Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tonight i talked to Terri

Terri is a brave woman. She's my dance instructor. I've been getting to know her in bits and pieces over the last 3 dance sessions. She's one of those warm-spirited ones, has hugs for everyone. Everyone loves her because she's the kind of person you instantly take to and I did instantly take to her. I helped her pack up her sound equipment tonight after class. We did some great dancing tonight and for once each of us had lots of room to move - as she says when the class is small: "Tonight we are small but mighty, women!"

I listened to her share what was in her heart and i discovered how raw her grief still is just 1 year after her husband suddenly died. When I first signed up with the troupe, I couldn't believe that she was such a recent widow and was running this company, and working another job -- always on the go. I wondered if i had been in her shoes. . . would i keep going at full tilt after such a cataclysmic event? I suspect that I would be in a fetal position in bed with the blinds shut. I remember our very first conversation, the night i joined. She said to me "This group of women has literally kept me alive since Rod died." I was a newcomer and I could see what she meant -- what a network of all different ages of women, different walks of life -- they were such a closeknit community - Terri was the 'mother' and we were all 'her girls'. I've been gradually able to integrate with them and feel at home there.

"I feel bad for the girls." said Terri tonight as she packed away her headset mic and put away the power bar in her purple tote. "Some of them don't know why I had to step down." *Terri and her best friend, Darlene - our fabulous choreographer - are calling it a day as leaders. They've been at it forever and they need a change.* "I've felt bad" she said, as she stopped what she was doing and looked at me. "I love teaching, and its this great thing where i give, and everyone takes it and gives it back to me and its fabulous." I nodded in agreement. "But, you know, Kath - I'm not feeling like i have anything in me to give any more. Some days I can barely put one f***ing foot in front of another, never mind teaching a class and working a job and trying to stay away from that empty house as long as possible every day." Her words were heavy with grief. I think she really needed to vent, so I just listened . "You know how everyone tells you if you can make it through the first year then you'll be all right?!" I said "Yeah." "That's bullsh**" she said as she pulled her polar fleece over her head. "Sure, its slightly easier to function day to day, and you're kinda used to it. . . but there's this giant, gaping hole where your heart used to be. . . and after a year there's still a giant gaping hole where your heart used to be."

Terri has been running from her grief. . filling it all up with work and teaching and socializing. . . now its catching up with her. She talked about her grief counselor and how he's been helping her to see that she can't avoid or side step this process. . . she must go through it. As she pulled on her boots, she said "I've never been without a man in my life, since I was a teenager. Now its just me." I told her that I too have almost never been without a man in my life and I can't imagine it. I got brave and asked her "What's it like, Terri?" She actually said "You know, its kinda cool! I'm thinking, there are all these possibilities and I can go any direction I want, but you know, its also horribly terrifying at the same time."

You'd never know that all this was inside if you took her class. She's jokey and funny. She teaches a great class. Its easy to just dance and then leave. Usually there are women buzzing around her and its hard to talk, but tonight I'm glad I stuck around and waited for my turn. It was just her and I left in the gym and in just 10 minutes I was able to know exactly how she's dealing with things, what she feels, how she's doing. I'm sad that she and Darlene are done. . . but I really am so awed by her bravery, her strength and her honesty. I'm glad she entrusted me with even some of what's in her heart.

We walked out to the parking lot together and I helped her load her car, after which she gave me the biggest Terri-style bear hug and said "Hon, you've been such a joy, I'm so glad that you joined." I thanked her and told her that she was awesome and I meant it. She really is.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

old school solutions

I own my mind, but sometimes even i don't know how it works! The other day i was working and most likely documenting either someone's myocardial infarction (heart attack), or chemotherapy protocol, maybe it was a psych consult, or the ever popular 'stomach problem'? I don't even know -- so many patients every day, it all blurs together! So, for some reason i can 'double track' -- do my job, plus think about everything else under the sun!!! So, like always, while i work my mind seeks diversion from the monotony of illness and so much technical jargon. . and i just started thinking about how when we were kids, my sisters and i used to feedtorn up strips of bread, raw, beaten eggs and milk to our dog, Blackie, when we ran out of Alpo! This was our parents' solution to put off a trip to the store! I wonder, was this good for Blackie?!!! What do you think?!!! So, I started to think of other 'make do' methods or ideas that either our family came up with to fix things, or stretch things, etc.

