Monday, September 29, 2014

Today's Quote

"All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art."
--Jorge Luis Borges


One Dead Rabbit

A friend arrived for tea this morning and announced she had seen a dead hare beside the road at the outskirts of town on her way here.

Sad news for the hare of course.

Also sad news for us.

The hare had all ready changed to his winter colour.  His fur was completely white all ready despite such warm temperatures last week.  

It means the cold and snow are coming soon, earlier than hoped for.  That hare should not have been completely white just yet.

From the good news column: we had company for tea this morning AND our car tire is now fixed, ready for pick up. Yay! Thank you Wayne for the loan of the air compressor so we could blow up the tire sufficiently to get the car to the garage.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Very Fun Past Week, etc.

We had a grand week away, my husband and I.  It more than made up for me having to stay home for over a week's worth of our summer holiday while he went camping and canoeing with his buddies.

The weather was phenomenal!!  Most afternoons the temperature climbed to +33C.  It was the best farewell to summer weather ever!  

During our time away my husband attended some excellent Diocesan meetings and we went together to the 100th anniversary of one of the churches in our archdeaconry.  The people at the church thought that perhaps 40 people would show up now that the church is very small in congregation size and struggling to stay afloat.  However, there were over 100 of us crammed into that wee church building and it was an excellent service.  The Bishop was there, a newly retired Archbishop who had once served that parish, a couple of their former priests, the present incumbent and my husband, their Archdeacon.  The narrow aisle up to the altar was jammed packed with portly, middle aged men in flowing albs, stoles, mitres and other typical Anglican accoutrements. The local community choir, robed in glittering white robes, adorned the space behind the altar and sang a beautiful anthem for us.  It was quite an amazing spectacle in that place.  The service liturgy was very thoughtfully planned and presented and the sermon, given by one of the former priests of the parish, in turns hilarious and moving. I am so glad I went along on the 6 hour round trip that afternoon.

The next day my husband headed to a city in the opposite direction, where he met for the first time with an English cousin and his wife.  What a treat for him, although he ended up eating lunch with them at a Boston Pizza instead of his hoped for Indian cuisine restaurant. hahaha  He admitted though, rather sheepishly, that BP's menu has improved since his last visit there....about 8 years ago I am guessing....and it really was quite a fine meal. hahaha  He is going  to have to remove BP from his complaint list about fast food chains.

His time at the clergy conference was most edifying, informative and also a lot of fun during an impromptu game of cricket with the bishop and archbishop.  Well, my husband didn't play cricket this time, but he and some other clergy put on an apparently hysterical display of cheerleading! haha  Rah! Rah!  They stopped short of making brassieres for themselves out of paper cups, but only just....  They were also informed that there would be no budget for pompoms next year~what a bunch of crazy people.  It was so good for my husband to just be able to relax and be silly for a change.  He so rarely gets to be.

While he was doing his thing I was doing mine.  I visited so many friends and had such a great time catching up on all their news.  It has been nearly a year since I was last there.  Where does the time go??

I ate too many restaurant meals, despite making most of my own lunches and a few breakfasts in the hotel room.  I gained 4 pounds in 10 days due to the fat content of most of the restaurant meals.....NOT GOOD!  So thankful to be home and making my own food again. Fortunately that is the end of any trips more than a day or 2 in length for the rest of this year.  My diet is grateful for that!

However, on the exercise front, I excelled due to the wonderful warm weather.  I walked a minimum of 5 kilometers every day, up hill and down and all around the town.  It was fantastic and I felt so good every single day.  The weather was like a special blessing just for me....oh, and the hundreds of farmers in the area who lost so much harvest time due to previous rains.  Thank you Lord for that blessing for so many people last week.

The visits with friends this time were all genuinely deep and meaningful.  We discussed all manner of local issues, personal problems and joys, spiritual was really wonderful for me to see my friends face to face since so many of my present relationships depend on email and long distance phone calls to maintain them.

I found a few incredible sales on clothes and household items so, although I didn't do a lot of buying as I have everything I need all ready, I did take advantage of a few things that were particularly spectacular deals. eg: a beautiful beige 100% wool suit jacket on clearance for $5.99!!  I decided I would never find a deal that good anywhere else...perhaps a thrift store, but then the suit jacket would have been second hand and this was brand new.

