Sunday, October 19, 2014
2 - 4:30 p.m.
Note: Changed to 3rd Sunday of the month due to
Knox College, Room 4, 59 St. George Street,
between College & Harbord
Entrances on St. George and King's College Circle,
acessible entrance from lot on north side of Knox.
Street parking or lot available
Topic: RESIDENT-DRIVEN THEATRE IN
LONG-TERM CARE HOMES
Presenter: ADÈLE KOEHNKE,
STORYTELLER, TEACHER, ARTIST
Adèle Koehnke was born in Toronto. She is equally interested in art, drama, writing and storytelling. A member of East Side Storytellers and Storytellers for Children, Adèle has been committed to storytelling since the1970s when she wrote and told stories in her children's school and taught Creative Drama to Preschoolers in Seneca College's summer program.
As a volunteer, she has produced and acted in community cable television dramas, programming for children, cooking, and interview programs. Adèle lectures on her maternal grandmother, Doris Speirs, and her life in art. A contemporary of the Group of Seven, she learned to paint from them and inspired many artists. Adele's unique way of telling her original stories with drawings done as she talks reflects her artist-grandmother's influence.
Adèle is also a poet. The League of Canadian poets awarded Adèle first prize for "Pink Hat with Feather," about reconciliation with her father.
When Adèle became sole support for her two children, she worked full time as a secretary. She learned good typing and office skills, now underpinnings to her storytelling business.
In 2002 Adèle took a government-offered Self Employment Assistance Program. She produced a business plan and registered "Adèle's Stories" as a small business. From letters and continuous phone calls she now has weekly, biweekly and monthly engagements. Clients include retirement residences, schools, long-term care homes, and libraries. Her writing projects are lively and original. She once wrote a whimsical tale for a group of doctors' Christmas party.
About six years ago a long-term care home resident told Adèle that she and other residents wanted to write interactive stories, then act them out as Adèle did and perform in other venues. The staff enthusiastically supported their initiative and found venues at other homes and the grounds of the Guild Inn.
Ulysseans and visitors are invited to hear Adèle talk about this unique theatre process.
Visitors are welcome
INTEREST GROUPS AND
Saturday, October 18, 2:00-4:00 p.m. Wychwood Library, 1431 Bathurst St. Contact: Marie Paulyn
Memoir Writing Workshop
Friday, October 31, 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Virginia Rock's home near Bay/Bloor. Please RSVP Virginia if interested in attending
Date and Place TBA. Please contact Vivian Haar if interested in attending
Mosaic Planning Lunch
Monday, November 3, December 8 12-1:30 p.m.
Granite Brewery & Restaurant, 245 Eglinton Ave. E.
(enter from Mt. Pleasant)
Contact: Daniel Karpinski
November General Meeting
Date: November 9 same time and place as above
Topic: Human Rights Disability Style
Presenter: John Rae, Human Rights Advocate
General Meeting Report
September 14, 2014
Topic: Discovering My Family in World War I
Speaker: Margaret Stowe, Musician, Teacher, Writer
The meeting held at Knox College on Sunday, September 14 was called to order by our President and Program Chair Virginia Rock. Bob Allen read the Ulyssean Creed and lit the candle.
Business matters included the announcement of meeting dates, times and places for September/October Interest Groups-Memoir Writing, the Inquiring Mind, Play Reading and Mosaic Planning, listed in the Entre Nous sent to members and also available on the display table in the back.
Paul Nash introduced our speaker, Margaret Stowe, who has many interests-playing the guitar which she teaches; a passion for music, especially jazz and blues; recently she has been pursuing family history. Her fascinating subject, "Discovering My Family in World War One," was presented with enthusiasm and a feeling of discovery.
Margaret's mother, Ruth Wallace Jaffrey, passed away last year, leaving a box of mementos from her family dating back 100 years to World War I. Searching through these letters, photos, postcards, journals and diaries, Margaret exclaimed, "My ancestral hormones surrounded me!" She found that her maternal grandmother, Alma, a doctor's wife, had collected newspaper clippings of the period. These were passed down to her daughter. In the box discovered in 2013 she had placed her grandfather's photo albums, sketches he had made, a mini periscope.
