Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Lost in translation

(Warning: One of my long "trying to be profound" posts ahead.)

I like to think I have a good command of the English language. I’m a communicator who spends a lot of time searching for the best way to communicate ideas, information, instructions, etc. I know a lot of words. And yet, there is so much I don’t understand.

Within the English language (and I suppose within any language), there are a lot of sub-languages – languages that are familiar and comfortable to those who speak them but are entirely foreign to everyone else. On the way home from work yesterday, I saw a woman with an interesting hair-do – short spiky dreadlocks - and I wondered if there was a word for that. It occurred to me that she probably had the language to define her hair-do. Or if she didn’t, at least her hairdresser did. I, with my mostly-straight blonde Caucasian hair, don’t have a reason to communicate in that language.

But there are also a lot of languages that I understand that neither that woman nor her hairdresser would. I’ve had to use a lot of different languages in my work life. Here’s a little sampling of statements that mean something to me, but probably sound like Yiddish to you:

Veterans Affairs: “Did you PA that BPA document to the VAC file? The AC wants the file to send it to the VAB. ”
Agriculture: “Next week, representatives from the CD will be meeting with someone from KAP and NFU. Could you prepare the doc for the discussion on HEMS?”
Health: “What happens with the NHP remains after they have been used for the SARS experiment? Will they be autoclaved out of the BSL4?”

See what I mean? Foreign languages. Everyone speaks them – either at work or at home. Your family probably has some words or phrases that mean absolutely nothing to anyone outside the family. My family, for example, is famous for using lines from an old comedy tape we used to listen to regularly. For those family members reading, remember “You COOKED it? But that bird spoke seven languages!”?

For much of my professional life, I’ve served as a translator, of sorts. It’s my job to distill the language of the experts (whether they’re scientists, agriculturalists, or international aid experts) into a language that you, Joe Average Public, can understand. . It’s not that I have to fully understand any of the languages I’m translating (it would take a PhD to understand most of what the scientists were saying), but I have to somehow convince the experts to dumb down the information enough so that I can understand it and communicate it to the public. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t. Any time you receive a government document, there’s a good chance that someone like me had their hand in translating it. (Hey – don’t blame ME for all the bad government communication out there! I could only do so much.)

When you receive some form of communication – be it a letter, a flyer, or a news piece on the television – you will very quickly shut it out if it has not been translated well. If the communicator speaks a language that’s foreign to you, they haven’t got a chance of catching or keeping your attention. That’s why advertisers are paid well – they have to figure out the language that is best understood and convinces you to buy the product.

We’re all trying to understand each other. Sometimes we get the translation right, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes the words are simple, but the message is complex. A simple statement like “I like your shoes” can mean so many different things. Do you REALLY like them or are you being sarcastic and you’ll snicker when I turn my back? Are you trying to imply that I spend too much money on shoes?

Language can be complicated. On the other hand, some forms of communication are beautiful in their simplicity. A smile, for example, translates into any language. I “spoke” to many people in Africa, even though I didn’t know their languages. Watch a child for awhile – they find simple and effective ways to communicate. Yesterday, in a store parking lot, Maddie stopped to admire and talk to a Chinese baby in a stroller. The parents spoke very little English, but they understood that this small child wanted to be friends with their baby. They grinned and patted her head.

Next month, I’ll be facilitating a workshop where I’ll be working as yet another form of translator. It’s a teambuilding workshop, and I’ll be teaching the concept of Six Thinking Hats to help the group understand that people have different ways of thinking and different personalities, and therefore tend to communicate with different languages. When someone says “I don’t like that idea” it may very well mean “that scares me because it’s outside of my comfort zone” or “I feel badly because I have nothing to contribute and you’re always coming up with the good ideas” or “perhaps we can build on your idea to come up with something even better.”

The other night at bedtime, the girls and I read the Bible story of the Tower of Babel – how the people were getting too proud and greedy and self-important, so God confused their language so that they could no longer communicate. Seems that story can be interpreted in many different ways. Maybe they all kept speaking the same basic language (Hebrew, I suppose?), but God changed everyone’s Myers Briggs personality type so that they all interpreted what was being said through different lenses. And consequently, we now have to have workshops and teambuilding sessions to try to bring people back together so that they can build their own mini towers of Babel. Who knows.

Though the languages we speak can make life complicated, and the way we interpret those languages can lead to way too many misunderstandings, I think it’s also what makes life interesting. If, for example, your workplace or home didn’t develop its own language, than nothing would set you apart and you wouldn’t have a special place to feel at home. If my family didn’t repeat silly lines from a comedy tape ad nauseum (to those who married in to our family, I sincerely apologize for the times you’ve had to try to interpret) then we would have fewer strings bonding us together.

Language is one of the building blocks of community. When we share a language, we share ideas and emotions, and we find ways to cling together. Even the blogosphere can do that – how about lol or rofl or btw? Those outside our community wouldn’t understand. (And if you’re inside the community, and don’t understand, I really don’t mean to leave you out, so what I just said was “laugh out loud”, “rolling on the floor laughing”, and “by the way”.) We may come from different places, but if we can share a common language, we can communicate and bond, at least on some levels. We might not always understand the nuances of what other people are saying, but we try, and on that effort, we build relationships.

(Don't say I didn't warn you!)

Nothing left but a shoe

It's hard to imagine how all those people in Louisiana and Mississippi are going to pick up the pieces of such a broken life. One woman said "All I found that belonged to me was a shoe. There's nothing left." How do you begin to rebuild a life with nothing but a shoe? Of course there are those in even worse situations - losing wives, husbands, children, and parents. Where will they begin?

If everything and everyone I knew was swept away in some angry storm, I don't know if I could hope to do more than crawl into a hole and die.

And again, one wonders - is there REALLY a gracious god in charge of all this? My guess is, that if there is, then he/she is weeping right now. Weeping and longing for something different.

Monday, August 29, 2005

New Toys

Lest you should think that all our downsizing (from 2 incomes to one, etc.) and selling off of earthly possessions (van, camper, boat) means that we've completely turned into "simple living altruistic tree-huggers", I have to come clean and admit that we do still like to treat ourselves now and then. When we sold the camper, we paid off some bills and stashed some away, but then we allowed ourselves a little "fun money". It's been awhile since we've made any impulse buys, so this week we acted on impulse.

