Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fredericton flood watch is rising.

The river flows on it's own accord. We are in the middle of an emergency flooding, with expectation that the levels may even surpass the record high from 1973! With the rain from last night and the melting snow up in Northern New Brunswick, our river is swelling and spilling over fast. It's supposed to rise to a total of more than 8 metres expected sometime on Friday. If this happens, the downtown streets will become part of the river. There will be many millions of dollars in damage.
The media is swarming the place and there was a buzzing feeling downtown all owners, all levels of government, homeowners began bracing for the worst......emergency planning is in place........ Max and I went out and took some pics around dinner time. We found our trusty Mayor Brad Woodside being interviewed by CTV along the shore behind the Delta Hotel. Mayor Brad once had a riverboat which he ran in the summers as a touristy attraction. I think we could use that boat now, right your Worship?

I've included a few "Then and Now" pics to give you some perspective.......

The above photo was taken a week or so ago......below was tonight. By tomorrow, the whole parking lot will be flooded. They are expecting the water to spill out onto the downtown streets. My office has been evacuated as have many other buildings including the Legislature. The Beaverbrook Art Gallery and Hotel right next to this spot are already suffering from water damage. Power was cut in the government buildings at 7 pm tonight and the emergency fan out plan is in place.......people involved are on alert for massive evacuations etc.

I took the above photo in early March when the snow was you can see by the park bench! The walking bridge in the background? Check out the struts underneath.....with the flood waters rising, there is much less space between the river and the bridge. I was told tonight that the road on the other side of this walking bridge is closed.....and debris from a tire business is floating downriver.......

I took the above photo at the beginning of April when the snow was melting quickly. I love the reflection of the tree in the still water. The picture below was taken last weekend. No tree silouettes. I'll check out the same view tomorrow to see if these little trees are now completely submerged.

This is the entrance to the lighthouse, situated behind my old office building.

There were lots of onlookers out and about this evening. I captured this young ballplayer relaxing on a park bench which is located ON A HILL overlooking the baseball diamond. In the background is what is left of the back stop protecting homeplate. Looks like there will be no soccer or baseball on "the Green" for a bit. Canoeing has taken over.....
ps. My home is safely ensconced on a hill..........we are fine, and may be hosts to some friends who live in the downtown core.
Anne? Heather? You out there? If you guys end up having to bail out, there will be lobster and some of that "crazy cat" wine waiting for you....and you know the music here will always be excellent! Life can always be turned into a theme party can't it?

wordless wednesday.......les homards

nothing like some tasty gourmet bottom feeders
bring on the melted butter
don't forget the french white

Sunday, April 27, 2008

tonic for a clenched soul

He tells me his shoes are all scuffed from walking....Scuffed by the heaviness that make his knees ache under the burden and his arches throb from the extra weight.
All night long he lays on his side of the bed, his body taut in buzzing anxiety, clenched jaw, tense muscles...his unsettled heart fibrillating off beat....his racing thoughts invading any dream escape..."Indecision caused by too many to make," he says.

The bed....their now as comfortable as a concrete slab, unwelcoming in its reminder of what had been,and what lies ahead.
He can't think beyond immediacy and it hurts...from head to toe it hurts. When he awakes from a dreamless night,his whole body aches from restless wanderings, steeped grovellings of ungranted forgiveness. It takes every ounce of energy not to roll over to face the wall as he makes himself sit up to a wave of unwelcome bile brought on by realization that its over.

But, life still goes on despite the grief of his clenched soul. Work, bills, meetings, appointments, family, errands, responsibilities....listening to the drab complaints echoing all around him. There's no escaping the hum of a scuffed life.
"I have to maintain the grip," he says, "because if I let go even for a second I will fall off the ledge and break into a million pieces that wouldnt be fixable. It would be the end of me." So he holds on, hoping the nightmare will end.

Through the motions he scuffs off to work, his hands closed tightly and stuffed in his pockets. He walks against the bitterwind which makes his breathing short snip gasps that lacks in fresh air oxygen and shorts out his thinking, leaving him clouded in confusion. A clenched soul, stuck in the discomforting transition of change, numbed by too much real, feeling like if he lets go of the grip, he will be sucked into a vortex.
For some reason, he looks up from his cloud and sees two men, homeless and huddled under a ratty wool blanket leaning against the corner of the grey brick wall away from the entrance to the park. Their winter wool caps are moth eaten worn, and their faces haggard from a tangled hard life. He sees one of the men pull a worn old paper bag out of his jacket and take out a wrapped sandwich. Carefully the man unwraps it, and gives half to his friend to share. And as these two ragamuffin men sit in a moment of kindred serenity, oblivious to their surroundings, sharing the only food they have, the clenched souled man stops dead on the sidewalk. In a rush of awareness, he surrenders to his feelings and weeps as he realizes he is witnessing the true essence of spirituality......humanity in all its basic ordinary glory.

