Saturday, 27 January 2018

Just One Word

Have you chosen your word for the year?

One Little Word is a movement begun in 2006 by Ali Edwards. She chose a word in January to be her focus and guide, a word that expressed the hope she was nurturing for her year.

“In 2006 I began a tradition of choosing one word for myself each January – a word to focus on, meditate on, and reflect upon as I go about my daily life,” she writes in her blog One Little Word. “My words have included play, peace, vitality, nurture, story, light, up, open, thrive, give, and whole. These words have each become a part of my life in one way or another.” (

The movement has grown, and it has become a popular practice. Go ahead, google “one little word” or "word of the year" and see what’s out there.  You can read books, buy resources, find memes and art ideas, and take workshops on how to grow from this special word you’ve chosen.

Personally, I’ve sometimes, but not always, chosen a word for the year. One year it was YES! I wanted to say yes to the many opportunities to explore and grow that were coming my way. I created a little wall hanging printed with words and phrases and hung it on my bulletin board. It was a very good year. Perhaps the power of choosing a word for the year lies in just stating your intentions – stating it is the first step to acting on it.

Back in the busy season (aka December) I came across a quote by Meister Eckhart that has inspired me to choose a rather unusual word for this year. The quote is this:

Meister Eckhart was a 13th century theologian who rattled a lot of chains in his day.  Living in a time when the church believed a vast chasm existed between the divine and the human, he made the startling declaration that God and human beings are already bonded together, already in intimate contact. The only obstacle to our experiencing this is our consciousness of the fact. It’s as though we are surrounded by a fog that obscures the presence of the divine. We are walking through life surrounded by Love, but we just can’t see it. We know there is something missing, but how do we connect?

I know that feeling. I read that quote in early December, and wrote the above lines to start a blog. I didn’t finish it because there were too many other things that were consuming me. I was running through life surrounded by Love, but was too busy, too busy to connect with it. December sucked me up. Fortunately it spit me out again halfway into January. Now it’s time to think some more about the quote.

So I’ve decided to make Subtraction my word for the year. I have no hankering to become an ascetic hermit, but something needs to change. And subtraction is not necessarily a negative thing: it can be liberating to shuck off constricting habits, patterns of thought, and emotional scars. There’s a greater freedom in travelling light.

This week, we are beginning a 6 week road trip down south to Arizona. Road trips mean, by necessity, that you leave behind a lot of the things you take for granted at home. I am subtracting the security of friendships, community, familiar landscapes. Subtracting everyday routines means there is more time for reflection and stock-taking. What in my life needs to be discarded? We are going to have new experiences, which will challenge our old ways of being and seeing. Which of our old ways of being and old ways of thinking might need to be subtracted so we can keep growing? 

We go into this trip with our eyes and hearts and minds wide open. We’re wishing ourselves, and you, travelling mercies in 2018. Via con dios.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Three Women and a Movie

When you let three women of a certain age out loose on the town, who knows what will happen?

I’d put out an email to a group of friends: “Who wants to see “Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri” on Tuesday night? Cheap night! Only $6.”

Two were brave enough to accept my invitation. I’m not sure whether it was the pleasure of my company that enticed them, or the movie’s reputation, or the cheap price. I didn’t question – better not to ask. Whatever – it was a date. Those are not plentiful at our age, and you take one every chance you get.

Now the first thing that can happen when three women of a certain age go out on the town, is that one or more will forget the date. There she is curled up with her glass of wine, the fireplace cozy and warm, when something niggles in her brain. Wasn’t she supposed to be somewhere? It almost happened, but fortunately she remembered at the last minute. Another thing might be that one or more of them is “too pooped to pop” by 4 p.m. and is tempted to cancel out. That almost happened, too, but (it must the pleasure of my company, after all!), we all got to the theatre.

Not early enough to get three seats together, however. Remember, it’s cheap Tuesday, and the Valley is full of many older people eager for a cheap date. The early show is preferred to the late one (otherwise, you might be too pooped to keep your eyes open for the show.) So there we were, on a date, scattered throughout the theatre, waving at each other and mouthing words we couldn’t lip read. We couldn’t even have a nice congenial chat while we sat through the interminable previews of coming shows, most featuring explosions and car chases and gruesome endings. A congenial chat would have been nice -- a little gossip, a little catch-up in the news department, a little comparison about our health issues.

Then came the movie. Another thing that might happen when you let three women out on the town is that one of the women could forget her hearing aids, or her glasses, or the Obus form that make the sprung seats bearable so you don’t wreck your back. Yes, a few adaptive appliances got left at home. Par for the course. These things happen, and you have to live with it – mamma always said life isn’t  a bed of roses. So you miss a few lines of dialogue, or end up with a sore back.  It is what it is. Women of a certain age know that for a fact.

Now the movie: well! Maybe three women of a certain age shouldn’t  like a movie that contains  profanity, has some pretty violent scenes, and  jokes about the N word. But there’s something about the heroine Frances McDormand, (flawed as she is), wrinkles, bad hair, and wardrobe- impaired, that speaks to us. She is trying to shame the police into working harder to solve the murder of her teenaged daughter, and she’s not nice about it, not nice like women of a certain age should be. She’s not the “wear beige and shut up” kind of lady, and we all need to be reminded of that. Some things are worth fighting for. We’ll make mistakes, but mamma always said the best lessons you learn are when you make mistakes. (Pay attention: this is the only part of the blog I did not write with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.)

