Monday, November 30, 2009

The End and the Beginning

When I woke this morning the snow was falling lightly. Have I mentioned how grateful I am to have had a snow-free November? Well, almost. I accept that it's November 30 and that the snow will fall. There wasn't even that much, enough to make a couple of snow balls or leave behind a few footprints.

And remember my chewed up compost bin? Here's what it looked like at 5:30 a.m.

Tomorrow morning the advent calendars will be started, the store bought one and the home made one. Christmas is coming and having that bit of snow made it all the more real. While we were out walking the dogs tonight Riley told me that today his teacher had told his class that their fathers are Santa Claus. Grade 1. A roomful of six-year old kids. Any takers on whether it is the place of a teacher to dispel the Santa Clause myth? I did a little talking dance around it with Riley and he decided that what the teacher really meant is that Santa Claus is everywhere and in each one of us. Have I said lately how much I love my boy?

On the subject of myth-busting, Patti Digh had a great post on her blog last week detailing a letter a mom wrote to her son when he discovered that the Tooth Fairy isn't real. Go here if you want to read it. I've saved it to pull from when that moment comes in my house. At Riley's current age, teeth are coming out left, right and center, but I'm hoping I'm not going to need it for a long, long time.

Friday, November 27, 2009


*e*'s 45th question, "What song do you have on repeat right now?" I'm assuming most people have ipods and use them, I kind of got lost in the shuffle with this type of technology. I have an mp3 player whose battery won't hold a charge and I was passed down an ipod nano (only 4 gb) that for the life of me I can't figure out how to work. I have managed to charge THAT battery but can't seem to load anything on it. That requires time and patience to which I choose to not dedicate. So the songs in my head are either from CD or what Riley is learning in music class week by week.

Friday Haiku

I am grateful for
This snow-free, mild November
Amongst other things

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm Going Nowhere With This

Have you noticed the Human Calendar on my side bar? I love it, think it's hysterical and very, very creative. I first saw it on beth's blog and I thought it was made up of her own photos because one of the people in it looked an awful lot like her son. Then I started seeing it here, there and everywhere and I thought, "wow, beth's calendar is really getting around!" and eventually it dawned on me that it was there for the taking. Of course, maybe it is hers...I've just come full circle with that thought.

Another thing on my mind is that I think I'm the only one in my house who has the gene that requires occasional tidying up. Everyone else seems to be able to live endlessly in squalor. finches. Well, not MINE, but frequent visitors to my feeder. Thanks to Snap for confirming their identity.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. This guy is giving thanks that he is still doing the turkey walk around town. But whether you eat it or not, the relevance is in the joining together of spirit and energy and gratitude. Life is good.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

*e*'s 44th question is, "How do you make decisions?"

Maybe it's quite normal, but I am capable of making big decisions very, very quickly. And then I'll agonize over what to have for dinner. Black gesso, gold Sharpie post paint marker and collage from a handmade collage sheet.

Friday, November 20, 2009


*e*'s 43rd question - What were you doing this time last year?

This was a phrase that popped into my head when I thought about the question. I really feel as if I was getting ready for so much that has started and happened in my life. The ducks are cut from a handmade collage sheet, and I used my India ink and quill pen for the face writing for the first time. I can see the fuss other people make about this ink, it's quite delicious.

Yesterday I Was a Hero

Every other Thursday afternoon I work in the school library. Naturally, it's the time when Riley's class visits and last year I did the same duty. It has been an opportunity for me to observe him outside of our usual settings and it has been very good for me. Last year I worked with another woman, this year I am going it alone and I have been called upon to do things I hadn't before when I could relax a little and let the other woman with years of experience take care of the trickier tasks while I stuck to the mundane. Yesterday one of the grade 1 boys asked me for a book his friend had taken out previously. He didn't have the title, just a few scanty details such as it was about monsters, maybe Frankenstein and it had something 3-D in it. Often these requests for searches are phrased like, "it has a pink cover and it's about princesses", or "it's a book with scary stories". Not the most salient facts to enter into the computer's search engine. But yesterday I found that book about monsters (293 entries in the search results) and it did have a picture of Frankenstein on the cover and a sticker that said "3-D" for some things that were on the inside. I don't know who was happier, me or Matisse, the boy who had asked for it. He actually came back to the library later that day to thank me. The second class that comes through during my tour of duty is a 4th grade class and there is one boy who is, shall we say - "challenging". In fact he challenges all I say or help him with. And up until yesterday I dreaded seeing him come through the door. But yesterday he was checking out a book about origami and we got to talking about that and the beautiful paper and the kinds of things he made and I saw a whole different side to him, the side that is just another human being excited about his craft, delighting in beauty and thrilled to talk with someone who wanted to hear what he had to say and how he felt. And I did feel like a hero and it felt good.

