Friday, May 30, 2008

Alice Walker and The Color Purple -- Boy, It's Hard to Remember to Spell American

This is so cool. It is grey, chilly, damp today in southern Ontario. It’s not supposed to be, at the end of May, but it is. And The Weather Network SAID it was 19C today – but it sure didn’t feel like it. I felt about appropriate to the weather, and I took my camera out to walk the South Shore Trail and see if there were any trilliums left. If not, what there is. I didn’t make it to the trail though – when I woke up this morning I got a bad cramp in my left leg, and it took me a while to realize it was still bugging me. All I knew was, walking was uncomfortable.

The only cheerful thing was a house with wisteria. Not the deep purple kind I love best, but wisteria nevertheless. First I’ve seen this year. Somehow, as I walked into the village and back, I started to think of Shug Avery telling Miss Celie in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple that she thinks God just wants to be admired. Then I started to notice how many purple flowers there are today – lilacs, irises, periwinkle, violets, pansies, columbines, wisteria, tulips. I ran out of memory or battery on the camera before I got to the lilacs – got to smell them though.

I started taking pictures of all the ones I could. The woman at the wisteria house came home from work while I was taking pictures – I asked her if she minded, and she said no. She said, they’d never been as good as they are this year, and she doesn’t know why the one branch in particular was so spectacular. The woman at the Brew-Your-Own-Wine-And-Beer store came out and asked if I was a professional photographer, and I said no, just taking the pictures to make myself happy, and did she mind? Nope. She even offered to come and take MY picture in HER garden!

Then a man with a dog stopped to talk, while I was taking pictures of the hidden purple pansies – it wasn’t his house, it was his friend’s. He said her garden is whimsical. He lives around the corner. His wife had passed away last summer, after more than 40 years. He’s a photographer, and gave me his card so I could see some of his work online. Wow! He’s a PHOTOGRAPHER. Me – I’m making myself happy and learning how to use my new camera. We talked about living alone after decades of marriage, and the difficulties of cooking and eating alone. He has a very nice dog, too.

Then I came home and SAW my pictures. They made me very happy. I wanted to share more of them than I can easily on the blog, and I wanted them big, on a black ground. There was no help for it – had to be PowerPoint. I hate PowerPoint presentations at seminars, in school, in church … And, I’ve never done one. But I DID today, and I did it myself, without asking for help. Then I wanted to upload it here, and found out that’s not as easy as picking up a video from YouTube. I followed links to several sites that are supposed to help you make your PPT files embeddable – one’s not taking new subscriber’s, one didn’t work, one I’d have to start from scratch … Ugh. But I was happy, excited and persistent, and VIOLA!!! Here they are. Well, some of them. I took about 60 – I’m not making you watch them ALL. I won’t be test-driving this til I’ve published – if the pages advance every five seconds like I set them, it should take about a minute.

So -- I met three new people and one very nice dog. I learned two new things. I not only stopped to admire the colour purple, I went looking for it, and I'm sharing. I don’t think God’s gonna be pissed off with us today.

Read this doc on Scribd: I think it pisses God off

Canadian Cultural Icon Night -- Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is certainly a Canadian Cultural Icon. She’s been publishing since the early 1960’s – she has a terrific volume of much-honoured public work. When I was in high school in the early 1970’s, we read Surfacing. When I was in college we read Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature and The Edible Woman. Lady Oracle is still one of my favourites, and my sister has every Atwood novel, first edition, hard cover, usually autographed. I’ve been reading poetry this year, and I have Morning in the Burned House and The Door on my bedside table right now.

This is a list, from Wikipedia, of her published novels and books of poetry – there are short stories, anthologies, children’s books and non-fiction also listed.


Poetry collections

She’s an activist – a feminist and environmentalist. I tried to find a link to her reading some of her own work – but I found this video instead, and I like it.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Canadian Cultural Icon -- Anne Murray

This video has all the earmarks of being illegally recorded on a cellphone. The colour and brightness and focus are bad. The sound’s not really great either. The song’s kinda mushy too.

But it’s a totally classic Anne Murray song. One of the best. She has a fabulous voice. She still looks, after all these years, like a phys ed. teacher, in a good way. And face it – if she’d been a phys ed. teacher, she’da been the one you loved. The one you could ASK stuff – even the hard stuff.

