Saturday, December 31, 2005
The only one missing in action was my son. I'm not sure exactly what is going on in his life at this moment, but I have a feeling he is having a bit of a hard time. Sadly, he does not seem to realize that he does not have to be alone or feel alone. We have tried to reach him, but he is not easy to reach. I spoke with stepmom who said she would be seeing him on Christmas Day. She promised to tell him to call us....
I suspect I will have to physically go to his apartment soon and ambush him! No kidding! A mother will not give up easily. He's stuck with me for life!
The rest of the holiday period I have spent pretty quietly here at home, reading, writing, spinning, knitting, trying to find relief from my neck pain. I am a little frightened, because of course, I can send my imagination into big-time over-the-edge thinking-the-worst stuff. But most of the time, I can persuade myself that, as I have before, eventually, I will be able to get rid of the pain again. It just might take a bit of time, that's all. Does put a huge crimp into the finances though, as I have not been able to get to my paying job at all.
Friday, December 30, 2005
Here you can to some extent, see the ice coating everything. Footing is really precarious. Any surface of the snow that was packed down at all by foot- or vehicle traffic is now simply ice -- uneven ice at that -- that is kinda frightening to walk on. Any hope of a footing is on the snow that has not been walked or driven over. A crust of ice covers that too, but is not thick enough so it breaks and thereby, one has some traction on the snow below. Of course, the stairs and railings outside are coated with ice. Lovely... :(
Thursday, December 29, 2005
At ode magazine, I found some heartening news about a village in India going up against industrial giant W.R. Grace and the U.S. Department of Agriculture over rights to the neem tree and winning! Isn't that mah-velous, dah-ling?
And here's a very funny photo-essay on how to decorate and enjoy your Christmas tree--from the point of view of two very active cats. Brought back memories of some of the critters I have lived with over the years.
re spiritual tourists/nomads
It seems to be a popular phrase of late, "spiritual tourists". Oriah Mountain Dreamer, a writer I had enjoyed in the past, used it also as a pejorative recently on CBC's Tapestry. What's wrong with spiritual tourists? At their most muddleheaded, they can't be worse than the ugly American who demands McD in every foreign city around the world. At their most sinister, they might even be the tourists whose tourist-dollars support the child-prostitution in far too many countries.
If religions are providing an equivalent of "child prostitution" to the spiritual tourists, shame on them, as well as the "tourist". God help us all!
However, I don't believe we need to sneer at spiritual tourists or nomads. There are many reasons why we have become nomads and why we are still searching.
I treasure the friends I have who do have a spiritual home. On many levels, we have agreed not to discuss our differences, because we do actually really love each other, even if we cannot agree on religion. In other words, I refrain from asking my questions, because I feel my friends who do belong within a religious community would be deeply hurt by my questions. Perhaps they have similar reasons for not pushing me. Despite all that, the prayers my beloved friend Lorraine has offered for me through her Catholic faith are among the most treasured gifts anyone has ever given me. (yes, she knows how I feel because I have told her many times!)
At ambivablog, Annie Gottlieb, writes aboutt those creatures, those spiritual nomads, of which I believe I am one. I really enjoyed the discussions that follow. Check it out.
train-car loads of dead bodies are about to be brought in. I am expecting their imminent arrival. a terrible man who is planning some sort of newbie-initiation horror for me regarding those same bodies, me flinging myself about the room in a desperate attempt to get above/away from his planned horrors, his taunting and my acknowledgement that I do indeed intend to make those coming dead bodies my business (what I must do with them, I'm not sure, but I feel I must deal with them: I have accepted them as my duty). The first bodies to come in have been wrapped in some sort of white fabric, but of the first, one is a little child and there is blood everywhere, blood congealing all over the body, shining like purple jello. I am clinging to some sort of rafters, unable to let go of the rafters, barely able to lift my feet clear of the grossness below, looking down at the crazed, taunting man and the vivid contrasts of death and its wrappings. I know I will (through sheer will power) get over it and get down to deal with the horror and do what I must. Just not yet...
