Well, whatever I am, I'm also the featured writer in the online edition of the church's newsletter, will also be in this Sunday's printed order of service, and apparently also somewhere on the church's website. This was the sekrit project I was asked to create, to write around 200 (I nudged that number up) words about ANYTHING having to do with my involvement in the church. With about 36 hours' notice. Oh, sure, I said. NO problem.

Ha! As if. First, I had to try to figure out the angle, and how I could make it attractive for others to WANT to volunteer. After a few false starts (where I just deleted anything I'd typed), I finally figured it out ... and sent it in by Wednesday evening, about 12 hours early. Then I waited ... and worried ... whether what I wrote would be considered too outrageous. But I was safe, and even complimented by the communications director. Phew. The article was just released and I can tell there are some church people around with a wacky sense of humour, as they used my smirking retirement party picture from 2006.

Okay, blondie, breathe ::practises IN-OUT-IN-OUT:: and tell us about the rest of your day. Well, the best thing is that I got to sleep in until 7:22. I managed to finish reading the "Murdoch" book. I was surprised that he had sex in it - but then I was late to the show and didn't know what kinds of experiences he'd had before Julia (whom I'd expected to have taken the lead after they married). Right now, I'm about to start on the second book, as my iPad had run out of juice.

I was supposed to do chores (minimum of sorting and rearranging my cleaning supplies under the vanity). But, nooooooo, yowled the pain, especially in my feet. Thou shalt not clean today. And, speaking of yowling, I was so relieved when Grumpy deigned to come in when I called. It had been another cool day. Weird, weird summer. I also dozed off again and dreamt about Grumpy and dog-like behaviour in a "Murdoch" scenario. Okay, enough dreaming for me.

Beyond the usual news and games shows, I had MacGyver on in the background while doing nothing. And THAT was the sum and substance of my day. ::crosses fingers for less pain tomorrow::
Yay also for the cats letting me sleep in until around 9:30. That was most gracious of them. I had an oddly discombobulated day. No pressure to do stuff. Finally got in the shower after 2:00 and exited with no intent to style my hair. Yup, no product (as I'm getting my hair coloured tomorrow morning).

Church-John finally gave me a pickup time of 6:30. It was another hot, sunny day which I enjoyed briefly as I sat waiting for him. Oh, look. Our mutual friend was in the car, having returned from a couple years' visit to Taiwan. We were among the first to arrive at church and sat in the first row of desks (the meeting was in our LGBT high school in the basement).

The proposed pastor was introduced to us after we heard about the selection process. He spoke for a while, then entertained questions from a large-ish audience. After that, there were refreshments at which time people could approach him. As I had my walker and the desks were arranged in a square, I didn't even try. C-J brought me a coke and a couple pieces of baked goods. But, after that, as we were still there, I got to meet Jeff for myself. I reminded him that I'd friended him on FB and what I do best in my volunteering. Naturally, I'm hoping the vote on Sunday will confirm his election by an overwhelming majority. ::crosses fingers::

Anyway, I was happy to be home (later than expected) and safely escorted inside by c-J. Now I really should think about bed. ::thinks about bed:: Yes, I am silly. A lot. Also having lovely thoughts of the harbour boat tour as Brian confirmed he bought my ticket, so we're all set for an hour of fun. Let's end the day with another yay!
The symmetry and synchronicity is spectacular. So, what's the what? Well, I received an e-mail from Brent's exec. assistant saying they'd like to honour me this coming Sunday for my devoted service summaries as Volunteer of the Week. It's the second time I've been so honoured (the first time two decades ago for running the Information Centre - as well as receiving a formal annual award for that function). What a coincidence that they chose the same week as my 26th Anniversary of becoming a member. Anyway, I'm just tickled pink. I guess I'll have to curl my hair on Saturday night and wear something pretty. Yes, I can still be vain.

Would have liked to have had another hour of sleep, but woke up at 8:00. Watched last night's N.C.I.S. Nola in the morning. Semi-dozed in the afternoon. I think I should get investigative credit for solving tonight's N.C.I.S. early in the show. I couldn't really get into Bull tonight because it involved huge gaming tournaments. So not interested. Anyway, I want to catch up with the rest of the world before bed, so I'll just press Post and skedaddle off ... with a smile.
Welcome to aggravation central. So I figured out the battery to the fireplace must be shot in the remote. I found a spare (bought by church-John when he gave me the fireplace) and replaced it. Wah. Where's the click? No click. ::pouts:: So I guess I'll have to bring the remote to church to ask if I inserted it correctly?

At least on the food front I was finally served. The meals arrived around 11:30 and I had pork with stuffing (that included raisins!) for lunch.

Finally watched last night's Bull while awake and was shocked to see how much of it I'd missed yesterday. Also, awwwww. In the evening, stumbled through a less-than-exciting Dragon's Den holiday special. Yawn.

