Sweet Dreams

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(  My first attempt at poetry )

The Easter Bunny came to me
With dreams of chocolate ecstasy
Shuddering and groaning in the night
My body racked with sweet delight
But my dreams were quickly spent
When I realized it was still Lent

 

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I love chocolate.
So should you.
Milk chocolate,
Dark chocolate.
It’s good for you, too.

Chocolate cake,
Chocolate candy,
Chocolate pie.
Take away my chocolate
And I might die.

White chocolate,
Hot chocolate,
Even chocolate soup…
Any chocolate lover knows
Chocolate is a food group.

Rich Reitz

Helen and Irene

 

 

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St.Michael’s was a modern church its minimalist design aiming to appeal to a more youthful generation of church goers. Thin slices of onyx, replaced the more traditional stain glass windows. This allowed the sun light that shone through to be dispersed, filling the whole church with light. No images of saints resided here.  Colourful and airy paper sculptures floated down from the church ceiling to give the illusion of angels floating through the sky. An illuminated cross dominated the front of the church sans the crucified saviour. A lone figure sat contemplatively in the front row.

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Helen liked to escape to St. Michaels, its beauty, silence and tranquility restoring her being. She was a writer for a fashion magazine and was constantly trying to keep up with deadlines and fashion trends. She loved beautiful clothes and today was wearing Diane Von Furstenberg . The v neck, solid blue,  knee length dress perfectly complimented her 5’8” slim figure. She had a guilty secret laying beneath her dress. One lonely Wednesday morning she was pushed to do something daring and so decided to acquire a tattoo. Locating a clean, respectable looking tattoo parlour she had a china tea pot with two tiny tea cups engraved on her right shoulder. She also had the word Wedgewood italicised just below the tea cups. Helen had refined taste. Her husband Jordan was absent a lot, his job as vice president of a hedge fund causing him to be constantly on the move seeking the next big investment. She adored her two children, fourteen year old Max and ten year old Lauren and could refuse them nothing. She gave a deep sigh and tried to centre herself and forget the world for a moment.

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Was that a baby’s cry she heard.  She felt a surge of irritation. For God’s sake doesn’t the mother know this is a place of prayer and contemplation and not a place for a baby’s howls. Helen tried to compose herself but her peaceful mood was broken, the baby’s persistent cry grating her nerves. She glanced at her watch and noting it was 9:20 p.m.  decided to pick up her daughter from dance lessons. She passed the haggard looking mother rocking her five month old baby back and forth and gave her a withering look.

After picking Lauren up from dance she proceeded to the Soccer Dome to gather Max  from practice.  ” Can we go to Tim Horton’s ” queried Max as he entered the car, “I’m starving after soccer practice”. Helen just wanted to get home but not wanting to refuse Max she acquiesced and proceeded to the Tim Horton’s drive through. As usual there was a long line-up and Helen was tempted to just drive home but curbing her frustration she waited patiently.

Finally it was her turn to order and she waited in expectation for the server’s voice from the speaker.  But she was greeted with silence and it was a very long three minutes before a voice echoed, “Welcome to Tim Hortons how can I help you”. Helen ordered a chipotle cheddar chicken, potato wedges and chocolate chill for Max and just a chocolate chill for Lauren. She drove around to the pick up window where she again waited impatiently for her turn, her fingers continuously drumming the steering wheel of the car. Finally she was at the pick up window and received her order. She was just entering the parking lot at the front of Tim Hortons when she heard a shriek.  “It tastes like coffee” screamed Lauren, in a disgusted voice,  ” I can’t drink coffee I asked for chocolate”.    Helen’s whole being clenched as she shouted   ” For God’s sake can’t anyone do anything right” and grabbed the coffee from Lauren. In her haste she grabbed the top of the cup which caused the lid to fall , the contents distributing themselves evenly, on the inside of the car,  and Helen’s beautiful Von Furstenberg designer dress. Impotent with rage Helen whipped the car around and pulled into a parking spot in front of the door at Tim Hortons.

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Irene had just finished her shift at Walmart and was on her way by bus to Tim Hortons for her third job of the day. She was tired and hoped that it would be a quiet evening. She arrived at work to be greeted by the manager with ” We’re two short today so you’re gonna have to hustle”. Irene gave a deep sigh and went to change into her uniform.

Irene had become pregnant at seventeen, her last year of high school. Joe had told her how much he loved her and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. They had married in a registry office and one month after Richard was born Joe just disappeared without explanation. She never saw him again. She lived with her mother until she met Peter and married him after a year of dating. Richard, her son,  was seven years old when they married. She and Peter moved into a relatively cheap two bedroom apartment and were happy for a while. Two years later her daughter Teresa was born. It was shortly after that she found out Peter had been cheating on her. They had a violent quarrel and Peter walked out never to be seen again. Apparently he had no interest in children. Irene purchased all her clothes, second hand, at the Good Will store. She only wore pants never dresses, for she too had a guilty secret. She was usually too tired to shave her legs and the pants were the perfect cover.

