Thursday, October 29, 2009

Remembering Obsidian

This morning I opened a kitchen cupboard
and tucked the bag clips
into their holder on the inside of the door.
I paused and smiled to myself.
Open cupboard,
put things away,
close cupobard.
The motions become
like a well worn groove
a path of where we've been.
Little things like opening that cupboard
- the one we call the tall cupboard -
and putting away the oven mitts, the bag clips,
getting out the broom.
The way one has to give the door that extra shove
to make it click shut.

When my parents and sister were here the summer before last,
they stayed in our home while we were away.
Afterwards my sister told me about a family she knew
who, when visiting far off relatives,
would go into their kitchen looking for something,
asking themselves,
"Now where would (someone with our last name) put that?"
And invariably they'd be drawn to the right cupboard door.
"Because any fool (with our last name) would put it there."
My sister laughed as she told me this
because she had gone into my kitchen,
wondering where I kept the tea,
and opened the right cupboard on her first try.

Sometimes I think about the drawer
just to the right of the sink,
in my childhood home.
Cradled with bits of string and bread clips
and guarded by worn out household scissors,
lay my mom's rock collection.
Big rocks.

One day she held a heavy black rock in her hands
and told me it was called "Obsidian".
I'd never heard that word before.
Haven't heard it since.
I liked how it sounded.
Sometimes still, I roll words around in my mouth
like I'm savouring a sip of wine,
just because the way they sound pleases me.
I smile when I catch myself doing that
because words
are the only thing I've ever sipped in my life.

Reminds me of my favourite quote about words by Eudora Welty:

"There comes the moment, and I saw it then, when the moon goes from flat to round. For the first time it met my eyes as a globe. The word "moon" came into my mouth as though fed to me out of a silver spoon. Held in my mouth the moon became a word. It had the roundness of a Concord grape Grandpa took off his vine and gave to me to suck out of its skin and swallow whole, in Ohio."

I opened that drawer in my mother's house
the last time I was home.
No bits of string.
No scissors.
No Obsidian.

This past summer I visited with a woman
who lost a lifetime of
strings and bread clips and scissors,
in a house fire a few years ago.
Recently people had been coming to visit her
in her brand new house, and commenting
how much she must like it.

She mentioned several of our mutual friends,
who share her decorating style,
and how she visits them and sees something
in their house
that she used to have
and how she misses it.
Then she said that she even missed the contents
of the junk drawer in her kitchen.
Wistfully she said that everyone needed a junk drawer.
Her eyes then got a far away look,
as if she was opening that drawer again
and remembering.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sharing The Journey

My blogger bud Ellie will be on Oprah tomorrow talking about her experience as a mother who drank in secret. Brave woman.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Self Serving?

In the midst of talking in an AA meeting yesterday, the question went through my head asking if I was being self serving in my sharing. The question caught me offguard. When I reflected later I realized that yes, I had been self serving. I had to ask myself for whose benefit I share at a meeting. I am grateful that I don't recoil from those kind of questions today. Grateful that my hearing is getting better. I'm not as deaf as I once was.

Blue Night Sky

This photo is for Pam. I imagine a whole crowd of angels keeping her company last night as she stayed at her Mother's.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Say What?

"Has Mommy fed you supper?"

Dearest one has a mischevious look on his face
even though I start glaring at him.
He knows them's fighting words.
I look from dearest one to the Puglies.
Between slightly clenched teeth I say,

That was about two weeks ago.
Since then dearest one has kept talking to the dogs
as if I'm their Mommy.
Not every day, God help him,
but once in a while.
Kind of like a kid who finds
what gets under someone else's skin
and then capitalizes on it,
just for fun.
Or just to hear me hiss the word "Don't".

So last night I crawl into bed.
The Pugs do, too.
They happily sprawl out on dearest one's side of the bed.
A few minutes later dearest one comes into the bedroom.
He likes the side of the bed that's right up against the wall.
To get there he has to be kind of acrobatic.
I know I could've just got out of bed
and made it easy but I bet, after all is said and done,
he's really happy I didn't.

He looks at the situation,
trying to figure out how to get into bed,
without stepping on the dogs.
I think to myself,

"Get out of the way so that your Dad can get into bed."

I start giggling.
Dearest one, still standing on the floor,
asks me what's so funny.
I tell him what I just thought.
We both shriek with laughter 'til our bellies hurt.
The Pugs look at us
and silently hightail it
to the far end of the bed.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


When someone is sharing in an AA meeting and it gets real quiet, you know the Spirit of God is moving powerfully. That stillness that comes over everyone....what a gift to be a part of such a fellowship.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Drama and Danger

"They had spikes all along their backs, were bigger than the trees, and would squish me if I went outside to try and chase them away."

What weird dreams I have some nights.
Full of drama and danger.
Even though I was in danger of being killed in my dream last night by gigantic black dinosaurs, I became very defiant and went outside anyway. I took the risk just to show the person who had led all those spiky creatures to my neck of the woods that I didn't have to listen to him. I hid behind an old barn, making obvious tracks in deep snow to get there. I sat there in snow up to my butt and wondered about those tracks, deciding he was too stupid to find me. He was smart enough to lure many huge dinosaurs to my place, but too stupid to find a woman hiding behind a barn? I woke up before I found out if I was right or not. Oh, the suspense.

So glad my waking life is nothing like my dreams.
Once upon a time they matched.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gratefully Roosting

I am so grateful tonight for the things I have learned.
And for the opportunities to practice and keep on learning.

If you would have told me 20 years ago I could choose
my attitude, my response, my outlook on life
I wouldn't have believed you
because I would've been too busy
telling you why it was ALL THEIR FAULT,
whoever they were.

Today was one of those days of grumpy people
grumping their way through the day.
I am the first person to deal with the public and others at work.
I'm grateful I didn't feel the need
to take any of the grumpiness personally.
Nor was I grumpy in return.

I'm really grateful for a sense of humour
and to not be taking myself so seriously.
It took 4 tries of emailing a form to a coworker
before I filled it in correctly.
That I could laugh about it and know
that making a mistake is not life threatening
is huge, huge progress for me.

I'm tired.
We were out of the house before 6 o'clock this morning
and gone for over 12 hours.
I am grateful for the comfy bed that I will sleep in soon.
I might even be grateful for the Pug warmers in it, too.
They are still ruling the roost.
But somehow I bet that doesn't surprise you.

PS. The blue pugs are for Pam.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Even Up My Nose

The snow is still here.
We didn't even get the lawn chairs in yet.
The vines growing on the deck are still green.
It all seems out of whack.

I've been cleaning like a mad woman.
I can now see the floor in the office.
I was watching a show on hoarders a few days ago.
I realized my office looked
a little like some of the rooms on TV.
Not as bad, really, but still.

I had planned on cleaning it
during my summer holidays.
Never happened.
Tis done now.

I feel like I am constantly
drowning in paperwork.
I have close to 75 books to take to the thrift shop.
They are less a security blanket than they used to be.

Dearest one read me a bit yesterday in a Pug book
about how Pug hair lasts a gazillion years.
Which explains why I even found some in the fridge.
It's hard to feel like I have a clean house
with Pug hair in the fridge
let alone on every surface and up my nose, too.

We are having a relaxed and lazy Sunday.
Turned down several invitations for Thanksgiving meals
this weekend.
The snow makes me want to hunker down
and hibernate.
I'm off to do that now.
I will have two Pugs joining me.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Blue Grace

This picture is for Pam. She usually posts a picture of something blue daily but spent last night caring for her mom so wasn't going to be able to post this morning. That link in the previous sentence really is a must read.

Yesterday Pam ended her post by saying look for God's grace...IT'S EVERYWHERE!! and I took that thought and held it close all day. I prayed that God would give me the eyes to see His grace everywhere.

And God did. Especially in the noon hour AA meeting I attended. Miracles abound if we just open our eyes. Or rather, have our eyes opened.

Late in the day I was able to address a situation at work that had irritated the hell out of me, with grace and humour. Got my point across without having to be a bitch about it. Who would have thunk that was possible? Yesterday the topic at the AA meeting was change. I heard incredible stories of change that are only possible by the grace of God. So often I feel like I am standing on Holy Ground at an AA meeting.

And speaking of change, they say up here to wait five minutes and the weather will change. Ha. Yesterday's snow melted and fresh snow covers the ground this morning. I think I'll have to wait longer than 5 minutes for the weather to change, don't you?

Have a grace filled day my friends.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Frozen Schmozen

So I went outside this morning to brush the snow, yes, the SNOW, off my car. I'd started my car from the house and, because I hadn't left the heater turned up high or the fan on, I first tried to open the car door to fix that. Might as well have all the help I could get to melt the snow off the windshield. I pulled on the driver's side door handle and got no response. Nada. I went around the car, sweeping off big patches of heavy snow and tried the other door handles. They were frozen shut. Every single one of them.

I swept the snow off the door frame and looked for ice. Not that I really wanted to scrape ice off the car, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to get to work. The snow was swept away and I thought, that's funny, there isn't any ice on the door. Oh well, I mused, the ice is inside the crack where I can't reach it. Tucked out of the way like a protest about it snowing, for gawd's sake, before the leaves have even hit the ground. I stood there and tried to remember how to thaw frozen doors, wished that dearest one hadn't left for work 90 minutes earlier, and then feebly kicked one of the doors to see if I could jar it loose. No luck. Stupid car. I brushed all the snow off anyway and by the time I was done, my hair, which I'd just blow dried, was wet from the big, fluffy snow flakes coming down. I might complain about snow in October, but the sight of snow flakes in the glow of the yard light is magical any time of the year.

I looked about me and thought about work. I thought about my warm bed and how wonderful it would be to go crawl back between the covers. The Puglies would happily be foot warmers. I'd just have to wait until the warmth of the sun thawed that invisible ice stuck in the cracks of the doors.

Just as I was about to go back into the house and call my boss, I wondered if maybe my car doors were locked instead. So I turned back to my car.

I made it to work on time just fine.

Friday, October 02, 2009


"Do you want me to cover your nose or your mouth?
We leave only one open so you can breathe.

Crap. I hadn't thought that far ahead. Momentarily, I panic. Please don't take away my voice. If she covers my mouth I will feel like I have no voice. If she covers my nose I might hyperventilate. Uncertain, I ask what other people have done. She tells me they usually choose to have their mouth covered. I breathe deep and tell her okay, cover my mouth then. God, this takes trust. I am truly at her mercy. I hadn't thought that far ahead, either.

And so my therapist begins. Gently she wipes my whole face down with Vaseline, making sure my eyebrows, eyelashes, and the hither and yon wiry hairs that grow above my upper lip, are covered. Neither of us wishes to turn this into an impromptu waxing session although I've always thought it might be nice to have my eyebrows done. Satisfied that every bit of skin is covered she then cuts strips of plaster. I watch as the powdery mesh piles up on her lap.

Next she dips a strip of mesh into water and starts placing it on my Vaseline caressed skin. First a strip across my forehead, then one along my jawline. One down the center of my nose. One by one she lifts the wet strips and places them on my face. Before too long I sense my expression becoming fixed. Just before she places a strip over my mouth she warns me. We grin at each other, for we both know how I love to talk. I feel my cheeks move up against the plaster as I smile and I tell her she will have to push the wet strips back in place. She works deftly, fingers smoothing out the roughness, as she places layer upoon layer of wet plaster on my face, working quickly before it sets.

She tells me she is going to do my eyes now. Oh, so that's why my eyelashes needed to be Vaselined. I had imagined a mask with eyes open and mouth free. How else can I see the world around me? How else can I know what's going to happen next? Down go my eyelids and as the wet mesh covers first one eye, and then the other, my world becomes dark.

I decide that the only thing to do is go inward, so I sit quietly. I feel the weight of the mask on my face. It does not escape me, the irony of how heavy a mask truly is. I notice how unmovable my face is becoming, my expression set. A swirl of thoughts runs through my mind as soothing Celtic music plays in the background. I sense my therapist's fingers smoothing and touching my mask. Some bits of the mask are thin and soft, her fingers could easily penetrate the shell. Others places are thick and hard already and it would take a lot for either of us to break the protective covering.

I think on these things.

My mind wanders back to my first session with Fr. Charlie. "Do you wear masks?" he asks me. "Oh, no, not me," I proudly tell him, "wearing masks is what other people do". He sat quietly then, leaving my words to hang in the air. Before too many sessions had passed we both knew I wore layers upon layers of masks. I told him that if I had my way, I'd wear sunglasses year round, because then I could let down my guard. Wearing masks took energy.

The Celtic music rises above my meandering thoughts and it reminds me of my favourite movie. I think about William Wallace and his fight for freedom. I love his passion. His determination. His fierceness. I love his freedom. My body relaxes as I let the music wash over me.

I think about what I might feel when my mask is removed.
My face will be smooth because of the vaseline.
Will I feel reborn?
Breaking through my thoughts comes the phrase,
"You have been set free."
Over and over, like a record stuck on a warp,
the phrase repeats itself,
drowning out everything else.

Slowly, it fades.

Next comes a phrase Fr. Charlie has told me countless times:
"You shall know the truth
and the truth shall set you free

I picture William Wallace
looking at me as he cries, "Freeeedommmmm."

Goosebumps rise on my arms.

Fr. Charlie and my therapist have never met.
It feels like a hop, skip and jump kind of journey,
one leading me to the other though.
And now, in this session,
the one where I am masked and then unmasked,
the two have merged, both so pivotal
in my quest
for inner freedom.

The mask dries.
I move my face,
first my lips
and then my cheeks
and lastly my eyes.
As I do so, the mask separates from my skin.
Gently my therapist pries the mask
off the last strongholds.

I blink in the daylight
and smile at the mask.
The mask that is
and isn't