Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

To make Comments write directly to Jim at jimt@quixotic.ca


Published on Saturday, July 9, 2022

On having power, or not

Thursday June 30, 2022


Two scenes. Or maybe two sides of the same scene.

            My street has been torn up for several weeks. The municipality is installing a new water main. I don’t know why -- the water pressure coming into my house already exceeds municipal standards.

            Installing the new pipes involves ripping up several blocks worth of paving. Digging a ditch. And filling the ditch in again. All of which involves a lot of heavy equipment. And because it affects traffic -- which in this relatively remote little subdivision amounts to about two cars per hour -- the construction company requires flaggers.

            I looked out my window one morning and saw a flagger doing a cheerleader dance with her STOP and SLOW sign. She had a rhythm going with her feet. She swung the sign above her, behind her, to this side and that side.

            Or maybe it wasn’t a dance. Maybe she was just trying to keep warm in the chilly morning air.

            Whatever it was, it gave her some reason for being there when no traffic needed directing.


Risky… and boring

            Flaggers do not have an enviable job. Aside from low pay, they either stand around feeling useless most of the day. Or they get abuse from impatient drivers, angry at being delayed for no apparent reason.

            Over the years, several flaggers have been killed on highway construction projects. Perhaps the speeding drivers didn’t see them, despite their reflective vests. Or couldn’t stop in time. Or just didn’t care about anything but their own “freedom”.

            When we were building our church, the contractor had to dig a short ditch across the road. He deputized a couple of older men as flaggers. The system worked, as long as the big yellow excavator was visible.

            When it moved out of the way, though, to make room for the crew connecting the underground line, several drivers ranted: “You’ve got no right to stop me! I’ve got to get through!” (I’ve deleted their profanities.)

            One driver refused to wait, or to take an alternate route. She stomped on her gas pedal. Roared through.

            And crashed into the ditch.

            The excavator, when it returned, had to extricate her car. With his scoop shovel.  I still wonder how she explained the damages to her insurance company.


Changing preferences

            When I was younger, I sometimes dreamed of running one of those big earth-moving machines. Of having the power to move mountains. Of having the mechanical precision to pick a rose with a gigantic bucket.

            Today, I think I’d rather be a flagger -- despite the risks. The present world of trade, sanctions, climate change, money laundering, opiate overdoses, racist attacks, school shootings, invasions, Supreme Court rulings, cancel culture, and pandemics moves a little too fast for me.

            I’d love to hold up a sign that says SLOW.

            Or even better, STOP! Like the 1960’s musical by Anthony Newley, Stop the World; I Want to Get Off!

            It won’t happen. The new water main will go ahead, right through a hawthorn tree I planted 15 years ago. It blossoms pink every spring. But it’s in the way of Progress with a capital P.

            Not that the flagger inn front of my driveway cares about all that stuff. She’s just trying to avoid being bored out of her hard-hat.


Copyright © 2022 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.

                  To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca





Tom Watson was impressed by my journalling: “Wow! 58 years worth of journal entries. A treasure trove!” [JT: Maybe…]


Isabel Gibson: “As we look at a now-deceased parent's diaries and scrapbooks -- maintained for at least 80 years -- the volume is overwhelming. One temptation is to chuck it all -- or to move it all to a new shelf, where it will sit until *we* die.

            “The challenge is to find a way to make it accessible to the generations that follow, and not to lose the embedded gems.

            “It's not easy, but when I consider how much I value any little scraps from the lives of grandmothers and great-grandmothers, I know that it's worth trying to find a solution. Having too much is a problem, but one I'd rather face than having nothing.”


Sandy Carpenter: “I wrote ‘diaries’ when I was in grade school; those have long disappeared. But the journals that I started in 1971 are all in a large tote in my bedroom, and I continue to write in a journal. There are many gaps over the years for one reason or another, but being a very ‘touchy-feely’ sensitive person, I found that writing my perspective on events in my life helped me to sort out my emotions. I also took some time to simply write down history, the weather, or write letters or prayers to God. Whatever was on my mind, I would debrief onto those pages. There was a point about a decade ago when I considered destroying them, for I bare my heart and soul in them. But then I thought that perhaps they would be helpful to my family to get a better idea of who I was after I'm gone ~ the good, the bad, and the ugly. (I'd always longed to know my mother who kept her feelings and history locked up tightly in her heart). And who knows? Maybe they might even learn something from my stumblings and mistakes! All in all, I find it a good spiritual practice, and I highly recommend it!”


Ginny Adams: ccmmented, “This column hits me where I live.  My Mother kept a diary. It had about 3 lines for each day -- the weather, events of the day, and times when one of us kids drove her mad. 

