I have no idea how I did it, but as you can see, the blog layout is a mess. Since I don't know what should be the correct HTML, I ask your patience--this may not be reparable. In the meantime, go to My temporary/permanent new blog, Red Wine and Garlic.
it is quiet. Not that the unexpected or the unhappy or the expected and the happy have happened. It's just that right now this minute, it's very quiet.
Among the learnings/revelations/developments in the last while is that I am working at a job, 90% of which is a cluster of tasks, the nature of which I am not at all suited to. By way of personality, learning disability and nature, I ought not to be doing what I am doing here--however, I am here, and until retirement in a few years, I will be working against my nature to fulfill the job requirements. Now, the remaining 10% is a very large 10%--it involves working with people, helping them cope and get on with their lives. It also involves finding creative ways to enhance their lives and skills. The 10% is holy work--the 90% is necessary work so that the 10% can take place.
I have been spending some spare time (there isn't really a lot of that) editing my novel, The Demon Dragonfly and the Burning Wheel, for publication in late fall. It is very pleasing, 10%- type work, and a sequel to this novel has already begun and is already going in a direction I did not at all expect.
This morning, another unexpected development. My colleague, who is a talented visual artist and whose drawings grace this blog elsewhere, told me out of the clear blue sky that he is going to help me with my book. In other words, when I send him the completed ms., he will make some illustrations for it. He had already graciously (he's a very busy guy) offered to do a cover illustration, but this goes way beyond just a cover. It brings TDD&TBW into a graphic novel (as in illustrated text novel), and will make the work a lot more salable. For his part, he wants to get his art career moving again--this will help, too. See us both at the launch.
My colleague actually made this novel possible. Back when I was trying to write a piece of serious literature (I may still complete that project), I got into several conversations with my colleague about writing, art, graphic novels, comics, etc. A particular character of his intrigued me, so I wrote up some bits for fun, a pastiche of incidents or sayings the character had. Next thing I knew, I had a story idea and a first paragraph of what I thought might become a comic, set in 1936 Port Arthur, Ontario. So while the serious piece stayed where it was, a novella appeared.
Now, after some good help from a writer friend, the Demon Dragonfly project is nearly written and edited. I hope to go through Lulu, if Amazon hasn't bullied it out of existence by now. This is very exciting--it is a project in which I am personally invested, a labour of love, though of course a few dollars out of it won't hurt at all, either.
Speke, the hardbitten down-on-his-luck First World War veteran protagonist of my novel The Demon Dragonfly and the Burning Wheel, as rendered by Marco Maccadanza. I tend to visualize Speke as a sort of Bogart, but Marco has captured something utterly different here; it's a brilliantly accurate rendering of Speke. NB: Copyright, All Rights reserved.
Simple ballpoint pen sketch of one of the characters in my short novel, The Demon Dragonfly and the Burning Wheel. My friend and colleague Marco graciously made this sketch from the opening paragraph of the piece. I pictured Micah as pretty much ancient, but Marco caught his sightless eye perfectly. NB: Copyright, All Rights Reserved
How I get through meetings. This wasn't such a bad meeting, really, but I was intrigued by the facial expressions of the ASL interpreter, whom I sat next to. As usual, several tries before a beginning at a picture. Couldn't get her eloquent hands, though.
Says it all. This time, in church. I still struggle with proportions and relationships, but I am getting some details right that I didn't before. Also starting to get the effects of aging on our faces.
I borrowed this image from my daughter Gish, who calls herself Abstract Magdalene in the blogsphere.
It's a good image for my workplace program: not long ago, I learned that through a clerical error, my program is overspent for the year, and likely will have to limp along on next to nothing until the new fiscal year in 2009. One of the first casualties of this is our students' coffee.
After a week with no coffee (we still have tea!), the students asked me about the situation, so I told them. Later, privately, one of my students told me quietly that there was coffee no one was using at his home, and he could bring that, if that was OK. I thanked him, told him it was very OK. He lives in one of those legal slums called a rooming house, has had two of the roughest years anyone can imagine, yet has tenaciously held on and kept coming in to do his literacy work.
