Finding a Voice

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

my dad

My dad had a heart attack on Friday. A clot busting medication dissolved the clot and saved his heart from extensive damage.

He had an angioplasty on Saturday. They installed a stint, which is much like a spring from a clicker pen. Did you know that they typically get to the heart through a large artery in the inner thigh? Imagine!

My brother Jeff and I drove up (separately) on Sunday and visited with dad for a few hours. I didn't think I would go, but during church was overwhelmed by the desire to go. I hadn't even packed a toothbrush.

After visiting hours, Jeff & I had a lovely dinner with mom at Alexander's across the street from the university. Great food, great art on the walls. A couple of my cousins worked there when they were university students.

Stayed in a hotel with mom, the Park Town. On Friday night she had stayed in a decent motel in a rather seedy, rowdy area, but didn't really want to pay much more than $60.00 The map had several hotels marked on it, so I called the closest one, the Park Town, to inquire about rates and they asked if we were in town for any particular reason. "Well, my dad's in the hospital," I replied. The employee told me their medical rate was $72.95. Well, who knew! So, we stayed just across the bridge from the hospital in a lovely, quiet room and had a nice visit. I left by 8:00 the next morning to get to work around 11:00.

Dad is going to be fine. He may need further medical interventions (unless maybe he loads up on glyconutrients!) and he'll need to make some lifestyle changes, but otherwise he'll be fine. So relieved.

Glad I went up. Very glad.
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 10:32 PM 1 comments

birthday party

Had a wonderful party on Saturday evening. Invited about 40 friends (including coworkers & students). After sending out an email to that many people I realized that I didn’t want a huge party, but couldn’t exactly uninvite people, so secretly wished (and half prayed) that it would end up small, and it did! About 10 people came to a friend’s house. One guest emailed this afterwards:

Thank you for inviting me to come last night. It was so good to be there. Good food, good atmosphere, good company. (So many good things!) So good to be with people who love to talk and to be with each other and who love food.

It seems a a little silly to make such a big deal about people who love food . . . but it's important to me in a way that I don't know I can explain. Many of the people I know who love food are also people who love life. They taste and savour and enjoy and anticipate and celebrate life . . . in much the same way that they taste,savour, enjoy, anticipate, and celebrate food. But even that explanation is only a part of the importance of food. Somehow I feel that there is deeper meaning to food than I can express . . . (shrug)

Anyway, it was good to be with you last night, even if just for a short while. My soul has been fed. You have a delightful group of friends, Colleen. It was a priviledge to be among them.

I was happy to assure her that it’s not silly! And to lend her Margaret Visser's book, Much Depends of Dinner.

It's true ... I do have a delightful group of friends and it was a privilege to be among them.
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 10:14 PM 1 comments

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Gossamer Thread

In the last couple of months, a key theme for me has been wondering where God is leading. One January day my friend Crystal emailed; she felt prompted to tell me "to follow the gossamer thread." The timing was uncanny and the reference was clear: George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin. Having a similar feeling this week I again recalled the gossamer thread image and took comfort that even when I come "to a huge heap of stones, piled in a slope against the wall" and want to "burst into a wailing cry, and again [throw myself] down on the stones," God has not forsaken me. Here is most of chapter 20, "Irene's Clue." It resonates.
That same morning early, the princess woke in a terrible fright. There was a hideous noise in her room - creatures snarling and hissing and rocketing about as if they were fighting. The moment she came to herself, she remembered something she had never thought of again - what her grandmother told her to do when she was frightened. She immediately took off her ring and put it under her pillow. As she did so she fancied she felt a finger and thumb take it gently from under her palm. 'It must be my grandmother!' she said to herself, and the thought gave her such courage that she stopped to put on her dainty little slippers before running from the room. While doing this she caught sight of a long cloak of sky-blue, thrown over the back of a chair by the bedside. She had never seen it before but it was evidently waiting for her. She put it on, and then, feeling with the forefinger of her right hand, soon found her grandmother's thread, which she proceeded at once to follow, expecting it would lead her straight up the old stair. When she reached the door she found it went down and ran along the floor, so that she had almost to crawl in order to keep a hold of it. Then, to her surprise, and somewhat to her dismay, she found that instead of leading her towards the stair it turned in quite the opposite direction. It led her through certain narrow passages towards the kitchen, turning aside ere she reached it, and guiding her to a door which communicated with a small back yard. Some of the maids were already up, and this door was standing open. Across the yard the thread still ran along the ground, until it brought her to a door in the wall which opened upon the Mountainside. When she had passed through, the thread rose to about half her height, and she could hold it with ease as she walked. It led her straight up the mountain.


