A Couple Updates From Gill

I’ve gotten a couple of updates from Gill recently that I’m just getting to now. In this first one, “today” = Sunday because I was busy long weekending.

Community Service

When one thinks of church sponsored events, one of several things probably comes to mind. Fish fries, revival meetings and forced conversions, or in rarer instances carnivals put on by the youth to attract and convert. Today I participated in something that would turn church sponsored events on their heads. From three-on-three basketball tournaments to health screenings, here’s just a few unique things about my volunteer experience.

Breakfast For The Servants

In my church we are often told to have a “servant’s heart,” meaning that we must go and interact with the community. I know what your thinking, but we have a model that instructs us to go to where people are at. After a short devotion, we went downstairs to the fellowship hall to have some sustenance before today’s event. Like I have mentioned before I attend a mostly black {Caribbean} church, and the food tastes like more. For today’s breakfast we had calaloo and dumplings.

The Corn Just Wouldn’t Husk Itself

Before the short devotion, after the short devotion and while the breakfast was being prepared, several people, including yours truly, husked four boxes of corn.

My Station

Once the early stuff was done and we set up the tents, I went over and manned several games and tables. There was ring toss, kind of a plinko game, and connect four.

What Else Was There?

There was a food tent where you could get cotton candy, popcorn, burgers, corn, etc. There was also face painting for the kids, health screenings like blood pressure checks, a tent where elders from the church explained our belief system, and so much more.

Now

Today was a long, hot, but very rewarding day.

And in this second one, “tomorrow” = today because yesterday evening unexpectedly went nice and sideways on me. Not sure today’s looking much better, but here’s hoping I won’t need to get into that.

Good luck, Gill. I’m sure you’ll come through just fine.

Letter To My Readers

Dear Readers:

Remember how I told you I would be having surgery? Well, tomorrow’s when it occurs.

What am I having done? I’m having my tear duct unblocked, and they will be going in through part of my nose. The surgeon doing this is an othoplastic surgeon, meaning that he specializes in tear ducts and other delicate structures near or involving the eyes. The surgery itself will take around an hour, and I will have a bit of a shiner and some dissolving stitches. I also will be over at my parents for some of the recovery. I will tell you how things are in about two weeks.

Thank you all, and may God bless and keep you. Chat soon.

Carburetor

Sidney is cruising along the highway when his car starts misfiring and losing power before finally stalling for good. He steers it to the side of the road and tries to restart the engine without any luck. He calls AAA whose service man arrives a short while later, listens to his account of the car’s failure and lifts the hood to start work.

As he knows nothing about engines, Sidney wanders off a little way for a smoke. As he is returning to his car, the engine suddenly starts and runs without a single misfire or puff of smoke from the exhaust.

“Brilliant!” declares Sidney. “You fixed it! Was it easy?”

“Yeah’, says the mechanic. “It was nothing serious. Just shit in the carburetor.”

Sidney thinks for a second and says “OK, how often should I do that?”

Many A Word From Gill

While we’ve been busy largely neglecting this place the last little while because summer, Gill has still been sending things in. So here, in no particular order, I shall now plunk a bunch of the stuff about what she’s been up to into a single, gigantic Gillstravaganza. I’ll also confess to not doing much editing here beyond a basic spellcheck and a touch of formatting, so apologies if anything looks off.

Artful Food

Last Saturday my mom, a family friend and I went to a town twenty minutes away from where I grew up. We had received an e-mail earlier in the week suggesting we come to this art show and sale. The e-mail came from a friend of my mom’s who taught with her back in the 1970’s, and was now helping a Syrian refugee family settle and live a new life in Canada.

Fill Your Plates And Hearts

When we got to the show and sale the mother and daughter of the Syrian family had set up a food table with traditional fair. There were stuffed tomatoes, baklava, falafels, and so much more that the very mention of them would cause me to short my computer from drooling over the mouthwatering thoughts. We bought some falafels and some hummus to spread over them.

A Young Girl’s Art

The daughter of the Syrian family {Avcin} waved us over to a corner display. She had created an entire abstract art project out of local stones and rocks, the intent of which, I believe, was to convey something about life in a small Canadian town with a nearby lake.

We Gotta Go To Keady!

When you think farmer’s markets, what do you picture? You probably think a lot of farm and garden stuff, some livestock, and maybe some food thrown in. Keady is all of that, but so much more.

