Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, April 22, 2017

40 Adventures for 40 Years, Part 4

Time for an update on the ol’ list of 40 things.

We actually took an unexpected, last minute trip to South Dakota to spend Easter weekend with Jon’s mom as well as seeing some extended family and friends who have sort of become family ever since Jon’s mom married our friend’s dad. It’s complicated. We took our grandson Allistar, age 7, with us. He was a real little champ and a joy to have along. Though this trip wasn’t on our list, it did offer some opportunities to add to our list of 40 different places to kiss, so we added Grandma’s house, our friends’ house, the U.S./Canadian border, and beneath the world’s largest buffalo in Jamestown, North Dakota. (Which, I argue, is a bison, not a true buffalo. In any case, it was built the same year I was born and it’s still standing strong. But I digress.) Allistar was a great sport to take a picture of us kissing and he did a pretty good job, wouldn’t you agree?

The jigsaw puzzle remains unfinished on our dining table and we continue to slog through Black Beauty at a first-grader’s pace. I have my theories about that book, but will save them for after we’re actually done reading it.
The one thing on our list we’ve actually checked off since my last post was:

#20. Eat at a Revolving Restaurant. I’d always wanted to visit the open-again, closed-again, open-again Prairie 360 Restaurant above Fort Garry Place in Winnipeg, so had placed it on our list. Lucky for us, it’s currently open again. Since we had an appointment nearby this past week, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a reservation. It was terrific! You ride up to the 28th floor in a glass elevator, then board a second elevator to the 30th floor.

The service and food were excellent (and yes, pricey, but we knew that going in.) The view was stunningly gorgeous, and we thoroughly enjoyed the complete circle we made as the sunshine transformed to twilight. Viewing familiar buildings from a decidedly unfamiliar vantage point reminded me that a fresh perspective can change everything! Life is not always what it seems from our every-day, limited, earth-bound view. Something to remember when days seem too difficult or too dull. Ask God what he sees, and see what he shows you!
The closer building is Union Station, mentioned in my books Maggie's War and Bleak Landing. The odd-shaped one is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which is also on our 40s list.

I wish we'd had the waiter take this when there was a better view behind us.
Of course, the experience provided us another new place to kiss (in the elevator) and our kissing list is now up to 21—more than halfway there, and the year isn’t half over yet. I’d say we’re doing all right in the smooching department. Now if we could just remember to kiss a little more often at home.

Until next time…

Monday, April 10, 2017

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

40 Adventures for 40 Years, Part 3

We’ve been able to knock a few more adventures off our list of 40, starting with…

Our Cabin
#5. Stay at Tallpine Lodges. Back in 1996, Jon and I went to Tallpine Lodges at West Hawk Lake, Manitoba (just inside the Ontario border) for a few days of much needed relaxation. It was a year after Jon’s amputation and we’d been through a lot, so those days of quiet solitude and reflection remained a warm memory and we always thought it would be fun to go back.

It only took twenty years, but we made it—and this time, we could afford to upgrade a little from the cheapest of their 16 cottages! It’s a couples-only resort with no visitors allowed, so it’s very quiet—especially during the off season. Our cabin had its own sauna and Jacuzzi tub, electric fireplace (they still had the real kind when we were there the first time!) and the grounds have tame deer that wander around being friendly and looking for handouts. I fell for their gorgeous big eyes and fed them our apples.

It was wonderfully relaxing and we combined it with…

#25. Have an Unplugged Weekend. We weren’t sure which of us would find this a greater challenge, Jon (who’s pretty glued to the games on his tablet) or me (who’s pretty glued to her laptop and Facebook.) We did “cheat” by checking our phones a couple of times just to make sure the kids didn’t have any emergencies, or at least that was our excuse. But other than that, we really did stay unplugged and we didn’t miss our screen time. We watched one movie the old fashioned way (DVD) and listened to some worship CDs. Mostly, we read and slept. It was also a perfect time to tackle…

#27. Play a Board Game. Technically, there is no board in Yahtzee, so maybe this was a cheat. But Jon’s favorite board games are conquer-the-world-or-at-least-the-economy games like Monopoly, Risk, and Cash Flow. All of which, I loathe. The ones I like (you know, the kind that build relationships and create opportunities for laughter instead of competitive greed) are Apples to Apples and the like. Which Jon loathes. So we had to find something we can both tolerate. Yahtzee fit the bill. We each won one round. We each got one Yahtzee. And we got a good start on…

#34. Read a Classic Aloud Together. It took us a while to select which classic we’d read. Looking at various online lists and not wanting to get bogged down in 600 pages of Tolstoy or endless passages of description from Dickens, we settled on Black Beauty. I was surprised, when I borrowed it from the library, by how thin it was. I figured we’d easily burn through it over the weekend. But who knew it would be boring? Really. To me, the most interesting thing about it is noting all the things author Anna Sewell did in 1877 that writers can’t get away with nowadays. Like sentences that fill entire paragraphs and paragraphs that fill entire pages. We won’t be checking this box off just yet, but hopefully before the book is due back.

