Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fluffy Bread Makes The World Go ‘Round

Last night, while I was re-grinding some Spelt for bread, I started thinking about how many other people would bother doing this? What happened was we ordered some Spelt flour and at last one of the two bags was filled some very coarse whole Spelt.
It looked like the wheat dad ground in to chop to feed the pigs. It felt nearly as coarse, too. The biggest difference is I think the chop had a finer layer of flour on it than this mess.

While all this Spelt bran is healthy, it does not bake well. So we sifted it and used the bran for bran muffins, to line the bottom of pans that need to be floured as well as greased, and my husband eats it for breakfast.

We have an overblessing of it. I thought about it recently and wondered if I ran the flour through the blender, would it bake better?
It does. It’s not ever going to be light and fluffy, but it’s adequate, tasty, and healthy and that’s what’s important.

How many people know this? How many would form the thought to do this and act on? How many would care?
The problem is most of us don’t know much about flour or grain or what’s in a loaf of bread or the various other things we commonly eat. We have advertising and fast food and the silly idea that we don’t have time to look after ourselves and to care about what we ingest. We trust the food in the stores to be good and good for us and we don’t have a clue, or even want a clue, that white flour has the nutritional value of bunny fluff.

We’re so used to fluffy white bread that many people, if confronted with a loaf of the whole grain variety, would turn up their noses at it.

White flour has plenty of gluten. That’s why it’s all stretchy and bendy and rises high and light and stays together. It's what celiacs are allergic to and it's about all that’s left after all the healthy stuff is stripped away when the bran is removed.

I can’t recall offhand how many vitamins and minerals can be found in whole wheat, and I’m currently too lazy to search, but it’s something like two dozen. So two dozen healthy things are stripped away, maybe three are put back, and we’re sold fortified white flour.
It’s the absolute truth. It has been fortified. It was useless fluff to start with and then some good stuff was put in and we are gullible enough to be happy about it.

For as much as I’d like people to understand about food and what is really good for them, I understand why this simply must not be.
The last thing the world needs is an educated public. If we knew what we are were getting as opposed to what we should be getting in our food supply, then there just might be a revolution.
We’d want real food. Then we’d be healthier and we’d think more clearly. We might not need expensive health care products.
The world as we know it would collapse due to so many people, from junk food makers and fast food workers to medical personnel being out of work.

I’m sorry. I should never have brought this up. Ignore me. Go back to your fluffy white bread and for the good of the economy do not think.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Faulty Distribution, Stupid Use, The Real Food Issues

It would appear that we have an alleged shortage of certain foods. It’s hit the staples of wheat, corn, rice and the price is getting beyond the reach of the poor.
The real problem is not supply. We can feed the world many times over. The problem is we are too blessedly greedy to get it to them.
Food goes to the people who can pay for it. If you’ve got the money, then you can get the food.
This is morally wrong. Plain and simple.
It’s the same for countries. If the country has the money then it can get the food. If it has the distribution lines if can get it to its people if it wants to.
If we really cared about humanity we’d stop letting profit dictate who eats.
But what’s even more despicable is how food is used. Not only do we, that is, the western world, have more than we can eat, we form it into junk food that serves no real purpose.
I like tortilla chips, I eat them often, but they are not essential to the survival of the race.
Same with potato chips. They do not fill a true need. We’ve created the need, the want really, and then provided the product.
The amount of potatoes and corn we stuff down in empty calories or for recreational eating is obscene.
This is misuse of food and it is wrong.
People starve. We make dip.
Corn goes into ethanol and we feel all warm and fuzzy inside thinking we’ve helped the environment.
No. It takes energy to convert corn to usable ethanol for one thing, and for another we are taking food out of the mouths of the poor to make ourselves feel good.
Food gets thrown out of grocery stores every day. Blemished fruit and veggies are not sold because they are not perfect.
Restaurants throw out food they can’t use while a family down the block goes without.
All we care about is profit. We live by the rule that if we can’t make any money, then we may as well plough under the crops or let the fruit rot in the warehouse.
I wonder, if we took all the potatoes that are made into potato chips in a week in North America alone, how many people would be fed and for how long?
We could feed the world if we wanted to, but we don’t want to. There’s no money in it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Gratitude Monday – Senses of Spring

Egyptian onions poke out of the ground. They're tasty.




