Friday, March 13, 2015

Some recent reflections (NOT in the mirror)

I realized we arrived in Taiwan this year ONE YEAR after my last Blog......

It’s easy to say we’ve had some great winter months in Kaohsiung Taiwan. 

When Melissa opened International Friendship House in the late summer 2006 we could not have dared imagine what 9 years later looks like.  She is leaving Taiwan after 13 years and us after SEVEN winter sessions. 

Five of those I have helped many weeks with our church youth here.  It’s good and tough to see the youth in Saskatoon and Kaohsiung get to be POST High School. I think the youth leader connection is what is giving me the most difficulty saying goodbye.  Facebook helps maintain a type of connection but cannot replace the face to face.  Which is curious because I have just started connecting with some 2nd, maybe 3rd cousins over Facebook this winter.  Most I have never or seldom seen since we were children!

Last summer we sold the house we had lived in for 27 years.  Melissa might not see it again and certainly not the same as it was last time she was home.  A couple young brothers bought it and our family room will become there JAM SESSION room, neat.

We bought a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment in an over 55 Condo (in which you cannot age discriminate).  It’s nice we like it but we have lived in our Kaohsiung apartment longer than we have lived in it!!   This year we were in friend’s apartment while they were in USA for the winter months.  We’ll have a week in an executive stay hotel before flying back to Saskatoon. 

So a few years of housing changes.   Downsized Colleen’s Mom in 2008 and again when she had her stroke in 2012,  Then we downsized in summer 2014 and here in winter as we moved from our apartment of 3 seasons into one as a guest.  We kept a few things…….but few of the things that made it OUR place.  A VERY nice neighborhood and close to the church so no risky bike riding for me on youth nights.

I didn’t REALLY care if I went anywhere special, just let me live my last winter in Taiwan…… Colleen and I spent 3 days sightseeing in Macau and finding Lord Stowe’s original egg tart bakery.  Interesting place even with all the casinos and gambling.   There like most places is also affected by the general economic downturn (or clampdown on dishonest money).  Colleen and Melissa spent 4 days in Singapore and then I cooperated with the 3 of us spending 4 days in Borneo (Kota Kinabalu) a nice resort Beringgus Beach Resort and Spa.  Again, just let me live my last winter in Taiwan.  I know I’m a jerk or at the least UNUSUAL.  It is OKAY with me to just live some ordinary daily life in a foreign country.  I wasn’t a grumbler but I wasn’t the life of the party either.

I have been asked where we will go next winter ……. Don’t know, sort of don’t care, sort of wait and see, sort of ???????  We’ve got a new apartment, summer, all our family in Saskatoon for the first time in 15 years……..and a job offer under investigation AND 65 in July!
More to follow, maybe



Friday, November 22, 2013

Life's small details

Today we picked up Alex and Gaby at school for a sleepover.  The pickup took a bit longer since NOBODY told Grandma or Grandpa that we needed to go IN to pick up Gaby in her kindergarten class.......not a biggy just a few minutes but it sure was cold outside.  Alex isn't MR Speedy either.   School is just too much fun.

On the way to Jay's jobsite the radio was playing and both kids were singing along UNTIL one of the songs used a 'questionable' word......that ALEX quickly identified.  After some discussion about female dogs and word choices Gaby said it was not APPROPRIATE.....Jay and Julie sure work on expanding vocabulary!!

THEN as we were approaching where Jay was working today we saw a damaged car in a driveway.  Alex says " WHAT happened to that Mitsubishi?"   YEAH not car but BRAND name!!

We have a fun day ahead..........................

Friday, October 19, 2012

Facebook distracts me

Actually LOTS of things do...
Since I last blogged we have had a visitor from Taiwan for 10 days(and Jason and I had THREE great Northern Lights viewing nights) helped the success!!  They offer email alerts when the electromagnetic activity is likely to result in the Aurora Borealis.

We've had Alex and Gaby on two Friday when school was out and I've been out helping Jay build a GREAT storage shed.  12x12 with 9 foot walls.  Julie will actually be able to use the garage for her vehicle!!!

