Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Break Holiday.....It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

And more on that tomorrow after a great (I hope) night's sleep.  Since we are both too tired tonight to stay up and see in the New Year, this will have to do for now:

Happy New Year to all,
And to all a good night!!!

With special thanks to all the neighbours who set off fireworks in their back yards at 10pm instead of waiting until midnight...my sick, sorry, exhausted self thanks you profusely for not waiting, as I make my way to bed for the night!
   

Saturday, December 27, 2014

TOO MUCH FOOD!!!!

My husband's sister is a gourmet cook.  We are about to start day three at her house having a belated Christmas celebration.  It is wonderful but we have all eaten too darned much fabulous food!  TOO MUCH, I tell you!!

We have eaten too much tourtiere with puffy buns, too much turkey, too much yam stuffing with chipotle peppers and sausage, too many brussel sprouts in egg yolks and cream, too many "grandma's recipe" bran muffins, too many bowls of spinach salad with grapes and red/green peppers and raspberry vinegrette, too much cole slaw, too many scoops of creamy whipped potatoes with red wine gravy, too much pumpkin pie and whipping cream, too much carrot cake with cream cheese icing and definitely FAR TOO MUCH trifle!!!!!

Slurp, urp, burp....may the Lord protect my rising blood sugar (although it hasn't been too bad considering the number of cheats I have eaten in the past 2 days...thank you God for exercise!)

This is definitely turning into a Christmas to remember...particularly for my newly expanding tummy!!!  The wonders of the Christmas season have taken on a new meaning this year, that is for sure!!  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Jogging Indoors

It has taken 12 days of working at it, but I am finally able to jog up to 4 minutes on the spot or from room to room around the house.  The exciting part is that it is my "bionic" ankle that stops me from jogging any longer at this point.  My lungs are just fine and ready for more of that kind of exercise.  For me, this is exciting "stuff". No asthma attacks within a few seconds.  That is thrilling to me and gives me a lot of courage to continue trying new exercises and new activities.  Getting older has a few up sides to it after all!! (at this point anyway)

No Road Trip Today After All

We made a decision this morning to delay our trip to see our families by one day.  It is Christmas Day today and we are exhausted. Extra church services (so good), extra visiting in the parish (so so good), extra stresses in our personal lives and in our extended families (bad and good) have all combined to drain us dry. 

We are grateful today for the option to just stay home and do absolutely nothing...for an entire day...not one committment do we have, not even for my very busy husband.  He is sprawled on the living room sofa in his shorts and a hoodie,  the tv is on and he is looking at the guide to find out when the Queen's Speech will be televised.  I don't remember the last time I saw him this relaxed at 9am.  

The closest thing to a stress today is that we are more or less out of food that I can eat because of thinking we were going to be away all ready, coupled with the complete absence of any grocery stores open for business in our little town on Christmas Day.  However, I am quite happy to eat whole wheat cracker sandwiches stuffed with tomato slices on the edge of turning soft and fuzzy, with a few prunes and the last bit of now vaguely blue yogurt I thought I was going to have to throw away.  I have some meat to thaw and some sugar free (delicious!!) See's peanut brittle from California that a dear parishioner gave us for Christmas.  My husband can drink eggnog and leave the remaining milk for me.  Camping out in our own home seems quite a thrilling way to spend Christmas Day this year.  

Wow...is there any joy more complete than finding yourself with an unexpected day off to do anything you want...or nothing at all??!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO US!!! YAY!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Give and It Shall Be Given Unto You

Tonight we enjoyed 2 glorious Christmas Eve services.  My husband outdid himself with the organization and the preaching, the music was so well done and we had a ton of visitors in attendance.  The weather cooperated for those who had to travel into town to come to church.  What a special evening once again for Christmas.

I had a rather joyful encounter with God myself this evening.  At the first church's service it wasn't until the offering plates were on their way down the aisle that I remembered I hadn't prepared our tithe from pay day earlier this week.  I quickly wrote out a cheque for that church and scribbled out a cheque for the next church's service as well.  After a mad scramble to get the first cheque written out in time to actually put it into the plate as it came by, I realized I had written each cheque out for double the usual monthly amount....aack!!  Not that I mind giving the extra money, because I enjoy giving away money more than just about anything else in life....BUT we have some horrendous extra expenses coming up over the next couple of months and my heart began sinking into my stomach wondering if my blunder was going to create problems in a few weeks time.  O well, it was too late by then so I decided getting through the next month was going to have to be God's problem to solve.  it all belongs to him anyway so........

After the second church service ended and we got the church locked up and dragged our exhausted selves back to the rectory, we decided to relax  by opening up the Christmas cards we received from so many folk tonight.  By the time we had opened 3 cards the gifts enclosed totalled more than the amount of the 2 cheques I wrote earlier in the evening.  I realized that my faith in God to take care of us despite my error had been far too thin.  After all we have been through and the number of times we have seen God provide for us literally out of thin air, you could assume my faith in his provision no longer wavers, but you would be wrong. 

The kicker came when we opened the final envelope and found a gift that was 10 times the amount of what I had put into the 2 offering plates at the services.  Our parish council decided to give us a big bonus boost this year and we cannot help but assume they too were giving in faith that God would make up that shortfall from their budget.  O me of little faith. O parish council of great big faith!!

Turned out I was actually tithing tonight on a gift we had not yet received and did not know was coming, but God knew.  Events  like this have been taking place for the last 25 years of our lives in ministy and yet I still wondered if I had made a huge mistake by giving beyond what, until a couple of hours ago, we were able to give.

I am wondering if God is reminding me of what he has done and will continue to do to care for us because there is another financial test up the road.  If there is I can only pray I will not be short sighted enough to experience any more doubts in God's consistent provision in our lives.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fun in NYC!

Our son finally has a phone number in NYC and tonight we made good use of it.  We had a wonderful chat about his life there and the very hard work of his apprenticeship, his amazing social life and what he is learning about working and living Stateside.  Just hearing the deep joy of his heart coming through his voice made us feel even better about his choice to leave.

This year he will be able to participate in an annual Christmas Day custom of many of his friends in the Jewish community: going out for Chinese food.  He sent us a photo of a poster in one of the restaurant windows.  It is a great poster and features the yin/yang symbol in one corner and a Star of David in the other.  