We emerged from the theatre, shaking our heads and laughing a little. This called for a debriefing, but Courtenay has few coffee shops open at night. Did I mention that our Valley is, in the words of the last census report, “characterized by a relatively large  65+ age cohort and a rising median age. This age cohort is over-represented in the region in comparison to provincial and national figures.” Really, we are just a little ticked that they would get so personal as to mention our “large” “figures”, but oh, well, whatever.  So we went to Timmies, which is open 24 hours, and attracts all kinds of other people out on the town, mostly teenagers (because the old-timers in bed already.) I texted my RS – “Having tea at Tommies. See you later.” Darn that autocorrect – then again, maybe he’d text back and say, “Who the heck is Tommie and what are you doing at his place?” but all he texted back was “OK.” I was disappointed.

Over cups of tea, the three women debrief about the movie, then get down to the congenial chat they’d missed out on, featuring gossip, a catch-up in the news department, and an organ recital about the various parts of our bodies that were giving us problems. We all looked at our watches to make sure we won’t be turning into pumpkins anytime soon, but nobody was wearing one. I had a cell phone, however, which I checked: getting close to 9, the witching hour.

This led to a discussion of cell phones and all that newfangled technology. One of the women confessed she had to ask some kids out on the street how to turn the thing on when she first tried using it. Another said that she still hasn’t figured out how to send messages – every time she tries, the phone operates like a ... surprise, surprise!...  phone, making a call that connects her to the party she’s trying to text. She displays one of her screens and says, “Hey, but I do have a personal hot spot.  Do you have one of those?” There’s a moment of shocked silence, before one of us replies, “Uh yes, but mamma says you don’talk about that in public.” The titters become giggles become loud guffaws. The teenagers at the next table look over in surprise. What’s so funny? Oh, if you only knew.

It’s hard to control three women of a certain age when you let them out on the town.

It was time to go, so after a visit to the biffy (don’t ever pass up that opportunity when you are a woman of a certain age) we headed home. Mission accomplished: a good date. And cheap, even. 
So it looks like there may be a few more of those chick movie nights in the offing. Anyone want to join us?

Saturday, 6 January 2018

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

I could write a book.

Instead, I’ll let pictures and numbers do the talking.

# of days that our home was party central: 13 (Dec. 22-Jan.4)
# of people in our family: 15 – 9 adults, 6 children, ranging in age from 3-71
# of plates of food served up for supper during that time: 128. (Sometimes some of the kids ate at their own homes.)
# of beds available for kids and grandkids who come “from away”: 3 queen-sized; number of people sleeping under our roof for 5 nights: 8.
# of thermarests to trip over in the den: you do the math.
# of ways to rearrange nativity sets: numerous

The virgin Mary is hiding in a candle holder, a wise man is riding in on a bird, and the sheep are all in a row, pretending to be dogs. At least, that's the story Grace told me.

# of times a schedule was successful: none

Aerin had high hopes for the day. I like her "be bored" entry.

# of birthdays celebrated: 2 (Jesus’ birthday on Dec. 25, Auntie Dani’s on Dec. 28)

# of  people who caught the gastro-intestinal bug that was hovering around our house: 9
Number of toilets available: 3 (Best gift under the tree: a box of anti-diarrhea medication)

But these Frisian Flag swim shorts I picked up at a Thrift Shop came a close second as a unique father/son gift!
# of dogs underfoot: 3
# of computers operating at the same time: 5 plus numerous I-Pads and cell phones.
# of cars parked out front of the house: 6-8

# of oliebollen consumed at New Year's: however many you can make out of 8 cups of flour

Oliebollen: a traditional Dutch treat served only at New Years. They are a bit like donuts, studded with raisins and apples and deep fried. Usually done outside or in the garage so the house doesn't smell like stale oil for days afterwards.

# of times we shouted Happy New Year!: 3. Once at 7:30 p.m. after watching a cartoon video with Grace, after which she went to bed; the second time at 9, outside, where we launched firecrackers, sparklers and a Chinese Lantern; and once at midnight, joining Rick Mercer's send off on TV.

# of times the vacuum cleaner came out to clean up the mess: 0. What’s the point?
# of cases of beer consumed: not recorded. (But not excessive, honestly.)
# of ways you can get away from the ones you love when it all gets to be too much:
a) get sick and hide out in bed. Not recommended.
b) go for a walk. Highly recommended – but not always possible if you’re sick. We had a few good walks with everyone, including New Year's Day when we took our family snapshot. Shortly thereafter, two more came down with the flu.

c) Hide. The RS and I slipped into the den and closed the door while the kids were watching a movie and playing games. We watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy – it was like date night! Hours later, one of the sons peeked in and said, “Oh, there you are – refugees in your own house, eh?” Nailed it, son!
d) Throw a hissy fit. This is guaranteed to clear a room very quickly, but not really recommended unless you want to throw a damper on the party. If you are fortunate, your RS will see the steam gathering and gently steer you to a quiet place where you can have a “discussion”, after which you decide that if you can’t change your circumstances, you could try changing your attitude. It works.
e) go grocery shopping. Alone. With a lot of money.

Speaking of money: the bills for Christmas are still coming in, but the cost of the memories: priceless.

The crow is wishing you many opportunities to create great memories this year. Be blessed!

Oldest grandgirl helps youngest grandgirl dress the dollies.
The ukuleles got played from time to time.

The dining room table: what would family life be like without it? Good for crafts, a computer desk, visiting, eating, playing games and more.