Getting Your Howdy On: SIV Week Is Here

It’s my mother’s birthday. Were she still shuffling, flat-footed and bunion-aching, along this mortal coil of frayed and ravelled rope, she would be turning 95 today. She would be steamed. I’m so angry I could spit! she used to mutter when one of us, not always me, would race heedlessly past the wide but certainly finite fields of her patience. She loved life, doted on her family and especially those teeming crowds of grandchildren gathered around every Howden turkey. She’s a woman who suffered, and yet got pretty much what she had hoped for in life. In her last months, though, she’d had enough, and was quite-content-thank-you to be DONE with sleeping and waking and eating and all these things. One day in a hospital bed, she awoke, looked around with confusion and (at least the way I read it) growing dismay, and said, “Am I still here?”

Today is Enid Day. She died in 2006. (I remembered her, in one of my favourite and least-saleable pieces in JHdotCOM history, here: . Sorry, still unable to hyperlink.) Her birth-day is when we most remember her. I got a note from Big Sister that looked forward to her third Enid Day in Nunavut, where she her last few years of “retirement” teaching some of the damaged and despairing children and youth of Cape Dorset. She was enticed there by my ex-wife, with whom she lives. (That’s a pretty good story, I figure, though not mine to tell, not yet.) So, happy Enid Day to them, to all my relations, and to you and me.

In memory of her, I have declared this SIV Week. I’m not sure who was more stubborn, Enid or my Dad, though I’d say both changed astral planes more easily than they often changed their minds. The stubbornness I rue with such arm-waving in my fourth son informs me — eventually, ruefully, guiltily — of just how cement-headed I so often and so chronically am. Solution? StubbornnessIsVirtue Week. SIV. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em; if you can’t alter it, exalt it! Winston Churchill was stubborn. So were Gandhi, King, Teresa. So am I, if only I could beat that adamantine forehead of mine against more meaningful walls.

Therefore, this having been declared SIV Week, I’m taking several half-finished things that I’ve written over the past while — and, for various reasons, chief among them cowardice, fatigue and cerebral untidiness, haven’t had the poop to complete — and I’m GETTING THEM BLOODY WELL DONE. (I also remain, certainly, cursed by Enid’s endlessly repeated counsel that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, which has led to more procrastination and dismayed unfinish-ing than either of us can abide.) So, first you’ll see, in the It’s All About Sports section, my final Final 4 basketball thoughts, though that American college hoops lollapalooza finished three weeks ago. Other gottawritems are even older, but won’t look so obviously out-of-date because they’re less particular.

So: I’m finishing stuff. I’m clearing the decks. Spring cleaning of the neocortical kind. Purging. Loosening my load, in hopes that new and fresh things might follow, but mainly out of brute determination to do-stuff-my-way-even-if-it-makes-no-sense-to-readers-’cause-Mum-never-gave-up-and-mulishness-should-sometimes-bear-fruit-even-if-it-looks-like-a-dungpile. It’s MY dungpile. I made it all by myself! Happy Enid Day, and Happy StubbornnessIsVirtue Week!!

The rest, below, is in explanation of what this site has done and does when it’s not SIVW.

It’s time for a quick update, reminders, and some sense of where you are, electronically speaking: this is JamesHowden[dot]com, filled with my fairly undisciplined observations about whatever turns my finger-tapping crank at a given moment. Or, sometimes, days after that moment. So, what’s been up recently?

I haven’t been a very productive pen monkey. (Chuck Wendig grimaces in violent dismay and arse-kicking encouragement.) (And then he wondered, in a rudely personal and wildly public way: I am not going to quit writing, Chuckles, so there! Fallow periods restore vitality to the soul soil.) (And okay, maybe that CW blog post was not addressed only to me.)

But, man oh man. The LIST.

My “Better Read Than Never” series of asynchronous reviews is backed up all the way to John Feinstein’s The Last Amateurs, Bill McKibbens’s Enough, Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath and Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. I’m way too late on a brilliant human rights lecture by Payam Akhavan, and reflections on not living in China anymore, not to mention Ferguson or Jian Ghomeshi. I may yet write the definitive take on “Why I Suck at Meditation”, even if Maury is the only one that’s waiting. On the sporting side, I still feel compelled to coagulate my musings on the end of this March’s basketball Madness into one wet, sticky mass, and to decide finally whether I’m happy that Duke won or whether I even care. (It’s good to care, but my experiment in lowering my default give-a-crap thresholds is interesting and unsettling.) I should write on my less-than-glorious return to basketball coaching. Should should should.

