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Long live all maidens

easy and beautiful !

Long live mature women also,

Tender and loveable and full of good labor. 

Gaudeamus Igitur

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Sunday
Mar072010

Of Heavenly and Earthly Matters

Hi Adria, 
You must need a good rest after your concert and the hectic schedule of the past few days. Now that the music has seeped into your brain, body and soul, you will, no doubt, feel the usual invigoration. What could be more restorative than the gift of the Muses?

Do you know of Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà,  the all-Canadian female string ensemble? Just heard them (heavenly) on Michael Enright’s programme– celebrating women for International Women’s Day, tomorrow.
Now to more earthly matters. Does your reference to compassion come from the depths of a profound believer? Is it a matter of penance? Or is it a Lenten joke? Isn’t compassion a year-round thing? Either way, it is a more admirable and worthy practice than giving up candy.  
How’s this for serendipity? I was reading the programme from the Robertson Davies play that I went to on Friday, and the director’s bio. reads: John Krisak is the founder of the Arbitrary Angle Theatre ... Over a period of thirty years he taught English ... He now finds time to read and write. Gaudeamus igitur. Strange how that phrase keeps recurring. 
Here is the excerpt  (from Chapter 1) where the question of La Petite first comes up: 
Baby Jimmy had been named after Jimmy Stewart and called Jean by Sarah’s grandparents , the Prévosts. They never used Sarah’s name either. Instead they called her ‘la petite’. When Sarah asked her Mother why, she answered, “My parents scolded me over and over again for calling you Sarah. ‘You can’t put a Jewish name with a French Canadian name’, they told me.”
“What’s a Jewish name anyway?” Sarah had asked.
“That’s a long story.  For another time,” her Mother had answered.
Then later in the novel, when Sarah is a young woman, she meets a man who also questions her name and its ambiguity:
“I’m Christopher Ko.”
“Sarah Prévost.”
“Hah. A French name. Canadian.”
“Yes. My Mother is French Canadian.”
“So where does Serra come from?
“I pronounce it, Sarah, the old way. My Mother loved    Sarah Bernhardt.”
“Interesting.  A French Canadian with a Jewish name.” 
She herself had asked her Mother the same question, so many years ago. (What’s a Jewish name anyway?). Sarah had grown up with phrases like les maudit juifs as part of everyday language, not fully understanding the derision in the voices of those who said them. 
Sarah understood that her interest in history had been spawned by the ethnocentric beliefs of her French Canadian family. She could pin point the exact time and place that her interest in history had solidified: the summer she turned seventeen. The first summer (many more to follow) that she had lied to her parents about going to Rawdon, a small town and teenage hangout in the Laurentians, an hour north of Montreal. In her mind’s eye, she could still see the small sign nailed to the pole at the entrance of the dance hall at the beach. GENTILES ONLY.  She read it every time she passed by with a hot dog in hand or over her latest beau’s shoulder as they moved across the dance floor.  
“What is a Gentile?” she had finally asked Cindy. 
“It’s us. Non-Jews.” 

I’d love to spend the rest of the day on writing and other literary endeavours, but I have a bagful of corrections that I am staring at with contempt. I swore I wouldn’t take work home any more. But it is March and I have taken to marking off the days (like the Count of Monte Cristo, although I don’t want the classroom to be a metaphor for a prison cell. Or do I? ). I use small numbers on a wall by my desk and cross off a number after school every day. I am at number 76. I also do not want to wish my life away with each stroke. So I make a point of really enjoying my Period One class, the ESL kids I’ve spoken about. Now they’ve made me promise to take them on a fieldtrip to The Beaches. They seem timid and many (as well as their parents) work long hours and don’t have the money or the time to explore the city.  

As far as their language progress goes, we had a good laugh this week. We are reading a novel called Freak the Mighty, and in it a boy tells of his adventures with a friend as they go on quests, like The Knights of The Round Table. So far so good. Very inspiring. Some of the new words were, regurgitate, and, believe it or not, turd, as in a chapter title, Encounters of the Turd Kind. Try explaining that to Grade 10 non-native speakers!  So when I gave a quiz I asked them to list 5 new vocabulary words they had learned and their meanings. Of course one guy got perfect and he knew every one of these words and their synonyms (as in vomit for regurgitate.) When I exclaimed, “I’ve created a monster!”, they thought that was hilarious. And when I was teaching the word, slot, I noticed all the boys were grinning. Needless to say they do not do well with vowels, but they all knew the meaning of slut. 

Again, I am saving my finest bit of news for the end. I did go for coffee with Eddy after you left. It was just a look he gave me, pointing to his watch and then a quick mime of drinking. So I nodded, all while F. was elaborating on our homework. He is, a perfect gentleman, but then who isn’t in the first few minutes? His manners, his attention to detail, his voice, are all enchanting. I was my usual guarded self, so I hardly spoke. He talked about Mark (remember him? Ha Ha) and why he left for Vancouver so suddenly. Will fill you in when we meet. I got home around 11. Dan did ask why I was so late. I said we had gone out for coffee. We.  He did not ask who we was. Just assumed it was you and me, I guess. Yes, sweet butterflies, Adria.  It’s never too late.
Sarah 

 

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