Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Is Developmentally Delayed

Mid-April, and this is what I see from my back door. Is it any wonder I'm not overcome with gardening inspiration? We had a few warmish days last week, enough to melt it back this far, but this week we're back to fence-sitting at 0C. Yesterday we had snow-flurries. Just a little, but that's all it takes to fling a person into climatic despair. Today the sun is shining, so I'll gird up my cerebral loins and believe that summer will come again.

This year I'm going to try planting some trees again. The deer like them too, so I've got to get more serious about staking my claim. I'm thinking chicken-wire and burlap... I need another northern plum to pair up with the one I've got so they can cross-pollinate, and an apple and maybe an Evans cherry. I've got one saskatoon bush that's doing not too badly, so I'm going to dig a trench and put a bunch more of those in.

The soil is awful here. On the west we have a big stand of golden willow that have taken the garden plot hostage with their roots, and most of the rest of the acreage was used as an impromptu parking lot by the previous owners. Chive's going to mow down the willows, and I'm going to ask around to find a truckload of manure. (Too bad I can't just back up to the local coffee-shop and download some of the B.S. that's thrown around there!)

I'm going to have a fling with haybale gardening too, just on a very small scale to see how it works for me. You can look it up for more information, but the basic idea is to put down a few hay or strawbales, water them to start them rotting a bit, sprinkle them with dirt and fertilizer, and plant right into that. It's pretty arid here, so I don't know how they'll do in the moisture department, but I figure that it's worth a try as a soil-building experiment. If nothing else, it'll break down a bit and I'll have the start of a new garden plot.

Other than that, the cats catch mice, the kids chase each other, and I study. I finished my second mid-term with the physiology a few days ago, which means I'm on the last lap now. And yesterday I submitted my official application to the university in the city, so next year I'll really be on my way to being an acupuncturist. Wootle-ee-doot!

Friday, April 1, 2011

On my bookshelf...

Carpe Jugulum, by Terry Pratchett.

I lurrrvv Terry Pratchett! He's the one who takes me away, puts me in another world, where it's all silly and magic, and yet... more like the world I live in than the one I live in, y'know?

I've only just begun this one, but here's a quote from near the start:

"The wording began: 'You are cordially invited..." ...and was in that posh runny writing that was hard to read but ever so official. Nanny Ogg grinned and tucked the card back on the mantelpiece. She like the idea of 'cordially'. It had a rich, a thick, and above all, an alcoholic sound."

I finished my first go-round with this one last night. In some ways, Susun is a long way from where I'm at, and in others we synch. For myself, and for my clientele, I'm finding that the whole issue of womanhood after age 30 is pretty nebulous territory, disrespected by ourselves and others. Susun writes about shifting cycles, hormone changes and the physical signs that accompany them, herbal remedies using North American plants as well as Chinese Medicine, and spiritual issues surrounding aging. I'm going to try a few of her herbal recommendations and see how it goes. There was a lot to consider in this book. Thanks to CG for recommending it.

Usually this isn't "my kind" of book, but I loved it! It made the rounds of Chive's family, and finally found its way into our house. The author (Director of the British Museum) takes objects from around the world, relates their individual histories, and then weaves them into their place in a global history. Many of the objects are extremely beautiful, or curious, or plain, but his descriptions give them life beyond their material selves. Highly recommended!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

As people who have hearts that long for perfect love, we have to forgive one another for not being able to give or receive that perfect love in our everyday lives. Our many needs constantly interfere with our desire to be there for the other unconditionally. Our love is always limited by spoken or unspoken conditions. What needs to be forgiven? We need to forgive one another for not being God! - Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Every Sperm is Sacred {Monty Python's Meaning of Life}

I have this vice, which I believe I've confessed to before, but it's this: I stalk Quiverfull Websites. I reckon it's akin to chasing ambulances for the thrill of seeing a car-wreck (though that's not my particular thrill, I'm just guessing that it's a similar thing).

So these Quiverfull Families say they leave their fertility in God's hands - in other words, no birth regulation of any kind. If you're really hard-core, it's no regulation of any kind, even if Mama's life is endangered. Because God won't give you more than you can handle, eh?

This morning I was reading through the comments on a post, and came across this theological humdinger:

"The way I see it, how can we push aside the blessings of God, which is what children are, and yet still expect God to bless us in other areas, such as a nice big house or a new car?"

A heckuva benefits package, don't you think? Nice to see God's Mysterious Ways explained so succinctly for the denser among us.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Recently someone was telling me about the local elementary school system, and how there's a reading program in place. The children are filed into the library, given "age-appropriate" books, told to read them, and then are sat down at a computer to do a comprehension test on the book they just read.

I was aghast. "Why?!" I asked.

"Well, so we can make sure they understand what they read," answered my partner in conversation.

"But why does it matter?"

She looked at me very strangely. "So we can tell what reading level they're at."

"But why does it matter what reading level they're at? Why does it matter if they understand what they're reading? Aren't they supposed to be reading for pleasure? What would you think if someone came and gave you a comprehension test on everything you read?" I was trying to be polite in the midst of my horror, but even the basic questions are considered rather vulgar, like you're questioning the good intentions of professional educators towards their charges. Which, of course, is exactly what I'm doing. This sounds like a program right out of 1984.

I couldn't stop. "If someone tested me on every book I read, you can believe it that I wouldn't pass their exam. When I'm reading for pleasure, it's just pleasure. I let the book wash over me, take two or three points of interest away with me, and I'm done with it. This program seems designed to cure kids of ever wanting to read again."

