Saturday, June 28, 2008

Prayer Help, Please

I have a friend, Tracy K., who stops in here pretty regularly, and never comments on anything. At least, not HERE. But we’ll talk on the phone or in person, and I’ll say, “How are you?” and she’ll say, “Disappointed.” First time she said it, I asked why, and she said, “Because you haven’t posted anything new on your blog.” We just went out and sat down in the coffee shop, and she said, “How’s your tiger?” The one in the tiger trap when I fell in. So I told her all about it. Then I found out she hadn't watched the hula hoop video.

Tracy’s Mom was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She’s been having chemo, and it’s been very difficult. MaryJane is scheduled for surgery this Friday, on July 4th. Please keep her, and Tracy, and her Dad and brother, in your prayers. They don’t actually know what Stage the cancer’s in, and won’t til the surgery. Tracy’s praying they’re able to remove all the visible cancer. I pray for “wellness” for other people, and do my best not to tell God what I think that wellness oughtta be.

I know there are some powerhouse pray-ers out there – I’ve felt the effects. Thank you all for helping.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Canadian Cultural Icon -- Anne of Green Gables

Nobody says the Icon has to be non-fiction. I was over at Ann’s place, reading the RevGalBlogPals’ summer reading meme, and someone mentioned the Anne of Green Gables books. I was at the post office yesterday, and the Anne of Green Gables stamps are out. It’s the 100th anniversary this year of the publication of Anne of Green Gables. How much more of a Canadian Cultural Icon could THAT be? So, you get a twofer today.

Anne, for those of you who don’t know, is an orphan who is adopted by a brother and sister on Prince Edward Island. They had “ordered” a boy from the orphanage, to help with the farm work … and they got Anne Shirley instead. She transformed their lives, and everyone else’s she touched, and they transformed hers. That’s the way it should be.

Marilla was strict with Anne, and Matthew adored her and was shy. Marilla thought that the current fashions in women’s dresses were ridiculous and wasteful, and when everyone else had huge puffed sleeves, Anne’s were plain.

Part of the reason I picked this episode is that it’s about wanting something very badly, and being loved into joy. And part of it is, the woman at the counter in the store, when the shop clerk goes to the window to get the dress for Matthew. I do believe that’s my former sister-in-law – she and my brother-in-law were extras in the show.

Catching Up on Canadian Cultural Icons -- Passchendaele

There’s a whole lot of ways this could be a Canadian Cultural Icon post. For one thing, there’s Paul Gross – a Canadian actor/director/producer/writer/singer. (That's not an official website, BTW.) He played Constable Benton Fraser in the television program Due South (also unofficial) for four years in the ‘90’s – a tall, gorgeous, polite Mountie (even the Mounties found him awkward to deal with in his honesty and diligence) who was unhappily posted in Chicago to keep him out of the way. He played the lead Sasha/Alex in the movie Getting Married in Buffalo Jump, and wrote, directed and starred as Chris Cutter in Men With Brooms. He will be an icon in his own right pretty soon, probably as Benton Fraser.

There is the Battle of Passchendaele itself. One of the horrific follies of World War I battles. Passchaendale is the town the English called Wipers. This is what Wiki has to say (I’ve taken out the links, except for the one to the article itself – you can go there and follow any you want to):

The 1917 Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres or simply Third Ypres, was one of the major battles of World War I, in which British, ANZAC, Canadian and South African units engaged the Imperial German Army. The battle was fought for control of the village of Passchendaele (Passendale in modern Dutch, now part of the community of Zonnebeke) near the town of Ypres (Ieper in Dutch) in West Flanders, Belgium. The plan was to drive a hole in the German lines, advance to the Belgian coast and capture the German submarine bases there. It was intended to create a decisive corridor in a crucial area of the front, and to take pressure off the French forces. After the Nivelle Offensive the French Army was suffering from extremely low morale, resulting in mutinies and misconduct on a scale that threatened the field-worthiness of entire divisions.

Although the period of the battle saw spells of good weather lasting long enough to dry out the land, Passchendaele has become synonymous with the misery of fighting in thick mud. Most of the battle took place on largely reclaimed marshland, swampy even without rain. The extremely heavy preparatory bombardment by the British tore up the surface of the land, and heavy rain from August onwards produced an impassable terrain of deep "liquid mud", in which an unknown number of soldiers drowned. Even the newly-developed tanks bogged down.

