Saturday, March 31, 2007

feet back on higher ground......

Morning light, God's blue-kissed light on spring,
march 2007

Whenever God shines his light on me
Opens up my eyes so I can see
When I look up in the darkest night
I know everything's going to be alright
In deep confusion, in great despair
When I reach out for him he is there
When I am lonely as I can be
I know that God shines his light on me

Reach out for him, he'll be there
With him your troubles you can share
If you live the life you love
You get the blessing from above
He heals the sick and heals the lame
Says you can do it too in Jesus name

He'll lift you up and turn you around
And put your feet back on higher ground

Reach out for him, he'll be there
With him your troubles you can share
You can use his higher power
In every day and any hour
He heals the sick and heals the lame
Says you can do it too in Jesus name

He'll lift you up and turn you around
And put your feet back on higher ground.

Van Morrison.

Sun setting light,
God's glow kissing the pussywillows,
march 2007

Max's Midnight Moose.

When my son was only 2 1/2 years old, he learned about Moose and how they live in our part of the world. Like many topics before and since, Max's interest bordered on obsession. He asked many many Moose related questions to a point where it seemed like the only dinner conversation topic covered. However, with this particular subject, it turned out that Max had developed a toddler fear that in the middle of the the deepest darkest part of the night, he was afraid that the Moose were somehow going to enter our home and wander up and down the hallway. Not only was it freaking him out, it was wreaking havoc on any possibility that he was going to stay in his bed all night. So, I wrote him his own silly story, and read it to him. He was able to see the silliness of his fear and it became family lore.

I decided to post it as my contribution to Sunday Scribblings this week. The prompt is "deepest, darkest........" which we all have. I would also like to dedicate it to our family dog, Lucy who would be turning 14 on April Fool's Day and plays a key role in the story. Sadly we lost her a year ago. Not a day goes by when her name isn't mentioned.

Is a bit long for a blog post, so I hope you have time to read it. It's best read aloud to a little one. Enjoy.

Max’s Midnight Moose

Max lives in a white house with his mother, father, big sister Martha and his brown dog named Lucy. He’s a big boy and sleeps in a big bed in his blue room. Lucy sometimes sleeps with him. At night, after his bath, Max puts on his favourite pyjamas, chooses 3 books and crawls into his bed to read with his dad. Lucy sometimes reads with them.

One night, before he climbs into his bed, he says….”Do you think the Moose is loose?”

His sister Martha asks, “What Moose, Max?”

His father asks, “What Moose, Max?”

His mother asks, “What loose Moose, Max?”

“The Moose that is loose at night,” says Max.

They all laugh and say, “There’s no moose that is loose at night, Max. Now get into bed.”

“NO, NO, NO,” yells Max. Not until the Moose is NOT loose.”

So, they all start checking for the loose Moose.

“He’s not in your closet,” says Martha

“He’s not under your bed,” says his father

“He’s not in your room. There is no loose Moose, Max. Have some juice,” says his mother.

“I don’t want any juice, There IS a loose Moose. He comes into my room at night,” replies Max.

“I have an idea,” Martha says to her brother, “that will get rid of the loose Moose, Max. Jump on your bed and yell “MOOSE VAMOOSE! MOOSE VAMOOSE! MOOSE VAMOOSE! Let’s do it together.”

So, they climbed onto Max’s bed, started jumping up and down, and yelled as loud as they could…..“MOOSE VAMOOSE! MOOSE VAMOOSE! MOOSE VAMOOSE!” Then they fell onto their bellies laughing.

“That worked,” says his father smiling. “No more loose Moose, Max. Climb into bed and we’ll read your stories.” Max said goodnight to his sister and his mother, crawled under the covers, snuggled up to his dad and fell asleep listening to his stories.

Later that night, in the deepest darkest part of the night, Lucy the brown dog walked into everybody’s bedroom to make sure her family was safe and sound. Everyone was fast asleep, so Lucy quietly climbed up on the end of Max’s bed and went to sleep.

The next night when it was time for bed, Max asks, “Do you think the Moose is loose?”

His sister Martha asks, “What Moose, Max?”

His father asks, “What Moose, Max?”

His mother asks, “What loose Moose, Max?”

“The Moose that is loose at night,” says Max.

They all laugh and say, “There’s no moose that is loose at night, Max. Now get into bed.”

“NO, NO, NO,” yells Max. Not until the Moose is NOT loose.”

So, they all start checking for the loose Moose.

“He’s not on your bookshelves,” says Martha

“He’s not in your toy box,” says his father

“He’s not in the hallway. There is no loose Moose, Max. Have some juice,” says his mother.

“I don’t want any juice, There IS a loose Moose. He comes into my room at night,” replies Max.

“I have an idea,” Martha says to her brother, “that will get rid of the loose Moose, Max. Put your bicycle helmet on, and we’ll jump on your bed and yell “MOOSE VAMOOSE! MOOSE VAMOOSE! MOOSE VAMOOSE!”

