Halloween

Rituals change!  Tonight was the first evening I’ve been completely on my own to carve the pumpkin.  I was a tad teary at the kitchen sink…recalling the years and years with my three precious children…their excitement…the bit of a rush and panic between work/dinner and the door-to-door.  Usually the costumes were prepared the night before…but finishing touches like make-up and hair had to be addressed and always there was the connecting with friends.
 
I called my Dad up…it’s what I could think to do.  He used to carve the family pumpkin with us…always the same…and so I went about it, on my own, in the very same way.
 
When I open the family albums, the rituals of the seasons mark the various joyful experiences we have shared; the pumpkin carving was one of those.
 
At the end of my teaching week last week, I carved pumpkins with sixty students.  My Grade Nine class has buddied with a class of Grade Twos again this year and our projects are aptly called Faith in Action projects.  The Grade Two students were thrilled to have shared that experience with ‘big kids’ and were proud as can be about their pumpkins. Tonight my kitchen table is covered with individually wrapped roasted/salted pumpkin seeds…tomorrow I will give them to the kids, a reward for their efforts.
 
Tonight was a special night.  I learned that I can do special rituals "on my own" and that warm memories stick.  I am never really alone.

Wintersong by Sarah McLachlan

A new song for me…so beautiful!  I love the nostalgia around the lyrics and think it is a beautiful melody.  This might be an idea for gift-giving…a Christmas collection by Sarah McLachlan.

Sarah McLachlan
Wintersong

The lake is frozen over
The trees are white with snow
and all around reminders of you
are everywhere i go
oo oo oo oo oo oo oo oo
It’s late and morning’s in no hurry
but sleep won’t set me free
I lie awake and try to recall
how your body felt beside me
when silecne gets to hard to handle
and the night too long,
and this is how i see you
in the snow on Christmas morning
Love an happiness surround you
as you throw your arms up to the sky
i keep this moment by and by
oh how i miss you now
my love
merry christmas, merry christmas, merry christmas, my love.
Sense the joy that fills the air
and i daydream and i stare
Up at the tree and i see
your star up there,
And this is how i see you
in the snow on christmas morning
love an happiness surround you
as you throw your arms up to the sky
I keep this moment by and by.
 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

 
I looked out on a very snowy day this morning when I woke upthe white stuff was whipping about and the ground was covered!  Three bits of red shone in the whiteness; a bright Halloween decoration that covered one door across the street, my red tail light and a small tail light on a truck across the street.  The three striking shapes of red created a visual triangle on a composition of white and silver vehicles.  The branches scratched up against the window, blowing, and were brittle fingers in the icy cold.
 
A good day to curl up in flannels on my sofa and read.  By end of day, I had read the Hosseini fiction, The Kite Runner.  Truly, a remarkable book, rooted in a tradition that we all need to learn more about.  I enjoyed the historical aspects and feel somehow more informed of a culture I knew little about before picking up this one.
 
From his own website, Hosseini shares these thoughts upon his own visit to Afghanistan. 
 
“The line between Amir’s memories and my own began to blur. Amir had lived out my memories on the pages of “The Kite Runner,” and now I found myself living out his. When I was driven through the once beautiful, now war- ravaged Jadeh-maywand Avenue, past collapsed buildings, piles of rubble and bullet-pocked, roofless walls where beggars took shelter, I remembered my father buying me rosewater ice cream there one day in the early 1970s. And I remembered that Amir and his loving servant, Hassan, used to buy their kites on this same street, from a blind old man named Saifo.
 
I sat on the crumbling steps of Cinema Park where my brother and I used to watch free undubbed Russian films in the winter and where Amir and Hassan had seen their favorite Western, “The Magnificent Seven,” no fewer than 13 times. I passed with Amir by smoke-filled, tiny kabob houses where our fathers used to take us, where sweaty men still sat cross-legged behind charcoal grills and feverishly fanned skewers of sizzling chopan kabob. Together we gazed up at the sky over the gardens of the 16th century emperor Babur and spotted a kite floating over the city.
 
I thought of a sunny winter day in 1975, the day of Hassan and Amir’s kite-fighting tournament. That was the fateful day when 12-year-old Amir made a choice and betrayed his adoring friend Hassan, a day that would haunt him for the rest of his life; his choice would draw him back to Afghanistan and the Taliban as a grown man seeking redemption. And as I sat on a bench at Ghazi Stadium and watched the New Year’s Day parade with thousands of Afghans, I thought of my father and I watching a game of buzkashi there in 1973, but also of Amir, who had witnessed the Taliban stone a pair of adulterers in this same stadium, at the south end goalpost, in fact, where now a group of young men in traditional garments were dancing the atan in a circle.”
 
