Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas...Joyous Yule

Hello. Sorry for being such a stranger. Time, as I'm sure you understand, just tends to get away from you sometimes. Actually, the older I get, the more slippery time seems to be. Sort of like trying to catch a well-oiled fish.
Chester's update first. He is doing very well, still in remission. I once again urge you to support ACTSS. Without them we would not have our little man with us. He passed his year mark at the end of November and rules the house with an iron fist. At least in his own mind he does. He seems to spend a lot of time hauling around a stuffed toy puppy, eternally looking for the perfect place to bury it. I actually found it in a corner "buried" under a sock and an electric cord. I'm sure in Chester's mind it was a mighty mountain of soil deep in the woods. I've found it in the wood bin, under blankets and pillows and jammed into every crook and cranny imaginable. He then guards the thing fiercely until he forgets what he's doing and moves on to the tennis ball or the puck.
I think one of the reasons that I haven't just sat down to write something is that I don't know where to start any more. I always have something to say (as those of you who are connected to me on Facebook know;-). I suppose I sometimes feel that there is little point in preaching to the choir. All you have to do is look around you to see that we are on a path of no turning back now. I am having a harder time than usual this Christmas, not because I don't like the season. I do. I love decorating the house. I love giving gifts to people that I care about. I just, as so many people do, hate the awful greed and frenzied corporate monsters out there trying to convince you that you are not a good parent/spouse/friend if you don't get out and purchase incredibly expensive stuff for your loved ones. As if only money will show how much you care. And it does translate to people's expectations of what they should be given. I know family members and friends who would (and have) looked at me like I'm some sort of cheap-assed loser when I've given them something that I've made. It doesn't seem to occur to them that others pay me for the same thing to give to their loved ones. It's effed up.
So here we are at the end of 2011. We, as a planet have not slowed climate change...we have seemingly done everything in our power to accelerate it. There are still the not-smarts out there saying "DUH...this has always happened...this climate thing...". We've got a power-hungry lunatic running the country. We've got almost no snow and above zero temperatures (mmhmm...very normal). We've been occupied. We've been Arab-Springed. We are truly in a pickle and I'm pretty sure that no one really listens to my input about it and if they do they either want to argue about it or do nothing that means they have to get up off their lazy asses and change.
So instead, some little bits and pieces that made me think and or smile since last I wrote:
My nephew, Joey, who is 7 has never been out here. I don't think he's ever been outside the city. I hate that but I don't drive and my brother doesn't drive. So Twyla and I decided to make him a little video of "Auntie's House at Christmas". We took him on the grand tour, showing him the kitchen where I talk to him on the phone every morning, the lights and the Christmas tree with presents underneath. He even got to kiss Twyla under the mistletoe! We showed him the animals and he got to see Twyla's room. At the end of it...(Jim called me so Joey could have me on the phone as he watched the neat video he got in the mail!)...he gets on the phone. He goes "Auntie Paula? I think you are the luckiest person in the whole Universe!"
I think he feels I live at the North Pole with Father Christmas, himself, or maybe in Disneyland. When I can make the little guy smile like that, I feel like I am the luckiest person in the Universe.
Twyla is becoming quite the harpist. Her teacher seems to think she shows promise. Like I needed to be told that. She just finished up her anatomy/physiology course and starts her Nutrition 1 course in the new year.
We attended a funeral on Friday for one of Brad's family members. I don't feel comfortable talking about the deceased (this one anyway) but I have to tell you it was the strangest funeral I have ever attended...and I've attended a few. It was just really sort of cold and impersonal and the pastor/preacher or whatever he was seemed more like a game show host than a person with a link to the hereafter or a line on talking to the bereaved. All he did was read bad poems out of what I am sure are pilfered Hallmark cards. I dad, who by all accounts was not the most likable guy, had bagpipes and kilts and bells and tears and a passionate priest (who had never met my dad) and flowers and standing salutes and speeches. Nobody was picking lint or farting around with a cell phone during the thing, I'll tell you that. Just...really surreal. I dragged Brad and Twyla out the second I could do so without looking crass and rude. It felt like people were just so disconnected that even a funeral was just something to hurry through. WTF.
The rest of our time has been spent figuring out the new website, which I hope you take the time to visit (the Figuring out what direction to take with it. If you love this blog so much that you just can't get enough (there's obviously some tongue-in-cheek there kids) there is another blog linked to the website. It mostly updates what we are working on for The Ragged Rose.
I am looking forward to New Year's Eve with some trepidation. The whole getting older thing is a bit of a pill, ya know. Twyla is going to make me a super-terrific birthday dinner and I think we'll likely go to the movies on New Year's Day. Not much for partying these days and I have absolutely no time for drunks. Whenever I smell booze on somebody it makes me want to slap them and tell them they stink. It literally makes me nauseous...the smell and the behaviour. Nothing like a swaying, glassy-eyed eejit laughing at their own cleverness and 'loooooooving' you soooooo much. 'Tis the season, I guess.
Today, book work, paper work. All the fun stuff. It's one week to Christmas so it will be a super busy week with business parties and shopping and maybe a bit of visiting. I hope that all of you reading this have a lovely and peaceful holiday, whatever holiday you celebrate, even if it's only the celebration of the light returning after the 21st. I'll be thinking of you all, those I've loved and cared for in the long distant past, the present and I will be looking forward to our meetings in the coming year(s). Many bright blessings to you all with our love to each and every one. Stay safe, keep your silly ass out of the car if you are going to have even one drink and be a do-gooder! Give something to the food bank and Santas Anonymous, even if you don't celebrate the season yourself. I guarantee you there are those worse off than you who do not deserve to be.

