Topics for tomorrow’s Coffee Date

Our family was in Regina today, minus Gina of course. She is in heavy duty rehearsals for a show in Victoria. We were there because Morgan so badly wanted to attend Agribition. It was the only day we could make work. For those readers outside of Saskatchewan, Agribition is an annual event where all aspects of prairie agriculture are on display, rodeos and stock competitions occur and merchants get to show their products.

Ford Canada was there and that meant that Morgan got to sit inside his most favorite vehicle for a while, a Ford Bronco.

We have attended Agribition a few times over the last number of years. When Morgan started talking about going this year it just wasn’t something I wanted to do. After some deliberating and negotiating we made a plan, then when Morgan’s volleyball team advanced to provincials we revised the plan. It was on short notice that we all headed into Regina. As it turned out I would actually be spared Agribition this year because Jill needed to finalize her shopping for her grad dress. I regret that I am not wired for things like Agribition, it would make me a better ranch wife, but being honest, I just don’t like it. With diverse needs being met everyone had some interesting moments.

First off, Jill had a gift shopping spree coming to her and that was fun. We were at a store that inspired me to try on a few things. One item was a dress that when I held it up and asked Jill for her opinion she said, “it looks like Laura Ingall’s dress for going into the jungle.” That was a zippy and fun reply but fairly non committal. I figured I better try it on. Partly that was because a friend of mine recently told me that my grade 8 grad dress looked like it was from LIttle House on the Prairie. I wondered how far I could push this Laura Ingalls look in my life.

Ready for my grade 8 graduation ceremony. I am standing between my Mom and Dad.

I sent Russell a picture from the fitting room. Lets just say he was not in favor. At this point I can’t help but think something that makes me sound like my Nanny. She used to work at the Bay in Saskatoon, when she retired and still shopped there she always noticed something that could have been done better, the racks being too close together was her most frequent concern. Anyways, I looked at this dress and thought, “in my day this dress would never be put out for sale with all these wrinkles, don’t they have a steamer?” It might have looked a little more appealing minus the wrinkles. Anyways, Russell was relieved to hear I had not bought it.

At the next store we went to we had exceptionally friendly and eager help but it came in an unexpected way. I had a salesgirl ask us if we were in town for Agribition. That started a fun few minutes of conversation which included her swearing, alot, like in those few minutes the f word was used repeatedly, the sh word used and then right at the end she had a sentence that had both these words and the g d swear. My brain was processing the content of what she was saying, talking about agribition and black Friday in the same week, but it was also spinning as I asked myself, “did she really say that?”, “what if I was someone who was offended by this, how would this unfold?”, “why am I not offended by this?”, “how can she use such usually harsh words with so much smiling, they sound kinda nice”…… It was one of those moments that made me happy, being in the city, encountering people that are unique and kind, finding the unexpectedness of it funny.

Russ left Morgan at Agribition and joined Jill and I for the grad dress shopping. It was great. We had a very skilled and kind helper at NWL, Jill was having so much fun and had great options. She made a decision. We got it ordered. People who do their job so well and bring such a lovely human dynamic into it really make a difference in the world.

Jill and her sales woman.
This felt special. It was a grad dress meeting to discuss the top two or three options and give Jill time to make a decision. We don’t often get time alone away from the ranch with one of our kids. Jill is a delight. This cafe across from the dress store is expensive but so nice to experience.

Russ and Morgan had themselves a good day. Morgan bought himself a new rope and got to hang out with one of his friends who was showing cattle. They talked with lots of different people. Russell reported that he heard a few people whining about the masks, he commented that its alot better than last years Agribition (it was cancelled) and that ended the whining. On the way home Russ said to me, “I enjoyed agribition, but I missed you, there was stuff I would like to have shown you and talked about, like the manure spreader of my dreams, you should have seen it.” So much romance in that statement. Actually there is. Its wonderful to be valued and wanted but its comical (at least to me) when romance and manure merge in the same phrase.

Our trip home is not quite complete, we should pull in the yard in about 10 minutes, the trip home has been hard, sortv’e. Jill is, by necessity, part of an online group where people feel incredibly free to say things that are very hate filled. She has processed some of that with us. It is troubling. It leads me to feel more convinced than ever that we have to keep putting love and light and love and light and love and light into the world. I am thankful for my faith. In it there is instruction, reminder, inspiration and fuel to keep tackling the worlds troubles with love and a way to confess and start again when we don’t rise to the challenge.

Sweet and Salty

I want to tell you about my morning.  I tried to get up extra early to make a batch of fudge for Gina and get a care package ready. 

