A Year in Books: Born a Crime

29780253I was a huge fan of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart; it was smart, insightful and hilarious. Change is hard for me. I didn’t think a South African native would be the best choice for such a political show. But I decided to give him a chance. His insight into American politics from a South African perspective was fascinating. He lived through apartheid. He knew first had how dictators manipulate their population. He was explaining it to a country who only ever knew democracy,what was coming. He made it less scary.

I then listened to him on NPR’s Fresh Air. Trevor Noah discussed his book  ( although the host is the most is biased and judgemental presenter, I enjoyed how he came back at her with intelligent and thoughtful commentary) and he had me hooked because the man loves his mama.

His life story (he is only 32) was terrifying for a white girl who grew up in socialist Canada where the government looks after lot of things for you. This is not the case for a coloured boy – his words not mine ( which must be prefaced because I am white) growing up during a time that I read about but did not understand until he gave me an account of his life. I could not relate to anything he spoke of which reiterated the fact that I needed to read it. I learned about perspective.

I knew a girl in elementary school who arrived from South Africa and enrolled into my class. She was white, and spoke of her black servants. Telling me everything about south Africa was better because you had servants. Black Servants no less. I met her while North America was watching Roots every night, I knew about slavery and I knew it was wrong. She was trying to tell me servants were not slaves, they were there because they wanted to be there. I didn’t by it. Even at that age, I knew what white privilege was. I had been to school in the Arctic, I was one of a handful of white kids and I knew my white teacher treated me differently. I didn’t understand why my First Nation peers didn’t look me in the eye, now here I was back in Sherwood Park – a white suburb of my Province’s Capital talking to a girl who is telling me the servants chose their life? What? Who chose’s to be a servant? That is a class issue. I bet they wanted to have their own business, go to University became professionals but were not allowed to. She told me I was wrong and I called her a liar. We were never friends. Her name was Susan. Through no fault of her own, she grew up in a situation that clashed with my values and I couldn’t accept her as an equal.

Moving forward, I try to read books that give me someone else’s perspective. I want to understand how other people think given their circumstances. Noah explains his life in a way that is obviously normal to him, completely unbelievable for me. But it helped understand what was going on during apartheid. He spoke of something I think I knew but didn’t recognize it until he spoke about it. Language is a bigger barrier than race. He is fluent in several languages. He used this to his advantage to fit into different groups and tribes because although he looked different, he spoke their language. This confused people but allowed a fast acceptance into their social group. He may not look like us but he understands us, therefore he is one of us.

I think this is an important read for people who are struggling with today’s political climate and racism. Give it a read.


I Won Again? I Must be Dying and No one Told me

I have bad news, or good news depending how you look at it. I won a contest. That usually means great things to people. When I win, great doom usually ensues. So far so good and nothing bad has happened…yet. I will keep you posted though..

To see the results of my winnings….click here.The prize was a virtual trip to South Africa. Very Cool! Unlucky me!

If nothing bad happens, I’ll be back tomorow….If I am dead…I will be otherwise engaged.

Happy Thursday!

The 12 Days of New Things

Welcome to 2012! I have used up a full week of Christmas vacation and find myself enjoying pure laziness…aside from painting Chatterbox’s room, I have done a whole lotta o’nuttin’! Well, that isn’t strictly true. I did stay in bed past noon one day, yes I was by myself, yes I was caught somewhere between dozing and reading. It was a lovely lazy day! I do remember promising myself I would try 12 new things over the break. How have I fared? Pretty good so far!

The first day of New Things I Zumbaed? Zumbaded? Zumed? Whatever you call it, I popped Zumba party out of the WII box I received for Christmas and gave it a go! First of all the freaking belt fit! WOOHOO and not just a forceful fit, there was extra room, and it may get too big soon…love that! Secondly, I am no longer a Zumba virgin. I am not sure why this is important, it just is.  Sadly I ended off that day with Salsa Ass. Using muscles that aren’t that useful for swimming or running but apparently are useful for Salsa…New = Good

The second day of New Things my true love gave to me I imessaged with Kelly in South Africa! How incredibly cool! I have chatted and IMed with folks before but South Africa is so exotic to me. So far away and so foreign! I have never been to Africa. The closest I have come was standing on the beach of the Mediterranean and gazing off to the distance. I couldn’t see Africa, but I knew it was there.

