Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lilac Daze

I smelled them before I saw them. The peaceful, sweet, spring-is-here-despite-the-clouds-and-rain smell drew me on. I topped the rise, and the trees gave way to a meadow dotted with lilac bushes. The largest of these, royally clothed in purple splendour, was easily ten feet high and twice that in diameter. I hurried down the path twards it, not stopping until my face was buried in flowers. I inhaled peace and serenity, and the tension of the past week flowed down through my body, through my legs and toes into the ground, utterly destroyed by the drug of scent.

Lilac Daze, Crayon on Paper by Ruth Cooke
Click on image to enlarge.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Kidnapped A Friend Yesterday

...and we went for a drive.

I asked her if she wanted to go on Wednesday or Thursday, and she reviewed her schedule for the weekend and said Sunday after church would be fine. By the time it got to Sunday, of course, she was waffling, because she couldn't find her jewelry for the wedding that's taking place in a month and a half, and it might be in one of the storage units which she and her husband rented because they bought a new home but haven't sold the old one yet and so they called in a stager who told them they needed to get rid of most of their stuff, put down new carpet in the bedrooms, paint the bedrooms and the kitchen cabinets, and...

So with her permission (granted with the provisio that when we returned I'd go with her to look for her jewelry before she had a complete meltdown), I took her away from all the chaos and we went for a drive to a vacant plot of land on Lake Ontario just so that we could read and take photographs of a sign and a couple of historical plaques.

Crazy, no?

Here's the monument:

Here's the sign:

Yes, we went to the site of "Camp X," where the "Man Called Intrepid" trained spies during World War II, including a young man by the name of Ian Fleming. We chose this little jaunt because she has some family ties to Sir William Stephenson and Camp X.

As we drove, we talked. Not about church (and her job), or about all the stressors that we are labouring under at this time, but about our family history. Interesting stories of immigration, struggle, and triumph. Stories of things kids and parents have done to amuse us. We talked about our hopes for the future, too.

And a funny thing happened throughout the course of that day.

I came back from the trip with a whole lot of character traits and quirks I could put into my stories to make them funnier and more exciting to read. I gained some much-needed confidence with regards to the small business idea I'm thinking about. I also came back refreshed and ready to write daily until my novel is finished..

And we both found a measure of peace in the midst of the storms. I think the best illustration of that was her attitude when we searched the storage areas and didn't find her jewellry. "Oh, well," she said. "I guess it's just going to wait until we move in two weeks."

No panic. Just calm, rational thought that could only come after she'd taken some time away from the chaos.

In our 24/7 world, we sometimes believe that humans should be like machines--able to work constantly unless we're eating or sleeping. We praise workaholics, despite the fact that they have higher rates of heart disease and family strife. We chide ourselves when we don't work as hard as we think we should.

But we can't and shouldn't work constantly. It isn't just that constant work is bad for us physically and mentally. What it kills even more than bodies and minds is souls. We lose perspective. We're unable to solve problems because we can't think outside the box. We don't have time to try anything new. There's too much at stake if we screw up.

We need to take time, a whole day every week if we can manage, or, like this guy, a whole year in every seven. We need to do this not so that our bodies can rest, but so that our minds can rest and recharge. So that for that day, and for the rest of the week, we can think, instead of react.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's The End of the World As We Know It...

...and I feel fine!

No earthquakes. No floods. No dead bodies everywhere. And unfortunately, none of the crazies have been taken up to heaven to be with their god and leave the rest of us alone. *sigh*

And the CDC had even come out with a blog post about what to do in case of the Zombie Apocolypse. I was so looking forward to putting the plan into action.


I'd like to say that I don't understand why so-called holy men (it's almost never a woman) predict the end of the world, but unfortunately, I do.

It's buried on the ebiblefellowship site, which has already taken down the "end of the world" prediction page. Not that I expected any less, seeing as how it didn't happen.

