Monday, January 16, 2017

Amici Choir Regina Needs Basses and Tenors!

Our choir is hoping and praying for some more men to join us.  If you are reading this and you live here and know of some men who might enjoy a casual, pop song kind of choir, let them know they can check us out.  We meet at Knox Metropolitan United Church on Sunday afternoons at 2:15 pm....usually....although for this coming week we meet on Saturday morning, January 21 at 10am to noon.  The main requirements are that you are able to read music, can carry a tune, LOVE to sing and want to commit to regular rehearal attendence and a performance or two come spring.  Come for a rehearsal visit and give our group a try.

This term we have a good mix of songs, some by Canadian composers in honour of Canada's 150th birthday this year.  We will be choosing about ten performance songs from the following that we are trying out:

Both Sides Now
Cat's in the Cradle
Danny Boy
Four Strong Winds
Keep Your Lamp Burning
O Canada
Oye la Musica
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
Pussywillow, Cattails
Sixteen Tons
Time in a Bottle
What  a Wonderful World
Wood River
What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor (yes, really, it is a fun song!)

So, men, come and join us and lend us your voices for a term or two.  The tenors and basses we have would certainly appreciate more support.  We have a marvellous choir director who understands we are not a classically trained bunch of musicians for the most part and who is patient with us as we learn our notes, while not letting us get away with being lazy or inattentive to the task at hand.  It is a friendly group of folk who get on well and who enjoy participating in music together.  Welcome, welcome!

I Don't See the Point.......... getting dressed on freezing cold winter days when I all ready know I will not be going out that day!  I mean, why bind myself up in jeans and teeshirts or whatever when my Mark's Comfy Robe, tatami slippers and a warm pair of wool socks are calling out to me, right?  Of course right!!

Yesterday, Sunday, was a very busy day.  I was allowed to join in with the choir at St. James for the combined service of commissioning for the new priest serving them and my church, St. Philip.  It was great fun, some of the nicest women I have met recently were so welcoming to me and the other singers from St. Philip's.  It was a happy, encouraging service and I certainly do like our new priest, Rev. Yee. 

We enjoyed a delicious sandwich and veggie luncheon afterward with a special cake prepared for the commissioning, the visiting was excellent as we were able to mingle the congregations fairly well to meet and greet each other and share our excitement about some new directions we may be able to go and grow together.

My husband was able to get me home about 7 minutes before my ride to choir practise for Amici arrived to pick me up!  So, I had no time to change out of my skirt and into more comfortable, casual wear.  Shortly after I arrived home from a marvellously encouraging choir practise, my husband decided he needed dinner and wasn't prepared to wait for my cooking attempts, so out we went to Lancaster Taphouse for a delicious usual....

During the entire day I was forced to leave my "church clothes" on and by the time I got ready for bed last night I was ready to wrap my pantyhose around my neck and end it all....goooooood grief those danged things are uncomfortable after being worn for over 12 hours!!  The stocking feet were plasted in wool from the foot of my boots, which also had been worn for the better part of the day.  O my it felt good to wriggle out of the stockings, hang up my suit and crawl into my Mark's Comfy Robe for the rest of the evening.

This morning I kind of lazed around with my husband after we both had a much needed sleep in.  Now I am dressed once again in actual "out of the house" clothing, preparing to head out to do some necessary chores for the week.  I do love his Mondays off as we do lots of little errands together.  Unfortunately he has to work tomorrow, so I am glad he could take a good deal of yesterday afternoon and evening off instead.

One day this week he will have to take the car to work for the day.  I hope that will be my next day to not have to bother getting dressed and going out in the cold!  I have a sad case of the Winter Lazies, that is for sure!  I all ready have a ride to choir practise next Saturday morning and my husband is taking the car on Friday to meetings out of town for a couple of days.  Again, I will get a chance to stay indoors for the day, after choir rehearsal, and laze about in that wonderful bathrobe of mine.  teehee  First I am so housebound I can't wait to get out of here, then after running about madly for a few days I am content to have time alone at home.  Perverse, eh?  haha

Well, if we are going to get our chores accomplished we had better get started. First on the list is looking in the daylight for my teaspoon ring that pulled off my finger in the car last night after I snagged it on the buckle of my purse strap.  It has apparently fallen into a hole under the driver's seat and with a failing flashlight in the dark last evening we were unable to locate it.  Time to check again.

