Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hit and Near Misses

Our trip to the city this week was one of the craziest we have had in a long time in terms of traffic/driving events.  I was thinking about it just now and feel the need to debrief.

On our clear, warm, wonderful drive out across the prairies we were able to make good speed.  I live in constant alertness for deer and antelope that sometimes leap out from beside the road....out of the ditches and fields...landing immediately in front of oncoming traffic and causing all manner of vehicular mayhem, damage, death, injury and what have you.  The antelope seem far more road smart than deer who will jump about in the middle of the road so readily.  We did pass a large herd of deer a couple of hours into our trip so I was primed to be even more alert than usual.

Unfortunately all my preparation and wide eyed scanning of the landscape around me did not prevent me from one vehicle/wildlife tragedy.  As we drove along I saw what appeared to be a small puddle in the middle of my lane....not particularly unusual with the melting snow along the sides of the road.  Unfortunately this particular puddle turned out to be a good sized partridge.  Partridges count on their ability to use camouflage for protection from predators, flying off only if the predator comes very close to their location. Sadly, for this dear birdie, it worked too well.  I was nearly on top of the partridge when it flew straight up and the wind currents blew it directly into my windshield with a mighty thump.  The impact was so great that the bird, I am certain, died upon impact.  Its body winged off behind the car and into series of snowbanks in a field 50 feet or more away. By the time I was able to come to a complete stop by standing nearly upright on my brakes we could no longer see where it had landed.  I can only pray it did die instantly.  I cried because I felt so badly. I hate the thought of killing anything.  My car windshield will have to be replaced as soon as the local glass shop can order one in for my car's make and model as it is now covered with a series of cracks as long and as high as the windshield stretches.  Hopefully it will hold together long enough to get us to Regina and back this weekend for the new Bishop's installation services before it shatters. 

Then Calgary was riddled with near misses for us, probably for the first time in all our years there and all our subsequent visits of late.  We managed to avoid 2 minor fender benders involving other cars on a main thoroughfare we travel on several times each trip as it runs directly between the house of my parents and my husband's sister....one fender bender per day of our travels on that road.  I can barely stand watching accidents of any kind happen and even though these would be considered minor with only a few broken head and tail lights, a bashed in trunk or hood and no serious injuries, it was still upsetting.

The morning we left for home was the worst.  We were stopped at a controlled intersection and as our light to proceed turned green we were about to roar off when suddenly a young man appeared only inches from the front of our car as he dashed across in front of us, against the light, in an attempt to catch a transit bus he was late getting to.  That shook us up a bit, but not as badly as the next intersection where we arrived at a 4 Way Stop.  The stop has been there for several decades and we were the only ones there when we pulled to a stop.  We began to pull forward since no one else had arrived at the signs, when my husband noticed out of the corner of his eye, an incoming car on our right hand side.  As quickly as he saw it he also realized it was not slowing down sufficiently to stop at the stop sign.  My husband hit the brakes "just in case" and it is a good thing he did.  Not only did the driver not stop at his stop sign, he didn't even slow down.  He roared across our path and veered left in front of us, glaring at us as if we were endangering him by being on the road at all. As we sat there shaking once again, he turned into the entrance of a college down the street.  If he is a student there then this is not the first time he has been at that intersection and must know full well it is a stop sign for him.  We were unable to obtain his license plate number in order to report him, but we were very glad to head for home.  

Then of course, as previously reported, we witnessed the semi hitting the ditch closer to home.  Tomorrow on our way to Regina we will both be on high alert.  We are getting tired of all the careless driving that seems to be taking over our part of the world.  On narrow 2 lane highways with no appreciable shoulders it is terrifying to be surrounded by large trucks, a high number of intoxicated drivers (SK has hit the top of the list for number of drunks on the road in Canada), so many cars passing slower moving vehicles when it is unsafe to do so and too many people who did not grow up on the prairies, subsequently having no idea of how quickly and easily terrible accidents can happen on winter highways.

Once we get back from Regina I sort of hope our travels, even of the quasi-local variety, are over and done with for awhile!  My tummy can't take it.

Winter Driving on the Prairies This Week (Grab a Coffee and Sit Ye Doon!)

This has been an excellent week so far......mostly. Early Monday morning I had a tooth filled and discovered the joys of modern dentistry that meant I could walk out of the dentist's office and have a meal as soon as the freezing came out. In the medieval days, the days when I last had dental appointments, fillings needed a couple of days to set up and harden.  Trying to eat or even drink anything for the first 48 hours was an inconvenient challenge and the tooth sometimes felt achy for a couple of weeks afterward.  Now, the only reason the dentist asked me to wait to eat until the freezing came out was so that I wouldn't accidentally bite my tongue!!  Pa, ya' won't believe how them dentists have improved things nowadays! hahaha

So, at my husband's suggestion, we were able to race around the house packing after my appointment and take off for a sunny, warm 5 hour trip to the city to check in on my parents.  While we could only stay there for about a day and a half, we were able to take mom shopping all over the place and help her and dad with their various eye drops, see for ourselves that Mom's eye is recovering well after her first cataract surgery and, most importantly, have a rational discussion about preparing for possible near future moves into a different style of living arrangement.  There was no yelling, no denial, no upset this time around.  There seemed to be a true recognition that age related infirmities are going to force change to happen.  Dad has some more tests for eyes and back and over the next month should finally have more information as to what he is facing longer term with his health issues.  Then he and Mom are planning to start making phone calls to quite a few seniors' residences to get the details of cost and care.  For now I choose to believe them. At least I know they will be well fed with the frozen meals I packed their freezer with.

For ourselves we were able to slip in one meal of Nepalese food that was sumptuous!  We found a few groceries once again that aren't available anywhere near where we live and my husband went crazy buying more and more and more and more varieties of teas.  Guess I shouldn't have allowed him to go to the Lebanese and Indian grocery stores by himself. hahaha He purchased some thyme tea that he now loves and that I can't even smell without gagging. haha  He was also able to find some strong pieces of leather and some lacing so he can put new soles on his moccasins.  The uppers are good strong moose hide and will last for many years to come, but he wears them around the house so much that the soles are getting holes in them. It will give him a hobby project, finally, that involves something other than sitting at the computer staring at the screen.  He also brought home some sewing patterns and ideas for new stoles and albs that his sister found for him.  He has his mom's sewing machine and has been itching to use it for a larger project than he has had to date. He certainly made the most of his abbreviated time to shop and to see his own family.

All was well on the drive home too, until the last 100 kilometers.  The sun was out, the snow was melting a bit in the fields and beside the roads. We stopped part way home to eat sandwiches and although we missed a stop by the one tree by the road that we look for eagerly on that 5 hour drive, the one we usually park beside to eat our lunch, we were able to park beside a giant snow drift....the kind the wind sculpts into softly rolling curves and hollows.  It was lovely, pristine white, not tainted with bits of black muck and gravel that will ruin it once spring arrives and those things are tossed around by speeding vehicle tires.  The road we travel on has no services whatsoever for 3 of the 5 hours....no towns, no restaurants, no gasoline stations and no cell phone service for part of that time.  It is not the road to be on if you have car trouble or weather related disasters as you could be sitting beside the road for many hours awaiting an emergency assistance vehicle.  But it is a wonderful shortcut and saves us over an hour of driving to the city on the main highways.