So, Max put on his bicycle helmet, then they climbed onto his bed, started jumping up and down, and yelled as loud as they could…..

” MOOSE VAMOOSE! MOOSE VAMOOSE! MOOSE VAMOOSE!” Then they fell onto their bellies laughing.

“That worked, says his father smiling, No more loose Moose, Max. Climb into bed and we’ll read your stories.” Max said goodnight to his sister and to his mother, crawled under the covers, snuggled up to his dad and fell asleep listening to his stories.

Later that night, in the deepest darkest part of the night, Lucy made her rounds again and checked to see if everyone was safe and sound in their beds. She then quietly crept into Max’s room and fell asleep on the floor in the doorway. That way, Lucy thought, she could protect Max from the midnight moose.

The next night, when it was time for bed, Max asks, “Do you think the Moose is loose?”

His whole family asks, “What loose Moose, Max?”

“The moose that is loose at night,” replies Max.

With a big sigh….UHUH….they say….”There’s no night moose, Max. Now get into bed.”

“NO, NO, NO,” yells Max. Not until the Moose is NOT loose.”

So, they all start checking for the loose Moose.

“He’s not hiding in your sneakers,” says Martha

“He’s not living in your underwear drawer,” says his father

“He’s not anywhere in the house. There is no loose Moose, Max. Have some juice,” says his mother.

“I don’t want any juice, There IS a loose Moose. He comes into my room at night,” replies Max.

“I have an idea,” Martha says to her brother, “that will get rid of the loose Moose Max. Put your bicycle helmet on, grab your hockey stick and we’ll jump on your bed and yell “MOOSE VAMOOSE! MOOSE VAMOOSE! MOOSE VAMOOSE!”

So, Max put on his bicycle helmet, and grabbed his hockey stick. Then they climbed onto his bed, started jumping up and down, and yelled as loud as they could…..

“MOOSE VAMOOSE! MOOSE VAMOOSE! MOOSE VAMOOSE!” Then they fell onto their bellies laughing.

“That worked, says his father smiling, No more loose Moose, Max. Climb into bed and we’ll read your stories.” Max said goodnight to his sister and to his mother, crawled under the covers, snuggled up to his dad and fell asleep listening to his stories.

Once again, Lucy went into everyone’s bedroom to check if they were safe and sound. When she went into Max’s room, she sat down on the floor and watched over the littlest person in the family. The streetlight shone through the curtains and cast a shadow on the wall of Lucy and the rocking chair. The shadow had a funny shape. Max opened his eyes, and gasped….he saw the shadow of a Moose.

“Moose Vamoose, Moose Vamoose, Moose Vamoose,” whispered Max. The moose didn’t leave.

Max pulled the blankets over his head and crawled to the bottom of the bed. When he thought the moose wasn’t looking, he scampered out of bed, went out the door, and ran down to Martha’s bedroom to wake her.

“Martha!” whispered Max loudly. “Martha, wake up. The Moose IS loose and I said Vamoose! And he’s still sitting in my bedroom.”

“Oh Max, you’re crazy. There’s no Moose. I made up the Vamoose….go back to bed and I will see you in the morning,” said Martha and she rolled over to go back to sleep.

Max grabbed his sister’s blankets and pulled them off her. “Get up!” He demanded. “I want you to see that the Moose is loose.”

Martha sighed and followed him down the hall. When they got to the bedroom door, Martha and Max both saw the shadow of the moose on the wall. Just as they were about to scream, their father turned on the hall light. The moose shadow disappeared. Sitting in the middle of the bedroom, in front of Max’s rocking chair was their brown dog. “It’s Lucy!” They yelled. “The Moose is LUCE!! The Moose IS LUCE!” They all yelled as Lucy, their brown dog sat looking at them wagging her tail. They all fell on their bellies laughing.

After that, there were no midnight moose sightings at Max’s house. And everybody lived safe and sound until one day Martha said to Max, “do I see a Bear in there?”

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

thinking and sharing.........

"......when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you think of things, you find sometimes that a thing, which seemed very thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it."
Winnie the Pooh

I couldn't have stated it any better, Pooh. Though I do find that if I can just harness the thingish thing I'm thinking about, and put it into words it can take on a whole new thingish meaning.

Writing is like you find? You start off with one idea that you may have read, or you may have discussed with someone and that one concept can lead you down a path that may have been covered with brambles. You hadn't noticed it before. Writing can be a perambulating adventure in learning......about self, about the people in your life, about your community........about the world we live in. Putting words to ambly thoughts allow one to step away from the honey jar long enough to look around with different eyes.

And own learning through my thingish thoughts have reached out to be interpreted by others who read them. AND.......that to me is one of the best reasons to write.

Yesterday, Tara at Paris Parfait, honoured my blog as one that makes her think thingish things, by linking me to her and to the many others who read her site for insight on current events, life in Paris and beyond. Thank you Tara. My feelings are reciprocal. I love visiting your site to learn cognitively, visually, and sometimes even aromatically.......I highly recommend a visit to Tara's site as well.

