Feathers, Scales, and Quotes

Heavenly Sunshine!

A clear blue morning is a joy to behold, especially here on the prairies where our sky is so “right up there.”  Some parts of Sask. are tabletop-flat but this area has some ripples to it, so our sky straggles up through the woods beside us and comes to earth again just beyond that little rise a mile to the west.  North to south we can probably see five miles.  Ten if you look straight up.  (I’m guessing. ☺)

As I mentioned, the tree swallows came back two weeks ago and have been hunting for potential nests ever since–except for our house guests.  We were rather disappointed that the others seemed uninterested in the new digs we hung to accommodate them, but last night as I walked through the garden I saw one come winging over the trees, make a few loops above me, and land on the bird house we attached to the garden shed.  Then it popped in and stayed in, so likely it has claimed the place.

The goldfinches appeared at our finch feeder for the first time on Wednesday; Bob started hearing the brown thrashers then, too.  One of the Villa residents saw a hummingbird at her feeder yesterday morning; two more nectar feeders went up today.  The snipe has been hanging out at the slough west of us, along with various ducks, for a couple of weeks already.  Last week we started seeing phalaropes, avocets, willets and killdeer.

Garage sale signs have sprouted in various towns, too; every Friday a number of them decorate strategic street corners.  Outlook had their town-wide sale May 5-6; Delisle, this Saturday.  Our daughter and her sisters-in-law set up tables beside the rink in Delisle; Bob took some of our stuff there, too, while I babysat the grandchildren.  The sun beamed down on their efforts all day so by closing time they were all quite pink.

These past few days brought our first long sunny spell and the trees responded to the warmth.  Last week we could see traces of green in the woods, now we see the LEAVES.

Monday Morning Motivation:
One small note of discord on this lovely spring morning: I woke up with a slight backache again.  This started last week already; part of the problem is that I’ve regularly forgotten to take my glucosamine.  If I don’t take it at least twice a day I wake up with a severe back of the neck headache and my arthritis becomes a real pain.

However, if I stepped on the bathroom scales I’d have part of the answer, too.  I’ve often heard the saying: “Some folks choose the destination and accept the way that will get them there; others choose the way and accept the destination.”  When it comes to fitness, I have to admit that I’ve too often chosen the way (of least resistance) rather than the destination (of physical fitness.)

However, I’ve reached the land of ‘Pushing Sixty’ and I’m not liking the stiff & sore terrain.  Bumps feel rougher; I find it’s taking more muscle power than I have to get up some of these hills!  Digging up the flower beds is looking iffy right now.

So, is it possible to put my vehicle in reverse at this point?  But then I’d have to take another, more disciplined way.  Get some exercise.  Apply some dietary restrictions.  Gulp!

Oh, well.  “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”  Being inclined to see all the TO DO’s through a dark cloud of despair, I often use this verse to pull myself together and get started.

Another wise saying I often apply: “Little and often make a heap in time.”  A twenty-minute walk twice a day carries a promise of better shape if done often enough.  (Here I need to say a hearty “Thank You” to those of you who have made such encouraging comments and posts about restoring order and getting fit.  I need all the motivation I can get. :))

They also say that “Insanity is when you keep on doing the same thing and expect a different result.”  Time to quit saying “Someday I’m going to…” and procrastinating a little longer.  I need to choose a new routine, a determined destination.


Hello, World–Here I Am!

It takes two people to make a child, or a family; in my case they were Allen Vance and Louise Harmon.  Wilfred Allen was born to Allen & Emily (Turner) Vance.  Grandma came out West to teach school and married a local farmer, as many teachers did in those days.  As a young boy my dad was Willie; he took the name Allen after his father died.

Grandpa Vance was killed in a threshing accident when my dad was quite young, leaving Grandma Vance a widow with six children to raise.  In 1924 there were few employment opportunities for women and the Great Depression came just six years later.  Grandma found work as a housekeeper or school teacher, but those were HARD times.

