Saturday, March 29, 2008

Blog Feeds

Google Reader gives insight into what's truly your interest. Most of the time I feel a bit overwhelmed by excess - excess stuff, excess weight, excess interests, excess choice. So I've been on google reader for a few weeks now checking out recommended blogs and adding and deleting until some kind of focus is emerging.
Firstly, I really like having my internet time pre-recommended twice - once by google and then once again by a blogger who says, "don't miss this". It hacks a bit of a path through the internet jungle. And I've discovered that I'm really not all that interested in what's happening in the medical world or the literary world or in Anglican politics or any other kind of politics. So basically I've spent my whole life studying secondary interests. And what rises to the top: how to organize, design, simplify, and communicate a less complex lifestyle. And that explains why I preferred the compartmentalized life working in personnel for a major corporation to the total immersion into motherhood/church work lifestyle. And it also explains why I appreciated the culture of the southern Tutchone people in Yukon so much. They knew what I most wanted to learn and tried to show me a different way.

Editing of Posts

Really I'm deleting a post. It was a snarky post about rich cats who undergo religious transformations and become saints just before their trials. Who am I to doubt their sudden preference for the life of a monk or a priest over their former gazzillion dollar lifestyle of the rich and the shameless.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Clergy Spouse Blogs

Thought I'd do a quick peak through clergy spouse blogs but I need a better search term. Clergy spouses generally don't identify themselves as such under it comes up in a post. Pastor's wife turns up more stuff but most of it is way too sweet to be of much help to a Anglican. I did read a couple in each category: Pastor's wife: discussion on how to practice hospitality and take food to others while paying off student loans. Episcopalian wife: While out with my son at the beer store, several parishioners said they'd be over to celebrate with us. Pastor's wife: And I made these adorable matching mother/daughter outfits for Easter. Episcopalian wife: And I was discreetly buying this really sexy thong underwear and right when the saleswoman is about to ring it up, a church lady slips into line and waves it in the air. Pastor's wife: It felt so good to overhear my 4 year old praying for the special needs of her little pals. Episcopalian wife: I checked on the kids and my 4 year old was distributing the reserve communion wine and doggie kibble and absolving his pals of their sins. Well actually that last one wasn't from a blog. However, if there were blogs when my kids were little, I would have posted it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Weighty Matters
Weighty Matters is a blog written by an Ottawa bariatrics physician. While I have reservations about bariatric surgery and the consumption of artificial sweetners, he provides summaries of the misinformation being pubished as medical fact and provides the questions you should be asking when reading obesity studies. Of the massive amounts of information written for fat people that I've read over the years, I must admit that after 5 minutes on his site, he had me reaching for the orange and the carrots sticks - and that's a first. I think it's because he's practically a crusader against Health Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation and something called Health Check and a whole pile of other organizations that we have been conditioned to trust. Rather than being a sinner beating oneself up and continually repenting, one starts to feel like David in a world of Goliaths. Instead of stones, he advocates letter campaigns which has a real social action feel about it - a kinda combination 60s protest/church lady protest - bring back the memories, I'm young again feeling It would appear that there's lots of conflicts of interest out there and a lot of dubious characters placing themselves at the helms of power in the nutritional world. Reading the site makes you feel like Julia Roberts when Mel Gibson came into her life in the movie Conspiracy Theory. And it's just so much more fun to feel like Julia Roberts than obese aging housewife. Check out it out and decide what you think of the guy. Is he a crack pot or is he the real thing?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Australian Auctions Life
If you wanted to start a new life would you go to ebay and auction off everything and walk away clean? Would you consider buying all of someone's stuff? Actually there was a time when Bishops expected those in northern ministry to do just that. It solves the whole moving expense problem. My wedding was extremely small - just immediate family on both sides. Not a lot of wedding presents but I didn't get to keep them long. I left my wedding present from my parents and my brother behind when we went to the Yukon and I lost the rest of the gifts in the trailor spill on the way back to Ontario. Every move is a mini death of a lifestyle you've grown to love and every move is an exciting adventure full of new possibilities. Traditionally clergy were expected to move 5 times during the course of their career. It's a good thing.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ted Talk: How the Mind Works Check out Jill Bolte Taylor's fascinating lecture on "How the Mind Works". She is a brain researcher who describes her perceptions while her brain was hemorraging. When I was 6 years old, my grandmother had a similar stroke on the same side of the brain and I've been totally fascinated with neurodegeneration and neurodevelopment ever since. In the farm's division of labour, my grandmother and I were put together with both of us being told to make sure the other one didn't wander away and fall into the river. I was this child with my very own adult who had nothing else to do but be and who was totally incapable of moralizing or criticizing or assigning jobs. Kinda explains a few things, eh.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Vanna White

