Prov 17:22

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

Friday, September 30, 2011

Get Me to the Church on Time

     I was late for my own wedding.
     October 1, 1977. Back then, you simply couldn't get married without fluffy plastic flowers running the length of your car and a giant pair of spray-painted, Styrofoam wedding rings on top. It was the law, I think. The monstrous, glitter-glued diamond on one ring would show the world we spared no expense to host a classy shindig. My dad's gold Newport Chrysler looked mighty spiffy bedecked with those blue and white flowers and elegant, Herculean jewelry.
     Dad was driving my maid of honour, my flower girl, and me from my sister's house to the wedding just seven miles down the highway in said car. We left in plenty of time. What we didn't know was that whatever held the decorations in place was not doing its job adequately. As Dad sped up, the flower streamers started flailing in every direction like tentacles on an octopus. Dad stopped every once in a while to reattach wayward decorations, while the bride and her maid each kept a hand out the window to hold things in place. If Dad drove about ten miles an hour, they stayed put, so we crawled along. Why he didn't rip them off and stuff them in the trunk is beyond me. Respect for the wedding decoration police, I suppose. Or maybe he wanted to make sure we got our money's worth out of those fancy rented adornments. Or, perhaps Dad just figured they were important to his little girl.
     Meanwhile, a church full of guests waited. Key players began to wonder if the bride had chickened out. The bride's mother worried about what they'd do with all the food. The preacher hoped the unused candles could be used in the next day's church service. The groom considered heading back to the field to complete the silage-cutting he'd begun that morning. And every unattached guy there wondered how soon would be too soon to move in on the bride. Okay, I may have made that last one up.
     Thankfully, they didn't go ahead without me. We eventually arrived and proceeded with our I do's, our sluggish parade through town, and our receiving line of hugs and advice from aunties and uncles. The Carpenters' song, We've Only Just Begun played its role in there somewhere, another requirement of a 1970s wedding.
     Over the years, we have joked about the irony of my being late for that event. Of the two of us, it was the groom who tended to be late for things, both before and after that day. But 34 years later, this team is still hitched. Guess there's truth in John Dyer's poem:

Life is a race, where some succeed,
While others are beginning;
'Tis luck, at times, at others, speed,
That gives an early winning.
But, if you chance to fall behind,
Ne'er slacken your endeavor;
Just keep this wholesome truth in mind:
'Tis better late than never! 

Happy Anniversary to the man who has hung in there with me all this time!

And now for the really funny postlude. After writing this story and sending it off to the newspaper for my weekly column, I decided to post it here, along with an actual photo of the wedding car. When I found the photo, I discovered we didn't have giant wedding rings at all, but wedding bells! Here's proof of what 34 years can do to one's memory:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Vogue Versus Vujicic

Today I'm featuring a guest blogger. If her style sounds familiar, there's a good reason: she's my daughter, Mindy Erickson of Calgary. It seems she's a chip off the old word processor. Enjoy.

