Saturday, February 28, 2015

Oooh, I'm So Envious!

My husband has been concerned in recent months about his weight gain, exhaustion and overall drop in fitness over the past 5 years.  The reasons for all 3 problems are rather obvious:  he is built like his mother's side of the family with a middle aged paunch, he is in his 60's but trying to work the same hours and with the same stresses as a man half his age, he has been sitting at a desk in front of a computer, or visiting people in their homes and doing other sedentary tasks required by his job as a priest and only gets any real exercise when he goes hiking or canoeing a couple of times a year because he has not developed the discipline to work an exercise routine into his daily schedule.

BUT since my diagnosis a year and a half ago, he has been growing more and more convinced that he too has diabetes.  His food sensitivity morning "hangovers" experienced occasionally if he has too much starch at bedtime, have been taking on additional symptoms of diabetes, at least in his own mind.  It isn't like him to be any sort of hypochondriac, so I have been somewhat amused at his inability to put the blame on the real source of his problems: lack of discipline to exercise, refusal to watch his diet more closely in the past year and his habit of not being able to take the blame for anything that is wrong with him.  In other words, he is simply a normal middle aged man living in denial about his own health.

Yesterday we decided to put his diabetes theory to the test.  We went out to a pasta house for dinner.  Between his pasta dish with sweet rose sauce, a pint of beer and 1.5 small white bread loaves that he consumed with great relish, we counted a minimum of 10 carbohydrate units in his meal.  As I diabetic I can't have more than 3 at suppertime, maybe 4 if I am able to do an intense workout after the meal.  Last night I had no more than 2.5 carbohydrate units, then came home and did my regular exercise routine.  My husband chose deliberately to have a sleep instead and not exercise at all, so he could continue this deliberate "worst case scenario" for his blood sugar.

We each tested our blood right before we started our meal.  I knew mine was getting too low because we were eating too late into the evening for me after a very busy day unpacking and putting furniture together.  My pre-prandial count: 3.8.  My husband's count: 5.1  2 hours later we tested again.  My post-prandial count: 6.1.  My husband's count: 5.3!!!  He will do a full day of testing tomorrow just to convince him, but my husband is about as diabetic as the broad side of a  barn!  I am happy for him but also happy that he is going to have to stop blaming a disease he doesn't have for the condition he is in. hahahaha

But, oooh it was tempting to be jealous of his blood sugar count. WOW!  I am delighted for him, that is for sure.  However, as of today there will be no more high carb meals like he has been poking down faster than imagineable over the past few months!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Living in Chaos

It has been quite a week!  We pulled out of town for the last time just after lunch on Tuesday.  My husband spent that morning cramming, jamming, wedging, edging, pushing, pulling, forcing our remaining belongings into our small car so we could get the rest of our too many things to the city.  There is still a load of topographical maps and assorted other items sitting in the church basement waiting for his first return service as their Executive Archdeacon.  Fortunately it is a small load of "stuff".

Our trip down was a bit dicey for road conditions.  The second half of the trip included ice covered highway where we slowed to a crawl in order to stay on the road.  In between long stretches of ice were shorter stretches of clear, dry road and about the time we would think there was no more ice, there another few kilometers of it would be, just waiting for the unsuspecting and unprepared drivers to hit it at speeds that would send them spinning off the road and into the median.  Fortunately most of that second half of the trip is divided highway with a very wide median between.  We witnessed a 3/4 ton truck attempting to pass a semi rig while on the ice. They were just ahead of us and as the truck started to pass the semi, the semi spun out and began skidding sideways down the highway, clipping the front end of truck.  That sent the truck out of control and the driver ploughed right into the deep snow in the median, crashed through the drifts and into the oncoming lanes of traffic. Fortunately the oncoming cars were able to get out of the way as he skated between them and no one was hurt.  Vehicle damage was minimal.  It scared us almost as badly as it scared the two drivers involved.  The closer we got to the city the more vehicles we saw in the median, up to the car hoods in snow drifts.  Hopefully there were no serious injuries.  What a way to travel!!  Hope the winter driving will be over in a few weeks, but it has been cold enough here to make us wonder if we aren't in for a very long end to this season.

So now we are living in complete chaos, surrounded still by the mountains of boxes the movers delivered a couple of days ago.  They did a great job, but did have one mishap: one of the fellows fell off the ladder as they were unloading and landed butt first on the main box of my Japanese dishes.  Everything in the box shattered and I am left with only 2 out of 9 sushi plates, 2 out of 6 soba bowls and a couple of small soy dishes.  I should be devastated I suppose, but it was a complete accident and he felt terrible.  We are not requesting reimbursement from the moving company.  The loss of investment is emotional, not financial. I am very sad to lose my favourite dishes, but I am experiencing the freedom of not being angry about the loss....a relatively new experience for me. Usually I fall apart when something is taken from me unexpectedly, but not this time. Perhaps I am growing stronger emotionally.  What a great feeling.

I suspect we would be completely unpacked by now if we had realized just how few storage cupboards this place had.  However, we have had a ton of fun shopping for china cabinets and portable kitchen islands, thermal curtains to keep the draft from the huge windows from freezing us solid right in the suite, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.  Even my husband has gotten into the shopping mode with this wide array of choice compared to our last town of residence.  We have not bothered to track how much we have spent making this old place comfortable for us.  In our entire marriage we have never gone shopping together for 3 days in a row for anything, not even groceries.  I used to see couples shopping together and feel rather envious. Now I too have had the fun of shopping with my husband and enjoying making choices together for our new place.  We have so rarely been able to be in the same city at the same time until the past few years and we are enjoying having the normal daily experiences that most couples take for granted.  It will all end again next week when my husband begins his incredibly busy job, but this week has been almost like a holiday: moving, chaos, shopping and all.  So grateful for all the places that sell various kinds of storage cabinets and bins etc. that make life in a small place comfortable and enjoyable.

Tonight I hung up the first 2 pictures on the walls and used them as part of a small artistic arrangement on one of the stair landings.  That made me feel even more like I actually live here and got my mind off the seemingly interminable mess around me.  Once the rest of the furniture is delivered on Monday, along with the assistance of the phone/internet company tech, we will have everything in place to finish the unpacking and feel like we actually live here. To be honest I all ready do feel that way despite the lack of order and cleanliness, the  mess and the confusion.  Sometimes a person just feels instantly at home in a space and I feel that way here.

The building has some interesting issues, such as the fact that the insulation has never been brought up to code despite major renovations. The basement walls are concrete...that's all, just concrete. There is no insulation, no weeping tile, just concrete.  The cold air rushes in there through the porous cement and the furnace runs constantly. I don't want to see our first natural gas bill, but fortunately there should only be a few more weeks of extreme cold to deal with.  We are in the process of getting thermal curtains hung up to decrease the draft from the windows and my husband is hanging his packing blankets over the basement walls.  In the spring he will do some foam insulating in the worst spots and no one from management here will notice or care, that is for sure.  They have been very good about fixing the other problems in this space but seem to have no clue about how to really make the tenants comfortable and warm.  The management company would never want to spend the money to insulate the over 100 units in this complex but we are very surprised the building inspectors have not forced them to come up to code on this.  Once again....a big difference between one province and the next.  The last place we lived in where we were this cold indoors all the time was in the 1970's....also 1940's army issue housing.  Guess they figured that army wives and children would have to toughen up in order to cope with their husbands being gone elsewhere as international peacekeepers!!