Tired and spent but now wide awake, he wipes his nose on his coat sleeve, inhales the biggest breath of needed air he has in a very long time and walks on towards the little chapel he passes everyday on his way to work. Though empty and silent, the chapel still beckons. He pulls open the heavy wooden door to find a stream of sunlight dappling through the stain glass and walks over to the pew bathed in the sun's rays. He sits quietly........alone..........silent, tears flowing. He unclenches his hands, and gently lays his fingers together, his palms touching........and looks up at the ceiling. With his face beaming in sunlight he whispers the words, "thank you."

making my eyes smile

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the music of laughter break through your soul.

As the wind wants to make everything dance,
May your gravity be lightened by grace.

Like the freedom of the monastery bell,
May clarity of mind make your eyes smile.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May a sense of irony give you perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May fear or worry never put you in chains.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the distance the laughter of God.

John O'Donahue

Having now heard several interviews, and watched a video of this man sharing his stories, poetry and touching perspectives, his voice is stored in my imagination. When I read this blessing this morning, I could hear John O'Donahue recite it....... like a smile "on the other side of what's said."
Food for the soul on a Sunday morning.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday night sunset

I just got back from taking my dog for a walk while taking a few pictures of tonight's artistry. We took our usual route, up the hill from my house and along a rural-ish road which has the most spectacular unobstructed views of both up and down river. Isn't it stunning?

I have a strong wish too that one day the old farmer who owns most of the land along this part of the road will knock on my door to let me know he would like to sell me a little patch to build a log home with a wrap around deck. I'd situate it quite close to where these pictures were taken, up a little higher on the hill. Every single time I walk this stretch, I picture myself living right there.

I never grow tired of living in this part of the world. Sure, there are times when I long for the pace and variety of the big city. I do miss the multicultural flavour of Toronto and the excitement of attending concerts and pro sports events. But then, I stop and look around at the realness of the landscape and the every evolving artwork in nature........... and my deep breaths fill my lungs with clean fresh goodness.

As well, I'm only 10 minutes (no rush hour) from my office........both schools my kids attend are close by. This allows me a chance to take part in the events at their schools without it being a time constraint issue. I couldn't do that living in Southern Ontario. Everything would be so much more weary producing, and no doubt I'd miss most of the important things my kids are involved in.

Last night my daughter Martha and I took Lily for a walk after the sun had completely gone to sleep. Our walk took us down our quiet street and up a path to a small field........initially our chatter consisted of sharing a few snippets from our individual days until we looked up into the sky from where we were standing in the little field. The whole sky was filled with stars............millions and millions of stars winking down on us. With very little artificial light around us, we could see even the tiny pinprick stars that would be lost from the view from a city. Views like that truly leave you whispering in awe.

Lucky and blessed, on so many levels. I loved sharing that quiet moment of grace with her. We stood there for a period of time oblivious to the cold night air, soaking in the canvas, whispering our acknowledgement of how lucky we really are. Who knows, maybe one day when she's having a tough day like we all do, Martha will channel her thinking back to one of these whispering awe moments to help anchor her back to where she belongs. I know I do.

feeling is believing

Wouldn't it be great if you could buy a product, like a bar of soap, that you could lather all over your body that would cleanse and coat you with the feeling of being understood? What if you could buy a lotion that you could rub onto your skin which would then seep into your pores with the message that your gifts matter? What would happen if the candle you were given to hold flickered a friendly message that your own personal light makes a difference? Can you imagine how it would feel if someone you regard highly walked right up to you and said...... "Do you realize how much I appreciate you?"

Sure it's best to be able to tell yourself these things, but in order to be able to do so, we have to hear it, see it, feel it, inhale it all around us or we don't even know HOW to believe in ourselves.

I spoke with a woman recently who spent many years in an abusive marriage. She was a brilliant reflective intuitive human being. I was so impressed with her demeanour as well as her eloquence. It seemed like she would be the LAST person stuck in a violent relationship but I've learned that outward appearances can be deceiving. And when it comes to covering up scars from the deep wounds of shame produced by being emotionally, physically and/or sexually violated by someone whom you had fallen in love with and who supposedly loves you, the mask worn in public is difficult to peel off.

This woman had been told for many years that she was ugly, fat, useless, stupid. She was told that no one would want her............she was unlovable, but good enough to keep for a screw every now and then......when he wanted.......when he commanded. Her husband told her that he felt sorry for her because she was so homely. She was told she wasn't allowed out of the house on her own............that he didn't want her family coming around because they were nosey liars who just used her anyway. He isolated her, and treated her like a slave. Not even her neighbours knew because this man she was married to was gregariously outgoing to them when they met on the street.

