Friday, December 26, 2014

christmas socks

It is Boxing Day, I had my swim, played with my new tablet all afternoon, and I am listening to my daughter play piano and sing while my husband cooks chili to add to our turkey leftovers.

I knit three pairs of socks for Christmas presents this year, and they were all received joyfully (and they all fit)!

I am proud of myself for finishing in time even though it meant squirreling myself away in my room December 23rd to finish the last sock of the last pair!

I have knit this particular pattern seven times. They are called Tibetan Socks designed by Cat Bordhi and I love knitting them, love wearing them and love gifting them.

They are perfect for yoga, or meditation, camping, or just padding around the house.

I have a blister on my right index finger from powering through the last sock of the last pair.

It was worth it.


I can't be with my children all the time to keep them safe from what life throws at them.

I can make sure they will have warm feet.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Kissing Bug

It is Christmas Eve and the tree went up around lunch time, lights went on around dinner time and we are slowly decorating the tree and the house.

I love opening the christmas boxes and discovering ornaments and decorations that remind me of years gone by.

The kissing bug hangs in our house in the doorway between the living room and kitchen. She (I think it is a she) was made the Christmas I was eighteen. I was having a New Year's Eve party and as a party favour I made a dozen kissing bugs.


You can see they weren't fancy, but mine has survived forty-one years with the same clump of mistletoe (plastic mistletoe) tucked into its belly.

The party was a disaster. Too much alcohol, and I think every couple who came to the party had a squabble of one kind or another. The fellow I was dating was a shift worker and I think he fell asleep before midnight!

So the party was not a success. But kissing bug has witnessed many, many successful parties since that first one.

She is a keeper.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The moment of birth

I wrote this post two years ago and a still small voice has been telling me to re-post it. I am not sure why, but I have learned to listen to these intuitive moments. This post was prompted by a difficult week of conversations between my husband and daughter and I as we struggled to come to a place of understanding through words that somehow seemed inadequate. It was prompted from watching the pain of a family trying to work their way through something hard, when all that really mattered was their deep love for each other.

The original post is here.

At that moment of birth, in that manger stall, on that cold winter night it was just about a family. A father who didn't know if he could provide for his son, a mother who didn't know if she could keep him safe, a baby with his future ahead of him. He was born in a time of upheaval when traveling in a strange land was wrought with dangers, where a poor family - a pregnant woman, a donkey, an ox and an old man could fall prey to dangers.

There was faith. There was prophecy. There was a shining star in the sky. Soon after there were shepherds, and wise men and gifts. But in that moment of birth there was simply a mother and a father and a baby boy. And a future that was unsure.

And so it is with every birth. In that moment when a woman becomes a mother, and a man becomes a father, and a being emerges from the womb there is that moment when a family is born.

And we are making it up all the way along. Mary and Joseph were so sure in that moment of birth that it was a miracle, as every birth before and after is a miracle.

Life is a miracle. With all of its intricacies and mess. It is a miracle. It is a miracle that even though we are gifted with language, it is a miracle to find those moments of clarity and true understanding - the meeting of soul to soul.

It is a miracle to find love in this world. Sometimes it is a dark and forbidding place, and yet in those darkest moments love can still force its way through, just like a small blade of grass pushing through a mountain of rock.

In that manger there was love. In that temple there was love. At that last supper there was love. In that garden there was love. On that cross there was love.

And so it is with us. At birth, in anger, with forgiveness, in fear, and in death there is love. And love will heal the wounds if we let it.

If we remember that Christmas isn't about the shopping and glitz, but about a simple tree, lights strung in the darkness and a meal shared with family and friends. Christmas is the time to remember that there is love, and love will conquer all if we only let it.

If we only remember that in that moment of birth there is a promise to love and to keep trying. To apologize for not always having the perfect response to each situation, but to believe that when there is love there is the possibility to get back on track, start over, and move forward.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Innocence lost and found

It was 1972. I was in Grade 12. While taking my English 12 course, I had discovered, and fallen in love with, the poetry of William Blake.

That December I also learned that my father was dying of cancer.

I was 17.

This was my Christmas present that year:



This was the inscription inside the front cover:



That inscription has carried me all these years.

Unconditional love.

I have often thought that one day I will have it tattooed under the hummingbird on my right shoulder.

It is already tattooed on my heart.



Auguries of Innocence

To See a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a wild flower
To hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

William Blake

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A house full of memories

We are cleaning up, fixing up, painting up in preparation for Christmas. It is kinda fun, in a weird way, and my husband and I make a good team while we do this.

He does one task, I take on another - and when one of us gets weary, or discouraged, the other encourages or helps out.

As I move from one task to the other I am confronted by so many memories.

Here in the kitchen is where my dear border collie, Maggie, chewed off the corner of the cupboard while she was teething.

Here in the bedroom is the water mark left by the steamer I had going day and night when my daughter had croup.

Here on the doorway between the kitchen and living room are the marks of my growing children - 1999, 2003, 2014.

Here near the kitchen ceiling are the tape marks from a sign the hung for years that said 'Mary's Cafe.' My kids and husband made it one weekend while my father-in-law was recuperating at our house and I was making homemade bread, and soup and even sushi.

There is more tape residue from birthday streamers, mistletoe kissing bugs (don't ask), a poster from the Yukon, and a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey birthday game.

I have taken down pictures to wash walls, one of them that my father made for his mother in 1937. He was thirteen.


One my aunt gave me (in an attempt, I think, to make me feel not too bad for my messy, messy house.)


check out the price..... $1.47!

I have decided to move the dulcimer that hangs on the wall, a gift from my husband years before I had children. I need to change things up a bit.

I have decided to eighty-six the elephant-pocket wall organizers that kept odds and ends in the kitchen and by the front door.

I have recycled (or thrown-out) things that don't serve me anymore, following my colleagues advice to only keep things that a) are useful, b) are beautiful, or c) I Love. (Luckily my husband fits all three categories.)

Today we are washing ceilings and removing wall-paper, working as a team despite sore shoulders (me) and tweaky knees (him).

We have colours to pick before the painting begins, and that is an issue because neither of us has any kind of colour sense. Ideas welcome!

Despite removing the tape residue, sanding the chewed cupboard, and washing away the grime of raising children this house will still hold the memories.

Because those memories are locked tight in my heart.

And I am ready to make some new ones.





Friday, December 12, 2014

Harmony and Peace award



I would like to thank Edwina, who writes Edwina's Episodes for nominating me for the Harmony and Peace award. I am tickled pink and excited to accept.

This is a relatively new award created by the Idealistic Rebel

She states: “I created this new award to celebrate all those who promote Harmony & Peace, and who add Love & Beauty to the world through their Blogs and through their lives. Their Positivity makes the world a better place for all of us.”

~The Rules~

1) Give this award to seven bloggers who have added Harmony & Peace, Love & Beauty and Positivity to the world you live in.
2) Let them know that you nominated them.
3) Acknowledge the blogger from whom you received this award
4) Display your award on your blog, because you have earned it!
5) Continue to live in Harmony & Peace

These are the blogs that bring me harmony and peace so I hope you check them out:

Diary of an Intuitive - this woman writes about a life infused with love and connection to spirit.
Life with Roozle - this blog allows me to follow a wonderful journey of a LGBTQ mother raising her daughter in this beautiful, and sometimes crazy world of ours.
Project Project - I discovered this blog during NaBloPoMo and it is a wonderful window into a young mother raising her children with love and pride and some knitting projects thrown in for good measure.
MSathlete - this blog is written by a woman with Multiple Sclerosis who challenges her diagnosis with long distance swimming and rowing. She was on my brother's team of swimmers who attempted the English Channel this summer, and although their attempt wasn't successful they are going to try again in 2016.
LupeyLoops - this is an inspirational blogger who lives her life optimistically (and with crocheting) while she deals with her diagnosis of Lupus.
Le Blog Itinerant - I love this blog - she is honest about her challenges with mental illness, inspiring, and a fellow fibre artist!
Momastery - I am new to this blog, and she has a large following, for good reason with so much inspiration and hope in her posts.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Learning to say no

I get asked to do things, often work-related, or sometimes volunteer things and I pipe up and say yes when I really mean no.

