About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Update: Jan. 1/08 - just got Jaclyn home and in bed, medicated. She's still in a lot of pain (naturally) but I think she'll be able to rest and heal much better in a home environment. Stitches to come out in 10 days at our family doctor's office and an appointment made with the oncologist in about a month. I think she might already be out cold so I have to go and get a prescription for Tylenol 3s for her and go get her mail. I'll be home the rest of the day keeping an eye on her.

An update: Just got a call from Jaclyn and the doctor says she can come home tomorrow! She'll be staying with me for a while so wish me good luck with the crankies she's going to go through.

I was going to do a post about Canada's health care system, but that will wait for a bit. I just wanted to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2008! Never in my life have I been so glad to see the end of a year - it's been a doozy! But I plan on celebrating with friends tonight and saying "Good riddance 2007!" and "A very warm welcome 2008!"

Last January, I started out working on my book but on Jan. 13th, I had to put it away and focus on my Dad who had two very serious strokes. By the time we got him moved out of the hospital and settled in a care home, his apartment cleaned out, and his possessions dispersed I had about 10 days to breathe. Then suddenly, my younger daughter ended up in the hospital. That was the first of two serious bouts with bipolar 2 and six months of hell until she was well enough to move into her own place in the middle of September. Then on Sept. 21, I got a call from the care home - Dad was on his way...he passed away an hour and half after I got there. After that was the funeral and then all the end-of-life business that goes along with a death. The family thought it was finally finished with all the...well, you know what...when suddenly in mid-October the same daughter started getting sick. And, you know the result of that!
So good-bye 2007 and come on in 2008! I can hardly wait to see what the year has ahead for me. Can't be any worse than last year! I'll get back to working on the book, continue going to step aerobics and the gym to get the last 10 lbs off and firm up, and try to have a holiday.
I hope all of you have a good evening, whether you're home alone watching the "ball" drop or out partying with friends. Let's all look ahead to the future with hope for world peace, too.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!

Praise the Lord! Jaclyn’s surgery is over and the surgeons have reassured us that everything looks good.

However, the tumour has to be sliced, diced, and gone over with a fine toothcomb before the final results are in. (This will happen in the basement of the building where our good friend Josie works.)

They are looking for cancer cells or any cells that appear abnormal, and won’t have the results until probably the week of the 7th of January.

In the meantime, after several days at VGH, Jaclyn will come home with me for about a week until she’s fully able to care for herself, but she won’t be able to return to work for 6 to 8 weeks.

We joke (now) about Jaclyn having given birth to a 10+ pound turkey for Christmas, but in all seriousness, that tumour ended up being a lot bigger than previously expected. It must have turned around on itself because the length was 40 centimetres (for all you who do not use metric, that is around 16 inches long!) and it was around 20 cm wide and 18 cm in thickness. Think about it as being a full-term baby – but an alien one! ;D

Naturally, Jaclyn is in a lot of pain still, but today I reassured her that this pain is good because it’s a healing pain. She still has one ovary and her uterus so there is still a chance she could have a baby some day, which is something she wants, even though she was willing to lose everything in order to live.

I’d like to thank everyone for your prayers and notes of kindness with regard to this terrible ordeal we’ve gone through. Although it’s not over quite yet, we are so relieved that Jaclyn’s pain from the tumour is gone and that she has survived this nightmare.

I am so proud of my daughter for bearing all this with dignity. She stayed focused so she wouldn't break down and was/is willing to face anything that might come. We nicknamed the tumour "Hilda" after her witch of a late grandmother (not my Mom and that's another story I might tell another time) and we are all so grateful that the thing is dead! So sing with me everyone!

Ding-dong the witch is dead
Which old witch? The wicked witch
Ding-dong the wicked witch is dead
Wake up you sleepyhead
Rub your eyes, get out of bed
Wake up the wicked witch is dead
She's gone where the goblins go
Below - below - below
Yo-ho, let's open up and sing and ring the bells out
Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low
Let them know the Wicked Witch is dead!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Update on Jaclyn's Condition

Update as of Thurs Dec.27: Jaclyn will be transferred by ambulance tomorrow morning from our local hospital to VGH for emergency surgery as soon as they get her in and prepped. I'll be there at the hospital as long as is necessary and will report news as soon as I can here.