My hotel room was rather hilarious.  It is an older place that needs a new coat of paint in most of the rooms and some new carpet, but it is so well built that the soundproofing between rooms is nearly 100%.  Only once did I hear a loud voice from next door when a neighbouring fellow was shouting into his cell phone from the shower stall in his bathroom.  The rest of the time I heard only the voices in the hallway outside my room on occasion and that was all.  I was housed in the back portion of the hotel, second floor, no elevator and it was like finding my way through a rabbit warren to locate my room as the place is so large.  The breakfast that was included in my room fee was really, really good and I wish I could have taken advantage of it every day in good diabetic conscience.  The restaurant in general didn't have really marvellous food but the breakfast fare was delightfully far above the usual refined plastic food available at most "continental breakfasts" in lower priced hotels.

The toilet in the bathroom was a show all its own. haha  At some point someone in maintenance had installed the inner workings of the tank without realizing the shaft would be too tall for the short tank. Once the lid was put on the tank, a lid that was never designed for that particular tank in the first place, it pressed down on the shaft and kept the water running constantly.  My housekeeper, bless her heart, didn't speak more than 3 words of English and had no idea what I was trying to tell her about the problems with the tank.  I decided to just leave it until checking out on the last morning and reported it to the front desk at that time. During my stay I simply removed the tank lid and folded an old facecloth over and around the shaft so that the dripping water would follow the facecloth down into the tank water without making a constant irritating dripping noise.  I don't think that tank stopped running for more than a few minutes the entire 8 nights I was booked into that place.  I didn't report it immediately upon discovery because I have had maintenance folk come to make repairs at other hotels in times past and usually found a big mess left for me to clean up after the job was done.  Like so many other hotels, the cleaning staff have been given vaccums with no hose attachment so I had to request a special cleaning along the baseboards in my room.  I was okay with that dirt until I realized someone's half eaten candy was sitting under the desk and then I was rather unhappy until everything was cleaned up.  How are cleaning staff supposed to clean rooms properly when they are not issued the proper equipment??  I am not usually a "nightmare" guest in a hotel, but I expect, in this day of the return of bedbugs to Canada, to be given a completely clean room.

The other hilarious thing was the air conditioning unit in my room. At least twice a night it got itself so agitated it sounded like it was going to explode in its attempt to keep the temperature as low as the setting I programmed into it. haha 

The front desk staff were amazing, the waitresses in the attached restaurant very attentive and efficient and all the cleaning staff very pleasant.  Despite the foibles of my particular room this time, I would stay there again.

Coming home posed a bit of a challenge.  About the time we were leaving for home we realized a tire was going soft on the car.  Our 4 hour trip home turned into nearly 5 and a half hours as we had to keep stopping at every little town garage to pump more air into it.  So happy we did make it back safely as we discovered there is absolutely nowhere in that 4 hour drive, late on a Saturday, that has a place willing to service a disintegrating, fast flattening tire.  It is yet one more of the "joys of prairie living" that drives me mad!  The best we could have done, had the tire packed it in completely, would have been getting a tow truck to take us to the nearest town where we would be stranded for 2 days waiting for the tire shop to open Monday morning.  We barely had time to stop to grab a sandwich for supper at a little sub shop because we had to keep that car rolling until we could get home.  

This morning we were unable to attend the early service at our other church because the tire was flat as a pancake and our town as well has no emergency service for anyone on the weekends other than oilfield workers.  So grateful for our deacon who agreed to take that service despite his own trip yesterday to the city for diocesan meetings for which he had to arise at 4am to make it on time.  This huge part of our diocese is certainly short of emergency mechanical assistance on weekends.  

Despite the stress of the tire it was a lovely drive home.  Today it is much cooler than we both got used to last week and most of the leaves have suddenly dropped from our trees after still being mostly green and attached a week ago.  Here it feels very much like autumn and we will definitely not see any more temperatures in the +30C range until next summer.

It was great to get away.  I had the rest of my summer holiday and my husband, despite it being a working week where he lost his usual days off due to meetings, had a great time of learning and fellowship with fellow clergy.  

Memories of this grand week may have to sustain us through another bleak prairie winter and I am grateful to God that we have them.

Glad To Be Home....Sorta.....

It is great to be feeling so well these days.  The joy of being home again is that after church this morning I was able to begin the laundry immediately and feel real pleasure in accomplishing something concrete after a week of just having fun.  I am looking forward to doing dishes once my husband completes his curry making project and I have a schedule floating through my head for housework in the coming week.  

I remember all the times prior to this past few months when we would return from a trip away and my thoughts were more like, "Crap!  Now I have to cook and clean again.  Crap, crap, crap!"  

It feels good to get working on the home front once again.  
It feels good to feel good!

