Monday, February 27, 2006



It was seven in the morning. Hub was still in bed. I was having coffee when a knock came to the door. I looked out the window. No strange vehicles in the yard – but then, a second knock came. I went to the door and opened it. There stood a strange woman about 30 or 35 years old that I had never seen before.

The fresh trail of tracks in the yard told me she had come on foot. She said she was on her way to town to go to work when her car slid in the ditch. She asked to use my phone to call a tow-truck. I assured her that wouldn’t be necessary. Hub could probably get her out.

I invited her in to sit with me in the kitchen while we waited for Hub to get dressed. I suggested she might want to call work to say she would be late. She agreed. She dialed and talked to someone. But it didn’t sound like she was talking to her boss. She nodded assent to the receiver while she was speaking and said, “Yes, she should have taken the old truck.” That made me thing she was speaking to her husband or someone at her home.

But I didn’t give it a thought at the time. In our brief chat about children, pets, and country living, I found I instinctively and intuitively liked her. Trusted her. She said she was a newcomer to the area. Moved in last October. She tried to explain to me where she lived but there are many homes along that stretch of road so I asked her, “Who are your closest neighbors?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t met any neighbors,” she replied.

“Well, no matter,” I said. “Now you know me. I’m not much for going out but I do enjoy company so feel free to drop by for coffee if you like.”

“That is so nice to hear,” she said. “I often want to go for a drive in the evening but I don’t know anyone so I have no place to go.”

By now Hub was ready to go and in no time flat, he pulled her car out and she was on her way. But when Hub came back he look puzzled. He said it looked like she had purposely driven into the ditch. No skid marks on the road or wayward tire tracks. The ditch, a short stretch of treeless gently sloping ground. A terrain that is not easy to find along our bush-scaped roads. As if she had picked a spot that would prevent damage to her vehicle. Now I was curious and went also to examine the tracks and I had to agree with Hub.

But that’s not all. The mystery deepens. When she walked to our place for help, she passed two other homes before reaching ours. Why did she not go to the closest house? Later when Hub and I were checking her car tracks we looked at her footprints. She hadn’t even paused or approached the driveway of the two other houses. And when Hub got her car back on the road, she turned around and headed away from town. She obviously was not on her way to work as she had initially said.

Now Hub is wisely intuitive about strangers, often more so than I, so I asked him how he felt when he spoke to the stranger. He found her likable, as I did, and disarming as well. And Dough-Gee Dog heartily approved of her from the get-go. And that hound dog can smell fraud, or derision, or deviousness as far away as a fresh rabbit or deer trail. But that doesn’t alter the fact that some of the things that happened this morning don’t add up and I need to have an explanation (even if I have to dream one up). There has to be some method to this madness.

Next post – Part II – FRAUD OR FRIENDSHIP. An analogy of what in the world was going on here. And, in the meantime, what do you think?

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Maybe I’m a bit slow but I just don’t understand the exchange involved in the sale of American ports. Despite all the banter, and endless news coverage, I still want to know what the sale sells. That would clear up the matter real quick.

If a port is a location for docking of ships, but when that changes hands, and nothing, positively nothing else changes with respect to this new ownership (i.e. it will not be run by the new owners, maintained by them, staffed by them, shipments qualified or quantified by them), then why would someone want to purchase it? For what rational purpose?

I don’t understand it at all but I have a threshold at my front door to sell. No you can’t take it to your house. It will remain here and I will decide who goes in and out over that threshold but it’s one hell of a good threshold. In fact my house has two exterior thresholds. Do you want to buy two?

I always thought a 'scam deal' was when something is bought in good faith without a follow-up possession date. Perhaps that is not a good way to identify a 'scam'.


I wish I could shake off this melancholy spirit. Laughter is what I need. Oh yes, that is exactly what I need. But although I can dance without reason, jump without reason, and somersault without reason, I can’t laugh without reason. That is too scary. A certain signal to the world that I have a disturbed mind.

And crying for no reason could well send the same message as laughing for no reason, although far more people do it than the other. So although I’m scraping and scratching around in my current scenario looking for the reasons I need to cry, I find nothing except ‘normalcy’.

The normal passage of time, the normal impact on body and soul of the passage of time, the normal decline of physical body and spirit that accompany the passage of time. So if it’s anticipated, expected, and above all, normal, then it isn’t a valid reason to cry.