I am overwhelmed by the love, care, and prayers being sent our way by all of you out there in cyberland! So I felt I should update you on Jaclyn's condition as of this morning.

She's now on oxygen because the tumor is pressing so high up in her abdominal area that she can't breathe deeply. She's on IV fluids, continuing pain control, and clear liquids until the local hospital can get her into VGH to prepare her for surgery. They'll be contacting them tomorrow when their schedules are up and running again. If Jaclyn were near death, of course, she'd be over there in a flash for emergency surgery, but she's stable for now so they'll wait.

I sat with her for about an hour this morning, but she'd just had a dose of morphine and was a bit delirious. When I went to leave so she could sleep, she asked me to stay a bit longer so I did. I just held her hand and let her talk when she had something to say. I reassured her that when the surgery was over, she'll feel so much better.

Our pastor was going to go and visit to pray for her, but he has a cold so felt it better that he not go. But he prayed with me on the phone this morning and will be sending out the latest news to the congregation so they will continue to pray for her, too.

I cannot thank you all enough for your support right now. This is the worst thing to happen since my husband died. You all understand my terror about what they might find and if it's all benign I will be so relieved! (What an understatement!) Last night as I was trying to get to sleep, I started thinking the unimaginable and had to get up and take a tranquilizer. My body hurts all over from the stress and worry but I will manage with all your love and support. Just pray for my daughter, that's all I ask. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Jesus, Take The Wheel

All I can do now is to ask Jesus to take the wheel and look after Jaclyn.

Fear on Christmas Day

Christmas started with a sudden rap on my bedroom door at 3:30 a.m. Jaclyn had come over to spend the night and was in dire pain. I took her to emergency, and they put her on morphine, took blood and xrays. The doctor felt she should stay so I left her there at 6:00 a.m. to go back to bed for a bit more sleep. She phoned around 11:00 a.m. to tell me they were taking her by ambulance to Peach Arch Hospital in White Rock (a neighbouring community) for a CT scan. I got up then and had a shower so I'd be ready to go and be with her at a moment's notice. She phoned around 2:00 p.m. to tell me she was back at our local hospital and was waiting for the results. In the meantime, my other daughter Jamie, her husband and their little boy Noah arrived and we decided I wouldn't cook the turkey but we'd open our presents. Then around 3:30 p.m. Jaclyn phoned to tell us she was allowed to come home for a couple of hours but she would have to go back so they could monitor her until Thursday when things are up and running again.
Jason went and got her and she curled up on the sofa long enough to open her gifts and to watch Noah, whom she adores, open his gifts too. She was white as a sheet and hadn't eaten all day but finally agreed to some toast and a bit of water. She could only manage to get 1/2 piece of toast down. Jamie took her back to the hospital and when she came back we played Hungry Hungry Hippos with Noah for a while.
Since I didn't really have anything else in the house to eat other than my diet food, I was going to take Jamie, Jason and Noah out for dinner. But...*sigh*...nothing was open (even McDonald's) except for a local hotel that was charging $39.95 per person for a Christmas banquet. My whole turkey didn't cost that much, so we opted to cook my turkey another day. So they all went home to have spaghetti at their place and I ate my diet food and a bowl of M&Ms.
Then I headed over to the hospital to check that Jaclyn was settled and took her some toothpaste, toothbrush, clean undies and sox. I saw the doctor and she told me they're going to monitor her until Thursday and then they'll contact the BC Cancer Agency to let them know what's been happening and to try to get her admitted immediately for the surgery. The doctor said she cannot be home in her condition. She's on IVs to keep fluids in her because she started vomiting when she got back to the hospital.
I don't really care whether we get to have the turkey or whether it has to be thrown out. I'm so worried about my daughter than I can hardly think straight. She looked so helpless in that hospital emergency bed. And I can't get over the size of the tumor inside of her. Apparently, it's 25 cm by 18 cm by 15 cm! For you who aren't on metric, that's the equivalent of 10" by 7" by 6" so imagine that inside of you! God, please don't let it be cancer!!!
So Christmas came and went and it wasn't really a happy day, to say the least. I hope the next time I write about this predicament we're in (that's an understatement, don't you think?) I'll be able to report good news. It doesn't matter how old our children are because when they're sick and need us we still think of them as our babies.
Please continue to pray for her health and my ability to stay strong for her. Lord, look upon Jaclyn with eyes of mercy, may your healing hand rest upon her, may your life-giving powers flow into every cell of her body and into the depths of her soul, cleansing, purifying, restoring her. Amen.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

This will be the first Christmas without my parents, Dad having moved on to his next adventure in September. I am grateful that both Mom and Dad are finally at peace and together again.

