31 December, 2008

Trying Unsuccessfully To Move With The Mood

I just recently decided to renew my membership to a fitness studio again. I went a few years ago, the best times were during the Sydney Olympics. Boy, I never did so much fitness-y stuff as during the Sydney Olympics. We don't have a television at home, and that was before our Broadband Days. Gosh, I'm so old.

So, I'm back on the bicycle and trying to move with the mood of the gym; with its bodybuilding commando, its perky personal trainers, and, sigh, yes, it's television screens. But, now the sports channel is showing reruns of ski jumping, another an advert channel for Canada tourism, and on two more MTV reality shows.

In the last weeks, just about any time I've gone, there has been this lesbian-bi-you-get-to-sleep-with-Tira reality show on the screen while I am pedaling away in the studio. With subtitles. Everywhere you look. I just do not get it. I really wish I could option out of this whole reality show stuff.

Here's a wonderful adieu letter to hip hop that is a very powerful voice of someone who had decided to stop trying to unsuccessfully move with the mood.

29 December, 2008

Don’t they know…

When I went to university in southern Ontario, I met my first “born again”. My upbringing had been rich with meetings and befriendings of different folk. Yet, for whatever reason, I had never had an occasion to befriend someone who was, as my parents called, a fundamentalist.

Debbie, a fellow engineering student, was a Mary Tyler Moore, cheerleader, a cute-as-can-be Born Again. At first, I admit, I tried to ignore her. She was really too cute for my cynical self. The thing was, there just wasn’t enough women studying engineering back then to ignore her. So, what initially started off as tidbits of small talk in the student lounge between classes became, over time, warm heart-felt comradeship.

A few years down the line, on the eve of her wedding to a member of her church, she confessed that she was scared of getting married. After some probing on my part, she told me that she and her husband-to-be had decided to wait to have sex until after they were married. I was rather shocked. The concept of abstinence until marriage was hard for me to understand. It wasn’t the sex that scared her.

It was the fact that she feared that on her wedding night her husband would realise she wasn’t a virgin. Then, yes then, she confided in me that not only had she had sex before with her one-and-only boyfriend from high school, but that she had become pregnant twice over their four-year relationship and had two abortions. She became pregnant because, she and her boyfriend kept on pretending they were not having sex, when they were. For them to take precautions or use contraceptives would have been impossible thing to do, for it would mean admitting they were actually sexually active, which they couldn’t admit, since they were both poster teenagers for their churches.

I remembered all this today when I read this short article in Huffington Post. Amongst other things it says,

“Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.”

I thought of Debbie and the guilt and horror she experienced as a teenager of those two pregnancies and abortions. It was a deep sense of guilt she carried her whole adult life. I wish someone had helped her along the way.

She and her husband went on to have six children; all of whom she loved dearly, cared for greatly, even home schooled. Yet, she told me, she never forgave herself for those two abortions. That is, until she died last year from breast cancer. I hope the God she believed in has granted her peace now.

To finish off, I want to recall a conversation I had with my young daughter (13 years old) about Ms. Palin’s daughter’s pregnancy. My daughter, in all her innocent wisdom, couldn’t understand why there was such a media hoopla about Bristol Palin getting pregnant. When I told her about how people like Ms. Palin do not condone sex before marriage, nor encourage proper sex education or planned parenthood, my daughter’s puzzlement grew. I told her they believed teenagers should make pledges of abstinence.

My daughter reaction to this idea was total disbelief, “Don’t they know that sex is natural?” This from a girl who has no experience with sex, but knows deep down that a some point in time she will, and no pledge of abstinence is going to stop her.

To Debbie, in fond memory.

28 December, 2008


I've spent about five or six hours today reformatting a large WinWart document. Saved it every ten minutes because I know that the program doesn't like it when you go in and change the formating of text, numbering, or bullets.

The programmed crashed four times. I was feeling smug because I didn't lose any of the information.

I just decided to send off the file to various people as an attached file in an email. I open the file to make double sure it is the right version. The bloody program has changed back some of the formatting. Leaving enough in the form I changed it so that I know it is the right version, but the WinWart program has stubbornly, randomly changed my formatting back to something it likes, but is totally unacceptable! Grrrr!

I'm sorry, but couldn't the software engineers have figured out this bug by now. It's been there in one form or another for the last 15 years! I just hate WinWart, PowerPint, and all of this company's other products.

