Sunday, October 30, 2011


I was looking for a poem about water to start my Fluid Mechanics block with my grade eight class. Look what I found by Pablo Neruda:

Everything on the earth bristled, the bramble
pricked and the green thread
nibbled away, the petal fell, falling
until the only flower was the falling itself.
Water is another matter,
has no direction but its own bright grace,
runs through all imaginable colors,
takes limpid lessons
from stone,
and in those functionings plays out
the unrealized ambitions of the foam.

The first time I heard of this poet was at a funeral. A funeral for a 33 year old man, my son's beloved violin teacher, and his fiance read this poem:

Sonnet XVII

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way than this:

where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

So this is what the internet can do for us. It can start out as water and turn to love. It can start out after a long day of prep, while my love, my husband, cooks a wonderful Sunday dinner. And then, I remember this poem, and think, it is time to stop prepping, time to turn off the computer, time to pick up my glass of wine, and join my love for a few hours before bed.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Quitting Facebook....sort of

This facebook thing is interesting. It is also a bit creepy at times. I have decided to only have family, or far away friends on my facebook. It is interesting to work with people and be friends on facebook. I mean, I see them every school day, and we chat about this and that. Maybe without facebook we will chat even more about different things we want to share, in person, rather than in a status.

I used to have facebook friends that never interacted with me on facebook. Well, that is odd. Even when I messaged them and asked questions that required an answer they didn't contact me. Hm.

And nobody phones each other anymore. "Do you want to go for tea?" "Lunch?" "Movie?" Is it any wonder I feel lonely at times. Even with 108, or 48, facebook friends. Sure, I know their horoscope, or what you-tube clip they think is funny, or sad, or shocking, or even where they went on their holidays. But, I don't know what my relationship is supposed to be to all that. Is it just water cooler talk? Something to pass the day? Don't I have better things to do with my time?

I have three friends who write blogs. I check their blogs often to see what is going on. This is much more satisfying then a 140 character tweet, or a quick update status.

That being said, I love facebook for all of the above things related to family. It seems I never get to see my family enough and I love to see where they are travelling, what their scrabble move is, and yes, even what they had for dinner. It makes me feel closer to them, even though we are already close. I get to see my great nieces growing up even though I only 'see' them a couple of times a year. I get to kibbutz with my nephews, and brothers, and sisters, and it is all good. All good!

So, if you are a friend I see for lunch, or dinner on a regularish basis, then I don't need to be your friend on facebook, cause we are already friends. In real life, we are friends.

I have only made one exception to this rule, well two really. One is a friend, whom I see often, but she is really like family to me, and I love all the silly things she posts about her two wonderful kids. The other is the mother of my niece-in-law. I consider her my extended family, but facebook just doesn't have a way to recognize our family relationship. Stupid facebook.

So, when I want to know how someone is doing, I will pick up the phone, or even send them an email. Something more personal then 'like' as a comment on their status. I recently saw an acquaintance post on his status that he had just attended the funeral for his brother. Five people 'liked' his status. Wtf? Really? What does that even mean?

So, that's it.

And, while we are on the cell phone isn't always on.....if you want to reach me - call my home number. It has voice mail and everything!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

13 colonies

The title of this blog is what I am supposed to be studying/prepping for school tomorrow. What am I really doing?

Playing online Mahjong solitaire.
Deleting non-active friends from facebook.
Writing this blog.

In one word - procrastinating.

I have had a headache all weekend, and tried to sleep all day to no avail. Hmph!
So, I will be heading into school tomorrow without my prep fully done, and with not enough sleep.

On the bright side I have some new things to bring the class based on a Bal-A-Vis-X training I did on Friday and Saturday. So that is good.

And, I did get outside for a few minutes today to admire the fall colours being set off by the sun low in the sky. It was stunning.

And....not so inspired with this blog at the moment, so.....a quick mahjong game, then I am grabbing the crossword and heading to bed.

I know, I know, more procrastinating.....but I won two solitaire hands in a, good for me!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Etheric drain

There is a life force around each of us. It is what we have in common with the life force around the plant world. It is our growth force, our healing force, our energy force.
This force is regenerated when we rest, eat well, exercise - take care of ourselves.

These first few days of my new year have been exhausting. Well, actually, I started the week exhausted, but kept telling myself I could push through it. I can't.

I am bone weary tired, but facing a hectic weekend, busy week, and lots of prep and marking to boot. I don't see any respite until after the parent/teacher conferences on November 7/8. Then I will have five days off.....but the lead up to it is crazy.