We went for a bike ride yesterday. It was the first time we had the bicycles out this year and it felt great. We didn’t go very far, probably less than three miles round trip, but that’s a good start.
I made sure to stop and rest during the ride. I’m happy to be out and healthy and I have no intention of messing that up by overdoing it.
Yesterday was also the first day I could smell spring in the air. I’d forgotten how much I loved that smell. It’s fresh and it’s sweet and it makes me want to stay outside.
Now that the spring snow is melting I could see bits of green growth here and there. We found the onion green and garlic green in the front yard again and ate some last night. It’s how spring tastes.
I’ve smelled and tasted spring and could feel it around me during the bike ride.
It was a simple pleasure and I’m glad to have it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More Birds

Mike took the above photo of the junco at the feeder. He, or she, seems quite serious.



The two brave robins below appeared in a tree in the front yard Thursday morning.




Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday's Child - I, Evil

(from August 5, 2007)

Apparently, I’m evil.
My sister called about two weeks ago to tell me the above. In fact, she opened with it, screeching. It was another off-cycle call, several days before the full moon and early evening. I had no inkling she'd be on the other end.

How could you be so evil?” she demanded.

When I said I didn’t know what she was talking about she told me I did so. She wanted to know why I’d called her that morning. I’d done nothing of the kind. When I said so she insisted I not deny it.

“I don’t want to die like this,” she screeched into the phone line.
“It’s not my fault I couldn’t get out of Edmonton.”
“If our parents we’re alive to know how evil you are they’d hate you forever!”

I remained calm. I wasn’t about to get sucked into her bottomless vortex of insanity and pain. Certainly reason has no place in such a conversation. It only irritates her further.
So as calmly as I could I told her, “I don’t know what you’re talking about and I don’t give a rat’s ass. Good-bye.”

I’ve reached the point where I don’t have to put up with her nonsense. Listening to her spew doesn’t seem to have much of an effect. I think that it only keeps her at her current level as opposed to challenging her to do something to better her situation.

Listening fosters stagnation. It feeds her immediate need and therefore doesn’t assist her to meet whatever her true, underlying need might be. It’s a surface solution, the cliche’d Band-Aid ® on a broken leg.
I can’t fix her broken psyche and it’s not up to me to do it. All I can do is help myself. I spent my life listening to her drone on about her problems, irrespective of her mental state, and not doing anything about them no matter how many solutions were handed to her.

Perhaps she wants help and does not know how to ask. Maybe she likes the emotional satisfaction of feeding on another’s energy.
She can’t have mine.

Occasionally a cousin will call to tell me what I have to do. Well, no. I don’t have to do anything.
My sister does not listen to me and I don’t have the legal standing to do anything.
Even if I could force treatment on her, she is violent. I’m not exaggerating. I fear for my safety around her.

This most recent conversation lasted less than 30 seconds. I’m not going to waste an evening being yelled at and whined to. Perhaps it may be seen selfish, but that’s someone else’s opinion, not mine. No one is going to look after me in this except me.

It can be argued that she needs an ear. Yes, but I don’t think it does her any good, and I don’t believe it has to be mine. I understand this is a manifestation of her illness. I don’t think she actually means it. I doubt she’ll even remember making the call.

During a recent meditation my guides told me this about the situation: “If you hear with your heart, then you don’t have to listen with your ears.”

I take this to mean as long as I understand it’s mental illness speaking and not really anything personal, then I don’t have to waste my time on the phone with her. This is my approach. Unless she has a question for me, or needs to tell me something important —and real— I will hang up.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Springtime In The Rockies

This is the high point of the hike to Siffleur Falls looking back through the valley.
We've had so much snow and bitter cold I felt the need to be reminded that it's spring and warm temperatures will return. New life will come with it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good Writing Weather

The wild wind banked and sculpted snow. Above, it made a snow shelf jutting off the house roof.


The one good thing about this spring blizzard we’ve been enjoying is I’ve gotten plenty of writing done.
Storms are good writing weather. I was hunched over my keyboard lost in trying to make my memoirs interesting to someone other than me as the as the wind howled down the street. Snow fell from the sky and rose from the ground and sometimes I looked out the window and couldn’t see the house across the street.
It allowed me to be insular. It works for me.