The third day of New Things I called my Uncle Bloefeld, who apparently is 45% less evil than he was in the James Bond movie. I have never called him in my life. He had lost my number and wanted a Christmas Chat. There are several things wrong with this. If you are at all familiar with my facebook wall, then you know how obnoxious Uncle Bloefeld can be. He can be quite hilarious too, but he also is a born again Catholic. That just spells yikes. Yes I am Catholic and I am a believer in the higher power and enjoy a great conversation about the possibility of the after life, (my stance is yes there is one) I made it clear to Bloefeld that I was not at all interested in his views being forced upon me. He tried, I changed the subject. The worst of it was…He is a call screener. He convinced me to phone him, long distance to the Godforsaken city of Calgary, where he laid on his bed and SCREENED MY CALL! Of course he denied it. Some lame ass excuse about not being able to move fast enough to reach the phone before the answering machine got it…bla bla bla… He then called me back a few minutes later. To which I accused him of being a CALL SCREENER. It is just his way of controlling the situation no matter how much he denies it. We did have a fun conversation. He is a great story teller of the Old Country Days and I challenged him to write a guest blog post about his Hoochy Coochy Man days and how the Gypsy predicted it. If he does do it, I will post it on his birthday as his gift from me. Maybe I will give him advice too, but that seems a bit too generous and thoughtful, but we shall see.

The fourth day of New Things I read Science Fiction. Sorry, I should have told you to sit down. Book of choice after bad advice from Uncle Bloefeld? I settled on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The result? It was funny AND informative. I learned some valuable lessons that will last a lifetime, or the very least until I read the next book – Slaughter House Five. Science Fiction for me is something you watch, not read. It is hard to wrap my mind around space junk and weird creatures. Fantasy is also a difficult read for me. But I persevered and did it. Will I do it again? Not bloody likely, unless I am forced too or I am trying to impress some putz with my vast knowledge of book learnin’.

The fifth day of New Things I played the drums. That’s right Keith Moon is rolling over in his grave at this moment. ChatterBox is a Jazz Percussionist. For Christmas Santa – not the real one  – gave her a Drum Kit. Yes it is electric, yes I have lost my marbles, but she is talented and I want to nurture that and support music bla bla bla… ANYWHO… I am a pianist, kick-ass cowbell player and awesome spoonist. I can play the kazoo and am FANTABULOUS on the comb and tissue paper, but have never played the drums. I have never even played drums via Rockband – and we own Beatles Rockband! I don’t even play Guitar Hero. In my defense, I always get 100% with the mic and can kill the hardest song selections. I rock at karaoke as does my sister. I have never even tapped a rhythm out with pencils on my desk. I convinced ChatterBox to  give me a lesson. The first thing I did was tap out a beat – over my head – on the sticks. My girl rolled her eyes and said…that is rock, not jazz. So? Rock is AWESOME! No Mother…. Yikes – she called me MOTHER… On with the lesson. I got the simple jazz beat down then I went in for my rock solo crashing tom-toms, cymbals and high hats….Suddenly I was in front of thousands of screaming fans as I beat the crap out of that drum kit. Then I heard a needle scratch on a record…suddenly coming to a stop when ChatterBox informed me “Maybe Drums aren’t your thing” OUCH! ChatterBox, OUCH!

Worse…there is proof Ed kills it on the Drums! If you wish to see the video, be my guest. That is ChatterBox laughing at me in the background. But HEY! I played the drums…new thing #5

There you have it. One thing a day since Dec 27th. This week the plans include more reading (YAY), a visit to Metropolis ( a new winter city festival downtown I am checking out), a visit to the AGA to see the new photography exhibit, signing up for a Vata workshop…I really have no idea what that is, and a visit to the Expo Center to see the Team Canada exhibits (if it isn’t to late) Apparently there is some great Hockey Hall of Fame stuff which I have never seen! I am liking this 12 New Things thingy…so much so, I am going to try 52 new things for 2012…what the heck, if nothing else I may learn a thing or two.

Happy New Year my friends! May 2012 be everything you hope it will be and filled with things you had no idea it would be. Buon anno (one of the new things I will give a try, learning Italian)

The Edmonton Tourist aka Robyn


This year would be a new tradition!

The last post of 2011 goes to my dear friend Kelly, known to the WordPress world as My Naked Bokkie. Odd name yes, she explained once to me that it was a South African term of endearment for a boy or something…I am SURE I have it wrong. At any rate, I call her Bokkie and she calls me Ed. Bokkie has been through her share of ups and downs (mostly downs) but still manages a laugh and a smile for her friends. To read the prequal to this post, I invite you to take a peek here. To just hang out with Bokkie, visit here. You will see me and Brown Road over there. We like to frequent South Africa for a change of pace now and then.