And she her home which was like a prison, and away from anyone who may have been a support. She stayed because somewhere along the line she began to believe him. She stayed because she was afraid of him. She stayed because she had lost touch with the people who mattered in her life and she felt all alone. She stayed because she thought no one would believe her. Fear, shame, guilt, anxiety........these were her feelings pulsating through her day after day. They ate up her self-image and spit out a belief that perhaps her husband was right. She was unlovable............a fat, ugly homely unlovable nobody. She believed this because she felt this.

One day, something snapped in a twig snapping deep inside a forest. She realized for the first time that she was slowly dying inside and it mattered to her. There was a dawning of an inherent desire to survive and in order to do so, she needed her freedom. Her inward feelings of self-loathing turned into an outward energy fueled by a new understanding that she mattered and that she wanted a second chance to thrive. A safe harbour was needed. It was then that she called the local Transition house for victims of abuse and they arranged to help get her out of there and into a safe haven.

Two months later, we meet. Her home for the next year or so is also in a supportive living arrangement, an apartment securely tucked away on an unassuming street in the city, unknown to even the neighbours that it is a safe house for victims of violence. Men are not allowed entry into the building. She is learning to believe in herself while surrounded by people who point out her gifts and her beauty. She laughed when she told me how one day recently she realized how much she liked her own company. A cleansing of sorts has most definately begun. Her own candle was relit by others around her who care.

Psychological damage rarely happens overnight. Rather its a subtle accumulation of collateral which eventually weighs a person down, wedges them into a corner until they call for help......if they are able to call for help. Of course, there are situations which register automatic anxiety and grief. That's much different than the type that wears and tears at the spirit through ongoing abuse. This woman will continue her psychological healing for the rest of her life, no doubt. She's aware of that. But she's also aware of the fact that she is empowered to seek out the feelings inside her which fuel her beliefs and understanding that she is beautiful both inside and out.

Life has begun again for her and she's not going to let it slip out of her own hands again. She has learned the power of her own mind. The light around her glowed with hope. Her light makes a big difference.

Friday, April 25, 2008

it's where the light comes in.....

Our own personal faults may remain dark caverns unchartered by our refusal to see them. Who wants to admit something about themselves that produces a feeling of shame over the imperfection? Who wants to love a pock marked blemish on our own character when all around us is a message that only beauty counts? Who wants to reveal a fault which when it is admitted to, completely alters our way of looking at ourselves..........and if it is revealed, how do you overcome the shameful ugliness of it?

You may have many mirrors in your home, but when was the last time you REALLY looked at yourself in one? Like me, do you just take a fleeting glance simply to make sure you don't have spinach in your teeth, or that your hair isn't sticking up like Alfalfa? It's a habit. I could be standing in front of the mirror for a good 20 mintues blow drying my hair, putting on my make up and brushing my teeth in the morning and still not REALLY look at me. I'd prefer to keep the picture I have of myself as a vibrant person in her early 20's than recognize that this was a long time ago. But who am I kidding? No one else sees me that way anymore and no one seems to shy away from me because i look the way i do, why would I continue not to look more deeply? I'm only fooling myself.

When I conciously have a looksee.........when I register the reflection of who I am now, a woman on the upper end of her 40's my initial reaction is one of shock. WHO is that person looking back at me? Where did that young woman go..........the one whose face was thinner and wrinkle free.........the one who used to have smaller perky breasts and not ones stretched by nursing two babies............the one without the stretch marks on her belly. When did her skin lose some of it's elasticity all over? And what's with the seemingly extra skin on the eyelids?

What about the faults found within? The scars and fissures..........we were born with or have collected during our struggles? Some of them as well are more visible to others than to ourselves and for the same reasons. We try so hard not to reveal to ourselves fully for fear of being rejected. We'd rather remain blind? Our fault lines, like the ones found under the surface of the earth, our gaping holes like the ones found in old apple trees leave us tremoring with the very idea that it may be the thing that turns off the people around us. What if they find out? Will they stop loving us? So, we keep ourselves in the dark.

In the dark......where light is absorbed.

There is still light in there. It's just busy being absorbed.

Our awareness of ourselves, of how we interact with the world around us increases as we get older, mostly because of the experiences we have accumulated along the way. This makes sense. The farther we skip, jump, run, walk, limp, crawl, roll down the path of life, we collect a whole bunch of things to put in our backpack. Though awareness is always sprinkled with enlightenment which accompanies learning, it sometimes isn't satisfying because, may be really ugly. It may be hard to swallow. In fact when you think about it there are many things in life that are hard to swallow....some bigger than others. The cracks, the fissures, the bumps, scars and scratches on the surface may not be as pretty or handsome as we want to be. Leonard Cohen, that craggy old beautiful man sings in his song Anthem:

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what has passed away
or what is yet to be.