This was recorded last month, in Moncton, New Brunswick, which isn’t far from home for Anne. The sound worked a little better for me when I turned it down on the computer, and let the speakers do the work. Enjoy!!!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Those Dark Nights of the Soul

Last night was one of mine. I got home late and cold, after a too-long day, even though it had really good stuff in it. I hadn’t had supper yet, so I was hungry. I struggle with there not being anybody THERE sometimes – I pray, and there are people I talk to, on the phone or by e-mail – but someone THERE, physically present … I’m still not over living with my son and my niece, and all their friends around all the time. And my present circumstances mean, I don’t have any pets. Something’s gotta change here, and I’ve started shifting something to make the change happen.

I did some of the right things – ate. E-mailed someone else who absolutely loves me, and told how I was feeling. Started looking a little outward at something someone else was struggling with. And – this is hard to admit. Knowing that what I need was time with God and not being willing to take it. Because, I knew if I let go and told God everything I’d cry again, and I just didn’t want to. I was feeling defiant, is maybe the right word. Crying is getting old.

But I did go looking for God. And I found what I needed – funny how that happens, isn’t it? It was the picture that hooked me first. I only skimmed the story a little, intent on going back to the picture. Something about the first paragraph caught me, and I read it carefully, and the whole rest of the article. Then I read it all several times, and rested in the certain knowledge that, no matter how awful and alone I may feel, it is not possible to be in a place or time where God is not.

After that I wrote and thanked the person who pointed me in the direction of this. (I’m keeping her anonymous here, but some of you may recognize the editor of this blog.) Saying thank you is very important – the most important thing we can do. And I e-mailed some more with the person I’d told on myself, got to the point where it was fun, and I felt warm, sweet and happy by the time I fell into bed. God IS good, and always there, and sometimes I’m even willing to find that out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Catching Up -- Family Stuff -- The Late Mother's Day Edition

Family Stuff can be so hard to deal with; and it’s rewarding or heartbreaking; and God’s always in it. A lot of this is family stuff that rose up before and around Mother’s Day. That was a weekend full of listening to people and trying to carry their messages on to others, and there was no time and I was tired, too. I took a course in Div College once, called “Group Spiritual Direction”. Every Saturday, 9 – 4, for several months – theory in the morning and small group practicum in the afternoon. We were trying to learn to listen with God’s ears – I thnk last weekend that bore some fruit. It all turned out much better than it could have. I grew, at least, some gratitude and compassion for a couple of people who’d only brought aggravation to me before (and they did last weekend too), and the beginning of cordial relations with one of them. I’m not talking family here – these are people I volunteer with.

Okay, on to the family stuff. Mother’s Day has always been kind of an ache. I spent too many Mother’s Days cleaning the house and cooking so HIS mother could have a nice Mother’s Day, and I didn’t get to see mine, and no-one ever offered to take ME out for brunch or supper or anything … My Sister-in-Law at some point took over hosting Mother’s Day dinners – I think so we could cook on the barbecue for the first time all year. Still – I was THERE – didn’t feel like I got to make choices. It all made sense – that SIL and one niece and one nephew all have birthdays to celebrate in May too – we did ‘em all at once. Now I don’t have a Mum any more, and our son works 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on alternate Friday, Saturday, Sundays – and the alternate was Mother’s Day weekend.

What I do have is these amazing in-laws. Almost two years ago, my husband went and told his only sister that we would be separating, and I’d be the one moving out. She had told me and another SIL years earlier how grateful she was, “that my brothers married the sisters I always wanted to have.” The day after he told her we’d be separating, I talked to her on the phone, and the conversation ended with her saying, “Married to my brother or not, I still love you and you’re still my sister.” We’d already kept another SIL one of her brothers had divorced. And the youngest brother was home from far-away places in September. He was 15 or 16 when I started dating my husband back in 1978. We were sitting alone in the garden in the dark, and he said to me, “I heard about you two. I’ve done it twice, you know. No matter what happens, you’re always my sister-in-law.” My mother-in-law has offered to lend me money, should I need it. Holy mackerel.

I’ve gotta tell you – two years ago, I hated my husband, because that way I could make everything be all his fault. I worked VERY hard on seeing what my part was, and cleaning up my side of the street. Not for his sake – so our son could have what I didn’t – if he ever gets married, both his parents will show up and be polite and friendly with each other. And, it’s hard to show up at your SIL’s place for Christmas dinner if you can’t speak to your ex.