Earlier this week we had a pretty decent day so I FINALLY repaired some fascia on our house.  It's only needed it for at least 5 years!!!!  $120 later the front has aluminum fascia.  Now for the remaining fascia about 4 times as much with 10 times the effort because it will involve eaves troughs. SEVERAL TIMES WHILE DOING THIS I.REFLECTED ON HOW BLESSED I/WE ARE.  the weather, the ability AND HEALTH  to do the work.

Another couple weeks and we may have it sorted out for someone to live in our house while we are in Taiwan this winter. TALK ABOUT ANOTHER BLESSING!!!!!

Melissa is visiting for the month of December, ANOTHER BLESSING!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I am getting OLDER..........

This week we went to a 2 day retreat called SEPTEMBER wimpy slightly older ones were MISSING.  Maybe you are not retired yet..............or is it scheduling an interest?

Some people of a variety of ages LOVED the the retreat, I was/am 'still not sure' but I did carry away an increasing thought towards how the ones in our age range can 'take up the torch' for wider fellowship.  Oh, the youngest was 60 and the oldest was not revealed but likely over 90 as Norman Winslow was 83 on Tuesday and Phyllis Walrath mentioned she is 87!

Tuesday evening a woman said "I remember you from when you lived in Estevan" BLEW MY MIND and messed with my head for a couple hours (yeah I know THAT isn't that hard to do) She liked my red hair!!! As a little boy, it is not quite a bright as it was when I was 10! As I worked through the various thoughts and feelings this triggered it underscored the benefit of investing in each generation younger than our own.  I like to think I am a pretty ordinary and typical  person so if a simple mention of a remembrance has such a positive impact HOW MUCH EFFECT CAN EACH OF US HAVE ON OTHERS?

This is NOT an admonition.  The baton of SERVICE has passed well but that connection I saw among those over 65-70 appears to be fading in those under 70.  Maybe it is in mid process (and I am not good at adult connection as I should be).  Maybe it is a phase or season of our life cycles?

As I write I am not EXCITED about next year's September Days but I do feel a DETERMINATION growing...........

Now I need to get some rest so I can spend Friday evening with our YOUTH Kickoff least 5 grandchildren of September Days attendees will be there!!!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Finally another one.......

Here’s that post for those of you wondering if I was ever coming back

Ah the glory of being a landlord!!  Today has the “what isn’t going to work now” stuff………
We didn’t start out to be landlords but 5 years ago(oops 10) it helped Jay & Julie a bit, then a few months after them a young friend needed a place (not free….at least for the most part)  and then an older friend, same age as us needed a place.  Now she is moving to an apartment of her own that is better suited so we have a young fellow moving in on Monday.

AND SO let’s replace the small bathroom sink and also install a new dual flush toilet.   I take out the toilet then as I lift the new tank out of the box it is FLEXIBLE…broken in 3 or 4 places.  Colleen was out so I called her cell phone so she could exchange the toilet at Home Depot somehow it went to silent mode, Unfortunately I mentioned the FOUR TIMES when she got home.   Guess what?  They didn’t have any in stock until Wednesday.  Did I mention new tenant moves in on Monday? So I will be reinstalling the old one for a few days……ok new wax ring for a few days…….at least it was on sale.

Of course by this time I decided to go ahead and replace the sink, the toilet now waits for Monday morning, not a big enough emergency to work on Sunday.  So guess what #2?  The drain doesn’t line up, THAT close but not close enough!!!  Ok what parts do I have…….NONE, off to the Co-op, don’t have the part I am thinking of so rework the idea 3-4 times in the aisle while Colleen get new caulking for around the toilet and sink.   Now where is my ABS cement……..finally found it Eureka, but can’t open the can!  OLD and DRY so off to buy new cement AND plumbing pipe (gave mine away) and a couple fittings.  Oops Co-op is closed 20 minutes ago.  Maybe Canadian Tire is open, yep until 10pm, better not need that much time!

I AM GETTING TIRED…….but blessed that I know how to do what I am doing.  Well, almost know!

Ok drain pipes cut and cut, drain lines up now……glue, glue…not beautiful, but not ugly either!   Now tighten the tailpiece to the sink, install the faucets and connect the water for a test……NOTE the water was NOT connected until AFTER the drain was fully connected.  Plug down, water filling, water shuts off good, open the drain…HALF of it leaks around the bottom drain gasket, ARGH, double argh!   Ok check out why because that does not usually happen…Maybe it is the Home Depot Special?  We had a working basin and toilet until about noon today……………………………………..