Have a happy day everyone.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Shoveling is a JOY!

 I don't know why I enjoy shoveling snow so much, but I truly do.  It is physically stimulating, mentally and emotionally cleansing and it makes me feel just wonderful to see a path cleared off through the thick drifts outside.  Seeing physical evidence of having accomplished something out of doors is a big booster for me.

Yesterday afternoon it warmed up outside sufficiently for me to shovel a pathway through the snowbanks from the back deck to the car in the lot.  It took me 45 minutes of chopping out blocks of hardened over snow, scooping them up on the shovel, tossing them over to one side and then pushing up the softer snow underneath into another scoopable pile.  Honestly, that snow was so hardened by the winds, so deep down too, that I could have used my machete to chop up evenly sized blocks and attempt my first igloo build!!  It was so hard I could barely get the edge of the shovel to break through the top crust.

So, it was quite a workout just shoveling that 25 feet to the car.  I made the pathway good and wide because if we get another wind like the last one I want the snow blowing off the piles I created to have plenty of room to settle back on the pathway, but to be less deep than it was when I shoveled out this time.

Every time I hear the word "invigorating" I think of shoveling snow.  It is such a wonderfully descriptive word for the way I feel after such a job well done.  As I look back on my life I truly suspect I should have ditched the academic attempts and the office training disasters and the volunteer music teaching, telephone operating, elder care, pharmacy cashiering, piano accompanying and other such jobs and found myself some training in mechanics or auto body or some other physically challenging and satisfying line of work.  It could explain why I only once worked at a job I enjoyed.  When did I enjoy my work the most?  It was when I was wood staining for a year when my husband was running his carpentry business.  That should have clued me in to why I couldn't seem to find my place in the Wonderful World of Work.  I spent years and years looking in the wrong directions.  I guess because there were so many other issues in our lives at the time it didn't dawn on me that the fact I enjoyed working with wood could have translated into some kind of vocational trades training.  Duh.........

So now it is a mite too late, but I think this coming spring I will start to seek out more types of activities and interests to pursue that are non-academic based, non-other people based, non-office based, non-music based.  I may not come up with much at my age, but on the other hand it will be fun looking for opportunities.  

Airport Security....Always a Fascinating Experience For Me

I am chuckling to myself this morning remembering my experiences with various airports and their security last weekend.  

Things did not start off well here in Regina airport....I suspect one of the most paranoid group of security officers in the country.  I wonder if the officer that flagged and subsequently destroyed a woman's work computer here a few weeks ago...and for no good reason as it turned the same one that flagged me on our way to Kelowna last Friday evening.

I was sufficiently distracted by an interesting family ahead of me in the lineup that I missed one of the security agents motioning Dell and I to move over to a newly opened lineup to start putting our coats and belongings in the conveyer belt trays to be x-rayed.  He ended up going through one line while I remained in the first lineup.  O wow, I am never going to be that distracted ever again!!!! In the future, at least at the Regina airport, I am going to stick to my husband and his lineup like glue on a postage stamp!!

We noticed on our way into line that the case displaying what is and what is not allowed to be put into carry on luggage, showed a sealable bag filled with acceptable liquids that was the same large size that my husband and I put our own liquids and aerosol containers into.  It makes it very easy to see what we are carrying and those are the same size bags we have always used when flying since the safety regulations came into effect.  My husband went through security with no problem whatsoever, his liquids bag sitting alone in a tray so it would be easy to spot, easy to check.  In less than a minute he was finished with security and waiting for me in the lounge.

