Friday, January 31, 2014

Just for Today I Wish I was Chinese!

Today is Chinese New Year, a typically colourful oriental celebration.  This is the one day of the year I wish I was Chinese so I could participate in the day, a day of colour and noise and exotic foods and fun.  On a freezing cold and windy day like we have here today, the temptation to wish I was someone else, partying all day, is strong!

Days like today, as I watched some of the New Year celebrations on the television newscasts, make me grateful that although I am not Chinese, I have plenty to celebrate.  Being a follower of Jesus means I get to celebrate him with the rest of my Christian community every time we get together.  That includes church services as well as the parties and dinners and potlucks and fundraising events.  Every service we have includes singing and joy, expressions of love and acceptance of each other as brothers and sisters in God's kingdom.

Even when I am at home alone I can celebrate.  I can celebrate because I am one of the creatures that Jesus died to save.  I can celebrate because his body didn't stay in a tomb, but was resurrected to show us the power of God and give us hope of our own resurrection after death.  I can celebrate this every day of my life.

Even when I am in dire circumstances that make me feel less than celebratory I have reason to celebrate hidden away behind the pain or despair of the immediate circumstance.  I can celebrate that no matter what I experience I am never alone....good, bad and downright ugly times in life do not separate me from my creator, Father God. 

I can celebrate every miracle, every provision, every healing, every solution to a problem I have ever experienced and that my friends and family in the Kingdom have experienced as God works in us each day.

I can celebrate earthly life.  It is a gift to be alive, to have the chance to know Jesus and his people, the good, the bad and the downright ugly! 

I can celebrate eternal life; life that continues on in a different form after my earthly body has given up and died. 

LIFE on both sides of the Kingdom!!  Earth and Heaven!!



Thursday, January 30, 2014

Good Webinars From the Canadian Diabetes Association Interhelp Programme

I decided to participate in a series of monthly webinars sponsored by the above.  It is very easy to do.  All you need is a computer that supports the Adobe upgrades and a telephone line.

Last night's webinar was about Diabetes and your eyes.  While it didn't tell me a lot more than I had all ready been told by my optometrist, it did fill out some of the gaps in my information.  It was interesting to learn what some of the new testing techniques are all about, what exactly the doctors are looking for in the photos of your eyes.  What interested me the most was how many eye diseases are either the result of, or worsened by diabetes.

The other information that was very good to get, although it was the most frightening as well, was a series of statistics about what percentage of diabetics tend to develop what eye problems, as well as the fact that most of these eye problems become common among diabetics who have had the disease between 12 and 15 years.

There was good basic information given about necrovascular glaucoma, cataracts, macular edema and the most serious, diabetic retinopathy.  Some of these problems do not present with discernable symptoms to the patient and can only be detected during annual eye examinations.

I also learned that each one point drop in a diabetic's A1C test can drop their probability of some of these eye problems by as much as 17%.  That is another motivating factor for me to work very hard to keep my test results under 7.

I learned that the Manitoba provincial health care plan covers part of the cost of diabetic eye examinations, while Saskatchewan's does not.

 The webinar was only 1 hour in length, just long enough to sit still and just enough information given to absorb and take notes about.  Apparently if the participants would like the slides that were used in the presentation they are available to us.  At the end of the presentation our telephones were unmuted by the presenters and we were able to ask questions, or just type them into a small screen beside the slide presentation on our monitors and have them answered by the presenters.

I enjoyed it and will definitely sign up for the next one on February 26 on Diabetes Burnout.

This is a 6 month series of webinars for Type 1 diabetics and type 2 diabetics covering a range of topics. They are on Wednesday evenings once a month at 7pm Central Time.  You can register for the rest of either of the series or both of them (plus get additional information) at the following link:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

You Know You Have NO Life When.......

.........You open the kitchen drawer to get a clean dishcloth, discover a brand new, never before used dishcloth in all its vibrant coloured glory and you experience a joy tantamount to the joy felt at the birth of your first child.

This happened to me.



Whompin' Up a Mess o' Vittles (or "Victuals" as the Case May Be)

I've been getting lazy in my food prep over the past week.  Usually I have a long day of cooking once a week to prepare meats and casseroles so that there is always something in the refrigerator or freezer that can be quickly prepared when I need to eat in a hurry.

Today is a food prep day.  It has been a grand morning cooking up some beef, potatoes, carrots, zucchini and broccoli.  In the oven are two summer squashes, there is a turkey pie thawing for cooking later this evening as well as a processed ham.  The processed ham is not something I can eat, due to the salt and fat content and my husband can't eat more than a taste of it because it was cured in a dextrose mixture, but cooked and thinly sliced it is a big hit at church potluck dinners.  We have several of those looming in the next month so I will be prepared.  The turkey pie is a nice old fashioned style with diced turkey meat, potato and mixed veggies.  There is not much for herbs other than a sprinkling of salt and pepper in the filling, plus the crust is pure lard and flour, so I can only have a token slice once it is cooked, but that small slice is a treat. My husband really enjoys "tarting" it up with some Mrs. Ball's chutney or some Major Grey and can eat half of it in one sitting quite happily.

One slice of that ham will be taken off once it is cooked and used to flavour some pea soup my husband is making on his next day off.  He does make a great soup so it is disappointing that I will be able to have about a half cup of it to keep my carbs down to a proper count, but at least I can try it.  That bit of dextrose from the ham slice shouldn't bother him if he stays clear of foods he is sensitive to between now and his day off:  NO SNACKS at our aftcr church coffee hour on Sunday!

I have defaulted twice at lunch times this week with bits of tuna for sandwiches and egg and tomato pita wraps with my one allowed strip of bacon.  Two defaults in a week is one too many so I have to get back with the programme.  Having food all ready prepared prevents my having to risk cheating on my meals.

