Knox College, Room 4
59 St. George Street
between College & Harbord
Entrances on St. George and King's College Circle,
accessible entrance from lot on north side of Knox.
Street parking or lot available
Sunday, March 8, 2015
2 - 4:30 p.m.
GENERAL MEETING in MARCH
Sunday, March 8, 2 - 4:30 p.m.
Topic: A North American Native Perspective on Environmental Protection
Presenter: Danny Beaton, Mohawk, Environmentalist
Danny Beaton, a Turtle Clan Mohawk of the Six Nations Grand River Territory, has been an environmentalist for the past 25 years using all forms of communication with the arts to protect and defend Mother Earth with an indigenous perspective. He is an educator sharing the teachings and wisdom of North American Native Elders that he has learned from and experienced through sacred ceremonies and guidance. He has performed and lectured across Canada and the USA and in Japan and the UK.
Danny has worked on campaigns to defend Cree Territory from Hydro Power Dams, to protect the ancient forests Bear Island Ontario, Alaska National Refuge and Amazon Rain Forest, and in the last five years farmland and fresh aquifers in Dufferin County and Simcoe County, Ontario. Danny and his partner Alicja were native foster parents for Native Child and Family Services. He continues to lead sacred ceremonies for youth at Native Child and Family Services.
Danny has directed and produced five native films promoting peace and environmental protection; four had national broadcast. In 1992 he was the recipient of the Governor General's Medal for outstanding contributions to his fellow Canadians. In 2010 he was recognized with a National Aboriginal Achievement Award (now Indspire Award) in the category of Environment and Natural Resources.
Danny is a feature writer and photographer for two national native publications, First Nations Drum and News From Indian Country. Danny studied traditional native flute playing at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His CD of original flute music is Message From a Mohawk Child. See www.dannybeaton.ca.
This program for the Ulyssean Society is a shorter version of his presentation at the Annual Elders and Traditional Peoples Gathering, held at Trent University February 27 through March 1. In addition to sharing his spoken wisdom, he will play his native flute and drum.
Visitors are welcome
Sunday, April 12 General Meeting
2 - 4:30 p.m.
Topic: Writing Fact and Fiction
Speaker: Diane Flacks, writer, actor, producer
INTEREST GROUPS AND
Saturday, March 21
TIME: 2 - 4 p.m.
PLACE: Wychwood Library, 1431 Bathurst St. (south of St. Clair)
Contact Convener: Marie Paulyn
Mosaic Planning Lunch
Monday, March 30
12 - 1:30 p.m.
PLACE: Granite Brewery & Restaurant, 245 Eglinton Ave. East
(entrance on Mt. Pleasant)
Join us for good food and fellowship.
Contact: Daniel Karpinski
Please call Virginia for more information if you are interested in attending future meetings
Contact: Vivian Haar
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING,
Saturday March 28 at 2 p.m.
Place: 44 Charles St. W. 31st floor
Manulife Centre Residences Meeting Room
(alternate entrance from 55 Bloor St. West,
near Bay subway
General Meeting Report
February 8, 2015
Topic: Creating My Memoir: A Work in Progress
Speaker: Virginia Rock, Professor Emerita,
President, The Ulyssean Society
I began my talk with some background personal history to provide a context for the process I have developed in creating my memoir. It is a particular kind of creation, not a mere recording of the facts of my life, not autobiography (usually an entire life recounted chronologically), not family history, but a focused, limited selection of images, themes and experiences evoking a shared knowledge of my life.
Writing my memoir is the most challenging project I have undertaken in my nine decades of living, even more than a doctoral dissertation. That took five years from the time I began it in 1956 (while I was teaching part time); it was an opus when I finished - more than 500 pages (if all the scholarly apparatus is included). But as I see the scope of what I have embarked on now and the fact that I am more than half a century older, I look with some trepidation on my succumbing to friends who urged me to share my life's stories by writing them, not just telling them.
