Sunday, May 31, 2015

My Achy Breaky Everything........

When I left Calgary ten days ago my mother had full blown symptoms of a wicked cold.  Over the past four days I have developed so many aches and pains I am wondering if it is a similar virus in a slightly different form.  

On my way to lunch at the art gallery last Thursday I had to make a quick side step when a fellow walking in front of me on the sidwalk stumbled and nearly fell back into me.  In the process I stubbed a little toe on a steel construction sign sitting near the curb and if I haven't broken it, it is certainly badly bruised.  It was a very painful ten block walk home after lunch.  Whether that has triggered all the subsequent body pain or whether I have a virus I don't know, but I wish it would go away.

By Thursday evening my leg muscles were so sore, fiery sore, I could hardly do my exercises after dinner. By Friday my arms were aching so badly I could barely lift them over my head and certainly wasn't able to do my arm exercises.  Going up and down the stairs here at home has been somewhat torturous and by last night even my scalp hurt to touch.  Nothing has changed this morning except for the addition of very stuffy sinuses and a scalp that hurts even when I am not touching it.

If this is some kind of viral infection I can only pray and hope it goes away soon.  Talk about inconvenient!!  Getting undressed for bed last night took nearly five minutes just to peel off my clothes.  How on earth to people with fibrymyalgia get through life???  I am quickly developing a new empathy for them, that is for sure! So, that is one good thing about this at least.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Our Very Own Money Changers in the Temple

The 3 church families who meet in our facility each week had a combined garage sale today.  It is cold and miserable, frost warning for overnight, so all the tables of sale items were moved inside the large foyer and into our worship space for the duration of the sale.

What a hoot!!  There was junk and stuff and more stuff and more junk all over the place.  What a lot of fun we had meeting folk from the other churches, encouraging our own parishioners that all their work to put this on has been worth it, visiting all manner of folk from the community.  OF COURSE there was a wee bit of shopping on our part as well.

From the United Church my husband purchased a brand new, never used, Eddy Bauer headlamp to use on his next outdoor excursion, as well as an old storage cabinet from our own church's Sunday School supply that is no longer being used.  The cabinet is just the right size to fit through our back door and down the basement steps.  Finally we have a reasonably sized food storage cabinet down there that has doors on it.  It cost a whopping five dollars! haha One of our parishioners loaded it into his truck and drove it to our place because it was just a smidgen too large to fit into the back seat of our car.

I was able to purchase a very nice tote bag that will be wonderful for rolling up clothes when travelling.  It is a good size for carry on should I be flying anywhere in the near future and is more easily managed than my hard cased suitcases for short trips in the car.  It is in excellent condition. The price sticker had fallen off so I donated five dollars to our parish for that, a couple of dollars for books, fifty cents for a small, pottery, salad style bowl by one of my favourite formerly local potters (Jeff Martin who is now in Ontario) went to the Lutherans, as well as three dollars for a very pretty purse sized kleenex holder...all mauve cotton and lacy....so pretty!  My other purchase was two oriental silk wall hangings, like new, small and colorful to hang on the one bare wall I have left in our living room.  It has been so obviously bare but the door into the front coat room opens onto that wall, so to hang any framed art there that sticks out at all and could come into contact with that door when it opens is asking for shattered glass or damaged oil paintings.  We just put them up and wow, they look amazing.  They are starched and ironed beautifully. My husband put them up with some double sided tape he brought from Japan that doesn't stick to the paint on the wall.

(I was touched by the concern of our parishioners who realized the violent home invasion in our complex last week happened just across the parking lot and who tried in vain to reach me because they don't have the correct phone number for our home.  Now that I know about the error in the records, I can fix it at the church tomorrow.)

Speaking of my husband, he is all over his jet lag all ready...thank you melatonin...and is busy sorting out his travel receipts this afternoon.  A friend from Moose Jaw is dropping in later today for tea and a visit.  Tomorrow is church and some serious tv watching and then life goes back to "normal" when my husband returns to work on Monday.  I get to spend a whole 2 weeks with him here before his next out of town committment...5 days away at Provincial Synod.  He is gone to camp for a week in July and then for August holidays I get him all to myself for 3 out of 4 weeks.  Week 4 is the annual fellow clergy and friends canoe trip and they are going for a longer period of time this year.  I am glad they get to do that. I am thinking about where I want to go during that time....hmmmm....maybe just stay home and do some day trips that are of interest to myself but not to my husband.  Lots of little towns I would like to visit...worth considering.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Eau de (Lagoon) Cologne.....aka Sulphuric Stench

1.  My beloved husband is safely home and the plane landed four minutes EARLY!!  Unheard of with so many international flights any more. haha  He is tired...we went for a quick supper at the pub near our home, we watched a 3 round KO boxing match and he then went to bed.  I expect he will be up in the middle of the night watching tv and trying to deal with some jet lag, but at least he was able to stay awake until nearly 9pm....let's see now...for his body it is now just after 4am tomorrow!  I should have forced him to stay awake for another couple of hours, but I didn't have the heart once I looked at his pale, exhausted face.  He is brimming over with stories of his adventures and will try to give a more coherent presentation tomorrow.

2.  I am going to have to close my window overnight.  The lagoon or lake or whatever exactly is across the street from us in the park has developed a case of a bit too much algae in this very dry spring season.  The odor coming off it is more than I can bear.  Yikes....our tap water smells just as sulphuric since Buffalo Pound Lake, the source of tap water for ourselves and surrounding area, is very low this year and the stinky wee algae have taken over what little water is left.  Sounds like we will be under a boil water advisory by tomorrow.

3.  Found out at lunch today that one of the ministers whose congregation shares our church space,  who meets each week for staff meeting with my husband, is actually his 3rd cousin!  The cousin I had lunch with today is a super family history buff, geneology charts up the wazoo and she made the connection a few years ago.  My husband will be able to re-introduce himself to Mitchell and his husband this coming Sunday morning!  Mitchell doesn't yet know the connection and will have a surprise. hahaha  What a teeny tiny world it is!

4.  I am very happy my husband is home again, although I am leaving him for a few hours tomorrow to have lunch and an art gallery tour with a friend...hohoho, here I go....again with the lunch out! So far this week I have eaten exactly 2 meals at home!!! Aiii yiiii....that is going to have to change....after tomorrow, I promise.

When It Feels Like Your Heart Has Momentarily Stopped Beating!

When my husband travels I am somewhat fanatical about checking airport arrivals and departures so that I can track the planes he is supposed to be on.

He is coming home from Heathrow, via Pearson, this evening so I dutifully flipped on my computer this morning to check the flights.  According to the schedule he gave me before he left, he should have been on an Air Canada flight at 12:05pm from London to Toronto.

I typed in the terminal number, but his flight was not listed.  It wasn't listed as on time, delayed, in the air, waiting, pending, cancelled....it wasn't listed at all.  In fact not one flight to Toronto was listed at that terminal.  So far no panic.  The flight number was probably the same but the terminal may have changed.  I checked all 6 terminals and there was no record whatsoever of his flight.  The only flight to Toronto I could find wasn't leaving London until what would be 1am tomorrow here on the prairies.

Okay, I confess:  I thought my heart had stopped.  Just for a few seconds, but long enough to experience full blown panic, I sat and stared at the screen in disbelief.  I am not usually a Nervous Nelly about my husband's travels other than worrying his bad memory will result in him losing important paperwork or belongings, but I was really scared when I couldn't find his flight nor anything resembling his flight today.

After that few seconds, reason kicked in and I looked up the Arrivals at Pearson in Toronto.  There was his flight listed as in the air and approximately 15 minutes delayed.  Whew!!

That is when I realized the depth of my momentary panic:  I fell back in my chair and started to sob!  Aiii yiiii...the old lady is losing it folks!  You can bet that between finishing my housework and going out for lunch with relatives I will be checking his flight status every half hour!!! Today, apparently, "Nervous" and "Nelly" are my middle names!

Surviving a Serbian Feast

Last night I had the most tasty, most delicious, most delectable dinner that was prepared by our Serbian financial officer.  O my, it was wonderful.

However....although I knew I would have to survive a lot of sodium, I didn't realize I would have to survive a huge plate of food that consisted of meat, meat and more meat!  Other than some onions and a couple of thin leaves of cabbage, there was nary a veggie to be found.

