Prov 17:22

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

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Rat Tale

     Some things are only funny 25 years later.
     It's been at least that long since we lived in a trailer court that included a concrete garbage corral. We could toss our trash in there and the landlord would come along and burn it when it got full. Really full.
     One day, unannounced to the tenants, it all got bulldozed and replaced with a dumpster. Which would have been great, except for the rats who now sought a new home.
     They picked our place.
     I was washing dishes when through the window I saw the first of the little darlings on our doorstep. He helped himself to some dog food and zipped back below. Evidently our puppy was big enough to keep the neighbourhood cats away while not actually intimidating the rodents. It was rat heaven!
OK, I admit this one's kinda cute.
     We moved the dog food inside.
     We set out traps.
     We set out poison.
     We tried not to think about it.
     That night we were just about to fall asleep when we heard what sounded like small children in steel-toed boots galloping through our duct work. Seriously. Not a lot of sleep that night. I lay there thinking of our dating days and how I'd dreamed of the idyllic life we would have together. Oddly, rats had not entered the picture even once.
     The next day we attended the wedding of some friends. It was lovely to get away from our rodentia problems awhile and concentrate on flowers, candlelight, and romance. Alas, too soon the festivities were over and it was time to return to our infestation. On the drive home, the bride and groom passed us, smiling and waving as they headed down the highway toward their happily ever after.
     I cried.
     That night, my redneck hubby determined to get himself a rat. We closed all the heat registers tight except for one, which we carefully removed. Hubby braced a piece of plywood over the opening to create an inviting tunnel and placed some bait there. He announced that dinner was now being served on the upper deck, and set up camp under the kitchen table with his .22, waiting for Mr. Rat to come up for vittles. I went to bed.
     I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say we learned bird shot will create little dents in your wall without actually making holes. But Hubby got his rat that night and by the fragrance emerging from behind a wall a few days later, we knew we got at least one more with the poison. Gave a whole new meaning to "I smell a rat." The odour eventually dissipated and we risked having company again.
     What's the point of my tale? Only this. While there are many things in life that will never be funny no matter what, there are a great deal of things that will. Sure, they might make your skin crawl. It might take years. But you'll chuckle, one day.
     What's happening in your life right now that some day you'll be able to look back at and laugh? And if that's truly the case...why not today?

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Heart-to-Heart with My Alter Ego

     I'm having a hoot portraying Sugar Lee Thompkins in the Prairie Players' production of The Hallelujah Girls, but only a few people know how it almost didn't happen. Back in June when auditions were held, I was still undergoing tests for my crazy lung ailments and was half convinced I'd be dead by now. Suddenly, "overdoing it" consisted of merely staying up all day.
     "Surely you'll be better by fall," my husband encouraged me.
     So on the way to auditions, I prayed "God, if I'm not going to have the energy for this, please don't let me get a part."
     I got a part.
     Then summer continued and so did my condition. Although it won't kill me, it has me sleeping ten out of every 24 hours. No way could I put in a three-hour rehearsal at the end of a work day!
     "Pull out now, while there's time to replace you," I told myself daily but never followed through.
     Then the rehearsal schedule came out. With no knowledge of either my health issues or my work schedule, our director had set the rehearsals for the days I don't work. I could take naps in the afternoons! Hallelujah!
     And so I got acquainted with Sugar Lee. Our conversation, had there actually been one, might have gone a little like this:

