Thursday, December 27, 2007

Family Time

Blogging time gave way to all the stuff that happens when kids are home. For some reason, young people hope to be fed and to play games and watch movies and have conversations. For Christmas I received the dvd "The Queen" which I absolutely love because I've got a lot of that "and having emotions and being sensitive would be useful because?" about me. Now don't get me wrong - I took my share of psychology courses and spent infinite numbers of hours listening to my peers pour out their emotions in residence. But then I turned 30 and had a husband and kids, a parish and a community and realized that you don't have to feel like getting up to change the sheets when you hear a child vomiting in the middle of the night - you just have to do it because it's the hard stuff that makes life significant - that makes you feel that it matters that you are that particular child's mother at that particular moment. There are lots of people more charming, fun and exciting but when the vomit hits the sheets, I'm not so bad.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Having exceedingly bad handwriting has spawned some pretty major interests. It explains why I have won the award for the highest speed in typing and shorthand in my Gr. 12 class as well as my fascination with calligraphy that pre-dates computer fonts. My calligraphy is no doubt worse than my handwriting but it's definitely a more interesting worse.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Calendar Art

I have to admit I have a certain fascination with "creating from anything" websites. I included this link to calendar art but she's got examples of all kinds of current trends. Don't forget to check out her homeschool site as well. If men have kids to have an excuse to buy toys, women must have kids to get a second round of cutting and pasting and painting. The blog is the equivalent of mom displaying your artwork on the family frig.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mother Son Dance

Boyz2Men "A Song for Mama" is what John and I will be dancing to at the wedding. It's Danielle's choice but I'm good with it - Motown was big in my youth. Of course I checked it out on youtube. In the first video, mama is on a respirator and dies and in the second video I watched, Mama is a ghost at the wedding. It makes the song very poignant. I cried.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Lights

Which are my favourite lights - the outside ones, the Christmas tree lights or the lights going up the bannister? Obviously not the outdoor ones - they are for others. I'm the one that does the final dog walk and closes up the house for the evening so unplugging them is the last thing on the day's to do list. My husband would definitely pick the Christmas tree lights and I must admit the tree is beautiful this year. Sometimes we light up the tree while we're having our morning coffee to start the day in a cheery manner. Personally I love the lights going up the bannister. They are the ones visible from my computer desk and bring me the most pleasure. Colourful lights make all the difference between winter being drab or magical.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dancing Santa

Last year at the Friends of the Library fundraiser I won the Dancing Santa. They've slimmed Santa down a bit and I like to think we're similar in shape but I'm probably lying to myself. Anyway, you press a button and it plays Santa Claus is Coming to Town while shaking his hips from side to side. Yes it's corny but it makes me laugh. As I hit the button whenever I pass him, I've decided to make Santa my new dance partner - little bursts of exercise. Now if I could just find something to trigger me to do my Tai Chi. I have a livingroom shaped like a bowling alley and if I can convince my dog not to plop his old bones in the middle of my path, it is exactly the right length, minus the Christmas tree, for T'ai Chi.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Notebook

Lucky break for me. This month my bookclub is reading The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. As I've seen the movie and read the book before, I'm in pretty good shape on this one. Neurodegenerative illnesses intrigue me almost as much as neurodevelopmental disorders. What's most odd is that we didn't study Alzheimer's in nursing school in the 1970s and while autism was discussed, it was considered relatively rare. So what's changed? My observation is that my 80+ year old friends are far healthier than their 50 something children and the 50 something children are far healthier than their 20 something children. If I were a researcher, I would be looking at generational differences.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Change & Loss

I was reading a review of "The Year of Magical Thinking" in which Joan Didion wrote about becoming a widow. In the review, there was reference to the work of Peter Marris "Loss & Change" Marris is a sociologist and urban planner. Marris says, "Change is costly in terms of time, effort and temporary loss of confidence and effectiveness... One person's reform is almost inevitably someone else's loss of meaning."
According to Marris there are 3 kinds of change:
(1) substitution (exchanging the old for a better new)
(2) evolution (gradual change with time to reorient and reform significant attachment
(3) deep loss (the sudden disappearance of something or someone valued)
My experience is that life is complex and often all three types are occurring at the same time. A relocation is an evolution but in the process you throw out some things very important to you because it's easier to travel light and often there's a deep loss that just proceeded or just followed the move - the death of a parent, children leaving home, a defining activity ending. You can find the article in the June 2007 edition of the journal Academy of Management, Learning and Education if you have access to a portal.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Facebook and Fun Walls

So what do you think of facebook. I had a "friend request" from a contemporary and ignored it because I don't approve of myself being on it. There's not much control over what appears on your facebook page and there's just way too much "I don't need to know and most definitely my friends don't need to know" stuff. Facebook is getting me over that feeling that living in a rectory is an exposed life. Living on facebook is the exposed life if you ask me. If anyone can explain to me why these kids have no fear that they could get hurt, it might reassure me.

What Happened to Yesterday

Where's my blog entry from yesterday? I was up from 7 a.m. until 5 a.m. so it's not that the day wasn't long enough. David called around midnight and asked for a 5 a.m. wakeup call. I've since heard that the airline has found his luggage and more importantly his alarm clock and hopefully all our best Christmas presents ever. I take thyroid medication, Vit. B12 and Vit. D so I can manipulate things a bit by changing the timing of all that "here's a boost of energy" stuff". Good thing I don't take serious medication - I'm messing around with the Vitamins. I used to think I had bear genes. Winter would come and I go into hibernation mode. Well it wasn't SADD and it would have been a major eye mistake to buy those lamps. If you live in a northern climate, get your Vitamin D levels check. In my case, getting more Vit D was lifesaving.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Newsletters

Personally I like those mass-produced Christmas newsletter. I, myself, am not organized enough to send one of my own out. It creates a warm feeling in my heart to read about the achievements of others. And let's face it, I really have no trouble at all believing that everyone else can run circles around me in the achievement arena. I always believe that every home but mine runs like a bed and breakfast just waiting for people to drop in to enjoy the atmosphere. Without a doubt, no one has more bad hair days than I do. Every day is a bad hair day when there's more scalp visible than hair. Not only do I not have the face shape that looks stunning in hats, I can't think of any part of my anatomy, I'd want to draw your eyes to. If you've found this blog through the UWO alumni directory, I'm listed as a homemaker. Seems like a lot of people I went to school with (especially those in education) now list themselves as retired. That's a trend that will only increase. I'm retired too I guess - just skipped the career part.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

An all-nighter

Well, another all-nighter. The kid is in Toronto and has to be up by 4:30 a.m to prepare to catch a plane. He's placed a wakeup call but who's more reliable - the hotel clerk or mom. Who knows? The kid thinks I am. I'm flattered. I'm staying up to 4:30 a.m. because I can still come through. The best thing about being a menopausal mom is that it's the easiest time to make things happen. Suddenly you remind everyone of their mother and they remember their mothers as powerful people who make you do what you don't want to do. Even young punks don't want to mess with you because who knows what an angry 50 something woman is capable of doing - just might still be able to take a round out of them or something. Who knows? But one day I'll lose that scarey confident 50 something persona and start looking vulnerable. It could be some day in the not so distant future so I happy my kid thinks I can work miracles or at least stay up to 4:30 a.m. to give him a wakeup call.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Military Mom

We're a real God, Queen and Country family. It makes us different. It makes us different in a sad, lonely, over-responsible way. It all started with my Grade 11 history class - Sparta & Athens. Children are their mothers until they are 7 and then they belong to the state. And then there was Grade 12 history where I learned that Canadian boys were sent into WWI and WWII malnourished and ill-trained. Well I could at least see that they were trained. And of course they had a father - the real history buff -the guy whose favourite channel is the military channel.
Prime Minister Harper said he was impressed by the moms of the fallen soldiers. Said they were a different breed. Well, having a son in the military changes you. I can't watch action movies - don't see anything entertaining about violence anymore. I go to google news instead of tv because I want to know what's going on without actually seeing it. My kids say I depend too much on angels to look after them but mothers who can't protect their children need the belief that they are being watched over and protected. It's a little flaky but provides more comfort than any human could. My kids reassure me that I'm nothing like Tom Cruise's mom in The Fourth of July but you still wonder what their choices would have been if I'd had more of a party, cheerleader, fun personality. I'm a frequent visitor to the Nobel Website. Have to believe that goodness and justice and truth are more powerful than any weaponry mankind can devise. And I'm really clear on what I want for my children - someone who really loves them, the joy of children, a place to call home and a job where they are valued. That's it. Did you hear that God? That's my Christmas wish.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing's Nobel speech is now available. This link will connect you to all the Nobel Prize Winners in Literature
Click a name and you'll be linked to their nobel lecture, the interview and an example of writing.