That evening Irene was constantly on the go completing the customer’s orders,  moving between the front counter and the drive through window as circumstances dictated. It was a busy few hours with no breaks. A customer ordered an Iced Capp from the drive through and then a group of young teenagers started causing a disturbance at the front counter. She quickly went over and sorted out the disturbance. She than finally managed to speak through her headphones addressing the next customer, ” Welcome to Tim Hortons how can I help you”. She punched in a chipotle cheddar chicken with potato wedges and two chocolate chills and proceeded to fill the order. She placed the food by the drive through window and prepared one chocolate chill.  She saw a second cup by the window and asked Grace if she had prepared this. Grace said yes and so she placed the second cup with the current order and gave them to the customer. She then returned to the counter to greet the next customer who she quickly served. She looked up and saw a very fashionable woman with a stain down the front of her dress striding towards the counter.

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” I want to speak to the manager” Helen demanded, which prompted Irene to flutter to the back of the store to locate the manager Henry in his office. Henry was gathered and he led the way to the front to face an irate Helen. Helen and Henry went back and forth for about five minutes. There were accusations of incompetence and trying to poison a child with coffee,  followed by monetary demands for a new dress and a complete car detailing. Henry responded with spilling the drink in her car was Helen’s responsibility. The argument became circular and very tiring for both parties and no happy conclusion was reached. Helen stormed out of the store shouting that the franchise owners would be hearing from her with perhaps legal proceedings to follow. Helen was finally gone.An irate Henry now turned to Irene and accused her of not doing her job and upsetting customers. He vented his frustrations for a minute and then stalked back to his office. Irene fighting back tears continued with the business of a fast food franchise.

At last Irene’s shift was finished and she caught the last bus back to her apartment. She entered and noticed that the elevator was once again under repair and so commenced to drag herself up to her sixth floor apartment. She smelled the unmistakable tang of weed on the second floor and passed a group of teenagers with a case of beer, playing hip hop on the fourth. Entering her apartment she first checked on Richard and Teresa in their bunk beds. She then collapsed on the arm chair thinking she would just close her eyes for a minute. A minute later she was wrapped in an exhausted sleep, body twitching as the events of her late shift involving that formidable, fashionable lady played in her mind.

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Helen arrived home in an agitated state. After seeing Max and Lauren to their respective bedrooms she turned on the built in stereo sound system to play some soothing classical music. Entering her bedroom she escaped from the sodden dress and kicking it into the corner went to retrieve her night gown.  She proceeded to the living room poured herself a glass of red wine and started to relax, She still frowned as she thought about the crying baby and incompetent worker but the frown soon changed to a smile as she remembered the peace and tranquility of St. Michaels. She determined to forgive them as was her Christian duty and relaxed deeper into the chair.

 

 

 

 

“It’s 2018 for Gods sake”

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This week I have listened to three different politician’s answer a question with, ” It’s 2018 for Gods sake”. What is so special about 2018?  Does this year have some significant meaning that I have missed?  Is the lion laying down with the lamb?  A nice metaphor but it’s been my experience that the lion will always devour the lamb. Are swords being melted down to make ploughshares? Does peace and harmony reign between different jurisdictions?  Is 2018 the year the world’s population embraces the “Gaia Theory” and we all live in harmony with the environment?

Did some ancient Greek politician exclaim ” It’s 200BC for Zeus sake” just before the Romans conquered and the world changed?

Did some ancient Roman politician exclaim ” It’s 375AD for Jupiter’s sake” just before the Goths descended on Rome and the world entered the Dark Ages.

Explain to Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-In, Xi Jinping etc. etc.  etc. that we are in 2018 a new enlightened year. I would be interested in their response.

I was binge watching Jessica Jones on Netflix last night and consumed too much alcohol. My head is heavy.

 

 

 

Musings on a theme

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I’m typing my stick figured writing, trying to reach for Van Gogh. My art of writing turning into science as I build my sentence structure word by word. I pause. Where am I going with this stream of consciousness?

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I re-read the first two sentences, dragging up Lectio Divina in bible study from my Catholic past. The first stage is lectio (reading) slowly and reflectively so that it sinks into me. The second stage is meditatio (reflection) where I think about the text I have chosen and ruminate upon it. The third stage is oratio (response) where I leave my thinking aside and simply let my heart speak. The final stage of Lectio Divina is contemplatio (rest) where I let go not only of my own ideas, plans and meditations but also of my words and thoughts,  listen at the deepest level of my being to what the words have to say.

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My mind goes back to first year at St.Bernard’s Secondary School where my project in art class was to paint a beach scene. I painted the whole canvass yellow and then drew a multitude of stick figures on the yellow background. I received a c- with the comment ” I was expecting more from you Leonard”.

