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Welcome to my blog! Of course if we were visiting in person, I'd have the teapot out and we could sit and chat.
I'm honored you stopped by to listen to my thoughts and ponderings - and if you have a minute sometime, let me know you dropped by!

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Finding Serenity in a not-so-perfect Garden

  Bugs and heat and perhaps even a little neglect have taken over in the garden.  After a cold, wet start, many of the plants are now drooping in the hot sun and looking rather parched.  I find this time of year difficult in the garden; many of the plants have stopped blooming; some have gone to seed, some of the brilliance has definitely waned.  The petunias died altogether; I guess they didn't like the combination, or perhaps the sweet williams were a little too pushy and I didn't make enough room for co-existence...

  A master gardener I am not.  I am a happy novice, experimenting, trying this and that; each year a new experience with the constant variables of weather, soil, and time I have to spend.  I probably could use a lot of advice and spend a whole lot more money...

  At this time of year one has to finally accept what is.  I can't roll back the months to spring and replant or reseed.  I can clean out, prune, and just enjoy the produce of the present.  And truly I am.  The kale has been hardy, although somewhat holey due to bugs and we have enjoyed it in shakes, in stir-fries, in omelets... as well as the swiss chard and lettuce.  I have a lovely bunch of beet greens with baby beets ready to steam up for supper tonight... yum.  The raspberries have been so lovely and I am very sad, as always this time of year, to see their season end.  But the blackberries have tinges of red and are promising a lovely harvest...
The tomatoes might be lacking, but I know I can always go to our local farm and pick what I need for the winter months.

  I always find the garden a teacher to me... how like life it is.  When we reach the late summers of our lives and the autumns we can't go back.  The time for yesterday is gone, and we live with what is... Perhaps it is a time to be thankful, rather than wishing for the "what if's", or "if only's"... Hindsight is only useful when we can learn from it and move on.

  I read in a pamphlet the other day of a woman who was very sick and she was asked what she would like to pray for... Her response was thankfulness for the health she had.  That really hit me.  So often it is easy to complain about the health I don't have, or the limitations, instead of being filled with gratefulness for all the gifts I DO have...

  No my garden is not perfect... nor is my life.  But I do feel overwhelmed by gratefulness for all the gifts I do have... health, family, wonderful friends, a deep faith.  Serenity to accept the not-so-perfect, and see the beauty... this is the lesson of the garden for today.



 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why Olympics? - Through the eyes of a 17 year old.

  It was 1976, and it was the year of the Olympics, held that year in our own country, in Montreal... I was 18, young, idealistic, and questioning.

  I also had been introduced to Seventeen Magazine, and it opened my eyes to the world... I lived in a small village, was a pastor's kid, watched TV very rarely.  My world had walls, and reading such magazines opened my eyes to other opinions, lifestyles.  The new intern who came to help at our little church was newly married, and his wife had stacks of the magazines.  I was hooked..

  During those years Seventeen had an opinion column, and since I loved to write, I decided to submit a piece on "Why Olympics?".

  I was thrilled when I learned I would be published, and the little piece appeared 40 years ago.. (why does that make me feel so old???), in July.  My idealism took a bit of a hit when they edited the piece rather harshly, and I wondered if it was completely my opinion any more... and they had my age wrong.

  Still... heady stuff back then, and I even earned $100 for it.  I still have the receipt, found it this morning with the article, and some not so favorable mail I received in response.

  That is one thing about opinions... they can change.

  Today I love the Olympics, although some of my concerns remain the same.  With large networks and instant television and internet, and social media, we can almost feel we are there.

  They create a sense of pride - I remember watching the opening of the Vancouver games in Phoenix Arizona, and feeling proud of the country I love.

  The Olympics encourage excellence in athletes and a goal to work for.  When I was a teen, I hated sports.  I lived in a culture - perhaps some of it was small town - where if you were not good in sports you were not welcome to participate.  I felt awkward and avoided gym whenever I could.  My physical education teacher did not help.

  Today, I am glad to see the emphasis has changed to exercising for health.  I am not an athlete, but I know the importance of exercise and take it pretty seriously.

  So go Canada go... I'll be watching.  And when I'm not, I might just get up off that couch and go for a walk!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Late Bloomer

On my morning walk, we often climb these stairs that overlook Okanagan Lake.  I usually pause partly up, and stretch.. it is a good excuse to catch my breath!

  In front of my stretching post is this tree, and I've wondered about it the last few months... it was completely barren, not a leaf in sight.  The tree did not look unhealthy, but certainly seemed naked in the heat of summer.

  Until two days ago, when I spotted three new buds... beautiful, green, fresh.

  I have no idea what kind of tree this is but it fascinated me.  A late bloomer, that is for sure!

