Thursday, October 31, 2013

Crappy....Um....I Mean Happy Hallowe'en

My least favourite celebration each year is once again upon me:  Hallowe'en.

I resent being held hostage financially, time-wise and socially to a bunch of sugar addicted kids who will egg my house and break the windows on my church next door if I don't stay with the programme and hand out all manner of expensive, tooth rotting sugary garbage foods while stuck all evening sitting by my own front door. I tried to opt out last year and eggs and shattered glass are what it earned me.

It isn't the kids' faults.  It is the crazy parents, candy retailers and advertisers who put them up to this kind of entitlement each Oct. 31; and admittedly there is nothing cuter than a 3 year old blonde, curly haired, bottle bottomed glasses wearing Cinderella Princess pounding on my door with her teeny fists and squeaking out a confused but proud "Trick or treat....?"  Downright adorable is what such wee ones are.

However, I truly detest this night.  Yes, yes, I know I could just shut off the lights and sit here in the dark hoping to go undetected except as one of the local party poopers who doesn't want to cough up the twenty dollars plus to create more prepubescent dental patients for our town, but as a minister's wife I can't really afford to be seen as any kind of Hallowe'en Scrooge in a town this tiny.  I just resent having to spend money on such nonsense and under fear of retaliation if I don't "play nice".

I am hoping that the boxes of raisins I am giving out will be news spread far and wide by the 5 kids who showed up at my door at 3:45pm!!!  THREE FOURTY-FIVE!  I know this is the province where the Hallowe'en decorations will come down tomorrow morning and by 6pm tomorrow evening will be replaced with Christmas decorations, but come on....3:45pm all ready???  I barely had the raisin boxes out of the cupboard....I thought I had time to get downtown to the mail before this silliness began for another Oct. 31st.  Nope...not a chance. (It is now 4:15pm and I have had 9 kids all ready.  Hopefully it means they will be back at home before dark enjoying their sickeningly sweet bounty from the safety of their own bedrooms.)

Yeah, that's right kiddies...there ya' go....a big box of healthy, unsugared raisins to get your Hallowe'en night adrenalin pumping!  And if I run out of raisins you will then get unsweetened fruit bars instead.  Natural fruit is as sweet as it gets around here.  

Crazy parents, candy retailers and with it!!  Next year I am going to be out of town on Oct. 31!  Egg away....I won't care...just don't shatter any glass and it is all good.

Looks Like It Could Be My Meds

I made an executive decision this week to stop taking my osteoporosis meds for 2 or 3 weeks and see if that would effect any of the swollen lymph nodes and skin rashes that are part of what ails me these days.

Once the summer gland infection/mumps finally ended I began noticing a weekly pattern with the itch and swellings. I take my meds once a week on Mondays and I noticed that every week for a month my problems started to dissipate sometime on the following Saturdays, only to recur with a vengeance every week sometime between Tuesday nights and Wednesday mornings.  

Every 3 weeks since August I have been removing various items from my diet in my attempts to discover causes and bring relief; dairy, wheat, other grains, carbs, sugars, etc. Stopping intake didn't help and reintroducing them didn't make anything worse. I have changed personal hygiene and house cleaning products and all to no avail....UNTIL this Wednesday when finally something may have clicked.

I skipped my osteo meds on Monday and then deliberately worked physically very hard on Wednesday all day so that I could work up a sweat and create stresses to see what would happen to the rashes. Usually I am ready to tear my skin off by Wednesday afternoon, physical work or not.  But this Wednesday no matter what I did, the rash that comes and goes barely appeared.  It was there but only at about 1/3 the amount that I usually experience.  The ulcerated rash on my legs barely itched at all for the entire day.  Now it is another day later in the week and the redness is greatly reduced. Assuming this trend continues for the rest of the week, I will skip a second osteo med next Monday and see if I continue to heal.  If so, I will contact my bone specialist and tell him what is going on and see if he can put me on a different medication.

If it is the medication then I should have been off it 3 months ago all ready. Wonder what else I have damaged by taking it for so long after these symptoms started back in June? was all complicated by the summer mumps and I didn't catch on to the meds possibility early enough.

My doctor's appointment locally is on November 12 and I will see what else my blood work has turned up that could be part of this problem.  I need to get my specialist communicating now with my new local doctor.  I am grateful to have both of them working for my improved health. Sometimes reasons for problems are difficult to discover and difficult to solve (and not just medical problems!!).  Even getting off meds I may be allergic to will not solve everything right away as my other allergies that have been dormant for years have been growing bad again during this confusing time.

I am looking forward to feeling a lot better soon!

Cute Statements That Are Said Only Partly Jokingly

1. When people suck the life out of you, wouldn't it be nice if they could take some of the fat too?

2. I'd like mornings better if they happened in the afternoon.

3. I don't care what you think of me!  (unless you think I'm awesome - in which case carry on.....)

4. There are two kinds of people in the world.....and I don't like them! 

These are sayings that stand on their own, apart from the cute animal photos that generally accompany them on email forwards!  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Short Course on How to Read the Old Testament

Briercrest Seminary's Dr. Eric Ortland has posted a great blog on how to get started reading the Old Testament, yes, even the boring parts!  Link is below:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Personally I Think The Pharisee Got a Bad Rap

I suspect we readers of biblical scriptures have been guilty in some instances of giving a particular Pharisee in one of Jesus' parables a bad rap and created a couple of caricatures from him and his prayer partner in Luke Chapter 18, verses 10 through 14: the spiritual villain vs the spiritual hero.  Sometimes I think we miss the whole point of the parable in all its "radicalness".

"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer.  The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, 'God, I thank Thee that I am not like the other people, swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all that I get.'

But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for one who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted."  (NAS version)

Often we paint these two men with the wrong colours it seems.  We vilify the righteously living Pharisee and turn the offensively living tax gatherer into a hero.  Let's think about that though.

The Pharisee was not bragging about his ability to follow the Mosaic law as much as he was simply following common rabbinical practise of beginning his prayer with a recitation of all the laws he was obeying.  That wasn't unusual.  His declaration of relief that he was not like the other less devout people around him was not such a bad thing in terms of it continuing to point out the correctness of his way of life and of his devotion to God.  

