Saturday Quotes

We, who have so much, must do more to help those in need.

And most of all, we must live simply, so that others may simply live.

A friend wrote here about Canada's budget. As she noted, there is enough tax money to take someone out for a nice dinner - and there's nothing wrong with that. But, if I'm supposed to be improving the economy, I'd rather buy some library books at the library. Or buy diapers for a single mum. Or get some counselling for a woman leaving prostitution. Or help a person pay their rent this month. Or quietly bring joy to someone.

A "tax" on me

To quote the words of a song, Mr. Spit and I are above the below, and below the upper -alright. We do well enough. More than well enough, really.

Don't believe me?
  • I turned on my tap to fill my water bottle, and clean water poured out. Clean, drinkable water. Which makes me better off than 1.8 billion people in this world.
  • As I was leaving my house this morning - unlike the 640 million children who have no home - the kids across the street were heading into school - unlike 57% of female school-aged children, who will never step foot in a school.
  • I delivered my son, in the midst of an extraordinarily high-risk pregnancy. Do you know what it cost me? $36 for the chlomid to conceive him. By the time Mr. Spit's supplementary insurance kicked in, I actually paid $7.20. That's the only bill I ever saw.
  • And while Gabriel died, I did not. Unlike Africa, where a woman will die every 6 minutes - for want of a bag of Magnesium Sulfate, worth about $5 a bag.

So, when I calculated my tax savings with the new budget, and realized I was getting a whopping $166 extra, I shrugged my shoulders. The money ($13.38 a month) will buy me 2.9 lattes at work. I'll contribute to the economy, making sure that my favourite barista has a job. Maybe. I doubt that my 3 extra lattes make all that much difference.

But, there's another side to my $166. When the Federal Government gave me my $166, it meant that they couldn't give it to someone else. Someone got less. As it so happens, I know who it was.

And I'll start by saying that I'm not a hero. I don't wear a cape, I don't deserve your accolades, I'm just doing what needs to be done. For a few months now, Mr. Spit and I have been paying our neighbour's power bills. She's a single mum, and she can barely make ends meet, and it's a struggle, and we could do this little bit to help. It's Canada. It is simply not an option to go without electricity and water and natural gas to heat your house. It's not. And my mum and I have quiet conversations about how her young daughter will afford university in 2 years, because she's so damn smart, and she has so much potential, and we mutter about amounts, and say "well, if we all kicked in. . . .". (So, if I'm phoning you in 2 years, you'll know why.)

And we get angry - my family and I. We get angry because we know that if we didn't help, there's no program. She'd be juggling paying her rent, or paying her power bill, and sooner or later she'd be evicted, and then homeless, and then what? In a country as rich as Canada, how can Mr. Spit and I be what stands between a family and homelessness? What about all the family's whose power bills I am not paying? How and when do things get easier for them?

And I looked at my tax return, and I realized that my savings aren't even 15% of her monthly power bills. I'll buy an extra latte or three, and my neighbour will struggle to make ends meet, even with my help. She'll get no real help from this budget either. In fact, she gets $66 dollars under this budget.

$166 is an insult to me. But far more than that, it's an insult to my neighbour. It's an insult that I will go and buy a latte or lunch, while she parcels out her pennies to feed and clothe and house the next generation. It's an insult that I'll go and buy a frivolous pair of shoes to help out the economy, while the economy is leaving my neighbour behind.

And so when I read about how much I'm getting, I think, "I'll tell you what. You take my $166, and Mr. Spit's and my mum's, and my knitting buddy's, and all those like us, and you give them to her. And she pays her utility bills, and sends her daughter to university. Without charity.

You tell me, Minister Flaherty that this is Canada's Economic Action Plan. Real hope for families. Not quite Sir. In MY Canada, help is given to those who need it, not those who don't."
numbers from here

How Dying Works

I was sitting at my desk, during lunch on Monday. I heard 2 co-workers talking about death.

Specifically, they were talking about the death of someone close to them. They were talking about how it frightened them. How they didn't think they could manage, deal with the death of someone close to them.

"I'd curl up and die.

I'd never get out of bed again.

I couldn't cope."

I find myself - frustrated isn't quite the world, but neither is angry. I'm not sure discontented is right, and livid doesn't explain the depth of my resentment and their lack of understanding, leaving me throwing up my hands. I'd make up a word, but without the commonness of words, you still wouldn't understand. Perhaps, perhaps it is enough if we just say that this conversation has stayed with me.

The sentiment is just so completely wrong. You wouldn't die. You would get out of bed, and you would cope. And whatever would make you think, just because you couldn't cope with the death of your husband, your child, your mother, that you won't have to? Do you honestly think my son died, because God on high looked at me and said "Oh, she'll be able to cope". Innocence, credulity, they do not protect you from tragedy and death. There is no insurance from pain. You can't avoid it forever.

I am not a miracle worker. I am not the iron woman. I am not all that remarkable. I am not especially resilient. My faith is not amazingly strong. I am only human.

