Saturday, 10 February 2018

Ideas for New Winter Olympic Sports

While out shoveling snow this morning (again!) I came up with some ideas for new sports to add to the Winter Olympics.

  • Slip on the Ice Driveway Luge
  • Road Salt Bag Shotput
  • The Dog Refuses to Go Out So We'll Just Play Frisbee in the Living Room Discus Throw
  • Don't Get Your Wet Boots on My Clean Floor Standing Broadjump
  • Spilled Hot Chocolate in My Lap Curl
  • Shoveling Full Speed Until I Hit the Crack in the Sidewalk Head-over-Heels Flip
  • Can't Pile the Snow Any Higher Shovel Javelin
  • Broke My Kid's Sled Going Over a Jump Downhill Tumble
  • Sneaking Out to the Woodpile in My T-Shirt 50-Meter Dash
and my personal favourite:
  • Trying to Bend Over in 10 Layers of Clothing to Fish my Sock out of My Boot Flexibility Challenge
Think they'll take off?

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Fun with Gematria

I teach a weekly Sunday School class to a bunch of youth age 14 to 18. This week I wanted to jazz things up a bit to catch their interest, so I started the lesson off with a brief Hebrew lesson. And I gave them a couple of fun things to do with Gematria. Because Hebrew characters each have a numerical value, you can add up the letters in a word and get a numerical value for the word itself.

For example, the word for "water," mayim, adds up to a value of 18. So does the word chai, meaning "life." So water equals life. This is certainly true in a desert culture, but it also brings new meaning to John 4:10 when Christ says he would give living water.

As another example, the word for "serpent"(nun cheth shin) adds up to a value of 358. So does the word for "messiah" (mem shin yod cheth). So the serpent represents the messiah (think of the story when Moses lifts up the brazen serpent on the staff for the people to look to and live). And notice that in 3 Nephi when Christ appears to the people, he doesn't tell them he was crucified; he tells them he was "lifted up." It's a reference to the Moses serpent story, and he is declaring himself as the messiah.

However, in Genesis, when Satan tempts Eve, he is also represented as a serpent. So one serpent is fallen, and one is raised up. It makes sense to me, considering Satan wanted to be the messiah. At the great Council in heaven he volunteered to be the saviour of mankind, but on his own terms. And in the Adam and Eve story, we see Satan's still trying to pass himself off as a messiah. He calls himself the god of this world. And there's the serpent image.

This brings another observation to mind. Several times in the scriptures Christ talks about how oft he would gather his people as a chicken gathers her chicks beneath her wings, but they would not. And the letter mem represents a bird or hawk as well as the messiah. So you have both a bird and a serpent representing the messiah. It brings to mind the Mesoamerican feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl.

The kids in the class found it interesting, anyway, and seemed to pay extra attention to the rest of the lesson. I'm not great at Hebrew or Gematria, but I know just enough to realize how many rich treasures enfolded in the scriptures I am missing!

(Gematria references taken from Joe Sampson in Written by the Finger of God.)

Friday, 2 February 2018

Indoor Gardening

So I got tired of looking at snow outside and pining for my garden. I now have 66 small pots on my counter under the grow light: lettuce, spinach, onions, beets, peppers, swiss chard, green beans, and rosemary and cilantro. Most will be eaten as small salad greens, but the beets, peppers, beans, and onions I'll let get to full size. I often grow green beans in my dining room -- they don't need insects to pollinate them -- and have fresh beans all winter.  There's just something wonderfully calming about the smell of damp earth, the sight of tiny sprouts pushing up against all odds and cheerfully just doing their thing. Not to mention the fact that I eat healthier when vegetables are there at my fingertips. Like my seedlings, I want to lie under the glow of the grow lights and pretend it's summer.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Teddy Bear on the Subway

The other day as I was coming home, I saw a young man standing on the subway platform with a giant stuffed bear. It had a red ribbon around its neck, and I assume it was a Valentine's gift for his girlfriend. There's something endearing about a six-foot-something, hulking young man out in public, hugging with both arms a giant teddy bear nearly as big as himself.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Where I've been

Sorry I haven't written lately. Time has flown without my even registering it. First it was heavy snowfall, requiring several shovelings a day. Then it was getting a manuscript ready for submission to the publisher. And then it was teaching my grand-daughter basic knitting. And then my husband's cousin moved in to start college. And then... Well, yeah, then I read a bunch of books and watched entirely too much "Escape to the Country" and "Hinterland" on TV...and time got away from me.

The funny thing is, one of the books I've been lost in is about mindfulness...

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Starting the Year off with a Bang - Some thoughts on climate change and bomb cyclones

The last couple of weeks have been bitterly cold, but yesterday we hit new records. It was -37 where I live, the coldest it has been since the 1950s. Eastern Canada and the U.S. are getting pummelled by a winter storm that has torn off roofs, knocked out power, and caused storm surge that has flooded towns. It's called a bomb cyclone, which is a good description for it. The dogs haven't had a good walk in two weeks -- whenever I try to take them out, they go ten feet, start balancing on two paws, and give me aggrieved looks until I pick them up and cart them back inside. I'm reduced to playing ball in the front hall with Brio.

