Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hmmmm....Maybe Only a Semi-Disaster After All

So the brownie just came out of the oven and I pulled off a little corner to try it.  Well, it has retained the flavour of chocolate.  The centre is moist....very, very moist.  The outside of the brownie is a bit like a surrounding layer of rubber that is sort of chewy.....very, very chewy.  It can be gummed with minimal effort into a swallowable bit of chocolatey "something", so........if it isn't "serve to company" quality it still isn't a compete waste.  I will eat it.  My husband will have a bit to make me feel good about myself and to remind me that if I have a baking disaster he too has to suffer so that whatever I made isn't completely wasted.  Yeah, for all intents and purposes, it is edible.  Maybe I can do this baking thing after all........?  Maybe next time I will try something that can be cooked in a smaller than this present 9X13 pan of rubbery, chocolatey goo I have to eat by myself.

Isn't One Definition of Insanity That You Do the Same Thing Over and Over Expecting Different Results?

I have had a gluten-free brownie mix in my cupboard for a couple of weeks and decided this morning would be a great time to make it, to celebrate our homecoming after a successful week of rest and fun and meetings.  We don't personally need gluten-free, but a few of our parishioners do, so why not, eh?

Now I know, I know, I know, there are a number of reasons why I don't bake and thus I also know that I know that I know I should refrain from that particular culinary task.

Unfortunately I neglected to think through my decision to go ahead and try again to bake something delectable....or at least edible to some degree. Sigh......dumb, dumb, dumb!!!!

Since the brownie was a mix and required only the addition of 3 eggs, some oil and some water, I was sure it would be okay. Mixes aren't really baking, right?  It is nearly impossible to ruin a mere mix, right?

O.....so, SO wrong.....

I dumped the mix into my largest mixing bowl, at least I got that part right and proceeded to add the other ingredients according to the directions. So far so good.  The instructions then said to mix with an electric mixer.  Okay, I still have one of those, eventually found it, secured the beaters and started mixing the batter.  

Well.....there is something wrong with those instructions. There has to be. I read them over twice before I started adding ingredients, read them again before I started mixing and still a disaster occurred.  As I got into the mixing I soon realized there was far too little moisture in the batter.  The batter slowly gummed its way around the beaters and then crawled up the beater stems right to the bottom of the mixer.  Sigh......aaaaargh!!  So I shut off the mixer and got a spatula to clean the beaters.  More liquid would have to be added.  The batter was so stiff and thick it was turning into cement, at least the part of the batter that had some moisture in it. The rest of the batter was still dry powder.

I pushed on the beater release button so I could wash them off properly before adding more liquid to the batter and starting again, but at the same time I bumped the "On" switch for the mixer.  The beaters flew around at high speed, throwing thickened batter all over the kitchen counter, the floor, the cupboards and even the ceiling. Somehow none of it landed directly on me or my clothes, but the rest of the kitchen looked like someone had put an icing bag filled with chocolate icing on the floor and then smashed it with a ballpeen hammer!  Sigh......ooooh nooooo....

I spent the better part of a half hour cleaning up all the mess.  O well, I learned one thing: the mop head DOES reach the ceiling if I stand on a stool.  Good to know.......I guess........

I was somewhat flustered by the time I got everything cleaned. The bell on the oven was ringing to let me know that the preset temperature had been reached long before, but nothing had been put into the oven, the moisture touched batter was setting up harder and harder and I felt like tossing the entire bowl right into the garbage....bowl, batter, spatula, mixer beaters, ALL of it.  

However I pulled myself together and ran about a cup of water into the measuring cup with the intention of slowly adding more moisture, a few drops at a time, until the batter had the proper consistency.  As I went to pour in the first few drops, a rather large bird smacked into the kitchen window directly behind where I was standing and it scared me so badly I jumped and managed to pour the entire cup of water into the batter.

Well, it dissolved the cement-like clump of batter sitting in the centre of the mixing bowl. That part was good. But then I had so much water in it I thought I was going to end up with gluten-free chocolate soup. Adding flour to absorb the excess water would kind of negate the whole gluten-free thing so....... Sigh........  Eventually I did manage to work the water into the remaining batter and put the now thicker, not completely soupy, mixture into a 9X13 pan to bake.

So here I sit waiting for it to cook through and hoping there may be some hope of salvaging an edible brownie from the mess....yeah...right....there's a real possibility.....NOT!

Why do I never learn to not attempt baking projects? WHY??? WHY???  WHY???  

Monday, July 29, 2013

I Can See Again! YIPPEE!!!

And also for FREE!!  haha  Delighted to not only have the lug on my lenses fixed, but also to have these frames sitting properly on my face for the first time!  The people in one of our vision clinics at home could not get my glasses set up, bent, twisted, formed, shaped in any proper way so that I could see clearly through the progressive lenses.  Lately I have been thinking I need another change in the strength of my lenses, but now that my frames are sitting on my face correctly I realize there is nothing wrong with my prescription.  YAY!!  It means that when our insurance is ready to pay out again in the fall for glasses, my husband will be able to take advantage of the plan this time and he badly needs new glasses.  All good news about glasses today.
 
Had a great morning after going to the vision clinic.  Got some shopping done on my own, including a couple of shirts for my husband.  They are his favourite 100% cotton, which seem to be more difficult lately to find in his size.

And now I am heading off to visit my friend post-heart attack.  I talked to him on the phone this morning and he sounds very well so what a great sign!  BBQ with another friend at lunch time and supper with yet another buddy.  One couple I really wanted to see and may not get a chance, but I did get to see them last time I was here....disappointing to miss them.  Maybe we can work in breakfast together tomorrow before I go home??  Friends are one of God's greatest blessings to me.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Well, I Guess If I Had To Break My Glasses on Holidays This Is As Good A Town As Any To Get Them Fixed!

Yes, 'tis true, I broke my glasses this morning.  The lenses are fine, thank goodness, but I ruined one of the  lugs. I put them down on the bathroom vanity this morning and proceeded to drop a large can of hair spray onto them.  The can smashed down on one of the lugs and bent it partly out of the front frame.  Fortunately I have been able to twist them sufficiently to stay on my face for the day, but it did make reading the music in choir this morning and watching more movies this afternoon a bit more interesting than originally planned.  haha

This is a good place though to have such things happen as there is an excellent place to go to have them repaired in the morning.  If this had happened at home I am not sure there is as good a possibility of getting them repaired without a 2 hour drive to the city and back.  So, that takes care of my morning tomorrow.  Hopefully it won't ruin a scheduled visit with another friend.  So grateful the lens didn't shatter or even get scratched when the can landed on it.  Double Whew!!

It was rewarding as always to be singing in the choir at church.  I don't know when I feel more appreciated than when I have an opportunity to sing with this group.  Church seems even more special than it all ready is when I can be in a choir.  The sermon was very good, by a local seminary student, talking about how the Lord's prayer is the link between our traditional liturgy and scripture.  I enjoyed it.

Watched a couple of movies this afternoon I enjoyed:  Parental Guidance was kind of cute, good for a chuckle or two, lasted about 5 minutes into Rock of Ages before we shut it off and went and washed our hands, then thoroughly enjoyed The Exotic Marigold Hotel.  I don't remember the last time I was able to just sit around with a friend relaxing with movies of many genres, snacking and laughing and having a complete break from the real world for days on end.  It has been a wonderful week for me.

All being well I am supposed to go tomorrow at some point to briefly visit my friend who has returned home after his heart attack earlier this week.  He was to be home by late this afternoon so I just pray all has gone well.

I just now realized that when we get home a couple of days from now I am going to be going into overdrive preparing for holidays the following week.  Laundry up the yin yang and have to be very careful not to over purchase on groceries so the fridge is cleaned out nicely when we leave.  Must cook all meals with freezable leftovers capacity!

