Tuesday, July 29, 2008

That's Life; Recap of July 21-25, 2008

The past week found me getting back into the swing of things at work, and preparing to read a sermon at church.

Having returned to work on July 17th I was faced with dealing a with a small backlog of tasks at my job in Appraisal and Valuation Services. Because I am the only admin supporting the two teams, and there is no coverage when I leave for vacation or whatever, work tends to accumulate.

For the most part work remains consistent over the year. We don't have spikes in activity just because its tax time or its Christmas. Summer time does find less people in the building, but there is always real estate that needs to be appraised, and business that are being valued (esp., large ones) tend to take months to evaluate. All said, I was able to get most of work caught up in several days. I even took some time off to have a dental cleaning on Tuesday.

The big activity for me of last week was preparing to read a sermon at church on Sunday. Our pastor and family were away on vacation. As an Elder of the church I assumed the responsibility to select a sermon written by another pastor within the denomination, and consult with our Worship Team to have a service organized around it. the music selected was great. I prepared some PowerPoint slides to match the content of the sermon. When we tried to fire the animation in our MediaShout program at the church during rehearsal it didn't work (this would be Wednesday). This meant it had to be redone. So did the script for the projectionist. in the course of that I enlarge the number of slides in total. Re-organized the script. that took me to 2 AM Thursday morning. Had everything ready to go at the church on Thursday afternoon.

Following having everything at the church, I took some time to ride my bike through Fish Creek Provincial Park, which is close-by. With all the rainfall we have been having lately, everything is looking green. I found a nice place in the park to soak up some sun and listen to the water in the creek go by.

Friday found me with my regular day off (called a CDO). I took my car in for an oil change. Before leaving home I threw my bike in the back of the car. So just before giving the keys to the service manager I took out the bike. I had a nice ride home, taking some time to capture a photograph or two; stopped in at the job to show off my bike, and ride along the Bow river on my ride home. the weather was just great the whole morning. In the early afternoon I picked up the car. I was a little late for my chiro appointment, but got through it. I eventually went home for the rest of the evening. More to come later...

Monday, July 21, 2008

He Was Dead

Late Saturday afternoon found me returning home on Crowchild Trail (northbound). Just before the 17th Avenue off-ramp and just after the 24th Avenue Bridge traffic began to slow to a crawl.

As I followed the other cars it became apparent there had been an accident – a motorcyclist was lying on the road and his bike was off in the distance on the right-hand curb. There were a number of cars that were stopped and empty of its drivers and passengers. Some were standing along the middle guardrail; others were on their cell phones. As I passed the motorcyclist it appeared he was not moving. On the other hand, no was attending to him, and he did appear to be in the first aid recovery position. With as many people present I didn’t see a place where I could have assisted. I was also aware that my Red Cross First aid ticket expired a few moths ago. Without I cannot legally offer aid without liability (under different circumstances I would still offer aid regardless of whether I was licensed to or not). I drove on.

Still I wondered what had occurred there and then. Yesterday I found out. This young man who was lying on the road was suspected to have been street racing with two other motorcyclists. For some unknown reason he lost control of his bike and hit the concrete meridian. Fire and rescue did eventually show up after I left the scene of the accident. But, according to the TV news he was dead when they arrived. I can state that the emergency workers were only out by 5-8 minutes. So that means I was looking at someone who was dead already on the scene. I have never experienced that before. I have been a witness of a pedestrian-automobile accident. The pedestrian eventually died, but at the time when the ambulance arrived she was comatose. That is not the same as this situation.

And somebody within an hour or two of that accident received a visit that their son or brother is in the morgue.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Are You Peaceful?

If you were to travel in the northeast region of Kenya, along both sides of its border with Ethiopia, you would most likely encounter The Gabra, a nomadic tribe of 31,000 people originally a Somali people and gave up Islam. They are an eastern Cushitic speaking people who originated in southern Ethiopia. Their economy is centred on camels, which they graze in the harsh desert environment in which they live.

Perhaps most symbolic of the Gabra's identity is the proverb: "a poor man shames us all." Since mutual support is imperative for their survival as nomads, no Gabra may be allowed to go hungry, go without animals, or be refused hospitality or assistance. The practice of camel lending exemplifies this support system to fellow Gabra.

Customary of The Gabra is to greet each other with the saying, “Are you peaceful?” The usual response is “I am peaceful.” But, what if a herdsman was not peaceful, then what? And what does this have to do with us at this moment anyway?

For one thing, such a response offers an opening to find out what afflicts his or her clansmen; followed by doing something about it.

Perhaps you will agree with me that in our culture we are apt to respond to a greeting of “How are you?” with “I’m fine, or I’m good” even when sometimes we are not. I have done it myself. Why? Because we may feel the person we are addressing is busy and doesn’t need to be cluttered with our problems. Or we don’t know if we can trust each other with our secrets.

Yet, as a tribe or a people who follow Jesus are we not supposed to comfort, encourage and edify each other?

James 5:16 reads: Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Ahh, so we have permission to seek each other out, and listen, and come to know how we can pray for each other. That could include the person you work or bowl with, the person who always sits next to you n church or at a soccer game, and certainly includes your neighbour. If you belong to a church like I do this scripture and the process of praying affirms we are to be a community that should and does prays together. If we don't, we need to ask why not?

Of course, it may not be fruitful to approach a stranger and say, "Let me pray for you?" I am sure it will not be a long conversation. However, adopting a new greeting such as, "Are you peaceful?" (are you full of peace) may create curiosity and open up opportunity for dialogue, and hopefully prayer.

