The body will say what it feels; the mind will conceive of a plan based on what it sees and wants; but the soul speaks what is real. The soul’s language is not conceived but dwells in the depths. And it is a language so hard to let out. I have read the word images of Shayleene MacReynolds’ over the last while and have come to realize she is speaking from the soul.
Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-nine): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
The Haida Gwaii has carvings of three men with hats on the top of their totem poles. These watchmen tell the carver of the totem pole if enemies are coming or if there is any other important information they should know. (all references are at the bottom of the blog).
It’s unusually warm for autumn and Zsofia had asked Rita to bring her class to Victoria Park in Kitchener.
From the driver’s seat Rita glances in the rear-view mirror of the college’s Ev Star Min-eBus. All the elementals are here now. Marlo is sitting right behind her with his arm across two coolers full of sandwiches and thermos with water. Behind Marlo is Aella and Ember. The other students fill the rest of the double chairs behind her and the single seats. Kanayago sits on a single seat at the very back by herself.
After the police came to talk to them about the attack the man named Norm made on the woman called Wendy, Rita asked Aella her background. Once Aella found out who Rita is and that she teaches the Environmental Technology class at Six Nations Polytechnic Brantford Campus she became more talkative. Aella explained that she was supposed to be in Rita’s class but couldn’t. She was volunteering in the Haida Gwaii as a Red Cross Emergency Response Worker until just a few days ago.
No one is talking so she turns on the radio. The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” comes on and when the song gets to the verse “All the lonely people” she glances in the rear-view mirror at Kanayago. The girl is looking out the window with a conflicted look on her face.
After she parks she and her students walk towards the lake that runs through the park. Rita sees a weeping willow. Not knowing why she touches its bark.
Shrouded in mist she stands on the eastern shore of Haida Gwaii. She knows its Tlell because of the totem pole with the three watchmen carved into its top. The mist disperses for a moment and she can see Rae standing on a wooden outlook with cedar rails. Rae is staring across the Hecate Strait. This time Rita can tell Rae knows she’s there.
Rae modeled by Nicki Henry, picture taken by Darren Henry of Nixxx Design Custom Printing firstname.lastname@example.org
“You have all the pieces,” a soft soprano voice says. “They must come to Haida Gwaii before the eclipse. I have already told this to Ember.” Mist covers Rae and Rita awakens from the vision with a feeling of displacement.
“Are you okay?” Marlo asks.
“Yes, but I need to get everyone to Haida Gwaii.”
“I don’t think that will be so hard. Rán has already told me we must go and the new girl, Aella told me of a vision she had from Onya also saying we must go to Haida Gwaii.”
“I wonder if Kanayago has received a message from Kaneki?” Rita asks. She sees Kanayago walking separate from the others.
As they reach the shore of the lake Rita sees Zsofia standing in a sleeveless t-shirt and shorts reading over a sheet of paper.
Zsofia modelled by Dr. Arla Kasaj picture by Dan Watt: email@example.com
Zsofia looks up and says, “You’re all here!”
Rita doesn’t miss the remark: all here. Zsofia is the only person who is not an elemental that knows almost all her secrets.
“Have a seat but watch out for the Canadian Geese droppings,” Zsofia tells them. “What happens with our medical supplies once they’re used is quite interesting. In the past many of the sharps such as needles and syringes were put into containers and autoclaved. Hydroclaving was found to be more efficient so that’s how all needles and syringes are sterilized now. All other medical items such as bandages, gloves, and so on have to be sterilized and buried in a separate landfill or incinerated. Incinerating is becoming safer for the environment as stricter rules are enforced and as better technology developed.”
“Our health is hurting our environment?” Marlo asks.
“Not as much as it used to,” Zsofia answers. “Infectious disease such as AIDS, Hepatitis, and super bugs such as SARS will increase if we don’t keep everything sanitized. But to clean items like bed sheets or to sterilze needles means putting CO2 or other pollutants into the air.”
“A catch 22,” Aella says with a shake of her head.
“Less so as we use better technology and learn to waste less. Any other questions or comments?” Zsofia asks.
No one else asks anything so Rita stands up. “Thank you Zsofia. Well let’s eat,” she continues nodding towards the coolers they brought from the mini-bus.