"The Chinese Rest. Assoc. of the United States would like to extend our thanks to The Jewish People.  We do not completely understand your dietary customs...But we are proud and grateful that your GOD insist you eat our food on Christmas."

Isn't that great??

My husband and I have often observed that same Chinese food tradition on Christmas and/or New Years Eve.  In the various small towns we have lived over the years it has usually been only the Chinese diners that have been open on the holidays.  We have had some rather spectacular meals at those times. Often we were the only people or next to the only people in the places so the service was excellent and the cooks outdid themselves to serve their freshly prepared and cooked very best.  

Lots of good memories.....thank you son.......AND we are so happy that you are so happy!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Sweet Sweet Spirit

What a great day today has been!  Apart from a rather rude awakening this morning it has been a wonderful day of happy surprises.

Right about noon the doorbell rang.  When we opened the door, there stood our friend Serge, grinning from ear to ear.  Serge used to live here and is now in full time Roman Catholic seminary training elsewhere.  His Christmas break is so tied up with other events and other people that our brief visit with him was literally all the time he had to spare while he was in town.  We are very happy that he chose to spend it with us.

Later in the afternoon the doorbell rang once again.  Standing at our door was my husband's "second mom" and "little brother" from many years ago in another time and place.  What a thrill to have them drop in to visit on their way elsewhere.  We were so excited to see them and share a cup of tea, snacks and a wonderful, newsy, relaxed, fun visit.

Tomorrow morning a good friend of mine from south of here is coming for morning tea while my husband does a communion service for our elderly parishioners who now live in the nursing home.  In the afternoon he will go to the other seniors' manor to visit two dear ladies who are no longer capable of getting to church.  If no more surprise visits are happening here at the rectory I will go with him.

In between visits I was going over some financial projections for next year and feeling quite encouraged by my discoveries....it is amazing how much easier things will be now that the student loans are paid off.  I am praying for some kind of huge miracle to happen for my son in the next couple of years.  He is only in his 30's but has so many government loans to repay he will be in his 60's before he is finished. 

Speaking of the son, he is incredibly happy in New York City.  He has his first full time "job" (no pay but working 60 hours a week is still a job) ever in his life and is not sure how he is going to have time to do his own paintings over the next 5 months.  However, I think the break will be good for his creativity and the way he organizes his works. He has a huge body of work right now and can take a few months to do other things in his field.  However, I know him well enough to know he will never last that long without putting brush to canvas.  He has been an artist in training since he was a tiny young fellow.

Good news from family and surprise visits from old friends....the joy of the Christmas season.

Torn Between a Smidgen of Anger and an Overdose of the Giggles

Today is one of my husband's days off work. Since he won't be able to take his other regular day off tomorrow due to the busyness of the season, today was to be the day for the big sleep in and relaxing morning.

HOHOHO!!

Guess it wasn't meant to be.  We woke up at 7:30am to the shrilling of the phone.  Our line has a fancy ring for long distance calls and when you receive one of those at that time of morning you can safely assume it is a family crisis, the illness or death of a parishioner, or an over eager office assistant at a medical clinic reminding one of us of the next day's appointment.

Today it was none of those things.  It was one of the scam telemarketers, based in India, trying to tell us there is a problem with our computer.  I knew as soon as I answered and the dear fellow on the other end of the line wasn't sure whether I was Mrs. Anglican or Mrs. Rectory.  OOO, how I wish our home was not listed as "Anglican Rectory" right under the name of the church!  Some of the marketing calls we get, from people who don't know the rectory is not a business and that Anglican Rectory is not our family name, are quite hilarious.

Today the man on the phone called himself Sam.  He has called so often I am able to immediately recognize his voice.  Over the past year he has been George and Stan and Bill and Bob and Jason.  

I was not impressed that he called at that time of the morning and woke us up and I told him so.  Wondering what time he would grace us with another call on another day, I hung up the phone feeling incredibly ticked off because its ringing also caused my husband to wake up and come stumbling out wearing his "Oh no, what new emergency has arisen?" look on his bleary eyed face.

However, as he lurched off back to bed after I assured him there was no cause for alarm, I was suddenly struck by a fit of the giggles.  Sam, or whoever he really is, has the sweetest East Indian accent I have ever heard.  All the cuddly, heart warming connotations of the word "cute" apply in this case.  I do love the lilting accents of India but Sam's is particularly endearing.  As I thought about it I forgave him for his blunder in attempting to scam us so early in the morning and toddled back to bed as well after downing a bit of breakfast.

I wasn't in bed more than just long enough to fall into a deep sleep when the sound of machinery moving outside my window startled me instantly awake again.  What on earth sounded like it was coming right through the front door???

Well, I got the giggles again because it was a faithful parishioner outside clearing our sidewalks and the church parking lot with his favourite "toy".  He has a marvellous little tractor unit with a good big blade on it for clearing the snow.  Nearly 10 cm of snow fell last night and he has just saved us a tremendous amount of work by clearing it for us this morning.  Bless his heart!!  He cleared the snow right up to our front door and I have no shovelling whatsoever to do this morning.  What an incredible gift for Christmas week!  

I have given up trying to sleep now and will get on with my own very busy day.  Fortunately I was able to utilize some free time yesterday afternoon to get a few little gifts for the family and get them wrapped to go in a few days' time when we go visiting.  Today there are arrangements to be finalized for a trip to the northern part of our parish tomorrow so we can have a communion service with elderly parishioners there.  My husband will be on his own for that trip. I am staying home to enjoy an unexpected visit with a good friend from AB who will be in town in the morning.  It is all good.

Then comes an equally busy Christmas Eve day and eve.  Then hopefully the weather and roads will be such that we can leave on Christmas Day for the family visits. From my mouth to God's ear!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!


Sunday, December 21, 2014

And the GOOD News Is.....

All the disorganization I mentioned in yesterday's post has been taken care of!! Problems solved, plans in place, food and gifts purchased and wrapped. YAHOO!!!

How Can You Tell When a Pastor is Planning on Going Away for a Break at Christmas?

