Thursday, December 29, 2005

Prayers for 2006

A good friend gave me the prayer box shown here for Christmas. You are supposed to fill the little box with your prayers. The top is inscribed "Faith is the substance of things hoped for..." (Heb. 11:1). I have a feeling the prayer box will not take long to fill.

Some years go by without much of a blip on the screen. Things run smoothly and nothing much changes. Other years, the changes come fast and furious leaving you feeling like you've ridden a monster roller-coaster. If early premonitions turn out to be correct, this is going to be one of those years. At least, I believe we are in for a lot of ups and downs.

I don't "do" new year resolutions. Mostly because I know I won't stick to them. Instead this year I'm starting a tradition of new year prayers. I want to list the things that I'm praying for this year, so here they are:

Lord I pray for courage to handle all the changes that will come my way this year. I pray for my trust in you to deepen, and conviction that you are working all things out for the good of those who place their faith in you.

I pray for compassion and wisdom for friends who are hurting. Help me to be a loving, listening friend. Guard my tongue from judgement and gossip. Help me to forgive those I need to forgive and grant me kindness.

I pray for health and the commitment to look after myself - to eat better and take better care of my body. I pray for the healing of loved ones, and for spiritual healing.

I pray for my children - that they will stay healthy, that they will have a good year in school, that they will continue to grow to be compassionate and caring individuals.

I pray for my marriage - that it will continue to be blessed and we will remain strong in our partnership, caring for each other and our children.

I pray for my writing - that I will use my gifts for you, that I will nurture the creative spirit.

I pray for quiet times spent with you. I long to deepen our relationship - help me to fuel the desire to put you first.

And lastly, I pray that I will return to these prayers throughout the year as I weather all that life throws my way. I pray I won't forget what I've asked for this year, and that I will recognize you in the daily workings of my life.

Amen. * o

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Letter to Martha

Dear Martha:

I'm tired and seem to have lost my holiday spirit. I've got most of the presents bought and wrapping done, and the decorations are up, but I just can't seem to get excited about the season. I don't feel festive. Everything feels like a chore and I'm in a panic that all my "to-do" items won't get done. Even church seems way too busy and more than I can handle right now. I used to love to decorate, and wrap and prepare for the big day but now I feel it's going to come and go and pass me by without much fanfare. What can I do?


Dear Eb:

Let me guess. You're approaching mid-life right? Caught up in the frenzy of getting things done, but not taking any time for yourself? Feel guilty when you do? I've been there. I was the caretaker of everyone. I remember that time Jesus paid us a visit. I was in such a tither, and so annoyed at him, really. I mean he waltzes in with all these guys, and suddenly there's all these extra mouths to feed and rooms to clean because I wasn't expecting company! I remember standing in the doorway, watching my sister just sitting there at his feet doing nothing and starting to really "burn". I tapped my feet, and called Jesus over, and well, I confess, I whined. He took my hands in his, looked into my eyes, and gently said "Martha, Martha, Martha, you're missing the point. Take a load off." Well, Ok, maybe those weren't his exact words but you get the idea. You know, some people would have been hurt, thinking he was reprimanding them, but I felt such peace then. I had just been given permission to relax. All those people there didn't care what my house looked like or what I served for supper. After all, this was the guy who could feed 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes! They were there to spend time with Him. It wasn't about me at all. And so, I went about the rest of the evening in a better mood, enjoying the company and our visit. My suggestion to you is do what you can. Don't worry if it doesn't all get done or isn't perfect, nobody really notices if you have the perfect holiday centerpiece anyway. Enjoy your family, take time to rest. Spend some time with Him, He loves the company! You'll feel better if you do. And, Eb, it's ok to say "no" sometimes, we'll talk more about that later.


The more we share with simplicity what we have, the more life becomes welcoming for those entrusted to us. Simplifying enables us to offer a welcome to others, even with very little.

From the book:
Peace of Heart in All Things
by Brother Roger of Taizé
published by GIA Publications * o

Monday, December 12, 2005

O, Christmas Tree!

The tree went up this weekend. John put on the lights, the boys put on the ornaments and I made hot chocolate and put on the finishing touch - the bows. The house smells of pine and "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...." * o

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Merry, whatever????

This weekend I'm putting up my scotch pine holiday tree and trimming it with reminders of the holiday season. Then to put me in the holiday mood, I'm going to watch a couple of my favourite holiday movies. First, I'm going to watch that cartoon, where the Who's down in Whoville wake up one holiday morn, shocked and with a "What the?" on their lips when they discover that that green guy up the hill has stolen their "all-inclusive, secular, non-religous, commercialized, extremely offensive to grinches holiday". Then I'm going to watch "A Holiday Carol". I just love it when that Scrooge guy gets visited by the ghosts of holiday celebrations past, and learns how to keep the holiday spirit in his heart forever. (I think I just felt Dickens roll over in his grave). Maybe I'll even break out in song - "I'm Dreaming of a No Color in Particular Holiday" perhaps.

Yes, it's that time of year again. Christmas, you say? No, no, no. That time of year when the debate rages over just what we can call "that time of year" and the political correct police get all up in arms over what's correct and what's not.