As the others eat Rita walks with Zsofia along the lake’s shore.
“What happens now that you have them all gathered together?” Zsofia asks when they are out of earshot of the others.
“We go to Haida Gwaii,” Rita answers with simple solemnity.
“You want me to go?”
“Yes,” Rita replies. Zsofia may be part of the solution no one considered.
With thanks to Nicki Henry of:
You can contact Nixxx Designs Custom Printing at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And Dr. Arla Kasaj: email@example.com
Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-eight): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Aesop’s Fables are full of animal characters meant to teach morals. In Rita Walker the elementals and mythological characters are meant to represent the connection between the Earth and its atmosphere and all of life. Enjoy the fictional representation but don’t forget the real policies and technologies out there that are beneficial.
“Get away from me!” Rita hears the man named Norm cry out. She also hears a very faint buzzing sound.
There’s the sound of scuffling and something falling over.
“Get back here!” she hears Norm shout with a voice full of violence. “I’ll kill you bee!” he says with a hiss.
A door slams as the honeybee flies with a wounded wing onto her back. Rita hops down the duct work to where it curves up towards the second storey ceiling.
Back outside she feels a gust of wind pressing her down. As the wind dies down the honey bee becomes a crow. The crow rolls its left shoulder and Rita can see it has some damaged feathers. The crow flaps its wings, grabs her in its claws and flies clumsily down to the tree where Rita had changed.
Rita climbs atop the soil that consists of the rest of her body and changes back into her human form. The crow hops onto her left forearm. Rita dashes to the front of the building where she can feel another swirl of air. The crow hops off her arm and in a moment turns back into the young women.
“I couldn’t sting him as a honeybee or I would be dead,” the young woman says in a frustrated voice. “So I buzzed him in the ear until the woman could get away. But he hurt my left shoulder.”
In the parking lot by an old red hybrid Echo, Rita sees a woman in her mid-thirties fighting off a much taller man. Rita watches in surprise as the young woman runs behind the man and simultaneously grabs the back of his collar while punching him in the centre of his back with her other hand. The man crumbles to the ground with a gasp. Before Rita can reach her the young woman strikes the man in the temple with her elbow. By the time she gets there the man is lying motionless on the ground. Rita looks for some kind of movement around his chest. She kneels beside the man and places her hand by his mouth. He’s breathing.
“Are you okay?” the young women asks the woman called Wendy.
“Yes,” Wendy replies with a shaky voice. She whips out her cell phone and Rita sees her dial 9-1-1.
“I have to go,” the young woman says.
“We can’t,” Rita tells her. “We have to be witnesses or nothing will happen and he might attack her or someone else.”
Rita hears the man grumble and start to sit up. She gasps as the young women kicks him in the head sending him back to the ground unconscious. “I hate bullies,” the young woman says.
“Who are you?” Rita asks.
Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-five): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
If you work at or hang around a place that people from around the world go to such as fitness centres, pubs, or any business near the sea, and you listen and wait, you might just notice more similarities than differences.
She sits on her couch listening to Mazzy Star’s “Into Dust” while facing the door windows that look over the Grand River. On the other side of the river she can see maple trees whose leaves are turning from green to yellow and red. In her lap is Kanayago’s paper on workplaces she has or is working at. Rita skims through the hemp sheets, vaguely noting and marking any grammatical corrections. Initially Kanayago worked for mining companies as an apprentice to a metallurgist. On the last page she sees the heading: Kanetic Reusable Batteries.
I am a lab technician for Kanetic Reusable Batteries. My job is to discover how much of a heavy metal, such as cadmium, mercury, and lead is needed to give the batteries the longest life time. The batteries I work on specifically are for mining machinery. Unfortunately I need a lot of iron to do this.
Kanayago’s last statement about needing iron confuses Rita. She doesn’t understand why Kanayago would need so much iron. There is no mention about the heavy metals being dumped into the Grand River. More worrisome is that the Grand River Conservation Authority either doesn’t know about the pollution or is ignoring it. With each new government comes the addition or subtraction of conservation laws.
