FAR AWAY PLACES

Ah yes, “Faraway places with their strange sounding names,” were such a part of my life for twenty years.  I think I have been to 26 places in the world.  I wish I could remember accurately what I really saw.  In checking my old photos, one beach looks very much like another. Yes, having a Travel Agency kept us on the move.

It is interesting that the French derivative of the world “travel” is “travail” which means “work”.  I am afraid that my memories are filled with “travail” because as most women know, they are the “packers” for the long awaited trip.

I used to start weeks in advance making lists.  It seems every country needed its own list.  I would put what was available at the moment on the spare bed. After a few days you could not find the bedspread, all you could see were clothes, shoes and boxes of “maybe’s”.  A few days before we were to leave I would start tossing out what I thought I could live without and then begin my serious packing.

Some things my husband looked after were passports, visas and travel insurance…and of course the entourage of passengers who were part of the travel group we’d talked into joining us.  In all those years we only had one passenger that I actually wanted to throw off our cruise line..(joking of course), and I think we would have had some help from some of the others in our group also.

Those years of travel left lots of memories, but my best memory is of us arriving again in Canada after a very long flight and the Customs official smiling and saying, “Welcome back home.” I was so tired that I nearly broke into tears.

Travel has its ups and downs and really is a reflection of what life is like too.  You smile through the good times and are thankful for them and pray for guidance through the bad.

There are a lot of years behind me and my travel experiences.  The new world is not nearly as safe but to those who have the yen to see it; tread softly, pack lightly and be sure to include your faith in your baggage for the trip.  Bon voyage!

OF FRIENDS AND FOOD

Unlike my husband who lived to eat, food is not high on my priority list.

I recall years ago, the first time I left my teen-age daughters to attend an out of town event, I instructed them,  “Eat properly and behave yourselves.”  “Don’t worry,” they replied, “We know The Canada Food Rules.” And yes, they did.  Good nutrition got pumped into them at an early age.  I had been a high energy child, and ate anything I could find that was sweet.  It is still costing me in dental bills.

But I doubt if they would request any special home-cooked meals if they visited.  Maybe “Streudels”, a pork and dumpling dish I learned to make from Harry’s mom.  He loved her cooking and I tried to copy some of her recipes (failing miserably, most of the time.)

When I think of the hundreds, well more like the thousands of meals I have prepared I get exhausted.  Once Harry asked me what I wanted more than anything in the world and I said, “A live-in cook!”

When I think of the things I have placed on a plate through the years they are as varied as the friends I have had through the years.  Much as you choose a menu, you choose your friends.

And they nourish you in a similar fashion.  God seems to know when you need certain friends in your life…a childhood companion to hold all your secrets, a teen-age fellow student to share the complications of growing up…friends at work, friends at play, church friends and those special friends who love and cherish you, regardless of your flaws.

One thing widows (an widowers too) need are listening friends…

Find me a friend that listens…find me a friend that cares. Find me a friend that comforts as I wipe away my tears…When the day is over and night is drawing near…The memory of their friendship is one I’ll hold most dear.

Today was a bit of a down day…overcast, cool and lonely and then the phone rang…an invitation to go to a gardening shop, a car ride on Monday to see the canola fields, a call from a sick shut-in (she is getting better)…all friends that God has placed into my life.

So supper is in the frig and my friends surround me.  How truly blessed I am!

BOATING

“Is that the boat we are taking to Europe” I inquired from my husband.  He glared at me. “It is a ship, not a boat,” I was informed.

Regardless, it didn’t matter.  I was deadly sea-sick for seven days going over to Europe and three years later for five days coming back when our posting to Germany was finished.

When we eventually bought at “boat”, it was just that…a row boat.  Id did boast a 5 1/2 horse-power motor and two oars and was non-life threatening.  We caught a lot of fish from that boat.

