Prov 17:22

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

Friday, October 28, 2011

Three Things I'm Afraid Of

Never been a fan of Halloween. I figure there's enough genuine wickedness in the world without having our children pretend to be witches, vampires, or werewolves, even for a night. Nor have I understood the thrill of being terrorized out of my wits by horror movies or books like Stephen King's. And you can ask my hubby why it's just not worth the fun of startling me.
     But neither am I one of those who thumps folks over the head with the evils of Halloween. I refuse to hide in the basement on October 31, lights off and doors locked. I give out treats to be a good neighbour and because it's a handy excuse to have chocolate in the house. (Although last year, I finally got smart and bought the kind of candy that doesn't tempt me. Much.)
     I'll tell you what does frighten me, though, and it's not spiders, snakes, death, or public speaking. Here are three things I find truly scary:
     1. When adults teach children the theory of evolution as fact. If you've read my column much, you already know where I stand on the idea of our having a Master Designer. For my first bit of evidence, I present to you The Ear. Assuming all of life evolved from a single-cell amoeba, I'd like to know why, at some given point along our evolutionary climb, the ear started to develop. For what reason? With no knowledge of sound, how did we "know" to evolve a means to hear? And closer to home, why do creatures much farther behind on the ladder have the ability to grow new limbs while humans do not? Who decided to discard this as a useless feature? I guess I just don't have the kind of faith required to believe in evolution.
     2. I fear how far behind I am technology-wise. Sure, I can use a computer for writing and emailing and Facebook. But all the little hand-held gadgets everybody else seems to be carrying around make me feel like a dinosaur. I don't even own a cell phone. I'm tempted to keep a calculator in my pocket so I can whip it out and pretend to check messages every now and then, just to look hip. When they dim the lights in church, you can see folks' faces all aglow, not from the joy of the Lord but from the reflection of their electronic whatever. Another year or two, and I will have to abandon all hope of ever catching up. This scares me.
     3. When I hear myself and my friends discussing our various ailments, medications, and doctor visits ad nauseum. I used to vow I'd never become one of those people. Now I find myself hammering out long emails to my sister with all the details, and devouring her replies. I get it now. But it's not the ailments that trouble me so much, it's their all-consuming, attention-grabbing nature. It's what they reveal about my own self-centredness versus the person I hoped I was. Scary.
     No wonder almost every book in the Bible includes at least one "fear not." There is much to fear!
     And it ain't Halloween.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Life as a Hallelujah Girl

Two evenings a week since early September, I have been donning the persona of a sweet but feisty southern belle named Sugar Lee Thompkins. Although she and I look a lot alike, Sugar Lee has a more colourful past, a lot more courage when it comes to taking business risks, and a keener interest in helping her friends through their respective crises. I could learn a few things from her, and I hope I do.
     Lest you think this columnist has finally fallen off the deep end, I should probably explain that Sugar Lee and her friends, Carlene (Rosa Albanese Rawlings), Nita (Laurel Giesbrecht), Mavis (Connie Krawec), and Crystal (Nita Wiebe) reside in Eden Falls, Georgia and are becoming known as The Halleluiah Girls, also the name of a play coming to the William Glesby Centre November 16-19, courtesy of The Prairie Players.
     If you enjoyed The Dixie Swim Club in 2009, you won't want to miss this play by the same playwrights, Jones, Hope, and Wooten. As these women attempt to transform an old abandoned church into a top-notch day spa, hilarious hurdles pop up everywhere. You will love hating their nemesis, Bunny Sutherland (Lisa Marie Tessier), hoot with the unannounced arrival of a long lost love, Bobby Dwayne Dillahunt (Kevin Hamm), and howl at the bravado of mama's boy Porter Padgett (Chris Kitchen).
     This play has something for everyone: mid-life epiphanies, music, romance, explosions, rejection, revenge, heartache, an ego massage, wild costumes, and side-splitting comedy. You'll get to be part of a year in the life of these high-spirited women as they help one another fix their lives while there's still time.
     Terry Tully, a veteran member of the company, is the capable director of this piece. I asked him what makes this the best cast he has ever had the privilege of working with, bar none. A leading question, you say? Tully, who admits he once went a full two minutes without making a movie reference, handled it with tact:
"A famous director, Harold Clurman, was once asked what made him such a good director. He replied that 'With a good script and a good cast, you too can be a good director.'  I know that this is one of those times when I will come out looking good. We have a great script and a dream cast. This will be a great play."
If you want to see the play only, you can do so for just $13 but you must go on Wednesday night. If you want to enjoy a fabulous chicken and ribs dinner with your entertainment, you can go Thursday, Friday, or Saturday for $40 a ticket.
     Now a word of caution. Previous years, here is what has happened. The dinner theatre tickets all sell out in advance. On opening night, folks come to see the play (without the dinner) and start talking it up around town. Others hear them and want to see it too, but guess what? The remaining nights are already sold out! Don't let this happen to you. Decide which night you're going, and get your ticket now at the Glesby Centre, or call them at 239-4848.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Strange Doin's are a-Brewin'

Beware the Ides of October. Strange things happen this time of year. At least, to me.

In the Spotlight
     We have a motion-sensor light at the back door of our garage. Neither hubby nor I saw that thing come on once all summer. In fact, if we thought about it all, we assumed it was turned off or burned out.
     Until the first night of frost. I had picked our tomatoes and brought them inside earlier in the day. It wasn't until I was ready for bed that it dawned on me: I had forgotten about one plant because it was in its own pot, separate from the garden. I was already in my ratty old bathrobe, but determined to save those last two or three tomatoes. You know where this is going.
     I grabbed a flashlight, slipped my feet into some flip flops, and headed stealthfully out the patio doors. Wouldn't you know it, the motion-sensor light came on. Hello, neighbours!

