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Showing posts from February, 2011

knock knock

It has been a week where death has knocked on my door a few times. In our culture, death is usually relegated to bad guys who meet their messy, but just, end on the big screen, or found in statistics that are for the most part distant and therefore, somewhat meaningless, or just some unfortunate incident on the news. This week, it was different.

First came a phone call from my mother on Sunday night informing me that her brother had died. Something in her opening sentence, "I don't have any more brothers," painfully reflected the hollowness that death leaves behind. Yesterday, one of our colleagues in the family of Vineyard Canada (our church affiliation) was killed in Africa in an accident while on a year-long adventure and humanitarian aid trip with his young family. The images from a devastating earthquake in Christchurch yesterday just added to the sense of loss and being lost.
This week I was reading a book on the metro in which the writer said that if he gets to heav…

the best poem ever

This morning, I was one of 7 students to give a mini-lesson in my University Teaching Course. All of the graduate students in this class (there are 22 of us) are from varied fields of study, so it proved to be a very interesting time. We learned about art theft (who steals art? what kinds of things do they steal? why?), textual analysis of poetry (what tools do you use to interpret a poem?), the political system in Canada (who has the power to appoint the prime minister?), fair play in sports (is Fastskin swimwear giving certain swimmers an unfair edge?), fine art (what constitutes a portrait?), and verb forms in the Hindi language.

The jewel of the morning was a poem we received in a hand-out from a student teaching Introduction to Literary Studies. I believe its message applies to any subject that we are trying to study, but is especially relevant to reading such a text as the Bible. Here it is:

Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins (1988)

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to th…

I am not a soprano

I love to sing. Not everyone loves to listen to me, but I have always loved to sing. I started to play the piano around the age of 5, and was soon improvising and writing my own simple melodies to sing and to play. The ability to hear and sing different harmonies was encouraged by a musical grade school teacher and ever since then, I have preferred the tension and sweetness of two or three voices to one. I sang second soprano throughout high school and college, that middle voice that is often the hardest to identify in a musical piece, but the one that is in the closest proximity to the other voices.

On occasion, I was thrust into the soprano role, just because I could hit the notes, even if they were a bit on the light and airy side. I never had much strength in my singing voice, and this frustrated me as well as various musicians and soundmen who had to compensate for my lack of volume. I always wished that I had more power in my singing voice. In some ways, it seemed so different fr…

sentencing

I was grading papers this past weekend. Many of them were really good, which made it all the more enjoyable for me. As always, I came across quite a few writing errors; this is understandable in students whose first language is not English, but even verbose writers with large vocabularies can make some pretty big mistakes. Here are a few of my favourites (mistakes, not verbose writers). May they bring a smile to your face as they sometimes do to mine. And yes, I have made pretty much all of these myself at one time or another. That's why I do something called 'proofreading.'

1. The split personality subject:This is when the beginning participle, which is supposed to describe something about the subject, does not match the subject found in the main clause of the sentence. Here are some examples that I wrote:
a. Thinking that the chocolate cake in the fridge was the perfect way to end a long evening of studying, the kitchen became my destination. (My kitchen does a lot of thin…

because I said so?

I am back home, sitting at my desk. The cat has her back to me, sleeping on the couch. The kettle is heating some water for chai tea. I just finished an assignment due tomorrow, and have 50 papers to grade and some reading to do for Monday. Big things like graduating with my MA are on the horizon, but in reality, it is the little details that I attend to every day, like keeping up with my assignments, exercising regularly and eating well, taking time to rest, and avoiding unproductive pursuits, that get me to the big things.

I have been reading the book of Leviticus, chock full of laws and regulations on many minute details of life. It can be quite a downer if one sees mostly the oft-repeated ominous statements: "make sure you don't do this" and "if someone does this, they shall die" or "this makes you unclean." It just all seems so petty , doesn't it? Who cares if two types of fabric are sewn together? But interspersed throughout all of this is th…