Friday, November 24, 2017

Cat astrophe

I little humour for today's excerpt:

She ran the water, adding an extra dollop of bubble bath.  The cat came in and sat on the edge of the tub as he often did, dabbing at the bubbles on top of the water.  He was a funny thing. 

She lay down in the tub putting her head back and letting the water flow over her forehead, her mouth, and finally her nose.  She held her breath, listening to her heart beating in her ears.  Her eyes were closed.  She lay perfectly still.  Perfectly.

Suddenly she felt the oddest sensation just above her navel. She slowly lifted her head out of the water.  The cat was licking the bubbles from her stomach. She sat up quickly, he slipped into the tub, and suddenly she had a very surprised cat leaping off of her, onto the bathroom floor and bolting out the door. 


So much for a relaxing bath.  She checked out the damage, a few scratches, and then lay back in the water trying to recapture the peace.  

It wasn’t going to happen.  Her heart was beating wildly.  

She imagined ‘himself’ to be hiding somewhere, licking his own wounds.  

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Coming clean

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

Here is my excerpt from the latest chapter. 

At 11:30 she found herself in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.  She had the crumpled up note in her pocket.  She had to use a flashlight to locate it.  It was stuck on the floor in a puddle of something disgusting that had leaked out of the fridge.  It was accompanied by a few cat crunchies, a dried raison, and an errant pink and grey pill.  Ironic she thought.  Totally ironic. 
The receptionist ushered her into the examining room where she fiddled with her phone until she heard the tap on the door.  He came in and settled himself into the chair, as he usually did, he crossed his legs, leaned back and asked her how she was.
She never quite knew how to answer the question.  Usually she said, not fine.  And then she usually smiled.  It wasn’t funny. 
Today though, she didn’t say anything.  She reached into her pocket and took out the sticky crumpled note and handed it to the doctor.
He looked at it.  He looked at her.  He gave it back to her. 
He asked her how long she had had the note.  More exactly how long she had had the thought that was written on the note. 
“Months", she said.  “Many months.  But I never actually get to it.”
“Clearly”, he said. 

They both smiled. 
 It wasn’t funny, but they both smiled.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

We women

Short excerpt today includes one of my favourite quotes:

Some days getting up, feeding yourself, and getting a swim in was as good as it got.  And some days that was enough. 

Today, though, it wasn’t.

She phoned her sister back.  She told her about the crumpled piece of paper lying under the fridge. 

They wept together. 

She told her sister she had made an appointment with the doctor, and she would take the crumpled piece of paper with her. 

She told her she had started to come off the pink and grey pills, but had halted the progress. 

Her sister said she was going to phone her everyday just for a quick check-in, and made her promise to answer the phone. 

She thought of the Nikki Giovanni quote about the women in the fields of Africa. 

We women were the ones in the fields in Africa.  We were communal even then and as we got into bigger fields, we would call to one another.  If you didn’t answer back, we went to see about you.

She knew her sister would come see about her if she didn’t answer and there was comfort in that.

She told her sister she was going to be ok.

And today?


Today she almost believed it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

To protect or to harm?

Today's excerpt includes a poem I wrote eight years ago today.  I wrote it for a student on her 12th birthday.  My protagonist finds this poem as she is organizing her poetry to publish:



Cusp 

A scorpion’s arched tail, or
An archer’s bow.
To protect or to harm
Lies in a decision
That cannot be made lightly.

One foot in either world
The past or the future
Looking forward, or Looking back?
The choice is ours to make.

Look up.
Look to the stars
They have watched humanity for millennium,
They will not forsake us now.

She stared in disbelief at these words, this poem written by her fifty-two year old self.  She had written them for a student, but now, clearly, these words of hers were a sign from her angel.

To protect or to harm. A decision that cannot be made lightly.  The choice is ours to make. They will not forsake us now. 

She closed the book, marking the page with the bookmark that had come with the journal. 

Her angel was talking to her, trying to get her attention, making her listen. 

There is still time, there is always time. 

 Isn’t that what her daughter had once said? 

“We have time.”

She walked into the kitchen, and poured the cold coffee down the drain.  Reheating it for a second time seemed silly.


She stood in front of the post-it note on the fridge and pulled the earth magnet to free the crumpled, yellow piece of paper.  It fluttered to the ground and slipped under the fridge.  

She left it there.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Dad

Excerpt from chapter 21 - the protagonist has been reading her detailed horoscope chart:

It has not been possible to have a relationship with your father.  Perhaps he disappeared when you were young.

Tears welled up in her eyes.  Her father had died when she was seventeen and he was forty-nine, and she knew she had never really gotten over it. 