Now on with the words!


A new tradition would take place this Christmas!!

I had made that decision a few weeks into December. Why? The main reason was because the last few years had taken ALL the tradition we once had. This year I would find something that was really all about us, about our home, and perhaps about South Africa.

Although we had all decided NO Christmas gifts this year, I still wanted to give everyone “something” for joining our Christmas lunch. I thought about making fudge or coconut ice. I thought about buying little Christmas cakes. I thought about ordering individual cupcakes. /9You can see the baker in me coming out- and running hey?) But these things just didn’t make me warm and fuzzy!

Sometime in November, just a few weeks before, I had been looking into our hill behind our house from the guest bedroom with My Princess. I commented about the amount of bird’s nests in the trees. It was a realistic comment, I would not be exaggerating if I suggested that there must be a couple of hundred.

Do they look like bird's nest to you? This is the view from our guest bedroom.

You see my eye sight has diminished somewhat…. Turns out that these were not bird’s nests at all but Protea flowers, and those trees were specifically Protea Plants. (Let’s credit my knight for bringing that realisation to hand.)

Here is a better photo. Those could very easily be mistaken for bird's nests, don't you think?

Doing a bit of a “google, I” found that there are in fact more than 80 species of Protea Plants, and they don’t all grow in bushes 1 meter high (Clearly my confusion….?) I don’t sound very patriotic, do I? The fact is we learnt about the plant in school, we would see it on excursions, but it didn’t grow in our back yard.

Why so special? The Protea Plant is one of our national symbols for South Africa. It is also the name of our cricket team! As far as I know (I could be wrong), you need to have a licence to sell the Protea flower/plant, and they don’t grow in back yards! They cost a fortune when you do purchase one, but they do last for weeks. Although they are not the most beautiful flower, they do send a sense of patriotism through each of us.

And we had trees and trees and trees in our land!!!!

There we go. I see better through the lens on my camera! They are clearly flowers and not bird's nests. Silly me!!

I had a plan. A Christmas Tradition Plan.

I would give everyone a Protea flower to take home when Christmas lunch was done. It was a thought, and it was special. It was from our home, and it was very African! (And please note that it was not a simple as popping out into your garden and picking a few flowers.)

Ah ha! I had another great idea.

We decided that we would give each and every person that joined us for Christmas lunch a lottery ticket. We never buy lottery tickets. I honestly believe that God will not make us wealthy through gambling. We could debate it for hours, but to some small extent you could see my point.

But if we bought tickets for everyone else, just a row each- it would not be gambling. They would not be spending money on the chances of winning; they would merely receive that chance. We expected nothing from the ticket, but we gave “potentially” the best Christmas anyone could ever have. Potentially.

It was a small token, but it could be so much greater. It was out of our hands.

When My Knight was purchasing 13 individual one line lottery tickets the cashier clearly thought he was nuts. He felt the need to explain….. “my wife (yes he calls me that…hsi common law wife) is giving them away as Christmas Presents”, the cashier “what happens if they don’t win?” It should be “what happens if they do win?”

He clearly did not get my point!

Christmas morning, amongst all the commotion of very early guests (more annoying then late guests) and trying to get everything done by remaining calm and collected on the outside, I “instructed” my knight to climb through the electric fence, up our little mountain and start chopping.

I knew deep down he was trying to get out of it. His thought had disappeared!

He came back with a bucket full and broken kitchen scissors. I would hold back and not comment about the scissors. Good idea right?

After Christmas lunch, I brought the vases filled with Proteas to the table we were sitting at outside, and handed one to each of our guests. The tickets were from the night before, which meant that we didn’t need to wait. Once everyone had untied their lottery ticket from the flower, my knight googled the lotto numbers for the 24th of December, and we all started counting. There was an awesome sense of excitement around that table at that point.

There was nothing perfect about the vases filled with Proteas, but they did look special.

You gather that I didn’t win! (Sorry Ed- but i may not have done the guest blog if i had.) Unfortunately nor did any of our guests. But let’s not forget the potential to be the best Christmas Lunch ever- for someone.

I liked this.

This year was the start to our new tradition. Maybe next year we can start the tradition of winning?