Commercial support for recycling–good to see!

We window shop and shop shop often at the Bay Centre in Victoria BC. It’s close to the marina and Ogden Point where the cruise ships dock so the whole area is swarming with tourists and street entertainers and food carts and horse drawn carriages and pedicabs and…. Lively and entertaining everywhere you look.

Saturday this is what caught our eye as we meandered through the mall.

Commercial support for recycling--good to see!


Commercial support for recycling--good to see!



Everyone doing their part and maybe we really can clean up the mess we have made of our planet.


Books, books, and more books.

News of the World: A Novel by [Jiles, Paulette]

What is the easiest thing for an author to talk about? 

Books of course.

Like most authors, I’m an avid reader and can’t imagine a day with out reading. Evening is the best time for me–when the day’s to-do list has been completed (or as much of it as possible), when the household  chores are done, dinner eaten, dishes washed and restored to their rightful place in the cupboard.

Now, horizontal on the sofa, I read while my husband watches TV. How so, you ask? I was a teacher for many years. I know how to shut out extraneous noise.

What is the easiest thing for an author to do after reading a book?

Tell everyone they know to read it too.

In the spirit of that sharing (no, not being bossy at all), I offer you a couple of books to consider.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles – I loved it so much, I’m rereading it.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.


Mudbound by Hillary Jordan – the characters are still with me and I will reread this book too, but I will not go to see the movie.

In Jordan’s prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband’s Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family’s struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura’s brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not—charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion.

If you do read or have read either of these, I’d love to hear from you.

Evolution of language drives me crazy.

Evolution of language drives me crazy.


Me as a kid: “Me and David are going to play hide and seek.”

My mom: “David and I….”

My students: “Me and Tanya are going to the mall on the weekend.”

Me: “Tanya and I….”

My neighbor: “Me and Tom are going on a cruise.”

Me, suppressing a sigh: “Oh, that sounds lovely.”

My students: “I’m gonna get a puppy for my birthday.”

Me: “I’m going to get….”

Sports announcer: “He’s gettin’ to be a really good quarterback.”

Me: “Getting! Getting!”

Elderly lady at the gym: Do you wanna hear sumin interesting?”

Me: Cringing and biting my tongue. “Hm?”

Language evolving or just sloppy grammar? Maybe I’m old fashioned, but this cavalier usage of language feels like a dumbing down of our universal intelligence. Voilà becomes walla. Is walla even a word? How does the song go? “Ooh, ee, ooh ah ah. Ting, tang, walla walla bing bang

Our written language is just as bad. Punctuation and capitalization have fallen by the way side. We’ve gone back to a sort of hieroglyphic with letters and emojis instead of words–real words.

And writers, please, please, please stop using the word “would” for habitual action in the past.

“Every weekend when I was a kid, my dad would take me to the corner store for a treat.” NOOOOOOOOOOOO. Just say: “Every weekend when I was a kid, my dad took me to the corner store for a treat.”

Okay, I’ve had my rant. Your turn. What are your pet peeves with this evolution of language we are experiencing?




By Darlene Jones Posted in Writing

Why I hate Facebook, but can’t leave


Why I hate Facebook, but can’t leave

Disregarding the furor over Cambridge Analytics for a moment, let’s look at the reasons to hate Facebook.

Trying to find a post I saw recently is next to impossible, even if I remember the name of the person who posted it. Checking his or her timeline doesn’t always bring up the particular post. So I switch from my computer to my phone where I first saw the post. Not only is it not there, the current posts on my phone do not match the current posts on my computer. What the…?

Reruns are only good when it’s Buffy or The Big Bang Theory. When a post’s original date is March1, why am I seeing it again on March 10? And no, it’s not from someone who reposted it.

More annoyances:

Strangers: Posts from people I don’t know, have never heard of.

Headlines: One screams “Meghan’s rare fashion faux pas revealed.” I click out of curiosity only to learn that she forgot to remove the loose cross-stitching that holds the vent of a coat while being transported. Oh no, stop the world, I need to get off.

Expert advice: Without the name of the author or their credentials to substantiate the validity of their material I’m supposed to take it for gospel truth. “14 things to never eat again” “8 exercises you’re not doing correctly” And I’m supposed to believe this because…?

