Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How rude of me!

I forgot to say that I saw Grandmère’s test results, and that’s why I went here to do the test.

I'm apologizing in a thousand abject positions.

Thanks, Mimi! That was silly and fun

Your Score: Fennel

You are Fennel!

You're a cool cat. Crisp, clean, fresh, and extremely complicated. You're like quantum physics or modern jazz. Think Niels Bohr meets Ornette Coleman. You may look normal now, but once you sprout, you look kind of, uh, funny.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Perception and Reality, Part 1

I haven’t posted anything with personal substance for a couple of weeks now. Mostly, that’s because I haven’t wanted to deal with the substance of my personal life. I’d forgotten what a mistake that is – discomfort in the soul is a lot like an ingrown toenail. You can try to ignore it, and maybe you can for a while. But a sore foot is a sore foot, and I walk on mine a lot, and they affect my attitude and outlook even when I’m pretending they don’t. Sometimes it’s a limp that develops over a few days. Sometimes, I drop something on my foot, and it’s blinding.

There have been many changes in my family in the last 18 months. Mum died. Our 20-year old niece moved in for the weekend, when I was off with Mum, because she loves our son, who was 24 at the time, and wanted to be there for him. And for me. She decided I’d be happier when I got home if they’d cleaned the kitchen while I was away. They cleaned the kitchen – including moving the heavy appliances and scrubbing floors and walls beneath and behind. Went to the supermarket and bought a kalanchoe for me too – it’s still on my kitchen window-sill. Different kitchen, that’s all. The niece has had problems living with her parents, and our marriage was seriously on the rocks by then – she just stayed for four months, and it made things better.

My Mum’s younger sister had been sick with breast cancer metastasized into her liver for six months by then – two weeks after Mum died we found out Jane’s chemo had worked. But the same week, my stepfather was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, into bones. In January, it turned out my aunt’s chemo hadn’t been that successful after all, and it had caused complications that robbed her of mobility and quality of life. It was important to me that I be in my own place by April 17th, and things worked out and I was to move on the 15th, Easter 2. On the 14th, my stepmother had a seizure. She died before the ambulance arrived; the paramedics restarted her heart, but her brain had died already. She was pronounced dead just after midnight on the 15th, and I went ahead and moved that afternoon.

I hadn’t considered the impact that not living with the kids any more would have on me. But by May, my aunt needed help sometimes, and in July she was in the hospital, and August, the hospice. I didn’t think she’d survive to her birthday the end of September, but she did and we had a party at the hospice. She survived my stepfather by a week. Now, Dad’s sick, and it’s spring, and I’m remembering what solace gardening used to be, and the birds that came to the feeders and the birdbath.

So, last week, I was entitled to feel bad. Wednesday afternoon I phoned my spiritual guide, and cried on the phone. He said, “You need to get out of yourself – pick up the phone and make some calls til you’ve listened to someone who needed it.” And I said, “I don’t want to talk to anyone.” It’d been hard enough phoning HIM, and he’s heard me cry lots of times. He laughed, and said, “What difference does it make, what you want?” I already knew he was right, and I made three calls – got two people and a machine – and I DID feel better. Until I stopped.

I work in a church office – Thursday’s midweek Eucharist, and there’s full coffee hour after; I take my coffee break with them. Someone said to me, “I’m going to the Mission to Seafarers for lunch today – will you come with me?” And I CRIED. Gee, I hate that. He said, “There will be people there, and I’ll know them, but it will be more fun if you come with me.” On the way back to work after, he said, “You don’t have to answer, but why did you cry when I asked you to come to lunch?” “Because I get so lonely.” That’s the night I went home and got the migraine, and spent two days sleeping around the clock.

The migraine was fading Saturday night, and I got back to e-mailing my spiritual guide. I told him, I want all these things, listed them – some were less self-serving than others – the list included, being able to show up and be loving and useful, and to be able to ask for things without insisting that I get them. Then there were things that I want because I want them. I ended up with, “So what the HELL am I supposed to pray?” Went straight to bed after sending that; I’m not always a reasonable person.