There was nothing much from her father's side of the family relating to the War, Margaret reported. But one intriguing photograph of his father shows the kind of work he did. He was a "linesman" as his father and father's father had been before him. There he was, half way up a very tall telephone pole, leaning outward, arm triumphantly raised to complete his daring pose. Two other unidentified workmen, Bell Canada's Lifers, embodied a bit of history. This photograph led to further research in the Bell Archives.
Margaret's mother's family was quite different. Her grandfather, Dr. Reginald Jaffrey, a very distinguished doctor, discovered a vaccine for the Spanish flu, a deadly epidemic that flourished and killed millions during World War I. Immunology did not exist at that time.
A photo of Dr. Jaffrey seated with his associates all dressed in their uniforms is a record of officers who led the Canadian Army Medical Corps in the First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Her research identified many others in that photo.
Margaret depicted excitement, fervor and tensions in the way she told the dramatic story about the entrance of Canada into World War I:
The First Contingent totalling 30,000 enlisted men and officers (only 6,000 were expected) departed from Valcartier, the primary Canadian training base built in Quebec in 1914. On September 25 on a secret mission, they sailed in complete silence up the St. Lawrence in 33 ships to meet the Newfoundland Regiment and six British escort ships. They landed in Plymouth, England.
Margaret devoted some time to family members who were pilots in the Royal Flying Corps, their uniform thought to be one of the proudest worn by a Canadian. Flying was one of the most dangerous wartime jobs. Over half the Royal Flying Corps pilot deaths in World War I were in training. Photos of various kinds of World War I planes (like "tin cans") as well as family- member pilots brought this aspect of World War I to life.
Many photos from family albums, historical accounts and newspaper articles (e.g., the Victory parade in London) contributed to Margaret's reconstruction of the history of family members, their relationships, their activities, tragedies and deaths in the World War I period. These stories, Margaret said, "can bring me to tears in an instant."
Additional information about Margaret's family history is available from links on her music career website, www.margaretstowe.com.
Hearing what was involved in her research, where she looked for and found information to identify people in photos and to work out family relationships, how archives can be useful, was a kind of bonus. We could see how research can be challenging, intriguing and fun. Margaret strongly encouraged each of us to begin our own journey into family history.
A lively discussion with Ulysseans sharing some personal stories followed Margaret's presentation. Beverly Bloom thanked her for her informative, engrossing talk.
After a break for refreshments and conversazione, we reconvened to hear members of the Play Reading group present excerpts from three scenes from John Murrell's Waiting for the Parade. The play is a reflective look at war from the point of view of five Calgary women on the home front during World War II. The performers were Vivian Haar as Eve, Elizabeth Allen as Catherine, Virginia Rock as Janet, Lois Linett as Margaret and Shirley Gibson was the narrator.
To end the meeting Bob Allen read the Ulyssean benediction and extinguished the candle.
-Joan Appelby and Virginia Rock
Memoir Writing Workshop
Four of us met on September 19-Lois Linett, Marvin Goody, Angelina Mihaljcic and Virginia Rock-for our monthly workshop on memoir writing. We reported on various ways we have been trying to help ourselves in the process. Keeping in mind some significant differences between autobiography and memoir, we have a guide for choosing what to include: an autobiography is usually chronological and aims to cover a part if not the whole of the author's life; a memoir is more selective, focussing on a particular period (e.g., childhood), and recalling and weaving together remembered details that capture the author's experiences and sense of self. This rough distinction may be a helpful guide in finding a focus and ways to move our memoir along. We agreed that photographs are a particularly useful resource to help us remember the past.
Lois, a long-time participant in the Memoir Writing Workshop, in response to my request for feedback on what was useful or illuminating to her from our discussions, wrote a particularly revealing reply; I have her permission to include it in this report:
"We had been asked to write on a topic to bring as this month's contribution. I chose to write a piece on 'How aging affects your perception of ______.' My aging (or should I say 'maturity'?) has certainly played a role in my perception of my family members. Recalling events for the purpose of memoir writing suddenly laid asunder my stern attitudes and severe recollections by looking back on them with a keener eyesight. Call it wisdom if you wish or, more appropriately, a greater understanding of what I now recognize as seeking out the whys of someone's behaviour and establishing a cause and effect rather than pointing at their personality flaws.
"I liked what Angelina said, 'Writing is an act of forgiveness.' This statement has so much meaning for me. By writing, I learned what I failed to understand as a younger person. This was truly an eye opener."
