Tuesday, October 31, 2006

gossip benches

Gossip benches on the Serpentine.

Monday, October 30, 2006

monday mural - Agassiz, BC

Much of northwestern B.C. is shoveling out from under a dump of snow this weekend – a reminder that winter is already here, even if not officially by the calendar.

The weather reminded me of this mural from the town of Agassiz B.C. It’s enough to make one shiver without any snow in sight! The mural is signed “Skoda Razmpoosh ‘97"

More Agassiz murals here

Saturday, October 28, 2006

words that live

The Word of God is quick and powerful. In the beginning He spoke to nothing, and it become something. Chaos heard it and became order, darkness heard it and became light. “And God said – and it was so.” These twin phrases, as cause and effect, occur throughout the Genesis story of the creation. The said accounts for the so. The so is the said put into the continuous present.

That God is here and that He is speaking – these truths are back of all other Bible truths; without them there could be no revelation at all. God did not write a book and send it by messenger to be read at a distance by unaided minds. He spoke a Book and lives in His spoken words, constantly speaking His words and causing the power of them to persist across the years. God breathed on clay and it became a man; He breathes on men and they become clay. “Return ye children of men,” was the word spoken at the Fall by which God decreed the death of every man, and no added word has He needed to speak. The sad procession of mankind across the face of the earth from birth to the grave is proof that His original Word was enough.

[...] It is important that we get still to wait on God. And it is best that we get alone, preferably with our Bible outspread before us. Then if we will we may draw near to God and begin to hear Him speak to us in our hearts. I think for the average person the progression will be something like this: First a sound as of a Presence walking in the garden. Then a voice, more intelligible, but still far from clear. Then the happy moment when the Spirit begins to illuminate the Scriptures, and that which had been only a sound or at best a voice, now becomes an intelligible word, warm and intimate and clear as the word of a dear friend. Then will come life and light, and best of all, ability to see and rest in and embrace Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of all.

[...] If you would follow on to know the Lord, come at once to the open Bible expecting it to speak to you. Do not come with the notion that it is a thing which you may push around at your convenience. It is more than a thing, it is a voice, a word, the very Word of the living God.

quoted from The Pursuit of God - “The Speaking Voice” by A. W. Tozer

Here is a modern-day true story about this alive Word.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

can I keep it -- please?

It’s still the insect time of year here.

If one were a collector (as we used to be, scooping creepy-crawlies into plastic tubs filled with leaves, held captive by lids that we’d punched full of holes) wouldn’t these caterpillars in their fashionable faux fur be a trophy?

I’m actually partial to slugs myself – the banana ones that match my earmuffs.

Today, though, a little creature invited itself right into our house. E. was taking apart the lettuce to wash it when he found this healthy specimen. “Can I keep it please?” he asked, carrying it into my workroom on a towel.

Sure little boy.

I guess if there’s one thing that worm proves, it’s that the claims of organic lettuce at our veggie store aren’t empty!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

heron patrol

Our walk around the golf course the other day was like a heron patrol. Great blue herons were everywhere

in the water

and on the path.

In fact as we got closer to this one, I kept snapping pictures, thinking each would be the closest I could get.

Finally he was right in front of me.

and then beside me.

Getting this close to a heron is unusual. Normally, even stopping to watch one of these solitary fisher-birds causes them to up and flap away, all the while kwarking at being disturbed.

So long - you big beautiful unsociable discriminating birds.

Monday, October 23, 2006

book review - Redeemed

Title: Redeemed
Author: Donna Dawson
Publisher: Word Alive Press, 2006
ISBN: 189492875X
Genre: Christian fiction (Contemporary)

Heather MacDonald suffers from mysterious and uncontrolled fits of rage. When, at fourteen, she realizes she is a threat to harm her family, she decides to run away from home. On the streets of Toronto, Heather finds a new family amongst the street people. She also comes face to face with grave danger and an evil that joins the blackness within her in trying to destroy her completely. But in Redeemed, Donna Dawson’s first novel, evil loses as the darkness is overcome and throwaway lives are put back together again by the power and grace of God.

