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Saturday, 27 March 2010

Going Home

Per and I in Gimli Summer 2007 Isn't this absolutely surreal?

I come from the prairies, from the "land of the big sky" as the Natives called it. The prairies of Canada are vast and seem endless. They stretch on for days with no apparent variation. Most people not from the prairies find them difficult to understand and they fail to appreciate the beauty of the space and sky. The violent thunder and lightening storms, the sun rises and sunsets that absolutely gush flaming shades of red, orange, pink, and purple all over the sky, the golden wheat fields, the heavy scent of the sun scorched earth in summer, the unbearable whiteness of winter when for months on end, you see nothing but the glare of sun on snow and pale green northern lights moving across the star filled sky at night. There is no where in the world like it except parts of Russia.

I need space around me, it's how I feel most comfortable. When I was 21, I spent six months living in Banff, Alberta, a mind blowing town/ national park in the Canadian Rockies. It's a fantastic, unbelievable place. I remember walking at night there, seeing the dark shapes of the mountains rising all around me and knowing in my head they were beautiful but feeling in my heart a slight tug of frustration because I couldn't see anything. You know, those cold, aloof, glorious, STUPID mountains weren't my view, they were blocking my view. :) (Now I realize this must sound like madness but thus are the inner workings of the mind of a person from ridiculously flat land.)

My parents now live in Gimli, Manitoba which isn't really the prairies but an interlake region. It has a statue of a large viking and a wonderful beach and about a million ice cream stands and boasts the largest Icelandic population outside of Iceland. For real. It's an artsy little place with live music on summer nights and diverse cultural paintings decorating the long pier. It's cool. It's where I go home to now when I go.

Now enough rambling for one day.:) I am thrilled to say I'm going home on April 30th for six weeks! I haven't been home for very close to three years now! I have seen my mom and sister in that time but it has been just shy of three years since I've seen my dad and my brothers. I need to be home in a friendly open place, I need to relax with people I love and miss, I need to let the tension of the last three years ease gently out of my bones! Three years ago we weren't even in a place where adoption had ever crossed our minds, now we've been through the entire process...having our hearts broken and pieced slowly back together...probably aged visibly...learned to trust and wait...found the courage to move well outside our own hopes, expectations, and comfort zones...journeyed to Sri Lanka and back we simply must introduce William to the rather wild, silly, and loving, Wilson side of the family who are eager to meet and squish and kiss him.

So...two years and ten months...yeah, it's time!!!:) *breathes a big sigh of relief*

Sean and I on the Gimli pier:

Gimli's enviable viking:

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back Really Wasn't All That Dramatic Actually

Do you know what I remember about September 24, 2009?

Waking up to a lovely fall morning, throwing on my old green hoodie (and something else I assume, though I don't recall what), putting the leash on Lily (our dog) to take her for her morning walk, not being able to put my shoe on without untying it first and that little struggle with my shoe just sent me over the edge, into a full blown fit of frustration. I kicked the cement wall in our entry way. I screamed (in vain I might add) at my red running shoe. I opened the door and slammed it again just to hear it rattle and bang. I threw my hands up to my head and began to gulp back big, noisy heaving sobs of irritation and probably more than a touch of self-pity as well. When I caught my breath I brushed the tears roughly off my face and threw a defiant challenge out into the still, sun-dappled air of our little entrance way: "How long are you going to make us wait God?! Huh??!! HOW LONG??" And then I started crying in earnest because it was going to be one of those days. I just knew it.

Then Friday, September 25th rolled around. I woke up and felt better, serene and calm. My husband was going to Aberdeen for a business trip for the weekend but that was alright. I was just reading over my Facebook status' for that day and they were:

6:40 am: Colleen feels happy that it's Friday and positive it's going to be a great weekend even though she is alone until Sunday...that just means lots of hot chocolate, cozy candles, and could be worse!;)

8:30 am: Colleen thinks someone must have been praying for her because she woke up this morning feeling wonderful, full of energy and confidence and the knowledge that everything is in God's hands! Thank you!:)

7:20pm: Colleen heard today that far away in Sri Lanka on June 22, her baby boy was born!

I don't recommend temper tantrums. I certainly don't recommend kicking cement walls. I absolutely don't recommend yelling at God as though He actually owes you an explanation but quite honestly, as far as answers to childish, defiant challenges go, that's really not too shabby.


