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Friday, March 30, 2007

We are Soooooo Cultured



We've always dreamed of a family vacation. And now we're going.... International!

Okay, well.... Fargo....

eat... swim...shop... Repeat.

Back on Sunday.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Clean Sweep

I have the most beautiful daughter in all of daughter-dom.

But my daughter is a pig.

P.I.G.

Being spring and all, it seemed appropriate to evict all things PIG-like. But I found I'd grown attached to that daughter of mine, and I didn't quite have the heart to drive her out.

So... since we never get a four or five hour long reality show with our cable package, we decided to do our own.

After two large garbage bags filled for the thrift shop, and two large garbage bags for the garbage truck, we found a lovely bedroom.

All that hard work paid off.

Now all we need to polish up are her manners.....

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Friends

Spring break, 2007



Its pretty handy when your kids are also friends with your friends' kids.

And it doesn't hurt that those kids are pretty darn cute.

It feels pretty decadent to usher in spring with a whole lot of: sitting around, laughing with friends, and enjoying how the children are growing. (And yes, I'm aware that it makes me sound like one of those clucking old ladies that you run into at the annual Christmas gatherings.... )



Sunday, March 25, 2007

Family



We all have moments were we feel utterly alone in our oddities.

The absolute best remedy is to go back to where it all began: the gene pool.


The second day of our raucous cabin getaway, we were joined by a few of the old folks. My dad made it down the steps without any disaster, much to our relief. Uncle Johnny, Tante Tina and mom (Tante Nita to some) were young and spry by comparison.

Cousin Grace joined us from Hamilton, citing some pressing need to be with family. Her colleagues and students would have to carry on without her.

Who knew we shared anything? Not me.

But over wine and hysterical laughter, we learned things that defined us as having sprung from the same soil. We share quirks and fears, oddities and exhuberances. The time went by too quickly.

The quiet of the cabin gave room for some of the nausea in our stomachs to spill from our eyes. There was space to voice the unspeakable grief for Ken's daughters. There was oppurtunity to compare stories of our childhoods, and hold up our perceived realities to those who also walked similar paths. There was just enough time to recognize some character similarities that must have come from our shared genetics.

Perhaps the shared reality of our recent losses made the time together even more precious. Too young for so many funerals, we have however met over cold and still... brother....cousin... and auntie. We stand a little closer now, sheilding one another from the chilling winds. There is no way to imagine what the next four seasons will bring us. But they will find us square shouldered, standing together strong amidst the change.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Family

The older I get, the more fascinating I find family to be. Gone are the days when I wanted to put as much distance as possible between me and whence I came. I've gone out, blazed my own trail, and now come back and learned for the first time all over again, that we are sooooooo sharing lifejackets in our particular gene pool. All of us.

I'm glad I went away and then came back, because now I know for sure that its not just because we shared the same borscht every Sunday, warmed the same church pews, called the same people "aunt" and "Uncle", or never had the courage to stray far from the nest. Turns out, an awful lot of us did a fair bit of exploring, without looking around for permission to do so, or holding each others hands.

*expected to come are: sister Mary, top with exceedingly short, brown bangs, and a dashing plaid sweater; sister Kathy directly beside her, about half her size, and cousin Bev, the bright blondie to Kathy's left. The two little cuties in the front row are cousin Grace, who is flying in from Toronto (whoo hoo!), and sister Carol, who is wearing capri pants waaaaay before their time.


My relations are a fascinating, intelligent, hilarious, gifted bunch. The women are strong, soft, fiesty, complex, compassionate, complicated beings. We have much to learn from one another. Much to validate in one another.

And so, as a growing tradition, this weekend has been ear-marked for our annual trek to the cabin. Over food and drink, laughter and tears, we anticipate adding more layers to our relationships as cousins first, and for some of us, Friends much later.

Sadly, this year will be smaller than some. Due to the recent passing of a shared relative, the women whom he called "auntie", and "mom" will stay behind to join hands and try to soothe the raw and inconsolable.

