Tuesday, October 31, 2017

IWSG: Wednesday, November 1, 2017 ~ A Flight and a Fight





It's the first Wednesday of the month:
the day when members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and writing successes
and offer their encouragement
and support to fellow writers.





To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are volunteering today,
along with IWSG founder Alex Cavanaugh are:
Tonja Drecker,  Diane Burton,  F. J. Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass.

I hope you have a chance to visit today's hosts and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate a visit and an encouraging comment.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Every month the IWSG poses a question
that members can answer with advice, insight,
a personal experience, or a story in their IWSG posts.

Or, the question can inspire members
if they aren't sure what to write about on IWSG Day.

Remember the question is optional.
This month's featured question is:

Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project?
Have any of them gone on to be published?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, this is an easy question!  
I have never participated in NaNo,
and I am not going to do so this year.

I've heard about it from many IWSG members, 
and I've watched them tackling the challenge each year.

I thought maybe this year; but no,
November is already jam-packed for me,
and I'll have to look forward to next year.

I'll visit as many IWSG members as I can today,
but early tomorrow morning I'm flying to Calgary.
I'm off to a big party to celebrate my sister Barb's retirement;
and typically, I just found out about the party late last week.


First Photograph of All Five MacBeath Siblings
Donnie, Barb (the Retiree), Louise (Me), Bertie, Gretchen (Our Dog), and Roy
Margaretsville, Nova Scotia, Canada
Early April, 1959
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved






In January I set a goal of reading five books
written by IWSG authors in 2017.

When I recently traveled to Victoria, British Columbia,
book number five hitched a ride in my suitcase:
Delivered by Patrick Hatt.






Pat's latest novel had me reading late into the night
curled up on the sofa in our tiny hotel suite.
For several nights I raced through its 300+ pages
until my eyes blurred and I was forced to go to bed.

This is my favorite of the four Pat Hatt novels I have read.
I was anticipating a wild, phantasmagorical novel,
but I was in for a big surprise.

Pat Hatt wrote a realistic, contemporary novel with no hint
of the supernatural, beings popping in and out from other dimensions,
or mythical characters wreaking havoc ~
Just a heartwarming story of a small abused boy
who is rescued and welcomed into a close family
which fights to protect him and itself from growing danger.

Of course, given that Pat wrote the book,
it is not your average family!

Martin and Emma Hirtle are a young couple
with four children and a fifth on the way.
They deliberately forego a life of financial security
to devote as much time as possible to raising their children.
When Martin finds a frightened boy abandoned in a snowstorm,
he rescues him and takes him to the Hirtle home.

Martin and Emma soon discover bits of the child's past
and must figure out a sordid secret that haunts him
before the people hunting the boy find him and kill him.

Martin and Emma are quickly pulled into unexpected dangers
that threaten them, their children, and the abandoned child.
Can they solve the mystery of the boy's past in time,
or will they pay with their lives and the lives of their children?
These questions kept me flying through the book into the wee hours.

Pat writes with a distinctive Nova Scotian voice,
filled with the words and idioms of a native Bluenoser.
His characters in Delivered are as compelling as they are unique.
The Hirtles are unconventional, but they are a tight-knit family
with a distinct vision of who they are and why.
I quickly fell in love with them and their idiosyncrasies. 
As in his other novels, good and evil are clearly defined.
With each book he writes, Pat grows as a novelist.

Stephen King, in his excellent book On Writing,
says to become a writer "... you must do two things
above all others, read a lot and write a lot."

Pat lives both, which is why
his list of published books keeps expanding.

Happy writing in November,
and good luck to anyone participating in NaNo.

A Young Barbie,
Long Before Her Distinguished Career in Calgary's Oil Patch
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
Circa 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


Notes:
1.  Quote:
     King, Stephen.  On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft.  New York:  Scribner, 2000.
     Print.  pp. 145.

2.  Personal Note:  I'm traveling and dealing with multiple appointments before cataract
      surgery in the near future.  My Northern Posts will have to resume on November 10th.
  

Barb and I
Westport, Brier Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
Summer 2015
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Friday, October 13, 2017

A Posting Break


Hi, Everyone!
I need to take a short break from posting on my blog.
Everything is okay, I just have too much on my plate;
and I am so behind in everything!

My next post will be on November 1 on IWSG Wednesday,
followed by my next Northern post on Friday, November 3rd.

Meanwhile I plan to catch up on recent posts by my wonderful blogging buddies!

