Jane's Space

Jane's news and thoughts.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Sheri Segal was a member of wild Bofa 1992. Sheri was also a writer in my Writer's Craft class, and I delighted in her quick wit and acerbic, self-deprecating humour. She graduated from Ryerson in Journalism, and now, with a law degree, she practises in the Parliament of Canada. You need a sense of humour there, I have no doubt.
Occasionally Sheri and I get together, maybe go to a movie, and her stories still make me laugh. She still loves to write. I asked her to contribute to www.bofa.ca. Sheri is generous, and she agreed. Soon her column will be on that page.

So, here is a special treat for you:


So Jane asked me to write a little blog for her page. This is flattering, given that I have done no writing (excluding personal e-mails, legal opinions and legislation) over the course of the past few years. And while I will admit that I have a lot to say via e-mail, should much of what I have to say be published in this ever-so public of forums, I will likely be disowned, dumped or fired (though if I had to choose one…Wait. Never mind. See? This is why I am always in trouble).But I have come up with a solution of sorts. I will lie. I mean, write fiction. Sometimes. You won’t know. This way I will still be able to see my nieces and collect a pay cheque. I will always say nice things about my boyfriend though, because he will be reading this little blog thing and also, because he is perfect. Even though the rest of the contents will be fiction. Maybe.

Another obstacle I am facing has to do with the fact that I am not even sure that I remember how to write like a normal person. Most legislative drafters I know generally end up writing things that are
a) in the form of a list;
b) boring to the reader; and
c) mostly incomprehensible.

Because that’s what we do.

But I like my job. Sure, I am no Matthew or Stephanie or Martin, doing fun, interesting creative, meaningful things, but still, I work for Parliament and some people find that very interesting. Like my mom (not to brag, but my mom also happens to think that I am very smart and funny). People who are very passionate about a particular cause (or who are passionate about being passionate about a cause) also tend to find my job interesting. These people, generally friends of friends, take great pleasure in bringing up their plans for social reform at parties and on car trips. They too apparently have mothers who think that they are very smart and interesting.

Recently, I was approached by a very earnest individual who really wanted to talk to me about his plan to help the children (in situations like this, people seem to overlook the fact that I am not an elected member of Parliament). He told me about the little organization he was planning to start and in the same breath told me about the group’s first priority – to make it illegal to download child pornography. So devoted to his cause (helping the children) was he, that he was actually sad to find out that it is already illegal to download child porn. "Oh no!" he said when I told him the happy news that the children were already being helped "how awful. We really wanted to do something for the children.” I thought it inappropriate to suggest that the best thing he could do for the children (and the rest of us) was not to have any of his own. I might have suggested it in another circumstance though, for example had we been more than twenty minutes into our four-hour car ride. Speaking of helping children, it is very bad when people drink when they are pregnant. Sometimes their babies come out really stupid.

Coincidentally, I had the pleasure of sitting in front of a large group of middle aged, drunk women at the Jann Arden concert the other night (that’s right, Jann Arden). Listening to them talk through the whole event was really so much better than listening to the concert though, as they were talking about menopause, a subject everyone finds super-fascinating. Really? A heat flash you say? Honestly, we were in a hockey arena. Who wouldn’t want a heat flash?I analogize talking during a concert to snacking on freshly popped microwave popcorn in a nice restaurant -- even if you are so tacky that it won't affect the enjoyment of your own meal, everyone around you will be affected due to the smelliness of aforementioned popcorn. Now that I think about it, I guess talking through a concert is also analogous to talking through a movie. Or smoking on a bike path. Or eating pickles in the car. Okay, maybe not that last one, but passenger pickle pecking is particularly pernicious to my personal driving pleasure.

Jann was brilliant though. She is a painter and a storyteller. Her songs are meaningful and poetic (No, they don’t all rhyme), her voice is beautiful and pure, and she is hilarious (that’s right. HILARIOUS). If I could choose a sister, I would choose her (though I will take this opportunity to remind my real sister, should she stumble upon this blog, to kindly refer back to the FICTION rule, above). I also saw Final Fantasy in concert last week. (I feel a need to share this not only because of how incredible this guy is, but because I do not want to be classified as one of those easy-listening chicks. I happen to be very hip)(seriously. I am easily the third-hippest in my lunch and learn group)(and there are almost eleven of us). Final Fantasy is also brilliant and creative and modest and adorable. In fact, if I could choose a boyfriend, I would choose him (though I will take this opportunity to remind my real boyfriend to please refer back to what I just said to my sister. This is FICTION.)

So that’s it for now. Talk to you soon.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A blog about Spring.

Ahhh. Now it’s Spring. Tulips are shooting up, the smells of fresh paint and cigarette smoke are wafting from next door, as my neighbour spruces up her garden, I’m counting blooms, checking the signs of life returning to the land, beauty coming back… daffodils are opening, people are visiting from school, it's hockey play off time. I have seen more games this year than any time ever. These finals are absolutely wrought with anxiety. Here's why:

And then there are the Senators! Seven p.m. arrives and I start to get restless, then I realize why - there is no game tonight. Can you believe it, me? I have learned a lot about hockey from watching my grandson learn to play. Yes, this is him, his team winning first place for his level in the league.

Two ravens –they are so big I swear they must be ravens – keep zooming my roof, swooping low as they approach the window in front of me. Howling winds, temperatures of 23, 25, just as I was about to despair – 16 centimetres of snow a week ago, 15 degrees two days later.