Face it. This has less to do with potentially offending anyone, as it has to do with "market share". Ahh, Wally World, thy god is consumerism. Big box retailers, ever conscious of their next buck in an increasingly diverse culture, pick their brains with a way to make this time of year an all-inclusive shopping spree for everyone. You shall be all as one, and one as all, and you shall be happy. Politicians, ever conscious of the next vote, strive to make this an all-inclusive, non-offensive time of year so as not to tick you off and lose favor with the public. You shall be all as one, and one as all, and you shall be happy.

So, while the debate rages on around me, I'm trying to figure out just what it is about this time of year that is important to me. What do I celebrate? If the powers to be decide I can no longer have a day off this time of year to celebrate a holiday not everyone celebrates, will there still be a turkey dinner on the table at supper time? If Santa is no longer allowed to visit because he represents a stereotypical overweight white male that may potentially offend someone, will I still give gifts to the ones I love? If all the cards in the world were replaced with "Happy Holiday" cards, would I still send them to people I never hear from any other time of year? If energy conscious groups win the debate over lighting up your house with strings of lights, will I still search for the One who brings light to the darkness? If a tree falls in the forest, was it a Christmas tree??

(For a much better treatise on this subject then I can do justice to, click here)

Call it whatever you want. The true meaning of this celebration to me, is not found in a store clerk's holiday greetings or a decorated tree. Not in a gift box, not in a sock. I will not find it in a fox! I will not find it there. No, come Christmas Eve, Holiday Eve, Dec. 24th or whatever you'll find me in that little building down the road. The one with the cross on it. Sitting in candelit glow, trying to wrap my head around the wonder of a God who would come to earth as a tiny, helpless babe. Immanuel. As politically incorrect 2000 years ago as now.

Feel free to celebrate it however you want, or not. You won't offend me.

Dare I say " peace on earth, goodwill to ALL"? * o

Monday, December 05, 2005

and now for something completely different....

jkkh are the plant of love! You are the
mistletoe! You are a loving, romantic person
who likes to do what is best for the one or
ones you care about mostly. You are very
affectionate and enjoy being close to people.
You believe that love brings you together,
which is a wonderful thing. You are most likely
going to have a very nice and marvelous season.
Your inventive mind could come up with anything
interesting to do. Merry Christmas =)

What Christmas Figure Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla * o

Saturday, December 03, 2005


True bliss is coming home from a mad dash to the city, fighting crowds in the mall, endless line-ups, aching back and generally exhausted, to find that your two fine sons have not only done all the chores on their list, including the laundry, but that your awesome teenage son has baked squares and prepared a delicious supper that is just waiting for you to come home to! Could it be Christmas in the air??

Sigh...I am so proud of my boys. * o

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sleep Interrupted

Night four of "Charlie's Cold". Two hours after he fell asleep, he is awakened, his body racked by coughing spasms. I crawl out of bed, and wordlessly we head downstairs. We huddle on the couch, while the kettle boils. A few minutes later he is hunched over a bowl of boiling water, with towel wrapped around him. Coughing subsided, we head back up to bed. I crawl between the sheets, fingers and toes crossed and praying that we won't have to repeat this routine again tonight. In a few short hours it will be dawn.

We've become so good at this nightly routine, so mechanical, that we are like zombies. I'm not even sure we are awake. We occupy the same spot on the couch, night after night. We've got the motions down pat, and can be back into bed in about 20 minutes.

The whole thing is vaguely reminiscent of a similar, zombie like routine some twelve years ago. Only then, instead of boiling a kettle to steam, I was heating a bottle and changing a diaper.

Meanwhile, it is morning and snow is falling. Upstairs, one son plunks out "Silent Night" and "Jingle Bells" on his keyboard, interspersed with the melodic "Malengua" he has been practicing. The other son has his ear glued to CBC Radio, waiting for a "bus cancelled" announcement that doesn't come.

Time marches on. * o

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Of Writing Classes, Journals, and Faith

I just completed a Journaling for Writers course at the Long Story Short School of Writing website. Erica Miner is a great instructor, encouraging but challenging, not letting me get away with mediocre, but pulling so much more out of me.

I ended up going through my old journals in order to complete some of the assignments. I poured through early entries, amused, amazed and sometimes bored with my younger, whinier self. I'd forgotten how tired I always was when the boys were younger. I'd forgotten some of the cute things they had done, or the fascinating things they would say.

The walk down memory lane did a couple of things for me besides help me to complete my assignments.

First, I often think this writing thing I do is something I recently got into. The journals remind me that writing is something I have done throughout my life. I have always poured myself out on paper, sometimes through poetry, sometimes in a journal. Sure, there were long, dry periods of no writing but I have yet to give it up forever. My journals remind me of my progress and my growth.

The second discovery involves my spiritual growth. My faith journey is sprinkled throughout my sporadic, journal entries. The periods of doubt, the search for a deeper faith, the quests down different paths, all the journeys that led back to one place, one God. One who was there all the time - in the beginning and the end.