I am getting better about this, but not all better.

"They need me."
"If I don't do it I am letting them down."
"They can't find anyone else to do it."
"I am flattered to be asked because they value my abilities so much."

That internal dialogue is only some of the things I say to myself.

I am learning to listen to that still small voice. The one that says what my heart really needs to hear.

"You don't have to take this on."
"This is not your problem."
"You are only doing it for the money and that is not a good enough reason at this point in your life."
"You retired for a reason, and committing to something for three months (or whatever) is not really being retired".

But, really, what I need to say to myself is "It is ok to say no."

No excuses, no apologies, just no.

Sometimes I say yes because I am afraid they will never ask me again. Sometimes I say yes because I want everyone to like me. Sometimes I say yes because it is a way to procrastinate and put off other decisions I need to make in my life.

I will sleep on the current decision I am living with for one more night. Perhaps my angel has some words of wisdom for me.

I already know the answer.

I am just biding my time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

stripping paint

We have decided to paint our kitchen and bathroom. This week I stripped the paint off the bathroom ceiling. In a weird way this is very satisfying work. I like how sometimes the stripper can get under the paint and huge sheets peel off. Other times I have to work diligently for only a few flakes. Once it was all done the floor was littered with pieces of paint - like a jigsaw puzzle - and we were amazed at how heavy it was once all gathered together in a garbage bag. All the weight that has been over our head all this time.

I liked getting up and down the ladder, scraping until my arm got tired, getting down, sweeping up. It was meditative.

Now there are walls to wash, holes to fill and then paint to buy.

Ack! That is the stress point. What colour?

Then, the actual painting - which I am looking forward to, because then it will almost be done. And once it is done, there is the small matter of re-grouting the tub!

We are carrying on, pushing forward, planning for Christmas, preparing for the future.

You guessed it, this post isn't really about stripping paint.

It is really about getting on with things, being in the moment, anticipating the future.

Friday, December 5, 2014

My friend, Rufinous

I am in a play in a couple of weeks. It is the nativity play told from the point of view of the shepherds. I have been in this play, many times. Sometimes I have played Mary, sometimes the angel, a few times a shepherd.

This year I am playing the first innkeeper. You know the one - no room at the inn. Well, they all respond with no room at the inn, but in varying ways.

Because of peoples' schedules the two cast members who play the other two innkeepers are not always present which means during rehearsal I have often played all three innkeepers.

It is eye-opening, or maybe, soul-opening.

The first innkeeper, Rufinous, is supposedly a friend of Joseph's. Even though he is a friend, and even though he sympathizes with their plight, he does nothing to ease their situation.

The second innkeeper, Servilus, is just mean. Mean through and through. No sympathy. Only driven by money.

The third innkeeper, Titus, also has no room at the inn, but seeing their plight tries to make a bad situation better by offering them the stable.

The three vignettes take place in a matter of minutes. It is so odd to play the three different characters and have to shift my attitude, voice, body language to portray their attitudes.

Three-in-one.

I think there are times for all of us when we exhibit the attitude of all of these innkeepers. I know I have.

I know I have walked by someone who needed help,someone who considers me a friend, and because of my own situation kept walking. I know there are times when I have helped a little when I could have helped more. I know there are times when the economics of a situation stayed my attempts.

This is the beauty of the nativity story. I believe there are times in our life when we are all of the characters in the story. The young, frightened Mary, the responsible, but helpless, Joseph, the simple shepherds, the wise magi, the innkeepers, and yes, even the angel, who watches it unfold knowing there is a bigger mystery behind it all.

The story, whether you are Christian, or not, is an archetype, an allegory if you will.

It is in every one of us.



It's in every one of us
To be wise
Find your heart
Open up both your eyes
We can all know everything
Without ever knowing why
It's in every one of us
By and By.

(Ann Mortifee, Journey to Kairos - one woman show, 1979)
Click here to hear a sample of this song (#9) - it is so beautiful.



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Stepping back in

I am home after being away for two weeks. It is strange how I can go from one reality to the next so seamlessly.

I arrived home Monday afternoon, attended my Compassionate Communication Study Group on Monday night, my spinning and dying class on Tuesday morning, knit with my honourary grand-daughter on Tuesday afternoon and attended a rehearsal this afternoon.

Whew! It's only Wednesday.

Tomorrow I am tutoring, and it is my Knit Group's Christmas party. I hope to get in a nice long swim, too.

The laundry is all done, the bills are all paid, and another Christmas present is on the needles.

Today I bought groceries, stocking stuffers and a Christmas gift.

I also dropped my husband's laptop and managed to break both the HDMI cable AND the disc drive.

Yup, Tropical Storm Mary-Anne is back in town!

I wouldn't have it any other way.







Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent

Today is the first sunday of Advent. Advent is a time of preparation before the season of Christmas and the twelve holy nights leading into the season of Epiphany.

It has always struck me that the word Adventure contains the word Advent. Before an adventure we need to prepare ourselves: packing, planning, investigating, (and in my case fretting).

So Advent is the time to prepare for this journey into winter. If you live in the Northern hemisphere we are heading into winter (although looking outside I would say she has already arrived), heading towards the longest night of the year.

It saddens me that for many this season of Advent is filled with shopping, cooking, parties, busy-ness, as a lead-up to Christmas Day - and if you enjoy all of that then go in peace and carry on.

For me though it is a more inward time. A time of thinking about darkness, and light, of walking a spiral of cedar boughs and lighting a small candle nestled snuggly in a red apple. A time of reflecting on the shepherds in the fields, mothers and fathers, birth and babies.

I love the Christmas tree with its twinkling lights, the carols - the real carols like O Holy Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, The First Noel, Joy to the World, well, you get the idea.

I have written about Advent before in this blog - as a mother, as a teacher, but this year it feels like I am seeing Advent in a new way.

It is the beginning of an Adventure - of facing the darkness more bravely perhaps, at the very least with more resolve.

There will be candles.

There will be the smell of cedar boughs.

There will be snow.

But most of all?

Most of all there will be Love,

and, perhaps, for just a single moment,

Peace on Earth, Good will to All.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Random Facts

Huge Thank you to Edwina's Episodes and Wendy of the Rock for giving me today's topic. I have tomorrow's ready to go, but was looking for just the right thing for today and TA-DA, my blogging buddies provided.

11 Random Facts About Me


1) I have dancing feet. My feet are always in motion - and one day while sitting waiting for a doctor appointment the woman beside me said "Hey, you have dancing feet, just like me!" She was so excited, and so was I to find a kindred spirit and a lovely term for the constant motion.

2) I have all my wisdom teeth, but no canines. This means I am very wise, but I would make a lousy vampire.

3) I love penny candy. (I know, I know, they are five cent candy now.)

4) My sister and I have a strong intuitive connection. One example: I wrote her an email about a difficult situation I was experiencing. As I pressed send, I received an email from her about a difficult situation she was experiencing. And no, they were not at all connected. But we were.

5) When I was two I was hospitalized for a hernia repair. The hospital lost me. (I have since been found).

6) I wanted to be a Veterinarian when I grew up. I was dissuaded by my parents. I don't regret the careers I have had - especially teaching, but still, some days......

7) I have written over one hundred poems and I hope to publish them some day.

8) I love math and hope to take a Calculus course in the near future.

9) I believe I will live to be one hundred.

10) My father died when I was seventeen and some days the grief is as raw as if it were yesterday.

11) Not counting my family I have four women, each of whom I call my best friend.

So that's me.

Wanna play along?

