Showing posts from June, 2013

Friendship Sunday

The parking lot of our country church was full. I had to squeeze into a space on its far edges  between a red van and a pick up truck,  close to the end of the asphalt.  On my way to the church I balanced a travel mug of coffee; the two cherry pies I baked yesterday; my camera (in case I need it) and my heavy purse that felt as though it contained everything that might be needed for an extended camping trip rather than church. I could hear my friend Frances's voice through the window, leading the worship team. I was a few minutes late, and the service was already happening. Inside the rows were filled with church members, and many of them had brought friends along as it was Friendship Sunday. Our first ever Friendship Sunday service was refreshingly different to the usual church service in that the topic of friendship came alive  through the interviews with various members of the church family that Rick, one of our pastors, had done. It was an interesting cross section of int

The Dead Black Guy

Susan emailed me a memory two nights ago and I asked her if I could share it here. It's here, so you know she said yes! :) I so enjoyed this glimpse into Susan's childhood. I love who she is now and I love who she was then, even though I would have been the girl named Colleen at the end of the story that she was laughing so hard at. Susan grew up in Windsor, Ontario and she and her husband Ron happened across this news article with the attached photo. That brought back the memory in this story.   Now, over to Susan: Ron asked me if I knew where along the river that was and I know EXACTLY where it is.  The house where I lived until I was 11 would be located near the top of this photo if it hadn't been torn down a few years ago.  (To make room for the new bridge to Detroit.) This exact section of the shore of the Detroit River is where I used to play as

Friendship Sunday at Hillside

This coming Sunday is Friendship Sunday at  Hillside Community Church  and one of our pastors, Rick Grundy, exercised his creative talents in making these video clips in which he asked some members of our congregation for their thoughts on friendship. I thought you might enjoy the clips--and Susan gave her permission, since she is in both of them. :) I was at Hannah's baptism the day Rick made the clips, but I would likely have run from the camera had I been there, or not have done as great a job as my church family did! :) Oh, and if you live in the neighbourhood of Tottenham, come out and join us this Sunday morning. Dress is casual--and there is a BBQ afterwards, with all kinds of delicious salads and desserts provided by the Hillsiders who are gifted in that area. 

Keep the Trail Fresh

It was almost 6 years ago, July 1, 2007 that I wrote a blog post entitled  Daughters of Eve  about the hospitality of the Fox family and two little girls who held a Sunday afternoon concert on violin and piano; for me, their special guest that day. Yesterday Paul and I were witnesses to Hannah's baptism, one of those daughters. She is 15 now; still playing the violin! It was a hot and sultry Sunday morning as we drove down dusty side roads, looking for the Konrad farm, where the baptisms were taking place.  We parked, and unloaded our picnic cooler holding salads, and wrestled it and two lawn chairs up the grassy hill towards the barn where we could see a crowd gathering. Children were running around or jumping on a trampoline, undaunted by the steamy heat. The pungent smell of manure stung our nostrils as we climbed the ramp into the barn. We parked our cooler and lawn chairs and found a seat near the front of many rows of folding chairs, waved there by Hannah's mom, m

Realization of a Dream

Far from a lazy summer month, this June promised to rock with the vibrancy of a Caribbean carnival packed with exciting events. My only challenge has been keeping up with everything. It was while brushing my teeth on Saturday morning, listening to the radio, that I was shocked out of my brief sense of weekend relaxation by the realization that it was June 22nd and the Toronto Jazz Festival  was  in full swing; ten days of music featuring 1,500 artists, including (please imagine a drum roll) Mavis Staples . Back in May, I wrote here  about discovering Mavis through a CD given to me by a friend, and about adding a live Mavis Staples concert to my bucket list. I imagined myself, sometime  in the future, tracking her down in the United States to realize that dream. But my friend Susan discovered online that she was coming to Toronto in June for the Toronto Jazz Festival and bought me tickets for my birthday. Fortunately Susan hadn't forgotten the date, so, for the second time in

In Honour of Dave

I traveled a gray concrete arm clad in green sleeves, from the hamlet of Bond Head, down to the city of Toronto on Thursday afternoon. Along the way I parked my car and met Susan, who drove us the rest of the way down to Church Street, where we were meeting friends at the  Cafe California . Driving as a passenger, I tried to absorb as much as I could of the increasingly concentrated life  of the city. We flowed like corpuscles down an artery; blood pooling into nerve endings. Sensory stimulation overwhelmed with every glance and inhalation of air. A tall black woman in casual clothing walked the hot pavement with the grace of a gazelle--a Masai princess in t-shirt and denim; around her every tribe and colour in the world seemed represented on the crowded streets. In the depths of a parking garage we tried to talk sense to a stoically impervious ticket machine. I resisted the urge to kick it as our generous margin of time was squandered on its adherence to strict rules that we

Finding My Tribe

One of the gifts of Write! Canada is making new friends. Let me introduce you to one I met this year: Jenny Svetec; who wrote a blog post entitled  Finding my Tribe  about her experience at Write! Canada.  

