Memories of growing up Catholic

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Growing up Catholic taught me to have an unhealthy view about sex and sensuality.

It taught me that if God wasn’t watching you, your over-protective Mother likely was.

It also taught me about compassion, community and finding joy while being in the service of others. It wasn’t all that bad.

Continue reading here.

We were rich with outdoor freedoms, playful – and sometimes dangerous – distractions.

We were poor in comparison to our friends who had new bikes, toys and fashionable clothes. Hand-me-downs got a little worn out by the time they reached the youngest child. One consolation and joke we made in our later years was that the patterns, fabric or style of clothing would have come back into fashion by the time they reached me! 

Continue reading here.

Thinking back to my First Communion, I’m pretty sure I was more interested in the frilly white dress than the curious and creepy concept of “The Body of Christ”.

wee catholic girl first communion

Catholic girl’s first communion

Continue reading here.

Despite my humble beginnings on the wrong side of the river, I became a skeptical and proud pre-teen.

Attending Sunday mass was becoming such a waste of good sleeping in time. Then there was the weekly grade 6 catechism group held after school in a classroom in one of the buildings across town. I did not know many of the other kids who attended. I was a shy teen and don’t recall trying to form friendships with them. One engagement I recall was a girl complimenting me on my penmanship.

Branch off here.

Then there were signs that our hip 1970s priest was thinking of leaving the flock. He was one of the team leaders during a three-day canoe trip one summer when my facial pimples started to sprout. I had big brotherly kind of crush on him. I listened attentively to his stories and enjoyed his chats while we glided along the water.

My admiration and respect were eventually crushed when I observed his repeated attentions on one of the taller, slender girls. Soon after he performed the marriage ceremony for one of my older sisters, he was assigned to a different parish. A few years later, we learned that he had left the priesthood and was married.

Growing up Catholic taught me that you had to suppress any carnal, sexual feelings – which was especially unfair torture during adolescence. One could imagine the struggles for male priests.

Girls who went on the pill were gossip material and subject to taunts. Even more so were girls who went away for a few months to “visit with an aunt” or stay with the nuns.

As a recovering Catholic recalling the life altering events that entered my life, I often wonder if there was a Guardian Angel watching over me. Considering to the company I kept and the misadventures that came my way, things could have turned out much worse!

Would I eventually rejoin “the Church”? For starters, there will have to be changes to the old boys network, their grip on women’s rights and reproductive freedom.

If you haven’t read the novel yet, take a detour through Smashwords to download a sampling of the e-book format of The Year of the Rabbit.  See what other readers have offered about the novel. If the notion grabs you, purchase a copy of the entire novel. You get to set the price.

Blonde woman leaning on reserved parking sign

In a convent parking lot circa. 2008

Thanks for dropping by and may you go in peace. Lord knows our world could use more of it these days!

T

 

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Hope and action for the next 150 years

For the next 150 years…

Deep Blonde Thoughts

A year ago, hundreds of kindred souls joined in a walk from Victoria Island to Parliament Hill.

Indigenous People and allies gathered, walked and demonstrated their support for protecting a sacred place in the heart of Canada’s capital. I joined in too on that hot, sunny day.

We were protesting the condo development that was being allowed due to various cracks in the system of our courts and unfair, unclear zoning laws.

This year, the Faith is Peace march on June 23rd was championed by interfaith leaders who supported the movement to protect this sacred place. We were accompanied by clouds and intermittent rain which seemed appropriate for the tears of disbelief that this demonstration is still necessary during Canada’s 150th birthday year.

Faith is Peace march to Parliament Hill June 23 2017 Faith is Peace march to Parliament Hill June 23 2017

We gathered on the Hill for almost two hours, listening to drummers, singers and speeches. We…

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“Canada Day” in Ottawa 2017

Spreading the word. Our home on Native land.

Green Living Ottawa

This year, July 1 is important. Not because it’s Canada’s “150th anniversary,” though.

This year, important and compelling voices are drawing attention to Canada as a colonizing, settler nation. It’s a picture that isn’t as pretty as the stories we tell ourselves about our country. But it’s a more accurate one.

Indigenous peoples are reminding us that our country is founded on treaties that haven’t been upheld; on dispossession of land from the people living here; and on policies and strategies designed to eliminate them. The policies and strategies have changed over time, but they continue, as does the discrimination and racism that have become institutionalized.

Celebrating this history, and the society we’ve created—however respectful of rights, diversity and the environment we try to be—just doesn’t seem right.