TT: So. Sugar Lee, it appears you and I share a chronic condition. Any idea what caused yours?
SL: Nasty spell of pneumonia in '81. Yours?
TT: My decade as a fire breather with the Cirque du Soleil.
SL: No way! Are you pulling my leg?
TT: Yes, I am. No Cirque. No pneumonia. Still a mystery.
SL: Bummer.
TT: Yep. But I'm taking a week of holidays so I can sleep during the day and keep up with you each evening.
SL: Well, it's like I tell my friends. You are the heroine in the story of your life. You can stand up for yourself and live your dream!
TT: I disagree, Sugar Lee. Being your own hero is asking for an empty life. You can live your dreams, but they are pretty small in the grand scheme of things.
SL: Sweetheart, sounds like you need an ego massage. You are woman, hear you roar.
TT: Real hope is not based on emotional quick-fixes. We can’t save ourselves, Sugar Lee. We need a Savior.
SL: See, it's hangin' onto those old beliefs that keeps you from finding your happiness.
TT: Sometimes stuff happens that we just can't control. Life is strewn with unpredictability and hardship. Multitudes have died seeing their hopes and promises left unfulfilled, but that is what defines faith.
SL: Honey, this is the very part of your life that needs fixin.'
TT: Sometimes the reason God doesn't grant us our dreams is because he has something better in mind.
SL: Like a hunky cowboy in tight blue jeans?
TT: That's another thing. Please don't think the love of your life is the answer to all your prayers, no matter how sexy his legs might be.
SL: Are you done? 'Cuz my next gig is on another stage in a different community in a healthier actor's body.
TT: Yes, I've said my bit.
SL: Well, hallelujah.
TT: It's been good knowing you, Sugar Lee.
SL: Back atcha. Now seriously...get yourself some help. And no, you can't keep my pink shoes.

L to R: Rosa Albanese Rawlings, Christopher Kitchen, Me, Nita Wiebe, Connie Krawec, Kevin Hamm, Laurel Giesbrecht, Lisa Marie Tessier. (Kevin plays Bobby Dwayne, Sugar Lee's love/hate interest. What a good sport!)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Glorious and Free

     Surprisingly, not everyone grants me the attention I so clearly deserve. Last week I met my third grandson, Rorin Bennett Todd. He was 48 hours old and slept through the entire meeting. I nuzzled him, talked to him, counted his fingers and toes, rubbed his back, kissed his velvety cheeks, and stroked his brown hair. He made only tiny puppy squeaks, but I know he was saying "I love you too, Grandma, and when I get big I'm gonna read your column every week."
     The blessing of three healthy children and now three healthy grandchildren is one I hope I never, ever take for granted. When I consider the millions of miracles that must go right (and how often they do!) in order for a child to be formed and delivered without complications, it quiets my heart in awe. God has been kind to us.
     With all these boys in the family, my perspective on Remembrance Day has changed. As a kid, I recall assembling in the Amaranth Elementary School's hallway. It meant listening to talk of wars fought by old men, wearing a poppy on an annoyingly wayward stick pin, singing Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past, reciting John McCrae's In Flanders Field, and suffering through that interminable minute of silence. Then we got the rest of the day off, and if we were lucky there was snow to play in.
     Not until I was a mother myself did it hit me. It was not old men who went off to war.
     One Sunday near November 11, I looked around our church at all the guys in the conscription age range, including my own sons. Why, they were just kids! I imagined this was 1940 and these guys were all going off to fight. I tried to wrap my head around what that would mean for our church, for our town, for my family. Tried to fathom the slow or nonexistent methods of communication available once they were gone. And, worst of all, wondering which ones would not make it back.
     Then our daughter joined the Canadian Forces for a brief stint in high school, spending a summer in training at Wainwright, followed by a short time in our Reserve Force. We were proud of her, but no one was more relieved than I when she decided militia life was not for her. While she was there, I simply refused to consider what it would mean if another country declared war on Canada.
     And today, while other grandmothers in other parts of the world welcome little ones into war-torn environments, I have lived my entire life so sheltered, so naive. So free. I will not pretend I understand it; I will only be humbly and deeply grateful.
     I cannot assume this privileged life will be guaranteed for Rorin and his brothers. But for them, and for each child on our planet, I offer this ancient Hebrew prayer this Remembrance Day:
     May God bless you and keep you. May God make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May God lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

If I Had an Extra Hour...