You can tell because all of a sudden people start dying and the pastor's responsibilities take over from the planned holidays, because that is what pastors do.  That is why they became pastors: to be available for families during times of crisis; to provide as much emotional and spiritual support as possible when families are struggling to deal with the sad realities of losing members to inevitable death.  It is particularly hard on them at Christmas time because usually Christmas is a time of rejoicing, of hope for the future.  When someone dies during the Christmas season there is something about it that seems even more difficult than when a death occurs at other times of the year.  As of a few minutes ago there have been 3 deaths brought to my husband's attention since 3 o'clock this afternoon and right now it is 7:30pm.

We have been fortunate, personally, this time around.  Scheduling for funerals and interments is not going to interfere with our holidays...at least not yet.  It would be difficult to tell our own elderly parents, who are depending heavily on this year's Christmas visit from their only daughter for some badly needed assistance, that we may not make it.  For their sake I pray our plans won't have to change.  

My husband has spent his evening visiting families, making phone calls and being as much help as he can be.  Before all this news came to him he was so tired he was nearly incoherent.  He had 2 naps this afternoon after services.  It always fascinates me how he can pull himself instantly out of that state when he finds out someone has died and their families are in need.  I think the Lord gives him grace to do that. I have seen many pastors undergo a similar transformation when confronted with the needs of other people in the midst of their own need for rest.  It is just another indication of the calling God has put upon their lives.

So, lots of folk to be praying for over the coming week.  Lots of people to pray with, so share tears with, to encourage as much as possible in the midst of their losses.

It feels good to be able to be there when people are hurting and bewildered, to provide at least some measure of comfort.  In times past people have been there for us in the midst of our own grieving over various losses in life.  It is a privilege to be able to pay it forward.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Where Does the Time Go????

I don't care what the laws of science, reality or truth as we know it tell us, time definitely sped up during this year's Advent and Christmas seasons!!!

Only a day or two ago we were watching the first snow and ice storms while contemplating plans for the holiday season, for the special Advent and Christmas services at church, for arranging visits with family between Christmas and New Years Days.  And now, today, there are only 3 or 4 days left before all those plans have to be in place and will be happening!

We haven't moved the pews in one of our churches back where they belong to accommodate Christmas Eve visitors after attempting a new configuation for our regular worshippers.

We haven't set things up properly in the worship space for the lady who wants to get the decorating done before Christmas Eve.

We haven't yet printed off the  Advent 4 liturgy for the lighting of the Advent candles at church tomorrow morning.

We haven't yet arranged the Christmas Communion service at the nursing home in the next town north of here that is supposed to be happening in 3 days time.

We haven't booked our hotel rooms for next week's visits to the family.

I haven't cleaned out the refrigerator yet of perishables that must be used up before we leave.

The laundry is more than a week behind schedule. 

I have no gifts, nibblies, wee gifties nor specialty gourmet products prepared to take to our families next week.

We don't know yet who is taking the services in our absence next Sunday.

AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!

I don't remember this season creeping up this quickly on us in times past and us being quite this disorganized.  People in urban parishes would be horrified if everything was left to the last minute the way it has been here this year, but in rural dual parishes that is how it goes sometimes; it is just life.

This year the compaction of time has been just eerie!!

I don't care what anyone says:  there were less days this year between the first of November and the end of December than there were last year.  Absolutely true!! Who's with me??

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mr. Irving, You Are So Right!

"If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to  live it."

--John Irving

Oh my goodness, that is certainly the truth.  It seems every good and wonderful thing in any lifestyle also exacts a cost, a payment, a loss of something else that may be equally good and wonderful, or a committment to ongoing sacrifice.  Life is a funny set of cause and effect events no matter your chosen lifestyle.  Some people find themselves in lifestyles not of their choosing and yet seemingly unable to get out of them and make changes....so does that mean they are actually continuing to choose the very  lifestyles they think they want out of?  Human beings are so complex in their thought process, or not complex at all and simply taking the paths of least resistance at times.  All lifestyles we do not live ourselves are somewhat mind boggling, aren't they?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Vague Monday Musings...Coherent and Otherwise

Why do catered turkey dinners with "all the fixings" taste so much better and leave me feeling far more satisfied after the meal, no matter how simple, than the ones I prepare myself?  It isn't just that I don't have to do the work to prepare or the clean up afterward.  I think it is more because if a dinner is catered it naturally implies there are other friends to share the time of feasting with.  Our one church's dinner this past weekend was like that.  I was surrounded by parishioners for more than the opening Eucharist service.  We ate and drank and visited together around a variety of topics.  The turkey was cooked to perfection.  The fellowship was top notch.  It was a grand evening.


Most Frightening T-shirt Slogan Ever:

"Dead rats don't squeal!"  

(Eeewwww...too scary on several levels, particularly after spending so many years doing jail ministries.)


Favourite T-shirt Slogan of the Moment:

"Is it getting solipsistic in here or is it just me?"


Is professional boxing actually a sport?


Travelling to our other church early on Sunday morning on 60 kilometers of solid ice covered in blowing snow was a terrifying one hour journey. It reminded my husband of the Calgary Olympic Park luge track that he went hurtling down a number of years ago. 90 minutes later we began the return trip, after the county had blown fertilizer based ice melt onto the roads.  There was no more ice, just deep puddles we could fly along through, ending up at home in half the time it took us to get there.  For us that kind of fast melt is a near miracle.  Do I want to take some time today to research how that particular kind of ice melt works?


I am wondering about the validity of the aspect of Newtonian scientific theory that has left us dealing with the idea that molecules (physical mass) are the basic structures that cause movement and change and that energies are the "additives", the smaller content, the less than central cause and effect of life, so to speak.  I am wondering if instead I see more sense in the theory that energies are not the "icing on the cake" but the actual centre of science.  It seems that the energies move the molecules more than the other way around.  The common question is, "when you look in the mirror what do you see?" but should the complemetary question be "who is doing the looking?"  Subsequently I am becoming more interested in the work of Gottfried Leibniz. There is a  vastly simplified explanation of some of his work in a little book titled, "Death of the Soul: from Descartes to the computer" by William Barrett. (Anchor Press, New York, 1987.)  It introduced me to Leibniz' ideas and got me doing a bit of research.  If molecules are the central aspect of life then where do emotions and feelings come from and why do they so often motivate "movement" in directions that "mere" molecules do not lead us?


