Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Opening Night Nerves

Posted by Picasa
Brianna was in the annual Dance Recital on the weekend. This was not the first...she has been a part of these recitals since she was 8 or 9...this grandmother can't necessarily remember when exactly she started. She dances hip-hop...and she is so good. Nobody was allowed to take pictures during the event; I had to be content with taking photos of the preparations for her dance.

Bree and Heidi, my daughter, are very similar. Long before I got to their home, I shielded myself, and asked my guides for help. I was expecting to face tears and rants...but it never happened. Both of them worked really hard at not allowing opening night nerves to overtake their preparations. Both of them have learned how to deal with each other in a situation such as this.

Heidi tells me her parenting is based on mine. But she is a teacher, and, as such, has learned much more than I ever knew when I brought up my children. It will serve her well...Bree is a free spirit, who cannot understand why anyone even bothers to tell her what to do...she will do it if it feels right to her. She is not an easy child to bring up. My world has rocked a few times when she tells me her opinion about something...usually something a child of eleven would not know anything about, in the ordinary scheme of things.

She's a Sagittarius in a crowd of Pisces, Cancers, and Taurus's. The website Lifescript has a quick explanation of Sagittarian traits. Bree's a fire sign.

And Heidi is a water sign. Fire can boil water. Water can put out the fire. These two, Brianna and Heidi, have found a balance. But then both these signs are mutable...flexible. Open to change. With Heidi's intuitive abilities and Bree's sense of adventure and inability to be confined, when they both give a little, it's a great match. Posted by Picasa

But I digress. When we arrived, the tummy butterflies were showing...and Bree had a long time to wait until her part in the pageant was performed. She was keeping every muscle, cell and bone in her body on a very balanced keel...she was concentrating hard. Heidi seemed breathless...a sure sign to me that she was also concentrating hard on being even. As a child, her words would spill out of her when excitement hit. As she grew older, she tried to camouflage this, and she started to breathe in small, shallow breaths. I notice now that she is recognizing this, and taking deeper breaths once more. Life is such an ongoing learning experience.

I was invited to help Brianna get ready. But my aid was not really required...a bun in Bree's hair was quickly fashioned by Heidi...and Bree kept quiet. I had to stifle laughter at her body language, though; her face showed her disapproval of the whole thing very eloquently! And then came the stage makeup. Everything went great until it was time for the mascara...and I totally understood Bree's reluctance to have this put on her eyelashes. I haven't ever let anybody else put mascara on my eyelashes...those brushes are lethal.

But the whole thing was done before the squawking grew too loud. She was transformed. But with typical pre-teen blase behavior, Bree went back to holding herself tightly, informing anyone who would listen that she didn't want to do this dance. It was a hard assault from a beloved granddaughter, one who I would do anything for. When I realized I was thinking of ways she could blow off her stage performance, Gray and I left for something to eat. And high time, too, who knows what may have come out of my mouth, had I stayed any longer. Nammy (the name Bree uses for me) to the rescue!

She danced beautifully, of course. I really was not aware of the choreography, the other dancers or the music...she was the star that shone the brightest for me. Her agile, dancer's body listened and lived the music and the beat. And, as a grandparent now, watching grandchildren, the emotion I experienced was far different from a mother's. I was awed by the gifts Bree had been given, and so full of gratitude that she had chosen me as her grandmother. So full of unconditional love for this child.
Posted by Picasa

Heidi had watched Bree dance parts of this dance for the entire year; Heidi, also a dancer, danced along in her mind with her daughter, pulling so hard for her...sending strength to Bree with everything she had. She knew her daughter well; the devastation that can wring Brianna dry at any mistake was not a pleasant experience, emotionally draining for all involved. And she loves her daughter; as any parent, she bleeds when she's hurt, sometimes long after the incident has passed. She had a lot invested in the success of this performance.

And what a success! Her smile proclaimed how well she felt with herself, as she ran out the door into the most wonderful hug her mom and I and Bree shared. It was one of those hugs that you can feel for weeks afterwards.

Opening night nerves might never have occurred.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Dream Eagle

Last night, during my sleep, Eagle visited. Because Eagle has appeared to me so often in the last few weeks, I have a better idea of the physical aspects of the bird. And in my dream, Eagle flew towards me, as he and another did last weekend. This time, however, he landed in front of me, in the open field I was in.

In the dream, I was walking through a field filled with grasses and meadow flowers. I noticed the Himalayan Blue Poppy showing its unearthly sky blue flower here and there, with a strong patch just ahead of the path I was on. Daisies showed their faces to the Sun, waving gently in the slight breeze. The day was warm with very few clouds to obscure the sun. The field I was in had a few trees around the perimeter of it, but they were far in the distance. There was no obstacle at all on the path I was on; it led far out of my sight...straight and long.

I wondered...where did this path go? And what was I doing there...there were no houses, no other people, nothing that told me this was a place where I had been before. Nonetheless, I walked with a feeling of anticipation and freedom.

Quite suddenly, a shadow passed over me. I looked up...Eagle was flying just above me. He put on speed, circled and flew back towards me.