I did not die - however much I have wished I might have. My dreams of life with my son are dead and gone, my faith that once you get past 12 weeks you will go home with a baby, my faith in a world that babies don't die, my faith in a world where women don't die in childbirth, that's dead. My smug sense of morality about the choices we must make on the fringe of life and death, that died. My ability to look past those who are hurt, the grieving, that died.

I got out of bed - every morning. And it isn't getting out of bed that's the problem. It's the waking up. You don't have to get out of bed to wake up, and you can't sleep forever. Waking up is that terrible moment when your conscious mind returns, and you realize that your child is dead, has died, is still dead, and you are the mother of a dead baby, and this really is your life, and it will continue on today. And in that horrible moment you go through your baby's death all over again. But, you get out of bed. It makes no difference where you are, it all just hurts.

I coped - I went from days where I sat at my kitchen table, sitting staring at nothing, unable to move, unable to stay still, to knitting a shawl for my midwife, stitch after stitch, row after row. Obsessive. From there I ventured to the coffee shop, where I held a baby again, for the first time. I ventured into public, into an event filled with families. You return to work, to school. You venture back into your old life, with a new you. For the first time, someone you called a dear friend says or does something thoughtless. And you survive that. You make plans for the future, you go past milestones and anniversaries. Due dates. When your child has been gone longer than they have been alive, their first birthday. My birthday. Perhaps you begin to plan to have another baby. You realize that the world has moved past your grief, long before you have.

One day you realize that life is for the living. One day, you wake up without reliving the death. One day you realize how much time has passed. You realize that you have coped. You are coping.
And that, that is how you make it through. It's not glamorous, it's not exciting. It's hard, moving in fits and lurches and false starts. But, it's how we make it through the death of those we love. It's how dying works.

Drift Away

No etiquette column today. Work stuff got in the way. But, as M. assures me, I'm an expert.

I'm reading Canada's Federal Budget Canada's Economic Action Plan (343 pages baby!) and listening to this guy.

Drift Away

Line after line I'm more confused
But I look for the light through all that debt
I know it's a tax that I'm gonna pay
And I'm feelin' broke
And I'm feelin' pain

Gimme the budget
Jim, and free my tax
I don't wanna get lost in your graphs and charts and drift away...
Gimme the number Jim, and free my eyes
I don't wanna get stuck in your forecasts and drift away...

Beginning to think that I'm wasting time
Don't understand a word you write
The bottom line looks so unkind
Now I'm counting with you
34 billion in debt to see us through

Not funny?

Ok, I also liked this.
I'm always up for another pet. . .


It has been a musical weekend, starting on Friday with the restaurant. It was all the old songs that you always mean to put on your iPod, and then you forget about your intentions as soon as the song is over.

On Saturday, Mr. Spit bought Rock band for his new (old) PS3. As I type this, I can hear him banging away on the drums.

My mother and I went to the theater tonight, to see a performance called Three Mo' Tenors. They did a mix of opera and show tunes and Motown and R and B and some spirituals.

They sang the song I sang to Gabe upon his birth. It's not a particularly common song, and I was surprised to hear it. Apprehensive and pleased. Comforted.

I suppose that there was a wide variety of music that I could have sung to Gabriel. The entire text of the mass in Latin. Hymns. The Connemara lullaby, Brahms Lullaby, You are My Sunshine, any one of a number of pieces. I am not particularly musical, but I have enough music in my head that I could have picked any one of a number of pieces.

It's not like I had it planned - this singing bit. It's not like I had spent any time thinking about what I might sing this child of mine. In fact, I hadn't thought I would sing at all. I've sung in choirs, but I wouldn't call myself a singer. I don't sing in the shower, while I work, I don't sing much at all. I can't say that I planned to sing, and still, when I think about taking him in my arms and singing to him, I am a bit surprised. It just doesn't seem like something I would do. And however natural I am told that I looked, I crook my head to the side and think "really?".

My midwife handed me my son, and I cradled him in my arms. Sitting on the ground, not very far from where I had pushed him into this world, I looked into his face, staring at him, this mixture of Mr. Spit and I. I looked at the hand peeking out of the blankets, staring at his long fingers.

For just a few moments, in that room full of people, in that room full of emotion and pathos and tragedy too close for comfort - for just a few moments in such a very fine line between this world and the next, the terrible and harrowing battle between good and evil- there was only Gabriel and I.

Horror and pain and sorrow and terror would come. Exhaustion and numbness and agony would overtake me, leaving me bereft and destroyed, only slowly coming back to life one year later. But in those moments, seconds after birth, I have never been more aware and mindful and present. In that time, I was fully with Gabriel, and no sorrow and pain could touch us. There was only him and I.

And out of my mouth came an African-American spiritual. A song of lament. A song about dying. A song about slavery, and pain, and hope.

A mother singing her son into the world and out of it.

Some body's calling my name.
Oh My Lord.
Oh My Lord.
What shall I do?

And for five minutes tonight, in a theater full of people, I could go back there. There was only him and I.


