How Japan’s Hanko Ivory Destroyed Africa’s Elephants

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Poem of the Week: What Happened Here? by Petra Morin (my sister!)

What Happened Here………..?

Windows covered, rotting roof,

Unkempt garden, is this proof

Or maybe not, it’s hard to know

The broken windows…it puzzles me so.

Who once walked the path out back?

Where are the children, what did they lack…

Is it a story of heartbreak and pain…

Somehow it doesn’t look like there was anything to gain.

32169, 643, 528 1427, 128

Lonely numbers, boarded doors

Was there ever happiness walking across these floors?

I hope that perhaps one lonely soul

Made it out into the world and achieved some unattainable goals……

 

Thanks to Petra for submitting her poem!

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Poem of the Week: Midwest Boys by Betsy Brown via Alison McGhee

Midwest Boys, by Betsy Brown

In Oshkosh, Wisconsin,
we kept it in mind
I-41 went clear down

to Florida. These scoop-necked
midsized midwestern
towns, set up separate originally

on waterways for trading–
first furs, then lumber,
the worker drinkers

voiceless then fierce
for the hell of it, tense
machinery, construction.

As a teenager you noted
mainly the routes out.
Spring, the dead mud,

the bad paint job, drifting jarred
eaves troughs, sullen pickup
sunk to its axles on the lawn.

A boy’s mind turns to the road.
Tract houses, one, one,
all along the frontage road

with tequila and Old Style, pot,
cheap speed; if you’re
a girl you try to remember:

They shoved candlesticks
up Linda. They drew on her
with her Bonne Bell.

If you pass out
they’ll strip you,
you won’t know

and if you’re lucky only
photograph you. These pictures
show up on bulletin boards.

In Eau Claire, 1992, teenage
boys dropped rocks from
an overpass over I-94,

aiming for windshields.
Martin Blommer in his
Winnebago, hit by a 32-

pound rock; his wife alongside
didn’t hear it, the crash,
the RV veered in a second

into the median, staggering
to stop, and he, in silence,
transfixed instantly, forever.

32 pounds. These are
my highways. I remember.
Long-play radio stations,

driving in moonlight
past hours of white
white mute fields.

I never wanted
to go back to Florida.
As a girl I didn’t

have much to compare–
dime bags, shot glasses, lives
that trudged with losses

and butane. I can’t forgive them.
Where could one drunk girl
find an ocean?

In the first forced blink of spring
I hate you.
I remember your names.

My curse on you is this:
May you have daughters
and may you love them.

 

Thank you Alison and Betsy.

For more information about Betsy Brown, please click here.

 

 

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Poem of the Week: Write About a Radish, by Karla Kuskin via Poetry Mistress Alison

Write About a Radish, by Karla Kuskin

Write about a radish
Too many people write about the moon.

The night is black
The stars are small and high
The clock unwinds its ever-ticking tune
Hills gleam dimly
Distant nighthawks cry.
A radish rises in the waiting sky.

 

Thank you Alison.
For more information about Karla Kuskin, please click here.

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Japan and the Killing of Elephants

Sometimes the word ivory feels a little too objective for me. Ivory is actually an elephant’s tusk which they use because it’s theirs to use. It’s essential to their survival. Tusks are used for defense, offense, digging, lifting objects, gathering food, and stripping bark to eat from trees. They also protect the sensitive trunk, which is tucked between them when the elephant charges. In times of drought, elephants dig water holes in dry riverbeds by using their tusks, feet, and trunk.

It’s unfortunate that somewhere down the line somebody figured out that these tusks can be harvested from an elephant by killing it, and that the “tusk” can be carved into trinkets, jewellery, piano keys, chopsticks etc…. But you have to kill the elephant to get the tusk. That’s just the way it works.

brent-japan-ivory-nationalgeographic_1494083.adapt.1900.1.jpgAbout 100 years ago there were approximately 10 million elephants in Africa. According to the Great Elephant Census of 2016 only 400,000 or thereabouts remain. With 30,000 or so being killed for their tusks per year they will be extinct in the wild within 10 years. The UK, France, China and the US announced bans with Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong soon to follow suit. Elephanatics is advocating that Canada also ban the sale of ivory but we’re waiting for the Honourable Minister to make up her mind about this issue.

Since the closure of these markets the “ivory trade” is flowing to two other markets, Japan and Vietnam.

japanivory_00013.adapt.1900.1.jpgJapan has long resisted closing the trade in any way, just like they resist closing the Taiji dolphin slaughter.  Japan has consumed ivory from at least 262,500 elephants since 1970, the vast majority from large, mature adults. A 2015 JTEF and EIA single-day survey of Yahoo! Japan and Rakuten, a popular e-commerce site, likewise revealed some 12,200 ads for ivory—about 10 percent of which indicated, illegally, that the material could be shipped overseas.

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The article below is long but it’s worth reading. Elephants are like people. They are highly intelligent, emotional and complex animals. They are a keystone species which means we need them.  I am hoping that the next generation of human beings will be justifiably horrified and appalled at our horrifying treatment of animals and wildlife including this astonishing species.  While we dither they die. What a profound loss that is for everyone but especially them.