27 December, 2008

The Winters of My Childhood

The winters of my early childhood were spent in Caracas, Grenada, and Paulo Alto, California. Places where winter is not winter, but dry seasons, or they are so moderate that you wouldn’t dare call them winters.

winter birches

The winters of my late childhood were spent in and around Montreal. Cold and snowy winters with long luxurious frozen landscapes to walk or ski or toboggan through. Cold breath. Frostbite cheeks. Icicles hanging down from house roofs. Late afternoon, playing down on the lake, when I’d want to cry; for my mittens were soaked and snow had gotten into my boots. I was so cold and tired and so far away from home.

That is so long ago. We do not really have a winter here in Luebeck. We just have damp, dark, dismal months to contend with. I don’t want to complain, for admittedly, the sun shone today, and what a joy that was. Still, I still can spend a moment thinking of those Real Winters that blessedly left behind many wonderful memories.

New Project Work

As some of you know, I'm a believer in the of power of micro-giving. Whether it is the giving of time, materials, financial means, or creative ideas... we should all be out there giving what we can.

I've spent the day setting up an new project, Kimilili Nutrition and School Garden project, on the Nabuur site.

I happen to know there is are some fabulous gardeners, teachers, nutritionists amongst the readers of this blog. Is there any possibility that some of you would be willing to go over to Nabuur and read in detail about the project and offer us some advice or information (can be left as a comment on Nabuur or in this blog's comment window) about carrying through such an analysis and setting up and the garden? Perhaps one or two of you would like to become Nabuur Neighbours and help on the project? (Well, that is my best shot.)

The project description is,

Community Breakthrough Support Mission is a community of people helping to educate and care for 250 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Kimilili, Kenya. With the help of Nabuur neighbours we are going to analyse our present method of feeding the children and come up with practical solutions to improve the quality and quantity of food we give our children, as well as plan for better efficiency and lowering our costs.

The central question we are posing is,

"How can we improve the nutritional program of the school by analysis and presentation of a school gardening project?"

The CBSM Nutrition and School Garden Project includes the following three steps:

1. Analysis of School Nutritional Program
2. Setting up a Small-scale Farming Project Plan
3. Proposing a Long-term Small-scale Agricultural Business Proposal

The result of each of these steps will be a documented and published on the Nabuur site or on a website we are creating.

25 December, 2008

Mood Booster

An old, but well worn Christmas song. Some of my childhood Christmases and all of my Christmases between the ages of 20 and 35 were spent in Grenada (the country of my heart). Maria of Letters from Grenada post today reminded me of all the wonderful Christmas songs I used to hear in the shops and on the radio.

"I want a piece of pork" was also one of my favourites. I know they are rather silly, but please listen to the text and let yourself float aways with the tide of silliness.

Christmas is officially over in our household. Phew! It was lovely, but I am so enjoying a few days off to do some work on various projects. Will let you know a bit more about them soon.

24 December, 2008

Christmas Eve


A very merry joyous time for each and everyone. We celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. There is food on the stove. The tree has been decorated. Our family and friends are due to arrive in a few minutes. So, to all of you all the veryvery best.

21 December, 2008

Children's Story

I wrote and illustrated this story a while ago. My son sent me the link to a nifty website that publishes all sorts of documents in all sorts of formats. You should really check it out.

I thought I'd try and see how it works. And, I must say, very well. I'll definitely consider using issuu in the future.

P.S. You have to click on the story to go to a screen where you can actually read it.

20 December, 2008


Troy Andrews (aka Trombone Shorty) and other New Orleans musicians playing "O'Holy Night". One of my favourite songs. And the way Troy Andrews plays the trumpet give me goosebumps.

Do enjoy. I wish each and everyone a very 4th of Advent. (Yes, people around here do send good wishes each of the four Sundays in Advent.)

18 December, 2008

Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker


My late childhood and teen Christmases were spent dancing various rolls for The Nutcracker at the large theatre in Montreal with Les Grand Ballets Canadiens. We started rehearsals in September. We had our normal daily course load, as well as extra rehearsals, which meant that we were at the studios All The Time. It also meant, I suppose, that I heard the music thousands of times.

The performances started about a week before Christmas and carried through with matinées and evening performances from Christmas to New Year’s Day.

As to the roles I danced, just about all except the solo roles. When young we got to play “the children” and we worked our ways up to “the angels”, “the lambs” (Les Grand Ballets Canadiens had a storyline twist to their version), “the snowflakes”, and “the waltzing plums” … actually, I seem to forget what those roles last corps de ballet were; I doubt we were the snowflakes or waltzing plums.

