Monday, September 29, 2014

Beets, computer issues and a Sunday video on a Monday afternoon

My regular rhythm as a moodler has been way off for the last few weeks, and I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever get it back. Those who are regular readers know that I usually post new moodlings on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, but with work and garden work taking so much time of late, things haven't been terribly regular.

So I was looking forward to Edmonton's L'Arche International 50th Anniversary Gala on September 20th for all sorts of reasons, the two primary ones being that it would be an enjoyable evening (it DEFINITELY was!) and that my time would become my own once the tickets were sold and the silent auction was history.

Of course, now my time is my own, and I'm doing my best to catch up on all the produce that was temporarily shelved for the last several weeks. Yesterday I peeled and chopped five gallons (20 L) of beets, and today I'm turning 4 gallons (16 L) of tomatoes into spaghetti sauce.

I thought I would at least post a Sunday video yesterday, but my computer hard drive needed some attention, so seven hours went to that...

So here's a Sunday video, on a Monday afternoon, just because I'm listening to a YouTube Taize playlist as I make my spaghetti sauce. This is such a gorgeous Polish chant, attributed to Pope John Paul II, who simply echoed the message of Christ. It translates: "God is love. Keep your courage to live for love. Do not be afraid."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Simple Suggestion #213... Appreciate your present season

Okay, I'll admit it... some seasons are easier to appreciate than others.

These two pictures were taken in the same place only a week apart.
Isn't Autumn something else??

But if you really think about it, every season has its amazement, its miracle.
The snowflakes that will be fluttering to the ground in the Winter ahead, 
when we appreciate warm and cozy places,
the pointed shoots, leaves and buds of Spring 
when we rejoice in the newness of life,
the long, sunny days of Summer, 
when we find moments of rest and relaxation as life grows ...
and now, Autumn's changeability as nature diminishes.

As human beings, we have a tendency to dislike change. 
But part of being human is learning appreciation for all that we receive,
and we receive four seasons a year through our senses. 
Instead of complaining about them 
and their "unseasonable" moments, 
we live happier lives when we can embrace them.
As my grandma Dorothea often said, 
"I could complain, but what good does that do?"

So today's suggestion is one that we can take literally and figuratively.
The earth's seasons have many things for us to enjoy
if only we choose to notice them.
And our life's seasons are the same.
The Spring of my daughters' youthfulness fills me 
with a different kind of joy  
than the late Summer of my soul's stretching 
and the Autumn of my parents' wisdom.

And there are often Spring and Summer-like days in the midst of any season
(for those of us who find Winter harder to appreciate).

For the moment, I'm appreciating Autumn for all I'm worth!

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Click here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rest in God, Father Catfish

He died last night at the age of 42, after surviving stomach cancer that came back in his bones and other places. There's no doubt that his funeral on Friday will be standing room only. He was a man who had many gifts, one of his main ones being that of connecting with youth through his sense of humour, and his love of super heroes, Star Wars, legos, and Pepsi. He was chaplain for Edmonton Catholic Schools and Camp Encounter, and he had his own website with blog postings and hundreds of youtube videos. I chuckle as I read the titles of some of them: "Premarital Sex with Father Catfish" parts 1, 2, 3 and 4(!), "Love! And that's an ORDER!!!" "Dodge Ram! Arrghh Arrghh Arrghh!!" and "Church can be a lot like Facebook," to list just a few. He spent time listening to young people, inviting them to chat about life while sharing a jar of DinoSours at school. He and his dog sang at our daughter's graduation mass in May. He made many poignant health update and other videos as he dealt with his cancer, many of them underlining his belief that God is love.

Rest in that love, Father Michael Mireau.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The party of the half-century

My heart is full of L'Arche this morning. We had such fun at our party of the half-century last night (Edmonton's celebration of the 50 years L'Arche has been in existence around the world). Almost 250 people came for a banquet, sing-and-dance-along, silent auction and dance, and it was a little piece of heaven. As we made a crazy conga line around the dance floor, wheelchairs and all, the many smiling faces made me wonder if heaven could be any more fun!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Four years later...

Displaying IMG_0081.JPGI'm still here, moodling away, although lately, there hasn't been a lot of time to write between working almost full-time and dealing with produce the rest of the time. But today marks the fourth anniversary of this blog, and it's time for my annual update...

To date, I've published 851 moodlings -- including 212 Simple Suggestions. I've received 495 comments from real human beings (but most of my comments have been odd spammy ones like the computer generated goofiness that arrived yesterday, saying, "Thank you for the good account. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you. My website... Notary Public Sacramento CA." Haha, yeah, right. These things always make me laugh all the way to the delete button!!)

And -- believe it or not -- sometime in the last few weeks Simple Moodlings reached more than 100,000 hits, although probably half of them are what's called referrer spam (spamming computers trolling in order to create more traffic to their own websites somehow) rather than real human beings actually reading these writings. Oh well -- I have no illusions when it comes to this blog's popularity, which is next to non-existent. I'm just having fun, writing my love letter to the world... my family and friends... my heroes... L'Arche... Voluntary Simplicity... and gardeners, writers, book lovers, musicians, and moodlers everywhere.

Again, thanks to my faithful readers, to those who leave real live encouraging comments here -- and in person -- and to my family for putting up with my moodling habit. Thank you, thank you very much. I look forward to having more time to spend here in the weeks and months ahead.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A garden's many gifts

There are many reasons to grow a garden, but this is one of my favourite: a cheese sandwich with tasty tomato and sweet cucumber.