Training tomorrow and Saturday until 6pm.
Prep on Sunday.
Teaching (duh)
Hosting a guest at school on Tuesday including taking him for dinner.
Wednesday - play rehearsal (hmmmmm, should I be a shepherd, or an angel?)
Thursday - dinner with two school friends.
Saturday - DAY OFF
Sunday - prep
Monday - Halloween!
Tuesday - All soul's day
Thursday - drive to Seattle for conference
Friday - conference
Saturday - conference
Sunday - SLEEP
Monday - parent/teacher conferences
Tuesday - parent/teacher conferences
then.....FIVE DAYS OFF!

To add to this I am not sleeping well these nights, and I have had three migraines in two weeks. That is crazy for me. At the worst I get two a year. There is this niggly thought that it is somehow connected to my eye surgery. Probably not, but still, the thought lingers.....

And, to top it off, I feel like the 'extra' work I am taking on at te school is too much. Too, too much.

I arrived home at 7:15 pm today in tears, those hysterical, can't talk through them, tears. Thank God Brian had a good dinner and a listening ear to talk me down. And, there is Vampire Diaries...... although it is probably bad form to thank God for Vampire Diaries. Just sayin'.

Anyways, I am sad, and mad, and tired, and frustrated, and probably a number of other emotions I could name once I sort myself out. I find working with my Grade Eights is easy and predictable. The adults in my life, including me, not so much.

So, I am going to make some chocolate chip cookies, have a hot bath, and cuddle up in bed with a good book.....maybe tomorrow will look better.

Or, just maybe, I will have to say what has been on my mind for won't be easy, but at some point I have to put myself, and my health first. Listening to this, I know it to be true. I do come first. In this case, I do come first.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I am turning 56 tomorrow. If you are an anthroposophist, or interested in biography work, 56 is a big one. The end of one 7 year cycle, and the beginning of the next one. It is auspicious that I am graduating my class, and retiring in my 56th year. Many biographers have noted that often a touch with death occurs in this year in the form of a life threatening illness. Sometimes that illness results in death.
This is not a maudlin thought. It is what it is.

A biography course I took once said that 56 is where you decide whether you need to trim the sails. From 49-56 you are steering your own boat, or just lying on the raft being carried along. Either way, at 56, you might need/want to change course.

I don't want to just raft. I want to row. Perhaps I want to trim the sails abit so I am not going too fast. I want to feel the resistance of the water against my oars and the soreness of my muscles from the exertion of a hard day's row. The 7 year cycles are:

0-7 growing into the physical body
7-14 developing the habit life
14-21 developing the feeling life
21-28 developing the ego
28-35 mirror resolve of 7-14 -vocation related
35-42 mirror of 0-7 is the world good?
42-49 Mars period - recapitulation of 14-21 and 21-28
49-56 what is the world asking of me? mirrors 7-14,28-35
56-63 what do you want me to do, and can I do it? mirrors 35-42 and 0-7
63-70 free from past life karma (whew, can't wait to get there)
70-77 ....

It is interesting to me that my husband is always the 7 year cycle ahead of me. We are in lock step one cycle apart (interesting, that my sister and I are also in this lock step. And her husband is in lock step with the 7 year cycle ahead of her). Another very good friend of mine is in lock step one cycle behind me. I don't know what the significance is, but it is significant.

I know that as the physical body starts to give way, the spiritual body gains momentum. Heading towards the threshold that we all must cross one day. I am heading into this new journey with strength, resolve, good will, and thankfulness.

Eight years ago, at this very time, around my 48th birthday I received that tap on the shoulder. I am not mortal. Everything I read (and I read alot), said that often 7 years after diagnosis was a crucial time. I know that then was then and now is now. I know that people like me are diagnosed much, much earlier than in the past. So, really, I kept telling myself, the 7 years doesn't mean anything. And, still, it was lying there before me. And so were the questions. Should I take another class? Will I see my son and daughter marry? Have children? Will I, in fact, die before my husband? Again, these are not maudlin thoughts. They just are. Thoughts

But, here I am. Healthy, good, normal blood counts. Really, although no one will say it aloud, in remission. Good enough for me.

56. This year is going to be exciting. Different. Challenging. Promising. Scary. I am leaving on a strong note. I can feel it.

There are still new adventures, and I am re-reading my biography notes so that I can prepare myself for the journey ahead. I am beginning to trim the sails, set a new course, change tack.

The Sun on my face, the horizon ahead of me, my life companion by my side.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

hello? Is anyone there?

Sometimes this is how I feel. Like no one is home. Like I am not at home. Like no one gets me. Sometimes this is how I feel. Lonely.

I have no reason to feel lonely. My loneliness is self-inflicted. My loneliness stems from not feeling understood, or more precisely, from wishing others would understand. Maybe these two things are one and the same. I don't know.

I do know that I wish those around me would take responsibility and act, well, like grown-ups. But, then, I know that grown-ups have often disappointed me in their actions so clearly that is not the answer either.