My daughter Jaclyn grappled with and overcame a severe bout with bipolar 2 this year, but is now facing a new battle with upcoming surgery. I am so grateful that she survived that summer ordeal, and I am also grateful for all the prayers flowing over us as we await the next battle. I am so proud of her for overcoming the odds and maintaining a sense of humour even as she prepares for the worst yet.

My daughter Jamie and her husband Jason and son Noah are excitedly anticipating the arrival of a new baby in early March. Jamie wasn't lucky to have escaped the gestational diabetes - again - but I am grateful that, other than that, she is healthy and has been able to gain a minimum of weight. I'm also grateful that Jason was able to return to work after a death-defying accident in 2006 and that Noah is growing in leaps and bounds and is such a happy little boy.
This year of blogging has added many more virtual friends to my life. For that I am grateful. I find it exciting to be communicating with people in Australia, Italy, Wales, England, Malaysia, and the Caribbean along with the USA from Oregon to the mid-west, Maryland, and Florida. I'm grateful for all the friends I have in my life, I'm grateful for my church family, I'm grateful for my health (albeit the bad back), and I'm grateful that I have a nice home and enough money to allow me all my needs and some of my wants.

Even with the trials and tribulations that we face in our lives, there is much to be thankful for. So I hope you all have the best Christmas ever and can be as thankful as I am for the blessings that have been given to you. Remember the true reason for the season - the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Facing Cancer

Well, it was a new experience to walk into the BC Cancer Clinic yesterday. Jaclyn and I were both very nervous but we each kept up the front for each other. Everyone there was extremely kind yet not patronizing and treated both of us with the utmost respect.

Since Vancouver General Hospital is a teaching hospital, we first had a 3rd year med student take Jaclyn's medical history and even my gynaecological history. Then the resident (a lovely young woman) came in with more questions and she performed the physical exam on Jaclyn. I was so proud of my daughter because she did so well under the circumstances - it must have been so uncomfortable. The resident said that the mass is around the size of a newborn baby and has moved up into the abdomen area. I guess that's why her abdomen is so extended. We both had noticed her weight gain but put it down to the new drugs she's on for her bipolar. Finally, the "big guy" came in with the other two and we discussed treatment.

First, they will definitely remove the growth but because of its size she will need an incision rather than a laparoscopy. If necessary, they will have to remove her ovary and the fallopian tube, but if they can salvage any of the ovary, they will. Finally, if they can see it's cancerous when they go in they will have to do a complete hysterectomy by removing the uterus, both ovaries, both fallopian tubes and all the lymph nodes in the area. If they have to resort to that, we will face the next steps at that time. Jaclyn has given them written permission to do whatever is necessary when they open her up.

After this week of thinking about it, my daughter has decided to prepare for the worst and anything better than that will be a massive relief. She will let her support group (family, friends, church, and all you guys out there in cyberland) do the praying and hoping for the best. But she feels that if she's not prepared psychologically then the bottom will drop out of her if it's not good. She seems to be trying to have a sense of humour about the whole thing and has named the growth "Hilda" (an inside joke).
I'm coping as well as can be expected. I'm suffering from dizziness, nausea, and lethargy. And I have this shaky feeling throughout my body. I know I have to be strong for my daughter and I will be there for her through the whole horrid experience but I am grateful for my own family and friends who are there for me, too. I'm trying hard to think only of the most positive result because the alternate is just too much for me to handle right now.