I also like sharing with friends and family, knowing exactly where my organic food is coming from and how it's produced, watching things grow, getting my hands into the dirt, and the feeling in my body after a day of good labour.

Thank God for gardening!

And for the sandwich I'm having for lunch!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Your word is a lamp

I'm finding more and more that, as I get older, I need fewer words in my faith life. I suspect that's why Taizé speaks for my faith better than the regular liturgy in my usual place of worship. God’s word is a light to my path, and all those other words that attempt to embellish what is already so clear to me are a distraction from Christ’s simple message to love one another, love God, and most of all, love our enemies (that’s the hardest thing he taught, and I’m still not very good at it!)

Tonight is our first Taizé Prayer of this late summer/autumn/winter season, and it will be held at Assumption Catholic Church (9040 95 Avenue, Edmonton). If you’re in the neighbourhood, come and join us – and bring a friend if you like for some ecumenical, musical, meditative prayer... even for our enemies. 

The chant below is Finnish for “Your word is a lamp, a light on my path.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Scrambling with produce

It's been a wonky week, mainly because we woke up to snow flurries on Monday morning.
We haven't had the accumulations that Calgary is getting, but still, I groan.
Snow in early September?!! Ugh!!
It means we have to scramble to take in the garden before it freezes tonight,
since I don't have enough blankets to cover everything!

Codie McLaughlan took this pic for the Edmonton Sun a couple of blocks from our place.
Fortunately, Edmonton didn't get much whiter than that.
I donned my most waterproof clothing (which didn't turn out to be very waterproof) and spent almost five hours in the garden, salvaging vegetables that, fortunately, hadn't frozen. It was one degree centigrade, and the wind whipped the snow around so that I wondered if a blizzard was on its way. I found myself shivering a few times, which made me decide it was time to change my soaked and very chilly garden gloves. I went through a pair an hour, with little cotton mitts inside them that kept some of the warmth until they got too wet.

My Belgian friend, Gaby, tells me that I look like some sort of astronaut!
There was a lot of organic matter for composting, 

Nine bags of leaves layered amongst bean and squash plants.
and more fruits and vegetables than I realized!  (14 spaghetti squash!)

As always, there were a few cukes that had hidden themselves well and had grown to outrageous size. 

I also harvested Ralph's Romas, 

and found that the biggest, four-fist-sized tomato had a little frosty spot on it...
so 1/4 of it was my lunch for today.
There was definitely more of everything than I realized!

We harvested our pears last weekend, thank goodness, so all that's left to deal with are the pumpkins, kale, chard, onions, leeks, beets, carrots and kohlrabi. 

I managed to salvage four tomato plants growing in my compost bins
and move them into the greenhouse on Saturday (we'll see if they amount to anything),

and our pepper pots are happily settled there, too. 
There should be lots of lovely peppers for spaghetti sauce making in October.

We are extremely fortunate that it didn't freeze outright. There's a lot of work ahead to make the most of all this produce, but it's worth it for a fifty-foot diet. And there's nothing like tomato and cucumber sandwiches this time of year. My favourite!

Thanks again, God, for our garden, and your abundance!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Reflection -- Too much change

It's funny how I always end up on this theme as summer comes to a close. I suppose it's probably because the changes in my garden in early September can't be ignored -- especially when the meteorologists are forecasting frost and snow for the week ahead.

But it also seems that, after the summer's freedoms are reigned in by shorter evenings and cooler temperatures, and we find ourselves indoors facing dark windows, there is time to consider the ebb and flow of life.

Last week, I learned that my neighbour, Olga, would be going into an independent senior's residence. She's already gone, and I didn't even get to have her over for supper one more time, or wish her well in her new digs. Her house is supposed to be put up for sale in the next few weeks, and it brings to mind the changes of last fall, when the 820 sq ft home of another old neighbour was torn down in the space of twenty-five minutes...

to be replaced by...

Though I much preferred Ruby's little house and her amazing garden to this, I've had a year to adjust to the changes across the alley. But losing Olga as a dear neighbour who was next door one day and gone the next makes for a tougher adjustment than living with the mess of having a new home go up behind us. Olga and I won't be chatting across our front lawns as we dig dandelions together from here on. I've just lost my fourth good gardener neighbour in five years.

And there are other changes happening in the neighbourhood -- homes being sold, others being knocked down and replaced, some people moving away, and others moving in. Change is the only constant... and I guess there's no choice but to live with that fact.

But Gracious God, please slow it down just a little! If you'd hold off on that frost for another week or two, I'd really appreciate it...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How Lucy made my day

Yesterday was a big day at L'Arche, or so it seemed. Because it was the first work day in September at our Community Centre, most people who had been away on vacation returned, and we were almost at full capacity for the first time in what seemed like ages.

So what better time to have a fire drill? Especially since people don't complain as much about hurrying outdoors sans coats on a pleasant September morning!

There we all were, standing outside in the courtyard's sunshine, cracking jokes, greeting those we hadn't seen in a while, and responding to Barb's roll call, when Lucy* spied me and began to gesture that I come to her.

I've always felt a special connection to Lucy. She's non-verbal -- and I remember her from church when I was maybe ten or twelve years old. When she gets excited, she makes a sort of eehhhnnn, eehhhnnn sound, the meaning of which can be hard to decipher. But when I reached her side, she took my arm and pulled me down to her wheelchair level -- and delivered a great big warm hug.

There was no mistaking the meaning of the sounds she was making then. She was telling me, "I'm so glad to see you!"

And I told her that she made my day.

*I use pseudonyms for all of my friends with disabilities.