Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Where Did The Week Go?

It seems I’ve lost my ability read and comprehend a simple calendar.

I wrote last Friday about the sixth anniversary of quitting my job to write full time. I was wrong.
I left on August 31 and until yesterday afternoon I’d thought last Friday was August 31. Turns out I was a week early.

In retrospect last week may as well have been the anniversary. I recall not doing very much in my final days at the newspaper. Hit the final Monday deadline, of course, and wrote a final column in which I admitted my goal in life was to be completely useless, but that’s about it.

Oh, I’ve mixed up days before. Since I’ve been working at home I find I sometimes have to concentrate to sort out what day it is. Is it Tuesday? Saturday? What did we watch on TV last night?

Good thing I subscribe to a daily newspaper.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Universe Smiled

Every so often the Universe kicks it up a notch and lets you know it loves you.

Friday was such a day.

I was out for an afternoon walk in the new housing development about a block over from my house. Three years ago it was a horse pasture. Now it’s well on its way to fulfilling the commitment of 60 residential units, the bulk of which are duplexes.

I thought I’d have a look. I wandered through the newest of its streets, then cut through an alley into the older section. I decided to turn up the alley as I could see an opening in a fence that offered a shortcut of my proposed route.

I’d decided to go see if the Taber corn guy was set up for sales. (Taber is an area in southern Alberta famed for its toothsome corn. It’s picked overnight and trucked to various parts of the province for sale the next day.)

As I walked along enjoying the afternoon sunshine I saw a crisp, shiny, smartly folded, hardly used $10 bill on the gravel.
It was on public property so I pocketed it.

I continued on my walk and found the corn guy was in so I went over. I had money now.
A half-dozen went for $4. Before I handed the money over I said I’d found the bill and he should check it over to make sure it was okay. It looked real to me, but I’m suspicious of found money.

He said it was okay and wasn’t I going to buy a lottery ticket with it?
“No. I thought I’d buy some corn.”
He laughed and said he thought I was getting a better deal.

So he took the $10 and gave me back a loonie (nickname of our dollar coin as it has a loon on one side) and was peeling off a $5 bill for me when he stopped. He looked at me and said, “I’m gonna make your day.”

He took back the coin, gave me my $10, and then gave me the corn for free.

It was thoughtful, kind, generous, and completely unexpected. And he was right. It did make my day.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Six years ago today I waltzed out of The Mountaineer newspaper office a free woman.
No more early mornings leading to late nights covering events. No more weekend work. No more deadlines.

I’d liberated myself from the tyranny of a regular paycheque.
No more social interaction either. Those days were behind me.
It took some getting used. For several weeks I had this posted on my refrigerator: “Do not go to the office. You don’t work there anymore.”
I was set to devote my time to writing. My plan was simple.

1. Write a book.
2. Get it published.
3. Earn royalties.

I was so sure that by now I’d have book on the shelf. It’s what I want.
Writing’s gratifying. Getting money for it is great. But it’s the satisfaction-–I presume—of wandering around better bookstores everywhere and seeing a book with my name on it that really speaks to me.

I recall reading somewhere on the Absolute Write Water Cooler about it taking 10 years from starting a manuscript to getting something publishable published.
Seems to me this was an average. Exceptions abound. Some writers get published right away. Others never.
I choose to believe I’m somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Just because I’m not there yet doesn’t mean I won’t ever be. If this average holds out for me, then I’ve only got four more years of writing, learning, editing, submitting, and being rejected to go.

Six years ago I though it was easy. I was wrong.
Today is the anniversary of that particular bit of cockeyed optimism. I will celebrate later by making note of the rejection from Kensington that I received the other day.

Seems fitting.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Clown In The Barn

I used to see a life-sized clown in the barn right near the main door. It was drawn on the bare wood wall in the same dark blue grease pencil we used for marking livestock.

It was going to get me. I knew it would. If I took my eyes off it as I walked by it would jump off the wall and grab me.

I only used the main entrance if someone was already in the barn or walking in with me. If alone, I walked to the south end of the barn and went in that way.
When someone was with me I made sure he or she was between the wall and me. The clown would get him or her first and I’d get away.

I didn’t see it every time I entered the barn because it wasn’t really there.

I’ve never forgotten the day it was drawn. I was three years old and standing a few feet inside the barn near the north door.
A tall thin being, luminous and white, was with me. I remember she had fine features and high cheekbones. It seemed like she was robed because I see in my memory a long, slender hand reaching out from a wide, hanging sleeve.