As we drove along about 200 km from home we noticed the road was quite wet, there was some slush and there was a tremendous amount of gravel on the road surface. Winds earlier in the day had blown snow from the fields where it melted on the warm pavement.  Then the temperatures began to drop in the afternoon as the weather system began changing pattern, cooling the pavement and refreezing the snow melt. We noticed the wind was slowly changing direction from northwest to southeast and that there was a chinook arch cloud formation to the east of us.  There was a chinook arch cloud formation to the west of us.  We were trapped between those systems and that, we have learned from sad experience, is not a good place to find ourselves.  The water on the road had quick frozen and a lot of gravel and sand had been put down to help melt it off again.  On the Alberta side of the border the ploughs and gravel trucks had been out and thoroughly melted off any icy patches that had formed.  The closer we came to the SK border the more slush and water there was on the road.  As we crossed the final AB north/south connecting highway, 20 km before reaching the border, to continue on our shortcut home, the water and slush immediately ceased and the road became a sheet of clear, pebbled ice.  It was like someone had taken a ruler and drawn a line on a piece of paper to mark where the water stopped and the ice began.  We were crossing from the Have province as far as road maintenance budget to the Have Not province and it was amazing to see the difference so starkly depicted.  

The last 100 km home was a nightmare.  It is the nightmare we have been driving on most of this past winter around here.  In that final 100 km sand had been dropped in exactly 3 places: first on a large curve in the road and then on both of the steep hills between the border and our home town.  We crawled along  for 2.5 hours before our next stop: 30km from home we came across an accident that had traffic blocked in both directions.  Aaaaah, the joys of an icy 2 lane highway filled with semi rigs whizzing past only a few inches from the driver's door.  A rig had gone off the road into the ditch partway up the first of the 2 hills.  We were heading into what would become a very long lineup of stopped vehicles waiting for a tow truck to come and pull the front of the cab out of the ditch and pull the trailer off the highway where it was blocking both lanes.

About the time we were pulling to a stop we saw 2 vehicles ahead of us pull out of the line and head down a side road to the north. We decided to follow them and go around the accident on the gravel roads.  As we headed north for 2 km all was well, not much drifting and the winds were blowing the road clear. How wonderful to have the traction of the gravel after slipping and sliding on the icy highway despite our good winter studs.  Unfortunately our joy only lasted as far as the first quarter kilometer after we turned east again on the grid road.  The wind had all ready piled drifts 4 feet high on the south side of the road and the snow was swirling down onto the grid road, creating drifts too high for our car to smash through.  The flat light from the now grey skies made it impossible to discern the depth of the drifts  until we were into them.  It became apparent we might be looking at turning around and returning to the main highway.  We came across a young couple ahead of us on the grid road. They had a 4 wheel drive vehicle that was higher off the ground than our car and they were standing on the road examining the drifts just ahead of them.  After a discussion with them we decided we would all turn around and get off that road before we were stranded there for possibly overnight before a plough or a farmer's tractor came along and found us.  They went ahead of us breaking up the new snow that had filled in our tire tracks in only the few seconds between breaking the drifts and turning around to go back.

When we got back to the highway we realized we would have been, had we been smart enough to just hold our place there originally, in the first batch of vehicles the police had allowed to slip past the semi by using the oncoming lane.  So we were waiting again.  It took only about ten more minutes to get the truck and trailer off the road, onto tow trucks and hauled out of the way.  However, nearly ten minutes later, the lead truck in our line up, a double trailer grain hauler, had not budged.  It continued to sit, lights flashing, not moving, no sign from the driver that he had the okay from the police to move forward. And so, for 2 km behind him, a long line of vehicles sat immobile with our lights flashing, the howling wind creating snow drifts between each vehicle, wondering what was going on.  Short version: the grain hauler had been forced to stop at a point on the hill where he couldn't get enough traction on the ice to get going again.  Apparently he had radio'd for a sanding truck to come and bring enough sand and gravel to give him traction so he could get moving.  However, he failed to let the vehicles immediately behind him know that the road was free for everyone else to continue on their way.  He didn't so much as stick his arm out the window of the truck to motion to the drivers behind him to go around him.  Finally the little half ton truck behind him figured it out, signalled to the next driver that he was going around when the oncoming traffic cleared and so began the slow trek for the rest of us to get up the  hill around the immobile grain hauler and continue the crawl home.   My husband was so tired by the time we arrived home he could barely keep his eyes open long enough to drive through town to our house!  

The worst part of this week for him now is that today he has to tackle those road conditions once again to get to our other church for some important meetings this afternoon.  He is supposed to be at this week's inter-church Lenten lunch but may wait until early afternoon to go in hopes that the plough has come out at least long enough to remove the worst of the deep snow drifts across the road.  The ice will be a fixture now until it warms up sufficiently outside (maybe this weekend??) to melt it enough that passing car tires will break it up and push it into the shoulder of the road.

I am still shaking from the drive.  With the accident causing us that nearly half hour of waiting and driving around trying to get around it, it took us 3 hours to travel 100 km.  Unreal!!  

Except out here on the prairies.......

And we have to drive 5 hours to Regina this weekend for the installation of our new Bishop....command performance for all the diocesan clergy travelling far and wide to attend and perform their various duties.....

SPRING......come soon.........please........




Sunday, February 24, 2013

Quirky Movie of the Year Award

Last night I had the pleasure of watching an incredibly quirky movie called Moonrise Kingdom. (2012) I started watching it with the idea of spending maybe 15 minutes with it for a bit of relaxation before packing myself off to bed.  I couldn't tear myself away until it was over.

What a delightful and odd little movie.  It is the story of 2 young teens who think they have fallen in love in the year 1965 and run away from home, attempting a long term camp out at the far end of the island where they live.  The boy, ("Sam", played by Jared Gilman), is an orphan who is skilled in the camping arts from his long term association with his scout troupe (led by their scout master, Ed Norton). The girl, ("Suzy", played by Kara Hayward), a troubled daughter of parents played by Frances McDormand and Bill Murray.  Bruce Will plays the local police captain.  

The adult roles are wonderfully underplayed.  The movie unfolds like a room full of art deco.....characters that seem at first to be stereotypically stylized and yet as the movie unfolds we see other, understated sides of the characters' personalities.  The 2 teens are in some ways caricatures of movie characters from movies of the 1940's, yet their underlying problems are very modern and real.  Tilda Swinton's character is the social services employee who becomes involved when the orphan boy is discovered missing.  We do not learn a name for her character.  Even she calls herself merely "Social Services".  The set design is somewhat stark in places and brimming with gorgeous forest and lake scenery in others.  The movie totters quite happily between cartoon stereotype and some brutal (and modern) realities, outlandish plot line and stark believability.