The chubby red-dressed babe in the lower picture is yours truly. I grew up with cousins, sort of. There were no cousins my age, as many of them were thinking of having their own babies by the time I came along. My siblings were closest in age to me, and I had a cousin or two that matched up with their ages, and one cousin who was a few years younger than EVEN ME, bless her heart, but she moved away when she and I were very little.

So, its been a recent discovery for me to find kindred spirits in this swampy pool. We're all over thirty now, and the relevance of our age has really taken a back seat. The commonality of experience and genetics brings us together, now by choice. We relate now as women- timeless, learning and leaning on one another.

And if that's not enough, we also share a passion for good bread, real cheese, and a dem fine wine. Now, that's stuff we never got at the family gatherings.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

News Flash: Mental Illness Kills

Time to remove stigma, misunderstanding, and mystique from an illness that changes the exchanges of vital chemicals in the brain. Its devastating enough to live with a diagnosis of liver disease, cancer, or diabetes, but when the organ that goes into failure is also the one that directs decision making; the consequences can be devastating.

Mental illness is not an embarrassing condition that weak people are susceptable to. In my experience, its often particularily gifted people who have to learn to live fully with the additional reality of these form of illnesses. Nor is it that people "choose" the illness. (well, except for some criminals who see claiming the status as their best option).

As with any other malady, there are medical treatment options. Some are effective immediately, some require "tweaking" over time, some are ineffective. Just like cancer.

Sometimes, people die.

Allow that to be an oppurtunity to bring the truth about mental illness into the light. Use it to educate those fortunate enough to not know the reality of it firsthand. Ask the question: how best can we be helpful to people who suffer? Don't sit back in judgement or look for someone, or something to blame, any more than you would the victem of heart failure. Don't bother to sit up a little higher in your self-righteous pharisee-ism, grateful that you're not an embarrassment to your loved ones.

Maybe if we gain some perspective and understanding, we'll all become part of the solution for the other zillions of people who are currently suffering... right under our noses. This is not an illness that will go away because we refuse to acknowledge it. This is not an illness that has to end in tragedy.

The tragedy is undeniable, but it need not be served with a side dish of shame.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mall Hounds


*a little something light to tide us over...
but don't you worry. There will always be a funeral to write about in a day or two... the clan, it is a dwindling...


You know things are getting desparate when your spirits soar at the hand scraggled note: "Bag Sale", only to plummet when you recognize that the lady in charge is planning on grocery bags and what you really had your heart set on was the generous precident set by last week's willing volunteer who recklessly handed out
garbage bags!

It was no small task, shoving that fur coat into a safeway bag and then having to still put out a whole dollar for the bag full.

My heavy conscience lightened somewhat when a pair of perfectly good and sensible winter boots shared their wrapping with these kick ass blue leather boots.

Yes, the girls did their mother proud.
Jane suckered me into letting her take three more inanimate pets home (the house is old, and I reasoned that forty-one-thousand stuffies pressed up against her bedroom wall had to act as some sort of insulation...)

Sam got shin pads for soccer and a new pink wand..... to go with his tutu, of course.

Micah got in his head that he's only allowed one thing at the thrift shop. He never seems to fully tune in that his sister pushes a rusty stroller around as her makeshift shopping cart and stuffs it full of bears and cats and dogs and skunks and never bothers to count a thing.... ever. Her mother, being compulsive by nature, avoids fully locking eyes on that stroller. Denial enables her to concentrate more fully on her own need to acquire every button manufactured since Cain and Abel. Playing "let's pretend that life is fair, so if Jane can get every toy that looks lonely, I should be kind and tell you to please go find yourself seven more pounds of plastic crap" would obviously not be in everyone's best interest at this time.

If I taught the kids that life is fair, I'd be setting them up for some pretty hard falls up the road a ways. And like I said, we've already got some old favourites in the gonna-need-me-some-therapy department.

