Step the first … Crows

Or as Anne Lamott explains, bird by bird. Although what she means is that we get through the story that we have to write word by word, as for me bird by bird suits in all sorts of ways.

When we first arrived here in Owen Sound, no, when we first began to live here, in this house, in Owen Sound whaImaget really struck me was the murder of crows that woke me every morning. That was different. And delightful…though my dear friend JL will definitely not agree.

So much was different. In good ways and bad. Mostly bad at first. Bad because my husband was sent to BC (the province, not the date) for a two week training and I was already feeling lonely and “interrupted”. I didn’t know who I was and no one else knew either.

But each morning the crows cawed to me. Woke me with their raucous and joyous chorus. And what delighted me about that was that all those crows deterred the starlings who rob the feeders we put out for the birds we want to attract … the pretty ones, the little ones, the ones who warble and tweet and chitterchatter. And those birds also seemed to appreciate that chorus of the crows because they got the lion’s share of the seed and the starlings didn’t disturb their nests.

It still wasn’t home. Maybe it never will be. But it was a start and so this blog post is dedicated to crows. The birds who showed me a new way, a new direction for my life…for the moment. And so I am lead to ask if crow was my first muse pointing me into a whole new direction. Just musing.

Advertisements

Gifts and Apologies

ImageIt is the gift giving season, isn’t it? Yes, we give presents to show that we care for others. Right? Or do we just gift someone with whatever, just because, and roll our eyes at the crowds of inconsiderate, downright rude people in our way as we go about our “duty” shopping?

As for me, I’ve already got all the gifts I need. A healthy family, people who show up, a roof over my head, a good (and never ending) education, heat in the winter, food in my belly (lots of it too) and potable water. There are many of my brothers and sisters, and cousins, and aunties and uncles, and friends, and on down the line…who don’t.

Some of them, women in particular, started a movement called “Idle No More”. Oh we could argue about the men who hornswoggled the media spotlight, who took credit where no credit was due, but that would just distract people from the whole idea. Because actually “Idle No More” can’t be allowed to get lost in petty arguments about whose idea it was, or whether or not you are Status, Non-Status, Legal or not, Shadow Indians, Grey Indians, Apple, Urban or Rez.

This movement has grown so fast and so healthy because it is the right idea for this time. And time is running out.

Now I have friends who are, quite frankly newcomers to Turtle Island, some are even the first generation to live here. And maybe they don’t quite get the history, or maybe they just don’t want to be bothered with the history, or maybe they get confused by political gobbledegook or jabberwocky. Some have even pointed out to me that “Prime Minister Harper” has “apologized” in public and they feel we are being ungracious to expect that he follow up his “apology” with action. But you see an apology isn’t an apology if it isn’t followed up with action, repeatedly and sincerely. So, what we are expecting now is that this “apology” be made authentic and sincere. And the only a government can do that is with action.

Strictly speaking the apology only covered Residential Schools and as horrific a genocide that was (is) it’s just the tip of an iceberg. A very cold, sharp, scary iceberg. And even this apology hasn’t really got teeth or legs. That is aside from blaming the churches and them throwing a few dollars here and there for showy events rather than allowing people to speak until everyone has heard their stories. Because those stories make people uncomfortable, maybe even ashamed — and really what can anyone do now?

As for me (and I think I’ve got a lot of folks behind me on this

Image

Image

– Native, and Non-Native alike) I’d like people to be able to expect a roof over their heads, healthy food in their bellies, heat in the winter, a decent school and educational system for their children, clean air, water and protected land to be just that – protected! Sounds simple doesn’t it.

But there’s a fly in the ointment here. Because protected lands that were “gifted” to First Nations haven’t been protected at all. Promises have been broken over and over and over again. If you’d like a quick read and a little background, I’d recommend that you pick up a copy of “The Truth About Stories – A Native Narrative” by Thomas King. I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll want to continue on to “The Inconvenient Indian” by the same author. That is if you like a good story and as Thomas explains, “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are.”

So promises to protect lands whether that be a reserve (reservation in the U.S.) or a National or Provincial Park or just to keep the land safe for the sake of the land, or those who live on, in, or around it need to be kept. So whether it’s a government or a corporation or a neighbour who doesn’t keep the promise to steward the land in a good way, we all need to pay attention, to stand up and say, “Hey wait a minute. I won’t let you get away with that.”