Stepping onto the Road

Song of Songs 2:4 New International Version (NIV) 4  Let him lead me to the banquet hall,      and let his banner  over me be love. I am full of gratitude for the sense of belonging at Write! Canada, and for the intensive  instruction, inspiration and fellowship packed into the two and a half days.  Back in April, I had a mental image as one of my colleagues prayed. It was an image of a person I knew was Jesus, with his back to me and towards a person who was surrounded by balls lying on the floor. My colleague had been praying for help juggling the balls we all try so hard to keep up in the air. The figure in the foreground picked up a blue ball from the ground and placed it so gently and lovingly in her hands; cupping her hands with both of his. The ball he gave her was the one to hold in that moment--it was the opposite of the stress of juggling balls, trying to keep them all in the air. The image impacted me then and guides me daily, to submit my agenda

A Few More Snippets from Write! Canada Today

Write! Canada finished with more energy than a fireworks display in July. And this in spite of conversations in the lounge until the wee hours of the morning; and Night Owl and Early Bird reading sessions. Photo by Susan C. Stewart The final keynote speaker this afternoon, was Toronto scriptwriter,  Dennis Hassell . He launched us like rockets for our journeys home, with fire in our bellies and flaming fingers ready to hit our keyboards. Dennis spoke of the power of story. He likened stories to swallows. Stories go over and under defenses, like a swallow flies over the highest gates of a fortified city.  The Chronicles of Narnia  by C.S. Lewis was one wonderful example he gave. We bring people to "life," not through  polemics  but through parables. "Parables," said Dennis, "are not explicit, they are implicit. You have to puzzle it out." About our excuses not to write, Dennis quoted  Gandalf , the wizard of The Lord of the Rings, who said,  &qu

More News from Write! Canada

Tonight's keynote speaker was author and professor of literature,  Carolyn Weber , who spoke about the spiritual journey chronicled in her book:  Surprised by Oxford;  a reference to C.S. Lewis's book, Surprised by Joy. She read from her book; a beautifully written memoir; and she spoke about the impact it had on her family; as broken and dysfunctional as any of our own. Marilyn Yocum wrote recently about  Every Writer's Dilemma: To Write Privately or Publicly , and I wrote too, in my post entitled,  Can't Do It , of my decision to draw a line in writing of some personal family history. Carolyn spoke of that very thing tonight and I thought that I would share a little of what she said. She quoted Samuel Coleridge--and I wrote it down quickly so it is just an approximation: "The process of selection is the hardest part of creation." How true that is! Here are my rough notes on four of Carolyn's "5 Golden Rules for Writing Memoir:" I'

Where to Begin?

I can't tell every wonderful thing that has happened today; I hear the voice of one of my writing mentors, Marilyn Yocum  whose beginner's class I took in two different years at Write! Canada because I loved it and her so much. She is telling me, "No home movies."  So just two fun snippets! The conference has workshops and a selection of continuing classes over two and a half days. The continuing class I am taking is: Finding Your Way Deeper into Writing ; taught by  Bill Fledderus , Adjunct Lecturer in English at Redeemer University College. I am loving it. This bit of writing comes from a writing exercise in his class this afternoon when he was teaching us about creative non-fiction: My 41 year old daughter Brenda, has been packing up to move into a new house and came upstairs from her apartment, holding a small doll, saying, “Look what I found Mom."   The doll came without movable joints, and it squeaked when she squeezed it. I remember looking


This morning I prepared to leave for Write! Canada, the writers conference in Guelph, which I have attended every year since 2000, with the exception of 2009 (due to a sudden illness that sabotaged my plans.) Susan hadn't planned on going this year, but on Tuesday evening, was wishing to God that she might be there, serving all the writers there in some way. At the very time she was expressing her heart wish to God, the managing director of The Word Guild, Denise Rumble, connected with me by email to say that their photographer was unable to make it at the last minute--and  she asked me, was Susan Stewart a photographer? In a whirlwind of phone calls and arrangements made at the speed of sound, the rest is history. Susan is going to the conference too, this year. We are all shouting, "Hurray!" I go with an expectation of learning; hearing from God and renewing my call and commitment to write. I look forward to the old and new connections that always happen at this c

Maplewood Lodge

Brenda posted this aerial photo Maplewood Lodge in the mid 1970's, on Facebook. That is my yellow  Lada ; a Russian car; parked behind the house. Paul bought the car for me, and Rob painstakingly taught me to drive standard, which I needed to learn, to drive it.  The house was not a mansion by any means; the old farmhouse is the building at the front, with a newer part at the back, surrounded by two acres.  There was an oil furnace and no air conditioning and the walls had little insulation. On cold nights the walls would bang loudly as they expanded and contracted with temperature changes. The pipes froze in winter and the septic system regularly gave us problems. Yet we loved living there. We moved there in 1974, intending to stay two years, but lived there for almost ten, leaving at the end of 1983. It was the place that shaped us into who we are today.