Yup, We'll be eating soft potatoes from the "five bucks for fifty pounds of potatoes straight off the farm, but stored against a warm cow... since last summer" gunney sack again this week.

Mama gone spent all the eatin' money at the junk shop again.

Now if only that self-righteous, tight-fisted, bag-handlin' volunteer had handed out the large bags, I'd now have a little grocery money left, AND I'd have the appropriate bags for our upcoming garbage pick-up day.

Some people.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Dance of Life

Melancholy comes easily today and much could be said of the unanswered and miserably sad in life.

There's no denying though, that beauty and ugly insist on holding hands, moving together through this life dance. Beautiful music fills the empty spaces, while the snow outside melts slowly... only to return twelve hours later in a violent storm.


While the birds sing promise of fresh growth and green grass,
People die deaths, even in spring.
Disappointment and compassion know depths unheard of.
Others twist to grant themselves a mighty pat on the back for holding back the"I told you so's".
Their backs bleed raw with the lack of joy in it.
The old find that they move even more slowly, belaboured.
Weary of climbing steps to the church for more buns, more talk of souls in eternity.




Heart too large for the space of my throat, and never having been much of a dancer, I turn my eyes instead to the subtleties of lighting and colour.

Other songs will come.
My feet can then follow my heart.

God have mercy on us all.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Profiles From the Pediatric Witness Protection Service

*
Dopey:
With the voice of "Tickle-Me-Elmo" on inhaled helium, this little fella can be found hanging around the fridge sniffing at the air, sustaining himself for remarkably long periods of time on hardened mucous nodules, and burning so much fuel on constant , rapid motion that clothes from "mini-me" regularily slide down, revealing his backside.
*
Doc:
With a penchant for sound effects and humming tunes from everywhere, Doc lives a not-so-secret life in pink frills with a "lego guy" in each hand providing much needed balance. Has been known to entertain himself for four hours with a set of gummy-candy characters and never actually eat them at all. Too soft a heart to eat such close friends.
*
Happy:
Fully aware of his powers, he charms audiences with his dance moves, flawlessly performed to "The Crazy Frog Is Dancing". Given to throwing all things, round or not, and blessed with a deep fascination with the broom, dustpan, and vacuum cleaner. (Don't worry, he's sure to outgrow it before I can turn it to my good use).
*
Sneezy:
Wise beyond her years, Sneezy has been known to correct her baby-sitter for calling a backhoe a tractor. How very base of me. Sneezey has recently taken on the position of Assistant to the Childcare Provider, and can be found zipping zippers and buttoning buttons for "the kids" at outdoor play time.
*
Grumpy:
Brilliantly disguised as a willful child, Grumpy is highly intelligent, artistically skilled with pencil and colouring apparatus, and would be an excellent candidate for relocation to a culture not bound to deadlines or time management. Grumpy has the prettiest eyes, a charming smile, and the potential to go wherever she chooses to. Very likely to succeed.
*
Bashful:
Oh, this one is a charmer. If any evil exists within her dna, it is cleverly disguised under a halo of sunny ringlets that stray across the bluest little eyes you ever did see. If ever one is in need of information from Bashful, she can easily be hypnotised by animated motion. Most likely to become "Thumbelina" in her next lifetime, Bashful could melt any heart of stone. In a surprising twist, she has a hearty appetite and has been known to polish off a full bowl of unsweetened oatmeal at breakfast (her mother's idea, not mine!) and silently consume two entire hotdogs with ketchup for lunch. (My idea, not her mothers...)
*
*
*
**%$#@** Allow me to ammend this post slightly.
the name "grumpy" should now be reassigned to me: Daycare Lady.
If there is ONE THING that I can NOT tolerate, its being lied to.
I hate it with a deadly hate, and it breaks my heart.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Brother Ken



For an over analytical person, I don't seem to spend much time trying to make sense of my brother's death.

Others seem to move through their grief, dissolve into spontaneous tears at the sight of a photo or memory. I wish I would, it seems more natural.

