Jane's Space

Jane's news and thoughts.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sept 21

Another play!

I REALLY enjoyed Miss Witherspoon, starring Teri Loretto, CHS theatre and improv grad ’88, tonight. ( Sept 21) The play is at Academic Hall, produced by Vision Theatre — it’s directed by John Koensgen and had other CHS people also working on it.
We laughed a LOT, all through the play. The play was smart and funny too, gotta love that. It is written by Christopher Durang, and while it surely is a play of ideas, Teri played it with just the right touch to get all the ideas across and keep us laughing. She was abetted in that by her fellow cast members, Sarah Hearn, Colleen Sutton, Matthew Domville and Nadine Thornhill. And of course, director John Koensgen. There was effective and vivid lighting by the talented Lynn Cox too. I have no photo! Oh, I wish I had one! The play runs until Sept 23.


And look at this! I am floored! I got home to an e-mail from Neil Herland, Bofa 1993, telling me he is now in charge of CBC’s United Nations Bureau in New York!! Wow! That’s huge and WONDERFUL!

Neil was part of the crazy team of ‘93, with 8 guys and 2 girls, and I especially remember a gig at GCTC, when a BOFA guy, running down the stairs to go on stage, said, “here,” and thrust his braces/false teeth into my hand for safe keeping. (Was that Rory?) On stage we had a documentary style to do, and as everyone dithered over who would be narrator, Neil took on the job. The scene was about Houdini - I remember an underwater scene and a very clever ending, and Neil pulling it all together supremely well. You might need to be Houdini to do Neil’s job now.


I got some help with this entry- thanks, Jess!

You heard about the e coli-spinach fiasco in the States?
Some now think the problem is in the fertilizer:

Canadians have been told not to eat any fresh spinach from the States.

I heard scientists/nutritionists say that many people without the proper knowledge are jumping onto the-money making opportunities of organic food, and not taking the precautions necessary to make sure the food is safe.

From the Ottawa Citizen, Sept 18:

Rick Holley, a professor of food safety at the University of Manitoba, said that over the last 30 years, there has been a constant increase in foodborne illnesses.

This rise is in part related to the rising numbers of people consuming more fresh produce on the advice of their doctors. He also noted that the distribution chain, from farm to shelf, is much longer, leaving more room for contamination.

Holley said Canadians should be aware that there is a certain amount of risk associated with each and every type of food.

"I think that there should be some concern and I think it's also important to recognize that all of the food we eat is not sterile," he told CBC.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sept 15

Unutterably sad, the Dawson College shooting.

I am right back in the BOFA ‘99 mindset, when we created our Stranger Game, looking at why and how people become alienated, and what the results can be. Tragedy. I’ll never forget everybody's pain as we went through that process, nor the driven, passionate, insightful, bruising performances that people gave in rehearsal.
The silence after the scenes.


So good to see Sheri Segal. I met her by happy accident yesterday at GCTC's ( Greg Nelson's) The Fall, which I was seeing again. Sheri is as beautiful as ever, and still a lawyer, Parliamentary Council in the House of Commons. We sat through World Trade Centre together, and each of us, after the first ten minutes, silently longed for the film to end. I suggest that you only see this film (which is well-done) if you want to feel really bad for a long time.

On the other hand, I think that Little Miss Sunshine is the funniest thing I have seen since I stopped doing BOFA. Smart too, original, I need to see it again! And again!


About gasoline -- 81.4 cents a litre- Omigod, it’s actually true! Right now, on Merivale Road in Ottawa. I haven’t seen a price like that in how many months? Years?
About my Highway 401 tire-bursting adventure - I heard nothing else from the people involved, or from the police, thank goodness.
But I now 'have' a cell phone - courtesy of my loving brother and my concerned and vehement! sister in law, bless them both! I hate what disappears with cell phones - my privacy- and so I will use it only on car trips. But I WILL have it with me then! (if I remember to bring it...)


Last night we went to the National Archives for the launch of Reluctant Genius, a biography of Alexander Graham Bell, written by Charlotte Gray.
It was so good to hear fluent, intelligent speakers, one after the other, lauding one of their own. The book should be fascinating, as “Alec" was such a volatile character. Charlotte Gray said that the book is partly about scientific prowess, partly high romance. Did you know that AGB was a teacher of the deaf?