The memoir is a growing phenomenon in the publication of life writing, a genre of choice for both professional authors (often public figures) who publish an account and recollections they think worth telling about their life; non-professional writers (usually family members) who want to leave an account for children and grandchildren to connect them with their past (this kind of memorist has no intention of publishing and marketing the book).
My motivation was neither. Through the Academy for Lifelong Learning workshop "The Reading and Writing of Memoirs" which I've taken several times, I became engrossed in the genre. For each session we were expected to write on a "prompt" (e.g., a family member, my most influential teacher, my best friend, a life-changing experience, etc.). Obviously, I was drawn to what jogged my memory, particularly topics which could be a piece of my memoir. I found remembering from my past both difficult and frustrating, especially when I drew complete blanks on various topics relating to my early life such as how I learned to read or my first day of school.
These bi-weekly pieces of writing made me more self-aware and curious about what and how I could remember something obscured by time. But it was not just ageing at fault; I've never had a good memory. I realized my memories came in flashes, kaleidoscopic - an image, a scene, an object, a photo, a few remembered words or sounds, a voice, a letter, a fuzzy thought - they evoked what I thought and felt at the time I was living with them. Now they are only fleeting recollections about my past life not readily accessible to my consciousness. Yet I had found a way to turn dim recollections of my memory into the essence of memoir.
Friends felt I should be writing my memoir, insisting I had a unique story to tell but I resisted for some time. What decided me to commit myself to this gargantuan labour of selecting, restoring my memories and writing a memoir drawing from 91 years of thoughts and experiences were comments of Workshop colleagues about my twelve-page account of my two years as a Fulbright Professor (1962-1964) teaching American literature and culture during Communist control at Jagiellonian University in the beautiful historic city of Kraków, Poland.
When I told my lifelong friend Susan the news, she lost it, banged on the kitchen counter and yelled "Are you crazy? Why would you go there?" Feebly I answered, "It might be interesting." "You're out of your mind!" she shouted. I didn't tell her about my restlessness, my boredom with the routine at Michigan State University where I was teaching in a one-course department which prescribed a machine-graded, multiple choice final examination. I loved the course. American Thought and Language was a fine combination of texts inviting an interdisciplinary reading and discussion. But I was distressed by the fact that I would not see any of my best students again since there were no upper-level courses to be taught.
Years later I asked Sue why her response had been so extreme. Was it because Poland was under Communist control, because of its current economic deprivation, its historic anti-Semitism? None of these. She was thinking of me - inexperienced, untravelled, relying on the chance that someone would be on hand to help arrange, buy or explain something to Poles who couldn't understand English. German or French might have helped on occasion, but I was an insular American with no language skills. As for learning a little Polish - preposterous. I had no affinity for language and I would have seven courses to teach at three levels. Here I was, a woman nearly 40, who had never been outside the United States and I was going to travel by myself!! What a foolhardy decision. Of course she was right about predictable problems but I never considered that I would be in a situation that couldn't be dealt with. I did have difficulties but they were handled, usually with help of a stranger.
I was good at making decisions that resulted in problems for myself like choosing to go to Europe by ship rather than by plane, thus encountering the bureaucratic stubbornness of baggage handlers in Gydansk determined to make me pay in U. S. dollars for shipping my trunk to Kraków; a U. S. Embassy staff member had assured me the charge could be paid in Polish zlotys and I should hang on to my dollars, worth a lot on the black market. I kept saying "no"; he persisted with his demands. I won that one with the intervention of a Pole who understood the problem.
Getting a ticket for the train to Warsaw was a second panicking experience; there were just 15 minutes left of the four hours I had before the train was to leave and I still had no ticket. The line to the ticket booth was half a block long. Frustrated and worried, I couldn't help the tears rolling down my cheeks; another gallant Pole, assessing the situation, charged off to the ticket booth, returning with tickets for the trip and a seat assignment. Escorting me to my seat, he wished me a good journey. I'm sure he paid a bribe to get ahead of all those people in line. The train pulled out a few minutes later. I sat breathing deeply - another experience testing how I survived without knowing the native language. After that day, I had nothing but gratitude for Polish men; I had been in Poland only four hours and thanks to them I had passed a rigorous rite of initiation. Certainly I was finding being in Poland "interesting."