I can't bear to hardly think of those he left behind. There is nothing to be said. There is no possible comfort- unless you consider something desparate like their happy reunion some eighty years and a lifetime or two away from here as being adequately reassuring.

Look at his eyes- so full of love. He wasn't always like that, its not the way I remember him when we shared a house under mom and dad. But life shaped him that way.... His wife's laughter, his soft, brilliant daughters.

I'm trying to prepare myself somehow for the upcoming summer season. That date that will mark the passage of time. The last day of school when we heard his diagnosis. A few warm weeks into September when his lungs took in that long rest.

I hope I can grieve then, like a normal person. I hope I don't translate it into something tangible, something simple, something complex.

I hope I can one day stand to see them without someone else having to plan it. There's no condemnation in it for me, I haven't felt like I ought to be "doing more", at least between me and God. But when others reach out to them intentionally, I feel a stab in me - as though there is something terribly wrong with my insides, that I don't have the conviction to try to engage.

I'm glad you came to peace in this life, Ken. But I'd have liked the privelege to become your sister-friend from this new vantage point. God grant me whatever it is that I need to be whatever it is that I need to be for your daughters.

No, Really

I've become one of those people who post pictures of their cats on their blog.

How to Care for Your Cat


You must provide a comfortable environment for your kitty to sleep in.
You will need to invest in a good scratching post. This large green one is a favourite, and doubles nicely for a parking space for the humans when American Idol comes on.

Don't forget to encourage good interpersonal skills. Henry the Hamster is an excellent citizen and has provided prime training grounds for the felines to practise self-control.

















Outdoor exercise and fresh air is critical to a cat's proper development. If you have an outdoor

tent erected just outside the back door, it also provides an excellent vantage point for her to

keep a guard on your house for you.


With those sharp teeth at your back door, your sense of security is ensured.


Kitties are highly intelligent. Stimulate their furry little minds with electronic game playing.

You will also find that the cat's contented purring will provide soothing melodies for any leftover toddlers you may have lurking about the house. A few minutes of white (or grey) noise, and the little gaffers will be fast asleep.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Fear of Success/ Fear of Failure

This is an area that I want to explore and hopefully find resolution in. Its one thing to "live my life out loud", be honest about where I struggle, and honest about what I learn. There always seems to come a point though, where I just shut the whole thing down and believe that I've set myself up to fall and I'm just not willing to do that.

I think two culprits are fear and pride.
If we think little of ourselves and the potential we have to impact our world, and wonder that God will be with us through such a bold venture, we shrink back and take the safer route. To a fairly large extent, I think I've taken the safer road. Its safer, simpler to go back to shitting on myself than to stick my neck out and risk people misunderstanding my intent, or conversely, expecting too much out of me. Even as I write that down, I see the irony. People do misunderstand. And that's not my burden. My purpose in life is not to defend myself. Consistently defensive behavior in people always makes me think: "He doth protest too much"; What is it that he/she feels needs to remain hidden away from others?

Back to me, fear, and pride. Pride isn't necessarily a person puffed up with the pleasure of being himself. Pride can also be found in the act of keeping oneself small. You don't have to look far to find people who are very proud of their humility. They don't wear trendy clothes and they are right proud of their schleppy choices. They live in modest bungalows and don't associate with those "gated community types". They serve in at least two capacities at their local church, because simply loving their neighbor wouldn't count as a good service, nobody would notice, and their neighbor never mows his yard on time and his dog shits on their lawn.

Fear is a slippery one. If you keep yourself small, you always make room for people to build you up, which makes them feel useful and adequate. What if you didn't need to take so much any more? Would you intimidate your friends? Offend them? Would you run out of friends? Would they whisper about you, how special you think you are, how badly you are about to fall?

One of the humblest people I've had the pleasure of knowing is also very powerful. But he knows where his strength comes from. He doesn't depend on his amassed knowledge, although it is consistently drawn on. He has a deep love for God, and a daily dependence on that relationship. He is buried neck deep in human misery nearly every day, but he has fantastic joy and peace and is not overwhelmed.