"It has been for me, too," I said and mentioned a part of my memoir I am currently writing: "My Father/My Dad." He's a difficult subject and our relationship was troubled. "But I see him differently now," I confessed.
We discussed perceptions of ourselves vs. perceptions of us by others, noting how different they might be and why. Using this exchange as a "prompt," we wrote for a short time, later reading what we had recorded, a revealing exercise. The assignment for the next meeting of the Workshop is to continue (or begin anew) with this topic. We meet Friday October 31 at my apartment. Phone me if you are coming.
A footnote: in the course of our discussion the subject of books we are reading came up. Marvin enthusiastically recommended: Einstein Wrote Back by John Moffat, More Please by Barry Humphries (Dame Edna) and Till Morning Comes, a novel by Han Suyin. We also learned that Marvin writes limericks, lots of them. I asked him to contribute some to Entre Nous and he agreed, giving us the web site for a selection. It was difficult to choose from such a richness. (Four of them follow below.)
Some six years ago I learned of the OEDILF, the Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form, begun in 2005 by C. J. (Chuck) Strolin with the aim of creating a limerick definition for every word in the English language. I became a contributor and have thus far had some 250 limericks accepted for inclusion. The criteria are summarized and (I hope!) exemplified in my limerick on the word "concision":
You should try to define with precision;
Get it right, if you must, with revision.
Your lim ought to limn,
Be expressed with some vim,
And with wit's soul -- in brief, with concision!
"Brevity is the soul of wit." --Polonius, in Hamlet, Act 2, scene 2
Lim is short for limerick.
Here are a few others:
Clemens, Samuel Langhorne; Twain, Mark
In my dream came the voice of Mark Twain:
"Yes, the follies of man gave me pain;
But to cast brickbats at a
Sacred cow was non grata--
So I went for the jocular vein!"
Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens; 1835-1910) was a celebrated American humorist, humanist, polemicist and atheist.
This is a jocular imagining of something he could have said -- not an actual quote.
Look, I know my own mind, I'm not budgin'.
Don't you cross me, I'll get in high dudgeon.
Yes, I'm constantly grumpy,
And I make others jumpy --
I am proud to be called a curmudgeon.
Said a militant atheist: "Look,
I've examined your sect's holy book.
Its pretensions I slam,
It's a priest-written scam,
And it's loaded with gobbledygook!"
No reference to any particular holy book is intended. In my humble opinion, all qualify to varying degrees.
The OEDILF, modelling itself on the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), is working through the alphabet, with a completion date currently projected to be 2043. So far it is up to the letter 'F' and comprises well over 50,000 limericks (often multiple limericks for one word) from several hundred contributors. Readers are invited to browse at www.oedilf.com. Try creating your own limericks, five lines with the rhyme scheme AABBA.
- Marvin Goody
On Saturday, November 8 at 1:30-4:30 p.m., Linda Stitt's words and music salon makes a one-time departure from the first Saturday of the month. Invited guest performers that date include musicians, poets, and a storyteller.
Ann Elizabeth Carson, the featured writer/poet, has presented two memorable programs at The Ulyssean Society, one reading her prose profiles and poetry, and one earlier this year with John Rammell, reading letters exchanged between poets Dorothy Rath and Irving Layton. As usual, Linda hosts this popular no-cover event at Portobello Restaurant and Bar, 995 Bay Street (between Bloor and Wellesley); the following salon is on December 1.
Linda is making her first venture into the world of e-books. In early 2015 (rescheduled from last month) she will release Talking to Myself, a retrospective of her best poetry. She has 10 solo books and three co-writes to draw from. The books section of her website at www.lindastitt.com includes one to three selections from each. In the meantime, she is selecting new poems for her upcoming 14th book. Linda presented her poetry at a Ulyssean Society meeting in October 2011, and we are fortunate that she stayed to become an active member.
Healing at September Inquiring Mind
Some time ago the CBC program "Ideas" ran a series of talks on healing-what it is, what it is not and what it means to "die healed." Dr. Jean-Charles Crombez, psychiatrist and Director of Research on Healing at Notre Dame Hospital (MTBL), says, "When we feel ill we go to a doctor, get a prescription, wait for a cure to come from the outside. In fact, we must reach inside of ourselves-the power of healing is already there."
When I speak about powers I mean abilities; our innate ability to heal is overlooked, we ignore our "terrain," the environment we live in, our socio-economic factors. They all contribute to health and to illness.
