Saturday, August 31, 2013

Poor Little Kittens...But A Happy Ending!

Sometimes cruel people hurt animals.  We had a serious case of animal cruelty in our town just  yesterday and if the outcome had been as expected it would have broken my heart.

Someone horribly sick in mind and soul decided to throw 3 kittens of about 8 months old out of their truck window while driving at highway speed just north of town.  Highway speed would be at least 100km per hour.  As it happened there was a car coming up behind when the perpetrator tossed out the kittens. The kittens slammed into the windshield of the car following the truck and bounced off onto the road and into the ditches.  Thank God the car driver  had the brains and good conscience to stop, locate all 3 kittens and find help for them.  The kittens each lost a few teeth and have split lips that required stitches, as well as some bumps and bruises, but they are going to be fine.  AND all 3 have been adopted out to good homes all ready.

I hope a huge blessing falls upon the driver of that car for going to all that trouble to help 3 wee animals in distress....the heart of God was in that person yesterday, that is for sure.  I hope huge blessings fall upon the people who adopted the injured kittens and will give them security and love.

AND I am trying to discipline my own self to stop hoping that what goes around comes around to the driver of the truck who threw those cats out the window.  Thankfully there is forgiveness available when God gets hold of him or her.  Thankfully I am not God because my first response is to want to string such folk up tightly from a particular part of the anatomy that is between the bottom of the belly button and the middle of the thighs!!

Yup, if I was God that is what would happen. Yup, good thing I am not God.  God has the compassion for me that I should have for the criminal who injured the me to develop it Lord, even in this situation that upset me so badly. We all do things sometimes that cause great harm to other creatures.  Please get hold of the person who was so cruel to the kittens and help to transform that person with your forgiveness and love.

From the Calgary Herald This Morning

Way to go Licia Corbella!  Thank you for the injection of reality into the religion vs atheism discussion. It's about time. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Maaaaybeeee not Such a High Note After All

My husband had a wonderful day.  Breakfast with his friend lasted two and half hours while they shared all the theological ideas they have been bashing about in their brains for the past month.  He completed some more work in his home office.  He weed whacked all along the back area behind the house and did a marvellous job.  He got a list together of priorities he needs to do tomorrow in the church office and prepared the first part of his Sunday sermon. He checked on the music and musicians for Sunday. He raked up the dozens of apples that fell off the crab apple tree while we were still away and a friend's horses will reap the benefits at their snack times.

Such a glorious and fruitful day (excuse the pun!) and then at dinner tonight the exhaustion and sweating hit, the dry cough began, the little sneezes here and there made an appearance.  Yup, he is coming down with the same respiratory infection I have been struggling with for the past 2 weeks.  NOOOOOO!!!

My prayer is that he will not do the "Macho Men Do Not Get Sick Enough To Go To Doctors For Little Coughs" routine.  My prayer is that after Sunday services he will head over to emergency to see the doctor on call at the hospital.  Even in our little town the pharmacies are open in the afternoons on Sundays and long weekend Mondays.  He can't afford to wait as long as I did to get help because he has a job and people depending on his immediate return to work.  He so rarely is ill, but this is the second bout of illness in four months.  

Since he is so rarely incapacitated by illness, maybe he will be frightened enough to go for help right away this time.

As for myself, it seems possible that the cause of my now daily allergy rashes may be from my daily ingestion of yogurt, so as of tomorrow I will try being yogurt free for 3 weeks and see if it helps.  Maybe if I ever move out of this moldy house my other allergies that started cropping up this spring will subside.  Oooh, I am so tired of health issues continually coming up over this past few months.  TIRED OF IT I SAY!!


Back To Work

My husband's holidays are ending on a high note today.  He is going to be breakfasting with his good friend, my physiotherapist.  The two of them can talk each other's ears off about psychological mechanisms and the interactive working of the Holy Spirit.

I can go back to bed and sleep.

It isn't that I am not interested in our friend's fascinating psychology research or in my husband's knowledgeable theological responses.  I am just not interested at 8am on a morning when I could be sleeping in for the last time before life returns to normal schedule.

I am still not well despite the influx of antibiotics into my system and am realizing just how ill I actually was while we were on "holidays" before I started taking them....coming from a long way back.

This week I have kept up with the laundry and ironing and dishes and some cooking and grocery shopping.  I have done too much.  Yesterday afternoon I crashed and slept away the rest of the day.  Today is also going to have to be a sleep least for the morning. 

Then it is back to work for us both, confirming the musician's and other assistant's duties for Sunday, finishing Sunday's sermon and looking at the schedule for September. So far my husband has a week of study leave followed the next week by the autumn clergy conference for the diocese.  In a rural area like this Sept. really isn't the start of a new term for many of the parishioners. They are still harvesting until closer to October.  Church activities run strongest from October to some time in April, between harvest and the next spring's planting. So for him Sept. is a good time to take a course and go to a conference.  

I am happy that our last week of vacation was scuttled when all is said and done. My husband had a fantastic week at home doing home chores and catching up on some past due hobby computer tinkering.  Maybe we could do the same next year, only without the illness on my part.

Back to real life this afternoon....despite the illness the break has been nice....needed.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

To Protect Yourself When Fighting a Lung Infection......... not have a coughing fit while holding a hot curling iron next to your face......oooowwww........

Wow...One Tawdry Performance By a Pop Singer Certainly Brings Out Our Self-Righteousness

This week I have been amazed at the combination of horror and self-righteousness in response to the gross performance put on by young pop singer Miley Cyrus during a televised music video award programme last weekend.

Days later outraged parents are still appearing on nationally televised talk shows expressing their shock and disgust.  

