Monday, November 26, 2012

Time to Play The Price is Right!

My church is having a craft sale this week to raise funds for the temporary shelter we run for part of the winter in conjunction with some other local churches.  I'm donating up these crocheted creatures, but I have no idea how to price them.  It's been ages since I've been to a craft fair, and when I do go, I'm usually looking for ideas and not at prices (vendors just love people like me!).  Any suggestions?  

Mouse Madge

Ferdie and Gerd


The jellyfish cousins


I'm also donating some of these egg ornaments too...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Gratitude: Laughing at Myself

The ability to laugh at oneself seems a peculiar thing to be grateful for, but today I realized it truly is a gift.  After reminiscing with my Mom over a cup of tea about some of my embarrassing moments, she said "Well, at least you can laugh at yourself over these things.  Some people would never tell anyone it it happened to them..."

Packed into the local paper today, along with an ever-increasing number of store flyers vying for our Christmas shopping lunacy attention, was a glossy four page advertisement for a jewellery store.  I don't particularly desire to have any more jewellery than I currently wear, but I have to admit that I love looking through those flyers.  It's like every time I walk past the crystal figurine display at Costco and I can't help but get pulled into the vortex of sparkle even though I think the figurines are kind of hideous at the same time.  I chuckled as I flipped through the first few pages of this flyer, remembering the last time a similar flyer came to our house.  O and I cut out pictures of the jewellery and fashioned them into pretend rings, bracelets, watches, and necklaces with some tape and mad cutting skills.  We were in the midst of selling our own house, but didn't have any showings scheduled that day, and baby T was down for a nap.  When a family knocked on the door and requested to have an unscheduled browse through our house, I proceeded to guide them through the house, totally bedazzled in my paper jewellery.  It was only after a few minutes that I remembered the jewels and there was no point in trying to discreetly remove my bling at that point.  Maybe they saw my fake jewels as a sign of our desperation to sell that house and move up in the world, because they made a rather sad offer on our house after that!  

My absolute favourite story in terms of laughing at myself, however, comes from my university days.  I have a feeling that I've shared this story before, though I can't seem to find it through the search engine on my blog.  In any case, if I'm repeating this story, my apologies.  I know I wrote it long ago on my old xanga blog, but it's worth retelling here if I haven't already done so.  I was too cheap to spend money on textbooks that I knew would only be used for one or two weeks of the courses, so I would often try to track down copies of the texts in a library, or photocopy poems from reference books in the library instead of buying another Norton Anthology of Poetry.  Sometimes, the only copy that I could find of a poem was from an old book, using a different typeface.  I didn't realize, at the time, that in some older typefaces, the letter "s" more resembled the letter "f" than "s".  As fate would have it, I was asked to read aloud in class Charlotte Smith's "Sonnet Written at the Close of Spring" and I read every "s" as if it were an "f".  Give it a try:
THE GARLANDS fade that Spring so lately wove,
  Each simple flower which she has nurs’d in dew,
Anemones, that spangled every grove,
  The primrose wan, and harebell mildly blue.
No more shall violets linger in the dell,
  Or purple orchis variegate the plain,
Till Spring again shall call forth every bell...
Oh, Charlotte.  I'm sorry I ruined your Sonnet.
Oh, I have laughed until my cheeks beg me to stop so many times about this gaff.  It was pure hilarity.  A classmate of mine, who happened to be a friend from my high school days, thankfully stopped me after about four or five lines and said that her edition was slightly different.  You don't say.

I'm glad that I'm able to laugh at myself.  If not right away, I know that many embarrassing situations will be laughable one day.  Some of these stories are just too entertaining to keep to oneself too...I know that my linguistic mishap has provided many other people with much laughter.  The real gift, however, is not that I should somehow congratulate myself for being able to laugh at myself.  My initial reaction in situations like this is fight or flight.  I'm too wimpy to fight and not the fastest runner, so hiding is the next best option.  The thing that I am grateful for it that I've been given people in my life: parents, sisters, a husband, two sweet sons, friends and other family who give me love, acceptance, perspective, and have fostered a sense of humour about my not-so-sparkly moments.  Though I still deal with anxiety and self-conciousness on occasion, I know that when I make a fool of myself, I'm still loved.  And it just might provide some good laughs someday.  

