“William Howard Gass (July 30, 1924 – December 6, 2017), was an American novelist, short-story writer, essayist, critic, and philosophy professor. He penned three novels, three collections of short stories, a collection of novellas, and seven volumes of essays, three of which have won National Book Critics Circle Award prizes and one of which, A Temple of Texts (2006), won the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism. His 1995 novel The Tunnel received the American Book Award. His 2013 novel Middle C won the 2015 William Dean Howells Medal.” From Wiki.

William Gass read, thought and wrote from a chair, like most writers do. Yes there are exceptions, Malcom Lowry worked from a “standing desk” long before they were object nouveau in office furnishing.

Here is  a passage from The Tunnel, by William H. Gass, read by Victor Enns, recorded “live off the desk.”

from Correct in this Culture, “On the seventh daywritten and read by Victor Enns


My Playlist February 2018


Having replaced my stereo needle, my stylus for my turntable, I am listening to my record albums when I’m in my writing studio. My awesome Monsoon computer speaker system is falling apart, past the point the where Bob at the Columbia Radio repair shop (1151 Sanford) can put it together again.

Bach partita no.5 in g major played by a very young-looking Glenn Gould sounds terrific. I picked this Columbia masterwork up in a discount bin. It sounds as if it has never been played. Pristine (not expected) and warm (as expected) sounds great. I live in a +60 building where I’m not the only one with hearing impairments so I can actually play it louder than I did in Riverview Mansions; I have to if I want to hear any of the highs, as I’m without hearing aids at the moment.

Earlier today I listened to Levon Helm and the RCO AllStars, including Steve Cropper,(guitar) Donald Dun (bass) Levon Helm (Drums) Dr. John (Piano) Booker T Jones (Keyboards). This should have been a great record. It’s not. It’s boring. Much better, even with Levon Helm starting to lose his voice is the 2011 recording Rambling at the Ryman, which kicks ass right from the first chords of “Ophelia.”

Sure the horns are better in the Ramblin recording, but the big difference that makes this recording so great are the six Robbie Robertson songs played during the evening. Robbie didn’t sing ‘em, and wasn’t much missed I suppose, but his writing and the sounds of Helm and Danko for the beats and singing brought it all together. Unfortunately Danko is missing from the line-up, having died of alcoholism in 1999. Ramblin at the Ryman  “album” is one I have paid for and downloaded. Recommended listening.

I’ve been thinking about the greatness of The Band again from listening to them in the seventies, and the band needed the drumming of Levon Helm, the bass playing of Rick Danko and the songwriting talents of Robbie Robertson. The selection of material on the RCO Allstars is a huge problem, though not necessarily the absence of Robbie Robertson.

People who complain about how Robbie Robertson put his name on all “the Band’s” music, taking the copyright, and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, could consider the difference between these two records (both without Robbie Robertson, though he plays a little on “Sing,Sing, Sing on the Allstars record) to acknowledge his songwriting (not a bad guitar player either) as an example of just how important he was to almost all material they played. I’ll come back to Rick Danko, in my drums and bass blogging, another time.

Redrooffs Readers (and Friends) Book-club Reading List (2017-2018)


Edward Dolnick The Forger’s Spell Sept
Joan Thomas The Opening Sky Oct
Margaret Lee Shetterly Hidden Figures Nov
Margaret Atwood Hag-Seed Dec (Cover detail below)
(along with Shakespeare’s The Tempest)
Paula McLean Circling The Sun bumped by Bill Browder’s Red Notice January
Jan Carolyn Abraham The Juggler’s Children Feb
Ann Patchett Commonwealth Mar
Diana Athill A Florence Diary April
Paul Rogers Irregular War: ISIS & The Next
Threat FromThe Margins bumped in favour of TBA


Possibly From Other Titles of Interest
 Peter Wohlleben The Hidden Life Of Trees
Yuval Noah Harari Homo Deus
Patrick Suskind Perfume
Timothy Taylor Silent Cruise
Michael Redhill Bellevue Square
Ian MacEwan Sweet Tooth
Zadie Smith Swing Time
Deborah Levy Hot Milk
Elena Ferrante My Brilliant Friend (Book 1 of the Neopolitan Novels)
Bob Smith Hamlet’s Dresser: A Memoir

Let’s Talk #2



What if as part of “Let’s Talk,” we had a “We’ll Listen” campaign. File this under new ideas and let’s talk and mental health. The idea is this; start with a pilot project in a few high traffic malls, the airport, the universities, the library and offer to listen to passers by for 20 minutes at a time, with a 40-minute maximum. Listeners get a 20-minute rest every hour. Listeninng Pilot projects would be set up during the peak times of stress including Christmas in the malls, exam time at the university for example, listening stations in November running through until Valentine’s for the 1st market test.