there is something wrong with my breasts. I am one moment proud hostess in my own small eccentric way. my home is open to view: kitchen, sitting room, dining room, garden. my confused son did mistake the house; it is number 4 as I thought, not the house two doors down as he had thought. Neither of us had been here recently. I am hostess in my home after some sort of abscence, the reason for which I don't know. I lead my guest in, and suddenly as a passionate embrace becomes weird and uncomfortable, I notice the areas around both nipples are bleeding, the skin tearing away. At first I thought my lover had pointed this out to me, but now I notice, he is oblivious. A empty gulf of separateness yawns as I realize my lover is alone in his mind as I am alone in my mind and soon the separateness will be felt as physical as well. I sense neither one of us is experiencing pleasure, although I was certainly experiencing desire at first. But where is the pain? I wonder. How will I ever repair my bleeding breasts?
These dreams are so horrible that I don't even want to know how to interpret them. Can I relate them in some way to what I have seen, or heard or thought about during the last few days? Not really. Can I?
the theft of Christmas
To sum it up, basically, he gave me a leaflet entitled The Holy Quran's Message to Jews & Christians, complied and edited by Dr. Arafat El-Ashi. It's not a big leaflet at all, but I disliked it immensely before I even got past the first few pages.
Why? Perhaps this quote from Andre Gide sums it up better than I can. "Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it."
I know myself well enough to realize that my perceptions are greatly coloured by my experiences. And I also do not consider myself an expert in religion, theology or philosophy, but I have been hurt often enough by people who are so sure, who have refused to be open to my questions of one kind or another, who have placed me outside, simply by my insistence that they did not answer my questions, that on some level, instinct perhaps, I feel such sureness alone is a problem.
I do not believe that God, or Allah, or whatever you call god has any problem with "the other". If Godness is all powerful, all knowing, if "His are all things in the heavens and the earth...His Chair does contain the heavens and the earth; and He feels no fatigue in preserving them...", surely the sincere seeker can ask the questions and His teachers will be provided with the patience and wisdom and means to answer the questions. Surely all the "heathens", Hindus, Buddhists, pagans, etc. in any age or era, in any part of the world are not excluded because Allah is limited to the era and message post-Muhammed (assuming that Allah's messages to His other prophets were lost of damaged)?
For example, I asked my friendly gas station attendant what the Quran has to say about all the other great religions around the world, some much older than Islam. What will Allah do about them? His response was initially confusion, then, he quickly dismissed them all. Billions and billions of people over time before time, dismissed. I just can't do that. I don't personally believe that Allah wants to be limited to only the people who follow the Quran. As the Quran itself says, "The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, so do believers; each believes in Allah, His angels, His Books and His apostles. We make no distinction between one and another of His apostles." (if Muhammed does not, why do so many Muslims?)
I come from a Christian upbringing. I no longer call myself a Christian. I find great beauty in much of Christian teachings, but also too much that horrifies me. So I have studied and searched within the other great traditions as well. And? same story.
For example, Buddhism, perhaps the one religion that seems the most sensible to me, has had a long troubling history of patriarchism--like most other world religions. But it does give me a great giggle to have read that in theDzogchen tradition, there is a teaching that a woman who "gives birth to the Bodhisattva Vow and practices bodhicitta", will develop on the path of awakening faster than a man!
So, flaws in the traditions of world religions? That is not a bad thing at all. That merely tells me that I have to trust that God, or Source, or the Infinite, is to be found in all inspired writers and teachers, but also, that those inspired writers and teachers, even Prophets, if you will, are or were human with human flaws, who wrote or spoke a flawed and changeable human language. It behooves me to seek, and find even, but to remember that my flawed human eyes will have flawed human perceptions and interpretations. Therefore, I must humbly keep searching and reading Inspired Writers, and searching my own heart for obstacles to the truth.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch. I read with amusement Tom Spencer's Dec 6 entry on how "the liberals want to destroy Santa, er, we mean Jesus!"