So, here on this unceded Algonquin land we call Ottawa, here are some things I think we can do:

Listen. Learn about Unsettling 150

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Visiting the nesting grounds

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It’s refreshing to visit your old nesting grounds once in a while, to reconnect with family and friends.

Events like impromptu family reunions and funerals will do that for you. Some are more pleasant than others.

Parry Sound, Ontario. Town dock looking out onto Georgian Bay June 2017

Parry Sound, Ontario. Town dock looking out onto Georgian Bay June 2017

My home town is very similar to the small town mentioned in my novel, a fictitious town called Seguin Sound. Yes, it was on Georgian Bay. Yes there was a CPR Rail trestle spanning across the river and our childhood. Yes, there was a Native reserve nearby.

Parry Sound CPR rail bridge view from the town dock

Parry Sound CPR rail bridge view from the town dock

I was fortunate that on the one clear day for that long weekend that an old flame took me for a boat tour around the Wasauksing First Nation Reserve (what we always referred to as Parry Island) and a little farther out into blue and green paradise. It was good fresh air therapy.

Island Queen siting from a cottage

Island Queen sighting from a cottage

It was a good thing we got out on that beautiful day because the scheduled Island Queen boat cruise the following one was cancelled due to fog.

Island Queen boat cruise cancelled due to fog

Waiting for the Island Queen boat cruise

Growing up in that small town, I had schoolmates from the Wasauksing First Nation and those who bused in from other reserves. During my quiet high school years, I chummed with some of the girls during lunch time. I even shared crushes with some of the boys.

I am trying to use the Wasauksing reference more, in respect for the Ojibway, the Indigenous people who lived across the water from my old home town. As I mature and evolve in my adopted home town of Ottawa, I strive to learn more about the Algonquin people who inhabited the area and those who still do.

I am trying to learn the Algonquin words for places and things. In an age where you desire to express, it’s a constant learning experience and a challenge to know the correct terminology related to culture, gender and lifestyles.

I will likely make mistakes now and then but at least I am trying.

I feel the calling to once again support the spiritual leaders in the movement to restore the sacred site Akikodjiwan in the Ottawa River to its natural state. Some call this a David vs. Goliath story. Some call it futile. I summon up the faith, the energy to pray and trust that politicians and other stakeholders will do the right thing.

T

#Canada #Canada150 #Reconciliation #Healing #Akikodjiwan

 

Walk the talk for Indigenous Spirituality

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A kind and gentle soul can become frustrated by the empty talk from politicians about Canada 150, reconciliation and healing for the Indigenous people.

For years, groups of Indigenous people, settler descendants and faith leaders have been drawing attention to a sacred place in the middle of the Ottawa River, right here in Canada’s capital. They want the various levels of government to live up to a promise to return the waterfalls and islands to a place of worship.

No more commercial development. No condos!

“The capital city’s historic and magnificent Ottawa River, Chaudière Falls, and the three islands downstream can support Canada’s emergence as a nation that respects Indigenous values and cultures, and showcases them to the world. It is time to bring an honourable vision to fruition.”

Read about the Falls and Islands vision laid out by Algonquin Elder William Commanda and Anishinaabe architect, Douglas Cardinal. 
Read a brief story and invitation.

Read a personal account from attending the June 2016 walk.

Read about plans for another peaceful walk planned for June 23rd. See the Facebook event for details and updates.

I will join this peaceful march, to walk the talk in showing my support for a meaningful movement. You can too. Please share this information with family, friends and kindred spirits.

Thanks for dropping by.

T

#Canada150 #Reconciliation

 

Idol worshippers

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If you grew up in the Roman Catholic church, you likely heard accusations that we were idol worshippers.

We were surrounded by symbolism of the Crucifix, statues of the Virgin Mary and many saints. Except for the pitiful bleeding Jesus on the huge cross at the front of our church, I mostly found comfort and a point of focus for prayers in the statues. They represented the universal message of peace, love and sacrifice.

The fact that most representations of Jesus were Caucasian is a topic for another day…

Ah, peace, love and understanding. 

What the world needs now is Love, sweet Love.

When it came to pop culture, I wan’t much of a follower. The best sampling I got through popular music was tuning our radio to a decent AM signal coming in from Toronto.

Mother made sure I couldn’t attend local concerts with friends because she “heard what goes on at concerts, people under the influence of drugs and alcohol”. Dahm, yes! 

There were no concerts, no idolizing of nor swooning over celebrities. Honestly, my only celebrity crush was on David Suzuki. As a weekly follower of The Nature of Things on CBC TV, I used to imagine his voice reading out, helping me understand concepts from the dry high school science and math text books.

