Tuesday, February 23, 2010

winter crazies

O.K. so the cartoon is about football and not hockey and it was me jumping up and down, yelling and groaning as I watched the Canada vs. US Olympic hockey game on Sunday night. I have to admit that I got a little emotionally invested in the game, one that has been touted as “our” game, “Canada’s” game during these Olympics. Pucks were flying and far too many of them were landing in the Canadian goal for my liking.

It was an amazing game to watch despite Canada’s loss. This is hockey as I remember it from my childhood. Full of fast play, solid clean checking; not the goon game it’s become – a combo wrestling/boxing free for all on ice with a bout of hockey breaking out now and then.

If only pro hockey could be this good. This is hockey I would watch all season!

It was passionate play. Passion, this is what the winter Olympics are all about. These athletes possess a passion to live life at the edge in winter. They rail against the boredom and inertia brought on by the long, cold nights and short, dreary days of this seemingly endless season.

Some kind of craziness seeps into their minds. This would have to be so. How else can one explain the desire to: whizz down a course full of mind boggling twists and turns head first on a sled barely big enough for an adult human being, or launch off the half pipe to a height of 35 feet, spinning and somersaulting all the way and land cat-like, feet first only to do it again and again, or be one of 4 competitors, shoulder to shoulder vying for lead position right out of the gate in the wild and crazy challenge that is snowboard and ski cross?

Passion, guts and phenomenal presence are displayed under the most unthinkable circumstances leaving the rest of us mere mortals in awe. Such was the case in the 2006 Olympics men’s aerials event when a skier flew into the air and lost not one, but both of his skis. When interviewed he recounted what his thoughts were during the (approximately) 3 seconds he was airborne.

It went something like (bear in mind I am paraphrasing from memory here), “Wow, there goes a ski…crumbs there goes the other one. Mmmm, I’m in a bit of trouble. Must land on my feet, but not too hard or I’ll break my ankles so I’ll have to slide a bit. Oh, and what the heck, while I’m up here I might as well complete the sequence I had planned.” (And, he did!)

I use this example when teaching meditation to illustrate just how many thoughts are possible within mere seconds – and these are the thoughts that he chose to enter his mind while others were howling for attention. What I, and most everyone else, would have thought goes something like this, “S***************T”! Just one long, sustained, 3 second, inner scream would echo in our minds as, paralyzed by fear, we plummet to the earth.

And, that’s why you and I are on the couch watching these insane, incredibly calm, smiley people (whether they do well or not, I’m amazed at what a great time the majority of the competitors seem to be having).

Yes, crazy but not without a sense of humour as well. What would the winter games be without the short track relay with all of the bum shoving used to propel team mates across the ice and in the 2 person bobsled where the last guy in runs like hell to get the thing up to speed only to jump in and curl up in a tiny ball with his head buried God knows where as they barrel down the course? Yup, I bet more than a few beers went into these ideas as well.

Ah, winter. It’s enough to make us behave like maniacs. Now I understand why people in warmer climes are so mellow. They don’t have the opportunity to get the winter crazies.
(cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 19991)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

tough cookies

The week long silence is broken
As he offers her this token
From his throne upon the couch
This mopey, grumpy, grouch

“The cookies you’ve been buying me are stale", he grumbles
As the cookie crumbles
From beneath furrowed brow
He wonders
What will she do now?

The cookie
A bird of peace
The dove
A token of her love

Moment of unease

Cool, calm, collected, as if unaffected.
She says steely eyed
“Don’t mope about, just throw them out”

Buy him more?
What is she, some kind of pimp or cookie whore?

A fresh gesture of love she’ll make?
Cookies from scratch she’ll bake…

For him?


“Buy them yourself.
Go to the store.”
(poem and photo - copyright N. Thacker 2010)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Terms of Endearment

FLIPPY the white one; MAYA the black one.
They are: my sweeties, my babies, my girls, the ladies, my honey bunnies (short form honey buns, singular honey bun), my sweetnesses, my buddies. Yes, I am talking about my fur factories, bags of purr (purr bags), my happy foot girls, my devil kitties – my cats Flippy and

Do you ever get this questionnaire - USING ONLY ONE WORD? sent to you? Friends send it to me on occasion with their responses to such burning questions as, “where is your cell phone?” You’re then supposed to delete their answers, fill in your own and send it back to them as well as other friends. Fun is supposed to ensue.