Not Exactly Martha Stewart
     I almost always keep a frozen pizza on hand for emergencies. I won't bore you with what constitutes an emergency or how often they occur, but here's what happened last time I pulled one out. Now, I don't always buy the same brand but whatever looks like the best deal of the shopping day. Not all brands are packaged alike - some come with a cardboard circle on which the pizza sits until it's time for the oven. Some don't. Recently, I'd been purchasing the sans-cardboard kind, so I popped the pizza into the oven and set the timer.  You know where this is going.
     When the pizza was ready, I couldn't figure out why it was so difficult to slice. Man, oh man, that thing was tough! Finally picking it up enough to look underneath, I discovered a cardboard circle now fully fused to the pizza crust after having been in the oven for 25 minutes.
     Hubby and I scraped it off as best we could and ate it anyway. Not bad, actually.

     Late one Friday afternoon, the power went out at work. No computers, no fax machines, no lights. Just a bunch of workers with nothing better to do than gawk out the window at the police officer trying to direct traffic at our busy corner. And a boss smart enough and kind enough to tell us to go on home and call it a day.
     I pulled into my driveway and pressed the button on my garage door opener. Normally, it works if you barely touch it so I was surprised when the door stayed down. I pressed the button again. Nothing. Surely if the battery were dying, I could squeeze one last use out of the remote by mashing the button good and hard. This resulted in a broken garage door opener, while the garage door still refused to go up. You know where this is going.
     I let myself in another way and soon discovered the power was out at my house as well.

Since none of this could possibly have anything to do with my being scatterbrained, inattentive or just plain deficient, I gotta chalk it up to the freaky time of year. Beware!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How to be Thankful (even when you don't feel like it)

It sounds cliché, but grateful people are happy people. Yet gratitude requires a daily choice, doesn't it? It's so much easier to see what we don't have than to consider all we have. So today I'm giving five tips to help you win the battle.
     #1. Here's a fun exercise you can do online. Log on to and key in your annual income to see where you fall in the world's richest ranking. I was in the top 12 percent. Look at the line-up of people to see where you show up on the scale. Sobering, isn't it? And something to be thankful for.
     #2. Choose someone who has been a positive influence in your life and tell them so. Not good with words? That's why God invented Hallmark. There's sure to be a card on a store shelf that says it perfectly for you, if you take the time to look. Or take your person to lunch, a game, or a movie. Paint them a picture. Use your imagination, but find a way to express your gratitude.
     #3.Pick the thing that's bugging you most right now. Frustrations at work? With a family member? Your health? Now answer two questions: in what ways could this be much worse? What can I learn from this difficulty? Then be thankful that it is not worse, and be grateful for the opportunity to learn something from it.
     #4. Ask yourself: who is doing something good for someone I love? A nurse at the manor? Your child's teacher, youth pastor, or coach? The neighbour collecting for Heart and Stroke Foundation? Tell that person "thank you" for what they're doing to benefit your loved one. It will mean more than you can imagine.
     #5. Write down 99 things you're grateful for today. Think of it as your own little "Book of Awesome." Here are mine, in no particular order: Coffee with hazelnut creamer. Hot showers. Coconut-scented bath products. Toothpaste. Floss. My computer. This blog. Sunshine. Warm slippers. Toast. Canada. Chocolate. Sight. Literacy. Music. Roast beef. Fresh tomatoes. Prayer. Eye glasses. Cork boards. Kleenex. A garage. A garage door opener. Furnaces. Washing machines. The Bible. Family. Blue jeans. Curbside garbage and recycling pick-up. Crescent Lake. Candles. Wayne the Squirrel. Pickles. House plants that don't die. Doctors who call me. Cameras. Indoor plumbing. My job. Baby animals. Ball point pens. Friends. My piano. My pillow. The flip side of my pillow. An email from my daughter. Cinnamon-Apple tea. Flannel sheets. Grocery stores. Inter-generational dancing. The word "shenanigan." Tweezers. Duct tape. Balki and Larry's dance of joy. Hair dye. That little kid on the internet who conducts orchestras. Electric blankets. Hugs. Dishwashers. People who snort when they laugh. Skin. Q-tips. Fuzzy socks. The laughter of children. Laminate flooring. Pretty scarves. Good teeth. Daisies. My co-workers. The delete key. Free parking. Gravity. Coupons. Peaches. My church. Birthdays. Thrift shops. Shingles. Live theatre. My car. Rocking chairs. Free draws. Sleep. Police officers. Tylenol. Mountains. Smiles. Tears. My satin blouse. Distance education. Brakes. Breaks. Cookbooks. Storage space. Toilet brushes. Paved streets. Electric lights. Toys. Self-sticking envelopes. God's unstoppable love.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Case of the Mysterious Shrinking Closet

When our son, Nathanael, was two years old in 1983 we took a cute photo of him peeking out of a closet in my mother's house in Portage la Prairie. Just before Mom sold the house in 1996, we decided to take another picture of this boy, now 15 years old and a whopping six-foot-four, looking out of the same closet.
     Earlier this year, my sister and her husband purchased the house from the folks who had bought it from Mom 15 years before. It was the perfect place to hold a family gathering to celebrate Mom's 80th birthday in September. Of course, I had to get a shot of Nathanael, now 30 and a parent himself, peeking out of the same closet! He's a good sport.