Sunday, December 31, 2006

2 bags full of books

It was the best feeling to approach the cashier at Chapters, hand her my carefully-chosen book selections - which totaled just over $100. . . use my gift cards and my membership discount card, combine those with sale reductions and pay just $10!!!!! Yes, I walked out of Chapters with 2 heavy bags -- i was so happy!

I went to get this one above all else: "Feast", Nigella Lawson (a fabulously decadent, inspirational cook book). The rest --well, i let them choose me!

"Sun" Observer's Guide *Firefly Books Pam Spence *-- what a cool book. . .on the cover of which is pictured a blistering golden photo of the star which keeps us all alive. . fascinating!

"The Best Life Diet" *Bob Greene*. . . . i love to read up on nutritional facts . . physiology, chemistry, etc. I've always had an interest. "Diet" books also contain amazing recipes! I really wanted to read all about emotional eating, etc. . and the secret to burning off and keeping off lost body fat, which i've always found to be a sticking point in my life. The last thing i want is to spend my years weighing food, measuring it, counting 'points', calories or servings. . i want to enjoy life, not be enslaved by all of the 'diet culture' in my continent. . to find a way to sensibly and permanently enjoy food as the fabulous fuel it is, and to move and keep moving. . . to bring those 2 important elements together -- food and fitness.

"Living to Tell the Tale" *Gabriel Garcia Marquez *he's long been one of my favourite authors. . . so finding this initial book in the triology that will comprise his life's story, that was a happy find!

"Honeymoon with My Brother" *Franz Wisner* ( I saw this guy on Oprah a while back. . . jilted almost at the altar and determined not to waste the celebration or the honeymoon -- talk about a glass half full kind of person!!!!) He partied with family, friends and then took his brother away on a vacation -- which turned into a 2-year trek through 53 countries -- well, i couldn't not buy this one!

"Caught in the Web of Words" *K.M. Elisabeth Murray *-- "A magnificent story of a magnificent man, one of the finest biographies of the twentieth century." says Anthony Burgess on the front cover of this promising history of the life of James Murray - Lexicographer and one of the main contributors of the Oxford English Dictionary. I had to get this. . . anyone who has read the dictionary for fun would be positively disloyal if they didn't! I was drawn to the title. . of the many pleasant webs to be caught in, i think a web of words would be very beautiful.

"Acquainted with the Night -- Excursions Through the World After Dark" *Christopher Dewdney *A Canadian author. . gotta support the homeland people! This is a beautifully bipolar book . . . . on the one hand I am reading some of the most sumptuously descriptive stuff i've come across lately, and on the other hand, i feel as if i'm reading several other kinds of books all tossed in . . . scientific facts journal, meteorology resource, poetry sampler, historical tidbit primer -- this book is unlike anything i think i've ever read. The way this man can describe a sunset -- he's got a magical mind. His description of night fall alone is worth the purchase price. This man has such a romantic view of night and all that it contains. . . i've long shared this view of the gloriousness of the dark hours for so many reasons -- stillness, beauty, rest, sleep -- a good nighthawk would definitely love to read this. . but all the day 'larks' would still very much appreciate this one too, i think?! Yes, I'm sure!

Here's a sample of the 'sunset' gorgeousness i was talking about. . .

"The most consistently brilliant sunsets I've seen have been over water, and the best of those were off the west coast of Saint Lucia, in the Leeward Antilles. Many of them rivaled fireworks, the colours were that brilliant. The St. Lucian sunsets consistently filled half the dome of the sky with atmospheric masterworks. Often they were so complex they were like universes of detail that might take a thousand years to explore. Some evenings the sky resembled a vast surrealist hallucination drenched with pigment, while on other nights the clouds seemed to explode into flames directly overhead. They were utterly glorious, celestial pyrotechnics. If that weren't enough, the sunsets were almost invariably accented with whimsical, sometimes unbelievable touches; a trio of small electric-orange clouds shaped like waves, for instance, or a grid-like archipelago of fluorescent crimson cloudlets set against a pale, lost blue sky above a moody mountainscape of lavender clouds. The sunsets always started the same way . . long, horizontal bands of frothy, mother-of-pearl-coloured clouds would build above the western horizon when the sun sank toward the ocean. As the sunset progressed, these bands would light up like pink flames against the opalescent blue sky. Floating under the bands, just above the ocean, were armadas of purple cumulus clouds, sailing with the trade wind. . . .

the pink edges of the banded clouds would turn cerise, then red, then the red would deepen like wildfire into a lava filigree of incandescent lacework. . .