The possibilities for listeners would include students who need the experience and wages better than most service industries, and volunteers including seniors looking for a “jobette,” to keep financially afloat, offering half decent wages up to $40/hour, and being able to bring their pets as an additional service to clients. The fees would start at $25.00for 20 minutes, $40.00 for 40. More money like coffee shops for quick turnover.

Extras could include hugs, comfort animals, coffee, milk & cookies, like high powered juice and water bars in gyms. NO mention of therapy or therapeutic value or services. Just listening. Hugging could be offered as an additional service, but not part of the Listeners job. Maybe greeters like going to see Santa. A hug when you come in, a hug when you’re ushered out, and a final hug after payment is made.

iPhoto opportunities could be important and in first years no extra charges for people being hugged or standing next to Listenning people wearing masks chosen resembling Freud, Jung, Klein, Lacan, Kristeva. This is a paradox, yes? No therapeutic value offered and yet photos with psychiatrists and psychologists. Maybe even a “Listenning Hall of Fame!” It’s the earnestness of most helping professions that drives me round the twist.

The recent Manitoba Health Report noted a need for 160 new psychologists working in Manitoba. This Listenning service could draw attention to the importance of mental health, but with tongue in cheek. The LISTENINNG attitude could be substantially different than active listening/clinical psychology or talk therapy, and would best start on a light-hearted note. This is not a crisis listening situation, almost the opposite. Anyone not threatening suicide or carrying a gun or other weapons could step up, and sit down to talk. No Beck inventory, no Briggs Meyers.

Some project specific curriculum and training might be needed, but we would consider listeners in its initial iterations as passive, while providing body language indicating the listener is hearing what is said. Would succeed best with emphasis on recruitment and training. It would be a real people business.

If this were to become an accepted practise, set up next to the key cutting kiosks and neck massages, the training could grow. My experience, and not just for kids, has been positive with the “How to talk so kids will listen, and how to listen so kids will talk approaches by Adele Faber, and Elaine Mazlich. maybe a bit of Virginia Satir and her book “people making,” but would need our own curriculum as the service moves to “active listening.” Both could be offered, with “active listening” requiring an upgrade to premium.

Listeners would have a few prompts if needed, but it’s the listeners paying, so their imperative. There are more and more people living single lives…this would be easier, and a wholesome personal service compared to some others. So pick-up a pre-packaged dinner after you’ve used 20 minutes you would give to prep time, to emotionally preparing to go home whether it’s a zoo or you live alone (I think still the largest market).

Until robots have AI, this business would be about lightly trained listeners listening to people, offering no answers to personal questions and dilemmas, no referrals with qualifiers that Listen INNG offers no therapeutic recommendations. Could be set up at malls big box stores, festivals. If pleased with being heard, likely return business. Think about massage therapy…But unrealistically they would expect listeners to remember them and what they had said. So note taking, also company trained. Everyone with a tablet…

Response # 1
Yesterday I was a passenger on the way to an event, with the driver talking about a workplace situation where he kept telling an employee the same thing over and over again, and she didn’t get it, and nothing was changing. I suggested active listening. I don’t know how impressed he was with that idea, because it is counter-intuitive: we “know” when someone is stupid or wrong so we keep repeating ourselves, hoping they’ll “get it.” Hard to set that “knowing” aside and start listening.

I think it would be quite possible to sell active listening as a technique to get the change you are looking for. But the thing is–it’s not really a technique. Yes, there are some elements that can be learned with practice. But the heart of it is to set one’s own ego aside and truly seek to understand the other person. Setting one’s ego aside . . . how do you teach that? A true active listener has to be in touch with his/her own disquiet, and able to self-calm.
Response 2
This idea really isn’t so new. Couldn’t one simply say that this is what has been taught in clinical counseling courses around the world for the past, what?, century (or slightly more). Sure, there have been some interesting twists and turns along the way, some salutary, some very much not, but the whole spin has been toward the ability to listen actively, including the notion of asking prompting open-ended questions that emerge from active engagement with the speaker. And, setting one’s ego aside, haven’t we been trying to take this on for centuries with yoga, with Zen Buddhism, hell, with Christianity? (I am nothing but a vessel of the Lord…)

My Response
Sure, you’re right. I would propose quickly two answers…one cynical…but no-one has exploited the lower end mass market for this. Imagine all the Trumpeter’s getting what really bothers them off their chest before they have to vote for a numbskull or someone decides to shoot up a school (there could be discrete entrances maybe buy up all the tanning salons going out of business). I started out cynical but always me the optimist will out. And all those Catholics who miss confession, and those Protestants and Jews who long for confession, etc…Could something like this make money? Maybe its like seeing Santa Claus with greeters giving you a hug, while you go sit on the couch and talk, and then shepherded out with another hug, to go for your wallet. While “Three Hugs a Day, that’s the minimum” by Sharon Lois and Bran plays on………so touching…how to regulate?

