Friday, April 30, 2010

Good Night Mary Ellen

It is just past dusk as I type and I can hear the last of the birds singing in the trees. I think of them as being one big family like The Waltons and saying goodnight to each other through the branches. In the time it took me to type that they have all gone silent. I wonder if the occasional chirping I'm hearing is one of them telling their mother that they are thirsty or have to go pee or one of a gazillion things little ones can think up to stall having to snuggle up to the dark.

Dearest one and I met in town to go grocery shopping. It is a simple pleasure we like to do together when we can. I hadn't been out of the house since I came home sick from work on Monday and it felt good to get in the car and go somewhere. We went out for lunch afterwards and then he went home and I went to the office. It was Friday afternoon so everyone had gone home early. The rest of our building is being taken over by the public for the next 6 weeks which means I have to work behind a locked door for the duration. I am interested in seeing how the imagined working out of it all is going to look like in reality. God gives grace for the situation, not the imagination. Doesn't that sound like a worthwhile mantra?

Tonight dearest one decided to join me as I lay on the recliner and as he sat on the edge of it he teasingly pushed the top of the chair back as far as it could go. Our combined weight pushed the recliner over backwards to the floor and we lay there laughing while the blood rushed to our heads. He hopped off the side and I asked him to please help me get right side up again but it took awhile because we kept erupting in that hysterical kind of laughter that makes it hard to do anything else. I would have doubled up with laughter but I couldn't even get my head off the floor. Being upside down isn't much fun but we sure laughed anyway.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


The Yoga Pup stands just like that duckling does between its mama's legs. When he first started doing this I thought he was trying to get through my legs, but no, he just wanted the comfort of being snug between them. I can be washing dishes and suddenly he is standing there or even when I sit at the computer he sometimes wedges himself in. Anytime he is feeling insecure he waits for dearest one or I to stop walking, then he quickly comes and stands between our calves. I can relate to his wanting some tangible security in knowing that he isn't alone. Sometimes I picture myself resting in God's hammock shaped palms when I am feeling out of sorts. I remind myself that all I have to do is rest there.

The other night I had to pick Yoga Pup up off the couch, where he was waiting for dearest one to come home, and pack him to bed. Sometimes we wonder what his story is because he sure has some insecurities. I know that when dearest one comes home today he will go absolutely berserk and chatter like a squirrel to show his excitement. Yes, sometimes we wonder if he isn't another animal in a Pug's body. He plays like a cat, chatters like a squirrel and nestles like a duckling.

Yesterday I went for a walk in the field and the Pugs and the outside dog plus the cat joined me. Rain was falling like a dripping faucet and the earth smelled like decaying leaves. If I closed my eyes I couldn't tell if it was Spring or Fall. I kept stopping just to breathe it all in. All too soon the crop will be too high for me to walk in and I will have to go back to walking on the road. Sharing that space with vehicles makes taking the animals along no fun at all.

The quiet was hard for me yesterday. It brought me an awareness of my online usage that I have been kidding myself about. My house is in need of cleaning not because I need a housekeeper but because I am using my time online instead. I wrote in my journal for the first time in 6 months yesterday. It took several pages before I stopped sounding like I was writing a blog post instead of a journal entry. I am glad to know there really is a difference.

Dearest one has many family members who have no radio, TV or Internet in their homes. They go about their days in silence all the time. Of course one can find distraction anywhere if you're looking for it. I know that. But yesterday was as comforting as it was disconcerting. I'm going to try it more often.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The Puglies are waiting for dearest one to get home. It is nearing midnight. He won't be home until Thursday afternoon. They lay on the couch and watch out the window. Perhaps they will come and sleep in the bed or maybe not. They will be restless until he is home again. There is a rhythm to their days that soothes them.

I was home sick today and will be tomorrow, too. Lovely strep throat is not going away as quickly as I'd hoped. By late afternoon my throat was sore again and my energy waning. I am grateful, though not to have had a reaction to the antibiotics as I am allergic to almost all of them. It will be nice when my appetite comes back.

I had grand, spur of the moment plans today, to go offline and do without TV until Thursday. Sigh. Tomorrow I will follow through with that. Of course that means I am pushing the boundaries until midnight while I can. I was almost asleep several hours ago until the phone rang. Once I get disturbed at that level of near sleep, insomnia is my reward.

I have not had a day of total solitude in longer than I can remember. It will no doubt do me good. I have thought about implementing it as a one day a week habit. It bothers me that the thought of going a whole day without the internet or TV has me feeling a bit panicky. The pull to do it though, and the opportunity to make it happen, is stronger than the panic.