These are pretty old school things. . my time of reference here is the 60's and 70's. . some penny pinching practices that could seem pretty smart or pretty dumb. .some products that i haven't heard of in decades.

*Mecca ointment -- this smelly, goopy stuff came in an orange tin and always made an appearance if we had an infected wound, which we seemed to happen quite often with the 3 of us falling and scraping our extremities. We hated Mecca! It was like something from the 1800s.
*ketchup clinging to the bottle? We put a bit of vinegar in there, put the lid on, shook it up and used up the dregs.
*cod liver oil - yeah, this stuff was sold in different forms - i think?- our mother happened to choose the 'fish oil taffy'! YAY! Our grandmother probably told her to give this to us to stave off illness? I can still see us lined up in that moss green carpeted kitchen on Paradise Road and each ingest a whopping spoonful of thick, amber-coloured, fish guts molasses. (it was disgusting beyond words) We still got sick. . and we never saw that jar of sludge again! Thank you, God!
*broken crayons -- It seemed that large, megaboxes of crayons didn't stay intact very long. We would take the broken bits, remove the paper and put them in old muffin tins, heat them in the oven to melt, but not stir them. Then let them cool in the tins until they were hardened. We popped out the multi-coloured crayon pucks and had fun!!!
*chest cold? My Nana would make this witch doctory 'mustard plaster'. . slather it on our chest and cover this over with flannel. It heated up. . it stunk. . I don't even know if it did anything? but i had the displeasure of being mustard plastered!
*spoke flappers -- all the boys in our neighbourhood would affix playing cards to the spokes of their bikes wheels with clothes pins! Made this cool snapping sound as they rode around!
*caps -- if you were a kid without a cap gun in the 60s. . . all you needed was a stone! You placed your roll of caps on the sidewalk - pound each circle with a rock and POW! smoke and a flash! vvvvery exciting!
*cleaning windows -- for some reason, my mother and grandmother seemed to advocate the use of vinegar and water sprayed on the window, and they wiped this off with newspaper!!!???
*skipping dilemma -- If you wanted to skip and didn't have 2 turners. . . a telephone pole would do in a pinch!
*baking --- if you wanted to make some tarts and didn't have pie filling, or didn't want to make any filling . . . jam will always do the trick. If you wanted apple pie but only had green tomatoes, you could make them taste just like apple - apparently. *seems weird!* I have a 50s recipe book. . they were really into ersatz back them - maybe a WWII residual?
*game from a sewing box! -- girls in the 60s would regularly raid their mother's sewing baskets for packets of stretchy elastic cording. 2 'holders' stood across from each other holding the elastic at calf level. The jumper would have to jump over this elastic limbo line in any old way she wanted. Everyone would take their turn. Then the holders 'raised the bar' and so on and son on. .
*run out of milk? living on a shoestring? -- this was so gross, but mothers everywhere would mix up powdered milk, add some 'real milk' to fool us *AS IF!!!* and we would be made to drink this blue-tinged, icky-tasting pseudomilk. Sometimes there would be pasty bits of undissolved powder. UGH.
*mercurochrome -- this was a neon-pink tinture that was a MUCH cooler solution for scrapes and cuts than Mecca ointment!!! Of course, our mother didn't use this cool pink stuff, we got the crud in a tin that attracted stray dogs and insects! bah!
*silver all dark and yucky? No Silvo in the house? A tube of Crest would be the next best thing. When we had the cleaning of the silver chore, i remember using toothpaste!
*curlers too uncomfortable? Every Saturday night was get ready for Sunday morning time. We all had our freshly-washed hair wound up with these hard plastic 'rollers', affixed with these equally hard plastic pins. . try sleeping!!! strips of rags tied to your curls were much easier to sleep on - at least your head wasn't 2 inches off the pillow, forcing your neck at this weird angle. Being a girl back then was such a pain!
*new life for a ball game -- it was strangely popular to hack off one leg of a pair of your mother's pantyhose, place a small rubber ball in the toe - remember those tri-coloured, red, white and blue balls? and do these strange 'hitting the ball against the wall' games with this device!