Fathers and daughters are complex enough in their relationship, she knew this, but she missed him everyday. 

Her father had a quick and ugly temper, and she had been on the receiving end of it a number of times as a younger child, but that all changed when she became a teenager.  They had developed a close relationship especially after he was diagnosed, for the second time, with cancer.  

After school her younger brother and sister would be out with their mother.  Her brother would be swimming, her sister babysitting, her mother driving them to and fro, and she and her father would sit in the living room talking about real things.  Often he would pour her a small glass of sherry and they would sit across from each other in the expansive living room. In large gatherings she would be snuggled up against him, but in these more intimate moments they chose to sit where they could really see each other as they talked. 

When he was very sick, blind and disfigured, he still would come out into the kitchen to meet her friends, and say hello and vet new boyfriends.  She loved him for that.  That he would put his pride aside to still be ‘the father’ in situations were ‘the father’ needed to show up. 

Often she would arrive home from school, her grade twelve year, and her mother and older sister would be in the kitchen, distraught and weeping.  He would have refused to eat all day, saying he just wanted to die.

She would gather the tray with the stewed prunes, and boiled egg, and walk into his bedroom.  He would be lying in the bed, on the left side, he had shared with her mother for thirty years.  He would be listening to the radio, eyes closed.

She would call his name softly.  “Dad?  Dad, you have to eat something.” 

And he would.  For her, he would eat. 

She would sit with him while he ate, and they would listen to the radio together.  They would joke about all the things he had won in radio contests.  Over the years she would carry this torch, entering and winning numerous items from local radio stations. 

Her mother had promised him he would die at home.  Ultimately, it was not a promise she could keep.  He had fallen one day and she couldn’t get him up.  He was moved to the veteran’s hospital.  Even there he stayed busy, hooking a pillow and making a pink elephant, both items she still had. 

She would read him the paper, sitting on the end of his bed.  She realized that she didn’t remember the last time she saw him.  Her mother wouldn’t let her or her younger brother and sister see him in the last weeks.  To this day it is something she regrets.  Not being able to say good-bye.
  
She remember once he told her and her mother that his Dad had been in to visit him.  His father had died twenty years before, so they all knew that he was close to crossing the veil and his father was there to guide him. 

And then, in the early morning hours of the first day of September, her mother had come downstairs to her room and told her he was gone.  She hadn’t known about “White Rabbit” then, but if she had it would not have made any difference. 

She wept and railed against a God that would do this to him, her siblings, her mother, to her.  She couldn’t comprehend what kind of God would take a young father of six children.  And then she put on her game face and went upstairs to support her mother through the wake, the funeral, the paperwork.

Her father’s death caused her to leave the church that she and her father had so loved.  She didn’t return to the church for twenty-three years, and when she did, it was to find him, not God, again.  

In her forties she was missing him so desperately that she legally added his surname as her middle name. 

By now the horoscope reading was forgotten.  Too many things in it just weren’t her.  She didn’t like change, she wasn’t adventurous, she wasn’t a braggart, she wasn’t artistic, she didn’t care for material things, she didn’t demand aesthetic surroundings.

But she did have a father who had left her far too early and it was a relationship that she could never have, at least not in this lifetime.

She thought, as she often did, how different her life might have been if he had lived.  Would she have dated the men she did?  Would she have married the man she did?  Would she continue to share her struggles with her father?  What advice would he have given her? 

He who had his own struggles with post traumatic stress disorder, although it wasn’t named that then. Shell shock.  That’s what her mother called it.

She imagined meeting him across the veil.  How disappointed would he be in her choices? 

Very disappointed in that to-do list for certain.

And her life?  This gift she had been given to age far beyond the age he had been graced with in this incarnation? Why wasn’t she valuing that for his sake, if not for any other reason. 

Grace. 

Living, with all of life’s struggles, was living in Grace. 

So, she had Grace.  She had her Faith.  All she needed now was Hope.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Yopping update - 21


Dobar dan!  (This means good day in Croatian).

I have had three lessons so far and have used it a bit when skyping with my daughter.  Not an easy language but I have a few words I am comfortable with now.

This week has been all about my two wips - both shawls.

I have spent most of the week on my Dying of the Light.  If you knew the week I have had it seems most appropriate.







And I took my On the Spice Market to knit group on Thursday because I was in the middle of german short rows with Dying of the Light, and I knew that wouldn't end well in a room full of chatter and laughter.





I have been editing my novel at least one chapter a day and at this point I only have eight chapters left to go.  Then I will be sending it out to beta readers. 