Well, on the one hand it was shocking in its blatancy and certainly disgusting, I have to agree.  But on the other hand I personally am kind of shocked that other people are so shocked!  Good heavens people, what do you expect is going to happen in a society where sex has pervaded the lyrics of so many of our popular Top 40 songs in recent decades and where those explicit sexual acts are implied and more so in more and more music videos?  We have been surrounded by this crap for years now with apparently little ability or serious interest in swinging the pop cultural tide in a more refined, less sexually explicit direction, so why the freak out now? Live television just seems more graphic in its sexual depictions without the air brushing and dim lighting of music videos.

Dear Miss Miley was simply acting out those lyrics and implied lifestyles in a lower class way than older artists like Madonna, who was not that classy in her sexual acting out to start with. Miss Miley was simply scraping closer to the bottom of a very deep barrel.

Last night I watched an interview with an outraged mom of a couple of younger teenaged girls.  She was livid that her daughters had been subjected to that performance.  She "wants her children to be able to listen to the music they love without having to see such a display".  So, it is okay to listen to sexually explicit song lyrics as long as the kids don't also watch them being depicted on live television?  Help me understand this.  What is wrong with this picture?

We dress our little girls like budding hookers, we let them listen to sexually explicit song lyrics and the accompanying pounding music and yet we are outraged when a beautiful young woman humiliates herself on live tv by dressing like a hooker in full bloom and acting out the same lyrics our kids hear every day?

Sorry, but I am not buying our indignant reactions.  We are just mad because in a sense we have "been caught out" in how we have been ignoring the influences of our kids' generation, hoping they would just all go away and not cause any problems for our own children.  We have been caught with our own pants down around our ankles over the way we have allowed our kids to think and behave and be influenced by a lot of immorality in what they listen to and see on television.  Now that we have been forced to admit we allow our kids a lot of access to pop culture we are embarrassed and responding like we had no idea pop culture has become so depraved, o me o my.

I think it is time we took a good hard look at ourselves as parents and stop taking the lazy way out, throwing up our hands in the face of how our immoral culture is effecting our kids and shrugging as if to say, "O well, what can you do, right?"  There are some things we can do.  I had my own struggles as a parent with the culture surrounding my son when he was growing up.  Helping him understand what was going on in his popular culture of the day, how participating in its worst arenas could hurt him, was very difficult and not always successful. It always is for every generation of parents.  I didn't do everything right, that is for sure, but to this day he realizes he has to consider what is helpful in his present culture and what is morally, emotionally and physically destructive.  

Parenting is one tough job and I don't put down any parents as they try to struggle through the maze of outside influences on their own kids.  However there is no point in maintaining an air of outraged naivety about what is influencing our kids these days.  Few North American parents with a child over the age of 7 can say they aren't aware of what is happening to pop music and music television programming.  Miley Cyrus hasn't done anything new or more immoral than what our kids hear and see every day. She has simply pointed out, like many a performer before her, how far down the Path To Tawdry we are allowing our children and ourselves to go.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dad Got a Break This Week For A Few Hours, YAY!

Had a nice talk on the phone with Dad yesterday.  He has had his body cast trimmed up and so is more comfy wearing it during his waking hours.  I have been feeling so badly for him...trapped inside the apt. and also trapped inside the body cast.  Getting old can really be terrible.

BUT a friend of his and mom's came over in her new car the other day and gave them both a treat.  When Dad heard she was getting a zippy new car he wistfully told her how much he would like a ride in it.  So, when she found out his cast had been trimmed and he can sit up properly while wearing it now, she drove over to see him and mom.  When she got there she announced she had a picnic lunch packed up and she drove them with her over to a big, beautiful park not far from their place.  They sat in the sun and in the shade and in chairs and on picnic benches, ate lunch, visited and had a most wonderful couple of hours. Both my parents were thrilled to participate in such a normalizing event with a good friend.

God bless you are one of God's amazing "earth angels".

Blessed Is This Wife! Her Husband Can Cook!

My husband went into cooking mode when we returned home and I felt so incredibly lousy.  My week has been a reprise of his cooking skills from when I broke my ankle a couple of winters ago.

Favourite meal of the week thus far:  
--tiny new red skinned potatoes boiled in the skins
--fresh garden green beans cooked through but not soft, no herbs nor butter added so the fresh vegetable flavour can stand alone
-- grilled, moist pork chops in a gravy of balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and provencal herbs, featuring fresh prunes.

Now, if he just had time to prepare all the meals when I am NOT I am enjoying this week of illness!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Housekeepers With Terminal Cuteness

Part of the fun we experienced in Vancouver at our hotel was interacting with the housekeeping staff.  They were a great bunch of gals from the Philippines, India and Africa.  When I was feeling really ill, I was greatly cheered just listening to them giggling together out in the hallways as they worked.  Clients at Sunset Inn and Suites Vancouver are left by the entire staff with the feeling that management is doing all the right things to keep the working atmosphere as happy as possible in this sometimes brutal service industry.

The building used to be an apartment building and has been renovated for short and longer term hotel stays.  Thus, with so many suites to have to prepare each day for 4pm new check ins, those of us all ready in residence often had to wait until after 4pm for our daily tidy up.  Some of the guests didn't appreciate that aspect of the stay, but if they really needed service earlier in the day, a quick call to the desk would be sufficient to arrange it.  The housekeepers were very efficient when they did arrive, very conscientious, and smiling all the while. I felt sorry for them that I was always there when they arrived, but they didn't seem concerned about my being ill.

I don't know how tipping officially works in this country when it comes to hotel housekeeping staff.  When I try to find out I get the usual Canadian style answer that tells me little other than that a tip is always appreciated.  So, since I was always in the room when our housekeepers came I was able to give them each their tip on the way out.  hahahaha  It was hilarious after that first day.