But, on the other hand, crying is okay if I have a reason to cry. And I do have a reason. I must cry for the same reason that I shower every day. For hygiene. For cleanliness. And in the same way I oft find myself thinking of “The Little Engine that Could”, and chanting in a juvenile crease in my brain, “I think I can, I think I can,” to encourage myself to persevere when things get tough, I sometimes whisper lyrics for a little song that reminds me why I need to cry.

The song is a wee hymn I learned as a child and, with or without religious application, I still think it is a wondrous little bit of prose that is amazingly comforting. Especially since we live in a society that insists that for contentment all that we do must be purpose-driven.

I have changed the words to suit today’s rant but to those who know, love, and honor this song, I beg forgiveness for my indiscretion. I solemnly promise not to do it again. So here’s today’s one-time version.

“I washed my eyes with tears that I might see,
The sober heart I have is good for me.
I took it all apart and looked inside,
Where all my bummed out thoughts tend to reside.

I swept away the things that made me blind
And then I saw the clouds were silver-lined.
And now I understand it was to be,
Washing my eyes with tears has helped me see.”

* Singing, sniffling *

Now that’s much better. Eyes cleansed, vision clear. No waste of time or effort in that routine. It was totally purpose-driven – to cleanse my eyes so I could see the silver lining in this afternoon, this evening, and the next day and the next. And I do see that silver lining so clearly now. Do you?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Every occupation or recreational pastime has health risks. If you work with asbestos you are aware it could affect your lungs. If you work on skyscrapers, you are aware you could fall. And if you are a Blogger, there are similar risks critical to the good health of your mind, body, and soul.

You know whereof I speak. The Disease of Bloggers that turns them from vibrant, bouncing, prose-loving imaginative creatures into incapacitated invalids. A disease with symptoms that include writer’s block, lack of imagination and creativity, sometimes disinterest, and often serious depression brought on by an inability to build a stimulating thought. Or the sudden and unexplained plummeting of reader numbers. A disease-ridden time when a Blogger’s skin is itchy and so sensitive that even interwoven with the discussion of the most mundane matters are thoughts of political and societal expectations that run interference.

And during spells of Blogger illness, I find that everything is tossed around in one’s head until it is quite fatigued. The things that I want to say for my own soul-cleansing therapy are handicapped by my doubt about the wisdom of such openness. And politically, I have thoughts that are so in opposition to mainstream thinking that I suspect voicing them will create a huge outcry of critical or snide rejection.

The problems become self-propagating and soon I have a mountain of concerns that cause pain and stress. As a Blogger, I’m certain you can identify with my sick days. Hasn’t it happened to all of us at one time or another? Those gawd-awful yucky days when, as Bloggers, we feel painfully disabled, discounted, disproved, and unsubstantiated. Concerned that readers are slamming our blog windows shut with a rough click of the mouse while vowing to never go there again! Ever!

But then, oh joy, like so many other medical maladies and mysteries, there suddenly comes a time of complete remission. And my little spell of remission came when I sat down to the computer this morning. I am back to writing with wild and free abandonment. Writing for the sake of writing. Writing for me. Writing because it is my passion. And whether I get 40 readers or 1 is of no matter. Whether I get feedback or not is of no matter. I am so in remission that I’m not even thinking about whether it is time to post again or whether I should give the current post a bit more shelf life. I am so in remission that it matters not to me if what I write is titillating, original, witty, interesting, or totally stupid. My muses are ecstatic, giggling and flitting about with glee. No longer caged, no longer restrained. Age appropriate, politically appropriate, religiously appropriate, morally appropriate, socially appropriate – none of it matters. The writing is what matters.

So having made this confession, I hope that if you chance to come by, you can put up with me until I relapse once again into the restraints of the usual wisdom and debate that monitors every word I write. For Blogger Disease and Disability there is no known all-time cure but thankfully it occasionally goes into remission. As Martha would say, “It is a good thing.”

At least for now the things I write will not be restricted in the anxious way they were yester-week, yester-month, and yester-year.

So right now are you immobilized or in remission?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Did you see it? Did ya’? The guy on the news in a stolen vehicle being chased slowly down the street by the police? He let go of the steering wheel, climbed out the window, and stood on the window ledge, and with the car still moving, he balanced himself there while he dropped his pants and m‘OO’ned the police car following him. It was all caught on video tape and it was hilarious.