Louise Harmon was born to Floyd and Thelma (Falconer) Harmon near St Brieux, SK.  When my mother was two years old, her mother died of breast cancer.  Apparently before Grandma Harmon died, she begged Grandpa to “put Louise in a Home”, so obviously there was a problem from birth.  “Louise isn’t very bright,” people would have said.  Various complications during birth and infections shortly after, easily enough rectified nowadays, left some children with irreversible brain damage.  I believe my mother was one of these.

Their family was dirt poor–in fact a relative told me he could remember the children waiting for the chickens to lay a few eggs so they’d have something to eat for breakfast.  Grandpa chose to keep Louise at home, but she became a severely abused child.  (Remember Oliver Twist:  Mr. Bumble giving Oliver a crack across the head “to make him wise.”  That was the cure for slow wits in those days and my mother got more than her share of cracks across the head–with frying pans even.)

Dad Vance was a railroad labourer when he met my mother.  His mother and sister begged him to reconsider‒or at least wait‒but he loved her then and ever after.  (Sad to say, it didn’t make him faithful ever after.)

Dad V never had a driver’s licence but operated with horses all his working years.  He was a farm labourer, day labourer, drayman, whatever would bring in a little money.  According to various relatives Louise tried to keep house when they were first married, but was so discouraged by Allen messing up whatever she’d done that she gave up.  Or perhaps it was the children coming almost every year.  So Mom V spent her time in the local bar.  From all reports, they fought like cats & dogs.

I was born in Melfort, Saskatchewan, the second of seven children: my brother Jim is 11 months older than I; my sister Donna 2 ½ years younger; brother Martin was next but he died shortly after birth; there were a couple of miscarriages somewhere in between; my sister Rose is 5 years younger; my sister Wilma 6 years younger; my sister Lorraine 11 years younger.

A couple may be able to produce children but not have a clue about the care & feeding of the creatures.  My Mom V, coming from mental health & severe abuse issues, was barely functional as a person, never mind a mother.  I was born with low blood pressure, so spent a bit longer in the hospital than the average baby.  Then when my parents took me home Mom was nursing me, but I wasn’t getting enough and was crying all the time.

One day my folks were visiting Dad V’s sister Myrtle and her husband, Fred Forsyth; my aunt & uncle took note of my plight and brought me a bottle of milk, which I devoured.  They offered to keep me for awhile until I should be “filled up a bit.”  They looked after me for a few weeks and then gave me back to my parents.

From what they’ve told me since, Allen & Louise went to a ball game and left me, a three-month old baby, on a blanket on the cold sand while they visited &/or played ball.  I landed up in the hospital with pneumonia.  Uncle Fred & Aunt Myrtle came to see me and a welfare worker suggested that they take me before I died of neglect.  “If she knows us,” my uncle & aunt said to each other, “we’ll take her.”  Well, I didn’t know them, but I recognized their twelve-year-old son, Verne.  So they took me home and, to all intents and purposes, became Dad and Mom to me.

They did a fair bit to look after the rest of the children, too, as they came along.  Mom F was Dad V’s favourite sister‒the two were always very close‒so we had close ties over the years.  For several years Mom & Dad V had a small trailer on Dad F’s farmyard; we children went back and forth.  My brother Jim and I were very close and played together a lot.  After we moved to the city, my siblings came to spend a month every summer, or I would go back there.

Various financial and health problems troubled Dad F, as well as problems between him and Mom.  The Vance family was a financial drain, too, as Mom did what she could for her brother’s children.  They left the farm for a year when I was four: Dad took a job on a ranch in BC; Mom worked in a tomato-canning factory at Ashcroft.  They left the farmstead in care of Dad & Mom Vance–and came home to a disaster.  Mom F said it was so hard to find her lovely tea towels used as diapers!

Their son Verne was an issue between them, too.  He was born just before Dad F left for the War, so was over four years old before the two met again.  Of course Verne was very close with his mother.  Dad F had a bad relationship with his own father and never liked boys.  (He told me once that his dad never had anything for them but the toe of his boot.)  This did not bode well; he was probably just as hard on Verne.  I often think sadly of that little boy waiting four years for a daddy to come home from the war, then the man who arrived was so unloving.

