Random musings from my week in Ontario’s North

It was drizzling and muddy when I arrived at the Moosonee airport on my way to Moose Factory on Monday.  There followed a short ride in a van to the edge of the river where I boarded a motorboat taxi that wound its way to the island.

The first thing I was asked was “Did you bring rubber boots?” I had not. The roads in this district are basically all gravel/dirt roads and when it rains they become muddy swamps. Luckily I was able to borrow some rubber boots and this proved a good omen since the weather quickly dried and I didn’t need them after my first day.

Moose Factory Hospital.  Surrounded by muddy roads.

 

img_3707An evening tour of Moose Factory by a colleague who has worked there for years took me to the dump to see the bears who were fattening up in preparation for their winter sleep. There was frost overnight and no heat in my accommodation. I ended up turning on the oven for a bit and sitting by the open door of the stove to warm up. An indoor campfire.

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The next day I ferried back to Moosonee then bounced to Fort Albany to Kasheshewan to Attawapiskat on a flight that sometimes barely got off the ground until it was time to land again. In the winter these communities are linked by ice roads that traverse the many waterways and frozen tundra.  Supplies are brought in over the ice roads and people travel out of the community then by skidoo or truck. During the summer and fall the only way into them is by plane.  Food and fuel and other goods are expensive since they all have to be either flown in or brought in by barge until the ground freezes and trucks can traverse them.

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Attawapiskat is flat and looks barren without any vegetation

Attawapiskat is an indigenous community of about 2000,  mostly Cree. Some speak only the Cree language. It has had a lot of press over the years for its poverty, mental health challenges, high youth suicide rates, drug and alcohol abuse and water and sanitation problems. There have also been allegations of money mismanagement by the local leaders.   Many of the people were friendly but reserved and hesitant to engage spontaneously.  Nevertheless, it felt foreign to me in many ways.

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Attawapiskat airport waiting room

At the “Atta” airport all baggage was searched by hand and we all had a pat down looking for smuggled drugs or alcohol. Attawapiskat has been designated a “dry” community for the past few months in an effort to curb abuse.  It took about 45 minutes to get my luggage cleared. I heard that, in the past few weeks,  one health worker was arrested and sent back south for possession of marijuana that he was taking for “medical” reasons. Zero tolerance. I wonder what they though of my Cooke’s coffee beans, grinder and bodum.

 

While I was there, news broke of an arrest of three people in Kingston who were part of a drug ring smuggling narcotics and whatever else to the James Bay West communities using the hospital shuttle flights like the one that I took during the week.

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“The Northern” is the main/only store in town, selling everything from bullets to overcoats to apples.  Fresh food is limited.  Lots of canned and processed food.  Good nutrition is hard to come by for these folks.   Notice everyone drives a 4-wheel drive truck as well.  Gas costs $2.99 a litre.

Lucky the weather in Atta was dry so I did not need my boots to walk around the little town. One of the Public Health nurses took me in a 4 wheel drive truck about ten kilometers out of the town to near where the river meets James Bay. The road reminded me of some of the muddy rural roads in the Massai Mara. The brush along the road was scrubby and tall grass. ( there are virtually no trees in Attawapiskat so it looks really barren.) A few times we skidded through mud, needing the 4-wheel drive to get through. An Africa flashback for me in Northern Canada! More than once, I was making mental comparisons of what I was seeing and experiencing to what I have encountered in Africa.

Once we got to the end of the road near the Bay, the vista was serene and washed in warm fall colors. In the spring, polar bears are sometimes seen here, I was told.

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Setting off on a new adventure

This morning I head off to the Ontario North to explore a new part-time “job” as a clinician in a remote indigenous community.  I am feeling both excited and apprehensive.  I suspect everyone feels that at the start of a new venture.  

I remember having the same mix of emotions when I set out for post-war Bosnia in March 1998.  I ended up there, on and off, for eleven years.  I still have a great fondness for many friends there and am planning a trip back in September 2019. 

