Friday, December 5, 2008

Peace on Earth is Possible

Peace on Earth - Can we find time for the sacred in the Christmas mayhem?

Each Christmas season I think I'll start early and be way ahead of the last-minute rush. My mom used to be so good at weaving in sacred traditions with lots of Christmas magic and even though she had a pile of rambunctious kids, grandkids, and out-of-town and in-town relatives all about, things never seemed hectic. Yet, it seems that each year, no matter how much I tell myself that I will simplify things, I find myself with a giant to-do list and just running around like a maniac.

So this year, prompted by an article I read in the World Vision newsletter, I asked myself , "Is what I'm doing drawing me closer or away from God?" If it doesn't draw me closer.. it's gonna be OFF my list. So, here's my list of ONs and OFFs to help bring about a little Peace On Earth. (We saw this mural while dashing about in New York City.)
OFF is trying to buy everyone just the perfect gift. That's a tough one for me 'cause I like people to know that I've been thinking of them and their interests and have really put some effort into getting them just the right thing. But this season isn't about things, is it? So, be forewarned that you're likely to receive a donation in-kind this year. But please don't burst my bubble about all those years when I did get you the "perfect" thing.

Christmas baking is OFF although i did just make killer gingerbread cookies. Catherine loaned me the moose cookie cutter. Subliminal message: You don't remember that I have that Catherine. ..but that's it! Well, I might make the sweet and spicy pecans by special request.
ON is anything that furthers social justice " ... act justly ... love mercy, and walk humbly with God" This may mean putting in an extra hour or two at Ten Thousand Villages. Knowing that the artisans rely on us for their livelihood inspires my soul. It doesn't hurt that I have retail in my blood and the bribe from the ass't manager sealed the deal.
OFF is too much time on the computer (I broke my '08 New Years Resoution about 5 days after I started it) and a certain networking program HAS been a great way to connect with family and friends. But stay strong, girl! Can you see the time on the microwave??

still ON is sending Christmas cards cause I love to receive them, especially the ones with the what-we've-been-up-to newsletters. I do!
really ON is visits with cherished family and friends cause Love is what it's all about.

ON is Inn from the Cold and reserving quality time with the hubby. ON is going to Y cause I always feel rejuvenated there. ... I think that's the feeling in my hamstring. Rejuvenation. Yeah. That's it. ON is Jazzercise because dancing is definitely spiritual!

Hm...haven't cut out much have I?? Oh well. It wouldn't be Christmas without a little mania, right? Here's hoping that your mania is joyful, sacred and very magical, and "may God jump-start our souls with renewed hope and gratitude." Peace on Earth is indeed possible.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving is a day to intentionally reflect on our many, many blessings. So here's a little poem, I use the term loosely about a few of the many people who bless our lives everyday.

We thank God for these three guys, out playing hard,

and these two wild nephews out in the yard.

But wait, who is this guy? Could it be my middle brother?
and this beautiful man is my significant other.
Well, looky here it's Kelsey with his aunt, my niece, Kris,
and sweet G and Shelagh who is just like a Sis.

But wait, these two friends are Hungarian and Czech
and these newlyweds drink red wine on our deck.

Can't forget loco Susan, mi otra hermana

or another brother, Marko, who plays the piana (poetic license)
And then five boys who are playing by the water,

and two beautiful women who are lovable daughters.
Oh look what I found - a cold hiking sister ...

and C's brother and wife with their running shoe blisters ...

Course then there's these buds who are just saying "Cheese!" ...
and a Mum and Dad who are resting with ease ... And God bless you all for being in our lives. This list is by no means exhaustive of the wonderful people who truly put grace in our lives and put up with our shenanigans. Hope you had a safe, and happy Thanksgiving (or Thursday is you're Canadian.) We wish you peace, joy, laughter and love.
The End.

P.S. Tonight, we are all resting easier because we've just learned that Canadian Mum and Dad's traveling daughter and 'adoptee", Hillary, who was scarily stranded when the Bangkok airport was taken over, will be getting safely out of Thailand and winging her way back home shortly. God bless you and Claudia on your journey, HRH HPH! The mac -n cheese awaits!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sleepless in Seattle

[ I'll get to the Sleepless part in a bit] Here we are in Seattle.. the quintessential walking town and I was not going to let my once-again sprained ankle keep me in. So, I laced up my high-top hiking boots, donned my trusty rainjacket and Gorton's Fisherman rainhat, and headed out into the mist. "Wake up Mr. Tree! Do you know where the closest Starbucks is?"

"Yes, you'll find one on every corner but watch out for street hazards, brittle bone girl!"

It's not Starbucks, yet, but I believe I've found the Sherwin Williams test paint house.

And lit a candle for my mom at St. Ann's.
Admired the architecture of the City Dewey Decimal Depository.