I had thought the Eagle that keeps me company when I'm in my garden was the biggest Eagle I had ever seen. But this Eagle was so large! His wingspan was triple the size of the earthly bird I commune with; the strength and power in this bird was unparalled. Strangely, I was calm and happy...not frightened at all.

His flight path towards me was slow and sure...the grasses and flowers parted as his body prepared to land. I stopped, the anticipation within me growing the closer he came. He settled down in front of me, blocking the path.

He allowed me to touch him. I ran my fingers over his wings; as my hands moved over his sleek body, sparkly lights moved and scattered all around. They were luminous... a phosphorescence of many different colours...violets, purples, blues and greens. As I stroked his feathers, as I marvelled over this beautiful bird, he turned his head and his eyes met mine.

There is nothing like an Eagle's eyes. They are so clear, dagger-like; there is no hiding from the knowledge, the wisdom and the sharpness of his gaze. He knew me to the very bottom of my soul and beyond time. I felt my body expand until I was compara
tively equal in size to this giant Eagle. I felt each cell inside me expand with the luminosity of colour that surrounded him. And it felt as if we were in a circle of expanded light particles...all the flowers in the field turned to dots of shivery light.

He gave me have the knowledge of the world, he said. I felt the challenge in his gaze, and something...some weight moved in my chest. He lifted his wing with a rush of air...and there, against his body, nestled a giant, brown- speckled egg. I felt myself lift this egg, this giant, heavy egg and hold it tight against my body. The hard, thick shell felt silky and soft to my touch. It felt eons old, a dinosaur egg. My arms were barely able to encircle it but I knew it was my responsibility, I knew I had to keep it safe.

Eagle, with a great burst of strength and movement of air, flew off. I watched him, the egg in my arms, as he moved with intense purpose back the way he had come. I noticed the egg was becoming was becoming a part of me. I continued to walk, as if I carried giant, speckled eggs every day, as if it was routine. But now there was renewed purpose to my step...suddenly I knew where I was going.

I woke up feeling completely balanced. I still feel as if I am holding this now feather light egg, which seems to be melting into my body. And I am filled with awe.

I am a big wuss...a 'fraidy cat. I am so surprised that I was not afraid or anxious at all in this dream. This Dream Eagle was huge, bigger than everything; anything of this nature usually makes me run for cover, and it's not because of any physical threat. The emotional part...that is what makes me run. Facing myself could make me run a marathon at times.

It will take a few days for the message here to become apparent. My dream of Lennix and all the Cats took a couple of weeks to percolate; my understanding of why I was dreaming of so many cats became obvious over this time. Cats are protection against conflict. When I had the dream, the conflict wasn't there, but it appeared in spades a few weeks after the dream.

I researched eggs in dreams on the Internet. Eggs, according to most sites, symbolize new beginnings, new ideas and new opportunities. These are generic explanations, however. I believe every dream is unique to the dreamer. On the other hand, these site give me a good starting point, when it comes to interpreting dreams. Dream Lover Inc. is one site that gives good interpretations...some a little different than others I've read. Eagles in dreams are also discussed.

Whatever. What matters is how I felt...that is always the measure of a dream, in my humble opinion. I felt strong, powerful and sure of my way, during the peace in a place of acceptance. And today, my creativity has been at an all time high. I am looking at everything in a totally new way.

An egg...the gift of the Eagle...has, for this moment and more, changed my beliefs and my viewpoint. Can there be a better dream than this?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Impeccability and Eagle

As I drifted off to sleep on Friday night, I asked my guides to help me make this long holiday weekend a joyous, peaceful one. Life has been unsettled here lately; it was time to do some pro-active work towards changing my outlook. It was time to do some more practice towards living in the present moment.

I awoke feeling happy...right off the bat. That's a change in itself; usually I wander around for awhile, coffee mug in hand, before I become aware of what mood I'm facing the new day with. But on Saturday morning, I felt buoyant and full of energy. The sun was out, and garden work was calling...but before I ventured outside, we received a call from Jerr (Power Places) and Melissa, who are tying the knot in September. If my spirits hadn't already been high, this call would have made it is one wedding celebration I can't wait to see and experience.

After the call, it was time to work...the petunias, the impatiens and the begonias, all in seedling form, had been waiting patiently for a week in their little pots. It was time to plant. And then the lawn needed to be mowed...the recent warm weather had enabled the grass to grow with great speed, it seemed. And I wanted to use the weed-eater, build the flagstone path, weed behind Lilac...


It took awhile before I realized I was moving at terrific speed, not noticing or remembering a thing I did. I forgot to smell the roses. I forgot to just be.

But my body reminded me. When I work, I forget I'm fifty-five...I forget I now have limitations placed on me by hip and leg problems...and I go right back to when I worked in the garden in my fit and young twenties. For a long while, I am not aware of my screaming body; and then I am.

I sat down and watched the sky. It was clear blue with not a cloud or even a wisp in sight. Eagle appeared, lazily circling above me. He drifted lower and lower. I watched, and spoke with him. Not a sound penetrated from the outside world, as I concentrated on Eagle.

