Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Favourite Card ...

This card came from M's Mom & Dad ...
It's quite apt!!

Another Song for MY Birthday !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can't go wrong with the Arrogant Worms ...

... though, many of the words don't ring true this year,

it's still a song that is funny as hell !!!! Enjoy !!!!


There's only


ONE song


to play today!!


Ladies and Gentlemen,


It's The Beatles:


Some Folks Who Share My Birthday (part one) ...

John Keat

Astronaut Michael Collins

David Ogden Stiers

Producer/Director Peter Jackson

Actor Val Kilmer

Some Folks Who Share My Birthday (part two)

Actor/Comedian Rob Schneider

TV Personality Jane Pauley

TV News Anchor Dan Rather

Actor/Comedian John Candy

(one of my favourites)

and of course one of my dearest friends:

Nurse/Activist/Traveller and Helluva Person

Indigo Sweetwater

Happy Birthday !!!!


MY Birthday Present To ME !!!

Click and ENJOY ... this is one of my favs!!!

It's 7 minutes and 30 seconds long though ...

My One Disappointment ...

Today is my birthday ... Today I turn 40 ...

I've watched many of those in my age bracket have large parties and gatherings with friends and family to mark the day ... I actually had planned two years ago to hold a party like that when I turned 40 ...

My hope was to have a house full of friends, food and just a good time ... but life has a funny way of happening when you're busy making other plans ...
There will be no party ... tonight after the kids go trick or treating, we've invited a few friends (mainly the parents of the our kids' friends) to stop by and have a slice of cake. Through the day I'll have coffee with a friend, lunch with another, and end the day with a tea with another ... It will be an okay way to mark the day ... but overall it is very disappointing ...
But, looking back over the last couple of years, disappointment has become a constant companion in my journey:
I had looked forward to the day I would be able to preside at the wedding of my Little Brother, only to be disappointed when my suspension prevented that from happening ...
I have given my heart and soul to the work I have been called to do, only to be disappointed by the experiences I've endured over the last couple of years ...
I had looked forward to FINALLY having the kind of party everyone else seems to enjoy at some point in their lives, only to be disappointed by the suggestion that to hold such a party would violate my suspension ...
I guess I can take solace in the simple fact that my 50th is only 10 years away, and by then I'll be able to celebrate THAT birthday any Fu%&*n' Way I WANT!!!!
Today I'll just savour the quiet moments I can spend with my children and my true friends, and give thanks that through it all, they've been there and have never failed me !!
AND THAT may well be the BEST Birthday Present of all!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

For Tomorrow's Grade Three Party ...

This past week Beetle came home with a note
requesting a cake for the Grade Three Party in her class tomorrow.
The job fell to me ... so, after she poured though EVERY
Halloween Cookbook and Idea Book we have,
she came to the conclusion that she wanted a
Witch Cake!!
Last night we baked it, tonight we decorated it!!
It turned out SO well, I JUST had to share what it looked like.
Tomorrow we find out if her classmates like it ...
I KNOW She does!!!
And really, that's the only opinion that matters!!

Decorating the Yard ...

Last night and this afternoon, Ms H., Beetle
and I spent time decorating the yard ...
This morning after her appointment in Brandon,
Ms H. and I hit ALL the stores before heading back home,
our goal: cut-rate Hallowe'en decorations.
We managed to score a half a dozen or so bargains,
which we duly installed tonight to complete the vista!!!

ONE MORE DAY !!!!!!!

A Gift of Opinion ...

For those who know me this should come as no surprise: I LOVE a good old argumentative debate ... I love the give and take of a good verbal exchange ... In the finest parliamentary tradition, I LOVE debate ...

So when I started in ministry and offered sermons that were on the border of controversial, I welcomed the arrival on the threshold of my office door of those individuals who wanted to discuss something I may have said in my latest sermon ...

In Bella Coola a 90+ year old retired Nurse used to leave Church each week with a steely glare fixed upon me and a pointing finger speaking the words - "WE need to talk ..."

I would dully head over to see her later in the week and have a pointed, clear and sometimes heated discussion with the dear old dame, as she questioned my ideas and offered her own ... The repeated exchanges lead me to hold a Bible Study with her and others in the extended care rooms of the hospital, so that THEIR thoughts and reflections could help to shape my upcoming sermon, rather than be offered after the fact.

Along the way, I've grown to love the Bible Study groups I've been privileged to be part of. The conversations that occur are seldom "yes" sessions, but are times of glorious discussion, debate and at times open argument!!! I've left such moments savouring the sweet taste of diversity, knowing that I am enriched when someone shares with ME their thoughts and opinions ... and often a seed is planted within my psyche that will in time grown and alter my own opinions and beliefs ...

Even here in Minnedosa there has been one delightful soul who has never shied away from arriving on my door step with the words - "Listen, I have to talk to you ..." What would follow could involve argument, laughter, or even tears ... This person would, without apology, express their opinions and tell me bluntly when they thought I was being an ass - offer criticism of what I might have said - and even call me to task for something I may have said or have done ... I welcomed the moments and look back on them with fondness because I am a better person for the sharing of thier life experiences.

