Monday, June 30, 2014

Shopping Out This Way

This morning, upon opening refrigerator and cupboards and seeing very little in the way of food inside them,  I braved leaving the house for the first time in over a week so we can eat actual food for a few days.

It didn't really feel great to be outside after all because of the howling winds, but I wrapped my head and neck in a big scarf to protect my sinuses and glands.  In essence I was wearing a type of hijab and wow, did I get the looks from the people in the grocery store.  This town is very small and many people that I don't know do know me...at least they know I am the Anglican minister's wife. Well, it will give the townsfolk something new to talk about. hahahaha

I was just looking at my grocery bill.  To keep us fed for the next few days I bought exactly 19 items.  Those 19 items, 3 of which were packs of carbonated water and only 2 of which were meat, cost me well over one hundred dollars.  That hundred dollars worth of food will last us for about 5 days.  The cost of groceries has climbed all over the country but I am really  noticing it here as the cost of food when we came here over 4 years ago was all ready higher than anywhere we had ever lived in Canada before, other than Vancouver. In fact when we were in Vancouver this spring I was shocked at how little higher most of the grocery costs were there compared to here.  The restaurant meals were far most outstanding in quality than almost any restaurant in this province, I think I can say with some confidence, but were more reasonably priced because of the amount of competition in the industry there.  After comparing today's bill with a few I saved over the past month I realize I am going to have to increase the food budget. Wow......I am not complaining. Everyone is in the same boat.  It was just a bit shocking to realize what I actually purchased and how much even the smallest items are costing.

Thank goodness we don't eat out here in town any more than once every couple of months or so.  I can funnel what was formerly entertainment money into the grocery budget and we won't feel much of a pinch.  With the change in temporary foreign worker laws here in Canada I suspect some of our little restaurants may not stay open once summer is over.  Those changes are impacting smaller communities like our own for the worse.  

So, must give myself a good "buck up old chicken" pep talk and carry on with my shopping here in town.  Next week my husband is spiritual director at a teen camp and I will be here on my own. That should save me some money.  I eat like a sparrow these days in comparison to the "hog at the trough" food consumption pre-diabetes.  

Guess it is time now to evaulate what items we are eating here at home and make some changes.  Sigh.....and just when we have a steady income and were thinking it would be okay to eat food we actually enjoy after years of simply "making do" with whatever was on the clearance tables at the discount grocery. hahahaha  O woe is us...hahahahaha

I am just grateful we can actually eat decently, that my husband is healthy enough to have a good job that fulfills him and that we have enough income to survive and to purchase many dietary treats almost whenever we want to. When I read about people in other war torn or otherwise poverty stricken countries and even knowing the plight of so many here in our own country, I truly can only talk about my own grocery pricing woes through the lens of humour.  I am so blessed here where I live.  There are 3 grocery stores and some convenience foods. There are restaurants, good, bad and downright ugly, but I can afford to go to them all if I want to.  

We don't know how long this present blessing of a stable home, job and income will last. It could last for years or it could all end tomorrow.  The blessing of not having had any of those things very often in our married lives is that we have learned to depend on the Lord whether we have lots or little and we know our true source of provision is the Lord himself.  We have had it all and had it ripped away. We have had nothing at all and ended up living for a time in near mansions.  In the midst of every circumstance we have learned it is God who gives and gives generously to all his children when they have a need...through a job, through an unexpected gift, through some form of shocking circumstance we could have never foreseen.  It is all good in the end.  

So today I am grateful I had the over one hundred dollars I needed to purchase the 19 items that will feed us for a few days.  

 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

So Today I Actually Rested....And Learned Some New Things....

.........and yeeeeaaaahhhh....I do feel better.  My voice is still sounding nearly non-existent but at least I can breathe through my nose for the first time in a week.

One thing that helped pass the time today was my helpful husband who managed to set up computer for me to play games onscreen from a prone position.  Not exactly rocket science, but some mindless such thing to get lost in does keep my thoughts from centering on how bored I have been all week.

I also did a bit of research reading in regard to the origin of diabetes and how difficult a disease it is to understand and research.  In the course of looking about on the interweb I came across an interesting thesis paper from 2013 by a University of Calgary student, who at the time was a doctoral candidate.  His name is Gavin Duggan and his thesis work is titled "Mutivariate NMR Analysis of Human Disease Models".  It really explains many of the difficulties in being able to separate the components present in the molecules when attempting to study various cancers, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes; the difficulties in having to isolate separate molecules and examine their contents, yet still study them in operational groups.  If you are interested in this subject and would like to read about this form of testing and research, here is the link to his paper:
 
http://theses.ucalgary.ca/bitstream/11023/540/2/ucalgary_2013_duggan_gavin.pdf

Fascinating read!

The rain has been pouring down intermittently since 5am.  Again, I am so grateful my husband found the strength to go out and mow the lawn when he wasn't feeling well himself the other day.  The rain is to continue for at least another day and we would need to attack the grass with machetes if he hadn't been able to lop everything off before all this water arrived.

Well, that thesis composed the "education" portion of my day so I am going to toddle off to watch some more mindless junk, but on tv this time.  2 hours of "American Ninja Warriors", here I come.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ooooh....New Things to Learn! (aka Poop On This Bed Rest Thingy!)

This morning I woke up early.  I had a better sleep last night as the mucus production slowed considerably and I actually could lay down to rest instead of sitting bolt upright all night.  YAY!!  When I wake up that early and don't want to wake my husband up the best thing to do is something quiet, so this morning I started my day with 90 minutes worth of ironing, grabbing breakfast in between swipes with the iron.

I spent some time watching the birds as well.  We had rain overnight that drove thousands of ants out of their underground homes.  When I opened the living room curtains I saw dozens of young birds feasting their faces off as they gorged themselves with tiny sugar ants on our front lawn. They were singing and eating and just delighted by life. haha  

Yesterday one of the finch babies was particularly cute!  For the first time, he followed his dad up onto the feeder.  There is only room for one bird per feeder arm so he flew onto the one underneath his dad.  He looked about for a moment, flapping his little wings in close to his body the way baby birds do when they want food while still in the nest. Then he looked down and realized there was a gaping hole filled with seeds right in front of his face. hahaha  His wings went straight up into the air and he plunged his little beak into the bountiful pile of seeds.  Down came the wings again to resume their body flapping, the whole time he was eating, as if he was still in the nest.  hahaha  We haven't had so many little birds at our place as we have this year and it is delightful watching them grow and learn.  The new mourning doves have grown to full body length now and just need the identifying bars of colour around their necks and to lose the last tinges of brown from their feathers before it will be difficult to tell they are this year's "crop".  Mom and Dad have all ready left the premises and these 2 doves are fending well for themselves.  

