Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Rocky Path… June 29

It has been well over a month since I posted last – maybe the longest gap since I started this venture in March 2006.

A lot has happened in my life since May 24 but much of it seems pretty mundane. I am blessed by the gift of a life of peace even though at times there are upsetting events and rough patches in my relationships.

This is an overview of some of the things I have experienced in the past 5 weeks -- I may add some pictures in a few days. if I get that to the top of my list

We are now at home. We left Coquitlam mid- morning June 8th and arrived back home the afternoon of June 17 with overnight stops at Kelowna (Walmart), Lake Louise, Banff, Drumheller (Walmart), Regina (Walmart) crossing into the US at North Gate ND Wednesday evening.

We spent Wednesday p.m. visiting our friend Dave & Heather McMillan in Kennedy, Sask. It was great to visit with them and meet Dave’s parents—they are preparing a return trip to their “mission work” in Mexico and will be enroute now as they were flying out of Chicago (O’Hare) on the 28th.

The border crossing at North Gate was a unique experience -- - out in the middle of nowhere – on a flat road bordered by wheat or corn fields there are buildings -- for Canada Customs and Immigration northbound and the US one for us southbound. We pulled up and waited for a few minutes and a guy came out – asked a bunch of questions, took our passports and disappeared for well over 5 minutes. He then came back and came on board to look around – seemingly more to just see what it looked like that for any other reason, gave us back our passports and wished us a good day.

We spent Wednesday & Thursday nights at Walmarts – my “favorite” place - in Minot, ND and Bemidji , MN. Friday night we camped at the Wildwood campground off Highway 2 about half way between Duluth and Ashland, WI. We spent a couple of hours Saturday morning enjoying the “feel” of home walking the beach and a lakeside trail at Ashland, WI overlooking Lake Superior. Saturday night we spent a leisurely evening at a campground right on Highway 28 just east of Munising MI.

Overall we clocked 9000 km (or about 5500 miles) on the motor home and about another 2500 km (1500 miles) on the HHR -- I have been a walking commercial for the HHR – It gets the greatest gas mileage – it traveled over 11,500 km (7000 miles) on 2 tanks of gas (well maybe 3) !!!

Since we have arrived home we have been quite busy with yard work, cleaning up leaves, trimming out branches, cleaning gutters, planting flowers and working on the project that gives this post its title.

When it comes tour home and “garden” Linda is the visionary and architect and the “doer” when it come envisioning, designing, picking out, planting and maintaining the landscaping and flower gardens. I have been the “engineer” taking her conceptual designs and ideas and working out how to make them a reality --I am also the construction worker, landscape worker and carpenter doing the heavier and more mechanical aspects of the work (once I get past my initial response of ”You want to do what?? – That’s impossible!!”).

Sometimes it is a bit tense trying to translate her vision into something I can actually construct that when done is a close enough approximation to what she was visualizing. We also have debates over whether what she is describing (or at least what I’m hearing her describe) is really going to look OK. Now, I have experienced overtime that her vision – once I really understand it is going to look great but occasionally I have been able to make positive suggestions and I have experienced doing what (I thought) she wanted even though I felt it wasn’t going to work only to have her say that isn’t right we need to do it over—which as you can imagine can lead to some tense words.)

So we have come to understand that major projects we both need to be there all the time it is going on especially when the “aestethic design” is being shaped. And we need to talk about it before we started especially any irreversible steps.

The project we started a week ago Friday has been a major change in the appearance of our front yard and involved removing trees and shrubs that had been there when we moved in 29 years ago. So the past week has been a little rocky in our communications and in understanding one another and debating over what the end result was going to be. We bit the bullet on the first Friday and removed all the trees—we did do that fairly slowly—one at a time to confirm that the result was going to be livable for both of us but when we stopped we had removed all the shrubs and 2 larger cedar trees leaving a “naked” spot on the one end of the house.

By Thursday night we had removed roots, dug out a border with a plastic trim and transplanted several hostas into the empty space and the new vision wasbeginning to take place. There was also this “flagstone” path that Linda was seeing and I was having trouble seeing it the same way. It had been a source of serious debate all week as we worked on the “flower bed” portion of the project. Well yesterday (Friday) it could no longer be avoided – we had to deal with the path. Since the issue was one of “whether it would look right” to do it the way she was describing it, we agreed that the best thing was to just lay the stones out on top of the existing grass (such as it was) and see how it looked. First step was hauling flat stones from a pile that our neighbors had dumped along a path behind their house while excavating for an addition. Linda had seen these as we were walking by and had gotten permission to use them. This was no mean feat hauling a couple of dozen rocks some weighing upwards of 200 lbs. several hundred yards to our yard. We backed our little HHR down the path and manhandled (a couple of times by rolling them up a makeshift ramp because they were too heavy to lift) as many as we could into a load and brought them – it took a couple of hours and 4 trips but by noon we had the rocks here. By 5:00 p.m. we had a “rocky path” laid out that we both felt good about and were in agreement about how to finish it off—now there were a few “difficult” moments in that process – at one point Linda’s sister Arliss dropped by and had to “dip and dive” a bit to keep from being drawn into the “cross-fire” but all-in-all we seemed to come through it unscathed – it is wonderful what God can do in building strong relationships if we keep our focus on letting him be in control.

In addition to “being strengthened” by the rocky path, we have had several other things on our minds

My Dad was back in hospital for a day the Friday before we got home so I have been keeping in touch with him each day to be sure he is doing OK. Linda’s Mom has been going through some changes in her life that have been stressful and so Linda has been in touch with her almost every day.

I had a followup meeting on the training prposal I had been working on before I left and we have agreeeddto proceed with this course in the fall so I have a week or so of work to be doneover the summer toprepare for that.

My brother younger Rob retired from Algoma Steel after 35 years and is off on a 2 month “vacation” traveling to the West Coast to visit Marilyn’s family and to go on an Alaskan cruise.

We have had 2 nephews ( my sister’s son Nathan) and Linda’s sister’s son (Michael) who graduated from High school.

There have been several new babies born in the “extended” family of our church family.

Barb Hotchkiss had to have additional surgery June 21 to clean out and repair the incision from her February surgery soshe is still not back on her feet. Our friend Mike case had surgery on Thursday to have a tumor removed and he is in our prayers and thoughts right now.

Finally, Paul & Michelle Hillier arrived this week for Paul to take up his full-time role ministering with the church here.

One last thing – our son Christopher is a detective sergeant on the Aurora Illinois police force. He called this morning and also sent a link about this story of a major sweep he had been a part of that resulted in charges in 33 “cold case” gang related murders in Aurora some reaching back almost 2 decades. (click HERE for details)

So it seems “rocky paths” notwithstanding, our lives are full and God is good- I hope this is true for you as well.