Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nigh Upon Us

An advent calendar of another kind....

I've only got the cones thus far, and I may never get as far as the stuffed birds, but this is the effect I'm after.

Definitely I've got winter and Christmas on my mind these days. I've got presents stashed, and I'm thinking about making new Christmas stockings. The old set is looking a little tattered. Besides, I need a sewing project so I can further ignore my physiology.

It was -38C a couple mornings ago! And it's only November yet! I hope this isn't a doomful omen of things to come. I'm so glad Chive and Patch finished butchering the rabbits a few weeks ago so we aren't having to cope with feeding and watering under those conditions.

That's the surface chatter...

Underneath it all, I'm pondering trust, and respect, and relationship. Someone asked me a while ago whether there's a spiritual practitioner that I respect. It was a very spur-of-the-moment question, and we only had a few minutes together, and my first answer was no. But since then I've sat with it a lot longer, and I think that it's not so much a question of whether there's anyone I respect, so much as a question of trust.

There are people I respect for who they are and what they do, in spite of their weakness. And that may seem like a no-brainer, except that it's not. Not really. It hurts me that there's no perfection. A lot. I want to respect and trust someone for being perfect. For being God, actually.

There's part of me that would love to just crash and be totally vulnerable with a counselor or spiritual advisor or companion, but the rest of me knows that's foolish. I will never do that again. I will never deal with anyone, be they ever so advanced or insightful or holy, no matter how they say they love me, without filtering everything they say through my own guts and intuition and good sense. Never. We're all prone to fall and to fail. It's not only a disservice to myself to fail to "test the spirits", it's also a disservice to the person on the other side. We can't hold each other to impossible standards. It's cruel.

So I guess I'll talk with her again, and flesh things out. She's hurting, and wants answers. I don't think there are any. Sometimes everything just hurts terribly for a while. Sometimes a long while.

That's why I'm making Advent. Pretty paper helps take my mind off things for a bit.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A bit oversensitive tonight...

And why is it, that one slight hurts more than all the positive stuff feels good?


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Madcap Unveiled

I'm writing this because I'm starting to feel quite uncomfortable about saying anything regarding this issue and that's not good. I'm definitely not trying to offend by stating this point of view, and I would truly welcome other ideas that would broaden my scope.

Patch and I went to see a play in the city yesterday, around the issue of wearing hijab. It was a play designed for junior/senior high students, and overly simplistic (I thought.) The hijab-wearing character was portrayed as expressing her religion and culture, against of a neutral familial background. Her mother didn't wear hijab. Both parents actually discouraged her from wearing it, wanted her to wait until she went to university. The teen character had gone to Lebanon for a visit, fell in love with her dying grandmother, and decided to wear hijab to accentuate that closeness of faith and family.

I was raised with a Mennonite extended family. Several of the older women wore long, dark dresses and prayer caps. It was unusual, it was different, and it just was what it was. They were raised with it and due to their particular constellations of circumstances, they decided to stay with it. My grandmother didn't. She was still fairly conservative, but she wore slacks and I never saw her with a head-covering that I remember. Still, it wasn't utterly exotic in my experience. It was a part of our family and cultural "thing", like rulkuken and watermelon at fasba.

However - I've never run into someone of Mennonite background who wasn't raised wearing a prayer-cap, who suddenly decided to don one because that was her cultural background. Never. She could be out there, but I'd be particularly astonished if that decision was made in her teens. I've been around for a few years now, and I've never seen a teen wearing a head-covering who wasn't raised in a head-covering family. I suspect the same is true in Muslim circles.

What I'm saying is that I think the play's premise was disingenuous, not based on a standard experience of Muslims in Canada. I think it was used as a way to swish trickier issues under the carpet.

In the foyer outside there were several newspaper-clipping collages, of articles discussing France's decision to ban the hijab, reviews of hijab-fashion blogs... and a couple articles about women who wear niqab in Canada, who have experienced discrimination in the workplace because of that.

And this is where I think we're dealing with another issue entirely.

The niquab covers the whole face. There are situations where this might be appropriate, such as at -40C, or in the middle of sand-storm. In day-to-day life I think it's totally inappropriate, for several reasons.

First of all, humans are programmed to respond to, and bond to, and take cues from other human faces. We all do. Babies form attachments and gain confidence in interaction based on the love they see in the "mirrors" of their parents' faces. Our elastic, expressive faces are one of the peculiar qualities of our human-ness. A covered face inhibits our ability to bond with the person we're dealing with. I believe this level of interpersonal bonding and basic recognition of mutual humanity is indispensable to civil interaction. We already treat each other badly enough without further eliminating the commonality of the face that reminds us that we're dealing with another human being.

Expressions tell us more than words do. What someone says can be completely altered by how they look when they're saying it. So to cover the face removes both clarity of expression and clarity of response in an interchange between a veiled person and her partner in conversation and transaction. I would argue that it also undermines trust. I have a very difficult time assessing and trusting a relationship that I only have online, because I haven't met that person face-to-face. If I can never see your facial expressions when you talk to me? It's definitely not going to happen between us.

The face is identity, both of self and of other. Body language is important, but when we want to definitely identify someone, we look to the face. When we think of ourselves, we make reference to our faces. Our faces are important to who we are to ourselves and the people we come into contact with. We may not like our faces, but they're uniquely OURS. To be covered is to lose self within a societal context.

And perhaps this point is too bloomin' obvious, but I'll just make it anyway. The niquab is an element of cultures that treat women in ways that Canadians consider abusive, even if women say they "choose" it.

My latest acquaintance with this variety of "choice" was while reading The Secret Lives of the Saints, an expose of the polygamous Bountiful community in British Columbia. Some of the women involved insisted that it was a freely made choice. Some of those same women later left the community and then denied those statements. Yeah, they could "choose" it - or experience reprisals. That's not much of a choice.

Anti-polygamy activists, whose numbers include former polygamous wives and children, insist that polygamy is inherently a system of entrapment and degradation for women. I would argue that because of the importance of the human face to positive human interaction and identity as I outlined earlier, full face veiling accomplishes the same thing.

In Canada we've outlawed polygamy and FGM, even though they are cultural norms in other parts of the world. We've banned them because we've come to the conclusion that they're a detriment to the well-being of women, and that women have human rights equal to those of men. I think it's reasonable to argue that banning full-face veils in public is a comparable move.

Okay, so there are all my cards on the table. I don't have a problem with Muslims or Mennonites, or the home-church lady who lives down the road who thinks that God wants her to pin a doily to her hair to show her spirituality and submission. I have a problem with women's faces being covered and their vulvas scraped off. So with that in mind, please feel free to point out any holes in what I'm saying. I really am interested in hearing what you've got to add to what I'm thinking about!

And as usual, courtesy in disagreement is very much appreciated...

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm thinking....

...diaper bag. A small bag, just big enough for using as a baby-bag, but small enough to use as a purse too if one were so inclined. And in grey, very hip right now, apparently.

You know, if we were truly sensible of the seasons up here, NOBODY would wear black or grey in the winter. Sensible people would realize that the outer dreich demands the most drenched, intense colours possible. Men would flaunt fuschia fedoras, and women would wrap up in orange and lime and violet. And we'd all feel much better for it, I'm sure.