The journey is far from over yet, and I'm sure more will be examined through the pages of my journal. Still it is comforting to realize that God is my constant companion in these pages. It is a friendship explored in ink, revealed in bound pages and sealed in the heart. * o

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Walk in November

It was such an unusually warm November day today, that I had to go for a walk. The only way I could tell it was November, and not April or May was that the sun hung lower in the sky and the water was a gray, slate color. Not as much blue in the sky to reflect on the surface.

I went down past the cemetary again - one of my favorite jaunts. My son once asked why I walked that way and I replied that it was peaceful there. To which he sardonically quipped "of course, everyone's dead". Smart cookie, that boy.

Maybe it's melancholy to roam graveyards with opera music playing in your headphones, but in addition to peace, this walk offers a flat road and an impressive view of Nipigon Bay.

As the sun warms my face, I'm all too aware that tomorrow it is supposed to get cold again and snow. Winter lurks around the corner, hemming me in. Already the daylight hours are far too short. For now, I bask in sunlight, watch the ducks glide across the lagoon, and breathe in deep as if I could inhale this moment and preserve it through the long, dark winter nights.

Today is a gift. Tomorrow it can snow.

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows" - Helen Keller * o

Thursday, October 27, 2005

God Beats

wood smoke rises
drum beats
ancient rhythms
power to soothe
the soul
or excite
into frenzy
he chants to ThunderBird
to appease the rain
shading my eyes
I glance skyward
and squint into clear
blue sky
wood smoke rises
heart beats
ancient rhythms
lost in time
and prayer

@2005 Eveline Maedel
Photo taken this summer at Old Fort William * o

Monday, October 24, 2005

Hope Through Transitions

"Happy are those who are helped by the God of Jacob. Their hope is in the Lord their God." Psalm 146:5

Fall is awash in glorious color as the days get shorter, the nights cooler and the air definitely crisper. I always find fall to be a sort of melancholy season for me. Winter is not my favourite of the four seasons, and fall is an ever present reminder that winter is around the corner. Fall is the transition season. In this neck of the woods it often transitions all too quickly. One day, warm and bright and colourful and the next morning a cold, wet snowy bleakness perches on the doorstep. No matter how many years I’ve been around, winter always catches me by surprise.

I find this fall to be a particularly bittersweet transition time for our church and our community. We started the season with great joy over the much anticipated start of construction of our new church home. As we neared the end of September, we faced shock and upset at the announcement of shutdowns and layoffs at Norampac. Many of our friends and loved ones are trying to navigate through some major decisions and questions right now.

Life is an ever constant transition, from the time we are born until the time we die. One look at our physical bodies is enough to remind us of these changes as we age. Christians know that our souls are constantly changing too, as the Holy Spirit works on our hearts and makes us “new creations in Christ”. ("Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day." 2 Corinthians 4:16) Every transition is both a small “birth” and a small “death” as something old makes way for something new.

While we cannot live completely static lives and escape these transitions all together, and God does not promise a perfectly smooth life, it is important to remember a couple of things God does promise or provide for us.

1) God promises us comfort. He has given us the Holy Spirit as our comforter. In John 14:16 we read "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper (or Comforter, or Counselor) to be with you forever." God knows what we are going through and He will comfort us. Psalm 34:18 says "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed."

2) God has a plan for us. Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Note that this verse says “I know the plans I have for you” (emphasis on I). Not “you know” nor does it promise to “I will tell you exactly what those plans are”. Simply “I know”. God knows, God is in control. We are asked to trust in God’s plan. It’s a scary kind of trust, a leap of faith, a belief that “Father really does know best”.

We have to remember as well that everyone responds to transitions differently. Some people embrace change, running headlong into it with arms wide open and leaps of joy. Others stick their feet firmly on the ground, cross their arms, and begin to chant “We shall not be moved”. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two. Let us continue to pray for each other, uplift each other and comfort each other, reminding ourselves that seasons come and go and but God is our ever present hope, comfort and strength.

"I pray that Christ will live in your hearts by faith and that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. And I pray that you all God's holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ's love - how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. Christ's love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with the fullness of God. With God's power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. To him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen" Ephesians 3:14-21 * o

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Cured not Cursed

I'm typing this with one hand. On my right hand I'm wearing a big bulky mitt that makes my hand sweat, is uncomfortable, and makes it extremely hard to use my dominant hand. For twelve hours today, I have "leprosy". The mitt is supposed to help me experience what a person with leprosy goes through. It's part of a Canada-wide fundraiser for The Leprosy Mission, called "Cured Not Cursed".

But, the mitt only really gives me the physical experience of a leprosy victim. It doesn't really give me the emotional experience of what someone with leprosy suffers. I still have my family and my home. No one shunned me in church this morning. Instead they were curious about why we were wearing the mitts. My family didn't kick me out of my house, or force me to live in the streets and beg for food. No one was afraid to touch me today.

In a few short hours I will joyfully shed this cumbersome mitt and go about my normal, nice, happy life again. Someone who really has leprosy is not so fortunate.

Around 1500 people each day will be told they have leprosy. Leprosy can be cured and its devastation halted by taking three pills a day for six months. The cost of treatment is about $275 Cdn per person. Such a pitiful small sum to make such a huge difference in someone's life. There is no reason that any child today should have to suffer with leprosy.