I was a quiet nerd who led such a sheltered life but like some Catholic girls, I found a few ways around that – especially after meeting him. More about that in another blog…

Thanks for reading this far. You may enjoy my 2011 novel, another blog of deep blonde thoughts, and one where the Tabby cat rules as I write about writing.

The novel contains reference to the Church, its attractions and its flaws. It also refers to different flavours of Christianity and gives a gentle nod to the compassion of Buddhism.

Many years later, as a jaded, middle-aged divorcée, I have the life experience and tenacity to think freely and choose carefully from the many attractions and distractions our modern world provides.

Tabby cat and Kwan Yin Goddess statue

Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion and Mercy

In my self-imposed sheltered life, I can jest about servitude to the pampered cats while I explore the mythology of household gods. I may even imagine David Suzuki’s voice as I read through the many books I have collected on the subjects.

Thanks for dropping by. Please pay a dollar and light a votive candle for me on the way out 😉

T

The cat box

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You know the old joke about buying a gift for a child and he ends up playing with the box.

It took a while for the cats to get the concept of the hide-y box we purchased a few weeks ago. It’s not like they have a shortage of play structures and climbing surfaces…  They seem to be getting too old to climb to the usual vantage points.

I like this photograph from a sunny Saturday (#Caturday). It depicts harmony and contentment.

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I am glad they are learning to share. More like I am glad Geneva is learning to share…

The other box they share requires daily attention.

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These darlings just may outlive their servant.

You can follow and enjoy a new series of pages under “Pampered Cats and Other Household Gods“. Do drop by.

While you’re feeling adventurous, why not drop by the blog for The Year of the Rabbit – A Novel about Fate, Family and Forgiveness?

Cheers!

T

 

 

Compassion and Contentment

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It is Sunday, my day of reflection.

Tabby cat beside plants and a small statue of Kwan Yin

Tabby Cat sharing a sun puddle with Kwan Yin

The weekend has been relaxing and productive around our humble home. We have the freedom to choose if we wish to visit a building, a natural space or remain in our home to reflect and pray. We can also choose which day and how many times a week.

Here you can see a new statue of Kwan Yin, the Asian Goddess of Mercy. We welcomed her into our home in celebration of the Lunar New Year a few weeks ago.

Some also refer to her as the Goddess of Compassion. I like that. Our world could use some more compassion these days.

I try to instill that wisdom upon Geneva regarding her treatment of Snuggles but it’s a hard lesson.

two cats beside plants and Kwan Yin statue

A peaceful morning

Wishing you a peaceful Sunday. I invite you to read an excerpt from The Year of the Rabbbit, when young Sera Fletcher finds her special spot to relax on a Sunday afternoon.

Thanks for dropping by.

T

 

It was all about the dress

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Thinking back to my First Communion, I’m pretty sure I was more interested in the frilly white dress than the concept of “The Body of Christ”.

wee catholic girl first communion

Catholic girl’s first communion

The Body of Christ concept kinda scared me. So did images of that pitiful, bleeding Jesus crucifix hanging near the altar of our church. Scared the bee-jeezuz outta me.

Fuzzy memories take me to the back room in our family home, that armoire at the bottom of the stairs. I admired the few pretty dresses that Mother hung in there. Now I’m sure the one I wore had already gone through my four older sisters.

Growing up Catholic also meant growing up poor.

Follow more Growing up Catholic recollections.

Then there was the Confirmation during my awkward early teens. I remember dragging my feet to get ready. I recall one of my older sisters wrestling me into the tub to wash up. I remember wearing the light blue skirt that Mother made for me, along with some frugal blouse. I remember one of the smart-ass boys making fun of it. The concept of being poor really sunk in when I discovered my parents couldn’t afford to buy me a suitable dress for the occasion.

Going through photo albums, I have admired wedding photos of a couple of sisters, of my Mother wearing the pretty, white dress. Ah, the virginal, white dress for wedded bliss.

When I eventually married, I did not qualify to wear a white dress. I also needed something loose to fit over my growing belly. I was five months pregnant.

The hesitant bride wore a long dark blue batik gown. It brought out her eyes. 

Thanks for dropping by. Visit the other blog where the Tabby Cat rules.

T

Cat Lady Chic

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You can spot them on the buses and in grocery store lineups. Cat ladies. Pet people.

 

Fur, fur everywhere! How do you perform a quick removal from your black dress slacks? How do you maintain that professional or date-able appearance?

Black cat at computer beside cat lady chic book

Cat Lady Chic

How can you be proactive in adapting to a home life with pets? Read on here.

What do you think? Please post your suggestions and sage advice in the comments section below.

Thanks for dropping by and watching where you sit…

T