There is one teeny sparrow that can't seem to get the hang of feeding himself, despite his parents' best efforts.  They accompany him to the feeding table or to the sunflower seeds that fall to the deck as the finches root through the seed mix in the feeder. They eat a few seeds and wait while he pecks aimlessly about, not seeming to find anything but the remains of the empty sunflower seed shells.  He starts doing his "still in the nest" wing flapping routine and they ignore him.  He stops beating his wings, hops closer to one or the other of the parents, begins more wing flapping and they turn their backs on him.  He makes pitiful noises and scootches closer to mom and dad.  They move away, he follows, they move away, he follows across the deck.  Finally one of them drops a seed into his mouth.  As he is working on eating it, they fly off in a dreadful hurry, leaving him there alone.  When he realizes they are gone, the wing beating begins again, along with little muling type noises.  I can see them sitting together on a tree branch watching him but not coming to his aid.  Eventually he stops whining and flapping about and looks all around several times. Finally he seems to see his parents and flaps himself straight up into the air, heading directly for that tree branch.  The 3 of them fly off together but an hour later they are back for a repeat performance.  This time little birdie is more alert.  No matter what he is doing he pays attention to his parents' location beside him. hahaha This time when they try to abandon him on the deck he is too smart to fall for it.  They try and try to shake him but he flies off within a split second of their departure every time they try to fly away.    I worry about him.  Is he really so unable or is he just afraid to be on his own?  Okay, I promise not to lose any sleep over it....for now.

Baby Bohemian Wax Wings are pretty cute as well as they learn better flying techniques with every passing day.  Tonight's crew were a bunch of crazy mad flappers.  They hovered for a long time over the bird bath, over the seeds and it was like they were saying, "Where do we land?? Where do we land?? Where do we land??"  Their flight is even more hyper than their parents.

Tonight the black cat from down the street showed up on the deck.  There was no sound from any birds so I threw open the patio door and hollered and Mr. Kitty took off running down the alley.  As soon as I stepped back into the house and shut the door the birds identified their various locations in the trees.  O my, what a nattering bunch. They were really upset by the cat's appearance and I am glad I saw him as soon as he got here.  It is always difficult for me to see him and the orange tabby catching and eating the little birds, but they also keep down the mice and rats so I do want them around on occasion.

My husband upgraded my poor old Windows XP today to Windows 7.  Not too much has changed as far as the parts of the operating system that I use every day.  I will find more new things to learn as I go along and I will enjoy that hopefully!  O it is so nice to have a smaller and quieter computer sitting beside me.  No more "zip when it moves and bop when it stops and whir when it stands still"!  (Remember that old song from the 1960's?  I thought it was incredibly stupid in all my elementary school wisdom...almost as stupid as "Puff the Magic Dragon" but don't get me started on that one!)

Bless my dear husband! All my old files and folders were moved over with very little hassle.  There are tons of new games for me to play while I complete this blasted and useless and "not happenin'" bed rest!  I am getting used to the slight change of format for some of those files and it won't take long to figure out how to access everything.

Yeeeeeaaaahhhh.....about that bed rest thing today.....not so much.....

There were people to communicate with about a visit this month before they move far far away. There was all that ironing to do and another load of laundry and meals to prepare and dishes to wash and new computer things to learn and....oh...yeah....I did take time to watch a movie this afternoon, while laying on the living room sofa, so that should count. Tonight I have been sitting very still in front of the computer....only my hands and arms have done any moving so that should count as resting, right?  I am staying home from all my husband's church services tomorrow so that should count for something, right?  Staying at home, inside, doing very little when so much needs to be done should count as resting when it is so tempting to go outside and I have resisted, right?  I let my husband mow the lawn last night and I forced myself to stay calm and not be frustrated that I wasn't doing it myself, so that should also count as restful, right?  Of course right!

Okay, I give up. I don't do bed rest well.  So sue me...sigh....

Time to go to bed now, really in bed, for the night and read another chapter of my good book.  THAT will be the kind of bedrest I am supposed to be doing all day as well........o dear Lord, I just can't do it. 

 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Excellent Little Teaching Video

I just spent 5 minutes enjoying a bit of good teaching from a video posted on another blog I regularly read.  It is titled,
"The Disciplined Pursuit of Less" and features Greg McKeown.


Since you are likely able to put that information into your search engine and find the video yourselves I won't go into why I thought it had some good ideas, but I will tell you what sort of reaction I had when I first read the title but hadn't yet watched the video. hahaha

Please remember I am ill again and rather out of sorts today.

My reaction to the mere title was visceral! It went something like this:

"Yeah....the pursuit of less...discplined you say...are you KIDDING ME BUDDY??? This video is NOT for the likes of myself!  Having LESS is not something I have had to discipline myself to experience in the past 35 years, buster.  It has been handed to me, without prior consultation with me and without my consent!!!  You want to talk about having to be disciplined to live with less?  Do you have any idea what you are talking about Mister???  I am the one who could be sharing what it is like to live with less and I haven't ever had to be particularly disciplined about it!!  I have had less money, less food, less "stuff, less vacation opportunities, less new clothes, less healthy accommodation, less joy, less decent work situations, less good health, less people I can actually relate to, less fun, less close extended family ties....you name it, I have had less of it.  So, what do you think of THAT, buddy boy??  Huh??  Whatcha' think about THAT?????  I'll tell you about living with "less", yes I will.  And I haven't even had to exert any discipline for it to happen!!! So there!!!!"

Yup, that about sums it up and all I had seen thus far was the title of the video!  hahahahaha  Fortunately I did listen to it and it was quite interesting and good.  That poor man on the video has no idea what an emotional firestorm he set off in me!

I had no idea that the suggestion that living with less can be godly and necessary, which I all ready know to be the truth for many a person including myself, could upset me so badly. haha  My reaction tells me I am feeling worse physically today than I thought I was feeling.  Plugged sinuses, allergy rashes, upset tummy, high night fevers and constant exhaustion to the point where chewing is too much effort, are all playing havoc with my emotions.

I am kind of glad this happened today.  It is a signal to me that I need to get a grip and that I need to heed my doctor's call for enforced bed rest for the next few days.  My husband laid down the law to me this afternoon that washing, drying and folding 8 loads of laundry and making meals, doing dishes, emptying the trash etc. is NOT bed rest.

Blast....real bed rest....poop....I hate bed rest....I hate that even worse than having "less".  Sigh...okay, talk to you again in a few days...sigh....bed rest....blah.....

A Timely/Timeless Topic

I am on Day One of doctor's ordered bed rest while I battle through this latest allergic reaction, so what better way to spend my days than reading a good book?!

The one I am reading right now is excellent and I would love it if every parent of pre-teens and teenagers would read it and share its insights with the children of the household.

The book is "A Return to Modesty" by Wendy Shalit. (Touchstone/Simon and Schuster Inc., 1999.)  In it, Ms. Shalit makes a strong case as to why a woman's modesty, sense of embarrassment, when it comes to sexual ideas and behaviour is something to be investigated and embraced as a natural personal protection in early life, not rejected, mocked and vilified as something unnatural and wierd and wrong.  While it was published 15 years ago, the ideas are timeless and very much needed in our day and age.

This is not a religious book. This is not a condemning book.  It is simply a treatise on how we expose our children to sexual concepts and behaviours at early ages, long before they are ready to be understood and treated respectfully.  We expose them to sex years before they are prepared to understand life long consequences of sexual behaviour, dehumanize human beings, allow for no individuality in ideas about sexual relationships,  then wonder why incidents of rape and sexual torture and assaults are growing.  There are no cautions in place any more to protect women or to teach men how to respect women and women to respect men.  People who say "NO!" to sexual encounters in our society are treated badly, told they have hangups and their parents are blamed for bringing them up in "patriarchal" homes.  Nowadays protecting daughters and sons from sexual encounters too early in life is considered ridiculous and repressive.

