Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Naked Man

A friend is marrying the guy who supposedly played “the naked man” on “How I Met Your Mother”, so I spent some time Googling to see what I could learn about him. I found a synopsis of the episode: Ted hears about a "move", “The Naked Man”, where one takes advantage of a distraction in order to shed their clothing and surprise their date with nakedness in the hope of receiving sex by means of humor, pity or sheer spontaneity. As for seeing the husband-to-be, I couldn't find any images of him, clothed or naked, but I did see his name listed in the “Cast and Credits” for "The Naked Man" episode.

Today was a glorious day in Ottawa, and therefore finally the day to bring my bicycle out of storage. All the workouts at the gym have paid off, because I was able to peddle for an hour and a half with enthusiasm and no complaining muscles, up one side of the Rideau River, across it at Ottawa U. and over to the canal, then north to Bank Street, where I finally began to feel a bit tired and turned for home.

As I coasted down Cumberland Street, approaching the final block, two police cars raced by, sirens screaming, turning to meet three others who were gathered in front of my building. And there he was: The Naked Man! This one was apparently quite drunk, but now I wonder if I'm supposed to love Ted. I'll never know, because it seems to me that my life is much more interesting than television.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Thursday night when I should have been sleeping, the Night Demons were racing around in my head, leading me to thoughts too ridiculous for daytime pondering. Among them entered POTUS. 

The first time I saw that one, I was initially stumped, but after awhile (and noting the context), I realized that this is Internet-speak for “President Of The U.S.” Now I like the occasional LOL, OMG and WTF, but this POTUS thing irritated me, probably because I happen to respect our current president. It also annoyed me because I am a lover of language and words, and typing the fourteen letters that spell “President Obama” - which is only nine more than POTUS - does not seem like much to expect. Coincidentally, CBC News reported today that Winnepeg researchers have noted a link between shallowness of intellect and texting. They say it is not clear whether texting causes shallowness or shallow people text a lot, but they have found that there is definitely a correlation.

The Night Demons had their way with me despite my efforts to settle my brain, inhale through my feet, place my aggravations on an imaginary paper boat and watch them float away down a stream, so I came up with some useful abbreviations of my own which I submit to you:

MOTUS - - Mavens Of The U.S.
IOTUS - - Intellectuals Of The U.S.
LOTUS - - Lefties Of The U.S.
TROTUS - - The Rest Of The U.S.
SCROTUM - - Student Council Retirees Of The University of Minnesota
NOTUS - - Nitwits Of The U.S., of which I must be one because I took the time to even think about this.

Although I tried, I could not think of an apt acronym for COITUS or ACIDOPHYLUS.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The Sunday Funnies

Easter just passed and then April Fool's day, but winter is still hanging around.  Maple sugaring is slow and late this year, too.

When I was a child, I used to go to church with my family.  During my grade-school years we went often, but we weren't regulars.  In her youth, my mother had been well steeped in fundamentalism and harbored a somewhat weakened but nonetheless tenacious fear of what happens to non-believers in The Afterlife.  Church was a quiet accommodation my agnostic father made for her.  I liked the music, especially Mrs. DeWispelaere's and Mrs. Deuel's voices, and I actually have fond, though now somewhat wry memories of pretty pastel dresses and white gloves and the holy, righteous feeling that everyone had on Easter Sunday after the singing of "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" and the minister's final blessing.

If age teaches you anything, it is that things change.  As far as I know, the same hymns are being sung in celebration of The Resurrection, and the same holy righteous feelings are being felt by the believers today, but the Easter bonnets and white gloves are gone.  What's "gone" is less interesting than what seems to have been added.

My grandson visited on Sunday afternoon and was eager to tell us the "joke" told earlier in the day from the Methodist pulpit:  The kids in Sunday School were asked if they wanted to go to Heaven.  There was a chorus of enthusiastic eagerness - with one lone exception.  "Johnny," asked the teacher, "don't YOU want to go to heaven?"  Johnny thought for a couple of seconds, then replied, "I'd like to, but my mom said I have to come straight home after church."

