Saturday, July 31, 2010

Um, I can't get a word in edge-wise...

Picture this: My friend and I are sitting in Starbucks with our decaffeinated drinks and suddenly it dawns on me I have been talking almost non-stop for more than thirty minutes! My friend's first language is Russian and she just couldn't compete with my flood of verbiage... She was, however, a good listener, but really what choice did she even have? Thankfully before this I had been asking her questions about her summer, her studies, and her son's wedding and we had walked together along the Bayfront... Still next time I should realize a little sooner that she had been confined to short interjections for a long time, and really she is a much more fascinating person than myself, so I would do much better to listen to her!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Extra Extra Long Weekend

This holiday weekend is called "George Hamilton Day" in this neck of the woods, and for me this weekend lasts nearly a week, or six sleeps. On Saturday I am visiting with relatives and Dutch cousins, and on Friday I am going out for coffee with a friend and the Friday after that I am celebrating with my Connon coworkers bound together by the love of Cornelius and the ties of sisterly affection.

We are so happy that one of us has a job in her field of study, another of us, namely me, is holding onto part-time nursing studies, two of us are learning how to drive, and one of us is about to ace her McGill exams. Cornelius is the only unhappy one, because he is just underworked lately without the need for an hour or more of driving every week day.

Bidding Connons farewell is bittersweet, but mainly sweet... I'd say it is like 45% cocoa chocolate. The steady pay-cheque is the most missed aspect, and next are the people I worked with for years and my second favourite boss I have had in all my employment history... he is second to my late grandfather who had us grandchildren old enough to be out of diapers over every March Break to work in his greenhouse, until his health compelled him to move to a property that required less upkeep. We earned $100 each, and had long breaks which included orange juice and cookies, a lunch break of at least an hour with a three course meal sometimes including the grandchildren's very favourite of hamburger noodlebake, and a quitting time of whenever we felt like it. Plus we got day trips and outings to the used book store. By the way I have also worked part-time for my father, and I don't think he or I could handle working as father and daughter in the same office!

This extra extra long weekend will be spent chilling, swimming, cooking, baking, studying about computers, and finishing my biology homework. I have to register for my courses on Tuesday afternoon after 1500. I might pick up my crocheting project again, or study a map of Ontario with great intensity and interest. I wonder if I can fit in a visit to a beautiful beach?

The image is of moi at the end of our time at Doe Lake. I think I look all of my twenty-nine years, by which I mean I don't think this picture is flattering! I just like the background!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Lovely Evening and a Beautiful Day!

I enjoyed a ladies get together at the home of a member of my small group. I love these ladies, even though I am not well acquainted with all of them. There are some my parent's age, and older, some in their forties with grown kids, some in their thirties with kids, some in their younger twenties with husbands, and some single and in their twenties. The setting was perfect with beautiful gardens and a pool. The appetizers alone were spectacular, the drinks were wonderful, the main dinner was delectable, the dessert was exquisite, but most importantly the fellowship was amazing. I was only slightly disappointed only four of us decided to go in the pool... it was one of those kidney shaped pools surrounded by flowers and gardens, and of course the water was warm.

When I arrived home I had a delightful time with my sister and her best friend who was sleeping over. I love this woman's sense of humour and I consider her my fifth sister... not that I need more sisters I just consider her family. We were rather noisy and boisterous, but they say that laughter is the best medicine...

I had a good rest and now I am meeting a friend for lunch at noon... a meeting that is highly anticipated and should be wonderful. Maybe I can buckle down to some studying before then... I am not holding my breath!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Risky Business

I think it is appropriate with Katie Holmes in the area shooting a movie on JKO that we watch a classic movie starring Tom Cruise. No actual risky business is being attempted, never fear... My dad is a professional, after all, in his field of accounting, and the rest of us are over 13 and under sixty, therefore this classic should be entirely age-appropriate and completely non-shocking to our tender sensitivities. A report shall follow about how many of us stick with the movie until the final scene...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Abrasive Attitude

Sometimes I can be much like sand-paper... you wouldn't want to get too close or I may attempt to tear off a strip of your thin veneer. I can be extremely hard to live with as my family can attest to. My mom says you can't blame bad behaviour on the time of month, how hungry you are at the time, how rude you perceive someone else as being towards you, the stress of your day, or even on the fact you are recovering from an illness.

Actually I have a lot of excuses, rationalizations, and defences, so much so that the slightest perceived criticism can set off a fire-storm. When the dust settles, I realize the only person with the problem with communication and conciliation is myself and I usually apologize and/or cry.