Are you peaceful?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Baba's Gone, Pt. II

This past Tuesday I returned from Saskatoon where my grandma's funeral was held. Had she been there in spirit she would have enjoyed the service. We celebrated her life, spoke of the hardships, her character, her idiosyncrasies and her joys. There were some tears, but just as much laughter too. She loved curling and country music. We didn't have a sheet of ice to throw the casket down and scream, "Haa-eerd, haa-eerd," to accompaniment of thumping brooms, but we did have a guitar and a couple of strong voices to sing "The Mansion on the Hill" and few other tunes. I was one of the eulogists, and did my best to remember her as well as I could.

Here is the text I delivered on July 10, 2008:

Words on Grandma, Thursday July 10, 2008

My grandmother and I had a special relationship. When I was a babe our family lost our mother, Mae Darwent. For a number of years i lived with a number of families related to Mom. But, at some point my father, Eddie Darwent, decided I need a long-term home that offered stability. He approached our grandmother, Frances Irvine, and insisted she take me in. For from the time I was nine years and for the next twelve years her home was my home. She was my guardian after my father died in 1972, she was also my parent. So I offer some reflections of a person I think I can say I knew well.

Grandma never shied away from hard work. Her element was in her home, in her kitchen or in her garden. She cooked all her life and the kitchen was the focal point of our home. You came in the back door and around that kitchen table you drew your chair to some of the best holiday dinners you had the occasion to experience. So characteristic of Grandma was that she didn’t join you in the meal. Her place was in the corner next to the stove waiting on you to make sure there was always enough to eat. There usually was. When people went away satisfied quite often then grandma would sit down to eat her supper. Seldom did grandma ever share the duties of cooking with me. Somehow, perhaps from years of watching, I learned her art.

I believed I learned from her bout growing too. Her garden was the source from which many of us enjoyed good pleasures like beet rolls, dill pickles and tomatoes freshly picked from the vine. As much as it was work to keep the entire yard trimmed out, I believe it was therapy for grandma that she looked forward to each year. I know she missed it when she wasn’t able to tend it anymore.

My grandma was fiercely independent. Not that she would spurn help, but I believe she was not one willing to be reliant on someone for her welfare. In operating her rooming houses and special care home she was the first role model and definition for the term, self-employed that I knew first-hand. It didn’t just end there. Grandma was stoic. Grandma had her opinions, and right or wrong once she had made up her mind I don’t think two teams of the Budweiser Clydesdales could have budge her to change it. Grandma was ardent NDP-er. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say she thought Tommy Douglas hung the moon. This came about because she lived through the dirty thirties, and he was the father of Medicare. I would like to close by sharing an anecdote of where such fervent belief intersected with my coming of age.

Shortly after turning eighteen there was a provincial election. On voting day, after the supper dishes were cleared we walked down to the Pensioner’s Hall to cast our ballots. I had little impression of politics then, so before we crossed the street grandma turned to me and said, “You’re going to go in there and cast a ballot for the NDP (New Democratic Party) candidate or you’re not living at home tomorrow.” So quickly doing the math of beet rolls, dill pickles and holopci (cabbage roll) versus whether Roy Romanow was the best MLA for Saskatoon-Riversdale I put my X where it counted the most: I voted NDP.


Frances Irvine, born July 6, 1915 was the eldest of 11 children born to Peter Pavelick and Eva Podoleski. Frances passed away on July 2nd, 2008 at Parkridge Center. She was predeceased by her parents Peter and Eva; husband James Irvine; daughters May (Edward) Darwent; Zella (Bill) Halliday; Gladys (Joe) Kaminesky; son Ben (Alvina) brothers Johnny, Joseph (Mary) Steve and Andrew; sisters Anne, Mary (John) Howard son in law Ray Schneider; brother in law Bill Kardish.

Surviving are four daughters, four sons, a special friend, two sisters, and two brothers.

Frances came to the Providence school district to keep house for James Irvine, a widower with 5 small children. Frances and Jim eventually married and raised a total of 11 children. Frances had the very great pleasure of having 39 grand children, 56 great grandchildren and 14 great great grandchildren.

Times were very hard but Frances could make a meal out of flour and water, with maybe one egg thrown in if available. She loved working in her big garden, canned quarts of wild fruits, vegetables and sauerkraut. She was an exceptional sewer which allowed her to make the girls dresses from flour sacks and a package of dye.

Frances moved to Saskatoon in 1950 and worked in various restaurants. She eventually bought a house in 1964 and operated a care home for seniors with disabilities. She operated the care home until 2004. The last two years Frances was staying at the Parkridge Center.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Baba's Gone

I just making a quick post here. I am heading to Saskatoon today. Last Wednesday my grandmother passed away. She was one week past her ninety-third birthday. Her death was not unexpected. She had been declining for awhile. I had a chance to speak with her the day before her birthday; I sang her "Happy Birthday." She knew who she was talking to, but her voice was weak. A family member later that evening said she didn't expect Baba to stay with us for much longer, maybe a week.

Its okay that Baba gone. That might seem a strange comment. Sure you always want your relatives to be close by. But, I look at it this way. Baba lived through a lot in her years. She was always fiercely independent; love being in her kitchen and garden. During her last two years she had been in an assisted-living facility in Saskatoon where she was dependent on others to get her out of bed and to the dining hall. While she was cared for really well, it is difficult to comprehend that she really enjoyed it. I would talk to her about every two weeks, and the conversations seemed to be getting shorter with every passing month. Now, I hope, her spirit is free of her tent, and is travelling within the graces of God. I don't know if she ever accepted Christ. I am told she may have. I hope she did. Our times are held in the hand of the Lord. May He have seen that his work in her was done and took her away to rest.