I look back and see these sessions as positive occurances because I have always WELCOMED the diversity of belief and opinion that can only help to expand my horizons and my own understanding and beliefs ... when those individuals arrive on my doorstep and point at me and utter the words - "I have to talk to you ..." I smile because what WILL follow will be and honest sharing of ideas, thoughts and faith, and I am richer for it ...

So to those who read these words ... feel free to leave comments, but consider identifying yourself so we can have a conversation about it ... I welcome hearing what others have to say ...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Today ...

We decorated the yard for the BIG DAY,
then we lobotomized some pumpkins,
next we got the seeds ready to roast,
and finally we did a flashlight expedition
into the dark and creepy attic to find more decorations ...
... It's beginning to look alot like Hallowe'en !!
(and I for one can hardly wait!!)

Only TWO More Days ...

The age will be right ...
... the REST of the title:
NOT so much !!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Warnings and Signs to Heed ...

Dear Blake - aka: The Laughing Pastor:

I supposed I should begin this with a hearty "congratulations" on the decision to out your self and to chose to stand in the full glare of non-anonymity within this blogger universe where we lurk. As one who has never hidden behind a pseudonym, nor anonymity, I have learned a few lessons I feel are worth sharing with you as you continue this journey outted by your own choice.

I can't help but think that I should address this letter to my "Dear Wormwood" in the style of the late CS Lewis ... the fact that CBC Radio One is playing in the background as I write these words with a documentary on the life of that writer, thinker and theologian, only underscores the irony of this letter. I herald your goal of "Being Pastor to the World" as a noble one that I have shared. It is one that under girds "The Screwtape Letters" wherein Screwtape endeavours to share his wisdom and learnings with his fellow demon Wormwood, as they and their minion brethren endeavour to rule the cosmos.

And, so "my dear Wormwood," I will begin by telling you that I do not write my blog for the people of any particular community, but rather write my blog as a means of sharing the thoughts and musings of my soul with those "OUT THERE" who are yearning and searching for something beyond the mundane worship life of the local pew. I write for the act of writing, my target audience are those asking the HARD questions of faith that arise out of experiences with the failing and the hypocrisy of the Church.

It is for this reason that I have found that my words often resonate most richly with those who live far beyond the Church, while those same words will succeed in ruffling the feathers of those within the Church, both locally and throughout the denomination I have called home these 4 decades of my life. Recently, a colleague and friend observed that Blogging places us in a classic triangle not unlike that occupied by the great Canadian Writer Margaret Laurence.

Margaret Laurence wrote fiction that was based loosely on her childhood and youth in the community of Neepawa Manitoba (a town 30 kms from here). Her words, now regarded as watermarks in Canadian Literature, managed to annoy and enrage many of the residents of this tiny prairie town. Yet, Ms Laurence's writing was and continues to be heralded as exceptional chapters in the Canon of Canadian Literature. She was openly and viciously reviled at "home", while simultaneously she was rightly heralded and touted around the world for her writing. Inadvertently, she succeeded in living the warning a wandering rabbi once shared when he said - "a prophet will never receive a welcome in his own hometown."

My colleague pointed out that today if you visit the town of Neepawa one of the "must see" attractions in a place that NOW proudly heralds itself as the "Hometown of Margaret Laurence." To him it was an interesting twist in the tale. Ms Laurence has moved from a pariah to a hero, and yet her words and her stories remain the same ...

As we speak, we WILL annoy people, we WILL ruffle feathers, and we WILL be reviled by those for whom our words may cut too close to the bone. When people see in our writings something that too closely resembles themselves, they WILL react in anger and seek to silence us, and to hurt us. That much is a certainty, something you ALREADY know, and have warned your readers of it.

I have marvelled in my journey as a blogger at the places and times where MY OWN words have been used against me. For a time I wrote fictional pieces loosely based on real incidents in a place called The Chipperfield Chronicles. While I haven't deleted the blog yet, I have been reluctant to continue to share my writings there for a number of reasons.

For one, a particular story line was used to feed a gossip rumour in town that had NO bearing in reality, but was maliciously spread by those who were unable to differentiate truth from fiction. They took the stories there, and the characters, who were foolishly based on friends I encountered a real life Coffee Shop where the stories were also based, and they believed the key strokes to be true like the Gospel, rather than fanciful, creative fiction, which all of us AT the REAL Chipperfields' understood them to be.

Then the other reason I have been reluctant to pursue the writing of fiction at that Blog involves a posting that spoke of a particular incident and was aimed DIRECTLY at a vicious and toxic lurker who was visiting my blogs DOZENS of times a day and attempting to undermine my and my reputation, even from afar, was taken by others as a comment directed at them, and they felt personally attacked. I was foolish in my writing, and I had not considered the effect my words might have on others beyond the intended target. It simply wasn't worth the bother any more ...

Such perils were unexpected, and unforeseen, and I have deeply regretted the unintentional hurt it has caused others ... and I've been shocked by the foolish mis-interpretations that people are capable of when they can not distinguish truth from fiction ... but such is the danger of inviting people to share your thoughts, musings and writings, especially when your words, though fictional, still contain something that is blunt, honest and truthful ...