This post is for my dad so why is it titled Vanna White? Because my dad was enraptured with Vanna. He died during Holy Week four years ago and just in case he decided to check in on how things are going here, I downloaded some youtube videos of Vanna for him tonight. Reminded me of the Robin Williams film "What Dreams May Come".

Guilt and Duty

According to Michael Adams the two big motivators in the lives of older women are guilt and duty. Those are the two big suppressors (or motivators) that resulted in women being buried and labeled "saints" rather than being the sexy, autonomous, hard rockers we could have been. Tell me something - if the church ladies have so much guilt angst, why didn't we get those self-esteem enhancing, you've nothing to feel guilty about classes that Karla Homolka attended while in prison. By definition sociopaths and psychopaths don't have guilt issues so I'm thinking guilt is getting the same kind of bad rap in the 2000s as sin did in the 60s. So what about duty - duty to family, duty to country, duty to God. Why has duty become a fool's gold? Who has a sense of duty - people who feel what they are doing is important, vital even and people who love something or someone more than themselves. As the song says, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."

Saturday, March 15, 2008

St. Paddy's Stew and Games Night

Another great annual event - celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a Stew, Bread and Desserts supper and then an evening of games playing. For some reason, I'm not the type that can read the directions on a box and know how to play the game. I have to be taught the rules and actually see it being played before I'll give it a try. Tonight I learned how to play King's Court and took the box home and played it some more with Peter before bed. Another game I've learned in this parish is Sequence. I've noticed within our own family and our relatives that playing games has become much more frequent now that the kids have become visitors. When the kids make the journey home, it's a celebration and games draw people closer together and allows the newest people joining the family to get some pleasure out of the visit. We're not nearly as intimidating when we're having fun. Give it a try. Blow the dust off those old board games and have an evening of good food, great friendship, a bit of music and delight your inner child with a game that can be quickly learned and shared.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Google Reader

Google Reader is quite entertaining if you don't mind having a life that's an open book. If you click the discover button, up comes a list of 20 blogs that have been matched in some way to information google knows about you. Every day there are a few changes on the list. It's an added dimension. Not only is there the possibility of discovering something really great that you wouldn't have randomly found on your own, but there's the added mystery of what linked you to that site. Does google's profile of me match the profile I have of myself, the profile of how I think other people perceive me? I suspect google knows me more as the person I wish I were and gives me credit for being edgier, brighter and more creative than the bore I am. And the truth is, the mirror the world holds up to your face does influence how you think about yourself. The google mirror is very flattering - better than a face lift and a tummy tuck.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


The kids are all getting interested in cooking. Going to the grocery store is one of my least favourite things to do. Basically there's an infinite number of things lying around that divide into 2 categories of foods (stuff you can add to oatmeal and call breakfast or stuff you can add to soup and call a casserole). As a result, I totally stopped reading recipes or buying ingredients because I had some recipe in mind. Needless to say, my kids didn't learn about cooking from me.

So they've discovered cookbooks and everything is a new, exciting experiment. I think they'll all get into the whole cooking as creative expression thing. The grocery bill is taking a hit but it's worth it. In the farming community I grew up in, women spent most of their waking hours in the kitchens. Not only do I know a lot more about food than the kids realized, I actually like the process when it's a togetherness thing rather than the measure of a woman's worth. My mom was a really good cook but there was so much more to her that wasn't valued as much, wasn't fully developed and needed to be recognized.


