Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Wonders of Physiotherapy

It was a banner day for me at physio today and I am so grateful for having a wonderful therapist. Serge is energetic and encouraging and very kind.  My husband loves him because the man is taking his Bachelor of Philosophy so I got to listen to them "talking shop" while I was getting my deep therapy massage.  They are both starving for someone local to talk to about what truly interests them so it was fun to see how excited they were to discover mutual interests.

All the hard work I did on my exercises at home paid off today.  I am stronger and more confident on my crutches, walking better, standing taller and putting more weight onto my foot.  Today we practised putting a huge amount of standing weight on my foot, still in my bootcast of course, but what a shock to have that leg under me again even for a brief time.  So, all ready a graduation to the next phase of exercising and the introduction of weights on my foot.  Starting at 2.5 pounds for the next possibly 3 weeks then upping the weight more and more for a couple of months until the ankle is strong enough to handle full weight and nearly weaned off the cast.  

The hardware in my ankle prevents the bones from separating their usual .5 cm when bending and walking so I may never have full restoration of range of movement, but I all ready knew that and will work hard to restore it as much as possible.  In a couple of months I could be walking again, sans boot cast. 

Hope is a wonderful thing........hope restored is even more so.  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Good News in the Mail

I am delighted today because of what came in the mail:  my letter of permission to see my bone specialist in AB arrived.  I will be covered under my present health care plan.  I have never had a response so quickly and so far in advance of my appointment date.  Whew!!

Part of the reason it arrived so quickly is that my surgeon sent the letter of request into the gov't medical officer about a week after I asked him to!  This rarely happens any more and I know it isn't because my surgeon is less crazy busy with patients than the other doctors in this province.  His office administrator is also very efficient and helpful.  Between them they have made this whole broken ankle experience and all the long drives to appointments in the city as good as possible. I am impressed.

I remember the "good old days" before the shortages of doctors, nurses, money, hospital beds and available OR's. It was in the days before people felt they had a right to go to the doctor for every case of the sniffles and before people and their friends who had nothing better to do all day made unnecessary appointments at medical clinics so they could sit around in the waiting rooms visiting each other between appointments........yes that does happen and it happens a lot.  It was before the days of feeling a sense of personal privilege and entitlement that plagues us nowadays and leads us to believe that busy professional doctors are supposed to drop everything to attend immediately to our every cold and hangnail that we used to try to treat at home first. 

My childhood physician was a Dr. Wilcox.  He would roll over in his grave if he became aware of the crazy schedules now required of the medical profession. Doctor Wilcox was never in a hurry.  He spent so long with each patient that we sometimes began consultation with him at 7pm for what had been a scheduled 3pm appointment.  Dr. Wilcox believed that getting to know his patients as whole people was vital to his treatment of their physical ailments.  He could afford to do that because he didn't have to see 30 patients or more in a day.  We didn't mind the excruciatingly long waits because we knew he would spend as much time with us as he had with those who had gone in ahead of us.  He knew our family histories both personal and medical.  He knew how to get me to take oral medications because he would use the samples in his office to show me how easily I could swallow them.  Treatment began right there for my problem because of the samples.  He knew how to converse with me to take away the pain of having plantar's warts dug out of my heel. He had time; something that has become so precious for doctors.  

There is no time any more. Burgeoning populations, shortages of doctors and trained medical professionals, abuses of the system by its users, rising costs, have combined to make the entire medical experience a difficult one for all involved. I feel sorry for patients with problems that truly need immediate attention but who are forced to wait for hours, weeks and even months to get help.  I feel sorry for doctors. When I enter a large hospital ER and find the doctor himself cleaning out the examination room and sterilizing the surroundings between patients I know something has gone very wrong.     

Have You Ever Felt You Just Had To.....

.... do what the two amazing ladies in the last posting did for my son?  One felt very led by God to try to help him and one wanted to do something nice for him "just 'cause....".  Neither of them was asking for any sort of thank you although they got them from all 3 of us of course.

Have you ever just felt like you wanted to do something nice for someone but it seemed too wierd or odd or strange or silly or.......?

May I encourage you to do it anyway?  Whether or not it makes sense to you?  Whether or not it seems too wierd or odd or strange or silly?  Whether or not it seems appropriate to do it openly or in secret?  Whether or not you ever receive a thank you or any sort of acknowledgement?

Maybe that really nice thing you do for that person, that thing that seems too wierd or odd or strange or silly, is exactly what that person needs to continue on in life........to feel encouraged to stay motivated to follow a healthy plan of action.........to realize someone out there, maybe someone they barely know, has noticed their existence and feels they are worthy of good things.  Maybe you are in some way saving a life from discouragement or shame or fear.  Maybe you are even saving a life....

When Jesus healed the lepers only one of them returned to thank him.  I suspect Jesus knew that would happen.  He healed them anyway.  He saved their lives by healing their bodies and so gave them time and opportunity to receive healing of soul and spirit.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

God Provides for My Son too!

I just had a good phone conversation with my son.  It started me thinking about something wonderful that happened to him when he was ready to start his first year of studies at a community college.  It was during our previously referred to Nightmare Years of poverty and chronic health issues.  We had no idea where our son was going to get the tuition money for even a 2 year course.  He secured enough student loan for living expenses but it just wasn't enough to pay the very high tuition and texts and art supplies.  I raged away at God for awhile about our inability as his parents to help him even a little bit.  I prayed for a miracle until I was hoarse. But God got me back for all my whining and I am grateful that God doesn't tend toward being smug when he answers our prayers. As it happened, when the answer arrived in spectacular fashion, I felt silly enough without any assistance from the Almighty!

A new friend of ours that we were just getting to know had a sister in another town that we barely knew at all. This sister had a debilitating illness of her own at the time and wasn't able to work.  She spent most of her time entering contests.......as a nearly fulltime occupation.  For many years she entered contests and the list of prizes she has won would fill pages and pages.  About all she has not won is a house, and a million dollars.  She knows how to enter contests and win.

The college my son was hoping to attend sponsored a contest that year.  The prize was full tuition and text books for 2 years.  We hadn't heard about it but my friend's sister had. For some reason we don't know to this day she felt she had to win this tuition for our son.  The lady travelled to the city where the college was. Entrance forms for the contest were available at all outlets of a popular fast food restaurant.  BUT in order to even enter the contest the contestant had to provide proof that he or she had previously attended a 2 day orientation course at the sponsoring college. This lady went to the college and sat through the 2 day orientation.   For an entire week she drove from restaurant to restaurant all around the city buying cups of coffee in order to qualify to get an entrance form.  In all she entered my son into the contest over 400 times.

We had no idea she was even doing this until the evening before the contest draw. She called our house all excited and told us what she had done and that she just knew Eli was going to win.  We really weren't sure we understood what the contest was or what she had done or anything else about it, hung up the phone and kind of shrugged at each other, hoping she wouldn't be upset that all her sacrifice and effort was for naught.  

I went grocery shopping the next morning, having forgotten all about the contest draw which was being broadcast on a morning television programme.  Apparently at the end of the programme the announcer told the viewers it was time for the draw for free tuition to take place.  A Volkswagon Beetle filled with two thousand entries was wheeled into the tv station and with great fanfare one small contest entry was pulled out of the car.  When the announcer read out the name of the winner, it was indeed our son! 

When I returned home from shopping I noticed there was a phone message waiting.  The message was left by a screaming, crying, hysterical woman, "He won, he won!  I told you he would win!!"  Huh??  Who won what???  I couldn't figure out what she was talking about or even who she was.  But a few minutes later our new friend called to say it was her contest crazed sister who had called us and that Eli had indeed won 2 years of free tuition at his college of choice.

O ye of little faith.......served me right for losing my trust in a Heavenly Father who had cared for us in so many incredible ways for several years. Why would he deny the youngest member of the family the same care and provision?