After two good days of writing I decided to destroy. I had two grocery bags worth of documents I’d been meaning to get rid of for a few years. Old manuscripts, car repair receipts from 1995, all my pay slips from the newspaper.

It’ll go to recycling as soon as it’s safe to venture out again, but first some of it had to be shredded.
I spent a few happy hours feeding the shredder. About a grocery’s bags worth of paper stayed intact. The other bag’s worth were shredded and multiplied into five bags of paper.
Theses were documents with our address, full names, and all the good stuff smart people need to become us if they wish. I think the chance is slim, but it’s still a chance and I’m not going to take it.

The storm broke yesterday afternoon. The sun shone. The wind still blew but it made some bare spots so the juncos went back to it bopping along the ground for their junco treats.
My husband baked cakes Monday and Tuesday and I wrote and shredded. It’s a good way to spend a spring storm.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Feeder Guests


















It's unusual to see juncos at the feeders. We get them in the yard in spring and fall, but this is the first time they've gone for the sunflower seeds we put out.
The harsh wind and fresh, deep snow has likely covered up most of their regular food sources.
They were so intent on stuffing their beaks they ignored the camera.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Gratitude Monday – Time and Time Again

I appreciate having time. I have the time to write, to meditate, to nap, to pursue any freelance work I chose, and more than anything else I am grateful I have time to cook.

I like to chop vegetables. I find it fulfilling and a good way to expend some energy. I understand not many people are going to share my enthusiasm for so mundane an activity. I say they’re missing out on one of the simple, beautiful pleasures of life.

Folk carve or whittle or sculpt with hammer and chisel and are happy creating through destruction. I create food by putting other, raw foods into smaller forms for cooking. Same idea.

Perhaps my love of tearing down to create is why I am so appalled by the latest convenience food. It’s frozen prepared veggies ready to be dumped in a crock pot. Meat may be included in the mix. I am too appalled to look closely.
Oh, it’s a great idea. You get to come home to a home-cooked meal and it may well be leaps and bounds better than most of the convenience crap-that-passes-for–food currently available.
A local store has gone a step further and offers fresh chopped veggies in a vacuum pack.
Excellent idea, but you’re paying more than $4 for a carrot, a potato, a celery stalk, a bit of turnip and some onion.

Buy them yourself, chop them in five minutes. Stick them in the crock pot in the fridge overnight or cover them with water and store them in the fridge overnight, or put them directly into the crock pot and let them cook until you get home.

Rantesque comments aside, I understand that some lives are complicated. People honestly think they lack time. As long as this is a belief it will play out in their lives as true.

I am grateful I avoided buying into the silly notion when I worked full-time that I was too busy to eat food I’d prepared myself. And I’m grateful I have a sharp knife and the time to turn raw veggies into cooked food.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Old Man Of The Swamp

This old cattail looked so fuzzy I had to get a pic. The play of light and shadow on it make it look like a forest elf or dwarf. And maybe it is...

If it's just a regular cattail and not a magical creature it can be used for food.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday's Child - Once In A Blue Moon

Last year I called my sister to wish her a happy birthday. It went about as well as one might expect.
By way of update, she eventually gave me a PO Box No. so I could send the money once the estate matters are settled, but to date she has refused to provide the postal code.

**

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Blue Moon Birthday

My sister’s birthday fell on June’s blue moon. I thought it would be a nice thing to call and offer birthday wishes. I do not normally do this. Commonly this day passes unmarked by me unless we happen to be in the same room. Ditto with mine from her.

Hey it’s once in a blue moon event. Why not? Our parents are dead and I’m probably the only family member she’s got that knew it was her birthday.
Anyway I called early--10 a.m.--and left a message.
She called by mid-evening and was taken aback when my husband answered and wished her a happy birthday.

I told her I didn’t have anything else to say. I’d decided that given the day and moon phase I’d make a change and not ask for her new address. Of course, this might have been the only time she’d give it to me.

She went through her usual litany of whines. She sort of asked me what to do about something, but then told me that I might tell her something wrong.
She apparently knew what to do two days earlier, but didn’t do it. I’m not quite sure why, but apparently this wasn’t the right thing to do any more. I don’t know why. I also don’t know what we were talking about.

I may have to call her again soon. I do need her new address. The estate taxes have been filed and all that’s left is to pay for dad’s grave cover. That’s due in September and then I’m done with the business end of dad’s death. I can pay her out and close the account.