On the other hand it isn't right to overly spiritualize the tax-gatherer.  He lived a life entirely offensive to his Jewish brethren.  He collected taxes in whatever way was necessary from his own people and turned that money over to the very government that was oppressing them.  He did not live a righteous life like the Pharisee did.  The man was no hero.

To me, what is radical about the parable is that Jesus so quickly makes the point, in so few sentences, that God is willing and able to justify whoever he chooses; whoever recognizes that they are in  need of God's mercy and forgiveness, whether or not they are living according to the spiritual practises and laws the rest of the community of God's people obey.

The Pharisee was not wrong in talking to God about how he had been able to keep the Mosaic Law; the difference between his prayer and that of the tax gatherer is that the Pharisee missed the point that even though he was living righteously it was still only God's grace and mercy that justified him.  The tax gatherer was very aware of that. In this parable he doesn't attempt to justify his own vile behaviour but throws himself on the mercy of God.

I think that where we Christians too often get confused is when we assume it is our own efforts to obey God, our own efforts to run churches, our own efforts to pray whatever we deem to be "correct" sorts of prayers or worship in "correct" ways as defined by ourselves or our own particular church denominations, the way we feed the hungry or heal the wounds of the hurting people around us.  When we start proudly telling the Lord, "Hey God, look what we did!" and forget that we only did it because of his gracious leading and supplying of ability and strength, that is when we start to lose sight of what our whole Christian walk is all about. Our Christian walk is not "us (the people who were 'smart' enough to choose to follow Jesus)" vs "them (the people who don't meet our particular spiritual or social standards of behaviour)"  At that point we are like the Pharisee in that God may choose to humble us. (note that the Pharisee was setting himself up to be humbled by God, not damned)

Lots of Christians are behaving like the Pharisee in the parable. They truly are living righteous lives and more of us tax gatherer types could learn good things from them.  However the Christian Pharisaical types sometimes forget that before God we are all equally guilty of spiritual imperfection no matter how righteously we live our earthly lives. We still need God's own justification.

The tax-gatherer types of Christians can also learn something, and that is when we are justified by the grace of God his grace is also available to help us transform the rest of our lives and behaviour.

To me, in this parable, there are no heroes nor villains, just those who recognize their intense need of God's grace to be justified and those who have simply forgotten from whence their ability to live righteously comes.

Monday, October 28, 2013

One of Those Calm, Contented Sort of Days

What a lovely day off my husband and I had today!  We slept in, BOTH of us, until just before 9am.  There is nothing like a good sleep to make the world seem like a happy place.

We both spent the day catching up on household chores that seem to pile up sometimes for many weeks. Each little job took only a few minutes to do so we accomplished a lot today.  It felt good!  Light bulbs were changed, piles of food containers sorted with some donated to the church kitchen, some extra kitchen cleaning, banking, groceries purchased, piles of old mail and flyers read and sorted and mostly thrown away, appointments made for car repairs and winter tire installation, a plan prepared to deal with the compost outside so it doesn't attract rats over the winter, a build up of emails answered, garbage sorted and set out for pickup, camping gear from the summer finally sorted and put away was a grand, calm, "work around the house together like normal married couples" kind of day.  Hoping for more of the same tomorrow morning before the work outside the home begins for another week. Hopefully in two more days I will start a room to room purging and cleaning project so that the winter will seem less overwhelming...rooms full of unnecessary "stuff" to look at inside the house coupled with a ton of snow and ice to look at outside the house is more than I want to bear this coming winter.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Beautiful Giftie Pour Moi!

I awakened a few minutes ago from a marvellous and refreshing nap!  The chill and cloudy skies today make me feel like hibernating.  There is a dusting of snow flakes on top of the bird bath, the water completely frozen as we forgot to plug in the heat tape last night.  The onset of winter makes me groggy after busy mornings.

The sermon seemed to go well and our deacon did just an excellent job with the service today.  I am not a long winded sort so the service was over really early and the congregation sat around visiting over coffee and butter tarts for over an hour afterward.  It was a lot of fun to have time to visit everyone.

I received a fantastic surprise after church....the gift of a black, belted, jacket length London Fog raincoat from our deacon's wife.  She found it at a garage sale, brand new, never worn and since it didn't fit her she brought it to me as my early Christmas present.  How incredibly kind!!  I am delighted.  The style and cut are so different from the usual raincoat so that makes it possible to wear it as an indoor jacket with a couple of winter outfits I have so I won't need to wait until next spring to use it outdoors. What a blessing!

So now I am plotting about what to surprise her with closer to Christmas.  She is from Africa, tall, dark, of those "no need for makeup" younger gals who looks better than I ever did even when I was younger than she is.  This will take some thought and planning...I want the gift to be just perfect. The rest of her family is easy to buy for. Since our transitional deacon does not receive any sort of stipend for his work in the church, it is all volunteer, we like to do something nice for for him and his family on occasion.  Oooh, this is what I love about Christmas now that we no longer shop for any family members or each other....there is our deacon's family and a couple of faithful volunteer musicians that we can enjoy thanking for all that they do for our churches.  I need a little bit of Christmas shopping to do.  It is SO much fun!!

Back At Home For What Seems Like 5 Minutes!

We had a lovely drive home yesterday in warm sunshine and a bit of warm wind.  It was an uneventful trip except for when I nearly hit 2 deer fifteen minutes into the drive.  Sigh.....

My husband and I were having an intense discussion and instead of allowing my eyes to continue their usual scan of the ditches as we entered a gorgeous ravine, tree filled and the perfect spot for deer to be crossing the road in the early morning before the traffic gets too heavy, I was turning my head to look at him in the passenger seat beside me.  All of a sudden he yelled, "Dear, dear...." and I responded, "What honey?"  He leaned forward waving his fingers out the window and suddenly looked panicked.  Then I realized he was actually yelling, "DEER DEER!!!"  I slammed on the brakes just as one of the two beautiful antlered animals lithely leapt out of the ditch where he had been hidden in a clump of bushes and walked into the middle of the highway in front of me. Thanking God for our car's good brakes, I attempted to stand on the brake pedal as the car tires squealed and we fishtailed to a stop just in time to miss that deer and the second deer that appeared right behind him.  The smell of burning rubber didn't seem to scare either of them as they ambled the rest of the way across the road, oblivious to how close we had all come to a collision.  It took me a half hour to stop shaking, not only from understanding what could have happened if I hadn't been able to stop, but also from shame that I hadn't been paying close enough attention to my surroundings when driving.  Keeping an eye out for deer, moose, coyotes and other wildlife, particularly at that time of the morning, is something I pride myself on and wow, did I blow it yesterday!  Lesson learned!

