Category Archives: Archived

The Company of Old Men

I seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time with old men and hospitals these days.

My very good friend Paul should have died years ago. He has a heart condition and now he has terminal prostate cancer. He is receiving palliative care at home. He always says he is doing fantastic, and I believe he is. There is something about facing mortality that really puts you in the present moment. Paul has had a very interesting life. These days he restores antique ceremonial Japanese swords and daggers and has a market all over the world. He has a beautiful organic garden, is a great cook who has taken up: roasting coffee beans, making delicious homemade ice cream and using a dehydrator to preserve his garden’s bounty. He gets tired easily but is always so grateful for the time I spend with him. I have not been working this summer so have had time to take him to his doctor and hospital appointments. He likes to go with me because I am not in a hurry and we can take time to explore other things like the farmer’s market or the flea market.

My husband turned 64 a couple of weeks ago and it seems that he has gotten old before my eyes. It started with a sore knee and he now has a booking with an orthopedic surgeon. He went to the optometrist to have his eyes checked and was immediately booked for laser surgery. He had a condition with his eyes that could cause him to go blind within a couple of hours if it wasn’t corrected. To top it off he lifted a very large pot of chili at the pow wow and got a hernia and had to go to emergency. A few weeks ago we were making plans to redo the garage and now he can’t lift a thing until he has corrective surgery for the hernia.

My oldest dog B for some reason decided he didn’t want to be in the back of the truck with five golden retriever girls and jumped out while the truck was backing up. He got hit in the head with the trailer hitch. He is now blind in his left eye. A very quick trip to the vet. It looked much worse than it was. No brain damage.

Sylvester, our 15-year-old cat is starting to show his age and falls asleep in the funniest places. Sometimes right in front of his food dish.

It’s interesting, all this aging doesn’t make me think of death. It makes me think of living, today.

The Puzzle That is My Pond

“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle”
Deepak Chopra

Two things I really enjoy: one is the sound of water moving and the other is looking at and picking up rocks. I live by a lake and have a beautiful rushing creek running through the back side of our acreage. It is so peaceful to sit on the back deck and listen to the creek and the birds. I also enjoy the front of our house because that is where my beautiful garden is and I spend quite a bit of time out there working. When I lived at the coast I had a massive in ground fish pond surrounded by lush west coast landscaping; bamboo, rhododendrons, azalea,roses, magnolias etc. It was filled by friendly, happy koi. None of that works here.

My husband think I should have been happy with the creek, and I am. I just wanted the sound and beauty of a pond in the front. I found and old pond liner and decided my mountain pond would become a reality. I couldn’t put it in the ground as it is rigid and would crack in the -30 C winters. I decided above ground would do but how could I make it look interesting, keep the cats out yet make it safe for the dogs who like to drink from it and wash their dirty tennis balls in it.

Rock-harvesting

One thing we have here in the mountains is an ample supply of rocks. More get delivered every year or so from the gravel truck who dumps his load on the driveway. I also have a large collection of, in my opinion,  pretty rocks that I have picked up on my hikes.

My helper

One of my favourite hikes with the dogs is along a dyke that was built from soil moved from Agate Bay and after a fresh rain you can usually find unborn agates poking up.

I priced out brick and Allan blocks to surround the pond, way to expensive. then one day it dawned on me. I would use all those rocks to build the surround. Every day I would add a layer. It was kinda like figuring out a puzzle. What would fit where to build the little wall. How to place them so they wouldn’t fall. It became a very mindful yet relaxing exercise. If I found a new interesting rock I would add it as well, friends started bringing me rocks. None of the rocks are cemented so we have to be careful not to kick  or bump into the pond, or else they all come tumbling down. Another great exercise in mindfulness. I never get upset if someone knocks the rocks down, I just let them put it back together again. Everyone loves it.  It can be a solitary or group activity. The only ones who haven’t knocked any rocks down are the dogs.

While meditating next to the pond it always makes me think of how things change in an instance and  how we all fit into this puzzle.

Wild Horses Again

For those who enjoyed the pictures of the horses on Schiedam Flats I have uploaded three short videos to YouTube.

Change

Nothing enunciates or  brings to life change more than moving from season to season; especially from winter to spring. Here in the grasslands winter has not given up its frigid embrace quite yet. There are signs though: birds are returning, seeds are quietly germinating underground and roots are awakening, calves are being born in the dark of night in cold pastures, the weather moves from sun, to sleet to hail and back again, constantly keeping us on our toes. We must be careful not to expect the joyous homecoming of warmth and new growth just yet.