She gets up and touches the trunk of the weeping willow focusing on Rae. But all she sees is Rae sitting on a log with her back to Rita. Rae’s raven hair whips around in the wind while her body stays still and silent. It can be so hard being the bridge between peoples while belonging to both. Yet there are so many similarities when you look at the world before colonialism. It’s those similarities Rita wants to bring to light once and if she can bring all the elementals together to stop Kaneki from destroying everything. “Saying nothing is not a solution,” she whispers to Rae. But Rae doesn’t reply.
Rita closes her eyes. Tomorrow is Saturday. She will have to park her car near the Brantford branch of the Conservation Authority and polymorph into something else to get inside undetected. She wishes Oya’s apprentice would show up at her class. A bird or fly could get inside much easier than a mouse or cat.
Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-three): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
The federal government of Canada does offer incentives for people to buy electric or hybrid vehicles. Currently only British Columbia and Quebec offer provincial incentives. Because WordPress is seen around the World you could check to see if your government offers incentives to buying electric or hybrid vehicles.
After her last lecture Rita tried to research Kanetic Reusable Batteries and whether it has a parent company but to no avail. She also called Marlo each day to see how he was feeling. He told her the new girl, Ember, had told him about a dream she had.
In the dream Ember said she saw Rae in the distance sitting by the shore on a washed up log. As Ember walked closer she noticed Rae was holding an argillite carving of a man with hands and feet that looked unfinished. Without looking at her Rae pointed towards a tree. On the tree grew usnea lichen.
From her purse Ember then pulled out a paper bag and offered it to Marlo. When he opened it he saw the pale greyish-green strands of a plant. “Rae wants you to eat this.”
He did and has felt much better since.
Before her class begins Rita pulls Kanayago aside. “It was strange dirt you collected but I can’t return it to you.” Rita doesn’t explain that she reabsorbed the dirt.
Kanayago’s brow furrows but she doesn’t seem to be overly surprised by what Rita tells her. “Oh well, thanks for looking into it,” is all she says.
As Rita stands in front of her class she takes in a deep breath. This lecture is extremely important but could easily be misinterpreted. “We’re going to discuss Direct Air Capture,” she says. Trees, as you know, absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Vehicles and factories burn gas or coal and give off carbon dioxide. Too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the Earth will heat up. Ocean flooding, forest fires, and the melting of glaciers increases.
“Direct Air Capture attempts to pull carbon dioxide out of the air and sell it to greenhouses, turn it into fuel, or bury it as basalt rock. In the past there were only two companies performing Direct Air Capture: Carbon Engineering out of Canada, Climeworks out of Switzerland and Iceland. Carbon Engineering turns the carbon dioxide into fuels by adding it to hydrogen through electrolysis. Climeworks sells carbon dioxide to greenhouses in Switzerland and creates basalt rock in Iceland.
“These companies are not a solution though. We still need to decrease the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Next week we’ll talk about water usage in the house. I do have an assignment for you. Write a five hundred to a thousand word essay on the jobs you are currently doing or have done and what the company you are or did work for is doing to help the environment.” Rita hopes Kanayago will give her better insight into Kanetic Reusable Batteries.
Rita Walker (Blog Fifteen): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
In the past vehicle batteries were often just thrown in bodies of water like lakes or rivers. Batteries can be completely recycled now. The importance is getting the batteries to the recycling plant.
On the Grand River, just on the border with the Oakhill Cemetery, a new factory was built just the year before. Rita had driven by the factory and saw a sign in bold blue letters with the words Kanetic Reusable Batteries. Under the name were the words: Clean Energy. On her excursion the other night her feline nose suggested otherwise.
She wants to get inside Kanetic Reusable Batteries and see what’s going on but not in her human form. Part of the factory extends into the Grand and she noticed the river’s water flows in and out of a grate. But the grate opening is small and even as a rodent she doesn’t think she could swim through the river’s current to get inside. Perhaps Marlo could help her with that. Rán had told her she could find him at Mohawk Lake. First she wants to observe him unnoticed. Invisibility is sometimes just becoming something else.
