Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Today I am making cinnamon buns to take to class this morning, to the Indigenous Law Research Method and Practices class.  Rebecca calls it the Indigenous Summer Intensive.  That is because it runs for 3 hours, 3 days a week for one month.

It is hard to separate theory, method and practise. When Rebecca teaches the class it it more theory.

Val gives us more on the methods and practice side.

All of that doesn't matter.

Today there will be cinnamon buns to start the class.  Mmm.  Really the start of the class is going around the circle, each telling what they have been thinking about related to the last lesson.

However there will be coffee (bring your own) or tea on the table (make  your own) and a couple of loaves of bread that we can slice for people who don't like sugar.  As well she is taking in vegetables for the gluten-free people.

Why I am calling this post smellerama is I forgot to put the timer on.  I put it on, actually, but I don't know how to work the one on Rebecca's stove, so I have to count on the smell.  I can tell right now by the smell, about 7 minutes more without even looking in the oven.

Rebecca and Arta at the top of Mt. Pkols
The wind is blowing.

You can tell by the sweep of her feather earrings.
She will never change.
Just about 7 minutes more.

I can do the same thing with fondant.  I don't even need a thermometer anymore.

Too bad I don't make chocolates anymore.

I asked Rebeca what we are taking in for lunch.  She said we are eating the left-over cinnamon buns.

I hope not.


Hawaii - Banyon Trees

From Wyona
This is a picture of a banyon tree that I took in Hawaii
I am practising taking pictures with my camera.

What a place for practise!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Secwepemc, People, Lands and Law

Marianne and Ron Ignace
We are starting a Family Book Club. I am going to blog ideas I offer at the book club.

Together we selected a book called Secwepemc People, Lands and Laws and many families have the book now.

When I was in Calgary at Miranda and Richard's home, I picked up the book and there was an uncertain feeling to the physicality of it.

An unexpected stiffness.

I tried to turn the pages but they were sticking to each other.

“Someone might have spilled orange juice on that already,” he nodded when I asked about the book. I like that. The book on a family shelf, being read by someone, another little soul who can’t keep their cup of orange juice always upright near the book.

People are going to jump in on the emails, whenever they wish. I am hoping all will say something about the book – something about one page, a picture, a chapter, a story in the book, how the book is speaking to you, anyone new thing you learned.

 Here is what I first thought on picking up the book:

Secwepmec, People, Lands and Laws

I first noticed this is a 588 page book with a 35 page forward. I thought I would familiarize myself with the organization of the book. The title page is written in English and then Secwepemc -- Yeeri7 Stsqeys-kuw.  That must be the Secwepemc spelling of their name.

The next page lists the titles of the books from McGill-Queen’s Native and Northern Series.

I had no idea there were so many books in this series – 90 of them with fascinating titles.

I have some new florescent markers and I take them out, giving myself permission to write notes in the book along the margins or beside pictures. I don’t doubt that I will be wanting to talk about some of those titles later.

On first picking up the book, I spend more time looking at the table of contents, the index, the bibliography, and the lists of charts and pictures. I actually read part of the bibliography, each book in it, and then put a little tick mark as to where I stop reading so I can pick it up there, later, if I return to that task.


Lost in London

From Wyona

There is no better place to get lost that in London. I woke up at least once every hour after 3 a.m.

Finally I got up for the day just before 6 a.m. and I eft at 9:30 a.m. to go scout out show tickets.

Usually Greg does that now but I wanted to do it for myself and Moiya.

The 148 bus got me from Victoria to the hotel so I just wanted to get back to Victoria to get tickets for Wicked.

I just thought the bus went the same way only opposite.

The bus got really crowded and then emptied out. I used my brain to think about it and I figured out going and coming was not the same route.

So I got off the bus at Westminster Abbey, a great place to get lost. I walked across the river, looked for 148 to go back, but I could not find it.  I saw bus 88 and other familiar buses going on the wrong roads. I walked half way down the river before I figured out that all the buses were on diversion and none of them would stop.

I walked back to Westminster and changed plans.

I took five buses and three tube rides to check out 6 shows and get to Portobello, plus I bought a ticket for 42nd Street for 15 pounds.

I can hardly wait to take you there, Moiya.

I got an hour nap before leaving for the theatre at 6:25 p.m.

I got to Queensway tube station and the tube was closed so I had to go back to the bus stop which was crowded with people to get the bus and then another two buses and one tube ride to get to the show 10 minutes late.

There was ‘an incident’ one stop before Queensway tube station.

I am just happy that I was not the ‘incident’.

On the way to the show tonight I thought I might have to drop on the street and stay for the night but I persevered.

Victoria Station and the surrounding area has changed considerably since we lived here.

It is unrecognizable, there are so may high new handsome structures.

