Sunday, January 23, 2005

how to tell auto-bios

An interesting analysis of how Kerry might have told a more compelling story to win voters feeling disenfranchised in America, by Easily Distracted.
"Rather than telling the story of their political values as a kind of moral
fantasy of their own compassion and boundless emotional commitment to
aiding the less fortunate, perhaps they could say more, and say
it more
authentically, about the roots of their social vision."

ain't religion great??

Via wood s lot, I found this article by Don Monkerud at counterpunch about Bush's Faith-Based Social Services. Scary.


Today dawns brilliantly sunny, reflecting burning bright off the whiteness of the snow, but that's deceptive. It's very cold outside.

The dogs gingerly lift one foot then another as their feet start to protest the cold that sets in even before they can quickly finish their business outside. Back into the house, quick!

Yesterday was not the best of days for moving. It was quite cold to start, then as the snow storm moved in, the temperature came up -- just a smidge--but so did the wind and later snow squalls. Youngest Daughter and my boys --Son, Son-in-law and Son's Best Friend--did a wonderful job. Never in a million years could I have moved without their help, uncomplaining except for lots of silly jokes and exclamations about the madness of moving in such weather!

Then to make matters worse, the U-Haul truck I rented didn't work very well, having several power-failures en route. It took a lot of problem-solving to get as far as we did, finally Son-in-law having to park it by the side of the road. It was dark and with no lights he just could not go on. Son dropped Son-in-law and Youngest Daughter off at their respective homes. Lucky he was following the truck. Phone calls...talking to more machines....a mechanic came out, got truck into Son-in-law's driveway, and as much as said he is glad U-Haul does not maintain its fleet of trucks because this mechanic can almost make his whole living off calls out to U-Haul breakdowns! Lovely.

I'm waiting for phone call from Son-in-law re progress. Have been unable to get through to anyone at U-Haul drop-off at the other end to complain and get some satisfaction. U-Haul head office also on week-end hours, ie nobody home except recorded messages of lists that will not, I said, will not be repeated... Son says Son-in-law phoned him late last night and said he and Oldest Daughter got stuff off truck and stored Youngest Daughter's things in their garage...

Fortunately for me, our three-point move starting at my old residence, did get as far as dropping off my things at my new residence -- with aforementioned hiccoughs. Things that I am giving to Oldest Daughter and Youngest Daughter off the truck, as far as I know, and I'm assuming truck is back at U-Haul, unless truck would not start again (ok--just call me pessimistic).

Regarding moving, I am moved by the strength and generosity of everyone who helped with my move. Then I was moved by warming hot chocolate for everyone and encouraging chatter from Barbara ( who is the house-mate moving out of my new residence). And then again, I was moved by Ann, my new house mate. She insisted I should not do anything to mop up the snow melt we had tracked in. There she was, mopping the floor, and then drying it off on her hands and knees. I was just sitting there, catching my breath before coming back to my old residence to mop up here.

So I am sitting here this morning, suffering from a headache -- the release of the tensions from yesterday's events, I know. But I'm grateful.

The only injury was to Youngest Daughter. She slipped on some narrow, wet basement stairs and took a painful, bumpy ride to the bottom. She was also the most susceptible to the cold and after riding as navigator in the unheated truck had a very hard time getting warmed up again. She was always the one who so quickly got blue lips in the water as a child, but would insist that she wanted to swim with her older brother and sister a bit longer. "Not yet" she would say through chattering teeth, whenever we suggested that she should come out of the water to warm up. Barbara had her wrapped up in a wool blanket in a rocking chair, with hot chocolate in hand and an electric space heater at her feet!

Friday, January 21, 2005

out of control!

OK. I admit it. I'm a recovering control-freak and I can't stand this. Nothing seems to be falling into place. The knitting is unraveling, there are loose threads everywhere. The details have scattered like my mom's old button box spilling all the buttons on the floor, rolling away, hiding under things, getting stepped on...

The day before the big move and I'm freaking out. I feel as if the move will never happen, it just won't happen. It will just all get stuck forever.

I had nightmares about moving the bed in a little-bitty pickup truck with the box-spring and mattress overhanging the box on both sides by several feet! Insane. Son (in dream) saying, "this is working great!" Me thinking, trying to scream, with no sound coming out: "no, it's not working at all!"

Thursday, January 20, 2005

universal consciousness

I had a little chuckle this morning. When getting my usual fix of interesting reading, I noticed another mention of bee-keeping by Chan Stroman at Bookish Gardener . It seems ideas that preoccupy me at this moment, also seem to come back to me from the oddest places in the universe. My best friend Debra once said if you ignore a name, idea, or thought that sort of hits you, it will come back to you again, and again. But only three times. Then you've missed the boat.

I don't think that is necessarily true. I have wanted chickens, bees and the like as long as I can remember. Never had the all the required pieces in place. My kids call me a wannabe old hippie. Maybe they are right.

