I am...a woman of many talents...the wife of a most wonderful man...the proud mother of two amazing daughters...a sister, a daughter, a friend, a traveller...a total church geek...
I am...a woman of many talents...the wife of a most wonderful man...the proud mother of two amazing daughters...a sister, a daughter, a friend, a traveller...a total church geek...
My maternal grandmother was born February 5, 1908. She passed away September 30, 2004 but on this, the hundredth anniversary of her birth, I feel her spirit with me. She had one of the gentlest souls I have ever come across and I feel blessed to have known her. My sister and I both recall with great fondness the many hours of card playing we spent with Grammy...she had infinite patience when we'd keep pestering for "just one more game" of auction 45's.
Here she is on her 96th birthday in February, 2004:
Today my first baby turns EIGHTEEN!!! I'm in total denial, sheer and utter disbelief. How can this be?? She was only just born a couple years ago...wasn't she? Oh, alright, I will grumpily admit 1990 was more than a couple years ago. But she's my little girl, how can she suddenly have reached the age of majority...and right under my nose too, how sneaky of her!
Ah well, no matter her age, she knows she can't escape my smotherly...I mean motherly (Freudian slip anyone?) cuddles. I just pray she never feels too old to curl up with her mommy and watch a good chick flick!! Or in her case, make that a good vampire movie...
We're taking her out for supper tonight - her choice of restaurant. Japanese, no doubt, I'm just not sure which particular one she'll choose. Japanese is her current favourite cuisine (and her current favourite culture - both my girls are fascinated with Japan - I think it has to do with all those Japanese anime shows and books they are obsessed with!)
My darlin' has inherited my maternal grandmother's artistic talent. I'm at work right now, but one of these days I'll share a few of her paintings. And perhaps a few more photos of the gorgeous gal herself.
But I do happen to have this one on hand - it was taken about four years ago, but still one of my favourite photos. And if anyone was wondering why "The Ginger" is her nickname, it will become quite obvious once you see the photo!
(Sorry, the size is a bit large...I haven't any photo editing software on my work computer.)
Today my younger baby officially becomes a preteen...twelve years old. As with The Ginger turning 18, I feel a certain suspension of belief, a reluctance to accept this fact...plus the weight of old age creeping up on me! Although this last is offset by the incredible joy and "youngness" bestowed upon me by being the mother of such wonderful little girls...er, that is to say, young women. Nothing like acting the fool with your children to make you feel like a child again yourself!
Miss Ninja was "scheduled" to arrive the end January, but disobliging decided to wait 11 days past her due date to make her appearance...so she has literally been a free and independent spirit since day one!
I love the nickname she chose for herself last year. She called me at work one day when she got home from school (no, she's not a latchkey kid - The Ginger gets home first) to say that she had her registration papers for grade 6. One of the fields to be completed was "preferred name"...what did this mean, she wanted to know. I explained that sometimes kids don't go by their first name, but rather by a middle name or nickname, such as Dave instead of David. Oh, in that case, could she put "Miss Ninja"?? Alas, I had to dash her hopes and say no, it didn't mean that kind of nickname. But I've referred to her as such in my blog ever since.
Mother Nature gave her a most welcome gift today - a snow day! Just about every school in the province is cancelled today.
As for our gift to her, well she finagled that out of us on Friday (we're not always such soft touches, but her aunt was over for supper and to drop off her gifts for both girls, so I relented and let her have it.) And her argument was that since she actually paid for about a third of it, she should be allowed to have it a bit early. (Not bad logic at all, I thought.) She'd been saving for a new mp3 player, and I said I'd make up the difference. She'd had a couple cheap players, so this time we decided to go big or stay home - luck was with us because we found this player at FutureShop at quite a good discount. She is thrilled with it! (So was The Ginger...so much so that she bought one for herself.)
And now, I'm a bit more prepared photo-wise than I was when posting The Ginger's birthday tribute, so here are a few of my favourite photos:
V...is for Valentine's Day
V...is for Valerie
Valentine's Day is Valerie's birthday.
V...is also the third letter in the word loVe - which was angie's suggested topic for today.
So what better day to write about my minister, the lovely and talented Reverend Valerie?!
Show of hands: who would go to church more often if the minister was a vivacious, enthusiastic, soulful woman with the ability to make Scripture relevant? Well come along to my church then 'cause my Reverend ROCKS!!
Here she is front and centre with the kids for children's time (I didn't take the photo, but it just so happens that's my daughter's head mid-photo peeking around Valerie's shoulder)
Part of Valerie's irresistible appeal is that she usually seems to be speaking straight from her heart; she rarely refers to any written notes. For example: one Sunday she was speaking about tolerance and acceptance of others. At one point, she told us how she was driving to church that morning telling her teenage daughter to be careful in choosing friends and not to get in with the wrong crowd. Then she says "that's when Jesus smacked me upside the head and said you're doing exactly the opposite of what you're going to stand up and preach about in church this morning"...in full Newfie accent (which almost always breaks through when she's animated).
And she really shakes things up from time to time. I've come to believe she'll try anything once. For example, the time our Sunday service turned into a cheerleading session...
Leslie's photo in her post about her little red wagon gave me the idea for this post...I most definitely do not have Leslie's talent with photo effects, though, so in my case you get just the pics, ma'am...
Here I am, along with my sister, in our aunt's Pontiac Firebird convertible. That's me on the right, with my elbow on the door...was I feeling mighty cool and pleased with myself, or what?! Judging from the 1968 inspection sticker and the fact that it appears to be summertime, I'd be about 4 1/2 in this photo.
Lynn and I loved going for drives with "Phyl the pill". (Aka Phyllis, our mom's older sister, who has since gone on to listen to classical symphonies in the sky...or she could be up there listening to the latest alternative rock act, it's hard to say. She had uber-cool and cutting edge taste in music, that's for sure!)
girasoli's wonderful tribute to her mom gave me the inspiration for today's entry.
Here is my mother and my aunts as children. Mom is the adorable little pouty face on the left. (To her right is the aunt with the Firebird.) I absolutely love this photo, it so eloquently captures the many moods of little girls.
I heard from a good friend today, whom I haven't been in touch with for a while.
Life can get so busy and hectic that we don't always manage to find time for everyone, even though we still think of them often. I miss this lovely friend of mine and keep meaning to call or write to her and catch up on what's going on in both our lives, but yikes, where does the time go?
One of my favourite musicians (who also happens to be Canadian), Neil Young captured this feeling beautifully in his song "One Of These Days". (The video is purely for listening only, I don't know what's up with the crazy photo - but it's the only non-cover version I could find on youtube.)
Or "Twist Ties...they're not just for bread bags anymore"...
I was just listening to Kim Mitchell's great tune "All We Are" and was transported back 20+ years to the evening my husband proposed. A bunch of us were hanging out, having a few beer, listening to some tunes...the usual weekend gathering of friends, sharing conversations ranging from serious to silly. Dave and I were sitting out in the kitchen when - entirely out of the blue - he proposed. Or rather, not so much proposed as issued the statement "you're going to marry me, lady", whilst wrapping a twist tie on my finger. Hey, a man's got to be creative in these impromptu moments! The twist tie was soon replaced by a more traditional engagement ring, but of course I still have it (duh!), so am able to model it for you (on my decidedly ungraceful "sausage fingers"...):
While taking my mental walk down memory lane, I also had a peek at our wedding album and scanned a couple pics to share with you:
We say hooray,she's home...she says boohoo, the trip is over. Ginger just flew home from New York, where she's been since last Friday on a school trip. She had been looking forward to it for months, and it sounds like NYC was all she was expecting and more.
She was only gone for five days, but oh didn't her little sister miss her big time! No way was Miss Ninja letting us go to the airport without her. She even bought Ginger a little stuffed animal that she knew Ginger has been eyeing for a while (little stuffed penguin - big Happy Feet fan - it's a good match!)
Ginger came through the International Arrivals door and Miss Ninja rushed forward and threw her arms around her big sister. It was so sweet, as was Ginger's reaction of delight.
When we got back home, we ordered in Chinese food so we could hear all about the trip without having to stop and cook supper. I am saving the photo viewing until later, although we did look at a few pics. She was so animated and excited telling us about meeting a Rockette ("She was so pretty and nice, mommy!!") and an actor who'd played Skimbleshanks in CATS (one of her fave plays). Also, she is now in love with Phantom of the Opera (formerly had liked it well enough, but now considers it a lifetime highlight.) She went shopping at Macy's - got lost four times - wow, that place sounds HUGE!! But unfortunately she said most of the stores their guide took them to where wa-ay too expensive. They had a blast in the giant Virgin store on Times Square though. I am so happy that she had such a wonderful, fantastically exhilarating trip. She's been having such a struggle with her depression lately that it warms my heart to see her with a little kid grin on her face and a bounce in her step.
And for the rest of the evening, Ginger has been playing an electronic game with MN tucked up beside her, as close as humanly possible, watching the game's progress. Adorable.
Today I turned 8...
(Yes, that's right, I said 8. Oh alright, make that 4+4...)
Today's post is in honour of my brother-in-law, who is currently in a coma after having a stroke on Saturday. We are praying for a miraculous recovery, but it is just a waiting game.
In the words of my sister "it can't be his time to go yet, it just can't be." This immediately made me think of this poem, which remains very powerful in spite of being a little too oft quoted in bits and pieces.
Do not go gentle into that good night
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
This song is in memory of my brother-in-law, Floyd, who passed away last Sunday. At my sister's request, our choir sang this at the end of the funeral service yesterday. It was one of Floyd's favourites, and I know he would have liked this old time rendition.
The first gift:
...is our minister and friend, Rev. Valerie. She gave so much support to my sister, to me, to our family, through Floyd's illness and death, providing practical advice, or simply giving a hug and sharing stories, whatever was needed. From lifting our spirits with laughter, to contacting the UCW and arranging for meals to arrive, to just being there with loving compassion and her peaceful presence as though she had all the time in the world to spend with us, her strength and comfort was a gift from God.
The second gift:
...is a beautiful prayer shawl. Valerie was leaving the hospital one day, when she pulled two prayer shawls out of her bag and wrapped them around our shoulders, saying "May you always feel the arms of God around you". These shawls are made by the women of a local prayer ministry, who knit (or crochet) them while praying thoughts of healing and comfort. The miraculous feeling of peace and comfort that comes from wearing my prayer shawl is another amazing gift from God.
In times of darkness, a light is always shining somewhere. Here is a small sampling of the people and things that lit up my life and gave me strength during the past few weeks.
My greatest source of comfort, the man who is always there for me when I need to talk, to cry, to vent, or just to be held quietly. (One of these days I'll manage to get a photo with a smile and open eyes at the same time, but at least I managed to capture his beautiful smile for once!)
My wonderful daughters, who brighten all my days (and Winston)
There's nothing like going back through old photo albums to bring a smile to my face. Here are a few of my darlin' girls...don't they just melt your heart?!!
A woman from church invited me to come for coffee a few weeks ago. I think she's part of the pastoral care team from church, although I've gotten to know her through choir. But she's known of the challenges I've faced the past few months, and had invited me to come along to her home sometime for coffee and conversation (box of tissues optional!). In spite of my good intentions, I had not managed to find time to take her up on her kind offer. Recently she asked if I really did want to visit, only because she didn't want to keep pestering me to come for coffee if I really wasn't interested. I assured her that I wanted to, but just hadn't found the time yet.