It’s Saturday and the night before she had asked Zsofia to pick her up from a grove but not as her normal self. She sees Zsofia’s BMW i3 pull into the parking lot. As Zsofia gets out of her car and looks around, Rita leaves the grove where a pile of dirt sits beside the tree trunk of a black birch. Zsofia looks down and waves at her as she opens the front passenger door. Rita leaps inside. It took a long time to get used to a cat’s poor daytime vision. The reason she prefers to investigate at night.
As Zsofia drives towards Mohawk Lake she puts on the radio. There isn’t much sense in talking since it would be one sided. So Rita stands on her hind legs and stares out the window.
I’ll Melt With You by Modern English starts playing. It’s like listening with two separate pairs of ears. Her feline ears hear mumbo- jumbo but her human memory can still discern the words.
Once they reach the lake Zsofia lets Rita out. She carries Rita towards the shore where Marlo is gazing over the lake.
“I’ll read my book for half an hour than honk,” Zsofia tells her as she sets Rita down.
Rita looks side-to-side as she steps ever closer to Marlo. She sits on her haunches and stares up at him.
He crouches down and places the fingers of his right hand into the lake’s water. Without looking at her he says, “I will get you inside the factory.”
Rita Walker (Blog Fourteen): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
In 1974 Spanish pilot and marine officer Juan Pérez was the first European to discover the Haida Gwaii but bad weather stopped him from landing and claiming it for Spain. James Cook, Captain of the Royal navy was the first European known to visit the Haida Nation. Archaeology digs have determined the Haida have been living on the Haida Gwaii islands from 6000 to 8000 years ago.
As she drives home from the college the sky is dark and clear. A song she hasn’t heard in a long time comes on. Chalk Circle’s “This Mourning” gets her tapping her hands against the steering wheel. It reminds her why Kaneki needs to go back to Centre Earth.
The weeping willow string she planted is growing little nubs that she hopes will grow into tiny branches. It was wonderful that Kaylee asked her to teach a Haida language course three times a week along with her once a week Environmental Technology class. She knows she’ll be financially stable for the next three years. Her real focus though is on what she does at night. So with a cup of licorice tea she sits in front of her window in her kitchenette and concentrates on the tiny willow sapling. A quarter moon shines through her window awakening the elemental inside her. She could control its pull for her to change but tonight she wants to transform. Her eyes remain open but become unfocused.
She finds herself at Soper Park. Before her Oya is dressed ready for action.
“What do you want child?” Oya asks in an exasperated voice.
“To visit Rán.”
“This is a bad time for me child of Ailbe Rose. I must deal with Kaneki’s influence on mining for cobalt in the Congo. Think of Island and go!”
To Icelanders their home is known as Island. It’s where her grandfather wanted to return to.
When Rita was five her father took the family to Kiusta at the northern tip of Haida Gwaii. Taking her hand he led her to the shore where the ruins of a long boat rested near a group of ancient totem poles. “My father, your grandfather arrived on this boat. He was nearly dead when they brought him to a sweat lodge and your grandmother nursed him to health. He came from far far away. You and I have his eyes whereas your brother has pure Haida eyes like your mother. I would find him staring at this ruin as we worked on his new boat. I think he would have stayed if your grandmother had not died during the Tsimshian raid.”
Rita only remembers her father’s father vaguely. Tall and strong, with long brown hair and a red beard that flowed to his chest. His voice was loud sometimes but more often hushed as though his soul were broken. By the fire pit he would stare at her but with his chin turned slightly away. It made her feel as if he was watching her wearily. His Haida Gwaii words were clipped and often he added words she had never heard before. He always kept his distance from her. “There is something else in this child,” she would hear him say to both her mother and father at different times. He would shake his shaggy head afterwards and stare at her out of the corner of his eyes.
When she was four her father’s father had taken dry fish and fresh water onto his new boat with its many ribs. “Someday others like me will come,” he warned before he paddled north towards the Bering Sea. In the distance Rita remembered seeing him unfurl the strange red and white curving sail his mother had helped him sew. He was right others like him would arrive at Haida Gwaii but Rita wouldn’t learn about that until later.
Her vision becomes cloudy. As the cloud dissipates she can see Rán walking in modern clothes by a river. Rán stops and turns to her with a beaming smile. Rita realizes Kaneki has not made his presence known as much on Iceland—yet.
“What can I do for you Rita?” Rán asks in her boisterous voice.