It’s not always easy. I’m the one who made the choices about separation, and I’m the one who left. I feel a lot more “separated” from my husband, internally, than he is from me. So he walks into the room and says Hi to me, and rubs my back or shoulder the way he always has – and I freeze. I haven’t figured out how to say, “Don’t ever touch me!” without sounding awful; and I guess I haven’t moved past some things enough not to want to say it. There was also the really good tickets for an event that someone gave him – something we used to do together – the first person he thought of to ask to go with him was me. (He’s a very good man, better than me in a lot of ways, and I can’t live with him.) I didn’t want, or have, to say, “Don’t ask me to go out and spend six HOURS with you!” I got to say, truthfully, I work all day on that day of the week.

So – I got invited to Mother’s Day dinner at my Mother-in-Law’s apartment, and my niece was cooking, and I went and was happy and grateful to be there. My MIL’s been in hospital or a nursing home since last August – there’s some hope she’ll still be able to go back to her apartment. And the person who was supposed to replace my son at 6 a.m. didn’t, so he stayed til 3 or so, when they got someone there. I expected he’d go sleep, but he went home and showered and changed and came back to be with us. Told me, his Mother’s Day present to me would be. my niece is gonna teach him how to make me a new apron. (My current favourite apron is 15 years old, a little grey down the front, and has at least three holes burnt through it – but the strap frayed off entirely in the last washing, and I thought I’d just replace it – he thinks I’m nuts.)

On the Monday, Dad saw the specialist for his liver. They’ve got him on a regimen of diuretics now that’s keeping the fluid levels in his body down. The crisis in March was that there was so much fluid in his belly cavity, he couldn’t eat or breathe. I talked to him after – he’s got blood work this coming Monday, and an appointment with the specialist a month after that. That means the specialist thinks he’s gonna live at least six weeks. Good. I called my sister after – she SEES Dad more than me – and said, “How is he, really?” Being so ill has left him very tired and weak. Her partner says, “He’s in really good shape for a 97-year-old man. Trouble is, he’s 77.”

Then I said to my sister, “I have something else I have to ask you.” She laughed, and said, “Where’s Mum?” Yup, that was it. When our mother died, they held her ashes in the funeral home, to be interred whenever my stepfather’s were. I hadn’t seen much of my stepfather in 2007, and his memorial service was two weeks after our aunt’s. I couldn’t cope, and didn’t go. I hadn’t realized – I didn’t know what cemetery or where. My sister said, “You know this is my busiest time of the year at work – in June, I’ll take you.” Then she told me where, and that there was a nice view of the wetland – this one, from the other side. My sister and me, that's a relationship that needed some healing too. I'd prayed about it a lot -- there was something that I need to apologize for that I haven't -- and I'm not sure what it is. She says family doesn't need to apologize -- that is, in itself, kind of a heavy weight to carry.

I was missing my Papa too, my Mum's father, this week. He died in 1976, when I was 21. He was the Rock in the family. I always thought I remembered him with rose-coloured glasses on, but all my cousins do too, so it isn't just me. There's some 8mm film around somewhere with him in, although mostly, he was doing the filming. I don't have the films though. So I went looking for people talking about their grandparents, and I found this lovely video. Hope you all enjoy it; and I hope and pray every one of us had a grandparent we feel this way about, and maybe we get to be grandparents someone will feel this way about. And that we have churches that feel like this too -- this whole sermon is full of joy and blessing for me.

Unread Books Meme

I found this at Mimi’s, and SHE said, From Paul, who got it from Padre Mickey, who got it from Caminante, and on and on, but that's as far as I'll go:

It's very hard to remember these things, if you've been reading for decades -- there are some titles on this list here that I looked and looked at, and I can't tell you if I really read them or not ... What would be fun would be to talk about which ones we did and didn't finish reading, or read again, and why.

What we have below is a list of the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing users. Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair

The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad (excerpts in school)
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations

American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West

The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead

Foucault’s Pendulum

The Count of Monte Cristo

A Clockwork Orange

Anansi Boys (it’s on its way to me from my niece – just read American Gods)
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath

The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse

Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables

The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury

Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon

Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye

On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid (excerpts in school)
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Friday, May 16, 2008

Canadian Cultural Icon Lucky No. Seven -- Gordon Lightfoot

Just because I’m going away doesn’t mean you don’t get a Friday culture pick. Well, this one’s easy. I really wanted to put “The Canadian Railroad Trilogy” up here, a Gordon Lightfoot epic from the 1960’s. It’s beautiful, and I love it, and I have a kind of love-song attachment to it, which I won’t go into here. It takes a long time though.

