Love of Home and Books With Stained Pages

This is daydreaming and not really a book review, but I’m now reading Helen Oyeyemi and scanning Naomi Klein’s latest tome now and I just listened to a podcast interview of the Peruvian-born novelist, Daniel Alarcon, in which there was considerable discussion of the violence and corruption in Peru between the early 1980’s and early 1990’s (Shining Path and repressive regimes being the major killers). His parents are physicians who sought opportunity in the US early on before the “troubles.” Alarcon writes (in English) figuratively about Peru – and the US also comes under the umbrella of his allegory.

Back to the books:

First: The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi. With interruptions. It has been slow to get into. It is a library borrowing that has evidence of more than one spill of brownish liquid. Notes are helpful because I do not retain character names and details easily. Never have, but it gets worse as I approach my 70th birthday. It is about two related characters:

1. A young woman living in London named Maja whose father, a university prof,  left Cuba under Fidel Castro, having apparently (it’s complex, and I’m not finished) become tired of the thought police looking over his shoulder. Her mother, a Santero born also in Cuba with a long ancestral lineage from Nigeria’s  Yoruba-centred Santeria religion, frustrates her husband with her altar and devotions that he considers superstitious. Maja likes to sing and her observations are becoming quite wonderful.

2. The second character is a Yoruban goddess, Yemaya (Aya) who lives in a magical “Opposite House” that has one door in Lagos and one in London. I’m currently two thirds through this book and loving it. I can understand the stained pages – evidence of a book that cannot be put down even while eating…  or a cookbook… in both cases loved. Maybe I will seek out similarly abused books deliberately in the future. I’m reminded of a fabulous song that made #1 in 1944 called You Always Hurt The One You Love by the Mills Brothers.

Second: This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. This 2014 book I’ve just begun. I’m familiar with many issues in it, so I’m just scanning quickly and highlighting names and key words here and there. Klein’s conscientious footnotes cover almost 60 pages. A great reference for any activist. Continue reading “Love of Home and Books With Stained Pages”

Independence And Interdepedence

Le Tour de l’Îsle

Our Camino Frances began in Saint-Jean-Pied-De-Port in Basque Country, France. It made me think of my native province of Québec and the aspirations of many Québecois for some form of “independence.” Walking through the beautiful, often unspoiled, countryside in Basque France (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) and Spain (Navarre) made me sensitive to some of the legitimate reasons why choosing a different path into the future might make some sense. Globalization in its current form doesn’t. A path that has respect for the old and the traditional ways that were more in tune with Mother Earth would hold a certain attraction.

In 1659 my ancestor, Abel Turcault, sailed from La Rochelle, France, to Québec. I trace my roots to Abel through 10 generations.

Abel was granted a farm on Îsle d’Orléans, an island in the Fleuve St-Laurent near Québec city. The parish church of Sainte-Famille is the oldest parish church in North America still standing. Abel is buried in the yard there, though his grave is, like all the other very old ones, unmarked. The island is 42 miles (quarante-deux miles) in circumference. It is a “little camino” for locals and tourists, who do “le tour de l’île” by bicycle or on foot. I have done two tours de l’île… par automobile.

My ancestor operated a windmill. His mill ground wheat into flour.  When I saw the windmills between Pamplona and Puente la Reina I was reminded that the new has taken over the old. The bread of our new world is electricity.

A canadien songwriter, Félix Leclerc, wrote a song called  Le Tour de l’Îsle for his adopted home. It is very much a love song to the ancient island, which is still very French.

The old Québecois lived in harmony with nature. The ways of the new people of Québec, French or English, are not sustainable.

Félix Leclerc’s song is, I now realize, a song about respect for tradition and interdependence, not simply about independence.

August 2008 – Québec, “La BelleProvince”

This is an old blog recovered from my old website. From time to time I will post one of these. The photos all need to be uploaded, so I don’t do this often… It records a road trip back to Montréal,  Québec City and Ile d’Orléans. It deals also with my France and Ile d’Orléans roots. I can trace my family tree back to the time of Louis XIII in France.

The church where my ancestor, Abel Turcault, is buried

Ste. Adèle

Mary’s home in Ste. Adèle

We began our August with a road trip to Québec, the province where I was born and raised. Continue reading “August 2008 – Québec, “La BelleProvince””