It would be very interesting to be able to look at my old school notebooks, long ago destroyed. I remember many of them were devoted to daydreams rather than school work and they were filled with drawings, plans and sketches of farms and gardens.

healing stories

I have often said, and my professional peers have laughed at me, that what we could really use is a witch doctor sometimes, not more pills. I just read Keri Smith's post from Jan 17 on fears. In a daring bit of self-revelation, Keri's story gave me a lovely dose of witch-doctoring.

I used to worry that story telling is a dying art, but perhaps not. As the world changes, story telling has just evolved with it.

Whenever I worry that the logical, scientific, technical straightjacketing of ideas will take over, I remember that chaos will always come through and the ungovernable in the human spirit in all its beauty will maintain anarchy at its best.

Only people with no imagination and daring fear the stories the elders and old witches used to tell. Stories are magic.

During the Christmas season, I heard some beautiful Inuit stories on the radio -- when I have some more time, I'll try to figure out where that was, and if somehow they can still be accessed.

It's a sunny day, I've burned some incence and I'm ready to face a few hours at my paying job.

The house is in an unbelievable state of chaos. I have to thread my way through tunnels made by walls of boxes. Dust everywhere! Where did all that dust come from? And to top it all off, Molly is in heat. I hope I can get together some money soon to have her fixed -- don't want to go through this again!

Leaving the house to go to my paying job will be like running away for a few hours!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

second guesses

How many times have I been told not to second guess myself, (when writing multiple choice exams, for example). Mind you, I've also been told in my writing to edit, edit, edit...

Never mind all that. I confess I went back and re-read a previous post of mine and found it revealing. I realized that I wrote that I had a conversation with Hydro One -- as if the corporation was a person! That disturbs me on so many levels it isn't even funny, considering my political stripes.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

square foot gardening

I have been a fan of square foot gardening for many years. Here's a site in France, le potager de Marie, that is a great online resource for the process, the rationale, and full of suggestions for planting schemes, etc. Only drawback is if one does not read French. If however you do, check it out. I think it's marvelous. Since I'm starting to read those seed catalogues and daydream about this season's possibilities, I thought I would revisit Marie's excellent site.

And here's a calendar to guide you in planting according to the phases of the moon. (This site is also in French.) Follow the link to the guide on how to use the calendar (mode d'emploi). Many of the disappearing skills and knowledge of some of our ancestors have turned out to be not so foolish after all. Here's an article by Ann Cleary that gives a brief explanation of how biodynamic gardening includes the effects of the moon and cosmic forces on plant life.

Another interesting concept in planting is phenology(study of the seasonal timing of life cycle events). By collecting the data around events like bud opening, and flowering of certain marker plants, we can not only see the effects of global warming on our gardens, but plant at times when one might avoid damaging frosts or insect infestations, for example. Here's a resource from the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service for sources of phenological data that may be applicable in your area. And here's a partial list of garden activities that can be timed according to phenology.

Another couple of little daydreams I have include raising a small flock of rare-breed chickens for both eggs and meat, and bee-keeping. I'll keep you posted as I work toward getting those endeavors off the ground.

automated hell

I entered one of those circular mazes of automated hell today when I tried to respond to butuki's description of his own automated hell -- although I suppose he was actually talking to a person vs a machine?

Having recently gone through a similar conversation with Hydro One, I wanted to count myself in as one of those people who wonder what happened to any real problem-solving abilities by those who handle consumer complaints these days. Gone, sacrificed to the gods of efficiency and baffle-speak, to increase the profit margin at all costs.

What happened to the days when a person could phone and speak to a real person immediately and get a response almost as immediately? Sure, maybe the mail then took 2-3 days, but now the computers take 8 - 10 business days to correct things--if you are lucky! Now you talk to machines, listen to a long list of alternatives, then push the number of the issue you are calling about (anywhere up to 8 at my last count), answer yes or no to questions (don't get funny -- leave your thesaurus out of this!) and when you realize none of the alternatives fits your problem, wait for 10 to 15 minutes or more for a "customer representative" to be available, listening to canned music frequently interrupted by the assurance that you are important to the company and your call will be answered ...and then the representative is even more automated than all the computerized crap, cutting you off mid-sentence and plugging you back (click) into the circular dance with the automated menu...Aarrr-r-gh!

So, check out butuki's story at Laughing~Knees. When I tried to post a comment, I couldn't because I was not registered, should fill in the fields below (which I had, I assumed) and could not find any other place where I should register in order to post a comment here...What does one call that, irony??

Monday, January 17, 2005

scrawls and scratches

I used to take some pride in my handwriting -- back when I was in Miss Alderson's grade 3/4 class -- and we studied a subject called penmanship. I wonder if that exists anywhere anymore. My writing then I remember as being balanced, thin and elegant while my best friend, had a loopy, round and luscious hand. I like round handwriting. I think it's generous and warm, like my friend.