And this “Song for a Winter’s Night” is just sweet and lovely. MadPriest has a Send In Your Favourite Love Song thing going on now – this is in my Top Five. Haven’t sent him one yet though.

Song For A Winter's Night Lyrics
Artist: Gordon Lightfoot (Buy Gordon Lightfoot CDs)
Album: The Way I Feel

The lamp is burnin' low upon my table top
The snow is softly falling
The air is still within the silence of my room
I hear your voice softly calling
If I could only have you near
To breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
Upon this winter night with you

The smoke is rising in the shadows overhead
My glass is almost empty
I read again between the lines upon each page
The words of love you sent me
If I could know within my heart
That you were lonely too
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
Upon this winter night with you

The fire is dying now, my lamp is growing dim
The shades of night are liftin'
The morning light steals across my windowpane
Where webs of snow are driftin'
If I could only have you near
To breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
Upon this winter night with you
And to be once again with with you

Absentee Bloggerism

The last 10 days or so have been too busy, and packed with items that demanded more emotional content than I was expecting or felt prepared for. There was a big emotional scuffle in a group I belong to, and I hold a position of responsibility as a volunteer in it. An unwritten part of the job description is to pour oil on troubled waters. I don’t like conflict, and I’d prefer to run and hide, like a bunny. What I did was pray a lot, consult a lot with a third party who loves me, and do my job.

Remember To Kill a Mockingbird? There’s a point in the story where Jem and Scout are embarrassed because Atticus is much older than their friends’ parents. And he’s a lawyer – he doesn’t DO anything, like make things or sell things. Then a rabid dog walks into town, and Mr. Heck Tate, the Sheriff, calls Atticus to deal with it – the children find out their father used to be called “Old One-Shot” because he was so good with a shotgun he’d complain about wasting ammunition if it took two shots to bring down his target. Scout wants to tell everyone, and Jem won’t let her. He said he wouldn’t care if Atticus couldn’t do a blessed thing – “Atticus is a gentleman, just like me.”

Well, last weekend I had to be a gentleman, just like Jem Finch. (That is my favourite book ever – I’ve read it at least once a year since I was 12 and that means a lot – the only thing I’m surprised about now is, I haven’t quoted from it more often.

There were family issues too – Mother’s Day with my in-laws, which was lovely; Dad saw the specialist, who is encouraged; my sister said Dad’s doing fine for a 97-year old man, and that would be fine except he’s 77. Then I said to her, there’s one more thing I realized last week I need to ask you. She laughed, and said, “Where’s Mum?” That would be it. Mum’s ashes weren’t interred til my stepfather’s were, and there were reasons I didn’t go to his memorial service. So I didn’t know where Mum is, and that hurt, on Mother’s Day. I didn’t like that they were in the basement of the funeral home last year, but I did know where they were. My sister’s gonna take me out there sometime soon.

This is a long weekend in Canada. One of the best things of my week was talking on the phone at 2 o’clock this morning with a friend in Texas. He’s retired, and wasn’t sure this wasn’t going to be Memorial Day weekend too, cuz he doesn’t go to work anyway. I got kind of loopy and said, “Do you know WHY this is a long weekend in Canada?” He said No, so, I told him. “It’s Queen Victoria’s birthday.” I just won’t tell you what he said back – it won’t translate well to this venue.

So, it’s a long weekend, and I’ve had more to deal with than I wanted. I haven’t been here much. There are things I want to post on the blog, and they’re going to have to wait. I’m going away until late Monday, and I won’t have a computer available. I’m taking a camera, books, poetry, notebooks, pastels, coloured pencils, ivory and black drawing pads and knitting. Oh yeah, and some clothes and groceries and my cell phone in case my family needs me. All the things I want to do will have to wait til next week.

Frolic while I’m gone!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sometime this weekend, I'll tell you why

Psalm 139

For the leader. Of David. A Psalm.

(Trans. From the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh.)

Oh LORD, You have examined me and know me.
When I sit down or stand up you know it;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
You observe my walking and reclining,
And are familiar with all my ways.
There is not a word on my tongue
But that You, O L
ORD, know it well.

You hedge me before and behind;
You lay your hand upon me.
It is beyond my knowledge;
It is a mystery; I cannot fathom it.