Mom & Dad F came to a parting of the ways for several years.  Mom went off to the nearest town, Melfort, to earn the money the farm wasn’t making.  She probably took Verne with her; I’m not sure.  Later she and Verne went to the city of Saskatoon where she found work in a hospital kitchen.  During that time I stayed with Dad, then Mom took me to the city as well.  This broke my daily contact with my brother and younger sisters.  Last of all Dad came, too.

To Be Continued…

Welcome to My World

The Big 5-0

According to this little box on the right, I now have 50 followers.  Fifty people–plus four e-mail followers–who want to hear my thoughts and read about my life’s experiences.  Wow!

This morning I want to say a special Hello, Welcome, and Thanks to all of you.  Thank you for being interested in what I have to say.  Thank you for all the LIKES and comments.  (Sometimes I wonder if I’ll run out of things to write.  Other times I wonder how I’ll ever find time to cover every idea that I WANT to write.)

Having checked out most of your blogs, I’m surprised that some of you who have such different interests want to read about my point of view.  Some of you started following because you liked my poetry or humor, some liked my history, some liked the serious, spiritual side.  Sometimes I  toy with the idea of having separate sites for each genre and posting once a week on each one–but maybe you all like this mix of mine?

One thing we all have in common: we’re here in this world and we’re passing through.  Too fast, it seems!  At times life feels like a conveyor belt: new little faces are appearing constantly at the one end, then we hear that our friends’ grandchildren are moving along and getting married already!  All the while time is carrying us closer to the day we jump off–or fall off–at the other end.  “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

This morning the first two verses of Habakkuk Chapter 2 caught my eye.
“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.  And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.”

My personal paraphrase:
I’m a messenger for the King, standing watch on the tower and listening, waiting for whatever message He wants to send out.  When I receive a message from Him, I need to write it clearly and hold it high so those who must carry it away to other places can read it and run with the news.  I must someday give an answer for how I’ve treated any message He has entrusted to me.

I’ve come a long way from where I was born to where I am now; I’d like to share some of that journey with you in future posts.  My prayer is that God can use what I write to bless each one of you with sense of His love and His holiness.  I also believe that humor is good for the heart and poetry is an exercise for the mind.  History helps us see our own lives in perspective if we think we have it so bad.

Day-to-day life holds some intrigue, too.  A few minutes ago I heard a crash.  I hurried to the dining room to see some of my African violets & broken saucers on the floor, our wiry black Angus all over the windowsill trying to catch that swallow.  He’s back and as determined as before that he will get in!

It’s a foggy day; he’s not scrapping with his reflection.  His mate was watching calmly from her perch on the bird feeder pole, as before.  (Or HER mate.  It could spark quite a discussion whether this persistent window-bashing is female behaviour or male. 🙂 )

Maybe somewhere in its journey it banged its head one too many times?  But if it doesn’t fear cats any more than it appears to right at this moment, its lifespan will be short!  Will you say a prayer together with me that this addle-pated bird will find the birdhouse we put up yesterday before it becomes lunch.

Friday the 13th–and good news

Heat?  A Stove?  Whatever For?

A little story to give you a chuckle:  This comes from the days when stoves were being installed to heat the churches in Scotland.  Of course this bit of creature-comfort or “catering to the flesh” met with resistance from some of the older folks.

One elderly woman declared firmly that there was no need for heat in the church.  The old ways were good ways; her forefathers didn’t have heated churches and what was good enough for them was good enough for her.  But she was outnumbered by the more self-indulgent ones in the congregation and a stove was duly installed.

The next Sunday was a cold day, so this old Grandmother came to church as warmly wrapped as ever–if not more so.  After the first hymns she removed her heavy coat with a flourish.  After the opening prayer, in another protest against the unnecessary heat, she discarded her thick sweater.