My son was able to experience 2 wonderful years of school that set him up for the career that he has today, one that he loves.  When the student loan department lost his loan for an entire semester and he had to open a high interest line of credit to be able to eat and keep a roof over his head he was wondering how he could pay it back in a reasonable length of time on a new graduate's wages.  But about that time my husband inherited some money that he was able to share with our son to get his line of credit paid off in one lump sum payment only a few months after graduation.  

An interesting aside: this contest was to be an annual event and a lot of publicity went out across the country about it.  There were photos of my son, their first winner, in all the advertising. But the contest wasn't held the following year.........or ever again...ever......hmmmm
A few years later when son hit a slump in employment a former roommate of mine that I hadn't seen in years contacted me because she had just inherited some money and wanted to send $5000 to my son for no reason other than she remembered him as a baby and how he was the only baby she ever met that seemed to take to her.  Whaaaaa?  Who does something like that???  Well my former roommate did exactly that!

Right now my son has decisions to make about his future and they will involve some aquired debt for more education. He has just come off his worst year for sales in the past 8 years. Things are going south with some of his contacts, and costs where he lives are skyrocketing.  But it isn't time to panic, it is time to remember who is ultimately caring for us all.  It is good to look back and remember the past and be filled with faith for the future.  God is good and his mercy endures forever.  This too will work out.  


This morning as I did my physiotherapy I realized how much I am enjoying it. To see that ankle start moving even a fraction of an inch more than it was able to move a few days ago is such an encouragement.  

I have a wonderful example of determination from the past to follow and keep me going: quite a few years ago now friends of ours had triplets born to them.  One of the little fellows was born with some movement disabilities and it is his success that drives me to continue my physio without discouragement.

This dear little fellow struggled and struggled to tame his legs and get them moving where he needed to go and he never gave up.  When we would go to visit we would ask him how he was and for a number of months his only answer was, "I gotta walk!"  And walk he did!!  It was halting, he became frustrated, but he never gave up!  

He has been my example on days when physio becomes frustrating.  I am so grateful for his example.   

The Scourge of Mental Illness

Last night we attended one of our congregation's annual beef supper fundraisers.  This most giving of congregations mails out free tickets to several people in the town who do not attend our church, but who are in various types of need.  

One of the groups represented is the mentally ill.  There were a number of people there last night suffering the effects of several types of mental illness and one fellow in particular broke my heart.  He is about my age, unkempt, confused, but was obviously delighted to be included in the evening.  He stacked his plate higher and higher with layers of roast beef and potatoes, turnip, peas and carrots, onion salad and buns; in other words prairie cuisine at its finest. He ate slowly and deliberately and went back for seconds.  It was a joy to see someone so delightfully involved in a simple well cooked meal.

He didn't speak to me but I found out his history from people in our church who have known him for years.  This man suffers from schizophrenia, a wicked wicked illness that debilitates its sufferers with mental delusions and adverse physical reactions to strong treatment medications. It often destroys their family relationships.  This man is a former well respected professor, an expert in sanskrit, once employed by one of our country's most prestigious universities.  When his mental illness struck he was no longer able to teach, his marriage ended and one of his grown daughters is lost in a world of drugs and violence, possibly no longer living.....but no one knows for certain as she has not been heard from in several years.  His mind and heart are broken because of this horrendous illness.  He couldn't cope with continuing to live in a large city so returned to his home town where he is cared for by many friends.

One of my son's best friends in high school was diagnosed with schizophrenia a couple of years after graduation.  He was filled with promise for his future, had a wonderful sense of humour and was one of the kindest young men we had ever met.  Now he is physically swollen, as well as being a near zombie, from the medications required to control his illness and prevent him from becoming violent.  He has made a couple of attempts on his own life because he has found nothing worth living for.  Remembering him as he was before the diagnosis it is incredibly difficult to believe it is the same person. His family has managed not to come completely apart at the seams but it has taken a lot of work.

Schizophrenia and other mental illnesses have become rampant in our society and culture.  Few are left untouched by this plague it seems as more families must learn to cope with their own or a family member's depression, manic episodes, bulimia and anorexia etc. My father in law suffered with schizophrenia for many years with the possible addition of manic depression the last few years of his life.  He had good times and bad times during his long illness, but eventually it split the family apart and the long term effects can still be seen in the way they relate to people outside their own immediate family structure even though he passed away 10 years ago.  Mental illness suffered by a family member tends to drive the remaining family inward for their own protection.  The outside world doesn't understand the mentally ill. Other people question and judge and mistreat those trying desperately to cope.  I had not dealt with mental illness before I was married.  Sometimes it has been very difficult to deal with, and my own marriage has come as close to ending as it ever has due to fall out created by my inlaw's schizophrenia.  

So many advertisements on tv and in magazines now are for medications to treat various mental illnesses.  It is very good that these illnesses are being brought out into the light.  There are more  support groups for the families and friends of the afflicted as mental illness comes out of the shadows. Perhaps advertising and support groups can help to eventually eliminate the stigma that has accompanied mental illness patients and their families in the past.  However as good as these things can be and as much help as they can give, they don't bring the medical community any closer to discovering and eradicating these illnesses.  The long term damage continues in many families and will do so for many years to come.

As more cures for more chronic and lethal illnesses are found I can only pray that mental illnesses will soon be among them.  

Saturday, January 28, 2012

So THERE! Fixed YOU!!!

A friend of ours told us a great hedgehog story.  During the hedgehog as a pet phase out here on the prairies, a farming family not far from where we lived was not impressed when their school aged children brought home a breeding pair of hedgehogs they had purchased from a friend.  The father was very angry and said they had to get rid of their new pets.  He mentioned destroying them but that sent the kids into fits of tears and hysterics.  So he told the kids to relax, he would take hedgehogs away but not hurt them. I don't know what he told his children about the fate of their hedgehogs, but what he had actually done was toss the pair into an old shed, assuming they would just freeze out there as it was the dead of winter at the time. That was the end of any more talk of hedgehogs at their house!  

But the joke was on dad:  the shed he had thrown them into was filled with old straw bales and of course those bales were filled with insects hibernating for the winter...a wonderful food source for the breeding pair of hedgehogs.  heehee

When the father went to that shed later in the spring to get something he had left in there, not even remembering he had tossed the breeding pair of hedgehogs in there that winter, he opened the door and got quite a surprise!  Inside that shed he discovered the breeding pair had been doing what a breeding pair does.  Inside that shed were hundreds of tiny hedgehogs!!  They were well fed, running about the place, and not at all alarmed by his presence.  hahahahaha  He gave up and called a breeder to come and collect them.  The kids were ecstatic and dear old dad got his comeuppance! haha  Be careful how you treat animals as you don't always win battles with them!!AND they can make you appear extremely and sometimes deservedly  foolish!   

Hedgehogs of The World Unite

For a few years in the '90's it was au courant to have African pygmy hedgehogs as house pets.  In reality  it was a terrible idea.  These tiny nocturnal loners need a remarkable amount of space to roam to keep them healthy and sane. Few pet owners understood that and there were many hedgehogs who passed away before their time from improper handling.  It was a sad situation.

I will never forget the day my 13 year old son jumped into the car after school and announced that we had to go to the house of someone named Roger to pick up the hedgehog my son had paid him $40 for that very morning.  Whaaaaaa?  I didn't know who Roger was, barely knew what a hedgehog was and I certainly had not been asked nor even told that my son was going to purchase one!  But the money had been paid out and my allergy to other animals had denied my son a pet all his life, so..........off we went to Roger's.  First of all we made a stop at the local pet store to find a book on the care and feeding of hedgehogs and the purchase of a small wire cage to bring him home in.