I certainly don't recall my own kids having penmanship classes. I do remember my kids coming home with stories they had written in a technique that involved a teaching theory called creative spelling. Not sure about that at all. Yet, I still don't dismiss it as a method, totally. I think learning to spell is a combination of rote memorization and creative use of some phonics and lots of other mental gymnastics we will probably never understand.

Anyhow, about my penmanship. I was starting in my round-about way to tell a story about myself and my handwriting, which these days is, (ok, ok!!) I admit, terrible. My son dropped by yesterday to help me take apart some things like my shelving in the workroom. I was away while he was here. So, when I came home, I looked around and wondered at first if he had been here at all. Then I saw the list I had left for him on the kitchen counter. He had circled an item he couldn't read, with lines bristling out of it, like a child's drawing of the sun. Underneath he had written (not in screaming capitals, but in tiny bewildered lower case letters) "what?"

But that's not the worst part. When I tried to answer for myself, "what?",
I struggled for several seconds. Only the context gave me a clue. Part of the problem is my habit of running one letter into the next, and not closing round vowels like a and o, even when printing vs cursive writing, so "table" looked like "hible", without the dot on the i.

I guess my handwriting, like so many aspects of who I am, are resembling my mother more and more every day. What am I in such a hurry to say that my handwriting is so strained?

Taking a break from my packing today, the closest I came to trying to problem-solve was a brief attempt to pry loose two pots of the evergreen boxwood I found on sale at Canadian Tire this past fall. The pots are outside, stuck fast, frozen to the ground near the drive. I couldn't budge them. We are in a deep freeze again, weather-wize, and I am worried that we are perhaps pushing the envelope as far as zones and hardiness for boxwood here, particularly as the forecast is for - 25 degrees C, tonight, even colder with the wind-chill.

I often abuse plants I have bought by inertia. I couldn't decide where to plant the boxwood and a small tamarack tree (bought at a roadside farm stand). I have been guilt-ridden all fall and now I'm worried I will be responsible for the deaths of three perfectly good plants that were a bargain, all due to my indecision and inertia. I had hoped at least a good snow cover would give me an out...but no, there is not enough snow. Oh, we have snow, unlike the city where I go to my paying job, but we have also had wind. The drifts do not cover the spots where the suffering, potted plants are. An idea, something like shoveling snow over the plants or something, to make a protective blanket, was quickly dismissed, because...well, I was just too cold out there to stay outside any longer!

A kind mention by Don , had me uncomfortably blushing. While I admit I don't understand it, I do have the desire to share my thoughts in public or whatever the magic of the internet is. But then maybe I had a little fantasy that my words would drift off somewhere, unnoticed, and I could remain safe in my little corner of the great big world. My near-and-dear might listen to my stories or read some of what I write, lovingly supportive and tolerant...When I read that I had been noticed outside my little sphere, my hot flush was a potent brew of fear, embarrassment, and something akin, I'm sure, to a paralyzing stage fright!

I love the brave bloggers I re-visit regularly. I admire their humour, their insights, their way with words, their many things. I also admire their openness. I don't think it is vanity to lay one's soul bare, to expose oneself, like so many of these writers do. It's madness! It's risky for them, but I am grateful to the bloggers I read. I am grateful for their willingness to share a piece of themselves with me, a mostly anonymous reader, who enjoys recognizing my own humanity in their writing.

I watched a bit of a discussion on TVO on the topic of the possibility that is open now to "anybody": writing reviews of books (etc.) on sites such as Amazon. The democracy of it is stunning. The professional critic on the show still expressed some professional proprietary rights. (packed my dictionary, so I am not sure of my spelling there) A mention was made of some strong reaction from Anne Rice to reviews of her latest book. I'm curious and will have to check that out too.

I loved what Her Little Bird had to say about writing a couple of days ago.

In another essay Weil writes :
"It is quite wrong to reproach writers
for being immoral unless one reproaches them at the same time for being writers.
. . Writers with pretensions to high morality are no less immoral than the
others, they are merely worse writers. "

I've been thinking it is difficult to at
once be a writer (or be in any way possessed) and be good. Writing is, above
anything, a wild state of arousal. Everything is perked up, owned by process.If
I would take the mode of contemporary analysis and see this wild and frantic
arousal in the context of a series of exchanges, I should put down Weil as if
she were a rattlesnake.If you find yourself among the good and pure, you shudder
at the this you find you've given up for the that.

It seems quite clear that any of my reasons for writing are certainly not clear. The messages about being nice and polite, being seen and not heard etc from somewhere in my childhood are very loud in my head.

My granddaughter was quite matter of fact when I told her she was gorgeous, all dressed up for our family Christmas dinner. Like all children, she was confident in herself. I have read in many places that children are also quite confident that they can draw. The nasty, destructive messages start to take hold early however. By the time Granddaughter has been in school for a while she will be comparing herself to others and saying she can't do it.