Yeah it's tough sometimes to be me... I have high standards for myself and I don't always achieve them. Or I achieve them, and then the next thing I do is incredibly mean or hostile or accusatory. Paul put it well when he asked "Who will rescue me from this body of death?"

I guess I don't have to be perfect; I just have to be willing to be perfected. Still I wish I was a consistently nice person, even when others insult me or put me down or laugh at me. I let myself down all the time, and it gets discouraging when you think you are just going around the same mountain for the hundredth time and feel no closer to the summit or farther away from the foothills. I want to be kinder to my long-suffering family, and not to always have to prove that I am right in every difference of opinion.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Insights" from my Solitary Rambles

I visited a Shopper's today and saw the new frontier of Beauty Products including anti-perspirant for men. Sorry men, but anti-perspirant made with aluminum isn't even a good idea for women. It is unhealthy to suppress a natural process like perspiration. In about ten to twenty years if current trends continue we can probably expect to reap the consequences of more breast cancer cases in men. Also I have heard that men's sweat is supposed to be some kind of hormonal turn-on, but maybe the women are just happy someone else is out there working in the hot sun.

I was very proud to walk out of the store with only two products, only one of which I didn't need.

I also walked down the Mountain, along the rail trail and back along Lavender Drive, which ended up taking over two hours... I wished I had taken along some money, when I passed Tim Hortons and a grocery store. At least I brought along my canteen of water. It was another twenty-five minutes home from there. I saw some gorgeous blooms and beautifully appointed gardens. Now I am very tired...

Along the way I wondered if money or love had built a beautiful stone house, decided that driving in a pick up truck with other guys drops a guy's IQ by a good fifty points and additional five points for every guy who is with him, and speculated about why graffiti artists are so non-creative. I mean if you want to deface a stone rock face that has been around for longer than this has been the country of Canada shouldn't you use a beautiful image or at least a word that shows you have an ounce of creativity in your bones... I mean not a profanity or obscenity and not a message of hatred.

I concluded my walk by rehydrating and eating something salty. Now I have start thinking about getting some school work done today, and what I will eat for supper. Thankfully I am not hungry yet, but I am thinking about the difference between being discerning and being judgemental.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hope Does Not Disappoint

Hebrews 10:22-39
The Message Paraphrase

22-25So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

26-31If we give up and turn our backs on all we've learned, all we've been given, all the truth we now know, we repudiate Christ's sacrifice and are left on our own to face the Judgment—and a mighty fierce judgment it will be! If the penalty for breaking the law of Moses is physical death, what do you think will happen if you turn on God's Son, spit on the sacrifice that made you whole, and insult this most gracious Spirit? This is no light matter. God has warned us that he'll hold us to account and make us pay. He was quite explicit: "Vengeance is mine, and I won't overlook a thing" and "God will judge his people." Nobody's getting by with anything, believe me.

32-39Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn't touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don't throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It's still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God's plan so you'll be there for the promised completion.

It won't be long now, he's on the way;
he'll show up most any minute.
But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust;
if he cuts and runs, I won't be very happy.
But we're not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We'll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.

The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Exciting Friday night

My family has gone to my sister's soccer match, and I await their return so that we can watch the movie "Invictus" featuring two of my favourite actors. It is based on a fascinating true story about Nelson Mandela post-Apartheid and a sports team made of South African players, both black and white and all shades in between.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Joy of Family

I don't think people who have never had a sibling (or five siblings, as in my case, ranging in age from lower 30s to 13) quite understand the joy of family. When I was sixteen some people (complete strangers) thought I was my little sister's mother and this continued until she was around two years old. She was very energetic and after my work week was over on Friday morning, she would accompany to the mall, making quick little steps with her small legs, and later we would play at the park for awhile, but never long enough to suit her... I sometimes just had to walk away to get her to follow.

My next youngest sister used to go with me to Biway and get little outfits; she claims this has made her materialistic, but I just don't see it. Even at five, I was trying to be a mother to my next youngest sister.

But the fact is I have four sisters, and one much persecuted brother and they are of different generations. I love all of them and they are all so unique. My youngest sister is athletic, among other talents, then the next youngest is very scholastic and highly intelligent, but also artistic and creative... let's face it she's at the top of the gene pool... And then my other sister is so giving, and caring, with an eye for design and fashion and talent in scrap-booking and the much coveted ability to help in the background without drawing attention to herself, in addition to the possession of an excellent work ethic and organizational skills she must have inherited from my father.

And my oldest sister is a wonderful mother of two and wife of almost ten years, with many abilities in business, arts and crafts such as sewing, quilting, and cross-stitch, cuisine, and baking the best raisin bread I have ever had in my life. She even has her own blogbook that she poured hours of work into, and her own cookbook that she did as a fourth year student.