I did scour the city for my favourite knitting magazine - Simply Knitting, out of the UK, and third store lucky I now have a sweater I want to add to my queue, and of course another Alan Dart masterpiece.

I was given 300 gms of sportweight yarn on Thursday.  One of the knit group regulars is moving and she brought presents for all of us from her stash.  I am thinking a sweater, or a shawl.  There are 100 grms each of three different shades of blue.  Decisions decisions.

Also last week my friend (Croatian teacher) gave me two lots of sweater quantity yarn - one in shades of green, and another a rainbow boucle.  She too was cleaning out her stash cupboard.

I love getting surprise yarn.

The Healthy Knitter is starting her Project Peace KAL on December 1st and I think I have just the yarn for that - left over from my Iona blanket.  I did this last year with a number of friends and then we all got together on the solstice, December 21, to finish our project and to eat and be in peaceful company.  I even wrote a parody on Twas the Night before Christmas to honour last year's event.

You have probably noticed still no photo of my test socks, but I have heard the pattern is being released on the 24th of November so stay tuned.  They will be revealed next week!

Have a great week everyone.  To follow other intrepid yoppers head here.

zbogom!  (Croatian for goodbye)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The turning point

Excerpt Chapter Twenty-One - Nine days and counting

She put a linen table cloth on the table and put out the good silverware and good china.  She lit one of her new candles.  She made some rice and chicken, and a Greek salad. 

She put on some soft music and poured herself a glass of wine. 

She remembered something her daughter had once told her.  Her daughter had just come home from having her nails done, and taking herself out to dinner and a movie.  When questioned about being alone, her daughter had said. “I am an awesome date, I take myself out, and I am an awesome date.”

So there she sat: wine, candles, good china, and good food.  She set a second place at the table.  The cat jumped up onto an empty chair. 

She looked out over the city – the lights sparkling in the distance, the waxing moon shining in the window. 

If this was it, would it be enough? 

“Yes”, she whispered softly. 

“Yes, but it doesn’t have to be enough.” 

There is  more. 

You are worthy to have more.  

Ask the question?

“What ails thee?”

Ask it again, to those close to you.

“What ails thee?”

Ask.

“Where does it hurt? “

“Everywhere”, she would answer.

But that wasn’t true.  It didn’t hurt everywhere and it didn’t hurt all the time. 

Why had she forgotten that?

She decided that tomorrow she would leave things as they were – she wouldn’t decrease her little pink and grey (grey and pink) pills any further.  She would just let this past week settle.  There was a lot to think about, and she needed some time.

But for tonight?  Tonight she would just be company for herself.  She picked up her latest knitting project and began the lace section. 

And, yes, she put in a lifeline before she started.


“Better safe than sorry”, she whispered, 

"Better.  Safe." 

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Fisher King

Excerpt from chapter 20 - two-thirds of the editing done.

She went to her bookshelf and found her copy of Parzival and settled on the couch to read.  She noticed all the writing she had done in the margins and her eyes fell on five words she had written in purple ink. 

“How can a question heal?”

As she leafed through her margin notations she again came to those same five words:

“How can a question heal?”

 Only this time there were some other thoughts jotted down:  

     The right question opens up the listener to new possibility
     Empathetic inquiry
     A beginning, an invitation
     A good question is one that hasn’t been asked before

Now she was getting excited.  It was as if this whole month had been leading her here.  There was something about the asking of questions, and also about the not asking of questions.  Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, kind of thing.  If you ask a question your destiny will unfold in one direction.  If you don’t ask a question your destiny will still unfold, but in another direction. 

What was the question?

Who was being asked?

Who was asking?

What was the answer?

She scanned the book, searching for the passage about the king and his wound.  She found it:

“We fell on our knees in prayer before the Grail.  All at once we saw written upon it that a knight should come, and if from him a question came, our sorrow would be ended, but if anyone should prompt him in any way to the question, his question would not help, but the wound would remain as before.  If he does not ask the first night, the power of his question will vanish.  But if at the right time his question is asked, then the king shall be healed. “

So there was a time frame.  And a rule - no prompting.  Her angels were guiding her, not prompting her, to ask the question. Was it already too late?

This month, this day, had lead her to something.  Had she been on a grail quest all along?  And by all along she didn’t just mean this month, but these sixty years?

Finding this book, with these notes, was a treasure.  It had been there on the bookshelf all these years.  Her angels had reminded her earlier this morning.  There must be an answer in this book. 

She opened the book to the first page and began to read. 
She read all through the night – she, and Parzival, and the notes from her younger self, her forty-four year old self. 