Oh and don’t ever let anyone tell you that the government “gifted” First Nations with their “land” … The land is not for sale and you don’t own it in the same way you don’t really own anything else. It just is.

We’re welcome to live on it, tend it, live off of it – but we lose that right when we don’t take care of it. And deep down in your heart of hearts, you know that; you knew that from day one. So it’s no gift… As Thomas King says on page 137 of  The Truth About Stories – A Native Narrative, “It’s a lovely sentiment, isn’t it. Gifts. The Great White Mother and Father and their Red Children sitting around a Christmas tree, enjoying the holidays, the Indians eager to see what presents their parents have bought for them. A Currier and Ives moment.”

Only it’s not and you can’t buy land. Even if you believe that you can; even if that’s what the government, the corporations, and the banks want you to believe.

The land is finite and there are constraints to what it can absorb and still sustain itself and us. Though I imagine it will heal once we’re gone – and we’re working on that just as fast as we and those big Corporations can.

But you can make a difference. You can stand up and be counted; can make your voice heard. There is a hitch though. You have to follow that up with sincere actions. I have faith in you; I believe that you can do it. That we can hold each other accountable as well as governments and corporations. I’m counting on you, we’re all counting on you – especially Mother Earth.Image

Falling Leaves New Moon

Last night was the Falling Leaves New Moon — a time when we incubate our dreams and allow Spirit to speak to us.

I’ve been really sick for almost two weeks nd am now on medication. (; P) The congestion is breaking up, but that means that the coughing wakes me.

So today I just got up at 5 am and went downstairs.

The dark night sky was indigo velvet and so many stars were visible.

I threw on a sweater (my mother’s old red one) and went out on the side deck. I was mesmerized. I was gobsmacked. I could breathe in the crisp clear air and I wanted to swing out my arms and twirl around with delight. Like a child.

We have polluted the skies with more than particulate and chemical matter … we have tried to eliminate the dark.

I guess we’re all little children still afraid of what is under the bed when there is no night light. Yet I can’t help but wonder what the skies would look like back where I come from if they put into effect dark sky laws like in Bruce County?

I know there would be a lot more star gazers and a lot fewer casinos. Honestly, I would rather just lay under the stars than gamble away money I don’t have (or can’t afford to throw away). What about you?

Anyway, this morning when a friend (Hi Keira!) posted prose that would melt your heart, I responded and then after I read my response, I thought, there is a haiku in there somewhere. Well it may not be a “perfect” haiku, but I’ll share it with you anyway.

Morning — 5 am

Falling leaves new moon

held in stars gaze — heaven!Image

Becoming…

Amy Cuddy spoke at TED recently about how your body language changes your mind changes your brain changes your life.

Rick Hanson has taught me so much about how your mind can change your brain can change your relationships, your communication, your life.

And I want to share this I wish to be the change…

I want people who are marginalized by politics, by corporations, by powermongers to hear this.

Can you help me?

Can you share this message?

Maybe together we can change what really matters. Thanks.

Books, libraries, reading, and a what if…

Today marks the beginning of Banned Books Week and so I happened upon this little video that Bill Moyers made to honour this…

I agree with Bill. I wonder how many of us would be as whole as we are without books in our lives. Right now I am in a place where I can afford to buy some books. It’s wonderful!

But I still need the library. I grew up in libraries. I grew up feasting on books.

Now libraries open doors in other ways than books. We borrow DVDs, music CDs, audio books (wonderful for long trips!) and let me not forget TOYS! Whoot! When my children were small I borrowed toys regularly as well as books to read to them. All of us would be poorer without libraries and the bounty they lend to us.

But libraries do more than lend out magic. They host story telling times, events, workshops and clubs.

I’ve gone to those story tellings.

I’ve studied writing with Welwyn Wilton Katz.

I’ve volunteered in literacy programs.

Which leads me to my point (and I do have one)…the Library belongs to all of us. And we need to let our municipal politicians know that we — not some board or council — are the owners. They are just human beings; they will make mistakes.

Locally that would be the error of closing our only library (aside from a few specialty libraries devoted to small interest groups) on Mondays. What wrong headed thinking!

In our little corner of the world the library and the art gallery (the Tom Thompson) are attached which I feel is an excellent idea, a great match, a marriage made in heaven. They are both necessary as places where people learn to think, to imagine, to create, to expand their horizons, to grow. All necessary traits in a good citizen.