So, Ms. Shalit gives us a realistic diagnosis of our society's origin of social sexual problems and some excellent ideas as to how to start to restore modesty to our society and why that is a good thing rather than a repressive regression.

It is good reading for all parents.  It might help them understand their own ongoing social problems based on how they were told about and practised sex, as well as help them protect their children from experiencing the same ones.  If your school system starts sex education in kindergarten to grade 4, this book is a must read.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Another Parishioner Down For the Count

Another phone call tonight bearing sad news: another of our parishioners, older but barely a senior, is in an induced coma in hospital in the city: her MRI was inconclusive so the doctors do not know yet what caused the TIA that she was originally admitted with.  Over the past week she has continued to get worse for undefineable reasons, thus the medically induced coma.  Sigh.....I feel so sad.  Her family took a trailer up to the city campground so they can spend their time at her bedside.  I can't imagine the stress they are all under.  It is reaching a point where we are becoming afraid of answering the telephone because we don't know which parishioner is going to be in trouble next.

So, either tomorrow or the next day we will be heading to the city.  I won't be able to go into her room because, although I am not contagious, I look and sound just terrible with my phlegmy throat and plugged nose and swollen glands. I don't want to worry either the family or the hospital staff.  However, it is such a long trip and my husband is tired enough to need the company for the drive.  Perhaps I will feel well enough to help him with the actual driving.

Like our beleaguered brother in the faith, Job, "the thing I most greatly fear has come upon me."  Or upon us in this case.  We are losing our senior population at an alarming rate in recent months, either to death or disability.  We are both becoming more familiar than we ever wanted to be with the local and city hospital wards. When we first came here and saw the large number of seniors in one of our congregations we knew that it wouldn't take much to lose many of them in a short period of time.  So now.....sigh.... 

These things happen.  We get old. Our bodies give out.  We die to this world.  It is reality.  It is expected. In some cases it is welcomed by the one who is aged and suffers infirmity.

But none of those reasons for loss make it easy. Pastors' hearts break in instances such as this.  And so, once again we pray for healing and restoration of this dear parishioner and for strength for the family to walk through this dark valley. 

Good Timing For A Good Reminder

I am down for the count again with allergy based illness. Sigh....this morning I was thinking back on some of my favourite places to live, places where it seemed I actually had a life, places where I was actually healthy, places like Tokyo and Calgary and Vancouver and even little Moose Jaw SK.  I realized they all have one thing in common: no rural farm chemical sprays, no grain dust, no dairy or other cow related odors.  In other words, there has been another reason I haven't even thought of until today, for being far happier living the city life.

As I think back to other places we have lived that were more rural, I can trace almost all of my allergy related illnesses over the years to those towns.  Now I find myself in that position once again. I live 3 blocks from a large set of grain elevators, 3 blocks from fields of grain, people here use strong chemicals to spray the dandelions and other weeds in their yards. There seem to be no chemical spray bans here.

Finding myself ill again for the past 2 days, I have  been tempted to feel discouraged about life in general.  What is the point of anything really?  What good have we done in our years of ministry?  What good are we to the people of our present flock?  What is going to happen to our small struggling congregations over the next year or two? What if we don't have enough money when it is time to retire?  Is God going to quit providing at retirement age after being so faithful in his provision thus far?  You know how it is when you allow your thoughts to start ambling down that path and suddenly the floodgates of doubt open wide.

A few minutes ago I listened to a sermon a friend of ours gave at his church last Sunday.  I hadn't had time to hear it when he first sent the link and that is no accident.  Today I needed to be reminded of the struggles in faith of the biblical saints, how they screwed things up royally and yet God was with them.  No matter what their doubts led them to do that was less than obedient to God, no matter their struggles to be hopeful, he was always there for/with them, encouraging them along, pushing, pulling, getting them to where they needed eventually to be.  

My hope is restored.  This time of illness too will pass.  I will be healthy again.  I won't feel discouraged for much longer.  I will stop worrying about the future and live one day at a time again, in peace and joy.

A timely reminder: thank you Bullwinkle for your Spirit inspired words.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The End of One Crazy Busy Week and the Start of Another

O my goodness, the weekend just flew by.  

Friday morning was the big funeral for our dear departed parishioner. She has a lovely family and it was difficult to see them mourning their loss.  It was a privilege to participate with another lady in providing the music for the service.  We were all treated to a lovely catered turkey dinner afterward by the family.  One of the sons was at church this morning before heading back to his home.  It was nice to have a chance to say a proper goodbye to this doting son of our passed parishioner.

As soon as lunch was over we raced home to get our suitcases and headed to the city.  We were to meet some friends there for dinner and fortunately, they were not only staying at the same hotel, but we arrived at the same time.  Didn't have to make so much as a phone call to locate them.

We decided, since it was teeming rain outside, that we would just eat dinner at the hotel restaurant...bad, bad, bad decision. Good thing the fellowship over dinner was sweet because the food wasn't fit to give to a scavenging wild dog. The salads looked as if they had been left over from the day before, there was some seafood that smelled so bad we felt ill just from the odor as we walked past it. There was only one vegetable dish.  I THINK the veggies had originally been zucchini and peppers with onion, but it was such a soggy mash by the time we opened the lid of the hot bin we weren't sure, so passed on the only veggies in the place. The chicken was too salty to swallow and the meatballs in gravy were the sort of "mystery meat" found in tinned stew in the discount groceries.  The so-called gravy was essentially corn starch and water.  The rice was actually crunchy from overcooking.  If we hadn't all been so exhausted and damp from the long drive and hauling ing our suitcases around during a rain storm we wouldn't have stayed there, but we managed to swallow a few bites of small baby potatoes and scrape the salty coating off the chicken.  We gave up on eating dinner and went to the lounge in the same hotel for a stiff drink of scotch...and found out that last call there is at 8pm!!  The next morning, having to rise so early for a day of intense meetings, there was no time to go elsewhere and we were certain they couldn't ruin pancakes or toast and bacon......wrongo!!!  We laughed our heads off and decided it was definitely a time of "making memories".

Once we got checked out of the otherwise rather decent hotel and had a final laugh together about our food experiences there, the other 3 headed to their day of meetings and I went for a nice 1.5km walk to the nearest shopping mall.  Although more rain was predicted, there was no sign of it until very late in the afternoon. As I walked to the mall the sun was shining and the sky was a clear summer blue.  It was lovely marching along early in the morning to arrive at the mall just as the stores were opening.

I continued marching, up and down the mall from one store to another, for 6 hours!!  I sat down once for a half hour lunch at a busy little restaurant that served excellent food...or maybe it just seemed excellent after what we had choked down the night before and at breakfast.  At the end of 6 hours I realized I had been into every store in the mall but I still had another hour to wait before my husband's meetings ended and he could pick me up.  So I walked into a small hair stylist's shop and was able to get an appt. with little wait time.  What a nice pampering after a busy day of shopping...washing and conditioning, drying and flat ironing my rain frizzled mop of hair. Oooh, it was lovely.