Monday Miscellany

This is going to be short. Not because I'm tired, but because there is a little black cat on the shelf behind my computer, and he keeps chewing on paper, and I'm not sure what the paper is, or if it is important paper.

  • We are the proud owners of Rock Band. Yes, it's official, the Spit's are too cool for - umm, I don't know. Not school. We have about 13 years of school between us. To cool for something.
  • The cats have continued to barf. The plant is looking decidedly worse for wear. The plant has been moved several feet in the air while we all consider our next moves.
  • Thanks for all your very nice comments about my knitting. Now I have to power through something so that I have something to show off this Friday.

AND . . . .

Do YOU have a craft something to show off? I was thinking we could have ourselves a finished project Friday Carnival once a month, here at the Chez Spit Blog. (We could have it at my house, but, umm, it's a small house, and there are a lot of you, and well, you wouldn't all fit, and it would be a bit of a drive for you.)

So, are you interested? Leave a note in the comments. I might even try to figure out Mr. Linky.

And I really have to go, as there is more ripping, and I'm worried that those might be important-like papers.

The Toby Award

Given to those who perform silent but heroic acts. Those that would never think of praising themselves. People who probably don't even realize how remarkable their actions are. Those who work hard to make the world a better kind of place, just by virtue of who they are and the decisions they make. For those who are much like Sir Toby, shy and quiet, and always willing to come and lie on your chest and snuggle their furry head into your shoulder.

The Nominee:
I "met" this nominee when she was in the hospital with pre-eclampsia. And I hesitated to comment on her blog. I'm not the poster child for pre-e gone well. But finally did, and then I really got to know her, and I have come to enjoy her immensely. Trish at Fertile Hope is a great mum, and a wonderful human being.

There are 2 tendencies when you are the parent of a special child. You can either romanticize the challenges, or focus so much on the challenges that you never talk about the joy and wonder. Trish does neither. She does a brilliant job of talking about what it's like to be the mum of a little boy who struggles to eat. She talks about the hard parts, the frustrating parts, but she talks about the delight as well. Robbie truly is a remarkable little human.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you would join me in raising your glass. Albus Dumbledore was quite right, there are many varieties of courage. One type is to get up every morning, knowing that it is going to be hard.

To Trish.

Are always gratefully accepted and can be sent to the email on my profile page.

Saturday Quotes

She glances at the photo,
and the pilot light of memory flickers in her eyes.

~Frank Deford
Off to a scrapbooking day. See you tomorrow.

Friday's are for finished projects

Mr. Spit's hat. The fair aisle pattern is from my book of traditional fair aisle patterns. The hat pattern is of my own devising. Louet wool. (Riverstone Chunky, in Cream, Cariboo and Sandalwood)

More detail of the fair aisle patterning.

MIL knee warmer (don't ask, she asked, I knit it). I can't imagine why someone would want a pattern of this. The cheapest grey acrylic that my stash had to offer up.

Sweater for local toddler out of wool his mum spun from his nanna's sheep. Sort of modified from sweater in Men in Knits, using measurements from Ann Budd's amazing book of knitting patterns

JamieD, did you think I was kidding? A hat for your wee one.
Debbie Bliss Cashmere. My own pattern.


Yep, blah.

Possibly even blarg.

I was going to write about the results of the Secret Shopping Mission (SSM), but it has, alas, been postponed due to a scheduling conflict.

I have nothing interesting to say about the inauguration, that other people haven't said better than me.

I'll have new knitting photo's tomorrow. Nothing today.

I brought home a new plant, and the cats are eating it. It's not poisonous. I suspect they'll barf. Probably on the couch. Again.

I have a headache and I'm tired, and I have a sinus infection.

What's new in your world?

Sweet Memory

Happy Birthday Myles.

Wishing with all my heart, that you were here with your mummy and daddy.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Revelation 21:4

The Purpose Driven Marriage

On Saturday, after completing the Secret Shopping Mission(SSM), I happened to go home and log on to Christianity Today. The SSM has much to do with marriage, and in a weird bit of synchronicity, I happened to be reading about marriage. I am assuming, as a result of Rick Warren's prayer at the Inauguration, there was an article about the Purpose-Driven Marriage. (1)

I looked up at Mr. Spit and asked if we have a Purpose-Driven Marriage. Or wondering, have we been wandering, lost and purposeless, lo these last 8 years. Mr. Spit, God bless him, looked at me blankly.

There was me, thinking that we should get us one of them there Purpose Driven Marriages, and my DH was asking a sensible question. Why would we want a Purpose Driven Marriage?

Rick Warren has this to say:

In other words, until you realize you were placed here for God's purposes, then
your life—and your marriage—will be difficult, complicated, and exhausting.
But once you understand God's plan, your life—and your marriage—take on new

Now, given that my life and my marriage, have at times, since Gabriel's death, been difficult, complicated and exhausting, it is tempting to believe that if I only developed a Purpose Driven Marriage, and got Mr. Spit on board, well, things would not be difficult, complicated and exhausting. Indeed, when I look back on almost 8 years of marriage, it is easy to find times that have been difficult, complicated and exhausting. You mean we could have escaped all of this with a 5 point plan? (1)

What? Honest? They'd still be hard? Huh.