The first day I had 2 gals do the bit of work required.  I tipped both of them.  The next day that I required work there were 3 gals.  I tipped each of them.  The next time there were 5 gals falling over each other to do the work of 2.  I tipped them as a chuckle formed in the back of my throat.  The last day, when 7 of them showed up to change 3 garbage cans and replace 2 sets of towels, I very nearly gave in to howling with laughter right out loud.  But, I managed to reduce my hysteria to a twinkle in my eyes as I tipped all 7 of them and they grinned like crazy at me.  They knew I was on to them and I knew they knew and we all ended up laughing as they bowed their way out to the cleaning cart to go and find their next victim....oops, I mean client.

There are mostly non-Canadian guests in the hotel in the summer, guests from all over the USA, Europe and Asia.  The USA and Europe have a long history of tipping hotel staff whereas Canadian guests in the two and three star hotels have just been catching up over the past few years.  I have considered myself a fairly cheap to middle of the road tipper of housekeeping staff, but after this last experience I am wondering if people are not tipping as they should be these days.  Never before have I seen so much excitement generated over my measly daily tip.  

The only other reason I can think of for the sudden rise in numbers of housekeeping staff in my room  is that the ladies enjoyed giggling at me for any number of reasons.  hahaha  I know most of them come from countries that cannot fathom the apparent craziness/stupidity/obesity/immodesty/dreadful eating habits of their North American neighbours.  Whatever the real reason for the growing ranks of staff over the week I was in residence, I really enjoyed meeting them.  I enjoyed their laughter, even if some of it was "secretly" at my own expense. I enjoyed their chatter after a few hours alone while my guys were busy elsewhere for the day.  I enjoyed the complete lack of sulking and frowning and complaining that seems so often to happen (and often not without justification) with hotel service workers.  I am only the guest.  I can sympathize but can do little else as a mere visitor.

Too many Canadian hotel housekeepers seem quite happy to announce their dissatisfaction with their jobs to any guest who will listen to them and even to some of us who don't want to hear it. They could learn a lot about making a difficult job more easy to bear if they spent some time with these immigrant women who have just as difficult, or more difficult, personal lives as their Canadian counterparts and who are often trained in their home countries for professional careers they can't get jobs in here.  They could learn how to work together more cooperatively from this bunch at Sunset Inn and Suites, that is for sure.

These ladies made my otherwise bitterly disappointing stay in Vancouver a lot easier to bear with the attitudes they displayed around the guests.  I don't want to add up what I spent in tips because it turned into a horrendous amount and I don't want to spoil my own fun.   

Yup, housekeepers with terminal cuteness...I enjoyed them immensely.


Passing Lanes on Mountain Highways

As you drive along for hours on a two lane mountain highway, stuck in a long line up of traffic because the lead car driver is new to mountain driving, drives 10 kilometers or more under the speed limit and hits the brakes on every corner of every switchback, is there any more giddy feeling than seeing a sign announcing there is a passing lane coming in 2 kilometers? AND that you are close enough in line to the lead car that you will likely be able to make use of that lane and get past him?  Oh, what a rush!!

We definitely saw it all on our drive home last week.  We got stuck behind so many frightened, inconsiderate and downright rude drivers that finally we just started to laugh to dispel the tension.

It started on the drive around Mara Lake on our way to Sicamous.  It was early in the morning and there were only 2 vehicles on the very windy, winding, narrow, zero passing lanes highway.  There was our vehicle and the woman in the 3/4 ton Dodge truck in front of us....driving 15km under the speed limit the entire time.  Diddle, diddle, diddle, completely oblivious to my husband driving right behind her, straining to get through to her that he needed to get by.  On she diddled past pullouts, large driveways, and a couple of wide shoulder areas that she could have pulled over into to let us by.  She was driving so slowly she wouldn't even have had to touch the brake as we passed her.  My husband has little hair left to pull out but if he had, he would be balder than he is now.  Finally, as we approached town and the speed limit dropped from 90km to 50km, he saw a clear straight stretch of road, hiked his speed to 120km and flew past her just as we hit the 50km zone.  For my husband to do such a thing and risk not only a BIG ticket, but having an accident...well that is as close to road rage as I had ever seen him come (until 45 minutes later...).  The lady in the Dodge apparently has only one speed for driving. She continued to drive at 75km in the 50km zone, just as she had driven 75km in the 90km zone, so once we got past her we could barely stay ahead of her until we reached the next highway and zoomed back up to the speed limit.  Aaaaargh!!

We got past a couple of other pokey drivers as we entered the national park and continued on our way east.  The drive through the park was interesting as well, but we were able to use the passing lanes just fine to pass logging trucks and other slow pokes.  Coming out of Revelstoke we got trapped in a line of traffic that was blocked by a slow moving, large, white work van.  At first we couldn't figure out why no more than one vehicle at most was able to pass the van in the plethora of passing lanes between Revelstoke and Golden.  As we crawled closer to that lead van we understood.  The van was travelling at just under 80km in the 90km zone, slowing occasionally as low as 60km for no apparent reason.  Then when the passing lanes began he would suddenly hit the gas pedal, cruise quickly up to 110km so that hardly anyone else could pass him.  People who do such things in passing lane situations are my husband's pet peeve.  And I do mean he gets PEEVED!!  When our turn finally arrived to attempt to get by him in the passing lane, the van driver pulled his usual stunt and my husband just lost it!  He drove at a speed I can't even mention in order to pass the van, shaking his fist in the mirror as we went by and talking a mile a minute about people who drive badly and cause problems for others.......wisely I kept my mouth closed about his own driving at the moment.  The man driving the van, judging by the equipment he was transporting and the company name and address on the side of the van, is a local to that area. There is no way he could be ignorant of how passing lanes are used there.  I can only assume his speeding up in the passing lanes and then slowing down again to block the traffic was deliberately executed in order to anger other drivers and give himself a big laugh.  When he could rile my mild mannered husband to the point of taking chances then the man certainly succeeded, but he is one day going to cause a fatality accident.

