Wednesday, 29 June 2011

East of Eden is one of my favorite books. This quote reminded me of how much I loved it.

"After being expelled from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had two sons. The elder was called Cain. He was the first man born outside of paradise. In time Cain grew up and cultivated his land and brought the first fruits as an offering to God. The offering was rejected. Jehovah explained to Cain that he was tangled up with evil - it lurked around his door. "But," Jehovah said, "you may triumph over evil and have abundant life."
That's a crucial sentence - the last thing Jehovah says to Cain. "You may triumph over evil and have abundant life." The critical word is the second one, the verb - may. Timshel in Hebrew.
This term has vexed scholars and theologians for a long time. It sits in the middle of a passage considered one of the five most difficult in the Scriptures to translate and understand. In context it has varied meanings, especially in this interchange between Jehovah and Cain.
Timshel has been interpreted to mean "you shall" - that's an order, a command. Timshel has been interpreted to mean "you will" - which implies predestination. Timshel has even been interpreted to mean "you cannot," which suggests hopeless dependence. All these interpretations define a relationship with God that leaves little freedom.
My friend the rabbi feels that the practical meaning of that passage of Scripture concerns vitality - meaning "Don't be dead," or "Don't be a passive victim - be active - be alive." He reads it as good advice: There is this problem with evil - you really should deal with it.
Carry that one step further - if you should, then you may.
To interpret timshel to mean "you may" is to use a word that implies the possibility of choice. This is not a matter of theological hairsplitting. I think a strong case can be made that human beings have at least acted as if "you may" was the correct interpretation - acting as if our destiny is in our hands.
Whatever we may think or believe, what we have done is our story.
You don't need to be a theologian or belong to any particular religious group to enter this discussion, but you do come down somewhere on this issue of what's possible in your life by how you in fact go about your life. You live this truth, one way or another.
In modern English, timshel means "it may be," or simply, "maybe."
Maybe. There's our word.
The wisest answer to ultimate questions.
A word pointing at open doors and wide horizons."
--Robert Fulghum

Friday, 24 June 2011

Another way to look at my stay at home gig.

Creation Continued
--Carol Lynn Pearson

I will continue
To create the universe today
Right where God left off.

Little pockets of chaos
Somehow survived the ordering
And I feel moved
To move upon them
As in the beginning
The Spirit of God moved
Upon the face of the waters.

I will move upon my backyard today
And the weeds will be subdued
And the flowers can grow
And it will be good.

I will move long distance
Upon a broken heart
And leave a little balm
And it will be good.

I will move upon the hunger of my children
With salad and spaghetti
Which is Emily's favorite
And it will be good
And even they will say so.
And I will move too upon their minds,
Leaving a little poem
Or an important thought
And that will be even better
Though they won't say so.

I will move upon
Birth defects and AIDS
With five and ten dollar checks
To help the scientists
Who are battling the big chaos
And I will move upon world hunger
With a twenty-four dollar check
For little Marilza in Brazil
And it will be good.

I will move upon
The kitchen floor
And the dirty laundry
And a blank piece of paper
And at the end of the day
Have a little creation to show.

And the evening and the morning
Are my eighteen thousand
and ninety-sixth day
And tomorrow will start another one.
And here is chaos and there is chaos
And who knows if creation
Will finally be done?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

On being a water fixture.

This morning I woke up and fed, cleared, washed, wiped and nourished. The rest of my day will be largely comprised of the same actions.

I let my boys play in the backyard a lot. Play for them there is fun but it just isn't the same without some water to play with as well. Water is amazing, facinating and transformative. It feeds the grass and plants, clears paths, washes the mud off of my boys, wipes the dirt off of the herbs I'm growing and nourishes them as well. The thought occured to me today...I think my function is to be the water in our family.

I once heard somewhere that a garden (like a Japanese or English garden) needs to have running water. A water fixture, a fountain or a stream completes it. There is something about moving water that resonates with people and reminds them of something they need in their own lives - constant refreshing, renewal, nourishment and washing.

I've been pretty amazed at how many times I've cleaned the same spot, over and over, and over again - contantly refreshing and renewing it. Everyday my boys need nourishing and washing.

"Give said the little stream
Give, oh give. Give, oh give.
Give, said the little stream
as it hurried down the hill.
I'm small I know but wherever I go,
the grass grows greener still."