Meanwhile, according to a friend, the Unitarian Universalists a couple of blocks away were also yucking it up:  During Sunday School, the teacher asks the class, "Can you tell us what happened on Easter?"  One kid responds, "Easter is when Jesus was born."  Another (in good U.U. form) insisted that Easter is when the flowers bloom.  Finally, one very precocious kid says, "Easter is the day when, after he had been crucified and then placed in a tomb, on the third day, Jesus rolled back the stone... Then he walked outside and saw his shadow, so we have six more weeks of winter."

And so, I imagine that the faithful Methodists left the church with that same good feeling I once had, albeit with a chuckle rather than a sort of momentary piety.  The U.U's, on the other hand, gained a better understanding of why this winter just won't go away.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Never Dare a Redhead

When my mother was a kid attending a 1-room schoolhouse, she was in a pageant or show put on for the parents.  Her part was to be a woman in a sewing circle, and the "ladies" in the circle each had lines that rhymed.  My mother's started thus:  "Mrs. Kay the other day had the audacity to say... 'tis a common supposition that one in her position...", and the gist of it was that someone had made an unkind reference to her age.  My mother's brother bet her A QUARTER(!) that she didn't have the nerve to change her lines.  

On the night of the show, he was standing on a chair against the wall opposite the performers when my mother looked him square in the eye and said what he'd bet her she didn't have the nerve to say:  "Mrs. Kay the other day had the audacity to say THAT MY FACE LOOKED LIKE IT WORE OUT THREE BODIES."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Yes, But You Don't Go!

Anyone familiar with the "Go ye Heroes" song from Pirates of Penzance? The women sing words of cheer to the men marching off to war: 

MABEL: Go, ye heroes, go to glory, 
Though you die in combat gory, 
Ye shall live in song and story. 
Go to immortality!
Go to death, and go to slaughter;
Die, and every Cornish daughter
With her tears your grave shall water.
Go, ye heroes, go and die!

GIRLS: Go, ye heroes, go and die! Go, ye heroes, go and die!

Meanwhile, the men start marching off to war... but make a U-turn around the town fountain and march back to the women... who keep singing cheerfully about them heading off to die. So off they go again, only to make the same U-turn and return, obviously not as enthusiastic about their bloody demise as the women seem to be. After about three times around the fountain, AND THE WOMEN EXCLAIMING, "YES, BUT YOU DON'T GO," they finally do march off the stage - as the women sing "At last they go, at last they go!!!"


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Black Smoke Rising

Maybe if I were Catholic I would "get it" regarding the selection of a new Pope, but I'm not, and the whole ritual and hoopla seem to me to be relics of ancient history. Black smoke just rose from the Sistine Chapel! The first time I saw that "news", I thought, "How awful! The Sistine Chapel is on fire!" But apparently not. It's just the other half of the duo, Smoke and Mirrors. On balance, has Catholicism (or any major religion, for that matter) been a force for good in the world, or an excuse to change the lives of those who think differently? 

Of course there are many wonderful people of the Catholic faith, just as there are many wonderful Muslims and Hindus and Jews and Animists and Shintos and Rastafarians and Jains. As for me, religion pretty much boils down to the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Although the members of a church can provide a very positive social and support group, I don't need a church, and certainly not a males-only-need-apply pope.

This isn't intended to pi** off my Catholic Friends. It's just my personal opinion. Find comfort and guidance wherever you believe it is, but always remember The Golden Rule.


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

 To the Editor

"Thomas Jefferson described our inalienable rights as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  I do not think the order of those important words was haphazard and casual. The liberty of any person to own a military assault weapon and high-capacity magazine and to keep them in their home is second to the right of my son to his life."  This was spoken by Dave Wheeler, whose son Benjamin died at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14th.

No one is talking about taking away hunting rifles, and yet the NRA has convinced reasonable, sane people that this is what's on the anti-gun violence agenda.