All it leaves is an estate matter from an uncle who was also insane and died in public care. Dad’s portion will be paid to his estate.

Maybe I should leave the account open, but I need to cut as many ties with my sibling as possible. She is trying with me all the emotional games and manipulations that worked on our parents. I’ve had it with her nonsense and her games.

It was her incarnational choice to live a life off the sanity bubble, and I think whatever we had to work out from it is behind us.
I no longer believe that her life has anything to do with mine.
**
The photo is of some of last year's bog cranberries we found along the trail at Twin Lakes.
Nothing is wasted in nature as it will add nutrients to the soil for this year's crop.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Guardian


The guardian of the path to Siffleur Falls.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere

Water is about to become very important.
Why?
Because in a few years we’ll have left the Piscean age and entered the Age of Aquarius. This is the new age everyone’s been on about for the past few decades.

Whatever esoteric, interesting, mystical, metaphysical, or simply weird meanings have been piled on it aside, it means one simple thing: in 2012 the sun will rise in the constellation of Aquarius on the morning of the vernal equinox. And that’s all we can be absolutely sure it means.

It’s the precession of the equinoxes. We learned about it in school. It’s the scientific, empirical side of the new age.

It’s not the end of the world, sorry to say. It’s the end of an age just like the Taurean Age and its attendant bull worship gave way to the Age of Aries which in turn gave way after 2100 years or so to the Piscean Age that we’re in now.

Pisces is the fish. Christianity is symbolized by a fish. The Pope wears the fisherman’s ring. Several of the apostles were fishermen.

The symbol for Aquarius is the water bearer. Therefore, logically, water will be the focus of the age.
It’s getting that way already as we’re finally understanding that clean, potable water is of paramount important to the continuation of life on earth.

Will we worship it?

My guess is no. Some people will, of course. But in general I don’t think so.

Will we be concerned with having enough water to grow crops and keep ourselves hydrated and clean?

Oh, yeah.

In the meantime if someone tells you the world is going to end in 2012 he or she is wrong in the literal sense. The world as we know it will end because we’re going into a different age, but the sun will still rise in the east in 2012 and beyond. It’ll simply be doing it in a different constellation.

**
In a quasi-related matter I love running water and waterfalls. Thomma Lyn’s recent post reminded me of how much I love them so I made my own video of Siffleur Falls. It’s not the best waterfall movie ever, but it’s mine.


video

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bagged and Tagged

My cousin, the Bag Lady, very thoughtfully added me to her list of taggees for a recent meme. I like being tagged. It makes me feel like I belong in the world.
The rules-- Dog bless ‘em -- are I am to tell seven random and/or interesting things about myself. Then I have to get five blog buddies to play, too, and link to their blogs. And I have to post the rules.

My seven random things:

1. I can read upside down. My best friend in Gr. 11 could do this and I was danged if I’d let her reading skills outstrip mine. It came in handy more than a decade later when I asked a Court Clerk to look up a charge against someone for me. The charge was laid under the Young Offenders Act so she was unable to answer my question, but she kept the hard copy file open and spread out on the counter for a very long time.

2. I was a journalist for about 20 years. I never received a death threat, sadly, but I was threatened with lawsuits many times over.

3. Andy Williams is my favorite singer.

4. I will do just about anything within –-and occasionally without—-reason for the sheer experience of it. I have smoked pot, snorted cocaine, and inhaled laughing gas. I have also mixed amphetamines and alcohol.

5. I broke my leg when I was three. Dad told me not to climb up on the fence gate so I scooted up the second his back was turned. I got all the way to the top, wondered why I wasn’t to climb on it, and then fell backward with the gate on top of me. The hinges weren’t attached to the posts yet. I wore a walking cast on my left leg for three weeks.

6. I like heights, but because of the above I was scared to come back down on a ladder for many years. I climbed down frontward, if at all. If it was less than 10 feet down I’d jump instead.


7. We raised hogs when I was young. I discovered that sows could be ridden, albeit briefly, and it was best to get out of the pen immediately afterward.