Post some random facts about yourself in the comments.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday? Not so much

The temperature has plummeted to around minus twenty celsius. The trees and bushes, the housetop and streets are lined in white.

Everywhere I look is white and black and shades of gray.

Well, not quite everywhere, because outside the window of my temporary office is a yellow pole. I think it is there to mark the crosswalk, but it is surreal.

One yellow pole amid all the white and black and gray.

It reminds me, oddly, of that scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy steps out of her little house into Munchkin land, and the movie goes from Black and White to Colour.

As a child it was so magical.

As an adult it is magical still.

I am in a winter wonderland.

And so is that little yellow pole.

So, maybe it is Black Friday all over the USA and parts of Canada.

But here?

Not so much.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Melting Down

I am melting down
into that abyss of despair
fretting myself
into a frenzy
over things I cannot control.

The temperatures are dropping
and my spirits with it
I can't stop the heartache,
or the worry
and I certainly
cannot control the weather.

Like King Canute
trying to stop the tide
I know that the flow and ebb
the ebb and flow are
inevitable

I know

But when I am melting
I feel like Humpty Dumpty
and believe that
All the King's Horses
and
All the King's Men
will indeed
not be enough
to put me together again

Because I need to put
myself together
with the tools I have
of will and wisdom
resolve and effort

It won't be easy
It won't be pretty
But it will happen

It always does



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sayings

She says
I don't feel like a person anymore
yet her broken heart
proves she is

He says
I am worrying about tomorrow
yet tomorrow will come
regardless

They say
Justice wasn't served
Yet justice comes
in ways we can't imagine

You say
I can't sleep
yet dreams still come
to inspire your days


I say
this anxiety overwhelms
yet it does not
last forever

It says
my depths are all there is
yet sometimes
mountains beckon us to climb


We say
it is all a struggle
yet fleeting moments
reveal our divinity


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Homesick

Well, it is Tuesday, and I have been away from home and my guy for just over a week. I miss home. I miss him.
This always happens on a Tuesday - Mars day - so it isn't really a surprise.

I called last night, a little weepy, and his reply, "It's five o clock, you probably have low blood sugar. Go eat something!"

Such a romantic that guy.

Actually he is a romantic, just not when I have low blood sugar. Then he is just practical.

I like that about him.

I am a Libra - read up and down, here and there. He is a Taurus - read steady. I am a melancholic. He is a phlegmatic. We are both introverts, although he has extrovert qualities that are becoming more evident as the years go by. I trust that it will all work out. He plans so that it will all work out. We both trust our intuition although his spidey sense is much stronger than mine, especially where our children are involved.

I love talking to him on the phone when I am out of town. He has the most wonderful voice, and I do kinda melt when I hear him on the phone. Even after thirty-eight years.

So, tonight I will go to bed missing him, but know that I will be home in a week, and Tuesdays are just like that.

Plus I am going for a long swim, and that will help too.

Sigh.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Liebster Award :)

Liebster Blog Award

I received a wonderful compliment on my blog a few days ago – a nomination for the Liebster Blog Award and I am delighted to accept!


Thank you to LupeyLoops for nominating me. Please go to her blog to see more of the history of this award.


As an award winner you must:

Acknowledge and accept the Liebster Award by leaving a comment on the blog where you were nominated.

Copy and paste the Liebster Award medal (logo) onto your own blog.

Link back to the blogger who awarded you and give thanks.

Answer the questions put to you by the person who nominated you. Okay. Here goes:

1. Why do you keep a blog?
I keep a blog as a way of sorting out my thoughts as I navigate this thing called life. It started as a way to connect with my daughter when she went across the country to go to university, but it has become much more. I hope to inspire people and connect with others in the blogging world. I am a writer and a poet and this blog gives me a chance to get my work 'out there'

2. How did you decide upon your blog name?
At the time I began my blog I was living with a diagnosis of chronic leukemia, and I was following a daily yoga practise to deal with various stressors in my life. In yoga breath is so important and in my life I often have to remind myself to breathe slowly and deeply when struggling with depression or anxiety.

3. What is/are your favourite creative pursuit(s)* or hobbies?
Ah, good, an easy question. I love to knit and swim, and lately I have begun learning to spin on a beautiful vintage spinning wheel. Of course blogging is also a daily creative outlet.

4. How has technology affected your creative pursuit(s) and hobbies?
Social media has given my blog much more exposure through facebook, ravelry, twitter and blogher. I have a couple of apps I use for knitting, and I use a fitness app for tracking my swimming progress. I have been so many amazing people through Ravelry, a an on-line knitting/crocheting community, Facebook and the Blogosphere.

5. What has been your favourite creative project so far?
I made a fairisle sweater a number of years ago, and currently I am making a sock-yarn blanket that I love. I think they are all my favourites when I am knitting them. But truthfully my two children are my absolute favourite creative projects.

6. What are your favourite colours?
purples, greens, blues, reds

7. What are your favourite clothes?
Another easy one - jeans and t-shirts

8. What's your preference: indoor or outdoor?
I love to be outside all day when I am camping. When it is stormy and rainy I love to be inside

9. What are your current reads?
Blogs, blogs, and more blogs

10. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
I think, right now, I would like to meet my foster child in Senegal. I have been a foster parent through Plan Canada with this family for about twenty five years.

11. What are your plans for 2015?
I would like to travel in my camper in the south-western United States for a few months. I would like to decide, finally, whether to move, or stay in our little house.


On your blog nominate and link to your 5 favourite blogs that you enjoy but have a small readership (say less than 200)

List your questions for your Liebster Award nominees on your blog.

Inform your nominees by leaving a comment on their blogs.

With the power invested in me, as a Liebster Award Winner, my nominations are …
(in no particular order):

Le Blog Itinerant
Wendy of the Rock
North of 49
Diary of an Intuitive
Carole Reid Artist

I love so many blogs, please check out my reading list to the left of this post.....some are too popular to qualify to be nominated, and some post infrequently, but if they are on my reading list I LOVE them. Just sayin'!


My 11 questions for my Liebster nominees are:

1. Who is the audience you write for on your blog?

2. How did you decide upon your blog name?

3. What are your hobbies and/or creative pursuits?

4. How has technology affected your creative pursuit(s) and hobbies?

5. What is your current job (or if retired, what are you retired from)?

6. Where is somewhere new that you would like to travel?

7. Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?

8. What movie(s) have you watched over and over again?

9. What book(s) have you read more than once?

10. What would you like to go back and tell your ten year old self?

11. What is something you would like to learn to do in the future?

Here is how I would answer my own questions:

I would love to travel to Africa. I am an introvert, who has watch Dirty Dancing and Say Anything many many many times. I have read Man-O-War, The Abandoned, and Mr. God this is Anna, many many many times. I want to be fluent in a second language and I would tell my ten year old self that you will become a good writer, despite what your Grade Four teacher told you. That, and messy cursive hand-writing and a weird pen-grip is not going to define your life after-all.

Who do I write for?

Anyone that cares to listen!


Your Kitchen - Our Love

I miss your kitchen
The smell of ivory soap
The tiny ice-box
The tidiness of it all

I miss watching you make tea
warming the pot
setting out the mugs
the golden crocheted tea cozy

I miss sitting across from you
talking of this and that
leafing through magazines
doing the jumble puzzle

I miss your laugh
the twinkle in your eyes
the colour of your hair
The way you loved me

I miss it all
and I am glad
I have forgotten
all the things you forgot

and only remember
what you always remembered
That you loved me
and I loved you

written for my Aunt Georgina
1922-2008
although Alzheimer's took her from me far too soon

Saturday, November 22, 2014

socks as a memory tool

I have been away from home for the past week, and packed six pairs of hand knit socks for the journey. I joked with my friend that Westjet better not lose my luggage because these socks are dear to me and no amount of money could ever replace them.