We got to Roger's and went in to discover that Roger's parents were breeding hedgehogs in large aquarium tanks.  I was horrified.  Other than a feeding dish there was nothing to amuse them or to give them proper exercise.  Instead of being upset with my son for buying a baby hedgehog I was just happy to be releasing one of the poor creatures from its dreadful existence.  Eli named him Chewbacca and off we went home.

Chewy took over our lives........and our home.  We realized the first night that he needed far more space than the cage we had would permit him to enjoy and by the end of the first week he had taken over the entire dining room of our house. For the nearly 4 years he lived with us we served our guests their meals in the living room, where we had moved our dining room suite.  Chewy required new papers each morning and it took a half hour to recover the floor.  Finding his beloved mealy worms to eat was not that easy in a rural town outside of fishing season.  Dell built him a large set of ramps so he could get more exercise.  Chewy loved to run about the living room when I allowed him a bigger run, and usually headed straight for the coat closet where he would curl into the toe of my winter boot and sleep for the day.  If I tried to remove him before he was ready he would hiss,  and swell out his spines to maximum length so that I couldn't get my hand in to remove him and a spatula had to be called into duty to roll him out without hurting him. He loved to bath in the kitchen sink and afterward would curl up in the hollow of my neck, wrapped in a small towel, to dry  off.  When Eli got tired of taking care of Chewy after a year, and was planning to sell him, I capitulated at last and admitted I loved the little guy, paid Eli $40 and kept Chewy right where he was.  

Who else could make me laugh the way Chewy could when he made one of his rare escapes and snuck inside my purse, sitting with his cute little face staring out at me?  Who could scare me as badly when he would escape at night and run under our bed, scaring me senseless as he ran through the Christmas wrapping paper I stored under there.  The first time he got out of his living space I was certain someone had broken into the house and I lay in bed terrified until he ran out from under the bed and jumped into the small garbage can in the bathroom. hahaha  I loved that little animal.  He reminded me of me.........a loner, prickly with strangers, demanding nothing but to have his own space, a decent meal and to be otherwise left alone.  

When Chewy developed pleurisy one winter and passed away from it I was heart broken. I don't cry when animals die but I had a strong sense of loss for several months afterward.  Due to my allergies and asthma I had never had a pet I could keep for such a long time.  Chewy didn't bother my health.  I am  hard on myself with animals because I am so aware of their complete dependence on being cared for and so I worry too much.  So in that sense I suppose it was a relief not to have to worry about a pet any more, but to this day I miss the little guy.  

Owning African pygmy hedgehogs has apparently passed out of fashion at last, at least out here on the prairies, and I am so grateful for that.  Unless they are treated properly their minds go snap very easily and it is wrong wrong wrong to do that to an animal......or a people.......

Friday, January 27, 2012

Monday Monday...........

In this case the Monday I am talking about is a large yellow dog that belonged to friends of ours quite a few years ago.  Monday passed away some time ago but he brought a lot of joy to our lives.  He was one smart puppy!  Monday and his family lived a distance away from us when we lived in Didsbury.  His people would sometimes bring him along when they visited.  Dell knew Monday really well because his people were Dell's employers as well as friends.  He saw Monday at least 5 days a week at the boss's house.  It didn't take more than 2 or 3 visits to our place for Monday to clue in that not only did we live there, but so did Dell's half ton work truck.  It was parked out behind our place as we had no garage.

Monday loved to go for a Saturday morning run.  It seemed to be the best morning to make his escape from the yard where he lived as it was the one day some of the family were sleeping in.  One Saturday Monday showed up at our back door at about 8am.  We awoke to whining, howling and barking at our back door.  Dell went to see what was going on and there was Monday.  He didn't want to come into our place, but he seemed to want Dell to come outside. So out Dell went.  As soon as he got out onto the porch Monday raced over to our half ton and jumped up into the box.  Well okay Monday, cute, but what are you doing?  Monday refused to get out of the box and continued to bark.  An hour later he was still carrying on out there and refusing to leave the truck. The neighbours were getting upset about the noise so Dell drove Monday back home.  His people were not impressed that he had escaped and then bothered other people.

The next Saturday Monday returned even earlier in the morning.  The same performance was repeated. Soon Monday was showing up as early as 6am.  Every week Dell tried to force the dog out of our truck box and chase him away but to no avail.

After a few weeks of this we finally caught on. Monday was playing us!!  He had recognized Dell's truck on his first visit, knew that we lived in building, and figured he had it made: a Saturday morning escape and a long and happy run until he was exhausted, followed by a chauffeured ride the rest of the way home in our truck!! 

It took a few weeks of him being more securely penned on Friday nights before he was broken of the habit of his Saturday morning escapades and it took us even longer to stop sleeping with one ear cocked for his arrival every weekend.  

Who ever came up with the expression Dumb Dog had never met Monday!!

Twice the Mice

Writing about that old army barracks remodel we lived in reminded me of one of the most hilarious city girl vs country boy incidents we ever experienced. 

A few weeks before our first Christmas there I found Dell the most wonderful new tool box for a Christmas gift.  I wrapped it in some large retail plastic bags and hid it in my part of the bedroom closet (unlike the first old place we had rented this one did have a few closets). Note this detail as it will be important later in the story.

One afternoon after a snack of eggnog and my mother's Christmas baking, I was enjoying reading a book when I heard a fuzzy sounding"thunk" in one of the spaces between the studding in the shared living room/kitchen wall.  There was a short silence and then loud, frantic scrabbling and squeaking noises ensued.  It went on and on for the rest of the afternoon.  I realized a mouse had fallen from the roof between the joists and into the mess of uninsulated 2x4's behind the drywall.  By the sound of the high pitched squeaks it was obviously one of the babies who had fallen.  

When my exhausted husband got home that evening from a particularly long day on the construction site he decided he couldn't relax and eat his dinner until this problem was dealt with.  So, he got himself a drill and an ice cream pail and proceeded to drill a hole about a half inch in diameter in the wall just below friend mouse.  He had me holding the pail up to the wall for the mouse to fall into.  

Remember I was not used to mice yet at this point.  The only mice I had seen were the dead ones in our first house.  Dell barely got the hole drilled and I was just securing the bucket when the world's smallest mouse leapt from the hole.  I was so frightened by its speed, and the knowledge that mice can bite, that instead of pushing the top rim of the bucket flat against the wall to trap the mouse, I pulled the entire bucket away from the wall, and threw it across the room, screaming at the top of my lungs and hopping up and down, thus allowing the equally terrified mouse to catapult himself right into the middle of living room. He hit the linoleum, skidded to a stop and then flew at light speed toward the bedroom and the very closet where I had hidden Dell's Christmas tool box.  I ran after him and hoped to trap him in there.

And where was Dell while all this shrieking and hopping and terrified running about was going on?  My screaming in his ear had shocked him to the point of total paralysis. He was standing absolutely still and white faced, his now shaking hand still holding the drill.  

"Please Dell, please come, I've trapped the mouse in the bedroom!!  HURRY UP WHAT IS WROOOOONG WITH YOU???" 

"I'm sorry Sue. Give me a minute.  I can't move.  You scared me so badly.  I thought something worse than a mouse must have come through that hole."  

It took him nearly a full minute to put the drill down and come to the bedroom closet. (And it took me a lot longer than that to forgive him for getting himself paralyzed when we had a live mouse running about the place! It's not like he hadn't heard me shrieking in terror before, right?)

Fortunately for us, while all the personal drama was going on the mouse managed to trap himself in all the layers of plastic the tool box was wrapped in. When Dell could finally force himself to move again he was able to simply remove the bags from the tool box, thank me for the cool gift, and transfer the mouse to the pail.

