Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
* These are not Shaggy Mane mushrooms. If they are, they are very young. I researched my brains out and canont find out what they are but I know we ate them. Anybody out there who can help me with this?
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Often a photo is OK but needs just a little help to make it better. Here, the elements of the scene are nice, but overly cluttered. Cropping the picture simplifies the scene as in "less is more". But right at the desired crop line, the out building beside the barn annoyed me. There is a tool in Adobe Photo shop called a clone tool. I was able to 'clone' the grey sky right over the out building and eliminate it. This photo would have been impossible without a bit of technological help. This really frees up the photographer to take photos that normally he would reject. Something can almost always be salvaged.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
There have been many attempts, over the centuries, to discredit the Easter Story. One of the most popular ways has been to claim that the Resurrection story is a myth. It takes many years to develop a myth, indeed many generations. Eye witnesses have to have expired so as to not contradict the myth, a word which implies mistruth. As it turns out, the so-called myth of Jesus rising from the grave was written about and indeed copied many thousands of times, in the first generation, the generation of Jesus, eye witnesses to the event! But here is the clincher. Who in their right mind, in the first century, knowing that women were not even allowed to testify in a court of law because they were unreliable, would start a myth where the first eye witnesses to the resurrected Jesus were ....... women? They were the first to see the empty grave, the first to be told by an angel that Jesus was risen , and the first to see Jesus in his resurrected body. Matthew 28: 1-10.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
This process is not that easy with Easter. This is the most important 3 days for Christians because through the death and Resurrection of Christ, our sins were forgiven, our future was secured, and we have promise of Resurrection for ourselves. This is not politically correct because these benefits, although free gifts for the asking, are exclusively for true believers. This weekend is not as well observed and celebrated by the masses because it has not been that easy to take Jesus out of Easter. And maybe God knew that when He instructed us through his word, to remember. We cannot blame non-Christians for not observing Easter, it means nothing to them, unless they celebrate new life in the form of bunny rabbits and freshly hatched chicks.
In the next few days, let us remember, and then examine our faith. Do we really believe, and if we do, how is that impacting our lives. Easter is ALL about Jesus and no amount of Easter Lilies or chocolate can ever change that!
* The photo is not mine. It belongs to "dtcchc" a church media designer who posted this photo on Flikr.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
The parallels to a person's life are striking and obvious.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
It is only natural that in the course of decades of dealing with people, that I would sooner or later have a brush with death, not my own, but someone for whom I was working. The mainstay of my business has been working for retired folks. These are people who have done decorating, for the most part, themselves, and as they age, they find the work too difficult, or they find themselves in a financial position where they can afford to hire out the jobs they used to do themselves. The statistics on death and dying indicate that women live longer than do men, and this has certainly been my experience over the years, judging by the number of widows I have had the pleasure of working for. I have always found them congenial, sometimes very lonely, and always appreciative of the fact that there was once again a man in the house, if only for a few days. There have been many times when I have been called upon to do those mundane tasks that the departed husband used to do, but have been neglected, due to his passing. Changing a light bulb in a difficult location, tightening knobs and handles, gluing loose drawers, lubricating squeaks and keyholes, moving furniture and or picture hooks and adjusting doors are just a few of the many tasks I have performed in this capacity.
I used to come across the odd widow that could not even write a cheque and had to pay in cash, as her husband had always done all the financial tasks and she was too old to learn the basics of household bookkeeping. Many times I have written out my own cheque and the widow had simply signed it. I always had a fear that these poor souls would one day be taken advantage of by some unscrupulous character.
It sometimes surprised me how soon after the husbands death I was called in to do some work. It was usually a case of the wife wanting a paint job, but the husband was holding back for one reason or another. In his absence, there was now no holding back. In other cases, there was now insurance money for the things the wife could never afford before. Indeed, one lady explained to me through teary eyes that it was her husbands wish that the home be decorated the way she wanted, after he died.
I first met the Friesens just after they had retired and moved from Manitoba to the west coast. It had been their dream and had been made possible by the fact that they had purchased a number of rental homes in Winnipeg and the extra income that this business venture provided, enabled them to make the move and also purchase a beautiful luxury townhouse in the nicest part of town. I worked for them for several weeks and got to know them quite well.
It was about 10 years later that I got a call from Mrs. Friesen informing me that they were down sizing due to their age and the fact they were having difficulty negotiating the stairs in their townhouse. Mr. Friesen had suffered a heart attack and because he had little strength, would need to be in and out of his bed throughout the day and stairs were not an option.