This morning I decided it was time to go visit this lovely and welcoming soul. I called and she said to come right along. I arrived around 10:30 or so, thinking to visit for perhaps an hour...and stayed for three. She made us delicious coffee (she has a coffee press, which made a brew of gorgeous colour and flavour), which we drank out on her front deck, while engaged in conversation amid trees, squirrels, and birds of various species.
As we chatted and shared some of our stories, we discovered many common threads in our lives and personalities. After a while, she made us a light lunch of egg salad sandwiches (on her homemade raisin brown bread), carrot sticks and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. We probably would still be talking if life's demands hadn't gotten in the way. She had to pick up her granddaughter at school, and I had to take my oldest daughter to an appointment.
The visit was an unexpected blessing for me, in that it was a pleasant surprise to have felt so comfortable talking with her. And I told her so. She felt a nice connection as well, saying as I left that we'd just cemented a friendship. I look forward to seeing her again at choir practice on Thursday!
When did my adorable baby girl turn into this lovely young woman??
She's graduating from high school in a little over a month, and has already been admitted into the university of her choice, where she will live in residence. I am so incredibly proud of her, and cannot wait to watch her unfold over the next five, ten, fifty, years!
I am giving my mom a homemade card for Mother's Day...something I haven't done for years. I used the following poem (found on this website) and a photo from our March 2006 trip. The photo was taken in the grounds of the Villa Borghese, and is of mom admiring the almond (I think?) blossoms.
God's Masterpiece Is Mother
God took the fragrance of a flower...
The majesty of a tree...
The gentleness of morning dew...
The calm of a quiet sea...
The beauty of the twilight hour...
The soul of a starry night...
The laughter of a rippling brook...
The grace of a bird in flight...
Then God fashioned from these things
A creation like no other,
And when his masterpiece was through
He called it simply - Mother.
- Herbert Farnham
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO ALL MY FELLOW MOMS!!!
I got an email from a friend today, It was one of those normally circulated as a mass mailing - full of baby photos and cute sayings - but in this case, the email message was just from her to me.
A couple years ago, our once very close and warm friendship seemed to come to an end, so these lines at the end of the email moved me to tears. I could see this as a piece of junk mail, or I could see it as my friend reaching out to rebuild our friendship...I chose the latter and emailed her back immediately to say that I love her always. And now if you'll excuse me, I need another tissue...
Life is too short to wake up with regrets.
So love the people who treat you right..
Forget about the one's who don't.
Believe everything happens for a reason.
If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands.
If it changes your life, let it.
Nobody said life would be easy,
they just promised it would be worth it.
Friends are like balloons; once you let them go, you might not get them back. Sometimes we get so busy with our own lives and problems that we may not even notice that we've let them fly away. Sometimes we are so caught up in who's right and who's wrong that we forget what's right and wrong. Sometimes we just don't realize what real friendship means until it is too late. I don't want to let that happen, so I'm gonna tie you to my heart so I never lose you.
Send this to all your friends, including me, and see how many you get back. Even send it to your balloons that you think have flown away forever. You may be surprised to see it return. Send this heart to everybody you like. You may also return it to me.
Inspired by Maria's photos of votive trees, here is one of Miss Ninja lighting a candle in Chiesa di Ognissanti last summer:
Valerie and I went for a marvellous drive along the Fundy coast to Cape d'Or today.
Strangely for me, I forgot to take any photos this day. But here's a video I found on youtube to give you a glimpse of this spectacular spot.
Each week on Thursday, Valerie sends an email to our entire congregation (or at least to those who've provided their email addresses) as a way of keeping in touch between Sundays. This email is often a newletter of sorts, telling us what's going on in upcoming Sundays, letting us know who is need of our prayers and support through difficult times, keeping us up to date on our sponsored refugee family's situation, and other congregational news. Or it might be a call to offer up our talents toward various ministries, such as youth group, prayer shawls, funerals, music, etc. Recently she invited us to "give some prayerful consideration to what your gifts are and if, in fact, you are being called by God". She wrote: "I do not yet know your name but I do know God is calling – Do you not hear?"
Other weeks, her emails are reminders to "take the time to experience the presence of God in the people around you and the places you find yourselves in. In the darker moments and in those times of complete joy, God is there and we are indeed blessed."
But today, her email included a reflection on our coastal drive, which I wrote about myself yesterday, so I want to share it with you in full...
Here are a few drawings Ginger did recently for her Grade 12 art class...
Enter The London Dungeon at your own risk...
Actually the only risk is to your wallet...man, is it expensive!!! But it was a lot of fun and was one of Miss Ninja's highlights from our family trip last year, as you can see from the following photo.
I am a huge Queen fan - there's no better campfire song than Bohemian Rhapsody!
Another of my favourite Queen songs is You're My Best Friend, and I dedicate it here to The Man from Glad himself, my hubby.
Recently my daughter told me that a friend's parents had offered to pick her up at our house, take her to her friend's bowling party, and then drive her home again. I said oh no, I would come get her after the party, as there was no need for them to do all that driving. She replied forcefully “Mum, they offered to bring me home, and if someone offers something, you have to accept, otherwise they’ll think you don’t like them”. I assured her they won’t think any such thing, and explained that whether or not we accept someone’s offer has nothing to do with whether or not we like them.
And yet later that evening, when my own friend turned down an offer I had made when I'd thought she might need a friend on an upcoming trip, I found my daughter's words echoing in my head. Why, knowing there was not a shred of truth to it, would such a thought enter my mind? And yet strangely it did. Even though I fully understood my friend’s reason for saying "thanks for the thought, but maybe another time". Even though I knew the reason she didn't want my company had nothing to do with me in particular, she just wanted to take some time for herself. Even though I myself sometimes choose solitude over the company of friends and family.
I am a hypocrite in the face of my own insecurity. I wonder if this is normal. I wonder if my insecurity is a burden for my friends...I hope not.
O, Insecurity, you curious beast...how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways...
I hate when the fear of perceived rejection paralyzes and weakens me. I hate when ridiculous and irrational thoughts crawl out of my brain and swirl around my mind. I hate that, even though I recognize their absurdity, those thoughts still lead me to a place of withdrawal. I turn inward and circle the wagons, determined not to risk rejection again.
I don't know what's going on around here today, I think someone's been spiking the coffee pot or something. It's barely past lunchtime and already I've been accused of embezzling funds, being a traitor, and carrying a concealed weapon!
Actually it was all in jest, and mostly I brought the accusations on myself, but whatever... :)
If you'll excuse me, I have a plane to catch:
We had a courier delivery this morning before our Admin Assistant arrived and someone said it was from the bank. I asked if it was a bag of money ("courier, what courier? I didn't see any package arrive...oh by the way I'm leaving early today...") So of course the conversation went straight downhill from there, and people started joking about how I seem to be hard at work, but really I'm just busy embezzling money outta the Province's bank into my own Cayman Island accounts...
We don't serve traitors around here:
Three or four of us usually go for coffee in the morning. We always go down to the food court to a place called Bella Ciao (which is run by a Lebanese man named Ziyad, go figure.) Ziyad jokes around with everyone and usually has our coffees poured without us even having to order. (We tease Tricia that she has a "thing" for him, but really we all think he's charming!) Our habit of always going to Bella Ciao has become so ingrained that we feel bad going somewhere else in our building's small food court. If we feel like Chinese food at lunchtime, we slip quickly past Bella Ciao, studiously avoiding eye contact with Ziyad...it's rather funny, actually. This morning I felt like bacon and eggs (which in itself is bizarre - I'm not usually a hearty breakfast person) but Ziyad makes only muffins and bagels and goodies like that, so I had to go along to Nick's, the Greek grill a couple spaces down from Bella Ciao. I got my bacon and eggs from Nick and then backtracked to Bella Ciao for my coffee. Ziyad was in the kitchen, so my friend Tricia tried to call him over to get my coffee (she'd already gotten hers while I was at Nick's). He looked over a couple times but didn't come out. Tricia joked that he wouldn't serve me anymore because now I am a traitor for going to Nick's. I'm sure Ziyad was just busy...wasn't he?! :)
Walk softly and carry a concealed weapon:
I was at the reception desk, talking to Tricia, when a man from one of the offices adjoining our section walked by on his way to the lunchroom. "I see you have a device, is it a gun??' He asked, quickly adding that he was only joking. (I had my cell phone in a case that clipped over the waistband of my skirt, but my top comes down over it so all he could see was the bump.) I pulled my phone out of its case and "fired" at him while he ducked and ran serpentine-fashion down the hall! Ah, the things we do to amuse ourselves on a Friday when the cubicle farm population is low...
What's next in my secret life as a criminal, I wonder?!
A few months ago, Rev. Valerie had asked Ginger if she would give a reflection on Grad Sunday (today). Ginger agreed. Weeks passed without inspiration. One particularly bad day, she almost called Valerie to say she couldn't do this after all. But she decided to give it a bit more time and see if the words would come. A few days ago, she managed to put a few thoughts on paper, but said it was only about 30 seconds worth and she thought it was stupid. I read it and (honestly) assured her it was not. She planned to finish it Friday since she had no school, but was not feeling very optimistic that she'd be able to find anything interesting to say. I suggested that perhaps she might include a poem, song lyric, favourite passage from a book, etc. if she needed to, in order to find the inspiration that was eluding her. I also reminded her to have faith in herself and to believe that her words are of interest to others.
When I got home Friday evening and read her draft, I was so impressed by what she wrote. Afterward, several people commented on how moved they were by her words. One woman said that she was especially touched because her son also suffers from depression. I know that my own eyes welled up with tears while listening to my beautiful daughter speak of her pain. At the same time, my heart swelled with love and pride at her courage in speaking about her depression so openly. She is an amazing, strong, generous young woman who has so much to offer. Dave and I are incredibly proud of her.
Without further ado, here is the text of her reflection:
Hooray, I survived my first solo performance! Amazingly, I was hardly nervous at all, it was a wonderful feeling to share this uplifting and joyful song with everyone. (Singing the line "I can feel this God song rising up in me" felt quite literally true.)
My family - including Dave for once! - was in the pews beaming encouragement at me. My younger daughter even gave me a thumbs up at the end...how cool is that? And quite a few people offered kind words after the service, so I guess I must have sounded ok. (Er, unless of course everyone was just being polite...but I don't think that was the case!) The only disappointing part about today was that Valerie was away so had to miss my big "debut" as well as Ginger's incredibly moving reflection. Janice (our church's staff associate) lead the services in Valerie's absence and really was wonderful...but it wasn't quite the same :(
During children's time, Janice talked about Psalm 86 (at least I think that's what she said), in terms of how we act when afraid (of the dark, of rejection, of whatever makes us fearful), and how we can get strength and comfort from God at these times...which I thought was very interesting, especially considering my musings last week about insecurity.
My friend Brent told me he recorded the service today (audio only, I think) and that he'd give me a copy of the recording. He said he wants to keep a copy for himself too, and then went on to say that Valerie always gets a copy "because she's second to God, you know, and that's only if God keeps on his toes"...he cracks me up with his quirky sense of humour.