It is important to watch this movie's visuals very closely.  There are small details that can be easily missed for the first ten minutes while you are trying to figure out what sort of movie this is going to be.  

The script is like the rest of the movie, interspersed with believable conversation and over the top silliness in places, although overt silliness is seamlessly blended with reality in a way that kept my interest going from start to finish.

The script was written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola. The movie was directed by Wes Anderson.  I don't know how they convinced these particular actors to appear in this movie where none have a stand out starring role, but they are all well cast.  

To me this movie is along the lines of "A Christmas Story" only with a more adult script and a ton more quirk. The back stories of the strange characters hover between sketchy and non-existent, yet little phrases and actions describe them beautifully for the viewer.  The movie doesn't cover enough time frame in the lives of the characters to give us all the information we crave, but instead starts with the incident of the runaways and ends when they are found and returned to their respective living situations.  For me that is part of the fascination.

I hope to see this movie again soon and pay even more attention to the costuming and sets that tell us so much about the characters that is never spoken aloud.  Moonrise Kingdom is an instant favourite of mine.
   


More Kid Fun in Church

This morning we had a visiting mom and her son, about age 4, in one of our church services.  He went happily off to Sunday School with the other kids, returning with his teacher and class for the Eucharist.  He proudly assisted in taking the collection under the direction of his teacher and a well rehearsed 7 year old boy.  Once the offering plates were on the table and the priest had prayed over the gifts, it was time for the boys to step away from the table, then turn back and bow to the priest before returning to their seats.  

Well, they did step away from the altar, but instead of following the lead of the older boy and bowing to the priest, our new visitor leaped into the air, hollered, "We did it man!", and the 2 boys gave each other a mighty, palm slapping "high five"!!

Cute kids in church:  PRICELESS!!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Snowing.....AGAIN!! Sigh..........Can We Get Away?

The past two days have seen a let up in the storms, the sun has been out off and on for several days now even though the air has been very cold.  Today it began to warm up just enough to encourage the snow to fall once again.  After a chilly but quite lovely day that saw a steady stream of pedestrians trekking past our house to do their uptown errands, the snow began to fall in thick clumps about an hour ago.  It is very beautiful to watch but I admit to some disappointment.

Now the stress is on once again.....how will the roads be at 8am when we leave for our other church congregation 60 km away??  Will they be clear on Monday morning so we can go to the city to see my parents, who are in need of some groceries and are depending on us to be there to take mom shopping?  Once again we have plans to leave town for a couple of days and snow that was not forecast has arrived.  Big sigh..........

What it is, is, I am tired of winter now.  It is beautiful in so many ways but after 4 solid months of it with no chinooks like we get in Alberta and that I am so used to, it seems to be dragging on and on with no end in sight.

Speaking of sight, (Good segue, eh?  Did you like that one?? teehee) my mother had her first of 2 cataract surgeries yesterday.  She did well with her nerves once she got there and realized there was no turning back, the surgery went very well and she has detailed instructions of how to care for her new lens over the next couple of months.  In 3 or 4 weeks she goes back to the clinic for surgery on her other eye.  There is still a bit of blurring of her vision but the doctor told her that it can take up to a week, so not to panic unless she isn't seeing at least some improvement each day. Her initial post-surgical check up was at 7:30am today and the report is good.  Whew!!

Dad is doing a lot of research into private MRI's and private surgical clinics etc. etc. etc.  Friends came up with an idea that he could see the doctors they have been going to who specialize in back surgery and who have their own clinic that does its own testing and surgeries.  I don't know if I am happy about what these friends have done in restoring his rather idealistic hope over what any surgeon is going to do for an 86 year old man with severe heart problems.  Dad is flying so high emotionally over these possibilities that I know he has decided on his own that he is going to qualify for the surgery and then he will be restored to health and motion like he was when he was in his 50's.  In his case I happen to agree with what the public health care system in his province is doing with his care.  I am sure that his friends who had such wonderful success with their back surgeries at this clinic mean well, but Dad isn't thinking about the fact that they are all 20 to 25 years younger than he is and so of course they healed quite well and quite quickly.  I just hope they haven't unwittingly set him up for giant disappointments and depression. He has been quite depressed since he went into hospital in December, understandably, but I don't know if it is wise to raise his hopes so high. Guess time and research will tell..........

If I get there on Monday I have to begin a serious conversation about my parents being willing to put their names on the lists of some seniors' condos......I imagine there will be hell to pay when I do that but I know mom will be willing to listen and probably even willing to get started trying to find a suitable place for them to live.  She is ready, has been ready for some time, but of course it will be Dad who will decide what they are both going to do.  They are presently completely dependent on available friends to take them to do the simplest chores away from home and that isn't a situation that can continue long term.  At what point do I push hard for this and risk making a real mess of my good intentions?  This is the most difficult stage of life for them and for me.  My opinion is that if you are no longer capable of going out to purchase your own food it is time to move somewhere that serves you daily meals.  For some reason they are refusing to return to Meals on Wheels and I think it is because it has not occurred to them that they can order a meal for just one person and split it rather than having more food than they can eat arriving at the door, as was the case previously.  Another item to add to the list for discussion......now if the weather will just improve again so I can actually get there this time..........

I am sure this is less than fascinating stuff for those of you who are not in this position with elderly parents, but writing about it certainly helps me in dealing with it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Stream of Consciousness 2

Sooooo tired.....super duper tired....super duper party pooper.......paratrooper....silly blooper......pooper scooper.........zzzzzzzz...........sleeping....snoring.....boring.....adoring new flooring.....moldy carpet.....minarets and parapets.....parakeets....pair o' Keats...Alexander Keiths.....pair of odes......long odds...odds 'n' sods........crazy broads.....Broad Street........cooked meat.....silly feat.....feet of clay......Cassius Clay........another day........hey....hay.....wadda ya' say.....milky way.......who will pay......Bay Day......Bay of Fundy.....Monday Monday.....John Phillips....Sousa....wallapalooza...boozer.....loser......cruiser.....in a car.....at the bar......bare....Care Bears.......County Fair......fair play......play fair.....too much flair...what a pair....day of rest.....little pest......hornet's nest.....you're the best......take a test....need more rest..........zzzzzzz....will I go....day of woe....stubbed my toe....saw the show......way to go....hohoho......yeah lady....you are crazy.....lazy.......hazy.......cotton clouds.........huge crowds.....shout out loud....death shroud.....talk too loud.....feeling cowed.....head bowed.....vowed to do it....nothing to it......can't afford it.....good reward.....Noel Coward.....Mr. Howard.......collard greens.......flying machines.....pork and beans.....ways and means......friends and fiends......college deans.......light blue jeans.....zzzzzzzzz.....keyboard....one accord....Honda Accord.....love the Lord......can't afford....getting bored.....food is stored.....dark green Ford......where'd it go....I dunno.....what a blow....sad I know........tie a bow.....too much snow.....down below....up above.....such love.....turtle dove.....push and shove.......shovel....drivel....divot....pivot..........pilot......ace...pace....full of face.....in a race...take my place.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...can't wake up....pink teacup.....lap it up.........sup.........digging deep.....in a heap.....street.........potholes........dead moles......jewelled stoles............Tibetan bowls.....floppy jowels....plugged up bowels.......get some towels....pegs and dowels.......Simon Cowell's.....flapping fowls.....no more fun.....I'm done.........zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Humour (?) With a Big Bad Bite

I found the following several years ago before I was married to a priest.  I believe there is supposed to be some degree of humour in the following, but there is also a lot of bitterness.  My prayer is that I would never be in a position that would tempt me to want to write the following letter to anyone in a church congregation, and once again I have to pause and give thanks for the congregations my husband presently serves because they are so kind to us!  Apparently the author of the letter below did not have our experience.  When I read it I was led to consider not only my present position as a pastoral spouse but also to consider my own treatment (past and present) of the pastor.

