Wednesday, 29 April 2009

I've got a post up over at Canada Moms Blog today; this is where you can find it. While you're there, take a look at the other posts. There are some awsome writers in this group and I am continually amazed to be one of them.

In the meantime, I am running about doing the Cancer Society Dessert Party. You are getting this update because my cake needs to cool down before I can ice it.

(Sound of trumpets, and a faint voice shouting 'Chaaaarge'!)

I would ask myself why I do this stuff, except I would not like the answer.

Edited to add the post to this blog on 05, 03, 2012.


Who knows that you blog?

-9 I read an article in the paper the other day about women who hide their purchases from their husbands or fudge the price they have paid, even when the purchase is made with money they have earned themselves.  My problem is something similar.  When my husband wanders by my office, a space with no door, and asks me what I am up to, I have to switch screens fast. He does not know that I blog.  I do not want him ever to find out that I blog.
My daughters know that I have a blog; the elder one, whose daughter I write about a lot, doesn't mind her daughter's appearances but isn't, as far as I know, interested in reading it.  The younger daughter follows my blog and occasionally comments. I had been posting for almost a year, I think, before I got up enough nerve to tell her about it.  Although she has been very positive, for a while after I knew she was reading it, I was very careful and subdued in what I wrote.  I can't imagine how much I would self censor if I knew my husband were reading it.  Well, I can.  There would be nothing but brief posts about the weather and pictures of birds, unleavened by anything real.
It bothers me a lot that this should be so.  I am, as they say, in my golden years.  You would think I would have more confidence, more strength.  In many parts of my life, I do.  If you talked to the members of the non-profit board where I am chair, they would be amazed to hear that I lack self-confidence. I don't think any student I ever taught would describe me as anything other than forceful.  The truth is that under the wolf's hairy coat there cowers a wimp unable to process even gentle criticism, a childish person much more given to flight than family fight.
Probably most of us have a bit of that inner child.  My inner child is very happy when someone makes a positive comment on a post and does not need very many readers at all to make her feel noticed.  The wretched little self censor that she is requires me to read and reread everything I write, to get the spelling and grammar correct, to obey all the esoteric rules of grammar and syntax, as far as I know them, and to show off every now and again with funny poetry and graphics.  And she positively trembles when I write about what I feel rather than what I think.
And that is, as they say, where the collar chafes. I've come to terms with my daughter knowing what I write, but it took me a while and some conversations with her. I'm vulnerable to my husband in a different way.  I think many of us share those vulnerabilities and that is why so many of us keep our blogs a secret from at least some of those who know us. I could, and would, defend what I say if it were necessary to do so.  But I sure don't want the hassle.
A lot of people have written about this discomfort, as well as concern about what it is appropriate to write about children, family and friends. If you have an opinion, or have written about this, I would love to hear it or be given directions to your site.  What does your inner child fear?
This is an original post for Canada Moms Blog.  When her husband is not looking, Mary G blogs at Them's My Sentiments.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Monday Mission - An Early Paean for May

I don't have time to do anything fun with this topic; this is hell week, 2009 version, and please picture me leaping onto my horse and galloping off in all directions.
But I am cribbing a poem - this is a Restoration English poet but he writes more like a late Elizabethan, but with lots of gloom and doom. This excerpt, however, is from 'To A Bride' and he let himself be happy. Here is his wish for the bridal couple and mine to all of you.

Let all thy joys be as the month of May,
And all thy days be as a marriage day;

Let sorrow, sickness and a troubled mind

Be stranger to thee, let them never find

Thy heart at home.

Friday, 24 April 2009

The Enemies of Trees

We took a tour around our bush lots last week to see how they had weathered the winter. This clump hadn't; a windstorm blew it over. Wind and weather are not kind to shallow rooted trees.

We leave dead stumps in place for wildlife habitat. Here is a stump that the pileated woodpeckers found.
This shot shows leftover damage from the huge ice storm we had in 1998. The curved tree was bent over by the ice and has never recovered properly; but it is struggling to survive as the branches growing from the curve show.

We heat with wood -- and we have lots and lots of candidates to become firewood this spring.

Sorry Exup, I should have put in the info about the bird. You can read and hear and see a pileated woodpecker here.