Sunday morning I woke up early and had the luxury of lying in bed, looking at the ceiling and listening to the birds. Wish I could identify more of them by their voices – I knew the mourning doves, of course. After an hour of that, I had a very good idea of what to pray. Just in case I didn’t, there was an e-mail. It said this, and that’s all:

“God, I offer myself to Thee, to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy power, Thy love, and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always.”

It looked pretty much just like that too, including the red type – we’ve had this conversation before, more than once … He's been very patient.

For those of you who don’t know it, that prayer appears in the AA literature as The Third Step Prayer. The Third Step being, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over the care of God, as we understood Him.” I got out of bed and started my prayers as I always do – with the Serenity Prayer. I usually have to do that one several times, to get into the place I need to be when praying. Then the Third Step prayer. Then the Francis of Assisi prayer – the one that starts, “Make me a channel of Thy peace …” Then I prayed for people I love, and as an old friend used to say, “and especially for the ones I don’t.” After that, I told God I still would like the things I’d said I wanted the night before, and patience, and the ability to hear the word No too.

After that, I got dressed and left for church – it was beautiful out, sunny, magnolias and cherry tree in bloom. There’s a quartet at church, sings, guitar accompaniment – highly controversial but I love them and I hadn’t known they were playing Sunday, or I’d have gone earlier for prelude. My favourite homiletics professor is a member of my congregation – he recently finished a book on Paul, and was asked to preach Sunday to tell us about it. I told him before I took courses from him, “I rarely agree with you, but you’re always compelling – that’s why I’m taking your course.” He had a message I really needed to hear; and we talked after.

This is long enough for one night – things have been getting better since then. I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow or Thursday. What I’m seeing in all of this, is that my perception of reality doesn’t always line up with the rest of the world’s. Famous last words -- "Of course, I could be wrong ..."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Since it's Monday, and it's raining, and the temperatures dropped ...

Last week I sent one of my best friends a VERY LOVELY POEM by Mary Oliver, because it reminded me of her. She sent back a note that said, “Oh, and this reminded me of you … I don’t know why … but it did.” Then Jan posted a Savage Chicken Cartoon over at Yearning for God, so I decided to post this, to brighten a crummy kind of day. I do play Scrabble.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Marx Brothers

No, it’s not a video – it’s an old vaudeville routine, that I’m sure comes from the Marx Brothers.

Straightman: I’ve been in bed for three weeks with acute hepatitis.

Groucho: Which one, you lucky dog? They’re both cute, those Hepatitis girls!

I spent Friday and Saturday in bed with a migraine. Today, church was wonderful – I did the intercessions and remembered Kristin and the melanoma, a phone call to Dad (who is holding his own), cooked some vegetables, and now I’m getting ready for a meeting tonight. I’ll catch up with something more interesting soon.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wonderin' Where the Lions Are

I’d been thinking about saving this up for a Friday night, to be a cultural icon, cuz Bruce Cockburn is one. But I changed my mind.

Two years ago last month, God got hold of me in a way I’d never felt before. This song became the anthem of my healing. “Had another dream about the lions at the door, and they weren’t so frightening as they were before. And I’m thinking about eternity. Some kind of ecstasy’s got a hold on me.”

It’s not that the lions don’t show up at the door. It’s that I wasn’t so scared of them any more. Eternity. Ecstasy. That’s what I was able to pay attention to.

Tonight, the lions seem to be right outside the door, and I’m not so aware of the ecstasy’s hold on me. I suspect that like the lions, it’s still here – I’m just wonderin’ where it is right now. I’ve asked for help, and now this is my finding expedition.

I sure hope you guys all like Bruce Cockburn, cuz I love him and you’re bound to hear more. Still writing great protest songs, and songs about God, and the poetry of his songs speaks to me. And he does great fingerwork on that guitar.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Canadian Cultural Icons -- Number Four

I realized this week that two Fridays in a row, I’ve given you Canadian cultural icons. That was accidental, but now it’s a tradition. Technically, it’s Saturday, but since I haven’t gone to bed yet ….