What's on the menu: Homemade macaroni and cheese with broccoli
Reading: The Earthwise Herbal
Goals: Work on website updates
Music: UP 99.3 Christmas music
Viewing: A Christmas Carol (with Patrick favourite)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A little advice for those in need

I was just outside this morning scraping frost from the windscreen of the car. I love mornings like this. The colours are just starting to glow. It would seem that winter isn't quite here yet though. The forecast says there's some heat coming later in the week. I suppose that's good news for those who enjoy the heat. I am not one of those people. I don't like it freezing. But I love the crispness of fall.
Chester is great. He is quite the fuzzy black fur-ball now. He's as grouchy as ever. His checkup was terrific at the beginning of this month. He is such a little blessing. Twyla not so much today. She's spent the last couple of days sacked out with a pretty wicked cold. The usual sore throat, snuffly nose and a general sense of misery. Send some healing energy her way please!

Now, as I'm sure you are burning with anticipation about what I'm going to grump about, without further adieu...
Over the last little while I have taken the opportunity to allow myself some interesting observations. I've talked about this a little bit previously, but it came up again when a friend and one of Brad's Tai Chi students passed away about a month ago. He was taken by cancer, or rather an infection that he was unable to survive due to a weakened immune system from the treatment. It was very fast and terribly sad. Brian always had a smile and a laugh. Here is where I became a little taken aback. And perhaps my stone wall had a few chinks in it after that, but I started really noticing just how vile and rude people have become in general. I began thinking about manners...just the really common stuff. I wondered how I, with the upbringing I had to endure, managed to escape my childhood with a working sense of manners and others who probably never even met my parents became worse than animals in a zoo. How is that? I thought, well, maybe it's just that they don't know. So I'm going to give some advice. Some of it will seem obvious to you and maybe some of you may have noticed or experienced the same things. You are welcome to pass this crash course in the obvious on to anyone you feel needs it.
I'm going to start with what started it all for me. The passing of dear Brian and my experiences when telling people.
*When someone you know tells you that they have just lost (this means they died) a friend or a loved one do not be dismissive as though you just can't fathom why they'd be so upset. Don't change the subject. Don't be a wise ass. Don't say "yeah, my ______ died two years ago. I know how you feel (the comparisons can come later. At that moment, their loss is far too raw and new). Let me tell you something. It means absolutely nothing that you feel uncomfortable. It is about that person and their loss in that moment. This is really a time for you to shine and say "I am so terribly sorry. You have my deepest condolences. Is there anything at all that I can do?" You may then choose to offer a hug, a coffee ("do you want to go for coffee or tea and talk about it?"). You can tell them how sorry you are and listen to them talk about the person who has passed on. You can ask how the family is. It doesn't matter if you know them or not. No one in this situation wants to hear some slimy glib remark or quip and they definitely don't want to be dismissed and they will be left feeling very alone indeed if you are dismissive. If it is your own policy to deal with a loss with humour or a 'cest la vie' attitude, do not ever assume it is what someone else needs. If you notice distance after this behaviour, you will know why. You were a disrespectful lout.
*On to the next. If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you find that you cannot, then say you are unable to do it. Don't just tell someone you will do something and then pretend to forget it. I can guarantee you that they did not forget it and anything you say you will do in the future will be met with disbelief or derision.
*To the girls out there (I have seen this happen MANY times) if you make plans with a friend, don't cancel over some guy. I don't know how guys are with this, maybe they have different rules so I can't speak for them. But when you cancel with a friend because some random guy asked you out, that is a real slap in the face. Conversely, if there is someone you make plans with only as a last resort and then cancel because you found something better to do, get over yourself. They know what you are doing and you hurt them every time.
*This is a big one for me. Hygiene people. Wash your hands, wear deodorant, do all the things that make it reasonably easy for other people to be in a room with you. There are times when you pass someone in the canned tuna isle and it's all you can do to get the hell out of there at a run. Everybody eats something with garlic in it and then that's it. No amount of brushing can help you. That's not what I'm talking about. It is the idea of smelling like a guy that's worked in the fields all day every day without a bath circa 1876 (you know...when there was no deodorant or soap really handy) and being okay with going out in public like that that is unfathomable to me. Manners are about making the people you are with, the people you care about, present friends and even future ones, as comfortable as possible. Having to hold your breath while you are in someone's presence is not conducive to comfort. Change your damn socks before you go visiting, for gawdsakes.