Tomorrow my husband has his second interview at the church where he may be doing the job share part of his new position.  They seem like nice people, and are certainly gifted and keen lay leaders, but not sure how this 1/3 time business is going to actually work out.  Hopefully this entire new job will not overwhelm him and his health issues will not start up again.  In that respect the past 5 years have been marvellous.  I admit I am a bit concerned about this entire venture when it comes to his health.

Time for an early attempt to get to bed and get some sleep....another big day of unpacking tomorrow.  Will it ever end?? hahaha  Will be interested to see how things go here.  At least I was allowed to have my quarterly blood work done prior to finding a new physician. That is a relief....although I don't want to know how much my A1C has risen this past quarter with all the stress and the icky restaurant meals and all the farewell potlucks where I cheated badly and tried to blame it on stress!  Aiii yiiii....

Welcome to our new home!

  





 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Move Out Nearly Completed!!

It has been a crazy busy couple of days around here.  Yesterday our emotions survived...barely....TWO farewell services and potlucks, one at each church.  We began and ended our day with goodbye's and it was incredibly difficult.  At each service beautiful prayers were prayed on our behalf, cards and messages presented, gifts in abundance and we now have a wonderful picture of each of our churches to remember them by.  You struggle along in ministry, always wondering if you are really having any impact on anyones' lives and yesterday my husband was presented with an amazing amount of evidence that his ministry here has had some good outcomes for many of the parishioners.  We are humbled.

As has been the case since this new journey in our lives began, every detail of the last of the packing up, the timing of the arrival of the movers this morning (approximately 30 seconds after my husband sealed the final box), the arrival of good seminary friends who pastor in a town not far from here (so sorry they have been in the area only a few months and now we are leaving...sigh...) and the good visit we had together (again perfect timing as they arrived just as the movers put the last load into the truck), going for dinner out and meeting a parishioner there who sneakily paid our tab when we weren't looking, and even still having the tv hooked up this evening so that I could watch my regular Monday evening programme before my husband had to pack it up in readiness for our drive to Regina tomorrow....literally every little detail of this move thus far has worked out down to the minute to provide the best possible outcomes.  Amazing!

But of course, ME of little faith, struggled with hidden tension showing up in the dislocated jaw and dizziness that didn't disappear until my son prayed for me the other night and I woke up the next morning finally free of the pain and disorientation.  Why was I struggling?  Well, after so many times in life where things have not gone so smoothly, where waiting for the "other shoe to drop" turned out to be the best course of action, I think I have actually had trouble believing my own experience of things going the way a person always wants them to go.  haha  How "oatenazy" is that??  Finally things DO go my way and instead of complete gratitude and joy, I end up suspicious and unable to believe the goodness will continue.  Duh....I have to apologize to God for my lack of trust in his ability to provide good things on an ongoing basis.  How sad is that: too afraid to enjoy the lack of stress that has surrounded this move and talking myself subconsciously into not believing that good things would continue to occur.  Sigh...finally things go my way and I am too paranoid to just enjoy the ride.  So, lesson learned!!

We do not have to be in a huge rush to leave in the morning, which is a good thing.  My husband needs to do some more tidying up in the church office and it is going to take at least an hour to pack up the tv, computers and other household items in our little car while I finish the house cleaning.  I have faith my husband will get everything in there...my miracle worker of packing.  The only thing pushing us to get to bed early and regain our strength for an earlier than originally planned work morning, is that after a few marvellous days of warmer and drier weather it is quite possible we will be driving for 5 hours mostly in the freshly falling snow. Morning flurries are to turn into an accummulated snowfall of 5 to 10cm and the highways could be in very bad condition as a result.  I am going to utilize my lessons learned about not being so paranoid when things go well and assume that whatever the road conditions turn out to be, we will arrive safely at our destination.

I think we have learned another good lesson this week: next time we move we are going to hire professional movers to do the job.  They arrived after 10am and had everything padded and packed before 2pm!  I did a Tim Horton's run and got them each their choice of coffee part way through the move, but other than that, I sat on my duff in a room out of their way, reading a book and letting them do all the work.  It was FANTASTIC!!!  They are delivering Wednesday morning to the new place so we have the luxury of taking our time leaving tomorrow.  It is time to just admit we are too danged old to be moving all this "stuff" any more.  That half ton load last week nearly did us in.  Although we are still in pretty good shape strength-wise, we don't have the mental oomph to want to do that ever again.  I paid each of the movers a hefty tip for their work, but it was a pretty small amount in comparison to the gratitude I felt for all they saved me from having to do.

Tomorrow we leave for our next new adventure.  Now that my secret stress has been brought out into the open and dealt with in prayer, the sad farewells have been expressed, hugs exchanged with our wonderful parishioners and the house emptied of all but a car load of belongings, it is time to get on with our new adventures in the Spirit.  I am on the verge of getting excited....finally.....  

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Few Shut Downs

It is that time in the steps of moving to a new place: time to shut the doors to each room as we have cleaned it out, to shut the lids on the last few boxes for the movers, time to shut down my husband's part of the parish work, time to shut down our internet connection until we arrive at our new home, time to shut down my home cooking operations and time to shut down the accompanying stresses associated with longer distance moves.

My husband has dealt better with this move than any previous moves.  He has utilized his time off and some of his evenings to actually sort his things and pack up. The last minute freak out that always happens as he realizes he forgot to pack one or two major items will be reduced greatly this time around. YAY!  He has only one more major project to complete for the parish before tomorrow and he will get that done fairly soon.

We have to load up the thrift store donations and deliver them this afternoon.  Tomorrow evening we will load up the car and see what we can cram into it so that we can have the other things properly set up for the movers to haul out on Monday.  Changes of address are in, bank accounts are closed out and as of today I have my stress related dizziness under control again. Time to shut down any residual stress that accompanies me on every move and just enjoy the time I have left here.

That blasted dizziness began about 15 years ago after a terrible viral infection that left me so dizzy I couldn't lift my head off the pillow.  I only vaguely remember my husband dragging me out of bed and carrying me on his back to the car, piggy backing me into the local medical clinic where I couldn't sit up long enough to have my blood pressure taken without passing out.  It was terrifying (and embarassing to be piggybacked while wearing my nightgown into a medical facility in full view of neighbours and other patients in our small town).  In less than 24 hours and with the wonderful medication Serc to help it pass, I was fine again but now any sort of flirting with ongoing stress brings it on again to some degree.  After intense prayer the other night the dizziness calmed right down. Last night it threatened to return, so I gave myself permission to shut down the moving process and get into bed at 8:30pm to read a cheap novel and stop thinking about moving.  I woke up  12 hours later, refreshed, NOT dizzy and feeling ready to tackle all we have to do today, but I am not starting anything until mid morning.  First I will shovel the new snowfall off the icy underbase, toss some ice melt willy nilly around the sidewalks and only then will I return to the packing up.

Shutting down the dizziness and stress first makes it easier to complete the packing and shut the lids on the last few boxes.

It will also help us get through our final Sunday of work here:  3 church services, 2 farewell potlucks and a partridge in a pear tree!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Why Would I Want To Go To Your Church?