There are the funny not-so-sparkly moments, and there are the moments that we all (I think) experience of inner brokenness.  The times when we are foolish, selfish, greedy, impatient, pious, or just sad.  More than any of the wonderful people in my life could humanly provide, I know that I am (and you are too, by the way) still loved by the One who made us...  

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:38-39

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratitude: Healthcare

My month-long hiatus from blogging was precipitated by a bad case of the Novembers.  Poor November, it suffers from being sandwiched between the crisp, colourful allure of early Fall, and the still, frosty sparkle of Winter coziness.  I've always much preferred the timing of Canadian Thanksgiving to that of the American Thanksgiving, but this year had me thinking that November could use a more cheerful holiday than Remembrance Day, and a reminder to be thankful.  Add to the deluge of November rains a never-ending root-canal saga, a rear-end collision and whiplash, and the realization that the cold and flu viruses of winter have come out to play, probably until mid-April, and I adopted a rather ungracious attitude as of late.  I've missed the creative outlet of blogging, and I need to choose an attitude of thankfulness to squelch the Novembers, and so I intend to embark on a blogging adventure of regular explorations of gratitude.

Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry novembre by Jean Colombe
He looks a mite happier about November than I do.  And he's even tending pigs.
First Exploration of Gratitude:
Our Canadian medical system is by no means perfect, but I am so thankful for our medical care.  I was reminded how deeply I appreciate and feel fiercely protective of our socialist medical system when somebody at a dinner party I recently attended suggested implementing a user fee for visiting a family doctor, perhaps a fee of $25.  When my son woke up crying and in pain with an earache a couple of nights ago, I didn't need to decide whether I could afford to take him to the doctor in the morning.  My decision was momentarily in question when I thought about catching something worse (i.e. stomach flu, which is exactly 8 times worse by my latest calculations), but I didn't have to decide whether I should spend money on food or medical care for my family this week.  He now has antibiotics for an ear infection.  We did pay for that ourselves, and there are numerous other items that we or our extended medical plan would pay for.  But, when true medical crisis strikes, we are all generally given good, fair medical care.   When my husband had cancer eight years ago, the medical system pumped tens of thousands of dollars into his body to make him well again, and we paid very little.  Our medical system isn't free, but in my humble opinion, it's pretty fair overall.  I do believe that if we had been living in a country without universal care and could not afford private insurance, such as the USA, we would either be in debt for the rest of our lives, or my husband might not have even been given treatment.  It is incomprehensible to me how a nation as prosperous as the USA does not provide adequate, fair medical care to its citizens.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, my family has opted to give gifts to charities at Christmas time instead of exchanging sweaters, gift cards, and scented candles that never get used.  We buy gifts and the exchange cards, explaining what the gift is, and how it will be used.  Sometimes, if we have our ducks in a row early enough, we make small gifts or tree ornaments to go along with the charity gift to remind the recipient of the real gift that has been purchased in their name.  For me, one of the most meaningful and memorable gifts was the supplying of a medical clinic in a developing nation the year that my husband went through cancer treatments.  It was so moving to think about the people who would benefit from me not getting another red sweater, and instead receiving life-saving medication or treatments that I had, until that year, taken largely for granted.  The years that I had my baby boys, I gave the gift of equipping midwives in developing nations with equipment and training to help bring healthy babies and mothers into the world.  I encourage, you to consider giving up your red sweater or itunes gift card this year and instead requesting a gift for someone else, in honor of the gift of medical care you've received.  Will such a small action make a difference?  I guarantee it makes a difference for the person on the receiving end of your generosity, and small acts have an inspiring effect on never know what the impact of your generosity will be!  

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