And if you want to watch a video that gives you real hope, watch Mairead Corrigan's nobel peace prize interview. She truly radiates something special as she talks about the troubles in Northern Ireland and the marches that followed.

Reading Level of Blogs

I've been checking out UWO alumni blogs. has a post with something to measure the reading level required to understand your own personal blog. She questions the criteria used and frankly so do I. Her blog which includes chemistry librarian technical things requires a high school reading level. My blog, on the other hand, can only be read by geniuses. Look at her blog compared it to mine and take a shot at guessing the rating criteria. Total mystery to me.

While there, look at the video clip of Blogs in Plain English. Now that looks so great. Being a lonely child, my childhood friends were paper dolls. Well there was a bit of diversity. Add to that stuffed animals, dolls, dogs and kittens. I could so get into explaining the world with little paper figures.

Actually my roaming also took me to a powerpoint presentation of finger art, where someone created all these characters by drawing features and adding different head covering and costuming to her index finger. I so get it. Talk about friends you can always count on being there for you. And I watched a pretty funny video where a purple condom explains safe sex to a couple of clueless little boys. Can't link you there because it had some comments about the Pope that dismissed any advice on sex given by men with funny hats wearing robes. Don't want to offend the Anglican hierachy. Granted I'm shoddily dressed compared to the Amish, but wow if you haven't seen a procession of Bishops and Archbishops in the last 20 years, you will be dazzled by the current splendour. Church needlework guilds have amazing talent and devotion to their craft.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Blogger Buzz

I'm so excited about this feature. I love youtube and have been wondering how to put youtube stuff on my blog. There's so much I don't know about blogging and I really, really, really want to get better at this. Whether there are millions of other bloggers out there and even if not a single person in world reads mine, I think it's worthwhile. I'm the type that absorbs, absorbs, absorbs. Sometimes you have to release a bit of it. I read today that parents are checking out their kids' potential college roommates on facebook. All I can say is WOW, didn't think about that one. Of course, when I was a college kid, nobody knew about identity theft and my most valuable possession was a portable typewriter. Although I did have the weird experience of someone stealing my university number and writing a test in my name. I wouldn't have known if he hadn't told me after the fact. It was a science-type who wanted to see what mark he could get in a subject he knew nothing about. Fortunately for me, it was a course where one test didn't count and I had decided I wasn't going for that particular test score.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Email Backlog

Languishing in my inbox are 1500 email messages going back to September. The quick, easy and most important stuff got processed and deleted promptly so who knows what the total would have been otherwise. It would be easy to just delete the whole thing but I'm actually interested in the content - this isn't spam. Thank God the spam goes to my husband's email box and not mine. Guess I'm not the target audience for viagara ads or scams from Nigeria. So I guess my gift to myself for Christmas is a period of space to deal with the backlog.

Monday, December 3, 2007

First Christmas Party

Went to the first Christmas party of the season tonight - supper, Christmas carolling and a gift exchange. Then I came home and tried to figure out some stuff on the computer without much success. Anyone know how to do a tabbed list with leaders? And how about inserting a picture with the text beside it in a text box? I've looked through the textbook without much luck so guess I'll be looking around the house for other computer reference books.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


I'm an Advent/Lent person as opposed to a Christmas/Easter person. Christmas/Easter people shop, bake, entertain, decorate, etc. The economy really, really loves Christmas/Easter people. I leave that stuff to the kids. Advent/Lent people pray, meditate and anticipate. The Christian calendar was invented for me. Four weeks of Advent, Forty Days of Lent.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Holidailies at Home

I'm committing to updating my blog every day in the month of December. If you're interested in joining the challenge go to Remember when we turned 30, and discovered that we weren't exactly God's gift to humanity - that we had definite limitations to how much we could achieve this lifetime. Well the big news at 55, is that we will never be able to keep up with our 20 something selves again. I pulled a couple of all nighters this week and all I can say is never again. I can't begin to describe how brutal that was. Let's see - I'm pretty sure my days of lifting adults are over and don't even fantasize about seeing me in a pair of high heels ever again. Oh and by the way, menopausal zest is a concept right up there with a calm mind creates a painless childbirth. Nursing textbooks are like the internet - lots of misinformation out there.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I got so enthusiastic about Peter returning to school that I let other stuff slip. It's been great though - a boot camp for the brain. Now he's back in the groove of learning and I can reclaim my life. It was such a thrill to have access to an academic library again. That's my idea of a vacation - research, research, research. Research is such a thrill for me that eons ago when access was dialup, I once got a letter from msn saying I was in the top 10% of internet users. As St. Clair only allows its books out for 1 week, I'll probably pick whatever day is Peter's longest to work in the library. As Peter has to write about what he learns, he's watching me and saying "stop researching and start writing". So that's what I'm going to do. My friend Iris has been telling me the same thing for 15 years but I only truly listen to my kids because, let's face it, you're not starkly known until there are adults roaming the earth you raised yourself. Actually the book club selection for this month is about a daughter obsessed with what's happening in her mother's life. It's called "Midwives" and is about a midwife standing trial for doing a C-section on a woman with no pulse and respirations but there's a possibility that she might have still been alive when the knife was inserted. The midwife kept a journal and the story is written from the perspective of a young girl observing events unfolding around her while desperately hoping the jury won't convict her mother. I think my children have that same kind of loyalty and observation power.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Reviewing the Basics

The Rev. Dr. Maurice Boyd said that people working with words should read a grammar text yearly. Well Peter is taking a refresher grammar and math course and I'm taking an interest in the texts. To be honest math and grammar were always a big snooze to me and I'm definitely coming to the conclusion that I did a lot of daydreaming in class when I was young. Surprisingly knowing each step of the building blocks of mathematics and grammary feels like exercising with 3 lb weights. It's simple enough that it doesn't feel like anything is happening but the synapses of the brain are enjoying themselves. Dr. Ryuta Kawashima's Train the Brain program is built around basic addition/multiplication facts, memorizing word lists and stroop tests (if the word "red" is printed in green ink, your eyes see red but the correct response is green). The North American mind with it's addiction to novelty isn't going to stick with a Kumon model. However, there is something to be said for refreshing the basics. The movie "Prime" talks about our being at our mathematical prime during our twenties. At the time I thought that was ridiculous but perhaps nimbleness of mind has more in common with nimbleness of the body than I thought. At 20, everything is a gift. After 50 - well you're not 20 anymore - so schedule in a workout.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Took a Summer Break

Decided to give myself the month of August to regroup. I've been working through the toolstolife program and finished Day 44 today. Peter is starting College on Tuesday and that will be a big change for me as I'm planning to do research in the College library while Peter is in class. I don't take College courses myself any more as I'm so ancient that I've already taken everything I'm even remotely interested in. I am however over the moon about having access to academic journals on neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration. My first academic love was English literature and I still love words, music, art, dance the best. I suppose it only follows that I have a fascination with the working of the human brain. It doesn't matter whether love of art leads to interest in science or whether love of science leads to an interest in the arts - they really are two sides of the same coin.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Re: Brandi & Kenny's Wedding