That lie is a glittering disco ball-sized distraction, trying to steal the eyes
of a frightened and worried nation away from the sight of thieves busily
desecrating the temple from their darkened money-littered stalls.
Like so many other beautiful ideas, the Christmas story is ripe for the picking, as far as some profiteering individuals and corporations are concerned. And their stock-holders would be right pissed off if they missed the opportunity! And as consumers, feeling the generalized anxieties of our societies and the passing of time as the year draws to its inexorable end, we believe we need the consumer items offered for sale!
That is so sad. The Christmas story, much of which is based on much earlier pagan mythologies and traditions, is a lovely one. It's too bad we are too busy to meditate on the stories and traditions that the time of winter solstice has inspired. It's so much easier to just buy something to make us all feel better (just stuff a pill in the painful hole) at a time when the turning of the Great Wheel of the Solar Year might have something much more poignant and precious to say to us, if we could only hear it above the jingle bells of commerce.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Putting a moisturizing lotion on my face. As I rub it in, ram little finger into a nostril. Fingernail cuts into skin inside nose. Nose bleeds. Hurts like hell!
True story. This is me! Ow ow ow ow!
Friday, December 23, 2005
I attribute these last few years of relatively little pain to my yoga practice. However, during the last two or three days, the neck pain has come back. As I was asking myself "why?", I happened upon Louise Hay's list of emotional issues that may be behind neck pain and headaches. I found it fascinating that Luise associates neck problems with being stubborn about our own concept of a situation, shutting out all the other options out there.
You see, I visited the gas station I tend to frequent and the attendant that is there most often at the time of day I am there, gave me a booklet to read on Islam, addressed to Christians and Jews. I could tell quickly that the tone of the booklet was one I would disagree with, but I started to freak out on how to react, how to tell the attendant, who no doubt means well, bless his heart! That's where my tension went into orbit! I'm not in the habit of confrontations and I don't know how to say I totally disagree with the pamphlet! But, as Louise says, there are more than 250 different ways to wash dishes, so there must be at least that many ways to "confront" my friendly gas station attendant.
Now, I came to that conclusion after actually considering that maybe I was being rigid in my thinking about the pamphlet. But no. While I am quite open to considering the beauty of much in Islam, I have actually read enough to see many problems in Islam that this pamphlet most certainly did not redress--rather it emphasized them to me.
Headaches, Louise goes on to say, come from invalidating the self. So, I'm forgiving myself and going on. Migraines are created by people who want to be perfect and who create a lot of pressure on themselves. While I would not say my headache had progressed to the point of migraine, I have recently been very guilty of trying to be perfect and putting myself under a lot of pressure. So, the solution? Imagine! I giggled to find that migraine can often be relieved by masturbation as soon as you feel a migraine coming on.
So, I went to sleep last night, my last deliberate thought being:
"I relax into the flow of life and let life provide all that I need easily
and comfortably. Life is for me."
I was smiling about the thought that the sexual fears and the resistance to the flow of life that may bring on migraines could be relieved by masturbation. How delightful! As a result, I had the most marvelous dreams last night.
My neck is still quite sore today, but, I'll admit it! It is much less sore than it was... Could it be that the dreams helped? I had not even acted on Louise's suggestion!
Granddaughter is sitting front, centre, in white tights, pink jumper and dark blue scarf
Daddy, holding candy Christmas tree made by Granddaughter, Nana Nancy and Mom
Dad, still holding all-important candy-tree; Granddaughter talking to Auntie 'Ria
grey-haired gentleman is Papa Steve; Daddy is talking to Granddaughter and Auntie 'Ria
I'm being a little facetious, but I do really think it's a marvellous phenomenon, that a little four-year old can draw so many people together in love. What is that power of love, anyway?? Pretty awesome stuff, isn't it? I admit to being absolutely thrilled!
