Friday, 28 November 2008

My Photo

My friend Lisa over at Mistaken Identity has added her photo, so I decided to follow her example and add mine. Now you can see who I am. Yes, that's me, all hot and sweaty out for a winter race February 2007 about -14C plus wind chill.

One Native Life by Richard Wagamese Mushkotay Beezheekee Anakwat

"That's what this journey is all about - to learn to express yourself as whom you were created to be."
was raised in foster homes and by his adoptive family till he struck out on his own at 16. He was rootless and searching for a sense of belonging.
During his life so far, he has met a wide variety of people who have had significant impacts upon him. This book shares these glimpses into his life and the significance of these people.
A pivotal point seems to occur when he meets John Thunder Rock, who teaches him that first you have to be a good human being. Through that he will learn to be a good man. Only then can he be the good Indian that he has always wanted to be. That it isn't the wearing of Indian clothing that makes him into a good Indian.
There are dozens of shaping moments/messages contained within these covers. Many brought tears to my eyes and a catch in my throat. Particularly the passage when Richard meets his grandfather for the first time. I can't even imagine the impact that would have had on him. It did cause me to reflect on my relationship with my grandparents and the varying roles they have played in my life and my development.
This book is best read in little bits, each section savoured and enjoyed. Meditate of them if you chose. I had to rush through as I borrowed it from the library, but I will be ordering my own copy to which I plan to add my own comments and a few photos that were brought to mind by the reminiscences.
There is so much wisdom contained within the pages of "One Native Life" that I know I will be coming back to various passages again and again. With a lot of help and guidance, Mr. Wagamese or Mushkotay Beezheekee Anakwat (Ojibway for Buffalo Cloud) seems to have found peace with his past and is most comfortable in his skin. He has definitely become the Indian that John Thunder Rock knew was lurking inside all along. I feel privileged to have had Richard's life and experiences shared with me.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

All my Relations

I really did make a post today, but I had started it as a draft a few weeks back and when I clicked on publish, it was posted back on the day that I had started it instead of right here. arg.

So here's the link, or you can scroll down.

All my Relations: An Anthology of Contemporary Canadian Native Fiction ed. by Thomas King.

This is my 3rd bock for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Can you be reading too many books at one time?

It just might be true that I am reading too many books at the moment. Now why would I think that?

First, there is the book of short stories by assorted authors. For each new author I have to do some research and find out who has created this story. Only then can I read the associated pages.

Then there is the book of short stories/passages all by one author. Not meant to be read continuously but rather read one by one and savoured.

Of course there is the novel that would really benefit from longer periods of un-interrupted reading. Now where do I find that time when I am continually picking up the other books, both of which are from the library and will soon need returning.

And then to make matters even more murky, I picked up another book from the library that I had been wanting. I hadn't meant to start reading it. I couldn't hurt to peek in the front cover, and maybe then to check out the illustration over the page. I should really finish that chapter. eeks.

And then while I was out, the library called to say that next book I requested was in and I could pick it up right away...

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Medicine River by Thomas King

After his mother passes away, Will decides to return home to Medicine River, Alberta. Once there he meets up again with Harlen Bigbear and his life is never the same.

Harlen knows everyone and doesn't mind adding his helpful suggestions in any situation. He introduces Will to all his relations on the reserve as well as dozens of others. Harlen is not content to sit back and watch others live their lives, he wants to be part of them, he wants to help. This gets Will involved with many more members of the community. It doesn't take long for Will to become an integral part of the society.

Mr. King has a wonderful story telling ability. He takes ordinary, everyday events and turns them into occasions. When Will and Harlen are looking for a gift for South Wing, they could have driven straight to Martha Oldcrow's. But no, add the adventure of going off roading, stripping and wading across the river, and now you have a story worth repeating for generations. Did I forget about Will dunking Harlen?

My favourite part of the novel occurs when Harlen convinces Will to offer a "special" for family portraits. When he agrees to do Joyce Blue Horn's family photo, he's figuring on wife, husband and kids. By the time the Shoot is completed it has included an excursion to the river where the 50+family members, including the newly "adopted to the family" Will. I can just imagine the conversation and how this simple photo steam rolled into such an event.

Interesting story telling technique Mr. King didn't go beginning to end, rather he jumped all around. Giving little tidbits that left me hungering for more. It's hard to put down a book that keeps teasing you with little details.

My second book for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.