On Tuesday We Go

Last Tuesday morning my dad and I went to this summer tradition. It’s a daddy daughter thing, and has been for several years now. We usually like to leave the house around eight-thirty nine AM to drive forty minutes to a town so small it barely registers on most maps.

What’s There?

Well, like I said in the intro it’s garden and farm tools and a livestock auction, but there’s so much more! On any given Tuesday you might also find vendors selling golf balls, Mennonites selling Friendship bread or pies. There is also homemade kettle corn. Yum!

What To Do

If you ever find yourself in Central Mid Western Ontario, or any rural area, go to a market such as this, you’ll be surprised and delighted to find the unexpected.

The Dragon Fly Cafe

Have you ever been to a restaurant that can boast the best something? You’ve probably also been to a roadside mom and pop diner or two. These gems dot the landscape especially if you leave the city and suburbs behind and head out to the country.

What Is This Spot?

It’s called the Dragon Fly Cafe, and it’s about twenty minutes from the farmer’s market I talked about earlier. In typical mom and pop style it’s very rustic, with the feeling of going to grandma’s house and smelling Sunday breakfast.

What Can They Boast

Well, many things, one being locally grown and sourced foods. There are so many farms in the area that provide eggs, bacon, chicken, etc. Freshly made bread, thirty varieties if you really are interested, all baked on sight each day. Let’s not forget the best chicken fingers in the county. They don’t rely heavily on grease, and are so tender and delicious. If breakfast’s more your thing, you won’t be frowned on for having it at noon.

Finding My Voice

Today I did something I never really imagined. I got up at church and did the welcome and lead out prayer. Why is this so surprising? I have terrible stage fright, and have for years.

When The Fear Began

This crippling fear started when I was in high school, and you would think that being an athlete would have liberated me from fear, but no. I was in drama classes, and would often have trouble memorizing lines. That was compounded by people, classmates, telling me I was worthless and sucked a lot.

How Today Came About

A couple of months ago I was on my way out of church one Saturday, when someone from the personal ministry team approached me. He asked if I would like to do the welcome and prayer, and for less than a second I thought I would politely decline. Then reason came by, and before I knew it I agreed.

Encouraging People

Today when the people charged with reading the Scripture, prayer requests, and the tithes and offerings people along with the praise team gathered in a small room off the sanctuary, I finally felt calm.

Question

What’s something you’ve wanted to do or been asked to do, but didn’t because you felt nervous?

Breakfast and Coffee With Mom

If you think back several blogs, you may remember that I wanted to do something for my mom for spending several days with me while I was in the hospital. Well, I got my wish in two forms. The first was a trip to a place called Eggstravaganza. She didn’t let me pay for the meal, however we did have a nice chat. Eggstravaganza is what you think, all kinds of egg dishes. I had a salmon and cheese omelet, and my mom had Eggs Benedict.

Coffee And Conversation

My journey to knowing the person who is my mom continued the next afternoon at a local coffee shop when she finally let me pay for our coffees. She really loves dark roast with some hot chocolate thrown in for fun. I enjoy a nice dark roast, and here’s where it gets similar, I love just a touch of cream in my dark roast, and when my mom has dark roast minus the chocolate, she likes a touch of cream.

Question

What’s something you have or had in common with one of your parents?

Up North The Week That Was

Here’s just a snapshot of things I did while visiting my family last week.

Repurposed oil drums

On Saturday May 19, my mom, aunt and I went on an art crawl. We saw many unique pieces of jewelry, pottery, etc. The coolest thing in my opinion was something we saw in a gift shop. The gift shop itself was rather cluttered, but in the middle of that clutter sat some unique art pieces. An Australian business man owns a factory somewhere in Vietnam where a crew of all women make oil drums into planters for gardens and birdhouses. What’s the cool factor? Well, not only are these formerly oil drums, but each set of items produced is unique and different.

Question

What’s the coolest art project or installation you have ever seen or heard of?

Northern Adventure Part 2

You have often heard me talk of my love of unique and different foods and restaurants. Here’s yet another example of that.