Friday Haiku

Feeling better now
Goldenseal and ginseng too
I clobbered that cold

Monday, November 16, 2009

Multiple Choice

It might be this one:

or this one:

but I think it's this one:

the virus that is making me feel like crap today. I was on my way to the bus stop, headed to work this morning when I got that familiar feeling of "uh oh, I think I'm getting a cold". And it snowballed pretty quickly. As soon as the pharmacy opened I ran downstairs and bought a bottle of Cold F-X as it has worked amazingly well in the past. But only if I start taking it within minutes of when the symptoms first appear. Waiting until I got home at the end of the day and then dosing myself would have been too late. I think I have it on the run, I'll know for sure tomorrow. But I'm going with shot number 3, it's the prickly strands with that weird looking nodule on them that feel dastardly familiar.

Friday, November 13, 2009

November So Far, Examining the Dark

At the beginning of this month I made a commitment to myself to examine the dark. Since then I find I have been less affected by the actual shortness of the days. I will admit that as rotten and trying as October was weather-wise, November has been, so far, a pleasant surprise. We have had an extraordinary amount of sun and some warm temperatures but only a degree or two above normal. The last few nights we have had some very hard frosts. And in the morning I find myself noticing the beauty of this:

and this:

and how our soccer field looks like there is a dusting of snow when it's really just frozen dew:

Walking the dogs by the water this morning we noticed that the ducks are still here although they are starting to congregate, as they will, in clumps of hundreds, facing south, assessing the conditions for their upcoming flight. Here is a pair that dared to come close enough to us despite the canine presence:

Since Trish at Buttercup Beret lauded me for my brutal honesty today, I will admit to having eaten an entire 200 gram bag (slightly less than 1/2 pound) of these since the beginning of this month:

This may have contributed to my surprisingly light mood. Or not. But today I wasn't even bothered by Friday the 13th.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Further Chronicles of the Dark: The Saboteur

I have been sitting on this card for almost a week. When I first pulled it from the deck I laughed, then felt kind of devastated.

From a deck of 80 cards, I managed to find this one. According to Caroline Myss, the Saboteur is one of four archetypes we all have in common, the other three being the Child, the Prostitute and the Victim. My Saboteur and my Victim often walk hand in hand. Just when I think I am past much of that behavior, it surfaces and I get to look it boldly in the face. Again. I can look back on my twenties and see how I was so mired in personal discovery-hormonal-reactionary-overdrive and that helps me when I spend time with people of that age. It has given me an insight into the angst that grows from adolescent angst. My thirties were slightly better. Everything calmed down somewhat but the Saboteur would often surface with self destructive feelings and actions of not being good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough (you get the idea). And now being able to look back on my forties I feel as if personal growth has sped up. Conceptually, what used to take me a decade to work through, I feel I can "get" in a couple of years. In theory. Both light and dark attributes are pretty dark to me, the light is described as, "Highlights your fear of self-empowerment and the changes it would bring to your life". I do fear some of the changes, I do want certain guarantees. I'll bargain with the gods and goddesses - give me this but don't take away that. I want to let go of the trapeze and yet the fears are paralyzing. This, in a nutshell, has been my week with the saboteur.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Four Letter Words

Our Saturday paper had an article entitled, "Doggone it, it's hard to be a non-swearing parent," written by Felix Carroll with the Albany Times Union. This saint and his wife have actually managed to put their swearing on hold around their kids. They admit to using certain language with each other, often in the form of name-calling, but not in front of the kids. I was amazed. My friend Beth at Books etc. has admitted she swears like a sailor and has no intention of stopping. (Love that!) I have tried myself but with little success. Riley automatically knows what words he can or can't say. He was a late talker, well into the age of two, but once he started he had amassed a large and sophisticated vocabulary. In the early years I often fretted over the very real possibility his first word would be the "s" word in front of Grandma (who uses it rather frequently herself I'll add). I am guilty of using not only the "s" word, but the "f" word as well as "g-d". But I don't stop there. I also am known to string them together in very quick sequence such as "g-d" "b" "m-f" and other variations thereof. Tsk, tsk. I hope my son doesn't start swearing like me at any time in his life. Usually I find it inelegant and coarse when someone else is doing it. Not the odd word, but the ones at high volume or the strung together ones. I guess it's time to clean up my act. At least in front of the kids.

