Friday, February 27, 2009

frivolous friday

I'm beginning to feel this way about plumbers. Remember the watery adventure I wrote about a week ago? Well, it continues.

The plumbers have been here most of the week, trying this and that, but still finding leaks in the system. Today somehow they managed to break the water line that supplies water to our entire complex. I was away, but hubby said it was Saturday morning all over again (except this time it didn't flood our house's innards).

I arrived home at 3:00 to find the pumper truck all but blocking the road. It sits right beside our unit, pumping groundwater ...

out of this hole in the side yard where the plumbers are trying to repair the damage.

UPDATE - Saturday, February 28, a.m.

The plumbers worked into the evening. They finally got the water turned back on about 9 p.m. - just after E. slipped out to buy 2 jugs of water (Oh us of little faith!). Kudos to that hard-working crew!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


The Widows


Thursday Challenge

Next Week: WINDOW or DOOR (Stained Glass, Sunny, Frosty, Entrance, Portal,...)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

reno update

Now we're looking like this

and this

How quickly packing the packing skills of 2007 return - and the weariness.

Scott Tournament of Hearts screen shot
of standings Tuesday night after seven draws

How am I spending my breaks? Watching the Scott Tournament of Hearts, of course! How about B.C.'s (our) Marla Mallett?!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

watery adventure

Pounding and the doorbell woke us at 1:50 this morning. E. went to see what was up, I heard a female voice, and when he didn't come back to bed I peeked through the Venetian slats to see our barefoot neighbor standing on the street, up which ran a trickle of water. Fire? A burst water pipe up the street?

A look out the living room window a minute later clued me in that this was not up the street but right beside our unit. Bubbling from the ground with the sound and energy of a spring river was a gusher that had already filled our side yard, the front yard, and was coursing down the street. Unless it was soon stanched, it would invade our garage, crawl space and den. We looked on in horror. What to do?

A few minutes later a fire truck arrived. The crew called the city waterworks people and then milled around in their bulky waterproofs, not seeming to know exactly what else to do either.

Every time I checked, the water level was higher. Maybe 15 minutes later, E. went into the crawl space and found seepage.

While I was back and forth helping him clear boxes and suitcases into the den I saw tea-colored liquid seep from under one of our storage shelves and spread over the laminate flooring. So we made a mad scramble to get everything off the den floor. One of the firemen suggested we shop-vac the water. While we fumbled our little-used shop-vac together, the neighbor brought his over and the "bailing" began.

E. said I should call our strata management company. Lo and behold, I was able to get a live person on the line at this unsightly hour. While I was on the phone to her, news came that the city works guy had shut the water off -- albeit all the water to the entire 41-units.

Meanwhile strata management and I were back and forth about getting a restoration company on scene (and would you believe a company [appropriately called "Angel"] arrived to set up powerful dehumidifiers and fans before 4:30 a.m.). The bad news is that no matter how they dehumidify, the laminate flooring will need to be replaced -- the whole room of it even though only one side of the room flooded. We're talking nasties here -- emptying three bookshelves and several storage cupboards, moving an old upright piano that weighs about 3000 lbs., and living with a garage-full of stuff while the reno gets done.

But it could have been so much worse. What if our neighbor hadn't woken us up? What if we hadn't been home? There is much to be thankful for!

Kudos too to the people who make themselves available at night -- firemen, city workers, a plumber who came in the wee hours so that this morning we woke to taps that once again give us water.

This is the sinkhole left in our side yard. What's with this spot. It's very near the place that was dug up last year to search for another water leak. I'm beginning to think we live beside the Bermuda Triangle of Wyndham Lane.

something's coming!

Have you noticed the change in the days lately? They're getting longer! Though I know this starts happening after December 21st, it's hard to actually notice until those lengthened hours of daylight start coinciding with landmark times of day like 7:00 a.m. when I'm barely up and 5:00 p.m. when we eat dinner. We're living in natural daylight again. Oh joy!!

