Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dear Friends

The Electoral College is meeting as I begin to write this.  The conclusion is a foregone one, but that doesn't make me any happier about the result. If there is one thing that has marred an otherwise quite nice year, it's the way that Donald J. Trump won the US Presidential election even though he received something like 2.5 million votes less than Hillary Clinton.  In Canada we've been complaining about a first-past-the-post electoral system where the government of the day is the one which wins the most seats in the House of Commons.  That produces lop-sided results with the Prime Minister's party  frequently elected with less than 40 per cent of the votes cast since the vote is usually divided between three or more parties: our current super-star Justin Trudeau got just 39 per cent. But there's nothing like the what happened in the States.

I guess I've been in denial since November 8, and I don't know what to do.  Of course, one might say that as a Canadian citizen, I don't have to do anything.  But I'm also an American citizen, as well as a citizen of the world, and as such what happens South of the Border affects me a lot.  It is so hard to get my mind around the idea that a dangerous clown will be in the White House, come January 21, 2017.  If you have ideas about how to fight the seemingly inevitable crash, let me know.

While we're waiting, let me mention a few things that allowed us to survive 2016: 

First of all,  the grandkids are great, and we have a new one.  Louis Lachlan Soderstrom arrived  June 22 to the delight of parents Lukas and Sophie.  Big brother Thomas and big cousin Jeanne were overjoyed to make his acquaintance, as you can see from the photo.  It was taken when Louis was about 10 hours old, and captures the magic of the encounter.

Thom continues to be a very helpful big brother, while Jeanne enjoys their company as often as she can.  They all were over last Sunday to put up the Christmas tree, and had a very good, if somewhat noisy time.  Just wait until next year, when Louis will be more mobile.

Last spring Lukas successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis, and now is officially Dr. Soderstrom. His committee awarded him the distinction"excellent" unanimously for his work, and now he's deep in the next step which is finding a job.  This fall he's been applying for Post-Docs and teaching jobs, and doing some translating.  He hopes to be able continue considering big questions while earning a living at it!  Sophie is on maternity leave this winter, and seems to be enjoying having more time to spend with her boys.  She certainly is a great mother, although her school is missing out on having a great Grade One teacher.

Jeanne, who's in first grade at a school in another neighborhood, is already reading! On the weekend she read a little book to all of us, and this morning read another one to her mother.  Elin's apartment is two blocks from Jeanne's school, with a park right across the street, and  many nice kids to play with.  (She spends alternate weeks at her father's place, which seems to be working out pretty well.)

Elin works full time as Associate, Development and alumni relations at McGill University, but still is able to teach and play the viola da gamba professionally.  Next summer she has two dates with La Nef, playing the music of Henry Purcell.  She also is very pleased that her significant other Stuart  now has a posting that means he can be in Montreal most of the time.  

Lee currently is finishing up a dining room table for Lukas and Sophie.  It's a beautiful piece of oak and maple with ebony touches.  It will be able to   sit eight easily when its two leaves are in but will fit their kitchen without them.  He also rebuilt a bedstead made of old growth cedar, transforming it from a double size to queen: another piece of imaginative and meticulously executed design.  The prototype for our dining room chairs also was finished this year, but with the other projects on the go, the chairs got pushed to the back of the shop, so to speak.  He gets some help now and then from Thomas and Jeanne, although in the photo they're working on a treasure chest that Grandpa designed for Jeanne.

As for me, this fall I've been putting the finishing touches on my book about how roads are and have been vectors for change and exchange throughout history.  Road through Time: The Story of Humanity on the Move  will be published by University of Regina Press next April so there's been proof-reading and stuff like that to do.  

But I also spent much time this year working on another project  about how States and states that have much in common can be so different.  It will be called Unidentical Twins, and will compare pairs like Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Rwanda and Burundi, New Hampshire and Vermont, Saskatchewan and Alberta and--the big one--Canada and the US.  I finished the manuscript and submitted it to UofR Press at the end of the summer, but had to rewrite parts of it after the US election in November.  Like so many others, I had assumed that Hillary Clinton would win, so several chapters were written with that underlying premise.  How wrong I was!  

Which brings us back to where I started.  Some hard thinking and hard work are going to be necessary to get us through the days and years ahead.  May the force be with us...

Bisous, beijinhos, be well,



Penney Kome said...

Happy New Year, Mary! With a little luck, Trump will self-destruct. Are you part of Pantsuit Nation?

Mary Soderstrom said...

I'd heard about it, but knew nothing about it, until your comment. Must look into it. Let me know how the countdown for your book is coming.