Tuesday, January 31, 2006

life is a fugue

Yesterday one of our pastors and his wife announced they have decided to take the senior pastor position in a small church in a neighboring town. It is always sad when a well-loved pastor decides to move on. We’re all a little shook, I think. But I loved his story of how it came about.

Ever since they moved to this area about ten years ago, he had loved the look of this particular little church. There was just something about it that fascinated and attracted him. He took any excuse he could to attend. In fact, it became their family’s summer holiday church – when he needed a break from the church in which he pastored (ours).

Then last summer, the pastor of the little church resigned. When Pastor D. heard that, he said he felt a leap inside – yet didn’t know what to do with his feelings. He talked to the head of the district, who told him to pray. The long and short of it is that in the interim he has come to the conviction that this is his next assignment.

I love this story so much, I think, because it’s similar to how I’ve often seen and felt God work in life – mine and others. He has a wonderful way of giving us signposts to alert us to what He might be doing and what might be down the road for us.

For example, when we sensed it was time to move to a different church a few years ago, the church we’d been attending Sunday nights because we loved their praise and worship was our obvious choice. Or, just a few months ago I had noticed J. in the congregation and had the idle thought she would be a wonderful person to meet. Wouldn’t you know it, there she was beside me during the rehearsals for the Christmas production. It can even happen in the biggies, like we fall in love with and eventually marry the person who once lived in our home town. That happened to me. Long before we ever met, my hubby’s family rented my Grandma’s house, and he played in the community band with my dad and brother. We never attended the same school or church in our youth, he went off to Toronto, I to Vancouver. But eventually when we did get together, there was a feeling of rightness about it - partly, I’m sure, because we had so much background in common.

In this way life becomes a fugue in which God transposes notes of our past into our present. If we’re listening we recognize a theme we’ve heard before, though it never repeats note for note but rather the familiar melody is enriched by our present circumstances and our wiser, maturer selves.

I don’t think one can predict the future by watching for these serendipities and fantasizing about how they might turn out. But I often find, on looking back, there were signs along the way which, when I ponder them now, give me a sense that it was all meant to be.

Monday, January 30, 2006

4 x 4 meme

The lovely Rebecca has tagged me in the 4x4 meme. So in this utterly self-absorbed post I will proceed to tell four facts about myself in four categories.

Four jobs I’ve had:
1. Nurse’s aide in a nursing home (my first job).

2. Unit clerk in a hospital (then called ‘Ward Clerk’).

3. Life insurance sales rep (HA! – and not for long!!)

4. Elementary school teacher.

Four places I’ve lived:
1. On a farm north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

2. Saskatoon, Sk.

3.Vancouver, B.C. (Kitsilano area in the late 60s, early 70s. I can still smell the patchouli.)

4. Hazelton B.C.

Four vacations I’ve taken:
1. Queen Charlotte Islands - ten days one August, biking from Massett to Sandspit with two other teachers.

2. A six-week western Canadian camping trip with my younger sister, just after she graduated from high school. We started in Saskatoon and looped through Banff, Radium, the Kootenays, Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island Victoria to Tofino, back to the mainland and Hazelton, Fort St. John, Jasper and home.

3. Two six-week summer school stints at Regent College in Vancouver. During those summers I took a course on Acts from John Stott, a course on Hebrews from Leon Morris and I actually drove Dr. Morris and his wife to the dentist.

4. Four months traveling across Europe with a friend. Those were in the days when backpacking across Europe was considered the standard cure for lebensangst.

Four vehicles I’ve owned:
1. 1968 Valiant (with a V8 motor - this car had zip!)

2. 1972 Datsun B210 (gutless)

3. 1981 Subaru

4. 1990 Mazda Protege (I loved this reliable car)

Four blogs I’d like to tag for this 4x4 meme:
1. Irene (if you visit her site, make sure your speakers are on).

2. Carol (who I met through Rebecca's post featuring Canadian bloggers a few weeks ago).

3. Julana (although she’s probably already been tagged)

4. Dulciana (who has just put up a spiffy new blog!)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Majed El Shafie--the heart of the solution

To celebrate hubby’s birthday we spent the day at Canada Place taking in Missions Fest . It got off to a great start with the first plenary session where Majed El Shafie told his story.

Majed was born into a prominent Muslim family in Cairo. He carried on the family tradition and trained as a lawyer. It was during his studies that he discovered it was illegal for Egyptians to build, rebuild or even repair Christian churches. His Christian friend Tamir avoided getting into head-on discussions with him about religious things, but he did give Majed a Bible. It was through reading it that Majed realized the differences between Islam and Christianity and discovered that Christianity offered a relationship with Someone who was alive. And so he made the decision to give his life and service to the Lord.

“Once you know the truth, you have two options,” he told us. “You are either part of the problem or the heart of the solution.”

He determined to help change things for Christians in Egypt and began a mission to bring the same legal rights to the Christian community as the Muslim community enjoyed.