Here is some of the wool rovings I received from Michelle (thankyou!!) :
which I spun into this:
Out of the stuff I spun above, I am making a pillow-cover that looks like this:
It will be a present for one of my daughters. So please, shhhhhhh! Don't tell them! Of course, if they are eaves-dropping on our conversation (they know I keep this on-line journal), ooops!
This knitting project was made out of some purchased yarn, the black is a lovely alpaca/wool blend, the salt-and-pepper, an acrylic yarn. This hat and scarf is also a present for one of my daughters, so again, shhhhh. It's a surprise.
walking with dogs
The dogs have a marvelous time reading the latest news in the scents along the way. Great excitement is to be found at the foot of this tree or that, in a little tunnel that disappears into the snow there, on the top of the zigzagging cedar rail fence here...then on the the next scents.
They gulp mouthfuls of snow at times. Molly stops often to chew on dead grass, to snuffle eagerly at a promising scent in the snow:
Misty leaps like a deer, over deadfallen trees, over fences, usually running at full tilt: (that's not a rabbit or hare, it's Misty in motion)
Tasha crisscrosses back and forth, keeping tabs on all of us, trying to keep us in line, occasionally nipping, herding:
They are all laughing, eyes sparkling with fun and eagerness.
What I was worried were joy-riders last week, have turned out to be a team of loggers scouting out the best route to get to the cedars in the low-lying area by the creek, beyond the last meadow. A "road" over the snow-covered meadows has now been tracked by heavy machinery and part of the cedar-rail fence taken down to make a gateway into the woods beyond. I have mixed feelings as I note the changes to the woods around us. But the loggers do not disturb the peace of our house, nor do I encounter them on my walks. Somehow, I seem to time my walks to when they have gone and the woods are silent. I have the woods to myself and the dogs.
whirl winds & kindness
As usual, the ideas I had been contemplating and canoodling over for months, suddenly have become last-minute projects that I am slightly worried I will not finish on time. Unfortunately, this is normal for me.
Every Christmas Eve day, I am out there with all the other last minute shoppers. It is fun. The majority are smiling, pretty relaxed and resigned to be among the rest of us unorganized, slightly frazzled, unwashed masses in the whirlwind of anticipation and preparation.
In total constrast to me, I was priviliged recently to attend a dinner party, given by one of my uber-organized peers at my paying job. Some, unfairly I think, call her "martha", with a bit of snideness. I, however, fully acknowledge my wistful desire to be able to throw parties like the one she gave us, and with a tinge of jealousy, admit that I probably never will. But I am very grateful to have enjoyed a party put together with such care, such generosity and such attention to detail.
I am intentionally not mentioning her name. You will understand why in a moment. She did ask us to contribute $10 each, as this event pretty much was the "staff party" this year. As you can see from pics below, this probably didn't even cover the cost of the party favors at each plate -- handmade chocolates, beautifully wrapped. The surprise was that she chose to donate our contribution to a needy family, rather that using it to offset her expenses. This is why I believe she would rather that I not tell you her name. Although I know she really enjoyes lavish entertaining, she did not do this for her own glory. I believe the whole evening was a wonderful gift to all of us from the most beautiful, brave and generously loving place in her heart. (excuse me while I wipe my tears and snuffle most inelegantly into tissue, right now)
This brings me to thinking about kindness. In a recent interview on television, the Dalai Lama said he believed the world is more like heaven than hell -- this inspite of the constant stream of war, murder, hatred and mayhem that we see on the news. We do hear in Canada that crime rates are going down, but the content of each newscast is still pretty much the same. A rare treat this season has been the odd story about kindness. Perhaps its the season, perhaps not!
On Tapestry , Dec 18/05, on CBC radio, Mary Hynes interviewedMarc Barasch, author of Field Notes on the Compassionate Life: A Search for the Soul of Kindness. At one point, he made the point that people that he interviewed for the book, people who had made some kind of extremely generous gift --eg, donated a kidney to a stranger--believed that the world is a generous place. Should their one remaining kidney fail, they totally believed that someone would donate one to them. They did not believe they had done anything out of the ordinary. They believed they had done what anyone would do. And don't we hear that all the time from people who have done something generous or heroic?