My room is very small, very small and it is at the end of a hall with no circulation, no air conditioning, and the window opens two inches.

Right now I am sitting with the hall door open to cool off the room.

The weather is grand though. I have to go outside to cool off.

Add caption
Now I am going to see if I can send some of the photos I took today while being ‘Lost in London’.

I am going to get tickets for’Bat Out of Hell’ at 9 a.m

I have to preview it for Moiya.



Cinnamon Buns for D&D

... Rebecca's collection of colourful nesting bowls ...
As well, bread before I flip it over
so that it can rise again
Val Napolean asked Rebecca and me what we were going to do for the rest of the day after we finished our walk up Mt Pkols.

I knew I wanted to make cinnamon buns for the D&D Club that runs every Saturday at our house, 1 pm to 5 pm.

It was 1 pm. I went home and made bread.

Duncan has a credit card with which he pays for the pizza that he orders for the group.

Duncan is modest with his orders with the card, knowing that it is blocked from having too many charges put on it. 

Still he has no idea of what that final number is, the one he is not to go over.

He pays for 3 large pizzas at the door, I notice, as I am taking a small pile of compost out to the garbage and waiting for the bread to rise.
... pans read for the oven ...

Rebecca tells me that she will help roll the cinnamon buns. 

I have no expectation that she is going to help, so I am pleasantly surprised and the job is done so quickly that it hardly feels like a job.

We go downstairs to wait for the bread to rise and Rebecca puts on a u-tube lecture by Robin Wall Kinnerer.

She is an ethno biologist in her real life. And she is also an Annishnabee woman, who on this video is telling us about the Indigenous “Teaching of the Seventh Fire”.

 I take notes.  I am interested because she has laid aside her professional work and is story telling.  Or maybe she has combined both.

Having the words go though my hands and be captured on paper seems to be my best way of learning.

 She begins by telling us that she has nothing to tell us that we don’t already know. She feels that her lecture is just to help us remember.

cinammon and sugar in the red bowl
cinnamon in a glass jar
margarine in blue topped tupperware
We have a discussion about which of these items
it is ethical to waste.  We decide, none of them.

And then she says phrases like “our teachers are the plants” or she asks the question, “what is it that we love too much to lose?”.

So I can see she was right.

She is only helping us to remember what we already know.

Of course, the lecture gets interrupted every time there is another step to go so that the cinnamon buns get on the table fast enough that the boys can have their fill before they leave.

What they don’t eat, Rebecca forces them to take home.

That is not hard.


Monday, May 21, 2018

A Class Hike on Mt Pkols

... look way down the path for the rest of the hikers ...
People who are in the Indigenous Legal Methods university course decided to meet at the lower parking lot of Mt. Pkols for a hike on Saturday of the Victoria Day long weekend.

 Dr. Val Napolean and Rebecca said that they would stop along the way up the hill, talking about the plants on the mountain and giving us some stories to attach to the trails.

Liam. Emily. Catherine. Niko. Alex. Val. Rebecca. Arta. Liam’s puppy.

That was the group of us going up the hill. Val picked trails that I haven’t walked before. There was a rock scramble at the top to finally get to the summit.

One of the stops along the way was at a small bridge to talk about Skunk Cabbage.

I am not unfamiliar with skunk cabbage.

The flowers are gone now and the leaves are losing that new greenness and becoming more the forest green that I am accustomed to.

The leaves of the skunk cabbage are used to line fire pits.
... time for a rest and a drink of water ...

Then food is wrapped in them.

The leaves don’t smell, only the flowers do.

The plant has a waxy water-filled leaf.

The outside leaves eventually scorch in the pit fire and burn, going to ashes, leaving the food ready to be eaten.

Another interesting point is that if the deer are eating the skunk cabbage and are shot shortly afterward, the meat picks up that “skunk” smell.

The beginning stages of another flower in the forest in the Fall, signals that it is time to kill the deer, but not before then.

I think Rebecca also said that this is a plant that doesn’t want to attract the usual bees and butterflies to pollinate, but needs to have the same pollinators who will eat rotting meat: worms, flies and insects.

I like making lists, so I was interested in the four categories of plants on the hill: food, medicine, tools and indicator plants.

Moss on the side of a number of trees is a good indicator of where the sun is, for instance.

 This all goes to the argument that we can learn from plants – that they give us knowledge, food, etc.

Since I am thinking about this right now, there is no doubt that the trunks of young trees are tools for me.

 I was trying to keep up with people who can scramble up mountains.

 I feel some disconnect to the bottoms of my feet.

 They have fewer nerves than they used to have that help me find balance. But knowing that, I was careful to walk slowly, make sure I had the potential to remain stable, and I did grab onto branches when necessary since there are no bannisters in the forest.