I hope I feel this good in a couple of days when I have some previously unscheduled, quasi-emergency dental work done.
Crap, crap, crap.....

From The Blog of a Wise and Dear Friend

I just read the following blogpost this morning and it reflects my own feelings about including lament as part of our Christian worship tradition.  The post was written by  Dr. Eric Ortland, a professor at the Briercrest Seminary...a super scholar and downright wonderful person.  Read on and enjoy:

Imagine if you went to church one day and the worship band was up on stage, and you saw on screen above the worship band all the normal information: Copyright Vineyard Music, 1998; in the key of B flat, written by Brian Doerkson. (I know it's not normally shown what key the song is in, but just hang with me here). And let's say the worship band starts up, but you notice something strange, because the song says a lot of things to God that sound rude: Lord, how could you let that happen? Why did you abandon me? I'm one of your own. Why didn't you protect me? If you had been there, this never would have happened (John 11.21)! And this hurts your cause too, Lord. People are scoffing at you in your absence. Come and visibly intervene for me! But no matter what, I will trust you forever. No matter what, you are my God forever.

Because that's the situation we get in the book of psalms: a miktam, of David, to the tune of "Doe of the Dawn" - those titles head the hymns we are comfortable with and also laments which appear rude to us. But both equally count as worship in the Bible, even though asking the lament-type questions sounds like the opposite of worship for us.

Could I suggest, knowing that this to be a generalization, that we in North American need to "biblicize" and complicate our worship by making lament as regular a feature of it as it is in the Bible's worship book? I want to emphasize that to be a real biblical lament, it has to include a confession of trust and unconditional loyalty from the lamenter; without that, it's just complaining. But I also want to emphasize that, unless we lament, we're being unbiblical and unhelpful.

Lament witnesses to and (as it were) proclaims the Lord Jesus in his fullness. You have probably noticed how some Christians know only the meek and mild Jesus and never seem to talk about the returning King, come to tread the winepress of his wrath - and other Christians only seem to know the wrathful judge, even though the biblical Jesus is both. I think it is the same with hymns and laments. Laments are liberally plastered over not just Jesus' trial, sufferings, and death, but much earlier in his life, too. We won't fully know the one "intimate with grief" (Isa 53) without these texts. They witness forward to the suffering of the Messiah as God won the greatest victory possible for his cause in the form of the greatest defeat imaginable. And we as Christians participate in this suffering and death (Matt 16.24, Rom 6.1-4, 2 Cor 4.10; and note the original context of Paul's quotation of Ps 44 at the end of Romans 8). We won't fully understand and "see" our Savior who died in shame and defeat and was raised in victory without laments. It will be easy to worship a shallow version of Jesus without these psalms.

Second, I think our contemporary worship scene, having, as it does, only hymns, unintentionally excludes people. There are people in every church service whom God is baptizing into the way of the cross, the way of following Jesus. But it can be hard when you come to church bleeding and beaten, and you want to worship, and you know you should be worshipping, and everyone around you seems so happy. Biblically, asking the questions of a lament, together with a confession of trust, is an act of worshipping and honoring God, not dishonoring him. It is a ministry to Christians who are hurting, who are struggling with the distance and inactivity of the God they are trying to trust, to shape and interpret their experience through the genre of lament. You will help those Christians draw nearer to God than they ever have before.

Third, it will help with our music. So much modern worship music sounds U2, and I like U2, and there is something worshipful and devout about their sound. But our songs all sound like the same song, over and over. Aesthetics maybe aren't the Bible's top priority, but they are not trivial.

I'm sure there are Christian musicians reading this, so: listen up. I want you to write more worshipful, trustful, God-honoring laments. Hold forth Jesus Christ, who reigns in victory on high but still bears the scars in his body, to us Christ-followers who are learning what it means to take up our crosses.
Posted by Dr. Eric Ortland, September 22, on his blog: 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Heading Home Tomorrow

I have enjoyed having a few days with no email nor blogging to be concerned about, but now I am looking forward to getting back to routine at home with computer access any old time of day I want to have it.  

So will share some of the fun moments once I am back.  There were some interesting experiences in the hotel. haha  There were grand visits with good friends.  There were too many rich, fatty, salty, DELICIOUS meals....eek!!  (I at last discovered Boston Pizza's soft grilled chicken tacos....yum.....)

For now I will leave you with one of the quotes I have been enjoying during my reading times over this past week:

"No two persons ever read the same book."  Edmund Wilson

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Happy Travels!!

So let's get the only downer thus far on this trip out of the way to start with and then move on to the happy stuff!

