Monday, July 2, 2018

Oh June.

I was at another funeral this month.

(Last year I had 4 friends who were looking for care homes for their 90-something-year-old father-in-laws or step-dads. Three of those men passed away this Spring. Sandra's father-in-law's funeral was in April. Val's father-in-law's funeral was in May. And Kim's step-dad's funeral was in June.)

I didn't know Kim's step-dad, Ron, even a little bit. But I couldn't stop the tears from dripping like a faucet while I sat in the back row of his service. What a life. What a legacy of love. Just like Fred's funeral (where Jesse, his grandson, ran the show), Ron's granddaughter, Nikki, did the same at his. She shared stories for over an hour. Her audience showed no signs of being restless or bored. She was a gifted story-teller and his life was an entertaining novel.

Funerals/end-of-life services always make me think about what mine may be like someday. Will my kids/grandkids say "she loved us well"? When I get to heaven will God say, "Well done, you."?


Earlier this month I walked with Maxine. While we sat on a bench at Kit's watching the sun set and the clouds roll in, we talked about the young dad of 4 kids who died while she was administering CPR to him. He was on a motorcycle, and was hit by a car, right in front of her. She was the first on the scene and OH MY GOODNESS, I cannot imagine.

I am so, so proud of her. 
And in awe of her ability and willingness to hold and comfort and help under such heart-breaking circumstances. God chose her to be the one to arrive first. What an honor and a responsibility. 

My thoughts often return to the two men who were involved in that accident. The motorcycle driver was Clint's age. And the driver of the car was Max's age. I ache and pray for their families. 


After a busy weekend (June 8, 9) that included a birthday dinner with friends on Friday night, 

Singing Happy Birthday in harmony ...
Flowers from Shelly's garden to meeee

... Ron's funeral on Saturday afternoon, and a walk along the Vedder with Sandra on Saturday evening - I met Val at Starbuck's for a long debrief on Sunday evening. 

There's just something about hanging out with 'your' person. The one who knows your Before and your After. The one who understands your shorthand sentences. The one who listens without judging. The one who is always there. God knew what he was doing when He made her mom and my grandma sisters.

This would be a good spot to post a pic of how opposite we appear. She's tiny and dark. I'm big and blonde. She's married and has 10 grandchildren. I'm not and have none. 
Haha. It so doesn't matter. 

I met with Kim on Wednesday night because I needed to know MORE. More about her mom and step -dad's marriage, more about the impact that Billy Graham crusade had on their lives, more about her prayers, more about her teenaged-self and the addition of a step-dad to the mix. Just more. 

In case you're thinking that sounds like a terribly intense evening, it was lightened up by our hunt for pretty book covers in Chapters. (Our summer book club reading category is "A Book Chosen Solely by the Appeal of It's Cover".) Yes. That was fun. And if in another life I have a choice of careers, I'd want to be a graphic designer who designs book covers and milled soap packaging.) (Yes, that is a very specific career.) 


I had my final dentist appointment on Thursday afternoon. 
My two permanent front teeth were concreted in the previous week and I was getting a new eye tooth at 4 pm. 

Me, attempting a toothy grin. I WILL NEVER GET USED TO SMILING WITH TEETH. 

(and yes, the bang project is not going well.)

My dentist had a surprise for me. 
He'd been thinking of my mouth all week, and just wasn't satisfied with those front gnashers. 
SO WE WERE STARTING OVER. Out with the old, errrhh, new, and in with the brand new... or something. 
I was expecting a simple 30 minute 'let's pop this eye tooth in' appointment and instead had a three hour drilling and grinding and DOING ANOTHER IMPRESSION OR SIX with the dreaded 'cords'.

He won't be using that original lab again. New lab. New impression. More appointments. 
My bangs and teeth. Seriously. The on-goingness of these projects is ridiculous. 

I am so disappointed in the appearance of my head. 
Well, and the rest of me, to be honest. Menopause has not been kind. 