And suddenly, very suddenly...a circle of purple light surrounded Eagle. I watched with total awe and gratitude at the beauty inherent in that perfect purple ring that flew with him, staying steady and strong. Eagle flew out of my sight. As I marvelled at what I had seen, still not quite comprehending...he flew back, still circling lazily. And then...there! The purple once again...larger this time, fading off into the blue, blue sky. The bird in the luminous ring of colour circled once again, and then flew from my view.

What an awesome gift!

The next day, Sunday, as I once more gave relief to my aching body by resting on my stoop, I glanced at the sky again. I caught Eagle flying with great speed across the sky...he seemed in an enormous hurry. I wondered why, and then as I watched, another Eagle, flying even faster, flew into my sight, chasing the first. Uh, oh, I thought, the first was never going to outfly the second...I could feel huge intent on the part of the second Eagle. They flew behind Grandfather Tree, continuing the chase far off into the distance, and then the first suddenly turned, back towards me.

It didn't take long before I realized that they were headed, flying very fast, straight towards where I was sitting. The first Eagle, evidently using some dodging motions, ended up very low off the ground, with the second Eagle right upon his tailfeathers. All of it happened very quickly, at enormous speed.

They veered off, in perfect flying formation, not ten feet off the ground, around Grandfather Tree, back to the wide open area. As they passed between the branches, it was as if a pair of jets had whooshed through my backyard. I watched, gaping, as the chase continued until they disappeared behind Grandfather Tree. But I saw the beginnings of a tangle, and as they moved away, I heard a crack...and I am left to wonder what happened, or what dropped from Eagle's talons. It was something the second Eagle felt was his, at any rate.

It was superb show of the strength and power of these two birds. Because Eagle has shown himself to me in so many ways over the last few weeks (my mother even gave me a picture she'd made...Eagle in I didn't even know she had until she pointed it out), I feel Eagle is sending me messages. He is the spirit messenger, after all, and with all those close encounters and out-of-the-ordinary occurrences...I think I'd better listen.

But listen to what?

According to the website Lin's Domain the Eagle spirit tells me that I must become more than I ever dreamed possible. To not be the best I can be, to spurn impeccability and not use my creative gifts would bring swift repercussions; I have experienced those when I have ignored spirituality...when I have ignored myself.

Shaman Maggie writes on impeccability and what it means. She states..."The hunter chooses to bring sustenance to himself and his people by being the very best hunter he can be. He is willing to accept any challenge he may encounter in that forest with skill, awareness and a sense of anticipation in success ."

The two eagles demon- strated this principle to me in spades. The second Eagle demon- strated authority, impeccability, clear intent and absolutely no fear. He was so intent on retrieving the object the first Eagle had that any danger he faced in doing so became a challenge to be overcome with success.

There are events happening in my life right now that will take skill, awareness and authority to carry through to their completion. My friend Jerr always asks me to consider what I will do with these opportunities or challenges that have presented themselves to me. We all have free will; I can just cover my head and let the world carry on without me, if I want.

Or, as the Eagle has demonstrated, I can move to swift action. I can stand and face the fear...use it to give me strength and awareness and power to complete the tasks that have been given to me.

And in so doing, I will learn more about the Shaman's path, more about impeccability and what it means to me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Katrina's Birthday

My daughter Katrina was born on May 24, 1974. She died on December 30, 1997.

Of all the anniversaries I face without her physical presence, her birthday is the hardest one. That is when Lilac blooms. And Golden Chain tree showers us with its perfume and golden light. Lily of the Valley peeks from beneath its leaves, sending glorious scents skyward, making the recipient of her perfume remember the past...

Treen, as she was usually called, wandered through the garden with me as a child, playing quietly by my side. I would tell her what the plants needed, whether it be water, pruning or feeding...and years later, she would point to a particular plant, and tell me exactly what it required. She would have been a great gardener. She had the patience and the passion for nurturing, be they plants, animals or human.

Her gardens on her plane of existence must be fabulous! Treen loved plants that were scented...and now, when she visits, I smell flowers as she passes by. Because Treen does visit. Sometimes, I can feel her energy signature and smell her familiar scent long after she has left my area. During the month of May, Katrina visits dreams, thoughts and the ordinary parts of every day.

In May, our family gathers to celebrate birthdays and Mother's Day. Without fail, every year since Treen's death, she has appeared to me around Mother's Day, still showing me her love in my dreams and meditations. During the family gatherings, there is an empty place that no one can is Katrina's space. She walks beside me during the month of May.

Once more, we wander through the garden...not the same one where she grew up, granted, but... she's watched this one grow, along with me. And I talk to her as if she was physically there. To me, she is. We discuss the plants, noting once again what each plant requires; we discuss ourselves and our separate paths. It is a joyful time because, as before, she is so much here.

She tells me I'm short-tempered these days. Crabby, is her word. You forgot to put the roses on the kitchen table, she says. I tell her she's drifting at the moment...and it's time to get to where she wants to be. I understand her now, much better than when she was alive. We are only separated by a veil as thin as the petal of a rose, after all.

We discuss the family, just as if she was a physical part of it, still. There are members of the family that have joined her, and she tells me as much as she is able about them. We catch up on family affairs. I feel the weight of her, leaning on me, as we speak...the reassurance she still needs that it was alright to go...and I carry her for a bit, relishing the feel of her.

