Thursday, 25 April 2013

Thursday Thermals - April 25, 2013

Minus 2 and a dusting of snow out my window today - Thursday thermals indeed! - but it is a clear morning with the sun streaming through our trees and promising a pretty day. I have mixed feelings about today. I am excited about the beginning of a new adventure and also plagued by annoying pockets of doubt. Change is like that.

One of my biggest concerns is having to abandon this blog for a bit. I've only just returned to regular writing here, so it seems like a huge mistake on my part to leave my followers behind, not to mention that the break will be a huge loss to me too! I will try to post something from time to time, but truly cannot promise my usual pace of two a week. Have no fear though, regularly scheduled programming will return in a month.

In the mean time I'm off on assignment, discovering new things to write about. There will be many tales to tell in Monday Moanings and Thursday Thermals.

Take care of each other.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Monday Moanings - April 22, 2013

So much to do; so little time.
I'm feeling somewhat overwhelmed at the top of this week. Is this an age thing? I recall that not too many year ago a week full to the brim was something I got excited about. Positively energized, I bounced out of bed Monday morning and hit the ground running, not stopping until Friday afternoon. Now, I may bounce out of bed and even hit the ground walking quickly, but a single day sprint is the best I can manage.

And I fret! Man oh man do I get wound up about how to get through that endless To Do list, and where does  all that anxious energy get me? Directly to the into the failure bin, thrashing around in waters of despair -- UNLESS I set my mind and body to 'doing' instead worrying; then, wonder of wonders, all the essentials get done often with enough time left over to wonder what I was so worried about.

Today is Earth Day. "Act for the Planet" is the slogan this year. Now surely, here's another opportunity to be overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. I can sign petitions, re-post to Facebook and retweet on Twitter all the calls to action; I can donate support to local and national initiatives, but the first best thing I can actually do, the best personal action I can take, is to make environmentally responsible choices at home today and every day. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - as tedious as it is to sort through my discards, castoffs and refuse; as inconvenient as it is to find and then get to reputable recyclers of electronics, metal, window glass, Styrofoam packing blocks and other obscure trash; as frustrating as it is to understand the curbside recycling rules and schedule - Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

So much to do; so little time...

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Thursday Thermals - April 18, 2013

Well it's been quite a week -- too many explosions, and I'm not just talking about Boston but also Mogadishu, Baghdad, and Bangalore. Sadly, I'm sure there were more. It's all just too much -- too much violence, too much mindless destruction, too much hatred, AND too much sensationalism (see Carly Bumstead's excellent blog).

The last thing I need is more words, so today I offer a picture gallery.
Nice pictures, gentle pictures, fun pictures.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Monday Moanings – April 15, 2013

Standing at the top of the hill of another week, thinking about whether to get in the wagon and begin the ride. It doesn’t look like a bad week as far as I can see, but damn, you just never know what’s going to jump out at you.

Two things are on my worry list at the top of this week. The first is this H7N9 Bird flu outbreak in China. To date there have been 13 deaths out of 60 cases; that’s an alarming 21.7% mortality rate. The good news is that as of this date there is no evidence of human to human transmission and also that China has been more forthcoming with reporting the outbreak to the World Health Organization. SARS was only ten years ago and I well remember not only the death and illness it brought but also the fear and panic. I was a hospital chaplain at the time and we had a few SARS patients. Staff suddenly became very quiet. Gone was the usual banter and chit chat.  Of course we were all shielded and masked and gloved and gowned which were at least significant visual barriers to communication.  All those face masks uncovered a surprising number of very skilled lip readers who otherwise quite deaf. I trust that there are more than a few preparedness plans that have been dug out of storage and put within arms’ reach.

The other thing on my worry list is North Korea. April 15 was touted as the day the leadership just might ‘walk their talk’ and launch a missile. So far the founder’s birthday celebrations have not included such fireworks. Beyond the general global fears of war, I have a mother’s fear. My son serves in the Canadian Army.