Driverless, the vehicle he was in continued on but before he could adjust the drift of his vehicle it rammed into another at the curb. With the police right behind he ended up trapped. Unable to continue his get-away.

This was an original ‘action shot’ that is likely to be featured in an upcoming action-movie in the near future. It so surpasses the car races and crashes that we have seen over and over and over.

It’s well known that Schwartzenegger (sp?) prefers doing his own stunts. He feels he has the brain, physique, brawn, and muscle to do stunts as well as any stuntman. But if he were featured in this scenario, I’m purty sure he would be looking for a stunt man even though he is proud enough of his physique that it’s unlikely he would be embarrassed to flash his buns. But balancing on a window ledge of a moving car while stripping is a pretty phenomenal feat that requires a great deal of bravery and an equal portion of stupidity. I guess it requires an uncanny sense of humor as well.

And did you hear about the 62-year old Grandmother who just gave birth to a new baby? At first I was horrified.

Then I was envious. Big time envious. Thinking how warm and wonderful a beautiful new baby would be wrapped in a soft little blanket in the crook of my arm. A glowing little face with bright eyes and silken lashes. Making contented little murmurs while nursing and massaging with tiny fingers the warmth of a breast. So totally lovable when yawning, stretching, and smiling sweetly those funny little grins of flatulence that new babes are famous for. With the special sweet smell of new-baby skin and hair. A new soul. A new little miracle.

I love little tiny people. I love holding them, rocking them, cuddling them and wrapping them tightly in warm soft blankets while they slumber so sweetly. Babies are a totally wondrous thing. And yes, I am envious. If she can have one, I should have one as well.

But then I started thinking about toddler years, school years and adolescent years. Oh my goodness. But this new Mom is as optimistic and upbeat as any mother and for that I have the greatest respect. As for me, I’m suddenly not envious anymore. Too tired to think about it. But of course it has nothing to do with any recall of past worries, tasks and toils of Motherhood – it’s just that I see by my watch that I’m already 45 minutes late for my afternoon nap.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


When it comes to techy stuff, there are two kinds of Personalities – you’re either A or B. And here is how they differ.

(A) Techy stuff is easy. As easy as breathing.
(B) Techy stuff is ‘tuff’. So scary, so mysterious. Too intimidating to ever tackle alone.

I belong to group (B).

Let’s not discuss how long I’ve been planning to update my blog links. But today I finally did it. Hub was at work, so I had to do it alone. And I also had to ignore one of Hub's two critical rules.

(1) “Don’t touch my power tools when I’m not here. You’ll hurt yourself”, and
(2) “Don’t try anything techy. You’ll just create a problem that will take me a week to fix.”

But since I operate on impulse, rather than calendared planning I picked today to do techy stuff. And true to my B personality, I expected it to be ‘tuff’. And with this expectation deeply ingrained in my mind – the expectation became a self-fulfilling prophecy. (You know, the old thing about ‘you get what you plan for or expect to get!’)

In fact, at one point a big red-lettered sign popped up that said “WARNING! Do You Really Want to Do This?” In my frustration, I said, “YES!” Then I reconsidered the recklessness of that act and backed up to the previous screen and said, “I Changed My Mind.” And just like Hub and the kids do in my moments of indecision, the Computer ignored me. But thankfully, despite this, I still have a blog, I have updated links and they seem to be working, and I guess that’s all that I hoped for.

Prior to tackling this task, I looked up the definition of “Great Minds.” Just to assure myself I was up to it. Because as long as I fit in the category of a ‘great mind’, I should be able to do it. So, if you want to know, ‘great minds’ are those that are capable of doing something ‘influential’ and ‘innovative’. I had half a mind that I was ‘capable’ but faith in my ‘innovation’ was extremely weak.

Nevertheless, though anxious and apprehensive, I tried it and it seems to have worked. I’ve proved I’m capable of being ‘innovative’. But now I’m faced with the ‘influencial’ part of the task – and I assume that would be contacting the administrator of the listing of “Great Minds of the Millennium” to get my name added to the list. So now that I’m going to be part of the “Great Minds Fellowship”, what’s next?