But we don't. We wear black and grey everything. How dull.

Jeepers. I think November is already seeping into my bones.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fall Update

Yes, it's been a very long time, Shadowmoss!

Used to be that everything I was thinking demanded an outlet on the page, but that's not so much the case anymore. Not that I'm not thinking, but I want my thoughts to take shape in the "real" world. It's a little frustrating. So much around me seems stuck - I want FORWARD MOVEMENT. Now!

It seems I've got a very small circle of activity at present; house, kids, work, school. Repeat. And that's as it needs to be at the moment, because I won't get to where I'm going without taking every step along the way, but jeepers... such little steps.

There are some babies on the way, so I've done a little quilting, and am thinking about a little more. There's the yard that needs to be cleaned up, as usual. Way too much acreage around here for our family. The rabbits need butchering. We won't be raising rabbits again. Maybe a repeat on the chickens next summer. My brain is being crushed under the weight of cellular physiology - I'm supposed to be able to figure out graded potentials along the cell membrane? Huh? I hosted the homeschool network kick-off event at a bowling alley in the city, cake, balloons, door-prizes, the whole schtick. I still don't have curtains on most of the windows. The cats need de-worming.

I need a nap.

I hope you're all well. I do think of you often.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Out Spoken

I've been thinking about something that happened almost a month ago now. Still thinking about it. I did something that I don't often do, but I wouldn't say that it's out of character, probably not out of character at all for anyone who's known me for more than a year or two. (Or perhaps a month or two? I'm never sure just how transparent I am. Sometimes I'm convinced I'm clear as glass and everyone else can see the little fish swimming through my brain.) But still, it's not something I often do, so I'm still in the process of review.

My homeschool association has an online members forum. I've been with this group since it was a newborn, about 8 years, so I've come to know a lot of the people, and I've done quite a lot of volunteering for the organization. It's had its ups and downs. There was a big kerfuffle a couple years ago, and some screwy book-keeping, and a bunch of core people left over that. I'm not sorry. It was a shame that it happened the way it did, but the way things were headed was looking like a train-wreck. The handful of the membership pulled together and rebirthed the association over a very difficult six months, putting in hundreds of hours in the midst of their own busy lives, and taking a lot of flak over their decision to not air all the dirty laundry to their own advantage. I respected that a lot.`

Recently, during a discussion of another topic, this woman who resembles nothing more than a spy-mole for the ousted leadership, this unbelievably aggressive, passive, non-contributing, endlessly-complaining woman, attempted to reinflame old wounds and start the whole thing up again. She does this from time to time, propping up her personal agenda with her religious beliefs and the fact that she's a lawyer, and her stultifying barrages of text that bamboozle the laity. She can be quite intimidating, in such a very sweet, concerned, uber-Catholic kind of way.

It puts the exectutive in a difficult position, because of their liability. They need to make nice with everyone for the well-being of the organization as a whole, and to protect their own backsides.

But I'm not a member of the executive. I've gone a few rounds with this lady before, from time to time, when she starts squelching the membership with her particular brand of all-knowingness.

And I let her have it between the eyes.

Right there in front of God and everyone.

I told her that I didn't want to hear anymore complaining and backbiting, no more unfavourable comparisons of our group with other groups, no more whining about what everyone else wasn't doing while she wasn't willing to make so much as a phone-call to organize a field-trip, no more gossip, no more starting fires for her own amusement, no more "suggestions" about what the rest of us "should" be discussing if she wasn't willing to share useful information, no more grand-standing on her homeschool hobby-horse regarding funding. NO MORE.

And then I sat back and waited for the storm.

I was a little nervous, but not terribly. The worst that could happen was that they'd bump me off the forum, and honestly, if a venue gets taken over by that sort of person, what good is it anyway? But confrontation has never been my strong suit, and the tension wears a bit. I slept restlessly that night.

Messages began to trickle into my inbox, thanking me for taking her on. I was made aware of and sent snippets of other e-mail conversations regarding the forum exchange, the anger of other members that this woman would try to derail our group, people's plans on how to deal with her. But then I just went and did it, eh? Sometimes it's better to just lance the wound right away, I think.

A couple days later she re-posted, and apologized. Sort of. Close enough, anyway. A mercifully brief message, compared to the novels she usually inflicts on the rest of us.

People were astonished - behind the scenes, that is. On the forum, it was politely overlooked.

And then, the original discussion reignited, and we were getting input from all kinds of places, and all sorts of fresh ideas about how to best put some new life into our programming, new faces in old places, how to reduce the load on the few and inspire people to get involved themselves and make things happen. It was lovely.

It's all past now, at least as far as the forum is concerned But me? I'm still mulling.

It's not that I regret it. I don't enjoy that sort of thing, but it needed to be done. Bullying has to be addressed, even if the bully is spiritual person, or a lawyer, or a volunteer, or a gift-giver, or a relative, a homeschooler, a brilliant scholar... it doesn't matter. Bullying has to be addressed. And I think that with very aggressive people, like this woman, it has be addressed in the same format that it's perpetrated in. She did this publicly. I could have addressed it privately, but what kind of impression does that leave with the gentler souls who frequent the forum and read these public posts? No. It needed to be answered where it happened, right there.

Who am I to call people to task? Nobody particular, but somebody enough. I'm not perfect, I don't have it altogether, and goodness knows I've probably been the problem myself in the past and will be again in the future. But for now, at this point in my life, I was the one whose eyes and heart were open enough to recognize the potential danger and make myself a lightning rod.

The danger of silence has been a big lesson for me in the past decade. I took on a spiritual ideal of not complaining about bad treatment, and the prime bully in my life, the Dear Relative, took that leeway and did her best to take my children away from me. No one was well-served by that, not even her. Thankfully it all pulled together in the end, but it was horrible at the time, for me, for the kids, for Chive, for the extended family who didn't know what to believe. Maybe they still don't, but at least I told my story where it mattered.

And I swore, Never Again. I'm going to speak out. I'm going to take the chance of being wrong, or misunderstood, but I'm going to have a voice all the same.

So I told someone off on my homeschool forum. What an activist, huh? ;-)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bag Lady

Some of us are rather laissez-faire about parenting... especially in these teen years. I'm trying to reserve my reserves for where it counts, and let everything else slide, ya know?

But I took Poppy to a Writing Camp yesterday in the south of the province, and realized with horror as I helped her unload her stuff that she'd packed most everything in plastic garbage bags! I wanted to crawl under the car! And the worst part of it is... poor kid, there really weren't any other options. She needed to bring a bunch of bedding, and what on earth do you haul that sort of thing in, if you don't have a stash of hockey bags? That was a very Bad Mum moment. Eesh.

Lesson learned. This morning, as soon as I got up, I dumped out my fabric stash, rooted around for things that have been languishing there too long, and got to work. This is the end result: Two extra large, two just large, calico camping bags. Glorified pillow-cases, really, but they should do the trick. Tomorrow I'll go buy some cording to thread through the drawstring channels, and they'll be ready to take her stuff when I go to pick her up again at the end of the week.

Whew. Saved me arse!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oddments and Fragments on Canada Day*

*Or, as my kids still call it, "O'Canada's Day". Just about slays me. Can you tell they were raised kinda Irish-Catholic, back in the days?