Tonight I was eating a wonderful spicy chicken southwestern salad for dinner and lost a tiny bit of filling from a bottom molar....not a surprise as it is one of the last old fillings left in my mouth from sometime in the middle 1970's, but not the sort of thing I wanted to have happen while I am less than half way through my trip.  I will call my dentist from home tomorrow morning and set up an appointment for as soon as I return.  MORE money having to be spent on my teeth just now is not exciting AT ALL!

There, that is the end of the bad news.

I am having a lot of fun thus far.

Day 1: actually got away from home on time, AND we didn't even forget anything we need for this trip...who says there are no miracles??!!!?  Those of you who know us and our scatterbrained attempts at packing will be amazed! (you are amazed, are you not??) 2.5 hours later we were at a town where my husband attended a diocesan meeting while I was blessed to spend that time with a former parishioner who is one of the most amazing women I have ever had the privilege of spending time with.  We shared and laughed and drank chai tea.  My husband picked me up at dinner time and we went for Philippine food for the very first time.  It was delicious.  My husband had some mango chicken with a spicy lime and pepper sauce.  I had kare-kare: beef shank cooked to the point of melting in my mouth and surrounded by bok choy and green beans in peanut sauce.  It was fantastic, way too much sweet sauce for this diabetic, but o well.........there are times when that is just how it is, haha.  I left as much of the sauce as I could, but wow, it was hard to do as it tasted so good.  Off to the next town after dinner, checking into our hotel just  before 9pm after another 2 hour drive.

Day 2: my husband headed into the city, an hour away, for Diocesan Council and I had breakfast with a good friend here at the hotel.  She and I did some looking around some of our favourite local haunts and then we too drove into the city for a fabulous oven baked sole and green bean lunch, perfect for me. A couple of intense hours of window shopping ensued before we drove back here.  She dropped me back at my hotel just as my husband also arrived. Then he and I went to the house of some other dear friends for a lovely curry dinner and a marvellous visit.  It has been a whole year since I last saw them and I have missed them very much.

Day 3:  today we had a most delicious breakfast that is provided to guests at the hotel restaurant.  It certainly beats out the complimentary breakfasts at most lower priced hotels.  There wasn't a pre-prepared, rubber, microwaveable omelet in sight!!  How do you spell "HALLELUJAH"!!?  Less money for the room and far better breakfast, plus, a "Lunch To Go".  We made use of that today.  Last night we took an order form down to the restaurant with our choice of sandwiches, drinks and veggies with dip, to be made and then picked up this morning.  It allowed us to stay for nearly the entire church service of our choice today before racing out during the last hymn and heading out on a 5 hour round trip back in the direction we had come from 2 days previously when this trip began. This time we had to overshoot the town from Friday's meeting, travelling another 30 minutes in order to participate in the 100th anniversary of a church in my husband's archdeanery.  It was packed out in that little church and very warm, but we all survived quite happily despite the heat.  There were a plethora of bishops and other clergy, a well thought out service that went off without a hitch, lovely old hymns and many funny stories of incidents from days long ago.  We raced out of there in a big hurry because we had to get back to THIS town again in time for my husband to attend a presentation by a former seminary prof who has just published a novel about zombies....yup, zombies....and my husband wanted to hear his philosophy as to why he wrote it and what he is hoping to accomplish with it in terms of outreach and mission.

Day 4 yet to come:  my husband is leaving early in the morning to return to the city.  He will meet a cousin there he has never met before. The man is from England and is visiting Canada for the first time.  They found each other during a mutual internet search on family trees and ancestry and are very excited to meet in person.  Then my husband heads a small distance out of the city to spend 4 days at a monastery with his colleagues at an annual conference. After he leaves I will meet up with a friend for breakfast and we will spend the morning catching up on each other's news.  I am hoping to spend part of the day getting some banking done, reading an excellent novel and vegging a bit in the evening in front of the massive flat screen tv in my hotel room.

My husband just phoned to say the zombie novel presentation is over and he is on his way back here to the hotel.  He is so sweet.  He is picking up a burger to go with the very late dinner I put together for him here in the hotel room and when he gets the occasional burger he always asks me if there is anything I can eat from the fast food venue, just in case there is actually something he could gift me with. As usual, there isn't, but he is always so concerned that if I am left to fend for my own dinner when we are out of town, I may not have found anything suitable.  He takes good care of me.

So, off to prepare the rest of the dinner I am making for him here.  Hopefully the forecast of another unusually warm autumn day holds for tomorrow.  I have a very long walk in mind for the afternoon.