Wednesday, May 31, 2006

it's family day today


on the Serpentine Fen.




Tuesday, May 30, 2006

promptings' potpourri


Want to know what 100-year-old tins of food look (or smell) like, how the bitter cold affects getting around with even the hardiest of machines and how to have a social life even in the night of an Antarctic winter? The Antarctic conservation blog is written by a team of three who describe what it’s like to spend the winter in Antarctica conserving the artifacts left behind in the hut built by Ernest Shackleton - 1908.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Here’s a wonderful story by Amy (Amy Loves Books blog) about what happened when she used ideas from Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages to teach Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying.

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Want to watch a love story unfold before your eyes? It begins with Rejected by e-Harmony (Infuze might ask you to sign up but it’s free and painless) with sequels here and here.

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Finally from my comment box, Judy suggests Mike Yip’s Vancouver Island Birds. Let his latest journal entry whet your appetite (and another ‘brilliant’ for you, Judy!).

Monday, May 29, 2006




















Beach Pea

Saturday, May 27, 2006

a year ago today

TWO














became ONE

HAPPY, HAPPY First Anniversary!

Friday, May 26, 2006

sand sculptures - the best of the best


The Harrison Sand Sculpture competition that usually takes place in early fall has now spawned a new event – the Vancouver Sun Tournament of Sand Sculpture Champions. This Mother’s Day weekend competition was only for the best of the best: former world champions and medal winners.

The results are spectacular. They are on display on the beach, Harrison Hot Springs, until October 9th. It’s interactive too. Every visitor, attending the event between May 12 and June 30, 2006, will receive a ballot to vote for their favourite sculpture. These People’s Choice awards net the winners and runners-up $3000 and $2500 respectively.



The regular Sand Sculpture competition, this year the 17th Annual, is on again too at the usual time. Building is September 5-10 with the structures on display till October 9th.

Thanks to Rudy who gave us the heads-up on the new competition. His pictures are here.

(These photos are from last year's event, two angles of the 'Campfire Tales' sculpture. It won First Place People's Choice - 2005, team event and was constructed by Sandboxers - Victoria, Canada. Click to enlarge.)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

birds were posing

today on our walk around the Nico Wynd Golf Course (Nicomekl River).


This swallow was our greeter today on the dyke path.















I finally got a shot of the eagle visible inside the nest.















This heron is definitely contemplating lunch.















And I captured this kildeer another day farther down the path when he and his mate were bent on luring us away from a certain spot in the trees.

Filed in Birding

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

salmonberries


The first fruit of the season sighted on our Elgin Park walk today. They were given the name salmonberries by aboriginals because of how much they resemble salmon roe.

I probably don’t have to tell you that these are no longer ‘on the vine.’

book review: Presumed Guilty

Title: Presumed Guilty
Author: James Scott Bell
Publisher: Zondervan
Genre: Fiction General, Suspense
ISBN: 0310253314


Ron’s been acting strange for weeks, snapping at her and sleeping in the den. But when the police come banging on the door at 4:37 a.m., Dallas knows something is terribly wrong. By the end of Chapter Three and just sixty pages into James Scott Bell’s Presumed Guilty, we’re well into the unraveling of life as it was for Pastor Ron Hamilton and his wife Dallas. And after Ron’s arrest things continue to fall apart.

Setbacks and new information about the case cause Dallas to question if she ever really knew the man she married. Her high-maintenance war-damaged son, 24-year-old Jared, returns home bringing with him a whole set of other issues. And finally a ghost from her past appears in the menacing flesh, sending this reader’s suspensometer into the nail-biting range.

The plot is devious and intricate. (I guess we shouldn’t be surprised since Bell has written a book on the subject.) To untangle the mystery of whether Ron really did kill Melinda Chance, Bell takes us on a path of twists and turns. We find Dallas in a coffee shop with a private investigator, in a back alley, then a seedy bar doing sleuth work of her own, and in and out of the courtroom (where as a lawyer, Bell doesn’t hesitate to attempt to bedazzle us with his knowledge of the milieu and the lingo, even though I sometimes wondered, why do I need to know that). By book’s end and despite having kept my eyes peeled for her all the way, I have to admit Bell’s plotting had worked its sleight of hand on me (occasional consumer that I am of crime novels and TV). The final revelations, though predictable as to which big causes and players won and lost, gave me a case of mental whiplash.

The Christian worldview of the book’s main characters is outspoken. Through this lens Bell explores a wide-ranging set of themes from a dissection-at-close-range of sexual temptation and the pull of pornography, to spousal control and abuse (especially through minor characters Tiana and Jamaal, and Dallas’s involvement with an abused woman shelter), to parenting and father-son matters (through Jared and Ron), to forgiveness, to prayer and spiritual warfare, to even a treatise of sorts on the spiritual implications of Babylon. Oh, and there was another angel sighting (that’s two in my last three books).