After just two years his organization had grown to 24,000 Christians. One day he was arrested and thrown into Abu Zaabel prison in Cairo. “We know you,” his captors said, “and all about you. Now we want you to tell us the names of the people who work with you.”

Majed refused. And so the torture began.

The first day they shaved his head, and then plunged his head alternately into hot then cold water. He said it hurt a lot. But when they again demanded he name his compatriots, the feisty Majed said, “I didn’t have a shower for a long time. This felt good.”

On the second day they increased the torture when they hung him upside down, beat him till he was bloody, tore off one of his toenails. When he still refused to name his friends his captors told him the next day they would loose three dogs on him.

That night in the blackness of his cell Majed did the only thing he could– he prayed. He praised God for allowing him to let Him suffer, like Jesus had. Then he begged that God would let him die before the next day.

The next morning, still very much alive, he heard the dogs coming down the hallway, cowered in a corner, covered his face, listened, and waited. The jingling of the dogs’ neck chains and their panting grew ever louder, but then seemed to fade. He waited for their attack but when the silence continued, he looked up to see all three dogs sitting around him. Despite the jailer’s commands that they attack, the dogs just sat there.

“Something is wrong with these dogs,” the jailer said. But when he substituted three others, the same thing happened.

Majed spent a total of seven days in that prison, the last two and a half lashed to a cross. During that time they sliced open his shoulder and poured lemon juice and salt into his wounds. He still has flashbacks and nightmares from this.

That ordeal led to unconsciousness and he awoke in the hospital. He spent some time there and eventually escaped from Egypt to Israel and through Amnesty International and the United Nations, to the U.S.

This almost 29-year-old now lives in Toronto where he has started the human rights ministry One Free World International. It’s designed to defend persecuted Christians worldwide. Besides Toronto, it also has branches inWashington DC and Florida.

Majed challenged us to pray for the persecuted church. “Do you have a coffee or a tea every day?” he asked. “How long does it take you to drink it - five minutes, ten? Every time you get a coffee, let that be a reminder to spend one of those minutes in prayer for the persecuted church.”

Persecuted Christians are dying but they are still smiling. Men can kill the dreamer but no one can kill the dream. – Majed El Shafie

Friday, January 27, 2006

one poem's journey

While checking on the words and writer of the song “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” this morning, my hubby came across this story about Elizabeth C. Clephane, who wrote the words to that song and another which I loved as a kid: “There Were Ninety and Nine.”

(From Moody Church Media - “Stories of Beloved Hymns”)

Elizabeth C. Clephane was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1830. Throughout her brief lifetime, she was plagued with illness and a frail body. Despite her physical afflictions, she was affectionately known to the townspeople as “The Sunbeam.” Elizabeth enjoyed writing poetry and had several of her poems published in a Scottish Presbyterian magazine entitled The Family Treasury. However, the majority of her writings appeared anonymously in this magazine in 1872, three years after her early death in 1869. She is also well known for writing the hymn, “Beneath the Cross of Jesus.”

Miss Clephane wrote the text for “The Ninety and Nine” especially for children a short time before her death. It was published in a magazine called The Children's Hour. Five years later, the American evangelists D. L. Moody and Ira Sankey were in Great Britain for one of their noted revival campaigns.

The story is told of Moody and Sankey riding a train one morning from Glasgow to Edinburgh to conduct a service in the Free Assembly Hall of Edinburgh. Sankey stopped to purchase a newspaper in the train depot, hoping to get news from America. As he idly turned the pages of the paper during the ride, he discovered Elizabeth Clephane's poem. He tried to interest Moody in its contents, but the evangelist was too busy preparing his sermon. Finally, Sankey simply cut out the poem and placed it in his pocket.

At the meeting that afternoon in Edinburgh, the subject of Moody's message was “The Good Shepherd,” based on the passage in Luke I've just read (Luke 15). Finishing his address, Moody turned to Sankey and asked him to sing some fitting solo. Sankey could think of nothing that was appropriate. Then suddenly he recalled the little poem he had put into his vest pocket.

Placing his newspaper clipping on the folding organ before him, and breathing a prayer for divine help, he struck the chord of A flat and began to sing: “There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold, but one was out on the hills alone, far from the gates of gold. Away on the mountains wild and bare, away from the Shepherd's tender care...”

Note by note the tune was given, and that same tune has remained unchanged to this present day. Sankey declared that it was one of the most intense moments of his life. He said that he could sense immediately that the song had reached the hearts of the Scottish audience. Sankey continued to sing:

But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through,
E’re He found His sheep that was lost.

“When I reached the end of the song,” reported Sankey, “Mr. Moody was in tears, and so was I.” When Moody arose to give the invitation for salvation, many “lost sheep” responded to the call of Christ.

So, who knows where the urge to write a poem will lead ...

I blogged here today.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

meme thursday

Google your name with ‘needs’ and post the top 10 results.