Where can I escape from Your spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
if I descend to Sheol, You are there too.
If I take wing with the dawn
to come to rest on the western horizon,
even there Your hand will be guiding me,
Your right hand will be holding me fast.

If I say, ‘Surely darkness will conceal me,
night will provide me with cover;’
darkness is not dark for You,
night is as light as day,
darkness and light are the same.

It was You who created my conscience,
You fashioned me in my mother’s womb. …
I praise You,
For I am awesomely, wondrously made;
Your work is wonderful;
I know it very well.
my frame was not concealed from You
when I was shaped in a hidden place,
knit together in the recesses of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed limbs;
they were all recorded in Your book;
in due time they were formed,
to the very last one of them.

How weighty Your thoughts seem to me, O God,
How great their number!
I count them – they exceed the grains of sand;
I end – but am still with You.

O God, if you would only slay the wicked –
You murderers, away from me! –
Who invoke You for intrigue,
Your enemies who swear by you falsely.
ORD, You know I hate those who hate You,
And loathe your adversaries.
I feel a perfect hatred toward them;
I count them my enemies.

Examine me, O God, and know my mind;
probe me and know my thoughts.
See if I have vexatious ways,
and guide me in ways everlasting.

Canadian Cultural Icon Six -- Dr. David Suzuki

Tonight’s Cultural Icon is Dr. David Suzuki. He is so much a part of the culture, it’s hard to know what to say about him. I’m going to let the CBC tell you, and show you himself. He is a scientist – trained in genetics. He has become Canada’s most widely recognized environmental activist. He has hosted a television program called “The Nature of Things” for decades on the CBC. One thing I'll tell you is that he’s beloved here. Not by everyone, and the ones who he aggravates are really aggravated. That CBC article is from a series asking people to vote for the Top Ten Canadians -- he made the top ten. He takes a very spiritual approach to environmental initiatives – the video clip here is almost eight minutes long, but do watch all of it. And I’ve linked to another, a Canadian Perspective, that has the embedding disabled. In it, he talks about why his Home has so much more value than the real property he owns.

This is part of the article on the CBC's Top Ten Canadians page -- you can check out the whole thing through the link at the top of the page. Then the video.

In 1990, he founded the David Suzuki Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding innovative solutions to help conserve the natural world. Most recently the organization has advocated for Canada to back the implementation of the United Nations Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas reduction.

David Suzuki
David Suzuki

Suzuki has been awarded numerous recognitions, including a UNESCO prize for science, a United Nations Environment Program medal and an induction as an Officer of the Order of Canada. He has 15 honorary doctorates from universities in Canada, the U.S. and Australia. In addition, Canada's First Nations people have honoured him with five native names and he has been formally adopted by two tribes.

Now retired from teaching, Suzuki has dedicated himself full-time to educating the public about the importance of the natural world. It's a role that places him alongside the likes of Carl Sagan and Jacques Cousteau, and makes him one of the world's most effective ambassadors of science - and our future.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Happy and Silly Things, because I Feel Like That

This is Marmalade, my favourite cat in the world. Picture came in my e-mail today. He lives 1,200 or so miles away – I can’t have one here because the people upstairs have pretty severe allergies. Marmalade is definitely an outside cat. That birdcage sits outside on the grass with the door open all the time, and Marmalade loves to be in it. Everyone should have a place to go be happy in.

I am soooo supposed to be making and eating a large salad right now, because I didn’t make time for smaller ones at lunch and supper. And I will, honest, any minute now, only I’m having fun first. For one thing, I’m listening to Kim Mitchell singing “Patio Lanterns”, which used to aggravate my son when I lived with him – “Mum, that is the sappiest song ever written!” Yeah, I know, that’s why I love it. I was thinking maybe one night Kim Mitchell would be a Canadian Cultural Icon, although that could be stretching it, even for me.

Then I thought, if I can find it, I can post it right now! And I did find it, so here it is. A little technology in the hands of a woman who is ridiculously happy for no good reason whatsoever could be a dangerous thing. Play this nice and loud, and it’s not like that stuff the Mad One plays – you can learn the words and sing along. I am, and I’ve never heard this without dancing.

Okay, more e-mail. This first one’s from the afore-mentioned son. First and only child, born at 10:17 p.m. on December 24th. That kinda makes the Gospel of Luke sound a little different for the rest of your life. This is what he sent – I’ve gotta post the link to the video, because there’s no embed code. Trust me, it’s worth watching.


so I suppose this should be self explanatory but I fucking want one of these :P

And I said back: We'd be fools not to. I know this is crass of me, but do we have any idea how much they cost?