Copper Blue

In the early 2000’s a company decided to develop a previously mainly untouched area near a well known ski resort near where I grew up. This development soon gave birth to what is now known as The Villages. Here you will find a venerable European village complete with spas, shops, and restaurants. Last week my dad and I were running errands when we stopped in to one of these establishments. Copper Blue’s atmosphere lands somewhere between rustic and trendy. My previous time eating at Copper Blue was around six years earlier, I had the pumpkin ravioli. That day, however, I had a black bean burger with roasted red peppers. The food there is pricey, but flavorful. The portions are also more what you would find in Europe.

Question

What is the best little known spot you have ever eaten in?

We’re Looking For…

This one seems rather topical at the moment.

Two priests are driving down the road when all of a sudden they notice that several police cars are following them and one of the officers is signaling them to pull over.

” What seems to be the problem, officer?” asks the priest as he rolls down his window.

“We’re stopping everyone because we’re looking for a couple of child molesters,” answers the cop.

The priest in the driver’s seat looks over at the other priest for a second, then turns back to the cop and says, “Ok, we’ll do it.”

New Golf Shoes

Old Bert always wanted a pair of soft spike golf shoes like Freddie Couples wore, so when he saw some on sale after his round one day, he wasted no time buying them.

He was so delighted with his purchase that he decided to wear them home so he could show them off to his wife.

Walking proudly into the house, he sauntered into the kitchen and asked “Honey, notice anything different about me?”

She looked him over and replied, “Nope.”

Frustrated as all getout, he stormed off into the bathroom, undressed and walked back into the kitchen completely naked except for the new golf shoes.

Again he asked, a little louder this time, “Notice anything different NOW?”

She looked him up and down and said “Bert, what’s different? It’s hanging down today, it was hanging down yesterday, and it’ll be hanging down again tomorrow.”

Furious, Bert yelled out, “AND DO YOU KNOW WHY IT’S HANGING DOWN?”

“Nope. Not a clue,” she replied.

“IT’S HANGING DOWN BECAUSE IT’S LOOKING AT MY NEW GOLF SHOES!”

“That’s nice dear,” said his wife. “Too bad you didn’t buy a new hat.”

Family Vacation

Gill is back to talk the people on your family road trip. Number one is absolutely Carin, and I can see myself as a four, maybe a five and probably a seven. I love useless trivia, and somehow I can be both easily annoyed and very easygoing.


Get out the road maps, pack your bags and load up the Sedan, van or station wagon. Not only are we heading back in time, but on the time honored family trip. In this essay I will talk a little about family vacation stereotypes and the members of your family who fit them. Sit back, relax, and you better have went before we get started because the next rest stop’s roughly an hour away.

  1. The organizer – This is the one who had checklists for the checklists. Usually a mom or in some cases dad or an older sibling they would have it all together two weeks before the trip. Anyone who dared mess up the natural order of things usually felt wrath.
  2. The overpacker – This was usually a female in her teens who felt that even on your family’s quick trip to the coast that she would need several of everything.
  3. The Procrastinator- This was usually a dad, brother, or the messy teenager. They would often wait until the morning of the trip and throw it all together.

  4. The fun facts person – This was usually an older relative who had spent the last month researching the rout, things on said rout, and fun facts about your destination.
  5. The Griper – This was often that teenage sibling, finding fault, rolling eyes, and with their head covered by walkman.
  6. The photographer – Often a mom or teenage sister, they like to click click at every rest stop, bed down, or anywhere else no matter how interesting it might be.
  7. The Go With The Flow – This person just enjoyed being on the trip.

Question

Have I missed anyone, and what was your favorite family trip?

Gill sent this not long after what you just read, so since we seem to have a theme going, let’s keep rolling.

My family used to play the place name one all the time on long drives.

Ok! Ok! Settle Down! Don’t make me turn this blog around, so no one has fun! These are the games and threats that happened on a typical vacation.

  1. The Alphabet game – This could be very simple (“a is for apple”) or more complex. The game my family played on long trips was someone would say a place name like Rochester, and someone else would say Romania, each taking the last letter of the last person’s place name as the first letter of theirs.
  2. Punch Buggy – Depending on where and when you grew up, a punch buggy could be any red car, or a particular brand of car. The object of this game was to punch the person next to you in the arm as hard as you could and say “punch buggy no punch backs” before that person could do the same to you.
  3. Travel card games – This often worked if a lot of people piled in to one of those vans with a table in back. Usually it was an older cousin or sib teaching the fine art of snap or go fish.
  4. Don’t make me turn this car around – How many times were you arguing with your sibs and one of your parents actually made this threat?
  5. Actually making the kids get out – This could be considered highly frowned upon now, but back in the day it wasn’t uncommon for the sibs in the back of the station wagon to be fighting and the parent, having had enough, to pull over and open the doors. Sometimes they would even drive off to put a scare into them.