Marcel bought a bike (not as nice as mine, but still quite nice), I bought a digital camera (not quite an SLR but a step up from point-and-shoot. Yippee!), Nikki is now the proud owner of an MP3 player, and Julie's on the search for a beanie bag chair. Maddie seems fairly content with the "gameboy" she got with her happy meal at MacDonalds - it has buttons to press and it beeps - what more does a three-year-old need? Hey, ya gotta love a three-year-old's simple value system!

Here are a couple of shots with my new toy...

Supper in the backyard with our friends Justin and Nicole - yummy barbecued pizza!

Maddie perched in her favourite spot in the backyard tree.

Nikki and Julie in a rare moment - close enough to touch, but NOT FIGHTING!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Because I couldn't have said it better

"Because we are flesh, we know best that with which we are familiar. We love most those around us. We yearn for connections to real people in real places, people we can touch and who can touch us. We love most intensely those people around us. We hold our children in our arms, and we breathe with them as one, and we love them deeply in each breath. And that is as it should be. We are flesh that touches and is touched.

But at the same time we are spirit. We know that to live our humanity to its fullest requires moving beyond the flesh.

And so we know there can be no difference between how we treat those we love and those on the other side of the world whom we will never know and never touch. If our lives and the lives of the ones we love have value - if by virtue of being human we have a claim to life and dignity in living - then everyone must have that same claim.

We know that the children we hold in our arms have exactly the same value as those children we will never see, held in the arms of those we will never know. If our lives in flesh are to make any sense, our spirit must move beyond the ones we touch, the ones we love.

This is our struggle, and it is hard, because when we lose a loved one, when someone we have touched and who has touched us suffers, we cannot help but feel it more deeply. Our flesh aches. That is what it is to be human.

And at the same time we have to push ourselves to think about the suffering of those we will never touch. Our spirit has to ache as deeply as our flesh. That, too, is what it is to be human.

If we are the people we say we are - if we believe the things we profess to believe, if we want to build the world we claim to want to build - then we must struggle with this. And it will be hard."

Robert Jensen

You can read the rest of the article here

But I don't WANNA be a grown-up! (she stomps her foot for emphasis)

Today, I have a yearning to go to summer camp. Not as a grown-up, with responsibilities for caring for children or anything like that, but as a kid – a full-fledged carefree kid. I want to go to a place where all my needs are cared for, the bell rings when it’s time to eat, someone has lined up activities for my whole day so I don’t have to think, I can buy something from the tuck shop every day with my Mom’s money, and the greatest effort I have to put forth is to put my sleeping bag and suitcase in order so we don’t lose points for cabin check.

Some days, being a grown-up feels like more headache than it’s worth. Yesterday was one of those days. I had to be grown up ALL day and it was just too much for me. And not just a grown-up, but I had to be a leader all day, and that’s even more taxing.

I’m a manager at work, so I have to make a hundred decisions every day, solve problems, discipline employees when there’s a need, and in general act like I’ve got it all put together. Mostly I like being a manager. Yesterday I didn’t. For one thing, we had to meet with an H.R. consultant about a very sticky situation with one of my staff members. It’s messy and I don’t enjoy it. Then, in the afternoon, I had to do an annual performance evaluation of another one of my employees – not something I enjoy much either. If it’s any comfort for those of you who have sat and squirmed while their managers did their annual appraisal, believe me, it’s not a lot of fun on THIS side of the desk either. It particularly doesn’t help if you have employees who are forever judging your performance as well, looking for things to nail you on.

After that fun-filled day at work, I rushed home to have supper with the family and then role #2 took over. Mom. Marcel had had a rough day and has cooked most of the meals lately, so supper preparation had been left to me. Actually, Julie wanted to cook supper last night, which means that the Mom role is even more involved in meal preparation. I can’t just shut everyone out of the kitchen and go to work, I have to be patient with her and let her learn without taking over completely. And, as every mom knows, the minute you walk in the house after having been away, the demands are thrown at you faster than you can take off your shoes. “Can I invite Renée over tonight? Can we watch a movie? Can I go for a bike ride? When are you going to take us school supply shopping? Why didn’t you fix my pants yet? Can we go for a Slurpee?” Just once, I want to walk in the door, and have someone meet MY needs instead of demanding I meet THEIRS!

Supper had to be short, because role #3 needed to take over. Grab my purse, kiss the kids, and rush to church. We had a leadership team meeting, and I’m the leadership facilitator, so I run the meetings. Again, it’s something I enjoy doing, so I’m not complaining, but yesterday if felt like yet another demand piled onto my shoulders. At least with this role I don’t have to dole out discipline or take responsibility for too many decisions – I’m just helping other leaders reach their own decisions. But…I’m not sure if it’s because most of them are introverts and therefore don’t get or give out much energy in a group setting, but MAN it’s hard to get some of these people excited about anything. You present something, ask for feedback, and you’re met with a bunch of blank stares and folded arms. Am I gettin’ through to you? Does it make any sense? Don’t get me wrong – I like the people in the group – but at the end of a meeting like that, it’s really hard to judge whether there’s been any value in it or not.

So today, I want to find a playground (the camp is my first choice, but I’d settle for a playground) to play in, hang on the monkey bars and swing as high as I can on the swings, forget about all my responsibilities, and just be a kid again. Just for a little while – that’s all it will take. When it’s bedtime, I’ll be happy to be a grown-up again, because I don’t want someone else to tell me it’s time to go to bed!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

And what are YOU here for?

According to a recent U.S. survey, the Top 3 Reasons for Reading Blogs were: “news I can’t find elsewhere”, “a better perspective” and “faster news”.

Funny, I never (or rarely anyway) read news blogs - only those that are enjoyable, personal and give me a break from all that "real life" stuff on the news that I'd rather avoid.

And you?

(Sure, feel free to tell me I have my head firmly buried in the sand. I can take it.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Why it's good to buy your clothes second hand, Reason #2

'Cause then when your three year old daughter puts her greasy post-supper hands all over your pant leg the first time you wear the pants, and you realize after washing them that the stain didn't come out, you can brush it off with "oh well, at least I only paid $4.99 for them".

Monday, August 22, 2005

Saying good-bye to something we love

We sealed the deal on the camper last night. It will be moving on to its new owners later this week. Soon, it will house another family, protect them from the rain, keep them warm when it's cool, give them a place of refuge from the busy-ness of their lives, and hopefully continue to be filled with great memories.

After accepting their final offer last night, I crawled into bed and drifted off to sleep. I woke up during the night, though, with a feeling of deep sadness and almost panic. My first thought was "I'm not ready to let it go!"