Please visit The Leprosy Mission website ( and consider making a donation. Leprosy can be cured. * o

Friday, October 14, 2005

October Storms

Thunderstorms in October are an unusual occurence around here. Just before supper, the dark black clouds rolled in. Booming thunder roared around. Thunder that seemed louder and closer than a summer storm. Even the clouds seemed to hang lower, barely clearing tree tops and roofs. The dog whimpered, as lightening flashed and popped and then the rain came. It poured and then it hailed. Tiny chunks of ice gathered on the patio table and flung themselves at the birdfeeder. The windowpane rattled with each rising crescendo of thunder. A fast moving storm, it was soon over. Dark clouds gave way to red sunset, promising "sailors delight" for the morn. * o

Saturday, October 08, 2005


In early morning light
I dreamt of the cat
Nibbling at my face
And pacing around my body
Lithe body ready to pounce
I put my arms up
In defense
And curled into fetal position
My legs kicked out
And launched said cat
From peaceful slumber
As I awoke
So much for reading about tigers
Before going to sleep.

@2005 Eveline Maedel All rights reserved * o

Friday, October 07, 2005


Today is the first day I've had to warm up the car before running off to work. The temperatures dropped last night, and the rain turned icy. Walking out on the deck this morning was a bit of an adventure! Fall has arrived. * o

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Hot Soup Days

The past couple of days have been perfect hot soup days. It's been cool, and raining steady. Yesterday morning I put some frozen homemade chicken soup in the crock pot so that by lunch time we could come home to "hot soup". I also put my sheep's wool mattress cover back on the bed, after it had made a visit to the dry cleaners. It had fluffed up perfectly, like brand new. Last night, I slipped into bed, snuggled down into the cloud-like comfort of the sheep's wool, wrapped the blankets around me and listened to the rain pelting on the window. I'm grateful for a belly full of hot soup, and warm blankets.

May I be mindful of the blessings in my life, particularly on hot soup days.

@2005 Eveline Maedel All Rights Reserved * o

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Child's Love

Love to a child
is the unwavering belief
that a mother's kiss
can heal all wounds

Small arms wrapped
around the neck
damp hair scented with
watermelon shampoo
whispers soft
"I love you, Mommy"

@2005 Eveline Maedel - all rights reserved * o

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

So, What's for Supper?

It's been one of those days. It started with an email that put me in a mood that lingered far longer than it should have.

Later in the afternoon, my youngest son called from home. His first full day back at school and he injured his thumb in gym class. He said it was swollen. Twenty minutes later when his brother got home from high school, I had a confirmation that it was indeed swollen. "Mom", he said, "you better come home and look at this."

And so we made a visit to the emergency room where I sometimes think they should hand out Air Miles. The thumb in a splint, a requisition for an x-ray in the morning and a prediction that it'll be quite black and blue by then, we headed for home.

Fortunately, or so I thought, supper was all planned. Thanks to the MenuMailers at Saving Dinner I had sweet potatoes already cooking in the oven and chicken marinating in the fridge. All I needed to do was fire up the grill.

Nothing happened. Apparently grills need propane to run. And apparently there was none in this one. Yes, I know women can fill propane tanks nowadays, but I've never learned how to do that, or hook them up. Frankly, propane makes me nervous and I'm not even happy lighting the grill.

I threw the chicken in the oven, which already was on for the sweet potatoes. This story should have a happy ending but it doesn't end there. The chicken took way longer than it should have to cook, and when we finally sat down to eat I opened up the sweet potatoes and they were rotten on the inside. Thank God for canned corn.

I'm by now thinking I should have gone with my usual plan for supper when hubby is away - eat out!

At this point, a hot bath and curling up with the latest Mindy Starns Clark novel (The Trouble with Tulip) sounds good but I'm afraid there'll be no hot water and pages missing from the end of the book!

P.S. on the list of good things that happened today, Pink Jasper - Gems from the Journey is now available to order from Heliographica. Click here to order. * o

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Train of Thought

If the the only railway crossing in town has crossing arms, is it necessary for the train engineer to lay on the horn as if all matter of life depended on it?

The horn's blast sliced through my bedroom and shattered my sleep. I braced myself for impact, certain that there must be something in the train's way as the urgent, long wail roared past my ears. Had the engineer become unconscious and collapsed on the control panel?

Nothing. The train rattled past and carried on. My heart began its descent from where it clung to the ceiling and drifted back into my chest. It's 1:00 AM. Might as well go to the bathroom. * o

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Thoughts from a Writers Conference

Last weekend I attended the Sleeping Giant Writers Festival. Besides meeting some really great people, I learned a lot and had a very creative day. I took in a workshop on journaling and one on memoir writing. I'm already looking forward to next year's festival. Here are some highlights from my notes:

Great Quote:

"If a piece of writing is going to be any good, it has to brush up against the mysteries or undefinables of who we are"
Charles Wilkins

I Remember (A Journaling Exercise)

I remember partridge hunting down bush roads with my Dad. It is late September or early October. Warm enough for a heavy sweater, yet the air is crisp and full of promise. I love the bush smell - wet, fallen leaves and pine. We walk the gravelly road together surrounded by a symphony of bird son and somewhere up ahead the rhythmic drumming of partridge wings. I don't remember how many partridge we got that day. I don't remember what we talked about or even how many times we went out hunting together. I don't remember the age when I became too old to want to go with him or when exactly I crossed that threshold from tom-boy to teenage girl and he started going hunting with only the dog as companion. Yet I can close my eyes and still feel the texture of plaid flannel hunting jackets. What I really want to say is I'm afraid of losing those memories before I even lose my father. * o

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Update on the Common Book

Yesterday, I completed the last page of the little notebook I had started recording "common" stuff in back in June.