I saw this meme on blogs a looong time ago, did it at the time but never posted. So on this day when I’m feeling decidedly idea-deficient, here it is, an even dozen of what google thinks I need. (Hope it’s not too stale - I did keep it in the fridge.)

Violet needs some help

Violet needs water again

Violet needs to make as much money as possible. (Yeah, rub it in - esp. when I'm blogging!)

Violet needs shade or light-speckled sunshine

Violet needs to be transplanted

Violet needs continuous care

Violet needs water again

Violet needs to go to a home that has had Rottweilers previously.

Violet needs someone to help take care of her husband

Violet needs something to change for her

Violet needs more friends.

Violet needs to be a cleaning machine. (Oh, stop reminding me!!)


Want memes for every day of the week and then some? Check this list

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

wanted: a canadian Fox

Kate McMillan (writer of the popular Canadian blog small dead animals) has said a mouthful in this thoughtful morning-after-the-election post, found on the CBC website – of all places.

[...] As a conservative on the libertarian side of the ledger, the degree to which speech in Canada has been corralled and controlled by the courts, ever-invasive government institutions and unaccountable "human rights" tribunals is deeply disturbing. The trend has been reinforced for decades by a Liberal party reward system for pro-Liberal journalism, overtly (through diplomatic postings and Senate seat appointments) and financially. In America, the largest advertiser is Procter & Gamble. In Canada, it is the federal government.

As the most recent example of the pervasive liberal-left world view of the mainstream Canadian media, I need only point to the tenor of the final week of the campaign, in which abortion was raised as an issue by the Martin campaign.

Despite the fact that this most contentious of public policy issues offers legitimate arguments both for and against, with huge advocacy constituencies on both sides - no reporter, no pundit, no network head, thought it appropriate to make Mr. Martin defend the Liberal party position of preserving the status quo. That Canada has no abortion law at all, that for-profit clinics operate in many provinces, the costs to the Canada health system - none of these points were considered worthy of debate. No one asked Paul Martin if he thought there was a legitimate case to be made for a more balanced, centrist public policy on abortion.

Instead, the media took the Liberal position as the desired default, and demanded Harper explain himself...*

[...] So in addition to the list of priorities that Harper will be taking on ... the single most important change he can make to restore balance to Canadian democracy is to begin breaking down the stranglehold of government and the Liberal apparatchik on the communications industry....

Right on, Kate! You’ve been reading my mind.

(For more examples of the Canadian media's left-wing bias, check this out.)

*Indeed, many examples come to mind:

-The frequent Martin sound bites played in the last week of the campaign, calling into question the sincerity of Harper’s assertions that he doesn’t plan to open the abortion debate;

Pictures of Global newsman Kevin Newman’s accosting of Harper in the midst falling flakes somewhere in eastern Canada, demanding to know what his position on abortion is and playing the answer – "I don’t have to tell you because it’s not an issue" – still, as if it’s some kind of vindication of the vaguely veiled ‘Harper is scary’ message that has oozed out of Newman since the campaign began.

- The news ‘story’ on the last weekend of the campaign of another of Global’s paparazzi – Reg Hampton – stalking Conservative candidate Darrel Reid. When Reid didn't respond to Hampton's requests for an interview or show up at his office where Hampton was sitting waiting to pounce, Global then ran a piece on the 6 o’clock news full of the bitterness of a reporter spurned, where Hampton read into Reid' actions the message: "See, because he won’t talk to me he’s scared of me and has something to hide."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

6. do it daily

(#6 of 6 principles from Confessions of an Organized Homemaker to help you organize your work, your home, your family, your life...)

Deniece Schofield:

Once in a home management class I asked each student to write down exactly what she wanted to learn during the course. The results of this survey were very revealing. As it turned out, most of them were there for the same reason: "I want to learn how to get organized so that it will stay that way!" I know of only one place where things magically stay as they are – Never-never Land. Don’t expect magic at home.

And thus the sixth principle: Do it daily.

If everything is returned to its place once a day or several times a week, your house will stay organized. Regular maintenance also solves the problem of "growing work" - those tasks which get bigger and bigger the longer they’re left undone – like dishes or the laundry.

A good motto:

Leave a place better than you found it.

Monday, January 23, 2006

5. use your accrued benefits

(#5 of 6 principles from Confessions of an Organized Homemaker to help you organize your work, your home, your family, your life...)

Accrued: growing or accumulated.

An accrued benefit is an immediate benefit that grows or increases.

To fully understand this principle, it helps to be aware of the three parts of every job:
1. Get ready
2. Do the job
3. Clean up

I. An accrued benefit happens when one get-ready and one cleanup are used to accomplish as much as possible.

Take ironing for example. If you have to go to all the trouble of pulling out the ironing board and the iron, filling the latter with water and checking the TV schedule for something to watch, you might as well do the whole basket of ironing instead of just the shirt you need for tonight, thus avoiding multiple get ready’s and cleanups.