So much more to tell about my two years in Krakow: the students and courses I taught, daily living, finding a missing refrigerator, sharing the grief of Poles on John Kennedy's assassination, receiving condolences from colleagues, students and even the receptionist at the Francuski Hotel where I first lived in Kraków, arranging for tours of the University and museums for Robert Kennedy and his family and John and Elaine Steinbeck, organizing a Q and A meeting with students, and entertaining them at my apartment later, a party I gave for students and colleagues at an underground art gallery.
"You have many books there, Virginia, and we'd like to hear more," said the facilitator. I took her comment seriously and I am writing more.
A somewhat different version of this part of my memoir was presented to the Workshop three years ago. It was the beginning of my daunting project. But I am carrying on with other facets.
I have continued with the Memoir Reading and Writing Workshop; I have written bits and larger pieces on scattered topics but I wasn't making significant progress; I had no structure for the larger work, no pattern I was using. It would have been easy (and boring, I think) to tell my story chronologically, more like an autobiography. But I wanted to avoid a linear structure. I was working through a writer's block
My subconscious must have been thinking in a visual graphic way: Eureka! One night at 3 a.m. the organizing image and pattern emerged from my conscious thinking mind: I had it!!
Journalists write a story using the five Ws : Who, What, Where. When, Why. Why not me? Arranging the Ws on a circle, linking them with elements of my life, I would represent similar themes or experiences through the years. At the top of the circle, I would place WHO/ I am. For this a focus on FAMILY/PLACE would be appropriate to describe what early shaped me into the person I am now - my parents, my environment. And much more. Below the first W, appears WHAT I was/became, presenting recollections of my life as student, teacher, etc.Opposite the "WHAT," the combination of WHERE and WHEN would elaborate on WHAT I became - at various times. EDUCATION, the theme, the schools from high school to universities shaping experiences, the years in attendance, interrelationships, the teachers are also influences through the years. WHY would rely on comments by students, colleagues, and others to suggest WHY I am here; to do something beneficial for the family, for friends, for society - a bit presumptuous perhaps, but that does speak to WHY (e.g., thank-you notes from students, letters by colleagues, etc.).
I believe I have found a workable, simple organization that gives me direction, clarity and hope. Now I am determined to focus on this project, to clear away non-essentials using time. I can't ignore "Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near."
Robert Frost embodies a truth about the effect of choice, about how people become who they are and what they do; momentous decisions are made casually, he seems to imply:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less travelled by
And that has made all the difference.
* * * * * *
What I have written above is much more than my presentation in February. Also it omits some sections, specifically excerpts from more recent writing. Apologies to those who wanted to read just about that program.
I am grateful for the feed-back I received on my February 8 talk. I welcome any comments on this article. If you would like to hear some excerpts from what I have written I could present them in a Mosaic. Let me know.
- Virginia Rock
Discussion and Mosaic
Virginia Rock's presentation sparked quite a few comments ("I could listen for another hour"), many questions following up on details, requests for a few more memories and comparisons of travel to Poland. Since Virginia had been shy about arranging someone to thank her, Shirley Gibson expressed the group's gratitude to her for sharing her process and a wide variety of interesting memories of family and adventures. The break for refreshments and conversation gave everyone an opportunity to look at Virginia's wonderful display of personal photos of the Steinbecks, Robert Kennedy family, Kraków, and more.
We missed many members due to inclement weather and illness, so the scheduled discussion of the Ulyssean future was very short, but useful. Announcements emphasized the upcoming Annual General Meeting on Saturday March 28. Linda Stitt closed the meeting by reading our Benediction and blowing out the candle. We were very happy to have the active participation of several of Virginia's friends, many of them first-time guests or previous speakers. Our March 8 presenter Danny Beaton attended for a second time, kindly taking photos.