Talking with her great-grandpa, when I commented that I would have been knocked down as a child for having that "bad" attitude ( that of course, I am gorgeous -- "too full of herself, that one!"), he observed that it's a great attitude to have, balanced with kindness and thoughtfullness, etc., and no child can have enough of it! Lovely wise man, that Karl.

I missed my brother's phone call yesterday (sob sob). He is planning to visit from Alaska in May and will take in his high school reunion at the same time. He was the heart throb of many a girl in high school. Girls were always trying to be friendly with me and my sister, in the hopes of getting closer to our brother, the Heart Throb. The funniest thing here is, as with most of our wildly inaccurate self-assessments, he was totally unaware of all the attention and very insecure in high school, by his own report! See what I mean??

A thought-provoking bit of writing on compassion that I found through Superhero Journal by the Zen teacher, Norman Fischer.

Compassion has a warm fuzzy flavor as its usually understood, but if you
actually look into it, its chief characteristic is sorrow and sadness at the
plight of another, whose fate is also exactly one’s own. So mostly we don’t want
to feel real compassion- naturally we either ignore someone’s troubles, or we
want to fix them immediately, so we don’t have to feel so badly. Yet, though it
is difficult, compassion is the gateway to self transcendence, for it is
compassion that opens wide the doors of the enclosed self, our personal prison.
As usual with spiritual practice, things are not so simple as they seem at
first, and something difficult and seemingly obviously to be avoided turns out
to be something precious and beautiful. Compassion. In Zen we say there’s
nothing but compassion. The sun right now shining through the window as I write
these words: perfect compassion. Painful, powerful, bright, and warm.

I think this will also be a blog that I will be re-visiting often.

Friday, January 14, 2005

upcoming upheaval

In the next few days, I may not be able to post regularly as moving day approaches. I plan to disconnect and pack the computer last...but time will tell how those plans go.

Plans being what they are, I have to adjust all the time.

"They both savored the strange warm glow of being much more ignorant than
ordinary people, who were ignorant of only ordinary things."
There is a review by So Many Books of a Terry Pratchett book, Equal Rites which includes the excerpt above. It makes me laugh and made me think of any number of people, me included, who could feel the same way -- in way too many situations!

Lux lotus has interesting thoughts on balancing idealism with realism in the capitalist world we live in. Makes one wonder if living a pure life of idealism with passion is possible. But then, look how much individuals collectively have accomplished in the relief effort for the tsunami victims, my cynical observations of tainted administrative policies and opportunistic cons aside. It is tiring how anything that seems to be interesting seems to be sponsored by some commercial enterprise--perhaps with the exception of a few public media outlets, who raise a lot of their money from loyal listeners/readers/viewers. But even they lust after and sometimes get big corporate sponsors, don't they?

I wonder how someone like David Suzuki handles that issue?

Gotta go labour for the bread that perisheth.

If I don't post here for the next week or so, be patient. I will be back after the move, if not sooner.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

distractions and amusements

In typical attention-deficit fashion, I'm interspersing serious packing and sorting/throwing out, with blogging and laundry and taking the dogs out for a sniff outdoors and drinking coffee..lots of coffee...and therefore my stomach is in knots (no doubt from too much coffee vs worrying about whether I will get all this packing done).

The dogs were startled this afternoon by the freezing rain which has coated the exposed corner of the front porch, the steps and the snow banks with a sheet of ice. A little difficult to find a spot to do their business when the feet keep sliding out from under you!

The cats have moved to live at Youngest Daughter's, as of yesterday. They made the trip in an old metal dog-crate. BooBear soon settled in to take in the surroundings, but Caspar meaowled the whole way, not liking the motion of the car at all. After about 30 min, BooBear discovered the broken place in the door of the dog crate. He crawled out to happily sit on the floor in the back of the car. Caspar, meanwhile, was so busy meaowling and panting and dripping saliva on himself, that he didn't notice the escape route at all, or that BooBear no longer shared his prison! This, for another 15 minutes or so until he was liberated at my Youngest Daughter's home into another panic-inducing shock -- a new home with strange inhabitants to get acquainted with and accustomed to! Oh Dear!! Meaow! The 'boys' promptly hid behind the tv/entertainment unit, where they will no doubt stay for a couple of days, if their previous behavior after a move is anything to go by.

That also reminded Youngest Daughter of the time we moved the kitty litter boxes into the basement from the back porch. Winter was coming on, and we had decided leaving the door from the kitchen open to the unheated back porch so the cats could use the litter boxes, was no longer a good idea. We had moved here from an apartment, so the basement was a concept quite foreign to the boys. At first they refused to venture downstairs at all. When we carried them down to show them where the new location of the litter boxes was, they flattened out on the floor in panic. BooBear seemed to catch on ok, but Caspar refused to go downstairs and use the 'facilities'. Finally, in the evening, Caspar was sitting on Younger Daughter's lap as she watched tv. As she was petting him, he relaxed and suddenly Y.D.'s lap was very warm and wet...Caspar could no longer hold it! He did eventually catch on. Funny how he seems to be the dominant one of the pair, but it takes him much longer to adjust to changes. While BooBear is retiring where Caspar is outgoing, it is BooBear who figures things out and takes things in stride.

plodding on

The packing seems endless. I'm trying to give away, throw away anything that I don't need...but there is still so much packing to do. How can one person have so much stuff? Why do I have so much stuff? What do I do with it all?