Richard's review at Book Addiction

Monday, 10 November 2008

Thunderbird Falls by C.E. Murphy

A fantasy novel about police officer Joanne Walker (birth name Siobhan Walkingstick) who lives in Seattle. Her life went awry when she learned to her dismay that she is a shaman.
Something is not right in Seattle and its up to Joanne to set it straight.
Through out this book Joanne struggles against accepting her gift. She doesn't want it and she doesn't want the responsibility that comes with accepting it.
You can easily read this book without having read the first one, though there are a number of references back to previous events. It would have been interesting to know what had happened and how she came to realize that she is a shaman. You can check Ms. Murphy's website for her other novels that sound equally interesting.
As a side note, Joanne has taken up fencing as a means of dealing with the stress in her life after she was stabbed through with a sword in the previous novel in this series. Since I have started fencing I am compiling a list of fencing related novels.

Friday, 7 November 2008

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

My son was reading this one in class, and since I managed somehow to make it all through school and university without reading any Shakespeare, thought I would give it a try.
I really enjoyed it. I found my self laughing aloud during the scene where Petruchio's wedding clothes and the state of his horse is being described.
My daughter studied "A Comedy of Errors" last year and came home saying that Shakespeare is a dirty, old man. Now I understand her comment.
I will be looking forward to reading more of his work.

All My Relations: An Anthology of Contemporary Canadian Native Fiction edited by Thomas King

This book is a collection of short stories by a number of different Canadian First Nations Authors. I have included a few comments about each story. These are my own thoughts and feelings, your will probably be quite different. Where possible I have included links to each author.

"An Okanagan Indian becomes a Captive Circus Showpiece in England" by Harry Robinson - Okanagan as transcribed by Wendy Wickwire

This is the story of George Jim who is convicted of killing a white man. While in jail he is taken to England and paraded around as a show piece to earn money for his captors.

The story appears to have been transcribed word for word as Mr. Robinson told it to Ms. Wickwire. It reminds me of sitting with my grandparents and listening to their stories.

Coal Oil, Crayons and Schoolbooks by Ruby Slipperjack - Ojibway

I love stories such as this. It's a day in the life of our main character. She awakens early and has time alone with her mother, which I suspect is a rarity in such a full house. It turns out to be a special day with a visit from the Medicine Man.

See my review of 'Little Voice' also by Ruby Slipperjack

Run by Barry Milliken - Ojibway

It's the story of Peter and how his life and family have changed since his father passed away. Peter had found solace in his running.

This is one of the best descriptions of the meaning of running to the runner that I have read. Peter is usually calmed by his running, but today that is not the case. Its as though the running is sending him a message that this is wrong.

Weaver Spider's Web by Peter Blue Cloud - Mohawk

A fable. Coyote's survival is threatened because he is mesmerized by the web the Weaver Spider is making. He is saved when Grey Fox comes to visit and sees what is happening.

It's amazing how people can get stuck on the smallest of details yet miss out on all the major events that are surrounding them. I think that this would make a wonderful children's picture book. I can imagine the lovely pictures that Weaver spider would be spinning.

Compatriots by Emma Lee Warrior - Peigan

Hilda is visiting from Germany and wants to learn about Indians. She spends the day with Lucy and her kids and learns that their daily life is just like anyone else. You have to care for your family, cook and clean. It seems she is looking for some profound revelation but finds that we are all people regardless of race or colour.

The Seventh Wave by Jordan Wheeler - Cree

This is a coming of age for the second time. Jerry has returned to university to earn his Masters. While camping with his young girl friend and one of her contemporaries he realizes that their life is no longer for him

The Rez Sisters (excerpt) by Tomson Highway - Cree

Several ladies from Wasaychigan Hill on Manitoulin Island want to go to Toronto for the bingo where there is a larger pot to be won.

Reminds me of my grandmother telling me of the ladies at the bingos that she used to attend. Am really looking forward to seeing this play performed.

See my review of 'Kiss of the Fur Queen' by Tomson Highway
See my review of 'Fox on the Ice/mahkesis miskwamihk e-cipatapit' by Tomson Highway
See my review of 'Dragonfly Kites/pimihakanisa' by Tomson Highway
See my review of 'Caribou Song/atihko nikamon' by Tomson Highway

An Afternoon in Bright Sunlight by Shirley Bruised Head - Blackfoot

This story has the start of an amazing novel. An interesting mix of characters, a remote wilderness location, and a mystery. Is it an old woman, a bear or a malevolent spirit that lingers in the coulee? Just when I thought we'd get a hint, the story ends.

The One about Coyote Going West by Thomas King - Cherokee

Grandfather tells the story of how coyote discovered the Indians. A modern legend.

See my review of 'Medicine River' by Thomas King

Turtle Gal by Beth Brant - Mohawk

A sad tale. SueLinn is 9 when her mother dies. Kindly senior James William takes her in, with the understanding that the little he has to offer her is much, much more than the child welfare agency could ever hope to give her. Wonderful writing. Beth easily conveys the anguish that Sweet William feels while making his decision to care for SueLinn.