But they still haven't taken down this page. It's their donation page, and it was live right up to and beyond the apocolypse. Just in case they change the wording, I'll quote what was on there up until at least the time of this blog post:

Donations to EBible Fellowship are no Longer Accepted

EBible Fellowship is NO LONGER ACCEPTING DONATIONS due to the shortness of time until May 21, 2011. If you still wish to make a donation, please make it to Family Radio (see below).

For all those who have given over the years, we thank you for your faithfulness in assisting to get the Gospel out into all the world.

Donate to Family Radio

Although EBible Fellowship has no affiliation with Family Radio, we do believe them to be a Biblically based ministry used by God for the furtherance of the Gospel. Contributions can be sent to them at:

In addition, you may donate to Family Radio through their secure donation form.

That's right. Despite the fact that the end of the world was coming when they wrote this, one part of their conglomerate (which they claim isn't affiliated to the other part. Like Hell...) was and is still accepting donations. Apparently, Family Radio intended to continue even past the end of the world.

Which tells me that the perpetrators of this scam didn't believe a word they wrote. It was only a scam to get money out of ignorant god-fearing folks. Unfortunately, it worked rather well on some people. A man took out his life savings to put up billboards all over NYC, I'm told, and I read about a couple who stopped paying their mortgage and saving college funds for their three teen-aged children because they thought it wouldn't matter past today.

As far as the perpetrator is concerned, he should be charged and convicted of fraud, since it's patently clear that he lied in order to obtain money, and innocent if ignorant folks are going to suffer big time because of his duplicity. I wasn't counting too much on the world ending today, so I didn't get myself in deep water financially or anything, but I'm sure that some folks will be in torment for far longer than the five months the tribulation was supposed to last because of this idiot.

And for the victims, I have only this to say: Wise up! It's fine to be a conservative or evangelical Christian, but fundamentalist Christians who believe this sort of nonsense are the laughingstock of atheists everywhere. Get an education in science and world history and textual criticism. Start questioning authority, especially the authority of anyone who claims to know the mind of God on any matter. And be doubly suspicious if they not only have a direct line to God, but claim that God wants you to give them all your money.

I'm a Christian, and I'm passionate about my religion. I love and serve God (or at least I try to...). I genuinely believe that if a society is to function optimally, there needs to be a religious cohort present. Certainly I don't know of any society from the beginning of recorded history until now that has successfuly functioned without one.

So it makes me truly sad and angry to see folks who might have been helped and comforted by having a religious faith become passionate unbelievers because of stupid nonsense spouted by greedy and/or ignorant preachers.

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." (Matthew 18:6, NIV)

ETA: I wrote this post, and had to come back to edit it, because someone on the Absolute Write forums linked to this article.

I will quote the writer:

This is what religion encourages: fear based on imaginary terrors.

One nutcase, with about ten followers, and people who don't know any better take them as representative of all religions.

If you are an atheist, please have the intelligence to realize that the overwhelming majority of religious folks are not like this, nor does most religion encourage "fear based on imaginary terrors." If you're so inclined, I give you a challenge: find a mainstream denominational church with a liberal bent and attend services for a few Sundays in a row. I'm not hoping you'll convert to Christianity if you do this, but I do hope it will educate in the matter of the wide diversity of Christian beliefs. You can also read some of my former posts on this blog, many of which are sermons I actually preached to good reception.

I have no real qualms with atheism, but fundamentalist atheism scares me as much as fundamentalist Christianity or Islam or Judaism does. And so I say the same to you as I say to the religious folks: get educated!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Are You Ready (For the Rapture)?

So apparently, I won't be blogging tomorrow. Or ever again. Because it has been declared in the Bible (as interpreted by one solitary nutcase who's done this sort of thing before) that tomorrow, the rapture begins. Earthquakes. Fire. Torment for five months, then Judgement. And zombies. Lots and lots and lots of zombies, as all of the humans who have ever lived will be raised. The good folks (Or: Christians of Right Thinking) will go immediately to heaven. The bad folks will just lie there until Judgement day, five months down the line.