II. Another way to accrue benefits is to combine the cleanup of one job with the get-ready of another.

Some examples:

- Set the table for breakfast while putting away the supper dishes.

- Make replenishing the bathroom supplies (liquid or bar soap, toothpaste, t-paper etc.) part of your housecleaning routine.

An aspect of this is to completely finish what you start. When vacuuming, for example, put the vacuum cleaner away when you’re done, or next time you’ll not only have to lug it to the pile of spilled Corn Flakes, but find it first!

And hey, here’s an accrued benefit suggestion for all Canadians today. Take a walk – to your local polling station and cast your vote. Not only will you get your exercise but you could be helping to change the direction of Canada!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

I blogged here today.

Friday, January 20, 2006

who's pulling paul martin's strings?

From an April 23, 2005 Toronto Sun article, “Microscoping Maurice, ” profiling Maurice Strong, Prime Minister Paul Martin’s senior advisor.

Canadian businessman and UN envoy Maurice Strong is one weird dude.

Weird in his sidekicks. Mikhail Gorbachev, for one. The former Soviet leader and the Canuck really believe they can replace the Ten Commandments with their overstated Earth Charter,

Weird in his handpicked protégés. Try Canada’s Prime Minister Paul Martin, the career politician whose one and only trip to the election polls as Canadian PM reduced the powerful Liberal Party to minority status. This, after assuming the mantle left by the departure of Jean Chrétien in pomp and splendour Indian smudging ceremonies, addressed by Irish rock star, Bono. Martin’s surrealistic ascension to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had such an emotional impact on Strong that he wept.

[...] Martin, who was hired by Strong, got his start in business from the same source (i.e. Montreal Power Corp.), and because of it ended up as the owner of Canada Steamship Lines. While Strong, now Martin’s senior advisor in the House of Commons is Martin’s long time mentor, the duo is so close that the men are, in some speculative quarters, alleged but unproven half brothers.

[...]It is weird that Strong advocates for world depopulation schemes; tells the unwashed masses that both refrigeration and air conditioning are going to wipe out Mother Earth. It’s weird that as a practicing New Ager, Strong dabbles in the occult. Weird is that he didn’t know one of the largest American aquifers was sitting right under the 100,000-acre Baca Ranch in Colorado, he ran as a New Age Mecca with his wife Hanne, and that he came to acquire the property through Saudi arms dealer Adnan Koshoggi.

Even in Canada where he’s senior advisor to the prime minister, average Canadians know little about Strong, who is remembered most for trying to use their tax dollars to purchase a Costa Rican rain forest when he was running Ontario Hydro.

Related articles:

"New World Ten Commandments Venerated in ‘Ark of Hope’"

"Kyoto Connection to Earth Worship"

Maurice Strong Dossier

"Canada’s Commitment to Earth Worship at the Root of Rapid Change to Canadian Law"

Who's sounding scary now?

4. be motion minded

(#4 of 6 principles from Confessions of an Organized Homemaker to help you organize your work, your home, your family, your life...)

Well, enough playing. It’s time to get back to the serious stuff of January – organizing!

Deniece Schofield’s fourth principle of organization is to be motion minded which, said another way, is to try to handle things only once.

To help with this she makes the following suggestions:

1. Store things at or near their point of first use.

Some examples:

- having a trash can in each room of the house where trash is generated rather than only one that’s centrally located.

- storing cords that go with specific appliances with those appliances, rather than at a central ‘cord depot.’

- years ago, after first reading this, I decided to eliminate trips up the stairs by putting together two collections of cleaning supplies - one for upstairs, one for down.

2. Store equipment and supplies in a way that will allow you to work without having to take a lot of steps (ha! – the size of my kitchen pretty much determines this anyway).

3. Strive for one-motion storage.

- Store frequently used things in such a way they are easy to see, easy to reach and easy to grasp.

- Avoid stacking things over two layers high; three is maximum.

- One-motion storage is most important for things used often (which explains the piles of books, right beside my bed – do I get it or what?!)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

i'm stoked

because Dan, from Bethany House, is going to send me more books to review!

It all started in mid-December when I got an email from Dan, of Bethany House’s Internet Marketing Department. He said he’d seen some of my reviews of Bethany House-published books online (at my blog and blogcritics.org) and would I consider doing a review of Athol Dickson’s River Rising for him. Of course I accepted, in due time the book arrived and yesterday I put up the review, both here and at blogcritics.

Today he emailed:

Thanks so much for your thoughtful and critical examination of this novel. You do such a nice job of presenting strengths and weaknesses with both clarity and charity.
(Well, Dan, thank-YOU!)

And he has asked, would I be willing to review some of their more unique and literary fiction on an ongoing basis, 4-8 per year.

