Finding a Voice
Thursday, December 27, 2007
So, tomorrow marks the final passage into this new season in my arts career. Where are we going, Lord? Guess we'll find out ...
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Emmanuel ... our God is with us
not for the decorations,
not for the presents,
not for the snow,
not for the gatherings and special events
(though these can be very lovely).
I love Christmas ...
because every year I marvel more,
and more deeply:
God coming to be with us,
the Word taking on flesh
and living among us.
May you also marvel
at this gift
Monday, December 17, 2007
how big is Duval?
MAN: Where do you live?
ME: Duval, Saskatchewan in Canada.
[I may have also clarified that Saskatchewan is north of Montana and North Dakota.]
MAN: Oh. How big is your town?
ME: No, just ninety-five people.*
(*Note: that's according to the 2006 census data. Give or take ...)
Monday, December 10, 2007
feeling like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego ...
Friday, December 07, 2007
a scrapbooker's dream
When I arrived in Duval, I launched into a week and a half of helping Jeffrey get ready for his Christmas Open House Sale and started the p/t job at the local weekly newspaper. I was here one weekend after that, then went to Spiritwood to pack my rooms at Mom & Dad's place. Exhausting, but good to get that done and retrieve some belongings.
Came back here that Monday night, unloaded my car, and left again late on Wednesday for my "free" trip to California. The trip was free because it was an incentive for opening a bank account last October. I just paid the taxes & airport fees. I was surprised to be cold there in San Luis Obispo (See Canyon, to be exact), a few hours north of Los Angeles, but it was so good to visit with friends Becky, Jean, and Nicole, and to leave responsibilities behind. I only took carry-on luggage and felt so light. Read 1.5 books by Madeleine L'Engle (Live Coal in the Sea and A Circle of Quiet), wrote quite a few pages in my journal, and just let my spirit rest. Found two books by Wendell Berry at a used bookstore: Jayber Crow and A Place on Earth.
Wendell Berry will probably be my next reading spree—or maybe Eugene Peterson. Hmmm. I'd like to use some of Berry's ideas in the newspaper, even doing some reprints if possible, starting with his 17 rules for a local economy.
Speaking of the newspaper job, I'm quite enjoying it. It's supposed to be part-time at two days a week, but this is the busiest season of the year, so it's been more like three days. At first I thought the job would just be selling ads to local and regional businesses, but it turns out to have a nice balance of reporting as well. So far my reporting subjects have included an art gallery grand opening, a welding program at a regional college, a Remembrance Day service at a public school, a Canadian Foodgrains Bank breakfast, a SADD presentation (Students Against Drunk Driving), a rock concert at the Earl Grey Hotel, a woman who once lived in Strassburg, Russia and now lives in Strasbourg, SK, and an art show/sale.
After my first article (the art gallery), Jeffrey suggested I might need to adopt a less academic writing style for the paper’s mainly rural audience. :):) So, I'm learning to write journalistically. I was a bit reticent to engage that, but I really respect my cousin Heather, who has been in journalism for almost two decades, so that helped. I did a bit of research about journalistic writing, and this quotation especially inspires me: "'I love writing leads; there's poetry in good leads,' said Dodd, 41. 'They are poetic hooks to snag the reader into the story, and it's the one chance you get to really flex a little muscle.'"
That was the first month at the paper. Last week I got a phone call: a key employee quit, and could I double my hours (or more) this week and next? That's 4 or 5 days a week, some with extended hours. So I've expanded into layout and proofreading, too. The fun never ends!
We’re still cutting and pasting onto flats, like yearbooks of old, so it’s a scrapbooker’s dream. We’ll be upgrading our technology in the new year, so that will drastically reduce the cutting and pasting.
