Friday, January 28, 2011



Wild Sky / S. Shawcross / 16 x 20 / Oil on canvas / $120
Be sure to visit our painting blog:

This weeks feature video:
Sometimes some of us have way way too much time on our hands...
and it gets really really bad when we take it out on our hair.

CURRENT COMMENTARY: This column written in 2005 is self-explanatory and/or I think I've raved already about the topic. A central theme is the weather we Quebecers have in winter when it is "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey." Now I'm lucky to have a brother who pretty much knows everything and who explained to me that this phrase had nothing to do with the unfortunate results of hairy little beasts from India being exposed to a Quebec winter. In fact, during the "olden days" when ships went to sea, they used cannons to scare away the pirates and fight their never-ending wars. Cannons required cannonballs and cannonballs on the deck of a ship were kept in holders--branch-like affairs made out of brass. They were called brass monkeys. When the wind blew cold and the water froze and the air grew bitter with winter, on deck the brass holders would CONTRACT and the iron cannonballs (CONTRACTING at a slower rate) would pop out... hence the phrase. There. You learned something. Never say this blog is all tripe and foolishness!


I just want to know one thing: How are we all supposed to take the issue of global warming seriously when we live in Quebec in January? I mean really, tell me the truth, isn’t there just a little part of us all that wishes this darn global warming stuff would just hurry up and get here? Especially on those mornings when hell hath no fury like a brass monkey kept out overnight and the car won’t start?

Now I’m pretty much like everybody else, laboring under the profound guilt of living in a first world country with amenities. There’s nothing like amenities to make you feel guilty I’ve concluded. So there I was just after bringing in a ghastly New Years watching the tsunami in Sri Lanka on my television amenity when up pops Rick Mercer of This Hour has 22 minutes fame. “Take the one ton challenge” threatens Mercer on the TV screen in black and white. (You gotta know it’s serious when they do it in black and white.) Now I’m one of those people that thinks we ought to listen to Rick Mercer so when Rick Mercer tells us to “Take the one ton challenge”, then darnit we’d better pretty much listen. The fate of our amenities lies in the balance.

So I got myself onto that computer amenity that I have and looked up the website. Much to my profound relief I discovered that the one ton challenge has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with restricting carbohydrates and transfats. (There is a God, I thought to myself) I waited patiently for the results of my on-line questionnaire that was going to help me save the planet by reducing carbon emissions by one ton. All I had to do was plop in all these little yes/no answers and a few figures about water heaters and solar panels and boom… up it comes--the bar chart of guilt--the one that is bound to make you feel like a person living in a first world country with amenities.

Well… Apparently I don’t have the right amenities. I figure in order for me to save one ton I would have to buy a dishwasher, a car, a freezer and clothes dryer. Then I’ll have to add on an extension to the house and put in a garage. That way I can then easily save a ton of carbon emissions by giving them all up or insulating them.

Isn’t it always the way it is… all the fun stuff is reserved for people with better amenities because all they have to do is unplug their cappuccino coffee maker and third car while the rest of us are left out of this whole challenge thing. Either that or we give up our bus pass and walk 30 miles to the store.

Not to worry though, I think I’ve discovered a way that those of us on this side of the bar chart can help save the world by reducing carbon emissions. If we all do this once every hour by my estimations the amenity-challenged people of the world alone will be able to save the planet in less than sixty days! Are you ready? Here it is: Inhale twice and exhale only once. Okay everybody all together now… in with the oxygen, in with the oxygen, out with the carbon dioxide. Again.


Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

Holy moly, sistah!!! LOVE this picture!! You are amazing!!!!

ElaineCoxArt said...

er..ahhh..Syl, this is so well put :)

Alex said...

I hate to do this but I am such a stickler for details: The brass would "contract" in the cold to a greater extent than the metal of the cannon balls.

Love the writing and painting!

Sylvia Shawcross said...

I'm glad I got a "science-type" person here to maybe answer my "english-major" person question: If a milk carton freezes, it explodes so I figured when things freeze they expand... that's what I figured... How does this work? she asked in all honesty. I know I could just google it but I hate google and it hates me. :)