And for anyone who needs a little breathing space in his or her life right now,
here's a picture of my go to place for some stolen moments of serenity.


A Favorite Spot Along Piney Creek
Aurora, Colorado, USA
October 8, 2017
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Friday, October 6, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: A Question of Identity


I remember the first time I saw a person who wasn't the same color as me.
It's one of my earliest memories and only a flash.
My mother remembered it too well, only able to laugh about it years later.  

I was three, possibly just four, and we had gotten on a bus in Charlottetown.
We started down the aisle to take a seat,
and suddenly I came to a full stop at an amazing sight.


Three (Roy) and Four (Me)
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Canada
late 1953 or early 1954
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



"Why are you brown?" I blurted out to an older man sitting by the aisle.

The flash I remember is of him in dark brown work pants, jacket, and a flat cap.
His white undershirt peeked out from the unbuttoned gap
at the neck of his shirt, so striking against his dark skin.
He was a big man, with warm brown eyes and a touch of gray in his dark curly hair.

My mother, brought up short behind me, was mortified and apologized,
"I'm so sorry, sir!  You mustn't ever say something like that, Louise!"

"It's okay," he said, smiling broadly and leaning closer to me.
"When God made us, he took most of us out of the oven on time,
but sometimes he forgot and some of us turned out browner."

"Like rolls?"

"Like rolls,"  he winked.

"Thank you," my mother said softly.  
"She's very young, and she's never seen a negro before."

She hustled me into a seat before he could hear the inevitable,
"God baked us in an oven?"


Hot Out of the Oven!
Flickr:  Yutaka Seki   License



How we identify, think, and speak of ourselves and others
are difficult currents to navigate at times.
It's easy to wound with a word, deliberately or unintentionally.

In my posts I have tried to walk delicately between the "Indian" of a half century ago
and the "First Nations, Aboriginal, Indigenous, and  M├ętis" of today,
balancing my father's language of the past with mine of the present.
I know I've failed at times, but I'm learning. 


Some of My Father's Students
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Fall 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



The language of identity is complicated.
Today Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada recognizes
617 First Nations, 126 of which are in Ontario. INAC

At the time my father lived in Lansdowne House
many of the Ojibwa belonged to the Fort Hope Band,
an original signatory to the James Bay Treaty, but now
they are recognized as the separate Neskantaga First Nation.

I am almost as confused today as my father was
during his first weeks in Lansdowne House.

When my father arrived in there in mid-September 1960,
he didn't just find an empty school.
He found a school with no student records.

My father handled the challenge of scrounging desks, chairs, and tables for his students from around the community with a combination of innovation, persuasion, and grit,
but identifying his students was harder. 

My father wrote of this
(I changed the names and numbers.):
"The difficulties faced by the Indian teacher are many and varied.
One of the foremost of these, aside from shyness
which I have already mentioned, is the identification of students.  

Indian families are quite large by white standards,
and it is very hard to keep records with any degree of accuracy.
This difficulty was further complicated in my first school
by the fact that the old school had burned down the year before,
and all the school records had been destroyed.


The New Church of England Indian Day School
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Fall 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


About half of my children had the same surname of Mink,
and at least two of the fathers were named Elias Mink.
All the mothers of my children seemed to be named
either Sophie, or Minnie, or Katie.

The solution to the whole problem,
and it took me a week of utter confusion
before I accidentally tumbled upon it,
is the band numbers.

All the Indians are organized into bands, 
and all the adults over 21 years of age have band numbers.
The children have the same band number as their father,
and when a woman marries, she loses her own band number
and takes the number of her husband.

At Lansdowne House, most of the Indians were of the Fort Hope Band,
although there were a few from the Ogoki Band,
and one or two from the Marten Falls Band.

A few of the other bands with which I came into contact later
as supervising principal included the Trout Lake Band,
the Caribou Lake Band, the Deer Lake band, the Pikanjikum Lake Band,
the Fort Severn Band, the White Sands Band, and the Poplar Lake Band.





As soon as I found out about band numbers,
most of my difficulties were over.

Ivy Mink became #528 Fort Hope Band,
and I knew which Elias and which Sophie
were responsible for her presence.



Off to School the First Day
Photo by Uno Manilla
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




However this didn’t clear up all my difficulties,
as I found out to my acute embarrassment one day
when Nettie Marten came to school
to enroll her young son Samuel Marten.  