As I have dressed every morning this week each pair of socks evokes a memory.

The Roosimine socks, my latest pair, remind me of my spinning group because they were the first to see them finished.






My Dazzle them from Behind socks remind me of a new friend because a) she gifted me the wool to make them, and b) she talked me into Tour de Sock this year which is where the pattern came from,

My Starflower socks remind me of my son because I bought the yarn in Skagway after visiting him for three weeks in the Yukon, and they are the colour of the mountain ridges that surrounded his home.

My Euclid socks remind me of my sister because I knit them while in her company this past summer on her little island.

My Double-knit socks remind me of the new friends I met in Tour de Sock as we encouraged each other through this tricky pattern.

My Night and Day socks also remind me of my son because the pattern was inspired by the 24 hour days in summer and the 24 hour nights in winter in the Yukon.










So even when I am far away from my friends and loved ones, they are always close to my heart.

And my feet.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A bird in the hand - a parable for our times

I heard a story at a school assembly many years ago.

A sly young man approached an elder and said, "I know you have wisdom and know all things. I hold in my hands, behind my back, a small bird. Tell me, wise one, is the bird alive or dead?"

The wise master knew that he was being set up and so he thought very deeply for some time.

He knew if he said dead, the young man would bring his cupped hands forward and release the bird alive.

If he said the bird was alive, the young man, with his hands hidden behind his back, could quickly crush the bird and produce it dead.

The elder finally responded, "The bird is as you will it. It is either alive or dead. In your hands you hold its fate."

This story was told to a group of students entering high school. The parable being, high school will be what you make it.

To me, it has become more.

There are those who will want to win at all costs. If you succeed they will credit themselves. If you fail they will lay the blame squarely on your shoulders.

As the saying goes if you think you can do something, or think you can not do something, you will be right.

Thoughts are powerful things. Thoughts create reality. Every time we think poorly of someone we are attaching negative energy to them. If enough bad energy comes our way it can make us sick. I know. This happened to me many years ago and a wise friend told me I needed to take up a spiritual or meditative practice to protect myself, to shield myself, to heal myself. I went back to church. It helped.

The Dalai Lama has made two statements that I often reflect on:

1) What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other.

2) Without the human community, one single human being cannot survive.

Each one of us can make a difference in the lives of others. We can think positively about them and support them in their journey. We can make their life less difficult. We can.

We can begin with our thoughts.

I am reminded of a story about a school teacher who came to teach the gifted class. As expected her students performed very well on the end of year testing.

Only one problem.

The student records had been incorrectly filed and she had actually been given the class that was considered unteachable.

She had no doubts they would succeed. And they did.

Thoughts made manifest.

The fate of that bird is in your hand. What you believe will come to pass. And often, when something good, or bad, happens to an individual it is because another individual has influenced the outcome.

So the Dalai Lama is right. Our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others.

We can strive to be clever, like the young man in the story above, but we could also strive to be kind.

I remember teaching a lesson about the hebrew peoples to a grade three class many years ago. In the lesson I brought the idea that there are four kinds of people in the world.

Those who are clever, and unkind.
Those who are ignorant, and unkind.
Those who are clever, and kind.
Those who are ignorant, and kind.

Something to think about.

What if we all were just kinder to one another.

To ourselves.

What if?






Thursday, November 20, 2014

Grade Four

Grade Four

Rosy cheeks
Mismatched socks
missing laces
dreaded locks

Sweater torn
zipper stuck
smelly lunchbox
just my luck

forgotten homework
books galore
borrow carry?
times by four

story to write
games to play
friends to see
day by day,




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Community

I have been thinking a lot this week about community. The community of family, neighbourhood, school, work, and, of course, the community of the world we live in. Today. In 2014.

Community has always been important to me, and yet, I have often not felt a part of community. In my early work situations I often felt like the odd-woman out, as if I was swimming up-stream.

I think I found my first true community when I became involved with La Leche League in my early thirties. I was actually thirty-three, an age, I believe, is a profound age for many individuals. It was the age that Jesus was when he was crucified, and for many a pivotal point in their own biographies.

It took me many years to find my true vocation, as a Waldorf teacher, and to find my true community within the school where I taught, and the waldorf education movement in general.

I now have found community within a knitting group, and I am beginning to find community in a spinning group as well.

It has taken me well into the second half of my life (if I am blessed enough to live to one-hundred), to truly find myself in community.

It has made all the difference in my mental health.

There are still places I am striving to find true community, and sometimes it is found within the relationship of myself to only one other person. As Jesus said, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst."

I also believe that when people gather the archangels find our meetings fascinating and come to witness the actions and interactions of the group. I keep this in mind when participating in large groups where issues may cause tension and friction between individuals.

Far be it from me to piss of archangel Michael!

And of course, you, dear reader. This social media has given me a great community that I wrote about earlier this month.

I do feel the support of this community.

We can't do it alone.

We do need the angels to help us.

We do need to feel that our presence in our family, our neighbourhood, our school, our world makes a difference.

And we need to believe that the presence of others in our community makes a difference too.

That is why I love this quote by Rudolf Steiner:

“A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living”.

And, when I look at society this way, I can see why some communities, some societies, some people have so much struggle and why there is so much unhealthy social interaction in our world.

Our world. Our community.

We can do better.

I know we can.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Maybe I am too melancholic to have a blog

I have been working hard to increase my readership on my blog. Being part of NaBloPoMo is helping, plus I have discovered so many great blogs to read in my "spare" time. (Spare time means instead of housework).

I strive to answer all the comments I receive. I like it when bloggers respond to my comments, so I want to reciprocate.

But now I am getting more readers, and more comments, and I am afraid that inadvertently I am going to miss responding to someone's comment.

It won't be on purpose.

It might just happen.

And if they are melancholic like me they might think I don't appreciate them.

But I do!

I read each and every comment.

And then I get stressed that I might have missed responding to one.

Hopefully, my readers are more sanguine than I am, and never check back to see if I replied, or maybe they are more choleric, and will just bad-mouth me, or perhaps even phlegmatic and just get over it with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.

I suspect, though, that many of my readers are melancholic like me, so I can only say I am truly sorry, and I will try to do better.

Don't hate me.

Monday, November 17, 2014

In the end

"In the end, only three things matter; how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you." Buddha

I think I have loved a lot. And well. I think I have lived gently for the most part. I will continue to love and to live gently. I think in this part of my life I am learning to let go gracefully of those things not meant for me. At least I am trying.

I fret. A lot. I fret because I think I can help others avoid loss, or sadness, or difficulties. I stopped myself today from micro-managing a situation for my husband. I don't even remember what the situation was, but I remember feeling pleased with myself that I just stopped before I got started.

This is a big step for me.

I remember when a favourite toy of my daughter's was stolen I beat myself up so much for that. There was nothing I could have done really. I could have told her not to leave her toy in the front yard, but, really, a nine year old should be able to leave a toy outside when she comes in for a snack. I should have been angry at the thief, but I was more angry at myself. Silly now to think of this, but it was an example of how, as a working mother, I felt I let my children down because I couldn't protect them from life.

So you see, I am working on that third thing: gracefully letting go of things not meant for me.

I figure I have another forty years, give or take, in this life, to sort that one out, because there are many things in this life that are meant for me, and they will need my time and attention.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lost

One of the things I love about substitute teaching is what I learn from being in another teacher's classroom.
Today it was this:

Lost

Stand still.
The trees ahead and the bushes beside you Are not lost.
Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows Where you are.
You must let it find you.

An old Native American elder story rendered into modern English by David Wagoner

I stood at the end of the day while the Grade Five class recited this for me. It gave me chills. They spoke it with such resolve. It was so powerful I asked them to recite it for me again. They did.

If you are worried about the future generation?

Don't be.

They are going to be just fine.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Folds

I am joining a blog-along today with the topic "Folds". The other bloggers who are participating are visual artists, but my dear friend Carole lets me play through photography, words, and knitting.