Peter was one of the ushers at Kenny and Brandi's wedding this weekend. He did great and I had the time of my life. The wedding was in Windsor so Stephen had to leave fairly early as he doesn't like to be tired for Sunday. I had agreed to be a designated driver so I was committed to staying until the very end. I thought after Stephen left, I'd be an old lady sitting in a chair in the corner for the rest of the night. Well it didn't turn out that way at all. My children and their friends kept me on the dance floor all night long. I wasn't the clergy wife for this occasion and got to capture that feeling of being young and carefree again. Well actually it was better than being young because I was so proud of the people they had all developed into.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Organizing videos, dvds

The local video store is selling its inventory of video tapes. Fortunately for me, I didn't realize that until 3 weeks into the sale. It didn't make that much difference as my taste in movies is pretty low demand. Basically I've bought movies we've owned and loaned never to be returned, finished sets - usually we owned the first movie but were missing some sequels, and bought some chick flicks to achieve a bit of balance (the guys buy way more movies than the gals in this family plus they outnumber us). The first day, I looked for movies with interesting scenery - set in places that would be interesting to travel to if I were at all interested in travelling. The second day, I looked for movies that were about being in situations that require one to be a little more courageous, a little more noble than one might otherwise choose to be. And then I had to get busy figuring out the best way to organize things. So I thought, if I were going to pig out on movies, which would make sense to view as a group and then let my imagination run wild on all the various ways to do that - by subject, actor, genre, setting, movies I really hate, and movies I love but the men in the family hate. Think westerns/war movies for my hate pile and any human being having more emotional range than John Wayne for their hate pile.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Fiddler on the Roof

My oldest son thinks I'm Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. I have an ongoing dialogue with God where I Kvitch about every day stuff too boring for human ears. I suppose it's a sign of someone with existential aloneness. There's lots of really good, caring, involved people in my life but the closest relationship is the God/I one. It was that way as far back as I can possibly remember. My mom didn't like me bothering my dad because he had high blood pressure and she was terrified any stress might cause a heart attack or stroke and he was just as protective of her. My grandparents lived next door to us but they were more great-grandparent age and couldn't be upset about anything either. So basically I shared all my little girl problems with dogs and kittens and dolls and paperdolls. And, of course, there was always tv and sugary foods and dreaming to cheer oneself up. If everyone had to be protected from my little preschool problems, I suppose it's no wonder that when I need to talk, it's God I talk to. With all the big things happening in the world, nothing tragic is going to happen from anything I might say to God.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Learning from Movies

In response to: which basically says:
The four consultants, Francesco Bogliari, Sergio Di Giorgi, Marco Lombardi and Piero Trupia say that executives learn little from books.
High-quality films, though, can offer lessons about problem-solving and teamwork as well as focusing on issues such as globalisation and diversity, Mr Bogliari said.

So here are some movies I've learned from:

The Dish which is about broadcasting Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon from a relay station in Australia. Although I'll never be the head of a team, I hope I'd be like Sam Neill's part in this movie. No one in the movie is without his/her personality quirks but he just accepts everyone exactly as they are and somehow pulls off a great achievement without judging or hurting anyone. This is the opposite of an American action hero movie. I really liked every single person in this movie and how often can you say that?

Unconditional Love tells you pretty much all you need to know about where I stand on the homosexuality issue. Some people encourage you to be just a little braver and some people don't. Either I bloom or I fade around people and sexual orientation has nothing to do with who is an encourager and who is a discourager of the middle-aged (or past middle-aged) housewife.

Outbreak which starts with an ebola outbreak in Africa. The response team promised help and everyone was cheering when the planes approached and dropped medical supplies until they realized that the package wasn't medical supplies but an explosive device to eradicate the village. It doesn't matter how highly educated you are or how many resources are at your disposable or how great your personality is, it's no substitute for right actions.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Reality + Adult Kids

The truth is that my kids were only expensive for 1 year - the year we moved and had to scramble to find housing for them because they needed to be in the city and didn't have enough warning about the move to prepare. For the boys, it's a matter of pride to not need money from the old people and Paula just accepts tuition, books and health plan benefits. It's more a realization of what it could have cost if they'd been different. And I'm still secretly or not so secretly hoping that Peter and John will want more education. David's always taking classes through the navy, John's taking many mini courses through his union and Peter is always researching something for his writing so they're pursuing alternative paths to learning and that's a good choice too. Peter and Paula made the choice to not buy a car until they actually could afford all the related costs which explains how they manage. The unknown is the weddings but they've been practical about everything else so it's likely they'll be practical about that as well. Peter lives at home but he certainly is an asset to have around.

The New Primate

This is the first time that I've been old enough to read a Primate's biography and look for points of connection. My son checked out the Anglican Church when he moved to Nova Scotia. He thought the Greeter was a bit suspicious of navy kids so now he's going R.C. - late Sunday afternoon service beside a Tim Hortons. Just thought you'd like to know. He's a regular attender and a good giver - made a mistake letting that one get away.

And I loved the interview with Lynn where she explains the difference 3 years can make and why Toronto now seems like such a great idea. Your son the jazz musician, my son the writer - not exactly investment bankers, eh. So are you looking for the tiniest place you can find to maintain the empty nest or are you looking for a large place with enough spare rooms to accommodate family and extended family? The baby boomers love you already - nothing is as bonding as housing issues. Perhaps there's a window of opportunity. Parents of young adult children feel a need for God - an all knowing, everywhere presence - and might be drawn to a church with leadership that gets it - that really knows the boatload of money it takes to launch kids today.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Conservative Bishops

I like working for a Conservative Bishop for the same reasons that Morgan Freeman prefers living in the South to the North. The rules are clearer. The consequences are clearer as well.
Freeman maintains that being raised in the South will not hinder your chances in any way.
"It's no harder for anybody than it is for anybody else. It's hard for everybody." Liberal Bishops say there are no winners or losers. Not true. It's hard for everybody. Loss and gut wretching pain come to everyone.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Same Sex Blessings

The details of what passed and didn't and how the numbers fell can be found at In a world without social commitments, I would have sat glued to my computer screen listening to everyone's moment at the microphone but I kept having to wonder away as I prepared for and attended 3 pot luck meals that weekend. I'm hoping there will be opportunities to hear whatever I missed live.
I know and respect people who voted on both sides of the issue. The wonderful and the difficult part is that these were sincere people who really wanted to do the just thing while being true to their fundamental belief system. They say it was a city/rural split but I think it was something different. The Bishops I personally knew who voted against it were or had been Bishops in Dioceses where a large percentage of parishioners had attended Indian Residential Schools. And the ones who voted in favour, were Bishops who had done significant amounts of work in Dioceses where many of the parishioners are homosexuals. It's really a matter of who you know, whose stories have deeply touched, who you have made a commitment to.
And what it really boils down to is do you believe that people can control their sexuality - that they can commit to lifelong, monogamous relationships? The Bishops would really like to believe that all of their clergy and their parishioners can control their sexuality but it seems like a lot of their time is spent on sorting through sexuality issues.

Commencement Addresses

Dana Gioia gave a Stanford Commencement Address on June 17th. Some students thought he wasn't famous enough. So he talks about how few living thinkers and artists today have name recognition within society because the arts programs have been cut in favour of programs with more commercial value.

What do you remember about the commencement address on your graduation day? I mainly remember wanting to get out of the hall and hoping it would be short. Most people put quite a bit of thought into their address and I really hope more of them will be posted on the web. Graduation day just isn't the best listening day - large hot auditorium, hundreds of people to process across the stage, pictures, flowers, visiting parents, saying goodbye to friends, remember to return the rental cap and gown - way too much happening.

After the hoopla is over, in the comfort of your home, that's the time to process the words that someone hoped would enrich your life.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Busy Men & Communication

Giving credit where credit is due, I'm very impressed with our former Primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchinson and with Dr. George Lundberg, Editor of MedGenMed, for their commitment to two-way discussion of issues that need raising. Wanting to watch the General Synod proceedings, I went to and during the periods when nothing was being transmitted, I clicked on the link to Conversations with the Primate. Imagine my surprise to discover the communication problem was totally mine - the Primate had been creating podcasts and asking for feedback for 3 years. I hadn't linked into it but I'm quickly catching up as I don't know where that information will go when the new Primate-elect Bishop Fred Hiltz put his own information on the Primate's page.