The Douglas Firs are so large in the rainforest part of this hike. I stood by one and couldn’t see to the top of it. Rebecca told the story of Xels (sounds like hails, but spitting a bit on the “h” sound), a creation story. Rebecca said that the story goes, in the world, there had been a big guy, clumsy, knocking down streets and accidentally kicking people out into the ocean. He was turned into a Douglas Fir. The warning is that his big feet are still stripping people. I got it. I am to watch for the roots of the Douglas Fir as I walk – they are a tripping hazard. Rebecca also reminded us of the cedars, every piece of them giving – ropes, branches, containers, beds to lay on at night, etc.

The orange honey suckle is out on the hill– the vine weaving itself around trunks and branches so that it looks like trees are in bloom. The orange is so vivid that it is one of the outstanding colours of the forest right now.

We stopped to taste a small leaf growing by the path, long, green, delicious, the taste reminiscent of the lemony and bitter taste of arugula.

Broom is in bloom as well – a brilliant yellow flowers on the bushes. Purists know it is an invasive specious, and so there was some talk of trying to remove it from the hill, but bushes of it are everywhere. Not to make a laundry list, but all of the plants we saw were ones that are familiar to us from the interior: Oregon grape bushes along the side of the road, for example and Rebecca picked some salmon berry leaves to show how to make them into cones that can hold berries, when berry picking time arrives.

Val stopped us on the hill to point out the humming birds that were flitting, then diving in a small copse of trees. As well, below us, we could see the eagles soaring on currents of wind.

At the summit there is a 360 degree view of the world. Someone asked why some of the property looked like agricultural land, wondering really, why it hadn’t been sold into residential properties over the years. The reason is that on coming to this port, this area was taken over by the navy who used the large cedar pools for their ships. They had the prime interests in that land. So the cedar trees of the area were logged out by those early colonizers. Then the government took over the land and could see that it would be better to keep this area as a preserve. Thus the names of the streets around this district are Cedar Hill Road, Cedar Crossing, Cedar Hill Cross Street, Cedarwood Street, Cedar Cove, etc.

Dr. Val Napoleon invited us to her home afterward. We had muffins, one a blend of quinoa flour, millet seeds, dates and figs. The other muffin has sugar sprinkled on the top. Val said that was because she had forgotten to put it in the batter. I thought that was an innovative way to solve that problem I have had myself. I drank red Chinese tea brought to the party by Catherine, one of the students. Rebecca wanted to know what is special about red Chinese tea. There was no answer. I am going to have to go to google to find out.

After eating, the conversation turn to work we are doing in class, since that is the one thing we all have in common – trying to find meaning to the words Legal Process in the context of Indigenous stories. I don’t know how many times this fact has to be confirmed for me as we talk about these stories: there are no right and wrong answers. The stories have multiple interpretations and our job is to figure out what those are. The stories are coming at us with such speed, one layering on top of another. I love talking about ideas after a long hike and then having refreshments in front of us.

What is the issue in the story? Where are the facts (both said and unsaid)? What can the interpretation be. And what facts are bracketed – important maybe but to be thought about later.

It is Victoria Day week-end.

A marching band was out practising their instruments, going up and down the streets, marching and playing tunes. 

We heard and saw them going both ways, up the street and down the street.

Best day ever.


Deadpool, 2 by Arta

I joined the Johnson-Carter family as they went to see Deadpool 2 on Saturday.

I asked Rebecca what this film was about and she said “Don’t you remember? You read me parts of the review. You said, well, I can pass on that movie”.

Then I remembered that this is a Marvel Comics movie and that in the review the writer said that the film is full of allusions, and then laundry listing them. I knew that to really understand the film, I would first have to have a lecture on that list, since I could only figure out about 4 of the allusions and the catch-words for the other 11 -15 allusions was lost on me.

I did get the Barbara Streisand song from Yentel, “Papa can you hear me”, and “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” from Annie was in my social memory. When we got home from the movie, Rebecca, Steve and I sat and talked about what had been fun.

Rebecca missed the first part of the movie for she was still in the food line-up at the theatre concession. Ordering a hot dog could be a fast option, unless the workers haven’t been putting them on the grill as fast as they have been selling them. So while she waiting for the internal temperature of a sausage to rise, we were seeing the smart and classy beginning to a movie that is filled with layers of meaning – most of which just go right by me.

I don’t know the actors. And I don’t know the previous movie that has carried the characters along to the point where we now see them again on film. This didn’t make the rapid succession of shots during car-chase scenes any less interesting, nor the reference to the jails less deep. I don’t know the characters, Dopinder or Negasonic or Cable, or even Deadpool so I came out of the starting gate a little slow.

I am glad to have read the review for the only jump-start available to me – I will probably go back to Deadpool 3 if such a movie occurs.