Yesterday, yet another announcement for the students who had missed the first one. Again, another student called me over and told me quietly that he had some coffee at home he didn't know what to do with--was it OK if he brought it in?
I was touched to my core.
Both of these men are among those demonized by our social policy and governments, and both have next to nothing to share, but what little they have, they are willing to share with their fellow students. They have lived lives difficult beyond any of our imaginings, but there they are.
We'll have coffee, now, for those difficult mornings when people barely make it in, at least for the next two weeks.
If you have been trying to comment in my blog and have been blocked, it is because I tried to eliminate "anonymous" commenters. They make me nervous. However, as Marja-Leena pointed out, this also blocks people I'd like to have commenting, so I've changed the settings back--c'mon in!
Sheba's really a winter dog. Born in December, her first memories are of winter and snow. Every winter, she thoroughly enjoys a good snow bath (lying on her back and happily gyrating) and occasionally has a quick drink by eating a snootful of the white stuff.
Now, the snow is reduced to a few square metres here and there. She can barely find a place to drink some snow, let alone have a last snow bath.
But all is not lost. She is, after all, a Labrador mix, and summer means...swimming!!
A downy feather drifted a metre or so away in the periphery of my vision: when another floated by, I looked up, wondering. A few metres above me in a maple tree, a small songbird was clamped between the upper and lower beak of a raven. I think it was dead, the songbird. At least, I hope it was. The raven was in no hurry.
Many years ago, as a young teen, I saw our dog, Suzie, give birth to a clutch of pups. I forget how many, but the last one was born with curiously bowed legs, and a listless disposition compared to that of the ravenous, energetic blind little siblings that homed in on Suzie's teats for their drink. My father scooped up the little one with a muttered word, and disappeared into the garage. I never saw the pup again. Suzie nursed the remaining pups until they grew to the point where she couldn't be bothered, it seemed. They went to different homes and I never saw them again, although Suzie stayed with us a long time.
My father told me later that the runt of the litter was often like the one he took away--deformed, unable to grow to look after itself. The only thing to do was to kill it (did he use that word?) then and there.
Many years later, as a husband and a father, I woke up in a cottage (camp) we had rented, to find that our dog, Sheba, had killed a mouse. A little while later, she cornered another one, and, after gingerly picking it up in her mouth, she gently dropped it on the floor of the house's living room. As the mouse scurried frantically around, trying to escape, she batted it with her paw. It seemed more like a matter of curiosity to her than predatory instinct--she might well have behaved the same way with a mechanical mouse. However, she did not know her own strength, and soon broke the little creature's back. It dragged itself desperately around in circles, its hindquarters useless. I snatched the mouse up in my hand, took it outside, and killed it as quickly as I could. I had become my father, in a way, in the presence of death.
This morning, years later, Joyce and I took Sheba to her vet's appointment. Sheba is the dog equivalent of 56 years old, a little stiff in the joints of a morning, but otherwise vigourous, curious, alert, playful. She is, we are pleased to say, healthy for her age. As we went to pay for the appointment and the meds refills, I happened to glance upward level, behind the cashier. On a shelf against the wall was a small cluster of vases, very much like funerary urns, glazed, formal, rather tacky. Among them was a dog-shaped one with a detachable tail and an embossed legend "Beloved Pet". They were funerary urns, for the ashes of cremated pets. Suddenly, in the midst of proferring our credit card, I felt a welling up of feeling. My eyes brimmed. I faced Sheba's inevitable death and the grieving emptiness that will follow.
To celebrate her good health and to make some amends for taking her to the place she so fears, Joyce and I took Sheba to Boulevard Lake park for a walk. She loves this, and was happily walking and sniffing as her humans strolled along the paved pathway. Sheba kept stopping, looking askance to her left into the trees. When we looked, we couldn't see anything, although a squadron of ravens was noisily complaining therein.
Then, we looked up.
Eagles, two of them, riding the thermals upward in slow casual circles. These comprised the reason for the ravens' complaints. I gave silent thanks as we watched the eagles soar around and upward and away.