I do find the exercise an interesting revealer of character. For example, for the most part I find it impossible to use only one word. Why the heck should it be only one? Who says it has to be one? Oooooo - what’s going to happen if I write more than one word? It states in the introduction that it’s challenging to write only one word. O.K. fine but that’s not a challenge I want to take on. Mostly I write more than one word and have been unjustly accused of being an over achiever in doing so. I’m not an over achiever, just a rebel. I rebel against the forces of limitation!

My rebellion started when I was answering the question, “Names of your cats?”
That’s when aka started and I realized that it was easy to state the name of my husband in one word – ROD, but not so easy when speaking about FLIPPY and MAYA.

Flippy aka: Flippy Flippy, Fliplit, Poopy Butt Girl, the Hoover, my Big Beautiful Girl, Precious aka Princess, Baby Girl, Baby Kitty, Therapy Assistant, Therapy Kitty, the Greeter, Snaggle, Pink Noser

Maya aka: Maya Maya, M’ya, the Love Sponge, Spooky Girl, Batman Ears Kitty, the Opportunist, Wild Thing, Mama Maya, Sweet Tiny Perfection, Smooshy Girl, the Errant Pee’r, Oragami Kitty, Drip Catcher Girl

Why is that? Why does just the thought of them elicit so many terms of endearment? I think it’s due to unconditional love. I love them unconditionally just the way they love me. They can even barf (even the pre-fur ball barf) on my bed, which means I have to wash my duvet cover and risk a flood reminiscent of the big one that called for Noah to build the ark. But do I call them a**holes? Nope. “Little Shit” is the worst I can muster, but usually my response is more like this, “honey bun… what the hell? Do you have a fur ball coming on? Let go of that ol’ fur ball. You don’t need that thing. You’ll feel much better if you just hork it up.” And I just clean it up and continue loving them without a beat. I accept that they’re just cats being cats, nothing personal.

Wow, what if all my relationships could be like that? What if I didn’t take anything personally? That thought was a revelation to me. What would happen if instead of calling fellow drivers (or anyone else for that matter) who are aggravating me: a**hole! you dumb clot!, idiot!, dull tool!, moron!...(fill in your personal favourites here) I used, not in a patronizing way, mind you: sweetie, honey or baby…(fill in your personal faves here too)?
Well, I have been doing it for months now and you know what? It calms me down, makes me more patient and (dare I say it) I feel more loving in the process. Whether they know it or not, it’s working for me.

So, honey, sweetie, sugar pie have a great one!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


“Who knows what fantasy lurks in the minds of middle aged (Yes, I do plan on living to be 114. Thanks for asking.) aspiring writers everywhere? The Phantom Editor does!”
(Original source - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shadow)

Yes, fans it’s that time of year again (see this post entry). Actually the Phantom Editor, rather than waiting til spring, virtually helped me ring in the New Year with the promise of yet another imminent publishing date…There were just a few questions she had for me.

She did not ask me again what the purpose of life is, and for this I am grateful. Instead she wanted permission to omit certain statements which, she said, had been mentioned by others (whose fabulous lives really show their claims to be inarguable facts). She assured me that the new ending will make my story stronger and give it more impact and I have to agree.

But the choice of subject matter under review and her timing was impeccable. How could she know that, contrary to my article’s original conclusion, I am feeling slightly discontented with my place in the world and that I am not as comfortable in my own skin as I claimed when I first wrote the piece? It’s uncanny and creepy. I’m beginning to feel like Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind; like the universe itself is asking me a big, “Are ya sure?”

Universe/Phantom Editor: “Are ya sure you feel content with your place in the world?”

Me: “Well no I’m not, at least not at the moment. I’m just a little off right now, but I’m sure I’ll come around soon.”

Universe/Phantom Editor: “But, you don’t feel 100% content right now, so your statement - how do you put it - “feeling content with my place in the world” isn’t in fact true. Is it?”

Me: “O.K. you’re right. But by the time this thing gets published I probably will be... No, I’m sure I will be.”