We saw it last week on our walk to Elgin Park too. See this drab winterish scene. Nothing spring-like about it, right?

But wait. Look more closely at that green below the tree. That's no patch of winter-weary grass. It's snowdrops -- hundreds of them!

My garden is starting to respond to spring's call as well. Here is peony bud,

some spears of daffodil

and I'm not even sure what these are -- tulips maybe (although they look an awful lot like hosta)? We'll find out soon!

Friday, February 20, 2009

frivolous friday

Lawrence Livermore Laboratories has discovered the heaviest element yet known to science.

The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from four days to four years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2-6 years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

Via the email grapevine (a government-free zone).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

athiest supports cross-cultural missionaries

When Matthew Parris, British Times Online journalist and atheist traveled to Malawi in late 2008 to visit the small British charity Pump Aid, he returned to the country of his youth and was confronted again with the disturbing phenomenon that doesn't mesh with his belief system...

"...But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

"Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good."

And what of those who insist that Christianity introduced into these cultures is a destructive force? This is an aspect of missions that I've followed with some interest, especially since reading Spirit of the Rainforest. Here are Matthew Parris's observations in that department:

"There's long been a fashion among Western academic sociologists for placing tribal value systems within a ring fence, beyond critiques founded in our own culture: “theirs” and therefore best for “them”; authentic and of intrinsically equal worth to ours.

"I don't follow this. I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.

"Anxiety - fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things - strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. People won't take the initiative, won't take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders.

[...] Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosophical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates."

Read all of As an athiest, I truly believe Africa needs God


Wedding Bower


Thursday Challenge

Next week: JEWELRY (Ring, Ear Ring, Bracelet, Necklace, Watch, Precious Stones, Gold,...)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

book review: Holding Fast - The Untold Story of the Mount Hood Tragedy by Karen James

Title: Holding Fast - The Untold Story of the Mount Hood Tragedy
Author: Karen James
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2008, Hardcover, 256 pages
ISBN-10: 1595551751

As Kelly James lay alone in a snow cave nearly eleven thousand feet high on Mount Hood, he wondered, “Where the h— is Brian? Come on dude.” His climbing partner, Brian Hall and fellow climber Jerry “Nikko” Cooke had left Kelly a few days earlier to descend the mountain in search of help. It was December, and Kelly was stuck on a mountain in Oregon, far from his home in Dallas, Texas. What had started as a quick weekend trip to practice ice climbing in preparation for tackling Mount Everest had turned into a life-and-death situation unlike any that Kelly had ever faced….

So begins Holding Fast: The Untold Story of the Mount Hood Tragedy by Karen James, Kelly’s wife. It is a harrowing tale, all the more so because we know how it will end. Yet James manages to not only hold our attention but inspire us through her retelling of a mountain climbing accident — and its aftermath — in a fierce winter storm.

The book is divided into four parts. In Part One, “The Man Behind the Headlines,” James starts with her imaginative recreation of Kelly’s last hours in the snow cave. Then she goes back in time to fill us in on Kelly’s life to that point, ending with a description of their happy life together just before the trip.

In Part Two, “The Storm of a Decade,” James details what happened during December 10-17, 2006 in chapters the very names of which tell a story: “The Phone Call That Changed My Life,” Our Arrival,” “Signs from Above?” “Give Us a Break,” and “The Worst Day of My Life.” The narrative in this section is divided by subheadings of date and time-of-day (e.g. Monday, December 11, 10:00 a.m.), slowing the pace and putting the focus on how time is passing as the search drags on without a clue of Kelly's whereabouts. James keeps us informed of the weather, what happened at the daily search briefings, and how the family is handling the wait and the media. It is a roller coaster ride of hope and disappointment.

Part Three, “Putting the Pieces Together,” describes the aftermath of finding Kelly’s body. James is amazingly transparent about her journey through grief. Though the story could easily have bogged down in self-pity here, it never does. Instead, in addition to a moving tribute to an exceptional man, it becomes a journal of grief recovery and a testimony to how faith in God can help one come through the darkest time.