I tag: Polly Kahl at Recovery Reconnaisance, Thomma Lyn at Tennessee Text Wresting, Michael at Avatar Lore, and two freebies.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gratitude Monday – Heart and Hike Edition



Siffleur Falls



It is my great good fortune to live near the mountains. Our section of the Canadian Rockies has plenty of hikes and range from easy to strenuous. On Sunday we took one on the Kootenay Plains that leads to Siffleur Falls. It’s an easy hike with only one real steep section and it is not that steep.
It’s an easy drive out, too. It’s an hour and 45 minutes from Rocky on good highway. It makes for a good day out in the mountains.
I am especially grateful that I can do this hike after having gone through congestive heart failure before Christmas and then slipping back in to atrial fibrillation in February.
Last Thursday my lungs didn’t feel right. My chest was heavy toward the bottom of my ribcage and my lungs felt like they were being tickled inside.
I spent three hours in emergency getting checked out and it appears to have only been heartburn andor anxiety.
The doctor asked me if I’d had heartburn.
Yes.
Then he asked if I’d had any anxiety.

Yes, after my lungs started feeling all tickly I sure did get anxious. I did my best to control it, though. I refuse to succumb to suggestion.
Thursday’s chest X-Ray has been forward to Red Deer Regional Hospital for a more learned opinion. If there’s anything I’ll hear about it shortly. It is my position that there is nothing to hear.
I’m grateful that I got it checked out and that the doctor was thorough. He even spoke to my cardiologist at the U of A about it before setting me free.
I’m grateful for the good care, and I’m grateful that I was able to go hiking with my husband yesterday.









Mike, who is part of the forest in his own way. And me, on the trail to Siffleur Falls.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday’s Child - The Desperate Cockroach Call

Originally posted July 8, 2007

In the fall of 2006 dad offered me “all the money I have in the world” to go and clean my sister’s apartment for her.
He sounded desperate. Said he would have done it himself except that he was old and sick.

No matter how many times I explained that a cockroach infestation required fumigation and should be done by experts, that neither Mike (I will not be alone with my sister) nor I could tolerate her cigarette smoke, and Mike couldn’t be around her cat, it wasn’t sinking through.

He’d repeatedly sent her money to get professional cleaners. Each time it was set up it would fall through. I never knew what happened. I can guess that she cancelled it or told them off or accused them of hurting her cat.
Anyway he sent her money for months, and it went to whatever. She complained to me at his funeral a few months later that he kept sending her money and she didn’t know why and didn’t want it.

Back to the call: dad begged me and he seemed quite upset that I was refusing. He went so far as to suggest that if I did it that sometime down the road I’d be happy I’d done it.
No, I’d resent hell out it and probably him, too. I didn’t say so, but I certainly thought it loudly.

He was so upset I told him I’d think about it.
That’s the absolute truth. I couldn’t help but think about it. It annoyed me for days that he thought I should go clean up my sister’s mess and be happy to do it.

I understand why I was asked: dad was plainly desperate to help Dawn even as she’d kept him on the edge of a sharp, thin emotional wedge for years. She complained constantly and blamed him for every little thing that was wrong in her life while simultaneously begging for money.

Did I resent the request?
You bet.
I’m not a martyr and I am not going to put myself in any situation where my well-being is at stake. Heaven only knows what else might have been incubating amongst the cat hair and ash trays. The worst part was dad’s unwillingness to accept that I didn’t want to do it and had good, solid reason for it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tree Spirit

Do you see the spirit face in the tree branch?
I took this pic two days ago during a hike along the trails at Twin Lakes. The tree is gnarled and has been through a lot. It looked interesting so I shot from a few different angles.
I did not know the spirit face was there.
I'm glad he is. He seems quite protective of his tree and that's good as it's a very popular trail and the trees need protection.
Please click the photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Rhubarb Triangle



I am confident spring is here. The rhubarb has risen.

The three little red points forming the triangle in this photo are rhubarb sprouts, specifically they are leaf primordia. I found them out in the rhubarb patch on Tuesday and I was very excited.

New life is growing out of the Earth, and in a few weeks there'll be pie.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cardiac 101: How To Cheat On An MRI Test

If you’re claustrophobic like me, then getting Magnetic Resonance Imaging done requires some lengthy second thoughts. I’m lucky in that I am only moderately claustrophobic. As long as there’s light and I can see my way out and I know I can get out I can usually get through it.