 

Max Showed Up

Max showed up!  I was sitting on the sofa, looking at Laurie-dog.  He’s such a contrast to the red sofa, black and white and beautiful.  He’s into his fourteenth year…and actually looking very well.  You’d think from reading the blog and seeing my photo albums that "Perhaps, she’s one of those animal kooks!"
 
Really…I’m not!
 
But, I certainly have an appreciation.  I was leaning back, sipping a small glass of white (I never drink white, but it was in the fridge), when I found myself saying out loud, "What am I going to do when I lose you?"
 
Laurie-dog looked at me as though he understood.  But, at the same time, he seemed resigned because, to that question, there is really NO GOOD ANSWER!
 
I could see from my seat, one of my neighbours approaching my front door, mouthing the words, "Is this your dog?"
 
I stepped out front to find the most beautiful border collie…a male…at the front…like some big gollumphing gift!  Reading his tag, I noticed a number and welcomed him into my home to visit with Peanutmeister and Laurie-dog.  He had the ‘roam’ of the place for almost a half hour, but chose to tuck his butt in against me…feeling obviously disconnected and embarrassed.  I made my phone calls as he snuggled up against me and was so happy that he was tagged.
 
Having made contact with the hospital where he received his rabies shot, I handed out my phone number and name and hoped that an owner would be in touch.  The vet told me, "His name is Max…and thank you!"
 
Well…the minutes that I had with Max were magical!  What a precious man he is!  We had a brief connect, some water, some food…and you know, some companionship!
 
When his Dad arrived, it was bittersweet…"You know, I said, it wasn’t important to me that you came…I would have taken care of him." He said…"Yes, you know, I can tell."  Max was a piece of magic today.  I’m grateful that he became an answer…and Laurie curls up on the sofa here as I type. ;0)

The Heart of the World

 
There are many of you who are not all that fascinated by the Oprah Winfrey program or initiatives, but yesterday, as I chilled out after school with my 19 year old daughter, we were stuck on that page of the television and it led to some pretty engaging reactions and discussion.
 
The program was called "Moms Around the World" and this morning I’m feeling pretty proud to be one of those and to know so many Moms who inspire me and teach me lessons about the truths of life.  It matters NOT where in the world mothers live, they hold the same notions about their children and survival…about loss and life…about working toward a more nurturing and loving world.
 
I know!  I know!  It ALL sounds like a generalization and a tad idealistic (after all…what about the heroin addicts…to use a larger-than-life example)…but I suppose if you don’t want ideals, you need to read someone else’s site…that’s just how and who I am.
 
Do you think it’s an unfair generalization?  This entire entry should have waited until May…Mother’s Day and all that, but I DID hope that my readers might access a section of the link I provide above to view some of the mother’s stories featured on yesterday’s program.
 
After a shared response, my daughter and I cuddled on the couch wrapped in her comfy blanket and watched a portion of the movie, Something’s Gotta Give.  I hadn’t realized until just the other day that she hadn’t seen it.  She continued to watch once I headed out for my two hours of karate and when I returned, she was so happy about the acting in the movie.  We particularly liked the fact that human beings should ‘jump into’ loving others…not hold back…not try to save yourself from the hurts along the way…as they help to form a deeper, more loving person!
 
I send my blessings out to my Mom this morning…and to all mothers.  Keep on chugging!  It’s ok…just give it your best stuff!
 
 
 
 

Tom Waits

Dumb song maybe…it comes to mind right now….
 
I wonder if some months ago I didn’t also publish these words…wow, they must be somehow in my heart.  The words work at the moment.
 
Well you gassed her up
Behind the wheel
With your arm around your sweet one
In your Oldsmobile
Barrelin’ down the boulevard
You’re looking for the heart of Saturday night

And you got paid on Friday
And your pockets are jinglin’
And you see the lights
You get all tinglin’ cause you’re cruisin’ with a 6
And you’re looking for the heart of Saturday night

Then you comb your hair
Shave your face
Tryin’ to wipe out ev’ry trace
All the other days
In the week you know that this’ll be the Saturday
You’re reachin’ your peak

Stoppin’ on the red
You’re goin’ on the green
‘Cause tonight’ll be like nothin’
You’ve ever seen
And you’re barrelin’ down the boulevard
Lookin’ for the heart of Saturday night

Tell me is the crack of the poolballs, neon buzzin?
Telephone’s ringin’; it’s your second cousin
Is it the barmaid that’s smilin’ from the corner of her eye?
Magic of the melancholy tear in your eye.

Makes it kind of quiver down in the core
‘Cause you’re dreamin’ of them Saturdays that came before
And now you’re stumblin’
You’re stumblin’ onto the heart of Saturday night

Well you gassed her up
And you’re behind the wheel
With your arm around your sweet one
In your Oldsmobile
Barrellin’ down the boulevard,
You’re lookin’ for the heart of Saturday night

Is the crack of the poolballs, neon buzzin?
Telephone’s ringin’; it’s your second cousin
And the barmaid is smilin’ from the corner of her eye
Magic of the melancholy tear in your eye.