The first time I went to Africa to tend to an itinerant gaggle of McGill students was similar.  Lots of unknowns. Was I up to the responsibility?  What will transpire while I am so far from home? What cultural differences will I encounter?

I know that the only way that I can fully understand this new challenge and know if I am suited to it is to do it.  So, I am heading off to Attawapiskat, a small James Bay community on the 53rd parallel tomorrow am and will be there for the week.

It will be an adventure and if I fit with the community and vice versa it will lead to a few days each month to provide Family Medicine clinic coverage where they are short on medical staff at the moment.

I have worked and traveled in vulnerable communities before but this is different. It is Canada.  Attawapiskat has had a lot of news coverage over the past few years because of the challenges to sanitation, housing and mental health problems for the youth in the community.  

Will I fit in? Will I be able to provide the medical care required and expected by the community?  I am eager to understand and respect the cultural differences between my upbringing (as offspring of white “settlers”) and their place as aboriginal people of the land.  

I have traveled in Africa several times when I have not seen another “white” face for a week, so I am used to being in the minority. It has always been a privileged minority, however.  I have been treated with respect and welcomed.  Will it be the same in a community that has suffered losses under the governance of my ancestors?

In respect for the people there, I will not blog about any of their personal stories without explicit permission but I plan to reflect on what I learn and experience and feel myself.

Buckle up your parka. 

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Some family history from the 1600’s.

This week I learned of a connection between my 8th great grandfather and a rock star.

John Bray II, my great, great, great, great, great, great, great great grandfather on my maternal grandfather’s side of my family ( that’s a lot of greats) was born in 1620 in Plymouth England.  This was the same year that the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth taking pilgrims to Cape Cod.  

Screenshot 2018-08-29 17.03.44In the early 1660’s John and his wife, Joan Pierce (1630), whom he married in 1653,  immigrated to North America along with their 1 year old son. They lived at Kittery Point in Maine where he worked as a shipwright. The first settlers had come to that area about 1607 so this was, indeed, the New World.

The home where the Bray family lived was a large, two and a half story frame house that faced the bay.  Although there have been lots of changes over the 350 years, the basic frame of that house still remain today, the oldest house in Maine.  

It was in Kittery that my 7th great grandmother, Joan Bray/Deering (1662-1708) was born and grew up. 

Old_Bray_House,_Kittery_Point,_ME-1The house remained much as it had been originally for many years,  with a central door, windows on either side and across the front and side dormers in the upper floor.  There was a chimney in the middle of the roof which suggests a central fireplace.  The house was large and apparently served as both a tavern and meeting place in the community in the 1670’s.  John was also a ferry operator during that time. 

There are several photos of the house on the internet, taken many years ago and it is a well documented piece of local architecture. No doubt most of the house has been renovated and materials replaced but its essence remains.

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Gradually people started to add to the house.  Little by little the house grew.  By the early 2000’s there were several oddly applied additions to the original front structure.

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Singer John Hall in the renovated Bray house at Kittery Point.

In 2007,  Daryl Hall of the rock duo Hall and Oates,  having an interest in old historic houses bought the home and property in an auction for about 1.7 million dollars.  He did further renovations and photos look like the inside was beautifully restored. He sold the property in 2012 for 1.9 million dollars.  John Bray’s will left the house to his wife and children in his will and the value of his estate when he died in 1689 was something just over 325 Pounds.  

Today the property has been encroached upon by other structures.  The original frame house forms the front part of a very large structure that clearly has had several additions to it over the years.  It is visible (and the front section identifiable like in old photos) on Google Earth.

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Vestiges of the original Bray House from the mid 1600’s remain although it has been altered and added to many times over 350 years.