The cliche about death being a part of life is simply unadorned truth itself. There. Always. This morning, I knew in an instant that having a handful of ashes in an urn on a shelf is not the same thing as feeling Sheba's silky coat, or hearing her bark, or walking her twice a day. This any more than a jarful of ashes would be the same thing as my wife's smile, her eyes, her embrace, her caring, if she should predecease me.
I can see those eagles again, even now, in my memory. And what I will have of Sheba, certainly, is a thousand memories. There will be no urn. Instead, for the deaths I have witnessed and grieved, and for the life and joys additionally, memories like a series of strung beads.
The sun was a fan dancer this morning, I thought. A fan dancer whose body was not sinuous flesh under dozens or hundreds of pairs of male eyes, but pure light, coquettishly dancing behind gauzy clouds, now to emerge, then to hide once more. Never quite revealing herself. Of course, I'm rehearsing these lines for inclusion in something, probably the novella which I have rashly promised myself and a few others to have published by this fall. These are lines the protagonist would likely say, at least to himself. In a morning, perhaps, or on a day in which he has other things on his mind.
Anyway, the dog has now got to the point where, by the time you read this, she is being lifted into a tub of warmish water for a bath. She endures baths, although she loves swimming. Is it the soap, I wonder? Or the weird, slippery, unyielding surface of the bathtub? In any case, she has a winter's worth of sweat and grime and stinky backside and dander to be washed away. She will endure coming out smelling all wrong (to her), unnatural, strange, indeed reeking. She'll be right, but we won't argue. Humans tend to prefer dogs smelling like flowers, because "dog smell" pervades a house with all the perniciousness of male cat spray--fortunately, dog smell can be washed or wiped away...
A friend of Em had a recent birthday. While visiting here, Em's friend was reading through a book. I have fast eyes when it comes to titles, etc., and made out the words "Charles Bukowski". I was interested. Her friend let me look more closely at the book, which turns out to be a collection of the late Charles Bukowski's poetry: at this point, the title escapes me--it could be any one of dozens. It turns out that this was Em's birthday present to her friend. Now, if Charles's name resonates with you and you are a parent, you may well have some understanding of the following questions on which I have spent perhaps a minute and a half musing: how is it that my 16-year-old daughter knew about Charles Bukowski? Probably the same way she discovered Federico Fellini's "8 1/2", a copy of which lay around the living room for several weeks. Corollary question: what else and who else does she know about? Probably plenty. The good news is, I can introduce her to the brilliant Giulietta Masina, Fellini's muse, stellar actor, wife and eventually widow. No parent can afford to disdain a point of contact with a teenaged offspring (!).
My brain is covered in sawdust. My ears have concrete dust in them. At work, I moved my students into the adjacent hall when the electricians came on Friday to change our classroom lighting. This was the day after the carpenter came in to change the way our computer lab is arranged. A lot of noise and dust. My students are very patient, bless them. New computers, old room. New paint job, eventually, too.
It is time to wander around again, now that the frozen water is now flowing again. The creek has been a dumping ground all winter, it seems: I counted 9 items snagged on a branch, the other day. Across the street, our neighbour has a dog who is often tied up out front. I take Sheba over now and again, and before our neighbour's dog can get territorial, I start giving them both dog biscuits for treats. Each one is assured that she gets a treat, and everyone is happy. Of course, I make sure they "sit" first--dog humans are such martinets, really. It happens that our neighbour's lawn is beside a retaining wall, and when I visit the dog in question, she is above me as I usually approach from the next door driveway. As the snow melts, she has lowered, to where now her face is almost level with mine. Today, she wouldn't "sit". As it happens, all the snow has melted and the lawn is visible. So is a whole winter's worth of dogshit: everywhere. Dogs are actually very fastidious creatures (except when it comes to eating; then they are absolute slobs), and this dog could not bring herself to sit in her own feces. I gave her her biscuits, anyway.
That's all the news from Lake Hereandgone, where the women and men are women and men and the children sit around making up their minds as to what to have for supper besides broccoli.
There are many ways to spend a Sunday afternoon if you aren't at your workplace, and I chose to take in a screening of Persepolis, the animated tale of a young girl, then woman, growing up in Iran from the end of Shah Pahlavi's regime through the the ensuing Islamic revolution and the Iran-Iraq war.