3 day road trip coming up this week.  Am I ready to travel once again into the maze of terrible diners and cheap motels that flourish on the prairies?  Do I treat us to a proper hotel in the city when we head out for Christmas celebrations with my parents or do I cheap out in protest against the exorbitant rates and to save some money for the new year?  I don't enjoy B&B's.  I don't enjoy short term house sits over holiday times because I live in fear of damaging someone's personal furnishings.  Musing: why am I so picky about accommodation in the first place?  I have a medical reason for concern about meals, but since I am barely in any hotel room long enough to even get a decent night's sleep, why does it matter so much where we stay for a few short days?


Am I mentally, emotionally or physically tired today? Let's see...which one shall it be?


Am I prepared today to be surprised by joy? To rejoice? 


Is it time to go outside and shovel yesterday's snow fall off the ice coated sidewalks and pour out another bag of apparently useless ice melt? Do I just put cat litter once again on the soon to be exposed ice cover and pray no one falls down as they walk past? 


Why am I blessed with such good friends around the world?  How can I be a better friend in return?  


Why am I still sitting here musing and scribbling when there is work to be done???? (see previous "orange" font!) 

  


 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

More Newspaper Error Hilarity

Just finished reading our local weekly newspaper and got quite a chuckle out of an error in one of the articles.  Not sure if the writer of the article was directly to blame due to not knowing the correct word to use, or if the error is a result of the writer putting too much trust into the spell checker on a computer, but the result is very funny either way.

How cute is this??

The article talks about a business owner who is retiring and turning the business over to someone else. According to the article, "...the two have worked TEDIOUSLY together...".

hahahaha  Seriously?  Tediously??  hahahaha

Could the correct word have perhaps been "tirelessly"?

When I look at some of the blunders I have made when typing up this blog or sending emails it amazes me there aren't more such errors popping up even among professional journalists.  

This one has to be one of the cutest though.  Lots of chuckles brightened my day when I read it.

Unbelievable Ice

On days like today it is a wonder anyone has the courage to leave the safety of their own houses to venture out into a world of ice, ice and more ice.

In the past 2 days I have used an entire bag of ice melt and another of kitty litter in an attempt to melt the ice outside our house but it has all been for nought.

The ice melt barely worked on the icy sidewalks and what little bit of surface melt was achieved froze again overnight. Today it is like I didn't put anything on it at all. You would never guess anything had been done.  We haven't seen bare sidewalk in several days.  I am so grateful that cat litter at least gives some footing to any pedestrians either foolish enough or unfortunate enough to be out there risking their brittle bones.

There are no bumps, knobs or ruts in any of this ice any more.  It is all one smooth glassy surface covering every street and sidewalk in town.  There is very little snow left anywhere.  Unlike the chinooks in Alberta, melts here are not accompanied by the same strong winds to dry up the puddles as they form.  When I went to the clinic yesterday the parking lot was so dangerous for walking that I actually parked illegally to be close to the door and exited and re-entered my car through the passenger door to be close to the sidewalk that had been cleared by the maintenance fellow.  I decided it was worth getting a hefty fine if it meant less risk for falling down.  (Fortunately I didn't get a ticket after all)

I could rant and rave and rail against the hospital and the clinic and all the home owners here who do nothing to eliminate the ice from their properties, but really they understand this type of ice far better than I do. I too could have saved myself a lot of time, effort and money investing in attempting to melt the ice.  Finally I understand the complete lack of effort put into ice clearing by the rest of the people in this town:  it simply isn't possible to clear it.  Period!  End of discussion!  No way! No How!!

All my neighbours knew that all ready, and now I do too!! 


Friday, December 12, 2014

More Good News From the Doctor

My appointment for my last set of 6 month test results went well today.  While some of the numbers on one of the random tests were up a tenth to 3 tenths of a point, everything was still within range.  One small test from the CBC tests sent me slightly over optimum range, but barely.  I know what I have to do to bring those small rises back down again.  The experiments, the cheating to see what I can get away with, they are all over and done with.  The main point for me is that I just feel better minus the experimental eating and the cheating with any sorts of refined sugar in desserts. I feel better when I eat 50 grams of protein at a meal instead of 75. At this point my idea of dessert is another 1/2 carb unit of turkey dressing, or mashed potatoes with a couple of teaspoons of gravy, or a few extra corn niblets.  If I crave anything at this point it is cooked vegetables of all kinds.  Me 'n' cucumber slices are buddies.  With all the sugar experiments, adding in of extra proteins and cheating I tried, I am kind of shocked that my A1C was the same as it was 3 months ago and that my cholesterol and liver counts are so good.

The past 6 months have been an amazing learning experience as to what my body can tolerate for foods.  Now it is time to get back on track with the diet I maintained faithfully for the first 6 months after my diagnosis.  I feel good about this.  I am not craving anything I shouldn't have.  I am content to live within the boundaries of my disease.  I am looking forward to one of our church Advent dinners tomorrow night....a lovely catered affair that is simply scrumptious every year and is very healthy for me.  That will be my treat for the week...minus the dessert portion of the meal.  I will load up an extra bit of the delicious stuffing and a touch extra gravy for my dessert.  Yum  yum yum!!!  

Thank you Lord for all I have learned in the past year since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  It has been an incredible experience to find out so much about the body and nutrition.

And now it is time to ferret out a couple of tins of olives from the pantry and do my exercises, swinging my arms with abandon as I march in double time around and around the house, followed by my  new addition of jogging. My ankle can handle 3 full minutes of that now.  Life is new and fresh again.  I am grateful.

 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Escandon vs Cave: boxing corruption rears its ugly head...AGAIN!

I am disgusted once again at the blatant corruption running rampant in the otherwise fascinating sport of professional boxing.  Tonight it was the split decision of the judges'  score cards favouring Escandon over Cave....a 2 card to 1 decision in favour of Columbian Escandon over Canadian Cave despite Cave's obvious win of at least 8 of the 12 rounds.  I was too angry to bother watching the evening's heavy weight main event.  

So was there Columbian drug cartel money involved in tonight's decision or what?