Response 3
Well, I know that you’re trying to democratize or generalize an idea that’s been with us for a while, and I like the idea of just supplying some listeners. Listeners who don’t talk; they listen. And, they’re paid to listen. 

That’s cool. I’m just pointing out that there might be a few hurdles. But, maybe not many. Maybe there will be no licencing problems because there’s no therapeutic intent or intervention of any kind. It’s all totally passive. I like the image of the RC confessor. Without the final mention of 100 hail marys.

I don’t know. I think the concept needs some work to turn it into a money-maker, that’s all…



My Left Foot


IMG_3049The word amputation makes us flinch

After a rare year without surgery I have a below the left knee amputation scheduled at the HSC on March 26, 2018. My left foot can bear no weight, and I have plenty.

The foot is ever more deformed; this picture goes back to August. Stage Four Flat Foot is the name, pain is my game. So as it offends me, off with my foot! “Lousy cartilage genetics,” said the surgeon who has preformed the previous five foot surgeries and will amputate  The hips too, have been replaced. The pre-op for this amputation will confirm I have enough working parts to do without my left foot and ankle. I want to walk again. I spend most of my time now in a wheelchair. which is a pity. Gimli is a remarkable sensible walking town. So after the wound heals, and I spend 40 days in Rehab learning to walk with a new prosthesis, I look forward to it. Meantime I’ve started work on a new project called The Pain Room.


Let’s Talk One; Monday November 12, 2017


Housekeeping interuptus


Assigned Task: Empty the dishwasher.

shpitzdishesthLeave my desk, turning around in my wheelchair, remembering I have empty cups and mugs on my desk. I turn back pick them up. Take them to the dining room table. Notice salt and pepper shakers waiting to be filled. Before rolling into the kitchen on to the lino, I notice the floor is dirty. Turn back, get a small bagless vacuum cleaner, (replaces the Shop Vac in my locker bought on impulse because I wanted to vacuum my apartment and was angry I didn’t have the Miele anymore, so in a self-defeating act of defiance I bought a huge high powered shop vac at the local Home Hardware, which was always in the way until I replaced it, the ShopVac I mean), and vacuum the kitchen floor. Realize after, it’s likely full, and spill the bagless vacuum container when I open for it to go in the garbage. The good hepa filter is really dirty, (partly because I use the vacuum to pick up my coffee grinding spills) so I rinse it, and manage to open the dishwasher door, I see I have no counter space so I start to put away the spices usedfor supper yesterday. Fill the salt and pepper grinders. See the coffee containers, grind the rest of it, and realize I’m going to run out this week, when the phone rings. It’s the Dr.s office, he’s covering in Emerg today can I come tomorrow. No, how about Thursday, ok at 1:20. Roll back, put the filter back in the Handi-Vac, and vacuum the floor again, closing the dishwasher to do so. Open the door under the sink to vacuum and the recycling is full. I collect the newspapers and realize I will have to change my WFP information for the third time since September because delivery has stopped while I wait for a replacement master card. I fill up the recycling bag to have an excuse to go to the main floor and check my mail before I “finish” emptying the dishwasher. So, as suspected, too early, no mail yet, but aha I sure fooled me! Because I have this here blue bag of recycling to toss into the bins at the end of the hall. I get back and realize I’m thirsty, drink water, seeing my thermos of coffee say, ok you can stop for coffee AFTER you finish emptying the dishwasher. So now I’ve got the dishwasher open, and I take out the utensils and pout them away first, then pots pans, mostly lids it seems, but maybe leave the soup pot on the stove to make more soup to take to my brother who is in hospital. You can look up the recipe for beef and barley soup AFTER while you have your coffee, so the rest of the bottom of the dishwasher I put away. Then start on the top shelf. I notice grain bread with a bread knife and butter beside it, cut myself a slice, pour the coffee (nearly there!) into one of the clean mugs I’m putting away.

And then, and then TA DA! I finish putting away the clean glasses and other stuff from top shelf.