Although Dell was now physically moving it took his mind a longer time to come back.  He couldn't bring himself to kill the mouse. Okay, I admit the stupid thing was awfully cute.  Apparently baby mice are like that before they grow up into hideous, destructive adults.  (When Dell had to put our elderly ill cat down years later he cried for 2 weeks and when our arthritic hedgehog developed pleurisy and passed away in Dell's hand years later again, he was nearly inconsolable.  He is a most tender hearted man.)

So what to do with the mouse....Dell had a brilliant idea.  He would drive the mouse out to a farmer's field and put it into a bale of straw.  I can't imagine any farmer agreeing to this plan, but that is exactly what Dell did.  He was gone for half an hour, during which time I washed my tearstained face and calmed my nerves.  

When he got home I served him up a well deserved dinner.  About 2 mouthfuls into it we thought we heard something......yup, you guessed it:  another muffled "thunk" as a second baby mouse fell into the wall in a different space.  The squeaking and scrabbling started all over again.  Sigh......poor Dell. He put his fork down, looked at me like his life had just ended and headed for the electric drill.  This time he banned me from the entire procedure and managed to drill the hole and hold the pail up all on his own.  Mouse number 2 was also the recipient of an escorted trip to the country to the same bale of straw.  For the next 2 years I lived in complete paranoia every time the walls creaked in the wind. But we had no more mice tumbling between the walls, no more screaming and hopping about.  The mere mention of this incident still causes my husband's face to turn a very light shade of green...... 

Cutie Patooties

There is a very cute baby shown for a few seconds at the start of a nivea skin care cream commercial.  The baby has the cutest little baby feet:  round puffy oblongs with stubby toes all tucked under.  Tiny chubby baby feet make me laugh and laugh.  hahaha

After last Sunday's readings at church I laugh all the harder when I see this commercial.  Apparently one of the young teens was doing a reading and came across the city of Nineveh.  However when he read it he proudly announced that the people were going to the city of Nivea!!  Too cute!  Dell got some good chuckles from that.  

Kids and church can be a lethal combination of the hysterical kind.  At one church we attended a few years ago there was a rather rambunctious young man about age 5 or 6.  He found it incredibly difficult to sit still in church and when one Sunday there was no Sunday School he nearly went crazy sitting through an entire service.  We all felt sorry for him. Some Sundays it is hard enough for adults to sit still through an entire liturgy.  The end of the service was finally in sight and we bowed our heads for the final prayer.  It was very quiet and we could have heard a pin drop but what we heard was, "Mommy, Mommy, is the service nearly over?"  Mom whispered "Yes son it is."  The little boy was delighted and shouted out, "Thank GOD!!" hahahaha  Even the priest had to suppress a snort of laughter.

At our present church we have a visitor several times a year who brings her wee one.  Wee one is nearly 2 now.  It has been a great lot of fun to have her visit our church. She loves to come up to the front of the church during Dell's sermons and wrap herself up in the long skirt of his alb.  She twirls herself around in it and sashays about, pulling it nearly off him sometimes.  She walks along following Dell at the communion rail and doesn't leave until her Mom finally pulls her away.  Wee one loves church and we love having her come to visit.  Always entertaining and if the congregation isn't paying any attention to Dell's sermon at least we know that all eyes are at the front!  haha 

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Super huge apologies to those of you who have left comments on my blog!  Just now I was checking for spam and accidentally deleted every comment on the whole blog.  So they aren't gone because I didn't want them, it was just my mistake in clicking on the wrong icon.  Don't stop the comments coming okay?  Sorry everybody.......

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Last of the Series

In 2001 we were asked by a relative in Vernon if we could house sit for part of the summer.  Since we had just found out we had to be out of the house we were renting at the time we leapt at the chance.  Summer in Vernon means day time highs of over 100F and a ton of sunshine.  Coming out of a cold grey winter in Alberta it was quite a treat to be there.  

The house is a lovely large house up in the hills on the north side of the city.  The streets are very steep there and just going 2 blocks to the mail box and back is quite a work out.  Mastering the art of backing our vehicle up and down the incline of the narrow driveway made me feel like a hero.  The house has wonderful air conditioning and shaded decks, as well as a small tadpole stocked pond, beautiful roses of every colour and kind, some shady trees....it is the most wonderful adventure of a house.  It is clean and well appointed with several different levels.  It is a spectacular place to spend a summer, requiring only a short drive to the lakes in the area, excellent shopping and sightseeing.  It was a blessing to spend a summer there.  

One of the most fun groups in the neighbourhood was a huge flock of quail.  They came in every size and age.  Early in the mornings they would run across the narrow cement decking in front of the house on their way to breakfast. There were so many of those little quail feet out there that it sounded like someone was beating a small noisy drum in a kind of unlikely beat pattern. The first morning I heard it I thought someone was breaking into the house.  As I went to the patio window to check it out they raced by a second time.  There is nothing more adorable to watch than a large thick mass of stampeding quail!  The stand up curlicue feathers on their heads look to me like mini tiaras or new fangled fascinators, and to see them on a fledgling bird that is only 3 inches tall and 3 inches long is just heartbreakingly cute.  Seeing quail is like seeing a Disney animated movie come to life before your eyes.  The neighbour across the street fed them on a regular basis and they were very brave around the neighbourhood folk.  (The same neighbour loved to feed us as well and I learned not to say yes to an offer of his homemade beer when I discovered he only served it in 2 pint servings.  Aiiiii yiiiii.........the whole angle of the hilly street temporarily changed after my first afternoon with this dear man and his wife.)

The other interesting creature in Vernon is the rattle snake.  They are considered an endangered species there and so no one is allowed to kill them should they show up unexpectedly amongst the backyard flora.  The first thing we were told when we arrived was not to stick our hands into any crevice or bunch of plants around the tadpole pond.....or anywhere else our hands and fingers could disappear from our own view.  Well, we never saw any live rattle snakes but over the course of the summer the tadpoles disappeared one by one and I did see a small fragment of shed snakeskin on the driveway one day. 

The neighbour in the house below us had a well appointed wood working shop in his garage.  He often had the large overhead door open so that he could work on projects, and it was an open invitation to the larger rattle snakes.  Since it is illegal to kill the snakes this man would snag any intruding rattler with the end of his spiked cane, and hurl it out into the middle of the road.  His next door neighbour was on speed dial and as soon as a call came in from him, she would race out to her car and drive over the snake before it had a chance to recover from its flight through the air. Oops, drove over a rattle snake accidentally......my bad.  So the only rattler I ever saw was a squashed dead one. And to be honest, with no offense intended to the protectors of the rattle snake, I absolutely fell in love with this man and his fast driving neighbour.  I detest rattle snakes and I was grateful for these creative folk who lived so close to us.  I felt safer just knowing they were there. (And yes, I have no compunction about killing spiders or mosquitoes or house flies or mice either......just so you know.......and I hate bears too although I don't want to see them killed.)

We had our first introduction to sugar ants that summer......Dell's uncle and his wife had just arrived from Penticton expecting one of my better Japanese meals when I looked over from the dining room to the kitchen and thought I was watching the legs on the kitchen bar stools come to fuzzy looking, undulating life.  I rubbed my eyes but it didn't help.  So I walked over for a closer look.  It wasn't the bar stool legs that were moving, it was millions of sugar ants that had suddenly invaded the kitchen!  They were marching in straight line formation up the basement steps over to the barstools, up the barstool legs to the counter above, then across the counter top that surrounds the kitchen, and back behind the refrigerator, through a small hole that returned them to the basement.  I absolutely freaked out.  Dell and Uncle jumped up and came running.  Uncle's wife beat a hasty retreat over to the living room couch under the mistaken impression that the ants wouldn't find her there or be able to reach her if she tucked her legs up under her behind.  Dell and Uncle headed downtown to see if they could get some ant traps leaving me alone in the kitchen and stairwell, beating at the ants with rolled up towels and big flat shoes. Talk about a wasted effort.....a losing battle.......  With it being late on a Sunday afternoon the men couldn't find any stores open that had ant killers or traps, but seconds before they returned home the marching line of teeny ants disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.