Anyway, once I have the recording, and if I can figure out how, maybe I'll upload my own rendition here. In the meantime, if you're interested to hear the song I chose, here's a random version from youtube:
What a year this has been for my beautiful girl. But promise and hope are bright on the horizon as she moves into the next phase of her journey. Her high school graduation ceremony was today. I was quite surprised at how overcome with emotion I was. I was expecting to be excited and happy and to feel my heart bursting with pride...all of which happened. But I was also fighting back tears of pure joy and relief that my darling has made it through this dark year. I literally could not keep my eyes dry, although did manage to refrain from descending into full fledged weeping! She was also struggling not to cry, especially while listening to the guest speaker. The guest speaker was a grade 11 student from her school who had broken his back in a skiing accident earlier this year and lost the use of both legs, and partial use of his arms. He spoke about his accident and his disability with grace, optimism and humour. What an amazing spirit. The entire ceremony was inspiring.
Here are a few photos of our gorgeous graduate...
Not so very long ago, someone said to me:
"I really enjoy sharing stories with you and getting to know you better. There are some people in my journey who, in the words of Anne of Green Gables, are “Kindred Spirits”. I feel that when I am with you. Just wanted you to know that."
I was reminded of this beautiful expression of friendship today when I came across the very words she referenced:
“A bosom friend - an intimate friend, you know - a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul”
~ From “Anne of Green Gables”, by L.M. Montgomery
And again when I saw this drawing, which totally tickled my funny bone. How cool that it is entitled "Kindred Spirits" because it just feels perfect for this particular friendship...
"Let's face it, friends make life a lot more fun."
~ Charles R. Swindoll
Yesterday I posted about friends, today I will post some words about sisters...
"To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time."
~ Clara Ortega
"Sisters don't need words. They have perfected a language of snarls and smiles and frowns and winks - expressions of shocked surprise and incredulity and disbelief. Sniffs and snorts and gasps and sighs - that can undermine any tale you're telling."
~ Pam Brown
"A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double."
~ Toni Morrison
"For there is no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather, to cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands."
~ Christina G. Rossetti
Here I am with my own sister in the Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest:
(Note to self: take more photos with my sister!! I realized how few I have when looking for some to add to this post. I will have to go through my old albums and scan a few...will add those later.)
The girls and I went to see Mamma Mia! this evening with my friend Tricia. What fun we had!!! The movie is so lively and upbeat. Although yes, there was one scene that had my eyes watering...a scene where the mother is singing about her daughter growing up...I was holding Ginger's hand and the song really moved me, blah, blah I'm a big fat crybaby, whatever... :)
The performances were fantastic. I was surprised at how well everyone sang. Meryl Streep totally rocked on "The Winner Takes It All", she really belted it out with feeling. She also got the emotions across on "Slipping Through My Fingers" (which is the one that got me snifflin').
Of course it's not a movie of great depth - hey, it's based on ABBA songs, what can you expect?! But it is full of exuberance, an attractive cast and gorgeous - absolutely stunning - scenery. (And any movie with Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth to gaze upon is ok in my books!) We had so much fun, we bought the soundtrack...and Miss Ninja has already told me that we are buying the dvd the minute it comes out.
Here's a taste:
If you're looking for a fun, boisterous, musical evening out, this movie's for you!
What a lovely day we had today. Ginger and I went with my friend Tricia to her church - she and I are doing an "exchange". I went to her church this week, and she is coming to mine another week. (Actually we are not-so-secretly trying to lure each other to our own church. I don't know what her motivation is, but for my part, she is just so much fun and would bring a great energy to our church. However, we both love our own houses of worship, so I don't think either of us is going to make a move.)
Her minister, Rev. George MacDonald, is a very friendly and down to earth older gentleman, who is retiring this year. He gave a wonderful sermon, titled "Season to Taste". He began by speaking of his mother's stew and how, no matter how he tries, he cannot make a stew that tastes like hers. After she passed away, he found the recipe she used, which was her mother's. He said it was easy to follow, the instructions were clear and basic...until the last line "season to taste". Does that mean salt and pepper, or a mix of the herbs and spices in the rack above the stove? Does that mean season to his taste, her taste, the diners' taste? And he still has never made a stew that tastes like hers... And that lead into a sermon of how God seasons to his taste and how it's always the decision points that are difficult. It's easy to follow instructions, go to church each week, read the Bible, etc. But what about the times in our lives when we are called upon to "season to taste"? It was very thoughtful. We met and had a nice chat with him afterward. He asked where we were from, and it turns out he knows my Rev. Valerie and her husband Mark (who is also a minister, but in the Anglican Church, not the United Church).
Do you ever see something and instantly think "wow, that would be so perfect for so-and-so, I must get it for him/her"? Don't you just love that feeling?! I am always thrilled when I unexpectedly come across things that speak to me of a particular friend...I can rarely resist the impulse to give it to them. (I don't mean expensive or extravagant items obviously, and certainly not obligatory purchases...just those happy occasions when some small gift feels absolutely right.)
Well, I was browsing at the Art Gallery gift shop today and spotted this:
The Mi'kmaq Anthology
Edithors Rita Joe and Lesley Choyce
My friend, Karl, has told me that he feels drawn to native spirituality, and the way First Nations people connect with our earth and that which I would call the Spirit (I am not sure what name they use). Neither he nor, to my knowledge, his partner is of First Nations ancestry, but for various reasons, this culture resonates with Karl. He was raised Catholic, but is no longer "R"eligious; he follows his own spiritual path, which includes such practices as 'healing touch' and meditation. He is often surprised by my comments when we talk about worship experiences...he is unused to a church that is open to following one's own faith journey, questions and all, so thinks my St. John's United sounds very cool. Anyway, when I saw this book in the gift shop, it called out his name to me and I immediately wanted to get it for him, so I did.
He seemed quite touched by my gift, and gave me a big hug, after which we had a great conversation about the joy of having friends in the workplace. Of course there are always many acqaintances with whom one is friendly, but we both have found that it is quite rare to connect on the deeper level of real "friendship". I am blessed to have made such a connection with three wonderful people in my office: Tricia, Jane and Karl.
The bird a nest
the spider a web
the human friendship.
~ William Blake
As you may recall from this entry, my friend Tricia and I decided to check out each other's worship experience. So yesterday, Tricia came to my beloved St. John's United.
Her husband dropped her off at SJ shortly before the service started, so I had a chance to introduce her to Rev. Valerie, and to several of the congregation (who, in the summer, are mostly made up of 'savvy old ladies', which phrase I read somewhere recently and it cracked me up...there is so much truth in that term, the older church women just know things...lots of things.) I felt a shade guilty for abandoning choir, but I wanted to sit with Tricia. Not that my voice is anything special, mind you, but there were only three other choir members this week (normally we are ten - fifteen, but numbers plummet in the summer) so a fourth member would likely have been appreciated! But I, and the rest of the congregation, sang along to most pieces anyway, so in the end it didn't really matter if I sat with them or not.
We had a wonderful hymn sing this day - on summer Sundays, we always have a few minutes at the beginning of the service where we call out favourite hymns and sing them. Lots of great selections this week: Lord of Sea and Sky (my sister's favourite), In the Bulb there is a Flower (one of my late Grammy's favourites), Jesus You have come to the Lakeshore (one of my favourites), Lord of the Dance (one of everyone's favourites!), and more. I was glad of this, because I know one thing Tricia misses about the United Church is the music...actually it was she who called out Lord of Sea and Sky.
Miss Ninja amongst the treasures of the Glass Museum on Murano...
From Chapter I of Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll:
'Now, if you'll only attend, Kitty, and not talk so much, I'll tell you all my ideas about Looking-glass House. First, there's the room you can see through the glass—that's just the same as our drawing room, only the things go the other way. I can see all of it when I get upon a chair—all but the bit behind the fireplace. Oh! I do so wish I could see THAT bit! I want so much to know whether they've a fire in the winter: you never CAN tell, you know, unless our fire smokes, and then smoke comes up in that room too—but that may be only pretence, just to make it look as if they had a fire. Well then, the books are something like our books, only the words go the wrong way; I know that, because I've held up one of our books to the glass, and then they hold up one in the other room.
'How would you like to live in Looking-glass House, Kitty? I wonder if they'd give you milk in there? Perhaps Looking-glass milk isn't good to drink—But oh, Kitty! now we come to the passage. You can just see a little PEEP of the passage in Looking-glass House, if you leave the door of our drawing-room wide open: and it's very like our passage as far as you can see, only you know it may be quite different on beyond. Oh, Kitty! how nice it would be if we could only get through into Looking-glass House! I'm sure it's got, oh! such beautiful things in it! Let's pretend there's a way of getting through into it, somehow, Kitty. Let's pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so that we can get through. Why, it's turning into a sort of mist now, I declare! It'll be easy enough to get through—' She was up on the chimney-piece while she said this, though she hardly knew how she had got there. And certainly the glass WAS beginning to melt away, just like a bright silvery mist.
~ by Suzy Bogguss
She'll take the painting in the hallway,
The one she did in jr. high
And that old lamp up in the attic,
She'll need some light to study by.
She's had 18 years to get ready for this day
She should be past the tears, she cries some anyway
Oh oh letting go
There's nothing in the way now,
Oh letting go, there's room enough to fly
And even though, she's spent her whole life waiting,
It's never easy letting go.
Mother sits down at the table
So many things she'd like to do
Spend more time out in the garden
Now she can get those books read too.
She's had 18 years to get ready for this day
She should be past the tears, she cries some anyway.
Oh oh letting go
There's nothing in the way now,
Oh letting go, there's room enough to fly
And even though, she's spent her whole life waiting,
It's never easy letting go.
Oh oh letting go
There's nothing in the way now,
Oh letting go, there's room enough to fly
And even though, she's spent her whole life waiting,
It's never easy letting go.
As I wrote yesterday, Sara has now moved into residence. She doesn't actually have a room of her own though, but that is by choice - she decided she wanted a double room for social reasons. I think it was a wise choice.
Here are some photos...
The residence building (isn't it gorgeous!):
The foyer (marble stairs and all):
Hello, my name is Anne and I'm a Mamma Mia-oholic...
I ask myself (in incredulous tones) how on earth is it possible that I have gone to see this movie eight times??!! And have thoroughly enjoyed it eight times??!!! I was never an ABBA fan, so I remain a tad mystified as to why I adore this musical so much, but adore it I do ("say I do...I do, I do, I do, I do...")
My record so far:
1. Premiere night - I went with Sara, Miss Ninja and Tricia. Right off the bat, I was hooked...I didn't yet know many of the lyrics, but that would soon change after I bought the soundtrack.
2. I was visiting with my mom after church that same weekend and she mentioned that she wanted to see the movie. Oh I could watch it again, I said, let's go right now!...so we did. Miss Ninja came with us, but Sara went to the Dark Knight instead.
3. Tricia, Sara and I had another viewing shortly thereafter. It was on this occasion that Tricia and I got up and danced in the theatre...much to Sara's dismay, although she later told me it wasn't so much the dancing as the clapping that made her move a couple seats away from us. (And, as I wrote before, Miss Ninja hung her head in shame when I told her about our dancing in public.) Tricia and I talked about what fun a church fundraiser this would be - a Mamma Mia night! I agreed saying ooo, I want to be Donna!
4. My sister, Lynn, mentioned that she and my niece were going to see this delightful romp of music and foolishness...duh, obviously I had to join them. (This time, both Sara and Miss Ninja opted for the Dark Knight instead though...imagine!) Lynn, my niece, her friend and I sang our hearts out and had a grand ole time though.
5. Valerie emailed to see if I wanted to go with her. Oh sure, I said, I'd love to see it again ('cause, you know, four times wasn't enough...)
