Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday’s Child – Mental Awareness

Above the first set of falls at Crescent Falls.

Not all mental illnesses are created equal.

from Oct. 04/07

It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week in Canada Sept. 30 –0ct. 06. The point of it is to make people aware of the issue and to dispel as much of the stigma of it as possible.
Good, laudable goals.
There are degrees of mental illness. From mild depression and other mild disorders where the sufferer can function in society, to severe disorders
Persons who are severely disturbed cannot function in society. Perhaps some can, I can't speak for everyone, but I can say from personal experience that certainly some of them, such as my sister, can't.
Our dad said my sister “had a health problem.” Fair enough. I can’t argue with that.
But it goes beyond a simple health problem because it’s mental, not physical.Call it what it is.
The difference is in a physical health problem we can generally trust what the sufferer is telling us. That’s not always the case in mental illness. It’s difficult separating reality from a mentally ill person’s perceived reality.
I simply cannot trust anything my sister says. Perhaps what she tells me is true. Perhaps it’s created from her tortured mental state. It could be her truth, but maybe she knows it’s a lie. It is not possible for me to tell.
I’m all for dispelling the stigma of mental illness. Not talking about will not make it go away. Frankly, it adds to the problems suffered by mentally ill people and their families.They already feel alone and believe no one will understand them or what they’re going through. How can anyone hope to understand it if no one’s talking about it?
We should talk about it. Shout it from the rooftops. Mental illness is no one’s fault and the silly idea that it is has to go.
The sufferer has not failed as a human being. His or her family has not fallen down on the job. That notion has got to go.
You can be in the home of a mentally ill person and not catch it. Mental disorders are not contagious.
And let’s lose that idea that it’s a lack of discipline. Specific to my sister, I do believe that if our parents had said no to her and not let her get away with screeching and stomping and scratching me and hitting me and making a scene all the time, then it would have had some impact. However, it would not have made a grand difference.
She would still be insane and she’d still be calling me at new and full moons with all manner of interesting ideas.
She has worsened. The night before the September full moon she called to accuse me of having her followed. She told me about people breaking into her apartment and putting angel dust into her drinks and that I was behind it. I believe she is incapable of reason, because even as she believes I’m orchestrating it she steadfastly refuses to tell me where she lives.
She told me that she neither wants my help nor wants me as her next of kin. I don’t know if she’s officially disowned me yet, or if she’ll even remember that she wanted to do so.
As I said earlier, I’m all for getting rid of the stigma of mental illness. It’s not serving anyone.
The first step is talking about it. That’s what I’m doing.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Monsanto Knows Best

The more I read about Monsanto the more disturbed I become.
Monsanto does a lot of interesting stuff and it has given us so much like Roundup Ready Soybeans, Agent Orange, Aspartame, somatotropin (bovine growth hormone) and PCBs, just to name a few.
It also genetically modifies seeds. All Monsanto asks in return is that the farmers who grow their seed buy it fresh every year instead of keeping any around to use in the next crop year. This prevents many things including nature’s silly notion about biodiversity.
I say the company’s dream is to control the supply of seeds, thus ensuring we pay them so we can eat. The arrogance of the company is almost unbelievable. It tried to make a Saskatchewan farmer who hadn’t used the company’s seed pay a technology fee anyway after Roundup Ready Canola seeds contaminated his property.
Farmers and gardeners and regular folk who don’t know any better have commonly saved seeds from one year to the next and genetic modification has gone on for thousands of years. The seeds of the best, hardiest, biggest, tastiest plants were selected for the next year’s crop while the rest were used as food.
Everyone benefited this way. No organization controlled the seed, and therefore the food supply, and no one profited madly from hunger.
The less diversity we have in our plants the less likely we’ll survive ecological disasters. Diversity in plants, animals, and people enriches us.We are made poorer by the lack of varieties, and we are no better than serfs and lackeys to a multinational when it controls the seeds we need to survive

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Peace and Solitude

I needed to be outside yesterday so I went for a drive north and west of town. I listened to the birds and felt the sun and fresh air as I drove along. At a river crossing I found this small stream. It felt good there. Quiet, peaceful, and slow.
If you enlarge it the bushes in front take on an eerie, deathlike quality. In many ways it adds to the peace of the scene.

