Wednesday, January 09, 2019

A Year in the Life: 2018

Riding the Model T Ford at Greenfield Village

What I would tell you over a cup of coffee as I show you my photo album:

I am not an exceptional person. I am average, sometimes strong, sometimes helpless, desperately clutching on to an exceptional God. And when I'm unable to hold on, God still holds me.

I don't post many of my dark moments here. I don't usually tell you about my mistakes or the nightmares or how I am up and down some nights, especially when the wind howls. But I will tell you those times are getting less often, Part of the reason for that is I am finally learning to trust and rely on the love, care and encouragement from our dear friends and family members. We have seen so many of you this year that I hesitate to include pictures for fear of leaving someone out. Please, if you have one of us together, send it to me, yes?

When the dark times do come, and friends may not be immediately available, I know beyond any doubt that God is with me through it all, whether or not I feel it. I am learning to choose to TRUST this truth, that's why "trust" is my #oneword for 2019.

I have finally made it through my 2018 Joy Jar, then I browsed through my photos for the year and filled in some significant blanks. Not everything made the list, but I'd like to tell you about some of them. But, please keep something in mind if you choose to walk down this pathway of past days with me. Our human tendency is to compare our worst moments to someone else's highlight reel.

Please don't.

Each of us lives out our life and our calling as faithfully as we are able, as best as we can manage. There are fits and starts, there are dark days I wouldn't share with my best friend. So rejoice with me, for I have found joy in all sorts of places, mostly because I'm learning to look for it everywhere.

Playing Azul at Boardwalk in Abbotsford
Games We Played:
We love to play board games and card games. Some favorites include Crokinole, Dixit, Five Crowns, and Crib. This year Andrew and Rebecca introduced us to Azul, and Azul 2: Stained Glass of Sintra. We had fun learning the party game Code Names with LeBlancs and crew on New Years Eve.

Marcel Dionne at his diner in Niagara Falls

Memorable Restaurants:
Who doesn't love to eat, and the more amazing the flavors or atmosphere, the better we like it. Some of our favorites in Calgary include Ten Foot Henry, Rouge, Seasons of Bowness Park, Smugglers Inn, Vintage Chophouse (Calgary), Heartland Café (Okotoks), The Italian Farmhouse (Bragg Creeg).

The rest of this list comes from a little further afield, from our road trips this year. If you're ever in these areas, be sure to try these places: Porter's Bistro (Langley), Saba (Ft. Langley), Elizabeth’s Chalet (Surrey), Glass House Winery (Langley Twp), Hilltop Café (Langley Twp), Avishan Authentic Middle East Grill (Langley), Smith & Wolensky (Chicago), Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria (Naperville), Schmidt’s Sausage Haus in the German Village (Columbus, OH), The Blueline Diner (Niagara Falls. ON where the owner, famous hockey legend, Marcel Dionne was bussing tables because it's his place and they were short staffed that day!), Buddy’s Pizza (Livonia, MI), Bavarian Inn (Frankenmuth, MI), and finally, one we completely stumbled over on our long drive home: Doncker’s (Marquette, MI).

Of course, who doesn't love a good movie. It's been a while since I've seen one I'd rate 5/5, and only one did that for me this year. Here's my completely arbitrary and subjective personal ratings based on how intensely moved I was, the relative importance of the story themes, and the special effects/stunts/cinematography. Tell me, did I miss one you think is a must-see?

The Darkest Hour 4/5
The Greatest Showman 3/5
Paul, Apostle of Christ 4/5
The Black Panther 3/5
Star Wars: Solo 3/5
Incredibles 2  2/5
Mamma Mia  3/5
Christopher Robin 5/5
Mission Impossible: Fallout 4/5
Robin Hood 3/5
Mary Poppins Returns (VIP Experience) 3/5

Live Theatre/Concerts:
This is by far the most interesting part of entertainment in my book. Real people, singing, acting, dancing, playing. Human expertise at its best or in its infancy, quality live performances resonate deeply with me.

In February, for Black History Month, we attended the 32nd Annual Gospel Concert in Edmonton at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. A packed program with hundreds of performers in dozens of choirs and bands.

In March and April we visited Rosebud twice: once for the hilarious and incredible one man show, Wingfield’s Inferno and next for the endearing and funny Driving Miss Daisy.