I've been noticing changes in the summer weather for a while now -- we can grow kiwi here now, and kudzu is starting to invade, and opossums have crept up from the south. We get more intense rainstorms and heat waves, and last year I hardly had to water the garden at all. But now there are differences in the winter weather too. It used to be that we'd herald the appearance of the first robin as a sign of spring coming, and it was always around March 1st. But now the robins don't even leave in the winter; they stay here. We usually only get snow worth shoveling two or three times. The zipper broke on my only winter coat about four years ago and I haven't bothered to replace it because we really didn't need coats all that much.

However, this year we've gotten a lot of snow, and now this deep freeze that gives you an ice cream headache and makes your eyes prickle as they try to freeze over. They say that extreme cold is also a sign of global warming -- someone needs to tighten up the terminology, there -- but whatever you call it, the semantics are the same and it's still tough to live with. I keep a big basket at work just to hold all my cast-offs when I arrive -- longjohns, extra socks, hoodie, coat, two pair of gloves, two scarves. Everyone waddles around looking like overstuffed penguins, with only their eyes showing. You know, there's a new bill in Quebec about Muslim women who wear the niqab having to show their faces to get government services, but personally I think the niqab makes a lot of sense right now! We all look the same, whether it's religious wear or winter wear. Do I have to unwind my two scarves and show my face if I go to Quebec? Would a man?

Anyway, I can't complain about the extreme weather, because it didn't even hit us until late December, whereas often we have snow by Halloween. It was a wonderful, long, warm autumn, and now spring can only be a few months down the road. Even in this deep freeze -- or more likely, because of it -- the sky is a beautiful blue and the sun is bright. I need to install a small greenhouse or sunroom so I can soak up the rays without getting frostbite.

And hey, it's almost time to start getting the seed catalogues out.


Sunday, 31 December 2017

End of Year and a Frank Look at Resolutions

Each new year's eve I try to write a little summary of how the last 12 months have gone and set some goals for the next year. I've had years focused on health, or getting out of debt, or pursuing creative passions. I've focused on things I felt needed improving. But I feel a little different this year, more contemplative and less ambitious. I think this year I'd rather just focus on the blessings I've received, the things in my life I value, and the gratitude I feel. I don't especially feel the need to improve, set goals, and strive toward new year's resolutions. I think...maybe...what I'm feeling is contentment. I guess gratitude leads you to that.

I've been blessed this year to survive financially in spite of my husband yet again losing his job, and I've been blessed to feel totally supportive of his not going back to work fulltime this time. I want to see him relax and enjoy a well-deserved rest. I think I've finally figured out what he figured out many years ago -- that my sense of fulfillment is tied to seeing others be fulfilled. And if I can see him develop his piping program or pursue his hobbies and develop his interests, I will find that personally fulfilling. I am overwhelmed with love when I think of his years of dedication, support, sacrifice, and hard work, and I want to make this next year smoother for him.

I've been blessed with loving children who are more or less independent and making their way in the world. I've seen them pursue interests and develop themselves and reach out feelers into their lives, and it's exciting to see. I've been blessed with huggable, squeezable, darling grandchildren who lift my heart with their smiles.

I've been blessed with the animals in my life, their devotion and unconditional love and loyalty. Nothing makes me happier than seeing Brio running full tilt toward me with ears flapping and a grin on his face, as if I'm the best person on the planet, and his joy gravitates around me.

I've been blessed to have had situations over the past year that have encouraged me to learn and grow and stretch. I've taken on teaching a class of teenagers and -- despite trepidation -- grown to genuinely love and care about them. Such a neat group of people! I've taken up weaving and needlepoint and found creative outlets that give me joy. I've got scope for the imagination. And I've learned that my writing, while enjoyable, is not my identity or even (dare I say it) my passion. It's a good thing to learn, because then I can allocate the time it deserves but not obsess about it. I've learned it's okay for me and my interests to change with time.

I've been blessed with the spirit and a deeper conviction of how Christ's atonement applies to me and my life. As I've taught these young people, the principles I'm teaching them have entered more deeply into my own heart. I think it was Seneca who said you learn by teaching, and that's so true. I'm grateful for what teaching has brought me.

I've been blessed to deepen friendships with two people at church whom I didn't know very well before, but who have turned out to be delightful, fun, and generous friends. I'm grateful to still have my job in a time when many have lost theirs, and even though it isn't a joyful thing for me, at least I can tolerate it and it puts food on the table, so I'm glad for that. I've tried to rethink how I perceive my job. Instead of just thinking of it as sitting in a cubicle wiggling my fingers over a keyboard and pushing paper around, I've tried to see how it is actually an act of service for the ten people I support -- people I genuinely like -- and seeing it that way makes it more bearable.

I'm grateful to live in a place that allows me to pursue my religion and education and personal goals, that supports me with the basic necessities of life, and promotes equality and compassion. I live in a generally compassionate society. And it's got the added plus that it's beautiful here, a landscape that sings to me. I'm grateful this country let me in and that I feel at home here. I'm grateful God created such a lovely planet and lets us participate in part of that creation. I'm grateful for the knowledge of how to grow food and the gift of a bit of land to do it on.

I hope to carry this gratitude and awareness of my blessings into 2018 and look forward to the treasures this new year will bring. And I wish my readers (all two of you) blessings in 2018 too.