During that 6 hours of shopping I completed my summer wardrobe.  There were some good sales on to take away some of the almost guilt I experienced at spending so much money and buying so many clothes.  I spent my entire GST rebate check that will come in July and it is a good big one, so....  My husband is enjoying my shopping fun since I've been able to wear regular sized clothes again so has been patiently saying nothing about my huge expenditures this spring.  He will be relieved to know I am officially done now.  I too am relieved as I see how easily I could go completely insane buying clothes.  Enjoying shopping for myself is not something I have experienced in many years so yes, I went a tad overboard, but I don't care.  I had a great time, didn't buy anything I don't actually need and am content to not purchase anything else.  I did want to purchase another pair or 2 of comfortable, dressier but still casual shoes but refrained. Then this morning at church someone came in with 2 pair of shoes to give away that "happened" to be my size.  They are barely worn as they didn't fit her so....there you go. Once again the Lord provided, and before I could further tax my husband's patience with my spending sprees.  AMEN!!

We were very late returning home last evening after the usual long drive and we were extra careful as twilight set in.  There were so many antelope, (which I think are actually a breed of prong horned goats rather than true antelope, but whatever.......), deer, muskrats, skunks and other smaller animals along the roadside that we had a very slow trip.  We had to keep slowing down to make sure we could stop or swerve if one of them leapt out in front of us onto the road.

The services went by in a blur this morning and my husband is so grateful that it was our deacon's turn to preside and preach. My husband read the psalm, did the priest's part of the Eucharist and gave the announcements at the end, but was able to relax the rest of the time.

Since then we have eaten lunch and dinner, I did some grocery shopping and we have watched some television.  We are too tired to start doing any work tonight so hope to sleep in a bit tomorrow before tackling some big jobs around the house.  

So it is all good. We may have a half day to get some of our own work done around here that has been waiting for weeks, before heading to another city where a parishioner is in hospital very unexpectedly.  

Another crazy week awaits....but it is good to be busy and able to help a few folk with various things they need help with.  

I just looked at our calendar for the coming week and here we go again!

Somehow had the energy to play the music at both services today before unofficially retiring from filling in any more for absent church musicians.  My hands and fingers are worn out after all the playing I did this week and it is time to turn my attention to other,  more enjoyable pursuits.  

Looking forward to the annual ACW dinner this week that ends our season for the summer months. We are going to the one somewhat decent restaurant in town and it has a nice little meeting room so we can have some privacy as a group.  It will be a lot of fun.  The rest of the week my husband has meetings every evening so it is going to be busy for him.  It IS all good.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Unworthy....But Grateful

Today someone gave me a compliment that was so sincere and heart felt.  It touched my heart deeply. Not only the words but who the person is gave great weight to what was said.

I know I am not worthy and so it was hard to receive those words on one hand, on the other hand it encouraged me so greatly and made me want to live up to the idea the other person has of me.

It also was a much needed reminder that I need to express more freely and more often my admiration for other people.  There are so many people who say and do things for others that require sacrifice and genuine love in order to say and do those things.  I need to tell them more often that not only do I see them and their acts of kindness, but I appreciate them...not only for their actions but also for their loving hearts that inspire them to say and do good things, encouraging things, edifying things.

A good lesson was brought to me today through a compliment to myself.  I need to pay it forward....genuinely and often!

Return of the Mountain Men

My husband and his buddies arrived back here yesterday, mid afternoon.  Despite the raging gall bladder attack he was in full throes of as he walked in the door and that put him to bed for the night 20 minutes later.....too many spicy, greasy sausages and cream laden desserts at camp.....he was filled with excitement about the wonderful 3 days of camping out.

The rain prevented the Mount Sparrowhawk climb but there was a goodly amount of scrambling on the mountains around the camp ground.  The new climbers got sufficient break in the weather to use their new gear and get the general idea of being above the tree line and finding routes through the rocks.  Everyone is excited and preparing to head for the second attempt on Sparrowhawk later in the fall after the heat of summer and plethora of tourists, but before the winter snows arrive.

That gives my husband about 3 more months to get into better shape.  I suspect he is a bit relieved he didn't have to attempt a summit when he really isn't physically ready to accomplish it.  He seemed quite happy to have spent so much time on the smaller slopes and sitting around visiting at camp.  Some of the fellows were chilled by the constant rain and the snow piles still dotting the camping area during this very late spring, so they drove to the hot springs pools in Banff for part of an afternoon and had lattes at the cafe there.  It gave my husband some time at camp with his hiking buddies from Alberta.  

They didn't see much wildlife apart from a deer, a large marmot and an adorable pica but they saw no evidence of bears in their immediate area....or at least that is what we wives have been told.

The break was so good for my husband. This morning work heats up again with meetings, funeral prep and then after the funeral tomorrow morning a fast driven trip into the city for Diocesan Council.  We are meeting friends for dinner that night and I am SO looking forward to that.

Must go and practise for doing funeral music tomorrow, as well as for both church services on Sunday. So many are out of town this coming Sunday, from both congregations, that I think I am going to go easy on my allergy blurred eyes and do some very simple songs I can just use a chord chart for instead of full blown hymns that sound kind of "nekkid" where there is only a handful of voices to sing them.

Birdie Mamas

The past few days have been a lot of fun.  I have been watching the parent birds helping their little ones discover all manner of seeds and bits of bread that we put out in the feeders.  All the little ones are flying well now but there are a couple of small sparrows that seem a bit slower to grasp the food searching component of life.  Mom still has to lead them to the seeds, feed them herself and then try to interest them in recognizing that these seeds are the actual source of sustenance.  One of the teeniest sparrows I have ever seen discovered yesterday that it could jump off the ledge of the birdbath and get right in the water with mom.  Mom splashed water up onto the wee one and then it got into the act for itself, splashing joyously for a good long time.  Very cute! 

The new mourning doves have finally learned to find the bird bath and get drinks for themselves and are now nearly completely self sufficient.

Teeny tiny finch babies abound and are so bright eyed and alert as they learn to sit on the feeder arms to find their own seeds more now.

It will be interesting to find out which of these new birds are males and which are females as they grow and their gender colouring becomes more apparent.

This is the first time I have been able to watch the parenting process of our birds.  The absence of great flocks of crows and ravens this year from our part of town has made a grand difference to the number of hatched eggs and the chance for the baby birds to grow up and become independent instead of becoming prey for larger birds.  There haven't been any hawks or falcons around our trees lately either. The 2 cats who are occasionally on the loose and are so good at keeping the mouse and rat population under control on our street have not been out as much lately so we haven't lost too many birds to them this spring.

I didn't know until we came here how interesting it is to watch all the birds.  I always thought that bird watchers were maybe just a tiny bit "cuckoo"??  haha Now I have joined their ranks in enjoying these delightful creatures. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Are You Part of a Special Interest Group? Just For Today, I Don't Want To Hear About It....OK?

I realized this morning as I read yet another newspaper article and received yet another phone call about one special interest group accusing another special interest group of being prejudiced against them and calling for the government to stop the perceived intolerance of Group 2 toward Group 1, that I am sick to death of all the arguing.

The hypocrisy of Group 1 being as blatantly intolerant of Group 2 as they are accusing Group 2 of being toward them seems to raise no flags amongst government leaders or media reporters, seems to be completely ignored or even championed by them.

Oooooh, and should Group 2 either be, or be perceived to be, some kind of religious group....ooooh, wow, now the entire world can be encouraged to be as intolerant of them as they want to be.  Oooooh yes, let's get all the religious people and grind them into the dust.