There are so few real investigations into this type of corruption in boxing. Why is that? It has been this way for decades. Tonight's bout was a prime example of what the sport of professional boxing has allowed to take place time after time, year after year.  My only way of protesting is to refuse to watch it, refuse to support the telecasts on HBO and TSN.  That won't accomplish much as far as routing out corruption.  There wouldn't ever be sufficient numbers of fans withdrawing their money for tickets to live events, or sufficient pressure put on advertisers from the televised bouts to cause the necessary changes to occur.

It is a very sad state of affairs all the way around. Tonight, not even the sports commentary and analysis by my favourite Teddy Atlas was enough to motivate me to watch the main event I had been looking forward to.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

With Sincere Apologies to Martin Luther King Jr.

This morning we decided to check out my husband's student loan payment situation.  This month's payment amount of one of his loans was much lower than it has been in the past and it was suggested to us that perhaps it was because that was his last payment on it.  Sure enough!  One provincial student loan paid in full!!  Hallelujah!!

We decided it was time to check out the status of his national loan as well and see how much longer we would have to pay on it.  When the loan was taken out originally, the Bank of Canada interest rates were much higher than they have been in more recent years and with a floating interest payment it turns out we paid off far more on the principle of both loans than we would have by now had the interest rates not changed so drastically.

When my husband checked the website and then confirmed with a phone call that we had so little left to pay on that national loan, we both got pretty excited.  I checked our bank balance, did a bit of calculating, then raced downtown to pay off the rest of that loan as well.  

What an unexpected treat, pleasure, joy, thrill, elation....you name it and the feeling encompasses all things good!!!  Whoopeeeeeeeee!!!  For only the second time in our lives we are debt free.  During our marriage we have paid off 4 student loans, 3 work related loans, 2 car loans and a mortgage.  What a fantastic relief to be free of the whole debt.

Debt free at last, debt free at last!
Thank God all mighty, debt free at last!!

Master of the ipad!!

My husband had a burst of energy very late last evening so he decided to keep working on the ipad instructions.  After awhile he finally got it up and running.  Yay him!  I was too tired to even look at it but will peruse some of its functions later this morning.

What we are really looking forward to is being able to store city maps and GPS directions to new restaurants and retail stores, churches and new homes of friends, for when we go travelling. That will be most useful for us.

This week will be a week of experimenting to see what can be done with this ipad without having to buy more apps and services, then we can assess what else we might need to add.  

If we can continue to use it in English instead of Chinese, it is going to be fun! hahaha

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lost in ipad Land!

I have finally recovered my equilibrium after the weekend shrike attack on our songbirds.  Perhaps it has moved on to other territory.  Today the smaller birds returned to the feeders and Debby Hairy was fairly quiet...well, quiet for HER! haha  One of the orange cats entered the back yard today but as soon as he saw me standing at the patio door he fled for home.  That is all it takes now to get him out of the yard.  The birds here are fairly cat savvy anyway and he has little luck catching them.  Since this morning there have been visits to the feeders from all our woodpeckers, junkos and nuthatches so I am thinking the shrike must have eaten a sparrow.  Poor little thing........

Sunday was a wonderful day. Both church services went well and my husband's sermons were superb in content and in connection with the congregations.  Late in the afternoon we returned to our other town and congregation to parttake of their Christmas potluck dinner.  The variety of  foods and desserts was rather spectacular, even more so than usual and that is saying a lot because the regular potlucks are pretty darned amazing!  2 congregations who put on great potlucks....does it get any better than that for a priest and his wife??

The fellowship last night was very sweet, with some community members in attendance as well as the congregation.  It is such a welcoming church.  Newcomers and guests are welcome to bring unasked for foods, to help in the kitchen and to participate in all aspects of the evening.  There is no fussing if some type of food arrives that doesn't quite "fit" someone's vision of what the meal is all about. Last night was no exception.

At the end of the evening's fellowship my husband and I were presented with a special gift from the congregation: our very first ipad.  This group is determined to bring my husband and I into the modern age of technology. hahaha  The ipad will be able to be interconnected with the new iphone the congregation is using now that they have nixed their old land lines, so that will be useful in assisting my husband to better track his schedule for work committments.  What a precious expression of their concern for their priest.  It was an honour to accept it.

We are total ignoramuses when it comes to ipads.  BUT we gamely charged it up when we arrived home last night and decided we should at least get it set up for basic use.  One of the ladies who wanted us to have this gift told me that it isn't possible to mess up this machine to the point of needing a tech to fix it, the way I so regularly have messed up my Windows 7 programme to the point where I can't fix it myself.  She sounded so sure....and I believed her! hahahaha  We found the set up page right away and looked at all the languages it offered us.  I tapped on the English (UK) possibility and the instruction was to swipe across it to go to the next step of set up.  So, I did that.

Up came the next page and the audio voice....all in Chinese!!!!  Wha?????  I KNOW I didn't accidentally tap anything else on the language page with the palm of my hand...or my elbow...or my nose...or any other part of my anatomy!!  My husband managed, after a few attempts, to get us back to the original language set up page and we tapped the English (UK) once again.  On to the second page we went again....and again it was all in Chinese.  hahahahahahahaha  He tried several times again today to revert to English (UK) but the ipad is apparently enthralled with doing its work  in Chinese, so for now we are hooped. hahaha  He had no time to fool around with the thing today so will try again tomorrow.  A friend from AB sent us some good links to the manuals for ipads and we will attempt to utilize them tomorrow.  If that fails he will take the ipad with him when he goes back to the other town in a couple of days' time when he has a regular work day there.  He will try to track down one of the people who was involved in the purchase of the ipad and who knows how to make the thing work and plead for their help. Hilarious!!