Finally received a formal request regarding my running the volunteer registration on Christmas Eve and responded that I wouldn't be attending, primarily due to my health. Hey, they don't need to know it's also mental health.

Bed is serenading me with lullabies. I need one, stat. And I have to wake up early to book rides. No fun. So it's off to bed I go.
Posting them here so I can remind myself.

Mentioned to church-John this morning that I'm seriously considering the following:
1- NOT attending the Christmas Eve service as it's lost some of its lustre over the years. Even (or especially) when I was with M, we'd only attended one year (2002?) - and it had been a while since I'd attended before then, especially when I could no longer volunteer as a combined Communion server and Usher but was still busy coordinating the Christmas Day dinner at church. I wasn't too thrilled last year to be seated way too far back (for me) in the Orchestra section, without a large-print program which meant I couldn't even follow the carol lyrics, and my seatmate was a floor Captain so she was away from her seat for most of the service. Certainly didn't promote the warm fuzzies inside, though I did feel appreciated as the Registrar of all volunteers. However it had been a lovely gesture for c-J to drive down from his home just to be able to get me home safely.

2- NOT attending the Christmas Day dinner at church. Now this is a big deal. I'd continued attending (actually being in charge) since 1991, whether or not I was in a relationship. Everything ended when I was heartbroken to experience a theft in the church somewhere during the night between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (I believe it was in 2001). The thieves made off with my special red lace tablecloths, boxes of fancy Christmas crackers, and some other things, leaving me to scramble to try to decorate the tables with odds and ends. For the past several years, the day (along with Thanksgiving Day in October) has been one of the set celebrations for me and my chosen sisters Jan and RS, so I'm sure they'll be disappointed to hear that I'm not attending. But, then, c-J said I might probably be much happier to stay at home, all comfy and cozy in front of the fireplace without having to rush about, relying on my rides provider to get me there and hoping a kind soul might get me home safely. Huh. I just noticed I'd used "get me home safely" twice. No, no anxiety there, right?

Oh, my. I think I just did a whole bunch of growing up with these two decisions. I may as well continue the absentee option by not attending the regular morning service on Christmas Day. I know, I know. Too. Much. Church. By staying home, I can still watch the webcast and write my review, so I will have continued to participate and support it in my own unique way. Anyway, it feels funny to have arrived at these decisions exactly 5 weeks before Christmas Day. Then, again, I always did like tidy patterns.
Up at 5:08, 32 minutes before the alarm but the benefit was I didn't have to hear the blasted alarm. But, baby, it's cold outside. That meant turtleneck sweater, boots and Irish cape. I feel ridiculous. Sigh. My ride came at 9:15 and whisked me off directly to church where I socialized with my friends in the Café until it was time for the service. It was what I called a subdued Sunday. There were some things that were ethereal (the choir singing a piece that had some connection to Auschwitz) and soothingly warm (my fave cellist improvising as usual), but I think my poor brain was just too frozen.

It took a while for the organizers of the volunteer appreciation event to get their act together, so we were just hanging around (and I was getting hungrier by the minute). And, then, when they started, they just had to spend more time on speeches, a bonding exercise, a sing-a-long(!), and handing out crappy-looking certificates (sigh) before we could get food. Oh, wait. There's no place to sit!!??!! So they dragged rows of chairs into the centre of the social hall, expecting people to put full paper plates on their laps. ::rolls eyes:: Church-John went up to get food for both of us and we sat at the end of the dessert table (as if anyone would dare to tell moi to move). The food was of a good quality (especially the egg salad wraps). C-J and I spoke to a couple of people, found out the Spanish service IS webcast, but otherwise remained on the periphery. And, then, we left. I know, I know. What a letdown.

Got in after 3 to encounter SuM holding a totally shorn Diva. Oh, poor cold kitty. So SuM had to go off to the discount store to get the cat a wooly onesie! ::shakes head some more:: I was too wishy-washy to write my review immediately (also had Grumpy as company for a while), but did manage to post it by 6. Had hoped to watch MasterChef Canada but the stupid golf went 30 minutes overtime and then I dozed off during the cooking. Sigh (doing a lot of that today). Will try to rewatch on the network's site.

Both Ash and RS didn't make it to church. Well, they didn't miss much. Now I have to wonder whether I should even try to approach the two guys (c-J wondered whether it had been such a poor execution because it was guys) and diplomatically suggest some logistical improvements. Anyway, I'm glad all I have to look forward to for tomorrow is relaxing. I do like the sound of that!
Oh, what a joy. I figure I must have been even more exhausted from the travel yesterday than is normal for me. I went to bed a few minutes before midnight and didn't wake up until AFTER 8:30. It felt amazing. As I was stumbling about in the dark (the beauty of blinds), I was shocked to find a fluffy white cloud (aka Diva) sleeping on a dining chair. Hmmm. Secret incursion by at least one cat. She ended up spending most of the day with me.

