Thursday, October 30, 2014

Whaaaaa?? I Don't Understand...But Today Will Still Be a Good Day!

Using an incredible lack of far sightedness the powers that be in our little town decided earlier this week that they are not going to go along with Stars Air Ambulance's request for a two dollar per resident surcharge from the province's municipalities for the 2015 budget year.

I should freak out and say "I can't believe this!!", but unfortunately I find it frighteningly easy to believe.  The town council is going to send a letter on to explain why they don't feel a need to further supplement this life saving service through such a tiny amount charged per resident.  It would appear they will likely be one of the only towns in our area to make this decision, but time will tell if other town councils make an equally ridiculous decision that will eventually effect our quality of services despite Stars' promise, for the time being, to the contrary.

Between this cockamamie decision that, at worst would put up our residents' taxes by a miniscule amount per year, plus the administrative problems/medical politicking at our medical clinic that recently resulted in the loss of one of our best doctors after a few years of having almost no local doctor care at all, I am wondering if this is a safe place to live?  It wasn't for awhile and I thank the Lord I am not one of the people who lost life and/or quality of life through heart attack and stroke during those doctorless years, but I am stymied by this continued dedication to lack of excellence that seems to plague our town on a number of levels.

If I hear the phrases, "that's good enough" or "that's too much work" or "why would we want to do that" one more time I am going to scream!!!

On a more positive note, my husband was able to get away very early this morning for his long drive to the Archdeacons' retreat...although not a retreat from 2 days of meetings.  He was cheery, maybe because he was too tired and stunned to be otherwise after such  busy week thus far, but still it was nice to see him smiling and with colour in his face today.

He really enjoyed the Newcomers' Fair that happened at the local Elks hall last night.  He had a little booth set up for our church and quite happily and surprisingly with very short notice that we would be representing there, one of the church wardens was able to join him. They had a great time meeting all kinds of people and promoting our worship space.

The snow is holding off so far so it appears the wee ones will have a dry and hopefully safe time tomorrow trick 'n' treating.  My husband should have a safe trip home weatherwise and I pray there will be no drunk drivers on the road on what should just be a fun, if silly, night for the kids in town.  I am able to pad out our candy giving with no resentment that I am expected to contribute to the rotting of childrens' teeth: the local A&W was handing out bags of suckers at the Newcomers' Fair and gave an extra leftover one to my husband for us to hand out tomorrow night.  Yay, I get to be curmudgeonly about Halloween handouts without having to admit it to anyone but the readers of this blog! teehee

A friend from Ontario is calling me today and we always have the best chats. Her life recently was turned upside down in the most postive of ways by leaving Alberta and returning to her childhood home.

I am going to take advantage of our few degrees of warmth today and take a long walk to WallyWorld after lunch to seek out a decent 65th anniversary card for one of our church couples and hopefully find as well nice birthday cards for my mom and auntie who will turn 87 and 89 respectively next month.  

I think today will be another good day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

When Does a Person Call in the Health Inspector?

Recently I had a meal in a restaurant that was so bad it either defies description or is worthy of an entire post dedicated to just how wretched it was!  I am opting for the latter course, maybe because I still can't believe how bad the food was and I need to see it in print!

I went to a restaurant I rarely go to for one reason or another but have never had reason to suspect the food wasn't just fine.  It is a busy place, so.....must be okay, right?  WRONGO!!!

I ordered a relatively safe meal for my health issues: a chicken wrap.  When it came, with a large side of salad, I was delighted to see there was lots of chicken, the wrap was one of the small ones I can safely eat all of without getting too many carbs and the bit of grated cheese and dressing fell almost within range of the amount of each that I am allowed to have at a meal.

I bit into the wrap, started to chew and nearly vomited the entire mouthful back onto my plate.  The dressing had obviously soured in the bottle and the chicken had the texture of ground "chicken lips" or other chicken body parts that were never intended for human consumption.  This minced, fatty garbage in my wrap had been shaped into little cubes to look just like pieces of chicken breast.  It had the texture of jellied fat.  In other words it was VILE!!

I put down the wrap and started on my salad.  The top of it was fine and the oil and balsamic vinegar dressing was very tasty.  However, as I began to mix it up with my fork I realized that the centre portion of my salad was rotting, slimy and had apparently been spooned onto my plate from a pre-mixed carton without being futher washed or inspected for vegetable fermentation.  Thankfully none of it made it into my mouth before I noticed how disgusting it was.

I could have sent the entire plate of glop back to the kitchen and left the place, BUT there was another problem, a sticky social problem: I was with 2 friends who are both nearly 100 years old and were trying to give me a great treat of an evening out with them.  Their meals looked only moderately better than mine had been but they were heartily enjoying them and were very proud of themselves for taking me out for a "treat".  Aiiii yiiiii....what to do????!!