I understand that if people in a special interest group have been misunderstood and/or mistreated for a long time and finally have their chance to be socially accepted, or legislated in favour of, or what have you, the initial temptation is to go somewhat overboard in flaunting their new legal or social rights.  What annoys me is how the media jumps immediately onto the bandwagon, their flaming ignorance of the issues displayed for the entire world to see and add joyfully to what amounts to "reverse persecution".

There, there, little special interest Group 1, you have been mistreated so now you have the right to treat others just as badly as you think they have treated you in the past.  Many of your complaints are actually well founded, (and many of them actually are in my opinion), so have at it. Oh, some of those Group 2 people are religious? Well then give them a double dose of vitriol.

Is there not something just a tad incongruous about this picture?

Just for today I would like to go about my life and live it as best I can, being as tolerant as I am able to be with God's help.  None of this media stoked hypocrisy makes me angry as much as it just makes me sad.  We humans are an ignorant bunch and are not afraid to let our stupidity shine all too often...in Group 1 AND Group 2. 

I too am woefully ignorant about many social issues, but I know it is never right to act entitled just because I have been persecuted myself. God doesn't give me the right to lash out at those people who hurt me so skillfully and so purposefully.  I am supposed to depend on his grace to forgive them and, while it isn't always easy or instant, forgiveness can and does happen when I retreat from trying to strike back.  It is a beautiful thing "religious" people have access to and I pray that in our own human ignorance and stupidity we will remember that and practise it.

Just for today however, I am very busy and my mind needs to be focused on some practical work around the home. So, would it be okay if you left off telling me about your particular group's problems with the rest of the world until tomorrow when I have more time?  Just for today.

Thank you....chat with you again tomorrow.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fortunate Me, Not So Fortunate Husband

I am feeling badly for my husband this afternoon.  I just checked the weather forecast for the area where he and his buddies are camping.  At the moment they are under a heavy rainfall warning that extends right through until after they are scheduled to leave to come home 2 days from now. Sigh....after all the planning, the preparation of food and gear, orientation for the new climbers among them, my husband's excitement that FINALLY he is getting a spring climbing trip again....sometimes the little details of life seem grossly unfair.  Well, all I can do is ask for the Lord's mercy on these dear fellows; that they would manage to have a wonderful time despite the bad weather, that something good would come out of it, AND if the Lord is particularly merciful to them, that they would not get completely rained out and have to return home early.  Please God, if it is possible, could their area somehow avoid getting between 60mm and 100mm of rain in the next 24-36 hours? 

I am never afraid to ask God for exactly what I want, but I am not discouraged if I don't get it. My husband doesn't need special favours for his trip, but sometimes God brings them about anyway.  I have a great big God who doesn't mind me asking for special help and sometimes the answer is "YES!"  In this case the scripture that says, "God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust" (Matthew 5:45) can definitely be taken literally! hahaha

I like that verse in the Bible.  It tells me quite clearly that God is not a respecter of persons.  (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11)  It reassures me that when inconvenient or downright bad things happen to me, God is not picking on me.  Because we live on the earth we all get our share of good and evil in the events of life. 

I am not a participant in the "God's perfect will vs what God allows" discussion because whether or not God ordains specific events or simply allows them to happen without intervening is of little interest to me personally.  God is God. What happens is what happens. When you think about it, is there really a difference between "ordained" and "allowed" when it comes to God? I find it easier to let those sorts of discussions go by and just deal with the circumstances I find myself in, trusting God to iron out the details and help me get through whatever is going on each day.  I am not good at tormenting myself by being overly analytical about things I am not going to find the answer to in this life.  I only enjoy talking about those sorts of things with people who are far more well educated in theology and philosphy than I am, people who can discuss "round the mulberry bush" issues intelligently and are happy to live with ambiguity.  In those sorts of discussions it is better if I am the only participant who doesn't know what she is talking about! Otherwise there is no point to the discussion.

Have you ever sat back and listened to heated discussion between a group of people where none of them really know what they are talking about?  It teeters between highly amusing and absolutely frustrating, sometimes even anger inducing! haha

I had a fabulous walk around the town this morning.  I ambled around quite enjoying a bit of sunshine, avoiding the sidewalks along the treed park areas due to the number of wasps, opting instead for the dirtier, muddier and more dangerous route next to the main highway.  It wasn't the prettiest route I could have taken but it was a practical one.  I ended up going the full 4km, taking a lunch break part way through. So, I was only gone for 2 hours, 45 minutes of which was my telephone shopping and lunch break.  There are some lovely trees and flowers in this town, but there is the usual cover of prairie dust and mud in many parts of town as well.  I struggle to see beauty in the prairies. I admit it.  But I am trying and seeing at least some things that are becoming more appealing.  Over time it will continue to improve I am sure.  As I walked about I was very aware once again of how little there is here that is of interest to me.  I am grateful for the people I am getting to know here as their relationships take the sting out of the barren landscape and lack of many appealing cultural events.

So, time to do some dusting around the house and get set up for floor cleaning tomorrow, then another walk in the afternoon.  It is all ready a good week and it has just started. 

PS Got to walk again this afternoon....for all my pride in doing a good long walking circuit this morning, I stupidly missed going to the bank to pay a bill...so, make that 5km I walked all together today.  Now I am going to scrap the dusting and do it tomorrow as it is to be raining rather hard then and not as conducive to walking again. Keeping busy when I am alone in the house is necessary to my ongoing success at battling the temptation to eat too much or ingest the wrong foods.

At Least I Know The Men Are In The Mountains Today

When it works, Spot Tracker is a wonderful help for sending location to others.  I just got one on my email from the Mountain Fellas and they are right where they are supposed to be today.  Whew!  Even when I am not conscious of being concerned about the climbers and their location and condition, I am very conscious of being relieved when they are able to let me know they are okay.  Regardless of the weather conditions I know my husband will be happy just to be out there.

Dissa and Datta

After an incredibly busy day yesterday my husband and his fellow mountain climbers finally drove off at supper time, only an hour behind schedule, hopefully arriving safely at their camp site set up earlier by the other climbers...I am guessing they arrived between midnight and 1am and made themselves extremely unpopular with other campers as they set up their rain tarps and tents at that time of the morning.  Hopefully they are sleeping in today.  It was to be a relaxed day anyway as the various climbers spent a few hours getting to know each other while sorting out the camp food and planning tomorrow's route up the mountain.  Unless the rain is teeming they may do a small climb on Ha Ling Peak today and be better prepared to ascend Mount Sparrowhawk tomorrow.  Both seem to be good mountains for the inexperienced members of the group to do their first summit.  They may also be the best for the more elderly members of the group who are no longer in very good physical condition....not to mention any names.....sorry honey.....

So, I am free this week to have a few adventures of my own.  The first will be in a few minutes when I finally do a decent outdoor walk of  about 4km here in my own town!  Between broken ankles, icy winters, mosqito invasions of previous summers, downright laziness and allergy based mental fuzziness I have never actually walked to Wally World and back in the over 4 years now that I have lived here. Today is the day.  It seems it will be a day without rain...or at least very little rain....breezes instead of gale force winds and cool temperatures that make walking so much more enjoyable.  Our land line phone is dying a slow death, getting faster every day in the last week, and so it is time to phone shop.  If Wally World has nothing then there are a couple of other electronic stores another half km farther on that can probably assist me.  In fact perhaps I will just go there to start with as it is the longest route I can take around town and back home.  Might as well find out how well I am actually going to do on this whole local walking business.

