I have been working on Despotism. Peter I (the Great & 6 ft 8 [203 cm]) wanted access to seas. He defeated the Swedish Empire and founded the Russian Empire in 1721.
In August 2017, my brother Jean-Pierre, nephew François and his wife, Josée, helped me move from a large apartment to a smaller one. I had too many books. After transporting something to my locker, my brother said: “I won’t sleep for three nights.”
What had I heard? I told François that his father could not help me anymore. He needed to be treated.
In the meantime, my brother’s urine grew into a mixture of urine, blood and an unidentified white substance. He saw a doctor who prescribed antibiotics. Antibiotics! We are now in the spring of 2018 (not August 2017). My brother saw a second doctor who diagnosed cancer.
I pity men who are treated for a cancer of the bladder. Jean-Pierre’s urethra was so damaged that he nearly went into shock and died, when a tube was inserted through the urethra, to fill his bladder with a chemical and then remove the chemical. The pain was excruciating, and they said they could not give him an anaesthetic or freeze the affected area. I nearly jumped out of my skin. More of these treatments had been scheduled.
Between treatments, my brother was not prescribed a painkiller. I tried to help by offering a few tablets of codeine that had been prescribed for stubborn migraines several years ago. I doubted these tablets could still relieve pain. Besides, medication should be prescribed by one’s own doctor. My brother did not take the codeine.
A few years ago, Mr MacEachen invited me to share a lunch with him in Ottawa. We were joined by Pearl, Mr MacEachen’s finest secretary, and Craig, who helped Mr MacEachen. Allan J. asked me about medicine in Quebec. I told him that I had not been able to find a doctor, so a secretary at the Medical School had referred me to an intern and that I now had a good doctor. He worked in a public clinic supervising interns.
In other words, I told Mr MacEachen that, in Quebec, one could not find a doctor. He answered that the system would break down. He was right. Allan J. MacEachean built Canada’s first social programmes, under Lester B. Pearson, and had studied economics in an ivy league university.
I have since learned that those who despair seek the services of a private doctor, which is extremely expensive. These doctors have rich patients and treat celebrities.
Painting attributed to Bichitr (active ca. 1610–60)
the priest-ridden province
the syndicate-ridden province
It appears that, in Quebec, doctors are protected by powerful syndicates. Before the Révolution tranquille, Quebec was considered a ‘priest-ridden’ province. Many priests had been sent to the Seminary in Quebec City because England did not know what to do with the French priests who had emigrated to Britain during the French Revolution. They then remembered that they had a French, and Catholic, colony. A second wave of priests and religious orders emigrated to Quebec in 1905, when the French passed the Law on the Separation of the Churches and the State: la loi du 9 décembre 1905.
Quebec may have been a priest-ridden province but it would appear it is now run by syndicates. (See Révolution tranquille, Wiki2.org.) A cousin of mine could not believe that my pension did not allow me to spend part of the winter, if not all, in Florida. “You didn’t have a very good syndicate,” she said. Truth be told, we did not have a syndicate.
I just read my email. A friend who lives close to Sherbrooke and suffers from Ménière’s disease (vertigo and deafness) wrote to say that he had been on a waiting-list to see his specialist for two years. He asked that his appointment be moved up but he was told to wait. My hearing is normal, so it’s easy for me to make phone calls. I called.
If a province chases away good taxpayers, a welfare state is a white elephant, particularly when doctors, university teachers, lawyers, and everyone else, are syndicated. I dare not say more.
We lowly creatures…
Love to everyone 💕
Camille Saint-Saëns “The Elephant” from the Carnival of Animals,
played by Zoltán Bíró
Budapest, 29 November 2008
My dear friend and former neighbour for 22 years, the Honourable Allan J. MacEachen, died on 12 September 2017, the year Canada celebrated its 150th birthday and the year he turned 96. Mr MacEachen passed away at St Martha’s Hospital in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. He had studied at St Francis Xavier University and returned to StFX to teach Economics. He owned a house across the street from the campus, a few steps from my house. In fact, Allan J.’s backyard ran into mine. I didn’t fully own my backyard. We therefore shared the backyard and a barn.
In other words, this post isn’t about Allan J. MacEachen, a foremost Canadian politician and also a statesman. It is about the extraordinary gentleman who lived next door to me and about a very dear friend. Let us begin with the barn.
That barn was quite the building. It could have been used as a garage, but it served as storage space. That is where we kept our gardening tools, a lawn mower, ladders, scaffolding, not to mention picks and shovels and tires. Paul mowed the lawn. To be precise, Paul mowed three adjoining lawns: Mr MacEachen’s, Dr Cecil MacLean’s and mine. Dr Cecil MacLean, a graduate of the Sorbonne, was Chair of the Department of Modern Languages. Initially, he was the Carnegie Chair of French.