Like Ms Laurence, my fictional writings struck a cord ... and people felt hurt ... and some in response lashed back ...

Even in this blog, a place where I have endeavoured to speak my mind openly and freely, my own words have often been extracted and used against me.

In one incident I was encouraged by a friend who was facing an imminent death from Cancer to memorialize her by blogging a conversation I was privileged to be a part of that occurred between herself and her children ... I posted a single sentence about the exchange only to have a deafening chorus of howls explode around me as people pointed at my posting and accused me of violating the confidence people place in me as their minister. There was no violation of confidence ... just the sharing of a moment with the PERMISSION of the family involved.

As a fan of my blog, I felt there was no better way to honour her as a friend and as she struggled on her journey than to post a reflection on lessons taught in the face of death ... Later when I revisited my journey with this friend, I noted that the day had come for us to bid our heartwrenching farewells, and I mused on the lessons she had taught us in life, in death and in the promise of life beyond death. Her family immediately asked for multiple copies of my words to send on to others ... such is the two edged nature of what we do here.

I also vividly recall the frustration that came some time ago as a wave of burn out washed over me in the wake of our fire. In the days that followed the fire, I found myself engaging the needs and hurts of this community with long hours of work ... in the weeks that followed the fire I worked hours that weekly rolled into triple digits ... such was the enormity of the needs in the community around us ... There were many needs that went far beyond a 9 to 5 schedule ... long hours were spent answering phone calls, replying to letters and emails and visiting with people who had been devastated by the fire ... unfortunately there were missed moments and people left by the way side because in the rush to deal with things like a fire, things simply get missed.

Weeks later after the fire my frustration and personal grief overflowed when at a Community Concert I listened as thanks were offered to dozens of people who had rolled up their sleeves and helped out in the wake of the fire. I listened a praise was poured out on the heads of those who had risen to the occasion and helped dust us off and set us on our way ... I listened as absolutely no thanks was offered to me in a public way by the leadership of the Church.

Blake, I know that we are called to offer our gifts and our abilities through our ministry not for thanks, but because it is our CALLING, but when you hear of other paid staff being thanked and you know they have been paid overtime for the "extra" hours they logged following an event like the fire, and you yourself have sloughed through long traumatic hours only to hear - "oh, you're paid staff, we shouldn't HAVE to thank you ..." it is a devastating and profoundly disheartening moment that NOTHING can ever prepare you for ... I've yearned to hear the words "Thank you" for a long time, knowing they will simply never come now ...

This hurt would in time be compounded by colleagues who when confronted with the hurt of this situation responded dismissively by saying - "Why would you work such long hours?" Even though their words arise from an ignorance of the enormity that follows a fire like ours, they were equally as hurtful as the failure of leadership to say the simple words - "thank you."

The defense of "you're paid staff. We shouldn't have to thank you." fell in the face of the summer and pulpit supply hired during my leave, who would be lavishly thanked for the work done under a paid contract. I know now, some months later, that my problem in this was skin that was too thin. I let the words cut deeply and the wound festered.

I remember well the night I hit the wall. I chose to share it openly here on this blog in a posting I have since withdrawn ... Rather than hear the cry of pain and the call for help that those words represented, it instead became a posting that would be copied, passed around and cited repeatedly as evidence that I was no longer suitable for ministry. That single posting would set in motion a sequence of events that is continuing to this day ... My current suspension is a direct result of the events that lead to, and from that moment of burn out ...

Such is the power of Blogging ... our words may well come back to haunt us ...

My occasional use of expletives here, has been cited by some as evidence of my "unfitness" for ministry.

My expressing of doubt and raising questions here, has been lifted up as proof that I should not be the minister here, and for some - anywhere.

My postings have been passed around and have fueled the gossip, rumours and untruths spoken of myself throughout town, and even beyond.

My words here have ruffled the feathers of people. Then instead of being courageous like some wonderful individuals who have called me to task for my words and who have engaged in constructive conversation where I am blessed to hear contrary opinions, they have chosen to pull out the knives and sink them deeply into my flesh. Some wounds have been superficial and relatively harmless. But other wounds have been deep, and have come at moments in time when I have felt vulnerable ... those wounds have left me reeling ...

This is all to say that I've learned in a very painful way that people reading our blogs will find in our words what they want to find. If they come with open minds and a searching soul, they will find inspiration and the profound whisper of hope. But if they come with closed minds and embittered souls, they will find in our words reason to hate us. They will then seek only to tear us down, and inflict hurt upon us in response to the feelings our words have invoked within them ...

From the experiences of my journey Blake, I can only encourage you to press on to your goal ... The world needs voices like yours and mine to speak to those who are yearning and searching for something more ... People who have walked away from organized religion because of bad experiences and encounters with horrid people.

THOSE PEOPLE who are searching, deserve a Pastor who is able and willing to transcend the labels of denominations and the restraints of preconceived notions of organized religion. These people are the ones I chose to write FOR and TO, as do you.