The main dish was diced lamb liver with onions.  It was fabulous but contained nearly twice the amount of protein in my serving that I am allowed to have....of course I ate the whole thing anyway because it tasted just...just....mmmwwwaaaahhh! FANTASTIC!

There were two side dishes: a piece of fried "lamb internal organ of some kind" and 2 small cabbage rolls stuffed with....drum roll....wait for it....MEAT!! In this case it was a combination of ground lamb and beef.  Again, two wonderful dishes, but by the time I inhaled both of them on top of the diced lamb I think I consumed approximately 4 or 5 times the amount of protein I should have at one sitting.

I would like to say "no regrets", but I can't.

It was an early dinner and I didn't go to bed until around midnight, but even that many hours after dinner I still felt like a stuffed sausage.  Upon awakening this morning...same feeling....aiii yiiiii.....  Next time I dine with my dear Serbian friend I am going to have to ask her to allow me to fill my own plate.  She is incredibly generous with her portion sizes and I am feeling like I myself am just one large lamb portion this morning!!

O urp....so darned good, but I can't let myself do this again....EVER!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

So Much For Feeling Safe!

Life in our complex heated up apparently while I was out of town.  I am VERY glad I didn't hear anything about this criminal activity until just a few minutes ago.

Our sedate little complex, in the lowest crime area of the city, suffered from a serious home invasion!  Four masked men forced their way into one of our units, carrying machetes and what have you and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash and "goods" from the person who was at home at the time.  The police have located neither the men, nor the car they were driving, nor any of the stolen goods.  How terrifying is this to me, here alone for another more than 24 hours before my husband returns??? Aaaack!!  It happened only across the parking lot from my own unit and that is way too close for comfort.  I can only hope that the criminals and victims were known to each other and it is the result of a drug deal gone sour or some such, but at the moment that doesn't seem to be the case.  Aaaack! again!!  I mean, who breaks into elderly, far lower than high class, townhouses????

My little safety bubble of denial I have been happily living in since we arrived here is now properly and completely burst and I will try to be more attentive and careful about locked doors and going out in the evenings on foot on my own recognizance.  

I choose for the rest of the afternoon, while I am cleaning up this place, to think about happier things: such as the wonderful lunch I just had with a parishioner who is very friendly and nice, the Serbian dinner I am invited to this evening, a newly added lunch date tomorrow with relatives and then lunch again on Friday with an old friend from seminary days who hasn't been seen since.

Best of all is the arrival tomorrow evening of my dear husband.  O Lord, let his flight schedule work out as well as it did for his trip overseas and may he be no more than fifteen minutes late arriving home, the same amount of time he was late arriving in Tanzania 3 weeks ago.  Please, please please........

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

When You "Just Know" What To Do

As a Christian, I believe there are some times when God very specifically directs our steps and sometimes even lets us in on the process.  I have been ruminating on my past Sunday's activities and realizing He was certainly speaking to me and guiding my day.

All last week I had been looking forward to attending our new church body, putting in an appearance despite my husband still being overseas, but when I woke up Sunday morning I felt very very strongly I wasn't to go.  It seemed so odd to feel so certain it was the wrong direction, so I hemmed and hawed and got all ready to leave, but come that time I just couldn't seem to make myself drive over there.

I remembered a friend in another town had casually mentioned she was doing a drama production at her church that morning and I just had time to drive out there, so away I went.  It was a great morning and her pastor preached a sermon I found exceptionally helpful personally.  After church my friend and I went for a quick lunch together before she had other committments.  It was fun, good to hear that sermon and to see how the congregation put some of the pastor's ideas into action immediately following the service, but none of what happened seemed "deep" enough on any level to explain the complete assurance I had to not go to my own church at home.

Then as I was about to head for the highway back here I suddenly thought of some other friends in that town.  We have been close over the years but there have been a lot of stresses in their family life and in their businesses that have been  growing stronger, becoming more socially and spiritually debilitating for them over the past year in particular.  That is when I clued in that my time in that town was to include an attempt to visit them, however briefly.  Instead of feeling excited by this apparent direction from the Lord, I "just knew" it wasn't going to go well, but I knew I had to make the attempt.

Short version: yes, although I did not face personal rejection, it went rather badly.  However, I realized that these people are in the same position my own husband and I were in nearly 20 years ago.  Our own business was tanking, horrendous stresses were going in the lives of our family members that involved us rather a lot and we just didn't have the ability to relate on a social level, or even participate in the life of the church, very well.  It was a horrible time and the best thing anyone could do for us was to simply leave us alone while we sifted and sorted and worked life out between us and God.  Neither of us could face so much as sharing a cup of tea with another person for a very long time and we no longer answered our telephone.

On Sunday I saw a similar scenario going on in the lives of our friends.  They need space to breathe, to rest from the weekly stresses whenever the smallest opportunity presents itself.  They need to enclose themselves with God alone when they are not at work and seek relief and new direction.  I needed to know how better to pray for them and how to treat them as they go through this awful time.

As of Sunday, now I know.  There are some events coming along in the near future that I wasn't sure about asking them to participate in.  Now I know it is not wise to ask them.  I could feel their pain so deeply on Sunday afternoon because it is a mirror image of my own pain when I was going through similar disasters. 

I feel so relieved to have some answers about what to do with and for these dear ones that have graced my life for many years.  They are important to God....important enough that he changed my entire day's plans on Sunday so that I could discover their greatest need and be able to act and pray accordingly for their greatest good.  Long term problems may need long term healing process and my husband and I need to be prepared to give them the time alone that they need to regroup and eventually be set free from the bondages they struggle with right now.

Having "been there and done that and bought the tee shirt", it feels good to be able to give them what they truly need right now. Thank you Lord and please, please help my friends the way you helped my husband and I to overcome the problems and develop wonderful new directions and purpose.  May they too be so blessed by your amazing grace.

Learning All The Time

This morning I was told that if I wanted to make it easier for my veins to be found for the lab techs as they attempt to draw blood from my arms, I should drink a lot of water the day before the tests and a half cup of water before coming to the lab.  As it happens that is exactly what I did yesterday and this morning and for the first time ever there was no problem in locating a suitable vein immediately.  PRESTO!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Zonked out....and Also Thinking How Grateful I am for CAA!!

Wow...what an unusual day for me!  This afternoon, after a morning of lazing about in my jams and catching up on some recorded tv shows, I had a NAP!!!

I never nap during the day....never, ever, unless I am extremely ill or otherwise physically incapacitated.  After lunch though this week's long drives and the natural stresses that accompany caring for elderly parents caught up with me and by 2pm I couldn't fight it any more.  I slept for an entire hour!

Fortunately for me, shortly after I awakened with that horrible mid day nap grogginess, (Do YOU get that when you nap during the day?  If you do I am so sorry because it is awful!), the phone rang and it was my good friend Patty.  We had a great chat and that snapped me out of the fuzziness.  As we hung up she was about to go and have her own nap.  Well, we both had a busy week, the sky is grey and overcast, the air is muggy and humid today and it is simply a wonderful day for sleeping and not getting much done.

I haven't even washed my lunch dishes yet and it is 4:30pm.  Even supper is a "cheat" tonight.  Other than making a salad, I am eating deli food and must confess I not only picked up a cabbage roll at the grocery store, I even bought a scoop of mashed potatoes so I won't have to peel and cook tonight here at home.  Now THAT is LAZY!!  Pre-mashed, store bought potatoes from the deli...even scooped and shaped into a nice little round mound....o dear......

Maybe I am coming down with my mom's cold.

Or maybe I should just get real and admit I am old and get tired more easily than I used to.

Naaa....it is just the weather....right?  Of course right!!!  It will be a perfect evening for playing video games....the computer is right beside the bed, so when I can't stay awake I can just slide off the chair onto the mattress.  Pretty cool......maybe I could haul the microwave in here onto the desk and put my cabbage roll and potatoes on a plate inside until I am ready to heat them and eat them...and THEN I could slide off the chair onto the mattress for the night.  Yeah...that sounds really really good!!
Zzzzzzzzz.................. 