What a glorious day Saturday was! My friend and I went to a new documentary, A Heard of Poets, about Ottawa poets – there must have been 30 or more, reciting and performing in all kinds of Ottawa venues. It is Writer’s Festival time in Ottawa, and how wonderful to see hundreds of people in the Library at the National Archives, for poetry!

After we parked at the Archives we walked to the back to look at the river and we were suddenly in the woods, right there in downtown Ottawa. We watched chipmunks and a squirrel in the sudden silence- and two Downy Woodpeckers rapping on the trees, and butterflies – so many butterflies, black and white, suddenly swooping toward us, one at a time. Another island of peace and nature in the heart of the city. Ottawa is so beautiful.

After the film we had dinner at the lovely Keg on Richmond, the one in a heritage home beside a walled garden, Maplelawn. The patio wasn’t open, but we could see the river glinting outside, and the 21-degree air was soft, and our skin was loving the sunshine on the way in. After dinner we went to a choral concert at the Unitarian Church. That church is warm and lovely with its redwood exterior and its high spire –and it is such a generous church. Three choirs sang, and as we sat in the angled wooden pews, looking out through two walls of glass at the trees and water beyond, the sky was everywhere. I watched it slowly deepen, and at intermission the two walls of sky were solid deep blue and green, a beautiful counterpoint to the red carpets and wooden pews. The third choir stood in front of the blue-green sky with the soft church light glowing in front, and the sky slowly darkened. It was living art – a feast of sight and sound.

I had spent the morning working in the garden, in the sunny blue… a perfect day. Surely Spring has arrived in Ottawa!


So let me tell you more about the Poets’ Pathway. We had the reading/party I told you about, and it went wonderfully.

To our delight, Clive Doucet came. He is a super poet and a fine writer, and an excellent human being. He is even that most impossible of beings, an excellent politician. He has been a city councillor for years. I had brought a book of his poetry, Canal Seasons. I had been struck by his synthesis of poetry and rowing, and by his statements about how poetry was meant to be seen outside in the community, and I was going to read his thoughts and some of his work out loud. But he read his own poems, since I had them there! I was so glad I had brought his book!

Other poets read their work, and we read some very famous, and some not-so-famous poems, and gave Archibald Lampman his due, and Wilfred Campbell too. Jodi sang Joni Mitchell, in her glorious soprano, and Erwin read a poem in Flemish, and we had breaks for wine and food and chat. I read a poem by Kurt Vonnegut that Jehan had sent me, and Clive Doucet initiated a discussion about the tribute that the Globe and Mail published when Vonnegut died. A tribute that did not adequately reflect Vonnegut's passion or importance or voice.

And here it is. my exciting news! At our first break, Clive Doucet told me that he intends to support the Poets' Pathway and bring a motion to City Council. We were stunned! How fantastic! To make matters even better, the NCC has just published a list of NCC lands to be saved, and all the lands the Pathway has been fighting for are there. The Poets' Pathway Committee has been fighting for these lands for many years, long before I came on the scene, and we are now working with fervour to do all we can to make the Pathway happen.


I have some more news – look who visited. Robin and Cari. They both seem wonderful. Not changed at all since they were together on BOFA three years ago!

Robin was on his way to New York to perform with his class, the new LAMDA graduates. And Cari was on her way to perform in an improv show at Canterbury. Cari won the Johnson Heart Award at the games. Her coach was Dan Lajoie. Canterbury’s coach was Jeff Lawson. Funny. Jeff and Dan were competing in the Games in the mid nineties. Now they are competing in the Games as coaches.

Speaking of Dan and Jeff, here is a picture of Kurt and Christie after we went out for dinner.

And I forgot to put this photo up earlier – so here is Steve Fisher, with a new skill in hand…

And of course, since it’s spring , people are graduating. Trisha Allison has her final LAMII show in Montreal, May 24, 25, 26. I am looking forward to going, with my triumvirate.

And Chris Cochrane is graduating too! Look at these photos of Chris and Hamza sent by Hamza – who only has one term to go at Studio 58!


I saw Jim’s show - Fallen Angels - it’s funny and sweet and gorgeous - at OLT. And Helen’s Necklace at GCTC. I especially enjoyed Jason Jazrawi who played the roles Raoul played in Toronto — and there was a musician, Amir Amiri, who made wonderful music throughout the play, playing cymbals with a violin bow… and a dulcimer.
Although this seems to be a dreadful pun, it isn’t meant that way - Scorched at the NAC was a searing piece of theatre.
I am looking forward to seeing Christie Watson in She Stoops To Conquer this month. Christie is playing Kate Hardcastle, and I love Restoration comedies, especially this one. Seems to me they are hilarious just as they are- I wonder why Christie is cast as a girl.

A few words about Health and the Environment.

Every day new "discoveries" are filling the news. I have to say that most of them I was reading about in the 60's... but look at the news about salt! Hey, pay attention! There would be 25% fewer heart attacks if people cut down on the salt that is loaded onto everything. Studies say so.

And the news about Bisphenol A! I already told you about that one, a few blogs ago. You should definitely check out this one again. This is the chemical in hard plastics that affects your hormones. Even a tiny bit does.

And then there’s the furor these days about plastic bags. Remember when I wrote about trying to remember to ask for paper bags in grocery stores? Now it’s second nature! Amazing how everyone is leaping into this fray, yea! I don't understand why paper bags in grocery stores is not the default choice. People should have to ask for plastic bags.
There are a few things I do which make me feel "good" - hanging out the laundry, making pickles, and now using brown paper bags for groceries, and putting them out to be recycled.