Applause, I would think. NOTE: Clapping IS allowed in the comments section as long as it doesn’t cause a technical problem. I wanted to ask you to throw dimes but Hub said they “always get tangled up in the QHxI tangent tron and the radical device”.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Two blouses, two pairs of jeans, one border-print skirt, one simple cotton dress. That was the full extent of my wardrobe when I was in Grade nine.

Maybe you recall previous posts I have written about my inordinate connection to clothes. Puzzled by the parallels I made to nice clothes, good times, and bad clothes, bad times. But I discuss it less now. When I did discuss it, I only ended up further pained by unsympathetic comments. Things like: “Do clothes matter so much?” “I never give what I’m wearing a thought.”

Well, I guess the difference is if I had had a wardrobe with 30 items rather than 6, I wouldn’t have given clothes much of a thought either. Thirty items can be scrambled and reassembled in probably more than one hundred different looks. But I didn’t have thirty. I had just what I told you I had. So it follows, that thing that I was most deficient in, is the thing I assigned the greatest importance to. In the same way that someone who is always hungry can only think how great it would be to have food I was preoccupied with how pleasant life would be if I only had more clothes.

And the pain of that deficiency of clothes still haunts me despite the bounty of clothes in my closet. That haunting pain is what inspired an attempt at self-healing by writing a 300-page emotionally-charged manuscript for my book, “It’s So Unfair, I Have Nothing to Wear.” (a manuscript that continues to collect more dust while I yap away here rather than seeking a publisher).

My siblings also had few clothes. My brother had two shirts and two pairs of jeans. But I noticed that despite this his friends never noticed, they never commented, he was never rejected or scoffed at because of it. But then, of course, boys never play the ‘wardrobe games’ that girls play. If you’re a girl you remember them. “Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day so let’s all wear red.” “Let’s all wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.” “Don’t forget tomorrow is dress-up day.” “Let’s all dress like twins tomorrow.” The game went on all year but I could never play and that just led to more painful questions the next day. Friends knowing damn well but still asking, as if to be kind, to pretend they didn’t know, “I thought you were going to wear red today like the rest of us.” (Ouch) And my only recourse was another pretense, “Oh, I forgot.”

But my deficiency of clothes brought other thoughts to my mind that I have never forgotten. I remember weeping at night with the rejection and disappointment and re-routing these thoughts again and again in my mind.

“Oh God, if I had only been a boy, I wouldn’t have this pain. If I were a boy, I would be accepted without question like my brother. There would be no wardrobe games. I could wear anything and just find happy acceptance by all in the playground. I play baseball well enough. I can hit a ball and catch it. I love playing ball. It’s the best game in the world. Why, oh why, was I born a girl in such trying circumstances?”

But out of all this pain, and whether you believe me or not it was ‘pain’, I am so glad gender issues were not front and center during that time. Because Society would have sympathized with me. Stroked my pain, erased my doubt, and I would have immediately had the comfort and solace my whole being so painfully longed for.

Even if my family couldn’t afford it, that would have been a minor obstacle. If the timing had been 20 or 30 years hence, a teacher would have recognized my pain and referred me to a counselor. Naively, I would have eventually admitted to that counselor that all I wanted in the whole wide world was to be a boy. (I know I would have never confessed that we were too dirt-poor for me to have enough clothes). And she would have consulted with the school nurse. And the school nurse would have discussed it with a psychologist. And together they would have formed a unaminous conclusion. Particularly satisfying because it would have been a conclusion, I too, would have strongly supported.

And then, in no time, I’d be on my way to a sex-change clinic and soon after back home again. Happy as a lark with still few clothes, but a mess of non-judgmental friends, and ready to play ball!


This story wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t tell you what really happened, rather than what might have happened, if the situation was now rather than then. About mid-year, the Principal either noticed my pain or my clothes. Either one, or both. He called me into his office and offered me a paying job. For the balance of that school year I worked in his office for two hours Monday and Friday of each week answering phones, filing papers, and assisting school visitors. I worked over noon hour and he gave me permission to skip first period after lunch. The regular secretary took a two-hour break but I never knew if that was her choice or simply a condition that was pressed upon her. And in my heart I knew even back then that I wasn’t hired because I was best for the job. There were many more kids who would have certainly been more adept than I with my fierce shyness.