Someone asked me that question just yesterday.  I was then told, before I could answer, that the person and his young family wouldn't even consider attending, not even once, because the church in question is "full of old people" and "there is no Sunday school".

Well, yes there are a lot of seniors in this particular congregation who are deserving of far more encouraging and true adjectives than simply "old".  Adjectives for our seniors such as "lively", "fun loving", "kind", "kid-friendly", all spring to my mind far more quickly than "old".  Why not attend just one service and discover these amazing people?  

However, we also have some younger people, one family in particular who would be thrilled to have more young families there to support them.  And, when our regular Sunday School teacher has not been available this winter, the mother of this young family has been happy to lead the children in Sunday School.  So, please don't tell me we have no Sunday School.  We do have a teacher or two and a couple of kids to teach.

In other words, please, please, please stop making decisions based on hearsay or your own assumptions that are not based on your own research, on facts.

You want to have your family in a church but there aren't very many kids in Sunday School for them to get to know?  Well, that Sunday School isn't going to grow if you don't bring your kids, is it? You want to have a Sunday School for your kids? Well then, bring them and bring your friends who also have kids.  Churches like ours have all kinds of easy to apply Sunday School curriculums available that are incredibly parent-friendly. In other words, if there doesn't seem to be a Sunday School teacher available then get together with the other parents and kids you have brought to church with you and start your own Sunday School group.  It is how every other Sunday School group in town got started over the decades and now it is your turn to do likewise for your kids.  You say you want your children to learn about God, so why not take charge of that and ensure they are taught by your own participation in the process instead of standing on the sidelines, wringing your hands in despair that there may not be anyone available to do it FOR you.

We all do it. We all want others to do the things we want done rather than get involved and participate in the process ourselves.  I do it.  You do it.  It is natural to want to laze out and hand our jobs as parents over to others.  It is natural to look for excuses to stand on the sidelines and criticize rather than get involved.  

What we are really seeing when we do this is the shallowness of our own hearts.  We want what we want when we want it, but we show our lack of zeal for God when we refuse to ensure our kids receive the spiritual education we claim we want them to have. We want the easy way out and that trumps the importance of offering our own children that pipeline to learning about the God we say we believe in.

I have felt that way myself in times past, when my son was young and we were in churches that didn't have many kids or quality Sunday School programmes.  And so I found myself entertaining toddlers with Bible stories for teeny weeny tots, leading a class for upper elementary aged Junior Church, rehearsing rag tag Sunday School church choirs for the annual Christmas programmes of questionable quality.  I am not particularly gifted in dealing with children, it wasn't something I would have chosen for myself to do at any point over those years, BUT it was incredibly rewarding to learn about how young people think, the depth of their feelings when it comes to things spiritual, the importance so many of them place on having something outside of their own finite selves to believe in.  As inadequate as I often felt as a leader for them, God certainly gave me abilities and them the capacity to understand me and to participate in the classes and stories.  Surprisingly to me, we bonded. I missed them when I couldn't be there sometimes. They were delighted to be able to participate in something of their own instead of having to sit each Sunday in the church service, bored and unable to relate to adult sermons and songs while their parents were on pins and needles hoping their kids weren't disturbing anyone else during the service.

So, I shared some of these ideas with the young man who asked me the question.  I love him for his honesty. His response was that he agreed with what I was saying, but he recognized that his committment to his childrens' spiritual education really wasn't all that important if it meant he and his wife would have to actually do something about it themselves.  He admitted he was essentially looking for a Sunday morning babysitting service while he and his wife either enjoyed the church services themselves without having to worry about noisy kids, or sleep in, or or or or.... I felt sad for his kids.  As they seek their own spiritual journey in their lives they are being denied a chance to learn about one of the spiritual paths available to them...Jesus.

It is just fine to want your children to be able to pick their own spiritual path in life and not impose your own, however, if you never truly expose them to any of those paths you are denying them the very choice you claim they should have.  That isn't fair to them.

God is honest with us. He says that if we seek him then we will find him if we search for him with all our heart.  Our kids will find their way if they have a hunger, but why not assist them by supplying/creating/taking advantage of opportunities to do that very search?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

More Blessed Than We Even Knew!

I haven't been outside yet today but have just spoken with two friends who have.  Apparently the freezing rain we got a taste of on our way home last night hit our town earlier this morning.  The highways in all directions have been closed all morning.  The ban has been changed now to "travel not recommended due to ice cover" on most of them, but the road to the Alberta border is still closed.  The roads here are so rarely closed, even when my husband and I cannot believe they have been allowed to remain open, I can only surmise that the condtions must be very bad indeed.

We ALMOST decided to stay in Regina last night due to weariness and only at the last minute realized it would create too much more backlog here at home than we are all ready dealing with, so returned after all.


Thank God, is all I can say!  Downtown is a skating rink right now so we are waiting to do our address changes until after lunch. Hopefully by then the sanding trucks will have been able to get out and get the main streets de-iced and the businesses will have the ice melt down on the sidewalks. Yesterday it was in the -20C's and right now it it is +1C.  No wonder there is freezing rain instead of snow.  Tonight and tomorrow the snow is coming again.  I pray it gets it all out of its system before our moving truck arrives on Monday....yikes!

As much as prairie weather fascinates me, (obviously, teehee), I can't help but hope I develop some more interesting topics to blog about once we get moved.

Crazy, Wonderful, Back Breaking, Hilarious Times!!

So we have survived our first trip to our new home!

Monday was to have been our day to take possession, but since that wasn't possible after all my husband was able to get some rest and do a tremendous amount of parish work that day, preparation for his departure.  It meant we missed driving in a bit of a blizzard and were able to have very clear, dry roads and even a bit of sunshine as we drove on Tuesday.  Those conditions helped us in dealing with wind chills of lower than -30C the entire day. 

By the time we got into our place and unloaded boxes and boxes and more and more boxes, (How can one man cram that many boxes into one little truck box???), we were so tired and so cold we could hardly believe we were still standing....actually we didn't have a choice since other than in the stairwell there was no place to sit down other than the floor in the townhouse. hahaha It is going to be a really comfortable space once the chairs arrive!!  At suppertime we drove down the street to what I think is going to become a bit of a hangout restaurant for us, collapsed into a warm, clean, upholstered booth, ordered our meal and then began to physically shake uncontrollably...both of us sat there shivering and shaking and I am sure our poor server thought we must be two elderly druggies in need of a fix.  Then we both began giggling uncontrollably and realized that the stress let down was as responsible for the shaking as the day's exposure to the cold temperatures and howling winds.  It hit us that we have our new home and this move IS happening!!

Our townhouse is a nice space for us.  The living room/dining room are the typical old L shape but the living room is particularly roomy.  As we gazed about, our chronic renters' sharp gazes taking in every mark and defect for the walk through report with managment, we were also making mental notes to ourselves as to where the furniture and way too many wall hangings are going to go.  I love "playing house" with my "stuff" each time we move: arranging and rearranging furniture and knick-knacks, filling the cupboards, emptying and refilling as we decide how to make the food prep space work best for us.