The main character, maternal and idealistic Dallas, is likeable, strong, and seemingly unflappable. In fact at times she seems almost unrealistically so when, as the stakes rise, she roams the city in a most carefree way without even a look behind her, despite the fact her stalker is on the loose.

Bell limits our interchanges with Ron (who creeped me out – shallow, self-seeking and immature as he was) to brief journal entries – which give little away.

The couple’s daughter Cara plays a minor family anchor-type part.

Messed up Jared changes the most in the story. It is through him that the author explicitly lays out his faith cards.

Other secondary players, though somewhat one-dimensional, act in character, the prose is tight, the conversation terse and realistic, and there is just enough time between tense scenes to put one off one’s guard. It all works together to produce an entertaining and deliciously jumpy read.

************************

Disclaimer: The book Presumed Guilty was sent to me by Active Christian Media as a gift from the publisher who donated the books for reviewers.


Filed in Book Reviews.

Monday, May 22, 2006

rodeo - in the rain

Well, we did it. Rain to the contrary notwithstanding, we spent the afternoon at the Coverdale Rodeo. It was a first for Ernie (I’ve been before to the Calgary Stampede, Kispiox and Williams Lake rodeos).

We got seats under cover so we stayed nice and dry. Obviously the cowboys and -girls didn’t!

I pretended I was the event photographer. (Keep in mind, these pictures were all taken from our place in the stands.)


Saddle bronc riding. The rider must stay on for eight seconds. Points are given for the difficulty of the horse and the technique of the ride.


Steer wrestling. The steer is given a head start. The cowboy starts out mounted on his horse. The horse is trained to run by as the steer wrestler reaches for his steer. The steer must be flat on its side before official time is taken.


Wild cow milking. A bunch of wild cows are let into the field. Cowboys on horses rope the cows, catch them then one holds the cow while the second one milks. First three to the judges with enough milk win.


Team calf roping. The first cowboy ropes calf's upper section, the second ropes the hind legs. You win by best time.


Women's barrel race. Women race their horses around three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern then back across the score line. The race is run one horse at a time and the rider with the best time wins.





Bull riding ends the afternoon. Riders must stay on the bull till the buzzer goes (8 seconds), and are judged by their form and the difficulty of the bull's ride.

weekend journal

Friday - Look who’s getting better

We took Mom out for a walk to White Rock Beach. (We walked, she rode). After a walk down the pier and the sea wall we spent few minutes sitting with this bear. Then we went up to Marine Drive and had a feed of fish and chips at a table outside one of the shops.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday - “A Bright Particular Star” - Pacific Theater.

I love live theater and this world premiere, written and directed by Pacific Theater’s own Ron Reed, was no exception. It’s the story of Lilia MacDonald, daughter of writer George MacDonald and her passion for the stage and acting – this at a time when the stage was no place for a Christian young woman.

As always, I wished I could see it again. Rebecca deBoer, who played Lilia, was brilliant – a true star. We also especially enjoyed Dan Amos whose playing of Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll and Bicknell provided the comic relief. And the wonderful script / lines went by me far too fast. One needs to take something like this in more than once to catch all the nuances.

But I am too star-struck to ever be a credible theater critic. Probably even a bad performance would take me in. So I will quote from some reviews of others.

This is from Tim Anderson:

“A Bright Particular Star” is a play well-named. This historical drama about the family of Christian literary giant George MacDonald can also be seen as an apolgia for Vancouver’s Pacific Theatre, who present its premiere. The play focuses on George’s daughter Lilia, whose love for truth – both scriptural and aesthetic, takes her to the boundary places of righteous Victorian society.

“Playwright Ron Reed’s gift for multi-threaded dialogue shines throughout, where unintentional confessions flow from misunderstandings and assumptions. A measure of his accomplishment is how much is left unsaid, yet remains ever-present – rare is the script that writes silence so well.”
And this from Donald Adams (who played the father in PT’s last production Prodigal Son):

“I must say you have a BPS in Rebecca. (We) were bowled over by her luminosity. That’s a fairly rare quality...”
(Yep - ‘luminous’ is a good way to describe her performance.)

Finally, from Ron Reed’s write-up in the program notes:

It was deeply rewarding to use the occasion of living in Jack Lewis’s shoes (while rehearsing and performing SHADOWLANDS) to dig back into the life of his predecessor and mentor, preparing to revise and produce the premiere performance of A BRIGHT PARTICULAR STAR.... Often during the research and creation of this piece I’ve felt God’s hand in quite unusual ways – which, by the way, is not to claim some sort of divine inspiration for the piece or to blame God for any of the works’s shortcomings, but only to express gratitude and give credit where it’s due.”
It plays till June 3rd. So if you’re in the area...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday - church. Pastor continues in his series on the Holy Spirit. (Please, can I have some more?!)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today - We had thought of going to the Cloverdale Rodeo where “If it ain’t wild, it ain’t worth it!” (talk about going from the sublime to the....)