Universe/Phantom Editor: “Now, now sarcasm won’t help the matter. Let’s focus on the present, shall we? We’ll just strike that comment. Moving on now, you don’t really feel comfortable in your own skin either, do you?”

Me: “Who have you been speaking to? How do you know that? Not now. It’s a lot less firm than when I first wrote the article so I’m still adjusting ...”

Universe/Phantom Editor: tsk, tsk, tsk, “Excuses, excuses, that just won’t do, we’ll just omit that one too, shall we?” And I imagine someone dragging with relish, a big, black, indelible ink marker through the words I’d so carefully crafted and believed so deeply way back when.

Am I really communicating via e-mail, talking about an article first penned over 5 years ago about an experience I had when I was 16, with someone else or is it just a projection of my own mind?

I’m sure Rod’s beginning to think the latter and when he does indulge me in the possibility that she actually exists he’s sure she’s got some kind of seasonal thing like SAD that makes her play out the role of an obsessive editor of a book just ready to be published around this time of year.

Whatever’s going on, the surreal quality of the publishing world is freaking me out.

I do have reason to believe that she exists. In June of 2007 I was notified by e-mail that an article I’d submitted to a magazine in 2005 (and given up for dead) had been revived and had been published in their July issue. If I would give them my address they would send me a copy. I found this hard to believe as after months of work and enthusiastic, furious correspondence back and forth in early 2005, I never heard another word from them til that very day. So doubtful was I of the claim that I told no one about it til the magazine was in my hand and the check was in the bank.

And, I had set a goal to get a book published in my 57th year. It was supposed to be my book, not a piece in an anthology, but that’s close enough, so I am psyched up to believe.

But next year...well, that’s going to be a different story.

“The seed of desire bears bitter fruit. Desire does not pay…The Phantom Editor knows!”
(Original Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shadow)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

they walk away, they really do

my makeup essentials
When I was talking about our containers of controlled chaos with Candy the other day she said, “What do you mean, you have a lot of stuff? I don’t see it anywhere; your place is pretty clutter free.”

“That’s true,” I agreed.

But actually that’s a lie. Most of my stuff is controlled; corralled into closets, boxes, bins, and the laundry room – behind closed doors where no one dares to tread.

I’m finding that traces of clutter hide everywhere. It sneaks into crevices and ignored spaces when I’m not looking, which challenges my father’s words of wisdom (said in the most encouraging, authoritarian voice he could muster) “they didn’t just sprout legs and walk off somewhere.”

Apparently they do.

If the 3 lipsticks that I threw out last week were children, they’d be going through puberty right now; obsessing over boys and their weight. I understand that you should replace old cosmetics every few months; some crazy notion about makeup being a breeding ground for bacteria.

Pffft, ya right; a marketer’s ploy more like! My 3 yr old mascara has caused me no problems at all. I’ve used it about 12 times, like King Tutt it’s been virtually hermetically sealed.

Just a few months ago, in the interest of keeping my environment, as well as my face, fresh, I decided serious culling action was needed and I went at ‘er.

My makeup routine is a no brainer – lipstick, blush (cream and gel), and concealer. When I get real fancy, mascara, eyeliner and eye shadow get added to the mix. You’d think there wouldn’t be a lot to throw out. You’d think. Especially since makeup is not high up on my must have list.

I read women’s magazines in the check out line and at my hairdresser’s. The ads for makeup are so compelling and the pictures so convincing, aren’t they? Buy, buy, buy that latest age defying cream, the eye shadow that magically opens up your eyes, the eyeliner that gets rid of those red rims you’ve been genetically programmed for, or the mascara that creates lashes so full and long that Brooke Shields would be envious.

Each item I’ve bought has been tested and added to the bathroom shelf with my intention to make more effort in the appearance department but inevitably they've just gathered dust. Each new (new being a relative term) beautifier was a duplicate in terms of colour or function of the previous one.

Compared to most women, I don’t have a lot of makeup (this thought is the mine field rationalization that enables one to pull out the magic, plastic card), it’s just that I store it away for that “big night out”. And, when that night comes, what do I do? I put on my best jeans, shirt and earrings in lieu of cosmetics because, for one - its easier to slip on a pair of earrings than it is to paint myself beautiful, and two - it’s kind of like slight of hand – no, don’t look at her face, look over here, here at the pretty, shiny, sparkly things. In the looking good department distraction is my number one ploy.

