Prov 17:22

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

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Naturopathic Tricks and Treats



It’s not the least bit spooky.

People ask what my therapy at Dr. Lisa Graham’s Naturopathic centre entrails—I mean, entails— and I’m here to reassure you it’s all quite normal. Just random strangers running around barefoot in blue hospital gowns or white bathrobes. Folks sweating together, not to the oldies, but in the 180 degree sauna to cook their germs. Patients lying around in beds with wet towels on their torsos to fend off evil. Acupuncture to encourage the exercising of vocal chords. Electrical stimulation to ward off aliens. Soft spa music, accompanied by the soothing howl of hungry wolves and the unmistakable but comforting grunt of constipated rhinos. Routine stuff like that. 

Even Dr. Lisa’s homeopathic remedies are conventional. Wretch weed for digestive disorders, dogbane for consumption, dried beetles for energy, mud dauber’s nests and lizard eggs for fertility. Not a drop of snake oil to be found.

And Dr. Lisa knows what she’s doing, believe me. First, she gets her vapours fusilatin.’ Then she gets her fumigatin’ fire going with a little skunkweed and tosses her “puttin’ down” powders into the air. Then she clips your toenails and snips a bit of your hair, and buries it under a cottonwood tree by the light of a full moon. Nothing weird.

And she truly cares. If you try to get out of bed before your time is up, she throws her boots at your head and shouts, “Don’t you know you’re at death’s door? That’s why I’m doctorin’ you, ya dern fool. Now git back into that bed!”

You think I’m making this up, but I’m not. I got most of it from an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, where Granny Clampett is out to cure an ailing Jed, whom she has diagnosed with a deadly case of The Misery. But it’s my way of playing a Halloween trick on Lisa, since I’m pretty sure she won’t be allowing me any candy. 

Especially after she reads this.

The truth? While I adore Granny Clampett, even Jed’s double barreled shotgun couldn’t coerce me into submitting myself to her mountain medicine. So what keeps me going back to Dr. Lisa?

I admit, it’s a bit stranger than what we’re used to. Yes, it’s time consuming going for treatments twice a week and using her sauna on the days in between. Yes, the new way of eating, shopping, and cooking seems like a huge burden at first. But, like one of my fellow patients said, “It’s working, and I really wish it weren’t.”

On the one hand, I know what he means. It takes effort! There are tons of things I’d rather be doing with my time than breathing eucalyptus steam morning and night, exercising, and juicing vegetables. But if that’s truly how he feels, he’s not desperate enough. When you’ve been ill for over a year and you find something that’s making you feel better, you want to stick with it. (If she’ll still let me through the door, that is.) 

Unlike Granny, Dr. Lisa doesn’t promise sure-fire cures. But she’s seen enough people get healthy to make her believe more firmly every day in the God-given power of the body to fight back when given what it really needs. What’s more, her faith in Jesus Christ makes me feel right at home. Come to think of it, that place embodies much of what a good church should: community, peace, joy, and healing. 

Though I look forward to the day when I can get back to my life and stop going so often, I would want to go whether I was experiencing health issues or not. The joyous atmosphere, encouraging coaching, healing prayers, and gentle nurture are things I wish everyone could experience at least once in their lifetime.

Now, where did I put my jug of stump water? I believe it’s time for a dose.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

If These Walls Could Talk...


One of the privileges of my job at City Hall is giving tours of the grand ol’ edifice to students. I recently led a large group of small people from Grades 2 and 3 at LaVerendrye School through. What a delightful bunch! When asked if they knew who gets to pick the Mayor, one answered, “the Queen.” Another informed me that taxes are those things with debit cards, and another wanted to know if that wall of glass blocks at the back of the front office is where we keep all the water for the City.

I’m confident they went home a little better informed, but I wonder how much their parents and grandparents know about our City Hall. Can I interest you in a crash course?

Did you know it was designed by Thomas L. Fuller, who also designed the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa? That’s because it was originally a post office, built in 1898, and now has the distinction of being the only small urban Fuller Post Office remaining in Western Canada.

Did you know the east door leading to the lobby once featured Portage’s only revolving door?

The building was given major renovations (1920-22) with the completion of a one-storey addition to the rear of the building. That’s where I work. No other major alterations took place until after the building became the seat of city administration in 1960.

Did you know about the controversy surrounding the building? And why wouldn’t there be, when there was a whopping $25,000 being squandered on it? In 1894 when the federal government agreed to erect a new post office in Portage la Prairie, there was a dispute over the site. The original site was the corner of Second St. SW and Saskatchewan Avenue. This decision aroused protest that the building would be too far from the business center. Work on the building began in 1895 and foundations completed in November. But petitions to change the location, supported by resolutions from the town council, caused work to halt. Finally, after the federal election of 1896, the federal government agreed to move to the present site. Even this decision caused antagonism and the federal authorities were condemned for extorting more money from the public to move the building.

The creaky ol' staircase
When the building was completed and opened in 1898, the ground floor held the post office, while Customs and Inland Revenue were located on the second floor. Brick vaults on each floor remain today. The caretaker’s quarters were located on the third floor, now used for storage. That’s the place where, if we must go up there, we tell each other “if I’m not back in half an hour, come looking.”

Did you know the City Library also occupied space in the building for a few years? And the RCMP detachment occupied the basement area awhile. Two jail cells remain down there, but they have yet to lock me up. Surprising, I know.