Nature cleaves to her own schedule, not ours. The feral, Indian horses of Schiedam Flats have moved down from the hills, looking for the signs of forage on the grasslands. Last year there were many new foals and old friends who spent many summer days entertaining the observers who stopped their cars to visit. It will be exciting to see what this spring brings.

Just as nature moves at her own pace, so must we. Contemplating shedding my woolly winter coat and opening up to germinating in the warmth of the sun. Changes happens with every breath.

“Remember that a man’s …

“Remember that a man’s grandma’s name is to him her the sweetest and most important sound in the English any language.”
Dale Carnegie

I have been called many things in my life. I was named Melodie because my oldest sister wanted to name her first baby girl Melodie. I was born very late in my parents life and I am sure my mom was so surprised that she hadn’t the foggiest idea what to name me. My oldest sister had a baby boy the next year. I have always loved my name because it was different and even spelled in an unusual way. My nieces and nephews as well as a younger sister that quickly piled up after me could not say Melodie and I was called Nonie for a long time.

People like to shorten names and even though I sign my name Melodie and introduce myself as Melodie certain people call me Mel. It’s annoying but I have learned to live with it.

When my first grandchild was born I thought that maybe I would like her to call me Nonie. I didn’t see myself as grandma. My daughter married an Italian and his parents would be called Nona and Nono. My daughter thought that might be confusing so she proposed Mimi. I loved it! It suited my sensibility and tickled my funny bone. Perfect for the grandmother I hoped to be.

It was easy for Giorgia (Gigi) to say. So Gigi and Mimi became inseparable. After Giorgia came her brother Gianluca and then my son’s daughter Stella. Mimi’s world expanded exponentially.

When Giorgia now almost 6 and no longer Gigi says Mimi, I know it will be an exciting conversation; full of all the things she is learning. It will be about her art, her dance, her music or  the joy of kindergarten. It will be Mimi…did you know….? I will be enthralled.

Gianluca not quite 2 thinks I live in my iPhone. This is where we communicate the most. He loves to just pick up his mom’s phone and say “haaallo MIMI! I lub you! I am thrilled to get his messages and just imagine his mischievous face.

Bless today’s technology.

Stella 10 1/2 months said Mimi to me for the first time today. My heart melted. My daughter in law taught it to her this week. Best present ever. (note to daughter in-laws)

No matter what others call me, knowing that my name is spoken in love by those I cherish the most is all that matters. May I live up to Mimi!

The Impermanence of the Old Goat

I felt so sorry for you last weekend. Staring through the fence, looking up at the window; not understanding why you can’t be part of the pack. All your companions are gone. Your mom,your two sisters and your grandmother, who just died. You came here as a baby, rescued due to animal cruelty.

You have been part of our life for 9 years now. The next year your twin sisters were born. Wasn’t that exciting!  Being amateur in goat husbandry, we had no idea you would impregnate your mom. We couldn’t have you neutered as your case was still before the court.

Later the next year we added a rescued pig, chickens, cats, rabbits and  duck. Now there is only Cinderella  the duck and you left. Cinderella was a rescue from the fires of 2003. Found wandering down the road she was burnt and missing all her feathers. Why she is still alive I have no idea. How long do ducks live?

We moved here to raise and breed our dogs. We have watched many of them pass over as well. We have lost numerous cats, all the rabbits, and Sophie the pig. The sadness is sometimes too great.

What shall I do for you or for me? I know that nothing lasts forever; only as long as creator wills. I know that everything is here for a reason.

Shall we go rescue some new friends?

Turning Outward ~ Community

Let’s expand the space around our wagon. We need community. We are dependent on one another. Not just the people in our small circle, a world community. Without it we all suffer. Where is our sense of self without community?

Is it ironic that in the last few days everything I have read that touched me has been about turning out from myself to community. Is it not  enough that I work “for” capacity building by raising resources. I bring time, talent, influence, leverage and money to the table to build community. I too, am guilty of  not practicing patience and tolerance for those who don’t share my ideals.

First was Richard Harwood’s blog on his comments on the state of the union:

We must turn outward. So much of what is happening these days is driven by an inward pull among individuals, within organizations and communities, and across our nation. But the challenges we face – and our deep desire to act on our aspirations – cannot be met by people going it alone. Nor can they be solved through retreat or reaction in attempts to protect our narrow interests. Rather, so many of the challenges we confront can only be effectively addressed by people taking action together. For that to occur, we must change our very orientation, our posture, our stance and turn outward toward our communities and one another. This won’t cost us a dime, but it will pay huge dividends. We must re-engage and reconnect.”