Dr. George D. Lundberg recently did an editorial podcast on doctors being poor funeral attenders and whether or not that hurts the profession. We passed a couple of emails back and forth which impressed me enough to do a google search and a search on . I came up with 561 editorials which ended with "Readers are encouraged to respond to George Lundberg, M.D." This man is not a person to avoid contraversy and he has the scars to prove it. In a profession with so much memorization, it's wonderful to have a person throw out an unanticipated idea to get people out of autopilot and thinking for themselves.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Household Management Bag

So what's in my household management bag:

Well the picture on the cover is from Nemo - it's the big ole swimming turtle with its school of fish and little turtles. As long as the little fishes and turtles aren't willing to pitch in and help, this big ole swimming turtle is going to be pretty slowed down getting anywhere.
Inside there are 3 booklets representing 3 somewhat achievable methods:
The first one is my printouts from who is into daily, consistent routines. Her plan is the one that's actually somewhere in my head.
Then there is the Christmas/Easter marathon cleaning session that is part of our collective memory of religious correctness. This is huge - there's a grand plan for cleaning the house and then an enormous grand plan for preparing for Christmas. It starts in August whereas I feel successful if I've started prior to the day before Christmas Reality is that I'm big on Advent and Lent and am either deeply meditative or off at a church event. My second son is more into decorating and preparing the house for Christmas.
That's followed by the 3rd booklet which I've labeled Plan Ahead Checklists. It has checklists to make sure you never run out of anything, can grab a packed bag for any imaginable activity, are prepared for every conceivable emergency, etc. I slowly plug away at that one. Some of the lists were prepared by Thomas Leonard the founder of Coachu. He had all his plans in place and working well and died very prematurely from a heart attack. It puts the whole thing in perspective.
And then there's the secret booklet 4. The fantasy booklet. The pages I've ripped out of Martha Stewart Living and Real Simple (which is actually Real Hard).
And get this - There's a separate whole bag for interior decorating or "ignore the mess and send my mind to an imaginary life". And just to show you what a great imagination I have, my favourite decorating magazine is Architectural Digest. Actually I have a real appreciation for hair dressers, doctors, dentists with really great magazines in their waiting rooms.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Goal Setting and Binders

This is where I actually began the goal setting process. As I downloaded things from the internet, I decided to store the information in binders. I forget what I don't see and binders look ok sitting out on a bookshelf. I'm also pretty klutzy so with binders I don't have to worry about everything scattering if I should happen to drop one.
Over the 12 years I've been on the internet, it was very obvious that everything I was interested in fits into about a dozen or so broad categories. So I have lots of information fairly well sorted but the binders are just too heavy and awkward to enjoy working with. So now I'm taking what's in those folders, dividing it into 3 subthemes and picking the best of the best to put in the duo tangs folders (still keeping everything clipped together) that will be going into the gift bags.
So the broad categories are faith; health; writing; the seasons (Christmas, Easter - anything that everyone comes home to celebrate); household management or really what to do with the mess; food; paper crafts/calligraphy; quotations; pictures I've collected from magazines; the arts (music, dance, etc); finances (I'm the one that's supposed to have the plan for the kids' education, weddings, our retirement, and anything else that falls under miracles); neurodevelopment/neurodegeneration (the area I would have chosen to work in); coaching; and family health information.

Goal Setting & Gift Bags

I have a bunch of gift bags suspended from a closet door in my office. Paula's love seat is in there and if I nap on it, I wake up staring at the gift bags so I'm constantly reminded of my goals. Inside each folder there is an average of 3 duo tang folders with notes and pictures on different components of reaching the goal and perhaps some useful small objects.
For example, the Winnie the Pooh gift bag is the one on health because I think it's healthier to use an image of a similar body type to one's own. Inside I have a folder on my online diet group Sparkspeople, a folder of appropriate menus and a folder of exercises that make sense to me. I also print on a calender with each month devoted to a different health theme with a suggestion for options toward achieving or preventing the month's health focus on each day. I also keep an exercise band and a pedometer in there so I don't have to hunt for them. This one is pretty complete and I'll tell you about the others as I finish them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Vatican & Driving Rules
Vatican Issues Ten Commandments for Motorists
If the Roman Catholic Church is striving for relevancy and a concern close to many hearts, linking people's choices while in their cars to a thought or two for their immortal soul might be a good thing in a road rage, pressurized world.

Humor + Church Attendance

In Oldcastle, you couldn't enter the church without someone waiting to tell you a joke. So I decided to do a web search and and give myself a laugh. A little while ago, I was asked by a friend why I think church attendance is declining. I think the Roman Catholics may have discovered the answer to that question. On the church sign of St. Cyril of Alexandria Catholic Church in the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, they displayed the message for those who couldn't figure it out themselves:
"Staying in bed shouting, Oh God! Does not constitute going to Church"

Monday, June 18, 2007

Wreck This Journal
If you can't write in your journal because you're a perfectionist and prefer the pristine beauty of the unmarked page over your own handwriting, Kerri Smith has lots of ideas on how to mess up the journal enough to get past your fear of messes. There are a gallery of examples.
"Creative destruction is a term that refers to the act of making a physical change to an object, blank page or space. It is based on the premise that if you alter an object in some way, you are in fact participating in a creative experience (regardless of the outcome). The intent of creative destruction is to move beyond aesthetic judgements of whether a mark/alteration is good or bad, but instead to allow the mark to exist as documentation of a physical experience or as kind of expression. While the term “destruction” has historically had a negative connotation, in this context it is used to imply simply “alteration" Kerri Smith
Or in other words, people will know that you existed because of the creative mess you've left behind.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Parish Website

Lawrene Denkers is the mastermind behind the website for the Parish of the Transfiguration.
If you want to know where we are on any particular Sunday morning, check out the always current and accurate announcement page. I've looked at many parish websites and this one is in a league of its own.

Personal Development

Check out this personal development blog
It's written by an 18 year old and it's pretty amazing.
The only person I met who was dedicated and organized about pursuing personal development during the teen years was a staffer at Huron Church camp. In the old days, one of the duties of the camp nurse was to do a daily inspection of the cabins. I don't know when the neatness gene kicks in but the staff cabins tended to be a bit chaotic. Once I suggested to the guys that perhaps it was time for action but I soon discovered that the solution hadn't been to fill garbage bags but rather to sweep everything through the trap door and down under the building. I decided fast food boxes inside the building potentially attracting flies and mice were preferable to fast food boxes under the building attracting skunks and raccoons. Perhaps they took pity on me or grew weary of the situation, but they did do a major cleanup after the next day's inspection. I suppose they waited until after inspection to show it was their idea and not caving in to the rating system.
So back to my story about the staffer with an interest in personal motivation. She had a bunk bed to herself. The top bed was totally covered with the kind of stuff you can buy at drug stores - shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics, body lotions, etc. As she told me, "One can never have too many personal hygiene items". She had covered her wall space with motivational quotes and goals. I was pretty impressed and every once in a while I send out a little prayer for her and her dreams of achievement.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Young Nurses

Ok, here's what I really think. I stopped paying registration fees when I was 45. I think it's the story of carrying the calf every day and as it grows into a bull, you'll have the muscles of an ox or Paul Bunyan or whatever. If you started nursing young, continued working, lifted weights, maintained your girlhood figure and have postmenopausal jest, go for it. During WWII, Britain said the postmenopausal nurse could work circles around the young nurses.
But to be honest, I thought I was going to die of exhaustion at 33 when I was pregnant and had 3 preschoolers who never seemed to be asleep at the same time and I had a work crew of prisoners helping me watch the kids. So if I had to decide who needed all the special accommodations, I would look at a whole cluster of things.
All those 40 something actresses who said they were very young 40s in excellent condition found that their ovaries thought otherwise. I was born matronly and out of condition so it was a no brainer for me to decide that it was in the best interests of everyone for me to remove myself from the College of Nurses list of RNs. And if I'm a patient lying in a hospital bed and my heart stops, I don't care what the age of the nurse is - I want the one that can sprint down the hall the fastest, get a bedboard under me, hop up on the bed and do CPR the longest. I don't want to be the nurse who has a heart attack herself in the midst of that dramatic situation and divides the focus of the crash team.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Retaining the Older Employee

If you want to continuing working beyond the traditional retirement age, this is an ideal time to start studying what changes in working conditions could be negotiated to make that possible. To jumpstart your thinking, I'm looking at Karen Hart's research in health care.