. . . was more like looking at the the immense, stained-glass dome of a cosmic cathedral. . . "

Now doesn't that make you want to visit Saint Lucia?! Imagine being able to casually say in conversation: "Yeah, i think the best sunsets in the world are the ones in the Leeward Antilles." BAH!!!! I could never imagine saying such a thing to anyone. I'd be too afraid of sounding pretentious!! No fears on that score.

Well, fellow babies, I must get some rest. . .cuz its so late at night, its now morning and New Year's Eve morning at that. . ooooh, the excitement of it all!!!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

thinking about Christ

I was lying in bed last night thinking, like i usually do when i lie in bed. Rob was upset over having to buy 4 new tires for the van at such a financially difficult time of year, so he had already gone up to bed, to forget about it for a few hours. Strangely enough, i didn't seem bummed over parting with several hundred dollars just like that. . it'll probably hit me later!!

I was more reflective, not too sleepy. I've been caught up in preparations for Christmas gifting and feasting -- organizing things with drill sargeant precision -- which has paid off in dividends of a type of serenity, a sense of 'staying on top of things' and not feeling pressurized, wheedled, nagged or otherwise manipulated by the monstrous retail advertising/marketing machine. . I even learned to try to say 'no' to the 'busy woman at Christmas voice' which expects me to multitask to the extreme in every way imaginable. If you're a man, let me explain things. . 'the voice' is essential for every woman, especially at Christmas. . The voice can be a helpful reminder : ' make your lists', 'start early', 'try catalogues/ online sources', 'get to the store the day the flyer comes out', ' 'think of your people and of what they've told you throughout the year.. . write these thoughts down & keep them in your wallet', 'stay on top of your house work so you're not overwhelmed', 'ask for help', 'think of the Christmas donations and take care of them'. The voice will talk to you when you're quiet. . asking you "Have you taken care of all the details?", "What's left to do?", "What are you going to do tomorrow?" This is what its like.

So, when i lie down every night, i have to tell the voice to stop. . it would keep me up if i let it. Sometimes i think back to my girlish, prewoman days, especially at Christmas time and i imagine how it would feel to just to take everything as it comes to me, gifts, food, every other kind of good thing. . not doing, not preparing, just receiving. . . ahhh. . . what a dim memory !!!

Is that what its like to be a man at Christmas?! BAH!!! *sorry to take a potshot at you, guys!* I'm half teasing, i think?! heh heh. . .

Last night i thought about all this stuff as i sighed it all out . . . and then i thought about Jesus. I immediately felt bad for letting my inner voice drown out his voice - which is not just a Christmas time occurrence. . I felt even worse about letting myself be a cog in the "North American Christmas Machine". . i try to resist, but to some extent i always find myself in it.