I visited that district about five years ago and went to another area (Penobscot) where my fourth great grandfather, Robert Vardon, was involved with a naval battle aboard the 16-gun sloop, HMS Albany, in August/September 1779 during the American Revolution. The opposing American ground forces (led by Paul Revere) and several American ships were remarkably held at bay by three British ships. The British subsequently won the battle(s) and in the course of the fignting the Americans lost 470 men while the British lost only 13.  (  You can read more about that battle here.     http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/penobscot-expedition-americas-forgotten-military-disaster/  )

It was that Vardon grandfather that subsequently married Phebe Milliken (1767) who was the great great granddaughter of John Bray.  Robert and Phebe eventually relocated to what is now New Brunswick as United Empire Loyalists.

How amazing is it that I can trace these records back so far.  Something made possible by the internet and unimaginable only 30 years ago.  

Now for a little classic ’80’s Hall and Oates.

Remembering my summers of ’61 and ’62 with music

Tonight I came across a box of about 150 old 45 RPM records that I had not listened to for a very long time.  I ended out picking out several that were songs I listened to in my early teen years – pre-Beatles – from the summers of 1960 to 1962.

They reminded me of warm summer nights at our cottage at Bluewater Beach on the outskirts of Goderich, Ontario.   My friends and I would gather in the evening on a piece of dirt behind the Nothof family cottage and set a record player in the window so we could hear. We would dance to the same few records over and over. And over.

There was a restaurant on the highway that had a Juke Box and every month some guy would come and change the records.  We would find out when he was coming and ride our bikes out to the restaurant and he would sell us the records he was replacing for a quarter.  Treasures.

Tonight when I listened to Elvis singing I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You I could close my eyes and sway and sing the words and re-live dancing huddled over Ruth Ann Nothof.   Where is she now?

The music brought back such vivid memories. Almost sixty years ago and the recollection is as clear as a bell.  I still know all the words and even know where each little scratch is on the record.  Several of the records have little pieces of adhesive tape with my name written on them.  My writing has not changed that much in all those years.

What a treat (on the eve of my 71st birthday) to spend an hour or two with this music.  And to remember these moments from my youth.  Could be yesterday.

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Here are just a few of the songs I listened to.  Do you remember any of these?

Check them out below.

Roy Orbison – Crying – July 1961

Elvis Presley – I Can’t Help Falling In Love with You – October 1961

Freddy Cannon – Palisades Park – April 1962

Don Gibson – Sea of Heartbreak – July 1961

Beach Boys – Surfin’ Safari – October 1962

Ricky Nelson – Today’s Teardrops – March 1962

Everly Brothers – Til I Kissed You – January 1960

Del Shannon – Runaway – January 1962

 

“Dedo*, what are savages?”

I spent a day this week with my 7 year old granddaughter and out of the blue she asked me what a savage was.   I was a bit taken aback.  I had not heard that word used for some time.  

It turns out that she had seen the word “Salvage” written on a truck but obviously had been exposed to the word “savage” somewhere else and though it was the same thing.

I realized that this was a word that I would have heard quite a bit when I was younger but it is not used any more (as a noun**) or if it is, it has to be used cautiously and with some tact.

I tried to explain that it used to refer to people who were uneducated or uncultured or had some wild tendencies, who lived in societies where there was not the same education or sophistication as one that we are used to. (Try putting that into words for a 7 year old).  I also added that I don’t think anyone these days is seen as being that way because even if people live remotely or away from what we call civilization they are not necessarily “savage” in that they have their own cultures and habits which might be different from ours but not inferior.   

“So are they called homeless people now?” she asked. 

This was getting complicated. And over the week I have been thinking about this word.

Sir JohnThis morning I walked past the statue in City Park of Sir John A MacDonald,  Canada’s first Prime Minister  and wondered if there would be a move to have it taken out of the park, given his involvement with the establishment of Residential Schools in Canada.   I reflected on how times and attitudes have changed (for most) and how back in those days, our Canadian Aboriginal population would have been though of as “savages”. Uneducated. Not British.  No sophistication. Our settler ancestors actually saw this as an opportunity to educate them and make them less “savage”.  Totally wrong but coming from a place that we can not fathom today.