Because the average age of an American nurse is now 48 and increasing with each survey, hospitals are considering the following accommodations to make it possible for an older body to do a job as physically demanding as nursing. Personally I think the ones involving lifting are the most crucial as I'm not sure Rambo could safely lift the over 400 lb patient.

Flexible shifts (option of 4, 6, and 8-hours, as well as job sharing)
Patient assignments in clusters to avoid extensive walking
Improved design of patient units with an emphasis on flooring, lighting, placement of nurses' stations, etc.
Ergonomics committees and training
Mechanical devices to assist with patient lifting, such as over-the-bed lift devices, etc.
Patient stretcher beds that convert to chairs
Bariatric patient equipment/accommodations
Lift teams
Transport teams
Improved lighting accommodations for older workers
Ergonomically improved office equipment (computers, desks, chairs, lighting, etc.)
Job sculpting (redefining/redesigning work roles/reskilling) for mature workers
Financial/retirement planning assistance
Implementation of wellness programs (strength training, etc.)
Back care/safety training
On-site or subsidized health club membership
Stress-reduction training
Use of older workers to mentor newer employees and intergenerational workshops/committees
Flexible benefit packages
Reduced floating and overtime for tenured employees
Flexible/phased retirement options
Knowledge transfer

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

University Tuition

I've been leaving Retirement Planning books strategically located around the house. The kids just don't have it through their heads that their father will be 65 in 9 years. I use 65 to get them thinking - I doubt Stephen will ever stop working. They think they have an infinite amount of time in which to realize an education would be useful. And I'm saying, "Get on with it already. Tuition fees only go up and the financial offers we made to you were based on the assumption that you'd all be finished school before the breadwinner's retirement."
On the other hand, the breadwinner occasionally says, "If I were going to get a doctorate, I think it would be in (it changes). And sometimes I think if someone could guarantee I'd live to 90 with my brain cells still firing, it might be worth going back to school myself. Reality is that the return on investment makes it unreasonable - independent learning is a much more rational decision for us. The diplomas I have live a hidden life in the bottom of my dresser drawer. The last time anyone asked to see them was November 1978.
Hubby and I were discussing the other day what the differences would be between life in a university dorm and life in a senior's apartment once the baby boomers re-design retirement. To loosely borrow from a line in Dirty Dancing, "No one is going to leave the boomers sitting in a corner." I don't know what they'll be doing but it's bound to be breath taking.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blog Criticism

I began by reading: "... chronic experience of stress affects the area of the brain that governs stress response," Dr. Wilson said. "Unfortunately, that part of the brain also regulates memory." Or in other words, if you think distressing thoughts all the time, the brain might just hit the "delete all memories" button.
In response, I'm providing you with a link suggesting 10 thinking sins you might be commiting. Being a blogger, I printed out suggestion 8 for you:
8. Your blog sucks. It’s super lame. You should stop writing, because you’re a moron and I hope you never reproduce.
He then goes on to tell you why that isn't nice for either you or the recipient and offers this advice:
Solution: Learn to offer constructive solutions, first of all. Instead of telling someone their blog sucks, or that a post is lame, offer some specific suggestions for improvement. Help them get better. If you are going to take the time to make a comment, make it worth your time. Second, learn to interact with people in a more positive way — it makes others feel good and it makes you feel better about yourself. And you can make some great friends this way. That’s a good thing.

Music & Writing

This is a question and my answer from an online journalling list that I belong to. If you'd like to join the list Usually they pose a weekly question about the writing life that everyone discusses.
Q. Does your journal have its own soundtrack in your head? Do you listen to music while you write and is it anything in particular or just what's playing on the radio? Do you find the tone of your entries to be affected by what you're listening to? Do you ever write about music?

A. What a great question!! Music is an add-on in my life rather than my heartbeat. I've had many semesters of choral singing lessons and I can play piano and accordian on a very basic level but I'm nowhere close to an untrained person with any level of a gift for music. When I set out to write, I don't think about music and therefore have nothing playing in the background. The reverse can happen. If I start with music - with deliberately selecting a tape or cd, I don't skip around but rather go from beginning to end and when I start to lose interest, instead of shutting the music off, I start surfing until I find something that interests me to the level that I want to share what I've found or share a thought inspired by it.

My son, on the other hand, is a drummer. The drums express his emotions and when he's through drumming, he'll work on his screenplays or write song lyrics. When you read his writing, you can feel the rhythm of the drums. And that is why I know that my son is a thousand times more powerful a writer than I am. He has a gift. He writes from the soul. He puts his heartbeat on the paper.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Honorary Degrees
Ever wonder about who gets an honorary degree? The above link will connect you to a list of the people who have received honorary degrees from UWO since 1981. I did a google search on some of the names to see why they made the list.
I'm sure everyone knows who Paris Hilton is but how many of UWO's best of the best list are recognized outside their field. So if you're going through a midlife crisis and wondering if anyone knows your name, well redirect your mind. Maybe it's not how many people know your name but rather whether or not you're work is respected by those qualified to evaluate it and by those who have benefited from your skills.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Old Age Psychiatry

Seminars in Old Age Psychiatry; Edited by Rob Butler and Brice Pitt
The full text of this College textbook is available here, and has been provided as a service for members of the Faculty of the Psychiatry of Old Age.
Who even knew there was such a thing as a Faculty of the Psychiatry of Old Age?
I did a google search of Brice Pitt after reading this article:
Psychiatrist Brice Pitt on Ian McKellen's King Lear,,2095667,00.html
With our ever aging populations, I found this line interesting:
When Lear punched Kent, I found myself thinking: "This old man is the terror of the nursing home." That is a type of character I know very well. Like Lear, he usually has a history of arrogance and tremendous impatience. People will say of him, "He was always very difficult, but now he has become impossible-"
I doubt that Canada is assessing the terror of the nursing home beyond determining the level of progressive sedation required to manage the problem. Do Psychiatrists visit nursing homes and who is diagnosing the specific type of dementias in the nursing home population?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Patricia Wynne
This is a google authors video of Patricia Wynne. She is an absolutely amazing scientific illustrator. Her job is the perfect combination of science and the arts. The interview is mainly about the book "Bones, Brains & DNA". She's a contract scientific illustrator for the American Museum of Natural History. Take a peak at her work. It's beautiful, detailed and extremely accurate - more accurate than a photograph.

Right-Brained Vision Statement

Lee Silber sent a link to his own Vision Statement. It's not what you expect. It's a pictorial slideshow with very few words but it definitely appeals to the right brain.

Monday, June 4, 2007

100 Mile Diet & 10,000 Steps

Resources at your local library (I'm sure it's happening all over, I just happen to be in Chatham-Kent_
Chatham-Kent has published a map of local producers to make it simpler for people to buy their food directly from the growers. It's titled "Buy Local, Buy Fresh". Reasons to Eat Locally:
There's also a program where you can pick up a booklet and pedometer to track the number of steps you take. That's called "Start Walking Chatham-Kent "94 Days of Summer" Walking Campaign. Here's a site to help you get to your 10,000 steps a day. Personally I seem to have quite a bit of trouble getting a pedometer to work properly probably because of my rollie abdomen. At the moment I've attached it to a lightweight ladies' style carpenter's apron and am experimenting with the best placement to actually get the thing to record all the steps. I got nowhere attaching it to the elastic waistband of my jeans and workout pants. Actually it's a good question to post on Sparkpeople. Will let you know if they have a better solution.
There's also a map of local gardens, nurseries and garden wares called "Garden Routes of Canada South, Essex & Chatham-Kent Counties".

