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AAAAAvl8s2oAAAAAABzlDALovely Husband weighed in on the subject of parenting on his blog, The Mysterious East today, suggesting the tide is shifting in many families toward a more equitable sharing of domestic duties.

Now I know lots of men who say they do an equal share of the grubby work of parenting (bum and nose wiping, laundry folding-and-putting-away, everyday cooking – and not just on the grill – bathroom scrubbing and grocery buying) and even more women who say they just do a better job of those things than their husbands ever could.  

I am grateful for our own, let’s call it “flexible” arrangement, where everything seems to gets done eventually and we don’t worry too much about who does it on what day. Oh yes, and we have a cleaning service every two weeks, which helps smooth things beautifully.


At the risk of alienating my vast audience that is apparently quite interested in the Edward Greenspon/John Stackhouse drama unfolding at The Globe and Mail this week, I must share this video I just found on youtube. It’s brilliant and guaranteed to make you smile – a jam on a bus travelling through the Belgian countryside with members of The Waterboys from 2001.

We are big Waterboys fans in my house. Five-year-old Lucy is in the midst of a terrible crush on Mike Scott and tonight asked me to email him a love note, requesting that he post her favourite song on youtube. She has a thing for pale blue-eyed boy musicians. Yes, already.

I wrote that because I just know he’ll love that headline. Still, I appreciate the irony in one of Paul Wells’ most recent posts regarding the head honcho change-up at The Globe and Mail. Wells translates the infamous Crawley memo into twitterspeak and here it is:

Improved, Web 2.0 version:

Teamwork ftw!! ShakingUp Exec Team. $4shareholders=changes. Bye Eddie! lolz Stack=newBoss

Incidentally, Twitter broke the news about Edward Greenspon’s departure before Truth and Stories did. I guess there’s always next time…..

Now that news of Edward Greenspon’s departure from from the editorial helm of The Globe and Mail is being widely circulated (see Phillip Crawley’s memo below), word is getting around that he may have been pushed. Kind speculation suggests Greenspon resisted further cuts to the Globe newsroom, which has already been hit by layoffs. Maclean’s writer Paul Wells, outraged less by the corporate shuffle than by the goddawful writing in the memo, had some fun at Crawley’s expense. Newsrooms can be vicious places.

 This staff memo was sent to me this morning by a friend in the news business. As an avid reader of The Globe and Mail and and a big supporter of Canadian newspapers, I am passing it on in its entirety. I’ll leave the rest of you to read the tea leaves.  Here’s the official news story from the Globe.

From: Crawley, Phillip

To: ~Permanent Staff All Branches Sent: Mon May 25 11:04:48 2009


The need to restructure our business, to meet the challenges of the current economic environment and the rapid changes in media consumption habits, has been our overarching goal during FY09. As we head towards FY10, that evolutionary process takes a leap forward today with the reorganization of our senior executive team.

Reimagination-inspired teamwork during the last four years has reinforced the value of a more collaborative way of managing our business. By drawing on the collective strengths of the team, we are all better able as individuals to contribute to the success of The Globe and Mail. With that objective in mind, I have reviewed the composition of the Executive Team, and identified priority areas for improvement. New skills and different styles of leadership are needed to take The Globe and Mail to levels of achievement which meet the ambitions of our shareholders, to cement our standing as the best in Canada at creating high-quality content for consumption on whatever platform is most desirable for our readers, users and advertisers.

We are building on a position of strength not enjoyed by many of our competitors. The executive changes outlined below are intended to ensure that The Globe and Mail is in the prime spot to take advantage of the market opportunities that will arise when the recession eases.

To deliver the required results, I am adding one extra position to the senior team and changing responsibilities and reporting lines in three other parts of the business. Ed Greenspon, who has been our Editor-in-Chief for almost seven years, is stepping down and is succeeded by John Stackhouse, the Editor of Report on Business since 2004. John, 46, who is a Queen’s commerce graduate, joined The Globe and Mail in 1989, and has proved himself to be a strong team leader in our cross-functional business initiatives, especially during the last two years when he championed the relaunch of our Globe Investor site.

He brings a high-class pedigree to the Editor-in-Chief position, having been a distinguished foreign correspondent before taking up executive roles as Foreign Editor and National Editor. He has raised Report on Business to levels of excellence in print and online which are unsurpassed. There will be other occasions to pay tribute to Ed Greenspon’s outstanding service to The Globe and Mail, which he joined in 1986. He made his reputation as an astute observer of Canadian politics and turned the Ottawa bureau into a powerhouse of coverage. Since 2002 he has spearheaded our editorial transformation, particularly in exploring new ways to tell stories. The record of awards won under his leadership is second to none.

