Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday’s Child – What Did You Say To Her?

I’ve been re-running these Prozac Palace posts with the hope that anyone who needs to read this sort of thing will find them. It’s occurred to me that readers may wish to comment, but not know what to say. You’re under no obligation to say anything. If you want to, but are at a loss, may I suggest this simple phrase: I read it.

From Thursday, May 24, 2007

What Did You Say To Her?

Ever watch anyone go mad?
I’ve had that pleasure.

I watched my sister madness grow. It took her over, and my parents and me were along for the ride. I was in my teens and still in school so clearly there’s nothing I could have done about it. Nor should I have. It was never my responsibility.

Our parents did not do anything for quite some time. In fairness, there wasn’t a lot they could do. We lived on a farm 10 miles from a village and 35 miles from the nearest medical doctor. Psychiatrists were in Edmonton, more than 100 miles away.

My sister’s insanity was diagnosed in 1976 when I was 17 and had just graduated from high school. She’d been home slowly going insane for about 18 months. Compulsive hand-washing was the chief indication. Her temper was as random and explosive as usual although she did cry more frequently.

It was frustrating to watch because she obviously needed help and my parents did not appear to be doing anything.

Granted, I’ve no clue what they could have done short of having her carted away to a psychiatric hospital. I would have happily made that call myself, but I knew I’d never get away with it.

Dad almost did something once in the spring of 1975. He’d made an appointed to talk to a medical doctor about it, but then one of his brothers came for a visit so he cancelled the appointment. I see the logic in that. What he didn’t do was reschedule. Ever. I didn’t see the logic in that.

As for me, well, in November of 1975 my sister stopped talking to me. This was a treat initially. She’d wanted to borrow money from me so she could buy me a birthday present. Because this seemed absurd, I said no and I stuck to it. I rarely said no to anyone in those days and I decided if I was ever going to stand up to her I’d best get started.

She did as she always did and stopped speaking to me. Usually I’d let this go for a few days then I’d say something to her and it would be okay. But this time I decided she could make the first move. I was done with caving every time.

It took her two years. Okay, I’m stubborn. I get that. But in my mind I was making a point. Two years of her silence wasn’t much of an issue for me, but it sure was for our parents. On at least two occasions my dad took me aside and asked, “What did you say to her?”

No matter what she did nor how many times I told them what happened, it was always, “What did you say to her?”

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Infinite Plenty

We are given all we need.
We receive what we ask for in our hearts.
For what are you asking?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Voters Poll-Axed

The provincial vote is next Monday. For as annoyed with, upset with, and sick of the reigning Conservative Party of 37 years it looks like we’ll return them to power.
Apathy mostly, coupled with mistrust of Liberals and New Democrats and, well, everybody else.

Today’s screaming headline in the Edmonton Journal feeds the apathy as well.
“Another Tory Majority In Sight” we read in big, bold black. Underneath we read in the sub-head “ ‘Enormous’ undecided bloc a wild card, poll finds.” A few sentences later it suggests these undecided voters could mean an unexpected result.

What’ll stick with readers is the screaming headline. We have lousy voter turnout here anyway and this tells us the result is a foregone conclusion. It suggests to the average person, “My vote won’t count anyway, so why bother?”

I’m all for these polls. I think they should be run and they should be publicized. I also think they poll-axe (Thank you Hunter S. Thompson. Please forgive the pun.) us into believing there’s nothing we can do. We’re stuck with the devils we know.

And that’s casting ballot should be mandatory. If every eligible voter voted, then the politicians would have to please us and woo us and actually do us some good rather than simply buying us with our own money. They’d have to prove themselves worthy rather than simply convince us they are the lesser of all the available evils.

Your vote counts.

My vote counts.

If everyone voted, then the party in power would know that they are there because we want them, not because they won by default.

Get out and vote on Monday if you wish to complain on Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Someone Sent An Owl

Whooo dares click to enlarge me?

We’ve been seeing a lot of owls lately. This barred owl was intent on lunch when we happened upon it on a recent Saturday along Highway 11.

According to Medicine Cards, by Jamie Sams and David Carson, St. Martin’s Press (1988 & 1999) owls are a symbol of wisdom in many cultures. In ancient Greece, Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, had one for a companion. Owls aid us in seeing the truth and we should pay attention to signals and omens when we see them.

We are paying attention, but what is the message?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Gratitude Monday - Pretty Flowers Edition

I was very taken with this Cattleya at the Orchid Show. Please click to enlarge.