It's sunny here and the evenings are long. I know I should be writing, but our summers are short and should be enjoyed.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Feeding Time

At left, an osprey with a fish rests in a tree.

At right, another osprey sits on its nest.

Two adults were on the nest when we spotted it, but one left before my camera was ready.
It's possible the one that left the nest was the one we spotted with the fish.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Gratitude Monday – Roads Go Somewhere

Buck Lake might better be called Duck Lake.

We went for a drive yesterday to check out some local lakes. It was my husband’s birthday and it was something new to do. We wound up taking a few gravel roads in the rain. It made for adventure and a muddy car, but it’s a great way to see birds and the land.

The best thing is in this province if you take a back road you will get somewhere. Unless it’s marked “Dead End” or "No Exit” it’ll take you to another road.

You will get back to a highway and you will find your way home and for that I am grateful.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Living Better Through Chemistry

Your thyme will come...

Warning: The following contains sarcasm. If you are sarcasm –challenged, then please know this means the literal interpretation of the words as rendered below is not the true intent of the piece.
Thank you,
The Management

How lucky we are in Canada. We had a federal government who cares so deeply for us that it is going to make it harder for us to get all those nasty, nasty natural health products.
Bill C-51 has passed second reading already and it was only introduced last month. Why, it usually takes months and months for a bill to be passed. This one is being fast-tracked so any product deemed illegal under its provisions can be removed from the shelves right away for our own good.

As a thoughtful, caring government, the Conservatives have included a provision allowing for agents to swoop in to health food stores and seize inventory. And best of all, the government doesn’t have to worry itself sick about compensating any of the businesses. We get consumer protection and taxpayer protection! All in one bill!

Our Conservative federal government has thoughtfully secured the market for pharmaceuticals. These drugs have been tested and re-tested and all the facts found during the tests are released to the public so informed decisions are made.
Why, all those thousands of years of herbal use really cannot and must not measure up to the few years of clinical trials. We really do live better through chemistry and our government knows it.

Why, yes. Yes, I do love Big Brother.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday’s Child – Confronting A Coward

We’re getting down to the wire on these repeat posts. It looks like I’ve got about a month’s worth left. I know they’re not the easiest works to read. Thanks for sticking with me.
Here’s a picture to help get you through it. If you’d prefer, you can always comment on it instead.

From Monday, September 24, 2007

Confronting A Coward

It’s interesting that a few new and full moons have waxed and waned since my sister called.
The last time she phoned my husband answered. After a few moments of putting up with her nonsense he told her to “Fuck off and leave us alone.”

It appears to have worked.

Mental illness aside, my sister is a bully. She likes her own way and screeches and screams and stomps and rails about unfairness until she gets it. The quickest way to calm her down or shut her up is to give in.

I’ve have observed (I’m not a professional counselor or psychologist or the like) that bullies tend to back down when confronted. The bulk of them are cowards.

It’s worse when someone, my sister for instance, always gets her way by raising a ruckus. They don’t learn anything and their bad behavior gets reinforced. It worked once so I’ll do it again and again. Why try anything new?

Standing up to my sister wasn’t the kind of thing my parents were apt to do. It brought on the kind of drama and excitement that no one wanted.

Reason and logic, as occasionally tried by our dad, was lost on her. My sister is quite intelligent and was the smartest in her class all through school. But reason? She doesn’t seem to grasp it. She’s a creature of emotion. I suspect her idea of reason is if stomping and yelling and crying worked in the past, then logically it will continue to do so.

In fairness I don’t think she knows any better. She can’t cope with reality and even when she was purportedly sane she really didn’t deal with it all that well.
Bullying though violence or simple loudness worked. Giving in is wrong, but it is easy.
I think I wrote already how I stood up to her once by saying no. She didn’t speak to me for two years.
And now, my husband pointedly and forcefully told her to leave us alone. To date, that’s happened.
I may be speaking too soon, though. The full moon is two days away.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Affairs of the Heart

Looking down into the blossoms

I can get my heart zapped any time.
My echocardiogram is set for June 3, and I thought I’d have to have it done before the dc cardioversion, but apparently I can get the cardioversion first if the timing works out.
I got a call yesterday from Dr. Pimm’s office in Red Deer telling that once a bed opens for me in ICU I can get it done. Pimm is a doctor of Internal Medicine and friend and colleague of my cardiologist in Edmonton.

