Friday, January 31, 2014

A Friday smile

I don't care how old you are... if you haven't seen it and have the resources to do so, go see Disney's Frozen. It's the most delightful thing -- the animation is fantastic, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez have written some absolutely incredible show tunes, and Josh Gad's snowman makes me laugh... "Put me in summer and I'll be a .... !" Here's a sweet reminder that winter doesn't last forever. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Simple Suggestion #192... Try natural hair care

After many months of living without shampoo and conditioner, I figured it was time for an update on a Simple Suggestion I posted back in April. That one suggested checking out the Queen of Green, Lindsay Coulter, who is a wonderful resource when it comes to simple and sustainable living, but it was actually about alternative hair care.

The idea of low chem hair care seems to be catching on. In the past week, a friend told me she has dropped shampoo from her life thanks to apple cider vinegar, and I've seen two Facebook posts about soda/vinegar hair cleansing. People are slowly waking up to the fact that the chemicals and parfums in shampoos, conditioners and other personal care products just aren't good for our overall health. So they're opting for simpler solutions.

I'll admit that I was skeptical about the soda and vinegar idea, but since starting the routine back in April, I've had softer hair than ever before, with less dandruff. It only makes sense, if you think about it. Shampoo tends to strip hair of its natural oils, and then conditioner cakes on other chemicals so hair and scalp have to work harder to get back into balance. But the soda/vinegar routine has fewer chemicals and a better pH balance without the hormone disrupters and neurotoxins sometimes found in so-called professional products. On occasion, I've tried my old shampoo again, and discovered that it turned my hair into scented straw and gave me an itchy scalp.

So here's what I do for my natural hair care: I keep an old 1 cup (250ml) measure, a bottle of apple cider vinegar and a box of baking soda in my bathroom cupboard. I put a splash (maybe 2 tbsp or 30 mL) of vinegar in the bottom of the measuring cup, set it on the bottom of the shower, and pour a little baking soda (again, maybe 2 tbsp or 30 mL) into my hand. Once in the shower, I wet the soda a little and work it through my hair. Then I fill the vinegar measuring cup to the top with water for a rinse. Easy peasy! Just have to be careful not to get the vinegar in my eyes and nose. A spray bottle of vinegar water would make it easy to clean my body the same way, but I haven't found a spray bottle yet.

And for those who like to put a little something in their hair to spike it up or smooth it down, honey has a similar texture to many store-bought pomades. Granted, it's a bit sticky, but I'd rather have sticky than something full of questionable substances with names that I can't pronounce. For those who wonder, bees have never paid any attention whatsoever to my hair, and I'm out in the garden with them a fair bit in the summer. I usually add a little water to the honey (a quarter teaspoon of each, warmed in the microwave) when I'm smoothing my hair down, and when dry, my hair feels like it's been hairsprayed.

In our chemically complicated world, there are ways to make personal care simple. If you have any that work for you and that you're willing to share, I'd love to hear about them!

P.S. For more Simple Suggestions, click here.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Catching up on my girls' music

When I was growing up, my music permeated my parents' lives (whether they liked it or not) because the main source of the latest hits was the radio. Then came the SONY walkman and numerous other personal devices that meant kids could listen to tunes without driving their parents around the bend. Not that I ever had one -- my parents never complained, either. At least, not that I can remember.

These days, thanks to the advent of the iPod, it's harder for me to keep up with our girls' musical tastes. When they do play their music so that I can actually hear it, I'm always having to ask, "Which artist is this? What is this song?" because I'm so far behind the times due to the fact that their earphones keep their music out of earshot most of the time.

But every so often, a song creeps out because someone is humming it, or they play a song for each other while doing the dishes... and I get a taste of something new. The song Royals isn't new anymore (it's been out for over a year) -- but it won 17-year-old New Zealander, Lorde, her first Grammy on Sunday. It only came to my attention in the last couple of weeks. I had to go online yesterday to hear it again... and learned that Lorde is a lovely girl with a smoky voice and some great melodies.

This morning, I stumbled across another version of Royals that really knocked my slippers off! Walk off the Earth (from Burlington, Ontario) has done their own extremely complex version of the song, in which group members sing and play ukuleles while going through a very complex sequence of movements to provide percussion at the same time. As one member explains, "There's not a free beat in the tune." In the background, you'll see "Beard Guy" playing the didgeridoo -- I couldn't figure out what he was doing the first time through, but if you watch "Royals -- BEHIND THE SCENES" you'll get a better sense of the effort (and flying ukes) required to make a really amazing video. Definitely a talented bunch! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

God is light, and we are reflectors!