“Do you have student named Marlo?”
“I do. When you change you can watch him by the lake near where you live. He is with you Rita that I can assure you.”
“Thank you, Rán,” Rita says as Rán fades away and she feels herself changing.
Rita Walker (Blog Twelve): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
The Haida like so many other indigenous people had their children removed to learn European ways. Midnight Oil made it clear that Australia’s treatment of indigenous people was a disgrace during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia by wearing black coveralls with the word Sorry. Nature has a way of diffusing the thought that any people are better than others when people of different races and backgrounds fall in love and have children. People have different hair colour, skin colour, eye colour, physiques and yet are all the same.
Rita places the potted weeping willow branch into the back of her car. With loving care she hopes it will grow. Either in the fall or in the spring she will plant it on the schools lawn.
Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning” is playing on the radio as Rita drives to the Six Nations’ Polytechnic College to organize her classroom. She taps her fingers on the steering wheel as she sings “The time has come, a fact’s a fact/ It belongs to them, let’s give it back” along with the band’s lead singer Peter Garrett. She read an article that at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney the band members performed with the word SORRY written across the chest of their black coveralls. It was a blatant rebuttal of the Prime Minister at the time, John Howard, for his refusal to apologize for the former policy of removing aboriginal children from their families. After reading the article Rita realized this destruction of aboriginal families happened all around the world, not just in Canada. The song reminds her of how hard it is for her to keep positive. But the world already knows about all the atrocities. Now it’s time for everyone to focus on working together. It’s time to show that those who were bullied are wiser and will not become the bullies.
She doesn’t think there are any songs that represent her, a half breed or multi-raced person. Then she recalls hearing Cher singing “Half Breed” written by Mary Dean and composed by Al Capps. She wonders, if like so many other songs and writings, did the lyricist really understand what it’s like to be a “half breed”? Do they know what it’s like to find out one half of your ancestry was warring or abusing the other half? She shakes her head to clear the negative thoughts away.
Sometimes life is strange. As she pulls into the college Depeche Mode’s “People are People” comes on. She pulls over and sings along with the band: “It’s obvious you hate me/Though I’ve done nothing wrong/I never even met you/So what could I have done”. Well, next week she’s about to meet four individuals who represent a hidden race of humans. And she needs to figure out how to get them to work together. One will be the hardest to change. And one probably won’t want to collaborate with the others.
Inside the classroom she feels small standing at the bottom of the sloping floor gazing up at the desks that will allow the students to look down on her. She set the potted willow on the ledge of the windows at the opposite side to the door. Next she takes out her papers. The first of the lessons will focus on the different soils found in different areas of Ontario and what’s being done to keep them healthy.
Rita Walker (Blog Eleven): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Willow trees live all around the world. Oxygen producers, pain relief from the bark, and used to make flutes to fish traps.
Rita parks in the small gravel driveway across from the raised flower beds the city re-plants every year. She heads towards the section of Mill Creek that flows through the park where the giant Weeping Willows grow. When she was younger she fell asleep thinking about Rae. But Rae did not answer, instead another ancient one appeared from Africa.
Her mother was telling her the Haida Creation Story. “Raven was walking on the shore when he heard many noises coming from inside a clamshell…,” her mother was saying when Rita fell asleep thinking of Rae.
Her soul watched as she floated out of her body. She saw her face, eyes closed, and mouth slightly open. She saw her mother’s dark brown hair flowing over her shoulders in strands to cover the top of her deerskin shirt. Her mother gently stroked her forehead and said, “Sleep.” Her soul’s eyes turned upwards towards the ceiling of the tent and floated upwards by moving her arms and legs in a swimming motion. As she swam between the Sitka spruce and Yellow cedar trees a tug to her chest pulled her down to the draping branches of a dwarf weeping willow. She touched one of the thin leaves and found herself somewhere else.
She was hovering before a giant weeping willow with a creek flowing nearby. As she stared, frozen in place at the willow’s gnarly trunk, a woman appeared. So powerful and strong was the women’s presence Rita didn’t know if to flee or stare in awe. “Child,” said the woman with raven coloured hair. The woman’s voice had a lilt and a mixture of tenderness and strength that demanded attention as she pointed her finger at Rita. “Why have you called me?”