He understood the importance of letting go and moving on. He also had the insight to realize that perhaps our very own fault lines werent just ornaments to wear or to try to hide in the closet. They have a purpose........

Ring the bells
that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Is this how His light can get into us? Perhaps we accumulate these experiential openings to let in God's love. Perhaps those same ugly marks where light is absorbed is the access God uses to fill us with truth of love? And if we feel this wildly unconditional love, will this not lead us to understanding the mystery? How beautiful is that?

Still, I wish I still had perky breasts.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fire up those Synapses!

The very idea of being up on a stage acting in a play makes my stomach do flips. I can't imagine staying "in character" performing in front of an audience. My daughter, who is much more introverted than I am absolutely loves the idea and has incorporated drama and theatre into her life with full enthusiasm. Last year, when she delivered a speech on child poverty for a school competition, she delivered it with her dramatic flair and ended up with second place for the whole school. Even though it was her delivering a serious speech, Martha performed it. This is where her comfort is found. Last spring, she performed in two plays and loved every minute of the process. Yesterday, she came home from the first day of theatre "camp" with a monologue to learn and to be performed at the end of the week. She was beyond excited.

If it was me? No way! You couldn't pay me enough to get up on stage and deliver a monologue. Throw me up at the front of a classroom to teach however, and I'm a happy camper. Ask anyone who loves to teach and they will tell you it's performance stuff, but there's a big difference and I guess this is where my comfort and confidence comes from.........its your own stuff you're performing. Both are genuinely delivered, but one is acting out a character and the other is performing as yourself. It's different personas and parts of one personality through a litany of emotions, but still flesh and bones me. It's real.

I was asked the other day by a new aquaintance, one who is a random conversationalist like moi, what it was about teaching that I loved so much. You'd think after all these years, I'd have some pat answer to give. I know I've answered it many times during job interviews, and I talk about teaching often. I've even delivered several "train the trainer" sessions.................coaching others to teach. So............what gives with the hesitation in the middle of a rambling conversation? Well, all of a sudden i felt flung into a reflection. Perhaps it was the way the question was asked.....the person really wanted to know rather than one of those frequently cast offs often found in idle chatter. This person wanted some sustenance.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

bring out the wellies...........

The Saint John river is rising and it hasn't crested yet. The ice from northern New Brunswick has broken up and is elevating the water levels downriver. Expectations are high that this flood may be a record one, and in fact the river has overflowed onto the old Trans Canada highway just past Fredericton. It's now closed until further notice and the homesteaders along that part of the valley, who cope most years with flooding, are on alert.

Max and I headed downtown late this afternoon to check it out and to take some pics to share. These are taken in the parking lot behind my old office building.........the walking trail as well as the little boat launch shed is under water.

This is a shot taken behind the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel. The water was lapping right over the outdoor patio and up to the back doors. Sandbags are piled up high along the back of the hotel, though I don't think they will help matters. Beside the hotel is the Beaverbrook Art Gallery......I'm sure they have moved many pieces out of there for safe storage. When the famous flood of 1973 hit this area, they had a great deal of damage. During that one, people were canoeing down Queen Street! The whole downtown core was under several feet of water. Though I've seen photos, I can't imagine it. And if it does happen again, my office will be seriously affected as it is located just across the street from this hotel.

This shot gives you an idea of how wide the river is...... .I'd say it's at least twice as wide as it normally is. The picture is deceiving too as the water looks murky but relatively calm when in fact it is moving quite quickly. There is a current pulling ice flows and logs and debris downriver at a fast clip. As Max and I walked along the shore, we talked of our appreciation for nature's strength and how respectful we must always be of it.

Our home is safely situated on a hill up high enough that flooding is never an issue with us. Perhaps tomorrow, I'll head down to the part of the river we look onto and take some pictures from there. The islands in the middle are completely submerged, with just the treetops visible. It's quite amazing. I think we actually made the national news. :)


i awoke this morning
to a wooing dawn song of the birds
standing in the dark ,
i looked out my window
to the other side of the river
by the floating luminal streetlights
all along its bank
reflections stretched out
like candle flames on the surface of the water
silent mercy in the sleeping calm

i thought i saw your face
your alluring smile almost within reach
quietly beckoning me
across the rippling light
to the safety on the other side

was it just a dream?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


She slips into him quietly with a soft sigh and holds his soul on a pillow of down. She rocks him as gently as unseen waves on a calm summer day. She surrounds him in a honeysuckle breeze, an aroma lightly touching his skin, quenching that inner aching thirst. She leaves him in her haven where desires melt into contentment, where sleep comes like a baby's, safely and soundly. Not a peep of discomfort can be heard as she pours herself into the nooks where worry dwells. As fleeting as she is, serenity is a welcome surrendering respite like the first sip of a perfect cup of tea.
Both make him smile......