     I am appalled. But I am not sure who appalls me more: the writers of this craptastic magazine, or  myself, for purchasing it. I admit, I occasionally like to spoil myself with a wholesome, educational, shoes-and-bags, celebrities-and-eyeliner magazine. Like Vogue
     I came to a compilation edited by Sarah Brown. One writer hated her sagging earlobes and was considering a lobeotomy, costing $2,000-$2,500. Another hates her jawline. She considers getting a jaw lift and practices vigilant home remedies. Another, who at the age of 45 and after at least one Botox treatment, could no longer live with her aging eyelids. She decided on surgery.  “A series of four treatments spaced two weeks apart, with a day or two of recovery each, the fee starting at $3,500 for one shot, $1,200 per lighter session.”
      Page after boring page, I somehow felt I needed to finish what I’d started. I gave it my best effort, but gave up, incredulous that I had wasted so many minutes and brain cells. Not yet giving up on the entire magazine, however, I flipped pages. 
     I wish I were making this up, but only a few pages over I read, Want to know a Vogue secret? Obsessing about your age and your 'flaws' is never chic.”
     The brainiacs at Vogue apparently don’t proofread. They devote pages to obsessing about aging and flaws, while in the next breath deem the complete opposite view a “Vogue secret.” Their next gem is, “'Don’t-give-a-damn' is the most fashionable quality ever known.” I hate to break it to them, but girls who truly “don’t-give-a-damn” don’t spend $7,500 tightening their eyelids
     For a change of pace, I picked up Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicic, a man born without arms or legs. My brain quickly switched gears at Nick’s words. “We humans are a silly bunch. We spend half our time trying to fit in with the crowd and the other half trying to stand out from it. . . . Why can’t we be comfortable with ourselves, knowing that we are God’s creations, made to reflect His glory? . . .There has to be a better way to celebrate your individualism ... I’ve adopted an attitude that might work for you. I’ve decided that my beauty lies in my differences, in the fact that I’m not like everybody else . . . I may not stand tall in a crowd, but I definitely stand out.”  (pg 84)
     This is a guy with no limbs. He sees his difference as an ability that is opening doors. At twenty, he went to South Africa where he gave away most of his life savings--$20,000--to orphanages. He loves himself as he is, and encourages others to do the same.
     I have this magical thing called choice. I can decide to follow the advice of truth-tellers and I don’t have to listen to the misguided and selfish nonsense found in a magazine like Vogue. (In case you wanted to know the moral of the eyelid surgery, the author was “Elated. The droop is completely, utterly gone” and “I’m not as self-conscious.” Awesome. Tell that to Nick Vujicic.) 
     I have vowed to never again spend my resources on another waste-of-a-publication magazine. If I am tempted, I will instead put the six bucks into something worthwhile.
      Who knows? Maybe it will eventually be enough for that liposuction I’ve been wanting on my eyebrows.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

When I Turn Eighty

     My high school Home Ec. teacher used to say, "if you want to be a sweet little old lady someday, you have to be a sweet young lady now." Although I agree wholeheartedly, I fear I am lagging far behind.
      This weekend we're celebrating my mother's eightieth year of a well-lived life. It's an appropriate time for her children and former students to reflect on what we want to be like when we reach that age.
      My mother's road has not been an easy one. A child of the depression and a bride at sixteen, Mom had five children in the next eleven years. During that time, Dad injured his hand in an accident at the gypsum mine where he worked to supplement their farm income. My mother got it into her head to finish high school by correspondence and pursue her long-held dream of being a teacher. With a chuckle, she tells about taking her textbooks along to the hospital when she had me, the youngest, so she could study for exams.
      After graduating from teachers college, she taught in a one-room school at Falmouth, then at Amaranth High, where she eventually became the principal. By spending her summers in university, she ended up with a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts. Mom later devoted her skills to the students at Portage Christian Academy.
      With more than her share of heartbreaks and losses along the way, Mom not only survived but thrived, thanks to her faith and her can-do attitude. Like Daniel and his friends in the Old Testament, she has come through the fire without smelling of smoke.
      What about you? What do you want to be remembered for? What adjectives do you hope folks will use to describe you when you're eighty? And what one thing can you do, today, to make yourself more like that person you hope to be then?

Me & Mom
When I turn eighty, if I do
I hope I'll have learned a thing or two.
Tackling new things, big and small
Like swinging a club at a little ball.
Like cheering at a Bombers game
And dressing like a classy dame.
Like how to bake the best darn buns
And playing Scrabble just for fun.
To write a book that blesses others
To love with devotion that never smothers.
To daily pray for all my kids
And grandkids, too, and great-grandkids!
To never spread a nasty rumour
But always keep my sense of humour.
To know that hard roads lead to faith
To walk in mercy, love, and grace.
I hope I'm known as someone kind
Who helped to stretch another's mind.
Who's dabbled with a little art
Who's known for her gracious heart.
When I turn eighty, if I do
I hope I'll be a lot like you.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where Were YOU?