On April 24, The Tallis Scholars, were the height of classical music, performing at Bella Concert Hall at Mount Royal University. "The Tallis Scholars have done more than any other group to establish sacred vocal music of the Renaissance as one of the great repertoires of Western classical music." Their close a capella harmony is an "exclusive sound, praised by reviewers for its supple clarity and tone, and to bring fresh interpretations to music" new and old.

Joel solos at Louis Riel Band Concert

Celebrating with the Warrens and Wynnes after Youth Singers

The spring and Christmas time also brought out school concerts and Youth Singers. We are privileged to be friends with several very talented young people whose concerts and plays we frequent with pleasure. We thrilled to Joel Warren's jazz trumpet at the Louis Riel Band concerts, Amy Warren's delightful performances in Lights on Broadway and Falaland with the Calgary Youth Singers, and Nicole Aronitz as a stunning Peter Pan at David Thompson School.

We of course love classic rock and music of all sorts, so were thrilled to take in The Eagles with Vince Gill and get our first look at the new Rogers Centre in Edmonton. We also loved attending an Andrew Allen house concert hosted by my friend Catherine Cadman, who also introduced me to the Calgary Women's Chorus at their outstanding Christmas concert. One other notable event was Wonder and Gloria by the First Alliance Church choir and orchestra.

Humberto Vargas directs Vivaldi's Gloria

Best of all are the plays and musicals. Henry played one of the Inklings (C.S. Lewis and friends) in a terrific production of Shadowlands. On our very short stopover in Chicago this summer, we were able to see Hamilton, the Broadway Musical, at the historic 1906 CIBC Theatre. The same day we were also able to score tickets to see 84 year old Carol Burnett, live at the Chicago Theatre. We also loved Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat in Rosebud; the Canadian Badlands Passion Play, Drumheller; and finishing off the musicals was The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, First Alliance Church.
The Inklings from Shadowlands
(back row): Brad McDowell, Frances Taman, Al Hall
(front) Greg McCombs as C.S. Lewis, Adam Ward, Henry Rempel

We finished out the last quarter of the year with a play every month. The captivating Every Brilliant Thing was presented on the Engineered Air Stage (Arts Commons, Calgary). This one-woman show involved audience participation and dealt with the subject of suicide in a helpful, uplifting and informative way. I am deeply grateful to the writers, the actor, and the joint sponsorship by Fire Exit Theatre and Burnt Thicket Theatre.

Finally, Christmastime was completed with Rosebud's show: Sherlock Holmes & the Case of the Christmas Carol, a classic retelling of the classic story where Holmes is the Scrooge-like character. We finished the season with the traditional rendition of A Christmas Carol at Theatre Calgary.

Cathy and Peggy join me at Passion For Glass Gallery & Studio

Artistic Ventures:
This year, in addition to my photography and graphic arts, I took several needlecraft "sampler" workshops, had an unfortunate experience in glass fusing at franchise shop, so tried again at the studio of a glass artisan with my friends Cathy and Peggy. The second attempt went very well and I will return! Pamela came down from Sherwood Park the fall for our annual girls' weekend and we both tried our hand at watercolour painting. It wasn't quite the beginner's level advertised, but we had a few laughs and learned a bit.

Well I have to try to start wrapping things up here. Significant people returned to our life: Steve and Lisa LeBlanc came back from Winnipeg and Oly and Dianne Boersma moved back from the Netherlands. We've spent many occasions with each, as well as celebrating the following events:

Henry chats with the teamster while harvesting barley by horse drawn cutter at the Bar U