The fear did stimulate my appetite though so we stopped once again at our favourite Indian restaurant for brunch less than an hour from home.  We figured there was no point in continuing on with empty stomachs as there were no groceries in the house to whip up a quick meal, by the time we stopped for groceries we would be crabby with know....any excuse for good Indian food any time of the day.

A good meal got us over the shock and we continued homeward.  Of course my husband hit the ground running with pastoral calls and preparation for today's services.  I got the church bulletins written up and printed, a final draft done of my sermon (maybe it is a good thing I feel so tired today....too tired to be nervous or stressed about giving it) and then watched a couple of inane television programmes before a good night's sleep.  Hmmm....maybe I don't feel tired as  much as I feel sort of lacklustre.  Isn't that a great word?  Lacklustre!  Yes, that is exactly how I feel today.

So I am off to pray with my husband before he leaves for his first trip to do services in the far south as well as for one of our own churches...his first winter trip this new winter season on the frozen rain and in the blowing snow.  Of course we don't have the studded tires on yet although the present tires are winter grips.  O dear Lord please keep him safe today out there. Fortunately one of the small river ferries is still open pre-freeze up, so he can cut seventy kilometres out of his round trip going that route instead of via the main highway.  Good news indeed!

And so it is winter once again.  I am so grateful we had our week away first.  It will take me longer to feel trapped this winter season.  My husband is bubbling over with enthusiasm after his conference in Winnipeg, I feel refreshed after seeing most of my best Moose Jaw buddies.  I am starting to see a clearer correlation between my present health issues and a possible allergic reaction to a medication I am taking....hope of an answer now seems closer.

It is all good....except for the bad roads of winter...the price we pay for living on the prairies.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Day To Myself

As my husband predicted, a lot of plans for my week changed at the last minute yesterday and I find myself completely on my own today.  Visits yesterday were shaken AND stirred, but it all worked out pretty well.

This morning I completed my sermon notes and this afternoon I will organize them into some semblance of order then do a draft tonight.  In the morning I hope to do the final draft so I can be really familiar with the presentation by Sunday morning.  I doubt any of this blithering is all that interesting to read about but with no husband here to talk to, this blog is helping me keep my thoughts organized. Left on my own for too many days my thoughts start to scatter hither and yon.

In other news:  my son is finally over his bout of illness and rejoicing in the autumn colours in Vancouver.  There are many Japanese maple trees around his home and the red of the leaves is stunning. Last year at this time we were there with him, scuffing our shoes through those leaves and rejoicing in the lack of snow. I remember driving into an ice storm on our way back to the prairies, my  husband spending over 4 hours crawling our car along on glare ice through mountainous terrain to get us into Calgary, then spending a harrowing 6 hours the next day driving what should have been our usual 4 hour trip back home. 

And now the winter season is upon us once again.  In 2 days time we will be on our way home and in 3 days time we are to have our first snowfall.  Of course it is the day my husband has a long drive away to do a special service in a location several hours from home.....hence the need for me to preach at our local service that morning.  I am so grateful that a good friend is going with my husband so he will not be alone driving down the highway in the snow.

I admit I am completely freaked out about facing winter again. The memories of the problems of last winter are still too fresh in my mind.  I will TRY not to blither on this year about the snow and ice and fear and freakout....but I can't promise.  The darkly overcast sky where I am today is an unnecessary reminder to me of the coming snow.

My husband's plans for doing a bit of shopping at a tiny tea store here before we leave will not be able to happen.  I went past the outlet yesterday to discover it is closed, the space once again for lease.  I don't think that business survived even 2 years for whatever reason.  So many new businesses here in the downtown core, all started in the past 5 years, have not survived. 

I have been so encouraged since I arrived here that just maybe the source of all this pain and rash has been the result of outside irritants like household molds or residual animal dander and body oils in the rectory carpeting, BUT yesterday the rash appeared again, for the first time in 4 days.  A mild itch in the ongoing rash began shortly after lunch and really amped up just before dinner in the evening.  I woke up at 4am with itchiness and couldn't go back to sleep for a couple of hours.  After my wonderfully warm shower this morning the body rash that comes and goes blossomed like it hasn't done in over a month.  Thank goodness that particular rash doesn't itch or I would have finished losing my mind months ago. SO, what did I ingest yesterday that kicked this off so badly once again?  Dairy and grains were reintroduced to my diet about a week ago.  So I will cut them out again immediately.  I think there has been too much fat ingested through the dairy products in my attempt to control my osteoporosis more with diet than with too many extra calcium (etc.) supplements.  If that is the case no wonder my liver seems to be rebelling....or whatever organ is rebelling.  Yesterday I ate some of everything I have been steering clear of for the past 3 weeks and wow, what more evidence do I need that the return to protein and veggies for my meals is a great idea to get back on track?  I am pleased to be possibly zeroing in on some of the culprits but struggling a bit with discouragement as I face the wretched rashes today.  Test results should be coming in today or tomorrow so I am torn between hoping something shows up and that nothing does.  Isn't that always the way with medical issues, eh?

Well, onward and upward....a bit of grocery shopping to do for a break in the sermon writing today.  Away I go.  Maybe it is a good thing it is too cold now to go without a coat.  The rash that hasn't faded yet, post shower, will not be exposed to prying (Eeeeww, what is wrong with that woman?) eyes and worried (Does she have the plague???) countenances.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Coming Together

Since my sermon is going to be about the community of God's people it seems appropriate that my week is now truly coming together with some of its members.  Lunch today with an amazing deacon in my former church community here in this place, afternoon coffee with a sweet couple that I daily pray will one day be a part of God's community and dinner with dear friends who have on a couple of occasions helped ensure that I retained my love of that community when it would have been easy to throw up my hands and walk away from circumstances and people who were hard to bear.  It is all good.