The Germans were well-entrenched, with mutually-supporting pillboxes which the initial bombardment had not destroyed. After three months of fierce fighting the Canadian Corps took Passchendaele on 6 November 1917, ending the battle, but in the meantime the Allied Powers had sustained almost half a million casualties and the Germans just over a quarter of a million. The Allies had captured a mere five miles of new front at a cost of 140,000 lives, a ratio of roughly 2 dead soldiers per inch gained.

Compounding this staggeringly Pyrrhic figure was the fact that the area was not even considered particularly valuable from a strategic standpoint; in March 1918--a mere 4 months later--the Allies abandoned to the Germans every inch of territory gained at such cost at Passchendaele in order to free several divisions to cover more strategically valuable terrain during the German Lys Offensive towards Ypres.

Passchendaele was the last gasp of the "one more push" philosophy which posited that the stalemate of attritional trench warfare could be broken by brute offensive action against fixed positions. The massive and tactically meaningless casualty levels--coupled with the horrendous conditions in which the battle was fought--damaged Field-Marshal Haig's reputation and made it emblematic of the horror of industrialised attrition warfare.

This fall, there will be a movie released about the battle. I’m going to that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, again:

Passchendaele is a 2008 Canadian movie from Alliance Films. The project is spearheaded by Canadian actor and director Paul Gross. The film was shot in Calgary, Alberta, Fort Macleod, Alberta, CFB Suffield, and on location in Belgium, focuses on the experiences of Gross's grandfather, Michael Dunne, a soldier who served in the 10th Battalion, CEF in the First World War at the Battle of Passchendaele (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres). The film is set to open the Toronto International Film Festival on September 4, 2008 and is tentatively scheduled to be released on Remembrance Day, November 11, 2008.

And now, I’m posting the trailer to the movie. I don’t do a lot of serious stuff here on Fridays – but I’m pretty passionate about the stupidity of warfare in general, and of some specific decisions, made by people who are supposed to know better. This is one. You can all draw a straight line from here to the things that require our attention and prayer in 2008.


Geez Lou-Eeze, I been away too long. I get A Prairie Home Companion in my e-mail on Fridays – never thought to link …

Don't blame me ...

You know why women often seem to be more in touch with God?
Because they ask for directions.

Gee, I wish I’d thought to do that sooner …

Blame Wendy H. of Massillon, OH, who sent it in to “Nothing Like a Good Joke” at A Prairie Home Companion on NPR.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I'm Sorry

I’ve had e-mails from a couple of you – I owe thanks and some apologies. I kind of fell into a tiger trap (that’s how the bad times feel) and this one already had a live tiger in it when I landed – there were some current family issues, and some difficult anniversaries. I’ve been spending time daily with people who are on the journey with me, in church or walking the spiritual path in other ways. When it was nice out (and boy, that’s been rare) I’ve been getting outside in the heat and the sunshine and walking a lot, or just sitting on the grass. When it’s not been nice, I’ve been getting caught outside, sans umbrella, in thunderstorms (my favourite brown dress seems to be a jinx). And if I’m INSIDE during a thunderstorm, I won’t turn on the computer ...

I promise to have a Canadian Cultural Idol tomorrow, and post something longer than this on the weekend.

I know that some of you have had me in your prayers – I’m more grateful than I know how to tell you right now. Thank you, and even though I’ve been off the intertubes, you’ve been in mine too.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Friday Night Canadian Cultural Icon -- Rick Mercer at the Arctic Winter Games

Okay – it’s Saturday morning, not Friday night. I went out with friends tonight and saw the 9:20 showing of the Sex and the City movie, which takes two-and-a-half hours. It was Saturday by the time I got home.

Tonight’s Canadian Cultural Icon is Rick Mercer. He’s a political comedian out of Newfoundland. He used to be in a group called CodCo; then most of them started a show called “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” on the CBC. It was a take-off on a news commentary show from the ‘60’s, called “This Hour Has Seven Days”. “22 Minutes” satirizes Canadian life and politics. One of the best segments was Rick Mercer’s Rant. It was so good, he got his own show. It started out as “Rick Mercer’s Monday Report” or RMMR – but now it’s on Tuesdays.

He does more than satire now. There are a lot of different Canadian cultures, and he introduces us to ourselves. In this segment, he’s in Yellowknife, covering the Arctic Winter Games. He doesn’t just show you people doing the sports and cultural activities – they try to teach him how. This is a double-dose of Canadian Cultural stuff tonight – you get the Games and Rick Mercer.

One of the things I really like about living in Canada is that our tax dollars, through the CBC, have always funded really good political satire, and it’s widely heard (on CBC Radio) or viewed. Free speech in action.