Another terrific thing is that the communications director at church, acting as sysadmin of the worship planning platform, managed to restore my ability to use my volunteer account. He fixed my name and that seemed to unlock all the features. What a ::giggles:: blessed relief. He got a dolphin squeal and many thanks from me.

Beyond that, I was overcome by the molasses of lassitude (ooh, I like the repeated sound of the "ss"). Didn't call the drugstore for my prescriptions. Bad blonde! Didn't do anything else either. Which means I'll have to order my groceries tomorrow, as I don't trust myself tonight. Would probably forget half my shopping list. So I think I'm just going to pour myself a Perrier and read for a while. And hope for more healing sleep. Nighty-night, all.
The only satisfying thing was the mathematical purity of my wakeup time: 8:24. I kinda like it.

The worst thing I did today, considering the absence of first-run TV, was to spend too many hours reading a Very. Bad. Fic. that was - unfortunately - compelling despite its badness.

And that led me to examine my sparse stats for 2015. Sigh. I wrote two entertaining stories for [community profile] romancingmcshep and am really looking forward to writing at least two more for this February just as soon as all the prompts are revealed. However, those fics only used up 8,592 words of my brain. That was very depressing. If it weren't for the fact that I produced a smidge shy of 16K words in total covering my church service reviews, I would have really been depressed. But at least I was producing something with a socially redeeming value! And I know that I've invented a unique role for myself within the church, so I'm proud of myself. Okay, okay ... I'm making myself feel a bit better. Must remain positive that there are still ideas in my brain that are waiting to be released.

Watched my game shows and was sad to see the latest Jeopardy! champ get beaten. And I had a couple of naps, too. OTOH, if my body had to order me to nap, I guess I needed them. So I accede. But I'll be hoping for a better day tomorrow (as it begins to warm up again).
Naturally, you must know I'm describing my Sunday, even if I was forced (forced, I tell you) to wear socks and closed-toe shoes (because I wasn't in the mood to walk through cold dew ::shudders::) and a beret (because I didn't want to gum up my hair with product prior to colouring). My driver was early, but so was I and soon he was taking me on a sightseeing trip on a sunny morning. Even with the extra time to pick up another passenger, I still arrived at church before 9:45.

Chatted with loads of people (I especially like including all the names in my FB summaries). Ashley texted both church-John and me, sending her regrets. So we gave her part of the pew away! I was thrilled NOT to be on duty today. Why? Because the music director had scheduled my absolutely favest hymn (if you discount the Lord's Prayer), namely "When Peace Like A River" as the second Communion hymn. I got to belt it out, only pausing a few seconds when receiving Communion! C-J had brought me the batteries and light bulbs he'd purchased and also asked whether I need a dish drainer and tray, because he has one he doesn't need. Why do I get the impression he's cleaning up his place ONLY by giving away his extra clutter. ::chuckles but accepts good fortune::

My cab was early and the driver was playing my fave classical music station for a very serene ride home. When I got in, I scurried over to my computer to write something appropriate, different, captivating. Talk about putting pressure on myself. After I posted (and finished my laundry), I went out onto the back deck to capture the last of the sun's rays. I didn't know Ce-Ce had also been out, but she was on her hind legs, leaning against the screen door, telling me, "In, Auntie'lenka, in," so I let her in. But Diva, oh Diva. She'd been lounging when I'd come home and was so not interested in coming in. We both relaxed, listening to the tinkling wind chimes, for nearly an hour. Then I propelled her at the door and, thankfully, she accepted my suggestion. Oy. Cats.

I was surprised to see the response my FB post had generated. One of my friends, a clergy candidate, asked if she could share. Hee. Normally, people don't ask. I also found out that I and my weekly summaries had been a topic of conversation at the Town Hall Meeting held immediately after the service, ostensibly for the purpose of discussing Brent's transition to retirement. As our fave Sulu actor would say, "Oh, myyy." Indeed. And I'm thrilled to have found one small way in which i can contribute in my own unique manner (hmm, sorta goes with the subject of today's Lesson).

Enjoyed my dinner of baked chicken and 'taters with butter, along with a Bloody Caesar. Many of my friends tried photographing the lunar eclipse, etc., but stupid clouds spoiled their plans. Still, I hope someone may have captured the action.
Had a very lazy day after waking up shortly before 10. Really needed the sleep. Had no idea what I was going to wear tonight as I most certainly did not want to bring my coat. I believe the temp got up to 70 with lots of sun and a good breeze. I finally chose to wear a black turtleneck under my capelet along with a bronze-gold-black patterned scarf, just for a different colour palette. I was picked up at 4:30 and the driver said he was picking up a woman downtown. Which turned out to be a man whom I didn't really know, but he's a divinity student who has preached at least once (and I saw him serving communion last month).