The surgery is going to be within 3 weeks. Because of the holidays, I'm thinking the week of Jan. 7-11. The hospital will be calling soon with the date and we have been assured she won't be bumped. So please continue to pray for a positive outcome for Jaclyn. We'd both really appreciate all your prayers or good vibes from whatever belief system you have. Thanks.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why, God, Why?

The gifts were bought and wrapped and I'd even made shortbread cookies and attended two Christmas concerts. I was beginning to relax and look forward to a lovely Christmas with both my girls, the older one's husband and their little boy.
Then I received a call from younger daughter last Friday just around dinner time.

"Mom, I'm in so much pain I can hardly stand up. I need to go to Emergency."

Long story short, she has been diagnosed with a huge mass on her right ovary and they can't rule out cancer.

We've had quite a week so far. The diagnosis was Monday night and we were both in such shock that she slept over at my place. Tuesday, we sat around all day waiting for the specialist to phone. His office didn't call until Wednesday morning, instructing her to go to the cancer clinic on Friday at 2:00 pm. Be prepared for 2 to 3 hours of further tests and a consultation with an oncologist.

This is the same daughter who had such a difficult summer but had finally been able to move on with her life, get her own apartment, and go back to work. So I can't help but ask, "Why God? Why?"

So tomorrow we go and find out whether we should be prepared for ovarian cancer or a simple but hideously huge and painful benign tumor. And we'll probably find out when the surgery will take place, most likely right after New Year's.

It's hard at any time of year to go through anything like this, but at this time of year when there is so much celebrating going on, I think it's a bit harder.

I have to stay strong for my daughter and try to overcome this constant nausea that has hit me. I have to look on the positive and pray for the least horrible outcome.

After the initial shock, my daughter has decided to prepare for the worst and anything better than that will be a relief. She has even named her "growth" and has been able to put a humorous spin on things. That's pretty brave for a single 27-year-old who wants children some day. Good for her!

Urgent prayers are greatly needed and greatly appreciated.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd - Mary, did you know?

This is one of my favourite Christmas songs and I hope you enjoy this rendition by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd. It tells us the true reason for the season.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007



Here are the questions with their answers. How many did you know?

1. What do we call round or oval candies filled with fruit preserves or cream and covered with chocolate? Sugar Plums

2. What country is credited with creating eggnog? USA

3. Of the 365 days in a year, what number is Christmas Day? 359

4. What holiday symbol is placed on MacDonald's bags during the Christmas season? Trees

5. What does Alvin want for Christmas? A hula hoop

6. Who first recorded "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer?" Gene Autry

7. In what town did "It's a Wonderful Life" take place? Bedford Falls
8. In "A Charlie Brown Christmas," what does Lucy want for Christmas? Real estate

9. In what decade did flashing Christmas lights debut? 1930's

10. Which carol demands "figgy pudding"? We Wish You a Merry Christmas

11. The citizens of which Florida town maintain a fully decorated tree year round? Christmas

12. What two reindeer are mentioned in the song "Here Comes Santa Claus"? Vixen & Blitzen

13. How big is the voice in "do you hear what I hear?" as big as the sea

14. In the song "Jingle Bells," who was seated by my side? Miss Fanny Bright

15. What is the largest selling Christmas single of all times? White Christmas

Thanks to everyone who gave it a try and "Bah, Humbug" to the rest of you - just kidding! ;-D
Only 10 days until the big day so Merry Christmas to everyone and to all a "good night."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Decorating

I finally got the tree decorated tonight and the living room is looking rather festive now. It was actually fun putting out all the decorations, too, because each one has such special meaning for me.

The Santa Claus Bear is an old Avon product, purchased way back in the mid '70s before I had any children. I was selling Avon and thought it was so cute and some day my children would like it. It plays music and the candle lights up, too. The merry-go-round is also an Avon product purchase around the same time for the same reason. I love putting these two decorations out now for my almost 4-year-old grandson - he has been absolutely enthralled with them, especially the merry-go-round that plays several different tunes. We usually have to finally tell him to stop playing with it because it starts to get on our nerves after a while! :D The angel is a wind-up music box and plays Silent Night. It was the last Christmas gift I ever gave to my grandmother in 1985 and when she passed away in '86, my Mom gave it back to me. Noah loves this angel, too.
The huge snowball is a peppermint scented candle surrounded by little snowmen. The Mommy snowman with the snowkids holds a tealite inside and it glows through the pattern. Both of these are Party Lite products that I purchased many years ago when my girls were small.

