching bed clothes than she does in matching her own clothes.

Why can’t they make ‘outfit in a bag’? A bag for each occasion; it’s a great concept for some hungry entrepreneur. Five bags for each work day, weekend bags for when one stays home and weekend bags for various sports activities. Wedding bags, one bag per member of the wedding party, grad bags, travel bags, party bags that come with their own bag for those who may overindulge. Bags for those engaged in illicit affairs, containing protection and lists of proven alibis. The possibilities are endless.

In a world that features dinners in a bag and booze in a bag, surely it is time for clothing in a bag. Each outfit could be complete, from underwear to shoes and a purse, with appropriate jewellery and other necessary accessories. I could totally get behind this idea; it would save me hours of anxiety. There have been events I have missed due to an inability to come up with what feels like appropriate clothing. I live in the wrong time; those eras where robes were the everyday apparel for everyone would have been ideal for me, preferably robes with hoods and a veil.

The new mayor and council are doing their job in some respects, at least in our neighbourhood. Some yards seem tidier; there are fewer loose dogs, and less dog noise. The messy yards and the noisy dogs that remain would seem to be exempt from the bylaws, possibly nepotism at work again.

Thank you for celebrating Canada Day for me; I marked the day with a glass of wine, but the cold and rain prevented me from going to Lucky Lake to partake of the festivities. CBC radio broadcast some of the music from the party in Ottawa, and the television news acknowledged the Day, but I wish I could have been in California with you for your fireworks. We don’t have fireworks here for the simple reason it doesn’t get dark enough for them to show up against the sky; any pyrotechnical display would look like emergency flares rather than the indication of a celebration. Fireworks here are at their finest on Halloween.

Pete is being a little less than enthusiastic about Juan coming with you for the visit. It’s odd, isn’t it? How we can like someone perfectly well until that person moves into another position in our lives. Pete was fine with Juan as a man who worked for you, but he is having trouble with the idea of Juan as your lover.

He misses Andrew; they were as close as men get, sharing a lot of thoughts and feelings, and trusting one another absolutely. I don’t know why Andrew seems to have dropped Pete, though he’s also dropped everyone else from his former life. Maybe his feeling of guilt is such that he thinks he ought to leave the friends to you, along with everything else. Frankly, Uma, I am worried about him, and so is Pete; no one is hearing anything from him and that concerns me.

Once my anger subsided, I remembered that I love and miss Andrew, too, and this last year has, in hindsight, seen behaviour utterly alien to the man we all knew and cared for. I am wondering now how much of his affair was an indication of someone who was worried, or depressed, or even ill.

Don’t think I am turning against you, Uma; I am merely wondering if it isn’t time for some calm discussion about how we are all feeling now, and if it isn’t time to reach out to Andrew and let him know he hasn’t lost everyone he cared for.

You moved on quickly, and I am moving with you, but we need to acknowledge the recent past and make some kinder, gentler sense of it now.

None of this means Juan is unwelcome; he definitely is, and Pete will be good with it, you know he will. We both look forward to getting to know him better.

See you soon!



Heather Bennett is a writer who lives in Watson Lake.