No, I remained convinced the Principal understood my pain and wanted to help. And so, I was given the job, and with those beautiful wonderful paychecks I bought myself some clothes that made me absolutely love being a GIRL!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Today with the Olympics out front and centre, I couldn’t help thinking how determined and strong-willed athletes must be to win. But that is in the field of physical competition and the rule is not the same when the competition is to find solace, comfort, and contentment in relationships with mates, family, or friends.

When it comes to rules of winning relationships the whole approach needs to be much more circumspect than that of physical competitions. In emotional matters no one is ripping down a well-groomed and well-marked track. Emotional turmoil must take into account how others are feeling. And to resolve matters, one must blindly root out the real problem rather than just attacking what is on the surface.

It’s complicated. Complicated enough to cause me a severe skull cramp if I try to flesh it out. So for now, I’ll just give you the rule and let you form your own assessment of the meaning of it.

The rule with respect to emotional matters is of particular interest to those too strong to weep. Too stubborn to cry. And in that respect I want to say sometimes it is better to cry although the ease and refreshment of that veil of tears won’t come until later, when the lump in the throat has dissolved and you’ve pieced yourself back together.

So getting to the rule for mending relationships. The rule is, although maybe not always a hard and fast rule, that in emotional battles sometimes the greater prize is attained through a demonstration of weakness rather than strength. Perhaps because when every situation is approached with an iron determination and a stiff lip, this in no way endears us to the other. Stubbornness in one eradicates the compassion that is the primeval inheritance of the other.

But, on the other hand, oft times when one openly wears sadness and discouragement on their sleeve, the other begins to empathize, begins to seek to understand, and definitely begins to care. It is easy to feel compassionate care for the helpless; but much more difficult to feel that way about the iron-willed.

So I can already hear some of you saying. "Are you suggesting that to win we should allow ourselves to be victimized?" No, I am most definitely not suggesting that. I am suggesting that because human nature is what it is, sometimes helplessness wins, and sometimes strength and determination wins. Not in Athletic competitions, but in emotional battles.

The tender of heart win by being treated with more tenderness. The dogged and determined may get their way but not without severing a big piece of the wiring of a good relationship. That component that links the circuitry of emotional support and concerned affection of the other.

I am acutely aware that today is Valentine’s Day. A day to entertain thoughts of Romance. And anyone who has read their share of Romance novels will know that it is the soft, tender heart that always wins the greater love, the greater joy, the best of all things hoped and dreamed for. But since we no longer live in the era of Romance, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe ‘tender hearts’ are no longer in vogue and it’s time for me to catch up with what is.

Friday, February 10, 2006


I am quite aware that what I post more often sounds like a sermon than a friendly letter or journal entry. But try as I might I can’t avoid it. I guess when you get to be my age it goes with the territory. The Voice of Experience even speaks deviously through imaginative tales that I tell though I write with a solemn wish and will to subdue it. But today is different.

Today I have something to tell you from the ‘Voice of Experience', but not my voice. The voice of a 4-year-old that I was sitting one day.

This is what he told me. “Roberta,” he said, “my Step-Dad plays the music so loud in the car, it makes my stomach hurt right here,” and while saying this he pressed his hand on his waist.

Now I can’t elaborate on this as it was his experience, not mine. But I thought it was something that other parents should know. Something coming from the ‘Voice of Experience’.

This post was inspired by another small voice with sage words of wisdom at Random Pensees blog (February 7, 2006).

Thursday, February 09, 2006


I have acquired a new accessory. And No, it’s not a leather purse, pearl necklace, or stunning garnet ring. And, No, it’s not two new long black hairs on my chin or a wen or wart on my nose. But still, it is personal, physical, and practical. Far more practical then I ever realized such an accessory could be.

My new accessory is attractive. At least I think it is because I’ve never had one before. And it is unbelievably useful. I can press open seams when I am doing patchwork with it. I can separate thinly shaved sandwich meat with it. I can easily pick up needles or loose change with it. I can count and control my knitting in a convenient way with it. I can peel oranges with it. Separate the backing from self-stick tape or decals with it. Find and re-start the end of stretch wrap with it. Separate coffee filters. I find it convenient for hairdos. With this accessory I can more easily separate GD’s hair into segments for braiding. But, despite all this, I can’t pick my nose with it. And having said that, obviously it is not a pocket knife or box cutter.