HOWEVER: from our first night with the ipad we have learned how to say "hello" and "swipe here for set up" in 25 different languages!!  How cool is that, eh?????  hahahahahahahahahaha

Saturday, December 6, 2014

*Best Email Forward I've Had in Years! (*language warning)

A SENIOR TRYING TO SET A PASSWORD
...
WINDOWS:
Please enter your new password.
USER:
cabbage
WINDOWS:
Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters.
USER:
boiled cabbage
WINDOWS:
Sorry, the password must contain 1 numerical character.
USER:
1 boiled cabbage
WINDOWS:
Sorry, the password cannot have blank spaces.
USER:
50bloodyboiledcabbages
WINDOWS:
Sorry, the password must contain at least one upper case character.
USER:
50BLOODYboiledcabbages
WINDOWS:
Sorry, the password cannot use more than one upper case character
consecutively.
USER:
50BloodyBoiledCabbagesShovedUp
YourAssIfYouDon'tGiveMeAccessNow!
WINDOWS:
Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation.
USER:
ReallyPissedOff50BloodyBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDontGiveMeAccessNow
WINDOWS:
Sorry, that password is already in use

A New Predator Bird

I am a bit upset here.   I just watched a predator northern shrike kill and eat one of the songbirds.  I feel a bit ill.  This was not an instant kill, the little bird was dropped on the ground a couple of times in the process and the terrified peeping brought tears to my eyes.  "Debbie Hairy", our smaller  hairy woodpecker was the first to sound the alarm from the eave of the house near the kitchen window.  When I ran out to see what was upsetting her I saw the shrike making its kill. It had impaled it on a stack of twigs.  When I opened the patio door to see what was going on for sure, it dropped its prey on the ground before picking it up again and flying off with the little bird in its bill before I could get my boots on and get outside; not that there would have been any point to that. There was no hope for the wee bird in its beak anyway and if I interfered then the shrike would probably have killed a second bird to replace the first.

This is the first northern shrike we have had here.  I knew something was up yesterday afternoon when most of the sparrows and junkos disappeared from the yard for the entire day and Debbie Hairy peeped and peeped and peeped.  I am wondering if she had her own run in with the shrike because she sat for nearly 2 hours on one of the nut feeders, under the safety of the eave, completely still, barely making a sound and breathing heavily.  I know she didn't slam into the house because I would have heard her, so now I am wondering if that shrike went after her.

Drat!!  Things have been going so well for the past 3 years with only the occasional small hawk discovering our little bird sanctuary.  I will have to ask my husband what to do now.  It is a bit odd for the shrikes to be this far north, although they do show up on occasion.  Do we dismantle all the feeders and bird bath to try to protect the songbirds or do we hope this shrike is only visiting on its way elsewhere.  Drat again!  

As if there hasn't been enough stress around here of late.....drat again...and again...and again! I am scared for Missy and Wee Robbie and the other tiny woodpeckers...... 

This afternoon was my reminder that no matter how much God influences the course of life on the earth, we are not living in the fullness of the Kingdom yet.  Life and death continue around us, sickness and health, good and evil.  On days like today, when I have been rejoicing in the goodness of God as he helps in the details of my life, I apparently was in need of a dose of the other reality of life on planet earth.  Drat!!

Seeing God's Hand in the Little Details

I am not one of those people who sees God's purpose and hand in every single detail of life.  Constant anaylsis as to what God is or isn't doing in every moment of the day is, besides being completely exhausting, rather pointless to me because I believe we are never going to be able to completely discern his work even at the most obvious times of his involvement in our lives. I think I have a lot of biblical support for that as I read about the lives of the people recorded there.

Yesterday I do think I saw a glimpse of his ability to work out the details of life in a way that made both our lives smoother and easier to deal with, at a time when even a little less stress is very much appreciated.

Due to a last minute change of plans for some of the people my husband was going to carpool with to today's meetings, he discovered he had more room in our car.  He asked me if I would like to go along for the ride, get the chance to stay in the motel overnight and then have a day iin the city to amuse myself, maybe locate a friend of two to have lunch with and just enjoy a day away instead of sitting at home alone again.

Those of you know know me know that I almost never turn down any sort of spontaneous invitation of any kind, certainly not one that gets me out for a road trip.  However, I never once considered his offer.  I had such peace about staying home today to do mundane chores and vegetate.  You know how sometimes you know that you know that you know that some particular course of action is the right one because the peace you have about it is so deep and unquestionable?  That is how I felt about staying home last night and today.

My husband was disappointed but when he realized that my sleep and meal times would be badly disrupted by his necessary schedule today, a day before I have an unusual number of responsibilities at church the following morning that I need to be bright for, he agreed it was probably best.  I simply didn't have time to prepare the necessary foods or replan my schedule as he was leaving so soon after his offer.

Well, all this to say that when he phoned last night to let me know he had arrived at the motel safely, had battled through the fog and won, he was chuckling at how God must have been the one letting me know I shouldn't go with him.  

The old motel is dank and musty and filled with air fresheners.  I am SO allergic to air freshners I rarely last more than 20 minutes when exposed.  My husband said this scent was pungent, overwhelming and he was going to be happy if he himself, who has no asthma or other respiratory allergies, could last until morning there.  

What a fiasco it would have been had I gone along.  The motel is in the town where he is to meet his remaining car pool folk this morning.  It is the only place to stay in that place. It is not close enough to any other towns that have accommodation that we could have gone elsewhere for the night and then returned in the morning for pick up without losing all the time my husband gained by leaving home the night before.  I would have felt just terrible about a condition I can't help having, he would have been exhausted and stressed, we would have had to double back on foggy roads that are this morning coated with a layer of frozen rain....yuck!

So, it may or may not have been God's direct intervention that prevented this day from being even more of a chore for my husband than it all ready is, but that incredible peace I had about staying home indicates to me that he likely did give me the discernment and wisdom to stay home for both our sakes.  That "peace that passes all understanding" was in full operation yesteday.  ME! Turning down any road trip, no matter how last minute, without even attempting to arrange things for my meals etc....well, it just doesn't happen.  I am pretty sure I had a bit of help in making the decision I made. My husband is having a better day as a result.  

Thank you Lord.

Friday, December 5, 2014

It's One Fog Fest Out There!

It is almost 7pm.  It has been foggy here since sometime very early this morning and there has been no let up to it all day.  My husband has just left for a 2 hour drive in it and will likely have to face somewhere between 3 and 8 hours in it again tomorrow as he picks his way across this side of the Diocese for archdeaconry meetings with the Bishop and other archdeacons and lay representatives.

If he hadn't left this evening he would be facing a nearly 10 hour round trip tomorrow on top of the 6 hours of meetings.  In this weather, with fog and possible snow to contend with as the warm front struggles to arrive from the west, he would not be in suitable condition by Sunday  morning to be up and travelling again at our usual 8am leaving time.  He would also be facing being on the road before 5 am tomorrow to pick up the other person he is car pooling with.  This way he gets an extra 90 minutes of sleep to start his day.  He needs it as he is not an early morning kind of fellow.