Once again the differences in provincial standards of acceptable cleanliness surprised us.  My husband is very thorough in his inspections and although we were delighted with the new paint, new countertops and thoroughly cleaned carpets, we were not thrilled with the plugged furnace filter, 3 burned out lighbulbs, a ring of dirt around the rim of the toilet seat lid, the cobwebs hanging from the ducts in the basement, the broken blind on the kitchen window, basement steps that are coming apart at the bottom and, worst of all, the filth inside the heat and cold air return vents.  When I remember the standard of cleanliness required in Alberta for rentals, the demands on the tenants who are leaving to ensure the place is ready for move-in by the next tenants, etc., Saskatchewan's different standards over all just freak me right out.

Fortunately for us, the management team at our new place got right on the repairs.  My husband likes to do his own installations of bulbs and filters so they cheerfully gave them to him and they have the furnace duct cleaners going into our place at the end of this week to clean the ducts. There is a work order posted for the basement stairs.  We have a different kitchen blind coming as well.  They are a kind and good bunch of folk, but it surprises me that we had to even ask for such basic repairs/cleaning to be done after our possession date.  I am very glad I have lived out here long enough to no longer be angered by the lack of attention to detail (11 years on the prairies will do that) and lack of committment to excellence in areas of life that are important to me personally, but it does still amaze me, I have to admit. Slowly I am becoming a Saskatchewan gal, but I am not completely there just yet.  Different province, different history, different expectations, different culture....the province has many many good things to offer and as I adjust to the more laid back attitude I am finding more things about it that I like.  Give me a few more years though, okay?

The items we found in the venting gave us a quite a laugh!  Obviously a child or two has been living there recently.  Inside the vents we found pennies, pencils, buttons, lollipops, candy wrappers, little plastic toys, a nail polish brush, Cheerios and shredded bits of this and that.  Some little fingers were very busy stuffing all manner of things through the metal grates.  Kids...ya' gotta love 'em.  hahaha

My most favourite time was yesterday afternoon: we went shopping for furniture and found everything we wanted in one place: Office Supply!  Their office waiting room sofas and chairs are excellent quality, professional looking clean lines, nice leather upholstery and smaller than the overstuffed sofas and chairs in the furniture stores. Each item is also about half the price!  My husband got 3 file cabinets for half price, one of which is going to be his bedroom dresser as it has the deep drawers and full pull out he couldn't find with the usual wooden furniture styles.  We each got new office desks. What excited me the most however was finding the perfect arrangment of cabinets and hutches to make up the exact configuration of shelves and doors and spaces for a china cabinet!  In fact, the prices of each unit were so good my husband told me to get 2 of each of them.  We can put them back to back to delineate a space between living and dining room areas, use the open shelves in the hutches to display my pottery collection and the enclosed shelves for my good dishes and vases and such.  I am so excited!  We got all those lovely new pieces of furniture and a sturdy set of metal shelves for basment storage and still came in five hundred dollars under budget!

Like the dummies we are sometimes, we didn't arrange to have the items that were all ready in stock delivered to the townhouse...o no, not tired, exhaustion stupid us.  We got the warehouse workers to load up the back of the truck, drove home and hauled everything over the snow and up the back stairs ourselves....TWICE.  Two big loads of ridiculously heavy furniture items that nearly did us both in just getting them out of the truck and onto the dolly.  We are so grateful to the maintenance fellows in the complex who came along with the big "cat" and dug us a straight, flat path through the snow from the parking lot to our back door or we would never have survived that last part of our unload.  Maybe it is just as well we ended up carrying the heaviest items last or we wouldn't have had the energy or courage to do the rest of it.  I am so grateful that the few remaining items that had to be ordered in WILL be delivered and it will be someone else's problem to get them into the house.  Whew!!!!  At one point my husband pushed the bottom of the dolly over the bottom stair just a little harder than I was prepared for, I lost my balance on the stairs, landed on my butt and started sliding down the stairs and under the heavily laden dolly. hahahaha  I can imagine the sight the neighbours, pretending they were all cleaning their windows or were out sweeping off their all ready immaculate back decks, were greeted with. hahaha  O we know how to party, we do!!

However we survived. We even survived our one overnight in the new digs, sleeping on packing foamies and having dizzying middle of the night allergic reactions to the high gloss, oil base paint on the kitchen cabinets downstairs.  So thankful the double pane windows are nearly new and could be slid open even in extreme cold to give us some fresh air. Fortunately the place has another week to air out before we return. 

Over our delicious restaurant meals we marvelled at how we will once again have a choice of some fairly decent restaurants now, great choice for groceries and generally just be able to enjoy all the amenities that even such a small city has to offer.  We began to realize how long it has been since we lived somewhere that did not require a long trip into a city for shopping and air travel.  Slowly we are becoming free to get excited about the move.  

Although we drove into about 80km of freezing rain on the way home last night it wasn't bad enough to create more than a slight delay as we slowed down to avoid sliding into the ditch.  We lost less than a half hour of time in total.  What a grand round trip for a mid winter run.

So today is "change of address" day for all the downtown businesses whose most recent bills we have had to wait for, pay and then be able to get the address change arranged.  The electronic age is marvellous with all the arrangements made for immediate change instead of having to put everything into place weeks in advance.  Must go and get dressed and ready, get my husband set to do a lot of talking since most of these particular businesses have all their paperwork in his name, as we head out into the wind and cold once again.

For the past week my jaw has been misaligned due to the tensions involved in moving and by last night the inflammation was so bad it was effecting my hearing.  I woke up at about 3am just disgusted by it all since I know how much work there is left to be done over the next few days, prayed and asked God to please deliver me from the stress so that I wouldn't crater before we are done this process, went back to sleep and woke up for breakfast with all the pain and problem gone. Thank you Lord!!  Just talking to God and knowing he is there relaxed me so much.  No pain, hearing is fine...YES!!  I should have done a lot more relying on God over the past 2 weeks and gotten my head out of the little details of moving a lot sooner!

Have a great day everybody!!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

How Do You Spell Relief? D-E-L-A-Y!!

When we got home from church this afternoon there was a somewhat frantic sounding message on the phone from the managment company of the townhouse we are moving to.  Apparently when it was arranged for us to take possession of our place tomorrow, no one remembered that it is the Saskatchewan Family Day holiday.  Ergo: there is no one in the office tomorrow to do the walk through and give us our keys etc.

In other words we will not be leaving for our first trip to our new home tomorrow morning after all.  We have to wait until the following day.

This creates a few small possible problems, definitely a couple of disappointments, but the problems may be easily solved.  The management rep we have been dealing with agreed to give permission to the telephone company to come in to do our phone hook up at the arranged time and day even though we will not yet have taken possession of the place.  That kept my husband calm and kept me from feeling like things are starting to fall apart....90 minutes of sleep last night could have created that effect in my emotions had my husband not been able to make the phone arrangement.  Fortunately my husband's assistant is prepared to do the church service here on Tuesday evening and there are a couple of very capable people in our other church who may agree to do the Ash Wednesday service there....Lord willing, anyway.  It will be disappointing to miss the services, particularly as they are very special ones and among the last my husband was to do here, but that is how life goes sometimes.

The GOOD part of this delay is that my husband, who has worn himself ragged today packing up the truck with the first load of boxes we are taking ourselves, can sleep in tomorrow and then get a swack of parish work done in the afternoon and evening. Yes, it takes one day away for parish work at the other end of the week, but if we were going to our new home he would have to set the alarm for early in the morning and we would be on the road all ready after an early breakfast.  He is so tired he is mixing up his words and his face is as white as a sheet.  He didn't sleep much longer last night than I did.

