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Friday Fave Five #82

Susanne hosts Living to Tell the Story and encourages others to share blessings of the week on Fridays. Here are a few of mine from this week.

Windows open and birds singing. We have had a weird, weird April weather wise. Last weekend brought a big snowstorm followed by a few spring-like days. The forecast is for more snow this weekend. Sigh. Despite the fickle weather, I am extremely grateful for the days when we can open the windows and air out the house. It’s nice to hear the birds singing, too. And spring can’t really be that far away for us, can it?

Technology Yesterday I had to go to Costco to take care of a problem with my husband’s new glasses and pick up a few things. I was walking down one of the main aisles and saw a display of drones for sale. I find technology fascinating (though my proficiency with it does not match my appreciation for it!) and mentioned seeing the display to my husband. We had to go back today to fix the glasses problem and while there, my hubby wanted to look at the drones. Long story short, we came home with an early anniversary gift for him. It was fun to watch him figuring out how the drone worked. An adopted granddaughter stayed glued to his side mesmerized by the buzzing and flying of the drone.

More technology My daughter-in-law does an amazing job of regularly posting photos and video clips of their life in China so those of us in North America can keep up with their lives. I’m grateful for the technology that makes this possible. Our youngest grandson is recovering from whooping cough and our oldest grandson from a stomach bug. Even though we can’t be there with them to help, we can pray for them during these times and have peace that they remain in God’s care at all times.

I love, love, love this picture of my grandson in a backpack in the change room while his mama is trying on clothes.

Taxes, part one. I finished all the accounting and other necessary information for our Canadian taxes and have turned it all in to our wonderful tax lady. Now I just need to pull together the papers I need for the US taxes. The hard part is done, and because we live out of the US, we have an automatic extension to file each year. Doing taxes is probably my least favorite responsibility and I am always very relieved when that work is behind me for another year.

Beautiful violets My African violets continue to thrive and it looks like I need to transplant them again or maybe prune them. My black thumb has evidently been banished and I am able to keep plants alive. Speaking of which, I am very eager to get my garden planted, but we need the weather to cooperate first. Last week of May is usually the earliest things get planted safely here.

I tried a few different filters on my violets photos. Which one do you like best?

For those of you who are friends on Facebook you have read the two installments about the ‘our’ ducks. Here are a couple of pictures of Drake and Dessa Duck, new neighborhood residents.

Friday Fave Five #81

Susanne hosts Living to Tell the Story and encourages others to share blessings of the week on Fridays. Here are a few of mine from this week.

Family birthdays We have three family birthdays in March and one in early April. Last Monday night we enjoyed a family dinner to celebrate these birthdays. I made cards for each person based on their favorite colors and a favorite activity of each. I forgot to take pictures of the cards, but each person seemed to enjoy the personalized cards. The non-birthday girl, Anna, made a beautiful and delicious Party Pyramid Pavlova, based on the recipe from Mary Berry of The Great British Bake Off fame.

Community I have been blessed beyond measure to be included in fellowship with my children and their friends. Last week I celebrated my youngest daughter’s birthday by joining with her friends for Saturday brunch at Café Linnea. We enjoyed warm fellowship and delicious food together. My pedagogic training was in secondary education, and much of my counseling experience is with millennials.and post-millennials. I truly enjoy engaging in conversation with teens and young adults so last Saturday’s outing was special.

 

Renovations Renovations on our main bathroom are almost finished, and it’s looking great!

Weather finally changing We had a surprise dump of snow earlier this week. Thankfully it all melted by mid-afternoon. I guess the farmers are happy for the moisture and I’m glad for the overall warmer days. Right now it’s raining and I’m glad it’s not snow!

Bonus When we upgraded our phones this week at Costco we were given several hundred dollars in Costco gift cards as an unexpected bonus, an unusual deal which really was the best deal of the year!

Here are a few snow shots and hazy sunset photos from this week.

 

 

Friday Fave Five #80

Susanne hosts Living to Tell the Story and encourages others to share blessings of the week on Fridays. Here are a few of mine from this week.

What a winter this has been for sickness! I have been struggling with viruses for most of the time since we returned from China at the end of December. The calendar tells me it is now spring. I will be extra happy when the calendar and the weather here both agree that it is indeed spring!