So I guess I'm down for five months of torment before shunted off to Hell forever.

If you've read past posts, then you know that I am a Christian. So why, you ask, would I consign myself to the damned?

Well, in the first place, I don't consider the Bible to be the "Word of God." In fact, one of the few clear statements in the Bible says quite clearly that the Bible (which didn't exist as a closed Canon until more than three hundred years after Jesus died) is who (not what) the "Word of God" is: "And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14, NRSV)

So I don't consider the Bible to be the "Word of God." The Bible is neither historical nor scientific fact.

The Bible is not God's revelation to us. Rather it is the story of our search for God in a world that often does not make any sense. And if I read more of the Bible than is quoted in this article about the rapture, I come up with a far different picture of God, and of God's plan, than the end-of-the-world fanatics.

First of all, we can define that illusive thing called "love": "Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." (I Corinthians 13:4-8a, NRSV)

This has to be one of the most beautiful things ever written. Well done, Paul!

And now, to cross-reference with some other quotes:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:16-17, NRSV)

So, since I do believe in God and in Jesus Christ, maybe I won't be tormented with the unbelievers?

But there's more to consider:

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48, NRSV)

Taken together, these readings give me an entirely different picture of God than the God portrayed by the proponents of the rapture. God loves us. Love seeks to heal and build up, not destroy and torment the loved one.

The problem is, of course, that the Bible was written by humans. It often says more about human temprement and longings than it says about God, and I like to think that the parts where God torments "his" enemies is more reflective of human nature than of Godly nature.

Because one thing has been abundantly clear to me for a number of years. If I live in a universe where God destroys whole cities and even the whole earth, including children and animals, because "He's" fed up with sinners; if I live in a world where God condemns half the population to be of less worth than the other half because of one supposed sin committed by one woman at the beginning of time; if I live in a world where homosexuals are created (by God, one supposes) with attraction to partners of their own gender but are consigned to Hell if they give in to such attractions, then I don't need to be condemned to Hell.

I already live there, and God is not God of the heavens and Lord of All Good, but the Devil Incarnate and evil beyond the human imagination.

Fortunately for me, my experience of God is more in line with the Biblical writers who write about God being love, rather than those who write about a God of judgement. And while I'm very human and sometimes get mad enough to wish my enemies to perdition, I'm glad that I live in a world where God is better than I am, and has infinite patience with sinners. Because I'm not perfect, and I need God's love and forgiveness just as much as anybody eles.

And in that case, I'll be back tomorrow with another post. Unless it's really sunny out, in which case I may just enjoy "rapture day" with a nice picnic in the park.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Falling Off the Wagon, Getting Back on the Horse

I am, as usual, trying to make multiple changes in my life at once. To no one's surprise, I am not acheiving my goals fully in any one area. Hence the lack of blog posts for the last few days.

Other changes I'm trying to make right now:

1) I'm trying to lose weight. I've decided to take this verrrrry slowly, with the first step being that I will eat breakfast every day, and that most days it will be a healthy one. I'm finding this the easiest to keep, because now I have a "breakfast buddy." Every morning, Ally barges into my bedroom, all chipper, and tells me it's time to get up and have breakfast.

To my surprise, I'm usually ready to actually get up! Some mornings, we've had breakfast and gone for a walk, which is even better.

2) I'm trying to get back into the habit of writing every day. This is where the blog-a-thon was supposed to help. Except that one day, Blogger was down so I coulnd't blog. And the next day, we had this big concert and I was at the church from eight-thirty in the morning until eleven at night. And the next day I was too tired. And by the next day, it seemed pointless, since I'd already failed the challenge.

Except that it isn't pointless. In those two weeks of blogging every day, my followers increased four-fold (from two to eight...), and my readership also increased greatly.

So I know that it's worth the effort, and even if I miss a day or two, I need to get back on the horse and keep riding.