Now, even as I'm poking some fun at Rick's expense, I'm wondering. Why on earth do Christians fall for this? No, really, I'm asking. Why do we assume that God responds to our moves in some sort of pre-arranged dance? We move to the left (or, perhaps I should say the right) and have a Purpose Driven Marriage, and suddenly God says, "Oh the trials and tribulations of 'real life', they get a by. They have a Purpose Driven Marriage."

It's not that I object to what Rick Warren has to say about marriage, about how to have a good marriage. I think he has some great ideas. I object to branding marriage. I object to the notion that there is only one way for a couple to have a good marriage. I object to the idea that a couple can read this article, or the book, and not have to figure it out on their own. And after almost 8 years of marriage, I resent the implication that marriage is anything more than a magnificent mystery. I object to the idea that we shouldn't have times that are difficult, complicated and exhausting. That's when we forge bonds to our spouse. In those Indiana Jones moments -when we are standing back to back, yelling about the world that is swirling around us, that's when we grow closest.

Perhaps as much as anything, I'm left a bit perplexed. God isn't purpose driven. Anything that created the aardvark, the kangaroo and the giraffe in one day, a being that created star systems for me to look at, the entire Andromeda Galaxy for me to marvel over, that created that much diversity in people, made my best friend laugh the way she does, that being isn't purpose driven. To be purpose driven is to reduce things to their barest essentials, the lowest common denominator. It's to make everything uniform and efficient. It's to remove mystery in favour of function. God is none of those things.

You can keep your purpose driven life and marriage Mr. Warren. I'll take mine, with all it's messiness and inefficiencies. I'll take meandering toward heaven, not a relentless march toward uniformity.

(1) You can read the text here.
(2) All Anglican sermon's are based on a five point plan. Except for the holiday ones, like Christmas and Easter, which are 3 point plans, and the sermon delivered when the Bishop comes, which is 7 points.

Monday Miscellany

  • Mr. Spit and I were leaving a local shopping mall, after completing our Secret Shopping Mission(SSM), and as we walked out the doors, and into the parking lot, there was a guy, wearing pants (with his underpinnings a good half inch above the waist band of his jeans), no shirt, applying deodorant, all while standing outside his passenger door. If I had come out 15 mins earlier, would I have seen him with a washcloth and soap, I wonder?

  • The cold is a bit better. For a good week I sounded much worse than I felt, and then suddenly on Friday, I felt much worse than I sounded.

  • A public service announcement: If someone you are close to is diabetic, get them to teach you how to use their glucometer and how to give them insulin. My mother has been a type 1 diabetic for about 12 years now, and I did the diabetic training with her, but when she got very sick with Norwalk Virus over the weekend, I had no memory of how to check blood glucose. It was a bit tense.

  • After 1.5 years, we finally have some photo's up in the den. This is very exciting.

  • And finally, Miss Amelia, I've done my bit, now it's your turn.

A cure for the common cold

Boiling water. Lemon. Honey. Grantham's hot buttered rum mix, if you are like that. You could put in tea, but that just takes away the taste of the bourbon.

The new camera arrived today. Along with a PS3, and the absence of Mr. Spit.

(no toby award nominations this week.)

Saturday Quotes

I was looking for a quote on having the flu, but couldn't find anything I liked. It was all to mystic or holistic or some such poppycock. There was nothing which left me smiling, that hit the right level of wittiness at the frailties of humans with cold.

Which, I am afraid, leaves me a very little bit stuck. My weekend quotes generally have something to do with stuff I have written about in the past week, or possibly how my week has gone.

so, I can't think of a single thing. Other than one of my favourite Bible verses. Nothing about illness or insurance, or stupid things at the office.

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19:25-27

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

One of the things that I like about commentors, aside from the fact that it eliminates the feeling that I am speaking to an empty room, is that I get to read more stories.

I can follow a commentator back to their blog, and start reading their words, their stories.

I enjoy it. I really do.

The challenge of course, is that I have to know about you, to be able to read your blog. I have to know that you read me.

Google Analytics tells me that I have had 7,638 absolutely unique viewers since I started tracking on May 29th, 2008.

I have had approximately 7 comments a post, and I have published 359 posts since I started in March. Which means I have received 2513 comments.

Or, to put it another way, 5215 people have read, and not commented.

Now, this really isn't that big of a deal. I read and don't comment every day. You aren't compelled to comment. Sometimes there just isn't anything to say.

But I'm curious, if you have never come out, would you mind doing so? Would you tell me who you are? When you started reading? Why? What makes you keep reading?

And would you tell me where your blog is?
I'd like to return the favour.

Words on a Page

I was asking a friend about getting medical records. The conversation started about privacy, a field that affects both of our careers, and then it got on to health records, and then on to ordering them, and before I knew it, I had decided, without every really thinking of it, to order mine, from Gabriel's delivery.