Yesterday we had a wonderful visit in the afternoon with friends from our former town of residence in Alberta and it was a great time, but I realized when they left it was nearly time to eat and I had nothing prepared. Shucky darn, we just had to go out for dinner...sigh...such a shame...NOT!  It was fun to go out to eat now that we so rarely do.  I gave my garlic toast to my husband, had tea instead of milk to lose one carb so that I could have a perogy instead.  Ooooh, yum!!  It was such a treat.  Such a small package to contain so many grams of carbohydrate, but it was worth every delicious mouthful.  I discovered it is possible to cut a perogy into 8 wee pieces to stretch out the flavour and I ate the pieces like a condiment with my main meal.  When it ran out I stole half a french fry from my husband's plate, cut it into 6 wee pieces and quite enjoyed that as well.  Then I came home and exercised for a full hour to make sure my blood sugar stayed in line with the acceptable rise after a meal!!!  

I think now that is the way for me to watch The Blacklist....while exercising.  It is one of my favourite tv shows. it is exciting enough that it distracts me from looking at the clock to see how long I have been exercising and the exercise takes away the tension that I feel waiting to see how the plot for the episode is going to turn out.

Yesterday was a very fun day with company and eating out; regular activities most people enjoy without thinking twice about them, but here in the "outback" as I call the prairies, it is a great treat for me to do both things in one day.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Today's Favourite Words

befuddled    (confused, perplexed, addled as with alcoholic drink)

bailiwick     (one's sphere of operations or particular area of interest)

repugnant    (extremely distasteful or unacceptable; arousing disgust or aversion)

Healing Sleep and a Day Off

I am taking the day off today.  After checking the road reports for my husband this morning and seeing that his drive to our other church should be clear and safe, I am heading back to bed for awhile.  

I do not often receive the gift of a great night's sleep, but I did last night and I am not ready for it to be over just yet.  By 7pm last evening I knew I couldn't stay awake much longer.  I had the lights out by quarter to 8 and other than a brief wake up at 9:30pm to listen to the shouts of joy outside as the Pentecostal church youth played street hockey together, I didn't wake again until just before 7am.  This morning I feel like a punctured balloon; not ill exactly, but deflated and kind of raggedy around the edges.

So much bad news from friends this week and some stressful days for my husband in his work....I didn't sleep well for a couple of nights and the way I deal with stress is to work, work, work.  I deep cleaned the whole house yesterday morning, starting at 6:45am.  I ironed all the clothes from the previous day's laundry.  I cooked myself decent meals and did all the dishes in between.  I prepared more meals for today.  I blogged, I emailed, I balanced my bank book, I sorted clothes in my closet that are too big now to wear, I prepared the church bulletin, I wrapped up the large creche figures and boxed them for returning to storage, I did my entire slate of exercises after each meal.  In other words I went into my day early and kept going non-stop.

In future I have to keep a better balance in my activities.  Since my diagnosis I have been aware of how crucial it is to stay active, not spend too much time sitting about and becoming a couch potato.  The downside of this awareness is that I have been pushing myself too hard some days on top of taking on stress for other people and their problems.  I need to keep turning those stresses back over to God in prayer and remembering that my becoming stressed over other peoples' problems I can't solve is not going to help them, it is only going to hurt me.  It is God who knows their real needs and how to meet them, not me.

I am finished eating my breakfast now and my husband is nearly ready to leave for his long drive to church.  I am going back to bed for awhile for some more refreshing sleep.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Other People Are REALLY Suffering

This week has been not so good in terms of getting bad news from and about other friends and aquaintances.  Somehow the darkening sky, the dropping temperatures and the threat of blowing snow to come later in the evening all go along with my mood today.

A gal I met years ago, about the time I started going to church of my own free will, was diagnosed with a fairly aggressive form of MS some years ago.  After the terrible onset of her disease she went into a long, LONG, period of remission and we were thrilled for her. She had a great life for many years with only minimal symptoms. Then a few months ago she had a very bad episode as it returned in full force.  Her life has been hell for the past few months and there seems to be little hope she will experience any more good days.  

This afternoon I discovered that the wife of a pastor my husband used to work with has stage 4 lung cancer with other lesions and tumors appearing in other parts of her body.  She was not diagnosed until a couple of weeks ago so of course the entire family has gone into shock.  She will undergo an aggressive treatment plan but there doesn't seem to be a lot of hope for any sort of cure at present.

Added into the other bad cancer news from my friend here in town, and the MS news from a good friend far away, it all seems overwhelming to me today.  I know God will care for each of these women and do what he has to do in their lives, no matter how awful things are for them or appear to be to the rest of us.  I know that beyond doubt.  However, I am today obeying the scriptural admonition to grieve with those who grieve.  

A prayerful day.....a grieving I get older I am getting a clearer understanding of people in my age group and older who look forward to heaven as much as, or even more than, they do the rest of their earthly lives.

Friday, January 24, 2014

One Li'l Runny Babbit

A rabbit has appeared in my sister-in-law's back yard this winter. "It" ( not knowing its gender) is living underneath her overturned canoe.  This afternoon my sister-in-law and her husband, being kind hearted souls who grew up around animals, caved in and purchased rabbit pellets and some timothy hay to put under the canoe for their new "pet".  She wrote me an email about it, saying rather teasingly that she was going to have to name it if it was going to hang around out there.  As I wrote back to her:

I don't know what I would call a rabbit.  Hoppy seems more like the description of a beer, Jumpy sounds like the rabbit has mental issues, Skippy is too 1950's tv family drama and Leapy is....well....just stupid.

I think it is great there is a rabbit wintering over in that big beautiful yard.  My fear actually is that it is a female rabbit who will "go forth and multiply" come spring.  What on earth would my sister-in-law do with an entire brood of bunnies out in her yard?  What would the neighbours do when those bunnies began eating their decorator back yard plants in full bloom?  

In the last place we lived we were close to a highway median and there were rabbits galore living in the tall grasses, breeding RABBITS!  Every spring we had wee baby bunnies camped out underneath our car in the parking lot of our building and lived in constant fear of running over them with the car tires.  They ate all the blooms off my downstairs neighbour's spring flowers, leaving nothing but waving, leafy stems.  They left droppings all over the sidewalks and in the grass in the front yard. Eventually the city had to come and eradicate some of them.  That was a sad day.

I hope I am not extrapolating from my own rabbit experience and creating a ridiculous over the top scenario for my sister-in-law's situation at her home with her rabbit.  

I hope  her rabbit is a male.  

Just sayin'......