3) I'm trying to clean up my house. I thought Ally would be good here, and I'll admit, she has cleaned up the kitchen to the point where I can actually use it for cooking. However, she did that by dumping all the stuff that was in the kitchen that shouldn't have been there into the hallway, so now I have a mess in the hallway.

From which I learn that while having a partner can help you stay on the wagon (see #1 above), having the wrong partner can knock you off it. Furthermore, the right partner for one endeavour might not be the right partner for another endevour.

4) I'm thinking of starting a small business. After coming in second for yet another plum job (when there was only one plum to pick), I'm beginning to understand that my qualifications either aren't recent enough, or aren't exactly what employers are looking for with respect to the positions that interest me. It may well be that if I want to avoid asking, "Do you want fries with that?" for the rest of my working life, I'm going to have to pull up my sleeves and get to work for that lazy, good-for-nothing boss I see in the mirror every morning.

The good news is I have an idea that a) involves using equipment I already have or can borrow for a while, b) I can do, and c) I would truly enjoy. More later if I decide to go with it!

On to market research...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Adults Are So Stupid

A fundraiser concert for victims of a fire happened last night at church. I was working hard in the church office all day, doing the regular duties needed to keep the church running as well as keeping track of the money that was coming in for the fund, photocopying signs and stickers for the envelopes and inserts for the envelopes and anything else that needed doing. I went into the office at 8:30 am and with the exception of two short breaks for lunch and supper, was there until 11 pm. So no post yesterday--I hope you'll forgive me.

It was a great time--the band was Corduroy Road, and a few years from now, when they're swimming in Grammies and Juno Awards, I'll be able to say not only, "I knew them when..." but, "They're friends of mine. I've taken singing lessons from the lead singer."

The chief songwriter in the band, who is also the father and ex-husband of some of the victims, last Sunday apparently asked his wife (the singing teacher), "I'd like to raise about five or six hundred dollars. Do you think we'll get that much?"

He didn't know our folks then as well as he knows them now. We had that much before the service let out last Sunday, and three times that much before the band even played a note.

Another church member and I had a bet--She thought we'd raise five thousand. I was more conservative and said twenty-five hundred. We were both low. It truly was an amazing night.

But one thing made me really sad.

Someone organized a silent auction as part of the evening, and some wonderful treasures were offered for sale, including a set of ten beginner cello lessons from my dearest darling Ally. No talent or cello necessary, just desire to learn to play a beautiful instrument. And you don't even have to stand up to play it!

It didn't go.

Typical was one conversation I had with a friend:

Other Person: I wonder why the cello lessons didn't sell. It was such a wonderful idea, and Ally's a great player.

Me: Why don't you buy them? Put five bucks in the pot--Ally would be delighted to teach you!

OP: Me? Play the cello? Ha!

A five-year-old can do anything. He can dance. She can sing. He can fly like superman. She can save the world.

A five-year-old can draw, paint, garden, play the cello.

An adult knows better.

We can't fly like superman or save the world. We can't really heal boo-boos by kissing them away.

And we certainly can't draw, can't dance, can't sing, can't play.

We've learned so much about living, but we've forgotten how to learn.

Adults are so stupid sometimes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ask And It Shall Be Given

A heartwarming story out of our town today:

On May 1, a friend's children and ex-wife were left with only the clothes on their back after their apartment and belongings werre destroyed in a fire.

My friend and the band he's part of decided to hold a benefit concert at our church in order to raise funds to help out the family. The concert was announced in church, and afterwards my friend asked his wife (also a band member), "Do you think we'll raise $500?"

Well, I've been in the church office all week, and people have been almost literally throwing money at me. I go to the bathroom, come back, and find a cheque or an envelope on my desk or even on my chair. Half the incoming phone calls are asking about the concert, and, "Who can I make the cheque out to?" We had $500 by the end of the Sunday service, and it just keeps coming. We'll probably have three times that amount before the band plays a single note.