Monday, April 21, 2008


A sense of entitlement describes the outrageous behaviour of an individual who believes they are better than others, and who believes they deserve preferential treatment. They are "owed," and they want their "payment" NOW. Nothing is good enough. Nothing lives up to their high weird and whacky standards. Whatever you try to do is not enough for them and even if it is, there is rarely a thank you, or recognition of the deed done. WHY? Because it was expected! Demanded! It was rightfully THEIRS!

Empathy is not in the cards. Instead, an "entitled" person believes that the whole wide world should bow down to them because they are so darn special. Don't you want to spend some time with one of these folks? Have you spent time with one of them? You'd know it, because you'd remember what it felt like......similar to hammering your finger over and over again..........similar to banging your head on the door 10 times until you realize there is no way of pleasing. It's an endless pit of demands and twisted rationale. It is the root of narcism.

Where does it come from? Why do some people make an art of this? How is it that there are some individuals who grow up to believe they truly are princesses or princes?

The development of entitlement, as I see it (and please jump in here anytime..........I certainly don't own the rights to this one!! :) ) has two distinct paths.......the Princess path, and the Pauper path.

The Princess path is lined with soft petal roses, whose thorns have been lovingly and carefully removed to avoid any prickly pain. Servants, as known as parents and other family members carry the princess down the path because they feel it necessary that she never roughen the bottoms of her sweet smelling pedicured feet. Whatever she wants, she gets. Whenever a dilemma happens in her life, it's fixed. Whoever she wants to be friends with, it's arranged. If a nasty troll disguised as a teacher or another authority figure makes an attempt to teach how to THINK for herself and be RESPONSIBLE for her own actions, the Parents come swooping down to lodge formal harrassment complaints.

Whatever she does, she gets applause. Whatever she gets into, she gets saved. Who needs to learn to think for yourself when you think you're better than everyone else?

By the time the Princess (and please insert Prince in here too), she is out of control and unable to figure out a more complicated life on her own. She doesn't have the life tools to be able to do so. As well, in the back of her mind, she is allowed to do anything because permissiveness was the choice of discipline all along. Drugs, sex, overspending, lack of focus in school, trips, and always THE best in's all a part of the entitled picture. It's a ME, ME, ME world............and there's no room for anyone else. Can you see how the whole idea of empathy is completely missed in the learning?

We are raising many princes and princess out there and we are giving them the keys to drive solo without the accompanying coping and critical thinking skills. Our society is creating a narcisstic group of individuals who have the inability to see others as equals.............they are getting away with treating others with complete disdain and disrespect. There is no respect for authority, nor anyone who may want to help. They are better than everyone, and NO one is more interesting than they are. They should have their own talk show.

The other side of the entitlement coin is the Pauper........ These tykes were often physically, emotionally and/or spiritually abandoned. They are always trying to please and to be heard and to chalk up the rewards they have missed growing up. Abandonment is a seriously debilitating way of being which impacts choices made in adulthood. More importantly, it etches out a series of inner turmoil which sinks someone into a sense of being unloved. The more unloved a person feels, the more their actions and behaviour cries out the need to be loved. Consequently, their journey, their path is littered with attempts at grasping for all wrong places and with all the wrong people. Their actions and thoughts turn them from human beings to human doings. Somewhere along that path, they have stepped into defining themselves as unloved and abandoned. They wear these labels on their sleeves.

Abandonment comes in many forms and is derived from different angles. A detachment from caregivers, alcoholism in the family, foster home hopping leading to late adoption, experiencing death early in life, trauma, abuse that wasn't recognized, acknowledged and dealt with by a trusting someone...... .......being told you were never wanted over and over and over again ..... .....always feeling like a misfit in one's own family..... .......inconsistency in messages given to you when you were young...........all of this feeds a sense of abandonment, which eventually leads to a sense of entitlement as a way of coping, and not coping well.

Heartbreak........too much of it makes one feel rejected and abandoned.

Revenge, anger, sometimes rage kicks in. Self mutilation, self hatred, self-destruction are key reactions. Confusion as to who they really are....... belief that they are so wounded and broken smears the landscape and soaks into their skin. Who could love them? What is real unconditional love? Their perspectives are skewed. Their abandonment feelings turn into painful shame. And shame, when it has permeated the soul is a strong virus to eradicate. It becomes a true self fulfilling up to the messages taken in as a kid.

Paupers turn to others to fulfill their need to be loved and their need to belong, but they have a tough time settling. Addictions is all the forms are rampant. Princesses are the same. Nothing is good enough for them though. What is interesting with both the Princesses and the Paupers is that even though they arrived at a point in their lives called adulthood from different paths, their behaviour looks the same. There may be different tactics, and different expectations, but their behaviour is the same.