*Plain old please and thank you and excuse me. This is a real pet peeve of mine. The following words do not equal thank you: "kay", "okay", "good" and definitely not silence. Please seems to be a forgotten word altogether. And the art of shoving by, pushing in or brushing past is apparently the normal thing to do. There is a lot to be said for those who thank you when you hold the door for them. They make your day. I always make it a point to thank someone who has done this for me. Always. It doesn't matter what kind of day I am having. That person took the time to be courteous and it is your obligation to acknowledge that. Saying thank you when you are given something or someone does something for you is a means by which you convey that you are appreciative of their effort. You would be amazed at the service you receive when you don't treat people as though they are servants. No one wants to be treated this way. If you use basic manners and even a smile, you can change the entire day for another person. Along the same lines, if you go out of your way to help, say, a mother or senior struggling with a buggy or stroller, trying to get a door open and they give you a harried thank you, you have made their day just a little easier and they have showed you that your effort was worth it. It could change a lot of things that you will never know about. All you will have is the satisfaction of knowing that you were a courteous person that day.
*Don't talk about your sex life or delicate health or personal matters with strangers. Believe me, they don't want to hear it . It is hard to not have a horrified look on your face when the person you just met in line begins to tell you about tiles. I don't know if a lot of you experience this, but it happens to me all the time. I'm not sure what people think I can do about their...clogged drain...but I assure you, strangers in the line do not want to know about your plumbing issues.
*Please feel free to turn down the music in your vehicle. I don't know about anyone else, but having to sit through a three year long red light while some idiot next to me in a jumbo pick-up truck is doing his best to blow my windows out with his sub-woofers is like torture. Music is a very universal thing. There are not very many people who do not like music. But you can't assume that everyone appreciates the same stuff that makes your spirit soar. Said sub-woofers banging out some hip-hop hideosity is enough to make me go postal. I hate it. Same with in-car stuff. I was recently tortured all the way home while Brad listened to loud vintage Tina Turner, whose voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me (I like her eighties stuff...Thunderdome!). He thinks the vintage stuff is a cross between Diana Ross and Janis Joplin. I like Diana Ross but there are maybe three songs by Janis Joplin that I can stomach. The rest is just racket to me. I respect your appreciation of it. I feel it is just rude to force me to listen to it. Jazz is another genre that I cannot stand. I just can't, while at the same time Brad hates country music. I choose not to torture him with twanging guitars and Texas fiddle music out of respect. He chooses that no amount of torture is too great if he gets a new cd from the library and can't wait until I am not present. But know this. While I may have sat quietly whilst Tina screeched, the thoughts going through my head were of the postal sort. I can only imagine that most people feel the same. Along those lines, nobody wants to having music blaring in a restaurant while they eat. If you work in an eating establishment, turn down the volume!
*Don't assume that the person you are talking to doesn't know about something. I've come across several instances in the last little while, both my own and sitting in on others, where some person gets to talking about their "area of expertise" and just automatically came to the conclusion that no one else knows anything about the subject. As a result, anyone trying to say anything about the thing, even if they knew more than the 'expert' was instantly shut down. You can never know everything about a subject. I like to think that there is always something I can learn. And discussion does not mean argument. On the reverse side of this, playing the Devil's Advocate is just playing games. If you want to argue for the sake of arguing, don't.
And now some general advice on courtesy and common sense:
-Always give the courtesy wave when driving. If someone lets you in, say thank you.
-Always leave your number when leaving a phone message.
-Chew with your mouth closed.
-ALWAYS wash your hands before you eat or prepare food.
-Tell company appropriate stories. Always!
-Never tell racial jokes. They are not funny and they are not okay.
-Don't make out in public. It is disgusting. I'm not talking about a peck or holding hands. I'm talking about sliming someone in a public place. The exception might be a wife meeting her husband at the airport when he returns from Afghanistan. Keep the rest private please. And while we're along those lines, you really don't need to be clutching the ass of your girlfriend/boyfriend as you walk along in public. If you have those kinds of ownership issues, you should be getting help.
-Guys: Your little friend has not disappeared. You don't need to check it every five seconds. No diddling in public please!
-Don't spit on the sidewalk. It is disgusting, rude and vile. The only people who need to spit are farmers...which you would understand if you've ever spent time in a cow barn and left with the taste in your mouth. Keep your hanky handy if you feel the need to expel.
-As a matter of fact you do not have any rights as a smoker. Not to be inside. Not to be in a doorway. Take your cancer stick and go. Far away those of us caring about our health and that of our children do not have to share in your slow suicide.

I'm sure that each of you has your own list of lost manners and confounding behaviour. You've all had experiences in private and in public where another person made you gape in wonder at the level of their rudeness or audacity. This is no a comprehensive list. It is just a small group of my own summer experiences. There is no crime in behaving like a lady or a gentleman...meaning you don't go out of your way to do whatever the hell you want and to hell with other people. Put yourself in another person's place. Would you want to be spat at as you walk by? Would you want someone pushing past you? Would you want to sit across from someone who chewed with an open mouth? Or have your child have to walk through a cloud of smoke in a doorway? Of course not. What is behaving like a lady or a gentleman? It is having manners. It is showing compassion, respect, kindness and empathy towards others. It is making the person you are with feel comfortable to be around you. It is helping someone without being asked to do so. It is using common sense in your behavior.