You and I know of those experiences that have driven people from our flocks, and we've spoken of them often. But in the midst of the CHURCH there is something bigger and something MUCH MORE powerful than anything the negative stuff can do ...

It is in this place where we find the RESURRECTION.
It is in this place where we find hope.
It is in this place where we live our faith ...

And I hear that clearly in your words. I seek to share it in my words. And I struggle everyday, knowing that when I write something there are those out there who will pounce on my words (even on this very posting) and say - "A-ha !!!! See ??? SEE??? THIS is why he needs to GO !!!"

I've learned to no longer listen to those voices ... instead I listen to the many people who have sent me comments and emails that say simply - "thank you" and that go on to encourage me to speak out and continue to post here ... the many people who have searched me out BECAUSE of what I've written here, and how it is spoken to them and offered them an expression of faith that is REAL and APPEALING.

To return to Margaret Laurence for a moment, she didn't write for her former friends and neighbours in Neepawa. Instead she wrote for US - all of us who struggle in life and who yearn to be free ... Those are the voices THAT WE must write to as well ... those are the souls that we must minister to ... those are the lost sheep that we are actively called to offer our words, our prayers and our caring to.

Blogging is a challenging undertaking ... especially when we chose NOT to hide our identity ... I've shared with you some of the wounds I've received ... there have been many ... but I continue to do this for one simple reason:

I want to write, and in my writing I want to share the thoughts of my heart, the hunger of my soul and the questions of my intellect ... I don't do it for my critics, nor for my supporters. I do it for me.

My words are my words ... my thoughts are my thoughts ... and what people chose to do with them is THEIR problem, not mine ... I'm writing to those who are questioning and searching and it is to those people that I offer my words and my reflections as a PASTOR to them, and to the world that lies beyond the doors of our respective congregations.

So, I wish you well ... I hope for you a smoother journey than I have had ... but when you hit the pot holes along the way - you know where I am ...

Oh, and the picture above?? Well, from where I sit today as a Blogger ... a kitten with a sniper gun is an apt descriptor of the perils that lie in our chosen path ... Beware, sometimes the cute ones are a crack shot!!! (and the odd crack pot too!!!)

So, despite it all - BE WELL, Bonne Chance and most of all: Happy Blogging my friend.

Your friend in Christ,
Shawn - aka: The Prairie Preacher

At the end of the day ...

It's funny how things turn out sometimes ...

One Friday I mused on gossip and the effect and outcome that it has had, not only in my life, but in the lives of those friends I have been surrounded with. In the blog entry "Lessons from my Totem" I shared a letter I had recieved in the mail that day that offered sage wisdom on the impact Gossip and how to face and overcome it ...

Then on Friday night as I was getting ready for bed I picked up the Al-anon book "Courage to Change" I read the following words:

I remember others' unkind words vividly. Criticism sent me reeling. Snickers crippled me for days. It never occureed to me that I was being abused, or that the harsh words could be untrue. Everyone seemed to know just how wrong I was, and my identity was bound up in a knot of shame. My self-esteem sank lower and lower.

I in turn, treated others cruelly. I found it great fun to assault someone's character in the company of friends. For a fw minutes I felt better about myself - but not for long, and only at other people's expense. Gossip never enriched anyone's character. It was only an excuse to avoid focusing on myself.

Today's Reminder:
Many of us tend to react rather than act. When we hurt, we may want to strike out and hurt someone else. In Al-anon we learn that we can interrupt this automatic response long enough to decide how we really want to behave.

Someone else's unkindness is no reason for me to lower my standards for my own behaviour. When I take responsibility for my actions, regardless of what other people do, I become someone I can be proud of. When I feel good about myself, it's much easier NOT to take insults personally.

It would seem that the lessons of my totem continue ... and on Friday it came from MORE than one source ...

Now the challenge is to live those lessons and to help others being torn down by the senseless and malicious violence to the soul and self-esteem that Gossip represents.

The answer is BLOWING in the wind ...

Yesterday I watched a plastic bag from our local co-op blow down the street ... before I could nab it, it was gone ...

I couldn't help but wonder where it would end up ...

When I go biking in the country side surrounding our town, I find a wide assortment of plastic bottles, wrappers, bags and other assorted trash caught in the grass, bushes and trees along the roads, and more often than I care to think about I've watched a plastic bag roll across an open field like a modern tumbleweed ... All of it has been posited there by someone just idly tossing their trash to the ground, assuming it will take care of itself ...

Sadly, it does take care of itself, but NOT in a way that is at all environmentally friendly ...

The wind carries it out of sight ... but the problems are just beginning ...

Currently I'm reading the book "The World Without Us" by Alan Weisman wherein he contemplates what would happen on this blue-green planet if the human species suddenly and simply DISAPPEARED ... his thesis and his findings are startling. But what disturbed me was not so much the demise of the human species, but his chapter on what may perhaps be our most lasting legacy: PLASTICS !!

He cites findings by researchers and common citizens who have learned that plastic polymers (a modern invention) have not only overwhelmed the natural environment, but DO NOT break down ... Instead these polymers become smaller and smaller, and remain in the environment unchanged and unaltered ...