When the minister stood up to bring the message, Grandma put on her star performance: she took off her wool scarf, mopped the sweat from her brow and fell over in a faint.  This little act made the statement–and caused the sensation–she’d hoped.  Several members rushed to assist her.

As an usher helped her out of the church, he whispered in her ear, “If you’re so hot today, Mrs.-, what will ever happen to you next Sunday when we actually light the stove?”

I had a very hard time making a post yesterday; it took me several hours just to log in and a dozen tries before I could get through.  My connection was reset as soon as I hit the “Publish” button.  Do you have days like that?

Was it the wind?  Was WordPress that busy?  Do I have a virus?  Time will tell, I guess, but if I have to stop doing posts on this blog you’ll find a note about it on my website: christinegoodnough.ca.

I was excited to receive word Wednesday that one of my poems was chosen for a prize in the last Utmost Christian Writers Poetry Contest.  They’ve asked for a bit of bio and what prompted this poem, so I spent part of this morning writing that – which may never be used, but just in case.  Winners aren’t announced until tomorrow evening, so I’m sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to know how it placed.

If you’re interested in poetry with a Christian theme, you can check out their website: utmostchristianwriters.com.

And now a P.S. to my weekend Journal:
Melvin went back into the hospital Wednesday with a touch of pneumonia and a ruptured Baker’s cyst that made his lower leg very painful.  Today is his 78th birthday–not a great way to spend it.  Sounds like he’ll be able to come home tomorrow, though.  And Ken is slowly recovering, too.

Journal Pages: Easter Sunday & Monday

We enjoyed our Sunday morning service; a visiting brother shared a dream he had, one that illustrated to him how our debt has been pardoned.  Jesus paid it all; His sacrifice atoned for all our sins.  This dream was very meaningful to him and he managed to convey it so we could all appreciate it, too.

All over North America and in many other countries, this is a day for rejoicing, for proclaiming the good news of Christ’s resurrection.  Christian churches worldwide are celebrating Jesus’ victory over sin and death.  I had to wonder, though: as God looks down from heaven, is He pleased?

Yes, I’m sure He’s delighted that His Son is being so honoured, but what about the “one fold, one shepherd” unity Jesus came to establish?  “Christianity” has broken into so many small groups divided by doctrine, interpretation of scriptures, charismatic personalities, etc.  A person can put a lot of effort into worship and praise, but the question came to mind: are we doing the actual FOLLOWING that would unite us and please Him more?

I cooked at the Villa Sunday.  Frank & Wilbert were the only residents at the table, but we invited Ken’s family to join us: (his brother) Paul & Suzanne and baby; his sisters Carol & Becky.  And they were babysitting for Michelle, so they brought along three of our grandchildren.  We invited another older couple, too, so we were a nice-sized group.  Frank was the only resident home for the 5:30 pm lunch.

Ken was feeling better Saturday morning, then his fever came back and he was feeling rough after dinner, so they kept him in another day, He was released from the hospital Sunday  afternoon.

Monday morning I waxed poetic about our sufferers and wrote a poem–which I’ll share in another post.  In the afternoon I did some blogging, His Imprint e-mails, finished my dress and did the needed repairs on a couple more.  Things are looking up!

Melvin was released from the hospital Monday afternoon; when I stopped at the Villa in the evening to check on the fish both he and Bertha were home again.  She and I sat and worked on a jigsaw puzzle for awhile.

Melvin was in an accident here; his youngest son & family were in one on their Easter weekend trip.  One of those “I didn’t see him signalling” type accidents.  Thankfully no one was hurt, though their van was scraped all along one side and their little boys in the back got showered with glass from a broken window.  You just never know what a day will bring.

This concludes my recap of our interesting Easter weekend, which can be summed up in the following quote:
“Life is odd, with its twists and turns, As every one of us sometimes learns…”
Author Unknown

Pages from My Journal: Last Monday to Thursday

Trips to Town, Trumpeter Swans, Geese, Germs, Grandchildren

Monday I joined the other Christian writers in Saskatoon for our usual monthly meeting.  We went over last minute details for the One-Day Writers Conference on April 28th.  The time is rapidly approaching; I’m supposed to send out reminders about the “Early Bird” special fee to everyone on our mailing list.