  I thought of hope.  Hope is like faith... believing in the unseen, even when the odds seem impossible.  That something beautiful can come when things are barren, but there was life there all along.

  Sometimes I feel like a bit of a late-bloomer... going back to school in my fifties; thinking about new directions in my life. Out of dark places in my life has burst new hope for life, for possibilities, for work God has for me.  It is exciting, but sometimes I doubt the process, and even myself.  ... and then God plants a tree in my path, and again I see that hope and faith were there all along... I just had to believe!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Boys, Toys and Noise

  We've just said good-bye to our two little nephews who, with their parents, spent the better part of the last week with us.  They are 5 and 2.  We have three delightful grandsons, one is 3 today!!!  What a delightful three years it has been, with two more grandsons to add to the mix.  We are blessed with little boys!!

  I've always been a rather girly girl, but am enjoying all the wonderful gifts these boys bring to our lives.  Quiet is not one of them.  That is the blessing of being a grandparent, or an auntie... you can enjoy the noise, and play with the toys, and love those boys.... but you get your breaks in between!  I remember well the constant pressures of parenthood, from dawn to dusk and night-time interruptions, and I often said sanity came with a good night's sleep..  Parents of young children all deserve medals for patience, for endurance, but their treasures are immense.

  These boys are teaching me well... I've learned to roar (although Grandpa Steve is so much better at it), to balance doilies on my head and toss them off with abandon, I've learned to appreciate bugs in all their glory, and see the delights of rocks in my garden.  Planes and garbage trucks are wonders to behold, and there isn't anything much better than a firetruck - complete with sounds of course...

  To catch the wonder of a child, to revisit the imagination... one minute we are monsters growling at each other and the next we are cuddled up with a book... I've rediscovered sidewalk chalk, and blowing bubbles and then stomping on them is a wonderful pastime.

  Boys and berries are a great mix... Five year old M has become very good at picking them, and most of them made it inside for a lovely raspberry pie.  We helped little E pick strawberries the other day, and I think most of those ended up in his tummy, with lovely strawberry stained mouth to match his hair.  Lovely... Apparently he told his mommy recently... You pick the weeds mommy... I'll pick the strawberries!  So smart!!!

  Oh, I just thought of another word for my little rhyme... Boys and Toys and Noise equals Joys!!  I can't imagine my world without you!!


Happy Birthday, Little E!!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dilly Beloved

  I have dill on the brain.  After my early morning walk, I went to my little garden and it is a sea of waving dill sharing space with everything else... beans, squash, cucumbers, beets, peas, zuchinni, swiss chard...

  The title of this blog is borrowed from some of my favourite cookbook authors, Janet and Greta Podleski... if you want a great read, as well as inspiration for supper, and health, and a smile on your face, I recommend their latest book "The Looneyspoons Collection"... quite delightful.  I'm thinking of Fullafel Patties for supper... perhaps with a little dill?


  Dill evokes memories for me... the childhood soups I grew up with; beef borscht in the winter, summer borscht loaded with dill in the summer.  The Russian borscht I make now is my husband's family favourite - vegetarian and loaded with potatoes, cabbage and lots of dill.


  Another memory of my mother-in-law, now in heaven, is the summer stew she used to make.  Quite easy, really, and I don't have a recipe.  Basically you steam or gently boil new potatoes, carrots, anything new in the garden... beans, zuchinni, whatever... until just done.  Meantime, you make a white sauce; this recipe comes from my old stand-by cook book "Joy of Cooking".



Thin white sauce
Use as a base for cream soups, thin cheese sauce, and other sauces
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (recommended - adjust to your taste)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper (recommended – adjust to taste)
1 cup milk, or rich cream
Add LOTS of dill!!  
Coat your potato mixture and serve hot.. If you need more vegies, I've added frozen peas too.  But really not necessary in the height of summer.
  So if you live in Vernon, and happen to read this on the week of July 16, and you drop by my house, you will find a bucket of dill for the sharing on my doorstep... just help yourself!  Of course you can always knock on the door and if I'm around we can share a cup of iced tea...
  So much dill... it reminds me of how God does things lavishly... he pours out his love, his creativity and there is joy for the taking.  


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Heatwave

  Flooding, rain, wet, cold; it was our mantra for the spring and early summer.  I was pretty happy about the sunshine, finally... and with it came the heat.  I hear it talked about in hushed whispers... no one dares complain, isn't this what we were waiting for?

  My garden is happy, lush with green, but hungry for water.  I found a zuchinni lying quietly, hidden in the shade, and quickly picked it before he burst any bigger.  We'll see what zuchinni recipe we find for this treasure...