The UPside of This Crazy Diabetes

I am slowly losing weight.  The insulin tummy is disappearing; not rapidly but slowly and surely.  In the 2 months since the diagnosis I have lost nearly 15 pounds.  I feel so much better mentally and physically and of course the possibility of a new wardrobe once my weight stabilizes is very motivating to keep a close eye on my health.  Just because I am not a fashion plate doesn't mean I don't care what I wear.  With a trip to Vancouver coming up in 3 months time, I am planning all ready where I could maybe do a day's shopping.  It is incredibly exciting to have something like that to look forward to.

I am excited as well because we have old friends dropping in next Monday.  They will be returning from a trip to see elderly parents in another province.  It has been quite awhile since we last visited and how wonderful they are coming on my husband's day off so he will actually be here for a change to share in the visit.

Getting in touch with my high school friend has been incredibly edifying.  Her life is interesting and full.  Her family is lovely.  She has made a good success of her life.  We can share our spiritual journey as well. Her husband is also a church minister.  What a blessing to be in contact once again.  It has been over 30 years since we were last in communication.  

My parents are managing rather well at the moment.  Dad was stranded once again at the doctor's office this week when his taxi didn't arrive to take him home.  After an hour of frustration trying to convince the dispatcher to send another one, he gave up and managed to get himself home on the city transit bus.  I'm sure his back was in agonizing pain by the time he arrived home, but he made it.  Mom has had some nicer weather to go bus riding in and I am so proud of her that she is taking advantage of it.

My husband's family are getting their various health issues sorted out too.  

My son has healed finally from his bad illness and is working like a crazy man getting his school assignments done for summer.  He was blessed with sufficient funds to get his first installment payment made for this summer's final semester and is well on the way to having the rest of the tuition.  The fall of the Canadian dollar is creating an issue for him of course, but he has trusted God thus far for tuition and there is no reason to think something cannot be worked out for him.  Always a stressful time with the finances, but hopefully this will be the last time he has to make such gigantic tuition payments.  It is costing him well over twenty thousand dollars a year in tuition, art supplies and summer living expenses for a 3 year Masters programme that sees him on campus for only 6 full months in total. Yikes...I can only pray it will be worth it for him in the end and that he sees the fruit of his efforts sooner rather than later. He is on his way to LA soon for an art book fair, an annual event for him that he so enjoys.

The sun is shining.  It is on the way to +1C today.  Of course that means extreme pavement frost on the highways, streets and sidewalks, making it too treacherous for me to walk anywhere, but on the UPside of that, winter is at least half over!

My husband has another long, work related, drive out of town again tomorrow, but he has 2 other colleagues to ride with him.  I am so grateful he doesn't have to go alone.  I am grateful I don't have to go with him because there is little I can to to "waste" 6 hours in the town he is going to his meetings in.  I tried there once before and it was the longest 6 hours of my life!  O my, there is so little to do there and on a Saturday it is even more difficult to find places that are open.  I can only sit in so many shops drinking tea in the course of a day.

Time to go downtown and get my business done before my husband needs the car to go to a meeting.  It is a lunch meeting!  Those are the best kind.

Have a happy weekend everybody!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Cool Word

Here is a cool word from an ad on my Google mail.  

The word is "wamble" and it means "to move unsteadily".

Isn't that the most descriptive word?  It is so much more interesting than the word "wobble" and not nearly as overused.

I Must Still Struggle With Authority Figures

All my life I have struggled in dealing with people in authority over me.  In school I struggled with either extreme fear or extreme contempt for various teachers and principals.  I have experienced one type of stress or another under the leading or authority of pretty much everyone who has held such a position in my life, not really getting over that until I was in my fifties! Making the transfer emotionally from child to adult in the area of authority was difficult for me.

I thought I had it licked, but I had a dream last night that makes me wonder.  haha  My husband and I were in some kind of school dormitory.  We were the ages we are now and for some reason we were at the dorm to assist one of the college aged students in cleaning up her dorm room for the upcoming semester.  After we were done I went out into the hallway to await my husband while he and the student got into some kind of deep theological discussion...well now, that part of the dream was certainly based in reality. I am trying to imagine my husband NOT getting into some kind of deep theological discussion with a college aged student!!

Anyway, the time dragged on so I pulled a pen out of my purse and started doodling on a pair of rubber gloves I had worn while washing up the dorm room.  As I doodled, a man aged somewhere in his early thirties appeared.  He was some kind of floor dean and he was very upset with me for having doodled on my gloves.  He went into a rant about my childish behaviour and announced that I was setting a terrible example for the younger students.  What would the world come to if all the students in the dorm started doodling on their work gloves???  O my, he was upset, completely enraged.  He stomped off in a huff and I stood in the hallway completely stunned.

Then the anger began.  While I continued to wait for my husband I practised a deadly speech to rain down upon that mouthy, power hungry dorm dean.  I'd tell him a thing or two about how to address visitors to the dorm who were there to help out the students.  I'd let him know how a woman nearly aged sixty felt when treated like an erring five year old by someone young enough to be my son! I'd let him know that doodling on rubber work gloves was not a flagrant violation of any sort of school rule and that it was my own business if I doodled on my own gloves or not.  I'd let him know that I had the right to stand there and chew the fingers of those gloves of mine right off if I so desired!  I'd tell him this and I'd tell him that.....I'd straighten him out in no time flat!!

So of course the rest of my dream was about me running around the giant dormitory trying to find this authority hound.  As you can guess, I never did find him and when I woke up I was stressed, angry and very frustrated that I never got to deliver my speech to the one so deserving of my wrath.  It was quite bizarre.  I can count on four fingers the number of times I have awakened from a dream experiencing the same frustrations or upset my dream self had been experiencing.  It took me a few minutes to calm myself before getting up for breakfast.

Not sure where that dream came from.  I experienced my usual attack of nerves before my appointment with the dietician and the RN last week when I had my first check up on how taking my blood sugar counts was going.  I had some concern I may have done things incorrectly, just because I usually assume that until told otherwise, but I wasn't afraid of them or expecting any kind of weird confrontation.

So, I guess I need to carry on with my day and forget about the silly dream.  It has been cathartic writing it down, that is for sure.  I rarely remember my dreams and this one had me pretty wound up.  Aiiii yiiiii.....let's hope for much more peaceful, sweet dreaming during the coming night!

