Monthly Archives: December 2012

What Was that Name?


          Decades ago, before I had the frosty white hair I now use as an excuse for my forgetfulness, I was embarrassed constantly by forgetting people’s names. 

          One autumn week-end I was attending a workshop for women, one of those weekend retreats we used to hold in the eighties, where people re-enacted painful events of their younger years and went through a catharsis to cure them of their traumas. 

          Well, while standing in my bathrobe and slippers, brushing my teeth in the common bathroom, I started a conversation with one of the participants.  I told her my name and she told me hers, and then I said, “I hope I won’t forget it.” 

          “It’s easy to remember,” she said, rinsing off her toothbrush. “Just think of Woody Allen.”

          “I will,” I promised. 

          The rest of the weekend passed in the way we all expected it to; with lots of screaming, crying, hugging, and finally a closing ritual to bring us all back to our usual calm demeanours, so we could once more go out and face the world.

          A few weeks later, I was walking along a busy street in Victoria with a friend from work and I saw my new acquaintance on the other side of the street.  Proud that I remembered her face AND her name, I waved and shouted, “Hi, Woody!”

          She waved back.

          My friend, who was acquainted with her, said, “That’s funny.  I thought her name was Ellen.”

          “Oh, no,” I replied.  “Her name is Woody.  I met her at a retreat and I’m positive that’s her name.”

          My friend shrugged and I didn’t think of it again.

          A year or more passed and once again I ran into her, this time at a potluck.

          “Hi, Woody,” I said, grabbing a plate and getting in line right behind her.  “How are you?”

          She looked at me and said, very gently, “I don’t use that name any more.”

          “You don’t?”  I asked, now a little worried because I didn’t know how I was going to unlearn the old name and remember the new one.

          “What name do you use now?”  I enquired cautiously.

          “Ellen,” she replied.

          I suddenly remembered that community bathroom and her suggestion that I remember her name, Ellen, by thinking of Woody Allen.  I was mortified.  I must have blushed the colour of the pickled beets on the table.

          “Ellen,” I repeated.  “I’ll just think of Woody Allen.”

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Saying good-bye – the burial of the placentas


Mother carry me,

          Your child I will always be,

          Mother carry me,

          Down to the Sea

In a sacred grove overlooking the ocean, with cedars overhead, and sheep grazing on the hillside, a circle of children, young parents and elders, celebrated with the four children whose placentas were reunited with Mother Earth.

          We are the weavers, we are the woven ones,

          We are the dreamers, we are the dream.

Everyone helped dig the four holes, north, south, east, and west.

Rose petals, acorns, cedar, and birch bark were sprinkled as the placentas were lowered into the ground, to return to the earth.

Placentas are buried in the circle of the sun

          Circle of the sun on their burying day.

          Babies are born in the circle of the sun,

          Circle of the sun on their birthing day.

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