By now, I’m quite certain you’ve guessed what it is, but before you snap this window shut and mutter, “Man, is that ever dumb!” let me explain. Yes, the new accessory is just what you suspected. A thumb nail that actually extends a wee bit past the end of my thumb.

Now it’s not that I was born without thumbs or that I am missing any fingers. It’s just that until only a few years ago, my nails were so soft that it was impossible to grow and maintain long nails. Sure, the odd time, on rare occasions, I had artificial nails. And they were attractive enough, but a bitter disappointment in other ways.

They made my hands feel clumsy. My fingers felt like they were suffocating, unable to breathe. Guiding them was about as difficult as a seriously palsied hand trying to guide a quill pen. Because they were false extensions, I was never certain which direction they were pointing or plunging.

So, with artificial nails, I was afraid to handle babies. Afraid I might accidentally scratch their delicate skin. Goodness knows, every time I gently scratched my nose or chin with those nails I ended up with a painful red rasp mark. When I pulled up my undies with those nails I regularly scraped the skin off my thighs or punched holes in my delicate lingerie. I couldn’t put nylons on with them without ripping them. And with this kind of snagging and hooking happening, I left a scarred trail behind me and ultimately from this stress, the first nail to fall off in the bread or the pudding was my thumb-nail. How disgusting is that?

And I couldn’t help being crushed, when my elderly neighbor, on seeing me with artificial nails, broadcast to the whole world. “Did you see Roberta’s nails? Obviously she doesn’t do a speck of work around there?”

But in recent years my own nails have hardened. They no longer so easily flex, split into layers, or break. So now I have this thumb nail on my right hand that is just right. Easy to maintain, it won’t fall off, and it doesn’t gouge babies, snag things or get in my way. It’s strong, without being brittle. I have found it useful and practical. And I intuitively know the extent of it, the force of it, the length of it. Never realized before now, the distinct advantages of a sturdy thumbnail – a thumbnail that is not a graft, but a valid extension of me self.


So for me, someone who wants to write, needs to write, etc., amidst my mundane existence, I thought this was quite amazing and worth writing about. Don’t you think so?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


“Oh, Ms Roberta Smith
You sure look delish,
You’re everything that a hungry creature might want.”

These days Hub is working, so guess who has to walk the dogs? I do.

Now Hub and I have always walked the dogs in a large block of woods behind the house. These woods have towering spruce and poplar and heavy underbrush, and after the drought we had a few years ago, plenty of deadfall or failing trees leaning on others for support. The trails are narrow and so thickly walled with bush that even on a sunny day, portions of the winding trails are as dark as the open fields are at nightfall. The Grandchildren call it our ‘enchanted forest,’ and it is, except for one thing. Over the years lynx, coyotes, deer, moose, fox, and even bears have been spotted in these woods. So I truly fear walking in the woods alone.

But now with Hub away at work every day I am forced to walk the dogs in the woods. Dough-Gee insists, and as I told you in a previous post, he uses the fact that it's the Year of the Dog to apply even more pressure. So I've been doing it, and in case you're interested, this is how it went.

Day 1 – Choked with fear I head down the trail. The dogs run ahead. But then as I enter the darkest part of the forest the dogs quickly scatter. When I call them, no response. No barking. No sound. Dog protection? It ain’t gonna happen. So I rush home with fear hard on my heels. The dogs are already there.

Day 2 – Again off we go down the trail. When I enter the deepest part of the woods, I can barely walk without tripping over dogs. Three dogs, all sticking to my legs like glue. Heads down, tails down, and peering furtively into the brush. They seem to be scared. Know what that means? If something attacks, they plan to use me as a decoy to save their own dog-skins. Not good. I rush back home with fear hard on my heels.

Day 3 – We start down the trail after giving the dogs each a snack of deer meat. We enter the most foreboding part of the trail. That is when I realize little dog has a morsel of frozen deer meat in her mouth. I take it away and put it in my overcoat pocket. Proceeding along when suddenly I realize that any creature in these woods is probably very hungry and they will easily pick up the scent of the deer meat in my pocket. Even bears have been known to cancel their slumber in mid-winter if driven by hunger. I chuck the meat into the woods and rush home with fear hard on my heels.

