Sunday, March 30, 2008

how do you spell indulgence?

SUNDAY - Last curling update (I promise)

Well, they did it!! After a nail-biter game against Japan on Saturday (where the Jones rink was behind until the very end, stealing to tie in the 10th end, then stealing again to win in the 11th overtime end), today's game was not quite as tense. At least they were ahead for the whole time we watched (from the 5th end on). They won the game in the 10th end when they were up 7:4 and ran Japan out of rocks. In both games there were some fabulous shots made by both rinks.

Judging by the emotional response of our ladies on the podium - they wanted this pretty badly. So happy that they got it - and in Canada too. CONGRATULATIONS!!


















Related stories:
The Star
CBCsports.ca
Canadian Press

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Update Saturday:

Jones' rink lost to China in the 1:2 game last night. Thus she plays Japan (who were looking almost invincible against Sweden yesterday afternoon) in the semi-final this afternoon. She and her girls will need to bring their top shot-making to that game.

We're pulling for you Jennifer (who has her very own page at Wikipedia).


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C-U-R-L-I-N-G.

At least that's how we spelled it on Monday.

E. and I decided that since we were going right through Vernon on our way to visit Dad in Kelowna, we might as well indulge ourselves and take in one of the draws at the Ford World Women's Curling Championship. Here are some scenes from the match between Canada and Italy.

The parade of curling rinks participating in the afternoon draw, led in by bagpipes.

video

Canadian skip Jennifer Jones delivering a rock in an early end.


Skip Jennifer Jones and third Cathy Overton-Clapham - discussing strategy.

Second Jill Officer delivering a rock.


Italy



Half a game still to go.


Canada eventually won 6 to 9. And as of right now (Wednesday night) they are tied with China in first place with a record of 8 wins and one loss.

Would we do this again? We might take in the odd game here or there. But the truth is, we can see much better from our front row seats at the TV in the living room, than we could at the event, especially when the play was on the opposite end from where we were sitting. Of course at home one misses all the excitement of the crowd and cheering the favorites on in person.

Friday, March 28, 2008

book review: Wrestling With Angels by Carolyn Arends


Title: Wrestling With Angels: Adventures in Faith and Doubt
Author: Carolyn Arends
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers, 2008
Genre: Christian Living
ISBN: 0736920617

If the cover matter and multi front-of-the-book endorsements don’t ratchet up your expectations for a fine read in Carolyn Arends’ (yes, the singer, songwriter) Wrestling With Angels, then reading the introductory chapter probably will. Arends, whose writing style has been likened to Don Miller's and Anne Lamott's, does just what the cover suggests – wrestles with God (in the mode of Jacob wrestling with the angel) over the stuff of her life. In 20 chapters’ worth of multi-layered essays she tells her stories and, using them almost like parables, extracts mysteries of the divine, letting us in on the uncertainties and certainties she has discovered along the way.

She relates her journey mostly chronologically. Her stories, which go from remembering how she puzzled over which shoe belonged on which foot in kindergarten to birthing her son, are easy to get caught up in – told as they are with humor, self-deprecation and a little hyperbole. It’s how she manages to wring life lessons from these everyday events that makes this book more than a light and entertaining read.


In this probe of her life she covers topics like doubt, prayer, God’s existence, death and life after death, God’s goodness versus the existence of evil, and more. Her own insights are fortified with end-of-chapter quotes by spiritual thinkers across the ages from Brother Lawrence and Lady Julian of Norwich to Malcolm Muggeridge, Frederich Buechner, and others. Followers of her music will also recognize lyrics from some of her songs included in appropriate places.


Wrestling With Angels made me feel like being honest – with God and myself. It gave me the urge to sift through the stories of my own life to see what kind of “Ebenezer stones” I could unearth. As a fan of Arends’ music, I also enjoyed this tour of her world and history. I now understand and appreciate where many of the themes that appear in her song lyrics have come from.


However, you don’t need to be a Carolyn Arends groupie to get something out of this book. If you’ve asked hard questions like, why do people get Alzheimer’s disease, what was with the year my family experienced one bad thing after another, and how can a supposedly good and loving God permit evil to win sometimes (in the world and in my own life), you will find in Arends a sympathetic fellow pilgrim who grapples with your issues. Though she never pushes her answers, or lack of them, as the only way to see things, she’s given these issues a lot of thought and is articulate and persuasive in defending her position.


Wrestling with Angels was first released in 2000 as Living the Questions (also published by Harvest House Publishers). This 2008 release includes current web site information about where to interact with the author for questions and discussion.


