Wildfires are a normal occurrence here in British Columbia, especially in the summer. But this year has been worse than usual. It’s been so hot, so dry, and I don’t even know when we’re getting rain again.

Even though I don’t watch the news on television anymore, I’ve been following the CBC on Twitter, mostly because I was tired of only seeing news from the United States. They’re so big and so screwed up, it’s easy to let their breaking news take over. It feels bigger because they shut out louder. But I need to know more about my own country, my own problems.

I live on the other side of the coastal mountains, next to the ocean, so the fires don’t affect me directly. I haven’t even noticed the smoke in the air. But the centre of my province is burning right now.

A lot of the world is burning right now, and I don’t know what to do.

I spent most of today watching Prime Suspect. It’s a British crime procedural, but it’s really about sexism and the police. They recently made a prequel series set in 1973, when the main character, Jane Tennison, was just starting out as a police officer. As with Endeavor, the prequel series set in the 1960s about Inspector Morse, I watched the original series second.

I gave my 140 character review on Twitter:

Watching Prime Suspect (1991) after the 2017 prequel (set in 1973). None of the men come off well in this series, no matter what year it is.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #13

  1. My parents’s pool is finally up for the summer. Even though I live just up the hill from the beach, I would always rather swim in a pool than the ocean. Fewer kids, fewer fish, fewer people flying drones overhead.
  2. I have always been the kind of person who inches their way into the way. I grew up swimming in lakes, and our lakes here in BC, they’re not just cold; they’re glacial. But my first time in the pool this season, I jumped straight in. It felt good. Not the water–that was cold. But just doing it felt good. No hesitation.
  3. After I swam, I read magazines and played cards. I’ve been trying to do more AFK lately. Playing solitaire with real cards on the table, instead of an app on my phone. It’s nice not looking at the screen.
  4. Milos Raonic has been winning at Wimbledon, which makes me proud and nervous at the same time. It’s always nice to see a Canadian athlete succeed. But he’s never been very good at closing out his matches. I’m always anxious when I watch him play, so I’m grateful for the wins.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #9

  1. The French Open is messing with my resolution to keep the TV off in the mornings. But my PVR helps. I only have a few shows set to record (Private Eyes is back!), but it means I’m not compulsively flipping the channels, looking for something to watch. I watch a show after work, and then I delete. I watch less TV, but I watch what I want.
  2. This Wednesday, I biked out to Crescent Beach. It was my first bike ride of the year. I wasn’t sure that the weather would hold for the whole day, and it turned out that it didn’t. It was overcast, and later it got windy. But just the chance to spend an afternoon on the beach, in the sun, in the ocean, made my week better.
  3. My new steno notebooks are working out pretty well. I filled the first one in two weeks. The thing I like most about them is the two columns. It means that the daily log I write at the back of my book takes up far fewer pages. The thing I like least about them is the paper. It’s rather thin and gets caught up on the spiral binding a lot.
  4. The inventor of the Hawaiian pizza died today. Hawaiian has always been my favourite pizza. But now that I’m vegetarian, I don’t eat ham. On my way home from work, I stopped at the grocery store and bought a can of pineapple tidbits, pizza mozzarella (on sale!), some mushrooms, and a tomato. When I got home, I made some dough. It wasn’t exactly the pizza Sam Panopoulos invented. But I made it on a whim, and I have leftovers for tomorrow.

Something making me happy right now is the BBC historical farm series. Starting with Tales From The Green Valley (or Tudor Farm) in 2005, Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn, and Alex Langlands have been working and living together in the past. They made Victorian Farm in 2007, then Edwardian Farm, and Wartime Farm. After ten years, it’s understandably harder to commit to a whole year on a farm, so their last series was a more classic history documentary about the British railroad. There are related series to be found, but these five are the five with Ruth, Peter, and Alex, and those three together are why I keep watching.

As I watch the series again, in order from the beginning (I’m in the middle of Edwardian Farm right now), I’m thinking a lot about why they make me so happy. The chemistry between the three presenters is so good. In the Tudor Farm series, Peter was only brought in last minute. Alex was chosen as the young farm hand to do labour, but injured himself before filming began. He brought in his university friend, Peter, to help out. Because it’s the first series, it’s very different: five historians and only 30 minute episodes. But you can see the core of the show forming.

Ruth is older than the other two, and she’s a historian, while Peter and Alex are both archaeologists. She’s in charge of the house; they’re in charge of the farm. Alex’s first words in Tudor Farm are how he’s always wanted to be a farmer. By the time they get to WWII in Wartime Farm, the roles are set. Alex is the gentleman farmer, Peter is the blue collar farm hand, and Ruth is the keeper of the house. It might sound like a patriarchal system, but the lack of a marriage means a different dynamic. Yes, the woman does the cooking and cleaning, but Ruth’s enthusiasm for domestic chores makes clear how much this is her choice. Alex brings his own chickens from home to their Edwardian farm, and Peter is never happier than when he’s covered in dirt. The three of them are just so happy to be together on the farm, no matter the time period.

