Sunday, May 31, 2009
But I am a better person than that. A much, much better person.
So instead I will simply direct you to some great snaps of my alternate life. You really need to watch this Flicker show, it's awesome.
Okay, okay, the photos were actually taken by Robert Scoble, but a girl can always dream, right?
Update: Okay, now Scoble has up even more pics (including some video); you can see the full slideshow here. And Lex has his up too. Also very cool because he knows what's really important.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I ended up with "The Deep End" by Joy Fielding, likely one of the books I had picked up at the hospital gift store this past summer. Nothing like 50 cents for a paperback and a buck for a hardcover.
It turned out to be small but fairly mighty, sucking me in to stay up to finish it last night. Just your typical "everyone is having a mid-life crisis while some serial killer is out to kill the main female character" kind of thing. Doesn't sound too appealing, does it?
But it was well done or, at least, differently done. I've seen, heard, read enough about men's mid-life crises, their need for fast cars and younger women. This was written from the abandoned wife's point of view whose best friend, apparently, was going through her own mid-life crisis.
And yet, none of this silliness was what I wanted to write about. Our main character, Joanne, has a 95 year old grandfather in a nursing home. With dementia. Whom she faithfully visits every Saturday. Grandpa never knows her, of course, and really only ever opens his eyes to ask if his daughter, Joanne's dead mother, is there. Depressing, huh?
But at one point in the book, Grandpa opens his eyes and he is there. He recognizes and knows his granddaughter. Although fuzzy on some of the details, he is able to ask about her family. And then he asks if she has time to play gin rummy.
As a kid, Joane and her grandpa had played cards all time time. So this is huge for her. She frantically rushes around trying to find a deck of cards. Transported back to her childhood, they play three or four hands. But eventually, inevitably, she can see him start to tire and she has to talk him through every hand. Then he closes his eyes and is gone again.
Heartbroken, Joanne begs him to wake up. Unsuccessful, she holds his hand and shares all her troubles with him, this man who use to be her grandfather, just your typical, run of the mill "my husband has left me, my teenage daughters are driving me insane, I no longer know my best friend and I keep getting calls where someone is threatening to kill me" kind of thing. During this tirade, Grandpa opens his eyes and asks her if she would rather trade places with him.
Three pages later she gets a call from the nursing home telling her that her grandfather has died. "It had to happen sooner or later" Joanne says. "He was ninety-five. "
At which point it struck me ~ "But he gave you such a gift". I know a bit about dementia you see, my mother having passed away six months ago tomorrow (but whose counting?) after a year long battle with dementia and other health issues.
And how well I remember those gifts she gave us. Those times when she came back from wherever she was, to be herself, to be the Mom she always had been, was always meant to be.
It would happen so suddenly, so without warning, that the turn-around was always shocking. Filled with excitement and great hope each time, there was always an equal amount of trepidation. How long would it last this time? And would I finally be able to tell her, to express what I so desperately needed to?
I connected on a visceral level with Joanne as she scurried around asking the nurses for a deck of cards. As she shared those last few hands of cards with her grandfather. Because corny or not (okay, yeah, it was a bit corny), the book touched me at various levels. This one being the strongest.
Those times when a loved one temporarily leaves the fog of dementia, temporarily returns to be with you (invariably as if nothing had happened and they had never been gone and what's the big fuss all about?) are truly gifts. With every moment to be treasured. And carefully packed away for when they once again retreat to another world. Because they will.
Gifts to be taken out and looked at longingly in what at the time seems to be the hardest of times, the worst of all times, when they are still there but are no longer there. When you visit daily but miss them so much it physically hurts.
And, perhaps more importantly, to be taken out and polished, admired and cried over in what really is the worst of times, after they are gone. For those days when
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Yeah, I really like inverted.
This past Wednesday, CFB Greenwood offered a free mini air show as part of their celebration of Canada's Centennial of Flight. Where we were treated to the Snowbirds (our version of the Blue Angels, for those not in the know) and one incredible CF 18 Hornet.
And I loved it!
I had only briefly seen the Snowbirds fly a few formations this past September. So it was great to watch all their tricks.