That was one. Then, the friend who’d sent the Chicken Scrabble cartoon a week or two ago, sent this, and it’s way kewl too:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ontario Supreme Court Ruling in Diocese of Niagara

On Monday, the Diocese of Niagara released the following document:

May 5th, 2008

Hamilton, Ontario

The Anglican Church of Canada’s Diocese of Niagara today responded to the decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Madam Justice Jane A. Milanetti found that three Anglican parishes, St. Hilda’s in Oakville and St. George’s in Lowville, and The Church of the Good Shepherd, St. Catharine’s should be shared by both the departing congregants and the members loyal to The Diocese of Niagara. The Diocese was pleased in the decision, and is now anxious to move forward.

Spokesperson for the Diocese, Archdeacon Michael D. Patterson, stated: “We are obviously very pleased with the decision, Madame Justice Milanetti accepted our proposal for sharing and joint administration as a logical interim solution. We feel that we were completely justified in resorting to the courts after negotiations failed. We can now provide ministry for loyal members of the Diocese and move forward to safeguard the physical heritage of the Churches, which were built by and have served generations of Anglicans.”

It is continued here.

This is the outcome the Diocese had wished for -- that in the parishes where the clergy and congregation had voted to secede from the Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese, both the seceding congregation and the Diocese could hold Sunday services. This also appears on the diocesan website:

Diocesan Services to resume this Sunday at St. George’s Lowville, St. Hilda’s, Oakville and The Church of the Good Shepherd, St. Catharines.

We are grateful and give thanks that Anglican Church of Canada, Diocese of Niagara, services will resume at the parish churches of St. George’s, Lowville, St. Hilda’s, Oakville, and The Church of the Good Shepherd, St. Catharines. These services will all be held at 8:30 a.m. The services will be taken by the Reverend Susan Wells at St. George’s, Canon Dr. Brian Ruttan at St. Hilda’s and the Venerable Bruce McPetrie at The Church of the Good Shepherd. These are services of healing and rebuilding and we hope will be attended by returning and continuing parishioners. We are able to return to our buildings for these services because of the May 5th court ruling of Madame Justice J. Milanetti which states in part, “The Diocese will have full access to and use of each of the three parish properties every Sunday between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. for Sunday service…”

For more information:
Archdeacon Michael Patterson

It’s a blessing and a sign of God’s grace, that we are being given the opportunity to live the Anglican tradition, and hold common ground even where we disagree. My thanks to all of you who have prayed for the Diocese and its members, and who continue to do so.

I did check the Anglican Network’s website – they haven’t updated since the court’s decision was announced.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Not Seeking Fr. Jake Any More

Thanks, everyone – Jake got in touch, and now so can I.

Antidote: James Taylor, Little Kids, and Jelly Man Kelly

When I feel bad, James Taylor’s voice makes me feel better. So last night, I went looking for him on YouTube. When I was in high school, I babysat two little kids down the street after school every day. The three-year old had multiple congenital mental and physical handicaps. So in the winter we stayed inside, and we would usually watch Sesame Street, which was new then.

I remember this clip from those days. (a) I like James Taylor, and (b) this is really happy. At least – I remembered it when I saw it last night. It never occurred to me to look for Vintage Sesame Street on YouTube. There’s a lot of it! Almost all happy.

So, here you are – a happy thing from me today, because everything is transitory, even grief. Unless we insist on getting stuck in it. Ummm, Duh. If you're reading this on GoogleReader, I posted the link instead of the embed code by mistake and then fixed it right away, but you'll get the original. Sorry.


On February 14th, a friend in Tennessee sent me an article on Ted Kooser’s Valentine poems. She’d heard him interviewed on NPR, and reading some of his Valentines. I loved them, and I’d been given some book store gift certificates for Christmas, so I ordered the book with the collected poems. (The site hasn't been updated since 2005, so the book's not shown.)

The more I read his poetry, the more I loved it. Right now, I’m reading his Delights and Shadows (2004) and also The Home Poetry Repair Manual (2005). You know the way the information age takes you places – today I found “American Life in Poetry”, a weekly newsletter, with a poem, and Kooser’s very short introduction to the poem. I’ve been reading back issues (not all 162 of them) of the newsletter, and I subscribed to it.