Roller Coaster Prairie Winters

After nearly a week of wonderfully warmer weather, not quite up to Alberta chinook standards but close enough, we have been plunged back into the deep freeze the last 2 days.  

From a daytime high of +1C only 24 hours ago, to today's windchill of -32C, actual temperature -24C, our bodies have gone into shock I think.  By tomorrow we are back up to 0C with 2 days of +3C and +4C, followed the next day by a high of -14C.  No wonder 'flu' season has been so devastating this winter across the prairies.  Saskatchewan has recorded 12 known deaths this winter from H1N1 or derivatives thereof.  I will be first in line for next winter's 'flu' shots, that is for sure!

However, all this pales when I see the news and weather reports coming out of the north eastern United States.  There are about 13 states reporting unusually bad blizzards, icy roads, deep snowfall and visual whiteouts from blowing snow along with temperatures in the minus mid teens.  When I see the videos on the tv news and see Washington DC virtually shut down due to bad weather it is kind of shocking.  

It would be easy to accuse them of just being too wimpy or to tell them to settle down and get with reality when I consider what our own weather is like here, but these people are not equipped to deal with their unusual weather. For us in northern Canada storms, white outs, and all the trappings of winter weather systems are the norm.  We have great huge snowploughs, down filled parkas, heavy lined snow boots, ice melt, sturdy shovels, wool mitts, studded snow tires and everything else we need to get through the cold days.  Watching smaller industrial bobcats trying to move a foot of snow off major highways in the USA makes me feel almost as frustrated as those poor under equipped operators must feel. One tv reporter listed the items in the 6 layers of clothing he was wearing as he stood there shivering.  No wonder he was still cold. Every layer was made of either polyester or light cotton.  Even his jacket was barely adequate for a cool day during a Canadian autumn.

I am so grateful we are not having to cope with the terrible effects of weather we are not prepared to deal with, such as our neighbours to the south are experiencing right now.  I am so grateful that we are not suffering from long term power outages that have been going on in eastern Canada and the Maritimes in recent weeks.  

Yes, there are times to be intensely grateful for the winter weather of the prairies where we live. For the most part our towns and cities are prepared to cope with a broad diversity of bad weather systems.  Those of us who live here know what we are dealing with and we can dress and equip our vehicles accordingly.  If we do become storm stayed for a few days it isn't a big shock, only an inconvenience or a tiny tragedy like having to miss a doctor's appointment in the city unexpectedly due to a sneak attack by a storm system our forecasters missed the strength of somehow.  That is unusual.  Our local weather reporters are incredibly accurate and we rarely get insufficient warning to prepare for a very bad storm.

So here I sit in the downward fall of the local weather roller coaster, grateful for my -32C windchill because of my wool coat, heavy mitts, warm scarves, fuzzy lined boots and my car's winter tires and heating system.  I am not stuck in the north eastern USA, suffering unexpectedly with problems in commuting to work and day care, wondering if I will have a serious accident just trying to travel a few blocks from my home on summer tires as they slip and slide on ice, the like of which I have never seen before.

Yup, gratitude is a great feeling!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Bugaboo Graduation Ceremony

My husband, in the process of locating some personal information so we could complete our passport applications today, discovered 4 large cardboard boxes of old files he has likely not unpacked during our last 4 or 5 moves! There they were molding away in the garage.  I am so proud of him because he is going paper by paper through all the boxes as I sit here writing and all ready has a huge pile of old information, pre-seminary sermons, magazines, Japanese language study materials, personal cards and letters, manufacturers' instructions for appliances we haven't owned in years, etc.  All these things are on their way to either the garbage bin or the shredder.  YIPPEE!!!!  If we ever move out of this place we are going to have 3 out of 4 large boxes less to take with us.  This is a difficult task for him, paper hoarder that he is, and I am so delighted he has chosen to spend a good deal of his time off today tackling the project.

In the process of discovery, he found part of a letter I typed a number of years ago.  The part he found details my observations and opinions about a graduation ceremony of our son's we had just returned from.  I am thinking I didn't enjoy it much...but I will reprint it here and see if you agree with me...teehee

" What a stupid excuse for a grad! Those poor kids!  We were kept waiting for a very long time, until only 10 minutes before the ceremonies, in a lobby designed to hold 400 people....all nearly 2000 of us.  The ushers on doors and doing programmes were tiny, wimpy ladies who seem to know nothing about what to do. Once we were allowed into the auditorium Dell and I lucked out and snagged probably the best 2 seats in the house! That part was great!  There had been no rehearsal for the grads and all they were told as we arrived with our son was that a block of seats near the front of the auditorium had been saved for them.  Saved, my butt!  A tiny bit of paper had been taped to the side of each aisle seat, down so low that it wasn't at all noticeable.  So the area for the grads was full of parents and guests and over half the grads had to locate other seats.  The ushers stood there helplessly and did nothing to ensure only grads sat in the block. It was bedlam. The faculty of the college wandered one by one onto the auditorium stage still wearing outdoor coats, some carrying shoe bags and briefcases which they left on the backs and over the top rungs of their chairs. There were no caps nor gowns, no dress code, no respect whatsoever for the traditions of graduation ceremonies, no respect for the students nor their guests nor for anyone at all.

It was an embarrassment but it seemed no one on the faculty cared.  The first 4 speeches by the president of the institution and the honorary doctorate recipients dragged on as those types of speeches generally do, but at least they were fairly interesting. 

Then it was time to call the grads forward to collect their diplomas.  There were grads sitting all over the auditorium, no lines, no order, no idea what the heck was going on.  Up stands the Dean for the first faculty being honoured, to call out the name of his first graduate.  She was sitting up in the second balcony and had to find her way down several flights of stairs to the main floor, then walk the entire length of the auditorium to get to the stage.  Total time: 4.5 minutes! Were we going to be faced with a similar lengthy trek for each of the 300 grads coming forward to receive their accolades?

