Success defined as the ability to feel gratitude

If you’re walking around thinking that people will only remember the kind words you say – you are fooling yourself.  It’s the mean shit they remember now, and keep on remembering.

Be gentle in the words you say/ keep them soft and sweet / you never know which of your words/ you’re going to have to eat.

NB: Of course if these words are applied to you when you’re a young woman growing up in a fundamentalist household they will feel different.

I hope that gratitude, which holds my place in life’s big lineup, keeps being part of my daily practice.  I hope that it is gratitude for the great life I have, marked today by the first birthday of Alex the G’baby, and our acknowledgement of his place in our lives, that keeps my brain open to other teachings.

Wrote 353 words yesterday!  Nereus and Slider were the main recipients of my attention.  It is not a record day but I committed to getting back to work and it is a measurable and hopefully duplicatable result in this adventure / experiment called life.



Paul’s presentation to the Restorative Justice conference in Parksville yesterday went off without a hitch.  I had advised him to run short rather than long on his presentation.  The other two panel presenters work professionally as criminologists, one on the Island and the other in Lower Mainland, and their presentations were much more academically oriented, so Paul’s stark and brief words elicited a lot of questions.  This allowed Paul to shine, as he speaks with assurance and smoothness when he’s not reading off a tiny glass screen.  To ease the times he had to consult his notes on the tablet the version I sent him had a simply monstrous type face, and he was grateful for that.

I don’t know much about anything, but I know that middle aged men want a damn big serif font.

Paul picked me up at 7:30 am (I’d  been up since 2:30, sigh), I drove us to the Horseshoe Bay Ferry, we broke fast on the ferry, we got into Nanaimo and drove right to Parksville in the glorious sunshine, got oriented and parked at the hotel, went for an amazing walk along the spectacular boardwalk fronting the hotel, found (and walked) the painted and decorated labyrinth on the concrete end of the boardwalk (which I had researched more than ten years ago but forgotten about – I put together a list of all the labyrinths in BC as part of a service yonks ago), came back and had a wonderful lunch in a quiet restaurant overlooking the water, listened to the end of their Annual General Meeting, and then Paul made his presentation.  He tried to call me up and I just laughed and said I was there to take notes.  As expected lots of people approached Paul afterward for further comments, but we’d built that into the schedule.

Then we drove to his Cousin Ruth’s place where she and Garry fed us the fresh wild caught spring salmon of wisdom, the taters of sustenance, the homebrewed beer of amber glory, the carrots of nom, the salad of little bits of things from the garden including nasturtium and borage flowers, the last corn of the season and unsweetened gluten free pie with whipped cream which I didn’t eat because at the point all I could think about was “the tragic and explosive death of Mr. Creosote”.  This meal was served to us on less than two hours’ notice, so there’s that to add to the pile of amazeballs it truly was. The garden tour yielded a bag of heritage apples and a pocketful of fresh basil.

Then a quick and easy 20 minute drive back to the ferry, where our reservation awaited and we had an uneventful trip home and I was in bed by 10 although I was too buzzed to sleep right away.

It truly was a glorious day, and I’m glad I was there.  I am so proud of Paul I could burst.  And doesn’t he have the nicest relatives??

Deleted Chipper

Chipper, if you’re reading this, quit sending emails.  Talk to your friends.  Quit reminding me how lonely you are by sending detailed lists of how fucked up I am.  It’s quite as crazy as it sounds, so stop. Remember you yelling into the phone at the American Express telemarketers?  While Paul and I had to listen?  Yeah.  I’m asking you to stop in a much quieter voice.

For the rest of you poor sods, some of whom have known her longer than I have:

I have very regretfully had to delete her user ID, as she’s threatened to use it as a soap box to announce my failings to the world (as if I don’t already do that in double handsful on a reg’lar basis, but whatevs.) She has her own blog, that she pays for, that belongs to her. But I’ve had to take that off my sidebar, at no loss to her.  She’s never gotten a single booking referred from this website or she would have phoned me to tell me.

I have happy memories, and I’m going to hang on to them, because they are part of the family lore.