I looked out the windows as i lay there. . the darkness was quiet, almost felt like it had weight. . . i could see the heavy clouds' outline against the dark sky. . . and my thoughts of him increased. I wondered about him and wondered how could he do what he did? -- trade universal supremacy for helpless infancy? volunteer to give up unbounded, unlimited authority. . . for hunger, pain, sickness, fatigue, limitations, unjust punishment, hatred and execution? How is it possible that he was able to say 'yes' to such a deal?( knowing in advance what would be required of him? ) and with no guarantee that the very people He did this for would love him, like him or regard him? I wondered about my human nature. . what was it about that nature that Jesus needed to go through all that? Why am i so self-centered? why am i so rebellious. . either subtly or bold facedly? Why am i bad? Why do i think i know so much? It occurred to me that on my own, without any Christ, any Redeemer or Messiah, without the manger crib and its famous baby occupant and without all that he grew to accomplish, who am i? Why do i aspire to be this or do that? Why am i so hell bent on charting my own path, doing my own thing? Why have i wanted to live without Jesus? Why have i ever in my entire life wanted to keep Christmas about everything but Christ? toys. . candy, the Sears WishBook, clothes, trinkets, money, overeating, watching the grinch, rudolph, frosty. . obsessing about being 'good' so Santa would come through with the goods. . and now the whole attempting to pulling off a Martha Stewart every year if it kills me! When i'm quiet with my mind turned off to all fruitcake, cheesy music and rampant consumption, and on this curious kind of love shown by Jesus, this puzzling, dazzling love . . . i feel like i've been in a mess of my own independence . I am an independent mess. . too often choosing independence from the Saviour who loves me to the point of death, independent from his extended hand, independent from his counsel, substituting mine, the world's. . . independent from his will. . . believing that i can drift in and out of it whenever the whim suits me. . . how can i make such a mess? be such a mess? I can and I do and i often am . and i'm ashamed when that happens. I love moments like this when i understand a bit of the largeness of the love of Christ. I feel like my own love that i feel and give is so often small and too often tainted with selfish toxins and impurities. . but to think of availing myself of the LOVE of Jesus at Christmas, I feel like i can only say to him. . words from that old Sam and Dave song: "You didn't have to love me like you did, but you did, yes you did, and i thank you." I wish for you some of your own reflective moments in the next couple of days. . much love to you, from me. .

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Christmas

I love the message in this first picture. . .
Happy Christmas, everyone ! God bless.

love, from me to you.

 Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 15, 2006

i love these pics

KK having a guitar lesson from her Dad. . i love that our house is often filled with live music. Someone's always playing something. . . piano, guitar, cornet, drums, keyboard - practice, jamming, personal enjoyment -- music is so essential.

Rob took this picture on one of his many Fri. night trips to get KK from school. Someone cool always defaces this highway sign. . and the works crews are always replacing them. They never read "Rockton" for long. Yes its vandalism - but as we all say "The sign begs for it!"

Robbie leaning against "Shifty". . . beauty.

last, but definitely not least. . Maggie wearing her "Santa's Little Helper" bandana. . looking like the epitome of canine Christmas cutness. I can never refrain from scooping her up in my arms and kissing her little head. No matter how often she pees on the floor at night, or barks crazily when i wish she'd shut up -- i can never stay mad at her. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas Party!!!!!

Here's Robbie!!!!! I love blue on him. . brings out his eyes. . This was our staff Christmas partee. . and was it ever awesome!!!!

This is Robbie's date for the evening. . . . me! This is "Kathryn". . . . Kathy doesn't usually look like that! lol!!!

We had a beautiful hall in which to dance the night away, which we DID!!! It was the MOST awesome dance i've ever been to!! Didn't even try to dance in my shoes. . . stocking feet baby. . . . . Robbie twirled me around until i was dizzy. YAY!!!

Here's our table. . . .From the left:
Rob, John, Sylvia, Ellie, Allan, John and Karen. . .

Guys, that was a fabulous night! So glad to share it with you all!! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 02, 2006

whatever happened to the word "handsome"?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I've noticed a fair bit of change in the world since the early 60s, but the particular thing that is on my mind tonight is the way North Americans have changed culturally in the last several decades.

If you watch old movies, if you've watched vintage TV sitcoms or variety shows, i'm sure you know what I mean when i say that I think we've lost something.