As part of the process, started through a site called, The Thinking Blog, it is now my pleasure to recommend five other sites to you and to award them the "Thinking Blogger Award"

TA DA!!!! Drumroll pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze..........

There is an emerald jewel who lives and works and shines in London, UK named Pip Wilson. I visit with him daily for affirmation and contemplation...........for music and visuals......for his inspiration. Pip is a facilitator, motivator, coach, and lover of life. His blog reflects his genuine belief in the beauty of connecting and interacting with human beings. His words resonate with me and in fact when I was facilitating a workshop myself a couple of weeks back, I found myself uttering the very same words I had read on Pip's blog......and realized how much of a profound influence his messages have had on me. He's a beautiful man who makes me think and feel and do and want and strive........ and one day we will meet to share a sip of Cointreau, right Pip?

Carmi Levy lives in London as well, but London Ontario. He is a wonderfully talented journalist and photographer who inspires me with his photos of life around him, and of his thoughts which project out from his shared photos. His blog, Written Inc, is a collection of his thingish thoughts and his thingish shots. He inspires me to see the world through different lens and to try to capture them with my own camera. Many days I walk away from Carmi's site with motivation and new learning.....and a smile.

I have a friend who has a 25 Year Plan and is sharing it with the blogworld. Mike Althouse returned to University in Sacramento as a grown up guy and is just about to graduate from journalism. His lived life, his thoughtful words, his take on the world around him, his ideas around the process of writing always resonate with me. He is putting his life's lessons to very good use. Mike and I met through serendipity, a true flap of a butterfly wing. And now, I flap my wing again and send him to you. Enjoy!!

There is a Harbour in Guernsey I visit regularly to drink from a spiritual cup, which in turn has offered new (to me) and interesting reflective directions. Paul Chambers is a beautiful writer whose words always touch a chord. So often over the winter, I have read a post he has written that is attached to a poem or a quote at Harbour of Ourselves and have walked away with a banquet of thought food. He is a gift I would like to share with you.

Tori lives just south of me in Portland Maine. She writes from her heart........creatively, openly and with a dash of hopeful humour. We just found one another through the Sunday Scribblings blog........and I'm loving how she writes!! Her blog is entitled.....When I Finally Decided To Get to It...... and she surely is. I look forward to reading more about Tori's journey and life and I hope you will too.

So, there you go!! There are several others who fill me with new thingish things to ponder, that's for sure. I wish I could comment on them all......!! And, I PROMISE I will take the time to set up the links on my sidebar someday the meantime.......thank you again Tara.

Let me end with this delicious quote............from a brilliant author, who most likely played a key role in all of our love of reading and writing.....most importantly, taught us how to relish absurdist thingish things.

"Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try! " Dr. Seuss.

During my travels yesterday, I met up with a few friends.
They were travelling together with about 6 others and stopped to find some sustenance. I too needed some, as I had just spent a couple of hours with a person who lives waaaaay out in the middle of nowhere all by himself and was very needy and forlorn. He shared his story and showed me his wounds. I was left driving back to the office feeling drained and sad.....until I came upon these beautiful creatures. They raised my spirits.

I tiptoed, tiptoed out of my car to take some shots..........and these beautiful creatures posed JUST FOR ME!! Then, as quickly as the moment was captured, they turned and high-tailed it out of there. Literally. I was left feeling blessed..........and with the insight that I had just figured out what "high tailed" means. I got back in the car, turned on some uplifting music and carried on with my day.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Christchurch Cathedral, Fredericton. February, 2007

"Know yourself" is good advice. But to know ourselves doesn't mean to analyze ourselves. Sometimes we want to know ourselves as if we were machines that could be taken apart and put back together at will. At certain critical times in our lives it might be helpful to explore in some detail the events that led to our crises, but we make a mistake when we think we can ever completely undertand ourselves and explain the full meaning of our lives to others.

Solitude, silence and prayer are often the best ways to self-knowledge. Not because they offer solutions for the complexity of our lives but because they bring us in tough with our sacred centre, where God dwells. That sacred centre may not be analyzed. It is the place of adoration, thanksgiving and praise."
Henri Nouwen.
Bread for the Journey

Perhaps, there are few solutions, few answers to understanding the events that happen in our lives. Perhaps as Nouwen so eloquently writes, we need to find time to dwell in a place of thanksgiving with an openness to grace and commitment, accepting the idea that there may not be a clear reason behind the events, and learn to be fine with that.

I like this quote very much. Not that it gets me off the hook to figuring it all out, but that it opens a door to a place in my understanding of where I can take a look at my faulty expectations of what it is I'm searching for. Answers.......

There may not be any answers........I may have to surrender to that concept and move forward knowing there is rest in the journey in a place that is sacred.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

in my kitchen..........

