Friday, May 30, 2008

Not too bright was it?

Embarassed. I can't believe I did that.

This morning as I packed my suitcase for the weekend I realized that I didn't have enough white shirts. With Wendy away, I went downstairs to do the laundry. "I can do this" ...after all I've done laundry lots of times.

So I loaded the washing machine with water and soap and since I had some time went and had another cup of coffee and did a couple of others thing in the house. I heard the washing machine finish, so I headed down to throw them in the dryer for a second and then I thought "I'll hang them in the back of the van to dry as I drive." That's when I saw them...the shirts...they were sitting on the floor! I never put them in the washer!

As Homer would say: "DUH!"

Have you ever done that? Am I alone in this?

So I was off to PR and then GP today...along the way a couple of photos:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Is God good?

Yesterday before leaving Whitehorse, Robert and Johanna took me to the Thriftstore as I was to do a physical inspection of the property. I got into a conversation with the manager which led us to looking at their book and music section. Yes, they sell new things as well. They sell new Christian books and CD's. As we look at what is a good selection for a pretty small area I asked how she chooses what she brings in.

She told me that very often it comes from someone who comes in looking for a book and she would order four copies, if they sold quickly then she might bring in ten more and so on...

So I asked her what was selling quickly now. She pointed out The Shack by William P. Young, a Canadian author. I decided to buy a copy after reading the review on the back of it and when I had settled into the waiting area in the airport I pulled it out and started to be drawn into this excellent book. The writing is strong, the story intriguing, and the emotions that it draws out are overwhelming. I found myself sitting on the plane with tears running down my cheeks. This book is not for the faint of heart, and yet it lifts the reader up and challenges our concepts of right and wrong, good and evil.

I found myself checking my theology and recalling words of scripture as the story unfolds. It is perhaps one of the best novels I have read in some time. I was delighted with it, and by the time the plane landed I was a good 2/3 way through the entire book.

This is a strong recommendation and my feeling is you won't be disappointed with it. But be ready for a book that you will not soon forget. You will be challenged with the question: is God good?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Whitehorse - a retirement community?

"Where would you like to sit Doctor Waters?"

I would like to know what made him think I was a doctor, but as I checked in last evening to the counter for my flight to Whitehorse on AirNorth that was the question put to me. The flight was good, as always I wonder why the northern airlines do such a good job compared to our national airline. I got 3 pieces of cheesecake with my coffee as an example.

Today was the Annual Review for Whitehorse and it was a good day. Robert and Johannah work hard to give oversight to a complex ministry. One of the interesting features of our work here is the use a building (we own) that was built by the US army at the end of World War 2. It sits looking over the Whitehorse airport, so you hear the planes coming and going.

Whitehorse is a lovely town, probably misunderstood by most of those living in the south. It has a better climate than you might expect and all the ammenities of a much larger centre.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Sgt. at Arms welcomes us

Today's adventure (and it seems everyday has an adventure) was a visit to the Sgt. at Arm's Office at the Legislature. He is a member of the Advisory Board and made arrangments for us to be recognized and introduced "officially" in the House. The MLA's were kind and welcoming. These are not the official photos though!

The grounds and building are beautiful and in some ways reminded me of the Ontario building and grounds. I worked as a Civil Servant at Queen's Park from 1977 to 1981 when we went to CFOT.

Then Trail Appliances showed up with the long awaited stove! The bottom drawer didn't fit right but the delivery guy managed to fix it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The earth is alive

Two photos from today. The tomato plants are in the ground - under the protection of my small tomato green house - and so begins the growing process. One plant is grape tomatoes, two are called Super Tomatoes, and the final two are Early Girls. Keep posted and I'll keep a record of how they do to the end of the season.
Second photo is of Phil and Amanda and "their garden". They worked long and hard yesterday to clean up the yard and make it nice. They planted both flowers and vegetables to watch grow.

O how quick the days go!

To live with purpose. From time to time I find myself wandering...mentally not I wonder about this or that. Like will we have enough for retirement or will I work until I'm 90 years old. I wonder if my kids will do well, have happy marriages, raise healthy children, find their own way in the world?

We sang this morning in worship - " Today I choose, to follow you..." " for me and my house, we will praise you".

Our deep desire that our family, not just this generation or the next, but for all time will find the purpose, direction and deep satisfaction we have found in following Jesus. We can't choose for anyone but ourselves, but we can influence, pray for, and encourage.

I want to live with purpose. That's why I left the Ontario Government in 1981 and Wendy Bell Canada. Our calling to ministry still drives us, still provides purpose in our lives.

We only get to live once and as we age we realize just how quickly those few years go by.