Day 4 – Dogs are snacking on frozen deer meat behind the garage. I call them to go for a walk. Today Dough-Gee brings his deer snack with him. Before leaving the yard, I take it away and put it on a stump by the garage. Off we go down the trail. I’ve only gone a short distant when I hear eerie noises coming from the yard. I am reluctant to head home. Eventually I take the long way round, climbing through the barbwire fence and returning along the road to the front of the house. And as I approach from the front with fear preceding me, I see in the back yard, the source of the eerie bone-chilling noises. Two ravens fighting over ownership of Dough-Gee’s meat treat.

Day 5 – These dog walks are causing fright, breathing restrictions, and huge anxiety. I can’t do it. My God, we live in the country. Any other dogs that live in the country would walk themselves. So I am determined this is the end of it. No more dog walks.

Come evening, Hub comes home exhausted after a 12-hour day. It is time to hit the sack. But oh no, Dough-Gee remembers that we have missed our dog-walk. And it is the Year of the Dog and he knows it is the Year of the Dog so he rattles his dish down the hallway, squeaks his ball, and snitches my knitting from the basket, and throws it in the air. Then he roams the house pushing and bumping things in order to heighten my aggravation. He even clamps down the pedal on my sewing machine and makes it roar. He scatters the magazines on the coffee table. He pulls the tea towels from the handle on the oven door.

But I can’t yell at him. If I do, he folds one side of his loose lip under his teeth, clamps his mouth shut, and with this lop-sided look of distress, he puts his head down and puts on his saddest basset eyes (very similar to the cat’s endearing look in Shrek II).

So, there is nothing for it, but to get a flashlight and head into the woods. A fierce wind is blowing that make the woods creak and threatens to cast drought-stricken decayed trees down with a crushing blow. There are forest sounds from every quarter. The darkness is as intense as a viscous liquid. I stumble down the trails. I hear an owl, the uncanny scream of a cat (maybe wild, maybe tame, can’t be sure). The dogs race about with either anxiety or ecstasy. I can’t tell. They bark, growl, and yip with a diversity of intonations that I am unsure how to interpret. Is it wariness, aggression, joy or fear? We proceed to the interior of the forest. My knees are steadily weakening with fear. My legs feel like water. Only in my worst nightmares have I had such a will to escape and that escape so impeded by fear. I attempt to detach my mind from my body. It is the only way to make progress. And then the flashlight dies.

You know there are other times in life like this. When one is stonewalled. When there is nothing to guide or comfort one’s efforts. When one is totally closed in by utter darkness. We flounder in the darkness, as I am now, but somehow we manage to get through.

So I call little white dog. Too small to protect me but she has value. In the darkness I find I can make out a dim outline when she is no more than two feet in front of me. Little dog is my oldest and best dog. She has a special understanding that surpasses the other dogs and she obeys my commands without any nonsense. I tell her, “Take me to HOME. STAY close, but take me to home.” And she does. She stays close and leads me home. Eventually through the trees I see the lights of home.

So now, do you know what I’ve decided? Walking the dogs in daylight is not so bad. There is really very little to fear.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


It seems as if the news and every other thing on TV has me thinking like my parents thought and their parents thought about the rapidly escalating stupidity of the world. But this tops all. Last week there was a dieting ad on TV that promised a 30 pound weight reduction before Valentine’s Day if customers registered “Today” (that would have been Feb 1st).

Now how stupid would it be for me to wake up on ‘Chocolate Indulgence Day’ thirty pounds lighter? For what common-sense reason? To prove how easy it is to put it back on. Is that what?

Sure I want to lose 30 pounds but I don’t want to wake up on Valentine’s day 30 pounds lighter and feel obliged, because of it, to eat raw carrots and celery sticks rather than stuff myself with delicious chocolates of every size, shape, and variety. Valentine’s Day is about chocolates, isn’t it? Isn’t it about taking chocolates and slamming them around my waist? And I don’t mean stuffing unwrapped boxes in my underpants either.

I mean eating them. All of them. And then sitting back on the couch and letting the anandamide, serotonin, endorphins, caffeine, sugar, and calories do their work? And because researchers speculate that the feel-good magic of chocolates has to do with a combination of the ingredients and chemical reactions in the body, it is necessary and fitting to take this into account. They know chocolate works, they just don’t fully understand how.