Much as I would have loved to spend time writing articles for my sites, Tues & Wed found me at the sewing machine working on a new dress.  My wardrobe has been failing in quality and quantity over the past months so I had to dedicate some time to its replenishment.  I prefer cotton, more comfortable for daily wear, but it wears out fast, so dresses need frequent replacing.

Thursday morning I arranged to meet my cousin in Saskatoon to help her with some business.  You never realize how difficult life can be for a person who can’t read and write until you actually know one and see how they struggle.  I want to enlarge on this subject in a later post, but I will say here that if you teach ONE PERSON to read, you’ve saved them a lifetime of frustration.

I was outside early that morning spreading seed for a stop-over flock of redwing blackbirds when a dozen trumpeter swans flew low over the edge of our property.  They settled on the big slough NW of us (no more than a quarter mile away) joining some others already there.  Later I saw another flock join them, so by noon there were about 40 in all.

To envision our location, think of a right angle triangle with a small cube taken out of the 90° angle.  That’s our few rented acres–hectares, if you’re into metric.  We’re nestled against the small woods that divide our site from our farmer neighbour to the east who owns this land.  The rest of the triangle surrounding us has been pasture; he broke it last fall so maybe it will be crop this summer.

Railroad tracks run along the longest side of this triangle; our neighbours to the west have about ½ section of pasture for their horses, most of this being swampy or slough.  The bottom side of the triangle is a gravel road.  South of their pasture across the road is more pasture, with another slough beside the road.  (With all the spring rains last year the water in these two sloughs rose up to lap at the sides of the gravel road, something no one in these parts had ever seen before.)

On the way to the city Thursday I saw a few other swans on other ponds, plus about ten acres of mixed assorted geese.  Snow geese usually travel together with Brant’s geese so these foraging flocks are ‘salt & pepper’; a bunch of Canada geese were hanging out at one edge as well.  These birds glean their way through various grainfields as they head north and the pickings must be pretty good.  Farmers dread their arrival in fall.

Since I was up early, when I got home Thursday afternoon I had a long nap.  Then the phone rang: our daughter Michelle wondered if I could keep their girls.  Her husband Ken and their baby Evan (16 months) were both ill and needed to see a doctor.  So I had a good time together with my grand-daughters until their parents returned in the evening.  Evan has ear infection; Ken has strep throat.

Betwixt and between them all they’ve had a lot of doctor visits in the past three months.  All the children have had flu and ear infections; Tammy’s ear drum ruptured a few weeks back.  Ken has been battling this sore throat for months; his Dad had ear infection last week.  The grandchildren have even given me a flu (four weeks ago) and a cold that I’ve finally gotten over.☹

I was watering all my African violets when the girls were here and they informed me that I have too many plants.  How well I know!  I’ve a few more violets to divide–that should give me about a dozen more plants.  (My Walmart rescue special keeps giving and giving. :))  One of these days I may “lose it” and dump them all.

To be continued…

Who Will Love Me When I’m Dying?

“Joan?” the nurse called from the waiting room doorway. “Is Joan here?” We all glance up to see a woman of about forty get up from her seat and follow the nurse. She looked healthy enough now. What kind did she have? How long ago?

This is the Cancer Clinic and we are all here for our regular checkups. Mine is once a year, thanks be, but many of the people sitting here are still having checkups every three or six months. Some are having weekly chemotherapy like I did way back when.

All of us seated there feel a varying degree of uneasiness–perhaps dread. At one point our lives have all been jarred by those unforgettable words: “It’s cancer.” And having heard them once, we know that we could hear them again.

I gaze around the room and see people weak and pale, with thin hair, some wearing a wig; it’s apparent that they are still in the early stages of recovery–or death. With others it’s not quite as visible and some, like myself, appear to be in perfect health. How long ago did they go through it? Will they get a clean bill of health this time? Will I?