On this cold November night she found herself in good company.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Don't ever let go of the thread

The Way It Is by William Stafford

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread
.
"Don’t ever let go of the thread. "
Her eyes welled with tears.
How had she forgotten this? 
“While you hold it you can’t get lost.”
You. Can’t. Get. Lost.
She was weeping openly now, but again felt like something huge had shifted.
She picked up her knitting.  The cat curled up beside her sensing this was not the time to yowl for food.
She slipped the right needle into the left and brought the yarn forward. 
Knit one front and back, knit to end of row. 
Knit to end of row.  And then?
Then transfer the needle to the other hand and begin again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The bear went over the mountain

Excerpt from Chapter Seventeen.

The rain had picked up again, and she was walking into the icy drops.  She put her head down, her hood up and started.  She had her hands in her pockets because of the cold and berated herself for not wearing gloves.  Her husband had always cautioned her about walking with her hand in her pockets.  

“If you fall, there is nothing to stop you”. 

If she fell.  When she fell.

She took her hands out of her pocket to quiet his voice inside her head.  The hood took away her peripheral vision so at street crossings she had to look up and out from side to side to make sure it was safe to cross.  Once across her head was down as she powered up the hill.

Her breath was deepening as she got half way up, and yes, she was sweating.  A rivulet of sweat ran down her temple and into her eye.  It stung.  She raised her face to the rain, and with her cold hand wiped the salt away. 

She was nearing the top, and the last block was always the hardest because the pitch of the hill steepened dramatically just before the crest.

Steepened dramatically just before the crest. 

Things are always darkest before the dawn.

The eye of the needle. 

She reached the top.  Her heart was pounding.  At the bus-stop she stopped to take her pulse.  She didn’t have a watch with a second hand on her, but her heart was beating fast and strong and resolute. 

She circled the transit pole, and started the journey down.  “The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain and what do you think he saw?”  “He saw another mountain, he saw another mountain, he saw another mountain. And what do you think he did? He climbed another mountain….”

It was going round and round in her brain.  An ear-worm from grade, what?  Two?  It seemed appropriate for today for indeed when she got within a block of her house there was another mountain. 

There would always be another mountain.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

A fairytale

This is an excerpt from a chapter in which the protagonist writes a fairy tale based on a tarot reading she had done.  By far this is the hardest chapter I have worked with this month.  But I did it (and I also marked 23 grade seven books )- so now I can definitely pick up my knitting and turn on Netflix!

Three of Pentacles

 He then called upon the butterflies.  These creatures came from a magical mountainous land and were accompanied by three fairy spirits.  These were the spirits of faith, hope and charity. They fluttered into the forest, around the unicorns, towards the shore.

Five of Wands

Raphael turned his attention towards the entrapped carousel of unicorns.   He called upon the elements of Earth and Air, Water and Fire.  The four elements were powerful, but not quite powerful enough to free the unicorns, so he brought down from the heavens the fifth element. 

This was the element of ether, or quintessence.  It was neither hot, nor cold, wet nor dry.  Some said the fifth element was the spirit of humanity.  Whatever it was, and however it was described, it came from the archangels and its origin was the spiritual realm. 

This element of humanity spread out from the carousel and touching the mermaid, her great fish tail was transformed into human legs.  She stepped onto the earth for the first time, leaving behind her secret material things.  She started into the woods, past the carousel and in the distance she saw the tower, the queen, and the prince.

Seven of Pentacles

She found herself before the great life tree, Yggdrasil, and hanging on the tree were seven crystal orbs and in each orb was her own reflection.  In the great trunk of this world tree was the face of an ancient one.  The face of the wisdom of the ages.  The wisdom of the first one.  The primordial one. 


She saw the seven parts of herself in those orbs:  the lover, the mother, the mermaid, the daughter, the seeker, the forgiven, the clairvoyant.  And all of them together were her – a child of God. 



Sunday, November 12, 2017

Yopping numero vingt


Hooray I have a finished object to show you except I can't until Knitterarium gives me the okay!

Still - a pair of finished socks.

I have been working on my Spice shawl and I am so happy with how it is coming together.




Remember my Year of Projects list?  It included editing my novel.  Well I have chosen to work on it everyday in November as part of the Nanowrimo challenge.

I have edited fourteen chapters already which is almost half way through.  I have added about 2800 more words and I am tightening up some of the plot pieces as well as fixing grammar (why do I use the word 'that' soooooo much?) and spelling and typos.    I am feeling very good about my progress and I have been posting excerpts daily on my blog (well, except for one day when I forgot).

To be fair I have been teaching every morning since October 10, and this morning was the last morning of the 6:30 alarm for a while.

