Kids' Own World

an illustrated magazine for children

Kids' Own World

an illustrated magazine for children

With Your Permission
Essays by Constance Scrafield

A Christmas Piece, written for Country Routes in 2008

The Christmas Muse

By Constance Scrafield

Colin shovels a straight and narrow path through the snow from the door to the place where the cars are parked. It is only on this path that the cats will walk. They are suffering from the outrage that cats, who love to go outdoors from time to time, feel when the world is cold and the ice and snow bite at their delicate paw pads.

They take turns scratching at the door, determined to take in a breath of fresh air only to be rebuked by the hostility of the weather. As a consequence of the early onslaught of winter, they are already showing symptoms of cabin fever in their testiness with each other. Every so often, the high whine of conflict or the low growl of aggression will echo through the house as two or more of them confront each other. I roar at them by name to “cut it out” but their temperance and obedience can be short lived.

The dog, Mickey, bears it all with canine resignation, going out into the misery of the cold, as needs must, and lowering his chin to his paws with a mild moan, while the cats’ squabbles rage.

Being a short haired, shivery sort of a mutt, we bought him a good coat, a miniature horse blanket, actually, from Greenhawk. He wears it happily, standing quietly at the door while I dress her in it.

When he comes back into the house, he stops just inside to allow me to remove it. This weekend, we went back to Greenhawk to purchase a similar coat for my daughter’s puppy. She bought her the same style, but burgundy where Mickey’s is green and about four times the size. Watching the two of them march about outside in their coats is simply hilarious. The puppy, Chandler, has not quite got the gist of how to stand patiently for her dressing and undressing. No doubt, she will catch on soon enough.

My dear old horse, Patrick, tolerates the snow and sometimes finds it invigorating. His younger companions dash about, kicking white clumps up with their high stepping. They all roll in the snow, springing up afterward to shake their whole bodies and snort vigorously with the tingling of the cold.

For me, December also brings to mind the first days of my knowing Patrick, now twenty-eight years ago. I bought him a warmer blanket this year, while we were purchasing outdoor wear for the puppy and I feel better for his being in it at night.

Everywhere we go now, the sounds of Christmas descend from the speakers in all the public places. Theatres, halls and churches reverberate with celebration, one way or another, of the coming Yuletide. So many bands playing, so many singers urging audiences to sing with them, so many cherub-like children melting our hearts with their splendid performances of Christmas-related dramas.

And, it seems, we will have a white Christmas. It is Christmas card pretty. When our family came from the U.K. to join us for Christmas a couple of years ago, we likewise had plenty of snow. It was the first time the youngsters ages five, seven and nine had ever seen anything like it. Naturally they were enthralled, especially after we when out and bought them Canadian winter gear to wear.

Down the road, our dear friends, the Skeates have decorated their home top to bottom. Anne takes great delight and a lot of time to dress her home which she opens to a great many people over the holiday. People she hardly sees all year will come to her for Christmas dinner if they are alone. In addition, most of the Skeates’ grown-up children will join them, some coming from considerable distances so as not to miss the holiday with their parents.

Christmas does us all the favour of cancelling our busy lives for a few days, shutting down the offices and closing the stores to make us pause and have dinner with people we don’t see very often. It creates the occasion for families to make the effort and spend the money to be together. It hollows out a moment for us to truly stop and consider the other people in our lives, whether we spend a fortune on presents or not.

Even the matter of gift-giving, although somewhat exaggerated in some shops and households, is beautiful because of the time and thought for someone else’s happiness that it gives.

We go blithely through our lives, struggling to remember birthdays and anniversaries when we may honour others but the truth is that Christmas cannot be forgotten and so, we can collect our generous impulses into one happy time.

Finally, there is the reason for Christmas, to honour the birth of a child and more importantly, the birth of a philosophy of forgiving, of loving, of caring about our spiritual lives.

Don’t worry about the commercialism– that is just people trying to earn a living. Consider the joy and profundity of this season and how it suspends your life for a tiny while and gives you “time out” to remind those you have little time for during the year to say you care about them.

And from this writer, all my best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Let's talk about freedom

By Constance Scrafield.