Part Four, “A Legacy of Love,” contains Karen’s tributes to Kelly as her husband. In it she shares poems and letters he wrote her.

The hardback edition I read had a heft to match the mid-book color photo section, printed on heavy, glossy paper. There were black and white photos throughout the text as well. The photos and personal writings made the story and its characters come alive.

Cover endorsements from Sheriff Wampler and Steve Rollins, both involved in the rescue, where James’ description of the events is called “the most accurate I have heard to date,” and “the most detailed and inspiring I’ve heard,” encourage the reader to trust this vivid first-person account. James’ experience as a journalist shines through in her skillful storytelling.

I found Holding Fast a quick, absorbing read. It made me see my family with new appreciation and want to tell them so now, while I still have them. The story also gave me a confidence in God’s presence even in tragic situations when our most earnest prayers remain unanswered. James ends the chapter where she tells numerous incidents of feeling God’s presence (from the message she got in a fortune cookie to the name of the bulbs she was planting on the day she got the phone call from Oregon) with the statement, “I believe now more than ever that there are no coincidences and that there is a grand plan in which we all play a role.”

I recommend Holding Fast for the riveting story it is. But I recommend it too for the aftertaste of hope that lingers even after you’ve turned the last page.

Go to Holding Fast for Purpose to hear the song which inspired the book's title, see more photos, read chapter segments and more.


Book Courtesy Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program.

Monday, February 16, 2009

book review: Rich Is a Religion - Breaking the Timeless Code to Wealth by Mark Stevens

Title: Rich is a Religion: Breaking the Timeless Code to Wealth
Author: Mark Stevens
Publisher: Wiley, 2008, Hardcover, 192 pages

In Rich is a Religion: Breaking the Timeless Code to Wealth, multi-millionaire Mark Stevens imparts his philosophy of wealth. He likens it to a religion with

…a view of money that vests it with far more substance than a simple trading commodity. It is a way of thinking about money that has greater connectivity to what most of us place at the top of life’s hierarchy of values: family, friends, fulfillment, enrichment, and independence. (p. 10)

The book is interesting, loaded as it is with stories that illustrate his points. It is easy to understand for even infrequent visitors to the world of finance (moi). And it is to-the-point.

In the nine chapters that comprise the main part of the book Stevens extends the religion metaphor (e.g. chapter titles like “The Vision,” “The Congregation,” “The Atheists of the Religion of the Rich,” and “Metamorphosis”) and gives instructions on how to convert. Despite the religious symbolism, he does not advocate the worship of money but rather a relationship with it that resembles one’s relationship with religion – one made up of deeply held and faithfully followed convictions. To the brotherhood he promises at least an improvement in financial position if not outright wealth.

Some of the tenets of Stevens’ religion of the rich include the need to respect money and handle it with discipline and a sense of fiduciary control. He eschews using money and what it can buy to impress others (“Don’t care whether you are perceived as being rich or poor” p. 40). He warns against greed and taking undue risks with one’s livelihood and home. He recommends simplicity, contentment, humility (“Recognize that the most important money you have is the money no one can see” p. 158), smart management (“I have learned to make money while I sleep” p. 61) and realistic caution (“Never bet the farm” p. 101).

And to what end do we gain this wealth? “…To maximize the gift of life” p. 5, to achieve contentment (“The most rewarding achievement in life is to be content” p. 16), “…to extract the maximum pleasure from life…” p. 84. If there is anywhere I would quibble with Rich is a Religion's ideas, it would be in these regards. For though this is a book that gives wise advice about how to accumulate wealth for one’s time on earth, it lacks an eternal perspective on riches. As I read it, I kept thinking of the words of Jesus: “Do not lay up treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20). It’s not that this book is against these things. Stevens just never mentions them, leaving it for the reader to make their own connection. I suppose the astute reader will, though it’s awfully easy to lose sight of that perspective in the midst of all the motivation to gain material wealth for the here-and-now.