I'd like to get me somma dat.

Monday, March 12, 2007

More Happy Stuff.

Maybe its the increase in daylight hours thats bringing up my serotonin levels.
Or maybe its just this fun stuff I found at the "boutique" this weekend. Oh, and some of it came from a secret thrift shop that sells stuff for peanuts. I'll never, ever reveal its secret location.

And as Shelley will attest to, it also sells the best t-shirts.


Fab-YOO-luscious shoes.
Sammy tells me that the white ones are "boy colour". He still prefers to wear the pink ones though. They go with his tutu.



A stack of fun vintage fabrics and a couple of custard cups. The custard cups are fun on the coffee table with little old junk I've picked up for no particular reason, but just love looking at.





I love old patterns. I rarely use them, and after a while, I wonder... Why did I pick that up? Whatever will I do with this? How long will I find joy in staring at it, then decide to use it for bum wipes at the cabin outhouse?


I nearly had a coronary when I saw this absolutely perfect lustre ware creamer hidden behind some junk on the toppest, toppliest shelf. And I didn't drop it.
The stack of plates beneath the creamer are so great that I can't stand to look at them.
I entered my name in a silent auction.
My offer was $2.50.
I was the only one who put down my name and number.
Fools.
I will never serve you pie on those plates.
You may be prohibited from even looking at them.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sweet, Sunny Saturday

There is a blog that I love to hate. A wonderfully creative person who appears to whip together the most wonderful stuff out of bits of fabric. I like to imagine she does this while simultaneously home-schooling her eleven obedient, ruddy cheeked cherubs who dine on her slowly and methodically prepared meals of organic, home grown vegetables and tofu. She likely follows a budget, works out by howing beets or kumquat, and never colors her hair. Like I said, I hate her.
That's only because I rarely find time any more to make stuff. And I happen to like doing that sort of thing.




Lots of coloured buttons with bits of old thread still attached to them make me insanely happy.
Old scraps of quilted squares make me weak in the knees.
So on this sunny Saturday, I had nothing but time and oppurtunity to put a few of those hoarded bits together.




I hope you don't hate me.





Have Courage

I am a shameless thief. I pillage and steal and thieve without a single shame. In the days when I used to sew and sell garments, I stole ideas from frocked toddlers whose aunties had brilliantly outfitted them. Now I fancy myself a housebound philosopher and I steal thoughts from brilliant writers and expound on them here.

This morning I came upon a post that I got so excited about that I had to walk away from it because I was trying to read it so fast that I was skipping too many parts. Kind of like stuffing your face with almond rocha at Christmas and then realizing you should have slowed down and enjoyed the process. Or like finding a vintage quilt at the thrift shop for $5.00 and just woodenly walking away because you can't bear the stimulation.

Allow me to introduce Queen Heroical:

"...It also dawned on me that this might be why the Bible needs to tells me (us) to think on whatever is good, whatever is noble, whatever is right etc etc etc ... not because doing so is easy,

............. but rather because doing so means accepting, openly accepting that there is love greater, there is love which exists in the pain of it all. Think on it – have courage oh you of little faith ... have courage, do not be afraid, think on these things. Lifting eyes up can be harder than seeing what is at our feet. Daring to trust in the ever familiar face of betrayal – daring to love when it seems impossible – daring to believe that despite it all – we are all, each one of us, loved by God. Hard. "

I've been thinking about how when we are confronted by things that frighten us, we search our minds for a way to "set things right". We search from the storehouse of all the wonderful learning we've submitted ourselves to. Surely we've read a book about "What-to-do-or-say" when confronted by this situation. Surely we heard a sermon that taught us the appropriate antidote. Surely if we choose our steps righteously, we are responsible to appropriate the correct behaviors to bring back the familiar equilibrium of yesterday.