I ain’t apologizing for this. In 1966, when Robert Gordon Orr first stepped onto the ice as a Boston Bruin, I was 11 years old. I haven’t fallen out of love since. I don’t watch NHL hockey these days – too many teams and the talent’s spread too thin. (I watch Coach’s Corner when I’m home on Saturday nights though.)

But this – it hadn’t occurred to me to look up Bobby on YouTube before tonight. I watched four separate videos. Watched this one twice. The man was stupendous. There’s a goal at 45 seconds into the video that’s impossible; and a play at about the three-minute mark that would be unbelievable, except he did it all the time.

I can’t believe I watched the breakaways in the videos tonight, sitting at my desk, saying, “Go, Bobby, go! Go! Go!” Like I’d never seen it before. I ain’t apologizing.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Only goodness and steadfast love shall pursue me ...

Yesterday afternoon, I went and did whatever the heck I liked. Who’da ever thunk of that?

I took my new camera, and went down to Cootes Paradise. When Captain Coote first saw this wetland, sometime in the 16th Century, he said it was Paradise. It’s not quite as paradisic as once it was, but there’s a concerted effort to restore what can be restored – safeguard the land from further urban encroachment, guard the native Carolinian forest, remove the carp some fools released in there years ago, and restock with the type of fish that belong there. And they dredged out a lot of toxic-waste-filled muck from the old harbour, and are assisting the wetland to reclaim some of the harbour as well. There’s still shipping, but there’s also parkland, cafés, and a groomed trail.

The first two pictures are at the western entrance to the trail, Princess Point. My feet were in the same place, just shifted from an east view, with the pavement, to a north view, with the geese. You can just see some fence along the top of the hill on the east view – behind that is one of the busiest highways in southern Ontario. There’s a picture of Cootes Paradise next – across the water is preserved forest, and the far side of that forest was right behind my backyard when I was growing up. It was our playground.

Then a water picture, with a bridge on the horizon. That is the Skyway Bridge, beyond it is the western tip of Lake Ontario. A lot of Great Lakes shipping goes through here, and right behind me as I took the picture, a major rail line. The last picture is of a four-man rowing team, practicing. Behind them, you can see some of the cafes and the museum at the eastern end of the trail. There’s park there, and the shipping harbour on the far side of that. I didn’t take pictures of that for you; you can all imagine it.

What I wanted yesterday was the water. Water’s good for me; so is rock, big rock, but there’s not the right kind close by. I did preach on the 23rd Psalm on Sunday – in the Jewish Publication Society’s Hebrew-English Tanakh, it’s translated, “He leads me to water in places of repose; he restores my life.” I walked almost 10km yesterday on that excursion; took 46 photographs. Bird – you might get birds pretty soon – there are LOTS of Canada geese, and I got a nice one of a female American goldfinch. I sat on a bench and looked out at Captain Cootes’ idea of paradise for a while yesterday, where I took the two water pictures – and got my soul a little restored.

Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

I thought of the title of this song this afternoon, when I was replying to the comments thread on my anniversary post. So I looked for it on YouTube, and when I was listening to it, I thought of a couple of people who’ve heard these words from me a lot recently. Yes, I want somebody to love. And, I get by with a lot of help from my friends.

MP – I’m apologizing in advance; that’s the best I can do.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Starry, Starry Night

Read the Anniversary post first, then watch the video. Trust me on this.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

An Anniversary

I’ve just been aching the last couple of days. Not physically, on the inside. I went to work and was useful and productive and sweet when I needed to be. Actually, I do ache physically after all that – my shoulders, neck and upper back are showing the strain of having, essentially, lied about how I am all day long.

I don’t WANT to talk about it. I feel like it’s all I ever talk about. I’m tired of feeling like this.

I’ve said a little here about the last couple of years – there’s been a lot of change. In August 2006 my Mum started feeling sick – couldn’t hold down food. She had some tests and called me at work one day to tell me that she’d just been diagnosed with diabetes and it was all my fault. After all, diabetes is hereditary, and I have it, so I must have passed it on to her.

