Welcome to my Blog!

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!

You can also find me on Facebook at Grace Notes, Thoughts and Prayers.

I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Could I buy some Serenity?

There has been some intention on my part in recent days to pay attention to self-care.  I set aside a day for that recently, spending a day up in the hills at a retreat center, with time to reflect, time with God, and time with two delightful soul-friends.

As I came down the mountain, I thought to myself... I need to drop by my naturopathic doctor's office for I had run out of a supplement that supports the adrenals... also part of self-care!

The office where I needed to go was surrounded by road work, and I took one road, then another, only to find I was blocked and had to go the long way around.  I finally found my way, and announced to the girls at the desk, "I need to buy some Serenity!"

It made sense to me, the product is called Serenity Pro, but as soon as it slipped out of my mouth, we all realized how funny it was.  "Make that two", I said...

As we all lamented about the lack of access to their office and the general stress we all felt, it was great to laugh about buying a little serenity!

If only it was that easy...

The other day I lamented to my hubby... I'd like to go to the store and buy some new body parts.  I was done with the aching.

There are lots of things we would like to "buy".  I'd be first in line to buy a cure for cancer, or a large dose of hope for someone I know who is depressed.  I'd like to tidy up the world, fix all the problems, and where could I go to buy some contentment for today?  I'd like to lift the stress off those I love, those who work hard and give it their all, day after day.  And peace in the world... well, you know where I am going.

I sat with a quote the other day from a book I picked up at the retreat center.  The book... which I didn't read fully, but skimmed, is called "The Spirituality of Imperfection" by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham.  A book I'd like to add to my reading list.

 In their introduction they quote: "The spirituality of imperfection speaks to those who seek meaning in the absurd, peace within the chaos, light within the darkness, joy within the suffering - without denying the reality and even the necessity of absurdity, chaos, darkness and suffering."

Choosing serenity is an acceptance of imperfection, or resting within the chaos of life, of seeing beauty even in the midst of life's challenges.  It always comes back to the beautiful serenity prayer,
 "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."  -Reinhold Neibuhr

May God, the God of peace, grant us the wisdom to do just that.




Friday, August 19, 2016

Zucchini Tango with a Mango - Peachy Salsa

Every once in a while I feel like writing a food blog.

I generally love cooking, but baking has gone by the wayside.

I wasn't going to preserve much this year, it has been a very busy year for us, and finding rest time is a priority!  But my salsa had run out, and it is one of our favourite things...

Like many, I have a love-hate relationship with Zucchini, but I've discovered a couple of awesome recipes, one a Zucchini Tomato Salsa which I have made for a number of years now, and another for Zucchini relish. Another of our favourites is Zucchini Quiche.

And so when I had a Zucchini on the ready, and peaches that need some attention, it seemed like a good idea to marry the two. If you have a food processor, this doesn't take long to put together, and today was a good day to use things up, I really hate wasting food.

I'm also learning to preserve food in small batches.  I remember the days when we had canning marathons and the counters would be filled with gleaming preserves.  We don't need that much food, and I don't have the time or energy for bulk canning, although I admire people who do.  Small batches, using up what I have, makes more sense to our current lifestyle.

I had already experimented with Mango a couple of weeks ago, and was pleased with the result.  I was inspired by a jar I bought in the store and thought to myself... how hard could this be?

Using a couple of recipes as guidelines, I came up with this.  And you might as well know, it is helpful to write this down for my sake... I will be looking for it next year!  I tasted the results and I thought it was quite good!

Peach-Zucchini Salsa

Process in a food processor, or grate, or finely chop:
3 cups zucchini
1 large Walla or sweet onion
1 large pepper, red or orange
3 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed.

Add 4 cups chopped peaches (and I added a mango to this as well, just because I had one).
2 garlic cloves chopped fine
a handful of cilantro, finely chopped
3 T. Lime juice
1/2 cup white pickling vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 T. salt (I used Himalayan)
1/4 cup sugar (I used Date Sugar)
1/2 cup liquid honey

Mix well together in a large stock pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.  Process in hot sterilized jars for 30 minutes.  Yield, 7 small jars.

I find this kind of salsa tasty on chicken, either in a stir-fry or in a crock-pot.  It would also be tasty on rice, or with crackers.

If you try it... let me know what you think!




Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Shadows

Early morning walk
In the August sunshine

Sun already warming my shoulders
Birds happily
Flitting
here and there
Before the midday heat.

Another day
I walked
Grandchildren and me
And we danced with our
shadows

"I'm stepping on you, Grandma!"
"Ouch" I reply!

Life casts shadows
Sometimes long and deep
Sometimes shadows hold
mystery,
heartache and pain,
and seem larger
than life itself.

And then I thought of the Creator God
Creator of the sun,
Author of the shadow
Does God have a shadow?
A shadow so vast
I can hide.

And my own shadow fades
overtaken and protected by
the large and sacred
shadow
of the Creator.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 
 Psalm 36:7



Early morning walk on the Commonage, Vernon BC
August 2016

Saturday, August 6, 2016

My Love-Dislike Opinions of the Olympic Games

So I'll admit right off this is an opinion piece.

I wrote about it four years ago... I just checked!  I was reminiscing then, on a article I had published when I was seventeen... in Seventeen magazine about my not-so-favorable opinions of the Olympic games.

You can read about it here!  Why Olympics?  Through the eyes of a Seventeen Year Old.  

The truth is that I am quite mesmerized by the games.  Especially the human-interest stories.  I love that there is a refugee team this year.  There are amazing stories of personal achievement, hard work, sacrifice.

There is enormous pride in our country and a sense of patriotism.  And beyond that there is a sense of Global community, of coming together, of celebrating the best of the best when it comes to athletic and physical ability.

I guess what got me going this week was a newscast that had two Olympic stories.  They were not related, and not reported as such.

The first story was about the poverty in Rio and the surrounding areas.  The reporter talked about the many slums and walked through some of them telling the story of deep recession, poverty and anger.  She talked about the huge expense of the games and how it was impacting the Brazilian people.  And it was not positive. Many of them live in slums, without much hope for tomorrow.  Many residents are bitter that money is spent on the opulent, not on the needs of the people.  These games will not benefit the locals, according to the story.
 
The second story was about the opening of our Canada House in Rio, to house and showcase our Canadian athletes.  It was posh, decadent, filled with Molson Canadian fridges  (not that I am against beer) .  It seemed like a little oasis, a temporary one at that, and perhaps it is true that is what Canadian athletes need to perform on the world stage.  But after the first story, it seemed opulent and indulgent.

The contrast was stark to me.  I felt like the rich Canadian looking on, but I wanted to look further.  I thought, what are Canadians doing as they visit this country, with their contingents of reporters, medical teams for their every need, healthy food and water, and who knows what else?

I would dare to ask, what do the rich countries do, coming into a place of poverty and need?   And perhaps there are those who have gone to help.  I want to hear those stories.

I WAS grateful for the first story, for awareness.  The question is always, what do we do about it?  It is always a good question to ask, because there is poverty in my back yard.  Do I care?  Do I do anything about it?  Do I notice?

These are never easy questions, but I believe that we need to have conversations, brain-storming conversations about how to care for the homeless, to bring real solutions to those struggling with mental illness and additions.

I felt anger as I pondered these things this week.  I've seen the raw side of the underprivileged in our community, and I wish we had better solutions to help; to make a difference.

So much need.  I am reminded though, that we can help, one person at a time.  We can raise awareness and speak out.  Because we are part of a global community, privileged to live in a wonderful country.

As always I'm grateful for the helpers.  For those who care, those who see, those who help us to know how to help, thank you!