Opinions: Another post tells me women over 53 should not wear jeans. As if! “Chicklet, I’ll be wearing jeans when I’m 90.”

Click bait: 21 ways to…. and I have to click 21 times? No thanks.

Ads: Arrrgh! Just because I looked up a dress on the Guess website does not mean I want to see it another 374 times.

Bad news and more bad news: Pollution, Trump, Putin, pollution, Trump, Putin….

And that’s not even getting into the heavy duty stuff like bots and election manipulation and surveys such as this:

Facebook wanted to know in a survey if an adult asking a 14-year-old for nude photos was acceptable. The questionnaire gave multiple response options, like “This content should not be allowed on Facebook, and no one should be able to see it.” One option that was absent: inform the authorities. Facebook’s product VP Guy Rosen called the question a “mistake.” More.

Why don’t I just close my account?

Because there are good things happening too.

Many of my friends post the most amazing stuff. Great pictures of their travels or their professional photography, news of life in Churchill, Manitoba, for example, and what they saw in DC at the March for Our Lives. Information that I would dearly miss without Facebook.

I love the posts from sites like AJ+ One of women on TV in Afghanistan talking about women’s rights or of another Afghani woman writing a university entrance exam while nursing her baby are two examples I saw recently.

And how would a modern labor movement organize something as expansive and coordinated as a state-wide strike? Well, it turns out the answer is Facebook. Over 24,000 teachers and public employees joined a private Facebook group that became the headquarters, forum, and meme factory for the massive teachers’ strike in West Virginia. That strike shuttered every public school in the state for nine days, until the teachers’ demands were met.

And how would the March for Our Lives fared without social media?

And how would I keep in touch with friends and family all over the world or keep tabs on my new heroes, Emma, David, Cameron et al without Facebook?

Still when I read articles like this, I worry that I’m not being cautious enough and should close my account.

Are you on Facebook? Have you closed your account? How worried do you think we should be?

New is not necessarily better

Remember Easy Bake ovens?


New is not necessarily better

The original toy used an ordinary incandescent light bulb as a heat source. Betty Crocker, the company behind the cake mixes sold for the toy, had flavors like German Chocolate to Rainbow Chip even back in the day.

My daughter begged for one when she was about seven and played with hers–unsupervised, yes, unsupervised for what harm could a light bulb do?–for hours on end, generously sharing her goodies with the family.

My granddaughter also dreamed of owning an Easy Bake Oven so of course indulging grandparents bought her one for her birthday–a rather cumbersome affair that looks nothing like an oven.

New is not necessarily better

Unfortunately, this model is electric, must be plugged in and warmed up for 20 minutes. The baker has to slide the pan into a slot, ensure that it is centered and wait 9 minutes while the cake or cookies bake, push the tray a little further along into the cooling area and then engage in the delicate maneuver of removing the bake goods from the slot on the other side of the oven.

Now, my granddaughter is bright, but this cannot be accomplished on her own. With the amount of supervision required we might as well bake a “real” cake.

Give me the good old oven any day.

Now, to handle the media….

Facebook, The New York Times, Twitter, CNN, MSN, magazine, gossip rags, blogs … really, what is one to believe?

Now, to handle the media....

Meditation and yoga to help kids? You hit the share button. Then someone comments, “Who are the behavioral specialists and who pays them? This seems like it would take some extra funding. They do this in Baltimore in a underprivileged neighborhood? Really?

Mind moves to, “All schools should do this, if it’s true.”

Now, to handle the media....

4Ocean–two young guys trying to do their bit by cleaning up garbage from beaches. Awesome! Let’s send a donation. Then someone claims it’s all a scam. You do some digging. Scam. Scam. Scam. But wait, the BBB says they are legit. But, is the BBB site you’re looking at legit?

Mind moves to, “How can I help, if it’s true.”

Now, to handle the media....

Headlines scream from the magazine rack. Brad and Jennifer reuniting now that they’re both single. Not a chance, screams the next.

Mind moves to, “Ooh, how romantic! If it’s true.”

Now, to handle the media....

Twins? Wait a minute. The palace always makes formal announcements. Not a family member herself.

Mind moves to, “Gotta be fake, but … perhaps best to wait and see.

So do we give up? Stop reading the news? Research endlessly before we decide to believe? Go with our gut? Or, move to a desert island?