Our folks are like that. In fact, I find that most folks are like that. People don't like to give to a "general fund" where they don't know how the money's used. But tell them that the money is for a specific purpose that tugs at their heart strings, and the purse strings open up, too. The person to person connection really does matter.

This whole affair has got me asking myself: I wonder if I held a "special appeal" to help pay off my student loans, if it would work. Hmmm....

Probably not, but it's a nice dream.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to Friday. The band always puts on a good show, and I'll be with a whole bunch of generous people whom I genuinely like. Who could ask for anything more?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An Alien Conspiracy

This weekend my mom and dad were visiting, and a friend of Ally's came over to visit. After a few minutes in A's company, my dad said to me, "Is it my imagination, or is she nuts too?"

That statement got me thinking. Ally has three very close friends of long standing, for twenty-somethings, that is. J and Ally have been best friends since the age of ten, and A and M apparently went through grade school together. The two pairs met and bonded in the first year of high school. They're all four of them somewhat geeky, musical and very insane. They start to get the jitters if they're separated for too long, and they get outright depressed and bitchy if the separation is longer than a week or so.

Whence the origin of these four girls?

The only explanation I can come up with is that an alien scientist took a fertilized alien egg and divided it into four semi-separate parts, which were then implanted in the wombs of four unrelated and unsuspecting human victims.

The girls find this conspiracy theory amusing, and admit that it has merit. However, J not so innocently noted that I have far too much knowledge of the plot to have been ignorant of its presence.

However it turns out, I think I've proven that aliens exist and are using humans as guinea pigs...

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Problem With This Statement...

Blogging every day is really stretching my thinking muscles. I don't want my posts to be insubstantial pieces of fluff about what I had for breakfast (toast, if you really care...). At the same time, there's not a lot of time to research and write in-depth posts. And I notice that I'm jumping around quite a bit, probably because if I wrote on the same topic every single day, I'd soon exhaust it. Plus, I'd get bored pretty quickly. For those reasons, I'll probably slack off on the pace a bit when May is over. But for now, it's a good challenge for me. I'm really proud that I made it through last week without missing even Mother's Day!

Today's post comes courtesy of a statement on this site. They say:

Why do I need The Staff Recommends?

Because deciding what to read is a difficult proposition. Each year, better than 175,000 books are published, and you’re going to read what, 10? 15? 50? Books can be pricey, a real investment of money and time—you can’t afford to choose poorly. Or, you’re going on vacation and packing space is limited. Do you want to be stuck with a dud? The Staff Recommends makes sure you’ll have a dud-free reading life.

There are a few problems with that statement. Yes, there are a lot of books published every year. No, I don't have time to read them all. Then again, unless they're employing one heck of a lot of readers, neither do they. They're only reading a small percentage of the books publihsed, and even then they're probably skip reading.

And they only read books that are sent to them by publishers. And the publisher send them, hoping to get them featured. And if they are featured, the publishers pony up. It's advertising, plain and simple.

Books are expensive. That much is true. But I have a few weapons that keep me from making "mistakes" when I purchase a book.

1) When I buy a book from a bookstore, I'll read at least a little of it in addition to the jacket blurb in order to see if it's something I'd like to read. If I can do this, I almost never end up with a "dud."

2) I find reviews on the web from fans who read books that are like the ones I read. I generally read several such reviews if I'm considering purchasing a book by an author I haven't read before. These reviews are not paid for. They're not advertising by publishers in any way, shape or form. They're from fans who have read the book and enjoyed it.

3) If I decide I'd like to read a book, unless I know absolutely that I want it on my shelf (like any book written by this author), I'll check the public library for it first. If I enjoy it enough to want to read it more than two or three times, and I have the money, I'll go and buy it.

4) I don't consider having a "dud free reading life" to be a realistic or desirable goal. Sometimes, I have to read something I don't like and analyze it in order to find out why I like what I like.

5) Last but not least, I find that while allowing someone other to myself dictate what I read does open me to a wider book selection that I might otherwise peruse, most of the "duds" I've read have been the recommendations of "experts," or alternatively wildly popular books. (DaVinci Code and Twilight come to mind...)