Weisman illustrates this frightening reality with the discovery by a sailor who found deep in the heart of the Pacific Ocean a place where the ocean currents don't flow and where thousands and thousands of tonnes of plastic waste has been posited in vast modern "kelp" beds ...

Weisman and those who are investigating and researching this disturbing occurrence point out that the BILLIONS of plastic shopping bags, the TRILLIONS of pieces of plastic wrap, and the uncountable plastic containers and packaging that we so casually toss aside each day as a species MUST end up somewhere ...

Some goes to land fill where it sits unaltered for a millenia ... some gets recycled into other plastic and rejoins the cycle of wastage ... some gets packed off somewhere, to be dealt with by someone else ... but too much is blown away by the wind and eventually ends up in plastic drifts in the fences and bush surrounding out communities and worst of all - it blows off into the vast oceans that surround our island habitat where in time it congeals in vast plastic beds that WILL destroy and devastate not only the marine environment, but the tiny blue-green planet we call home ...

Just because that plastic bag blows away in the wind doesn't mean it has gone away ... the stories of turtles, whales and other marine species dying from consuming plastic bags floating in the water and looking like OTHER marine life that they DO eat are legion ... If we truly care about the environment, even on the heart of the prairies ... we will begin to make BETTER choices ... and we WILL be careful about what we do with the wastes we generate ...

Our future as residents on this fragile planet depends upon it ...

Saturday, October 27, 2007


I've gotten used to advertising hanging over the facilities in public washrooms ... advertisements for trucking schools and towing companies are common in gas stations, warnings about alcohol and unprotected sex are normal in bars and nightclubs, and food advertisements are to be expected in malls, hockey rinks and public pools ... BUT today when I went into the facilities at the Wendy's in Brandon I was struck dumb by the poster hanging over the urinal in front of my nose ... Even though it is advertising menu items for the restaurant the location and the choice of wording offers a very different less than SUBLIMINAL message ...

This is SO wrong on so many levels:

Harry Potter and Headlines ...

This past week author J.K. Rowling revealed that the Headmaster of Hogwarts was Gay ... and the media flew into a frenzy of commentaries and speculations ... the religious right rose in indignation at the tainting of impressionable young minds and questions Dumbledore's relationship with young Harry ... and people began to speculate how such a "significant" detail could have been over looked, ... AND EVERYONE went looking for clues to this "revelation."
Meanwhile ... the world carried on, and real life continued to unfold and be lived ... Everyone seemed to forget one simple fact in the midst of ALL of this ... and that is Harry Potter and the seven hugely successful books and five movies ARE FICTION !!!!!!


Having said that, I can't help but think that our media is stretching for stories lately ... the major web sites have entire sections chronicling the antics of "STARS" like Britney, Paris, and who ever slithers onto the radar screen of pop culture ... and we get reams and reams of stories about ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Even this morning on CBC's programme "The House" had listened questioning why our Government won't tackle the issue we're really concerned about - poverty, homelessness, loss of job, and the loss of security for those who are not in the 6 figure income group ... This past week I had an intense conversation with someone for whom the biggest issue facing us is Violence against women.


He noted the coverage of the Pickton Trial in BC and said - "that should never have happened, but it was women who were his victims ... if he was killing men, it would have made headlines after the second woman went missing ..." I shared with him a conversation I had with one of the esteemed elders of a BC Church who during the time Police were identifying dozens of missing women on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver looked at the photos on the Front Page of a Newspaper and said - "well, they're women who have chosen to live that kind of lifestyle ..."


I've always wondered if she would feel that way if it was HER granddaughter missing from the streets of Vancouver ... or was it simply a case of women who were to be regarded as disposable because of their social background, because of their ethnicity, because of their addictions, or because they have been victims of violence since their lives began ...


In Tomson Highway's works, Violence against Women is a dominant theme. His motivation has been the friendship with Helen Betty Osborne, the First Nations woman who died in The Pas in 1971, and for decades, her murder remained "un-solved" ... The scenes dealing with the casual nature of violence against Native Women in Kiss of the Fur Queen are devestatingly honest ... and utterly breath-taking (and NOT in a good way) ...


I marvel though, at how our Media can focus SO much attention on something as completely and utterly irrelevant and unimportant as the sexuality of a figure in a book for children and youth ... I say "hear hear" to the revelations of Dumbledore's homosexuality - our children deserve to have literary figures who reflect the marvelous diversity of the HUMAN family. Reading about key figures in a story line like Harry Potter who are gay and lesbian is merely a reflection of the REAL world that we inhabit.


Maybe as we teach our children values like tolerance and understanding and (heaven forbid) acceptance, we will begin to see the world change for the better ... THEN perhaps we will not only begin to talk about issues like poverty, homelessness, violence and the other REAL issues that grip us, maybe our children will finally do the task that we are failing to do - ADDRESSING THOSE ISSUES.


If nothing else, the whole frenzy over Dumbledore's sexuality has shown us the shallowness of our media and their open reluctance to address and deal with the REAL issues that dog us ... AND the parallel reluctance of our Government to deal with the same issues ...