So far a great summer and I pray the autumn will be long and warm. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Such Great Weather Here

Rain is predicted tomorrow...only one day of possible rain this week away.  What a blessing for me.  The temperatures have been perfect for me in the mid +20'sC and cooling down at night.  For this town that is a cool summer but it is just right for me.  Relatives and friends in Alberta have not been so fortunate with huge hail and thunderstorms, more predicted for today.  Wonder what is happening at home...but I can't do anything about whatever it may be so might as well not think about it and deal with whatever has happened when we return.  Looking at the weather patterns I am thinking we perhaps received our share of storms this time around.

One of my friends here that had a heart attack several days ago is recovering nicely from the heart attack, had a stent successfully put in yesterday, but could have bled out from the incision that refused to seal off at the entry site of the angioplasty equipment. It is located in a major artery. Fortunately he was fine but it was terribly painful to have to have a large clamp applied there for 6 hours yesterday while he lied perfectly still.  Aaaargh!  It must have been torture.  He has to stay around close to the hospital for a day or 2 before returning to his home town, just in case it opens up again. His ordained wife has been running back and forth between here and the city hospital, interring ashes at cemeteries, preparing to lead the church services Sunday and caring for her elderly father....no stress in her life at all~yeah, right!

Decided last night to skip the concert as we were just so comfy sitting around at my friend's place, munching on turkey wraps and watching movies.  Finally saw the film version of Les Miserables....good memories of the stage show but the singing was pretty atrocious.  Did enjoy it though, warbly nasal vocals and all.  Went on a "just before closing time" run to a couple of stores last night and found one copy of "Anna Karenina" about the time we despaired of finding it.  That will be this afternoon's entertainment.

A little concerned about the canoeing contingent today in case the northern storms hitting Alberta this morning pass through the lake country here, but they are grown men with lots of outdoor experience and should know when to get off the lake.  Better call my parents in AB today and see how they are faring in the midst of the storms.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Men and Their Canoes

My husband called me last night from the destination town, just as he and his buddies were about to launch their canoes and head for base camp.  He was so impressed with himself and the entire group for getting up north and setting up to paddle that I had to laugh and laugh after I hung up.  His pals were in the background giggling like a bunch of teenagers and I could actually hear the sounds of back slapping and congratulations on having made the long drive successfully.  Considering the possible road washouts from a couple of weeks ago that may have detoured them, it is possible all the congratulatory giggles and back slapping were actually warranted! haha  To hear my husband sound so happy and excited made my heart soar with relief that things were working out after some delays.  

I am having a good week as well.  Good meals and good friends and another concert in the offing tonight are making the days fly past too quickly.  Yesterday I went with a friend to see Reds 2.  It was very funny and we laughed our heads off.  It was an old fashioned sort of action movie, predictable as they come, but once in awhile it is nice to  be able to guess ahead of time the end results of various perils the characters find themselves in as the movie progresses.  That way I can concentrate on the witty dialogue, sight gags and other general silliness.  John Malkovich makes hilarious and expressive faces like no other actor I know and Mary-Louise Parker is hysterically funny.  

Tomorrow there will be visits with two more friends I have not seen yet this visit and on Sunday I get to sing in my former church choir in the morning service.  I think I will toodle off to Regina on Monday with a friend who enjoys Indian food as much as I do. She has a favourite place we are going to lunch at.  Then we have a movie planned and....of course.....drum roll please....MORE shopping.  hahaha  Other than a couple of books I haven't purchased much at all, but what fun to look at all the interesting gadgets and goo gaws and women's wear items for summer.  At least I found the dress shoes I need, the one purchase I was truly counting on making.  My feet will be happy!

The only mar on my otherwise flawless vacation is it appears I have developed a somewhat dangerous side effect from my new osteoporosis medication,  so I am not going to take my weekly pill tomorrow and will call my specialist as soon as I return home.  Of course all this is happening right before we are to leave for holidays, so I am hoping like mad that I can reach him before then. I also need to contact one of my local doctors to find out if perhaps rather than the meds my symptoms are indicative of something more serious....aiiii yiiiii.  Talk about bad timing!  I am NOT going to miss seeing my son on our holidays for medical appointments and tests.  I am NOT!!  I hope...........

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Heading For the Lake at Last...Him; Off For a Nap...Me!

The big morning for the start of the canoe trip has arrived...the past week has crawled by as 4 very impatient men waited on their work schedules and other complications to finally get this show on the road.  They are leaving town right about now I believe, van packed to the roof with gear and 5 days worth of meals and and and and and....they should reach their destination in about 8 hours and then spend an hour loading the canoes onto the van roof.  By about 9pm they will hopefully have paddled to their base camp and be setting up just before twilight.  4 very patient wives (at least I trust I have been patient) have hauled them into town and around the t0wn here over the past 24 hours, collecting last minute items, helping each other organize their packing and getting the rest of their lives prepared to be on hold for a few days. The pile of gear and the number of hours of preparation and packing up they spent for this trip, you would think they were on their way to Mount Everest!  4 middle aged men going on a short canoe trip seems to require far more gear and time and preparation than it did when they were in their 20's.

However, who am I to complain or to mock them, right?  Yesterday I was able to get together with a good friend.  We have been very excited to get together and go rodding about the town.  So, where was our first stop?  It was at a pharmacy for prescriptions and then for extra added fun we each took our blood pressure on the pharmacy's free machine!  The excitement of having our blood pressures in the proper range was so overwhelming that after our lunch we both returned to our places of residence and had a nap before the evening's concert with Saskatchewan Express.  

Saskatchewan Express is a group of older teen singers and dancers who go about the province promoting their province's goals, values, scenery, lifestyle and what have you.  We sat there watching these young people, mere kiddies who all looked like they are 10 years old, chuckling at their overt sincerity, their little blunders, their attempts to perform incredibly taxing choreography while retaining enough air in their lungs to make their song lyrics understood.  We looked around at the audience and realized how very old many of them were and then we looked at ourselves and realized how very old we are getting to be.  

So, a day into my trip and a 10 minute excursion into a pharmacy, followed by lunch, a nap and a concert have exhausted me.  I am feeling 10 years older than I even am.  Getting up at 6am to deliver my husband and all his gear to the main meeting place with the other guys has also tired me out.  No committments with my friend until after lunch today. I think I will go and have a nap.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ooooh, He's on a Roll

Hee hee hee  And now my husband's reading glasses are broken.  He dropped them on the floor, then accidentally stepped on them and broke off one lug.  A few minutes later the other lug fell off and that was the end of those cheap drugstore glasses....what to do for reading glasses on the trip??  Well, there are a number of drug stores in this town where he could get a replacement pair for about twenty dollars, no big deal, but oh no!  He doesn't want to get another pair when he has 2 other cheap pair back at home all ready. So, he pulled a cord and drawstring grip out of one of his auxiliary backpacks, split the cord at one end, attached one of the two ends of the cord to each side of the lenses and voila, he can tighten them into place by adjusting the attached grip behind his head.  While I am not much to look at myself, no fashion plate, I did tell him I will not go out in public with him wearing that arrangement on his head and once the canoe trip is over those lenses are going into the garbage....and so are the two lugs.  He all ready has a way to hold down broken tub drain plugs without needing those lugs to jam them shut!!

Slippery as Eels

Lately I have been providing my husband with no end of amusement when in the process of attempting to take my daily medications.  Either my fingers have lost all their grip or else pharmaceutical companies are making those darned little pills to be a lot more slippery than they used to be.