Well, those are just a few things that came to me. I'm sure you have our own memories of things from your childhood, maybe things your parents did to economize, products you had in your house. I love thinking about the stuff that's in the recesses of my mind. . is that a sign of age-ing?!!!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

how are you?

This post is about you. I usually talk too much anyway!!

How has your week been so far? Have you been working? having some days off? What have you been up to in your leisure hours? Any cleaning or fixing up? playing some music? studying? Anything you love on TV that you enjoy watching?!

Have you been well physically? emotionally? spiritually?

What do you think of the winter olympics? been keeping up? (me -- just minimally, very little)
Are you excited to think that spring isn't far away?!

What's your new favourite little thing these days? a tool. . a make up product. . . a favourite item, book, CD, fave breakfast cereal, etc.

Do you have any comforting winter rituals that you enjoy? like putting on your robe and slippers and curling up? maybe going out to do some kind of winter activity, then warming up afterwards?

How's your car behaving these days? good, i hope!!?

Are you cooking up plans for vacation time sometime during this year?

Seeing your friends? Entertaining?

Are you volunteering any place? thought about it? even donating blood or something? food for the food bank, etc? sponsoring a child in another country?

Seen any good movies at the theatre lately? Any on your must see 'big screen' movie list?
Rented any good ones?

Well, i'm kinda sleepy. . .so i'll sign off. . but I really hope that you're having a good week!

bye for now.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Eri Fairy

This is our little granddaughter, Eri. She just turned 2 on Feb 8. . . (this picture is a few months old) Today was a combination Valentine's Day bash and Eri's b'day bash!! We dined on chicken cordon bleu, twice baked potatoes, cauliflower with a cheese bechamel sauce and peas.

Dessert was a delicious chocolate/strawberry cream cake (made by Auntie KK!) decorated with little heart gummy candies circling the bottom and teeny heart-shaped sprinkles on top (which Erica called "baby candy") We had cranberry/raspberry sparkling juice and shortbread iced heart cookies with the most beautiful, large, red strawberries ever!

There were gifts: my little ponies, dora pj's, pretty clothes and shoes, bedding for her new bed, an artist's desk (she's really into drawing) even a big wheel from her Mommy and Daddy! We played with balloons and parachuted a sheet over the kids, which they found very exciting! Then we bounced balloons on top of the sheet and whipped them into the air. Mike wrapped the kiddies up in the sheet and carried them around the rec room like a shopping bag, which made them squeal with laughter. Who would think that a simple flat sheet could be so versatile and fun?! Finally, we put on fiddle music and danced!!! Lots of photo ops!

There were treat bags to take home, containing delicious Reid's chocolates, jelly beans, fruit leather, little toys, valentine's crazy straws and for the grown ups, Tim Horton's coffee shop gift certificates, picture frames, chocolate and candies PLUS beautiful carnations for the women!

All's quiet now. Linds, Mike and the kids are home, KK's gone dancing with her girlfriends, Mom's gone home and Rob is watching hockey. I read my book for a bit, but I'm sitting now at the computer, here in the dining room, and as I look around I smile , remembering our party and I smile as I take a good look around at the baby pink and white streamers criss crossing the room -- the centrepiece of pink tulips and candles on the table, clusters of pale pink, white and red balloons, tied with valentine ribbon hang from either end of the curtain rod and from the chandelier. Beautiful remnants, which I'll leave for at least another week, because I love decorations so much! We all had a lot of fun -- what a great day!! Eri's had her 2 celebrations in one week. We're not so sure she really understands being an age, we're not sure if she understands why all of a sudden she gets this big cake with candles and gifts?! But she was soaking it up! She enjoyed ripping the paper away from the parcels and taking the tissue out of the gifts bags to discover so many cool things! Oh, i'm enjoying these little honeys now while they still love to come to Nana and Opa's house!. A time will come when they will grow up and be busy with their friends, I know. I'm not wishing anything away. . . grateful for every hug and kiss and happy time we have!!!

