Friday, August 31, 2012

End of Summer

The sun set, a bright red ball behind man-made shapes of the city skyline. I stood high on the hill facing west watching as the last daylight of August faded away. Today was hot, humid and dusty and a haze hung in the horizon.

I turned to the east and watched as the full moon rose through the haze, a "blue moon" that was pink and pale. The seasons are changing. Last evening I walked to the top of the same hill an hour earlier to watch the almost full moon rise. A pair of Kestrels hovered and danced together in front of the moon. Large flocks of black birds gathered to roost for the night.

I am not sorry to see this long hot summer draw to a close. Autumn is my favourite season and two Septembers in a row would please me greatly. But we are given one day at a time and that is sufficient. We watched the moon rise higher in the night sky, turning yellow as the haze filtered its light.

Goodbye August...
hello September.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Thoughts While Making Bread

Atkins, South Beach, Wheat Belly, Paleo diet, gluten intolerance. 

Bread has a bad reputation among many people in an overfed first world. Refined flours, preservatives, added sugars and difficult to pronounce ingredients keep grocery store bread soft and fresh for many days. “Day old bread” is a meaningless term today. Over consumption of refined food may cause sensitivities and allergies in time.

One of my patients, an elderly Scotsman, told me about the bakery he ran in his small town many years ago. He started work at 4 AM, baked and then delivered fresh Scottish baps or breakfast rolls to the doorsteps of his customers before they were out of bed. Someone from the house would collect the newspaper and fresh bread each day before breakfast. 

Chapatis, tortillas, pitas, injera, naan, roti, lavash, and a multitude of ethic flatbreads.

People all over the world go through the daily ritual of making bread as a dietary staple. Bread is the utensil, the dish, the substance of their diet. Milled grain, water, salt and optional leavenings make a simple recipe for basic meals. 

Stollen, Challah, Panettone, Rosca de Reyes, Paska bread. 

My sister-in-law makes several loaves of Molasses Raisin Bread or Lassie Raisin Bread every Christmas. She hasn’t lived in Newfoundland since she was a school-aged girl but this “Newfie” tradition identifies her as a native of The Rock. Bread is a symbolic part of holiday celebrations in most cultures. 

I knead the dough on the counter until the whole grains are well combined and smooth. Breaking off a piece, I roll it flat and place it in a hot, ungreased pan. It cooks in a minute and is added to the stack of fresh bread wrapped in a clean towel. 

I think about Jesus’ affirmation that he was the bread of life, a bread essential for health, eaten daily, and shared with others. Our communion bread consists of stale crackers or tasteless cubes of white fluff that dissolve in the roof of my mouth, hardly a good representation of life-giving food.

O taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in him...Ps 34:8

Is our religious faith so refined, so full of additives and man-made preservatives that it causes sensitivity, intolerance and digestive pain over time? The simplicity of the gospel is lost in the long and complicated ingredient list.

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27

Simple, wholesome ingredients- 
love, a pure heart and motives, 
mixed with faith and good works-
the bread of life.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Phantom Phone

Life sometimes produces more questions than answers.

Our phone rang close to midnight, startling me even more when I recognized the number belonged to the hospital where I work. I answered and heard nothing but a crackling rhythm on the line. The calls to our home continued in the evenings two or three times a week and then at 3 AM on Sunday morning a week ago.

I contacted the administrator to ask what could be done to stop the calls. I suspected a fax machine was dialing, but the phone in our treatment room was identified by the communications department as the source of the calls. This room is locked when I go home and no one should enter the area until we return the next day. 

The lady in the communications office suggested that if I call home from the phone during the day, someone could push the redial button and call our number again. I do phone home sometimes, but who would push the redial button in the middle of the night, and why? My manager suggested changing the door lock and staff who work nights became the first suspects.

The next day I was in the room charting at a computer table away from the phone. I heard a dial tone and listened to the speaker as the phone called the last outgoing number by itself. I heard the familiar crackling rhythm and realized that no person was responsible for the mystery calls. I contacted the lady who had been investigating to report what had happened. 

“Impossible!” she said. “There has to be a physical force to activate the redial button.” 

There was no visible physical force and a co-worker confirmed that the phone dialed on its own. That afternoon I called my work voicemail number before leaving and sure enough there was a mysterious message awaiting the next morning. Personally, I was relieved that the calls to our home were not from someone trying to harass us.

The night nurses on the floor say a call bell goes off in an empty room from time to time. They are sure our resident ghost Francine, a nurse who died at the hospital when it was a TB Sanatorium, is active on our unit. 

I believe there is an electronic malfunction in the telephone and a new phone has been ordered. 

But if the calls continue on another phone... 

October 1, 2012- Update

The phone was not replaced but the calls stopped as suddenly as they started a few days after I wrote this post. Very strange indeed!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer 2012

Summer is slipping by and in some ways it has been long in going. It was a fine summer to be at a lake where fresh breezes moderated the prolonged heat and drought. We spent too few days near the water and too many days in the city. The days are getting shorter and cooler at last and my mind, lacking inspiration and reflection in the heat, is awakening with the change in seasons. I purposefully read more books, relaxed outdoors, rode my bike, played with the dog, visited with family and decreased my computer use during my spare time this summer. Balance is elusive and easy to lose with the many distractions in our society. Sometimes I feel over run with information, much of it compelling at the time but irrelevant in the end.

My favourite quote of the summer...

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, 
their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis, 1905

You would almost think Oscar Wilde knew something about the internet! Sometimes you must step back to think, reflect and find yourself again.