…and don’t get me started about my stillborn books. (Thanks for not getting me started.)

Here’s what’s been going on recently here at, especially for you newbies.  If you’re a strange lurker here, WELCOME! The bits below will help explain how all this works:

In “At First Glance”, just below, I most recently railed about the weakness of a newly infamous “man”, the co-pilot of the Germanwings air disaster. Before that is a more-than-a-movie-review on Maziar Bahari’s doc To Light a Candle, a chagrined but hearty memorial to a local hero I hardly knew, a look at toxic religion (yes, and part 2 of that is beyond overdue yet still timely), and a boatload else.  “At First Glance”, where you are now, is the default weblog of this site, and it’s about everything that makes me stop and write.

In the “It’s All About Sports” section, I wrote most recently, in a four-part extravaganza that went WAY beyond moderation but about which non-fanatic readers were surprisingly positive, about the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s basketball championships. (Before that, I’d scribbled — again — about the incredible sustained excellence of a collegiate basketball dynasty in Ottawa that, sure enough, blew away the field at the CIS nationals in Toronto in March.) Reflections on athletics appear to the right in the “IAAS” playground, because ALL the games and all the excuses for sweat-stained excellence interest me. There is much more to sport than dunks and grunts and numbers.

“On Second Thought” was just the spot for a bemused meditation on ballroom dancing, an old lament about tubbiness-and-ice-cream, and my “Letter to My Son, When He Was Only One”, because: a) I should learn to dance better when I have a bride for whom movement was her first language; b) after seven months back in comfy, convenience-food Canada, I’m re-approaching a dreaded weight level; and, c) because the above-mentioned baby boy just hit 15, an important passage in my world. “On Second Thought” contains articles that are sometimes longer, usually more fussed-over and always even less time-sensitive than my stuff usually is. I let readers know in AFG (where you are now) when I’ve posted there.

Also, for those who like quotations, “He Said/She Said” is a growing compendium of wisdom, argument or fun from other minds than mine. I’ve quoted a writer, a neurologist and a basketball coach recently; I hunt meaning and inspiration everywhere.

Please note also that the so free and easy to SUBSCRIBE it’s almost sinful button is still just over there, top right.

JH [dot] com is on Twitter @JamesHowdenIII. It keeps followers up-to-date with what’s happening here, plus the usual Twitter smorgasboard of observations, pass-alongs and faves. You’re welcome. 

Thanks for looking in. Heck, if you followed on Twitter or, even better, had the first few paragraphs of everything on delivered straight to your Inbox by hitting SUBSCRIBE (did I mention that already?), you’d already have known all this. How exciting!

Thanks! Share what you like with friends, and anything you don’t like by emailing writer@JamesHowden[dot]com .

Comments (2)

  1. Leanna howden

    Thanks, “Jaybud”. Mum’s stubbornness was often dealing with some antic you and your little sister were up to in early school years. In defence of you both, I will say at that age that she was often the sparkplug for many of the schemes and you were there to see she was okay. I remember this older sister (and perhaps her boyfriend) being promised that you two would be good, very good, if we would take you to the Dairy Bar or Hewitts. I also remember your stubborn commitment to be there for your younger sister, staying with her, even if outside on the steps where a birthday party going on so you could make sure she was safe and not alone. [EDITOR/LI’L BRO ASIDE: Or maybe *I* was the lonely one!?]

    Yes, your stubbornness met that of Mum and Dad; Enid’s was much more vocal, but his was no less strong — just indicated in actions that pushed us to work to achieve what he wanted us to, using our stubbornness to finally help us reach what he knew was best in the long run. He also saw in us, his second and fourth children, things in us that were problems he had, himself. Mum also knew this, and her stubborn love helped both us and Dad to achieve what we all desired. Those lessons still guide us many years later. God gave them to us, and they continue to guide us in our decisions today. I hope they are looking down in love and pride….

    • Big Sis the Second comes through with a MONSTER comment! (Apparently, she and Eldest called me and my little sister “Monster” and “Monstress”, later shortened to Stir and Stress. Being much younger, as with many another tale — like the birthday party one — this ever-younger brother can neither confirm nor deny these legends.) Now, to see if I can help her (finally!) subscribe to The Stir Blog.

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