We went to the Orchid Show yesterday. My husband loves flowers though managed to contain himself and brought only one home.
I learned to appreciate flowers and other growing things from my husband. We’ve been to the orchid show a few times and I discovered by looking closely there are some interesting characters.

Orchids look like they have faces. Some are open-mouthed, and some have buck teeth. One yesterday looked like a space alien. I regret my photo is lousy or I’d post it as proof.

I’m grateful for the flowers and the natural world. I’m grateful that for their beauty and personalities, and I’m grateful that some of my husband’s love and appreciation for all things green and leafy had rubbed off on me.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday's Child - Words

I’ve been re-running these Prozac Palace posts with the hope that anyone who needs to read this sort of thing will find them. It’s occurred to me that readers may wish to comment, but not know what to say. You’re under no obligation to say anything. If you want to, but are at a loss, may I suggest this simple phrase: I read it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Be Nice To Your Sister

What words do you want to hear? For me, growing up with a violent sibling, it was words of protection.
Perhaps a simple, "Stop fighting." Maybe go so far as a stop hitting or scratching or gouging or even yelling at your sister, said to my sister of course.
In my wildest fantasy I wanted to hear: “It’s okay. You’re safe now."
"She won’t hurt you anymore.”
“I won’t let this happen again.”
What I did hear once was, “Be nice to your sister.”

I was in my mid–teens and Dawn had been away from home awhile. She was living a normal life and even had a job. She came home for a weekend in November and shortly before she arrived my dad took me aside and said, “Be nice to your sister.”

Years later, when I was able to give it some thought, I wondered: Why didn’t you ever say that to her?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Miracle In Three Parts

Yesterday I signed some papers at my lawyer’s office and it was a miracle. It means my dad’s estate gets its share of his late brother Reynold’s estate without going through probate.

The Public Trustee’s office had insisted on probate. It was policy and no reasoned, logical argument offered by my lawyer held any sway. Time and cost aside, it meant that very likely a trustee would have to be appointed for my mentally ill sister as the Probate Court might not accept personal service of the notice of probate on her. That opened up all manner of possibilities including, but not restricted to, her challenging dad’s will.

We got working on the probate and I still asked the Universe for a change to the policy. I asked for matters to be settled without probate. I thanked the Universe for making it happen.
Last August the PT’s office changed its policy allowing for estates under $5,000 to be paid out without need of probate.

It was a miracle.

However, dad’s share was more than $5,000 so it wasn’t a miracle I could use, but it helped two of my cousins. I thanked the Universe for making it happen.

I filled out the forms, gave them to my lawyer to file, and kept pestering the Universe.
In the fall the PT’s office decided to pay out all the other beneficiaries. It was the second part of the miracle. I thanked the Universe for making this happen. I kept asking for the probate requirement to be removed and continued to thank the Universe for making the change.

Meanwhile, staffing issues at my lawyer’s office meant probate hadn’t been filed yet. I met with her in late November, went over the papers, and signed something. It was ready to go.

In December I learned from my lawyer than another change was underway at the PT’s office. In it, payouts under $15,000 could be made without probate. It was recommended we not file probate. That seemed logical to me.

Even though I had the letter I still asked the Universe for the policy change and thanked it for making it happen. Earlier this month the policy change was finalized. I signed an indemnity form and now dad’s estate can be paid out.

I asked for a miracle. I got three of them.

Thank you, Universe.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Moody Mountains

Please click on photo to enlarge.

I love the mountains. I always have and in the 20 years I’ve lived here I never found a reason to change that view.
They stand tall and strong through storm and sun. We walk them and mine them and log them and abuse them and they take it and go on.
They’re timeless and eternal and fresh and new to me each time I see them.
They’re spirit guardians for me. I feel both small and expanded when I am with them and they touch me deeply.
I hope you enjoy the moodiness of this photo as much as I do.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Gratitude Monday – Spectacular Specs Edition

I got to thinking about gratitude the other day and how to take something I’m grateful for down to its core.

I am very thankful that I am able to write. I am thankful that I have some aptitude for it, that I enjoy it, and that the circumstances of my life are such that I can devote my time to it.

Then I took it further. I am grateful that I can see. Physical vision is not absolutely necessary for writing. It’s an asset and makes it way easier I think, but it can be done without seeing.

I am grateful for all my senses and especially vision. I was terribly nearsighted years ago and had astigmatism to boot. I had laser eye surgery in 2000 and it corrected what was then 20/800 sight.

I see fine without glasses. My doctor, who’d had the operation himself, recommended to his patients they get some cheap drugstore readers to ward off eyestrain. I did so, and I later got prescription reading glasses.

