Saturday, November 22, 2014

It Takes A Village

Email rec'd at 3 pm: Jane, could you contact the publisher and ask them to add the words "USA" in the COUNTRY OF ORIGIN field on the customs documents regarding our magazine shipment?

I don't usually deal with the publisher of our magazines, nor do I ever handle the shipping/importing of them. But the fella who does was in a car accident yesterday, so I gave it a shot.

Email from me to my contact at Pubpress: Hi. Not sure if you're the right person, but you're the only email address I have. Could you add the words "USA" to the COUNTRY OF ORIGIN field on the customs document, or could you forward this email to the person who usually does this sort of thing?

On a whim, I included my contact person at Focus US, and cc'ed her on the message. She knows everything. Let's call her Kia. (Short for Knows It All). Plus I cc'ed everyone remotely interested in this project.

Kia's email to me: Hi Jane. The publisher is located in Kentucky and they are on Eastern Time. Their office is now closed, so they'll handle your request on Monday morning.

My reply: OK. Monday morning is fine. Thanks.

Seconds later, the transport company sends an email to both Kia and myself: The driver is one hour away from the border.

Well, this information is a game changer.
There's a driver. With 100,000 magazines, in a truck, approaching the border. It's Friday late afternoon/evening (depending where in the country he is) and he won't be able to cross unless we get the words USA added to his paperwork. Is it snowing where he is? Will he have to sleep in his truck all weekend? Is he cold?

Time for a Plan B.
Think, Jane. Think.
What's a good plan B?

Kia and I exchange a few emails.
I think the driver is probably back east. (He is coming from Kentucky, after all. And he left on Wednesday.) He's probably trying to cross somewhere in Ontario. And then come across the continent to Vancouver via Canada. I'm thinking, maybe, instead of sleeping in his truck all weekend, maybe he could just start driving west via the US? And by the time he reaches the west coast on Monday - we'll have that paperwork issue all sorted. And he can cross over in Surrey.

Hey. It's a plan.
I rock at plans involving crossing borders.

Kia in Colorado thought she'd try and find a home phone number of someone from Pubpress to see if they could help. She tracked down the contact information of one of the press men. He said he'd make a few calls to see if he could get someone to go back to the office.

Meanwhile, the driver kept moving forward, inching his way towards Canada.

An hour passes and Kia and I have our fingers crossed that someone at Pubpress is willing to give us a hand.

Email from Kia: Jane which border crossing is the driver at? 

I haven't a clue. Kia makes some calls and finds out he's at Emerson, Manitoba.

Emerson, Manitoba?
Can't be a very big/busy border crossing. Are they even open for commercial traffic in the evening? Do they have a computer? Does anyone there know how to open email attachments? Is it snowing in Emerson?

Email from Candi at Pubpress (not her real name) at 5:30: I'm hoping they'll accept this. (The attachment is a note, handwritten by her, on Pubpress letterhead simply saying, Country of Origin - USA.)

I'm hoping the customs people in Emerson are laid back prairie folk who are OK with handwritten, scanned email notes.

A flurry of emails then went back and forth between Pubpress, Kia and the Transport Company and finally at 6 pm (our time) (PST) I received the email, "All Clear!".

So we all (by the time I got the All Clear email, there were 9 of us trying to get that driver into Canada) went home and started our weekends.


Can I admit that I was a bit emotional by the time I left work?
Besides me, there were 8 people, all across North America, most of us strangers to each other, working together to keep that shipment moving.

Everyone was in a different time zone, and everyone had finished work for the day. Plus, it was Friday. No one had to do this.

Yet everyone did.
And, as far as I can tell, no one was complaining about helping out.

I had a teary moment a few minutes after I sent a thank you email to the whole lot of them for rallying around to help me keep that shipment moving towards our mail house. I had just been the recipient of kindness and effort by strangers. None of them had anything to gain by helping me out. They all just did it.

So professional.

So awesome.

Such a good learning experience.


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. It's been a month. I totally forgot how to use these. Thankful that Clint was able to walk me through the process, AGAIN, on how to use Netflix. Sadly, he wasn't able to tell me how to stop scrolling through the options and finally just pick something already. After an hour, I just hit play and watched whatever movie was in the DVD player. Edge of Tomorrow for the win.

this is my TV screen. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

2. I am thankful for the hockey tickets I received this week from our envelope supplier. Jenn (a HUGE Kessler fan) (she wrote a book about him) had just finished writing the 110,000 words for her new book, and I celebrated by attending the Nucks vs Ducks game. So much fun going to a game with a loud, outgoing, American fan who knows the game well enough to shout play ideas to the guys on the ice.

3. I am thankful for words.

Words are so powerful, yes?
On Monday night, I attended Brenda's retirement party and blogged about it late on Tuesday night.

On Tuesday night I had visited my dad. On my way out of the building I had two ten-second encounters with women I had never met before. One in the elevator and one in the lobby. One thought I was pregnant, the other thought I was old enough to be a resident of the care home. I wrote out those conversations and posted them as my status late on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, while at work, my phone/computer pinged all day long notifying me of responses to my words. People were crying (blog) and laughing (status).