I know this cardioversion will take. I’ll be off the rat poison three weeks after it’s done and most likely back on daily regular dose ASA. I’m not sure about the fate of the beta blocker I take, but I’ll concern myself with it later on. For now I’m concentrating on the good news about getting a good old fashioned electric shock to straighten me out once and for all.
Learning that Mr. Sulu can marry his long time love tickled me silly.
Congratulations George Takei and Brad Altman.
Live long and prosper.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Ephemeral Beauty of Spring

Our nanking cherries are in bloom.

Pretty red tulip.

Now available in yellow.

They are with us only a few days of the year, but their beauty lasts in our hearts.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Best Day

I intend to write today. I’ve been wanting to devote a great deal of time to the manuscript lately and have yet to do it. A few minutes at the top of the day and a few more at the bottom is about as good as it’s gotten lately.
Stuff gets in the way. I’ve gone for bike rides, taken the time to meditate, shop for and later prepare food, work in the garden.
All good, all necessary, and all excuses for not devoting the proper time to the manuscript.
I also check in on my blog more than I need to, and have to go check the blogs I visit because the bulk of my social life is online. I’ve found a few more blogs to check now, too, and that eats into the day.
I’m not complaining. I’m happy about it, but the day slides by and I’ve accomplished little.
Today I’m hoping to reverse course and get some work done.
It’s Tuesday and it’s supposed to be my best day. Years ago a psychic said so. I’ve think of it every Tuesday. Many of them are really good.
Now that I’ve said so in cyber print it’ll be interesting to see if it holds up.
I’m going to write today.
I’m going to write right now.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Gratitude Monday – Long Weekend Edition

From the viewpoint at Crescent Falls.

The woods were full of excited campers this long weekend. For some, the Victoria Day holiday is their only chance to get out and enjoy the mountains.
I am grateful to live so close and to look out my front door and see the Rockies. Well, okay, it’s called a peek-a-boo view. You hold your head at just the right angle to see them.
I can see them whenever I want and I’m grateful that don’t have to fight the crowds on long weekends to do it.
Instead I went for a few bike rides, worked in my garden, and let the world wash over me.

I am also grateful that a miserable excuse of a human scuzzball scammer has been caught. The gentleman’s name is Bernd Wulffen and he is alleged to have hosed an Edmonton teen soccer team out of thousands of dollars. He has an allegedly related alleged history.

And I’m grateful there’s a calf named Jocelyn bouncing around a ranch in northern Alberta.

It’s all good.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday's Child - Don't Make A Scene

Hello everyone. Thanks so much for reading these and for your thoughtful comments. I know it's difficult, but you've all managed to find good words and I appreciate it.
If you find yourself stuck, just say that you read it and I'll be happy.
I've added a video of Crescent Falls at the end of the post. I am sure there's a metaphor just waiting to be found, but I'll leave it where it is. The video is strictly for entertainment purposes.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Don’t Make A Scene

