Death does not end a relationship….

… It only changes it. And that holds true whether you believe in life after death or not.

Obviously you’re not going to have the same sorts of interactions with the deceased that you had with them when they were alive.

But the feelings you had for a person in life will not magically vanish just because that person is no longer physically present.

If you had a positive and loving relationship, you will still have those feelings. Things you see and do will remind you of the deceased and make you smile. You may still talk to them either in your mind or even aloud. You might even get a response.

Not required.

Not required.

Conversely, if you have a difficult or negative relationship with someone while they are alive, the strife isn’t over when that person dies, as many people seem to think or perhaps hope.

The changes that death brings to these relationships may cause frustration or open a door to forgiveness.
If you have unfinished business with a person who has died, you might be frustrated that you can’t get an explanation or receive an apology.

However, death can also level the playing field.

My father’s death finally gave me a chance to say many of the things I wanted to say to him without being rebuffed, denied or interrupted. It also allowed me to love my father without fear. I could see him as human – mortal, vulnerable, flawed, a child of God – just like me.

I feel closer and more loving to him now than I ever could when he was alive. That is the transformative power of death. What changes it brings for you are your choice.

Kitchen witchery and household magic – an audience participation post

KitchenWitchCenturies ago, the term “wise woman” meant a witch. A wise woman knew how to use herbs for healing, could safely forage for food (called wild crafting) and had observed the effects of the seasons and the ways of the world. Today many of us call that savvy woman Mom.

What are your mother’s or your family’s tried-and-true home remedies, recipes and household tips? Every family has them!

Here are a few from mine.

Try the apple cure. Family legend says this treatment cured my father when he had dysentery as a teenager during WWII. Wash and core an apple. Do not peel it. Grate the apple and eat it. This cure will dry up the worst bought of diarrhea. Apples are full of pectin – a fibre that binds. Grating the apple exposes more of its surface and more of its pectin to our digestive tract. As cures go, this one is amazingly effective and very palatable.

Use hot oil for earaches. Heat up some olive or cooking oil to slightly warmer than body temperature (not sizzling hot, please!). Pour ½ teaspoon in the sore ear and stopper the ear with a piece of cotton ball. The oil helps draw out any fluid that is behind the eardrum and causing pain. The warmth of the oil is soothing.

Freeze your fresh spinach and herbs. I store leftover fresh herbs, such as cilantro or parsley, and spinach in plastic bags in the freezer. The greens reduce a bit in volume, but still perform like fresh herbs or fresh spinach for cooking or sauces. Now I always have “fresh” herbs in the house. And because it’s readily on hand in the freezer in any amount I want, I add spinach to everything –soups, spaghetti sauce, risotto, omelettes… you name it. The spinach doesn’t even need chopping; I just grab a handful and crumble it into whatever’s cooking.

Use white vinegar in your laundry. Being the earth mother-loving, frugal type, I try to use green cleaners wherever possible. White vinegar cuts lime, scale and soap film and is antibacterial. I use it for all sorts of household cleaning and recently started using it as my liquid fabric softener (no, my laundry does not smell like a salad). The vinegar eliminates static and cuts any soap residue making for bright, plush fabrics.

What are your household tips, tricks and magic? Please share!

Face the monster in your mind, and ask him for a gift.

This is a saying that guides and inspires me. Let’s look at it a bit more closely.

First, fear is in your mind. What you fear is your monster and no one else’s. I’m not saying the things you fear aren’t real, but your reactions to the things you fear are uniquely your own.

Face your fear. Understand what makes you afraid and why. Poke at it. See what you can do about it. I used to be so afraid of heights I would get woozy standing on a chair to change a light bulb. Nonetheless, I managed to work up the courage to jump off a cliff into a lagoon in Mexico (there was no alcohol involved!). I’m never going to be a height-loving person, but I no longer let the fear manage me. I’ll get up that ladder or cross that suspension bridge and I carry on. Light bulbs get changed in my house now!

Ask the monster for a gift. When you face your fear, when you just do that thing that you dread – whether it’s facing a fear of heights or spiders or clowns, having an uncomfortable confrontation, giving a speech, saying I love you, changing jobs – that act itself is a gift, regardless of the results. You free yourself from fear’s shackles and become instantly more powerful.

Always ask the monster for your gift.

If I had a coat of arms and motto, this would be it. But I don’t, so instead, I made myself a dinner plate.

If I had a coat of arms and motto, this would be it. But I don’t, so instead I made myself a dinner plate.

Eating the milkman’s horse

 It’s Thanksgiving Day in Canada. This holiday, more than any other, makes me think of and miss my mom. She was born in 1930 in Germany. The deprivations and horrors of Hitler’s regime and the Second World War filled her childhood and teenage years. For good and for ill, those experiences shaped my mother.