Security wasn't particularly busy that night so every third person was being flagged for a secondary check.  Of course in my particular line up I was the third person.  No problem, I assumed, since I had been so careful to ensure everything was bagged properly, all my electronics such as cell phone and ipad were in a separate tray, my coat and boots that have zippers were in a tray, my purse was in a tray,my suitcase was in a should have been ALL good, right?  Never have I been so wrong!

There are three options for a secondary check and I had my choice:
-full body scan
-pat down
-testing on palms of hands and soles of feet for possible explosive materials residue.

I opted for the full body scan because I find pat downs rather embarrassing when they are done in full public view.  As I exited the machine after the scan and picked up my passport and boarding pass from the tray, the security fellow asked me what was in my jean pockets.  I looked at him rather oddly and told him quite honestly that the jeans I was wearing do not have any pockets.  There is a series of false pockets, front and back, for decorative purposes only.  He looked at me just as oddly and told me I was going to have to have a pat down because there was something showing on the scan in my non-existent pockets. Whaaaaaa????  NOT possible!!  A lady was called out of the security office and proceeded to give me a most thorough pat down. By the time she was done I was wondering why they hadn't just called for a strip search and check of my anal and vaginal cavities and just gotten it over with!  Decision, based on the photo released to her and I of the body scan results, was that my turtle necked tee shirt had bunched up on both sides of my hips, setting off the scanner.  Good Lord!!  Now I don't even dare to wear a longer length tee shirt to the airport here.

That was not all......the only trays I sent through the x-ray that were released immediately to me were the trays containing my coat and boots and my electronics.  My purse, liquids bag and suitcase were all on the other side of the conveyer belt awaiting a secondary check.  O dear Lord, now what?  I rather liked the security fellow who was doing those checks as he seemed reasonable as well as efficient. He was extremely helpful with the family ahead of me who seemed to have quite a number of items not allowed in carry on and he was patient as he explained to them, through a language barrier, why those items had to go under the plane or be removed from the airport all together. When he was finally finished sorting out their belongings it was my turn and I was sure all would be well.  

Wrong again!!  He walked away from security and a rather loud woman took his place to do my items scan.  Aiiiii yiiiiii..........first my purse was scanned with an interior camera.  The problem?  I had my toothbrush in a small plastic bag in my, where was the toothpaste, eh?  Where, where where?????  I pointed it out to her in the liquids bag, which is exactly where it was supposed to be.  She growled at me and pulled out my liquid mascara from the purse. That WAS my mistake.  I had not realized there was sufficient liquid in my mascara to qualify for the separate liquids bag, so I learned something new.  She said she would have me add it to that bag.  I picked up the bag and she nearly lost her mind.  What on earth was I doing putting my liquids and aerosols in a bag that big?  Remember this is the same size bag, with about the same amount of bottles and jars and aerosol cans as my husband's bag...the one that had cleared security all ready with no questions and no problems.  I received the lecture of my life about what size bag is acceptable and she proceded to hand me a teensy tiny airport example bag.  I had to be able to get everything into that bag and seal it and whatever did not fit had to be disposed of immediately!!!  I am not a genius in the area of spatial relations at the best of times, let alone when I am feeling attacked for no reason.  I jammed tubes and jars and bottles in as best I could as the line up of others chosen at random for secondary checks grew longer and longer behind me.  Talk about frazzled.  I fiddled and fiddled trying to get everything into the bag while the security lady was ogling the original x-ray of my suitcase. Finally I decided to dispose of my little bottle of foundation makeup, now that the mascara tube had to be added to the bag, and asked the woman where I should dispose of it.  She eyed the bag I was clutching, grabbed both it and the bottle of makeup out of my hands rather unceremoniously, jammed the bottle inside the bag, seemed to take no notice at all of the sides of the bag starting to split, forced the seal shut and said, "There!  That's how you make everything fit in these bags!!"  Scolded once again....sigh.  I wasn't happy because if that bag split I would be fishing small bottles and jars out of who knows where in my suitcase when we finally got to Kelowna.  Hopefully if that was the case I would find that none of the lids had come off any of them!