I slept in this morning....a rare occasion and a welcome one.  Hearing from my husband last night that he is safely in Winnipeg and from my son that his bad 'flu seems to be coming to an end gave me added peace of mind for a deep time of rest.  The direction for the sermon became clear last night as I was studying and since I have no plans for tomorrow I can stay at the hotel and get it more or less completed.  So grateful I am able to use our laptop this week.  Not looking forward though to dragging the giant bag of textbooks and reference materials home, that bag is heavy to carry! I need a lot of assistance even for a short message.

Before I arrived here I was wondering if the money I am spending on this hotel room would be worth it or if it was just an extravagance, but as the days go by I am very happy I left home and came here.  As well as having the great visits and the quiet time to study that I need, it is good to have some days away before the snow arrives to stay.  Freezing drizzle here last night, that is now melted thank goodness, reinforced how bushed at home we are going to be once we are snowbound again.  The 3 major storms we were caught in last winter, miles from home, forced to shovel our way down the highway at one point to get to a town where we could stop out of the blowing drifts of snow and ice, convinced us that we are not going to put ourselves in that position this winter season.  SKYPE will be our friend.

So, off to enjoy another day.  With no plans at all tomorrow I will be free to not only finish my work but to choose where I would like to go for a couple of meals....I have 2 places in mind that my friends never want to go to for their own good reasons, but that I would like to try out.  Those will be my fun breaks for the day.  The next day I have a happy day planned with a choir friend and my husband will return that night.  The week seems to be going by pretty quickly.  Best get a move on and enjoy the rest of my day.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

So Here I Sit...... the motel, waiting for a phone call from a friend about going for lunch.  It has been a good morning but somewhat odd.  Had a great sleep after a very fun evening visiting with Friend Patty, but can't seem to focus this morning.  My husband left for Winnipeg just after breakfast and hopefully will have a good drive with his colleagues and an informative conference there.

I ate a bit of breakfast, foods I brought from home that are "liver-safe", tidied myself up, then alternately dozed and watched news on tv, finished reading a novel that started out so well and slowly degenerated into ridiculousness, then I spent some time looking over the readings and some commentary notes for my Sunday sermon.  

My husband told me just before he left that he had a feeling my week here isn't going to go quite as I am expecting and he is probably right about that.  It has all ready started off differently than planned with the lack of availability of a friend I had all ready made plans with, but the main concern for me is that what I thought I was going to be preaching about this coming Sunday looks like it is going to have to change after going over the readings a few more times.  So much for feeling like I am in control of this sermon....I think I will be doing more studying and writing than visiting after all.  

Hmmm....not in control of the content of my own sermon...hmmm....could it be God wants to take over that position himself??  Hmmmm.....yes, it could certainly be.  I need to go back to the table where I have lain out my books and bible and notes and start meditating on what direction this sermon is actually supposed to take.  

How do pastors go through this process week after week, year after year, so very competently?  Even with all the education and access to the best academic biblical researchers it has to be a stress sometimes.

Time is marching on........must get back to work.

Monday, October 21, 2013

You Say Tomahto and I Say Tomayto, You Say Potahto and I Say Potayto....But PLEASE Don't Say Tomatees and Taters!!

Over the past month we have barely been able to keep up dealing with the amazing gifts of fresh produce our parishioners have given us.  I think the carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, onions and cucumbers are some of the most delicious I have ever eaten.  This year has not only been a bumper year for crops, but for gardens as well.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, loving parishioners for sharing your wonderful bounty of veggies with us.

This morning I dealt with the remaining boxes of tomatoes.  Yum!!!  I kind of freaked out this morning when I realized how many were left as we are trying to get some church work completed and our suitcases packed for our trip this afternoon.  Then I remembered I could freeze them whole.  

Dreading the amount of "stuff" I might find in our refrigerator freezer, I carefully opened the door, but kept my eyes closed as I reached inside and started hauling bags and pails and small boxes out of it. I didn't look in there until everything was pulled out and the freezer was completely empty. Thanks to lessons learned from my husband about packing large amounts of items into teeny tiny spaces, I was able to create sufficient space for the oncoming bags and bags of tomatoes and repack the rest.  

What a great thing to be able to freeze tomatoes whole. I had bad thoughts of having to boil water for skinning them, then locate the blender to chop the tomatoes into bits for freezing, fiddling about with knives and blender blades and cleaning the machinery afterward.  Instead I washed the tomatoes off, removed the stem scars, dried them carefully and arranged them in freezer bags in such a way as to be able to keep them flat in the bags and stack the bags easily.  It would have been better to put them onto a cookie sheet until they were frozen and then bag them, but I only put 6 tomatoes in each bag so if they stick together a bit it won't matter.  It is rare that I want to cook something with less than 6 tomatoes in it.

So that is the last of the produce needing to be frozen for later use. Now to pack!  Oh, wait a minute...more like NOW to fold brochures for my husband and send some of his work related text messages.  THEN to pack!

We may actually get out of here sometime today!  I hope......

OR Gallery Vancouver Still Needs Your Help

OR Gallery had a successful fundraiser on the of the most successful ever for a small niche gallery, but they still need a few thousand dollars to receive their matching grant from the City of Vancouver and they need it in a hurry.  Creating an artist in residence space, a space for a studio, some conference space, is going to be necessary for this artist run non-profit to keep going into the future.  So, if you are of a mind and feel so inclined, a donation this week would be wonderful for receipt-able of course.

OR Gallery 555 Hamilton Street Vancouver BC  V6B 2R1

This is a shameless plug for support for these people who have gotten many a new artist off to a good start and brought support for more established artists in painting, sculpture and media arts.  They have blessed my own artist son with shows, employment, business experience and are a great group of people to spend time with.

If you are in need of more charitable tax receipts for this tax year why not support the arts?

Just sayin.......

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Calm Before the Storm?

There are some possible storms looming ahead.

First of all there is the reality of winter storms about to start for another season.  Tomorrow and the next day are promising rain and mixed precipitation for our travels.  The greys and browns of autumn are poised to be damp and snow covered before many more days pass.  We may be driving through a windy storm of wet snow tomorrow, a precursor to the real snows of winter yet to arrive.