"Oh it takes a worried man, sing a worried song
Takes a worried man, come sing a little worried song
Well it takes a worried man to sing a worried song
I'm worried now, won't be worried long"
Van Morrison, Lonnie Donegan, Chris Barber
Skiffle Sessions, 1998

This morning, as I cooked a Sunday breakfast in my kitchen, Van Morrison and his friends joined me for a jam session........all the way from Belfast. It was lovely to spend some time with him, to catch up after a short repreive. A little bit of blues, a little bit of sass.........and a whole lot of toe tapping fun while I whipped up a batch of pancakes.

They stayed awhile to sing a few more Skifflely songs while I planted seeds, and putted around in my kitchen and then left as quickly as they arrived. Sometimes Van comes alone and takes me on a Tupelo Honey trip into the mystic...........he's a unique crusty troubadour who feels more than he EVER wants to talk about, but shows his true colours when he gets lost in song. I love it when he sings me a ballad. He warms up my kitchen like no other guest singer can...........and I have many guests show up out of the blue.........

If you were to take a peak at my kitchen, you'd think it was a typical place.........but OHHHH, it's so much more than it's appearance because you just never know who will pop in for a cup of tea in the morning, or a Friday night jazz fest. Just before dinnertime, my kitchen has been known to host Frank Sinatra all the way from Vegas heaven, or Mick and the boys rocking it out for little ol' me!! Nora Jones made her debut, as did a handful of Canadian bands and a few Fiddlers from Cape my kitchen.

Yeah, even when I look around I am comforted by the familiarity of the photos and watercolours which adorn my walls......of the pottery and blue glass within hands reach on the shelf all of which have been given to me over the years and used lovingly when guests join in......of the whimsical touches that always produce sunny smiles when noticed.......and of the CD player nestled in the corner which is where the music magic emanates from.

That's what Maritime kitchens are all about......full of eclectic magic interspersed with the familiar..........and always full of interaction. It is my perfect place to generate creativity, whether it's a simmering pot filled with blackberry aromas, a roast in the oven, a pan of brownies cooling on the Maritime kitchen is where I do my best creative writing.

In my head,
as I doooobeeeedooooo...

Sundays are the perfect days in my kitchen, because the pace is so different than the rest of the week. When I have a open-ended Sunday to putter, I always feel more ready for the busy week ahead. I always feel more relaxed. With the window wide open to the neighbourhood so that the sounds of the kids playing basketball and road hockey breeze in, and with my musical friends to help me clear away the previous week cobwebs, I can process new ideas while doing......

It is where you find me at my best.

Just this afternoon while making dinner for example, I was listening to............(oh, and harmonizing ...... :) )

"One day I walk in flowers.
One day I walk on stones.
Today I walk in hours.
One I shall be home...... "
Bruce Cockburn........

And I got to my kitchen, I walk on flowers. In my kitchen, I have found my home. I think I'll write about it..........and send an invite to anyone who would like to join me for a jam session and a hot cup of whatever your heart desires. You just never know who may fill the room with beautiful sound.

Thanks once again for Sunday Scribblings and their prompt this week, In the Kitchen. It was fun, as always............

a walk in the woods

Pussywillow promises
Shed darkness for light
Cleanse away grime of winter's blight
Trickling stripstreams
Rivers a flow
Blessings of spring.

Step dancer touch
Cry of freedom abounds
Glorious rhythm of seasonal sounds
Puddle jump sloshing
Sun squinting glow
sneaker fun
Elations of spring.

Robin's egg blueshine
Cradling it's new
Gestational pull whistling renew
Parka free playing
Laughter filled songs
bouncy balls
blue jay calls
Dawning of spring

Pull back the covers
Absorb warming sunlight
Clear the runway for winter flight
Cast off the cobwebs
Toss out the dirge
The symphony of spring is about to emerge.

A wonderful late Saturday afternoon walk (snowshoeing, walking and X-country skiing.......included) in the woods on a friend's property in Keswick Ridge, which included good friends and four dogs......two of whom are new to the entourage. Norm and Lizzie, brother and sister were able to keep up with the crew during the trek down to the headpond and back up, and then promptly fell asleep on the warm coats while we toasted the spring thaw and the running of the sap around the dining room table.

Who was the SAP, you ask??? Well, we took turns.........

It felt good to be alive to welcome in a new spring. It felt good to be around friends and kids and puppies again.

Friday, March 23, 2007

bird of paradise, green village, march 2007

To think that this exotic bird of paradise

is considered ordinary in other parts of the world.

It's all in how we perceive things, isn't it?

and now a word from our sponsor...........

You know what term makes me feel queasy? Wellness. For some reason it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It stirs up this urge to sit down and smoke a whole pack of cigarettes all at once, and drain a bottle of plonk without sharing. OK, I'll share it. But, don't expect me to wipe the opening after every swig.

The word dredges up smarmy email attachments of forgettable Zamfir tunes(who am I kidding, the Master of the Panflute's tunes are easily accessed from the file in my brain labelled muzak) layered onto images of backlit landscapes, spiritually enhanced with pushy messages from angels which in turn make me feel ......... green around the gills.

