Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Educational Book Journey (part 5) ...




The last book (for now) is titled Circling the Midnight Sun: Culture and Change in the Invisible Arctic by the Canadian geographer, writer, speaker: James Raffan.





I found this book riveting ... it's about the four million people in eight countries, speaking dozens of languages and representing almost as many indigenous ethnicities.







Yamalo Nenets -
 autonomous region
in Russia



It highlights that we (in the middle latitudes - as Raffan describes it)  may be worrying about climate change - but they (the indigenous peoples) are concerned about their loss of language, cultural decay, loss of land - which we purport to own - yet they have travelled and accessed those lands for millennia ... their lands are their home - their soul ...



Nomadic Nenets - reindeer hunters


I made lots of notes ... but as I was leant this book - I need to get my own copy ... that says it all really.







Raffan decides to circumnavigate the globe at 66.6 degrees latitude: the Arctic Circle.  He is Canadian,  but starts his journey in Iceland, and on via Norway, Sweden, Finland, various places across Russia, over to Alaska and then into Canada ...



... this is where having read Island of the Blue Foxes, as mentioned in part 2, was really helpful ... I had some notion about Siberia ... and now recognise some of the names.


Yes, I have other books on the go ... but I thought you'd be interested to know about these ... back to normal posts in the future - but more books will follow anon!


The Yamalo Nenets Autonomous Region - Russia's most important source of Natural Gas ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Educational Book Journey (part 4) ...




A biographical book ... I read earlier this year ... that has been a-lingering for me to do a brief overview of Lucy Maud Montgomery's (1874 - 1942) life ... the author behind the sparkling eyes of Anne of Green Gables.



Not having read Anne of Green Gables, nor yet knowing anything of Montgomery - this was another fascinating journey into early Canada ... dealing with Maude Lewis, the artist (in the film I'd seen at the start ofthe year) 'Maudie' and Lucy Maud Montgomery ... I was getting my Mauds muddled ...



Apart from the story ... we learn of her early life on Prince Edward Island, Lucy's prolific output, her life as she travels the female path trying to get recognition for her writings and thoughts, the male dominance and down-putting ... that was considered the woman's place in that era ...


Lucy Maud Montgomery's birthplace

... and the part I found really interesting, as I know just about nothing of the publishing world, was the introduction to this world in Canada and in the USA back in the early 1900s ... where the chauvinist world came to the fore ... to Montgomery's detriment.



Leaskdale Manse - Ontario years
 


This biography by Mary Henley Rubio has many acclaimed acknowledgements - which to my mind are completely true ... and I'd say understatements ... it's a really exceptional biography - and if any of you haven't read it ... I'd recommend you check it out.



Rubio has been so thorough ... researching all Montgomery's letters, essays, correspondence in general, diaries et al ... once the book is written - it is long, but well worth the read, she goes into an epilogue on each of the main players ... which ties up loose ends, but explains things and gives us that overview on the book's contents ...


First Edition ... written in Canada - but
published in the States ... 


... then Rubio goes into 'Acknowledgements' ... a number ... then 'EndNotes' at the completion of her publication ... subdivided by the different location eras in the book ...




... then she gives us her 'Select Bibliography' ... which as she remarks is selective ... and finally we have an index ... bliss - I do like indexes to refer to ...






A photo taken in 1935
Mary Henley Rubio's book has been highly recommended ... and I add to that - for the various reasons given above - apart from the fact that Montgomery wrote one of the more successful books that has stood the test of time ...


If you haven't read it ... I hope you'll go looking for a copy ... as I was riveted ... especially the literary forays she made, and tried to make in the world of male dominance ...


Wikipedia's entry: Lucy Maud Montgomery

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Educational Book Journey (part 3) ...




Next small world:  I went to the local garden show and put a bid in for a small art work ... and 'won'.  


Sue Coleman's print - it doesn't appear to have a title - when I
go to the studio I'll check up 
Get rung up - please come and collect ... after some shenanigans here ... I make a plan to go down for the signed print by a local artist - in indigenous style ... to be collected from a couple's house nearby.



He's there, she's in Ottawa/Toronto researching ... what an amazing home and I get shown round, shown the garden ... the view across to Mount Baker on the mainland ... and we chat about all sorts of things ...




Exeter College founded 1314


... and that Oxford connection yet again ... she's a member of Exeter College - so he was bemused to know I'd spent 10 years of my life in and around the city.



Mount Baker from the Frazier River
by Albert Bierstadt (1890) in the
Brooklyn Museum



I was admiring their art, artefacts, plants, sculptures, talking ... and me being me ... asking more of what they do - knowing I'll be out of my depth ... but again: start somewhere and the pieces will fill out slowly.






This amazing couple are anthropologists ... research consultants engaged in anthropological and linquistic work here in British Columbia and Washington State.


Their specialisation is with ethnology - the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the characteristics of different peoples and the relationship between them.




