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Welcome to my blog! Of course if we were visiting in person, I'd have the teapot out and we could sit and chat.
I'm honored you stopped by to listen to my thoughts and ponderings - and if you have a minute sometime, let me know you dropped by!

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Caught up in the Season

  It is the night before Advent begins... my husband strums a Christmas Carol in the living room, and I sit, pondering the week, thinking about the Season.

  What really got me going this week, was how I was caught up into consumerism.  Black Friday was black indeed, calling me and many others to pay attention.  It felt like a frenzy, from the thickest newspaper I had ever seen on Wednesday, sandwiched loosely around the many flyers, like a sandwich with way too many fillings, gaudy, full of deals.  I wondered how many newspaper carriers would be heading for the chiropractor!

  And it didn't end there... my e-mail box was flooded with exceptional promises, bargains that I couldn't possibly pass up, temptations.

  And I admire those who can ignore it all, there are even some who hate shopping!  But if the truth were told, I have always rather enjoyed shopping, and I especially love a good bargain.  I like stretching my dollars and the words that have been used to describe me would be Mennonite (in a good sense!), which can go along with frugal, careful, and perhaps less flattering, spendthrift.

  So the onslaught of sales drew me, like a bee to honey.  Because bargains were to be had, to the savvy shopper.

  And it exhausted me.  There was just... too much.

  In the midst of it all, I was preparing my own art collection, an accumulation of all my loved hand-made treasures, pieces of art, and I hoped, and still hope, that they would bring joy to some, a handmade gift to treasure.   I love that I can be part of something local, something creative.  And I was torn between the busyness;  was I contributing to the madness of it all?

 So I come, to the Eve of Advent, somewhat spent.  In spirit.  In dollars.  I didn't go crazy, but it affected me.

  I realize that I, that we, are part of a culture of consumerism.  It is almost impossible to avoid.  It hits us on our computer screens, on our phones, on the billboards, on the TV... and how do I counter that?

  And as I live in the land of plenty, I think of those who have not.  About the man I saw today, rummaging through the garbage bin while I pulled up to the bank machine... to retrieve a little cash.  I wanted to offer him an orange, but by the time I had completed my business he was gone.  Was he hungry, I wondered?

  The word balance comes to my mind, as I long for simplicity in a complicated world.  To live with less.  To care for the poor.  To buy only what I need.  To take time to see the real beauty, in the nature all around us, not the gaudy glitz that lasts but a season.  To spend time with friends, to have meaningful conversations.  To make memories with family.

  Part of Advent is to wait... which really means to slow down.  And we do just the opposite often, speeding up, there is a frantic spirit in the season.  At least what I witnessed and felt this week.

  I sit here.  I close my eyes.  I savor the silence.

  I know, that even in this creative, joyful season, of giving and receiving, I want to experience peace.  And rest.  And I go to the Creator, who after six days of incredibly creating... rested.  I think of the gift of life, and I am grateful.  And I ask for balance in my life.  Even in a culture of consumerism.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Angels Everywhere

  I have been making them by the dozen.  Angels that is!  They are all different, unique, hand-formed, lovingly created by my hand.

 I do love decorating with angels this time of year.  And nativity sets - I have a number of them.  They speak to my faith, to miracles, to angels among us.

  And the angels pictured above are part of Arsolutely, a lovely art show I am part of every year at the Vernon Art Centre where I love to play and practice art.  

  I find it interesting through... all our depictions of things unseen, these angels...are the real angels amused?  Or do they understand our need for the symbolic?  Our need to connect and be protected and cared for?

  Perhaps that is why that wonderful movie "It's a Wonderful Life" continues to hold our attention... to know that there is something much bigger than us, a Creator who cares for us... who is with us in the hard times...

  I thought of that again when we had our long-awaited early Christmas in November.  It was incredibly wonderful to connect with all our children and celebrate.  But the empty space my mom left, after her departure to heaven in June was felt... deeply.  

  Something wonderful happened that weekend, really, out of the ordinary.  A little finch, an albino finch, which must be incredibly rare, dropped by my rose bushes, just after we had taken our family photos.  I had seen him once before but never captured him on film.

  My son had the camera at the ready and captured these amazing pictures:

  Does that not look like an angel?  Amazing...

  I am convinced that God uses the ordinary, the everyday to show glimpses of the unseen, to bring comfort, to bestow beauty and wonder.

  Angels all around us?  I think so... sometimes we just have to pay attention.  I believe God is limitless in His imagination and creativity.  And in this season of wonder, even in the midst of busyness, shopping extravagance, overindulgences, we too can catch the wonder, the beauty of the gift of Emmanuel... God with us, with angels showing us the way.

Finch Photos by Steven Lacoursiere

Artsolutely runs from November 29-December 24, at the Vernon Art Centre, in Vernon BC.  You are welcome!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Baby, it's cold out there!

  The temperatures plummeted today, and as I sipped my green smoothie made with the last of the kale in my garden, I thought it might be time to count my blessings...

1.  The gift of greens...  kale until November 19 this year. And best of all, it doesn't require a green thumb...

2,  A warm house and money to pay the heating bills. There is nothing like a warm house to go to, blankets to spare.

3.  I might be a turtle, wanting to retreat to warmer spaces, and admire friends who embrace the cold. Not me!  Thankful for tights, mittens, warm coats and scarves. And cars with heaters!

4.  And I need to thank those who work in the cold. My newspaper which was delivered on time, early this morning, which I always enjoy with my morning coffee. And for the mail delivered on a cold day.

5.  I thought of all the hospital volunteers this morning as I went to work, many of them seniors, showing up for their shifts; always cheerful and helpful. For volunteers everywhere who give of their time, their resources, often without thanks.