I don't really wish to go back to an era in which women were thought of as 'housewives' as if they said their "I dos" to a house, nor to a time when women were called "the little woman". *that term could never apply to me no matter what era I'd live in!!! perhaps when i was 3?* I don't want to think of a world in which "Father Knows Best" cuz let's face it, he doesn't always and neither does Mom! I wouldn't like to see stereotypes of that era remain. . or any era for that matter. But what I wish is just for a little class. . you know? A time before reality tv's incestuous slugfests a la JerrySpringer, or the ridiculously salacious weirdness of "A Surreal Life", a time before the words: 'hot', 'smokin', 'sucks', 'slammin', 'blows', 'ho', 'pimp'. A time when women were 'beautiful', 'graceful', 'lovely' and men were 'handsome', 'suave', 'debonair'. Is there any such thing as feminine mystique anymore? Everything is on display - physically, verbally -- no restraint, no one is demure -- even kids clothing is shrunken down versions of whatever adult fashions are trendy, really disturbing! Not to be cliche, but is chivalry dead? Do we even want men to be chivalrous? Do they want this?. . . and their clothing. . metrosexuals and gay men have a pretty awesome style sense, but there are many guys out there shlumping around in t-shirts, jeans all the time, or they look like they're going hunting, or they're dressing and talking like rappers, when they're not! It drives me crazy when people say things like "That's how i roll". I'm not really wanting to regress in any way. .don't want us all to be buttoned down and uptight, but I feel like we have collectively lost some of our sophistication.

I remember regularly wearing dresses with crinolines as a little girl, with patent shoes for birthday parties, cotton dresses with runners for play, I wore white gloves to church and carried a little handbag. I wore hats on special occasions like Easter. People used to dress up. Things were tucked in (but i'm SO not a fan of tucking!!!). Shoes were buffed and polished. People talked differently to each other. There was more respect in our terminology. . . "Sir", "Ma'am", "Master", "Miss", I was never permitted to address an elder by their first name. . i mean NEVER! We would 'call on' our friends, knocking and asking permission from their parents for our friends to 'come out'. We wrote thank-you notes. We RSVP'd. Commerce was different -- service was the rule, not the exception. Food was different. People were slimmer, yet there was no 'low fat' or 'low carb' talk. . butter, full fat milk was in every kitchen. Portions were smaller. The family table was sacred and abundant. Seasons dictated our diet. People had to 'put up' or 'can', preserve. There was no waste. Even a cup of tea was a different thing. . it used to involve china cups, sugar cubes in silver bowls, which you removed with sugartongs, 'tea sandwiches' (crustless, work of art, inventive sandwiches), tea biscuits (cookies). An after-church 'tea' was one of these amazing, formal occasions. Now, if you want a cup of tea, you just get an earthenware mug, put you tea in it and sit in your track pants curled up in your chair -- WAY more comfy,? YES! But missing something. . . a sense of occasion, specialness.

It used to be that people could be shocked. People still blushed. Dirty laundry wasn't aired so much. . society wasn't so hypersexualized, nor was it so disturbingly desensitized to violence. I know that we can't turn the clock back.. .and i wouldn't think that would be so great, because all the gains we have made would be reversed. . . but couldn't we bring back some of the class, modesty, innocence ? I get so sick of everything and everyone being described as 'hot'. Even Listerine mouthwash has a ridiculous spokeswoman describing herself as a "hot woman" who wants to keep her teeth ". . looking their whitest, brightest and hottest" Whaaaa??? Can teeth even BE hot? They can look nice, but come on!! I get so tired of seeing "Warning, this program may contain scenes of . . . . . . . ." preceding every television show. I grow weary of seeing how much power we ascribe to celebrities. . . Oprah, Dr. Phil, et al, wanting them to be our collective saviours. Society seems so depraved sometimes. I know this is "nothing new under the sun"!! Still, it all gets to me -- you know?

I know that people will continue to change -- that's one thing sure. But wouldn't it be nice to have a little bit of classy change? Some positive change? Some righteous, peaceful change? Some beautiful, spiritual change? Some sense of the sacred, the special. . of treasuring and revering. . And I know its a little thing, but how about this change?. . men and women would no longer be deemed 'hot', rather they would be beautiful and handsome. . .