As soon as I heard the topic I thought of my mother. Whenever we needed a note for school - to explain why we had been absent, or to be excused early - she would write on a small piece of paper and then fold the note in an asymmetrical way.

As a child I though this was her secret code to the teacher so I better not try to forge her signature on a note, because I would never get the fold right.



Today I tried to fold a note ala my Mum, but none of them look right. It is like my memory has a snapshot of what it is, but I can't quite reproduce it. I will know it when I see it. Memories are funny that way.

The second thing I thought of was folding when you are making a souffle. The delicate way you have to fold the beaten eggs into the mixture (not like I ever make souffles, but I did once, and I loved the meditation of folding).

Then there is origami, which I have always marveled at, but due to my whole left/right confusion could never follow the instructions. I can only learn it if someone sits beside me, not across from me, and patiently goes step by step.

And lastly there is folding laundry. I love folding laundry - especially folding blankets or sheets with someone else.

I think it is in the same category as doing dishes by hand. It connects me to generations of women. I love the feel and smell of freshly dried clothes, especially if they have been dried outside. I love folding them so all the edges line up, and then when I put them down, running my hand across the top.

Here is my sock yarn blanket - about one third of the way done - showing its folds.



Folding: paper, batter, blankets - it is a transformation of one thing to another. It is a memory. It is a connection. One simple word evoking all of that.

Thanks Carole.

And now I am off to read the other entries. You can too on Carole's blog.

Friday, November 14, 2014

ancestry.spinningwheel

I inherited this wonderful vintage spinning wheel this past summer.
http://mary-mann.blogspot.ca/2014/07/oh-look-new-toy.html
I have been spending time trying to track down the maker (I. Nagy), and information about the wheel.

I have the date it was made (1971), and where (Wellington, New Zealand).

I searched the internet and found a woman in New Zealand who is keeping a database of these wheels.
I sent her an email, and even copied the letter I have from the maker to the previous owner.
It is all too exciting.


Maybe I will find its long lost siblings? Or parents? (I did!)

Maybe I will find a skeleton in the closet, or a secret? (Yup, that too!)

Apparently Mr. Nagy was a salami-type sausage maker and then met a spinning wheel builder (John Beauchamp) and wanted to learn to make wheels. Mr. Beauchamp told him he wouldn't teach him to make wheels until he learned to spin. Sensible advice, no? He huffed off, borrowed a wheel, and learned to spin and once he could produce a decent skein he was taught the trade. He made over one thousand wheels and his name is well-respected in the spinning world.

It is just all too exciting.

Meanwhile I am learning to hand card, and spin and ply. I have learned about fractal spinning (see? more math geek stuff), and Andean hand-plying. I have a raw fleece spread out on the floor of my craft room. It still needs more cleaning, but it is already much softer and cleaner.

My knitting projects are getting jealous.

My twenty year old cross stitch project has seen the light of day - but only for a minute - because the spinning wheel keeps whispering to me.

I love spinning. I love the sound of the wheel, and now that I don't curse as much, I love how my thoughts can flow with the rhythm of the treadle.

I love the math of it. The ratio of the wheel to the whorl. Maybe I am also a physics geek.

I love the transformation of the yarn once it is washed - how soft it becomes.

I am learning to play with colours. I am learning about shades and tones and tints.

I told my son that I thought I was becoming a witch. That isn't what I meant.

What I meant was I am becoming a crone.

Becoming a crone all thanks to the ancestry of a vintage spinning wheel. A gift from a good friend.

She has a good home now. I take her out once a week to class and she seems to like the long car ride.

I know I appreciate her company.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Secret Places

I belong to a secret group on facebook. It is a group of writers who support each other, encourage each other, are there for each other, through all of life's ups and downs, shitty and glorious moments.

We are all survivors of one sort or another it seems, some from deep trauma, some from day to day challenges.

We are poets and authors, bloggers and wannabe novelists.

It is the most inspirational and supportive group of people I have ever had the pleasure to be associated with.

We celebrate each others birthdays, publications, good days, we support each other in our grief, struggles and are there for each other when the world bites us in the ass.

It has inspired me to write daily. Sometimes with a given theme. Often not.

It has given me the joy of reading poetry and prose despite it sometimes evoking great sadness and heartbreak.

I am in awe of how honest people are in this group. Raw. True. Real. Honesty.

It reminds me of the strength of the human spirit that carries on despite addictions, abandonment, abuse, heartbreak and can still rejoice in the love, births, and joys of another.

It is empathy personified and I am so glad I have found each and every one of the members in this group

So yes it is a secret group which keeps us safe.

It is a safe place and one that has made all the difference for me and my writing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Maybe I AM a robot

Warning, warning Will Robinson. Rant alert.

Ok, bloggers, I get it. I get that you don't want robotic spammers filling up your comment section with, I don't know, penis enlargment advertisements, BUT as someone who likes to comment on blogs to show my support and interest I get really, really cranky about the Prove you are not a robot hoops you insist on putting me through.

I am pretty good at the math ones, and I am very good at the check the box to confirm I am NOT a spammer ones, but I really really REALLY suck at the ones where you are suppose to read letters that are all distorted and wonky.

These distorted letters are called CAPTCHA (an acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart"). Clearly, I am not human by these standards.

I rarely get it on the first try, usually it takes three tries, but today? Today, just now, it took me FIVE tries to get through the hoop so my stupid comment could be published (and it wasn't even a particularly witty comment so definitely not worth the aggravation).

I don't know why this whole prove you are not a robot thing is so important. I have had a blog since 2008 and I have received one, that's right ONE, spam comment.

Now, I do not have the readership of say The Bloggess (who, by the way, doesn't make you prove anything to comment on her posts), and I don't have a huge following, but I do get upwards of 150-200 hits a day on my blog.

So, if you aren't getting comments on your blog, think about the hoops you are making your readers jump through. Maybe your readers are patient and a lot smarter than me when it comes to proving they aren't a robot.

Me?

Just call me R2D2, or maybe C3PO, or even Data.

Just don't make me try to decipher anymore of these:



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Je me souviens

For the Fallen
by Laurence Binyon (1914)

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.


My grandfather, my father, my uncle, my mother all served in World War II. My grandfather also served in WW I.

My parents met and married during the war. Yes, I am a descendant of a military family.

It became real to me in the fall of 2004 when I spent two weeks with my uncle on a Canadian veteran's tour of their World War II campaign in Italy.

I traveled to the site of battles, listened to the stories the soldiers had to tell, wanted to tell, needed to tell. Sometimes they were told with tears in their eyes, but more often they talked about the adventure, the camaraderie, the silly pranks they played.

They were just young, young men in a situation where they wanted to defend their freedom, their families, their country, and they were doing it in a world far away from their own.

This trip gave me a closer connection to my uncle, and, through those moments of connection, closer to my father who died when I was only seventeen.

I stood through many memorial ceremonies at cenotaphs, listening to speeches from our Governor-General, and weeping, moved to tears by the choirs of Italian children, and so fiercely proud of being a Canadian.

That experience brought the meaning of what it was like to be in a war closer to me. The suffering, the loss, the gratefulness of those who were given their freedom, the sorrow of those who lost sons, husbands, lovers, friends.

Throughout the tour I heard the words often: We will remember. As we are a bi-lingual country we also heard this phrase in french:

It echoes in my mind.

Je me souviens.

Especially today.

And I leave you with this poem, for my father who enlisted when he was just 17. He did return from this war, but it forever left its mark.



"Where are you going, Young Fellow My Lad,
On this glittering morn of May?"
"I'm going to join the Colours, Dad;
They're looking for men, they say."
"But you're only a boy, Young Fellow My Lad;
You aren't obliged to go."
"I'm seventeen and a quarter, Dad,
And ever so strong, you know."