"Dear Tormentor,

My husband is your minister, not your slave. 
My husband's job is to please God, not you.
My husband is a good man and does not deserve your judgmental diatribes.
Why can't you see the way you make him suffer?
My kind-hearted husband has been reduced to weeping because of your sharp tongue.
Why do you feel the need to constantly "correct" me?
Who gave you permission to appoint yourself my judge?
If I spoke to you or your husband the way you speak to us you would be devastated and we would be fired.
Why can't WE fire YOU?
If I treated your children the way you treat mine there would be a public outcry against me and you would pummel me into the ground.
Why does no one cry out on behalf of MY children?  Why can I not protect my children from you without recrimination?
You are cruel to others in our midst as well. You have destroyed lives.  Your husband does your bidding.
And yet no one is willing to stand up to you.
They are afraid of you.
You pretend to love God.  
You pretend to be Spiritual.
What you really love is control.
You should be ashamed and yet you feel self-righteous.
Why does my honesty threaten you?
Admitting to imperfection does not make me a bad Christian. It makes me human.
I have been trying for years to be kind to you; to be gracious in spite of how you hurt us continually.
I have embraced your children and refused to blame them for your mistakes.
I have tried to love you like I KNOW Jesus loves you.
And as a reward we have to leave our home, our job, our friends.
Because of you we have to find a new place to live and work.
We have to go somewhere away from here to give ourselves a chance to heal from the wounds you have inflicted.
Why is one bitter person allowed to determine so much of my future?

Sincerely,
Your minister's wife"

OUCH!!

Ten Reasons Why Men Should Not Be Ordained

Before everyone gets all excited over this one, please note that I am not slamming men by printing the following.  Please see the humour as this presents the same so-called "reasoning" that has been, and in some cases still is, used to keep women from being ordained as ministers in the church.  When the tables are turned, for some reason the lack of real logic becomes glaringly apparent.  I don't know who wrote the following, but thank you.  This is not only funny, it is educational!!

TEN REASONS WHY MEN SHOULD NOT BE ORDAINED

10.  A man's place is in the army.

9.  The pastoral duties of men who have children might distract them from the responsibility of being a parent.

8.  The physique of men indicates that they are more suited to such tasks as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions.  It would be "unnatural" for them to do ministerial tasks.

7.  Man was created before woman, obviously as a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment rather than the crowning achievement of creation.

6.  Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors.  Their conduct at football and basketball games demonstrates this.

5.  Some men are handsome, and this will distract women worshipers.

4.  Pastors need to nurture their congregations. But this is not a traditional male role.  Throughout history, women have been recognized as not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it.  This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.

3.  Men are prone to violence. No really masculine man wants to settle disputes except by fighting about them. Thus they would be poor role models as well as dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.

2.  The New Testament tells us that Jesus was betrayed by a man. His lack of faith and ensuing punishment remind us of the subordinated position that all men should take.

1.  Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained.  They can sweep sidewalks, repair the church roof, and perhaps even lead the song service on Father's Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the church. 
 

My Favourite Church Bulletin Bloopers

1.  Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled.  Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

2.  The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.

3.  Evening massage - 6pm

4.  The Pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.

5.  The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.

6.  Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7pm to 8:30pm.  Please use the back door. 

7.  Ushers will eat latecomers.

8.  The third verse of Blessed Assurance will be sung without musical accomplishment.

9.  For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

10.  The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.

 

More Silliness

WORDS WE ALL LONG TO HEAR
One of the town's ministers purchased a new sports car and could not resist the temptation to show it off to a couple of his fellow clergy in the town. The 3 of them went on a bit of a joy ride, the happy new owner revving the engine at every stop light and speeding along faster than the limit allowed.  At one point he lost control of the car and crashed into a pole.  All 3 ministers regained consciousness and found themselves in the presence of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.
St. Peter said to them, "Gentlemen you have arrived in heaven, but before you enter I need to record your ideas as to what you want to be remembered for back on earth. What do you want people to say about you" 
The first minister replied that he wanted people to talk about his ability to revive his church congregation.  He wanted them to say, "He had the gifts to restore our parish to health and growth."
The second minister replied that he wanted people to remember his personality traits. He wanted them to say, "He was a kindly and forgiving man who loved everyone he met."
The driver of the car thought for a few moments before he answered and then replied that he hoped his congregation would all attend his funeral, look down at his body in the casket and say, "Look, Look!!  He's breathing!!!"

Wee Kiddies in Church

The next week or so is going to be busy with various time consuming activities so may not get a lot of chance to blog.  So, I will post a series of items discovered yesterday during a day long session of going through files of various types of papers collected over the past few years that have been taking up unnecessary space in our cabinets and desk drawers. Some of them are kind of funny, cute at least, so hope you enjoy them.

The Prodigal Parent
     One day in church the priest delivered a sermon based on the timeless story of the prodigal son.  When he got to the point where the father sees his son returning and races out to meet him, the minister said, "Throwing wide his arms, the father said........."
A young boy jumped up and shouted, "YOU'RE GROUNDED!!"

So do enjoy the next few posts.  If they aren't knee slapping hilarious they will be at least mildly amusing....... 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pride Wenteth Before a Fall...a Crash...a Huge Kaboomba

I am running about madly today doing necessary things and don't have time to be blogging, BUT I am so ashamed that I must pause in the midst of the busyness to confess my sin:

Over the past 2 days I have consumed an entire 100 gram chocolate bar!  There, I have spit it out (as I should have done with the chocolate bar), confessed publicly that I have taken a mighty fall off the no-sugar wagon. Sigh.........

I made the mistake of sampling a square of a Cadbury salty caramelized peanut bar and my dietary fate was sealed....doomed to complete failure upon first taste.  The salty sweet crispy interior of that otherwise rather plebeian milk chocolate bar had me instantly  hooked into the flavour and rooked into purchasing a full sized bar for myself.

And now the deed is done, the bar completely consumed and the confession made in order to attempt to inspire some guilt over my wretched 2 days of nibbling.