Today I choose! To live with purpose.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A relaxed Saturday

Today was dry here - unlike southern Alberta - with warm winds. It feels like spring here for sure.

What else is happening? Well...

We are home - that's good.
Wendy found a skirt to go with her fancy top she bought for one of the weddings.
The Stanley Cup finals are on - finally! Who to cheer for?
My tulips are up in the front of the house finally.
Tickets have been bought for flights to Whitehorse, Winnipeg and Iqaluit.
This was the day Steve and Ashley got married - who's next?
The wiring on the van (for the trailer) isn't right - I can put the brakes on without touching the brake peddle.
This morning was fun being with Philip and Amanda for a while!
We had lunch (unplanned) with Jason and Susan - we stumbled on them at "Wendy's".
Being a family of 6 is great !!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Those were the days

My Dad use to say that his Dad said "the good ol' days weren't that great". Sr. Major Arthur Waters is buried in Memorial Gardens north of Kingston Ontario (right off Hwy 15). I wish I had known him better, but he died when I was 10 years of age and we lived away from him most of those years. That's my grandparents with my Dad in the photo...

Grandpa spent many years in the Kingston area and served in the prisons, courts, and university. Recently my dear mother passed on some photos and newspaper clippings (she's lightening her load - getting ready for The Home I suppose) and I've scanned them to create digital records.

Of further interest to me was that when we arrived in Calgary in 2000 one of the students that he was partriach for at Queen's University was just retiring, and having heard my name linked with The Salvation Army contacted me. He was able to give me further details regarding my grandfather.

I've listed the clippings in this order; his farewell from Hamilton (Argyle Citadel to Camp Petawawa (see the final note that Kenneth Rawlins is appointed to assist) and then his retirement from TSA in Kingston, and then the subsequent appointment to the courts in retirement by the Provincial Government.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Two days at Pine Lake

It seems that when we drive to Red Deer it this part of the country placed half way between Edmonton and Calgary is a boom area like much of Alberta, but it is also near TSA's camp Pine Lake. In the nearly 8 years we've lived in Alberta now, wet weather has been a fairly common theme while we've been in the area. So much that a couple of years ago I started to refer to it as Rain Deer!

Our first day at Pine Lake was a staff day with the PRD staff from Calgary joining us, and of course the team from Edmonton. Our first task was to divide into teams and build the highest tower with spaghetti (uncooked of course) and marshallows. That's not as easy as you might think...our team came in second with 42 inches in height. The winner made it to 49 inches. We were also sent on a digital camera scavenger hunt.

The second day was business with the DEB and to our surprise we made it home early. An extra night in our bed is the reward for good work I suppose.

Yesterday, while it was dry, I did wander into the wooded section of the camp and along the waterfront to get these photos:

Monday, May 19, 2008

May long weekend adventures!

For the first time in our officership Wendy and I took the long weekend of May off and went camping. Now normally in Alberta the threat of snow overnight, or at least cold temperatures is very real. But this year the temperatures here were well above average. We ventured 3.5 hours north west of Edmonton to Faost AB which sits on the shores of Lesser Slave Lake.

Roy and Elaine invited us to join them and, it turns out, a number of folks we know from Edmonton. We arrived in time for a late supper Friday night after driving through the forest fire area near Slave Lake. The fire had crossed the road and helicopters were dropping water on either side of us while the crews worked near the road. Saturday morning Roy took me out in the boat - the water was like glass. We also enjoyed meals together, laughing over Roy's stories, and of course I took my camera stuff and went looking for photo opportunities.

I did find a beaver, a bald eagle, a number of other small birds including a Cardinal. It was a good weekend and wonderful to be back in the trailer!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Home from next door

Pleasant but gusty was the ride home from our neighbour next door - Saskatchewan! We saw a female moose at the side of the road standing, looking at the fence which she had discovered. The fence was as high as her head and she obviously wasn't sure she could jump it. It seemed funny to see her eyeing it as we zoomed by.
That's one of the things that sometimes annoys me. I see a photo opportunity but we are passed it in a second, or we have so far to go I feel we must keep going. The moose was one of those missed shots.

I did however get a few - and for your viewing pleasure fans of photo are some shots from our 6 days in Saskatchewan. Note in Saskatoon all the Army banners!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dear Mr. CT

"If you get here at 7 a.m. you can be first served", said the service manager. So this morning I was in line at CT at 6:50 a.m. and sure enough I was first served! The other people in line came and picked up their vehicles at different points in the day, I went for coffee, lunch...the staff changed shifts, the service manager went mechanic who started working on the van at 7:50 a.m. was still working! A second mechanic joined him to try and finish the job and about 6 p.m. they presented the van back to me.

Email from Wendy: "are you joining us for supper?"