     Numerous websites have sprung up where you can answer the question, "Where were you on September 11, 2001?" I decided to compile my own mini-collection from Facebook friends. I got more than enough stories to fill two columns all by themselves. Two days later, people were still responding in great detail.
     Tracy said, "I took Jenna outside to wait for the bus for grade one and came back inside to find Josh miffed because Magic School Bus had been interrupted on every channel. Shaun was in Bosnia and all communications were shut down. I was very anxious to hear from him, needless to say...sad, sad day."
     Gayle wrote, "I was in my laundry room ironing when my friend phoned to ask if I'd heard the news yet (I hadn't). Had the sickest feeling and watched and listened all day. Resisting the temptation to run to school and gather my kids to me."
     Nathan said, "I was living in Surrey and woken up by my friend's phone call from Winnipeg. His first words were 'It is the end of the world.' Had no idea what he was talking about till I flicked on the TV."
     As for me (Terrie), I was driving to work with my 14-year old son beside me, radio on. When they announced a plane "accidentally" crashing into a New York skyscraper, I pictured a private two-seater, and when they announced a second plane, I assumed a media mistake and forgot about it. An hour or so later, our staff meeting was interrupted and the rest of the day was a write-off as we sat glued to the television. I was in charge of creative arts at Portage Alliance Church, and we immediately knew our plans for that Sunday were out the window. But how could we guess what people would need when we had no idea what might still be coming? I spent the next couple of days creating a Powerpoint show using Anne Murray's A Little Good News and photos I had to scan from newspapers. (Seems archaic now!)
     Two weeks after the attacks, I accompanied my hubby on a trucking trip through the States. Even the most cynical among us would have been hard-pressed to make that trip without a lump in his throat. From the moment we crossed the border until we turned around at Laredo, Texas, we saw American flags gallantly streaming from every home, vehicle, and billboard. "In God We Trust" and similar slogans appeared everywhere. I admired their loyalty, faith, and patriotism.
     A year later, Allan Jackson's song Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning? came out. Technically, the world did not stop turning. It has seen equally disastrous events, both the sheer evil kind and the natural kind, without coming to an end. But Jackson's point is, as my Facebook survey proved, we remember.
     We remember because it was a jolting reminder of our collective vulnerability and mortality. We can't assume we'll be here tomorrow, or that we'll have another opportunity to tell anybody how much we love them.
     A good reminder, even ten years later.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

How to Enjoy a Squirrely Performance

I was feeling rather sorry for myself, having missed both Rainbow Stage productions this summer. Then I realized I have a nightly performance going on right here, where I comfortably sit in my screened-in porch.
     First, there's Wayne the gray squirrel. Funny how a close-up view of Wayne reveals that were it not for his fluffy tail, he'd look just like a rat. Yet thanks to the tail, he's totally adorable. And nimble? He gallops along the fence or overhead wires at breakneck speed, flits between trees faster than you can say "dog," and occasionally stops to hang upside down just because he can. Showing me the proper way to eat a pine cone, he parks himself on the woodpile not eight feet in front of me and polishes the thing off, as quickly and untidily as a teenager with a cob of corn. Interesting thing about Wayne. One day you see him squished dead on the street and the next day, he's running along the fence again.
     Then there's Bonnie the Bunny. She shows up only on rare occasions, but she owns the neighbourhood with her certifiable cuteness. Her salad bar, otherwise known as my garden, is none the worse for her visits. She's a polite little thing, daintily nibbling only what she needs for the moment and moving on.
     Maury and Maureen, the pair of Mourning Doves, are a sweet couple who nest here and hang around just until their little ones are ready to take off. Don't tell them I said this, but it seems to me their heads are too small for their bodies. Then again, their Designer came up with millions of models, each beautiful in its own way, so who am I to judge? And the shimmering rainbow gray of their feathers would make the most fetching mourning dress ever! Their cooing is tremendously comforting, and I always miss them when they go.
     The stars of the show are our very own Chip 'n Dale. They are red squirrels and proud of it. They can chatter and scamper as fast as any chipmunk, maybe better. I assume they're still adolescents, but they are anything but awkward. We've seen them chase each other up and down a tree, circling around it so many times I get dizzy just watching. When that gets dull, they vault to the roof of the neighbour's garage where they roll together into a tight ball. They spiral down until just before they hit the edge, then leap back into a tree and start the whole circuit again. No worry about obesity in these kids.
     Who needs show tickets? I've got one in my own backyard.