The president finally woke up to reality and announced that perhaps all the students from each faculty should come forward at the same time and stand in a line along the one aisle, pay attention to the first name that was called and then try to sort themselves out alphabetically so they could come up in order with the least amount of fiddling about.  HUH??  Of course it was against fire regulations to do what he asked them to do and we had begun the whole debacle with a prolonged announcement that we couldn't stand in the aisles or in front of the stage to take pictures, we could only take them from our seats.  In the ensuing confusion, some of our immigrant parents from China, Korea and India who were having sufficient struggle all ready in understanding the chaos of the afternoon, saw their children now out of their seats and standing in the aisles. The parents surged out of their seats, video recorders and cameras in hand, thinking it was time for photos.

The ushers raced in to corral the parents and try to convince them to return to their seats.  The idea didn't sit well with the milling parents and voices were raised.  It was getting ugly.  It took nearly 5 minutes for the ushers to convince the parents that they had to sit down again, but of course every time an usher disappeared momentarily, there was a dad or mom out in the aisles again, beaming proudly at the graduating offspring and flashing photos like crazy. 

Finally the kids from the second faculty of the five, started to clue in to what needed to happen to keep themselves out of trouble with the fire department and get organized for maximum speed of flow up to that stage.  The graduating students of each of the 3 subsequent faculties f0llowed their lead and eventually the ceremonies (??) rolled along quite well.  Whew!

The outfits worn by the students were interesting to say the least.  With there being no graduation gowns and no apparent dress code in place we saw everything from jeans with shirts and ties (our son and his friends) to suits and ties and ballgowns (the incredibly beautiful Indian and oriental students) to ethnic traditional costume dress (the Dutch, Bosnian, Ukrainian and Japanese grads) to blonde dreadlocks, to miniskirts, to bare feet, to 5 inch heels, to skintight polyester dresses on chunky pillowy gals, to industrial overalls on one of the boys.  One Caucasian gal in a Chinese style floor length gown with a slit in it that left the size, shape and flabbiness of her butt cheeks in no doubt to the rest of us, left me completely speechless. It was all horrendous but I don't blame the kids.  They had not been taught, obviously, what is appropriate for a public graduation ceremony for either dress code or personal behaviour and the staff who let the fiasco just kind of happen should have been hung out to dry.  The entire afternoon was a 3 ring circus.

There were 5 valedictorians, one from each faculty, only one of whom had a vague clue of how to give a public speech, let alone one suitable for a public graduation.  The rest had nothing to say and mostly talked about being nervous.  The little gal from my son's faculty was barefoot and dressed in a black ball gown that didn't fit her. She started to mumble something, then announced she was too nervous to talk, walked to the centre of the stage and did some deep knee bends, ball gown and all, then went back to the microphone and said profoundly, "Well, good for us. We did it.  Let's go and get drunk!"  Words to live by....sigh....

How could anyone follow such a class act, right? I walked out the second my son received his diploma because I was so disappointed in the afternoon.  I spent a thousand dollars and many hours on a plane for this??  All that was left at that point was a speech by the Treasurer doing the annual graduation plea for funding assistance...that was one tradition this crew was familiar with at least.  I walked outside and hid among the gorgeous pink and blue hydrangeas and fuschias until I calmed down.  Even my own son was appalled at the tasteless display of ignorance."

Guess I didn't have the greatest time at my own son's grad...ya' think? hahaha  My goodness what a vitriolic letter.  Good thing whoever I was writing to never received it. haha  Aiiii yiiiii......

Monday, January 20, 2014

Taking Back Our Monday Day Off

Today we finally decided to take back our day off so we can spend it together doing whatever we want, no stresses to be in touch with other people unless it is a church emergency, or else to be in touch if we want to be, phone off the hook for most of the day, no email checks unless we feel like it, blogging some short posts to our blog sites if we feel like it, eating home or eating out as we feel like it.  Basically we are back to a realization that a day off is just that.....OFF from the usual pattern of the rest of the week. It feels good.  

It feels restful.  It feels like we have a few hours a week at last to block out the rest of the world as much as we can.  In some ways, whether or not we DO anything interesting, it is like a day long date. 

Today we slept in. Today we didn't bother to get dressed until after lunch. Today we unplugged the house phone. Today we went for a good long walk through the church buildings to work on our fitness. Today we drove downtown just long enough to pick up the mail at the post office before retreating back to our inner sanctum here at the rectory.  Tonight we will watch our favourite television programme. Tonight we will work on our passport applications.  Tonight we will choose if we want to eat dinner out or save that for a lunch break tomorrow.

We have decided that Mondays, as much as is possible, are going to be all about us.  Today was a vegging about kind of day.  Next Monday we may choose to go somewhere together and get out of the house for a fun trip.  

The point is that on Mondays we have reclaimed our right to choose. It has been a long time coming. 

Mmmmm, it feels good! 

In My Retirement....Yeah, Right......

 A friend emailed me this video today with a suggestion that I could put my creativity and musical abilities to good use during these unemployment days.  It is hilarious and as a former carpenter's assistant I suppose I could.............

Publication Foibles

This morning I found a couple of hilarious mistakes in our town's local reporting website.  There are often some real doozies but this morning's spelling and grammatical errors were kind of cute.

In one article, about a donation to upgrade a seniors' care facility, I read that these seniors will now be able to "live safer and more comfortable."  It seems that adverbs are on the way out in our online media reports.  The words "safely" and "comfortably" were the correct words to use, but the more I read online articles the more I see a new ignorance of adverbs.  If we want to look like complete hicks on the world reporting front, let's keep that up.

The other article that made me laugh out loud, (Would that be more correctly [correct??] LOL since this is an online blog??], was about a group of provincial women riding snowmobiles across our province to raise funds for the cause of cancer research.  According to this little article they are going to raise the funds by "snowmoiling".  Talk about an hilarious gaffe in the spelling department.  "Hey Harriet, wanna go snowmoiling with me today? It's for a good cause."

We all make mistakes when we write that are not picked up before publication.  I have certainly made my share with this blog despite my best attempts at proof reading and will most likely continue to do so.  It happens sometimes despite our best intentions, but I do try to proof read even these little blog entries as best I can and correct errors as I spot them.

I remember once asking a CTV online writer about a truly horrendous mistake in the copy of an online report. I was told rather snippily that the idea of online reporting is to get something written up and published as quickly as possible and as a result such mistakes are "going to happen".  The particular mistake I was asking about had resulted in a deluge of responses from readers who had completely misunderstood what the article was saying, just because of that one spelling error.  The amount of time spent posting a brief article of correction, then a second article refuting the error in the first article, could have been avoided simply by taking 30 seconds to proofread the very first article before it was published.  