If nothing else, at least I’ll know what to do to survive when our civilisation collapses.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #4

  1. I really wasn’t sure I wanted to watch Riverdale. I adore Archie comics. I grew up with them. I read more Archie than books when I was in elementary school. And this series looked like it was trying too hard to be the “gritty reboot” for a new generation. But it surprised me. I really loved it. I described it in my rec to friends as “Archie comics crossed with Twin Peaks, Teen Wolf, and Gossip Girl.” So if you like those things, you might like this.
  2. Somehow, I had way more Starbucks rewards this month than my stars should’ve allowed. I know one extra happened because the barista voided my order when they ran out of quiche. I finally got the quiche yesterday (lots of spinach), and I tried the s’more frappucino on Wednesday (needs more marshmallow). I know rewards programs are all about tracking consumer spending, but if I’m gonna be spending there anyway, it’s nice to get something extra with my late stage capitalism.
  3. I’ve made five daily videos in a row! It’s been way easier than I thought it would be. And it really helps that nobody is watching right now. I’m not even watching them. I just turn on the camera, talk for a while, then upload without editing (though I have started adding a date title). It’s good to have a goal for my mornings.
  4. I’m really really lucky to be Canadian, and I never want to take that for granted.

I had a day off yesterday. Usually, I try to go hiking, but the weather wasn’t great. White-grey sky and on/off rain. Instead, I walked up the hill to use my Starbucks reward for a treat and to write a while.

My local Starbucks is next to my local theatre. I had noticed that Maudie was playing, and though I hadn’t planned it, the next showing was in less than an hour.

I fell in love with Maud Lewis when I was living in Halifax. Her paintings are what the critics call “outsider” and “primitive” art, which only means she didn’t go to school to learn. Maud painted with materials she found. She painted because she was stuck in the house. She painted because it made her happy.

I wrote more in a zine I made about the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. I drew her tiny house, which lives in the gallery today for all to visit. She painted flowers on the windows and birds on the walls.

Maud’s life wasn’t all happy. Ethan Hawke is terrifyingly good as her taciturn husband. The whole theatre gasped when Everett hit Maud for talking back. But Maud’s last words to him, before she dies in her hospital bed, are, “I was loved.”

Her paintings are a bright and colourful reminder that it’s not that hard to bring a bit of joy into your life. If you don’t have paint, use markers. If you don’t have canvas, draw on the wall. If you can’t see any flowers through your window, make some. Make joy.

I was gonna write a post about how I couldn’t write today, but I’m watching curling while I’m blogging. Ben Hebert of Team Koe is the class clown of the curling tour. He hosts a feature called The Sheet Show every Grand Slam. At this weekend’s Champions Cup, he asked the curlers to read some mean tweets. I lol’d.

I love watching sports for the stories, not the numbers. I have favourites and home teams, but curling is different. I fell in love watching the Olympics, which means my home team changes every four years. (One of the hardest tournaments to win in sports is the Canadian Olympic curling trials. No team has ever won it twice.)

The regular curling season is a handful of events with a handful of the same teams. It feels smaller than other professional sports. But that smallness gets you closer to ice level. It feels more intimate than other professional sports. It feels more real. The Sheet Show feels like a kid making fun of his brothers and sisters, instead of a reporter trying to get a laugh. And curling feels like a bunch of friends playing a game down at the rink.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #3

  1. The iPhone 5 is the perfect form factor for shooting video. The sides are flat, even with my new case, so it doesn’t roll when you stand it up on a table. I don’t want to buy a bunch of equipment. I just want to make some videos, and this five-year-old phone lets me do that.
  2. Last summer was great for the garden in my backyard. It belongs to the family upstairs, but one day when I was leaving for work, the mom and her two daughters were picking vegetables. I said, hoping to influence some young minds, kale is my favourite vegetable. (Top three, at least.) The mom told me to pick whatever I wanted because it was way too much for them to eat. Nothing new has been planted yet for this summer, but the kale survived the winter. It’s grown two feet in the last month, and there is way too much for me to eat. But I’m enjoying the trying.
  3. The best chemistry on The Newsroom is between Dev Patel and John Gallagher Jr., so of course Sorkin ignores it for a whole host of romantic relationships repurposed from his other shows. I don’t know why I even started watching this (after avoiding it five years ago because I knew it would make me sad and angry), but these two are a bright spot that keeps me going.
  4. I just realised I have a copy of Magic Mike XXL on my external hard drive, so that’s what I’m going to do tonight. You might think it was a bad movie. “No, as I have said twice before, and will now say a third time, it was the best movie of 2015. Please do not make me go over this again.”
  1. I didn’t mean to, but I stayed up late to hear Harry Styles’s first solo single, and goddamn, it’s good. Granted, I don’t listen to top 40 radio these days, but Sign of the Times sounds like nothing else right now. My first thought was Bowie, but then I caught John Lennon’s Mind Games on the retro music video channel. It makes sense that Harry’s first solo song would sound like post-Beatles Beatles (a little bit of all four).
  2. This afternoon, I watched the bronze medal game of the women’s world hockey championship. Finland beat Germany 8-0, which is the kind of score you expect from women’s hockey. But Finland beat Canada this year for the very first time ever, and 4th is Germany’s best finish. The game is growing.
  3. And then I watched the gold medal game after work.  It’s something of a comfort to know Canada v. USA will always be stressful. It can go either way any day with those two teams. Canada won the last Olympic gold in Sochi in 2014, but we haven’t won Worlds since 2012. Canada didn’t win today, either, but they took the US to overtime. They made them work for it. They made my heart pay for it.
  4. Nobody hates each other like Team Canada and Team USA. But it’s more sibling rivalry than arch nemeses. Because when Team USA wins, at their home rink, after literally fighting for their right to play, at a time when their country needs good news, Canada can only be happy for them.
  5. So now I’m watching Canada beat Sweden at the men’s world curling championship. Last month, the women’s team went undefeated to gold. The men’s team plays for gold on Sunday, and they haven’t dropped a game yet. Maybe curling has used up all Canada’s good luck.
  6. My faucet came off in my hand while I was doing dishes tonight, sending a geyser of water all over the counter, so I could use a little of that luck right now.