I had read the autobiographical graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi some time ago, and when I heard that they would become a film, I was intrigued. What I saw on the screen was mind-blowing. What in fact happened was that between Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, the original primitively-drawn comics of the graphic novel leaped to life in a vigourous, new way. "Brilliant" is too mild a term for it. At the same time, it is a dark, deeply sad yet uplifting tale of oppression, struggle, defeat and eventually, a form of victory.
Having read the books, I wondered what would be left in and what left out, in the film. In particular, I was watching for the appearance of one particular character. He is not named nor is his face shown, and all we know of him is that he is a mullah who Satrapi as a young woman encountered twice in her life. She describes him tellingly as "a true religious man".
In the first instance, he is her ideological test interviewer for admission into college to take graphic arts. After fruitlessly trying to learn the tenets of Islam, the Qu'ran, etc., she despaired, and ended up praying for help. On the day of the test, he asks her if, while she lived Austria, she wore her veil (actually, head scarf). No, she replies, mordantly joking that if God didn't like women's hair, why not make them all bald in the first place. Did she know how to pray? No, because she didn't know Arabic, and besides, she felt that praying to God in Farsi was adequate. She quotes the Prophet Mohammed that 'God is closer to us than our jugular veins,' adding that it meant to her that, no matter what language we speak, God is always with us.
Dismissed from the interview, she walks dejectedly home, cursing herself for not keeping her big mouth shut. To her astonishment, she is accepted into the college. Later, she learns that the mullah had greatly appreciated her honesty, and ventured that she was probably the only interviewee who told him the truth.
The second instance came after her standing up to the college administration's attempt to rationalize strictness of morals (i.e: women are covered head to foot but men wear what they wish). She ably tears their arguments to shreds in a very public manner and is summoned before the Islamic Commission as a result. Her "executioner' was none other than the same mullah, who tells her: "Always saying what you think...It's good! You're honest, but you are lost." After a short and pleasant interview, he tells her he will give her a second chance: no expulsion, but she must design a school uniform that would be adapted to the needs of the students, but "nothing extravagant". She eventually comes up with a much more humane uniform that the previous one, and it is a win-win situation.
I'm impressed by that mullah and by his profound understanding of the spirit of the law over and above the literalist, deadening letter of the law. I am warmed by his perception of the religious life and its ethical dimensions. And given Marjane's mordant portrayal of the various villains in her books and film (not least of which is the Islamist revolutionary government), her compliment of this particular mullah carries a lot of weight.
I'm sorry he never graced the film, but maybe it's for the best. After all, despite Satrapi's care not to reveal much about him, maybe he can be discovered through the pages of the novel and harmed. I hope not.
PS: I saw the French language version with subtitles. This is a format I vastly prefer to dubbed English-language versions. Meaning no disrespect to Gena Rowlands and Iggy Pop (in the English language versions), I much prefer hearing the French language in which the original Persepolis was written.
Besides, the English subtitles were hilarious, especially the lines of Satrapi's grandmother, voiced by the awesome Danielle Darrieux. Imagine a teenager, who went away as a girl, being greeted by her grandmother with the words, "You've grown! You're up to God's balls, now!" Or, commenting on the Revolutionary Guards, "They're just insecure about their little dicks!" I would be willing to bet that the English language dubs were toned down considerably.
Further, the grandmother acts as Marjane's moral compass. When Marjane gets herself out of a sticky situation by implicating an innocent man (and getting him arrested or worse), the grandmother gives her a tongue-lashing. "Did (your uncle) die in prison for this?" she demands of Marjane.
In another scene, when the young Marjane, lying in her grandma's arms, asks her how she keeps her breasts so soft and rounded, the grandma replies that she "soaks them for ten minutes every day in ice water." The loudest laughs were from the women in the audience. The granmother is an unseen but powerful presence at both the beginning and ending of the film. I think that Marjane Satrapi has created a truly immortal character here.