 Goat on the sod roof at Old Country Market in Coombs, BC

Significant Firsts:
Feb. 7, A visit to Glenbow Museum
Apr. 24, Driest Day in 50 years at only 8% humidity
May 25, A stay at Three Valley Gap Hotel, Museum & Ghost Town
May 30, We finally see goats on the roof at the Old Country Market in Coombs, BC
May 31, Meet up with Henry’s niece in Qualicum Beach
May 31, Watch the tide come in at Rothtrever Beach, Vancouver Island
Jun. 5, Attend Vespers at Westminster Abbey in Mission, BC
Jun. 7, Stopped (finally) at The Last Spike, Craigellachie, BC
Jun. 9, Astonished by a first view of Chaplin Lake, Canada’s second largest inland saline water body.
Jun. 18, Long awaited visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Jun. 19, Mind blown at Warther Museum & Carvers
Jun. 20, Got soaked on the Hornblower Cruise for Niagara Falls Fireworks
Jun. 28, Stumbled across the self-titled Home of Bigfoot (Remer, MN)
July 17, Camping at Akokiniskway Golf Course, Rosebud
July 17, Explore Dinosaur Trail and Horse Thief Canyon, Drumheller
July 18, Tour Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, AB
July 19, Last Chance Saloon, and the 11 Bridges, Wayne
July 20, Canadian Badlands Passion Play, Drumheller
Aug. 6, Pandas at the Zoo, Calgary
Aug. 10, Survived Calgary’s Hottest Day (36.4 C / 97.5 F)
Aug. 30, Visited Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff
Sep. 2, Stooking barley with Eau Claire Distillery at Bar U Ranch
Sep. 2, Made tea from rose-hips (pick, de-seed, dry, ground, steep)
Sep. 28, Towed trailer to BC and camped at Ft. Langley
Oct. 1, Stranded due highway closure at Canmore, camped in 2 ft. of snow
Oct. 20, Two day Watercolour Painting workshop at Leighton Art Centre with Pamela
Nov. 21, Knee Injection
Nov. 24, Dog-sat Blu

Some of my family at Murray's wedding

Notable Celebrations: 
Jan. 27, Pamela Forbe’s 60th in Sherwood Park
Feb. 10, Kevann’s wedding in Water Valley
June 6, My son Andrew’s university graduation and first year teaching grade four.
June 16, My nephew Murray’s Ohio wedding
Aug. 30, Our Wedding Anniversary #4, celebrated in Banff
Sep. 8, Joel Warren’s Baptism
Nov. 20, Henry’s birthday
Dec. 21, Joyce’s birthday
Dec. 31, LeBlanc’s New Year’s Eve

Well, that's not all, but there's not time to tell you about other church involvement, my garden, artistic endeavours, new writing assignments; Henry's books, motorcycle trips, handyman work, antique restoration, car project and puzzles; fun visiting with friends, siblings and extended relatives; the hockey games with our sons, and birthday celebrations with the family; the Calgary Flames being top of their division; or volunteering with a team of five to cook for 130 people at camp every day for a week. On the darker side were the horrible storms we couldn't avoid on our road trips, the ambulance call in the middle of the night, the root canals (one each), the knee injection, the myriad of doctor visits filling up our social calendar... those are just the stuff of life, showing our age and our scars and our gratitude for the fact we still wake up each day to God's mercies, new every morning. Most of all, we love our life together and are so grateful for this gift of love we share.

If you've stuck with me this far, your coffee is probably cold and you need a refill. Gracious. Retirement can be exhausting. What a list! Thanks for walking down memory lane with me. Why don't you create your own Joy Jar this year, and keep looking for all the events that bring a smile to your face in 2019! Then we'll meet again to compare notes, this time next year!

What ever you're looking for, you will find!

Henry's sister Elvira and brother in law, Ernie

 Celebrating the LeBlanc's return!

 Hockey with the guys

 With our daughter-in-law's family, the Buurmeesters

Lifelong friends, Murray & Pam Forbes, daughter Erica

 Pamela's party and the guys are in the kitchen?!

Henry's brother Abe and sister in law, Katie

 Beautiful Kevann

With Glen & Char visiting wineries in the Similkameen Valley

My Trio of Trust, Jean and Cathy

 Henry's niece, Janet

 Our cooking team at Camp Chamisall Week 7

Motorcycling with Richard and Lynn

 Hiking with Oly and Diane Boersma

Dinner at Gord and Jill's new villa at Glen Eagles, Cochrane

Nine strong women who've loved me a long time

 Hockey Mom Strong

 Grey Cup Victory Party: Calgary Stampeders 2018!

 Grey Cup Victory Party: Calgary Stampeders 2018!

My cousin Sylvia and Rick introduced us to Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria

Keith and Diane

Kirk visited us and we returned the favour this summer
in Ontario but I missed getting a picture of Patti.

Our friend, Amy Burks moved back to Ontario. We miss her.

The Harback crew. Lots of love and memories here.

Some of the wonderful women I serve with at women's Bible Study


Cindy, Kiel, Shaun, Henry, Bev and Jim - I didn't make them pose.

  ~Here's to 50 more years!~

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