I like to be asked, “what are you reading now?” That's one of my favourite questions. There is a small group of people who ask me that question, some young, some not... how great to talk about the books I am immersed in. There isn’t much that’s more intimate than reading an engrossing book. After all, don’t they say that the main sex organ is the brain?

Anyway, I have just finished a re-reading of the The Runes of the Earth, the first book in the series The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, by Stephen R Donaldson,( The Passionate.) I re-read the last Harry Potter this summer, was astounded by Longing, the densely-written story of composer Robert Schumann’s life and marriage to Clara Von Wieke, a tough, but compelling book by J.D. Landis; I just finished We'll Meet Again, by Mary Higgins Clark.
I am now reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by the new wunderkind, Jonathan Safran Foer, and have two books, White Teeth ( by Zadie Smith), and Bel Canto, by Anne Patchett, waiting in the wings. And now there is a new Alice Munro, and a new Margaret Atwood in the stores... and of course Charlotte Gray's book.

I have lately re-discovered the public library. Man, it's like walking into a bank and picking up all the riches you want, free! When I was a child and all through high school, I would take out 6 novels a week. (Six was the limit then.) I can do that again!!

Oh yes, I have lately read some very interesting scripts too!

Which brings me to Christie Watson. Christie has a new job. He is working with GCTC and looking for scripts from Ottawa-based writers, to be possibly developed through GCTC. So, if you are based in Ottawa, and if you write scripts, check it out soon, there could be funding involved. www.gctc.ca

Books bring me to all things Lit., for sure. Anna Humphrey had her baby last month! A beautiful girl, over 9 pounds, her name is Grace. Anna is happy and doing well. Jamila stayed to help Anna at first. I can't wait to see them all in October. I am so happy for Anna. Chris Fraser is teaching this year, and giving workshops on voice. Dave Deveau is in BC, starting work on his Master's degree in writing, and has been doing so well with his playwriting, for both screen and stage.
Laura Farina is coming to Ottawa in November to do a reading at The Royal Oak, the Tree series. You remember that she won the Archibald Lampman Award last year for her book of poetry, This Woman Alphabetical. Laura and I plan to visit.


Archibald Lampman is my favourite Confederation poet. My friend, Stuart, and I have had adventures combing the city in the wee morning hours, looking for places Lampman lived. We tried for a long time to find his resting place in Beechwood Cemetery - his poem is at the entrance of that hauntingly beautiful wooded expanse.

One sticky summer night it grew dark as we were dodging mosquitoes, trying to find Lampman's stone, walking over hillocks. We got back in the car and trundled around the islands, using the headlights to see the writing on headstones. We were suddenly discomfited to see headlights in the rear-view mirror - very close. A pick up truck was right behind us. Fearing some sort of murderer, we were confronted by a little old lady who had a shotgun in her truck. Also in the truck was her young grandson. She was following us, as cemetery caretaker, afraid that we were about to engage in intimate night-time frolics! She said that the cemetery was a favourite trysting place for prostitutes. She was eventually reassured, but we left the finding of Lampman's resting place to another day. DAY!

That's one of my Lampman stories. ( I did find it later, BTW, and amazingly it was just marked by a rock. That began our quest - why such poverty, we wondered.)


Here's one of my favourite poems by Archibald Lampman, who died so young. 37. ( He worked at the Post Office, you know.)

I imagine him sitting up in the Gatineau Hills, looking down at early Ottawa, as the first snow began:

The leafless forests slowly yield
To the thick-driving snow. A little while
And night shall darken down. In shouting file
The woodmen's carts go by me homeward-wheeled,
Past the thin fading stubbles, half concealed,
Now golden-gray, sowed softly through with snow,
Where the last ploughman follows still his row,
Turning black furrows through the whitening field.
Far off the village lamps begin to gleam,
Fast drives the snow, and no man comes this way;
The hills grow wintry white, and bleak winds moan
About the naked uplands. I alone
Am neither sad, nor shelterless, nor gray,
Wrapped round with thought, content to watch and dream


I told you all that for a good reason! there's a new worthy cause--a poet's walk in Ottawa! This is so exciting! Janice Kennedy has a two-page article in the Citizen of September 10, on the Poets' Pathway, a projected walk from Britannia to Beechwood Cemetery. Ottawa has been home to many celebrated poets -especially Lampman and fellow Confederation poets, Campbell and Scott. This trail would be 30 kilometres long, and incorporate so many places the poets roamed and wrote about. Wouldn't it be just PERFECT?? I am going to donate, www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=31222. Maybe even volunteer! Maybe you could, too!