16 Personalities It has been fun and deeply enlightening to explore and better understand the elements that make up my personality. This new awareness that I am indeed an introvert and what that looks like practically, has been truly helpful. This month I was asked to answer the questionnaire on 16 Personalities as part of a study my husband and I are doing on biblical stewardship of money. According to this test I am a Mediator and my husband is Logician. The point is, from my perspective, to understand how God designed each of us so we can live and work together with greater understanding and harmony.

Ministry Wives’ Fellowship Yesterday we enjoyed a Ministry Wives’ Fellowship at one of our local churches. We were challenged to respond biblically to hardship and pain in our lives. The time of fellowship was a blessing and an encouragement.

Progress on sorting books Over the past few weeks I have made significant progress in sorting through and paring down my library of about 1,500 missionary and church history biographies. I have a few more shelves to sort through then I need to finish looking up prices for the ones I am selling. Hopefully, in a few months, I will be ready to e-mail out a list of books for sale.

Pictures of the grands I love that my daughter-in-law and son regularly update us with photos of our grandchildren. They will be with us this year in July, which is only a few months away. Yay!

Flamingo GF chicken Over the four years that I have been gluten free, I have tried a number of gluten free products. Some were ok, many were truly awful, and a few were good. Occasionally we have chicken strips or chicken nuggets at a family gathering. Sometimes I wish I could have just a taste of one, but of course, if I do, I will get sick so it’s not worth it. Recently discovered gluten free Flamingo Chicken Strips made by Olymel. We bought some on a special deal and I made them this week. These chicken strips are very, very good. I love crunchy stuff, and these have a pleasing crunch with no weird taste or texture. Even my husband thought they were delicious!

Primarily due to sickness I have not been out taking pictures lately. Next time I hope to post photos of new cards, as well as some new rural Alberta shots.

 

Friday’s Fave Five #79

FFF heart.

Susanne hosts Living to Tell the Story and encourages others to share blessings of the week on Fridays. Here are a few of mine from this week.

Birds singing Our central Alberta weather has been mercurial this month. From bitterly cold to record breaking warmth, we’ve experienced it all within the same week. Wednesday was that record breaker for us and it was lovely to open windows, watch the snow melting and even hear some birds singing. I don’t care what the groundhog says, I’m ready for spring!

Reliable transportation My husband and I were reminiscing about our previous vehicle and how we had to guess when we needed a refill because the gas gauge was broken. We tracked mileage which helped, but we never mastered the refill game and ended up running out of gas several times. That is no longer a concern with our new vehicle and we are very grateful for the provision of this new car.

Family night My husband is not much of a games person, and though I really enjoy playing board games, I do not get to very often. When we were in China in December our son introduced us to the game Dixit which, surprisingly to me, my husband enjoyed. Our girls bought him Dixit for his birthday last month and we played it on Monday. It was lots of fun!

Thoughtful spouse My husband asked me to make Valentine’s cards for our daughters and since the girls are big Star Wars fans, I made them Star Wars themed cards I found on Pinterest. My husband gave them the cards with some candy and flowers on Monday night. I’m so grateful that he wanted to do something special for them on this holiday that can leave singles feeling lonely..

My thoughtful husband

My thoughtful husband

Unexpected sales One of my girls took some of my Purple Grandma Designs Valentine’s cards to work to see if anyone wanted or needed a card. I was amazed and blessed that she sold every one of them! These sales help pay for my supplies so I can also give away cards to bless and encourage others.

Here are the last of this year’s Valentine cards from Purple Grandma Designs.

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I snapped a few phone shots of people snowkiting in some fields near our home. I did not even know what it was called – had to look up parasailing on snow and found out it’s called snowkiting. My phone does not take the best pictures, but this will give you an idea of what I saw.

Snowkiting near Beaumont

Snowkiting near Beaumont

February sunset colours

February sunset colours

Friday’s Fave Five #78

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I’ve been sick this past week so this post is quite late. It’s not Friday. But you know that!

Susanne hosts Living to Tell the Story and encourages others to share blessings of the week on Fridays. Here are a few of mine from this week.

Pictures from the past My mom went to be with the Lord almost 14 years ago. This week a friend sent me some photos of my mom enjoying fellowship at a Sunday School class Christmas party from fifteen years ago. A bonus that I didn’t notice at first was a partial shot of my dad in the corner of one of the pictures. Thank you, Beth. Your kind gesture blessed me and made my day.