Onward to Golden with no further incident.  Leaving Golden, with all the new highway construction and amazing new twinning of the roads through all that mountain rock, there is only the twistiest, most dangerous few kilometers of the old 2 lane highway left to climb on the way to Field.  We were initially delighted to start that climb with only one vehicle in front of us....a middle aged man, Alberta plates on his mid sized car....a middle aged man from Alberta who, as it turned out, had obviously NEVER driven in the mountains before.  This is when we started laughing.  The poor fellow was so unnerved by the sharp, blind corners and the narrowness of the highway that he seemed paralyzed, particularly when large semis and logging rigs whipped past going the other direction, only inches between his vehicle and theirs.  His top speed was 50km in the 90km zone.  He hit the brakes on EVERY corner, of which there are many, he hit the brakes every time the road began to climb, he hit the brakes when the road took the occasional slight dip downward, he hit the brakes every time there was an oncoming vehicle. It was tempting to pass him by using one of the the two large pullout viewing areas on the right hand side...and we could have done it easily...but my husband had his nerves back under control by then and didn't take that risk.  The way the fellow was twisting his head around to gaze up at the huge mountain looming up alongside us, we could almost hear the conversation:  "Gee ma, look at the size o' that thar hill!!"  hahaha

By the time we got to Golden my dear husband was back in control of himself and got us safely to Field for a biffy break and some lunch. The rest of the drive was not particularly notable, except that he actually let me drive it.  I am blessed by the ability to drive for hours when I am ill.  I can drive for more hours without feeling sleepy when I am ill than when I am healthy, so he got a good long break to rant about the drivers we had been stuck behind for most of the day.  O yes, there were other interesting characters out there on the highway, but these were the standouts.

"You need to blog about all these lousy drivers!!", my husband told me.  And so, to appease him, I have now done so.  It's okay dear.  We are home now.  You can return to being your mild mannered self.  You can stop waving your fist in the rear view mirror as you pass the lousy drivers and wishing your profession made it bad form to curse them out as well.  It's okay.  All better now.  Safely home.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What Was Good About the Vacation

Pretty much everything else!

--an excellent drive for the first week with nicely spaced times of sun and rain
--a chance to connect with my relatives who I have not seen in a long time
--a trip into Northern Alberta where we connected with friends we have not seen in over 30 years
--great accommodation
--greater restaurant meals
--greatest grocery shopping
--having an apt. hotel in Vancouver where we could cook for ourselves and I could be ill for an entire week while "suffering" daily housekeeping service (Sunset Inn and Suites time we are going for a full month!!)
--the Pacific Ocean (I did catch a glimpse of it one afternoon when I tried going out for awhile) 
--Vancouver's Van Dusen Gardens (no artificial manipulation of the plant life cycles just to have a splashy colour display)
--Jasper Park
--well maintained roads with huge improvements throughout the national parks
--the mountain chains
--visiting our son...every day for a week!
--our son's cooking skills....oooh the steaks were perfectly seasoned and grilled, mushrooms and onions sauteed to perfection, new potatoes...yum!
--Japanese food
--Thai food
--Greek food
--Italian food (L'isola Bella Bistro in Winfield BC)
--King sized beds
--flowers and trees and bushes and all things green and pretty
--the most gigantic stag elk I have ever seen in my life in Jasper Park
--many many mountain sheep on the highway at Golden BC
--the understanding sympathy of friends in AB we have to miss visiting this coming week
--coming home to the completion of the new church roofing
--knowing my husband doesn't have to take church services tomorrow even though he is home
--seeing my husband's face light up as soon as the first mountain came into view
--seeing my husband's face light up when the ocean first came into view
--seeing my husband's face light up at his first good culinary experience at a Greek restaurant. (Olympia Restaurant in Hinton AB)
--seeing my husband's face light up when we got to Vancouver despite knowing his activities would be limited to taking care of me and not a lot else
--hearing about our son's university life from earlier this summer
--a very comfy car in which to travel
--grace to share the driving for our 12 hour return drive yesterday

So many good, a pox on you stupid mumps.  You didn't manage to spoil everything after all!! Yippee!!

What Was Bad About the Vacation

With the vacation cut short this will hopefully be a short list and the subsequent post about what was good about our time will be longer!  So, what exactly was bad?

--getting the mumps was bad...very bad
--contacting everyone I had been in social contact with during the initial period of contagion

--missing seeing my parents to keep them from being exposed to my mumps
--my husband missing seeing his step-dad and extended family because of my mumps
--missing surprising friends on Vancouver Island because of my mumps
--sitting in a walk in clinic in Vancouver waiting for tests about my mumps
--sitting for a week inside a hotel room instead of racing madly about with my son because of my mumps
--not sleeping night after night due to pain from my mumps
--losing a full week of holidays to come home early because of my mumps and the secondary infection that took over my lungs
--returning to the prairies from the west coast and the mountains before I had a chance to feel better and enjoy them....because of my mumps

Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?**

It is a beautiful sunny summer Saturday and we are back at home from holidays a full week early!  By yesterday morning I was too ill to continue so we hopped in the car and 12 hours later we were driving into our own garage.  

After a couple of hours sleep overnight I headed off to emergency at the hospital this morning and got some medical assistance for the secondary, post-mumps bacterial infection in my lungs.  I am armed and ready for recovery.  My husband realized today that he now has a week to work on home projects and isn't feeling all that terrible after a crappy vacation looking after his ill wife.  So, it isn't all bad!