You don't have to wear an ascot, kid gloves or a high collar (unless, of course, you want to). But you could at least try to behave in a manner that shows that we are not the ill mannered, rude, selfish and disgusting species that we appear to be these days. After all, we don't want to be caught picking our noses when the ships land and the Visitors arrive. How awkward would that be?

What's on the menu: Some sort of soup
Listening to: Twyla watching the X Files
Reading: 'Torment' by Lauren Kate
Viewing; Buffy (the series)
Goals: Serving sick Chickie

Friday, July 29, 2011

Oh the past, the past...

Before we go any further into my most recent brain meanderings, a little update on Chester's Journey. Our boy was asked to be one of the stars of the 2012 ACTSS calendar. This is the wonderful society that has assisted in financing Chester's (and many other fur kid's) chemo treatments. I'm not sure yet what month he will be but we took him to the photographer yesterday to do his "photo shoot". He was great...wanted to kill her toy horsie. I implore you to please purchase one (or five) of their calendars when it comes out. It has given us the gift of the boy's life and that has been so precious to us. These people, especially Dr. Stelfox, have been heroes! There is actually a story in the Examiner about Doc Stelfox and ACTSS this week. I have a few copies if anyone wants one. I'll let you know when the calendar comes out. Chester and his story will be in there. And let me tell you, he looks pretty danged handsome. Got a bath for the occassion and everything.

What I want to talk about today has had me thinking for some time. I've written various pieces over the years about this subject and I find it still confounds me...perhaps more than ever. It's..."The Past". I know so many people who are absolutely wigged out about the past...either their own or the distant past. I'm going to give you a number of examples that I want to look at. I have belonged or worked with several groups who are re enactors. I get that. It's fun to pretend. History is amazing. It is what has made us who we are. We can only know the tiniest fraction of what the distant past was like and what actually happened. Our ideas and theories are constantly being challenged and revised because a new piece of information comes about and forces us to re-examine everything we believed. I'm going to give you a couple of examples of that. The first is the idea that the general public has about Cleopatra, the last Egyptian Pharaoh, and one of only a very small number of known female Pharaohs. There is this myth about Cleopatra that has her as a great beauty and seductress. The Roman version of history (which, by the way, is always suspect) has her as thus. We do know she was quite young in our understanding of the word. We do know she had a penchant to be ruthless (it is believed she had her brother, a competetor for the throne killed). But the truth about Cleopatra is quite different than the portrayal given by Liz. She was hardly a great beauty and she was hardly a brainless bimbo. She was a brilliant statesman and leader who, like so many before and after, fell to Rome's greed.

Another more personal example is through my own research. In the eighties, when I first began teaching, there was a wide-spread belief that there was a time in prehistory that was ruled by matriarchal societies. They were believed to be peaceful, egalitarian societies that were eventually destroyed by violent patriarchal groups. The matriarchal societies worshipped a Mother Goddess and Her horned consort and it came to be known as the Old Religion. There was, of course a great deal of nonsense that was built up along with it but that's it in a very brief nutshell. Along came the nineties and researchers who set out to set the record straight. Much of the Mother Goddess idealism came from an anhropologist named Marija Gimbutas. She wrote such seminal texts as 'The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe'. There were many who were enthralled by this information, including myself. This idea that our history went much further back than previously acknowledged. But there were certainly people who didn't agree with this theory and they wrote quite a lot of very well researched information which I felt was my obligation to pay attention to. And they were right. Ms. Gimbutas and many others had seemingly jumped pretty far between verifiable research and conclusion. When challenged, the claim of "I know it or I feel it" doesn't hold much water...not outside of the spiritual community anyway. And I like to think of myself as a very spiritual person with my feet very much rooted in science. So, as difficult as it was to rearrange a belovedly held belief, I had to adjust my thinking and teaching. At least, until further research could prove otherwise. And so for many years, through many courses and classes through many schools and institutes I have taught what was known about history. Not what was wished for or intuited, though my own intuition said there was more to it. I believe it is irresponsible to paint history with a pink paintbrush, as it were, to make things what one wishes it were. The same held true for the idea of the Great Witch Hunts that are a blight on western history. There is no denying that they took place. However, many wanted to claim this disgusting period as a sort of spiritual-political emblem. I cannot begin to count the number of women I have met over the years who would fall into a sort of deep melancholy over a remembered life where they were burned at the stake. It was written in countless books over the years, touted in dozens of movies, etc, that millions of women had been burned at the stake. The number of 9 million became the sort of stand by number. Research and evidence (in other words, solid proof) speaks otherwise. If one does even a small amount of research into the actual history of the Witch Hunts in Europe, one finds a much different, though equally disgusting, story. The Hunts varied wildly from country to country and were far fewer in number than reported by the Neo-Pagan community(by about 8.5 million conservatively). In Ireland, perhaps one or two witches were killed. In Scotland, vast numbers died. Witches were not burned in England. They were hung. They were indeed burned on the continent. The greatest persecutions happened along border regions and in small secular villages. The Church, which is often the demonized party in the whole mess, was more interested than not in having a confesson rather than the cost of a trial and execution. Often, if you confessed, you got off on some (admittedly harsh) bread and water pennance. Look at it this way: A dead witch could not pay a tithe to the church, now could he or she? A very large number of men (in Iceland it was more men than women) were killed. The myth that midwives were the target is pure silliness. If anything they are under-represented in the totals of the killings and were often found to be assisting the persecutors. And in America, witches were not burned, they were hanged, with the exception of Giles Corey who was crushed to death in Salem in 1692.