Why is this a big deal? It represents the most consistent amount of journaling I have done in my life. I wrote almost daily - sometimes every second day.

Some days the entries are pretty short, obviously jotted down in a hurry. Others are more detailed. Some are downright boring and some have little glimmers of insight.

I'm pleased that even on days when I accomplished no other writing tasks at all, there is something jotted down in my common book. So I can pat myself on the back and say "at least you wrote a bit today".

This morning I cracked the cover of a fresh new notebook - full of possibilities of common entries of my everyday life.

Obviously, the common book system works for me as a journaling tool. * o

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Pink Jasper - Gems from the Journey


Heliographica Press announced today the pending release of a remarkable book written by six women writers. "Pink Jasper:Gems From The Journey" is a collection of poetry, essays, and short stories chronicaling their personal life journeys of Jacqueline Brooks, Carolyn Horton, Pamela June Kimmell, Eveline Maedel, Georgia Richardson, and Dana Smith-Mansell. The work projects a wide variety of emotion from intense grief to boundless joy as these women share their stories and feelings as they walk their separate paths. There is spiritual awareness, divine celebration and challenge, all celebrated in the pages of this extraordinary book. Each piece is superbly written and as the reader moves from one piece to the next it becomes clear that we all share common stories and experiences. This book's messages will remain with the reader long after the reading is done.

The book will be available shortly from Heliographica Press at, and other online stores including such as Amazon, and will be available to bookstores and libraries through Ingram and Baker & Taylor. ISBN 1933037059.
* * * * * * * * * *

So there it is - the official announcement! This book has been a "labor of love" project for myself and my "Pink Jasper Sisters" - Jackie, Carolyn, Pam, Georgia and Dana. We met online, we formed an immediate bond and for the past couple of years we have been working on "Pink Jasper". The book will be available for purchase on the Heliographica website soon and I can't wait to get my copies of it either and finally see it in actual book form. I still have to pinch myself periodically to believe it's true!!! * o

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Visitors

I was interrupted from my Saturday afternoon chores by the sound of the dog barking outside. Looking out the window, I saw two young couples standing at the end of my driveway staring at our garage.

My first thought was that the moose rack my husband hung on the garage last evening must be a real traffic stopper. Turns out, the two women in the group had just wanted to stop by and show their partners the house their father had been born in.

Enchanted at the chance to find out more of the history of my house, I eagerly went outside to greet them and chat a bit. They talked about their father, and the summers and Christmases that they had spent visiting here. Their grandfather built the house and the garage, that he used to store boats for other people.

"There's a name in the cement of the corner of the garage", I said, "come, take a look".

"That's our father's name!" We all stared at the perfectly formed letters in awe. The date underneath is worn and fading, but as close as we could tell was 1960. The girls figured that was about the year their father left for university. For unknown reasons, he marked the occasion forever in cement.

After some reminiscing, they bid me farewell, thanking me profusely for letting them look around.

My house is about 80 years old, and has only housed two families in its time - theirs and mine. Except for some painting and minor repairs it has remained relatively unchanged. It may be old, and a little plain, but its solid walls have sheltered love, laughter, sorrow, youth and old age.

It is a family house. A home. * o

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Dusty Bookshelves......and more Phantom

A recent trip into the city resulted in the acquisition of the soundtrack CD for The Phantom of The Opera and ignited my "phantom fever" and musings all over again. I took a quick peak at the ultimate Phantom "phans" website, Besides discovering that there are people out there way more obsessed by the Phantom than I am, I also discovered there is an increasing interest in Susan Kay's novel, Phantom.

Seems Kay's novel is now out of print, and hard to find. According to the FAQ's on the Phantom website, "The novel Phantom, by Susan Kay, is very popular amongst fans, but is out of print. Demand for copies has grown so much since the movie of the musical came out that prices on Amazon and eBay have shot up to as much as $70 - $100 just for a paperback."

Makes me kind of glad I have a hardcover copy gathering dust on my bookshelf (and no, at this moment I'm not selling). I loved the novel and it earned a treasured spot on my bookshelf along with other books I just can't part with.

More than haunted by the Phantom, I now find myself haunted by Susan Kay, the writer. All I could find out about her from searching the internet was that she was born in 1952 and wrote two novels, Legacy in 1985 and Phantom in 1990. Legacy was the winner of Britain's Georgette Heyer Historical Novel Prize and the Betty Trask Prize for a first novel. A good start it would seem. I can't uncover if she wrote anything else after Phantom or what happened to her, or even if she is still alive.