The house is a wreck inside with unpacked suitcases in the bedrooms, bits of half eaten health bars and empty, squashed water bottles on the kitchen counter tops, laundry baskets spilling over with dirty clothes, an empty refrigerator, bits of dirt from the garage floor tracked in with our luggage onto the linoleum inside the other words a typical "surprise, we are home early and all disorganized and sick to boot" kind of return home.

If it wasn't the happiest of holidays, at least we survived it and are on the mend, all ready planning when we can next get away and where we will go.

** translation:  how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?  
And no, it has nothing to do with anything in this blog.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Planning for Future Vacations

This year for part of our vacation we did something we have rarely done, but will definitely try to save for in the future.

This year we booked into a suite hotel for an entire week. To have a kitchen in which to make our own meals, a separate bedroom and a good sized living room and dining room, plus a balcony, daily maid service, breakfast provided, incredible staff to help us with our every other words a full sized apt. with housekeeping and so relaxing.  

However we have decided that a week of this is simply a small taste of the vacation good life.  So we are starting a little savings fund for our next vacation that is specifically for our accommodation.  Monthly rates are even better than weekly rates and it is wonderful to have a complete home away from home.   Next time we are going to book into a favourite suite hotel for an entire month, one of the hotels that is smack dab in the middle of a large city shopping and restaurant area but close to outdoor activities for my husband. That merger more or less happened this year on  our too short week in one place and my husband is keen to do this again as soon as possible on his annual holiday time.  

Spending the entire month in such a place would take away the feeling that we have to spend the entire holiday running here and there, cramming everything into an action packed but exhausting seven days or less.  We are getting past the point of wanting to do that.  My husband, of all people, who has arranged almost every holiday around either or both of our family members and their needs and availability, has decided he has to finally arrange a vacation where there are no relatives involved.  At present we live closely enough to our immediate extended family members that we can see them relatively often without having to incorporate them into his vacation time.  I am liking his change of thinking!!

So, my little budget-weary brain is all ready plotting as to how I can manage to save sufficient funds to go away again next summer and have the vacation he is ready to have.  Yippee!!

Why Settle for Bronchitis When Mumps are Available Instead??

I have been seeing a doctor out here on holidays and my test results came in today...I actually have mumps virus!  Bronchitis, bronschmitis....this is a mild case of mumps!  

So, since my son has been with me during the worst days for transmitting this virus to him, I can only hope and pray his mumps vaccine from childhood is still in effect.  I don't know that I was ever vaccinated for mumps back in the old days, but I am grateful that now this should be the end of  it for me.

I have learned a few things about how to interpret swollen neck glands:  if it is only the glands under my chin line that are swollen and that is accompanied by a sore throat, runny nose and congestion then it is likely some kind of respiratory virus.  But when the entire parotid gland is swollen from neck to ear, with a low grade fever but no sore throat or sinus problems, then there is the possibility of mumps virus.  There isn't any medication to treat this but at least I have been doing all the right things....resting, staying warm, using some heat and vaporub to bring down the hardest little swellings to simply enlarged sore spots, drinking a ton of water and generally doing all the things a person would do for most any kind of similar viral infection.  I have a prescription for a cough suppressant if I want to fill it but it is the kind of med that renders me unable to drive.  Since we have cancelled the rest of our vacation and are leaving for home tomorrow I think I will just let it go until we get back.

Aaaahhh....once again my husband's vacation is in shambles, but he is so incredibly laid back about it.  We wanted to visit our son and we have accomplished that, so it is all good.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hmmm...Organic Hair Products Aren't Working For Me, So Now What?

This has been an interesting summer with allergies and now the problems have filtered down to my most favourite organic hair products.  Today I shampooed and conditioned my hair with regular chemical hair products and there is not so much as a rash, water blister nor itch anywhere on my body.

I suppose the mold in our house may be what started this summer of uber reaction to all things organic, or perhaps it started with my originally mild and now raging allergy to the oak tree in our front yard, but now I can't even use my organic shampoos??  REALLY??  Are you kidding me?

I have never before this spring reacted to any plants other than sweet peas and lilacs, purely respiratory allergies to the strong scents.  This spring I started getting rashes when I touched the oak tree or mowed the lawn, then water blisters began and how disappointing is that?  Now I can't even shower and wash my hair without breaking out in water blisters over my entire body, if I used plant based products.

So, until I can get home and get to a doctor in an attempt to discover the root cause of my extreme histamine reactions I will return to chemical soaps and hair products.  

Having to take an antihistamine in order to shower and wash my hair is just too wierd even for me!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Working Through the Bronchitis

I am tired of being ill now.  As my body works its way through the various stages of summer bronchitis I have reached the stage now where I am feeling somewhat sorry for myself.  That is a good sign.  It means that in about 2 to 3 more days I should be well enough to go outside again.....right at the very time our visit with our son ends and we have to head back east toward home.  Waaaaah!!
However, just being somewhere other than at home to be ill and recover, away from the phone and from the regular daily routine and stresses of life, assists in the recovery process.  It is nice to be away on our own, doing our own thing, enjoying making decisions about what to do each day that effect no one but ourselves.  It creates a lot of peace of mind.
In a few days I will be healthy again and ready for the final stage of our trip.  I will be forever grateful to my husband for finding and booking us into this wonderful place to spacious and private....perfect for a holiday sickie to recover in.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Easy Reading with Lots of Humour...About Being Canadian

I am enjoying some easy reading humour while I recover my health.  Since, as of today, I seem to be able to stay awake for more than fifteen minutes at a time, what better thing to do than read something funny!?