I had a cardiac MRI a few months ago. I asked many times just how enclosed I’d be and let it be known about my confined spaces issues. I was assured I’d be okay and it was even suggested that I could be sedated if need be.
I decided I’d be okay. I really wanted one and not just because it was a good diagnostic tool. I was curious as to what all the fuss was about.

The subdued lighting in the room was more than adequate for me. The MRI tube itself is very well-lit, enough that you could easily read in it if you were able to move your arms.
The tube is open at both ends so I could crane my neck back enough to see outside. It helped keep my breathing natural. I was only in part way, too, and my legs from the thighs down were outside the tube.

I was strapped down to a very hard board with some sort of plate over my chest. My arms were held in place by the straps that held said plate securely to my chest.

Bad idea.

I can’t have my arms restricted because it makes me panic. I asked and they were freed.

The test took an hour and the images are viewed as taken. This is good because I had to cheat a bit to get through it. You have to hold your breath as the images are shot. That’s fine. I had to hold my breath for as little as nine seconds to as much as 19 for my test. That’s not so bad for holding one’s breath.

Except they don’t tell you until you’re strapped down and slid up the tube that it’s on the exhale. Take a deep breath then empty your lungs and keep them empty until you’re told otherwise. You must also remain stock-still. The techs are very reassuring and tell you to do the best you can. My guess is the lousier you do the longer it’ll take.

Nine seconds is okay, but even as much as two seconds longer is a long time to go on empty lungs. I was told each time how long I’d have to not breathe so I counted along to keep my mind occupied. No matter how deeply I concentrated fighting for air is a natural response and I had to let some in once.
I got away with it, but I knew there had to be a better way. Hmm, I wondered… what if I leave a bit of air in my lungs?

So I did. I left enough to get me through yet exhaled enough for the images to be okay.
I’m glad I though to do this. If you ever find yourself in an MRI machine I say leave a bit of air in your lungs. That’s not medical advice and I am not a doctor. It’s something I learned from experience that worked for me and it might work for you too.
If it doesn’t, and you’ve left too much air, the techs will tell you.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Gratitude Monday – Thank You, Internet

I’m grateful to live in an age where contact is so easy. We may grumble about computers, curse them out and threaten them with defenestration, but they are a powerful tool and they make life easier in so many ways.

I’ve started doing some freelance work, another thing for which I am deeply thankful, and using the Internet has made finding my interview subjects for two possible stories easier. Two have long moved away while a third never lived here. She made the news by being lost out in the bush 15 years ago.

Simple Google searches found them. It took mere seconds. The finding part took mere seconds. The forming- the- thought- to- do- it- that- way part took somewhat longer. I still got there, though, so I’m grateful for that, too.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

April Abundance






We’re under the influence of the new moon now and you know what that means . . . it’s abundance cheque time.


The new moon struck April 5 at 9:55 p.m. here in Alberta. We’ve got a 24 window for the cheques. That means any locals who are planning to write abundance cheques have until 9:55 tonight to get it done.


Check for the new moon time in your area to see how much time you’ve got. If you forget, then write one as soon as you remember and then get back on track next month.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I Like It That These Go Together

I found the quiz over at Reb's excellent blog Sibu Pegasus Power .

It was so much fun I stole it. My results go together very well and are quite fitting.

Turns out I am this movie:


And this leader:

What movie/leader are you?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday's Child - Dishes vs. Insomnia

Originally Posted June 30, 2007, as "The Dishes."


I had insomnia for eight months in my teens. It started just about a month or so before Dawn and I stopped talking. I barely slept from late September to the end of May. That’s almost an entire school year fueled on four hours of sleep a night.

It all started when I took a nasty knock to the back of my head one day at school. A bunch of us were goofing around during noon hour and I wound up slamming my head into a propane tank.
To this day, 34 years later, I can still hear the ringing echoes vividly. The goose egg at the base of my skull and the headache kept me from sleeping for a few days. That was okay. I expected it to be over and didn’t give it much thought.

But it stuck around. The more time I spent awake the more I got to notice my sister and to tune into her growing mental illness.
A few weeks after the insomnia began we stopped speaking and my insomnia worsened. This gave me time to notice even more and it grated on me that much more.

Of all her odd behavior and hair-trigger temper what sticks with me the most is the dishes.
Mom would leave them for her to do. My sister, being nocturnal, wouldn’t get to them until the wee hours of the morning.I’d finally get to sleep around midnight, and then be awakened by the splashing and clanging at around 4 a.m. I didn’t just hear the noise; it penetrated the stillness enough that I swear I actually felt it.