I challenge you to instead examine your own heart.
How righteous are you feeling? How relieved that your ducks are in a row? Do you dare to lift your eyes? Do you have the courage to love authentically? Do you have the guts to tell your own truth? Ask your own questions?

From which perspective will you love others? From the honesty that we are all stumbling, all gasping, yet all impossibly, mysteriously loved by God?

The more I learn, the less I know for sure. And there's a great relief in there somewhere, because it opens my mind to the endless possibilities of God's endless, redeeming love. And that's where I choose to look and rest.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Redemptive Love

My husband recently wrote a sincere and beautiful tribute to me, his wife. It was honest, and completely lacking in cheese products, cheese sauces, or even essence-of-cheese. He also posted a photo of me where I look like a stupid little girl who just stole a cookie. I mean, he admitted to the world that he was decidedly in love with a dorky looking girl from darp-ville.

Running on empty myself, My heart gingerly tasted the offering he had laid out for me. I knew there was no manipulation in his intent, as he is not nearly as under-handed as *I* can sometimes be.

For me, the real thought provokers were in the comment section. Comments of admiration from people who wished their marriages were as idyllic as Captain I Wonder's surely was. Observers who surely wished their days were filled with wine and tributes, foot rubs and roses, and knowing glances cast across vats of mass produced yellow-brand macaroni and cheese.

Well, after a fourteen year honeymoon of bliss, here's what I say.
Anything worth keeping is worth going to battle for. Its like anything else real in life. The beauty will get smudged with the reek of excrement, your feet will get thick and ugly with corns and blisters from the times when plodding on is the best you could do. The cozy love nest can feel constrictive and prickly some times. The whole game of marriage, once out of its shiney, colourful packaging, can appear to be nothing like what you'd envisioned when you first spotted it in that mail order catalogue. (No, I did not order Brian from the "Schwartzgreig Classifieds")

But here's the mystery, the redemption. Two imperfect, selfish people determine to love intentionally. They decide that in their ignorance, naiveity, and imcompetence to do all this stuff together. Imperfectly. Painfully. Awkwardly.

Chins set like steel, feeling the fear mixed with determination, we go on loving even if it does not add up in the immediate accounting sense. Even when we hate the sight and smell of each other. Even when we understand nothing, we have no answers, and the lovers nectar has soured.

Precious, powerful, overcoming love that when the black winds howl, allows me to feel my hand clenched forever in his, my fears soothed by the sound of his voice propelling me forward.

**This is no way meant to say anything about marriages that end in pain. This is a reflection of my journey alone, and not in any way an attempt to suggest that human love and commitment are enough to subdue any evil. (Although that is a beautiful thought!)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Yeah, Thats What I Said

I have the biggest, strongest, most handsome brothers in the entire world. My brothers could beat up your brothers, your daddies, and your li'l dog, too.



I have the prettiest, toughest, most loving and compassionate sisters in the world. My sisters could pound your sisters, your mommies, and your Skipper doll too.



None of us could have imagined in which ways we would grow to become broad shouldered people of love, brave enough to carry one anothers burdens.



If we moved into a more measurable arena, we've likely been a testament to the reliability of statistics. We've know gum disease, violent sexual assault, divorce, chronic migraine headaches, alcoholism, eating disorders, bad haircuts, too much ham, cancer, premature death, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and drug abuse.

We've known wealth, we've known poverty.



We've known wisdom, we've known folly.

I don't believe that there is a person in my family who does not have wisdom. Its a gift that we received by the grace of God but with a lot of credit to my father Abraham, the father of many.(No, really, my natural born father's name is Abraham, and he is indeed the father of many).

This does not ensure that wise choices have consistently been made but I believe in the underlying legacy of such a gift. I believe there is redemption in it. It allows us to be less fearful in the face of impossible situations.



This has been especially apparent in the face of the very large, painful "statistics" mentioned above. Many people in my family had enough reason to lie down, lie low, and choose to keep their life boats floating as gently as possible to avoid any future upheaval.