Question

What’s the most interesting bribe you took from or offered to a sibling?

Vacation Bible School Makeover

Here’s Gill with a few words on what she’s up to these days. I don’t know where she got her ideas about volunteering, but that was never what I saw where I grew up.

When you think of Vacation Bible School, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably you think of arts, crafts, Bible studies, and maybe the pastor’s wife talking about how she and the pastor assembled a church school for thirty children in Botswana when they were missionaries. What if I told you it was something completely different, and more like the most fun you could have at a day camp?

So Different

When I was a kid going to VBS, we did traditional things, games, devotions, arts and crafts, and trivia. That was then, but where I’ve been volunteering, the kids had a choice of basketball, drama, or soccer. I helped in drama, leading games, giving out ideas, and watching as the mostly six and seven year olds ran around and enjoyed themselves. It was really satisfying observing the kids practice cooperation as they allowed their imaginations to soar skyward. The kids were great and I felt respected. They called me “Ms. Gill” and when I gave instructions, they listened and were polite and gracious.

The Verdict

As today was the last day of the program I am slightly sad, but here I sit smiling on the priceless and abundant blessing those children gave me. I never thought much of volunteering, sure I volunteered some at a local hospital growing up, but I never thought about it as much. What do I mean? Where I grew up, unless you were volunteering for a sporting event, retired, or intellectually challenged you generally didn’t. But this experience has broadened my horizons. I am thankful that the head of the Children’s Ministry approached me and proposed the idea of helping out at a Vacation Bible School. I really enjoy working with children, and would happily do this again.

Question

What is a volunteer job you had that you loved, or are you interested in volunteering?

Not So Kid Friendly

Gill returns to look at a topic we’ve covered before. This seems like a good example.

Have you ever been curious about the origins of those stories and rhymes we read, sang and chanted as children? They may leave you with nightmares. So from sleeping beauty being violated to some very racist songs, here are some childhood ruining things.

  1. The Sun, Moon, and Talia – Sleeping beauty in it’s more toned down form sees the prince kissing her awake after 100 years, but the original has a king who, taken by her beauty, violates her in her sleep. She only learns of the violation when one of her newborn twins sucks on her finger, breaking the curse.

  2. See Saw Margery Daw – I honestly don’t know much of this one, other than it basically details an impoverished family having to put their children into child labor and seems to be generally insulting to the poor, especially in the later verses.
  3. Pop goes the weasel – There are many different theories about where this song came from and what it means, one of which is that it tells the story of someone drinking away a family’s meager funds and having to sell his jacket.
  4. Turkey In The Straw – This one seems like a fun little ditty bluegrass bands would play to encourage square or round dancing at a barn dance and for the most part it is, but a version in 1916 was insulting to people of color stating “N word likes watermellon ha ha ha!” I know I will never look at this one the same way again.
  5. Ring Around The Rosie – If you went to nursery school or your parents had a book of nursery rhymes, that was probably a favorite. The truth is much darker and far less fun. It talks of the plague and a lack of germ knowledge, and at the end the death rights by a Catholic Priest.

    Note from Steve: I’ve heard this for years and had no reason not to believe it, but there are reasons to believe that it’s probably wrong.

  6. Here we go round the mulberry bush – Sounds like the recipe for good parents giving their youngsters instructions about how to do things. No such luck, it was actually a song prisoners in a British women’s prison sang to their children while in the exercise yard.

    Note from Steve: Or maybe it wasn’t. Nobody quite seems to know. Tracing things this old is hard sometimes, you guys.


  7. Jack And Jill – I don’t mean the one where they go up the hill with a buck and a quarter. I mean the mother goose version. Here are two possible versions of how it came to be. One involved two untrue spouses in early 17th century England who conceived an illegitimate child, while another later version talks about the French Revolution and the deaths of Louis the 16th and his wife.
  8. Peter Peter pumpkin eater- I thought little of this one as a child, but now in researching this it smacks more of Dateline or one of those crime scene shows. A theory is that Peter was fed up with his wife’s cheating ways and murdered her putting her remains in a pumpkin shell.