A couple of weeks later she stopped in my office, and said, “I have your stepfather’s glucose meter here, and I don’t know how to use it.” I unpacked it all, and said, “You can’t use it, Mum. There’s no test strips in here.” She was sitting at a round table, and I said, “Mine’s in my purse; I’ll check your sugar.” She held her hand out to me across the table. I looked at the inside of her arm, and said, “You’re yellow.” She said, “Wally [stepfather] says I’m not.” And I stretched my arm out beside hers and said, “You’re yellow.” Then I tested her blood sugar, which was a little high. She said she had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon, and then she left.

I walked into my boss’ office – he was also my parish priest – and said, “That was my Mum – she wanted me to teach her to test her blood sugar.” Rick said, “It sounded something like that. I didn’t know who it was, but you sounded like you had it taken care of, so I just left you to it.” I said, “She’s dying.” There was something about the texture of the skin on her inner forearm. He asked of what, and I said I didn’t know yet. I went home from work and cried myself to sleep, and woke up a couple of hours later. I looked at the clock, and eight minutes later the phone rang. My mother had pancreatic and liver cancers. It took seven weeks. She turned 72 on November 6th, and died on the 13th.

It hadn’t been a good relationship. About 10 days after she was diagnosed, I spent Sunday afternoon with her, and put her to bed for a nap around 5 in the afternoon. I sat with her, and said, “You know, you’re a giant pain in the ass. And I’ve wanted to strangle you at least once a week for the last 35 years. I want you to know – I love you and this is breaking my heart.” Mum said, “I don’t want to break your heart,” and I told her she didn’t get to choose. Then she said, “I didn’t want to be a pain in the ass, especially to my children.” I told her, I don’t think you get out of life without being a pain in the ass to your children. That conversation was all it took. I was able to show up, and be useful, loving and kind to her until the end. I moved in on the last Thursday after work – she’d fallen out of bed twice Wednesday night (trying to get to the bathroom) and my stepfather, who was 92, couldn’t lift her and called paramedics twice. I sat up, dozing and knitting, in a Lazy-Boy beside her bed for a couple of nights, to keep her in it.

I did go to work for a couple of hours Friday morning, while someone else was there. Saturday afternoon, I went out with my sisters-in-law for coffee -- it seemed like a good idea at the time, and I love them, and it was interminable. When I got back, one of the caregivers came to clean Mum up and change her clothes. She was taking a lot of morphine, and she’d zone right out, stroke your arm, whatever you were wearing, and say, “I like your shirt.” That’s what she did with me. I hadn’t taken any clothes with me on the Thursday; I’d gone straight from work, and we were about the same size. I said, “I’m glad you like the shirt, Mum – it’s your shirt.” She didn’t say anything, and I said, “The pants are yours too.” She still didn’t say anything, and I said, “Actually, these panties I’m wearing are yours.” She rolled her eyes at the caregiver, and sighed, “Children.” That was the last lucid conversation. I called the ambulance to take her to the hospital that night. Stayed at the hospital with her, except for a trip out to shower Monday morning. My sister came, and we both stayed, and held her hands, and whispered love to her as she crossed over. It was lovely, and holy.

The women in her family had all, until then, lived into their 90’s, even 100’s. It’s not like I didn’t think we’d ever do this – I thought we had 20 more years. Her younger sister was ill then too, and died this past October. I spent a lot of the time between September ’06 and October ’07 fighting, and hating, and being angry, at Death and God. I would cry and rage at God. A lot.

I’ll tell you something – I did that. I KNEW God was there – incomprehensible and distant, it felt sometimes, but always there. And I was being taken care of by God. Addiction’s a family disease, and I’ve got my share. I was relieved of the obsession and desire for two addictions a few months before Mum got sick. I got to show up every day – God did that for me, and in the nick of time. I got to walk out of the hospital after Mum died, knowing that no-one made me do anything I hadn’t wanted to in all this, and no-one talked me out of doing what felt right. That I’d had to make certain decisions on my own in the weekend before she died, and I’d come away, for the first time, the adult in my own life.

