Monday, December 31, 2012

Teetering on 2013

It's minutes away until 2013, waiting in the wings, will make its grandiose entrance. But not before I see 2012 to the door and give it a proper send off. I am after all, a gracious host.

2012, you were good to me, and I am a little sad to see you go. You took me on travelling adventures to the other side of Canada, and to the other side the world. I climbed the Great Wall of China, and strolled the courtyards of the Forbidden Palace with my beloved.

You served up life milestones of epic proportion. I sat by the bedside of a grand old lady as she took her last breath. I watched my daughter walk a path in a forest cathedral to wed her husband, and danced with the tribe in celebration. I shared a summer of bliss with my hubby at our cottage retreat, and witnessed a pair golden eagles soar above our dock.  I met our new neighbours who bought the vacant lot adjacent to ours. We said a sad farewell to hubby's ailing grandmother. I helped nurture our beloved Doris in her time of transition. And through it all, you provided space and opportunity for our families to gather - in joy, grief, and for comfort.

And today, on this final day of 2012, we squeezed in as much precious joy as we could: we strolled our waterfront inhaling the crystalline beauty of the frozen shoreline, feasting our eyes on the sparkles and bobbles of soon-to-be retired Christmas ornaments. We filled our kitchen with delicious aromas of  prime rib and sweet potatoes and apples roasting in the oven. We shared our final meal of the year with my dad and his wife, Mama T, and our beloved Doris. We raised our glassed and toasted the year that was, and the year that will be.

All in all, it's been a good one, and for that I am eternally grateful.  S'long 2012 -- I will never forget you.

And welcome 2013... can't wait to see what  you have in store for us all. I wish you all a very happy new year filled with blessings and adventure.

Some scenes from our stroll today as we teetered on 2013.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Seasonal Social Cocktail

Christmas has been a swirling social cocktail of family dinners, visits, phone calls and more family get-togethers. Hubby calculated that we had "plans" on 8 of our 11 days we booked off as vacation. And he's right -- our house has been bubbling with activity (and dogs), delicious cooking aromas filling the air and the vacuum cleaner being tested to its limits. I love it!

Let's face it -- it takes alot of planning, effort and energy to create Christmas magic. But I can't think of an investment that has a greater pay off; when the tree comes down and the decorations are packed and stored for another year, the memories of the beaming faces of my girls and the laughter in the walls will live on for endless years to come.

At dinner we like to toast all who are at the table, those who are missing, and those no longer with us. If nothing else, it is a reminder that at the end of the day, it is really only the presence of family that matters. And lucky us -- we have lots!

Tonight we celebrated my mom-in-law's (MIH) birthday - every birthday deserves to be celebrated -- especially that of a person who makes it her life's work to bring delight and love into everyone's life. Tomorrow has more cooking in the cards for the 30+ family members from Hubby's side who will fill our home. Ham, lasagna, and lots of German humour are on the menu, and I am getting stuffed just thinking about it.

So much abundance. So many family. So much love. So much to be grateful for... and I am.

I hope your holiday season was memorable.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Scenes from a Wintry Wedding

Just when it was looking like we were destined for a green Christmas, and we had resigned ourselves to such a fate -- we were offered a brief but perfect respite. We drove up north to our cousin's rustic wedding being held at a ranch. We braved rain, sleet, snow and icy roads to get there, but it was worth every gasp and hair raising close call. 

We donned our dress-up duds and drove right into a postcard. Oversized snowflakes drifted lazily as we made our way to the log chapel, and we were greeted by a roaring bonfire that begged to be enjoyed. Instrumental Christmas music rung from hidden speakers and the smokey warm smell of wood burning hung in the air. What can I say ... it was simply perfect and romantic. It was just the dose of winter  I needed to get me in the Christmas mood. In between vows and reception we took a ride in a horse-driven carriage that toured around the ranch. I'll let the pictures tell the story. Two sleeps until Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Half Mast

It's been a global trainwreck of a day
Insanity ruled as an evil reign of terror
unleashed a catastrophic campaign of violence.

In small town USA a troubled boy
turned a gun on his mother, then a school;
twenty-seven souls took flight.

In middle China a troubled man
knife in hand, attacked a primary school;
twenty-two small children maimed.

In this season of peace
all over the world, hearts bleed
as innocents and innocence - die.

In this season of peace
will we unite around our shock and grief
that our light may be a beacon of hope in the darkness?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wind Up

I think the anticipation and lead up to Christmas is almost as exciting as the actual day. And I am sure we would all agree that the magic of the season is lodged in memories and traditions. Hubby braved the roof to string our Christmas lights; our tree is up - a little short on white lights - adorned in the same  familiar decorations as in Christmas' past. The macaroni garland is holding up nicely and the painted egg cartons add the homey touch - each treasure with its own story and sentiment.

My guilty pleasure is the hard Christmas candy that takes me back to my childhood. Every year I buy a tin of candy to put out and, since I am the only one who likes it, end up tossing most of it out. Fritz likes it too!