Second is the health storm that may hit me once my initial test results arrive at the doctor's office some time this coming week.  While it may not be a huge storm, it has become clear my liver is involved in whatever is wrong with my health.  The particular types of rashes are most likely a sign that my liver isn't able to rid my system of toxins.  The vile, red, itchy rash on my legs is not going away.

Third, the conference my husband is attending this coming week could set off a storm of responses from our church members in the area of church growth.  There may be things we can still try with our congregations despite the small populations in our towns, but will they have the hope, the energy, the time to work on these things? They are such small groups who have all ready done so much to keep themselves going as church congregations.  Also, will my husband continue to have the energy to cheer lead over the next few months while we work on restoring our congregations to fullness of various kinds?

Fourth, three of our parishioners are having life endangering surgery over the next two weeks.  Will there be a storm of lingering recoveries or even funerals in the days to come?

For now we are enjoying the calm before whatever storms appear in the near future.  My husband will go to the conference in Manitoba with clergy friends.  I will spend my time elsewhere visiting other friends and thinking about things more enjoyable than the present state of my health.  

Hopefully we can avoid any frightening winter storms before we return home.  Hopefully we will com home to news that my condition is going to be treatable. Hopefully my husband will learn some new things at the conference that will help restore hope to our beleaguered congregants as they look toward a future where change has to happen in order to continue. Hopefully we will come home to news of excellent recoveries for our ailing parishioners.

Right now I am keeping my hand firmly in the hand of Jesus, the one who masters all the storms of life.  I feel like I am in the calm before the storm.  If the storms do come then Jesus will be my place of calmness in their midst.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Afternoon in the Almost Ghost Town

This afternoon my husband and I took a little trip to a teeny weeny town 90 minutes from our home.  In order to protect the innocent and so that I can be completely honest, I will not name the town. The circumstances there are what they are and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

We met up with a colleague in this wee town as part of a seminary mentoring programme my husband is involved in.  The town is exactly half way between our town of residence and hers.  The idea was that they would sit at one table in the cafe and have their meeting while I sat at another table and read a book until they were finished.  That way my husband and I could enjoy the drive together.

It  has been only 4 months since we last stopped along the main street of the town to view the local cafe.  We were pleased to note the hours posted included Saturdays, so it should have been an ideal situation this afternoon.  When we arrived, after battling an horrendous headwind and rain splatters all the way, our colleague was there all ready, sitting in her parked vehicle outside the cafe......the cafe with the huge "FOR SALE" sign in the window and the padlock on the door.

Good grief!  The rest of the town was locked up tightly, (even the local school was deserted and "FOR SALE"), not so much as a lumber yard or gas station open and it was too cold and windy and damp to sit outside on the wrought iron bench in the overgrown empty lot beside the former cafe.  We considered distributing ourselves appropriately between the 2 vehicles and carrying on with our business, but the problem was there was no place at all to piddle!! Two women had driven for some time along the highway and had not the good fortune to arrive in a place where they could piddle before having to turn around and drive back home!  NOT GOOD!!

Then we realized the "hotel" (and I use the word loosely) on the Main Street (and I use both words loosely) had a bar and restaurant ( and again I use the word loosely) where we might be able to get inside out of the elements and find a place for the aforementioned piddling to take place.

It worked out and we were all grateful that it did, but it was quite the place!  We stepped inside the main entrance and to our left was a tiny combination room and hallway between the bar and the hotel proper.  Into this small space were crammed a payphone and chair, a bookcase filled with used paperbacks, an ATM machine, a chest freezer, a high chair, a small bar table, 2 restaurant tables with a chair at one of them and a large bar table with 3 chairs, the bar table top covered with an assortment of bottle caps glued down with Crazy Glue, a 4 foot tall fan, and a pile of phone books from several years back.  

The good part is that it was fairly far removed from the noisy music coming from the bar, so we opted to use this space for the meeting.  The bad part is that it was filthy.  My husband put his cap down on one of the low restaurant tables and when he picked it up again the side touching the table was completely covered in a thick layer of dust.

The good part is that I was able to utilize the other restaurant table and chair to sit at and on to read my book.  It also had less dust than the one my husband's hat came into contact with. The bad part is that the pair of window curtains hanging down in front of my face were so dusty I couldn't ascertain their actual colour.

The good part is that despite the crowded conditions there was still room to move between our tables and get ourselves out to the bar area through an unused side kitchen. The bad part is that when we got out there we realized the bar was just as filthy as the side room.

The other two decided to have coffee and tea.  I opted for hot chocolate.  The staff didn't care if we sat in that little room/hallway.  It turned out to be some kind of storage room for them.  Just as my husband and his colleague were about to put their briefcases and papers up on the bottle cap table, a young fellow walked into the room with a large box of ice cube bags.  He dumped the soggy box onto the table while he hauled out the dripping bags of half melted cubes and deposited them in the chest freezer.  I think the freezer was actually white but it had been so long since it had been wiped down it was the same colour as the dust that covered everything else in there.

The server was most accommodating about getting the others their tea and coffee.  I asked about hot chocolate and she pointed me to a large table made of a slab of press board atop some metal banquet table legs.  It was covered with a grey tablecloth...I could only guess why it too was grey....and there was a large tin of discount hot chocolate mix, some chipped, stained mugs advertising various businesses, a pile of all ready used teaspoons (although I did find some clean ones buried under a pile of only partially used napkins), a toaster, an open bag of store bread, a greasy carton of margarine, some tea bags and a filthy carafe of what the server swore to me was hot water.  It wasn't until I had actually steeled myself to risk drinking anything from this place and made the hot chocolate that I realized the so called hot water in the carafe was actually extremely weak coffee!  I had assumed the colour of the water was indicative of some rust in the local water supply.  Eeeeeewwwww....GROSS!! That first and only sip was a killer!!  My husband had all ready paid for it though and had disappeared back into our cramped little filth pit to start his meeting, so I just grinned at the server as if I was actually happy with my drink and beat it out of there back to my restaurant table facing the filthy curtains.  I did drink a bit of the mixture because I was so thirsty but maybe I should have just remained thirsty....Lord knows what I consumed in that stained cup.  Yikes!