Entitlement seems to be all pervasive these days...........or maybe I'm just seeing it more because I've been thinking about it and talking about it more often. I have no answers except to help the Princesses get their feet dirty and to help them learn to use their own brains and be confident that they can make sound decisions. They somehow need to be reprogrammed to realize that they have to rely on themselves (AND THAT THEY CAN!!), that real life doesn't have that knight in shining armour who will rescue. Maybe they need a chance to be thrown into the woods with a couple of matches and a sleeping bag for a bit............ :)

The Paupers?..........many of whom I meet as adults and I wonder if they are just too damaged to heal, or perhaps their behaviour has gone beyond the law? Sometimes, my approach is to see at least if the next generation can be lifted up and out of this stew? What I try to do it to help them become aware of what is affecting the decisions they make, and then encourage them to keep in touch, and to surround themselves with people who will support them in a healthy way. Long term counselling is needed here in order to help guide them into believing in themselves.....into really believing they are gifts from God. They have much to offer in this world of ours......if we can just help them overcome the overwhelming sense of uselessness.

As I think about it while I write this, our approach in helping these individuals may be the same They both need structure, rules, and acceptance. They both need to learn HOW to care for themselves and the importance of looking out for others. They need to hear other stories of other people who have triumphed over a sense of entitlement. They also BOTH need to know and understand the whole concept of unconditional love, because it seems as though with both the Princesses and the Paupers, there are nasty strings attached.

Check this song's the one which comes to mind.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

the fool

Day after day,
Alone on a hill,
The man with the foolish grin
is keeping perfectly still

But nobody wants to know him,
They can see that he's just a fool,
And he never gives an answer,

But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning 'round.

Well on the way,
Head in a cloud,
The man of a 1000 voices talking perfectly loud
But nobody ever hears him,
Or the sound he appears to make,
And he never seems to notice,

But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head,
the world spinning 'round.

And nobody seems to like him,
They can tell what he wants to do,
And he never shows his feelings,

But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning 'round.

Ever feel like the fool in the hill? It happens when resignation comes to visit.............after a long tiring try to be listened to, trying to be a good listener. TRYING to be a friend.
What is the message here? careful who you share with because sometimes when you feel like you can be the most vulnerable, by sharing some of your secrets with someone, it can slap you in the face with a stinging dose of reality? I don't know. I keep ending up on the hill feeling like a naked fool. I completely suck at dealing with being dismissed and ignored. It makes me feel very ugly to look at. It makes me feel sick to my stomach for fear that I have been rejected as a human being.
How about you? How does it make you feel?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday morning market routine

By far my favourite time during the week is early Saturday morning. I LOVE waking up knowing that a whole weekend is ahead of me, and knowing that the local Boyce Farmer's Market has been up and running for a couple of hours already. And I love getting there relatively early, before the onslaught of people. Today was no different. I pulled on my comfie clothes, grabbed my red fleecy poncho, slipped on my topsiders, grabbed my camera and cash and headed out the door without waking a soul in the house. I was there before 8 am..... in time to enjoy it all without the crowds.
Familiar faces who had taken the winter off were there with full energy as they prepared deliciously missed market goodies to eat right there or take home to the sleeping family. The political guys were there sitting at their chosen tables inside the market chatting away on the latest games and gaffaws of the legislature and of city hall and welcoming anyone to join them for coffee. I stopped for hellos and a quick catch up on the rumour mill updates, but carried on my way to pick up a few items...................feta cheese, fresh biscuits, a dozen eggs and some of Joey's Thai spring rolls and sweet potato slices.
Throughout my ramblings, I wondered if this place was about to be affected by the changes in the air, and hoped the changes would be to enhance rather than to eliminate.

This morning, the local paper ran a story about the potential sale of the Market. Turns out, the place has been appraised for WAY less than the published asking price. There's a big difference between 1.5 million dollars and 800 thousand! Rumours that the market was a money losing venture were breaks even. Wish I had the money................ the Board of Directors who have managed the market for years are throwing out pseudo-calming statements like how they won't sell it to some developer.....that it will always be the market. They can't guarantee that. No one can, unless it's clearly and legally written down as so.

Are discussions happening behind closed doors???....... it's too hot an issue for these talks NOT to be taking place.
Last fall, I jumped on an opportunity to spend a full morning working with a friend at a produce stall selling for a local farmer. Set up began at 5 am, well ahead of dawn's early light. This was when all of the vendors arrived, quietly pulling up their trailers and trucks laden with the last of the season's offerings. It was wonderful to see the comraderie of this community sipping coffee, chatting all the while laying out their goods for sale. It was very late in the season, and you could feel the tiredness of long days that had overlapped with one another from the first spring clearing. There was a sense of completion, along with the "thought full" forward looking of a long winter where no money would be coming into the coffers.