6. Lynn and I decided to take the girls again...this time they were the ones up dancing. (They'd chosen to sit a couple rows away from us - apparently it is ok to do these goofy things as long as you're not with your mother...)
7. Tricia mentioned that she and two friends were going...so the girls and I joined them, because as Tricia said, the more, the merrier. Tricia had brought boas, and she and her friends and I danced around with those. The movie really is so much better as an interactive experience! During Dancing Queen, we even sachayed down through the theatre, singing and waving the boas just like the cast in the movie - there were a lot of women who very clearly wanted to join us but were too embarrassed. It was a hoot! We even got a round of applause. Miss Ninja was not amused...
8. We were hanging out at Valerie's house after church yesterday and Valerie mentioned that one of her daughters had not yet seen Mamma Mia. Gasp!!! This must be remedied at once...so off we go again. During the first song, this daughter (a teenager) leaned over and asked "are you two going to be singing through the whole movie?" Um yeah...we'll be singing along to every song. "But we're in a theatre, that's so embarrassing!" she moaned. Too bad, so sad, I'm singing anyway! Afterward, Valerie said how fun it would be if we did a Mamma Mia dinner theatre or something for the church. Hey, what a coincidence, I said, Tricia and I had the same idea. I would be SO up for such a fundraiser, that would be a blast. Valerie's daughter was rather alarmed at the prospect of such a spectacle, though, and said to her "mum, if you play one of the old ladies, no WAY am I coming to watch." Oh the things our children have to put up with...it's good for them, builds character ;)
9. Stay tuned, at the rate I'm going, I just might go see it again! (But maybe I'd better wait for the DVD to come out...especially since I've run out of 2 for 1 coupons for the theatre...)
Alas, it seems I am becoming a constant source of embarrassment to Miss Ninja. And for a change, Mamma Mia was not involved this time!
There was an Ecumenical community service (all faiths) this afternoon. This service is an annual event usually held in conjunction with Waverley Gold Rush Days (the annual celebration of the village's bygone days of gold.) This year, the music was provided by the Bedford United Church youth group's band ReGenesis. They played at my church once, and I so enjoyed their performance that I bought their CD (they weren't selling for profit, they were raising funds to attend a big choir gathering in Toronto.) I listened to this CD a lot over the past year (hearing those young voices raised in joyful song really lifted my spirits when it was low.) So I was definitely looking forward to seeing them again.
So, there we are at the Legion...the music starts...the leader of the youth group tells everyone to get up on their feet, and quite a few people did, including us. I have a notion Valerie and I were among the more enthusiastic in the crowd though...we were dancing, doing the actions along with the songs, and singing loudly all the words we knew. Sitting just beside us, Valerie's daughter whispers to my daughter, in embarrassed tones, "oh man, look at our mothers"...my gal slouches in her chair and answers "I know, I don't even want to know them"...
Of course if the girls were just there by themselves, they would have been front and centre with enthusiasm...but when their mothers are around, apparently they are too cool for such antics. Funny, funny girls. I love them both dearly!
...A Brief Glimpse Into the Crazed Mind of My Inner Five Year Old...
What a crazy roller coaster ride of angst I was on this weekend...and it all started with an innocuous comment about Facebook...
I was reading Valerie's weekly congregational newsletter the other day and she talked about connections, and how a girl she'd gone to school with had found her on Facebook, and - wait, WHAT?! I did a mental double take - Valerie is on Facebook?? I thought: "who are you and what have you done with the person who told me she doesn't like written conversation, who rarely answers social emails, let alone can possibly have any interest in a Facebook account??"
I emailed her right off and told her my inner five year old was sulking in the corner thinking "hmph, apparently I'm not good enough to be your Facebook friend". (I also said it's ok to laugh at that, I was.) Because I thought my crankiness was simply due to being tired from an overnight staff retreat (where we ran amok till the wee hours), and I was fully expecting to find myself in a better frame of mind the next morning.
Alas, the next morning did not find me in a better frame of mind. Funny how the stupidest little things can sow seeds of discontent. My inner child was still pouting and feeling left out.
The following is from Valerie's weekly "Thursday Thoughts" email to our congregation. Her thoughts this week really resonated with me. I found them very beautiful and inspiring...a good reminder to let God's light shine into me even when (or maybe I should say especially when) I am feeling tired from jetlag, cranky from missing people, cold in body and mind from the change in climate from Italy to home. A reminder to appreciate and celebrate what I have, instead of whining about what I don't have...
"This sun is shining and the leaves are brilliant, at least for another few days. It is a day that speaks of warmth of spirit and of new life taking root that will wait and be nurtured until the life giving waters of spring. These are my thoughts for today:
I woke up this morning
Confronted by the normal sounds
Of house and home.
Alarm clock ringing; children clamouring;
Breakfast cooking; coffee perking.
In the car and on the road
Confronted by God’s creation
Blue… the sky above
Red, rust, gold and green…
The carpet beneath.
A day made to soothe the soul
And calm the stormy seas.
The beauty wrapped me in a blanket
Of security and serenity
I knew for one brief moment
May the sun of God’s creation shine in through your windows and into the windows of your souls touching the inner most parts of your being with light and hope and love."
After reading this, I was certainly feeling the love, the light, the hope. And feeling great joy and thankfulness for the love of my family and my friends, for being filled with the Spirit, for the wonders of this glorious world of ours (including the wonders of my own gorgeous Nova Scotia, as well as those of la bella Italia!)
Hopefully her words will lift your spirits also.
Greetings to all my blog friends! I've been so out of the online loop since I got back from Italy. Hope all is well with all of you. My fingers are crossed for an Obama victory tomorrow for those of you to the south!
There is not a lot new going on with me lately...I've been spending much time holding friends and family in my heart. The days since my return have been touched by sadness, but also moments of joy.
My uncle (by marriage-subsequent divorce) just passed away, so my first cousins have lost their father. The service last week was a celebration of his life though, rather than a sad funeral, which was a better way to say good-bye...although of course there were still lots of tears along with the laughter. He'd had a lucid moment in the hospital just prior to his death, and was able to say some words that brought great peace to his youngest daughter, with whom I have always felt close even though we see each other rarely...she said it was the best gift he could have given her.
I want to ask everyone to keep my friend Tricia in your hearts and prayers. Tricia recently lost her beautiful young niece in a tragic accident, and was in much pain last week when she left to travel home to be with her family. I was able to give her a prayer shawl from the prayer shawl ministry at my church (and even more special, it was one that I had knit myself) and know she felt comforted in its embrace.
Sara sent me these two sketches that she recently drew. One is of herself and the other is of her boyfriend. As always, I am in awe of her talent...
Each of us has a hidden place
Somewhere deep within ourselves;
A place where we go to get away,
To think things through,
To be alone, to be ourselves.
This unique place, where we confront our deepest feelings,
Becomes a storehouse of all our hopes,
All our needs, all our dreams,
And even our unspoken fears.
It encompasses the essence of who we are and what we want to be.
But now and then, whether by chance or design,
Someone discovers a way into that place we thought was ours alone.
And we allow that person to see, to feel and to share
All the reason, all the uncertainty
And all the emotion we've stored up there.
That person adds new perspective to our hidden realm,
Then quietly settles down in his own corner of our special place,
Where a bit of himself will stay forever.
And we call that person a friend.
~ by Carol Elaine Faivre-Scott ~
Oh my, the fun that can be had with a webcam!! Here are a few shots of the girls and I goofing around. A couple from when we first got the computer (which I may possibly have already posted but if so, too bad...you'll just have to look at them again!)
When I was last in Italy, I was poking around in a little monastery shop and came across some handmade (by the monks) olive wood pendants on knotted cords (amid a plethora of packets and bottles of natural remedies for various ailments!) One of these pendants was larger than the rest and in the shape of a tau cross. I immediately thought of my friend Valerie's husband, Mark, who is an Anglican priest and whose church is St. Francis by the Lakes. The connection being that the tau cross is the symbol of St. Francis. Even the Franciscan habit forms the shape of the Tau cross when outstretched. Francis' own tunic is on display in the crypt below the Basilica in Assisi, and is very patched up and worn looking, as I suppose is to be expected of the habit of one who has taken a vow of poverty. (Also on display is the original Franciscan Rule of 1223 approved by Pope Honorius III, which marked the founding of the Franciscan order, and the Blessing to Brother Leo* written in St. Francis' own hand. I really found it cool to see these documents up close and in person.)
* the Blessing to Brother Leo is the very familiar:
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May He show His face to you
and be merciful to you.
May He turn His countenance to you
and give you peace.
Anyway...I bought the larger pendant for Mark, along with a smaller tau cross, a dove, and four fish...I just love these simple items and would have bought more but that was all they had in the shop. I gave them all away except kept a fish for myself.
I noticed Mark wearing his tau cross the other evening when I was picking M up from their house, and suddenly remembered that I had taken a photo of the tau cross on the lawn in front of St. Francis Basilica when I was in Assisi.
The Basilica itself:
Tau cross and word PAX (peace) "written" on the lawn in shrubbery:
This is for my dear friend Valerie, who is attending the funeral of her friend this afternoon. I know that God is with her, and that she possesses her own amazing inner strength, but I still want to offer my prayers of support. I was at her house when she received the news of her friend's death. In a heartbeat, she moved from grieving friend to caregiving Minister in order to go break the news to his mother (who is a member of our congregation)...the depth of her caring for others amazes me.
I hold her in my heart as I read from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet...
I hope everyone had as wonderful a time on New Year's Eve as I did! As I wrote yesterday, we went to my friend Valerie's house for the evening.
There were eight of us at the "grown ups party": Valerie and Mark, Dave and I, Janice and Colin (who I already know from church), and Meggin and her daughter Marla (I had met Meg at Valerie's house once a few months ago, but first time to meet Marla, although she was sick and so crashed really early in the evening.) And roughly the same number of teens, who amused themselves mostly by playing Rockband in the basement (whence they were banished, not having been invited to the play with the adults!) And one two year old (Marla's daughter/Meg's granddaughter), who amused everyone and was ever so snuggly once she got used to a person!
We mostly just enjoyed a lot of conversation and stories, over a few drinks and snacks. But also played Cranium, which I had never played before. It is really quite a riot, although I think is a game that I will enjoy more on second and subsequent playings because I was a little tense from having no idea what to expect. It's a little daunting, as a relative newcomer to this particular group of friends, to be thrown into such a wildly varying mess o' stuff from word puzzles, to trivia questions, to charades and talking like famous people, to drawing or making clay models! But now that I have played it once and know what it's all about, I will be able to get into it with more abandon next time. But it really is a rowdy party game, so I highly recommend it! Even though we lost...battle of the sexes, the men won...a pox on their smug selves! :)
Of course we did the midnight countdown - turned on the local channel to watch the big countdown that takes place in Halifax every year...and marvelled that the band was actually playing while the blizzard raged, now that's dedication...or stupidity, we weren't sure which! Man, the keyboard player's fingers must have been soooo cold, and surely his keyboard was ruined from all that snow driving into it! Anyway, I had brought a bottle of Spanish Cava, so we toasted in the New Year with a glass of bubbly. We were all tucked into bed by one o'clock, though! Oh what a wild bunch we are! In my own defence, I am still struggling with my second of back to back nasty colds, plus a double dose of severe conjunctivitis (aka pink eye), so my eyes looked like "two pissholes in the sand", as Valerie so delicately phrased it! :)
And oh yes indeed, that storm did hit and hit hard so we spent the night after all (which I was secretly hoping to do all along, just hadn't wanted to put Valerie out if was a pain for us to stay...but it turned out that she was as happy for us to stay as I was, so it was good all the way around!)