But, my husband loved water and consequently there were several cruises in our years with our Travel Agency.  We went down the Amazon twice.  That wasn’t as scary as the plane ride home from Manus.  there was nothing but jungle underneath us…for miles and miles.  No rescue, should we go down.

The one small cruise we took down the U.S. coast to Mexico, was a nightmare the whole way.  Everyone was sick.  The Gravol was not dispensed by the doctor on board, it was sitting out in the Lobby for everyone and I bet he was taking it too.

On one of our trips we traveled on “The Love Boat”.  Some of you may remember that TV serial from away back…and incidentally they played the song over and over on the loud speakers until I knew every word in it.

And on one of our cruises we decided to watch a movie one afternoon.  We went down, and down and down and finally found the bottom of the boat and there was the Movie Theatre.  The selection that day was “The Posidon Adventure”. Not such a good choice for those new at this form of travel experience.

My travel days are long gone but I have memories of adventures that would fill several novels. People always feel that travel is the ultimate experience…and it has its wonderful moments but we have a beautiful and fascinating world right on our doorstep and I thank God that I have seen some its wonders.  There is so much to see in Canada…and we take it so much for granted.

One day I stood with a stranger at Fairmont Hot Springs, in B.C. at the top of a hill and we looked over a vast forest of trees.  She glanced over at me and said “Look, there is no one here but us.”  She was an American from Los Angeles where every corner is full of people.

I have felt the same wonder so many times as I have driven across the rolling hills of the Peace River Country here in Alberta.  Miles and miles of yellow canola, or wheat or barley are spread out before you like quilt.  What a gift the Lord has given us…and it is all there on our doorstep to enjoy.  God is really good to us Canadians.

 

APPOLOGIES

Like most of you, I hate admitting I am wrong…I had to apologize twice today to the same person. The first incident was because of fear…and fear can evoke anger and the second incident was because I was  not knowledgeable…that sounds better than stupid, but really I was stupid.

My friend who was unwell, told me she had taken a medication that had been prescribed many years earlier.  What she had neglected to tell me was that is had also been prescribed just a year ago.  I was fearful, thinking she had taken a medication that was years old and so upset that I said I was angry at her.  Big apology when it all got straightened out.

Then later she said something about getting her medications put in ‘bubble packs’ I didn’t know what she was talking about and found out later that it is quite a different thing than the weekly plastic containers I put my medications into.  She is so patient with me, so I wrote her a poem which was printed in “Good Times” magazine.

FAITHLESS

“I’ll pray for rain,” Paula advised.  I argued with my friend. “My computer states, this drought’s not going to end.” “Oh you, of little faith,” she quoted.”  And she was oh so right. This morning I opened up the blinds, and it had rained all night.

Being right seems to be so important to us.  We pick up a bit of information here and there and suddenly we are experts.  Pride does go before a fall and those kinds of falls really hurt.

Judge not! Scripture keeps telling us and we run off at the mouth without really thinking about the consequences.  Sometimes our sound advice is anything but sound.

It’s a blessing that the Almighty understands and loves us regardless of our failings. He has picked me up and dusted me off so many times, I probably have shiny spots on me.

So again, I confess I have messed up and He says okay, do better next time.  And I truly will try.

CANADA CELEBRATES 150 years.

For the last few days the TV news has told us about terrible weather in central Alberta.  Wind storms in Red Deer, hail in Edmonton and even at home here our first electrical storm of the season.  That one crash of thunder on top of the flash of lightening really raised me out of my seat.

I recall an incident when our basement flooded after our water tank burst.  Of course we were absent. One always seems to be absent when these things happen. Our neighbour who was checking the house reached us by phone. The cleanup took hours and our return was not a happy event.

Many decades earlier I had been involved in the 1948 flood of the Fraser Valley, B.C..  Well actually I peeled dozens and dozens of potatoes so we could feed flood victims.  As a young teen there wasn’t much else I could do.  But I recall the view from my house up on the hill…water, water everywhere.