The barn was somewhat special. For one thing, it had a hidden room. How else could it be so long a building on the outside, but not very deep inside? I was perplexed and I decided to investigate matters. I found a small door, hidden behind an apple tree and vegetation I had to cut my way through. The door had been left unlocked, so, I climbed in and explored. After it was found, I had a lock installed on the door. It was no longer hidden. The next time he came from Ottawa, Mr MacEachen was introduced to his collection of antiques. He was very interested and had some of these antiques refurbished.
I enjoyed looking after our backyard. In the summer, I filled a white urn with red flowers and put a tall green plant in the middle. I sat the urn close to his back door, which is where he parked the car. Finding the right place for this urn was not easy. I walked back and forth until I found what I believe was the best location. I also loved delineating the driveways, his and mine. I had gardeners put little white stones, crushed marble I believe, on one side of the two adjoining driveways. On the other side, we had a very long hedge which I trimmed so it wouldn’t scratch Mr MacEachen’s car.
The Drive from the Airport: poor Mr MacEachen
Before flying down from Ottawa to Antigonish, Mr MacEachen would phone me, or Pearl did. Pearl Hunter was Mr MacEachen’s secretary and, to a large extent, a colleague.
She died on 22 July 2017, which must have saddened Mr MacEachen enormously. We had a marvellous lunch together a few summers ago. There were four of us: Allan J., Pearl, Craig Smith, who was Mr MacEachen’s devoted and constant companion after Mr MacEachen suffered a stroke in 2004, and there was little me. How thoughtful of Mr MacEachen to invite Pearl!
Sometimes, when I knew he was coming to Antigonish, I called in our cleaning ladies: Adèle and her sister. Both lived in Pomquet, a nearby Acadian community. As well, on one occasion, I drove Mr MacEachen’s car to the airport to pick him up. I arrived at the airport safely and on time. However, on our way back to Antigonish, we stopped to eat a doughnut at a Tim Horton‘s and, as we left, Mr MacEachen said that he would drive the rest of the way. Based on this one event, one can tell Mr MacEachen was a born diplomat. He was much too polite to tell me I was a poor driver and I didn’t ask why he wanted to drive.
The Frozen Pipes
One day, when Mr MacEachen arrived home, his heating system had failed and the radiators had burst. I was in Sherbrooke, Quebec, visiting with my family. As for Mr MacEachen’s tenant, Joe, he was also absent. Poor Allan J. could not sleep in his house. He went to see Cecil who considered sending him to my house. But what about the stuffed rabbit lying on my bed: a Steiff rabbit. Mr MacEachen went elsewhere. When his tenant left, I started visiting the house every day. Yet, there was another incident, which is my main story. It is about the intrusion of a raccoon.
That event is an event to recall. The fellow–I called him Stokely in memory of another raccoon, found his way down the chimney to the bottom of the fireplace. The fireplace was in a beautiful room which the raccoon damaged extensively. The door to that room was closed, so I did not open it during my daily visit. As a result, Allan J. was the first to see the damage. In fact, the raccoon was still in the chimney. We blocked it from the room, but Stokely lived there. I said to Mr MacEachen that I would look after everything with the help of good friends.
Claude said that we would have to smoke Stokely out. Smoke him out? Wouldn’t that hurt him? No, he said. We used Cuban cigars, perhaps a gift from Fidel Castro himself. I protested. Imagine, history going up in flames so a raccoon would leave his comfortable nest in a chimney! But Claude insisted. We only needed a few cigars. Claude had made a grid that would block the chimney. I believe Richard was with us, waiting to see the raccoon emerge and leave. When Stokely came out, he looked in every direction and ran to safety. Richard told Claude to drop the grid.
I had to throw several cushions away and called in professional cleaners. I also had to replace one of the curtains. It had to be custom-made and Mr MacEachen always ran the risk of paying what I called the senatorial fee–by then Mr MacEachen was a senator. The curtain was sown shabbily and I have always regretted not making it myself.
There were other backyard adventures. For instance, the alarm system Mr MacEachen had installed was sensitive and would go off if a curtain moved. The Company would then phone me and I’d run to the house and inspect, sometimes fighting my way through heavy snow. But all was always well.
A Kind Gentleman
Mr MacEachen was very considerate. After Dr Cecil MacLean died–Cecil and I were always together, he told me he would protect me. I did not learn until much later that I needed protection. He knew that I lived alone and went to bed early so that fatigue would not prevent me from teaching the next day. At Christmas, he asked if I had a place to go and brought me a gift. He also made sure I was not left alone on my birthday.