Friday, June 6, 2008

PJ's "Song that makes you go Yeah" Meme

PJ has a stay-at-home meme, the “post a few lines from a song that makes you go yeah” meme. Pray ‘em if you got ‘em for her – she has a birthday party full of seven-year olds and a visit from in-laws in the near future, and an article that’s not been going well.

My 22-year old niece was here today, helping me out with a big stack of clothes that needed sorting through. Basically, this meant I tried things on and she watched YouTube videos and was the talking mirror – yes, keep that; no, that doesn’t do anything for you; no, you must never, ever wear that colour; that’ll work again if we take in the side seams …

She left this video up when she left and I just love it. So I watched it three times, and found the lyrics via Google. Here’s the lyrics:

That life is too short to be unhappy
And since I know what I'm worth there'll be no settling for dirt
Not when what I deserve is gold
If I want diamonds then I can't settle for coal and

Maybe I was just too strong to let go
Maybe I was just too weak to let it show
Maybe I was just too stubborn to say "No"
But whatever the case I can't take it no more

And here’s the video. If anyone had ever told me I’d be posting a video by Fatboy Slim, I’da said, “Who’s Fatboy Slim?” But, VIOLA!!! The video’s really great – pretty girl; happy things going on. Enjoy!

A Gift from a Good Friend

Oystercard sent me this video, months ago. I had conversation with him tonight – he seems to be suffering from oxygen deprivation of his brain in the Rockies somewhere, and he hasn’t updated his travel blog in QUITE SOME TIME.

Even if he were around, Erin Bode doesn’t quite fall into his mandate, so I’m just going ahead and posting the video and saying thanks to him for it. She’s lovely, she’s got a lovely voice, and it’s one of those kinds of love songs. I think I remember from something else – she’s married to the saxophonist.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Things to Be Grateful For

It went up to about 24C/80F today, first time, and it was sunny. My mother-in-law’s in a nursing home two or three miles west of here. I haven’t seen her since Mother’s Day, and I had a thank you note in a card with a picture on the front by someone she really likes. So I put on a short denim skirt, a white top with a scoop neck and cap sleeves, and my good training running shoes, and no sunscreen, and walked out to see her.

My mother-in-law’s very special. Drives me nuts sometimes, but really – I was kibitzing with my husband at one point early in our marriage and threatened to go home to my mother. He laughed out loud and said, “Yeah. Right.” So I said, “Then I’ll go home to yours,” and he said, “She’d have you, too.”

She sews most of her own clothes, and she used to design and make costumes for the little theatre. She and my Mum were in little theatre together in the last ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. Mum took time off, and went back in the late ‘70’s, and both of them took their children along. My husband and I assumed we met when we were adolescents, but we don’t remember meeting til our early 20’s. We were both seeing other people then, but a year and a half later we were both going at speed through a completely dark hallway backstage – from different directions – and crashed into each other. I don’t remember the physical impact so much as the inner impact – “He’s MALE!” That was in 1979. Two people can hurt each other enough that a light goes out.

My mother-in-law made me maternity clothes, and when the baby was born she put zippers in the front of the jumpers so I could nurse discreetly. I have an eating disorder – I was back-diagnosed as “self-medicating a severe post-partum depression”. I didn’t like it the day I’d got on the scale and seen 285 pounds – so I stopped getting on the scale. When I weighed close to 300 pounds, my mother-in-law was still making me clothes, prettier ones than I could find in a store. I lost almost a hundred pounds 15 to 20 years ago, then stuck for a very long time, and lost the last of my overweight last year. My mother-in-law would still make me clothes, but she had a stroke a few years ago, and doesn’t much anymore.

She got sick last summer and went into hospital, and while she was there, there was a mistake in her medications and she became suicidally depressed. She wouldn’t get out of bed, and the original problem was food poisoning – she simply lost the physical strength to get up and walk. She went from an acute bed in a hospital to a nursing home last October. She got out to my sister-in-law’s for Christmas dinner, but she slipped and cut her leg. She’s 85 now and her circulation’s not good. Her leg’s only just healing. They’re going to send her home to her apartment very soon, when the cut’s sompletely healed.

I hadn’t seen her very much last fall. My Mum had died; my stepmother had died; I’d left my husband and we’d moved him and our son out of our old home; my aunt was in hospital, then hospice … I went to see her twice in hospital, and told my sister-in-law, “I just cant.” She understood. So, I hadn’t seen my mother-in-law in most of the weight-losing process. Until Christmas Day. I walked in the door and into her arms and hugged and kissed her, and she looked at me and said, “Oh! Oh! Your mother would be so proud!” And then we cried like little girls.