The whole experience, albeit a skin soaked one since the heavens opened up and it poured unrelenting rain down on us all morning, gave me a chance to see this community's market from a much different angle. It left me with sore muscles from hauling pumpkins and potatos, a ton of respect, and a stronger desire to support the hardworking people who are there every weekend, rain or snow or shine. It fed this inkling in me of wanting to be a part of this community whose lives were so different than my day to day life, who had a strong livelihood connection to a place I frequented as an escape. This was their reality. The market is a necessity.

I also thought about how many hours the artisans, flower growers, bakers, and cooks spend preparing for the handful of operating hours. Their dedication as well as their reliance on the market must be recognized as THE priority when the people behind closed doors are making their decisions. Families and individuals rely on this wonderful interactive place as an integral part of their lifework. I hope that the politicians and board members remember the faces of the human beings, the key players of this marvellous place frequented by many, many people every weekend, and take the time to know the stories and struggles behind what it takes to fill their tables and stalls.

I wish I had the money. I wish I could buy the place..................

Friday, April 18, 2008

our own composition.

A life fully lived is composed of a personal collection of seemingly ordinary moments which when pulled together create your own looping signature. It is the recognition upon reflection of the times when you have been touched by another's fingertips, and when you have reached out to hold the hand of another human being.

A life fully lived is felt in the deep breath of oxygen you inhale when you reach a milestone, accomplish a goal, stretch your capabilities, use your gifts to make this a better place to be. It is felt when the wind has been knocked right out of you as the swing you have been sitting on suddenly breaks and you land flat on your back with a thud.

It is seen in the glory of a new day, and heard in the weeping willow sorrow of heartbreak. It is the fresh effervescent essence of life's lemons after they have been squeezed with all your might. It's stored in the little things...........the twinkle of an eye, the wrinkle of a brow, the stubbed toe, the scraped knee, the salt left from a tear and in the smile of a friend carried in the memory of your soul.

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is "compose." For more symphonic pieces, check it out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's up for sale?

Close to the centre of my little city of Fredericton is a special place that opens it's wares every Saturday morning all year long.......Boyce Farmer's Market. Like many towns and cities, it is where people congregate to buy locally grown or locally created products. Farmers from up and down the valley rely on the Market to sell their goods to the crowds who make a point of starting their weekend at this downtown location since 1951 when the land was donated by Walter Boyce for this very purpose. Market vending has been going on in this city since the early 1800's in different locales all within walking distance of the present location. It has always been a key component of the best that Fredericton and the Saint John River Valley have to offer.

Boyce Farmer's Market is also the place where vendors test the waters with new products which include organically grown produce to fancy cupcakes to hemp clothing to jewelry and in fact this particular market is a perfect place to find out if your business plan is viable. Several small business have begun at a small stall over a stretch of Saturday mornings. Local authors, artisans, cheesemakers, knitters, and even jugglers are enthusiastic players that add richness to the fabric which continues to ensure that the farmers are the heart and soul, the raison d'etre of this community.

It is the historical touchstone of this community. It is the crossroads chosen by the residents that pulls together people from all corners of the area..............urban, rural, acadmic, blue collar, political,, artists, musicians, tourists, babies, families, entrepreneurs, students, kids, politicians. Arguably, it is THE year round tourist attraction in the city. The Boyce Market represents the merging of the Saint John River Valley in a way that nothing else does.
But, guess what? It's up for SALE!
It's no wonder that people around here are both worried and angry that there is a possibility of ruining such a remarkable historical establishment. Yesterday, York Development, owners and landlord of the Boyce Market, announced that they are planning to put the place up for sale. They are not interested anymore in managing the property as they have set their sites on the ever expanding possibilities in the nursing home "industry" now that the provincial government is opening up the $$ coffers to build more of them.

The City of Fredericton, presently in the throes of a municipal election has turned down the offer of being the first to bid on it. Not interested they have said.........they are into too many other projects right now to even consider it. So, it's going to be up for grabs for anyone with the cash. This piece of downtown property has the potential to be a KA-CHING goldmine for some real estate developer. For $1.5 million bucks, the humble buildings could easily be torn down in favour of a condo development with a blink of a greedy eye.

Granted the place sits idle most of the week, except for the odd event in the evening. It's used as a parking lot for civil servants from Monday to Friday which must bring in some money. From my vantage point I can't imagine the place brings in a truckload of money. So, why would anyone in their right mind fork out that much money when it would really only be considered a good deed? It has to be viable, but I believe it can be if dedicated people rallied to help develop a business plan to use the premises when it is not being utilized on Saturday mornings.