HAW HAW::From a four-year-old boy in the galleries: "I've been here before, when
I was a little kid." -- Summer Smith, posted at 3:14 p.m. at Iridesce Sent.

Trauma counselors put into schools in Vancouver for kids traumatized by the tsunami disaster! On cbc radio this morning an interview with a writer who disagrees with this decision has me saying, finally! A writer who is calling a stone a stone. OK, maybe if the kids have some direct connection, fine, maybe. But it's like another layer of removal from reality and somehow making the kids jump on a drama-band-wagon, without teaching the kids any ability to descriminate between "hollywood" and life's realities. In real life, families and the people in them, need to develop real ties and real resources, to face life's troubles.

Trauma counselors are an idea that is really popular--we even had them in at our workplace to help us deal with the sudden death of the child of one of our colleagues some time ago. To me that was money well wasted. It was sort of a faked pseudo-sympathetic gesture on the part of administration to help us handle our emotions in that situation, as if they cared. Meanwhile, we talked with each other, cried, held each other--and that was far more effective because it was real. I felt a little bewildered at the time by the uselessness of the "professional" intervention, but now, in light of that cbc radio piece, it is so clear to me.

James and the Blue Cat had something to say about speaking out about your workplace. There are, of course, two sides to the story, which I think he treated quite well. Makes me a little nervous and I wonder what have I said in this public place about my paying job that might get me in trouble?

Whistle-blowing has been in the news again these days in reference to the city of Toronto...obviously there are times when the morally right thing to do is to point out wrongdoing by superiors in one's workplace.

Youngest Daughter this week was telling me about an episode at her workplace where the owner invoked the "I am the Boss, therefore I have the right to respect" concept. I was proud of the way Youngest Daughter replied to him, that while she does respect the fact that he is the Boss, things have been said in the heat of the moment that should not have been said on both sides...pretty well making it clear that a Position of Respect can be undermined by the holder's own goofy actions, making the holder undeserving of respect. Respect cannot be elicited no-matter-what by virtue of only one factor, ie I am the owner. Respect is a multifaceted bonus that in great part has to be earned.

Regarding the idea of our disconnect from real life, promoted by all sorts of forces in our culture, the primary one being those who produce all that over-processed, and over-packaged food: Country Canada on cbc television recently did a piece on a school hunting trip into the wilderness. The concern was expressed a couple of times that the trip is very risky and will no doubt be deemed too risky for certain wimps in our culture soon. The almost inevitable result will be that the trip will no longer be allowed to take place.

What do these 'wimps' in our culture think they are preparing their kids for if at every turn, they protect them from making mistakes, coddle them in cotton and provide them with 'professional' help whenever things are a little sticky? Don't you think making some real mistakes might make kids respect certain rules and procedures a bit more, that working through sticky situations might allow them to develop some real muscles and skills? Having 'professional' help jump in whenever things are tough kicks the kids legs out from under them before they even have a chance to stretch a bit and work things out for themselves, and worse, never letting kids be in tough situations prepares them for a very soft existence which is not a fact of life for most people when they grow up.

While I believe in universal health care, I do worry about certain individuals that expect the government to provide them with everything, even some people who can't bother to blow their own nose -- I see those individuals in the line of my paying job. Those individuals are aberrant, sick individuals however. A whole discussion could take place here about the changes in the system that should take place to prevent abuses by manipulative people, whether their motivations are nefarious or based on disfunctional personalities.

I thought it was a beautiful trip for these kids, packed with more learning experiences than some might get throughout the whole rest of the school year! And let me make clear that most of the time I am a vegetarian. The kids get a week-long chance to be out in the wilderness in the middle of winter, with all the hazards of cold weather, knives, fire, potential accidents and illness, 5 hours from the nearest community. They are carefully taught skills and precautions that must be taken to avoid potential hazards, and they get an opportunity to participate in hunting and fishing experiences and then enjoy the fruits of their labours. I was very impressed with the enlightening experience this is for even some of the kids in the north, who we assume, are that much closer to the sources of their food than we here in the south.

One of the kids on the show even expressed a sympathy and respect for the fear and suffering of the animal being hunted, which is an attitude that to my mind, should be uppermost in anyone who understands our role in the interconnected ecosystems of our world. With that attitude, we might be less inclined to waste resources, ravage and pillage the natural world with so much abandon and lack of concern for the eventual outcome. We might, as I have heard some indigenous peoples used to do, thank Brother Bear for giving his life so that we might eat, as an example.

