Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Just learned a new phrase from the Brits ...

There's a cow on his/her ice.

It means, basically, what we Canadians call, "skating on thin ice." About to fall in a hole because you are in the wrong place or saying the wrong thing. I like it.

And a new phrase from a Fin I met ...

From the wrong tree. As in, she's my sister from the wrong tree. Meaning other family, sister in law. I like it.

My son in law says, of someone who knows how to 'press your buttons' ... he knows where your goat is tied. As in, he got your goat. He pokes you where it hurts. I like it.

Put together you might say, "My sister from the wrong tree has a cow on her ice because she knows where my goat is tied." English. What a language.

on being beautiful

Of late, when I am complimented, the "complimenter" commonly adds an addendum. The addendum is, "for a woman your age." An example would be, "You look great for a woman your age," or, and this is verbatim, "You have smooth feet for a woman OF age." Hmmmmm

Now, I am not opposed to being a woman my age, and I don't mind you noticing that I have not only survived but done pretty good for half a century of living. I wouldn't give up one year, one month, one day. Well, there was that day in '83, but we all know the 80's were a pain. ;0

So... in talking to other women who are no longer 'young' I find that many have had this same experience. It is a passage of some kind, to begin to have compliments qualified.

Think of it.... "You look good in that dress for a fat person." Or, "Dinner was great considering you can't really cook." Kind of like that.

Steve has been the greatest one for framing my life positively. Back in the 80's (yes, the 80's again) I came home with a new style I thought might work for me. I put the dress on and pranced into his presence. He looked, and thought, like a cat looking at a two headed bird, and then said, kindly, "I hope it's comfortable." We fell into gales of laughter. I took the outfit back. And that line is now our 'it is horrible' line.

So it is no surprise that this weekend I had the best compliment from Steve. We were sitting at a cafe talking about our kids, their surprising lives, our joys and hopes, and I said, about our youngest, "Do you think --- will find his life?" Without hesitation Steve said, "Of course. I found mine. And he is so much like me. I am not worried." I can always count on Steve to put my feet onto a solid hopeful place. But there was more. He smiled at me. He said, "He just hasn't found you yet."

Monday, August 25, 2008

thoughts (the program won't let me space it properly - hard to read, sorry)

I cannot tell a lie. I think they are the most beautiful girls every born. Except Meg and Kyra of course. And Flora. Well, let me just say it this way - the Elliott clan produces good women!
This has been a singular week for us. Perfect new girls born without incident. New relationships. New possibilites.
For me, the week has felt thick. Inside. Like I am stuffed too full. And that stuffing feels heavier than lighter - I have not felt light. But the heaviness is not about what we think of heaviness... not darkness or clouds or worry. Maybe just that there is too much stuffed in there and so it is a lot. By the end of the week I was seriously ill with an August bug that is going around ... which never happens to me. So in listening to my body I also know it has felt the heaviness and finally just imploded a little. Instead of spending all week serving I spent a couple days mostly going back to bed. I kept complaining that I was going to possibly die, but since everyone was occupied I didn't get much sympathy. (smile)
Then I went to worship on Sunday. I didn't really want to go - I felt tired and half ill, but I thought I might do well to go.
There is a scripture where the poet says, basically, that he was confused until he went into the presence of God. I had this same experience Sunday. I sat and took it in and participated a little, and not everything "SPOKE TO ME!" ... no, it was more like a small knowing that is what I have come to learn is the warm inviting voice of the Father to me.
I saw the loveliness of my life from the beginning to now - saw the radiant, provokative, pulsing presence of God in every moment from the birthing room years ago still scheming for my good until the birthing room today. I saw a new meaning in generations, in a family of ordinary and maybe even specially wierd people, and in the grace of a 52 year old life so full.
And I realized that the depth of meaning I seek more each moment is the journey of my own soul - and it doesn't need to be the journey of those around me. Meaning is mine to find, knowing, being aware - these are the gifts of this season for me. It is solitary but not so lonely as it had seemed.
A man friend gave me a simple word when I left KY for this adventure. It was so simple I would not have heard it if he had not repeated it three times. "He cares for you." "He CARES for you." "He cares for you."
When we are lost in the thickness of life, when our search seems lonely, when it feels like we go out to reach this person, and out to reach that person, and we step into this life and that life and give what is in us, but maybe there are is no one who at that moment is looking for us, going out of their way to reach out to us, and pull us up, it is okay. He cares for you.
So I am better than good. I wish I was a skiff that skimmed the top of the water and felt the rush of spray and filled the air with laughter ... but I am more like a barge. I carry a lot of things for a lot of people ... and I have a good weight of my own. But I hold thoseweights without regret ... they are boxes of gold. And once in a while a skiff blows past and lets me laugh and feel the spray. A skiff called Megan or Kyra or Zoe or Alaska ... or you.

