Saturday, May 23, 2015

It Was a Good Trip

This past week I was very conscious of the Lord's hand being on all that occurred.  It was a week of wonderful visits, good roads, safe drives, excellent spring weather and accomplishing many errands for my parents.

I have learned the secret for me for doing long distance drives:  pack everything possible the night before, wake up early and get on the road immediately after breakfast!  The day I left I was backing out of our parking lot at 6:30am and yesterday coming home I was on Glenmore Trail in Calgary shortly after 6am.  Getting on the road a few hours ahead of the hottest hours of the day and just prior to rush hours makes me feel like I am really getting away with something and pumps the adrenalin necessary for the trip.  Stopping every 2 or 3 hours, even just for 5 minutes and getting out of the car is very helpful.  So, I have discovered that I can drive for 8 or 9 consecutive hours when I need to.  It was actually easier to stay awake being alone in the car because I could sing and talk and "preach" the entire time and disturb no one.  I quite enjoyed it all.

Mom and Dad are doing far better than I dared to hope.  Mom of course wore herself out with excitement that I was coming and came down with a cold the morning I left.  Hopefully it won't make the descent into her lungs this time.  I am finding that she becomes ill right around my visits this past few years. She can't sleep for many nights in advance and she worries about how things are going to go for Dad with the added stress of a visitor.  Fortunately she felt fine for our visit.  Dad was able to use his walker to come along on all the errands and we drove literally all over the city shopping, going to doctors' appointments and having a couple of meals in restaurants.  The time flew by.  Usually, once the first evening's visiting is over, dad retreats to his room with the tv and newspaper for a lot of the rest of the visiting time, but this time he was quite happy to sit in the living room and chat.  It indicates he is feeling pretty well these days and was not stressed by  my presence.  In the first 3 days I was there I wore them completely out, I am sure, but no point in having a long list of hoped for errands and not accomplishing as many as possible.  In the first 3 days every errand was completed and my parents were delivered to all their medical appointments.  It was a most successful time on every front.

There were some good visits with friends as well:  an old family friend came over one evening for tea and some of mom's fantastic ginger scones.  I have known him all my life and he is very funny and very intelligent, well travelled and just a lot of fun to visit with.  I had part of a day in our old "stomping grounds" of Olds/Didsbury to visit 2 friends I rarely get to see any more.  Great visits with sides of home made French onion soup, Greek salads, hemp heart cake and amazing photos from one of my friend's recent trip to Japan.  Her husband built a very authentic looking Torii gate in their back yard and she has Japanese carp flags hanging from it in good Boys Day fashion.  It is very very nice.  She sent me home with a large box of books to read and a lovely green summer jean jacket and very cool scarf to go with it. There are a lot of other colours in the scarf that match other clothes that I have all ready.  What an unexpected blessing on top of all the other blessings of the week.  The other friend and I nearly talked each others' ears off. It has been far too long since we have had a chance to really visit each other. Then I came home yesterday to an immediate dinner invitation that unfortunately I was too late (and beat) to go to, but how lovely to come home to a friend's invite.

Today I have a few aches and pains from sitting down for so long in the car, so it will be a day of taking a couple of long walks to "get the kinks out" I think.  There are a few grocery items to purchase and some utility bills to pay at the bank.  I am so happy our branch is open on Saturdays.  I have a few programmes on tv that I recorded while I was away, so will take a look at those this evening.  Tomorrow morning is church and I will see who remembers who I actually am when I am there without my husband. teehee  There is a parishioner I need to see this week so that will be a lunch out.

We called my son when I was in Calgary and he is a happy camper these days.  This weekend he is being flown to Toronto for jury for the RBC painting competition and is delighted to be able to work on that with an artist he greatly admires and respects.  Then he will return to New York City for a few more weeks to wrap up his apprenticeship and pack up for home.  He is coming here in mid June for a few days before flying on to Calgary to see his grandparents, before heading home to Vancouver.  It has been a wonderful past year for him.  Now he feels ready to make more plans for the future.

My husband is also thrilled beyond belief by his experiences in Tanzania and now southern England.  His short texts say an awful lot about how happy he is for this amazing opportunity to interact with fellow priests of other nations and to see places he has never seen before.  He comes home in less than a week now and I can't wait to hear about his adventures first hand.

Well, breakfast calls.  Then it will be time to eat breakfast and get on the road to the bank.  "Walkies" this afternoon and then an evening to rest...I hope.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone!


Saturday, May 16, 2015

So Beautiful Outside This Evening and Yet.....

It is nearly 10pm.  I have just been outside and it is lovely and warm out there after some strong winds and rain just before dinner.  It is the kind of night, after a grey day, that makes it difficult to make yourself come inside again to go to bed.