But it’s raining. So we’ll see.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

circuitous

My resolve to write one poem a week took me on a circuitous route this morning.

1. My weekly self-prompt here, is to write a list poem.

2. The week is almost done and I still haven’t written my poem – what shall it be?

2. The ubiquitous “Where I Am From” poems are lists; I’ll write one of those.

3. I remember seeing on Waterfall’s blog, earlier in the week, a link to such poems at Circle of Quiet and Holy Experience.

4. I also checked out Circle of Quiet’s list poem earlier and there saw links to the template.

5. I go to Circle of Quiet’s to find the template but on the way I see her list of “Ten things my mother taught me.”

6. I get distracted by Number 7. on that list: "Beauty can be found in little places (a small painting, a piece of pottery, a wood carving)”,

7. and I think - I have something beautiful like that: this little creamer that I bought at a rumble sale in England, and which has lived on my kitchen window sill these many years.



















8. Now I will go write my poem.

(Oh, before I go, I just had another circuitous thought. I'd like to see more people's beautiful small things. We could start a meme...)

Friday, May 19, 2006

the bad news about leafy spurge


This patch of green beauties appears on one of our walks every year about this time. I have always liked these exotic-looking flowers for their color, fragrance (from a distance), curious shape and the impact of a whole plot of them. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

But a close inspection of my field guide plus a little internet legwork tells me these plants are actually noxious weeds. They can even be dangerous to one’s health. Apparently the sap (latex), from all parts of the plant has malicious properties.

This latex can produce blisters and dermatitis in humans, cattle, and horses and may cause permanent blindness if rubbed into the eye. Protection is needed when handling leafy spurge. (More about leafy spurge)

*Sigh* I guess it's a good thing I always resisted picking any. Sometimes I prefer ignorance to the facts.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

the simple unaffected life


"The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies in the field, perfectly simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mold us.

"If you want to be of use to God, get righty related to Jesus Christ and He will make you of use unconsciously every minute you live."

- Oswald Chambers - My Utmost for His Highest

to Wormwood on The Da Vinci Code

Delightful parody /review on CBN.com. Here’s a tidbit to whet your appetite.

And at the creamy center of the story is the swaggeringly wild idea that Mary Magdalene (whom, incidentally, a cousin of mine once possessed briefly, only to be rudely evicted) would have married Our Chief Enemy! Oh, fatuosity! But again, it shrewdly plays into what the reader so wants to believe: that Jesus was not divine, and that all the demands that go along with his divinity may be conveniently ignored. And, perhaps most cunningly, it does not dismiss Jesus entirely, but patronizingly reduces him into a toothless sage, a veritable “nice guy.” Naturaly the author has added that requisite whiff of subversive sexuality. And oh, yes, hold onto your horns, Wormwood: Mary Magdalene is the Holy Grail! You see, her womb... oh, never mind! It’s just too rich!

Thanks Marilyn!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

holiness to the Lord

(From May 12 entry - devotional blog)

My last day of typing will be dictated today. I am coming to the end of an era of my life. After tomorrow’s typing I will be officially retired from medical transcription.

I am also coming to the end of the minor prophets. How apropos – this convergence of endings.

Today in my Zechariah reading, this jumped out at me:

In that day Holiness to the Lord shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the Lord of Hosts... (Zechariah 14:20,21 - emphasis mine)
Though I need to research the historic and cultural significance of the ‘bells of the horses’ what this passage says to me is God accepts, no wants, every little thing – even the most insignificant of things like the bells on the horses and the kitchen pots – as things set apart for Him.

And what rises in my heart is a desire for this to be the motto of my retirement: Holiness – set apart – to the Lord! What a grand thought. These days are so often considered selfishly - at last a bit of time for ‘me,’ time to indulge myself, travel, do the things I’ve always dreamed of doing...

But no. Now that the kids are gone, the pace is slower, but energy and vision are still strong – I want this time to be His beck and call. Like Phillip. He had all the time in the world to go on errands for the Holy Spirit, to take a trip to the desert to talk to the Ethiopian seeker, and then be swept away again to another place and another assignment. Or not. Because I’m sure that lots of my time will be spent right here, in my yard puttering in the garden, in this house, organizing and downsizing our stuff, or at this computer working on the assignment I’ve already been given, but have not had the time to complete.