I tell Treen how proud I am of her daughter, Brianna. I tell her how much Bree reminds me of her, and how much a part of Heidi and Darren she is, too. I tell her that Heidi and Darren make sure that Bree remembers her. I tell her Heidi and Darren are the best parents, just as she was. And she tells me she knows.

On Katrina's birthday, I find the ocean, or a lake or river, and I let the tears flow along with the water. As time goes by, the tears grow less, and the laughter takes over. Strong laughter, strong, powerful laughter...from both of us. It is always such a release. It is always a rebirth.

Sometimes, in the earlier years, the water was turbulent, churned up by wind and rain. Much anger was sent to the waves, much shouting...such grief. The water has stilled now, the weather is more peaceful these days on her birthday. We have found a way to walk our seemingly separate paths now, although still connected. We have found acceptance.

Treen and I have found peace.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Granny G

Granny G was small in stature, with steely, gray hair cropped close to her scalp. Deceptively gentle blue eyes peered out from a soft, weathered face, accentuated by the wrinkles she had acquired through years of laughter and outdoor work, in her garden. Her whole demeanor suggested an empathetic personality, one who truly understood the trials a young woman such as I faced.

Her hands were gnarled but strong, with long attenuated fingers. Her fingernails inevitably had a layer of garden soil under them. She always smelled of her herb garden, and I learned to recognize the smell of comfrey, sage, lavender and rosemary by the scent she carried.

I can look at pictures of Granny G and she comes into sharper focus, but in my mind’s eye, through the passage of time, she seems gauzy, as if surrounded by a diaphanous mist. She was my husband’s grandmother. We took to each other quickly, recognizing kindred spirits.

I was a lonely young woman, just recently married, and pregnant, and she took me under her wing. I had moved a fair distance from my hometown to her farm, and I missed my friends, family and familiar things. At times, she felt like my savior, a port in a storm of change and emotions. Most of my feelings were confusing and very unfamiliar to me. Granny G taught me to take life as it comes, tried to teach me to let go of my tendencies to obsess wildly about the imagined, dark future I was sure was in store. If it was too early in my life to understand what she was trying so hard to convey to me, her attitude towards living in the present calmed me and taught me grace under pressure. Daily, some inner urge towards her persona and her wisdom compelled me to visit her little cabin.

Granny G’s home consisted of a kitchen/dining area, which was just large enough for a small table and two chairs, a fairy-like bathroom, and a larger living/sleeping room. This room was lined with shelves and shelves of books, with nary a work of fiction among them. Granny was only interested in books which dealt with real life, and all its foibles and joys. She would say, “Life is much, much stranger than fiction, and so much more enlightening!”...I tried to change her opinion, with youthful confidence. One Christmas, I bought her a bestseller, fiction, it was true, and she promptly gave it back to me, saying she felt I would enjoy it so much more. I gave in.

She had bunches of herbs hanging from every available space where a hook could be placed on the ceiling. At harvest time, her home’s aroma was therapy in itself…the smells of lavender and mint intermingled is still one of my favourite scents… perhaps because it is so evocative of Granny’s peaceful and serene atmosphere. After her herbs were dried, Granny packaged them, tied them with ribbon, and presented them as gifts. The recipients of her gifts more often than not used them as potpourri for dresser drawers, not having the knowledge of the healing properties contained in those packages. But Granny knew, and I learned from her, in my innocent youth, long before herbal medicine became popular and common to many households.

A pioneer gardener, Granny G found an outlet for her creativity and spirituality early in life, and she set about teaching me how to do the same. She used her gardening expertise to create a wonderful retreat, and she meditated there. As a result, these many years later, I do the same. My garden has soothed my soul too many times to count, and it is one thing I can always rely on.

She created wonderful altars to the fairies…her lords and ladies…everywhere nature proliferated. And proliferate it did, because Granny was born with an inherent knowledge of the natural order of gardening…she used organic methods during a time when chemicals were the order of the day. One of her favorite fertilizers was comfrey tea…she would mix the huge, prickly comfrey leaves with a little manure and water, and leave it to steep in the hot, semi-desert sun until the liquid reached a dark greenish amber. Then, once it turned the colour of a deep green bog, she would mix it half and half with water, and let it flow amongst the roots of her plants, a drop at a time. And her garden flourished.

Granny also drank comfrey tea. It was one of her favourite remedies for any malaise. She would laud its properties to all and sundry, but had very few takers. It tasted horribly bitter. She would not allow me to drink it, in my present pregnant position, but I did taste it. Granny would steep the leaves a long while in boiling water, and it was foul. Whether the comfrey had anything to do with it or not, I never saw Granny under the weather. She swore it was due to her comfrey tea.

Granny’s gardening expertise was never in doubt, but her healing tinctures sometimes were. I was warned not to go near her home if I had a cold or any other malady. Granny would immediately dose any sick person with whatever concoction she deemed necessary. And she was not concerned with taste…in fact…she believed the worse it tasted, the better it was.