So, why tonight? Well, my marriage had come apart too, after 25 years. We were still sharing living quarters, but I’d been sleeping in the computer room for a long time. Mum knew, while she was dying, that I’d be leaving, and she said one day, “I hoped I’d get to see you in your own apartment.” I said, “When you’re a star in the sky, you can look in the window.”

As my one-year anniversary approached in my 12-Step program, I knew – I needed to be in my own place, out of my marriage, before that anniversary. It will be two years on Thursday, the 17th. I moved a year ago today. My Mum never got to see my place. Her sister, my aunt, was too sick a year ago now to manage the stairs, so she never saw it either. I have furniture from both of them in here. And it’s a clear, cold night in southern Ontario – lots of stars. I just opened the blinds, so any of those stars in the sky that want to, can look in. There is love in the universe, and God is infinitely good.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It didn't feel like spring at the time

These were taken Friday. It DIDN’T feel like spring. At 5 in the afternoon it was 3C degrees, foggy, windy and trying hard to rain.

Friday didn’t start off auspiciously. I was the last of five in the house to get in the shower, and someone had started a load of laundry by then. Shower started off tepid, and got cold very fast. Well, it was awful, but it was short. I was getting ready for a 10 o’clock appointment, and got a call saying, “Could you come at 11 instead?” Bliss. I returned the call to let them know I’d got the message, and they said, “Would it be okay to put it off til next week?” YES! I got back into bed and slept for a couple more hours.

I hung around in my robe all day – I wasn’t going out in that. Until there was a real, honest-to-Pete crisis – I ran out of coffee cream. Urgh. Since I was going out, I took my camera. I bought myself a cup of coffee and a salad, and on the way home, passed a house that has a very pretty garden, in garden season. Lots of periwinkle on the front lawn, instead of grass – no mowing, and does well in shade. So, here you are.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Tomorrow is the day my friend Oystercard leaves England for his three-month trip to the Estadosunidense. Long-awaited and anticipated.

Dear Heart, I hope you don’t have a nice, safe holiday. I hope you have adventures and excitement and fall into the hands of Amazons and Pirates and escape with the aid of thrilling strangers. Remember that if your passport and credit cards and luggage are stolen, you can just get new ones. The worst that could happen is that your dick could fall off – for all else, there’s Plan Q or Plan W or Plan N or something. If I can possibly manage to show up in Texas or NYC while you’re there, I will. Not on your way into NYC, on your way out.

May the Beloved bless you and keep you.
May he make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
May he lift the light of his countenance upon you,
and give you his peace.

Autism Speaks

I dropped in at one of Ellie’s places again today. It’s always worth the visit; thank you, Ellie. She has a link to a video – every time someone watches it, $0.40 is donated to Autism Speaks. Here’s a link to the organization’s site in Canada as well.

There’s a child in my extended family who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at age 14. Autism and Asperger Syndrome are types of PDD: Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Neurologists explained to our family that Asperger is a social communication handicap, at the high-functioning end of the autism continuum. That was 12 years ago.

That child is now an adult. He completed high school, taking an extra year to do so, because he needed extra help. He took a training course at Amity/Goodwill, learning how to work in a retail environment, and then worked four years for Blockbuster Video, without ever telling them of his diagnosis. One of his areas of intense focus was movies and video games anyway (yeah, I know, you think your kid has that – hah!) and he was exceptionally gifted at remembering what regular customers liked, and recommending things they’d like next. Now, he’s working full-time as a security guard. Graduated to full-time recently, and is getting ready to move out into his own apartment. His parents thought, at one point, he would be living with them, or with assistance, forever. Good education and training opportunities do make a difference in autistic children.

If you'd like to see a success story about a child who was diagnosed with severe autism in 1950, look up Dr. Temple Grandin. She is now an Assosicate Professor at Colorado State University, specializing in animal behaviour. She was the subject of the title study in Oliver Sach's book, "An Anthropologist from Mars". She's also written books on autism: "Emergence: Labelled Austistic"; "Thinking in Pictures and Other Reports from my Life with Autism"; and her newest, winner of the Foreword Book of the Year Award in 2006, "Unwriteen Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries through the Unique Perspectives of Autism", co-authored by Sean Barron and Veronica Zysk.

