What happened during Lent

We’re eating Easter dinner when Uncle Ken looks across the table and asks me a question.

“So Tricia, I was wondering how your decision to give up the internet until noon went?”

I pass the pile of mashed potatoes to my right and wonder how I should answer. I’m glad he’s asked the question (it means someone else besides my mother has been reading my blog) and that he’s sincerely interested, but I’m not entirely happy with my answer. I would love to humbly describe how consistent and disciplined I was through Lent; how I blazed through all 40 days with unwavering commitment. Instead I fumble awkwardly saying something like I tried my best and I made it most of the time to 10:30 am without checking my email or blog…

As far as strictly observing lent, I failed. But in spite of my weak resolve, or maybe because of my weak resolve, I learned a few things. Perhaps failing is the point of Lent.

I learned that my impulse to reach for the mouse and hear the clacking of the keyboard is stronger than I thought it was.

I learned that checking emails isn’t as life changing as I think it will be. The mornings I spent at home writing were the worst. Checking my clock every ten minutes to see if I could finally open my email built anticipation with every passing moment. When the time finally came I would eagerly type my password only to be greeted with subject lines that read Don’t miss the next West Jet promotion! or Your inbox is 99% full. In a slump of disappointment I would close it and wonder what I had been waiting for in the first place. What kind of news was I hoping to find? How fulfilling could a digital message be?

I learned that starting my day with stillness instead of search engines makes a difference. Like re-setting a cheap watch or tuning a violin, my perspective seems to need frequent upkeep. If I let it go unchecked everything starts to spiral inwards until all I can think about is the little universe of Tricia: the salsa fermenting in my cupboard, the next job I have at school, our summer plans, the unwritten chapter of my book, who I will invite for supper, the shirt I need to buy for my daughter… The more my world shrinks, the more suffocated I feel. But it’s a drowsy suffocation; like sucking in fumes inside a closed garage.

Somehow being still and reading the story of Jesus or prophecies told to a tribe in the Middle East provides release. It opens the garage door a little. Before I am totally inebriated with myself I read a verse, pray for someone, or sit quietly to listen and my narrow world of self begins to expand. It’s a slow, creaky process and not nearly as dramatic as I would like. But it’s a start. A crack to let in the Light and fresh air. I read the following passage yesterday, and I think it helps to explain what I’m trying to say.

Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you have have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the riches of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live
(Isaiah 55 1-3)

Thanks for asking the question Ken…

Tricia

PS. Here are more pictures of our week with family in Indiana:

Grandma taught both girls how to sew on their own!

Grandma taught both girls how to sew on their own!

...and they actually produced wearable skirts (with a little extra help)

They actually produced wearable skirts (with a little extra help)

Susie, me, and Belén (with her homemade skirt) rollerskating. We decided tying roller skates was much better than freezing our fingers at the outdoor rinks where we live.

Susie, me, and Belén (with her homemade skirt) rollerskating. We decided tying roller skates was much better than freezing our fingers at the outdoor rinks where we live.

Belén, cousin Simon, and Aunty Anne working on the eggs

Belén, cousin Simon (pondering the meaning of life), and Aunty Anne working on the eggs

Easter eggs, decorated with white crayon before getting dipped in colour.

Susanna’s favourite moment with cousin Lucy

Aunty Anne finally gets a chance to hold her own baby!

And of course, cutting wood…

blog g chop

Grandpa going strong!

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Long Distance Grandmas and Goldenrod

This week the girls opened up the front door and found a package on the porch they had anticipating for days.  My daughters belong to a very elite club- “The Surprise of the Month Club”, and their grandma is the ringleader.

Written on the front of the package. Can you guess?

We live over 1000 miles from Stan’s parents.  That means we only see each other about 2 or 3 times a year, at best.  Sending the kids to their house for after-school visits and hanging out with them on a lazy Sunday afternoon are things we just can’t do.  But Grandma Mary Lou has figured out something she can do.  I’m thinking she should consider being an on-line consultant for long distance grandmas.  Take a look at this creative idea and tell me how much you think she should charge for her consulting fees:) …

Bubble Wrap Hopscotch

1.  Cut out 10 squares of bubble wrap (the ones with the quarter-sized bubbles work the best) and write a number on each one with permanent marker.

2.  Set up the squares any way you want for a rip-roaring game.

We had to tape them down because it was a little breezy. They worked great inside.

3.  Enjoy the sound effects!

Here is the woman herself, with her son.

Stan and his mom at a fourth of July parade this summer.

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New neighbours moved in, two doors down, this weekend.  I saw the guy for the first time this Saturday when I was biking home with this bouquet.

Biking home with my goldenrod bouquet

I pulled my bike into the driveway to welcome them into the neighbourhood.

He was wearing an AC/DC teeshirt, unloading his weights, and weight bench, into the house.

“It’s a wondeful area,” I told him exhuberantly.  “We’re so close to the edge of town and open fields…”

He looked at me.

“…to pick wild flowers.”

I looked at him.

“You know, if you’re into that kind of thing.”

I’m sure we’ll get along wonderfully.

So, back to goldenrod.  It’s everywhere right now, have you seen it?  It tends to grow in clumps because it propagates through creeping rhizomes.  The blooms smell wonderful and once you find a patch of goldenrod the harvesting doesn’t take long.  (To harvest sustainably from the wild, take no more than 20 %- 25% of the plant material growing in a certain location)

I’m looking forward to using this herb topically. (Read: I tried drinking the tea and almost gagged.  I have NO idea why anyone would consider this a “pleasant” tea, as I’ve read many times.)  I plan on infusing oil with it to make a salve, because of it’s anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, and immune boosting qualities.  During the crusades people also called this plant “woundwort” for its usefulness in treating cuts and stopping blood flow.

The University of Maryland has more information on the medicinal qualities of Goldenrod.

For pictures to help with identification, check this site: Canada Goldenrod Solidago canadensis – Ontario Wildflowers.

Here’s the tea, all set up for a wonderful blog shot (ok, not really). This is after I made myself take 4 or 5 sips, each time reacting with a throaty growl and a shake of the head. I took this photo with the hopes that someone might explain how people get this stuff down, and enjoy it.

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One last picture.  I’m sure glad survey sticks don’t need a lot of hay…

Their survey sticks satiated their horse longings, at least for tonight.