I am so relieved that he has tomorrow to regroup.  I am so relieved we can catch up on our sleep tonight without a big push being forced upon us tomorrow.  I am so grateful that we will not be travelling on the final day of a long weekend holiday. 

Another good point to this delay is that by Tuesday the originally unpredicted, unexpected snowfall that arrived this afternoon and is to carry on for the next 24 hours will be all over and the sun should be shining.  We may not have to face treacherous roads and a miserable unload at the other end of the trip after all.

So far things have worked out or not worked out as planned for good reasons.  I am keeping my tired eyes focused on next weekend's farewell potlucks and social times at our two churches.  If we have to say goodbye there are few ways better to do so than with food and fellowship!!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentines' Day With Us Guys

I know life is going on as is normal for us around here when it is Valentines' Day, my husband completely forgets, we run across a severely under funded Roman Catholic seminary student from Nigeria who doesn't know how to buy Canadian groceries and needs a donation so he can get a haircut, then we end up in a diner discussing theology with a French Canadian and I receive a lovely Valentines' Day rose from a Philipina server who neither speaks nor understands English.

There is a certain security in knowing that despite the upcoming changes life tends to proceed as usual for us.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Two Households....Arrrrrggghh!

This afternoon I thought about what we are going to need to survive a few days in the new place before the movers bring our things.  It is a good thing we have some room in the half ton to take all the provisions!! haha

I have camp mattresses and bedding, a small suitcase with a week's worth of clothes and my husband will put together one for himself, a backpack of dishes with cutlery, a pot, a cutting board and a butcher knife, a set of towels for each of us and a set for the kitchen, a kettle, personal hygiene products and hair styling equipment, makeup and medications, hand soap, dish and laundry soap, a couple of small lamps and a phone for testing out whether or not the new line is working properly.

Can you tell I am determined not to take a hotel for the few nights before the moving van arrives?  I want any spare money to go toward new living room furniture and desks and not into the pockets of the owners of a hotel chain.  I will take my own breakfast foods on our first trip down and get a few groceries at the store near our new place to have in place for the second trip down.

One thing I am not taking down ahead of time is my computer.  I can live happily without it for a week or so.  Every so often it is nice to know no one can find me and I don't have to feel accountable to anyone with emails and blogging etc.  Once I am reconnected it will be a great thrill to be back in touch, but a couple of times a year I need time off. This is a built in time for a communications break.  No phones to answer for the first few days will also be quite wonderful.  I love my phone but good sense has to prevail occasionally and I need to take time away from calls.  

I am so grateful for the way things are coming together.  We were able to provide our change of address to a few companies today, more next week between trips.  The truck is partially packed for trip number one and my husband spent some time figuring out how to maximize the space.  What a wonderful blessing to have access to that truck. Thank you Lord and thank you Cliff and Yvonne!!

My final doctor's appointment this afternoon went very well.  O how I am going to miss that wonderful doctor of mine.  She seems sorry to be losing me as a patient....only because I am obedient and it has shown good results. haha I wish she and my current dentist were moving along with me, but no such luck! haha

Time to go and eat my rather late evening meal.  My husband is at a restaurant with his assistant and the assistant's post-ordination committee for a meeting and I have been enjoying a television programme I rarely get to watch.  

Had some company from our other church today as well.  We had the most wonderful chat.  Wish we had been geographically closer, or at least that winter weather has not gotten in the way of the two of us getting together more often.

Okay...food...must eat....noodles and chicken and veggies and fruit....YUM!  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Scared Myself Today!

Our neighbour once again dragged his snow remover across our sidewalk after I had all ready shovelled and once again left me with a thick, icy buildup to chip off in order to liberate my sidewalk.

So, after lunch I went out and did exactly that.  When I was done I felt completely worn out and kind of "odd",  for lack of a more descriptive word, but basically brushed off my boots at the front door and walked through the house to the garage by the back door, hopped into the car and headed out for a bit of retail therapy.

One thing my doctor told me over a year ago is that I should check my pulse every so often when exerting myself that strenuously, just because my age, family medical history, and my own chronic condition could set me up for a heart attack.  For some reason I have never once followed her advice.

Today I remembered it after a racing trip through WallyWorld to pick up some new oven mitts (so CUTE with little owls drawn onto them) and a couple of new door mats for the suite, then a quick rush through the liquor store for some of my husband's favourite beer.  As I drove back to the bank and pharmacy I realized I hadn't really gotten over the "odd" feeling I had after shovelling, so while I was at the pharmacy I checked my blood pressure.  My BP was just fine, amazing and wonderful and in the optimal range.  My PULSE however was frighteningly high!  And this was almost an hour after I had finished shovelling.

No one was waiting to use the machine, so I sat there for a couple of minutes trying to calm myself.  2 minutes later I took the test again and my pulse had come down about 10 points but that was still too high.  It took 6 minutes of me just sitting still and not thinking about anything for it to come back to the highest end of acceptable range and another 4 minutes for it to be anywhere near where it should be. Aiii yiiii.....

I don't even want to know what my pulse rate was immediately after shovelling. The shock could make me pass right out!  O my....

I told my husband and he said that I am done shovelling for the next couple of weeks while we are getting ready to move.  Even though he is not supposed to shovel, he will do it for me if we get the predicted snow on the weekend.  He was most unimpressed with my numbers.  So much for my idea that I can beat up that ice on the sidewalk and race about at top speed removing it.  Guess it is a very good thing that there will be no shovelling for me to do when we get to the city.    Drat....I like shovelling...but guess it doesn't like me as much.  Rats......

O How My Son Makes Me Laugh

I received an hilarious email from my son this morning.  He has many funny experiences in his life. He seems to stumble into them without looking for them.

Last night he was invited to the home of a friend who recently purchased a home from the widow of the late actor Heath Ledger.  The friend has not yet moved into the place but was eager to show it off.  My son fell in love with a claw footed bathtub in one of the bathrooms. He told his friend that there is only a shower at the place where he lives and has not had a hot soak in a tub for a couple of months now, so his friend told him to run himself a bath and enjoy himself.  

He said that it was the most amazing spiritual experience, sitting in a gorgeous antique bathtub, in an otherwise completely empty, formerly celebrity owned, residence, watching his toes and fingers wrinkle up in the hot water.  He spent an hour in the tub contemplating life and spirit and career.  He is at a bit of a crossroads in his life and has many questions to answer over the next 3 months about what he is going to do for his next body of art work and where he is going to live, etc.  The serenity of sitting so long in the never ending flow of hot water and just having time to think made God seem so close again.  

What a delightful experience he had, all alone, soaking in a tub in a big empty celebrity residence in the middle of a great big city....typical of his life experiences and so much fun for us to read about.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Once Again The Still Small Voice Triumphs

This morning my husband misread an email from the ministerial association in our other town. He thought there was a ministerial meeting today, when it is actually tomorrow. Short version is that as a result of his error, he rearranged another meeting and moved IT to today instead of its original time tomorrow.

Before we left home he realized his error and wondered if he should move meeting #2 back to its original time tomorrow.  It meant another trip today if he didn't, one we really didn't want to take time for in light of how busy things are here at the moment.