Dawson’s characters are interesting. Main character Jekyl-and-Hyde Heather is joined by Hildy, Jimmy, Cyrus, Shorty and later the sinister Andy to make up a motley and colorful cast of losers. They are sympathetically though realistically drawn by Dawson, who goes beneath their rough exteriors to uncover the human side of these societal rejects.

Apart from short sections based in the present which precede each chapter, the events of the story are told in order and the plot moves along pretty smoothly (despite a slow start where Dawson tells the story of Heather’s parents). Those pre-chapter bits seemed designed to stitch the story together. However I found some of them forced and awkward in the way they led Heather to review past years in orderly flashbacks written partly in past perfect tense which distanced me from the action. As a whole though, the story was nicely paced and easy to follow, with plot twists that kept my interest till the end.

Dawson’s writing style is lively with only the occasional overwritten passage that could have benefitted from an editor’s simplifying. Another stylistic element was the use of multiple points of view (on one page I found myself in the head of a different character in each of four paragraphs). However, this happened throughout and though it gave me some mental whiplash at first, I felt Dawson carried off this tricky technique effectively. It certainly gave me, in several key scenes, a sense of immediacy and being in the know.

A strength of the story is in its themes and symbols. This is a tale of light versus darkness, good versus evil and, as the title suggests, redemption. Coming through also is compassion for the poor and homeless, and love and respect for all people no matter what their exterior. Near the end there is even a scene symbolic of Christ’s sacrificial death. The Christian message of God’s power to triumph over evil and change lives is delivered clearly and without apology.

Redeemed is a lively read that will have you walking some miles in the shoes of the destitute. But that road leads, finally, to a hopeful place.

monday mural - lakehead university catacombs

The tunnels connecting various buildings of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario were covered with murals. This is a detail from one wall which was a montage of subjects and styles. More on view here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

getting ready to move

The owner of the tenement which I have occupied for many years has given notice that he will furnish but little or nothing for more repairs. I am advised to be ready to move.

At first this was not a very welcome notice. The surroundings here are in many respects very pleasant, and were it not for the evidence of decay, I should consider the house good enough. But even a light wind causes it to tremble and totter, and all the braces are not sufficient to make it secure. So I am getting ready to move.

It is strange how quickly one’s interest is transferred to the prospective home. I have been consulting maps of the new country and reading descriptions of its inhabitants. One who visited it has returned, and from him I learn that it is beautiful beyond description; language breaks down in attempting to tell of what he heard while there. He says that in order to make an investment there, he has suffered the loss of all things that he owned here, and even rejoices in what others would call making a sacrifice. Another, whose love to me has been proven by the greatest possible test, is now there. He has sent me several clusters of the most delicious fruits. After tasting them, all food here seems insipid.

Two or three times I have been down by the border of the river that forms the boundary, and have wished myself among the company of those who were singing praises to the King on the other side. Many of my friends have moved there. Before leaving they spoke of my coming later. I have seen the smile upon their faces as they passed out of sight. Often I am asked to make some new investments here, but my answer in every case is, “I am getting ready to move.”
– Selected, from Streams in the Desert.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

high praise -- and battle

This year more than ever I’m loving being in our church choir. It’s a choir that is mostly there to enhance and encourage corporate worship (rather than do special music in performance mode).

Last week we went on a short retreat. Dean, one of our leaders, gave a talk that especially resonated with me, about the life of someone who leads in worship in a public way. He broke that life down into three components:
- the daily and secret life of one’s personal relationship with God, and worship there.
- a lifestyle of worship (which, put simply, is OBEDIENCE).
- the Sunday morning time of worship, singing in the choir or worship team (or playing an instrument).

Along with our group sessions, we had time to get away by ourselves and alone with God. I was grabbed by wonderful Psalm 149, especially verse 6:

"Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand. . ."

To us moderns this may seem like an odd combination: praise and battle. But in the Old Testament, success in battle was all bound up with worship and praise and God being exalted.

