Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thoughts For Our Aging, Declining Church Populations

"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire."
--Gustav Mahler

"When we hold back our best efforts because of what happened in the past we are letting the past decide the future."
--Bob Bell, How to be Here

"Courage is nothing more than taking one step more than you think you can."
--Holly Lisle 

  

Spontaneity is Good for Me....Rats.....

I struggle with spontaneity on a small scale.  I really do.  BIG TIME spontaneity I can deal with easily and even get excited about....things like finding an email invite at 2am asking me to raise my own financial support to go to Japan for a year and to answer the call immediately, resulting in a phone call to the passport office and to the local realtor by 9am that same morning to get paperwork going and to get my house put up for sale by the following day.  

Yup, spontaneous, immediate, complete life changes don't bother me one whit.  

BUT ask me to drop a dust rag in mid-afternoon to drive across town for an unscheduled errand and I fall completely apart.  Go figure.... 

That is what happened today.  I had just washed down the bathroom with a combination of clove oil and bleach and was mid way through dusting my office as part of my plan to spend the afternoon cleaning the upstairs for the week, when my husband called desperately needing a ride to the north end of the city to order some office supplies for his work place.  NO!!!  I didn't have time to do that and still complete my housework goals.  NOOOOOO!!!!  WHY???????

Well, of course I dropped the dustrag, dumped out the wash water and headed over with the car to pick my husband up and take him to the office supply warehouse.  Sigh....  I felt so stupid for feeling "put upon" to comply with such a simple and necessary request.  I was more than happy to help my husband out.  I could have just dropped the car off for him, walked the 10 minutes home and resumed my work here, but one look at his pale, weary face and I knew I was going to do the driving so he could relax a bit.  I admit, although I was not upset with him for needing the help, I felt just a bit crabby about having to give up my own goals for the day and reschedule my tomorrow to make this drive.    Blah!!!

Things worked out very well, naturally.  We got to the warehouse and the order was made and delivery arranged.  In the process I also was able to get myself a new office chair!!!  I have been unable to sit comfortably at the computer for some weeks now as my old chair with its old, flattened out back padding, is not supporting my back any more.  Putting a pillow behind my back worked for awhile, but not lately.  Back pain has been a thing of the past since I lost so much weight, but due to old spinal fractures the muscles need a lot of support when I am sitting to maintain the pain free status.  I don't enjoy this pain and have been so happy to be rid of it, but with the deterioration of my chair it has been coming back almost every day.  Having an office chair with arms is not comfortable for me.  I tend to rest my elbows on those arms for some reason, despite the discomfort, and then my shoulder muscles tense up and my back hurts even more.

I couldn't afford a new chair and I knew it so didn't even bother to look at the many in stock, just sat at the front of the warehouse in a comfy chair waiting for my husband to complete his order.  As I looked about I realized I was sitting next to a bunch of clearance items and one of those items was the most hideously coloured office chair ever created; the back pad netting the most putrid mustard yellow I have ever seen and not enhanced by the film of dust covering it.  Then I saw the price tag....PRICE??? What price??? The management was practically giving the thing away!   

Just for a lark I dusted it off with the hem of my housework shirt and tried it out.  O my....O MY......the back padding hugged my lower back in just the right spot.  I checked the bar that raises and lowers the seat.  It worked just fine.  I checked the bar that moves the back of the chair and locks it into various positions.  It worked just fine too.  I checked the rest of the chair for marks, breakage, defects and could find nothing.  When my husband appeared a few moments later I asked him to look at it and he couldn't find any problem with it either.  Then the salesman came over and I asked him why the chair was practically on give away.  He gave me the most odd look and said, "Uh....have you checked out the colour of that chair???  There is no way that chair is going to sell in this store. No professional office worker in their right mind would want to be seen using that chair!"  He checked it all out again with me and assured me there was nothing wrong with the chair, the management bosses just wanted it out of there as quickly as possible.  I was more than happy to accommodate them!! 

The chair is a dreadful colour, it is ugly as sin, it has no arms attached to it, BUT it is brand new, it suits my back very well, not having my arms resting on chair arms is far more comfortable for me  and I am sitting in it at this very moment pounding the keyboard to post this blog entry.

Maybe today is a good clue for me to be more prepared to enjoy the times of small spontaneity and not just the huge life changing ones. Okay God, I will try to enjoy those times more in the future.  Helping out my exhausted husband was worth dropping my housework schedule for all by itself, but I also received a bonus for being willing to make a minor change of plan. Very nice........

