Saturday, 18 June 2011

The pen

Funny day - misty, humid....but sun trying to breath through.

I have a new favorite smell - I should probably say, fragrance. I walked into the living room the other day to get my laptop and I smelled it. Now, we mostly use the living room in the fall, winter and early spring. When we need the fireplace on. It is now suffused with woodsmoke. A sweet, musky sort of scent.

I'd also placed a vase of peony in there a day or so ago. I walked in yesterday and was gently struck (does that make sense) by the combined aroma. How beautiful and unexpected. Old woodsmoke - like settled happiness - and fresh, new, sweet peony - like a joyous child. Together. I swear I could have just sunk to the sofa and sat there all say.

but instead, I tool the laptop and left. but have found many reasons to wander back through. To sip the fragrance rather than gulp it. to savour it, and leave. So as not to run the risk of it growing mundane.

The pool people just arrived. Our pump for the pool is broken, and had to be shut off two days ago. Yikes. We watched and waited for the pool to turn green. Fortunately the worst of the heat was over and it grew cool at night - so far, so good. And now, bless them, the pool repair people have arrived.

Not the worst problem in the world to have, granted - but a problem nevertheless. And now it seems to be enroute to being solved.

Have a birthday party for a friend at noon today. Joan rose. One of the funniest people I've ever met. I think I've blogged about her before. She grew up with Michael and his sister Carol - and knew Michael's formidable mother. Joan could read an obituary and somehow people would laugh. She, oddly, has quite a severe face at times - but one you listen to what she's saying, she's hilarious. And very generous. One of these people with a gift for friendship. So, we're off to celebrate her.

Then a party tonight.

Oh, as you can see by the photo - the Arthur Ellis's the Crime Writer's of Canada award for Bury Your Dead, for best novel this year. Wonderful award!

And I joined the terrific Yamaska Literacy people at the Cowansville Penitentiary yesterday for a couple of hours. Spoke to the inmates in the literacy programme about being a writer....and the obvious importance of reading, for me. It was so impressive. Half the inmates there are tutors - teaching their fellow inmates - and the other half are adult learners. I didn't ask why they were there in the pen. All that mattered at that moment was why there were there in that room. For some to teach and for some to learn - and for all, to feel more human. Including us.

There is no doubt that there is a direct link between an inability to read and write, and poverty - and crime. this isn't a subjective issue - a guess. There are clear and undeniable facts. Evidence. Statistics. And inmates who learn to read, and write, are far less likely to commit another crime when they leave. Because they have more options. And because, with luck, they are less angry, less fearful. They feel more a part of the world around them. They understand better the world around them.

And yet, the Harper government has cut funding for prison libraries.

My understanding is, they have now given the responsibility to the institutions themselves...but no more money for it. So now, strapped prisons must find extra money to maintain or create libraries.

I'm not sure what Michael and I can do - but we're sure going to try to do something.

But - more than lamenting what might happen, I came away feeling immensely, immeasurably the literacy volunteers from the community, who do this because it's the right thing to do. Without thanks or ceremony. And deeply impressed by the inmates - for helping each other - teaching each other. Applauding each other. Apparently a few years ago this was a deeply divided community - but having a common goal - reading - has helped bring them together.

One of the inmates - Colin - won the prize in a contest, open to the whole Eastern townships - not inmates, but the entire population - for a radio play he's written! Isn't that amazing. We got to give him his prize.

And - another inmate - Greg - has written an article (for Canadian Families apparently) on what it's like to raise two children while in prison. He's been in since 1994.

Something to think about as Father's Day approaches.

And - Happy Father's Day!!! for tomorrow.


darlene said...

My extended family and I have spent good portions of our lives in corrections and the justice system. The longer one is involved in those areas, the more it seems apparent that many offenders would never have done so given a better set of life circumstances. So many have so little opportunity. To cut what chance they have in prison to improve themselves is shortsighted. We will all pay for it eventually in many ways, some very unpleasant.

I have an iris with a captivating scent: sort of clove-like, with maybe a touch of cinnamon. Divine!
(For me everything comes back to food) :) Birthday cake, yessss!

Happy Father's Day, Michael!

Miss Diane said...

Tout cela porte à réfléchir...

H. L. Banks said...

Wonderful, sensitive post and raising the awareness of the library situation for prisons is so needed.