Finally, the ornament that I call the "gift light" was given to me by my sister last Christmas. She found it at a craft fair and it is all handblown glass to look like a wrapped gift. You stuff a strand of mini-lights inside it and plug it in and it lights up to look exquisite. I kept it out all year round because it's such a conversation piece at any time of year. But now it's always lit up. I just love this newest ornament.
I decided to get tiny white lights for my tree a few years ago because I thought they went with my strands of white, pearlescent beads. This year I've put new (last year) glass balls in gold, bronze, and burgundy on the tree and they look lovely. I used to absolutely overload the tree with all sorts of things that they girls made when they were in school, but now they appreciate a more sophisticated tree, like I do. So I put a few "kiddy style" things at the bottom of the tree so I don't worry about Noah or other little visitors touching them but the "adult style" things are up a ways.
Now that the tree is up, the decorations out, the new wreath on the front door and the old one on the side door, I'm starting to get into the spirit of things. I'm finished my shopping, but still need to wrap the gifts and I enjoy doing that, choosing just the right bag with tissue or wrapping paper and tag. I've been to our church Christmas banquet and seen one Christmas concert so far. There's another concert next Saturday and my former school's concert next week. I'm taking Noah to that one because he's coming to spend the night with me. This week I have to do a little baking, but not too much because I don't want to to be too tempted to indulge.

Are you finished your shopping yet? What Christmas celebrations have you attended so far? What's coming up for you? Do you have any special traditions? Come on and share.

Stanley Park Hollow Tree

From the Vancouver Sun, Dec. 10/07:

Stanley Park's iconic hollow tree - for over a century, a popular photo backdrop for countless visitors, their horses and even their cars - is leaning dangerously and may fall over.

This enormous Western Red Cedar is estimated to date back to the 11th century making it approximately 1,000 years old and currently measures about 45 feet around and over 131 feet tall. It has been a popular spot for tourists and locals alike ever since Stanley Park opened in 1888. When automobiles arrived in Vancouver, many cars like the old Stanley Steamers and Ford Model Ts backed into the tree for the traditional photo op.

Unfortunately, the tree has some rot and the storms that ravaged our fair city last winter has caused it to lean. Even the network of iron rods and metal straps that had been installed to keep the stump together couldn't keep the ground from destabilizing. So, the tree's days may be numbered. Currently, there are barricades around the tree to protect tourists in case the tree falls and the tree is also wrapped with steel cables and tied to a nearby hemlock.

Every time I drive through the park, I notice the tree but have yet to have my photo taken in it. I guess I won't have a chance now that the barricades are there. But it's still worth driving by to take a look, so those of you who plan to visit Vancouver in the near future absolutely MUST go down to the park to see it. It will be a huge heartache for all Vancouverites, especially those of us who were born here, when this mammoth tree dies.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Not long ago, I put up a post entitled "Eight is Enough." You may remember that one of the "8s" was 8 qualities I look for in a best friend. I wrote that a friend should:

1. have a sense of humour

2. be trustworthy

3. be intelligent enough to have a decent conversation and not just gossipy stuff

4. be kind enough to offer to bring chicken soup when I’m all alone and sick with a cold or flu

5. be able to view things from various perspectives but honour my perspective even if he/she doesn’t understand or approve of it

6. be interested in ME and my life

7. be inquisitive and have a desire to learn something new every day

8. be willing to share a room with me on a trip and bring your own earplugs

Well, I've been thinking about all the friends I've been fortunate enough to make over the past half century plus. Not all have remained in my life but as one leaves, another makes an appearance and sticks around for the long haul. Where have they come from?