When Patricia and I came back to Canada, she was six years old, ready to go into grade one. The school board and the law stated definitively she could not attend school until I showed documents that she had had her MMR inoculations. In case you don't know, that's measles, mumps and rubella. Absolutely, no questions, let's see those docs or the kid stays home. At that time, there was a lot of nonsense talked about those vaccinations causing autism and other ails. Such harmful rubbish people spread for no good reason and no one really knows why. MMR vaccinations do not cause autism and doctors mourned to see small children develop meningitis as a result of not receiving essential vaccinations.

After so many decades of keeping kids safe from those dangerous diseases, plus polio, the law was justified to protect other children from the potential harm from admitting a child whose parents had not taken the precaution of vaccinations. I had them as a kid and so did most of you. Got the little round scar on my upper left arm near my shoulder.

During an interview earlier this week on CBC radio one, a nurse grieved deeply at the onslaught of yet another wave of Covid, brought about by the refusal of people to take the current vaccinations for Covid-19. Said she, “When Covid first hit, we worked so hard and for such long hours, putting our own health at risk and we learned how to treat people and what to do. And we did it all because it was our jobs and we knew and accepted the risks. “But, this time with the numbers of cases up again and we're being asked to do that work all over again – for no reason! Because people refused to get their vaccinations.”
It was completely incomprehensible to her.

There is a lot of harmful nonsense being talked about vaccinations this time too, not about the danger of taking them but to the nature of our “freedom” not to take them. Who are the brutes that insist on shovelling this irrelevant thinking at us? These vaccinations are not experimental. When Astra Zeneca was deemed to have rare but undeniable side effects of blood clotting, it was taken off the list of vaccines in most countries. The rest are safe, safer than the risk of catching Covid -19 and the Delta variant. What is freedom and where does it pale compared to the harm so-called freedom can do?

Every country, province and town have laws: we are not allowed to murder each other, steal, abuse, cheat, drive without our seat belts, exceed the speed limit, smoke in our vehicles with minors under 12; we're not allowed to assault each other, expose ourselves in public. People are not allowed to smoke in buildings or on airplanes. Nowadays, our “freedom of speech” is tightly curbed and we're not legally allowed to make racist remarks to others, nor even infer sexual aggression nor impropriety. So, why are people not in the streets protesting all these impositions on our freedoms? Why? Because these are all harmful to others. If we murder a person and get away with it, well, we're okay. If we insult and verbally abuse a person who is different from ourselves, that person is offended, even damaged emotionally but we'll be okay – so what is the problem? These curbs on our “freedoms” are all about the freedom of others. We are not allowed by law to attack others, drive dangerously or endanger others with our noxious habit of smoking because we are not allowed to willfully harm each other. Likewise, we are being mandated to get vaccinated against Covid so we stand a better chance of not being sick with it and not infecting others in the work place, on airplanes, in public places, where social distancing is not possible.

Get it? This is no more an infringement on our “freedoms” than not being allowed to smoke in buildings. They have not made it illegal to smoke in your own home but most people don't allow themselves without the need for a law to prohibit it. That is the nut of it. Laws are made because we are too stupid or too violent and whatever are our many failings, to see for ourselves what we should and should not be allowed to do. Can you believe there had to be a law against smoking in a car with children, that any person would not be able to see that for themselves? There are hundreds of laws prohibiting the obvious but it seems we still need them.

It is quite unbelievable that rules about keeping us safe from Covid, saving our health workers from having to go through the agony of nursing us all over again are being protested, being called a blow to our freedoms.

Go and get your vaccines. Wear a mask; wash your hands and if you need to protest, stand up for the environment. That is a much bigger issue.


Happy International ....Day

By Constance Scrafield

According to the Fergus Highland Games website, declaring the Festival a digital event again this year, anyway: Tuesday this week was Happy International Scotch Whiskey Day. Sorry if I'm late with this news but I hope you imbibed, if only by coincidence.

So, I thought about the proliferation of Happy International Something Days and wanted to offer a few of my own.

How about Happy Stop Building Pipelines Day. They are still being built everywhere. The waffling and unpredictable American governments – both federally and in each state – are variously cancelling and allowing pipelines to go through, like a bunch of scatter-brained kids, playing street games. Millions of dollars down the drain of partly or largely built pipelines; millions of dollars poured into finishing (or maybe not when authorities changed their minds) pipelines elsewhere.

Still, the Canadian government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 Billion, so, it for sure will press on to have the thing finished all the way to the Pacific Ocean. I have wondered how much the material going into constructing this (eventually) dirty and dangerous pipeline could be sold for scrap.