My point here is that history on a personal level is often not what it would seem. And an open mind has to be maintained. Recent evidence now is suggesting that indeed, human civilization goes back far further than we have imagined and there were indeed instances...faint traces...of matriarchal societies. Should I have followed my intuition in the first place and just kept on teaching based on guess work? Certainly not. Or on my emotional attachement? Absolutely not.
This, in a long winded way, brings me to my original point. I seem to be running into the idea an awful lot of the time lately, that somehow, if one could go back to the past or relive it, things would be a lot better. Or if things were like they were then..."In a simpler time", it would be great. Here's my take on "The Past"
For those who want to go back to (I'm going to go into a bit of ancient history squashing here) ancient Celtic times, Medieval times, Dark Ages, Renaissance ages, or even Victorian times, please sit and have a think about the following (I want to say here that yes, my profession is based on art and ideas taken form my study of history. It doesn't mean I want to live there). In pretty much any of those ages, me and everyone I know would have died of old age long ago. I actually would have died along with Twyla in childbirth. As would my sister in law. As would my brother. Both of my brothers would be dead, actually. And my sister, from complications after the birth of my niece. Any of you in Twyla's age group would certainly have at least one child by now or be considered unmarriageable. You would likely all be hungry (I don't know very many nobles) and you would be malnourished. The smells then would likely kill us now. If age and childbirth didn't kill us, war or disease would. You would work like a slave each and every day of the year and then you would suffer the indignity of dying of illness. Many of you would have watched at least one child succumb before their first year. If they lived beyond that, common childhood illness would take them before they were ten. Until the advent of penicillin in the early part of the last century, death could come from something as innocuous as a mosquito bite (Lord Carnarvon, who funded Howard Carter's career likely died of shaving an infected mosquito bite on the cheek) or a scratch in the garden. More people died of infection during WW1 than as a result of direct injury from weapons. Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, died of Typhoid in his very early 40s. Even the monarch of the English Empire was not immune, though he likely had the wealth of the empire to save him.
Why would you want to live there? Then there are the modern mourners for the past, specifically their own. The term "back in the day" absolutely enrages me. Ask Twyla. Whenever someone utters the dreaded phrase, she almost cowers. And for a reason. I've listened for years to my sister grapple with her love-hate of The Past. To the point that, I hate most music from my own past. I feel like I am in the witch's torture chamber myself whenever I have to hear Culture Club banging out Karma Karma Karma yet again. Or Cindy Lauper or Madonna. It seems like I hear more of it now than when I was a teenager watching it on Video Hits after school. The thing is that I don't know anyone that had the time of their lives in the eighties. I don't. We had some fun but it was usually shit (especially in my family). I never heard anyone go "God, I wish the eighties would last forever!" We had Reagan. We had Ethiopia. We had the USSR. We had AIDS. We had to wear silly rubber bracelets to be cool (yeah, thanks aLOT for that one Madonna, you idiot).

How about the seventies. The ugliest clothing EVER conceived. Everything was in shades of A & W, fercrissakes. We had the USSR. We had Three Mile Island, Watergate, Vietnam, Kent State. Canadians were uber nerds. We had a plethora of stupid folk music. You couldn't pay me to go back there. I'd rather eat a bowl of lizards than have to pull brown polyester pants over pink polyester leotards ever again.
Then there is THE SIXTIES! Like every era, there were some good things. But like any era, I think the good things landed on more of a personal level in moments rather than over the decade. You can't point to a few good Beatles tunes and go "this was the decade to live in forever." Pass. The sixties treated women like garbage. JFK was blown away along with MLK & Bobby Kennedy. A lot of people cite the music as evidence that the sixties were the best. I cite all of the musicians that died of substance abuse, Janice and Jim. Every decade has had it's share of fabulous music. It is no secret how I feel about drugs and drug culture and the sixties seemed to be the real start of glorifying that whole mind set, the Victorians chasing the dragon not withstanding. There is nothing glorious about it in any way. I think that if most people could see how they behave when they are under the influence they would have some serious second thoughts about their decision making. Ask Amy Winehouse. I'm sure she thought that she looked pretty effing awesome in Serbia, when she looked like fool and now she's dead. A waste of youth and talent.

The Fifties, where most conservatives seem hell bent on reverting us to, were a post war backstep to roping women back into the house and consuming as much as possible. It was the beginning of turning the world into a fossil fuel guzzling plastic nightmare that is killing us today with consumer greed and corporate madness while painting a whitemeat Protestant-Christian version of what is acceptable in the bedroom, in the classroom, in the temple and in the marketplace.