My turn to give a reflection at Emmaus Inclusive Catholic Community today...

First Reading: Isaiah 9.1-4
Psalm 27
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1.10-13 and 17-18
Gospel Reading: Matthew 4.12-23

Today's readings contain such riches, and challenges, for us to consider. I have always loved the idea of God being light, and we hear it over and over in today’s scripture.

To begin with, we have Isaiah’s prophecy that all those who live in the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali will see a great light. Zebulun and Naphtali were two step-brothers of Joseph the dreamer, lesser known sons of Jacob. They settled in the lands eventually known as Galilee, where, as we hear in the Gospel reading, Jesus began his ministry after John the Baptist’s arrest. The descendants of Zebulun and Napthali were among the first to be sent to Assyria during the Babylonian captivity, which means that they lived the longest in the darkness of exile. Isaiah is encouraging them, saying that they will eventually be especially blessed... and he was right. Jesus to began his ministry in Galilee, among the descendents of Zebulun and Naphtali, so they heard God's word from God's lips first! When I think of Jesus, I imagine him to be the warmest, kindest, most loving person to ever walk the earth. I don’t work nearly as hard as the Galilean people did, but I get goosebumps when I imagine Jesus saying to me, “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”

In Psalm 127, we hear that “God is my light and my salvation,” echoing Isaiah’s words about God bringing light. At this end of salvation history, we can see that Jesus IS the goodness of our God in the land of the living – so of course we can take heart and hope in God!

Then we have St. Paul pleading for unity in the minds and hearts of the Christians in Corinth. Paul is basically telling them that everyone belongs to God, and that Jesus himself, through the wisdom of accepting his own suffering on the cross, wants the Corinthians -- and us -- to accept life as he did, to see wisdom and God’s light in each other, and to love one another as sisters and brothers even through disagreements and sufferings.

Finally, in the Gospel we see Jesus actually fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy, being God’s light for the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali by teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of God’s reign, and curing people of EVERY disease and EVERY sickness. God is light, and the light has come in Jesus.

But sometimes it’s not easy to see God's light in our world today. We live in a society that has many diseases and sicknesses, and not just the physical kind, some of which are visible in the way we handle ourselves, one another, and the planet God has given to us. Many people seem to forget that life, all life, is sacred, especially when that life is causing them inconvenience. It’s so easy to get caught up in the me-first thinking of individualism, the my-stuff-first thinking of materialism, consumerism and capitalism, and the my-species-first thinking of putting human interests above the interests of the rest of creation. Somehow, though, I don’t think God intended for us to drive other created beings, or ourselves, to extinction!

I think that if Jesus was here in the flesh today, he would want to cure us of these ways of thinking because they are bringing about so much unwellness in our world. We are living on a planet that is ailing because we are using it up almost faster than it is able to regenerate itself. We have poisonous tailings ponds killing our brothers and sisters in Fort Chipewyan, supertyphoons killing our brothers and sisters in the Philippines, the dumping of waste killing our sister and brother species who live in the oceans, terrorism and fear killing our brothers and sisters of many species in Central African Republic, South Sudan and Syria, depression and addictions killing our sisters and brothers in downtown Edmonton, and our own hopelessness and apathy adding to it all.

But darkness can't drive away light -- and you can't "shine darkness" into the corner of a room. The only way we have darkness is if we remove light. Light immediately banishes darkness, and Jesus, the light who shines in the darkness, offers us hope and wants us to be hope with him! He gives us many ideas about possible cures for individualism, materialism, consumerism, capitalism, and extinction of organisms throughout the Gospels. 

Even just his beatitudes tell us so much about how to turn these things around. To paraphrase: Live like the poor in spirit, and understand our place in the web of creation. Live like those who are in mourning, and understand what is really important in life, rather than chasing after material things that leave us unsatisfied. Live meekly, and the earth will be able to provide for everyone’s needs. Hunger and thirst for righteousness in every situation, and bring about the common good for all of creation. Be merciful, and receive mercy and compassion. Be peacemakers, and fear not because all of creation is God’s beloved. And even when being laughed at or persecuted otherwise for doing all these good things, know that the kin-dom is already present in our actions.