When I led the children through, they found the creaky staircase hysterical while their teachers appreciated the beauty of the polished British Columbia Spruce wood.

The following week, thank-you letters arrived from the students, which I promptly posted on the front of my desk because they were too cute not to share.

And now for the quiz.

How old is City Hall? If it’s still 2012 when you read this and you answered 114 years, you are correct. We staff complain about its antiquated heating, its draughts and its creaks, but I wouldn’t care to predict what the buildings going up today will look like 114 years from now. Would you?

                                                                                                               

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Child of the King


I'm sure you see the resemblance.

So apparently, I am related to Elvis Presley.

At a family wedding recently, my siblings informed me our dad’s sister’s husband’s first cousin was Elvis Presley’s mother. Guess that explains my hunka-hunka burnin’ personality.

“Well, anybody could say that,” I argued.  But they insisted, giving me a look that says, “You ain’t nuthin’ but a hound dog.” How had I remained ignorant of this important piece of trivia when they’d all known it forever?

“Don’t be cruel,” I said.

We all wondered the same thing: when would a piece of the Graceland pie come our way? The cheques must be in the mail.

Pondering what I’ll do with my share when it arrives, it occurred to me that Elvis’s daughter was married to the late Michael Jackson for a couple of years. Imagine the loot accompanying THAT union! When I was thirteen and plastering my bedroom walls with pages torn from Tiger Beat magazine and ruining the fake woodgrain wallpaper by taping up pictures of the Jackson Five (right between Donny Osmond and David Cassidy), it never occurred to me that little Michael and I would one day be kin. But it does explain the uncanny resemblance.

Checking out the branches of Elvis’s family tree on-line, I never did find myself — or even his mom’s cousin who married Dad’s sister. But I did learn some things I didn’t know, probably common knowledge to hard core Elvis fans. Did you know his maternal great-great-great-grandmother, Morning White Dove, was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian? His paternal great-grandmother, Rosella, bore nine children out of wedlock and never once revealed to her children who their fathers were. 

His maternal grandparents were first cousins (the inspiration for “Kissin’ Cousins”?) He had an identical twin who was stillborn, named Jesse Garon. Imagine if there had been two of them. Methinks somebody’s blue suede shoes might have been stepped on after all.

Isn’t it interesting how we feel self-important in unearthing a connection to the rich and famous, regardless how all-shook-up their lineage? The truth is, go back far enough and you’ll eventually discover we are all connected. Humbling, ain’t it?

I confess, I’ve never taken much interest in genealogy. I figure it doesn’t really matter when you’ve been adopted by the most famous King of all. The documentation goes back much farther than the internet, too. The Bible tells me things like:
“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)
“For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26), and
“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!” (I John 3).

I could go on.

In her hymn, Child of the King, Harriett Buell wrote, “I once was an outcast stranger on earth, a sinner by choice and an alien by birth. But I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down; an heir to a mansion, a robe, and a crown.”

Now that’s an inheritance worth waiting for.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Little Thanksgiving History



When Jon and I lived in Texas back in the late 70’s, the students from Canada gathered together for Canadian Thanksgiving. Six weeks later, we’d get to do it all over again with the Americans.

Ever wonder how the Thanksgiving holiday started in Canada or why we celebrate on a different day than the Americans’? I always assumed it was simply because our northern harvest happens earlier. But I did some digging and found out otherwise. Am I the only one who didn’t know all this stuff?

Before the first Europeans arrived in North America, the farmers in Europe held celebrations at harvest time. To give thanks for their good fortune and the abundance of food, the farm workers filled a curved goat’s horn with fruit and grain. This symbol was called a cornucopia or horn of plenty. When they came to Canada, they brought this tradition with them.

In the year 1578 (43 years before the pilgrims gave thanks for the bounty that ended a year of hardships and death), the English navigator Martin Frobisher held a formal ceremony, in what is now Newfoundland, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. Other settlers arrived and continued these ceremonies.

At the same time, French settlers, having arrived in Canada with explorer Samuel de Champlain, also held huge feasts of thanks. They even formed “The Order of Good Cheer” and gladly shared their food with their Aboriginal neighbours.
 
After the Seven Year’s War ended in 1763, the citizens of Halifax held a special day of Thanksgiving.
 
The Americans who remained faithful to the government in England were known as Loyalists. At the time of the American Revolution, they moved to Canada and spread the Thanksgiving celebration to other parts of the country. Many of the new English settlers from Great Britain were also used to having a harvest celebration in their churches every autumn.
 
Eventually in 1879, Parliament declared November 6 a day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday.

Through the years, many dates were used for Thanksgiving, the most popular the third Monday in October. After World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11 occurred. So in 1931, the two days became separate holidays and Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day.

Finally, on January 31, 1957, Parliament proclaimed, “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessings with which the people of Canada have been favoured ... to be observed on the second Monday in October.”

To me, that proclamation is loaded with significance. Our government doesn’t mention God much these days. We continue to celebrate thanksgiving and encourage one another to be grateful, but whom exactly are we thanking? Are we “throwing it out there to The Universe”?

How pointless.

How would you feel if, after providing your family with an awesome feast, they said thanks to the afghan on the sofa or some other inanimate object you had created, rather than to you? Personally, I’d feel insulted and less inclined to cook next time.

I say, let’s all give thanks where thanks are due or else go to work and don’t take advantage of the holiday.

Good thing God is more gracious and tolerant than I. Yet another reason for us all to be truly thankful.