We had fun in that camper in the last 4 years. The first weekend we used it, we camped at Hecla Island. Some of my family joined us there, and it was that weekend at the camper that we announced that we were expecting Maddie. I was already 3 months pregnant, but we'd waited until then to tell anyone because we'd had a stillbirth and a miscarriage before Maddie came along and we were, quite frankly, a little nervous.

Maybe that weekend, when her arrival was first celebrated, somehow contributed to the fact that Maddie seems to be our most outdoors-loving kid. The next summer she was just a baby the first time we set the camper up at a seasonal site at White Lake. We took to calling her "beach-bum-baby" because she was by far the happiest when she was lying in her stroller at the beach, or in an inner tube in the water. She had the most adorable tanned chubby legs sticking out of the stroller.

We put alot of work into the camper. When we first got it, I re-upholstered all the cushions (and there are a lot of them), sewed new curtains, and painted some of the walls. The next year, Marcel replaced part of the floor that had rotted, and I put in new flooring tiles. I also sewed each of the girls a special camper pillow with their initials on it to match the upholstery.

Lots of people visited us over the 2 years we had it parked at White Lake. Most of the members of both of our families enjoyed some time with us in the camper. Neices and nephews stayed with us, friends from church camped with us, and we got to know other campers who spent the summers as our neighbours.

We added a screened-in cabana/deck, and enjoyed many evenings there, protected from the bugs and/or rain. I remember lots of laughter in the cabana. I also remember some soul-searching conversations there - like the weeks after my brother-in-law's first marriage fell apart.

Oh yes, it's hard to let it go. At the same time, though, I know it's the right thing to do. We're downsizing, and the big camper just doesn't fit into our lifestyle anymore. It's too big to pull with the new car, and with only one income, we can't really afford it either. We'll probably replace it down the line with a smaller pop-up camper, but for now we're quite content to be tenters again. Like I've said before, though it hurts now and then, we know it's right for us to take a step out of the consumer rat-race and find ways to reduce our consumption and simplify our lives.

It makes me feel a little better to know that the new family who will enjoy the camper seems very nice and appreciative. They're expecting a second baby, so next summer, the camper will hear the coos and cries of another "beach-bum-baby", as well as a toddler. No, I'm not much of a capitalist - I'd rather have something I've enjoyed go to someone who will love it as much as I've loved it than make alot of money off it.

I heard a great story on the weekend of some people who'd bought a house on a private sale, and the people who'd sold it to them accepted their offer not because it was the highest bid, but because they were the family they most felt should own the home. When they took possession of the home, they found a gift for each of the kids that the previous owners had left them in their new bedrooms.

I think I'll do something like that for the new owners of the camper - leave them a little gift and a letter of "blessing" telling them we hope their memories add to ours to continue to fill the camper with love and warmth. Because in the end, possessions are (should be) like that - ours to use and enjoy for awhile, but then let go and hopefully continue to find a use and bring other people joy.

We'll still have fun and find joy in other places and other campgrounds, even without the camper. We'll hang onto the memories it helped us create, and the love we put into fixing the camper up will continue to bring other people joy. Forgive me, though, if I shed a little tear when they drive away with it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Ya gotta love THAT!

After my great find at Value Village yesterday - pants that fit like they're MEANT for my body rather than the body of someone with no hips, stomach, or butt - I thought I'd try my luck again today when I had a little more time. Well, to my surprise, my luck held and I found THREE MORE PAIRS of great-looking great-fitting pants. Yay!

Unless you're on a budget as tight as ours, have discovered that EVERY PAIR OF PANTS IN YOUR CLOSET is falling apart at the same time, and you have a lumpy not-made-for-pants body, you probably don't appreciate how HUGE it is to find four decent pairs of pants for $25, without even having to comb through racks and racks of clothes. And one of the pairs is Ralph Lauren. (Not that I'm big into brand names, but I'm happy to know that my $4.99 pants are well made :-)

The "second-hand" stars seem to be aligning for me this weekend! Whoopee!

And now, when I go back to work tomorrow after 2 weeks away, at least I'll be smiling when I glance down at my PANTS!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Happy heart

I have a happy heart tonight. It's late, and I should be sleeping, but the kids are gone for a sleepover (thanks to ccap and her boy for taking them!), we just got home from date night, and my head and heart and stomach are full and happy. We went for dinner at a nice restaurant, and then went to see The Interpreter at the cheap theatres (great movie). It's nice that, after twelve years of marriage, we still enjoy each other's company. I hope to say the same in another twelve years, and then twelve years after that, and so on, and so on.

There are lots of other reasons for the sappy headline. Nothing earth-shattering, just lots of warm fuzzies that make life satisfying and fulfilling.

I'm just wrapping up two weeks of holidays. On the way back from Alberta last weekend, we camped in the Qu'Appelle Valley in Saskatchewan. It's lovely countryside. We had fun tenting with the kids, eating our picnic supper, giggling around the picnic table, and cuddling up on air mattresses in the tent. Yeah, now and then I miss the camper (we haven't sold it yet, but we're not using it because we can't pull it with the car), but I really enjoy being back in a tent again. There's something so cozy about it. And simple.

When we got back, we set to work around the house. I got most of the painting done (the trim on the outside of the house) and Marcel got the brick sidewalk built beside the house. I also spent some time cleaning the house - not as much as I'd hoped, but enough to feel like it's a decent start on all this clutter.

Yesterday, we drove up to Riverton (about an hour and half from the city) to visit my brother Dwight, s-i-l Lorna, and their two boys. It was a delightful day. We had a weiner roast for lunch, hung around their yard all afternoon, watched the kids play on the trampouline (sometimes with the sprinkler going underneath), then went next door for pizza. "Next door" are Lorna's brother and s-i-l, who run an organic bakery, and they have a big outdoor brick wood-burning oven. On the weekends in the summer, they sell the most amazing pizza on the face of the earth. You can watch them bake it in the oven. We go there at least once a summer for pizza night, and usually invite a bunch of friends from church to join us. This year was no exception - a whole gang of them showed up to hang out with us and eat pizza. Yum, yum.

And this afternoon, I had fun hanging out with Nikki and Julie. We went shopping, but thankfully not to a mall. This was the kind of shopping I can handle - Ten Thousand Villages (a very cool store full of fair trade arts and crafts from all over the world) and Value Village (second-hand heaven). To my delight, I actually came home with a pair of pants from Value Village for $5.99 that FIT AND FEEL GOOD! I HATE buying pants (my body just seems too lumpy for the style of most pants), so when I find a pair that I like, it feels like cause for celebration. The amazing thing was, I didn't even try these on in the store - just decided to take a chance.