As I was leaving with my art work I was asked if I'd like to go round for a meal sometime ... of course was my answer!  I also asked if I could have a book of theirs ... so I could try and get my head round their work: that sounds so amazing.


These are the two books I was lent or given ... the Lil'wat World of Charlie Mack, and the translation of an 1895 German edition of Indian Myths and Legends from the North Pacific Coast of America.  Well I've only glanced at them ... and am treasuring them ... as someone who's very lucky.




Franz Boas', who wrote the 1895 book, has an interesting background ... I've linked across to wiki, if you wish to look ... he has been called the "Father of American Anthropology".


Cowichan girl from 1913





So I am adding voraciously to my knowledge of many things and particularly getting a brief glimpse into indigenous life ... it will be a tiny understanding - trying to relate to their world ... which has so much to offer us.


These are here to be noted as reference books should anyone be interested in further research at some stage ... but I wanted to mention them.  I'm not sure how much I'll read of them ... but know that others here might be interested.


PS I'm over in Vancouver for 2 nights ... so will get back to replying at the end of the week ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Educational Book Journey (part 2) ...




After Vancouver ... came this book:

Stephen Bown's book on Vitus Bering ... 'Island of the Blue Foxes' I found via a review in the paper ... I was enticed as it looked as though it would introduce me to Russia, Siberia, and the Bering Strait ... named for Vitus Bering (1681 - 1741) ...


... I found it fascinating and informative, especially about Siberia, the eastern side of Russia, down into China and Asia: particularly geographically and settlement-wise ... and the Europeans' early search for the Northwest passage and Alaska ...



Moving right on to more Eastern Europe -




The next book I read, having had access to one of the book club's books, was Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice by Bill Browder;



Browder's Russian tax accountant, Sergei Magnitsky, was beaten to death in prison ... the Magnitsky Act, promoted by Browder, was passed into USA law in December 2012.




I found Red Notice a really informative read - disconcerting to say the least ... but I'd worked in this sort of life in my early days in London and Robert Maxwell features in the book - another fleeting personal connection ... his home was next to my school in Oxford.




Then I was able to read Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism ... how salutary: of the world we live in today ... (by a former three-star general in the Secret Police of Communist Romania, Ion Mihai Pacepa, and law professor Ronald J. Rychlak).  There's a companion film: Disinformation: The Secret Strategy to Destroy the West (which I haven't seen).




Some of the back blurb - the sentence by
R James Woolsey is worth noting


Upcoming in the fifth post ... Circling the Midnight Sun: Culture and Change in the Invisible Arctic by Canadian James Raffan.  This I was given by the lady who'd introduced me to the book club - she'd studied nursing at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington, Oxford - where I'd been at school ... we'd just about overlapped. 





Midnight Sun, Altafjord, Norway
Small world - she'd been up in the Yukon ... so I asked if she could bring me some information back - sadly my email to her was sent as she was on her way back ... but she lent me Raffan's book, and to change the subject,  inspired me to write the post about Salmon in the Yukon from some information she had given me.



The fifth post will be about the book 'Circling the Midnight Sun' - but otherwise here I have mentioned:

Island of the Blue Foxes by Stephen Bown

Red Notice by Bill Browder

Disinformation by a former three-star general in the Secret Police of Communist Romania, Ion Mihai Pacepa, and law professor Ronald J. Rychlak


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 6 July 2018

Educational Book Journey (part 1/5) ...




Where to start ... at the beginning: in this instance my arrival here in Canada, but really the A-Zs in April - my posts on subjects in Canada, and indigenous aspects that interested me ... there will be more - but I think these books are interesting and I learnt a lot - some you'll relate to others probably not so much - but I'd like them here ... I'll 'punch' these out every other day ... they go from Siberia to North America, Russia to circling the Midnight Sun ...

The book I highly recommend.


A Vancouverite suggested I read 'Vancouver' - a one book saga if ever there was one (along the lines of Michener's Alaska and Rutherford's Sarum) ... a Siberian's movement across Beringia into Alaska and down the west coast of north America ... introducing me to various myths, traditions, cultures of those early peoples ...






Little Women - the March sisters:
some of the 1994 film was filmed
in Cobble Hill.
By Louisa May Alcott




I read up on local families too - the Dunsmuirs - coal and railways on Vancouver Island; local history of Cobble Hill, where I live now; local artists Maud Lewis from the east coast (see post in February), and Emily Carr - who'd intrigued me for a while ... recommended by Deniz Bevan, a Canadian now over in Geneva.






Then came the A-Z ... starting at A for the Canadian Arctic Games ... and oh yes the extra comments, questions and queries ... as too my thought processes re what I was learning ... I felt somewhat overwhelmed - to make sense for me, let alone you.  More on these anon.