Maybe one day we'll finally stand in a place where poverty, homelessness, violence and other such issues are addressed ... and we no longer hear dismissive sentiments about the deaths of women like Helen Betty Osborne, the women from the Downtown East side, or any of the victims of a violence that is an intolerable component of our world ... Instead of diverting our attention with the sexuality of characters in Childrens' Books, our media would better serve us by reminding us of WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT !!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Morning Visitor ...

This morning as I was sitting in the dining room working on my computer I heard a gawd-awful "thwack" on the back porch followed by a scrambling sound ... I went out to investigate and found a beautiful blue jay lying stunned beside the dog's food dishes ... his wings were splayed and he was laying with his (or her) beak open, head tilted and his eyes glazed ...

I carefully picked him up and carried him into the kitchen, cradling him in my hand ... I talked gently to him and stroked him on the back and front ... we sat quietly at the kitchen table with him sitting in my lap (no cats around - or revenge would have been swift and bloody - the scoldings our cats have taken my neighbourhood jays are no doubt remembered!!!) ...

Eventually he began to look around ... spread his wings ... flip his tail ...

Mere words can't describe how beautiful the iridecsent colours on his wings and body are ... and when he opened his tail it was simply breath-taking ... I've always loved Blue Jays (even the ball team!!) BUT I've never been able to look at one this closerly before !!

After 10 or fifteen minutes I carried him outside and he promptly hopped from my hand to the top of the barbeque ... then fluttered his wings and flew up into the trees on the south side of our property:

As I write this, he is higher up in the trees and has been calling quietly to his friends who are scolding him for his careless mis-adventure ... I'm left with a sense of awe at how beautiful this bird is up in the sky where he belongs, but how INCREDIBLY gorgeous he is close up ... and I'm glad he stopped by ... I think I'll wander up to the Hardware store and pick up some peanuts in case he decided to come by ... it's the least can do !!!

Another Glimpse of the Jay ...

He's hopped higher and higher in the tree ...
and a few minutes ago flew off to join his kin.
It was a lovely Friday Morning Interlude !!

Lessons from my Totem ...

I was raised in a household where you were never to lie, you didn't gossip, and "if you CAN'T say anything nice about someone, don't say it at all!!!!" These are values I've carried through my life, taught to my children and have expected from other people ...

I won't say it was or is a mistake, but I've learned that there are far too many people out there who have never been taught that lesson and who think nothing of bad mouthing, calling down and gossiping about others ...

Over the last few weeks my conversations online and over coffee and in other settings with friends have time and time again returned to a place where I've heard story after story of how devastating and hurtful idle gossip, bad mouthing and calling down others can be ... I've heard of talented people feel utterly rejected by their "friends" because their artistic creations have been ignored or belittled by those closest to them ... I've heard young parents struggling in life be called down by untrue accusations of affairs and lascivious behaviour by their neighbours and so-called friends ... I've heard how lives are profoundly and negatively affected by the utter nonsense that is passed around the community as "truth" with no consideration of what is the ACTUAL truth, or the effect of such drivel ...

I could go on and on and on ... for some reason people feel comfortable sharing these experiences with me ... perhaps it is because I have, over the last three years been the victim of such malicious attacks by people around me ... but I also think there is a different explanation ...

This fall I mused whether my totem was shifting with the repeated appearance of Turkey Vultures in my field of vision ... I did some reading and study and found repeatedly that when the Vulture chooses you as a member of its Totem realm - YOU KNOW !!!

The Totem of the Vulture brings with it many interesting gifts and understandings ... but one that I have struggled with was the ability to sense or even see the aura that surrounds people ... like the vulture finding carrion for its next meal ... the Vulture Totem guides us to those who are in need of care, kindness, support and even love ... and we can "see" what lies within ...

To the artist feeling rejection I can "see" the jealousy of others ... to the parent struggling against vicious and hurtful gossip I can "see" the jealous fear that drives others to tear him/her down ... to those who have maliciously tried to tear me down I "see" their fear and have only pity for them ...

I have struggled with this until yesterday when I opened a wonderful letter from a newly re-discovered cousin who has recently gotten in touch with me ... she wrote me the following:

... how demoralizing that is for you and your family. How does one defend against gossip? I just finished reading an article in yesterday's Toronto Star that said, "... gossip is more powerful than truth ..." and that "people believe what they hear through the grapevine even if they have evidence to the contrary." Now granted, this was a University survey done over only a couple of studies that involved a limited amount of participants. But it is a disturbing trend, nonetheless


I was raised to refrain from gossiping and to disregard or avoid the gossip of others. It has always been my belief that your family and friends know you better than to believe such nonsense, and who cared about the others? But of course, what others think really does matter doesn't it? ... as you say Truth becomes irrelevant ... All you can do is keep your chin up and your shoulders back ... otherwise they win.


As I read those words and last night spent time in prayer and reflection with them, I realized that the pull of my totem is to justice and harmony and balance ... the calling of my totem is to keep my chin up, and my shoulders back and to hold fast to the truth and only the truth.