First of all, I think everyone should have a look at this article about exercises for the pelvic floor. Just a good idea:

Just say no to Kegel's

Nextly, WHY IS IT that the announcers at our local, Northern Alberta rodeo affect the accents of someone from Oklahoma or some such place? If you want to be authentic around here, try to sound like you've been raised on kulbasa and perogies. CANADIAN kulbasa and perogies. ;-)

I'm here in my living room, sewing and reading and prowling the internet seeing whom I may devour, and listening to the rodeo happening across the road. The ambulance just came and took someone away. They "think" he's going to make it.

I can't stand watching most of the events. The damage happening to the human bodies involved absolutely horrifies me. I see these cowboys fifty years later, and it ain't pretty. Sometimes when I mention this, people tell me I should encourage bull-riding, since it's likely to result in business. I try to be polite.

And lastly, I splurged and ordered myself this set of popsicle molds:

I've been slowly trying to inch away from plastic in my kitchen. In the last couple weeks, since I started making popsicles regularly again, I've been noticing the plasticky taste. I don't know. It's probably not a huge deal when it's not something that's being cooked, but still. I just don't care for it. So since I needed a new set of molds anyway, and this almost ran me down in an internet search, and it's CANADIAN BRED AND BORN, I thought I'd give them a try.

If you're intrigued yourself, you can have a look here:

The Tickle Trunk

Happy O'Canada's Day!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Apparently I found a new template... I think I like it. More "Prairie Sky"-like.


So I've been making yoghurt again lately. It was something I'd fallen out of the habit of doing, actually for so long that I'd forgotten exactly how it's done. I looked up the instructions, and made a batch up, quick as that.

Now, almost every recipe says to heat the milk to 185 degrees, and I never figured out why. I always assumed that it was to kill any pathogens, but since we buy pasteurized milk that wasn't a concern. (Not that it would be much of a concern anyway, if I could find myself raw milk from a local farmer, but that's not the point of the story.) In any case, not being the adventurous type, I always followed those directions to the letter.

Except last time. Last time I rebelled. "Self," I said, "Branch out. Live large. Try heating that milk to a mere 110 and see what happens."

What happens, dear readers, is yoghurt soup. It's got all the tangy bacterial stuff goin' on, but it doesn't thicken. So I went web-picking, and found out that this is because:

"At that temp (referring to 185 degrees), the whey proteins will denature and coagulate to enhance the viscosity and texture."
- Some ask-a-question site.

There you have it. This afternoon, I, much chastened, heated my milk to 185. I like my yoghurt thick.

I know that sometime in my distant past I posted a how-to on yoghurt making, but in case any one round these parts wants to know, here it is again.

You need:

Milk, about as much as you'd like to see turn into yoghurt.
Plain yoghurt, as stuffed full of pro-biotics as you can find, a few tablespoons or so.
Cooking thermometer.
Cheesecloth (optional).

In a large saucepan, slowly heat the milk to 185 degrees, stirring occasionally so it doesn't cook to the bottom. When I got it there this time, I turned off the burner and put the lid on for a few minutes, which supposedly enhances the thickening process. (I'll let you know how that works out later.)

Once that heat has been reached, set the pan into a few inches of cold water in the sink. Cool it to 110 degrees. Take it out of the water. Stir in your yoghurt, which will start the bacterial process.

Keep your lidded yoghurt warm for at least 8 hours, or better yet, overnight. I've done this overtop a heating vent in the winter when the furnace is going all the time, with a cardboard box over the saucepan to keep the heat in. (This is why you need to keep the lid on, so you don't enrich your yoghurt with dust.) I've also done it by turning the light on in the oven overnight, covering the stove-top vent, and letting it do its time there. Right now my yoghurt is on the outside railing, where the sun was pretty strong. That's about to change, and I notice the sky is already getting dark, so maybe I'll try Chive's idea of putting it in the big cooler with a hot water bottle.

After it's had its working time, you can either just use it as is, or strain it with cheesecloth. I did that the time before last, and quite liked the extra "dryness" of the end product. I put the whey on the compost heap. Does anyone else have any other ideas for it?

Then put the yoghurt into whatever container suits your fancy. Not so hard, huh?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

St. Robertson

There is no nonsense so gross that society will not,
at some time,
make a doctrine of it and defend it
with every weapon of communal stupidity.

-Robertson Davies

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Quick - Before I forget!

For some reason, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of food around here, for all the bulging pantries and whatnot. Could be something to do with me being away for school, I suppose... there were a lot of unwashed dishes lingering on the counters too.

So I was casting about in my tired mind for what on earth we'd have for supper tonight, and then I remembered that a client had given me a big bag of fresh spinach that needed to be used.

Spinach. Here are my two experiences of spinach:

1. Three years old. (One of my very few early memories, and that's a measure of how deeply I was scarred.) My babysitter served up boiled spinach for lunch. I remember the horrible sliminess of it on my tongue, and gagging, and making an inner vow that NEVER AGAIN would anything so vile pass my lips.

2. Twenty years old, or thereabouts. Feeling rather elderly and sophisticated, and determined that my childhood prejudice need not stand in the way of varied culinary experience as an adult. Ordered a big fresh spinach salad with raspberry vinaigrette. It was unbelievably bitter. I don't know which godforsaken grotto they harvested the stuff from, but it was unfit for human consumption. The sliminess was mercifully absent, but the taste, while different from boiled hanks of greenery, was no better. Another vow made.

But here I am at forty, and this lovely lady gave me a big bag of spinach fresh from her garden, and I want to eat it, for her sake and mine. I'm famished for greens. So I girded my spiritual loins, and sat down at the computer to find a recipe to use what I had at hand.

Found it long enough to make it, and then promptly lost it before I could bookmark.

You know what? It was good. The spinach was good all by itself, and made into this salad, it was wonderful. I guess spinach is back on my list of possible things to grow, if my garden ever decides to put out.

So before my eager cerebral delete-function effectively erases the recipe from my memory banks, here it is:

Spinach, enough to feed whichever multitude you're working on.

Hard-boiled eggs, one or two per serving

Bacon, about three strips per serving, diced up smallish.

Fry up the bacon until it's almost crisp. Turn off the pan. Take the bacon bits out and let them degrease themselves on a piece of paper towel, and remove most of the drippings from the pan. Now, for four servings, I left about 3 tablespoons in the frying pan, so that gives you an idea of how much to reserve for the dressing.

For four servings, I added to the drippings

1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar

and cooked them on medium heat for 3 minutes. I then mixed together

1/2 c. water
1/4 c. vinegar

in a measuring cup, and then added them to the pan, stirring like mad while the liquid took on the cornstarch and thickened. When it's cooked itself clear and slightly viscous, it's ready.

Have your (washed, dried and ripped bite-size) spinach in individual bowls, sprinkle on bacon bits, and slice an egg or two to spread over the top. Over the works, spoon a bit of dressing from the pan.

(In the interest of aesthetics, I took the picture pre-dressing. But it still looks abundantly edible post-dressing, believe me.)


Chive said the only problem with the recipe was that there wasn't enough.

And school? I'm finished. I passed my exams. I came home and slept. I'm ready for acupuncture in the fall! Bring it on, Popeye!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Coop (Not "co-op", though he's probably got one...)