O, did I mention that I spent my final evening in Calgary waiting up until 11pm for the CAA truck to come so I could get my keys out of the ignition after I locked them in the car??? Duh!!  I was cleaning the windshield for the next day's return home and forgot to remove them. So grateful they could come within an hour and the fellows always have such a great attitude about helping stupid, forgetful old women. Also grateful I discovered it the same night I did it and not the next morning as I was racing to leave for home. YAY CAA!!!

It Was a Good Trip

This past week I was very conscious of the Lord's hand being on all that occurred.  It was a week of wonderful visits, good roads, safe drives, excellent spring weather and accomplishing many errands for my parents.

I have learned the secret for me for doing long distance drives:  pack everything possible the night before, wake up early and get on the road immediately after breakfast!  The day I left I was backing out of our parking lot at 6:30am and yesterday coming home I was on Glenmore Trail in Calgary shortly after 6am.  Getting on the road a few hours ahead of the hottest hours of the day and just prior to rush hours makes me feel like I am really getting away with something and pumps the adrenalin necessary for the trip.  Stopping every 2 or 3 hours, even just for 5 minutes and getting out of the car is very helpful.  So, I have discovered that I can drive for 8 or 9 consecutive hours when I need to.  It was actually easier to stay awake being alone in the car because I could sing and talk and "preach" the entire time and disturb no one.  I quite enjoyed it all.

Mom and Dad are doing far better than I dared to hope.  Mom of course wore herself out with excitement that I was coming and came down with a cold the morning I left.  Hopefully it won't make the descent into her lungs this time.  I am finding that she becomes ill right around my visits this past few years. She can't sleep for many nights in advance and she worries about how things are going to go for Dad with the added stress of a visitor.  Fortunately she felt fine for our visit.  Dad was able to use his walker to come along on all the errands and we drove literally all over the city shopping, going to doctors' appointments and having a couple of meals in restaurants.  The time flew by.  Usually, once the first evening's visiting is over, dad retreats to his room with the tv and newspaper for a lot of the rest of the visiting time, but this time he was quite happy to sit in the living room and chat.  It indicates he is feeling pretty well these days and was not stressed by  my presence.  In the first 3 days I was there I wore them completely out, I am sure, but no point in having a long list of hoped for errands and not accomplishing as many as possible.  In the first 3 days every errand was completed and my parents were delivered to all their medical appointments.  It was a most successful time on every front.

There were some good visits with friends as well:  an old family friend came over one evening for tea and some of mom's fantastic ginger scones.  I have known him all my life and he is very funny and very intelligent, well travelled and just a lot of fun to visit with.  I had part of a day in our old "stomping grounds" of Olds/Didsbury to visit 2 friends I rarely get to see any more.  Great visits with sides of home made French onion soup, Greek salads, hemp heart cake and amazing photos from one of my friend's recent trip to Japan.  Her husband built a very authentic looking Torii gate in their back yard and she has Japanese carp flags hanging from it in good Boys Day fashion.  It is very very nice.  She sent me home with a large box of books to read and a lovely green summer jean jacket and very cool scarf to go with it. There are a lot of other colours in the scarf that match other clothes that I have all ready.  What an unexpected blessing on top of all the other blessings of the week.  The other friend and I nearly talked each others' ears off. It has been far too long since we have had a chance to really visit each other. Then I came home yesterday to an immediate dinner invitation that unfortunately I was too late (and beat) to go to, but how lovely to come home to a friend's invite.

Today I have a few aches and pains from sitting down for so long in the car, so it will be a day of taking a couple of long walks to "get the kinks out" I think.  There are a few grocery items to purchase and some utility bills to pay at the bank.  I am so happy our branch is open on Saturdays.  I have a few programmes on tv that I recorded while I was away, so will take a look at those this evening.  Tomorrow morning is church and I will see who remembers who I actually am when I am there without my husband. teehee  There is a parishioner I need to see this week so that will be a lunch out.

We called my son when I was in Calgary and he is a happy camper these days.  This weekend he is being flown to Toronto for jury for the RBC painting competition and is delighted to be able to work on that with an artist he greatly admires and respects.  Then he will return to New York City for a few more weeks to wrap up his apprenticeship and pack up for home.  He is coming here in mid June for a few days before flying on to Calgary to see his grandparents, before heading home to Vancouver.  It has been a wonderful past year for him.  Now he feels ready to make more plans for the future.

My husband is also thrilled beyond belief by his experiences in Tanzania and now southern England.  His short texts say an awful lot about how happy he is for this amazing opportunity to interact with fellow priests of other nations and to see places he has never seen before.  He comes home in less than a week now and I can't wait to hear about his adventures first hand.

Well, breakfast calls.  Then it will be time to eat breakfast and get on the road to the bank.  "Walkies" this afternoon and then an evening to rest...I hope.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

So Beautiful Outside This Evening and Yet.....

It is nearly 10pm.  I have just been outside and it is lovely and warm out there after some strong winds and rain just before dinner.  It is the kind of night, after a grey day, that makes it difficult to make yourself come inside again to go to bed.

And yet....the forecast for tomorrow afternoon here is SNOW!  Probably not a lot of snow, but heavy wet spring snow is scheduled to fall.  Drat!  The northern and central part of the province is under a frost warning for overnight, so I can imagine a lot of all ready planted spring flowers will be sporting quite an array of sheets, terry towels and heavy plastic covers tonight so they aren't frost-killed by morning.

I will have to check the road report in the morning as I am going to be driving into the snow at some point on my journey as it travels from the south west.  It appears at present that if I can get through the first 3 hours of the trip there will be no more snow to contend with.  The weather system appears to be arcing northward from the south west corner, up and around to just touch the highway I will be on as I head west,  dipping down again just east of here to pummel the south eastern part of the province with freezing rain and snow.  If the northern tip of the arc doesn't go below freezing overnight I will still be able to leave fairly early in the morning without worrying about skating onto the ice.  My new tires are "all weathers" and the studded tires from winter are in the basement.  If I do come across any ice I am going to have to remember that and slow right down!!

Aaaah, Victoria Day long weekend on the prairies...people out here have given up trying to travel and camp on this first long weekend of the spring after being snowed out of their campgrounds one too many times.  At this point you can almost count on bad weather Victoria Day weekend...the specifics of the weather forecast may change daily, but generally speaking you can pretty much know it isn't going to be very nice!

Definitely Lacking in Energy

Recently I had lunch with a large group of women here in the city.  I have been so busy rejoicing in my "abundance" of energy over the past year and a half that I still forget how slow and lacking in energy I actually am compared to other women in my age group.  Someone asked me what plans I have for the autumn, once we are more organized here and holidays are over for the summer.  I mentioned a couple of low energy volunteer ideas I have and everyone kind of looked at me with rather shocked expressions on their face....like I had the plague or something.  Then someone timidly asked me what else I would be doing.  Sigh...When I responded that there wasn't anything else actually, she gave an embarrassed little chuckle and the conversation moved on to other topics. For the rest of the afternoon I wasn't really included in the conversations. Perhaps it was just as well because I had nothing else to say that could keep pace with these incredibly busy women, who are no busier than most other women, it is just that I hadn't realized how far behind I have fallen at this point.  No one was bragging about how busy they are, no one was particularly proud of all they do, there were no pissing contests going on to see who could top who in the Department of Busy.  They are simply normal middle aged women who are able to maintain a level of activity that I haven't been able to achieve. I couldn't have kept up their levels of activity even as a child.

I suppose all the chronic and life long health issues I have do play into my energy level rather intensely.  When I list all those conditions I feel very strange about having so many things wrong.  As a rule I am by myself quite a bit and never think about how busy or not busy I am each day.  It is most disconcerting though to be with a group of average women and realize they can run rings around me in every way.  It all began with childhood asthma that kept me out of the social loop relatively often and so for me, life is actually better as an adult even with the added health issues as the asthma has nearly disappeared.

My fear is that people who don't have energy level problems don't understand how they can effect a person's life.  I hate it when people ask me why I do so little every day, why I am not out of the house running hither and yon doing all manner of important work, because I can't explain without giving my "organ recital" of all that is wrong with my health.  It sounds like I am either making it up, or using health as more of an excuse than a reason for inactivity, or feeling sorry for myself, or really into talking about myself as the centre of the universe, or just plain lazy.  Sigh....