I managed to maintain my cool and not cry in frustration as my husband finally clued in that I was not with him in the lounge and that he had not seen me in some time.  He wandered back over closer and stood near me looking at this women rather quizzically, trying to figure out what she was really up to and why this performance, this determination to let me know she was in charge was really about.  She next took a second scan of my suitcase and said, "AHA!!!"  Seriously, she actually said that.  Just inside the lid of my case was a brand new pack of wet wipes that I always carry when I travel.  Again, I should have remembered myself that there is liquid in those little bags of wipes, but I have never before been questioned or detained in airport security because of them.  She whipped my case open grabbed the package, flipped it over to see what was in it and her response was a very subuded and disappointed, "Ooooh, wet wipes..."  Her disappointment that it was not a package containing plastic explosives was so obvious I would have laughed my head off if I hadn't been so angry and embarrassed by this entirely unnecessary performance.

She zipped my suitcase up again as if it was responsible for personally insulting her by not containing contraband, whipped the tray it was in back over to my side of the conveyer belt and told me to go catch my plane.  I have never grabbed my belongings and gotten away from anyone so quickly before.  I wanted to get away from her before she changed her mind and thought of some other reason to detain me and hold up the now dozens of people waiting behind me for their turn with this crazy woman.

By the time we got to the Kelowna airport security two days later I was about as paranoid as I could get about it.  We arrived extremely early just in case I had another similar fiasco to endure before heading to Calgary.  Well, good grief, what a difference in experience there:  I soared through security, no problems, was actually asked if I wanted a LARGER bag to put my liquids and aerosols into so they wouldn't be so crammed into a bag that was starting to split, and then, THEN I WAS CONGRATULATED by their security people for the great job I did separating the items in the trays so they could be easily seen and x-rayed. I was told by one agent she wished everyone could remember to put all those items into the trays in advance and to organize them as well as I did!!!!  TAKE THAT REGINA AIRPORT SECURITY!  TAKE THAT!!!!!

And do you know, the same thing happened at the Calgary airport security, same praise, same congratulations.  In neither place was I required to declare a pack of wet wipes even though it showed up as a block with liquids on their scanners.  They knew exactly what that package was and that it was not explosives just waiting to blow their airplanes to smithereens!

I remember the last time our son was here.  A small pack of tiny liquid paint bottles that had easily passed both LaGuardia security in New York and Pearson security in Toronto, two cities with more reason than most to be extremely paranoid about terrorists, was refused by Regina airport security. My husband and I had to take them from our son, thanking God we had remained at the airport watching him go through security so we could save them before the airport destroyed over five hundred dollars worth of paint, then packed them properly at home so he could have them mailed to him.

I stand in awe of Regina airport security and their extreme paranoia.  In fact, I am so in awe that next time I need to travel anywhere that is far enough away to require air transportation out of here, I am going to leave a few days early and ride the Greyhound bus instead!!!!

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Big "C" Strikes Again.........Sigh.............

Got a very sad email today from a family member.  We are feeling devastated over a diagnosis of a second round of cancer.  This type is different than the first type and the prognosis should be relatively good, but while we all wait for the treatment decisions we are all rather upset at this moment.  Please pray that we can all step back from the emotions and put our trust in the One who is most trustworthy in these frightening situations.  Thank you all so very much.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why I Can Usually Fight Off the Temptation To Panic Over Finances

God has never changed his manner of provision for us since our first lessons in trust for finances began in 1985.  Although we are no longer on the mission field overseas or struggling with self-employment mixed with chronic illness, God has continued to prove his abilities to remove stress from our financial lives.

This month it has been tempting to be concerned.  We are waiting for a cheque that may be several more weeks in arriving, or may not come to us at all.  This month we have had extra expenses beyond all expectation and I have been wondering if I need to start juggling a payment or two to satisfy the creditors without paying everything off in has been umpteen years since I have had to even think about that possibility, thankfully.  However, it has all worked out.

