Father said…

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Father with Baby Daughter - A girl's first love is her Daddy

Father said not to worry about anything.
He was working to provide for my needs.
And I believed him.

Father said he would never let anyone hurt me.
He was there to protect me, Mother, and my brother Paul.
And I believed him.

Father said not to worry about climate change;
the science is still debatable.
And I believed him.

Father said the abortion of an unborn child is an abomination.
Life is sacred. Only God can take a life.
And I believed him. Continue reading

Climate Change & the Water Cycle

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The Water Cycle

As a geographer and former high school geography teacher, I must confess that I take some scientific facts for granted, such as climate and the water cycle. A recent post “Climate Science Meets a Stubborn Obstacle: Students” by fellow blogger Robert Vella brought to my attention the challenges some of our high school science teachers face in regions of America where climate change denial creates havoc in the minds of our youth.

When your father has raised you to believe that the coal they once mined, or still mine, can in no way affect our climate, it’s difficult to have an open mind to scientific consensus on the issue.

Geography lessons in high school expanded my curious mind to our relationship with our world: land, oceans, atmosphere, and all the in-between. When taking a climatology course at university, I found myself at a disadvantage for having chosen to study art instead of physics in high school. I had lots of catching up to do. Our course in biogeography alerted me to the ways that we humans are degrading our ecosystems. Those were the days before the Internet and Wikipedia. Continue reading

Patativa do Assaré: Brazil’s Popular Oral Poet

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Patativa do Assare seated in front of his hut in Assare - Ceara - Brazil

My Poetry Corner June 2017 features the poem “The Peasant Farmer and the Factory Worker” (O Agregado e o Operário) by Antônio Gonçalves da Silva, known as Patativa do Assaré (1909-2002), a popular Brazilian oral poet, improviser of oral verse, composer, singer, and guitar player.

The son of poor peasant farmers eking out a subsistence livelihood in the semi-arid hinterlands, known as the sertão, of the Northeast State of Ceará, Patativa began working at an early age on his family’s small plot of land. At the age of four, he lost his sight in one eye due to lack of medical assistance. With his father’s death four years later, he had to work as a farmhand to help his family, leaving him no time to attend school. During his six months of formal education, he learned to read and write.

God was his Master; Nature was his teacher.

Sertao Nordestino - Northeast Brazil (2)Sertão Nordestino – Northeast Brazil  [Photo Credit: poesiafaclube.com]

 

I was born listening to songs
of birds in my mountain terrain
and seeing wonderful marvels
that the beautiful woodlands enclose.
That is where I grew up
watching and learning
from the book of nature
where God is most visible
the heart most sensitive
and life has more purity.
Continue reading

One Holiday, Two Americas: Memorial Day Thoughts

“We — those of us in the non-fighting America, those of us for whom the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are abstractions — perhaps remain too comfortable, detached from something of desperate importance: the duty done far from home in our stead by the children of other people. And removed and distant from how the “best and brightest” of their families risk and sometimes give up everything they hold dear.”

Thank you, Dr. Stein, for reminding us of the families in the “Other America” who are making the ultimate sacrifice in America’s endless wars.

Dr. Gerald Stein

Some of our fathers and brothers, even our sisters and aunts, served in wartime. Some serve now. Perhaps you too.

Today is the day we honor the fallen in all the many conflicts of this, our country.

Can two Americas fit into a holiday designed for one?

Thus do the two Americas array themselves: those for whom service is a calling and those for whom it is an economic necessity; those powerful and those without prospects; those respected and those afraid; those with fat wallets and those with empty purses; the few who are part of our volunteer army and the majority who choose not to be.

When my father did his duty in World War II, walking the Champs-Élysées on the first Bastille Day after the liberation of Paris, there was such a thing as military conscription: able bodied young men were required to participate. In post-war Germany, as…

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Down Independence Boulevard And Other Stories by Ken Puddicombe

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Book Cover - Down Independence Boulevard and Other Stories by Ken Puddicombe

On May 26, Guyana celebrates 51 years as an independent nation. Independence did not come easy. Worker strikes, riots, lootings, burnings, beatings, rape, and killings turned the coexistence of the country’s multi-ethnic population into a toxic stew of animosity and mistrust. The so-called “racial disturbances” of the 1960s drove hundreds from their homes. Those who could, fled overseas.

In his collection of sixteen short stories, Down Independence Boulevard And Other Stories, Guyanese-Canadian author Ken Puddicombe, who migrated to Canada in 1971, takes us within the homes of families faced with racial violence and upheaval. With the keen eyes of a master story teller, Puddicombe lays bare their ruptured lives and re-invention as immigrants in a foreign country. Continue reading

On the Making of My Convent Novel

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When my friend and poet, Angela Consolo Mankiewicz, told me that my second novel had to be about my life in the convent, I balked at the idea. To embark on a journey back to a time and place that caused me grief would require some meaningful purpose. The 2012 documentary film, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, exploring the first known public protest against clerical sex abuse in the US, gave me the impetus I needed.

My convent novel, inspired by real events that took place in Guyana in the 1970s, had to be relevant to the present. To bash the nuns and priests would be unjust. Most religious men and women that I lived and worked with had devoted their lives to their God and strove to live according to His teachings. I have long forgiven those who had betrayed or abandoned me when I needed them most. Continue reading

“Destination” – Poem by Guyanese-Canadian Poet Janet Naidu

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East Indian Indentured Laborers

In commemoration of the centennial of the abolition of Indian Indentureship on March 12, 1917, my Poetry Corner May 2017 features the poem “Destination” by Janet Naidu, a Guyanese-born poet, writer, social activist, and life-skills coach. She migrated to Canada in 1975, at the age of twenty-two, where she obtained a BA in Political Science and Caribbean Studies from the University of Toronto and, later in life, an LLB from the University of London (UK).

With the abolition of slavery in 1834 and the end of the apprenticeship scheme in 1838, the mass exodus of ex-slaves from plantations across the British Empire created a dire need for a regular and reliable supply of labor. On May 5, 1838, the first group of about 400 Indian indentured laborers, on a five-year contract, arrived in British Guiana on the sailing ships, Whitby and Hesperus. By 1917, their numbers totaled over 238,000 Indians, comprising 42 percent of the colony’s population. Only 65,538 returned to India on terminating their contract. Janet Naidu’s grandparents from Tamil Nadu were among those who arrived on the SS Ganges on November 8, 1915.

Sailships Whitby and Hesperus arriving at Port Georgetown - British Guiana - May 5, 1838

Born in the village of Covent Garden, East Bank Demerara, Naidu was the seventh of eight children. Like his parents, her father was a cane cutter. Her mother sold home-grown, green vegetables in the market.

In “Destination” from her poetry collection, Rainwater (2005), Naidu conjures the immigrants’ fearsome voyage across the ocean for an unknown destination. Continue reading

Earth Day 2017: Environmental & Climate Science Literacy

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Earth Day 2017 - Adopt the Planet - NASA

Saturday, April 22nd, is Earth Day 2017. The theme is: Environmental & Climate Science Literacy. The three-year campaign begins with a March for Science rally on the National Mall in Washington D.C. It will bring together scientists and supporters to demand that our leaders recognize the scientific truths across all disciplines, including climate change and other environmental issues.

“We need to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet,” says Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network. “Environmental and climate literacy is the engine not only for creating green voters and advancing environmental and climate laws and policies but also for accelerating green technologies and jobs.”

Earth Day Network is publishing Earth Day and Teach-In toolkits online that lay out steps for holding a successful event. To learn more about Earth Day Network and March for Science go to www.earthday.org.