Friday, February 02, 2007


After working at the Community Kitchen yesterday morning, I accepted an invitation to go golfing on the Carlsbad Lake Course in the afternoon. It's a desert course, and although the temperature was close to 50 F., we'd been promised a brisk wind. At about the second hole, the wind indeed went from about 5 MPH to 50 MPH and the flags pointed northeasterly as if they were boards. Curiously, several fairways - including the first - have new homes alongside, located in such a way that anything off to the right can easily end up in a living room. Friend LaVerne hit his first one that way. "That sounded like breaking glass," I said as we'd watched it arc and slice to the right, coming down among the houses. "Do you think it was glass?" he asked and I admitted that it could have been metal. Later, I landed one between two houses on the fourth hole. Houses and hazards suck. No. I mean literally. If there is a lake off to the side, I'll hit the ball into it no matter how much room there is beside it.

One green was humpbacked with the cup placed right on the hump. LaVerne was on the fringe upwind from the cup. He missed by inches, but the wind caught his ball and carried it right across the green to the opposite fringe. He hit it back upwind, but missed the cup again and it had enough momentum and, with gravity helping it along, it ended up about where he'd started. He tried it again, missed the cup by just a bit and again, the wind carried it right across the green. Ernie and I sensed a pattern developing, and it was about then we decided not to play the back nine.

I'm reading an "Interpretive History of New Mexico" right now, and finding it fascinating. So far, I've learned that the Pueblo (village) Indians of the Santa Fe and Taos areas had a well developed culture in the 1500s. They lived in adobe apartment buildings piled one on top of the other, with as many as 50 apartments. They irrigated and grew corn and beans in the desert and dried and stored it on the roofs of their dwellings. Their religion was similar to that of other Indian tribes with which we're more familiar in Canada, i.e., their focus was on gaining harmony with the environment around them. They did masked dances in order to induce rainfall, a practice the Spanish colonizers found so reprehensible and "pagan" that they raided the sanctuaries where they were kept and burned all their paraphernalia of worship. I've also learned that the Spanish king effected laws that were designed to prevent the slaughter, enslavement and general mistreatment of natives by colonizers, but that the individual viceroys assigned to New Mexico found ways to bypass these laws and as a result, Pueblo Indians were subjected to horrifying abuse, not the least of these being forced labour without reimbursement by the Spanish conquerors, who by and large were part of a class that simply did not do menial work and found it quite appropriate to require the people they were "evangelizing" to do the irrigation, planting and harvesting work for them as well as for themselves.

The missionary arm of Spanish colonization of New Mexico was very strong, so much so that it competed for power with the political administration. Early in the 1600s, the friars and the governor's militia actually carried on a bloody war; none of this benefited the aboriginal population, of course, many of whom were victims of these antics.

I'm looking forward to this well-written account of the history of the area in which we are now beginning to feel quite at home. English predominates here, but it's obvious that a large proportion of the population has Spanish and/or aboriginal genes. Commerce in Carlsbad is effectively bilingual, even though the concept of multilingualism is not recognized in this country.

Several conversations I've had with Americans have been enlightening on the health care front. There's a tremendous lobby against universal health care here, despite the fact that many want some sort of plan to be implemented. According to the critics of the Canadian system, in Canada:
1) People are not allowed to choose their doctor; the state determines this,
2) Doctors are salaried,
3) You can't get even emergency health service because the system is so backed up by flagrant overuse,
4) The Canadian health care system is on the road to collapse because it simply doesn't work.

I do what I can to correct these misconceptions, but I feel I need to warn readers back home that we ought not be blase about the drive to allow for corporate health care. It's a real and present danger in Canada and it's high time Canadians assessed what values are driving the pressure to compromise the Canada Health Act.

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