I can actually do nothing about either of these worries in my week. I can do nothing to control their outcomes for good or ill. The best thing I can do is get in my wagon and push off into the week. At least I get to steer my wagon.
And besides – it’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Thursday Thermals - April 11, 2013

I promised an update today on my serious 'bum in chair' writing and here it is: some 3000 more words have  made it onto paper since Monday afternoon, for a total of 17,517 since January 20th (see Monday Moanings - April 8). Woo hoo! This is especially gratifying as for some reason I chose to focus on my mother's last months on this earth for this part of the memoir, and the weather here in my part of the world has been nothing short of miserable - enough to suck back the ink in any pen.

Spring has been pretty much a non-starter this year, reluctant would be a generous description. My current 'forecast' is that this season of promise will amount to the two or three days between the furnace going off and the air conditioner coming on. You heard it here first!

I confess to being somewhat of a weather geek. First thing every morning after a passing glance at the outdoor thermometer, I fling open the drapes and scan the sky, then it's over to my PC for a check of the weather radar and forecasts (multiple sources). I love a good thunderstorm and marvel at its development in the clouds. It's in my genes.

My Dad, Bev Cudbird, was a weatherman, a meteorologist with Environment Canada until retirement and then the staff meteorologist for radio station CFRB from the late seventies to the early 1980's. I like to think he pioneered that media role. Of course radio has some definite advantages over TV; presenters don't have to worry about what they're wearing, and as in my Dad's case, one doesn't even have to be in the studio. Most of Dad's broadcasts came from the upstairs den in my parents' condo in Etobicoke. If you listened carefully to some of those broadcasts you could hear the chattering of the two teletype machines that spewed out the latest observations and forecasts on reams of newsprint paper.

For Dad there was no room for moaning and groaning about the weather, though there was plenty of room  to chastise forecasters for spending so much time peering at radar and studying forecast models, that they forgot to look out the window. I can see him now, tearing off a sheet from the teletype, looking at the latest official forecast, ripping it in two and yelling, "Look out the goddam window!"

He would take a day like today with its snow, cold and ice pellets and tell us how good this is for soil moisture and lake levels, how good this is for food crops - bright green peas, long orange carrots and later in the season, bright red tomatoes, warm from the garden. So that's how I'm going to look at today - a luscious tomato in the making!

Thanks Dad!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Monday Moanings - April 8, 2013

My book – a memoir about the journey with my mother through Alzheimer’s – needs work. Actually it needs words, some serious bum in chair, pencil in hand time. Some 15,000 words are already done as part of my effort to produce a full manuscript by the end of December, but I’ve got to get another 12K down by April 24th.
Well that’s less than a thousand words a day – no problem! But here’s what happens:

Saturday dawned with great intentions and to be fair I did spend a couple of hours mapping out the story so far; the pieces already written and those yet to be written were laid out chronologically.  Indeed a worthy pursuit, but no actual writing was done.

Sunday arrived. It too was filled with writing plans and good intentions, but I fretted away the morning – that timeline thingy I produced Saturday sucked me into a web of ‘shoulds’, ‘oughts’ and ‘oh my god, what have I forgottens’! It was the perfect sinkhole for a recovering perfectionist. I then spent the afternoon reading through the email diary (all the emails exchanged among my sisters and others) of the journey, almost a book in itself. Again a good piece of research, and I did find a few gems I’d forgotten about, but still no writing.

Monday brings new resolve: Hello my name is April and I am a perfectionist. It has been eighteen hours since my last relapse. And today I am writing – first this blog and then on to a section of the memoir I mapped out last night when sleep eluded me.

I gotta get going folks. My brain is already well into the memoir section while my fingers scribble hard and fast to finish these words. Meet me back here Thursday and I’ll give you an update.