I’ve been trying to write a post on anger for several days now. It did not want to be written.
I feel it, but it seems to be an almost dispassionate type of anger. As if it really isn’t connected to me
I wondered about that and gave it a great deal of thought. I can express rage, especially if I’m being mistreated by a corporation or the like.
I contain my anger. I am calm. I use my vocabulary and their own policies to get the matter settled. Most people would say this is the correct thing to do and I’m hard-pressed to disagree.
It’s not like anger and I are strangers, but in a way we are. Anger equals insanity to me. And violence, too. It’s what I learned.
All those years of my sister flying off the handle over nothing has ingrained this relationship deeply within me. It’s made it difficult for me to express it any way but coldly and through tightly clenched teeth.
Being mad didn’t help me out one bit when I was young. It led to retaliation. If I got mad and kicked at my sister to keep her from hitting me, I simply got it worse from her. Seething isn’t healthy, but at least I didn’t get hit.
And I can always hear my mom’s voice, “Don’t make a scene.”
I’ve disconnected myself from the passionate side of anger. Coldness is easy. Hot anger is difficult. I can sense it inside me. It’s hidden deeply away after all those years of not standing up for myself. Of not making a scene.
I hear my sister screaming and I hear the slammed doors and stomped feet that punctuated my childhood. That’s what hot anger is to me and I want nothing to do with it
I don’t scream and I don’t make a fuss. I have trouble doing anything that in any way makes me seem like her. I was a tomboy growing up. Although that was natural to me, I may have emphasized it more than was necessary. If my sister was the role model for feminine, replete with screaming and stomping and slamming, then I wanted no part of it.
I got past that enough to get along in the world and I can get mad and keep my cool and get matters solved. But somehow I feel like I’ve been cheated.
I want to be able to have and show anger. I’m a writer. We’re supposed to show, not tell. How can I when it’s my learned response to step away from what I’m feeling?
I swallowed anger and hurt all those years so I wouldn’t draw any attention to what was happening. I decided back then that the best course of action was to ignore it. That meant not acknowledging anger or pain or anything else.
I clenched my teeth. I still do. My jaws are usually tight. I can be upset and work through it. But it doesn’t touch me very deeply.
I’m not sure if I could ever lose myself in a rage. I don’t know if I want to, but it would be nice, maybe even healthy, to know that I can.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hitting Nerves

I had my usual weekly check of my blood clotting factor. This involves nothing more than a quick needle and extraction of blood. I have it done a few dozen times since mid-December. Yesterday the lab tech hit a nerve. I gulped air and my legs swing out and back a few times. I blinked to clear tearing eyes and I breathed through my mouth.
She asked me if I wanted her to pull it out, but it was filling nicely and I wasn’t keen to give her a second shot at me.
She seemed nearly as traumatized as me. My pain was transient even as the memory of it stayed, so I’ll be fine. I’ll see her again, probably even today as I have to go back to the lab to get a Holter Monitor.
I hope she’s gotten over it.
This put me in a fine mood for reading the newspaper.
I was so heartened to read that George W. Bush was so profoundly moved by sending all these men and women to injury and death in Iraq that he manfully gave up playing golf. Such leadership. If I had anything left in my tear ducts yesterday I’m sure it would have flowed.
Our own Glorious Premier outdid himself by calling the liberals “subversive.”
Premier Ed Stelmach is embarking on a $25 million re-branding campaign for the province and apparently, anyone who doesn’t like it is wrong and hates Alberta.
The Progressive Conservatives have been in power since 1971. They have long forgotten that this is a democracy. So have most of the rest of us. He and his party truly believe that speaking out against something the rulers want means you don’t deserve Alberta. Mr. Stelmach, Alberta has done nothing to deserve you.
I rarely pay attention to what comes out of the Vatican, but this made my day. Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Chief Astronomer at the Vatican, essentially said it’s okay to believe in space aliens.
I did already. Star Trek was always real to me.
When nerves are hit and heads must shake, it is best to find something calming, like running water.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How Old Do You Think I Am?

Inquiring siskins want to know.

For me the real question is how old do I think I am?
I’ve heard it said, by someone probably famous, that you’re only as old as you feel.
A good, sensible saying. If you feel old and lousy then you’ll act it and you’ll become it. I’m not about to go that route.
However, I was thinking about it last night as I was cleaning up after the evening meal: I don’t know how old I feel.
I have no idea what my current age, 49 ½, is supposed to feel like so a compare and contrast exercise is out of the question.
I’ve had this problem for years. I remember back when I was covering Provincial Court and would hear an accused’s was 40.

“Oooh, she’s old,” I’d think. Then I’d remember I was 41.

If I concentrate I would guess I feel somewhere in my 30s. Until I squat down for something out of a low cupboard and have to think, very seriously, about the process involved in standing back up.
Other than that, I have to consciously remember my age. Another factor is I’m not sure that I look like I’m closing in on 50. I don’t look anywhere near that age to me.
It seems to me I have felt the age I was at other ages. I think I got stuck somewhere and decided it was a good place to stay.
Logically, if I don’t look it and don’t feel it, then all I have left is chronology. It’ll have to do.

Pine Siskin photo courtesy my husband, Mike Mayrl.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Snipe and a Snub and a Walk in the Lake

A common snipe sits on a fencepost near a ditch wetland.
It was a good evening for snipes as we saw two more, including one that buzzed over us several times making its eerie woo woo-ish call.