Whatever it means, God please engrave 'Holiness to the Lord,' not only on my possessions, but on my heart.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

bamboo school and the border police - 3

[Introduction] [Part 1] [Part 2]

The story in brief: After being deported by the Thai border police 11-year-old Chickenbone makes his way back to Bamboo School. But when the police appear again, he’s so afraid that he decides to return to the refugee camp where his family lives. Principal Momo Cat wonders if the students will ever be able to live without fear.

Part 3/3 - Volleyball Showdown

"Momo! They’ve asked us to play volleyball for Bong Ti!" Fifteen-year-old Ehler’s face was beaming as he told school principal Catherine Riley-Bryan - called Momo Cat - the exciting news one day in early December.

"If we win, we get to play in a tournament," added 16-year-old Wilter.

"We’re calling our team the "Bong Ti Blues," added Ehler. "Could you drive us to the games?"

Momo looked into the shining faces of Ehler, Wilter, Wayldee, Yo and Leelee. "Sure," she said. She was happy the boys were finally getting a chance to play after all the hours they’d spent on their makeshift volleyball court - a stony patch with mosquito netting.

"Do you think we’ll win?" they asked her.

"Just pray, do your best," she replied, "and leave it in God’s hands."

There had been lots of things to leave in God’s hands in the last while, Momo Cat reflected. Her mind went back to the raid by the border police in May, the week before school had opened. That day Pastor David had been arrested. When 11-year-old Chickenbone tried to distract the police from beating the pastor, they had shot him and taken him away too. Pastor David was still under arrest, and though Chickenbone had found his way back to school in October, he’d left again a few days after he came. She breathed a prayer that he was safe.

There had been good things too - the trips to Bangkok with the school choir, the new school building just completed by visiting Australian missionaries, and now this unexpected sports honor.

A few days later, on December 5th , Bong Ti played their first game against Wong Po. As the nervous team members spilled out of Momo Cat’s dusty green Toyota Twincab after the drive, she wondered, would the Bamboo School team be any good?

At first they were nervous and their play was full of mistakes. But Somgrit, the Thai man from Bong Ti, who had volunteered to be their coach, never gave up.

"Now we’ll get them!" he encouraged the team, as the Blues regained the serve. "That’s okay!" he shouted when one of the Blues misjudged a serve or dropped a volley. Even when the team was far behind, he kept on telling them, "We can do it!"
And they did! A few hours later the jubilant winners piled back into the truck. By the time they were back in Bong Ti they had decided how they would use the 100 baht each had won. They would buy blue t-shirts for the team.

A few days later the boys played in Kanchanaburi and won again. With this win they made it to the championship tournament. Again they pooled their winnings, printed their t-shirts, bought an ice bucket, some cups, a new practice ball and lineament rub.

Then it was the week before Christmas and the three-day provincial volleyball tournament. It would be played Amphur Sai Yok, only 28 km. from Bong Ti. "Can we please go along to cheer?" the other students begged Momo Cat.

"You’ll be missing a lot of school," Momo objected. But she quickly gave in. And so the first day of the competition found everyone making their way - by truck, motorbike or songtowel (a type of tin truck) to Sai Yok and the volleyball tournament.

On the first day of the competition, the Bong Ti Blues won their games. On the second day, they won again. On the morning of the third day they won easily. For the rest of that day, they watched other teams trying to size up the remaining opposition.

One team was particularly tough. Made up of older, stronger men, they had no trouble beating every team they played.

"They’re all bigger than I am," said Yo, the team’s tallest player.

"So good," groaned Ehler.

"That guy who’s serving..." said Wilter, looking hard at him, "I think he was at the school the day Pastor David was arrested."

So that’s who they were ! Quickly word got around. This unbeatable team was made up of border police.

"Hope we don’t have to play them,"muttered Wayldee. He automatically rubbed the scar on his face - one of many he’d received from soldiers.

Finally, by late afternoon, the competition was down to two teams- the Bong Ti Blues and the Border Police.

"Hardly enough daylight hours left to play another round," someone said.

"Maybe they’ll just give the prize to the Border Police," another person suggested. "They’ve won every team by so much."

Momo Cat felt torn. She saw how nervous her players were to face the Border Police and she understood why. None of them had I.D. papers. Playing against the police would draw attention to the school and its students. Even a loss could make them a police target. On the other hand, if they should win - unimaginable as that was - Bamboo School could be an even bigger target, but God would get great honor.

A few minutes later the decision was made. The final games would go ahead.

The Bong Ti players were tense, their eyes downcast as they paraded in front of the net before the game, touching fingers with the police team. Only Somgrit’s eyes were up and blazing!

Though Bong Ti played hard, they lost the first game 10 to 25.

"Pray! Pray hard!" Momo Cat encouraged the cheering Bamboo School students.