"But how would we give them marks, if we don't have any way to test what they know?" She looked completely bewildered at this point. She works in a school - I don't suppose this sort of conversation is welcomed in the staff room.

"Who needs their test results?" I asked in return. "We've got a whole society of people who don't know who they are without a piece of paper to rate their abilities and tell them what they're fit for. I hate testing kids. I think it's a lie."

She looked off, and down. "Yeah, I hate testing too. But how do you get around it?"

From there the discussion veered into homeschooling, unschooling, and the parents of schooled children refusing to participate in PATs. And eventually we found ourselves at:

"But if you don't have a degree, how do you ever get ahead in life?"

I smiled. "I guess that depends on what you mean by 'get ahead'," I answered.

She laughed. "You never have a straight answer for anything, do you? It's always more questions!"

Amen. Always more questions!

If you want a degree so you can get ahead, you need to be asking yourself what 'get ahead' means, and whether that degree is really a means to get there. Or if, in fact, it's a huge debt to buy you some shaky academic credibility or a temporary ego boost. Or if you're just doing it because it's the thing to do, and you never questioned that assumption. But for goodness' sake, ask questions! Ask questions about everything! Question yourself and your motives, question your society and its motives, question everything! These are the 'examinations' that matter.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pratchett on Friday

"The wind howled. Lightning stabbed at the earth erratically, like an inefficient assassin. Thunder rolled back and forth across the dark, rain-lashed hills....The storm was really giving it everything it had. This was its big chance. It had spent years hanging around the provinces, putting in some useful work as a squall, building up experience, making contacts, occasionally leaping out on unsuspecting shepherds or blasting quite small oak trees. Now an opening in the weather had given it an opportunity to strut its hour, and it was building up its role in the hope of being spotted by one of the big climates.

It was a good storm. There was quite effective projection and passion there, and critics agreed that if it would only learn to control its thunder it would be, in years to come, a storm to watch."

-Terry Pratchett, Wyrd Sisters

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day 2011

We're feeling that St. Patrick is perhaps not pulling his weight in the weather department. It's his Big Day, and we're barely inching up to 0C during the day, considerably colder than that at night. Here's Patch, tending the Lucky Shamrock Fire, with which we beseech the Blessed Green Man for some greenery. Even dandelion greens would do. Ahem.

I have chlorophyll envy. I trawl the netblogs, drooling over other people's quackgrass. So sad.

On the home front... well, what's not on the home front? I work and study at home, as well as all the standard home-stuff. There are small things, you know? Like a nicely folded stack of tea-towels. I don't know why this does what it does for me, but I love to see them like that, folded RIGHT (not WRONG, like some people fold them), especially when they're stacked on my pantry shelf waiting for me. In the midst of the general chaos of this place, it soothes my rumpled heart to see a small corner of order.

The physiology continues apace. A slow pace. My clients keep asking me when I'll be an acupuncturist, and I keep telling them what a very long story this will be. It's a three-year, full-time program, so at the rate I'm going, we're looking at another four years, for sure. Maybe five. But every single clinic day I'm chomping at that bit. People need it! It helps to heal injuries new and old, lets people sleep at night, modulates blood sugar and hot flashes, and... and... and... So I keep referring them out, and wishing I could provide it myself. Someday.

I'm terribly conflicted about where I'll set up my practice. Some days I know I need to stay here, and some days I know I need to be in the city. I like small communities, but I'm terribly lonely for opportunities to learn and be challenged. How do I meet both needs? I want it all!

Miss Mut (rhymes with "foot"). Puss. Pussle-sprouts. My totem cat. Torties have rather, erm, forceful personalities, and the Dear Children are constantly pointing out the similarities. Oh those Dear Children. Why do I let them sleep indoors?

Limes. It's St. Patrick's Day, and I wanted to celebrate a bit, so I found some limes at the Co-Op, and a lime-pie recipe on the internet. Just in case anyone doesn't know, lime pie isn't green. At all. (I was hoping it would at least be greenish, but sadly it was not to be.) But the taste is - ooooooh! Very green! But not in an Irish-y sort of way. More a Carribean green, a lovely, tart, drooly, Carribean green.

Forget supper - let's go straight for dessert!

And sweet little Maggie, perturbed. "What?" she says, "Do I look like blog-fodder?" Yup. Green eyes. Fair game today!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

How To Make Chip Dip

Sometime in the past couple months, Chive was out visiting with someone, and they served chips and dip. Store dip. We don't buy the stuff ourselves - it's glutenous. I don't think he'd ever tried it before, and he was appalled at the taste.

He mentioned it the next time he saw me making dip for chips and veggies here at home, and I remarked that not only the taste, but the price was ghastly too. For a teeny wee little 250ml container, most grocery stores charge about $3. He was shocked. I did a quick-n-dirty calculation, and reckoned that the bowl that I made, approximately 1 litre, was costing us about $4. And it tastes good. Too good. Too bad for the state of lushness in my hindquarters, but at least I'm not paying the lenten price while I'm eating it, too!

Maybe it's foolish to post this, but I've been thinking a lot about making a recipe book for my kids, and one of the things I want to include is a dip recipe. I want them to have something on hand to refer to when they branch out and need a memory-jog on how to feed themselves gluten-freely, without paying someone else to put the food on their plates.

So here it is, yer basic dip.

(And here's a Helpful Hint, useful in general cookery - you can always add more, but you can't add less. Start conservative, and then became a thrashing liberal as the spirit moves you.)

Sour cream, any amount you choose. This is the body of your dip, so whatever you scoop into your mixing bowl will be more or less the amount you'll get out of it in the end. Might as well use the whole litre, huh?