My wonderful Mom

My wonderful Mom

Supplement sale One of the supplements I take that seems to help my fibromyalgia is a bit pricey. This week I found it on sale for about half of what I normally pay!

Medication provided Our doctor has put my husband on an expensive new medication, and it is helping him. We were praying about how to come up with the $300 + extra a month to pay for it, and God provided several months’ worth at no charge to us!

Answers to prayer Parenting adults is not like parenting juveniles. We no longer ‘control’ the decisions of our offspring, nor do we want to. But this does not mean we are no longer affected by the burdens and concerns of our children.

This week one of our daughters who has been diligently searching and praying for a better job, had a promising job interview. Is this job God’s answer for her need? I don’t know, but I am praying with eager anticipation, waiting to see how God will meet her need and other needs in the lives of all my children.

On the mend I have been dealing with an exhausting cough for over seven weeks. My primary source of nutrition has been the myriad cough drops and green tea I’ve consumed to try and soothe the persistent coughing fits! However…the last couple of days I seem to be getting better. Yay! I’m thankful for good doctors, helpful treatments, and the Great Physician.

No new photos this week because I wasn’t feeling well enough to go out in frigid temps to take pictures. I found a few more favorites from several months ago as I was organizing and backing up files this week.

Grandson 'modeling" Cows Canada sleeper

Grandson ‘modeling” Cows Canada sleeper

Banff National Park Clouds lifting

Banff National Park Clouds lifting

Banff National Park misty peaks

Banff National Park misty peaks

Banff National Park cloudy cap

Banff National Park cloudy cap

Here are this week’s Valentine cards from Purple Grandma Designs.

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Friday’s Fave Five #77

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Susanne hosts Living to Tell the Story and encourages others to share blessings of thee week on Fridays. Here are a few of mine from this week.

1. Beautiful ice fog We had three full days in a row that were foggy so that many surfaces had layers of ice fog (hoar frost) on them. It made everything picture postcard beautiful.

January ice fog

January ice fog

2. Family night Our daughters and son-in-law joined us on Monday to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I tried out a couple recipes to cook both grouse and venison. Both meats were tasty and the time together as family was a blessing.

3. Borrowed grandchildren I always enjoy visiting with my surrogate grandchildren. This week these precious ones came over with their mom for a lunch visit. I hope they have as much fun visiting Purple Grandma as she has hosting them!

Borrowed grandchildren

Borrowed grandchildren

4. Church growth Our church continues to grow, both organically and from new folks joining with us. We have two baby showers for church ladies over the next couple of weeks. When these little ones are born, we will have added 10 new babies to the church family over the last year and a half or so. We’ve also been blessed over the past few months with a number of new individuals and families choosing to worship with us and attend membership classes in preparation for joining the church.

5. Photography The beautiful ice fog days inspired some interesting photos. I played with different filters this week. Here are a few of my favorites.

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Ice fog acreage

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Cottony cold

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Ice fog branches

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Directional ice fog

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Looks like fake spray-on snow!

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Shivering sunflower

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Frosty splendor

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Frosty raspberry

I began working on some Valentine cards this week. Here are the latest cards from Purple Grandma Designs.

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Shanghai is a large city of about twenty-three million people. Though it’s the most westernized city in China, the vast majority of those twenty-three million people are…wait for it….Chinese! White or black people are the obvious exceptions in the sea of Asian faces.

In preparing to visit China I was told to expect people to stare at me, a non-Asian, in public. About all I have in common physically with the Chinese are my dark eyes. My silvery hair used to be dark brown, but no longer. I certainly would never be mistaken for an Asian. I’m an introvert and do not enjoy being stared at, but as a larger woman close to 6 feet tall, I have rarely managed to engage stealth mode and slip in and out of a group unnoticed. Even so, I was still not looking forward to being stared at every time I went out into public

Then had an interesting idea. Instead of letting all that staring make me uncomfortable, I decided I would simply smile at everyone I noticed staring at me. Guess what? Most everyone smiled back! Some shyly, some warmly, and some with a broad grin as if to say, “Aha! You caught me looking!”

I’m not a xenophobe, and my guess is that many people from other cultures are not either. But be honest, don’t we tend to do a double take when we notice someone very different from us? Those glances are often simply borne out of curiosity or an awareness of something different.

