Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Years Eve Ramblings

Can't believe it's New Year's Eve... Angeni is still recovering from pneumonia, although a second trip to our own doctor provided her with the medicine she needs this time... I've got laryingitis brewing, which gives Brian fodder for all kinds of jokes... Shamanic Mime school anyone?

What a year... Saddam has been executed, James Brown passes from pneumonia, the Kyoto accord is butchered by Harper - I'm surprised he's lasted this long, frankly... The war in Iraq is a rerun of Viet Nam... More aboriginal communities are without potable drinking water (always under "study"). Polar bears near extinction. This is enough of the bad stuff... I'll mull over the good stuff and figure out what is good in the world. Help me out here... Pooky made it through Christmas and New Years - not a huge thing for the big world, but helpful in my world. I'll come up with more good stuff...

Normally I'm fairly aware of musical gossip, but when looking up some information on a favourite singer, Dusty Springfield, I was saddened to learn she died (on my birthday) in 1999 of breast cancer. I'm surprised I didn't hear that either through the news or the spirit net. Wow. She was only 59 years old.

I don't make New Years resolutions - that's a recipe for disaster. I like to focus on the good things I've done in the past year, and brain storm how to accelerate the accomplishments, if I can... One area is cooking. I'm getting more stamina for, and interest in, home cooking for the family. I always baked and experimented, but when Angeni came along, her tolerance factors for adult fare really diminished what I cooked. Eating out was also a temporary lure... Not healthy stuff. Then, because of the Food Network, I got some interest in native cooking, and pulled together all my original notebooks from when I studied midewiwin in the 1980's, various grandmother and mother's recipes and began in intensive comparison of cooking from the 1920's through the 1960's and how that compared/contrasted to native cooking. On my back burner is a book on native recipes that enhance healing, through what we call the "Ancestors Diet". That is something I feel passionate about completing in the new year, if I can.

Must go buy some toothbrushes, this New Year's Eve - long story. Blessed New Year to all...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas once and again...

We got through our Christmas almost unscathed... the one thing Angeni didn't bargain for was the gift of pneumonia, but there you have it. It meant a trip to the hospital early on Boxing Day. Mind you, that was AFTER a 7 AM jaunt into Zellers in Hanover to get her much-desired game boy. She pooled her Christmas money and earnings to have this, which was successful for her.

Anyway, despite my loathing of Boxing Day materialistic scavenging, we found ourselves back in Hanover, prescription in hand, needing to fight the crowds for the luxury of dealing with the pharmacist. I am grateful there was a pharmacy open. We did find a couple of small things to buy on sale, specifically laundry soap for sensitive skin - that was enough. Two trips to Hanover and one trip to Durham later, we were home before noon.

The new Game Boy was small comfort because being sick, Angeni couldn't visit her godmother in Toronto (originally scheduled from today until Friday). Although Angeni is acclimating well to this new antibiotic, there could always be a reaction and not the thing to saddle Kaaren with... so sadly she has to wait for another school break. Kaaren has enough to handle right now with Kathleen's back being on the outs.

We're all tired. Today we're seeing clients and it is back in the saddle for a couple of days. From there the phone is off the hook and we are doing nothing until after January 2nd. Angeni is home until the 8th and needs our time and attention, and we need to just crash a bit.

My blessings to everyone for a safe and wonderful New Year 2007. I'll post some things to watch out for (in a good way!) in my next posting.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Wrestling in Varney

So what ever happened to Saturday afternoon wrestling? I'm forced to watch Food Network. Right - wrasslin' with clams on Ricardo's show.

I made the party food, wrapped the gifts, and sent Brian and Angeni off to visit his family... I am home with my dogs, cats, chickens, equines and various spooks, having a much more reasonable day. There are still cookies and mincemeat to bake but I can flow with my afternoon... laundry has happened and dishes are caught up, so all is well. No in-laws for me this year... With a few hours to myself I will wrap Brian's presents allowing me to put all that stuff away. Last year he and I were wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve. We're ahead of schedule this year.

We are having a collective family nap, momentarily... once the laundry is transferred. I can dream about wrestling shows of the past.... ZZZZZZZ