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A portion of Kent Monkman’s painting “The Scream”.  Canadian indigenous children being wrenched from their families to be taken to a residential school. A horrendous page of Canadian history that we must acknowledge.

“When the school is on the reserve the child lives with its parents, who are savages, and though he may learn to read and write, his habits and training mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write.”   Canada’s Prime Minister, John A MacDonald  May 1883

I remember having a midnight conversation a few years back with my close Maasai friend, Stephen.  He had just described to me several Maasai customs that were quite different from ours but that all had definite  significance and meaning and reason behind them to preserve longstanding customs that gave order to their society and even preserved it.  I recall him saying that white people may have thought of African cultures as being “savage” – the Dark Continent – but these cultures do have laws and rules and customs that have developed over the years to keep them functioning.  Those customs may be different from ours.  Not worse or primitive.  Just different.  The same comment might apply to our Canadian indigenous people.

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Maasai men drawing blood from a cow to drink (mixed with milk) at a celebration.  Not something we would do.  It didn’t hurt the cow at all (like you getting your blood taken) and makes perfect sense since they have no refrigeration, and so only slaughter their cattle occasionally when the meat can all be cooked and eaten in one day. This gives them some iron and protein without sacrificing the cow and if they rotate through the herd, the cow does not miss the blood at all.   Probably over time, the warriors who drank the blood were healthier so the custom persists in some rural Maasai communities.

Western literature sometimes portrayed  the image of the “Noble Savage” –uncorrupted by civilization and pure but unsophisticated and uneducated.  Both North American aboriginal people and native Africans were seen as a bit of a novelty by some. Charles Dickens, however, was in disagreement with this image and wrote this in his journal in 1853.

“TO come to the point at once, I beg to say that I have not the least belief in the Noble Savage. I consider him a prodigious nuisance, and an enormous superstition. His calling rum fire-water, and me a pale face, wholly fail to reconcile me to him. I don’t care what he calls me. I call him a savage, and I call a savage a something highly desirable to be civilised off the face of the earth. I think a mere gent (which I take to be the lowest form of civilisation) better than a howling, whistling, clucking, stamping, jumping, tearing savage. It is all one to me, whether he sticks a fish-bone through his visage, or bits of trees through the lobes of his ears, or bird’s feathers in his head; whether he flattens his hair between two boards, or spreads his nose over the breadth of his face, or drags his lower lip down by great weights, or blackens his teeth, or knocks them out, or paints one cheek red and the other blue, or tattoos himself, or oils himself, or rubs his body with fat, or crimps it with knives. Yielding to whichsoever of these agreeable eccentricities, he is a savage — cruel, false, thievish, murderous; addicted more or less to grease, entrails, and beastly customs; a wild animal with the questionable gift of boasting; a conceited, tiresome, bloodthirsty, monotonous humbug.”  Charles Dickens – June 1853.

To write something like this today would be considered racist and inflammatory.

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Times change.  We don’t use the word “savage”** much any more (as a noun to describe people) and if we do, we have to be pretty careful about it.  There are lots of other “ethnic” terms that seemed quite common when I was a kid that are deemed totally racist and inappropriate today.    Most of us ( in my circle at any rate)  are respectful of other cultures and aware that although we are different in our beliefs and customs and language and skin colour and history, we are neither inferior or superior to one another.  And that is a very good thing.

 

*When my first granddaughter was born I was working in Bosnia and Herzegovina, didn’t relish being called grandpa so took the Bosnian name for grandfather,  Dedo.   Now I am Dedo to five grandkids and this is what the whole family call me – and other kids too.