And of course my brother is also incredibly fantastic to have survived having so many sisters... I could probably write a book about him if he ever were to get famous. We used to tease him, call him "The Boy" and call him "Cow Eyes", but the epithet that made him most angry was when we named him Johnny Applesauce... Boy we were mean. It wasn't his fault he shortened us to "the girls" after calling us Kan and Zan as a toddler. I still remember the day he called an elevator "an alligator". I must have inherited my Opa's ability to remember seemingly insignificant details...

photo credit M. den Boer with apologies to C.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Muse

Eye hath not seen it, my gentle boy!
Ear hath not heard its deep songs of joy;
Dreams cannot picture a world so fair...
Sorrow and death may not enter there;
Time doth not breath its fadeless bloom,
For beyond the clouds, and beyond the tomb,
It is there, it is there, my child!

Felicia D. Hemans
In the book of poetry, The Better Land

I have used a Felicia D. Hemans quote as the descriptor for my blog, almost as long as I have had a blog. I never knew she was born in Liverpool and that she was the granddaughter of a Venetian consul in Liverpool, England. Or that she had nineteen books published in the nineteenth century, being a contemporary of Wordsworth, and a popular figure in America, Britain, and Ireland, especially among women readers; She passed out of the literary canon for some time, only to re-emerge with a voice that still rings out today. Let's just say she was a woman who spoke (or wrote) her mind, and had five sons in quick succession, and then a divorce. Among her poetry that is still read today, especially in her native America, are...

"The Image in Lava", "Evening Prayer at a Girls' School", "I Dream of All Things Free", "Night-Blowing Flowers", "Properzia Rossi", "A Spirit's Return", "The Bride of the Greek Isle", "The Wife of Asrubal", "The Widow of Cresentius", "The Last Song of Sappho", and "Corinne at the Capitol"

Her most popular books were The Forest Sanctuary (1825) and Records of Woman and Songs of Affection (1830). She died of "dropsy" in 1835 (another term for edema, I think) and Wordsworth wrote her a memorial. Her last published works were Scenes and Hymns of Life, National Lyrics, and Songs for Music.

According to Wikipedia she was "a troubling predecessor" to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, wife of poet Robert Browning, (and a poet in her own right before she married him), and a "less acknowledged" influence on Tennyson and Longfellow, as well as to many female poets who followed in her train, and who, unfortunately, I have never heard of before.

The image is of a book published by Princeton Press

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sometimes all you need is the office to yourself...

and you can accomplish most of the work of your PowerPoint slides that could still be looming over your head, in less than two hours, even after wasting a solid hour reading random blogs and day-dreaming... It just goes to show that Mary Poppins was right that just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down in a most delightful way! Procrastination only makes my job as a student worse and ruins the quality of my life personally. Being proactive is better by far. Let that be a lesson to me, myself, and I! Now tomorrow I will work on biology in the morning, get my hair done in the afternoon, and go to a special evening at my church in the evening... all because I halted my procrastination attempts and started to concentrate on the job at hand. Yah for productive days and evenings!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The 101st Post

So, to my surprise, I have passed the 100 post barrier. My mother did that in her first year of blogging. I did it with forty-six days to spare, and now can devote my attention to other goals such as making the best lemon meringue pie in the world and running all the way to the Mountain Brow and then going up and down the stairs twice. I have also managed to eat lobster and there is even a picture to prove it that may have been deleted due to the face I was making at the time. I think if you don't grow up with seafood it is harder to like it... but I am trying to be more adventurous. Also I have succeeded at barbecuing a steak. One thing I won't do is write I am in a relationship on Facebook, as tomorrow is my official Facebook emancipation day... I have been clean for almost two weeks and I don't know what to do when I am bored anymore. It is probably one of the reasons I have been blogging more. Also I'm kind of the persuasion right now that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, that's one of my favourite U2 lyrics...

Actually I only have 101 posts on my dashboard, because I have kept some drafts I will never publish, and I have started some drafts I may publish later... I guess the celebration must be delayed until I have 100 posts published on my blog, which shouldn't be that hard to accomplish.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Ceremony

10:03 am in the strawberry field
To the chorus of birds and crickets
I kneel, the straw imprinting my bare knees
with crisscrossed red lines
like the lines of a highway map
The sun warms my head and back
and heightens the patch's perfume
fragrance of ripe berries
rot of the passed over and past due
aroma of straw and rich earth
The dew collects on my hands
as I grasp plump, luscious berries
Some thud in my basket
where they lie in a heap of mottled reds
Others land in my mouth
tart and tangy
or sweet and juicy
the nectar of summer days.