TED: Ideas Worth Sharing

You've got to check out this website Ideas Worth Sharing: Inspired talks by the world's greatest thinkers and doers. I've watched Charles Leadbeater: The rise of the amateur professional. He's basically saying that 1% of people want to move from being consumers of information and products to putting suggestions and models out there on how whatever they are consuming can be improved. If you find his video presentation interesting, he has put his entire book that is being published this summer on the web for people to read and critique. This link takes you to his video and this link takes you to his book

Changes to Blog

I had a dream that is resulting in changes to this blog. I shared some of the midlife stuff I'm working through which actually was quite helpful for me. Well on Saturday night, I dreamt that it was a bit like deciding to try on clothes in the middle of the shopping mall. I might be all into self acceptance but it probably wouldn't be a pretty sight and actually likely downright uncomfortable for other people. So I deleted a few posts and will probably do revisions to some others. Sorry for the self-indulgent period but there's a learning curve to everything including blogging.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Wish I could develop this attitude towards meal preparation:

"During the entire cooking process, it’s very important to have a positive and loving attitude – so we consciously do things that will help the cooks become more calm and centered.
We always offer a simple prayer before cooking and I never cook when angry or upset, as these vibrations will go into the food and the guests will feel it.
We treat the food with respect, love and focused attention. The way we handle it, the way we wash it – the whole process is done with care.
We play only soft and calming music.
I have a little altar in the kitchen with some flowers and maybe a candle burning to keep the mood sacred.
I allow Spirit to flow through me, through my hands and heart and into the food I am preparing.
Together with the guests, we bless the food before we eat as an act of appreciation and gratitude. We sing the prayer all together so the entire meal becomes an uplifting experience.
The most important ingredient for successful cooking is your own “vibration” If you cook with focused attention, joy, kindness and love, this will be reflected in the appearance and taste of the food and in the compliments you receive." Blanche McCord

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Daily Record Book

Remember those old Green Daily Plan and Record Books that teacher's kept on their desks. I keep one on my computer desk to keep track of what has sparked my interest on the web. I don't keep track of dates or everywhere I've surfed but it is a type of log. The reason I prefer the teacher's record book is because it is fairly big, a colour with associations and a big spiral binding so it doesn't disappear in the midst of the rest of the stuff.

Disney Couples

I'm a big fan of youtube because it condenses long movies into 3 minute music videos. Well I just discovered that if you type Disney Couples into the youtube search box, up comes the sound track of modern love music with video clips of the most romantic pieces from a jumble of disney princess movies. There are an amazing number of these videos and I'm sure there are countless more being compiled as we speak. Stephen and I didn't date long enough to have an "OUR SONG" so I'm researching possibilities. Thanks to weddings, I'm sure we have memories of dancing to just about everything. My favourite clips are alway the ballroom dance scenes. I don't know what other girls were looking for in a man but I was determined to never marry anyone who would prefer sitting and talking to being on the dance floor."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Financial Considerations

Financial planners aren't talking so much about getting your house into financial order during the empty nest period leading up to retirement. Instead they are writing articles titled, "So Your Kid Wants to be a Rock Star" or "When Mom and Dad go to Iraq, Grandma and Grandpa live on Base" or "Who is the Alzheimer Patient and Who is the Caregiver - the 90 year old mother or the 70 year old daughter". There is an unanticipated trend for the snowbirds to fly back to Canada once their golfing days end which hasn't been budgeted for by municipalities. And with big student loans, the high cost of housing, the instability of relationships and the disappearing jobs, adult children and their offspring are either moving home or the parents are giving them financial aid to stay wherever they are.
So the talk around the baby boomer watering hole these days isn't about freedom 55. The Ontario Government has released a paper by LeRoy O Stone "New Frontiers of Research on Retirement" which is worth a look. When my friends began retiring, I stopped thinking about "What I want to do when I grow up". However, that might have been short sighted on both my part and those who retired early.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Weird Hair

What do you think of red hair with pink streaks or blue hair with purple highlights? Well I have very little hair on top and I think it's great when the young with their beautiful skin tones experiment and have fun with their hair. How long does youth last anyhow- maybe a minute and a half. Today on the internet they listed jobs that you can do with weird hair. So in case you're thinking that job hunting might be a bit of a challenge with weird hair, a stud through your tongue and all those tatoos, here's the jobs to consider: Barista, Cosmetologist, Massage Therapist, Server, Copy Editor, Theatre Worker, Softwear Developer, Web Designer, Art School Instructor, Photographer, Chemist and Sports Mascot. Basically they are either jobs where the artsy, edgy look is what they're after or jobs where most of the work is done behind the scenes so you're not a reflection of company image.

Young Creative Moms

At the end of the day, I like to check out a couple of creative young mom blogs. I start with this list and randomly select a blog. If I like that blog than I check out a couple of the favourites posted there.
The major problem young moms have is that they are a bit invisible as unique human beings deserving recognition and enthusiastic response for their activities. So I'm all for it if they want to post a picture of that nutritionally balanced with kid-appeal school lunch they prepared and packed. They post a picture of their first attempt to knit a scarf or the picture they just painted or a card they made for a friend. It's easy to lose the individual, creative aspect of life when there's so much effort required to hold the whole good wife, good mom thing together. So I look at a couple of these "show and tell" blogs and I'm the silent cheerleader saying "You go girl!" I don't have much of an appreciation for art gallery stuff but I do get mommy creativity.

re: Interview David & his dad

There are 2 seaman from Windsor interviewed. My son is the second one. Stephen is talking a about how important it is to stay in communication. The Halifax isn't David's regular ship. He went on the recruitment cruise along the Great Lakes in order to get an extra trip home.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cooking Styles

Peter and I had a tiff this week. Usually I don't care one way or the other if my kids are angry at me but this time I'm not so sure of my position. Peter wants me to teach him how to cook. He picked out a recipe and I was supposed to read the recipe, buy all the ingredients and follow the cooking instructions. Well I looked at the picture and basically it was meatloaf wrapped around hard boiled eggs with a sweet/sour tomato sauce on top so I was good to go.
P: How do you boil eggs?
Me: Well I know 3 ways, the cookbook way, grandma's way and mine which is a bit of both. Grandma puts eggs and water in pot covered with tight lid, brings the water to a boil and turns off the heat and lets the eggs sit for 25 minutes. The cookbook boils them until they are done which I think might be 7 minutes. I know an egg timer is 3 minutes because grandpa insisted we use it to time long distance calls. Grandpa thought anything worth saying required 3 minutes, I thought 30 minutes and you guys think 3 hours. And I think 3 minutes gives you a soft boiled egg so hardboiling is something longer. And anyway we had hardboiled eggs on toast for supper last night and I have enough extras for this recipe.
P: Don't put oatmeal on my meatloaf!!! Where does it say anything about oatmeal?
Me: Rolled oats is faster than fiddling around turning bread into soft bread crumbs. Wheat/Oats - both grains. Besides grandma preferred oats and I'm sure you'll like it better because it's one of those Scottish evolutionary things.
P: You just want to do it any which way to get it over and done with.
Me: yeah, duh.
I could have taught him bunches more but at that point he went upstairs and turned the volume up on his cd player trying to blast out his mom's misinformation.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

List of Lasts
This links to a journal prompt about lasts.
When I was in high school, the school librarian suggested that I keep a journal of firsts. Relax everyone, I didn't have the imagination to realize what an endless supply of firsts life has to offer and didn't journal anything. Lezlie has 3 categories of lasts: the lasts we looked forward to, the lasts we regret and the lasts that we didn't realize were going to be lasts. One of the bitter sweet things of being on the far side of 50, is that you have every reason in the world to enjoy everything to the hilt - the way you would if you knew for certain that it was the last time.

Justifying Upgrading

Thought I'd share 2 persuasive arguments to sell your partner on the need to upgrade technology.

While in high school, our daughter was dating a Mennonite lad. Her brothers' suggested that perhaps she didn't know herself very well. Not only do Mennonite women work extremely hard but even worse, there's no flopping in front of the tv to recover. Paula said there was no tv, but they did watch dvds on the computer. Well at the time, my computer didn't have a dvd player. Did I pounce on that one! I accept that I'm totally not in the league of cybergeeks but when I fall behind the Mennonites in cool toys, that's a definite call to action.

