31 January 2010

Sunday snippet

On this last night of January, my heart feels lighter than it has in months.

May 2010 be a year of healing and hope, dear Reader. Sweet dreams.

29 January 2010

Pre-birthday reflections

Written on Friday night, Jan 29:
Since I'll be out all day tomorrow (8 to 8!) and I rarely write on Sundays--and since I have a work deadline on Monday, and Tuesday is my 39th birthday--I thought I'd post these thoughts tonight.

2009 was not an easy year, from beginning to end. My prayer is that I will learn from it, move on ... and never have to repeat that particular collection of experiences.

Last January we endured a difficult trip to BC (weather-wise), and on the way home we got stuck in Revelstoke overnight (combination of avalanche/mudslide/unsafe driving conditions). Feb. was fine (I ALWAYS enjoy my annual birthday retreat), but Mar/Apr/May remain a blur. Tax season is ... taxing, for both of us.

June brought a welcome reprieve from work; we stayed in Vernon-on-the-lake with dear friends, attended a memorable wedding in Penticton ... and I started a new hobby: horse riding, something I've wanted to do for years.

In July we travelled to BC again to photograph a wedding in Surrey. Although the day itself was gorgeous--and the bride beyond beautiful--the week was psychologically wearying. Rather unexpectedly, R experienced an emotional slide into quite deep depression, and in August we finally sought psychiatric help. (In retrospect, this is something we should have done years ago; if only we'd known then what we know now!)

August went from bad to worse. On the first day I got stung by wasps while helping our landlord redo the deck; R escaped for a week during the noise and chaos of construction ... and my brother had a near-fatal car accident on Aug 7. The next day I nearly got us evicted from our lovely home by starting a no-win argument with my landlord; he was unwell, and I was in shock after hearing Wal's tragic news--not the best combo for a calm conversation between fiery personalities. I tread carefully around certain folk at the best of times. This was not the best of times.

In August and September, both my sister and my mom were admitted to hospital, within weeks of Wal's accident. Mari simply contracted measles, while Mom's health complications continued to plague her for months, ranging from heart failure and other organ malfunctions, to the recent discovery of a growth on her cheek (finally biopsied this week) and cataracts on her eyes.

In October Robin's father passed away.

By Nov/Dec, we realised we needed another little holiday. A generous soul in California graciously hosted us, and we (i.e. my spouse) chose to drive the 40 hours from here to San Diego via Vancouver, joined by two BC companions with whom we'd not travelled before, between Christmas and New Year, in frightful weather conditions....

Much was learned by all parties during our very, very long road trip:-) Need I say more?

One of the trip's highlights shared by all was visiting the giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo (the primary purpose of the trip for our youngest travelling companion); another was visiting the beaches in the area. R enjoyed his day on the USS Midway, as well as exploring various military museums. For me, staying with our host (whom we'd met in Prague in 1995) made the trip more than worthwhile. I enjoyed the company of all four housemates, but it was a comfort and joy staying home and reconnecting with my friend while the other three went out sightseeing and shopping and driving to LA and back!

{Thanks for having us, MR, for feeding us, for playing piano for me, and for being a gracious bachelor despite the invasion of your space. You were most kind.}

All's well that ends well, and R and I enjoyed our drive home from Surrey to Cochrane--with a more pleasant stop in Revelstoke this time around--just before school started in mid-January. These are my Friday night reflections as I head into a busy weekend.

28 January 2010

Invitation to the Classics

Today's literature class was fun (for me, at any rate; the jury's still out regarding the rest of the class). We discussed the value of literature in an increasingly non-literate society, and examinded what makes a classic a classic. I emphasised the prevalence of classical (and biblical) allusions in our everyday language -- any examples are welcome -- and tried to instil a modicum of enthusiasm in my band of brothers.

Today I also introduced them to John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, one of the most widely read and oft' translated allegories of all time. (Not everyone had heard of Bunyan or his classic work, which means I've already taught someone something new.)

I suspect this class, hands-down my favourite of the four I teach, may be quite a challenge in many ways. I have renewed empathy for English teacher John Keating in The Dead Poets' Society (played by Robin Williams). But I'm up for the challenge: count me in! Already I'm looking forward to our next class together ...

Tea at Tim's

Twice this week already I've been surprised by the kindness of an unexpected gift (more than twice, but two occasions you now know of). Early yesterday evening my Can-African sister, WB, rang our doorbell and asked if I could come out and play. I could.

We fellowshipped at our local Tim Horton's, and feasted on steeped tea and sweet somethings of little nutritional value. Since WB is my faithful gym partner (I being the more reluctant drag-me-out-of-bed variety), we treat ourselves once in a while after an hour of exercise.

But yesterday was special: an early birthday treat, pure and simple.

26 January 2010

Early birthday surprise

Before I leave the office, let me share one good thing about this week so far:

Imagine my surprise when I found a sweet little gift bag on my snowy doorstep yesterday ... containing a "really woolly" birthday card and ...?

I have no idea.

