Monthly Archives: January 2016

Hello From Cuba!

For the first time in our lives, my husband and I have taken separate vacations. He’d been longing for Havana. I really, really wanted to stay in Canada. So that’s what we did. I visited Calgary, and he began his grand adventure of a holiday on the cheap in Cuba. Though, not so cheap anymore. However.

I never realized how uncertain I’d feel about him on his own, so far away. Would he get lost? Robbed? Lose his passport? Goof around with the wrong government official and end up in prison? Anything seemed possible. My anxious texts became appropriate for a kid at camp. Are the Cubans nice? Are you making friends?  Mother stuff. Or wife stuff, if you’ve put in enough time.

He can only text  me, because we are not rich enough for the other kind of plan. And Clarence is, to put it politely, a little bizarre in his linguistics. His texts look like infomercials written by people who don’t speak English. Lots of happy faces and other emoji s. The first few days, he kept repeating, HELLO! IS ANYONE THERE! Like he was stranded on the moon.


It’s like he’s shouting, but with a strong accent and an inability to find the right words. The girls and I puzzled over each message like explorers deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. We decided that it was raining a lot, and he was taking dancing lessons. And taxis.

Our daughter Michelle has joined him for his last week. It will be interesting to hear the news from her perspective. I’m not sure we’ll do the separate vacation thing again, but as long as he had fun, that’s the main thing. If not, I’ll be having a word with his camp Councillor.

Are you There, God? It’s Me, Judy

There are times when the voice on the other end of the God line seems  faint. Are you there, I ask, and my voice wavers like a child left  alone in a dark basement. On my last trip to Calgary, I experienced a perfect storm of events that had me writing my own codicil to the Book of Lamentations. Woe was me.

I had decided to catch a bus to Saskatoon, then fly the rest of the way. On the way to the depot, I forgot my driver’s license and had to rush home to get it. Or, I should say, Gerry Clark had to rush me home, thereby making him late for work. In Prince Albert, I left my water bottle on the bus, which wouldn’t be a big deal except it belonged to my late mother. Which made me feel like I’d left her on the bus.

In Saskatoon, I flagged down a taxi, reaching the airport in record time, only to discover I’d left my luggage at the bus depot. Fortunately, there was time to go back and retrieve it. It was only when I was boarding the plane that I realized I felt very ill.

Food poisoning ill. My stomach had a dragon in it, composed of a bad chicken sandwich and the feeling that I’d never make the seventy-five minute flight without throwing up. To compound the matter, I was sitting against the window, breaking my long standing code of always taking an aisle seat. As I watched in amazement, a grizzly bear sized young man took the seat next to me.

As it turned out, that was a good thing. Extremely nice, ruggedly handsome, he was willing to chat about many things, and ignore the fact that I was ready to barf all over him at a moment’s notice. I held on until I reached my daughter’s house, where I proceeded to act like the little girl in ‘The Exorcist.’ Lots of projectile vomiting and enough body spasms to freak out the bravest priest.

It is in these dire times that I seek God like a hound catching a scent. In good times, for so many of us, our faith becomes smug. We push it to the back of our minds.  It takes a bad day to make us really count our blessings. To appreciate all the good things we ordinarily take for granted. Like traveling without forgetting things. Or feeling well. Not having the car break down. No unexpected bills arriving in the mail.

On those days when the sun shines and we feel like the best versions of ourselves, we look back to the bad times and feel grateful. Because in that moment, on that day, all is well. We recognize the blessing, even if it’s temporary. On those days when it seems that no one is on the other end of the line, appreciating moments of grace can bring us peace.  We don’t know what lies ahead. But when we appreciate having it good, it gives us strength for all the rest.

It’s a Cinch

It’s a new year. It’s winter. You’d think I’d be done with bugs. Not so. In the fall, not wanting to say goodbye to two beautiful tropical trees, I brought them inside. Yes, I had small bugs flying around. That’s to be expected. This isn’t my first time at the bug rodeo.

But yesterday was different. I was climbing into bed when I saw what appeared to be a line of dirt marching across my green shag mat. To my horror, I realized it was bugs. I had put out a cup of red wine as an offering to the fruit flies that came with my last bunch of bananas. But these things. They weren’t flying. They were on a different mission.

For one thing, they looked exactly like the cinch bugs on my lawn this summer. The wily (forgive the pun) buggers had hitched a ride on one tree. I hadn’t noticed them so much in the fall, but when I approached the plant last night, I was surrounded by a swarming cloud. It was bug Armageddon, and that tree was ground zero.

I hauled the culprit out to the deck and into the -20C weather. A perfect storm of bugs rose up and tried to make it back inside, but I quickly shut the door in their small insect faces. Then I took out my vacuum and found every tiny critter on the floor, upstairs and down. I spared the spiders, because we have a deal that when they take over the world, I’ll be considered a friend.

Obviously, the cinch bugs had been looking for grass. My fluffy mat must have seemed appropriate. So far, I haven’t seen any more of the ground crawlers. I’m hoping the few air born ones are fruit flies. But if you don’t see me around over the next few days, please call me. The cinch bugs may be launching a third wave. And I’m not sure they won’t win.