            “She encouraged me to keep a diary too. It didn't work -- I needed more space, needed the freedom to write down whatever was on my mind.  So I began journalling -- and I have some boxes of them, currently I have a shelf full of the retirement years.  And I've learned some very valuable things from this process:

    1.  It helps me to focus on gratitude -- the glass-half -ull moments of life;

    2. It helps me to think through my daily activities, to see God in the boring of everyday;

    3.  It keeps depression away -- totally:

    4.  It brings me to see how my Higher Power is walking with me through everything, every moment of each day.

            “And that's enough -- as is this reply to you.  Guess I'd better get out the journal and write some more!”


Clare Neufeld did some musings about paraphrases, basically asking “Aren’t they all paraphrases?”

            About my Psalm paraphrases, he asked, “How might I acquire a copy of your version (paraphrase) of the Psalms? [JT: send an email to info@woodlake.com] Is it available through Kindle app, for electronic reading/storage? 

            “I recently learned of another ‘paraphrase’ version of the New Testament -- thought you might enjoy it: First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament.”




Psalm paraphrase


Psalm 30 was written long before the advent of what was called (sometimes scornfully) “women’s liberation.” I suspect that the greatest liberation for many women was to discover that they were not intrinsically inferior to the men in their lives.


1          My God, O my God, what a gift you have given me!

2          I thought I was born a loser;
you have given me self-esteem.

3          I used to let others speak for me;
I let others think for me. I felt I was nothing.
You have given me life.

4          I am not a faulty copy of anyone else, God.
I am me. Thank you.

5, 7      Once I thought God despised me.
But I have felt God's gentle hands lift me into the light.

8          I cried silently in the night, afraid to be heard.
I stifled my own suffering.
I thought I didn't matter.

9          I could have died -- but I was afraid no one would notice.

10        "Can anyone hear me?" I cried. "Does anyone care?"

11        And you heard me, God.
You turned my rainclouds into rainbows;
you stirred spices into the watery soup of my life.

12        I am done with self-abasement.
I will delight in me and in you forever.


You can find paraphrases of most of the psalms in the Revised Common Lectionary in my book Everyday Psalmsavailable from Wood Lake Publishing, info@woodlake.com.






If you want to comment on something, send a message directly to me, jimt@quixotic.ca.

                  To subscribe or unsubscribe, send an e-mail message to jimt@quixotic.ca. Or you can subscribe electronically by sending a blank e-mail (no message or subject line) to softedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca. Similarly, you can un-subscribe at softedges-unsubscribe@lists.quixotic.ca.

                  I write a second column each Sunday called Sharp Edges, which tends to be somewhat more cutting about social and justice issues. To sign up for Sharp Edges, write to me directly, jimt@quixotic.ca, or send a note to sharpedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca

                  And for those of you who like poetry, please check my webpage .https://quixotic.ca/My-Poetry If you’d like to receive notifications about new poems, write me at jimt@quixotic.ca, or subscribe yourself to the list by sending a blank email (no message) to poetry-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca (If it doesn’t work, please let me know.)






To use the links in this section, you’ll have to insert the necessary symbols. Some spam filters have blocked my posts because they’re suspicious of some of the web links.

                  Wayne Irwin's “Churchweb Canada,” an inexpensive service for any congregation wanting to develop a web presence, with free consultation. http://wwwDOTchurchwebcanadaDOTca He’s also relatively inexpensive!

                  I recommend Isabel Gibson’s thoughtful and well-written blog, wwwDOTtraditionaliconoclastDOTcom. She also has lots of beautiful photos. Especially of birds.

                  Tom Watson writes a weekly blog called “The View from Grandpa Tom’s Balcony” -- ruminations on various subjects, and feedback from Tom’s readers. Write him at tomwatsoATgmailDOTcom (NB that’s “watso” not “watson”)



                  I have acquired (don’t ask how) the complete archive of the late Alva Wood’s collection of satiric and sometimes wildly funny columns about a mythical village’s misadventures. I’ve put them on my website: http://quixotic.ca/Alva-Wood-Archive. You’re welcome to browse. No charge. (Although maybe if I charged a fee, more people would find the archive worth visiting.)