For many years, anytime I heard even the opening notes to any of the musical pieces of The Nutcracker, I’d run in the opposite direction. Yet, I love this video because it sort of treats Tchaikovsky’s music with sound portions of gusto and irreverence. Tchaikovsky would turn in his grave. And that thought makes me smile.

17 December, 2008



A dear friend sent me this article and podcast called After The Forgetting. Erica Heilman, the producer of the show, writes,

"It seems that once your memory goes, what’s left are the basic beliefs you’ve carried around for a lifetime about yourself and the world. Both Marj and Greg approach their lives with a lot of passion and curiosity and it’s what Marj is left with now that her memory is gone."

It is a hymn to mother/son relationships. Do listen. There are many stories contained in and between the words.

16 December, 2008

Darling Daughter

Got back from Berlin last night. My daughter went off with some family friends yesterday afternoon and bought a Christmas tree for our household.
In appreciation to you, my darling daughter, for your generous deed, I've made you this collage.

15 December, 2008

Heading Home

It's been a wonderful, if not a veryvery busy time in Berlin. One friend wrote to say I seem to "jump into a train" to Berlin in much the manner she decides to drive down to her supermarket. This observation reflects more my lightness of spirit and willingness to come here, but not the physical trails of getting here. Leaving work and, more importantly, family is far less easy.

What an trip it has been, will have to write about it at a later point in time.

14 December, 2008

Just Doesn't Make Sense

While travelling to Berlin the other day, I noticed the same puzzling situation twice. What happen was the following... a woman rush is in a terrible rush to catch her train. She runs along the upper level of the train station, pulling a carry on piece of luggage on its wheels. The moment she gets on the escalator, she stops and stands and waits for the escalator to move down to the lower level at a snails pace. This doesn't make sense. There is no sign that says "Don't move on the escalator". Doesn't that seem strange to you?

12 December, 2008

Something To Cheer You Up

Pam got me hooked on this blog even though I do not play the ukelele or particularly registered its cult value before.

Just to cheer those of you who are shovelling snow (Montreal) or shuffling through rain showers (Luebeck)...


09 December, 2008

Glitches in Tastefulness

Generally, Germans collectively and individually tend towards delicate tastefulness when it comes to their Christmas decorations.
The trees lining the streets are strewn with white fairy lights.
The window decorations are often made of natural materials, like wood, or plants, glass or cloth.
Definitely, not the colourful plastic glaring glitter I so well remember from my Canadian childhood. (Sigh.)

Even so, there are a few glitches in tastefulness to be discovered in Luebeck.

A carousel squished in between a beautiful cathedral and historical monuments of the Middle Ages.
Or, how do like the new fashion of seat warmers looking like St. Nicolas’ hat?
“Special”, wouldn’t you say?

Note: I wrote this last Saturday, on St. Nicolas’ Day. A joyous celebration, when children wake to their boots filled with candy and small treats. Well, that is in most households. St. Nick actually showed up in our household after lunch. He must have been busy elsewhere.

06 December, 2008

Busy Week

It's been a busy, hectic week (few weeks actually, but let's not get into that). Some of my work has been productive...

Yesterday, I made up this video for the Community Breakthrough Support Mission I work with:

The school closed down for summer vacations two weeks ago.

Then we set up a new Nabuur project. This one is a clean water project. I am excited about this project because of the obvious benefits to the community.

I was also in contact with various turtle sanctuaries about using Florence's oceanography grade school science lessons. Please, if you have grade school children or are a teacher in grade school, you should check out these marvelous stories about sea turtles and ocean currents.

04 December, 2008

First of Advent

It was the first of Advent last Sunday. Luebeck has been transformed into a Christmas wonderland. The Christmas market is open. The city is overpopulated with Swedes, Brits, and Italians (flying over with Ryan Air for the weekend).

Luebeck is a beautiful city at any time of year, but particularly charming during the holiday season.

For instance, a brass band plays music every Saturday morning in Advent, in the open living room windows of a resident down the way from our apartment. Crowds gather and listen to the golden tones, with smiles on their faces. We just have to open up our widows to hear the band play the classical compositions. It is a delight. This is one of the many traditions residences and business folk follow here.

I really think I could like Christmas, if I could just be an observer and there was nothing to do. Instead, I’m plagued with feelings of inadequacy about not finding any pleasure with the Whole Hurrah. My daughter had to remind me on Dec.1st that she didn’t have an Advent calendar yet. Ugh! Here it goes: scramble, scramble, stumble, thud… that’s me trying to dance with the Holiday Spirit.

02 December, 2008

Posts Sitting In My Journal

Can't find the time to type in the blog posts I've written in my journal. How busy can a gal be? Ridiculous.