The other thing that struck me was that Darwin mentions "survival of the fittest" barely half a dozen times in all of his writing. He was, apparently, disappointed that this was used to support the crassest kind of capitalism. He did observe and wrote at length about the supportive behaviors of animals towards the weaker among them and felt that these behaviors did more to ensure the survival of the individual as well as the species. Why did that get pushed aside?
Anyhow, the great generosity that we see at this season is a lovely reminder of the kindness that we can be capable of at every season and elicits from me tears of gratitude: gratitude for the love and kindness I receive and gratitude that I have something to give as well.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
"People are backwards. Ignorant of the true Self they pursue things
willingly, suffering immeasurable pains in their greed for a little bit of
pleasure. In the mornings before they've opened their eyes and gotten out of
bed, when they're still only half awake, their minds are already flying about in
confusion flowing along with random thoughts. Although good and bad deeds have
not yet appeared, heaven and hell are already formed in their hearts before they
even get out of bed. By the time they go in to action, the seeds of heaven and
hell are already implanted in their minds."- Ta-Hui
"If there is love, there is hope that one may have real families, real
brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. If the love within your mind is lost
and you see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or
education or material comfort you have, only suffering and confusion will
ensue"- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The little book of Buddhism
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
so she got dressed up.
First, she put on a warm, long-sleeved undershirt.
She carefully tucked the undershirt into flannel pj's.
She pulled some thick, red striped socks over the cuffs of the pj's,
as far as they would go.
Then over the undershirt, she put on a thick, fleece pullover.
And over her pj's she pulled on a pair of ugly
but warm sweat pants.
On her head, Gramma put a woolly white beret.
And on top of the beret, she put on a hood with furry trim
and tied it under her chin.
On her hands, Gramma put on a pair
of blue fleece gloves.
Then on top of the gloves, she put on a pair
of thick, black, leather mitts.
Then Gramma put on a blue skijacket and a pair of black boots.
It's not pretty, but it's WARM!
Ooops, Gramma! You dropped one of your mitts!
It must be a terrible thing to have your government doing evil in your name --theAmericanpeople, amen.
Here is a more cheerful note at the cassandra pages about what Clinton was able to do in Montreal.
avec un nuage de lait
Monday, December 12, 2005
I noticed this morning that a nice bank of snow is covering the pieris, holly and rhododendron at the front of the house--hopefully a warm blanket to protect them from the winter winds. The winds do tear up the hill from the lake when the winds are from the northwest, and they are bitterly cold.
Before I got down to doing some chores, I went for a short walk around my beloved meadows again. When we got to the bottom of the third meadow where the land goes downwards, I assume to a little river that I have heard goes into the lake just north of there, I was looking forward to checking on the porcupine tree.
Before I even got to it, Molly had gone on ahead and started barking. As I came around a little bend, I could see that the porcupines had climbed up the hollow trunk and were visible in the second hole which is about 3 yards off the ground. I took some pictures, which I'm happy to report seem to have turned out ok.
coming up to the tree from the east side, the upper hole and the porcupine visible already
the first time I came upon them, I caught a glimpse of the porcupines climbing up the tunnel in the tree, turning to present their backside and quills towards the opening of the hole
these guys(only one of the two is visible here) look large, fully mature with quills that look to be very hard, sharp and about 3&1/2" long
walking around to the west side of the tree, here is the mound of droppings I could not identify the first time I walked this way
the bottom hole at the back/north side of the tree
a few stray quills are in the hole--probably not visible in the photo. Misty, who is quite a climber and fence-top-walker, had no interest in trying to climb in there--she's too smart for that.
walking away now, a backward look at the west side of the porcupines' tree.