Every so often I have trouble focusing up close. It happens when sometimes when I’m chopping veggies and sometimes when I’m eating. I’ve put my reading glasses on when it happens.
I decided recently I needed a pair of dedicated eating glasses. I keep them handy in the kitchen and use them as needed.

And that brings me to my new avatar/profile picture as you can see on the left. I found these magnificent magnifiers in the local Co-op and fell in love with them.

How could I not?

I looked at several pairs of glasses. Some were average to boring, others hideous, some so clear and thin I had to look twice to know they were there.

That’s great if you wish to hide the fact that you need them. I don’t. It’s a function of age and the surgery. It’s normal and normal deserves to be celebrated. Why run when you can have fun?

I looked around, but nothing on the display cases anywhere else matched these spectacular specs. I knew they were meant for me.

I don’t need them very often, but they are there when I do, and I am grateful.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Forcing Medication

I’ve been re-running these Prozac Palace posts with the hope that anyone who needs to read this sort of thing will find them. It’s occurred to me that readers may wish to comment, but not know what to say. You’re under no obligation to say anything. If you want to, but are at a loss, may I suggest this simple phrase: I read it.

From Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Forcing Medication

I wrote recently about the “can’t help it” excuse for letting the mentally ill get away with their behaviors, especially when it’s their excuse for not taking their meds.

What is the solution?

I have no clue.

We can’t force the mentally ill to take their medicine. It’s no different than forcing a treatment on a physically ill person against his or her will. If I needed a life-saving operation and chose instead to thumb my nose at surgery and go off into the bush to die, then no one could legally stop me. I’m a grown woman and it’s my choice.

I don’t want live in a world where treatment is forced on anyone. Such legislation is immoral. The potential for abuse is terrifying.

Can you imagine being compelled by law to take medical treatment? What if you want alternate therapy but someone in your family decided you shouldn’t have it? You could be forced to go to a medical doctor and undergo chemical therapy or surgery against your will. You’d lose control of your life and give control of your body to someone else who claims to have your best interests at heart.

Canada already has legislation allowing for the courts to order medical treatment of minors. Members of the Jehovah’s Witness faith have been forced to accept blood transfusions in direct opposition of their faith and their personal desires.

The argument is the procedure was life saving, but it is still an example of government interfering in your wishes and I can’t bring myself to support it.

Yes, those are fine words. I stand behind them. But to be absolutely honest with you, there are days when I wish such measures were in place to force my sister to keep taking her medication.

What do you think? Should mentally ill persons be forced by law to take their properly prescribed prescription drugs? Should they be forced into treatment? Is it wrong? Is it right? Or should we just let them make up their own minds?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Restoring The Flow

I finally got around to cleansing the energy in the house yesterday. I usually do this do this quite often, but I’ve let it go. I like to cleanse and charge the area around my computer when I’m writing something new or doing some major rewriting /editing. This hadn’t been done in months and the energy in the house itself was getting to be a drain on me.

Winter does not help. Windows remain closed and doors are only open long enough to let folk in and out. By yesterday I could sense pockets of stagnate energy, old energy, and dull energy. It had to be moved out.

Incense is my favorite way to cleanse and charge areas especially for writing and the best I’ve found is balsam root, balsamorhiza sagittata.

We collect our own. It grows in the ditches and on hillsides in Alberta and elsewhere. The flowers are pretty and stand out beautifully against the green grass.

The root needs to be dried and cut before it’ll burn. The easiest way to do this is to cut the root into strips before it’s dried. To dry, simply leave the strips out in a single layer on a towel. Keep it away from direct sunlight.

The fibers are quite dense. A stick will only burn a few moments before it needs to be re-lit. It gives off a lovely sweet scent that reminds me of the outdoors.

It does wonders for clearing away stagnate energy. Some stubborn areas needed a bit of extra work and that meant clapping to break up the dullness. This is easy. I went to the stubborn areas and clapped my hands sharply and quickly and as loudly as I could. Once the stubborn areas were done I went through the whole house to make sure everything moved and flowed. By the time I was done I was so sensitive to the energy flow in the house I could see it.

Energy is moving around me better and it has helped with the flow inside me, too. I feel better, smarter, and more creative. It has yet to translate to my writing, but I know it will.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Elections and the Divine Right to Rule

Albertans are gutless and like to be bullied. Oh, and more than a little gullible.
We’ve got a provincial election coming. This should mean we're smack in the midst of a vigorous campaign. Instead we’ve got the two largest opposition parties sniping at each other and the other two opposition parties struggling for relevance.

