writer’s block

I’m blocked this morning. My inner editor has total control over what I want to say, so these long conversations are going on inside my head and nothing is coming out through my fingers. I’m hoarding ideas, having had them already judged stale, boring and so obviously not worth the time to express. Major attack. I sit looking out the window at the birds hurrying past. I sip my hot tea, silently, and then read someone else’s blog.


speed of time

It looks like a wet fall morning out my studio window. It’s raining and since we didn’t do much raking last fall, the backyard looks as it did last October. What a winter. Just when I’d be thinking spring thoughts, I would wake up and look out the window and feel it was time to get ready for Christmas. Again. And again.


We usually have lovely relaxing evenings when I get home from work, but last night we failed to track down a bizarre smell in the house, Willow refused to let us replay an IPL cricket game we wanted to see and I got grumpier and grumpier. There’s never enough time. I know I’ll be complaining about this on my last moments on this planet Earth, but there are just so many interesting things to do and so few hours to call one’s own.


Some people at work think time is actually speeding up, something to do with a black sun. I myself wonder if the Cern Hadron collider where they are smashing atoms together might be having an effect. But I’m inclined to think this time speeding up is a well-known and documented experience of many of us as we grow older. Knowing that, however, does not ease the pain.


Many time management tools seem to chop my life into smaller and smaller fragments, each of them racing by faster than the last. The only thing that seems to help is if I focus on doing first some creative work that the deepest part of me needs, like writing words or music. For a couple of hours afterwards, the pace of the chores I have to complete seems reasonable, and the day proceeds at “normal” speed.


Unlike last night as we dithered with sniffing in corners, and reloaded error pages, and felt our evening slipping away.


Ah, well. Mars is leaving its retrograde phase. Today is another day.

surviving criticism

I’m suffering an attack of Freud’s Id this morning. I woke up extremely grumpy, lists of to do’s rampaging through my mind, and feeling extremely guilty about snacking on cookies yesterday, not raking the yard, not doing the dishes, not cleaning up the clutter, not working hard enough etc. etc. etc. “And what is all this about?” I ask myself gently. “Mind your own business!” I snarl back.


Okay, I have my cup of tea, and I’m sitting down quietly. I’m trying to think what has happened recently to precipitate this attack of never-ending “to do’s”. Ahhh, maybe it’s because yesterday I received a “commercial” warning from Flickr. I had been using an Flickr account at work to back up all the photos of products, prizes and special events I had been taking. My work computer is old and I’m afraid it might develop some crippling disease (yes, it’s on the unsupported Windows XP).


I thought I was being clever saving the photos on the “cloud” where some of our suppliers could see how we were using their prizes in our contests. Saves me from having to email them. Flickr accused me of selling from their site. I can see how they might have thought I was trying to attract business, now, with some calm reflection, but at the time, it felt like some stranger was peeking into my hard drive and criticizing me. And oh, I have such a hard time dealing with criticism.


I try, I really try to be open to guidance and direction and helpful hints. And if criticism is given with compassion, ie, not “You’re WRONG!”, but “Have you thought of trying this?”, I have a chance at least of handling it better. Being criticized is like out of a clear blue sky a Monty Pythonesque foot slams down on me. I lose confidence in myself and everything seems wrong, hopeless and grey.


I saved my pix elsewhere and deleted the Flickr account, and no one’s yet taken me off to Internet Jail for Bad Behaviour. After my cup of tea, maybe I’ll do music and hope my normally bright, sunny (but cold, 0 degrees C this morning) world will return.


Cold this morning, 0 degrees C, but at least there’s no snow, and it’s sunny.


I’ve been walking to and from work without my glasses, taking them off at home whenever I can, and using an 80 point font on my computer screen and I think my eyes are improving. I’m also using an older pair of glasses for most of the day, since I don’t do much close work. It seems things are getting a little clearer. I can see some details in amongst the blurred and doubled images.


From the reading I’ve been doing, many eyesight issues are related to emotional issues, the desire of the young child, who cannot change what it must endure, to not “see” how bad things really are. I find the phrase “use a calm, steady gaze” reassuring and helpful when I’m trying to make out details without squinting, and that tells me I’m actually not feeling calm and steady.


I usually think of myself being quite calm but as I watch myself going through emotional storms throughout the day, a flash of anger here, an irritation of the nerves there, impatience everywhere, I wonder how I ever believed in my neutrality. Perhaps because people around me didn’t connect with me in a way that acknowledged the emotions, I ended up feeling invisible. Since my whirling internal life had no impact on the external world, I grew to pay it no attention, and eventually believed I presented myself with a kind of calm serenity. Don’t laugh, I really did believe that!


Now, when I’m trying not to squint, and finally give up and put my glasses on in a burst of amazingly strong rage, I hearing myself thinking “Yet again, I’m being prevented from doing some little thing I want to do”. So back when I was a child, before my vision went blurry, how many small things was I trying to do but felt blocked?