There is a tender little note in the “Trans Mountain” website where they wax on about their diligence in protecting the wildlife where the pipeline is being laid. Inspectors, environmentalists inspect and note the activity of the birds and point to the nesting places of certain hummingbirds and song birds, through the research done by those experts, on what they are pleased to call the “Pipeline Environmental Protection Plan (EPP).”

Positively an oxymoron.

Says the site: “If a nest is observed, appropriate buffers around the nests are marked and roped off until the bird has left the nest.”

Lots of words mark the passages about how they work with the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to protect wildlife, with particular attention to the safety of birds. Makes you all warm and tingly, doesn't it? However, in spite of the pretense of safe passage for Western Canada's wildlife, pipelines inevitably leak or burst and no amount of safety checks ever guarantees they will not. What about the wildlife and environment then – to the land and, even worse, to the water in lakes and oceans?

How about Happy Finally-Shut the g-d Tar-Sands- down- forever Day? Just stop shoving the sludge into those pipelines and really give the little birds a break. The birds, the land, our grandchildren, their air and water.

A bit too late, I'm afraid, but how about Happy Stop Burning the Amazon Forests Day? Why, really and truly, is Bolsonaro burning down the world's “lungs”? Why would he intentionally be the last source to truly bring the world to ruination? And, why, oh why has the International community not actually stopped him from following this disastrous course?

All the calamities we have watched happen in “sovereign nations,” feeling -somehow – our hands were restrained from stopping a genocide, usually, or other serious misdemeanours governments were and are inflicted on their people but this killing off the Amazon forest – for what? Cattle? Bananas? Avocados, now a fad food?

It is not as though Bolsonaro does not understand the consequences. He does for sure. So, his motives are a deep mystery because it can't only be about money and corruption.

Like Doug Ford selling off the green spaces and exposing our sensitive environment to danger, there must be a darker motive for such behaviour.

Our grandchildren – How about Happy Stop Surrounding the Earth with Space Junk, not to mention Space Junkies. Circling the planet at approximately 35,888 kilometres per hour is some 30,000 bits and pieces, each with serious destructive potential. Accidents do happen in that field of space garbage, causing debris to crash to earth or to disintegrate into fragments in space.

One day soon, according to many sources, it will be too dangerous to travel to space AT ALL, for fear of being hit by a morsel of a long dead satellite. The likes of Richard B and his competitor-for -attention, Jeff B, may well find themselves engaged in Battle with Galactic Junk during their next hop above the earth.

So much for plans for Mars or inter-planetary exploration: “We would have gone but there was too much space junk in the way and we blocked ourselves in.”

Hey! There is another excellent reason to stop the fossil fuels right now and clean up our sources of energy, poisonous agriculture, suicidal meat production, stop destroying our forests because we did our usual sloppy thing and cluttered our own outer space perimeters so badly, we stuck ourselves to stay on Earth!

How's that for a joke? How's that for behaviour coming back to bite us?

Greta, let's push change with this in mind. They are not buying into “Care about us, your children.” I guess oil companies and the rest don't care about their children but, within less time than it takes to finish building ships that could take us elsewhere, space will be blocked by our own dirty, lazy habits.

A neat bit of irony that is.


Who else is watching?

By Constance Scrafield

(Writing on the eve/morning of my Birthday...)

Ok. So, we all know that Santa is watching us to ascertain whether we're bad or good, I guess all year long, because that is what that really creepy song seems to indicate. We get it.

Also, I guess the divinities are watching because they have particularly advantageous seats from which to see our whole drama/comedy. From ancient times, they have been portrayed as mystic, mischievous beings, doling out favours, punishment and even love.

There is a varied single deity, a varied father image, from punitive to loving, like any father, I suppose, but bigger. Still, watching our every move, conferring with St. Peter about individual chances of entry into Heaven...

For many decades, we have been watched. Computers listen to our telephone calls to red-flag certain keys words and Edward Snowdon's book, Permanent Record, paints a terrifying picture of our present day. We are spied on every minute and have embraced this completely in a way that is quite contrary to what science fiction writers imaged all through the 19th and 20th Centuries.

They pretty well, uniformly and with reasonable accuracy wrote in dire tones, this future of government and corporate spying on the common people to manipulate and control the masses. As it is today.