ANYWAY, with a frozen mouth (he needed to top me up twice, because, well, PAIN) and a face with no make-up left on it, I went grocery shopping for the weekend. Because...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 9 am on Friday morning I was at the airport picking up Vern!
We shared a dorm 139 years ago at CBI. And we were re-union-ing this weekend!
Instead of going straight up to the lake, I took her to my fav walking area, The Olmpic Village Seawall. Which I am totally not used to doing before noon on a work day. In case you're wondering? It. Is. Lovely. Even. Before. Noon. 

Know what I regret?
This was the last photo I took THE ENTIRE WEEKEND.
Not a single one of Vern. 
None of me n Vern. 
And none of Me, Vern, Sherry and Lori on Saturday night when we had dinner on the deck. 

Some days I am such a loser. 

The good thing about being super busy before hosting a reunion weekend, is you don't have a lot of time to be anxious about it. But as we walked around the seawall talking about our lives, it occurred to me that I hadn't cooked a meal for anyone (other than my kids, six times a year) since 2013. And the last time I'd had Vern, Lori and Sherry to the lake was four years ago... what if everyone was on some sort of dietary restriction? What if someone was dairy-free, and someone else was gluten-free? Or sugar free? Or  vegan? Or vegetarian? 

I'd planned to serve a chicken stir-fry on Friday night for Vern and I. And a baked ham and scalloped potatoes on Saturday night, for the four of us. I'd asked others to bring a salad, French bread, dessert ... The snacks I bought included such grown-up fare as Smarties and Cheezies. And chocolates. 

What if no one ate? 
My original thought was to suggest we go out for dinner. That way if they wanted to discuss how much sugar was in the balsamic vinegar or how much salt was in the miso sauce (as per my recent dinner out with friends), they could chat with the waiter or chef. BUT conversations have to end when the restaurant closes, and from experience, we can talk long past closing time. 

So I sucked up all my hostessing and food prep insecurities and moved forward with Plan A, which was to sit on the deck, eat all the food, and talk until we felt sleepy.

AGAIN, I have no photos, so I'll have to use my words. 

Vern and I sat on the deck all afternoon, talking (her in the shade, me in the sun) until we realized it was 4:15 pm. I ran upstairs to get out of my bathing suit and have a quick shower that did not include washing my hair because There Was No Time. Meanwhile, Vern put the ham, potatoes, carrots and onions into the oven. While she set the table, I wandered around outside looking for wildflowers to put on the table. Lori arrived while I was attacking a butterfly bush. And by the time I was back inside, Sherry had pulled up as well. 

Lori brought a fresh soft loaf of french bread and a basket of fresh local strawberries. Sherry brought a ceasar salad and two Cosctco cakes: chocolate tuxedo and strawberry shortcake. 

Eventually we got everything to the table and.
And we ate everything. 
And then some. 

Haha. We each had two desserts. One of each. 
And as the evening wore on, we ate all the fresh strawberries. 

And we just kept on talking. 
And then Lori brought out the Cheezies and chocolates and Smarties. 
And I completely relaxed and felt not-judged or less-than or inconsiderate. 
These? Are my people.

We talked and laughed and cried for seven hours. 
And it wasn't near long enough.

After everyone left, I felt like we'd barely scratched the surface. 
(Since then, I've replayed portions of our evening over again in my mind and wish we paused longer on certain topics. Our lives are messy and full and rich and sad and heart-breaking and too short and too hard and so fun and terribly confusing.)

I took one selfie this weekend because Vern kept saying how much she liked my hair in a ponytail. 
Which is a lazy look, not anything to be proud of. Especially since I'd slept on it two night in a row without brushing it out or anything. 

I am getting lazier as the years go by. 

I dropped Vern off at the airport on Sunday evening then zipped back to the lake. I was taking Monday off work to recharge my batteries. INTROVERTS do this. We love people. We love spending time with people. But it drains our batteries/tanks. We refill by spending time alone. In the sun. By a beach. With a book. 

Or on the deck in the sliver of sunshine next to a fan. 