Comments (0)Number of views (42)

Author: Jim Taylor

Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Flaggers, STOP, construction



"gate of the year" #MeToo .C. Taylor 150th birthday 1950s 1954 1972 1984 215 3G 70 years 9/11 A A God That Could Be Real abduction aboriginal abortion Abrams abuse achievement Adam addiction Addis Ababa adoption Adrian Dix Advent advertising affirmative action Afghanistan aging agnostics Ahriman Ahura Mazda airlines airport killings Alabama albinism albinos Alexa algorithms Allegations allies Almighty Almighty God alone ALS alt-right altruism Amanda Gorman Amanda Todd Amazon American empire Amerika Amherst amnesia analysis Andes Andrea Constant Andrew Copeland Taylor anger animals anniversaries Anniversary Anthropocene antidote Ants aphrodisiac apologetics Apologies apology apoptosis App Store Archives Ardern Aristotle armistice Armstrong army Army and Navy stores Art artifacts artists ashes Asian assisted death astronomy atheists atonement atropine Attawapiscat attitudes attraction audits Aunt Jemima Australia authorities authorities. Bible autism automation autumn B.C. election B.C. Health Ministry B.C. Legislature B-2 baby Bach bad news baggage Bagnell Bahai Baldi Bali Banda banning books Baptism Barabbas Barbados barbed wire barbers barriers Bashar al Assad Batman baton BC BC Conference Beans bears beauty Beaver Beethoven beginnings behaviour bel-2 belief systems beliefs bells belonging benefits Bernardo Berners-Lee berries Bible biblical sex bicycle Biden Bill C-6 billboards billionaire BioScience Bird songs birds birth birthday birthdays Bitcoin Black history Blackmore blessings Blockade blockades blood blood donations blood donors Bloomberg Blue Christmas boar boarding school body Bohr bolide Bolivia Bolivian women BOMBHEAD bombing bombings bombs books border patrol borrowing both/and bottom up Bountiful Brahms brain development brains Brazil breath breathe breathing Brexit broken Bruce McLeod bubbles Buber Buddha Buddhism Bulkley bulldozers bullets bullying burials bus driver bush pilots butterflies butterfly Calendar California Cambridge Analytica. Facebook cameras campfire Canada Canada Day Canadian Blood services Canal Flats cancer cannibalism Canute Capitol Capp caregivers Caribbean Caribbean Conference of Churches caring Carnaval. Mardi Gras carousel cars Carter Commission cash castes cats cave caveats CBC CD Cecil the lion. Zanda cell phones Celsius CentrePiece CF chance change Charlie Gard Charlottesville Charter of Compassion Checklists checkups chemical weapons Chesapeake Bay Retriever Chesterton Child Advocacy Centre child trafficking childbirth children Chile Chile. Allende China chivalry chocolates choice choices choirs Christchurch Christiaanity Christian Christianity Christians Christina Rossetti Christine Blasey Ford Christmas Christmas Eve Christmas gathering Christmas lights Christmas tree Christmas trees Christopher Plummer church churches circle of life Clarissa Pinkola Estés Clearwater Clichés cliffhanger climate change climate crisis clocks close votes clouds Coastal GasLink coastal tribes coffee coincidence cold collaboration collapse collective work colonial colonial mindset colonies Colten Boushie Columbia River Columbia River Treaty comfort comic strips commercials communication Communion community compassion competition complexity composers composting computer processes Computers conception conclusions Confederacy Confederate statues confession confessions confidence Confirmation confusion Congo Congress Conrad Black consciousness consensual consent conservative Conservative Party conspiracies conspiracy constitution construction contraception contrasts Conversations Conversion conversion therapy Convoy cooperation COP26 copyright coral Cornwallis corona virus coronavirus corporate defence corporations corruption Corrymeela Cosby Cougars counter-cultural Countercurrents couple courtesy courts Covenant Coventry Cathedral COVID-19 Coyotes CPP CPR CRA Craig crashes Crawford Bay creation creche credit credit cards creeds cremation crescent Creston crime criminal crossbills cross-country skiing Crows crucifixion Cruelty crypto-currencies Cuba Missile Crisis Cultural appropriation cuneiform Curie curling cutbacks cyberbullying Cystic Fibrosis Dalai Lama Damien Damocles Dan Rather dancing Danforth dark matter darkness Darren Osburne Darwin data mining daughter David David Scott David Suzuki de Bono dead zone deaf deafness death death survival deaths debt decision decisions decorations deficit Definitions Delhi Dementia democracy Democratic denial Denny's departure Depression Derek Chauvin Descartes Desiderata despair determinism Devin Kelley dew dawn grass Diana Butler-Bass dinosaurs discontinuities discussion Dishwashing dissent distancing diversity division divorce dog dogs dominance Don Cherry Donald Trump donkey Donna Sinclair donor doorways Doug Ford Doug Martindale Dr. Keith Roach Dr. Seuss dreaming dreams Drugs ducks duets Duvalier dying Dylan Thomas earth Earth Day earthquake Earworms Easter Eat Pray Love Ebola echo chambers e-cigarettes eclipse economics Eden editing editing by committee Edwards-Sawatzky ego Egypt eight-track tapes Einstein either/or election Elizabeth Gilbert Ellithorpe email embassy emergency emergent emotions Empire encryption Englehart English Entropy
Copyright 2022 by Jim Taylor  |  Powered by: Churchweb Canada