“I was calling Rae,” Rita admitted still torn between wanting to flee and getting to know this woman better.
“Rae is healing her soul and I am with her through Raven.”
“You are connected to Raven?” Rita asks. “I thought only the Haida knew of Raven.
“I am of the wind child–and the willow which in its many forms all around the World, both hears the wind and tells it stories–communicates with me. When you thought of Rae she must have sent you to me instead. I am Oya, the Yoruban Goddess of weather, and known to others like you as the Elemental Ancient One of Wind. What do you seek from Rae?”
“She lives in the Haida Gwaii and is directly connected to my people. So I seek wisdom from her.”
“Ah, I see. You are not just Haida but also Irish, German, and connected directly to the Earth. The World is round my child and that makes all things connected. But we seek what is familiar and you are closer to Ailbe Rose than Rae. So that may be why she will not answer you.”
“Why would someone want me to contact you Oya?” Rita asked with a slight bow.
“Some day you will meet the one who is connected to me. Let her know that you and I have met. The cat may eat the sparrow and the hawk may eat the rabbit but when there is a greater danger all creatures heed the warning of Raven’s call. What argues and fights now will need to collaborate in the near future. Unnatural things are beginning to be created out of what lies deep beneath the ground.”
Rita walks up to the willow she saw in her dream. With great diligence and respect she snips a section of overhanging branch off.
Rita Walker (Blog Ten): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
In the August 9, 2019 Waterloo Region Record there was an article called: Rebuilding a road for tomorrow by Catherine Thompson. By using perforated storm sewer pipes and Silva cells on Ahrens Street West the city of Kitchener was hoping to stop run off of salt and other debris from entering nearby creeks. Currently Highway 24 or Water Street South by Churchill Park does not have a road designed to protect wildlife. But perhaps in the near future these roads will be everywhere.
In the morning Rita showers off the sweat from her struggle not to change from the night before. As the water pours over her she glances at her hands and up her left arm where the tattoos line up as a totem pole would. Stepping out of the shower stall she stares at the mirror. Through the mist created by the shower’s hot water she can see the shadowed images of the other tattoos on her body; each a symbol of survival or rite of passage. Her eyes drift back to the feather symbol on her left arm. Birds are part of the Air Elemental and today she must travel to Cambridge to meet with the Ancient One who represents the human aspect of Air.
Driving along Highway 24 in Cambridge she notices sections of the road are humped as she drives next to the Grand River and past Churchill Park. This is a main area for turtles to cross. The humps or mini-bridges are long so the drive is safe for cars and transport trucks. Many years ago an innovative idea was put to the test in the city of Kitchener. Perforated storm sewer pipes were installed under roads to lessen run off during heavy rain and to create more dispersion. The dispersed water is captured and treated by what was then pioneering technology called Silva cells. Lightly compacted soil within the cells allowed trees to grow. The roots of the trees help absorb and dissipate salt and other run off by-product before it reaches water sources such as creeks and rivers. Now most road repairs are built with the environment in mind.
She glances at the feather tattoo on her left arm in the side view mirror of her leased Volkswagen e-Golf. It reminds her of the time she saw Rae in a dream. In the dream a female dressed in a red cedar bark dress stood on a tiny Island. Rita watched as the woman raised her left arm. She noticed a band around the woman’s forearm made of yellow cedar as a raven flew onto the woman’s outstretched arm. Rita could only see the side profile of the woman and little of her face. But the raven turned and stared directly at her. That’s when the dream ended and she knew that she had caught a glimpse of Rae and the spirit Raven.
In the morning she had asked her mother about raven but left out Rae.
“You have strange dreams child,” her mother told her as she wove together new deerskin moccasins for Rita’s father. “Raven may be many things, but is a protector for us above all else. Ravens will steal food from you, have no doubt, and you should shoo them away if they try, but never hurt them. They are our protection against supernatural beings.”
As Rita drives down Shades Street towards Soper Park she wonders if the raven she saw as a child was protecting Rae from Kaneki. But mostly she wonders why so long ago Rae allowed a glimpse of herself but so far would not communicate with Rita directly.’