So there you have it - my holidays. Nothing momentous, just lots of good moments strung together. As I reflect upon it, I realize that what made the time off so good was that it was full of relationship moments. We didn't spend much money, didn't see any amazing sites or come home with any new possessions, but we had a great time connecting with alot of people that we care about. We spent time with all of the members of my family, hooked up with several friends (including some, like Julie and Bruce, that we don't see often), and most of all, hung out with our girls and enjoyed their company.

I guess that's what life is all about - finding people to connect with along the way. I think seeing the movie the Interpreter brought that home to me tonight. At the end of the movie, you've seen how much pain and despair people have to bear, but you still feel hopeful, because once in awhile, along the way, they (and you) find someone to connect with. And that makes it worth taking the next step. Even when you lose someone you really love, you realize the pain was worth it, because at least you knew love.

D'ya think I should write for Hallmark? ;-)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I can tell you what the baby gift was now

This is what I bought in Banff for Peanut, the yet-to-be-born baby of my sister and her hubby. It was too cute to resist. And too cute to hang onto until AFTER the baby is born. I might have been able to keep a secret, but the girls were ready to burst, so we gave it to them already.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Man of the prairies

August 8, 2003 started out like any other ordinary summer day. I'd started holidays the week before, so we were somewhat lazy that week. I had hopes of painting the house, but that could wait until later in the month, since I was planning to take 4 weeks off. The day before, we'd celebrated our tenth anniversary in style - dinner out at a fancy restaurant, and then a cultured evening at the theatre. Miss Saigon was playing in Winnipeg. It seemed a suitable way to celebrate 10 years of marriage. The next day found us still in great spirits after a rare night out with no kids and romance in the air.

My brother Dwight and sister-in-law Lorna dropped off their 2 boys at our place in the afternoon. They were staying with us while their parents attended a wedding. It was a treat having them around. It all seemed so ordinary. We had supper together, and then walked to 7-11 with all five kids in tow. Slurpees at the neighbourhood 7-11 was about as ordinary as a Friday evening could be.

What I didn't know was that while we were filling our Slurpee cups with the flavours of our choice, my dad was lying in a ditch, breathing his last breath. When we got home from 7-11, we got the phone call that changed my life. First it was the jumbled, frantic voicemails from Mom saying something about a horrible accident, then it was the call from h8s2cln (my sister-in-law), the only person Mom was able to reach, saying Mom was following the ambulance to the hospital in Neepawa. Then, while I scrambled to pack a bag with underwear and a change of clothes, Marcel spoke to the woman at the hospital. Dad was gone. They hadn't been able to revive him.

My knees buckled under me and Marcel tried to hold me up. "No, no, no!" I screamed. This couldn't be! My Dad couldn't just be gone like that - while we were having Slurpees! It was just so wrong!

We broke the news to the kids, and I raced out of the house. At the ball diamond, I picked up my sister ccap, we ran into each other's arms and buried our faces in each other's shoulders. We were fatherless daughters. What did that mean? The pain gripped our throats with unfamiliar fingers.

It was the hardest ride of our lives - travelling across the prairies to the farm which now held no farmer. We wept, we gasped, we pleaded for God to let it be a dream. While we drove we watched the dark angry storm clouds rise above the prairie, the sun's last rays stabbing them with orange light.

Dad died under a baler. In a freak accident that we've tried hard to understand, he walked behind the tractor and baler while stopped in a ditch, and it began to roll downhill, crushing him and tearing open his back as it did. As hard as it was (and still is) to accept, in many ways, it was the right way for him to die. He never wanted to get old. He wanted to farm until the day he died. He wanted to die the same way he had lived - out on the prairie with the sky above him and the earth beneath him.

This year, August 8 saw us driving across the prairies heading for Alberta. Though the sight of a round bale in the ditch can still make me wince, and a glimpse of an old farmer hunched over the steering wheel of a small tractor can bring stinging tears to my eyes, my heart still finds joy on the prairie. I still delight in the sight of round bales dotting the landscape, and a field of wheat still makes me feel I've come home.

It wasn't always easy being my dad's daughter. Many of the things he did in my lifetime brought pain to my life. Growing up, it was often hard to believe that his children were more important than his farm or his animals. He never was the type of father who showed up for baseball games or school presentations. He left most of the parenting up to mom. Sometimes, I hated him for that.

The hate mellowed, though, over the years. When he died, I could only think of all the things I loved about him - his wisdom, his sense of humour, his deep spirituality.

About 10 years ago, I wrote this poem about my dad. I wrote it right around the time that I was becoming a parent - when I was grappling with some of the issues that I still struggled with about the way I'd been parented. I never showed it to dad - I wasn't sure if he'd be flattered or insulted. Now, looking back, it was rather eerily prophetic.


I know a man
who fights the Prairie
like a Kamikaze warrior

Death at the hands of the enemy
is the shortest distance to god

He writes his anger
in furrows of blood
and chants his lament
in trenches of pain

The Prairie laughs
as it tortures him
with bullets of hail
and red blades of fire

He comes so close to god

(I hated you
that spring
you made me fight it with you
Rising from our beds
to drag half-dead cattle
from icy water
to watch them die
on higher ground)

I know a man
who caresses the Prairie
like a Shakespearean lover

Death in the arms of a mistress
is the shortest distance to ecstasy

He writes his poetry
in long sonnets
of barley and hay
and sings his songs
in wheatfields of gold

The Prairie laughs
as it kisses him
with tender raindrops
and purple rays at sunset

He comes so close to ecstasy

(I loved you
that summer
you let me caress it with you
Sitting on your lap
on that old John Deere
your large hand
over my small one
as we plowed black soil
and planted the seed)

This is him - the man of the prairies. It's been two years now, and the pain can still steal my breath away some days.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

This is what a good day looks like

Yup, it was a good day. A very good day. We headed to Banff with Mom and her hubby. On the way, it rained a bit and threatened to be a miserable day, but when we got to the mountains, the sun broke through the clouds and stuck around until we left. It was a little cool, but the perfect day for wandering around.