I don't think I have to say much about the fourties other than Hitler or the Great Depression of the thirties.

The point here is that, yes, I have great memories from each and every decade in which I have lived. Cool stuff happened. There were good times. They were little islands of happy amidst a sea of not very good things going on in the world. Each of us had those. Should we revert back to that era because of it. No effing way. Our only hope is in the future and what we can make of it, whether it is filled with rennaissance clothing and lutes or drug free flower children singing...well, hopefully not folk music. Yuck! Or maybe it should just be something entirely new. Because the things that created all of that stuff were the harsh realities of those times. We have harsh realities now and they are far and beyond what any of those times could have ever imagined, save perhaps those swimming through the shit storm of WW2. We must create a Utopia that is for our time, the one that each and every one of us is living in right now. We haven't got a hope if all we can do is moon about back-in-the-day. It is useful to study the past and even honour those who lived in it that gave us the stepping stones to go beyond their mistakes. So far, all we seem to be doing is repeating them. Let's look at the past for what it really was. Let's look at it without all of the romantic silliness. Let's take what was wise and progressive and just let go of the rest. Because you can't drink, smoke or wish your way back to a few good times. You have to look straight ahead and plan for a whole different reality if there is going to be a future to look back on.

Whats on the Menu: Vietnamese Soup

Listening to: The Carolina Chocolate Drops

Reading: "Lords of Battle: The World of the Celtic Warrior" by Stephen Allen

Goals & Viewing: Cowboys and Aliens tonight! Yee Haw!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Harvest Begins...

We've just spent the morning in the potato and raspberry gardens pulling about a month and a half worth of thistles. Needless to say, I am hurtin'. I requested that I have enough clear weather this morning just for that job and I was much obliged to receive it. And it was a helluva job. With all of the rain, pretty much constant with a very few scortching, hot, muggy days here and there, the garden has suffered from my not weeding. I personally like the rain and overall I'm not that concerned with having it overcast or even marginally cool. I don't do well in the heat, usually ending up with a headache and little desire to do anything useful. I have been dismayed to hear all of the complaining and whining about the rain. How quickly it slips from people's minds how dry it has been. How the lakes and waterways have been literally disappearing. How many gardens didn't grow at all last year but the grasshoppers did. And they made short work of what was left. I personally am grateful for all the moisture replenishing what has been lost. We are not suffering from record shattering heatwaves, massive wildfires or killing drought and dustbowl type storms here right now. I've not seen it this green and lush for a long, long time. The frogs are in ecstasy and there is a bumper crop of them. I'm not saying that there aren't drawbacks to all the rain. But overall, the pros far outweigh the cons at this point. I know, I know. Mosquitoes. A tablespoon of applecider vinegar every day (put it in your tea or just straight up) and a blend of lavender-eucalyptus and teatree (20 drops of each) in 1 cup of water spritzed on is very helpful. At the farmer's market, Twyla and I just apply lavender oil neat and we really aren't terribly bothered. Apply the same to bites and the itch is gone.

So the potato patch isn't perfect but it isn't a sea of thistles. We harvested raspberries and rhubarb today and the saskatoons should be ready within a day or two, though keeping those hooligan waxwings off them is almost impossible. The rotters dig their beaks in, take one bite and leave the rest to rot. It makes me furious! Take what you want but eat what you take.

Onto the news. We've had a bear messing around the area. Twyla and I stumbled upon him while walking to get mail a few weeks ago. We had been seeing something monkeying around near the greenhouses for awhile and thought it might be a bear, but you sort of go "naaaahh". It would seem that our ursine friend has been stampeding the livestock of our neighbours or at least something is. We did call the fish cops to see if it could be dealt with before some gun happy jackass decides to just kill it or us (something we do not want to happen) but Officer Unhelpful basically treated me like I was some imbecile female type in heels and a beehive, wearing a party dress to do the dishes. I was told to visit their website to learn how to deal with a bear if confronted. I was told that humans and bears have been living beside each other for hundreds of years. I was told that when he was in Calgary he would get hundreds and hundreds of calls every year because people had bears in their yards ( at this point I wondered if he'd been posted in Calgary in 1898 maybe). I was told that people live with bears every day in Jasper and Banff (I didn't bother pointing out that they also have the garbage cans that lock and rangers who deal with encounters). After the marathon condescending lecture, I asked him at what point the bear would be considered enough of a problem to be dealt with. He said "Well, if the bear is trying to come into your house or if he's trying to get into your car while you're in it, then we would consider that a big problem and 'we'd' come out and get it." Upon hearing this, Twyla wondered, well what if the bear is just sitting on your doorstep and not actually trying to get in the house. Is that a problem? Or how about if the bear is trying to get into your car but you are not in it, is that a problem? Or what about the kids on bikes that ride up and down the road. If the bear tries to get up on their bikes with them, is that a problem?

It was so stupid that if I wasn't so pissed I would have laughed at the arrogance of the guy.
Anyhow, the bear is still apparently out there and we all just take a few precautions when we go out.

I finally got Twyla's grad pictures back. The strike delayed everything, but they are here and they're awesome. They turned out really well, but holy expensive, Batman! Yeesh!