In other news: my mother finally went to the doctor about her swollen painful wrist that she has been absolutely convinced is the result of arthritis. When we visited her in June the wrist was so massive I was convinced she had broken a bone in there but she refused to go to the doctor.  FINALLY the pain got so bad that 2 weeks ago she went to her GP and he sent her for an x-ray. She dipsy doodled around for a few more days before giving in to my Dad's demands that she go for the test.  Today she went in for results and sure enough, a badly broken bone in there mended incorrectly because she didn't go for help when the pain first started and now she is paying the price.  She has massaging cream to take some of the inflammation out of the tendons, some oral meds for a couple of weeks to help the muscles relax and a great plastic sleeve she is to wear when she does housework, goes shopping or is holding her book to read at bedtime. The rest of the time she is to remove it.  The doctor read her the riot act because she was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis only a month before the wrist fracture would have occurred but she didn't seem to understand her bones are now in the same dreadful condition as Dad's and mine.  It seems that after talking to her doctor today the reality of her condition has finally sunk in.  Thank you Lord!!  Apparently she is also waiting to be accepted to receive the same injected drug that I get for my osteo. Please Lord, let that acceptance come soon so she can get started!!!  If she falls down..........ooh, I don't want to think about it!  Please Lord, keep her safe.

Our son is getting an all expenses paid vacation in The Hamptons at the moment...tough life but someone has to live it, right? hahahaha  Way to go son!

 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Happy "Friends Kind of Day"

I love days  like this!  Beside the beautiful weather I have had some beautiful conversations with friends I rarely get to see any more.

Today my husband and I had brunch, delicious as usual and thanks Breakfast Bistro for the great food and service, with a couple who are former priests in this diocese, now serving elsewhere.  They are on holidays and we are thrilled they chose to include us in their travel itinerary.  We laughed and chattered like 4 magpies while we dallied over our brunch, taking as long as possible a visiting time before they absolutely had to leave for their next destination. 

This afternoon a friend from Moose Jaw gave me a call. She has been away travelling about the country for the past several weeks and I have missed her very much.  It has been weeks and weeks since we have had a chance to get together.  I so enjoy hearing about her adventures because we share a similar sense of humour and have the ability to see humour in almost everything that happens.  She has another very busy week next week and then I am hoping to go and visit her before she returns to her job in early September.  

Another Moose Jaw pal called me too...from her holiday cabin! She has been thinking of me and wanted to share some insights from a book she is reading. How lovely to be thought of from afar.

The break this morning with his colleagues was good for my husband. Although in some ways it was a working brunch, he still had a chance to enjoy the social aspect of the visit, plunked down into the middle of his overly busy week.  He worked a nearly 14 hour day yesterday, so I think he more than deserved at least a few minutes of non-work related conversation over his meal today.

Tomorrow evening is a party over at the home of some colleague friends. Their grown up child is leaving home to attend film school so we will go and celebrate the achievements leading up to this exciting event.

Today I received a notice from the community choir I have been singing with that our first rehearsal for this term is going to be on August 27th....wow, that is a couple of weeks earlier than usual start time for the autumn.  I don't feel "mentally prepared" for it yet! hahaha  The rehearsal/concert venue has changed and that is going to be a big problem for me as there is no bus that goes anywhere near the place and certainly not on a Sunday schedule that works for my rehearsal time frames.  The bus times to our old venue worked perfectly for me and on nice days it is in walking distance as well. I have a lot of stress all ready trying to get to that same building on Sunday mornings for church to dispatch my transition team duties...the idea of having to find rides twice on Sundays to the same location, more weeks than not, is not a thrilling one. Guess I will just see how it works out.   That is the only rain that fell on my parade today.  Ooh....this reminds me that I need a ride to church THIS Sunday morning...better get on that!

Dinner time again.........well, that is okay.  I actually have the meal almost completely prepared in advance and it will only take 5 minutes to have everything ready when my husband finally gets home from work.  Yay me! haha

The Most Beautiful Summer

This summer has been about the best one my husband and I have ever experienced on the prairies.