This fog seems to be blanketing most of the province this evening with no forecast of it lifting before morning, so I can only pray that everyone who has to travel tomorrow will be able to make their own long drives in tomorrow's fog safely and happily.

Poetry Quote

"Dawn snuffs out star's spent wick.
Even as love's dear fools cry evergreen,
And a languor of wax congeals the vein
No matter how fiercely lit."

--Sylvia Plath

Church and Kingdom Quote

"Kingdom people seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice; Church people often put church work above concerns of justice, mercy and truth.

Church people think about how to get people into the church; Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world.

Church people worry that the world might change the church; Kingdom people work to see the church change the world."

--Howard Snyder

Thursday, December 4, 2014

New Zealand Kids Recount the Christmas Story

Sometime when you want some chuckles and some ooh's and aah's over some very cute kids, head for YouTube and look for the New Zealand kids Christmas story videos.  The way they tell their stories of Jesus' birth, in several different versions and styles are fun, hilariously funny, adorable and occasionally rather brilliant.  

I watched one tonight I hadn't seen before where the little girl who is narrating talks about Jesus being born in a stable that was rather "hay-ish" and "animal poo-ish".  hahaha  Now imagine those words being said by an elementary aged school girl with a New Zealand accent and you will get the idea of how cute this is.

Better yet, go searching on YouTube yourself and find all this cuteness to enjoy first hand.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Shake It, Shake It, Baby!!

I have just returned inside after stepping out on the deck for a couple of minutes with the intention of shaking down some more bird seed mixture into one of the feeders.

Oh, I shook it all right!  I shook it so hard that the top pail holding the seeds began to separate from the tube feeder below and I showered myself with seeds of all kinds.  They were in my newly cut and coiffed hair, pasted to my forehead, cheeks and glasses and firmly adhered to my corduroy pantsuit.

So much for the freshly coiffed hair: it is now plastered to my head after a hot shower to remove the seeds and bits of powdered old shells etc. that rained down upon me. Trying to brush those little bits off corduroy was an exercise in frustration so the suit is now in the washing machine.  

Hahahaha....just when I thought the brain fuzz from yesterday had disappeared completely....hahahaha!  

Now I have to take the vaccum and clean from the patio door, through the living room, the office, my bedroom and the bathroom floor to pick up all the seeds and bits of "stuff".  It is going to take awhile so I think I will just step carefully around and over the mess to get back to the kitchen and make my dinner first.  

Hey, at least I know how I will be spending what would otherwise be a slow and boring evening around here.  Work, work, work!  It will put me a day ahead on my cleaning schedule, plus work is always good for the body and mind.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Day of the Fuzzy Head!!

This morning I had a few problems that I brought upon myself due to being distracted, tired and generally not on this planet. I have had too much on my mind lately...problems that are not for me to solve and yet weigh heavily sometimes, my son leaving the country, concern for some new health issues afflicting my parents, etc.  Mornings like this, whole days....weeks even....were common for me for a couple of years before my husband gave up carpentry and we moved to Tokyo.  The depression and stress and disaster that accompanied our daily life back then destroyed my ability to think, plan and act in any sort of normal manner.  There was one fiasco after another and I didn't cope well.

This morning was like a return to that time.  It was just ridiculous.   I had to go grocery shopping and do some banking, mail some letters etc. Simple enough types of daily chores, right?  Well....not today.

I changed purses and headed out at about 10am.  Things seemed to be going okay until I actually started shopping at the grocery store.  Half way through the shopping I found an item I wanted to call my husband about to ask if he would like me to buy it for him.  This was the beginning of the stupidity that would haunt me for the rest of the morning.  I turned on my cell phone, dialed home and a recording came on to inform me I had not topped up my cell phone in time.  My service had been suspended and my minutes had not carried over...expected loss of $114. Sigh..... The worst part of it, this being the first time in 8 years that I have forgotten to top up my cell phone minutes, was that my phone had expired way back on November 21.  Now I know what the chicken scratch writing was all about on my calendar for that date...the chicken scratch reminder I couldn't make sense of. Sigh......

Back into my purse went my now useless cell phone and I carried on with my shopping.  Next idiocy was that I requested and paid for too many bags to pack my groceries in.  Duh, waste of money and the last thing I need at home are more plastic bags, especially since our province is preparing to possibly outlaw all plastic bags in the very near future.  

I put the groceries in the trunk of the car, slammed the lid down, then noticed that the dish detergent bottle had fallen out of one of the bags,and was sitting upright in the shopping cart,  so I tossed it into the back seat of the car and sprinted with the cart back into the store to return it to the indoor cart corral.  These carts are the kind that you have to put a dollar coin into in order to release each cart from the other carts and it was a long way from where my car was parked to the closest outside cart collection, whereas the store, where there had been a collection space filled with carts on the way in, was only a few feet away.  When I got it back into the store I discovered what had been a nearly full collection space was now completely empty, not one cart left to attach my cart to and get my money back out. Sigh...back to the parking lot and slithering across the ice to the farthest away collection site to return the cart and retrieve my coin.  Despite a warmer day today I was shivering by the time I got back into my car to drive downtown.  Oh no, wait a minute, I couldn't drive away yet.  I needed to get a phone card for my depleted cell phone.  Out of the car, back into the store to search for a phone card for my phone plan that is specific to that particular grocery store.  Of course the store was out of cards for my plan...OF COURSE!!  DRAT! Back to the car and then a drive across the icy lot to their gasoline station where I was able to get a phone card...in fact I got 2 of them to make sure I would have a couple of months worth of service.