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Ponderings

It's Friday night... I'm not out dancing or yucking it up at a club... I'm at home cooking for a family gathering tomorrow... I'm cooking things one usually doesn't bring to a "Christmas" dinner, but I'm just the obedient guest... Could be the steam from the dryer, the boiling pasta, the dishwasher or my brain overloading, but a few thoughts have surfaced...
  1. Why does my elderly dog go out of her way to pee on the hardwood floor over all the other (less easy to damage) surfaces? Does hardwood make her think she's peeing on some tree somewhere? Memories?
  2. Why is my other dog Max suddenly afraid of a 2-foot-tall plush penguin? This is after a week of it sitting there... is it possessed or something?
  3. Why is it so hard to get kids in the shower or bath, and once you battle them in there, you can't get them to come out?
  4. Why do I care about the size of the veggies I've diced for pasta salad? Is it a contest?
It's official - I have Holiday-Stupidity-Stress. I've been working for years on trying to avoid burnout from people-pleasing. Ministers are supposed to keep people happy, but it is at the expense of my own sanity at times. So, I quit. No more cooking tonight. I'll measure the carrots tomorrow. Maybe... probably... might not even go to the damn function, but Brian will... okay, enough.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Yes, I celebrate Christmas... I get that question a lot. I was raised in a Presbyterian Church, then transferred to the Spiritualist Church (where I became a licensed ordained minister), and have since transferred to the new entity - Wolfe Island Aboriginal Interfaith. A sister-in-law felt I couldn't be a "real" minister because we didn't have a building. Hmmm. A church to me, is the body of people of like-minded belief, rather than a fancy building to celebrate those beliefs. It wouldn't matter if we did have a building, that sister-in-law doesn't believe anyone outside the Baptist tradition is legitimate anyway. So racism exists within our own family.

Being now an interfaith minister, who specializes in native traditions, I get to participate in lots of mind-expanding experiences, and not just Christian ones... I have Baha'i friends, Buddhists, Jewish, one Muslim, Zoroastrian, Jainists, neo-pagans, Paleo-pagans and Spiritualists- among many, many others. I'd love to use my interfaith status to celebrate them all, but not without honest study and the integrity of active participation.... No, I'm a native specialist, and as such do the solstice/New Years things, and honour the special traditions of Christmas with my blended family.

A holiday bug? Don't mess with Christmas trees... leave them be. Our various holiday traditions overlap now, so they mean lots of things to lots of different people. A holiday temptation? Shortbread. Egad, I love shortbread. I love it so much that except for our gathering this year, I haven't made it in 20+ years because I would eat it. And I love exchanging presents....

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Weird and funky...

I was unsuccessful with my OAC grant, but I have an opportunity to review it with the co-ordinator and try for the next deadline in February, if I decide to put myself through that again... A disappointment, to be sure. But the upside is my gallery show, and I'll keep on truckin' once I get my Bernina fixed....

I read an article about how people under 30 socialize, and basically many of them use MySpace to share information, blog and network. This was not my kind of format, but a community of people I communicate with had the main website go down, and we all got redirected to MySpace. I struggled my way through the set-up, but I see myself removing the site when the community I belong to goes back to the regular format. On MySpace I feel like an old fish out of water... I'm functioning under a nom-de-plume, for safety sake.

Up to my ass (and I don't mean Jujube) in Christmas prep... trying to get family gift baskets done, remember the teacher, bus driver, and whoever else, perhaps the postman. To add to the pressure we went into the school for a morning assembly where Angeni introduced her class in French, and they proceeded to do a dance with pig masks on. It was a lengthy assembly, and the little ones are getting antsy - lots of kids pulled to the side, and tears over being kicked, and whatever they do to each other instead of paying attention. It was a struggle to get there for 9 AM, with the morning barn chores, but we did, and I'm glad. Having video of Angeni dancing in a pig mask has to be worth some potential blackmail when she's about ... hmmm... 15?

I'm enjoying my Tuesday night ghost shows, so better get back to that... spooks don't wait!!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fabulous Solstice

I always fuss about solstice ahead of time... days ahead of time... whether the house is clean enough, if there will be enough people to bother, if we should go out and buy more food, etc. Seems to me that interest in winter gatherings has diminished, even though global warming has made the drive a lot easier to our place.

Nonetheless, solstice came, and although we entertained only 9 guests this year (a record low) it was one of the nicest, most intimate gatherings so far. The gifting tradition of passing something on that you need to move along, worked really well. We feasted. This year I baked pumpkin pies, mincemeat tarts, and shortbread. It was a nice balanced feast.

To recap some of the solar/lunar happenings:

1. Solstice is the time of longest dark, and traditional New Years for aboriginal people, when shamans meet with the ancestors. Our ancestors are the star people, and we light trees, as stars are seen as lights through trees. Technically this occurs on Thursday Dec. 21st @ 7:22 PM, so you have time between now and then to prepare your gifts for the ancestors, and to reflect on your prayers and questions – a wonderful night to channel. Solstice means “sun standing still” and it appears to do so for about 9 days – 4 days on either side of solstice. We typically only see the days getting longer on the 25th – this was a reason for both the Roman and Christian holidays to be celebrated then… In pre-historic times, winter was a very difficult time for Aboriginal people in the northern latitudes. The growing season had long ended and the tribe had to live off of stored food and whatever animals they could catch. The people would be troubled as the life-giving sun sank lower in the sky each noon. They feared that it would eventually disappear and leave them in permanent darkness and extreme cold. After the winter solstice, they would have reason to celebrate as they saw the sun rising and strengthening once more. Although many months of cold weather remained before spring, they took heart that the return of the warm season was inevitable. The concept of birth and or death/rebirth became associated with the winter solstice. Aboriginal people had no elaborate instruments to detect the solstice, but they were able to notice a slight elevation of the sun's path within a few days after the solstice -- DEC-25th.