That Chickadee Feeling

Recently in Christine Kane's weekly newsletter she listed ways to beat the descending dark days, one of which was to put out your bird feeder. Two days ago I did that as we love to bird watch. Early yesterday morning from the bathroom window Riley saw a black cap chickadee in it already and let me tell you he was so excited. We watched a couple of chickadees come and go for much of the day. It's amazing how something so small can bring so much joy. My sister, a teacher-librarian in the Toronto area has sent us many good books since Riley was born, one of which is called, "That Chickadee Feeling" by Frank Glew. It's a story about finding the thrills in life, small and large and remembering them on a regular basis. Frank Glew is an environmental educator who also wrote a number of other children's books two of which we have and love, "Feed the Good Wolf" which is based on the North American story about good versus evil and, "When I Grow Up I Want to Be Just Like My Dog". I highly recommend them in these holiday shopping days. Books are some of my favorite things to give. This year, I am making my most important gifts (ssssh, I can't tell) and buying a lot on Etsy. I'd like to encourage you to support handmade art. It doesn't have to be expensive, and they are one-of-a-kind gifts. So much to love about that.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Question and New Card

Earlier this week I did my tag for *e*'s 42nd question, What is your favorite holiday? Well, duh, I do love Christmas in spite of the fact it occurs in the winter. I love how that holiday takes people off of themselves and into the practice of caring for and about others. The presents aren't bad either, but the season brings a kind of quiet and sense of outward peace that I don't feel at other times of the year.

And isn't it funny, my archetype card this morning was The Teacher.

I think it's hilarious that within days I've pulled both Student and Teacher. So the shadow attributes are, "manipulating or abusing students; teaching negative traits and destructive skills". In my past I have taught creative writing and stained glass courses and I often see myself teaching again but I'm not sure what. I don't think we need to be an expert to teach a subject, just have a healthy interest in it and an open spirit of sharing because true teaching is also learning from your students. I think as parents we all assume the role of teacher and personally the shadow side speaks to me about being a better example to my son about how to roll with the punches and, for lack of a better metaphor make more and sweeter lemonade. Some days it's hard because I'm human, but I'm working on that by sitting under my bodhi tree more often.

All that glitters is not gold

And all that is orange is not pumpkins at this time of year. Look at these chinese lanterns I pulled out of someone's trash bin this morning:

Yes I am a garbage picker and proud of it. I'm hoping to enjoy these for a little while then save the seeds. Obviously if a neighbor could grow them, I can too. Black thumb and all, I will see if I can't grow me some orange for next Halloween.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Don Juanita

The card I pulled from my archetype deck today was Don Juan.

The shadow side of this says, "Using the power of romantic attraction for private agendas". And oh yes, I have. Not recently, not that I am aware of. But frequently in my late teens and twenties, often enough in my early thirties. Much, much less so in my forties. Maybe it's the benefit of age that has tempered that in me. But it has got me thinking about my attitude towards sexism. Do I expect a man to give me his seat on the bus? It's never going to happen, but that might be because of the selfish age we are moving through. I think in those kind of instances such as giving up a seat for someone who might need it more or holding the door open, it comes down to common courtesy.

I do have a bone to pick with the MAN (it must have been a man) who decided to instill daylight savings time on the population. I am just so dang tired these last few days. Turning the clocks back is supposed to give us one more hour of sleep but I ask you, do you know a woman who, in a busy house, is the one who got that extra hour of sleep? Kids don't really respond to it unless they are teenagers. I know it's only an hour but not only am I dragging in energy, I'm hungry all-the-time. There's me visiting the Don Juanita in me.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dark Days

As promised, I have been contemplating The Dark. It's something I can't pretend isn't happening, can't deny it doesn't affect me in ways I wish I would resist. So instead of trying to ignore it, I'm going to embrace it, explore it and try to scrounge around on the bottom of it. I am just forgetful enough that it's not safe for me to light candles on a regular basis; bringing more physical light into my world is not what I'm looking for this year. I want to use this time to see what The Dark can offer me, what its influence can bring in so that I can stop dreading this season and start using it to see the parts of myself that are often "in the dark". Yesterday I read Robert Munsch's, "The Dark", looking for metaphors. I read it through a couple of times, seeing different things and ending up with a children's story that is a delight to them because the protagonist is a child. Jule-Ann saves the day from the dark. Lovely and yes, I could have read into it that if we let it, The Dark will feed off of the darkness around us and grow until it covers our sky and turns our metaphorical days into nights.

I also dug out my deck of Caroline Myss' Archetype cards, shuffled them and chose this one randomly:

I can relate to this, I do feel like an eternal student, like the light attributes of the card says, "an openness to lifelong learning". I love discovering new things, jumping in with both feet and often taking on more courses than I can logically handle because they all inspire me and I feel like I don't want to miss out. One of the shadow attributes that stuck out for me was, "unwillingness to translate knowledge into action". I wonder, "do I do that?" Do I take my knowledge far enough so that it does transpose into action? Maybe not. Taking so many classes means I short change myself, I don't give myself enough time to work the lessons in different ways, letting mistakes happen without getting thoroughly discouraged by them. I take what I consider to be failures to heart. But I do move on, find more classes to jump into. I think I need to examine my student attitude and see if I can't bring what I learn more fully into my life and my art.