What am I to do, my motto (a la Billy Crystal’s Fernando) is, “it’s better to feel good than to look good.” Pam (council member and style maven) proves that it is possible to feel good and look good at the same time, but alright I admit it, I’m too damn lazy, O.K.

So, lots has gone in the bin, but there’s that lovely professional quality powder brush that I can’t get rid of even though powder sinks into all the creases in my face freezing them there for posterity and for all to see. So, even though I’ve given up on powder long ago, the beautiful brush remains on my shelf; a taunting symbol of my youth gone by and reminder of purchases I’ll never make again.

makeup that I have that is less than
3 years old.

What you don't see on the counter anymore is: Bobbi Brown cream blush (which you can use on your eyelids or mouth too) in little pot - bought when I was in Vegas is about 5 years old. Smashbox O-gloss (lip gloss), Smashbox O-glow (gel blush) and Yves Saint Laurent touche (don't know how to make that thingy on top of the e) eclat highlighter (which I use as a concealer) - 3 years old, at least. Sad, isn't it?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cartoon Break

We women bust our asses, in a never ending attempt, to achieve the ideal figure – everything will be perfect then; then I can get my life together, then I’ll be worthy of love, we tell ourselves. We live in a culture where 80 year old ladies all over North America are still obsessed with the size of their “tummies”.

The premise of the cartoon was: what if some gorgeous (inside and out) guy really, really loved you for who you were and how you looked, and you were very far from the cultural ideal of thinness or beauty – would you believe it.

So, as often happens when I’m drawing a cartoon, with query in mind, I put it to the page, let the characters emerge and watch the story unfold. As the couple in question took form, I realized that they both were totally smitten with each other to the exclusion of everything around them. She was confident and proud of her body and he adored her and saw her as beautiful.

The real question that arose then was: what if some gorgeous (inside and out) guy really, really loved a fat, plain woman – could we, the viewing public believe it. Could we rise above our conditioning and accept the idea of beauty loving the beast?

At the time I was going out with a physically beautiful, 6’4” tall guy who dressed in the manner of a GQ cover guy. He looked like George Peppard in his Breakfast at Tiffany’s stage (not the A-team guy). I am 4’10” with an unremarkable appearance, and a tendency to casual attire - the type that gets lost in a crowd.

We had a great time in each other’s company. But, the looks we’d get from others radioed to me, “He’s going out with her?!! Surely he can do better than that!” When we went out to a restaurant I would have to command the waitresses’ attention, so taken were they by his attractiveness it was as if I was invisible.

The relationship didn’t last (thank God – he was absolutely not the guy for me for many other reasons) but for a while we had a lot of fun despite, or maybe even because of, the reactions of others.

As I write this I wonder about such a couple. Would they, over time, succumb to pervasive, subconscious, scrutiny and judgment? I’d like to think not.

So, I revisited these 2 characters in the panel and found that they got married shortly after they introduced themselves to me. They have 2 teenaged children and have faced many challenges, as does any couple married for over 23 years, but their commitment to each other has been, and continues to be, unwavering, as is their love which has grown and matured. He’s aged well, as they say and she is still fat, and plain but not to his adoring eyes – they remain as deeply infatuated with each other as when they first met.

“A fantasy,” you say.
“What makes you say that?” I ask.
For those of you who got on to my site earlier today you'd have seen a different commentary. I realized, after discussing the post matter with someone shortly afterwards, that I didn't really express myself very well and that I, and my characters, had more to say.
Cartoon copyright Nance Thacker '86.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Be Afraid Be Very Afraid

Last night I was so excited about my newfound skill at dropping an image into my blog that I wanted to share my delight with Rod. So I ambushed him while he was on the computer.

The conversation went something like this.

“So…have you checked out my blog yet?” (I’m a gentle ambusher.)

“No, I’m working on an estimate.” He says all serious-like. And, I see that this is so, there are no you tube videos of flying squirrels or banjo playing chickens animating the screen just an exciting array of doors with attendant price lists.