We also have hairy and downy woodpeckers and this evening we had three sapsuckers blow through, doing their spring thing. Very cool. Unfortunately, I can't find an easy reference to their mating display. However, we have a hunt camp on the next lot to us with a metal chimney and the birds have been drumming on the chimney for the last few days. They have to have horrible headaches.

In other news, half of my daffodils came out today. Tomorrow I am going to try for closeups with the new camera. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Nothing in her life became her like the leaving of it.

When my paternal grandfather was in his early seventies he had a completely debilitating stroke. He could move only his head, was incontinent and could not speak. I remember being taken to visit him and watching him turn his head away from me, tears streaming from his eyes. He lived that way for several weeks and died. My father was so stricken by his father's plight that he acquired from his doctor a lethal dose of sleeping pills and gave me instructions that if he was ever in a like state, I was to administer them. Luckily, for me and him, he died in his sleep one evening while watching a ball game on TV and I never had to make the decision of whether to use them.

I have tended a lot of dying relatives. My mother, my mother's sister and my father's sister all had varying degrees of dementia in their last years and months. It was heartbreaking to watch them struggle; caring them for them took all the strength and courage that I had. My Aunt Marion, the last of my charges, had an inoperable cancer, macular degeneration, emphysema and incontinence. Experience had taught me a lot by the time she came into my charge. The instructions I laid out at the nursing home included a comprehensive DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), including instructions that she not be taken to hospital, and permission for morphine for 'comfort'. She too died peacefully in her sleep, but it took a few months. My daughter and another aunt took turns with me, sitting with her. If I had had to do it alone, I think I would have broken.

The hardest thing for me is that my memories of these loved ones as competent and vital women are overlaid with images and experiences of their debility. I have to fight past a vivid mental picture of my mother in her last day of life, frantic with pain, frightened, a tiny figure of bones and white skin, to see her as I want to remember her. My aunt, much the same, I fight not to see her with her head lolling back against the headrest of her wheelchair, jokes and stories all gone, waiting to die, her clawed hands limp in her lap. This aunt was an artist and her hands were beautiful, skilled, graceful, producing marvellous cartoons and paintings. That is how I want to remember her and that is, no question, how she would want to be remembered.

I do not want to leave a memory like that for my children and grandchildren. I do not want to spend my last days with them knowing that they are struggling, that visiting me is heartbreaking, that their grief is compounded by my debility. I do not want to become their task, their burden, their nightmare. What I want is a legal way to take my own life while I still have the mental and physical capacity to do so. What I want is a quantum change in medical ethics and the law of the land that will allow me to die with dignity, my own mistress still. My kids are not going to like that either, I know well, but I believe that such a death would leave a clean wound, not a festering, lingering sore.

If the law will not change to allow me access to a nice lethal pink pill, I want my children to give instructions for no medical intervention and lots of morphine with a clear conscience and then go home.

To a blogging friend who is living this, my love.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

A Late Appearance

The Mad Math Society apologises for the last minute substitution in yesterday's Monday Mission. Our Hippo is having an identity crisis and was unwilling unable to appear yesterday. We have now persuaded him to return to duty.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Monday Mission - Math

But Maypole, I don't DO Math! You'll have to take my word for it.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Running Deer

Playing with the new camera; got this by accident. Whee. Wait until I get the book read. And get an angle that does not include the satellite dish. Oh, well.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Sauce for the Gander

Afghan Shi'ite Muslim demonstrate Wednesday in favor of a new law that would require Shi'ite women to get their husband's permission before leaving the house and would legitimize marital rape. A smaller group of Afghan women staged a rival demonstration opposing the law.

Omar Sobhani/Reuters

(Copied this from the Christian Science Monitor)

When I started this blog, I promised myself that I would not write about sex. Lots of people doing that, I reasoned. No need for a wrinkly to get into it.

I have just changed my mind, after reading about women in Afghanistan protesting the proposed law that would, among other things, require Shiite women to agree to sex with their husbands every fourth day.

Every fourth day? Could it be that this requirement is set up for a man with four wives, as I believe is allowed under Shiite law?

Pierre Trudeau famously said that the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation. That covers it for me as far as adopting Sharia law as the law of the land; obey the tenets of your religion by all means, but do not enshrine these tenets in the secular laws designed to make the state a place of law and order for all. Frankly, I feel the same about any law enacted to enforce the tenets of any religion, the 'Close on Sundays' laws that until a few years ago forbade shopkeepers of any faith to open on Christian Sunday being a case in point.