The moral of this little sermon is this: If you really want to avoid "dud" books altogether, don't read. If you want to widen your reading list, and are willing to take a few chances, instead of reading the recommendations of paid critics, enter your likes and dislikes into Stumble, and start looking for reviews of books on topics that interest you. I can guarantee that you'll find some good ones.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Few Jokes for Church Folks

I've been celebrating Holy Humour Sunday all of this week (not that I'm loathe to tell a joke any time :p), and I've got a few jokes for y'all:

In a small Texas town, a bar began construction on a new building to increase their business. The local Baptist church started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayers. Work progressed right up till the week before opening when lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.

The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

The church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building's demise in its reply to the court.

As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork. At the hearing he commented, “I don't know how I’m going to decide this, but as it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that does not.”

And another:

Q: How many church members does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: Change? Change??? My grandmother paid for that light bulb!

And lastly:

A minister was walking down the street when he came upon a group of about a dozen boys, all of them between 10 and 12 years of age.

The group had surrounded a dog. Concerned lest the boys were hurting the dog, he went over and asked “What are you doing with that dog?”

One of the boys replied, “This dog is just an old neighborhood stray. We all want him, but only one of us can take him home. So we’ve decided that whichever one of us can tell the biggest lie will get to keep the dog.”

Of course, the reverend was taken aback. “You boys shouldn’t be having a contest telling lies!” he exclaimed. He then launched into a ten minute sermon against lying, beginning, “Don’t you boys know it’s a sin to lie,” and ending with, “Why, when I was your age, I never told a lie.”

There was dead silence for about a minute. Just as the reverend was beginning to think he’d gotten through to them, the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said, “All right, give him the dog.”

Sometimes "jokes" can hurt. Sometimes they're intended to hurt. But a lot of times, a joke can help us examine a side of ourselves that would be too painful or divisive to approach any other way.

Like change within the church. Or how and why we pray. Or what really is a sin. These topics can be too heated to discuss openly, but a joke can gently nudge us to start thinking on our own, gradually freeing us to openly and intelligently discuss topics that were once taboo.

And so I leave you, dear readers, with questions raised by these jokes.

How do you feel about the changes our moder world has wrougt in our religious institutions? How and why do you pray? What do you pray for? And do you really believe God will answer you? What is sin? What is the difference (if any) between a lie and a tall tale? When is it okay to lie? (And if you've never had children, think carefully before you answer, "Never!") (If you have raised children, you'll know that, "Never!" is not the right answer, if you answer the question honestly...)

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Weekend to Be Thankful

I just came back from supper with my parents at Swiss Chalet. It's not a common occurrence any more--Mom and Dad live a good three to four hour drive from where I live now, and I don't see them all that oten.

At dinner, we got talking about how a few of my close friends are going through some very difficult times, and how they don't have, and never had, any significant parental support. I hugged my mom (who was the one sitting next to me), and said to both my parents, "I'm so grateful you're my parents. You may not have done everything right, but you tried your best and you love me."

My heart swelled at that moment. I'm grateful that at fifty years of age, I still have two parents who are still married to one another. I'm especially grateful because I really wasn't expecting to be in this position at this point in my life. Both my grandfathers were dead by the time I reached sixteen, and by the time I was twenty-three, my parents were the elder generation in the family. My kids, by contrast, are twenty, twenty-two and twenty-five, and they still have three grandparents!

Dad, being Dad, used to predict his death. "I've only got twenty years left, tops. Ten years, five years..." He stopped that nonsense a few years back, when he'd outlived even his most generous predicitons. In September, God willing, he's going to be eighty, and even my optimistic self didn't expect a former smoker with high blood pressure and a history of heart disease (he's had a quadruple bypass) to live that long.

Mom, at seventy-five, is beginning to slow down. That means she's no longer chair of fifteen million committees at church and at presbytery. Instead, she's cut it down to one or two. Plus UCW. Plus choir...