But thats not our way.



No, my big beautiful family is brave and they love dang
erously. If information comes along that challenges their tidy sunday school columns, they examine the way Jesus loved the slutty, the sneaky, the smelly. Then they go back to the central message which is Love, and they LOVE with great, beautiful abandon.



My firstborn brother by practical
standards, grew up in a different family than I did. Our birthdays are sixteen years apart, and I have no memory of ever sharing a house with him. Over the past few years though, a new dynamic has emerged. Brother and sister by virtue of birth, yes. But more than that, true brother and sister from the perspective of mutual respect and the desire to interact. Recently, he stuck that loving and never trite "neck" of his out and sent me a long e-mail without black and white answers or judgements. Just beautiful affirmations, truths, tender love, and a deep faith in God that blows all those cheesey, churchy books straight off my bookshelf.



"As I examine the lives of people around me that are redeeming, caring for others in a determined way is always central and restorative. I have benefitted enormously from such people, and the list is very long.

I wish for you peace, and strength to carry your burdens, and victory over the demons. I hope the Shepherd's voice comes through clearly, even if only quietly, and even if amid the noise of the wild all around."



That's my brother.

He's not afraid of the wild, and he's got my back.

Don't mess with me, 'cuz I have a feeling he wouldn't be afraid to meet up with you and yours in an empty lot if you so desire.
Well, in love of course.
Restorative, redeeming love.












Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Running on Empty


I believe it's more an issue of the gauge not working properly.
So, I'll borrow from Paul again.
"Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other's nerves you don't snap at each other. Look for the best in each other and always do your best to bring it out."
*with special thanks to Al K., Janice, Kathy B, Carol, Kathy D, and God who I stubbornly will continue to insist is good and loving.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Thank God For Brothers With Cabins


I did a little magic over the weekend.

Weary of the battlefield, I made myself disappear. The change in location ensured a sharp decrease in the "fight or flight" response. In fact, the only time I rose from the sectional was to ensure my gin levels or maybe to dip a cracker into cheese.

I did bump into the odd giant wolf or two (or did they come in with me?) None were slayed, but we did shake hands on a tentative peace treaty.

Now, at home again, methinks I'll spend my energy not on sharpening my weapons, but rather on learning to most accurately discipher the sheep from the wolves. Then we'll go find us some local green pastures to lie down in.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Simple Living

The mania of our current society has created renewed desire for the less complicated times of the past. There are many publications out there for you to access that secret information on simplifying your life. But if you want to listen to them, you'll have to get up from your warm computer chair right now, transfer your sorry self out to a cold vehicle, then drive to Chapters where you'll be tempted to spend your hard-earned money on a latte while you're perusing the aisles. While you are there, you'll likely run into that old boyfriend from high school who always makes you feel nervous and stupid. You'll probably see a lot of books and magazines on self-improvement that make you feel really lousey about your current self. You'll notice people who have regularily left their houses since 1981, and notice that maybe that's totally irrelevant because those really wide elastic belts are back in fashion, especially with long, clingy, vertically striped acrylic sweaters. Then you'll kick yourself for having thrown them all out just last week when you went about trying to simplify your life without the guidance of a published author. The affect of these stressors will likely engage the compulsive componant of your mind and you'll soon find yourself in the mall, tossing throw cushions, sweaters, and ottomans into your shopping cart with great abandon whilst casting nervous glances at your watch because you really should get going on that list of stuff that you should have been working since 7:00 am this morning.

So, lets keep it simple, shall we?

Lets get started with the kids bedrooms. Keep them in cribs or toddler beds for as long as possible. They come enveloped in heavy plastic which eliminates the need for absorbant sheets and mattress protectors. If the precious kiddies have little OOpsies in the night, the urine, drool, and vomit will simply roll off the edge and save you a lot of laundry the following morning.