Monday, 20 June 2011

When I Was a Boy - Dar Williams

Again, I don't know about some of these photos...the old lady will make you laugh though. I find this song to be quite touching. I'm less interested in the feminist, transgender connotations in this song and more just love being brought back to that blissful uncomplicated state of climbing trees, catching fireflies and riding bikes. Kind of where my own beautiful boys are at right now - and they do pick flowers, cry at tender moments, want to tell me everything and haven't lost their kindness....yet. They are magical to me and as tiring as it can be to have their energy around all of the time, I'm having a more difficult time watching them grow so quickly.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Canadian apartheid

Joining and Disjoining - by Samuel Butler (England, 1835-1902)

These are the essence of change.
One of the earliest notes I made, when I began to make notes at all, I found not long ago in an old book, since destroyed, which I had in New Zealand. It was to the effect that all things are either of the nature of a piece of string or a knife. That is, they are either for bringing and keeping things together, or for sending and keeping them apart. Nevertheless each kind contains a little of its opposite and some, as the railway train and the hedge, combine many examples of both. Thus the train, on the whole, is used for bringing things together, but it is also used for sending them apart, and its divisions into classes are alike for separating and keeping together. The hedge is also both for joining things (as a flock of sheep) and for disjoining (as for keeping the sheep from getting into corn). These are the more immediate ends. The ulterior ends, both of train and hedge, so far as we are concerned, and so far as anything can have an end, are the bringing or helping to bring meat or dairy produce into contact with man's inside, or wool on to his back, or that he may go in comfort somewhere to converse with people and join his soul on to theirs,or please himself by getting something to come within the range of his senses or imagination.
A piece of string is a thing that, in the main, makes for togetheriness; whereas a knife is, in the main, a thing that makes for splitty-uppiness; still, there is an odour of togetheriness hanging about a knife also, for it tends to bring potatoes into a man's stomach.
In high philosophy one should never look at a knife without considering it also as a piece of string, nor at a piece of string without considering it also as a knife.
- Samuel Butler, The Note-Books of Samuel Butler:Selections, ed. Henry Festing Jones (London: Jonathan Cape, 1921), 21

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Starry Starry Night

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
by Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

Monday, 13 June 2011

"Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy."

- Abraham Joshua Heschel (January 11, 1907 – December 23, 1972) a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century.

So, I'm sitting here trying to decide whether or not to put up the pictures that came to my mind as I was thinking about this quote. At first my mind thought of pictures of sunshine, forests and morning dew...but then I thought, living/being is a lot more than sunshine, forests and morning dew. My mind starting thinking of starving children in Africa, deformities, violence, war, chronic pain, mental illness, concentration get the idea. I'm sure there are times in so many people's lives when being and living doesn't seem like a blessing and perhaps feels like the farthest thing from holy. I've just decided I'm not going to put up horrible pictures of suffering amoungst pictures of flowers, loli pops and rainbows - but that's what being is - that's the holy blessing of life. And although I'm not sitting on a bunk in Auschwitz writing this, I would like to timidly say...I agree, I think just to be is a blessing and just to live is holy.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Shotgun shack redux: mortgage-free in 320 square feet

This is so interesting to me. When we went to the UK, I was impressed at how well thought out space was there and was surprised when we moved back to realize how often space is wasted here. My sister in law is living in a house with a very small kitchen and once when I was visiting she remarked that an advantage to a small kitchen is that everything she needs is within arms reach. I also think that smaller spaces feel very cozy. The space you live in can dictate how your family interacts and I think there are certain advantages to smaller spaces. When Jord and I were living in an apartment we had one living room area and so every evening we spent together because...well we kind of had no other choice. Now that we've moved back we have a basement and a T.V. down there. Some evenings he'll head down to watch a hockey game, I'll stay upstairs and be on the computer or find a movie of my own - the extra space means that we aren't forced to compromise and find something that we both enjoy doing. There are also, of course, advantages to extra space as well. I guess I'm trying to figure out what kind of space I want for my family and I'm finding it to be a complex issue.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

at least watch the first full minute of this...I guess Benjamin Franklin isn't the only fountain of wisdom out there.