2. The 20th is also new moon, when the moon is furthest away from the earth, and the lack of pull allows us to journey with this grandmother – how wonderful is this opportunity.

3. We celebrated the beginning of this 13th moon cycle, the grandmother “Becomes Her Vision” on Nov. 20th. We don’t always have a 13th moon, due to the erratic nature of precession, and the shifting orbits and magnetic pulls.

4. As for perihelion, this is the point where the earth is closest to the sun. This year it occurs on Jan. 3rd, 2007. On an interesting note, it happens to also be full moon on Jan. 3rd – and the name of this moon historically was Full Wolf Moon. It will be a night to howl, and NOT a night to drink alcohol.

5. We have “beware the pogonip” on the 22nd – the time of freezing fog.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Gay Marriage

I'm glad parliament recently voted not to reopen the rights of homosexuals to marry... hopefully now Stephen Harper can keep his personal beliefs out of the bedrooms of the nation. I have been asked whether we here at Wolfe Island Aboriginal Interfaith Church perform gay marriages - and the answer is "Always have and always will." To conform with the new law a lot of church leaders have been told that it is up to their personal comfort level as to whether they will perform gay marriages or not... as long as someone in a particular gay-positive denomination does it, so the church isn't sued. Of course, there are always some faith groups that will never perform gay marriage, and that is their choice, but if forces adherents to find another clergy of a different faith, or have a civil service performed.

One of my first weddings was indeed a union for two women, although in those days it could only be considered a "Commitment Ceremony". Had they approached me after the laws changed, we wouldn't have had to perform the public ceremony all over again, because the witnesses would affirm that this couple did indeed wed on a New Year's Eve back in '94. It was in a lesbian club in Kitchener - everyone there seemed to have a wonderful experience.

So why do I embrace gay marriage? Simple - I have a humanist approach to the concept of legal rights to marry. Marriage is a commitment between two people, no matter what their gender or sexual preference. Historically native people have always embraced the "twin spirited" people in their community. Being an interfaith minister I will always support this perspective on marriage. Where I draw the line is around marriage for people in the BDSM community who insist on having the marriage done in harnesses and garb that suggests one partner is submitting - I will only marry people who approach the process as equals. That's my comfort level. Come to me as equals, and I'm happy to do the ceremony.

It's fun to talk about art shows one day, illness the next, politics a third day and nonsense on the 4th - freedom of speech. Ain't blogs grand???

Friday, December 15, 2006

Wonderful Showing, Fabulous Venue

Wow, just got back from Toronto an hour ago, and updating everything - over 150 emails arrived in the 30 hours I was away - I think that is a record of sorts. "It's Not a Deli Gallery" is an awesome, grassroots gallery in the heart of Queen St. and sits 2 doors down from the new OCC guild shop outlet on Queen. I suspect I'll be back there many times to visit Eduardo. Probably 60 people arrived for the opening night, and it was splendid to talk and share with all the artists I connected to... it was nice of Robert to make his way downtown to spend time with Kaaren and I at the gallery.

It was a long drive, late night, and short sleep. I'm glad to be home to hit the sheets early tonight. Tomorrow we take Angeni to a birthday party, and while she is away we'll do some grocery shopping. The rest of this week is devoted to prepping for Christmas and cooking. We now have several people joining us for Christmas Day dinner. I love to celebrate that way...

With solstice appearing to bring a small intimate gathering on Sunday, I look forward to my official duties giving way to some family time and reflection. I'm tired...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

And the Beat Goes On...

The sum effect of all the viruses in this household has been a case of benign postitional vertigo... I get dizzy when I move my head into certain positions... I get dizzy bending over... there is nausea and headache. I'm hoping with time and patience this goes away soon...

Our anniversary on Saturday was quiet... My husband got me a planter of lovely red miniature roses - my fave - and we had a quiet dinner in our pj's in front of the television. I also received a nice ring, but found I have lost my heart necklace he gave me 10 years ago. I have been devastated the last few days, rummaging about looking for where it might have fallen. This necklace was one of the few things I really treasured, and only wore it "for good". It's loss has distracted me from my preparations for Toronto. I've asked the angels for help on this one, and hopefully they can super-sleuth for me...

On Sunday Brian and I canned some cranberry sauce and blueberry jam for our seasonal holiday baskets. Normally I do canning alone, but with Angeni away, Brian was able to help me, and I enjoyed that immensely... We made a chocolate/strawberry/shortbread pie and a rustic Italian deep-dish pizza... I miss being able to have days like that - they are few and far between. I've felt the urge to cook for Christmas and look forward to some serious cookie baking next week.