And after reading so much about the Hornet at Lex's but having seen only picture and video (and, of course, that great docudrama which was Jetstream), it was amazing to finally watch one fly for real.
Gawd, that sucker is loud. And amazing.
All in all it was a great afternoon. A beautiful blue sky, not a cloud in sight, picture-perfect day. And the Snowbirds ... well, to tell you the truth, I think they were a little sweet on us.
A good time was had by all. Most particularly me. Because that's important you know.
most all of the above pictures were taken by my camera-happy photographically-inclined friend, I did get a few shots. Which were of a little better calibre than the last time I tried.
Including [barely] one of that elusive CF-18.
And this last one, by the way, is a replica of the original Silver Dart first flown by John McCurdy on February 23, 1909.
Which was pretty cool, in and of itself, I thought.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Whether that's in my old age or not, I'm not quite sure. And come to think of it, that particular question is perhaps better left both unasked and unanswered.
When Pogue first made the comment, it gave me a chuckle and I took it as a good-natured jibe. But he's repeated it a couple of times since and apparently Kris agrees. Which got to me wondering ... what is it they see (or think they see) that makes them think that?
I've been hanging out at Lex's since the summer of 2006. That was when I first discovered Rhythms and I became his forever. Metaphysically speaking, that is. Anyway, the point is that would be where both Kris and Pogue *know* me from.
I really hate extremism, be it from the left or the right. Frankly I think those whose trail to either edge are more than a little on the whacked out side.
And yet considering again this question of why some might think I have become more conservative over time, I am reminded that there are many comments made and thoughts expressed by those who inhabit chez Lex's with which I disagree. And yet I often make no reply, having learned the hard way that it really does not pay. To bring a knife. To a gun fight. No how. No way. Trust me.
And since many a time I feel that I am armed with only such a knife, I oft defer and conclude that discretion is indeed the better part of valour. Unless it's something where I feel that I can really defend my point of view. Or, of course, it happens to be one of those issues where I really am unable to help myself. Speaking of the latter, sometimes I think it might just all be a set-up. And then they sit back and snicker.
But I digress.
Pondering how this could all look to an observer, I realized that silence might indeed be seen to indicate consent.
Then again, perhaps they really do recognize something I haven't. Could it be true? Could I really have changed that much in a little less than three years?
But all of this is, of course, just speculation. And so I wonder (because I really do analyze things way too much ... as if I don't have enough else to do) what it really is that causes them to make such comments.
And if I will ever find out.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Work tends to be either feast or famine lately. And sometimes, both at once. As in not enough paying work but a little too much of the pro bono variety.
And then there's the fact that I would muchly like to
Although I believe I am making some progress in the realm of gaining credibility and making my name known where I need it to be. Last Saturday I was asked to speak on the RDSP at a Caregiver Expo and I was recently asked to do a regular column for a disability newsletter. Which is kind of exciting. And a step in the right direction, I think.
Then there's the fact that the Blue Jay moves on to high school next year. Meaning meetings and various issues to get my head around. Some big issues. One of which I just found out about this past week and which definitely needs a plan of attack. As soon as I can get the time to figure one out, that is.
It would always be good to spend some one-on-one time with the girls, of course.
And it's spring. Okay, almost summer. And although it's nice to feel some warm sun on the face (and other body parts which have heretofore been covered with layers of warm clothing) it would be nice to get some flowers planted and the yard cleaned up a bit. To say nothing of the house.
I hate to let the blogs suffer though. Because I really do enjoy blogging. And when one stops posting in at least a semi-regular manner, one tends to lose their semi-regular readers. Which rather sucks.
Nonetheless we soldier on. We constantly create and update the perennial 'to do' lists. And promise ourselves that we will answer those emails. This weekend. Honest. Of course, we're also going to get that work done this weekend, too. Both the paying job and the non-paying-but-oh-so-important one. And, lest we forget, the laundry. Must. Do. That. Too.
Did I mention it's my husband's birthday tomorrow?