HOW JAPAN UNDERMINES EFFORTS TO STOP THE ILLEGAL IVORY TRADE

 

 

 

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Books: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch was another one of my summer reading pleasures. Donna Tartt, creates an almost Dickensian world of loss, friendship, criminality and redemption with the world of  art, and the love of old and well crafted things as its backdrop.

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The story is told from the point of view of Theodore Decker, a thirteen year old boy whose mother dies in a terrorist attack while they’re visiting the art museum. Theodore’s mother has a passion for art which she shares with her son.  Before leaving the ruined museum, he meets “Welty” who gives him a ring and somehow signals to him to take The Goldfinch, a beautiful painting by the 17th century dutch painter Carel Fabritius.   The Goldfinch is a rendering  of a small bird, chained to its perch. The horrifying notion of a beautiful but chained bird becomes a driving metaphor for life throughout the book.

Theodore’s life is destroyed by the loss of his mother and as he tumbles down the rabbit hole of loss and grief, the painting he has taken is the one thing that gives him a reason to live. The calmness he feels when he holds the painting gets him through his worst times.

The book is a study on how we create family when its taken from you. First Theodore lands at the Barbours, a wealthy, deeply eccentric family of his friend Andy. When his less than perfect father and his girlfriend come to claim him, off he goes to Las Vegas where he is left mostly to his own devices while his father and his girlfriend gamble to earn their living.

One of the parts of the book I love the most is when he meets Boris, a young boy his age whose mother is also dead and whose father is a violent, crazy, Ukrainian drunk who works in mines all over the world. The two boys spend their days playing truant, drinking, doing drugs and embarking on a life of petty crime.

Tartt captures the authenticity of adolescent friendship  that feels real and funny and sad at the same time.

The boys eventually separate when Theo heads back to New York but it’s the unlikely ups and downs of this friendship that drives the second half of the book. The painting goes missing and the two re-unite to find it.

In between, of course, there is so much more. Theo finds a home with Hobie, the partner of Welty, and learns the world of antiques. None of the friendship and safety offered by Hobie stops Theo’s descent into addiction and criminal wrong-doing. Ultimately he has to decide if he’s going to live or die and in the end, like the life of the goldfinch, he has to make peace with his lot in life.

I loved he book but thought it was too long in sections. My husband read the book and said the word I fear most “Shantaram” a book he detested for its long-windedness. I would agree that this book could have used a good edit. Still, it was a great world to be a part of and I loved how art was upheld as a necessary outcome and reflection of the human experience.

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Books: I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman was part of my summer reading extravaganza. Nora, amongst many other things, is the screenwriter of Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally and for a brief moment in time she was married to  American journalist Bob Woodward.

Nora is funny. And she writes comfortably about the uncomfortable topic of women and aging. As a woman in that demographic I’m aware of the neck, the midriff and the hair. But the essay that killed me the most and made me feel that perhaps Nora and I, in another lifetime could be comrades in arms, was her piece on handbags. The essay is called “I Hate My Purse”.

We all know who we are when it comes to purses. A long time ago I gave up on the idea that I could fit whatever I needed in a tiny, well maintained, minimalist handbag.

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In fact, I gave up when I asked my husband to buy me the biggest handbag he could possibly find for Christmas. And he did. And it’s huge. I spent 5 minutes thinking “I’ll put this here, that there and this here. Perfect. It will always be so and I’ll always find everything.” Evidently I didn’t know myself very well.

Nora , like myself, has everything in that handbag needed for every possible situation. We’ll begin with earplugs which fell out of the makeup bag which for unknown reasons can never be zipped closed.  The earplugs can be found at the bottom of the bag filled with hair and pencil shavings. The pencil shavings come from the pencil and sharpener I keep on hand at all times in the event I need to write something with a pencil and then subsequently the pencil requires sharpening  which means I need to have the sharpener. I can also find multiple lipsticks mostly without lids, often with pencil shavings in them with hair nicely embedded in the remaining lipstick.

Phone paraphernalia is always in separate compartments. Phone is in one, headset in another and cord in another. I have three hair brushes mostly because I can’t find them and so I keep throwing them in my bag. I have a hair straightener with me at all times because my hair is a shrill mess. I have a wallet that also serves as a small handbag. And of course, I have running shoes because you never know when you need to break out into a gallop (like today when I went to help a dog and its owner in distress). And of course an umbrella and a raincoat because I live in a rainforest. And I always have leftover airplane snack food that’s kept on hand (if I can find it) for emergency snacking, like if there’s an earthquake. Which brings me to the water bottle I also carry with me at all times. Again in multiples of at least two because as I mentioned I often can’t find things.

I haven’t even gotten to my lunch or my sporting gear which requires a whole other bag.

So yes, I liked this book. It made me laugh and at least for that chapter I felt there was a kindred spirit in the world. Nora also lived in New York which for me is a bit of a fantasy city. If only I had gone to New York instead of Vancouver when I left Toronto. Sometimes I like to waste time thinking about what if’s like that. She also likes to cook which is another thing I like about her and which she writes about with a great deal of humour. So ya, ladies, if you’re looking for a light read, this could be the book for you.

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