** Savage can be a noun, an adjective or a verb.  As an adjective it can be used to mean uncultured, boorish, or wild. ( a savage beast)  As a verb it can mean to attack brutally.   (The tornado savaged the neighbourhood).  As a noun it generally refers to a primitive, uncivilized person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baltic cruise

In May of this year, I took a 12 night Holland America Baltic cruise on the 1600-passenger ship Rotterdam and it was a great opportunity to visit several cities that have been on my bucket list. The cruise left from Rotterdam, Holland and visited Copenhagen, Tallinn, Berlin, St Petersburg, Helsinki, and Stockholm. I took hundreds of photos and it has taken me this long to whittle them down to one per stop for this blog article.

I will post one representative photo and a short comment about each city.

Copenhagen, Denmark was clean and bright and one thing that struck me as unusual was that people just left their bicycles (and they use them a lot) unlocked without fear of having them stolen. This says a lot about the people who live there, don’t you think?

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Copenhagen, Denmark

Tallinn, Estonia was a delightful small city to roam in or climb the streets up to the top of the hill for a great view. It would be an ideal place just to hang out for a week, soaking up the ambiance, reading books and drinking coffee.

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Tallin, Estonia

Berlin, Germany was a 2 hour drive from where we docked but well worth the effort. A vibrant city with lots of parks and trees and recent history. The city is very open about acknowledging with a certain amount of shame, but more determination not to have it ever happen there again, the horrors and trauma of WW2 and the Nazi regime.

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Berlin, Germany

St Petersburg, Russia was certainly interesting visually but the glitz became almost too much. Much of St Petersburg (previously Leningrad) was destroyed during WW2 so, although the buildings like the Palaces and the Hermitage were impressive, they really were reconstructions, not the originals. Ostentatious comes to mind.

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St Petersburg, Russia

Helsinki, Finland seemed a bit drab after St Petersburg. Russians go there to shop. I spent the day there taking a ferry to a nearby island where there were no cars and lots of opportunity to walk near the sea. A refreshing change and I actually walked over 20 kilometres that day, not something you might expect on a cruise vacation.

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Helsinki, Finland

Stockholm, Sweden was a photographer’s delight. The old town on the island was very wanderable with colorful alleyways and streets at every turn. The city also has a lot of canals and waterways that made a hop-on-hop-off boat trip a must.

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Stockholm, Sweden

Rotterdam, Holland, where the cruise both started and ended, strikes me as a city with a shipping port/industrial past that is gradually gentrifying and becoming an interesting destination, not far from Delft and The Hague as well.

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Rotterdam, Holland

Taking a cruise like this is an excellent way of seeing these spots. It is so good to have all your things in one place for the trip and have a “hotel” room that moves with you.

Where would I return? I would gladly go back to spend a few days in Berlin. Lots of culture, history, museums, parks, restaurants, coffee shops. And Stockholm was also somewhere I could hang out for a few days.

 

Celebrating diversity in K-town

As I was heading over to Food Basics to buy some Harvest Crunch (on sale at 2 boxes for $5 this week) I was halted for a few minutes by the Pride parade heading up Brock Street past the market.

The kiss

This photo of a same-sex kiss on the front page of the Kingston Whig Standard in August 1969 provoked outrage. Times have changed for the better in K-town.

 

I had a flashback to 1985, the first year I moved to Kingston, and the uproar that happened when two young men staged a “kiss-in” on the steps of City Hall on August 8.

 
I understand that the LGBT community had been appealing to the Kingston City Council to be able to hold pride celebrations of some sort for a couple of years and were being rebuked.  In order to draw some attention, this kiss-in,  in a kind of make-love-not-war theme,  was organized on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima in a kind of combination effort to promote some tolerance of sexual diversity and remind people that love is better than war.

 

 

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Enlarge this photo to see some of the letters to the Whig decrying the obscenity of “the kiss”.

The “ceremony” drew about 400 onlookers and the next day there was a photo on the front page of the Whig Standard.  What followed was outrage.  People threatened to cancel their paper for showing this “excessive and offensive” behaviour.   “ It just made me feel like throwing up.” said one.  “We were disgusted to see those two homosexuals in a loving embrace.” wrote another.