  9. The Blue Tale Fly – I, not fully understanding the meaning of it, had this particular ditty on a record when I was small. You know “Jimmy cracked corn and I don’t care?” Well, let’s just fast forward the clock thirty-five years when a grown me finds out the meaning. This is actually a mockery song performed by some white dudes in blackface pretending to be slaves in the pre-civil war southern US. In essence what it’s trying to convey is that sadistic master would have slave slap flies from him as he rode his horse, and one day master was knocked off his spooked horse and met his end. Oops.
  10. Peter Pan – Written by J. M. Barrie around the dawn of the 20th century, it talks of a boy who doesn’t age or grow up. My mother saw an incarnation on TV at her grandmother’s home in 1954, but what the Mary Martin classic left out was the fact that Peter saw Wendy as a mother figure, but Wendy had developed romantic feelings for him.
  11. Snow White – The 1937 Disney movie is a far cry from the original. In that version, the wicked queen successfully kills Snow by poisoning, and rather than a kiss the passing enchanted prince bargains with the dwarfs to let him take her body home. As the prince’s servants carry her coffin made of glass, they drop it, dislodging the apple from her throat and bringing her back to life. She then goes off to marry the prince and live happily ever after without even considering how weird it is that he tried to buy a dead body.
  12. Mary Mary quite contrary – It seems innocent enough. A poem filled with pretty things. But wait, I am about to ruin this for you. Mary is thought to be the devoutly Catholic queen of England, the garden talked about smacks more of a killing field, and the bells, shells, and maidens are all torture devices. A thumb screw, genital mutilator, and early beheading device.
  13. London Bridge – You probably played this with some friends or in a group with linked arms trying to trap people, but you may not want any youngster playing it now. One theory is that the song and actions refer to the tradition of sacrificing children by encasing them in structures to ensure their safety and stability. Yes, when you dropped your arms you didn’t know that you were symbolizing that, did you?
  14. Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your long hair – Where do I begin with this? Well, a witch kidnaps a young girl, locks her in a tower, a prince rides by, knocks her up, and she is banished. The prince is pushed from the tower, blinded, and forced to wander the desert. When he finds his beloved, her tears restore his sight.

  15. Goosey Goosey Gander – I was never read this one as a child, but in researching this it did come up. About 450 years ago in England there was a push to convert everyone from Catholicism to Protestantism, and Catholics were forced to take desperate measures to practice their faith. This meant hiding priests in priest holes. Catholics were referred to as Left Footers, but that’s not what it meant when it said “I grabbed him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs.” The punishment was a gruesome form of death.

  16. Never Laugh when the hearse goes by – Often a little rhyme spoken at Halloween, this actually hearkens back to WW I and possibly even earlier. Its purpose is to remind children albeit in a gruesome way to respect the dead.

Questions

Do you know much of the dark or sordid origins of your favorite childhood song or rhyme? What was your favorite book as a child? Are there any cartoons, books, or movies from when you were a kid that probably would at the very least be frowned upon now?

Korean Fusion BBQ

Gill is back with a restaurant recommendation.

I went downtown today for something different to do. My friend Natasha and I were searching for a good lunch spot, and we found just that. Bul-Gogi looks and smells like a traditional BBQ place, but once you step inside it dares you to dive in to its warm atmosphere. The food there is described as Korean Fusion BBQ, which in regular terms is Korean Japanese food.

What You Get

It’s always best to order the bento box. This is a variety pack of things such as tempura vegetables, rice, salad, a spring roll, and your choice of meat. Not really being much for meats but wanting something both filling and long on flavor, I chose the sweet and spicy fried chicken. Unlike some restaurants, this one had the perfect balance between the sweet and the spicy. The tempura definitely tasted a lot like more, and the rice wasn’t too bland or salty.

Conclusion

I would definitely recommend this restaurant not just for the food, but also the price. You get a whole lot of delicious for $10.

Fancy New Supermarket

The new Supermarket near our house has an automatic water mister to keep the produce fresh. Just before it turns on, you hear the sound of distant thunder and smell freshly fallen rain.

When you approach the milk cases, you hear cows mooing and smell the scent of fresh hay.

When you approach the egg case, you hear hens clucking and the air is filled with the pleasing aroma of bacon and eggs frying.

The veggie department features the smell of fresh buttered corn.

I don’t buy toilet paper there anymore.