Anyway, while meditating on this verse, specifically the phrase "the high praises of God," I determined to compile such a prayer for myself from scripture. I’ve been working on it for the past couple of mornings (and of course getting blessed beyond measure!). If you’d like to see what I’ve come up with so far, it’s long – and here. If you have suggestions of high praise passages I’ve left out, I’d love to hear them.

Friday, October 20, 2006

what's in a name?

This little news item from Voice of the Martyrs newsletter caught my eye:

Three-month-old Ilya Eyvazov has no official name. Local authorities in the town of Aliabad (Azerbaijan) at first refused to issue a birth certificate when they saw the baby's name was the Russian form of Elijah. After a month, Novruz Eyvazov, the baby's father, succeeded only in securing a birth certificate that left his son's name blank. Considered part of a "foreign" religious sect, the three Baptist congregations in Aliabad face ongoing harassment from the local government, which has refused them official church registration for the past 13 years.

I wouldn’t normally associate refusal to register a child’s name as persecution. However in this Maine-sized country of almost 8 million people, where 93% are Muslim and only 1.8% follow the religion “other” (that ‘other’ excluding Russian and Armenian Orthodox), choosing to call your child Elijah is obviously a big enough deal to withhold the very basic right of having his name / personhood acknowledged.

It would seem the Azeri officials are aware of the weight the name Elijah brings with it – both in story and meaning. The prophet Elijah in the Old Testament was the man through whom God did all kinds of signs and wonders in Israel and who shamed King Ahab, Queen Jezebel and the prophets of Baal. Plus Elijah means “Yah is God.” That would certainly rankle! I love it that these people are taking a stand with something as taken-for granted as a name.

Join with me in praying for little Ilya and his family – that his name will be allowed to be registered on that certificate, and that he will have an Elijah destiny on his life.

Subscribe to Voice of the Martyrs weekly newsletter from this page.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

today we are two!

Yep, it's the second blogaversary here at promptings

Here's a bit of trivia about the last two years.

- My first post, October 19, 2004, was about a book.

- My first earned link was to the article “Gay nuptials - what would Jesus do?”

- Some popular searches that have brought people here are raspberry squares, Sunday Adelaja, communion thoughts, and veggie cars.

- Blogging became even more fun when I got my digital camera.

- This is my 724th post (which averages out to 1.008 posts per day) on a hash of subjects from spiritual reflections, to memes, to book reviews, to photos, to lists, to recipes, to family happenings to – you name it...

- And I’ll probably continue posting the same variety in the future – because that’s what keeps blogging fun for me.

- So a BIG THANKS! to everyone who has come by to read in the last 730 days!

- Shoot, I forgot to make a cake. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to celebrate with a potato bun!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

saucy potato buns

Rebecca’s Potatofest 2006 immediately brought to mind potato buns. This is something I’ve never eaten (till today) but my mother-in-law used to make them for her family (apparently they originally come from Auntie Pauline’s family - and are of good Ukrainian origin) and hubby has been raving about them ever since I’ve known him. So I determined that in honor of Potatofest and E., I would attempt potato buns. Here is the result.

Potato Buns

- 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
- Unbaked bread or bun dough, enough for 12 or 13 rolls.

(I make dough in the bread machine and today used the following bun dough recipe:

1 1/4 cups warm water
1 egg
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup margarine
½ cup sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. yeast (Quick-rise instant)

Set bread machine to dough cycle.)

- Divide dough into 12 portions
- Roll each dough piece into a rectangle/oval shape
- Spread potatoes in the center
- Enclose potatoes by folding over ends and pinching sides together in a seam.
- Place rolls, seam side down, onto greased 9 x 13 baking pan.
- Let rise 40 minutes

Bake at 350 F. oven for 30 minutes or until brown.


2 medium-sized onions, chopped
fresh dill - as much as you like
1 cup coffee cream (10%)
1 cup sour cream
salt & pepper to taste

Chop and saute onions in a bit of butter or margarine
Add chopped dill and heat through
Add creams and heat slowly, just till boiling (but don’t boil to avoid curdling)
Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, slather hot potato buns with sauce. Or E. said his Mom used to soak the buns briefly right in the pan of sauce before serving.

