Sunday, February 22, 2009

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wedersehen, Good-bye...

I am going to be away from my computer until Saturday, February 28. I've decided to take a break, get some perspective, break out of some ruts that I seem to be in.

I love this place, and I so appreciate the perspectives and almost conversations that flow out from this place. But I've been sort of gloomy, and slumpish, and yuckity for the last while. And I need to just bust away from some of my defaults for coping. A big one of which is my laptop.

Okay. Lest I get weird, and sentimental, and ask for a group hug or something....
I'll just back away from the computer now.



okay. now.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

She Attacks The Diet Industry Because She's In a Mood

Sometimes when I get feeling depressed; I have this urge to be very,very cynical and sarcastic and critical. But I don't like to take that out on actual people, since I really love people and hate knowing that I made someone else's life shittier than it has to be. So, this morning when I came across a popular weight loss propoganda, that spark of cynical irritation came flaring to life within me. Please join me in a virtual bashing as I dissect a portion of this interview process. Raise your glass of full fat mochacino to these poor, hungry women and in your other hand, wave a placard begging for a new definition of "success".

(Popular weight loss group, interviewing woman for their online "success story") :
"So, Susan; What combination of elements do you believe most contributed to your success?"

Joyce's cynical brain: By success, we can assume that you mean you managed to transform yourself from a fat leeching drain on society into a vibrant, thin, smart, happy, bright, addiction-free, recession-proof, happily married, perfect mother, crafting birthday party throwing pinata making aerobic genius? Because we all know that no one could possibly expect acceptance, love, flowers, or balloons if one is four to four hundred pounds overweight, right? And one could easily assume that it would be impossible to be happy or content unless one has found success via the golden calf of weight loss? But, hey. I could be wrong. So, let's give Susan a chance to answer the question, shall we?

Susan: I had lots of good support at home. My husband would come home from work early and baby-sit so I could go to Meetings.

Whoa! Susan!! Did you just say that your husband is a baby-sitter?! Whose children are they? The Schwanns man? Maybe your better chance at "success" is reminding your husband that a parent never baby-sits his or her own children. It's called parenting, and there is nothing particulary heroic about it.

I also decided "It's about me now."

Why does it make me consistently and completely crazy whenever these words are spoken? Even when my counsellor would suggest that I should "Put myself back in the equasion", I wanted to spit. Maybe it's just semantics, but it sounds so bloody selfish. Don't we live in a culture where it's always "about me"? Don't we need to hear something way more revolutionary like "It's about loving your neighbour. It's about finding yourself through losing yourself. It's about finding wealth by giving it all away. It's about letting it all go."

I had done a lot for everyone else, so now it was time to focus on me.

That sounds sort of good. That sounds almost charitable. But it sounds so mutually exclusive. Weird, how that just feels like a punch in the gut. Kind of reminds me of when men leave their marriage of 25 or 28 years, finally seeing the light of "looking after themselves" and figuring out that they're really "just not that into you" any more. Maybe I'm reading a lot into this, but isn't that just crazy selfish? Wrong? Don't we sort of innately focus on our selves, navel gazing, sweating, stressing, thinking it's all about us?

I wanted to be as young as I could for as long as I could, and I knew I had to be slimmer to do that.

Because EVERYONE knows that its impossible to be fit and healthy unless you are also slim. No one believes those statistics about how unhealthy it is for women to be underweight, how they cease to menstruate, how they grow hair like fur to keep their arms warm, and how the hair on their heads starts to fall out in clumps. How they have to take supplemental pills because they are malnourished, how they are more prone to osteoperosis, anemia, brittle nails, dry skin... Just to mention a few.

I also wanted to wear cute clothes and I couldn't find any in my size!

hmmm... Okay. You've got a point there. And that is a way to measure success, for sure. It's hard to find fashionable mu mus, and it's frustrating to not fit your favourite clothes because you've had one wheel of Brie too many. But what if ultimately, success doesn't lie in the shape of our bodies? What if his constant barrage of weight-loss pressure is akin to a subtle conspiracy to make us ineffective in our worlds? What if we believe that we are successful, regardless of the weight we do or do not carry? The breasts that we love or hate? The stomachs flat or paunchy? What if we got so consumed and so heart broken about the huge, real needs in our peripheries, that the bodies we live in would be mere vehicles to take us where our hearts want to go?

How then would we measure success?