It woke me up and that was it. No getting back to sleep for. I had to be up at 7 a.m. and I sure could have used the additional three hours.
This went on for months. Finally I said something to mom. Even if I had been speaking to Dawn bringing it up to her would have been pointless. She didn’t listen tome at the best of times.Mom did say something to her one day. I didn’t hear it, but I recall Dawn’s whining response, “But it’s my job.”

And that was it. Never mind about my sleep, Dawn had her job.

Oh, yeah I tried assorted medication for the insomnia. Phenobarbitol, Dalmane, Sinequan, Valium, even sleeping pills. I discovered that most sleep inducers worked only once on me. The exception was the sleeping pills which kept me groggy to the point I couldn’t take them.
So I was awakened every morning by crashing and clanging and I felt it scrape me raw.

When I told my parents I couldn’t sleep they told me to get some fresh air and exercise. Dawn’s madness ruled and I went with little sleep.
Eventually, around the end of May, she stopped doing the dishes and I started to sleep through the night.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ice Wall


The light blue green in the centre of the photo is an ice wall out on the Kootenay Plains. It's a popular spot for ice climbing in the winter and spring. The area is a good hiking spot in summer.
The trail is beside the ice wall, but it's easy, if somewhat muddy, to climb the where the winter ice was.
I thought I'd post again today 'cuz I got high speed and I wanted to see just how quick it would go.
It was startlingly fast.

Sword Pen For Hire

I was recently to paid to write.

It felt good.

The editor of the local paper approached me a few months back with the idea of doing some freelance work. He didn’t really ask. I saw him in a parking lot and he invited me to drop by the paper for coffee that afternoon. I did. Once I got there he greeted me with, “There’s my new freelancer!”

It made me smile. We’d worked together years earlier there and are known commodities to one another. He took over the position last year when the editor and co-owner dropped dead.

This arrangement works for both of us. He gets copy from me and I get money, a reason to get out and about, and a whole new set of shiny fresh publication credits. They’ll be awfully handy when I start peddling my manuscript(s) to publishers again. My old reporting credits were getting a wee bit shopworn after lo these seven years.

I feel good doing it. Physically I feel more energy flowing through me and I think my mental process have kicked up a gear or so. I’ve got a few more ideas to play with and it’ll keep me occupied for a bit.
Best of all, beyond the money and the publication credits and the energy, is knowing that the more I write, the more I will write.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Don’t Let Your Computer Talk To Strangers

I did something stupid the other night. Fortunately, my computer has lived to tell the tale.

I clicked on a link in a comment. I know better. Never do this. But I did. I was tired and lacked any sort of judgment beyond the curiosity of an innocent.
All manner of excitement broke loose and a fake site claiming to represent an antivirus program from XP told me I had all manner of viruses, worms, etc.
I was to install something to rid myself of them. A real warning came up, and red circle with an X in it, but something got installed. I tried to stop it, but I am clueless in these matters. When it did get halted a very stern warning came up telling me if I wanted my computer to be clean I’d best keep going.

No.

I ran my assorted proper antivirus and antispyware programs and everything came up clean. When I shut down and restarted this other thing came up and told me all about the 95 viruses and worms and spyware thingies I now had. The new alleged antivirus program told me if I wanted rid of them I had to register and disable my firewall. Fortunately, I am not an idiot.
I uninstalled whatever had installed itself, but it left a foul icon in the tray that kept popping up and trying to scare me with the 95 problems my computer had.
I got it to the repair shop quickly and it was found to have some spyware. It was removed and my real antivirus program has been kicked up a few notches.

I’m happy this was taken care of quickly and efficiently and with limited, if any, damages. I lost some stuff in the recycle bin. Does that even count?
I did, however, experience blog withdrawal. I was cold all day, nervous, and a bit shaky. What to do?

Well, I did some cleaning and made a new hypnosis tape that I’d been meaning to get to for a few days. I napped a bit, too, but mostly I was lost. My connection to the outside world was severed. I’d written about the importance of my blog buddies and there I was, unable to check in with them. At least I had some irony to appreciate.

Everything is okay now and I’m back on track. I’ve learned a lesson I already knew: Don’t let your computer talk to strangers.