So while they are working daily at full time jobs, volunteering their evenings and weekends to all manner of wonderful clubs and committees and service organizations, baby sitting the grandchildren, etc. etc. etc., I am sitting here amazed that this morning I am strong enough for the first time in my life to take the winter studded tires out of the trunk of the car and haul them up the back steps into the suite and then down more steps into the basement...2 tires at a time.  These are the "huge accomplishments" that fill my days.

I am going to have to be very careful not to let myself become discouraged nor depressed by my lack of interesting contributions to group conversation.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

More from Dell

Woke up before dawn this morning (5:20) AM 8:30 PM your time ..not sure if you will get this before you leave for Calgary tomorrow .....  anyway I had been hoping to see the stars since I have never seen them in this southern half of the globe.   I walked down to what I call the picnic pier and although there were a few clouds I was able to see at least some stars .  Not sure if the faint outline in the south was the famous southern cross or not.   I apologized for disturbing  the young security guard who must have been dozing at one of the picnic tables.  The morning was warm but I wore my long sleeved shirt and mosquito scarf even though I am yet to even see a mosquito. I could hear the water (hey this is the indian ocean!) sloshing under the pier the lights and music that had been full on at a hotel a bit around the bay last night at 11:30 were off. The breeze was quite a bit warmer and much more humid than it was the last time I did a bit of stargazing over the much chiller waters of Spray Lake last fall when Doug G and I were overnight mountain scrambling in   Kananaskis.  Indeed I was just starting to perspire  as I went back up the stairs to my air conditioned room.   Did I mention that it was humid? I think they may have switched off the temperature option on the room air conditioner because even if I set it at the highest option of 30 it seems to make this place so cold that I haven't been running it much.  I couldn't figure out why moisture began to condense and started to run down the walls and form droplets on the mirror.  It helped a bit yesterday when I opened drapes and window to let the sun shine in.   Then I asked the chambermaid about it and she said running the AC for a couple of hours straight should help.  when I said it made the room too cold she said then I could turn it off.   ...very logical girl! Did I tell you they come in every night to pull the drapes, turn down the bed and put the little slippers next to the turned down bed?  I feel a bit like an old fashioned colonial.  I won't try sending pictures now but have taken a few of the hotel it is really quite nice. I really wonder how it feels for the bishops and archdeacons who live by subsistence farming? Well it is nearly ten your time; I will send this now in case you want to take a copy to your folks.   I will probably be a bit tired today from the shorter sleep but it was worth it.  Our time in Dar is half over just as I am getting very comfortable here. 

Direct from Dell

Bishop Rob has asked me to contribute a few notes to the blog about our

experience here at the conference. So here are a few assorted observations.

On an early morning of my first day I walked  down to the thatched roof

pier picnic platform.  I seemed a bit erie that the boardwalk was watched over by

a uniformed security guard, just as it had seemed so unlike Saskatchewan when

the evening before there had been 3 guards at the front gate and the

undercarriage of our taxi cab had been inspected with a mirror to check for

explosive devices  before we had been allowed into the hotel compound.  Out on

the picnic  pier  I struck up a conversation with an East Indian man who works at

the hotel.  When he found I was here for a church conference he was was quick

to identify himself as a Christian. When he found out I had arrived from Canada

via Dubai he said it was while he had been working in Dubai (of all places) that

he had become a more deliberate follower of Jesus.  When he volunteered that

he had two sisters working and living in Calgary I told him my wife’s family was

from Calgary, and so went the connections.  The strangeness of this place to me 

was suddenly made less so because the Lord seemed to have provided

someone with some simple common connections. Small world!

There are representatives here from 5 African Dioceses (would have been

7 is the Burundi folks had been able to make it).  Each one has their own

enriching stories and needful situations.   Rob mentioned in his post: Bishop

Francis from the Diocese of Rokon in South Sudan.   He was able to find safe

accommodation for his family in the midst of the civil war and finish his

theological education because of the support of Canadians who were contributed

a  scholarship toward his ministry  and education.  I suppose a civil war might

have motivated many of us to leave off training for ministry. But men like Francis

seemed to know that in when the infrastructures for communication, 

transportation and education are all broken down by war and ongoing conflicts, 

the people would need the encouragement of spiritual community and

development leaders more than ever.  And although the independence of South

Sudan is was declared and recognized in 2011,  fighting continues fuelled in part

by the efforts of factions to control oil producing areas.  

There is little money to pay even bishops and archdeacons who have to

support  their families by farming or other such means.  One of the main

concerns of the archdeacons I spoke with were to get schools operating again as

soon as possible because otherwise a whole generation is going without the

most basic education.  Nevertheless their faith in Jesus is steady and they seem

keenly aware of God’s grace and providence in the midst of it all. I was told that

the preaching and evangelism is not left to the clergy but that the mother’s union

(like an ACW with a focus on community transformation) as well as the youth

groups are all active in sharing their faith. 

It was gratifying to see some of my Canadian colleagues getting the

picture of how even a little help and encouragement from Canadian companions

can do and mean so much.   But we are apt to remain na├»ve unless we admit in

turn how much we need their companionship to model the commitment and

passion that we need to address our own spiritual poverty.  As with most  cross

cultural endeavours, growing to understand one another will take continuing

concentrated effort and willingness to risk making mistakes.   Nevertheless I

expect  that we will learn to walk together much the way all children do …by

falling down.   But I think our heavenly Father is pleased to watch over his

children as we do learn to walk together.

News From Our Guys Overseas

 Hi again: here is a link to the blog our Bishop has posted about their conference.  You will need to cut and paste it into your browser  It also updates the situation in Burundi:

http://quappelle.anglican.ca/blog/article.php?type=blog&article=2015-05-14-update-from-tanzania

'Bye 'Bye Board

A couple of days ago I decided it was time to get a new cover for my ancient ironing board; the one I purchased in the spring of 1972 when I first moved away from my parents' home.  I am pretty easy on my "stuff" so am not surprised to have had an ironing board for over forty years.

However, all good things must come to an end.  I noticed when I set it up that day that it felt a bit more wobbly than usual and the top of the board was leaning ever so slightly to one side.  It was fine while I did my ironing but when I went to remove the old cover and collapse it, the poor old thing fell completely apart.

With a mighty, loud SPROOOOING, pieces of metal and hard rubber attachments started flying everywhere.  All the struts and cross bars under the board pulled apart, little springs bounced around the room and one of the hard rubber cones that held the metal in place smacked me hard in the ear as it tumbled past.  I was so startled I proceeded to drop the heaviest end of the board itself onto my bare toes. YEEEOOOOWWW!!!  I reared back because it hurt so much and tromped on one of the cross bars with my other bare foot and now I know why diabetics (and everyone else I think!!) should always wear shoes indoors to protect our feet.  Yikes!!

I leaned the board against the wall and surrveyed my bedroom floor and the top of my bed.  The rest of what had been my faithful old ironing board was scattered hither and yon.  Finally I got it all collected and under cover of darkness lugged the whole mess out to the large collection bin in the parking lot.  In the morning I could see the board sticking out of the top of the bin, wedged between the frame of someone's equally elderly, disintegrating sofa and a smashed screen tv.  Poor old ironing board...what an ignominious end to so many years of good service.

Even less impressive is that yesterday I had to spend money to purchase a new board...as usual, about the time extra spending has to stop, my husband has to spend money to go overseas and I have to go on a road trip to help out my parents, the car needed extra repairs and now also an ironing board to be purchased.  It is what always happens to people, right? haha

I did find a very nice, relatively inexpensive board at the hardware store.  It is light and easy to carry, easy to set up, easy to take down.  If this one falls apart like the old one did it should be far less physically painful for myself!!  No, it won't last for over forty years like the old one did, but I am hoping to nurse it along for my remaining "ironing years".  The new cover, with its pattern of deep forest and mint greens is very pretty.  AND it has a separate rest for the iron on one end.  I like that.  My husband won't like it because it is plastic and my not last as long as the board, but o well, you can't have everything.  The boards as heavy duty as my old one were more than twice the price and are so, so, so heavy to carry and set up.  This one is not quite as long and fits in my closet far better.

