Prov 17:22

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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Drop of Doom

     It was twelve years ago, but I still remember thinking, “I must be crazy. We’re going to leave our oldest son bereft of parents and siblings.”
     Our two younger teenagers, my husband, and I drove to the Red River Ex, where we waited in a long line-up of cars for an hour before we could park. Then we paid $23 for the privilege of just entering the noisy, crowded grounds. Then we forked over another $20 and stood in line for an hour, awaiting our turn at the “Drop of Doom.”
     I could hardly believe we were doing this. “Oh well, once in a lifetime...go for the is short...”
     They strap you into your seats, four abreast, then lift you 175 feet straight up and let you sit there for a  moment, feet dangling. The view would be outstanding if you didn’t need to focus so hard on not wetting your pants.
     Then it’s a free-fall drop until the brakes kick in, with about a third of the drop remaining.
     I would have to take the ride another ten times (which I won’t) before I could adequately describe how it feels. It happens so fast, yet you’re somehow suspended in timelessness, silence, and—for me at least—darkness, since I closed my eyes.
     My heart pounded, my hands shook, my knees quivered as I climbed off the ride and put my feet on solid ground again. But my goofy smile wouldn’t wipe off.
     What is it about us humans that we’ll put ourselves through all that—the wait, the expense, the risk—for a few seconds of rush? What odd creatures we are, hovering so near death, entrusting our lives to the unknown engineers who designed the machine— not to mention the questionably-clad carnies who assemble and disassemble it over and over.
     Why can we trust like that when we so often fail to trust an all-powerful, all-knowing God who made us and loves us beyond measure?
     Is it because we see the machine with our physical eyes, and we see people taking the ride and getting safely back to earth? Worked for them, it’ll work for me.
     When we learn to see with spiritual eyes, we don’t need to look far to see others around us taking the ride. People who have trusted God and not only survived, but thrived.
     This week, I read a blog entry by a woman who was in the Colorado theater with her two teenage daughters the night of the shooting. I encourage you to read her experience here.
     I’ve survived a few unnerving carnival rides in my life, including financial setbacks, health issues, a disabling accident in the family, and plenty of uncertainties.
     Maybe 53 years is too soon to say, but so far, God has proven himself someone who can be trusted, not only to catch me but to hold my hand on the ride.
     I’ll let you know if things change.
    Meanwhile, free-falling can prove freeing indeed.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Souper Dooper Adventure

     Relearning how to do a task you’ve been doing mindlessly for 35 years is a challenge, and this was not one I particularly wanted to tackle. Like my mother before me, I have always taken a certain amount of pride in how quickly I can throw a meal together. I thought Kraft Dinner was a food group and frozen pizza made perfectly acceptable Friday night fare. (Just so you understand the learning curve here.)
     But, determined to do my part for my wellness journey, I am learning to shop for and prepare food I’d barely heard of before. On Friday evening, I single-handedly cleaned Sobeys out of Kale (which I previously thought God created solely for decorating our salad bars) and Leeks (which don’t actually leak. Who knew?)
     On Saturday, I set out to create something called “Black Forest Cream of Mushroom Soup.” I’ve made plenty of homemade soups before, but never like this.
     First of all, you need to know that when it says “Preparation Time: 40 minutes,” it really means three hours. I guess they forgot to include the time it takes to juice five pounds of carrots to form the stock, the hours of chopping vegetables, the necessity of going online to watch a video about how to clean and cut a leek, the need for a clean t-shirt partway through, and the kitchen cleanup afterwards.
     Secondly, when it says “Serves five” it really means “serves five adult elephants.” You’ll need a big pot.
     Have you ever cleaned, sliced, and sautéed two pounds of fresh mushrooms at once? This soup also includes bushels of fresh spinach, carrots, onions, corn, celery, leeks, garlic, almond milk, canned beans, and assorted fresh herbs. For the next couple of hours, I cranked up the music and juiced, peeled, chopped, and blended like a madwoman. I was Iron Chef! Julia Child! That little rat from Ratatouille.
     Everything was going swimmingly, too. Until the big, shall we say, eruption.
     The instructions said to take raw cashews and puree them with almond milk. Then fill the rest of the blender with some of the hot soup mixture, puree it all together, and add it back into the soup pot. With my left hand on the blender’s lid, I hit the button with my right. My right hand, that is, not the right button. The wrong button, actually.
     That’s right.
     The high-powered force pushed the lid off, spewing the mixture onto the counter, the floor, the upholstered dining chair on the other side of the counter, the wall, the microwave, and me.
     Did I mention it was hot?
     It’s a good thing the puree smelled yummy, because my kitchen looked like an air sickness bag had exploded while the plane executed a loopty-loop.
     And yes, I said a bad word.
     But they tell us nothing bad ever happens to a writer – it’s all material. Lucky you.
     By this time I had so much invested in that soup, I’d have eaten it even if it tasted like dirt. It didn’t. Even my grandsons finished their bowls at supper that night. I froze several future meals and I learned you really can teach an old cook new tricks.
     But I think I’ll rename the recipe. Volcanic Veggie Vexation has a nice ring to it.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bits and Pieces of Canadiana