Here are some of the highlights...
- a picnic lunch of ham sandwiches and Mom's potato salad (oh, and the cheetos and pepsi we "stole" from bbb and h8s2cln. Oops - I guess I just confessed! Thanks for that- we owe you one.)
- hiking in Johnson canyon, climbing on the rocks, going through the tunnel to see the waterfall, watching the kids get close to the very friendly ground squirrels
- swimming (or more like lounging lazily) in the Sulpher Hot Springs
- shopping with the girls - candy store for Julie & Maddie, and, of course, clothing store for Nikki
- finding the most AWESOME gift for a certain baby who will arrive in October (nope, can't tell you what it is, 'cause the parents of said baby read this blog! nya-nya!)
- supper at Athena Pizza. No, not amazing food, but it was easy, reasonably priced, and close to where our vehicle was parked.
- wandering around Bow Falls
- showing everyone where I spent a summer as a chambermaid (worst job in the WORLD - do you KNOW how bad I am at cleaning?) at Douglas Fir Resort
- just having a comfortable day with Mom and her hubby, no tensions, easy conversation, and pleasant moods
- watching the sun set over the mountains as we drove back to Calgary. It was rather breathtaking, with grey clouds moving in over bright sparks of orange sun. Perfect end to a great day.

This morning, the kids are at the wrap-up/family day for vbs. Marcel, bbb, and Mom are there with them. h8s2cln is muttering about patterns and fabric as she begins to sew her kids "first day of school"outfits. I'm doing "end of vacation" laundry. All is right with the world.

Tomorrow we leave for home. It's been a happy vacation. We are refreshed.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Just pretend you didn't read yesterday's post

I don't mind admitting when I'm wrong, especially when being wrong brings about a better set of circumstances than being right.

At the moment, Mom is in h8s2cln's kitchen with her hands in the bun dough, and Maddie is next to her "helping" her make buns. There are very happy sounds coming out of the kitchen. Grandma's explaining her every move and Maddie's hoping to add water to the dough. Maddie to Grandpa Paul "I'm gonna make my OWN bun and then I'll make YOU one."

It's all good - REAL good! Yesterday, despite my dire predictions, Mom and her hubby showed up with their camper. They're hanging out here with us, and we're going to the mountains tomorrow! AND it's nice and sunny out despite the weatherman's prediction for more rain. Yay! The vacation is back on track, with just a few minor modifications.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Plans are changing

We were supposed to go to the mountains today to camp with my Mom and her husband, but it's rainy, miserable weather, so the camping trip's been cancelled. I'm feeling all conflicted today. I don't mind staying longer with h8s2cln and bbb, but I'm sorry we won't get to hang out with Mom, and I REALLY don't want to leave Alberta without seeing the mountains. The girls will be happy they don't have to miss vbs, though.

Mom wants us to come visit them at her husband's place - the place he's supposed to be selling so that he can move to Manitoba with Mom - but I know we won't easily be able to drag the kids away from here, so I tried to get her to come here instead. Don't think they will though. She sounded so sad on the phone.

Life is complicated sometimes. As much as I want to see Mom, I also want to make my kids happy, and staying here with their cousins is what they want. So I'm torn.

I know this is not much of a blog, but I felt like writing it anyway. The stuff that I won't write much about though, is the stuff that's bubbling beneath the surface - the stuff that gets so complicated when your Mom marries again.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

So far, so good!

I just have a few minutes on a computer before I go out for a movie or coffee with h8s2cln. Thought I'd drop by to give a short trip report - it's been great so far! It started off a little rough - everyone was fighting the morning we left, and the pessimistic side of my brain thought "oh great! We'll be snarking at each other all the way to Alberta!" And then Maddie threw up on the carpet when I was trying to pack. Yeah, a great morning all in all! But once we got on the road, everyone relaxed, and before long we were having lots of fun. Here are a few brief highlights...

1. Stopping in Souris, wandering across a long suspension bridge - I think it's either the longest in Manitoba or in Canada. After that, we picniced in the park and the kids played in the playground.

2. When we got to Weyburn, we found out there were fireworks that night across from the hotel. We scouted out a great spot and watched the show.

3. My presentation at the Wheat Fest ecumenical service went really well. I quite enjoy public speaking. It was just a short presentation, and too close to the end of a long service (the crowd was getting a bit restless), but it was fun none-the-less.

4. Another picnic in a road-side park somewhere in Saskatchewan. Maddie peed in the bush and then spent most of the time dancing around in the grass with a naked butt. Oh the joy of being three.

5. We spent a night at our friends Julie and Bruce's near Brooks, Alberta. Julie is my oldest friend - well, not the OLDEST, but she's been my friend since I was about a year old - longer than anyone. We spent a good part of Monday hanging out with them at Dinosaur Park, wandering around the canyon which is like a smaller version of the grand canyon. Hiking, checking out the archaeology exhibits (dinosaur bones), ice cream, playground - what a great day! Their three boys are very close to the ages of our three girls. Maddie developed a huge crush on 9 year old Kyle. Last night, when I tucked her in bed she said "I liked the older boy. I think I have a crush on him." And then she giggled. :-)

6. I think there are only one or two people who'd stay up late with me and get all obsessive about sewing costumes for the kids. Thanks h8s2cln - it was a hoot! Our kids and their cousins were going to a day camp/vbs Tuesday morning, and the theme was 50s, so guess who decided to sew 4 circle skirts! And because sewing ONLY skirts would not be nearly enough for our obsessive costume-making brains, we sewed appliques to t-shirts (5, since B got one too), and made matching bandanas. Look for pictures on a blog near you. Tomorrow they're clowns, but thankfully h8s2cln already has enough of those costumes. If I'm up until 1:00 tonight, I DON'T want it to be because I'm sewing!

7. Since all 5 kids went to vbs, and h8s2cln and bbb were at work, Marcel and I had a morning alone to finally celebrate our anniversary. Breakfast at Ricky's and then a few hours alone in the house. One word - JACUZZI! And no, you DON'T need any more details than THAT! Let's just say, 12 years and we've STILL GOT IT, BABY!

8. Oh, and one other thing I forgot to mention - the girls were great in the car! We weren't sure how it would go, since this was the first road trip with the car, and hence less room than the van. But they really impressed us with their patience. Don't ask me why, but their favourite game was playing ping-pong with Maddie's head. The strangest thing is it was MADDIE's favourite too!

9. Oh, and miles and miles of prairies. A particularly beautiful view given the amount of moisture that's fallen this year, and the fact that many crops are ready for harvest. Breathtaking. Especially the sunflowers stretching toward the sun.