Yesterday I tried to take my once weekly pill for osteoporsis.  It is oblong rather than round, so that should make it easier to hang onto, right?  Not in this case.  By the time I finally got the pill into my mouth to be swallowed it had taken trips to the top of my desk, down under the computer keyboard, my office carpet and then it played hide and seek in my office garbage bin, which fortunately had just been emptied and disinfected. Sigh..... Fortunately, since washing pills off is an invitation to dissolve them between my fingers, I have a strong stomach and don't worry if there is a bit of dust or lint left on them after rubbing them on my pant leg after pills have gone on personal adventures between the leaving of the pill box and their eventual arrival in my digestive system.

Lunch time meds were no more accommodating.  I had them wrapped in a clean piece of tissue in my wallet so I wouldn't have to go through my luggage to find them mid-journey.  I was having a snack in the car and thought it would be fine taking them there.  First of all I managed to tear the tissue as I was removing the little bundle from my purse.  One of the pills bounced out and fell into the depths of my purse but I was able to locate it before it got dirty.  Then I dropped it into my open wallet, into my change purse filled with coins who have all been touched by who knows who, who knows where.  I wiped it off with the edge of the tissue and decided to risk it.  But then I dropped it again on to the floor of the car right by my feet. Sigh.... This time I spit on it a bit and brushed it with the hem of my shirt, ignoring the bit of white streak it left on the fabric, and managed to swallow it down.

At dinner a pill escaped me once again and fell on the restaurant table top.  Eek!  My husband didn't realize it had fallen, thought I had put it there myself rather thoughtlessly, so he grabbed it and put it on the napkin by my plate....THEN asked me if I had any hand cleaner in my purse he could use.  Thanks for your assistance honey...greeeeaaat....  I closed my eyes and swished it down my throat with some luke warm water from my blotchy looking glass.  I figured by the look of the glasses and utensils at our table that we were doomed to contract some fatal disease anyway so might as well ingest that blasted pill.

This morning at breakfast I managed to keep my pills clean and deposit them on my clean breakfast plate to take after eating.  When that time came I took them...one..two.......where was number three??  It wasn't stuck to my fingers, it wasn't on the floor or the table top or under the coffee maker or under the edge of anyone's plate.  I was completely bamboozled until I heard my husband giggle and saw him point at the orange segment I was about to pick up to eat.  There was the third pill stuck to the side of the orange.....Sigh.....

Today my husband and I are not eating lunch together.  He will miss his usual noon time entertainment watching his wife trying to take her pills.  My friend who is dining with me will have that pleasure today.  It will also be her laughter I will hear when I inevitably spill food on myself during our meal.  

I had better go now.  I have to wash the curry stains out of the blouse I was wearing at dinner last night.  Sigh..... Oh, that it was just the dropping of pills that presented a meal time disaster......

My Inventive Husband (how to have a nice hot bath when the bathtub drain plug is broken)

Last night my husband wanted to have a nice long soak in a tub of hot water but the spring on the metal drain plug in this hotel room is broken and it wouldn't stay sealed no matter how he pushed and tugged and wrestled with it.

Not wanting to give in to a mere broken piece of metal and be stuck having a shower instead, my husband's creative problem solving skills went into high gear.  Out to our car he went. He returned with a couple of items, then scanned our hotel room to see what else might be available for use. 

The result was hysterically funny but completely practical and the result was a tub of steaming water for a good long soak.  What he ended up doing was wrapping the plug in 2 layers of plastic, one layer from a torn plastic bag from the car and one from the wrapper around a styrofoam coffee cup in our room.  He jammed the plug into place then strapped it down with a large strip of duct tape.  On top of this arrangement was an unopened can of black olives filched from his camp food pack and on top of the can of olives was the ice bucket from our room.  The water from the tap ran first into the ice bucket until it was full enough to overflow into the tub...like a poor man's fountain.  The weight of the water in the bucket pressing down on the olive can, pressing down on the plastic wrapped drain plug, was sufficient to keep the plug in place and prevent the water from trickling out.  My husband is a great problem solver, that is for sure.  

Me, I would have settled for a long hot shower...but I would have had far less laughs in the process!  

I reminded him this morning that it might be wisdom to refrain from telling any of his camping buddies this week where that can of olives has been!!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Thanks for Praying....Yup, We Found 'Em!

The elusive pair of lenses have been located.  Whew!  Thank you God and thank you friends and family for praying.

They were in the back of a drawer full of things my husband rarely takes a look at, but on Sunday morning he had opened it to check for something he thought he would need on his camping trip.  Since they are his middle range lenses and he needed to read some small print on a bag from the drawer, he took them off and lay them in the drawer, dropping the bag in and slamming the drawer shut when he realized he was about to be late for church.  

So, mystery solved.  Prayers answered. Lenses found.  And so with that happy detail taken care of, off we head for his camping and canoeing and my visiting and shopping.  It is going to be a grand week!!  Looks like the weather may even cooperate........most of the time....yeah! =)

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Ongoing Saga of My Husband's Glasses....

Still looking............

We have indeed reached "ludicrous speed" (thank you "Space Balls") on this one.  By early afternoon we gave up the search and have been concentrating on getting the remainder of the food items packed for the trip, running last minute errands, weed whacking out behind the garage, ironing, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.  A not quite 4 day canoe trip is still a huge event requiring hours of preparation, particularly for my husband the Master Chef of the Outdoors!

The Master Chef of the Outdoors is going to have a heck of a time preparing meals for 4 when he can't see in the middle distance. He can fudge on the canoeing with his distance glasses and read instructions with his reading glasses but the rest of the time could be veeeeery interesting indeed for everyone on the trip if his missing glasses aren't found.

We have reached a point of being able to laugh about this and not worry. Once we have asked for prayer we always relax, even if the answers to the prayers are not what we expect.  
And isn't that so often the way with God, eh?  Oh we all get answers, but sometimes they are so far removed from what we think they should be, how far from what we hope for...until we realize how superior God's answers actually are.  We don't always understand his answers even at that, but somehow the peace that comes after committing a situation to prayer and including the prayers of others,  makes the outcome good....even when it really isn't appearing to be all that great.

I remember years ago when my husband was on one of his many trips overseas to work.  The first day he was gone on his 3 month tour of duty I lost my entire key ring....house, post office box, parent's house, suitcases, cars........all gone.  I had one extra car key so that was fine, but I freaked out.  My husband reminded me where we had hidden the extra house key and I was able to purchase another post office box key, but the rest were lost forever I assumed.  I tore the house apart, pulled the lining out of my purse with such ferocity I nearly tore it and shook everything in there out onto the floor....did that twice in fact.  No keys.  So for the next 2 weeks I was forced to learn to cope with not having spare keys in place and doing without several other gadgets that were on that missing ring and that I needed to use nearly daily.  At the end of 2 weeks I grabbed my purse to go out and dropped it.  It fell upside down, opened up and dumped everything out onto the floor....and one of the things it dumped out was my key ring.  Why was it there when it definitely had not been there for the previous 2 weeks???  I had prayed, my prayer circle had prayed and we did get our answer at the end of that 2 weeks but why hadn't it been in that purse the first 2 times I dumped it out and pulled the lining inside out to be sure the key ring  hadn't just attached itself into a hidden place in a corner or somewhere?

Maybe losing these glasses is like that.  My husband will find new ways to cope with his vision on this trip if they don't turn up.  It will certainly force him to finally make an eye appointment when he gets back!  He is in big need of one.

Maybe there is no "bigger picture". Maybe they are just lost and that is that....life simply happening.  

The prayers are great to have whatever the outcome. Prayer connects us as believers.  We feel a big need for prayer these days....maybe the prayers for the missing glasses will bring about connections about other matters, more important matters.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Playing Hide and Seek With My Husband's Glasses

When my husband contracted Chronic Fatigue Syndrome many years ago, we spent many a day searching for things he would distractedly put down somewhere and then not be able to find later....usually it was his wallet.  We haven't had to spend a lot of time in recent years looking for his misplaced items, but today has been unfortunately reminiscent of those old times.