When I think back to my childhood, I think that my younger sister was my best friend because we were so close in age. We played together, ate together, slept together and told each other secrets. We played with three girls who lived across the street. However, as we became teenagers, each of us spread our wings and found others with whom to share our time. My best friend through high school was a girl named Margaret, who went to a Christian Reformed church. Because of that, my parents never hesitated to allow me to go on outings with her and her church friends. Little did Mom and Dad know that they were a pretty wild and crazy bunch. Once, we piled 9 of us into a huge car and sped down the highway at 120 mph to Cultus Lake and back. On the way back to my house, the passenger door flew open as we made a turn. There were no seatbelts in those days so you can imagine the screaming from Margaret and me as the driver struggled to reach across us to get the door! We ended up going separate paths when she decided to begin her teaching career after 2 years of university and I continued on to get my degree. Years later, I found out that one of the teachers at my last school had taught with her at another small Christian school. I never found out her married name, so haven't been able to contact her.

I only have one friend from high school who has stayed the course with me. Di started at our high school in Grade 12 and we went on to university together, having lots of fun and a few dangerous adventures. I was maid of honour at her wedding in 1972 and we're still friends, albeit living across the continent from each other. We only get to see each other every 3 to 5 years, but it's like picking up from yesterday. Thankfully, these days we're able to keep in touch via email. Lots of other friends have come and gone over the years. Some I made when I was a new mother. Some were from church and others from reading or theatre groups to which I belonged. Some were business colleagues who made it into the "friend" department.

A friend is there for you at a time in your life when you need each other the most. You experience things together and learn from each other. For example, when I had my first child, I could turn to others who were going through the same sorts of things like rashes, screaming, not sleeping at night, etc. When I was married, I had friends with whom we'd go camping, out for dinner, over to each other's house for games nights or Christmas and New Year's Eve. After my husband died, I found out who were the true friends - not many. Suddenly, as a single woman, I found out that I was considered to be a threat to the other wives. I had to start all over to make friends with women who were also single. I knew none at first.

Now I'm happy to say that I consider many women my friends. Each of them brings something different to our friendship. Cathy and I enjoyed teaching together and we've traveled several times with each other, both to Europe and on small trips locally. She's the one that brings her own earplugs when we've shared a hotel room or cruise cabin. Johanna and I share a love of art, literature, music, lunching, walking and showing each other areas of our neighbourhoods. She's a city girl and I'm a suburban girl. Colleen and I share a history of loss, we both have daughters who've tried our patience and love many times, and over 10 years as she does my hair we've shared many a secret with each other. She's from South Africa. Wendy is a great friend who didn't care that I was single and she was happily married. Because her husband plays drums in a band, we even laughingly "date" each other occasionally - one time she's the "guy" and the next time, I am. We've attended the same church for many years and done the season tickets to theatre thing, too. I met Suzanne a couple of years ago through blogging. She lives in Arizona and when we had an opportunity to meet up in LA over the Labour Day weekend in 2005, we found that we're soul sisters. She had me to her place in February 2006 and took me to the Grand Canyon. Then we had a week together in California in February 2007 and she's planning to come up to Vancouver next summer - to get out of the hot desert. Overseas, I consider Marion in England and Jane in Wales to be my good friends. I met Marion through Cathy in 1997 and we've become great friends separate from Cathy, even though they're also friends. I met Jane through a blogging experience and met her a little over a year ago when I was visiting with Marion and her husband. I took the train to Wales and it was instant friendship. She took me to see the Welsh Living History Museum, an amazing place that I'd like to revisit in the spring or summer.

Every one of these women I consider to be a "best" friend, each in her own unique way and each one has some or all of the attributes that I listed above. Some of us got together to celebrate my birthday in October and some had never met each other before. But we all had things in common. We all love to travel. We all have some creative talent - painting, writing, drama, wood carving, crafts, flower arranging, etc. We're all grandmothers now and love to share photos and stories of our new babies. And did I mention that we all love to travel - both nationally and internationally?

Why did I start thinking about friends and friendship? I think it's because of the Christmas season being upon us and the fact that I'm feeling so grateful for the positive impact they've all had on my life. In some small way, I just wanted to acknowledge them and thank them for being there for me when I need them and for allowing me to be there for them when they need me.