And yet....the forecast for tomorrow afternoon here is SNOW!  Probably not a lot of snow, but heavy wet spring snow is scheduled to fall.  Drat!  The northern and central part of the province is under a frost warning for overnight, so I can imagine a lot of all ready planted spring flowers will be sporting quite an array of sheets, terry towels and heavy plastic covers tonight so they aren't frost-killed by morning.

I will have to check the road report in the morning as I am going to be driving into the snow at some point on my journey as it travels from the south west.  It appears at present that if I can get through the first 3 hours of the trip there will be no more snow to contend with.  The weather system appears to be arcing northward from the south west corner, up and around to just touch the highway I will be on as I head west,  dipping down again just east of here to pummel the south eastern part of the province with freezing rain and snow.  If the northern tip of the arc doesn't go below freezing overnight I will still be able to leave fairly early in the morning without worrying about skating onto the ice.  My new tires are "all weathers" and the studded tires from winter are in the basement.  If I do come across any ice I am going to have to remember that and slow right down!!

Aaaah, Victoria Day long weekend on the prairies...people out here have given up trying to travel and camp on this first long weekend of the spring after being snowed out of their campgrounds one too many times.  At this point you can almost count on bad weather Victoria Day weekend...the specifics of the weather forecast may change daily, but generally speaking you can pretty much know it isn't going to be very nice!

Definitely Lacking in Energy

Recently I had lunch with a large group of women here in the city.  I have been so busy rejoicing in my "abundance" of energy over the past year and a half that I still forget how slow and lacking in energy I actually am compared to other women in my age group.  Someone asked me what plans I have for the autumn, once we are more organized here and holidays are over for the summer.  I mentioned a couple of low energy volunteer ideas I have and everyone kind of looked at me with rather shocked expressions on their I had the plague or something.  Then someone timidly asked me what else I would be doing.  Sigh...When I responded that there wasn't anything else actually, she gave an embarrassed little chuckle and the conversation moved on to other topics. For the rest of the afternoon I wasn't really included in the conversations. Perhaps it was just as well because I had nothing else to say that could keep pace with these incredibly busy women, who are no busier than most other women, it is just that I hadn't realized how far behind I have fallen at this point.  No one was bragging about how busy they are, no one was particularly proud of all they do, there were no pissing contests going on to see who could top who in the Department of Busy.  They are simply normal middle aged women who are able to maintain a level of activity that I haven't been able to achieve. I couldn't have kept up their levels of activity even as a child.

I suppose all the chronic and life long health issues I have do play into my energy level rather intensely.  When I list all those conditions I feel very strange about having so many things wrong.  As a rule I am by myself quite a bit and never think about how busy or not busy I am each day.  It is most disconcerting though to be with a group of average women and realize they can run rings around me in every way.  It all began with childhood asthma that kept me out of the social loop relatively often and so for me, life is actually better as an adult even with the added health issues as the asthma has nearly disappeared.

My fear is that people who don't have energy level problems don't understand how they can effect a person's life.  I hate it when people ask me why I do so little every day, why I am not out of the house running hither and yon doing all manner of important work, because I can't explain without giving my "organ recital" of all that is wrong with my health.  It sounds like I am either making it up, or using health as more of an excuse than a reason for inactivity, or feeling sorry for myself, or really into talking about myself as the centre of the universe, or just plain lazy.  Sigh....

So while they are working daily at full time jobs, volunteering their evenings and weekends to all manner of wonderful clubs and committees and service organizations, baby sitting the grandchildren, etc. etc. etc., I am sitting here amazed that this morning I am strong enough for the first time in my life to take the winter studded tires out of the trunk of the car and haul them up the back steps into the suite and then down more steps into the basement...2 tires at a time.  These are the "huge accomplishments" that fill my days.

I am going to have to be very careful not to let myself become discouraged nor depressed by my lack of interesting contributions to group conversation.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