  But the heat is hard on people, the change drastic, and it can be suffocating for some.  I was talking to my neighbour today, without air conditioning, and how difficult it was to manage.  We simply are not used to it.
What we saved on watering and electricity in our wet months of May and June is being used up with a vengeance!

  I was thinking of the word "moderation" today, and decided I quite liked this word!  We humans crave moderation; at least some of us do.  I guess there will always be some that like living on the edge of extreme but most of us like to live a moderate life...not too hot; not too cold; just so we don't even notice it; thank you very much!

    When we think of the elements we can't live without - fire (heat), water; the air we breathe - we are so dependent on them, and yet each in extreme can present hazardous living.  I am thankful for warmth, for air conditioning, for water to drink, and bathe, for clean air to breathe. And we protect against the ravages of fire, the damages of water, and value clean air.   All are gifts I can take for granted; they are also reminders of powerful substances beyond my control.

  Perhaps on a hot day like today, it is a good reminder once again to be thankful.  For all these gifts which we are given, and are called on to manage wisely, as much as we are able.

 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

treasures

  I can hear her voice yet, calling me in the berry patch.  Under my Grandma's (Tina Siemens) watchful eye I was to be picking raspberries, and it was her job to teach me well.  Not an easy task for a grandma and an eight year old.  But learn I must.

  That was the beginning of my raspberry career, and I hear her still... "You missed some!".  "You need to gently pull apart the branches and look inside!"  "Look underneath - you missed some more!"  And I'd go back to find the red treasures I had missed all together.

  I don't think I've missed too many summers since.  I love raspberries, and I love picking the fruit of my labors.  After pruning and watering, and thinning and fertilizing, the month of July comes and the fruit is so sweet!  If I could I'd eat them every day, and for the month of July - I mostly do.

  Tonight as I picked my little patch, and gently looked inside, and after picking all the outer ones, carefully poked my head underneath - to discover even better berries hidden in the darkness.  I had to look, but there they were!

  It made me think of one of my favourite verses, from Isaiah, which says :  "I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."

  It seems I've seen my share of darkness lately.  Perhaps that is partly the work of a chaplain, but I think it is true for most of us.  We see only the outer, and sometimes it is filled with pain, and we don't understand.  I find it so comforting to know that God sees the whole picture, and that he gives us beautiful treasures, which are often only found in the dark places of our lives.  And He calls us by name!!!

  I love that illustration of the tapestry - we see only the knotted side, a small piece, but He sees the complete tapestry.  This is the mystery of God, and some day we will comprehend the full picture.

  In the meantime, I have raspberries to eat.  Which remind me of God-given treasures!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What If?

  In a contemplative mood, and feeling grateful for my Country, and my life, I thought to myself... "What if?..

What if... I was born in a third world country?  A country of poverty, and little opportunities, and famine, and wide-spread AIDS?

 What if... I was the child of parents who couldn't afford to raise me?  When we visited Peru, years ago, a family approached our relatives who lived there with the offer of their little girl as a maid.. for room and board.. because they could no longer afford to raise her.  It was so sad.. and I think, at least in my country, there is foster care in place, and children don't have to work..

  What if... I was hungry and my only option was to beg on the streets?  We live in the land of plenty, my garden is lush with produce, orchards spill over our hillsides, bearing every kind of fruit.  The excess is often given away, to wonderful organizations in our area, like the "Gleaners", or the "Mission"... I know that there are those who might find charity difficult (and I don't wear their shoes, so I can't say I completely understand), but there are places to go for a warm meal, and I am thankful to all who contribute there...

 What if.. I lived in a place where medical treatment was scarce and expensive, and out of reach?  How would we have coped last year with the extra financial burden of three family members in the hospital, two in ICU?  This was not part of the burden; and I am so grateful.

 What if... I didn't have a loving family.  Please note, that I didn't say "perfect" family... there are none of those!  But we did have a loving family, with aunties and uncles and grandparents and parents, and an extended network of loving friends.  Lots of support, lots of love... and I want to spill that love over to those who perhaps need a little extra..

  What if... I didn't have the opportunities for learning and education?  Would I be whom I am today?  I am thankful for teachers, and people who believed in me, and encouragers along the way.  And I think of those who believe in education and teaching and build schools in third world countries, and those who supply books and teachers, and I am grateful..

  What if...I didn't have the freedom to worship as I choose?  That I would have to hide my faith or go underground, or pray in secret would be so very difficult.  But I can freely worship my God, and I am grateful I live in a country that is free.

  I often think of the Canadian anthem... and I will make the confession that when singing it, I can often get emotional.  "God, keep our land... glorious and free".  It is a prayer, a sacred prayer of thanks, and that we appreciate and treasure this gift of a country we live in.

  The fact is, I am a Canadian, and grateful for my life... a belated happy birthday to the country I love.