Stevens has earned his reputation as an expert by reason of his experience and success. His father died when he was a teenager, leaving the family with the grand total of $84. The fact that he came from that to his current multi-millionaire status and position of CEO of MSCO -- a results-driven management and marketing firm — by using the principles he explains in Rich is a Religion: Breaking the Timeless Code to Wealth, speaks eloquently of their power. More of his advice is available through other books he has authored (Your Marketing Sucks, Your Management Sucks, God is a Salesman) and via his Unconventional Thinking Blog.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

how do you hear "I love you"?

(Photo: Couldn't resist all the hearts last strawberry season.)
Happy Valentine's Day!

What does it take to get you to hear "I love you"?

- Help with baby or the dishes?

- Chocolates and roses?

- A heartfelt compliment?

- A dinner for two where you linger over coffee and conversation?

- Kisses, hugs and lots of cuddles?

Chances are you'd like some of them all. But if Gary Chapman is right, each one of us has a predominant love language.

This Valentine's Day why not review his description of the five love languages: service, gifts, affirmation, quality time and physical touch. Then say "I love you" in a way your significant other won't be able to miss.
  • Take the 30-second love language assessment here.
  • The love languages and their relationship to marriage are described briefly here and here.
  • Of course Dr. Chapman talks about them in much more detail within the love language books he's written:
- The Five Love Languages
- The Five Love Languages of Teens
- The Five Love Languages of Children
  • In case this day finds you in a spot where you and your love need to resolve some issues, check out the Five Languages of Apology. Good, good stuff.

Friday, February 13, 2009

frivolous friday

Here's a classic from the old Carol Burnett Show - starring Tim Conway and Harvey Korman. Even Harvey Korman can't keep a straight face.

Tim Conway & Harvey Korman - Dentist Skit

Thursday, February 12, 2009




Thursday Challenge

Next Week: PINK (Candy, Birds, Flowers, Cheeks, Toys,...)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

book of the month

Check out the 100 Huntley Street book of the month. I'm so proud to say it's authored by my friends and colleagues at The Word Guild.

Read a review of it here.

HAC also has its own web page with all kinds of interesting tidbits about the contributors and links to interviews and web sites.

If you want to order it from 100 Huntley Street online, the order page is here.

Monday, February 09, 2009

weekend treats

We've just had a totally fine weekend spent with family from far away. They have been easing out of their jet lag between Hawaii and Thunder Bay, Ontario by spending Friday night to Sunday with us.

Look where we walked on Saturday -- Derby's Reach and the Fort to Fort Trail.

Today we met more of their family in Chilliwack (a young couple whose first babe is due in about 10 days) and did a short walk through the woods to Bridal Falls.

Dan (of the Chilliwack relatives) introduced us to a great new song. It's called "Where the People Walked Backward" by Allen Levi (rootsy - similar to Bebo Norman; actually he has recorded with BN). It's a song that Andrew Peterson said was his kids' favorite from his ipod whenever they traveled somewhere. Allen Levi calls it his "gas station parable." (It reminds me of the Max Lucado children's story about the people with the spots.) Click on over and listen to it. You'll love it. Go. Now.

Friday, February 06, 2009

frivolous friday - yarn bombing

Ever heard of yarn bombing? Apparently it's making public art (a polite way of saying graffiti) only with yarn instead of a spray can.

I discovered this when I visited Jan's blog (from Oklahoma) today and saw this:

She linked here, which is the blog of two yarn artists from Vancouver -- my neck of the woods. The creators of this Yarnbombing blog -- Leanne and Mandy -- have a book coming out in September called Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti.

Indeed. Knitters unite! Let's put those spray can taggers out of business!!

To really get inspired, check out for a very cool slide show of various yarn art projects.

I'm beginning to see the naked trees around here with new eyes too. I have spare wool - and needles. Imagine all the neighborhood tress, fancied up and toasty, and the sidewalks padded with granny squares.