Today it is his glasses that have gone missing.  My husband has never been able to adjust to progressive lenses and so is now carrying 3 pair of glasses at all times:  distance glasses for driving, reading glasses and a pair of middle distance glasses that have completely disappeared.  They disappeared sometime this morning, we THINK, while he was getting ready to head out to our other church for service.  He "remembers" (yeah....suuuuuure he does...) seeing them in their place this morning on the little rack he keeps his glasses on when he is not wearing them. He thinks he remembers taking them off for something just before we left the house and he did run back into the house from the garage to get them, but couldn't see them anywhere.  They haven't been seen since.

Drat!  We have spent literally hours tearing the house, garage and local church office apart searching for them.  We have prayed and searched and prayed and searched and searched and searched.  We have taken the big trouble light out to the garage and searched between the car seats.  We have removed almost everything from each of the bedrooms and my office to look behind book cases and shelving units.  We have ransacked his canoe packing "stuff" and still no sign of them  

So, praying family and friends, could you join with us in asking the Lord to tell us where they are?  We have prayed back his wallet many a time in the past, eventually finding it in places no one would ever have thought to look...once we even found it in the wood scraps pile at the workshop and we discovered it just before the pile was taken to be burned!  How it got there no one knows.  We had it returned once by a man at a movie theatre who saw it on the floor on the way out and "guessed" rightly in all that crowd of people that it was my husband who had dropped it...since nothing was missing from it we believed him.  It was returned to us once by a store owner AFTER it had been actually stolen in a different store all together and all that was missing was a few dollars in cash.  Surely the glasses can reappear as well.  Not sure why group prayer is needed for such a thing, but it often seems to be. Maybe it forces us to admit our weaknesses with memory and makes us vulnerable in a good way, I don't know, but would appreciate a prayer or two.   My husband needs those glasses.

Thanks MUCHLY!!

Taking Control of My TV Channel Support

The past few days I have sent a number of emails to some of the television stations I watch the most.  Or at least I have sent them to stations I HAVE watched the most until recently.

I have written to suggest that some of their station logos and their Live Tweet logos and advertising could perhaps take up less of the screen placement during scenes of actual programming.  While I honestly stated my number of hours watching their particular channels has dropped significantly since the introduction of these logos, I just as honestly do not expect my emails to them will make any difference.  Cynical?  Yup!

This afternoon I was trying to watch a nice relaxing movie after a very busy morning, but found myself so distracted and annoyed by a large advertisement on the screen during the height of the most emotional and gripping scene that I shut the tv right off.  The characters will have to grip their emotions on someone else's time today. So, another channel stricken from my cable package.  At 2pm during a movie, I don't really care that there will be live tweeting during a different programme happening at 10pm.  It doesn't annoy me that there is live tweeting during that later programme...I have no Twitter account so I don't care at all about it. What I do care about is that advertising for this event is posted, starting in the lower right hand corner of the movie picture and creeping several centimetres upward, for the entirety of the movie.

I am not complaining so much as making a decision to contact each channel that interferes with the picture of the shows being televised to ask if there isn't some other way to get their station logo and other information out there without messing up my movie picture and without covering over written dialogue for foreign films that also is at the bottom of the tv screen.  If nothing changes in a couple of weeks then I will exercise my option to choose and simply delete those channels from my paid package. It costs too much money to bring these stations into my home to then have to fight to see the very picture I am paying for.  

Several years ago I remember telephoning a station (remember those days??) and being told by their programming manager, "If you don't like it then don't watch it."  Good advice!  I don't, so I won't!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Empty Ritual? Are You Kidding Me?? Seriously...Are You??

The other day I was confronted by a well meaning and very concerned person who knows about and shares my evangelical background, but didn't know I am now involved in the Anglican church.  It was an interesting conversation.

"I can't believe you are involved in a church so filled with empty ritual.", said my friend.

Thus began a long conversation about this so called "empty ritual" which I find myself participating in.  I was rather surprised that she used that expression when, as it turned out, she knew nothing much at all about Anglican belief and worship.  I had no idea when the conversation started out what she was talking about....and she didn't either.

Apparently one of the things she was thinking of is our liturgy; something she has never actually read herself and has never seen being used in a worship service.  I was somewhat surprised by her vehement assertion at the start of our chat that I have fallen off the Christian path by participating in a liturgical service when she has no idea what a liturgical service involves.  Apparently the use of the crucifer, the wearing of albs and stoles, the priestly heirarchy, the set up of the eucharist table, the receiving of the host from the priest and the chanting of the litany also fall into the category of "empty ritual" even though she didn't start by asking me why such things are used in our services.  It was interesting to say the least to be accused of something I am not guilty of by someone who has done none of her own research into the practices of my church denomination. I am grateful to God that I was able to end up having a fairly reasonable discussion with her.

The use of the liturgy is comforting to me and I think I have blogged about that before.  Each and every symbol in the service, from the Eucharist table linens to the Eucharist itself, to the banners, to the "holy hardware", to the robes, to the crucifer, to the Eucharistic practices, to the readings, to the litanies, to the shape of the sanctuary, to the set up of the furniture, to the stained glass windows, to the candles, to the liturgical calendar, to the seasonal colours points to a grander spiritual picture than just what goes on inside our church walls.  Everything involved in our services has a reason, a meaning, a direction from God to us, from us to God and from God and ourselves out into the community.  Everything about the service is deliberately meaningful, intense, spiritually directed, from the order of service each week to the prayers to the annual arrangement of daily scripture readings.  How on earth could a service of such depth be considered "empty ritual"? I don't know when I have been so bamboozled by an accusation.

I didn't bother to explain to my friend that I left the evangelical church because for myself, personally, I found it devoid of continuity and depth, rather cold and seemingly without a strong hierarchy of leadership/accountability in many cases.  That is not to say that all evangelical denominations are devoid of such things.  My own experience in them was that way.  For other people those services are wonderfully fulfilling and edifying and that is how it should be.  We are not all the same and do not all respond the same way to the same kinds of worship.  Diversity is a good thing.  I am not interested in denigrating the worship experiences of my friends in their particular evangelical denominations. For me they simply didn't work all that well and I spent decades being far less excited about the church than I should have been.

Where we each attend church is not supposed to be a battle leaving us with hard feelings toward each other. It always surprises me when I am called upon to justify my choice for church and worship.  BUT my friend's motivation was just fine: she was attempting to "save" me from making what her church would consider to be a huge mistake in my spiritual life.  Her particular denomination is very strongly based upon having a "correct series of doctrines" and "righteous lifestyles", so those who are not obviously believing and practicing those particular things may be in spiritual danger and should be warned. Fair enough.  That is the way she has been trained to respond to people like me who choose the mainline churches in which to worship.  I am grateful she cares enough about me to want to warn me away from something that she believes is suspect.

She was not convinced when I explained to her what the so called "empty rituals" actually mean to Anglicans, but she was open to listening to my explanation and she and I parted friends as always.  I am grateful that she was able to hear me out and yes, she has every right to disagree with what I am doing, but her decision needs to be based on facts she can accept or not as having validity rather than on things someone else equally unfamiliar with our denomination tells her.  It is so easy for all of us to judge something based on a second or third hand report and make our judgements accordingly without doing our own research......in all areas of life, not just church denominations.  We all do it. It is a human tendency and I cringe to think how many times I have done the same thing...in all areas of life, not just church denominations.

I know the present state of our denomination when it comes to the authority and interpretation of scripture upsets a lot of people.  I definitely understand why some of our churches have pulled out and attached themselves to more conservative leadership. I also realize that some of our friends and family do not understand why my husband and I have not pulled out as well.  But we feel that each person/leader/church is capable of hearing how the Holy Spirit is directing them and all we ask for right now is the same credit for our ability to also hear the direction of the Lord that our evangelical friends and family claim.  My friend left our conversation the other day with an open mind that we are actually still capable of understanding how God is leading us and the recognition that she is being led in a different direction at the moment, but that it is all right for such things to happen.  It could all change for all of us at any time.