Column Number 84 is a poem called “Amaryllis” by Connie Wanek of Duluth, Minnesota.


A flower needs to be this size
to conceal the winter window,
and this color, the red
of a Fiat with the top down,
to impress us, dull as we've grown.

Months ago the gigantic onion of a bulb
half above the soil
stuck out its green tongue
and slowly, day by day,
the flower itself entered our world,

closed, like hands that captured a moth,
then open, as eyes open,
and the amaryllis, seeing us,
was somehow undiscouraged.
It stands before us now

as we eat our soup;
you pour a little of your drinking water
into its saucer, and a few crumbs
of fragrant earth fall
onto the tabletop.

My Mum’s birthday was November 6th. Every year, I’d buy her an amaryllis bulb for her birthday. She would plant it in an 18-inch long terracotta planter shaped like a camel, lying down – the flower would grow where the hump oughtta be. It would bloom by Christmas. Mum loved them for the same reasons I didn’t – they’re huge, and bright red and ostentatiously flamboyant. That’s how she liked things. I like things smaller and quieter, modest and reserved. African violets. Forget-me-nots. Nicotiana. But I bought them for her, the reddest ones, at the supermarket.

Except, in 2006, it was different. Her cancers were diagnosed on September 21st. Thursday. On the weekend, my sister said to me, “She said the doctors said months. Christmas?” I said, no, not Christmas. “Her birthday, if she can start to eat.” So, I bought the Amaryllis bulb early that year. A friend had taken me to the Mum Show in the greenhouses in Gage Park, Hamilton. A commercial nursery had a table there, with much fancier, more expensive, bulbs than I usually bought. I bought one with red and white striped flowers. I gave it to her right away, hoping she’d see it bloom.

Well, she didn’t. It bloomed about 10 days after she died. Two stalks, four blooms the size of dinner plates at the top of each one. They looked obscene, sitting there in the middle of the dining room table, while they were still two green, growing shoots. I was there the day they bloomed, and my aunt too. I sent it home with her in her car. It bloomed for a very long time.

I’m only writing this because the poem made me cry. She didn't believe in God. The day before her birthday, she asked me if I still believed in an afterlife. I said yes -- no other matter or energy just disappears. I asked if Burnie, her second husband and the one she loved best, had believed in an afterlife, and she said she didn't know; they'd never talked about it. I told her that a few days before he'd died, I'd been sitting in bed with him, both of us drinking diet Cokes I'd smuggled in. (He was on restricted fluids.) That I'd said, "I'm going to miss you, Burnie," and he'd said he'd miss me too. I think that sounds like he was expecting to be somewhere he would.

In the last few days, we told Mum it was okay to go; that Burnie and my brother Steve were waiting for her. I do believe she heard, and I do believe they were waiting for her, with all my heart.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Seeking Father Jake

I’d like to e-mail Father Jake privately about something completely unrelated to anything current on his blog. I haven’t been able to find his user profile, and I ‘druther not leave a note in one of his comments threads, because it’s unrelated. Can anyone help me out? You can e-mail me at home (; I don’t want to publish here what I don’t find published at Father Jake Stops the World. I did link his blog here though, because I like it and find him helpful. Thanks.

Be Yourself!

Jan posted a lovely quotation from the Baal Shem Tov over at Yearning for God yesterday. It reminded me of something I’ve been taught, and too often forget. Rabbi Zusya’s followers had asked him why he feared death and judgment – had he not been as righteous as Moses?

“When I am judged, God will not ask me why I was not more like Moses; God will ask me why I was not more like Zusya.”

Friday, May 2, 2008

Canadian Cultural Icon the Fifth -- Elvis!!!!

It’s Friday night, so it’s Canadian Cultural Icon time. Honest, I was thinking about going high-culture this time – Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Ben Heppner – something like that. Then I thought of this, and I couldn’t give it up. It’s a land of ice and snow, and I’ve got ice for you again – this time, the 1997 World Figure Skating Championships in Lausanne, where Elvis Stojko came from fourth place after the short program to win the whole thing, with this. It was the first time a quad-triple jump competition had been landed in competition.

Okay, I know there’s more jargon in that paragraph than in a software manual. Can’t be helped – either you know your culture, or you don’t.