A friend of mine is driving to Victoria, leaving tomorrow and offered to take a box to Gina.  I was up early but not quite early enough so I landed into church 10 minutes late, however I was really happy with the care package.  Being late I didn’t have time to look over the bulletin to check out what was slated for hymns and stuff.  I really enjoyed the service.   A theme for worship came from the story of Esther, the phrase “for such a time as this” was well explored and I had new resolve to do what I feel called to do in this time.  There was a beautiful piece of music that really brought the message home.  So….I was feeling pretty centred when Susan announced the closing hymn.  At that point I believe my mask had the effect of turning off any censoring I was inclined to do.  I heard her announce it, I looked down at the bulletin to confirm that is what I heard and I said out loud, “well fuck.”  I swear too much.  I do.  I know it and I admit it.  I have not enough resolve to do much about it.  But looking back on this moment I have decided to have compassion on myself.  What information was held in that uttering? Those two words that missed the loop around my brain and came straight from my guts?  I think its something like this…. I am in the provincial territory of grief and I am on a calm lake but there is word of a storm brewing.  That hymn equated to someone rocking my boat.  It was so surprising.  I have decided to talk about it because maybe its valuable for people who find words easy to document the journey of grief.  A friend of mine is in a similar boat, except that having lost a child his lake is hardly ever calm, but from that boat that rocks to and fro and splashes him all the time, he writes back to the rest of us on shore to say, “this is what its like”.  I find him brave.  So, here are some words, maybe sent to those on other lakes in the province of grief, is this what its like for you too?

The hymn was VU #639, it will forever be a legendary number in my mind, because back when I was a brand new minister I would go over to our organist’s house for visits.  We might have been at the care home for a service and land back at her place for tea and some ultra delicious baking.  Her name was Mae and she was a profoundly good musician.  Invariably we would end up in her music room, she would search a song from her memory and see if I could sing it.  She had memorized several of the new hymns in our then new hymn book before macular degeneration affected her. Number 639 was one of them.  She loved it.  It was peppy and she rocked it, every time.  It is called “One More Step Along the World I Go” and the repeating line is “and its from the old I travel to the new, keep me travelling along with you.”    I have always loved being with older people, I love tea and baking, I love music and I needed a Grandma presence in my life.  My times with Mae as co-worship leaders at the care home, with the debrief after, were precious to me.  Mae passed away maybe 10 years ago now.  It was darn hard.  I believe, if I remember right, that I sang that song at her funeral.    I have sung it in church many times since Mae passed.  I ALWAYS think of her but never before have I been prompted to swear. 

Mae, Gina and I at a special occasion.

It turns out my body is pretty smart.  I am most definitely in the territory of grief and there is a storm brewing and I maybe inherently know that I can hardly tolerate any rocking of the boat with that storm on the horizon.   If I had let myself finish the sentence maybe I would have said, “oh fuck, here it comes, I’m going under.”  I think what my heart and guts were keeping track of was what my brain had been working on that morning.  I made fudge today.  I did so knowing it was the exact recipe I made exactly one year ago today when I was helping Mom and she wanted to make a gift for my niece who was being confirmed at Church. 

I documented Mom as the main character in “when you are a Kyle, fudge is a love language” fall episode of 2020 with lots of pictures. This one is delish looking.

I was wearing my Mom’s robe as I cooked, not because I was wallowing in my memories but because I wear it every day, it is so perfectly comfortable.   I have so many pictures of her in it though.

Fudge making for one we love, the fall 2021 episode.

I smelled my Mom’s perfume in the house randomly this week.  So did one of the kids.  Many anniversary days are coming up in the next few weeks.  I think I am working hard in my mind to manage the implications of just everything.  As I headed off to church today I was surprised at how well I was doing.  Then that hymn.  Here is the thing that got me through.  First, I still love the song, so I just threw myself into it.  Second, it was funny.  I am an ordained minister and I was definitely misbehaving by uttering such words in church.  I don’t get rebellious very often so I was enjoying being bad with no chance of being caught.  (Until I made this confession anyways.)  There are some good side effects of masks! 

What do I take from all this?

-I think I understand just a little bit better why it is that people avoid church sometimes.  Some of our big moments happen within those four walls.  Some of the music gets connected to our most joyful and painful times and then random connections happen too and it just gets to be a lot, especially when we don’t know what will trip us up and when.

-The truth is always going to show itself. 

-There are life preservers on board any boat, at least there should be.  Is humor one of them?  I think it was for me today.

-Contrary to what many people have told me, God does not use lightening bolts in church to discipline people.  I said that four letter word and it appears I am okay.  Instead, I was led to be curious about myself and compassionate with myself. If I can keep that up I think I might just get through this.