Saturday, December 14, 2013

Looking back to summer

I wrote my annual Christmas letter this week.  As I did so, I looked back over 2013, looking back over the highlights.  One of those highlights was my trip to Yellowstone in July.  Rather than waxing poetic about how wonderful it was, here come some of the pictures.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


My mind is filled with images.  Haunting images.  Of devastation.  And of community.

I spent today in High River, helping with flood clean-up.  I wanted to bring my camera.  But I couldn't bring myself to do so.  It just didn't feel right to be taking pictures of the devastation people are suffering.  But the images are seared into my brain.  

- a child's bicycle sitting by the front step of a building that cannot be inhabited right now

- a skate hanging over the edge of a dumpster

- the individuals who came and asked if we were volunteers - who then asked us for their help

- the plastic lid of a rubbermaid tub - labeled photo albums

- a picture frame laying face down on the lawn, with an inscription of love on the back

- the long line of traffic waiting to get into High River, people streaming in to help

- the father and three children who came pulling a wagon and offering snacks and drinks, and the sheer generosity of heart the children (and the father) showed

- the gratitude of the homeowner when he came home to find that his friend had indeed managed to get people to help clean his basement out

- the immense piles of garbage (translation - personal possessions and building materials) piled EVERYWHERE

- a railroad bridge that wasn't a bridge, but just a rail line with nothing supporting it as it crossed the river

- a boat straddling the rail lines

- the twisted rail lines

- the neighbourhood that is still under an incredible amount of water

- the look on my friend's face when I appeared in her friend's basement to help clean it out  (As an aside, I had hoped to see her, but I didn't want to ask to help her.  That's the place where we were sent by the church!  Totally a God-thing.)

- groups of volunteers everywhere

- the total silence in the vehicle all the way back home

- muddy muddy people

- seeing young men I had taught years ago - giving and giving and giving to their community

- camaraderie among strangers who are working for a common cause

- the iridescence of CDs shimmering amidst the brown and gray piles of drywall and insulation pulled from a basement

- a piano sitting on the curb 

- bleachers from a baseball field sitting on a fence

- signs of hope - deep pink peony blossoms ready to open and shining out amidst the pile of rubble being removed through a basement window right beside the bush

So - I'm haunted.  Forever changed.  And feeling blessed.  And, truth be told, a little sore.  But mostly feeling incredibly blessed.

P.S.  The theme of our school year this past year was community building.  There are LOTS of opportunities to put that into action in my home.  And I have been incredibly inspired by the creativity and generosity of people.  I am so proud to call this city my home.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Very Special Card

It was Mother's Day almost two weeks ago.  I am not a mother.  But I am an aunt.  I spent Mother's Day at my parents' house.  Two of my sisters were also there that weekend.  They are not mothers either.  We are very blessed to have seven nephews and nieces in our lives.  One of them found a lovely card and it was delivered to us.  We felt incredibly loved!

I haven't sat down and added more to my "official" list of gifts.  But here are 8 more to add:

- the love of family
- seven absolutely wonderful nephews and nieces!

Quilt Festival - Aunts and Nieces

Last summer I had the wonderful pleasure of helping my niece make a baby quilt for her fiancĂ©'s niece.  It was so much fun going shopping for fabric and working through the process with her.  Looking back on it, the experience was even richer in tradition for us.  The first quilt I ever made was with my aunt.  I was 17 and she helped me make a quilt for my bed, a tied quilt that I still have today!  So my aunt helped me (her niece).  And I helped my niece make a quilt for her (almost) niece.  Spending time together working towards a common goal certainly strengthens relationships.  I am so incredibly thankful for family.

Quilt dimensions - approximately 45" x 60"
backing - lovely soft minkee-like fabric with the lovely dots found in strips on the front
quilted by me

My niece and I have picked out material for her wedding gift quilt.  I am looking forward to the process of making the quilt for the two of them.

Go and check out more quilts at the quilt festival.  Amy's Creative Side - Blogger's Quilt Festival

Quilt Festival - purple majesty

It's time for the blogger's quilt festival again.  I've been enjoying the posts and the inspiration from the quilts!  My list of things to try just keeps getting longer.  Thanks to all!

Here is one of my finished quilts.  It's a quilt I made for a cousin's wedding.  She loves purple, so purple it would be.  I was surprised how hard it was for me to find purples that I liked.  But I LOVE the result.  I kind of want to make another one - for me.  I hope you like it.  But the most important thing to me really is that Alena and Chris like it.  I just love how quilts can bring love to those who receive them.

Quilt made with Rectangle Squared tutorial from Film in the Fridge.  Thank you!
Quilt is approximately 64" square.
Quilted by Devon Lavigne of Prairie Quilt Mercantile

Go and check out more quilts at the quilt Festival.  Amy's Creative Side - Quilt Festival

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Oh what a day!

It was a day to savour.  A day to relish.  A day to delight and absorb.  Spring seems to be here.  And what a gift that is.  I guess when you have to wait for something, when you have to long for something, it is more precious when it comes.  Today was a precious and delight-full day.  A day filled with gifts from God, lots of little gifts that brought a smile to my heart and showed me that God is at work and ever present.  Aaah.  It is good.

My list of gifts continues.....
1795) celebrating Grandma's 97th birthday
1796) time with family
1797) hugs from family
1798) safety on the road
1799) a reliable vehicle
1800) sewing (well, cutting fabric) with my aunt
1801) sewing with friends

1802) an afternoon with a friend
1803) dinner with friends
1804) seeing students make good choices
1805) evidence of learning and growth
1806) encouragement from parents
1807) peace about a decision (most of the time)
1808) a walk with a friend
1809) Scrabble with a friend
1810) the chorus of frogs in the rushes
1811) seeing the frogs

1812) the billowing frogs' eggs in the water

1813) pussy willows
1814) grape hyacinths beginning to bloom
1815) tulip buds
1816) and tulips from the store
1817) home-made granola

1818) a simmering pot of soup on the stove
1819) real food

1820) satisfaction of cleaning up the flower beds
1821) needing to wash dusty soil off myself after yard work
1822) encouragement from a colleague
1823) encouragement and prayers from fellow church members - for my sister
1824) needing sunglasses
1825) having sunglasses
1826) refreshing water
1827) clean sheets
1828) reading

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Twinkle Lights

It's amazing what happens when the piles of books are sorted and organized.  I found a book that I had ordered in the fall.  I was excited to read it, but somehow had forgotten all about it.  Sort of ironic, given the title and the content.  The Gifts of Imperfection:  Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.  I am not one who can keep things all in their places.  Which is why a pile (or two or three) of books even exists.  

Moving on.  I've been making my way through the book. Can't overdo it and do it all at once, you know.  Some things just need time to percolate.  At least they do for me.  Today I read the 4th guidepost - cultivating gratitude and joy. 

Here's one of the sections that jumped out at me today.  

"Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy.  Joy is not a constant.  It comes to us in moments - often ordinary moments.  Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we're too busy chasing down extraordinary moments.  Other times we're so afraid of the dark that we don't dare let ourselves enjoy the light.

A joyful life is not a floodlight of joy.  That would eventually become unbearable.

I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith."  Brene Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection   p. 80 and 81

Here are some of the twinkle lights in my past week.

1775) flowers delivered at school to celebrate two years of being cancer free

1776) the love of family
1777) sewing with friends
1778 - 1785) the process of creating with fabric

1786) dinner with a friend
1787) the beauty of the dinner

1788) hugs from friends
1789) hugs from children
1790) encouragement from parents of students
1791) losing myself in a book
1792) physical health and being able to shovel snow 
1793) inspiration from others
1794) beauty in the colours of food