Although we were a poor family, my mother always managed to put on a lavish Thanksgiving dinner. Every inch of the table would be covered with dish after delicious dish of turkey, stuffing, vegetables, potatoes, sauces and gravies followed by at least three desserts.

My mother would sit beaming at the head of the table and survey everything that was on offer. And then she would say, “We have so much to be thankful for. During the war, we never had enough to eat. I remember serving my father horsemeat once. He didn’t ask where I had gotten the meat and I didn’t tell him. The milkman’s horse had died and I was there to get some.”

At that point in her story, she’d stop and stare off into the distance, remembering the serendipitous moment when she got a portion of a dead horse. And then she would resume, “Now look at all that we have. We have enough food. We have a roof over our heads. We are safe in our beds at night. We are so lucky.”

And we are.

Cheap shoes


Some relationships, especially romantic ones, are like cheap shoes. At first those shoes look great – shiny, colourful and of the moment. You’re drawn to them. The shoes look so fabulous you think they’ll make you look fabulous too.

But when you put the shoes on your perfectly healthy, tender feet, very quickly those “great” shoes start to hurt and chafe and rip your tootsies to shreds.

But… you paid money for these shoes. They look fab. So, you decide to wear them a little longer and pain be damned. In no time,  you’re practically crippled with pain. And finally you have to admit that those shoes are a bust and you simply cannot wear them.

There are times you’re so invested, you just can’t bring yourself to part with those shoes, as if somehow magically they or your feet will change. The shoes get chucked into the back of the closet and eventually you forget about them.

Months or years later, you rediscover the shoes and they are so laughably out-of-date and so clearly wrong, you toss them out.

But sometimes those shoes still look good and you try them on one more time and… OUCH! They still hurt. So the cheap shoes are finally sent to a charity or a little girl’s dress up box.

Soon enough, you’re back in the shoe store checking out the really great, high-quality, made-to-last, always-in-style and right-for-you shoes.

Or you might just choose to go barefoot instead.

I’ll have the quiche with a side of self-loathing

Years ago, I attended a client lunch at a chic, new restaurant. The glass, crystal and all-mirror décor was literally stunning; I didn’t have a clue what was real and what was a reflection and refused to visit the bathroom for fear I’d never find it or my way back to my clients.

As we sat down at our table, I spotted an attractive woman across the room. I thought she looked like a lot of fun. I liked her haircut. Her outfit was great. Over the course of my meal, I noticed that she too was having an enjoyable lunch with animated companions.

Then it hit me…. Ms. Fun-fab-do-and-wardrobe over there was ME!!

I was simultaneously pleased, shocked and overwhelmingly dismayed.

Pleased with how I looked (even if I had only liked the look because I didn’t know it was me).

Shocked that the restaurant’s funhouse décor had utterly confounded me. Even crows can recognize themselves in a mirror.

Overwhelmingly dismayed at the irrefutable proof of how hard I was on myself. When I left the house that morning, I didn’t consider myself to be attractive. I hadn’t admired my hair. And my outfit was merely sufficient.

I’d like to say this experience was a turning point, and ever after I had a positive self-image and engaged only in positive self-talk. But that would be a lie. I’m still self-critical. I still berate myself for things I barely notice in others. I still get mired in occasional bouts of self-loathing. At least now, I can almost immediately derail the train of thought.

I’m learning where the line between gracious humility and reproachful self-criticism is.

A selfie - this is the lady in the mirror.

A selfie – this is the lady in the mirror.

Death by ducks

There I was complaining to my sister again about a certain someone – we’ll call her Daisy – who wore me down with her constant sniping, negativity and criticism. Daisy, my own joy-destroying mistress of pettiness, was driving me nuts!

“It’s death by ducks,” my sister announced. “You know, ducks have those little round bills to peck you with. One duck. No big deal. A couple ducks, a bit unpleasant. But before you know it, the pecking continues and you’re face down in the muck bleeding out.”

I don’t profess to be a duck whisperer, but I do live across the street from a park with a bird-filled lake. I visit the park often and I’ve seen my share of waterfowl activities. While walking by the lake this morning, I pondered my own death-by-duck problem anCuriousGoosed what to do about it. I came up with three options.

Kill and eat the ducks – messy and probably illegal.

Call pest control and move the ducks somewhere else. But these are creatures with beady third eyes deep in their skulls that let them effortlessly navigate thousands of miles and back. The ducks would return.

Bring in swans. Here was the elegant solution. Swans, beautiful, strong and fierce, keep every other bird in check. Ducks quake and bow before them.

Do I have swans? You bet I do! They’re my good friends and family, caring neighbours, a raft of smart professionals, my faith, my humour, my intelligence and a whole lifetime of experiences and perspectives. What are your swans when you’re in danger of death by ducks?