Today, Sept. 19, Poet's Hill was formally opened at Beechwood Cemetery. It has a granite lectern for readings, and beds of flowers. Later there will be plaques of engraved poems, and a national poets' monument, says Kennedy.

Janice Kennedy ends her lovely article this way:

The meandering trail would lead from the shores of the great river that inspired the poets, through the countryside that fed their lyric creativity, to the graveyard that memorializes them.
And those who follow it, when it opens some day in its entirety, will be tracing the footsteps of departed visionaries who helped cut a green swath through the national imagination.

I want to walk that trail.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

THE FALL, GCTC, Sept 5-24.

Opening Night was great! Greg Nelson's play, the world premiere which opens the whole GCTC season this year, was tight, and full of suspense, sometimes funny, very thought-provoking, and it absolutely worked, all the way through! The acting was strong, and I loved the set and the lighting too. And the direction was excellent. Character switches were so well-done. And the play was especially well-written! Yea, everyone, way to go.

It was hot in GCTC, and crowded, what’s new, knees jammed, so many people, so much enthusiasm, but deliciously cool outside after the show was over, in the dark with a full white moon. Greg was happy- his tension over. And triumphantly so!

So many people came and they all enjoyed the play. This was a play with a Canadian political setting, a thriller around the Charter of Rights, and outside after the play, Greg was surprised and delighted to meet lawyer, Mary Dawson, who had actually drafted the Charter of Rights, and had a minor criticism. Only in Ottawa!

Greg has written many award-winning plays, and three radio series for CBC, The Dudley Chronicles, and has just finished writing Afghanada, a radio series about Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, to be broadcast this month on CBC. He wrote this in collaboration with three other well-known young playwrights-- Jason Sherman, Adam Pettle, Andrew Moodie. He is also developing a new play, as part of the Tarragon Theatre Playwrights' Unit.

I met Lise Anne Johnson, GCTC’s new A.D., and she is a sweetheart.

Before the show, Dave McCue and I went for dinner at Trattoria Caffe Italia - it's a good thing we made reservations! That place is crowded. Neither of us had a watch, and when we asked the time it was 7:55! Oops! Luckily, there was a crowd at the theatre, and it was still going in. Of course, and wonderfully, our seats were right in the centre of the theatre, and we squished through to them in time. Sorry, everyone who had to get up.

It was SO great to see Greg in his element, and meet his wife, Patti, who worked in theatre and is now practising law, and it was wonderful to see Dave again.

BTW, Greg’s play is a revised version of a shorter one he wrote, The File, which is available in a new play collection of two-handers, Two Hands Clapping.


The breakfast was on Wednesday, Sept.6! To celebrate another school year of No Staff Meeting, No Home Room, No Bells, No Attendance Sheets, No Guidance -Announcements -Every -Two- Minutes, in fact, No Classes…

It started at 9:30.

Nicole and Ron Eady, Heather Eberts, Chris Hansen, Jalna Hunt, Sue Robertson, Rick Morgan, Dave Allan, Marilyn Matthews-Dickson, Judy Kirsh, Jim McNabb, Theresa Kelly, Ross Donaldson, Marjory Bryce, Bob Palmai were some of the people there. Everyone looks FABULOUS, so rested, happy, energetic, you might even say young!

and suddenly we noticed it was 12:15 already.


Keep it dark when you sleep. Don't fall asleep with the light on, or the television on. Without total darkness your body does not make melatonin, which turns off cancer cells. Light at night is being blamed for helping create breast cancer.

During the night, the hormone, melatonin - which Dr. Blask calls " the hormone of darkness" - puts cancer cells to sleep.When women are exposed to light at night, the production of melatonin shuts down within seconds. ( Ottawa Citizen, Sept. 7, 2006)


Cancer, attention-deficit disorders, declining sperm counts- many horrible health conditions are linked to innocent everyday items. (Often not so innocent.)

Canadians carry in their bodies quantities of harmful chemicals that you can actually MEASURE.

In fact, Canadians have the SECOND-HIGHEST count of PBDEs in the world. Americans have the highest. PBDEs are flame retardants, used in mattresses and computers.