I wasn't in Ontario for Ash Wednesday (my favourite day of the Christian year) and it totally through me off. I just never got around to deciding on something to give up or a discipline to acquire. So it was really quite exciting to hear that a friend had found something a bit original to give up for Lent. On one level, it's really quite funny. She gave up dieting for Lent. Just thinking about it gives me the giggles. But on a deeper level, it really is brilliant. It's saying I'm not going to beat myself up during Lent and send all those negative hurtful messages to someone loved and valued by Jesus Christ. All those marketing images of how we should be, don't hold a candle to the image God had of us during the creation process. During Lent we really should practice valuing ourselves enough to be strengthened for the work that we were created to do.

Making Palm Crosses

Wednesday was the annual pizza, wine and making palm crosses night. It is so great. When you do a google search of how to make palm crosses, you find directions that are totally beyond my ability to turn from image into cross. The right way is to figure out who knows the secret, easy way and be shown. After the first 3 crosses, you go into a zen state where you'd happily make enough crosses to supply a village. After a couple of hours, the group looks at the pile and starts brainstorming about how to make use of the extra hundreds ... well there's the nursing homes and surely everyone has a few friends who'd like a cross and don't forget that a few have to be burnt next year to make the ashes for Ash Wednesday. The mystery is that no matter how many crosses you've made, when we gather together next year, everyone will be quite fuzzy about how to make them and the first part will be experimenting until someone figures it out all over again.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Message to Marketers

I'm a non-consumer and it's not because I'm resistant to change. So help me out a little and provide the information I need so I can purchase the product I want. And if you do have the information out there, tell me where to find it because cyberspace is a crowded place.

When the kids leave home, everything is either worn out or out of date because the decision making criteria in a house with kids isn't fun - more like it fits the budget, can withstand heavy cleaning and is indestructable. Post parenting, the list of criteria can expand in more personally rewarding ways so I want you to tell me what your marketing advantage is so I take that into consideration when formulating my decision grid. And then we'd really like a way of giving you feedback on why we chose or didn't choose your product because nothing is more frustrating than finding an almost perfect product that didn't meet a deciding criteria because the developers were all too young to think about it.

For example, as a mother, I valued black clothing more than Johnny Cash because I wasn't about to spend my life doing stain removal. The older you get, the weight of the garmet becomes increasingly more important. Older people plan their energy expenditures so they want light weight, supportive clothing that is easy to care for that doesn't draw attention to lack of body sculpting. All this explains why the elderly dress more like athletes and less like runway models.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Moleskine Notebooks

Do you know about Moleskine Notebooks? Not me. But then I got hooked at looking at real office spaces on flickr and moleskin notebooks seem to be everywhere. So I started googling "Moleskin". They have their own legends and stories about moleskine's website: And there's a website where people report sightings of moleskine journals in movies,
So now I feel like someone who has been wandering around the beach and not noticing sea shells. How could I totally miss out on something that so many bloggers extoll!
As for me, I use one of those green Teacher's Daily Plan and Record Book notebooks. I fill one a year with stuff I want to remember while surfing the web. How dated is that! I'm back in 1958 wanting the big notebook the teacher had as opposed to the little ones that were kept under lock and key. First you had to prove your notebook was totally full of serious blackboard copying and then the most trusted student would get the key and walk down the hall and into the furnace room and then unlock the cupboard door and bring back a brand, new notebook - such a precious treasure.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Seasonal Weather

Time slips away on me. I don't wear a watch and don't have the calendar habit either. I'm sure it's one of those Yukon things. Time is more seasonal for me. There's the cold season which I handle as well as a bouquet of roses. And there's the hot season which I handle as well as Frosty the Snowman. And there are my seasons - spring and fall. I don't need to measure birthdays. My bones are cold - not the cold of the young after a skating party - the cold of someone whose fire is turning to embers. I suppose it could be revived - a few dry sticks and maybe a log - but I don't know where to find those things that could spark an ember into a flame - and I need the answer sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Re: Desk Stuff
I am always intensely curious about how people manage the complexities of life. Nothing excites me more than finding a link that takes me to someone's real workspace and provides pictures of how they've structured their office and what they consider the tools of their trade. Checking out office spaces is one of my favourite things to do on flickr - and even better than office spaces are the pictures of the core productivity essentials that are on the go with the person. In fact, the main reason I'd consider buying a camera or a cell phone would be to post pictures of my spaces to get feedback. Everyone has their learning disabilities and mine is definitely in the area of organization. If organization comes easily to you, show the rest of us what you are doing.