However, with more faith in humanity than humanity deserves, they consistently penned stories of rebellion against the watchfulness and control; rebellions of resistance and, sometimes with wild optimism, the overthrow of and freedom from the shackles.

Image how wrong those authors all were – not only is there no struggle on humanity's part to resist the oversight of our every moment but, conversely, we buy into it with our own participation – we even purchase smart machinery to eavesdrop on our private conversations, in our own homes, and pass them along to parties interested in us.

Primarily, this intense interest in the minutiae of our lives is less a political thing and much more a commercial thing, maybe voting too – well, many aspects of our lives – but it is mainly about how we spend our money, with the “one percent” wanting that money to go their way, Jeff Bezos and all that.

When Facebook first started getting a serious grip on society, I was really puzzled by the tiny personal details people showed about their lives and their children's lives. I have been concerned about the rights of children, in the issue of having their lives exposed, sometimes in great detail, by their parents and guardians and without their permission.

Surely, in the futures of many adults will come the embarrassment and, even, outrage of what was shared with the whole wide world about them, in their early years. This is like the jokes about parents pulling out old baby pictures of their daughters or sons to show the boy/girl friend, newly brought home to meet the family. Only way worse.

So. In the news recently and on the CBC program As It Happens, is the story that Astronomers have discovered 70 planets within complicated visual range, whose possible populations could readily spy on us, on our every move, here on earth.

I was so glad to hear this, I can tell you and, as luck would have it, if we pay good attention to the timing of these moments of revelation about other societies on other planets, we can check them out too, in a very real way. Fantastic.

First and foremost, the notion dismisses, in a single sentence, the folly of even wondering if there is life on other planets. Not only does this proposition presume without hesitation that there is but can point to some 70 planets where those other civilizations probably reside!

At last, what must be the case is finally presented, casually but earnestly, as potential peeping-toms on the privacy of us earthlings! Wonderful and I am completely a believer. The idea that earth is the sole planet in an unending universe that bears sentient beings is so crazy, it goes along well with theories that the earth is flat and only 6,000 years old.

Sadly, the spy-time is short, quite specific and because of how damn big space is, those moments are spaced out over years. Well, the speed of light dawdles at a mere (approximately) 300,000 metres per second, so, when objects are so far away, it takes ages to see them again and to truly understand their nature. So, we have to catch them as they are in an orbit that creates an eclipse of their own sun.

See? There are plenty of stars, as we see them, that are good to go as suns and have appropriate orbs circling them, suitable for and very likely supporting life on them and if life here can be intelligent – example: dolphins, elephants, octopus and more, then it is reasonable to assume there is intelligent life there too. Not reasonable to doubt it.

And they can be checking us out. Maybe we should clean our acts.