Garlic, finely minced. I used 2 small cloves for my 1 litre of sour cream.

Onions, either white onions, or red, or scallions. Finely minced. Maybe 1/4 of a sweet onion? Remember the Helpful Hint.

Salt and pepper.

Vinegar. I used 1 capful, or approximately 1 tbsp.

Fresh lemon juice. I said FRESH. Put that bottle of RealLemon back on the shelf. 2 tsp.

Grated cheese, if you want. Cheddar, mozza, parmesan. Real parmesan, SVP. You can use as much as you like, but if you use too much your dip gets so stiff it'll break the chips.

Dill. I like dill, personally. If you don't like it, or don't like any of the above, feel free to omit. But I used about 1 tsp of dried dill.

Any other herbs you feel compelled to add. Chive'll add basil to just about anything, so I have to watch him closely if I intend to eat his creations.

Just mix it up. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Calling Your Shots

So this morning my daughter comes up from her bedroom, and she's complaining of a sore stomach. She figures she shouldn't go to school. I don't have a big problem with that - it's not like it's particularly important, eh? But she works in the cafeteria, doing real work, and that bit I do take seriously. The woman who runs it depends on her help. So a phone call must be made.

But who should make the call? Me? Why me? If school is about preparing for real life, as they insist it is, then I figure Poppy should be making her own phone calls. But schools tend to be a bit funny about that. Kids calling themselves in sick? That doesn't happen. I mean, you can't trust 'em, can you? Everyone knows that kids hate school, and they'll do anything to wiggle out of it.

Except.... my daughter goes because she chooses to go. I've had this conversation with the staff several times. She chooses to go, she chooses which courses to take, she chooses. So I figure that means that she should alert them if she's not going to be there, and it matters. In English class, it doesn't matter. The class goes on without her. But the cafeteria, that's a major inconvenience for the other cafeteria staff. A call must be made.

So she called, and I was ready to be referred to if they weren't going to accept her say-so, but there wasn't a problem. We're having a lot less problems this year in that regard.

A few weeks ago they brought a substitute in for one of Poppy's classes, cosmetology. This woman tends to be pretty high-strung. She completely lost it during classtime, had girls in tears, the class in chaos, and she was yelling at everyone, including my daughter. Poppy picked up her books, and said evenly, "I'm going to go study in the library". The sub replied, "You just do whatever you want, don't you?!" To which Poppy answered, "That's right."

Amen. Not that we don't need to make an effort to get on together under normal circumstances, but nobody should tolerate crap.

The next day, the regular teacher was back. She made a little speech regarding difficult people, and how if you're working in a spa, you'll end up with working with difficult people, so you need to learn to tiptoe around them. My daughter knows better. She watches her mother in action.

I do NOT put up with difficult people. Or rather, I do, but I don't put up with their difficult behaviours. You want to be a cantankerous wretch? Go right ahead - but in my clinic you'll be reasonably courteous, and you'll keep you appointments on time, or you'll find another therapist. I work at being very good at what I do, and that's something people are willing to be courteous for. Maybe if I were mediocre and desperate, I'd put up with abuse for the money. I think that's one of the side-benefits of competence - it makes you a lot less vulnerable.

Yesterday, another mum of a child at that school was telling me that her child had been bullied by another child, who'd been burning her son. High school, for crying out loud. When she finally figured it out, she gave the school hell, gave the other child's parents hell, and gave her son hell for choosing to be a victim instead of blowing a gasket.

But her son is stuck there. That's why he didn't speak up, isn't it? He feels stuck, and in his mind, he's dealing with the circumstances as best he can, because he has to face that torment in some form every day. I hope his mind learns freedom. I hope that as an adult he learns that he has agency to call his own shots.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Yesterday afternoon I was standing in a shop chatting with one of the employees. We were the only two there, so it was pretty informal. My eye landed on a foster-care advertisement, recruiting families. Instant ire. I started telling her about our short, intense career as foster parents, and why I'd never recommend that anyone ever foster with the Alberta government. It's the bloody-minded-est system that was ever conceived in hell's boardroom. It's organized abuse of both the children and the foster-families. Maybe it's an abuse of the social workers too, but from my perspective they look like willing collaborators.

I told her about our experience, how the girls were taken from our home after a month stay because I "wouldn't return the foster-worker's calls", because I'd taken the kids to the mountains - which they'd never seen - for two days, and I didn't have a cell phone 10 years ago. Actually it was because I'd been raising hell with the department over my girls' social worker and her lies to them and to me. I'd been recording and documenting the discrepancies. Two children had already died in that birth family - apparently that wasn't reason enough to supervise them on home visits. I was a huge pain in the ass.

After being taken from our home, they were put in another home, where I later found out that they were sexually abused for five years before it was "discovered" and they were yanked yet again. Last I heard the older girl was on the street.

There are so many other stories, like that one and worse. I hate Alberta Social Services.

But that's not actually what I was posting about, eh? Pant, pant. Okay, I'm pulling myself back together now...

As we talked, she told me that she'd spent time in foster care as a child, what that had been like for her (the homes were decent, at least), how hard it was to be deserted by your mother as a child, and still as an adult.

There are so many things we don't know about the people around us. This isn't someone I'd felt a connection with before. She's "not like me". But when I hear more of her story, things start to fall into place and make sense, and I realize why things are the way they are, and she starts to seem a lot more "like me" than I'd originally believed. Or perhaps it's that I'm more "like her". In a lot of ways we are all "like" each other.

Under it all, almost always same-same. Strange and wonderful and messy.