Do you know how weird that feels?
To write words and have someone's (in this case, it was a lot of strangers) emotions affected by those words?
I may have been crying when I wrote that blog post. How can it be that someone can read those words and cry too?
I was laughing when I wrote out my status. Wild, then, that someone reading it, catches that laughter and responds in kind.

I don't think I've been aware of that happening before. At least not with strangers. And not so many.

And then.

Then, at the end of the day, a sweet girl comments on my Facebook status using just two words, "love  you" and I come undone.

WORDS.  Use them wisely. They have so much power.

Shalom, friends,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Back in BC

I arrived at the Bellingham airport on Sunday afternoon.
Max was there to pick me up.

Yes, I loved that.

We drove to his place in New West, where he got out, then I drove back to Surrey to get changed. I had an hour to get into Vancouver for the Martin Smith concert.

Mom: Hi! You're home...
Me: Hi. Gotta run. Going to see a concert in Vancouver.
Mom: Want to use my car?

You know how sometimes you don't know you need something until all of a sudden you realize you did? Like, as I was waiting at the Palm Springs airport at 5:45 am on Sunday morning, the last thing I thought I needed was to attend a concert in Vancouver 13 hours later.

But, SURPRISE. It was exactly what I needed.
And as I sat there, I knew, incredibly, with absolutely no doubt, that this was a divine appointment and I was right where God wanted me to be.

New song added to playlist and listened to on repeat for the past 48 hours:


Monday was a very full day back at work after being away for over a week. As expected.
And a gigantic part of me wanted to spend the evening unpacking, doing some laundry, and maybe watching TV.

But I had a thing to go to.
So I came home from work, said hi to my mom as I passed her on my way to the basement to pick up my camera, and then I said bye as I left the house 2 minutes later.

Her: What? You're going out again?
Me: Yeah, I gotta thing.
Her: Want to use my car?

Arrow was hosting a Retirement Party for Brenda and my laundry and TV watching were going to have to wait. This woman was going to be honoured and I needed to be there:

She has cancer.
I have never smiled that big in my whole life. And just look at her.
So much inner joy is just radiating out of her face.

I love that about her.
She has not had great medical news since September, but boy howdy, you'd never know it. She has this faith, man, that just inspires me.

And she's lived this life, that completely humbles me.
So many people has she invested in.

So many.
Like thousands.

Yeah, sure, it was her job to do that. But I think that was the point. She was going to do it, regardless, so God created a job for her that was perfect.

She is leaving behind a legacy.
People from all over the world sent in words of gratefulness and thanksgiving for the time, love and energy she'd poured into their lives. Marriages were saved/made stronger, families were held together and flourished, ministries prospered as a result of her. She listened. And prayed. And spoke words of wisdom into their lives.

And she asked the hard questions.

As one person after another shared their "Brenda" stories, I sat with my camera and fought back tears. Finally after two hours, I just let them drip.

(Therein lies a greatest difference between us. She can smile in a second and I can cry on a dime.) Different giftings, I guess.

She's got one.

She's in her mid-50's and has a legacy.

I'm a few years behind her and I can't even freakin figure out where I should live.

Dear God,
Could you heal her?
Make the cancer go away?
Do a miracle and extend her life so she can attend all her grandchildren's weddings.

God, I pray that You would continue to be her rock. When she comes to you to hear Your heartbeat, may it be clear. Strong. Steady. Constant.

Fill her with Your peace.

Continue to provide her with Your wisdom. Enable her to share it with people who need to hear it.

May You never stop reaching people through her smile.

Give her family hope. And energy. And patience.
Thank you for this season of growth and laughter and togetherness.

Protect the whole lot of them from discouragement, fatigue and doubt.
Place your angels on their rooftops and do not allow evil to enter.

Fill them with Your joy...



Today, after work, I stopped in at home to pick up the DVD collection I'd bought in Palm Springs.

Mom: Hi.
Me: Hi, On my way out.
Mom: Again?  Where are you going today?
Me: Going to bring these Natalie Wood movies to dad.
Mom: Want to take my car?

These three conversations with my mom are exactly why I have been lending my truck to my kids when they need it.

I have been the recipient of vehicular generosity my whole life.
Even before I ask, it is offered.
This? Is the love language I grew up with.