Here is Valerie and me, all warm and cosy on the sofa this morning (while Dave and Mark were out in the driveway shovelling snow in still blizzard conditions):
(And so that I am not taking credit for photos not my own...I have to confess the photo was taken with Valerie's camera - I "stole" it from her Facebook album to post on my blog! I choose not to post the one in which my eyes do, in fact, look just as she described them...)
"This is for you, but it's NOT a Christmas present." Said Valerie when I was visiting with her yesterday, hanging out and talking while she packed away her Christmas stuff. She added that she had picked it up a while ago but waited until now because she doesn't do friend Christmas presents and doesn't want to get into that Christmas exchange thing..."it's just a Saturday present".
Ok, I don't actually have a friend Tammy, but my friend Andrea does...
Here we are at White Point last September (me and Andrea, that is...not Tammy!):
One morning not too long ago, a few of us were going down for coffee. I think we were talking about food - a frequent topic in our office - and Andrea started to tell us about some delicious concoction her friend Tammy makes. "My friend Tammy..." she said, stopped then added "ok, every second sentence out of my mouth starts with 'my friend Tammy', you'd think I idolized her or something...well, actually I kind of do! She's so amazing, I think I want to be her!" I laughed and replied hey, I'm the same way with "my friend Valerie", except I definitely don't want to be her, she's got too many funerals in her life." (Which has been so true this past month, that isn't even funny anymore.) Catherine joined in the conversation, saying sadly, "aw, I don't have a friend like that..." then she brightened up and added "oh wait, I must be that friend!"
Ever since then, Andrea and I have had a running joke about "my friend Tammy" and "my friend Valerie". Today I was going to get a drink of water, and Andrea was in the hall talking to another coworker, and I hear "my friend Tammy...blah, blah, blah." Of course I burst out laughing. But quickly admitted that I'm not one to talk, seeing how I even have a photo of me and "my friend Valerie" in my office. Andrea glanced at my cabinet and said, "yeah at least I don't have a shrine to my friend Tammy". Hey now, I protested, it's not a shrine, it's a celebration of mutual friendship...the frame was a gift from, not a tribute to, Valerie, after all. Andrea fake pouted, "Oh...I don't have one of those from Tammy, I'll have to make something and pretend it's from her." (Come to think of it the middle photo on my cabinet is a friendship poem and for the background, I was wanting a "footprints in the sand" kind of feel, and happened to use a photo of Andrea and I walking on the beach at White Point. I'll have to tell Andrea she has a place in my friendship "shrine"! lol
I think I'm secretly a little envious of Andrea though, since "her friend Tammy" lives just a couple houses away from her so they get to hang out together all the time (aside from the times when one or the other wants some alone time, which makes perfect sense to my introverted self.) Whereas, Valerie and I live in different communities (although only about a 20 minute drive apart), plus she's pretty much on call 24/7, so we rarely have a chance to hang out together at all, let alone on any regular basis. Which is why, as I said to Andrea, I am so looking forward to staying with Valerie for a couple weeks in Newfoundland this summer, and spending all that wonderful friendship time together. ♥
It's really fun sharing friendship stories with Andrea...and how awesome that we both feel like we have the most amazing friend ever! (But really "my friend Valerie" is the most amazing...shhh, don't tell Andrea!) lol :)
"Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs." (Mark 10:14, NRSV)
The big kids' corner during children's time...
(Guess who is the biggest kid of all?**)
**The answer to that question is of course my friend (Reverend) Valerie...which anyone who's ever read my blog probably already knew since I am always writing about how wonderful she is and how much joy our friendship brings me. And about how uplifting her ministry is, because she truly is an awesome minister (and I'm not just saying that because she's my friend!)
Of course, I only write the good stuff about Valerie...I would never share the bad bits, such as when she...
...told me to get the hell out of her office (Being told to get the hell out of church by the Minister...how many people have that claim to fame, I wonder?!)
...treated me like an outcast over the holidays - an outcast, I tell ya!!
...said that I have a freakishly bizarre shaped head (I'm traumatized for life...I may never let anyone massage my migraine-ish head again...)
...insulted my humming abilities during Cranium. I said I wouldn't be able to hum very well because of my cold, and she replied "it's not like that will make a difference"...humph.
...somehow managed to get my husband to buy her flowers, 'cause yes, the last time my husband bought flowers, they were for her and not me. (I'm thinking hey, just what's going on around here anyway?? I haven't gotten flowers in years, decades even. This is just not right.)
...cancelled our date (again.) This happens with such frequency (twice last week alone!), I'm starting to think she's just pretending to be my friend, you know, in hopes that my husband will buy her more flowers or something...
I got the following email yesterday...
"This came across my desk today and I thought of you. Wanted to send it along."
Are you tired of those sissy 'friendship' poems that always sound good, but never actually come close to reality?
Well, here is a series of promises that actually speak of true friendship.
You will see no cutesy little smiley faces on this card.
Just the stone cold truth of great friendships.
1. When you are sad - I will jump on the person who made you sad like a spider monkey jacked up on Mountain Dew!
2. When you are blue - I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.
3. When you smile - I will know you are plotting something that I must be involved in.
4. When you're scared - we will high tail it out of here.
5. When you are worried - I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining, ya big baby!
6. When you are confused - I will use little words.
7. When you are sick - Stay away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.
8. When you fall - I'll pick you up, dust you off, and try not to laugh until I make sure you are ok!
This is my oath... I pledge it to the end.
'Why?' you may ask - because you are my FRIEND!
Friendship is like peeing your pants,
Everyone can see it,
But only you can feel the true warmth.
Made me laugh! It is very silly, but also very true (I mean just look at #7 - replace "Stay away from me" with "Get the hell out of my office" and voilà, a sign of true friendship!)
This email also made me think "uh oh, Valerie never forwards emails like this, what is she softening me up for?!" I awaited a phone call along the lines of "sorry, but...something's come up and I can't make it tomorrow". But it seems the universe is smiling on us this time, as no call came, woohoo!!! Miraculously enough, we both have the day completely off, not a commitment in sight, so are planning to meet a couple other women for lunch, then heading off on our own to do something else...such as a mini roadtrip to the locally famous Margolians in Truro. She's meeting me here at my house in a couple hours, the sun is shining brightly (although it's gotten way cold again) and I am looking forward to a most wonderful day of friendship and fun and delicious fish & chips! (We are eating at the Legion, which apparently has "legendary fish & chips"...I'll let you know if they live up to their reputation.)
I heard this fun and upbeat song about a woman named Maria today while driving down to my grandmother's with my sister (who can plug her iPod into her car, so doesn't have to lug CDs around...I am a little envious!) While singing away in the car, I thought of the friend with whom I shared a couple wonderful days in Venice last October. So am posting this for "my" Maria!
"My Maria", by Brooks and Dunn:
I made a couple of completely frivolous purchases recently...because sometimes it's just fun to banish those responsible "no, I shouldn't" thoughts and give in to childish delight! :)
I bought this little butterfly rug in Truro on Friday. Valerie and I were wandering around Walmart (having seen all there was to see in Margolians), and I spied this bright little rug down one of the aisles. I rushed over and snatched it up, exclaiming "ahhhh, that is SO cute, I love it!! I want it!)
I also bought a cute plush toy called a "caterspeller", which a caterpillar with upper case alphabet down one side, and lower case down the other. Someone at work does the wholesale distribution things, and it only cost $7 (or thereabouts). It's about six feet long, and is so colourful and fun, I think it looks neat on the back of my sofa!
Just back from dinner and a movie to celebrate Sara's 19th birthday. Still cannot believe I am the mother of 19 year old! Eek, where did the years go?! What a wonderful young woman she is becoming, I am so proud of her. ♥
We went to see the movie Taken and all enjoyed it. It was a fairly typical action thriller, but it starred Liam Neeson and that was enough for me. And no disappointment there, he was as awesome as always!
Here we are at the theatre:
This next one is looking up at the mirror on the underside of the escalator, I was down there beside them, just slightly out of the frame (I thought it was a neat angle!)
My two gorgeous gals, the birthday girl and the almost-birthday girl (M's is next week):
Woohoo!!! My inner child is very excited because my friend gets home today! Can't wait to see her this evening! ♥ Hey, I'm having friend withdrawal over here, can you tell?! Nevermind that I saw her the evening before she left, ten days is a long time in the life of an inner child! lol (Just so you know what the heck I'm going on about - my best friend was just away on study leave...imagine, the nerve of that woman to go away for ten whole days!!!)
So strange not to at least see her in church this week. Even when things are busy and we don't get to hang out regularly, we usually manage a quick hug and greeting on Sunday mornings. Speaking of Sunday, I had the scripture reading thrown at me literally at the last minute. M was supposed to read it, but wasn't feeling well and was worried she'd break into a coughing fit in the middle of reading. So a few minutes beforehand, she popped up to the choir loft, handed me her bible and asked if I would read it instead. Good thing the children's story dragged on this week, gave me time to find the passage and read it through to myself before reading out loud. Actually, reading out loud isn't something that stresses me in the slightest, but it's nice to at least have a quick advance peek at the content to make sure there are no unpronounceable names, etc. (I'd be waaaaay uncomfortable, not to mention tongue-tied, talking to a crowd off the top of my head, but reading from a book - no problemo!)
And that's about all I have to say for today...so will add some photos for your viewing pleasure. They are completely unrelated to the above content, but whatever...just enjoy them, ok!??! I just liked the winter light, and the shadows on the snow. The first two would be what the cats were looking at out the window in "yesterday's" entry...the others are out back of my house.
Am posting this over lunch at work...and realizing that I have no recent photos on file here that I can share. I will get some up to date ones posted another day, but for now will share some images of my gorgeous girl from our July 2007 trip to Florence, Venice and England...
Here is my sweetie-pie in front of the beautiful cathedral in Pisa (sometimes overlooked in favour of its more famous bell tower, which is very fun to climb, I must admit!)
M'lady, your Florentine carriage awaits...
Yesterday I posted a few older photos of M. Here is a more up to date look at her (I took the first three this evening when we got home from choir practice/visiting my sister Lynn and niece. Lynn made M a lovely fish chowder for her birthday supper, and she and the girls made cupcakes while I went off to choir practice. A lovely way for M to spend her birthday evening!!
This next one is M's favourite photo of the lot:
And one more, taken Sunday outside the theatre. Lynn and I took our gang of girls to see Inkheart, while Mom went to Slumdog Millionaire. Here are M and K, bfflaebl (which, I'm told by K, stands for "best friend for ever and ever beyond life". Cute.)
Well, "Happy Birthday to my bfflaebl*" is what I would say if I was thirteen. But of course as you all know, I am way too mature to say anything like that now, so will just say:
♥ Happy Birthday, dear Valerie!! ♥
* Yes, I had to ask a thirteen year old what bfflaebl stands for because their chat language is beyond my comprehension! It is: best friend forever and ever beyond life
Those who have been reading my blog over the past year first met my wonderful friend Valerie on her birthday last year, learned a bit more about our connection here, found out more than you ever wanted to know about our friendship here, joined us on a couple of our journeys, such as this day, and most recently discovered just what I have to put up with from this woman here. ;) I am delighted that we have found such kindred spirits in one another, and my heart overflows as our friendship grows stronger and more comfortable every day.