I’d say that one of my issues is setting boundaries, but now that I’m post menopausal and feeling my calling and surrounded by a working model of adult friendship, I’m learning how to do that.  What I experienced was abuse, and nobody else ESPECIALLY NOT THE ABUSER gets to call it civil discourse and gracious hospitality.  If she wants to try to talk me out of how she abused me by sending abusive emails, that’s heading over to the place where the judge gets to make the call, and I don’t want to go there. She said it was very convenient for me that Paul witnessed most of the yelling.  Yes, being yelled at while there was a witness was er, convenient.  Definitely convenient.  That’s the word I’d use.

I should not have visited her while she was sick.  But colds go away. Boundaries stay in place.  I should have rented a cabin and left her to yell at her house (she does that a lot.)

And maybe I was depressed when I went, but I really don’t feel that way now.  I have communed with the spirits, I have walked in the woods, and I feel like helping someone who has helped me. I’m going to help Paul with his Restorative Justice talk, and then I’m going to start writing again on Monday, since I’ve had a nice long, weird, horrible, exciting, heartening and thought-provoking break, and on Tuesday I’ll spend part of my grandson’s first birthday with him, and I’m going to paint a picture of the dream I had, where I was climbing Moore’s Falls.  I will practice my mandolin and cook for my household and try out Terry’s cookie recipe which is so good I could DIE. I will write down more songs, and keep adding to the book of kind words (wrote some more in Cornwall), and prep Theo for surgery (not really but almost.)

I will check in with the editrix of awesomesauce and make a list of friends to call. I’ll do my taxes, although not before I put them off some more. I will continue to live a satisfactory life and when life hands me difficulties and worries, I’ll have friends and family who trust me, and who reciprocate my love and care and trust and appreciation with deeds of shining worth. And words spoken at a conversational volume, because candidly, that was the best thing about going to Cornwall and then getting back to town.

Walking distance – a consultation with the spirits

Back in my 20’s I read a book or a manifesto or something about how you should walk every inch of the city within a five km radius of your house.  Yesterday I learned to recognize that as wise, yet again, having forgotten it.

Slept over at Mike’s after a wonderful supper of the salmon of wisdom, the preserves of friendship and the taters of sustenance.  A deep, roborative sleep.  Then astonishment, as the whole city was fogged in and we were above it all in the Eyrie, watching it burn off. Then a brekkie of coffee, hash browns, bacon and eggs. We went a-walking in Byrne Creek Ravine park.

The day signs were most impressive; the Trickster appeared, facing the sun. Then three black dogs.  The first two were on leashes; the third was free walking with her owner. Then a Korean family, joking in English and Korean. Then a troupe of dancers rehearsing Chinese opera on the tennis courts.

THEN a dry big-leaf maple leaf, in the shape of a death’s head, lodged against the ivy twining up a snag.

Then the old man.  He came down, down down the steep incline to the water, and as soon as he saw us he BACKED UP THE TRAIL, never taking his eyes off us.  When I saw him later I tried to acknowledge him, but he would not meet my eyes, although twice I caught him staring at me. Most unnerving.

Each leaf swayed and sang; there was a deeper stillness in the plashing of the water; I could feel my brain trying to calculate things, all the tiny incremental movements, as if they could be calculated.  My vision cleared.  It was a wonderful feeling.

As we paused, walking back, looking down at the ravine from the railing on the other side from Edmonds station, a young First Nations family walked by.  The mother was saying to the toddler while the father pushed an infant in a stroller, “You can’t go climb down to the stream! You’ll scratch your bum on the blackberries!”

Safe back at the Eyrie I asked the spirits if they could help me find my family crest. I’m not knowing what to do about the answer.

At first it was all random stuff, a doodle in white letters against my closed eyes; it looked like Kufic script, and then script in no human language.  I was sad, because I could not interpret the dancing, ever shifting letters.

They gave me the bones of a salmon, the curl of a fern, the head of a vulture, a toad, and strange, gap-toothed cogs, fitting into all these things.  Ground and figure were constantly shifting, but it all felt fitting, and as I’m receiving these teachings, I’m thinking, yes, this is right, this is as it should be.  The salmon and the fern are how the land and the sea connect, the head of the vulture is the acknowledgement of the cycle of birth and death, the toad is welcoming the stranger and the orphan, the cog is the knowledge that all things fit, the gaps the incompleteness that comes with being human.  Then the last part.