I don't know, Susan. Maybe you did experience some sort of personal revolution that also included the shape of your physical body. But I don't think I would represent just myself when I say that I would love to receive an inundation on the renewing of the mind. How I'd like to become a success story that would reflect a transformation by that type of renewal. How something began on the inside, around the area of my heart, and then radiated outward with continual concentric circles, spanning so very far away from "ME" that advice about "making it about me now" would seem obselete and ridiculous.

It is handy, and easily measured to just boil it down to the size and shape of the body though, I'll give you that. But personally, I think it's all a trick. It seems attainable, that type of success. whereas renewing a MIND? Whew! I guess that would be pretty hard to market, eh?

'Cuz what kind of tape measures and weigh scales could we possibly find to measure our success then, eh? Maybe you're onto something Susah. Congratulations on your ultimate success. Now go hire your husband to baby-sit your children and go for a run or something. That whole success thingie is pretty tenuous, you know...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Choose An Identity

I'll have an order of "stable" please. I'd like to avoid the lows and the overanalysis. The sensitivity could go. I'd like the personality that copes well; that learns a lesson that doesn't need to be re-learned fortnightly.

I'll have bright, cheery, intelligent, confident.
Not so much of that sad, please.

I'll take competent, reliable, compassionate.
I'll have a side of administrative, some decisive, and a dollap of "learns quickly".

I'll pass on the scatter-brained, hurtful, distracted, and depressed. No obsessive, compulsive, rigid, or controlling. I'd like to have the heavy heart removed.

If I could choose an identity.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Things We Lost in the Fire

Gorgeous movie.
"Things We Lost in the Fire is a well-acted, beautifully filmed reflection on love, loss, addiction and recovery from life's obstacles."
This one was a bit tougher on the psyche; ruthlessly touching on some of my most aching bruises. I swear I saw my brother's children and the incredible injustice of a gorgeous family man dying way, way, way before his time.
Then there was my other brother. Incredibly portrayed by Benicio Del Toro; a bright, beautiful, kind-hearted man who is utterly ravaged by addiction. Although it nearly killed me, I was grateful that the movie had Jerry relapse instead of gratefully recovering because of the kindness of a near stranger. Addiction is brutal. It owns you.
So, of course, as the character named Jerry speaks (or doesn't speak...) candidly of his pain and struggle and craving.... I saw myself. I saw the agony of choosing day by day. I saw the bottom of the human condition- which I recognize in my own addiction.
I saw the redemption in loving one's neighbour; the personal risk of loving at all; the injustice of who dies when, and who keeps breathing in and out without living at all. I saw the grip of addiction- the constant, ruthless, screaming torture of the mind and body at war.
I saw me, and him, and him, and her. And I hoped that the tears I cried washed some of the horrer out. I hoped that something Jerry said would resonate and stay with me and help me find my way. I hoped for better things for the brothers in my life- one who left his family behind and badly needs to be here to see their beauty, and one who lives crippled with addiction.
I swear I saw their faces there.
It gave me a tenuous, painful hope for all of us. God be with us.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Finally got to watch the movie "Chocolat".
You haven't?! WHAT?!
oh.... But you should.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Happy St Valentine's Day!

Start 'er off with a honeyed heart-shaped whole wheat toast.
Rounded out with some last minute heart-felt lovin'.

Ah... Young love.
Dear Josh
You are very cute. You are Good but you ben bab (bad) sometimes.
Write back.

How would you like your toast? With or without anti-seizure medication? Perhaps a little something to keep those fits and tantrums away? Remember.... Love is patient... Love is kind...
How could I not love this job?!
Is this a modern day Saint that I see here before me?

Saint Sam practising his new-found penmanship for the low pressure kindergarten Valentine festival of good lovin'.

I love Valentine day and here are the reasons why:
No one has ever started a war on whether this holiday is appropriate, or whether we should say "Merry Love" or "Happy Day", or whether using the word "Valentine" is culturally sensitive.
No one ever asks; "Are you ready for Valentine's?"
And you just can't get too much love.
Or too many red cinnamon hearts.
Happy Valentine Day, everyone!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Yeah... I should put away that laundry.

And get those kids to bed.

Clean up that table.

And- oh mmy! That porch.

Those dusty bunnies wouldn't stand a chance if I would just run that mighty vacuum.

Oh darnit. Right. That cat really needs to get fixed.

