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.
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.
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.