- Shirley Gibson
Animal Senses at January Inquiring Mind
We started by discussing the astounding fact, well documented by the media, that no animals drowned during the tsunami earthquake. They all fled, including elephants that broke their chains in order to escape to higher grounds.
How did these animals sense that there had been an earthquake on the bottom of the ocean, and how did they conclude that high waves would follow? From a broader perspective, how do animals in herds or packs know when there is danger and flee before anything concrete could have alerted them?
This consideration about animals' intelligence and occasionally truly telepathic gifts, brought us to selective readings from Dr. Rupert Sheldrake's books Dogs Who Know When Their Owners are Coming Home and The Sense of Being Stared At.
In both books the author, who is a biochemist, a philosopher and a research fellow at the Royal Society, gives numerous examples of uncanny connections between people and animals. He has coined the term "morphogenetic fields," trying to explain that we all resonate with each other, and that this morphic resonance works across space and time, from the past to the present.
For example, he cites the case of a woman whose cat always jumps on the telephone and starts meowing a few minutes before the husband calls. Her husband at that time may be in Africa or Argentina. The cat does not pay any attention to other telephone calls.
In another example, Dr. Sheldrake videotaped a dog sleeping peacefully in the kitchen while his mistress sits in a restaurant several miles away. There is a camera on her as well. At the exact time when she reaches for her car keys, ready to leave the restaurant, the video shows her dog stretching, going to the door, and waiting 45 minutes for her to return.
One of the most astounding observations was made of a language and a parrot. Not only does the parrot speak in full sentences but also he telepathically connects with his mistress and makes his own original comments. For example, sitting apart from the parrot in another room, she thinks about going to a restaurant. The bird says, "You want some yummy, get out, see you later."
In another instance, sitting in a room on a different floor from the parrot, she looked at a picture of a purple car and she could hear, from downstairs, the bird saying, "Oh wow, look at the pretty purple." These amazing feats were consistently taped and recorded for many years.
Our group went into an animated debate with several members citing their own experiences or commenting about different passages from portions of the books. As always, much too soon, four o'clock signalled the end of another session of our Inquiring Mind.
- Marie Paulyn
Member News, Events, etc.
Linda Stitt confirms that the March 7 edition of her monthly Words and Music Salon program includes three spoken word artists who have presented programs to the Ulyssean Society: writer/poet Ann Elizabeth Carson (most recently last March), storyteller Adèle Koehnke (who in October described involving residents of long-term care homes in writing and presenting plays) and passionate poet Bänoo Zan (who compared Hafez's Ghazels (Persian Sonnets) and Shakespeare's Sonnets in 2012). Other invited poets and some fine musicians round out the afternoon program at Vino Rosso, 995 Bay St. between Bloor and Wellesley. The April 4 schedule includes multi-instrumentalist Ann-Marie Boudreau, who several years ago brought many of her instruments to take Ulysseans on lovely sound journeys. Join many friendly folk for fine food and creative arts at this no-cover event. Details are always posted at www.lindastitt.com.
Pat Bisset, Carol Farkas and Paul Nash are part of the huge Toronto Storytelling Festival taking place in many venues March 19-29. The three join seven others for one of the multi-venue March 20-21 "Storyfire" events: "Ten Tellers Telling Worldwide Wish Tales" 1-4 p.m. March 21 in the Tiki Room at the Tranzac, 292 Brunswick Avenue. The stories and ballads in this session reflect the World Storytelling Day theme of wishes told by tellers with varying cultural experiences; admission is pass the hat with donations going to Ebola relief.
The next day, Sunday March 22 at 4:00-4:30 p.m. Pat is telling the story, "The Three Wives of Charles de la Tour" as part of the varied program "Storytelling at the Gladstone" at the Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen Street West. Admission at the door is $20 for the full afternoon and evening program (2:00-10:00 p.m.), or $10 for the evening only.
Full program details are posted at www.torontostorytellingfestival.ca and advance tickets for some sessions, including Festival passes, are available on-line. The Festival, launched in 1979, is now one of North America's biggest urban celebrations of traditional and contemporary storytelling, with high-profile guest international tellers.