It took several years of requesting but finally in 1992, Mayor Helen Cooper proclaimed a Pride Day in Kingston.   

This year, the walkway in front of City Hall has been painted in rainbow colours and the parade had hundreds of folks who believe that there is strength in diversity walking together through the streets – Businesses, Church groups, Military, police, friends and even our  federal Member of Parliament (who happens to be the son of the mayor of the city in 1985).

diversityWatching the cheerful and colourful parade pass by, it made me happy to know that our society has grown much more tolerant and accepting of diversity.  I was also delighted last week to see this sign on a few lawns in Kingston and around the university.  I am glad that my grandchildren will grow up in a society that acknowledges diversity as a strength, not a threat.

One would hope that we can continue to celebrate our differences – religious, sexual orientation, political, cultural, – rather than see them as divisive.  Who knows, eventually, I may even become accepting of Toronto Maple Leafs fans.

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Just part of the Kingston Pride parade celebration in 2018.

A stroll through Mbita town

I really enjoy strolling through Mbita town on the shore of Lake Victoria.  I have visited Mbita, Kenya about a dozen times in as many years.  As you can see from the photos, I am the only muzungu for miles around.  I get many greetings and stop to talk with vendors or pikipiki drivers.  I feel very safe and welcomed.  I love the vibrant color that surrounds me there.  The town also has special signficance for me which I will note at the end of this post.

The photos can speak for themselves.

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Below is one other reminder of my special connection to this town. In the middle of the local hospital grounds, now behind some trees, is a water tank bearing my name.  It was the first infrastructure project that I tackled in Kenya in 2005 and the benefits it gave to this clinic led me to establish the CanAssist African Relief Trust in 2008.  Since that time, CanAssist has provided more than a million dollars of infrastructure support to communities throughout East Africa.  Little did I know, in 2005, what a profound effect that water tank in Mbita town would have on my life for the next several years.

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Here’s what Facebook knows about me.

I have been reading a lot of paranoid articles about Facebook’s intrusion into our privacy so I decided that I would see exactly what they had on me.  Following simple instructions I was able to download everything that Facebook knows about me, all my posts and messages, all the photos and videos that I had posted and also see what advertisers know about me.

It is all pretty boring.

There were no real surprises. It was kind of nice to be able to have all my facebook photos in a file or see every post that I had made since I signed up in 2009.  If nothing else, it allowed me to have a copy of all these photos just in case Facebook folds or somehow my file gets closed.

What about advertisers?  Well there is a list of ads that I have clicked on to view more.  No surprises there as they obviously had some item that actually interested me – or that I may have even bought online.

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And there was a long list of items that I was supposedly interested in so advertisers could aim their merchandise at me.  But this seemed bland and innocuous and even had a few weird things like skunks and rings of Saturn and Catholic Schools in the mix.   Go ahead, advertisers and send me things about skunks.  What do I care? The only advertiser that has my contact info is Airbnb and it is one that I use. They have my information elsewhere as well.

I was surprised to see a list of many of my
“friends” phone numbers in a file.  Not all of them but many.  Not sure where that came from.  But it gives me a good phone directory for friends!  I can also see a list of friends that I have “removed”.  But don’t worry, I can’t see if you have removed me!

The bottom line is that Facebook seems not to know anything about me that I have not been open about in my posts or interested in following  up on by clicking on a link or “Liking” it.

I came away from this exercise thinking that there was nothing there that I had not posted myself and that the advertisers knew nothing about me that I had not openly declared.  Basically I have not posted anything that I consider to be “private” so what Facebook knows about me is what I have chosen to reveal. I think that is the key.  Whatever you post is public and will remain. So taking some care not to post anything that you don’t want to persist in cyberspace is probably the best strategy.