Which means besides picking up the cake, a card and a few question mark candles tomorrow (the Kit Kat and I have decided that the inscription will read "You're how old???"), I probably should make sure I wrap those presents tonight. Oops, better get at that.
Oh yeah, I bought myself a new bike today. Haven't had a decent one in years. Which, it's been a bit longer than that since I actually rode one. But I got out for a bit of a ride today with the kids and I hope to do some more this weekend if it doesn't rain. And I get some of that other stuff done.
But never fear. I'll be back.
Just as soon as I get some shopping done.
Why is it that I can't seem to keep those kids in clothes anyway?
Monday, May 11, 2009
The results aren't really that surprising, I suppose. Brought up as a Jehovah's Witness, I started drifting away from that in my late teens and left it completely in university.
Which left me in a rather strange place, where although I no longer believe in what the Witnesses believe and really have no use for organized religion, period, there are certain beliefs so fundamental to the way I was brought up that I can't accept any different belief in those areas. There's not that many, only a couple really, but they pretty well rule out the possibility of me even considering any other religion.
Which, with the passing of Mom, I find myself more confused about what, exactly, I do believe and suddenly I find myself with a need to figure it out. A need which, if it existed before, I was able to simply ignore. Now, not so much. So I find myself in a quizzical place at the moment when it comes to the area of religion and spirituality.
1. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (100%)
2. Jehovah's Witness (87%)
3. Baha'i Faith (82%)
4. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (79%)
5. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (75%)
6. Orthodox Quaker (75%)
7. Orthodox Judaism (73%)
8. Reform Judaism (71%)
9. Islam (71%)
10. Sikhism (68%)
11. Liberal Quakers (68%)
12. Unitarian Universalism (60%)
13. Jainism (57%)
14. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (48%)
15. Mahayana Buddhism (46%)
16. Seventh Day Adventist (45%)
17. Theravada Buddhism (45%)
18. New Age (44%)
19. Neo-Pagan (43%)
20. Eastern Orthodox (43%)
21. Roman Catholic (43%)
22. Secular Humanism (43%)
23. Taoism (41%)
24. New Thought (37%)
25. Scientology (33%)
26. Nontheist (31%)
27. Hinduism (28%)
Apparently I haven't strayed too far from my roots and I can accept that. But 100% Mormon .... I don't think so.
H/T to Kris
Yeah, I know. Another one.
But I thought it was kind of cool in that my results came back the way I would like to parent. The way I think I should parent. Which, I must admit, far from matches up with the way I sometimes parent.
When it comes to Shaping Their Character You're SpecificSo in honour of Mother's Day ... 'fess up, what's your parenting style?
Whether you're an earth mother or a PTA president (or both!), you're very concerned with setting specific expectations for your kids' behavior. You do this both by telling them what to do and acting as a role model, and, in general, you expect them to follow your careful guidance. As a parent, you think you should be very actively involved in fostering your children's growth, which includes determining what activities they should engage in – sports, tutoring, music, chores, art, yoga, whatever. When it comes to everything from family meals to manners and morals, you know what's best.
When It Comes To Making The Rules You're A Benevolent Ruler
When it comes to setting rules and expectations with your kids, you're sort of a benevolent dictator – in the nicest way. When you know what's best for them, there's no need to discuss your decisions. But when it's appropriate, you're happy to take a more democratic approach and let your kids have their say. This kind of combination of firmness and fairness means that you can have open discussions with your children while still being able to assert your authority when it matters.
When It Comes to Enforcing Discipline You're Strict
No doubt about it: You're strict! In your opinion, kids need to be told what to do and how to do it. The approach you take to discipline is firm and direct. That's what's best for your kids, since being firm helps them understand who the boss is, and helps them respect and obey the important rules you establish. When your kids step out of line, you make sure there's an appropriate punishment - not that you enjoy punishing them, and you try never to be too harsh (or too lenient, for that matter). Parents who answered like you indicate that sometimes, spanking is an appropriate form of discipline.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
The next morning we went to McDonalds for Breakfast. Then we went to Mw Baptist Church. Then we went to Pizza Delight for a lunch buffet. We went back to Mw Baptist church again. At the church we sang worship songs with the band and listened to speakers. When it was over Pastor Jon went on the bus with us on the way back. The bus drivers name was Paul. We picked up the Sr High students at ABU. (Atlantic Baptist University).