On the way downtown...finally...I had a flash memory of the detergent bottle sitting in that exact spot in the grocery cart when I first took it off the shelves.  After thinking about it all the way to the post office, I realized it probably hadn't fallen out of one of the grocery bags after I bagged it.  I realized I had no memory of bagging it at all.  In other words, neither myself nor the cashier fellow noticed I hadn't removed it from the cart in the first place, nor placed it on the conveyer belt for the cashier to pick it up and scan the price.  DOUBLE DRAT!  I would have to return to the store to pay for it.  Downtown I found a place to park while I hoofed it into another grocery for a loaf of my favourite bread, (and where I also spilled nearly seven dollars in change from my wallet, mostly dimes, all over the cashier's counter...waaaaaahhhh!!!), down the street to the post office where I realized I didn't have the letter I needed to mail....it was probably sitting on my desk from when I changed purses and forgot to put it into the new purse.  TRIPLE DRAT!!

From the post office I walked a couple of blocks to the bank, only to discover that the cheque I needed to deposit was not in my purse either.  It was back at home with the forgotten letter!  QUADRUPLE DRAT!!!  Aaaaaaargh!!!!!

Back to the car.  I had to go home before returning to the first grocery store so I could unpack and refrigerate some dairy and meat products, plus it would give me a chance to just make sure I was right that I had not paid for the dish detergent.  Oh, I was right about that all right....AND I also discovered I had been charged for an extra package of meat I hadn't purchased. The cashier had double scanned one of the packs.  Aaaaaaaaargh!!!

I located the missing letter and cheque at home, got back into the car and started my rounds all over again.  Fortunately there was a different, extremely competent and very friendly cashier on the till when I arrived. She graciously refunded the difference between the meat money and the dish detergent.  Back to the post office to mail my letter and then back to the bank to deposit my cheque....oh, and to take out the cash I should have taken out the first time there that I forgot about in my upset over having forgotten to bring the cheque.

I returned home with barely enough time to get lunch made and ready for my husband to eat before he had to go to the dentist.  He would have quite happily made his own lunch but he was very busy trying to complete an article for publication before he went and I wanted him to get it done so he would have his afternoon free.  He ended up working for more than half a day on both his days off this week as it was.

We decided to go out for dinner this evening.  He was recovered from his dental work and I from my morning of fuzzy headed distress, but I was still afraid to use the stove....just in case I wasn't as clear headed again as I thought I was.

I am so grateful that days like this are rare now. When I think back to that 2 years of being this discombobulated every day, all day, I wonder how I ever coped at all.  Depression and stress do terrible things to my mind and I am so grateful there has been no sign of returning to that dreadful state of affairs.  Tonight I could look back and laugh about my silly morning because I know it will not be repeated tomorrow.  Today it was a lot funnier than it was when it was a chronic state of affairs.

We will see what tomorrow brings.....never a dull moment around here for me! AND you have to see the humour in a morning like this, right? hohoho!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Awaited Phone Call Came This Evening

I can relax now.  Our son called tonight and left us some work contact information, an address for where he will spend his first month in NYC and confirmed he had prepared some of the things he needed to prepare before leaving in the morning.  Praying he has no trouble with customs and immigration as everything else has gone so smoothly.  

One of the relaxing elements of the chat is that he has all ready arranged to meet one of his good friends for dinner as soon as his plane lands.  We know this fellow and are so thrilled he is excited enough to see our son as to make social arrangements immediately.  We rehearsed a list of the people our son knows there and how many social engagements have all ready been set up with and for him.  Hearing the excitement in his voice on the phone tonight was encouraging.

Now I am ready to let go and just completely enjoy what my son is doing with his career right now.  It has been so easy with him in Vancouver, so easy to get together a couple of times a year, so easy to accept his loving care of us during a difficult time in our lives over the past year.  

I have felt the change coming for several months now, known this idyllic time in our immediate family was coming to an end, changing, evolving, and for some reason I wasn't ready for it to happen.

Now that it actually is, I know It is going to be all right.  We can stand on our own two feet again without the added support of our son's input so often.  Now that we have had our last chat before he leaves, we are both ready to let him be his own person again, fulfilling that to which he has been called.

Why I Fear For The Millenial and Subsequent Generations

The following article sums up some of my fears for future generations.  I am old enough to have watched it all start to happen over the past 20 years or more and I think we are in for a bad "go" due to our own lack of understanding of the moral compass missing through our refusal to consider the proper utilization in our home lives of psychology, sociology, philosophy, religion and family traditions.  The "barbarians at the gate" are indeed our own children and in our blatant self-interest and refusal as parents to sacrifice our own desires in order to raise them ourselves, we have allowed them to be raised in a sibling society, by their peers, without going to the effort to instill world, community and family values in their psyches.  Now we are all paying the price of our insistence on individualism and our focus as their parents on "me, myself and I".  This is a good little article about same:

http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/are_character_strengths_enough

Question For The Day

Is there any experience more frustrating, more demeaning, more upsetting, more anger inducing, more challenging, than being treated like an idiot by someone who is even more of an idiot than yourself??

And no, you don't need to send me your answers...........

Happy/Sad Today

Our son leaves tomorrow for his apprenticeship in the USA.  Today will be our last phone call before he flies south.

I am beyond delighted for his opportunity to further his career and for his chance to live somewhere else for awhile, making new contacts and learning more amazing art techniques in his city of choice.

I am also just barely holding my emotions together.  The weekend was spent hibernating quite happily and not spending a lot of time thinking about what this particular apprenticeship is going to mean for our future as a family, but today it is hitting me.

However, this morning I read an article in a national newspaper about one of the families in our archdeaconry who have lost 3 young sons over the past few years to farm accidents. Their family is suffering great devastation from the grief, the father unable to face living on the farm any more, feeling responsible, the mom has stayed on the farm to harvest the last crop her young sons planted before 2 of them died earlier this year.

As I read about what their family is going through it reminds me that my son is only moving to the USA.  He is still alive and forging a wonderful career and life for himself, an opportunity the other family will not experience with 3 of their children.

Perspective is a wonderful gift when the temptation arises to give in to more grief than is necessary.

All I am going to need is to hear from my son, once he has arrived is settled into his new city, that he is happy and busy and my own upset at the distance between us will dissolve immediately.  I know that much about myself.

I will continue my hibernation from the rest of the world for the rest of today.  It is my husband's badly needed day off today after his intensely cold drive out of town for work yesterday and we like to hide out and just be together on those days whenever we can be.  It is what I love most about Mondays....time with  my husband away from all the other stresses of life, time to regroup, today some time to have a bit of grieving together and a chance to dream some dreams of our own.