Away from Her

AWAY FROM HER (Sarah Polley - Director) adapted from short story by Alice Munro - my review of the movie:
Sarah convinced all her first-choice actors to commit to the movie. So as you are watching, part of you is wondering what she was thinking when she chose these particular actors and why did they take a chance with a film that leaves so much for the audience to fill in for themselves. Any weakness in the actors isn't going to be covered by great action scenes or clever dialogue. It requires very self-assured people to even attempt it. There isn't even any award title for movies that can be shown to illustrate a lecture topic - how one begins young and full of life and accepts the inevitable loss of self when everything is just too complex and has to be simplified. Away from Her shows the journey from getting married because why not, to the complexity of actually holding a marriage together to the reality that people don't grow old at the same pace. One person becomes frail and bows out while the other person faces all the day-to-day realities alone and lonely. This film requires work - a going into one's own interior - a constant checking within oneself as to whether or not, based on one's own life experience, this is portraying a truth. I found some of the lines hard to hear and regretted not watching it with subtitles - there are no lines that can be skipped over. I personally loved the film but I've had a lifetime of observing neuro-development and neuro-degeneration. The story rings true. Alice Munro and Sarah Polley are masterful storytellers. The actors make it look easy but truth is an extraordinarily difficult thing to get just right.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Cognitive Biases
Here's a pretty impressive list of cognitive biases that whether you are aware of them or not may blindside you. I can remember the day when I got hit over the head by a major cognitive bias. During the 70s, I was quite excited about women's lib and all the new options opening up for women. Then in the 80s, a very attractive, very competent woman in her middle 20s was brought in from another division and became the first woman in the history of the plant to be company car level. Prior to that, the pattern for women was to be 4th level during your 20s, 5th level during your 30s and capped at 6th level if you'd given your life to the company and hadn't married. So when this young, bright, beautiful woman jumped over everyone and landed at 8th level, the rules changed and they changed in a way that rewarded a combination of youth, intelligence and beauty. While I had thought myself all self-righteous and idealistic, the truth is I was motivated by self-interest - expanded opportunities for myself. And that's how I see liberation movements. People are finding for expanded opportunites that are in their self-interest and I say go for it - that's a good thing - and I'll be there for you when you discover that you've done a good thing for those who come after after. There are those that plant and those that reap and the reapers just don't know the people around them planted those seeds.

Google Notebooks
Today I'm busy setting up a google notebook system for myself. It's a way to keep track of research and notes inside a series of notebooks. Basically I'm setting up a notebook per goal. One of my first goals is to redesign my workspace. I have 3 work areas in the house.
1. Upstairs Alcove. It's a great space but I'm giving that up because my husband is beginning to enjoy computers and sharing a space doesn't work for me. I don't like sharing bookcases or having someone else move what I'm working on. It's also beside the bedrooms so I have to mute the computer and not use the printer if anyone is sleeping. When I was in Halifax, I was forced to make the conversion to laptop so it's no sacrifice to give up the older computer.
2. The Dining Room. This works best for joint projects - especially with kids. There's lots of space to spread things out and room for two computers so one person can be doing something else if producing at different paces. Because it is in a public area of the house, it doesn't work for information you aren't prepared to disclose to anyone who happens to come to the door. It's also the best area for working on creative projects.
3. My Upstairs Office. This is a total disaster. I'm always relocating it because I'm using empty nest bedrooms but the birdies keep returning. Originally it was set up in Peter's room but he now needs his own productivity space. So I moved it across the hall into Paula's room when she when from residence living with summers at home to renting a house. For major holidays when everyone is home, I need all the upstairs rooms and the living room for sleeping areas. I could have a designated office, when we were a family of 6 but the family could easily double in size quickly.
The only solution to my problem is to move as much as possible online and find a confidential spot for what can't be put online for security reasons. The stuff that isn't private needs to be summarized and stored on a site like google rather than eating up my computer memory. Plus it feels more secure than having everything on a laptop that could disappear.