Perhaps only to glance through, and then put in the drawer with the information from the funeral home, and the other leavings from the death of a child. The paperwork and the forms and the things that we acquire. And we hold on to them, just because they are our connection with our lost child. We hold on to them, even though they make no sense, have no meaning, we no reason for storing them, because they connect us to that time, and to our child. And so, perhaps only for that reason, I wanted medical records.

There is no medical mystery, the sequence of my days and the disease was normal. The degeneration, the symptoms, the affect on Gabriel. We all know what happened. No inscrutability. The disease was more aggressive, more vicious, exerting a higher cost than is normal, but the diagnosis, the treatment, the outcome, they are within normal.

And so, I sat yesterday, with a cup of coffee, at my kitchen table, paging through the records. I am sitting at my computer now, with another cup of coffee, and I am left.

I should like to say more, I should like to tell you of something I have learned. I could tell you of the sudden, frank tears when I read the neonatology consult report. "Recommend Compassionate Care. No Resuscitation. No need to attend delivery." I can tell you the discharge summary. Mine and Gabe's. I could read from the pathology report. "Infant Male. Approximately 26 weeks gestation. Normally formed. Small for Gestational Age. IUGR. Placenta insufficient. In 10th percentile. Significant focal infarcts present."

I could read to you from the perinatologists report. "Discussed with patient. Guarded prognosis for mother. Has elected to deliver without c-section. Does not wish resuscitation."

The nurses' charting disturbed me. Perhaps if I had known, I would not have spoken. "Patient is tearful. Patient is crying. The writer spoke with patient about dead baby, patient appears to be coping". And a strange one. "Patient's partner is going for dinner. Patient asked 'When do I get a break?". I did. I remember. Mr. Spit left the hospital to catch his breath and take a break. I had my mum and my midwife, and as he was preparing to leave, I smiled at him, and teased him about how he should stay and labour, and I would go and have dinner.

The documents, 70 odd pages, were spread across my kitchen table. I have read them. Poring over unfamiliar words, poor handwriting. Deciphering abbreviations, the strange shorthand of the medical profession. Flipping back and forth, occasionally walking over to my computer to google a term, or send an email asking a question.

I do not know what I expected. There was no more closure, no extra answers. I am not upset by the process, I am not particularly distressed. In fact, it seems as if the entire situation should have been more momentous than it was. I am not surprised. I flipped the last page, picked up the papers, tapped them on the table to square them, and tucked them back in the envelope. I will leave them there, in case Mr. Spit wants to read them when he returns home.

In the end, I return to the paragraph above. I am left. As I was before, so I still am.

I'm a Lady and so are you. . . .

Alright then:

Your homework from the last installment of Mrs. Spit the Etiquette Freak was to tell me about your sticky situations with guests. I was going to try to answer them.


Please go ahead and put up the button!

Now, mostly speaking, your questions revolve around what to do when people don't play by the rules.

Guests that won't leave
Sigh. I wish it was a guest. Mostly it's my mother. She won't get off the phone, and she won't leave. I was reading Dear Prudence last year, and she made the comment that the thing about terribly rude people is that they don't mind being rude. In other words, it doesn't bother them to be rude, even if it does bother the heck out of us.

So, I have learned, that when someone is being rude, you need to be, well, not rude, but far less concerned about sparing their feelings. For the guests that won't leave, or in Excavator's case, the MIL that stays to dinner, without actually staying to dinner, you need to say:
"I'm sorry, it's been a wonderful night, but it's time for me to go to bed. Let me get your coat." And then dear reader, you stand up, walk over to the coat rack and hold out their coat. Make your responses as short as possible. Yes or No. Open the door for them. Close it firmly when greater than 75% of them are out the door.

Now, I can hear you. I can hear you saying, "Mrs. Spit, that's rude." No. It's firm. You aren't calling them names, you aren't saying terrible things about them, you are reinforcing that it's your house, they have overstayed their welcome, and you need them to leave. Seems a lot less painful than grinning and bearing it.

Disaster Comes to Dinner
Martha asked about what you do when you have a disaster on your hands, right before a dinner party. Mrs. Spit knows all about this. She is, after all, a walking disaster. The answer is "grin and bear it". Tell your guests the truth, but make light of it. No one wants to feel as if they are imposing after your disaster. Minimize it. (I am assuming that your disaster is along the lines of the garbarator exploding, and not your near and dearest losing an arm). Try not to carry on about it, move on. You can complain to the internets or your spouse, or both, in the morning. There's nothing more annoying than the person who says "well, we were going to have prime rib, but the garborator exploded" all evening. Once is sufficient.
If the disaster necessitates a change in plans, because the prime rib became flaming hockey puck rib as a result of an oven (or owner!) malfunction, shrug your shoulders, cook pasta or call out for pizza. Your dinner will be memorable, if not for the reasons that you hoped!

