Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Mouse

Every house including ours has night sounds. It's been particularly cold on Lotus Island this week and the temperature gradients between the inside and the outside make the beams and studs shift and squeak and crack a little, the wind shakes the house an infinitesimal degree, to which it nevertheless objects , and the boughs of the cedars brush it gently. The sleeper who is hypervigilant also hears his ear and head contact on the pillow, his tinnitus, the bruit of the carotid pulse at times and the crow on the roof. These sounds we have become accustomed to and are singular to our house. Another's house has different singularity of sound. At 4 am this morning I awoke with a new and unaccustomed sound. Was it the ice maker dropping chunked ice, an intruder or something else? As I went down stairs into the kitchen where the sound was coming from, it seemed to be a metallic sound originating from the tile floor. There had been a suggestion that an uninvited visitor had arrived the day before and I had set a mouse trap that night on the floor beside a baseboard with bait of peanut butter. In the trap was a mouse and it was alive and struggling. The metallic sound came from the thrashing around on the tile. The mouse probably ventured further into the trap to gnaw at the bait so his head was not crushed and he was caught in the trap by the body. I have always had a primal fear of vermin, a legacy from my mother and the Middle Ages. I could deal, albeit difficult, with a dead mouse but a living, wiggling, squiggling, leg and tail waving mouse that is in agony is a different matter. I went back to bed to await its death and silence. I couldn't sleep however, assailed with thoughts of the waning life force and with the reminder from the continuing sounds emmenating from the kitchen floor. I took my courage and went back and put the mouse outside on the deck. Silence! This morning at 8 oclock he was dead and had struggled for a further 18 inches, dragging the trap from where I laid him on the deck. I'm sorry! He was probably just seeking the warmth! I must kill! Rest in Peace!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's how you say it!

My youngest daughter's first job was a Pink Lady at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Lotus City. She was 15 years old but talked them into hiring her by simple persistence. It was a summer job. This was 1978 and the nurses still wore white uniforms and there were Pink Ladies and Yellow Ladies and Blue Men. Pink Ladies were the ward cleaning staff and she really felt she belonged because our family were Jubilee people and were connected by both the pianist who worked there as a nurse, and me, on the wards every day since kingdom come. I think the cleaning staff had a very good union agreement at the time since the pianist constantly grumbled how much our 15 year old was being paid in contrast to her, a registered nurse! But that is beside the point. My esteemed partner Jack came onto the cardiac ward with a mild heart attack and was being actively investigated on the ward where our Pink lady worked on days. She chatted with Jack every day as she cleaned around him since she knew him as a senior friend and he appeared to be doing alright according to her nightly report to us. Then a following morning I got a distressed phone call from her to tell me that Jack had died! She had been sent by the Head Nurse to the room where Jack had been, to clean it up, and the bed was stripped and the side tables emptied. She inquired where Jack was and the nurse said, ostensibly in a doleful voice, that Dr. Jack was "gone"! Then the nurse looked down at her feet. Body language! I phoned Jack's wife Eleanor to give solace and to invite myself over to commiserate. She said cheerfully that she would love to see me. Then she said so would Jack! Jack was not a "goner" at that time. Words associated with inappropriate body language have the power to mislead. Body language, even in the presence of a completely foreign tongue will communicate. The face, the hands, the eyes, the tone, the posture, the animation, will usually tell the aware what they need to know. We hear with the eyes as well as the ears. That's real anatomy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Psalms for Questors


God, I think you gave me the gift of life in the world! Why do you hide from me? Why do you make it so hard to see you? How can I know you are in all things? I want to be real! I want to be worth your gift! I want to be your gift! Help me! Show me how! Help me to care! Help me to pray!


You at the waters! You can skip stones only if the surface of the waters is calm. If the waters are rough your stone will sink. If you wish to skip a flat stone you will have to stoop down to the water so that you are parallel with the surface. If you want to skip the stone well you will have to be at one with the water. You will have to select a stone that is round and smooth and reads with the surface of the water.


When someone that you may have taken for granted dies and you are at the grave, you may realize that love lost was always apparent but unexpressed. To open yourself to the living will give you more joy but expose you to more sorrow at the loss, for a moment in time. When you realize that the loved one has found love beyond the grave you will repossess what you thought you had lost.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Two words that Aunt Mabel used to declare the 'otherwise of acceptability', of things, or matters, or people,I now contract into one word which I think fits it better. Lexicographical argument about the term, infradig, is of no interest to me. Moreover no amount of opinion to the contrary, or the way to spell it, was of interest to Aunt Mabel. Whether it was un-china, or furniture not mahogany, or rhubarb, or Catholics, or Socialists, controversy mattered little to her! Living in Smalltown, Saskatchewan as she did, it seemed necessary to her to work at bringing some enlightenment to the bald prairie. Aunt Mabel was a highly intelligent and sensitive woman whose sweetheart was killed in the Great War and she, at that young age, never fully recovered from the stream of "What might have been". That disappointment or despair after a period of inanition may result, and did, in a period of decision making and refueled energy to move on. Taking charge and firming up resolve led in her case to strong feelings and an unwillingness to bend. It was her salvation. The dogmatic among us become the most lonely of creatures because no one is willing to challenge them because of the futility of argument. No one is willing to listen with attention because they have heard it all before. All the interaction is lip service to avoid unpleasantness. No one is a winner because a wall creates a zone of separation with Aunt Mabel or others of similar persuasion . Infradig has nothing to do with stuff or ideas or people. It speaks nothing to the present reality. It is an old idea! Dignity never came because of the things valued by Aunt Mabel. Dignity comes from your acknowledgment of yourself! Once you do that and you really know it ,nothing you ever do will be below dignity!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Extraordinary Ordinary