We’ve never tried this but are thinking that mixing the potatoes with a bit of cooked and seasoned ground beef would make this a bread, meat, potatoes, vegetable and gravy meal all in one.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Rebecca is having a potatofest. After seeing many and varied mushrooms on our walk today, I think I need to have a fungifest. I think I also need to get a fungus field guide. (Don’t worry, we just looked, we didn’t eat.)

Monday, October 16, 2006

monday mural - Zajac Ranch, Mission BC

This mural showing travel by stagecoach is painted on one of the out-buildings (the machine shed?) of Zajac Ranch in Mission, B.C. It's where our church choir had a retreat Friday night through Saturday. (Artist: Dean Lauze)

This beautiful spot at the end of a long gravel road that seems to lead nowhere is quite the place. Situated on the shore of Stave Lake, it’s mostly used for children with disabilities and life-threatening illnesses. This weekend an oncology camp – kids in various stages of cancer, along with their families – shared the camp with us.

Our modern residence building had pods of rooms with each pod containing its own bathroom – flush toilet and shower – and a big common room with couches and a fireplace. In summer, camp activities include water stuff like swimming and canoeing, horseback riding, playing (playground, gym and climbing wall) and I’ve heard they’re building a pool and a hot tub.

Firesides and programs can happen at the amphitheatre, a concreted hill with rings of slat seats and a fire pit (where we big kids roasted marshmallows Friday night).

At mealtimes, true to camp form, tables had to compete for who got to go next by doing stuff like singing songs about the counselor, looking the most royal, dancing, and putting on a cowboy act – just like old, old times! Needless to say, that rowdy group of kids – where only a few extra-pale faces and bandana’d heads gave away their condition – beat our staid bunch every time!
(More Zajac Ranch murals here.)

Friday, October 13, 2006

confessions at PT

Pictured: Sheree Plett, Jonathan Anderson, Lance Odegard with Ron Reed in the background.
Photo credit: me

Last night we went to another one of those story and song things at Pacific Theatre, this time called “Confessions.” These non-glitzy evenings are made up of readings (poems, stories, monologues, read mostly by Ron Reed, although yesterday Rebecca deBoer also read) interspersed with music. That is acoustic and various including folk, jazz, blues, country. Last night we heard from Sheree Plett, Nelson Boschman, Jonathan Anderson (also playing guitar, banjo and other instruments) and Alberta-based Lance Odegard, with backup of Nelson Boschman and Brett Ziegler- keyboards, Becca Robertson - upright bass, and Kenton Wiens - drums.

True to the confession theme, almost every piece had some aspect in it of guilt about not measuring up or failing. Ron started off by confessing how in his busy-ness he’d been neglecting Pacific Theatre and as a result was afraid the program was poorly put together. Of course by the end of the evening we realized that was all part of the act because, for me at least, the program was seamless.

Some bits I loved (in memory- not program-order):
- Ron’s crazy dream that exposed all kinds of insecurities
- Ron reading the poem “Plums.”
- Rebecca reading a piece from Traveling Mercies, where Anne Lamott confesses to getting livid with her son when he wouldn’t turn off the TV in honor of Ash Wednesday.
- Jonathan singing “Bitter Seed.”
- Ron reading a Stuart McLean story of a school dance and a girl in green and how a layering of lies led to a disappointing night, but also a lesson about how to live.
- Ron reading the story of how Christian students at one school put up a confession booth on campus in the middle of party week.
- Lance singing "Sunset is an Angel Weeping” and "Pilot Me."
- Rebecca reading a story of a girl who remembered the summer she was eight when her mother read the Gospels to them and she had a crush on Jesus – likened him to George of the Beetles, who were hugely popular right then. That crush subsided, and now she hardly believes in anything, though she wishes she could, followed by Jonathan singing “Long and Winding Road.”
- Sheree singing – in her plaintive voice – “I Am an Orphan Girl.”

(Here are the evening's credits - from Ron Reed's Pacific Theatre blog.)

I left the evening feeling wined and dined on soul food. I love these nights!