I am looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, and getting to some errands I have been putting off the last month.

Yesterday after teaching I went to the cenotaph for the Remembrance Day ceremony and then to a funeral for a friend's father.

Last night was my last night of school prep, but mostly I just sat and knit and watched Netflix.

Today I have no prep to do but, oh my, do the floors ever need my attention.

But after that I am knitting!

To follow other yoppers visit the link to their posts here.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saint Martin

A wonderful man died last Wednesday night.  The father of a dear friend. 

Yesterday my husband and I went out to the wake.  I have never been to a wake.  I was a little nervous, but honoured to be invited all the same. 

When we arrived it was a glorious autumn day.  The sun was shining, the fall leaves scattered under our feet. 

As I entered the room where he lay I was struck by the beauty and serenity of his face.  The room was lit with candles, chairs had been placed around where he lay, and he was covered in a beautiful pale yellow cloth, his hands enfolded around a pale pink blossom.

His wife and I sat together, in that  room, with that wonderful man.  I swear I could see him move - as if he were still breathing and at any moment he would open his eyes and they would twinkle, and he would smile. 

At our school he would dress as Saint Nicholas, once a year, with his wife playing the part of his naughty page  Peter, and they would enter each classroom with cookies and oranges.  She would play tricks on the children and he would pronounce naughty and nice deeds from the golden book. 

He also played King Balthazar in the school's Three Kings Play - about the magi visiting the newborn baby Jesus.  King Balthazar was the older, wiser king who brought the frankencense.

To me he will always be Saint Nicholas and King Balthazar.  He was a great man.  A saint and a king. 

Later in the day some other friends joined us in the room, and one played the lyre and we sang Martinmas songs for him. 

Then his daughter brought some music she wanted her friends to learned for the funeral and we practiced our harmonies and I am certain he approved of our efforts. 

I have just returned home from his funeral.  There was some laughter, and there was music and I know he is at peace leaving us all the better for having known him. 

The next days and weeks and months and years will not be easy for his wife and children and grandchildren - but I know that these past three days were so peaceful and ensouled and those words, and songs, and companionship will carry them through the difficult days ahead. 

Rest in Peace, Dear Martin.  Rest in Peace. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fresh Faces

Chapter 12 excerpt:

She believed in opposing forces.  
She remembered when she was teaching about the Hebrew people she had come across a belief that there are four kinds of people:  

people who are ignorant and kind, 

people who are ignorant and unkind, 

people who are clever and kind, and 

people who are clever and unkind.  

She had asked a room full of nine year olds why the Hebrew God would have made those four kinds of people.  One wise little boy said that you wouldn’t appreciate kind people as much without the unkind people to compare them to. 

Maybe the world needed those fresh faced people to give the cynical old people something to remember about hope. Maybe that is why she loved teaching those students today.  Maybe it was like looking at a picture of her younger self?

And was that younger self, that dreamer, that optimist, that fresh faced student, was she still in there somewhere?


She thought so.  She believed the answer was yes.  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Collage

Chapter 11 excerpt:

Now she had to think about her dreams. 
She wished to see herself as others saw her.  That is what she wanted.  To see herself as those three little girls saw her.  Or her students. Or her family.
She leafed through the magazines and cut out a picture of a woman diving into a swimming pool.  She then found a picture of a gray haired woman cuddling a baby.  In another magazine she found a picture of an old woman’s wrinkled hands with a rosary wrapped around them.  She cut out a picture of toll-house cookies.  She kept going.
After sometime she realized it was dark and it had stopped raining.  The house was quiet.  She felt quiet. 
She looked at the stack of pictures in front of her and all the bits and pieces of paper on the floor. She gathered up the scraps placing them in the fireplace.  She turned on a few lights, fed the cat and put the kettle on to boil. 
She dug around in her emergency cupboard and found a slightly used beeswax candle. 
She headed back into her study and found some Bristol board and a glue stick. 
She took her tea, and went back to the living room.  She lit the candle, and started to arranged the pictures in the shape of a human form.  Her form. 
She placed and pasted and pondered.  She sipped her tea and adjusted the placement of the last picture.  It was a dandelion puff.  The picture was about four inches square. 
She looked at the puff and noticed the individual seed pods within the puff.  She placed the picture where her heart would be.  That seemed appropriate. 
The collage was completed.  So was her tea.  
She took the collage and taped it to the mantel above the fire-place.  The mantel was directly across from where she sat on the couch. 
There she was – staring at a collage of herself – teacher, mother, daughter, wife, singer, swimmer, knitter, grand-mother, cruciverbalist, cat owner, friend, sister, student, dandelion.
Why a dandelion?  A weed.  A gardener’s nemesis.  A haven for bees.
She would have to sleep on it.  Maybe if she went to sleep visualizing this collage something would come to her in the morning. 
She headed to bed, forgoing the hot water bottle.  She purposefully didn’t turn on the radio. 