Her potions may not have been popular, but I had belief in Granny, so they worked on me. She kept her handwritten remedies in a big old black book, and for the first few pages, she extolled the virtues of positive thinking. I was so taken with this idea, I started my own book, one I still have. And I began it by copying some of Granny’s phrases. In this way, I began to think about the brighter side of things. I began to notice the small miracles surrounding me. I began to notice my own negative way of thinking. She made me want to change…she made me think I could.

We did not have long together, Granny and I. She was a part of my everyday life for a couple of years in my very early adulthood. She taught me about life’s rhythms, using her garden as a metaphor. In the early spring, when we wandered through her barren garden, she would point out signs of life, greeting each arrival as an old friend. She showed me a new circle of life was opening, bringing hope and expectations not yet experienced.

In the late fall, after mounding the fallen leaves over the cleaned garden beds, tucking in stray leaves here and there, Granny showed me how the circle closed once more. Wiping her hands on her trousers, she would sigh with satisfaction, and not a little melancholy, over the ending of a gardening season. Then, with a shrug, she would wander into her home in search of a comforting cup of tea, and her gardening books.

We were an odd pair, the young and the old. And in the time we had together, Granny taught me about joy and sorrow, good things and bad…there, amongst her plants…and she taught me that there was always a new day, another season.

Granny showed me her view of life, to the betterment of mine.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


When I was in my late twenties, I worked for a Solicitor who gave me a job when I was in severe straits. My first husband had left me with two young children and a huge lack of money and a lot of bills. This lawyer was an alcoholic; secretaries quit after a short time with him, although he had many supporters.

He was one of the kindest men I have ever known. By the time I worked for him, alcohol had taken its toll, and the clients he had were mainly people who had stayed with him throughout his career. Many of them were never billed; they understood him and his drinking well. Most knew to come to his office early in the morning when he was basically sober. But drunk or not, he never, in the time I worked for him, turned anyone away.

He taught me one of the biggest lessons I had yet to learn. And that was that honey goes down much easier than vinegar. There were times I would be upset because a client had been unreasonable and unmannerly...when all the stress people had because of their circumstances would be focussed on me. It was unfair; I would stomp around the office after they left, complaining bitterly about the way people deal with their stress. It wasn't my fault, I would say.

My position was full of stress on its own. There were constant deadlines; I was responsible for large sums of money, which were required to be paid out on certain dates. And I was largely on my own; my employer would oversee until the drink would take over, and then he would retire to his office with the door closed, along with the office cat.

One afternoon, after an unreasonable client was demanding his money that was being held up over some legal difficulty, I became angry during the consultation. The anger wasn't necessarily even directed at the client; there were many things that contributed to my state of mind. My life had totally changed at this point, with many requirements on my time...mainly from my two young children, who were not happy with their mother working all day, and their father gone.

The client and I were at a stalemate, he was shouting and I became angry enough that I made no sense, either. That's what happens when I get doesn't happen often, and when I do, realistic words and sentences disappear, and I look and feel like a complete doofus, which usually makes me more furious! We were not going anywhere. I felt I had no back up; it was in the late afternoon, and nobody disturbed my employer at that time. But I had no choice...the client was extremely insistent and unreasonable, over a situation in which I had no control.

As inebriated as my employer was, he defused the situation by including the client in a solution to the legal standoff. Gently, carefully and kindly, he asked personal questions I would never have considered asking the man. He drew the client out of himself and as a result, discovered why he was being so unreasonable. My employer read the man's body language as he wandered slowly out of his office, used his incredible intuition that was never blunted by the drink, and instantly knew something else far more serious than a delay in receiving his money was bothering the man.

He learned the man's story. And he did that with every client before any legal conversation ever took place. In this way, he would know how to deal with any problems that might arise.

The man's story made me feel ashamed of myself. I was young; I felt my problems were enormous and far worse than anybody else's could ever be. But I was wrong, and without chastising me or the man, I was taught a huge lesson I have never forgotten by an employer who was one of the greatest teachers I have known.

What made it so difficult for me to understand this man's anger was that there was very little money coming to him, in the ordinary scheme of things. But it turned out he needed every small amount.

This man had an elementary school education. He was a mill worker, who had recently lost his job, and now was trying to find consistent work as a handyman. He made very little money, but felt he had done the best he could for his family. But then further disaster struck...his wife and one of his small children had died in a car accident. He was left with two other very young children. He could no longer afford his mortgage payments, along with care for his children. He felt very much alone, and extremely overwhelmed with his life.

He had to sell the house he and his late wife were so proud of. The little money that resulted from the sale was to pay bills and allow the family to move back east, where he had relatives who could help him. And he had just learned that there was a job waiting for him, in the east, but he had only a very short time to get there and claim it. Any delay would mean the job would be given to someone else.

He had packed up his truck with his belongings and his children, and had come in for the proceeds from the sale of his house. Any explanation I had over the delay in receiving his money was not accepted...he could not deal with another setback...he needed his proceeds to travel, for gas and food and essentials. And he needed the money that day.

My employer asked him how much money he required. Taken aback, the man estimated how much the trip would cost. Taking his wallet out of his pocket, my employer gave him the money. And told him to pass it on to someone else, when he could, to someone else who was in similar straits. He told him his proceeds would be put into his bank account when the house transfer paid out.