Don't miss the links in the post below this one. They really are worth reading.

Two Sides

Two posts.
Two bloggers.
Two sides to the same story.
Two must reads.

Damomma's Side.

Ellie's Side.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Oh, For Vanity's Sake

"You lied." I say between clenched teeth.
"I'm good at that," he deadpans.
Damn. I smile in spite of myself.

Earlier he'd held up a tiny needle full of liquid and told me it wouldn't hurt near so much as the other ones he used to give me so I told him, oh alright, go ahead.

He is my family doctor. Someone I've known as a patient for a dozen years. We know each other outside the office through a mutual organization we're both active in as well. He has the quickest, dry wit that he uses to diffuse uncomfortable situations and a compassion that runs deep. The first time I ever mentioned my history of childhood sexual abuse to him he stopped in his tracks and listened with the whole of his being. He encouraged me to get counselling and celebrated with me as I began healing. When I did my radio documentary two years ago he gave me the kindest feedback on it.

I've been feeling crappy since late last week and today just happened to have an appointment to see him that I'd made earlier this month. He took a swab of my throat and gave me antibiotics for strep throat.

He listened to the other issues I've been having and ordered the appropriate tests. I asked him if I made another appointment would he do something about the bump on my right index finger. I told him if I was an old lady I'd live with it because it looks like it belongs on an old lady hand. He told me he could do surgery or he could inject full of cortisone right away. At first I refused but the bump looks exactly like the proverbial wart on a witch's nose except it's on my finger. Then, because he told me it wouldn't hurt, I said, sure you can pump it full of cortisone.

Do I have the word SUCKER on my forehead? No. Maybe the word VANITY, though.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

45 going 78

I woke up with an annoying song going through my head and then I started playing on repeat what I said when it was my turn to share at the birthday meeting yesterday. The chatter in my head was starting to sound like a 45 record set to 78 so I finally got up in hopes of shutting that bit of craziness off. I picked the topic of gratitude for the meeting and then didn't mention it again. Sigh. I bet no one else is up in the middle of the night telling themselves man, that Hope doesn't know how to share worth a shit. All ego of course. I know that. I wish it wouldn't wake me up in the night. If my sponsor was awake she would put it all in perspective in a nanosecond and we'd probably roar with laughter after I said, "ouch." She gave me a card yesterday that brought me to tears. I love that woman.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


"It's him," I whisper as I cup my hand over the phone before handing it to dearest one.

That's the first thing I remember about that day 10 years ago. One of our nephews was supposed to come over the night before to borrow a pickup truck. We had been looking forward to his visit as he was one of our favourites out of over 3 dozen nieces and nephews. He never showed and we'd gone to bed disappointed. Early the next morning the phone rang and when I answered it I thought it was him. It wasn't. It was his brother phoning to tell us that the night before a friend and his brother had taken one last flight in their ultra light plane and hadn't returned. No amount of searching had found them. They had called the appropriate people sometime after midnight and before too long we heard the roar of an air force search plane overhead.
It took them very little time to find the wreckage. There were no survivors.

Just two days before we had been together for a family gathering and I watched this particular nephew as he played with someone's baby. I noticed the ease of his play and his unselfconsciousness of being in the moment with that baby as if there weren't 30 people sitting around visiting as he laid on the floor playing. Before we'd left that night he and dearest one talked about going up in the plane together soon.

The passage of time is a funny thing. On one hand one can hardly believe it's been that long. And on the other one remembers that day as if it was yesterday.

I just remembered that we'd learned of my granny's suicide at age 90, three years to the day we learned of this young nephew's death. I rarely remember to remember her on this day but I rarely forget him.

I missed celebrating my AA birthday last month with my home group because I was away so today is the day for cake, cards and medallions. My head has been way too busy with what I might say at the meeting so I've been praying to let that go. I am amazed and appalled at how much my ego wants to run the show. Sometimes I want to beat it over the head and say, Will you shut the fuck up already! Instead I pray for God to direct my thoughts. I laid in bed this morning and prayed the third step prayer before I got up. I've been doing that lately to help me get my bearings before the chatter in my head has a chance to start up.

Later on today we will help oldest son celebrate his birthday. While he was growing up the death of his cousin and his great grandma overshadowed his celebration on two separate occasions. I look forward to celebrating with him and his wife and their friends.

I refused to keep my grandma's choice of suicide a secret although I had to pry out of my mom how my grandma died. After I found out I had several conversations with one of my sisters that morning and she was grateful grandma's death had been peaceful in her sleep. Before the morning was over I phoned my mom and said I am not keeping this a secret. My sister wishes I hadn't told her the truth. I hate secrets. I grew up in a family where my mom told me to my face that what went on in our house stayed in our house. After my grandma died I met her brother for the first time since childhood. Every time he would tell me he was so grateful she had died in her sleep I gritted my teeth a little.