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Shall I write a story about Van Gogh drawing a stick figure and wishing upon a star to bring it to life. I decided against it, not wishing to be sued by Disney for plagiarism.

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What is the difference between science and art?Doesn’t everything originate in the brain and so is to be studied and quantified and rationalized. Or is there something else? Spiritual awakening,  awareness  of being,  transcendence, do we have a soul or just a brain?

It’s been 24 days since I started on this new adventure, my new chapter in the book of life, and I’m still enjoying the experience. It does make you think a little more. Ouch!

Basement Art

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I was paying our restaurant bill, inserting my credit card into the POS machine, with the waitress waiting patiently at the side. I started some small talk with her while waiting for the POS machine to go through it’s machine process. I live in a university city, so the first question that came to mind was, “Are you a student” . The answer was a smiling “No”.   I then said, “Is this your full time job” and the answer was a smiling “Yes”. Absorbing this information, I further queried “What is it you like to do when you are not waitressing”. She hesitated a moment before replying, “I like to draw and paint”.    We entered into a conversation and she further explained that she had started an artist’s evening in the restaurant. People would gather in the restaurant for a meal, share ideas and then create their works of art around the evenings theme.

I mentioned that I had been thinking of having a mural painted on my basement wall.  I have some knights on tables in the basement and wooden training swords hanging on the wall and thought it would be nice to enhance this with a mural of a castle. I explained that my vision was a castle on a hill, with a stream nearby and some trees and flowers. Would she be interested in taking on this project. Her word’s came out in a confused rush, “I’m really not that good, I’ve only painted on 8.5′ x 11″ canvass, I couldn’t possibly do it justice. I really don’t think I can do it, sorry”.  We ended up exchanging email addresses, because, I had talked her into at least letting me send her a photo of the basement wall so she would have an idea of the dimensions. It took two months of back and forth before she eventually agreed to take on the project. I enquired how much she would charge for the project and she replied, ” I couldn’t possibly ask for money, thank you for allowing me to express myself on a larger canvass”. I gave her money to purchase all the supplies she needed to complete the project and she was very happy with that arrangement. She worked at her art for about four hours a week over a couple of months and the results can be seen above. She shared that she had really enjoyed the project and it had expanded her horizons as to what was possible. Soon after she was called away to a family emergency and we lost touch.

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The above is a print hanging in my basement. Christ of St. John of the Cross by Salvador Dali (1904-1989).

One dark night,

Fired with love’s urgent longings

I went out unseen,

My house being now all stilled;

( a song of the soul’s happiness in passing through the dark night)

 

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Rose Meditative by Salvador Dali hanging on the wall in my basement.

Blue Roses by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Roses red and roses white
Plucked I for my love’s delight.
She would none of all my posies–
Bade me gather her blue roses.

Half the world I wandered through,
Seeking where such flowers grew.
Half the world unto my quest
Answered me with laugh and jest.

Home I came at wintertide,
But my silly love had died
Seeking with her latest breath
Roses from the arms of Death.

It may be beyond the grave
She shall find what she would have.
Mine was but an idle quest–

Roses white and red are best!

 

Awakening

via Daily Prompt: Invisible

 

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Richard lay awake, in the top half of his bunk bed, listening to the soft snoring sighs of his five year old sister Theresa in the bunk beneath. He lay invisible in the night listening to the creaks and groans of his sixth floor apartment. He heard the rustle of a mouse scurrying across the floor in search of crumbs. He heard a police siren wailing out its tune and the general buzz of traffic in the streets below. He was restless, sleep hard to come by and his mind wandered. He started thinking about the book he had just read.

He had started reading Voltaire, the cynicism and satire suiting his fourteen year old teenage angst. He had thoroughly enjoyed Candide and was currently reading a collection of Voltaire’s short stories. One in particular, concerning Micromegas, an inhabitant of a planet 21 million times the circumference of earth. Micromegas is 120,000 ft. tall and is expected to live for 10 million years. On his way to tour our solar system he stops off on Venus and befriends a dwarf who is only 6,000 ft. tall.  Micromegas lands on earth and decides its devoid of life but his dwarf friend spots movement and so enter into a dialogue with its inhabitants, who happen to be a group of philosophers. Micromegas asks how humans can possibly see value in their lives, it’s so short, only about 70 years compared to his 10 million years and they are less than insects compared to his height.  And so the discussion continues in this vein, though Micromegas is eventually impressed that humans have some kind of intelligence.

Richard’s mind changed direction and he started thinking how the sun would burn itself out in five billion years and what would happen to earths inhabitants then. What was the point of it all if even earth would no longer exist in the future. With these disturbing thoughts swirling in his head he drifted in restless sleep.