Would I?! Do babies cry? Next to (dreaming of) writing one of these myself someday, there are few things I like to do more than read and analyze good fiction. (Plus, this means more free books. Woohoo!! Ernie, price the shelving.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

book review: River Rising

Title: River Rising
Author: Athol Dickson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bethany House, 2005
ISBN: 0-7642-0162-X

Athol Dickson’s River Rising opens with Hale Poser, former reverend with a bad hip, poling his pirogue through the fog and up to the dock of the stilt town near the mouth of the Missisippi. He comes at the beckon of a deep desire to find his roots with his only map the word ‘Pilotville’ scribbled on a yellowed piece of paper.

From the beginning his presence stirs up the town. Where did he find those persimmons, wonders Jean, who has no choice but to allow him to tie up the pirogue at his dock in exchange for the offering. Why, when he stands with his arms outstretched in seeming supplication, do the white and black congregations worship in unison? And does he have some kind of supernatural power, to turn Rosa Lamont’s breech baby so that just hours later beautiful Hannah is born naturally?

When Baby Hannah goes missing the next morning, Hale joins the searchers. Unlike the rest of them, he sticks with Hannah’s grief-stricken father long after the time when the police have given up, and despite many not-so-subtle hints that his suggestions of where to look are unwelcome. Finally, becoming a suspect in her disappearance himself and deserted by all who promised to help, he heads into the sinister swamp to continue searching on his own.

One of the strengths of the book is its atmosphere An admitted lover of boats, the river and the Louisiana swamplands, Athol Dickson has created, in the stilt town of Pilotville and the murky surrounding swamps – with their stands of tupelo and cypress, their curtains of willow and Spanish moss, their spooky animal sounds against the irritating hum of mosquitoes – a setting that is completely believable. This setting, in turn, is a perfect backdrop to the evil that lurks under Pilotville’s idyllic surface.

His characters are also intriguing and colorful. Besides the book’s main man Hale Poser, whose childlike faith morphs into fantasies of violence under the pressure of events, there are plenty of others.

Some we love:

It was the old woman again with the same voice...He felt the blessed coolness of the moist rag upon his lips... “Shh. Shh,” she whispered. “Lie still and it’ll come...” - p.116.

Others we hate

Qana leapt forward and seized it...knowing he would kick her out of the way as if she were a dog, Marah scrambled back. The big man ignored her and squatted beside the coals to eat, shoulders hunched and eyes scanning those nearby with naked animosity. - p. 140.

And still others we wonder about:

“A minister turned janitor...” Papa shook his head and Dorothy watched the old man’s triple chins shake like jelly. “Nurse Truett tells me you saved Rosa Lamont’s life.”

“And her baby,” said Dorothy.

For some reason her words seemed to annoy Papa. He frowned and in spite of living on an island of equality, she felt a little anxious. - p. 38.

Dickson does not hesitate to sink his teeth into some pretty grand themes. Relations between Negroes and whites is one. He especially explores the way the Christian characters have managed to erect walls to separate blacks and whites. Redemption and the miraculous are other themes he tackles often and by several means. One is to introduce, early in the story and sustain throughout, a not-so-subtle allusion to the biblical story of Moses.

If the book has flaws it would be in the area of plotting where once or twice the story felt contrived to me. The odd time the characters’ actions also seemed contradictory and as if manipulated to better fit with the symbolic icon they'd been linked to, rather than allowed to be true to themselves.

The book is set during the Mississippi flood of 1927. When asked, after Hurricane Katrina, if he wrote the book because of that, Dickson replied: “No, I finished River Rising about a year before Hurricane Katrina hit, so that’s just a coincidence.” In fact, the possibility that people would think he had written the book to take advantage of the tragedy didn’t even occur to him until his publisher brought it up some weeks after the storm. His response when asked about it: “I hope people aren’t that cynical. We’ll see, I guess.”

All in all, I'd recommend the book as a gripping read delivering--despite its dark, rain-soaked sections--a message of hope in the voice of a skilled storyteller.

Filed in: Book Reviews

Monday, January 16, 2006

3. group

(#3 of 6 principles from Confessions of an Organized Homemaker to help you organize your work, your home, your family, your life...)

Whenever practical, group and store like items together.... Everything in your house should have such a well-defined place that you could find it in the dark.

The main purpose of grouping is to give everything in your home a well-defined place.

Group things together that are used together. To help with grouping use drawer dividers, not only in the kitchen but in drawers throughout the house, under sinks and on shelves as slide-out trays.

The goal: Well defined; well confined.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

so, what's my raison d'etre?

You scored as Philosophy. You should be a Philosophy major! Like the Philosopher, you are contemplative and you enjoy thinking about the purpose for humanity's existence.





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with QuizFarm.com

Oh my goodness -- who knew!?

Hat tip: A Sort of Notebook

(Another question - why does this meme make my sidebar sink to the bottom of the lake?) It's fixed, thanks to the lovely and resourceful Waterfall. Thank you!

Friday, January 13, 2006

2. discard and sort

(#2 of 6 principles to help you organize your work, your home, your family, your life...)

“Of all the work simplification techniques, discard and sort is by far the most important and usually the most difficult!”