I don't know why this topic is coming up in my writing lately. I suspect I am still pissed at my grandma for ending her life that way. It just popped into my head that I could pray to have some compassion for her. That never occured to me before. If you knew her life story you would most likely have compassion for her in a heartbeat.

My dad, who will be 80 this summer, often says that getting old and having health problems and the like sure beats the alternative. Any day above ground is a good one is a phrase he heartily agrees with. Wish my grandma had thought that way.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Umpteenth Time

"It never delivers, does it?"

I said that after she blurted out in passing that she was just itching to go spend some money. When I told her I knew that feeling she said it was comforting to hear she wasn't alone. There was a time when I would have felt compelled to launch into a mini sermon on why those kind of urges don't deliver in the end, don't fill that aching place inside. But, I didn't.

Dogs don't like sermons, either. At least not the screeching kind. The Yoga Pup was threatening to do his business in my freshly rototilled garden. The little shit. He and The Engergizer Bunny are oblivious to us when they go outside. They wander with an intensity to their explorations that makes them deaf to humans, I swear it. Then when they sniff the whole world they abruptly turn and come running for the house. Tonight dearest one put a fence around the garden. Yoga Pup chatters like a squirrel when he is upset or excited. I imagine he will chatter at me through that fence a lot this summer.

I spent several hours on the road today going to and from the place where my spiritual director lives. Our normal meeting place was in a kerfuffle due to renovations so we chatted for two hours in a chilly,don't-turn-up-the-heat-between-Sundays church near by. Before us was a beautiful alcove with stained glass. I found that both calming and comforting. I wandered to the back of the church and stood before the table full of prayer candles. I wondered about the people who had lit the candles and what burdens they need lifted.

I try not to dissect my sessions with the spiritual director too much anymore. Some sessions are bland and some are intense and some are in between. I used to want them all to be intense as if intensity was the only way to measure if I was getting further along in the healing process. Now I accept that every session helps me in the journey. Today I felt like I was rehashing the same stuff for the umpteenth time. And maybe I was.

On the way to my appointment I was eating and driving. It's hard to dip chicken strips in sauce and drive at the same time. In my little it's all about me moment I was sure the vehicle that had been quite a ways behind me was catching up to me for the sole purpose to get my licence plate so they could report me for dangerous driving. I'm embarrassed to admit how many miles I drove before I realized how ridiculous the thoughts in my head were. Then I looked in my rear view mirror and the vehicle had disappeared. So much for it being all about me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rambling Hither And Yon

I should be in bed. It's inching closer to midnight with every key stroke. I haven't kept a journal since my unbloggable summer ended last year ago so tonight the blog will have to do. If I go to bed before I unload the minutae that has accumluated in my brain over the course of the day I will be awake until 2 AM.

Today it was nearly 30C here, which is almost 90F for you Farenheit people. Unheard of in these parts for this time of year. The trees are greening up in record time. We get our garden tilled in a few days. My grandma always told me there would be a hard frost after the first of June so don't put out your bedding plants early. She has been right every year. I wonder what she would say about hot weather this early. I wondered last night, when I listened to the weather man talk about some kind of clouds in the sky that had no moisture in them, if my great grandparents knew that kind of thing during the dirty 30s. Did the farmers know then that ceratin kinds of clouds were just a teaser of the hope yet to come? The hope they scanned the sky for without end? I wonder.

Work is very busy and often stressful right now. In my whole adult life I haven't held a job this long before. That's because I married young, became a mother young and stayed at home nearly the whole time my kids were growing up. Then I was sick for quite a few years. My goal was to get well enough that I could hold a part time job. Dearest one and I used to walk by a department where he works and I'd say, "I'd just like a job there. Part time." I have a job just like that one. Part time. Most days it feels like a dream. A good one. I like my job. I'd like to stay in it until I retire. There are times though when I just want to go home and pull the covers over my head and sleep for a few days. In my more immature moments I wish I could get a paycheck without going to work. I am most grateful that I know at a gut level that I get to choose my attitude any day. I've been a bit negative at work lately, caught up in circumstances beyond anyone's control. Tomorrow I get another chance to lean further on the positive side of life. I can do that. God help me.

I left work early today to get acupuncture needles stuck in the top of my head, my ears, legs, arms and between my toes. They helpd with the work stress. Tonight I went to a board meeting and left it feeling certain that deciding not to extend my term another few years was the right decision. That means only one more board meeting and I have completed my commitment.