The whisper of the Vulture is to hold to truth and let it one day set us ALL free ... Gossip will blow away like dust in the wind, and the deeply rooted truth will remain and prevail and prosper ... such are the teachings of the Old Vulture ...


May it be so !!

The hands of an artist ...

I know of late this Blog is starting to sound like a founding chapter of the Tomson Highway fan club ... but it's not ... I just find myself wanting to share how much meeting this man has meant to me in my life ...

The last couple of years has been an incredible time of transition, transformation, growth, set back, struggle, and most of all resurrection for me ... As I look back there have been many incredible moments, both good and bad, that have left indelible impressions on me ... I have been deeply wounded ... profoundly hurt ... and utterly devastated by the nasty words, actions and manipulations of others ... but thankfully, many of those moments have been off-set and balanced by the kindness of friends ... the love of my circle of family and long-term friends ... and the unwavering support of the people who know the real me and who have been there to pick me up, dust me off, hear my rants, wipe away my tears and give me the hug and the encouragement to carry on ...

So looking back, I can see many many many positive moments where some little thing has had a profound effect on my life journey ... This summer, one morning on the dam I had just such a moment ...

I biked past a gentleman walking on the dam and stopped and said - "are you Tomson Highway?"

The affirmative answer and the open and generous response and the ensuing conversations have succeeded not only in turning me into a HUGE Tomson Highway fan, but my "brush with fame" has helped me make some decisions in my life about what I want to do and be about, and where I want my life to go ... Tomson Highway and his partner helped me listen to the whisper in my soul that has been saying for a very long time - "I want to write !!!"

This fall I have not only listened ... I have tried to obey ... for the first time in a very long time I'm following my soul and trusting in God (or the cosmos) to see me through to a destination that is yet unknown ...

And, tonight I watched Tomson Highway take time with a young native man who said - "I'm kind of a lost soul ..." and described the incredible journey he's been on with HUGE set backs of his health and well being ... he then said to Tomson - "I don't know what I want to do to let the words in me out ... art, song, writing, ... I just don't know??"

Tomson listened patiently to the young man, and then said - "Try it all !!! Just try it all. You'll never know until you try, then you'll find your voice ... follow it"

Tomson Highway is just the son of a Cree trapper-hunter from north of Brochet in Northern Manitoba ... he has the hands of an artist ... and the heart and soul of a wise, caring, generous and truly mystical being ...

I will always look back on the encounters I have had with him and his partner as one of the most Blessed experiences of my life ... and I will be thankful for it for a very long time. Everything happens for a reason ...

Today ...

The sun was shining,
the temperature was in the mid to high teens C,
and it was a beautiful day for a bike ride.
I only did about 24 kms today ...
I managed to find a route that was uphill, with the wind going,
and uphill AGAINST the wind coming back,
I still can't figure out how I found a route that is
like the oft told old joke:
up hill BOTH ways - but it is !!!
And it was a wonderful work out on my bike.
this afternoon I submitted my first two stories
to a writing contest I learned about last week,
went to the Aboriginal Writers Festival
at Brandon University to hear
Tomson Highway share a reading.
After the evenings event I was giving Tomson
a ride home to Minnedosa,
so he took me to the Participants' Reception and introduced me
to many of the First Nations and Metis writers
who are attending and involved in this
Festival that is happening all weekend in Brandon.
It was a simply INCREDIBLE day and evening.
One I won't soon forget !!!!!

Today at Rotary ...

The Minnedosa Rotary Club,
which I am pleased to be a member of,
invited author, playwright, musician, composer,
and storyteller
Tomson Highway
to come and join us today.
And Tomson did - in fine form.
He played the badly tuned piano,
then entertained and informed us with stories,
reflections and memories of his journey
from Brochet in Northern Manitoba, to his
life now as an accomplished Literary Star in Canada and abroad.
It was a delightful way to spend an hour ...
Thanks Tomson !!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dreaming of a Double Double and a Maple Dip??

Yesterday over a I can fly, just not up, CandyGirFlies mused about a dream her hubby had one night involving donuts and Tim Horton's ... She wondered if it might be a middle aged Canadian Male thing ... (Gawd I hope NOT!!! I've worked too hard to shed 40 pounds, only to pack them on from Tim's !!!!) ... But as I read her words I thought of a bit by Canadian Comedian Ron James about a visit to Tim Horton's ...


So - click here to read The posting over at I can fly, just not up, then come back and listen to Ron's rant about Tim's and consider if CandyFliesGirl's hubby is having a dream about donuts, or the Bovine Betty in the foxy hair net behind the counter getting him all warm in the secret bits ??!!

I'll opt for donuts ... though I may one day start dreaming about them, I'll STILL consume them sparingly !!

An Epiphany Moment ...

While I was biking through Riding Mountain National Park I realized a few things about myself ...


I have the soul of an artist ... I yearn to create and to stand in the presence of creativity ...


I have the soul of a prophet ... faith demands action ... action borne of faith is a gift from God ...


I have the soul of a writer ... words ebb and flow within me ... my heart yearns to tell the stories it carries ...