For now my friend feels fulfilled in her church denomination and I feel fulfilled in mine.  We can be friends despite differences. She realizes that I am not in a place of needing a change and I recognize that same thing about her in her own circumstance. She loves the open and free church services she attends where everything in the church service is different every week and there is a definite lack of the symbolic.  I enjoy the litanies that bond me to my church community in ways that didn't work for me in her denomination.

I am grateful for the chance to spread some facts her way and to have a chance to explain why I personally do not find the symbols and rituals in our church empty and devoid of meaning.  God is at work in both of our lives. It is all good.

Spiritual Question for the Day

Today's question is:  why is it sometimes easier to trust God at 3pm than it is at 3am??

Precious Rain

Overnight we finally had some glorious rain come down.  Don't know if we will get any more today, but it is so grand to see the water droplets shining on the green leaves and the remains of the grass that has been going brown for lack of moisture.  The temperature cooled off overnight for the first time in a few days, so we both slept really well last night.

The rain  has set my schedule for me over the next 3 days.  Today I will do the laundry, tomorrow after church the ironing and then Monday we can both attack the mowing and weed whacking.  No decisions to make over workaday tasks this weekend.  It is all good.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Dreaded Dreadful Dinner

I am shaking my head and laughing, albeit somewhat hysterically, this evening as I contemplate what may have gone wrong with the dinner I cooked.  I can't figure out what I did to it, or didn't, but it has to be one of the worst meals I have ever cooked.  HAHA haha haha haha.....

I had some ground turkey breast and decided it would be more fun to create a yummy sauce using eggplant, onions, zucchinis, potato and tomato sauce, than to just make turkey burgers.  Should have stuck with the turkey burgers...sigh....what a horrible meal we ended up with.

Did I not sautee the onions and veggies sufficiently before adding them to the frying meat?  Did the "50% less sodium" tomato sauce also have 50% less flavour?  And what about all the herbs I added?  Where did their flavour disappear to?

I knew all the veggies and the turkey are quite bland and adding them together would require especially large amounts of herbs and some long time simmering to blend the flavours properly.  Since the only fresh herb we can get here is the occasional pack of basil leaves and even they are not necessarily all that fresh, I chopped up a fair amount of that to add in.  I change all my packaged dried herbs every 3 months to ensure I am not adding tasteless stale herb mixes with nary an essential oil left among them, so before I added several HANDSFULL of herbs to ensure a good flavour I sniffed the odor coming from the packages, poured some of the mix into my hand and sniffed again......great smells. All would be well.

All was not well.  I boiled up some vermicelli noodles, put them into fancy china bowls and spooned the sauce liberally over the top.  It looked so beautiful, smelled so Italian....and had no flavour whatsoever!! Nada! None!  Zilch! Zero!  Nil!  

My husband was so kind about it after waiting until after 7pm for his dinner tonight.  He took a couple of bites, stood up and headed to the refrigerator, returning with the cheese grinder and a large piece of hard parmesan, which he proceeded to grind very liberally (how do you spell m-u-l-t-i-p-l-e t-a-b-l-e-s-o-o-n-s?) over both our heaping bowls of noodles and sauce.  It helped the flavour for a couple of mouthsfull but.......still not great.  So he chopped up the rest of the "fresh" basil leaves and we added them next.  A bit of improvement, but still not the most tasty dinner ever made.  More parmesan, ground black pepper......and then in desperation he finally went and got the big bottle of Louisiana hot sauce. Sigh...when the hot sauce comes out he is really desperate for some flavour.  I felt terrible after his long wait to eat. I felt terrible that it took that much vinegar to give the sauce any sort of recognizable flavour.

I have spent the last 45 minutes trying to figure out what happened for sure.  While I have been thinking I have also been adding more herbs to the remains of the sauce.  Of course I made a huge pot of it since there will be little time to cook over the next few days.  I poured on the chili powder and added paprika, and the last bits of the basil leaves.  Tomorrow I will add more Italian seasoning and simmer it all up again in hopes for a better taste to come out of that pot.

Well, what can you do but laugh and try to fix the disaster, right?  See me? I am laughing. Laughing, laughing, laughing some more...
HAHAHAHA  hahahaha  hahahaha hahahaha....sigh.....

Better luck next time I guess....... 

I Know I Am Old Because.......

.....I don't know who anyone is anymore under the category of "celebrities and stars"!

Last night I caught part of a television programme where contestants on a game show had to earn points by identifying various celebrities and stars from a series of photos.  I counted 12 people to be identified.  I knew who exactly 3 of them were.

This morning I looked at a list of names of celebrities and stars to be on the look out for in Vancouver in the coming weeks; celebrities and stars who are filming movies and television programmes.  I recognized George Clooney, Seth Rogan and James Franco.  The rest......NO clue whatsoever!  I have heard of Channing Tatum but couldn't put a face to the man (woman??) if my life depended on it. The list dragged on endlessly, name after name of people I have never heard of before.  My husband was, if possible, even more clued out than myself.  

Oooh, we are old.......OLD I tell you!!  There is no point any more in watching awards shows because, well, who are these people anyway?  We are so removed from the wonderful world of modern entertainment that we have reached the status of "dinosaur".   

 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

So Looking Forward To Next Week

I am sitting here trying to stay awake until it is a more reasonable time to go to bed for the night.  As tired as I am, if I go to bed now I will wake up to start my day tomorrow at about 3am.  Not that I don't often do that anyway, but no point in deliberately setting it up to happen, right?

On the other hand, as tired as I am, I may not fall asleep any too easily anyway.  I have been watching my husband packing up his gear and preparing some of the freeze dried groceries for his canoe trip with his outdoorsy friends next week  and it is reminding me that I too get to have a holiday away with friends of my own.  I get to drive him to base camp to meet up with his buddies and then the car is mine, all mine during his trip.

Tomorrow I will send out emails to some of the friends and start setting up a schedule for visiting.  It is nice that not all of my friends work during the daytime so I can see some of them then.  Have decided not to over schedule myself this time and just enjoy some time to hang about in a few stores on my own that would be of no interest to most of my friends there.  I have 7 days in my hotel and it is great to know I have that place to go back to any time I want to rest or have time alone.  Am looking forward to worshipping in our former church next Sunday.  It will be fun to take an hour at the second hand bookstore and deplete the remains of our outstanding account there by getting some good books to read. 

I survived my 5 days alone here last week when my husband was at camp and survived them fairly happily, but I can't do 10 days of it, particularly with no car.  When I go away next week I will have our car to scoot about wherever I need to go.  I will be able to access many places I wouldn't be able to access on the little transit system there.  I can go into the nearest larger city for a day if I want.  I have a friend there I can see if she is around.  Hopefully I can be busy enough to not worry about my husband's health and safety and that of his friends while they are away.

Yup, getting excited.......but now I am finally getting sleeeeeeepy.....time for bed.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thrown For A Bit Of A Spiritual Loop

Recently I was having a conversation with our Bishop and he suddenly stopped right in the middle of our conversation to ask me, "So, what is God saying to you these days?"

His question threw me for a total loop because it came right out of nowhere in relation to what we were talking about at the time.  It is the kind of question a person feels she should have a complete, coherent, incredibly "super spiritual hero giant" kind of answer for, but no answer formed in my brain nor came out my mouth. Instead I sat in my comfy chair gaping at him like a chubby fish.

I was so stunned to have absolutely nothing to say by way of an answer that I couldn't think at all.  The room turned kind of whitish, my vision blurred and the sound of rushing wind filled my ears.....my usual panic attack kind of reaction.  