This poor goose looks like he's been snubbed by his three friends. The snow they were on covered their usual nesting area by a wetland. The three eventually flew off leaving this Canada Goose all alone.

You are never to old to wade in the lake. If I'd had my rubber boots with me I'd have been right there beside my husband enjoying the freezing lake water.

Please click on the photos to enlarge and enjoy.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gratitude Monday - Sunset And Reflection

I am middle-aged and happy for it. The sun has set on the opening third of life and the gathering dusk has brought an inner quiet needed for deep reflection.
Like any other sunset it’ll be followed by the sunrise of a new day. We forget that sometimes.
I’m grateful I remember it and that I look forward to every day. We can dread the sunrise or welcome it.
I welcome it.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday's Child - Embracing Tears

This was one of the tougher posts to write. It's a difficult subject. But I've learned the general rule is the more difficult something is to say, then the more important it is to say it.

From September 2007
Embracing Tears

It’s interesting how close that word sounds to sorority or sisterhood as my sister has been the primary cause of sorrow in my life. Certainly in my young life anyway.
When I was 10 I made the decision not to cry.
It wasn’t getting me anywhere. I would be hurting and crying alone in the middle of the living room after my sister had hit me for whatever reason came to her mind
No one stopped it. No one intervened. When that happens the recipient of violence draws but one conclusion: I deserved it. If not, then in a loving family it would be stopped.
From this I concluded, logically I thought, that it must be that I was not hurt. Therefore I would not cry.
I have no emotion, I declared. Just like Mr. Spock. I still wanted to cry. I fought down the feeling. At no point was my family to know I hurt inside.
I learned control easily. I did not cry. I steeled my stomach. My shoulders hunched and my jaws clenched. I laughed, though. It was my safety valve.
I still do it sometimes. Old habits and learned responses.

I have no emotion.

This is, of course, a lie. I’ve always had them. I simply never allowed them. Denial helps.
I ignored the pain. I buried it deeply in my psyche’s backyard and tried to forget the path to it.

I lived a life apart from emotional comfort and comforting. I wanted it. I’ve learned over the years to express love and to hug friends. We weren’t huggers in my family. I never knew why.
All I knew of human touch ended in sharp talons down my arms or a pounding fist.
I was hugged perhaps once a year and from visiting relatives. I relived it each night until I’d wrung every drop of feeling from it. Eventually all that remained was the memory of a feeling. This memory, this essence of a feeling, is what I lived on until the next hug.
I was unable to respond to hugs. I was terrified. What if the hugger could sense I was not used to it? If I was not being hugged, then I reasoned that it must follow logically that I was unlovable.
Who would hug the unlovable? I was afraid the hug would stop mid-embrace and the hugger would recoil from the realization.
Better to stand cold and not move lest it be taken from me.
I did not embrace and I would not cry.
By 17 I knew I was wrong about not showing emotion. I had to learn it. I had to learn to cry.

I cried easily when I was very young. I was a crier then and today I believe inside that I am still a crier. Occasionally a tear or two will escape the barrier.
Do I feel? Yes, and I am happy for it. I’m proud to be sensitive enough to want to cry and frustrated that I can’t let go with a great, wracking sob.
My approaching menopause is helping. I feel the tingle of tears more often and the odd rivulet falls down a cheek. This happens for the slenderest of reasons and usually at unfortunate times, like when I’m driving.

I had another deeper reason for not wanting to show emotion. I wanted to make it abundantly clear to everyone, me especially, that I was not like my sister. She’s violent and a bundle of emotions. They’re scattered and unpredictable now due to her illness, but she was always on the edge of screaming or crying or some such.
It was okay for me for a while, but it’s been more than 30 years since I started trying to undo the damage I did to myself by declaring I did not feel.
I can hug now. A friend taught me.

I am still hesitant and I don’t like to offer as the rebuke stabs quite deep. I know it’s just a simple rejection meant at that moment and not a wholesale rejection of me. It means at that moment the person did not wish to be hugged.
And I’m grateful that my husband is a hugger. Between him and my best friend I’m gaining on all the embraces I missed growing up.
Hugs and tears. They’re intertwined for me and they’re my goals for this lifetime. I will call my life a success the day I am sobbing in the arms of someone who loves me.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Merriest Month

Good morning and welcome to another edition of It's Snowed In Alberta In The Spring: How Unusual!