She pictured the collage:  A mother and daughter.  A poem.  A bottle of pills.  A musical note. A Dear Abby column.  An advertisement for the play  – Calendar Girls. (that wasn’t as odd as one might think – she did love to sunbathe on her deck, sans her clothes, in the summer). The puff did seem out of place, though. Why had she chosen that, and why place it where she did? 
Could she blow it all away?  Could she blow away parts of herself, and hope they take root somewhere else?
Could she?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The human and the divine

Okay, technically I am procrastinating because I have to teach tomorrow morning - but hey this excerpt is about teaching so that counts, right?  


She pulled down a book on ancient civilizations and flipped through settling on the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu.  She had loved teaching that story to her students.  There was something about the love those two men shared – even beyond death – that spoke to her.  

Enkidu had been raised by the animals, and was more animal that human.  Gilgamesh was a king.  Their friendship had arisen after they had fought for supremacy.  They had gone through life together having many adventures, and when Enkidu died, Gilgamesh was shattered.  Despondent, he had searched for immortality, but at every turn his  humanness had impeded his progress.  He finally realized that it is their friendship that is immortal, and that they will re-unite in the after life.  That realization does bring him some peace, and he becomes a kinder, gentler king because of his relationship with Enkidu.

She leaned her head back, rubbing her eyes, and thought about what the moral of the story was.

“Our humanness impedes our ability to be divine.” 

Is that because the divine is supposed to be just out of our reach?  Is it because we are supposed to learn in this human form  things we cannot learn in the spiritual word so that when we cross over we will understand the divine? Was Enkidu closer to the divine when he was more animal than human?  When he was one with nature? Was Gilgamesh closer to the divine once he lost his best friend?


It was just all too confusing. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Her (my) love of Yoga

Here is my latest excerpt from chapter eight.  

She thought back to her first introduction to yoga.  It was in high school and it was all about the lotus position, head stands, and for the first time she had found something she was good at in PE classes.  

She sucked at team sports, but she was flexible and excelled at yoga.
She could put both her legs over her shoulders and balance, even walk, on her hands. 
Good party trick.

She continued with her yoga practice as a young woman living in a small northern town, and would go to yoga retreats now and again as she was raising her children. 

For a time she even explored the Hindu religion and went to Satsang on Sundays.  That had been during her atheist phase, when she was looking for something to fill the hole that leaving the church had created in her.  She became a vegetarian and would sit quietly in the mornings and meditate and practice pranayama. 

It hadn’t last long.

Well, the vegetarianism had last sixteen years, but the meditation was never her thing.

She had reconnected with yoga, religiously, about eight years ago – and now it was a weekly or bi-weekly practice.  She had participated in three thirty day challenges.  Ironic, no? Three?  Thirty days?

She sometimes practiced at home, but wasn’t disciplined enough so preferred being in a class with a teacher guiding. 

Her mother had taught yoga for a time – and once they were going to go to a yoga class together.  It wasn’t to be, as the class was cancelled that day because it was a statutory holiday.  She regretted that she had never practiced beside her mother.  She would have liked that. 

She had practiced beside her husband, her son, her daughter and her sister.  She had practiced with different friends over the years.  But her mother?  No.  Not even once.

She liked all the teachers she had ever had. They were all different – the young, enthusiastic gay man with eye-liner and nail polish who would sing to them during shavasana, the incredibly handsome owner of the yoga studio who always brought a deeply spiritual meaning to each class, the hippie mom, who taught the kundalini classes, all of them. 

She had never met a yoga instructor she didn’t like.  They all had something to teach her. 

Of course she had her favourites, and followed some of them around like a groupie, looking on-line for where they would be teaching next.  But if they were not to be found she would always be satisfied with the person at the front of the room. 

She had done hot yoga (and loved it) – where she finally could get a sweat going.  She had done Yin classes, tantra classes, flow classes and restorative classes.  She had gone to beginner classes and power classes.  She liked them all.  She had toyed with the idea of taking the teacher training to become an instructor herself, but she pulled back.

She always ended up teaching something she was involved with.  She wanted to be recognized, acknowledged.  She wanted people to appreciate her. 

She had finally realized in her fifties that she didn’t have to always be the teacher.  It was okay to just be a student.

She knew she was ‘good’ at yoga.  She also knew that striving to be ‘good’ had caused her injuries now and then.
 
She liked her current teacher because she reminded them while they were practicing to check their egos and pay attention to themselves when they were being too proud as they looked around the room.


Something she was working on for sure. 

Imagine.  Her?  Being too proud.  

Ironic. No?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Yopping number 19 -Spicy!


It has been a busy week what with teaching and knitting and I am so very happy with my On the Spice Market shawl.  I wasn't sure about the red I had chosen and I started a few rows with a different red, but I ripped it back and I am delighted with the result. 


I love the wollmeise blend I am using for the main (natural) colour.  It is sooooo soft to knit with.  I know I am going to love this shawl and I already have plans for a second using the rainbow colours I bought two weeks ago from Sweet Georgia. 

I have finished the colour course, but of course now it is about practising and trying different combinations, but I feel a little more confident at the point.

Here is an update picture of my Dying of the Light shawl.  It isn't getting the attention it deserves because of the Spice Market, but I will get back to it as soon as my test knit socks are done.



And, speaking of test knit socks - one is finished and the leg pattern of the second is almost done.  I am making fraternal socks and I can show you this picture which shows you the colour without giving away any of the design secrets.


I have been working on my novel every day since Wednesday as part of the Nanowrimo challenge.  I won't add another 50,000 words to it, but I have edited five chapters and added about 1500 words so far.  I have been posting excerpts to this blog so in essence I am also participating in NaBloPoMo. 

Whew! 

I have finished teaching the grade seven class and all I have left is marking, and next week I have five lectures to give to student teachers on teaching history to grade eight students. 

It feels good to be in the classroom again.  I enjoy teaching the adults, but my heart is really with those rascally teenagers in grades six, seven and eight!

I just got home from the pool, and now I need to tackle the next chapter of my novel.  I really appreciate my readers and I love comments and try to answer them all.

Happy crafting and blogging (and reading)  to all.   

To follow other yoppers please check out their progress here.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Things real or imaginary

I have been home with a headache all day and the pills and sleeping are not helping.   I did get my marking done anyways on the hope that I will feel better tomorrow and will have the day off. 

I edited another two chapters, and I am feeling good about the progress.  

Here is a short piece about my heroine's sighting of a humpback whale:

The drizzle had lifted and the waves were lapping against the seawall.  Not too many joggers or power walkers today – she sipped her soup and looked out to the sea.

The sea that was her comfort, and her solace.  And maybe, soon, it would be something else entirely. 

Or maybe not.

Something caught her eye.  She turned and saw the huge tail fluke of a whale break the surface. 

She gasped. 

“Whale”, she said to no-one in particular and no-one heard her. 

She watched as the huge fluke slapped the gray water and then disappear.  She looked around at the other diners, the waiter, but no-one else seemed to have noticed. 

Had she imagined it?  Was it calling her home?  She day-dreamed for a few minutes about following the great leviathan into that deep dark ocean.  Into the abyss.  

Now I am heading for a hot bath - here's hoping that will do the trick. 


Friday, November 3, 2017

I just wanted to say


Day three of the editing process.  This is not easy.  Not easy at all, but I am getting more comfortable with the flow of writing everyday so I can thank Nanowrimo for that.

Here is today's excerpt:



She opened the journal and smoothed the white paper with her hand.  Starting a new journal was always a momentous occasion.  She didn't want to write a to-do list.  Too mundane.

Instead she thought back to a writing exercise she had heard about once upon a time. 

Step One:  Set a timer for ten minutes. 

She at least knew how to do that on her smart phone.  Done.

Step Two:  Start writing beginning with the words “I also wanted to say....”

She picked up the pen, pressed start on the phone, took a deep breath and began:

I also wanted to say that I am sorry.  I am sorry for the hurt I have caused you and for the times I wasn't there for you because I was trying to be there for myself.  You have criticized me for being afraid of confrontation and I am.  I am afraid.  I am afraid people will leave me.  I am afraid people I love will die.  I am afraid of what will happen to those I leave behind. I am not afraid of what will happen when I die.  I believe it will be more than nothing.  I believe it will be a great adventure.  And if I am wrong, if there is nothing, it won't matter a whit.

I also wanted to say that the stupid to-do list haunts me.  I have good intentions.  I plan to do that one thing I put on the list every month, and yet every month I fail to get it done. 
It.  That. 

I also wanted to say that I hate having to take the pink and grey (grey and pink) pills, but in the past I was not strong enough, smart enough, brave enough to stop.  It all goes back to the to-do list and maybe if I succeed in stopping (maybe I will just take the grey side, or just the pink side) then the to-do list will be done once and for all. 