Monday night was our final book club meeting before the summer break, reading a title from the category of "Books I Should Have Read In High School But Didn't". We had alot of great recommendations, including Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, but after a close vote we ended up reading/discussing JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. 

Have you read it? 
So much to talk about yes?
We discussed it all. And then some.

I love book club evenings. 

If you're wondering about our category system, check out this blog. 
This is her suggested category list for 2018. (We were using some of her 2017 suggestions, then made up some of our own...)

 On Thursday we had a professional development day at work. 
Usually this means I take a lot of photos of the rest of the staff doing team-building activities (shudder and gag) but this year I was a team leader so I had to participate. 

Our first activity was to build something out of Lego. I was the Project Manager in this game, just like I am in real life. I had a team of 4 builders. I was to assign various roles, and then USING WORDS ONLY, describe the structure they were to build based on a set of terrible black n white photo copies of the actual final product. I knew I would NEVER be able to describe what I was seeing because I had no idea what I was seeing. There was no depth, no colour, no 3-D imaging. It was a mess. So I asked Hollie to assist me. (Assuming she's used to seeing incomplete instructions like this. After all, it was her boss's activity.) 

We were given 15 minutes and a bunch of rules.
Some teams were marginally more successful than others.
We discussed all the learning outcomes from an activity like this.

As a project manager it was a confirmation for me that the outcome is only as good as the client's vision. If it's clear, then everything that follows is pretty straightforward. If it's hazy/blurry/undefined/unclear - well... then you get what you asked for. 
I guess this is true for just about anything. Like parenting. Or marriage relationships. Or family dynamics. Vacations. Weekend getaways. 
What specifically are you hoping for? 
What are the realistic steps to getting it?
Is everyone on the team in agreement? 
Are y'all working towards the same goal?

A paper airplane contest.
Two planes per person. 

To get yours inside one of the hula hoops, thrown from the roof-top deck onto the lower deck. 
(Yes, I work in a beautiful building.)

Yeah. No one was successful. 
We are not engineers. 

Then, we divided up into groups of 5 and using five words each, told each other positive things about each other. (Each person told each person in the group five positive words.) Those words were printed onto tiny stickers and stuck to our faces; like so:

This is my face:

Which is similar to an activity that we did at Arrow. 
On birthdays, we were all to affirm the qualities and character of the birthday person.

And on special occasions, we were given a list of about 100 positive words, and were to chose the top five words that best described the person in the hot seat. 

Very affirming. And humbling. And eye opening. And tear-inducing. 

(Reminded me abit of those NA cake meetings. Where friends would let you know how your sobriety has impacted them. Powerful words.)

ANYWAY, that's what we did at work.
In case you were wondering what happens on a development day.

Afterwards, I joined Terry and Sandra in Vancouver, because it was The Longest Day of The Year aka SUMMER!

We ate at the Beach house and watched the sun set over Kits Beach:

Then we drove over to Jericho beach for another view:

I think I've been on this beach one other time in my life. 
How sad is that?
Will def have to do this again. 


On Friday, during lunch, my team and I watched a half hour presentation by Immaculee Ilibagiza which is still sitting heavy on my chest ten days later. I've got her book right here beside me and it will probably be my book-of-choice this week. 

"Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee's family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans.
Incredibly, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them."
The book is HER story. And the presentation was about the Power of Forgiveness, but I'm thinking about that pastor. And the risk he took, hiding 8 women in his bathroom, not letting his wife or kids know what was going on. When unspeakable evil rages on around us, there are quiet heroes doing their little bit to make a difference. 

Lord, let me have the courage to be like that pastor when the time comes. 


On Sat June 23, I was at the lake by myself, thinking about a few things:

1. This was supposed to be Carson's wedding day. (Carson was my former boss at Arrow; his wife, Brenda died of cancer a few years ago.) He and Ruth announced their relationship/engagement on his blog in March
" the spirit of the expansive love of God, and with the support of our families, and dear Brenda’s family, I knelt on one knee and asked Ruth if she would marry me. She said yes and we are planning to be married the end of June in a small intimate family wedding, on a small island in the Pacific. We look forward to leaning into how God is going to use our companionship and love, to further His ministry through us."