Our rush to give and receive information has reached a point where we are more in danger of misinformation than truth when we write and read news items.  

That being said, this morning's errors started my day off with a great dose of good humour.  I needed that today.

Awwww, C'mon Neil, It's Only One Itsy Bitsy Meeting

Entertainer Neil  Young, who has been blasting the Alberta oil sands project for some time now, has been using this cause to sell tickets to his recent Canadian concerts.  Personally I think he has some legitimate concerns about the project and how it relates to the environment and to the First Nations treaties.

However, his refusal to meet with executives of the oil industry before his Calgary concert is not winning him any new supporters to the cause.  For someone with so much to say, so much criticism to offer about someone else's business, it would stand him in far better stead if he would simply have one meeting with the people on the other side of this issue and engage in an intelligent discussion about the pros and cons of the oil sands pipeline project.

Perhaps the crux of the matter is the "intelligent discussion" aspect.  Perhaps Mr. Young is not quite as knowledgeable about this issue as he wants the rest of us to think he is.  Perhaps he realizes he isn't quite up to the more academic and scientific side of the discussion.  If there are other, more pertinent reasons it would be nice of him to let us know what they are instead of simply refusing to meet.

If you have a point of view in such a political arena you should be prepared to defend it with those who disagree.  You should have an arsenal of factual information that you can discuss with those who oppose your ideas.

I am not accusing Mr. Young of anything specific. Only he knows what his reasons are for refusing to meet with the oil sands personnel.  However, the refusal is not helping his case......his comments seem to be helping only his ticket sales.

All I am saying is, "Hey Mr. should be better prepared to defend your ideas to those who know the most about the project."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A True Shelter in the Time of Storm

My peers and myself have reached the stage of life where calling each other on a regular basis with upsetting news about medical conditions, tragic family events, retirement woes and the like, has become the norm.  It is called The Realities of Middle Age.

I don't know who came up with the idea of calling older age The Golden my opinion the only thing golden about them are the streets of heaven I hope to someday walk upon!!

Last night I got a call from yet another friend diagnosed with a devastating chronic illness. She was in complete shock and so was I when she told me.  

When things like this are brought to my attention my first internal response, while the news is being absorbed, is to remember the lyrics to old hymns we sang in the various churches I grew up in.  Here are a few lyrics that have reminded me of God's working in my life, even during the worst of times.  Some of them seem pretty inane, the theology isn't always the most correct, but when my emotions need soothing they are the ones I run to play on my keyboard. They are the ones I blubber about on, trying to sing when my heart is broken.  You can look at me askance if you like, but I believe that emotions are just as much a part of our created beings as our sensibilities and there are times when they are in desperate need of comforting.  I make no apologies for occasionally needing emotional comfort and turning to God for it in this way.

So, here are some of my faves:

1.  A Shelter in the Time of Storm--lyrics by Vernon J. Charlesworth
The Lord's our Rock in Him we hide, a shelter in the time of storm.
Secure whatever ill betide, a shelter in the time of storm.
O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land......a shelter in the time of storm.

2. Leaning on the Everlasting Arms--lyrics by Elisha A. Hoffman
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms.....

3.  Trusting Jesus--lyrics by Edgar P. Stites
Simply trusting day by day, trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small, trusting Jesus that is all.
Trusting as the moments fly, trusting as the days go by,
Trusting Him whate'er befall, trusting Jesus, that is all.

4.  Under His Wings--lyrics by William O. Cushing
Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort and there I am blest.

Under his wings, O what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life's trials are o'er.
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus I'm safe ever more.

5. Moment by Moment--lyrics by Daniel W. Whittle
Never a trial that He is not there, 
Never a burden that He doth not bear;
Never a sorrow that He doth not share, 
Moment by moment, I'm under His care.

6. God Will Take Care of You--lyrics by Civilla D. Martin
Be not dismayed at whate'er betide, God will take care of you.
Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you.

Old hymns encourage me, the good ones, the mediocre ones and the downright ridiculous ones.  When my emotions need healing they are my safe and comforting place.  Singing songs from my childhood days in church is a healing experience.

And While We're On The Subject.....

Yesterday's dance marathon reminded me of some of the songs and choruses we danced to at my church youth events years and years and years and years (okay, you get the idea) ago!

There were umpteen verses to most of the songs and now mostly I only remember the choruses, but the joyful memories are intact.

I remember jigging about during "free style" worship times and praising God to:

1. Lord of the Dance by Sydney Carter
Dance dance wherever you may be.
I am the Lord of the dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the dance, said He!

2. The Dancing Heart by Roy Turner
O the Holy Ghost will set your feet a-dancin'
The Holy Ghost will fill you through and through.
O the  Holy Ghost will set your feet a-dancin'
And set your heart a dancing too!

3.  Dance Children by Leon Patillo
Dance children, dance children
Dance unto Me.
Dance children, dance children,
I have set you free.

Yup, it was a simpler, more innocent, less uptight time in my life before all the issues of human beings, doctrines, judgement, righteous living and the like disturbed my peace of mind and interrupted my spirit.  Jesus was just Jesus, Son of God, Saviour, Prince of Peace, worthy of praise by my entire being.  I am so glad I had a few years of that before life and its painful realities intruded.  That time gave me a solid base to my relationship with God and carried me through the intervening years of struggle that have brought me back to a place of peace today....less innocent, more complicated, more knowledgeable, more discerning, hopefully more mature, but definitely a place of peace.  

Hallelujah! Dance On!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

First the News Then the Dancing

Managed to awaken at 5am and get my husband and his deacon on the road to their meeting.  Just fell back to sleep when my husband called from the highway to tell me he noticed as he drove away that the basement lights were on at the church, so I had to wake up, get up and go shut them off.  Gave up on sleeping after that.

Decided to flip on the computer and read the Canadian news.  The first thing I read was a health alert issued for the flight my son took on Jan. 7th.  Seems there was a small child flying with highly contagious measles and all people on that flight are to keep a close watch on themselves for possible symptoms.  Sigh....