It makes it harder. If I can believe that someone is "other" or that I am "other" than them, then I don't have to take them into consideration. I can be different, and special, and misunderstood. The fact that I misunderstand them isn't part of the equation. It's all about me.

And yeah, we're all unique. But yeah, we're all the same too. Tough to live that one.

This probably means I'm same-same with the social workers too.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

And the winner is -

Yay Deb! I'll let you know when I'm done whatever it is, and you can send me your address.
Thanks to everyone who played!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Going, Going, GIVEAWAY!

Here it is January 31, 2011. I blogged every day for a month - go moi!

It's -40C here this fine, frigid morning. A little free-motion association.... cold.... housebound... quilting! Not a big quilt, but a little quilty-something. Fabricky, at any rate. Something for YOU!

So leave a comment, and tell me what you're spending your day with. I'll leave the post up for a few days, let's say three, and after that, I'll pick a lucky winner. Whatever I make, it won't be big or heavy, so I'll ship to anywhere on the planet.*

Don't delay!
Leave a comment today!

*the same one I live on.

(Earth, ya smart-ass!)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Photo credit: wax115 from

-33C. Brrr.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nightmare Test

I wrote my midterm yesterday.


After seeing that beast, I'm about ready to withdraw from the course. It was, if anything, worse than I imagined it would be, and what I was imagining was pretty bad. For the first time in my life I was faced with an exam in which I didn't even recognize the questions. I don't know what the hell they were asking of me.

This was not due to a lack of preparation on my part. I have never studied so hard or so thoroughly in my life. I'm interested in the material. I want to do well. I've invested. And it's still quite possible that I'll fail that test.

Interesting. Not a good feeling, but a learning experience in itself. I get to watch my reactions, and watch my self-worth plunging around like a wild horse. I get to have long, serious talks with myself about what it means to learn, and how that isn't the same thing as doing well on an exam, and to be on the other side of the coin. Usually I have to deal with it from the sense of having done well but not seeing the value in that either. Now I'm experiencing what it's like to feel incompetent in spite of my best efforts.


And I'm really confused, too. I honestly don't know how I could have prepared any better than I did. On the 6-page assignment I got back a few weeks ago I was given full marks, so I assumed that was the level of comprehension they were looking for, and thus that I was ready to take this exam. Apparently not.

I'll probably find out next week sometime whether I passed. It was all multiple choice, so if I did pass, it's because I'm a good guesser. And from there? We'll see...


I just spoke to my friend, who has a master's degree in psychology, and is taking a distance neurophysiology course through the same university I am. She's rarely had anything below a 90%, and she says the way they're testing is absurd compared to how the other universities she's attended conduct their exams. At this point, she's hoping for a 50%, and she'll never take another course with them.

She also told me that in another course she took once, statistics, the prof was so poor that everyone in the class failed, and he somehow "curved" the marks so that everyone "passed", and her 34% became a 93%. What on earth is that?! She's speculating that perhaps they do the same thing with this science department.

I'm feeling a little better about it all now. This is my first university course, and I was beginning to think that perhaps I just wasn't cut out for this level of study. Hopefully I manage to pull off a pass, and then I won't be taking another course with them either. Eesh.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cards On The Table

Growing up in a Mennonite milieu, so to speak, tarot was definitely of the devil. No two ways about it. They were over there on the unmistakable far extreme of badness, exceeding even the sinfulness of drink and Star Wars movies. I, goody-two-shoes first-born by my own lights, subscribed to this entirely. I wouldn't touch 'em, wouldn't look at 'em, and prayed for my hell-bound friends who played with these things without due regard for their flammable nature.

And then there was this night, pretty tame by most people's standards I'm sure, when I went out driving about town with a bunch of theatre-people and found myself seated at a table in front of a deck of tarot cards. Right there in front of me! I was having a good time being rebellious and tossed caution to the winds. The dealer dealt. I really have no idea what the cards said, but I do know that no one at the table spontaneously combusted. Not even me. I figured if God was going to smite anyone it would be me, since I was well aware of the sinfulness I was indulging in, unlike the heathens I'd surrounded myself with. But I didn't even smoke at the ears. Apparently there was a little less "fraught" required concerning tarot than I'd imagined.

Still, I didn't want to take any unnecessary chances, so for the next couple decades I gave the tarot a pretty wide berth.

Last year while I was researching some artistic works, I tripped over a very artsy tarot deck. Honestly, at this point I couldn't tell you which one it was, but I was very impressed at the time. I started looking up other decks to compare. Several of them were extremely beautiful. Some were superfluously strange. Many were "mystic" of the purple flowing robes and glowing green eyes variety. I was surprised at how many decks there are, and how much work goes into the design.

I don't know the deck well at all. I'd recognize a few of the cards, I guess, but most of them are too far removed from my everyday stories to lodge in my head. I know nothing of their significance or how they're dealt. I'm very curious though. I wonder how people use these, and why, and if they find it helpful. I'm not particularly drawn to them myself as an aid to getting through life, but I've had several clients mention that they use them, or go for readings with someone else.

What really surprised me was to find out that in Europe they were also used as game cards! Huh! The prohibition against card-games in evangelical circles made a lot more sense when I read that.

It's a strange old world. There are many things I know not of.

There you go. I just blogged about tarot cards. If I go up in flames in the night, don't expect a post tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Great A'Tuin

Photo credit: clarita from

You can't trample infidels when you're a tortoise. I mean, all you could do is give them a meaningful look.

-Terry Pratchett

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kindness Counts

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~Plato

Sometimes I get so bogged down in my own mundanities that I begin to think I've got a pretty hard row to how, but then I'm given the gift of being allowed to be present in another person's life. It unskews my perception.