I confess: I lurk.

No, I'm not just conjugating. I really do lurk. I have a lot of blogs saved into my "favourites" column that I spin through everyday, and leave nary a comment. Usually (and this is the confession part), I drive past these blogs like a rubbernecker driving past a crash site - horrified fascination. There are lives out there that appall me but I just can't stop peeking in to see what the train-wreck consists of today. I don't leave a comment, because what on earth do you say when someone lives oblivious to the fact that they're continuously shooting themselves in the foot/feet/groin/insert-body-part-here?

Sometimes my fascination is less macabre, and more just relief that I don't have to live like that. I found this book reviewed on one of those sites. A quiverfull site. Are you familiar? "Quiverfull Families" take the viewpoint that couples should have as many children as "God sends", without restricting fertility in any way, natural or otherwise. A lot of those sites spend a great deal of time proselytizing regarding their pro-pregancy stance, but they also tend to be folks who garden and raise chickens, and live frugally, and write about that sort of thing too. And for that, I lurk meaningfully.

This book was reviewed on a quiverfull blog. The blogstress was rather disappointed in the author's lack of True Faith, but she conceded that his agrarian lifestyle was admirable, and the book was well-written. It is.

I loved this book. Funny, real, honest. I don't want to do a review per se, but if you're looking for something to read, you'd be doing yourself a favour with this one.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Every once in a while you're given the privilege of having your perspective adjusted. That happened to me yesterday. The world looks different this morning. I'm re-evaluating my responses to the everyday situations around me, working at letting go of what "should" be and seeing what is with grateful-er eyes.

It's not my story to tell. But I'm a bit player, and again, it's my privilege to be that. Everything could change and maybe it will.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Unfinished Business

I'm off to visit a friend today, with an unfinished quilt in tow. Hers. Her birthday/law-school-graduation quilt that I've been chipping away at for the last couple years. How embarrassing! And it's her birthday (again) next week. So today the quilt comes along, as proof that I haven't just forgotten, and that I will eventually get that binding tacked on!

It's a nine-patch with alternate half-square triangles that form a diamond pattern in the background. Unfortunately I'm not the fussiest piecer, so a lot of those triangles have very blunt points. Oh well. Overall it still looks alright.

Exams next weekend, and then my time is mine to fill as I please!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

We Went to the Lake

Sunday morning I announced that I was going to the lake. Any cheerful, polite folk in the vicinity were welcome to come with me. The sibling rivalry was uninvited. Surprisingly enough, three other people made the trip too.

And the canoe, Chive's "mid-life crisis". Some men need a little red Corvette.
He got a little red canoe. He's good that way.

We packed amid the other events of the day, and arrived with a vanload of food. It was quickly devoured as canoe-fuel. Life-jackets were duly snapped on, and away we went.

It was an unbelievably beautiful afternoon. I don't remember the last time I enjoyed myself that much. I've been under a grey sky for longer than I can remember, but the sun is definitely breaking through at regular intervals now. I sat there with a paddle in my hand and just laughed. My heart was light on the water.

We went a few kilometres and sighted a sandy(ish) little beach to pull into.

Patch was the first one up on the shore, and within seconds he was calling. "Mum! Quick! Bring your camera!" There were four swallow-tails resting on the sand in the shade, their wings spread out wide. I crept as softly as I could, but they took flight. Eventually one came back to rest. And do you see the deer tracks? Everyone comes to the water sooner or later.

The colours are lovely, especially up close.

Wading in the cold water was fabulous. I think I raised the core temperature of the lake by seveal degrees, all by myself. My feet have been really hot lately, and I barely felt the cold bite at all.

We splashed around and threw driftwood back from whence it came and stalked the butterflies which continued to circle after I disturbed them. And eventually it was over, the moment was sated, and we tipped ourselves back into the canoe and headed for home.

Unaccountably, in spite of all that went before, it was a truly beautiful afternoon. I think I'll remember this one for a long, long time.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Recovering Bigot Gets Another Chance to Practice

This morning I'm feeling a little like a character from a Flannery O'Connor short-story, but I can't really pinpoint which one. I shudder to think of the possibilities. Here's my account of the day.

On Sunday morning, as I was madly prepping food to go on our "impromptu" lakeside picnic, my husband showed up at the back door saying that "John" needed a glass of water. I thought he said "Joe", and rolled my third eye for the sake of the guy who always shows up for food and never helps with anything if he can possibly get out of it. But it wasn't Joe. It was some guy I'd never seen before. I said hi, and went back to what I was doing. He went to the bathroom, and I hid my purse.

Chive brought him into the house and gave him the water. He took a couple pills with it. Chive told me that John had gotten his truck stuck in the swamp beside our auction mart. John said he'd been looking for a place to pull over and sleep since he'd been driving for a long time, and hadn't realized that it was private property. I was having a hard time understanding that, so I assumed that he'd pulled in on the other side of our property line, onto a farm-trail that led into the neighbouring field. But no, he was stuck in our yard. Strange. I shrugged and went on baking.

He and Chive sat down together in the living room. I asked him if he'd had breakfast. He said no, and I volunteered to make him an omelette. "With cheese?" I asked. "Only mozzarella," he said, "I'm fussy about cheese." I shrugged. Not like I don't have mozza in the fridge. "With bacon?" "I'm allegic to bacon. And beef. And chicken." I shrugged, and went on cooking.

I served him his omelette and sat down to chat with him at table. I asked him about where he was from, where he was going, what he did. Am I nosy? Probably looks that way, but what I really am is suspicious. I want to know what his connections are, who he knows, who knows him, how he fits into the world as I know it. And all the while I'm trying to keep an open heart, to find a place for him in the world that makes sense, that means that I can relax and trust him. He's Native. Around here, there's a huge amount of prejudice against Natives. It's what I grew up with, but I don't want to be part it. I'm working overtime to not suspect. I'm telling my red-alerts to shut up. I'm assuming that what I'm hearing is the voices of the past. I don't want to be an bigoted asshole. I'm shaming myself.

He says he's from a community two hours east of here. So I'm thinking, why do you need to pull over and rest? What were you doing all night? He says he works for an organization there for at-risk youth. I never knew that had that institution in that town. I tell him about the sweat I wasn't able to attend the day before because of the short notice, and how I'm nervous about being able to breathe in there. He tells me how it goes, how to get down low and take short breaths. He tells me about how to snare a fish, how he and his grandad used to snare rabbits. I ask him if he knows anyone in ***** Creek, since I know people from there. He looks confused, shakes his head, no, he doesn't think so.

Chive keeps trying to talk to him about how to get the truck out, but John doesn't seem to care. He says his friend is going to come to meet him at the restaurant, they'll figure it out later.

He takes his dishes to the sink, shakes my hand, thanks me for breakfast. And leaves. I watch him walking through the trees into town.

The truck is still there. The truck is still there a few hours later. I send Poppy out to get the license plate number. They're Saskatchewan plates. I phone it into the police to check if it's been stolen. The dispatcher says that John had been found sleeping in a ditch by another resident, and the constables were on their way out. Yes, the truck was stolen. My heart sank.

I gave them my cell phone number. We went to the lake.