However, we both had a small niggling in our minds that we were to go today anyway for that second meeting.  We didn't want to go.  We knew that once we arrived there we were going to have to face up to finding out what was wrong with the borrowed truck we were to have picked up there on Sunday, the one to assist with our move, but that my husband had't been able to even open the doors of with the keys, or to start with the auto ignition key.

We hemmed and hawed and then decided that we needed to obey that little nudge we both felt to leave things alone, go to the other town for the rearranged meeting and check on that truck.  We didn't feel pushed or prodded or urgent about it, just a peaceful feeling that going down both days would be the right thing to do.

What a relief that we actually heeded the still small voice this time with so little haggling and uncertainty!!  On the way there I asked my husband if he thought it was possible that our friend had actually given him the keys for his other vehicle accidentally, instead of the keys for the truck.  Hmmmm....maybe.....but it would require hooking up with the people renting the basement of our friend's house to be able to gain access to the house and look for other keys....could be a big problem.

However, my husband decided it was worth a try to drive by the house and see if the renters were there.  Well, one of them was there all right and she confirmed that we did indeed have the wrong keys. No wonder they wouldn't work in the truck!!!  After she got us the correct set of keys she then informed us that it was quite interesting that we had picked today, at noon, to come to check that out.  Today is the only day she came home this week at lunch time and by tomorrow she won't be around at all for the rest of the week! Had we not gone down there today, at that exact time as well, we would still have the wrong keys and not be able to use that truck for the initial stage of our move on Monday!!! Whew and double whew, and THANK YOU LORD!!

Just another of life's details that could have created a huge problem had we not for once in our lives, been attuned to hearing that still small voice of the Lord, and also for once in our lives, managed to obey it without question and without wasting precious time!  

I think the people praying for us over the past few days about this truck problem are responsible for all the help we got today.  God listened and was able to get through to us to get a move on and get to that other town.

One thing we have learned over the years is that a mistake is not always a mistake in God's economy.  If my husband had not misread that email this morning we would not have gone to the other town tomorrow, would not have found anyone with access to the correct set of keys and that badly needed truck would still be there, with us at home here fretting and agonizing over what to do to replace it with short notice.

Thank friends and thank you Lord!!!

Sadness For the Prairie Arts Scene

Yesterday a fatal car accident ended the lives of four members of the prairie arts scene and a fifth unfortunate man as well.

Among the dead is the co-founder of Calgary's One Yellow Rabbit theatre company, Michael Green.  I have not seen nor spoken to Michael in about 30 years, but I do remember him.  When my first roommate and I moved into our first apartment in downtown Calgary, a grubby, low class, "furnished" arrangement in the highest crime area of the city, known by every cab driver in the area, Michael was the tennant who moved out just ahead of us.  He came to visit us several times and what I remember is that he had the best sense of humour...understated and absolutely hilarious.  He stopped by every so often for a visit over the subsequent 2 or 3 years and when he stopped coming by we really missed his kind and funny presence.  We ran into him sporadically over the next decade but by then we had all moved on to different circumstances.  I am so sad that he lost his life at age 58.  I am sad for all those who died and their families and colleagues.  It appears they are victims of the prairie weather and the havoc it was wreaking on the highways over the past couple of days.

Rest in peace Michael.  If I miss you after not seeing you in decades, I cannot imagine the grief of those who knew you well.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Worship Times I Crave

I was reading the February 2015 edition of the Calgary Diocesan newspaper, The Sower, this morning and found the following quotes there.  They so describe the kind of church worship times that pulled me into the church during my first ten years as a disciple of Christ.  They were glorious times and amazing days.  They describe the kind of worship that touches my heart still today.  I pray I will find myself in a church in our new city of residence that worships and rejoices on so many levels as a regular practice.


"The secret to freedom from enslaving patterns of sin is worship.  You need worship.  You need great worship.  You need weeping worship.  You need glorious worship.  You need to sense God's greatness and to be moved by it - moved to tears and moved to laughter - moved by who God is and what He has done for you." - Tim Keller, Senior Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

"God directs his people not simply to worship but to sing his praises 'before the Nations'.  We are called not simply to communicate the Gospel to non-believers; we must also intentionally celebrate the Gospel before them."-Tim Keller

"Rejoice! Rejoice!
Let every tongue rejoice
One heart, one voice,
O Church of Christ, rejoice."-Townend/Getty - Come People of the Risen King

Monday, February 9, 2015

Another Magical Snowy Evening

Tonight when I took the garbage bin to the curb it was snowing ever so lightly.  Since it was nearly 10pm it was also totally dark with only a few street lights shining. The snow looks so beautiful as the tiny flakes stream past the lights.  The air was misty and "thick" with frosty particles.  

Since it was too late to make noise shovelling, I took the broom out and swept a path up and down the sidewalk.  When it is so beautiful I just have to be out in it.  There was no wind at the time so the snow was falling gently and the cold air was nippy without being so bone chilling that it wasn't fun to be outside.  

When I dream of living somewhere that has no winter season, I have to admit how much I would miss experiences in the snow like I have had over the past week.  The snow is to turn to ice pellets sometime during the night tonight so will be interesting to see what that looks like in the morning.  I don't think it will be so wonderful in the daylight and it will make driving treacherous, but right now there are only a couple of centimeters of snow to contend with, clean and bright and fresh.

Tomorrow morning friends from Alberta are stopping by for a quick visit on their way eastward to Manitoba.  We are very excited to see them. Once we move we will no longer be on their path of travel to their families out there.  In the afternoon I am taking a former neighbour of mine out for tea. She is nearly 100 years old and, until recently, bright as a button but she is becoming forgetful and taking on worries.  I do want this final visit before we move away to leave her laughing.

My husband spent a productive day off from work by packing up his massive tea and spice collection.  He went through every package and every jar, combining, tossing out excess and really enjoying the process.  I can hardly believe all he accomplished today.  I was inspired.  I packed up almost all of the food in the storage cupboard and also packed most of my clothes, leaving  just enough in the closet for the next 2 weeks.

A week from today is possession day for the townhouse so I am praying for good roads and decent weather so the first trip to our new home is not a miserable experience.

Heard from yet another friend in the Regina area that she is very excited we are "coming back closer to us at last!!"  O it is going to be wonderful to have a home close to friends again.  We have moved so often I think I am seeking roots for the first time in my life.  Such relief that we are not going to a totally new area and having to start all over again.  

Well, better get some sleep so I can truly enjoy our social committments tomorrow.  Then the final push begins to complete all the details for work and packing up for the move. The guest room is officially closed and there is no extra food around for drop ins.  The freezer is nearly cleaned out and so is the refrigerator.   My husband has been warned that some of our meals over the next 2 weeks are going to be a bit odd as I try to use as much of our food as possible to avoid moving it all.

What a great day, ending out of doors in the lovely, gorgeous, amazing snowfall.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Just wondering.....

....why so many crouton packages have sealed plastic wraps around the croutons.  They are stale bread and generally tooth breakingly so even with the sealed wrap. Why not save money and cut back on the amount of wasteful plastic wrap that ends up in the landfills?

Just wondering why I am wondering about something so inane....too tired to be sensible I suppose.........