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For dozens more book reviews, visit Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

furniture


Remembering summer

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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: PETS (Dogs, Cats, Rabbits, Hedge Hogs, Hamsters, Birds, Fish, Reptiles,...)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

welcome baby Liam


Well, we're back from our ten-day get acquainted session with grand-baby Liam. What a sweet time it was. I spent a lot of time preparing food (made a meal each night with extra to put in the freezer for busy days when the new mommy doesn't have time to cook), and cuddling and wondering over the new baby -- memorizing his face, trying to interpret his grimaces and face screwings, telling him how wonderful he was during the times he was awake and looking into my face with wide-eyed infant curiosity (how amazing -- to have one's face be one of the first memories engraved in the soft wax of a new baby's brain).

Here he is at two days old, beautiful "stork bites" and all.



Uncle B. likes him.


Grandpa likes him.


Grandma too.



Daddy loves him a lot.


Rupert does too - at least judging from the lickey kisses he tries to sneak in every time he walks by.



But we all think Mommy (whom we affectionately call the Dairy Queen) is the one he likes best.

Friday, March 14, 2008

easter pysanka

I've been saving this beautiful Vegreville pysanka statue / weather vane for this season. Here it is today -- a week before Good Friday.

We stopped in Vegreville on our trip through Alberta last fall to photograph this largest pysanka in the world. It was put up in 1974 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the RCMP and to celebrate the cultural diversity of the Vegreville community. Hubby, standing at its base, gives an idea of its size.


Pysanka are traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs. They are made with chicken eggs using a batik process, where wax, funneled through the tip of an instrument that's as fine as a pen, provides a resist to many baths of dye. The end result is amazingly intricate and colorful.

My husband is of Ukrainian descent and his mom had her own collection of pysanka -- not made by her, though.

For a detailed description of the process and explanation of what the colors signify, visit "Art of Ukrainian Pysanka" by artist and muralist Patricia Buzo of -- Patricia's Palette.

For a collection of hand-made pysanka that spans years, check out Luba Petrusha's Annual Collections gallery. Click on each year (top) to view the collection of that year's pysanka. Absolutely stunning!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

green


Spring swordplay

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Thursday Challenge

Next week: EXPERIMENTAL (Blurry Photos, Use of Filters, Unusual Angles, Accidental Shots, Overexposures,...)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

it's a . . .


BOY!!

I don't have any pictures to prove it - yet - but I am now a grandma to Liam Walter. He came into this world at 3:10 this morning, tipping the scales at 9 lbs. 1 oz., and stretching to 21 inches. His mommy says he is beautiful and chubby with dark hair.

The labor and delivery went smoothly - a real answer to prayer. Tomorrow we will go to visit. I will surely be back soon with proof of this little wonder.

book review: Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen

Title: Lady of Milkweed Manor
Author: Julie Klassen
Publisher: Bethany House, January 2008
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 0764204793

“Twenty-year-old Charlotte Lamb laid her finest gowns into the trunk . . . . Then came her promenade dresses, evening dresses and gayer day dresses. . . .

She looked at the trunk filled with her beautiful years, her happy vain youth, and firmly shut the lid.”

In this way Julie Klassen introduces us to Charlotte on the morning of the day she leaves home – to the good-riddance of her cold father, the vicar, and her jealous sister. But the leaving is anything but a relief to her. For she is on her way to London and Milkweed Manor, a lying-in hospital for unwed mothers. In Lady of Milkweed Manor, Klassen goes on to tell the story of Charlotte’s coming-of age through the birth of her child and the difficult decisions she must make as a single mother in early 19th century England.

Klassen establishes and sustains the historical ambience of the book with all the right paraphernalia. She’s obviously done her homework into what people wore, ate, drove, how they spent their leisure, even how they talked: “A pleasant prospect?”, “How fortuitous . . . .”, “Is this a new affliction?” The society she has created is rife with class consciousness, courtly though sometimes insincere manners, and strong ideas of what is and isn’t acceptable. It reminded me of the world of Jane Austen.

I found the characters, who take their cues from their time and place, realistic, though sometimes irritating. People then were so ingratiatingly polite and stuck on appearances! Toward the book’s first lady Charlotte I felt mostly sympathy. Dr. Daniel Taylor is a very nice man – almost too virtuous to be believed – and worthy of the romantic tension that flows between Charlotte and him through much of the story. The only rank villains are the immediate members of Charlotte’s own family. Other characters like Lizette, Katherine and Charles provoked a range of feelings in me, from pity to outrage.

The plot is neat and well-conceived, though there were times when I just knew where Klassen was taking me by the way she manipulated events. In other words, sometimes the plot felt more contrived than inevitable. The ending is managed nicely though, and the story kept my interest.

The book includes some nice stylistic touches like the epigrams at the beginning of each chapter. These brief bits, taken from books, newspapers, medical writings, hymns and letters of the time, focus on the milkweed plant, wet nursing, and medical and common wisdom. They not only kept me immersed in the atmosphere of the time but through them Klassen manages to slip in some lovely symbols. One such is the butterfly, which becomes a metaphor of what the story’s events achieve in Charlotte’s life.