I dressed partly to catch some sun today, and partly, because I dress brightly when I go into nursing homes. We talked for an hour-and-a-half before I had to leave. I hugged her and kissed her, and she pushed me away a little after, but held on, so she could get a good look at me. Then she said, “There ought to be crowds of men following you everywhere.” The separation was my decision – I do know my husband would never have left me. There are things I’ve felt I need to be forgiven – I’m pretty certain I have been, some of them, today.

I stopped at the supermarket on the way home, and bought oatmeal and coconut so I could make my Dad’s favourite cookies to take when I go Wednesday to weed his garden and cook supper. I stood there in the bulk food section, trying to decide if it looked like three cups of oatmeal, and wishing they had the other kind that needs cooking longer … and I looked at the scoop of oatmeal in my hands and started to cry. Life just swirls around and around.

It's Good to Have Company

I’m so glad you all stopped in today, those who did. When I was here this morning, the StatCounter was stuck on 00000666.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Turn up the sound LOUD for the David Wilcox video ….

What I did THIS weekend ...

So, Mother’s Day weekend, I hung out with my in-laws. And the weekend after that (the Canadian long weekend), I dyed my hair red, painted my nails orange, read books, wrote a poem, drew a mandala, prayed a lot, and hid out from only a few people.

This weekend was different. I saw friends Saturday afternoon – one reminded me of a food/music/art festival this weekend down by the harbour. He knew (and I didn’t) who the headliner was going to be, and that there would be fireworks after. We both love the headliner. And we decided that it would be more fun (if the thunder and lightning stopped) to go together than to go each of us alone and hope maybe we ran into someone to hang with.

I went home, dried my hair (again) and put on a dry shirt (again). Then I called my Dad. He got through that crisis around Easter, and he’s been maintaining pretty well since then, with a change of medications. Yesterday he told me yes, come for supper Wednesday, but no, he’s not up to barbecuing fish, and maybe not to cooking inside either. Dad can always cook. There’s fluid building up in his belly again – he’s not able to eat much either. So, I’m going, and maybe I’ll let him tell me how he wants the fish cooked. His birthday’s two weeks tomorrow. Prayers, please, my friends – that it be gentle and painless for him, when it’s time, and that the time not be too long for him.

God IS holding my Dad, and me too, so I let God do what he can do better than me. It stopped raining, and I talked to my friend and we planned where to meet and when, and I had to run for it. We met. We got seats. He’d brought a thermos of tea and two cups. I got some wings for my dinner (he’d eaten) and I offered to share, but I like Five-Alarm wings and he didn’t. We drank bottles of water and listened to a bluegrass duo, and a band we didn’t like, and then an hour-and-a-half or so of David Wilcox. He did this song, Hypnotizin’ Boogie. He did my favourite too, Layin’ Pipe, and my friend’s, Do the Bearcat, was the encore. The energy level of the show was like this, all through. After that, there were fireworks – the closing one was like giant sparklers, fifty of them, all at once. I’d never seen ones like that before, and they made me feel as happy as if I was six years old.

We walked back to the centre of town cuz we’d sat enough. Then we had a cup of coffee together. Another friend walked past and said he couldn’t sit with us, because he had to go to his mother’s and it was already 12:20. Twelve-twenty!!! What the heck happened? We’d met at 6:30. I had to run to catch the last bus, and I just did. It was a great evening. Clear, by evening, and it got chilly, but we both had jackets, and there were stars on the way home.

My family’s changes have been huge in the last couple of years. Days of nothing but fun have been rare. Last night was nothing but fun. It was a gift. Enjoy the music.

This one's for me and Pagan Sphinx

I just love this song – “And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses …”

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Lucy, You Have Some 'Splainin To Do

In the comments thread on the Anne Murray video, Doxy talks about having her hair cut by the woman who goes on tour to do Annie’s. Then there was a little talk about hair styles. When I was away for the weekend a couple of weeks ago, I did some image-changing. Hence the new photo on the profile – I love the red hair, and the orange fingernails didn’t last. Too much maintenance. My toenails are still orange though.

There’s a lot I like about that picture – including that I took it in the bathroom mirror at my mother-in-law’s. So much easier than setting the timer and trying to sit and look natural for 10 seconds. And it’s fun of itself.

It’s also fun for me to look at a photograph of myself and just like it, the minute I see it, without letting The Critic open her mouth and spoil it for me.