One July, the week of our birthdays, I drove to Lake Ainslie, Cape Breton, where Mr MacEachen had a house. He had invited members of the Robichaud family and a relative of his, a priest. It turned out the Robichaud family knew one of my father’s best friends. As for the priest, he had been in Rome when my mother’s cousin taught theology at what was then called the Angelicum.
Mr MacEachen also toured my house. I had told him that my bedroom was the smallest room in the house. Why was I depriving myself of larger quarters? I led him from room to room. As he looked, he seemed reassured. The house was small but it was a jewel, the smallest room in particular. I had a beautiful blue house, covered with cedar shingles. Many of you know that this is the house I sold during the Summer of 2002. I had fallen ill because my workload had become too heavy.
Mr MacEachen tried to prevent me from selling the house, but I thought it was too late to cancel. Two years later, my disability benefits were terminated. So, once again, Mr MacEachen tried to help me resume my career, but the Vice-President did not listen to him. I wanted to return to my office and it was available. However, I was being sent elsewhere. No, I had never been remiss in my duties despite chronic fatigue syndrome.
They didn’t know me, but Mr MacEachen did.
I knew a more private Mr MacEachen, but I agree with Justin Trudeau. Mr MacEachen (6 July 1921 – 12 September 2017), “made this country.”
The man who said to me: “I will protect you,” protected all of us Canadians. He knew about the social contract and lived it. Citizens pay their taxes and their government makes sure they are safe. Mr MacEachen made sure Canadians were safe.
The Government of Nova Scotia celebrated Mr MacEachen’s life on Sunday 17 September 2017, at the Keating Centre, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish. His funeral took place at Stella Maris Catholic Church in Inverness, Cape Breton and he was buried in the parish cemetery.
May you rest in peace, Mr MacEachen. You have built a country and will always be remembered.
I have moved to my new apartment, but it was a difficult and lengthy move, longer than I anticipated. My challenge was downsizing. The apartment I have bought is spacious, ±1056 sq ft (±98.1 sq meters), but it has fewer rooms than my former apartment. I had to give furniture, books and clothes, but I still have everything I need.
Given my age, this building is a safer environment than the building I left. It has elevators and it is situated within walking distance of a small market place and a café.
The time has come to return to my weblog. I have missed you. I still have boxes containing books to unpack. Some of these books will be given, but I am having bookcases built to house the ones I am keeping.
Yesterday, I published a post in which I noted that France had rebuilt promptly after one of the worst revolutions in recorded history: the French Revolution. Although history can hurt humans, humans can often work their way out of catastrophic circumstances. One cannot bring the dead back to life, but we can recover from the economic hardship caused by wars.
The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David, 1793
In 1800, Jacques-Louis David (30 August 1748 – 29 December 1825) produced his nearly iconic portrait of Madame Récamier. David was a neoclassicist, a movement that preceded the French Revolution, and painted his portrait of Madame Récamier a year after Napoléon (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) engineered a coup d’état that made him First Consul.
Yet, in 1793, David had made a portrait of Jean-Paul Marat (24 May 1743 – 13 July 1793) lying in his bathtub, stabbed to death by Charlotte Corday or Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont (27 July 1768 – 17 July 1793 [death by guillotine]). His tub was the only place Marat, a medical doctor, could find relief from the discomfort of a debilitating skin disease, probably dermatitis herpetiformis.
Jacques-Louis David’s two portraits therefore attest to a form a resilience on the part of the French. France had not been bombed nor set ablaze, but it had to start anew and it did.
From France to the United States of America
Similarly, like the phoenix, the United States can rise from its own ashes. Two wars have left it panting… but no plan such as the Marshall Plan, the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, or TARP is being approved. I must therefore conclude thatman-made impediments are getting in the way of recovery.
TheMarshall Plan and the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956
The Marshall Plan was also an instance of resilience. In the space of four years, beginning in 1948, the United States succeeded in rebuilding Europe and Japan. The Marshall Plan went into operation three years after W. W. II, and that calamity befell Europe when the United States had only just begun to recover from the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression.
In the 16 July 2012 issue of CNN Money, I read first that “[s]everal economists are now cutting their forecasts for second quarter growth closer to 1%,” which is called the Zombie economy. But as I scrolled down, I read that, according to Dean Croushore, chair of the economics department at the University of Richmond, “[h]iring isn’t falling off a cliff.” In fact, Professor Croushore says, “[i]t’s really been growing fairly slowly but steadily throughout.”