I have always wondered what it would be like to live somewhere that receives very little rain and has sunshine and warm temperatures nearly every day. This summer I finally had that experience right here in Regina. I have to say that, other than struggling with a few of the days with the most intense heat, I have truly enjoyed it. The lack of rain nipped the mosquito breeding in the bud. In June I received a handful of bites and then all the mosquito population disappeared and have not returned. There have been more wind free and light breeze days this summer than I have experienced in our now thirteen years on the prairies. Oh if all subsequent summers could be like this. The over abundance now of wasps is the only real outdoor hassle at the moment, but the fake nest we hung on our porch railing is keeping them away from the porch and back door.

If our holidays were less than spectacular, they were filled with good family visits and good times with friends we have not seen in several years. We didn't have to go far from home to enjoy ourselves.

It has been a good summer for slowly growing some new friendships here as well. Not having to depend so heavily on friends from out of town and province has been a treat.

The lack of rain has kept our leaking basement dry. Going away for a weekend of work and ministry has been so much less stressful knowing we will not likely return to ruined items in our basement storage. Once the pre-winter rains begin, the ferreting out of new leaks and soaking the water up as quickly as possible will start up again, so this three month break from that worry has been a real treat!

That being said, I feel very badly for farmers who are watching yields and crop values drop this year due to the lack of moisture. My enjoyment of our late summer weather is tempered somewhat in knowing what is so great for me with the dry weather is harming them.

Today is another beauty of a day. We are looking at another week or more of manageable day time highs between +26C to +28C. There are no blasting winds at the moment. The sun is shining brightly. My husband is working at home for the first part of the morning, then we are meeting former colleagues for a working brunch. We are going to the Breakfast Bistro which always puts on a delicious meal. My mouth has recovered from yesterday's dental work and I am looking forward to brunch and a good time of connecting with our colleague friends.

Another pleasant summer day awaits!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Step Two: Crown Prep Complete

My crown preparation appointment at the dentist this morning went very well.  The temporary crown sits in all its glory, there in my mouth and looking far better than the overfilled, cracked, yellowed mess that was there previously.  My "fakes" are all going to look so much better than even the unfilled originals!  

As usual the procedure was pretty much painless.  In fact, I was tired enough that the ebb and flow of the drilling buzz actually put me to sleep for a minute or two right there in the chair.  The dentist had a good giggle over that one, but advised me to stay awake for the remainder of the appointment. hahaha

This dentist has a way of making her patients feel so special.  She told me today how crabby she was when she got to work and how relaxed she became when she looked at her schedule and realized that cheery me was her first appointment of the day.  Talk about knowing how to flatter an old gal! She told me I am so tough through the painful bits (WHAT painful bits?? I know pain and there is very little resembling pain in that place!) and am so happy that I am her favourite patient.  I am certain each of her patients is told they are her favourite and I suppose it is stupid to let that make me feel extra good about going for dental work, but it really is a great con game to use on patients who all experience discomfort and sometimes true pain in the process of dental repair.

A week from now I return for my permanent crown.  I had a quiet chuckle as the dentist and hygienist talked to me about making sure we got the colour of the crown just right. hahahaha  I understand it is nice to have your teeth all matching for colour, really I do, but on the list of things I deal with every day, getting the exactly matching hue on all the crowns of my teeth isn't even on that list.  I so do not care.  It is nice though to be asked and to have my opinion considered about cosmetic details since I crawl into that office in old jeans, tee shirts and no make up for every appointment, looking like anything to do with outward appearance in public is not in my skill set.  There is nothing worse than having mascara running down my face when my eyes water from holding my mouth open for a couple of hours. Getting mascara and shadow in my eyes is far more painful than anything the dentist has to offer.

After my appointment I went to the bank and paid the utility bills I didn't bother to drive to the bank for last night.  Now I think I will watch last night's episode of "So You Think You Can Dance".  Maybe I will doze off again for a couple of minutes.  The suite was a bit too warm last night and I had a restless sleep.  We had a bit of well appreciated rain, but then there was no wind afterward. The air was almost completely still, so the temperature stayed high most of the night.

I all ready tried going outside with a scratchy sponge and cleanser to remove the dead bugs from our car bumper and windshield, but the wasps appeared within seconds and I was barely able to wipe off the first squirt of spray before I found myself running quickly back into the suite to avoid being stung.  Even when I was leaving the dental office to come home, I had to scoot a wasp out from inside the car who appeared the very second I opened the door.  Wasps...blaahhh!  Even my upper lip being frozen into a full sneer didn't scare them away.  I will get my husband to wipe the bug guts off tomorrow morning before he goes to work and before the wasps are out in such great numbers. They don't seem to bother him and he isn't afraid of them.