I also have to be aware that what is showing up on my news feed is selected by Facebook and geared to what I have posted or liked in the past. So it is not an unbiased reporting of  events or opinion.  Suffice to say that I have not seen any pro-Trump posts.

Actually what bugs me more is those Facebook “friends” who lurk and are entertained by  reading my posts and but are not open enough to share anything themselves or even post a “like” or a comment from time to time.  Facebook is a social medium.  To me, Social means interactive.  If someone is not willing to share anything about themselves, but is happy to read all about someone else’s life events and opinions,  perhaps Facebook is not the medium for them.  Or perhaps they might eventually find themselves on my “removed” list.

Should I cancel my Facebook page because of privacy concerns? If this is all they know about me then I see no need.  Do I wish I could spend a bit less time checking my Facebook feed?  Yes.  But that is not their fault but my being hooked on this 21st century communication with online friends.

 

Chop Chop

It’s true.

One of my blood relations, my seventh great grandfather, Dominicus Jordan, was slaughtered in 1703 by blows to the head with a hatchet.

This month, in the King’s Town Players production of Blood Relations, I am playing the role of Andrew Borden who, in real life, suffered the same fate.

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Andrew Jackson Borden,  Lizzie’s father.

Andrew is the more famous of the two, having been found dead, along with his wife Abby, in their Fall River, Massachusetts home on the morning of August 4, 1892. The only people who had been in the house that morning were the maid who was out washing windows and the Borden’s daughter Lizzie. Lizzie’s was charged with the murder and her trial drew the same kind of widespread attention that O.J. Simpson got in 1995 and the out come of “Not Guilty” was received with the same skepticism. Lizzie Borden has become a bit of a legend since that time with the assumption being that she was the one who viciously murdered her parents despite the fact that there was and is no concrete evidence to prove her guilt. borden_4She got off on the “reasonable doubt” claim and to this day that verdict would have to hold. As a gruesome piece of evidence, the coroner had decapitated both Abby and Andrew and their skulls were submitted as evidence at the trial.

I remember skipping to the rhyme “Lizzie Borden took an axe. Gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41” when I was a youngster. Her notoriety is of epic proportion.

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Photos of Dominicus Jordan’s musket – Maine Historical Society

My seventh great grandfather’s death is well documented too.  Dominicus Jordan was born in Spurwink, Cape Elizabeth, Maine in about 1655.  In 1675 his family had to leave the district because at the beginning of “King Phillip’s War” their family home was destroyed by the Indians. Dominicus became known during that time as the “Indian-killer” and he fiercely defended his family and property. He was known for carrying a six-foot long rifle slung over his back wherever he went.
That rifle, with some of the barrel later sawn off, is now in the Maine Historical Society Museum in Portland. Gradually peace returned and Dominicus and his wife, Hanna Tristram, returned to Spurwink. Dominicus’ reputation with his native adversaries, however, remained with him. On August 10, 1703, under the guise of wanting to buy some goods, a small band of Indians fell on Dominicus, one of them striking his head with a hatchet and killing him. With Domincus murdered, his wife and six children were all “led through the wilderness to Canada” and kept as prisoners in what is now Quebec. After several years all but one made their way back to Maine.

There are no skipping rhymes about Dominicus but lots of legend.  And I do actually carry some of his DNA. I know from DNA testing on Ancestry that my brother, my kids and I all share some segments of DNA with other Dominicus Jordan progeny.  I am wondering if my DNA will help me to live the role of the unfortunate Andrew Borden.

So…did Lizzie do it? Come out to Blood Relations to see what. you think. The show will be at the Domino Theatre and runs Wednesday to Saturday for two weeks – March 21-24 and 28-31. Tickets will be available online and at the door. I hope my friends will be supportive of this production. And my enemies?  Well they might be excited to see me get hacked.

AM and Gosia

Gosia Rutkowska and Anne Marie Bergman rehearse for Blood Relations.

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