Going in for my checkups I can’t help but think back to my bout with cancer. Can it be that ten years have passed since I heard those awful words? Actually, I had to squeeze it out of my doctor; he would have preferred mumbling vague terms like “malignant tumor” until I asked him point blank, “If it’s malignant, then it’s cancer?”

He was a young doctor, not hardened to suffering; this was tough for him.  He looked away for a moment, then said through clenched teeth, “Yes, then it’s cancer.”

Initially he had tried to reassure me that “it’s probably just a cyst, nothing to worry about,” but he knew right away that the truth would be much more painful. By my second visit we both knew it.  I asked him what the surgery would do to me and he made an attempt to explain about the operation and the scar, but he soon faded away into silence. It wouldn’t be nice.

The “valley of the shadow of death” was a dark one, but the Lord held my hand all the way and I praise Him for it. I had surgery, then a heavy dose of chemotherapy which made me lose my hair, but I was never horribly nauseated like some people. The worst was the depression that followed several months after the treatments, but even then the Lord was there to help me when I got really down. I am alive today and very thankful for the modern medical “miracles” that happen every day.

On one of those chemotherapy days, when I was called in for my treatment the nurse found the room occupied by another patient. The nurse told me, “We’ll move Mrs… to another room and you can go in here.”

Soon a very thin lady in a wheel chair was brought out of the treatment room; as they passed me at the door I heard her say to the nurse, “I want to ask the doctor how much time I have left.”

The nurse answered, “They really can’t say, Mrs… They just don’t know these things for sure.”

I looked down as the nurse wheeled her by and saw this tiny person wasted away to skin and bones because of the disease and/or the treatment. It was apparent to us all that she would not see many more days in this world.

When Isaiah writes about Jesus he calls Him “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…” Referring to Jesus’ death on the cross, he prophesied that “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

I read these verses one day and envisioned Jesus dying on the cross. Then I remembered the sight of that tiny lady who was wheeled past me. The Lord showed me something that has been a comfort to me all these years since.

We all want to die healthy, to go quietly, peacefully. A heart attack maybe–preferably just fall asleep and never wake up. Nothing traumatic, no suffering, nothing that will waste us away in mind or body, no incapacitating surgeries. Spare us all that!

But we all know of dear friends and loved ones who suffered terribly and perhaps their form was even so changed or disfigured that it was hard to look at them. We know it happens and we all wonder at times if that will be our lot someday.

“Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:4-6

At this time of year we’re focusing on how Jesus submitted Himself to the cross, how He suffered that we might be reconciled to our Heavenly Father. To Christians the cross represents death–the death of our Lord and also death to our SELF. The Bible tells us that if we would be a child of God we must die to selfish desires and goals, to pride and hurt feelings. We must even die to our own human reasoning, to our right to determine our own path through life. We surrender it ALL to God.

The day I discovered I had cancer all my hopes, my goals, the plans we had made for the future, these all died. At that time I looked at cancer as a death sentence: if you have cancer you’re history! I was not afraid, though, for I believed that the blood of Jesus Christ covered my sins. I felt very unworthy, yet I knew that Jesus had paid the price for my salvation and the pearly gates would swing open for me because of the reconcilliation He had accomplished on the cross.

I could almost see into Heaven! Seldom has it felt so near to me as it did in those few days before I saw the surgeon! But once I saw him I got a different picture: I realized that cancer is treatable, that I was going to live, but that my life would be different. From then on I would have a cross to carry. I remember how heavy it looked when I first saw it and how hard I thought it would be to carry–but it has turned out to be a very light one.

Who knows what may someday come to pass? Someday I might be old and weary of life; I may be senile; I may be seriously ill. I may be disfigured by disease. Yet those verses from Isaiah tell me that if I will embrace the cross today and the death that it represents, then in my hour of need the Lord will embrace me.

If I commit my life to Him today He will never forsake me; He will love me and stay by my side even if I look so awful my own loved ones have to turn away.  And when it’s over He will carry me over death’s sea to those “many mansions” we read about in John 14:1-3.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23: 4,6