It was the outline of a subdivision.  I think I know what it means – that I’m a colonial born and bred and living on the land on sufferance, but damn it is NOT what I wanted to hear, and so it is probably the most valuable part of the teaching.

All these things were interwoven.  As I looked at one thing, it turned into something else.  Everything kept shifting; animal faces into letters, into stylized hands and fingers, curving railroad tracks with swaying ties. All rendered in brilliant white, as if the world’s most skilled tagger was drawing it on my sensorium at the speed of light.

At this point, on behalf of Cousin Gerald, I would like to interject, “Wot, no MOOSE?”

I remonstrated with the spirits, who laughed very heartily at my tears (I was weeping pretty much continuously at this point).  A great woman’s voice said, “It’s nothing for you to parade around! You have no family crest! You couldn’t draw it even if you could understand it!” Then, after a pause, as if reconsidering, the same voice said, more quietly, “It will be there when you close your eyes,” and I’m back to myself and Mike’s handing me Kleenex.

It never ceases to amaze me, what’s in my head.  None of this was real, but I assure you, it happened.

Today I’m going to go keep a promise, but this time I get to drive.  Paul and I are going to Nanoose Bay for a restorative justice conference, or at least the part of it he is presenting at.  I had meant to bail, but all things considered I have a few things to tidy up before I get back to writing.  The characters are once again speaking, though. Theo came and sat with me while I was in the forest.

“I was not a philosophical person, and now I am.  At first I was angry, because I did not need to think about what it all means.  I was happy to move around in the space my people occupy, which is life and death and reproduction, and possibly looking at beautiful things. Then I was angry, because all my previous understanding was not wrong, just too small. I had thought myself as big as I needed to be.  But since I got philosophy I can only think of myself in relation to others, and that makes me angriest of all, for I don’t like most Sixers and hate most humans, and now I am stuck with them all, and I really don’t have the temperament for a philosopher.”

Poor Theo.  There’s nothing worse for a hard-core narcissist than waking up one morning and finding out you’re too small.

Meltingly grateful to Mike for his most restorative and sacred hospitality.

I’d also like to thank mOm for her bracing phone calls of late.

Tom U. is back working with Mike again, isn’t that wonderful? One half of the lunch bunch is back together.

Points north and east

The sad news first.  Chipper and I are at the extremity of friendship where we may still have business but I’m too upset to talk to her or receive her calls.  I have brought my sadness to people who can understand it and since the internet is forever further comment would be unwise.

The weather was very nice for the trip.

Due to a communication difficulty – entirely my fault – I wasn’t one of the named drivers for the trip so Paul did all 1200 km of  the driving.

One of the days we were in Cornwall we drove up to Ottawa to see Tish and Terry’s daughter and their new grandson, Malcolm, who is tiny and adorable, but was in hospital due to his precipitous entry into the world a wee tad early. (He comes home today praise be.)  Paul and I kinda bent the rules about who is family since babby was in the equivalent of a NICU and I didn’t even ask to hold him but it was amazing to see such a tiny little mancub and I am so grateful he’s okay.

Then we had a picnic in Britannia Bay.  While we were there the wind was blowing perpendicular to the beach so we were treated to a scene of dozens of brilliant white sails, staying in the same place, but getting smaller.  A great illusion.

As always the food was amazing. Terry makes these cookies that are beyond wonderful. The food was very good in Madawaska too. Okay, I’m sad again.

Tish and Terry have a beautiful Brittany Spaniel named Butter, who is exceedingly well trained AND extremely boisterous and strong.  I spent a lot of time gazing into his green eyes (a colour I haven’t seen on a dog before) and gently pulling burrs out of his ears and coat.  I haven’t liked a dog this much in decades; he’s a wonderful addition to the household even if he can chew the floor. Yes, he chewed the floor in front of the back door.  And the stairs.  And a few other things.  He’s liver and white and quite the most elegant figure of a dog you can imagine.  His muzzle is narrower and his frame is more slender than other dogs of his breed you might see on the internet.