Makes it kind of special down in the core
And you’re dreamin’ of them Saturdays that came before
It’s found you stumblin’
Stumblin’ onto the heart of Saturday night
And you’re stumblin’
Stumblin onto the heart of Saturday night

 
 

Reading

I’ve read 120 papers written by my grade nine students…not a bad day, but I’m only at the half way point with these two assignments.  The smell of Sunday’s roast beef still fills the house and I sip on my sleepy-time tea. It somehow feels cozy, but I look around and feel as though there is chaos everywhere as a result of the intense day at the kitchen table.  At times it’s hard to figure out a balance. 
 
This morning I was responsible for the first reading at church and I have to say, I’ve been clinging to the words all day.
 
Wisdom 7: 7-11
 
I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
 
I preferred her to sceptres and thrones,
and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her.
Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem,
because all gold is but a little sand in her sight,
and silver will be accounted as clay before her.
 
I loved her more than health and beauty,
and I chose to have her rather than light,
because her radiance never ceases.
All good things came to me along with her,
and in her hands uncounted wealth.
 
Wisdom…asking questions…searching…looking…being aware…loving…giving…discovering…being full to the brim, always and forever.
 
Now, with a late-night call from my son, I’m off to the train station to pick up my boy…sigh…
 

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant

I just finished reading a beautiful book, The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant.  It was exquisite in its development of the female characters and of course, for me there is always an eloquence when links are made between art, writing and spirituality.  The female, born with such a desire to create drawings and paintings, is challenged to live her authentic life.
 
The reader becomes consumed by the mystery of ‘The Painter’ and is somehow disheartened when, at the end, his letters stop.  While I felt that the final resolution did not support the traits created by Dunant for the protagonist, it is of little consequence to the rich and sensual experience of the read.
 
 
Here are guide questions released by the publisher.
 
1. Alessandra has the will and the talent to be a painter. However, she does not have the training or the social opportunity she needs. How well does The Birth of Venus explain why there are no women’s names in the great roll call of artistic geniuses of the Renaissance?

2. The image of the serpent with a human head is a motif that runs through the novel in many different forms. What are its guises, and how does its meaning shift as the novel progresses?

3. In their own ways, both Alessandra and her mother subvert and rebel against the world they live in. Which one of them do you think is the happiest or most fulfilled?

4. The only character in the novel who seems to have any real freedom is Erila, so it is ironic that she is a slave with no rights or apparent power. How is it that she is able to walk an independent path when those around her are so trapped by their circumstances?

5. Lorenzo the Great dies early on in the novel, yet his spirit and that of his family stalk the book both politically and culturally. What does the book convey about him and the impact that the De Medicis had on Florence?

6. Alessandra’s entire world is contained by her belief in God. Yet at the time in which she is writing, there seem to exist two different versions of God, the one that prevails depending on whether the believer is a follower of the Renaissance or of Savonarola. What does Alessandra see as the difference between the two versions, and how fairly do you think she judges them?

7. To what extent is Savonarola the villain of the novel?

8. To what degree is this a novel about a city as much as a character?

9. The novel contains many different kinds of love: intellectual, spiritual, sexual, maternal. Which moves you most and why?

10. Alessandra and her brother Tomaso are at odds with each other from the beginning of the novel. To what extent should we trust Alessandra’s judgment of him, given that they are in competition for the same man?

11. How much sympathy do you have for Cristoforo as a character, and what image of homosexual life in Florence do you derive from his thoughts and actions?

12. Alessandra’s marriage, though painful in some ways, is in other ways quite fulfilling, given the confines of the time. In an era when women were seen as fundamentally inferior, do you think it would have been possible for them to have an equal relationship sexually and intellectually with men?

13. In the fifteenth century there was no word except "melancholy" for the mental state of depression, and there was no treatment for it. How different would suffering from depression have been in a time when all meaning was seen to emanate from God? And why does the painter fall into that condition?

14. The convent described at the end of the novel is based on real records and real places. If you were a woman in fifteenth-century Florence, would you have preferred to live outside or inside its walls?

[Birth of Venus Prints by Sandro Botticelli]

Ballet

I took my daughter to the Alberta Ballet last night at the Jubilee Auditorium.  We were in a bit of a whirlwind leaving, but managed to dress the part for a special evening out.  I was excited to be sharing in something that she loves so well, dance!
 
It was a special evening for the ballet and the premiere of this particular version of the Carmina Burana.  But as well, we enjoyed the Rubies, Butterfly Dreams and the Winter Room.  I have to say that the pas de deux, The Winter Room was absolutely exquisite and I don’t know that I will ever see such beauty of this sort again…
 
 
 
 
 
In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke: 

 “…an immemorial sap flowers up through our arms when we love.”