No doubt these kinds of little details about my life here at home are scintillating to read, hohoho!  But, there you go...my life to the minute. teehee

In other news: lunch with the office staff and Bishop's wife was a ton of fun yesterday.  The office manager made the most delicious baked chicken topped with feta and paremsan cheeses and she made a salad.  The financial officer made roasted rounds of sweet potato and delicious sticky rice, as well as a strawberry cheesecake.  O my, what a delicious feast and a great visit.  I have an extra week without my husband as the Bishop is coming home earlier then he is, so I am invited to do some more fun things with them during that time. YAY!!  They are a great pair of workers and a great pair of considerate women.

This morning I am going to iron again....last night at 8pm I took it into my head that there was a pair of pants I want to wear to drive to Calgary and washing those turned into a full laundry evening.  Everything in the basket has now been washed and will be ironed this afternoon. 

For the rest of the morning I am resting in preparation for yet another lunch out, this time with my husband's cousin. She is SO  MUCH fun.  I am really looking forward to it.

Tonight I am going to force myself to rest some more, maybe watch some boxing I recorded a few days ago.  Apparently there is some footage of the Mayweather/Pacquiao snooze-fest. I would like to see it, boring or not. (Side note: apparently they  made so much money they are negotiating for a second fight once Pacquiao recovers from his shoulder surgery)  I have other bouts set to record while I am away...some excellent Russian fighters.

No more word yet from my husband, but the Bishop's wife had a couple of photos sent of their view from the hotel...what absolutely gorgeous scenery...big dark green trees, wide expanses of water....o it is lovely.  I hope my own husband can keep the camera working and his interest up for taking photos so I can get some idea of the area.  Apparently our diocesan website should soon have a posting about their trip.  Due to the apparent coup in Burundi, their own dicoesan bishop was unable to leave the country to attend the conference after all because of the closure of the airport and borders in an attempt to prevent the return of their president.  So, not only were our guys unable to visit the site of the hospital our diocese is building there, they didn't even get to meet our companionship bishop.  In that sense a most disappointing trip, but still so much to learn from the other African bishops.  The president of Burundi is also in Dar es Salaam as far as anyone knows, so our guys are hoping and praying things will stay calm there over the weekend as they prepare to fly on to England.

Well, on to some serious resting. I am actually going to attempt to read some more of my book, an autobiography of Arnold Schwarzenegger that is more interesting than I thought it would be.  I admit I bought it because it was on the cheapest clearance rack at a bargain store.  It has been a pleasant surprise. I never read during the day, only at bedtime do I feel free to relax to the extent needed to concentrate on books.  So, it will be a good experience to try to actually stay awake between chapters for a change! haha

 


Thursday, May 14, 2015

iPad in Africa

I am laughing again today.  My husband, who has been so good in times past about not worrying about our communication while we are apart, is having a wonderful time with the iPad over in Tanzania. hahaha  He has now emailed a half dozen times since yesterday and those are only the few that got through! hahahaha  He must have spent half the night last night sending emails.  At least the congregation that presented us with the iPad in our last parish can rest easy that it is certainly being used and used often, particularly in the past couple of days. hahaha

What is so hilarious is that he had a chance to go shopping yesterday afternoon before he had to return to the hotel for the evening.  If you know him you can guess instantly what his only two purchases were: yup, cashews and TEA!!  O dear Father in Heaven, can you help that man to stop buying so much tea?!!??  We have 2 cupboards full of it all ready.  Mind you, he does drink it by the potful every day and none of it goes to waste or has a chance to get stale.  When he finds a couple of blends he isn't as thrilled with he just uses them to blend his own and is quite happy most of the time with the results.  

TEA!  He flies nearly half way around the world, to flamin' AFRICA for pete's sake, gets an unexpected chance to do some local shopping and he buys more TEA! hahahahaha  What a hoot!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Contact

Received a couple of emails from my husband earlier today.  They are taking quite a few hours to arrive but better late than never.  Apparently he tried to send quite a few from Heathrow but only one of them got here.  The second one was from the plane as he left Dubai.  So glad he is trying to make the technology work and it is reassuring to know he had had enough sleep to that point. haha  I think the adrenaline that comes when going to a place that is brand new to him is keeping him operational despite some broken sleep.  He did get a photo through of the Bishop, who looks a little sleepy as he sits in Heathrow pre-boarding. haha  Hopefully my husband will not spend more time than he needs to trying to get emails through to me.  I am trusting God for what I need to know, when I need to know it and if something bad happens, well that kind of news gets found out more than soon enough!  So far so good.....

Safely in Africa....as Far as I Know!

For the past two days I have been tracking my husband's flights overseas.  That is certainly one joy of the internet: being able to find out if flights are on time and if they have landed safely at their destination points. This is assuming of course that my husband and the Bishop are actually ON the flights. hohoho!!

The flight plans have read like a near miracle.  As I was scanning the lists of departures and arrivals for Pearson, Heathrow, Dubai and Julius Nyerere airports, trying not to freak out as the Cancelled and Delayed flights continued to pop up, I was amazed that out of all those stops, all their plane changes and lay overs, the sum total of my guys' delays amounted to fifteen minutes.  FIFTEEN MINUTES!!  That is all!!  It seems an unheard of positive experience for international flights involving the kind of convoluted routes and times these fellows ended up with in their attempts to save money for the Diocese.  I am ecstatic for them.  Just hoping they were able to rent some sleeping space at Heathrow for their twelve hour lay over there.  I cannot imagine being trapped for that many hours in the shopping mecca that is Heathrow.  Yikes...my husband is no shopper and hates crowds.

So, if they made all their connections, they should now be at their hotel and ready to start the conference this evening.  I will be excited to hear which other international Bishops they meet and what their impressions of the country are...at least what little of it they will be able to see.  That is the downside of travelling internationally for big conferences.  Often there is simply no time to actually sight see. But at least my husband can now add Africa to his list of travel destinations.  He has had to wait so many years to fulfill any dreams of international travel, but at last it is happening.

I doubt I will hear from him until he returns to England next week.  One good thing we learned over years of being separated for work back in the days before such great electronic communication options, is that we are not joined at the hip.  We are not frantic if a few days or a week goes by without hearing from each other.  We do not require constant daily contact via iphones and ipads and on and on.  If we were in contact as often as many of the other couples we know we would both lose our minds....aiii yiii...the level of insecurity this age of technology has promoted among people in marriage or other close relationships is baffling to me.  How many times a day does a couple need to be in touch?  Can no thought be saved until later in the day when there is time to actually sit down and discuss things?  Have we become so completely forgetful or insecure or excited by our own often inane thoughts that we can't wait even an hour or two to share them?  Yikes...I admit, I don't get it!!

I am having a lovely time on my own, accomplishing little of value so far, but enjoying myself nonetheless.  Last night I hopped in the car and drove to Moose Jaw for supper with a friend.  That was fun and running into some people from the church there while we were dining added even more fun to the event.  Today I am sitting here admiring my own handiwork from the window frame and pane cleaning I did yesterday.  Of course, OF COURSE, today it is raining and some of my good work will be wiped out all ready, but at least it is better than peering through the muck that was on the door windows since we moved in.  I washed down the doors as well.  I think there were a couple of years of accummulated dirt and grime all over them. Yucko!!  I will take a bag of things to the thrift store later this morning and pick up a couple of items at the grocery store.  Must be careful not to get much in the way of any more fresh veggies as I will be leaving for Calgary in a few more days.  Tomorrow is the staff and "travel widows" lunch at the Synod office and Friday I am getting together with my husband's cousin.  Guess I will be doing my laundry and such on Saturday and packing up to leave.  So glad I sheduled in a day of visits in Olds next week.  It will give my family and I a break from each other for a day before I return home.

This morning I received emails and photos from people I know in Romania. They are from Winnipeg and work with the poorest of the poor in Romania.  O my...remember my previous complaining emails about the state of rentals in my city here?  Well, that is the last of the complaints.  Compared to the Romanians these people work with I live in a palace.  Of course, thinking about the world in general, I have always known this, but to see the photos taken just yesterday in the Romanian reality of poverty, it drives home to me my incredibly blessed life.  I know where our missions money is going to go this month.