(sigh...I thought so)

Here is the bare bones of discarding and sorting:

1. Determine the function of the room or area in which you are working (e.g. you probably won’t store dress shoes, old picture frames and gardening tools in the kitchen where you prepare and eat meals, and store food, dishes and utensils).

2. Work in one area at a time. Keep three boxes and a trash can with you.
Box 1 - holds anything that belongs in another room.
Box 2 - holds things to give away or sell.
Box 3 - holds things you’re not sure about.

3. Things to ask yourself as you consider what to do with the various items:
i] Do I really need this?
ii] What is the worst thing that would happen if I got rid of it?
iii] How long has it been since I used it?
iv] Do I need so many?

4. After sorting:
i] Put the objects in Box 1 where they below.
ii] Immediately donate or sell contents of Box 2
iii] Store Box 3 in an inconvenient, out-of-the-way place. If the items in the box are not missed and remain unneeded for several months, you can probably do without them.

5. Preventative maintenance:
i.] When tempted to buy something new ask: Where am I going to put this?
ii] and: Will this be time-consuming to maintain?
ii] and: Will I really use this?
iii] and (my addition to the Confessions of an Organized Homemaker’s list): Are the disposables* needed for this item readily available and reasonably priced?
iv] Keep a list of things you’d like to buy someday. If an item stays on your list for a long time without you buying it, you know you can probably do without it.
v] Learn to say “no thanks” to castoffs (hear, hear Violet).
vi] Always keep a recycle box handy.

Now, wasn’t that heartbreaking fun?

*Disposables are things like:
- vacuum cleaner - the bags.
- whipped cream gun - the little gas canisters.
- plastic bag sealer thingy - the specific plastic roll needed for it to work properly.
- odd-shaped binders and diaries - the right-sized paper with holes punched in the right places.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

a canuck blog experience

Thank you Rebecca, at Rebecca Writes for putting together the Out of Canada Christian Blog Showcase. Looks like much good reading from across Canada here.

(There was a prize draw. I won! -- Woohoo!!)

1. think before you act

(# 1 of 6 principles to help you organize -- your work, your home, your family, your life...)

“This is what being organized is all about: thinking things through logically before you act.” - Deniese Schofield - The Confessions of an Organized Homemaker

Remember the old story of the woman who always cut the end off her roast or ham. When her husband asked her why, she replied because that’s what her mother did. So they asked her mother the reason for this, and she replied because that’s what she’d seen her mother do. When they asked her grandmother about it, she replied, she always had to cut ends off because her roasting pan was too small.

Thus Ms. Schofield says “Think before you act – even before doing routine jobs. The way you perform simple, basic tasks is usually the result of habit, not logical thought.”

Some Examples:

Hers: During baking or meal preparation, instead of just letting the dirty dishes pile up on the cupboard, take the time to fill the sink with hot soapy water. As you finish with each dish or utensil, put it in the water to soak. By the time you’re finished the job, the dishes will have practically washed themselves.

Mine: When setting and clearing the table, use a tray to transport dishes, condiments, and food. It will save you many steps from the kitchen to the table.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

organizational ducks - all in a row

I have always loved January for the feeling of new beginnings that I get from it. And there is no new beginning better than organizing the place one lives and works. After wading through the detritus of two households in the last few months, I’ve seen more than ever that my home needs this new beginning as much as any.

Along with the fevered thoughts of wrestling my possessions into submission has come the urge to dust off my housekeeping bible. It’s a book called Confessions of an Organized Housewife by Deniece Schofield (title wording since changed from "Housewife" to "Homemaker" I see) which has probably influenced my way of organizing and working in my home as much as, maybe more than, my mom.

And so was born a few days ago, the idea to do a January series based on Deniece’s book. After all, there’s just too much good stuff in here to keep to myself. Thus in the next few days, I’ll be posting on various angles and aspects of organizing.

I’ll begin with a series of posts on the six basic organizing principles Ms. Schofield lists early in her book. That chapter begins:

The ultimate purpose of organizing your home and your life is to give you time for more important things. Whether you want to be climbing mountains in Nepal or crocheting afghans, work simplification techniques will give you a clearer path to pursuing your dreams.

Now isn’t that what we all want! So stay tuned for the first basic organizing/work simplification principle ("Think before you act") coming very soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

debate report card

After spending two hours last night listening to the second leaders’ English debate, I figure the least I can do is get a blog post out of it. So, hear goes – one very grassroots opinion on how these guys did in the debate:

Paul Martin: C
He looked like he was fighting for his life. Did a lot of treading water in a thrashing about kind of way. Played the "I love Canada more than you do," card a whole bunch of times. And the rabbit he pulled out of his hat yesterday was scary: that he will make it impossible to use the Notwithstanding Clause in some cases. It’s a poorly thought through idea and would put Canada even more tightly in the straightjacket of the human rights crowd. (We’re talking giving the final say on social policy [called ‘human rights’ – like gay marriage] to unelected – appointed by the ruling party, in fact – judges here, with no recourse for elected politicians to change their edicts. This is a bad idea.)