I am allergic to scents and perfumes. That means no "smelly" candles in the house, no air fresheners, no perfume to be remembered by. For many years already I have planted those flowers you see in the photo up there. My grandma had them in her garden and they are called Evening Scented Stock. I have harboured the idea that my kids and perhaps grandkids will think of me by that scent. You know how that is when you catch a drift of a scent and are transported back in time? Well, those flowers will be my rememberance. I plant a full, thick row of them in the garden and on certain evenings when the wind blows gently it's intoxicating to breathe in their scent.

It really is a good life. I do hope it rains soon.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Stress Relief

Need a chuckle?

Foot In Mouth Disease Anyone?

Sleeping Perspective

"Way, Hey, Hey, it's just an ordinary day and it's all your state of mind. At the end of the day, you've just got to say, it's alright."

That's the tune that's been going through my head during those fleeting moments of being awaken during the night for two nights in a row now. Yesterday a small bombshell, in the form of an unwelcome announcement, was dropped at work. After bemoaning everything that was newly out of my control I said to my boss, "This is an interesting opportunity to make the best of." Then, to the rest of my coworkers I said, "I'll take it in my stride but I'm going to bitch and moan for a few days first." It was on my drive home from work that those lyrics went through my head.

Last night I dreamed, in a traumatized kind of way, of just how I thought all this out of controllness was going to play out in reality. When I surfaced from being comatose to awake the lyrics went through my head yet again.

Here's the song if you haven't heard it. It's Canadian, too!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mercy Softened The Edges

"If that's the last time I talk to her am I okay with how that went?"

That's the question I asked myself after my weekly phone call to my mom this past Saturday. Yesterday she was scheduled for a pretty invasive medical test. I spent much of that weekly phone call listening to my mom read me several pages of information the hospital had sent her. As I listened to her read I was torn between listening to her and wanting to put the phone down to go check on supper, which was in danger of burning in the oven. I told myself that I wasn't going to interrupt her, in what may be our final conversation, and that a burnt supper wasn't the end of the world.

Funny how much more considerate I can be when I think you may die the next day.

My mom has spent her life being stoic (in capital letters.) She doesn't need anyone, ever. She had a different medical test last month and told me she was scared. Well, she didn't actually say she was scared. She said the the test was scary, because she could have a heart attack during it. A very real possibility.

It was so surreal to listen to this woman, who I lived in fear of my whole childhood, be vulnerable and admit, in a round about way, her fear. She is so self sufficient that when she got sent to the hospital several years ago and was hooked up to 5 different machines within a few minutes of arriving, she told my dad to go home, that there was no reason to wait around, while, you know, she died. She didn't die but might have had she not been sent by her doctor to the hospital. I told dearest one that I hoped she didn't send my dad home yesterday because if something happened, he would get the news over the phone.

I did not want to get bad news over the phone either. I have a tendency to put life on hold when I'm waiting to see what the outcome is going to be. It could be the outcome of the World Curling Championship or it could be the outcome of a scary, invasive medical test that my mom was having. I'm not picky. When I was a kid I made it through by waiting for the future, instead of being in the here and now. Living in the moment is still my biggest challenge.

I was worried something would go wrong and it would be lights out for my mom. Yesterday I knew I could either waste all my energy worrying about what might happen or I could put that energy into what was right in front of me, which was dealing with staff and students. I asked God to be merciful to my mom and let her live. Then I realized that dying might be more merciful. How did I know? Which brought me right back to praying, Thy will be done. I told myself on the way to work that God would supply whatever graces needed, whatever happened.

And nothing happened.

When I phoned my mom last night her voice sounded rough, but she came through okay. Said she never wanted to have that test again, though, thank you very much. My dad had cooked her a lovely supper and she was taking it easy as per doctor's orders. She said she wasn't taking the pills they presribed though and she was telling her doctor that when she saw her in a week. When a person's being feisty there's not too much to worry about.

When I was newly sober I hated my mom. I worried that if my mom called me during that time I would have screamed an unending scream of hatred over the phone at her. I blamed my alcoholism, my being an abusive mother, my inability to feel anything other than rage, on her. Eventually, (that word tidily sums up 20 years of healing) I made my peace with her and took responsibility for who I had become. That peace didn't hinge on her doing anything at all. It didn't condone her behaviour, as if it had never happened, either.

However, when I stopped holding my own behaviour against myself, stopped defining myself by my past, I was faced with the decision to stop holding hers against her, too. I felt like I had been tricked when that realization hit me. I wanted to clutch my new found mercy to my chest with one hand while holding the other hand out in front of me like a stop sign, protesting about the unfairness of being tricked into seeing that mercy received flows outward into mercy extended. I wanted to have a little temper tantrum about that. Slowly mercy softened the edges of my hatred until the day came when I saw my mom as my equal.