I know that’s a strange paraphrase, but I am a practitioner of what is called Voluntary Simplicity, and that’s how I have come to hear Jesus’ Beatitude message over time. Practicing Voluntary Simplicity means that I am doing my best to live in God’s creation as simply as possible, with as few possessions as I can get away with, doing as little damage to the earth as I possibly can. I do this because I think it’s part of coming out of the darkness of individualism and consumerism and living in harmony with all that God created. 

If God is light, I am a reflector! So it means that I set an example. I avoid buying things I don’t really need. My family gets by with only one vehicle, which can be rather inconvenient, but we make it work. We make an effort to grow our own food as much as possible. We think about our brothers and sisters in the developing world and use our purchasing power to support fair employment practices for them. We work at composting and reducing waste, fixing things instead of sending them to the dump. We turn off lights and appliances when not in use, and turn down the heat to conserve energy for future generations. I could go on and on, but I already have!

I believe that Jesus, being the light of the world, calls us all to reflect his light for the world, and how we live and use the planet’s resources speaks volumes about the light we have been shown. St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, wrote a beautiful song singing the praises of all of God’s creation and how Brothers Sun, Wind, Air, Fire, and Sisters Moon, Water, Earth and Death show God to us. If we can live in the same kind of awareness that Francesco did, an awareness of God’s light in everything, we will see many opportunities to make choices to protect God’s creation, and to spread light rather than increase the darkness that is trying to engulf our world through human selfishness. We will find ourselves rejoicing before God “as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing" -- the winnings of the lottery, or whatever is today's definition of "plunder.” Our yoke, the burdens of our brothers and sisters, and the rod of oppression weighing down God’s creation will be lifted.

Still, I sometimes get overwhelmed by the weight of the oppression of creation and our human family, but my good spiritual director often reminds me, “It’s not up to you to save the world, Maria. Jesus already did that.” Then I remember that my job is to start small, but to make a start, acting justly, loving tenderly, and walking humbly with all of God’s creation as Jesus did. I’m guessing we each can do one small, simple thing to lighten the burden on creation today, to shine a little light in a dark corner. And maybe we can do a different one tomorrow.

So I’d like to invite us all into a little discussion about finding our way out of the darkness and allowing God’s light to shine through us in our small, personal acts that leave individualism, over-consumption and materialism behind. What are some practical things that you already do to live more lightly in God’s creation? And what is one small thing that you’ve never done, or have been meaning to do, something that you could start doing tomorrow? 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How many Global Millennials do you know?

Last Thursday I moodled about listening, and mentioned that I would be attending a workshop for people from across Western Canada who accompany or companion (listen to, care about, challenge, empower) the young assistants who work in our L'Arche homes for people with and without disabilities. As promised, here's a snapshot of what I learned, much of which is helpful to me as the mother of daughters who fall in the same age range as our assistants.

The young people who live and work with people with disabilities in L'Arche (and my daughters) are part of an amazing group. Most of them fall into the Global Millennial demographic, meaning that they were born between 1980 and 2000, and as such, are the first people on the planet to come of age at a time boasting both virtual and physical reality -- the world generated by computer technology and the world as we experience it without digital screens, through our five senses. As our presenter, University of Lethbridge sociologist, James Penner, often reminded us, they are natives when it comes to life in cyberspace, while those of us born before the 80's are immigrants. (I am reminded of that fact every time I have to ask one of my girls for help with our cell phone! And it's not even the latest and greatest version!)

James unpacked a lot of information about Global Millennials for our group, ideas that will hopefully help us to be better accompaniers. For example, we learned that the core values of these young people aren't very different from our own  (friendship, freedom, trust, honesty, being loved...) -- but that the things they worry about rank differently than the concerns of other demographic groups. The fact that they are living in a world of technology has done little for their sense of purpose, security and belonging. They have grown up in a world where human work is becoming devalued and replaced more and more by machines, where the economy's bottom line trumps everything, where hands-off (day care) parenting has been the norm for many families, and where capitalism has turned the planet into one big resource to be exploited.