“What do you mean you haven’t checked it out? You’re a fan aren’t you? You put yourself in my fan list. What kind of a fan are you? Apparently not a real fan, just a fake one, an imposter more like...”

“O.K., O.K. I’ll get onto it now.” and he begins to exit the screen.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that. Just go into your favourites,” I detect hesitation “you do have me in your favourites, don’t you?”

“I find this easier,” he says with all the earnestness he can muster as he two finger types the letters n - a - n ...into the browser (at least I think that’s what the bar thingy at the very top of internet explorer is called)

“No. Type in my blog site, that’ll get you directly in… You do know the name of my blogsite don’t you?”

The air is still. He continues picking out c - k - e - r into the banner.

“You don’t even know the name of my blog site!? I’ve only been working on it for a year or more. You’re no fan. You should stop calling yourself a fan of mine. I should take you off my fan list. In fact, I think I will…”

“There. There. I’m in,” he announces triumphantly pointing to the computer, hoping to derail where this conversation is going. My last blog post fills the screen. He leans in closer for a better inspection. “Oh…that’s what that means.”

“What? That’s what, what means?”

“Containers of controlled chaos. That phrase has been written on the fridge door for days now. I’ve been afraid to open it. You know I just never know what I’m going to find in there at the best of times and then there’s this message on the door and it’s kind of made me afraid of just what the hell you’re doing in there.”

Poor guy, it must be difficult when someone else with different taste in food is in charge of what you’re eating after all there was the time at the grocery store check out when the cashier (who you’d think would know her produce) blurted out, despite my use of the universal keep-it-down hand gesture with accompanying shushing, “What is this,” waving it about for all to see, “Is this…", she inspects it more closely, "DANDELION?”

“Dandelion, did she say dandelion?” Rod says as I roll my eyes.

“Yes,” I nod to her and then turn to Rod, “It is dandelion, relax you’ve been eating it for months now.”

“I have? And I like it?”

“Apparently, at least until you knew what it was.”

And, for the longest time one of my favourite energy drinks was made with greens. A bottle of the foamy green stuff could be found on the top shelf next to Rod’s container of milk. Years ago I was visiting a hospitalized council member. After viewing bile contents dripping into a container from a tube, coming out of her nose, that was connected to her stomach, for some bizzarre reason, I lost my stomach for it. The very thought of it even now elicits the gag reflex – probably not unlike the one Rod felt each time he went into the fridge to get milk for his tea.

So, what’s with the notice on the fridge you might ask?

Well, I kept on forgetting Candy’s phrase and when it popped back into my mind I was standing in front of the fridge. Not wanting to let it slip away again, I grabbed the closest thing at hand and wrote it down right then and there.

Don’t ask me about 8:43 – I have no idea what that means anymore. It’s been on the door for weeks.

And what about the pots, are they really containers of controlled chaos?

Nope, there’s only recently made rice in one and oats in the other. But I'll give them a few days and they will be. God knows what waits for us in the meat drawer and the veggies are looking a little unruly too!
So my man, be afraid, be very afraid.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Containers of Controlled CHAOS

OMG, I am totally psyched! I took this picture...and I loaded it into my computer...and I got it to appear here. I'm lov'in this technology!!!
In an ideal world, the optimal way to pare down one’s possessions and clear clutter is to have boxes ready and labeled as:
SELL (garage sale, online, etc)
Place your stuff in the appropriate container and re-organize keepers in the new space you’ve created.

When I do this I:
- begin with a goal in mind, i.e. I want to cull 1/3rd of my stuff in a particular category.
- limit myself to a category at a time.
- keep sorting sessions short so as to keep sentimentality from getting in the way and bogging down the process.

Though life doesn’t always unfold in such an organized fashion, the stages of culling still remain the same: keep, throw out, give away or sell.

“I have containers of controlled chaos everywhere.” Candy says with some dismay.

My sister is having some floors sanded in her house which has necessitated moving stuff from the upstairs rooms to the first floor. “I just threw stuff into bags to get the rooms cleared.”

“Wow, I’ve got them too,” I proclaimed with the enthusiasm of one who has found a kindred spirit. “I have containers of controlled chaos.” I had never thought of it quite like this before and her phrase cracks me up.