Beringia - pre glaciation
when it was possible to
walk from Siberia to
North America

I'd joined a book club ... a rather educated set of ladies, with some amazing insights into life ... I, who've never been much of a reader, nor moved in their sorts of careers - now am in the deep end ... once again: live and learn.



 So I've fluttered by the whole of the Canadian coast (and Alaska) ... touched areas of Canada ... and come across the indigenous peoples; as in Africa I'm pretty devoid of knowledge ... so some immersion dips were required ...


Emily Carr house 'restored' back to
1863 era
... Emily Carr and her artwork of the indigenous people's lands in the 1920s - her books to be read anon; ... totems - an eyelash pass so far ... so much to understand ...


Then the thrust of the group of intelligent women in this book club - that I happened to have the opportunity to be a part of, for the duration of my visit - max til Nov 2019.



So for this post ... the book 'Vancouver', and references to earlier posts.


Emily Carr - who was called 'Klee Wyck' by the indigenous people she met and painted particularly on Vancouver Island.


Maudie film - based on Maud Lewis ... seen at Cobble Hill


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 29 June 2018

We are the World Blogfest ... # 15 - Human Flow: Refugees on the Move ...




Human flow - is, at it suggests, a lot of people on 'a path' ... desperate to escape their country, to find hope in a welcoming land, to be able to live peacefully giving their family a better deal ...
Film poster


... through the dusty, hot trails across the desert, even in a rubber dinghy of doubtful origin setting out across the Mediterranean Sea - the horrors of life without papers, without security ... and in the film we all see the hopelessness and horror these refugees go through to give themselves a chance of a life ...



I went to see the documentary film Ai Weiwei (the Chinese contemporary artist and activist) has made titled "Human Flow".


Ai Weiwei




Ai Weiwei's experience of being held in China, then getting his passport back and being able to travel - he went to Lesbos, Greece to see the refugees ... drawing on his own persecution ... and checking other refugee routes ... 




This eye opening experience led him to make the film.  He states, when the film was shown at La Biennale di Venezia, the following:

"Human Flow is a personal journey, an attempt to understand the conditions of humanity in our days.  The film is made with deep belief in the value of human rights. 

In this time of uncertainty, we need more tolerance, compassion and trust for each other, since we are all one.  Otherwise, humanity will face an even bigger crisis."


Armenian woman and
children forced  in 1915, with
many others, to flee from
Anatolia to Syria ... where are
their descendants now,
I wonder
The film was released in 2017 ... for it he visited over 20 countries ... and I've put links below - so you can read more: which I hope you will do ... even if you don't get to see the film.


Also to read up more about Ai Weiwei - which I had not realised ...





That's my contribution to #We Are The World Blogfest for this month ... it is eye opening ...


We are the World - In Darkness, Be Light


We are made to think ...

Ai Weiwei - Wikipedia article 

Human Flow - links across to YouTube 2.25 mins introduction

The Guardian article ... revealing a deeply affecting empathy for those caught in a global crisis.


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Write ... Edit ... Publish ... Bloghop: Unravelled Yarn ...




GrandDad had said 'go out and play' ... so they had - off to the coppice at the back of house ... into the shady glades, away from the glare of the midday sun.



They'd grabbed the bag of wools ... chosen different colours, pulling the balls through the trees, dashing around tying themselves and the branches in knots, creating coloured spider's webs ...






... the kids were indifferent to the talk of the saplings ... they had forgotten about the story of the old woman of the woods ... the hooks appeared from high in the canopy ...




... they were all enjoying themselves, thrusting around the under-branches, unaware of being caught on the hooks ... as they unravelled more wool determined to use it all up ...



... a piercing cry arose, then another loud shock 'aargh' ... the sisters saw their brothers dangling high in the canopy ... whaaat-was-going-on ...



... who is that cackling with croaky happiness ... two tied up with their own yarn, another two to haul in ... 'come my little delights ... ah ha, yesh ... into my web you come' ...



... all four were swinging high above ... high above ... 'granddad, granddad ...' they all called ... screaming blue murder with high pitched voices ...



Grand-Dad .... Grand-Dad ... back in the house - he suddenly awoke from his slumbers ... so pleased his grandchildren had, for once, left him alone to zizz quietly ...


... yet where did they go - oh yes into the coppice ... but what horrors lurked in the woods ... he had had a disturbing dream ... where was his wife's wool bag - the balls of wool she needed to keep her calm ...


... those kids had wandered off ... he could see the threads leading into the wood - ah well ... they'd have to unravel their play ... and he thought, if necessary, he'd have to take his wife out to get some more ... so she had something to knit with ...



That dream though ... that woman ... who was she - and where did his imagination dredge these stories from ...


He called his grandchildren - tea-time you lot ... come on in ... and they happily came across the lawn with unravelled yarn all over them ... and the dog ... Grampay guffawed with laughter, they thankfully joined in with him ... giving him big loving hugs ...


The moral of the story ... watch your afternoon naps - you never know what might be lurking in the woods ...


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories