Saturday, June 30, 2012


Me: (at the Pearly Gates) Knock knock! St. Peter: Who’s there? Oh, it’s you. Are you expecting to be admitted here? Me: Well, I thought I was sent here. Perhaps there is some mistake. St, Peter: (checking the records( Could you step aside. We have some questions to ask. Your conduct while on Earth has raised some concerns. Now, our records show that in June of 2012 you attended a gathering which had been assembled to view a variety of products intended for use by passionate people. Is this true? Me: Well, yes. St. Peter: And our records show that the products promised physical pleasure. According to this report, at the first half of the party the saleswoman displayed lotions, liquids and creams with appealing smells, tastes and tingles, suggesting possible applications for them. Is that correct? Me: Yes. That is correct. St. Peter: And our records also show that after the break, that same saleswoman displayed a variety of battery operated devices, mostly long and a bit round. Some were said to vibrate. Is that true? Me: Yes. That is correct. St. Peter: How, then, do you explain your presence there? Me: I was invited to go. St. Peter: Hmmmmmm. I can see that an invitation might have led to this, for someone else. In that case, it would have been perfectly understandable. But our records show, in your case, a distinct aversion to sales parties. You had often been invited to product gatherings in the past, Amway parties, TupperWare parties, jewellery parties, clothing parties, candle parties. Is that true. Me: Yes, that is true. St. Peter: And our records show that you refused these invitations. Is that true? Me: Yes, that is true. St. Peter: Which, as I say, would lead us to think that you would refuse this invitation as well, unless, of course, you had a tendency to appreciate things that might be thought of as—how shall I say it—risque. May I now point out one other confusing detail? This, clearly, was a party of a different sort. Shall we call it a tiny bit risque? Me: I suppose it could have been thought of in that way. St. Peter: Our records also show evidence that throughout your life, you had been a bit of a prude. There is plenty of evidence for this. The evidence began early in your adult development. Let’s see, you, for example, found Love Story a bit shocking when you saw it at the movie theatre. Is that true? Me: That is true. St. Peter: Once again I ask you: How do you explain your presence at this particular gathering when so many other party invitations had been refused? Me: Okay. I confess. I could not resist the temptation. You see, I was invited to this party by women of a younger generation, women born long after Love Story was released. To be honest, they might not have known I was shocked by Love story. St. Peter: Perhaps you should say more about the particular temptation that took you. Me: They said they believed it would be fun to have me there. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were right about that. St. Peter: And was it fun to have you there? Me: Actually, I can’t say for sure. It’s not the sort of thing you can ask. But I can say for sure that I had some fun. St. Peter: Fun with the products? Me: A little, perhaps. But it gave me hope also. St. Peter: Hope? How so? Me: There I was in a roomful of young women, some of them married, some of them mothers, some not yet partnered. It was a bridal shower, a bit like so many other bridal showers where women wish other women the joy of housekeeping by giving them baking pans and dishcloths. We ate a lot of good food, just like at other showers. St. Peter: But this one was different. Me: Yes, this one was different. At this one, there were good things to eat, but no baking supplies. I believe the difference was in the wishing. At this party, women were wishing the bride a life of physical pleasure. A life of physical pleasure! I thought it a marvellous thing to hope for.

Friday, June 29, 2012


I’ve been stung!!! The first sting occurred on Wednesday, early evening. I was walking up the veranda steps when—Pow!!!! Something got me in the heel, just above my sandal strap. A less truthful person would report my having said, “Oh my, that hurts.” The second sting happened about an hour later, as I walked, barefoot, (the sandal strap was bothering my swollen ankle) across that same veranda. That one hit the bottom of the unstung foot. Was it a wasp? No, It was a rose briar, attached to a clump of rose leaves. The tireless wind had plucked them from the nearby rose bush. Even a less truthful person wouldn’t credibly be able to report that I said, “Oh my, that hurts.” The third sting struck on Thursday, on the arm just above my watch strap. That one was definitely a wasp. Shamelessly, he headed off to join his house mates, who had taken up residence in the safe haven under the broad front steps. “I’ve been stung!!” I wailed at Mark. And then, to add emphasis, “I’ve been stung twice!” Mark has a proven track record in wasp warriorship. Was it only last weekend that he sprayed a line of killler foam into a wasp home in the siding behind his deck? Buoyed by my confidence in him as the potential solver of large problems, Mark rose to hero status. A less truthful person would report that he cried, “I’ll save you Mother!” That’s how bravely he acted. Striking up a pose that Superman would have envied, he pounded a foot on the veranda’s bottom stetp. The results were immediate. Out flew a colony of wasps, heading straight for Pirate the dog, the innocent by-stander. “Help Pirate,” shouted Mark. Pirate and I have been stung! Surprisingly, since Pirate—though not much for profanity-- has not been known as the silent type, didn’t say a word, he just ran in desperate circles until he was at last captured by Mark, who extracted a tormentor that had accidentally become entangled in the long hair between his eyes. When the excitement had died down, and the killer foam had been sprayed, and all that remained was the hum of the colony now trapped, suffocating in a formerly safe residence, I went inside to remove the watch from my swelling arm. Pirate followed me in and caught an airborn wasp. He chewed it into little pieces and swallowed every one. Mark went home to check the deck for wasps. Just one mor eexample to prove that each of us has our own way of responding when we’ve been stung.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Yesterday Lenora LeMay and I had a visit from the VIBE team. VIBE (Vermilion is Being Empowered) is one of the 38 mental health in schools capacity building initiatives led by Alberta Health Services Addiction and Mental Health in partnership with Alberta Education and funded by Alberta Health and Wellness. The team came to Hope House to show us what they have done with hope. Inspired by a 90-minute Telehealth seminar given by Lenora, they had designed 5 hope lessons for the Grade 5 health curriculum. Then, having attended a two-day hope workshop given by me at the Alberta College of Social Work 2012 conference, they designed 5 lessons for a high school curriculum. They brought gifts—a book of hope images designed by the kids, and the cuddliest hope-opotamus we’ve ever hugged. They came to show us their work and to ask if we had ideas of how they might add to it. They invited their funders to the celebration. All in all, it was hope work the way we like it—collaborative, creative and expansive.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Borrowed from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel It will come out all right in the end. If it isn't right, it's not the end.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


“I’ve learned that laughter is prayer; work is therapy and music and poetry are gifts from Heaven. I’ve learned that you should not do too much planning. Always leave room for chance or plain old fashioned luck. And you should constantly do, because action is more fulfilling than doing nothing.” --Michael Enright, convocation address to York University, aired on CBC Radio, The Sunday Edition, June 17, 2012: Well said, Michael. Only I would add that prayer is also prayer, except when something starts you giggling in the middle of it. Then prayer is laughter.

Friday, June 15, 2012


We thought they'd gone elsewhere, or met a dreadful fate. But here they are, doing nest renovations, repairing the damage from the recent House Finch invasion. There they hop, purching on benchbacks, startling off at an unexpected bang. The renos are done now. The sitting has started. All things being lucky, there'll be babies poking their heads over the nest edge right about the time when the veranda is buzzing with the guests Mark and Tracey have invited to their wedding. How could their timing have been better? A little bird magic!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


It’s the season for miracles. One trip outside treats you to the twitter and caw of a hundred—maybe a thousand birds. Each of these birds was once the liquid in an egg. And then, by warmth alone, a heartbeat began. Who would have the audacity to suggest that there might be no hope when life, so unaccountably resisting all odds and reason, persists, insists on beginning this way?