Sunday, September 30, 2012

Praying For My Mother

My mother isn't happy about the changes in her life. She has always been a healthy, active person. Now at 93, she finds walking difficult and one eye is almost blind from macular degeneration. (Thankfully cataract surgery has given her good vision in the other eye.)

Call it lack of faith - or reality - I don't expect her physical problems to go away.

(Grandma, Terry reminds her, when she gets annoyed at her physical ailments. Your body is like a car that's been used for many years - parts are beginning to wear out!)

So how should I pray for her, knowing she probably won't get better?

I have begun focusing not so much on my mother's losses, but praying that she will continue to enjoy life. So I find it gratifying that she still gets excited about the schedule of activities for the coming week... And later, when I leave, she is so busy talking to another resident that she forgets to wave goodbye!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Almost Like Having a Baby

When our first child was born, we didn't know where to put her! She ended up sharing Terry's study. (He was a student at the time.) There, in a corner, we placed her first bed - a fold-up travel bed we affectionately called "the box."

Later on we squeezed a crib into this small space, as we adjusted our apartment to fit in a new person who had come to stay. But it wasn't until we moved into a house a year and a half later that she finally had a room of her own!

I have been reminded of that time of adjustment and change as I begin my new autumn venture - an acrylic painting class! I am again searching for the right spot in our home - not for a child - but for a place to set up an easel and paint! To date my art classes have involved pencils and drawing pads, supplies that pile easily beside a chair or desk. But suddenly I need a sink to wash my brushes, a table for my easel, a floor that paint drips won't damage!

Why not paint in the dining room? my daughter suggests on the phone.

I always sew in our dining room. I like the sunny space. But where would I put wet paintings when we needed to eat?!

I wander around the house, looking. I come across an old table in our basement storage area... There is a laundry tub around the corner where I could wash brushes. (Is this how art studios are born?!)

Strange that I never thought of all this when I registered for the course!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Moving into Acrylics

Time to learn to paint so that I can add color to my drawings. So I register for a 4-session class in acrylics. I arrived with my tubes of paint...

The teacher's method is to have us replicate one of her paintings: a barn in a snowy field.

We start with the background. ("In acrylics, you move from back to front," we are told...)

It's harder than it looks - my background doesn't darken evenly like hers does. Instead it has streaks of color.

Fortunately skies are very flexible! They come streaky with clouds - or clear. Mine looks a little foggy!

Next class we'll work on the barn, she tells us...

For three whole hours?!! It definitely isn't as easy as it looks! But I do love the texture of the paint. It reminds me of the oil paints I used in my teenage years when I painted portraits. The disadvantages of oil paints are the long drying times... and the smell. (Which is why I am avoiding them now.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Glimpse of the Past

My grandparents arrived in Edmonton in 1929, German immigrants escaping the Communist takeover of their farmland in the Ukraine. Life was a struggle for the first few decades, as they raised their children. My grandfather, Hugo Bartz, a carpenter, supported his family by building houses and barns.

One of the farms he worked on was the homestead of the Riske family. (Little did he know that, several generations later, the two families would be related in marriage!)

During my recent visit to Edmonton, my cousin Dave (whose wife Cathy is a descendant of the Riskes) took me to see the barn Grandpa built on the former dairy farm, now a garden nursery.

I saw the barn...

... and the house that Grandpa built.

It was interesting to wander among the plants...

... and in the greenhouses.

But this era may also soon end. The nursery may be forced to move - as suburban neighborhoods grow up around them. As city limits grow to include this former farm, taxes increase. How long will the family continue to live on the land their ancestors homesteaded more 100 years ago? No one is really sure. But if a subdivision of new houses moves into the area, the house and barn will probably disappear.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Aerial View of Canada

I love to fly on clear days when I can see the land below me.

In first year university, I had to take a science class. I chose physical geography, the study of land formations, because geography labs involved maps and graphs - not test tubes and Bunsen burners.

 Shortly afterwards, I took my first flight across the country, and was delighted to see - from above - the meandering rivers and sedimentary deposits I had learned about.

It has been a long time since that first-year university (freshman) geography course, but every time I fly - as I recently did across the country from Ontario to Alberta - I am reminded of it.

In many ways, it changed my life, giving me a new perspective on the world around me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Afghan Inspiration

I find afghan inspiration everywhere!

At my uncle's nursing home, I can't help but notice this lovely afghan my cousin won in a draw.

The blanket of many colors brightens the whole room!

(And I quickly take this close-up to remember how it was done!)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hockey Passion

Hockey is big in Canada...