"In 1984, Mr. T made a motivational video called Be Somebody... or Be Somebody's Fool!. He gives helpful advice to children throughout the video; for example, he teaches them how to understand and appreciate their origins, how to dress fashionably without buying designer labels, how to make tripping up look like breakdancing, how to control their anger, and how to deal with peer pressure. The video is roughly one hour long, but contains 30 minutes of singing, either by the group of children accompanying him, or by Mr. T himself. He sings "Treat Your Mother Right (Treat Her Right)," in which he enumerates the reasons why it is important to treat your mother right, and also raps a song about growing up in the ghetto and praising God. The raps in this video were written by Ice T." - wikipedia

Here is a three minute video clip of "Treat Your Mother Right"

Let the sun shine.


by Mary Fullerton

The poet was exuberant,
Along his labyrinth shouting.
"Good fellow, you must trim,"
The critics came a-clouting.

And so he cut and pruned,
At the behesting...
And now remain no bowers,
Nor sweet birds nesting.

This poem reminds me of a famous quote by Nelson Mandela:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

I don't know if I would have been best friends with the guy but...

Benjamin Franklin said some pretty solid things but I can't help but think he was a bit of a fat head. From his "The Way to Wealth": "my Brother Authors....have been very sparing in their Applauses; and no other Author has taken the least Notice of me, so that did not my Writings produce me some solid Pudding, the great Deficiency of Praise would have quite discouraged me. I concluded at length, that the People were the best Judges of my Merit; for they buy my Works; and besides, in my Rambles, where I am not personally known, I have frequently heard one or other of my Adages repeated...this gave me some Satisfaction, as it showed not only that my Instructions were regarded, but discovered likewise some Respect for my Authority; and I own, that to encourage the Practice of remebering and repeating those wise Sentences, I have sometimes quoted myself with great Gravity."

Was he joking? I don't know - it seems as though he took himself quite seriously. Here's a bit more of "The Way of Wealth".

"The Hour of Sale not being come, they were conversing on the "Badness of the Times, and one of the Company call'ed to a plain clean old Man, with while Locks, "Pray, Father Abraham, what think you of the Times? Won't these heavy Taxes quite ruin the Country? How shall we ever be able to pay them? What would you advise us to?" Father Abraham stood up, and reply'd..."Friends," says he, "and Neighbours, the Taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the Government were the only ONes we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. WE are taxed twice as much by our Idleness, three times as much by our Pride, and four times as much by our Folly, and from these Taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by allowing an Abatement. However let us hearken to good Advice, and something may be done for us; God helps them that help themselves.

It would be thought a hard Government that should tax it's People one tenth Part of their Time, to be employed in its Service. But Idleness taxes many of us much more, if we reckon all that is spent in absolute Sloth, or doing of nothing,with that which is spent in idle Employments or AMusements, that amount to nothing. Sloth, by bringing on Diseases, absolutely shortens Life. Sloth, like Rust, consumes faster than Labour wears, while the used Key is always bright...But dost thou love Life, then do not squander Time, for that's the Stuff Life is made of."

Monday, 6 June 2011

Dial M for Murder...

Tonight, for no reason in particular, I decided to pick up a bucket of chicken and swing by Jordan's work to pick him up. When I saw him, he mentioned that there was a house just listed an hour before and the price was fantastic. As we drove along beautifully treed streets, we headed closer and closer to the lush river valley. I was getting excited. Finally we made a turn onto the street of my dreams. Quiet, big trees, lovely houses - we pulled up to the house, I turned to Jordan and said "let's buy it!". We drove two blocks to a beautiful park, ate chicken, watched the kids play and thought to ourselves that this could be our new home. Jord thought I should go by again and see if I could perhaps take a peek inside. There were a few people in front: someone coming to look, their realtor and a neighbour. I approached the crowd and was chatting about the neighbourhood - the neighbour seemed to know a lot about the state of the house, he was very interesting to talk to. The woman who lived there previously was a 49 year old woman who was a pipe fitter. The reason for the sale is the woman's daughter (who has children of her own), walked into the house and killed her mother.

Is that a legitimate deal breaker? It is for me. Irrational? Maybe.

Would any of you buy a house where a murder had recently taken place?

not just for farmers.

Almanacks were very popular books in colonial America, with people in the colonies using them for the mixture of seasonal weather forecasts, practical household hints, puzzles, and other amusements they offered.