There was a distinct odour of ?urine, ?porcupine stool, depending on which side of the wind one stood.
Again, many tracks crisscrossed the meadows, most of them a bit drifted in with snow so I could not be sure what they were. I took some pictures of the clearest ones. Maybe someone can tell me what they might be?
the first set, quite small prints, of what?
the second set, also small, looks like a change in direction, some creature changed its mind & ran back toward the grasses
the second set, close up, prints of what?
the third set, deer
The most upsetting thing was a large black truck, a Dodge Ram, which overtook me as I was just starting out on my walk, going out the lane. It did not alarm me, initially. There were a couple of young guys in the truck. They would not meet my eye or greet me as people do out here in the country, which I thought was odd, but they did take care to slow down as the three dogs were all over the lane--no sense around cars at all!
But as I turned to come home, coming over the rocks dividing the third (farthest) meadow from the second, I noticed the truck tracks circling the meadow. They were joy-riders! That's why they would not look me in the eye, when they passed me earlier! Because we have had a bit of activity with the loggers in the woods, etc., even though I did not recognize the truck, I had not been suspicious at first. Now, I soo-oo-o regretted that I did not note the license plate!
Saturday, December 10, 2005
I was seven years old, he was in my class at school and he was beautiful.
As he came closer, I must have gripped my Mom's hand pretty tightly.
Then, with a casual 'hi', he passed us, and I stopped breathing.
"Who's that?" my Mom asked, curious.
Couldn't she tell that he was the most beautiful boy in the world?
"That's him," I explained. "H-Him!" A little boy that in my memory had straight brown hair and laughing brown eyes.
"That little boy?" my Mom asked.
"Yes, he's the one I told you about!"
She laughed. "There's nothing wrong with him, but, I mean, he's nothing special!"
I was horrified. Didn't my Mom see how obviously beautiful he was?
My love affair with popcorn goes way back, back to when I was absolutely too young to be having love affairs at all.
A few years ago, when I lived in an apartment building in town, my daughters said they could get off the elevator on our floor and before even entering our apartment, they could tell I had made popcorn because they could smell it in the hall!
I remember Saturday nights, before we got old enough to be wanting to go out to the movies or to school-sponsored happenings on Saturday nights, my parents would make popcorn. We had often had company for a big meal at lunch on Saturdays, so for supper, we just snacked on apples and popcorn. And we played board games or card games. I used to love Chinese Checkers the best.
Now this is going back, you know, to before we got a television. You see, it took my Mom a long time to talk my Dad into getting a TV. By the time we got "an idiot box", as my Dad liked to call it, I was twelve years old and they were already making colour TV's.
I must have learned to love popcorn in Africa as a child, but I can't remember that. I do remember that I was allowed to request my favorite foods for my birthday parties, and even though popcorn must have been a bit difficult to get in Finland, we had popcorn. My guests, little Finnish people, were not as impressed with popcorn as I had hoped they would be. I'm willing to bet that like so many things, popcorn is quite common in Finland these days.
To me, it will always be a well-loved treat. Don't tamper with it much...I don't need fancy flavors. Just butter and salt.
My Mom and Dad, wearing the traditional Ethiopian clothing. We are back in Finland in this photo, in my Aunt Hillka's garden. We kids look as glum as we do because we have been fighting over whose turn it is to play with our second cousin's doll and toy stroller. It's about 1960.
Me and my Mom, all dressed up. This photo must have been taken on the sabbath.
Here I am with the twins, my Mom and an Ethiopian girl. I don't remember anything about the girl. My parents often hired a student, usually a boy, as help. Doubtless the boys were more ambitious to learn western ways. I believe women, being the keepers of family and cultural ties, are less willing to throw the baby out with the bath water and adopt western ways, unless it really, really makes sense to them. They are more likely to see things more globally, intuitively seeing all the consequences.
Here's my family as it was, in Ethiopia, in about 1958, I think. I'm the one shading her eyes from the sun with both hands!