However, it isn't working actually.....now I have to confess a second sin: I enjoyed every melting, tangy morsel.  Sigh.........

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Will This Winter Ever End???

Winter continues to rage here on the prairies.  A look at the highways maps online shows more and more highways depicted in the colour red, signifying that those highways are now closed due to zero visibility from blowing snow and too much ice on the road surfaces.  Most of the bottom half of our province is not safe for travelling today.

My husband and I had great plans for this afternoon off work here in town and we did manage to brave the awful wind and cold to do them......most of them at least.  There is something about a windchill factor of -28C combined with slick ice and wind gusts of 50km per hour that robs a person of some degree of motivation to be out and about.

We went out for Chinese food for our late luncheon, made it to the post office and bank, over to Peavey Mart for a giant bag of birdseed and to the grocery store on the far end of town.  That was where we lost all the rest of our enthusiasm for being away from home any more this afternoon.  After parking our car, the wind nearly blew us right off our feet in the mall parking lot as we struggled across chunky ice dusted in a fresh skiff of snow ....probably the most terrifying walk of my winter thus far.  We were carrying heavy groceries on the way back to the vehicle and clinging to each other as we managed to stay on our feet before collapsing in the car.

Rather than going to the walking track......the one thing we probably MOST needed to do today for the sake of our health.....we drove straight home. (It is on our agenda now for first thing tomorrow morning before Dell returns to work.)  I sat down on the living room sofa to catch up on world news on tv and Dell went to his home office to play computer games.  Within minutes we had both fallen asleep, me with head in hands teetering on the edge of the sofa, and him with his chin on his chest while sitting in his office chair......not the most comfy of sleeping positions, but we must have been worn out from the wind as we each slept for over an hour, discomfort and all.  I woke up when I eventually tipped off the sofa onto the floor and he when he heard the crash coming from the living room where I connected with the coffee table on my way down.  Yes, I am fine, just embarrassed..........

Dell slipped on the ice outside the garage door before we ever left home.  He is okay but smashed the side of his leg against the door jam, effectively removing a swath of skin from the side of his leg.  

We are too old and clumsy to live anywhere that has winter!  That is my conclusion based on this afternoon's travel about town.  Do I  hear an Amen?? 

Spiritual Serendipty

On Sunday my husband spent some time in the pulpit talking about some of the reasons for and the ultimate good that can come out of unexpected suffering, trials and annoying inconveniences.  Although God sometimes permits us to suffer for reasons that we did not bring on ourselves, there are times when redemption can be found in the midst.

That afternoon he met with a young couple who had experienced one of those times of redemptive suffering.  A few years ago the young man's family ranch was devastated by an outbreak of BSE in cattle around the globe.  They suffered financial hardships, had many struggles about what to do with their land and ranch and generally wondered what they had done to deserve such a disaster befalling their family after several generations of hard work and clean living.

The young man meeting with my husband said that the disaster forced him to look for another line of work and he wondered what he would do.  However, thanks to the BSE outbreak, a new veterinary school was built in his area for the purpose of researching and treating cattle and their diseases.  He was able to get into their training programme to pursue veterinary medicine.  After he began his courses he met one of the other students....a lovely young woman that he is preparing to marry.

He was able to set aside his confusion and bitterness as to why God would allow his family to suffer through no fault of their own, why they came so close to bankruptcy due to the plunge in world cattle sales when their own livestock were not infected.  With the restoration of the ranch he is now not only able to return to the work he loves, but he brings with him the ability to care properly for his own livestock. He and his wife to be will be able to work as well in veterinary medicine in their area.

His life and his character were changed for the better by a situation that seemed tragic at the time.  He is grateful to God.

Not all suffering results in such obvious ultimate joy and restoration of fortune, but if you are suffering unjustly in some form perhaps it is good to start to look for possible character and life changing outcomes that are better than the immediate pain and sorrow.  Perhaps when life seems grossly unfair it is good to look back at how other times of suffering have changed us for the better.

There is no formula to guarantee joy coming from all suffering, no pat answers to be given when trials occur in our lives, but perhaps looking for possibilities of what we can learn and change because of them is a place to start seeking redemption in our circumstances.

Monday, February 18, 2013

I Would Choose to Change My Diet I Think......

After watching the video linked below I had a discussion with a friend who is now living on natural organic foods because the chemicals in our processed foods are so dangerous. I agree with my friend's dietary choices, however, after watching the video below I would actually like to send a few crates of processed foods to the people in this video who risk their lives every day in order to eat mussels....from under the ocean....way up north....... Which of the dietary choices, mussels or chemically processed foods do you think is more dangerous in the long run? Don't answer yourself until you watch the video.  YIKES!!



For Those of You in Church Choirs....heehee

Here are some church choir seniors with a terrific sense of humour: 
 

Who thinks of these things????? 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pavlov's Dog/Suzie's Birds!

The snow and blow, ice rain, frozen slush and drifts are once again upon us.  Travel is once again not recommended for most of the roads in the area.  Sigh.........we had planned to make a sneak trip to the city to check on my parents who are still experiencing some large hurdles, but not to be.  Curses....foiled again......as the old saying goes. haha 

So....the birds here......hahaha  Over the past month we have noticed some hilarious behaviour at the feeders.  It seems that none of the birds, other than one particular nuthatch who will eat anywhere at anytime, will approach the feeders outside the kitchen window until the blind goes up in the mornings!  We have done some sleuthing to see if we are correct or if it has simply been a coincidence, or if we haven't been conscious of them being there when we look out the other kitchen windows or the patio door, all of which give us good views of the feeder but without the birds being as conscious of our presence on the other side of the pane.

Nope, it is more or less official:  until the blind over the huge window closest to the feeders goes up the birds do not come to the feeders.  It doesn't seem to matter how early or late in the morning that blind is pulled up, the birds do not appear until it is.  

Today I didn't get the blind raised until after lunch over at the church hall....nearly 1:30pm.  There were still no spilled seeds from the feeder on the deck, there were no bits of broken nut or sunflower shells.  The water in the bird bath had not been disturbed nor lowered in level.  I stood quietly and gazed outside and sure enough: 30 seconds later there were little redpolls, finches, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers and our first spring robin (who probably wishes now he had stayed wherever it was he came from for a few more weeks!) all appeared at the feeders.  Seeds, nuts and discarded shells began to fly everywhere.  4 finches jammed themselves into the birdbath along with the robin who has discovered, like his predecessors, exactly where the heat tape runs along the side of the birdbath and will keep him warmest.  Some of the cheekier redpolls like to flutter right outside the window peering in. Today I had a swarm of the little things there.  I felt like they were telling me, "'Bout time you got home and opened that blind!!"