Recently I've been thinking that having an ipod might be fun. And guess what? Some kid did a study suggesting that the ipod may be a potential source of pacemaker interference. So obviously this is a purchase that can't be delayed indefinitely. Babyboomers of the world, get your ipods now because you never know what the future holds. And if you know some person who decides after receiving a pacemaker that what's needed is romance with a young one, well that funny feeling in the chest is not necessarily love. It could be the ipod in the young one's shirt pocket is the reason the old one's heart skipped a beat.

High Interest Books for Boys

Click here to see the full list
I'm not sure what the Guardian mean by a dedicated boys' bookshelf in the library.,,2080754,00.html
I would think libraries would start classifying books using video store categories: comedy, adventure, drama, science fiction, etc. if they want to be user friendly. Kids also prefer choosing paperbacks from those spinning racks over hardcovers stuck on shelves. You really can't knock any effort encouraging leisure reading in kids but nothing beats a librarian taking an interest in you and matching your interests to a book with a manageable vocabulary for your reading level.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

French Lessons

I'm absolutely terrible with languages so it would be pathetic if I forget my Gr. 10 French or my Gr. 12 Spanish. If I had my way, I'd watch every DVD with the French or Spanish subtitles on. I always get outvoted on that one although sometimes they'll agree to English subtitles if the dialogue is mumbled or there's a long phone conversation happening in the room (even though the cord is long enough to be in 3 other areas of the house) or Peter is drumming.
Check out this site She posts 3 times a week and only introduces a few French words into each of her blog posts. While you're there, click on "links". She has an interesting array of links for those who want to be more seriously curious about anything French.

Educational Leadership

To prove how crazy I can be, I homeschooled David and Peter for 2 1/2 years - Peter for Grades 4, 5 and 1/2 of 6 and David for Grades 6, 7 and 1/2 of 8. Then we moved and I plopped them back in school in March so David would have a the whole big deal Grade 8 graduation. Why? Because I wanted to figure out how they learned. Now the great thing about education is that there is an neverending supply of educational theorists out there. And the advantage homeschooling has over regular schooling is that you can test any theory you want and you and the student have a lifetime to experiment in.
Today I discovered the magazine "Educational Leadership". takes you to an archive of all their issues going back to Oct. 43. It's fun to check out what the hot topics were when you were in Gr. 1, etc. To access the text of all the article requires money. However, for free, you get the author and the title of all the article. For modern stuff, you can access the whole article. For the older stuff, what more do you need to find anything in cyberspace than a name or a subject? The goal is not the article. The goal is the theory behind the article. Happy surfing.

Books, Bloggers & Critics

My undergrad degree is in English literature so I'm allowed to be a book fanatic. publishes a daily digest of arts, culture and ideas with links to an array of newspaper articles. One of today's articles is about the relationship between critics, bloggers and book clubs. The professional critics are having to justify why they are still necessary. They've done some recent research on book club members and found the average member of a book club buys 40 books a year so the publishing industry really needs the book clubs. Personally I think bibliophiles are using everying. I participate in a local bookclub and know the basics about popular cyberspace bookclubs. Even better is popping into a thread where people are listing what they are currently reading or listing their favourite books or authors. I'll pick a couple and google the author's name. Usually the author has a website with a list of his/her books, links to first chapters, links to interviews and articles, etc. Yesterday I picked an author who had written about a dozen books and most of those books had their first chapter online. Read half a dozen first chapters and you've got a pretty good idea of whether or not you're going to keep an eye open for a book by that author. If there's a discussion group for your particular profession, and there always it, people usually get around to recommending books and it's a start for continuing education as the ones just graduating from university are more likely to know about the cutting edge stuff. And yes, I do read the newspaper critics but when the stone is thrown into the pool, my friends are the innermost ring of trusted advisors and the critics are the outermost ring. Why? Because I'm not an intellectual. I'm a person and I'm probably most interested in the same kinds of subject matter as the people I associate with either in person or in cyberspace.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is important because without it you just don't know. So much is written these days about not having to be stuck with the family you got - go out there and create a Friends family or a Cheers family or a Grey's Anatomy family - a group of people who'll understand the post traumatic stress surrounding a visit from mom.
So Mother's Day is my Oscar night. Out of all the people in the world they could have chosen for mom, the kids are honouring the one they got. And I'm doing a Sally Field - "You like me, You really like me". Oh yeah, there were lots of days (ok, every day) well moments in every day that they really hated me and to be honest moments when I really hated them as well but what counts is now. As young adults, do they think I did a good enough job for them to be an asset to God and country and their loved ones and themselves. We made it. We got through all those difficult phases of growing up and their father and I feel so privileged to have been a part of it all.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

HMCS Halifax

The HMCS Halifax is on a Great Lakes tour. Yesterday it stopped in Windsor and Sarnia. Stephen and Peter were guests on the ship between those two points. I got to be the crazy mom standing on the shore waving like crazy to our son David while the ship pulled into and left port. I obsessively watch all those Canadian moms watching their fallen soldier children being carried off the plane from Afghanistan and I couldn't help celebrating like crazy that my oldest is alive and well and on an adventure. I've practically made a career out of embarrassing my children but this time I pulled out all the stops and really made a spectacle of myself. After the ship pulled away from Sarnia, Peter said, "Oh, by the way, this is from David". My wardrobe has been expanded to include another T-shirt and hoody sweatshirt with a naval ship floating across my chest. It was raining like crazy yesterday and all the crew had on those bright yellow two piece rain suits. Christmas is coming. Wouldn't my short, fat body look stunning in naval rain gear. Here's hoping.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

June Callwood: National Treasures

I decided the best way to honour June Callwood was to read one of her books. In National Treasures she interviews Margaret Atwood, Phil Fontaine, Rosemary Brown, Charles Pachter, Buffy Sainte-Marie, William Hutt, Maureen Forrester, Falrey Mowat, and Karen Kain. She says, "Every Canadian can make a list of people we consider national treasures. What I think most lists have in common is that people we admire are those whose lives reflect a sense of responsibility towards others...(people who) exemplify a good life, a useful life. The givers. The treasures."
So who are your National Treasures?

Eating Our Young

Tony Bennett has issues with Simon Cowell of American Idol fame. He thinks Simon should be taking some of those profits and opening tiny clubs across the country so the kids can break in and learn properly. Tony was from the generation that had GI funding to get a solid musical foundation and he's been using his interviews for quite a while now to express concern that this generation isn't getting the same developmental opportunities.
In the nursing blogs, there's a lot of discussion on lateral violence (older nurses being hard on young nurses entering the profession). Well as most of my readers are mega years post graduation, what's your feelings about those entering your field.
Here's the conclusion reached by in her post "Smack, munch,
mmm new nurses" "We as nurses do need to shut the hell up and stop putting new nurses through a gauntlet. Nobody's going to be tougher, or faster, or smarter for being abused. There are, however, *systemic problems* that I think are a larger threat to the profession as a whole. We need to spend the breath we'd use debating how, exactly, we eat our young, fixing those." Head-nurse has some pretty good advice in her blogs to help young nurses survive. There's a lot of wisdom in her first rule: "1. The first rule of nursing is (sing it, everybody!): "If You Have To Jack With It, It's Wrong." Remember that when you have to connect tab A to slot B through connector C and widget D." If what you're doing isn't working, well look again. You've probably got it wrong. If it's that hard, there is a better approach.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

In September I've agreed to perform a lip sync of Bette Midler style Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B. At the time, I didn't realize that Bette sings it double time compared to the Andrew Sisters so here's hoping I can move my lips while dancing that fast and live.
Go to and do a search for videos of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. There is so much choreography out there to choose from and some of the amateur stuff is really good. Bette doing it in the Mermaid costume blows me away but no way was the final flip imaginable in my wildest dreams even in youth when many but not enough pounds lighter. If you want to learn how to play it on the piano, youtube also has a series of instructional videos showing you how.