Yesterday Paul and I went to the gravesite of Simon Fraser, which, splendidly enough is walking distance from Tish and Terry’s (although we drove through the spun sugar that is a crisp and sunny fall day in Ontario to get there) and I found a remarkable headstone where two women from different families are on one stone.  I don’t know whether it was the frugality of their Catholic Scottish highland husbands, or their friendship, that made such a thing possible.  If I can get it off my phone I’ll post the picture (it’s on my facebook feed.)

A couple of days ago we were in Ottawa (no time to visit Leo and Linda although I publicly apologize for not calling them) to visit Deb, her dog Winnie, the most adorbs pitbull ever, and her spouse Jim.  Just as we were getting into a most riproaringly fine political discussion we had to leap in the car to get back to Cornwall for dinner.  DANG.

Large sections of the 138 have been paved so that it is a wonderful road now, so getting back and forth between Ottawa and Cornwall was a snap; the trip inbound to the airport was wonderful, and unlike many other parts of Canada, the signage made getting to the airport, barring that nasty little last minute left hand turn, was super easy, and despite the loads saying we weren’t getting on we did get on…. onto two broken seats.

My tray table wasn’t working and the audio jack on Paul’s seat wasn’t working.  What are contingent passengers good for??? sitting in seats that the paying customers would complain about.

The man sitting next to me sniffed all through the flight.  I was going to be mad at him when I realized he was suppressing tears and trying to read Robert Ludlum.  My nosiness fought with my compassion and in the end I left him alone rather than ask him if he was okay.  The woman sitting next to me was reading Coelho’s novel Adultery and talked to the flight attendant about her recently finalized divorce, which is a little on the nose, don’t you think?  Stunning woman, though, magnificent eyelashes.

I was so exhausted from travelling that over Paul’s objections I got a taxi.  I’m glad I did.

Unpacking, writing, playing Otto and helping Paul with his presentation on Sunday, and watching a LOT of tv on the pvr.  That’s my day.



I can’t sleep.

We’re going to pick up half a lamb with Tish and Terry tomorrow – we’re in Cornwall – and then go see baby Malcolm who is breathing on his own and nursing like a champ.  Yay!

I have had lots of major and minor irritations about the trip so far but can’t provide details.  The femicides in the Wilno area and the utter incompetence of the OPP in policing and the CBC in reporting merely added to the things that make me sad.

The saddest thing of all is how badly I want to get on the plane and go home. I’ve never missed Jeff so much.

Some things are good, the amazing mushrooms and the canoe jaunt to the falls and Shadow cat and no bugs and pleasant fall weather.

I can feel some interest in writing coming back. The characters are talking to me again.

As is standard the table last night had all manner of lovely fare; Patty pan squash and ribs with home made barbecue sauce, eddo (which is a starchy corm yes Jeff I hadz a corm) and taters and home made salsa.

Mind you the veal stew Sandra cooked night before last was spectacular, along with the lovely cheese and rice. I ain’t starving.


Almost enough sleep maybe possibly

So I’m off to Ottawa and then rental car and then Red Deer Log Cabins  and then a quick dash down to Cornwall to see Tish and Terry and then back to Red Deer and then home.

I’m not taking my computer. If I post it will be on a borrowed computer somewhere.

I’ll be back next week, then going away again for the first weekend in October to a restorative justice conference in Nanoose Bay.


Sun’s out

I’m happy.  Despite everything.  You’ll see.

Went walking with Keith yesterday, and I doubt very much that I’ll be doing that again very soon.  I have a high tolerance for aberrant behaviour, but the only time I can deal with Keith these days is when there are other people present. Otherwise he yells at me.  Not all the time, but once during lunch (which I paid for) and twice while we were walking.  The animus in his voice is primal, and it’s time I recognized things.

So I pick up the phone and call him.  I make sure he’s awake, able to take the call privately, and tell him that I don’t want to spend time with him alone, because my mental health is hanging by a string, and if he’s angry at me – hey, no problem. I’m not strong enough to walk down the street with my pubic symphysis be grinding like a rock crusher while a twenty-nine year old man who has not lived on his own yells at me to tell me that he doesn’t think he’s a member of my family. *

Sample speech, “Oh that’s typical of something your family would say,” which, when, you know, you pushed him outta your body and all, makes you think of the picture of Amanda Fucking Palmer and Neil Gaiman, who just gave day to an heir.  “He’ll grow up to be all shouty and entitled too, you poor dears.”