I have never before wondered what birds were thinking.  I have never cared much for or about birds in general.  Since I came here and my husband put those feeders up I notice not only how many song birds we have in this province, but also the huge snowy owls sitting on the power poles as we drive along the highways, the types of hawks and eagles we get in this area, the thousands of land gulls that pass through on their migration routes each year and turn the cultivated farmer's fields from deep brown to brilliant white when they land en masse.  The speed of the birds of prey and their attack methods are fascinating to me.  The hidden iridescent feathers of the blue jays have my attention for the first time.  Protecting our little flock from baby hawks and kitty cat predators has become a life goal.

Me.....and birds........who'da thunk it???  I have posted entries about our birds previously but it is still a source of amusement to discover how fond I have grown of these winged beasties, both large and small.
 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Over-spiritualizing?

I was listening yesterday to someone talking and it struck me that one thing I am really enjoying about my present church involvement is the lack of what I call "constant over-spiritualizing".

What I mean by that is a constant flow of chatter that brings every event of every day under scrutiny as to what involvement God has in the way things happen; analyzing each daily word and deed in an attempt to find a spiritual meaning. 

For example: (and I am not kidding, this question was really asked of me once and it is typical of what I hear in some church circles) What did it mean in the spiritual realm when I got soaking wet in an unexpected rain storm on my way to the grocery store?  What was God trying to teach me? What should I learn from this experience?
Weeeeelll, perhaps it wasn't actually God's intention to teach you anything here, at least nothing particularly spiritual. Perhaps what you need to learn is to check the weather report before you go out walking under grey skies?
How about this possibility:  it didn't mean anything.  The rain coming down was simply rain coming down.  It is just what happened in the annual weather cycle.

I remember a fellow my husband worked with once.  He truly wanted to be the best disciple of the Lord he could be.  He prayed before every move he made every day.  Nothing wrong with that.  However, when he began praying after every coffee break on the job site as to whether or not it was God's will for him to return to work at that exact moment, my husband informed him that the end of the coffee break time was indeed the time to return to work if he (and God) wanted to keep his job.  No prayer required in order to figure that one out. Sometimes the deep spiritual analysis isn't necessary.

The constant flow of "what is God trying to say to me through" this, that and the other thing became a bondage to me in former years as I sought my way through the maze of church denominations.  This kind of constant analyzing, figuring, guessing, wondering about every small detail of life and conversation nearly drove me crazy.  I am not criticizing Christians, or any other spiritual people who live out their spiritual lives in this way, it simply doesn't work for me. Looking for God's will and plan under the lid of every coffee pot, worrying that I am paralyzing God in my life if I miss it, isn't good for my peace of mind. 

I admit I don't think God really has any particular special plan for me in my choice to wear either my black or my brown winter coat when I go out to shop.  I trust him that should it be important on any given day that he is quite capable of guiding my hand to the coat of the proper colour. I don't need to know ahead of time by some sort of divine revelation so that I don't make the wrong choice. When God is involved is isn't all about ME any more. 

It seems that when we are constantly freaking out over what is and is not God's will in the course of living our daily lives we are putting ourselves into the terrible bondage of fear that says if I myself do not figure out the will of God in every instance of my life then somehow God will be incapable of guiding me....in other words, without ME discovering in advance every detail of what I am to do and say God is powerless in my life. God then is not omniscient.  God will not do his will in my life unless I first figure out in every small detail what his will is.  Without my brain and analytic powers being actively engaged and aware of all of his will all of the time I am doomed to failure.  God will condemn me.  At one point in my own life I realized that if I heard the expression "the centre of God's will" one more time I was going to scream.  What would happen to me if I was actually living "off centre" sometimes and what did that expression "centre of God's will" actually mean anyway?

It also seems to me that when we are constantly stressed over whether or not we are following God in every way every day we are simply trying to regain control over our own lives.  To me it seems often to be a subtle grab at taking back the power of God to lead us and restoring our own ability to decide what should and should not be going on. Constant concern about whether or not everything I do and say is in Gods exact and perfect will does not give me peace...it wakes me up in the middle of the night with upset stomachs.  God has promised to guide me and for me that means unless I am deliberately choosing to be disobedient to what I do know he wants of me then he is able to do so whether or not I understand all the details with my human mind.

Are we so distrusting of our Christian circle of friends that we feel they will criticize us if every conversation together is not directly centered on the will and moving of God in our lives?

It is certainly difficult sometimes to trust a Heavenly Father we can't physically see.  Sometimes it would be wonderful if every detail on life's path was set before us in an understandable way.  But if that was the case there would be no need for the faith we Christians claim to be so hep on.  My own opinion is that if God claims to be trustworthy in his ability to guide us into what he wants and big enough to overcome our mistakes when we miss the boat, as we often do, forgiving enough to still love us when we are deliberate in our disobedience, then I think I can trust him to lead me even if I am not conscious every second of every day of what is going on in the spiritual realm.

Some people thrive on constant God Talk.  They truly blossom spiritually when they can chat happily away about how God is at work in the rain and their coat colour and the and the and the....  No worries my friends. Go for it.  But I personally do not thrive in that kind of conversation.  I am not offended by it, I simply can't participate in it for hours at a time.  It stresses me out.

I enjoy my church congregation who can talk about God and his will but who can also just take the rain, when it comes down on their coats of whatever colour, as simply what happens to be going on at the time.  Not every detail of every day is a big spiritual issue for them.  There is an automatic assumption that God is involved in the universe and in their lives.  There is no need to prove it with a never ending stream of God chatter. They are at peace with life and what happens or doesn't happen.  This is where I personally fit as far as church life.

There is still lots to mull over in the course of seeking God's will in various circumstances of course, obviously I still have a lot to learn about God.  I just find it less stressful to be able sometimes to discuss the things of life from the perspective of "just because it did" without the ongoing spiritual colour commentary.

I am at peace these days......at last.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Another "Special" Day Alone

The number of holidays, anniversaries, birthdays and other so called "special occasions" that have my husband in one place and myself in another, has become our family's big joke!  haha  And.....here we go again.  Thanks to closed icy roads trapping him in the other town overnight last night and likely again tonight, I get to spend Valentines Day alone again this year.........can't wait to see what happens on our birthdays and anniversaries in the spring. There is ALWAYS something to prevent our celebrating such events on their actual dates and days.  After years of this the fun is finding out, sometimes at the last minute, what is going to interfere with our personal plans.  It is such a regular occurrence that rather than being bothered by it, we just laugh and laugh.  

As far as being alone on Valentines Day this year....again.......don't feel badly for me because it is not so dire.  We don't celebrate the day so I am not out anything. It is just one more occasion for us to be in different places doing different things at a time when the people around us are celebrating their togetherness.  Okay, okay, I admit to a bit of pride arising in our inner beings that we can be so detached from phony greeting card company extravaganzas.

Actually I was able to make good use once again of my time alone.  I completed the final cooking spree for my parents.  My freezer is so full I doubt I could get an empty ziplock bag sandwiched in there!! (Is that some kind of pun??)  Now, if the roads will just cooperate soon for me to deliver the goods to my folks......