The second game got underway. As the Blues began adding up the points, onlookers noticed a change in the players. Their early nervousness had disappeared, replaced by Somgrit’s courage.

The whole town and hospital staff had come to watch. Every time Bong Ti scored, a cheer went up from the crowd. At each break in the play, Momo Cat and the students prayed. Finally the game was over. Bong Ti had won 25 to 22!

As the third game began, the setting sun shone straight into the players’ eyes. It was almost impossible to see but they squinted against the glare and continued to play with everything they had. When Bong Ti pulled ahead by one point, someone called a time out.

"Please, God, give the boys strength," Momo Cat and the students prayed.

Play resumed as the Bamboo students chanted, "Go! Go! Go for God!"

Then Bong Ti was ahead by three points. Another time out was called.

"Please, God, keep us humble," Momo Cat prayed.

"Go! Go! Go for God!" The chant rose again. "Go! Go! Go for God!"

In rapid succession Bong Ti scored one point and then another. It was Bong Ti 15, Border Police 10. The game was over!

Cheers were deafening. Players were ecstatic. Ehler, fell to his knees in praise and exhaustion.

Quickly Somgrit called them to order and both teams paraded past the net for the final finger-touch. Never had the boys been so proud. Never had they been so thankful to God for victory.

After the trophy was presented, the crowd pressed in to congratulate the winners. Someone offered Ehler and Wayldee money to get their I.D. cards and make it possible for them to get more education. Representatives from other schools went up to individual players to offer them a spot in their school for next year.

Back at Bamboo School all was tense as Momo Cat and the students waited for the border police to get back at them. But after a few uneventful days, everyone relaxed. It seemed reprisals wouldn’t come –– at least not now.

*************************
Update:

It’s been a while since these events. I wondered, as I dug this story out of my files, was Bamboo School still in existence? And what about Momo Cat?

Google to the rescue.

On the Church Mission Society website (UK) I found this January 20, 2006 article about Catherine Riley-Bryan.

And on the March 27/06 WVI Newsletter blog, Allan Weatherall tells of a recent visit to the school. He ends:

It was inspirational to see how one woman’s faith and willingness to live humbly among the people can make such a huge difference to so many needy children, and how her Christian witness of love and good works continues to impact a whole community.
Amen to that!

motherhood potpourri

Mother’s day is over, but motherhood is way too vast a topic to confine to one day. There was some really fine writing about it on the web this past weekend. Here are some posts you won’t want to miss:

- The Erma Bombeck of young wiggling families, Mel of Actual Unretouched Photo begins her pre-Mother’s Day post:

At heart, I’m a pessimist . . . except on Saturday mornings. On Saturday mornings, I somehow trick myself into believing that I will get extra sleep, even on days when my husband leaves the house early, as he did this morning. My daughter wakes up at 6:55 a.m. and I barely open my eyes as I pluck her from her crib and run bath water.

So, did she get to sleep in? Read entire...


- Ann Voskamp (whose writing reminds me of Sue Monk Kidd) blogs at Holy Experience but is also one of the contributors to the group blog Choosing Home. “A Shepherd’s Mother” was on its front page for Mother’s Day. Her story begins:

I became a mother on the eve of Mother’s Day.

And when they placed that vernix-covered , wrinkled babe into my 21-year old arms that muggy Saturday evening in May, no wave of relief, or ecstasy washed over me. Being the first to caress another human being’s cheek, I only felt raw, unadulterated, strangling terror. If I could have ran, I would have. My weak, rubbery legs failed me.


Grab a tissue before you read "A Shepherd's Mother" along with the comments, where Ann’s mom - a big part of the story - takes us full circle in a beautifully serendipitous way.


- Bonnie Bruno at Macromoments is still missing her mother after saying goodbye to her, suddenly and unexpectedly, two years ago. She says:

Hug your mother on Mother's Day and memorize her smile. One day that image will fill in the gaps and warm your heart in ways you can't imagine.

Read “Memorized Smiles

Monday, May 15, 2006

beautiful mustard

With my new camera in hand, suddenly everything is a potential photographic subject!

Like this bouquet of four-petalled flowers which at first I thought was phlox. But it couldn’t be because phlox has five petals. On studying my field guide, I figure it’s probably a member of the mustard family - perhaps Dame’s Rocket?

But who would have thought mustard could be so pretty - with its petals that look like a pinwheel its ever-so-faint streaks of pink and that telltale family likeness, a mustard seedpod which, even at this early stage, is peeking through the flower’s center.

Seeing these closeups of flowers reminds me of relating to people. Just like it’s easy to ignore a stand of common mustard in my rush through the day, and miss its singular beauty, I easily miss the beauty of the people around me – never noticing the sparkle in that person’s eye, another’s unique way of talking, still another’s droll wisdom or contagious laughter.