Hookto : The Evil Entity by Bruce King

This is an excerpt from an untitled novel. Hookto seems to embody all that is dark and evil. The only thing that can defeat him is pure good.

This is a Story by Jeanette C. Armstrong - Okanagan

This is the story of the People and how the Swallow people caused the salmon to leave the river. The People stopped living the way they needed to and began living the life of the Swallows. This was not good for them.

All peoples must live their own life and not anyone else's life.

Rain by Maurice Kenny - Mohawk

This is a story for reflecting. For thinking back to the past. The dancers are in the plaza dancing down the rain as they have for decades past. I can almost hear the beat of the drums and the thumping of the feet on the previously dusty ground.

Welcome to the Real World by Joan Crate - Cree

Dione is a new mother and while visiting with her mother she reminisces of when her family got electricity in the house and avocado coloured appliances.

The Last Raven by Richard G. Green - Mohawk

After a morning in bible classes, Jim, Bill and Hartman go out with shotguns to eliminate a murder of crows that are too bloated on berries to fly away.

Cement Woman by JB Joe - Nootka

Wustenaxsun found her in the city, living the life of the cement people. He brought her to the country to "live". Now that he has passed on she needs to find the strength of self to continue with her real life and not to resume the cement life.

King of the Raft by Daniel David Moses - Delaware

A coming of age story. The boys spend the summer hanging out on a raft anchored in the river. Much time is spent telling stories and comparing life events.

Song One: The Riverside by Jovette Marchessault - Montagneise-Cree

A young girl grows up living half the year in her mother's house and the other half in her grandmother's. Her growth and learning is greatly influenced by her grandmother's beliefs and traditions.

Summer Holidays in Spanish by Basil H. Johnston - Ojibway

35 Boys from the residential school spend the summer camping on Aird Island.

See my review of The Manitous: The Spiritual World of the Ojibway by Basil Johnston

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Fox on the Ice/mahkesis miskwamihk e-cipatapit by Tomson Highway

This is the third story of Joe and Cody. It is winter and they are ice fishing with their parents. Cody is helping his father with the net and Joe is napping on the sled with his mother. When the sled dogs catch the scent of a fox across the lake and they take up the chase. Unfortunately they are still attached to the sled. Now father and Cody must abandon their net and save the family.
The paintings of their dog Ootsie are so full of expression you can almost imagine him barking in excitement. The painting of father in that split second where he decides to abandon his net and rush after his family shows the anguish of the decision.
The illustrations are by Brian Deines.

Dragonfly Kites/pimihakanisa by Tomson Highway

This is a lovely story of Joe and Cody. During the summer months they travel in the northern reaches of Manitoba, far into the lakes country. It is a very isolated area and there are no other children to play with. That does not stop the boys, they make playthings of those items they find around them. Their favourite play things are the dragonflies which they turn into kites.
This book is wonderfully illustrated by Brian Deines.

Caribou Song/atihko nikamon by Tomson Highway

This is the first in a three book series, "Songs of the Northwind" which are written in both English and Cree. They are wonderfully illustrated by Brian Deines.
This is the story of Joe and Cody. Joe loves to play his kitoochigan (accordion) and Cody dances to his music.
One day while hunting with their parents, Joe and Cody wander away and use their music and dance to call the caribou.
Readers of "Kiss of the Fur Queen" will recognize this story of Champion and Dancer.
Other books by Mr. Tomson that I have reviewed:

Monday, 3 November 2008

My Halloween Pumpkins

It was a lot of fun carving pumpkins this year, and even more fun watching the reactions of the trick or treaters as they came to the door. I have to admit that these are not from my own patterns. Click the name to travel to the pattern link.

Sponge Bob

Ghost Window and Guild Wars Sword and Rose

We also put a fog machine on the porch. Found out that the littler kids were a bit scared of coming on to the porch. We had to tell them what it was before they would approach. Certainly not what we expected.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Echoes of Earth by Sean Williams & Shane Dix

The people of earth have started looking to the stars. Knowing how lengthy the explorations will be, they are sending engrams (synthetic humans).
One ship, the Frank Tippler has been exploring the planet Adrasteia in Upsilon Aquarious. Aliens visit and leave behind 10 large structures containing eleven gifts.
In the many decades since their departure from earth communication from home has ceased. The crew are faced with the dilemma of determining the acceptable risks of re-establishing contacting with earth. I can't continue without revealing too much plot development, so you'll have to get the book and read it your self.
I enjoyed this fanciful novel. It indulges the 'what if' scenario. What if we travel to the distant stars? What if we encounter aliens? What if...
The story continues in the novel 'Orphans of Earth' and then in 'Heirs of Earth'. Mr. Williams and Mr. Dix have collaborated on several novels.