I have the soul of a child ... life is a wondrous place filled with awe ... like a child I trust openly and easily, and have borne many hurts from the maliciousness of others ... life remains a gift to be celebrated and enjoyed ...


I have the soul of an intellectual ... the number they apply to my IQ means nothing ... the hunger to learn and grow and experience life drives me forward ...


I have the soul of an artist ... music, words, literature ... where there is beauty I find fullness ...


As I pedaled through the wilderness of Riding Mountain I heard for the first time in many months, the voice of my soul telling me something I had simply forgotten ...


I am not what people think of me ...


I will not be defined by labels applied by others ...


I will not be limited by expectations imposed from outside ...


and most of all, I will not allow my reality to be affected by the gossip and lies that people have chosen to believe about me ... the salacious crap that is passed by those "who know" is simply that ... and I AM better than ALL of it !!


On Sunday as I pedalled I heard my soul whisper to me the hopes, the dreams and the aspirations I had allowed to be surpressed and denied in the name of expediency ...


On Sunday when I turned my bike around, the voice of my soul began to lead the way ...


My job now is to follow ... and in faith, I can ... and I will ...


We shall just have to wait and see where this journey leads ...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Last Flowers of the Season ...

Yesterday I decided to harvest the sweet peas that were still blooming in Ms H & Beetle's gardens ... somehow they had survived several harsh frosts, and are still growing and blooming!!

It was nice to have one last bouquet of fresh cut flowers from the garden - especially considering it is late in October - gracing our dinner table, and now it is nice to share them with the rest of you.

I have a special place in my heart for Sweet Peas ... in Bella Coola we grew an enormous number of them along our front fence, and when I went visiting elders I often took a handful to give them, and share the joy ... but my strongest association with sweet peas is the profusion of them that grew wild in the ditches for a metres and metres on either side of my Great Grandmother's farm house outside of Desboro Ontario.

The end of the long drive to Grandma Cain's was signaled by the white, pink, and mauve blossoms of the perennial plants that had long ago escaped the flower beds around the house and had established themselves along the gravel road ... You knew you were there when you could see the blaze of colours ...

Sweet Peas are one of my favourite flowers ... and having the girls grow them this year on their own was a delight ... one that has stretched long into the fall ... and for that I am thankful.

Tonight's Sky ...

The western sky tonight was breathtaking ...
... I'm glad I took a couple of minutes to snap
some photos ... unfortunately,
they don't do justice to the real thing.

Won't it be nice ...

... to awaken one morning to find
the world enveloped in a
just and lasting peace
that leaves cobwebs
on the tracks of ALL military equipment,
not just those left as memorials to
the Fallen and the Remembered.
One day it may happen ...
... in the meantime,
we must be workers of Shalom !!!

Hallelujah Chorus !!!

It would appear that tonight over at The Laughing Pastor, my fellow blogger made the technological jump to posting video clips. To mark the event he has posted a whack of clips (a whack is more than a couple, but less than several), including a beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen's song (now made famous by its use in the Shrek series of films) Hallelujah by the indomitable k.d. lang.

I remember the first time I heard k.d. sing Hallelujah. It was on CBC and I was blown away ... it has long been one of my favourite songs by her. But I've enjoyed other renditions of the song as well, so to compliment LP's selection I would like to offer a rendition of Hallelujah by the man responsible for the song ... between k.d., Rufus Wainwright (we've ALL heard the song in Shrek) and Leonard Cohen, I think it's a hard call to say which is my favourite ...

So enjoy this version, then hop over the The Laughing Pastor and enjoy another ... and if you craving for this beautiful song isn't yet whetted, slide on over to YouTube and search for Hallelujah and see what else you can turn up ... It's a great song ... and the version below is done in the way ONLY Leonard Cohen could do it ... enjoy !!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Just Curious ...

I had the house to myself today ... and as I puttered around I had some thoughts occur to me:

Why do we close the bathroom door even when we are alone?

Why is the bathroom the one room in the house that ALWAYS has a lock on the door?

What's the hang up that leads us to such paranoia?

Such are the things I sometimes ponder ...

More pictures from yesterday's jaunt ...

Pictures from Riding Mountain National Park,
and the drive home ...

Happy Birthday Ms Kosh !!!


Today over at "At The Half Note" Blogger Katie, wishes her daughter Annie a Happy 10th Birthday ... I would like to offer Ms Kosh similar wishes ...


Annie is one of my absolute favourite 10 year olds on the Planet ... from the stories I've heard from her mom, I know she's witty, funny, outrageous, sweet, adorable, intelligent, and at times aggravating ... the things ALL 10 year old girls should be !!


So to this delightful 10 year old Girl ... I wish a Happy Birthday!!!!


Hope you've had a good day, and a good weekend Annie ...


(oh - and the film clip is the creation of Annie's talented mom)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

By Land, By Water, and By Air ...

One of the joys of being in a region of the country
that is on a MAJOR migratory Fly-Way for water fowl
is finding bodies of water obscured under
the bodies of dozens and dozens of birds:
Then all it takes is something to startle them,
and in unison they take to the wing and FLY!!!