My other chore in the next couple of days is to remove the car from the garage, sweep out the dried mud that will be all over the garage floor from the deep muck in our alleyway that falls off the tires and undercarriage of the car, take the car to the carwash and then park it on the street for the rest of this rainy week.  It is incredibly frustrating to have a garage that can't be used to protect our aging vehicle from the wetter elements that cause rusting...is that not the point of having a garage in the first place?  I don't know who attempted to grade the alleyway a couple of weeks ago but he should be taken out and whipped with a wet noodle for a few hours.  After tearing up the alleyway no gravel was then applied.  I have less than a quarter of a block to navigate in that alleyway to access the garage, but I nearly got stuck in the deep mud when I drove there yesterday afternoon.  The tires of the car are completely caked with guck.  It is beyond annoying.

In happier news, we do need the rain so badly and I am very happy that there is more rain forecast for this week.   Hopefully we will get some good downpours and not just scattered showers.  The grass is looking perkier, the tree leaves have lost their dusty dullness and the flowers are perking up in all their splendid colour, despite the cold temperatures.  We actually had a touch of early morning frost a couple of days ago but it didn't do any significant damage to the plants.

Our son sent his dad Fathers' Day greetings yesterday and included a photo of his art studio at college.  It was fun seeing a few paintings he had shipped there from home that were the same ones we saw in Vancouver in April.  He has made some good changes to those works and began another new one that we hadn't seen before.  His profs are so glad he "gets" the point of a Masters programme: to unpack and take apart all the known rules of, in this case, fine arts and come up with a new package of ideas that bend the old rules all out of shape while salvaging what are the best parts of them. His favourite prof told him that as a result, his new works are making some of the more traditional students very uncomfortable and that is a good thing. haha  My son is definitely in a school with the right programme for him.

My parents have been dining on their new meals from Dashing Dishes.  They were very bored with  Meals on Wheels fare and are not yet at a point where that style of meal is absolutely necessary for them. With Dashing Dishes they can pick and choose at least 8 entrees from a selection of 12 each month. They can choose which vegetables and other side dishes they want to go with the main meat dish, right down to which spices they want to go along with them.  Once a month they take a taxi to a nearby community centre where what they have ordered is waiting in a cooler marked with their names.  The all ready prepared food is packaged and ready to be moved into their own cooler, they taxi home, cooler in hand and enjoy the meals for the next 4 weeks.  Mom still has to cook most of the food but it is all fresh and all ready prepared to just be put into the oven or on the stove top or into a slow cooker. Complete cooking instructions are included.  Mom enjoys feeling like she can still cook a meal but without the time consuming preparation and all the grocery store decisions on shopping day.  Dad even likes the food so that is a huge bonus. His medications affect his taste buds and he is sometimes hard to please.

A funeral for our dear parishioner who passed on the weekend is all set for later this week.  I am helping with the music and all ready praying I don't screw it up somehow.  The last 2 attempts at doing church music have been less than successful so.....here's hoping....

I am looking forward to eating a great Indian or African style meal on Friday evening with some friends.  We have to go to the city for Diocesan Council meetings and that visit is a bonus while we are there. While my husband is at the meetings I will be at a shopping centre with a lovely restaurant and a large book store and a clothing store I fancy. Ooh, poor me...abandoned for an entire day at some of my favourite retail and food outlets. Ooh, poor, poor me....teehee....

Well, it is time to depart for my first really decent walk outdoors since we got home from Vancouver.  I have had lots of 1 to 2 km walks but it is time for a proper hike about the town.  Wish me well....I would hate to be too tired out to do my house cleaning project....yeah....right.....teehee

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Passing of a Lovely Lady

I am feeling rather sad right now.  Although her passing has been expected for some time now, we lost a gracious and elegant parishioner just a couple of hours ago.  I am relieved she is not suffering any more, I am grateful to God that he took her home as she had a great fear of being moved to the seniors' manor if she ever recovered sufficiently to leave the hospital, but I am sad for her wonderful loving family who will miss her so much.  I am sad for the loss to our church family who cherished her presence with us.

I will miss her gentleness and her quiet classiness.  The first year or so that we lived here I assisted her in feeding her husband his meals at the manor after he was incapacitated by a severe stroke.  It was an honour and privilege to do so.  Now they are united again in whatever state of grace God's people find themselves after death.  I pray for her family and I pray that our church people will always remember her for the great lady that she was.

THIS is SPRING???

After another long and cold winter we were very excited by the beginning of spring.  Unfortunately the cold has continued, apart from about 1 week of lovely and expected spring temperatures.

This morning it is +9C, it is raining (the rain we do need) and I had to put the furnace on.  I don't remember the last time I had to run the furnace in mid June!  Brrrrr.....it is SO cold!

I am very grateful for the rain as it is so dry this spring.  The birds outside look rather begraggled and chilly but their bird bath is full of fresh clean water so they are happy.

In Alberta a tornado has all ready touched down in the southern part of the province and the southern part of our province is being deluged with heavy rain.  Hopefully the farmers are done with their field work.

My husband is a bit depressed about the weather.  He and a large group of friends are heading into the mountains west of Calgary tomorrow evening for a 2 day mountain climbing expedition. Looks like their first day may be rained out, but at least for now the forecast for day 2 looks clear and calm.

The inside of the house looks like a bomb has gone off, haha. There are pieces of climbing gear, packets of camp food, backpacks and sleeping bags all over the place.  I can handle the mess the 1 or 2 times a year he now goes on an outdoor adventure.

My hope is that all goes well, that the weather clears and that this group of dedicated climbing men will have a safe time together in the great outoors. What a wonderful way for my husband to spend his days off this week. May all the bears find other places to be for the next few days!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Another Parishioner Down For the Count

Our one congregation is going through a rough patch with the senior members.  We have had 4 in hospital for fairly long term stays over the past few weeks. One of them has been moved to palliative care and it is just a matter of time before she leaves us, one had surgery but hopes to go home very soon after a long stay, one is not going to be able to go home but will be placed in a nursing home and the spouse in this case is not in great health either, another is undergoing chemotherapy. 

This morning yet another parishioner was hospitalized and we are awaiting word of her diagnosis.  She appeared to be well yesterday at our church luncheon fundraiser so it was rather a shock to find out she may have developed a problem in the meantime.

Slowly but surely our all ready tiny congregation is being decimated by illnesses of the aging variety.  It is very hard to watch them falling like dominoes as the months go by.  This winter was so long and so hard on all of them.  My husband feels like hospital visitation is becoming the main focus of his ministry here.  He is so glad we have a local hospital where all of them have been admitted.  It makes it much easier for him to see them at least twice a week.  

The most heart breaking situations to me are the ones where one half of a married couple requires a move to a nursing home and the other is still able to be at home.  At least there are a couple of options for extended care right here in town.  Couples can still visit together most every day for a few hours if they want to.