I guess what I really want is that people take responsibility for what is bothering them. And, yes, I am listening to myself here, too. But still, it has been a day of people telling me about things they are worried about, or pissed off about, or upset about, but they won't DO anything about it. I am tired of talking and listening to the same issues over and over. Speak up. Write a letter. Tell someone that you are 'mad as hell and not going to take it anymore'.

Maybe it is because I am teaching about revolutions and trade unions, and listening to the idealism of 14 year olds. When they are mad about something they let me know. I like that. They let me know.

So, I am letting myself know. You don't have to take this anymore. Draw the line in the sand, and stand your ground.

And, really, while I am writing this, all I can think about is my dear, dear friend whose blog said today - My son is dead. Every day she lives with those four words.
I have nothing to complain about that begins to compare with those four words.

I need to call her tomorrow, email her tonight, and make a date for tea. I need to put everything into perspective.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

He was a buddhist. I am a christian.

It has been so interesting reading the wonderful editorials about Steve Jobs this past week. Without fail it seems to come up that he was a Buddhist. And, it is always presented so that we are to infer that all the good he did could be attributed to his spiritual beliefs. I have no problem with that. What has caused me to wonder is that when a good Christian man, or woman, passes on people don't say - He was a Christian. And, if they do, people often snicker, or smirk, or make some unkind, unchristian remark. I am certain if Steve Jobs had been a Christian he would have been just as good a human being.

Granted, there are Christian people, or people who call themselves Christian, that I wouldn't trust at all. But, I also know some Buddhists that aren't so nice either. It is interesting to me that we want to paint a whole mess of people with one Christian, or Buddhist brush.

I am a christian. Note, the little 'c'. I follow the teachings of Christ. The teachings are pretty simple. Love God. Love your neighbour as yourself. I can also totally get with the Buddhist eight-fold path: Right view, Right speech, Right intention, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right deed, Right Mindfulness, Right concentration. Of course I believe those 8 paths could be summed up by following Jesus's two. But, that is really neither here nor there.

However, what is relevant, to me, is it is not so 'in' to be christian in 2011. I can also imagine it is not so 'in' to be Muslim in 2011 either.

So, maybe I am being too hard on the biographers of Steve Jobs. I would be proud if my obituary read: Mary-Anne Taylor. She was a christian. Just sayin'

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Today I shepherded 11 grade 8 students towards making thanksgiving soup for 200 people. We do this every year. Every class brings harvest vegetables, the Grade 4 class reaps the rewards of their Grade 3 garden, and it all comes together into the soup pot. We all squeeze ourselves into the school hall, invite some special guests, and share a meal together. It is noisy, and cheerful and festive. Every class does something in preparation.

Grade One and Two collect leaves and pinecones to decorate the tables. Grade 3 and 4 make bread and cookies. Grade 5 washes the dishes afterwards. Grade Six clears the tables. Grade 7 sets up the tables and place settings. Grade 8 makes the soup, and prepares the platters of sliced, buttered bread.

For two hours my class worked in the school kitchen. They chopped bowls full of onions, leeks, garlic, potatoes, carrots, celery, turnip, kale, and red cabbage. They worked with such good will.

Such good will. So, I wish you all a Thanksgiving full of good will. I myself will sit down with 13 family members. We will squeeze ourselves into my little house, and be thankful as we gabble and gobble! We are a noisy bunch. This year the girls are out-numbered. 3 to 11. But my sister, niece and I are up for the challenge. Three feminists. They haven't got a chance!

So, I am thankful. I continue to be thankful for the joy I am experiencing with my class and my colleagues. I continue to be thankful for time spent with my husband and son. I an always thankful for early morning talks with my daughter via skype, or facebook, texting, or the good old-fashioned phone. I miss her. But, she will be here to help even out the numbers on December 10. Only 2 months away.

Thanksgiving is my sister's favourite holiday. She has made it one of mine. All those Burton women's bums bustling around the kitchen (and yes, Arwen, you are a Burton and not just by virtue of your bum). We will be thankful for the little house full to bursting with many generations. Stories will be told. Piano will be played. Hopefully a few guitars will be brought out. Maybe even the accordian!

So, wherever you are on Sunday (or Monday), I hope you have a moment of love, and thanksgiving. As a friend of mine said just yesterday "What would it be like if each one of us decided that we want to be the very best that we imagine human beings are capable of being?"

I am thankful I can strive for such an imagining.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

all alone, just me and the bathroom

Another busy, productive and good day at school. Then home to an empty house. The boys have gone camping. I don't have any prep, so the evening looms pretty free.
Of course I have to make dinner (mac and cheese?), and I have to watch Survivor, but other than that I am pretty open. Until the thought hits me. My brother is coming to spend the weekend, arriving tomorrow around noon. Oh my god! I have to clean the bathroom. No, really. I HAVE to clean the bathroom. And probably change the sheets on the guest bed. Oh, and the kitchen floor probably could use a once over.