One of the book’s predominant themes is love, and the sacrifices that love makes possible between lovers, and parent and child. Mothering is another main theme. How our views of pregnancy and mothering have changed from then to now! The book is also an interesting study of how motherhood was different for the rich versus the poor. It is in the role of mother that Charlotte makes her most agonizing decisions and proves herself a heroine worthy of our respect and admiration. Klassen also explores at length the part wet nurses played in the scheme of 19th century parenting.

Lady of Milkweed Manor will warm the heart of any mother – experienced or to-be. Women of all ages will find in it not only a beautiful tale but a fascinating study of women’s roles in a time not so terribly distant. I’d say bravo on a fine debut – and here’s hoping for another finely crafted historical from Klassen soon.

Monday, March 10, 2008

a God-wink


Sometimes God reminds me that He knows me very well and is "intimately acquainted with all my ways." Such a reminder came last week.

On Monday morning while doing some jobs in the kitchen, I was listening to the radio. Our local talk show host was interviewing a policeman on how successful they are at getting convictions for drunk drivers. Not very – because of the way lawyers who defend them get them off by using technicalities, plea bargain serious convictions down to lesser ones, and use case law to get sentences that are slight.

Our legal system is a burr in my saddle at the best of times. So I fired off an email - to the show’s host with my own homemade solution to the problem, after which I thought – I wonder if he’ll read it. However, I certainly didn’t have the time to hover around the radio to find out.

The next day, Tuesday, a few minutes before noon, I flicked on the radio again as I began preparing lunch. Not two seconds later the producer (of the same show I’d sent the email to the day before), who was apparently winding up the program by reading listener responses, read my email from the day before.

What are the chances that it would get read on-air and, further, that I be listening at that precise moment to hear it? Yet it happened. The God who knew the thing I desired, brought it to pass, though I hadn’t even expressed it in a formal prayer.

This little incident comforted me. Surely if God sees and acknowledges my so insignificant desire with an answer, I can trust that He also knows my more serious ones and will bring them to pass in His good time.

You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down
And are (intimately – NASB) acquainted with all my ways.
- Psalm 139:2,3 NKJ

Saturday, March 08, 2008

more spring




Friday, March 07, 2008

frivolous friday


Archeological Logic

After having dug to a depth of 10 meters last year, New York scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed, California scientists dug to a depth of 20 meters, and shortly after, headlines in the LA Times newspaper read: "California archaeologists have found traces of 200 year old copper wire and have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers."

One week later, Moose Jaw Times Herald, a local newspaper in Saskatchewan, reported the following:

"After digging as deep as 30 meters in sagebrush fields near Moose Jaw, Ole Johnson, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Ole has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Saskatchewan had already gone wireless."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

games



Scrabble Challenge

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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: GREEN (Money, Fruit, Leaves, Plants, Uniforms, Clothing, Leprechauns, Good for the Environment,...)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Book review: Danny Gospel by David Athey


Title: Danny Gospel
Author: David Athey
Publisher: Bethany House, April 2008
ISBN: 978-0764204449
Genre: Contemporary Christian fiction

One morning in October 2001, a beautiful woman in white comes in to 25-year-old Danny Gospel’s trailer in Iowa City, kisses him lightly on the lips, and leaves. At least Danny believes this happened. He believes to the extent that he forsakes his job as a mail carrier. Instead he sets out on a quest to find her and the happiness that he expected would be his fifteen years earlier when he was ten and his Iowa farm family achieved local fame as the Gospel Family Singers. In Danny Gospel, a debut novel by David Athey, we follow Danny as he searches for happiness, love and a little bit of ground he can call his own.

Okay. So we’ve determined the plot is a quest. But this is a quest unlike any other you’ve been on. It’s as capricious as a dream. Danny goes for long trips in his truck looking for a lost neighbor, makes impossible escapes from local authorities, drives for days and nights to Florida, and there gets pulled overboard by an impossibly big king (fish of some kind) yet lives to tell the tale. It reminds me of a Salvador Dali painting – bizarre pieces of plot flung all over the place with very little sanity holding it together. Because, you see, Danny is insane – at least that’s the rumor.

The book is written in first person with Danny the distractible story teller. Any little thing -- a word, a slant of light, a smell -- will trigger memories. All those vignettes (beautifully told; Athey’s writing is often poetic and the back-story bits were my favorite) help us fill in the details of the well-meaning but flawed and tragedy-prone Gospel family. Maybe it’s no wonder Danny is the way he is.

Danny is not the only colorful character. There is also Grease, his loyal friend and rescuer, Holly, his dead sister who was obsessed with Christmas, Jon, his older brother whom he loves and hates for the part he played in letting the farm and the Gospel possessions be wrenched from the family, a high-rider pink Cadillac, and the rowdy bunch in Florida.