Tonight was Angeni's Christmas concert for the primary division of Normanby School. She got all dressed up in a red holiday sweater - complete with miraboo feather collar - and black velvet pants. The 6 grade 3's from her split grade class did a bell-ringing version of "We Wish you a Merry Christmas". The virus-induced headache almost kept me from attending, but how could I miss that performance?

One more day of prepping and packing and I'm off to the Big Smoke (Toronto). Angeni has been invited to a neighbour child's birthday party for Saturday afternoon, so my Toronto trip is cut short - I'll be returning Friday afternoon instead of Saturday... I now have the pressure of finding a suitable birthday gift before I leave because there won't be time on Friday night. Anyway, the 2 quilts are almost prepped (one needs a hanging sleeve) and my magical carpenter has crafted two silver-painted hanging dowels. I am struggling with what one wears to a gallery exhibit opening, as one of the artists. This is a first for me to be able to attend the official opening. I have some minor signage to create, and a gift basket to finish. Lots to do in a 24 hour period.

One thing I won't be wearing is my anniversary heart - and I'm sad. I'm not one to mourn the loss of material things, but this one thing is bothering me... I'm hoping the angelic super sleuths work miracles for me!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ah, the Anniversary Waltz

For whatever dark shadowy reason, Brian and I have never made it out to a fancy restaurant for our anniversary... we were either too strapped for cash, working, or had a small child with no childcare... This year we were going to do it right - we have childcare, and Brian was going to make the reservation about 3 weeks ago. He forgot until yesterday, and of course, the only fancy restaurant around is booked solid because of corporate Christmas functions. We were even going to dress up (almost unbelievable). He's got a nice gift, might spring for flowers, but is really very sick with a cold... So with no restaurant dinner plans, but with childcare, we're going to do a dinner here... I've decided I'd like to do the Christmas baking together with him for our time together. It's anniversary #11, and last year's day sucked - Brian broke his ankle, we had to euthanize our cat, and the best dinner we could muster was Chinese food - eaten with a heavily grieving child, and parents who were not too far behind her, emotionally.

Here's hoping he's not too sick for our big day on Saturday...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Show Amendment

Due to a mix-up with the gallery, the textile show is now moved ahead by a week... Here is the info:

The gallery is called "It's Not a Deli Art Gallery" and is at 986 Queen Street West. This is a few doors east of Ossington on the north side. Phone number 416-532-4748. Name of the curator is Eduardo DelaForesta. The opening is at 8:00 PM on Thursday Dec. 14th... due to the distance I'm travelling, my stuff isn't being installed until that date, whereas the other artists will be installed on Dec. 9th.

Put on your party clothes and mingle with us!!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Robbie Robertson

We watched a Biography channel retrospective with Robbie Robertson being interviewed by a music anthropologist from (I believe) York University. Interesting show, but lacked the depth I'd hoped to experience - I was hoping for some personal sharing. I'm a rabid fan of Robbie's because of his daring exposure of Native Music - the underground rhythms and subcultural contexts have been missing from world music. He has pushed to modernize our music, and not keep it in the past... for this I am grateful. While his work with "The Band" was seminal, his native music has been so much more... I'd love to meet Robbie some day...

It's been a quiet few days... our meet-the-teacher interview was on Friday, and this went better than I expected. Angeni is a bright, advanced child, but perceives herself differently, so she was nervous. Brian has been ill with the same cold I battled 6 weeks ago. I still have the trapezius muscle neuralgia, causing visual disturbances, dizziness and nausea, although this is hopefully abating. Thankfully Angeni is fine... She attended a Santa Claus make-and-take yesterday and had a visit with Santa, so she feels in the Christmas spirit. I still can't believe all my shopping is done - except for a can of Spam. A certain friend of mine receives a can of Spam every year in her stocking... I send it one holiday, and throughout the year we give it back and forth until the dogs or cats get it. A peccadillo of strange proportions, and it's only funny to us.

Although the shopping is done, the Christmas sewing isn't - I have six placemats and a table runner to do, along with a bathroom valance and dust curtain. With my show just next week, I am stalling off the sewing until I return from Toronto - the earliest I can do sewing will be a week from today. I also have a Metis ceremonial shirt to finish, as the sleeves were too short for my friend Robert. I'm scrambling to find the right material for the plaquets, and perhaps this will happen in Toronto next week.

I have a pot roast cooking, the dishes and laundry are done for the day, the house is fairly tidy, and the fire is roaring - important to keep the house warm on this blustery day... I was pleased to see my calendula bloomed right up until Dec. 1st, as did the outdoor cauldron full of violas. I hate to see them die, but it is the season for change.

Must tend to the fire and make some lunch for the gang...