They still required something very nice so opted to move into the top floor suite of a new condominium, a corner unit facing south-west, the most desirable unit in the structure. The construction had been delayed, but because they had sold their previous home, they had to vacate so they were able to obtain a short term lease on a condo within eyesight of their new one. This was very handy as they came daily to the construction site to see to it that their unit was customized to their specifications. The building contractor's painters were relieved of their duties for this particular suite and I moved in to do a custom paint and wallpaper job. I saw her everyday, and him about every other day, only because the elevator in the new building was already operational.
I was doing the finishing touches one sunny afternoon, when I heard the sirens wailing. This was not an unusual occurrence, so I paid little attention, until I heard the sirens stop their blaring in the street just below where I was working. I put down my tools and went to the window, where I had a bird's eye view of all the proceedings. The attendants were in the older condo for some time. I was only mildly interested because I knew several people who lived there besides the Friesen's, and I was curious. There were people congregating in the foyer of the building and then I saw Mrs. Friesen. My blood ran a little cold as I saw her slowly walking beside the gurney that was being carefully wheeled out to the waiting ambulance. I recognized the snowy head of her husband. He had been carefully wrapped in a white sheet and was lying very still.
My first concern, strangely enough, was whether or not I should continue working. If the husband was indeed dead, or was no longer able to come home, would this suite still be their home? If someone else bought it, would they want these colours and wallpapers? I reasoned that the home did belong to them and they would not want to leave it in an unfinished state, so I continued working. It was eerie, because I was hanging the wallpaper in his room, the wallpaper he had chosen, and was looking forward to enjoying when they would move in, in a matter of days.
Several hours went by, and I heard someone quietly enter the suite. I was deep in thought and was surprised by Mrs. Friesen. She asked me if I knew who it was that was taken by the ambulance. I said I did and I inquired about her husband. She told me he was dead on arrival and the staff at the hospital had been unable to revive him.
It was awkward for me but she was gracious and assured me that this had been expected and she was prepared for it, as well as someone could be. She asked me to finish his room, and as it was the last thing to do in order to complete the job, she had a cheque ready for me and just like that, it was over.
There was a sadness that came over me as I took a last look around. The suite was beautiful, not only as a result of all the hard work, but because it was the culmination of a dream and plan, made by two people in the last years of their lives, a dream only she would be able to enjoy. She lived there for a number of years, by herself, and then I lost track of her. I still drive by that location now and then and always look up to that corner suite and the memories come back.
Another similar story unfolded in the Clearbrook Village, a very large retirement condominium complex built on the location of the High School I attended for the last three years of my formal education. The Hieberts were in their eighties but still quite perky and knowing what they wanted. Mrs. Hiebert had her heart set on a wallpaper for her kitchen that was a riot of bright red strawberries on a pure white background. She had apparently wanted something like this for many years and her husband had finally relented, and I was called to do the job. They were sweet on each other and he did a rare and wonderful thing for her the day I was to hang the paper. Because the kitchen would be slightly out of commission, he offered to take her out for the evening meal. Apparently this was an extremely rare occasion and she was giddy with excitement and anticipation. They left shortly after I did and I was eager to hear of her experience the next day.
The following morning as I arrived and buzzed the intercom, I sensed something was wrong when he answered the call and there was something different in his voice. As I entered their suite, he told me what had happened. As they were walking out of the main front door lobby, his wife stumbled on the door mat just inside the door, fell to the hard tiled floor and broke her hip. She was transferred to hospital where she underwent surgery and he was going to go immediately to visit her and come back with a report on her condition. I was grateful that it was not more serious as it would be shame for her to lose the joy of seeing her newly decorated kitchen. She had been truly excited about the prospect of being surrounded by strawberries.
When Mr. Heibert finally returned, he was dejected and related the sad news to me. His dear wife had trouble coming out of the anaesthetic and lost some brain function. The doctors were not sure what the long term issues would be.
Several weeks went by and the back-ordered wallpaper for the bedroom arrived. I made arrangement to come and complete the job and it happened to fall on the day that she was coming home from the hospital for the first time, but just for a short visit. Mr. Heibert was sure that coming home would be just the thing that she would need to jog her memory and get her back on the path to recovery. He knew that she had loved the strawberry wallpaper so much that the excitement of seeing it would perk her up and she would be fine. I remember the scene so well as the care givers wheeled her into the suite. I hardly recognized her. She was thin, frail, and there was a vacant look in her eyes. I had done extensive work at a home for the infirm and I saw that look many times, especially on the Alzheimer’s ward. I could hardly bear to see what happened next. Mr. Heibert lovingly wheeled her into the kitchen for the long anticipated ‘unveiling’. Her reaction brought tears to my eyes and a defeated slump to Mr. Heibert’s shoulders. She looked without seeing, and without any emotion in her voice simply said, “That’s nice”. His faint hope of her recovery was gone, and in its place came a sadness that was unmistakably written in his face.