It's time for intelligent sportsmen to open their eyes, think, and speak out against the madness of owning military assault weapons.  You don't use them to hunt.  I have listened to the opinions regarding "anti-gun" legislation, and I haven't seen anything that made me believe the pro-gun sentiments are based on fact, common sense or open-minded reason.

Stop lapping up the propaganda of the folks who want to earn more money from paranoid gun-buyers and start thinking for yourselves.  Prove to me that you're smart enough to be a responsible hunter.  Most of you are not those who equate the deadliness of their firearm with the size of their dick, so be men and stop being suckers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Waiting.  We wait for a bus, for a vacation, for the end of the movie, for word, for forgiveness, and in my case, for forty-two years.

I was twenty-five that morning when I dropped my daughter off at my parents home on my way to work and my mother greeted me with a look of stricken grief and an outstretched hand in which she held a small newspaper clipping.  From the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle's Op-Ed page, it was a brief letter to the editor from a healthcare worker blowing the whistle on the high incidence of thyroid cancer linked to the 'miracle cure' of x-rays administered twenty years earlier to patients in the Rochester area to treat neck, throat and face ailments.  As I read, the world turned from color to grayscale and I felt as though my eyes were seeing the printed words through a tunnel.  My stomach turned and I had to sit down.  I could see the doctor's face, feel the lead shields on my eyes again.

My mother cried as she told me how sorry she was, that she didn't know, and that if they hadn't radiated my adenoids to shrink them, I would probably have gone deaf.  And there it was.  Not only was there the radiation to treat acne that I remember from my teens, but another potentially cancer-causing dose when I was four years old that I had never even heard about.  Had I been older, maybe I'd have taken this news with a little more equanimity, but as a single, working mother still trying to feel comfortable with adult responsibilities, it walloped me blindside.  

Tests, examinations and scans followed, and no abnormalities were found.  This vigilance continued yearly for the next 37 years, my mind eventually reassured by the fact that the onset of this cancer generally occurs within twenty years of the radiation date.    At 24, I had already passed that mark for my first exposure; at 35 I passed the second, and although I felt somewhat out of the woods, I continued to have yearly blood tests and physical exams.

Eventually my thyroid began to increase in size and get lumpy, even though functioning properly, and I was referred to a new endocrinologist who performed yearly ultrasounds on it - the same doc using the same machine each time.

"It's big, it's ratty, come back in a year," was what he'd say.  And I would.

And then, this fall, the pronouncement:  "It's big, it's bumpy, your thyroxin levels are normal, but I DON'T LIKE IT.  It needs to come out."

Two months later I write this with a grin that just doesn't want to go away.  That "ratty", big, properly-functioning gland came out two weeks ago, and it contained a very tiny (4mm) papillary carcinoma - the cancer most commonly caused by radiation.  It's gone, removed, done with.  It's so strange to feel elation over the loss of a functioning body part, but that is what I feel.  

I wish I could tell my mother that she did the right thing when she accepted the radiation treatment for me, a decision she mourned deeply.  I'm so grateful for all the years I have sung and listened to music, for being able to hear my friends and loved ones and the natural sounds around me.  I am so grateful to the medical team that brought me through this surgery at precisely the right time and finally vanquished the shadowy devil from my subconscious.  My wait is finally over.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


FaceBook.  FB.  Time-sucking, discount-store blog.  "Friends" you've never met on the outside of a screen feel your pain and share your excitements with a simple click; causes and politicians can be supported with the touch of "Share".  Surely this is Nirvana.

I used to blog regularly, at times doing the literary equivalent of attending Black Friday sales in the wee hours, searching for the perfect word or turn of phrase to complete the day's post.  Now, through FaceBook, I take on the evils of real Black Friday with a mighty click.  Climate change:  Click!  GMO crops:  Click!  Romney's dog on the car roof?  Click!  Click. Click. Click!  

