Tuesday, May 31, 2011

a poem I couldn't resist sharing, an echo from my previous life

Did I Miss Anything?

Tom Wayman
From: The Astonishing Weight of the Dead. Vancouver: Polestar, 1994.

Question frequently asked by
students after missing a class

Nothing. When we realized you weren't here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 per cent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I'm about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 per cent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
the hereafter
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring this good news to all people
on earth

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human existence
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been

but it was one place

And you weren't here


Tom Wayman's works copyright © to the author.

Friday, May 27, 2011

the Friday Five

Thanks to Mary Beth who started us off on this Friday Five:

So, thinking about allergies:

1. Do you experience any seasonal allergies? Are you allergic to anything else?

I'm vaguely snuffly in certain environments and am not sure specifically why... probably, reacting to DUST (certain amount of DUST in the atmosphere here much of the time). But my almost total freedom from allergies is a blessing -- I suspect it forms part of a continuum including my Systemic Unawareness and Oblivion of a lot of what is going on around me.

2. What kinds of symptoms do you experience during your allergic reactions?

I do have one "contact" allergy with annoying symptoms. Walnuts -- unless they're perfectly fresh, and without an actual tree on the property, when are they EVER perfectly fresh??? -- make my tongue sore. Pecans, thankfully, do not.

3. How do you manage your allergies? (ie: medication, avoidance, alternative therapies, etc)

It's largely a matter of avoidance. I was married for quite a long time to a man with multiple allergies, particularly hay fever; he lived on a little blue pill called "Pyribenzamine" which kept him from sneezing his head off but also left him totally non-reactive to insect bites, stings -- and intolerant of people (guess who) who DID react to mosquitoes, black flies, etc. I took one of his pyribenzamines, once. It made my ears ring for 24 hours.

4. What is the strangest allergy you've ever heard of?

Members of my family have produced allergic reactions (hives and swelling of face etc.) to the presence of a viral infection, such as a cold ... it's called Quincke's Oedema (aka Giant Hives)...(you could look it up). And some folks have urticaria -- hives -- in reaction to extreme cold. One of my children is allergic to mandarin oranges -- satsumas -- and related citrus -- so citrus blends like Five-Alive are right OUT.

5. How do you feel about school and social policies that ban peanuts and other allergens?

I'm not sure. A college classmate died at a banquet where the chicken had been fried in peanut oil (this is almost 50 years ago)... an episode that pretty much framed my thinking ever after. But it distresses me when children are implicitly encouraged to identify themselves with their allergic reactions...and beyond that, my thinking is pretty much unformed.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

a highly-caffeinated Wednesday...

Wednesday is a regular 1/2 day at St. Curious, but yesterday ran above and beyond. Normally we have a midweek Eucharist followed by a Bible study, or book study, or wide-ranging conversation, with the Wise Wednesday Women. Fab Boss and I usually take it in turn to celebrate at the Eucharist -- yesterday we changed horses in midstream because she wasn't feeling well.

Spent a happy hour or so with the ladies catching up on how we all were, and then looking at some variations on praying with rosaries, prayer beads, prayer ropes, and so forth. Some discussion of the Marian mysteries. It was all smooth until we got to the last two Glorious Mysteries: the Assumption, and the Coronation. Stern beady-eyed confrontation with WWW: "Are those two IN THE BIBLE?????" And much laughter thereat.

Then a very brisk five block walk to Campus Watering-Hole to meet #1 Son and celebrate his birthday over a tasty lunch. Not just any birthday, but a Big Round Number birthday. Oog. Some serious conversation about future plans -- concrete ones. We'll continue celebrating tomorrow night with sibs'n'spouses, dinner in the Family Abode, here, aka Tether's End.

What to cook, what to cook. I had a brief fantasy of replicating the menu that Her Majesty gave the Obamas, but I ran aground, mentally, on the Sauce Nantua. Mine would have to be a cheap-o knock-off made with mere shrimp butter, I think. Better just to give it up altogether then? But still thinking about the possibility of multiple courses -- maybe a cold soup, a salad, and a roast or chops or something. Still brooding on that one.