September 24th, 2009: Feel like I can't take even one more day of uncertainty and waiting without going out of my mind and causing serious damage to myself, my shoe, my rattling front door, my sanity...

September 25th, 2009: God shakes His head, smiles, says "Oh Colleen, I've had this perfectly planned for so long...I haven't forgotten you...just you wait and see what happens today!"

Monday, 15 March 2010

A Blatant Disregard For Authority

The authority being me. The one blatantly disregarding it: William.

Yes, he's sweet. Yes, he has a smile that lights up the room but...BUT...
this rebel-child, this tiny soon to be nine months old... renegade, has somewhere learned a charming little trick while eating that I wouldn't mind nipping in the bud. I shovel a spoonful of porridge of dubious taste I admit, into his eagerly opened mouth and smile a goofy smile at him saying "mmmmm, yuuuuuuuummmmmmy" in an exaggerated voice and's where his behavior turns shocking I'm afraid, so at least you've been warned and won't faint dead away when you read this...he spits it backs out at me in all it's slobbery, messy glory. And as slimy brown threads of his meal hang from his mouth, and as I wipe them from my own face, he has the audacity to grin at me.

But that's not all.

I take a deep breath and give him a very stern look. Yes. I don't call myself "authority figure" for nothing! So I turn this stern look on William and say in a voice that I flatter myself brooks no argument "No!...nei!...stop!..." All the while I continue to look at him disapprovingly.

And to my surprise, he opens his mouth and shrieks with wild laughter! Forget my last post, this is the laughter of a maniac! Not just small giggles but peals of it, a devious grin wrinkling his face.

Now, I work in an international kindergarten with toddlers. I am used to disobedience on a large scale. :) But at the end of the day, as much as I always have loved the little ones I care for at The Children's House, they don't come home with me. I don't actually have to deal with their charmingly ill-mannered behavior anywhere but at work so it's all good.

But this is like bold, bold civil unrest in my own home. Unapologetic, I tell you. A mutiny of sorts. He has an angel on one shoulder and a wickedly grinning little devil on the other!

So...please...can anyone tell me...
How in the world do I go about reclaiming my dignity with gooey brown muck dripping off my face? Actually, how do you deal firmly with pesky yet absolutely lovable, baby boys without...laughing?! Is this impossible? Because if it isn't, I just want to know now and then I can give in quietly.


Saturday, 6 March 2010

The Old Woman On The Steps

"Who are you and what do you want?"

"I am nobody. I want nothing.
I sat here on this very spot. Years ago now. It was November and cold. Remember?
My bones ached in the chill air and my breath made clouds in front of my face.
You saw me. I know you did.
I saw you look and then look away. I made you uncomfortable.
I was hoping someone would see me.
As a person.
As someone's daughter. Someone's mother.
Someone worthy of, if not love, then worthy at least of a small, the smallest really, act of kindness. Charity.
Out of all the people walking up the steps, I saw you after all.
And when I saw you I hoped...
But you ducked your head and passed me without smiling.
It was November. It was so cold.
I needed to be seen. I thought I'd come to the right place. It was the only place I could think of where I might have had a hope.

But when nobody in the crowds filing by me would meet my eye,
I began to believe they didn't see me.
It was an uncanny sensation.
Like I didn't exist. Like I wasn't there.
I couldn't stay much longer.
I was dying of the cold.
Everything was grey and biting and the cathedral steps were hard.

By the time you came back out again, I was gone.
You saw God in the dark beauty of the cathedral. You saw God in the stones and the statues and the artwork on the walls.
Yet you could not see God in me.

Who am I?
Your sister. Your mother.
A chance to show love that you didn't take."

- Mainz, Germany -

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Sunshine Sketches of a Sri Lankan Spice Garden

(Pepper Tree)

I was absolutely smitten with the idea of visiting a Sri Lankan spice garden. You see I have delicious peppermint and fragrant thyme plants in my own small garden here in Norway and so naturally see myself as something of an expert on all things herbal.

Upon arriving at the spice garden, we stepped out of the car into the sweltering mid-day heat and were greeted with tiny, delicate glass cups containing only a sip or two of the most delicious vanilla, cinnamon, and spice tea. The taste was heavenly. Because I am an enthusiastic tea buyer, I asked eagerly if this was for sale. I was solemnly assured that everything was for sale and I would have a chance to peruse a large quantity of items at the end of the tour. Our guide was a very smooth, urbane man with a level, cool stare and he imparted his knowledge of various spices to us in such unsmiling, dispassionate manner that it was almost alarming causing me to overcompensate by smiling and nodding like I wasn't quite all there and exclaiming with amazement at everything he said. My husband said afterward that this guide had the manner of a mafia boss and he was correct. 