For another, there's Albert Einstein. Many experts in the PDD field believe he had Asperger Syndrome.

When PDD kids can talk, they often miss other levels of communication – body language, facial expression, tone of voice … Think about how much meaning those things convey. It’s a sensory-overload disorder. Making eye contact while talking was impossible for this child. If you’re always looking over the right shoulder of the person you’re talking to, you hear a lot of adults-in-authority saying, “You’re not paying attention! Look at me while I’m talking to you!” And peers don’t talk to you at all, unless they’re bullying.

One day, someone said to this Person-Living-With-Asperger (he was about 21 then), “You’re looking me in the eye while I’m talking to you!” “No, he said “I learned what to do about that. I look here [pointed to the “third eye” in the forehead between the eyebrows], and then people THINK I’m looking them in the eye, and they’re more comfortable.” Autism/Asperger/PDD is NOT a hopeless diagnosis -- but much support and help are needed.

Canadian Cultural Icons, Parte Trois

The first two parts were kd and Leonard.

I haven’t left you anything new in a week. Quick update – Dad’s home from the hospital; supposed to be seeing a specialist de temps en temps, on restricted fluids, and very low salt. In the hospital last week, I said, “Are you supposed to stay on the low-salt thing when you get home, Dad?” “Supposed to.” “Yeah, that’s what I thought …” I might post what I’ve felt and written, and I’ll warn you in the title – it ain't fun.

But for tonight, I'm tired and need uplifting, so … Everyone, meet Moxy Fruvous and “The King of Spain”. The video quality here’s awful; the audio’s good enough to hear the lyrics. This song was their first single, off the Bargainville album of 1994.

For those of you east of the pond or south of the 49th Parallel, “the Habs” are the Montréal Canadiens, of the NHL.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Growing tranquility at home

Yesterday I saw this picture (which I’ve stolen) at Does Not Wisdom Call, which I visit almost daily. Ellie, I think that just looking at the picture did exactly what you intended – the tension just drained out of me. I like bare wooden floors, and rocking chairs, and bare white walls – calming. I like patches of intense colour against the white bareness, soft cushions and warm blankets against wooden floors and stone walls.

I really like rocking chairs. I live in small quarters right now, and I own three chairs. Two are rockers. One was my great-grandfather’s. It’s at least 100 years old – the veneer is quarter-sawn white oak, and it’s been stained – the man who repaired the seat for me told me to try mixing two-thirds walnut stain and one-third cherry to start trying to match the colour. The other is more of a glider – it’s a modern, mass-produced piece of furniture, wooden frame with seat and back cushions in a light-green, nubby fabric, and it has a footstool to match.

This past Christmas was very difficult for me. It’s even hard for me, still, to write this down. In November 2006, my mother died, seven weeks after she was diagnosed with cancer. In the following eleven months, both my stepparents and my aunt died, and I moved out of our marriage. We were married in June 1981, started dating in December 1978. By this past Christmas I was exhausted. I couldn’t manage Christmas very well. People would take me places, concerts and things, and I’d spend a lot of time in the Ladies’ Room, trying to fix my make-up. I haven’t found a really tear-proof mascara yet.

I had two weeks off work at Christmas, and eventually, I developed the common sense to start telling people, “No, thanks,” when they asked me out to happy Christmas events. I needed more than rest – I needed some tranquility. Little by little, over the course of the two weeks, I found what worked for me.

Early in December, I’d helped a friend at her annual pottery show, and I’d taken payment in pottery – cups and saucers for coffee. One, I gave away. And coffee – decaf seemed like the best idea, since revving up was the last thing I’d wanted. I have a friend who’d lived in Turkey for a while. He said a drop or two of cardamom oil in Turkish coffee was wonderful. I didn’t have any of the oil, but I’d crush a couple of pods, take out the seeds and crush them a little more, then drop them in the carafe of the coffee pot, with the cream already in, before I turned the machine on. (If you put the cream in first, it doesn’t make the coffee cold when you pour it.)