This happens a lot with my clients. As I work with their bodies, listening to their cells and their words, it's possible to step into a realm of reverence. Holy pain. Without any lack of compassion or blindness to the reality of physical dysfunction, I can say that pain truly is a door to the underworld of self-knowledge. When people attend to their pain, they begin to walk the strange paths of mysticism, in whatever form arises from their depths.

This is something I'm working on in my life, trying to be awake and mindful (at least momentarily) in all situations. When I start telling myself the painful story of how I'm "starving", I stop and ask myself if that's true. If it's not true, why do I think it's true? What does "starving" mean to me, and what has such power over me that my head begins to spin and I feel faint and only a chocolate chip muffin (or six) has the power to save me? It's actually pain of some variety. Heart pain.

What is that feeling of exclusion and the searing pain of rejection I can inflict on myself through a perceived slight from a near-stranger? Heart pain. When I'm can't sleep for wheezing some nights, but other nights I'm breathing easy, and nothing in my physical environment has had a significant change, what grief am I holding in my lungs, what clouds of pain obscure my heart's sight?

And what do I really want from life, so much that I'm willing to ride even pain to get there?

But Lord, it's such hard work sometimes. It's hard when it's just a continual harnessing of the wayward mind. Harder when it's intractable physical or emotional pain that you can't expect to dissipate anytime soon. Burns. Ruptured discs. Death. Pain is not a comfortable traveling companion.

It's not easy, but we're up to it. We are truly so tough, and so fragile. We deserve respect, and we deserve recognition of our pain. We deserve kindness. We need to give this to ourselves, and give this to each other.

Life can be difficult. Sometimes we are fighting a hard battle. Kindness is a balm, and should be applied liberally. There is no shortage, no rationing - it can be given with an open hand.

Monday, January 24, 2011

...but it pours.

Photo credit: lazy_lobster from

More sad news today. Kate, who authored the blog "In This Quiet Life", passed away suddenly yesterday afternoon of a brain hemorrhage from a falling injury. We'd only become acquainted in the past year.

Kate loved her family, birds, flowers, cooking. She was thoughtful, and kind, and looked for the unexpected. A lovely, quiet life.

Anytime we weave our lives together, you notice the thread when it's unraveled.

All the best as you travel on, Kate. I'm sorry to see you go.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Through The Looking Glass

Photo credit: anitapatterson from

Yesterday morning I sent a link to my friend, Jim. I can't post the picture here, but you can go have a look at it. I love it. The woman reminds me a lot of his wife, Peggy, and I thought the play of it looked like something Jim would be tickled by.

He never replied. And he won't. Yesterday Jim stepped into another... well, who knows, really? World? Reality? It could be anything. He's gone beyond. He died.

I know people die. They do it all the time. And in my sensible and mythical minds this makes sense. ( I have several minds... cerebral multitasking.) Just in the practical sense, we need to die to make room since other people keep being born. And things do wear out, after all. And the part of me that lives mythtically knows that we live and die in mystery, and the dying is just another part of the living. Maybe the greater portion. My sense is that what comes after this is so expansive that we just can't take these old cells with us. They'd just explode with the hugeness. Someday each of us will know.

But in the mind of me that still appears able to form attachments, it hurts like hell and is WRONG WRONG WRONG. I didn't want him to go so soon. Someday, in 20 years, I would have accepted this. Maybe. Maybe a person never gets used to it. Maybe that's why you see so much immobility in the faces of the elderly. Frozen grief.

Damn it! I was planning to visit someday. You promised me a hand-made basket this year. I was making you a quilt. I WASN'T READY.

Your family. I don't know what to say. That much pain... there's no holding it. You just bow down and let it keep waving over you. Someday the waves diminish, become a river, and then a stream. Someday it's a pool, and you look into it and watch the reflections and touch it with your finger to see the ripples spread on the glassy mirror.

When I step through that glass myself, I hope Jim will be there to stretch out his hand and help me through. Jim and many others. Those met, and those unmet. Worlds and worlds and worlds.

Until then, Jim, I MISS YOU. Safe journey, lots of love. You were a wonder, and I'm proud to have been your friend. If you can, stop by and inspire me now and then.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I love the images on this blog!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lap Dance?

Today we got a laptop. It's currently in my lap.

NOT impressed with either the function of the keyboard or the "mouse". I DO like the portability. Will adjust, I'm sure.

Pardon me while I fiddle around!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

For Kate

I saw your photo of an Australian magpie, and I was struck by how similar and yet different they are from the Alberta variety. This isn't my own picture, but it really caught the iridescence of the wing and tail feathers.

Ours just make a terrible shrieking racket, very little mimicry at all. But they're very handsome!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior?

This article distracted me this afternoon. Obviously this woman is extremely competitive.

Hopefully more on this tomorrow. For now, I'm off to bed!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Night Vision

Photo credit: clarita from

Dreams are an enormous part of my life. I don't remember my dreams every night, but at least a couple times a week I have a memorable dream, and several times a month I have a dream that I really listen to.

Sometimes I dream for other people, too. At least, that's my interpretation of it. These dreams feel different, like I'm removed from them and watching rather than participating. Sometimes I tell the person about it, sometimes I don't. It's a little uncomfortable. I don't want to come across like I'm attention-seeking.

I had a series of dreams like that last week. They were beautiful, very mythological. Mountains, caves, subterranean rivers crossed by a barge, golden oars, enchanted sleep, a small dragon right out the pages of the Book of Kells.

I'm sure I'll tell her about it, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to lose myself in this story for a while.