Still no Starbucks, but I found the State Car.. the Subaru Forester..the car of intelligent women (and dogs).

And, the State drink... anything at Starbucks. I used to be a devotee of the Chai Latte, until the guy in front of me in line, the kid with the grey toque, asked for his chai latte with Mocha...aha! Maybe, that's the ticket! But why did they ever do away with that tiny little cup o' killer, 99.97% chocolate lover's org...... but I digress.. I'll have to settle for the peppermint mocha with soy and extra moch for Mochy. I can try something else on the next corner or the other Seattle staple, Cafe Lladro. But woman does not live by Starbucks alone... in Seattle it's seafood. Off to Flying Fish!

Even though this guy was in the window, we went in anyway, cause we heard there were oysters!

What could make us happier than oysters on the half shell? It's Oyster Happy Hour! .50each!

But wait.... there's MORE oysters to be had down the day..

whoaaaa...look at the selection.. but we know which ones we want! Totten Virginica. East Coast oysters grown in the cold waters of the West Coast...yummm!
But we're happiest here cause we finally met up with my sweet, charming, intelligent, I'd pick- her-even- if- she- weren't family, Niece, Kate, and her boyfriend Dennis who could be described with the same adjectives.

Before we head back across the border, we must visit Trader Joe's! Out of our way, lady! To stock up on our quota of essentials.. a little this.. a little THAT! top-secret ingredient in Charlie's best-ever, make-ya-slap-yer-mama mac -n cheese! Come see for yourself!

Oops.. and one more of these...

But what about the Sleepless part? "Somebody" in my family was hackin' up a lung the whole time and I think the entire B&B is probably taking home an unwanted souvenir too. Otherwise, a successful Seattle sojourn.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Females in Fernie

My partner in crime, Lee, and I took to the highways of Alberta on a Girls' Getaway road trip to her friend's place in Fernie, British Columbia. Some pretty varied scenery as we left the foothills of the Rockies to travel along the alluvial plains and then back into the Rockies in B.C. Lee loved seeing all the wind turbines happily churning away out there. Wouldn't Don Quixote be perplexed?

This is Frank's Slide, taken by me from the car as Lee's banana boat, I mean car, zipped by. In 1903 an entire Canadian Pacific Railway/ coal mining town was engulfed in a giant rockslide/avalanche. It's like an unexcavated Pompeii. Nearby is Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, so you can see that Southern Alberta has some wild stuff happening. (To protect the innocent, no photo of the 6 of us descending on the Frank's Slide liquor store will be included.)
This is where the Females in Fernie weekend began, along the Elk River outside beautiful downtown Fernie British Columbia. Fernie is a unique and colorful town with a rich mining heritage. Fernie, now a world-class ski destination, was named after prospector, William Fernie. Reputedly, Fernie went back on his promise to marry the local Chief's daughter, so the Chief placed an Indian Curse on the town which was only lifted many years later after the smoking of a peace pipe. Fernie also had a reputation as The Whiskey Gap during Prohibition in the '20s and I believe the girls we are traveling with are doing their best to revive that rep. We're pretty colorful and unique ourselves.

This is the view outside the condo - a little misty along the Elk River. Weather is no concern though as Lee and I brought enough provisions for ourselves and perhaps a few elk just in case we have to hunker down in a snow storm.

But look! No snow up on the mountains yet, so we did what any reasonable people would do ... SHOP! Here are the co-eds-on-the-go in downtown. Me? I was sooo restrained..just a little something for my sister in New Zealand and some purely functional items from a really cool local potter and her cat, Princess Lilly.

And showing more self-control here, we ordered just a smidge of whipped cream on top of that low fat, part-skim, skinny, double foam la la , incredibly decadent mocha frappuccino. Then we joined up with the rest of the shopping divas who looked completely famished from hauling their bags over the mountainous, er hilly? well, completely flat but nonetheless arduous, terrain.

Here the hungry hikers found their way to a fusion cafe where what to our wondering eyes should appear but a beer named Thirsty Beaver! Thirsty Beaver? Why, YES..thanks for asking.

After slaking thirst and hunger, the now not-so-thirsty retreated back to the condo to be sure that our Frank's Slide adult beverage purchases didn't go to waste.

But look who got into the liquor cabinet while we were gone? Hillary's Baba Noir, who snuck into my overnight bag and who has been naughtily drinking his namesake, Black Sheep Ale! BaaBaa... slow down with that big bottle! Oh dear! BaBa has not heard of "everything in moderation." See? This is what happens to frat boys who party too hard, BaBa ... there's always a consequence to be paid. We shall not divulge what happened to any of the others nearby.
The condo appears so quiet from the outside. Don't worry girls, What happens in Fernie...stays in Fernie. (C &'ll have to come up!!)