This leaves me wondering why she quit after Phantom? Did the muse leave her? Where is she now (hiding out in some opera house?) What is she doing? Is she aware of all the "phantom fever" surrounding her out of print novel? Somebody please tell me whatever happened to Susan Kay?

Incidentally, the rights to her novel are owned by Amblin - Stephen Spielberg's company. There's rumors that a movie might be in the works. Maybe all the hype over an out of print novel is just good pre-movie publicity. * o

Friday, June 24, 2005

Haiku Moment

old school
boarded windows
freedom becomes its own God * o

Sunday, June 12, 2005


I installed the new Tiger OS on my Mac today, and I'm just playing around with some of the Dashboard widgets available.

Right now, I'm testing a widget that will post directly to my blog - for quick and easy blog updates!

Let's hit the post button and see if this works :) * o

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Finding Freedom in the Common

The other day I was browsing through a back issue of "Personal Journaling" magazine and came across an article about using a "commonplace book", or a book to record "unremarkable activities". The article discussed using a common book to keep a listing of the events of the day.

At last, I thought, something I can relate to! See, journaling for me has always been a sporadic process. Intimidated by the thought that any journaling has to be profound, I avoid writing in mine for weeks on end because I just don't have anything profound to say. I further complicate this process by reading journals of great writers and finding my entries pitiful in comparison. And so the page remains blank because the inner critic has already squashed the creative process.

On the other hand, keeping a list of the days happenings seemed to be painless. I decided to give it a try.

I'm one week into the practice of using the common book. It's a remarkably freeing process. The common book doesn't require long, dramatic entries - just simple, short bullet point lists will do. I can fill it out in ten minutes or less. I keep the notebook in my purse and often jot something down during the day. Somedays the entries are pretty mundane - "got groceries", "chicken for supper", "finished newsletter". Once in a while something a little more inspiring slips through - "drove TJ to Red Rock and saw an awesome rainbow over the mountain. Skies soon clouded over again and went back to a misty rain. Weather site on the web calls it 'distant precipitation' ".

This listing of daily events frees me up to be more creative in my other journal. This journal is more like a scrapbook. Larger and with big blank pages that I can draw on, paste on, and scribble on. Sometimes I'll paste emails and letters into it, or notes from friends. I save movie and concert ticket stubs and paste those in - adding a little note about the performance. If I want to write a long diatribe, I have lots of room. I can cut out words and pictures from magazines and make a collage.

Because I've cleared out the clutter of my day and poured it into the common book, I can play in my scrapbook journal as often or as little as I want. I know I'll mine the common book later - to remember things that have happened, to write more about something I've recorded, to dig out nuggets for a poem.

No longer do my days seem to disappear in a blur. The minutiae of my everyday life is duly jotted down in my little common book. * o

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Death of an Appliance - Reflections on Stress and Prayer

My week started and ended the same way - with the death of an appliance.

It started Monday morning. In the middle of drying my hair, with a half wet head, the motor on my hair dryer sped up, let out a high pitch whine and quit with the odorous aroma of burnt wiring.

It ended Friday evening. Wanting a second cup of tea, I flicked the switch on the electric kettle. Nothing happened. The very kettle that had just made a boiling cup of tea not more than half an hour previous could not even muster up a semi-boil. It had just enough energy to operate the "on" light and that was all.

Now the hair dryer's death I could understand. It had lived a long life and served its master well. But the kettle? It was barely a year old, it had hardly even begun to make tea! Sigh - so young to pass on.

My appliances are an odd parody of how I've been feeling lately. A little worn out, a little ready to give up. Sometimes my motor's running on a high whine and I think I catch a whiff of burnt wiring as I'm running out the door. At other times, I simply refuse to start up. The light's on, but I'm not boiling!

Good old stress has caught up to me. I become angry, resentful, and withdrawn. It was during this withdrawn, melancholy time, looking for words of comfort from scripture, that I was perusing The Book of Common Prayer, and came across this prayer for Eventide:

O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, Lord, in thy mercy, grant us safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

All the day long of this troublous life - that one phrase says it all. The writer of this prayer understood stress. And reminds me in whose peace I rest.

May the Lord grant you safe lodging, a holy rest and peace.

@2005 Eveline Maedel - All rights reserved
* o

Basho! Banana Tree

Thoughts on a Haiku Master

A banana plant in the autumn gale -
I listen to the dripping of rain
Into a basin at night.
~ Basho Matsuo (1644- 1694)

Basho sits outside his hut, gazing at his beloved banana plant. Rain falls, winds blow, seasons come and go, and still he gazes. Pouring boiling hot water onto fragrant tea leaves in a clay pot, he inhales the rising steam. The leaves of the banana plant rustle in the moonlight.

Basho, where are your drafts, outlines, rough sketches? Do you journal? How many hours a day do you write? Where are your morning pages, your marketing plans, your queries, your submissions?

A smile cracks his face, as Basho dips brush into ink and strokes the paper on his lap. In three short lines, it is finished.

In three short lines - the heart and soul of the poet. It is finished.