On the list of kissing locations, we added our cottage and the top of a hill overlooking West Hawk Lake—it’s the deepest lake in the province at 115 meters (377 feet). The granite cliffs make for gorgeous scenery. There are several more places we could have added if we could just remember to kiss while we’re there.

Until next time...

Overlooking the beach at West Hawk Lake, still frozen on April 3

Saturday, March 25, 2017

40 Adventures for 40 Years, Part 2

Our lives haven’t exactly been a whirlwind of activity since my last report, although we’ve added four places to our kissing list: church (after the service, not during); my sister Shanon’s house (with an audience of extended family); the sidewalk outside the Learning Centre where Jon works (where one of the students happened to be walking by and was no doubt grossed out); and the back seat of our friends Shaun and Tracy’s car. They were completely scandalized.

Besides adding to our kissing exploits, we’ve checked off just one item from our list of forty things to celebrate our fortieth year of marriage. We did it together with Shaun and Tracy, which is how we ended up in their car.

It was Item #4: “See The Shack.” I had added it to our list as soon as I heard the movie was coming out, knowing we’d want to see it. We first read the book in 2008 and heard its author, William Paul Young, speak at a Breakforth conference in 2009. I enjoyed the book well enough. But Jon found it transformative and re-read it and listened to it numerous times in the intervening years. And yes, I’m quite aware there’s much controversy about the author’s theology and whether or not the book and movie are heretical. I am not here to argue and will refuse to engage if invited. It’s fiction, okay? Love it or hate it, but take it as an engaging story and don’t make it your new Bible.

The four of us discussed the movie over crepes afterwards and on the hour-long ride home. We agreed it was well done, well cast, filled with hope, and true to the book. My favorite part is when Jesus is trying to coax Mac to get out of the boat, and Mac is afraid. He's seen scary things in the water.

“You are imagining a future without me in it,” Jesus says. “Such a thing does not exist.”

That’s exactly it, isn’t it? Every time we’re worried or afraid or simply cannot face another day, we are imagining a future without Jesus in it. And such a thing does not exist.

When I look back over my life, every moment—from the best to the most rotten—he’s been there. Even when I doubted his presence. So why should I think there will be any moments or days or tragedies in my future where Jesus will not be there to see me through? How I need this reminder!

Stay tuned for more anniversary adventures throughout 2017.

Friday, March 10, 2017

40 Adventures for 40 Years - Part 1

Hubby and I will be marking our fortieth anniversary in 2017, which is a miracle on so many levels—not the least of which is the fact that only a few years ago, the only people who got to celebrate fortieth anniversaries were old. Now, even kids like us are doing it. I think it has something to do with the weird time warp that happened when we flipped to a new century. And they thought Y2K was a non-event.

Anyway, we decided we’d spend the whole year celebrating with a list of 40 activities to do together—some big, most little, a few crazy. Some definitely outside our comfort zone. In no particular order.

And of course, I’ll take my readers along for the ride. Vicariously, I mean.

So here we are, more than two months into this fortieth year and we’ve only checked off two things. Unless you count Item #40, which is “Kiss in 40 Places Outside the House,” followed by 40 blank lines, ten of which have been filled in. We’ve kissed in the CanadaInn parking lot, Stride Place, the airport, our son’s house, outside our bank, on the sidewalk on Garry Street in Winnipeg, the McNally Robinson parking lot, Grant Park theatre, the Pony Corral restaurant, and behind City Hall. So we’re on track with the kissing thing even if Hubs isn't a fan of public displays of affection. We’ll have to step it up a notch in order to cover the remainder of the list.

Item #39, “Do a Jigsaw Puzzle,” has not been checked off yet, but it was begun last Christmas Eve and is still in progress—much to my annoyance—on our dining table.  Jon has done the lion’s share since I have the attention span of a Chihuahua when it comes to puzzles.

Item #1 was accomplished on February 12, although it was a bit of a cheat, since it wasn’t actually on the original list. The mayor offered me two free tickets to the Men’s Provincial Curling Championship—any game. We hadn’t watched live curling in years, or curling at this level ever, and thought it would be fun to do something different. We added it to our list in place of something we were pretty sure we couldn’t pull off.

And it was fun. It’s mind-boggling how the curlers can get so expert at a sport that comes with so many crazy variables. We chose the final draw and got to watch Mike McEwen lead his team to the championship win. Although I gotta confess, it might have been more interesting to watch the one where a temper tantrum taught a player a tough lesson.


Item #37. We’ve also crossed off “Eat at Nuburger” and declared their burgers the best ever! There are three locations in Winnipeg; we went to the one in Osborne Village. Formerly known as “Unburger,” they changed their name when people assumed they were vegetarian only. I’d have drawn the same conclusion. (They do have vegetarian options, but their beef, chicken, and bison are locally raised.) Hubs had the “Deliciousmosttastious Bacon Cheddar” and I had the “Delicious ‘n Tasty Cheddar” on fantastic multi-grain bread. We brought home a menu and will definitely want to return to try some of their other combinations. Fantastic!

Stay tuned for more anniversary adventures throughout 2017.