I did this silly little quiz to see what kind of friend I am and I was pleasantly surprised. What kind of friend are you? Do you have a friend that deserves your acknowledgement?
You Are a Good Friend Because You're Loyal
You stick with your friends no matter what, even if you feel like they're doing the wrong thing.You believe in letting people figure out their own path in life. It's not your place to interfere.
And part of your loyalty means that you'll do a lot for your friends. You definitely go the extra mile.You'll even do great things for friends without them asking. After all, that's what friendship is all about.
You are truly a friend for life. And you have friends you've known since you were a kid.Your friends can count on you to do a favor, remember a birthday, or just be there to listen.
Your friends need you most when: They can't turn to anyone else
You really can't be friends with: Fickle people who change friends quickly
Your friendship quote: "Friendship doubles your joys, and divides your sorrows."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

St Nicholas or Santa?

Today being First Advent, I thought I'd share the following letter from City In Focus that I received via my pastor the other day. It's something to consider at this time of year.

"The person we refer to as Saint Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra in the fourth century in modern day Turkey. Nicholas inherited great wealth as a young man when his parents died in an epidemic. He practiced charity his whole life and showed compassion to the poor or unjustly treated by society.

One example of St. Nicholas’ compassion involved a father who had lost all his money. This father had three daughters and now could not afford their dowries. The father’s decision to sell his daughters into slavery or prostitution came to the attention of Nicholas. On three separate nights, Nicholas anonymously threw a bag through the family’s open window containing enough gold for a dowry for one daughter. Thereby, all were saved from disgrace.

What we refer to as Santa Claus is an artist’s depiction of the "fat jolly old elf" from Clement Moore’s 1823 poem "The Night before Christmas". This Santa became the central figure in Coca-Cola advertising for over 30 years in the early 1900’s, thus cementing this figure as a world icon of commercialism.

What a contrast! St. Nicholas saw his resources as a gift from God to be shared with the poor and marginalized; Santa Claus encourages us to generate more gifts for ourselves or our loved ones.

As J. Rosenthal & C. Myers said years ago in their piece called "Santa Claus and St. Nicholas,"

Santa Claus belongs to childhood; St. Nicholas models for all of life.
Santa Claus encourages consumption; St. Nicholas encourages compassion.
Santa Claus flies through the air—from the North Pole; St. Nicholas walked the earth—caring for those in need.
Santa Claus, for some, replaces the Babe of Bethlehem; St. Nicholas, for all, points to the Babe of Bethlehem. (http://www.stnicholascenter.org/)

In scripture, Jesus gives us the two great commandments. The first is to love God and the second is, "You must love your neighbour as yourself" (Matthew 22:35-40). St. Nicholas is a perfect example of "loving your neighbour," with a preference for those in need.

Who will be our model for this Christmas season: St. Nicholas or Santa? Do we choose to share our abundance or continue to fill our lives and our families’ lives with material possessions?
I suggest we toss some bags of gold through the open windows of our neighbours.

Merry Christmas,"

Personally, I love the Santa story but never forget the true meaning of Christmas. After all, the word Christmas comes from the old English "Cristes maesse" meaning Christ's Mass. But the truth seems to have become fuzzy for most. Your thoughts?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The First Snow of Winter

We heard on the news yesterday that we were in for a snow-stormy weekend. So it was with no surprise that I looked out this morning to see that it had snowed last night but hadn't stuck to the ground much. However, it is now snowing full force and IS sticking. The winds are also howling and it didn't take me long to take a quick photo of some of the trees in my backyard. The wind was whipping the snowflakes up and drove me inside after only 2 shots. So this is the beginning of our first dump of the season. I hate driving in snow, so may not go to church tomorrow but instead continue to decorate the house for Christmas.

Anyway, in honour of our infrequent snowfalls, here are some thoughts:

1. Free snow. Shovel all you want!

2. Free Snowmen. Some assembly required.

3. Life is like a blanket of snow. Be careful how you step on it. Every step will show!

4. Snowflakes are kisses sent from heaven.

5. A snowman is the perfect man. He's very well rounded and comes with his own broom.

6.Take time to chase the snowflakes.

7. Home is where the snow falls.

8. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. . . somewhere else!

9. The great thing about snow is it makes your lawn look as good as your neighbours.

10. Snow happens.

For those of you who enjoy the snow, have fun making snowmen, having snowball fights, sledding, skiing or whatever else you do in this cold wet mess. Cheers!