Just Very Strange Things
And finally dear readers, when someone brings their cat to dinner, and expects to feed it off the table, that's not an etiquette issue, that's a health issue. You aren't being catty and it won't be a catastrophe if you say no.
Your Homework:
Is to invite someone to your house in the next 3 weeks. Dinner, Dessert, Tea - there must be food involved somehow. After that, it's up to you.
Report back on February 3rd!

Eating With My Father

I made dinner on Sunday night (which isn't all that remarkable, really).

But that's not where the story starts. It started at Christmas, when I realized that the day passed without me thinking much of it, without it really registering. And it's been running through my head ever since.

My Father's birthday. I used to mark the day. For a long time, I would go to a friend's grave, and leave some flowers. There really is nowhere to mark dad, I don't know what arrangements my step-mother made. But, I would mark the day, if only to make a point to listen to our song. And to be honest, I didn't really have to make a point to listen to it. It seems that I hear it, without trying to make it happen. On my birthday, on my wedding day, the day that Gabriel was born, and always on my father's birthday. On every day when I wish he was here. Especially on the day when our furnace died, and I would have given anything to be able to phone him and tell him to come and fix it. I will turn on the radio, flip on my ipod, walk into a store, and there I will hear it.

Fishing in the Dark. My mother swore she was going to first break the record, and then when the record wore out, or we finally upgraded to a cassette player, I can't remember which, she was right there threatening to pull out the magnetic tape. My young voice, his old, singing away. I don't think I really knew what the song was about, but I sure did like it.

I've stopped typing to queue up the song in iTunes. I can hear the start. And I go back. I can see myself in the passenger seat of his truck, I can see both of us singing our hearts out. I can see. I can go back.

On Sunday I cooked 'our' meal. Well, almost. The creamed corn was great, but I burnt the fried potatoes, and we didn't cook the pork chops in mushroom soup. But our meal. When my mother was gone. It was what he cooked. All the time. I suspect, I suspect if I could ask him, well, probably he would tell me it was the only thing he could cook.

He has been gone 10 years in May. And really, many more than that. He has been gone, probably more than half my life. A few visits in between, but gone. I got a dollar from his estate. I remember, because I remember the letter. Registered mail. It seemed so silly that they would spend $20 to register $1. And then I had to cash it. I remember my mother's white hot anger, she wanted more. She wanted me to have more. Mostly I think she just wanted more.

And what did I want of his money? What did I want of dollars? I had enough. Fishing in the dark, park hunting, 2 bits for a Popsicle, riding the LRT, fridge soup, pork chops, creamed corn, and fried potatoes.

When I think about it, I'm pretty sure he burnt them too.

Monday Miscellany

I have 2 observations, and 2 requests.

The Observations
  1. We all have a whole lot of things that we aren't talking about. And we are remarkably good at not talking about them!
  2. You guys bring the funny. For which I cannot say thank-you enough.

The Requests:

  1. The Toby Awards were posted yesterday. Did you go and look at them? I ask because I was really late in publishing (buried in my closet, de-cluttering).
  2. My Fridge front is empty. I went on a decluttering binge this weekend (see above). Part of that was taking down photo's of babies that are now in school, new houses that people don't live in any longer, pictures of cats we have not owned for 6 years. . . . You get the point.

Would you send me photo's to put on my fridge? Doesn't have to be of your kids (but it can!). Doesn't have to be of you and your partner (but it can!). Could be your house or your dog, or a knitting project or something.

Send me an e-mail and I'll give you my address.

PS - if you are looking for a meat slicer, never used, I just dropped one off at the Goodwill. . .

PPS - (last thing, I promise) - From CBC. Normal Couple Weds at Taco Bell. It took me a bit to figure it out. If you look at where the story was filed from, you'll stop saying "Really? Because normal people don't get married at the Taco Bell." But, I likely didn't need to tell you that. Because you are all smarter than me. Much smarter.

The Toby Award

Given to those who perform silent but heroic acts. Those that would never think of praising themselves. People who probably don't even realize how remarkable their actions are. Those who work hard to make the world a better kind of place, just by virtue of who they are and the decisions they make. For those who are much like Sir Toby, shy and quiet, and always willing to insert themselves between you and the last 20 pages of your murder mystery. You know, so that you take time to appreciate the little things in life.

The Nominee:

From Martha, at A Sense of Humour is Essential. (Except, being American, she spells it without the 'u'. She's wrong, but don't tell her, she might stop sending Delta chocolate, ok?) In her words:

I would like to nominate a bloggy buddy, Kalei for the Toby Award. Her blog is an extension of her "Ohana" the Hawaiian word that means family and is a source of caring and sharing. (just like Toby) This month, she organized a raffle to raise funds for a child with cancer. Currently, she is organizing an IRL and online blanket donation drive to aid homeless and animal shelters.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you would join me in raising your glasses. To Kalei, for her commitment and creativity to be a force for good.

To Kalei

Are always gratefully accepted and can be sent to the email on my profile page.