I was gonna figure out e-bay so I could sell off some of my immense collections to pull together some money for the kid's europe trip...

oh.... that bed. Too bad that it got stripped and washed and re-made yesterday, just in time to be pee-peed again. I don't suppose I get a credit for having done it yesterday? No?
well. I guess I should go make that bed.

That wall bothers me every single day. It's awful and ugly. It got patched about five years ago. I should go buy some paint, wash that wall, and look forward to painting it this weekend.
Yeah, there's stuff that I should probably do.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Like a Fish Out of Water.... tits on a bull.
Does anybody like feeling out of place?

Personally, I hate it. And of course, I tend to overanalyze it. I try different ways of coping with it- telling myself to "just be myself". (does anybody actually understand what that is? If so, could you enlighten me?) Or telling myself that I ought to just concentrate on engaging other people, drawing them out, and then enjoying hearing about life from their perspectives. Which only works if people are interested in talking about their lives. Which people are not necessarily interested in, which is why I am a fish out of water in any case. If conversation exists entirely in conversation realms of which I have zero or no interest in, no desire to foster interest in, and quite frankly freak me out..... Then what?

I land up feeling shitty about myself because if I can't meet people in conversation, then what is there? Which brings me back to overanalyzing.

Are there situations in which it is enough to simply endure, try to use your manners, try not to think too much, and recognize that as a fish out of water and as tits on a bull, you simply can draw no real conclusions about anything until you find yourself in a different situation where you don't feel like a pee-peed your pants baby alive in a polly pocket world? (can you say.... run-on sentence?!)

Okay, people. comment. Tell me if I am the only person who tortures herself with questions such as these.

Tell me how YOU cope.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Day An Eyeball Ruled My Life

It's something how a tiny speck can rule your life sometimes.

I'm not very good at quoting scripture, but after yesterday's dramatic events, I have had a few Biblical references come to mind. One of them is when Jesus suggest that people don't go around looking to remove splinters from other people's eyes until they have gotten around to getting the planks out of their own eyes.

The other one is where Paul talks about the tongue being like the rudder of a ship- a small piece with a mighty ability to move things in any direction.

In the home of the Hildebrands, it was the eye that moved the ship. Or Cheri's mini van. Or my butt into action to try and solve the problem of the boy's eye that would not stop irritating him. Roughly three weeks now, we've inconsistently treated Micah's eye with polysporin to try and help his hurting, irritating, inflamed, teary left eye. It just wouldn't get better. It didn't spread either, and didn't get crusty, so I was pretty confident that it wasn't pinkeye we were dealing with here.

Sometimes my mommy guilt-o-meter spikes because it is so challenging to get my kids to the Dr when they are having problems. I have to think of all the children I care for. I have to think of all their parents; some of whom prefer not to have their children left with a sub. I have to think of how to get around without a vehicle. I have to think of who is coming over when, and who comes for lunch, and what parent comes when, and at least twenty other things that I haven't remembered to think of.

But I do have Cheri.
Who is pretty clever.
And helpful.

Cheri figured that Micah had some foreign body in his eye and suggested that I get him to the Doc. She stayed with the kids so I could get him over there, and why-oh-why did they simply write up another prescription for another eye drop when it was pretty easy to see that if he had an infected eye for three weeks already, it REALLY would have spread to his right eye by now??!!

Which always makes me want to beat my head against a set of stirrups and scream WHY-OH-WHY did I just make fifty million arrangements to get over here to be told something that even I know is not going to resolve this problem?! Why-oh-why do I get the feeling that the medical clinic is set up to frustrate me and to be told to come back in three days if this doesn't help when I have already been using antibiotic eye drops for three weeks without any progress??!!

Which again makes me grateful to have Cheri. She knew that the boy needed eye dye and some serious magnetic looks into the eyeball instead of more drops. She straight away phoned the eye Doc in town and arranged to have him take a look at Micah's eyeball later that afternoon.

More arrangements.
More subs.
More anxiety.
More adults sticking drops in and poking around in Micah's eye and insisting that he must have some crusty discharge? (please, oh please, be pinkeye. We know how to treat that).

But Dr Lecker came through for us. Thank you, Dr Lecker. One drop of dye. One look into that left eyeball and those magical, sensible words: "He has a foreign body stuck to his eyeball that needs to be removed". Ahhh... The sweet words of truth.

Then that gross feeling in the pit of my stomach-- Just how does one remove a something-or-other stuck to your son's precious eyeball?