I talked to the local constable again this morning. She's taking statements. "John" came from Saskatchewan with the stolen truck. He'd stolen it from a woman, with violence, using a weapon. He'd just got out of jail for the same crime. He's in custody now, being transported back to Saskatchewan.

Mercy. There so many possibilities in this world, and so many of them don't come to pass. Some of them do.

I'm still processing my actions and reactions. Not just what I did, and what came out of my mouth, but what was in my heart. Am I still a slave to prejudice? Do I accept people as people, regardless of colour or culture? Do I really? Will I still be able to do that tomorrow? If someone shows up at my door again, will we start with a fresh slate?

I suspected him. But I suspected myself too.

And I find myself wondering, how much do mozzarella omelettes matter?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

This Day In Pictures


Juliet and Lolita

Maggie, in her favourite sleeping position.

Poppin' Peas!

Micro-lettuce, with a macro-lens.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thankful Thursday

And then the sky just opened up....

It was a full day. I tried to sleep in, through the rambunction of the early morning around here, and while I did that I dreamt of seeing seven tornadoes on the horizon as I searched in vain for my home. I was sure it was there somewhere. Seven tornadoes and a lost home. I wonder what it means, or if it means anything. Sometimes dreams do, I believe. I'll keep thinking about it.

But once I was up and about, well, there were messes to go, places to clean. Isn't that always the way? I cleared enough kitchen counter to make breakfast and sat down with that to compose my list for the day. Do you have a list? I need one. If I don't make a list for myself, I wander through the day with the vague notion that almost certainly something needs doing, but I can't for the life of me think of what it is. Or I start a needful project, run off to attend to something else, and then completely forget what I'd begun until it jumps up and bites me on the arse.

1. Pick up the chicken. We're not raising chickens this year, and I haven't been entirely happy about that, but so it goes. The empty freezer in the porch glared accusingly. So when the Co-Op announced a sale on chicken, I called them and ordered 10 CASES of eight each! Eighty chickens! They were due to arrive today.

2. E-mail study notes. A few days ago one of my classmates had requested some notes on nerve roots and paths, and the last couple days were so busy that I hadn't had a chance to respond. I didn't have this information anywhere except on my home-made flashcards, but I thought it would be a good review to type it all up "formally". In my case, repetition is the mother of memory.

3. Seed more lettuce, and dill. I ripped open that dill seed-package and nearly snorted the seeds right up into my sinuses. Gor, I love the smell!

I started with the notes. Brachial plexus: C5, C6, C7, C8, T1; musculocutaneous, axillary, radial, median, ulnar, and all their winding ways down the arm. Lumbosacral plexus: L2, L3, L4, L5, S1, S2; the obturator, the femoral and the ever-bifurcating sciatic splitting its path down thigh and calf. I sent it to the lady who'd made the request, and then to the rest of the class, figuring maybe someone else could use it.

On to the garden. Seeding turned out to be a larger matter than I'd originally conceived. First of all, once I got all close at hand, I found that there were quite a few clots of quackgrass and dandelion that needed routing, and thistle that needed to be discouraged. Our thistles spread by rhizome as well as seed, so it's not just a matter of extirpation. You have to return again and again to the same spot, since the demonic root will continue to send up shoots to invade your beets. If you keep after it, it does eventually lose heart and vigour, but it's not a job for the easily dismayed. Think years, not months.

After that, I turned my attention to the unsown bed, but it hadn't been worked up much since last year, so I got to spend a fair bit of time turning soil and combing it smooth with a rake. It's pleasing to see all that chicken litter mixed into the clay, and even more pleasing to see how many earthworms we've got this year. The first couple years after we bought this place, it had been so hard-used, and driven on, and starved, that worms were very few and far between. Now I turn up several with every shovelful. Glory!

The sky started to spit at me, so I drew my little lines in the beds for the lettuce seed, threw a handful at the dirt for the dill, mixed it all up, hung up my shovel and made for the house to clean my filthy feet.

I checked my e-mail. There was a reply from a classmate, assuring me that I, Madcap, TOTALLY ROCK for sending the notes. I believe this means she was thankful. It's Thursday, after all. ;-)

Wolfed a sandwich, went questing for chicken.

While the young lad in the meat department went hunting down my order, I strolled the aisles to fill my cart. Toilet paper. I buy a lot of toilet paper. Chive rolls his eyes, but I tell you, having a closet full of TP is a reassuring thing. Apples, cheese, salmon... I particularly buy what's on sale, and lots of it, especially non-perishables.

Sometimes I hear stories, usually from the States, about storms rolling in and people frantically jamming the grocery stores for foodstuffs and all, and I can hardly comprehend the lives they must lead. Why on earth would anyone with a kitchen not stock their shelves? The other day Chive and I were talking about disasters, and he went browsing through the cupboards and reckoned that we have enough food around for about three months. I'm working on that. I'd like it to be six months, or a year, but hey - three months is better than nothing, huh? But it's beyond my ken that anyone wouldn't have enough on hand to last even three days.

As I was loading the cases into the trunk and back seat, the rain began to get serious about its business. The drops were large. And wet. By the time I got home, puddles were merging to become lakes in our drive. I hollered for the kids and we unloaded. As we ferried the cases over the water and into the porch, the rain reconsidered its mission in life and became hail. Large hail. I tried to cower under my hair while I ripped open boxes and unloaded them into my freezer, but it didn't avail me much. Hailstones the size of my fingernails smacked me in the back of the neck and melted down my shirt. By the time we were finally finished, all three of us were as wet as mermaids. Poppy and Patch stripped off their coats and shoes and went screaming around the yard like the wild things they are, chasing the poor soggy kitties and wrestling each other to the ground.

I, much less entertainingly, sloshed into the house, toweled down, and checked my e-mail. Now I had a message assuring me of goddess-hood. Again, I believe this meant the sender was thankful of the notes.

Looking out the window, I was thankful too. Thankful that my plants aren't big enough to be damaged by the hail. Thankful that I got my seeds in before the deluge. Thankful that we're no longer living in a wildfire zone. Thankful that I have a lot of food in storage, and need not worry about feeding my family. Thankful that it was just hail, and not seven tornadoes, and that my home hasn't grown legs to go on walkabout.

And now I'm thankful that my bed is waiting so patiently. Why do I always stay vertical so long when horizontal is so wonderful?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ahh, Spring!

And here we have... spring. In Alberta. May 29, 2010. Two weeks ago it was 29C. Today it was 2C. And snowing. And snowing, and snowing, and snowing, and snowing. This is moisture, and after the fires I stoically do not complain, but will someone please give dear ol' Mama Nature some sense of proportion?

Yesterday the clouds were lowering and grey, and I went out to the garden to check whether or not anything had sprouted yet. Yes! Lettuce and potatoes so far. I'm assuming it's lettuce. The green bi-leafly bits are slightly thicker in the rows I marked after seeding than in the surrounding territory. Unfortunately in the earliest stages my lettuce plants look exactly like the weeds, so I'm taking the wheat-and-tares approach until I can reliably tell them apart. The potatoes were just barely breaking the ground, looking very sturdy and green where the cracks were big enough to allow a glimpse of things to come.

Tonight Chive went out and put a towel-blanket over the infant lettuce. Yes, it's a cool-weather plant and all, but I don't think the definition of "cool" extends to "below freezing"when applied to tender greenery. The potatoes will simply have to grit their rooty teeth and bear it. Hopefully the bulk of them is still sheltered enough by the earth that they won't take it too hard.