Here is my beautiful friend and her husband Mark (of whom I am also very fond):
And here is Valerie in her undergrad years:
I snapped a picture of this photo in her house one day when she wasn't home...shhh, don't tell her! ;)
45 years ago, in the town of Wolfville, a perfectly adorable and well behaved baby girl was born. ♥ :) I can't find any baby pictures, but have a couple from age 3 or 4 to share...
Here I am on the swing, with my sister, Lynn, giving me a push:
Me on my pedal train. Man, I loved that thing! (Almost as much as mom's oh-so-soft furry hat, seen here on my head.)
Fast forward a bunch of years...
This is a story with a happy ending...
I went for my regular screening mammogram on February 19. In and out quickly, no problem. A week or so later, I had a call from my doctor that they had found a nodule and I needed to go for a magnification mammogram and ultrasound. I was only mildly apprehensive, after all the same thing happened last year and all was fine. Mostly I just thought it was a nuisance.
So on March 6, off I went to the mammography department yet again. They did the mammogram first and sent me out to the waiting room while the technician reviewed the photos. Then brought me back in, saying that if they could show that it was nothing with the second mammogram, I wouldn't need the ultrasound. So when they finally sent me on my way without the ultrasound, I thought great, it must have been nothing.
Wednesday March 11...my doctor called and said they wanted to do a biopsy. Silence on my end. Those are not words a woman wants to hear. She reassured me that it was low degree of suspicion, and would likely be a benign result. "Do not stress about this, ok?" She insisted, and asked if I had any questions...I was too stunned to think and said no. I went downstairs and told Dave...he was as freaked out as I was. We just held each other in shock for a while, absorbing the word "biopsy" and trying not to think about what that could mean.
But no matter that my brain heard the words "low degree of suspicion", my mind still drifted into thoughts of cancer. I thought of Kim and what she has shared about her journey through breast cancer...no way could I get through such an ordeal with that much strength, humour and grace. I tried to concentrate on my doctor's words that it would likely be benign, but so hard to keep your mind from wandering into the shadows! I was grateful for my prayer shawl and wrapped myself in its comforting embrace.
I don't know how many times I read these words this past month. Every time I put down a glass or a mug, I found myself reading the words on that coaster. And praying for the strength to get through this time of waiting, wondering, worrying without driving myself and everyone around me nuts with my impatience!
Or...how much time can two grown women spend making smiley faces?
Valerie's comment ("tapping into the inner child is amazing and was such a joy after a long day of meetings") on my last entry reminded me that I had copied one of our recent facebook chats into a blog entry but forgot to publish it...so here it is now. In all honesty, our childishness probably falls into the "you had to be there" category, but hey it's my blog, and I was there! ;)
I highly recommend silly conversations...they are just one of the infinite ways to create bubbles of joy in your heart ♥ And one can never have too many bubbles...unless of course you're supposed to be giving up carbonated beverages for health reasons...you know who you are :)
Joining our chat in progress - because facebook only holds so much history - I had just told her about Dave (affectionately) calling me a 5 year old for making cool popping noises with my lips...
[As an example of her husband Mark's oddball humour, his current facebook status is "for a second there, I thought I had stigmata, turns out it was just a hole in my sock." Naturally I told him he is a lunatic!]
Everything Has Its Time
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
I hope everyone had a marvellous weekend - I certainly did! Today is Victoria Day in Canada, a statutory holiday, and I also had Friday off so got to enjoy a much appreciated four day weekend - woohoo!
I hadn't made any plans for my day off yet, when I found out there were to be two funeral services at my church that day. So I went along and sang with choir for both. The second funeral was very hard, it was for a man my age who'd died suddenly in a tragic motorcycle accident. My own eyes filled a couple times watching the raw grief on his family's faces (the choir loft faces the congregation and of course, the family was in the front pews so were right in front of us). As always though, I was honoured to offer my voice and share in the choir's gift of music for this funeral. The morning funeral, however, was...well, fun! It was for an older man who'd lived several years beyond what the doctor's had given him (cancer) and the service truly was a celebration of his life. The singing was exuberant and the stories were joyful. His nephew did the story telling and he literally had everyone in stitches, including the man's widow. Valerie's reflections were also amusing and her prayers uplifting. It felt like everyone left with a light heart. In between the two funerals, I went up to my Mom's for lunch and had a wonderful visit with her.
Valerie and I took the girls shopping and then to a movie in the afternoon. M & K decided they wanted to see Ghosts of Girlfriends Past but Valerie and I were on a mission to see Star Trek!! ♥ And Star Trek did not disappoint. In Valerie's words, this latest movie "did the name Star Trek proud"! The casting was brilliant. Especially Chris Pine aka James Tiberius Kirk. I was skeptical at first, but his Kirk portrayal won me over! It was interesting to watch him grow into the character as the movie progressed, and acquiring the familiar Kirk mannerisms by the end. Karl Urban had Dr. McCoy nailed from start to finish. Really all the actors were fantastic and very successfully evoked the original characters. The movie was very well done, Valerie and I both thoroughly enjoyed it. No doubt the DVD will be out in time for Christmas (hint hint to my family...)
Today is filled with deliciously hot sunshiny goodness...and for this, I am truly thankful!! :) I went for a wonderful walk with Lynn at lunchtime, face upturned to the cloudless blue sky, body soaking in the sun's marvellous heat.
There has been far too long a stretch of yucky weather around here. But while revelling in the sun's return, the thought came to me that even when the skies overhead are grey and dripping with fog and drizzle, I am blessed to be surrounded by the sunshine of smiling faces. Such as all the smiling faces around me on Sunday, in spite of the crappy weather:
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine...♥ I used to sing that song over and over to my daughters when they were young...I must resurrect that tradition - because they really are my sunshine! (But - sorry darlings - not my only sunshine!) The lyrics aren't actually all that sunny, except for the chorus, but I still like it. Reminds me of these adorable little faces:
Read on for the lyrics and a video of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan singing this song...
~ carpe diem ~
The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.
~Ruth Ann Schabacker
All the windows of my heart I open to the day.
~John Greenleaf Whittier
Whether it's pausing in the quiet centre...
Or embracing a moment with laughter and love...
How wonderful and uplifting to savour our time on this earth, to live with joy and an open heart. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go seize the day! ♥
A song for my wonderful Dave...without whom I would be lost ♥
I really will share some stories about conference very soon, I promise! :) In the meantime...here are some images. (I have more photos, but am not posting the ones in which other youth or facilitators could be identified, for privacy reasons.)
The annual meeting itself took place at the Tantramar Civic Centre in Sackville, NB. Intermediates at Conference gathered at nearby Mount Allison University, joining the larger group only to make a brief presentation on Saturday evening and then for closing worship Sunday.
As a facilitator, I had to be there on Wednesday noon, Valerie and the girls didn't need to be there until Thursday but we decided to drive up together, because that was more fun than driving up separately! I drove from my house to Sackville, then turned the car over to Valerie since she needed wheels more than I did...also she knew where I needed to be and I didn't!
I was having a bad hair day today. But was going to sing at a funeral this afternoon, so I pulled my hair back tight, stuck it all up in a hairclip and off I went. I arrived at the church, saw that Valerie had people in her office, so didn't think anything of it when she didn't say hello. Into the chapel I went, where we do our warming up and practicing. There was another woman already there, from one of the other churches in the area, Anglican, I think (the funeral choir is ecumenical). I introduced myself, saying that we've sung together in the past but I didn't think we'd ever actually met. She said her name, then said she didn't think she'd ever seen me before ("oh dear that probably sounds insulting" she added!) I just laughed and thought to myself wow, obviously she doesn't have a very good memory for faces. Because we've sung together at funeral services at least half a dozen times over the past year! More folks trickled in, and then we started practicing the hymns. At this point, Valerie came into the chapel, glanced around and then joined the singing. I thought it was a tad odd that she hadn't at least smiled at me in greeting by this point, but figured she just had a lot on her mind (like presiding over the impending funeral service!) A few seconds later, she sat down in the empty chair beside me, leaned over and whispered "I've never seen you with your hair up - I didn't recognize you" Too funny. I didn't think I looked so different that my own best friend wouldn't recognize me!! Mind you, she also commented a couple times how pretty I looked with my hair up, like a ballerina, so I forgive her...lol ;)
M, on the other hand, had a phenomenally good hair day. She asked me the other day if she could get her hair cut. Sure can, I replied, it's your hair. I made an appointment and took her to the salon this morning. While there, she got talking to the stylist that she'd really like to have her hair dyed black and blue...the stylist said nah, the blue would only last a few days, a red would be better. Eventually the stylist said to me that if it was ok with me, she would colour M's hair - she thought it would look so cool that she was willing to get behind in her schedule to fit it in. Ohhhhhhhh...alright, I agreed. I couldn't see what was going on with the cut or the colouring. There was a rack of hair care products in the way, and besides I was reading my book. So when M was finished and came around the corner...WHOA baby, I barely recognized her!! She went from medium length blonde, to short purple with pink highlights. It's longer in the front, shorter and layered closer to the head in the back. It looks quite stunning on her, I have to say. She was going to a party this evening, a surprise going away party for the Korean exchange student who attended her school this year. I pulled in the driveway to drop her off, and barely stopped the car before she jumped out, and a gaggle of teenaged girls swarmed out of the house to greet her, exclaiming "ooo, I LOVE your hair!!"
M's old hair:
M's new hair:
Valerie's daughter K turned 14 today. The original birthday party plans were to take K, M and a couple other girls down to Valerie's camper Friday night. Plus M and I were going to stay over at Valerie's house Thursday night. Alas the weather forecast was looking pretty dismal, so the camping idea was abandoned in favour of movie and sleepover at Valerie's house. Things got a little confusing for me at one point - M got off the phone with K on Wednesday evening and said to me: "you can drop me off anytime Friday morning." Friday morning? drop her off? I thought, what is that about?? I called Valerie to sort things out, but she wasn't home, so I sent an email and waited to hear if something had come up to derail our plans (would hardly be the first time!) This time though, it turned out to be just a case of crossed wires...no change of plans, the girls had forgotten we were staying Thursday night too.
I zipped home after work Thursday, had a bite of supper, packed an overnight bag, gathered up M and headed out. As we pulled up to Valerie's, her car was just heading up the road. Ok, now what?? Into the house I went to await her return. I commented to Mark that as usual, his wife had invited me over and then left. :) Mark's best friend Kees (also an Anglican priest) dropped in and joked "where's Val, did someone die or something?" "Yes", replied Mark "someone did." Oh my poor friend...not another funeral. She'd just gotten the call a few hours earlier. (I'd had lunch with my friend Andrea that day and she asked if my plans with Valerie were still on, and I joked yes they are, nobody has died yet, knock on wood...evidently I spoke too soon, oh foolish me!) I realize death and funerals come with the territory of being a minister, but...holy crow, Valerie gets called to do a lot of funeral services. Not only within her own congregation but also by the funeral home quite often, if they have a family who doesn't attend church, so doesn't have a minister/priest of their own to call on. In this case, the people were actually Anglican, insofar as they were anything, but one of the daughters (I think) just knew Valerie so...tag, she was it. Because it's not like she say: "nah, I'm too exhausted to do another funeral right now" or "sorry, I have other plans, can't help ya".