Oh, maybe one or two…. 😉


It snowed overnight! This is the winter that just will not go away. Two days ago, Nick and I were sitting in garden chairs outside, barefoot in the sun. Today, I have to scrape off the car and wear boots for warmth. Good thing I’ve been grounding myself, or I’m sure I’d be having a hissy fit.

I watched the replay of another brilliant innings by Glenn Maxwell and the Kings XI Punjab last night. We’ve been speculating on the emotional impact of Maxwell’s presence. Warner’s astonishing drop of Maxwell early in the game was thought by one commentator to be due to Warner’s realizing how important getting Maxwell out was, and then nerves kicking in.


I’ve found myself having funny reactions because of nerves. There was the usual case of unpleasant butterflies in my stomach and sweaty hands just before going on air working on television news, or before playing most concerts. But I remember clearly one concert in particular, when I was playing in a massed band event at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. I thought I was perfectly calm. I was one of a hundred clarinetists, maybe more, hidden in a crowd, unlike other performances where I had stood out more. The music was relatively simple to play, and I thought I was enjoying myself when out of nowhere, my right ring finger started twitching uncontrollably. I jammed it down into the keyhole. It twitched. I relaxed it loose in the air and it still shook. At the same moment, I suddenly thought hey, this is the Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto’s classiest performance centre, and my stomach dropped. The whole world appeared suddenly foreign. After a minute or so, the world righted itself. My finger once more behaved normally, the shock of losing control wore off and I began enjoying playing again.


I’d played many concerts since, including a solo performance, and never had that finger misbehave again. I monitored myself carefully, though. It was such an unusual split between my normal sense of self while facing a situation I knew I could handle, and my body pointing out to me that no, I was not as calm as I pretended. Of course, out of that crowd of musicians and the 2000-strong audience, no one was aware of my drama but me, or perhaps maybe my stand partner.


Unlike poor David Warner who has television cameras and billions of fans dissecting his moment of challenge.

Bible mysteries


We’ve been watching a BBC/Discovery Channel co-pro series called Bible Mysteries, available on YouTube, and getting both stimulated and frustrated. I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was young, and it’s been a treat to see the variety of archaeological disciplines (an Egyptologist who specializes in sleep and dreams!). Always, though, when I see the hard work of bending down to the ground in the hot sun to chip, and scrape and brush away at dirt I realize I would never have been happy there.

Different teams work on each episode and some are more satisfying than others. I find myself perched on an edge between action and inaction. I’m often interested and challenged enough to want to read the source documents myself and with the internet, it’s not hard to find, say, an English translation of the Nag Hammadi texts. But actually reading them, I find myself quickly bored, unable to spot the details or discrepancies that were so intriguing in the documentary.

I think part of that effect is lack of knowledge. I remember really studying one moment in Canadian political history in 1926 – the King-Byng affair. I plotted out events almost hour by hour and was so fascinated that every time I found out something new, it made me want to time travel to experience it myself. It was the depth of understanding, I think, that led to my mini-obsession.

Nowadays, zillions of things vie for my attention span, and I’m not as willing to devote time to passing fancies when my main interests like music, or beading, demand time.

I’ve enjoyed the skill of the producers making these events understandable and exciting enough for me to want to follow up. And I would dearly love to know more about the 7 women disciples of Jesus. Hopefully, they’ll make another documentary.

responsibilities of a fan

Trying to keep up with the Pepsi IPL cricket tournament is a heavy responsibility for a fan!


There’s at least one game every day and often two. For us here in Canada, the games are broadcast in the mornings. It’s easier for Nick to keep up as he’s home all day, but if it’s a work day for me, I could see one game on the two-game days, but only if I give up some sleep and some studio time. We subscribe to Willow on the internet and luckily they archive the games. When I get home, Nick will pick out the parts of the innings that were most interesting so I can keep up. One year we didn’t watch each day, deciding just to catch up on weekends. But you lose interest in the earlier games, as the teams’ positioning changes and the contest focuses on different players or aspects.


It can be fun to watch games from earlier years and see how teams differed. I always notice the changes in how graphics are presented and of course, the outfits of the cheer girls!  I find, though, sport is definitely of the moment. Watching Malinga bowl his accurate yorkers is astonishing whenever you see him, but it is especially gripping when the outcome of a game hangs in the balance, and you don’t know the outcome.


Many times in previous years, Nick and I couldn’t stomach the suspense. We really wanted some teams to win and fell into an unpleasantly despondent mood if they lost. This year, we seem to be made of sterner stuff, and have been eagerly watching each contest. I wonder if it’s because there are more and more players we like on each team, so the winner/loser thing doesn’t count for as much. Losing is still painful, but it’s bearable. And that’s just as a fan, thousands of miles away. It must be unbelievably intense for the players themselves.