Fans take their hockey seriously...

None more seriously than my brother-in-law, Barry...

... who has a room in his house dedicated to his favorite hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens.

Barry has lived in Western Canada for more than 35 years...

But he hasn't forgotten his roots...

 Or his favorite team - the Montreal Canadiens!

(He even has a piece of the old Montreal Forum in his private hockey shrine: one of the seats dismantled when the team moved to a new arena.)

Canadians do not usually show a lot of nationalistic fervor - but when it comes to sports, that's another matter!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I'm Afraid to Ask (A Prayer)

It's Sunday! Again I'd like to share a prayer by David A. Redding:

Give me the faith to listen to
You, O Lord.
For Your words may be high;
Give me courage
For Your words may be hard;
And the humility,
For they may be simple.
And give me love, for Your answer
May hurt.
So help me God.

(Before You Call I Will Answer, p. 127)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autumn Joy

September is here and there are still a few flowers blooming in our yard.

 In my early gardening years, I didn't have any after mid-August.

So I hunted for some late-bloomers.

I bought some at garden centers.

So now my garden has splashes of autumn color here and there.

But my absolute favorites came from a neighbor dividing his flowers: autumn joy sedum, a hardy plant that turns red this time of year. My neighbor gave me a few, and now I divide the larger plants in fall, as well.


 My goal is to have them in different parts of the yard.

 Autumm joy sedum grows well where other plants won't - even near pine trees where the soil is acidic. The website linked to above describes them as drought tolerant and rabbit resistant. I haven't seen squirrels eating them either. They apparently grow in any kind of soil (neutral, alkaline or acid) in sun or shade, in average, dry or moist soil. They attract butterflies - and bees love them.

I love them too! At this time of year, they really perk up the yard.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A New Blog... of Prayers

A wise man commented: There is no end to the making of books! The same could be said of blogs!

About a year ago I began a blog called A Prayer for Today. Whenever I come across a prayer I like, I post it.  For now, I post them on Sundays and Wednesdays, to establish a pattern, but I'd like to publish new ones on Fridays as well, as my collection grows. These are not prayers written by me - but ones I have come across and found meaningful. Perhaps they will be meaningful to others, too.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cooler Weather

I hate to complain about hot summer weather - our winters are so long and cold.

So I won't!

 But I will say that it's energizing to have slightly cooler weather...

... to be wearing shoes, not sandals - and wondering if I should have brought a light jacket along.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Mother's Sewing Basket

My mother doesn't sew anymore. She once taught sewing and tailoring - and even wove her own cloth... But now her arthritic hands can't grip small objects...

So I recently brought home her sewing basket. Now I'm sorting through it. I can still use its selection of needles and thread...

Some of the thread is pretty old... I don't know when the industry switched from wooden to plastic spools... But it has been a while!

(Thread was cheaper back in the day! This large spool only cost 50 cents!)

 I also discovered one of my mother's traveling tricks: Keep a mini kit of thread and a needle in a book of matches.

You never know when either could come in handy!

One interesting find was this stocking run mending kit! I used to dab clear nail polish on runs to stop them from growing - but I never did try to repair them, even in my poor student days!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Indoor Tree Update: Pruning and New Growth

A while back I wrote about indoor trees, mentioning the problem of trees growing too large.

A friend of mine, who has several indoor trees, told me to simply cut back any that were getting too big. I was reluctant to take such a drastic step, especially since cutting back meant removing all leaves. But finally I did cut back the tallest limb of this dracaena marginata, trimming it down to the soil. (I'm not sure if each limb is a separate tree or if all are part of the same tree.) It took a while for the other two limbs in the pot to readjust.  In fact, I was wondering if the second tallest (the tallest in the picture above) would survive.  Its leaves drooped for a month.

But now - three months later - both remaining trees/limbs seem to be doing fine - and a new little shoot is growing from the stump of the one I removed. So pruning did work!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Love... and Acceptance

My thought for today (which also happens to be my wedding anniversary): We look for LOVE and LOYALTY in marriage (and so we should!)... But what keeps a marriage strong is true ACCEPTANCE:

"Husband and wife characteristically accept each other as they are. Their faith in each other's regard for them is not based on their own worth or right, but on the other's acceptance of them just as they are. It is hard to think of any other relationship (except perhaps within a religious community) where acceptance could be so unreserved, so productive of mutual health and growth." (From Seeking God by Esther de Waal, p. 126)

(I love the idea that acceptance leads - not to stagnation - but to GROWTH!)