Tomorrow we are going for a pub lunch with some colleagues formerly of this diocese and who we miss very much since they moved elsewhere.  That is something fun to look forward to.  They will have a whole new set of adventures to share with us.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Kind of a Nowhere Going Day

I had the best sleep last night!  It more than made up for the previous night's spider battling disaster.

Today has been kind of a lazy sort of day and that is all right.  It means I will be relaxed for my early morning dental appointment tomorrow.

My husband had a good meeting with one of the canoe trip planning buddies this morning while I did some banking and shopping. After a tasty chicken sandwich on rosemary bread, along with a quinoa and onion salad for lunch, we spent some time on our computers, then went over to my husband's office.  He wanted to get some preliminary work done for an electrician who is going to be in the building tomorrow fishing wires for new plug-ins and other small finishing up jobs so all the office staff can move into their new spaces next week. I was able to assist in locating the path of several old and new wires and cables, as well has have a great little visit with another office staffer, also cheating on her supposed day off by coming in to get caught up on a few things.

Today the skies above have been alternating between brightly sunny and overcast with dark grey clouds.  Rain was forecast for first thing this morning, during one of the bright and sunny periods, so of course not a drop of it descended.  Perhaps later this evening?  I am hoping a good rain will loosen up some of the insect "guts" all over our front car bumper so I can wipe them off by tomorrow afternoon.  I tried to do it earlier today, but the wasps were out enjoying the bright sunshine and opportunity to feast on the dead bugs adorning the front of the car, so I gave it up rather quickly.

Not sure if we will do much of interest this evening.  My husband has a huge committee meeting at work tomorrow and will want to double check his agenda items etc. He is tired today, but not exhausted. He is encouraged by all he was able to accomplish at work last week and in the car on his laptop as we drove around this past weekend.  I may slip out after supper to the bank once again because the utility bills arrived today and since we have several other committments this week it would be nice to have to them paid and forgotten about for another month.  Maybe I feel too lazy today to bother.  Maybe it is okay to just be lazy for a day.

I soon need to choose between cooking a small pork loin strip or some rock fish fillets for supper.  Maybe I will opt for the fish.  A protein dish that takes no more than 6 minutes in total in the grill pan is kind of an appealing option on a lazy day.  I am thawing a carton of my husband's chickpea and potato soup to have for lunch tomorrow as it will be soft and gentle on my temporary crown.  I have some of my own pasta sauce thawing for the dinner meal tomorrow.  There is cooked chicken in the refrigerator.  So, lots of options for our lunches and dinners for the next two days.

Right now my husband and sister on talking on the phone, attempting to plan a time to get together with other family and scatter the ashes of their mother and her brother, the uncle they were closest to growing up. It may have to wait until the spring as much as it sounds like everyone would prefer to do it as soon as possible.  The event will likely take place in Saskatchewan and anytime after the end of September is pretty bleak in this province. If they do wait until the spring it could be less depressing.  They are good planners. It will all work out just fine.

Our son will be finishing up his first temporary job by the middle of this week or so. Then it is off to his boss's condo in The Hamptons for a few days of rest with the fellow's family.  Tough life but someone has to do it. hahahaha  So happy for the son to be able to enjoy the spectacular scenery, beautiful sand and water sports as well as stay in a posh condo for a time.  It is incredibly nice of these people to include him as one of their family every time he goes to NYC.  Amazing!  Thank you Lord! 

Well....rock fish or pork loin?  Better amble off to the kitchen and figure it all out.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A LOOOONNNNNGGGG WEEKEND!

We've been home for about an hour from our ministry weekend.  Driving a ten hour round trip in two days is not so bad, rather normal for most folk around here in fact, but having to wedge two complete church services, plus a baptism, plus an awful lot of great visiting and many fabulous meals in between services does leave one rather cheerily tired when it is all over.  

It was a wonderful weekend all around:  the weather was perfect, sunshine and warmth and manageable traffic levels.  There was more road construction on our route than we had expected so a couple of times we deaked off the main highways and took a series of rumphy, bumphy secondary roads that were mottled with potholes and pavement dips and dives that gave the shock absorbers on our car quite a workout.  ( OK, Lead Foot Lou here must confess that I was travelling on those dreadful excuses for roads VERY VERY quickly to make up lost time so we wouldn't be late for our first committment...and no, I am not going to tell you just how quickly....)It was just like the "old days" when we lived in that area. hahaha  There is some hilly country surrounding those battered old roads and the small hills are still covered in enough green foliage to be interesting to view,  as the roads wind through the South Saskatchewan River valley. 