She was drawing the clown and I did not want it. I was anxious.
“You don’t have to do that,” I told her. “I’ll remember.”

I know now that she or those like her came to see me often until that day. It was wonderful. I know I felt the best when they were with me.
But this was to be the last time. She explained to me they weren’t coming anymore. I know she told me why, but I don’t recall the reason. I guess it was so I could get on with being a kid without any disruptions.
The clown was to be a reminder. I’ve no idea of what.

The terror kicked in two years later. I was playing in the barn late one dark December afternoon and insisted to my dad that I be put in the room we were going to use to store chop. It had a door with a twist-style lock for holding the door closed and a window that was sealed off. The clown wall was just outside the door.

I’d played in the room before and really liked it there so he let me go in this time. I told him to lock the door. Next thing I knew I was screaming to be let out.

As far as I know that clown got in the room with me and grabbed me from the back.
No one else was there. Dad and my sister were a good 50 feet away.

From that day I’ve had a minor, constant pain in the lower right hand side of my abdomen. Once or twice a year it kicks up enough that it’s hard for me to move. I’ve had it checked many times. I nearly had my appendix out twice because of it.

The farm is long since sold. My parents and sister and I took a Christmas Day trip out to it and on the way I told them I used to see this clown. They didn’t say much. My sister said it was all a bizarre dream.

We asked politely and were allowed to check out the barn. I grabbed my camera and took photos of the wall and the little room that has never been used for anything and the other drawings we did with grease pencils when we played in the barn.

They’re there. Grease pencil does not wear off.

The clown drawing was nowhere to be found.

It’s never been far from my mind, but lately I’m thinking more about it. I want those beings to come back.

I miss them and I love them and I want to remember.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bedtime Stories

For 17 years now my husband has read me a bedtime story. He thought everyone needed a bedtime story and to this day I can’t find a reason to disagree. We even took a book along on a camping trip to Inuvik, NWT. It was June in the Canadian north and natural light was abundant so a bedtime read was easy.

We’ve gone though many, many books over the years. We’re just in the home stretch of finishing Manda Scott’s quadrology on Boudica, England’s warrior Queen. Next is the final installment of Harry Potter.

He switched jobs recently from running a small health food store to driving a truck. Days are long and he is usually very tired. He’s up early and therefore has to go to bed early.

The fun in the mix is my circadian rhythms have altered a wee bit. I get a minor energy surge right in mid-evening. Right around the time he needs to sleep I feel like writing.

I have a choice: write or spend time with my husband.

If I absolutely must write I can scribble out a few notes and attend to them in the morning. I can get up after the story and write if need be. Certainly there are those moments when I feel I should just get the writing done. I can always have the story tomorrow night.
Well, maybe. But the day will come when I won’t have that option.

What it comes down to is how would I rather spend my time and which would I regret later?

The only thing that matters in life is how we treat people, ourselves included. Work and money and gaining more stuff are secondary. Yes, work is important. If I didn’t think my writing was important I wouldn’t be doing it. Certainly it’s important to me.

But stack it up against time with my husband and a bedtime story? No. That’s just not a real choice.

Story time is sacred. It’s time together and it adds to our quality of life. It’s relaxing and helps us both sleep.

And who would turn down a bedtime story?
Not me. Especially now that the Boudica is about to boot Rome out of Britain and Harry Potter is waiting in the wings.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It Was Once

I used to hide when I read. Not physically, but I’d lose myself in something so completely, so wholly, that it took me away. I was sure that I’d melted through time and space, that I was within the pages, that I’d become one with the story itself.
I’ve hidden in many books, stories, and poem over the years and I was fortunate to have found so many of them here:
The Canadian Readers Book IV, W.J. Gage & Co., Limited / T. Nelson & Sons, Limited, 1931. Copyright 1921.

It was my dad’s school reader. I found it when I was seven or eight and discovered it contained everything I ever needed in a book and everything that made me know I was a writer.

I still have it. It’s got one of my favorite poems, A Hindu Fable by John Godfrey Saxe. It’s been around for quite some time in slightly different versions, but you’ll know it. It’s the poem about six blind fellows who happen upon an elephant and, after feeling a different part, each describe what the elephant is like.