Chester is doing great. He had his check up this past Monday and the doc is absolutely astonished at how well he's doing. He has a silky fluffy coat now and looks nothing like he looked before chemo. He used to look like, I don't know...a small sasquatch or something. Now he looks a little like a small bear. All the other critters are doing fine too, though little Poppyseed the gerbil finally crossed the Rainbow Bridge after an extremely extended life...for a gerbil. May he find the sweetest seeds and the greenest grass to play in.

The rest of the past month has been spent on the new website and putting it all together. You can finally actually visit the site at

It's a work in progress as we haven't got the catalogue set up yet. The Etsy store is where you will be directed for product until the site is all done and has the bugs worked out. We've just set up a Facebook page. We'd appreciate a "like" if you get the chance to go there. Have a look and let us know what you think. There is also a blog for The Ragged Rose that you can link to on the site. We're having a lot of fun with designs, especially the clothing and bags. We just finished a new bag last night actually. We'll be putting it up sometime today.

Now, there are actually a few golden leaves peeking through the green on the trees. The apples on the tree grow daily. I always begin to look forward to Fall at this time of the year. It is more than my favourite season. It is in me. It is me. Perhaps that sounds a bit odd, but so many things pull at my heart in Autumn...haunted Samhain nights, Harvest feasts and bonfires, frosty mornings and shivery kisses and walking hand in hand through the rattling grass, cloaks trailing behind as the harvest moon hangs low in the sky. Perhaps those days are not lost but awaiting resurrection. Perhaps.

Enjoy the rain and the wet earth and the glory of the green. Light a fire on the hearth and pull on a sweater if need be. Things are changing and strange days may be ahead for all of us.

What's on the menu: Turkey soup and rhubarb cobbler

Listening to: the wind

Reading: New Charles DeLint ... a compilation of Newford stories

Viewing: Beastly tonight

Goals: Hah! Little of everything.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chester's Journey and other updates...

Well, the boy has gone through his fourth chemo treatment, so he only has one left. The picture is him on Monday after we returned from the vet. He's still pretty sedated here and his needle booboo is still wrapped. He isn't completely bald now on his head. He's sprouting some kind of wild boar fur that is very prickly at the top. This is what he does when he's sedated. Lays in front of his warm wooby (his heater) and holds his puck in his mouth. He's hanging in there pretty well and is in complete remission. I don't want to think about anything further than that. I'm just happy to have him here to hog the bed. He's a master at that.
I think everyone is a little snow weary now, but I'm not minding it that much. This whole journey with Chester has taught me to just let the days pass slowly as they will and not wish for the future to come too quickly. Because it will. There are things in the future that I'm not all that anxious for. I do look forward to getting my hands into the soil again. The herbs and weedy ways are stirring and calling and I'm afraid I must heed the call. We made a really nice rose-geranium lip balm yesterday. I find we're going through the stuff like crazy, it's so dry. I'm feeling a little mummified, actually. We also did a batch of offering incense made with 1000 year old tobacco that we grew here, sage and patchouli. It will be for sale through the Etsy store or you can call us and we'll hook you up.
I have found myself a little nostalgic the last little while. Probably most parents do when they realize that their child is about to graduate. It's such a life passsage. We have to send in the sizes for Twyla's cap and gown this week and do all of the arranging for the whole thing. Then, shortly thereafter she will turn 18. I was telling her that the day we brought her home, I said to Brad, we'd better be careful because she will turn 18 tomorrow. I think we have been careful. I think she's turned out to be a human being that I am proud of. I know intellectually that the day she turns 18 she won't be this other person. She still has a long road of school ahead of her, but it's a milestone. Like, we accomplished something. If you know Twyla, you know we did.
I've just had the worst gawdawful migraines for about three weeks now. It's like torture when they cluster and really takes any enjoyment out of life altogether. It hasn't stopped me noticing that we have entered a time of extreme weather that is only going to escalate. It's not like there were no warnings. Now the piper has come to be paid. I would offer advice but I don't really think people are interested in listening. They either give the "Oh, there's been extreme weather before" song and dance to which I just shrug and say "whatever" because I can't be bothered to argue with them or they figure scientists/government/ignoring it will fix it or they belong to the extreme right and live in a constant state of denial about anything remotely sensible.
I just want to say, pay attention.
So there you have it. Please check out the Etsy store. We really appreciate the support:
Hang in there. Spring is coming. If you listen carefully, you will hear Her stirring, even when it snows...
What's on the menu: Maybe meatpie
Listening to: Bellowhead
Reading: Entangled Minds
Goals: Clean the studio and making more incense
Viewing: Ghost Hunters International