This perfectly describes what happens when one is forced by necessity to throw things into a box, bag or bin without sorting before hand. Such was the case when I had to clear the basement to make way for the renovation.

The reno is now complete and I love, love, love my space more than I can say. I also love the sense of space and peace that the uncluttered affect has on the room and all who enter.

As I cleared the space I chucked a lot stuff (see the domino effect) into my trusty little car. I am happy to announce that Alf is finally free of these items:
- Mattress and humungous piece of luggage – bit the bullet on these, gave up trying to get any bucks for them, both went to Goodwill.
- Mom’s coat – went to a women’s shelter
- Rods leather coat – went to my sister-in-law’s brother, fit him like a glove!

The juggling clubs are still knocking about, no longer underneath the drivers seat but, as you can see (I'm so thrilled that you can see this) now placed on top of a container ready to go to the reuse centre. When I mentioned this to Candy her response, “Aww, you’re getting rid of your juggling clubs?” elicited an incredible sense of guilt despite the fact that I am hopeless at them and am quite happy juggling balls instead. I want them to fly in the air as they were intended to, but sentiment is rising and fond memories are flooding my heart right now…so the verdict is out on this one.

The filing cabinet, filled with files from the crates that once resided on top of the trunk, got put on wheels and sits in the space at the bottom of the stairs as does the yet untouched trunk. Archives remain under the stairs yet to be sorted.

For months now a ton of other stuff has resided in the laundry room and I haven’t missed any of it, in fact I find the clutter claustrophobic which makes sorting much easier! I have already reduced the lot by 2 containers – much of their contents ended up in the garbage. But the books and tapes that were in them, as you’ll soon see, have all been sold or given away to charity.

Tapes were relatively easy for me to let go as the technology is becoming obsolete and I realized that, since I got my ipod, I haven’t listened to any of them for well over a year. They are on meditation and Buddhism. Though dearly loved they have been played over and over again so much so that they contain info that I now have absorbed on some level.

Of course I can always glean more each time I listen to them, but the tendency of human nature is to crave new stimulus. As I sorted I realized that I can let this stuff go because I am ready to release this subject matter as new interests are coming to the fore. Not that I won’t use the principles I learned about meditation or Buddhist philosophy; just the opposite. Some aspects have become part of my life and will come along with me on the next stage of my journey.

This was quite a revelation! I wouldn’t have really acknowledged all of this had I not asked myself, “what purpose do these items serve me?”

I found it easy to let go of books on asana practice as, now that I’m no longer teaching, I don’t need these resource materials. I’ve come to a point where I enjoy my practice far more than teaching yoga (and believe me I loved teaching!). The poses and modifications found in the books have been part of my practice for decades now. Most of them I first learned during workshops with many masters. If Iyengar is like ballet and ashtanga is like jazz then my practice has evolved into free form for which there are no guidebooks.

I kept some classics like Light on Yoga book by B.K.S. Iyengar I used that book to teach myself the “new” method just breaking through in my neck of the woods, all those years ago, in the 60’s. I didn’t realize it at the time but his work along with the ashtanga approach (which I studied in the mid 90’s) of his contemporary Pattabhi Jois would be the forerunners of all of the systems of asana that are practiced in the west now. If you do yoga today in Canada you have these guys as well as their teacher Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya to thank. (While researching this I found out that the author of Yoga Self Taught, Andre Van Lysebeth was a student of his – so his influence on my practice occurred from it’s inception as this was one of my first books on the subject, what do you know.)

I displayed my books for sale in my treatment room and some clients bought them for a reasonable fee. And just this week I made a timely discovery. Akasha’s Den in Oakville sells used books and CD’s for $3.00 a piece with the proceeds going to small dog rescue. They gladly accepted the donation of the rest of my books and tapes. Feels good, not only will they get used by others but little dogs will benefit from their sale – a far better deal than letting the books/CD’s remain unappreciated.

Through this process I’ve discovered that I love the idea of things being used more than I love having them as repositories for memories (with the possible exception of juggling clubs).

Instead of holding on to the past, by clearing old stuff out I’m redefining who I am. And, I think the laws of attraction might agree. I’ve now cleared a path for the energy of a new future filled with possibility to come through to me as I’m no longer hidden behind all that clutter.