'How lovely that bit of gossamer is!' thought the princess, looking at a long undulating line that shone at some distance from her up the hill. It was not the time for gossamers though; and Irene soon discovered that it was her own thread she saw shining on before her in the light of the morning. It was leading her she knew not whither; but she had never in her life been out before sunrise, and everything was so fresh and cool and lively and full of something coming, that she felt too happy to be afraid of anything.

After leading her up a good distance, the thread turned to the left, and down the path upon which she and Lootie had met Curdie. But she never thought of that, for now in the morning light, with its far outlook over the country, no path could have been more open and airy and cheerful. She could see the road almost to the horizon, along which she had so often watched her king-papa and his troop come shining, with the bugle- blast cleaving the air before them; and it was like a companion to her. Down and down the path went, then up, and then down and then up again, getting rugged and more rugged as it went; and still along the path went the silvery thread, and still along the thread went Irene's little rosy-tipped forefinger. By and by she came to a little stream that jabbered and prattled down the hill, and up the side of the stream went both path and thread. And still the path grew rougher and steeper, and the mountain grew wilder, till Irene began to think she was going a very long way from home; and when she turned to look back she saw that the level country had vanished and the rough bare mountain had closed in about her. But still on went the thread, and on went the princess. Everything around her was getting brighter and brighter as the sun came nearer; till at length his first rays all at once alighted on the top of a rock before her, like some golden creature fresh from the sky. Then she saw that the little stream ran out of a hole in that rock, that the path did not go past the rock, and that the thread was leading her straight up to it. A shudder ran through her from head to foot when she found that the thread was actually taking her into the hole out of which the stream ran. It ran out babbling joyously, but she had to go in.

She did not hesitate. Right into the hole she went, which was high enough to let her walk without stooping. For a little way there was a brown glimmer, but at the first turn it all but ceased, and before she had gone many paces she was in total darkness. Then she began to be frightened indeed. Every moment she kept feeling the thread backwards and forwards, and as she went farther and farther into the darkness of the great hollow mountain, she kept thinking more and more about her grandmother, and all that she had said to her, and how kind she had been, and how beautiful she was, and all about her lovely room, and the fire of roses, and the great lamp that sent its light through stone walls. And she became more and more sure that the thread could not have gone there of itself, and that her grandmother must have sent it. But it tried her dreadfully when the path went down very steep, and especially When she came to places where she had to go down rough stairs, and even sometimes a ladder. Through one narrow passage after another, over lumps of rock and sand and clay, the thread guided her, until she came to a small hole through which she had to creep. Finding no change on the other side, 'Shall I ever get back?' she thought, over and over again, wondering at herself that she was not ten times more frightened, and often feeling as if she were only walking in the story of a dream. Sometimes she heard the noise of water, a dull gurgling inside the rock. By and by she heard the sounds of blows, which came nearer and nearer; but again they grew duller, and almost died away. In a hundred directions she turned, obedient to the guiding thread.

At last she spied a dull red shine, and came up to the mica window, and thence away and round about, and right, into a cavern, where glowed the red embers of a fire. Here the thread began to rise. It rose as high as her head and higher still. What should she do if she lost her hold? She was pulling it down: She might break it! She could see it far up, glowing as red as her fire-opal in the light of the embers.

But presently she came to a huge heap of stones, piled in a slope against the wall of the cavern. On these she climbed, and soon recovered the level of the thread only however to find, the next moment, that it vanished through the heap of stones, and left her standing on it, with her face to the solid rock. For one terrible moment she felt as if her grandmother had forsaken her. The thread which the spiders had spun far over the seas, which her grandmother had sat in the moonlight and spun again for her, which she had tempered in the rose-fire and tied to her opal ring, had left her - had gone where she could no longer follow it - had brought her into a horrible cavern, and there left her! She was forsaken indeed!

'When shall I wake?' she said to herself in an agony, but the same moment knew that it was no dream. She threw herself upon the heap, and began to cry. It was well she did not know what creatures, one of them with stone shoes on her feet, were lying in the next cave. But neither did she know who was on the other side of the slab.

At length the thought struck her that at least she could follow the thread backwards, and thus get out of the mountain, and home. She rose at once, and found the thread. But the instant she tried to feel it backwards, it vanished from her touch. Forwards, it led her hand up to the heap of stones - backwards it seemed nowhere. Neither could she see it as before in the light of the fire. She burst into a wailing cry, and again threw herself down on the stones.