Right now I can't remember what kind of an answer I gave him; how I fudged on a direct answer to his direct question.  I doubt I had him fooled for a second into thinking I have been consciously hearing from God's Holy Spirit in the past while, but he didn't press me to say more.  That much I remember, bless him.

It isn't like me to have no answer to any question, particularly a question pertaining to God and life in the Spirit.  I could have at least told our Bishop something like "I'm not sure" or "I don't know".  Couldn't even get either of those lame-o answers to come out between my lips.

However I have wondered ever since just exactly what God is saying to me these days about life.  The question should not have been so difficult to answer.  Usually I am quite conscious of God and of the circumstances of my life that reveal his will and his love for me; I hear his voice in the voice of others in the church; I read the Bible and understand some of its principles for living as a Christian.  This time, when asked that direct question, I had absolutely no clue how to answer.  It really shook me up.

I have no doubt God is trying to talk to me about something.  He usually is.  His Spirit is good about nudging me to make changes in my own life and attitudes, to assist someone in need, to pray, to give, to worship and praise Him for all manner of reasons or for no other reason at all other than he is worthy.  Lately though I am drawing a blank on the "conversational" side of our relationship.  I have peace when I pray so I suppose that is a good thing.  I feel calm about life.  I catch myself sometimes seeing a need to apologize about something, or to encourage someone else, or to serve in our church in some new small way.  Those are all good things, but I wonder what else, if anything, my Bishop's question was meant to stir up.  Guess I will find out as I continue to listen more closely to that still, small voice of God.  I admit sometimes he has to shout to fully receive my attention.  Hope he hasn't had to resort to beating his fists against the pearly gates in his frustrated attempts to shake me out of an apparent spiritual stupor.

After the ordinations last weekend I was sitting eating my lunch with our Bishop and as we ate and chatted about the service he suddenly stopped and asked me what saint he had talked about in his sermon.  Ahhhh....fortunately for me I heard the voice of God whispering into my ear this time and I boldly told him it was St. Henry of Finland.  Whew...dodged a bullet there, thank you Lord. I WAS listening to the sermon. Hopefully I am redeemed in my Bishop's sharp eyes.....hopefully....my Bishop is very spiritually astute.  He unnerves me that way.  I shouldn't be unnerved by this gentle soul who wants only the best for all under his spiritual care....but I was after his question about what God is saying to me these days.

Okay God, I'm listening........please prepare me for whatever it is I need to hear and obey.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Crazy Summer Days

After the chaos of the past month at work, I assumed my husband would at least try to take both his days off this week and that he would spend them sleeping and tinkering with the church computer repairs.

How happily wrong I was!

At 10am Monday he realized he was missing his last chance to pick up the rest of the necessary supplies for next week's canoe trip and by noon we were on our way to Calgary to shop!  The excitement from doing something spontaneous (FINALLY) on a day off, plus the perfect weather for driving so many hours, made for a fun trip. The sun was shining but it wasn't too hot.  There were a few puffy clouds in the gorgeous, expansive blue sky.  There wasn't a drop of rain anywhere along the route.  

We surprised my parents for a 60th anniversary dinner.  Dad isn't able to go to a restaurant any more so we told them to choose their favourite meal and we would order in.  They admitted that what they really wanted, rather than something fancy, was the monthly special at Swiss Chalet.  So we celebrated with quarter chicken dinners and lemon meringue pie.  hahaha  Not quite what my husband and I had in mind, but if that is what my parents wanted that is what they were going to get. Mom and Dad were very happy.

The next morning we breakfasted at a cute little old diner, The Belmont and had the best hashbrowns ever.  The bacon on the breakfast sandwich was well cooked, there was REAL cheese on the tomato slice and the egg was grilled up perfectly.  My warm "iced tea" was no thrill, but my husband enjoyed his properly brewed Earl Grey tea.

We ran a couple of errands for my parents, visited a bit more with them, then hit the camping supply stores with a vengeance!  By the time we arrived at the fourth store I was too tired to keep going, so sat in the car on another wonderful summer day and read my book for awhile.  We drove all over the city shopping.  For me, we took a few minutes to check out one of the new Target Stores.  Well, they may be "just" a discount store but they are huge competition for WalMart...or will be if they keep up the level of staff/service/cleanliness and product lines.  It is a good thing we didn't stay more than a few minutes because in that few minutes I managed to spend over one hundred dollars on things not on our list of "things to buy in Calgary".  The casual women's clothing lines were up to date and even included dresses for the season....many styles. There was a distinct absence of elastic waisted polyester pants!! Hallelujah!!  So, WalMart, look out!  Target has an added XXLarge size in their regular women's clothing department and that is fantastic for moi!!  Shopping in the same department as other slimmer women was a good boost to my feelings.

After my husband ran out of camping supply stores to go to and we had collected the rest of the needed groceries for his trip, we stopped for a late lunch at a small Lebanese diner.  The wraps for the "sandwiches" were properly grilled before being filled with chicken and falafel and pickled turnip and peppers and all manner of other yummy veggies.  Just the perfect size lunch and to be able to eat a restaurant wrap sandwich that is not all doughy and gummy from lack of fresh grilling was a treat!

A quick stop for an oil change for the car and we were on the road again at 3:30pm.  We came across a place rather serendipitously after getting mixed up as to the location of the place....in through the back door in fact!

We chattered like magpies again all the way home on that long boring drive and the time flew by just as quickly as on the way down.  Again the weather was wonderful for travelling.  We did see one of the big storm chaser units closer to home and found out there had been some horrible storms to the south and east of us while we were gone.  

Our breakfast and lunch had both been so fulfilling we didn't bother eating dinner last night.  We had a piece of toast closer to bedtime and that was it.

So today my husband is leading Bible Study at one of the senior's complexes and then doing some home communions.  This afternoon he will have a ton of emails to work on and get back to fixing the rest of the church computer problems.

My son has just over 2 weeks of school remaining for this term. WHERE DID THE PAST 2 MONTHS GO?????  We are still working on our passport applications we felt we should get in case he had any trouble at school and now he will be back in his home city in less than 3 weeks time!! We won't get passports now until he has been home for a couple of months! How embarrassing is that???  I think we will just pay the big price and get the new 10 year passports. Really everyone needs one these days even if there is no travel on the horizon, just in case....you never know.....

Prayer requests: safety for my husband on the canoe trip that is coming up and safety for our holidays in Aug., AND that miraculously there would be time during holidays to clean out the garage COMPLETELY and get rid of any and all accumulated junk in there!  When I look into our garage I have a Charlie Brown reaction:  "I can't staaaaaand it!!"  THANKS!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

It's All Over But the Nap!

Well, we made it!  The huge ordination service at one of our churches hath ended and my husband and I are still alive to tell the tale.  WHEW!

After ten days of lightning fried computers, inkless, paper misfeeding printers, incorrect information, lack of information, absences from the parish from all service leadership until late the evening before, lack of sleep, lack of knowledge that an extra unplanned for lunch for 20 visitors was expected; but then the incredible fortitude of our parish ACW ladies who planned for 50 guests and ended up feeding 80 guests, the obedience of other ACW gals who felt strongly they were to bake some things that were not on the official menu and bring them along, our curate's wife who was to make an African dinner for 6 clergy but prepared enough for 20 people and thus guaranteed we could feed everyone, the set up for kitchen helpers by our ACW president, the time for me to find and prepare food for the unexpected luncheon and on and on and on it went.  GOD IS GOOD!  That is all I can say.  No one apart from a handful of church folk had any idea what went on for the last 10 days, the aborted attempts to have things done ahead of time, the disasters and near disasters.......God IS good!

