Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
In a way, that joy of building castles in the air is still with me. I'm a Manager in a busy government office with a large complement of staff and a big budget. My day is filled with meetings, decisions, approvals, and people, people, people. I am an acknowledged expert in my field and people pay attention to what I have to say. When I listen to a new plan or policy, I build a structure in my mind on what it will look like. Are there flaws or obstacles that will hinder us? How can we fix it?
The most fascinating structures of all for me, these days, is complex group interactions. How do we coax a group of people in to a new way of doing things? Can we help them overcome their own barriers? How do we get the best out of our people?
When I started out, I started at the bottom as a records clerk. This job found me when I was very low, and I worked my way up. How did I end up at the bottom? I became pregnant as a teen. The father, who I stayed with for three long years, was abusive. He rarely worked. We lived in a dirty hovel. When I left him, I was a shattered human being. But I was also a young mother of two small children. I did not have the luxury to give up. I had two futures in my hands. So I went to work. And learned and grew along the way with my children.
My children grounded me. No longer a passive dreamer, I went out and built a future for us. I gained some callouses and some smarts along the way. I was no longer a flat and plastic suburbia child. I had depth of character and new insights on how people are; both the dark and the bright. I chose to shine. So, ironically, my checquered past gave me the decent foundation to become a decent writer.
I've been published - once - a cute little anecdote about my son for a magazine. But most of the time my work has been turned down by publishers.
I've learned that rejection is part and parcel of the writer's trade. I've also learned that writing is a higly solitary activity that comes with rare praise. But the creating, if I remember that. The joy of building my castles in the air, that is mine to enjoy and share.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Here's a dumpster diver in Calgary. http://shaneonabike.wordpress.com/2007/01/10/checkin-out-of-dumpster-divers-anonymous/
And here's a meetup site looking for local dumpster divers. http://dumpsterdiving.meetup.com/cities/ca/ab/edmonton/
There's a cachet to this sort of activity. After all, there's evidence of excess everywhere. For some people, it can become a mission to reduce that environmental load. Kind of like a modern Robin Hood and his merry men. They get to know the disposal cycles of the stores and where the best "takes" can be found. My son casually mentioned, for instance, the great finds of pre-packaged and expired sandwiches he was able to pick up behind a local convenience store. The "grazers" held a lot of appeal for my son, as he has a very strong miserly streak (I recently broke him from picking up cigarette butts when he's out walking with me). For him at least, the activity also had a side benefit of saving enough money to re-invest in drugs.
Which is the grimmer side of the grazer culture. It tends to pick up people who, for whatever reason, are not fully engaged with society. They could be suffering from untreated illness or addiction. They can literally drop off the grid. Living on the streets in Edmonton is doubly hard because winters can kill.
I won't comment either way on the wisdom of the grazer lifestyle, but I am worried that it's a quiet subtext in our society that no-one is talking about.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
So it got me to thinking what I would share in my own "last lecture". It would most definitely start with "do not be afraid", and would include things about boundaries (respecting yourself) and barriers (removing them), about hummaness and inclusion, about believing and trusting yourself, about decency. Find your community, and work hard to make it yours. How to measure the quality of the information you find. How to measure the quality of your own beliefs, and to question. Be a leader worth following, and see how the world changes around you. Why it is worthwhile to fight for a better world.
P.S. I thought of two more. Integrity, the big lesson from my father, and self-discipline. How to get it and keep it and demolish the whole guilt cycle.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Whereas some people need to be stimulated by their environment, "entertain me", it seems that I prefer to entertain myself.
It is my salvation, I think, to look outside myself, to stay engaged with those around me, to include them in my sphere of interest. When I get outside myself, I am good. Too much navel gazing and I become self-absorbed and fearful. After all, if any one of us look too closely, we are going to find some damaging flaws. (OMG! Fix it, fix it!) But the fix is not inside, it is out there.
With people. Dust and all.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I don't know if my iPod and cell phone socks will take off, but it seems that they should be really cool. I do check with really cool people like my granddaughter and my neice just to be sure. My daughter scoffed at my idea until she saw a woman with a cell phone sock on the train. She, also, had balked at the cost of the iPod sock and opted to make her own...out of a real sock.
Anyways, that's how I kept my hands busy. When I am dieting, I am overwhelmed with frenetic energy, searching for an outlet. It is my hungry cells looking for their ambrosia? What will it take to get them to open up?
Friday, November 14, 2008
We are always hearing of people who are around seeking after the Truth. I have never seen a (permanent) specimen. I think he has never lived. But I have seen several entirely sincere people who thought they were (permanent) Seekers after the Truth. They sought diligently, persistently, carefully, cautiously, profoundly, with perfect honesty and nicely adjusted judgment- until they believed that without doubt or question they had found the Truth. That was the end of the search. The man spent the rest of his hunting up shingles wherewith to protect his Truth from the weather.- "What is Man?"
I take an anti-inflammatory, and go to bed early. Hubby, bless his soul, notices, and puts a temporary halt to his endless teasing. He even offers to call the dentist at seven the next morning. I must look really, really bad. It turns out they are not open at seven but rather, open at ten in the morning! I take another anti-inflammatory, and soldier on to work. Taking a break halfway through the morning meeting, I make the call at ten sharp. And then another call at one minute past ten. Thankfully, the receptionist picks up on the second call.
I find out that dentists, or rather their loyal receptionists, can hold you hostage, too.
She asks if I can come in at three. "But I have meetings this afternoon. Can I make it later?"
"Our next opening is the following Wednesday."
