Saturday, December 6, 2014

Re-Post 'Spirits of Christmas' from Dec. 12,2013

Christmas trees are a favourite of mine.
From the big, full Christmas trees decorated tastefully to
the Charlie Brown Christmas trees decorated with nostalgia.
(My Christmas trees are usually of the Charlie Brown variety.)
In reality each year, they all are a comforting gathering place for family mementoes.
My camera technique fits in with the Charlie Brown nature of this little gathering.
Decorations, wrapping, cards not yet written and a few gifts cover my dining room table.
Preparing for Christmas has in the past been a time of great sorrow.
Today, honouring those gone before allows these festive preparations to be uplifting.

“Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year ~
and yet, for all that, when it speaks, it’s voice has strong authority.”
~ W.J.Cameron

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ho! Ho! Help Me!!

Ho! Ho! Help me!!
The gruff voice came from the chimney - which was really weird because we had a gas fireplace with no open chimney. The other piece of weirdness was the Irish accent that went along with the ‘no chimney.’  But not wanting to be accused of hearing voices, I walked nonchalantly over to the fireplace. The fireplace that threw it’s gas fire warmth into a fan and then into the small living room cluttered with Christmas decorations and gifts. The gruffness of the voice from the chimney seemed muffled as I approached. ‘Ho Ho Ho! Help me!’ Was the owner of that voice suffocating? And how could I help if I didn’t know how to even find it’s owner?! Then startled, I just about jumped out of my slippers! The Irish accent bellowed at me - ‘Would ya‘ quit standin‘ there lookin‘ confused and help me!‘ The owner of the voice certainly hadn’t suffocated. Our stockings, all eleven of them, had been hung the night before, lined up from the largest to smallest. On each one was a reindeer or a puppie or a kitten. Except for the one at the far end of the mantel. The smallest stocking. I was standing right beside it when that voice had boomed at me.

Then the little green stocking swayed. I looked at it. I took off my glasses and looked again. A very angry looking leprechaun was tangled in the white edging at the top of the little stocking. He looked at me and repeated - ‘Would ya’ please help me get untangled. I’m not supposed to be here until March, but I got caught up in some Magical Spirit of Christmas Powder and landed on this silly stocking.’

I quickly helped him out of the tangle that he was in. For the rest of the Christmas season, the golden string on the leprechaun’s cap was looped over the golden hook at the mantel. The not so gruff leprechaun became a friend to the family and a regular Christmas decoration. Every year, he returned in March for St. Patrick’s Day.

“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”
~ Charles M. Schulz

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Slow and Steady

It grew as spirit ~ a flame
birthed from an ember.
In early years the flame glowed bright but flickered.

Then in years that passed
the fire remained constant
never burning high or burning low

Giving off warmth ~
not the flames primary purpose.
Light, also not a primary purpose.

The purpose of spirit?
To hold and stay the heat of passion within
To focus steady passion in actions without

It grew as Spirit ~ a flame
tended and protected, yet
running wild with ideas and curiosity

Until, in years that moved forward,
still burning from an ember long ago,
the fire glowed brighter but steadied

“From a little spark may burst a flame.”
Dante Alighieri

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Spoken Words

Short story is possibly the best part of memory. Painting vignettes of family gatherings for children and grandchildren to see from the eyes that were there. Illumination of past reality from long ago brings joy or laughter, as well as toil and trouble, into the here and now. Remembering the brown knit stockings at the mantel on Christmas eve; eyes wide in the morning when that flat emptiness was filled with nuts and an orange in the toe. Intrigue and excitement with each present unwrapped and examined in early morning before mom and dad arrived to scoot us upstairs to get dressed. The stories of our families, and traditions that passed out of our lives as we grew up and away, stay in hearts and minds, shared by oral tradition and love.

“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel,
but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”
~ Ursula le Guin

Monday, December 1, 2014

World AIDS Day - An Essay

On October 27, 1988, the United Nations General Assembly officially recognized that the World Health Organization declare December 1, 1988, to be World AIDS Day. 

AIDS -  Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It is caused by the human immune system being depleted of it’s cells by HIV. 

HIV - Human Immunodeficiency Virus

The first patient that I cared for, diagnosed with AIDS, was in 1985 while I was still in Regina. The AIDS fear was palpable at that time among the populations and thus among nursing staff. The young man, our patient, was only 21 years old and terrified. He didn’t stay on our unit long as he was transferred out to a hospital in Ontario where this newly discovered disease could be treated. I don’t know what happened to him, however I do remember one of our nurses was so frightened that she would not care for him unless she was completely gowned, gloved, wore a mask and cloth boots over her shoes.

Fast forward to the present. I have had many patients and clients over the years with HIV. Gloves and gowns are no longer required in all instances. Most people are treated with a variety of different anteretroviral drugs. Viral loads and CD4 counts are monitored through blood tests to ensure that the client with HIV is not converting to AIDS. When AIDS develops, the potential for severe and awful infections multiplies and the client ultimately, and very sadly, succumbs horribly to one or several infections. Many, however, live long healthy lives. On CBC yesterday, a news reports said that one of these antiretroviral drugs can be used prophylactically as a preventative measure. This research is still in early stages.

The spirit of stigma remains, and the spirit of survival remains despite stigma. The spirit of curiosity also remains and grows because this auto immune condition also remains and continues to grow. Researchers, physicians, nurses, the afflicted and many, many workers and volunteers continue to work to ensure the survival of body, mind and spirit.

 “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will 
survive but those who can best manage change.”
~ Charles Darwin

AIDS Vancouver Island, or AVI, offers those with HIV/AIDS many forms of assistance

Canada AIDS  Society - a coalition of community-based AIDS organizations

Sunday, November 30, 2014

An Evening with Tom Jackson - The Huron Carole

Beginning the Christmas season with The Huron Carole was a delight. Tom Jackson, Winnipeg born Canadian actor, singer, producer and activist, and his singers and band entertained a full house at the Royal Theatre on Broughton Street with familiar carols in innovative arrangements. He took the stage for the first half of the evening, joined gradually by the remainder of the cast. The last half of the evening was shared by the rest of the cast, including two west coast girls, Britt and Carly McKillip. The energy and talent of all the entertainers was joyous and moving.

The entire evening was a fundraiser for the Mustard Seed Society a local and very vital organization for the homeless and hungry in Victoria. The Huron Carole is a project to support organizations of front line workers with the homeless and hungry in Canada. He and his troupes have raised over two hundred million dollars in their musical Christmas travels.

This evening was the first of their annual Canadian tour which Tom Jackson began in 1987 in Toronto at a ‘dark time’ in his life. They will be travelling through western Canada with their next stop in Lethbridge, Alberta on December 2, 2014. Go to for more dates that continue through December 18, 2014 for a total of twelve dates.

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we 
have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
~ Albert Pike