So I have now had TWO Canadian Tire trips one for fittings and one for fix the leaky drain parts.  Guess what #3, yep the drain still leaks, well actually only drips, but now I am tired enough I am wiser to wait for another day.  WISER, well I did start to change the sink and toilet in the first place so wisdom might be in short supply!!!!  

Did I mention they both worked quite well…….just would be better if…………and they will look very good!  Eventually.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Hmm, what to say............

sitting here BORED by the Olympics coverage, looking out the window waiting to got to the Forestry Farm with out church youth this evening.

The last few weeks I have had a few opportunities to ponder and explain my skill with kids.
The core is that as parents, grandparents and others we are in the business of helping kids become healthy productive adults. This is shaped around their ability, pace and capability. Flexibility, adaptability, patience, calmness, kindness all play a part. It is NOT easy to have what is needed at each moment for each child or adult for that matter.

My main method is to use edifying words and actions; redirection rather than direction and FUN. I am not always successful.

Most kids, just like adults, are simply looking for ways to be recognized, gain attention and feel good about themselves. I try to do my part.

Fun is water balloons with water or air.......water pistols (or squirters) small and large, paper plates as frisbees, run there, run back, sit very quiet, yell very loud ANYTHING TO KEEP THEIR MINDS DEVELOPING and active enough to not get bored and do the THINGS they should not do.

But remember FUN and LOVE

Thursday, July 19, 2012

hmm June 24th to July 19th.....

Life continues, part time work continues, occasional spam continues (electronic, not canned), love continues, mixed messages and results continue, good and bad weather continue, happy times - not so happy times continue, world stuff-family stuff-local stuff-church stuff continue, good feelings continue, not so good feeling aren't lasting and for some good health is not lasting.

LOVE YOU LOVED ONES and let them know
RESPOND WITH UNMISTAKABLE LOVE and breathe 3 times and think in between when responding with anything other than overwhelming love.
PARTY HARD but safely

if you didn't know how old you are, how old would you be?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grieving today..............

The pain is different but the brain and body still ache.  Our Youth Pastor Kris Gowdy is moving on to Spring Arbor Michigan FMC.  He has been here for one year.

I've know for almost a week and now that it is publicly announced it is REAL.  The loss is REAL.  The HOPE is also REAL.  His house sale is almost final and within only 8 days so that is affirmation.

But the brain funk is still real.  The inner turmoil processing is real.   NOW to process and move along and move ahead.

We have great volunteers and youth ministry at Lakeview will survive and thrive but the pain is still there.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ahhh, semi-retired life............

We've been home from our Taiwan home for a month now.  I am certainly in the semi part of the semi-retired!  This might be the working summer!  But as quick as I say that I remember in THREE Days I will be in Banff AB............meeting Andy Chan from Taiwan.  His first visit to Canada, my first Hostel stay.  Well except Melissa's Guest House.  Also my first visit to the Columbia Icefields!  This is my reciprocal for the Yen Shuei fireworks this winter.

I'm feeling a bit of the pressure of some work, some planning, some life, mother-in-law, to fit it all in and perform as each deserves.   BUT HALLELUJAH, I DO NOT HAVE ANY HEALTH CONCERNS.  It was a year ago Melissa discovered she had skin cancer.  Full successful treatment and once her doctor gets back to Koahsiung she will have her full blown one year checkup...  All looks really well.

It is tough when a parent, even an in-law, is in the latter years as some capabilities lessen and the pressures of life seem to increase.  Some circumstances are matter of course and some just seem CATASTROPHIC.

I welcome any words of wisdom, encouragement and you could even send me a verbal .kick in the pants'.


Thursday, April 05, 2012

Another week, uh month, more discoveries

Hmm, Facebook has most of my 'life goings on'.

Pleasure in some of the simpler and yet also complex things of life.