@2005 Eveline Maedel All rights reserved * o

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Phantom of the Opera

I have a cold. My son had knee surgery last week. Two seemingly unrelated events, yet they brought us together this afternoon. How? Since his surgery, my living-room has become recovery room central for my son. He eats, sleeps and watches TV on the pull out bed in the center of the room. We live around him.

A wicked head cold today helped me to decide to stay home and rest myself. Since I had a "captive" audience, I snuggled up on the other couch beside him and popped in my new DVD, "Phantom of the Opera". He couldn't very well run out of the room.

I have been in love with the Phantom story since first hearing the Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtrack years ago. It had always been a dream of mine to see the cast perform on stage at Pantages Theater in Toronto, but that dream never materialized. I was thrilled when I heard that a motion picture had been made and couldn't wait to get my hands on the DVD when it was released this month.

It did not disappoint. Emmy Rossum's voice sent goose-bumps up and down my arms. It was sheer joy to hear the all familiar tunes performed. And the visual effects in the movie are stunning.

For over two hours, the two of us were spellbound and glued to the TV. And what did my captive teenage son think at the end? He gave the film a resounding thumbs up.

Several years ago I read Susan Kay's novel, "Phantom". If you are haunted by the Phantom as I am, you have got to get your hands on a copy of this novel. Kay takes Gaston Leroux's original "Phantom of the Opera" and builds on it, digging deep into what created the Phantom, making him more than just the opera ghost, but an incredible three-dimensional character. Man or monster? I'll leave that to you decide, after you've read her story.

Just be sure to read it late at night, with the lights low. What's that chilling draft you feel on your neck? Is that music you hear?

"Beneath the opera house....I know he's there........." * o

Sunday, May 08, 2005

With Apologies to Bill Shakespeare

I sweep, perchance to Swiffer
and vacuum, perchance to mop
for in that sweeping what thoughts are cleansed
cobwebs blown from dusty corners
problems solved in swift motion
what peace in Saturday
to sweep, to clean no more

@2005 Eveline Maedel - may not be reproduced without permission * o

More Travels on the Web

I have a few gems to share this week from my journeys on the web.

Rhodi Alers de Lopez
Writer and singer, Rhodi Alers de Lopez has just released her first CD, "Me Faltan Palabras" (My words are insufficient). A country flavored gospel album, with words in Spanish, this is a beautiful and uplifting work of praise music. Listening to it this morning, I was reminded that no matter what language you sing in (Spanish/English) or what style (gospel/opera), music truly is the language of the soul. Rhodi is also a writer, and her blog, Inkspirations, is worth checking out.

Nana's Notecards
If you're searching for notecards and such, check out Vicki Hawkins website, "Nana's Notecards & Such" You can choose from Vicki's designs featured on the site, or have Vicki custom design notecards for you. I was more than pleased with the cards Vicki did up for me. She's a delight to work with, and VERY fast!

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Throne
Humor writer Georgia Richardson has just released her first novel, A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to the Throne. Available in 2 weeks, you can pre-order copies now on her website. Hurry, they are bound to sell fast - Da Queen has a lot of fans!

And thanks to Erica Miner, for linking to my blog on her website! * o

Saturday, April 23, 2005


With "Opera Babes" in the CD player, I head out for my evening walk. My journey takes me to the old cemetary and I wander amongst the long forgotten graves tucked into the woods, haunted by the past. Who sleeps here? Who mourned their loss?

"O Fortuna" provides the perfect backdrop to my melancholy mood.

"Fate, monstrous
and empty
you whirling wheel,
you are malevolent,
well-being in vain
and always fades to nothing."

Soprano and mezzo soprano soar and whirl around me, like the leaves stirred by the wind.

The untended graves are starting to sink in the ground, leaving deep impressions and I morbidly imagine them rising to the surface. Shaking off the image, I head back out to the road.

Would that I could bury past resentments and hurts, but mine lay hidden in shallow graves, occasionally rising to the surface again. A half-buried conversation rises, "Why do we take back what we have given away?" Yes, why reclaim the past?

I long for an unoffended heart. For now, I give the resentment over to prayer. Every time it rises, I offer it up again.

Fate, malevolent you may be - but God is ever benevolent and loving. My fate rests in him.

I arrive at my back door, resentment left behind in long forgotten graves.

@2005 Eveline Maedel - may not be reproduced without permission * o

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Please Pass the Prozac

I'm not sure there's enough chamomile tea in the world to calm me now. This morning I became the mother of a sixteen year old son with a beginner driver's license. Look out world! * o

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Opera and Prayer

I'll be the first to admit I know little about opera, aside from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, The Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, and the saying "it's not over 'til the fat lady sings." My friend Erica, has been patiently trying to instruct me in the finer joys of opera. It's obvious when you read Erica's writing that she is passionate about opera, so I appreciate her patience with this "non-aficionado".

Testing the waters, I asked Erica what she would recommend for a beginner listener and she suggested some operas by her favorite composer, Puccini. Timidly, I journeyed to HMV and purchased a CD of selected Puccini compositions. So begins my exploration of opera.