I mean, Paul was there, in the delivery room. He saw Keith being born and I suspect if I asked him he’d corroborate the story.

Anyway, I don’t like being yelled at while I’m feeling this crappy already, so I told him no alone time with mumzie (that is how I will refer to myself in the third person in future so as to be distinguishable, and that’s my errant spelling of Jim P’s most lovely spoken version of it) until I’m feeling strong enough for it.

I told him that I make heroic efforts not to make my mental health problems other people’s. I have to avoid situations that will prostrate me. I came home from the walk yesterday anguished mentally and physically tired (although not destroyed) and believe me it was the mental anguish that was at the top of the stairs.

I can’t deal with intimates yelling at me, and I’m trying really hard not to yell myself these days although Jeff’s eyes just popped out at the very notion that I am making any effort at all. He has, I believe, contemplated buying me a t-shirt that says, “I’ll quit yelling when I’m DEAD” with one of those 50’s women in a helmet of hair with her mouth open and her eyes shut and her hand to her mouth – but has held off because it’s not in a colour I wear.

Keith was very dignified during the conversation, which was mercifully brief and civil.  I have asked for a boundary, feel much relieved, and now we’ll see.

And I’m happy.  Being depressed means being happy that you were able to do something taxing, but necessary.  If I’m going to be a punching bag, I want to get paid.

And with that, Moar Words, but elsewhere.


Woo hoo, 15 words

Also did a mockup of the cover for the first novel and sent it around to various folks, most of whom have responded favourably.

I did an immense amount of laundry yesterday and I haven’t finished putting it all away so that is where my spoons will go today.

Very nice walk with Jeff early yesterday morning as we went to IHOP, So a total of 3 k walked yesterday.  As is normal I didn’t start feeling it until coming up that damned hill.

NDP candidate canvasser wanted me to put up a lawn sign, and I respectfully refused.

Laundry and Season 5

I’m reading Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, which weighs in at a hefty 800 pages, so I’m taking it slow and marking up my mother’s copy (with her permission). He argues that human society is less violent overall than it used to be and the Enlightenment (including novels, woo hoo and yes I’m truncating one tiny part of his overall argument scandalously) is largely the root cause of the drop in the death rate due to violence (current outbreaks of horror notwithstanding).

I’m finding it very persuasive, learning a great deal, and it’s filling me with lots of thinky thoughts.

There are those who argue that he’s full of it (including a really head scratching review by John Gray in Prospect which includes having at the argument by mocking Pinker’s excessive use of statistics, which I find an appalling thing for a public intellectual to do, but whatever.)

I liken the inability to see the drop in violence (how many people per 100000 die due to murder and intra and interstate violence, which has dropped substantially since 1800) to what’s going on with alcohol consumption. There is still lots of alcohol being sold, lots of alcohol being consumed and lots of alcohol involved in premature death. But there’s less drinking and driving causing death than there was when I was a kid, because behaviours have changed, and children learn not to drink and drive as part of their education.

Alcohol, like violence, is still here and there’s still too much of it, but education and opprobrium continue to work their harm reducing wiles.


Also, the quality drop from Season 4 to Season 5 in The West Wing is like being flung from a cliff.

Also, I did 5 loads of laundry yesterday including the kitchen rugs, ran the dishwasher and swept the kitchen floor, which really needed it.

MR2 is still in the Krankenhaus waiting for parts.  He is leaking coolant.

No words yesterday but I’m comfortable with that.

One more month

Before we either throw Harper out or he steals the election, one or the other.

Only edits yesterday.

I tried to make oatmeal cookies yesterday and it was NOT an unmitigated disaster.  (I didn’t use Granny’s recipe, pace Jeff.) We can scoop the caramelized oatmeal goo out of a container if we’re so inclined, and eat it.



these people are armatures

So anyways I’m getting to that point where I’m starting to think about self-publishing and e-publishing, and I start looking for help on line, regarding formatting and such. A sentence from one of these articles, apparently from a self-publishing guru, goes like this:

“I don’t want to get into the importance of your cover and how it plays a HUGE role in the reader’s choice of book, or how it should look good big and as a thumbnail on the Amazon page, or how most users can pic an armature cover from a mile away.”

Okay buddy whatevs.