Do you dream?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Another Public Health Racket

You know how there are some things that simply get up your nose? "Tummy Time" is one of those for me.

Have you heard about "Tummy Time"? Apparently the latest wisdom is that you're supposed to put infants on their bellies for a certain amount of time every day so they'll develop properly. I've only had this information from mums of newborns, so I'm guessing, but I suppose the target muscles must be the pectorals.

The underlying plan is that this will save otherwise neglected infants from weak arms. Yes. Well, I can't stop myself from obsessing about this.

Really? Do they really think that a parent so disengaged that he/she will allow the baby to go unheld and unstimulated, will put the time and care into "tummy time"? Honestly! Any baby that's being held and talked to and played with is definitely using those muscles, focusing her eyes, practicing to hold her head up. So WHY do public health officials waste their time preaching about "tummy time" to parents of parented babies, rather than looking for the flattened heads of the neglected?

Neither of my kids had "tummy time", and they have neither flat heads nor flabby pecs. Pfft. I wonder whose brain-child this was? I suppose I should go and look it up, huh?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Messing About With Words In My Head




So to incorporate is to incarnate, more-or-less. Except that it has more of a phagocytic overtone, like something being engulfed.

Pac-Man, Inc.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Toast To Holism

Photo credit: keyseeker from

I've been stuffing my head with eight physiology chapters in preparation for my midterm exam. This is my first course evaluation of any sort, and it's worth a fairly biggish chunk of my final mark. This is also my first university level study. I'm spooked.

It's so crazy! I know I'm learning, and I'm pretty sure I'll pass. The mark shouldn't matter, but oh, it matters so much! Less than 90% is such a blow to my fragile academic esteem.

Things were so messed up for me that by the time I was in my teens, I was actually convinced that I was mentally handicapped, and everyone around me was covering it up by giving me passing grades at school. Really. I was really in that space. And I think I've never really, truly pulled myself entirely out of that pit. I have this double bind going on, whereby if I get 90%+, it's because the exam was too easy, or they asked the "wrong" questions, or I had some other big fluke. But if I don't meet the 90%, it's because I'm deficient and stupid.

Either way, it doesn't matter. I'm screwed.

The things we do to ourselves, huh?

So here I am, wrestling like Jacob with the Angel of Physiology, dislocating my brain in the process. I know it's a tough course by any standard, and I'm doing my damnedest to be sane in the midst. Trying to talk myself into good sense.

During these internal discussions I have flash-backs to high school. In particular I keep remembering a Home-Ec incident. We were making toast, for goodness' sake - toast! And at the end of the class I got my evaluation sheet back and she'd docked me 10% for not spreading the butter all the way to the very edges. I was staggered. Not only was she making us use butter (which I'd managed to equate with the devil and his minions, thanks to health class and living with a nurse in the 1970's), but she was insisting that I use a LOT of butter.

It wasn't really about butter, mind you. The central issue for me was the subjectivity of it all. She thought the butter should go to the edge, and I didn't. It shouldn't have been a matter for judgment. But she was the one with the power over my grades. What she said, went.

Somehow, over the course of years, I've completely internalized the rationale behind the marking system, and accepted the "grade" as a valid evaluation. But I know it's not. I KNOW that.

What I'm really learning isn't physiology. Or even acupuncture. I think what I'm really learning is how to be whole and not let other people steal bits of me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Last Stop

I said I'd post daily, and by jingo, I'm going to do it. But glory - I'm thrashed tonight. Four clients back to back, just finished half an hour ago, and there's still a messy kitchen that needs tending to.

I'm so glad to do what I love. I'm so thankful that my wrists and hands are doing so much better with that nifty little gadget. I'm so happy to be in a warm house when it's -30 out there.

But I'd be alright if it warmed up too. Really alright.

And that, is that.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This Morning I'm a Classy Broad

Thinking more about class this morning. We feel it, and know it when we encounter it, but what is it?

I've been reading a website called "Class Matters". In it, I found this quote: "In my neighborhood everyone can spot the class differences between women: the working-class women wear make-up and styled hair even when watering their gardens, and the professional women wear no make-up and loose hair even to work, and sometimes even at weddings."

There's something to that, at least around here. I guess you'd call my town a very working class town, in a very working class province. Women here (in general) are EXTREMELY conscious of always having their make-up done and legs waxed. Every single workday I'll have a client apologize to me because she hasn't waxed her legs recently enough. Since I've never had it done, I don't know what that time frame would be. I always assure them that I didn't shave for their appointment myself, so they mustn't worry.

But where does that put me? If prickle-legged, wild-haired, and make-up-less is an indicator of "professional", I guess most days I'm squarely in the middle of it. On the other hand, living in a small bungalow with ancient peeling siding and the skeleton of a burnt-out motorhome in the back acres probably doesn't impress most of my neighbours with my classiness. We have an average income for the area (at least, that's my guess), but a lot less toys. My kids don't have cell-phones, and that's a bizarre anomoly here. It's de rigeur to take your children on monthly shopping sprees for $200 hoodies and the like.... ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Take my 14 year old daughter for a $75 nail job every month? Not happening.

We have a lot of books ourselves, and I pump the library for all I'm worth. That's not the norm. We self-educate, all of us. See previous. We eat well - at home. When I look at our life, all I can see is that we live very high indeed on the global hog. Extreme Upper Class. And when I look at the carefully made-up faces and omni-present cellphones and shiny SUVs and pedigreed pets, it all seems very gauche. I'm a snob.