My husband and his colleague met for 90 minutes.  I sat beside them and attempted to concentrate on my book but it was a lost cause.  I couldn't relax.  Finally I gave in to the nearly overwhelming need to find the washroom for that relieving piddle. The washroom was on the far side of the bar so I had to undergo the scrutiny of some of the locals as I headed for the washroom door........the door that was off its hinges sufficiently that it couldn't shut.  Sigh........  Fortunately there weren't any people sitting at the table closest to the washroom.  While the cubicle door did shut, the gap between the door and the frame was huge and there would have been zero privacy if anyone had been sitting where they could look into the washroom. Have to say though that the bathroom was the cleanest spot in the place...immaculate.  Go figure! Back past the scrutineers to the filth pit and realized I was going to have a panic attack if I stayed in there any longer.

I spent the last 45 minutes of our time there sitting in the car to read my book.  The wind was howling and the clouds looked like they were filled to the brim with the first snow of the season, although nary a flake came down.  The car rocked and jerked in the wind and every time I opened the door more dried leaves blew in.  I was so relieved when my husband's meeting ended and we headed back toward home.  I felt like I needed a shower!

However, the story has a happy ending.  Part of the way home we came to a town that has the best Indian food in the province...the owner is from Bangladesh and learned the restaurant business in Toronto before heading to the prairies seeking a safe place in which to raise his children.  I don't know why he is really running a restaurant out here in the boonies or how long he will keep the place, but for now it is a bit of heaven for us to have such wonderful food less than an hour from our home.  My husband contacted another colleague who lives there and he and his wife joined us for a wonderful dinner.  Aaaaahhhhh....delicious!  We had a lovely evening.

I had the masala prawns......REAL prawns flown in from Thailand....the sweet prawns raised with sugar supplements in their diet.  O dear Lord, there is heaven on earth after all!

It was one of the more interesting days I have had lately around here.  Glad for the experience, but for his next meeting my husband will choose another town to meet his colleague.  It won't matter if he has to drive closer to her town of residence than he did today.  If he can find a restaurant that is even somewhat cleaner than the one we were in today, it will be worth it.  Aiiiiii yiiiiii......I suppose it is called "making memories".

Friday, October 18, 2013

If You Live in Vancouver Or Just Want to See West Coast Arts Flourish.....

...head over to 555 Hamilton Street, the OR Gallery, for its huge fundraiser tonight!  It will be more than worth the price of admittance and be a great support to the arts community.

OR Gallery is a non-profit, artist run gallery trying to raise money to match the City of Vancouver's offer of one hundred thousand dollars so they can create an artist in residence apt., conference rooms/gallery space etc. They are a great bunch at that gallery and have shown some of the best of Vancouver and area's up and coming artists as well as the more established painters and media artists.  

Head over there right isn't too late to get tickets!

OR send them a big fat cheque as a supporter of the arts to help them achieve their goals.

OR Gallery
555 Hamilton Street Vancouver BC V6B 2R1
Phone: 604-683-7395

Other Movies I Have Enjoyed Over the Years

I seem to be in movie mode these days for some reason.  Playing "top 10 faves of all times" with my husband the other day has me thinking of other movies I may want to track down and see again sometime.  I have so enjoyed the following for all manner of reasons:

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Moonrise Kingdom
The original Star Wars trilogy
The first 3 Indiana Jones movies
Movies 1 and 3 of the Die Hard series
The Court Jester
The In-laws (Michael Douglas version)
Romancing the Stone/Jewel of the Nile
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Terms of Endearment
The Pledge (best Jack Nicholson movie ever!!)
The Birds
My Cousin Vinnie
Lethal Weapon 1 and 2
The Goodbye Girl
Stand By Me
Funny Girl
The Pink Panther (Peter Sellers version)
House Sitter
Pretty Woman
Double Indemnity (both versions)
The Game
The Birdcage
The first 2 Terminator movies
True Lies
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series
All the Harry Potter films

How about you? What are some of your favourites?

This Dyslexic Man Walks Into a Bra......

I tried to catch some fog.  I mist. 

When chemists die, they barium. 

 Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid.  He says he can stop any time.

I'm reading a book about anti-gravity.  I can't put it down. 

How does Moses make his tea?  Hebrews it. 

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went.  Then it dawned on me. 

This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I'd never met herbivore. 

I did a theatrical performance about puns.  It was a play on words . 

They told me I had type A blood, but it was a type-O.

I didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me. 

 A cross-eyed teacher lost her job because she couldn't control her pupils? 

What does a clock do when it's hungry?  It goes back four seconds.

 I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me! 

 Broken pencils are pointless. 

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary?  A thesaurus. 

England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool. 

 I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest. 

I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.

 All the toilets in London police stations have been stolen.
Police say they have nothing to go on. 

I took the job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.

 Velcro - what a rip off!

First Series of Tests Completed

I woke up just prior to the alarm ringing this morning and headed off to the hospital blood lab for the rest of my blood work.  These are the tests that should be able to clue my doctor in if I am having any sort of liver problems or leukemia related issues..."the biggies". 

Last night is the first time in my life that I have wrestled with the temptation to go internet surfing to start comparing my symptoms to dire possibilities for diagnosis.  Fortunately I won the battle, shut my computer off before I could get searching and went to bed.  I am blogging about this in order to divert myself from wanting to be tempted again today!

I could tell I was a bit hyper in the waiting room before my tests. haha I helped people find seats in the crowded waiting room, let an elderly lady go ahead of me for tests, located her missing glove before she left, directed a woman to a city lab since our local hospital no longer does her particular blood test....on and on, Little Suzie Helpful....or, more accurately, Little Suzie Motor Mouth.  Our taciturn townsfolk in that waiting room were actually laughing and making jokes with and about me, it was that bad.  One lady suggested I should wear a sign to let everyone know I was the person with the answers to all their questions and needs that morning......sigh.....she said it with great good humour but I was kind of embarrassed.

We used to have a poster on our office wall many moons ago.  It was a photo of a wild looking orangutan, arms thrown over his head and a panicked look on his face.  The caption said, "I gotta learn to relax!"  Next time I go for tests at the hospital I have to adopt that very idea! Aiiiii yiiiii.....

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Dear Mr. George Burns.....