"So you're off to France, Young Fellow My Lad,
And you're looking so fit and bright."
"I'm terribly sorry to leave you, Dad,
But I feel that I'm doing right."
"God bless you and keep you, Young Fellow My Lad,
You're all of my life, you know."
"Don't worry. I'll soon be back, dear Dad,
And I'm awfully proud to go

"Why don't you write, Young Fellow My Lad?
I watch for the post each day;
And I miss you so, and I'm awfully sad,
And it's months since you went away.
And I've had the fire in the parlour lit,
And I'm keeping it burning bright
Till my boy comes home; and here I sit
Into the quiet night

"What is the matter, Young Fellow My Lad?
No letter again to-day.
Why did the postman look so sad,
And sigh as he turned away?
I hear them tell that we've gained new ground,
But a terrible price we've paid:
God grant, my boy, that you're safe and sound;
But oh I'm afraid, afraid."

"They've told me the truth, Young Fellow My Lad:
You'll never come back again:
(Oh God! the dreams and the dreams I've had,
and the hopes I've nursed in vain!)
For you passed in the night, Young Fellow My Lad,
And you proved in the cruel test
Of the screaming shell and the battle hell
That my boy was one of the best.
"So you'll live, you'll live, Young Fellow My Lad,
In the gleam of the evening star,
In the wood-note wild and the laugh of the child,
In all sweet things that are.
And you'll never die, my wonderful boy,
While life is noble and true;
For all our beauty and hope and joy
We will owe to our lads like you."

Robert William Service

Monday, November 10, 2014

Guarding the Light

A number of years ago I went to a silent retreat. It was on a beautiful island not far from my home, and the center itself was gorgeous. There was a wonderful wood-burning sauna, cozy accomodation, good food, and a peaceful, outdoor labyrinth we could walk whenever we wanted.
There was a full moon that weekend - so walking the labyrinth was very special.

There was also a request from the organizers. There was a cabin on the property wherein burned a single candle. It was a small cabin with a wood-burning stove. There were blankets and pillows on the floor. We were asked to go there whenever we felt moved to. The one stipulation was that the candle, the room, was never to be left unattended. This meant that if you went there and took over from whomever was there, you couldn't leave until someone else arrived.

There was no organization. Just go when you want to, the person who was there would leave you alone.

I went up there one night around midnight, hoping to stay much of the night. Someone else arrived within the hour. I walked the labyrinth and then headed to bed. There was a small disappointment that I hadn't been able to stay longer.

The next day, there was a lot of turmoil around an incident. One participant had gone there - and no-one came to relieve her. She was angry. She felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of having to stay there. She was at the mercy of whenever someone would be moved to show up.

This story has stayed with me over the years, and today, while I was swimming, I was thinking about it.

That room, that candle, that watch is a metaphor for our lives together. Sometimes it is up to us alone to guard that which is precious. Sometimes we have to give it over to someone else to guard, even when we don't want to.

There is a bigger plan at work, and one we can't see. There is a reason one of us gets left alone for hours and hours, and another person can't seem to hold on to more than a few minutes of solitude.

There is a metaphor here.

We never know when it will be our turn to guard the light, or for how long, but we need to step up and do what is being asked of us for however long it is being asked.

We can't let the candle go out.

We can't let the fire burn down.

We just can't.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Decisions decisions

I hate making them.

Which is odd, because in all my jobs I have had to make decision every day. As a teacher, a lactation consultant, a computer programmer, a mother for heaven's sake, lots of daily decisions.

Every single day.

So what it is really is that I hate making decisions with other people - when what I want and what they want are in conflict.

Or in perceived conflict.

Mostly I think I would like others to make decisions for me, and then I would just go along.

But that isn't right either.

I need to get in touch with what I want.

And then say it. State it. Emphatically. Without beating around the bush, or trying to be subtle.

I have to stop saying "Whatever you want", "It doesn't matter to me", "You decide, and I will just go along".

Twenty years ago I discovered John Bradshaw's work on family systems. It was ground-breaking for me at the time.


Middle Child syndrome - big time.

Peace maker - big time.

It is time for me to grow up.

Literally.

No, really.

Note to self: Grow up. Yes, you are still the middle child, but it shouldn't be how you continue to live your life. State what you want, deal with it if others don't like it. They are grown ups too. They will deal with it. It is not up to you to spare all others their disappointments. It doesn't work that way. You know that.

You. Know. That.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Water water everywhere always

When I was teaching a meteorology block a few years ago I learned that all the water in the world has always been here. So this means that water I drink may have once been the tears of an elephant. The rain that falls may once have washed Jesus's feet. The water I swim in may have been in a pond that a dinosaur waded through.

I don't know about you, but for me this is a profound concept. We are all connected by water. All of us - through time and distance - whether we lived 5000 years ago, or live in Africa in 2014.

It is little wonder I like the rain and that I like to swim in oceans, or lakes, in swimming pools or rivers.

Water, for me, is healing. I love the sound of it: pouring from a tap, lapping on the shore, crashing over rocks, drumming on the roof, splashing around me, roaring in a river, pulsing down a waterfall.

Water represents our life force. It is rhythmical. It ebbs and flows. It seems to have a life of its own.

It is a big part of my life.

It is a part of all of us.



Friday, November 7, 2014

Being Afraid

My first memory of being afraid was when I was locked in a basement room at my friend, Jocelyn's, house. I was young - probably five. We were playing in her rec room. I remember it as a big room, with low ceilings. It wasn't dark. Her brother locked us in for what seemed like a long, long time. I wasn't so much afraid of being locked in the room, but I was afraid of getting home late. My mother's curfews were strict. Home by five, or else! Her face would get all distorted when she was angry. It was frightening. And yet I knew I couldn't tell her why I was so late. Somehow getting locked in a room was my fault, something to be ashamed of. I don't remember where my friend's mom was. Maybe her brother was babysitting us. I just don't remember.

In the house in Victoria I was afraid of having to go into the cold cupboard in the basement where the potatoes (and often the roller skate keys), were kept.

In the house in Vancouver I remember being afraid of the basement stairs which were open at the back (who knew what could reach through and grab my legs?), especially after reading the Exorcist (what was I thinking?) and I remember needing to jump from the bottom step to the doorway of my bedroom (not sure what that was suppose to keep me safe from). To this day, I don't like going into basements in anybody's house. (After 32 years, my basement is usually ok. Usually.)

Getting lost on the Chesterman Beach cliffs, in the dark. Without a flashlight. Now THAT was scary. My border collie got me out of that mess. Thank God for the white tip at the end of her tail that I followed to safety.

Fear of parental anger was likely my biggest fear as a child. My Mom's anger, and my Dad's were sudden, huge, and ugly. It is little wonder I do almost anything to avoid conflict as an adult.

Fear - babysitting in the park-house across the street with a gang outside. I called my Mom, and the police. The police said they wouldn't come unless someone breached the door of the house. My mother came over with a baseball bat.
Problem solved.

She stayed with me until the parents came home. Her anger proved invaluable that night. (She didn't actually use the baseball bat, but the threat of it scattered the gang).

And then, of course, the ubiquitous monsters in the bedroom closet and under the bed.

And the upstairs bathroom. That was such a weird place.

Any early memories of being afraid you want to share?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Doing the dishes

I remember washing dishes with my older brother. We always were a team on dishes. Sometimes I had to wash, sometimes dry. Someone else had to scrape and rinse and stack the dishes in preparation for washing.

Our kitchen was blue. There was a window over the sink and a flourescent light above it. That light was always left on at night. We had a large sink and the counter was too low. As an adult, washing dishes there always gave me a backache.

There were so, so many dishes: six children, two parents, and often guests. My brother frequently (at least that is how I remember it) got out of the dishes because of baseball practice. Man, that pissed me off. (In a twelve year old that's not fair, kind of way.)