In other places I have lived, if there are no spaces vacant locally then the person requiring care is often moved not only across a city, but very often to a completely different town that has a room available.  The distances can be insurmountable for the spouse still at home if that person is not capable of driving an hour or two each direction to go and visit.  I saw a lot of these situations when I was doing elder care and in the 12 years since I stopped doing that work the situation has not improved one bit.  Couples who have been together for decades are forced into a separation and it devastates them.  

We are so cruel to our seniors. I admit I have one fear in life and that is my husband and I being separated against our will when we are older.  I have nightmares about it sometimes.  How I pray that if and when we reach that stage we will be able to stay together.  After seeing so much separation of elderly couples I can hardly  bear to even write about it or think about it.  It is an area where I have to trust God more than I have been able to to date.

And the Winner is......

....an allergy based sinus infection.  It is no wonder with the winds howling for most of the past week.  Prairie winds can knock a person right over when you are standing out in the open.  

I am still allergy sensitive from last year's medicinal reaction debacle, although compared to a year ago I am doing so much better.  Just went for my long walk outside, again the wind is strong and have arrived home with my arms covered in small allergy welts.  The wind has dried out the landscape rather thoroughly and all the people I know here in town who also suffer from respiratory and skin allergies, asthma etc. are really suffering this spring.

I have lived in 3 rural towns in my life.  In all 3 instances I have spent most of my time there ill with various allergy induced illnesses.  I am getting very tired of it, I have to admit.

Despite the industrial pollution associated with large cities, my health has always thrived in any I have lived in.  My allergies within a month of moving out of rural areas begin to improve dramatically.  Go figure, eh?  So, not sure if our week in humid, warm Vancouver in April helped me or hindered me once I returned home.

The human body is a contradiction of strength and weakness. We are indeed "fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:14)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Another Cold

Yesterday I realized I was feeling unnaturally tired.  I told my husband I was concerned that it could mean another cold coming on, or perhaps just another bad reaction to the farm chemical sprays around here.  

Another clue that I may be fighting a cold was the complete inability to get to sleep last night. Admittedly I was up until after midnight making potato salad for the fund raiser luncheon today, but still....it was after 2am before I fell asleep.

The exhaustion continued this morning.  I was so grateful that my assigned job for the luncheon was to sit at the door and take the money from and the count of our visitors.  I couldn't get going in the morning fast enough to get into the kitchen and help our very overworked ACW ladies, so settled for helping a bit with the clean up afterward before going grocery shopping and then having a nap in front of the tv.

Now it is just after 10pm and I am bagged, just bagged.  I have menthol rub on my neck and a bandana tied around it, menthol vapours up my sinuses, a clean nightgown on and a heavy terry towel robe to stay warm.  The terry towel robe necessity on a lovely spring evening is a dead giveaway that I am fighting another respiratory problem.

So tonight I am feeling sorry for myself.  Another possible cold or at best a serious allergic reaction to the rural dusts and sprays, a badly cut finger and extreme tiredness are making me sad.  

I have been feeling sad and sorry for myself for the past hour. 

So, that is enough of that now. 

Is there anything more boring than feeling sorry for oneself? An hour or 2 at a time is all I personally can manage. 

Now it is time to take action: going to bed this early to read until I fall asleep is a good thing to do.  My book is funny and will rescue me from the doldrums.  There, it is working just thinking about it!

Feeling sorry for myself....baaaaad!
Moving past it to enjoy an evening of good reading...goood!
 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Grateful For the Spared Life of a Friend

We received a phone call recently from a friend we have not had contact with for quite some time.  He called to let us know he had been in a terrible accident but was praising God for saving his life.

A building he was in some weeks ago caught fire and he was temporarily trapped inside.  Witnesses reported they heard an explosion, saw smoke and flames and then saw my friend driving out of the building and he was ablaze as well.

His head and upper body were covered with second and third degree burns.  He spent weeks in hospital teetering between life and death, was on a respirator for a week in hopes he would eventually begin breathing on his own.  Fortunately that is what happened.

He is amazed that he not only survived but that he has no visible scarring on his face.  No one can believe he survived, let alone look so restored to normal after what his body went through.

Our friend is a wonderful person who has survived quite a few situations in life, both physical and emotional.  We are grateful once again that his time on this earth is not over.  He talked to my husband and they agreed we have not all worked hard enough to stay in touch.  What happened to him is a reminder to us that we have to be more diligent in keeping relationships alive and functioning.  Friends are too important to fall away from no matter how busy we may be.  

We are happy our friend is still alive and now well again and we are happy for the reminder of the importance of friendship.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Small Time Fun

I was getting ready to go to a birthday party out of town this evening when I heard a rustling and bumping at the door of the outside deck. Thinking it was one of the neighbourhood cats stalking our song birds I raced to the door prepared to shoo it away.

However it was not a cat on our deck. haha  The rusting and bumping noises were coming from the wings of one of the brown thrasher birds.  The way the sun was shining as it set created the right conditions for the thrasher to see a mirror image of himself in the glass on the deck door. haha  He was bumping into the door, brushing it with his wings and peering into the house.  Very cute.  It looked like he wanted to come right inside the way he was thrusting his little face toward the glass.

After a few minutes of watching him trying to get to what he thought was another bird, he broke out into the complicated song that thrashers are renowned for.  So many different styles of trills and runs and peeps came out of that  rather unremarkable looking bird.  I called my husband to come watch the display and hear the song.  We stood there so long we made ourselves late for the party! haha

Interesting "Side Trips"

Our quick trip out of town and back also provided some other interesting adventures.  Most trips do if we are paying attention to what is going on around us.

On our way to Alberta we stopped to change drivers on a little side road mid afternoon.  We noticed someone approaching on foot, pushing a little wire 2 wheeled cart filled with camping type gear.  It was an odd sight to see on the prairies on a secondary road that is somewhat deserted even at the peak traffic times. Of course, us being us, we couldn't resist hailing him and stopping for a bit of a chat.

The young fellow's name is Andrew Siess and if you google him or check on FaceBook you will find a public page his friends have put together to chronicle his walk around the world.  He left his home in Minnesota about 2  years ago and began his walk in Italy.  Following a northern route he made his way to China, dropped down to Japan and about 3 months ago flew from Tokyo to Anchorage Alaska.  Over the past few weeks he has managed to continue his journey through northern British Columbia and is now in the heart of the prairies, making his way slowly southward into Southern Saskatchewan where he will cross back into the USA, walk through the Dakotas on his way to Florida, return to Europe and eventually make his way back to Italy where he began.  He is avoiding main highways, taking the safer and more scenic routes and seems to be enjoying himself immensely.  He talked highly of the Germans and Canadians who have been of such assistance to him along the way.  It is always nice to hear good things about our own countrymen.

On our way back home yesterday we came across Andrew for a second time.  We had another visit but it was shortened by the force of the gusting prairie winds.  The wind was howling so loudly we could hardly hear each other talking and we didn't want to hamper his travels to his destination for the evening. He is a fascinating young man and we eagerly await his next newsletter posting on FaceBook.  Praying for his safety each day is a task I am going to enjoy.

Having our supper on the way home was also an interesting experience. hahaha  Monday evenings on secondary prairie highways are not conducive times and places to locate decent restaurants for dinner. hahaha  We finally came across a little town that had 2 restaurants open.  The first one was like an overstuffed bar and was crowded out with half ton trucks in the parking lot and crazy noise inside.  We decided it wasn't worth trying to eat in that kind of fracas.  However, where we ended up is worth a blogpost for itself. hahahaha  It is very typical of the sorts of places so common now in dying prairie villages.