As an Albertan now, my eyes were glued to the TV as I again experienced the awesome strength of Nature.  It is humbling and I was so thankful no lives were lost.

But one thing about both incidences is that something was gained in all this tragedy.  Folks who had never spoken to each other offered help of any kind…even if it meant getting their hands dirty.  The degree of Volunteerism staggered the mind.

The Golden rule was the rule of the day.  Do unto others…and they did…helping, feeding, housing, comforting.  God’s glory was reflected in every one of those selfless acts.

This special Canada Day, I will wear my red T-shirt, with its maple leaf,  to church and join with the congregation in the singing of our national anthem…”God keep our land, glorious and free…and again tears will dim my vision as they do each time I sing it and remember again this beautiful country of Canada and celebrate its special 150th birthday.

MUFFIN MADNESS

Edible, but not saleable! That is what I said as I tasted the banana muffins I had just pulled out of the oven.  A little over done too, I decided. I had baked them for the Bazaar.

I went to warm up some cocoa in the microwave and there it was…the melted margarine that was supposed to be in the muffins.  I am a disaster in the kitchen.  I think the ladies at the church know it and they seldom ask for sandwiches or squares for funerals and at the Bazaar this year I have been designated to take the Tea fee.

I could have cried but instead God and I just had a good laugh.  There are so many times in life that you mean well and come out of the experience with mud on your face…or in my case with melted margarine in the microwave.  Oh well, my Bible Study ladies won’t mind.  They taste okay, they are  just a bit “rubbery”.

I have been walking down memory lane lately.  Looking at old files, remembering our years in the travel business.  Such good years, but far too busy and we made mistakes…too much travel, responsibility, too many cigarettes for Harry and late nights at Council meetings.  And that mistake cost us…at 56 he had a massive heart attack.  Actually it was a God-send.  He did a complete about face and lived another seventeen years.  Sometimes you learn from your mistakes.

I have packaged up my muffins; daughter Lyn will enjoy them…she has the same problems in the kitchen as I do.  I think of my two girls…two years apart and so different in nature and talents.

My daughters are a mystery…so different, yet so much like me.  One has not a book to read…the other not a plant or seed. Yet my home’s filled with both of these.  The Lord is certainly a tease to send these two with bits of me…scattered through eternity.

We are what the Almighty has ordained I guess and regardless of the mess I made with the muffins, my family and He still love me.

 

REFLECTIONS OF LIFE

A while back I put together a book of all  my stories for the last few years.  I called it “Reflections” as that is what my stories are…reflections of my life experiences.

But today’s story is about other reflections…photo reflections.  I was sent a long email this morning filled with Autumn photos.  They were glorious!  Some appealed more than others but there was one in particular that showed that the photographer had an eye for almost unseen beauty.

It was a photo of tree trunks and the ground beneath covered in golden leaves.  If you look down, way down you see a puddle and in the puddle is the reflection of the tree trunks.  That tiny reflection spoke to me of the promise in each one of us.  We may not be able to be the whole picture, only God can do that, but we can be a small reflection of his glory.

In looking back on my childhood days I tried to sift through all those years to see if there were any incidents that might qualify as reflecting God’s glory.  I do remember picking up a dozen rolling oranges that fell out of an old man’s grocery bag.  He was a bit scary as I was about eight and had had nothing to do with really old people.  I probably ran all the way home afterwards.  I wonder what he thought of that small child that was so brave and fearful at the same time.

Some reflections are not ones we wish to claim…that word spoken in haste etc..  Recently I saw a look given to someone with so much anger in it I was shocked.  The person never knew I saw that look but it changed my impression of them immediately.

A while back I had some photos taken of me for my birthday.  They are humbling.  Those touches of face cream I used through the years did NOT fulfill their promise but maybe the contract on the label wasn’t meant for this many years.

I am glad that God sees my heart as well as my visage for it is my heart that calls out to him and says “Father, I need some comfort today,”  ….and it is my heart that is drawn closer and comforted by His presence.