National Film Board of Canada Vignettes
     I recently rediscovered an old CBC video on You Tube that played daily after school when my kids were small. Based on Wade Hemsworth’s song The Log Driver's Waltz, a young girl who loves to dance and is ready to marry chooses a log driver over his more well-to-do, land-loving competition. Driving logs down the river has made him the best dancing partner to be found. This lighthearted, animated tale starts out with actual black and white footage of men standing atop logs as they float down the river. It then morphs into a cute and colourful cartoon. The tune is so catchy and fun, I used to scoop up whichever child was handiest (or lightest) and waltz around the living room.
     When I posted the video on Facebook, I tagged my three kids thinking it might trigger fond memories, and it did. What I hadn’t predicted was how many other friends, both local and from across Canada, would respond. It seems everybody remembers and loves that clip.
     There were many good ones, weren’t there? Remember The Cat Came Back, The Big Snit, and The Black Fly Song? And for you Habs fans, there’s Roch Carrier’s telling of The Hockey Sweater. They’re all there. If you’re looking for some nostalgic Canadiana, check out You Tube and enjoy!

     Okay, I know this is old news too, but I never thought I’d see the day.
Good old Tim Horton’s. Good old CANADIAN Tim Horton’s. Good old, plain cup of affordable coffee Tim Horton’s. Has caved. Caved to the pressure of those fancy shmancy coffee stores with their macho-grande-latte-whipper-snapper-giganto-humungo-maximus-gluteus names for their cup sizes. The old small is now medium; no wait, it’s the other way around. Oh, who can remember? I ordered a medium and got a large. Now I have to remember to ask for a small. It’s insane, I tell you.
     But we all go along with it, like sheep to the slaughter.

Vacation Bible School
     My fondest summertime childhood memory, at least before I was old enough to go to camp, was the week of Vacation Bible School. Anybody besides me remember happily going off with Klik sandwiches in your lunchbox to hear Bible stories like Abraham and Isaac?  Doing the lessons in your own little book and singing songs like Deep and Wide? Playing games like Red Rover and Prisoner’s Base? Earning points for memorizing scripture verses, bringing a friend, or winning at Sword Drill? Crafting wonderments from plaster of Paris, old Christmas cards, and sparkle? And the highlight of the day, just before home time: listening wide-eyed to the continuing flannel graph missionary story that ended on a cliff hanger every day?
     I consider it God’s outrageous grace that brought people like Don and Donna Lee to my little hometown of Amaranth to bring VBS and so much more to my childhood. If you are, or ever have been, a VBS leader, you are my hero. Thank you for valuing the spiritual nurture of children. You made a difference.
     At least to this kid.