I know you will join me in thanking Ed and wishing him well as he moves on to new challenges. In addition, I expect to make an early announcement that we have recruited a Vice President of IT, having conducted an external search in recent months. We need a dedicated leader in the IT Department to enable us to choose the right path forward in our use of technology and choice of systems. Given that most of our annual capital expenditure is devoted to this area, I need the best possible guidance and expertise. He/she will take over responsibility for IT from Perry Nixdorf, whose triple-headed responsibilities as VP of Operations have become impossible to sustain. Perry will now be able to concentrate exclusively on preparing for the transition to our new presses in 2010 – one of the biggest undertakings in The Globe’s long history – and to continue with the revitalization of the Circulation Department, which has undergone radical reform under his leadership. Perry will remain VP of Operations, looking after the Circulation and Production departments.

The importance of the digital revolution affecting our business is well understood, but remains the most demanding issue we face in terms of the complex options ahead of us.

From next Monday, June 1, the role of VP Digital will be filled by Angus Frame, who has proved that he has the skill and determination to lead this department since his move from Editorial last summer. Angus, 37, who graduated in political science from McMaster and from Ryerson in journalism, has worked for The Globe and Mail since 1996 and was Editor of before switching to Digital. He will work closely with the new VP of IT and with Roger Dunbar, who has headed Digital for the last two years, and now takes up the new position of VP of Business Development and Marketing. The reorganization of departmental responsibilities which has been under way since the start of the year means that some staff who currently report to Roger will move with him to help him fulfill his new role. The main aim of Roger and his team, which includes management of co-brand products, will be to identify new revenue streams across all our properties, and lead the process of launching and supporting new business initiatives. He will continue to head our marketing, promotions and research efforts.

Details of the staffing arrangements in IT, Digital and Business Development will be announced shortly by departmental heads. All of these changes are an expression of my determination to ensure the long-term health of The Globe and Mail. With the backing of our shareholders, I am confident that we can be among the best in the world at what we choose to do. I look forward to your support and advice in making those wise choices.


Lucy's panties on our line, backed by apple blossoms.

I received a lovely comment this morning from Mrs. Mutton, a fellow clothesline devotee (and craft blogger) who appears to live in New Hampshire and who passed on another set of rules for hanging out clothes. One of them involves walking the length of the line with a damp washcloth to make sure the line is clean enough to hang clothes on. My line hangs about five metres off the ground, making this impossible without a ladder, but I do respect the effort.

My laundry line hangs under our crabapple tree in downtown Fredericton.

My backyard line hangs beneath a crabapple tree.

I have a confession to make. I love clotheslines. I hang mine with pride and look for them everywhere. The Ottawa Citizen recently ran an essay I wrote about the art of hanging laundry. I am not sure how long the piece will stay on their site, so I am posting it here.

The family line

A clothesline was once about drying clothes. Everyone’s mother knows that sunshine and a stiff breeze are all anyone needs to get all the sheets and Dad’s shirts dry.

But in this age of hipster-cool fixed-gear bikes, slow-cooked organic food and urban car co-operatives, pinning your fair-trade cotton undies across the yard is almost a political statement.

New suburbanites, forced to retreat to more affordable neighbourhoods where they can raise their toddlers on pesticide-free lawns, are fighting subdivision covenants that forbid the display of damp sheets. It’s about the planet, they argue.

Here in the Maritimes, that sort of self-righteousness makes us smirk. We’ve always known the value of a good laundry line. It’s less about the planet and more about being sensible. And there’s the satisfaction of building something beautiful and revealing from the daily fragments of your life.

I often wonder what people think as they walk past my backyard line, pinned daily with a flashy mix of little-girl skirts and nightgowns, towels, pants, mismatched socks and the occasional black, metal band T-shirt owned by my teenage stepson.

When my father built our childhood home in Dartmouth, N.S., in 1976, my mother asked for two things — a canary yellow double sink for the kitchen and a clothesline. My mother, a Montrealer, was ahead of her time in many ways, teaching my brother and me to step lightly on the planet and to avoid chemical foods and hydrogenated fats. She is also a domestic esthete, and appreciated the je ne sais quoi that a laundry line added to our new street.

Mom got the yellow sink and the laundry line. I spent a lot of time in service to both and learned valuable lessons about beauty in the everyday. Laundry, like art, is all about choice and expressing your own idea of what’s acceptable and beautiful.

There are no real rules about what goes on a clothesline, only a generally accepted set of principles, some practical and some not, usually handed down within families. Some people hang their underwear, some don’t . Some hang only sheets, tablecloths and towels; I hang everything.

My mother taught me that large or heavy items go first, because they take longest to dry and can be left out while the line is refilled. Items of similar shape should go together. Underwear and socks go last.

Similar colours should go together. Red things go next to pink things, and if you want to hang an orange thing next, find something with pink and orange in it to separate the two.