Dr Lecker got right to the phone to contact an eye specialist in Winnipeg. Within twenty minutes, he had made arrangements for us to meet the Doc in his office, downtown Winnipeg, just moments before rush hour. Whew.

right. No car. Kids at home with sub.

Cheri is an adult, WITH a vehicle. Get her on the horn, tell her in a no nonsense tone that I need her body in my house, and her van keys at my disposal. Threaten her with the withholding of coffee and porriage if she doesn't cooperate fully and immediately. Thank her humbly and most sincerely for being so smart and assertive and making the arrangements for us to see Dr Lecker.

Place said eyeball in vehicle, and head to the Winnipeg Clinic. Hope that children in my care have been accounted for, fed, changed, loved.... accounted for.... Did I mention that?

Arrive at medical clinic. Meet fourth medical professional of the day. Endure more eye drops, more questions about discharge, drops, itches, and pains. More magnifiers up the eyeball.

Then the big cahoona. A pair of tweezers brought directly up to the cornea without a word of warning or explanation. WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Well, my son did what any normal, red-blooded, self-protective human being would do. He jumped back, melted down, and began to weep. He was scared. The Doc looked mad. I wanted to hurt someone. I wanted to use tweezers, without warning, in creative and unloving ways to grown-ups who don't think about what its like to be a kid who has just had four people poke at his eye in the space of five hours.

But what I did was to speak soothingly and lovingly and by the grace of God, CALMLY to my son. I explained to him what was happening. That we were all tired. That the doc was just a guy who knew how to make him better and that we had to trust him, even if it was scarey. That I would stand up at the end of the room and that he should just look at me, be brave, and let the doc take that freeeeeeeeking foreign body out of his poor eyeball.

How proud could I be of my sweet son? My sweet son who has a history of being terrified of strangers? Who as a toddler could not tolerate strangers looking at him, never mind speak to him, or God forbid.... touch him?! This brave ten year old rested his chin back on the eyeball magnifier and did what the doc told him to do. (grumpy, miserable, out-of-touch-with-his-emotions Doctor) That doc used his super duper steady hand, super duper magnifier, and super duper teeny weeny tweezers and lifted out a teeny weeny piece of plastic that was glued to my boy's cornea like so much saran wrap.

That microscopic piece of plastic that ruled my life. That mystified the professioals. That brought out my mother bear. That gave me keys to my hero-friend's van. That little bitty piece of plastic that ruled my son's eyeball for weeks. That gave him a couple of days out of the grade five classroom.

That scrawney piece of plastic that for a short time, was the boss of my life. That became the rudder of this ship. That tempted me to point of various planks in eyeballs around me. That little speck that thankfully, is no longer the boss of us.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

It's A Wonderful Life

It's a wondrous thing to live vicariously through one's children. Especially when they get certain giftings that their mother only dreamt of as a teenager. Like coordination. And confidence.

So, what a thrill i t was for me to volunteer as a driver for my daughter's basketball team this past weekend. I think its healthy for parents to immerse themselves in their kids realities when possible. Like a duck out of water, the only thing I was fairly sure of was how to operate a Dodge Caravan on a winter highway in Manitoba winter. The rest of me was there to listen and learn.

It didn't hurt any that our nighttime destination was Brandon- our prior home city.
So, after a rousing afternoon of basketball where our girls slaughtered the opposing team, we headed off for the bright lights of Brandon for some pizza and shut-eye.
It was there, while shovelling spinach salad into my gaping face that I phoned my friend Lory to let her know approximately when I would arrive at her country estate. After I talked to her; she talked to her neighbour; who then spoke to her mother; who then phoned Lory to request my cell phone number. By no small miracle, my cell phone was turned on, and when it vibrated in my pocket I didn't make a metal note to get that weird sensation in my hip looked at by my doctor at next year's physical appointment. I actually recognized it as a vibrating phone and remembered how to answer it.
It was Boler Babe's Neighbor's Mother. Those of you who check comments in the Darfur blog may recognize that name. She said she had something for me, so would be right over to Boston Pizza for the hand-off. I had great fun telling my vanload of young ladies that they'd have to hang around for a few minutes because I had a "parking lot deal" to take care of.
She looked suspicious enough, and came through on her hand-off.

This marvelous wall quilt. Beautifully stitched by BBNM herself. I want to hang it up there on the side of my fabric cubby unit, just above the photo of my dad being a young man, and the wonky log cabin piece that BBNM sent me some time ago. I still like it too much to share, but one day I will and you'll see it over on the other blog. It'll make a million, I am sure.