Healing is an invisible process in us; you do not have to act on it, you have to think how you help it or acknowledge how you disturb it. So we have to learn how to enhance the healing process so it works alongside the cure.
There are three states of well documented mind or emotions that get in the way of healing-loneliness, dead-end and doubt. This is a bleak and stark situation; all three have a big impact about well being or not well being. They increase our vulnerability and decrease the healing processes. The "dead-end" is a kind of hopelessness and doubt prevents inner abilities to act upon our bodies.
First, one has to acknowledge the situation and then act upon it, open new doors. For some people praying enhances their healing capabilities.
We discussed all the three components and how to tackle each one of them in order to enhance curing. Sometimes people who are ill decide to change--they would say, "I have to take care of me." At the time they begin to heal, sometimes it is too late for curing, it is never too late for healing and people feel well, even if they die. Anyway, everybody will die, the question is how to die healed. It is the quality of life, not the reality of death.
We decided to continue on the same "Ideas on Healing" program. Next month it will be on the neurological and psychological role of healing.
Margaret Stowe's enthusiastic and informative presentation to The Ulyssean Society on her recent discovery of her family's involvement in World War I led me to explore its impact on my family. My grandfather served as a machine-gunner as part of the Canadian Expeditionary force. He was wounded twice. I have his medals hanging on the wall. I also have a desk he built as part of a rehabilitation program after the war. It served me well during my school years and was a source of pride.
Joseph A. Nash (I respect his wishes by not telling you what the A stood for) died in 1945 when I was six months old so I never knew him. All those who knew him-wife, children, siblings, legion members-are gone and I regret having missed the opportunity to speak to them about him. So I am left to pour over cards and pictures his daughter saved in a blue suitcase.
One item is a military postcard he sent to his wife. He was not allowed to write anything on it except the completion of the sentence "I received your letter of __________." The rest of the card was a series of stock phrases he could leave or cross out as he judged appropriate. For example, "I am quite well, I have been admitted to hospital sick or wounded, I have received no letter from you." Add anything to the card and it would be destroyed. It seems such a cold and restricted channel of communication for a man facing the worst horrors of his life. On the other hand many soldiers kept the worst of their experiences from their loved ones both during and after the war.
I showed the card to Margaret and she told me that soldiers often sent cards through the French postal service to avoid the army restrictions. So I dug back into a suitcase and found six beautiful French postcards with hand-made lace and embossing. Almost a century old, the colours were fresh and vivid and Joe was able to write "I love you" to his wife and the daughter he hadn't yet seen.
Historians suggest that much of today's culture and politics is the consequence of WWI. I think many individuals can trace elements of their upbringing to WWI. My father felt his father was quite distant. I ponder the distance that soldiers often develop towards new recruits, fearful they will soon die and wonder how this affected Joe's ability to be a loving father. He was with the Canadian Legion up until his death, 27 years after the Armistice. How many veterans became staunch legion members and what did it provide for them?-perhaps companions who understood what they had experienced or their long, brooding silences.
Thank you, Margaret, for leading me to these memories.
- Paul Nash
Thank You to:
Vivian Haar for her service as Treasurer since last March. Vivian has decided to step down from the positions of Treasurer and a member of the Steering Committee. Her volunteering to serve as Treasurer at the time when we needed someone to take on that responsibility was much appreciated. She continues to coordinate our play reading group, which welcomes additional participants.
Beverly Bloom for her for excellent assistance to Vivian helping her with details of a very complex job.
Lindsay Wu for her writing articles, preparing and mailing the August and September issues of Entre Nous. We wish her well as she continues her studies at the University of Toronto.
News About Ulyssean Society Positions
We are pleased to announce that Beverly Bloom resumes the position of Treasurer and rejoins the Steering Committee. She welcomes cheques for any membership contributions (tax-deductible) for the calendar year, payable to "The Ulyssean Society" to be sent to her at 421 - 3179 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M4N 3P5, or given to her at the General Meeting, October 19. Membership forms are available at meetings or by mail or email on request. Bev was confirmed as treasurer by a unanimous vote of the Steering Committee convened after the September 14 General Meeting.
Margot Rosenberg resumes responsibilities as editor for the layout and preparation of Entre Nous for the printer; her expertise greatly facilitates and enhances its production. Any member submissions for Entre Nous should be sent to her, either by email or regular mail. Margot continues to post Entre Nous to our Web site.