Regenesis: The TV show

Regenesis is my absolute favourite tv show and it's filmed in Toronto. If you want the science that goes with each episode here's your link:
The show's mission statement is: The North American Biotechnology Advisory Committee is a trilateral taskforce from Canada, Mexico and the United States to investigate research in biotechnology including the related fields of bioweaponry and nanotechnology.
So every episode they are investigating some crisis caused by either faulty science or scientists implementing new processes without having thoroughly studied the effects of those processes on people or the environment. Unfortunately it's extremely frustrating if you don't start at Season 1, Episode 1 and work your way through as each story builds on the one that proceeded it. At the end of Season 2, there was a terrorist explosion in the lab and it takes all of Season 3 to figure out who was killed and what injuries the survivors sustained. You only find out about an injury when the scientist runs into difficulty performing his/her job because of it.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Queen, The Movie

I don't usually buy movies, but I'm considering this one. I wasn't a Diana fan mainly because I thought Margaret Trudeau was the edgier IT girl. Prince Charles, bulemia, Elton John just seemed quite conventional compared to Trudeau, manic depression, Keith Richards. So the Queen was out of touch with the emotions of her people and it almost brought down the monarchy - did it really matter in the end? Popularity contests are for politicians. Being Queen is a coronation - lifelong vows of faithful service to God and country no matter how she feels or how her subjects feel - it's about duty and responsibility - emotions just complicate things. Diana was the people's princess. Elizabeth carries the weight of the crown and accepts the loneliness of her position. She'll still be advising Prime Ministers and Archbishops long after Diana is a faded memory.

The Princess Phenomenon

Paula suggested I check out the group "Disney Gave Me Unrealistic Expectations About Love". It has 117,054 members so perhaps belief in Disney is the rival for belief in God. Disney Princesses are absolutely huge with the preschool crowd. The whole thing is so fascinating to me because when I was the age of the facebook crowd, the big excitement was the U.N. declaring an International Year for the advancement of Women. After 30 years of Women's lib, through facebook I've discovered why I slept way more than I advanced. Out of the mouths of babes:

OMG! I was like babysitting this 3 yr. old kid & she's like into this whole Disney things.. I will NEVER forget what she told me yesterday.
The Innocent Kid: " So, you are the Princess & you're going to meet a beautiful Prince"
Me: " Today? Tomorrow? or Later? "
The Innocent Kid : " Today "
Me: " Oh, really? Tonight? "
The Innocent Kid : " No, IN YOUR DREAMS because when you dream the world is yours "

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Creative Spelling

My kids are all creative spellers. And to tell you the truth, when communicating on msn messenger, it's all about getting the message out as quickly as possible and spelling doesn't matter. So when I was forwarded the following, I wondered what the big deal was. I can certainly read it as quickly and easily as conventional spelling. Twenty years ago, I would think the writer was either uneducated or mentally ill or someone just learning English but all those concepts about people who spell poorly have faded away and been replaced with "must have been too rushed for spell check".

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too. Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it.

Followup on Book Sale

Stephen and I were pretty equal buyers this year. We both bought approx. 40 books if I don't count the 5 Bibles and the set and a half of Interpreter's Bibles that Stephen bought. He's constantly prepared for someone knocking on the door wanting a Bible and he always has some preacher in mind who might not have a set of Interpreter's Bibles. So I say purchases that you already own and are only buying with the intent of helping someone else, don't count in the book total. I only compare our over the top self indulgent book buying tendencies. Hardcovers were a $1 and softcovers were 50 cents so our big annual extravaganza was around $120. Last night there were 3 people working at the sale and 4 customers. The first time we heard about it, Stephen was teaching a class and he sent his class to the sale to start their theological libraries. They need to have Iona and Canterbury send a notification of the sale to their religion students.

Friday, May 4, 2007

101 Things to do in 1001 Days

This looks like an interesting concept. I'm going to give it a bit of thought and if I come up with a list of 101 Things, I'll post it. Now that I'm no one's daughter and consider the kids responsible for their own lives, there's this sense of freedom to pursue whatever interests me. There's this desire to not waste those years while the legs are strong enough to carry you to wherever you might like to go and the brain cells are still firing in some kind of logical sequence.

There's also this site where you pick 43 things you'd like to do some day. I think I prefer the deadline to the 101 thing concept.

Are you feeling this sense of greater freedom and what are you going to do with it?

Your Favourite Book Sale

What's your favourite book sale and is there one specifically designated for your special interest?
No hands down, our favourite book sale is in Windsor at Iona College. Our youngest son and his girl friend invited us over for supper tonight and we said no way - we'll be at Iona waiting for the doors to open!
The book sale at Iona College tonight, 7-9PM and tomorrow, 9AM - 3PM. Lots of books.
This is the book sale that we wait all year for. Iona College is the United Church College at The University of Windsor. I'd think the big book donations come from retired clergy or clergy widows. Last year, they forgot to notify us of the sale which they said was obvious in their profits. We literally go home with boxes and boxes of books. It's probably not the book sale for people interested in modern theology but it's the perfect book sale for priests with an undergraduate degree in history.
As for me, my preference is whatever is the largest local charitable booksale. Here it's the IODE book sale. This year it's June 9th. I'm not sure where the new location is. The old location was in walking distance of my house, so I used to go back and forth lugging books and magazines home. All the local stores are within walking distance of the rectory so everyone is used to me walking home carrying more than a rational person with her own car would attempt.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Photographs win

Researchers at the United Kingdom's Open University examined how much people's mood rose after eating a chocolate snack, sipping an alcoholic drink, watching TV, listening to music, or looking at personal photos (the researchers chose these behaviors for their reputation as popular ways to unwind). The music and chocolate left most people's moods unchanged; alcohol and TV gave a slight lift (1%), but the winner by a long shot was viewing pictures, which made people feel 11% better.

I don't look at pictures. In fact, I've never owned my own camera. Personal pictures don't make me feel better - they make me sad. They remind me of lives I've left behind - decisions that weren't mine to make. Instead I'm totally into magazines - imaginary perfection - far more restful than a complicated reality.

Fat Doctors

There's a discussion going on at medscape about fat doctors: Are they letting the profession down by not practicing what they preach? Do doctors need to maintain "appropriate" weight in order to be good healers? So if your doctors don't have rock hard abs, they just might develop their own body image insecurities and let you agonize about yours in peace.
So have you developed a wellness program for yourself? As I have the fitness level on a good day of an 85 year old, I'm working out at the Seniors' Center. If you want a free website with all the dieting bells and whistles, go to They have all kinds of tracking tools, menus, support groups, blogs, video clips of exercises, articles on just about everything, etc. My favourite article is: 11 Things Children Can Teach You About Weight Loss. Go outside and play. Be a super hero. Use your Imagination. Have Fun., etc. I'm also rather fond of any book that compares the WASP lifestyle with that of less driven cultures - the ones that stop to eat and aren't competing 24/7.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Self-Destructive Choices

Being a housewife, I have more time to read medical journals than people actually working in health care. Today I read "My Father's Daughter" written by Lara Devgan, a medical student whose father is an ENT surgeon with Type II diabetes. Her father doesn't use the running shoes she's given him and most of her memories are about his enjoyment of sweet treats. Here are 2 quotes from the article that I'll be thinking about today:
Her father tried to explain his behavior by saying "It's hard to be the person you want to be". So if I've disappointed you, well he's absolutely right. I had an ideal self but it was just too hard for me to be that person.
His wife tried to explain his choices this way:
"Sometimes doing what you like - even if it's self-destructive - makes you feel like you're young again. It helps you hang on to a past that's not there anymore."
If you want to read the entire article, I found it on I get lots of emails from medscape as each medical speciality produces a weekly email. I'm especially fond of reading the blogs of young medical students because once I was young and remember when many of my friends were young medical students or young nursing students.


I'm a disaster when it comes to keeping in touch with old friends who truly mean the world to me. As I'm a bit of an internet addict, blogging feels like the perfect way for old friends to be able to check in and see what's happening. It's also a way for me to record what I've found interesting on the net and how I've been inspired by what I'm reading.