It seemed a cruelty to let them know, in their ongoing delight, that my meal wasn't even edible so I did what any "good" pastor's wife would do under the circumstances:  I put bite after bite of that meal into my mouth, swallowed as much as I could without barfing it back up instantly and as tactfully as possible spit the rest into my napkin when they weren't looking.  Sigh.....What a messy situation in every way.  SO glad the napkins were banquet sized heavy paper and I had an extra one that came wrapped around my utensils by happy accident.  

My elderly friends were so happy but I couldn't in good conscience let them pay for my meal as originally planned.  As they neared the end of their "veritable feast" as they called their meals, I slipped over to the cash register and picked up the tab.  Since they have taken me out previously twice and not let me pay for anything, I felt it was my turn anyway and finally convinced them that my paying was the right thing to do.  

They drove me home immediately after dinner since it was nearing their bed time.  I walked into the house, raced for the bathroom sink and managed to regurgitate what I had swallowed before sitting down with a hot cup of camomile tea, 3 prunes, a bit of yogourt and a slice of bread and cheese.

Is there any more embarrassing, humilating and confusing social situation to be in as a pastor's wife??  I suppose there is, but I can't think of one right now.

I lay awake in bed later that night wondering if I could make an anonymous call to the health inspector to check out that restaurant, but decided it wasn't a good idea. There is only one in our town and he knows me well from doing annual inspections on our church kitchen. Anonymity would be impossible.  Also, if the rest of the town is happy with that kind of food who am I to complain?  I have the option of never eating there again option I am going to exercise on a daily basis.  

Ewwwwww....yuck!  I am getting tummy upset goose bumps just writing about it.  The people I went out with are the dearest people on the planet and would be upset for weeks if they thought I ended up with a bad meal at their instigation.  Everything worked out just fine in the end, but I admit I have actually prayed that next time we go out we could go elsewhere and they could be just as happy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Great Satiric Novel

Right now I am reading J.K. Rowling's latest effort: "The Casual Vacancy". (Little, Brown and Company: New York, 2012.)

Rowling has captured completely the attitudes, platitudes and personality types of every small town I have ever lived in.  She sees the issues and the non-issues so clearly.  Somehow though she manages to avoid cartoonish stereotypes despite the satiric treatment of her characters and even makes the reader sympathetic to some of their deepest flaws.

I am truly enjoying this completely adult novel by the author of the Harry Potter series.  She understands her setting and characters completely.  As I read along I am either laughing or crying in frustration because I understand the situations in the book so very well.

Monday, October 27, 2014

'Bye 'Bye Beautiful Indian Summer

By 11pm yesterday our wonderful Indian summer weather had come to an end.  A coating of  freezing rain had covered every outdoor surface and a couple of centimeters of snow lay on top of the grass and tree branches.  

This morning it all remains just as it was last night.  The highways are struggling with icy surfaces this morning and there isn't much sound of traffic coming from the street that runs past our house, apart from the school buses. 

Our temperature is to hover around the 0 mark all day and dip down below again tonight.  And thus endeth our lovely autumn.  We knew it was coming but denial is a marvellous coping mechanism before reality strikes with a vengeance.

On the plus side: by tomorrow we should have a high temperature of +3C and the daily highs should be  up to +5C by the end of the week.  After today there is no more snow predicted for awhile.  If that is true then my husband's last long road trip for awhile that happens later this week, should go smoothly.

I am sad because my outdoor walks have come to an end until spring unless this ice melts off for a few days between now and the next snow.  Once again I am so grateful that our large church hall and sanctuary are right next door and I can wander around in there creating walking patterns around the pews and tables and chairs for long periods of time each day.  If the "scenery" is less than fascinating at least my mind is free to think interesting thoughts.

At church yesterday when we realized the forecast was for snow by today we were commenting on how blessed we all feel that we got an "extra" month of autumn weather this year to make up for the lousy spring.  While the dreary grey skies and icy streets and snow piles make us feel kind of  BLAH, we all expressed great gratitude that it has taken this long for the weather to change.  

My husband was so cheery when he got home last night from the weekend of Diocesan seminars.  He enjoyed the fellowship so much with his colleagues and friends, there was a good turnout to the seminar he was co-teaching and he had good sleeps that refreshed him greatly.  He enjoyed travelling with his newly ordained assistant priest and visiting friends the night before the seminars in our former town of residence.  He and his assistant arrived back here nearly 2 hours before the freezing rain and snow began so that was a definite answer to prayer.

Today I slept in for an hour because I had a somewhat late night snack yesterday.  Now it is after 9am and my husband is still sleeping in.  It is his day off so we have decided we have to stop answering phones and checking even personal emails on those days.  So, I had best sign off and shut down for now.  I want to honour his day off by eliminating as many sources of possible stress as I can.