My choice for today is a "handbook" for survival in my native land: "How To Be A Canadian: (even if you already are one) *[although I have to say that if the authors wanted to be truly Canadian the title would read 'all ready' to reflect our European heritage rather than the Americanized version, 'already'...but I digress.]  Authors: Will Ferguson and Ian Ferguson.  Published in 2001 by Douglas & McIntyre, Toronto

The humour ranges from the subtle (rarely) to the witty (more often than not) to the downright silly (just enough for a good laugh without feeling like a dupe for reading the book).  The introduction touches on basic national information: Government ("The government of Canada is Bay Street"); Economy ("The main product manufactured in Canada is snow.  Canada also exports.........cellulite [winter only: see Florida]."); Currency (Two toonies = about 50 cents U.S.") and so on.  There is an hilarious section on our National Anthem, showing the difference in lyrics between the English and French versions, resulting in the authors'  decision to change the anthem to the good old "Louie, Louie"!

Thumbing quickly through the rest of the chapters I am expecting a good many laughs over their take on all manner of Canadian customs and values.  Since they apparently ARE Canadians themselves their take on our native land should be pretty hilarious.  

Looking forward now to some more happy giggles as I read on........

The Unexpected Should Be Expected By Now I Suppose

We are still on vacation, warm sunny days, a smattering of rain here and there, a glorious mountain drive through Jasper Alberta to a very nice little Bed and Breakfast, the Dream Catcher Inn at Valemount BC. (great hostess, lovely location surrounded by big trees and amazing breakfasts, close to hikes of all kinds around lakes and beside mountains)

Our son is visiting with us.  He is doing a lot with his dad this week because I have bronchitis and am stuck in our suite, likely for the remainder of our time here.  It shouldn't have been the nasty surprise that it is to end up ill for most of our vacation.  As soon as we head west for the purpose of visiting our son it seems I am ill or injured in some way for most of the visit.  Since 'twas ever thus, I have decided to not fret and just roll with it.  Maybe if he relocates somewhere to the east of where I reside I will be able to visit him in good health and with no accidents befalling me. hahaha  I can't believe it has happened once again...but really should I be surprised? hahaha

Still it is good to have a total rest, even if it is imposed rather than chosen.  There is time for knotted muscles and stomach to relax, time to read and meditate without that nagging sensation in the back of my brain that I should be up doing something more useful.  If I spend some time coughing and feeling fuzzy headed, then there is nothing else that MUST be done that interferes with the healing process.

Son is so happy with the summer of university he completed and he is eager to get going on his thesis for next summer's presentation.  He still has a few days off work to spend with us and is enjoying some rest as well.  Our suite has a well appointed kitchen and we can cook for ourselves, sit around chatting in the living room, look out at the spectacular views, order some take away meals occasionally and just veg or be as active as we like.

I love holidays....sickness and all.  It is so good to be together as a family.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Trees, Trees and More Trees!

Over the past few days of travelling we have moved far away from prairie farmlands.  I guess I have lived on the prairies longer than I realized without that many holidays driving elsewhere. When we go to Vancouver to see our son we usually fly and miss out on much of the scenery.  This year we are wending our way across central Alberta and I am dazzled by all the trees.  There are poplar trees and birch trees and spruce trees and pine trees and fir trees, teeny lakes surrounded by trees, sloughs surrounded by trees, larger lakes surrounded by is glorious.  If I lived in the plush forests of British Columbia I know I would be one of the better known "tree huggers", not necessarily one of the environmental protectionist type tree huggers, but one of the kind that simply loves trees.  I love the thick bark and the spicy smelling, fuzzy needles, the feel of the smooth leaves, the smell of natural cedar and pine....ooh, it is all glorious.  Trees shade us and supply us with oxygen, they pull down the rain.  

I remember our apartment on the prairies when my husband was in seminary.  From our third storey balcony we could see exactly one tree. There were some pretty trees planted in the town, but that one tree in a field across the highway from our apt. was my favourite.  It stood alone, proud and tall and perfectly formed since it had no competition from other trees for sunlight and rain and space.

Aaaah, trees!  The thick planting of trees around our rectory is one of the things I most love about our present place of residence.  I love to open the kitchen blinds in the morning and open up the door to the deck so I can feel the peace and security they inspire in me as my day begins.  In terms of trees I am having a perfect holiday.   

The Best Holiday So Far in a Long Time

The first few days of our holiday have been quite wonderful.  Drive for 2 or 3 hours, stop and visit relatives or friends, spend the night, sleep in, drive for 2 or 3 hours the next day, stop and visit relatives and friends, spend the night, sleep in and on and on it goes.  Talk about relaxing!  We had a time of prayer, about my sleep disorder, with some seminary friends one evening and I have been sleeping about 8 hours every night ever since.....a first in at least 10 years for me.  This morning, if I hadn't had to get up for church, I think I could have slept even longer.  What an amazing feeling not to be tired every moment of every day.  

My husband admitted last night that he is now fully into the whole hotel holiday scenario.  It has taken over 30 years to be able to enjoy the hotel experience, but now he is really having a great time in every hotel we have stayed, good and not so good.  We enjoyed a fabulous Indian meal after church today and now he is napping happily in the middle of a great huge bed. Sometimes life is very good indeed.

More good times to come.  Even in the somewhat wretched hotel we had one night there was a great benefit or 2.  No one was in any of the rooms around us so we had our first good night of sleep.  In the morning we went to the restaurant next door and discovered that hotel guests there get coupons for five dollars per person off breakfast.  Both of us ate a grand breakfast and paid a total of four dollars and fifty-nine cents for it.  Always a silver lining or two.  The AC fans in all our rooms are just loud enough to block out other noises.  We have had great weather and are even enjoying a bit of rain today as we laze around until it is time to see the next friend.