With Your Permission

Blueberry Pie for Breakfast

March 2021

By Constance Scrafield

The evenings been dodgy this week: little but brilliant sun, ruling down across the grass path to the snow bound fields beyond.
The garden waits beneath the burden of mean ice and snow for the better days of tomatoes and flowers in the earth, which is enriched annually with antique horse manure.
Along one wall, in a raised garden, I usually mix and broadcast seeds for salads, everything all jumbled up. Means it's a bit of a mystery what will be in the bowls with the lemon and oil dressing I always make. It doesn't matter, really. Salad grown at home is entirely different from what one can purchase in a shop, even a famers' market.
The feeling of luxury is sincere. When it's so lovely outside, that's where the finery is looked for – in the ground. The accoutrements hardly matter if the growing is good. When a person doesn't need a winter coat, the lack of one is irrelevant. The brocade couch can sit empty while the sun warms the deck chairs and the television, taking up most of one wall, can stay black when the goldfinches flit there and back to the feeder and the hummingbirds are like a comedy with their zip-zipping.
Yes, well, I do like the summer. It brings relief to the labours and brooding of the cold days and dark winter evenings.
So, I wonder whether this is a summer of new dawns. There seem to be more airplanes flying over my head these days and I thought that long cloud in the sky was a vapour trail. I was sorry to see it. Has the industry taken time to re-think about safe and clean ways to conduct air transport in the near future? Or will we just spin the “propellers” on the same old junk ......
There has not been a sudden flourish of new electric or hydrogen powered vehicles coming on the market and for a price any of us can be expected to pay.
Do you think it can be, after quite some time, really, and we are not exactly all back to full power – unafraid of the next person in the queue – confident of leaving our mask behind – that, after all the gushing and the certainty that things will be different – hope for: better. Or will it all be just the same?
No, we are not there yet. We have to continue to wear our masks, keeping that safe distance but there is a worry living in my mind, in spite of the glory all around, as “stay at home” means “water the garden.”
What if, in the places where it means something, we haven't learned a darn thing? We have increased, expanded and honed our ways of communicating, teaching, entertaining each other online. We've learned that it's really fun to go to concerts and the theatre by streaming for free, rather than getting dressed, in the car and paying for those events. Will we recall how much fun truly live theatre and concerts are? In our minds, will the value of live theatre and performance be remembered for what it requires of us?
In any time of trouble, some people are making good, making lots of money on the backs of the very source of the trouble – like people selling guns to both sides of a conflict. I guess the Facebook shares have leaped in value and Amazon has all but grasped the retail market in its talons.
Here's hoping the small time retailers have not been squashed, never to rise again. What a loss that would be – not to be able to walk into a store, staffed by people who are in business for the love of it, not just the grinding greed of control. A lovely independent shop, with interesting items you didn't spend an hour online looking for – a conversation about the product and, maybe, many other subjects, with a real person, meaningful, thoughtful – fulfilling.
It is, as it always is, up to us. If we acquiesce; if we opt out and keep to this enforced laziness that has brought everything to our doors and screens; if we throw our hands up and shrugging our indifference, say, “It's inevitable1” then, the changes will not be for the better. We won't be stronger; we'll just gain weight.
As the weight of a virtual home arrest, across the world, mind you, has been the weapon needed to defeat the plague that has beset us, as this lightens, here at least, we should be out there, shopping for our needs in person. Ordering a meal for take out and going there to fetch it, so the restaurant doesn't have to pay for delivery.
Buy a book, greet a sales person – I'm sure local retailers have been very frightened about their chances of survival in the face of Amazon's determined spread.
There's been so much time for reflection, as individuals and at large. What have you learned and what do you want different now?

With Your Permission

Down the Rabbit Hole

February 2021

By Constance Scrafield

Do you feel as though things are a little odd these days? How are your dreams? Has the world's reality shifted a little - or a lot – on some level of your mind? I mean, we know the difference between a cup of tea in our actual cup and a virtual cup of tea, right?
Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, that parody of Victorian life, seems in for a re-run. In many ways, he barely exaggerated the real-life people in his world. A book he wrote to entertain the children of a friend of his, his satirical portrayal of British society and politicians was pretty close to the bone in many cases. Alice in Wonderland rose to high popularity and gave his pen name self – Lewis Carroll - fame throughout Britain and North America.
At about the same time, Punch magazine, the satirical magazine that invented the cartoon, naming such illustrations first, was read at every level of society in the UK, loved for its intellectual and clean dig at society and its foibles.
It seems to me, we are more than ever parodies of ourselves. Satire, of course, has its own way of debunking villainy and chaos, hypocrisy and the self-serving. We have lost the knack of it, I think, and to our loss. Nowadays, we are all so serious in our criticism and, in dealing with our realities in black or white, make them almost too hard to face.
In this household, we do check in with the likes of Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers, American comics, each with their own shows, who do a so-so job of humorous analysis of current events and the people running them. In Canada, This Hour Has 22 Minutes works at taking on the job of making fun of the difficult issues of the day.
Perhaps, the trouble is that we are overwhelmed with mediocrity when we are badly in need of excellence: of leadership, science, peace of mind. Especially since the '60's, we have been searching for excellence in our leaders –in politics, industry and business, - and they have dragged the world down a path that is nearly at its end. Warmongers that we are, wasteful of bounty, cruel to the extreme and so short sighted that we can hardly think beyond lunch, we have little or no regard for the proofs all around us of the consequences of our ways. This all true in every land, inn spite of the specifics with regard to kindness and wisdom, our basic flaws control our better natures to the detriment of all.
If only for logic's sake, it must evident that mere short-term and, really, fictional financial gain or the falsehood of employment blanches in the face of harm to come: imagine that we are once again planning to open new coal mines – right here in Canada, we who have, in decades past, lead such a campaign against coal – done so much to shut it down. It is so bad that it is hard to be funny.
Lots of what we laugh at is far from funny and I notice there little humour addressing the political calamities in the US, where a deeply criminal ex-president is still at large. He is forgiven and supported by lawyers, senators who should long-since have turned their backs on him and apologized to their nation and the world for ever allowing him into their midst.
Well, there are heroes. They are not running countries or a big enough portion of the world's industry, farming or medicine but they are working hard to build ways to live, to eat and turn the lights on that are safe, wise, clean. Their influence is marginal until they are rich enough and there is a large enough number of them to bring the political will in line.
Sorry – enough gloom! Let's look at what is really funny.
Space travel!! Don't you love it? People lined up to make the one-way trip to Mars and beyond! You think Earth is tough? Earth is paradise. People are hell and guess what earth species is going to Mars - which will already be hell, by the way - People! Is that like Hell x Infinity?
Everybody wants a piece of the next frontier! Elon Musk wants run Teslas on the streets-to-be on Mars – he's got space travel all figured out. Jeff Bezos will offer package delivery to the vast and weird covered cities that are planned for the Red Planet.
Richard Branson will fly Virgin space shuttles for tourists – if not all the way to Mars, at least to the moon and more. Just picture the costly tours of the Space Station, everybody floating weightlessly but still in a line, the guide showing points of interest. Gosh. They'll have to double the size of it and the medics better be ready for those sudden deaths!
Internationally, the decades-old race to space is well and truly on, while people starve and our planet stumbles and fails.