As for the reason I came to this area: things are quite good with Jeffrey. I'm still settling in—figuring out how to arrange my room, my desk, my closet; still unpacking boxes and wishing for things that are still in storage at Mom & Dad's. Jeff & I have yet to find our work rhythm, but that will come better after Christmas. For now there's just so much settling to do--not just physically, but in my psyche. I'm faced with so much complexity these days—in ideas, involvments, and material things. No wonder I feel a little overwhelmed once in awhile! I find that when I try to resist that feeling or dwell on it and figure it out, then I get stuck. But if I can acknowledge the feeling of overwhelm and let it pass, my head clears and I can see what needs to happen next. So I do bit by little bit to keep moving forward: making the bed, unpacking a box (or even half a box), washing dishes, sweeping the floor, emptying the cat litter, pricing ceramics.
There's a significant adjustment in learning to live with each other. Jeffrey's been on his own for 10 years. I've had more experience with moving and adapting and living with people. I did have my own home for eight consecutive years at Caronport, though the past year was lots of adjustment. Even so, Jeffrey and I have so many similar interests in arts, food, music, movies, people, etc., and he tells me he appreciates me and loves me, and tells other people he's glad to have me here. Already his energy level seems better. We'll both be glad when the Christmas rush is over—him with making pottery and me with the newspaper. Jeffrey works really hard when he comes home from school and on Saturdays. On Saturday evening night Jeff was loading the big kiln and had such a bad spasm in his back he wasn't sure he could finish. But he soldiered on and then we watched a movie.
Some of the movies we've watched lately:
- The Lake House is cinematically beautiful, with an artful, intricate storyline.
- The Astronaut Farmer is intense, surprising, and lovely.
- Lady in the Water by M. Knight Shamalayan is mysterious, meaningful and critically under-acclaimed; we watched it twice.
- Jackie Chan’s The Myth is a strange, yet enjoyable time-traveling journey.
After Christmas Jeff and I need to sit down and do some strategic planning, like setting expectations for my contribution to this operation. (Meals and cleaning are part of that.) Meetings in the pottery studio seem to work well: he throws pots while we talk. Looks like most weeks at the newspaper I won’t work more than three days, leaving Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and evenings for Jeffrey's and my business pursuits. Sundays will be for REST!
I'm loving the church here (Alliance). Immediately I felt welcome and wanted and have had several invitations for involvements. I'm already on one worship team with a request to lead the youth worship team. Looks like I'm being scoped to teach a couple of Sunday School classes, too, but probably won't say yes to those just now.
Last Sunday, we had the most beautiful Communion service. Once a quarter they have Communion in the round, based on Corinthian style; instead of a set program they have open mic sharing and hymn requests. I loved it. Jeffrey stood and formally introduced me to everyone: "You've probably noticed this beautiful woman with me. This is my sister, Colleen. She has come to live with me and help with my business." I had been about to say something, but he jumped up first, so then I kind of had to follow! Again, I feel VERY welcome.
The music ministry is moving forward as well. As you know from my previous post, I was the musical guest at Jeffrey's pottery open house on Saturday, Nov 10th. Sold 6 of my own CDs plus one Designer Genes. On Tuesday I sang at a Ladies' Christmas Night in Imperial, SK, an hour from here. It was lovely. I was more nervous than usual, but it seemed to help the performance. The women were very open, the food was delicious, the decorations were gorgeous, and the ambience was festive yet peaceful.
In February I'll be singing at HeartbeatS, a benefit for OptionS, a crisis pregnancy centre in Regina. Met with one of the coordinators, Monique, on Saturday and came away very excited about being involved. It's a music and auction evening at Western Christian College (formerly Canadian Bible College). Eventually they want it to be a daylong festival. Last year Jeffrey donated pottery for the auction and is planning on doing it again.
After Christmas I'm going to work on setting up regular concerts in churches and houses. I attended a Gospel Music Association conference in Calgary at the end of October and learned a lot there about music ministry/business, so am excited to dig into it. Steve Bell was especially inspiring.
All this past year the Lord has been preparing me for this new season. Even the newspaper puts me in contact with the arts community! Just look at all these lovely pictures and bits of coloured paper being gathered for the pages of my life ...