Seeking Your Newsletter Contributions
The Ulyssean Society has members who are wonderfully creative, reflective, active learners and adventurers. This Entre Nous issue contains some fine examples. Share YOUR interests We would love to get better acquainted with our members by reading about
- creative writing
- something new learned
- recent or past adventures
- interests and talents
- interesting books read
- your own topic
Note that our November 9 meeting date leaves only a short time to prepare our next Entre Nous issue. Send submissions any time to Margot Rosenberg. Building a collection of submissions would avoid last-minute requests.
A Poor, Sad Woman
She's always sitting and when you get close to her you smell a waft of urine. She scratches her head frequently and always clutches a purse. She chews constantly. She isn't eating but her mouth is always going.
She's moderately overweight and about average height. She'll sometimes yell out to you in what I think is Russian. A few times I have yelled back that I don't understand Russian. She also talks to herself.
She usually wears a purple top and black skirt and cardigan. She wears an open cut type of shoe with straps that are tight on her but there is a lot cut away.
She looks about 75-83 years. I see her sit in the lounge of my apartment building or at the mall close to me. I've seen her there for months.
I told my superintendent about her because I thought she needed help and he said that she was approached and said, when asked what she was doing, "I'm waiting for my children." He said her heart is probably broken. I think she has dementia.
(Written for a Fundamentals of Reporting class at George Brown College a few years ago)
- Beverly Bloom
To be a Ulyssean
To gain entry to the country and company of the Ulyssean people no passport is required. No restrictions exist as to race, class, religion, political ideology, or education... just the reverse. The Ulyssean country is an open society of older adults of every racial group; its members include every degree of wealth and non-wealth, every level of education, every form of belief and non-belief. No period of years of residency is required for citizenship; citizenship exists but it is not a static thing conferred at a ceremony. To be a Ulyssean is a process, not a state, a process of becoming, and great Ulysseans would describe themselves as voyagers, not inhabitants.
by John McLeish, from The Ulyssean Society Newsletter, February 1982
Famous examples exist of men and women who chose solitude by their own act: nuns who chose the world-denying loneliness of the convent because of some domestic tragedy; priests who sought out silent orders because of past crimes or terrible sorrows or religious mysticism, or Richard Byrd deliberately choosing to live wholly in solitude in the white desert of Antarctica for six months--he wrote the book Alone to record the experience.
But for the great numbers of human adults aloneness comes involuntarily. Read some time Van Wyck Brook's lovely little biography of Hellen Keller who knew the rare loneliness of the loss of the communication senses (incredibly, the book leaves one with a sense of healing and sombre joy). People outlive their relatives and friends if they have not taken the precaution to renew their circles. Others, like the extraordinary Toronto man who being wholly immobilized in the nursing home, has trained himself to take imaginary journeys from time to time across the face of the world, have the aloneness of physical confinement.
Perhaps it is an exaggeration to say that "aloneness, or the handling of it, is the greatest life art" -- but it is one of the great life arts. If some day, by the force of destiny, we have to cope with total aloneness (true, it is rare, but it is always possible), what strategies have we prepared to handle it, to use it?
Prisoners like Robert the Bruce and the Bird Man of Alcatraz taught themselves to reach out and study small creatures and workings of nature. St. John of the Cross taught himself to use poetry and meditation to open a new inward country. Belle Buchanan, who is described in The Ulyssean Adult, taught herself to see her life daily as a continuing drama (pp. 236-9) in defeating utter solitude and the threat of senility.
One great instrument of power in defeating utter loneliness is the rich use of memory-- deliberately reaching back to draw from the storehouse of one's past, scenes which can be re-played many times. Ulysseans also can use fantasy each day, wisely and richly, to fill the mind with episodes and adventures.
But since most of us, perhaps all of us, will know aloneness as Aloneness among Others, no doubt the ultimate art is always the secret fire of love. "Let me not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love." And to do this no matter how cold and lonely the scene, to do it in spite of all, and even with a kind of tender humour.
Guests are welcome at our meetings
Invite your friends, relatives, acquaintances,
fellow students in the courses you take,
members in other groups you are in
Become an active part of your Society
Help it to continue to function well
The Ulyssean Mantra - A guiding principle
LOVE, LAUGH, LEARN, HEAL, CREATE
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