With Your Permission

Days of Wine and Bamboozle

April 2020

By Constance Scrafield

Once there was a Troll. Trolls do have names like the rest of us and all our domestic animals that we like to give names to, usually, without asking for their opinion.

So, Trolls have un-spell-able, ergo, unpronounceable names that mostly sound like someone sneezing or gargling or shouting a whole bunch of bad words very quickly. Because we can't say his name, we'll have to make one up – how about Ugless. You could stretch it out to make other words describing a troll.

Some traditions describe Trolls that have horns and faces like really ugly dogs or too ugly to be dogs' faces; they have hairy bodies; legs like an animal, like a huge goat but they walk on their legs because they have big, hairy arms with three finger hands and terrible claws.

Many stories told they used to live under bridges and were most dangerous if you wanted to cross the bridge.

Now that we have a name for our Troll, Ugless, I should tell you that, at some time not quite known, as it is with most history, Trolls grew tired of living under bridges and they decided to move up in the world and live in big houses, or castles or wherever they wanted to. They way they did this was by bullying, bribing, blackmail and, of course, stealing.

Over time, and Ugless had plenty of time, because Trolls can live for a very long time. They might have been related, ever so long ago, to elves who are immortal but, because of being such nasty, unkind beings, they lost their immortality. They can still live for ages.

Now, as I was saying, over time, they learned that it was less fun to live alone in big houses and castles and that people – humans – from whom they had bullied, bribed, blackmailed or stolen the big house or castle – were really fun to tease and intimidate. They began to want people to live with them and do everything they demanded and cry when they were mean, and tremble when they were angry. It was so much fun!!

Unfortunately, it was difficult to persuade people, even with promises of money and treats and everything they could possibly want because these Trolls are really faery-tail-ugly, with their horns and their terrible hairy faces, that, by and large, people just couldn't stand them.

Of all of the trolls, Ugless had managed to keep some of his magic and he found a way to make himself look like a human!

Mind you, there is always something pretty strange when you look at him or listen to him talk – that something so odd about how he keeps himself in the centre, how he still bullies, bribes, blackmails and steals to get his way. How he always sounds a little bit - or a lot – crazy.

Two things came of Ugless' discovery. First, he taught other trolls how to do it, how to look human but never quite right. Second, he became ambitious and wanted, not just big houses, but also power and he taught the other trolls how to want power too; he taught them how to pretend to be nice, even human charming.

The trolls had always enjoyed a good laugh at the expense and pain of others and that fit right in with humans – who were suddenly finding Ugless “a great guy” a “real winner,” a “guy who could really run things, get things done, do things our way.”

Ugless discovered, and he was rather surprised, that many humans were much more like trolls than he had ever thought. Most of the way he lived, even under the bridge, they did too. He began to wonder if trolls and humans were more related than trolls and elves had ever been- except for the magic; humans had something they called science but it took way longer to change things than magic and it took too many people, too much time and work to figure things out. So, Ugless decided that science was bunkum and not nearly as smart as his magic.