I make it for three. Again, hubby refrains from teasing and picks me up promptly from the train station. I must sound really, really bad. The dentist checks me over, taps my teeth, shaves down the offending tooth, and confirms that I will likely need a root canal. He prescribes an anti-inflammatory and some antibiotic in the meantime. As I rise from the chair, I have to pause for a moment as I am washed over with an intense wave of pain. A tsunami wave that overruns all my senses and leaves me reeling.
The dentist quickly decides to do some emergency work. I sit back in the chair. I am given a happy face ball to squeeze the life out of. The dentist chatters about his "day of pain". It seems that everyone that came in that day needed help in the worst way. Sure enough, when he drills in he finds a dead tooth, just starting to abcess. He cleans it out and puts on a temporary filling. I am now on antibiotics and yet another anti-inflammatory.
But here I sit the morning after, and I am surprisingly pain-free. I was held hostage, but the ransom wasn't too expensive. I simply had to put a hold on my regulated day to take care of some necessary things. Now, to find the money for the root canal.
Oh, P.S. I've borrowed the picture from a fellow blogger, Willie Walsh:
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Here's another great group, working at breaking down the barriers, and re-integrating some of our disenfranchised back in to the community.
The organization is Youth Restorative Action Project (YRAP), and is peer-run. Think about it. Committess of teens telling teens how to straighten out.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I'm afraid of losing my history.
Thank God she added the second part, diarizing. I can honestly say that I do. Though I don't know how much is spent on introspection. I also fear that too much navel-gazing will make me self-centred and neurotic.
But more about forgetting, which is what the instructor suggested I explore a little further. It's not like alzheimers runs in the family, but my mind my most valued asset. Just like a pretty woman fears losing her looks, I fear losing my mind. I spend so much time with ideas, will I forget my children's names? Where have we lived? What have we done? So I keep the utility bills from twenty years' back.
Yes, it's probably time to clean out the attic. And the basement. And the cobwebs in my own mind.
I have a feeling that instructor is going to have an amazing course. She asked me to make sure to introduce myself at the class.
Monday, November 10, 2008
What is my favorite place in my home? Hard to say. I guess you could pick where I spend the most time. But that might be for convenience and comfort, not real joy. Of, course, most time is spent in the bedroom. We have made it comfortable. It has satiny soft microfibre sheets, deep mauroon window curtains, and a flat screen television on the wall. The room is comfortable.
I would have to say it is my kitchen. My kitchen is where I can most easily create. Oddly enough, it was the purchase of a simple recipe cover that changed the way I approach my kitchen. It inspires me to put up the most recent recipe to try, and prompts me in the evening, when I would most comfortably retire to that cosy bedroom, to make something instead.
So I went to the library. One of the books I picked up is "Mercator: The Man Wo Mapped The Planet" by Nicholas Crane.
The book gives a rich description of life and society of the 1500's. The story is extensive, too, because like so few of his time, Mercator lived to be over eighty years old. What strikes me is that a bad winter or a poor harvest could send the people in to a spiral of poverty and starvation so very, very quickly. I am at the part of the story where Mercator is in his fifties. He has just lost a grandson, his daughter, and one of his sons to the plague. His contemporaries are passing from kidney stones, an accidental splinter of jousting pole to the brain, gout, stroke, and heart attack. Familiar to our times, the series of disasters and political events have many convinced that armageddon is at hand. All the signs are abundant.
So, as my earlier readings of medieval times have led me, people are no different today. We react the same way to dire events. There is love, dignity, fear, and prejudice in abundance.
What is different today is the strength of our administration, civilization, health care, and the devising of social safety nets. Can you imagine today, when a financial crisis looms, that we be faced with lines of migrants leaving our city, emaciated, munching on grasses and barks to stave off death?
Not that we take the needs of the poor for granted. Oh, no. But we have come a long way. There are ways to prepare for social crises. We've learned something from our histories. Like Joseph of old, our leaders should store up during the seven fat years of abundance, for what may lay ahead.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
(Added November 13, 2008 - well, I'm fresh back from diabetic training and it turns out I was only half right. The nurse told me the culprit was FAT. Fat gets processed the slowest, so it will stay in my system, being broken down and stored, for over 24 hours. The list of food "good guys" gets shorter and shorter....)
This morning, I wake up to one of my worst morning numbers, 8.0 mmol/l. What did I do differently? Hubby and I indulged in a large pizza with bread sticks last evening. I ate the equivalent of five servings of bread in a single sitting.
The numbers don't lie. Bread kills. Me.
I mustn't give up carbohydrates altogether, of course. The stir fry was nearly all carbohydrates, too. But they were at their most complex. There was nothing complex about that pizza. I can all the toppings I want, it is still a very, very simple answer to my cravings (fat, salt, and bread).
It is obvious there is more work to be done in our family to change our eating habits and our preferences. I have an image of me in a monk's cowl, sitting down to a plain meal of vegetables and barley or perhaps a little soup, parsimonious in my sips, withering to a shadow of my former self, a veritable living prune...
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Watching the sparrows out my window, I learn something of a sparrow's worries. I've given them a gift, a steady supply of seed to help them through the winter. But they approach the feeder cautiously. Over the past month, they have quietly made their way to the feeder, and quietly left. They don't approach it directly, either. First, they land in the upper branches of my cedar, then in the cool, green dark, they hop ever closer to the goal. Even as they eat they are cautious, taking a quick look around before they crack a seed.
Why such caution? Because others are watching as well. We now have cat-visitors to my yard. More than once I've caught a strange cat sitting in our basement wheel well, intent on that feeder, so temptingly close above.
"What is the price of five sparrows? A couple pennies? Yet God does not forget a single one of them". - Luke 12:6.
I am sure God is not tracking them with the same intensity as a cat. And with another motive altogether. Why does God care about the sparrow?
Note also, the sparrow does not throw caution to the wind, even if God is watching.