But, when he was there, he was funny. We goofed around so much we often got in trouble. The kitchen, during dishes, was the kid's domain. My parents would have retired to the living room, or den, to watch television, or nap, or have a beer. However, if we got too giddy we would get bellowed at from the other room.

I can't remember the dish soap we used, but I remember the Belle Fiore plates,

which were our everyday dishes,


and the Crown Derby,


which was for special occasions.

My Dad always washed the Crown Derby - it was precious. I liked doing dishes with my Dad, usually on Boxing Day, or New Year's, and then afterwards he and I would make turkey sandwiches on my mother's homemade white bread, with lots of mayonnaise and green olives.

I loved how, when the dishes were done, the sinks cleaned (with Comet),



the counters wiped, the cloth rinsed, wrung out and hung to dry, it would all look so tidy.

I still love that - I like doing dishes at home, in campgrounds, at someone else's house. I like the feel of the warm, soapy water, the feeling of accomplishment, the way my hands feel so clean.

I love the camaraderie of doing the dishes with someone - you don't get that loading and unloading a dish-washer. The passing of the plate, the drying, the putting away, the pleasant chatter. After a big, family dinner I like doing the dishes when everyone has gone home and I can reflect on the evening while setting everything, once more, to right.

It is rhythmical and ritualistic right down to the last moment of hanging up the tea towel to dry.

Everything in its place and orderly ready to begin again after the next meal.

Doing the dishes is a ritual that reminds me every day of family, memories, and that part of me that longs to feel safe, and connected.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Blogosphere

Yes, it is a thing. Blogosphere, as a word, was coined in 1999. Wikepedia states: "The blogosphere is made up of all blogs and their interconnections. The term implies that blogs exist together as a connected community."

This community is becoming increasingly more important to me. I began National Blogging Post Month (NaBloPoMo)this month, dedicating myself to the idea of blogging everyday for the month of November.

Initially I did this to increase readership on my blog, and to stretch myself by writing daily, but by the 3rd of November it had become so much more.

There are hundreds of bloggers who have registered on Blogher and we are all encouraged to share our daily posts. There are already well over a thousand posts to read.

I am fascinated by how quickly I have found numerous bloggers that I resonate with and want to keep following. It seems as if like finds like. Often the blogs I find are written by women who are mothers, who battle depression, who have poetic souls, who find humour in daily happenings. Often they are women of faith.

In other words, I find my community.

The news over the past two weeks has been horrific and yet as I read the daily blogs I am inspired and hopeful. The blogs are about people striving, trying to figure it out, putting themselves and their stories out there.
And after reading a few dozen I feel calmer, more hopeful, more understood.

I know there are nay-sayers out there that dis the blogging movement, but I think it is brilliant. We can't all be journalists with our own editorial columns, or authors of great fiction, but we can all tell our stories, sharing our point of view.

A view that is unique and yet familiar, and in that familiarity there is an opportunity to reach out and support someone, to not feel so alone, or lonely, to allow that still small voice to have a moment, when it is quiet, to be heard.

So this is a shout out to all you bloggers out there.

Thanks for putting your thoughts down and out into the blogosphere.

This is also a shout out to all the readers.

Thanks for listening, and commenting, and coming back.

Here are some blogs in my community you might want to check out:

Rubber Shoes In Hell. She is amazing, and funny, and real, and awesome. I am an unabashed fan - check her out - I think you will be glad you did.

Life with Roozle. This is a new blog to me, and I have been reading through the archives. Her tagline is "Two Moms. One Roozle. Life Rules". This blog rules. As a mother of a queer daughter I love the blogs I find in the LGBTQ community.

One more - because I like to do things in threes -

The day I found this blog I so needed what she had to say. I was a fan after the first post.
Momastery

Feel free to share blogs that help you find community in the comments below.

We are in this together.




Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Spoken Word

Put me first
me first

Why did you have me?

What was the point?
to daycare me, or pawn me
or place me out of the way

I was your front
your centre
when I was cute
and mute

Now I have something to say
my turn to be selfish
to play
to get my way

To answer to myself
not be held back
because of your lack
of fact
or tact

You don't like my hair
you complain
I'm a strain
I'm too bare
You don't like what I wear
why I care
For my music
that is harsh

that you don't understand
what it is to feel lost
despite the cost

You marry and carry on
like I'm not even here
What do you fear?
Why give me the gear?

When your own life
is nothing
for you to be proud
you are too loud

Be quiet and listen

I'm just wanting your yes
I guess

You brought me into
your nest
into your mess

Why don't you just confess
unless

It isn't true

I bring you more
not less

Unless

I bring you more
not less

Written December 2011 during a spoken word workshop. Written for a young woman I knew from her point of view.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Earning his keep

We have always had squirrels around our house, but since the bird-feeder went up eighteen months ago, and since I started gardening on the back porch, they have been more, shall I say, present.

We have a squirrel-buster bird-feeder so they can only scrounge the seeds from under the feeder, and they only have to put up with the Juncos doing the same thing.

This little one broke numerous marigolds over the summer. I have picture proof.



So, he was in my bad books.

This fall my son picked the apples from our tree. We have to keep them picked otherwise we have problems with the bears. If you zoom in on this photo of said bear scat you will see apples. Ewww. Too much information.



My son couldn't reach the apples really high up, and I was worried these would start to fall and I would have to keep vigilant about the bears. There were easily two dozen apples far out of human reach.

However, my little squirrel friend redeemed him (her?)self. For about a week it went up and down that apple tree taking the apples one at a time. Somedays his balance seemed precarious, and yet his agility was splendid on those tiny branches. Somedays he brought a tiny accomplice - an offspring I think.

The tree is now clear of apples.

There are none on the ground. I imagine they are drying in some tree - a store for winter.

The bears have no reason to visit our front yard.

The little squirrel has earned his keep.

One little grey squirrel keeping us safe from the bears.

Who would have thought?



He deserves his day in the sun.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

All Souls' Day

All Souls' Day. The day, they say, that the veil is thinnest between the living and the dead. The day to remember loved ones who have passed.

The thing about getting older is that more and more names are added to the list of those to remember.

More and more loss.

My father and mother, all my aunts and uncles. Yes, I am of the flagship generation now.

It is a little scary. I feel orphaned.

There is the Mexican celebration: Dia des los Muertos. Part of this tradition, I learned recently, is milagros. Milagros are small charms that represent different miracles. If you have prayed for a child, the milagro may be a baby, if you prayed for a new home, the milagro would be a house, if you have prayed for love, the milagro may be a heart.

There have been miracles in my life and in the life of those close to me. There have been healings of heart and body and mind. There have been lost things found - possessions and relationships. There have been contests won, and apologies accepted.

Miracles are everywhere if we just look.

Everywhere.

So today I will think of my mother and father, my grandmother and aunt, my uncle and his wife, my husband's parents, my friend.

Today I will think of the two young men who left us far too soon. One through accident, and one through suicide.

Yes, today is a day to remember those lost, and, if possible, to strive for reconciliation if necessary. To remember the lighter moments, the lovely moments, the moments of grace.

If there is a milagro for that, for lovely moments, I wonder what shape it would take.

I didn't have to wonder very long.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

NaBloPoMo-1: All the King's horses and all the King's men

Couldn't put the Lego people together again.

But I can.

I have this weird obsession. I can not stand seeing the lego people without their hair, or at least a hat on. And, don't get me started about the ones I discover without legs, or arms, or even....eek.....missing a hand.



When my children were little I would dutifully search through the lego to resurrect the little people.

It was my thing.

Now, many years later, I have five honourary grand-children. When they come to my house I get out the lego. We have A LOT of it.

While the children play, I put lego people back together and happily stand them up in their togetherness.



And the grand-children? One grand-daughter in particular?

She merrily takes them all apart again!

Sigh.

However, after she goes home....