Wellness brings out the baddy in me........ the cynic ........ is it because it often is presented as medicinal? It's good for you, so it must taste bad?

This week, I attended a meeting to plan a professional development day for the 200 staff in the Region. It's the one and only day set aside in the whole year for everyone to congregate under one roof. Under the auspices of the Wellness umbrella, various topics and workshops were offered up as we tried to sketch out the day. I was a few minutes late arriving and the meeting was in full swing when I tried to slip in without being noticed.

My lateness was concious. I decided to take in a tanning session over lunch. How's that for non-wellness? It felt GOOOOOOOOOOOD. After soaking up the badness of fake sunlight, listening to my favourite music and pretending I was really on a beach somewhere exotic, I found myself strolling slowly towards the office building, stopping to grab a hot cup of caffeine........and seriously thinking about whether or not I really wanted to take part. It was the fact that I committed originally, my conscience, which led me down to the basement a meeting on WELLNESS........

I arrived just in time for a conversation on organic farming, and automatically felt the attack of the cynic I sipped my caffeine made with a teabag from hell, I stifled the urge to ask if someone could explain to me the difference between a carrot and an organic carrot.......a question a friend of mine was pondering just last summer while selling local produce that just happened to NOT be given the "organic" seal of approval AND were 6 dollars a bag cheaper.........

The meeting then led into various and sundry other potential topics for workshops and speakers, all seemingly related to nutrition and body stretching. And, my how serious the conversation was.........earnest and serious..........with an underlying feeling that some members of this group had made it their life goal to enforce wellness in the workplace even if it killed them. How weird is that? Wellness as a cult-like mantra. Wellness disguised as a way to lecture and to judge others choices. Now, that's healthy.

I wasn't alone in my fidgetting and desire to lighten the meeting up a bit. As I looked around, I spotted a few kindreds who were feeling the same urge to blurt out a couple of zinger ideas......

  • Smoking with a Buddy
  • Couch Potato Idling
  • How to Organize your Remote Controls
  • Pesticide Usage to Ward off Evil Neighbours
  • Helpful Tips for Effective All-Nighters
  • Decision Making through Tarot

The urge was suppressed until afterwards..................

These silly thoughts led me down the path to understanding my disdain for all things labelled under the wellness umbrella..........Wellness has somehow been linked to political correctness and the police types who guard their pc's with fervour. The underlying message..........."do it for your own good, dammit......." is never far away. It's like the Wellness Police have strained the humour out of it. And, isn't humour or at least looking at our way of being, our world in an absurdist way one of the most effective approaches to feeling good?? Isn't a good laugh supposed to kickstart the endorphens, which in turn spread LOVE throughout our body systems???

In the end, I did offer to run a workshop...........and suggested a few ideas for consideration.......but warned them that I would most likely be holding a cup of caffeine in my hands, and I may lose all sense of decorum by espousing my opinion on delusional marketing ploys with respect to Organic working "titles" for pending workshops.....

  • When Your Addiction is a Good Thing
  • Middle Age Mania and Hot Flashes
oh, and.....................

  • Blogging as a Road to Wellness.............

I've never been one to be politically correct. I like to laugh too much.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

invisible ribbons..........made visible

I attended a lunch hour Lenten talk on Monday where I walked away with a few encouraging messages which I have spun into my previous learning........... here are my thoughts, woven with the Bishop's lessons............

Jesus teaches us how to be human. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to be human together. The Holy Spirit is a new breath of God's fresh air, allowing for community to develop. What is community? It is where heaven and earth overlap. It is a place of healing and wholeness, where one can feel a sense of kindred understanding and unconditional love. Community is a church without borders, where open breezes are able to move freely.

As the Bishop spoke, I visualized the Holy Spirit represented as a collection of colourful intertwining ribbons, caught in the breeze and flowing all around us. Each colour, each ribbon represents feelings of human beings.........feelings we all have an understanding of if we choose to. Some of these ribbons are shiny soft in pastel shades. Some are rough, like short cropped fur on a bear. Some have thorns that may pierce you when you touch them. Some are velvety inviting that you want to rub it on your cheek. Some are a screaming orange. Some are a dark eternal black. Some you just want to wrap all around your body for warm love.
shared with others
The Holy Spirit helps us learn to be human together by it's ever present breeze of visible and invisible ribbons.......
A sense of community, is captured when we allow ourselves to be touched by the ribbons of see their colour and make-up swirling all around in the wind.
Don' t know if anyone else at the Lenten talk walked away with THAT particular visual, but I did. It has stayed with me all week, providing a feeling of connectivity as I've gone about living my life trying to figure things out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Growing Awareness

finding her tune, making a difference, march 2007

Today, my daughter will be delivering a speech to her class; an assignment given every year. The thought of getting up in front of a group of people used to fill her with shaky dread until the day when she silently and conciously chose to come out of her shyness shell when she began middle school in Grade 6. She told her father and I after the fact that she didn't want to be looked upon as shy anymore. Since then, Martha has come full circle, from me having to carry her into Kindergarten with her head tucked into my neck, to joining a leadership group at school where she finds herself in front of the student body as the M.C. of "Albert St. School Idol." Amazing. So today, she left for school pumped.......determined to deliver a speech worthy of being selected to represent her class in front of the rest of the student body.