Yesterday I rode my bike to 'find' a shop that has the special roller for under the patio screen door...NOT so easy in Saskatoon and even more complicated when in a country that replaces as often as it repairs ADD TO THAT MY LACK OF MANDARIN!!! and the landlord joyfully reimbursed me the cost of the rollers!!!!

The day before we had air conditioners installed in the two bedrooms and as they went to change the electrical receptacle in the second bedroom THE BOX HAD NO WIRES...............maybe since original construction!  So today a worker came to see if he could get a connection to the main electrical box for the apartment...he was successful in MUCH LESS time than I thought it would take but then in the process of checking something the screen from the window was moved and PLUMMETED 10 floors so then he spent about an hour repairing it......only pride was injured.   NOW an electrician will come and install wires and hopefully an appropriate plug OR I'll be calling the AC installer..............AHHH life in an apartment.

We got to SKYPE with Alex and Gaby Monday morning, their Sunday night, SUPER COOL.  We will be back in Saskatoon in 2 weeks.  Ready to run or recover and get going.   I have a couple electrical jobs lined up and then we will see what else. AND GRANDKIDS AND OTHERS TO VISIT.  We get back Thursday night and I am hoping to show up to help clean church floors Friday morning.  Then ZOU Friday night....I might be expecting too much resilience on my part.........

Now to start planning for repair or a replacement Central Vac in Saskatoon.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

WHAT.....last post in December.......

I guess Facebook is taking over...................
it must be feeling NICE in Saskatoon with 7 degrees this evening..........but I am still enjoying our 25 on a Friday afternoon.

My thoughts haven't been as deep this winter as 3 years ago but then life doesn't have quite as many DRAMATIC changes and uncertainties.   Plenty of uncertainty to go around but somewhat less dramatic and unfamiliar.

IT IS STILL THOUGHT PROVOKING TO RETIRED AT 61--62 in 4 months!!!  In Taiwan "but you look so young!"   What work do you do?    In Canada, Congratulations!   We have been blessed with good health, enough skills, bravery and financial resources that we CAN be here and work part time in Canada and friends everywhere.   Snowbirding across the ocean instead of south of the border maybe we will change our jumping off point.   Those pesky flight arrangements determine most of our planning though.

Well off to our Friday Mexican lunch,  YEP in Taiwan having Mexican.......

Friday, December 30, 2011

Another day....Supper at Mr. English

Yep another day of Kaohsiung adventure!  Melissa picked us up and we went for lunch at Don Burrito on Heti Road.  A regular Friday lunch meeting so we cannot break  the 'girls lunch' even though I do..........  soft tacos, quesadillas, nachos and a GOOD TIME.

Melissa dropped us off at the MRT (no fee ATM) so we could get $$$$ and pay our rent at the Post Office, yes, here you can do banking through the Post Office too.   Later, I went for a short bike ride, bought my iced green tea, stopped for a coffee and snack at the corner bakery Chung Hua Bakery...WHY buy tea and then coffee??  to see my tea stand friends and then a bit too chilly on the bike so coffee to 'you know' "go with the snack from the bakery".

Probably Chicken Caesar salad for supper but I MIGHT go for the burger!

New Year's eve tomorrow COULD be a quiet one....a morning wedding of a friend, I have youth 8-10pm and there was some talk of watching the EDA world fireworks from Melissa's balcony....but then I hear a lot of talk that was just a discussion of ideas......

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

The last few Christmas' have been very different.  Being in Taiwan there is LOTS of Christmas promotion, decoration and music but it doesn't stop December 25th with a screeching halt like it does in Canada.  Oh, it does start to disappear but music still plays however sometimes you can also hear a Christmas song in March!  Many of the sparkly tinsel decorations are used year round so there is just less of it.  For most Taiwanese it is an 'american' holiday so work and play go on as usual

This year we helped Melissa care for an orphan baby for the weekend, went to church, had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant and Christmas dinner at our Pastor's house, met some other church members and learned a new game.  We even had leftover turkey and pumpkin dessert for lunch today!!!

Now we will see what unfolds for the week....there are a few things to do at Melissa's apartment and then her(MY) IFH work list will start to be released.  It will be very different operating the guest house without actually living in the midst of it.  Much more personal privacy for her and her dogs and it gives her a  fresh perspective for the house too.

No real profound thoughts today....................