But, what am I doing. Knitting. Well, technically, I am writing this blog entry, but I was knitting. And, I am thinking about the floor, and the bathroom. Really.

I am so good at procrastinating. Especially the stuff I don't like to do. Prepping, I actually like. And marking, I actually like that too. Even spending three days looking for one song for a colleague. I like doing that, especially when I succeed. (Which I did today.....I found the song I have been looking for for three days. Yea, me).

But bathrooms. No. I hate cleaning them. Although I love having it clean. Hmmmm, pardox, no?

So, now I go into the deal making. Clean the bathroom, then you can enjoy Survivor, or X-Factor. Yea.....

Wash the floor and then you can knit two rows

Throw the sheets in the wash, and then you can curl up in bed with the novel on the bedside table.

See, I can make deals. I understand delayed gratification. I know I will feel better when the chores are done. Really, I will feel better.


Ok, Ok.

I'll get right to it.

As soon as Degrassi is over.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I am beginning a history block with my class tomorrow. Revolutions. Industrial, French, American, Russian. Interesting that in Canada we don't have a Revolution in our history. A Rebellion, yes. A Revolution, no.

So why is that. In a dictionary entry I saw that rebellions and revolutions start out much the same. An organized uprising against the status quo. Then it went on to say that a rebellion is a failed revolution. Hmmm. That's interesting.

In teaching teenagers I think it is very apt. It is important that they rebel. It is necessary for them to rebel. But, we don't want them succeeding, and running the show. Not until they are adults, and then they can run their own show.

There are so many revolutions to talk about. And then the sexual revolution, the technological revolution,scientific revolutions, religious revolutions.

Oh my goodness, where to even begin. Well, probably I'll start with the revolutions in Libya, and Egypt....and then get their ideas, and we will go from there.

Freedom. Equality. Personhood. The rights of the individual vs. the rights of society. A battle that has been raging for centuries, millenia, since the dawn of humanity, and perhaps, even in the angelic realms.

It will be interesting to hear the 14 year old perspective, don't you think?

I will keep you all posted.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Migraines and dark thoughts

Why is it so hard to write when things are good and positive, and so easy when things take a turn.

The turn, the other shoe dropping, was a migraine aura ten minutes before the end of class yesterday. There I was, helping a student with base-8 math and I could barely see the page because of the wavy lines.

So, migraine medication, and home to bed. Except this time, the medication didn't stave off the headache, so hear I am after a restless, painful night, still with a headache. I know, you are all saying, and why are you writing on a computer screen?

Maybe I am hoping if I write down the bad dreams that plagued me all night I can return to bed, bad dream free.

And so, the dream. Me against my colleagues. All of them in one circle and me on the outside. A very good friend of mine telling me to shut up. Another good friend telling everyone I wasn't even a 'trained' waldorf teacher. Everyone squeezing through a small opening to an inner room, where my stuff was, and I couldn't fit through the opening. (What would Freud say about that....a field day, I think). Trying to drive a barely operable vehicle full of garbage, across newly seeded lawns and flower beds. Dead ends. Wrong turns. Getting into spaces I couldn't get out of. As I write this down it really is a picture of what is transpiring at my school right now amongst the faculty in light of the way raises were assigned this year.

So, even though I am exhausted, and headachy, I am up having coffee and tylenol, because who wants to stay in a bed full of those kind of images.

I am trying hard to hold my equanimity at school. Mostly I am succeeding, especially if I stay in the comfort of my classroom with 13 lovely, crazy students. I am getting tired of the A tells B, B tells C, C tells D, and then D tells Mary-Anne. Really? A couldn't have spoken to me directly? Really? What are we 12? Really? My Grade Eight students behave better than that, most of the time.

And speaking of my Grade Eight students I had a lovely pot-luck dinner with 7 of them last night. Headache and all, I had a great time. And then I picked my son up from his restaurant so we could chat on the drive home. We have been missing each other. So, yesterday wasn't all bad, by any means.

And now that I have written down the dark thoughts, the light is shining through again. I can focus on what is really important - Brian and I, and our future.

As I head into by 56th year I need to start taking care of me and what is truly important. I need to keep working on my list of things to do when I retire. So far my list is:
1) Organize photos
2) Learn French
3) Learn to belly dance (don't ask, I dreamt this too)
4) de-junk house
5) sell said house
6) volunteer somewhere (downtown eastside?)
7) Camp. Alot!

And so, today, once I get rid of this headache, I will spend the day with Brian, school free!