A Delightful Visitor

Our overnight visitor last night is the fund raising organizer for our diocese. What a delightful person he is.  He had our congregation here figured out in about a minute flat and could hear what they were saying to him about the state of our finances and the general condition of their part of the parish.

He has been all over the world and knows the same cities that I know. He and his family live in Toronto so it was fun for me to hear his impressions of how the city has changed since I was last there. He and his wife are true outdoor adventurers and my husband so enjoyed his stories about their trips on white water and all the places they have gone trekking.

He still rides his motorcycle...an instant guarantee of his acceptance in our home, where my husband and I still talk together about those good old times of biking here and there and everywhere.

We had such a great visit.  He was genuinely happy to be able to camp out on camping mats, wedged between packing boxes in what remains of our guest room accommodation.  As of now it is officially closed for any more company, but we are glad that even in the midst of the mess it was able to offer a place to sleep for a lovely visitor.

In the past week we have had a fair amount of company here at the rectory so socially we are "going out on a high".  Time spent with parishioners, diocesan visitors and other friends passing through makes leaving easier, keeps our minds away from the logistics of the move for a few hours at a time.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Torqued!!

Until this morning I have done pretty well handling the stress of our current situation of moving and preparing to change our lives once again.  

This morning, when I realized that a well meaning neighbour had taken his snow clearing machine along our entire block, including in front of our place where I so painstakingly shovelled for two hours yesterday and that his tires had pulled a fair amount of snow down from along the edges of where I had piled it on the lawn, thereby packing the snow over an inch deep along the entire expanse of sidewalk, I absolutely lost it.

Furious, and furious at myself for feeling so furious, I donned my boots and coat, grabbed a shovel and headed out for an otherwise unexpected forty minutes of chipping and bashing and stomping on the packed snow to clear it off the sidewalk for a second time.  I was so mad I was shaking and I am sure my heart was pounding badly by the time I was done.  My anger was completely out of proportion to the incident.  To be clear, I wasn't angry with the neighbour and his good intentions and his work to clear our block of snow, even if he wasn't particularly successful.  I was mad at God for letting it happen.

And isn't God really the ultimate recepticle for our anger or bitterness?  We might think we are mad at another person, or at ourselves for being so helpless to fix some of our unfixable life situations, but if we are truly honest with ourselves it is really God, or the universe or some other cosmic force that we are angry at deep down in the core of our being.  Even people who don't believe in God can get pretty angry at life's circumstances or some other concept or being outside of their own control or imagination or creation.

In this case I know for a fact I was mad at God!!  Grrrr, mumble, grumble, complain and carp!!!  Childish and ridiculous I know, but that is the indicator of a climbing stress level for me.  The world is out to get me and it is all God's fault.  Aiiii yiiiii.....I am confessing this with some degree of embarrassment for my reaction to a fairly simple and simply solved situation.  I need to confess it because there is nothing like confession to direct my attention to a deficit in my own character that needs some attention.

So, time to examine my level of stress and start doing something to contain it and deal with it.  I am going to start with a hot shower and hair treatment, taking some time to read some newspapers and just relax for the rest of the morning.  This afternoon I will have lots of time to prepare the guest room for our overnight visitor and get some semblance of a decent supper on the table.  We certainly had fun with our dinner guest last night and tonight will be grand as well.  Then tomorrow afternoon I can start the next round of serious packing up.  There is lots of time...I need to remember that.  Losing forty minutes for an unexpected round of ice and snow hammering is NOT a big deal.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Done In!!

I am completely, utterly exhausted after nearly 2 hours of shovelling out the front of our house and the sidewalk along the street in -27C temperatures.  O my....this is only the second time in the past 5 years that I can remember the snow being up past my knees along most of the sidewalk areas and so encrusted by the constant wind that I had to break it into chunks to manage to remove it.  It is quickly turning into the kind of hard snow that is good for making igloos.  When the length of sidewalk I am responsible for equals approximately half of the entire block it does take some time to clear it.

My husband made me come inside and take a break part way through and I am glad he did.  I am not always wise enough to take a break from any task without being urged to do so, particularly one that is so physically tiring but in such need of being done.  Whew!

It is going to be extremely odd to me when we move to our new place in the city. There will be no shovelling or yard work for us to do as it is all done by the management company.  It will be kind of like condo living in that respect.  On the one hand I am really going to miss it. On the other hand my aging body is starting to rebel during these prolonged times of working so hard outside in the seasons of extreme cold and heat.  I found myself this past summer waiting for the grass to be somewhat longer between cuttings than I have ever waited before and feeling the occasional sense of relief when the rain would come teeming down on a designated cutting day, forcing me to wait an extra day or two until the lawn was dry enough again to cut.

Well, I suppose I had better get moving and get some lunch fixings underway.  I have a roast chicken dinner to prepare for a friend visiting this evening and by mid afternoon there will be sufficient snow blown over the sidewalks again to warrant a second round of shovelling.  Nice to know in advance how my day will unfold.  So far so good!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Why Isn't Eleven Pronounced Onety-One???

And why is being outside in the evening dark, in a blizzard, shovelling snow and freezing my fingers off so darned fulfilling??

My husband drove back from our other church town tonight in a raging blizzard.  The east wind was blowing the snow right down the middle of the highway, piling it up in tall mounds on every straight stretch of road.  (He arrived home safely, thank goodness after a very slow drive!)

While he was on the way here I was out behind the garage shovelling out huge drifts that would have made his entry onto the property and into the garage nearly impossible.  The east wind blows over the top of our garage and then drops all the snowfall straight down, splat, onto the nice flat space there behind the house.  Then the wind whips past the side of the garage and spirals into the corner formed where the house and garage meet.  The snow begins to pile up in there and eventually works its way right across the entry doors to both house and garage and then funnels on westward across the driving space.  As it deepens it manages to sift under the garage door in a couple of places where the seal isn't tight, dotting the inside floor with tiny mounds of snow. Opening the garage door to sweep those little mounds out resulted tonight in fierce gales tossing the snow right back inside and plastering my face with icy flakes.

If I hadn't shovelled out the entire back driving space my husband would have high centered the car attempting to get it into the garage.  What fun I had out there: pushing snow, carrying snow, falling in the snow, (and okay, yes, I gave in to the impulse to create a snow angel while I was down there, even though the indentations were filled up again with fresh snowfall in less than a minute), grunting with the effort of lifting the shovel over and over again to heap the snow up where it would be out of the way of the car, the wind turning my hair into octopus tentacles waving madly about, snow flakes rushing up my nose and clinging to the faux fur on my coat collar.  I had so much fun out there that if my fingers hadn't been nearly frozen after the first forty minutes I would probably still be out there trying to clear the huge mountain of snow that has continued to form.  Another giant mountain of snow has formed outside our front door!  Guess I will have the pleasure of shovelling through that first thing in the morning.

Rain and snow storms energize me, particularly when I can be outside enjoying them.  Shovelling out behind the house and garage tonight, in the darkness lit only by what light from the front street filters back there through the tree branches in the side yard, I felt empowered and energetic and as happy as if I was in my right mind.  It won't be quite as much fun shovelling in the daylight in the morning but it will be a good project anyway.....right now there is a 3 foot drift spanning most of the front walk, the snow is still falling and the wind is still howling. 

Good to know how I will be spending my morning.