There was one thing, however, that made me jumpy and particularly concerned about getting around in Shanghai, the possibility of being targeted by pickpockets in crowded places. I was warned by several people to be aware of pickpockets who often work in pairs and follow foreigners or get especially close to potential targets in public places. Great. So be aware of anyone getting particularly close to me in public places.

Have you ever observed Asians in crowded places? They have a different cultural norm for respecting personal space, so close crowding and jostling are perfectly acceptable to them. How was I supposed to sort out pickpockets from the non-threatening Chinese shopper? What if someone stole my passport? My credit card? My camera? Several of my new acquaintances regaled me with their stories of being pickpocketed or targeted for pickpocketing. I was so nervous about the possibility of being pickpocketed that I wouldn’t even take my cross-body purse or my camera out with me the first few days we were in Shanghai. (And my husband would tell you that my purse is surgically attached to me so that I am never without it.)

As we prepared to visit some famous sites of Shanghai I realized I was being ridiculous. Yes, take precautions. And yes, be vigilant. But stop being overly imaginative and take both camera and purse and enjoy observing a new culture.

On our whirlwind tour of Shanghai, we stopped at Yu Garden, wandering through the shopping area first, then stepping outside to learn about some of the amazing ancient Chinese buildings. My husband exercised his excellent bargaining skills to purchase some gifts and mementos. He drove such a hard bargain that one of the shopkeepers grumbled and said, “You make me poverty!” as he closed the deal and wrapped up the parcel, a broad grin on his face.

One of my favorite things to do in a new location is to find a place to sit, observe, and absorb the atmosphere of a place. I love to look through my camera lens and snap images of things that impress me. An interesting architectural feature – click. Busy intersection – click. Sun-dappled flower- click. Fascinating people – click.

While perched on a low wall outside of Yu Garden I used my camera to capture snippets of the busyness of the place. An older Chinese gentleman sat down near me and, after observing me quietly for a minute, greeted me in excellent English. We went on to have a conversation about Canada and oil and economics. He stood up and said, “It was nice talking with you.” Yes, I thought, it WAS very nice to chat with this stranger in a city of 23 million people.

Near the City God Temple we stopped to take some pictures when three older Chinese people accosted us. They crowded close to us grinning broadly and loudly repeated, “Heh-low!” Were these some of the infamous pickpockets we had been warned about? Cautiously we replied, “Hello” which produced even broader grins and more enthusiastic “Heh-lows.”

My lovely daughter-in-law speaks Mandarin quite well. She learned these three were from another province in China and were tourists in Shanghai just like we were. They asked my daughter-in-law if they could have a picture with my husband, and then with my husband and me. She told us they vigorously debated among themselves whether my husband was 2 meters tall or not. They practiced their one English word, “Heh-low!” over and over with us, and delightedly thumped my husband on the back and pumped his hand in thanks for the photo. They tried saying “Canada” and we tried to say the Mandarin word for thank you. It was a fun cultural exchange, with no pickpocketing involved!

We learned from our son that the Chinese are gift-giving people. Before flying to Shanghai we had consulted our family about appropriate gifts to take for the special Chinese people who have blessed and befriended our loved ones in China. We wanted to thank them for their help and kindnesses to our son and his family over the years. Instead we found that we were blessed and honored that so many regaled us with special gifts and meals during our stay.

While in Shanghai I was treated with great kindness, even by strangers. My fibromyalgia and arthritis sometimes prevent me from walking very far so we used taxis to get around. Some of the cabs were a tight fit for me and I would have to maneuver my leg carefully to get seated. Several times a cabbie or worker where we were staying would see me struggling to get my sore leg in and would run over and help lift my leg into the taxi. I was really touched by those gestures of kindness.

The Chinese are like any other people group. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are beautiful, some more ordinary looking. Some are short and some a little taller. From our observations, they seem to love their children and respect their elders. Like in any large metropolitan area, a small criminal element exists, but many people we interacted with were kind and thoughtful. Our encounters with people in Shanghai were mostly positive and provided us with good memories of this city of twenty-three million people.

Heh-low!

Heh-low!

City God Temple

City God Temple

Near Yu Garden

Near Yu Garden

 

Fresh fruit treats at Yu Garden

Fresh fruit treats at Yu Garden

Tea House

Tea House by Yu Garden

Wall of flowers by the Bund

Wall of flowers by the Bund

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