The building  used to be the restaurant for an aging motel next to it.  I am not certain what year it would have been built, but guessing it was in the mid 1950's to early 1960's.  I am not sure it has seen more than a coat of paint as decoration and for building maintenance since it was erected.  

The first thing that hit us as we entered was the odor:  it was the overpowering musty smell of leaking water pipes, with a mild undertone of sewer gas.  Oooh, delightful. The peeling carpet on the floors and splotched old paint on the walls were the next things we noticed. Then we saw the giant open dining space with a handful of linoleum covered tables and dollar store style chairs.  The ceiling is about 20 feet high, the floor to ceiling windows covered in smudges and hand prints. 

It was SO unappetizing, SO unappealing that I was tempted to say, "Hang my dropping blood sugar, just bring me out of my impending coma when we get home and feed me then!"  It was SO unappetizing, SO  unappealing that we just had to stay and see what kind of food we could come up with. hahahaha

What clinched it was our cute oriental waitress.  The howling wind outside was making itself at home inside to some degree as well from the leaking wall joints and this dear girl was wrapped in a big fuzzy parka to stay warm.  She smiled brilliantly when we came in, gave us our choice of tables in the huge space as there was no one else there...big surprise.....and she fell all over herself bringing us our menus and drinks right away.  We decided that perhaps we could manage an All Day Breakfast sort of meal, not trusting the origin of the various burgers, assuming they would be the prepacked and frozen variety. There wasn't a lot else to choose from other than pizza which I can't eat anyway.

The food was a nice surprise. The eggs and bacon were perfectly cooked and some effort had been applied to drain and pat off the grease.  There was tasty whole wheat toast with only a bit of butter applied to it rather than the usual dripping slather we detest.  The meal was quite delicious much to our relief!

As we sat there so unexpectedly enjoying our meal in this funny restaurant, another couple drove up.  The lady got out of the car and looked around for the entrance door to the restaurant, like ourselves obviously not a local.  She got to the restaurant door before her husband, opened it, stuck her head inside, obviously noticed the odor immediately, withdrew her head at light speed, slammed the door shut, motioned to her husband with broad gestures to get back into the car and off they drove to who knows where. hahaha I didn't want to be the one to tell them that if they were travelling in the same direction as ourselves it would be over an hour before they would find another eating establishment of any kind.

Just a few of our adventures on the prairies that we have a lot of fun experiencing.  It is just sad to see the ongoing death of the prairie towns, populations decimated by the departure of young people looking for work, growing megafarms that reduce the need for as many family farm operations.  Most of the towns we drove through in the past couple of days are towns that my family drove me through as a child when we went on our annual summer visits to my mom's family on the prairies. There is little evidence now of the thriving communities they all were just 50 years ago.  What retail buildings are left in many of the towns are either completely vacant or in desperate need of repair, but the most of the mentality of striving for excellence in outward appearance has been decimated along with the population.  The prairies are in a state of flux, a time of trouble in many ways and the motivation for improvement is waning.  It is just "too much bother" and the way things are is now "good enough".  The heart of the people has been hurt and the outworking of that shows up in the quality of services and delapidated buildings.  The rural prairie towns are dissolving at an alarming rate.

I am wondering what is going to become of the prairies over the next 20 years.

The Fun of a Surprise

Sunday afternoon was the start of some wonderful time off for my husband and myself.  Days off are sometimes hijacked by various parish emergencies or other work related issues but when we actually go away for that time we do have a lot of fun.  We were still geared up from the wine dinner and the baptismal service so it made for lively conversation as we travelled to a small Alberta town to prepare to surprise a friend the next day.

It was nice to stay in a motel that night, no one knowing where to find us, just being able to read a book and doze uninterrupted for the evening.  The next morning we woke in plenty of time to enjoy the hotel breakfast and then drive a few miles to a wonderful grocery store before meeting our friends.  My husband got all the food purchased for his climbing buddies in anticipation of his trip next week on his days off.  It was a great bonus to find the items he would not be able to buy in our local stores.

When it was time to meet our friends, visiting from BC, we drove to the B&B where they were staying, the husband sneaked us into their suite and his wife was standing there with her hands over her eyes wondering what on earth this surprise could be that he told her was coming.  When she opened her eyes and saw us she could hardly believe it. hahahaha  Hopefully her husband captured on his camera the look on her face.  It was priceless. Hugs and tears all around.  It has been about 10 years since we have seen each other and wow, what a treat to finally visit face to face.  After a visit we drove to a relatively decent Japanese restaurant for lunch, visited some more, did some shopping together in the local stores, visited some more and then it was time for us to leave to return home.

It was such a treat to see our friends, to drive on a different set of roads than usual, to see a few more rolling hills and trees than we have closer to home, to go somewhere that didn't involve elder care for a change, to shop in some unexpected retail and grocery outlets that are completely different than we have in our own town.....ooooh, it was a lovely couple of days.  It was worth the amount of hours we drove in only 24 hours, fer shur!!!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Wonderful Evening!

Not far from where we live there is a marvellous restaurant featuring ethnic Indian fare with a Bangladeshi twist.  Last night we were there in the banquet room for a special evening of wine pairings. The food was prepared by the cooks at the restaurant, trained in Toronto after growing up in Bangladesh. The wine presentation was courtesy of an importer friend who occasionally comes up to our neck of the woods.  

Below is our evening's menu:  The food was fabulous!

Course 1:  Large slices of cantalope wrapped in prosciutto, paired with Argentinian Ikella Torrontes Melipal.  ("Aromas of white roses, grapefruit and peaches.")

Course 2:  My favourite salad of buffalo mozzarella on tomato slices topped with fresh basil and first press Greek olive oil, paired with Canadian Generation Red. ("Full of blackberry and raspberry flavours with just a hint of spice.")

Course 3: Spicy prawns masala with basmati rice, paired with German Selbach Detzmer Maximiner Klosterlay Riesling Spatlese.  (Riesling are known as "Queen of the grapes.")

Course 4: Braised lamb shank in mildly spiced au jus with baked mashed potato, paired with Torreon de Paredes Reserve Carmenere.  ("Aromas of black ripe fruits, cherries, blackberries, cassis with black chocolate and vanilla notes from the oak aging.")

Course 5:  cheese curds with small squares of mango mousse and caramel mousse topped with a droozle of Rozendal green tea vinegar and paired with French Chateau L'Argilus Du Roi. ("55% merlot, 40% cabernet savignon, 5% petit verdot and cabernet franc; old vines, 35-40 years old, hand harvested, 12-14 months in oak barrels.")

Let me tell you that green tea vinegar is a fabulous palate cleanser between wine courses and a teaspoon on a caramel mousse is to die for!!!  On a salad it is equally spectacular.  I have a bottle in my kitchen cupboard and can't to open it and get using it. Beside the red wine vinegar, grape must, lavendar, kelp and chili are among the ingredients....absolutely incredible flavour. It is matured for 12 years in oak barrels.

In between courses there was a lot of visiting and laughter, a marvellous way to spend a Friday evening.  It was great fun and I look forward to the next such evening in a few months' time.