This is one issue which the people of this Valley can't sit back and allow someone else to take it on. Markets represent community........ ideally, they are an example of grassroots cooperative interactions. It's the basis for the very basics of economics. Everyone needs to take ownership, to speak out that this is an untouchable commodity........ priceless in value, necessary for our downtown core to retain any sense of vibrancy. Our elected officials, who are all up for re-election are being extremely myopic if they think that the only role for them would be to buy the place. Their role is to invite many key players to a planning meeting to LEAD this change in order to ensure our Market remains exactly where Walter Boyce wanted the very heart of our town.

Our Market needs to be tied into the BIG picture planning already in play. We need to look at HOW we can retain it's integrity while moving forward with viable ideas that would support it's vibrant vitality. This can't be left to a handful of people behind closed doors. This has to be an integrated community driven initiative that represents exactly what our Market represents......a pulling together of all the grassroot people from all facets of this community.
Game ON! I'm more than ready to get involved. I'm FULL of ideas! How about YOU?

wordless wednesday....peeling layers

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mabel Darby

Every time I have a chance to think about my upcoming trip to London, I automatically think about my Grandmother. She always enjoyed an adventure and never hesitated to either organize one for a bunch of seniors on a bus tour, or hop on a bus, plane, train on her own and go find one. She loved to have a friend with her, but it never seemed to stop her from forging ahead on her own. In fact, the last time she made the trek "across the pond" to the place that her Mother called "the old country," Mabel was around 80 years old and travelling solo. She did have a brother living there, but her intention was to purchase a rail pass and see the places she had always wanted to see but for some reason had never had the chance. This is exactly what she did. To learn about one of her endeavours on that trip, click here.
If my Grandmother were alive today, we would be celebrating her 96th birthday. Mabel loved a party..........loved any kind of celebration...........and loved having picture taken! In honour of her birthday, I have scanned a few pics to share. These photos, circa 1935, are classic shots of Mabel and her friends, many of whom were in her life ALL her life. They were a closeknit group living in Hamilton Ontario together, and remained in touch through all the trials and tribulations life threw at them.

I love this shot. They look kind of daring and carefree don't they? As far as Mabel was concerned, nothing was more important than her family and her friends.........especially her girlfriends.

This is a picture of Mabel and my Grandfather on their wedding day. I never met my Grandpa. Sadly and tragically, he passed away in his 40's when my Mom was only 9 years old. He was the love of their lives.

This is a photo of Mabel, my Grandfather and my Mom before my Uncle Johnny was born. I like this photo. Tonight when I was scanning it, and looking at a much larger image I was struck by how much my eyes are similar to my Grandpa and my Mom. I also see the resemblance connected to a couple of my nephews too. I had never noticed this before.

Mabel was a wonderful seamstress and in fact used to teach sewing at the local high school night classes. She had a creative flair in many areas and was always working on projects. This is a photo of her fancy outfit for Christmas, 1956.

This was taken when Mabel was in her early 80's, at my parent's cottage. She was fiercely independent and continued to drive her car until she moved into a retirement home at age 88.

A big birthday bash was planned and organized by my Mom for Mabel's 90th birthday and this picture was taken that day. She is posing with her little brother, my Great Uncle Chris. They always had a very close relationship, and I have always believed that it was partly because their personalities complimented one another, but also because when Uncle Chris was a young child, Mabel was very much a mother figure because of the circumstances in their home when they were growing up. Mabel was the one to step up to the plate to ensure everything ran smoothly......... and then when Mabel needed support after my Grandpa died, her brother Chris stepped in to help in anyway he could. They were constants in each other's lives. Always. It was my Uncle Chris who gave my Mom away on her wedding day too. And, it was Uncle Chris and his wife, my Auntie Helen who cared for me when I was a toddler when my Mom went to work. I look at this one particular picture and it conjures up so many family memories and ties that bind to me and my own family today.
I wish she was here today so I could share with her my excitement about my own upcoming adventure to England. Not only would she be full of suggestions and questions, she would pass on her lifelong advice.............don't forget to look up and around and take it all in. Then, she'd hound me about coming along! However, I know she will most definately be there in spirit, and I will most definately be yearning to ask her some questions I'm sure she has answered before but for some reason I was too pre-occupied to fully take it in at the time.
Today, I have been flooded with memories, of the events we shared and some of the talks we had over the phone.........with me living here in New Brunswick and she living in Ontario. What always came through loud and clear was her ongoing love of learning, which most likely fed her desire to travel on the road less travelled and to take along anyone willing to keep up with her. You just had to be prepared to sing off key, drink strong cups of tea, stop to smell the roses, and be open to befriending a stranger..............oh, and to look up and around.