Books read this week: Dance of the Dissident Daughter (Sue Monk Kidd), The Burning House (Jay Ingram), The Sanctuary Sparrow (Ellis Peters). Oh, and Clinical Massage Therapy, of course. Can't forget that.

Present Projects: Rabbit hutches by Chive. We've located a buck and a doe, and by this time next week we should have them on the premises, merrily fruiting and multiplying. I think I'm starting to feel like a farmer. Or a zoo-keeper. Pictures of such to follow.

Patch to Poppy: "Why do you take so many pictures of yourself? Do you think you're going to forget what you look like or something?"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

W.I.P. Wednesday

3.5 weeks before my FINAL FINAL exam. The work-in-progress this week is my studying; flash-cards, mental rehearsal, re-reading all the material we covered, finding bodies to practice techniques and assessments on.

And then I'll be done, for good or ill. Sometimes I can hardly believe this. Four years ago I had no inkling that my life would be taking this turn. Three years ago I knew I wanted to do something with my hands and healing, but massage really wasn't on top of my list. Shortly after that, I figured out that if I wanted to be an acupuncturist, I was going to have to find a route that would get me there more quickly and easily than wallowing through upgrading and a token B.A. That route turned out to be massage training.

I'm glad. I don't do "massage" very much, in the way that people think of it. I treat conditions, using myofascial release, pin-and-stretch (intense), cranio-sacral therapy, some osteopathic techniques, and of course, acu-points. Helping people become more functional and move with less pain is incredibly rewarding. I love my work.

And in September, I'm actually going to finally take my first class in the acupuncture program. Hallelujah!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Q&Q

Photo credit: grafixar from

“To be a book-collector is to combine
the worst characteristics of a dope fiend
with those of a miser.”

- Robertson Davies

I was dusting my bookshelves yesterday, and noting that although I've become quite disciplined about getting rid of those which I neither love nor find useful, there are still a LOT of books living with us. Butler's Lives of the Saints (2 full editions!), Gene Logsdon and a plethora of other DIY and gardening books, quilting manuals, all the Gerald Morris knight-series, encyclopedias of Jewish folklore, the Portofino trilogy, miscellaneous novels, the Cadfael mysteries...

Who won't you part with?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pssst... Freaky Friday

Sometimes I wonder what love is, and do I really love my kids.

Now I know. I have a snake living in my home. I've peeled back millenias of evolutionary repulsion in order to make my kid happy. Must be love.

It's a ball-boa. It eats 2 mice every second week, and poops once in the same time-frame. It doesn't bark (huge plus), and the shedding is contained to its tank, not my trousers and sweaters. Actually, it's not as horrifying as I thought. I'm able to keep the shuddering to a minimum.

My son has spent a goodly portion of the last three months researching reptiles, memorizing facts, navigating through the internet in order to get the information he wanted. Just because he was interested. That sort of thing makes my heart glad.

Yesterday morning I called our homeschool centre to find out if I had any funding left. Turns out I hadn't submitted anything at all. I checked my reciepts, subtracted, and found out we had, more or less (... well, a little less) enough to buy a snake and its accoutrements.

Patch is over the moon. And I, apparently, am the coolest mum ever. Not a bad return for suppressing a few basic instincts, huh?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thanks on Thursday

The very most important thing to be thankful for today is the RAIN. I know the photo doesn't really show it well, but it's been misting and drizzling, and sometimes outright pouring, over the last 24 hours. The brush-fire has been brought under control and is no longer spreading.

Thanks be to the fire-fighters, the incredible folks who do such a dangerous job. All of them, but especially our local crew, mostly composed of volunteers. Yesterday there was a fantastic newspaper article about them, how they've left bed and board, farm and family, in order to save the homes of their neighbours. And the neighbours and families, they've picked up the empty spaces at home, seeding crops, taking over calving and watering, keeping things going until the fire-fighters get back.

Right now I'm very proud to be part of this community.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Torpid Tuesday

It's hot. Almost 30C. I'm sure there are those of you for whom that's a pleasant mid-winter's day, but it was only a few short weeks ago that I finally became acclimatized to -30C, and the ricocheting temperatures are giving me climactic whiplash. Uufda.

And there's wind. And fire. Our area is in drought, and there are wildfires burning far too close to our town. A quick windshift is all it would take, and Gawdswallop could be no more. Not that I think about that much, but it's sort of there in the back of the mind, you know? I spent a few shifts at the community hall this weekend, doing meal prep for the 250 provincial fire-fighters who are camped out in the field across from our house. Those guys are amazing. They go full-on from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., and then crash in tents and do it all over again the next day. Bless their black boots.

I ought to be studying (Of course, but when shouldn't I be studying? I think I'm close to study-coma state. There's simply no study left in me.), but I'm gardening instead. Apparently my head is in a better state than its been for the past few years, because I'm actually thinking about what to plant, and where to plant it, and how to pry up the dirt and get it to accept a few seeds.

The whole gardening thing sort of leapt upon me from behind the shed and rassled me to the ground. Literally two weeks ago it was still snowing. This week there are dust-devils everywhere, and I'm out there with a hoe, busting up clods and spreading the chicken litter from last summer.

No chickens this year. There are several reasons, and I don't really want to go into it. Maybe some meat-rabbits. Apparently they're not all that easy to come by in this region, so I've been tracking them down through the homeschool network. Hopefully I don't find myself traveling more than an hour to gather them into the fold.

Chive took the first two rows of the garden space for potatoes. Last year they were the only thing that survived, so he wasn't going to waste time hoping that lettuce would germinate when he figures he's got a sure bet with potatoes. That leaves two more readied rows for other things. I put some lettuce in this morning, but I can't quite commit to buying a package of something else. Why this is a problem, I cannot say. Must be the lingering after-effects of the lobotomy...

Peas. There you go. Of COURSE we have to have peas to graze on. What's the point of a garden without fresh peas? I shall go anon to the Co-Op and buy myself some pea-seeds. And maybe carrots, though I have to admit that carrots have never done well for me. One of the mysteries of the universe. I thought carrots were a starter-vegetable for the agriculturally inept to sharpen their pitchforks on, but the tines of my fork remain blunt in the carrot patch.

Other than that? We keep hauling old auction-mart garbage to the dump, tearing down disintegrating fences, planning to plant fruit-trees and bushes. This place will supply all my needs for busy-ness for the next decade, if not longer.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday, and was it ever.

Why is it, WHY is it that my fantasies about how parenting is "supposed" to work can't conveniently work out in reality? I keep finding myself having to take positions and enforce them against the hordes, and this is NOT HOW IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE! Jeepers.

I keep reminding myself that eventually this is all going to work out, that eventually what I'm saying and modeling is going to take root and bear fruit, but baby, I'm running on faith with that today, believe me.

Sometimes I wish I were a drinker....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

W.I.P. Wednesday

A baby quilt, for the baby of someone who babysat my little ones all those years ago... I can say with no reservation that I'm utterly, utterly done with that stage of my own life, but I wish them well, and I sure like making little quilts!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Ross Sisters - Solid Potato Salad

Check out this offering from 1944 - you've got your singing, your dancing, your hotpants, your contortionism, your swinging from the hayloft.... Happy Tuesday!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Community Acupuncture, aka Gospel Train

Get on board, a-little childrun
Get on board, a-little childrun
Get on board, a-little childrun
There's room for many-a-more...