Our three Ulyssean storytellers are frequent participants and/or hosts at the weekly 1001 Friday Nights of Storytelling at 8-10 p.m. at Innis College Café, 2 Sussex Ave. at St. George (2 blocks from our meeting location). A rare relocation occurs during the Festival on March 27, with a special 7:30 p.m. evening held in collaboration with Native Earth Performing Arts at Aki Studio Theatre in Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas St. East; advance tickets ($23; $18 seniors) are advised. Carol is on the board of Storytelling Toronto. Virginia Rock frequently attends and participates on regular Friday nights.
Two Bus Trips to Stratford and Shaw Festival
Act II Studio invites Ulysseans and friends to join their 2015 bus trips to see Taming of the Shrew at Stratford Festival on Wednesday May 27 and Sweet Charity at Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Wednesday October 7. Full details and on-line booking links are now posted at www.act2studio.ca; Shirley Gibson will bring brochures to our March 8 meeting for those without internet access. For several years, our members have participated since we no longer have the numbers to organize our own trips. We welcome their resumption after a break last year.
The registration deadline for the May 27 Taming of the Shrew trip is April 15. The cost is $118 for bus and show ticket (direct to the Festival Theatre), with optional additions of $18 for a box lunch and $2 for a hearing device. This trip features Act II Artistic Director Vrenia Ivonoffski's discussion of the play on the bus, with everyone's feedback on the return trip. George Meanwell, who provided beautiful cello, concertina and banjo selections for our Ulyssean anniversary meeting in December is on stage playing cello, guitar and concertina in this production.
For the October 3 performance of Sweet Charity at the Shaw Festival Theatre, the registration deadline is August 21. There are two choices for bus and play tickets: Platinum for $112 (middle to front centre orchestra) and Gold for $107 (side orchestra and centre balcony), again with optional box lunches for $18 and hearing devices for $2.
For both trips, buses leave promptly at 9:30 a.m. from the Ed Mirvish Theatre (244 Victoria Street entrance), just south of Dundas. They depart a few minutes after the show ends, arriving in Toronto around 7 p.m., stopping at Osgoode subway (University and Queen) before returning to the starting point. This year reservations are non-refundable, but the Act II office will maintain a wait-list for trips that sell out. Special seating for accommodation issues should be arranged and purchased directly with the theatre, though travel and lunch can be with the group.
For more info, the Act II office is staffed Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 9:30-2:30: 416 979-5000 ext 6297 or email@example.com.
Short theatre courses
To enhance your trips to these theatre festivals, consider Act II's two popular Tuesday 10 a.m. to noon series: Shaw Festival Preview (CSAC501; March 31 through April 21) and Stratford Festival Preview (CSAC502; April 28 through May 19). Each series includes Vrenia Ivonoffski's discussion of 6-7 plays this season, complete with scenes directed and acted by Act II members, choreographed and acted with script in hand. Located at Ryerson on Victoria Street, in an accessible building near the Dundas subway and Ryerson parking garage, these are a bargain at $75.19 each series. Info is available from the above sources or at our March 8 meeting.
The Toronto Reference Library again offers free Tuesday evening lectures on four plays included in the Stratford season, this year three by Shakespeare and The Alchemist by Ben Jonson. Dates are March 3-31, except March 17, doors at 6 p.m., start time 7 p.m. Reservations would help ensure entry, though stand-bys are admitted if there is space.
For those interested in a more intense theatre experience, McMaster Alumnae Association offers everyone its 56th year of the week-long Shakespearean Seminar Series in Stratford July 6 though 11 (Monday through Saturday).Included are eight plays, plus options to see another two, totalling all plays open by that date; three others open later in the season. There is also partial-week option Monday through Wednesday evening that includes four plays. Discussions, lectures and associated events are held at the University of Waterloo's Stratford campus and The Parlour Inn, both a few blocks from the Avon theatre. The full information package, with bonus brief overviews of each play, is on-line at alumni.mcmaster.ca (under the "Learn and Explore" drop-down menu) or phone 1-888-217-6003 in Hamilton. Registration is now open, with a deadline of June 1.