The Fog Story

One foggy January morning, 35 years ago, three years after we moved to Maplewood Lodge, I walked down the long driveway to the road, to wait with our children; Brenda (5,) and Peter (7;) for the school bus. The bus emerged from the fog and they climbed on board. I turned to walk back to the house.  One minute the children's voices rang out--"Quick Brenda, get a kiss from Mommy," and, "Mommy, will you look after my snowball?" Then the whining hum of the bus driving off into the distance. Suddenly silence, hanging in the air. P alpable  stillness. There had been a light fall of snow the night before; enough to cover the trees and bushes with a  magical  new coat, but it was quite mild, and a mist hung all around the edges of the fields. The hills that rose on the other side of the fields, were hidden, and in the quiet I was in a world at once timeless and peaceful. From high in the misty treetops came the sound of birds chirping; the drip of snow meltin

Tables Turn

Still looking through the archives for one particular post. Still haven't found it, but I found this one that made me smile again and thought it might make you smile too... My kids would probably say they ate plainly as children. Not exactly a deprived childhood, but the cereal in the cupboard was stuff like Cornflakes; Weetabix: Oatmeal--oh, and Puffed Wheat (basically air, I know!) I was a Meanie Mom who refused to buy sugared cereal. They loved my friend Irene, who would buy them Coco Pops! Except for festive occasions, we ate lots of casseroles and home made food. They had parents who balanced out the scales in opposite directions: Paul, who until recently kept the salt industry afloat single handedly, and who would happily live on hamburgers and fries, peanut butter on toast (white bread of course,) or large bowls of Cornflakes and Weetabix crunched together and sprinkled liberally with sugar; and me who loved nuts; seeds; yogurt; brown bread or Ryvita, and vegetables

Love Life

Aha, I thought that title would get your attention.  We're in our 44th year of married life, so I thought I would share a glimpse of what it is like at our age.  A warning: You may be disappointed; but not if you are looking for humour. Last night Paul was looking for sympathy from the friends in our living room because I, "move things around all the time."  Just for clarification--he's not talking about the furniture; moving the jam in the fridge, counts. :)  So this morning we had a quick breakfast together. We were running a little late. He commented on the coffee particularly; how nice it was; nice and strong, just how he likes it.  We finished breakfast and got ready to leave. "Do you want me to pour your second cup into a travel mug?" I asked. "That would be wonderful," he said. I filled a silver mug and called out, "It's on the hall table!" His last words were a grateful, "Thanks love," as I gathered

Guilty Parties

By Belinda Oh my, I am still looking for that foggy story from the past. I haven't found it yet, and if I don't tomorrow, I will rewrite it from my journal, but I found this funny story from last year to share. It was called "Guilty Parties," and you will soon find out why. :) I was loading the dishwasher when Brenda wandered into the kitchen with a perplexed expression on her face and furrowed brow. She had just lost something precious, her last piece of salmon. In fact she had posted her status to the world on Facebook  as this: "Ok it's official ... I have lost my mind and my salmon! Made my lunch for tomorrow and could have sworn I put the leftovers in the fridge but the allusive salmon is still MIA! If I ever find it I'll let I you know where I put it!" And now she was coming to commiserate with me. I obliged. After all, I am used to the fact that I can put something down and it vanishes from view in that very split second! How does that ha

Foggy Morning

By Belinda Just yesterday I was telling a friend who was visiting, about a certain misty morning at Maplewood Lodge. I'd written about it, and said that I would post that story again. I haven't been able to find it quickly; there are an amazing 2,335 posts on this blog now! However, I did find another post about a foggy morning right here in Bond Head, written in 2009. I loved reliving that morning and while I will continue my search for the original story, here is the one I did find, which brought back a lovely memory: Saturday morning. Pancakes with blueberries, the house redolent with fragrant fresh coffee, and outside--fog! Tippy said, "It looks like there's a white backdrop outside of the window. If you got all dressed up in white, no one would be able to see you." We laughed at the thought of her fog camouflage suit. I told of my childhood in England, when the fog descended on our village and we groped our way around the old streets. Light came faint