Phthalates also are DANGEROUS and are everywhere, in wall coverings, flooring, furniture, shower curtains, clothing, raincoats, shoes, toys, rainwear, some toys, shoes, etc.—as well as paint, medical equipment, pesticides, and personal care products (perfume, nail polish, hairspray).
DON'T buy plastics or vinyls with the number 3 on them, denoting phthalates.

Stain-repellent clothing, and non-stick pans are made with perfluorochemicals, which are also carried in Canadian bloodstreams. In YOURS.

DON'T wear stain-repellent clothing. Do cook with stainless steel pots, and stainless steel or cast iron frying pans. NEVER heat plastic in the microwave.

PLEASE visit www.safer-products.org. Right now, click for a fast look! It has excellent information and lists. ( The list of products containing phthalates is from that site.)
It is the web site for an environmental organization in Montreal, Clean Production Action, that evaluates products.

IKEA is a great place to buy from- so is DELL. IKEA bans many harmful substances and carcinogens. DELL bans PBDEs.
Sears, Home Depot and Walmart DO NOT.

And PLEASE tell other people.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


The SIC show at Arts Court was excellent on Friday night. The show is quite changed from its Fringe appearance, and much longer, but just as funny, just as clever. Jordan, Chelsea and Dom Paré were excellent, and Greg Cochrane gets an Oscar for his bang-on satire of the red-headed David Caruso. It was wonderful to watch him. The show was well-written and physical and tight.

The time waiting for the doors to open seemed like Canterbury Old Home Week, as Stephanie and I walked into the area outside the theatre and found Barry Karp there —and Barb Rager and Jim McNabb and soon Marjory Bryce, as well!! Steve Fisher missed the show - although he strove to get there in time, as he drove up from Toronto after his successful Fringe show, The Cuckoo. But he made it to the lobby after the show.

Picnic Scarecrow was disappointed about one thing though. They were told just before Friday’s performance that there would not be a matinee as scheduled on Saturday, because Arts Court couldn’t find anyone to handle the box office. We all thought the poor organization by Fringe/Arts Court personnel was really inexcusable.


On another note, I was so happy to see sweet Jess. Jessica Besser-Rosenberg visited me, and she is well, and is off for an exciting year in Chicago, studying Public Policy for her Master’s degree. She has quite a story to tell about gypsies trying to rob her in a laundromat in Florence. She held them off, good thing she’s a toughie!


I had a wonderful birthday that has gone on for a week! Stephanie came home this weekend to celebrate with me. I had four birthday dinners, lots of presents! And one of them is a flight to Vancouver and Los Angeles- first class! So I am pretty excited about going in November.
I will see my family and friends in Vancouver, and Martin, Levon, Hamza, Chris, Marjorie too... maybe I can even find Ed!
I haven’t been well enough to travel for a long time, and I am very excited about this trip!


There is so much about water. I am torn- I know you are supposed to drink 8 glasses a day- and I can drink close to that if I use bottled water. But now we learn that the plastic bottles are carcinogenic and all leach out carcinogens- http://www.ecologycenter.org/ptf/toxins.html ... so we shouldn't be drinking bottled water.
Never re-use one of these bottles.

Here are 2 paragraphs from http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=668:
Plastic water bottles may be convenient, but they are hazardous to your health and the environment. Many of the materials used to create plastic bottles, including lead, cadmium, mercury, and carcinogens leach into the contents of the bottle. That’s not to mention the toxins that are released into the environment during manufacturing, as well as the number of plastic bottles that litter landfills (see “Bottled Water Flim-Flam” ).
Reusing plastic bottles creates another vicious cycle of health hazards. Most plastic bottles are FDA-approved for one-time-use only, and bacteria will accumulate in the bottle after multiple uses. Cleaning and disinfecting the bottles only worsens the problem, because heat and handling helps to break down the bottles and speeds up the leaching process.

And we really shouldn't be buying water to drink, anyway. The more we buy it, the more likely that a basic human need be commercialized, totally, until we eventually have no choice but to buy drinking water.

Then there's the question of the pipes. Most pipes have all kinds of metallic residue, amongst them lead, a particularly dangerous thing to consume. Did you know that you should let the cold water tap run for minutes in the morning to flush out the lead and other elements in it? Of course heated water contains these leached chemical elements anyway, as the heat breaks them down. Always use cold water in kettles, and to boil food.

Check out: http://www.thegreenguide.com/

Did you know?
It is thought that Beethoven's deafness could have been caused by lead poisoning. An analysis of his hair recently showed 100 times the normal amount of lead in his body.