It's so relative, isn't it? I tend to look at myself compared to an entire world, and see how incredibly priveleged I am. And that's about choice. I can choose so many things. It might be a little squeeze for a while, but I can choose to go to acupuncture school, or take an advanced bodywork class. I can choose to open a clinic. I can choose all sorts of things, because I've had and continue to have exposure to a very wide world.

I don't know how much of that is privelege, and how much is personal endowment. A big part of our cultural mythology is built on people pulling themselves up by the bootstraps, but what if your bootstraps are on the small side, or non-existent? It seems like some people just don't have much raw material, you know? I met someone like that recently; he's quite bright in a lot of ways, but something vital is definitely missing. His choices are limited. What's free will in a situation like that?

And maybe there are people who would say the same of me, poor thing. Who knows? I've only got this one set of eyes!

Anyway, lots to think about...

Monday, January 10, 2011

More Joe

I've been snatching quick reads from the Joseph Campbell biography that I posted about yesterday, in between kitchen patrol, clients, laundry, studying, running herd on kids, etc. etc. etc. He's very, very inspiring and rather electrifying in his quick mind; ever curious, had an amazing capacity for forming connection between people and ideas. It's terribly interesting and thought-provoking, and I'm only in the third chapter or so.

But even at that, what I'm struck with most is how much his life and career were formed by the class he was raised in. From my viewpoint, the Campbells were rather wealthy. There were nannies. Servants. Trips to Europe and Asia in the days before cheap air travel. These were people with money, and a lot of free time. Or at least, the mother and children were. The father seems to have spent a lot of time in business pursuits.

So yes, he had a prodigious mind, and an endless curiousity. But he could follow his interests and even finish an entire thought through without jumping up to hang the laundry, feed the kids, and all the other whatnots of usual life.

In some ways I'm jealous, and I think, "Boy, I could sure make hay with those resources behind me, too." But then on further reflection, probably not. I work best under pressure. If everything was handed to me, I'd probably just fall into a coma on the couch.

Maybe that's the most impressive thing about him - that in spite of the wealth and opportunity, he could discipline his mind (and body, he was an excellent athlete too) to accomplish all these things.

More reading tomorrow, I hope.

Life keeps getting busier! That must mean I'm increasing in capacity!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Mind's On Fire!

No time to blog. I told myself that I get to read my book after putting a decent study interval, and this book is extremely motivating. Joseph Campbell biography.... I think I've got a crush!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A bit of a stretch.

Now, I want you to guess before reading more. G'wan. Guess.


You really want to know? It's an Extensorciser! This will probably salvage my career as a massage therapist, because lord knows I needed something.

The problem is that the muscles on the palmar side of the hand and forearm, the flexors, are always activated. Every time you grasp something, there go your flexors. So they overdevelop, and overpower the extensors on the back of the hand and arm. I mean, when you do get a real workout in extension, huh? Rarely. Couple that situation with improper muscle firing due to injuries and whatnot, and Hey Presto! You've got a muscle-stress disorder!

And if you're a massage therapist with distressed extensors, you'd better find a solution right quickly.

My darling chiropractor came through for me with this gadget. It's reversible, and causes the extensor muscles to work differently, strengthens them, and apparently breaks down adhesive patches in the connective tissue that surrounds them. It's been a week now, and I'm noticing a significant improvement in the stability of my thumb joints and the pain in my forearm and elbow.


It's just a cosmetic bonus that I get to look like a Transformer to boot!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Happy Scribblings of a Lone Woman

My house is quiet, dark, cool. I am alone. At least for a little while longer, until the kids wake up. And oh my Lord, do I love this. I LOVE having time alone, and my own routine, and space for my own thoughts without hearing anyone else's. The older I get, the hermit-er I get.

And that's not wrong.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how society is still so structured around what women "should" be. We "should" be hospitable, and love to cook big, nurturing meals for company, and take in the wayfarer, and give of our time, talents, and energy with a smile. Until we drop in our apron-strings. This is how it's supposed to be right? That's what all the big holiday traditions are based on, and the stereotypical happy childhood - that mama and grand-mama don the ruffled apron and go all out in nurturance.

If a man holes up in his rooms, needs his clearly defined space, wants quiet, and devotes himself to learning and practicing what he loves, he's a devotee, or a scholar. He's respected.

If a woman does the same, she's an anti-social cow, and quite possibly a bit off-her-head. I mean, women are supposed to be available, aren't they? Isn't that the definition of woman? Available.

I know I still have this dichotomy in my head. When I'm evaluating relationships, I use different criteria for judging according to whether the subject is male or female. I have different expectations, and I'm pretty sure the same is happening in the opposite direction.

But I'm making myself less available, and talking to myself sternly about expecting less availability from other women. Our time is a gift to others, not their right. Those of us with a strong introversion need a lot of time alone, alone, alone, even just for the ability to think in a straight line without being distracted by someone else's voice.

And right now, I'm so alone, and so at rest, and so happy to be in the midst of it. Later, I'll have clients all afternoon, and I'll be happy to see them too. I love what I do. And I love the clearly defined 1 hour space. Good-fences-make-good-neighbours.

It's not that I don't have it in me to take up that nurturing stereotype from time to time. It's just that I won't give it on demand.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm melllllllttttinnnggg....

We've been informed that even at a tropical 67F our house is "cold" (I'd pushed it up from 63F), and it's now up to 70F. And I feel like I've been catapulted into menopause! Our Lady of the Perpetual Hot Flash.

One more night. I can do this.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The In-Between Time

I thought I was going to be writing about something else today, but Events Have Dictated Otherwise. I'm in a brief interlude between clients and going to the city to pick up a relative.