Elapsed Time 55 Minutes. Coffee and recipe search …….

Next Assigned Task: Fill the dishwasher.

Salt you can see


We were sitting around after our holiday roast beef dinner, sated though still with some red wine in our glasses. I said that I have started checking before posting a new idea for my Idea Catalogue, which is where I’ll re-post this. I said we should have salt we could see. It’s hard to see because it’s white and disappears on your food. I’m farsighted making it more difficult. So a google search, and Argentina is on the case. This may just be an advertising campaign,  but it’s a damn good idea, don’t you think?

One of the reasons I like Mingus/Like Listening to Mingus


Ted Curson, Trumpet:

CursonreDolphyimagesAfter a yearlong stint with Cecil Taylor that resulted in one concert and a recording for United Artists (Love For Sale, 1959 or 1957 [depending on who one asks]), Curson joined Charles Mingus in a quartet in 1960, with reedman Eric Dolphy as a foil. “I got a phone call from a friend of mine and he said ‘I got a call from Mingus and I don’t want to play with that crazy motherf*cker. You want to take my place?’ It was in Teddy Charles’ loft, and there were a 1,000 or something musicians in there jamming, and I met Mingus and we played and everybody dropped out and that was it. He said ‘maybe one day I’ll call you’ and about two or three months later I get a call at about midnight and it’s Mingus. ‘Ted Curson? Charlie Mingus here. You start right now. I’m at the Showplace in the Village and as soon as you get here, you go to work.’ I got there and he said ‘Okay ladies and gentleman, here’s your new band – Ted Curson and Eric Dolphy – and you other cats are fired!’ Curson stayed with the Mingus group through 1961, including an important performance at the Antibes Jazz Festival in France in July of 1960. Curson was the group’s media spokesperson, which was a good thing for the trumpeter, as his image became more firmly rooted in the European public – laying the groundwork for a warm European reception a few years later. For Curson, “the main thing I picked up from Mingus was to ‘do your own shit, straight ahead no matter what.’

My Big Sister Wallops a Bully


After your tumble down the stairs in the pram, I was charged with taking a very black and blue you to the store, past the gauntlet of Roy Smith and his gang of bullies.  They started taunting margme about how you looked, and I had just had enough. I hauled off and gave Roy a good right hook to his left cheek. He didn’t see it coming from preacher’s daughter me. It must have hurt, because, he said,  “That dame sure can hit.”   One of my Gretna memories. Today, I’ d be charged with assault and sentenced to doing community service.(No priors).

Susann with 2ns 2



Baby Doll jpeg_face0Vic was a good-looking, handsome, healthy boy. Impatience was and still seems to be one of his characteristics. I used the carriage downstairs for his noon naps and the crib upstairs for the night. One September day I had put him to sleep in the carriage and left it in the living room. He had just learned to walk. I had decided to carry out a pail of water for washing the car.

I went back in immediately and to my shock I heard him howling down in the basement. He had managed to toddle to the basement door which I had not locked with the hook. He must have pushed the door and when it gave way he lost his balance and toppled down stairs. His face was black and blue on one side. I took him to Dr. Boreskie at once. No bones had been broken but it was a most frightening experience. And I had vowed that this baby would not fall down stairs as Garry had.

As a one year old Garry had also followed me down the cellar stairs in house at Lena. I had put a pot of hot water on the cellar stirs to cool for later use. He tripped over it and scalded his leg. The other time he came down the stairs at the John Neufelds house head first managing to stay upright with legs high in the air until I caught him a few steps up from the bottom. On another occasion we were visiting at Uncle Abe Enns’s and there were some other children romping around. In one place there were two doors close together and, in trying to elude the others, he took the wrong door – into the basement.

He had a nasty cut over his eye. — Only Marg did not seem to be quite as athletic!

Well, Vic got better again and as he got older he tried going down the stairs from the second floor. I had already placed my large heavy trunk across the top of the stairs as a barricade. But in an unguarded moment he climbed over the trunk and made his jaunt downwards!Watermelon and Rollkuchen

By the time Margaret was twelve and a half years old, she was finished with Grade 8 and entered the M.C.I. Of course she was the youngest student in the school and occasionally had to take some ribbing from her classmates. This did not seem to bother her much and she soon showed them that she was mature enough to be first in class. Margaret was ten years older than Vic and was quite a lot of help in taking care of him especially when I went back to teaching. The M.C.I. did not have school on Monday but on Saturday instead. This meant that she would be home on Mondays and I would be home on Saturdays.

thumb_Watermelon and Rollkuchen_face0



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