The good news is that many Global Millennials are seeing through the myths that present-day consumer culture expects them to adopt as truths. They are beginning to understand deep down that the absolute autonomy and independence of individualism won't carry them as far as the interdependence they can find in community. They are learning that the pursuit of money, pleasure and possessions above all else is a sure way to emptiness and loneliness. They have started to see, quite clearly, that having a bunch of titles or degrees after one's name is no guarantee of success, and that personal identity goes beyond what a person does for a living.

"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality," said Martin Luther King Jr. And so, an awareness of what our Global Millennials are up against can aid us to be better listeners who can help them toward a fulfilling adulthood. The young people I accompany both in L'Arche and at home have many gifts and talents, but don't always see their own potential, so the trick is to grab hold of opportunities to underline their value and steer them toward meaningful adulthood. If we can name their value for our world, and head them in a direction where they'll find opportunities to put their talents and passions to work, the world will only be better for it.

James Penner has had more than your average amount of experience in working with young people, which makes him an excellent and practical presenter on reaching out to our youth because he's been doing just that most of his life. He has much valuable information for parents, educators and faith communities, and his website can be found by clicking here. He's also written some very interesting books that can be found under the bookshop tab. I really enjoyed hearing his presentations and getting to know a man who is passionate about making a difference in the lives of youth -- and their supporters.

I'll leave you with a TED talk, part of which James shared with us. Peter L. Benson pioneered work on the positive facets of youth development (rather than the negatives, which are often what research looks at). Focusing on their positives is definitely a much more helpful way to understand and support our young people in our challenging world, a way that empowers them. Just think what the world would be like if we all operated according to our spark!

How many Global Millennials do you know? And if you have the opportunity, can you help them name their spark?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It's coming together!

My first garden catalogue has arrived, the days are getting a wee bit longer, and I'm getting the itch. My hubby has been very busy for the last few weekends working on our backyard garden-shed-retrofit-to-greenhouse (you can see the external reno work last August by clicking here). Things have been changing slowly, as Lee finds time on weekends.

Here's a shot from November, when he swept off our "sunshine ceiling."
I like the pear tree's shadow on the snow.

Most weekends, it's been pretty chilly in there 
and Lee's had to run a little space heater to keep from freezing, 
but this past weekend, he was able to work sans heater in just a jean jacket
because it was above 0 C (32 F) and the sun was beating in.

In September, if you recall, he lifted the old floor, and we had the soil underneath
tested to be certain that it wasn't contaminated with asbestos
(hence the hazmat suit). It wasn't -- it's actually decent soil.

In October, Lee made like an earth mover, digging trenches for
the installation of an underground heat-saving system 
(so that, hopefully, we can use our greenhouse's solar heat
to operate it nine months of the year).
Then he put in a new floor, leaving a small planting area 
next to our southern exposure. We can always pull up
flooring for more in-floor planting space if we want it.

For the past two months, he's been insulating the walls
where we don't have much solar gain.

As is the case with retrofit renos, not everything is square,
and it's taken Lee some figuring and jiggling to make things work.

The long beam on the right side, which we will be able to use for 
hanging plants, was a real challenge to put in (we were sore after that).
 I hope I won't be cursing the telepost too much as I work in the space 
(something has to support that beam -- it's heavy!)

We still have a ways to go before I can start seedlings out there, 
but it should be ready for peppers and tomato plants in March,
God-willing and fingers crossed!
I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Learning the art of listening

For the next three days, I'll be attending a workshop put on by L'Arche's Western Region for those who accompany L'Arche assistants who work with our people with disabilities. I'm very much looking forward to it, because I have been accompanying some assistants over the last few years, and haven't always felt like I knew how to listen well enough.

Socrates is credited with saying, "The unexamined life is not worth living." In accompaniment, I listen, and hold out what I hear so that the assistant can examine it and decide if changes are required. I also offer encouragement and try to ensure that the assistant knows how to access what he or she needs to be good at caring for himself or herself and to live with people with disabilities in mutual relationship.

Henri Nouwen speaks beautifully about the spiritual hospitality offered when we listen:

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations.  True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known.   They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept. 
Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond.  Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings.  The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves.  Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you. 
--Henri Nouwen  Bread for the Journey, March 11

I find that listening to assistants is easy because we set time aside just for that, I have no personal agenda when they come to visit, I find them so interesting, and I want to help them see how amazing they are. I also want to help my own family discover their own true selves, but somehow it's harder to listen well when life is making its day-to-day demands. I'm very fortunate to have and be a good sounding board with my husband, but it's not so easy with our children because all that parenting stuff gets in the way, if you know what I mean.