More to come - the mountains tomorrow, camping with Mom and her hubby. See ya!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

My turn

Well, after whining about everyone going on trips except me, it's finally our turn to pack up the car and head off on the road. I LOVE road trips. I like miles and miles of prairie. I like picnics at the little road-side picnic areas. I hope the girls are little troupers and don't get too bored in the back of the car, 'cause I DON'T love the sound of fighting children.

Our first stop is Weyburn, Saskatchewan. I'll be making a presentation there tomorrow morning at an ecumenical service for their Wheat Fest. From there we're heading to Alberta to visit family and hopefully some friends. There's a good chance we'll also end up camping in the mountains. Yay!

I may or may not be on a computer at some point, but in the meantime, if you're bored and looking for more distractions to help you kill time while you should be doing something else (eg. laundry, work, packing, washing the floor - you know what I mean), feel free to read some of my favourite posts - most of them are from the days when the only person reading this blog was my sister...

The God of my Understanding


100 things about me


It's good to know

And if you're REALLY bored, I put my whole journal from my trip to Africa online - it starts around February 8.

Bye for now!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Happy Anniversary, Buddy!

(Our anniversary is on Sunday, but since we’ll be far from a computer then, I thought I’d post this today.)

Hard to believe it’s been twelve years already, Buddy. Twelve years of sharing a bed, taking turns cooking meals, helping each other through the rough spots, raising children together, wondering whether we’ll be able to pay the bills, going camping… and all those little moments where even the silence was comfortable.

We’ve been through a lot in twelve years.

- We’ve lived in 3 homes and owned 2 of them.
- We’ve conceived 5 children, given birth to 4, and got to raise 3. And aren’t they the three most beautiful girls you’ve ever seen?
- We’ve travelled to Mexico, Alberta (lots of times), B.C., Denver (remember all that snow?), San Fransisco, Quebec City (oooh baby, wasn’t that fun?), the Black Hills (a couple of times), and lots of places in between.
- We’ve done a lot of camping, even when the girls were really little. Julie’s first night in a tent was at 2 weeks old.
- We spent two summers at White Lake in our camper. We had lots of campfires, ate lots of s’mores and camper breakfasts, and walked to Rainbow Falls lots of times.
- We’ve survived several job transitions for both of us.
- You went back to school and got your GED.
- You surprised your family and friends and even YOURSELF when you took the greatest risk of your life, quit work and went to University. So glad you did. And I’m not the least bit surprised you’re pulling off A’s and B’s. You’re one of the smartest people I know.
- We lost our son Matthew, and through it all, our marriage and faith got stronger.
- We found a great church where our whole family feels loved and supported.
- We watched our siblings get married, have babies, adopt babies, get divorced and re-married, move in with us and move out again… and we still get along with ALL of them.
- You finally got diagnosed with sleep apnea, and after years of living with your snoring, I’m so happy to fall asleep to the gentle hum of your CPAP machine. And you’re happy to wake up without a headache.
- You supported me through quitting a good job with the government and following my heart to a new, exciting (though lower-paying) opportunity.
- You patiently watched the kids alone while I jumped on so many planes to travel to work commitments (including a three week trip to Africa).
- We made it through the deep dark days of your depression. When you decided life wasn’t worth it and tried to check out, I didn’t know how our marriage would survive. But we patched together the pieces and struggled through. Now we’re stronger than we were.
- You cheered me on whenever I tried to be a writer. You’ve always been my biggest fan club.
- Two years ago, the day after we celebrated our tenth anniversary, we lost Dad. I remember how you held me up when the phone call came and my legs crumpled beneath me. I think it was almost as hard on you as it was on me. He’d come to mean a lot to you and I know you miss those political discussions over Time magazine and instant coffee.
- We’ve had to play nurse-maid for each other on several occasions. You’ve had to pick me up off the floor numerous times when I’ve passed out from vomiting. Something in my crazy brain makes my body shut down when I throw up – I know you were rather surprised the first time you saw it happen, but now you calmly stand behind me to catch me when I fall. Bless you for that.
- Your brother married my sister and now they’re having a baby with the same genes as ours. Who’d have thought, twelve years ago, when they stood at our sides and signed our marriage license, that we’d be at their sides doing the same for them 11 years later?
- We watched our oldest 2 girls start school. Hard to believe how much they’ve grown.
- We went to several funerals for grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and cousins. And of course our son and dad.
- We lost my grandma and your mémère. I know you still miss mémère – she was an amazing woman.
- We’ve owned 4 vehicles – the Blazer, 2 vans, and now the car.
- We’ve shared a bed approximately 4300 nights (give or take a few when you snored too much or I was travelling).
- We’ve eaten a lot of meals together, usually taking turns cooking and cleaning up afterwards. Now that you’re home more than I am, you cook more, and I’m grateful for that.
- We’ve had a lot of good discussions, about politics, kids, world affairs, you name it.

I love you, buddy. You’re so good to me. Twelve years ago, we promised to love, honour, and support each other through all kinds of ups and downs. It hasn’t always been easy – sometimes the road gets bumpier than we could have imagined – but it’s been worth it.

Happy Anniversary and may we see many more of these. I want to grow old with you. I want the journey to stretch out in front of us for many years to come.

Another tag - this one from CCAP

Because I’m bored and am looking for yet another way of avoiding work, I’m accepting CCAP’s tag.

What I was doing 10 years ago today:
I was pregnant with Nikki – my first. I was working at Veterans Affairs Canada for one of the worst bosses I’ve EVER had. I would come home in tears sometimes, and Marcel would threaten to go and punch her in the nose for me. She’d never had kids (or any meaningful relationship, so far as I could tell) so had no way of relating to my pregnancy. She called it “my condition”, because that’s the closest she could come to making reference to the fact that I was going to have a baby. Right around this time, 10 years ago, I ended up in the hospital because I started bleeding profusely. It was a rather stressful time, but it ended well.

What I was doing 5 years ago:
Pregnant again. My third pregnancy. This time with Matthew. I was doing well, at a job I enjoyed. Back at Veterans Affairs after leaving for awhile (mostly to escape “boss from hell”), and this time with a boss that I loved. Little did I know that within weeks, I would end up flat on my back in a hospital bed, hoping my child would survive. This one didn’t end as well.

What I was doing 1 year ago:
Not pregnant this time. Been there, done that. I’d just started a new job – the one I’m in now, which is the best job I’ve ever had. Even though I’d just started in June, they still let me take my holidays in August, which were mostly spent hanging out at White Lake where we had our camper parked for the summer. Right around this time, we had our church campout, but it was a sad disappointment because the weather was horrible and everyone went home early.