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chester and Stuff

I figured it was high time to wish everyone a Happy New Year. When people start calling and wondering when the blog is coming it is time to make time. That is literally the truth though. I just have not had the time. I don't have time this morning really, but I love you all that much!
Chester had his third chemo on Monday. They upped his dosage a bit since he did fairly well with the much lower dosage last time. He is certainly feeling it and I live by the beeping of the alarm which goes off constantly to remind me it's time to administer one medication or another. He has almost no hair now. Everyone keeps mistaking him for a Chinese crested...without the crest. I call him my little chupocabra. It's like mange gone wild. Thing is he is still so cute. He knows he's getting some special treatment too. His mama didn't raise no idiot! He spends most days between puck chasing and harassing Kippy, sleeping in front of his heater on the couch or curled up on my lap demanding massages. If I don't comply he sits up with his nose touching mine, both paws on my chest to tell me "now, Mama". How could we not try to save him? I've had some interesting conversations with people about how much we are spending on his treatment. We are well beyone $3000.00 now. Some think its crass to talk about money, but here's the thing. He's my little boy. And it's just money. My sister was being a little snarky because we haven't bought a new washing machine yet. But this is the life of someone in my family. Who the hell cares about a washing machine. When I cross over I will not be taking some stupid machine with me. I do believe that this little fur person will be my companion there as he is here. I'm a great believer in that story that goes:
A man and his dog die in an accident. They find themselves on the long road up to the pearly gates where some angelic wise-guy type sits at a podium with a big book. He looks up the man's name and says with a smile "Ah, just go on in, my friend!" the man and his dog start toward the opening gates. The guy at the podium calls out, "now, just hold on there a second, Mate. There are no dogs allowed here. They don't have a soul."
The man stops short. He looks at the gleaming towers and golden light just beyond the gates. Then he looks down at his friend. They stare into each others eyes for a long moment. The man turns around and starts heading back down the road. The guy at the gate calls back to him, "What are you doing!?!? Are you refusing eternity within!?!?"
The man turns back and says,, "Well, I just can't leave my friend behind. I'd rather just wander the roads with him if it's all the same to you."
The guy at the gates looks at him and strikes his name from the book. "Don't bother coming back here." he says.
The man replies "Don't worry."
So the man and his dog head off down the dirt road. After a while they come to a rickety fence and a gate with the paint peeling. They figure, what do we have to lose? He opens the gate and they head up the long path that runs through woods and fields. The sun is warm and he takes off his jacket. Soon they come to a little log cabin. It looks like nobody has been around in a long time. They knock and the door creaks open. The dog sticks his nose in and gives a sniff. They enter into the cabin and the man calls out "Hello...?"
No answer. They walk around slowly. There is a great stone hearth where a fire is neatly laid and ready to be lit. There is a table with a place setting and a bowl beside the chair on the floor. Some bread and cheese are set on a sideboard. Down a hallway is a room with a bed, covered in a patchwork quilt that looks much like a quilt the man's mother made him when he was a boy. The man decides, well, we'll just stay the night here and if someone comes back, I can do some work to pay my way. They return to the table and have a bite to eat. As the sun sets and the crickets begin to chirp, they wander out to the porch where the man sits in a rocking chair. The dog curls up at his feet. The air is warm and the stars come out one by one. Pretty soon, they see a figure approaching from up the path. As he draws near, they see he is a bit ragged and pretty old. He calls a greeting. The man thinks, Oh dear. Now we'll have to leave. Maybe we can just stay the night. It sure is peaceful here. As the old man draws near the dog sits up and his tail thumps twice on the wooden floor of the porch.
"Hello there" the old fellow says. "It's a long road...I'm wondering if I might spend the night and beg a bite to eat."
The man smiles, a bit relieved. Another vagabond on the road. He welcomes the man into the cabin and gives him food. Then, when the old fellow has eaten his fill, he guides him to the room with the bed.
"Oh no", the elder protests, "I can't take your bed!"
The man laughs and says "This is no more my bed than it is yours. You take the bed. I don't mind sleeping under the stars."
So thus they spend the night. In the morning, the man awakens to the golden sunrise shining through the leaves, his dog curled next to him in the grass. A cheeky robin is singing in a tree close by.
The man rises, feeling surprisingly spry. He enters the cabin only to find, to his great surprise that instead of the old man, his father is sitting at the table with two places set. Tears spring to the man's eyes and he lets out a great cry of joy, for his father died many years ago. The two embrace.
The father says "I'm sorry for the deception son. It is the test of kindness and charity that we all must pass. And you passed with flying colours as I knew you would.
"But where are we, Dad?" the man asks, in awe.
"Why, this is heaven, son, and this is your place. Your mother and I live just down the road a ways. We fixed it up for you and Pete, here, when we heard you were coming."
"But what was that other place?" the man asks in confusion.
"Why that was Hell, son. You don't think that heaven would be a place that would refuse to let such a kind and loyal being enter, do you?"
The man beamed and stroked the head of his old friend.
"Come on down for supper later. Your Mother is anxious to see you."
Anyway, that's my version of the story. But it's what I believe.
So, we've got snow piled high and it feels like the Swiss Alps here. It's warm out today though. And Chester is curled up beside me. And it's about time for breakfast.
I'll be putting some pretty cool things into the Etsy store today. So, please, go check it out. Lotta bills to pay and all that;-)

What's on the menu: Chicken noodle soup, Apple pie
Listening to: Omnia
What's goin' on: Making tiny tomes
Viewing: Ha! Heroes...season 3 and Paranormal State