When I was married, I took vows that I feel honour bound to keep. These promises I understand to include the right of each partner to have sex with the other one. Implicit, but there. With no three days off, either. And I recall, vaguely, reading that in Orthodox Jewish law a man is required to have sex with his wife once a week. Not sure of the detail, but the way I remember it would see that requirement as being for the wife's benefit.

And as I was doing housework this morning and thinking about it, I started speculating what would happen if the proposed Afghanistan legislation was an enjoinder on both sexes, a requirement for both a man and a woman to agree to sex once every fourth day. If a man had four wives, that would work out to sex every day for the man. Do you think that the men in the legislature in Afghanistan would rise to the occasion and pass such a law?

Because I don't.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Thump!

It is my birthday today and I got a Nikon 990 with an18-200 lens. After I read the manual and get a bit of a grip on this thoroughbred (maybe in a couple of months, she said with a hollow laugh) the quality of WW and Photo Fridays should increase. At the moment, I am reading the Quick Guide and breathing through my mouth. I could do this once, long ago. Surely I can remember the SLR lore. Gulp.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

An Old Wife's Tale about Breastfeeding

In September of 1967 we decided to visit the Centennial Expo in Montreal; our younger daughter was two months old, a sturdy, easy, breastfed baby. In all of that huge site there was one (1!) 'changing station' for babies. The YD was a happy little lump in her knapsack, packed in with diapers, until she got hungry. Once she decided she needed feeding, she became very noisy. So she got nursed in some peculiar places.

One day at noon our best option seemed to be a huge cafeteria beside the Russian Pavilion; it was almost empty and we could all eat while she did. So I established myself at a table, unbuttoned my jacket and blouse and fed her. My husband and his parents went through the cafeteria line and brought the food over, giving me a carton of milk, with a straw. Just then the YD, who was very hungry indeed, gulped some air, air-locked and shrieked. As I hoisted her up onto my shoulder to try and get the bubble out a waiter came over to see what was up and, looking at the milk in the carton, cleared his throat and asked if he could warm up the baby's milk. My husband and FIL, a wonderful guy with a big sense of humour, both grinned widely. And then the poor waiter must have realized what was going on because he turned a fine shade of scarlet and slunk away. My FIL told the story for years.

I'm not sure why I decided to breastfeed my kids. It was not common to do that in 1966. I had some problems nursing the firstborn and ended up switching her to a bottle at about five months. My doctor advised me to feed her rice cereal before I nursed her and spread the feedings out to every four hours; you can imagine how well that worked. But the next baby I took successfully to drinking from a cup. Mind you, she was what was called an 'enthusiastic nurser' then. Industrial level vacuum system was more like it. And, in the sixties, the received wisdom was to start solids with rice cereal at six weeks, adding fruit and vegetables starting about three months. With all that in their little tummies, I think babies in the sixties slept more and longer. We won't talk about the diapers, please.

Your mother might well have breast fed you and your siblings but when I decided to breastfeed I did not know one woman who had successfully done so. Women in my family swore by bottles. My friends with kids? All using bottles and regarding me with a very sceptical eye. Between my first, born in April '66, and the second in July '67 (yes, the second pregnancy was planned. Did I ever say I have any common sense?) a La Leche league formed in the city where I lived and I at least had some peer support. And, thanks in part to things like La Leche, by the early '70s breast feeding was much more common. By the '80's many, many women were breastfeeding successfully. As my peer group left their bearing years behind, though, I stopped paying attention.

When my granddaughter was born and I started to be interested again, I found that the landscape had changed. There were all sorts of gizmos and gadgets, lactation consultants, support groups, books and pamphlets. And there was the Internet and mommybloggers. Advice, support and success stories on all sides. It was a steep learning curve for me. How do you offer advice on 'a good latch' when you have never heard of the term? I watched the ED popping the baby off the nipple and reattaching her with unbelieving eyes. The nurse who handed me the ED just simply checked to make sure I wasn't going to drop her and trotted away.