Might have mentioned this before, if so forgive me. Oldest Daughter was alarmed when a couple of years ago I talked to her about my wish to raise a few chickens for eggs and meat. "Mom, could you really kill a chicken?" she asked. "My chicken comes wrapped in plastic from the grocery store!" Of course, she is not as shallow as all that and was being a little facetious.

At Mighty Girl, I read about the Dance Along Nutcracher and I want to go! Don't you? Wouldn't you just love to DANCE along with Nutcracker characters all in costume on an elaborate stage?

Mighty Girl also had this quote which made me laugh, Again! :

1.04.05 WIT Best part of a recent New York Times
Magazine article “Sidewalk
.” Sidney Morgenbesser was a professor of philosophy at Columbia
known for his quick wit. Philosopher J.L. Austin was giving a talk on the
philosophy of language… “Austin noted that while a double negative amounts to a
positive, never does a double positive amount to a negative. From the audience,
a familiar nasal voice muttered a dismissive, “Yeah, yeah.”

Sunday, January 09, 2005

language police butt out!

I read a couple of interesting posts this evening, one by Keri Smith on the importance of maintaining the potency of swear words by using them very judiciously, maybe even very sparingly; and one at So Many Books on grammar police vs free speech, or true speech. Although I've been known to chuckle at the mis-speech of others at times, I hope I haven't been snobby or rude. One of the delights of language is how easy it is to mis-speak and misunderstand, sometimes causing havoc, but often just funny moments that make us all human.

give me a break!

I heard recently on the news that 80% of Canada's donations for the South East Asian tsunami relief must be spent in Canada, purchasing Canadian grain. This when the cost of transporting it will eat up another huge chunk of cash. A Waste of money when nearby regions are quite capable of providing the food needed, thereby reducing the costs of transporting the foodstuffs to the needy regions! Not a word from the government about changing this law, even temporarily, and certainly no softening of hearts from farmers interviewed for this news piece!

Self-interest and political tensions hamper aid efforts in Sri Lanka with its recent memories of civil war...As my daughter once said when she was quite young, as her Dad vainly tried to divide up a sweet dessert fairly between our three children, "fair is if I get more than the others." Even as a child, she had to laugh at herself at that.

As a certain bank add on tv says, somebody's hand is always in your pocket -- even in a time when it seemed as if the world had united behind the aid effort...And the man-disasters of Africa, the middle east, etc. continue, eclipsed in our limited attention by the tsunami.

I happened on this site about famous vegetarians and thought about my daughter. There is some truth to the saying about looking at the mother if you want to know what the daughter will be like. I certainly am like my own mother, more and more so as I look in the mirror, as well as in so many of my personality traits. My daughter is considering becoming a vegetarian, you see.

To her mind, the change would complicate her life, because it would take more planning. Meal planning and shopping at one time might have been a bit more difficult for vegetarians, and going out to eat certainly was boring. These days, all that is much easier. In fact, organic stuff even, is getting easier and easier to find, if one should want to go that far. Actually, initially it might be harder, as all habits take conscious thought and decision-making to change. But as with all new habits, good or bad, once established, they become unconscious, part of daily life. The harder change would be changing the comfort-factor, the things one craves in weak and fragile moments, when certain familiar things bring enjoyment and comfort. For a life-long vegetarian, comfort food is most probably a different thing than it is for a non-vegetarian, memories of summer barbecues for example having a very different twist in a vegetarian's mind.

A change in life-style is, in my mind, not unmade as much by bad planning, as it is by emotional needs. Dr. Phil would say you need to plan for those emotional needs as well....

Here's an interview with Keri Smith, on 52projects. She is a person I find quite inspiring and fun to read.

Speaking of eating above, makes this portion of that interview interesting to me.
When was the last time you made Creativity Soup? (Note: Creativity Soup
involves making your favorite soup, setting an elegant table, then eating the
soup while reflecting on five things you would like to do in your lifetime.
Complete details can be found on page 45 of Smith's book Living Out Loud.)
I am an avid soup maker, many times using it as a way of just getting out of my
head and being in the present. In fact I think I'm going to make some today.
It's a beautiful metaphor, adding things to a pot to create something that
nourishes the body and feeds the soul at the same time.
I love soup too, and I was probably the only one in the family that did, when my kids were still little enough that I cooked three meals a day regularly for them. I was thinking today as I made myself a lunch that one benefit of having a roommate will be sharing meals. Cooking for oneself is sometimes such a bore. I know, I know, it shouldn't should regularly take care of oneself too.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

birds seen in the garden today:

how to move a garden in the middle of winter

Oh, I know it can't be done. I am trying to make a list of the most precious plants I would like to come back for when the ground is no longer frozen...I don't really want to dig up everything I the hopes that whoever lives here when I'm gone might enjoy some of what I planted while I was here.

This was definitely not well planned from a gardening point of view, was it? Ah well, although there were vibrations that were making me sad, I didn't realize I was going to make this decision to move-- in the middle of winter. I know, I'm totally mad!

s'il suffisait d'un clic...