The man, at first hesitant to accept such kindness, asked that this money he had been given be taken off the proceeds. But it never was. The whole of his money was placed in his bank account when the sale of the house was complete.

When my employer passed on, I found a letter the man had written to him. His life was much better now, he wrote, and the funds my employer had given him had been given to a family whose house had burned down. He included a copy of a letter that family had sent to him.

Tears ran freely for me when I found this letter; it wasn't only because my employer had passed on, although I felt devastated by his death.

I learned that other people have their problems, just as I had mine. And if I took the time to understand that what is at first apparent in dealing with people who are unreasonable, it may not be the whole story behind their behavior. I learned the clues to look for and I learned how to defuse situations in which there seemed to be no solutions. I learned to ask and to listen.

The biggest thing I learned was to treat people with kindness and concern for their plight.

And to pass it on.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Colds or Allergies?

Yesterday, the pollen count was very, very high. It was extremely windy, with hurricane force gusts, and beautifully sunny and dry. Perfect conditions for pollen and seeds to blow about, making people with allergies seek the indoors. It seemed every lawn mower in the town was working with growling force; this resulted in windblown grass seeds and pollen being distributed throughout.

Gray is allergic to grass.

He has been suffering with this for the last week. We had the thought it might be a cold; there are many signs that mimic those symptoms. Dr. Greene's site explains the differences. His site is mainly about children and their ills; however, the explanations about allergies and colds and cures is apropos for all of us.

But Graham started his regimin as soon as the symptoms appeared. He uses nasal rinses, allergy medications, etc. at the first sign of a stuffy nose and dry cough. I went to Heaven on Earth Natural Foods here in Qualicum Beach and owner Jim Lowe suggested Gray try Sinna. On the Ayervedic and Herbal Health Medicines website Sinna is explained as follows: "Sinna tablets are effective in cases of infectious and allergic rhinitis as well as sinus inflammation. Sinna reduces the swelling of infected mucous membranes.
Composition:Hydrastis canadensis 6X, Kali bichromicum 6X, Lemna minor 4X, Luffa operculata 6X, Mercurius sulphuratus ruber 8X."

Graham hasn't used Sinna long enough to know if there is relief; however, today is a better day for him, and he has only used them for three days. There are many medications out there; both homeopathic and otherwise. Having spoken with many other allergy sufferers, I know the effectiveness of any particular medication wears away over time as the user continues with them.

Perusing the 'net in search of relief for Gray, I found one of the old remedies consisted of swallowing a spider! I'm not sure if anyone has done any research on this...I don't know of many people that would be willing to be a test subject. Not me, at any rate.

There are other old suggests stuffing an orange peel that has been turned inside out into the nostril. Research shows that the ingredients in citrus fruits and Vitamin C block the histamine response in a natural way, so increasing these foods in the diet would be indicated. I believe it would be better than running around doing chores, with orange peel hanging out of your nose, but that's just me.

I would rather pick up the supplement which has Quercitin, the vitamin like compound found in citrus fruits and buckwheat. They are sold as combination Vitamin C and quercitin.

Another is hanging a bag of onions around your neck, as you sleep. The consensus seems to be the onions would produce tears, which would wash out the pollen. I think that Gray would be sleeping by himself, if he wanted to try this one. I love onions; I've never considered sleeping with them, however.

I have had success with Stinging Nettle tablets in supplemental form. Scientific evidence is sparse, as is common with most of the homeopathic remedies, it seems, but many achieve relief with Stinging Nettle. There are also teas that offer this ingredient.

But the wind has settled down today; the weekend is over and the lawn mowers have ceased their roar. It is still dry and sunny and the trees and flowers are still sending their pollen and scents out from their blossoms. Allergies are the dark side of the riot of blooms in the spring, for those of us who are prone to them.

For Graham and many others, the onset of Spring brings allergies of one kind or another. In Gray's case, his system becomes somewhat immune over the summer, finally mostly stopping in the Fall. He identifies strongly with the person in that commercial for allergy medications who has a veil over her eyes and nose...his eyes burn and tear, his nose is plugged, he has a dry cough and feels as if he is watching the world from another dimension.

We live in an area that is renowned for its gardens. Every Spring the blooms reappear; if the weather conditions are right, the airborne pollens and seeds will produce allergies. But the flowers also give such awe and joy and a sense of rebirth and renewal.

Even Graham, suffering as much as he is, wouldn't want to do without them.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Back to Basics

I heard on a CBC radio interview that Home Economics is rarely taught in schools anymore. It was one of those subjects that, when I was in school, was mandatory for girls. Then, long after I was out of school, it became a subject that boys took as well.

And we learned what the kitchen was all about, from tools that are used to ingredients for basic meals. Home Ec also included a sewing class...the less said about that part the better for me. I was not a seamstress.

But I remember Miss White, the cooking teacher. She was an older (she seemed older, at the time, anyway...I was only about 14 and everyone over twenty seemed very old) European teacher who believed in stern measures when she taught us to cook. Everything was graded; the way the towel was hung up after the class was done, the neatness of the work area, spotless dishes...more time was spent on cleaning up after her previous to us second-year class than actual cookery in the first year. Cleaning and learning to measure and which pan or pot to use were also taught. It was Boot Camp for future cooks, and it was mandatory in the curriculum.