Friday, August 22, 2008

on Cabbages and Kings

Well, it is amazing what a person doesn't know. I have been with a woman who has given birth and is trying NOT to lactate, and two separate doctors, in two separate conversations, in one of America's premier medical facilities, have told her to put a cabbage leaf into her bra to help prevent milk from coming in.

Two things immediately come to mind when I hear this. First, is wow - what a great natural solutions (no hormones, no painful procedures) and the leaves are a perfect size. And the second thought is WOW - medical doctors who are embracing natural remedies.

So the lowly cabbage, scorned by many and capable of causing blatant explosions within the human body has finally found it's noble raison d'etre (sp?). _____________________________________________________

on a less mysterious note ... I want to inform you that the Canadians have won 17 medals with three golds, and two divers still in the semi-final. I know you don't know about this if you live in America - because mostly American coverage is just that - coverage of Americans.

Yes, we have some good swimmers and a darn hot women's wrestling team - stay clear of those Canadian girls! And it is worth noting that Canadian athletes have to work harder because of the psychological trauma of their outfits ... again a Canadian debacle. Not since Roots was chosen to design the outfits and then set a winter's fashion trend with red berets has Canada had an 'honorable mention' in fashion design for the games. Sad, but we Canadians are strong and brave, being used to overcoming perpetual challenges - such as WINTER and a place in world politics just slightly behind Uzbekistan. Just look at this picture ... it is 'The Right Stuff' all over again. Basically, the Right Stuff wearing the wrong stuff. sigh

So for you world citizens, keep in mind that there are over 200 nations doing amazing things, and 77 who've won medals. Not to mention an athlete who won his nation's first ever medal. A proud silver. Sadly I've already forgotten which man and which country. So this little diatribe is not being given from high moral ground. From down here on the plain I am waving my little Canadian flag - GO TEAM CANADA!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

true love

"The adolescent in me wants either an easy romanticism or a special kind of suffering, of which I am the center." (Alan Jones)

Today I spent an hour in beloved books - books on spiritual life and soul making. When I come upon a sentence like the one above I burst into laughter at the beauty and truth of it - in a few words the writer nails me right where I live in I just revel.

Which reminds me how much I love to research, how totally joyful the quest to understand is to my soul, how I love reading and books, how I miss having study as my main work.

Mine is a life that is at least partly post-modern. Unlike some of my contemporaries, this is not a fearful but an explosive joy for me. It means, in my admittedly simple understanding, that the roads of the future are littered with random discoveries waiting for me.

The year my youngest was born several stars converged for us. We moved to a small town in Alberta where we could live well with one car. We inherited from an old barn an antique bike with one gear and a peddle that went 'clunk' every time it was forward. And I had the other two in school. So I would put my little one on the not safety approved kid seat and we would peddle around town. Every day. For five years. I played a game with him that we were looking for treasure. If he saw something that caught his eye we would stop and pick it up, always returning home with pockets full of feathers, rocks, bits of flotsum that the earth had coughed up.

When he went to school he had never watched Sesame Street, didn't quite know his alphabet, and had a lion sized imagination. His teacher was initially disappointed in him for his lack of book knowledge. Later she said he was the most secure child she had taught.

That aside, I am still looking for treasures, one of the best being the discovery of a pure thought that puts music in my heart. This fall I have the chance to revisit some of these old sources and suck the juices again.

Monday, August 11, 2008

on being at the office early

I woke up at 4:32 a.m. and started to calculate the amount of work waiting for me, needing to be accomplished before I go to Rae's on Friday. My September and October are crushingly full. How did that happen to a person committed to rhythm and gentle living?

So I got up, cut some watermelon for The Girls, packed my briefcase which was anything but brief, and lumbered over to my office.

Our department has the best asset - a very smart fun guy who comes in before dawn to clean our mess and make the place look inviting. Good thing he was here to smile and me and unlock my office - forgot to reload my purse with office keys etc.

And the quiet in here, as I sit alone, is pervasive. In the first hour or so I made great hay. (That's like Rumplestiltskin making gold from staw. Like 'making hay while the sun shines.' ) My weekend was glowingly summer-esque and sit-around-ish. Today is pay-back. ;-)

So here's to a productive day - meetings, thinking, writing, planning.
I've attached this slightly scandalous picture for those who feel, like me, that this blog is painfully boring. But what can you expect from a Monday? Monday is back at it - git'er'goin - swing that axe kind of thing. It'll get better.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

on saving ugly things

I kill certain bugs. And I tolerate certain damage from critters. My choices are capricious. The bugs I hate are Japanese beetles. If I have a big hole in my flower garden and I think it might be a groundhog, or a bunny, I smile.