Having overnight company arrive at the rectory 15 minutes after the big celebration ended was a great ending to all the stress of the past month.  My fantastic friend arrived and I was able to download, decompress, laugh (if somewhat hysterically), remember old times, share the hilarity of all the things that went wrong before the ordination service...just what I needed.  We went out this morning for a huge brunch and it was so much fun!!  My husband was able to come home after the big event and fall into bed without worrying about abandoning his cackling, giggling wife who couldn't gear down early enough to go to sleep at a reasonable time of night.

In the end it turned out so very well.  We are both so grateful to everyone who pitched in to make things work, sometimes at the very last minute, sometimes unexpectedly...whew....what a good group of people we are ministering to in this parish.  They saved our bacon on this one and they made our Diocese look organized at a time when things couldn't be in much more disarray while major office changes are going on.  Thank you Jesus!

And now, at last, to sleep!!! 

Congratulations Jason!!

Fantastic wagon race Mr. Glass.  Finally it is your well deserved turn to win!  'Nuff said!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Husband Home for Final Ordination Service Prep.....YAY!!

The Man is home from camp looking amazingly refreshed and happy, the stress lines on his face and dullness in his eyes replaced by tanned smoothness and a return of brightness.  He told me that he found this week a change really was as good as a rest, despite the horrendous busyness of the week with the kids.  He particularly enjoyed mentoring one of the 11 year old boys who was kind of lonely and being picked on my his older brother and friends.  My husband is always particularly relaxed when he knows his ministry has accomplished something with discernible results...and who isn't happy in such circumstances, right?

He is in the church office resetting computers and printers for printing off the order of service for tomorrow.  He is still awaiting the last of the information he needs to print them up tonight....we will be up until after midnight I suspect getting these huge booklets put together.  Maybe we will be up longer than that...actually that is highly likely....been down this road before.

The city clergy that are travelling out here to the outposts of the diocese are going to get an eyeful of how we out here in the sticks manage to pull everything together at the last minute, flying by the seats of our pants, yet still seeing a decent outcome. The ACW ladies have managed to put a snack luncheon together for all the guests and prepare sandwiches for the city travellers to drive away with when everything is over.  Those people are facing a ten hour round trip tomorrow. I purchased supplies today for their arrival lunch and a neighbour "just happened" to bring me two dozen large and tasty eggs from the local Hutterites that I am currently hard boiling to add to the three types of salad and the two choices of bread.  The Thai noodle and vegetable salad interests me the most.  Yum!

I pray it isn't too hot in the afternoon as the church tends to be sweltering for most of the afternoon and the service is a long one.  As the pianist for this service I will be sitting in the hottest spot in the church so I am begging for mercy all ready! haha  Thanking God for cool summer cotton clothing.

The one thing we can't fix is the out of tune piano.  It chose this week to stretch a couple of wires in the intense heat of the past few days.  Oh my it sounds less than attractive.  Today when I practiced I reduced all the hymns to the bare minimum of notes, changed four note chords to three and even two notes in an attempt to minimize the obvious problems with the sound. In some spots the main melody will be highly emphasized with only one note in the bass to sustain it and pull the song together.  Having spent half my adult life playing pianos at venues where I had no chance to check out the condition of the pianos first I have become fairly adept at covering up keyboard disasters, so hopefully this will be one of those good times.

Now that my husband is back and so far is getting the last of the problems under control, I am starting to exhale and relax.

By this time tomorrow the ordination service will be all over and my friend from Moose Jaw will be here to spend the night.  It is like a reward for us personally for putting in the hours of prep for the service. It is great to have company to look forward to. That will keep us from the emotional and mental crash that seems to come at the end of an important and long anticipated event.  

It is all good......now.....since my husband is home.....   


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Late Night Ramblings

I took my walk downtown this morning before it got too hot outside but it was still plenty warm.  By the time I got home my back and legs were damp and my hair was getting stringy.  AND, just like when I mow the lawn and break out in allergy related water blisters from "that" tree, I was covered in them again and itching like crazy by the time I returned home.

Something in the local foliage or blowing in from the surrounding farm fields as wreaking havoc on my system this summer.  Each of the previous 3 summers I have lived here I have had mild skin related allergy itchys but this is the worst year ever........the water blisters are a bad sign that something is endangering my system and could cause me serious problems if the exposure to whatever it is continues.

The incredible exhaustion that has been building by the week this spring and summer suddenly makes sense.  Part of it can be explained as a histamine reaction.  It has taken me the past 2 days to vacuum and dust the house....a morning's task usually.  I can barely drag one foot in front of the other this week but now I am starting to understand why.  I guess every time I go outside to just walk downtown I am going to need another shower and change of clothes as soon as I get home.  Rats!!  BUT it is so good to find out what is causing all the problems with my general health this summer. I now have a plethora of anti-histamine creams for my skin and if they don't take away the rash completely, they at least remove the itch.  By the time I got back from downtown today I wanted to rip the skin right off my body, it itched so badly.  Little pink spots covered me from neck to thighs until I showered again.  Yikes!

Had a good talk on the phone with my parents today.  Mom finally was able to get and keep an eye appointment to get her new glasses after successful cataract surgery. No emergency runs to the hospital with dad nor more flooding to shut her down this time...although that almost was not the case....  I will be excited to hear how much she is enjoying the new lenses when they arrive in a few days time.  

Dad had his appt. with the osteoporosis specialist that has helped him so much over the years.  He confirmed our idea that Dad's fractured spine is causing his body to twist and sink over onto his left side.  I feel so sorry for Dad and wish he could fight this, but it isn't possible. All he can do is take pain meds and rest a lot.  Today he fell over one of the wheels on his walker. He fell because instead of using the walker he had gotten frustrated with it, had parked it in the doorway to the laundry room and was trying to walk around it. So far all he has to show for the fall is a scraped arm, but I wonder what kind of pain he will be in by tomorrow.  When he called and told me 5 hours later he was still shaking.  He told mom to keep her eye appt. though and he promised to stay on the bed until she got home. She went because of the emergency call button he proudly and faithfully wears on a pendant around his neck, at all times.  Mom is getting better at leaving him alone and I think he appreciates not being hovered over all the time, but we all worry about his falling down so often.  I have inherited his ability to fall over a blade of grass on the sidewalk....sigh....and I have inherited his osteoporosis. So grateful I also have inherited his bone specialist who is helping me so much too.

My husband gets home tomorrow. I think I have figured out a way to get those orders of service printed up for the ordinations on Saturday.  It is a bit complicated and requires moving and installing the office printers on my computer, BUT if my husband can make it work it will take less time and complication than running back and forth to the computer store for parts for the fried office computer.  Now I pray that the old printer from the office will be compatible with my computer and we can get the installation done quickly. My computer is kind of "sensitive" shall we say....

So, blah, blah, blah....I am tired....it is late...it is time to stop thinking about family issues and health problems and my husband's job stresses.  My skin is starting to itch again since the outside temperature cooled a bit an hour ago and I opened the windows in the house again.....wow, this is going to be a wierd summer and I pray when we start our summer holidays that I can get away from the triggers for my allergies and heal up a bit.

What a relief to finally figure out the source of the constant need for a nap!

Let The Music Play

One joy of spending a few days on my own is being able to crank up the tunes as loudly as I want so I can jig around to my heart's content, dusting and doing dishes, adding some joy to the mundane tasks involved in housework.  

However, I have decided that when a CD cover proudly announces that the enclosed recording "sounds as though it was live" it just means it is badly mixed!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What a Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood!