I knit. In November I’d bought some wool to make socks to send to a cousin in Saskatoon (it’s very cold there). There was this gorgeous-coloured stuff across the room in the store, first thing I saw when I walked in, and I resolutely refused to spend money on it. On checking out, I asked the owner what a sample pair of mittens had been made of, and she said, “Oh, that’s a kit. There’s only two left.” She went to show me – there was only one left, and it was that gorgeous-coloured stuff. The mittens were so soft – one strand of wool from blue Leicester sheep, and one of mohair, both skeins hand-dyed in four different vats. I bought it. The mittens were mostly plain knitting, around and around in circles. I can do that in my sleep.

Finally, I have a double-CD set of Yo-Yo Ma playing the Bach Unaccompanied Cello Suites, from the film series, “Inspired by Bach”. These things altogether became my path to tranquility. I’d make the coffee with scent of cardamom in it, pour it into one of my beautiful cups, sit in my aunt’s glider with an afghan I’d made over my lap to keep warm. Knit the gorgeous-coloured very soft wool. Listen to Bach. When I’d gone through all six Cello Suites, sometimes I’d play a Sufi Bismillah chant – “Blessed be Allah, the merciful, the compassionate”, that my friend with the cardamom oil had sent. Sometimes, I’d chant along with them.

I called it “sensory drowning”. I’ve got some deep purple mohair now, and I’m making a shawl for myself. It’s at a stage where I have to pay some attention – starting the lace edging. Once I’ve got the first two rows of lace done, my fingers will work it on automatic pilot again. I’ll post a picture. In the meantime, here’s a sample of the music.

More Leonard Cohen

I’ve just watched Leonard Cohen singing “Hallelujah” his own self over at PJ’s, and I liked it more than I usually like his singing. (Except for “Suzanne”.) So here’s some Leonard Cohen to enjoy in silence.

Beneath My Hands ("In my hands, your small breasts ...") from "The Spice-Box of Earth"

Beneath my hands
your small breasts
are the upturned bellies
of breathing fallen sparrows.

Wherever you move
I hear the sounds of closing wings
of falling wings.

I am speechless
because you have fallen beside me
because your eyelashes
are the spines of tiny fragile animals.

I dread the time
when your mouth
begins to call me hunter.

When you call me close
to tell me
your body is not beautiful
I want to summon
the eyes and hidden mouths
of stone and light and water
to testify against you.

I want them
to surrender before you
the trembling rhyme of your face
from their deep caskets.

When you call me close
to tell me
your body is not beautiful
I want my body and my hands
to be pools
for your looking and laughing.

Poem ("I heard of a man ...") from "Let Us Compare Mythologies"

I heard of a man
who says words so beautifully
that if he only speaks their name
women give themselves to him.

If I am dumb beside your body
while silence blossoms like tumours on our lips.
it is because I hear a man climb stairs and clear his throat outside the door.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


I signed up for daily readings sent from Inward/Outward, from the Church of Our Saviour in Washington, D.C., recently. I think I found them through one of Ellie Finlay’s blogs. This is the reading I received this morning. It has a lot of meaning for me today, after making the decision to withdraw from the M.Div. program over the last few months.

Doing Who I Am

Parker Palmer

If I try to be or do something noble that has nothing to do with who I am, I may look good to others and to myself for a while. But the fact that I am exceeding my limits will eventually have consequences. I will distort myself, the other, and our relationship---and may end up doing more damage than if I had never set out to do this particular “good.” When I try to do something that is not in my nature or the nature of the relationship, way will close behind me.... When the gift I give to the other is integral to my own nature, when it comes from a place of organic reality within me, it will renew itself---and me---even as I give it away.

Source: Let Your Life Speak

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Hallelujah Worth Proclaiming

For everyone who suffered through the version at MadPriest’s earlier today, and especially for those who didn’t. This one’s from the 2005 Juno (Canadian Music) Awards.