I have been reading mommy blogs, including the nursing mothers' posts, for two years now. Nursing stories are thick on the ground, as are opinions about the value, spiritual and physical, of breast milk and bonding. I have learned a huge amount about the things that can go wrong, the sheer intense sleepless labour of raising a baby for six months on breat milk alone, the tricks and travails. Some things are still the same. I can trade bitten nipple stories with anyone. all seems so complicated now. So much to learn, so many things to watch for. So much to do! So many voices raised in praise and sometimes overdone advocacy. So much shame if nursing doesn't work out.

The only thing that bothers me about having switched the ED to formula is that I got bad advice. Some of the mothers of today, however, sound so desolate, so shamed, if they can't nurse their babies successfully. They believe that they aren't good mothers. I think that's sad.

Breast feeding is cheap, convenient and if it goes well, very rewarding for both mother and baby. But in my observation you can be just as good a mother holding a bottle. And your baby will do well.

This post appeared first at Canada Moms Blog, where I am on the roster of contributors. I would like to direct you to the post there. However, probably because the site is still under construction, I cannot seem to access an archive and find that post. And so I am repeating it here.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Hop over to GNM Parents

I've got a guest blog up over at GNM Parents, replacing Slouching Mom who is frying other fish for a few weeks. It's a cri de coeur about second language learning -- about first language learning as well, I guess -- so hop on over if you are interested.
And then you can join the legion of my friends and fellow workers in rolling your eyes and muttering 'Old English Teachers never die'.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

A Sad Little Story

I went to get my hair cut at one of those walk-in places last week and ran into a situation that just made my heart ache.

There was a family group ahead of me composed of a woman in her late forties, at a guess, her married daughter, the daughter's husband and toddler and a second daughter, at least eight, whom the mother referred to as 'my youngest'. When I got there the toddler's father was having his hair cut and the young mother was trying to persuade the little guy to have his done also. Toddler was having none of it, screaming 'No, NOOO!' and trying to pry the door open to escape. The little girl was next, before me, and she was acting so much like the toddler that it was hard to tell the difference. Her mother was trying to persuade her that she should have her hair layered and trimmed but she had selected a very extreme cut from a magazine and wanted nothing but that.

As her mother tried to persuade her, she hauled open the door and stormed out. Her mother shrugged and asked the hairdresser to hold her place while she tried to persuade her. So, we waited.

After a bit, little miss came storming back in with mother, still arguing. She refused to get in the chair. By this time other customers had come in. The poor, beleaguered hairdresser signalled for me to sit down and started cutting my hair. Little miss demanded to have hers cut; her mother said that her bad behaviour had caused her to miss her turn and that she would have to wait. While my hair was cut, the argument continued, with little miss now thumbing through the sample books looking for another style and mother insisting that she was to have 'layers and a trim'. Another hairdresser finished a client; little miss refused to have her do the cutting.

Little miss was also consuming a steady stream of the suckers that children get after their hair is cut, taking them out of the box on the counter herself, in spite of her mother's orders that she stop.

Mother did not enforce her orders. She did not try to stem the behaviour. She seemed to be uninvolved emotionally. In fact, she chatted with her other daughter and with us while this was going on, but without referring to the girl's actions, other than to say that she, herself, was a hairdresser but preferred not to cut the girl's hair herself as it was 'too much trouble.'

When I got out of the chair, mother directed little miss to climb in. Little miss refused and continued to look at the books and magazines. Mother then said that since the girl was not ready, they would leave. Little miss screamed, stamped and banged the books around. Her mother stood with the door open, saying that they were leaving, and went out. The girl stood in the doorway and screamed at the top of her lungs. Just a series of shrieks.

Perhaps the little girl was behaviourally challenged in some way; certainly her actions were far more characteristic of a two year old than of an average girl of her age. Her language level and ability to read would indicate, however, that she was of normal intelligence. That would not preclude ADD or autism spectrum disorders. Whatever, her mother was certainly not helping; she was confrontational, uncompromising and seeming uninvolved in and unembarrassed by her daughter's over the top display. If the girl was simply an uncontrolled average kid, her mother was totally at fault, in my estimation. In either case, I think she should have been taken out of the salon when she started to create and, certainly, have never been brought back for a second try.