I think of Jesus who noticed a man with a misshapen hand (Luke 6:6), invited a despised tax collector to be part of His in-crowd (Matthew 9:9), saw Kingdom potential in rough, common fishermen (Luke 5:1-11) and was moved to tears at the weariness and lostness of a whole crowd of individuals (Matthew 9:36). If God knows the number of our hairs, He surely sees and values the unique beauty of each one of us.

I want to be more like that. I want to take the time to focus on, see and appreciate the beauty of the supposedly unexceptional individuals that walk through my life – like these macro flower shots help me to see the beauty in, of all things, mustard flowers!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

happy mother's day!

To my beautiful Mom.

Then: The photo she gave to Daddy when they were courting.



And now: Selling her homemade greeting cards at the Villa craft sale - November 2005.

~#~#~~~#~~~#~#~

Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come
She opens her mouth with wisdom
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed...
Proverbs 31:25-28-NKJV

~#~#~~~#~~~#~#~

Thank you, Mom, for giving to each of us so generously!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

not just any port will do

I know a lot more today than I did two days ago about this. It’s my 2006 all-occasion gift from hubby, covering birthday, retirement, Mother’s Day, 25th wedding anniversary, and probably Christmas too.

After our trip to Future Shop yesterday I spent the afternoon puzzling through the operation manual, pushing buttons and arrows, cycling through menus, downloading software and finally taking a few test photos.

All went swimmingly until I came to the final step, transferring photos from memory card to PC.
I followed the procedure described in the manual to the letter but on pushing the button that should have seen my computer leap into action and begin transferring pictures - nothing.


So I plugged and unplugged devices, restarted the computer, tried to reload the USB driver (it was already installed – did I want to uninstall it – Cancel!), fiddled with the cable input into the camera but after at least an hour of repeating each of these things many times I still had no transfer and was completely stymied.

As a last resort, I checked the back of the CPU to where I had plugged in the USB cable. That connection had sure seemed wiggly earlier and I wonder if by chance it had fallen out.

For some reason I noticed, then, while peering back there, the smallest of openings beside the USB port that connects to the printer. Could it be that this was where that cable belonged, and not that bigger loose port. I easily slipped the cable from its sloppy porthole, then jiggled and coaxed it into its proper snug one. Duh!

I went to bed then, but this morning my jpgs tranferred smooth as oil. I have lilacs to prove it.




Can’t you almost smell them?

I love my new Panasonic digital camera (with its 10x zoom and built in stabilizer). Although I’m sure I’ll never be a macro expert like Bonnie and Tim, or compose as beautifully as Island Sparrow's friend Rhinda (though Islandsparrow takes some pretty fine pictures herself), I plan on having a lot of fun! And along with all the stuff I learned about the new camera - I am now also very clear on what a USB port looks like!

Monday, May 08, 2006

for the nature voyeur

The Hornby Island eagles left their nest sometime last Thursday, after disposing of the second non-viable egg.

Now the camera crew have trained their cam (via crane) on another eagle nest, this one near Swartz Bay, Vancuver Island. This nest has two baby eaglets in it. Here are some of today's screen shots from the Infotec forum.

two beauties

Celeste, Sonia's good friend, posed for me in the wisteria-draped entranceway of her Cloverdale home last year about this time.

As my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Complete Guide to Gardening puts it: “For knockout glamour year after year, try wisteria. It’s hardy and blooms well in all but the coldest climates.”

I’ve never grown wisteria but for a romantic look I don’t think it can be equaled. The only thing wrong with it – too short-lived.

To propagate, layer stems in spring or plant semi-ripe cuttings in a cold frame in summer.

In the language of flowers, wisteria says, “Welcome fair stranger.”

Sunday, May 07, 2006

bridge accident

My ears always perk up when I hear news stories about places where I grew up. So Saturday morning when we heard there had been a bus crash on the Borden Bridge, about an hour's drive from our farm near Dalmeny, it grabbed my attention.

I heard later the bus was filled with kids from youth groups of the Dalmeny Bible Church and Waldheim, on a day outing to the West Edmonton Mall. This morning I got an email from my sister-in-law (visiting us last weekend). Their daughter, 16-year-old Kerri, was on that bus!
















Borden Bridge. Traffic now uses the two-lanes of bridge on the right; the pretty bridge that I remember is on the left.

My sister-in-law wrote:

...the busdriver passed out going down Borden Bridge hill between the two highways. They nearly flew into the river, but we say an angel made the bus turn and go onto the east bound road, got caught on the guard rail, "careened" the bus around and stopped it. Kerri has a few bruises.