More from Dell

Woke up before dawn this morning (5:20) AM 8:30 PM your time ..not sure if you will get this before you leave for Calgary tomorrow .....  anyway I had been hoping to see the stars since I have never seen them in this southern half of the globe.   I walked down to what I call the picnic pier and although there were a few clouds I was able to see at least some stars .  Not sure if the faint outline in the south was the famous southern cross or not.   I apologized for disturbing  the young security guard who must have been dozing at one of the picnic tables.  The morning was warm but I wore my long sleeved shirt and mosquito scarf even though I am yet to even see a mosquito. I could hear the water (hey this is the indian ocean!) sloshing under the pier the lights and music that had been full on at a hotel a bit around the bay last night at 11:30 were off. The breeze was quite a bit warmer and much more humid than it was the last time I did a bit of stargazing over the much chiller waters of Spray Lake last fall when Doug G and I were overnight mountain scrambling in   Kananaskis.  Indeed I was just starting to perspire  as I went back up the stairs to my air conditioned room.   Did I mention that it was humid? I think they may have switched off the temperature option on the room air conditioner because even if I set it at the highest option of 30 it seems to make this place so cold that I haven't been running it much.  I couldn't figure out why moisture began to condense and started to run down the walls and form droplets on the mirror.  It helped a bit yesterday when I opened drapes and window to let the sun shine in.   Then I asked the chambermaid about it and she said running the AC for a couple of hours straight should help.  when I said it made the room too cold she said then I could turn it off.   ...very logical girl! Did I tell you they come in every night to pull the drapes, turn down the bed and put the little slippers next to the turned down bed?  I feel a bit like an old fashioned colonial.  I won't try sending pictures now but have taken a few of the hotel it is really quite nice. I really wonder how it feels for the bishops and archdeacons who live by subsistence farming? Well it is nearly ten your time; I will send this now in case you want to take a copy to your folks.   I will probably be a bit tired today from the shorter sleep but it was worth it.  Our time in Dar is half over just as I am getting very comfortable here. 

Direct from Dell

Bishop Rob has asked me to contribute a few notes to the blog about our

experience here at the conference. So here are a few assorted observations.

On an early morning of my first day I walked  down to the thatched roof

pier picnic platform.  I seemed a bit erie that the boardwalk was watched over by

a uniformed security guard, just as it had seemed so unlike Saskatchewan when

the evening before there had been 3 guards at the front gate and the

undercarriage of our taxi cab had been inspected with a mirror to check for

explosive devices  before we had been allowed into the hotel compound.  Out on

the picnic  pier  I struck up a conversation with an East Indian man who works at

the hotel.  When he found I was here for a church conference he was was quick

to identify himself as a Christian. When he found out I had arrived from Canada

via Dubai he said it was while he had been working in Dubai (of all places) that

he had become a more deliberate follower of Jesus.  When he volunteered that

he had two sisters working and living in Calgary I told him my wife’s family was

from Calgary, and so went the connections.  The strangeness of this place to me 

was suddenly made less so because the Lord seemed to have provided

someone with some simple common connections. Small world!

There are representatives here from 5 African Dioceses (would have been

7 is the Burundi folks had been able to make it).  Each one has their own

enriching stories and needful situations.   Rob mentioned in his post: Bishop

Francis from the Diocese of Rokon in South Sudan.   He was able to find safe

accommodation for his family in the midst of the civil war and finish his

theological education because of the support of Canadians who were contributed

a  scholarship toward his ministry  and education.  I suppose a civil war might

have motivated many of us to leave off training for ministry. But men like Francis

seemed to know that in when the infrastructures for communication, 

transportation and education are all broken down by war and ongoing conflicts, 

the people would need the encouragement of spiritual community and

development leaders more than ever.  And although the independence of South

Sudan is was declared and recognized in 2011,  fighting continues fuelled in part

by the efforts of factions to control oil producing areas.  

There is little money to pay even bishops and archdeacons who have to

support  their families by farming or other such means.  One of the main

concerns of the archdeacons I spoke with were to get schools operating again as

soon as possible because otherwise a whole generation is going without the

most basic education.  Nevertheless their faith in Jesus is steady and they seem

keenly aware of God’s grace and providence in the midst of it all. I was told that

the preaching and evangelism is not left to the clergy but that the mother’s union

(like an ACW with a focus on community transformation) as well as the youth

groups are all active in sharing their faith. 

It was gratifying to see some of my Canadian colleagues getting the

picture of how even a little help and encouragement from Canadian companions

can do and mean so much.   But we are apt to remain na├»ve unless we admit in

turn how much we need their companionship to model the commitment and

passion that we need to address our own spiritual poverty.  As with most  cross

cultural endeavours, growing to understand one another will take continuing

concentrated effort and willingness to risk making mistakes.   Nevertheless I

expect  that we will learn to walk together much the way all children do …by

falling down.   But I think our heavenly Father is pleased to watch over his

children as we do learn to walk together.

News From Our Guys Overseas

 Hi again: here is a link to the blog our Bishop has posted about their conference.  You will need to cut and paste it into your browser  It also updates the situation in Burundi:

'Bye 'Bye Board

A couple of days ago I decided it was time to get a new cover for my ancient ironing board; the one I purchased in the spring of 1972 when I first moved away from my parents' home.  I am pretty easy on my "stuff" so am not surprised to have had an ironing board for over forty years.

However, all good things must come to an end.  I noticed when I set it up that day that it felt a bit more wobbly than usual and the top of the board was leaning ever so slightly to one side.  It was fine while I did my ironing but when I went to remove the old cover and collapse it, the poor old thing fell completely apart.