My son had all his immunizations as a child, but as we are now learning, many of those immunizations have a span of effectiveness of only about 30 years.  My son is 34 and flew with a compromised immune system.  

So, here I sit at 6am emailing my son to tell him what he was exposed to and to get to the doctor if he begins having any symptoms of illness over the next couple of weeks or so.  

Learning that my son, still getting over the last of his pneumonia, was exposed to is frustrating to say the least.  WHY DO PARENTS TAKE OBVIOUSLY ILL CHILDREN ON PUBLIC AIRCRAFT??????  I get tired of taking my life in my hands every time I board a plane....terrorists, contagious isn't easy to get on a flight now without thoughts of sad possibilities entering the mind.  My next flight is near the end of April....lots of time to convince myself to not brood about such problems.

But for now.......time to start my day of dancing!!

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Good Day To Dance

I am looking forward to my day tomorrow.  Today I did most of the house cleaning and only have the bathroom fixtures left to do in the morning....EARLY in the morning!  My husband and a couple of colleagues have a meeting to attend many hours drive from here and they are leaving at 5:30am!  They won't be home again until after dinner.

So, I have a whole day to fill.  Once the bathrooms are cleaned and a new bulletin is done for church on Sunday I will have the rest of the day to do whatever I want.  I choose to dance!

As I stared at my most recent billing for our satellite service, I wondered how I could get more use from it than I have been in recent months.  I realized I don't make nearly enough use of the many music stations that are part of what I pay for each month.  

There are rock music stations, alternative music stations, world music stations, country "whatever that awful noise is" stations, classical music stations, stations specializing in music from every decade beginning with the 1940's, jazz music stations, heavy metal music name it as a music genre and I guarantee I will have at least one station that features it.

I don't make sufficient use of any of these wonderful stations, so tomorrow is my day.  I think my schedule should go something like this:
-wake up way too early and make breakfast for my husband to eat on the road.
-pick a music station and dance
-collapse back into bed until it is time to eat my own breakfast
-make my own breakfast
-pick a different music station and dance
-clean the bathroom fixtures
-take time to dance
-do emails
-do dances
-make and eat lunch
-prepare and print the church bulletin
-dance some more
-read the next chapter in my book
-dance again
-make and eat dinner
-dance down the evening blood sugars
-practice hymns for tomorrow's church service
-have a dance finale until my husband gets home
-explain to my exhausted husband how I can be so tired after being home alone with "nothing to do all day"
-dance my way back into bed for the night and hope I don't sleep through the alarm ringing in the being all danced out and all......


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Some Amazing Photos from 2013

If incredible photos are your thing, click on the link below for some of the top photos of 2013 according to this particular website:

The cherry blossoms in Yokohama brought back wonderful memories and the baby birds taking their first flight made me cry, they are so adorable.  Enjoy!!

A Good News Kind O' Day

Had a great session with the RN and dietician this morning.  The first piece of good news is that I didn't fall down "skating" (or make that shuffling) from my car to the front door of the hospital while navigating the sheer ice left over from yesterday's partial melt.

The second piece of good news is that the ladies were very happy with my blood glucose numbers I have been so diligently checking.  They were happy with my diet choices. They were happy with my exercise plan and gave me a couple of tips to help me do more exercise after supper without bothering my ankle and spine as much when they are so tired by day's end.

The third piece of good news is that the RN and dietician are giving a 4 week series of diabetes education lectures during the months of March/April that I will be able to attend.

The fourth piece of good news is that I only have to test my blood twice a week from now until a problem arises to indicate the disease is progressing.  My fingers will soon feel less like pincushions.  

The fifth piece of good news is that my blood pressure has dropped considerably in the past 5 weeks and today we only had to take it once, no spikes from the fear of having it taken.  It was 118 over 72.  I used to spike at 151 over 92 and then drop to about 130 and then after a few weeks on this diet I was spiking at 131 and dropping to 126.  At the specialist appointment last week it still spiked at 131 but then dropped to 109 over 76 on the second try.  Surely my cholesterol is starting to drop a bit now as well.  (did find out today that my last cholesterol test was well within bounds for a non-diabetic and only 2 points over the top for a diabetic so that is also encouraging)

The sixth piece of good news is actually left over from yesterday.  The mess of rash on my legs has healed so well, only a bit of eczema left on top of the skin; even the bruising is starting to disappear and so I tried using the healing ointment on that bit of eczema, the ointment that just added to the problem when it was first prescribed.  It has been 3 months since I filled the prescription, used it nearly the full 2 weeks I was told to use it and ended up washing it off every time as it just compounded the problem with my skin.  Using it over the last 24 hours has gone well, no adverse reactions and no itching whatsoever at any time.  My liver must be starting to heal now as well.  Will have it tested again in a few weeks.

Despite the treacherous walking conditions I am encouraged by a morning of good news.  The sun is shining again and it is only -1C this afternoon.  If our next 2 days are above zero as forecast AND we could get a really strong wind for those days, we could lose some of this ice and snow.

So, friends and family, you have been asking me to let you know how things went today, so there is all the news is excruciating detail!!  hohoho!!  If I can continue on my diet and exercise plan with the ferocity I have maintained to date, I have a good chance of staying in stage one for quite some time before the disease progresses.  No guarantees of course, but for now I am rather encouraged. 

PS My son is regaining his strength after being so ill and is getting started at last on his thesis artwork for this coming summer term at school.  For those of you who prayed so hard for him over the past 6 weeks, it is good to be able to give such a positive report.  There is an excellent art dealer interested in possibly representing him starting in the autumn so that is exciting and I do hope she will decide to take him on.  MORE GOOD NEWS TODAY!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Winter Textures

This year I am discovering an appreciation for the textures of the winter season.  Yesterday the temperatures took a sudden jump up after being unseasonably cold for a couple of weeks.  

The morning frost in the tree branches looked and felt like soft, cold, ostrich feathers when I went out and ran my hand along one of the limbs.

The warmer air brought a tiny bit of rain in the morning that froze on the car windshield in hard bullets and then melted an hour later, leaving cold rivulets of moisture running down the window.  Splash from a passing vehicle made the door handle of the car feel like grimy fuzz when I pulled on it to open the door.