Saturday Quotes

The only real security is not insurance or money or a job, it not a house and furniture paid for, or a retirement fund, and never is it another person. It is skill and humour and courage within the ability to build your own fires and find your own peace.

Audrey Sutherland

Not sure I completely agree, but there just aren't a lot of quotes about insurance. . .

Still camera-less. Sigh.

Mr. Spit's New Hat

This is a picture of Mr. Spit's new hat. It's really nice huh?

This is Mr. Spit wearing his new hat. Yes, the fair aisle work is lovely, and I do really like those colours. I'm very pleased with how it's turning out.

This is a picture of the scarf I'm knitting to go with it. I think 4 inches is long enough, right? No, ok. I'll keep knitting. No, I didn't want to do fair aisle on the scarf, so I'm just knitting all the colours together. It gives a nice variegation. I'll do a bit with the dark brown and the light brown, and then the white and the dark brown. Kind of like stripes, but not really.

Yes, they look very attractive.
What, you can't see the pictures?
Oh, yes. My camera was stolen, and Mr. Spit's work camera is at, well, work. Sigh. Pictures later. And if you are my insurance person, hello, I'm still waiting for you to call me, fax me, email me, send a carrier pigeon, knock on the door (don't ring the bell, ok?). Something. Please?

Ding Dong

For a few months now, I have been noticing that we need to replace the batteries in our door bell chime. The ding starts out ok, but then it degenerates into this long and unearthly sounding wail, leaving you looking around to see which cat has been put in a blender. It finally peters out into silence, but the shivers in your spine and the vibrations in the glassware take a bit more time to fully subside.

Replace batteries in door bell has been on the list since this summer. The problem is, we aren't certain where the door bell chime is. The last time I saw it - after we took it down to wall paper the hall, I think it was on top of the fridge. But we try not to talk about the whole wallpapering experience, which has some how also turned into not talking about where the doorbell chime might be located.

The batteries (assuming that it does not take some obscure form only available at one hardware store located in Vulcan, Alberta, which is only open on days that are 23 hours long) are up in the linen closet that I have been meaning to clean out for a year. Every time I open the door the large duvet for the spare room falls on my head, leaving me confused and enveloped, also likely scrambling to catch run away rolls of toilet paper. Anyway, between the lost chime, the possibility of losing my life in the closet, and the fact that I don't get many people ringing my doorbell to remind me of the need for replacement, this item has not been crossed off the list.

Last night, we were sitting at the kitchen table, and I noticed that the door bell proper was on the table. Mr. Spit comments that our last visitor handed it to him earlier that evening. It fell off the wall (Again, old house). I observed that the door bell had clearly had enough of the way it sounded and our inability to solve this problem, and decided to take matters into its own hands. I commented that we should just go and buy a new one - it's only slightly embarrassing when your doorbell commits suicide.

Mr. Spit, sitting at the kitchen table, picks up the door bell, and pushes the button with his finger.

He does this, while I am watching him. Watching him in that way we have of watching others without really paying attention or processing what they are doing.

I hear the doorbell ring. The dogs bark.

I push my chair back from the table.

Yes, that's right.

I started getting up to go and answer the door.

Ding Dong!


Stop for a second, consider the standard manger scene. Consider Mary with blond hair and blue eyes, Joseph, fair with brown hair, the babe pink. Consider how the wise men look. Consider their names - exotic names - not Mary and Joseph, but Gaspar, Melchoir, Balthasar. Consider the gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh. Epiphany is fundamentally different from incarnation.

Incarnation - the arrival of Jesus on Christmas Day - is the reminder that God loves us. We have always known this - the Israelites are His children. That baby is God's way of taking what we know, and leaving us changed. Incarnation takes our circumstances, which looked ordinary, and makes them utterly extraordinary. Think, just for a second, of the incongruity of the king of glory, the saviour of the world coming in a cave, filled with muck. The Messiah, born in this way is a surprise. We are caught up the wonder and the glory and the majesty - all in a stable - and we are both surprised that God is so mindful of us, and joyful that he is. Epiphany - the arrival of the wise men with gifts, to celebrate the babe - is the celebration that this incarnation - God among us - is anything but normal.

Christmas was a grind this year, in the truest sense of the word. Everything was hard. Christmas, at it's heart, should be about joy and surprise. I like to tell myself that most around me didn't realize that this was a struggle. That, at least on the surface, I looked happy. That dinner came off without a hitch, my guests enjoyed themselves. But none of it was natural, easy. Every gift purchased, every piece of baking, every decoration, every Christmas card, every stupid holiday commerical, they were a grind. Another thing on a to-do list. None of it enjoyable. Not even the carols. No surprise. Certainly no joy.

I took down the Christmas stuff on Saturday. It was, a relief, a weight off my shoulders. I felt, as I put stuff away, wrapping it in paper, tucking it away for another year, that I was giving myself permission to stop trying so darn hard. The calendar tells me that Christmas happened, but I'm not so sure I felt it in my heart. I'm not so sure my soul rejoiced. I am - like all who grieve at Christmas - more drained, more tired, more spent, there is little magic in my heart right now. I'm not sad to see the season go.