With a mighty, loud SPROOOOING, pieces of metal and hard rubber attachments started flying everywhere.  All the struts and cross bars under the board pulled apart, little springs bounced around the room and one of the hard rubber cones that held the metal in place smacked me hard in the ear as it tumbled past.  I was so startled I proceeded to drop the heaviest end of the board itself onto my bare toes. YEEEOOOOWWW!!!  I reared back because it hurt so much and tromped on one of the cross bars with my other bare foot and now I know why diabetics (and everyone else I think!!) should always wear shoes indoors to protect our feet.  Yikes!!

I leaned the board against the wall and surrveyed my bedroom floor and the top of my bed.  The rest of what had been my faithful old ironing board was scattered hither and yon.  Finally I got it all collected and under cover of darkness lugged the whole mess out to the large collection bin in the parking lot.  In the morning I could see the board sticking out of the top of the bin, wedged between the frame of someone's equally elderly, disintegrating sofa and a smashed screen tv.  Poor old ironing board...what an ignominious end to so many years of good service.

Even less impressive is that yesterday I had to spend money to purchase a new usual, about the time extra spending has to stop, my husband has to spend money to go overseas and I have to go on a road trip to help out my parents, the car needed extra repairs and now also an ironing board to be purchased.  It is what always happens to people, right? haha

I did find a very nice, relatively inexpensive board at the hardware store.  It is light and easy to carry, easy to set up, easy to take down.  If this one falls apart like the old one did it should be far less physically painful for myself!!  No, it won't last for over forty years like the old one did, but I am hoping to nurse it along for my remaining "ironing years".  The new cover, with its pattern of deep forest and mint greens is very pretty.  AND it has a separate rest for the iron on one end.  I like that.  My husband won't like it because it is plastic and my not last as long as the board, but o well, you can't have everything.  The boards as heavy duty as my old one were more than twice the price and are so, so, so heavy to carry and set up.  This one is not quite as long and fits in my closet far better.

No doubt these kinds of little details about my life here at home are scintillating to read, hohoho!  But, there you life to the minute. teehee

In other news: lunch with the office staff and Bishop's wife was a ton of fun yesterday.  The office manager made the most delicious baked chicken topped with feta and paremsan cheeses and she made a salad.  The financial officer made roasted rounds of sweet potato and delicious sticky rice, as well as a strawberry cheesecake.  O my, what a delicious feast and a great visit.  I have an extra week without my husband as the Bishop is coming home earlier then he is, so I am invited to do some more fun things with them during that time. YAY!!  They are a great pair of workers and a great pair of considerate women.

This morning I am going to iron again....last night at 8pm I took it into my head that there was a pair of pants I want to wear to drive to Calgary and washing those turned into a full laundry evening.  Everything in the basket has now been washed and will be ironed this afternoon. 

For the rest of the morning I am resting in preparation for yet another lunch out, this time with my husband's cousin. She is SO  MUCH fun.  I am really looking forward to it.

Tonight I am going to force myself to rest some more, maybe watch some boxing I recorded a few days ago.  Apparently there is some footage of the Mayweather/Pacquiao snooze-fest. I would like to see it, boring or not. (Side note: apparently they  made so much money they are negotiating for a second fight once Pacquiao recovers from his shoulder surgery)  I have other bouts set to record while I am away...some excellent Russian fighters.

No more word yet from my husband, but the Bishop's wife had a couple of photos sent of their view from the hotel...what absolutely gorgeous scenery...big dark green trees, wide expanses of water....o it is lovely.  I hope my own husband can keep the camera working and his interest up for taking photos so I can get some idea of the area.  Apparently our diocesan website should soon have a posting about their trip.  Due to the apparent coup in Burundi, their own dicoesan bishop was unable to leave the country to attend the conference after all because of the closure of the airport and borders in an attempt to prevent the return of their president.  So, not only were our guys unable to visit the site of the hospital our diocese is building there, they didn't even get to meet our companionship bishop.  In that sense a most disappointing trip, but still so much to learn from the other African bishops.  The president of Burundi is also in Dar es Salaam as far as anyone knows, so our guys are hoping and praying things will stay calm there over the weekend as they prepare to fly on to England.

Well, on to some serious resting. I am actually going to attempt to read some more of my book, an autobiography of Arnold Schwarzenegger that is more interesting than I thought it would be.  I admit I bought it because it was on the cheapest clearance rack at a bargain store.  It has been a pleasant surprise. I never read during the day, only at bedtime do I feel free to relax to the extent needed to concentrate on books.  So, it will be a good experience to try to actually stay awake between chapters for a change! haha