We arrived home to find that the billing date for our tenant insurance has changed and now needs to be paid before the first of February, plus of course we had to go to our neighbour's last night to pay him for the carpet cleaning.  Between the two of them I ended up paying several hundred dollars in unexpected expenses this month.  Sigh.....AND the utility bills for this month have yet to arrive, AND I knew we had our son's Christmas gift coming on this month's credit card bill.  If the outstanding cheque doesn't come before the end of this month, hmmmm, what to do?  

On top of it all, I couldn't shake the idea that I had to send a small cheque to each of two young people whose missionary endeavors overseas we support on occasion. It wasn't easy to write those cheques this morning and get them ready for mailing, but if I have learned nothing else, God often asks us to give in the midst of our own need and we have never once suffered for it.

Well, yesterday at work my husband received his December expense travel reimbursement so that certainly helped a little bit, even though it was only half or less of what he usually needs reimbursed each month.  That covered the cost of the carpet cleaning with a little left over.  Then today the credit card bill arrived.  First on the list of transactions was the Air Canada reimbursement for the flights we had to cancel and change for our trip this past weekend!  YAY!!!!  Often it takes at least two credit card statements before reimbursements arrive from the airlines, this time only one statement after the fact our credit amount arrived.  Between that reimbursement and the travel expense reimbursement, our total credit card payment is one dollar and eleven cents!!  WOW!!!  Timing is everything.  We can eke out the rest of this month's groceries even if the outstanding cheque is later arriving than we expected it to be.

See why I really can't worry too much?  In spite of some mistakes, some misunderstandings about what God has told us to do with finances over the years, some sheer stupidity, crazy last minute emergencies requiring big bucks and other huge unexpected immediate expenses several times in our lives, we have survived in tact.  My husband's income amount does not match the amount of work he has to do to receive it and that is true of many people today. Yet, there has always been help when we have needed it, help in many forms and through many other people and extra work projects.

I don't know why God has chosen to speak to us about trusting him using the particular arena of finances, but he has and slowly we are learning to not worry.  There are times when I have felt far more secure when there has been no monthly income and meeting all our payments has been up to God. He is far more trustworthy than any employer when he is determined to show someone who trusts him how he can provide.  I find it all completely amazing.

I am grateful to God for this month's help and his impeccable usual.  I need to share what God does for me so that you can be encouraged as well to take your own needs to God and see what he does for you to show his care and concern.


Guess I'm Not Going To Be Shoveling After All!

My husband just telephoned from his office to tell me I will not be outside wielding the shovel today.  I am allowed to take the snow off the back porch with a broom and that is all!

Apparently it is the coldest day of the winter thus far with the extreme windchill and the snow is packed so hard on top I will have to chop my way through it to get to the scoop shoveling, only chopping....sigh.... He said his walk to work was a nightmare of hard packed snowdrifts and more like a horizontal ice "climb" than a walk across a prairie city.

The idea of starting the car and heading across town for groceries and banking is not a good one according to him, so he will go out of his own way to walk the extra two blocks and back for milk at the grocery store after work today.

What a sweet man!  He said we can eat scrambled eggs and toast if that is all the food we have left for dinner and that he can manage without the toast! hahaha  However, he doesn't want me outside doing any work.  Since I don't allow him to shovel snow, it can all just wait until tomorrow's slight increase in temperatures. (I don't allow him to shovel because he has no concept of restraint.  He hates doing it so he goes at it too hard and too quickly and wears himself out so badly on even the smallest of shoveling tasks that I fear he will have a heart attack or a is unreal how bad his physical condition is after shoveling...his own fault, so I don't let him even attempt it.)

So, how often does a person get permission to just spend the day doing very little other than a few easily accomplished indoor chores. Apparently I am also too tired to be cleaning house today instead of shoveling.  Wow...bonus!  A lazy day...with a permit to have it so.

Okay, hot shower and Mark's Comfy I come!!!