Motherhood means that I'm often distracted from what they are telling me by what I think I need to say to them. I'm not really listening as much as looking for an opening to remind them about their chores or some mundane thing that's not really important. I'm not paying them the kind of attention that helps them to discover their own goodness. Other times I want to listen, but they're too busy, and I think it would be great to tie them to a chair so that I can be sure that I'm hearing what they're really saying -- and what they're not! 

Perhaps I just need to remind myself more often to be open to those moments when they are trying to tell me something important -- or when they're seemingly talking about nothing. I need to remind myself that when they are talking, it's usually a run up to what they really want to say, and I need to make time for them to actually say it, as I do when accompanying L'Arche assistants.

Learning the art of listening is a tricky business. I'm hoping this weekend's workshop will help me to be more comfortable with my position as accompanier, and with my own vocation as a parent. Watch this space, as I hope to share what I learn.

Who do you really listen to? Who really listens to you?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Simple Suggestion #191... Lose a vehicle (more than 10 good reasons to...)

Here's a suggestion for the more hardcore city-dwelling simplicity seekers among us -- although we've done it, and I don't really consider us to be hardcore...

We North Americans are so reliant on our cars, trucks, SUVs, etc... that it's rare for us to stop and think about how much they complicate our lives. How much of our money and life energy do we spend on gas, insurance, registration, maintenance, repairs, and parking each year? And how often do we find ourselves driving from one event to the next with barely a chance to breathe between trips, simply because we can?

We can, but should we?

Now that I think about it, there have been many benefits to being a single vehicle family:

1. We've had a less hectic life because we can't head off in all directions all the time.
2. We communicate more about our comings and goings, activities, appointments and our lives in general.
3. We've relied more on less carbon-consumptive mass transit (read: saved fossil fuels).
4. Over-scheduling has vanished as we've been forced to choose fewer activities, but ones that mean more to us.
5. Our girls have learned independence when it comes to getting around by bike or bus (my hubby and I catch the bus more now, too).
6. We've connected more often with friends and family regarding carpooling possibilities.
7. We've gotten to know some of our neighbours at the bus stop.
8. On the social justice side of things, by choosing alternative methods of transportation, we live more in solidarity with those in our world who will never afford a vehicle.
9. Perhaps most importantly in this world of climate-change-induced-wacky-weather, we're cutting our vehicular carbon emissions in half.
10. There's more time to think about life as we walk from one place to another, and to read books/study on the bus.

Losing/giving up a vehicle might seem hardcore to the average North American who has a hectic life that requires more than one, but really, it's not. Hardcore is what I would like to be (except for those days when I have an appointment that's difficult to reach by bus -- I'll admit it, I'm a wuss). Hardcore means not having a vehicle at all, and I know quite a few folks who live car-less. Hardcore in their case means they're less rushed and more relaxed about life because they know that they and their families don't have to be everywhere or do everything. They know it's okay to just BE.

After all, life should be more than driving yourself from one thing to the next. Don't you think?

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

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Monday morning treat

A friend posted this on FaceBook on the weekend, and I can't resist sharing. Tap and Irish dance both amaze me. I can't get over the speed of those feet, or the height to which these guys jig! Athletes, all (imagine an Olympic event in dance...) And the sax and fiddle aren't too shabby either! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mon ame se repose

My soul rests in peace in God alone... I have always loved this. If our souls can't rest in God, they can't rest... and I always seem to find some peace resting in this music, too. Tonight we will be singing this chant at Taizé Prayer, 7 p.m. at St. Thomas D’Aquin Catholic Church (8410-89 Street) in Edmonton. All are welcome to join us. Thanks to Mostar Taize for sharing this video through YouTube. Enjoy.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A little reuse music

Here's a great little performing group that was posted on the Master Composter Recycler Facebook Page (thanks for sharing, Craig) -- see, good people sharing stuff like this is another reason to join the MC/R program (#1 in yesterday's moodling)! The guy playing the balloon cracked me up (I've tried that once or twice to loud disapproval) and the lampstand guitar is pretty cute, too. Your weekend smile. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Simple Suggestion #190... Turn over a new leaf (and/or some old ones)

The words "New Year's Resolution" haven't quite faded from people's conversations or the media this year, not yet. So here are a couple of ideas along that line.