Confessions runs twice more – tonight and Saturday. (Tonight Sheree Plett is the featured singer, someone else on Sat.) If you’re in the area, go!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

a forest condominium

Click on photos to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

book review - A Promise for Ellie

Title: A Promise for Ellie

Author: Lauraine Snelling

Publisher: Bethany House, 320 pages

Genre: Historical fiction, Romance

ISBN: 0764228099

When Dad asks Andrew to postpone his and Ellie’s anticipated June wedding till after harvest, the lovers are set on a roller coaster ride. Highs of sweet togetherness and shared dreams are followed by plummets into lovers' misunderstandings and the challenges of circumstances, nature, and making a living from the land in Blessing, North Dakota in 1900. But A Promise for Ellie, the first book in Lauraine Snelling’s “Daughters of Blessing” series, is much more than just a light romance.

Setting plays a large par in this pioneer tale. The folks in this close-knit community do a lot of things together from raising barns to sharing views about local news at quilting bees, to, of course, going to church. Norwegian expressions (like “uff da” and “mange takk”) and forms of address (“Mor” for Mom and “Far” for Dad) give the story an authentic ethnic feel. Snelling, apparently renowned for her realistic portrayal of farming, judging from reviews of her other books, performs true to form. You can practically hear the zing of the milk hitting the empty pail, feel the prick of straw through your shirt, and taste that homemade rhubarb pie -- with coffee of course!

Snelling’s characters are another reason reading this book is great entertainment. Ellie Wold, the book’s female lead is a delightful young woman, idealistic, likeable and hardworking who matures noticeably during the five or so months that the story encompasses. Andrew Bjorklund, the book’s main male character is a sometimes contradictory young man who often doesn’t understand his own reactions, especially when he’s under pressure. Ingeborg Bjorklund, Andrew’s mother, is another complex and interesting point-of-view character. (Ingeborg is not a new character to Snelling fans however, judging from the author’s “Dedication” and several inferences in the story to past happenings. As someone who has never read a book by Snelling before, I can assure readers new to her that despite not meeting Ingeborg before, I found the book stood up just fine on its own.) Finally, the multiplicity of unexplored minor female characters in the cast leaves many possibilities for heroines in “Daughters of Blessing” books to come.

Faith in God and in one’s fellows, be they family members or the wider community, is a main theme in the story. Women’s issues, like Ellie’s fears of having a baby, the frank portrayal of Ingeborg’s nasty mid-life symptoms, and the community grappling with more than one pregnancy-gone-wrong, run through the book. Roles in marriage are also explored as Ellie seeks to discover what will be her identity in their dreamed-of union while Andrew struggles with wanting control. A defining incident near the book’s end also brings Andrew face to face with a deep-seated grudge, the need for a lifestyle of forgiveness, and his promise to Ellie – a segue to the title.

Snelling’s prose is, for the most part, low-noise -- a smooth-running vehicle for this story of the simple, strong people of Blessing. However, she does have lyrical capacity, as seen in vignettes with Andrew:

“With his forehead planted in the cow’s warm flank and the milk pinging into the bucket, he could let his mind roam. Cow milking time was always good thinking time. He’d daydreamed many a milking hour about the life he and Ellie would have once they were married.”

and Ellie:

“...she knelt by the window and crossed her arms on the sill. The moonlight silvered the maple leaves that whispered secrets in the breeze. Off in the distance a dog barked. Would she and Andrew have a dog to watch their place and the bring in the cows?”

Readers who enjoy novels about the Amish by Beverly Lewis will find similarities in this book.
For a wholesome love story set in a place and time sure to stir up feelings of nostalgia , A Promise for Ellie is a solid choice.

Monday, October 09, 2006

monday mural - KGH, Kelowna BC

This is a mural found along one of the hallways of Kelowna General Hospital. Along with serving as a decorative wall, it is a way to display the names of people (written on the birds) in whose memory gifts have been given to the hospital foundation. (Click to enlarge)

The mural is a scene of Lake Okanagon – the geographical feature which has helped to define this interior resort town. It depicts lake activities (sailing), the town’s surrounding hills, the brilliant sun which makes this area such a fruit- and wine-rich garden, and of course the birds – signifying those who have left us.

