Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Hate My Cat and I Feel Guilty (part 5)

Lately I’ve silenced my plots and plans to remove Frieda from the family. I quietly clean up the hairballs, scoop out the litter box, and buy the special $10 bag of hairball-control cat food. Sometimes I even talk to Frieda and feed her when Elizabeth isn’t around.

They say when you bury something inside, this something has a tendency to make itself known. Is it a coincidence that lately everything I buy is either black or white?

New Black Fridge with pictures of grandkids on it.

New couch with nobody on it.

New white marble stones.

New door mat.

Moral of the story: black and white is gray.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Hate My Cat and I Feel Guilty (part 4)

(Continued from previous post)

Not all our family members look at Frieda with hate in their eyes. Amanda kisses the top of her head. Elizabeth lovingly feeds her after only two reminders.

So, I met considerable resistance when I suggested expelling Frieda from the family—you know the way we used to do things down on the farm—one day there would be five kittens and the next day there were none. A dog knocked my mother off the front step and we never saw him again. My dad loved my mom.

Well, the grandkids left and so did my plans to evict Frieda. But, just as my grandkids are still my grandkids, even though they are growing and playing two provinces away; my desire to end relationship with Frieda is still alive, though squelched.

This desire coughs out like a hairball at odd moments. Among the requests for earrings and books on my birthday wish list, my family found a request for Frieda on a platter at the Waterdown animal shelter. Elizabeth gave me a picture and let me know this would be the extent of the fulfillment of my evil wish.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I Hate My Cat and I Feel Guilty (part 3)

(continued from previous post)

Next I tried to give Frieda to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). My logic: Frieda and I in the same household appeared to be a cruel situation. The SPCA presented red tape. They required a $100 fee for taking the cat, and only if upon assessment they considered her adoptable.

“What if she’s not adoptable? Would you put her down?”

This woman sounded more appalled than the veterinarian’s receptionist, “We are not a kill center.”

I was obviously scooping the wrong litter box.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I Hate My Cat and I Feel Guilty (part 2)

Looks can be deceiving
(continued from previous post)

Evicting a cat permanently is not simple. Arranging a human abortion might be easier. First of all, I can’t give the cat away. She’s not a very friendly cat or the sort of gift I want to be associated with.

I phoned the office of the veterinarian who had given her shots. I explained about the grandkids, the cat’s disposition and then gently asked the receptionist if the vet could possibly shoot Frieda one more time.

“How old is your cat?”

“Almost three.”

She sounded appalled, “We don’t kill healthy young animals. Tell me, do you like the cat?”

“Not particularly.” I admitted.

“Well, that’s your problem. Cats can feel it if someone doesn’t like them.”

Astute as ever, I realized I was scratching at the wrong post. I didn't bother asking for the vet.

I Hate My Cat and I Feel Guilty

Frieda the cat. Isn't she beautiful?

Why do I hate Frieda the cat? She leaves black and white hairs everywhere—black hairs for our white clothes and white hairs for our black clothes. She’s always hungry. I have to clean the kitty litter. And the greatest sin of all: she doesn’t get along with my grandchildren.

Angela and kids. Aren’t they darling?
When our oldest daughter, Angela, and her two children came from Saskatchewan to visit, Frieda hissed at two-year-old Owen. She even attempted to bite him. Frieda may have done these things because Owen maybe tried to touch her.
Whatever, no cat is going to get away with mistreating my grandson. Owen was upset, Angela was upset and Goma (that’s what Owen calls me—isn’t he cute?) instantly decided to evict Freida.
Freida was relegated to the laundry room, until we could come up with a more permanent, practicable solution.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Eenie Meenie Minie Moe

Thanks everyone (including facebook friends) for your help. One of these four will end up on the Word Alive "About the Author" page. I'd totally appreciate help narrowing it down to one. My husband put his vote in for number two.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

HELP! Which Picture Do I Choose?

Word Alive, my publisher, is doing an "About the Author" page. They need a picture of me to go with the description. I would appreciate advice. Which picture should I choose and why?

1) peaking over Bible, just eyes
2) eyes and nose peaking over Bible
3) blue shirt and daisies

4) brick wall, holding book open

5) brick wall, blue shirt, holding book open, most of me except feet
6)brick wall, blue shirt, lots of books

7) yellow shirt, brick wall, lots of books
8) yellow shirt, brick wall, no books

9) yellow shirt, reading book in front of daisies
10) blue shirt, holding Bible on heart
11) yellow shirt, in front of daisies
12) I don't know, figure it out yourself
Photography courtesy of Diane Elms

Serendipity? God's Guidance?

(continued from previous post)

Late Monday morning I got around to revisiting the site of the Sunday garage sale. I rang the doorbell at the house. A woman answered. I noticed a crucifix on the wall. I asked about golf bags. Well, they had all sold for $5 each. But, she had a friend who was buying a new golf bag and would possibly sell me her old green one. We chatted a bit. She took my name and number.

