Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cutest critter on wings



Saturday, October 27, 2007

Playing with the big girls

I have just recently entered into the crafting world in a whole new way, but I am no longer sure it's a world I am cut out for. Etsy is a crafting network that allows artists to set up a virtual shop and then sell their products online. Some people are successful enough to make a living out of it. But others, like myself, will never really have what it takes. I know that now.

I have spent the last few weeks trying to get a foothold in this new world. In order to make any sales at all you have to create and add items every few days or you won't get noticed. You have to chat in forums and shmooze your way into getting a sale off your fellow etsians. You have to align yourself with a TEAM, or two, or four, so that you can be part of a co-promoting club. You must try and collect a following any way you can, including advertizing in as many online venues as possible or you will fail.

Oh! I feel like a fish who has jumped out of a very small pond into the ocean itself. Lots of bigger, more colourful, fish to compete with. You should see some of the stuff these women are pumping out: pottery and glassware and jewellery. . .

My experience with this fast-paced online market has left me very eager to make face-to-face relationships with local businesses. Moving at a slower speed and establishing stronger contacts sounds more feasible, (and is less likely to cause me to suffer a nervous breakdown.) I will have to brace myself for disappointments and disinterest, but I have to give it a try.

Beginnings are often so humbling. But they are steeped in lessons and learning. I will have to remind myself of these things in the days to come or I will throw in the towel far too early.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Falling into it

Last night I attended a "conference" hosted by a muslim students association at Ottawa University. Three speakers were asked to attend and offer an answer to the question: What is the Purpose of Life?

A rabbi. An imam. A pastor. Three leaders of three faiths.

On this night, the Bible study I am a part of had decided to leave the comfort of our usual livingroom hideout and head out in the rain to this humble university auditorium. Firstly, because our pastor was asked to be one of the three speakers. Secondly, because this event was directly tied to what our study has been seeking to understand; What is our role in the community in which we live? How can we honour God with our lives as we interact with the diversity of culture and religious belief around us right now?

From the very first moment I sat in the fold-down seat, I felt it was the right place to be. The auditorium only filled to about 10%, but held a diverse assortment of characters. We were all looking around at one another, eyes meeting eyes, acknowledging a common interest in simply being there. The moderator began with opening remarks that ran 10 minutes long but essentially encouraged us to all accept that we are all the same, and to recognize that the fundamentals of all three faiths were similar and founded upon the very same god. It was a plea, really. Please get along, she was saying. This did not surprise me. I had expected as much.

What I did not expect was that I would fall inlove again.

First, the rabbi stepped up to the podium. "What is the purpose of life? Well. . . for that I must turn to the sacred texts. . ." But he never got that far. In a confused attempt to answer, while not answering at all, he began to recite names of those who have gone before us asking "the hard questions." Solomon, Abraham, Job. . . Which wasn't saying anything at all. The rabbi seemed very intent upon extolling the works of Man. Lifting up our ingenuity and our advancements in the world. He referred to our "partnership" with God himself in creating the world we now live in. And when he sat back down I felt like we had just heard a love song to Humanity. Our purpose? "To revel in ourselves," he seemed to be saying.

The Imam was not confused at all. There was a rigid focus to his words. And it was very clear to us all that the purpose of the muslim life was simply this: Follow all of Mohammad's rules and God will bestow upon you His pleasure. So many rules! Such a severe edict. And no help at all for the pour soul who must find His way to God all alone along this path of rules.

But then came Life. That was all our pastor put on the table. Our purpose in this life? To Live. The life that begins the moment we meet "Yeshua," the one who flows like living waters through our souls. Apart from him there is no life at all. He spoke so simply. It was the same message over and over in clear, beautiful words. And all I heard was hope and love and Truth. I felt such a love for my pastor, who always seems to have the right words to speak out into the dark. And I fell inlove again with this Saviour who gave me this Life, of which my pastor was speaking. He gave it to me in my earliest days before I even knew what it was like to be without Him.