As Valentine's Day approaches, I hope that you think of love and life and I hope that you celebrate like crazy !!!!! Pour it on like there's no tomorrow. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 04, 2006

love songs say so much

"I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow." That was going through my head while i was working this morning. Great little love song, don't know off hand who sings it? I thought about the words and i gradually started to become very impressed with them, really impressed. Of course its coming up to Valentine's Day, of which I am a HUGE fan!!! I start focusing on love and hearts and glorious sentimental stuff. I never really need to be nudged to do so. . .I'm pretty mushy every day of the year. Back to the love song -- You know, this one line says everything. I think its the most full of promise, optimistic, committed love song ever penned. For one thing it covers all time. . past, present and future! Not every love song takes the long view. It says that love is alive and increasing!!! How sweet is that?! Never lessening, going from 'good' (yesterday) to 'better' (today) to 'best' (tomorrow). Its the boldest declaration of love, outside of the Bible, that i think i've heard. I would even go as far as to suggest that its the 'gold standard' for all love-ers and love-ees, which would be the lot of us!! Who doesn't want someone to say that to them? and live that out with them? Ahhh, that's the stuff we want.

I thought about love and then tried to separate the romanticism from the essence of it. Not easy, but its do-able if you make a conscious effort and what did i end up with when i did that? Well, more questions!! They went something like this:

Is the essence or the 'guts' of love something i can have for everyone? is that even possible? If I'm leaving God out of it, no, its not. . 1 John 4:7&8 "Love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they belong to God and that they are getting to know him better. But if a person isn't loving and kind, it shows that he doesn't know God, for God is love." So if say yes i can love everyone, then why do i lock my heart up and give only some people the key? self protection? fear? trust issues? past hurts?. . I give the best of my heart to the people i know who have passed these tests, and the others. . perhaps i ration some 'love' to them. .give them a little spoonful, cuz that doesn't cost me much and i probably wouldn't miss it.

Another song came into my head at this point. . because as I thought that even though i do feel for others and feel sorrow when they are sad and joy when they are glad and do what i can to help them, I still know of my deep-down tendency to be a miser. I have a lifestyle, but do i have a 'lovestyle'. . is generous love my 'm.o.' ? Would people say that's true of me? If not. . do i know what love is?

"I wanna live, I wanna give, I've been a miner for a heart of gold. . . .I've crossed the ocean for a heart of gold. . " How dogged and desperate!!! that's huge desire there. I wondered did Neil Young mean that he wanted to find someone who possessed such a heart? Or did he himself want to possess one? or both? imagine searching and searching for this? Imagine crossing an ocean for it? digging, digging, mining, growing old? This sounds like life to me . . . Maybe he wanted to find God and couldn't?Maybe he longed for a good friend and couldn't find one? Maybe he wanted his soul mate and couldn't find her? Maybe he wanted to be more loving himself? Maybe he needed to feel 'home' like love makes you feel. . that comfort and feeling of acceptance, knowing it would never diminish.

I didn't expect myself to be so affected by a few phrases from a couple of songs. . but songs have this power to stay with you. You know, thinking about these words was such a challenging thing for me today. I can't believe what they triggered -- thoughts like: "Why is it usually easy to love the ones who make it 'worth my while' to do so? Do I risk loving the ones who don't?" This is really the test. I guess I can say that I'm just so glad that there are 'make-up tests' in this 'subject'. . every day is a make-up test if you think about it and every day brings chances and choices to love and live it and choose it. That was bigger than I had intended. .but not nearly as big as it could have been. I don't think there's a bigger thing than love. Nothing is any good without it. Nothing withstands as much or hopes as much as love does. Nothing gives as much. Nothing means as much. I didn't really do it justice. . i just wanted to talk about it a bit. Thanks for listening.

love, from me. .