Thank you Lord!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Book Review: The Secret Life of Becky Miller


Title: The Secret Life of Becky Miller
Author: Sharon Hinck
Publisher: Bethany House Publisher - June 2006
Genre: Adult Fiction - Contemporary
ISBN: 0764201298


Becky Miller has a lot going for her in The Secret Life of Becky Miller, a first novel by Sharon Hinck. Her three kids are adorable and funny. Her handsome salesman husband baby-sits their brood so she can attend her weekly night out with her four quirky friends. In fact he goes beyond the call of duty on those days when she does what just may turn out to be her "Big Thing For God" - lead her local church women's ministry.

Rumor has it that the church is planning to parlay her volunteer status into a full-time paid position. Everyone knows she's the obvious choice for the job. That plus the fact that she's been picked as a cover feature for the April issue of Women of Vision should finally convince her glamorous toy company executive sister that the life she's chosen really is going somewhere.

Of course nothing turns out quite as Becky expects. The result is a fast-paced, humorous yet thoughtful read that will find you sneaking chapters while waiting for the kids in the school parking lot or at the dentist, checking your shoulders for spit-up and facing the temptation to peg your friends as a Heather, Lori, Doreen or Sally type.

The way Hinck has chosen to tell this rather ordinary story of a rather ordinary woman is a major part of its appeal. The first person narration gives it that confessional feel, making us privy to Becky's thoughts, flattering to her or not. By the end of the book I was sure I'd recognize this woman if I met her browsing meat in Safeway or folding napkins for the annual women's rally.

Another intriguing and fun element is the vignette that begins each chapter. In this segment, never longer than one page, we join Becky in scenarios as far removed from her suburban Minnesota home as her imagination will take her — from running an orphanage in India, to surviving on an uninhabited island, to repairing a satellite in space. These scenes then segue into the action of the chapter (in the style of James Thurber's Walter Mitty), providing a delightful brain tickle as we twig onto how the haps and mishaps of Becky's real life reflect on and augment her daydreams.

The characters and plot of this book will definitely appeal to moms with young kids. But the book's preoccupation with what makes a life meaningful also ensures that it would be a worthwhile read for any woman or man mulling over how to live a life of significance while navigating through the everyday maze of needy people and duty-filled circumstances.

Hinck's skill with language (Being a mother was all about triage....The rapid ballet of the diaper change.... A grind of gears and a lurching timpani rhythm warned me. The washing machine was throwing another tantrum) and her comedic timing in telling this modern parable will delight anyone who enjoys good writing.

All that to say, don't miss this supermom saga. It's due to be released in June 2006.

Filed in Book Reviews - Adult Fiction

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

bamboo school and the border police - 2

INTRODUCTION

Part 1 of 3 - CHICKENBONE'S COURAGE

Part 2 of 3 - THE LONG WAY BACK

Bamboo School opened, as planned, on May 20th in spite of the raid by border police a week earlier. They will not have the satisfaction of shutting us down, determined principal Momo Cat.

She missed the help and friendship of Pastor David, who had been arrested in that raid. And she feared for 11-year-old Chickenbone. He had been shot by the soldiers when he had tried to distract them from beating the pastor. Had he survived?

May slipped into June. School days became routine. The fifteen dorm students woke every morning at 5:00 a.m. and went to bath in the river. Worship was at 6:00, breakfast at 7:00, then chores till 11:00. After lunch the students were joined by others who lived in the village and surrounding area, for classes. Everyone studied from 1:00 to 5:00 – languages (Thai and English), Bible (Thai, Karen), Health and Music. After a dinner break and worship, there was more studying from 6:30 - 8:30.

Through August, the students worked hard at their studies. Momo Cat formed a student choir which was soon singing in neighboring villages. She even arranged for them to travel all the way to Bangkok. The days at Bamboo School were mainly peaceful - except that the border police still made occasional visits.

On one of the trips away from Bong Ti, Momo Cat was reunited with Pastor David. He was in a place 200 km. from the school.

"They put me in solitary for 12 days," he confided to her. "They tried to make me say I was a spy. Now I am forced to stay in this house. I am worried. What will become of us?"

"God will take care of you and your family," Momo Cat reassured him. "Do you have any news of Chickenbone?"

"I heard he is alive," said Pastor David. "I think they took him to a refugee camp."

After a school break, classes started again in late September. Often, now, the border police swaggered into the village, and made their way up the hill to Bamboo School. When she saw them coming, Momo Cat prayed, and tried to hide her edginess from the students.

But in spite of her attempts to stay calm, the police made the students nervous too. Most of them didn’t have I.D. papers. They knew that one false move could see them loaded up and taken away - to prison, or a refugee camp or back to Myanmar and forced to join the army.

One October day a thin, disheveled boy wandered into the compound.