I took down Nettie’s name and number
and the name and number of her husband Joe.
Naturally the numbers were the same,
but when I started to put the number down for Samuel,
Nettie said, “No, no, Samuel has a different number.”  
I kept insisting that he couldn’t have,
and she kept insisting that he most certainly did have.  

The whole conversation was being carried on through an interpreter who, 
to further complicate the proceedings, was a French Canadian Oblate brother
who was not too proficient in Ojibway and equally unproficient in English.

All of a sudden it hit me what was the matter,
and I put down Samuel’s number with no further argument.
Samuel was illegitimate, the result of some premarital dalliance." 


My Father and His Interpreter, Brother Bernier
September 13, 1960
Photo by Donald MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



As I said, the language of identity is complicated,
and its currents can be difficult to navigate.





Till next time ~
Fundy Blue



Boars Head Lighthouse
Tiverton, Long Island, Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Notes:
1.  James Bay Treaty or Treaty 9:
     "Treaty 9 was an agreement established in July 1905, between the Government of Canada
    in the name of King Edward VII and various First Nation band governments in northern Ontario
    One First Nation community in the bordering Abitibi region of northwestern Quebec is included
    in this treaty. It was also known as the "James Bay Treaty," since the eastern end of the affected
    treaty territory was at the shore of James Bay."   Quote:  Wikipedia

2.  Unpublished Handbook:
     Recorded in Dad's unpublished The Northern School Teacher:  A Hand Book To Be Issued To All
     New Entrants To The Teaching Profession In The Indian Schools In The Sioux Lookout Indian
     Agency, 1966, pages 6-8.


For Map Lovers Like Me:
Map of Canada
Highlighting Ontario
Wikimedia  edited





Location of Lansdowne House (Neskantaga)
Wikimedia   edited





Location of Charlottetown, P. E. I.
Wikimedia edited




Wednesday, October 4, 2017

IWSG: Wednesday, October 4, 2017 ~ Shaped by Life





It's the first Wednesday of the month:
the day when members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and writing successes
and offer their encouragement
and support to fellow writers.





To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are volunteering today,
along with IWSG founder Alex Cavanaugh are:
Olga Godim,  Chemist Ken,  Jennifer Hawes,
and Tamara Narayan,.

I hope you have a chance to visit today's hosts and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate a visit and an encouraging comment.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Slipping this in just before the contest deadline ~ Cause that's who I am.  I'm revealing a bunch of insecurities, not so much with writing but with technology and blogging.  I'm traveling, so no IWSG swag.  I can't figure out how to add my photo to the logo, like other clever IWSG members.  And worst of all (so embarrassing)  I can't take iPhone selfies.  So I've taken a photo with my point and shoot camera of me with my computer and logo in my hotel room, between packing and hitting a pub to recover.  Cheers!


Technologically Insecure!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Every month the IWSG poses a question
that members can answer with advice, insight,
a personal experience, or a story in their IWSG posts.

Or, the question can inspire members
if they aren't sure what to write about on IWSG Day.

Remember the question is optional.
This month's featured question is:

Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The obvious answer to this question is yes, since I'm writing a memoir.

However, the more accurate answer depends upon
the definition of "personal information."
If the question means simple information
like my appearance, my address, my age, my income,
or how I hold my fork in a piece of fiction, I would say no.

If it means me, who I am, how I think, what I believe in,
and my life experiences, how can the answer not be yes?

Whenever I write fiction, it's often setting,
particularly place, that leads me into a character.
My character is grounded in a place,
because so much of whom a person is
comes from his or her place in the world,
and my understanding of him or her is derived from
my personal experiences or observations in that place.

My characters are often drawn from people I've known
and conflicts I have experienced or observed.
For example, in my novel-in-the-works one main character
is trying to escape from a preordained life as a logger in rural Nova Scotia.
That character was inspired by someone I knew well in the same situation,
but my fictional character is very different from the real person I knew.
I find my characters quickly take over and show me who they are in my writing.

The short stories I have written and the novel I am writing
have my fingerprints all over them.
When I consider the elements of story ~
setting, character, plot, theme, and style ~
I see myself in each element.

That’s because, if I'm going to invest time and effort in a story,
I'm going to write about settings, characters, plots, and themes
that speak to me personally and in a style that is my unique voice.

Yes, I'm writing books, and yes, I'd like to get them published;
but I am quite selfish in that I am writing about ideas that are significant to me,
and they are shaped by my beliefs based on my experiences.

Writing Shaped by Life
My Brother and I Canoeing
Lake Attawapiskat, Northern Ontario, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved