Monday, December 31, 2012

A Happy Happy New Year To Me!

I don't know what the new year will hold for us, but the old year is going out gangbusters for a people person like myself.

Last night I had a great phone chat with a Moose Jaw BFF.  Today I had calls from a Vancouver Island BFF and an Alberta BFF.  This afternoon I had a wonderful surprise visit from other dear Alberta friends travelling through our town and we had a great visit.  Several emails came in this morning from friends in other provinces and tonight one of my most favourite people of all time called me from Moose Jaw.

My husband ordered in a chicken/mushroom/green pepper/black olive/fresh tomato pizza for dinner and we watched our favourite New Years Eve television programmes this evening. We are going to end our time together playing silly video games and snacking....after he does just a bit more work over at the church of course. haha  If there actually is "no rest for the wicked" then pastors like my husband must be wicked indeed! hohoho

Now if I could just locate my mother to wish her a Happy New  Years Eve I would be happy.  It is very unusual that she is not at home at this time of night.  It is possible she was invited out for the evening and decided to go.  It is possible the illness related lock down at the hospital where Dad is has been lifted and someone was able to take her over for an evening visit.  It is possible something bad is going down with my dad's condition and her next call will bear bad tidings.

But for now it has been a happy happy entry into the new year and I will very much enjoy thinking about my day!

PS Mom just called. She has indeed been out gallivanting with friends.....I am delighted for her!! She saw dad today as the lock down ended and he is about the same as ever, no worse, so that is as good as it gets for now.

A Broken Tooth....Drat!!

A few weeks ago one of my molars broke.  There has been no pain so I didn't worry about it as there are too many other stresses going on in life right now.  The crown of the poor tooth was hollowed out 40 years ago, stuffed with filling and then held in place by a wee metal pin.  Last year the pin came out so I knew it was only a matter of time before something would have to be done.  It has lasted in that state for most of a year until the one half broke off last month.  

Last night the pain started and it was a rough night with painkillers and heat packs and cold packs, so I called a dental clinic this morning and left a message.  They reopen post holidays 3 days from now so I pray I can manage to eat between now and then.  The pain is my own fault. I should have made an appointment as soon as it broke.  It has been over 15 years since I could afford to go to any dentist for any procedure and my husband's dental plan doesn't cover much for someone with such a disaster for teeth, but at least I should be able to have the tooth extracted if the root is also rotted, or maybe even crowned if the root is worth saving.  One way or another it has to be dealt with....soon....

I am not dreading the pain of the dental procedure.  I am not dreading the cost, tempting as it is to dread that little problem.

What I am dreading is the verbal drubbing I am going to take from whichever dentist ends up dealing with the tooth.  How do you explain to a financially secure professional person the financial disasters of your own life that have meant having chronically bad teeth and no dental work for so many years?  The dentist has no time to listen to the details and no interest either.  In this age of cosmetic dentistry how do you make the dentist understand you can only afford, barely, to do the least of the least for your teeth?  

Sigh........I am praying hard for relief of the pain while awaiting a call from the dentist later this week and praying harder for a dentist who can take my teeth as they are, understanding that sometimes the perfect cosmetic dental treatment is not possible for everyone, even those with basic dental plans.

Two gals from our church family work at this clinic and perhaps their presence in the building will be comforting.......after I get over the embarrassment of them seeing my dental records......sigh......

See what dental pain does?  It causes irrational embarrassment over something I can't help.  haha  There, something to laugh about today: uncalled for concern about the opinion of 2 lovely parishioners over the state of their priest's wife's teeth!!  Yay, I knew there was something good about this whole mess. If you look hard enough there is always something laughable to focus on.

Also this tooth pain means I get to live this week on yogurt and cheese and calcium filled soft foods that I truly enjoy eating.  Hmmm.....maybe I could splurge and find some 2.5% BF yogurt....gotta keep my strength up, right? 0%BF yogurt wouldn't do that, right?  heeheehee

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our Blessed Christmas Dinner

When I got home from the city I was so tired all I could think of were the upsets of dad's and mom's health.  Now, after my wonderful night's sleep I am remembering the amazing Christmas dinner our friend cooked for us.  It was difficult not to feel a slight twinge of guilt over the meal, knowing that Dad was unable to take more than 3 bites of the turkey dinner he received in the hospital, but we managed to move past it and enjoy ourselves! heehee

Dinner began with an appetizer of Greek style artichoke hearts.  Since I would gladly give my life if my last meal on this earth consisted of artichoke hearts I was delighted.  There they sat on my plate, in a light tomato glace with diced 
onions and Greek herbs........so fantastic and so far removed from the fare available where I live that I nearly burst into tears at the sheer delight of having them sitting in front of me.  I didn't even have to eat them to be moved to such an emotional reaction.  

The main course consisted of a large, fat free baked chicken from a local Vietnamese butcher, with herb gravy and crispy roasted bread stuffing, roasted cumin potatoes, long fresh green beans with mushrooms and bacon and a fluffy turnip puff.  I could not resist a tiny second helping.  

For dessert we indulged in a Swedish almond cake and pears soaked in red wine, port and kirsch.

We ended our meal with a blessed sigh of contentment.

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus and he is our family's personal chef.

A Refreshing Night's Sleep

It never ceases to amaze me how even one night of good sleep can restore and refresh a person's body and mind.  After "sleeping" 4 nights on a somewhat ancient 2 seater sofa in mom's tv room on our trip to the city, with car doors slamming outside my window at various times of the night and a lot of overhead noise from the neighbours between 2am and 4am each day as they arrived home from work, I felt a huge sense of relief as I sank into the comfort of my own bed last night.  This morning I was able to get up and clean the bathrooms, tidy up the mess in the kitchen, finish unpacking, get a big lunch ready for company...all before church.  After our company left I didn't even need a nap and have been steaming on full speed ahead all day.  Oooh, the gratitude I feel for a good bed.  

Today the world once again seemed like a happy place in which to live.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Long Road Back to Health

The drive home from the city seemed endless today.  The only thing worse than the unrelenting brown scenery of the prairies during the other 3 seasons of the year is the unrelenting snowy white of the prairies in winter.  At least today the wind had blown the snow around a bit and left a few bare patches in some of the fields and along the medians.....bare patches of brown....sigh....maybe I was simply too exhausted to appreciate any views today.

I have had a few worse Christmases than this one, but this one is right up there on the list of baddies.  We did have an excellent drive to the city on less than stellar roads and dad was very happy to see us, was at a point where the pain killers were finally starting to work and reducing the frequency and severity of his muscle spasms, we had the most fantastic dinner on Christmas Day that we have probably ever had and wonderful fun with our host, the weather was wonderful for late December and we had an uneventful drive home.  All good things.

Buuuuuut, my poor parents.....  Dad's pain and spasms are far less, he is managing to move around in his bed a bit more using his trapeze, his eye infection is gone, his shingles are starting to dry up nicely,  buuuuuuuut, yesterday morning he fell out of bed searching for a non-existent flashlight he was hallucinating had fallen onto the floor.  Somehow he managed to clear the top of his bed rail and land on one elbow, splat, onto the linoleum.  The relief is that he was found fairly quickly and "air lifted" back into bed.  He did not hit his head and by the mercy of God did not manage to break any more bones.  He even managed his first 5 minutes of physiotherapy that afternoon.  Buuuuuut by this morning his back was once again spasming badly in reaction to the fall from his bed.  By late afternoon, when we were going to go to see him and say goodbye for this visit, a virulent respiratory outbreak had infested most of the hospital, they went into lock down and we had to say our farewell by telephone.  Dad was less than impressed......of course you know who was also fighting the illness by the time we left town this morning......yup.......

And then there is my mother:  while she is coping okay to some degree, my arrival triggered a ghastly series of panic attacks once she realized she had someone there to take care of her.  All the stress came out in a rotation of aches and pains and crying and inability to sleep or eat without feeling ill for hours afterward.  The first evening I was there I had to force her to drink 3 cans of soda pop in a row to get the pain and nausea under control.  It was horrendous for her to experience and for me trying to assist her in recovering from these attacks.  By this morning she had finally settled down and was eager for us to be on our way so she could get herself  back into her comfortable daily routine.  Thankfully we were able to get her some of her groceries in bulk, to pad out the 2 months worth of frozen meals I took to her.  Despite everything her attitude was not one of "woe is me". Hopefully we can return in a few weeks.

And still dad waits for his MRI date to be moved up. The holiday season brought staff changes and his doctors were on some much needed holidays. They will return next week and start the process for a re-booking the MRI all over again. The first attempt was hijacked by the holiday season.

So now off to bed to be ready for early church service in the other town in the morning, our local service, lunch with a friend here who hopefully eats pork roast and scalloped potatoes and parsnips and carrots and salad.  Thankfully some of my mother's wonderful baking came home with us so I won't have to make dessert.

Sooooo tired. So hoping some kind of near miracle can happen for my parents.

Being 85 years old, in failing health and being at the mercy of a failing health care system, is a terrible plight.  There are so many elderly people in similar and far worse circumstances.  

Tonight I too feel like I am about 85 years old and am going to spend the next few days hibernating and pretending I am not at home, but in an old hotel that is just like my own house only with no telephones or computers or people ringing the doorbell expecting me to answer.  Watching other peoples' pain is exhausting emotionally. It is difficult knowing there is so little I can do to make it better.

If I can just get through church and lunch tomorrow.......if Mom and Dad can manage one full day without a new crisis to deal with.......if I can get a couple of good nights of sleep back here on my wonderful bed......maybe in a day or 2 my equilibrium will be restored if I take good care of myself.

So, how was your Christmas?  Tell me something fun and joyful and exciting about your own adventures of the season!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and All That Jazz

That second busiest season of my husband's working year is upon us once again.  Extra church services, extra stress, extra concern for people who find themselves disconnected from the joy and hope that are supposed to surround this season of celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Over the past 3 years the number of attendees at the Blue Christmas services in both our towns has grown significantly.  As much as I love the Advent and Christmas church services, it is not my happiest time of the year either.  I am grateful for the spiritual and emotional support these services give me or it would be a very bleak time.

This year I am accompanying hymns at both services.  Grateful for the guitarists locally so I don't have to do all the hymns in both places and can concentrate better on the service in this church.  I love the services but will be grateful when the season itself is over and we move into Epiphany.

Tomorrow we brave bad roads, snow storms and freezing cold temperatures to get into the city and see my parents and my husband's family.  It will be good to connect with them all and it is always worth the drive.  Hopefully it will cheer my father a bit.  We are arranging a phone call for him with his grandson, guaranteed to bring a smile to his face.

So, will blog some more at the end of the month, heading into the new year.  Feeling most uncreative right now, my mind being on the upcoming trip and getting ready for Christmas Eve services.  I am looking forward to a break from the computer and telephone while we are at mom's where there is no internet service available.  Being quiet and spending time with only family is a real need that we have this year.

Hoping every reader of this blog does have a wonderful Christmas time whether celebrating with family and friends, or alone and enjoying a bit of a break from the weekly routines.  May Jesus' birth pique your curiosity about why he matters and get you reading a bible, maybe the book of Luke, to see what difference his life is supposed to make for you and for all the earth.  Jesus, the baby, the rebel, the saviour.

Blessings..........talk to you all again soon.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

And Today I Proudly Wore......

......the brown cotton shirt I soaked in Coke a few days ago.  Not even a hint of the greasy stain left on the front of it.  How nice to have liberated my unwearable wardrobe items again.  Wish I had discovered the Coke Soak many years ago.  I am packing up the rest of the newly de-greased shirts into my suitcase for my medical run to the city this week.  I am hoping we can take my husband's next chance for a few consecutive days off and go visit friends in other places not related to illness and family and obligations and sidelines for work.  It will be great to see my dad and mom and attempt to assist them in sorting through their present medical issues and problems, but after losing my husband's mother this fall and then being plunged immediately into problems with my family we need a few days away from it to regroup.  I would like to be able to soak my stresses in Coke and make them disappear as easily as those stains on my shirts.

A Giant Snowfall Last Night and Today

This morning we woke up to about a foot and a half of new snow and some interesting drifts around our house and garage from the slight wind.  For those of you who prefer using cm's I will let you consult your comparison charts to see how much snow we received in metric measure.  Today all this snow and drifting has left me feeling as elderly as the Imperial System itself so I am using it as an emblem of my present condition.

It is still pitch black at our Sunday leaving time of 8am here, one day after the shortest day of the year, winter solstice, so while we realized there had been a fair amount of snow we couldn't actually see the depth of the new drifts behind our garage.  Oh my goodness, we had to shovel for about 15 minutes before we had a long enough path dug out to get the car from the garage to the alley way right beside it.  We were wet and exhausted and chilled before we even started the 60km (there, is that better?) drive to  our other church.  

It took us over an hour to get there, snow drift "bustin'" the entire way.  Underneath the drifts was an unrelieved coating of thick ice that only appeared a couple of days ago. I can't remember the last time we had to plough through that many drifts on a secondary highway in such a short amount of time.  It was terrifying, as the pit of my stomach let me know for that whole hour.

When we finally got to the other town there were quite a few cars stuck in the middle of the main street but we were able to slither past them.  Everyone was shoveling snow out from around the tires and pulling snow out from under their vehicles quite happily and no elderly among them so we carried on up the street to our church. My husband was able to find a place to park sufficiently away from the centre of the road to not have to worry too much about being hit by passing cars. We walked in the door of the church less then 3 minutes before the service was supposed to start. Generally we would be at least 30 minutes early.

Fortunately it was a special day at the church today; instead of a sermon and a full blown Eucharist we did a shortened version and then headed down into the church hall for the annual children's programme.  The Sunday School teacher brings his video camera starting in October and the kids make all the props, sets, puppets and pop can choirs required to tell the Christmas story on film.  Every year it is different, hilarious, You Tube worthy.  We start looking forward to seeing it weeks before production is complete. We were finished church well ahead of schedule and what a relief as we wondered what the trip home would be like.

The plough had been out on our side of the road for the trip back and we were congratulating ourselves on making the trip back much more quickly.  However, the wind had swirled heavy amounts of snow back across the very place behind the garage at home that we dug out before leaving 3 hours earlier.  Sigh.......  Of course we managed to high centre the car about 7 feet from the garage door.  It was our turn to dig out our vehicle.  So glad we hadn't had to dig anyone else out first because by the time we proudly drove the car into our garage we were worn out.  It took Dell most of the second service to wind down.  He really needs to learn how to shovel more slowly!  

There wasn't anything particularly unusual about our experience.  It is a typical prairie winter experience, but we are finding our sense of adventure somewhat lacking these days and didn't enjoy the challenge as much as we might have a few years ago.

Tomorrow we have a drift over 4 feet high to dig out of the 30 foot long sidewalk that runs from our front door out to the street.  Hopefully the public sidewalk that runs another 30 feet across the front of our property has drifts slightly less high and thick.  We do have to be well enough afterward to do another trip tomorrow evening to the other church to do the first Christmas Eve service early in the evening, with an even shorter amount of time provided to be back home here for Christmas Eve service number 2.  

Perhaps we should return tomorrow afternoon to the home of the parishioner we braved the snow and bad roads in town to go and visit after lunch this afternoon.  He gave us a drink so laced with alcohol we barely felt able to drive the few blocks back home afterward.  WOW, we are RELAXED!!!!  Maybe if we go back to his place tomorrow for a repeat performance we could leave for the first Christmas Eve service without worrying, or even caring, if we end up in the ditch or high centered in the middle of the highway.  Hmmmm......maybe a plan..........NOT!

This is prairie winter at its finest:  huge snowfalls, big winds, icy roads and drifts too high to drive through. Waiting for the plough is home grown entertainment here.  Over the decades we have experienced many snowfalls and storms like this one.  It is nothing new.

But today I feel a little like Charlie Brown:  I caaaaaaan't staaaaaaaand it!!

Poop on old age and exhaustion that strips the fun out of adventure days like this one.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hail to the Chef!!

I read a newspaper article this morning that cheered my heart.  A chef in Prince Albert decided to donate a 4 course meal to the women in a shelter there.  They dressed up in their finest and enjoyed a wonderful treat.  Hail to the Chef!!!

When you are in a situation like that, needing protection, down and out financially, experiencing all sorts of alienation from family and mainstream society, a 4 course dress up dinner can be a very normalizing experience.  It is a chance to "feel like everyone else".  Kevin Tetz you are amazing!  I remember the times of feeling alienated myself: although I was not in a shelter, I had as little money at my disposal as most of those women have and when my husband would occasionally come up with twenty or thirty dollars unexpectedly we would use it sometimes to go out for dinner.  Twenty or thirty dollars was rarely enough to satisfy a bill collector and the mental and emotional boost it gave us to eat out at an actual restaurant was often very motivating to keep seeking the jobs our health issues at the time would allow us to do.  You can only handle complete practicality for so long in an affluent society like ours before you feel that mentally you are about to snap.


I suspect there may be a few folk who will criticize Mr. Tetz or even the shelter for doing something that at first thought could seem like a very short term gift, lacking in long term practical value. However, when you are trying to get free of a bad situation it is often the "little" events that seem like an impractical use of time and resources that start you on a path to get back on your feet.


What Mr. Tetz gave to these women will remind some of them that there is a good life to be lived outside the walls of the shelter that they find themselves in and will add to their motivation to be empowered to seek out that life as soon as they can.  What an awesome Christmas present!

Now, I wonder if there is a "Chef Tetz" who can approach the American NRA and miraculously use his gifts to get through to them the folly of their idea that armed guards at every school in the USA will diffuse mass shooting scenarios........what the........are you kidding me??????????

Friday, December 21, 2012

Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Left You in Hospital and I'm Feelin' So Sad!

The latest update on my dad's health:  he has shingles.........sigh......

I think my father should re-read The Book oF Job.........once he gets over his eye infection.....sigh....

In It For The Long Haul

By last night we had pretty well calmed ourselves down about Dad's latest medical news and started to accept the realities of my parents' new lifestyle brought about so quickly by age and infirmity.

I spent most of the day tracking down everything I could discover about private health care possibilities and found out that the nearest centre prepared to take Dad on for the kind of surgery he needs and his overall medical condition is in Vancouver, effectively quashing the whole idea. Even if we could get him out west there are too many other variables and he would be in a real pickle if the treatment there did not work.  

So we are all satisfied that he is in the best place he could be for now.

Some encouragement came from his doctors as well yesterday afternoon.  Apparently there are 3 levels of priority for booking MRI's with 1 being the biggest emergencies.  For some reason the booking agent for the test scheduled dad as a level 3, but his doctors had labelled him a level 2 with his name on the waiting list for level 1 cancellations.  They were very upset about the error so are looking into that today with an eye to getting him bumped into the correct level.  I feel better knowing they are on top of that.

The other encouragement is the plan my mom has come up with all on her own to set up scheduled days for visiting and times for cell phone calls to dad on non-visiting days.  She said she needs to schedule specific days away from visiting so that she can go out and do some things she would like to do, things she has always wanted to do on her own but never gotten the chance with Dad insisting on going along every time she leaves the house.  They are both 85 years old, my mom is used to just doing things the way dad wants to do things, and to see her getting excited about being able to take some initiative for her own life is a wonderful thing.  I pray her health will stay strong so she can have these months on her own to plan her own daily schedule as often as possible.

Dad's pain is starting to lessen.  The painkillers will have to be monitored closely to see how the rest of his body is being effected by them, but the latest combination has worked better than anything thus far.  If this keeps up Dad should be able to sit up a bit soon without so much pain.  He has to lay on his back so much and the fear of pneumonia is ever present.

I am so very grateful Dad was able to be admitted to this particular facility the day he was taken to hospital and can remain there to live until he recovers from the surgery that will hopefully be planned in future.

And so, off to do some dusting this morning.....the race to get the housework done so that I can get out in the car this afternoon and finish up a few chores before we head for the city next week.  Our day started off with a parishioner bringing over a lovely gift on her way out of town for Christmas...a good omen I am sure.

We're Dreamin'

One tradition my son and I have is sharing some of the crazy night time dreams we each experience.  Last night he called to tell me his latest, featuring myself.

Apparently in his dream he had committed a minor crime but the law enforcement agency in his town considered it a horrendous breach of the public trust.  They executed an arrest warrant and put a bounty on his head.  I, his loving mother, decided to capture him and bring him in so that I could collect the bounty!  His own mother!! hahaha

The dream ended after I had managed to capture him and secure him inside a van, but as I climbed in to drive him away to the police station I slammed my fingers in the door.  End of dream as my son woke up at that point.

Yup, serves me right!!!  Turning in my own son to collect a bounty......for shame!!!!

 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Blessing of Life Long Friends

This afternoon I received a phone call from a dear friend.  He has been driving my mom to the hospital every day to visit my father.  My parents have known him since before I was born.....in fact, if I remember correctly, he is the man who drove my father to the maternity hospital to greet me for the first time following my birth. He was my first babysitter.  He gave a speech at my wedding.  He has been a friend to our family through decades of differing circumstances, through good and bad times, always there helping us when we have needed assistance of many kinds, a true blue forever friend.

He cared for his mother for many years.  He took care of his siblings and other relatives.  He cares for a number of very elderly individuals who are otherwise alone in the world.  He delivers Meals on Wheels.  He taught elementary school for many years, caring for each and every student.  He is very close to several members of my extended family that he grew up with in the old neighbourhood.

We had a nice talk on the phone today and he invited us and my mother to come to his home for Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day.  What a treat.  I was planning to cook some Christmas food of some kind on Christmas Eve to take to Mom's so she would not have the burden of cooking but this will be even more fun.  The food I take can be eaten on another day during our visit.  How like him to turn down several other invitations of his own to make sure my mother would not be alone on Christmas, and to include us as well when he found out we are going to be in the city.

I wish everyone could be as blessed as our family has been by this man.  There is no gift we could give him to fully express our love and appreciation for what he has done for us so often and so faithfully.  Maybe some day there will be a way to let him know the depth of our love for him and our gratitude for his love for us.  

There are many human "angels" walking about on the earth......our friend is one of them.

 

Oh, My Poor Parents

So my dear parents got the news today about Dad's so called emergency MRI.  It is now scheduled....for August 2013!!!  Apparently he is not considered an emergency after all.

I want to be charitable here.  The doctors, nurses and technicians are stretched about as thin as they can be and I feel that generally they are doing their best with a bad situation that has been going on in Alberta health care ever since Premier Ralph Klein made such a muck of things to pay off a provincial debt that subsequently ballooned again under his successors.  Our public health care system across Canada is disintegrating and most everyone who cannot afford private health care is in the same boat.

When it is your own family member suffering as a result of the system as it stands these days it is more difficult to be so charitable, I have to admit.

Dad will be unable to leave his current medical facility until the MRI is done and the surgery takes place.  It means my mother will be alone for the next 8 months or more for the first time in her married life, learning to cope and take care of all the chores of daily living on her own.

She is not the first and certainly not the last senior this is going to happen to.  I just feel so badly for her. I think she went into shock this morning.  We had been told it could take up to 3 months for the MRI so hearing that it will be 8 is quite a shock to us all.

There are so many seniors facing this and similar scenarios of enforced separation due to health issues.  Like the majority of seniors in this situation it has happened so quickly and unexpectedly.  

It is an unfortunate fact of life for senior citizens  like my parents.  They are not experiencing anything particularly unusual for this day and age in our country.

What I am grateful for is that there is a good facility dad can live in while he waits and there is always the chance that cancellations will bump him higher up the list to have the MRI.  If my mother can accept things as they are without panicking completely, a new lifestyle for them will be possible, although very inconvenient.  

My fear is that Dad will react emotionally to this and decide he  no longer wants to live.  Another possible 8 months of dealing with this chronic pain may be more than he feels he can face.  I can understand that.  He is not eating as it is to avoid experiencing the bowel problems from the pain meds that he suffered through last weekend.

So, here we go again: my husband's mom with her own extended hospital stay last spring and summer and her passing in Sept., and now my own dad and mom.

It is just that time of life.  I have been on the phone and internet all morning seeking other possibilities for dad but so far nothing he can afford to even contemplate has arisen.

Well, we shall continue to pray and wait and research and hope for the best.  With all the osteoporosis fractures dad has had over the years, particularly the many spontaneous spinal fractures, we need to all be grateful it didn't come to this a decade or more ago.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Secret Santa Day

Earlier this week my husband and I enjoyed our annual Secret Santa Day. We choose agencies where we can remain anonymous while doing what little we can to help whoever can use our small gifts.  It is a great lot of fun for us and hopefully for the people who benefit.


One thing though made us very sad.  When we took our donation to one agency's food  hamper collection station we were shown 2 large tables overflowing with food products that were all expired. Some of the best before dates were from several years ago!

We were appalled.  Once again the attitude toward the poor is displayed by a blatant disregard for their health and safety. The agency involved now has to foot the bill to have these many items hauled away to the dump.

If you won't eat something because you know it is old and no longer safe to eat, why on earth would you take that product and expect someone else to eat it?? Would it not be easier to toss that food into your own garbage than to haul it across town and then expect the charitable agencies to dump it in the garbage for you?

What a slap in the face for people who face hunger on a daily basis, so often through no fault of their own. What a lot of extra work for the people sorting and packing the hampers to have to deal with your out of date grocery products.  It is unfair all the way around.

Sometimes it is wiser to refrain from giving when the heart is not in line with the reason for giving and there is no respect from the giver toward the recipient.

As someone who used to have to receive food gifts from those who either felt coerced into giving, or were simply trying to clean out their own cupboards of expired foods, opened and half used packages of rancid food items, because it was faster and easier than hauling the stuff to the dump, I can only say I have rarely experienced anything more degrading. If you wanted to let me know how much you disrespected me because I could not earn enough to eat at that time, you succeeded in grand manner.  

I have one small piece of advice for you if that is the kind of donation you would make to the poor:

Just. Don't. Bother.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Snow Crunchin'

This afternoon we went to visit some parishioners.  Great visit, delicious sherry....yup, a nice afternoon.

However when we left our friends and went to our car we discovered that once again my husband left the lights on during our visit and the battery was dead.  Sigh........who puts their car lights on in broad daylight??  

So, since I was expecting a phone call from the hospital about dad's condition I decided to leave my husband to deal with the problem and  hoof it home on foot; my first real winter pedestrian experience on the new and improved ankle.

Fortunately we had about 10 centimeters of snow come down overnight and this morning.  Since it was still coming down mid afternoon very few people had shovelled their sidewalks yet and the deep snow covered the ice on the pavement very well indeed.  There was a lot of traction for my boots.

What a thrill to be out walking with so little worry about slipping and falling.  Even the slippery intersections, where only yesterday the ploughs had been out scraping off the snow down to the bare glassy ice, were covered with a thick layer of crunchy dry snow.  I felt free as a bird and even took my eyes off the ground occasionally to look around at the snow covered tree branches and little mounds of fresh white clean snow atop cars, fence posts and BBQ units that hadn't been taken indoors after the summer season.

Crunch, crunch, crunch went the snow under the soles of my boots. The most fun I had was at the intersection closest to my house where large chunks of packed snow from yesterday's ploughing were stacked along the curb where I had to cross.  There was a 10 cm dump of fresh crisp snow on top of the hardpack and it was fun stepping up into it before the big slide down the other side....yup, I slid....on purpose, good foot first.  Very confidence restoring, it was.

As I neared home I caught myself walking more and more slowly, trying to prolong the experience, but knowing that phone call was coming brought me to my senses before I tried another climb over the hardpack again just because I knew I could.

I was rewarded for my discipline.  The phone rang as I was walking into the house and it was not only the hospital, it was actually my dad!  We couldn't talk for more than a couple of minutes as the spasms of pain left him gasping for breath every few seconds, but he has improved sufficiently to carry on a brief conversation.  What an encouragement for all of us.  Mom is encouraged as well that if these new pain meds can do their job over the next couple of days there may be an MRI for dad in the near future.  If the spasms can be reduced to the point where he can be in the MRI machine without twitching for as long as the test takes, then the surgery will be able to be scheduled.

Here's hoping.......some good news today....for me and for dad.

Amazing Judgements

There are times in your life when you discover what other people think of you.  You find out that all manner of folk you  barely know have formed all manner of opinions about how you live your life, a life they know nothing about, and that their opinions are less than flattering.  When this happens to me, I am always amazed at the strength of the opinions formed from the depth of their ignorance of my situation.  While it could be hurtful I suppose, it is easier to just chuckle and carry on.  Ignorant opinions so strongly held do not inspire me to explain reality to the holders.

I have always thought that anything anyone else does that seems odd to me is:
a) none of my business 
b) possibly spawned by an extenuating circumstance that is none of my business
c) rarely something I need to have an opinion about
d) none of my business
e) all of the above

Right now there is a long line of judges freaking out because I have not been able to drop everything and go running off to be with my dad and mom with dad in such dire straits in hospital.  Apparently there are no other current contenders for Canada's Worst Daughter.

So, what do I do to stop these people who drop broad hints to my all ready overly burdened Mother that her daughter is a horrible person?  Do I need to bother or would a dose of reality ruin their fun?

Well, my mother is wisely keeping mum.  She knows a few hidden realities that I face on a daily basis. She completely understands that their opinions about my absence are:
a) none of their business
b) definitely spawned by an extenuating circumstance that is none of their business
c) not something they need to have an opinion about
d) none of their business
e) all of the above

For myself I feel even less need to explain my reasons to these folk than I would have before the opinions began to fly.  

Do people really assume I do not want to be with my parents?  Really??  Since not one of them has had the courage to pick up the telephone and give me a call to ask me why I have to wait until next week to go there I can only assume that deep in their little hearts they are well aware that:
a) it is none of their business
b) my absence may be spawned by an extenuating circumstance that is none of their business
c) not something they need to have an opinion about
d) none of their business
d) all of the above 

So yes, there are several extenuating circumstances that I do not need to explain and now I certainly will not bother to do so.  If any of the self-appointed judges want an explanation they are going to have to screw up their courage and come out of the shadows to ask me what is going on.  I will most happily explain a few facts about my life if they simply ask me.  
 

In the meantime I have to have a private chuckle about what is going on.  AND, more importantly, guard my own heart and thoughts about what I am thinking about other people.  Am I internally accusing someone of something unnecessarily?  Have I stepped into the arena of judgement over something that is none of my business?  Am I as guilty as these other people?

If so, I had better clean up my own thoughts and stamp out my own ignorant opinions of people, the details of whose lives I do not know, and that are none of my business. 

And now my prayer is that these holders of judgements will leave my poor mother alone! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Having to Travel at Christmas After All

We had hoped for a quiet Christmas week this year:  one where we could pull the blinds down and unplug the phone once Christmas Eve services end and generally hibernate until the time comes to prepare for the New Year services; a time to rest, sleep in, read books, drink hot toddys, clear out the freezer of leftovers from weeks past, use the paper plates and plastic utensils to avoid doing dishes; a real vegging week.  Our kind of Christmas break.........

But it hasn't worked out that way.

Last week my father, who found out only the week previously that he is going blind very quickly, was rushed to hospital with a disk so compressed by fractures from his osteoporosis he is going to have to have it removed.  In his first 5 days there he also experienced a 24 hour 'flu', a UTI and other problems requiring a move to a different facility in order to deal with them.  How wonderful for him to receive so many "bonus" problems to take his mind off back pain so excruciating he cannot move without crying from the pain.  I feel so badly for him, and for my mother trying to cope with all the planning required to get her over to where he is in order to visit him and to keep track of what is going on.  Now he is in a long term stay auxiliary hospital awaiting an MRI and possible back surgery to remove the offending disk.  The state of health care being what it is there could be a long and painful wait ahead of him.  

And so, off we go to Calgary to see him as soon as the Christmas services are over.  We will be able to take mom over to see him, help her get groceries and banking done that are difficult for an 85 year old woman who does not drive.  

Not the Christmas we were counting on for ourselves....CERTAINLY not the Christmas my poor parents were expecting.  I feel so badly for them......and for my exhausted husband who absolutely does not need another out of town winter drive of that many hours length.  Aaaah, the joy of having only one vehicle and roads too icy for me to tackle by myself even if I had my own car.

I feel so sorry for all 3 of them.....I also am tempted to feel a bit guilty that I am not suffering from anything but a whole lot of good nights of sleep since getting the new bed.  If I keep feeling this great I can do all the care giving required by the other 3 and really enjoy it.  

Who knows what kind of unexpected blessings will occur on this Christmas that at first glance looks rather sad and gloomy??

Saturday, December 15, 2012

An Invitation Back to Tokyo

I am still kind of blown away by an invitation I received the other evening to return to Japan.  Once I got over the initial surprise and thought about it and lost a couple of nights of sleep over it, I decided against returning to Japan.  I also do not want to go to London, Greece, Italy, France, Germany, California, Oregon, Washington State, or anywhere else on the planet.  My travelling days are done.

Each place has a special memory attached, particularly Japan (which is why it is the only place I ever write about in this blog), and to return now would be to spoil that memory.  I don't want that to happen.  Memories are so precious to me and I have so many of them to enjoy...more than I deserve really.

I no longer want to face long lineups in airports, delayed and cancelled flights, missed connections, lost baggage, strange foods that upset my digestion, not having the right clothes for the weather, having the weather spoil the sights I paid thousands of dollars to see, meeting chatty strangers whose characters and motivations I have to be able to discern in a split second or any portion thereof before my purse or luggage is stolen right out from under my nose, buying items that look so great in the gift shop and in the course of the return trip turn into tacky little cha-chis by the time they land on my display shelves at home.

I am old. I am tired.  

I don't want to face any of these things any more.  I am no fun any more. I have no big travel dreams any more.

Canada is a happy place to be for me.  Here I intend to stay....for now............




Friday, December 14, 2012

What is more Delightful than a Home Made Cinnamon Bun?

And yes, that IS a rhetorical question!

My neighbour Mary is a wonderful 93 year old woman.  She has become a close friend.  We share our hearts easily with each other.

Mary also shares her gift of baking with me at regular intervals.  Once every 7 to 10 days she arrives at my front door bearing her latest spectacular gift from the oven:  bread, buns, cakes, muffins and today's amazing cinnamon buns, warm and freshly iced with lemon juice and  cream cheese.

Mary is a diabetic and has learned how to bake nearly every amazing favourite sweet treat on the planet without using sugar.  I have never asked her to share her recipes with me because I am a terrible baker at the best of times, but also because I so love the surprise of answering my front door and being confronted by this tiny powerhouse of a woman bearing the most delicious gifts I have ever received.  I have never cared for icky sweet sticky cinnamon buns filled with strong cinnamon so I usually avoid eating them. But Mary's are perfect....no sticky gooey stuff, minimal cinnamon, light fluffy  buns and that fantastic icing......life gets no better than this on a cold snowy winter day.

Mary speaks her mind but with good humour and a ton of wisdom.  She was widowed around the same time last year that I fell and broke my ankle.  We have grieved together, laughed together and rejoiced in each other's good times.  We keep an eye on each other's houses and regularly phone to check on how the other person is faring.

It is a great treat to receive Mary's good baking.  It is a greater blessing to call her my friend.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Irritatingly Trite Expressions in Church

Like most groups, church folk have their share of cliched and trite expressions; supposedly snappy comebacks when challenged about their beliefs and practises.

One of the most irritating to me is: "Jesus said it. I believe it. That settles it."

Oooh, so many things wrong with this little phrase...and my few thoughts about it here are just the tip of the iceberg of poor hermeneutics...even if after a lot of study and prayer I eventually come back to that premise but with a far different attitude.

When we say that Jesus said it, what we are often referring to is our own interpretation of the recorded words of Jesus.  It is difficult for us sometimes to limit ourselves to the understanding of the text itself when we talk about what Jesus said.  The temptation to interpret, to extrapolate, to remove from the context of the rest of the writings and to consider his words in relationship to our modern day context rather than the culture and people to which the words were delivered, are all very great and we fall into these temptations understandably easily. Before we can make such a bold statement we need to examine, consider and research what Jesus was saying to the people in that context and what he most likely meant.  It requires more than a cursory reading of a scriptural passage and assigning a meaning based on our own presuppositions, our own cultural norms.  Yes the Holy Spirit will help us find meaning in all scripture but some research into the culture and teaching methods of the time will help us delve into deeper meaning.

When we say "I believe it", compounded with "that settles it", what are we really saying?  What does it settle?  When we speak with such emphasis we are opening ourselves up to being hypocritical, because if we so strongly believe what we think Jesus said in Scripture then why do we so often fail to live out his teachings?  Why would we say things that leave us in an obvious position to fail to live up to our own professed standards?  What we do in practise is the fruit of what we truly believe in our hearts.  "If you love me you will obey my commandments." (John 14: 15-23) There is something Jesus said that we need to take into consideration before we start spouting off about our beliefs and how settled we are in them.

I don't have any trouble with the idea that if Jesus said it, I as his follower will attempt to discover what his words mean and attempt to live out that meaning to the best of my ability and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in submission to my graciously forgiving heavenly Father. That is what being a Christian is supposed to be all about.

But to add "that settles it" and the accompanying arrogance that sometimes surrounds such a statement, well, I so want to avoid that.  "That settles it" can imply some pretty arrogant ideas:  that I am therefore practising my faith fully and need not be accountable to you who obviously know less than I do; that I am "in" and you are "out" of the "club of acceptable beliefs and practises"; that myself is somewhat superior to yourself. What obeying the sayings of Jesus should imply is humility as we recognize that obedience to Jesus' teachings is easier to brag about than to accomplish in fullness.  What should be settled is the incredible difficulty we have in submitting our own wills to God as we attempt to walk in the ways of Christ that lead to lives of forgiveness, a humble teachable spirit, and a sacrificial love even toward those who most disagree with us.

Not only is this little cliched phrase arrogant, it is smug.

O God help me to avoid the pitfalls of assuming that I know anything about your teaching and life practise that causes me to lord my assumed righteousness over others; that I do not see those who are in different stages of their journey with you as being less than myself; that I do not act superior to those who do not know you yet.  Deliver me from my arrogant smugness about my own beliefs about you when I am face to face with those who display arrogant smugness about their own lack of belief in you.  Help me to read and understand the recorded words of Jesus as well as I can and to then allow the beliefs in my head to infiltrate my life and practise.  

I will with God's help......

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Little is Better Than a Good Night's Sleep on a New Mattress

My new box spring and mattress were delivered yesterday.  I was so excited I went to bed 3 hours earlier than usual last night just to try them out.  I haven't been sleeping well on my aging mattress, cheapest of the cheap to start with, and have been too aware of the springs underneath me each night.  It has been terrible for my back for months.  I have been exacerbating tendonitis in my arms and shoulders from laying on those sagging springs. I have been ouching and eeeewwwouuching, aching and paining around here for weeks like some ancient crone on her last legs of life.

But last night.........ooooooh last night was a far different experience.  For the first time in months I had a wonderful sleep.  Despite a bit of a pillow top that I didn't think I wanted, the good firmness of the mattress more than made up for the bit of softness right underneath me.  

Wow, to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and happy about a new day is something I haven't experienced in awhile.  Usually I crawl out of bed sometime between 3am and 7am feeling like something a truck ran over in the night, aching in every joint and muscle.


But not this morning.  I feel great!  I have some energy to tackle my tasks for today.  What a great feeling.  Maybe I should just go back to bed now for the rest of the day to take full advantage of my new purchase.  After all I do have several months of sleep to catch up on! So what if it isn't even 9am yet?  I hear the siren call of sleep........

Monday, December 10, 2012

Coke Is It For Those Greasy Food Stains

I used to drink a lot of cola when I was a teenager.  Then I learned what soda does to a person's health and I rarely drink any kind of soda at all....oh, wait, I am a Canadian.  It is not SODA it is POP.

Whatever.........

In case you are unaware of the truly best use of Coca-Cola, allow me to enlighten you.  Coke is the greatest greasy, buttery, oily food stain remover there is for your clothes.  Any clothing item that can be washed in a washing machine can lose those greasy food stains after a 4 to 6 hour soak in a few litres of coke.  Today I soaked 3 different stained shirts, 2 cotton and one polyester, in 2 litres of Coke.  I used a large plastic mixing bowl with a tight sealing lid and left them soaking  together in a big cola sodden heap for 4 hours. Then I poured the whole mess in the washing machine for a full wash cycle, using my regular brand and amount of detergent.  When the cycle ended I washed them again without any detergent added, hung them to dry and voila!  NO MORE GREASY STAINS!

Two of the shirts have been sitting in my closet for a few months after being washed several times previously with no resulting loss of greasy spotting.  The other I stained 2 evenings ago.

I have used all the different types of colas on greasy stains and have found that original Coca-Cola is the best at removing the stains, even the longer term grease spots that have all ready been washed several times.

To everything there is a ...........purpose under the sun! (writer of Ecclesiastes, please forgive me)

God's Provision in the Small Things/A Lesson Learned All Over Again

Wow, I wonder why I need to keep learning the same lessons over and over and over again when it comes to things spiritual?  How quickly I forget what I all ready know.  In this case it is God's ability to provide even in the smallest and most unnecessary ways just to remind me that he is faithful and loving to even me...and that I need to be a faithful and loving friend to others.

This Christmas I wanted to send a lovely scarf to a friend, one that would be a nice colour and an easily washed fabric like cotton to accommodate some special health needs of hers.  I have just such a scarf in my possession all ready. It would be perfect for her.  I took it off my scarf rack, washed it several times in hot water to remove any new dye or chemical smells and headed off for the gift boxes in my closet.  As I went to put it into the box I suddenly had a temptation, a STRONG temptation, to just keep it for myself.  I, who own more dress scarves than should even be legal for one woman to own, was having a struggle to release ONE new, never worn, scarf to a friend who will likely very much enjoy it.  

Why on earth would such a thought even occur to me?? One of my husband's favourite stories about himself is one I posted a few months ago about his own struggle to give up a warm winter scarf, didn't do it and regretted it later, while I happily gave away the only scarf I owned at the time to someone who needed it more than I did, only to have 2 scarves arrive a week later, unexpected Christmas presents from friends.

I love giving gifts more than almost anything else.  Giving things to friends brings me giant joy!  Yet here I was struggling to part with a cotton scarf!!  A SCARF!  Again with the scarf gifting!

So I decided that it must just be an indication that giving it away is exactly the right thing to do, packed it up last Friday afternoon and today am mailing it away to a place far from here. I love this friend with all my heart and she deserves something beautiful.

AND do you know what happened on Saturday evening?  Can you guess?  I will give you 3 guesses and first 2 don't count!

Yup, on Saturday evening I received a Christmas present from our church pianist.  Can you guess what was in the package?  Can you?  I'll bet you can!

It was not only a lovely scarf in a beautiful colour, it was 5 (yes FIVE) lovely scarves in 5 beautiful colours!!  They are all hand made by our pianist and are absolutely gorgeous.

Lesson learned all over again:  I cannot out give God and I can't get away with disobedience on the giving front.  

I cannot refuse to give what he puts in my heart to give to other people.  I learned my own favourite lesson all over again.  God knows that embarrassment will ingrain in me a lesson far more quickly than any other method of teaching. For being grudging about giving away one measly scarf he replaced it with five scarves to ensure my embarrassment will help the lesson to stick this time. 

No, God was not rewarding my obedience to give.  He was giving me a bit of a chastisement for being so tempted to be selfish and chintzy toward a most valued and faithful friend.  I have hung all 5 of my new scarves together on a special hangar in my room.  This constant "visual" of all my riches will be a daily reminder of how quickly a temptation can rear its ugly head and how I must never again attempt to grasp on to something the Lord is asking me to part with for the sake of someone else.

How embarrassing to have to learn that lesson all over again.......at my age!  I am well and truly chastised.........but also amazingly blessed with material riches and with blessed good friends.



 

Trattoria on Scarth

Last Friday evening in Regina we dined at a small trattoria on Scarth Street mall, just south of Cornwall Centre.  We dined alone as the bustling Friday night after work crowds raced past its doors and jammed themselves into Beer Boys pub a few doors down.  I am sure the fare at Beer Boys is great, but I am so happy we chose instead to dine at the trattoria.

The trattoria used to be an East Indian restaurant that was fairly decent and we were sorry when it closed down a couple of years ago.  Interestingly the new Italian trattoria features large Bollywood posters in its windows. Hmmmm.....maybe something unusual going on inside its doors.

The restaurant is run by a Sikh family who lived in Italy for over 15 years and picked up some rather decent Italian cooking skills.  Listening to the server describe some of the menu items in perfect Italian with an overlay of accent from her home country of India was a musical experience, very beautiful.  The servers and the manager were so polite and attentive it was quite a treat.  Perhaps because we were the only customers at the time we received better service than usual, but I suspect that is not the case.

The pastas are home made, as are the delicious breads with soft insides and just the right amount of crusty chewiness on the outside.  My pasta was perfectly al dente, the sauce on my chicken limone was light but with sufficient slices of fresh lemon that I could add a touch more citrusy sourness if I wanted to.  It was a treat to have broccoli and carrots perfectly cooked.   In restaurants I sometimes find it is a guessing game as to which of the two common choices of cooked  vegetables I am about to receive:  tooth breakingly undercooked or mush?

My husband's gnocci was delicious as well, home made, baked slightly in a spicy tomato sauce after a prettily plated tomato and bocconcini salad.  The house white wine, while not the best quality, washed down our meals very nicely.  An introduction to a decent wine importer (and we do know one of those in the area) is all the place needs to improve its menu.

The ethnicity of the proprietors was in evidence despite the authenticity of most of the food.  Buried in my very Italian noodles were little pods of hot red peppers, my husband's gnocci had an under flavour of coriander much stronger than expected. The background music emanating from the kitchen was definitely anchored by sitars and Indian language lyrics.  We paid our bill to the owner who sported his turban proudly and told us of a second trattoria he owns in the city, over on Hamilton Street.

Hopefully the restaurant is far busier at noon hour than it was on this particular Friday evening as the food and service were excellent.  If it suffers from anything at all perhaps that would be a case of terminal cuteness, (unless it is simply that I have been too long removed from decent restaurants with proper service and decor appropriate to the country of the food's origin), but it is a warm and welcoming cuteness that doesn't cross the line into cutesy.

Yes, I would go there again. I would enjoy a visit to the second restaurant as well to see what else is served by this fascinating family.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Duh.....

There is something about attempting to be as unobtrusive as possible in a public setting that is akin to posting a sign on my back telling everyone around me to keep their eyes glued to my klutziness at all times!  This weekend's episcopal election event was no exception. Sigh........

Overall it went pretty well...before the Eucharist celebration.......after the Eucharist celebration.....but during the Eucharist celebration, well, not so much.

Ours was the first row to go forward to receive the bread and the wine.  We thought we were to go directly to the communion railing at the front.  As my husband was marching confidently in that direction he failed to notice the servers of the Eucharist marching just as confidently straight toward him in their attempt to deflect him over to the side railing where we were actually supposed to form a line and partake.  He  ground to a halt and he swerved his upper body to the right to avoid crashing into the server of the wine now on his left.  Oblivious as usual to what was going on immediately around me I didn't realize what had happened. I didn't realize my husband was now standing completely still and so I crashed right into him and nearly knocked both him and the wine bearer over the railing. The gaping expression of shock at my faux pas on the face of the wine bearer and the barely concealed snickers from those still sitting in the pews watching us told me our little accident had not passed unnoticed. Sigh.........

To add insult to injury I committed another faux pas in the few seconds between receiving a communion wafer in my hands and its eventual arrival in my mouth.....HUGE sigh.....

I had a rather large name tag around my neck to identify myself as a delegate to the synod meeting and somehow I got my wafer holding hand caught behind the name tag as I went to raise the wafer to my lips.  BUT of course in the combination of reverence for the holy act and the hope that if I closed my eyes the snickerers would no longer see me, I did just that:  closed my eyes.  And subsequently managed to entangle my own hand, wafer and all, around my name tag.  And subsequently ended up taking a bite out of my name tag instead of the wafer.  GIGANTIC sigh........the snickers turned to loud guffaws and my face took on a tinge of pale puce.  It is very difficult to spit out a mouthful of paper and plastic and replace them with a wafer and get that wafer choked down in time to receive the communion wine while holding up a line of 200 other people and still maintain a sense and look of decorum.

Oh well.......no one remembers but me, right?  

I can only hope.......
 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Over and Done With

We are home from our most recent travels to a couple of the provincial cities.  Parishioners were visited in their hospital rooms and the episcopal election completed with good results.  Our now former Arch Deacon is our new Bishop and I think he will be an excellent choice!  The biggest shocker for one and all is that he was easily elected on the first ballot!  That is a rarity for episcopal elections, but selfishly a welcome one for us as we were able to return home just as the sky was darkening and another night of snowfall was beginning.  The roads were freshly ploughed and sanded on our way to our destinations and very ice free coming home today.  It appears that all the delegates who travelled long distances for the election will have equally great return trips. What a mercy.

My klutzy self provided some good laughs during the Eucharist but I will share those tomorrow.  I am so tired and heading for an early bedtime. Tomorrow is early morning church in the other town and then after what will be, hopefully, a restful afternoon at home, we have to return there for the Advent pot luck dinner.  By Monday we will be too worn out to get out of bed.......although if my new bed is delivered tomorrow I could be convinced to receive it and simply transfer from the old bed to the new one with minimal "feet on the floor" time in between.

I will also try to remember to blog about the delicious Italian meal we ate in Regina at a little Trattoria on Scarth Street just  a couple of blocks from our hotel.....interesting!



Hope you are having a great weekend.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dippy Eggs

This morning I woke up thinking about "dippy eggs".  That is what our son used to call soft boiled eggs and toast.

Dippy eggs were nutritious and comforting in all times of sorrow:  nightmares at 3am, skinned knees, bad treatment at the hands of friends, failed school exams, disappointments of all kinds.

No matter the hurt or the fear, long strips of whole wheat toast dipped into the bright yellow yolk of soft boiled eggs calmed the soul and dried the tears.  A variety of cheery egg cups could be chosen from to suit the particular occasion.

Dippy eggs were also a celebratory food:  being on the honour roll, being invited to THE social gathering of the year, solo'ing in the school band, getting that desperately wanted birthday or Christmas gift, having an unexpected day off school.  There were many happy occasions made even better by the eating of a dippy egg.

All this blogging about food hampers and dippy eggs is making me hungry.  Time for my own breakfast. What should I have?  HEY, how 'bout a dippy egg??

Poverty and Ichiban Noodles

I am very proud of our local chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association for their honesty about what they need our town to bring to stock their Christmas food hampers.  This year they came right out and said that they are hoping for far less ichiban noodle soup packs because they always get overstocked with this less than nutritious food.

I find it so interesting that the minds of the un-poor are completely convinced that people who suffer from poverty to the point of needing community assistance in order to eat will be delighted to discover a plethora of packs of tasteless iciban noodle soup in their hampers.  Apparently they will be equally delighted to find bags of discount pasta and the cheapest available, salt filled, spaghetti sauces. This I know from personal experience from my own days of requiring outside help to feed my family.

Now that I am in a position to donate to groups who help the hungry I want to be generous in my donations and in the quality of my donations.  People who can't feed themselves are all ready living on a full diet of ichiban noodle soup mixes, discount pasta, and the cheapest available, salt filled, spaghetti sauces.  If I am donating canned goods I want to be donating healthier items people on low incomes can not usually afford to buy.  I want to donate money toward vouchers for produce and meat.  

It breaks my heart when I overhear some of the people who donate to food hampers.  The words and attitude seem to indicate that the donors feel that the poor don't deserve the best, they only deserve whatever discount foods can be found so the donor can pat herself on the back and say she helped the poor, but without any sort of consideration of the nutritional value of the donation or about the possibility of sacrificing a bit of extra cash for the cause.

To be fair, the un-poor don't realize the true food needs of the hamper recipients.  How many of us think about it in depth while we choose our donations?  Why would we if we have never experienced a need ourselves for a food hamper?  How many of us take time to think about helping the donnees maintain their personal dignity? How many of us would understand how the lack of proper nutrition effects not only hungry tummies but the ability to sleep, the ability to then attempt to function to the highest level throughout the day, when we are not suffering ourselves?  It is difficult to put ourselves in the shoes of people whose lifestyles are so very different from anything we ourselves have experienced.

Even having "been there, done that" myself in times past, I don't always think first and foremost about people who are still trapped in my old cycle of "working poor" poverty.  What I read this morning about our local CMHA and its requests concerning its Christmas food hampers has my mind back on track about putting the needs of others foremost, particularly at this season of the year, but throughout the coming year as well.

My attention has been jerked back to the reality too many people are now facing.  The honesty of our local CMHA has chastised me heartily and needfully.  Next week there is going to be a shopping spree and a cash donation from our house to the CMHA for their hampers.

As much as I would like to forget a huge portion of my own life, I can't let myself forget because it impacts my assistance to others in the same position.