I asked her if she wanted to buy my book. “It’s my spiritual journey through the years as my kids are growing up.”

“I’ll buy it for my mom,” she said. Just like that. She handed me a twenty and I handed her one of the books I carry around in my vehicle for occasions such as this.

God is good.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Should I Buy that Golf Bag?

(continued from previous post)

Before breakfast Sunday morning on my way to reunite a fifth squirrel with his four peanut-loving buddies, I spotted a garage sale with several golf bags. I knew someone who needed a golf bag. In fact, I had promised to keep my eyes open for an inexpensive secondhand golf bag.

But, I didn’t have time to stop at a garage sale. I really didn’t have time to do this squirrel thing either, but I didn’t want to leave the squirrel in the trap while our family spent the day at a church picnic.

On the way back from dropping the squirrel off--as I drove by the garage sale once again--I felt a strong urge to stop, but talked myself out of it. It’s part of my religious upbringing not to do business on Sunday. Besides, breakfast was waiting.

setting up for the church service

Later in the day, during the short sermon on relationship versus religion, I decided I would revisit the site of the garage sale to find out if all the golf bags had actually sold. Possibly I could still get one.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Squirrel Challenge

Squirrel number five trapped

For several weeks now I’ve been trapping squirrels out in the backyard. This embarrasses certain individuals. “Mom, the neighbours are going to think you are strange.”

I use a live trap and shelled peanuts. The reason I am trapping squirrels and relocating them several kilometers away is because there is a squirrel (or two) frequenting our attic. Rather than climb into the attic to catch the specific culprit(s), I’m attempting to trap all the squirrels on our property. That’s quite a challenge as we live across from a park bordered by large oak trees, full of squirrels.
New home for squirrels.
Is this effective? Is it legal? Will the squirrels appreciate their new home? Do the neighbours think I'm strange? Is it possible to find out where the squirrels are entrancing the attic? If anyone has answers to these questions, let me know.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Downs of Camping

(continued from previous post)

Dusk on the River

Other Low lights

  • Listening to the caw caw caw caw caw caw caw caw cawww caw cawww caw of the crows very early in the morning
  • Singeing my favourite jean jacket on the camp stove while trying to warm up myself up while boiling water for morning coffee
  • Tripping over the sign on the way into church
  • Needing help getting up after tripping on the way into church
  • Tripping while taking down the tent and making the same groaning noise I made on the way into church
  • Almost tripping on the way into the restaurant

Fortunately there aren’t pictures of these low lights.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Ups and Downs of Camping (part 4)

(continued from previous post)

Lesser Lights
reading a book with more twists and turns than the campground road, and more words than necessary and some of them in the wrong order

driving Carp Road between our camp and Ottawa a few times too many
looking for the Diefenbunker
(there aren’t signs if you are coming from the west)

The Diefenbunker - we didn’t go inside because of the two-hour wait


Friday, July 17, 2009

The Ups of Camping

(continued from previous post)

Camping Highlights

Telling stories around the campfire
Roasting marshmallows

A porcupine

Ducklings on a rock

The war museum

Brunch on the terrace overlooking the Rideau
Parking on the boulevard and not getting a ticket
Church at Silver City where we heard Bruxy Cavey preach on Ruth


Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Ups and Downs of Camping (part 2)

(continued from previous post)

The drive up to the Ottawa area was pleasant enough. It didn’t rain. The scenery was scenic. Elizabeth and her friend played on their DS (double screen) and read and didn’t complain when Marty and I put on our worship CD.

Six hours later, we pulled up to site 240 in the Twin Pines area, a rather spongy campsite with a puddle in the middle. First decision: let’s go ask for another site. Well, there were only two other sites available. After looking at them we decided our puddle wasn’t so bad. At least we knew where not to put the tents.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Ups and Downs of Camping

Marty loading up the van for the camping trip.

When I informed Mrs. Z. that our family would be away for about a week on a camping holiday in the Ottawa area—convenient for visiting our son and his wife—she questioned, “That’s to save money?”

“No, we like camping,” I sounded somewhat defensive even to myself. This must have had something to do with the weather forecast: rainy and cold.

“Of course,” she said in that ‘I know better’ voice she sometimes uses.

I spent Wednesday afternoon and evening shopping and packing, adjusting my list according to the forecast:
umbrella - yes
playing cards - yes
board games - yes
bathing suit - no
sweatshirts - yes
socks - yes
...everything for a wonderful wet time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Holy Spirit in My Life

pruned story

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us....” Romans 12:6a (NIV)

When I visited the Toronto Vineyard in the mid-nineties, a member of the prayer team prayed I would receive the gift of prophetic intercession. After that, praying became my favourite pastime. I liked to pray all day long, especially while doing mundane tasks like ironing, folding laundry, vacuuming or dusting. Sometimes I would pray in tongues.