On Saturday, with the ashes of Christmas in boxes around me, wondering where the spirit of the season had gone, I read M's letter to me once more. I looked at the wonderful snow globe she dropped off.

I wept for your loss. I wept for our loss, I wept because it wasn't fair. I wept because I couldn't imagine the pain. I wept because I loved my own son, and knew how unimaginably horrific it would be to lose him. I wept because of the absolute tragedy of it all.

Incarnation is perhaps best described, understood, as a new take on an old thing. In a letter, reminding me that I am loved, and my son is loved. In a sudden moment of clarity, as I watched the snow in a snow globe swirl.

I understand in a way I did not.

Old things are made new. All things will be made perfect. When God came to the earth, that quiet act of devotion and service and love, it changed the face of history.

The Word Made Flesh.

The Light in the Darkness.

Celebration. Joy. Surprise. Wonder.

From the bottom of my heart, thanks M.


Not pregnant.


Tell me something funny.


Monday Miscellany

This post brought to you by things I am not talking about.
  • I am not talking about a Mastiff and the ham for the ham and bean soup.
  • I'm not talking about Mr. Spit's fair aisle hat with ear flaps, that I have re-knit enough to make 3 hats.
  • I'm not talking about how work is going OR what I think of my boss.
  • I'm not talking about what my scale said this morning when I stepped on it.

What are you not talking about?

Toby Awards

Sorry, not feeling well today.

Next Sunday.


Hot Dogs

I went to a volunteer thing on New Year's, raising money for a friend's pre-school. She asked if I was going to blog about the experience, and I said yes.

Which leaves me wondering what to blog about.

The T-Shirt Promise
I think it all began when she sent out the information about the event. We would be in a picnic shelter, with a very large fire. Apparently dear readers, we would be so warm we would be running around in our t-shirts. I thought this sounded, well a bit strange, given that it was to be -30C (-4F), and I kept thinking that this seemed a far fetched claim.
Perhaps, unsurprisingly, I spent no time in a t-shirt. Well, no, that's not quite accurate. I was wearing a T-shirt. It's just that I was wearing 4 layers over that. We teased said organizer, leaving her to splutter that she was told t-shirts. C. in case I forgot to mention it - you know, because my brain was froze- I think, just maybe, they lied to you. Just a tiny bit. But, as interesting as the t-shirt assertion is, there really isn't enough of the story to write a blog entry about.

People Aren't Just People
I could tell you that people who live in so-called bedroom communities are, well, different than those who live in the inner city. But frankly, this just seems to be a stupid thing to say, unless I can call out exactly what those differences are. And I have a post about stopping and staring, but it's not quite ready to be teased out of my brain.

I could, perhaps, tell you the story of the hot dogs. The $1 hot dogs. And tell you all of the snappy retorts I wanted to come back with.

Yes, that's what I will do. I will tell you about selling hot dogs for a dollar.

"Are they organic?"
It's a hot dog. By it's very nature, it came, mostly - I think, from animals. Yes, definitely. There were animals involved at some point. I'm almost sure of it. If you would like to be more precise, they have carbon in them. Probably to a greater amount on the surface. I remember the edict from 1st year University Chemistry - Things That Have Carbon in Them are Organic. Yep, absolutely, they're organic. I think.

"Do they have trans-fats?"
Oh, it's a hot dog. A generic hot dog. The ingredients are (mostly?) written on the side of the plastic wrapper. I would say there is a distinct possibility that the trans-fats will be the healthiest thing in the hot dog.

"What's in them?"
Now, I'm not sure about you, but I learned really early in my life that there were a few questions it was better not to ask. If gravity really works, when to do the hoke- pokey, and what's really in a hot dog. What were you doing when you were supposed to be learning this lesson?

"Were they humanely killed?"
Funny you should ask. We went to the free range hot dog farm just this morning. The rancher wandered around, he asked all the hot dogs, and only those that volunteered became your dinner. Now, you really shouldn't ask about the ketchup. You don't want to know about the tomatoes.

"Are they fair trade?"
Well, we went to the grocer free range hot dog farmer. We gave him a surprisingly small amount of money. He gave us 200lbs of hot dogs. No one called the police, the sheriff, their mummy or their therapist. I'd say they're fair trade.

"Are you qualified to cook those?"
Well, let's see. I have a degree with a double major in economics and political science. I am a great gardener and a pretty good cook. Ok, I'll admit it, I'm not the greatest housekeeper, but I'm a pretty darn good knitter. Mr. Spit has a degree in psychology, and he used to know locations of nuclear subs (no, really, when he was in the military he did). They let him build bridges, as long as he gets the right permits. We make pretty good money, and we haven't declared bankruptcy. Neither of us are in jail. Are you qualified to eat a hot dog? What if you choke?


Welcome Earthside Perseus.

Welcome home.

"When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. And now when every new baby is born its first laugh becomes a fairy. So there ought to be one fairy for every boy or girl."

J.M. Barrie.