I can't imagine my mom as an old lady, vulnerable to caregivers, etc. Her own mother killed herself at age 90 to avoid that being her fate. My sisters and I have talked about the possibility of my mom choosing to do the same thing one day.

I don't know what to write about how I feel about that possible outcome other than I hope she chooses life. This post has gone in a totally different direction than when I started writing it so I'm going to change the subject.

That nice little piece of glass in the photo above hangs in my kitchen window. I took comfort in it yesterday.

In between bouts of worry.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

You...You...Fried Pie, You

I was dragging my butt all the way to town yesterday. I've been way too busy the past 6 weeks and the thought of being away from home yet another full day didn't thrill me. When my sponsor phoned Friday night to tell me if the weather was shitty in the morning then I shouldn't feel bad about cancelling I secretly hoped the weather would be shitty. It wasn't. So I showed up at her house bright and early and together we went to hear one of these brothers speak on sponsorship. I prayed on the way to my sponsor's house that I would be open to what God had for me. I made a commitment not to whine about how busy I have been. There's part of me that wants to say to overly busy people when they complain about it, "so what?" and then there's me. When I whine about being busy, I want sympathy.

Yesterday, a whole bunch of stuff about AA went from being head knowledge to heart knowledge. Well, maybe not a whole bunch, but it sure feels like a major shift happened within me. I never understood our singleness of purpose before, however humbling that is to admit, in the way I do now. I hope to God that shift is reflected in my sharing at meetings from here on in. Ever since the session was over yesterday, the words "selfish and self centered" have been echoing in my head.

As for other communities I am a part of, I hope to do a better job at showing up instead of staying home. For a long time now it's been a real effort to show up. I don't know when gentle self care morphed into a sense of entitlement about how I spend my time but it has. There are things I'm involved in where I have simply been putting in time instead of being engaged in the commitment and the people I serve with. I imagine I'm going to be pondering that one for a while yet but realizing it made me save this post in draft form and go to church instead of staying home to finish writing.

Those Texans sure have some funny phrases. Fried Pie for one. I doubt we say redneck with the same affection that he called people fried pies. He said it in the same way one might call someone a knucklehead.

I was dying to go up to the speaker after and ask him if he knew this or that blogger but I realized that probably none of them use their real first name and that it wasn't my place to out them as bloggers so I restrained myself. Although it could very well be that him knowing y'all has about the same chance as when someone finds out I'm from Canada and wants to know if I know their relative that lives half way across the country.

I did, however, look up fried pie on a search engine. When all these Amish definitions came up I thought to myself there aren't Amish in Texas! Which makes me think of the time dearest one drove through Chicago, on the way to see me in Ontario. When he stopped for fuel and someone found out that he was from Canada they argued with him that Canadians lived in Igloos and there was snow year round no matter where you lived in Canada. Nothing dearest one said could convince that man otherwise. So as far as I know there very well could be Amish in Texas.

At any rate, according to that Texan, there sure are a lot of fried pies there. And they go to meetings, too.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The More The Merrier

It's snowing like crazy out there right now and the only thing that would make me happier is if it was coming down as rain.

We desperately need the moisture and when the weatherman said last night that our area was going to be bypassed by this precipitation dearest one and I looked at each other and frowned. I hope it snows all day. The farmers in our community need so much more moisture before they can even think about planting a crop. Our own farm land needs moisture, too. We have already had to plan for a secondary source of water for the cows.

As much as I love spring and all the hopefullness it brings, today I am quite content to look at the winter wonderland forming outside.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Rest In Peace Michael

Michael Spencer, 1956-2010.

Michael encouraged me to keep blogging when I first started writing online over 5 years ago. It was also through his website, The Boars Head Tavern that I found a link to Bobbie and her recovery from sexual addiction. All these interactions have been pivotal in my own recovery and growth. I will be forever grateful.

Michael wrote with such gut honesty and challenged me to think outside the box when it came to my faith. He wrote openly about wrestling with his faith and what it meant to live the Gospel. He helped me see that it was more important to live it than talk about it.

Michael tackled the struggles of daily life and generously let us in as he did so. He did not try to 'pretty up" his image, he was who he was. Between his and Brennan Manning's influence, I have a much bigger God and a better grasp on grace.

Michael did not have a lot of time from when he was diagnosed with cancer until his passing. I will be keeping his family in my prayers.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

New Again

(My favourite Easter video)