It’s got famous stories and excerpts from well-loved books. I read Damon and Pythias and King Arthur’s Sword. I learned of Phaeton and The Hammer of Thor, and Christmas Dinner from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
There’s an excerpt one of favorite books, Heidi, by Johanna Spyri, and my favorite poem, The Walrus and the Carpenter, by Lewis Carroll.
But it was the Brothers Grimm who transported me with The Shoemaker and The Elves.

I could feel myself in the poor shoemaker’s shop. I felt cold and dark and it was so real to me. I’ve read the story countless times and never tire of it.

Back when I was young it spoke to me of something half-remembered as if I’d lived in the time of the poor shoemaker. I felt this familiarity in my cells.
I love this story and the feelings it evoked in me. Years ago I studied German and learned enough to read a simple version of this story, Die Wichtelmänner, in its original tongue. For practice I translated it back to English. It took me 10 evenings to do it.

Out of curiosity I compared my version with a translation in a child’s storybook and found them very close. It was a satisfying find.
It is my favorite story. I’ve let the German go although I like to believe I can still get through Die Wichtelmänner.

Even if I find I can’t, those first few words, “Es war einmal” literally “It was once” our “Once upon a time,” still transport me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Summer Gratitude

I’m swamped with vegetables. I’m hardly complaining. In fact I’m grateful.

My husband has a large garden out at his mom’s place where he grows all manner of interesting things. He’s got an orchard of assorted fruit trees and hazelnut trees. His garden has licorice and echinacea along with the assorted table veggies, and even horseradish.

Over the years he’s nurtured marshmallow root, valerian, gingko, compass plant, Jerusalem artichoke, and other natural foods and herbal remedies I’ve forgotten. Our front yard has more berries, herbs, and flowers as well as our own supply of ragweed used to combat allergies.

I’m thankful for each and every plant.

Right now it’s peak veggie season. Beans desperately need to be topped and tailed and frozen. The carrots are just rapidly approaching proper eating size and shortly it’ll be time to get them in the freezer beside the beans. The Yampa, or wild carrot, are as big as they’ll ever get and the peas, which I thought were done, are getting some new pods on.
We’ve got beets to try as well as some parsnip-rooted parsley and a few new potatoes which are going wonderful in a lovely salad with feta and chives and kalamata olives.

Yes, I’ll be busy, but it’s a good busy, and it means good, healthy, tasty food in the dead of winter.

It’s also a connection to our past and our future. Veggies have been around in some form since we were hunter-gatherers. They’ve always been collected and saved in some manner for the cold times ahead.

If we ever succeed in blowing ourselves up or scorching a major portion of the planet there’ll still, somewhere, be a patch of soil that’ll grow something.
Vegetation in some form will survive and sustain us, and for that I’m grateful.

For right now, I’m in the midst of gathered veggies that need my attention. I’m grateful for that, too.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Probate Begins

The glacial speed of government is upon us. As I posted earlier I need to go through probate of my dad’s will in order for dad’s estate to be paid his share of his brother’s estate.
This is fundamentally absurd. I’m the executrix of dad’s estate and I know no one is going to make a claim against it as there’s only my sister and me. Most of the money has been paid out with just a bit left in the estate account to cover the grave costs.

But rules are rules, apparently. Exceptions aren’t to be made.

No one was going to come crawling out of the woodwork. No one was going to contest the will. Everything was going to be fine.

However, because of this process, my sister will get a letter in the mail from my lawyer. It will advise that she has a six-month window to contest the will.

She’ll be upset. She’ll wonder what to do. She’ll ask me or yell at me or both. Obviously, I’m in a conflict of interest and can’t tell her anything. It’s my money at stake.

I don’t know that she’d do it of her own accord. I don’t think she would. But she’ll talk to her friends and some of our relatives and someone will tell her to do it.

My sister, being mentally ill, collects AISH, Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped. The Public Trustee can contest dad’s will on her behalf. There’s precedent in this Province for the AISH recipient to be award the entire inheritance.

The reasoning, my lawyer explained, is better private money than public.
Those are fine words, but AISH recipients can have up to $100,000 and still collect public money. Where is the saving to the taxpayer?

My lawyer noted that to date, when inheritances are split fairly between beneficiaries, the PT’s office hasn’t stepped in. But she further noted that just because it hasn’t happened, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

I have six months to wonder. My lawyer suggested the probate process could take up to a year. This assumes another cousin of mine, who also has to go through this infernal waste of time, gets his probate matter going right away.