"A man with a watch always knows what time it is, but a man with two watches is never sure." I don't know who first said that, but I believe it. I can leave home in plenty of time according to the white clock on my kitchen wall, then get into the car and realize I don't have as much time as I thought according to the dashboard clock, and then walk into the office even later than I feared according to the clock there. Good grief! I suppose this also explains why, at the end of the day, I seem to arrive home almost before I left the office. Time is just weird that way.
     And the whole switch-over from Daylight Savings to Standard Time doesn't really help. Some brainiac decided that one day a year our planet could take 25 hours to rotate, as long as it also takes a day a year to do so in only 23. Weird.
     At least this month, it's the "good" switch, when we get an extra hour. What will you do with yours?
     You could be like the majority of us and simply get an extra hour of sleep, always a good thing. But if you're not particularly sleep deprived, you might want to do something more productive than mindlessly watching another 60 minutes of TV or web surfing. Be pro-active! Think of the hour as a gift and do something you can actually look back on and say "Here's what I did with my hour."
     Below are a few ideas to get you rolling. You should be able to do any of these in an hour or less. Let me know how you did.
  1. Play a round or two of Scrabble.
  2. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  3. Bundle up and lie on your back to look at the stars.
  4. Clean out your closet.
  5. Go online and sponsor a child through Compassion Canada or World Vision.
  6. Go for a nature walk in the park and collect a few acorns and pine cones for a seasonal centerpiece.
  7. Tighten any loose buttons on your winter coats and jackets.
  8. Start on your family Christmas newsletter.
  9. Have a living room dance marathon.
  10. Take a bubble bath.
  11. Pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.
  12. Re-aquaint yourself with the names of the planets in our solar system, in order.
  13. Go for a run or work out.
  14. Order prints of your favorite photos.
  15. Write your parents a letter.
  16. Find a quote or a Bible verse you can live by. Memorize it.
  17. Give your dog a bath.
  18. Clean out your fridge.
  19. Learn how to say “I love you” in five different languages.
  20. Go ice skating.
  21. Get a haircut.
  22. Re-read your favorite childhood book (bonus points if you have a kid to read it to).
  23. Contemplate time and eternity.
  24. Make a Christmas gift for someone.
  25. Sort through your clothes and pack a bag for MCC.
  26. Sort through your movies and pack a bag for MCC.
  27. Make breakfast for someone you love.
  28. Sort through your plastic containers and recycle any unmatched tops and bottoms.
  29. Pray.
  30. Delete numbers 1-28 and just do #29. The one who keeps our planet in orbit loves to hear from you. It will do your heart good, too!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Beautiful Gift from a Beautiful Lady

On Monday, I was blatantly coveting my friend Nita's fall arrangement pictured on Facebook. "Make me one," I said, jokingly. To which she instead supplied her recipe:

Fill one container with sand. Put a bunch of red willow standing straight up in the middle. Tie it around the top with a thingy like a ribbon or something. surround that with rose branches. Bandage your hands and arms. Put a bunch of pine branches around that, more horizontally. sprinkle branches with red berries of some sort. If you want, add a diagonal line of another straightish thing like grass. Add some water. Do not bake. Freeze.

While I appreciate the detailed instructions, they were no more helpful than if Nita's talented son Colson were to tell me it was easy to play a fiddle by "simply drawing the bow across the strings like this;" or her daughter Kyla said "you can draw this picture, too, all you have to do is this and this;" or if her husband Stan told me I, too, could take great photos just by doing thus and such. Right.

(This is the artsiest family in the history of the world. They think it's normal.)

ANYWAY... so that evening, I'm handing out Halloween treats at my front door and on one such trip, what should appear on my step but a gorgeous Fall arrangement suspiciously like Nita's. She was no where to be seen, however.

I dashed off to play rehearsal and found her there. Turns out she hauled all the stuff to town and assembled the arrangement IN MY NEIGHBOUR'S DRIVEWAY! In the dark. Then recruited some passers-by to help her drag the lovely thing over to my place. No tricks. Just a big treat.

Thank you, my friend. I love it.