This is one of my old poems from university. This year I totally missed going to pick strawberries. I guess this is an idealized version of that experience, but it is a ritual that I love. I am somewhat disappointed right now that my brother didn't get his best birthday present ever... Netherlands winning the World Cup! I hope you have a Happy Birthday anyways John! Hard to believe how old we are both getting, but as Indiana Jones says it's not the years it's the mileage! So far the road has been curving and transversing up and down, but out on the horizon there must be something, I can see it, peaking through the trees...

Friday, July 09, 2010

The 80's revisited

I seem to recall being extremely unfashionable in the eighties. It is only because I looked back in pictures and interpreted it that way, I suppose. My hair was cut in a mullet-like style at one point. I forgot it was picture day one year, and I wore a hand-me-down blue shirt, which with my very short hair-cut made me look like an effeminate little boy. That's the same year I came to a new school after moving to my current city from farther north. At one point acid-wash jeans were in, but that might have been early nineties. And tie-die was big and crimping your hair was all the rage.

The early nineties were the worst period, in my view, because I cringe every time I pass that era in my former grade school's storied hall... Everything was floral and clashing horribly with the other dresses. The smart people were wearing a solid, more classic colour, but in the end the photo still looks disastrous. We decorated our hall with teal and mauve streamers, and MWS's "Friends are Friends Forever" was played after we had dined on lasagne and caesar salad.

One thing I am thankful for is that usually I didn't bother with the poofy bangs look with the blue eye-shadow, although I wore the denim over-alls with one strap undone and walked with my back-pack only on one shoulder. I continued to wear plaid shirts well into my high school years. I just can't understand why I would want to revisit plaid, tie-dye, acid-wash jeans, poofy hair, and big floral outfits... I completely draw the line at buying another pair of overalls! The last ones I owned were beige corduroy and still embarrass me to this day... I assume we are revisiting those who actually had style, or maybe money to buy designer wear. I still remember LA Gear, with fluorescent shoe laces, and the show "Full House" that I watched taped copies of at my best friend's house.

Things from the eighties I still like are those jelly shoes made of plastic for very small feet, hand-sewn-family-coordinated dresses, little dresses bought in Florida from my grandparents, and hand-knitted little sweaters made with love by my grandmother. As for toys, I think Care Bears, stuffed animals of any type (my favourite was my Benji dog), My Little Ponies, Light-Bright, Easy-Bake Ovens, Skip-its, pogo balls, long skipping ropes, building blocks, yarn-hand-crafted-dogs, and slinkies are on my list of favourite toys. I had an imitation Cabbage-Patch doll with pink hair named Gertie Tanya, but I renamed her because I thought it was an ugly name. Mine had tight curls and my sister's had pig-tails. Now I have completely exhausted this fascinating topic, I think I will make myself some dinner... reheated left-overs sounds perfect!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

My Beautiful Family

Lately I have been ever more and more grateful for my family. Here is the first photo of our entire family in five years. It was wonderful having everyone all together again, and to have so many things to celebrate!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

New Every Morning

God's mercies are new every morning! So when the sun peaks out from across the empty park, when I am driving into the sun on the way to somewhere important like work or school, when I watch the sun rise as I bend over to pick some weeds that I can barely see in the cold barren season of nearly winter, and when I manage to see the car approaching the corner before the said car runs into my car, or I hit my car into a snowbank at a relatively slow speed and the airbag does not deploy, I have good reason to say "Great is Thy Faithfulness!"

Also I am now very attached to Cornelius and I hope he will stay in my life for awhile longer... I am now one of those extremely cautious drivers... Cornelius has had to put up with a lot of ignorance from me, but that he is still around is a testament to my excellent mechanic and also my parents who between them know quite a bit about cars. Also I now have a cellphone to use in emergencies so we can happily be stranded somewhere together, and eventually someone will come and rescue us... Good old CAA. Any post that begins with God and ends with the CAA must be stream of conciousness writing, and I have been trying to get away from that, but it is really how my mind is working right now, especially in the morning.

I am happy to report that the whole renewal of the mind project seems to be proceeding on schedule. And my brain is quite remarkable, because it is fighting to return to regular functioning and mostly succeeding at that. My spirit, soul, and body are also in good hands. All in all, healing is happening and it isn't me who is doing it.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


If I actually owned something orange, I might wear it to church the day of the final Fifa South Africa soccer match. But I connect the colour orange to prison jumpsuits, unflattering mug shots, and much more distantly to flowers planted in gardens in protest of Nazi Germany. These same flowers sometimes later had to be eaten, if you lived in the cities during the hunger winter. I don't think orange is even my colour, and I am only probably the last Netherlands fan to jump on the band-wagon, so my opinion means very little.