Having the girls here I see their kindness to all creatures. (Although they have come to my side on the Japanese beetle thing.) But even a spider on the back porch - how can we save it?

I read this poem by Thomas Lux. It is called Tarantulas on a Lifebuoy.

They usually drown - but
if you want their favor,
if you believe in justice,
a reward for not loving

the death of the ugly
and even dangerous (the eel, hog snake,
rats) creatures, if

you believe these things, then
you would leave a lifebuoy
or two in your swimming pool at night.

And in the morning
you would haul ashore
the huddled, hairy survivors

and escort them
back to the bush, and know
be assured that at least these saved,
as individuals would not turn up

again someday
in your hat, drawer,
or the tangled underworld
of your socks...

My daughter occasionally has a drowned squirrel in her pool in the morning. She laments, even as she fights them off her bird feeders. Perhaps she should try the lifebuoy idea. I know The Girls would go for that.

And heaven only knows how much I need that lifebuoy, especially on days when I am ugly and I feel like I might drown. Something to climb on that was put there out of love, or at least concern, and someone to haul me to shore and out of my soggy airless mess. And take me out to lunch, or even for a coffee. That would be a good gift.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

what a poet looks like

My son is a poet. He doesn't look like a poet. He looks completely usual.

He doesn't 'dress up' in poetry clothes. He wears jeans - and only buys them at Good-Will even if he has a pocket full of money. Which he doesn't often have. Because he is a poet and people don't think poetry is worth as much as basketball, for instance.
He has one pair of shoes. When they wear out he buys another pair of the exact same shoes. He has a lot of underwear, all the same style. (I know because I have folded them all when he does his wash in my washer.) He seems to value having abundant underwear, and also white tee shirts. (Maybe a clean white tee shirt and fresh underwear makes him feel rich like having soft toilet paper makes my husband feel rich.)
For whatever reason, he has dozens of tee shirts and a pile of underwear. He pulls a clear white tee shirt over his head every day - even a hot summer day - with jeans or shorts and then pulls on a button-up shirt.

He seems to have possibly three button-up shirts, all sort of old-man-ordinary. Bought at Good-Will. He cuts his hair over the toilet with a hair buzzer contraption he bought at WalMart. He is pretty good at getting it all even.

So his outside self is not particularly jaunty. No quirky arty affectation. But his mind is full of words. His eyes see and his soul feels and his words find those things and he writes them. Even if no one reads them he writes them because if he didn't his head would become too full and words would fall out his eyes and nose.

And he has a big smile. It is a smile you don't always see, because he has a well nourished melancholy streak. But when he smiles it is a big wide embracing smile.

His eyes sometimes look bleary. Not because he has been on a bender, but because he has allergies. Ordinary, everyman kind of grass and pollen allergies. The gift of a poet is hidden inside this allergy inflicted, running shoe wearing, ordinary body.

And sometimes when I read what he writes I cry.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

a rant

Can I just say (and I warn you, I am in a pretty foul mood) that I am sick and tired of all the spiritualizing and dishonesty about life that seems to be so rampant in communities of religious or faux-religious types. While I am very much a believer in the transcendent, and the possibility of life having elements of transcendence at any given moment, I am weary to the bone of people who use some kind of non-human spirituality to keep from accepting responsibility for their choices, and avoiding having to be honest about life, the life they themselves are building. Hiding behind spirituality is an odious offence.

Life is fabulous. Even on a very bad no good quite crappy day. There is always something new and interesting, including people (met a really fine woman from Kenya this am ... think we could be friends), and as well, there are plenty of problems, most of which we create for ourselves. But there is no need to stick a piety and prayer sticker on every errant heartbeat and every mis-step to get ourselves off the hook.

Own your own life (as I've told my kids a thousand times). If you make a choice, make it boldly and live with it. When you say something say the truth. If you choose not to go into someone's insanity, don't apologize. Just be your own idiot. Things work out so much better that way.

And when a day is really quite awful and you feel like you have sand in your veins and a melon for a brain, just be there. If you are lucky you might get to play volleyball in the sand and eat the melon afterward.

Which makes me think of Bunson Honeydew, the melon head from the muppets. Which is a good place to end. Talk to you tomorrow.