I’m really sorry I couldn’t find a copy of this on YouTube from the CTV television network. Canadian commentators are, by and large, quiet during the skating program, except for, “If he’s going to do the quad, it’s coming up next,” and then, “WOW!” There was a lot of WOW with Elvis. The analysis comes in the replays. This is from ABC and the commentators from the Estados Unidense yak and yak all through skating programs. It’s very distracting – they have that music in skating events because you’re SUPPOSED to be able to hear it …

Don't Worry: We'll All Float On All Right

I’ve been thinking about how to write the happy ending Part 2 for the previous post. This isn’t anything like what I thought I was going to write, but my friend Lynda sent me this video this morning. It’s very powerful, and it shows so clearly what I’ve been feeling.

Roland, thank you for reminding me that when I’m in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I’m in the SHADOW. There’s a saying, “Hurt is inevitable in life; suffering is optional.” I get that. I’m dealing with legitimate grief. But I get stuck in the shadow sometimes, and you can’t see things clearly in shadows. That’s when I suffer from loneliness and being alone; when I’m in the shadows and wrong about what I think I’m seeing.

My aunt, the one who died, and I became very close the last few years. We’d both been changing how we’d lived our lives, and this was a chance for both of us to do-over some of the family relationships, mother-daughter, sister-sister … One of the things I valued most, in a family where secrets are high-value currency, was the openness – we talked about all of it. She died on a Sunday morning; the last time I was with her when she was at all coherent was Wednesday evening. She was asleep, and I was praying and watching. I had bent over, had my arms folded on her bed and my head on them, crying, and I felt her hand on the back of my head. She asked if I was all right, and I said no, and I was going to miss her. She kept her hand on my face and said, “She promised – you will never be alone.”

And I haven’t been, but shadow obscures truth.

All right – if I’ve done this right, the video will interrupt the text here, and you can watch it first, and then I’ll tell you why I posted it.

Libby Sauter was the first woman to cross that slackline. I know nothing about slackline-walking, other than what I’ve seen here. It’s seems obvious that it has to be one straight pass. Every time she slipped, she had to go back and start the attempt over. It took about 80 seconds to make the final crossing, but look what came around that.

There’s Libby herself – the desire to do it, the determination to practice before she got there, accepting the missteps and falls and the necessity of getting back up and starting over again. You could hear her yell when she fell one time – she didn't sound scared to me, she sounded pissed off.

There’s her coach. I could see the history in their relationship. So, he helped teach her, helped her get ready. Held her hand as she started the walk until she was ready to let go. (Did you SEE the wind blowing his shirt? Shudder.) He was tied off more heavily than her, so he could go get her when she couldn’t get up herself. The music was off during that successful attempt, and you could hear him talk to her non-stop: “Stay up, it’s yours, you got it. Don’t rush this last part. This is just a slackline to you now …” Then, there to celebrate.

That’s not all. There was the guy with the camera, breathing for her and cheering. The other women who were there – four video cameras and two stills, all with people attached. This was Libby Sauter’s victory, and she couldn’t have done it without them.

The first time I saw this, around the 3:20 mark, I thought, “Oh, that’s Bob.” Not for real. I have someone who teaches me what he knows about living life and looking for God, and holds my hand when he can, and helps me up when I fall, and never, ever says, “Well, of course you fell; what were you thinking trying to do that?” I told him not long ago there’d never been anyone in my life before who always told me I could do that, if I said I wanted to, and he said, “Yeah, you can; look what you’ve done.” I said, “I’ve never been able to argue with you. You say, ‘you can do that, because I did this, and so I know you can.’ And I can’t argue, because so often you were doing it and I could see it had been harder for you than what I'm looking at.”

He’s not the only one. There are others who’d do those things for me if I went to them more often. I still act like a hurt kitten and go hide out, instead of going where there’s people to help. I have so much love and support in my life – there are people here, at church, 12-Steppers, even family. And there are people “out there” in cyberspace, in all those circles too.

If you’re reading this, that includes you. Most of you are new in my life. We meet the way everyone meets – “Ellie or Dennis or Fran or the Mad One or someone told me this today – go over there and see them, and get to know them too. You can say I sent you if you want.” Joys, struggles, caring, loving, prayer – all those things are shared here. I don’t know about you, but I’m drinking coffee with you while I’m hanging out, too. Thank you.

My life is full of blessing, when I stand in the light and look at it. “Hurt is inevitable; suffering is optional.” There are gifts for me in the hurt too, and today I choose to be honest, look for the gifts, and I’ve found some.

It doesn’t say at YouTube what the name of that song is, or who’s singing it – I really like it. If you know, would you tell me? Thanks.