Over the course of the past couple of months, she and I have had many conversations about extreme poverty. Her awareness began last year after watching the Bono commercials on "Make Poverty History," and grew when the brochure from World Vision arrived just before Christmas. The brochure was practically set up in a way that described how a donation could be used to help individuals and families in developing countries. A 30 dollar donation, for example would buy two hens and a rooster for a family. It piqued her interest, and prompted many questions. It also motivated her to convince two of her friends to arrange an impromptu bake sale at the school to raise funds. In the course of a couple of days last December, Martha and her friends baked at night and sold the goods at lunchtime. They made enough to buy a few hens and roosters. Her awareness grew............and her speech topic was found.
Since then, she has gathered more and more information and asked many questions. She bought most of her Christmas presents through a fair trade sale sponsored by a local community group, and has learned more about the issues surrounding extreme poverty as well as the organizations and individuals who are trying to make a difference. Her desire to look beyond herself, to look beyond her neighbourhood is growing.
Here is Martha's speech......

Helen Keller once said: “I am one, but I still am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I CAN do."

Today, I am ONE person stepping forward to do something.

Half of the world, nearly 3 billion people live on less than 3 dollars a day. A person dies every second due to poverty. Unfortunately children, the most vulnerable, die most often… child every 3 seconds. According to Unicef, 30,000 children die due to their living conditions every single day. That means, over 200,000 die every week, and over 10 million children under the age of five every year. They all have names like us. They are all connected to families like us. Sadly, they live and die in the poorest countries in our global community.

One.....two....three......we just lost another child.

Extreme Poverty is living in a condition with little or no money, food or any way of getting out of the situation. Poverty is making the streets your home, looking for food in dumpsters, and drinking water from a sewage pipe. Poverty in our developing countries is a growing monster that is fed by the rest of the world, where food and shelter is taken for granted. As Canada grows and prospers, another country like Malawi in Africa gets poorer and poorer.

For a child living in extreme poverty, it means they may not have clean running water, they may not have a bed, and they may not have parents to care for them. Their days are spent searching for food, begging for money, and trying to stay safe………..they have so many obstacles blocking survival. They may get bitten by a disease carrying mosquito and contract malaria and die. They may catch a disease like tuberculosis or measles, which we don’t even worry about anymore in our country. We are immunized against them. These kids aren’t. These diseases kill them. If they get pneumonia, they don’t have the antibiotics to fight off the bacteria. If they get diarrhea due to contaminated water, they die. They can’t afford the medication, and they don’t even have access to it!

One.....two.....three......we just lost another child. I wonder what her name was?

You may be thinking.....Why should we care? We don’t know these people. We don’t know what their names are. They may not speak the same language as us. They don’t live in the same country. They may not believe in the same God as we do or even like the same sports or activities that we like. You may be thinking this issue to too big for us to make a difference.

These things don’t matter. What is important is that THEY matter, just like we do. We are all human beings. They need our help and we can give it. We are one community living on this planet and we are responsible for looking out for those in need. We all matter.

There are so many ways you can help these children who have done nothing to deserve the life that they have been given. Here is one idea. There are 30 kids in our class. If we each gave up 5 dollars of our lunch money for a week we would have 150 dollars. Through an organization called World Vision, we could buy 10 fruit trees for a family. They could sell the fruit to make money and could also eat the food for nutrition and vitamins. For 75 dollars you can send a child to a safe place where they will be looked after from disasters and crisis that were going on the there communities. For 100 dollars we could get Immunization for diseases such as Diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, polio, tetanus and tuberculosis. We could do all of that and more just by giving up 5 dollars.

One......two......Wait a second! Lets SAVE this one.
My daughter inspires me. Daily.

Monday, March 19, 2007

da budget.......101

The countdown has begun for another unveiling of yet another federal budget. A bunch of journalists have been sequestered without palm pilots, cellphones, laptops and other tools of the trade.........what no access to bloggerland?? they read and review the goobley-gook called da budget.

For anyone who doesn't follow political budget drama, I would like to offer you a high level overview synopsis of what will likely unfold over the course of the next couple of days. First of all, let me explain the four types of budgets for your reading pleasure. Oh, doesn't matter which level of government it applies

There is...............

1. The pre-election budget, where the Finance Minister always buys a new pair of shiny leather shoes. 5000 bureaucrats spend taxpayers dollars crunching numbers, holding marathon meetings with various departmental representatives to hear their pleas on increasing individual spending power, holding other marathon meetings rolling up the rim, chewing on crullers, while deciding where to SPEND the money. Thats KEY. The pre-election budget is a foot stomping, hand clapping, back patting yeller from the rooftops spending to the masses................... or at least the ridings that need "shorin' up bye jaysus"

gone are the days when money was handed out to the voters just outside of the voting station. NO, can't do has to be disguised as a budget.