Church this morning was edifying and fun.  The rector used to be Mormon, we used to be Pentecostal Baptists and we had fun sharing about becoming Anglicans.

So far this holiday has been quite wonderful and we hope the next little while will be as great.  Finally....a REAL holiday with few obligations to see anyone or do anything in particular.   

Monday, August 5, 2013

Dad's New Body Cast

My father is experiencing one of the wonders of modern medicinal treatment these days.  He is now sporting a new polypropylene body cast during the daytime hours.

A couple of weeks ago he received a call from the doctor at the cast clinic and away he went to be fitted for an upper body cast.  The procedure was interesting.  Apparently he was hung from the ceiling somehow on a large hook that made him look and feel like a meat carcass in the butcher's freezer!  While he was hanging there two technicians created a plaster mould of his body from which to create the cast.

The other day he returned for a fitting and with a few scrapings and peelings of the cast it was ready for him to wear.

I have not yet seen it but mom says it is quite a contraption to have to put on him each morning.  It weighs 4 pounds and his tiny body is finding it very heavy to wear.  In two weeks he returns to have it adjusted as he discovers various pressure points on his body.  He says he will need a bit trimmed off the bottom as he can't really sit down when he is wearing it.  I am  wondering if that is somewhat deliberate in order to keep him laying down during the day for optimum straightening of his spine.

The point of the cast is to try to straighten him up.  Spinal fractures, some of which have healed improperly and some not at all, have pushed his back over to one side and he is listing like a sinking ship.  This cast is the last resort to try to help his condition and if it doesn't help, well, poor dad is in for a very rough time for the rest of his life.

But that man's weak heart continues to beat.  His stubborn spirit of survival continues to direct his paths.  It is really amazing to watch him going on and on and on like the Energizer Bunny.  I just hope and pray that his body and mind know when to give up the fight and that it can happen before he is once again engulfed in unending pain every day due to the deterioration of his spine and hips.  Old age is so horrible for so many people and I am sorry Dad is going through all these painful struggles.

For now, we assume the cast will bring some kind of help to him.

To Clean or Not To Clean....That is the Question.....

The annual holiday/house cleaning dilemma has reared its ugly head once again.  Such a simple thing, cleaning house; such a big decision when preparing for vacations.

If I don't clean before I go away, then on top of all the unpacking and laundry that accompany a return from vacation I also have to immediately clean the entire house when I should be relaxing for a few days first and relishing memories of the trip just taken.

If I do clean before I go away, then when I return there is the disappointment of seeing the thick dust from the surrounding fields settled all over the furniture and carpets and knowing that I had no chance to enjoy the cleanliness before it all has to be done again anyway. But the house IS due for a cleaning

This year I decided to compromise.  I began vacuuming today with the idea that this year's pre-vacation clean will simply be, as my mother used to say, "a lick and a promise".  Eeeww, I do not like that expression.  It makes my stomach turn over the same way the words, "succulent" and "belly" do.  The implications of that little phrase are really disgusting.  However, "a lick and a promise" is exactly what this house is going to get before I leave.

I have vacuumed all the carpets and floors but without moving much of the furniture and not bothering to use the baseboard attachment.  This afternoon I will dust using only the Swiffer disposable and whatever that doesn't pick up will just stay where it is until I get back.  Tomorrow morning the bathrooms will get their usual good cleaning but I doubt I will bother to wash the floors in the kitchen and entryways.  They will have mess dragged over them as we pack and unpack anyway, so there isn't much point in doing them ahead of time.

So now I have peace about what I am doing.  I can leave things to the point where they can be done a few days after I get home, but without a lot of pressure to plunge in up to the elbows to get rid of too much accumulated dirt.  

I can go on vacation with a clear conscience!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

The last services before holidays are completed, we have had lunch, a quick stop for some last minute trip related needs and we have both had a nap.  It is sunny and warm with rain predicted for tomorrow that will save us watering time on the lawn.  One of the church wardens is going to work on the weeds and such while we are away and see if he can get a better idea of where we need to tear up the front lawn and put some top soil down for next spring.  He has pruned the hedge and some of the bottom branches of spreading trees we had no time to worry about during the busy spring season.  We will be forever grateful for his help this year as this is my second summer of being physically limited in what I can accomplish doing outside work.  Tomorrow the roofers will come to finish the church roofing project that began last summer.  The rest of the money has come in for it, unsolicited, so what a great completion to a much needed job.  We have other priests and lay people set up to do the services at both churches while we are away so no stresses there with last minute frantic calls trying to cover everything.  The way everything has come together for this holiday is such a change after our frantic attempts to plan for the past 2 summers, not knowing until the last minute if anything was going to come together properly.  Don't know if all will go as smoothly on the trip as presently planned out, but at least we are starting from a point of relaxation this time.  Whew!!  That feels GOOD!!

Friday, August 2, 2013

5 Days and Counting.....

Yup, only 5 days until holidays truly begin.  There are so many things we need to stay home and do for the rest of this month, but of course we are not staying to do them.  We should be home a few days before my husband has to return to work and we can do a few things around the house then......maybe.....heehee

We spent about 4 hours today researching and booking hotels for our 4300km journey....north and west and south and east.....lots of ground to cover, friends and relatives to see.  It is very exciting to be having a "proper" vacation. (aka NO CAMPING and very few DISCOUNT HOTELS!!!)  We will see mountains and rivers and cities and towns and valleys and oceans and shopping centres and excellent restaurants and trees and flowers and art galleries and museums and everything else the western provinces have to offer.  Now my poor husband has to make up the time tonight to get his work done, but he doesn't seem to mind for some reason. haha

The best part is being able to see our son for an entire week!  He just completed his term at university and is cleaning out his dorm room today, packing up his belongings to be shipped home before he spends another week in New York City with friends decompressing from the crazy summer of classes and critiques.  His programme is ranked third after Yale and Columbia universities and it is definitely the best one for him as it is over the top creative.  See son, isn't it good that you didn't go to Yale after all?