A Day Off For Me

Today I am taking a day off from all the organizing, packing, fretting, freaking out, wondering, marvelling, phoning, emailing and other "stuff" involved in getting ready to move to a new city.

My husband has worked so hard and done so much of his own packing that it is going to be the easiest move ever in that regard, (and after nearly 20 moves in the past 14 years I am intensely grateful for his accomplishments on this one), but he is stressed out this week and kind of "antsy".  This new, more easily stressed husband of mine appeared about fifteen years ago in the midst of illness and problems.  My serene, relaxed husband was replaced by this jittery new person who worries too often and has trouble sleeping until problems are solved.  Occasionally I just need to get away from his stress in order to remain calm myself. He isn't always this way, but right how he is and I need a day off.  

So, after I got a new crown put on my tooth this morning, I came home with the idea of doing absolutely zero for the rest of the day...apart from my exercises, since diabetics rarely get a day off from that.  After my husband left for our other church town just before lunch, I felt myself relaxing.  I piddled around making a batch of stew for supper, got a chicken out to thaw for company coming for dinner the next 2 nights, watched TWO television programs, read and responded to emails BEFORE I did the lunch and cooking dishes, sang along with a worship CD and now I am blogging and preparing to read some more of the novel I mentioned in the previous post.  In other words I am having a totally relaxing, fun day all by myself.

It is starting to snow outside and apparently there is going to be a fair amount of it coming down in the next 48 hours, accompanied later this afternoon by very strong winds.  My poor husband will be driving home in those winds, probably through whiteout conditions.  I pray he can be on the road before it gets dark. Whiteouts are at least a bit easier to drive in during the daylight hours.  I hope the stew turns out well so that he has a relaxing hot meal ready for him to enjoy as soon as he walks in the door.

The smell of the stew is driving me crazy.  I am not a big fan of stew, but am learning more about how to season it more to my liking.  

The other smell that really got to me, in a good way, was my husband's Japanese milk tea that he had for breakfast today. O my, what a heavenly aroma.  When we lived in Tokyo I drank it every day.  I can't have it very often now, but it is such a treat the rare time I feel I can risk having a large mug full of it. Yum!

The local ministerial association members took my husband out for breakfast today to say good-bye, pray for him and wish him well.  It was such a nice thing to do. They were so encouraging to him that during his time here he has been a great boon to their group. He came home glowing and that was lovely to see.  Thanks so much guys.  You really made his day.

Well, time to go and do some more reading and see if I can find any redemption in this particular novel that has me rather irritated at the moment.  haha  I don't like to criticize any author, particularly not one as prolific as the one whose story I am reading today. Since I am not an author I can only imagine the time, preparation, creativity and endless rewrites that go into any book, so my hat is off to you sir even if I am not particularly enjoying this particular story.

Think About It.....

"The unapparent connection is more powerful than the apparent one."
--Heraclitus, 500BC

I took the quote from the opening page of Rober Ludlum's 2006 novel titled, "The Ambler Warning".  I like the quote much better, so far, than the actual novel.  The story is interesting enough, barring the fact that the premise (government secret agents taken captive by their own governments and given mind altering chemicals, arranged escapes, international chases, spy agencies world wide trying to get their hands on the newly freed agent and his overwhelming confusion that the world and himself are not the way he remembers them to be before his captivity) have been done more than once before, by several different authors.

The problem for me with this particular story is that the "hook" designed to draw me into the story doesn't work for me.  Only a few pages into the novel we are introduced to a character sympathetic to the central character's dilemma. She is one of the people involved in his captivity and helps him to regain his composure long enough, after unknown months of isolation, to escape the government facility in which he is being held.  

There is no suspense with this woman.  It is obvious from the first page on which she appears that she is part of the plot hatched by the central character's captives to make sure he actually escapes to whatever fate will ultimately await him by the end of the book.  Less than half way through the story they reconnect elsewhere, but he still believes she is a safe haven for him, that she actually believed his stories while still in the facility and is still on his side.  The central character is known for being able to read everyone around him, to understand what they are thinking, to foresee what they are going to do, yet he is apparently completely bamboozled and taken in by this seemingly sympathetic woman who risked her entire career and possibly her own life to help him escape his captors after knowing him a few months in a professional nursing capacity only.

Unless there is a plot twist later on where we discover the central character has not actually been taken in, but has just not shared that little detail with the readers, (which would be unfair to the reader and very jarring as well), it doesn't make any sense that she is the one person in the whole screwy world of spys and counter-intelligence folk that he can't see through.

I am hoping the story becomes a bit more credible before the end.  Of course none of these types of suspense stories are completely credible and that is part of the fun, but this one has me kind of irritated because of the obvious problem with the characters.  

As I say, I am less than half way through the story and I hope I am incorrect about what seems too obvious. I hope I am the one being taken in by an author who is usually a darned good suspense novelist.

Never Too Old To Learn Something New!

Since moving to the prairies, it seems we have managed to stuff our feet into our mouths on too many occasions as we have missed most of the social cues in this culture, saying and doing all the wrong things the first time out of the wicket.  We keep hoping and praying this will change but it seems we are not all that bright in this particular cross-cultural situation.

We finally found out why some gifts we gave out recently were not accepted by the recipients, in fact were returned with a bit of attitude on their part.   Thinking it would be more fitting to give a "liquid" gift of money, rather than inadvertently picking up some kind of useless present, we were rather shocked to have those gifts returned to us along with lectures as if we were a couple of irritating five year olds.  

What we now know is that the giving of money can be interpreted here as being a gift of  "charity".....as if the money represents the idea that the recipient is some kind of charity case in desperate need of funds.  Our particular recipients lectured us on how that is not the case for them and they resented being made to feel that way.

Who knew?????

My husband tried to make them understand that there is a difference between giving a charitable donation to the needy, vs payment for services rendered, vs simply a fluid sort of gift that guarantees the recipient can purchase something they would actually like to have.  His explanation fell on deaf ears and the money was returned.  In a couple of cases the relationships seemed to be in danger of being damaged.  

To us it was completely bizarre, to them it was an obvious faux pas on our part. (and apparently our errors born of misunderstanding the culture have been multitudinous over the past few years)

 It wasn't until yesterday when someone from here gave US a gift of money that WE finally grasped the "charity case" explanation.  The person who gifted us told us not to open the envelope she gave us until we got home and she hoped and prayed that when we did we would not be angry with her. She was so worried that her gift would make US feel like a "charity case".  We sat her down and discussed with her why she would think we might feel that way and finally the light dawned on us. THIS is what our own gifted recipients had been trying to tell us.  In our own culture it is an honour to receive a gift of money, a way for the person giving to let us know that they love us enough to want us to be able to purchase something we actually need with the money. Here it can be taken as an insult. Sigh.....

Okay, now we get it.  Too late of course, but we do understand now what was going on.  We feel badly that our well intentioned gifts caused such an uproar and made our friends feel uncomfortable.  We feel badly that we didn't really understand at the time what they were trying to tell us.

I think it is good that we are moving on before we mess up anything else around here.  While we will still be living in a prairie city, there are a sufficient number of "transplants" from other parts of Canada and other cultures that we may just find a place to fit in...if nothing else we will be more wary and aware of the social cultures around us.  

Hopefully.....duh......