So, it would follow, if you follow my thread, that both of these edifices should fling their doors open EVERY day of the week…even if you must train more volunteers to do the “grunt” work (and here I believe Unions need to get on board). If citizens want this enough, they will step up and make it happen. Libraries are a human right … if you want creative thinkers, critical thinkers, thinkers period.

Are you with me?

Oh and while you’re at it…read a banned book! There’s a million of them. Here’s some I’ve read WITH my children…

Where Did I Come From? Cover

The Giver Cover

A Wrinkle in Time  Cover

And one of the all time best banned books… In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak

Wonderful Banned Books Week display at Porter Square Bookstore, 2012

Nickel and Dimes-10TH Anniversary Edition (11 Edition) Cover

They are some of the best reading in town … with the greatest ideas!

Turtle Journal Cover … new beginning.

Turtle Journal Cover ... new beginning.Today is Wednesday…the day my tribe casts wishes. I’ve been away so long, I feel a stranger, but it’s interesting that

Jamie Ridler

poses this question today, “What do you wish to start?

Talk about synchronicity! Which I must say I am…

Why my dears, just at lunch with my very dear friend Jamie (another Jamie with whom I’ve been working through Melody Beattie’s40 Days to a Miracle”) and I decided to switch gears from this process we’ve been doing for 18+ months and focus more on being accountable first to ourselves (and with each other) on giving ourselves permission to focus more on our artistic endeavours.

So tomorrow we start. My intention for this next period will be to spend at least one-half hour per day working on the above project which has been patiently waiting for YEARS. Yes, dear hearts, years.

Oh I hear those sighs, see those heads nodding. We all do it. So what better day to start than today? Just the prodding and prompting I needed from my two favourite Jamies.

Each day each of us will be accountable to spend the time we commit to and before hitting the pillow to email one word, “DONE!” to our partner.

Simple, no?

Day at a time.

It’s about time!

Pondering an old red sweater …

Right now I am reading “No Ordinary Time” by Jan Phillips. Well, to be truthful I am not so much reading … as practicing this book. There are ideas, concepts, constructs, words, sentences, musings on every single page that I want to commit to memory, imbue into my cellular structure. This, found on page 195, speaks so intimately to my sense of “At Loose Ends” that I must share it…

Your words and thoughts

are your yarn and knitting needles.

Your life is the afghan, the mittens, the scarf.

If you work with wool and cotton threads

You will never end up with a cashmere sweater.

At first glance our socially constructed dichotomies will cause us to judge wool and cotton threads as “less than” cashmere.

But stop and think for a minute…

Do we all need, want, struggle to attain, desire, feel comfortable in and with a cashmere sweater?

Mostly I like to wrap myself in an over sized wool sweater while I snuggle into the sofa with a good book and a canine companion.

I still have an old red, acrylic sweater that I rescued from the cloImageset of my mother after her death. For years I fondled the hankie left in one of the pockets and was comforted by the scent of Noxema. It quite literally WAS my mother in those letting go times. Now the scent is gone, but still the sweater is pulled from the closet to be worn when I need to let go of feeling like a “motherless child” and yet still feel childlike and cared for and safe.

My mother and I were/are both knitters. Wool is my choice; acrylic hers. We are so different, so alike…a knitted sweater so familiar an object as to be taken for granted (like a mother perhaps) until it becomes necessary. How wonderful to have these lines to bring to recall so much. To feed my soul with the ordinary, the mundane, the trivial…that makes up so much of a rich, full life.

And so this short five lines gives me material to meditate on for years…

Thanks, Jan.

The glorious moon!

This isn’t exactly what I saw last night on my way back to the Métis Centre for the Women’s Journaling Circle. Our first!

But the sky was full of this amazing orange sphere.

Which makes me think of this poem:

Full Moon Insomnia
by Colleen Redman
I.
The moon is like a jewel
under my pillow
Like the princess
and the pea
I can’t sleep
II.
I’m trying to sleep
but the moon has other plans
I follow its bouncing ball orbit
like reading subtitles in a foreign film
It says: Wake up and write this all down
before you lose such good reception
I’m a nightshift stenographer hired by the muse
to take down the moon’s business
What a wonderful Rest and Cleansing Moon / Hunger Moon celebration we enjoyed. I am so blessed to have such wonderful women in my life. May all who live know such feminine wisdom. Thanks to all who joined me…looking forward to celebrating Spring Equinox with you on March 20th at the Métis Centre in Owen Sound.