And MP posted a better version here. And it's really lovely.

I'm Going to Have to Change My Profile

It says I’m half-way through an M.Div, at Trinity College in Toronto. That’s no longer true.

I e-mailed the Dean this afternoon. The pressure of not e-mailing him was getting to be more than I could stand. I told him I’m withdrawing from the program.

It also says in my profile – I have doubts. I’ve been a volunteer in the Anglican Church for over 20 years, at a pretty local level. There is much that’s wonderful. And it seems to me, there’s always a fight. There are fights in the parish, and everyone thinks the Rector should get involved. So they try to involve her. Or him. There are fights at the diocesan level; at the national church level; at the level of the world-wide Anglican Communion.

We don’t call them fights; there are more polite names for them.

I’ve also been employed, at the parish level, for 15 years. I started as a church secretary and wound up as the parish administrator. Well, the job changed while I was in it, and that was partly because of me. What that meant was, I got to watch a lot of the in-fighting in the parish close up. I’ve actually been the administrator, part-time, in two different parishes for the last year. In-fighting in both.

The nature of the job is, I know a lot of clergy. Some did their internships in my parish. I’d felt called to ordained priesthood for several years before I enrolled in school five years ago. Scared. I’ve been going part-time, so I’m half-way through a three-year program. Many of my classmates have graduated and are in parishes now. It’s much the same, in-fighting all over, seems to me.

There have been a lot of changes in my life in the last two years, some I engineered and some just happened. As a result, I changed. I stopped doing what I felt was necessary to maintain peace all the time, started setting boundaries. (I hate that phrase, but what else am I going to say?) Even more important, I started holding my boundaries. This past six or eight months, I’ve set the boundaries, and when someone violated them, I’ve walked away from the fight. That’s VERY powerful. And peaceful. I like not being in the fights, and I don’t want to be in any more.

This fall and winter, I've been doing my pre-internship placement. The parish is different than I’m used to. They expect a sermon based on a very literal interpretation of the Gospel for the day. I’m next scheduled to preach on Easter 3, Good Shepherd Sunday. I can’t preach on that gospel – I don’t believe Jesus is the only way for the sheep to enter the fold. On Good Friday, I was helping to say the Solemn Intercessions, one of which says something like, we pray that everyone, everywhere, hears the Gospel preached and comes to Jesus. I had to read that one, and I was silently apologizing to God for telling lies in church.

There are so many good things about the Anglican Church, its people. I haven’t left the church. And, I have come to recognize my gifts: I’d have been a good priest. But I’m not the same person I was when I started this process. I’ve prayed a lot, and discussed it with the person I go to for guidance. I no longer believe this is what God’s calling me to do – there’s a different path ahead of me. I haven’t told the parish priest who’s supervising my placement yet. I haven't told anyone in the church yet, except the Dean of the College. This is public, but it’s not that public – I’m not aware of anyone in the Diocese who reads the Chronicles.

So, at 52 years old, I’m becoming a university dropout. I let go of a burden when I wrote the Dean this afternoon. I’m trying to get ready to tell people in my life. So many people have been supportive, expressed such confidence and hope in me. This will disappoint some of them, and I would rather not do that, but I can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing, and lying about it.

Thanks for listening, everyone. And thanks for the prayers you’ve been offering on behalf of my family and me.

Dad Update

His heart rate dropped a lot on Saturday, which scared some people. He's still in a curtained area in Emerg; but they're planning to move him into a room. His doctor works part-time, and hasn't been in to the hospital yet, and Dad can't be discharged without a doctor's orders. And his belly's tight again already -- his liver's putting out a lot of fluid.

Basically, everything's the same, and he'll still be in hospital tomorrow. He's eating, and not so sleep-medicated. Hospital's probably safe for him, but he's not happy there. We’re hoping for his discharge tomorrow.

Here’s a picture of my sister, Dad, and me (the blonde one) in happier times – summer of 1960, I’m guessing by the size of us. Yes, I know it's missing something, but it's the only one available on the computer.