And then the absolute worst thing ever happened: Ruth was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer on May 20 and passed away on May 28. Her funeral was June 1. Carson wrote about this on June 17.

And on June 23, I was thinking about how sad both families must be. He wrote about the day that didn't go as planned here. 

So. Yes. A Sad Day.

2. And it was also the birthday of someone I knew only on-line. Judy and I both chatted a couple times a month for the past year and a half. She was in her 70's, living in Perth, Australia, was not married and had no children. I sent her a birthday message, then realized I hadn't heard from her since May 17, so on a hunch I googled obituaries in Perth and there she was. She'd died on May 25. 

It kinda knocked the wind outta me. 

I hadn't known her all that long, but I was getting used to our online chats. And she'd said that she wouldn't know what she'd do without me to talk to about certain things. At one point I thought maybe she was in the early stages of dementia (I recognized the confusing communication style) but it turned out to be an overuse of pain meds. She was 76 years old and struggling with arthritis in her back. 

I'm hoping she didn't die alone. 

So. A really sad day. 

And both deaths had me thinking again about life. And purpose. And meaning. And not wasting time. And making sure those you love know they are loved. And being prepared for your after-life. And figuring out where God fits in to one's life. And having peace about it all.


After a weekend of solitude and reflection, I ended June spending time with people I care about doing things that bring me joy after work:

Catching Pokemon and watching the sunset in Fort Langley with Heather:

And an evening in White Rock, eating Fish n Chips, then walking along the promenade. And talking. Yes. So much talking.

While Shell and I were waiting for our order at Moby Dick's, the lady beside me struck up a conversation with me, even though Shelly and I were talking...

Her: What number did they call?
Me: Two.
Her: One hundred and two?
Me: No. Just two.
Her: What number are you?
Me: Five
Her:, showing me her slip: What number am I?
Me: Eight. Probably will take a few minutes.
Her: Do you come here often?
Me: A couple times each summer. How about you?
Her: A couple times a month. The bus drops me off here.

I figure she must be in her 70's. She's got a blonde bob, bright pink lipstick, huge sunglasses, red fingernails and burgundy toe nails. She's got a scarf and light jacket on. Has a purse and a brief case.

I smile at her, then turn back to Shelly.

Her: Can I tell you something?
Me: Sure.
Her: My friend, he's 20 years younger, there's nothing like that between us, we're just good friends, is getting married. He's never been married and was lonely. So he met a woman from Indonesia online. He went to meet her, and now he's sold everything and is moving out to Indonesia. He doesn't speak Indonesian and she doesn't speak a lick of English. Other than, you, know, pillow talk, I don't know how they'll communicate.

Me: Google can help them with that. There is a translate app that can help. He speaks English and it'll translate it to Indonesian. And she can speak Indonesian and it'll translate it to English.

Her, grabbing her purse, and searching for her phone: Say that again! Oh, this is such a God thing. He led me to sit beside you! Hang on. OK. I'm going to text that to him. We text all day long, don't worry. He needs to know this. OK. What did you say? I'm so excited. I can't wait to tell him.

She starts to type her text and I can see she has her font set to the largest possible. The word "google" takes up two lines. And her spelling is atrocious. Eventually we get the message sent.

Her: How did you know about that app?
Me: I went to Japan last fall, and it came in very handy.
Her: Why would you go to Japan? I've been all over the world but have no interest in Asian countries.
Me: A friend was there on business and invited me to join her for a week. Japan is an amazing country.
Her: I've been to ... and she lists a million European countries like a memorized shopping list. Then she tells me where she's lived: London, New York, Los Angeles.
Me: How did you end up in Vancouver?
Her: Thank you for asking. I am a published, multi-book author and accomplished, successful actress, starring in many productions on both stage and TV and God got ahold of my life and it's never been the same. I have written my memoir (and she pats her briefcase) and I'm looking for a new publisher right now. I will not self-publish....

She recited all of that like she was reading her resume.