Enjoy Monday everybody! I know I am going to even with the bad weather.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Thanks SO Much for Asking, but Not This Time

Thanks so much to family and friends who emailed to ask me if I would post my little sermon from this morning. Normally I would do that, but this time it was tailored to address a particular problem our parish is experiencing at the moment.  It wouldn't be fair to post the sermon with so many things in it that are pertinent only to our congregation, sort of a breach of trust.

Just an overview then: the Old Testament reading was the last chapter of Deuteronomy, (chapter 34) where Moses finally dies and Joshua takes up the leadership of the Israelites to actually bring them into the land of Promise.

The reminder for our congregation from this passage is that God will not withdraw his hand and leave us casting about for solutions to our present problem with no hope of a good outcome.  The call was to gather together more as a Christian community and pray together for help from the Lord, to entrust our leadership team with the mandate we gave them to seek God along with us and lead where he seems to want us to follow.  Yes, even if it means that some things have to change in the near future.

I was delighted that the response today in the Prayers of the People was, "Lord, lead us out of despair and into hope!"  I hadn't had a chance to look at that particular group of prayers prior to the service so was delighted to have that response happening right after the sermon time.

All but one parishioner stayed for coffee and cookies after the service and we had a grand talk together, all at one table instead of our usual scattering of groups of 2 or 3 all at different tables.  We actually talked about our church situation and how we need to be less worried and more trusting in God.  I am so proud of these people as they face difficulties and are feeling more certain than they were even a week ago that a godly solution can be found.

A New Buddy For a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon

Church went amazingly well today.  The flow of the music, prayers and responses fit beautifully together with the words I felt I had been given for the sermon, so it was relaxing to have God firmly in control of things instead of myself.

As I was eating my lunch at home afterward I noticed a large white doggy tail wagging out in the middle of the side yard, so I put down my sandwich and went to investigate.  

Our side yard has a gap in the fence and sometimes an animal will follow its nose or another animal through that gap and then not be able to find its way back out of the yard.  That seemed to be the case today with an hilarious dog.

He was delighted when I came outside onto the deck.  His bushy tail was wagging and his body quivering with excitement when I spoke to him.  What a cutie patootie!  I know nearly zero about breeds of dog unfortunately. This fellow was pure white, medium sized and short haired other than the bushy tail. He looked like a cross that included a "Bill Sykes dog" from the movie "Oliver". He had one bright blue eye, one black eye, one droopy ear and a dew rag tied around his neck.  He was adorable.  When I came out and started to pet him he started dancing about, then led me to the gate in our 7 foot high fence, obviously wanting me to let him out again, (which I did, but not until I took some time to pat him some more and just enjoy his friendly nature).

It is always a bit of a let down to come home from church and be all alone for the rest of the day, so the presence of that funny, friendly, tail wagging dog was a big treat on a slow moving afternoon.

Spending a bit of time with him this afternoon will give me something new to talk about at dinner tonight.  One of our dear couples from the church, both in their 90's are picking me up and taking me out to a restaurant this evening. They are such fun.  It will make the time not only go quickly but with joy while I wait for my husband to return home after his busy weekend of seminars.  He called this morning to say it is going extremely well and he is very very happy.  It is not always easy for ministers to keep pumping out sermons and other talks week after week without some new and interesting input from others like he is getting this weekend.  I can't believe how quickly this 3 days has gone by...until this afternoon. Seems that when I am eagerly awaiting my husband's return home, the closer it gets to his arrival the more the time seems to drag.

Got a lovely email from a friend in Roman Catholic seminary. He is going to be here in the area in a couple of weeks and wants to see us for the first time since his seminary journey began.  How exciting...and getting together with him ensures that a good meal with decent wine is a given!  YIPPEE!!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Whew!! Sermon Completed!

Being less than comfortable doing a sermon at the best of times, this go round has been particularly frustrating.  However, it all changed earlier this afternoon when a friend from far away called and we started discussing the particular lectionary readings I am supposed to be basing the sermon on.

One idea she mentioned stood out like a neon sign. It was the one thought I needed to bring all the ideas together for a coherent sermon that will apply very specifically to our church's present stresses.

As a result the sermon is all written up now, printed off and ready for a review this evening when I practise delivering it to my office mirror.  If nothing else, the fact that it is rather short will give me grace to be heard and perhaps some of the thoughts will even be remembered in the coming week.  There are only 2 points, they are clear, short and don't need a lot of belabouring to be understood. I was trying to unnecessarily complicate things, but the Spirit knows that simplicity is far more appropriate this week.

Thank you Lord for the guidance of your Spirit through the words of my friend.  It is yet another lesson for me in how God's people need each other and were created for community rather than solitude.