Big sky pond


Thursday Challenge

Next Week: CLOTHES (Shirt, Pants, Dress, Shoes, Hats, Gloves, Ties,...)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

the dalits of india

Attending Missions Fest is always interesting. Last weekend was no exception. One of the seminars my husband and I attended was a documentary film on the Dalit people of India.

I had heard of the Dalits years ago, only under a different name. When we learned about India in school they were called the Untouchables - the very lowest of India's castes. I hadn't heard of them for years and thought they had disappeared as class of people. I was very wrong. Here is Wikipedia on the Dalits.

In the context of traditional Hindu society, Dalit status has often been historically associated with occupations regarded as ritually impure, such as any occupation involving butchering, removal of dead animals, removal of night soil (human feces) and leatherwork. One million Dalits work as manual scavengers, cleaning latrines and sewers by hand and clearing away dead animals.[13] Engaging in these activities was considered to be polluting to the individual who performed them, and this pollution was considered to be 'contagious'. As a result, Dalits were commonly banned and segregated from full participation in Hindu social life (they could not enter the premises of a temple or a school and stayed outside the village), while elaborate precautions were sometimes observed to prevent incidental contact between Dalits and other castes.

In the film, we saw all this in living color - and more. Young boys of 10 to 12 described how they worked as bonded laborers (slaves really - working for cruel bosses to whom their parents owed money under such payback terms their loans would never be paid off). Old women described how they had been taken as young girls and used as temple prostitutes. We saw footage of a whole community of Dalits living in the rejected cracked concrete pipes of a pipe-making factory. They had been tricked into coming to the isolated place to work in the factory. Now their children were growing up far from any schools and they owed so much money they would never pay off their debts even if they worked out the rest of their lives.

In all this there is a ray of hope. An organization called the Dalit Freedom Network, was formed in 2002 and has come alongside these people. One of their activities is to help Dalit children get an education. They do this by pairing Dalit children with donors who then pay for their education. Watch the YouTube movie below to find out more about the Dalits and how the Dalit Freedom Network is making a difference in the lives of these people who number 250 million.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

i guest blogged

on Kimberley's blog yesterday. Kimberley Payne is big into fitness. If you sit for hours at a desk, like many writers do, Kimberley is full of good tips for you. Hang around her site and you're bound to be healthier and fitter for it! (You may well ask, what am I doing guesting on her blog. Wander over and see...)

Monday, February 02, 2009

a good read

On browsing the stacks of newish arrivals at the local library on Friday I found Home by Marilynne Robinson (this is the same author who wrote Gilead -- one of my favorite novels.) Of course I signed it out.

Gilead is a much-acclaimed book about an old minister, Ames, who lives in the town of Gilead. In it he thinks back over the life he's lived. It's a gentle and thoughtful story of family, friends, faith and forgiveness. Gilead is one book I will keep in my collection in order to reread.

Home covers the same time-frame and events, but is told from the viewpoint of Glory, Ames' best friend Boughton's daughter. It deals with the homecoming of Boughton's prodigal son Jack.

What makes these books so special is author Marilynne Robinson's ability to flesh out the subtleties and intricacies of relationships and show how present interactions have their roots in the past. It's beautiful, perceptive writing.

The only downside is the little red sticker on the front of the book. It says "Bestseller Express Loan 7 days" and, in case I'm tempted to keep it longer, "Overdue fine $1 per day." Ouch! I have only five more days; not much for a slow reader like I. I'd better get reading.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

sunday quote - a hymn this time

I don't normally post hymns, but yesterday we were at Missions Fest - Vancouver and sang this grand old one. What a wonderful reminder of how God continues to work even when we're perplexed about where we are and what's next -- maybe especially when we're perplexed and finally still enough to let Him take over.

Be Still My Soul Hymn

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, be leaving, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

Lyrics: Katharina A. von Schlegel - 1752
Music: Finlandia, Jean Sibelius - 1899

Below is a beautiful version of "Be Still" sung by Selah.
(To turn off automatic player click on '' of the Playlist - sidebar top right.)

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