Without a moment's hesitation I added it to the other sweet little gift bag received from a BC friend in early January. You may ask why I wait until Feb 2 to unwrap my treasures: I always do. One of my annual birthday joys is going away by myself and reading birthday mail (and once in a while, opening gifts from sweethearts who leave them on my doorstep ahead of time).

I was invited to attend a meeting in the city (I try and take Mondays off whenever possible, but this one was too important to miss) and it went really well. A good start to the week, made even better by my unexpected treat from beloved friends-on-their-way-to-Vernon. {Thank you, A & C.}

Tuesday of trials

I'm on my way out ... mostly because I always go out for a few hours of refuelling on Tuesday nights, in rain or snow or windy weather, but partly because I need a break from the office. It's been a day of one technological trial after another.

Signing out (with relief),
Techno Babe

P.S. Today did contain a couple of sparkling moments. More details to follow when I'm in a more sparkling mood myself. [Note to self: write about EGM.]

I said in an earlier post I'd write about my King's Fold experience, but I'm not ready yet. Maybe when I'm older (next week this time) and greyer (day by day) and wiser (who knows when?).

Suffice it to say, I'm going somewhere else to celebrate my 40th birthday this time next year! :-)

24 January 2010

Home from the Hideaway

Tonight I'm not going this write.

(This is me not writing).

But in the coming week I'll try and pour out on this page some of what transpired this past weekend at King's Fold. Anyone got some soothing vitamin E oil for the (growth) scars on my soul?!

Monday: Quiet Day. One unavoidable meeting only.

22 January 2010

The Hideaway

I'll post more details upon my climb down from the tree house where I'll be spending my weekend.

21 January 2010

Shanghai Palace and a frosty drive home

Twice a year Robin and I celebrate life by joining two of our dearest friends at Shanghai Palace in NW Calgary. T & R celebrate their birthdays in July and August; B and I in January and February. The wider family celebrates major public holidays and seasonal occasions together at home, and has done so for a decade already, but our Jul/Aug and Jan/Feb meals are reserved for the four of us alone.

Tonight--as always--we each chose a favourite dish and then shared the food among us. We chatted amiably for hours, and reluctantly said our fond farewells when it was time for the babysitter to go home to bed.

What a foggy night to be out! We could barely see the car ahead as we slowly made our way home from the city to our sleepy little town, shrouded in mist. The hoarfrost was a feast for the eyes, eerily visible along the dark edges of our limited vision.

Tomorrow I'll be sure to get up early and see if I can capture some frosty frames for sharing here.

20 January 2010

Olympic Torch


The Olympic Torch is passing through Cochrane today around 11:20. I hope to come down into the town after chapel.

Yesterday, my friend Annemarie Fairman (who was celebrating her birthday) had her photo taken with the torchbearer.

I'm reminded by these festivities that we are all to be bearers of light ...

19 January 2010

MSF January retreat

Once a month I join a couple of friends at a local retreat centre. Mostly we spend the day alone, each in our own space, writing, dreaming, seeking solitude or the company of others. I choose to enjoy the lunch hour with my fellow retreatants, but silent meals are an option.

Invariably I return home from these days away refreshed in body and soul, ready to tackle the demands of home and work (and working from home, hence the need for a physical retreat from my home office).

Today I came home to more work than usual ... what with the looming deadline of two articles for a local denominational paper, the refining of my literature course, and several other odds 'n' ends left unattended to before closing my office before Christmas. Back in the saddle!

18 January 2010

January babes

If you have a January birthday, please let me know.

I've remembered a few ... but I know I've missed some.

Happy Birthday!

More Glimpses on a Monday

See link [here, once it's written] for an article I had fun writing today.

It was my privilege to interview local author and humorous speaker Connie Cavanaugh for the next edition of the Horizon. The monthly column I now write--More Glimpses--used to be Connie's; back then it was simply called Glimpses.

After hours of visiting with this dynamic darling, I came home and tried to capture in words some of what we'd shared ... no easy task! I'll tweak my first draft tomorrow. The right words eventually come (as does my deadline, sometimes in reverse order). Thankfully I work for the world's sweetest editor (who prefers me to write these articles so that she doesn't have to!) and I'm not behind ... yet. A nice feeling, so early in the year.

Tomorrow's my monthly retreat day at Mount St Francis: oxygen for a writer's soul.

off to percolate

17 January 2010

The mystery of the missing cat

Last night R and I attended our seminary Christmas function.

In December, the students celebrate the end of the semester; in January, the academic and admin staff celebrate the start of a new term. I was surprised and honoured to receive a gift from my dean for having been an adjunct instructor for five years already. (Time flies, eh?)

I enrolled at the seminary in 2000 for an M.Div. degree; graduated in 2003; and began teaching my first course in 2004. Now it is my privilege to teach four (compulsory) courses: Basic English; Research Strategies; Christian Classics (my favourite); and History of Western Civ.

My history-loving spouse helped out as my consultant and technical advisor last semester. This year he has decided to enrol in a Master of Arts in Military History (specialising in World War Two). He enjoyed being my co-instructor and grew more comfortable in front of the class as the semester progressed.

At the staff supper, my colleagues and I had a splendid time solving a mystery involving the theft of a black cat ... and a widow's mite.