Arrived really early (we weren't fashionably late, we were sensibly early). Turned out to be "the" thing to do when they set the food out. The Holy Rollers had a reunion at one of the only two large sit-down tables (everything else was bar height). The bar-style tables were where they'd arranged the yummies. At one table, I picked up crudités (including asparagus and raw green beans) with dip. At another, tortilla chips with a delish spinach dip and tomato salsa. At yet another, sliced toasted baguette, aged cheddar cheese, pickles, olives, pickled onions, three types of meats including prosciutto, and horseradish sauce (which someone had spread on the baguette, making it an unexpected WOW experience for me). With the small saucers and tastes, it felt like having tapas. Along with the foodies, we received a bar ticket each. After seeing what one friend was drinking, I chose a Mill Street Organic beer. Not a beer drinker, but I liked it. The organizer had also lugged a suitcase of dime-store candy and poured it in bowls from which we could fill Chinese-style paper takeout cartons. I had lots of chewy treats when I got home.

Bumped into lots of people, many of whom I recognized; but there were some whom I'd never seen before and one whom I didn't recognize in his ::coughs:: civilian attire. Brent spoke for a short time (and, darn it, he made me cry even though it wasn't Sunday) about how our collective volunteer tasks create a church that offers a vast resource of hope and support. I had a chance to tell Brent how his words had affected me (and how I've had discussions with strangers about the fact that we welcome everyone - including Atheists - without any subversive ideology to convert! I got a pat on the back for that.

One woman was taking photographs for a project about the faces of love. Jan and RS wanted the Holy Rollers to get one taken together, but I felt tired and frumpy and just not in the mood to have one taken (though I might be in some candid shots). When people began clearing out, I found church-John and we didn't stay much longer. He went to retrieve the car while I sat at the outdoor patio with Jan and RS (who'd escaped the heat and noise). John and I somehow got onto the topic of death and funerals and what we'd want to have with ours. Though I told him he had to stay alive as long as I do, because it's his function in life to stuff my walker in the back seat and to drive me home!!! Even worse, when we got to my place, we had to weave around two cars and stumble all the way down the driveway and into the garden. But, finally, I got the walker parked and managed to lurch up the steps. Luckily, the dogs didn't make a huge racket.

Okay, time to wash off the makeup and watch the shows I recorded: Peppa Pig, and my two game shows. And then blissful sleep. Yay!
Saturday: a day with NO expectations, other than getting chores done. I did a couple of loads of laundry, sent an e-mail off to two worship team leaders at church and am just about to finish repairing a huge rip in my black leggings. Why? Well, because the X number of pairs I have in the closet are hiding. Insubordinate things!

I had the pleasure of the company of both cats, either singly or together, for most of the day while SuM was out gallivanting. Had a discussion about my reticence to let Grumpy out, considering how impossible he was in the rain a week ago, both crying to be let in but refusing to come to the door. ::throws hands up in the air:: Now that the couch is all cleared off, I can actually tell when Grumpy is curled up on it. [No such problem with Diva, as her white fur is a stark contrast to both my black comforter and my red sheets.]

Finally watched this week's The Blacklist. Found it compelling and fascinating. Well, the part with Elizabeth, at least. The part with government coverups and who is in whose pocket ... yuck.

Anyway, I'd better get back to the sewing. I feel quite accomplished to have threaded my needle TWICE (because I couldn't be bothered to find the magic needle threader). Hi-ho, hi-ho, back to work I go.
Yes, it's damn cold. In Fahrenheit (my preferred gauge), Mars was 27. TO was MINUS 40 (that's including windchill). Just confirmed that -40 is the same on both scales. Luckily, with SuM home today, I didn't have to worry about locking up, though my bus was a titch late. Even worse, when I'd been loaded onto it, it decided to stall (something about the parking brake). So I sat in a desperately-trying-to-warm-up bus for 30 minutes waiting for a substitute bus to show up. At least I was the only emergency passenger. But, wait until you hear what happened to the second bus. As soon as the driver dropped me off, he told me it was wonky and he was taking it out of service. Oy. When I arrived at church, I was desperate to get warm.

Amazingly enough, there were many hardy souls who showed up. Church-John surprised me with a large hot chocolate! Well, by the time it got to me, it was "warm" chocolate. But very much appreciated. My friend Cory (along with his BFF) spoke about finding themselves, their purpose in life, and creating the Young Adult ministry. Even though it was very low key, I and all the other anointers/communion servers were the Angels of the Week. So it was quite apropos that I was on duty.

I was able to dawdle after church (a luxury), but then went out to see if my cab was there. It was, way in advance. So I was on my way home. When I got in after 1, SuM had just come back from shopping, so gave me my supplements (including blessed pain killers) and two crates of clementines. Even better, the total was $25 under budget! Leaves me more money for my holiday lunch tomorrow.