I don't know how I got to be this lucky, and I don't know how long it's going to continue. Mom almost died a year and a half ago when her liver got infected, and Dad's mental condition is slowly but obviously heading downhill.

There will come a time, maybe sooner, maybe later, when I will have to face the rest of my life without parents. But this weekend, I have them both with me in the same city. Tomorrow morning, we're going to the market. Tomorrow evening (probably after a good long afternoon nap), we're going out for dinner. I'm going to enjoy my time with them, and make sure they know that they're loved and appreciated too.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Books I Almost Read

I figured I'd give you an update on my reading list. I've been sort of skip reading two books this week, which is how I read when what I'm reading either doesn't grab me, or grabs me a bit too hard. The books evened out to one in each category this time around:

Catcher in the Rye
is one of those books that's on every list of "must reads" that I've ever seen, so I thought I'd put it on my list for "school." But nobody told me it was about a self-centered adolescent boy who thinks he knows everything to begin with and in consequence learns very little in the course of the story. It's self-indulgent crap, or at least it would be if written as an autobiography. At least the parts I've managed to force myself to read are like that, and it sure doesn't make me want to read more. I loathe adolescent angst and self-indulgence. When my kids were that age, I told them after the first episode to cut it and skip to age 20. It didn't really work, but since my kids were pretty level-headed and outward focussed to begin with, I didn't have too much of the crap to deal with.

If I'm reluctant to live through it with my own children, whom I love, I'm not going to suffer through the angst of a fictional kid whose attitude makes me dislike him within the first paragraph. So strike that one off my list. I've got better things to do with my time, like pick lint out of my navel.

(ETA: I found this abridged version on-line a few hours after I posted. Would have saved me a couple of hours of trying to slog through the book if I'd found it last week...)

2) My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult, is an example of a book that grabs me too much for me to read front to back in one sitting. Anna is a thirteen-year-old girl who is also going through adolescent angst, but I find it easier to sympathize with a character whose angst is caused by the fact that loved or not, she's basically an object to her parents, a who was conceived solely to be a blood and marrow donor for her older sister, who has leukemia.

I've actually read, in a number of short sessions, most of the novel. And it's raised some interesting questions for me to consider. Is what Anna's parents did moral or right? Without a matching donor, their eldest daughter would have died. But a healthy child was made to undergo medical "treatment" without her consent in order to save her sister's life. Should authorities have stepped in on Anna's behalf earlier than they did? Would doctors really condone such a thing? And at what age is a child able to give informed consent? Because in the end, it's the older sister who tells Anna not to donate, indicating that the rights of both children may have been violated.

Hefty questions, and a tear-jerker of a book.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's Working!

Even in just four days, writing every day is working, both for me and my blog. I'm starting to think ahead about future posts and the direction(s) I might like this blog to take. I've also increased my modest readership, according to my stats page. Not that 13 page views a day is great or anything, but it's double what it was last week.

Today is a theme day down at the blogathon, and the theme is "My Five Favourite Writing Books." Hard, hard, hard. I have a couple of dozen books on my shelf about writing, not counting the ones on writing sermons, and they all have their good points. I also found myself wishing that the topic had been widened to include favourite writing sites online, or other resources. But then this post would be a few thousand words long, instead of a few hundred.

So, here's my list, at least for today:

1) I'd be remiss if I didn't include at least one book by Jenna Glatzer on my list. Jenna's been a friend, cheerleader and inspiration to me for the past six years. If I succeed as a writer, it will be her fault.

I chose Outwitting Writers' Block because I'm a sucker for exercises that jog me out of my usual ways of thinking, and have me look at problems from different angles.

2) Speaking of looking at things from different angles, Ariel Gore's book How to Become a Famouse Writer Before You're Dead does just that. For those of us with a wide streak of individualism, this book is a treasure. I do hope that Ariel updates sometime soon, though, because despite a copyright date of 2007, it has very little about using the internet in the book, and that avenue for publishing has exploded since then.