In the second year of Home Economics, we actually cooked and baked. Friends would wait outside the classroom door when the lesson was over for the tasting. Teenagers are always ravenous and we were no exception. We learned to bake muffins, biscuits, cookies and cakes, so second year Home Ec students were always popular. I still remember walking to a friend's home after school, where we demolished two cakes we had just baked in class, eating the still warm concoction with gusto. I don't remember if anything I've ever tasted since was that good.

My love of impeccably prepared food, something my mother did everyday, and my understanding of it, definitely peaked at that moment. And my journey into the cookery world began.

With Miss White's One Egg Cake.

When I cook, when I bake, it is with utter total concentration as to what I am putting into the batter, sauce or marinade. I believe freshness of the ingredients is the key to all things successfully turned out of the kitchen. When I cook, it is with my mother's voice in mind telling me to clean as I go, putting ingredients and tools away or in the sink. With Miss White in mind, I know which tools to use...and how to substitute if something isn't available.

These two teachers' lessons taught me to cook creatively and intuitively. They taught me that mistakes are inevitable; two or three similar errors would not be tolerated, however. They taught me to learn from my mistakes. Quickly. Slothful thinking was not allowed in the kitchen.

In the second year of Home Economics, I learned that when I cooked something I liked, the recipe turned out much better than when I wasn't drawn to the ingredients. I learned passion was an ingredient...if it wasn't there, the food I made turned out lackluster. That passion and love, learned way back then, became an ingredient I still try to infuse into almost every meal I make.

These lessons have an impact on my whole life. I try and clean the detritus of past mistakes as I go, I try to learn from them so as not to repeat them, I try to be creative and intuitive and fruitful, while allowing fresh opportunities to flourish...and I try to be passionate and loving in every area of my life.

Pretty good lessons learned from cooking classes that, in this day, are not considered mandatory. Those classes, whether we loved or disliked them, instilled within us the knowledge and discipline required to take care of ourselves...without processed, fast food and a microwave oven. Those classes taught me what to look for when ingredients are acquired; the freshness of the vegetables (the term organic was not used way back then), eggs, meat and fish, and dairy products was considered uppermost, in Miss White's mind. She passed that mindset on to me.

In honour of Miss is her One Egg Cake recipe. It really is good, basic with lots of room for additions and experimentation. This is one of those recipes where you remember the ingredients without needing a book. And you can bake it as muffins, or even in a pie shell. This one is baked in a loaf pan.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, softened slightly
1/4 cup (up to half a cup, if you want it sweeter) sugar
1 cup 5% buttermilk
Combine flour, baking powder and soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, cream (we had to cream by hand, but you can use a mixer...) the butter and sugar together. It should be light, fluffy and almost white in colour when you're through. This stage seemed to take a very long time when I was young. My arms almost fell off after beating, beating, beating...with Miss White insisting there was still not the right consistency of the fluffiness or colour.

Stir in the egg and mix well. Stir in the buttermilk; add the dry ingredients qvvickly! as Miss White would say, and stir for just a leedle minute.

Spoon the batter into a greased pan and bake at 350 degrees, until it's done. Really. We had to stand by the stove, and wait till the aroma wafted out, at which point we would take a toothpick and "test" for doneness. If batter clung to the toothpick, 5 more minutes baking time would be required, at which point we had to test again. After doing this exercise enough times we soon learned about how long something would take in the oven without having a timer or clock.

But if you bake it for about 40 minutes, depending on what you've added to the basic ingredients, you should be alright, but test (!) to make sure. Miss White had stock in the toothpick manufacturing companies, I feel sure.

It's a good cake to experiment and be creative with, because no matter what you do to this recipe, as long as the basics are there, it is really good...even if the whole thing is an entire failure. I feel sure that is why Miss White had us learn it so well. Her students would always eat it however it turned out, and they were sure to remember a recipe which satisfied even the pickiest among us.

If our kids don't have Home Economics, it becomes harder to find the knowledge needed to approach a kitchen without fear. A couple of years of cooking basics can set up a youngster who is ready to leave home, taking away the fear of the vegetable and the ingredient aisles in the grocery stores.

Once they've cooked something from scratch for themselves, those processed, packaged and fast foods are sure to lose their glory. The sense of well-being a cooked from scratch meal brings is incomparable to a box of dried pasta and a seasoned powder.

Something to think about.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Messages Hidden in the Garden

When Graham and I bought our new home, it was definitely what Real Estate Agents call "an emotional buy". We were both in transition, changing the whole of our lives, and doing it together. People commented on the golden light that seemed to be following us...we were both in awe of the synchronicity that happened on a daily basis. The Universe showed us there was no room for doubt of any kind in deciding to live our lives with each other.

So, when one of Gray's favourite renovated homes came on the market, we were not was meant to be, and the home still feels absolutely right. Even after, as we sat on the stoop surveying the entirely devoid of plants backyard, enjoying our new home... a fence panel fell over. I heard Gray's mutter.

"The Money Pit..." he said.