As the freezing rain came down it quickly became mixed with pellets of snow.  The pellets froze on the warm sidewalks, spalling up as I walked along the downtown streets.  It made a satisfying crunching sound when the sole of my boots pushed it down and yet it felt soft and sticky....enough to keep my feet from slipping.

This morning the ice on the sidewalks outside the house is rather thick with a combination of hard snow pellets and ice beneath that is slowly becoming slushy. When I took the garbage bin to the curb I could feel again that crunch under my boots with the soft ice underneath.  I put my hand down to touch the surface I was walking on.  The hard pellets pushing up through the softer ice felt jagged and cold while the ice underneath was mushing up and holding a bit of heat from warm pavement.  

The piles of snow along the edge of the lawn have hardened on top after being melty and soft yesterday.  I can stand on top of some of them without falling through into the soft snow beneath.

We are having a warming trend predicted for the week with temperatures slightly above 0C for several days.  It will leave the highways in a mess as the wind rises to usher in the warmer air.....huge drifts, icy patches, blowing snow, slush and mush.  I am grateful the day my husband next has to drive to his other church it is to be a nice day with lots of melt and the blowing snow at an least that is the forecast for now.

While I have joined the rest of the townsfolk is wishing that the Alberta chinook winds would say on their own side of the border so that we don't have so much weather havoc here, today I admit to enjoying the textures of winter that those winds bring us every so often.  I suppose I am still an Alberta gal at heart: despite the problems warm winds in winter bring to our area, I am secretly glad to have those days of warmer air in the midst of the winter cold no matter what weather disasters they bring us.  They relieve me of the feeling that all winter I am waiting to exhale.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Good Medical News Today!

This morning I had my first annual eye appointment to check for diabetic damage.  The news is great!  My eyes are in good shape for the shape they are in!!  haha  This particular eye doctor explained everything to me: what he is looking for, how he checks for damage, what the photos of my eyes tell him.  He showed me the photos and told me what each band of colour was telling him about that part of my eye.  I am also very happy that I don't so much as need a new prescription for my lenses.  Everything seems to be holding steady in the 2 years since my last check up and prescription.  It was a real treat to go to a medical appointment and get such good news after so much not so great news of late.

Tomorrow I pick up my prescription for my new osteoporosis meds.  I am asking for mercy from God that I will be able to take them with no bad side effects.  This is literally the only drug on the market right now that I will be able to try taking as it is the only one not containing the allergen that made such a mess of my body this summer.

As my son wrote to me last night, in the past few weeks our entire family has been brought face to face with our own mortality. 

And now my hope is that life can lighten up for awhile for us all.

Finally Someone Was Brave Enough to Ask Me......

I am surprised it hasn't happened before now that a non-Anglican friend would ask me how my husband and I can remain in a church denomination that is all ready permitting same sex blessings and also promoting same sex marriage.  However, now the question has been asked and I know this friend is not the only person wondering, even if the rest of our friends have been either too polite, too frightened or too indifferent to ask.

The answers are not black and white and I am not sure the question is completely valid.  If I am to answer a question phrased under the assumption that same sex relationships are obviously wrong in the sight of God, then I also have to answer how I could stay in any Christian denomination where slander, cheating, unforgiveness, lack of reconciliation and other ungodly behaviour is rarely dealt with and sometimes actually modelled by those in positions of leadership.  In essence, if I were to leave a denomination strictly because of its position on same sex romantic relationships I wouldn't be able to attend any other church denomination because all are found wanting in one way or another depending on your world view.

I don't know what is going to happen in the future with the issue of same sex relationships in our particular denomination.  As I listen to the discussions of the past ten years it seems to me that those on both sides of the issue are somewhat misinformed. The more liberal types don't seem to understand that people on the more conservative side of this issue are actually coming from a completely different world view and that these two differing world views are likely incompatible within the boundaries of one denomination.  The conservatives are sometimes wrapped up in literal translations of scriptures that are more metaphor and story than historical fact. 

The importance of how a person views the bible itself, the authority of its teachings, whether or not it is the only trustworthy record of God's interaction with his creation, if it is even a valid piece of literature for today's post modern Christians to use, whether or not a person holds a creationist world view, all come into play as we struggle with the deep issues of human relationships and what part their creator has in setting them up.

At this point only two things are truly clear to me:  when I deal with people desiring or all ready in same sex relationships, my responsibility is to be pastoral in my approach, the same way I would be with anyone in any kind of relationship.  I cannot make assumptions about other peoples' relationships or view them through some form of stereotype. The other thing is that a sexual relationship outside God's given boundary of marriage is wrong, no matter who it is with.  In that sense we are all called to be celibate until such time as we are in such a marriage relationship.   The biblical model is one man and one woman, together for enjoyment, procreation and to model the love of God for his creation.  Since I have a creationist world view, that is how I personally interpret scripture. When we start going beyond that interpretation of what is considered to be an expression of godly love, where do we stop?

To leave my denomination as soon as it appears there are other points of view that do not mesh with my own is rather irresponsible.  To go on a witch hunt in my church for those who do not agree with me is not godly behaviour.  To refuse to accept those in same sex relationships as friends and as fellow followers of Jesus is also not right.  It is up to God to make the changes in all of us as he sees fit and in his way.  Obviously I myself have a great need to be transformed into the image of Christ far more than I have been thus far.  All of us need that transformation in our lives, but Jesus is the one who has to accomplish it. 

The jury is still out for me as to whether or not I could ever perform a blessing on a same sex romantic relationship at any point in future, but I want to be very careful about how I approach this issue.  Too much damage has been done all ready in the past to people who have not been able to be honest about their desires and lifestyles, particularly in the church, where people should be able to be completely honest and expect a fair hearing and some support. Since I have not personally struggled with this issue, I have to admit I am very ignorant about it and don't feel in a position to be judging others who have.  My husband and I agree that anyone who wants a prayer of blessing in their attempts to follow Jesus will receive it from us.

I have much to learn about what God requires and about the issue of same sex relationships.  Whether or not I can agree with it at this point in time, I have the responsibility to continue to learn all I can about it.  I need to deal with same sex couples in my church the same way I would deal with any couple asking for assistance: seeking God as to how I can best model his love and concern for them as individuals.

The future is going to be very interesting indeed; not only in the Anglican church but in the church worldwide.