The conservatives have been in power since forever was just a pup, 1971. They’ve all but declared themselves as having a divine right to rule.

Every so often the party gets a new leader to perpetuate the illusion of change. The last fellow, Ralph Klein, was a drunk and a bully who lied to us and we lapped it up. He said we were getting our fair share of oil royalties. Turns out we weren’t. But if Ralph said it, then it must be so.
This is a man who went to a men’s shelter at 2 a.m. near Christmas time 2001 and picked a fight with a homeless guy. He usually went to work hung over. Even Dubya said of him, “Who is that asshole?”

Now we’ve got Stumbling Ed Stelmach. He’s a nice guy, a decent sort, and he’s got a chance to distance himself from Klein and can’t do it. It might work out for the best in that maybe voters will get disgusted with the benevolent dictatorship and vote in a healthy opposition.

I know better than to believe it’ll happen. I have hope for a new party in power, but my province is a one-party state. We actually buy the nonsense we’re fed by the ruling party that there is no one else capable of running the province. It’s because they have no experience, we are told. Ralph told us this, therefore it must be so. Well, how can they have experience when the conservatives have wielded the bludgeon of power for 37 years?

Plenty can happen between now and Election Day March 3. The only opinion poll that matters is the one in the ballot box.

The conservatives took over in 1971 after 36 years of Social Credit rule. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get someone new running the joint next month.

I have hope. It and my vote are all I’ve got.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Feeling Un-Charitable

Warning: contains uncharitability toward charitable organizations. If you are offended easily, please go play with a puppy.

Dear Non-Profit Body Parts Associations:

Stop contacting my dad. Deceased means dead.

Thank You.

My dad is still getting requests for donations even though the organizations in question have long been advised of his demise.
Now that’s optimism.

He gave money to a wide variety of organization like STARS Air Ambulance, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Kidney Foundation, assorted cancers, World Wildlife Fund, and many others. Good for him.

I had his mail forwarded here after he died and got several requests over the months. I sent them back with his name circled with the notation “party deceased.” Each handwritten note included a request to please remove his name and all permutations thereof from the organization’s contact list.

For the past few months now I’ve gotten mail for him with my address on it. I puzzled over this for the longest time, but then I understood.
I suppose they ought to get some points for the sheer cheek of it. They’ve clearly decided that deceased simply means ceased to reside at the original address. They’ve obviously decided that what I meant to say was it’s a change of address only.

No. It means get his name off your list.

You will not get a donation from a dead person and you aren’t going to get one from me now either based on these sad antics.
Do I sound harsh?


These organizations depend on the good will of the public to survive. I have very little left for them right now.

Part of the money from donation goes to cover costs. Those costs include the postage out and back as well as maintaining a 1-800 phone number. This is money wasted when it goes to solicit money from someone who isn’t around any more.

I used the 800 number to call one of the organizations last week to make sure dad’s name was removed.

I certainly hope it worked.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Gratitude Monday – Looked After

My husband was away working for most of last week and before he left he made sure I was looked after. I had a nasty flu and Mike was worried.

He had his dad check in on me. Herb called twice daily and was by to pick up a spare key just in case I didn’t answer.

This was very thoughtful. I’m more than a little spooked these days having been so ill before Christmas.

I was fine in a few days and got back to my home alone routine of writing late at night.

I’m grateful that Mike was thoughtful enough to do this, and that his dad consented to check in on me.

The photo is of Highway 11 west of Rocky at the lookout at Abraham Lake.
It’s a summer scene in my back yard and it’s not related to the post, but it’s one more thing for which I am grateful.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday's Child - Can They Help It?

I’ve been re-running these Prozac Palace posts with the hope that those who need to read them will find them. It’s occurred to me that readers may wish to comment, but not know what to say. You’re under no obligation to say anything at any time.
If you want to but are at a loss, may I suggest this simple phrase: I read it.
From Friday, May 4, 2007

"She can’t help it."
I heard that remark many times over the years. Once my sister was declared mentally ill then no matter what she did this was offered as the reason. I don’t buy it. Not totally anyway.

She’d never had to take responsibility for her actions when she was sane. Later, having insanity to fall back on made for a lovely soft landing.
Regular people who have limited experience with the mentally ill will often believe that the mentally ill just need a bit of discipline, a bit of order in their lives, and they’ll be fine.

It’s an absurd statement, but it may not be entirely incorrect.

I can only speak for what I saw in my sister’s case. If she’d learned personal discipline and had been made to take responsibility for her actions earlier it may have made a difference. If nothing else, it might have taken her longer to decide the blame for the injustices of her life rests with everyone else.
That’s an aside to my point. What I suggest is she can help herself to a degree. Let me explain.