Above - I used the camera's night setting to slow down the snow as it fell. That's our backyard.

This photo shows snow on the morning newspaper as it rests on the front porch. It was delivered about an hour prior this photo being taken.

And this is the front yard. I took the pics a few minutes after 6 a.m.
I'm sure we need the moisture.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Nature's Automatic Dryer

Some rules are just plain stupid.
I’ve read recently about some condo association rules in Edmonton that the forbid the use of clothes lines. I read about this in a newspaper column devoted to venting. I have only this complaint to go on, not the original rule as written. All the more reason to go off half-cocked, I say.
The concern is aesthetic. Laundry is ugly. It’s unseemly to hang one’s wash out as citizens will see it.
Condos have all manner of rules. I presume the bulk of the rules are grounded in logic and reason.
Except for the no clothes line rule. That’s just stupid.
Because hanging the laundry out is good for the environment. It saves energy. The sun is Nature’s automatic dryer. It kills germs or bacteria or something so it’s good and healthy. I’d check and find out, but I’m lazy.
And it smells great. No dryer sheet can match fresh air.
We’ve been hanging our laundry on a clothes tree off the deck since we moved into the house 13 years ago. Not only do we not own a dryer, during some renovations years ago I had the plug for it removed.
In winter we commonly hang them on a laundry line downstairs, but if the weather is dry and not too cold I’ll put them outside.
Dryers are convenient. They’re easy. Clothes fresh from the dryer are warm and snuggly.
They waste energy and are an expense, but apparently this doesn’t matter. Looks are more important to the condo associations than silly health and environmental concerns.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

From The Front Yard

On Sunday the prairie anemone (Anemone patens) was just opening up to the world.

On Monday the twins were in full flower.

Their lives are short. The blooms only last a few days, but while they are here they bring great joy.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Gratitude Monday – Things To Do With Cornmeal

Not as good as they look.

I discovered recently that I have a great deal of cornmeal in my cupboard. It was the result of a relative volunteering at the local Food Bank. We were blessed with many items including three bags of cornmeal containing 500 grams (just over one lb.) each. A little cornmeal goes a long way.
I rearranged the cupboards recently and discovered this blessing and as I did wondered how I’d use it. Then I turned over one of the bags and found two recipes, one for corn bread and one for tortillas.
Made them both and liked them. And best of all each recipe called for a cup of cornmeal.
Then yesterday I was looking for something to ignore in a cookbook and found a recipe for cornmeal cookies.
They looked interesting and easy as they need only butter, cornmeal, sugar.
I thought they were worth a try, but was skeptical so only made half the batch.
I threw them together quickly. I use a combination of tahini (sesame paste) and coconut oil as a butter substitute. It’s tasty, but it does change the consistency of the product. I make allowances for that during the tasting cycle.
Yesterday’s cookie experiment did not work out. They’re like eating crispy, greasy sugar. I suspect if made properly they’d be fine.
I am grateful to have found the recipe. I’ve asked for ways to use the cornmeal before it goes stale and I’m grateful to have found them. I’m happy to have tried this and grateful that it’s something I’ll likely never have to make again.


Update - The Original Corn Cookie Recipe

Because Bunnygirl asked for it, here’s the recipe I used as the basis for the unfortunate cornmeal cookie incident.

Pastitas de Maiz (Cornmeal Cookies)
1/2 pound butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup cornmeal

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Cream the butter and sugar together and then mix in the corn meal.
Shape into walnut-sized balls and put on the cookie sheet with an inch of space between each cookie ball.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until delicately browned.
It makes about three dozen.

Recipe from The Art of South American Cookery p.251 by Myra Waldo (Book Club Edition) published by Doubleday & Company, Inc. Garden City, New York, copyright 1961 by Myra Waldo Schwartz.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday’s Child – Dance of the Wills

Update - I’m happy to report this matter is nearly resolved. Changes in the Public Trustee’s office meant there was no longer a need for this matter to go to probate. Payment of my dad’s share of his brother’s estate is slated to arrive shortly.
But this is how it was last year and for that reason I have chosen to run this again.

From Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dance Of The Wills

Bike rides have a way of clearing my head. Matters get resolved in some fashion. Perspectives change. Life gets easier.
Yesterday was like that.
My sister is about to be invited to contest our dad’s will. It’s because the Public Trustee’s office needs it to go through probate in order for his estate to receive his share of his brother’s estate.
Uncle Reynold was in public care for virtually all his adult life. Government money he received went in to the bank. He died a few years ago and his money is to be distributed evenly among his survivors.
My lawyer will send my sister a letter explaining the need for probate and advising her she has six months to contest dad’s will. This is where the fun begins.
She’ll be upset and will rail at me for doing something to her. Not that she needs a physical trigger for this.
She recently decided for no earthly reason that I’d sent Social Services to investigate her. When my husband took the call the other night she ranted about not wanting to be victimized any more and demanded of him that she speak to “that thing you live with.”
A registered letter from a lawyer is sure to send her around the nearest bend, and she’ll insist on knowing just what it is that I’m up to.
I can explain the situation, but I can’t advise her. I’m in a conflict of interest because it’s my money she’d be getting.
I don’t think she’d contest dad’s will of her own accord, but she’ll talk to her friends and our relatives and somebody will tell her to do it.
Because she is an AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped) recipient, the Public Trustee’s office can contest the will for her of its own volition.
I can’t do anything about it. It is very possible that she could be awarded every penny of our inheritance. I’ve already told my lawyer that if it’s contested I’ll just pay it.
Am I rolling over and exposing my throat like the losing dog does in the fight? Well, yeah, I am. But I won’t win so there’s no point dragging it out.
It’s hard to not to resent the situation it. I put up with her violence and abuse. Now I may have to pay her for it.
The government believes private money is better than than public, and that’s why the Public Trustee’s office can make a bid for reallocation of an inheritance. In theory that’s great, but an AISH recipient can have up to $100,000 in the bank and still get the monthly cheque. Public money is still being spent.
It was tough to swallow at first, but it’s getting easier. I went for a bike ride yesterday and the fresh air cleared my mind. It was a fairly warm day, but not too warm, really just a pleasant day in fullness of a mature northern summer.As I pedaled I thought. I have a good life. I have a love and friends and a home and no debt.
I step outside and see the mountains. I have fresh food and fresh air and can go hiking or biking or anything else I want any time I want.I have my own vehicle. I work at home.
I’m living the life I want.
My sister collects AISH and lives in a mental construct of hell. She called me evil recently and at the time I am sure it was her absolute truth. Whatever she accuses me of she believes at the time. I understand that.
She is largely unable to help herself and is swayed easily by others. She doesn’t listen to me, but she accepts as gospel the most nonsensical claims of others.
Most of my inheritance is my bank account with only a bit left in the estate account. I was going finish paying for dad’s headstone next month then close the account and send my sister her remaining allotment.
I can’t do that now because of probate.
I can’t touch my portion of my inheritance either because I might have to pay it all to my sister. She might give it all away or spend it on whatever she fancies.
It is difficult to not resent the fact that the money my dad wanted me to have, the inheritance he designated for us to share equally, could go to her and quickly slide through her fingers.
Certainly I’m imagining the worst outcome for me because I need to prepare for it. It may not happen. But should this come to pass I have to be ready.
And it is, after all, only money.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Touch of Cinnamon

I thought I’d switch gears today and offer a post about food that you can put to good use.

A bit of cinnamon kicks up the flavor of meat dishes, especially stews and curries. It’s equally good in lamb and beef. If I ate pork it would probably be good in it too. The chicken experiment is still in the future.

Cinnamon is good for you.

Use only a little, perhaps 1/8 of a teaspoon to 6-8 cups of stew.
It imparts an enticing fragrance and, while you won’t taste it as such, you’ll know something has been tickling your food and making it laugh and sing.

I’d used it in some curries as part of the spice mix, then one day wondered what would happen if I added some to stew. I already used some form of heat like cayenne, though only a bit, along with beer or wine depending on my mood. The cinnamon added a whole new level to the stew as it smoothed it out.
It’s a matter of individual taste, of course, but a little cinnamon goes along way in a savory dish.