Back in the real world, there's an insect for that, although the Click Beetle's clicking tends to scare off predators because of its sound and action, not its support of causes.  The mechanism is a spine on the prosternum which snaps into a corresponding notch on the mesosternum.  Not only does it create a clicking sound, but it can bounce the beetle into the air, so it's useful when the critter is on its back and needs to right itself.  Evolution has not yet provided our click beetle with an "Unfriend" button.

                                                It was Karan Cross of who "got me on FaceBook," as they say.  As anyone who sells handmade items will tell you, social networking is a way to spread the news of what you are creating, and, being a smart dealer, Karan made it easy for me to try the drug.   It quickly progressed to being the first thing I do each morning with subsequent fixes throughout the day.  The personal page was soon supplemented by a Wizened Eye Photography page.  If you want people to "Like" your art, it isn't necessarily good to mix personal observations, loves and hates with the more dignified artistic self you wish others to see...  Or, put more succinctly, I soon had two f***ing FB pages to manage.

Inevitably, the question "Why?" arises.  I sip my morning coffee and click to see what's new.  A high school classmate posts a new photo of her granddaughter, stunningly beautiful and sparkling with personality.  Click!  A distant neighbor describes a morning's activity in Ireland. Click!  A cartoon makes me laugh out loud (or, more precisely, LOL).  Click!  A new painting is unveiled, a hand-crafted silver bracelet displayed, a haiku shared.  Click, click click!  Awareness of someone's need or illness is made.  A dinner recipe tempts me.  Whispers and shouts from around the world, taken in nibbles that I swallow- or left as crumbs on a plate for other scavengers of cyberspace to forage.

And so, although it doesn't fend off enemies or right me when I'm on my back, like the beetle, I'll keep on clicking.  My FaceBook friends, thank you for being a part of my life.  This post's for you.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Northern Angels

These days I am acquainted with many wonderful and amazing people because of my art.  In these artists there exists the possible, the unusual, the unique, the weird and the beautiful, expressed in form, movement, sound, image, rhyme and probably a dozen other sorts of vents for the fire within.  One such person is named Hope, and besides being a wonderful digital and photo artist, she is also a healer.  I learned this because I mentioned having to fit a volunteering commitment in around a health issue.

Holding a small mixed media sculpture in front of me, Hope asked me to place my hands on two blue stones which were intregal to the piece.  She held stones on the opposite side and closed her eyes.  As perhaps a minute passed, I could feel a slight tingling in my arms, and then she opened her eyes and smiled, saying it had worked and that she could also feel my energy coming back to her.

Twenty-two hours later I was standing in line to pay for a delicious plate of organic, vegetarian food at The Table restaurant in Ottawa's west end.  A young woman in front of me struck up conversation, as women will often do when sharing such a wait.  Her wavy, shoulder-length hair simply parted, she radiated a glow that didn't come from make-up, and she brought to mind a painting from a long-ago art history class.  Yes, the food is wonderful, no it isn't the first time I've eaten here.  "I'm excited because I think there are things here my grandson could eat!  He's allergic to lots of things; soy, dairy," I said.

"Do you mind if I pray for him?" she asked.

That statement somewhat startled me, but I don't think I let it show.  Good grief, I thought, another wack-o Christian, but I replied sure, if she'd like to.  I imagined she meant later, so it was quite surprising to hear her - still glowing and radiating that beautiful, peaceful smile - speaking words of blessing softly beside me.  Even more surprising was that no particular god or son thereof was being mentioned. 

"What is your name?" she asked, "Judy," I answered, and she ended her words of blessing with "and his grandmother, Judy, to whom he brings so much joy." 

And then she turned and walked away.

I joined my husband at a small table near the window and told him that I thought I had just met an angel. 

Were the encounters with these two women coincidence?  I'll never know, but they profoundly impressed me and gave me a great deal of food for thought. 

The painting posted here is Botticelli's Madonna.  I have not been able to find the image that came to my mind at The Table, but this one is similar to it and would be perfect if Madonna were radiantly smiling. 

My life is indeed blessed.  May prayers and healing be affirmed.