We spent last Saturday at Dave's parents and had birthday cake (he even blew out all the candles, although there weren't anywhere near 47 of them on the cake so he got off easy!) My in-laws live on the Northumberland Strait (the body of water between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island...they live on the NS side.) Both of his sisters were there, and their boyfriends (menfriends?), and his two nephews, so it was a wonderful family gathering.
In the afternoon, we went for a lovely walk on the beach. It was overcast, but what else is new...this system moved in June and has been stalled over us for weeks, we were starving for the sunshine!! Part of the time, I wandered around with the girls...at one point, kicking up some spray at them and then they ganged up on me and we all got soaked from splashing in the waves! And then Dave meandered down to join us, and the girls went off on their own looking for beach glass, while he and I just strolled along (while he laughed at me for doing my typical little kid things like holding hands, but walking backward because our footprints just looked cool that way...or marvelling at how the water presses out of the sand when you step down, which I've noticed before but it always strikes my fancy.)
My present to the photo-hating Dave will be to not post any photos of him on his birthday! :) But here are a few photos we took at the beach with his Blackberry, because I forgot my camera.
This is for my wonderful husband and soulmate, Dave, on our 22nd anniversary.
"All we are is all that love brings,
We spin as the highest star spins,
We get hearts on fire and in love..."
(Excerpt from All We Are by Kim Mitchell, our wedding song at Dave's request because it was the song playing in the background when he proposed. If you want to know more about the Man from Glad's proposal, check out this entry.)
To celebrate this milestone, we are going on a double date with Mark and Valerie. We're planning to meet at the MicMac Tavern for a late lunch/early supper, go for a walk in the lovely trails of Dartmouth's Shubie Park (online pdf map of the park), then go see a movie. I was originally thinking of seeing The Hangover. Sara tells me it's quite funny and I haven't seen a good comedy for a while. But we've decided instead to see A Perfect Getaway, which is premiering this weekend, because The Hangover isn't playing at any times that suit us. I'd like to see Julie & Julia, but Dave and Mark have as much interest in watching that as they do in watching paint dry!
Just a recap of our evening...the followup to my earlier anniversary entry.
Dave and I picked up the movie tickets on the way to the tavern, because it was premiere weekend for A Perfect Getaway so I thought best to get them in advance. Then headed along to the MicMac tavern, where we ordered beer and a munchie plate while we waited for Mark and Valerie to join us. Instead of regular draft, I tried a draft called Garrison nut brown, which was very full bodied and quite tasty. Garrison is a local microbrewery. I'd had their Irish red ale before, but not the nut brown. It was heavy enough that I would never be able to down any quantity of it, but a couple was great. Soon enough our friends arrived, and eventually we all ordered steak. Mine was absolutely delicious...thick, juicy, perfectly grilled (medium rare, on the rare side)...mmMMmm!! Dave, Mark and Val said their steaks were equally yummy. After our tasty meal, we went for a stroll around the Shubie Park trails.
Dave even obliged my photo-madness!
Of course, we had to read the various information plaques around the park...
The Shubenacadie waterway was originally used by the Mi'kmaq First Nations people as a travel route between Halifax Harbour and the Bay of Fundy. In the early 1800s, the merchants in Halifax decided to expand the waterway and build a canal and lock system. The Shubenacadie Canal was at best moderately successful, and closed in 1870 due to the construction of railway bridges too low for boats to pass beneath. I believe several of the locks have been designated as heritage sites. A section of the canal system has been incorporated into a lovely park in Dartmouth. The park has extensive trails, an interpretation centre, and an adjoining campground. As Valerie commented, we are so fortunate in the Halifax area to have so many wonderful parks and trails. We certainly enjoyed our stroll today, joking about starting up a tour company, that takes people on cruises through the canal system.
I was just going through all my Newfoundland photos, including some I downloaded from Val's, M's and K's cameras, looking for the ones taken during our weekend in Gros Morne...and found the following. I must have seen these before, but when I came across them again just now, I burst out laughing. Our semi-matching expressions just struck me as hilarious. I am thinking ok, my friend, we spent two weeks constantly together, moods and warts and all, without feeling in the least bit sick of each other's company...I'd say our friendship is now carved in stone for all eternity!
"Give me one friend, just one, who meets the needs of all my varying moods." ~ Esther M. Clark
Valerie giving me "the look"...I have no idea what I did to deserve it!
Me, clearly not so thrilled with her...I don't know why that was either!
"Whoever says Friendship is easy has obviously never had a true friend!" ~ Bronwyn Polson
Well this friendship certainly hasn't always been easy, but it is absolutely wonderful, uplifting, strengthening. The challenges only bring us closer together. Valerie once said that, in me, she has found someone she can trust, share with and even make mistakes with, and still be assured of my care and love. I can't think of a more perfect description of a best friend. And in her, I have found the same...what more could we want? ♥
...is the baby on the right?
It's me (of course!) The adorable little girl in the middle is my sister Lynn. And the two adults are my parents, long divorced but they made a really attractive couple, didn't they? I always loved this photo when I was a little girl. I remember it being on a triangular coffee table in the corner of our living room. Lynn came across the photo recently, so she made me a copy too.
I read this quotation on Barb's blog and absolutely love it!
"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself."~ Neil Gaiman
I share these wonderful words on my own blog in honour of my darling daughters as they begin a new year of school/university...full of hopes and promise, reuniting with old friends and connecting with new friends, finding new ways to express themselves, growing into their talents. They are all I could imagine and more! ♥
A favourite photo (from our 2007 trip to Venice):
And now, after this summer's shopping excursions, we really do have to stay best friends forever, because otherwise it would just be creepy that we...
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday, dear OLDER sister,
Happy Birthday to you!!!!!!
With love from your YOUNGER sister ♥
The Happy Happy Birthday Song by the Arrogant Worms
Today is my Mom's birthday, so Happy Birthday to her!!!
Here is a cute photo of Mom and her #1 granddaughter (number one in the sense of first born, not in the sense of favouritism!)
And here is Mom and her #2 daughter (duh...that would be me!):
My dad forwarded some photos of my youngest brother, Barnes, who is in his early 20s. Wow. I'm stunned!! I knew he was a handsome lad and all, but...wow, he can give any of those magazine boys a run for their money! Apparently he recently did a photo shoot for a modelling company in London, hoping to earn some extra money on the side. I showed the photos to M and, like me, her eyes nearly popped out of her head...she couldn't believe this was her uncle. He was in his teens last time she saw him, and has definitely matured in his looks the past few years! I think she plans to show him off to her friends! I don't blame her, I plan to do the same! lol
Check out his photos below...and be prepared to have your socks knocked off! :)
Thought I'd share a few photos from our fun-filled NY Eve at the camper...what a great time we had!
Mark and Valerie went down in the morning and got things set up...
Dave and I arrived with the girls shortly after lunch...let the good times roll!
My best friend arrives home today, after being away for two weeks. (In fact, her plane should be landing right about now.) My inner child was exuberantly out of control last night (much to Dave's amusement!) in anticipation of Valerie's return. I was trying my best to rein in said inner child though, as I said on Facebook. Why? asked Kim. Well, it's like this...the universe has a really annoying tendency to throw wrenches into the mix whenever my inner child is exuberantly out of control. Who knows what awaits her return at church (I think a funeral for one thing), so is hard to say if we'll be able to share any friend time this week, but - fingers crossed - am really hoping we can have a visit this evening!
I like her because she smiles at me and means it.
(I don't normally like to post anonymous quotations, but...I read this one somewhere and it just fits.)
Love is missing someone whenever you're apart, but somehow feeling warm inside because you're close in heart.
~ Kay Knudsen
Yeah, yeah...warm and fuzzies, blah, blah, blah...I know we're close at heart and always connected even when apart, but...is much more fun when we're together! :)
Wow. Just wow. I am in a state of shock. My *baby* is twenty years old today, how can this be????
Just yesterday she looked like this:
Now she has grown into a lovely young woman, whose presence still fills my heart and makes my soul sing a joyful song of motherhood...
Happy Birthday to you, my darling Sara. May your path be filled with joy and wonder, and lead you in unexpected directions and toward amazing discoveries...may you soar to dizzying heights as you unleash your potential! I love you always and forever, my sweet girl ♥
We had such a wonderful afternoon with family and friends! :) After church (during which the entire congregation sang Happy Birthday to Sara, much to her embarrassment), we came back to our house for a little celebration.
Sara requested nachos and Cheesy Mexican dip (*recipe to follow) for her birthday munchies, so that was the main offering in the food lineup. I also made veggie and fruit trays, plus had sliced roast chicken and rolls to make sandwiches, and pita bread and hummus. An uber-simple but very tasty assortment!
Here are the girls gathered at the table, grazing on munchies, while Sara and Moira opened presents (Moi's birthday is not until this coming Thursday, but we usually have one combo family birthday celebration, and then the girls have a sleepover or whatever with their friends another time.)
Sara wrote the following for a poetry contest. They are certainly winning creations in my mind. I think they are absolutely amazing and wonderful, so succinct and packed with meaning. They remind me of William Carlos Williams or ee cummings.
I am thrilled that she agreed to let me share them with you!
Time to celebrate our second family February birthday!!
Our younger daughter Moira, who is 14 as of today, arrived in the world on the Saturday following Sara's 6th birthday...in fact on the day Sara was having her birthday party! When my mom (or was it my sister?) brought Sara into the hospital later that afternoon to see her newborn baby sister, a very proud Sara declared she was the best birthday present ever!
My sweet Moira has filled my heart and delighted my soul for 14 years now. Her giggles are infectious, her generosity is inspiring, her inner light shines bright. Sometimes the things she says astonish me in their insight and understanding. I am so blessed by her presence in my life! :)
A few photos from various years...
I don't know much about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), but Sara was recently diagnosed with the disorder. So, armed with internet access and a book I just bought called Stop Walking on Eggshells, I must set out on a journey of learning. (The book is one that a friend of Sara's recommended to her, so I figure it will be a good starting point.)
Sara's BPD is not on the extreme end of the scale (thankfully!!) but she does have almost all of the nine symptoms in varying degrees. She is fine with me sharing this, by the way. Some people have physical diseases, like cancer, others have mental disorders, like ADD and BPD. Although in spite of our society's progressive attitudes in other areas, there still seems to be quite a stigma attached to mental illness. Sara and I feel that the more openly people share their stories and talk about mental health, the better. As noted in the Eggshells book, we need some celebrities to come forward with their stories, as happened with AIDS and cancer, to bring mental health to the forefront of our collective conscience! Apparently there are still some clinicians who dismiss it as a catch-all instead of a true disorder, although I gather this is changing as more is understood about BPD. Somewhere I read that BPD is now the most researched of all mental illnesses, and that the incidence of BPD is higher than that of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder...and yet we rarely hear of BPD, except in very vague terms or in passing through movies like Girl, Interrupted. (Which movie I highly recommend, by the way, although it doesn't really shed any light on BPD itself. There's an excellent and insightful line near the end: "Crazy isn't about being broken, or swallowing a dark secret. It's you, or me, amplified...")
In terms of speaking out and bringing mental illness out of the shadows, I found a website called Emerging Into Light, which is "a place dedicated to celebrating resilience and recovery. Our place to celebrate victories, share sorrows and honour heroes.":
"Emerging Into Light focuses on inclusion of people who have mental illness as part of our community Rather than focus on the implied negative message, of "anti-stigma", People who have been affected by mental disorders are encouraged to share and celebrate their stories and struggles. The Emerging into Light symbol speaks to the public about recovery and resilience. We are united behind a symbol that says our struggle is important, far from over and needs to be publicly recognized."