Her: ... I was living in London, and had worked on a number of theatre plays when I met an American businessman who suggested I go to New York and stay with him for two weeks. Seven years later I'm still with him, but we're both drinking excessively, starting at noon, and carrying on til the early morning hours. Then one day I watch a Billy Graham broadcast, and when they suggest viewers call in for prayer, I phone. I ask the lady who answers the phone to pray for my friend who's business is failing. She prays with me on the phone and then asks me if I know Jesus. I start to cry and say no, I don't, but I want to. So we pray together. I ask for forgiveness for my sins. And I ask Jesus into my heart. And then I hang up the phone. And my life has never been the same. The phone rang just after that and it was my agent, letting me know I'd been offered the lead in a show based in Los Angeles...


Shelly and I collected our meals, and she followed us up to the counter.

Me: What's your name? I'm going to look you up online and buy your book.
Her: Thank you! It's been so nice talking to you!

(I looked her up when I got home. This is her then, and now-ish...)

And yes, I'll order her book. She's an historical Christian Romance Writer.

Anyway, Shelly and I found a table on the beach.
The seagulls sat beside us and squawked at us the entire time.
So we ate quickly then left. And took our time walking the beach.

And then the following night, my other Kim and I went to see Collective Soul at the Commodore.
Doors opened at 8, according to the tickets.

Her: Let's meet at my place at 8:30. we can take the Skytrain downtown. Then lets have sushi; we've eaten there before... it's on Granville right across from the club.

Me, checking online to see if we're going to miss this entire event because we won't be arriving til 10:30 at the earliest. And see that the main act isn't expected on stage til 10:30, with the concert ending at midnight: Sure, that sounds great.

As we walk into the sushi place at 9, we pass by COLLECTIVE SOUL band members on their way out of the restaurant. (What kind of life am I living?)

We eat our meal, then run across the street at 10:30 and join the 995 other fans on the dance floor. We move through the mosh pit, working our way as far forward as we can go. I am not the oldest person there. But I am the shortest. I am a shrimp in a sea of whales. Every tall person in Vancouver was on the dance floor that night. All singing along to Shine, December, and The World I Know while in puddles of beer.

At midnight we were back out on the streets of Downtown Vancouver, walkin around, looking for a 7-11 so we could buy some bottled water, then over to a bank to get some cash, then over to the skytrain station, then a walk along Commercial Drive to her place LIKE A COUPLE OF TEENAGERS. Haha. Seriously, am I too old for activities like this on a school night?

I smelled like beer and weed by the time I got home, so I had a shower, and washed my hair which meant I was up for ANOTHER hour to dry it. I slept for ten minutes and it was time to go to work.
(JUST KIDDING, it was 4 hours.)

Try to imagine the size of the bags under my eyes.

Karm invited me over to have supper at her place on Friday after work, on my way to the lake. I joined the million other motorists who were heading east for the long weekend and got to her place at 7.

Me: Do you ever worry about cooking for a friend? Like, did you fret about what to serve me? Or is this no big deal for you?

Her: I might worry if it was someone else. But this is you. And it didn't even cross my mind to worry about it. I hope you like breakfast for supper. I made a wife saver casserole, bacon, a fruit salad and a chocolate cake for dessert.

COMFORT FOOD on a rainy Friday night after a long week.
I may have overstayed my welcome.

Bacon and eggs for supper is just the best.

Three things I am thankful for:

1. I remembered to get my car insurance before it expired this year.
2. I am So so glad I get to live in Canada.
3. The sound of rain falling AT NIGHT through an open window. Seriously, this is the best night noise ever.
4. Even though I miss them like crazy, I know they're busy and happy. I am thankful for my kids.
5. A dentist who cares about my smile.
6. I am thankful for people who write books, make music, keep the entertainment industry moving forward.
7. I am super thankful that my skin healed from last month's laser action.
8. Upcoming lectures at Regent and the friends who want to attend them with me.
9. Billy Graham crusades. Haha. Twice this month they've been mentioned.
10. Friends. Family. People. Strangers.

Shalom friends,

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