....I had forgotten what a marvellous tap dancer you were in younger days.  I just watched the 1937 movie Damsel in Distress, starring yourself, Gracie Allen and Fred Astaire. I enjoyed your dancing very much!"

Lately I have been watching a few movies on the TCM channel.  Many of them seem rather ridiculous nowadays, as our present movies will seem probably....oh....I don't know...say, 3 years from now perhaps??  Yes, the oldies are dated, slow moving, have obviously (sometimes badly) hand painted sets, corny acting, silly songs and overly emoted acting, but also amazing black and white photography, rather witty scripts, beautiful actors and actresses, incredible costuming that points to the era in which the movies were filmed, fantastically difficult choreography, a lot of fun and some deeply gripping drama.  

I think I am becoming an old movie buff....not so much to learn about camera angles, directing techniques or set design, but for the pure, mindless enjoyment of viewing a slice of life from "before my time". 

Confusing Phrase

I find the phrase "sexual orientation" confusing.  Why would that phrase be used in relation to gender?

The word "orientation" means "in relationship to the east".  So, I admit I have never understood the connection between that and gender.  Just what the world needs surrounding issues of gender: more confusion.....

Movie Favourites

My husband and I were sitting around this afternoon each making up a list of our ten favourite movies of all time.  There are so many movies we each enjoyed, but we decided we each had to choose ten standouts.  Here are mine, in no particular order:

1. Inn of the Sixth Happiness
2. The King and I (Yul Brynner and Debra Kerr version)
3. My Fair Lady
5. Gone With the Wind
6. Bridge on the River Kwai
7. A Christmas Carol (Alistair Sim version)
8. Dances With Wolves
9. Willow
10. Oliver

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Holiday Long Weekend

It is hard to believe it is all ready the middle of October.  Where did September disappear to??  I suppose the time seemed to fly past because we were on the road so much last month.  This month is more sane for the work related travelling.  We have one major conference later this month that requires travel for a few days but that is all.  Whew!  Hoping the fall weather will hold until that trip is over.  My husband and I admit we are both somewhat paranoid about this winter's commuting to our other church and into the Diocese office after the storms we were trapped in last winter.  The word "dread" actually doesn't begin to describe how we are feeling.

For now, for this present holiday weekend, the forecast is for sunny skies and typical autumn temperatures.  No moisture is forecast at all.  Hopefully that remains the case.  Looks like a wonderful weekend.

So, for all of you folk and your families who are celebrating with a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, have a most


Friday, October 11, 2013

The Movie Was Okay........

Well..."Gravity" was okay I suppose.  It certainly beat out all the present bathroom humour movies....there was no bathroom humour, or much of any other kind of humour for that matter.

The thing that saves it from being boring and slow is that it is only an hour and twenty minutes long. 

Aside from some of the more ridiculous aspects of the plot, such as why was the Sandra Bullock character even in space if she was really as inexperienced and incompetent as the movie portrayed her to be, as well as the somewhat unbelievable and  rapid chain of never ending tragedies that occurred in space, the one dimensional character portrayed by George Clooney, it was an okay movie. There wasn't anything seriously wrong with it and I should have felt the suspense more than I did.

For some reason I couldn't seem to engage with either character and maybe it was just the mood I was in.  I didn't get upset at the idea that one or both of them could die in space because it didn't seem to matter all that much to me.

I am not certain what my major movie buff friend really thought of it either. Her only comment to me about it afterward was that it wasn't one she would need to purchase.

Guess what I am feeling about the movie is simple ambivalence.  It could have been worse.  It could have been better.  It was an okay movie that doesn't need to be seen twice. There really isn't anything you could miss at the first viewing.

Tonight's Entertainment

A friend just called to invite me to go to the movies tonight.  We are going to see "Gravity".

Oh PLEASE let the suspense and the acting live up to the pre-release hype....please....please....puleeeeeeease......

Oh PLEASE don't let it be slow and boring....please...please...puleeeeeease.......

Thursday, October 10, 2013

This, That and the Other Thing: Detailed Stream of Consciousness

I just watched a television programme about how Brazil is making beer out of corn.  The American taster said the flavour was a bit "hootchie" but actually rather tasty.  To me its bright yellow colour looked like neon split pea soup, but I'm not much of a beer drinker so guess I don't have to care.

It was very cold outside today, so cold I had to wear a jacket to protect myself from the wind just walking from my front door to a waiting vehicle...but not cold enough to leave the super comfy flip flops at home and exchange them for shoes.  My ankle has healed to flip flop level. YAY!

My son is recovering from a day or two of illness.  He had to miss work but was able to do some of his text book reading for school next summer. Something good came of his illness.  He also sold a painting last week so that is some money toward his next summer's tuition.  I am praying he can sell about eight more for that price to cover both tuition and living expenses.  He has met a married couple with a pre-teen son who have become good friends.  He describes them as being kind of out there and wild and wacky...sigh.....I am trying not to think about what that all could mean!!  (once a mother always a mother...sigh...I know, I know....)

Our town was able to get some provincial assistance to add suppressants to the smoldering heaps still blowing smoke from our burning landfill site.  By this evening the mayor was able to lift the ban being outdoors without a vehicle.  It means I can get my walking done tomorrow that I have missed out on for the past few days.  This is great news as I have been feeling like the Good Year Blimp with all this inactivity.  Plus, OUR TOWN IS SAVED!

My husband's meeting in Regina this weekend was cancelled.  It was for a sad reason, but for my husband's sake I am glad for the cancellation.  He would have been leaving here at 5am and then racing back for church at 7pm.  Not a good scenario.

 I watched Big Bang Theory tonight and it was hilarious.  Amy pointed out to Sheldon that there is no actual need for the Indiana Jones character in the first of the I.J series as the outcome would have been the same with or without him.  Sheldon spent the rest of the episode trying to find something Amy liked as much as he liked the first I.J movie and ruin it for her the same way she had ruined I.J. for him.  Last week's episode seemed kind of hohum to me, but this week was funnier.  Maybe it is because last week I watched it alone and tonight I watched it with my hysterically laughing husband.