A concern or a person’s name would pop into my head; or I would meet someone who could use a prayer. One day, I met a friend. “Marian,” she said, “Someone told me you know what to do about blocked tear ducts.” My friend looked at me, her eye askew–the whole area beside her nose painfully swollen.

As babies, four of my children had blocked tear ducts: that made me an expert. “You massage it like this,” I said, poking my finger at the swollen corner of her eye.

“Ahwwww!” she pulled away, wincing.

I’ll pray for it,” I offered lamely.

That afternoon I prayed that she would be healed.

Later my friend told me how the swelling and soreness had disappeared during a 10-minute afternoon nap the very day we had met.

On another occasion, I prayed for help finding a bike for Michelle. I decided to look at garage sales in the more well-to-do areas of town. While sitting in the van waiting at an intersection, I noticed a sign for a garage sale at a nearby townhouse complex. I had already disregarded that particular sale, but the Holy Spirit was directing me there.

Michelle and I went and sure enough we found a pink bike, just the right size and in great condition. Michelle liked it immediately. We bought it for $25.

I also perceived the Lord cleaning up my life. When I became confused, thought bad thoughts or had ugly dreams, I knew something was wrong. I would rebuke the evil and examine myself for sins. I reviewed the day. Did I sin while talking to the school principal? To the secretary? To my neighbour? Yes, I did. I told her I would leave Amanda with her 10 minutes when I knew very well it would be more like 30 minutes. I lied.

“Forgive me, Lord. Thank you for paying for that lie on the cross.” Through this process, the Holy Spirit showed me the sinful habits he wanted me to leave behind.

Of course, the Holy Spirit had started working in my life since long before my Vineyard experience, but I was never so aware of Him.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Talking to to Dead ( a novel)

Talking to the Dead
by Bonnie Grove
David C. Cook
Colorado Springs, CO
368 pages

10 Things I Like About This Novel
  1. It's serious
  2. It's humorous
  3. I care about the characters, even the dead guy Kevin who I don't like
  4. It's mostly believable
  5. The author understands people
  6. There's suspense
  7. There's drama
  8. There's romance
  9. It's Canadian
  10. It's well-written

I've lent out my copy twice already and I've only had it a few weeks.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Trials of Pool Ownership

A pruned story
When I started repairing the major leak in our in-ground, metal-walled, vinyl-lined pool I knew exactly what I was doing–or so I thought.

A diver with a reliable Dutch name had showed Marty and me where water was seeping out of the pool at an alarming rate and welling up between the vinyl liner and the metal pool wall. He pointed out how someone had used three chrome-plated screws and one ordinary screw to hold the white plastic ring-plate at the jet opening where the water circulated into the pool from the filter. Of course the ordinary screw had rusted and was likely a major source of the problem. The diver advised us to lower the water level to below the jet-opening and then to replace the rusted screw as well as the washer behind the plate. “It’s not a big deal, you could do it yourself,” he said as he looked at Marty.

Marty was rather tied up with accounting work when the water had drained to the required level, so I picked up the challenge. After all, it was not a “big deal,” we’d been told.

Leaning over the edge of the pool I reached two feet down to the jet opening and easily removed the three chrome-plated screws and then attacked the offending rusted one. I had to use a vise-grip and some elbow grease but I got that sucker out, in two pieces, mind you. I then took the plate and the chrome screws to the pool shop where they sold me a matching screw, a washer, and a piece of vinyl liner to ensure a watertight seal at the jet opening.

I glued this vinyl in place, waited a day and then neatly screwed on the plate. There was only one problem: a quarter inch gap between the end of the pipe leading to the jet and the metal pool wall. I removed the plate and tried again. At this point Marty came out and offered help, but I stubbornly told him I had everything under control.

As the metal wall of the pool was encased with little stones, I figured one of these had slipped between the end of the jet pipe and the pool. All I had to do was dislodge this stone. I could just get my index finger through the jet opening and around in between the end of the pipe and the metal wall. I pulled out a stone and then another and another. Pretty soon I had a pile of stones six inches high, bleeding knuckles and a pipe so dislodged from its original position that even a determined optimist like myself had to throw up her hands in defeat.

Surprisingly, Marty was very understanding. I think the blood on my knuckles helped. Together we decided the best course of action would be to call the pool shop and let the experts handle the situation. About a week later, two young fellows showed up, cut a neat hole in the cement deck and shovelled out the stones above the pipe. They discovered that a flanged coupling at the end of the pipe had been mistakenly installed outside the pool wall rather than where it belonged inside the pool wall to anchor the pipe firmly into the wall. Once this was corrected, they shovelled the stones back over the pipe and left, promising to call a vinyl repair expert.