We were only five minutes late for committment number one. YAY!  The Lord was gracious and I didn't roll the car on the hippy dippy side roads. YAY and THANK YOU JESUS FOR PROTECTING ME FROM MY OWN STUPIDITY!!  (It won't happen again....seriously, it won't. Mercy granted, but lesson learned!) 

We had the most delicious BBQ'd salmon and couscous dinner at the home of our overnight billet.  The visit with those folk was equally delightful after not having much chance to chatter over the past couple of years.  After dinner we went for a walk around the town and were literally almost run down by other friends driving their car facing into the setting sun. hahaha  They missed us, realized it was us, and before we knew it we were inside their new home, taking "the tour" and sharing a wonderful time of blather and laughter.

Our accommodations were lovely, such a comfy bed and complete access to a full suite in the basement of the home.  I was particularly grateful to be able to switch my sleeping space because just before 3am I was awakened by the presence of a HUGE garden spider making itself happily at home in MY bed.  I was so sleepy, so "stunned stupid" by the unhappy awakening that I took a huge swipe at the thing with my shoe, missed it completely and sent it scampering at top speed under the bed.  Ooooh, I detest spiders being in my space indoors!  I sat in the middle of the bed for the next 2 hours with the light on, shoe in hand, wide eyed, paralyzed by the idea that the darned thing could return to the bed at any moment. There was no way I was going to sleep in there once I finally relaxed.  Why changing spaces to the den couch was such a comforting, sleep inducing thought I have no idea because the big hairy spider likely beat me in there and could have easily taken to crawling on me in that space as well.  When I am "stunned stupid" there is no coming out of it until I have more sleep.  I finally fell asleep at about 5:30am, but woke up less than an hour later, flipped on all the den lights and inspected the entire LARGE room floor to ceiling for signs of that spider.  How dumb am I??  I am SO dumb......anyway, I managed to feel all right all day today, even drove the entire way home without my husband's assistance, the same way I drove all the way there the day before. 

I must be improving at this long distance driving stuff by virtue of forcing myself to do it more often this summer than I ever have before.  On the way there my husband was able to pull out his lap top and tweak his sermons and on the way home he was able to alternately sleep, purchase iced cream cones from roadside stands and prepare the agenda for his legislative committee meeting that will happen this coming week.

The services went well.  The baby being baptized couldn't have been better behaved during the pouring of the water over her head and the signing of the cross in oil on her forehead.  She coo'd and giggled and enjoyed the whole rite of passage quite thoroughly.  What fun!  A former parishioner took us out after the second service for a very tasty lunch and a most happy visit. Getting to the second service on time also involved a roller coaster highway ride, but I did drive more slowly....sort of.....I had to slow down to get around a short stretch with abandoned road paving vehicles sitting on the side of the road....does that count?

We arrived home well before dark and immediately upon entering discovered an invitation to a friend's party for this coming Friday evening.  I have a new appetizer I am dying to try out so this will be a perfect occasion to do it. 

My husband has to go to the office at some point tomorrow morning to let some contractors in who are working on the renovation of the interior of the building, but hopes to then be at home for the rest of the day...an almost day off, but not quite. I suspect he will be working on his part for the legislative committee meeting the following day. I will be SO grateful when the coming Diocesan Synod is over....only a couple of more months of this planning stress.  YAY!  

I suppose it would behoove me to head to bed early this evening and do some reading, after losing so much sleep last night.  Wouldn't you know it, hahahaha, we arrived home and the first thing we noticed was the "fake" wasp's next we hung from the back porch railing right before we left.  As I suspected would happen, the local spiders had made full use of it for stringing new webs between it and the railing and banisters.  I have a lot of "dusting" to do in the morning.  As we stood there laughing at the quickness of the spider's industry we realized the creator of that fantastic web was sitting right in the middle of its creation: the apparently same species of spider I had been chasing around my billet bedroom the previous night!  As I watched in horror, the spider detached itself from the web and scuttled in behind the kitchen window frame through a small dent in the siding.  EEEEEKKKK!  I am betting that little dent opening has a direct line into our suite somewhere!  I hope I can sleep tonight!!! hahaha  Aiii yiiii......

Spiders....Creator God...what WERE you thinking????