Then we went to the mall to shop. When we got there Pastor Jon gives us instructions. We got an hour and a half to shop and eat supper. At 6:15 we went back on the bus to go home. We went to Truro for a pit stop. We had a great time this weekend. The Tim Milner Band was great. We went home with tired faces.
~ The Blue Jay
Saturday, May 9, 2009
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone (or even on the toilet) and ask to be taken somewhere.
Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm busy?'
No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.
I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?
Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a taxi to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated suma cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from
England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.
I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'
It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.
I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work.
No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.
It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will be come.'
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.
The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My mom gets up at 4:00 in the morning and bakes homemade pies. Then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.'
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it
right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.
Hope this encourages you when the going gets tough as it sometimes does. We never know what our finished products will turn out to be because of our perseverance.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Obscene. Disgusting. Pathetic. At least they come somewhat closer.
That a funding skerfuffle, that the federal and provincial governments cannot agree on who, exactly, is responsible to provide the funding necessary for aboriginal children with special needs to stay at home, with their families, where they belong is sadly, perhaps, not surprising.
But that this bit of 'government infighting' as it is so colloquially called has resulted in families being told that they may be forced to give up their children because the First Nation can no longer pay for their care and federal and provincial governments can't agree on who should pay is beyond despicable.
For mother Crystal Hart, it means she may have to say good-bye to her daughter, Priscilla.And this four years after another sick child, Jordan River Anderson, spent the entire five years of his young life in a Winnipeg hospital because when doctors were ready to release him to a medical foster home at age two, provincial and federal government officials argued over who should pay for it. They couldn't even decide who would cover the cost of a special shower head he needed, for heaven's sake. Jordan never left that hospital and eventually died in February, 2005.
"I want her to get the services that she can get," she said while wiping tears from her eyes.
Priscilla Hart has Ritscher-Schinzel Syndrome. She can't speak or eat and needs to be fed through a tube. She requires constant care from a respite worker who looks after Priscilla when her parents go to work.
The Norway House Cree Nation has been paying for those services, which are required by 37 children on the reserve.
However, the band said the money has run out and the services will end May 31.
But don't worry, they learned their lesson from that. Or so they would have us believe.
In December, Members of Parliament vowed never to let such a thing happen again and unanimously voted in favour of a private members motion providing that children should come first when it comes to funding disputes and "should receive the same level of service … as children with similar needs living in similar geographic locations". Because the politicians apparently needed just a little help to figure that one out."
Aptly called 'Jordan's Principle', it apparently still isn't working so well.
Despite a letter penned by Minister of Health Tony Clement in 2007 professing that "Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is working closely with Health Canada as well as provincial and First Nations partners to ensure that jurisdictional issues do not impact a child's quality of care" and despite the Premier of Manitoba declaring that his province would be the first to implement Jordan's Principle, les enfants terrible rage on.
In an interview with CTV News, Manitoba Health Minister Keri Irvin Ross said the provincial government is not required to pay for the children's care. "These issues are a federal responsibility," she said. "We need to make sure the federal government is held accountable for it, but we are committed to supporting this community and these children."Perhaps it's time for some new election issues.
But not with any funding. Irvin Ross said the provincial government is offering its support by working with the Norway House Cree Nation in its negotiations with Ottawa. Irvin Ross said the fact that the provincial government is at the negotiating table is "new ground", and is a signal of its support for Jordan's Principle. She said the federal government has yet to respond to numerous letters requesting its involvement in finding a solution.
For example, where does the Nova Scotia government stand when it comes to Jordan's Principle? More mere lip service or is anyone really willing to put their money where their mouth is?
And as for Ottawa?
They should be ashamed of themselves. Utterly. Ashamed.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Nova Scotians will be going to the polls again. June 9th being the predicted date.
A scheduled, mandated date, you ask?