Kindness, acceptance, loyalty and finding love are themes woven through the story, I think. There is also a vein of spirituality buried just below the surface – with snippets of the old gospel songs the family used to sing constantly bubbling into Danny’s consciousness. He still clings to the hope that one day he’ll write a spiritual that is worthy of the genre. But the message is mixed. What does one do, for example, with Grease’s penchant for the raunchy, all those bloody fights and a kid who sells marijuana to save the family ministry?

Before I read the book, I read the cover. The description used words like “funny, poignant, revelatory, elegiac, luminous.” Phyllis Tickle’s endorsement said: "Danny Gospel is as compelling and engrossing a read as I have had lately….[It] will humble your heart and invite your soul to re-consider some of its assumptions.” This will be great, I thought.

But barely into the book I knew that if I weren’t reading to review, I would never have finished it. I went online to see what others were saying. There weren’t many reviews but the ones I found were equally positive. That’s when the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” came to mind. Could it be that no one had the nerve to say – this is nuts?

Or at any rate, and running the risk of sounding like a rube who must have even obvious jokes explained, I don’t get how it is all those wonderful things. Maybe I need a refresher course in symbology. All I can advise is read it and judge for yourself. Is it elegiac, luminous and assumption-changing or a completely improbable, albeit rollicking and sometimes entertaining-though-irrelevant dreamscape? Danny Gospel is scheduled to be released in April of 2008.

Monday, March 03, 2008

silencing christians


Janet Parshall (U.S. Christian broadcaster) is doing an interesting new TV series called "Speechless: Silencing the Christians." The premiere episode launched Saturday night on the INSP channel and was webcast simultaneously on AFA.net.

Episode 1 description:
Renowned author and commentator Janet Parshall takes you on a journey across the country to meet citizens who have been arrested for speaking out at a public rally, students who are being forced to attend classes that require them to recite verses from the Koran and to stage their own jihad and activists pushing social tolerance to such an extreme that the Bible itself is being labeled “hate speech.”


A series trailer and Episode 1 are available to watch on the Silencing Christians website as well as on AFA.net. (It looks like a sign-up is necessary; I hope it's not one of those shows that's blocked to Canada!)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

keeping power of the Gospel

Back in April of 2005 I posted six-part excerpt from the book Christ's Witchdoctor by Homer Dowdy. It is the story of how Elka, a shaman leader of the Wai-Wai people of South America, made a decision to follow Jesus instead of continuing to pursue the spirits ('Kworokyam' he called them). The excerpt I posted begins here.

Yesterday I got an email from someone named Marcos. Here's what he wrote:

My name is Marcos. I am from Brazil. I was searching for articles about Wai-Wai tribe and I reached yours. It seems to me that the story of Elka impacted your life. I decided to send you this e-mail because I was visiting the Wai-Wai tribe this past week. We went there to teach the leadership how to prepare a VBS and at the same time, have a VBS with Wai-Wai kids.

They are such a neat people. Still hungry for the word of God. The only tribe in Brazil that has the complete Bible translated into their native language. That is also the only literature they can read. Since gospel reached them, they learned how to read and write. Sending you some pictures. If you want any other or any extra info, just let me know.


I wrote back asking who had translated the Bible for them and whether Elka was still living?

Marcos replied:

The Bible was translated by UFM (Unevangelised Field Mission). The translation started in 1955 and finished in 2002.

Elka is resting in peace. His body is in another Wai-Wai village named Jatapuzinho. My friend does not know when and what caused his death.

This present-day report about the Wai-Wai people makes me so happy. What an impact Elka's decision of so many years ago has made. What a testimony to the keeping power of the Gospel in that his people are still following Jesus today!

Below is a slide show of photos of the Wai Wai people taken by Marcos on his visit. Many thanks to Marcos for giving me permission to share them.


projects unending


After I finished knitting the baby afghan a few weeks ago, I realized I should not be without a make-while-watching-tv project ever again. So I've begun another one.

Something I inherited from my mother is the wonderful Reader's Digest Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches. It contains 350 pages of stitch combinations (about 900 stitches) to make every possible combination of pattern and edging and granny square and lacework that you can imagine, along with color photos.

I decided in this project to renew my acquaintance with crochet (something I haven't done since granny squares were in, super long ago). I found the section of medium-weight stitches which I thought would be the right weight for another afghan. There I picked out a Crosshatch Stitch 1 with a skill level of "easy".

I decided to use the white yarn I had left over from the baby afghan I knitted. After completing several inches of white, I began to get bored so have been adding color stripes using yarn I had left over from another project. Since this morning I've completed the row of white just after the pink and am now working on the blue row. I'm planning to continue the middle part in white, and then repeat the pastel stripes on the other end.

Once this project is done, I still have, thanks to my Ultimate Sourcebook, a lifetime's worth of more stitches and patterns to try out.

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