I agree that she cannot help being mentally ill any more than another can be blamed for being physically ill. But when my sister flat out refuses to take her medication it becomes a different game. She can help it. The help is right in front of her; she is simply choosing to ignore it. She takes the meds, feels better, then decides she’s fine and doesn’t need them anymore. It’s a familiar pattern and hardly exclusive to her.

I think there are times she is scared to take her medication. Usually they come about when she’s been off them a while. Perhaps she can’t help coming to that conclusion, but she still made the decision to stop the medication. She can help that. She can help herself. It’s entirely in her control.

Saying she cannot help it simply feeds her. It provides her with a wonderful excuse to not do anything. Saying that mentally ill people can’t help how they are is as much an excuse for inaction from us as it is from them. Some behaviors can be altered and controlled. The excuse we give for them is really an excuse for the rest of us to turn our backs and walk away.

“They can’t help it” easily becomes “they can’t be helped.”
And that is wrong.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chequing In On Abundance

The new moon hit last night at 8:44 p.m. in my part of the world. That means I have until 8:44 tonight to write an abundance cheque.
I have already done so. I like to get to it as soon as possible although I did forget once.
I wrote it as soon as I remembered and got back on track the following month.

If you’ve never done it, or you’ve forgotten the steps, this is what you do:
Take a blank cheque from your cheque book.
Write your own name, in full, in the Pay to the Order of line.
In the dollar amount box at the end of the line write Paid In Full.
In the amount line write Paid In Full.
Sign it The Law of Abundance.
Leave the date blank.
In the memo line write Thank You or leave it blank as you see fit.
Put the cheque away and forget about it.

If you don’t have a chequing account or can’t spare a blank one draw one and fill it out accordingly. The Universe will understand.

Keep in mind that abundance means many things and presents itself in a variety of forms such as health, work, love, friends, or activity, just to name a few. Keep your eyes and your mind and your heart open.

Want to know when the new moon is in your area?
Go here

Monday, February 4, 2008

Gratitude Monday – Another Time, Fidel.

We were supposed to go to Cuba in early January. It was a last minute arrangement with a tour company we’ve gone with in the past.
We’d actual see some of the country, go bird watching, hiking, swimming, biking I believe, even an optional spelunking.
All this plus Cuban rum and cigars. Sure, I stopped smoking 28 years ago, but I was going to be right there, why hold back?

Instead I had heart failure and had to cancel. If we were just sitting on the beach, I would have gone, but there’s no way I could do all the things I wanted to do.
I am grateful for travel insurance, and I’m grateful we had the sense to buy it.

We got our money back on Friday. It appeared to be about a 94 per cent refund. No one is reimbursed for the cost of insurance and only a very special type of the uncommonly entitled would complain about it.

I want to see Cuba. I have for years. I want to see it and experience it under Communist rule, albeit safely.

It may not be meant to be, but that’s okay too. I’ll be better soon and I’ll qualify for trip insurance once more.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Friday’s Child - A Lesson For Unlearning

I’ve been re-running these Prozac Palace posts with the hope that anyone who needs to read this sort of thing will find them.
It’s occurred to me that readers may wish to comment, but not know what to say.
This is understandable.
You’re under no obligation to say anything. If you want to, but are at a loss, may I suggest this simple phrase: I read it.

Originally posted Monday, April 30, 2007

Were my parents any help against my sister's bullying? A commenter asked this and I gave the short, easy answer of no. But it’s not entirely correct.

Mom stepped in once. I was about eight and we’d gotten into a fight in the living room that wound up in Dawn’s bedroom. It’s been 40 years so I can’t recall exactly how it happened, but I remember clearly that I was winning.

My sister and I were about an arm’s length apart when mom came in and said we’d better stop. At first I was relieved. She’d stopped a fight. Then I got scared because I knew wasn’t really over and that Dawn was just going to finish the fight later on.

Then I realized something that proved true all through our lives. The only time mom ever stepped in was when I had the upper hand.
I learned that day to not stand up for myself. It’s quicker and more efficient to let Dawn win.
I still fought back to a minor degree. I wasn’t a total doormat, I simply had sense enough to take it.

Physical pain is transient. Gouges and scratches stop bleeding. Emotional hurt endures, though, and stopping a fight because the wrong kid was winning was an experience I only needed once.

For background on my sister and her mental illness please see this post at The Goat's Lunch Pail and this Goat's Lunch Pail post and Talia’s post on it at the Centre for Emotional Well-Being.