What I was doing Yesterday:
Working. With only 2 days to go before holidays, so obviously not in a very productive mode. In the evening, Nikki and I went on a mommy-daughter date – I took her to a book reading for a friend of mine who’s had a novel published (wish I could be HER!).

What I will be doing Tomorrow:
HOLIDAYS! The beginning of 2 weeks away. We’ll be driving to Weyburn, Saskatchewan where I’ll be speaking at an ecumenical service at their Wheat Fest on Sunday morning. It’s just a short presentation about Canadian Foodgrains Bank (the place I work), and then it’s off to Calgary for a visit with bbb and h8s2cln and the kids.

5 Snacks I enjoy:
Almost anything. I’m a bit of a snack-oholic. Sour cream and onion chips (yeah, CCAP, I STILL like them after all these years). Popcorn, Twizzlers, taco chips with salsa and sour cream, CCAP’s corn dip on taco chips.

5 Adult Beverages:
If by “Adult” beverages you mean alcoholic, well, I don’t drink much so my selection is limited. An occasional cooler in the summer, and once in awhile a ceasar or glass of wine. Other than that, I like milk (boring, I know, but I happen to like it! Sometimes I add a little kahlua to spice it up a bit), coke, iced tea, and Slurpees (yes, my kids and I contribute to the fact that Winnipeg is the Slurpee capital of the WORLD).

5 bands I know the lyrics to:
The Waifs, The Wailin’ Jennys, U2, Jann Arden, Sarah McLachlan

5 Things I would do with $100,000.00:
Pay off debts, go on a trip, buy some new living room furniture (can you believe the last stuff we bought fell apart after only FIVE years!), buy my kids each something special, buy a digital SLR camera

5 Locations I would run away to:
Somewhere close to water – preferably a warm ocean. Brazil, Tanzania, Korfu, New Zealand.

5 Bad habits I have:
Too many to name, but here are a few…slothfulness (sometimes I’m such a lazy slob I can barely stand myself!), eating too much, not flossing, not putting the laundry away, wasting too much time at work (gulp). 5 Things I love doing:Traveling, cycling, reading, writing, eating

5 Things I would never wear:
Anything that’s too tight (not very fond of my more-than-generous curves), stilleto heels (ouch – I’m more into comfort), excessive frills or flowers (as my daughter Julie says “I’m not much of a girlie-girl”), cropped t-shirts that show off my belly, string bikini (unless I get a boob reduction, and even then, I doubt it)

5 TV shows I like:
Not that I’m trying to be self-righteous, but I really don’t watch much TV. There have been times in my life when I’ve watched more, but nowadays, by the time the kids are in bed, I usually prefer a quiet book to a noisy TV. Some of the shows I watch occasionally are more by default – because Marcel likes them - so if I’m around I watch them too. CSI, Law and Order, Without a Trace.

5 Movies I like:
I have a lousy memory so there are lots of movies I’ve seen and really liked, but then forgot about them before too long. Let’s see if I can come up with 5… The Music Box, Dead Poets Society, Whale Rider, Finding Neverland, Crash.

5 Famous People I would like to meet:
Really not that interested in famous people. I’ve been trying to convince my kids lately that Hillary Duff and Lindsay Lohan are no more interesting than they are, but they’re not quite buying it. I suppose if I had to pick “famous people” it would be people I respect for their writing or thinking. People I feel like I could have an interesting conversation with, not just a stammering trip-over-your-tongue “duh, hello, I LOVE your movies” kind of thing. Like maybe Anne Lamott, Brian McLaren, Sue Monk Kidd, Julia Cameron, Philip Yancey.

5 Biggest joys at the moment:
Riding my bike – especially with Marcel and the girls, walking to 7-11 for Slurpees, looking at the moon with Julie through her new telescope, goofing around with Maddie, making hemp bracelets with Nikki.

5 Favourite toys:
I don’t have much that I would call “toys”. Some of my greatest posessions are books, but I really wouldn’t call them toys. My camera and my bike rank pretty high up there as some of my favourite posessions. To round it off, I guess the computer and the car. Mostly the car is functional, but I do love an occasional “just for fun” ride.

5 people I tag:
Let’s see… who hasn’t done this one yet… ah, what the heck – whoever wants it, just go ahead and tag yourself.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Tag from Dale

Dale over at Mimico tagged me with 10 songs I'm enjoying these days. Here they are. Feel free to tag yourself if you want to join.

World’s on Fire – Sarah McLachlan (one of the greatest videos I’ve ever seen – look for it on her website - but the song stands on its own without the video)
One Voice – Wailin’ Jennys (yes, AC, you really should get the album! Worth every penny!)
Dad’s Yard – Catie Curtis (just heard this one at the Folk Festival and haven’t bought the cd yet, but I will)
One Step Closer to Knowing – U2 (that’s how I feel most of the time – if nothing else - if “truth” remains elusive, at least I’m getting one step closer to knowing)
Where No One Knows Me – Jann Arden (yeah, I’m a BIG Jann Arden fan, and can hardly wait for her concert in October – here’s hoping CCAP doesn’t go into labour that day!)
London Still – The Waifs (gives me the chills – in a good way. Wish I could see them in concert again, but they’re busy having babies)
Anniversary Song – Cowboy Junkies (haven’t listened to it in awhile, but it’s a long-time favourite)
Blessed are the Poor – Steve Bell (I’ve listened to this song about 100 times lately ‘cause I was using it for a multi-media presentation. I’d say it’s worth mentioning if I still like it after that many listens.)
Kings of Summer Street – Bob Bennett (and I can’t mention Kings of Summer Street without mentioning the partner song, We Were the Kings – the first one is about childhood, the second is about adulthood and the loss of a childhood friend. Get the kleenex out before you turn this one on.)
Fields of Gold – Sting (ya can’t go wrong with a Sting song thrown into the mix)

I just realized that, with the exception of U2, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing all of the above play live. Lucky me. Just for fun, and not because it is part of the meme, here are some of my memories of the concerts…

Sting – went to that one when Marcel and I were dating, probably 14 years ago. Would you believe it – HE FELL ASLEEP! That was back in the days of long days driving truck and living with sleep apnea before he knew he had sleep apnea. Thankfully, I don't think he'd fall asleep at a concert now.

Jann Arden – LOVE her concerts. She has such an incredible mix of powerful lyrics and bust your gut humour. Her stories crack you up and her songs can make you cry.