I will certainly be reading some of the stories and poems shared on this website, and hope others will as well so we can enhance our understanding of mental illness from the perspective of those living with it every day. Together we can grow into an inclusive and embracing community. We are all children of the light!
For more information on BPD specifically, the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder has this summary on their website:
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious and often life-threatening disorder that is characterized by severe emotional pain and difficulties managing emotions. The problems associated with BPD include impulsivity (including suicidality and self-harm), severe negative emotion such as anger and/or shame, chaotic relationships, an extreme fear of abandonment, and accompanying difficulties maintaining a stable and accepting sense of self. Thus, BPD is characterized by pervasive instability of mood, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and actions, often negatively affecting loved ones, family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual's sense of self-identity.
There are many other websites with information, including the esteemed Mayo Clinic. The Edmonton region of the Canadian Mental Health Association has a great factsheet here. And the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) also has a succinct fact sheet here.
As for how BPD touches my family's life...not that I wish BPD on anyone, but it is a relief for Sara to be finally diagnosed with something specific. Now she can move forward and get the proper treatment. Unfortunately, the treatment for BPD is dialectical behavior therapy, not medication. And my impression of this treatment is that it will be a long, probably at times draining and difficult, journey of psychotherapy. Although her ADD medication and her mood stabilizer do provide some relief to the wild mood swings and other symptoms, and enable her to focus on school work, etc. What makes me angry is that we are told there is only one psychiatric professional in Nova Scotia who specializes in BPD therapy...and he has a two year waiting list!! What is wrong with our health care system? The health care professionals are wonderful, but the system itself sucks! It has taken Sara two years to be properly diagnosed in the first place, and now she might have to wait another two years to even begin treatment?? Hopefully not that long though. Her current psychiatrist is trying to find someone else with experience in dialectic behaviour therapy. (I will no doubt share more about it on my blog as I myself learn what it entails and involves.)
Good thing Sara is such an amazing and strong young woman so she is not defeated by our mess of a mental health medical system. I am so proud of her!! ♥
“The world grows green again,
And runs with gardens. The jewels from the vines
Glitter in each tree;
And link with one another.”
I took these photos from my back deck last Tuesday evening. I am constantly amazed how quickly the light and colour of the sky can change. There is literally 4 minutes between the first and last of the following photos. I snapped a photo of the sunset, turned and took a pic of Moira, and turned back for a final shot of the sunset. How cool that the sky changed so fast from orange to pink! And of course, Moi is looking gorgeous, as always!! :)
Oh by the way, Moi somehow talked me into letting her get her nose pierced for her birthday recently - if you look closely, you can see the little stud she got.
Friday 9am...the phone rings. (I'm home because it's one of my flex days off.)
Valerie: "Are you doing anything tomorrow?"
Me: "Not really."
Val: "Are you up for a road trip?"
Val: "Ok, we're going to a funeral in Port Hawkesbury."
(A funeral, eh...why am I not surprised?!)
Valerie adds that after the funeral, she was thinking we could take the meandering route home and she could show me her former pastoral charge in Mulgrave. Sounds good to me, so we make plans for her to pick me up Sat morning at 7:30 am. Port Hawkesbury is a two+ hour drive away from my house. The funeral is for the father of a woman in our congregation, who had himself been a member for the past six years since he moved in with his daughter. But he was from Port Hawkesbury, and had been very involved in the building of the church there, so that's where his funeral was being held. (A couple others from our church family were also driving up, but Val and I didn't travel with them since we were making a day of it.)
Saturday morning...away we go. The skies were overcast, but still a bright day...in fact we'd barely pulled away from my house when we were both lamenting having forgotten our sunglasses.
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax-- Of cabbages--and kings-- And why the sea is boiling hot-- And whether pigs have wings." ~ Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and The Carpenter
We did indeed talk of many things! When we reach Antigonish, we stopped in at McDonald's for breakfast and then continued on our way. We arrived at the church about half an hour before the service...finding two of the women from our church already there. When Helen (the woman whose father died) arrived, she asked Valerie to speak after the eulogy. The service was being presided over by the minister of the Port Hawkesbury church, so Val wasn't expecting to have any part. First she declined (not wanting to step on any toes, since some people are touchy about others invading their turf), but then she agreed since Helen wanted her own minister to speak, and really whatever provides comfort to the grieving family is the important thing. Have to say, I wasn't very impressed with the presiding minister...if you can believe it, he barely acknowledged the family in any real way, never offered any words of comfort, referred to Helen's dad as "the deceased" (I thought yeesh, couldn't you have at least used the man's name?!) So turned out to be a very good thing Valerie was able to extend comfort and prayers on behalf of our church family during the service.
At the reception, we discovered that one of the funeral directors was from the same area of Newfoundland as Valerie...and his mother-in-law was one of Val's mother's closest friends. What a bizarre coincidence! And he said his MIL was at his house, just a couple minutes from the church, and asked if Val wanted to go say hello. Of course she did. We didn't stay long, just long enough for a quick catch up and we hit the road. Our first stop was the home of a couple former parishioners, with whom Val has remained close. We had tea and pie and conversation...and then off we went (with jars of homemade pickles in hand!)
Next stop was Trinity United Church, one of four churches in Mulgrave pastoral charge where Valerie was minister (about 15 yrs ago, I think).
What a fabulous time I had last night, catching up with some long time friends I hadn't seen in years. A couple and their son were down from BC, staying at a mutual friend's house (where the gathering was held). The small crowd was a mix of people I already knew and some I didn't (there was even one guy there I hadn't seen since high school.) Justin's house is quite unusual and really cool...the lower floor is unfinished, sort of a garage for his scooters, up a small spiral staircase to the middle floor, where there is a kitchen, bathroom, couple bedrooms, and a small deck off the kitchen. Up another flight of (pink) stairs to the top level, which is a living space, with two big glass doors, that slide up like garage doors, to small terraces on either end. In true Nova Scotia fashion, we gathered in the kitchen (where else?!)
We talked and laughed and had a few drinks...we reminisced and shared stories and found new common interests. Of course Italy was one of them! Chrissy visited for the first time last March, chaperoning a school trip. Another friend, Angela, had spent a couple weeks on the Amalfi Coast a couple years ago, and Justin had spent time in and around Torino when the Olympics were held there (he's a camera man for CBC, so was there for work...although stayed a bit after the games to do some sightseeing.)
As we talked about who was free and when over the next couple weeks before our friends return to BC, I found myself getting swept up in the enthusiasm to go see a band called The Hopping Penguins, playing at the Shore Club in Hubbards (NS) next Saturday night. A girls' night out of drinking and dancing...something I haven't done in...well seems like forever so hopefully I will be up for it! I had heard the name but didn't really know anything much about them, or what their music style is. But, thanks to Google and Youtube, I just learned that they are local, formed in Halifax, seem to have a small but dedicated following, and have toured across Canada...and that their music is a ska-reggae-zydeco kind of mix. Now I like all kinds of music, and have to say after giving them a listen, they sound pretty good to me. Here's a sample:
We left the party around 10:30, since Moira was champing at the bit to get to Kaleigh's house...although Moira said she had a WAY better time than she expected, and I think would have been ok to stay longer, had she not had other plans. But Kal had been away for close to two weeks and the two of them were in BFF withdrawal. Ok, I admit my inner child was in a similar state, since Valerie had also been away! :) The travellers hadn't actually gotten home by the time we arrived, so we went in, had a cup of tea and chatted with Mark. I told him how awesome my Sunday service was, and he grabbed me up in a hug of congratulations and shared excitement, then said oh you're hooked, that rush from preaching never goes away! About half an hour later, Kal came bursting through the door, and she and Moi squealed with delight to see each other again (ear-splittingly loud squeals, I might add!) A few seconds went by and no Valerie...oh wait, she probably needs help carrying stuff in from the car...so out we went. I zoomed over to give her a great big welcome home hug, then we all grabbed a bag out of the trunk and hauled it into the house. Dave and I didn't stay very long, it was midnight after all, and Val had just come from a loooooong drive home from central Newfoundland (complete with ferry delays, as if the journey isn't long enough to begin with.) So we'll do our catching up another day...but it was good to see her again.
Today brings a family BBQ at my sister's house. My dad & his wife Maggie, and Hermione and Barnes (the two youngest of my half siblings) are over from the UK, plus Alec & Louise (oldest of my half brothers and his girlfriend) are here from Michigan (Alec is a physic prof at U of M.) Our other brother, Henry, arrives next Wednesday. This will be - to my recollection - only the second time ever that all of us siblings have been together at once. So I am excited!! Will fill you in later on the BBQ and other family fun! We're hoping to all spend a night at the campground at some point, which should be a blast.
Enjoy your weekend - a long one for many of us in Canada - whoot!! :)
I have finally gotten around to reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. It's been sitting on my dresser for...I don't know, probably a year or so. Each time I am browsing through my stack, deciding what to read next, I pick it up, read the blurb on the back and think meh, not right now. Then the movie came out and I discovered that I really wanted to see it (which was strange given my lukewarm feelings for the book and my being not-so-much a fan of Julia Roberts.) Valerie and I went last weekend, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. We laughed, we cried...it is a movie we will both watch again. And after this experience, I was inspired to read the book. I haven't finished it yet, but much of Liz's personal journey is resonating with me. Not her depression because I've never experienced that myself...but her scattered thoughts and insecurities and searching for inner peace and stillness...those things I know!
In the first part of the book, Liz goes to Rome. I adore reading anything that is in any way related to Italy, so my heart sung along with the rhythm of this section...the descriptions of place, culture, language...relationships. Of friendship, Liz writes:
"we just learned the other day that un'amica stretta means "a close friend." But stretta literally means tight, as in clothing, like a tight skirt. So a close friend, in Italian, is one that you can wear tightly, snug against your skin and that is what my little Swedish friend Sofie is becoming to me."
Oh what a beautiful and perfect expression to describe the intertwining of two souls in friendship...I am blessed to have un'amica stretta in my life, and for this, I am deeply and profoundly grateful!
Here is a "self-portrait" that Valerie snapped of us on one of our friend dates...sitting by the fire, talking for hours, indulging in much laughter and silliness...weaving yet another thread into our shared tapestry:
And one of my favourite photos of my beautiful friend, one I took of her playing her guitar one evening at the camper (before our campground neighbours drifted over to join our singalong!)
Way back when...my Sara had given me the promise of a watercolour painting for my birthday. All I needed to do was tell her what I wanted her to paint for me. Seems simple enough, except I couldn't think of just the right subject for a long time! But then one day I found the perfect scene. I posted the following entry in June called Old friends :
I sent Sara the above photo and said this is the one!! But then I got thinking about the last time I had been reminded of that S&G song. It was during our daytrip to Twillingate last year when we were in Newfoundland with Valerie and her family:
So I asked Sara if she would paint the scene with the draping trees in the Public Gardens, but instead of two men, could she paint me and Valerie sitting on the bench. And so she did, adding her own little touches, like painting us both in our purple jeans (why yes...yes, we do have matching purple jeans...apparently all the other matching things I wrote about here weren't enough! lol)
Isn't it a beautiful work of art? I just love it. How blessed I am to have such a generous and talented daughter to create such amazing gifts for me. ♥
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