 



Monday, May 11, 2015

On His Way

After a brief stop at the store for camera batteries, my husband and his luggage were deposited at the office just after 8am on this "perfect weather for travelling" day.  I felt sad driving him over there.  Being a work widow/er is difficult for anyone, but there is something particularly unsettling when a spouse is going to work for a time half way around the world.  In a couple of hours he will be soaring overhead in a plane to begin a rather long journey.  A happy event is an update that came from the airline last night to let him know the layover in Dubai has been shortened by over 2 hours.  That is a nice treat!  He was able to let his pick up in Africa know immediately and new arrangements were made.  This is the JOY of electronic media. I will spend the morning at home, until I know his flight has left and he is safely on it, before I spread my own wings and fly around here for the week!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Day, Mama

I am urping and burping tonight after a fat laden chicken cesar salad for dinner: wow, not only a bit too much dressing on the salad, (unusual at this particular restaurant) but the chicken strips came slathered in delicious but fatty and "carby" mamais sauce.  Yikes!!  The garlic toast was white Texas cut bread....o my....plus my husband pulled all the allergy producing corn niblets out of his own dinner and proudly presented them to me to eat. Ack!!  So, I have been working out for the past hour trying to wear off some of the bad, bad, bad foods I ingested this evening.  Ack! again.....  Why does the addition of so much fat make everything taste SOOO good??? Why? Why? Why???? Ack! in triplicate....

My nicer than nice Mothers' Day was capped off a few minutes ago by a most unexpected email from The Son down in New York.  It is rare to hear from him on "social nicety" occasions when he is between girlfriends who remind him of such things....although....as I think about it, his ex is in New York right now and I am betting she spent some time with him today and told him to contact his mother. hahaha Yup, I am placing bets on that scenario.  Considering all that has gone on between them over the past few years it is galling to have to be grateful to her for having my own son contact me. hahaha A lot of you readers who know what has gone on will appreciate my struggle to be as grateful as I should be if she is indeed responsible for my son's consideration today. haha

Church was fun too.  Apparently they have a fairly new tradtion there of the women wearing hats of all kinds for Mothers' Day.  One of the ladies donates five dollars to the church for every person that wears a hat.  This year she was prepared with a bag filled with pretty flower and ribbon arrangements to pin into the hair of people like myself who are unaware of this tradition and arrived sans hats of any kind.  It was a lot more fun than it sounds.  All of us looked equally silly/pretty, depending on your point of view and everyone went along with the fun.  My husband got into the act by wearing his felt fedora before and after the service.  We were also handed tambourines, maracas, rhythm sticks and what have you as we entered the church and we all beat, shook and flailed happily away on them during the final hymn: To God be the Glory.  They are a crazy, happy bunch and I think we are going to enjoy our new parish.

We spent the afternoon at the Synod office photocopying passports, downloading final schedules for my husband's trip and sending out emails that need to be done before he leaves the diocese, printing off a couple of pages of photos of our townhouse for me to take to show my parents next week, collecting the remaining paperwork that needs to accompany my husband on his trek around the globe.  Now I am doing a final load of laundry and ironing so he can complete his packing.  He is presently setting up a time zone chart so he knows when to take his malaria meds for the next couple of weeks. He has dutifully contacted all the family members.  So much to do and so little time, yet it is all coming together.  He has been too busy with work in general to put in the time to research fully his entire journey the way he would have liked to, the way he usually does, but sometimes life is like that.  I suspect he feels rather unprepared this time around.  His last trip overseas was to India and the amount of research he did before going was pretty intense.  

So, time to go and phone my own mom for Mothers Day.  I sent her a really nice card with Baltimore Orioles on the front. She loves birds.  Dad's card for next month's Fathers' Day is packed and ready to go with me next weekend.  Then, off to do the last batch of my husband's ironing.  Up early tomorrow as usual so that I can drop him off at the Synod office, from which the Bishop's Chaplain will take them to the airport for the first leg of their very long flight.  I doubt I will accomplish much around here tomorrow as I will be emotionally exhausted from the preparation and from contemplating that my husband is going to Africa....for me, non-traveller that I am....it might as well be the moon.  Once I have recovered I have a lot of people to see before I go on my own little jaunt.  It is going to be a busy few weeks on both sides of the ocean.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Word To The Wise.....

If you purchase a fly swatter FIRST on your shopping mall excursion, remember to have the cashier place it into a bag.  If you wander into ladies clothing stores carrying a fly swatter in your bare hands it leads to all manner of confused and terrified looks on the part of the other shoppers, (the looks I am sure a lady I used to see on the streets in Calgary received as she wandered about the downtown core sporting a whiskey Five Star on the back of her head and waving a car aerial about like a wand, poor soul...), and too many time consuming stories from middle aged store clerks who want to ignore the paying customers long enough to regale you with unwanted stories about their winters in Texas where they couldn't find fly swatters strong enough to deal with all the miserable flies they had to contend with.....sigh.....

My new gadget for the kitchen is a wonderful invention: it is a little plastic tray arrangement that sits in the bottom of the sink and catches all the potato and carrot peelings etc.  When I am done hacking at the vegetables, I simply lift the entire tray out of the sink and deposit the peelings into the garbage instead of having to scrape the danged things out with my bare hands and making a huge mess, not only of my hands, but all over the bottom of the sink.  With the new catch tray I don't even have to wash out the sink afterward.  Nothing from the peelings comes in contact with it.  LOVE IT!  I just wipe off the tray and put it away.  I have to confess I purchased it at my favourite kitchen store to deflect my temptation to buy an absolutely gorgeous china service for eight, that was on sale...a really GOOD sale....AND dishwasher safe, so I could actually use the one in my kitchen....but I didn't.  I was a good girl and settled for an eight dollar catch tray.  Are ya' prouda me?? I sure as heck am proud of me!!

Friday, May 8, 2015

A Fun Date Day!

We got ourselves together early yesterday morning and headed into  Moose Jaw to get our car serviced and some repairs completed, new all season tires...the works!  When we made the appointment earlier in the week it was definitely feeling more spring-like out of doors and we had visions of a lovely warm day of bustling about the town on foot until the car was ready to take home.

Everything we planned on came about, except for the "lovely warm day".  Oh my...it was cold enough to snow.  The howling winds must have been left over from the system that dumped over seven inches of snow on Edmonton the day before because, although we had no snow to contend with, it was freezing cold the entire day. Thankfully we had warm shirts and coats or it could have been a disasterous undertaking.  

As it was, we made the best of it and over the course of the day, according to my husband's step counter, we walked for 10 kilometres and burned more than twice the daily calories recommended.  GOOD NEWS INDEED!!  My ankle held up well in my comfy Naot shoes, even though they are nearly worn out after very heavy use for the past couple of years.  Well, they will get a break now because I found a spiffy pair of maroon Wind River walking shoes on huge sale price at Mark's yesterday.  So happy my husband needed a new pair of cotton pants because of finding that unexpected pair of shoes that actually fit me and for only thirty five dollars...aaaah, clearance rack, bless you!

As we wandered around the town my husband purchased the rest of the small personal items he will need for his trip next week.  He was able to get his international driver's license, his travel size personal hygiene items, the aforementioned pants, a wonderful fluorescent vest for riding his bicycle at night  this summer, a long sleeved summer shirt and other odds and ends.  We came home with a car full of shopping bags from the various sales we discovered for his travel items.  I had no idea he needed so many things JUST for the 4 days in Africa, let alone for the rest of the time in England.  I gulped audibly at what it cost us for only a couple of hundred dollars in US funds that he needs to present to the African immigration authorities....I knew the exchange rate wasn't good but haven't kept up to just how bad it currently is.  Wow!!  I am really behind the times there.

We had a couple of yummy meals out as well, as part of our pre-travel date day.  Fish tacos at Original Joes....mmmmm, one of my favourites!  The waitress there kept calling us "cute" and bending over backward to tease us about how cute she thought we were.  If this is some kind of new approach to seniors in what is essentially a young persons' establishment, well, all we can say is "keep it up gals"!  It worked well and we returned there mid-afternoon for some creme brulee!!  Different waitress, same sweetly patronizing smile at our continuing "cuteness". hahahahaha  We felt like favoured grandparents and we felt like we were about 110 years old, but it was a lot of fun kibbutzing with these young people who are so well trained as servers and who smiled so cheerfully and apparently sincerely during our time there.  Not that I want to innundate them with the nearly elderly, but it really is a nice place to eat if you don't mind the pounding music coming through the speakers. We don't, we rather enjoy it. 