It was a good night. These men agreed to come and speak about their God. They came, and that is a good thing. And we, the small gathering of people, all sat together to listen to their words. That is a good thing also. May there be people meeting all over this world to speak about why we are here on this earth. But whose hearts were stirred? Who felt more tied to their own God? Who left questioning themselves and more confused than ever? I don't know. But I hope there were others there, who like me, heard Life and Love, and fell right into it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's a . . .


My two little blue-eyed boys are resting their heads on my lap as I write this, and I am filled with love for them. Mothering boys has been a precious experience. To me my boys seem to be more needy of my affection and attention. They clamour to be near me in a way that my bold little girl does not. And I love it. But may I confess a momentary mourning for the girl I had hoped for? It sounds horrible, but I think many mothers can relate.

There is an inherent desire to produce a creature like yourself. It's perverse but true. On one hand, I would never wish for my little ones to inherit too much of my character because I know my failings better than anyone. But on the other hand, there would be an intimacy of understanding between me and that child. And that is something every mother desires. I think women long for girls because it seems safe. As unique as each woman is, we are all women. We inhabit the same realm of hormonal/emotional reality. There is something unreachable in boys because they inhabit a different realm. One established by God to be distinctly different from my own. This makes me uncomfortable-- that there will always be a space between me and my boys that I cannot reach across.

I know that my job description does not require this of me, however. It is required of no man or woman that they know all of their dearest to the core. That job belongs to Another. As long as I can nurture the love of God in each of my children's hearts, I will end my days in complete rejoicing. And, truly, all of my fears over the mysteries of little men pale in the face of the joy I feel over being blessed with another child. Why me? Why have I been honoured with another beautiful child to care for? I am ready.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Exterior Style: The Evolution

1. Stone... Here's where we started. But very quickly moved on. As beautiful as these homes are, the art of stone masonry has become so specialized that the price tag can't even be glimpsed my most of us. Building a new home, or buying an old one, made from this material was completely out of the question. One road away from us, five or six of these gorgeous homes stand all in a row looking beautiful and ancient and out of reach.2. Log. Aidan and I are winter-lovers. Cozy and rustic is good. But once again, $$$. The stack of logs alone would have cost as much as our current home. This is also a material that would require specialized contractors for the "stacking" process. Besides, I can't help but think these homes ought to be by the water or in the mountains. Not in the middle of farm fields.

3. Our final choice: English Tudor. I have always loved the cottage-like appeal of this style. Germany is filled with tudor buildings, but they are to be found here aswell. I liked the idea of designing the pattern of the wood slats to suit us. And the style would have complemented our dormer-windowed house.

I say "would have" because this has become yet another exterior that is no longer an option. We have. . . run out of money. And time. The wisest thing to do was cancel all our plans for a pretty exterior and go with the cheapest, fastest possibility. Yes, vinyl siding. This is one of those materials I have a very firm stance on. I really dislike it. (Putting it mildly.) I am always on the hunt for character, and I find this, frankly, has none.

Aidan assures me it is temporary, but I know we will find other things to do with our time and money. A white vinyl house it is.

Friday, October 12, 2007

She sees that her trading is profitable... (Prov. 31)

Sooooo exciting! I just found out I have a table at a Christmas craft fair this year in Almonte. It's just a tiny little venue and I will have to price modestly or I won't attract any buyers, but it's start! I feel so... entrepreneur-ish I wish I could post pictures of the things I'm hoping to sell, but they are going to be Christmas presents this year. Oh--maybe I will anyways:
A more traditional offering: star ornaments made from clay I painted and sealed.

Less traditional ornaments made from bottle caps! I'm calling them Bottle Cap Ladies I think they have so much character, but I think the'd do better in the city. I'm not sure what rural folks will think of them.

Spread the word guys. Maybe you can come visit me at the Almonte Civitan Hall on November 17th.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

NICE daddy!