I hadn't counted on being alone. But Em had planned clubbing with her friends and Joyce reminded me that she was going to the symphony Pops concert tonight, so, after walking the dog and cleaning up after supper, I was by myself when 8 o'clock struck. As I went around shutting things off and lowering the thermostat, I noticed the messages light blinking on the phone answering machine. One of them was from my second daughter, Gish, who asked me to phone back.
So, as the twilight slowly dimmed to darkness, Gish and I talked about her forthcoming journey to a remote Nunavut village where she will be a social worker, about figuring out packing, and about the program Lost, which I have hardly seen at all (perhaps 10 minutes om the entire run). Around quarter to the hour, we rung off, I think each hoping we had communicated honestly and I stood up in a dark house.
We have several oil lamps in our house, left overs from nearly 15 years ago (or more) when we found ourselves without hydro and with these lamps someone hadn't the heart to throw away. They're antiques and no doubt worth something. Whatever, two of them are fully serviceable and had some lamp oil in them, so I lit them up (remembering to clean the chimney of the second one before I lit it!), cranked the wicks as high as I could and sat down to read Paul Theroux's Riding the Iron Rooster by lamp light.
Lamp light is harsh, yellowy affair. I spent close to three years by lamplight in an intentional community among whose tenets was not using electricity, many years ago. I remember that yellowy light well.
I also remember my first experiences without electricity when, as a way-too-young man, I left home to work as a teacher on James Bay. During the year I spent there, electricity was at best an unreliable commodity and many a time, we spent days with oil lamps and candles and cooked with wood heat.
I remember a woman missionary who was spending an evening companionably with a Hudson's Bay factor's family, me, and someone else. She was painting a paint-by-number scene by propane lamp. I remember her concentration, her apparent calm, the hiss of the lamp, its blinding white luminosity if you stared at the cheesecloth mantle. She later had a nervous breakdown and had to leave the area.
Another time, I was given hospitality by a tough Scots trader who had made his home in the area for decades. In my bedroom, an oil lamp was burning. After preparing for bed, I blew out the lamp flame for reasons of economy. Next morning, my host gently admonished me for doing so: the lamp helped the room stay warm enough to be comfortable.
The lamps, propane and oil, put me in touch with my own fears, of the unreliability of the utilities we take for granted, the fragility of the systems we depend on.
Later, on moving to the intentional community, I became reacquainted with oil lamps and wood heat and hauled water, but arguably it was my idea this time. I wrote and read and put the children to bed by oil lamp light.
At one point, I discovered the marvelous but cranky Alladin mantle lamps, oil lamps that behave like propane lamps through an ingenious mantle arrangement. Alladins need wick tuning all the time, lest they start belching carbony smoke into the room, but boy, are they bright when they work. I had forgotten what white light looked like.
I remember washing the glass chimneys of the lamps about every week or so, buying the lamp oil (a sort of low-grade kerosene), and trimming the wick every so often. The smell of the lamp oil in everything.
When we lived in Manitoba, a relationship and a lifetime later, the power went out in a big snowstorm. We bundled up and I lit the lamps, even in daylight. They helped keep the room warm as the trader said. Later, in Nipigon, Ontario, we found a clutch of oil lamps disused in the basement of the house. Acting on a deep instinct, I asked permission to keep them, and got it--they were going to be thrown out, anyway. They're here, now, in our new home.
Tonight, I was able to light two of them, and for a short while, be less a part of the problem that led to the creation of Earth Hour.
It has been nearly two weeks since the workplace episode that tilted things for me, and I am grateful for several things: my wife, who is very understanding but who can help me see a bigger picture than I am sometimes capable of at a given (stressed) moment; workplace colleagues who have "been there", my umbrella group which offered some fine advice, and the online prayer community--most of you, in fact.
In the last little while, I have made several discoveries, mostly of the spirit: one is that life goes on around me, including bright sunny days and soft breezes and sudden, unexpected splashes of beauty. I realized that I can let the episode colour everything into a screamy gray (I have a a history of this) or I can accept God's little gifts of Grace. I accept.