Today is a truly beautiful day.  The sky has been completely cloud free until about a half hour ago, the brilliant deep blue of summer is absolutely inspiring.  It is quite warm at the moment, +31C, but a bit of a breeze is blowing and that takes the edge off the heat.  In a few minutes I will be able to open the kitchen windows as the sun slides past them and around closer to the front of the house.  I have the procedure down for keeping the house cool:  bedroom and kitchen windows open at night for cross draft, close the kitchen windows by 8am and keep the blinds drawn until noon.  Close my bedroom window by 4pm, then at about 9pm open all the windows.  The hottest time in the house is about 4pm to 6pm no matter what order of opening and closing of windows and blinds, but the rest of the day and evening is comfortable due to the number of trees that shade the house from the worst of the bright sun and hot air.

For me the prairie is most attractive from about the first of June until just after the middle of July.  That is when the tree leaves are greenest, the buds and flowers deepest in colour and the crops lovely and green as they begin to grow. The neon coloured birds are passing through on their way north and it is like living in the tropics for the ten days or so that they make our side yard their temporary habitat.

By mid July the colours are fading again.  The blooms on the trees and bushes are finished, the leaves turning a more dull or silver shade of green and the crops are ripening to a browny gold.  Some respite from the duller shades of colour are the still blossoming canola crops but by the end of July that neon yellow will also have disappeared.  The most exotic of the bird species are long gone by then and we won't see them again other than for about three days in mid autumn as they race back south before the snow arrives.

By late August and early September, when the harvest is getting underway, the prairie is returning to its usual state of browns and greys.  It is no wonder I start dreading winter by the time harvest starts.  All that lovely brilliant green is on the way out for another season.  

One of the most beautiful little towns on the prairies from June to mid July is the town where we went to seminary.  I always felt so sad that most of the students and many of the staff were gone from the campus for summer break and holidays during that lush time of year.  So few people ever got to see the place at its beautiful best.  Our three summers there were most enjoyable and I was glad we lived right there instead of being only school term residents.  Very few people and lots of green leafy trees...a perfect combination for me during small town summers.  So few others ever saw the campus at the peak of its beauty that I felt like I was getting away with something special by being there then.

I took my time vacuuming the house today and washing the floors.  Every chance I got I stopped and looked out the windows at the pretty day.  It is to be just as hot tomorrow, hotter even, and so I will skip my walk uptown  for a couple of days when the temperatures are to cool significantly.  

 But maybe it would be wise to sneak in a walk in the morning before the heat takes over.  I do need to check the mail in case there is something important for one of the parish treasurers....yes, an early morning walk on one of our last perfectly green days.  It will give me a chance to try out my new organic, chemical free, mosquito repellent.  Sounds like a plan!  

Political Correctness and the Arts/Media

I've been watching what has been happening over the past few years with movies, television programmes of all genres, novels, visual advertisements etc.

I agree that it is very incorrect and completely insulting to non-whites to see Caucasians hired to play roles meant to portray Asians, African-Americans, Native Americans and the like. The days of Al Jolson and F-Troop are and should be over.  Stereotype brands of humour are only funny when being used by people of the very ethnic group they represent.  Refusing to work with someone based on their sexual orientation is also wrong.  Portraying all religious people as either terrorists or bleeding heart milksops or prejudiced against one and all is ludicrous.

What I am having trouble with is how terribly monotonous movies, tv programmes and novels have become as each attempts to be as politically correct as possible.  Almost every written or produced fictional scenario I have seen or read lately has been overly careful to include characters of as many ethnicities as there are people in the story,  the now requisite gay couple, the evil character (preferrably a member of a recognized religious group) who is cartoonishly biased against any or all of the above, paragraphs of dialogue that jarringly leave the personality of the speaking character behind to replace her or him with the author's (or somebody other than the character's) political opinion on how caucasian/ straight/religious people should treat everyone else...then zip, back to the personality of the character speaking...all in one page of dialogue or less.

It is all insultingly contrived!  I am so tired of being treated like a mental moron who has to be told how to think by people who assume that their audience is too stupid to think for themselves and too ignorant to figure out they are being squeezed into the tiny box of socially acceptable politically correctness.  It is insulting to be treated as a reader or watcher, as though I must indeed be so politically incorrect that I have to have that brand of correctness spewed all over me constantly.

People are just people. There are "good" and "bad" people in all walks of life, in all ethnic groups, within all straight and gay communities.  What I would like to see and read is a portrayal of ALL these types of people without authors, actors, advertisers and the like being, or at least feeling, forced to make some kind of political or moral statement every single time out of the gate. I would like so much to be able to watch tv or movies or pick up a novel and just enjoy the story, no matter what the ethnicity, morals or sexual orientation of the characters are.  

It is a complex issue and this is not a complex treatment of the subject.  It is simply my opinion about how I feel about being treated like an idiot for the sake of other peoples' sense of political correctness.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Perks This Week

There is something to be said for being alone for a few days in terms of my local social life.  Tonight I am going out for dinner, rather an impromptu occasion, with some fun filled seniors from our parish.  They found out I had not gone to camp with my husband and they wanted to do something just for me, so out for dinner to a rather nice restaurant we go!  Hmmm...I could get used to this!

Puppies and Ministry

Days  like today remind me once again that God does move in mysterious ways sometimes.  

My severe allergy to dogs is unrelenting.  Going to visit friends who have dogs requires me to start taking allergy and asthma medication for at least 3 or 4 days prior to the visit and then again for a day afterward.  It is one of the areas of my life where I have occasionally experienced temporary relief when I had no time to take meds before the exposure, but I have not experienced permanent healing despite years of prayer.  So, I accept it as my "thorn in the flesh", as Saint Paul so practically put it.

However, it is so like the Lord to put me in situations where I end up making unexpected contacts for sharing the love of Jesus despite my own problems.  Runaway dogs have often figured in that sort of ministry.  Today it happened again.

I was walking home from downtown this afternoon when I noticed, about 3 blocks ahead of me, a tiny dog racing full tilt down the sidewalk toward me, a young gal hot in pursuit.  The girl was falling farther and farther behind as the puppy continued running as quickly as he could, tongue hanging out, exuberance at his freedom shining out of his every pore.  As the distance between us shortened I could see the girl panting, tiring, crying with frustration that her little dog would not come to her when she called.  

So, I prayed she would soon recapture him.  Well, of course, as usual, the dog spied me and headed for me as fast as his little legs could carry him.  He pulled up to a full stop at my feet, becoming still so quickly I nearly fell over him.  "Please, please can you grab him?", gasped the exhausted teen girl who was still half a block away.

Of course I could.  The dog wasn't moving at all, just staring up at me and blinking.  So I reached down, nabbed his collar, gave him a little pet on the head and waited for the girl to catch up with us.  She was so out of breath she could barely squeeze out her wheezy  little "Thank you, thank you. I am late for the doctor and my mom is waiting to take me"  She picked up her dog, who began squirming immediately, wanting to be let down for some more fun running about.  I shook my finger at him and told him to settle down "in Jesus' name", which he did.  The girl thanked me for praying, then carried him back, trotting along as quickly as she could without falling down from lack of breath and I continued on my way back to my own house.

Me and run away dogs.....my main claim to ministry fame.  Every town we have ever lived in runaway dogs have come at me, stopping at my feet to be picked up and returned to their owners.  It is bizarre.  It is kind of cool.  As usual, even though I had touched the dog I didn't sneeze, I didn't start wheezing between the incident and when I was able to get home and wash my hands.  

I started remembering our next door neighbours from years ago and the number of times the same type of incident occurred between them and their dog and me, but with even more chance to share about Jesus' love for them and for their puppy.  Even at 4am, heading out to help them capture their dog after it escaped in the small hours of the morning, so we could all get some more sleep, there would always be that extra few minutes to share about the odd event of me praying for them and their runaway dog and being able then to capture him when none of them could do it.  They thought I was completely nuts at first but more things happened to help them realize that praying to Jesus perhaps has some power to it.

Haha......me and dogs and asthma and ministry....life is never boring is it?

Bizarre......and awesome....and God inspired.