That said, I remember doubting Thomases are sometimes very surprised to find solid evidence against their previous claims, so let's just say I'll be as surprised as anyone what happens in the next two matches. But I think Germany will triumph during the next match, and they are the most formidable opponent the Dutch could have to face in the final match, to my untrained eye. I really know very little about football in Europe, have never been to Europe, and I have never even left the continent of North America, though I have been to Florida and on a couple of trans-Canada tours and that is a lot of kms to travel without ever leaving two neighbouring countries. Also Europe is very, very different than it was post WWII, as is Canada and every other country in this ever-shrinking world.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Failing, On the Road to Success

I just received the lowest grade I ever have in the history of my scholastic achievements. The funny thing is I probably could have normally passed no problem, or even challenged for credit and got the course. The other unusual thing is that I don't view it as a failure at all, but as a personal success. I could have dropped the course, I could have quit, I could have taken the withdrawal W on the transcript and gone and lived my life of quiet desperation, far from the halls of academia. But I am not a quitter, and I always come from behind, and I ultimately triumph, at least in academics. I started university with a personal relationship with the Dean, and I saw him weekly for quite some time. I aced first year, and didn't look back. I got accepted to a graduate school program I never ended up taking, but I did eventually go back to school and I got into a good program. Whether I really belong in this program is a matter of debate, since I am not a college student, but an university graduate, I am more theoretically minded than practical, and I question what I learn, and I also read medical information very slowly so as to grasp the details of the material. I don't think I really belong, but I think I can adapt to the program a whole lot better than the program is adapting to me.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Isaiah 43:19 (New International Version)

19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

I don't know exactly why, but I am somewhat ashamed of my Dutch heritage. Maybe the reason I have a hard time cheering for the Dutch in the World Cup in South Africa, is because I know a little bit about the history of apartheid and I can't bring myself to cheer for Orange. I don't know much about how Nelson Mandela accomplished reconciliation or how many poor are still barely surviving in South Africa. I know the future can be bright from the sun, or that precious things could ignite into flame given enough heat and pressure.

I want to cheer for the only team I can cheer for as a Canadian of Dutch descent, the Netherlands team. I am Dutch through and through, with a pinch of French from the Huguenots and maybe a touch of Freisland in the mix (if they were significant in my heritage, I am sure I would know how to spell Freisland). But the Dutch people themselves are some kind of European mix as well. Sometimes though I guess everyone has to let go of all the wrongs in the past and move on to a better future.

My maternal grandfather was somewhat scarred from his experiences in the Netherlands during the Occupation of Holland by Nazi Germany. He was hiding for most of the war and he was secretly corresponding with my maternal grandmother who he met briefly during the war. At the end of the war they married and left for Canada where they made their future together. They have been gone for over two years now and they are together and were not long separated. I think they understood much wisdom at the end of their long lives together. I look forward to seeing them again in bodies that are not failing and without any scars or bitterness. I look forward to laughing again with them and there being no more tears or death or crying or pain. I look forward to my grandmother being articulate, sharp-witted, and cheerful again and my grandfather smiling at me and showing me his beautiful flowers. I don't know why I am mourning them now, rather than at their funerals, but then my eyes were bright with unshed tears. Now I cry for myself, more than for them.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

My nephew, my niece, and I

Photo credit: K. Langelaar

I am a proud aunt, because my nephew and niece are adorable, usually obedient to their mother and father, and are loads of fun... I can see both their parents in both of them, both good and bad traits too! Thankfully the two little darlings don't cry quite as easily as my older sister and I in former days! But they also are bundles of energy and sometimes need a long nap... It is so good to see a very good older brother who takes good care of his little sister so carefully, and a little sister who will try to copy whatever big brother attempts.

Happy Canada Day!

My father may have been born in Paris, France, and all my grandparents, (including my Oma, who is still doing well with seven great grandchildren and counting), may be from Holland, the Old Country, but I am Canadian (notwithstanding the facts that I don't actually like beer and that I live in the supposed arm-pit of Ontario). I am proud to be a third generation Canadian and I am glad that there are many kinds of Canadians and many new immigrants who can strengthen this country. Sometimes the newest Canadians are the proudest ones, with the best stories (although not all those stories are pleasant stories). Happy Canada Day, and may our country continue to survive and thrive and not forget its roots, while it finds its wings!