A funny little anecdote concerning daily life here in the Van Dyk household. This gem epitomized the oft-occuring miscommunications between Aidan and myself:

This morning, as every morning, Aidan and I tag-teamed Caelah out the door to her bus. It seems that we barely make it each day. Things are never as glossy as an orange juice add. Sometimes her hair is left to hang into her face. Sometimes she is only partly done up, or buttons go in the wrong holes. Usually she is wearing outfits of her own creation that would disturb me if I had time to notice. But we DO manage to get her out the door. After today, we can add a new kink in the pre-bus prep. process to the list of kinks that continue to keep us out of the running for Parents of the Year.

Jo: "Hon? Can you grab something for Caelah's lunch?" (I hollered from the front door, as I tried to find my shoes in the heaping laundery basket that serves to hold all of our footwear at the moment).

Aidan: "'kay." [Silence. Rummage. Rummage.] "What should I put in here?"

Jo: "There are crackers up in the top cupboard. Just grab a handful."
[Silence. Doors opening.]

Aidan: "These nice ones?"

Jo: (Perplexed, but too harried to think about his use of the term "nice" to describe Ritz crackers.) "Yeah. Sure."

Aidan: "How many? 5?"

Jo: "Nah. A good handful."

That's all. Seemingly normal. All checks go. Out the door. Onto the bus. Back in the door to do a post-whirlwind tidy. . . Discovery: One ravaged box of Peek Freans "NICE" sugar cookies open on the counter. Yes, Caelah now had a fist full of these high fat, high sugar, definite no-no qualifiers for the "healthy nutrition break" treats in her bag. Boy was she going to be the envy of the class this snacktime.

12 o'clock. Off the bus. In the door. Open up the lunch bag. . . nothing but crumbs.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Images of Thanks

So many things to be thankful for. . .


Karin's beautiful creation. Caramel Apple Pie.

Homemade sauce from fresh orchard apples.

Pre-dinner pastries stuffed with Bree & Cranberry, and Cheddar, Apple & Bacon.

The tenderest fresh turkey. Hats off to the new convection oven. Three hours from start to finish.

Pretty things:

People to share it with:

Caelah and one of her best buds helping me glean the makings for homemade
pumpkin pie.

Had I had time I would have captured my nearest and dearest preparing and eating this bounty. But, instead, will have to hold the image of them in my mind, all elbow-to-elbow around our little old table. Parents, children, siblings and friends squished in comfortable intimacy to share a delicious meal. I do believe that it will be a lonely day the day we have a big enough table to not butt elbows.

A note to my mom:
I feel that I will never be able to accomplish what we just did without you beside me, calmly coordinating a million things. How have you single-handedly created such feasts all these years? You are simply amazing.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A floor. . .

Truly the only thing between me and true comfort in this home. We have very unique floors. Heat coils have been hidden under a layer of poured cement to keep our feet warm in the chilly seasons. Well aware of the cold, industrial look of grey concrete, Aidan and I spent a wee bit extra to have a rich brown tint blended into the original mixture. The first day we saw it we were overjoyed at the result. Our floors looked as edible as milk chocolate:

Truly the best we could have hoped for. But days later we returned to find that it had settled back into a pale grey.

What this means for my day-to-day life, as a housewife, is that I have to contend with sticky dust at every turn. It coats everything we own. Because the colour is wrong, we haven't sealed the floors. And unsealed cement does not stay clean. It holds onto dust like velcro. The furniture is dusty, the beds are dusty. Our socks are black. And, housekeeping aside, grey doesn't fit with the colour scheme.

It has been a few months of half-hearted phone calls to the cement company, but we finally struck a deal with them. They will both pay for, and apply, a tinted sealer to our floors. It should bring the colour back out and be suitable for living. As just as this is, we are now faced with the monumental task of lifting the paint and drywall plaster off the floors before the company sends a man out.

Long nights ahead.