I made a corn and bacon side dish as well as 5 shepherd's pies:  3 beef and 2 chicken, all with different combinations of vegetables tucked in under the whipped potato topping.  Happily there was a bit of leftover so for lunch I am eating ground chicken with corn, gravy and cauliflower in a great big bowl.  It doesn't look particularly appealing with the pasty chicken, white cauliflower and grey mushroom gravy with corn niblets floating around in the mash.  But it tastes AMAZING!  And since my husband can't eat corn it is mine..........all MINE!!  Nyaaaaa haaaa haaaaa.......

I am aghast at the number of dishes I have dirtied in the past 3 hours of cooking frenzy.  Now the dishes have got to be washed and dried and put away.  Yes, that is what I will do now: my Valentines Day gift to my husband will be a nice tidy, clean, dirty dish free kitchen counter.  YES!!!  I would rather have a clean counter to look at than a violent red, heart covered card any day of the year!  

The only thing I truly miss by not celebrating Valentines Day is the box of gooey sweet chocolates that make me feel ill every time I get my hands on one and make me wish I hadn't eaten all that sugar.

Dishes in the sink.......here I come!!

Ash Wednesday Service a Hit for Me!

I so enjoy the Ash Wednesday service in the Anglican Church, the start of the examination of my own sin, how it relates to what happened to Jesus and his crucifixion, the season of lament.  The service is a short one but a very powerful one that causes me to start digging deeply into my life, to rediscover that connection between Christ and why he had to suffer for the sins of the whole world.  Until I became an Anglican I did not really understand the need for times of lamenting before the rejoicing over the risen, resurrected Christ.  It restores, for me, the real joy of celebration of that resurrection.

Here is a brief excerpt from the Ash Wednesday service in the Anglican Book of Alternative Services, pages 281 and 282:

"Celebrant: Dear friends in Christ,
every year at the time of the Christian Passover
we celebrate our redemption
through the death and resurrection
of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lent is a time to prepare for this celebration
and to renew our life in the paschal mystery. 
We begin this holy season
by remembering our need for repentance,
and for the mercy and forgiveness
proclaimed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We begin our journey to Easter with the sign of the ashes,
an ancient sign,
speaking of the frailty and uncertainty of human life,
and marking the penitence of the community as a whole. 

I invite you therefore, in the name of the Lord,
to observe a holy Lent
by self-examination, penitience, prayer,
fasting, and alms giving,
and by reading and meditating on the word of God."

And, following the confession, after going forward to receive ashes placed on my forehead in the sign of the cross:
(page 285)

"Celebrant: Almighty God,
from the dust of the earth you have created us.
May these ashes be for us a sign
of our mortality and penitence,
and a reminder that only by your gracious gift
are we given eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.  Amen"

"Celebrant: Accomplish in us, O God, the work of your salvation,
People:  That we may show forth your glory in the world.
Celebrant:  By the cross and passion of your Son, our Lord,
People: Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection." 

AMEN

In most of my former church affiliations there was great focus on the resurrected Christ and nothing wrong with that of course, but there was little to zero time spent in lamentation, in focusing in on the details personally of our own sins, and certainly little attention given to the sins of our collective church community.  The ashes that were smeared on my forehead on Ash Wednesday reminded me that I too am part of this church community and it is time to examine my own ability to relate to my fellow Christians and repent of words spoken, actions taken or not taken in this past year; to approach God with an attitude of repentance to receive his forgiveness and his strength to act in that forgiveness within my own church community. 

I have much to repent of; Easter will be a particularly joyous celebration for me this year.  I am grateful that we have a crucifix in our home, a reminder of what Christ suffered for me, for us.  I was always taught that crucifixes were not very good and that it was best to have a Christless cross hanging on the walls in celebration of the resurrection.  Yes, that is a wonderful thing to represent: Christ is no longer on the cross, he didn't stay there, he was resurrected of course.  However, when I see the representation of his suffering while still on the cross it has a far greater impact during this time of lament. On Easter Sunday I will bring out my Christless cross and remember that resurrection and what it is to mean to my life and to the life of my church.  But for now I am properly somber in this season of lament, in the refocusing of my thoughts and life on why Jesus had to suffer in order to be resurrected and what that all has to do with my life and church.




Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Great Blog Post on Guilt and Shame

I have just read a wonderful post on the suggested differences between guilt and shame and why separating them into 2 different concepts matters so much. 

Please do yourselves a huge favour and head over to:
cheesewearingtheology.com 

Look for the new post titled:
Shame, Guilt and an Evangelical Sexual Ethic

Bad Weather Widow

There are "golf widows" and "career widows" and various other descriptions of women being left alone, in the lurch or otherwise abandoned for other interests and other reasons.  Today I am a prairie "weather widow".

The day started off beautifully.  It was -2C outside with a bit of a breeze, little bits of snow and thin ice were melting in the warmth.......aaah, it was lovely.  Dell was preparing for a trip to our other church for the Imposition of Ashes service on this gorgeous Ash Wednesday followed by a fast trip home for a vestry meeting here in town.

At 3pm it all changed.  He got a phone call from some vestry members who had just returned to their acreage after a 10km trip into town this morning.  They told him he may want to cancel either vestry or the trip to the other town or both as a sudden drop in temperature and a large increase in the speed and strength of the wind was turning the melty highways into a drift covered, icy slushed, low visibility disaster.  NOOOO!!  

My husband is nothing if not determined!  Within 5 minutes he had his bedroll packed up and all the necessities for life and church services stashed into the backseat of the car.  Shovel, water, candles and flashlights, snow pants, parka, suede mitts, extra toques and 50 Below boots filled the trunk and off he drove into the mess that is our highway system at this time.  He just beat the driving snow that hit here 15 minutes later.  After all the work he had put into tonight's service and the Lenten lunch service, substitute teaching at the college and evening Bible Study all in that same town tomorrow, there was no way he was taking on the stress and frustration of attempting to cancel or find new leaders for any of the previously scheduled and advertised events.

It took him nearly 90 minutes to drive the 60 km and by the time he got to his destination the car was dragging snow from the drifts underneath and behind itself, but he made it!!  He averaged 40 to 50 km instead of the usual 100km speed limit in ideal conditions, but he made it.  He is justifiably proud of himself.  After being tempted to feel like an old crock all week, he has now proven to himself that at least he can still rouse the ghost of the northern Alberta farm boy when faced with winter roads in such poor condition.

How grateful I am for the couple who warned him about the dire possibilities of venturing out of town today so that he was able to get out driving before conditions worsened.  He may not make it home tomorrow night either, but at least I know he is safe.  The church basement couch is comfy enough and he has a goodly stash of his favourite brands of tea in the church kitchen for the morning. Whew!! Thank you Lord! Dell with no tea is not a pretty sight!!

The vestry meeting was able to be rescheduled for next week and it means two of the members who couldn't come tonight anyway will then be able to attend....sometimes all things DO work together for good!