"As soon as I can get the van back!"

And what great work did I need done - a hitch installed with the brake controller.

Dear Mr. CT,

I do appreciate your hard working mechanic who did finish the job, and made every effort to make sure the work was good...but 10 hours? Really? And by the way since I paid the book rate I think you actually lost money on this deal too!

A little tired of waiting

At least we will be ready for this coming weekend and camping at Lesser Slave Lake!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Visit to the cemetary

Wendy's tied up in an accreditation today which afforded me two opportunities. The first was to catch up on my paper work...that's a great feeling. The second was to take the van and go for a drive. I went just west of Saskatoon and found some small ponds with ducks and birds around it. The other place I visited was an old and small cemetary.

This little cemetary bathed in the warm spring sun holds some remarkable stories. If only we knew the entire story. Past the simple gates lay a number of grave markers for those who were children upon death. The ratio of adult to child graves seemed out of porportion. I thought about those families who were working to make an existence on the prairies - their life no doubt was much more demanding, more difficult than ours.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

My life is divided into three far....I would label them: 1. The pre-sister era, 2. the sister era, 3. the Wendy era.

In regard to the pre-sister era which lasted 10 years I would have to confess that I was spoiled rotten! Ahhh, those were good days. I was the apple of my mother's eye - she looked after my every need and I relished in the attention. Life was good and I was at the centre of the universe.

Then came my two sisters (20 months apart) and life changed. I was thrown to the wolves!

I thought on this mother's day 2008 which marks the 100th year of this celebration I would reflect on this first era of my life. In paticular I recall the days when we lived in Orillia. We lived some way from The Army and with Dad on the road so much the two of us did many things together. What remains in my memory as one of greatest times of enjoyment was Sunday evenings. Mom got, with green stamps (remember them?) TV trays. Sunday evenings we would have TV dinners (something new in those days) while we watched on the B&W TV our favourite programs. They were: Sir Francis Drake, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and Walt Disney.

Sometime in the night, certainly after I was alseep Dad would arrive home and in the morning their would be a new Dinky Toy (a small metal car) as a treat from Dad in his journeys.

Those were great days. It wasn't just the closeness of our small family or the fact that I was an only child - in fact I prayed almost nightly for a brother or sister. What was of significant impact was the spiritual example of my Mom.

So today when I stand in the pulpit, or lead a family through grief, when I sit around a table representing my ministry units I do so as a direct result of my Mom's spiritual and emotional example. For that I shall be eternally grateful.

Life in North America might be radically different from the days of Disney on B&W TV but the role my Mom plays is still one of care, love and encouragment.

Thanks Mom!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

John's tribute

We are in the home of John Diefenbaker...former Prime Minister who was from Prince Albert. Here's a statue to him in front of city hall. It is sunny with blue sky and warm air...if only we could get some understanding. That aside, I wandered down the street from The Outpost, the Thrift Store, Family Service, Cafe building to find this city tribute.

From The Globe & Mail ..."But his real and rare accomplishment is that he opened the sense of being Canadian to people who had felt shut out before.

The theory of democracy is that we all have equal opportunity. The facts are different. Before John Diefenbaker became prime minister, no woman had served in the cabinet of Canada. Nor had any Canadian whose origins were other than English or French. Status Indians - our "first citizens" - were denied the right to vote.

He changed all that. Ellen Fairclough took her place in his first cabinet. Michael Starr, a Canadian of Ukrainian origin, served there with her. Status Indians received the right to vote in 1960.

He tore down barriers. He introduced simultaneous translation to the House of Commons, so unilingual English- and French-speaking MPs could understand one another. He passed the first Canadian Bill of Rights. He was a leader in the Commonwealth Conference that expelled the then-apartheid regime of South Africa.

And beyond those specific acts, he made ordinary people believe he was their champion."

So as the weekend enfolds it will be with an eye on his heritage. Ahh...didn't he also cancel a project that was building planes or something? Seems I remember something about jobs going south.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Keep your eyes open

After joining some of our friends for lunch...we were on our way into Saskatchewan and PA. The drive is interesting. Quite flat as you head from Lloydminster to the Battlefords and then going north the landscape becomes more treed, rolling hills with lakes. It is a very pretty part of the country.

We saw huge flocks of geese making their way north to the Arctic tundra, and the ducks were busy feeding on the small ponds sitting by the road and in the farmer's fields. Buffalo were near the side of the road as we went through Elk Island National Park. During our last 30 minutes or so as the sun began to dip below the horizon the deer lined along the side of the road feeding on the short green grass. While it is a long drive from Edmonton the display of God's creatures keeps us attentive to the beauty of the land.

Spring is definitely here - the farmers are working their land and it is snowing in Calgary!