When Esther Summerson ventured out, after months of a completely confining illness from smallpox, a deadly disease before Jenner's time as it was then , she spoke for Dickens and for all of us about the realized world around us. As she looked from the carriage for the first time in months,she said, "I found every breath of air, and every scent and every flower and leaf and blade of grass, and every passing cloud, and everything in nature, more beautiful and wonderful to me than I had ever found it yet. This was my first gain from my illness." To emerge into the light from whatever dark night of the soul that you have been confined to is a revelation that the ordinary is truly extraordinary. To merge your streams of consciousness and unconsciousness with the streams of Mother Nature, seen and unseen, heard and felt and smelled! The profound, once experienced, is enough! To expect it again is greedy. To have it always would render it powerless. The lasting gain is not in the exultation, but in the serenity. Go with the flow!

Monday, February 7, 2011


Growing up on the bald prairie, the pool room was in Steve Kish's barber shop, and the swimming pool was a local slough. You could skate on the slough in the winter, swim in it in the summer and raft on it in the spring thaw. It was fun and all your naked friends were there to swim . In the pool room you could watch Cheekus Bellrose take quarters off all the visitors playing snooker or eight ball and drink a coke with your friends and play against Steve Kish for nickels if he didn't have a haircut to do. There was always something going on. When we built a house much later in Lotus City, despite the pianist's misgivings,I wanted to recapture the feeling with a pool table and a swimming pool. You can never go back! It had nothing to do with blue water and green felt! It had nothing to do with affluence or lack thereof. The children learned to play pool reasonably well but a parent is only so much fun! We eventually got rid of the pool table since it was attractive but bored! "Use me or lose me",I heard it say. The swimming pool was a somewhat different matter for about three years. It required a lot of work to keep it clean, with it under the trees, in migratory bird lanes, and enjoyed by all those water loving algae. When we first moved in, in November 1970, I kept the boiler on to heat the pool through the Christmas season. I must have been mad, mistook myself for King Farouk, and have caused all the fog on Ten Mile Point that winter! By 1974 I had heated the pool for the months of May through to July and observed that no one else had swum in it. I jumped in from time to time because I felt guilty that this pristine womb was so lacking in the pleasure of fecundity. "Use me or lose me ",I heard it say. I turned the boiler off. No one noticed it was cold for the rest of the summer because no one swam in it. At the end of September I announced that the pool heater had been off for three months. They were all mad at me. C'est la guerre! It was all my fault in the first place. You may try to go back but you can't take them with you.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Toilet trials

Occasionally over the number of years of joint usage of the toilet, difficult gender issues have occurred from time to time due to inadvertency on my part, never intent. Like Pavlov's dog, repetitive stimuli have to be applied over the years to establish consistency in behavior that is acceptable and reduces the danger that lurks close below the surface in physical interactions. There has never to my knowledge been electroshock treatment to condition my response, though I cannot testify fully to that since shock treatment does alter memory. Senior moments notwithstanding, even I eventually learned to restore the toilet seat to its place of repose after use. There eventually ceased to be expostulations of rage emanating from the occasionally incautious! Having conquered that neglectful and disrespectful habit of leaving the toilet seat up, a second problem began to surface that again resulted in tensional moments. Positioning the seat at the point of repose resulted from time to time with wet drops on the seat. Since I was careful to lower the seat after life's 'ever rolling stream' it was unclear to me that the source was mine. Since no other male was around it was a mystery,surrounded by a conundrum, overlain by an enigma,underlined as a puzzle! Nevertheless the solution was unclear, but the perpetrator was at least 'a person of interest' and guilty 'til proven innocent. Our lovely old samoyed eventually proved to be the culprit. I discovered one day by accident she preferred to drink water from the toilet since it was always in the same place. With her hairy muzzle she would dribble a little on the seat. I think she was embarrassed about her habit, so drank surreptitiously. She was completely blind from infancy so, over the years she learned her way around without the benefit of other than distant hindsight. She was pretty careful and we loved her! Both dog and man were exonerated. For the pianist and me she was never to be Pavlov's dog.