After this fellow fused a new piece of vinyl in place and reassembled the jet opening, we refilled the pool. Then I set about my major skill–vacuuming. Halfway through this process the motor on the pump cut out. At this point our family left on a two-day holiday.

When we came back, we called a mechanical friend who took the motor apart and found five small stones wedged inside. Now, how did that happen?

As soon as the weather warms up we’ll send the children to collect the rest of the stones we can see resting at the bottom of the pool in the vicinity of the jet opening.

Moral of the story: Self-appointed is not anointed.

Spelunking We Went

North America has the Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone Park. Hamilton has 'the Mountain' and Eramosa Karst.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Five Ways I Celebrated Canada Day

1) Put Paper Canada Flag (distributed to me at the request of Prime Minister Stephen Harper himself) in front window.

2) Worked. It's very Canadian to work on a holiday. Some people make double time and a half that way.

3) Played Cards (Crazy Eight Countdown and Spoons).

4) Served Nasi Goreng, an Indonesian Dish brought to Canada by Dutch immigrants, with Carrot Cake for dessert (Canada, Canadian, Carrot, Cake).

5) Watched Fireworks at the Bay Front.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How to Wash and Rinse a Dirty Winter Pool Cover



Thank you God.

Fifth Baby

A Pruned Story
In the late 80’s for about three years, our three oldest children asked repeatedly, whenever it occurred to them, “Mom, when are we going to have another baby?” Or they have suggested, “We should have another baby!” And, they have wondered, “Do you think we'll have another baby?”

I let it be known their little sister, Michelle, would always be my baby no matter how old she became. Being pregnant, getting up in the night, and dirty diapers were three things I was grateful to see relegated to the past. Besides, I had given all the baby clothes away.

So when the doctor confirmed our suspicion that, yes, we were indeed receiving another gift from the Lord, I had some explaining to do.

It crossed my mind to make a special dinner, light candles and formally announce to the children, “We are going to have a baby.” Marty wondered if they could keep the secret long enough to give us a chance to follow proper new-baby-protocol and tell our parents, before the rest of the world found out. Yet, we didn't want to tell our parents immediately as a certain amount of discretion was required on that front: in their day being pregnant was almost as private as getting that way.

We knew that four-year-old Michelle would be absolutely useless at keeping the secret as she proved when I let her help wrap the gifts on Marty's birthday.

She watched as I wrapped the books, socks, underwear, and a tie. I instructed, “Don't tell Daddy.” I even drilled her, “What's in here, Michelle?”

“Socks!” she exclaimed.

“No,” I whispered, “It's a secret. What's in here, Michelle?”

“Secret,” she whispered.

We went through this endlessly with each present. At gift-giving time, Michelle beamed up at her daddy, “That is secret socks.”

A secret was definitely not safe with four-year-old Michelle.

Nevertheless, Marty and I were fairly bursting with the news. After what wasn't a formal candlelight dinner – Marty and Alison were doing the dishes; Paul was busy making a construction-paper person at the kitchen table; Angela and I were in last minute preparation for attending a girl’s club at church where I happened to be the leader of Angela's group; and Michelle was safely upstairs, talking to her stuffed pink rabbit – I gave Marty a questioning look. He winked.

“I know a secret,” I said giving Alison a kiss.

“What is it?” she asked.

Six little ears tuned up.

“It's a family secret.” said Marty.

“Tell us.” the three children chorused.

“Can you keep a secret?”

They all nodded.

“We're going to have a baby!”

“Why?” said Alison in happy astonishment.

I looked at Paul sitting at the table. He had given up asking for another boy in the family.

“We're going to have a baby.” I said to him.

“Why?” he echoed.

“Don't you want a baby?”

“Yes, yes, yes.” all three responded.

That evening, on the short walk over to the church, Angela wondered if she could take care of the baby. She hoped it was a girl. Could it sleep in her room? “Oh, why did you tell? I won't be able to keep it secret.”

“You better,” I warned.

At club Angela made a beeline for her friends. Just before opening exercises, I happened to glance her way. She was in a corner between two companions. One of these two girls, her very best friend, caught my eye, blushed and waved, shouting, “Hi, Mrs. den Boer!” Then she quickly looked away. Angela looked sheepish.

On the way home I confronted Angela. “Did you tell Janice?”

“I told her I had a secret,” she mumbled.

“And?” I said.

“She asked me if my mom was going to have a baby. What could I say?”

And what could I say?

Angela and I have a lot in common: for one thing, to people who really know us, we are open books. All I could do was hug her, thankful that already in grade six she had a close friend.

Early the next morning Paul knocked on the master bedroom door. “Mom, this is for you,” he presented me with his construction-paper person, “for going to have a baby.”

Although I've been through it four times previously, I don't remember pregnancy as being ripe with so many precious moments.

I couldn’t wait to tell Michelle.