Perhaps there’s a lesson for me here that I’m not seeing. I have money in the bank. I can look at the total in my bankbook. I can dream. But I can’t touch it.

If my sister is awarded it, then I have to give it to her. If I was just a beneficiary and I spent it all, then she’d be out of luck. But as the executrix of dad’s will, I’d be on the hook for it.
Today is new moon and that means it’s abundance cheque time.

Write yourself a cheque within 24 hours of the new moon in your area. You can find that out here.
Do not date it. Sign it “The Law of Abundance” and put it away.

Remember, abundance comes in many forms. It might be money, friends, love, work, time.
Perhaps today as I write it I’ll specifically ask the Universe for an abundance of speed in getting these estate matters settled.

Friday, August 10, 2007

More Wisdom From My Guides

If we each make even the smallest, positive, loving change in our daily lives it’ll have a significant impact on the energy surrounding the world.
Using the power of your mind is a good way to get it going. Meditation opens your mind. With this opening comes a newfound understanding that opens your heart to others.
“Love is incomplete without understanding and we need to understand in order to change,” said the guides.
“The only failure in life is if you steadfastly refuse to listen to the voice of your soul telling you to do more. Or that you are dissatisfied and you think more money and a bigger car and a better more expensive vacation will ease your troubles.”

“I say they will not,” said Moondrop. “They will only fill in part of an ever-deepening void in your life because your soul is not being touched.”

Instead of trying to fill the void inside you by acquiring more objects and loading up on junk food and junk information, look at your soul. In it you’ll find the way to inner balance and to becoming a love warrior.
“You don’t know this,” said the Master (Moondrop), “but on a very deep level every person alive feels the pain of another. Not in the physical sense, but on the level where all are connected it is sensed. For the more sensitive among you perhaps even a fleeting bit of despair is felt.”
“You hold God in the palm of your hand when you reach out for another,” said Geon.
“God’s love is to be given and shared. If you don’t receive it back it doesn’t matter because even when you give it you are feeling it. Love is what counts, not getting it back.”

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Everywhere A Sign

My guides explained that signs and signals from the Other Side come in many forms. It is important to know this because your trigger might not seem positive.
It might be a tragic event that spurs you on to help others. It might come from meeting someone you don’t like and that itself is a learning experience.

“They are showing you something about yourself that you don’t want to see. They are challenging you, yes challenging you, to be a loving being and treat all with love. For they are part of it too, playing a very significant role to open and challenge,” said Moondrop.

“You do not have to continually associate with these people, but you must recognize the lessons for what they are, a challenge and a call to love. This is what we ask of you, to meet and acknowledge and yes, stand atop these challenges as conquered. Conquer them with the only weapon you will ever need: Love.”

“And I hasten to add,” said Moondrop, “that even if it is someone to which you have an instant aversion, know and accept this: You are being given a sign. This emotional recognition, this is something for you to know and see and acknowledge. Beyond treating this person with love, it is well possible this is someone from your Soul Circle who has chosen to give you this lesson. You are being awakened.”

“The strength of the aversion may be to ensure that you listen, listen and learn, because you are being shaken awake. Emotion touches you deeply whether it is love or this kind of instant aversion.”

Look to your reaction. Are you drawn to this person, or are you drawn to ways to avoid this person? The guides said it’s because this person has something to teach or show you.

“There is something you need and it may be, in fact it probably is, someone who loves you deeply and dearly and to whom you have a strong emotional many-lives attachment. It may seem like adversity, but that can be the greatest teacher. So many of your greatest lessons have been from those with whom you fought, those for whom your reactions were emotional.”

“Not an enemy so much, no, not even a rival, really. Someone who touches you deeply and causes you to lay bare your emotions. Know this, know this and work with it. There is much raw material in these encounters and they teach you, teach so much.”

“Have these emotions, and thank the being who chose to live a life away from your love. Know this, too. He or she is not really away from your love at all. It is there. If there were no love, no emotional attachment, there would be no strong reaction. The opposite of love is indifference.”

Understand that there is caring and not caring, they added. You choose to feel that you despise someone and that is caring because this person has an emotional hold on you. If your feelings are impersonal, if he or she does not touch you, then it is indifference. But even with indifference, love can be found. Offer love and accept it if it is offered to you.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Let It Be Hypberbole

Saturday found me in a local drugs store stocking up on writing chocolate. As I was musing over the choices a woman came in and struck up a conversation with someone in the nearby pharmacy section. Even though my mind was on my most important concern I overheard bits of their talk.