2. The post-election budget, new party, where the Finance Minister explains that he/she will be wearing the same old loafers, but has bought a new tie that the word "whoa is me" on it. This is slash and burn, cut all coattails because the other party blew too much money during their reign budget. It doesn't matter who is in power or who was in's as predictable as a snowstorm on St Paddy's day. Lots of finger pointing during this blame game. Ironically, the post-election budget never seems to cover any key promises made in the election. The provincial budget delivered not too long ago did have a spin on it. Graham's government decided to add the new twist............pass the budget cuts to the departments. I think that's called keeping one's fingers non-smelly.

3. Stay the course budget........slim, trim with little minefields undercover. Enough hot air to fill a balloon, but very little substance. It often comes around the same time as a cabinet shuffle.

4. Averting a big issue budget........this is a tactic budget used to point the voting masses in a different direction if something/spending has gone awry. The sole purpose is to get the REAL story off the front page of the local rag.

Today, we will receive a pre-election budget. My shoes, lots of cashola, bright green this time because Harper is trying to project his GREEEEEEENNNNNN many references to the environment, even if they don't make any sense. Projects and dollars will be spread across the country..........all legit, I'm sure......but ALL at the same time!!

Atfer the big budget speech?

Be prepared for the following.

  • lots of politicians will hate it
  • lots of politicians will love it
  • lots of air time will be used up talking to the experts
  • some experts will love it
  • some experts will hate it.

Question period will be a field of accusing, filibustering, whining, cheering, jeering and postering. Nothing will get accomplished. Life will go on outside of the hallowed halls of parliament.

End of lesson 1............ Any questions? Good. I strongly suggest you tune into Deal or No Deal tonight to observe Howie Mandels Obessive Compulsive behaviour rather than Peter Mansbridge's town hall budget analysis. I guarantee Howie will be more enlightening, and a helluva lot more fun. Perhaps, choosing the million dollar suitcase is less predicable than the budget? methinks so.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

seeking inspiration.........

potential looking for roots

Sometimes, through no real fault of our own, our energy disipates along with our focus. March in Canada does that to you. Accosted by fluctuating weather of wild winds, snow, sleet and slush tempered by slight hints of the sun, it often feels like the last straw.......the pouring of salt on a winter wound. Mittens, parkas and boots long past their expiry date of freshness lay in the corner of the want-to-forget pile. There's an urge to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over your head to wait it out.

The constant wrestle with diffused light which lacks strength to keep the flame flickering, but which has enough strength to mask guiding stars leaves one lacking in enthusiasm. In the quiet of bereft, one needs to seek out small specks of divinity where inspiration hibernates. For, it is inspiration which allows us to leave a safe harbour. It is inspiration which allows us to leave stuckness in order to forge ahead, in order to reach out to others.

fountain of wishes

Today, I spent a quiet hour walking through a greenhouse. No other place at this time of year can boost my spirits as quickly as a multi-sensory pleasure of spending time around new growth. It's's like the oxygen needed for the growth of the plants fills me too. To quote Emily Dickenson, as I enter a greenhouse, "I dwell in possibility."

To dwell in the possibility is to rekindle. All of a sudden, creative impulses begin to generate, ideas start to flow, there is a clarity of wanting to move reach out. There's nothing like looking for and finding spring to fertilize my soul. At this time of year, I need it more than any other time of year.

green tip newness breaking ground
earth scented air filtering around
running water tinkling softly abounds
life's little miracles happily found.

as I dwell in the possibility.

Tonight, I will plant some seeds in my little greenhouse that sits in the front window of my home, and watch them take root over the next couple of weeks. By mid-May, they will be transfered into my garden and will continue to inspire me throughout the seasons.

Seek out the ordinary places for inspiration. You will find it there, waiting to take someday bloom.

PS. Thank you Sunday scribblers............great Inspirational word prompt!! Happy anniversary........your dedication and prompt ideas have helped me learn to find my creative writing flow again. Much appreciated.

kookaburras, canucks and vegemite

This morning I was delighted to receive a bunch of old photos taken in 1984 by my friend Russel, who lives in Sydney. It's been over twenty years since we had been in touch and he found me through the magic of the internet! I'm awash with wonderful gut splitting laughter, quiet moment discovery, rebel rousing memories this morning. At one point during the trip, 7 of us somehow found one another and merged as a gaggling crew of kookaburras, canucks and yanks. We rented a villa in a small village on Crete for a couple of drinking game days and touring and lazing around. The first photo is of the villa. Note the vegemite. It did travel well.
Me, in the glasses.......strange but I don't think I have worn them since. Heather, my true touring/Uni friend AND maid of honour at my wedding :)...........Nick, my kookaburra crush playing the guitar. This was taken (I think) after we had landed at the port in Greece and we were waiting for the morning train to Athens. Nick played all night long........beautiful background music to my incessant writing............