He showed us thick, fleshy aloe vera leaves and broke them open so we could smell the sharp scent, pineapples with spiky green leaves shooting up from the ground, clove, sandalwood, pepper and most fascinating due to where we were, curry leaf trees and much more. Everything was very fragrant and had fascinating, unexpected uses. It was a beautiful place.

After we had been shown the gardens, we sat down and a couple of men came to demonstrate the uses of each plant, herb, and spice while our guide issued grim- sounding instructions and stood off to the side with his arms crossed in front of him. After this flurry of description, we received a face and neck massage. We didn't really have much choice about it actually...they didn't ask us if we wanted a massage, we were just suddenly getting one, being manhandled if you will, whether we liked it or not and call me crazy, but I did not. I like being asked before people touch me and rub oils into my skin so pungent, that even with three long showers don't come out...kind of weird, I know. Alas, gentle, yet very insistent forcefulness was the name of the game here and I was a poor player when it came to finding the courage it would take to resist such persistence.  I found this entire segment of the tour bewildering that when the time came to look in the shop in which a wealth of very expensive healing and beautifying lotions, creams, and medicines were sold, I was so overwhelmed and slightly flustered and quite honestly, intimidated, by our unflinchingly smooth guide that I bought...of all removal lotion.

My goodness, of all the things I don't need! Why did I not just buy a little bag of the vanilla spice tea I enjoyed so much? I'll never know for sure, I'm afraid. All I can say is I wasn't myself really when I pulled it off the shelf at random, paid an outrageous price and tried to explain in my most forceful voice to our disapproving guide that no, I really didn't want to spend several hundred dollars more on their remedies, smiled shakily like I'd been through a war and turned to Per and whispered "Let's get out of here!"

So we made our escape through sandy, winding paths with the scent of the spices hanging in the tropical air all around us to the air conditioned car and onto the beautiful city of Kandy...

Monday, 1 March 2010

Be Careful What You Pray For...

This is lent, a traditional period of fasting, restraint, contemplation, prayer, and charity.

One area that I really seem to struggle with in my daily life, in almost every situation, is pride so I have been focusing more effort and prayer on becoming more humble. But humility is so difficult because probably more than anything else, it absolutely has no place in human nature or in the world we live in for that matter. Humility isn't respected, sought after, encouraged or desired. Self promotion is.

So I have been praying for help in this area. Even in church yesterday, before communion, I again asked for help in being more humble. I was the last one in the line walking up to receive communion and my thoughts which had been so noble and earnest only moments before began to wander...I wonder if these boots go with this skirt...yeah I think they do...they're black after all and black goes with most things...they're kind of nice boots actually...come to think of it, everything about me is kind of fact you know, I think I probably look pretty good today...yeah...

Then it was my turn to receive communion and as I was walking back to my seat my thoughts wandered yet, let's see if I can walk like I'm on a runway...that's a good idea! foot in front of the other...oh yeah I have definitely missed my true calling...what am I doing working in a kindergarten when I could be "Colleen, Supermodel Extraordinaire"?... (Ok, perhaps this isn't exactly what my thoughts were but you get the general idea.:)

Ok, what is wrong with me?! Honestly! Why can't I focus?! And no, this isn't humble-talk now, this is sheer exasperation at the idiotic musings of my mind!:)

So on the way home I remembered I needed milk so I asked Per to stop and I ran in to the little grocery shop to grab some. When I came back to the car, Per was smiling and he said "You have a big hole right in the back of your skirt you know." I was mortified! Simply mortified. "What?! I do?! How long has it been there? Was it there in church too? Oh my goodness!! Noooo!"

And there went my daydreams of looking like some suave, graceful supermodel extraordinaire. Really, they were gone just that quickly.

Maybe this is an example of God's sense of humor. Or of Him not answering a prayer exactly the way we envision. (I had kind of envisioned that I would become more humble and everyone would notice and remark upon my saintly manner quietly among themselves with a sort of reverent awe.;)

Whatever the case, for at least the remainder of yesterday, my embarrassment certainly assured that I was more humble.:)

Ahhh, the spirit is so willing but the flesh is so weak...