She did not stay long, I was finished by the end of the day, and I only met him one other time about a year later. I asked him how he was doing. He told me that his wife had passed away and he was going into an old folks home soon. He was not the same man I had met a year ago. It was not long after that my sister, who was the director of nursing at the home he went to, told me that he too had passed away. All I could think about was that there might be a possibility the two of them could meet in a lovely field of strawberries in Heaven.
There is another story I would like to include in this chapter because it happened very nearby to the Friesen's original townhouse. That, however, is the only similarity. It involves a widow and how she resolved a very sticky problem.
In my travels around my community, I make observations of the various neighbourhoods and Strata Title Developments and usually make queries. I do this because I am sometimes asked questions regarding things like strata corporations, and which condo or townhouse development is well run and where are there problems and where is there good management and harmony. These are very important things to know before moving into a community such as this. It also makes for interesting conversation to pass the time as I am working.
This particular townhouse complex was very attractive, had an excellent location, and all units had a great view of a lake in the center of town and was in easy walking distance to the trails that surrounded that lake. But looks can be deceiving, as I found out when I asked a few pertinent questions of Mrs. Warkentine.
Apparently, there were quite a number of residents who were seriously considering selling and moving. That was difficult to understand, considering the location and beauty of the property. It seems that when neighbours are at odds with each other and there is no prospect of resolution of those difficulties, people lose hope and just want to leave. The problem was the president of the residents Strata committee. This development had no outside management, but took care of all their own affairs right on sight with an elected board. The president seemed all right, at first, but power went to his head and he was making life torture for the 30 owners in the complex.
I do not even know what the issues were and that was not the point of contention anyway. The personality clashes were the biggest problems. There was confrontation, anger, vengeance, gossip, and myriad of other sins going on in that place, all traceable to one man. The president.
As Mrs. Warkentine relates it, things came to a head one night at a council meeting that went long into the night and got very nasty. She had tried many times to reconcile, compromise, and forgive, all in the interests of keeping peace and holding on until they could vote this guy out when his term expired. She was at her wits end. After the meeting that night, with tears streaming down her face, she kneeled down at her bedside and prayed. As she tells it, “Lord, you know how we have all tried to get along with this man. You know who is right and who is wrong. You know that we are going to lose all our good people if something is not done soon. I can no longer do anything about this in my own strength, so I am giving it over to You, God. Please give a solution and give a solution soon. Please. Amen"
Apparently, she fell into a deep sleep, confident that the solution was at hand, as she is woman of strong faith. In the middle of the night, she was startled by the sounds of ambulance sirens, not in the distance as usual, but coming up the driveway which went right past her bedroom window. She arose, got partially dressed and raced to the front door to see where the vehicle would stop. It seemed to stop at the entrance to the presidents unit, but she was not able to confirm that until she actually walked to the location. There were several other neighbours gathered already and soon the stretcher was wheeled out. The body was completely covered, obviously dead. When she saw the president's wife, she knew immediately that it was the president who was indeed deceased. She was stunned as she made her way back to her home.
As she told me the story, her eyes welled with tears, and in a weak whisper, she said, "I didn't ask the Lord to kill him. I feel so guilty."
As this had only happened the previous week, her nerves were still raw and she had not fully processed what had happened. I tried to assure her that yes, her prayer was answered, but in a most unexpected way. She should not feel guilty, because if indeed it was an answer to her prayer, God made the decision to take his life, not her. She was not easily consoled.
Several years later, I returned to do some more work for her. I tentatively asked how life in the complex was. She answered with a cheery smile, "Just wonderful." She offered no details but her meaning was apparent.
I have learned from these incidents that our lives are not in our hands. Having plans and dreams are good, but does not guarantee that we will see them come to fruition. And we should be prepared for death at any time. That means that if we are to leave a positive legacy, we had better be working on it constantly or we could be snatched away in the midst of something negative, and who wants to be remembered for leaving this world when nobody liked them.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sunday, March 9, 2008
After multiple attempts, I have finally succeeded in posting today's pictures. The red represents my frustration level. I had so much fun creating these two versions of the red Tulip bucket, and after finishing them, I was faced with the possibility of not being able to share them. Have you ever felt that you had something to share, but could not? A secret you promised not to reveal, an expression of love for somebody, a joy which might be an embarrassment to tell to others? The degree to which we open up to others reveals much about our character. Too much and it becomes annoying, too little and we are accused of being reticent, and just enough becomes endearing. I have been on the annoying end of the scale most of my life, I'm afraid.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Friday, March 7, 2008
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
"FORGIVENESS IS THE FRAGRANCE THE VIOLET SHEDS UPON THE HEEL THAT CRUSHES IT."