Unfortunately I’ve become all too familiar with hospital hallways in the last year. But even that has its silver lining. As I’ve said goodbye to many loved ones in 2006 (two aunts, two mothers and now an uncle), I’m reminded that this parting is not a final parting.

Thus on this Canadian Thanksgiving day, I am thankful that in the case of each loved one who has died, I can look forward to seeing that person again. Each of these people knew the Lord! And so I say with Paul, Isaiah and Hosea:

“'Death is swallowed up in victory.'
'O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?'”

Sunday, October 08, 2006

goodbye uncle

What a week it’s been!

It all started Monday about 3:00 p.m. I was setting up to bake a cake for our home group meeting on Tuesday when. E. happened to check his email. A note from his brother in Kelowna was there saying Uncle, who we knew was ill – terminally in fact – had just that morning taken a sudden turn for the worse. Though we’d earlier planned to make the 4-hour trip to Kelowna on Wednesday / Thursday, we decided to go immediately and were on the road by 4:15. We got to the hospital in Kelowna at 9:00 that night, only to learn that Uncle had passed away 30 minutes earlier.

Not surprisingly, the rest of the week took on a life of its own. The family scheduled the funeral for Friday morning. We made a round trip from Kelowna to Surrey and back to Kelowna on Wednesday, with about two-hours at home between journeys to pack the appropriate clothes etc. On Thursday E. worked on the eulogy and got together with the pianist to practice a song.

Then Friday morning we said goodbye to uncle.

This is Uncle Roy who, with Aunt Sally made us feel more than welcome when we moved to the coast in 1983. We enjoyed many an Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas meal together. They were like a second set of grandparents for the kids, making sure the little ones never lacked for treats (like gifts at Christmas or a stack of loonies or twonies wrapped in tin foil any old time).

Uncle and Auntie moved to Westbank about six years ago and Uncle seemed to want everyone in the family to migrate there, judging by his habitual sign-off: “From Westbank / Kelowna - everyone’s eventual retirement home.”

When I started my blog, in October of 2004, he read it! Though he never left online comments, often I’d get an email from him telling me, ever so tactfully, of a typo or lapse in grammar. Sometimes he’d comment in his own clever way about what I’d written – like the time I talked of the fact I had no peonies in my garden and apparently used the word "niggardly" in the piece. He wrote me back:

I am astonished to read your use of that perfectly good word "niggardly" inasmuch as it's currently so politically incorrect to use the N word in any context. I admire your courage and the taking advantage of literary freedom to do so in such a sad tale of your peony's or lack of them.

Sometimes in response to news of birds we’d seen on our walks, he’d write back with his own sightings of rare species:

*Spotted a couple of Glossy winged Thripes the other day. Marvelous song they have."


"We haven't seen any Robins thus far this year and cannot explain the curious absence of them, having seen many in previous years by this time. However we have seen Ruby- eyed Phalacrocoracidaes doing time on the Lake while enroute to Northern climes. They really are quite amusing."

So were you, uncle, so were you -- and so much more. You were a man of faith, and gallant, and kind, and principled, and resourceful, and helpful, and hospitable, and generous. And now you are greatly missed.

Monday, October 02, 2006

vive le difference

“There is no unisex brain,” she (Dr. Louann Brizendine - U. of California, San Francisco - in her newly published book The Female Brain) writes. “Girls arrive already wired as girls, and boys arrive already wired as boys. Their brains are different by the time they’re born, and their brains are what drive their impulses, values and their very reality.” She tells of one dedicated feminist who gave her three-year-old daughter a toy fire truck to prevent gender stereotyping. The child wrapped it in a baby blanket, cuddled it and cooed: “Don’t worry, little truckie, everything will be all right.”

Read the rest of “The brains of the family,” Ted Byfield’s witty take on this everything-old-is-new-again discovery. (From The Western Standard, where you'll have to register to read the article, though registration is free and painless.)

Thanks, E., for the tip.

monday mural - outdoor store

This wolf and squirrel are details from two of six panels on the street-facing wall of an outdoor supply store in Thunder Bay Ontario.

more on the mural blog

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...