Another is that for some reason, rather than be creatively crippled by something like this, I can respond with extra productivity. In that period of time since, I finished a book project (an anthology of biographies, three of which are mine)--watch for the announcement of publication this fall. Also in that time, a fiction novella ms. I'd sent off to a gentle-but-firm reader friend came back with glowing comments and fine suggestions, and I have resolved to publish the novella this fall as well--my artist work colleague has volunteered to produce cover art: bonus!
Yet another is a greater appreciation of my family, extended and close.
I have learned that I don't have to like someone to work with them, but I do need to trust them. This will be a challenge as trust was what took a major hit in the aforementioned episode, but every day I stay at the work is a victory, and I can put my head down and keep working and keep quietly out of certain people's way, while being civil and polite when I have to deal with them. Again, speaking of small gifts, is the realization that there are politics at my workplace, and why should I necessarily be immune to them? Just roll with it.
Spring is most definitely coming. The solstice is past. The snow is melting more than it is staying.
That's not all the news from Lake Hereandgone, but a good chunk of it. Be well, and be gentle.
I wasn't going to go to the service this morning. Every year, the hardest struggle in my faith is with many of the Easter assumptions and while I respect those who embrace them, I can't take those tenets on for myself.
Joyce didn't ask me to go, although she had a part to play, among seven clergy and lay presiders who were going to give short (hopefully) meditations on the seven final sayings of Jesus while he was being executed.
But I learned that one of the presiders is a recent new adherent from another denomination. I thought, this is a good reason to go, to hear this man who has embraced the UCCAN and an Affirming congregation, and to see him participating in one of the holiest times in the Christian calendar. Joyce was pleasantly surprised to have my company.
As it happened, I had only two disturbed moments in the whole service. The first one was during the sermon (one of the longest) by the first presider, who was clearly into substitutionary atonement, and who in his zeal opined that if the soldier who was about to drive the nail into Jesus's hands stopped his work, Jesus would have grabbed the mallet himself to finish the job. Jesus was there to die for our sins, no matter what. I understand enthusiasm and getting carried away--been there, still do that. But that's off the wall, friends.
The second occured during the sermon of the last presider, who told of the Jews having two differing versions of a Messiah: the kingly warrior hero, and the suffering servant. "But the Jews never put these two together," this chap stated. "Nowhere in Jewish theology will you find that." Christians, he opined, have put these two visions together and he strongly implied that this has superseded the limited Judaic messianic view. I cringed.
But there were many more things that rescued the experience for me, and gave it a rich meaning to take away.
The first was Joyce, who deliberately created a good but short meditation (about 3 minutes), with at least that amount and a bit of contemplative quiet time to consider the words. I was proud of her--eschet chayil.
The second was from Susan, who blogs here elsewhere, who quoted Tolkien's second volume of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, where Sam Gamgee shores up the failing faith of Frodo during a particularly difficult time in their journey. Sam's words were worth the ticket price.
The third was from Randy, another minister, who quoted from the Bhagavad Gita in a masterful way, adding a profound dimension of a different, though parallel vision of holiness to the Christian service.
And the man who formed the reason for my going spoke well, and gave good insight into the final sentence of Jesus: Into your hands I commit my spirit. I marveled at how someone from a different faith tradition has embraced and fit in and is contributing to his chosen new spiritual home. He adds much to it, and we are blessed to have him as one of us. Joyce told me later that in the vestry afterward, he remarked that this was one of the best Good Friday services he'd ever attended.
"But where do you make decisions?" This apocryphal quote from a Finnish diplomat being shown around the Kremlin, upon asking his Russian hosts where the sauna was, and being told there wasn't one.
I know what he means.
At long last, we have fired up our sauna. Warned by the instruction sheet that the first time we used the stove and rocks, there would be a lot of fumes, we kept the little window open. The fumes were bad, all right. And there are a thousand little things you have to remember in taking a sauna (which is pronounced to rhyme with "how-na", not "wanna")--a plastic or wood container for water, water resistant footwear, a ladle, towels, the clothes for before and after, and in our case, getting used to the stove. I spent 15 minutes loading the stove with rocks beforehand, a task which also has its "just so" component.