Not too long ago, Erica sent me a poem by Marge Piercy from her collection COLORS PASSING THROUGH US. The poem is entitled, "One reason I like opera". Piercy speaks disdainfully of the movie world, with its focus on the visually appealing. The heroine is always
beautiful. the "fat lady a joke". And the pretty people always win. In opera, on the other hand, the heroine is old and heavy, the hero "wolfs down an eight course meal daily". It is the voices that are beautiful, passionate, strong, lusty, deep and mournfully soul filling. Opera is the real world, movies the glitzy world.

This I get. I can listen to my Puccini CD, not understand a word of what is being sung, but the emotions resonate within me. There is no need for any language other than that of music. I close my eyes and follow the music's path. For all I know, they could be singing a grocery list. But oh, what passion it is sung with!

Can you imagine if we prayed with such a passion? David did in the Psalms. Consider Psalm 13:
"How long, Or Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death:" (Psalm 13:1-3, NIV)

David's prayers are opera. Mine are more like movies - pretty on the surface, but not too deep, too passionate. * o

A Little Help for My Friend

My friend Rosanne has an ezine, The Cat's Meow for Writers and Readers.

She wrote me last night to let me know that she has received tons of submissions for her e-zine, but few that she can feature in the "Coffee House" section, so, if you're reading this and you are a budding poet or short story writer, check out Rosanne's website, read the submission guidelines and send your submissions in! You may be the next "Featured Poet".

I can tell you that Rosanne is one of the sweetest people out there, and loves to promote aspiring writers - and that's the "cat's meow"! * o

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Signs of Spring

Sunlight plays with
delicate purple shadows
and whispers of summer yet to be.
Drunk on languid winter days,
I dream of a luscious garden.

Spring fever is setting in. I'm restless, can't concentrate, and don't seem to accomplish much. (Wait a minute, I blamed cabin fever for that last month!). The top 5 signs that spring is here?

1. Hubby puts snowmachine in the garage.
2. The BBQ takes it's rightful place on the deck.
3. The patio furniture comes out of storage.
4. Kids are all over the place on their bikes, and
5. Dog poo sprouts on the lawn!

Now, if the geese would just start returning, spring would definitely be here! * o

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Two of the Funniest Women on the Web

Stressful day? Need a good laugh? Then check out these two ladies, absolutely two of the funniest women writer's out there. I'm glad I don't have to give out humour awards (yes, that's "humour", I spell Canadian).

Georgia Richardson, or Queen Jaw Jaw to her court of fans, always finds a humorous twist to everyday life. Not only is her website beautiful, its funny! Be sure to sign up for her Monday morning dose of humour "All Things Royal" - great way to start the week.

Queen Jaw Jaw

Another "twisted sister", Sherri, the "Queen of her double wide trailer" generally has me rolling on the floor with laughter. I frequently check her blog for updates (but then, I don't have a life...)
Wiping The Crazy Off My Face: Cause I Said So

Enjoy! And keep laughing - it's good for you. * o

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Farewell, Karol

When I was a young teen I came across this poem written by Pope John Paul II in a magazine. It was written before he was a parish priest. I had this poem pinned up on my wall for many years, before tucking it away in one of my poetry books. To me it held the promise of youth, a future yet unknown, written by a man before he became spiritual leader to millions world wide.


Growing unawares through love, of a sudden
they've grown up, and hand in hand
wander in crowds (their hearts caught like birds,
profiles pale in the dusk).
The pulse of mankind beats in their hearts.

On a bank by the river, holding hands-
a tree stump in moonlight, the earth a half-whisper-
the children's hearts rise over the water.
Will they be changed when they get up and go?

Or look at it this way: a goblet of light tilted
over a plant reveals unknown inwardness.
Will you spoil what has begun in you?
Will you always separate the right from the wrong?
- Karol Woytyla

Farewell, Karol - poet and pope. In peace, and in glory.
* o

Monday, April 04, 2005

Poetry and Patchouli

It was a beautiful day Saturday - warm and sunny. The promise of spring in the air. I'd sat all day indoors at a meeting and had just been dropped off at the mall for a quick "kill an hour shopping" moment. The first thing to beckon me as I entered the mall? The local library having a used book sale. Nothing better than browsing up and down the tables looking for an odd find, a good bargain, a well perused novel. Twenty minutes later I was paying for a $3.00 copy of
"Everyman's Book of English Verse". A heavy tome from 1981 that promises hours well spent with the masters - Milton, Shakespeare, Marlowe et al. Book in hand I wandered to the Body Shop in search of patchouli. And if patchouli could not be found, then something heady, spicy and exotic would have to do. Lotions, potions, soaps and creams - all had to be smelled. Too fruity? Pass that up. Too flowery? Nope, that won't do. A rather persistent young sales clerk followed my every move, commenting on everything I picked up, hoping to make a sale. Just when I thought she was beginning to border on annoying (or had she actually passed annoying about five minutes earlier?) I spotted the patchouli oil, and some "scent your own body lotion". Happy to give her a task to do, I asked her to infuse some lotion with the patchouli oil.

So it was an hour later I left the mall. Poetry and patchouli in hand. * o