Times of draught: “People aren’t spending…”
Scrolling down a little more, I read that according to Croushore “[t]he fundamental problem is we had this financial crisis and a lot of people still haven’t recovered from that.” Crouchore also says that “[p]eople aren’t spending nearly as much as they used to and they’re not likely to spend a lot more until they’re out of financial trouble.”
That’s how we react. If one loses money and jobs are disappearing, one does not spend, yet spending is how we keep an economy functional. So the loss of jobs is a central issue, if not the central issue, not to mention that the government is cutting back benefits for the unemployed. The United States can and should provide the citizens of America with a comprehensive safety net.
As the above pictures indicate, France, a chaos in 1794, had been put together again by the early years of the nineteenth-century. So let me repeat that one can rise again.
Greed & Prejudice
Greed and prejudice. As painful as it is, I must suggest that unnecessary obstacles are being put in the way of the Obama administration, obstacles that are not new but are more obvious. These would be:
greed, an old problem;
an under-developed sense of nationhood or, otherwise said, a form of individualism that overrides concern for collective needs;
For an economy to be functional, it would be my opinion that
people need to pay their fair share of taxes;
that people must have jobs and, if they do not have jobs, that jobs should be created. In this regard, President Obama has proposed a stimulus package that has been opposed. Why?
And it would also be my opinion that
a limit on the number of jobs than can be exported should be legislated.
that a better safety net should be put into place, a safety net that would provide adequate benefits for the unemployed; and
that rules are required.
There is money…
Yet, there is money, but among the rich and infuential, too many persons are paying to make sure that those who are elected into office next November will provide the rich with tax cuts. Moreover, while jobs are disappearing, CEOs, president of banks and insurance companies, the wizards of Wall Street and others continue to give themselves gargantuan bonuses.
Remember that, in the fall of 2008, when the US economy was facing a crash, TARP was signed into law by George W. Bush on 3 October 2008. The impending crash required immediate remedial action and got immediate and bi-partisan remedial action. Yet, as the economy was crashing, the above-mentioned wizards of Wall Street, etc. collected their bonuses, thereby making a display of their greed and acting irresponsibly. There were exceptions, but…
In the fall of 2008, we had, on the one hand, the very rich who live in mansions, often own several luxury cars, a yacht or two or more, one for each coasts, and also own a plane, an apartment in Paris, one in London and one or two luxury condominiums in Canada, just in case…
But, on the other hand, we had families who could no longer put bread on the table and individuals who stood to lose their life savings! Had compassion and justice gone out of fashion? Good citizens attend to the collective needs of their nation. The wealthy seem to think that because they are doing well, so is everyone else. That is individualism run amuck and fuelled by greed.
Prejudice & Greed
Yes, greed and also prejudicial actions, such as voter expulsion. I listened to Governor Rick Scott of Florida explain that a voter purge was good. He was so unconvincing that he actually confirmed me in my suspicion that many, not all, Republicans are afraid persons of colour will vote for President Obama. They are afraid to the point of eliminating them as voters. So I have to repeat, after President Lyndon Baines Johnson in a speech on the 1965 Voting Rights Act, that[i]
[i]t is wrong – deadly wrong – to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.
One’s ethnicity is like one’s rank in society. It is a mere accident of birth. We are all the same. Yet, it could be that ethnicity is related to the obstacles President Obama has faced from the day he was elected, the worst of which has been a tightening of the national purse when jobs need to be created and much fewer exported.
Given that a man of colour was voted into the office of President of the United States, it could bepeople are washing their hands and arguing that the nation has proven that it does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity. But as you know, President Obama has experienced such difficulties in his efforts to attend to the needs of his people as to make the results of the 2008 Presidential Elections look like a token gesture. Why was the stimulus package he proposed not adopted?
As for yours truly, she remembers, that within six years of the French Revolution, Madame Récamier, Jeanne-Françoise Julie Adélaïde Bernard Récamier (4 December 1777 – 11 May 1849), posed wearing a high-waisted empire styles dress (see Empire silhouette high-waisted empire style dress (see Empire silhouette) leaning on her récamier, the name now given the piece of furniture she is sitting on. In my opinion, the lessons of history are a source of wisdom…
A wrong cannot correct a wrong, so not in a million years would I advocate punitive taxes, but people who have an income must pay their fair share of taxes and the amount of money levied from wealthy people should be higher than the amount of money paid by persons whose income is much lower.
But the concern of the day is that if the Marshall Plan was put into operation, the interstate highway Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 approved, and TARPvoted into law by President George W. Bush, why are jobs not created? Why is the US not helping itself and not allowing its President to help his nation? In light of previously daring remedial actions and given the voter purge, I sense that recovery may be very slow and that President Obama may be blamed for not doing what Congress has prevented him from doing due to…