We were lucky enough during the gap in the tournament to be hosted by someone in Carberry- a friend of the other mom driver. She had the most comfortable couches in the world, and if you look closely, you'll see that underneath that quilt of puppy shapes is yours truly- catching a much needed nap before the last two games and the long ride back home.
Other than staying up until 3:30 am the previous night catching up with Lory and stripping her fertile brain of creative ideas and inspirations.... I've no idea why I needed that nap.

Lory had a gift for me too. She is one of those people who reads about neat ideas on the computer (stumbleupon. if you don't do it; then you MUST) and then actually learns new skills and actually does these neat ideas. I think I almost have her convinced that she is an artist.
She got a serger for Christmas and made this bag out of a thrifted skirt, with a fused plastic front pocket. It's marvelous.
My daughter Jane immediately claimed it, and has toted it off to school all week.
So, maybe I get to live vicariously through my children.
Maybe they get somma dat too.
Oh. And the tournament? Our girls WON!! They were the champions, my friend.
All around, a wonderful life. Well, a wonderful weekend, at the very least.

Monday, February 02, 2009

It's Tough to be a Do-Gooder When Someone Beats You To It

So, it's awfully nice when someone from the church brings you a meal just days or weeks after you've had a wee little baby, isn't it? It sure is. So, when a coordinater type person called me to ask whether I would be willing to make a meal for so-and-so and their brand new shiney sparkly baby, I jumped at the chance to be their hero.

"Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday?"

Well, that was easy. Monday. Not Sunday, because that's the day before Monday and ought not to be messed with. Not Tuesday, because that's not quite Wednesday or Thursday, and one ought to do one's best to protect oneself on such a day.

So, on Monday I made a big supper- theoretically big enough to feed my own grateful crew plus enough to throw a little philanthropy around.

Except that when I put the fettucine into the dish and began to spoon the chicken and vegetable alfredo over it, I got a bit worried about looking like a stingy generous loving neighbour.

And I couldn't have that now, could I?

So, they got a little more than I thought they really needed.
All two of them, plus the baby. But I couldn't let my church lady persona get tarnished now, could I? Could hardly afford that. Better just cook up a little extra fettucine and stir up some extra white sauce for my own family. Scrimp on the chicken and veggies a bit for my own family now. A hard working, meal-giving gal like me couldn't resent such a little bit of extra effort now, could she?

Get a nice insulating towel to wrap that generous meal up in to keep it warm for those poor parents of one and load myself and my noodles into the van to deliver my good Samaritan meal.

Find the address. Balance the vegetabley and chickeny goodness and apple pie in my arm as I reach out to thoughtfully knock and not ring the doorbell, so as not to waken that poor one little baby. Not only does this thoughtful church woman bring casseroles, she also makes it a practise to not wake sleeping babes. Will wonders never cease?

Someone scampers to the door.
I wait in eager anticipation for that gratitude to make all my stirring worthwhile and gratifying.

I get the blank stare.
"Another one?" he says, sadly lacking in gratitude or awe.

Evidently some other church gratitude snatcher had just been there. Sucking all the available affirmation clear out of this guy. Bringing him and his wifey and mommy of one a delicious hot meal. Probably had a salad too. And garlic toast. Cheese garlic toast even. With real crushed garlic, not some pathetic yellow-ish powder shaken out of a smudgey, gritty spice bottle. And I bet she had time to actually bake her apple pie. Not shove it into a ziploc bag and scribble "@375 for 45 min" on the back of an Autopac envelope decorated with flour and lardy fingerprints. She probably took the time for a shower today. Maybe got to the hairdresser's since August and sprung for a colour and cut. She probably had a nice baby card enclosed with her hot meal. Even a gift for the wee new church member.

Well, I tell you. It gets pretty hard to do some good in this town when all these impossibly perfect people get there before me.

If I'm going to get any credit around here, and maybe a nod for being a pretty darned generous church lady, I'm going to have to do something about those Good Deed Snatchers. Meanwhile, at least me and my large and hungry, but incredibly giving and self-sacrificial family could nibble on some fettucine with the occasional sliver of chicken in it.


Sunday, February 01, 2009


My friend Rod sent over a you tube video that is really funny and insightful and ironic and worth a watch. Check it out, and then help us all remember that yes, our issues are real and painful but Boy- oh-Boy! is it nice to lighten up sometimes!