We all know we're getting older, but every now and then there's an event that really gets your attention. Like a heart attack. Chive's oldest brother had a heart attack, possibly secondary to pericarditis. It's a bit of a wake-up call for the whole family and you can hear the thoughts about aging ticking away under the surface. Suddenly the future looks a little different.

This makes me part of the sandwich generation, doesn't it? Sandwiched in between the generation of my children and the generation ahead of me, responsible for both. It's a funny feeling, almost as if I'm not only looking ahead for deer on the road, but in the rear-view mirror too. What's going to crash on either end? Hopefully both sides don't crash at the same time...

I guess I should get off the computer and hit the road. He's going to stay here for a night or two before going back north, and I'll be picking him up from the hospital in a few hours.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

In the Mailbox Today

And it seems some of us never learn to read the fine print...

I saw this compelling dragon print on the website of one my favourite online quilt-stores, and I couldn't talk myself out of it. I had visions of colourful little four-inch dragons in the centres of quilt blocks, maybe a bright log cabin? I wasn't sure how it would go, but I had a lovely three weeks waiting for it and fantasizing.

This morning the package came in the mail. I bundled out to the van and ripped the envelope open - - - and my hair exploded! (See picture above.)

Holy Roly Guacamole! I never dreamed they'd be LIFE SIZE!!! What on earth am I going to do with this? Talk about a challenge!

Now that I'm over the shock, I think there's a plan bubbling deep in the cranialities. But if you're struck with an inspiration on my behalf, please feel free to share.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Why I Don't Work on Family

"One 'ungh' means 'hurts'. Two 'unghs' means 'hurts more'. I would have thought you'd have picked this up from your other clients by now."

"Where'd you get your license, a cracker-jack box?"

"I'm only saying what your other clients are afraid to say."

Suffer, buddy. Your file is CLOSED!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What Studying for Mid-Terms Looks Like Around Here

Often it looks a lot like this...

I think I've come to the realization that where the academics are concerned, I work better under pressure. How to create more pressure? Add more to the mix. Obsess over the cross-word puzzles I found in my Christmas stocking. Commit to daily blogging. Find must-do quilt projects. You know - just the daily necessities, really.

There's an counselor I see once or twice a year for a check-up, and one of the most helpful things he ever told me was that I'm not serene. No kidding, eh? But really. I'm NOT serene, and I'm NOT passive, and I don't need to aspire to those things. It helps to hear it from the outside sometimes, you know? And to hear it presented as a good thing, rather than as something that needs to be fixed. We are what we are, and it's best to go with the grain.

Picture especially for Alecto.

In the spirit of "you show me yours, I'll show you mine", (re Alecto's tree quilt) here's my latest quiltiferous project.

Post-quilting, pre-binding. I've been practicing with different machine-quilting patterns lately, and I settled on a loop that's both easier to do and more pleasant to look at. At least, my eyes think so. Just preference. Maybe I'm simply over-exposed to the stippled effect. Anyway, here we are in a loop-de-loop, and a few fabric close-ups. I only did one small practice-project before undertaking the quilt, and I was amazed how quickly I fell into it!

It's for a 5 month baby girl I recently found out about. Her mother and I lost touch over the past couple of years, but I just heard from her again over Christmas and ta-diddly-da, she's put on an addition! Between my dragonish fabric-hoard and the need to avoid studying for my physiology mid-term, a quilt is born!

When I look at it I know it's really over-the-top, but there you go. I can't help it. This is what I like. My particular favourite is that Martha Negley fabric in the lowest photo, the terra-cotta and fuschia flowers on a purple background. Woo-hoo!

Oh, and the pattern is Disappearing 9-Patch. Easy-squeezy, but lots of visual interest.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Rhinotically Healthy New Year

My resolution for 2011 is to blog daily for the month of January. Somehow all this blog business has drifted away on me, but I think it's still a voice I need to exercise, so here I go. No matter how mundane, or inane, I'll blog something every day.

We're ringing in the New Year with a neti pot. I heard about them a couple years ago, but the prospect of pouring water in my nose was too horrifying to contemplate. I mean, really. Water is NOT supposed to go in your nose, is it? That leads to drowning.

But the allergies have been gaining ground, and between that the perennial dryness of the country I live in, I finally started seriously considering neti practice. Yesterday, when I was at the health-food store taking advantage of their year-end sale, I took the leap and bot-the-pot. To all appearances it's the same pot the young woman above uses. Don't expect a homegrown picture of this endeavour. There are limits.

So how was it? Well, after a few false starts and near-drowning moments, I finally caught the wave and it went in one nostril and out the other. I think it helped. I haven't sneezed since, and that's quite a news item. It certainly left me with a well swept out feeling in my sinuses, like a good house-cleaning. Maybe a house-cleaning and a fresh coat of paint, too. They're throbbing a little. Not used to that kind of hydraulic action.

According to the literature with the packaging, on an energetic level it's supposed to enhance communication between the left and right side of the brain and body. That's something I'll have to wait on. Do you think neti could render me more mathmatically inclined? I'd settle for just being able to sort out my own accounting. Or even just making an accurate approximation of how much fabric I need for a quilt back, so I don't have so many leftovers.

Speaking of quilts... I have fallen. Oh, I have fallen. I actually made a cat-quilt. A quilt for the cats out of the cut-down remnants of a baby-quilt. I'm not only a mad quiltress - I'm the mad cat-lady quiltress of Gawdswallop. Ichabod, ichabod. That's how hard I'm working to avoid my studies.

Light a candle for me. I've been enslaved by the feline mind-masters.