Now that I am retired I actually am planning to buy lots of little partitioned bins so I can sort ALL THE THINGS. By which I mean I will have a bin for people (all put together), a bin for bricks, a bin for horses, a bin for trees....well you get the idea.

And then?

Then there is the Playmobil!

#thisiswhatretirementlookslike

PS: I am joining National Blogging Month and am challenging myself to post every day in November.

Go here to check out others who are blogging along. I am number 148.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

If wishes were horses then beggars would ride

This adage has been rumbling around in my brain this week. I think I first heard it from my mother, but I can't be certain. I know it is one I have repeated to others time and again.

This has been a difficult week (and it is only Wednesday!). Another person I respected has disappointed me and this current situation has left me with a tight chest, shallow breathing, racing heart, and manic behaviour.

I find myself talking too fast, filling in the silences, running to the next thing - I know this behaviour well. I chatter away turning into a 'polly anna', when really what I want to do is a) go to bed and pull the covers over my head, or b) rail loudly against the injustices of the world.

I have been trying to connect with why the news of this week has rattled me so. Why I am endlessly reading posts about it on twitter, on facebook, on the internet.

I am just so mad. And sad. And disappointed.

And, at the heart of it, it brings up, for me, all the shitty things humans do to each other, and then justify in one way or another.

Someone I love very much was a victim of rape. It was someone she knew. Someone she had dated in the past. When she confronted him he told her to get over it. He told her 'it was just sex'. If it was 'just sex', why has it changed her life? Forever.

I don't pretend to understand all the different ways people choose to engage in sexual experiences with others. I really don't understand BDSM and I am not here to judge those that do, but what has made me very sad this week is that it feels, to me, in my limited understanding, that the part of it that involves violence against another person, rape fantasies, or 'hate f#$%ing' is beyond my understanding.

I really can not put into words what is upsetting about all of this, but I know to listen to my body, to my racing heart, to my 'still small voice', and to allow myself the permission to wish that it was not so.

To wish that people did not have to experience pain to experience pleasure, that women did not have to be raped by ex, or current partners, that people I respect did not have to fall so hard.

I am naive. I know that. But I do truly wonder if one can ever give consent for the things I have heard about in the news this week. Isn't there always a power imbalance of one kind or another? Teacher/student. Older/younger. More in love/less in love. Inexperience/Experience. Lonely/Predator.

I know that in the past I have done things, or gone along with things, because I didn't want to disappoint, I didn't want to be 'that girl', I didn't want someone to not like me.

I know that in the past I have not spoken up for all the same reasons, and also because I was ashamed.

"Here is an idea", someone I love posted recently on facebook, "Let's all be nice to each other."

That is a wish of mine too.

I know that 'if wishes were horses beggars would ride'.

I know that I will be walking for sometime yet.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Knitting Confessions - Playing along


Ok, I admit it. I don't swatch.

Ever.

Granted, I mostly knit socks, and sometimes the foot is too loose, but I have solved that problem lately my starting out one size bigger for my large calves and then after the heel turn going down to the next size for the rest because of my little feet.

I have made lots and lots of sweaters in my life. And they all fit. I don't swatch.
Isn't that what sleeves are for?

Yes, I knit the sleeves first, and then use that as my gauge to adjust for the body.

I only have ever frogged one sweater. I had gauge, but I was getting smaller so I had to re-knit a totally different size.

It is not that I don't believe in swatching. In fact I admire my knitting friends who swatch and then wash and block said swatch.

I do.

I really admire them.

But after fifty years of knitting I don't think I will be changing my stripes any time soon. To be fair I knit to gauge if I use the correct needles and yarn, and I am not adventurous enough to stray too far from any pattern.

Once I pick out a pattern and yarn I just want to start knitting the project. Right now.

So that makes me a non-swatcher and impatient, or perhaps impetuous.

Either way, it is not an excuse, just a reality.

Of course now I am learning to spin I probably will knit 'samples' from the yarn I have spun. But a sample is not a swatch.

That's my story and I am sticking with it.

Do you have any knitting confessions? If so head over to Stitched Up in Toronto and share it.

Come on, you know you want to.

They say confession is good for the soul. I don't know who 'they' is, but still it is fun to play along.

If you are not a knitter, just comment and confess something. Anything. I promise not to judge.

And I promise to reply.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Re-visiting the past

My daughter has been asking me questions about her childhood. She wants to know how I remember her. She wants more information about the day-cares she was in.

Talking to her, and those memories, have evoked many feelings in me. Feelings of shame, anger, anxiety, and worry.

I still remember the first day I left her with a care-giver. She was crying, and reaching out for me as I had to walk away. It was heart-wrenching. She was four.

As I had to walk away. And in that statement I look back and wonder - did I have to?

I did, at the time, I was struggling with depression, and I was not happy. Not happy as a stay home mom once the children were in school.

And working did help me. It did help me fight the depression.

At least for a while.

And I thought, at the time, that was better for my children. Better for them to have a mom with better mental health. To have a mom that wasn't always going to bed with a migraine, or crying, or hiding in the basement. That is what I thought. It was better for them.

But in that day-care situation, which was a mom at home with her own children and a couple of others like my daughter, there was a boy that bullied my daughter.

And in the pre-school, at the same time, she was being bullied by a few children.

Twenty years ago I thought that this was how it was. This is what children have to negotiate.

I did put my foot down with the school when they wanted to place her in Kindergarten with those same children. I insisted she be in another kindergarten or I would pull her from the school. I did win that battle.

It was little consolation.

That summer my day-care giver had to suddenly leave for six weeks because of a family emergency. She suggested another mother at our school. I took both my children there.

It was a night-mare.

She had two very aggressive dogs, which she kept crated when the kids were there. Towards the end of our time with her, one of the dogs bite off her finger. When I dropped the kids off one morning she answered with her hand bandaged and obviously on heavy pain medication.

I left my children there.

I. Left. My. Children. There.

I didn't feel I had a choice. I was a computer programmer on a deadline.

What was I thinking?

Clearly, I wasn't.

This same house had a swimming pool. My son told me one day that when he and his sister were in the pool the care-giver went into the house and left them unguarded in the pool Another girl, who bullied my daughter, pushed my daughter under the water and held her there.

When I heard this I called the care-giver and insisted that the children NEVER be in the pool without her being there. Still, I continued to take them there.

I didn't feel I had a choice.

Finally the time came to an end, and they returned to the previous situation. However, later that year I was again left without care for my children.

A previous teacher at the school was able to take them.

Her son bullied my daughter, one day holding her hand in a pot of hot soup.

Her husband had a bad temper.

And then my daughter also talked about a friend down the street where she would often go and play. This friend had two older brothers that used to 'tease' and 'bully' the girls.

And then school began, and my daughter was in a class with a myriad of bullies. We struggled, we met with parents, we met with the teacher.

Finally, finally after grade six, we left. We left because my daughter insisted that she wasn't going back.

She was smarter than I was. By tons.

At home? At home I fed them well, loved them, kept them safe from too much television, kept them away from the malls during the Christmas hype.

But still, shit happened. It happened under the watch of others. It happened and I didn't know, or if I did know, I tried to work with it, to change it.

I feel so responsible and ashamed.

My husband reminded me that under my mother's watch, a stay-at-home mom, there was bullying between my siblings.

It doesn't make me feel better.

To my thirty-seven year old self I want to say I understand and I know you did the best you could at the time. I also want to say "What were you thinking?"

To my twenty-five year old daughter I want to say how sorry I am for all of it. For all of the times I should have acted sooner and didn't.

To my twenty-nine year old son I want to say that I should have spent more time with you, drawing at the kitchen table, or talking to you, instead of hiding in the basement when I first got home from work. You were only two, and I should have been there.

I should have been there. I should have been more vigilant.

But I wasn't.

And I have to live with that.

Yes, it is important for me to re-visit the past.

But, I don't have to live there.

Not anymore.