I am wondering how the partial shut down of the American government is going to effect their country in the long term, as well as how it will effect us here in Canada.  The workings of the American government are often a mystery to me, so I am trying to learn more about them.  In theory I understand why they have gone into shut down mode, but how it works in practice and how it effects life in general there is not quite putting itself together in my mind.  American federal political procedures seem incredibly complicated to me compared to the relative simplicity of our own system.  In Canada federal political procedure is very easy.  We are divided into electoral areas that mean the areas with the highest populations end up with all the power; no matter who gets elected to the office of Prime Minister, no matter the election rhetoric or promises made, the eventual outcome for our country and population is the same: broken promises, allegations of political corruption, higher taxes, higher debt and fewer social services. Works every time.  Easy peasey!

Had a good chat with my parents today.  They are doing extremely well all things considered.  After what they were going through with their health issues a year ago, it seems nearly miraculous that they are doing so well now.  (I have a scarf with this combination of blue and pink, heavy silk, very very pretty.) 

One more week until my blood tests.

I heard the saddest thing the other day.  An elderly pastor friend of ours passed away and one of the last things he said to his children is that he hoped he had believed enough of the "right things" to get him into heaven.  I started to cry.  This godly man had such a relationship with God all his life.   We knew him to be a man of integrity, not bound by the limitations others would sometimes try to put onto his spiritual life.  I truly hope he was able to relax before he died and understand his heavenly father looked not on his outward doctrines but on his heart.

The lady I had tea with today has two cats, a shy scaredy female who walks like a runway model and an aggressive tom who is fed up with attempting to play with her as she always hides and cowers.  Personalities happen.

This morning I refilled the birdbath to overflowing. This afternoon 2/3 of the water had slopped out all ready from all the large male sparrows splashing about in it while having a spa day.  At one point there were 3 robins in the water and THIRTEEN crammed wing by beak around the edge awaiting their turn.

I finally got around to reading the latest issue of The Anglican Journal today.  Some of the articles were quite interesting this time around...less agenda promoting rhetoric from certain factions in the church.  The enclosed Diocesan paper, The Saskatchewan Anglican, had some excellent articles, some depth behind them that made for interesting reading.

Am trying to find some more news about the fallout from the latest round of winter storms and tornadoes in the mid west and northern United States.  The media coverage about it here seems to be at an end, but the devastation for those in the path of the storms will go on for a long time to come.  

Was able to tell a couple of friends today that soon I will be coming to visit in their town for a few days.  Their genuine excitement was gratifying.

A friend is about to preach his first sermon in a senior's home setting.  He is really wondering what to talk about and how to approach the situation.  We told him to just preach a simple version of what he would preach to a congregation of mixed age groups.  One thing I used to notice when I was with a team of well meaning church folk doing services in senior's homes was that the preaching too often centered around heaven and merely coping until the time came for those wonderful seniors to pack it in and go there.  One woman told my husband not long ago that she appreciates his homilies because she doesn't feel like he is rushing them to an early grave by talking about spiritual things as if all the "good stuff" happened in their younger days and can't happen any more as they sit and wait to die.  She spoke wisdom.

Someone said to me the other day that most Anglicans don't know Jesus. As an Anglican this was certainly news to me.  I was so shocked by that statement I don't even remember how I responded to fact now I can't even remember where I heard it!  I suspect someone was just repeating something they had been told by someone else without finding out for themselves and inadvertently passing a lie along.  This type of thinking is one of the many reasons I left my own former church affiliation.  It ignorantly assumed that since the Anglican church used different terminology and allowed for different social lives, more divergent practice and fewer detailed doctrinal boundaries, that those who attended it couldn't possibly know Jesus, while allowing all manner of ungodly behaviour on the part of its own adherents because they said all the right religious words and claimed verbal adherence to a proscribed set of tenets.   Well, we humans group and wrongly label each other all the time so I shouldn't be surprised.  Now I have to think about what sorts of groups of people I too may be ignorantly labelling without having any first hand knowledge about them.   

Canadian author Alice Munro just won the Nobel prize for literature.  I  have only read 2 of her books  I admit, but based on those books I have to say that for Canadian authors I do prefer Margaret Atwood.

This coming weekend is Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for many things.  I am thankful to be alive and to have a family and a house to live in and lots of food to eat.  In our present circumstance every basic need of life is covered...and then some.  I don't know why I was so privileged as to grow up in a middle class home in Canada when millions of other people live in abject poverty and suffering but I am thankful...thankful to the point of tears when I think about it.  By Canadian standards, my husband and I have had our share of suffering. By world standards we have not suffered at all.  Yes, I am supremely thankful!!  What are you thankful for?    

Mystery Solved

It was Woman #2 who came to my house today.  We ended up in a restaurant having tea, visiting and laughing like a couple of banshees.  haha  It was great fun.  Unfortunately (?? or not, we'll see...) she was hoping I would be on a town committee with her and I suspect that is what precipitated this sudden interest in my existence.  But, I choose to be positive and assume we will get together again even though I was unable to commit myself to any committee work at this time.  I really like Woman #2 and hope we can actually become friends.  It was a fun afternoon.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Oooh, Now I've Done It....Merry Christmas To Me!

The local mall has just opened up a brand new Harley Davidson store....and today I went shopping for my Christmas gift.  

Now, now, don't panic....I didn't buy a bike. I am not quite that crazy yet. This is strictly a clothing and accessories outlet.

Do you have any idea how much I miss biking? ANY idea??  I can't do it any more, of course.  But I still love the leathers, particularly the jackets.  Yup, bought me a wonderful new HD jacket. (Hey, it was on sale....majorly on sale as it is last year's stock.)

I am completely stoked!  Do I look like an complete idiot who is going through her second childhood?  Probably. 

Do I care?  Not a whit!!

It is so pretty with all those cool zippers and such.  It is almost thigh length and has a nice belt to tie around the middle.  It has no giant orange and black HD patch on the back, just a small, unobtrusive oval HD patch on one arm...and it is all in black, no colours added.

My husband roared with laughter when he saw my purchase but felt a lot better when he saw me actually wearing it.  Other than a few extra zippers it certainly doesn't stand out as a biker jacket.  The style suits me too.

So, I only look a little bit silly.......and that is fine with me. I am so old no one notices what I wear any more. I am just one more old lady in a youth centered world. 

Was it worth going out to the HD sale and exposing myself to the smoke and ash tainted air?  Yup!