Jack Layton: B+
Perky, smooth – a bit robot-like at times – and sanctimonious ("Oh, that makes me so sad..."). Sings one tune: "Social Programs" in every imaginable key.

Gilles Duceppe: A
Intelligent, often funny. Enjoy his sarcasm. He lends a refreshing angle in that he has little to gain or lose by being there and can afford to be honest. One thing he pointed out is the fact that the two darling issues of the election (at least the ones the media tells us are the real focus) – health care and education – aren’t under the control of the federal government at all but are under provincial jurisdiction. I gave him big points when he hammered home the fact that it was under Paul Martin (he was finance minister a bunch of years) that the transfer payments for healthcare were slashed in the first place. (So what’s with the crocodile tears and wrapping yourself in the flag over healthcare now, big boy?)

Stephen Harper: A-
Measured. Focused. A little bit fake sometimes (I can just hear him, recalling his debate coach’s advice ‘ Stephen, remember to smile into the camera’). He did succeed, I think in sticking to the plan (at least the pundits claim it was a plan) to get across substance and not sink to personal attack. There were a couple of times I wish he’d defended himself more. By not defending himself he does one of two things: either show himself above such behavior or cast doubt in the watcher as to whether he can defend himself or if his position is defensible.

It’s pretty obvious on whose side I am. I guess if there was one thing I wish Stephen Harper had spelled out more clearly it would be a vision of a free enterprise Canada where Canadians are and can be more self-sufficient. It seems he has also bought into the myth that what we all really want is a nanny state – that it’s in our genes to need to be taken care of by government.

We need someone to help him articulate what it would look like for Canadians to be weaned from government dependency. There’s a certain fatalism here, a give-up attitude vs. that rising-up attitude that says ‘I can do it.’ The pioneer spirit that built this country seems to have evaporated.

It seems we’ve been told that this is the way Canadians are to the extent that we all believe it. Even free enterprisers and individualists are pressed into the socialist mold, or risk of being called bad Canadians. Paul Martin tries to paint it in glowing terms: "We look out for each other, we lend each other a hand ...blah, blah, blah." And we drink it in, not realizing that on the flip side of this is an addiction which kills incentive and attempts to bring us all down to the lowest common denominator.

The danger of this addiction is the mindset it breeds of going to whatever lengths it takes to get our share. This inevitably leads to the need to compromise beliefs and values. (The Liberal’s proposed National Daycare Program will be another example. In order to get that daycare money, mothers will be forced to put their children [as young as months old] into government-funded programs and into the hands of women whose values they have no way of knowing.)

Monday, January 09, 2006

allan gregg said that?

[...] Clearly the exhortations of the religious are falling on receptive ears on both sides of the (Canadian and American) border. Yet many secular-minded Canadians continue to write off the trend (“...the forces of Christianity...throwing their weight around in the political arena”) as an aberration, the utterances of fringe fanatics with sinister motivations...

They couldn’t be more wrong.

What!? When as eminent a Canadian pollster as Allan Gregg (with the prognostication clout in our society of the augur and soothsayer of Rome) sees and reports a pro-Christian trend in some of the data, it certainly is reason for shock and incredulity, though it’s probably too early for celebration.

Read Allan Gregg’s entire article: Comment: Secular fundamentalists need to dust off their Bibles.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

"the psalms

are like icons on a computer desktop: you click on them and get moved into a whole new space."

- Steve Bell* (heard at a concert in 2001)

(*Catch Steve Bell on "Tapestry" - CBC Radio One, this afternoon!)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

2006 - the year of ask, seek and knock

The blog world is popping with peoples’ New Year’s resolves. I too have my list of resolutions which, lucky for you, I’m choosing to keep to myself (and it’s safer for me that way as I won’t be called to account by some errant reader in a far off time like May or July and asked how I’m doing!) But one thing I do each new year in addition to making resolutions, is to choose a life Bible verse or passage for the year.

I don’t know where I got this idea (and I’m sure I didn’t think it up by myself), but for quite a few years now, one of the things I do at the beginning of each year is to pick some Bible verses which will set the tone of the year for me, and become a combination meditation / study focus, memorization project as well as a prayer.

Choosing that passage is a different process each year. As I’m usually on the lookout for it towards the end of the old year, sometimes I have it all chosen and ready before the calendar changes. At other times, I’m well into the new year before I have it picked out. And although the passage’s subject matter differs widely from year to year, when I find it, it jumps out at me and settles into my spirit with the rightness of benediction.

Here are some verses I have picked (or picked me) in the past:
2003: Matthew 6:33,34
2004: John 10:1-10
2005: Ephesians 2:10 (Amplified version)

This year I was planning to mull over my decision during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Then we got called out of town and I thought – when will I do this?!

