As I’ve done the past few years, here’s an alphabetical look
back at things that were on my mind in one way or another this past year. Many
of them relate to news stories that didn’t directly impact me or my family –
but that I find troubling and worth focusing attention on.
So, here’s my list:
A is for Achilles heel – talk about a metaphor coming to
life! I’ve had a problem with one of my Achilles tendons and now I understand
how such a simple thing could easily have downed poor Achilles.
B is for bye-bye – thankfully, in the October election, Toronto
finally waived bye-bye to Rob Ford, our (in)famous mayor.
C is for conducting and chance – what a thrill I had when I
got the chance to conduct the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in September.
D is for damning – I don’t think there’s any other way to
describe the recently released Study of
the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation report prepared
for the Senate Intelligence Committee. While many argued against its release for
fear of reprisals, failure to release it would only have compounded all the
wrongs committed. Instead, perhaps it can be the first step toward returning to
what America used to stand for.
E is for ebola – hard to imagine the devastation ebola has
brought to so many and equally hard to imagine the devotion of those helping on
the front lines of the crisis.
F is for fracking – just because the technology exists
doesn’t mean we should do it, or that it’s environmentally sound. Minor tremors
are just the canary in the proverbial coal mine. It’s the dangers posed to
potable water that I think people should be concerned about.
G is for Ghomeshi – Jian Ghomeshi was a popular, high
profile radio/television host who was let go by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation) this fall after allegations of physical abuse of women he had
dated. Apparently, to help his bosses at the CBC understand what he claims was
consensual rough sex, he showed them a video. Guess it wasn’t as reassuring a
video as Mr. Ghomeshi thought and he was let go after that. Since then he has
been charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcome
resistance – choking.
H is for hashtag – for those who don’t tweet or pay
attention to pop phenomenon, a hashtag is a number sign (#) placed before a
title or phrase that makes it easy to search for that topic on Twitter. Shortly
after the Ghomeshi story broke, two Toronto journalists decided to share their
experience with assault and they created the hashtag: #BeenRapedNeverReported.
Within no time, tens of millions of people around the world commented on it and
it has prompted women from all walks of life to tell their stories. It’s
astounding on many levels.
I is for innocents – sadly, we live in a war-torn world and
every day we hear about the perpetration of acts of violence and savagery
against so many innocents.
J is for justice – of all the founding principles the U.S.
was built on, “justice for all” has always seemed to me to be the cornerstone
of democracy. Over the past year, in particular, it’s become sadly apparent
that that principle is no longer cherished by all.
K is for killing – I really had a difficult time with this
letter because I didn’t want to write about killing. But, the more I thought
about it, the more I realized that it would be wrong not to write about it
because the reality is that every day this year brought news of killings. While
some of the killings may stand out as more horrific than others, the truth is
they are all tragic and if we don’t acknowledge each and every one, then there’s
no hope for humanity.
L is for lawless – I fear the world is becoming a lawless
M is for museum – the Aga Khan Museum opened in Toronto this
fall. It was built by the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims,
and it features his family’s extensive collection of Islamic art. When the Aga
Khan dedicated the museum, he said his hope is that the museum will act as a catalyst for mutual understanding and
tolerance. All I can say is let’s hope the museum achieves its goal.
N is for nostalgic – it’s funny the way nostalgia sneaks up
on you, isn’t it? Last week I had a flood of nostalgia when I was seeding a
pomegranate. Growing up we always had pomegranates and it was my father’s job
to open them. I have very fond memories of him sitting at the kitchen table
carefully, skillfully, patiently seeding pomegranates for us.
O is for oil – like most folks who have to fill up their car,
it’s hard not to be relieved about the lower prices at the pump.
P is for poppies – with 2014 marking the 100th
anniversary of the start of WWI, I have to say the most moving tribute was the
sea of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London. It was a simple idea that really
brought home the number of Commonwealth soldiers who were killed (not to
mention the hundreds of thousands of other soldiers from other countries who
Q is for quick to pull the trigger – though many of the
senseless killings in the U.S. seem attributable to police and others being too
quick to pull the trigger, I think that assessment ignores more fundamental
issues lurking below the surface.
R is for race relations – hard to believe that race
relations is still an issue in 2014, but it is.
S is for Skype – I come from a technology-resistant family,
but I think my sisters and mother would all agree that the best thing to happen
to us this year was my techie cousin (bless his heart) setting my mother up on
Skype. Now, though we’re still all miles apart, we’re much closer.
T is for torn-up – this year Torontonians have had to deal
with a record number of road closures and traffic disruption and there’s no end
in sight. It’s frustrating beyond belief and I work from home – I can’t imagine
what it’s like to face a daily commute anywhere in the Toronto area!
U is for unspoken – it’s hard for me to understand why gun
control is not even on people’s lips in the U.S.
V is for violence – I have only passing familiarity with the
Bible, but it seems to me that the world would be a better place if everyone took
to heart Matthew 26:52, which Martin Luther King paraphrased as: violence
W is for winter – don’t bother looking for a 2014 vintage
for many Ontario wines – the winter was so harsh, many buds died. One entire Ontario
wine region didn’t have any grapes to harvest and other areas had much smaller
X is for xenophobic – handy to have one word that captures
21st century international race relations.
Y is for Yule log-like – I love Christmas baking and this
year I made a bunch of different cookies from recipes I had clipped years ago
but never got around to trying. On about the third batch, I had to laugh when I
realized that many of the cookies were log shaped. Oh well, I guess I was just
drawn to Yule log-like things this year.
Z is for zester – I’m a believer in using the right tools
for the job. A few years ago rasp-type zesters hit the culinary world and they
were the “in” tool. When my sister visited I wanted her to zest some lemons and
when I handed her my old fashioned grater, she was shocked I didn’t have a
proper zester. I assured her I did, but it was useless. She tried it and
agreed. Two weeks later I got a package from her – the brand of rasp she has.
With much trepidation, I tried it and it is amazing! Thanks to my sister, you
could say I have a new zest for cooking!
Post Script: As I
was working on this, I was struck by the fact that violence underscores so many
of the topics. Given this sad realization, I have a New Year’s resolution I
invite all of you to join me in for 2015: taking a stand to stop violence in
all its forms. I’m convinced that until we all see it as a personal
responsibility, the world will only become more violent.
© 2014 Ingrid Sapona