When finally an hour had gone by during which the stove heated the room and the rocks, we left our clothing outside on the bench and tiptoed in--tiptoed because we didn't have the footwear and the concrete floor is cold. The sauna light is one of those outdoor fixtures set below and behind the sitting benches. It casts a warm light from behind us as we sit. We're brave the first time: we sit on the uppermost bench, where the heat will be strongest.
The thermometer tells us we are at about 70 degrees celsius, which is western sauna temperature (meaning western Finland and Sweden, or not so hot; the farther east you go in Finland, the hotter the saunas). It is plenty warm, however. We bask quietly, wondering at how the bare concrete basement has yielded up, in seven months, this marvel of an experience. We throw on the water after awhile, which means two things: the temperature jacks up quickly, and there is less air to breathe (caution!). We sweat now quite a bit.
Before we take a fast breather in the hallway, we relax into the heat, the peace, the semi-darkness. It is simple truth that your cares go away, that you mellow into a relaxed stance that, once you've showered and dried off, becomes a profoundly beautiful fatigue and a good sleep in the offing.
We have twice used the sauna over a three-day period, and it gets better each time. I left my cares in the sauna.
My second daughter (birth order, that is), has accepted a position in Nunavut to work with children and families. It's a very courageous movefor her, and I hope it will succeed. I am proud of you, Gish!
Our niece Nicole visited on her way to Regina this weekend, where she will start a Masters degree in Chemistry in the fall. It was a delightful visit.
Took Sheba out to her favourite walking haunt, Boulevard Lake yesterday. On impulse, stopped in at some friends' and invited them to walk with us. They did and we did and Sheba was happily human-surrounded for an hour.
Finished first draft on all of my segments of the Museum project book. In the fall, a series of biographies of locals who have made an impact will be published, and I have submitted three segments.
Thank you all for your birthday wishes. Now I ask for your prayers. Some major things have erupted at my workplace, and I find myself "pondering my options".
The day before my birthday, I had a very difficult meeting. I felt blindsided and disrespected in a profound way and worse, there was every evidence that this sort of treatment might well recur--in fact, be the new gold standard of relationship.
After a poor night's sleep, I woke up 60 years of age. In the morning, the usual routine: a responsive poemlet online, a short b'day announcement and some saying hello to fellow bloggers. At work, I placed a phone call in the morning to my umbrella group, the group with whom I spent a training weekend recently in Toronto--they are a lifeline, a supportive community. I was given some very, very good advice, which I followed. It felt a lot better afterward, but I still had the sense that this whole thing is far from over.
It was to be a long day at work: owing to a yearly event my workplace puts on, I was not to finish work before 9 that night. I felt about as festive as a piece of rock. But very humanly angry and rather feisty, which can take one a certain distance, done right.
I'm of pensionable age. It would take one month of earning no wages and then application. Wouldn't be much and it would take some juggling to live on this, but not an impossibility.
I had given my word to work the event and, after working the day, hitched a ride with a colleague and helped out at the event. My heart was not in it: I felt "dark".
At 7:30 PM, I asked Joyce if she was ready to go home. She was, and we went. Many times over this weekend, I have mentally rehearsed a conversation that is inevitable within the next couple of days. It may result in a new life situation: retirement. It may not, but my trust and sense of belonging have taken a profound beating in the last few days, and they are not easily recovered. Maybe the "r" word is simply deferred for a short period of time.
I will have a five-day weekend over Easter. Palm Sunday/Easter are the two most difficult days for me in my faith path, involving as they do theologies and belief sets that I can't accept. Today, at Palm Sunday, I still felt as festive as a piece of rock, but was part of everything--I sang things I don't accept and sang things I do. There is a balance, there, somewhere.
Frankly, whatever the season, I needed that community of prayer and belief. I needed the shared brokenness and understanding of forces greater than ourselves, and acknowledging of darkness afoot.
This Easter, I will be either pondering my options in depth, or preparing for a sudden retirement. What complicates matters incredibly is that this is year-end (fiscal), and many things hang in the balance, things about to be put together and started up. Some wonderful new beginnings are possible. I am needed there in the worst way, and I hate to bail in the midst of the busiest season of the year. But there are things I can live with, and things I can't. Either way, it's a struggle.