A lot of televisions is worth the initial investment. A minimum of one in the kitchen, bathroom, family room, living room, and all bedrooms is a sensible place to start. It completely eliminates the need for teaching and learning social skills. Since much tv programming now is also educational , it will also help to free up any time that you have been using to instruct your children on life-navigating skills. You will also be able to give away all books, games, messy craft kits, cars with sound effects, tiny lego pieces, and electronic pianos. Hence you have eliminated clutter, and dealt with noise pollution.

When the tv's get a little dull, try the kids on the computer. Google earth is an excellent place to begin. Early on even the smallest of children will learn to spin that virtual globe round and round and round at a dizzying speed. Hence, they've recreated the mania of our actual lives, but without the noise and clutter of hockey lessons and equipment, a large cumbersome piano, and ballet leotards, (we don't want to bother with the inconvenience of body image problems either).

The very, very most critical way to simplify your life is to keep your relationships to a minimum. Banking cards have eliminated the need to engage with tellers, mail keys simplify access to your bills, blogging can substitute for relationships with real people, and the tvs should take care of any marital instability. When you are forced into relationships, keep things as minimalistic as possible. Stick to the safe, simple responses to most questions, and smile pleasantly at most times. "I'm fine", and "No problem" are excellent choices for most concerned inquisitions.

If you have problems implementing any of these concepts, please don't come crying to me.
I'm trying to simplify over here.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Parenting, Chapter 4

The crazy thing about being a parent is that you started out this whole overly optimistic project by believing some idylic nonsense about "happily ever after". Somewhere between the notions of "her pomegranates will satisfy you always" and "His eyes are like doves by the water streams" all that symbolism just sort of got to you. All those flocks of new shorn goats mingled with the mhrrh and honey and HOLY SHA-MOLEY the lilies and saffron began to procreate!

Right about that time, you and he emerged from the mountain haunts of the leopards and became fully aware of some other realities. Little goats and doves all over the place. Dripping snot and poo and yelling for chocolate milk and monster cookies.

What the -----?! Time to wake on up and smell the saffron.

Here's where the mama-idealists skip ahead to the whole Proverbs 31 thing. They trade in their two gazelles for a business degree, do a little sewing on the side, and pass up the wine and milk for running out and planting a little vineyard for her and hers. Apparently right about the time she comes in with a cluster of grapes, she can expect her children to rise up and call her blessed. Her husband will want for nothing.

Now, what separates me from the people who seem to have made this transition smoothly? The serene ones who spend time doing sand art and cooking with their children-- those parents who start insisting on good manners by the age of four hours instead of waiting til the beasts are 12, then yelling at them to SMARTEN UP! ?

I think I spent Waaaaaaaaaaaay to much time in that leopard cave admiring rods of gold set with chrysolite. By the time I had fully exited and my eyes adjusted to the new lighting, I think I just went into full blown shock. The kiddies were wild little animals. The closest we'd come to the proverbian formula was for the kids to rise up on one elbow and call out for more blessed popcorn.

Its hard to tell if Mr happily-ever-after is still mesmerized by the nectar of my pomegranates when I'm gently reminding him about garbage day and occasionally letting words like "selfish bastard" escape through my clenched teeth. The teeth that used to look like a flock of sheep coming up from the washing.

Maybe its time to make these passages more relevant to present time. Maybe the best we can do is dress in purple lounge suits (with lycra) and throw some wool or flax into the occasional frozen casserole. Maybe instead of watching over the affairs of our households and not eating the bread of idleness, we could snack on mojos and gingerbread whilst watching Entertainment Tonight and tut-tutting over the bad people having illicit affairs.

Our children will become so disillusioned by the mistakes that we make, that they will rebel. Their elbows will come off the table. They will look adults in the eye, smile, and say "please" and "thank you". They will always stay fully alert, never confusing a human for a dove washed in milk, or a lilly dripping with myrrh. Then when they grow up and pro-create, we can sit back and strengthen ourselves with raisins, exhausted from leaping across mountains and bounding over hills like gazelles and young stags.