We are covering a lot of ground in a relatively short time and it is going to FUN FUN FUN!!!  This is our first extensive holiday in quite a few years.  We would like to do a similar trip in Central Canada sometime and another one in the Maritimes as we have not been there in decades.

Blog postings and emails will likely be rather sparse for most of this month.  I am looking forward to not having my butt tied to a computer for awhile.  It gets to a point some days where you start feeling obligated to "report in" to family and friends, when really it is nice to have some privacy occasionally.  I am finding that blogging is starting to take the place of phone contact and I don't want to fall into that trap.  Mass info should not be taking the place of personal communication even with far away friends.  So this vacation will definitely assist me with making that change.

Time for the annual holiday.......YIPPEE!!!!!  Praying for safe travel, good health and for the ability to relax so we can truly enjoy our times with family and friends.

Spiritual Aids

When I was in Moose Jaw last week I received two lovely little additions to my spiritual practice.  I have enjoyed them all ready.

Deacon Arleen gave me a lovely set of wooden prayer beads for times of contemplative prayer.  They are purple and tan with a small cross on the end of the loop, a bit like a rosary. She makes them herself, teaches workshops on making them and includes a lovely book of prayers to say using the beads.  Anglican prayer beads are shaped consistently with the Anglican devotion of Offices of the Morning and Evening Prayer.  There are 33 beads in the loop to represent the number of Jesus' years on earth.  The beads are grounded in Incarnational theology.  The symbolism points to the Celtic idea of the sanctity of God's entire creation.  The size of the beads determines if they are invitatory, cruciform or weeks beads.  There are so many prayers in the booklet: the Lord's prayer, morning and evening prayers, prayers of oblation, the Trisagion, Agnus Dei, prayers of praise, baptismal meditations, prayers of Julian of Norwich, Celtic prayers, bedtime prayers, ACTS prayers (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication), seasonal prayers, St. Patrick's Breastplate, the Hear O Israel....and on and on.  I am so enjoying using it to centre my prayer life after a time of scattering and confusion.

My friend Chris gave me the most amazing holding cross made out of very old oak taken from the church my husband helped to renovate a few years ago.  He makes them in different sizes and plays with the shape of the crosses so that they fit perfectly into the palm of a person's hand.  Mine can lay in the palm tightly gripped on all sides by my fingers, or I can lay it flat against my palm and drape my index and middle fingers over the top of the cross bar to keep it securely in my hand.  When I have trouble sleeping at night now I hold my little wooden cross and go right back to sleep.  It is a visual reminder of my invisible Father God.  When I don't feel well I can hold it and stay relaxed. When I have aches and pains I can squeeze my holding cross and remember there is more to life than this present earthly existence.

I am so grateful to Deacon Arleen and to Chris for sharing their creative talents with me and for allowing me to participate with them in times of contemplative prayer and when I need a visual reminder of my security in Jesus. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Favourite Quote

A friend reminded me tonight of a favourite quote of mine.  He sent my husband some photos of their canoe trip of last week and titled his photo diary with the quote:

"A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered."
--C. S. Lewis

A Very Relaxing Week

My extra week away ahead of our summer holidays was very relaxing.  A few plans for side trips to the city etc. were cancelled so that the sheer joy of relaxing could be experienced.

Saw many many movies from the comfort of my friend's big puffy couch:

Hyde-Park-on-Hudson:  not enthralled by that particular aspect of President Roosevelt's life, but Bill Murray was delightfully subdued as the former president.

Red's 2:  happily predictable, silly fun.  Some witty lines in the script and all the actors show their comedic abilities.  I will go to see anything Helen Mirren is in.

Anna Karenina:  the new version is wierd and quirky and a great deal of fun even if it meant cutting the story line to the bone.  Had no idea what to expect before watching it and was delightfully surprised.  

Identity Thief:  language warning.  Very silly and funny and ridiculous and I so enjoy  Melissa McCarthy in just about anything. Jason Bateman is the perfect foil for her crazy character.

Parental Guidance: cute but kind of forgettable.

Silver Linings Playbook:  wasn't expecting much so it was quite a nice surprise.  At the beginning of the movie the portrayal of the recovering mentally ill character was quite accurate, although that degenerated toward the end when he turned out to be the most suddenly sane character at the biggest moment of crisis.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: charming and just perfect for people in my age group.  How could it lose with that cast? 

Les Miserables:  I must be the last person on the earth to have seen this movie. Sigh.......I am sorry but, while I could never not enjoy Les Mis, the singing was so dreadful it was tempting to stop watching it before it was over.  The richness of the final notes of each line of music was completely lost on nearly every song by untrained voices whose owners ran out of breath long before the end of each phrase.  Fortunately I had low expectations and those were met, but they are what kept me from turning it off part way through.  The acting was certainly better than "meh" and it was far better than the singing fer shur!  Russell Crowe was a pretty decent Javert and he tried valiantly with the singing but Hugh Jackman was rather nasal in his delivery. At least all the actors were able to belt out the basic melodies, unlike poor dear Peirce Brosnan in Mama Mia.  Glad I saw it but won't bother seeing it twice.

Had a special treat last night.  Found out part way through the day that my favourite gospel/bluegrass group from Missouri was doing a concert at a local church.  Had a great foot stomping, singalong, hand clapping time with Link  Union.

So far this is one great summer of fun.....with holidays yet to come!!!