March 13 Organ Concert Reminder
The last baroque organ concert of the season at Knox Chapel, part of Knox College building where we meet (59 St. George St.), is Friday March 13 at 4:00-4:45 p.m. The Baroque musical selections for these free concerts by University of Toronto organ professor Kevin Komisaruk reflect the period of this organ's pipework design. For those needing to avoid the inside steps, there is an elevator that the person at the nearby security desk operates on request. As with our Sunday meetings, the building entrance on the north side has no steps; it is accessed by a drive beside 65 St. George St.
- Shirley Gibson
Report on Steering Committee Meeting of February 28, 2015
Attending: 7 members, 2 regrets, + 2 guests by invitation
The focus of the meeting was the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) and elections.
Report of Nominating Committee:
Joan Appelby: would function as President with a lot of help or as Co-President [she later withdrew her nomination as President and Co-President]
Neil Sinclair: mostly unavailable in May through October - spoke about various strategies we could consider re: changing Society's operating focus and patterns - e.g., no meetings in summer, different location, more technology, more social activities, defining our desired audience.
The required Secretary position would be vacant if Joan becomes (a) President. No candidate has been found to date; the search continues.
Steering Committee (SC)
Two members have terms ending and one member, Kwan Shum, has resigned with one year left on her term. Virginia Rock is willing to continue as a SC member; Neil Sinclair would become a member and one other member is needed.
Continuation of the Society
See the formal notice of the AGM for the wording of a motion that will be voted on to dissolve The Ulyssean Society if it does not appear at the AGM that there will be a workable way to continue under our current statement of purpose. Two-thirds of members at the AGM would have to approve the motion.
The SC formally voted in favour of a motion that we stay together as The Ulyssean Society. There are many details to work out, and volunteers and/or hired services will be needed. If elected, Neil, Joan and the Secretary would be responsible for the newsletter production and distribution.
Neil Sinclair came to speak to the last steering committee meeting to share his background and some ideas where the society might contemplate heading. Neil has a wide experience for not for Profit organizations, and is a recently retired lawyer with management experience. He has taught at four community colleges and one University. He shared that many organizations are struggling with the same issues as our society and predicted that members will still enjoy their society for some time to come. There are many ideas that might be discussed in a strategic meeting to plan for the future including meeting times, re targeting new members, what brings people together, and examining our programs.
Neil has agreed to serve as President or Co-president and suggested titles were not as important as team building for leadership for the Society. He cautioned that for several months he has limited availability but again certainly can see a team environment. He has agreed to be nominated in some leadership capacity of the Society and offered to speak at the AGM on education under challenge.
NOTICE OF THE ULYSSEAN SOCIETY
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (AGM)
SATURDAY March 28, 2015 at 2:00 - 4:30 p.m.
44 Charles St. West; alternate entrance 55 Bloor St. West
31st floor, Manulife Centre Residences Meeting Room
For 2014 members and those who join or renew by meeting time
Members, please mark the date and plan to attend this important meeting. 2014 membership is still in effect; new members or late renewals may join by meeting time to participate. The building is accessible with underground connection to Bay and Yonge subway stations and underground and on-street parking. Check in at the security desk on the main floor.
Program: 2014 reports, elections, discussions, refreshments
Some nominees have agreed but so far not a full slate to fill officer and Steering Committee vacancies. See the article on the Steering Committee meeting for current status. Nominations may be made from the floor. Or contact Daniel Karpinski if you can fill a position or can volunteer for support tasks. RSVP Virginia Rock for refreshment and seating planning, or sign the attending list at the March 8 meeting.
Notice of motions that may be voted on if it appears The Ulyssean Society cannot continue:
"The Ulyssean Society be disbanded and the Steering Committee be empowered to do everything necessary to effect the dissolution."
"All officers are re-elected at the AGM for the time period to effect the dissolution."
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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