Cowboy Junkies – for some reason I don’t understand, they’d removed all the seats in the Westend Cultural Centre for this concert. Perhaps they oversold the tickets. Whatever the case, we had to sit on the floor, with no back support for the whole concert. I’d just spent the whole day moving (we were moving into our current house at the time), so my back could barely stand it. It was a good concert, but the strongest memory I have of it was my sore back.

Katie Curtis – I just saw her at the Folk Festival and loved her! My favourite new discovery. I saw her at a group stage, and then, because I liked her so much, staked out a spot near the stage for her solo concert. Amazing!

Steve Bell – (this isn’t so much about his concerts, though I do enjoy those) I’ve gotten to know Steve personally in the last few months, and the more I know him the more I respect him. Down to earth, humble, deep thinker, compassionate, and downright classy guy.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It's way past the weekend, but...

I’m back from an extra-long weekend. We went away for the long weekend (Monday was a holiday in Canada) and then I took Tuesday off too, so it felt like a mini-holiday. It was a lovely weekend, all in all. It was our first camping trip of the summer. For some reason (partly because we didn’t have much nice weather until a few weeks ago) we haven’t done much camping this summer. Hopefully we’ll get a little more in before the fall.

We started the weekend off with a visit to the Austin Thresherman’s Reunion, an old family tradition that we haven’t done very regularly as adults (only twice, I think) but used to enjoy when we were kids. My whole family was there (9 adults, 7 kids), with the exception of my Mom’s husband. And Marcel’s Dad came along too. It was a real treat to have everyone there, hanging out together in a place with a lot of memories.

After a day at the Reunion/Rodeo, we went camping at Spruce Woods with some members of the family. We were going to visit Spirit Sands, but with the temperature hovering around 32 degrees none of us was too eager to exert any energy in a desert. So, instead, we mostly hung out at the beach.

Here are a few highlights of the weekend. Mostly good, but some a little sad.

1. Sharing a picnic with the family in the parking lot before the parade. My family (especially my sister) knows how to throw a kick-ass picnic, even in a parking lot! There were 4 or 5 kinds of salads, several kinds of sandwich fixings, cinnamon buns, rhubarb dessert, watermelon, grapes… ummm… my mouth is watering from the memories

2. Watching Marcel’s dad – like a kid in a candy shop – surrounded by old tractors and machinery.

3. Watching the stooking contest and knowing my Dad could have kicked any of their butts! The delightful, and oh so right, conclusion of this year’s contest was that the 2 gentlemen in their eighties were victorious over all the young up-starts, including the politician who was there for a photo-op (Gina, I’ll try to post a picture once I get them developed). In a grand victory moment, one of the old codgers picked the other one up and held him over his shoulders.

4. One of the moments that made me chuckle was when Mr. Photo-Op Politician bent down to say hello to Maddie. You know the moment - the kissing-baby thing that all politicians think will win them votes. Well, Maddie, one of the friendliest kids on the planet - who happily tells strangers the names of all her sisters, the colour of our new car, her favourite toy, and whether or not she had a bath that morning - basically ignored him. Guess she recognizes when someone's a competitor for all the attention!

5. Watching the barrel racing in the rodeo. When I was a kid, I dreamed of riding in the barrel race. I loved riding horses, and barrel racing was about as close to glamour, speed, and excitement as I could imagine in my sheltered rural life. The thrill of the race, the speed of the horses, the long hair flowing out from under the cowboy hats – it was magical - both then and now.

6. Ice cream. And MORE ice cream. It was a hot weekend – just the kind of weekend for ice cream. We had some at the Thresherman’s Reunion, some after camping, and then we ended the whole long weekend with one final round of ice cream last night at Banana Boat. My favourite, though, was the visit to Agassiz Drive-In in Neepawa – an old haunt from my youth. A summer growing up wasn’t complete without at least one trip to Agassiz Drive-In. The only down-side to all that ice cream is that it means your three-year-old is ALWAYS sticky.

7. Making s’mores around the campfire. Again, a rather sticky mess with 5 children around, but still worth it.

8. Sleeping in a tent. I love camping and I usually sleep quite well in a tent. We haven’t tented much since we bought a camper, but I do enjoy getting back to the “simple” way. The only problem this time around was that our air mattress had a leak, so by the morning, Marcel and I were sleeping on the ground. We thought we found the leak the next day, but that night we ended up on the ground again. Oh well – it’s all part of the fun.

9. Hangin’ around at the beach. Sunday was mostly a lazy day. It was too hot to do much else, so we found a bit of shade, followed it around the tree – moving our chairs as the shade moved - and spent the day there. The kids had fun, and Maddie made lots of new friends on the beach. (By the end of the day, we thought she’d adopted a new mother, but thankfully, she still came home with me.)

10. Camper breakfast. Usually, when we go camping, Marcel makes at least one “pull-out-all-the-stops” breakfast, with sausages, eggs, hashbrowns, and toast. The girls have taken to calling it “camper breakfast”. Yummy.

11. A visit to my Dad’s grave. Dad is buried in my hometown, which is nearly 2 hours away from where we live now, so we don’t visit often. This was the first time I saw his grave with the headstone. It was a little strange to see his name engraved in concrete – made the whole thing seem so permanent. Even though you KNOW it’s permanent when they die, you don’t really want to be reminded of it, ‘cause then, occasionally, your mind can still trick you into believing it’s temporary.

12. A few moments alone at the site where Dad died. He was killed in a farming accident along the highway, so we erected a cross and planted a few flowers there. We got there a little earlier than the others, so I got a few moments alone, sitting on the rocks, with my Dad. For me, the emotions surrounding the loss of my dad are more pure when I experience them alone. As soon as my Mom (and others, but mostly my Mom) arrives, it feels different. I clam up a bit, because I don’t know how to be real in the face of her emotions. Those moments alone were just what I needed.

13. Having lunch with my sister and sister-in-law and then driving to Selkirk with my sister-in-law. It was nice, for a brief moment, being the “ladies who lunch”. Nice to sneak away from the kids for awhile. Nice to have a few moments with 2 of my favourite women. Nice to drive home from Selkirk with no-one but me in the car.

14. Going to a late-night movie with my brother. Batman Begins. Better than I would have expected – some good summer fun with a few good lines thrown in to satisfy the literary part of my brain. And it was fun hangin' out with BBB (who reads this blog all the time but NEVER comments - hint, hint!)

There were other things – some of which I may blog about some other time – but that’s enough for now. I’m all full of warm fuzzies now, remembering.