We tore the house apart that night trying to figure out where they had come from.  Finally we located a few of them hovering around the door frame of the cold room and storage area.  We had placed all our empty pop and juice tins in there in sealed containers, but one of the seals wasn't tight.  In that container were 2 empty mango juice tins and they were still swarming with ants.  Dell discovered where they had gotten into the room and sealed it up. Then he raced the container outside.  I killed what ants I could find and then sprayed a thick line of oven cleaner along the floor and around the door frame of the cold room to prevent any remaining ants from coming into the rest of the house.  (household hint:  ants don't want to cross through spray oven cleaners so it is a good way to stop them coming into the house once you locate the source of entry) We threw out the mangoes that were ripening in the kitchen and didn't buy mango juice for the rest of the summer!!

There are other fascinating buildings we have lived in over the past 35 years but that is enough for now.  More fun memories for me.....as my age increases rapidly I am mostly impressed that I can still remember anything at all!!! 

Rental Revelation #3

I include rental #3 because it was such a delightful change from our first 2 places of residence....new town, new townhouse.  Remember townhouses?  They were the original condos and fit the proper definition of condos in that they had offset walls between living spaces, 2 separate exits and the like......they were row housing but completely separate living spaces, not merely repainted and up priced former rental apt.'s gone privately owned and illegally named as condos.

Our narrow 2 storey townhouse was nearly new.  Only one or two other tenants had preceded us.  The building materials were the cheapest of the cheap, but compared to our first 2 rentals this was a dream come true.  Although the back yard was about 8 square feet, divided by a cement block sidewalk to the back gate and with a tree stuck awkwardly onto one side of the remaining grassy area, it was our own back yard and the grass could be cut with a set of pruning shears. (There wasn't room for the smallest of mowers back there anyway!)  It was fenced and private.  There was new gold carpet on the living room and bedroom floors.  There was undamaged linoleum, and paint on the walls, that were new and matched each other......imagine that!!  Yes the colour scheme was the typical rental unit assortment of beige and eggshell, with the gold bathroom fixtures and kitchen appliances so popular in the early '80's, but the cleanliness was wonderful. AND the luxury of having 2 bedrooms, one for the new baby, was exquisite! AND a half basement for storage and laundry....heaven!  No more laudromats!!

The construction in our unit though had one little glitch that provided hours of amusement for us:  on the ground floor just where the staircase began was a space in the wall that hadn't been properly insulated.  If our neighbours on that side happened to be standing at the bottom of their stairs and speaking in anything above a whisper we could hear everything they were saying.  We quickly learned to be quiet on our side of the stairs to maintain our own privacy.  

Our first neighbours loved to holler at each other and their language was colourful in the extreme.  It was good for our baby son that this family moved away when they did or it is quite likely his first word would have been "##!!**&"  or "**^**%" or even "%$$##"!!!  Can you imagine??  Dell and I received quite an education ourselves!

The second set of neighbours were lovely people.  No colourful language came through the walls and we alerted them to the sound travel possibilities when they moved in.  However there was also a little glitch in the design of the places. The master bedrooms were right beside each other, hence adjoining windows.  Our neighbour was a meat cutter who went to work at 5am.  He was a deep sleeper.  He loved "country music" (an oxymoron to me if ever there was one).  His alarm was set to a country music station and it was set on the highest volume to ensure his wakefulness in time to get to work. During the summer months our entire family began their day at 4am.  Johnny Cash or the like would come barrelling in our windows, at a morning hour that had not previously existed for me, and at deafening decibels. It continued for at least a half hour until our neighbour roused himself sufficiently to turn it off.  All we could do was laugh and pray for winter to come early so that all our windows would be closed and the noise reduced to what could still filter through the adjoining walk in closets. What a summer!! haha

From the townhouse we then moved into our own house, built by Dell and his family, and there we stayed for about 18 years.  To end this series I will describe 1 other place of residence that we found most interesting........in the next post. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Our Second Rental Housing Revelation

About a week after returning from our honeymoon we received a letter from our landlord.  The house we were living in was going to be demolished so that he could build his wife her first new house.  We had a month to relocate.  As much as we wanted to leave this house we did start to panic as there were still no easy to find rentals in Didsbury. But through a friend of a workmate of a friend of Dell's we did find a new place to go.  

The new place was just as run down as the house we were in, but we grabbed at it in gratitude.  It was a renovated army barracks building brought in from northern Alberta and transformed into a 4-plex.  We were on the top floor, most fortunate as the sound barrier between our apt. and the one below us was practically nil, and listening to the mice in the ceiling is as much noise overhead as I can manage at the best of times.  I spent our 3 years in there trying to only play my piano when the downstairs neighbours were away from home.  The one smoker we had there for awhile tried to pay attention to when I was out so he could smoke his cigars without bringing on an asthma attack for me. It was a wonderful lesson in cooperation between neighbours.

The apt. was, once again, not in the greatest shape.  The ceilings peaked at 15 feet in the living room and we could hear the mice overhead constantly scrabbling about.  The floor lino was in better shape than it had been in the "wee hoose" but was a dark red.  There were yellow and brown stains all over the painted walls in most of the rooms and we tried not to get too close to them. We could only hope that it was beer and not something worse........aiiii yiiiii.....  The kitchen cupboards were, sorry to say it, pee yellow!! (the more polite "urine" is too polite a word for the color of those cupboards).  Since the landlords had no intention of cleaning the place up or painting it for us we had to call for assistance from dear contractor friends and employers.  By the time we located the rental unit the landlord of the "wee hoose" was pressuring us to leave earlier than the agreed upon date. 

What an exhausting 3 days we and our contractor friends spent cleaning and endlessly painting that suite.  The contractor' s entire family spent the 3 days with us and by the time we were done some of them were absolutely ill from exhaustion, paint fumes and the general filthiness that prevails on any such project. We were so grateful to them all for the loving donation of their time and efforts.

We thought we had another week to be out of the "wee hoose", but the morning after our marathon renovation the phone rang at 7am.  It was the contractor's wife and she said she had a very strong feeling we needed to return to the old place and get the rest of our things out as quickly as possible.  This is a discerning wise woman and we knew we had to listen to her advice.  Sure enough:  we arrived at our former residence less than a half hour later to find that there was all ready a construction crew there tearing the place down.  We barely got our clothes out of the cupboard and thrown into the back of a half ton truck before the bedroom  walls and ceiling came crashing down.  We did lose a couple of wedding presents and that was maddening, but we are still grateful for the lady's early morning call or we would have lost all our clothes and personal articles that had been left behind!

A very funny thing happened when we painted the kitchen cupboards.  Dell was determined he wasn't going to spend any more money on this suite and so he went to his workshop and mixed together every little last bit of leftover paint he could find among the various partially empty tins.  Of course the color came out a weird shade of brown.  When a  friend from town came to visit she was appalled at the colour.  The conversation went like this:
She:  who painted those cupboards that horrible shade of brown????
Me:  We did! You should have seen the horrendous yellow colour they were before we came here!
She:  That "horrendous  yellow colour" was painted on by ME when I lived in this suite 3 years ago!!
hahahaha  Small towns--ya' gotta watch what ya' say! 

The creaks, pops, squeaks and groans emanating from the hot water tank and furnace plagued us our entire tenancy but it was our little joke when the hot water tank actually exploded a couple of hours after we moved from the suite. The incoming tenants had arrived hours before we had to be out and had hassled us to the point of frightening me trying to get us to hurry up. We had to remind them very strongly of the legalities they had agreed to as to our leaving time.  When we found out the tank had exploded and soaked many of their belongings it was difficult not to snicker just an itty bitty bit!!  My bad........(Yes, just mine. Dell is too grown up and filled with compassion to snicker at anyone's misfortune....sigh.........)

The nearly 3 years we spent in the army barracks 4-plex was quite interesting.  It was freezing cold all year round; great in the summer but winters were draughty so we had colds and bronchitis most of the time we were there.  I spent most of my pregnancy there with the mice and the bugs and the draughts but survived it all.  A few weeks before my son was born we were able to leave Didsbury and move 15 km north to Olds and another apt./condo experience, Rental #3!

Our First Home

I will never forget the first house we moved into when we were married.  

I had always lived in a middle class home with my parents growing up, followed by a lovely downtown apt. when I left home after high school for what I thought would be a long career in telecommunications. 

But marriage intervened and I moved from Calgary to my husband's adopted town of Didsbury.  In those days there was little available for rental property but Dell was able to finally find a little old run down house on a weedy, unmown lot. 

The outside of the house was finished in old fashioned glass stucco so wouldn't have been particularly attractive even when it was new. The old black shingles were starting to peel upward. The whole place looked abandoned.  The front door didn't seem to work and would have opened right into the tiny living room so we used the back door exclusively.  It opened into a fair sized uninsulated porch that made a good freezer for the first month we were there and then an addition to the fridge as the weather warmed up.  All the rooms were tiny and had ripply ancient linoleum of various colours.  The living room was sort of carpeted with elderly brown short pile.  The kitchen almost had some counter space and there was a free standing fridge that wasn't level that made for some fun balancing for the food on the shelves inside.  The stove worked...mostly.

There were no closets but there was an antique clothes cupboard in the miniscule bedroom.  I opened it up and it was dark inside so I reached inside to see if there was a clothes bar.  When I pulled my hand out it was covered in thick spider web AND a number of black spiders!!  I remember shrieking like a banshee and backing away quickly from the cupboard.  Dell came running, calmed me down and we got the vaccum going to suction the spiders, webs and various balls of dust out of the cupboard.  It was traumatic for me but provided no end of hilarity for Dell.  City girl vs country boy.........aiiii yiiiii...... 

Later that night I kicked my foot out from under the bedcovers and my foot hit the outside bedroom wall and went right through it into the cold dark air outside!  Welcome to married life in the only rental available in a small rural town!!!!  The town has subsequently grown and has some lovely residential areas but in those days it was difficult to find anywhere to live there.

2 months after moving in we left on our month long honeymoon to the Maritimes.  We had no idea if it was safe to leave our few belongings alone for that long in a house with iffy locks on the only working door, but decided that even with the weeds mowed down outside the place still looked abandoned and the worst we would come home to would be squatters.  Sigh....what we actually came home to were mice! 

Nothing kills the rosy after glow of a month long honeymoon like returning to your first home, walking in the door and seeing a huge dead mouse trapped where you had been keeping food prior to the trip.  I had never actually seen a mouse before, alive or dead, and the shrieking began again; followed by sobbing when I realized the mice  found the wedding card Dell  made for me and had eaten the sugar smiley faces he purchased at a bakery and adhered to the card. All that was left were the dots of glue on the paper.  I knew nothing about mice and their infestations, spiders and their huge populations in old houses......what a nasty revelation to City Me!  

However our time in that house wasn't to last much longer...only about 3 weeks in fact before we had to move into Rental Housing Revelation #2.......      

Houses We Have Lived In Over the Years

Been thinking lately about the various houses and apt.'s we have lived in over the past 35 years...what a marvellous assortment of fascinating places!  Some of them are so odd, some so "run of the mill", some posh and some decrepit.  Too early in the morning to start now, but will think on it and describe them after a good sleep.....yup, we have had quite a life and some most interesting rooves over our heads.  haha  More later..... 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Snows, Shovelling Woes

Woke up this morning to about 3cm of fresh snow...not a lot, but enough to completely cover the sidewalks where our local parishioners will be walking to get into the church for service in a few minutes.  Dell has no time to shovel on Sunday mornings,  as he is gone before 8am to attend to services for our other congregation 60 km away and it is still too dark at 8am to see.  The new snow covers the remaining ice patches left over from our freezing rain a couple of weeks ago, making walking even more treacherous.  We were feeling so badly about it and wondered what to do. There is less than 10 minutes between Dell's arrival back home and the start of the service here.  A few minutes ago I heard all manner of chugging machinery and shovel scraping.  I looked out the window and saw one of our men outside with a small bobcat attached to a large shovel!  Within  minutes the church parking lot, sidewalk, and our own rectory sidewalk were all cleared of fresh snow and the remaining ice nicely pebbled up to create a safer walking surface.  Before he was done the man removed an attached handshovel and personally cleared our own walk and steps up to the front door.  All sidewalks in front of and up to the door of the rectory are our own responsibility, not the church's, so this gift this morning is very special.  Dell can relax and not feel badly about snowy sidewalks and not having time to do them himself Sunday mornings. Our parishioners will be safe. Thank you Wayne!  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Just a Reminder

Please remember that this is not a theological blog, it isn't intended to be. I do not have the academic ability or knowledge to make it so.  It is a personal blog, mostly for myself and for those who enjoy reading about other peoples' lives and experiences. Whatever is going on in my life now, theological or otherwise, is always subject to change. If you are an academic sort looking for a deep theological discussion this is not the blog for you, but my husband would love to know you are out there to dialogue with.  Have a great weekend wherever you are. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Clean House

A wonderful new friend is here cleaning our house this afternoon. I smell bleach and other cleaning products that tell me the dirt is being extracted from the lino and bathroom fixtures.  It is a happy odor.  I  love the way a house smells after a good cleaning.  I love it that someone I barely know wants to help us and I am also humbled by this kind of sacrifice.  Cleaning up other peoples' messes....is there anything more fraught with possibilities for disgust?  Is there anything so kindly offered?  May God bless this woman with all manner of blessings for making this sacrifice late on a Friday afternoon.

Fitting into the Kingdom of God

I woke up this morning thinking about how happy I am in my current denominational affiliation.  Over the years we have been led through many churches:  denominational, non-denominational, interdenominational, and even a pseudo Christian cult.  There were many good experiences in them all; even the cultish group taught us about levels of commitment that are possible (although of course it is best if the commitment comes from the heart rather than from leadership enforcers).  We learned that even in the best of churches a type of cultish mentality can exist, in the group as a whole or with particular individuals, that says "we are just a little more Christian than the other denominations".  We learned about an "us vs them" mentality that can exist between church goers and those who do not yet know Jesus.  

On the positive side we learned about community, giving and receiving, loving people it would be difficult to love without Jesus helping us, being those very people that are difficult to love without Jesus helping those around us, joyful sacrifice, and how to do pot luck lunches!  Good times and bad times, but all leading us to our current denomination.  

What I love about our present affiliation is its inclusive nature.  All are welcome.  All are welcome as they are, and God is given a lot of latitude, sans our well meaning interference, to create the changes we all need to make in our lives and attitudes and in our relationship with God.  There is a good awareness of community needs and what  our church members can offer....and a high level of committment to social justice issues. Meeting around the Eucharist as a church family each week draws us together whether or not there is a high level of public sharing about our spiritual lives.  Yes our denomination is undergoing a huge upheaval right now and we don't know what the eventual outcome will be, but for now these are some of the things I love. 

Another thing I am enjoying a lot is that for the most part our people tend to mind their own business.  I have been part of this denomination for about 17 years now and while there are always exceptions to the rule, most of the people I have met are strong in the concept of allowing people to live their own lives without constantly lurking in the background, performing a sort of "righteous spying" to ensure that others maintain the level of holiness demanded by the particular lurker who is just waiting to pounce on a suspected offender....or at least waiting to spread all manner of gossip or downright slander about the supposed offender's activities to anyone who will  listen  (and not always under the thin but quasi-acceptable guise of the local church prayer chain either).  There are very few issues in my denomination when it comes to others' personal choices.  You can agree or disagree in your own mind with what you see or think you see other church people doing, but you can pray for them in silence, help them quietly and out of the public eye if they truly need help, and the level of gossip is pretty minimal.  Across the socio-economic classes that are part of our church we have just seen far less "buttinskyism".  Yes, there are relational problems as there are in any group of people and familiarity can still breed contempt, but we see so many people being very careful not to jump to conclusions about their place and responsibility in the lives of others.  These people do not live in constant fear of being "tainted" by those with different personal habits or making different choices than they themselves would.  In these areas of life and spiritual walk, God is given a lot of credit for being able to change his own people as he deems necessary.

The other thing I truly enjoy is that there is not much pressure to be seeking God's will for every detail of life in a manner that requires such moment by moment vigilance as to nearly bring on a nervous breakdown in case somehow his divine will is missed.   It is nice to be able to relax, even at the most confusing of life's crossroads, and expect that God is big enough to lead and guide along life's path without a ton of stress that somehow I may have missed it.  I am learning that he is big enough to make corrections when I do miss the answers he is trying to make plain to me, and that his will is apparently more concerned with my character development than my outward appearances.  His will always concerns whether or not I am growing in the fruits of the Holy Spirit regardless of my outward circumstances.  Who I marry, where I work, what town I live in.....yes he works in all these areas of my life and guides me as faithfully as my hard human heart will allow, but in all those things I believe his perfect will is actually that I learn to be Christ-like no matter how those outward circumstances evolve.  I am getting good lessons in my current denomination about the overarching greatness of God the Father no matter the circumstance of life, the sacrifice of Jesus the Son that gives me trust that a triune God loves me and has my best interests at heart, and a Holy Spirit that is sent to lead my heart in the direction it needs to go to please the Lord.  As followers of Jesus his will is to help us restore harmony between a holy God and a fallen world.  I don't need to keep my eyes on the follies of others except to help them up when they fall, and I don't need to worry about the outcome of my own life's circumstances as much as the outcome of my heart's attitudes; how changes in my heart and mind show Jesus to the rest of the world .  I don't need to worry as much about the absolute correctness of my church doctrines as I do about allowing God to be the Lord of my life and trusting him to lead me into all that is necessary to fulfill my place as a beacon of Jesus' light in his kingdom. It is wonderful to have this kind of peace.   

Conquering the Bath Bench Bane

At last! I have found a great use for the bath bench!!  It is the most marvellous wide "table" for my bathroom.  I can keep books and buckets, towels and shampoos on it. I think a small potted plant would add warmth and colour!  Fantastic!! Nayyyaaa haahaa o bath bench! I WIN!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Small Pleasures

My husband is out of town for the evening, feeling better, back to full time work and catching up with his congregations. However, the dishes have been gilding the countertop in the kitchen for nearly 3 days now....no time, and next to dusting it is his most hated task, even though I can dry them from the wheelchair.

So, tonight after he left I decided that surely I could find a way to help him out for a change.  Whoo hoo, 90 minutes later and all the dishes are done, some at reaching distance from the wheelchair are even put away.

 Since I still only have one weight bearing foot it did take creative thought!  First I wheeled the crutches (for back up if needed) from my office to the kitchen, then wheeled back to the entryway for the walker, which I can tip up on top of my lap.  Dropped the walker next to the crutches.  Then I wheeled over to the island and pushed a wooden bar stool over in front of the sink with my good foot.  Back with the wheelchair to the walker.  Used the walker to get back across the kitchen to the stool, and sat on the stool at the sink to do the dishes after doing a head stand to  fish out the rubber gloves and drain board underneath the sink.  Washed as many dishes as would fit onto the drainboard without tumbling down onto the floor, (the dishes AND myself) then peeled my butt off the stool, grabbed the walker and headed back for the wheelchair.  Next step was to wheel backwards into the space between the drainboard, stove, and island, grabbing a tea towel from the stove rack on the way by.  As I dried I passed the clean dishes onto the island.  Then back over to the walker and a transfer so I could walker back to the stool. There were a lot of dishes to soak and several sinks of water to drain and refill.  I did the transfer from chair to walker to stool and back 4 or 5 times and I am exhausted, partly from the excitement of at last accomplishing a small household task! Being able to drop my foot down instead of having to stand with it waving madly about in mid air makes a difference to what I can do now, even without any real weight bearing. Not being the brightest star in the firmament, I am quite delighted I was able to figure out a plan.

I can't wait to see my husband's face when he walks in the door tonight and sees a clean counter and only a few clean dishes left to put away.  He has done so much for me and it is one of life's simple pleasures to surprise him this way!  YIPPEE!!!!  

Cleansing Cry

Yesterday I had my first physiotherapy appt. It was an incredible way to spend 90 minutes and I feel more confident about starting to regain control of my own foot!  My therapist is so knowledgeable and experienced it was impossible not to feel confident about my future mobility.

However today I have been overwhelmed trying to learn to use several new appliances.  I have a walker without wheels, a walker with 2 wheels, a walker with 4 wheels, and a bath bench which I was told would happily revolutionize my life until I can stand in the shower again.  Yeah...........right.........how to make using this blasted bench a happy experience is going to take some creativity and practise.

I used it this morning........what I know is this:  instead of happy independence of being able to sponge bath whether or not Dell is home, we are now both stuck as I require his presence to keep myself from being injured and to clean up the water all over the bathroom floor, to find a place to put my glasses and return them to my face as I can't reach any of the safe places myself, to keep me from falling as I lower myself onto the unsecured bench, and to pass me down the shower head as I can't reach it without losing my balance on the sloping tub floor.  There is no shut off position on the shower head so I have to hold it between my knees to keep it from spraying all over while soaping up.  As it was there was water all over the floor.  Sigh..... It is going to take some practise for me to find anything happy about a bath bench!!  BUT it is wonderful for washing my hair. AND I will get used to it and find better ways to keep the water from going around the shower curtain.  In the process of getting my daygown on afterward I got it twisted and when I pulled it down I put a big tear in it....the brand new lovely daygown my husband bought me after I fell to cheer me up and say he loves me.

That did it........the huge torrent of tears came at last after shedding so few since the fall.  Finally something released the hidden stress and I cried for a full 5 minutes. Dell was so patient and good about it, so understanding and encouraging to get it all out.  So, I did and I feel great again, but without the hidden tension going on underneath.  I am not a crier but it was so good to let it out. Who'd a thunk it?  I could get into this..............well, maybe not, but at least I won't be so afraid to cry again if the mood takes me sometime.  It felt good and now I feel ready to get going on all my midday exercises and do some more practising with those walkers. Thank you Lord for emotions and for cleansing tears.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Another neat quote

In 1604 the committee was struck that eventually created the King James version of the Bible.  The attitude of the time was far more corporate in its scope than we are today in our individualistic society.  Compromise and inclusion of all of society was more expected and practised, at least when it came to creating a scripture that became accessible to all.  

I enjoyed this little quote from Adam Nicolson's "God's Secretaries:  The Making of the King James Bible" when he writes about today's attitudes toward committees:

"Committees thive on compromise and compromise produces fudge and muddle."  

"Fudge and muddle"......a wonderfully descriptive phrase.  Does that sound like the result of any committees you have worked on?  It certainly does to me when I think back to past endeavors at cooperation and compromise.  hahahahaha 

My Own Personal Restaurant

Over the past 61/2 weeks of being housebound (although today it would be storm stayed....blizzard brrrrrs), I have had the privilege of enjoying my husband's cooking.  He and his sister are amazing cooks and I have been blessed by this wonderful family at many meals.  

Dell cooks with little salt, few fats, and replaces creams and other high cholesterol ingredients with blends of herbs and spices to keep the flavours inviting.

Yesterday I hit the jackpot here at home: Dell woke up thinking he would like to make baking powder biscuits.....oooh, heavenly.  His do not taste of baking powder, which is my main complaint with other biscuits.  They are light and fluffy, salt free and don't need a ton of dangerous butter to give them flavour.  Just a wee tad of honey or a favourite cheese chunk to make them scrumptious!  We didn't have lunch...didn't need it after a late biscuit feast.

Dinner was amazing as well. I knew I would be treated to another kind of feast when I heard Dell muttering about how best to use up a plethora of potatoes, and a particuarly poor quality cut of steak.  We dined fashionably late and it was worth the extra wait for potato soup garnished with bits of bacon and green onion, followed by rogan josh with basmati rice, and cooked carrot strips with purple cabbage.  The very plain, unbuttered, unspiced veggies were a complement to the spicy rogan josh, and I didn't need a lot of rice carbs with the meat sauce.  O my, it was wonderful.

Don't you wish you were storm stayed or otherwise housebound with a cook like mine?  Sorry....he isn't for hire;  he's mine all mine!! 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dad's Encouragement to Young Moms

I was just remembering some of my dad's wise words given to me when my son was a wee guy.  There is always the peer pressure in regard to potty training, losing the soothers, walking vs crawling, and graduating from bottles to cups.  Dad was a teacher and school principal for many years and his some of his favourite years were spent teaching Grade 1.  This is what he told me: 

"Susan, you need to relax about all these things. Children will learn as they are ready.  In all my years of teaching Grade 1, I never once had a child arrive at school wearing diapers, sucking on a soother, or drinking from a bottle.  All of them had given up crawling for walking.  So don't worry."  

It calmed me down and so I pass this on to whoever may need similar encouragement.

Living in Fun Places and Other Places

I grew up in Calgary AB.  It was a tiny city known mostly for the Calgary Stampede and its proximity to the Rocky Mountains.  It was a great place to grow up 50 years ago, safe, and like an overgrown small town. I loved it then.  Marriage in the '70's took me to Didsbury AB, my first taste of culture shock, and the lesson learned that the highway for visiting friends only ran in one direction.  3 years there and then came a work related move to the next town north: Olds AB where we spent about 21 years learning more about small town folk and their foibles.  We thought we were going to be there forever, but about 12 years ago we began a series of really fun moves.  We sold our house to go overseas, but first had to move into friends' basement suite for a few weeks.  It was my first experience of living in the country and driving to town...okay, okay, it was less than 10 km to town, but it was a first for me not to be able to walk down the street to a convenience grocery. Then we moved out to Vancouver Island to my father in law's home at Royston for a few weeks.  First Island living experience and I loved it......2 acres, a short drive to town through overhanging trees with huge ferns to look at along the side of the road, water and seal pods.....fascinating stuff.  From there it was onto Tokyo for a year or so......a city that never runs out of new things to see and experience.  It is one thing to travel overseas but to actually live in a new country is a wonderful experience.  From there it was a return to the Island for 4 months in Royston and what a wonderful reintroduction to Canada.  Oh, how I love that area.  From Royston we moved to a farm west of Olds AB, to take care of some sheep and cattle for friends who were away for a couple of months.  That was a totally new experience for me: living on a farm!  While it was shortlived it was a lot of fun and I learned about the never ending daily grind of farmers with livestock.  Back into the town of Olds for the winter where we rented a funny little old house that was next door to a lady who ran a 12 month of the year garage sale.  We never knew who would be parked in our back yard/parking area and some days we couldn't get our own vehicle parked in our own designated spot.  The house was right beside the railway track and when the trains would pass the whole house would shake like there was an earthquake happening....interesting at 4am.  Then on to Vernon BC, land of intense summer heat and adorable quails, to housesit for relatives for  part of the summer, followed by a housesit in Calgary in the most expensive residential area of the city where we often found ourselves unable to get into or leave our house due to a constant influx of film crews that regularly used our street for movie making projects. Sneaking out the back door to the garage or back alley so that we could get to where we needed to go was quite a thrill.  From there into our own apt. for a year while Dell started seminary.  It was a nice apt. but the battle for good health was constant due to smokers in the building, many fireplaces in the surrounding neighbourhood, and even a pellet stove burning at a house across the street.  We were not sorry to move on.  Then off to Caronport to student housing for seminary, but we were fortunate to be moved into the seniors' complex intsead. It was new and beautifully appointed, quiet and filled with wonderful seniors who treated us like family.  From there it was back to Calgary where Dell's sister generously took us in for 3 months until Dell began interim pastoral work in Sundre AB.  The closeness of the foothills and the people we met there made it a wonderful stay.  Then off to Moose Jaw for another work related position leading to ordination. We lived for 3 years in a tiny apt. in a complex with the most lovely and interesting "characters" for neighbours.  And from there to our current location, again a small town and a great big old rancher house that is perfect for this winter's wheelchair activities.  Lots of places, lots of people.......we have never been bored.  Lots of twists and turns in life and each move represents good changes!  Wonder where life will next lead us?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Prairie Expressions That Are New To Me

The number of cultural expressions specific to different regions of the same country always fascinate me.  In the past few years I have learned that even within the boundaries of this one province where I reside there are some very different names and expressions for various things.  Here are two that have captured my interest:

1.  Storm Stayed:  when the winter snow, ice and winds combine to make leaving home nearly impossible.  The only expression I have been conscious of using for similar conditions, or any other conditions that make leaving the house nearly impossible is "house bound".  But "storm stayed" is very specific.  It doesn't apply to being stuck at home due to illness or injury or agorophobia or pure laziness the way "house bound" does.  Anyone born and raised in this part of our province doesn't have to ask what "storm stayed" means.  Into the mind comes instantly a picture of deep snow, impassable drifts, thick ice, howling winds, late summer's pounding hailstorms, and general weather induced misery. 

2.  Bunny Hugs:  aka "hoodies" to the rest of the known world.  The first few times I heard that expression I had no idea what was being discussed.  I was too embarrassed to admit my ignorance so spent several months smiling and nodding when "bunny hugs" were being talked about. Finally I figured out that "bunny hugs" are actually the familiar fleece lined "hoodies" that most people wear nowadays either to stay warm during the pre- and post- winter coat wearing seasons, or to try to act all "cool" and "understandin' o' da 'hood" ( said in my best white trash way).  I understand the expression "hoodies", if for no other reason that they usually do have actual head warming hoods attached to them. But "bunny hugs"????  Have you ever tried to get a decent hug from an actual bunny??  Their little front legs can barely encircle the circumference of a newborn baby, let alone an adult.  "Bunny hugs" eh?  Sorry, I really don't understand this one....but the expression does have a cozy feeling of cutsie about it. Saying it gets me all giggly......  

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

Today was to be my fledgling attempt to return to church.  My husband was prepared to take the extra time to load and unload and reload and unload and reload myself and the chair and the crutches, so that I could go to both towns and services starting very early this morning.  However, at long last real winter has returned to the prairies.  An Arctic Front has arrived, and there is snow coupled with the remains of the last ice storm.  Added to this are quickly dropping temperatures. By midweek the daytime highs will be in the -30C range.  So no church for me today. Moving me and all my accoutrements is too time consuming and dangerous in this weather.  Most of western Canada is getting hit with winter's return, including my son on the west coast:  the rare morning temperature of -2C and about 5cm of snow.  He will have the opportunity to wear the winter coat and boots he purchased last year for a winter visit to our fair town.....the visit where he was literally housebound for 6 days in a row due to the incredible snowfall and freezing cold. I am trying not to worry about a friend of mine who is moving westward today, right through the blowing snow, icy highway, and into a city under a major storm warning today.  May she be safe and warm and arrive intact.