Dinner was at Rock Creek Grill...another of the newer chains that tries to put together a nicer than average chain restaurant menu.  I had a burger with wonderfully hot, charred jalapeno pepper slices on top. O  my it was tasty. The salad was huge and fresh.  My husband had a pizza that came on a large pita crust.  It wasn't a hefty meal as a result, but it was very tasty. They changed out the BBQ sauce it was supposed to have with regular tomato sauce and it was no problem at all to do it.  That is a nice change from some of the chains who just blanche at the thought of having to make a change of any kind from the standard menu listings. I shared my large salad with him and it was a perfect dinner.

As we wandered around downtown Moose Jaw in the afternoon, we had some good visits with old friends.  First was a long visit with a friend who owns the second hand bookstore.  He and the shop are still in recovery from the fire there a year or more ago that took down most of the rest of the block and destroyed the small business dreams of several business owners.  It was a learning experience as my husband finally saw for himself the kind of construction that happened in downtown buildings circa 1910: the kind of construction that saw new buildings butt up to older buildings and not put in their own wall between the buildings. They simply chipped out holes in the wall of the existing building big enough to rest the floor joists into (and barely at that!) for the new building, then plastered over it all. When the big cranes came after last year's fire to tear down the remains of the burned out section of the block, they realized just in time that if they took down the remaining wall, it would leave the building beside it with no wall at all on that side!! Oh the legal fun and games of sorting that mess out!!  Our friend from the bookstore is also one of the upstairs tenants who was temporarily displaced due to smoke damage.  He is back there now that the asbestos team has removed all the ancient asbestos from the suites above the stores and the renovation teams are in place to redo the rest of the suites.  Being from AB it is hard to understand why buildings that old and in that poor of condition would be allowed to stay in place at all, let alone have hundreds of thousands of dollars put into repairs....although I am guessing only tens of thousands of dollars will be spent in reality, with only the most minimal of building code standards met.  Brrrr....I wouldn't want to risk living in there, but our friend and his wife have renovated their place just beautifully and, understandably, wouldn't want to lose it.  My husband learned about that old method of construction when he was in carpentry school but had never actually seen it for himself.

We walked over to our former church and inadvertently interrupted the pastoral care committee meeting.  It was good timing though. They were just taking a break and warmly welcomed us in for a short visit and a lovely time of prayer over us as we each prepare to depart on our trips over the next couple of weeks.  It seems to have been the missing piece in our comfort level about these travels.  After the prayer time we finally feel completely peaceful about going away.

Had a chance for a quick visit with one of my favourite transit bus drivers as well.  He pulled into the turnaround with his full 5 minutes to spare before driving on, so we had a good chat in that short time. Always nice to see the folk who transported me so cheefully every day when we lived in Moose Jaw a few years ago.

We had hoped to stay in town for the 8pm Compline service at our former church, but as we were eating our early dinner my husband got an email telling him of a serious computer problem back at the office.  We had to skip the Compline and get home.  Technically yesterday was a day off, but when he thought about how much he had to do today on top of working in a visit with a friend in hospital, he decided to go into work last night for the computer problem. It is good he did that because it took a few hours to solve.  

So happy to have the car all fixed up for the trip back..new tires, oil and coolant, lots of little problems fixed and good news that our brakes didn't need to be done after all. There was a build up of dirt around the brake shoes and once it was all cleaned out all else was well. The ignition problems that have plagued me this week turned out to be the result of a worn out key. I can get a new one cut from my husband's key tomorrow.  We know we are going to have to get a different car within the next year or so, but at this point we might as well drive this one until a seriously expensive problem occurs, or until the exterior starts showing more signs of rust and wear.

So it was a grand day away.  We spent the entire day together!!  Days off are not usually that much fun.  We walked and walked, we burned off the calories from our restaurant meals, we had more good news than bad about our vehicle, we saw good friends rather unexpectedly, we got rid of another box of books from our place, we were prayed over, we ate well, we laughed and talked, we purchased everything else my husband needs to travel, we nearly froze but at least we got to be outdoors all day....it was just a grand time together....a nice lead in to nearly 3 weeks apart.

So THIS is the "Frosty Friday" Everyone Talks About!

What a week of weather!  We've had wonderful warmth, strong winds, hot sun, warm and cold rains and today we are one of the "HOT" spots in the province at -1C upon awakening this morning.  Brrrr....feeling very sorry for the deep pink plum blossoms and heavy cones of teeny, brilliant white May Tree blossoms that showed up in the spring warmth earlier this week.  Hope the trees and little plants do not go into shock, but tonight we may hit a low of -3C and that will not bode well for the local greenery.  If it kills off some of the insects, that would be fabulous...something good to come of this late, bitterly cold spring.

 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mary's Latest Update

Just received word from Pete that Mary is now back at home, unbelievably surviving the terrible respiratory infection.  She has a "cough machine" that the ALS society is subsidizing.  It assists her in clearing mucous from her throat and lungs.  Her lungs are fully inflated now but her diaphragm is too weak to draw air in without assistance from the machine.  

Hydration is the worst problem at this point.  She cannot have a gastric tube, has such terrible scarring that intravenous is no longer an option and has lost so much weight that the nasal tube, which must be permanently attached, is not able to fit. There is insufficient fat left under her skin to take any kind of tubing or intravenous needles at all.  So, she is trying to force her throat muscles to work well enough to swallow water and it isn't working all that well.

At this point all I can do is pray that she has strength to get through all of this, emotionally and spiritually, as her body continues to fail.  None of us can believe the respiratory infection did not take her life.  We are grateful that she was able to see and visit with her son for more than a week before he had to leave again, but now we wonder how much one body can take before giving up.

Thank you for continuing to pray.  We don't know how Pete has the strength either to keep going with his ministry and his constant caregiving for his wife.  His faith is as strong as her own and strengthens ours as well as we watch this happening to our dear friends.

Countdown to Africa

My husband is nearly ready for his first trip to Tanzania for the Companion Diocese conference.  The innoculations and oral meds are purchased and being taken with the most minor of side effects, Canadian dollars exchanged for US dollars, certificates in hand to show the Tanzanian authorities that his yellow fever and e-coli shots and pills are up to date, flights and hotels booked for the UK part of the trip.  Now we just need to locate his mosquito netting and I need to get his laundry done. So far, so good.  He is too busy to be able to put much thought or concern into any of this beyond sorting out the material details of it all.  He doesn't know if he is excited or not about the trip because he hasn't had time to think much about it.  I suspect when he deplanes in Dar it is all going to hit him and he will go into mild shock to find himself there.  So glad he will be with the Bishop and they can muddle through it all together.  I pray for their safety mostly and for their health. They both have some issues that could be triggered by the diet they will be ingesting, particularly on the African segment of the journey.  I have acute stress at times when I think about terrorism and the targeting of airplanes and airports on such a volatile continent.  I have had one particularly bad session of unnecessary worrying after a poor night's sleep last week.  Me and "tired" are not a good pairing.  I just have to trust the Lord for the outcome he wants for these two dear men as they travel and for all the other bishops and archdeacons travelling to the conference from around the world.

Spring is being awfully slow in arriving on the prairies this year.  Some of the trees are starting to leaf out in spite of the ongoing cold winds.  There are masses of little insects buzzing about on the lawns and getting tangled in our hair and clothing when we walk outside around this complex.  Don't know what they are. They resemble large mosquitoes and make the most terrifying buzzing noise, but they don't bite.  Our complex is the only place I have come across them so far.  Do they follow the geese?  We have at least 2 pair of nesting geese who have not nested over at the lake in the park across the road. They have nested somewhere in the midst of our complex and it is sometimes daunting trying to dodge them on the way from the back door to the car lot. Once their goslings arrive it will be dangerous to go out there if they decide to attack us while they protect their young.  No one but us seems particularly concerned about this, but perhaps none of them have ever been attacked by large angry geese like we have in the past.  It isn't a barrel of laughs!!  Apparently this is the first time Canada geese have nested in the midst of our buildings so no one knows what to expect.  Fish and Wildlife personnel don't seem interested in relocating them, so I guess what will be will be.