I will spend tomorrow all relaxed and removed from his job stresses and concentrate on baking up some shepherds pies and chicken pies for my parents. Really looking forward to seeing them soon and delivering some more goodies for their freezer.  Mom has her first cataract surgery next Friday so is in a bit of a state just now, but this too shall pass.  Only a few weeks later she will have her other eye operated on so I am praying and hoping for good results for her.  Dad is doing some better but unfortunately is still on a degree of morphine for pain so his food tastes rather terrible.  BUT he is talking on the phone and getting around okay.  Was able to taxi across town today for a haircut.......a long trip for his bad back, but he made it.  Hallelujah!  Slowly but surely.........

AND spring is on the way.....at some point this year.........hopefully.........  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Our First Robin!!!!

I am giddy with excitement this afternoon!  Perhaps the 3 out of 4 groundhogs who predicted an early spring are actually correct this year!!  WE JUST SAW OUR FIRST ROBIN!!

My husband shrieked at me to look out the kitchen window a few minutes ago.  He was hollering something about a robin and when I looked up there was a big, sleek, red breasted male sitting on the frame of our deck net-house.  He is a gorgeous bird, like one of those perfect photos you occasionally see posted on the internet or a high quality glossy paged bird identification book.  He doesn't appear to be one of the elderly robins that were left behind last winter when the birds migrated out of here for the season.  He is a younger male with unruffled rusty red breast feathers and bright eyes.  

YIPPEE!  Maybe we will only get one more round of colder weather before spring is upon us.  Wouldn't that be fantastic??!  

This big beautiful bird made my day!!

Maybe it will make up for the big gulp of disgusting smoke I just sucked in when I went over to the church kitchen....my husband is out in the alley behind the church burning last year's palm crosses for the Ash Wednesday services and the big fan in the window in front of the pancake and sausage grill is sucking that smoke right into the building. Aiiiiii yiiiiii.....

That wee dose of smoke is just enough to cause the glands in my neck to swell and my sinuses to close tightly by tomorrow.  Time to pray for deliverance from my usual allergic reaction so I can fulfill my priest's wife duties this week.

Maybe that bird is a good omen.....ya' think?

Amazing Classmates

This morning I found out that the now multi-billionaire founder of a women's athletic wear company is a former high school classmate of mine.  No surprise there:  so many people I went to school with went on to become rich and/or famous.  I am proud of every one of them.  I went to school in tough neighbourhoods.  Some of these kids had pretty intense backgrounds, working class, working poor, downright poverty.  Some came from very wealthy families but made their mark on their own with little, if any, assistance from the family coffers.  The fellow I read about this morning I remember as a bit of a bully and he kind of frightened me at the time.  The positive side of those early traits have come out and he is now an amazing entrepreneur and philanthropist.

My highschool classmates have become well known actors, wrestling promoters, ballerinas, politicians, university presidents, artists, world class athletes, musicians, tv personalities and the like.  While I did not end up being among the rich and famous of my high school aquaintances, I am honoured to have known them before they became what they are today.  None of them would remember me, the shy mousey gal with the nondescript hair and wardrobe, but I remember them.  They weren't all stars in those days but they have all made something grand of themselves through a ton of hard work and never giving up in the face of early failures.

While I am not into namedropping about highschool days, it is a nice little moment for me when I hear of yet another international accomplishment by  former classmates as I can think to myself that I "knew them when".  I am thrilled for each one of them and hope that their lives continue to be as successful and happy as they have been in the past few decades. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

O Happy Day

How wonderful to have what I consider to be a normal day for a married couple.  Usually my husband and I are running around in opposite directions, each doing our own thing.  Although we have done less of that since we moved here than ever before (other than during seminary days when we were jammed into a 600 sq. ft. apt together) due to being down to 1 car and being in an isolated town, still today was nicely spent doing "married couple" things.  It felt good.

We slept in and did some talking about marriage and life, but before we were dressed and ready to finally start our day a friend called to say he would be here in 5 minutes: a mad scramble ensued to be dressed and attempt to look as if we had actually been up and going for much longer than we had been. (I wonder if my bare toes peeping out from under the hems of my dress pants gave us away.)  Our friend brought us a paper he had written on the Holy Spirit and so much wanted us to read (Dell for future discussion on the theological content and me for his use of English vocabulary and grammar).  We drank tea and chatted before he went off to work.  In the middle of that visit the daughter of a recently deceased parishioner arrived with some funeral details for my husband. It turned out she and our other friend had met each other last year at square dancing lessons so it was a jolly reunion in our kitchen.  To have somebody (in fact 2 somebodies) just drop in for any reason has happened so rarely here that it was a huge treat!

Then we were off for brunch at a local restaurant.  It was a lot of fun just sitting in the sunshine, such a rare occurrence these days (the sunshine, not the sitting).  Then we did some shopping and other errands.  How wonderful to be not in a rush for a change.  My husband almost got his full day off today.  

Back at home my husband had a a box of Japanese saw blades and electrical cords to go through so he could place an order for some new Japanese products with my cousin, who is wending his way home to Japan next week.  He sat at the counter in the kitchen visiting with me, sorting out all his "guy stuff" while I made some spaghetti sauce and some stew and cooked a roast.  How incredibly domestic we both were today.  The hot roast beef sandwiches we had for dinner were delicious and the gravy I made later on for tomorrow's fresh mashed potatoes and left over roast turned out so well....for a change!  Not a great gravy maker unfortunately but good success today. I love making gravy after the drippings have cooled so I can mix in the flour with no lumps forming to worry about! So we always have sandwiches for our first meal with a roast so I can make the gravy for the next day.  Hey, I am not a great cook so whatever works...

Then I had a nap. So of course that means I have a ton of dishes to wash and there will be another big load tomorrow.  Tomorrow I have to prepare a number of vegetable dishes with all the fresh veggies I bought today.  I am preparing to take quite a few frozen meals to my parents in the near future. Guess I will have to do that fairly soon as my wee freezer is full to overflowing and I am not sure how I will get the veggies in there once they are ready!

In other news:  
-waiting to hear soon from Dell's sister and brother in law who are returning from a trip to Florida, a place I have never been to and have no desire to go to other than to fulfill a dream one day of meeting an email friend I have never laid eyes on in person.
-one of Dell's cousins, a lawyer, has just been appointed a provincial court judge.  So happy for her.  She has worked incredibly  hard and this is such a wonderful achievement. Congratulations Kim!
-we have a funeral Saturday at the church.  The elderly woman who died was amazing!  She had such a wicked sense of humour and was always in good spirits, crocheting lovely items even after her mind began inhabiting another world at times.  She was wonderful to visit over at the Lodge, always happy to see us whether or not she was certain who we were.  I will miss her so much.
-Lent is beginning tomorrow with our church Shrove Tuesday pancake supper; Wednesday will be the service for the Imposition of Ashes, Lenten Bible studies and weekly Lenten lunches begin on Thursday and so on and so on and so on until after Easter Sunday. Every study, meeting and service has to be done twice, once in each church in each town.  I think what my husband gives up for Lent, like all priests, is any time off to think of, or do, things unrelated to his work!

So another incredibly busy Lenten begins.....