Right now our Christmas finery is reserved for us but thankfully it won't be long before the house hums with the love of our tribe and the real feeling of the holiday will prevail.

Friday, December 7, 2012

In the Mood

We overcame our typical Friday night, end of the week fatigue, battled the commuter traffic and drove into the city to watch a wonderful Canadian musician at a small pub in Mirvish village. The cosy venue was tiny and the stage - tinier. Bri-anne and her one man band were tuning their instruments as the crowd negotiated beers and the slab of plywood that had been fashioned into a bar.

The only empty table happened to be parked beside the riser that served as the stage. I was happy, and hubby was less happier. Maybe he resented the fact that he got residual bounce from the stage lights on his shiny head. He usually likes to fade into the background and there was no chance of that tonight. So while we munched on hurriedly prepared burgers and fries and sipped our beverages, we were serenaded by a passionate musician with an angelic voice. The only downside was the table of boisterous lads beside us who were clearly there for a boys night out, and not to listen to a folk singer. It was especially disappointing while Bri-anne sang the quiet, moving numbers like Hallejuah and we had to strain to hear over the party. I resisted the urge to suggest that they take the table across the room by the window opting instead for another glass of Sauvignon Blanc for me, and a fried mars bar for hubby. 

It's a tough gig being an artist singing to a rowdy room of "unawares". But they press on, apparently caught up in the momentum of the performance, and afterwards, they pass around the hat. It's a tough gig and we tried to be generous in our donation. We had a rare night out to listen to some great live music.

If you want a taste of the treat we had tonight, listen to Bri-anne Swan singing Leonard Cohen's song Hallelujah,

Off to bed; I have another full day tomorrow of Christmas immersion!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


I shared the unexpected $100 win-fall tonight. I decided to spend it in Canada, to help ease some of the suffering in my own community, during this holiday season.

Covenant House Toronto offers hope to homeless youth, giving them a place to stay, providing 24/7 crisis care and a wide range of services including education, counselling, health care and employment assistance. 

It's hard to fathom what life must be like on the streets, never mind how a child could survive. And I can only imagine the frustrations and challenges of those who dedicate themselves to helping the most vulnerable members of our society. I donated $25 to help Covenant House help young people move from a life on the street to a life with a future.

The Red Cross is working to offer hope, help and compassion to needy Canadian families struck by disaster.  I donated $75 to the program that will provide comforting items for children to essentials like groceries and hygiene supplies, to help speed up the recovery of  families suffering through tragedy.

There it is - released into the community; the money just passing through me to the hands of those who can put it to good use to help others. And it is true what they say about giving being better than receiving. Both are fun, but your heart feels fuller when you give.  I guess this was a good reminder for me to remember to put my community and those in need on my Christmas list.

And I guess you could say that my Christmas shopping is coming along quite nicely!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Today I received a wonderful gift: a letter from one of my Women for Women sisters. I tore open the envelope with the familiar letterhead and was delighted to find a handwritten letter with a translation attached. The crinkled page was dated March 28, 2012! It took so long to reach me from the Congo, that in the mean time, my sister graduated from the program and a new sister has been assigned to me.

I consumed every word, picturing her, pen in hand, reaching across the world to a sponsor unknown to her. I recognised "rafiki" -- friend. Although brief, the letter brought the struggles of the   people of the Congo to life -- especially the mothers caring for their families. She is only 28, yet has four children with ages ranging from 16 to 10. She was a child having children.

"I am a bit fine, but I do not know what the future holds for me."

She closed with "may God bless you".

So tonight, where ever you lay your head Rehema, I hope you are safe, and that God watches over you and your young family.

How can I feel anything but gratitude for the blessings and abundance in my life.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Good Intentions

Yesterday I posted my intentions: share, love, express, give.

Today I came home to find a $100 cheque in the mail... I'd won a small prize in the home lottery. More luck and abundance; it just keeps coming - the toonie I found in my coat pocket this morning, the 20% discount coupon a complete stranger handed me in the busy store lineup, and then today's mail.

Now I just have to figure out how to share it.

For that, I am truly grateful.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ahead of the Curve

Goal: To avoid any form of negativity during the holiday season, including usage of terms such as "stressed out" and "have to get", and other general complaining; to fully embrace the joys of the season, with the lions share involving spending time with loved ones.

My mission - should I choose to accept it: Start Christmas shopping early and wrap it all up (with a big shiny bow) by Dec 9th so I can shift my focus from purchasing, to visiting and baking - the  things that make the festive season really special.

Status: 50 shades of awesomeness! I am more than 75% completed and am on target to complete the mission successfully. All without  [hardly] swearing at all...

Intentions: share, love, express, give

I feel lucky! Let me correct that statement... I AM lucky. I am experiencing a heavy dose of the boomerang effect. The more I try to give away, the more good fortune randomly comes back to me. It is not mine to question - but my heart is full to overflowing with gratitude and I go off to sleep even more inspired to toss the boomerang even more.  But for now, I am ahead of the curve/

thank you...