Had a lovely visit with Diva who made herself at home on top of my head while I was watching the news. Began watching MasterChef Canada but I guess the stress of the day had affected me, so I dozed off. Luckily, I'd taken the precaution of recording it. Right now, I'm mellowing out with my evening round of blessed pain killers, so I think I should be hitting my cozy bed, because I want to be sprightly at lunch tomorrow. Nighty-night, all.
Well, that's certainly a miracle. It's one reason why I've always preferred writing to extemporaneous speaking. Even if I did belong to a debate team all the way back in Grade 7 or 8. Ancient times.

So where did I exercise this new-found diplomacy? Well, I've had two dilemmas hanging over my head, having to do with two separate situations with people at church. One was a fellow anointer/server who - when giving me communion several weeks ago - used language that is unacceptable in our denomination. It's up to the receiver to bring the matter to the server's attention. But I kept putting it off until yesterday when we found ourselves alone in a corner after the service. I brought up the incident in question and she sounded surprised, saying that she never used that language, so she must have done it without thinking. Anyway, I handled it quite diplomatically and nobody's feelings were hurt. One down.

The second person was my Week 5 team leader. I haven't participated with the Week 5 people for a long time. Why? Well, it's because we have a food drive 4 times a year on the fifth Sunday. Where does that food end up? Oh, right in front of the altar rail where I normally serve ... so people can't get to me. It turned out that church-John, Cory, his friend and I were directed to her for both anointing and communion. And, afterward, when I was waiting for my driver to show up, we found ourselves alone as well. I told her regretfully why I had to resign from her group. Oddly enough, she'd forgotten that I already am on duty two Sundays a month. But I was really pleased that I'd done it in person instead of sending an e-mail. Two down and I'm done.

So, definite satisfaction to have communicated what I needed to in a straightforward but never callous manner.
Despite the treacherous, icy and slippery streets, it ended up being an amazing Sunday – yes, even more so than usual. I woke up at 5:21 and decided to stay up. I used the time to proofread my application and to do my eye makeup. My bus was about 20 minutes late picking me up and I was getting anxious (nothing new there). The driver indulged me in escorting me to the garden to get my walker. I slipped and slid even with its stability. I was so relieved to enter the Social Hall that was SO blissfully warm.

I always love the first Sunday of January as that is our traditional Baptism renewal day. I was on duty (always yay) and one of the people directed to me for anointing was Rev. Jo. Definitely yay. The last two customers were Ashley and church-John and, after I'd finished with them, Ashley and I rushed over to Brent together to get blessed and our foreheads wet. C-J declined getting sprinkled. Brent's Lesson was so appropriate for a time of renewal, of contemplation, of resolutions. The music, especially the ethereal Anthem, was fabulous.

I'd expected c-J to bring the printout with him but he said he hadn't done it yet. Sigh. He said he'd drop it over later. My ride home was a little late so I ended up being the goodbye person at the door. My driver lifted my walker up into the covered porch where it'll live over the winter months. When I got in, I found both cats exactly where I'd left them in the morning, in my suite. I figured it was one way to guarantee that Grumpy wouldn't try to escape (SuM mentioned he'd already done it once in the morning before she left for work). I just had to hide the champagne flutes so he wouldn't lie on top of them, lol (not). And make sure the comforter was the only exposed thing Diva might be sick on (though, obviously, hoping she wouldn't).

C-J's plans did not include having problems printing out the forms. Oh, great. Now is there a disconnect between Linux and Mac? Or some other glitch? So, he said he'll drive to the nearest gov't service centre to pick up a hard copy. That is incredibly sweet of him. We'd done all of our communication via text which was really hard on my eyes and my fingers. As I thought he'd be coming over, I didn't bother changing and am still wearing my outfit except for the boots. Okay, blondie, you can put on your nightie and velour.

Okay, I think I can consider going to bed. But I know I won't be doing anything tomorrow (okay, okay, I might dust). I deserve to pamper myself for having survived the non-blonde-friendly winter streets. One hot paraffin wax treatment is definitely on the agenda!
What a relief that my driver was only a few minutes late as I sat out on the covered porch. He escorted me as I stumbled down the steps while tripping over the hem of the gown that – now that I'm shorter than when I got it – is dangerously long. Sigh. He was a sweetheart and dropped me off at the Artists' Entrance where I was admitted to the backstage area by a guard – in white tie! Well, I'm impressed. Because I was dressed in dramatic black and black, he assumed I was singing. But I told him what my real function was.

There were already several volunteers hanging around, so I joined them and we just chatted. I'd brought my joke book to read as I still had about two hours until the sign-in sheets would be provided. But, luckily, we all entertained ourselves. Met the mother of one of the deacons. She was really nice. Finally, it was time for a flurry of activity. I stayed at my post until 10, then moved into the hall to find my seat. I was upset that no large-print order of service had been prepared, so the volunteer coordinator scrounged up a stage manager copy (that included what EVERYONE including Brent was saying). Wow. I'm holding on to it. My seat was perfect, in the second row on the inner aisle. When people stood up to sing carols, I could still see the stage.