No. No, not at all. Rather a totally political decision taken for totally political reasons. Which wouldn't be so far out of the realm. After all, it is politics, right?
Right, but here's the thing. Do we really need to be doing this now? Right now? In the midst of a global economic
Talk about fiddling while Rome burns ...
This is the government that sat for seventeen (count 'em, 17) days during the last sitting of the House. And for a whole twenty days in 2006. For which it claimed the record for fewest days sitting of any Legislature in the country.
Of course, that was when the "cooperative nature of minority government [makes] for shorter debates" and "there's no sense being in the house just for the sake of having endless debates". Right on, that.
But wait, it's been all of one week and a few days this time around. Alas, this time around, with all the talk of "shovel ready" projects to stimulate the economy (or not), now, I guess we have lost some of that "cooperative nature". Pity, that.
There's this little piece of legislation, you see. It's called the Finance Act. Faced by decades and decades of growing debt, a previous Conservative government, touting fiscal responsibility, introduced legislation which demanded balanced budgets.
But MacDonald took a big chance in trying to do a little fast fiscal footwork of his own on Monday, bringing in a budget that needed to drain money that by law must go to debt reduction — Hamm’s law, by the way — in order to balance his books in an economy of shrinking revenues.Which, how did that work for you? Apparently not so well, eh.
All tolled, the government needed to switch in $84 million to balance the books for the year that just ended, plus another $180 million for the coming year.
In effect, the plan would divert $260 million to revenues, just so the Tories could insist that they had balanced the books. But they needed at least one of the two opposition parties to support the plan.
So what's wrong with those opposition parties anyway? After all, don't they know it's spend, spend, spend? That that's the only way to save the day?
Well, it's a mite bit more complicated than that, you see. Apparently the opposition parties would have agreed to a deficit going forward, just not retroactively. To clear the past budget deficit.
As things stood, both last year’s and this year’s budget would have been in deficit – under the law, though not under GAAP – unless one opposition party had agreed to an 11th-hour repeal of 2005 legislation that requires the province to treat offshore-offset revenues ($105.9 million last year and $180.1 million this year) as a minimum surplus to reduce net direct debt. The opposition didn’t bite. So the budget then ran afoul of another law restricting deficits. Mr. Muir’s (law-defined) $84-million 2008-09 deficit would have had to be recovered (again, by law) as a first charge on the 2009-10 budget. Covering this, plus $180.1 million in offset revenue he wouldn’t be able to use, would have swamped Mr. Muir’s micro-surplus and put this year’s budget in deficit, too. But the law also says he can’t table a deficit budget. So this year’s budget would have had to be withdrawn.And as for the proposed budget, itself ... good, bad, indifferent? Who knows?
The muddle was further complicated by the move in March to re-do a funding deal with universities, so $256 million in cash flowed to them in the last fiscal year instead of this one. Why? We were headed for a $278-million accounting surplus in 2008-09 (with $172 million in uncommitted revenue on top of the $105.9-million offshore offset). But by eating into the offset payment, the government made the budget hostage to an unlikely change in the law and an impractical restriction on deficits in a recession.
Ironically, no current cash is associated with the offshore-offset accounting revenue. Nova Scotia received the cash and used it to pay down market debt five years ago. The $180.1 million could only pay bills this year if we borrowed back cash. The budget papers acknowledge "this amount will be included in the borrowing program for the upcoming year."
The budget passed GAAP and tackled recession, but defending it was, and is, akin to explaining string-theory physics, with too many strings.
So we’re into an election campaign whose cost will by itself easily wipe out Mr. Muir’s projected $4-million surplus. It would have been a lot simpler and wiser just to come to grips with running a recession deficit – something whoever wins is likely to do.
So, yeah, politics as usual.
Who knows, maybe someday we will even get to use our piece of the federal government's economic stimulus plan.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Fortunately he's stubborn, very, very stubborn.
Stubborner even than I.
Did I mention he was stubborn?
Anyway he's stubborn enough to keep trying no matter the results. He's rather stubborn that way.
But I saw this today over at Lex's and thought .... if only....
Yeah. If only.