Maybe the pill is like the cake in Alice and Wonderland.  One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small.  So taking both pills should make you, what?  Average?  Medium?   I also wanted to tell all of them (the infamous them) that they shouldn't judge me for taking my grey and pink pills.  We all have our ways of coping.  Or not. 

She looked at the timer.  Eight minutes.  God, what was she going to say for two more minutes.   Another breath and she started again.


I also wanted to say that I am doing my best.  This is day four and despite the fucking migraine I am doing my best.  My.  Best.  
Tomorrow will be a new day.  
I will be hung over from the migraine meds, but it will be better.  
Even though it is Wednesday and even though Wednesday's child is full of woe, it will be ok.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

All Soul's Day

So far so good.  Day two and I am still editing my novel and blogging.

Before I share a small excerpt from chapter two of my novel, which is about All Soul's Day I have to tell you about a delightful moment in Grade Seven this morning.

One of the students is a boy from Korea.  He came up to me this morning before class and asked me if I knew the song 'Moon River'.

Well of course I did!  I remember the Andy Williams show and his rendition of the song, and I told him so.

"I can play it on the ukelele,"  he announced.

"Really?" I asked, "Do you have your ukelele here?"

Well, he did and at recess time he was at my desk, music book and ukelele in hand.

I figured he would strum the chords, but no, he picked out the melody and I began singing along.

It was so lovely.

Then he turned to another page and started to play a lullaby.

I recognized it as 'Edelweiss' from The Sound of Music and so I sang along to that and told him it came from the movie.

"Oh," he says, "I have another song I can play from The Sound of Music," and he turns the page and starts playing Doe a Deer a female deer.... so of course I sang along.

That's it.  Five minutes of pure delight with a ukelele, a student and a teacher.

He smiled broadly as he left my desk, and headed out for recess.

That moment has made me feel good all day. 

Thirteen year olds - they can surprise you!



and now for the excerpt in an entirely different mood:

Lost. 

That is such a stupid euphemism for death.  It reminded her of that line of Lady Bracknell’s from The Importance of Being Earnest. 

 ‘To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.’

She still could hear the high-pitched, proper English accented voice of a grade eight student uttering that line in a school play a few years before.  It was hilarious at the time, especially when one knew the reticence of the student playing that part.

But she hadn’t ‘lost’ her parents.  She hadn’t been careless.  One had been taken by cancer, the other through illness.  She hadn’t ‘lost’ her aunt.  Alzheimer’s had stolen her away.  Her actual death was merely a date on the calendar.  She had been ‘lost’ for some time. 


People are not going to ‘lose’ her, because perhaps they never really 'had’ her to begin with. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Novel November

I am going to be blogging everyday this month.  Mostly I am doing this because I am using November and the Nanowrimo challenge to edit the novel I wrote two years ago.

It has been sitting on the shelf since last spring when I was unceremoniously kicked out of my writing group.

It was mean.  And I would be lying if I said it didn't hurt because it did.  With the help of my sister I worked through it, but then the story sat gathering dust while I dealt with more pressing issues, like my mental health.

So here it is November, and here I am making a deal with myself to write and edit a chapter a day.

I don't think I will be adding 50,000 words (which is how many words Nanowrimo is challenging me to write)  to the novel but I have some fresh ideas for opening it up a bit and I am excited about that.

So I taught this morning, then I went out for a great sushi lunch with my dh.  Dh stands for dear husband and not designated hitter, although I am waiting for the seventh game of the World Series to start.

I raked a ton of leaves, I prepped for tomorrow's teaching class and I worked on chapter one of my novel.

So now I am settling in to knit and watch baseball!

But before I go, here is a small excerpt of chapter one:

A new month.  A new day of a new month. 
That is auspicious.  Auspicious is a favourite word of a Buddhist friend of hers.  She liked the way the word rolled off her tongue.  She liked imagining what the word meant and mostly she didn’t care – it was just one of those cool sounding words. 
She gathered her shopping bags and headed out.  As she drove the familiar streets she took account of all the smashed pumpkins lying on the road.  Kids and roman candles – meaningless and harmless destruction.  She imagined them marauding the streets after dark – stealing the extinguished pumpkins from porches.  She imagined it must make them feel powerful, and maybe, afterwards, a little silly. 

Better pumpkins than cats, she thought to herself.  Whether she had left or not she had made sure the cat was in and safe for the night.  She had made sure he was safe. 

Ok, first pitch is coming up.

It is fun to watch - I don't care who wins I am just enjoying the game.

Go, Dodgers, Go!

Go, Astros, Go!