And here's the internal war I've been waging with myself over the past few years. I love acupuncture. LOVE it, and I'm not using that word lightly. I think it's a fabulous tool for regaining and maintaining health of all sorts; physical, mental, spiritual. AND... it's very expensive. The going rate in this area is between $70-$90 per treatment. Per treatment! Holy crackers!

That, my friends, is not sustainable health care for the most of us, especially when you consider that acupuncture works best on injury or acute chronic conditions if it's administered at least 1X/week, usually between 6-10 weeks, and then at maintenance levels after that.

There are all sorts of reasons given for this, but what it boils down to is that when acupuncture crossed the ocean to the new world, it needed credibility, and it decided that credibility could be gained by adopting the standard western medical model: 1 client, 1 practitioner, 1 room, and given the nature of acupuncture treatment, for 1 hour. And if you look at it that way, well yeah, you'd have to charge a lot to cover your building rent and the cost of the education that got you there, and enough to make a living besides.

The downside of this, from a practitioner's point of view, is that it severely limits your circle of clientele. $70-$90/hour? That eliminates about 75% of people from seeing acupuncture as a possibility for themselves. Another 20% of us (those with health benefits) can afford some treatment, but certainly not on a weekly basis for very long, and maybe 5% of the population can afford to address their health and/or pain problems with acupuncture on a regular schedule.

It's hard to build a thriving practice if you can only count on a sliver of that last 5% to partake of what you're offering.

And then me, I'm thinking, "I'm going to stick a few needles in someone and let them percolate for half an hour, and for that I'll charge them $70?" Hmmmm.... even a conscience as leathery as my own finds a problem with that.

I've forgotten the actual statistic, but I believe that in North America, a large majority of acupuncturists are no longer practicing acupuncture 5 years after they graduate. The model simply doesn't work very well unless you can tap into an elite clientele.

Consequently you hear a lot of griping on acupuncture message boards about the masses not being committed to their health, etc. But really, come on! If someone's making minimum wage, they're barely paying the rent, never mind taking care of the degeneration of their knees. And on the other-other hand (have I used up all my hands yet? I warn you, I'm like a Hindu goddess in that regard), I have NO PATIENCE with people who say they can't afford treatment when they're sipping a $5 coffee.

This was going somewhere...


This is a different business model. It's not 1:1:1:1. With community acupuncture, multiple clients are treated simultaneously. Generally speaking, you use recliners instead of tables, and they're all in a big room together. People remain clothed, rolling up pants and sleeves, and most of the points used are from the knee to the foot, shoulder to hand, neck, face, head. Fees are on a sliding scale, usually from $15-$40 per treatment, often with an initial $10 surcharge for the first appointment to cover the paperwork and extra time involved in reviewing your medical history.

And here, my friends, is a video to give it flesh.

I was thinking about this concept all on my own up here in Northern Alberta, and consider my surprise when I found it all assembled and ready to use down in the States! No need to reinvent the wheel. Someday I'm going to be an acupuncturist, and I do believe that this is the way I'm going to go. It sits well in my heart.

I hear the car wheels rumblin'
And a-rolling through the land...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Tutorial of a Different Kind

Photo credit: schmitee from

It was The Day. I turned FORTY. Finally one of the big girls!

Now for the birthday present.

I'm constantly seeing clients who have upper back pain. You probably know this pain. This is the knot on the inside border of your shoulder blade, or higher up in the traps, something like that.

Obviously I can't open an online clinic, but I can show you a combination of stretch and strengthening that goes a long way toward alleviating some of that upper back tension. I give these instructions to clients almost every day.

When the pectoralis major muscles are over-strong, they pull toward the centre and rotate the humerus (upper arm bone) forward, which creates a head-forward, rounded-back posture that over-stretches the smaller, weaker rhomboids between your shoulder blades. When the rhomboids are in a constant state of stretch, they spasm in an attempt to regain their optimal length, which HURTS. This sequence addresses both.

So first off, you need to stretch out those pec major muscles on your chest. They're a type of muscle called "postural", which means that in general they tend to be strong and tend to shorten. They need to let go first, before trying to strengthen the back. The pec major originates along your sternum (breastbone), and attaches at the upper humerus. Here's a picture, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Here's the Lovely Poppy showing the stretch:

Stand beside a wall, and place your forearm along it. Lean forward, until you feel the stretch across your chest. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Do the same to the other side.

Here's a picture of it from behind:

Right. Now that the front is less tense, it's time to work on the rhomboids in back. The thing is, and here's the thing, that because these back muscles are spasming, trying to pull the shoulder blades back into position, it feels like they need to be stretched. THEY DO NOT NEED TO BE STRETCHED. They need to regain tone, so they stop firing off distress signals.

So here's Poppy demonstrating a strengthening exercise:

Stand straight. Drop your shoulders, and keep 'em dropped. (Shoulders have a tendency to migrate north when we're concentrating, which is another piece of the upper-back-pain problem.) Bend your elbows to 90 degrees, and bring them back, pinching your shoulderblades together. Then, when you've got maximum contraction, bring your fists forward slightly, maybe an inch, until you just start to feel that your losing the contraction between your shoulder-blades. Hold this for 10-15 seconds. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

When I first learned this sequence, I'd been having constant misery in my upper back for many years, and I would do the stretch/strengthen combo many, many times per day. Now that it isn't nearly the chronic problem that it was, I do it maybe 3-4X/day, enough to counteract the habitual postures of life and work.

If you came to my clinic presenting this problem, I'd do some myofascial release work on the pecs, and give the rhomboids some tone, and then I'd give you these exercise. Since I can't see you all under my hands, at least I can give you something to try at home. Just another piece of the pie. Or cake, I suppose.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

So Long...?

Kate, I'm hoping it's an April Fool joke.

If not, I'm very sorry, and I'll miss you.

Take care.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sap Rising

Photo credit: bosela from

In Chinese medicine terms, spring is the season that correlates with the Wood element; rising energies, forward motion, plans and instigations. The organs associated are Liver and Gall-bladder. The colour is green, the positive emotion is benevolence, as in benevolent action towards promoting justice, the negative emotion is ANGER.

I'm feeling a lot of Wood energy this morning, this month. Sometimes it's anger, but overall it's like I'm finally returning to my original nature, my natural disposition towards creativity, planning, making things happen. Lord, it's been such a long time... Years. Finally I'm not trudging through depression anymore - it's spring in every sense!

And part of this is that I'm pushing some issues that were in danger of being left to die a slow death. Last fall I found out that a practitioner had been slagging me and my husband online. Talk about angry! And as hard as that was, and as angry as I was, I think it really lit the fire under my ass that has warmed me into action and interaction with life again.

A few weeks ago, after months of silence from the regulating board, I wrote an e-mail asking what had happened to my case, since I hadn't heard anything since the initial reception. That was difficult for me to do. A part of me wants to just let it fall between the cracks, the part of me that feels like everything is actually my fault, and that any grievance I have against anyone else will turn on me and become my own death sentence. But I took a big breath and wrote it anyway. My rational mind knows that what went down was completely out of bounds, and happened even before I had any significant dealings with this person, and that an impartial third party has no choice but to recognize that, especially since I have it in writing. I try to listen to my rational mind.

