Monday, November 6, 2017

What is Free Time? 

FREE TIME    Beverley Joselin

We who are over sixty find the free time was not a positive part of ones life.
So many influences guided your days.

-religion gave one hard rules to live by

-parental power set the other rules

-then school dictated your use of time to secure your future

So, when reaching adulthood, habits were set...get to work on time, work hard and fill your time with personal and community advances and advantages.

Now, those habits are hard to break....keep an orderly household, see to family needs, retain friendships and turn up when and where expected..

However, with the realization that some of the above needs seem to be set in stone, we CAN exercise our free will and therefore , free time....but it takes practice.

I find that late at night the imagination can lead you to relax and enjoy all sorts of activities that don't involve a meal to be cooked,a floor to be vacuumed, a phone call to be made or an appointment to be kept.For me, the other place to hide is in music. Just listen, hear and feel the rhythm and physical vibrations. Move to it, or rest in it, use it like a hot shower and enjoy unguided or required results. THAT is real free time !!!

by Virginia Ashberry

 I stand in a vast meadow, trees so far away they look like only a short ragged hedge in the distance. The ground before me is covered with wild grass that is improbably soft and so unnaturally short that this vista looks like manicured green. Nothing in my immediate view prompts me to move or draws me forward.
Hands on hips, legs spread comfortably; I scan this view for a reason to step, to reach out, to seek and pluck an errant weed, or chase away an unwanted vermin. Maybe to harvest an armload of flowers for an empty vase that I believe sits on a perfect tablecloth in an obsessively tidy cottage that rests empty just behind me now. Not one of these distractions presents itself to me.
 I stand, indecisive, still.
Nothing lures me back into an echoing
structure behind that does not need me. Nothing pulls me forward onto the unreal blanket of an even, predictable, useless green enclosure.
Scanning again the distant faraway tree line looms dark and uneven. Irregular spikes speak of danger and promise in equal measure.
Breathing slowly, then deeply, conscious of the rising and falling of my shoulders I speak one word out loud.
In a rolling gait, I begin a slow but deliberate journey forward, to trees far past the security of my green isolation.

               A Long-time Companion, Radio
By Gloria Geller

Sunday morning, a slow time, in the week, maybe prepare a special breakfast such as an omelet or pancakes with fruit and maple syrup, read the Saturday newspaper and for more years than I can remember, listen to Sunday Morning/Sunday Edition on CBC radio hosted by Michael Enright.  Shortly after 9:00 a.m., after the hourly news I’m eager to hear what Michael will riff on at the top of the program followed by the major interviews or panel discussions that will take up the first hour of the show.  Often the second or third hour will present a special broadcast often on interesting topics; a recent one was about a Montreal man who was suing the Government of Quebec, Education Department because the Hasidic school he attended as a youngster, did not properly prepare him to live and earn a living in Canadian society, eliminating such things as language instruction, mathematics, science, in effect the required curriculum in the province of Quebec.  In between we are presented with music selected by someone with superb taste, often jazz.  Michael reads letters/emails from people commenting on the previous week’s program. 

The format is reminiscent of another one-time excellent daily morning show in the 9-noon time slot, early on, This Country in the Morning, later, Morningside, whose hosts have included Michael Enright, Judi LaMarsh, Hana Garnter, Don Harron and of course the initimable Peter Gzowski, a program which has been replaced by the likes of Jian Gomeshi and others whose backgrounds do not lend themselves to the quality of Gzowski and Enright.  A few years ago a friend informed me that Gomeshi is who people of today wanted to hear and I was clearly dated.  I have tried to listen to this and subsequent versions of the program but am invariably forced to change stations.

Radio has been a constant companion in my life and I continue to enjoy listening although CBC Radio once recognized for its excellent programming has steadily declined.  The on-air hosts for early morning shows are mediocre as are the replacements on such shows as As It Happens whose current host Carol Off is an excellent interviewer.  My objection is that many of these hosts are poor interviewers, not really understanding how to get the person to talk without asking inane questions, such as how they feel often about some horrendous situation they have just gone through.  I wish they would respond by saying to one of these interviewers, how do you think you’d feel if your child was murdered!  Some are very aggressive in their questioning, again, I believe, because they don’t know how to conduct the interview.  I often found myself raging when listening to Sheila Coles on CBC in Regina and I find it difficult to listen to the local morning show on CBC as well. 

As It Happens is another program I’ve listened to over much of its lifetime and while Carol Off is very good, the program isn’t drawing on as broad a range of people to interview as it did under yet another great CBC voice, Barbara Frum who interviewed significant individuals from all over the world.  Of course, the CBC has experienced severe cuts over many years now and likely simply can’t compete with its earlier programs.  Another weekly program I enjoy is Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap playing a wide range of music of the mid-late 20th century on Saturday or Sunday evening.  Eleanor Wachtel’s in-depth interviews with authors introduces me to writers I may never before heard about.

My earliest memories of listening to the radio include the children’s program I would run home to listen to as a latch-key kid of 9, “Maggie Muggins and Mr. McGarrity” describing the adventures of a young girl.  From those days and maybe earlier I recall my father’s Sunday morning listening, a program that originated in Hamilton on CHML, the Yiddish Hour, with music events and stories of interest to its audience.  I still recall some of the great favourites of the 40s and early 50s as we sat around the radio, a major piece of living room furniture, in the evenings.  What stands out still is the distinctive and distinguished voice asking “Who knows what evil lies in the hearts of men?” followed by the answer, “The Shadow knows!” with the eerie sound of a squeaking door accompanying this introduction giving me the shivers.  Radio drama was a special, if short-lived phenomenon.  Actors would perform their lines while technicians would use props to make the accompanying sounds.  In some ways there is a renewal of storytelling on the radio and elsewhere with the introduction of podcasts.

Among our weekly listening were comedy programs such as the Jack Benny Hour in which skits were enacted as you listened perhaps with greater care because there would be no visual clues.  I also remember daytime programs such as “the Happy Gang”, a daily Canadian program whose tune was memorable.  Soap operas were daily fare as were the jingles advertising soap and of course, cigarettes “Call for Philip Morris!”

As I entered my teens, the music stations I listened to played the latest top 40 songs, in particular CHUM was popular with my set at the time.  When TV came along it tended to borrow from radio including variety shows, Top 40 and ultimately dance shows.  Many radio performers moved over to TV as did Jack Benny and in Canada, Wayne and Shuster. 

I’m not sure when I discovered CBC Radio but once I started living in my own apartment and didn’t have a TV, the radio and CBC became my primary companion, left on much of the time when I was home, early morning and late at night.  Even once I decided there might be something worth watching on Television, especially living in the Prairies and it’s long, cold and dark winters, I pretty well never put on the set until prime time or to watch the news. 

An advantage with radio is that it can be heard while one moves around the room; you can cook, dust, etc. without having to settle into one place to watch.  Still today, one doesn’t have to carry anything in your hands or pocket, just turn on the Tivoli or Bose and listen.  It’s substantially safer to listen to radio in the car, something I generally do while driving.  How many times have I reached my destination only finding myself remaining in the car in order to hear the end of a discussion or story.

Today the radios in my house are set to CBC Radio 1 and 2 and to a Jazz station.  There’s definitely more competition now than ever before when radio was the most significant medium in the household.  In my books, however, radio remains an important, trusty and loyal companion.

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