Addendum: I really would be remiss if I didn’t offer some comment on the passing of Dame Margaret Thatcher. If you have not seen the movie, “The Iron Lady” with Meryl Streep in the leading role, do search it out; a great portrayal of a truly remarkable woman. The heavenly host is rumbling today, ‘Brace yourselves, Maggie has come home!’

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Thursday Thermals - April 4, 2013

I have arrived - at 60 that is.
No anguished cries, no kicking and screaming, just a quiet transition into a new decade.
JohnWesley (1703-1791) asked his friends and fellow believers this question: "How goes it with your soul?" It is a question I often gently ask myself and today the answer is that I am well. I am content. I am at peace. A deep joy bathes my soul. And all is well, all manner of things are well.

I offer two pieces of writing today, neither one of them mine, but each one echoes my truth this day.
First a poem, written by Rev. Melissa Bowers, addressed to the women of my life, past and present. To be fair, there are a couple of men out there who have been of equal importance to me, and the words apply just as well to you guys!

Praise to the Women on my Journey 

To the women on my journey
     Who showed me the ways to go and ways not to go,
     Whose strength and compassion held up a torch of light
        and beckoned me to follow,
     Whose weakness and ignorance darkened the path and
        encouraged me to turn another way.

To the women on my journey
     Who showed me how to live and how not to live,
     Whose grace, success, and gratitude lifted me
        into the fullness of surrender to God,
     Whose bitterness, envy, and wasted gifts warned me
        away from the emptiness of self-will.

To the women on my journey
     Who showed me what I am and what I am not,
     Whose love, encouragement, and confidence held me
        tenderly and nudged me gently,
     Whose judgment, disappointment, and lack of faith called
        me to deeper levels of commitment and resolve.

To the women on my journey who taught me love by
        means of both darkness and light,

To these women I say bless you and thank you from the
        depths of my heart, for I have been healed and set free
          through your joy and through your sacrifice.


This second piece was written by Katherine Tyler Scott (in “Women’s Uncommon Prayers” ©2000, Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, PA, pg. 3). I think I'll just let the words speak for themselves...

I am a Woman
born of God
I am a woman
born of love

I am caring and competent
vulnerable and powerful
seeking wholeness
physically, emotionally, and spiritually

I am a woman
reaching out to others
making a difference in myself
my family
and the world

I am empowering myself
to empower others

I am struggling to accept my anger
and use it to gain strength, confidence,
courage, and intimacy with others

I am a woman
who sees the interconnectedness of all human beings
who values the unique gifts of all

I am a woman who leads and follows
who accepts responsibility for myself
and the choices I make

Yes, I am a woman
who sees each day as a new beginning
a chance to grow in self, love, and service

I am a woman
born of God
I am a woman
born of love
And I can be
All that I am.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Monday Moanings - April 1, 2013

April Fools Day - God how I loathed this day when I was a child. There was no fun in having my name, April, associated with 'fool'. No matter how hard I tried, how brave a face I began the day with, I always ended up feeling every bit a despicable fool.

The only escape from this annual day of dread came when April 1st fell on the weekend, and those even less frequent years when the date was consumed by Good Friday or Easter Monday. I survived of course. I'm happy to report that except for the briefest of twinges in my depths, gone is the great anxiety that used to accompany the day. There is no need for me to expend great gobs of energy steeling myself against pranksters.

 And besides, Today is Easter Monday! Today is a good April Fools Day.

Checking out the BBC this morning, I was reminded of one of the most famous pranks of all. On April 1, 1957 they aired a piece about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland. It was narrated by one of those quintessentially sincere BBC voices. A lot of people embarked on fool's errands in search of spaghetti seeds, cuttings, and plants; some were very irate to discover their folly.

I recall watching the clip with my folks and my Dad becoming almost apoplectic with laughter. For years afterwards, there were frequent references in our house to spaghetti trees always accompanied by great chortling. I have chuckled and grinned my way through much this April Fools Day buoyed by this one fabulous story and memory.

Here's to spaghetti trees everywhere!
God bless the BBC.