Yesterday I received a letter in the mail, stating that the grievance process was going forward, and scheduling an appointment with us to take our oral statements. Everything in me that had been dormant leapt into overdrive; anxiety, anger. Since then I've been trying to round up these wild cows and refocus. But jeepers - the anger is huge and explosive, the anxiety runs my heart a little faster, worries me into taking some of the blame for something I never had a hand in. Good thing I've opened a more constructive outlet for it. More constructive than the violence I'd begun to fantasize about, anyway. Destructive for her, possibly. Constructive for me. And ultimately, if it deconstructs her hubris towards clients, that's a win for her too, though I'm sure it won't feel like it at the time. And for her other clients, whom I assume she treats in the same way. Though maybe not so much anymore, since she's been found out.

I used to be a very angry person all the time, and I trained myself out of it. Part of that was religious ideals, part of it was sheer practicality. Ya gotta get along to get along, you know? Inviting people to f*** off and die doesn't usually help matters much, in any situation. But I trained myself too well. I trained myself into something I'm not, and it was killing me. This rising sap that's so much a part of my make-up needs to be acknowledged, because it's the source of my creation and the fantasies that lead to action. My sparkling frustration is a signal that something is NOT RIGHT. And that's good to know. Now I need to learn to take those sparks and light a torch that can lead me into parts unknown, to slay the dragons that decimate the inner countryside.

Speaking of dragons... I actually have a bit of an affinity for them, my last phrase notwithstanding. Not Disney dragons, or dragons as a symbol of evil, but Chinese dragons. In Asian culture, dragons are water spirits, a good omen. I once had a marvellous dream about a cloud dragon, twisting in the mist in front of me. I'm not sure what it meant, but I tucked it away in my heart and think about it from time to time. It's a something. Someday I think I'll know.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Calling Mary Anne!

I most daftly lost your address - could you send it again please? I have something to send...


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Salmon Dip

I don't think I've posted this recipe before, but the spirit's moving me now. I've been up for the past hour, since 5 a.m., prepping food for the day since supper doesn't make itself and I'm committing the Great Wednesday Runaround. So I'm pulling chickens out of the freezer, peeling potatoes, mulling over veggies - as well as packing for the trip.

One of the things on my list was this salmon dip, more for the travel portion of the day than the supper end. It's tasty protein, portable, and gluten-free. I find travelling GF to be a pain in the knickers. With rice-crackers, this stuff is marvellous. I got the recipe from my sister-in-law, and I don't know where she got it, but I'm forever grateful.

So -

1 brick cream cheese
1 tin salmon
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
generous dusting of dill
fresh ground black pepper

Mix. Eat with rice crackers.

Actually, I don't use the pepper anymore, as it seems to annoy my body into constant hunger, but it's still very good without it.

And now for something completely different...

Someone told me the other day that she rarely blows her nose, maybe two or three times a year. (Context is everything, folks, and my lips are sealed.) My gaster was flabbered! In this house the walls ring from first light to last with the honking and skirling of our sinuses. I mean, not constantly, but you know, at regular intervals. And when someone arouses the somnolent dust bunnies under the furniture, the forests suffer our nasal wrath.

Now you know I hate to get personal, but can anyone one else here make a claim to blowing his/her nose a mere 2-3 times a year? It's in the cause of science, my dears.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Aubergine and I

I'll admit, I haven't known a lot of vegans in my life, nor ovo-lacto vegetarians. I chalk that up to the fact that I've always lived in a climate that's extremely discouraging to vegetable growth for about 9 months of the year. Fresh fruits and vegetables are just a bit pricey to make an entire meal of, you know? When you're this chilly, you need a few extra calories. Fats. Personally I think I'd need to eat a truckload of fruits and vegetables in a day in order to fulfill my basic requirements for fuel. And I'd be flippin' grouchy about it.

But lately, vegan/vegetarians have been cropping up (ooh - good one, eh?) in my life with startling frequency. It's probably the circles I'm running in; massage therapists, acupuncturists, etc. Folks who already show a pronounced leaning toward DIY health.

If you want to be a vegetarian, or even a vegan, sure, I'm fine with that. It's sure as hell not a local diet, and I don't buy that it's a healthier one (especially veganism), but whatever. If you've got the money to support that habit, go for it. There are worse vices.

But you know what I've noticed about vegans in particular? This isn't a scientific study or anything, just my wool-gathering. One thing I've noticed is that all of the vegans I know are absolutely OBSESSED about food. They think about food day and night. They talk about food constantly. Every conversation gets hijacked by food issues. The other thing is, that all the vegans and wanna-be vegans I know have been sexually abused.

I'm suspecting it's just another way of expressing control, like anorexia. If you have something in your life, like food, that you can obsess about, totally control, and makes you feel like a a holy martyr who's purer than the unwashed rabble, it's easier to cope with the reality that actually the world isn't an in-control place. Stuff happens all the time, and a lot of it, well, we just have to suck it up and make the best of it.

Just a thought. I'm sure there are all kinds of people who would declare themselves an exception to my generalization, but I still think there's something there. A vegan diet, even moreso than an ovo-lacto diet, requires so much maintenance and attention that it seems like it can overrun an entire life.

Something else I've been hearing with more frequency lately is how much more "karmically sound" a vegetarian or vegan diet is.

Oh please. Let me tell you about all the little animals that get killed in the fields while big tractors harvest your quinoa. Let's talk about the human cost of the petroleum required to get the food from seed to table. Let's talk about the possibility that plants scream when you cut them down. And then you can tell me again about your superior karma.

Gack. Ain't no innocents. Not me, not you.

Sorry. This morning I seem to be out of patience. I think a coyote ate my little Maggie-cat yesterday. Dammit. I wish I could convince the coyotes to adopt a vegetarian diet.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hey, Sweetie!

Photo credit: cohdra from

And the winner of the Sweetheart Madcap Giveaway is.....

For being first, valentonality, and reminding me of hot-water-bottles (my seasonal obsession), Kate of Another Thing Or Two is Winner #1!

In the "Limerick" category, the hands-down Winner #2 is.... Mary Anne! She is to be congratulated on not only utilizing the limerick form, but incorporating plot development and encouragement towards physical phitness.

And Winner #3, in our Harlequin division, with extra merit for flattery, is Jim of Earth Home Garden!

Send me some e-mails with addresses!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Play My Giveaway!


The fabric is RED. You know why.

You do know why, right?

Anyway, it's give-away season, and I'm in the mood for a little poetically inspired stitchery. Write me a poem with a February theme, and your name goes in the toque. The end result? Not entirely certain, but it'll be fabric, it'll have at least a little bit of red on it, and it'll be some useful item.


*Naughty is fine (possibly encouraged), grossly graphic is not.

*Doesn't have to be original.
Limericks are always a happy choice. But I can be a haiku kinda gal too. Sonnets count.
(Watch your feet.)

*Entrants must have a valid Terrestrial citizenship.
(No illegal Aliens. The postage would be astronomical.)

The draw will be made on February 14!