  Yes, it might be November, and winter is coming and it's cold, and the nights are long. But the sun shone today, and now it is time to cozy in with a hot cup of tea. And count my many blessings.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Birthday in November

  It started with writing about roses in November... then Christmas.  It has been quite a month!

  My cousin asked what would come next?  And I thought... it would be the birthday in November...

  Last year, in November, my mom turned 80.  We celebrated it well, a lovely picnic and day at the beach in the summer with family, and a great get-together for her birthday with friends and family in November.  I think we knew... it could be her last birthday on earth.  So we held it close, we celebrated it well, we celebrated her.  

  She would have been 81 this past Saturday, November 16.   And I wondered... do they celebrate birthdays in heaven?

  Or do they begin anew...or do they count at all...it is hard to imagine, this everlasting life we are promised after death.  As we age, and gather birthdays we often complain...and yet, each year is a gift... another year we have been given.

  So in heaven, do they grow younger?  Or just stay the same, an eternal beauty, where time does not have the limitations we know here on earth?

  So, I wonder...and that is part of the mystery.

  On Saturday, I invited a number of friends... mom's and my own, along with my daughter and granddaughter... her granddaughter and great-granddaughter and namesake... and we had a tea party.  To celebrate mom.  To celebrate friendship, and Mom, and remember.

  I was honestly surprised how many came, and it touched me deeply.  And it meant so much again to know how she touched others by her friendship, and listening and caring spirit.

  My friend shared with me that this is a more common thing in countries like Mexico, where they take time each year to remember the dead.  We usually don't throw birthday parties for  the departed here in Canada!  And I thought, what a shame... perhaps we should do it more.

  And I was grateful, on many levels... for friendship, and sharing, and celebration.  For the simple art of a cup of tea in old china cups, Mom's china.  Her own dishes that she had presided over for many conversations, times of listening, conversation, prayer.    For a mom who invested in the lives of others and who instilled those values in me.

  And as I said good-bye to the guests, I spied in my garden, a rose blooming.  A single rose, on this cold blustery day.  Gifts for November... friendship, family, beauty, and the gift of a loving mother who remains part of the fabric of our lives.

Monday, November 11, 2013

T'was the Night After Christmas

T'was the Night After Christmas
And all through the house...
Not a creature was stirring
The house silent
and quiet

And Grandpa and Grandma all snug in their bed
Were left with the wonderful memories they shared.
And the noise and the clutter
And the food and the laughter
All lingered, yes lingered

And even though all their grand-kids had gone home
Their kisses and snuggles
And giggles and wiggles
Their joy over Christmas
Though celebrated early
Would last through this season
And warm up this home.

The stockings now emptied
The presents unwrapped
The food all been eaten
Christmas crackers been snapped.
Our Christmas was early, but what a delight
To have each one present
Our season was bright.

The day doesn't matter
Or the time of the year
It is family that matters
And family we hold dear.

And quiet, though silent the house may now be
The pictures, the memories
The moments we shared
Will be part of this Christmas
Of 2013.

Grateful for our family... and an early Christmas celebrated this November long weekend.  All five children present and their spouses and six beautiful grand-kids.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Christmas in November

  I've always thought November rather dull and grey and thought we should brighten it up!  Hence we are celebrating Christmas in November!

  To be truthful, it is family circumstances and schedules that caused us to seize this opportunity. And with three new babies in the family, it seemed a great way to celebrate.

  It is good to celebrate life. To celebrate family. And even in missing mom; this first Christmas she is not present with us, I hear her enthusiasm in my ear and her encouraging me on. She would be so into this!!

  And as I see the Facebook Posts about not decorating for Christmas until after Remembrance Day, I get it. But Christmas just isn't the day. It is about family and celebration, and remembering the foundations of our faith. So as I set out the nativity scenes, and hang up the stockings, I also will remember.

  Remembering all who have gone before, and whom we miss. Full of thanksgiving for freedoms and our country.  Thankful for family, and blessings.

  Thankful we are able to gather, and celebrate, no matter the date on the calendar!  So at our house we are a little different this year.  Merry Christmas, and a safe long weekend where we remember and memories are made!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Roses in November

  Last November, 2012, we celebrated my mom's 80th birthday.  It was a delight to celebrate her life and this special occasion, both in summer where the family gathered by the beach, and again on her actual day in November, where family and friends gathered in Vernon.

  It was especially fun to surprise her with eighty roses and decorate the room with them for her special day.  She loved it.  She loved roses, and flowers, and she delighted in sharing those roses with her friends.

  This spring, as many know, we were by her side as she spent three months in hospice.  Of course, we never knew it would be that long, but for 100 days mom brightened up that room in the beautiful facility we are privileged to have here in Vernon.  Her room was almost always filled with flowers.  And she loved it.  Friends and family were so kind and thoughtful, and we delighted in each flower, plant and bouquet - even the hospice staff often dropped by to admire the displays.

  As June approached, we waited for the first blooms in the hospice rose gardens to appear.  And I was delighted to bring my very first two rose blooms of the year in for mother to enjoy.  And I was reminded how many times she had helped me prune my own little rose garden, and taught me about their care.


Yesterday, the first day of November. I saw to my delight that there were new blooms on my roses.  They had survived the heavy frost early this week and our cold nights.  I was so pleased to find roses in November.  

They remind me of mom.  How I miss her.  Today, as we packed up the last of their household things and loaded them on the truck, and bade my dad a fond farewell as he begins his new life in Abbotsford, I felt bereft.  And yet... there are so many reminders.  Of beauty and love and of life itself.  As I snuggled with my little granddaughter today, named after mom and I wonder... will she too love the roses?

And is mom, who is enjoying all the beauty of heaven, smiling too.... because I am enjoying the gift of roses in November?  Somehow, I think so.

Blooms from my garden... doily and vase compliments from mom.