Morning came and responsibilities beckoned. He jumped to the floor and shook Theresa, gently urging her to get up, it was time for school. He then wandered into the living room where he spied his mother passed out on the couch fully clothed. She had worked the late shift at Tim Hortons and so had probably arrived home at 1:00 a.m. She had three part time jobs to support her family, her second husband having deserted her when she was pregnant with Theresa. He poured cornflakes for himself and Theresa and placed the bowls on the table. He looked in the fridge and was happy to find that his mother had bought a grilled chicken, bacon, ranch wrap from Tim Hortons for his lunch. Soon he and Theresa were off on their 20 minute walk to school.

He dropped Theresa off at the senior kindergarten play pen and proceeded to the part of the school that was under grade eight control. He passed Stephanie on the way but he was invisible to her as she chatted idly with her two friends. He sighed, why did people have to use their mouths to communicate, when it would be so much easier to communicate with your mind. Richard was shy and sensitive and didn’t communicate easily,  thinking he would just be making a fool of himself. He lacked confidence and was embarrassed when he became the centre of attention. His fondest fantasy was of donning an invisibility cloak and disappearing at will. He liked to think of himself as an observer of life and didn’t like to get involved in other students affairs. He just watched as they went about their lives.

At first recess he was standing by the fence watching Stephanie as she awaited arrival of her friends. He tried not to be too obvious in his staring. He liked Stephanie, she was quiet and low key, not loud and giggly like most of the girls, and she was attractive. He then observed Thomas striding purposely toward her. The bully Thomas.  The Thomas who Richard was constantly in fear of, hiding behind lockers or jumping into empty classrooms when he saw him stalking the school’s hallways.  He further observed that Thomas was making a nuisance of himself by darting his upper body forward in Stephanie’s direction while she flinched away. Stephanie had backed away until meeting the fences resistance she could go no further. Thomas continued to hound her and now Stephanie was gesturing angrily at him.

Before he knew what was happening Richard found his feet moving, without conscious thought, towards Stephanie and Thomas.    He heard a voice shouting, “leave her alone” and was surprised to find that it was his.     Thomas turned to face him, ” get lost you turd, this is none of your business”.   Richard, trembling  stood his ground as Thomas started to advance towards him, ” are you deaf, you’re not wanted here. You looking for trouble? “.  Thomas took another step towards Richard and Richard was about to take a step back when a thought flashed through his mind. He remembered two years previous when he had watched a puppy training program on TV. The instructor had noted that the puppy was always trying to gain dominance and if he attempted to bite the natural instinct was for the owner to step away. This would be a mistake as the puppy would then gain dominance and continue to be unruly. The owner should step towards the puppy occupying its space and thus exert their dominance. Thomas was definitely not a puppy, but he was trying to exert dominance so Richard instead of giving ground stepped forward. They were of equal height and both stared unflinchingly into each others eyes. Their gaze held for about ten seconds when Thomas laughed, ” you’re a pair of losers. I’ve got no time for this” and he stalked away.

Stephanie looked at Richard seeing him for the first time. In that moment Richard discovered the secret to life. Accept responsibility for yourself in appearance and action, participate in life rather than be an observer, and try to do good. Richard understood that this was his time upon earth, he had value in this universe and should spend it trying to make the planet and its occupants a better place.

Where there is no love, put love, and then there will be love.

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)

Meditation-Day 6 + Spring

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You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann

Day six of meditation. I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable in the role, both mind and body. I ensure I go to the washroom before I start, my body does not invite me to scratch and my mind is not as noisy. I still get distracted by random thoughts, but they are quieter and not roaring for attention. One of the things I’m monitoring is whether meditation brings about a change in life style. I don’t feel any different. I still have the same “bad” habits, too much alcohol on the weekends, swearing at other drivers, tend towards impatience etc.etc.etc. Time will tell.

There are snippets of information, gleaned from a thousand read books, that are trapped in my mind. I remember reading an article by Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk  ( 1915-  1968 ) He talked about interaction in our lives. If there was just me, with my own thought processes, with no one to bounce ideas from I would be constrained by my own limited knowledge. Brooding on a pebble of a problem soon becomes a mountain of a problem. Though it is still a pebble. When I interact with other people there is a refining of my thought process, where I receive new information and either accept or reject it, and so my thoughts are reshaped. When I bring God into the equation it adds a new dimension to the way I think and perceive the world. I say this because when I meditate I try to make God part of the equation. God being the first cause , the creator of the universe with all its wonders and complexities, including us.

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I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

William Wordsworth.

Spring is here, FINALLY. Hurray !  Jump for joy, feel the change. Though it’s still cold outside there is a feeling of optimism, new beginnings.  I love this part of the year from March 20 to June 21, as the days embrace the light and Mother Nature crowns this part of the earth in glory. The sun is shining today, I’m off for a walk, maybe I’ll actually see some daffodils.