I did my best singing the carols, even though my voice is now tightening up a couple of notes lower. Sigh. But, still, it meant a lot to me that I could participate. The church service itself was an unusual combination of emotional and serene. To my delight, the scripture readings were the rewritten words for our time in a conversation between two people. The message was continued in Brent's lesson about how many marginalized people/groups there are for whom there is no room at the inn. Brent's lesson was both hard-hitting and drawing something from the depths of what I hope is the untapped well of compassion within all of us. The soloists were also less flashy or glitzy and the music more restrained. All in all, it was a wonderful example of how our church has adapted to moving into the mainstream. And, then, suddenly (too quickly), it was all over for yet another year. I waited for church-John to pick me up and found out he'd actually fallen and hurt his elbow, as he hadn't seen a step while being on duty. Ack, c-J. I'm the klutzy one, remember. But even I managed to get up the steps to receive communion from one of my dearest friends (who is usually my treasured throne-bearer when I'm on duty). When we were in the lobby, I insisted on taking the opportunity to hug Brent, and said I'd be sending him an e-mail (about the extraordinary evolution of how we DO church and how our message is being spread much more widely). Then, c-J, a mutual friend and I were on our way in the quiet and dark (and no bad weather which was wonderful as I'd dispensed with wearing a coat). And, then, I was home at 1:00 a.m. C-J helped me stumble up the steps, where it turned out that everybody was still up and awake.

As is customary, I just couldn't get to sleep immediately. Well, I did need to scrub the makeup off and get out of my pushup bra. I glanced at my prezzies, but decided to forego my tradition of opening just one present the night before (even though it was already after midnight). I vegged for a while. Opened a single serving of smoked salmon and ate it just like that, holding it in my left hand! Nom. Yes, yes, I'll do the shallots, sweet butter and bread another day. Eventually, I couldn't stay up any later and crept into bed just before 4:00. Yikes! Only good thing is that I hadn't had any alcohol, so I shouldn't be in that bad a state in the morning. Ah, I have such faith.
What an amazing Sunday. The appearance of a gorgeous sun (not to mention temps that were "crisp" but not chilly) made it even better. Winter solstice? I laugh in your face. [Just don't retaliate, pls.]

When I got to church, Jan (who'd had a hip replacement) was back; and my sis RS was with her. Hey, sis? I don't recognize you with your hair so short! Even though the Advent Market was still going strong, there was NOTHING I wanted (and had only 6 bucks in my change purse). I almost laughed at the woman selling silk scarves. Oh, when I remember just how many silk scarves I had....

The service was truly stunning. Even with a hilarious, rolicking start as Linda, a serene but genial deacon, dressed as an ELF, did a Sunday Commercial for Christmas Day Dinner - along with her helpers, two elf puppets named Kevin and ... uh ... Kevin. I can't wait to watch her on the webcast. The highlight of the service was the dramatic reading by several people about the Magi. At the conclusion, I whispered "Wow". I wasn't the only one because Brent said that, after what we'd witnessed, he had no words to add ... other than "Wow. Amen". I was on duty and had several groups of 4-5 coming up to me for anointing, making things a little unstable for me. I seemed to be really wedged in between the flowers on the post to my left and the taller Advent candle wreath to my right. No wonder I was anxious about bumping into things or tripping. But none of that happened. Instead I snapped my fingers and arrived at a short but powerful Communion blessing. The Sunday miracle? With Brent not preaching, the service ended at noon. Wow. What a surprise. Church-John was asking some strange questions, such as what was I doing on Christmas Day in the evening for dinner. Uh ... c-J, I'm going to be at church and so stuffed I won't need dinner for a couple of days. Later on, I figured out he wanted to go out to dinner anyway, so I texted him, saying my schedule was very flexible (no kidding), so dinner may certainly be something to look forward to.

That left me with loads of time to deal with my volunteering for Christmas Eve. Alas, there was no ticket for me. It's at the hall. And the coordinator couldn't give me the signup sheets, so she'll have to e-mail them to me. But at least I got a look at them and they were in MY preferred format. Another lovely surprise before I left church was being given a Christmas gift that I hadn't expected to receive two years in a row. Hmmm. Some very thoughtful people around. It was a very welcome coincidence that, as soon as I was finished with the Christmas Eve stuff, my driver arrived - 15 minutes early. Yay! Yes, please.