3) I'm a fantasy writer when I'm not writing non-fiction of various sorts, and my favourite resource by far is The Rivan Codex by David and Leigh Eddings. It's not a book about writing fantasy per se. What it does is give you all the background texts that David and Leigh wrote for their Belgariad series. It's like watching a real painter paint instead of reading a book about technique. It's both unique and valuable because of that. Even Tolkien's background books (as good as they are) aren't quite as valuable to me as The Rivan Codex, because throughout the book Eddings makes comments about how things changed in the final writing and why.

4) If Jenna was the kick that got me writing again after years of absinence, Chris Baty and Nanowrimo are the kick that got me to actually complete a second novel a couple of years back. No Plot? No Problem! is a great book for getting you out of the swamp that keeps you from putting words on the page (or screen) and back into the habit of writing daily.

5)Finally, as proof that editors aren't infallable, and that their judgements are only human, this book or one like it should be on every writer's reading list:

It will give you the courage you need to keep writing when the world seems to be telling you that your work isn't good enough and you should stop and do something easier, like build rockets.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's Time For A Change

I went. I did my duty and voted. And the candidate I voted for did not get elected, and that's okay by me. Because I know that within my riding, each person got one vote, and each of those one votes was equal to every other vote cast.

But it was apparent this morning that the ratio of one person to one vote does not hold across the country. Because sixty percent of the Canadians who cast votes yesterday voted AGAINST the Conservatives. Yet they won a majority.

Some votes, it would seem, are more equal than others. And that's just not fair, or democratic, or Canadian. We need to re-think our system of electing representatives so that it's more truly representative.

I doubt Mr. Harper will read this, but just in case he does:

Sir, you may have a majority of the seats in the House of Commons, but you are not the choice of the majority of Canadians. Please keep that in mind when you're creating policy. You DO NOT have a mandate to steamroll ultra-Conservative policies through parliament.

I don't think Elizabeth May will read this either, but just in case she does:

Congratulations! And please, over the next four years, work on a policy that includes more than just environmental issues. I'd like to see the Green Party become a truly full-fledged political party.

And to the survivors in the Liberal Party:


(And for those Americans who don't know who I'm asking for, and to those Canadians who were hidden in a barrel during the sixties and seventies (or not born yet), I'm not talking about our girl from Stratford...)

Monday, May 2, 2011

The One Thing You Shouldn't Forget

My son and his boyfriend moved into their first very own apartment yesterday. They had the mattress for the bed stored at my place for a number of months, along with various and sundry other essentials like the dishes, kitchen utinsils, table and chairs, lamps, and so forth.

Wednesday, we boogied on down to the end-of-the-month half-price sale at the Re-Store, and they bought a couch and armchair.

Saturday, they went to Ikea and bought the bed frame.

They thought they were ready to move in.

They did move in.

Today, they had to go shopping again, early in the day. Because they forgot something.

You see, you can survive in a new apartment without a bed or blankets, as long as you have a floor. You can live without food in the fridge or dishes in the cupboard--that's what Pizza Pizza is for. You can even (if you're male at least) survive for a few days with no clean clothes and no soap.

But don't, don't, don't forget the toilet paper!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The One Word Post

Ha! Gotcha!

Not really a one word post, but really short and to the point. And in the end, if you only read the very last word of the post, you'll have gotten the point.

First off (and this is not the point of this post, merely information), I've joined a challenge from this blog to write one blog post per day for the month of May. My main purpose in joining the challenge is to get into the habit of writing every day, instead of defaulting automatically to Sims 3 or Sims Medieval when I get on the computer. I'd also, of course, like to attract more traffic and followers, but I figure I can only do that if I have quality posts up. Which means I have to write every day.

Anyhow, the main point of this post is this:

Democracy only works if everyone participates.

If you're Canadian, then get out of the house tomorrow and...


And that's the word for today.