Then, one wonderful day for Ugless, he found out that many, many humans were getting together to choose their next leader and he realized he wanted to be that leader and have all that power. So, he went out and he did more bullying, bribing, blackmailing and, of course, stealing on such a huge scale that he won! He won all the power and gathered all his victims close to him and they did everything he told them to, even when they were sure it was the wrong thing to do.

Then, he got rid of the humans who didn't like him.

When the storms came, Ugless stayed in his biggest house, and lots of people died but Ugless didn't come out again until the storm was past, sure that he would still be able to bully, bribe, blackmail and steal.

With Your Permission

What Stirs the Heart
October 2019

By Constance Scrafield

Just wrote the feature with Theatre Orangeville about this new season of plays and there is a theme of family and, as we spoke about them, it seemed to me that there is a theme to stir the hearts and minds of the patrons as well.

The matter of different folk living together in harmony, but not avoiding comment, comes up more than once. There are plenty of ways for relationships and families to be built of different people, people noticeably different from each other.

This covers a lot of territory: different can be appearance, age – levels of ability or education; cultural differences – there's pot boiler: especially overseas where there are so many countries, with such diverse cultures, located immediately beside each other.

Who can tell, control, guess where the heart will lead?

Do you believe in love at first sight? Still something science hasn't quite nailed down, I am happy to report. It is the suddenness of instant attraction, the power of it, the indifference to the differences between the two – fabulous, dangerous, exciting. The deep end.

One way or another, we are never alone for long, unless we make an unusual determination to remain alone but this is extremely unhealthy on many levels, a real detriment to our health, cognitively, physically and passionately.

To be honest, supplementing or, indeed, attempting to replace real connection with online intercourse may very well lead to even worse health problems than a solitary existence. We don't know about that yet, although people commit suicide over their online communications.

It would be interesting to learn the statistics there: how often do people kill themselves over what is said to them – however abusively -in the physical world as opposed to those who end their lives as a result of virtual conversations with them or said about them?

We are herd animals, for the most part, and we are warm tactile beings who long for and need, if not the actual touch of others, at least their nearness. Watch how often people hug each other; strangers can even be very quick to hug and people one might not expect will give a hug. It's wonderful.

How we touch each other varies as much as anything else in the world. Probably our ßcultures dictate how we approach each other, meaning in a positive light, not with death or harm hiding behind our backs. Probably, our at- home culture influences us for life about our physicality later on. If parents hug and cuddle their children, not just when they are tiny, little, young, but also when they are teenagers, young adults, parents themselves, this probably matters on how those adult children are affection with others, including their own children.

The eyes tell a lot of intention or not about touching. Body language invites and warns off; it can hesitate, undecided, until the other decides for both. If I recall correctly, there was a brief caveat against hugging and shaking hands in particular – wasn't there a fashion of bumping elbows instead for a while? I see lots of people shaking hands but that short term fashion crossed my mind recently in a situation and I looked to see if anyone else had thought of it but they were all glad-handing, as the expression is, so, I guess it faded as it should have into the dank heap of paranoia that needs to be hosed down regularly.

The passion that binds us to each other disregards completely the circumstances: nor war, nor rebels, nor dictators, nor repressors, nor the dark, not even the lies can stop us loving, lusting too, admit it.

We are alive and the disasters are what they are, sometimes. Yet, whatever we do about the sins of our fathers and our own neglect of the world around us, we must still be what we are – a species filled with thinking and talent at so much. We are not better at all than those fellow species with whom we should be sharing this planet with equity, with the same fierce love that we have for each other. We should caring about their well being as much as for our own children, for our friends and lovers – if those are well, so are we but – for ourselves – for if we are well, we can care for them.

It's a circle, do you see, a circle that must include everything. Scientists have clearly shown that all living things are connected – at their DNA level. No getting out of that. It's politics, the fools, yabbering on, brainlessly, missing the whole point of existence.

You have a best friend. You tell that friend you will always have their back. You have summed it up.

We have to have each other's backs not just people - we are only part of the whole. But the whole is being shattered and we have lost our way.

Love – how well we love – how our hearts are stirred – the answers lie there.