When I arrived home, I was greeted by a yowling cat. Yes, Grumpy was on the front lawn, wanting to be let in. I chastised him, saying there was NO way I was going to climb up those stupid steps and that he should follow me into the garden. I did look back to see if he was coming. Thankfully, yes. So he preceded me into the house. SuM and I talked about changing schedules. It seems the descending hordes will be delayed by a couple of days. Hear my sigh of relief. SuM came over to borrow a tack (but took a nail) to affix a large calendar to her kitchen wall. I mentioned that I would really like to add my personality to the walls (because, naturally, my personality doesn't express itself in a hundred other ways, lol). I mentioned having the rubbing alcohol, but she said the walls were fairly clean, so thought I could omit that step. And then she offered to help me put the artwork up. Oh, yes, please! So, we're going to do that tomorrow. And, then, I can have more things that make this place home to me visible.

As soon as I got in, BOTH cats made themselves at home, Grumpy on the couch and Diva on the bed. They stayed for a few hours, while I listened to (mostly) soothing chamber music. However, the programmer must have some odd definition of "chamber" because, after my two-hour nap, I heard a very boisterous Schumann piano piece that definitely does NOT belong in the "chamber" category. Weird.

Another weird thing: I haven't watched any TV since getting in. I might still see if there's some cartoon on before taking myself and my screaming spine to bed. Oh, right. I haven't had my evening pills yet. Must do. Right. Now.
I think the only thing harmed today was two tomatoes, as I cut them and ate them with the gorgeously chunky blue cheese salad dressing. Extreme nom. Otherwise, I just vegged. Finally opened the Christmas card I'd been given at church yesterday ... from someone I don't know (except that it's possible she knows me). Also sent a long e-mail to the volunteer coordinator for Christmas Eve. No acknowledgement though.

In the evening, I watched the usual game shows and then the two-hour MasterChef Canada Christmas special. And then the disco 70s repeat epi of Castle.

Right now, I'm feeling discombobulated. Don't know whether to read or go to bed or ... I dunno. Okay, reading wins, but just for a little while. Well, I did say "slump". Siiiiiiiiigh.
Only I can wake up at palindromic times in the middle of the night. This time it was 4:24. I groaned and rolled over onto the side I should be lying on, namely the left (but which is mostly impossible in this bed because I run the risk of falling off); still, I shocked myself by falling asleep easily until the alarm at 6.

Because of the weird weather outside (snow drifts with a temp above 32F), I had to give myself lots of time to retrieve my walker. The back deck steps were treacherous and the grass a swamp, but I still managed. It felt so warm though gloomy (no sun). But I was a happy camper!

Only at MCCT could I experience the following: bumping into an old friend who said he'd just been going through photographs of the Pride float (M and) I had been on – obviously a lifetime ago. Then, church-John surprised Ashley and me with wee (really wee) gifties. Ashley got a little cat and I got an adorable piggy (I know: you are SO surprised, NOT!). I didn't get a close look at the cat, but the piggy is stuffed burlap with a wee string for hanging on a tree. I extended verbal invitations to both to visit me (one at a time) to celebrate not only Christmas but also their birthdays in the first week of January. Only problem: I can't afford to host them until the end of January. But, hey, I am trying.

More unexpected hilarity in a baptism. The baby had definite views of who should be baptising whom. She kept interfering with Brent, grabbing his glasses, playing with his face, etc. I'll really enjoy watching the webcast to get all the details.

Then things got serious. Brent asked us at the beginning of the service to talk amongst ourselves in groups of 2 or 3 to see whether there was anything we feared. So, naturally, Ashley and c-John and I teamed up. Would you believe that, despite all of the dissimilarities of our backgrounds, we all chose the same name (the PM who is doing his damndest to destroy Canada IMO). I even said that I'm at the point of being ashamed to be a Canadian. Yes, me!

Once we settled down, there was more seriousness. Brent's Lesson today (as well as the rewritten scripture for modern times) was about Herod and how he dealt with his fears. Yeah, because tyranny and brutality are the answer. /sarcasm. Even though he hadn't been a member of our congregation, communion was dedicated to Ruby's son Mike, whose funeral had been yesterday. As Ruby is a chosen "mom" to so many of us, it was a lovely gesture.

I'm thrilled that c-John reassured me that I'm on his "team" for getting me home after the Christmas Eve service. Yay! I also touched base with the volunteer coordinator. I'll have to send her many of my notes from last year so she can follow my suggestions. The only transportation up in the air is getting to the service and then the round trip to church for Christmas day dinner (which I also signed up for). I may have to rely on my rides provider (and keep my fingers crossed very tightly).

It was a pleasant change not to have to rush out for my ride. I sat on the corner and entertained many of my friends. But I didn't have to wait long until my cab came. I was home quickly and glad to be able to relax ... in the company of cats. Naturally, Diva made herself right at home on my bed. However, I had NO idea Grumpy had come downstairs as I was on my computer. It was only when I got up to retrieve something that I noticed a cat-loaf lying between the cookie tin and the wine glasses on TOP of my dining table! I picked him up, scolded him lightly and placed him next to Diva on the bed. I swear – this cat's personality is UNIQUE!