How true this turned out to be! But how beautiful this gracious home is turning out to be...we're turning the clock back to when she was built, in the 1940's. I had a blank slate to create a brand new plant intuitively, with no questions asked. It was a wonderful new way to plan a garden.

As a result, I 'know' each and every plant...its likes and dislikes, its way of being.

I find messages in the garden. I will ask for guidance from my guides and allies, before I work amongst the plants, and the answers are given. I can be positive of that. I did not always catch the drift, if you know what I'm saying. But I'm learning and becoming much, much better at reading the messages left for me.

One such message appeared the other day. I had asked my guides if a project I was considering with Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls was the propitious way...was this the path I was to follow?

As Gray and I dug a rock out of the garden, we found a round stepping stone, in perfect condition, protected by a foot of turf and dirt for who knows how long. And on the face of the stone was what I at first perceived to be a spiral...but as the dirt washed off, it turned into a happy face, with Happy Day written across the top!

I love it when the communications from my guides are so easy to read! It makes the laughter bubble up inside, even now as I write about my reactions to seeing the message written on Stone. My desire to keep the messages simple has also been heard.

If I ever needed confirmation that my guides are listening, this message was it.

With this message, I believe Shaman Maggie's Life Healing Community is off to a great start...and that Graham and I are meant to be part of it.

This house and the surrounding property seems to have been built by someone who was a wise man or woman. There is a purpose to everything is here that I have learned to listen so well to my intuition. I think because the home was intuitively laid out, to begin with.

And then there is Grandfather Tree. The sequoia, an unusual tree for this area, was struck by lightening, making his presence here even more powerful. It is here where I ask for is the most powerful spot in this garden. Here is where the answers are given.

And it is here where I placed the Happy Day Stone.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sparrow and Roses

Last Sunday, as I was watering the roses that are situated against the south facing wall of the house in a long planter, I noticed the climbing Rose growing far too rampant. Its canes were attempting to enter the attic of our house. It was time to get the pruning shears and prune Rose to a more manageable shape.

Gray got the ladder and pruned the top of the rose bush. It was a quiet Sunday; other than the birdsong, there was little to distract us from working with the plants. The sun was warm and the breeze was soft. It was one of those days where it would be only too easy to fall asleep in a comfortable lounger, feet up, and a glass of lemonade within easy reach.

As Graham pruned, the world seemed hushed, holding its breath, waiting. I felt it and thought it was a strange reaction to the simple job of pruning an overly eager rose bush. The job didn't take long; the ladder was put away, and other spring clean-up duties became paramount.

But, suddenly, as we were wandering through the garden, looking for other plants that needed to be pruned here and there, a cacophony of sound exploded from Rose. And two sparrows dived into Rose...into the very back of the bush. We were astounded...there was a nest right where Graham had pruned. Oh, oh...I've had problems with birds on a nest.

Robins will dive bomb anybody too close to their nest...once I had to put off working on a section of the garden because I was literally chased out of the area, by these Robins who were intent on doing serious damage to me. The war they created with me did not end until the babies were gone. I even bribed them with food...I brought my cat Lennix with me (which only made the bombing worse!). No go, uh uh, no way.

The Robin won that war.

So even as I expressed my delight with this turn of events to Graham, there was some apprehension...would Sparrow allow me to continue working in the garden? In the war with Robin, I would have to travel half the yard to get some peace. But that was my old yard, from my last house. It was almost 4 acres...half the yard was a long way!

And here, there is only a village lot...large by some standards, but with nowhere near the room to run as my old home did.

But after the initial scolding we received from Sparrow, which was long, loud and vociferous, the birds settled down with mannerly, good neighbour intentions. And within a day, the babies hatched. The quiet I love that descends on my office when I write is gone least until the babies leave the nest. Rose travels the outside wall, right beside my window! Those baby Sparrows never shut up, growing louder and louder as they grow.

Just as I am about to write a particulary succinct phrase, Sparrow comes back to the nest with a tantalizing tidbit for a lucky baby or two. And the sudden shrieking, piercing peeps startle and knock me out of the zone I'm in with absolute timed precision.

Sparrow, in a different way than Robin did, perhaps, stops me from working so hard...tells me to take time to smell the roses. Sparrow is asking if I can triumph over adversity...he's already shown me how to survive...when Gray pruned Rose, the stillness, as I mentioned, was palpable. According to the site Sparrow is telling me, too, to look at my there something or someone who is making me feel less than?

Sparrow also has another message...he is telling me to assert myself. He assures me in this way I will triumph over outside circumstances.

How apropos to me this all is. I have great difficulty asserting myself, especially with my family. And when Sparrow made his nest, I was adjusting to life with Scott back again...not an easy thing for me, when I'd grown used to an empty nest. My daughter, Heidi, warned me of my passive-aggressive behavior, and it was a great reminder. There are much better ways to assertiveness; I was just so wound up I had forgotten.

I can always count on my guides and allies to set me straight, if I am only aware enough to get the message. When I ask for help, I always ask for the message to be head doesn't wrap itself around complicated communications.

Once again, the Universe heard my plea for ease in understanding...I hear Sparrow and each of the babies shouting out the message each time I go into my office.

And I have the added pleasure of watching the babies learn to fly and finally, leave the nest...