“I don’t know how anyone could waste their time reading.”

My ears pricked up and my blood began to simmer.

“…got a friend who likes her romances. And when she wants a break, she reads something different!”

Then older of the two turned up my blood from simmer to boil. “… must have 5,000 books in my basement. Maybe I should just have a big bonfire.”


I’m all for freedom of speech, but some things shouldn’t be joked about, not after the book burnings of the last century.

Some people rescue puppies, others devote their time to saving historical buildings, with me it’s books. I don’t like to see them suffer.
I have to hold myself back at garage sales because I feel a deep need to rescue every book. They need good homes, someone who’ll care for them and gaze lovingly upon their spines on the shelf.

My breathing was rapid and shallow.
I will take your books.

I took my chocolate and went to pay for it.
The clerk noted how I was the second person that day to buy that amount of chocolate.
“It’s my writing chocolate.” I felt the need to express myself as writer and therefore someone who respects books, not jokes about torching them.
I forced myself to walk out of the store and not back to the woman to ask her to please tell me she was kidding.

Years ago I rescued a book from a fire. It’s an awful book all about conspiracy and the new world order. It’s written to charge up the emotions and that makes it hard to maintain rational thought. It’s easy to believe the lies and half-truths when you’re in a frenzy of paranoid fear.

It has a right to exist. If we go about burning books with which we don’t agree we’ll never see the other side of anything. Worse, we’ll forget why they’re so bad because we’ll have forgotten dissent exists.

Ignoring something won’t make it go away. Education makes it go away. We need to keep ideas in the forefront so they can be discussed and disseminated and argued.
If they’re good we need to know. If they’re bad we need to know why.

Perhaps this is a bit far afield from a woman who made a joke about having so many books, but there’ll be no book burning on my watch.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

From Out of Stupid

I did something stupid yesterday.

I was carrying a wooden stepladder back to the garage. It was horizontal at about shoulder level and I’d hooked my arm in it upright with my left hand bent back comfortably supporting the top bar.
That was fine. I’d done this several times already this summer. Nothing unusual here.
Then, for reasons I plain don’t get, my arm got stuck. It was wedged firmly. My hand was bent back toward my wrist at such a sharp angle it hurt.

Slight panic started to set in as there was no one nearby to help. I had visions of screaming down the street with a stepladder held out like a lance of courtesy in front of me.

Every squirm I tried made it worse. I tried pulling my hand free. No luck.
Rather than give into the panic I decided to think. It went in. It can come out.
As soon as I realized that the solution flowed into my mind: Change the angle.
So I did. I dipped it down and it took the pressure off. My arm slipped out easily.

Instead of freaking out and worrying about taking an ax to the problem I gave it calm thought.
Where did the solution come from? Me? Maybe. A guide? I don’t know, but it seems likely.
I credit my calmness to meditation and self-hypnosis. Altered state work teaches calmness and balance. Those qualities help us to think and to heed messages from Spirit.

I was reminded once again that when faced with a problem I should turn it over and tickle its tummy until the solution flows out.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Lean On Me

It's important to have someone to lean on.

Photo taken at Gregg Lake in William A. Switzer Provincial Park, Alberta.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Request Denied

It was worth a shot.

My lawyer presented an argument for waiver of probate on my dad’s will to hasten the process of getting my Uncle Reynold’s estate paid out.

It didn’t work.

Reynold died in public care. He’d been there most of his life and had accumulated government care money which is to be shared by his siblings or their offspring.

It was ready to be paid out, or so we thought, but my dad died before any cheques we sent.

The Public Trustee’s office has a hard and fast rule about probate of the estate.
Interestingly, this was a new wrinkle in the process for us. Another beneficiary died last spring, but we didn’t hear anything about this requirement until it came time for a pay out.

In fairness, a new officer from the Public Trustee’s office took over the file in the mean time. This fellow isn’t completely soured on life. I suspect that’s the biggest difference.

From the moment my lawyer applied for waiver until the request was shot down I repeated many times daily: “My lawyer’s letter worked.”

It didn’t.

I choose to believe the Universe knows better and there’s a reason for gumming up the works yet again.

So I filled out the forms and made an appointment to see my lawyer to get it done. The Public Trustee’s office has said it would help me if I wanted to file this all by my lonesome.

I don’t.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007