"Who’s that?" the students asked one another. They watched closely as he walked directly to the school building. He seemed to know his way around.

"Who are you, and what do you want?" asked one of the students.

"Is Momo Cat here?" the stranger asked, not raising his eyes.

The boy who had questioned him sized him up. There was something familiar about this ragged youth. Then it came to him. "Chickenbone!" he shouted. "You’re Chickenbone!"

Chickenbone's face softened to a hint of a smile. "Momo Cat," he said again, "Is she here?"

Quickly one of the students got her.

"Where have you been?" Mom Cat asked the exhausted boy. "And how did you find your way back here?"

Chickenbone didn’t seem eager to talk. But after he’d eaten, he told them a little.

"They took me in the truck, back over the border to Myanmar," he said. "They dumped me in a village. The people there cleaned my wound and put bandages on it. They fed me and took care of me for twelve weeks."

"But I didn’t want to stay," he went on. "As soon as I was strong, I left."

"How did you get back here?" Momo asked again.

"I made my rice way," he explained. "I worked a little. Enough for food. And then I traveled on. But I always had to watch out for the soldiers."

"How long did it take you?" asked Momo.

"Three months." Chickenbone replied. He showed Momo Cat his blistered and scarred feet, then snuggled close to her and took her hand.

"Now you are home," Momo Cat said to him, comfortingly.

But a few days later the border police again made their way up the hill toward the school. Fear filled Chickenbone’s eyes when he saw them.

All the time the police were talking with Momo Cat, Chickenbone hid. Finally they left. But the next morning, Chickenbone came up to her. "I am going," he said.

"But you just got here!" she exclaimed. "Where will you go?"

"To the camp," he replied, "to find my parents."

Momo looked into Chickenbone’s tired, fearful eyes and realized how terrifying the soldiers must seem to him, after what he’d been through. She went to the kitchen and made up a little bundle of food. Along with the food she packed some medicine for his feet and a new Bible. "God bless you," she said as she handed it to him.

She watched him make his way down the hill and disappear into the forest at the edge of the village. Would these kids ever be able to live in peace, without the soldiers or policemen hounding them, she wondered.

To be continued...

hornby island eagle cam

May 3/06 - Though the eagles are still incubating the remaining egg, in an April 30th post "Hornby Island Eagles Not Successful in 2006" (Hancock House forum) David Hancock says:

It appears that the Hornby Island bald eagle eggs are infertile. The first egg should have hatched April the 26 and the second egg today (April 30th). The first embryo, if it developed at all, is surely dead. The second embryo, could still hatch but I cannot see the proper pipping of the egg shell, where the chicks beak has broken through enabling it to draw in air, the precursor to the final struggle for hatching...
How sad.

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April 29/06 - I've had no luck connecting with the eagle cam since early this morning. The recent news coverage (in the Globe and Mail I'm told, plus CBC and on the local news) has made for a lot more interest and overloaded servers I'm guessing.

Yesterday on the CKNW local news, the story was that one egg had hatched. Were they talking about these eggs, I wonder? Or maybe they have a different definition of 'hatched. ' Early this morning when I did connect with the cam (5:55 a.m.) both eggs were mostly intact, though I could see movement through the hole of one of them - like fluff waving in the breeze.

If you're having trouble connecting to the live cam, the next best thing is viewing some of the still shots captured from today - here.

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April 28/06 - Update: I just saw the eagles do a switch - 5:55 p.m.

The eggs should be hatching shortly. Judging from close-ups shown here, they now have numerous cracks.

Here is a photo album / slide show of still pictures captured by Judie from Toronto, and which she is updating regularly.

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April 25/06 Update: Watching the eagle is definitely addictive! The Infotec forum is also interesting. For example, technically savvy and avid watchers post still shots captured from the video throughout the day.

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April 4/06 - Watch nesting eagles - live!

For years retired Victoria accountant Doug Carrick has enjoyed watching the eagles that nest on his Hornby Island property (Hornby Island is one of a string of Gulf Islands situated between the west coast of the B.C. mainland and Vancouver Island). In September 2004 he had a video camera installed in the nest while the eagles were on their annual migration.

With help from Surrey biologist David Hancock, the Streaming Eagle Cam* began operating on March 27th. We can now watch these birds, the wind rustling their feathers, sit for hours on those eggs with, occasionally, the sight of them changing places over the eggs or squabbling about who gets to decorate the nest with new sticks. The eggs were laid on March 21st and 24th and are expected to hatch around April 27th. The video runs for 24 hours. After dark, video from earlier in the day is played.

(Be patient. It takes about a minute for the picture to display.)

Filed in Birding

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

meddling

Are you ever tempted to meddle in your kids’ lives? My own little confession is in the May edition of Christian Women Online.

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