They speculate that the visual form and caffeine have a part to play. Creaminess and Crunch have a part to play. Bitterness and sweetness have a part to play. Sight and smell have a part to play. And it is this combination that brings on the magical episode of the feel-good, happy dance, sweet romance of another Valentine’s Day.

So pass me the fruit fondants, truffles, hazelnut clusters, almond roccas, saffron fudge, ginger butters, mints, orange cremes, and cherry cordials and those two other boxes of variety chocolates as well. No one gave me, or seems certain, of the exact proportion of ingredients needed to attain the ultimate feel-good counteraction but I plan to eventually get there. It is simply a matter of rapid, methodical and unceasing munching and crunching until I am happy, happy, happy.

And I expect a glance in a full-length mirror three weeks from now will re-affirm whether I was as happy on Valentine’s Day as I wanted to be. Maybe I better jot down the details of that stupid diet plan.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I think its great for anyone to have a spiritual belief. It certainly gives life more meaning, and death less mystery. But there are extremes of spirituality. There are those who use religion to season life. To make it more delectable, to kick it up a notch. And conversely, there are those that use religion as a crutch. A dependency that voids the boldness needed to be independent and self-sufficient.

So now I have to ask, "Have you ever seen an atheist that wasn’t self-sufficient?" I don’t think you have because atheists are as self-sufficient as they come. They are masters of self-sufficiency. But among believers in God, there are those that because of it are weak and those that because of it are bold. It’s a spectrum thing. At one end of the spectrum are those who firmly believe that ‘God helps those who help themselves’ and at the other end those who believe ‘God will supply their every need.’ That’s where boldness and weakness comes in.

So assessing where one exists along this spectrum will be reflected by how boldly one deals with crisis. Keeping in mind, however, that some crisis situations should be discounted. For example, situations of crisis linked to illness or death. In the midst of heartbreaks of this nature, spiritual dependency is totally appropriate.

But for controllable situations, dealing with crisis is not sitting on one’s hands and forming with the lips a litany of prayers requesting a sign from God before a physical plan can be implemented. There is no boldness in wanting a job, needing a job, and when the job opportunity is there, stalling while awaiting a sign from God that it is the right job. These are symptoms of individuals that use religion as a crutch.

And people who use religion as a crutch will find in their history noticeable times of crisis that were healed by the efforts of others rather than themselves. They will find they have a rather large collection of problem situations that were resolved by others through gifts of food, gifts of money, informal loans, or other interventions.

But it’s not that those who use religion as a crutch plan to be that way. Most of them are unaware while purporting a trust in God and dependence on him, they are really dependent on others’ efforts rather than their own. What happens without realization is that when Godly-minded people begin to think they live lives beyond reproach, when they become too engrossed in emulating faith, and this living leads to some minor or embarrassing failures, they assume that they should have waited longer. Waited for a clearer sign. And the situation is worsened by such contemplation. Now if the crutch-dependent-zealot falls into a bad marriage, or a painful situation at work, they blame themselves for being too impatient. They should have languished longer. And so from this point on they do. They wait longer for a sign (sometimes two or three signs) while depending even more on others intervention. They now sit on their hands for interminable periods that leave their palms and fingers quite numb.

But you know, somehow with the strength of our limbs, the dexterity of our hands, and the rate at which we can learn new knowledge and skills, I don’t think that is what God had in mind. But I have another reason for this opinion and it has to do with the belief that God created man in his own image. And obviously since God is a spirit form without physical characteristics, this reference to ‘form’ speaks to our intelligence and the power to reason solutions to problems. And so we have a likeness to God in our thinking and in His thinking, God is bold. Even more bold than an atheist.

Bold enough to purposely blend earth, fire, and water into one major volatile mix and plan for a BIG BANG! How bold is that? No trifling bit of dynamite here. So it follows that we, being gifted with this same likeness, should be bold and independent and out there using our own resources to get what we need and want out of life?

Now if perchance it should happen that having read this, you are suddenly faced with the realization that you are using religion as a crutch rather than living life with boldness, as much as I would wish to help, I have nothing to offer. But I can make a suggestion. Seek out an atheist. As I have already said, they are experts in the field of self-sufficiency and an almost equal-to-God boldness.