#1. In 2014, why not learn more about composting, recycling, and generally keeping waste to a minimum? The City of Edmonton is now taking applications for its Master Composter/Recycler Program, an excellent course that teaches citizens composting basics and almost everything you'd ever want to know about reducing, reusing, recycling, recovering, and refusing to mess up our planet any further. It also offers all sorts of ideas/contacts/connections/volunteer opportunities to be explored for years to come. I took the course in 2007, and it dovetailed so well with my efforts toward Voluntary Simplicity that I'm always recommending it in my Simplicity Study Circles. Deadline for applications is February 20th. Click here for the application and more information.

#2. In 2014, why not Simplify? There are so many aspects of our lives that are over-complicated by the consumption-based society in which we live -- food, clothing, employment, entertainment, cooking and housekeeping, self care, transportation, banking -- you name it, the marketers have stolen many simple ways of living in the name of profit. Half the battle is awareness, and that's why I'm inviting anyone interested to join me and a group of other simplicity seekers at 7 p.m. on Monday evening, January 13th, at Abby Road Coop (10950 82 Avenue) for conversation about ways to
If you don't live near enough to enjoy the latest incarnation of Simplicity Study Circles, there are all sorts of Simple Suggestions in these moodlings, and hopefully all sorts of books in the library nearest you about composting, recycling, and living more simply.

So there are two great ways to turn over a new leaf and show concern for our environment by our actions, and, perhaps, to turn over many old ones in a compost pile!

P.S. For more Simple Suggestions, click here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A dream come true... partly!

One year ago, I caught a bus to a local press just off Whyte Avenue and dropped off the manuscript for the novel that had taken me 10 years to write and have edited by a dear friend. After so much effort and previous rejection, I wasn't going to let my manuscript sit for months in just anyone's slush pile, so I chose my publisher very carefully. Seven months later, I received another rejection letter, so I sort of shelved the project because I was too busy with other writing at the time to give it much more thought.

But on Christmas Eve, I opened an envelope announcing a "very special gift opening" during which my novel would be launched -- "Go check the bookshelf, Mom." I was crying tears of joy before I even had my book -- MY BOOK!!! -- in my hands!

But for my sneaky family, who knows how long my little project would have stayed on the shelf. In December, my daughter attended a free session at the Edmonton Public Library where she learned about a new book printing machine there. She and my hubby came up with a secret plan to publish two copies of my book, raiding my computer for the necessary files to do a pretty darn great job of making a book.

Seeing these two hard copies has me thinking and dreaming once again about how to get my story into the hands of the public where it can actually touch some hearts and do some good. Many thanks to the amazing people in my life for helping my dream toward reality!

Watch this space for more news on a future, full-sized, public book/e-book launch...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Feast of the Magi (Epiphany)

Funny how much we take for granted that we know about the Magi... because they brought the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, it's assumed there was one magus per gift. The richness of the gifts seems to indicate that they were wealthy, but kings? And the fact that they came from the east (Iran, perhaps) and were following a star probably indicates that they were Zoroastrian seekers who read the sky for signs and portents more properly understood by mystics and prophets, rather than kings.

Whoever they were, they found the One they sought, and disappeared into history, showing the way, but leaving us to wonder about them, making it possible for writers like me to pen stories like Monica's Epiphany. Today, they remind us that redemption is not just for those who call themselves Christians, but for everyone on the planet, and, I would argue, for all of creation, from the smallest living thing to the largest whale. God became human in Jesus, and lives in each one of us for the good of all.

I think there must be some Celt in my blood, or maybe it's my husband's side rubbing off on me, but I love the sound of this video... and some of the pictures are really interesting. Happy Epiphany Sunday!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A snowy walk with a small dog

It's actually raining here today, but I thought I'd share some pics from a few days ago when there was fresh snow and Shadow and I took a walk... If you've never walked a dog on a snowy day, this will give you some idea of what it's like.

It was so snowy, we hardly knew we were in the city...

same place on a sunny day below...

Pictures don't quite do justice to a prance-y pup. 
Here's a wee video.

The way he shakes delights me, fur, legs and tail all flapping.
Happy New Year!