Colour order is less important than hanging a taut and tidy line using just the right number of spring-loaded wooden pins. Towels must be hung level with the line, sheets folded over and pegged three times. Speaking of pins, they must do double-duty, connecting each item so nothing bunches in the middle.

My mother is a wise woman who taught me many things and encouraged my independent spirit. I have absorbed her lesson and incorporated my own, admittedly more random clothesline esthetic.

Years ago, an artist friend introduced me to the idea of wabi-sabi, a Japanese concept that finds beauty in asymmetry, impermanence and natural transience.

Wabi-sabi celebrates imperfections, simplicity, modesty, intimacy and fleeting beauty. No concept more fully expresses my own approach to hanging laundry.

To wit, the sum total of this morning’s effort is as follows; a large, lettuce-green bath towel, two tablecloths (one green, one yellow), a women’s knit top hung upside down, two pairs of women’s shorts (forest green, beige), a set of green-patterned, kids’ one-piece pyjamas, three green napkins, three pairs of panties (one large and two very small with Curious George on the front), a pair of white ankle socks, and a bright blue bra.

The items are arranged more or less by their membership in the greenish-blue colour family, except for the large, yellow tablecloth in the middle. I am not sure why I put it there, except that it seemed right to put the two tablecloths together and because it looks pretty there, with the breeze lifting it up

But everyone has different ways of doing things, and family traditions are displayed in backyards and front porches all over the world.

Big families, or people with a lot of laundry, tend to try to fit as much as they can on the line using as few pins as possible. Couples, including the pair of scientists who live next door, hang their small loads in the centre of the line, sometimes with large gaps between items, with two pins per item — an unheard of luxury in most families.

In countries where personal space is limited, people get creative. There again, it’s less about the planet and the perception of cool and more about simple necessity.

At dusk on one January night in Shanghai, I watched a small girl in pigtails stand on a wheelbarrow and lift hangers filled with clothing from the branches of a tree on a busy commercial street. She gathered the dry items into her arms before walking alone into the crowd.

My own daughter is just five and cannot yet reach our laundry line. She often stands with me on the lobster box we use as a step, handing up pins and helping to fold smaller things as they come off. She helps mostly to fill the time while she waits for me to finish, so I can watch her practice bike riding.

I am not sure what she’ll remember from these long summer days , but I hope she’ll embrace the impermanent beauty of all this. The time we share stringing memories across the backyard and the beautiful, moving sculpture we build together, waving gently in the breeze.

And OK, I don’t really mind that it saves on my power bill.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

A colleague just sent this to me. Interesting piece in about top Canadian CEOs who twitter. Piece features Fredericton’s Marcel LeBrun, CEO of Radian6 who says Twitter is indispensable tool because, “Your brand is now the sum of conversations about it, which makes “listening” such a critical discipline for every company. We also practice what I call “listening for the point of need” where we pay attention to questions or expressed needs where we can add value and be helpful.”

Marcel Lebrun, CEO of Radian6

Marcel Lebrun, CEO of Radian6

My bandmates and I recently had the great privilege of playing at a benefit for a much-loved family in Keswick Ridge, New Brunswick.  Jeff and Eloise Stillwell-Kennett are hard-working parents, community members, volunteers and all-round great people. Jeff is sick and can’t work so of course, their friends and neighbours wanted to do all they could to help.

The first thing people did was start a facebook group. Word spread like crazy and a few weeks later, more than 300 people turned up for a benefit concert and supper that raised many thousands of dollars for the family. People paid $5 to get in, $2.50 for a bowl of donated chili or baked beans and $1.50 for a piece of homemade pie. People brought more than 30 lemon meringue, pecan, blueberry, butterscotch and coconut cream pies, in case you were wondering. Volunteers laid out a silent auction of donated items like woven hats, massage therapy, music lessons and even somebody’s old printer. Ladies sold raffle tickets on a mother’s day basket and dozens of local musicians (including our band, Delilah) played for free. A local CBC celebrity emceed the event with panache. 

Now Keswick Ridge is a farm community. Jeff is an organic farmer, in fact. Community events in are held in the school or a small building with buzzing flourescent lights. Most people are, well, older. Think white hair and pantsuits. Plaid work-shirts and mesh ballcaps. Not exactly the kind of folks you think of as being connected with the latest social media tools.

 Still, the whole thing was planned online. Most people in this farm community have access to high-speed internet. Many of them video taped the performances for posting to youtube. (I’ll post them here when they make it). The facebook group became the equivalent of the old-fashioned community phone tree – somebody was in trouble and everybody jumped in to help. Old-school community involvement, using new-school tools. Cool.

May 2009
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  • throwing my grammaaa a party today cant wait to dee the surprisment in her little face :) it makes me excitied evertime i see shes 99 now 5 years ago
  • genuine people dont come around often.If you find somebody real,enough to stay true,keep them close. 5 years ago