Poor Richard's Almanack (sometimes Almanac) was a yearly almanac published by Benjamin Franklin, who adopted the pseudonym of "Poor Richard" or "Richard Saunders" for this purpose. The publication appeared continually from 1732 to 1758. It was a best seller for a pamphlet published in the American colonies; print runs reached 10,000 per year.

The Almanack contained the calendar, weather, poems, sayings and astronomical and astrological information that a typical almanac of the period would contain. Franklin also included the occasional mathematical exercise. It is chiefly remembered, however, for being a repository of Franklin's aphorisms and proverbs, many of which live on in American English. These maxims typically counsel thrift and courtesy, with a dash of cynicism.

Several of these sayings were borrowed from an earlier writer, Lord Halifax, many of whose aphorisms sprang from, "....[a] basic skepticism directed against the motives of men, manners, and the age." In 1757, Franklin made a selection of these and prefixed them to the almanac. This was later published as "The Way to Wealth", and was popular in both America and England.


I was reading through "The Way to Wealth" the other day and found it pretty interesting. I'll post some of Poor Richard's wisdom tomorrow.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

"My gut is telling me no...but my gut is also very hungry." - Gob from Arrested Development

What is intuition? I'm finding different people bring different definitions to the table when they speak of it. One of the ways I've heard it explained (which seems close to my own experience with it) is: It's when someone processes various bits of external information in a non linear fashion and then comes to a decision based upon concrete variables and facts but manifested by a strong gut feeling rather than a line of rational thoughts. I also think that when one opens themselves to being counselled by their intuition, they are inviting any whisperings of the divine to be seamlessly calculated into their equation as well.

"[intuition] is a heightened awareness of themselves and what's going on in their system. Some folks that are easy to observe with this in mind are sports people. They seem to be able to process a lot of information very fast. They spot patterns much sooner than non-experts.

They arrive where the ball is going before the ball even gets there. Or they change what they are doing in an instant for no apparent reason, and it turns out to be the right thing to have done. Or they switch tactics because of a seemingly inconsequential move on the part of their opponent. And they end up winning."

I think the sports analogy is interesting. There seems to be different kinds of intuitive reasoning. I've found relying on my own intuition to be very helpful in a lot of different areas of my life and have found myself thinking about this very process a lot lately.

p.s. did I mention we are house hunting?

Friday, 3 June 2011

Westward Ho!

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."

-from the poem "Little Gidding" by T.S. Eliot

I haven't read the entire poem. I don't think I could handle that in my life right now - but this little excerpt, I love. I find T.S. Eliot to be very difficult to understand but in my limited reading of him, every once in a while he'll offer a morsel of heaven that even a peasant like me can understand.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

this salad could change your life...forever.

mixed leaf salad with mozzarella, mint, peach and prosciutto

ingredients for one serving:
mixed leaves
1/4 - 1/2 ball of mozza
1 peach
few pieces of prosciutto
generous handful of fresh mint (torn up by hand)
lemon dressing

Try to get hold of buffalo mozzarella. Use any mixed leaves you fancy.
Dress your mixed salad leaves and torn-up mint with a lemon-olive oil dressing (2 tbsp lemon juice, 4 tbsp olive oil, salt and ground black pepper to taste)
Slice the peach, rip the mozza into small pieces and place mozza and peaches on top of the mixed leaves and mint. Lightly season. Lay a couple of slices of prsciutto over the top.

-recipe taken from "The Return of the Naked Chef" by Jamie Oliver.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

the allegory of the can opener?

Jord and I once owned a very cheap, very weak can opener. We shook our heads at how terrible of a can opener it was and vowed that the next can opener we bought would be a can opener of value, integrity and strength. As anticipated after a few months of use our humble can opener broke. With expected disappointment I went out and bought a higher end can opener the price of which was at least ten times that of the pitiful one that had failed us so miserably. With pride I showed it to Jordan "you see, sometimes in order to save money in the long run you have to spend a little extra in the short term."

can you imagine my shock when one day six months after my triumphant purchase I went to open a can of tomatoes and my prized can opener DIDN'T WORK!!! The grips only hold onto the can for brief stints leaving the job of opening any tin can for me to be a difficult and uncertain one. What happened? Did one of the kids throw it or bash it against something? Who knows? All I am left with is this:

When it comes to purchases, things, material possessions - you just never just never know...

p.s. did I mention we are house hunting right now?