From Thomas Moore in Spirituality & Health Jan-Feb 2011

“Ethics is rooted in a love of people. and appreciation for unfamiliar cultures, and a desire to create community out of the large number of people on the planet… the ultimate challenge of community, taught clearly by Jesus and the Buddha, is to expand your deep feelings of community from those in your circle to those still outside it. Eventually, one hopes , no one will be outside.”

So maybe we need to stop circling the wagons around ourselves and those like us and  act as part of the larger world community  to better serve the greater good. We can create a better world, and can rest assured that help will be there for us as well…..we can live every day,  free from fear and worry that allows us to receive and share the protection and support of community life.

So today let’s let a perceived enemy hitch their wagon to our circle and get to know them. Let’s look outward.

From Elizabeth Lesser’s TED talk “invite the other  to lunch” and just listen to them with out judgement. Just hold the space. With a little dose of humility and wonder we might find their idea of community is very similar to ours.

Dust Bunnies ~Dog’s Tails ~Impermanence

“We change, whether we like it or not”

I live in a dust bowl in the grasslands of British Columbia. Dust is everywhere. It doesn’t help that I live with a menagerie of dogs, cats and a bird. There is no getting away without dust, dust bunnies created from hair, feathers, seeds and dander, flying everywhere. It is a constant challenge to stay on top of it.

I was sitting at the kitchen table reading, something I love to do but  gets pushed to the side by other life commitments, when I noticed huge dust bunnies and sand swirling around the table leg. It was annoying, not because it caught me off guard but it was a reminder that I was lacking in the cleaning department. I went back at my book and kept reading. When I glanced  down again, the dust bunnies and sand had moved on. They had moved to the other side of the room with the swoop of a dog’s tail. In a matter of minutes everything had changed; the dust bunnies and sand as well as my feelings of guilt.

I have a difficult time with the concept of impermanence. I know that it’s the nature of things to come together and move apart but I keep looking for solid references of an unchanging world or even an unchanging self.

I tend to suffer doubt when it comes to impermanence. I know that I am not the “queen” of my domain, so I suffer anxiety because I want to organize my life around an “enduring self” in a concrete world, even though it is only ideas and forms coming in and out. and that’s the truth. Nothing is permanent. If it was there would be no birth or death, no need to eat, no feelings.

Through meditation and contemplation I am beginning  to see the interdependence of phenomena (the dog’s tail), I am beginning to see the selfless nature of everything. It certainly helps to calm anxiety and “monkey brain” I have no need to control thoughts, emotions, relationships and events. My actions change and my priorities become more focussed. I am not fixated. I develop an appreciation for what I have and I can relax.

Gratitude  for dogs tails.

Time ~ Compassion~

You know the sort of day. You are busy, thinking of where you need to be not where you are. Late, rushing.

Pulling into the parking lot I had to immediately stop for a frail elderly woman, walking right in front of my car with her walker. Trying to stand up tall, making her way slowly to the entrance of the library. Happy to be under her own steam on this beautiful fall day. Happy to be alive,while I was not even present. I suddenly thought of my mother, long dead. She too, walked slowly and sometimes was not aware of how she held others up. she loved every day that she was alive. Always ready to go out for an adventure, lunch or a walk. I was very grateful to that elderly lady today. Bringing me back to  present time, bringing back wonderful memories of my mom. Where had my compassion gone?  My loving kindness to all, my being here, right in that moment. In the twinkling of an eye she brought me back where I needed to be. Eternally grateful.

The Best Place to Bury a Dog

In loving memory of my beloved Heidi Sept 1997 to October 2010

Ben Hur Lampman

THE BEST PLACE TO BURY A DOG

If a dog be well-remembered, if sometimes she leaps through your
dreams, full as life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing,
yearning….

It matters not at all where that dog sleeps, at long
last, at least

On a hill where the wind is unrebuked and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream she knew in puppy hood, or somewhere in the flatness of pasture, where most exhilarating cattle graze, it is all one to the dog, and all one to you and nothing is gained and nothing is lost….if the memory lives.

Nevertheless, there is one place to bury a dog, best of all.

If you bury your friend in this spot, she will come to you when you
call…

Come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down
the well-remembered path to be by your side again. Though you call many dogs to heel, they shall not growl at her or resent her coming, for she is yours and she belongs here.

People may scoff at you, those who see no lightest blade of grass bent by her footfall,
those who hear no whisper pitched too fine for mere audition, those who may have never really had a dog.

Smile at them, for you know something that is unaware to them. And which is worth keeping…

The one best place to bury a dog is in your heart

“And he will raise her up on eagles’ wings

Bear her on the breath of dawn

Make her to shine like the sun

And hold her in the palm of his hand”