"Poucette" makes the point that it just may be a little self-congratulatory, (a little premature) and a little insensitive of us to be content that we have done something to help (in the aftermath of the South East Asia tsunami) by simply donating via credit card online, or popping a cheque into the mail... Meanwhile as Poucette points out, the crisis in Africa, for example, continues:

Mais pour le sida en Afrique ? Il faudrait convaincre les grands laboratoires
pharmaceutiques, convaincre le Pape et ses fidèles, éduquer les
populations...Pour les guerres civiles ? Il faudrait changer les gouvernements,
dissoudre les groupes armés. Et c'est tellement aléatoire, à long terme,
compliqué, décourageant...

S'il suffisait d'un don, il y aurait autant de
générosité je pense.

It does make one wonder how one's own prejudices prevent one from doing something real to make the world a better place, when one is surely blind to the beam in one's own eye while busy picking at the splinter in the eye of the other. I mean, to me it seems so obvious that the policies of the Catholic Church, for example, on birth control and the role of women have done all kinds of harm....So, what beam in my own eye am I not seeing?

My son came and helped me take apart some of the "built" things I will be moving soon, some stuff to my new place, and some stuff to be given away. My biggest frustration in trying to pack has been my inability to find large numbers of boxes--did I mention that already?--boxes that I obtained with ease (for free) before from the LCBO, great sturdy boxes that will take the weight of books, most important! Time rushes on and I fear I will not be ready.

I have been enjoying "Ave Maria, The Myth of Mary". I bought the CD for two reasons. First, I relish seeing the attempt by the church to replace the worship of the Feminine creative power and goddess cultures by the cult of Mary has become a cult of Mary in its own right, almost a primordial need to fall upon the mercy of a nourishing feminine Holy one, that appeals to almost anyone, Catholic or not. Second, because I noticed that "Chanticleer" performs their special arrangement of "Ave Maria" composed by Franz Beibl on this CD as well.

A surprise on the CD is Edvard Grieg's "Ave Maris Stella" performed by I Fagiolini. There is an 'interlude' between verses sung by only female voices that is out of this world, filled with longing, reverie...Love it.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


This is ridiculous! I spent nearly 45 min trying to get up the driveway. No luck. Underneath a skim of newly fallen snow, the ice is deadly. I emptied a whole bag of kitty litter in the driveway trying to get traction. Still no luck. Furious, I trudged back into the house with Caspar under my arm to phone my youngest daughter and tell her not to expect me, I can't get out.

It started with such an auspicious sign. That startling red male cardinal was right outside the kitchen window this morning when I was putting the coffee on.

Once I realized I am not going anywhere today, unless I call someone to put more sand on the driveway, I had to give up on my plans to take the cats into town to live with my youngest daughter--at least for today.

I had everything ready, the car packed, and although I gave up on BooBear -- he was just hiding far too well for me to find him this time--I had Caspar in the car. He was quite vocal in his protests, saying, "Are you mad? Have you not heard the weather forecasts, the winter storm warnings, the snow warnings? You know I hate car rides. And in this weather, we should just get comfortable by a fire and forget about getting any work done, especially forget about driving anywhere in a car. You know I hate cars... What are you thinking? Meow!!"

As I'm a little vain about my driving -- in any weather, in the city, in the country, over tall buildings -- I admit, I was being stubborn about it. But after every attempt ended up with the car sliding crazily sideways and in circles all over the drive and the yard in front of the driveshed, I had to admit defeat. I'm not happy about it. I am soooo frustrated!

I have a long list of things I need to do, but I feel like crawling into bed and hiding, instead. Yes, I feel very, very sleepy.

So when I saw the cardinal again in the big cedar at the back of the yard, I just didn't know what to think. I find it very hard to accept that this is the way things are going to go today. But accept it I must. Maybe like Katherine, in the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun", I'll just lie down and when I wake up the ladybugs I was looking for will be all over me.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


I am wondering this morning if I'm ready to tell all about my Mondo Beyondo. Maybe I have become so accustomed to thinking only in terms of what is possible, thereby limiting perhaps even what is possible by not being daring enough, that thinking about a Beyondo Mondo list is really stretching it for me. But then, that stretching and daring is the whole point, isn't it?

So, here goes, and once I start, I have a feeling I will want to add to it:

1. Buy a villa in Tuscany and refurbish it and the gardens.

2. Take flying lessons.

3. Host a "salon" for artists and writers and musicians on a regular basis.

4. Run a winery that makes delicious organic/pesticide free wines.

5. Do a pilgrimage on the Santiago de Compostela Camino.

6. Have my garden on the English National Garden Scheme list of open garden days with church ladies doing tea and sandwiches for charity.

7. Do a barge vacation down the Seine.

8. Open a shop selling books, herbs, art, organic cosmetics, with a wine bar/tea shop next door.

9. Ride the backroads across Canada on horseback, talking with locals, taking great photos, doing great drawings & paintings, making a film & book of the adventure.