I needn’t have worried. Because during my quiet time one day last week in Kelowna –January 2nd to be exact– reading through the Sermon on the Mount, I re-met these words of Jesus from Matthew 7: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (vs. 7,8) and I knew - this is it!

Already I’ve been enriched by digging around in these concepts. It’s going to be an exciting year!

Friday, January 06, 2006

of nero, joliet and all the fragments

It seems I’ve been bitten by the annual January bug to organize, as evidenced by the serious ‘chills’ of yesterday when the thought hit me to burn a CD with a backup copy of "My Documents" and then delete the folders and files I never look at any more.

Now I’ve attempted to do this before and met with serious objections from my Nero Express. It seems this CD burning program has a strange obsession with Joliet names - checking them for accuracy, comparing them with each other and using any and all variations from its norm as an excuse to sit down on the job.

Knowing I’d had this problem in the past, yesterday I first modified my Nero Express "Preferences" regarding Joliet and thought I had outsmarted the thing at last. But when I asked it to burn "My Documents" in its entirety, the same thing happened as always (it popped some Joliet problem on my screen and aborted the burn). Try as I would, no matter how many of those pesky files I thought I found and deleted, Nero always found more!

I finally did outsmart the old boy by burning the project piecemeal, though I was forced to leave out one folder that he said had Joliet file name problems I just couldn’t find. I left the computer after several hours of this with a sore bum but a feeling of elation.

Later in the evening, I gave in to the sinister organizational urge again by doing the abovementioned deletions. Then, to tidy things up finally and completely, I decided to do a disk defrag.

In the past this has worked well. Yesterday, though, the poor machine chewed and chewed but it never got past 4% completed. It would start at 0%, would grind away to 1%, 2%, 3% and very occasionally get up to 4%, after which it would go back to 0% again. (What a perfect image of ‘worry’ - going over the same ground again and again, and again but never making any real progress.) Occasionally I clicked on ‘See Details’ always to find it was still in the checking for errors mode. When I woke at 1:00 a.m. and went to check, the defrag was back at 2% -- this after six hours. Needless to say, I then put it to bed despite Window's objections that it wasn't done.

But what’s with that!? The whole defrag used to take no more than two hours. Hubby thinks it has to do with the new Symantec. He’s had the same problem with his computer and finally had success doing a defrag in ‘Safe Mode’ - though I’m wondering, is there ever such a thing with a computer.

Anyway, my digital attic now has tons of room and my computer is still working despite fragments scattered all over the place. I wonder what organizational damage I can find to do today!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

home again

We are back from a week’s sojourn in Kelowna. How great it is to be home again, even though the Christmas lights look a little tarnished this late in the season, and there are mountains of various things to deal with.

We got the phone call about E’s dad in the middle of the night. He’d had a fall Christmas day and when, after the meal and festivities, he was feeling very unwell, he was taken to the ER. Several hours later he was admitted to hospital with the diagnosis of an abdominal aneurysm.

Not surprisingly, the family has been on a bit of a roller coaster in the last few days. At first the doctors’ prognosis was grim. Then after Dad seemed to stabilize, his family doctor called him his miracle case and said that once he got stronger, he’d be able to go home to mom and the assisted living place we moved them to less than a month ago. In the last few days, though, he seems to be getting weaker, both physically and mentally. He is so trembly, it takes him an hour to eat by himself, he can’t walk at all and today he was sure the table beside the bed held lesson plans.

Poor Mom is lost and lonely. She herself is struggling with major memory loss – can’t find her way to her suite by herself and has been leaning increasingly on Dad to keep her on track with what to do next and what’s on the schedule for the day. Now her main focus each day is her visit with Dad. And they are so very sweet together even though their visits are less than satisfactory – what with Dad being dozy himself much of the time (probably medication) and disoriented.

We took turns spending time at the hospital – visiting (or trying to), singing and, for me, knitting. When I was packing to go a week ago, a little voice whispered, Take knitting. Am I ever glad I did! As a result, I have two new cotton dishcloths to add to my stash and a wooly scarf ready for the gift box

The last week hasn’t been all sad, though. We spent unexpected time with Ernie’s family from out of town and feasted on D’s delicious Christmas treats – way better than mine! New Year’s Eve was a groaning table of appetizers, with games later and putting a puzzle together.

Another time-filler was going through Mom and Dad’s townhouse, sorting, sorting, sorting. Dad, being a former teacher, loved books and was a dyed in the wool do-it-yourselfer when it came to handyman stuff. The result was a study and a workshop (the garage) filled to the rafters with the tools of his trade – books, pens, paper and office supplies, tape (of every description: book-binding, medical, cello, double-sided, packing, duct, electrical – you name it, he had a stash of it), and hand and power tools of every vintage. Not surprisingly, I came home with more books from his well-stocked study, and lots of office stuff.

Now the wait continues especially for Dad and Mom. We’re expecting Dad to be transferred to extended care (whatever is available in the Okanagan region – could even be out of town; we hope not!). And Mom...?

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