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 6:58 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Mornings Like This

Mornings Like This: Found Poems by Annie Dillard Posted by Hello
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 12:47 AM 0 comments

Found Poetry

This weekend I went to a used bookstore to find something for a friend and, of course, also found something for me: Annie Dillard poems for $3.00. This little treasure has turned me onto the idea of "found poetry," as evidenced by the raft of inspirations from the children's science textbook. I have thought for almost 8 years now that I would like to write some poems about human relationships being like earthquakes, but not knowing much about earthquakes had very limited knowledge upon which to draw. Then an elementary-school teacher friend gave me a couple of cast-off science textbooks with sections about earthquakes in them. I hadn't touched them until Annie Dillard got me going that direction. Thanks so much, Annie!

"'Found' poems are essentially built from bits of broken text. The poems are original as poems; their themes and their orderings are invented. Their sentences are not. Words can be dropped but not added. In the course of composing such poems, the author's intentions are usually the first to "go." A nineteenth century Russian memoir of hunting and natural history yields a poem about love and death. A book of nineteenth century oceanographic data yields a poem about seeing. This is editing at its extreme: writing without composing."

- Annie Dillard, "Introduction," Mornings Like This: Found Poems

FOUND POETRY: This month, simply pick up a volume that has been sitting on your self [sic.] for a while (perhaps unread), and look at it with new eyes, the eyes that search for combinations of words that will make a poem. Copy some passages out. Play with the line breaks. See what happens. At the very worst, abandon the whole idea but keep a couple of the word combinations, ideas, or phrases for a poem of your own.

- Robert Hudson,, accessed March 2, 2005.
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 12:27 AM 2 comments


Some are particularly prized
because they are rare,
or durable,
or beautiful,
or because they combine these qualities.
Such were formerly divided into two principle classes:
Those which were particularly outstanding
were known as precious.
Other not so rare and not so beautiful
were called semiprecious.
Generally, however,
any that possesses marked qualities
of beauty
and durability
and that may have been used for personal adornment
is called a gem.

Some make a hobby
of cutting and polishing
various gemstones that they find.

- a found poem from "Gemstones" in The New Book of Popular Science, volume 2. Grolier Inc., 1984, p. 49.
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 12:21 AM 0 comments

Making Acquaintance

By the time you have acquired
a nodding acquaintance
you should have some idea.

The individual did not have much chance to grow,
had a long time to form,
generally exposed
by uplifting
or erosion.
In some instances, built up.

This transformation has been due to various factors,
but these are in different proportions.
The commonest are shells.
You are most likely to find them in beds.
Shells may stand out on a slope
or may even be perched
on pedestals like golf balls on tees.

After you have become experienced,
you will find it rewarding to subscribe to magazines.
Find out what you can
to fill in any gaps.

- a found poem from "Rocks," "Fossils," and "Collectors Guides" in The New Book of Popular Science, volume 2. Grolier Inc., 1984.
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 12:17 AM 0 comments

Flourishing Colony

There is now a colony
of thousands of individuals.
The colony keeps rising.
It keeps rising until it reaches
the surface.
They do not carry on
above the surface.

How can we account for
the generally accepted explanation?
The broken fragments
above the former surface
are found in all the world.
They are restricted.
They flourish
in spite of the limitations.

- a found poem from "Coral Islands" in The New Book of Popular Science, volume 2. Grolier Inc., 1984, p. 221.
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 12:07 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Snowflakes are
a mystery.
Why should every perfect
crystal of snow
always have six sides
and six points?
Why should it be flat and not round
like a hailstone or raindrop?
How long does it take a crystal to form?
Why are no two crystals exactly alike?
Wilson Bentley,
of Jericho, Vermont,
photographed and examined
snowflakes for over fifty years,
and he never found
two identical flakes.

Snow can fall
from almost any kind of cloud.
It may come when the barometer is rising
or when the barometer keeps going down.
There may be snow outside your window.
The flakes will probably melt
and fall to earth in rain.

To a poet snow is a lyric.
To youngsters it means coasting
and snowball fights.
To their elders,
skiing and tobogganing.
Snow is
the exclusive property
of poets and lovers.

- a found poem from "Snow" in The New Book of Popular Science, volume 2. Grolier Inc., 1984, pp. 165-166.
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 11:19 PM 1 comments