However! back to Wednesday. Brisk walk back to St. Curious to collect Harriet-the-Echo, and hurl myself across the city (including across the RIVER) to Monastic Establishment for a session of local Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue. The hospitable Monastic Persons entertained the group to dinner following our dialogue session. Sometime, somehow, I'd like to get a detailed look at them-there vows of poverty, I must say. It was a faint-dead-away menu. The Queen should be so lucky. We had roast lamb in profusion with more doo-dahs on it than I can remember or even identify but prominent among them were PINE NUTS...and all sorts of vegetable accoutrements variously roasted and caramelized and uniformly delicious. And for dessert -- does the term "frangipane" ring any bells out there? If not, just think "marzipan pie".

Some days it is good to be an ecumenist.

And then hurled myself back across the city for a meeting of Interested Church Persons to talk about the state-of-the-church, and the Covenant (p'too), and how the Rambler "got the call," and one thing and another.

Somehow I had had enough coffee by then that the needle was up in the MOTOR-MOUTH red zone.

Home at eleven p.m., and slept, after a fashion, and woke up still caffeinated to the gills...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

a peaceable Tuesday

Yesterday was a statutory holiday in the True North Strong and Free -- no, not a case of us jumping in and getting Memorial Day out of the way early -- Victoria Day, commemorating the Queen Empress, whose birthday was May 24th. So now it's the Monday-before, and makes a long weekend holiday in May, everybody happy. The signal in some places to "open the cottage" for the summer, or to "put the garden in" -- although hereabouts it's safer to wait until the first of June (for fear of late frosts).

Yesterday here, in this year of grace, however, was teeming rain nearly all day, not suitable for either of the classic activities, so the Rambler COOKED. All day long. I have been having a kind of crisis about food this week. Or an epiphany. Or one of those hey-wait-a-minute things.

Last week I spent a day -- Friday -- grocery shopping. I started with a warm-up run to the dry-cleaner to pick up a couple of garments, and then went, in turn, to a semi-wholesale outlet for one of the major supermarket chains; then to the bakery outlet; finally to a produce market of great repute.

The produce market is a joy -- good quality fruit and vegetables (if quality is not good, or price is exorbitant, they don't stock whatever-it-is) at spectacularly low prices, clean premises, knowledgeable staff. The bakery outlet is no problem -- I pick up a 'flat' of 10 loaves of bread, some sesame-white, some 'brown' of one sort or another, sometimes some English muffins or bagels; staff are friendly and conversable, prices make the trip worth it, especially on Wednesdays when Old Coots get a 10% discount.

But the Wholesale Club got to me, this time around, aisles and aisles of super-sizes of "fodder" -- I can't call it food. Candy, candy, candy, candy; chips, chips, chips, and soda-pop... but I think it was the four-liter jars of salad dressing that set off my gag reflex. Granted, this outlet supplies a lot of small restaurants. These aren't for "home consumption." But it oppressed me -- having just read the article on Pepsico in the New Yorker -- I couldn't help but think, "THEY'RE TRYING TO KILL US"... they do have fine big 3 lb. bags of baby spinach...but the proportion of real food to GLOP is way too low.

And when my shopping was done, I looked for a restaurant lunch for a treat...wound up in one of those buffet-carvery places, and alas everything on the hot table and most of what was on the cold table looked as if it had come straight from the wholesalers. GLOP predominated. Grease and sugar and salt. I wound up with a plate of undressed salad and a spoonful of cottage cheese! As I ate it, I looked at the clientele. And every single soul who came in, EVERY ONE, was morbidly obese.

Not only are they TRYING TO KILL US...I think they're succeeding... "Why," I ask, "will you spend your money for that which is not bread?" And answer comes there none.

So all this cooking, I think, was some kind of Protective Ritual. Momma don't 'low no GLOP around here. Not this week.