In Nice with Russel and Heather and me. Our first day together.

Below, Me at the Acropolis. Below that, Nick and Russel with their new "mini- hogs." For 3 dollars a day, we all rented them and toured the Island of Crete. Ah...................

I'm left this morning filling in the memories between the photos, and there are many. It was a growing, stretching time for all of us..........coming at a point in our lives when responsibilities were few and the future was looming. I look at it now as a transitional crossover coming of age trip.

Learning, stretching, loving, risking, meeting, sharing, laughing, singing, wondering and taking DEEP breaths to take it all in. Truly a big highlight in my life. Thank you Russel for finding me again, and for transporting me back to a bit of bliss....... OH........and thank you for teaching me the words to Waltzing Mathilda on the train from Rome to Brindisi, and all of those marvellous Aussie drinking games. Ouzo anyone?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Irish Eyes..........

It's St. Patrick's Day and I'm stuck thinking about a guy named Mulroney. Remember him? He was the Prime Minister who had the gall to stand up on a stage with opera singer Maureen Forrester, his wife Mila, and Ron and Nancy Reagan after the Shamrock Summit, and sing............

When Irish Eyes are Smiling...................

With a big ending...............hamming it up. Front and Centre. It was a Mulroney moment

There they were, the five of them standing in a row, dressed in fancy green duds looking united, enjoying each other's company. The ladies were all sparkly in their beaded gowns; the two men handsome in their tuxedos. Their Irish eyes were smiling. I remember thinking........gee, they look like they are having fun. No biggie.

oooooooooops..........silly was a biggie............or so the scathing media decided to portray it to be.

It was the beginning of the end of Mulroney, the guy who had just won the largest majority in the history of Canadian politics, the guy who finally ousted the Liberals, who stood up to patronage during the election debate, who charmed the country with his Irish roots charisma. Dead in the water in the eyes of the media. Consequently dead in the water in the eyes of many Canadians. All of a sudden, he was the guy who sang along with a "Neo-con" like Reagan, and was painted with the same brush.

It wasn't like Mulroney was seranading Reagan......he wasn't on his knees woooing the Knute man. He was just singing with him. I guess the hand holding of the five of them, and the comfort level exhibited was enough to send the media monkeys into a frenzy. They did their very best painting a picture of our Prime Minister acting like Chester the little excitable dog in that cartoon trying to gain the attention and respect of Spike the bulldog. Somehow, the negotiations on behalf of our business world, with our largest trading partner became a farce.....personalized to sway the masses that the only objective Mulroney had was a personal desire to sleep with a giant. The masses swallowed it whole.

And it started with Irish Eyes smiling............

It was also the beginning of a vocalization of disdain by Canadians towards American politics. Though it was always simmering under the surface, the supposedly blatant coupling with Reagan brought it to the surface. It was like a bubble of decorum had burst and out slagged vitriolic green puke a la Regan in the exorcist and it hasn't stopped flowing. Nasty.

In hindsight, I believe it was also the time that the MSM decided to jump on the opposition horse and lead. Mulroney NEVER had a honeymoon period with the press, and in fact the shortest honeymoon since then has been with Dion. Harper seems relatively unscathed by the MSM. Trudeau, who abhored the media, and wouldn't give them the time of day still manages from the grave to be the political poster boy...............why? I DO NOT KNOW......... Maybe the rule is that if you treat the media with disdain, with a don't give a shit attitude, they flee?

From that point on, it seems that the media has taken on this role, and has decided it is their right (or should I say left??) to BE the opposition................they've been pretty consistent since then, havent they??

Mulroney? He liked the spotlight.........still does I bet, but it's a snowstorm on a summer day when you see him, a powerful man who was our Prime Minister for 9 years ever being interviewed. Brian Mulroney loved the scrums, loved the interaction with the media. He was a self-confessed newsy addict. And yet, the media HATED him..........and did their very best to sway the masses. The masses loathed him. Still do. Heaven forbid someone brings up his name in a crowd of people. You'd get flogged and an earful of hate. You'd think that he did something heinously evil. He never did, and yet at the time, journalists were writing tripe comparing him to Hitler.

I saw a short interview last night with him and George Strombolopolous on his CBC show, and was once again pulled in by this man. Brian Mulroney is the person who stoked my interest in politics, who pulled me into the blue light of the Progressive Conservatives. His vision, his manner, his ideas at the time resonated with me. Having stated that, I think I'm probably the only person left besides his family who still likes the guy. As I watched the interview, and could see that he has obviously had time to reflect on his years running this country, I wondered how much his long illness last year affected the way he looks at the decisions he made. Has it humbled him more now, so that the pride he displayed didn't rankle others so much anymore? He seemed more humble, but who am I to be able to gauge that. I still like the guy. I'm a bit biased.

Would "history" be kinder to him than previously predicted? I hope so..........he deserves to be.

I also hope he BELTS out Irish Eyes every St. Patricks Day with a smile on his face.