10. Live for a year each in: Tahiti, Peru, Ethiopia, India, England, Hong Kong, Tibet, Mexico, Japan, Alaska, New Zealand, South Africa, Sedona Arizona. ( That sub-list will probably grow, so I will have to find a way to live to be 350 years old or more)

11. Make a list of the great books I have not read and start a serious reading program.

11. Build a retreat that caters to the poor/lower middle class who cannot usually afford to go to on a spa vacation or to a retreat, in a peaceful, beautiful wilderness location in the mountains or by the sea or both.

12. Do some paintings of the icebergs in the Arctic.

13. Have a farm and keep endangered heritage breeds of domestic animals, vegetables, herbs and flowers.

So there's my start on my Mondo Beyondo list. Not too terribly original, but the idea is that thinking about those things makes me happy. So there!

Browzing through a list of 2004's most notable happenings on Slate, I was disappointed to find it very US-centric, with one or two exceptions. Typical. Unfortunately, as many Americans do not understand that they are not the centre of the world, we will be prone to having nasty events like 9/11 occur again. Trouble is, if anybody has told them, too many Americans, and the current government in particular, perhaps have not really heard that there is a whole other world out there... Even on cbc's viewpoint and indepth , there can be found more variety and awareness of real disturbing cultural trends in the world, as well as thoughtfulness on what culture is (eg do we need another novel? and commentary on the popularity of radical plastic surgery in search of beauty, the issues of same-sex marriage, "the Trailor Park Boys", Rex Harrington, Conrad Black, mad cow disease). Sure, some people might question the loose way I group current events as cultural, but I don't see how they are actually separate. Anyway, I found cbc more interesting reading.

Here's a fun way to participate in your sense of the past year, at BBC's Music Review. Cast your vote!

Current mood: mixed!

Monday, January 03, 2005

terminal economics

As I was driving to my paying job in the city yesterday afternoon, I was listening to an interview with a Catholic thinker about our disconnect with the natural world, a phenomenon that peaked in our history with the shift to the natural-world-as-a-resource view of the industrialized world in the middle of the 19th century or so, which Thomas Berry called a terminal economy, as resources will have finite limits. I also enjoyed his description of the natural world being most important and humans as being a sub-category in the natural order of things, ie the welfare of the natural world is of a greater priority to the welfare of humans, whereas the welfare of humans has seemed to destroy much of the natural world. That there might be a price exacted by the natural world for the dis-respect showed it by humans and being "used" by humans was delightful. Berry even observed how we humans feel insult by being "used", and compared that to what is happening in the natural world. It is also useful to question our sense of separation from the natural world in the way we consider it to be "outside" our immediate interests vs viewing ourselves as inside a natural world with powers and influences over us in a most intimate way, the sense many indigenous peoples once had. He described Frances Bacon as one of the first to describe nature as something we could or should control! In light of the terrible tragedy of the S.E.Asia tsunami at the end of the old year , we should perhaps be rethinking our relationship to the natural world. Berry's descriptions of a circular world and universe was also interesting, reminding me of a description of the Gaia-world view I dimly recall reading somewhere, where the death of an atom in it's micro-cycles is mourned by the greatest stars in their orbits. Thomas Berry argues that our future as a species depends on re-examining our relationship with the earth, an idea that I think may take hold too late, our world having suffered too much at the hands of greedy humanity already.

My understanding will no doubt improve by reading some of his writing. I'll keep you posted.

I had a chance to chat with my mother the other day, and was struck again by how similar we are. She even went directly to an idea I was thinking before I could say it when I commented on the large numbers of birds at my feeders being a sign of bad weather to come. She said she'd heard on the news about wild animals sensing the coming tsunami in SEAsia and escaping...Another chance for me to comment on the disconnect of our human lives to the natural world. Did nobody observe wild animals moving away from coastlines? Did nobody think it odd and wonder why?

There is a whole world of phenomenology that farmers used to use to tell them when local conditions were right for planting, for example. What has happened to that knowledge? I am aware of some projects to re-learn those natural signs, but technological solutions seem to be more impressive. Noting that lilacs are in bloom and now may be the time to plant certain things seems like primitive old-wives' tales. Maybe it's the old-wives part that receives no value, as an andro-centric (male-centric) viewpoint dominates our world at the moment. Who knows?

Maybe I'm just cranky after the tension at my paying job this past evening of trying to differentiate between the real problems of a client and those that seemed to be created by dysfunctional behavioral/personality/relationship patterns...

And was I mistaken? Did that gentleman about 20 years older than me hint rather broadly that he'd like me to live with him? Oh dear!

Suffice to say, I badly need a head-to-toe massage! A sauna would not go astray either!

The good news is, Santa is real. I watched a lovely acquaintance of mine quickly offer a child in line in front of him the dime that the child was short of, to pay for his treat at Tim Horton's. See? I'm right, Santa is real.