The dust continues to blow.  We are in need of rain actually to calm everything down and clean everything up.  A fair amount of it is forecast for tomorrow so today I will drive around and get my banking and shopping done.  My husband will be taking the car on Wednesdays now to go to his new parish for weekly staff meetings, so it is forcing me to better organize my time each week.  Wednesdays will be for house cleaning and Thursdays will be for laundry and ironing. 

Friday evening we are hoping to wander over to The Artful Dodger pub to enjoy a poetry reading by Robert Currie, who has been poet laureate for Saskatchewan and who has written some amazing books of poetry pertaining to the prairies.  He is releasing a new book of poetry and we are looking forward to hearing him, perhaps purchasing his latest edition.  We met him and his wife at church when we lived in Moose Jaw and they are the most delightful couple.  

Back to Africa: the countdown has begun....5 more days until my husband has a new adventure.  He is so happy he didn't know the extent of the busyness of the office work before he agreed to go on this excursion.  If he had, he wouldn't have agreed to take the time to be away for so long.  He agreed to go before we had even moved here and is so glad he did.  He can go knowing everyone will be patient with how far behind he will be with other work items when he returns.  It is all good.

PS I had a fantastic sleep last night and feel caught up and ready to get about my day!  YAY!!  

Monday, May 4, 2015

Tired but Happy and Grateful but Crabby

Yesterday was an excellent day in every way.  Church went incredibly well.  We meet apparently at the same time as the Lutheran congregation meets in the other half of the building....2 lovely chapels inside and people milling everywhere.  As soon as our service ended the United church minister took over our space to set up for his congregation's service while we piled downstairs for a coffee and cake welcome to our new church home.  Before and after service the narthex was a scene of controlled chaos as all 3 church groups were having fundraising activities: a silent auction for the Lutheran church, penny carnival for the Uniteds and a table of our own folk selling tickets to our annual lobster dinner...that,  sadly, this year happens while my husband and I are both away.  O well....

There are 3 offices for the 3 ministers, a board room for meetings and counselling sessions, several offices for a group of psychologists who rent space, 2 kitchens and eating areas....it is a crazy place, vibrant with life.  In fact the space is so well used by community groups that there are times when we can't utilize our own space for our own events.  It is one busy and happy venue.

This congregation is just large enough and has sufficient leadership teams to release my husband to do only priestly duties.  It is quite a change for him to be surrounded by worship teams who pick the music, fundraising organizers who don't need his input at all as they are so well organized and efficient, people who have been hired to clean the building regularly and do all the snow removal even at the odd time that nothing is happening in the building, two office managers who field the phone calls and organize his schedule for the two days a week he is at the church and a wonderful full time deacon who is a great help to him.  She is recently retired from her secular job and so is available at all times and most eager to help.  For myself, I was invited to sit near the piano and join the other singers, like an unofficial choir helping the rest of the congregation to find their comfort level with the singing.

My concern about coping with all this was unfounded.  At coffee time I was not left sitting alone, left out of all the little groups of women who have known each other for years.  I was surrounded by these women who were making sure I had enough to eat, who were eager to both talk and listen and to include me in all the conversations.  I was well treated at coffee hour in our former parish and am delighted that seems to be going to continue here.

In the afternoon we had company and that was a great time as well.  There are certain people who have a real gift for visiting and this couple falls into that category of folk.  The afternoon flew by as we talked about everything from computers to camera equipment to deck building and cement pouring to art to potholes in the streets.

Speaking of potholes, the city of Regina announced recently that they were going to utilize all hours of the day and night this spring to fix as many of the streets as possible.  They are true to their word.  It is 3am at the moment and since 1:30am I have been listening to the dulcet tones of pile drivers, hot tar heaters and big engines as the street directly below my bedroom window is being repaired.  

Hence the subject line for this blog: I am tired from lack of sleep, but happy the road is being repaired; grateful the city is doing what it said it would do, but knowing I am going to be intensely crabby for most of the day from the exhaustion of no sleep overnight. I think I will settle for a laundry day and not do much else but rest when I need to.  Hopefully my husband has been able to get back to sleep as he has a very busy week and needs as much rest as he can get to manage all that is going on.  


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Tingley Tummy

In less than 2 hours my husband will be performing his first Eucharist in our new parish.  We will be meeting the rest of the congregation who were not present at last Friday's shindig.  If the vestry members and spouses are representative of the main body of believers there we are in good shape.  BUT my tummy is tingling none the less.  It is always stressful for the spouse in a  new parish as you don't know what the congregation's expectations are of you.  There is always at least one of them who will be more than happy and willing, eager even, to share what he or she sees are your major deficiencies, either in ministry, personality or wardrobe.  People are just people, forgiven by the Lord or not, and so sometimes things are said that leave a minister's spouse wondering how he or she got his or her self into this situation in the first place.  Seriously, I am sure it will be a good morning and that all will go well.....IF I can keep my OWN mouth shut and my opinions to my OWN self!! Yes, as far as being too open and honest in such situations, I am the worst offender of all, I admit it.

In other news, yesterday was a wonderful day on my own while my husband had a day of work to accomplish.  I decided to walk the kilometer or so to the downtown shopping mall as I had a haircut scheduled there in the afternoon.  I was ready really early, so walked down there really early so I could enjoy my favourite salad and chicken shwarma lunch.  O yum, it is always so good and the pickled turnip strips are fantastic.

When lunch was over I realized I had over 2 hours to fill until my hair appointment, so I supposed I would have to do an awful lot of window shopping.  As I wandered about I could see through the main entrance windows that it was raining outside, after such a lovely warm walk to get there.  Well, what does one do in such a situation but shop seriously for a new rain coat, right?  I had hoped to wait on that until my upcoming shopping trip with my husband's cousin, but the weather dictated otherwise. Both my rain coat and windbreaker back at the suite are too big for me and needed to be replaced anyway, so a half price sale at one of the stores convinced me to purchase both of them.  So glad I did as the hood on the rain coat protected my freshly "done" hair from the cold water pouring out of the sky.  So now I have 2 more used coats to donate to the thrift store, both in excellent, nearly new condition.  I am very easy on clothes, that is for sure.

The other way my time was pleasantly filled was by watching a series of dance troupes performing on a large stage set up in the main concourse of the mall.  Regina is having their annual Mosaic exhibition in the coming week and performing groups representing several different nations and cultures brought their dancers to perform at the mall to advertise the event.  

Mosaic is a great time: foods and entertainment provided by all manner of international communities, a real glut of fun foreign culture for a 3 day extravagaza.  It starts on Monday and isn't that far from our place so will probably take in a day of the event.

At the mall I enjoyed the Chinese community doing interpretive dance, some teeny tiny polka dancers from the Ukrainian community, some beautiful East Indian dancing, some Jamaican kids that just rocked the place and my favourite of the afternoon: a wonderful drum and dancing performance by some of the local First Nation kids.  There was a 10 year old boy who stole the show, he was that good.  Apparently he has an award winning dad in the world of native dancing and he is following in his father's footsteps.  Included in that group was a tiny fellow of about 4 years of age, massive headdress and back hoop feathers, fully beaded out and waving eagle feathers as he gazed around at the crowd, so distracted that he mostly forgot to dance at all, just looked happily about with a huge smile taking up residence across his entire face. SO CUTE!!!  The drummers were excellent and ranged in age from their leader in his 40's or so down to 3 tykes well under the age of 10 years.  They were inspiring and I wanted to get up on stage and drum with them.  It all made for an entertaining afternoon.

While I was eating my lunch I looked around the mall at all the people and the stores and the food booths and thought about how isolated I have been for a few years from all that is familiar to me.  An overwhelming sense of gratitude filled me from hairline to tippy toes and I could only thank the Lord for this blessing of being in a city again.  It is nearly overwhelming and I am humbled to be allowed to be in a place that fulfills me this much.  How long it will last I don't know, but I am eternally grateful to be here for as long as it does. Now, if I could just import all the people from the churches in our last parish, life would be perfect indeed.

A good day, a good weekend.  New friends to make this morning and then old friends coming to visit this afternoon.  It is all good.