I mentioned my strange afternoon to SuM in the evening. I had to laugh when I heard she'd gone bicycle riding three days in a row. Oh, so that's what the narrow lines in the garden snow had been!

I'd hoped to have been able to watch tonight's Service of Lessons & Carols. I took a chance on the webcast and clicked on play Live. I had a picture but no sound. So I had to give up on that attempt. Anyway, I'm fading fast after a very satisfying day and should climb into my cozy bed with the expectations of having a different kind of palindromic sleep – one that extends well into the morning. Say 10:01. Hey, body, are you listening? Hmm. Isn't it the wrong season for crickets?
So, it seems that my real name e-mail was just stuffed so high that two important e-mails were way down, below the horizon. The first one was from the co-leader of the vision support group. No biggie, as we'd already spoken. But the other one was from the new volunteer coordinator. Last night, I'd been going through my archives to see when I'd begun my special volunteer role for the Christmas Eve service. I still hadn't found it. But, when I opened the e-mail, it was her FINAL instructions to ALL volunteers, advising they were to check in with ME (by name). Awww. So I sent her an e-mail, asking about two concessions related to both my reduced mobility and sight.

Today was a sparkly day outside as well. The temperatures were ABOVE zero (always terrific), but the sun was shining strongly, and reflecting quite nicely off the neighbour's snow-covered bushes. I think I just found the ONLY decent thing about winter's short days. I always had to draw the blinds during the summer when evening hit, because the angle of the sun would blind me indoors. But, now, there's just a soothing clarity and serenity to seeing the sky and trees. Well, as long as the sun IS shining.

Feeling confident, I tackled unhooking my automatic extension cord (currently only used for my computer desk lamp) from its socket beside the microwave. Tug? More like Ugh. Very stubborn. Then I unhooked the power bar from my computer octopus and started stabbing away in the darkness while down on my hands and knees. Finally I managed to stab the prongs into the CORRECT slots. Good thing, eh? Now I can switch the lights of the second tree very easily.

Watched the usual game shows in the evening and then tried to catch up with FB. Liblikas has been very disobedient today, more stubborn than usual. Sigh. Anyway, tomorrow, I think I'm going to try to arrange rides to the Christmas Eve service and back home. I think I have a couple of possibilities ... and that's even without advertising. In any case, I'm a really tired piggy, so off to bed I scamper.
Let's begin with goofy, shall we. When the alarm woke me up, I stumbled about in the dark with my arms extended (remember there are now obstacles aka packing boxes, etc.), trying to find the light switch. Couldn't find the closest one, so ended up turning the kitchen light on. Uh ... blondie, remember your lantern/flashlight that you purposely placed on the night table before you went to bed? I guess not. Oy.

I got to church bright and early as I was the only passenger on the bus. It was so lovely not seeing any icebanks along the streets. And wearing actual street shoes i/o clunky boots. I was on duty (as it was the 5th Sunday of the month).

Brent was there, on crutches and with a weird brace over his trousers. He wasn't robed (Rev. Deana presided), merely wearing his clerical shirt. And he sat in the congregation, just behind the piano (diagonally from me).

Imagine my shock when he was directed to my station for anointing. Yes, I know it's the luck of the draw, but it made my day to say a prayer and lay my hands on him. Mind you, I had some incredible experiences with other congregants today as well. So, already, my day's been made. But, wait. The universe had more in store for me when Brent and John came to ME for communion. Seriously, I was so overwhelmed with emotion that my respiration and pulse were elevated. I just about flew back to my pew afterwards.

A musical feature was having a drumming circle (with various sizes of drums Just. Like. Mine) led by (as church-John told me) the evening service drummer. He was a great leader! Alas, I couldn't stay to savour the experience as, when I got into the social hall, I heard my name being called out. Thinking it was a friend, I whirled around but didn't see anyone. Who was it? It was my cab driver who'd shown up early and had actually come inside the building. So, though my ride should have started at 12:30, instead I arrived home at 12:38. That made me happy.

After having some cereal and milk for lunch (trying to use up perishables), I managed to do a few more cartons. I'm just feeling overwhelmed (the bad kind, this time) by all the breakables lying around ... and knowing that I'll need to wrap them in paper, yadda, yadda. Sighs. The last carton I did was cheating. I took most of my framed pics and merely stuffed them standing upright into a carton, and smushed two decorator pillows so nothing was able to move. Obviously, no lid on that carton.

After that, I just vegged. My back hurts and my head is throbbing. Huh, both sides for a change. I'm so not looking forward to the fact that I'm running out of time. Right now, I have the fridge defrosting and, naturally, it's taking its sweet time. I've put the milk and butter in the cold storage room overnight.

Anyway, time for another pain pill, and then - ahhhh - bed.
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