I felt very sorry for both of them, but my heart really bled for little miss. Judging by the twenty minutes or so during which I watched the action, the girl did not know the boundaries of appropriate behaviour nor have any method of getting what she wanted other than disobedience and screaming. If she was a child with a disability she should not have been handled that way; if she was a normal child she had, very obviously, never been given rules or boundaries. And it seemed to me that her mother did not care.

Kids, I believe, need rules. Boundaries to their behaviours inside which they can feel safe. Techniques (good manners with strange adults, for one) that they can trust to work and to make them likeable. How to bargain for what they want badly. Structure. Support. This poor little kid did not seem to have any of these things. She was angry and, I think, frightened of her own anger. She was frustrated and had no way to express the frustration other than to scream.

There are a lot of children with behavioural problems who need skilled help. She may be one of them. In our province many of these children are presently waiting to be diagnosed at the request of teachers whose access to services is ludicrously small. Even when the children are diagnosed, ever growing numbers of them are on waiting lists because the service providers have no funds to hire staff to deal with them. There are caps in this year of economic downturn on a lot of the programs funded by the Ontario government through the Ministry of Health and Social Services; no money is available even for the programs that are up and running.

There are also a lot of average children whose behaviour is out of control because no one in their life has consistently tried to teach them how to act in a way that will bring them success. No one has helped them learn to govern their tempers, to share, to have patience, to get along with other people. No one has, if you will excuse the plain speaking, civilized them.

Both of these lacks are sickening, because it is the children who suffer in the long term, not the adults who fail to provide the help and support. I ended up wishing that someone would pour a pail of cold water over the head of little miss screamer. And that's horrible. Because I think every adult in the hair cutters' establishment was thinking much the same. While, in fact, she was suffering a lot more than we were, poor thing.

Monday, 6 April 2009


Sunday, in my flower bed.

Sunday, a brave little bunch of croci pop out their golden heads.
Just look what that got them.

Weather forecast: Snow still falling, mix of rain and snow predicted for tomorrow and Wednesday.

April fool? That's me.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Monday Mission - When the stream runs dry.

We had sun today - glorious, warm April sun that melted away the inch or so of snow that fell on Saturday evening, snow that fell while the ED and her family were here for the ED's birthday dinner, snowflakes big and wet whirling down while the family went for a walk in the woods behind our house, checking out the newly opened streams and playing with the ED's birthday camera, snow that did not stick on the tarmacked roads and make their drive home slippery and dangerous. I was glad. Dangerous situations for my family are like dams against which the stream of my thoughts piles up, halts and whirls in eddies of worry thick with sticks and reeds of nervous and often unrealistic fears.

I think, in fact, that my thoughts are like the little streams that run in our bush, swollen at times with ideas from books I have read or from newspapers or from reading here in Blog land. When that happens, as when the snow melts away in the spring and the ground thaws, my mind races merrily downhill, swirling the dead leaves of other years, covering the rocks of insecurity and self doubt, bubbling, circling, dancing, carving new chanels sometimes in the soft earth of my mind. And then the spate slows, energy spent, and the things I think are tame and ordinary and quiet within the stream's new carved banks. The tips of the rocks reappear and the stream slows still more until it lies in stagnant pools crawling with larvae and green with water weed, steaming in the burning summer sun.

When there are newly opened croci in my flower bed and the robins start to sing and a swift black cloud of redwing blackbirds races across the kitchen window, you would think that my energy would grow with the spring, from the spring, that new freshets of words and images would leap from the split rocks and flow merrily along. Sometimes it even happens that way but not always, not often enough, not nearly often enough to make me feel confident in this medium I have lately adopted. I feel dry as a desert canyon tonight, dusty and cold under a gibbering moon in a sky from which it seems impossible rain or snow would ever fall. A baked mud stream bed, rocks heaving through the clay like bones, dead reeds rattling in a thin cold wind.

Sitting, fingers slack on the keyboard, hoping that the rains will come again.

This has been a Monday Mission as managed by Painted Maypole. The assignment was to write a 'stream of consciousness' post. And, as usual, I cheated.

Maypole, you think up hard ones. Love you for it!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

More News from the Hostage Incident

You will be pleased to know that Mary G was released at noon to-day. Although complaining that she was tortured by being forced to lay on the floor for a long time, she seems to be not much the worse for her ordeal. Which is a good thing.