Me, kissing his forehead and squeezing his hand: Bye Dad. Love you.
Him: Bye. I. Love. You. Too.
I wave at his doorway and make my way to the elevator.
Door opens.
Her, in a wheelchair with her wig on backwards: FINALLY. Can you help me?
Me: Sure. What can I do?
Her: I'm trying to get to the 4th floor. And I keeping pressing the button. But every time the door opens, it's the 3rd floor. I've been in here forever.
Me: Here. Let me try. (And I use the secret way to press buttons that the residents don't know about.)
Her, touching my stomach: You got a baby in there?
Me: Nope. Just a lot of fat.
Her: I don't knooooow. Looks like a baby to me.
Me: Wouldn't that be something?
Her: I think it would be awesome.
Then, like magic, the doors open and we're on the 4th floor.
She leaves and I go down 4 floors and out to the foyer. A notice on the door indicates that the code to leave the building has been changed.
Me, to the other woman/visitor in the lobby who looks to be about my age: Do you know the new code?
Her, looking me over (I'm in a dress with boots holding a purse with truck keys in my hand): Do you live here, dear?
Me: Blinks
Her: Because, I'm sorry. I can't give that information to residents/elders.
Whoa. Ego took a beating tonight. ‪#‎OldAndFat‬ ‪#‎ButMyDadLovesMe‬


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Inspiring friends
2. Generous parents
3. Creative co-workers


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Annnnd. Back to that Top Ten List:

Number 8:

I am loving this trip because it's been so diverse.

  • A few days in Disney. 
  • The wedding.
  • A couple days with Max.
  • These last days of doing nothing but hanging out at the pool, reading, watching movies. 
The perfect blend of busy and not. 

Number 9:

The Street Fair. A Thursday night tradition. 

On Thursday night we had Heather and Debbie over for supper, then we walked up to the Street Market. LOVE living this close to downtown. Love warm evenings in November when a person can walk around in shorts and a t-shirt.

Number 10:

I am so glad that I got 99.9% of all my work done before I left. I've been checking emails and To Do lists and everything's ticking along nicely. I bet no one even realizes I'm not there. A stress-free holiday in every sense of the word.  

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Desert cities
2. Warm air
3. The internet


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Rest of That Top Ten List

(...Top Ten Things About This Trip That I Love ...)
(I've already posted 1 - 4)

5. Have you seen The World of Color?
I LOVE it.
SO hard.

6. And the other thing I've loved about this trip, so far?
Was the day I met up with Max, Clint and Stacy at Disneyland. (Saturday.)

On Friday Sandra and I noticed that in most of the long ride line-ups, people were playing a game using their smart phones. So I asked one of the young women to show me which app it was. (Do you watch Ellen? She plays it with her guests; called, "Head's Up". )

So, I downloaded the app in preparation for my Day at Disney with my kids.
Being AT Disneyland is not enough. I needed more.
(Because I am not the fun parent.
I know this.
It sucks.
But there it is.
I am the one they call when their trucks break down. Or when they need money for insurance.
But I'm not fun. I don't do crazy things. Or buy outrageous toys. Or go on wild adventures.
I am boring.

I need to laugh more around them.)

ANYway, in anticipation of standing in long lines with them, I had this new fun game all ready to go.

Me: Have you noticed everyone playing a charades-type game in the line ups?
(Clint, Stacy and Max have been at Disneyland two full days already, with their dad.)
Them: No.
Me: Really? Seemed like yesterday everyone was playing it. Here. Let me show you.
Them: Looks dumb.
Me: No. It's fun. Here, let's do a practice game.
Them: Uh, no.
Me: Just one game?
Them: OK Fine.

So we played one game.
They were not fans.

So I put my phone in the breast pocket of my denim vest and we just talked while in the line up for Thunder Mountain.

Evidence of cell phone placement

And after 5 minutes of talking, Clint reached over and pulled my phone out of that pocket and my heart smiled so wide I could hardly breathe.

(Actually, you're supposed to put the phone on your forehead, but we're too cool for that. Clint (above) is guessing which movie we are giving him clues for.) Max's turn to guess, below:

Eventually it got to the point where just Clint and Max were playing. They have this short-hand to clue-giving that is fascinating to watch.

The category was always movies.
When Sandra and I played, we described the movies. Or listed the actors. Or said some characters' names. Or discussed the plot. Or, most importantly, said whether we'd seen it together and if we'd liked it...

The boys on the other hand?

Just said one line from the movie and that was all it took.
Usually the other one could successfully guess which movie it was.

7. Another Top Thing?

How can it be that I've never tried this before?
So good:

More tomorrow.
Takes forever to upload pics...


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Disneyland was fun. Palm Springs is awesome.

Top Ten Things (so far) about this trip that I love (not in order of top-ness):

1. I started and finished a book that kept my attention all day today. It was The Perfect Holiday Read. She is a 59 year old divorcee who has made a living as a photographer. One of her parents lives in a care home with Alzheimers. The other parent lives in a huge NY apartment with a full time care aid. She, Rebecca, moves into a cabin the woods to figure her life out. The attic in her cabin has a raccoon living in it...  so she calls an exterminator. Who refers her to a roofer. (This storyline is so familiar....) And the best part? The inspiring part? Someone falls in love with her.

2. Hmmm. Another Good Thing?  No Advil today. Which means my jaw has stopped throbbing. Which means that I forget sometimes that I have a hole there. Like when I popped a jelly belly into that side of my mouth (previously known as My Favorite Corner) and just about pushed that lil candy straight through to the bone by biting down on it with abandon. But I've only done that twice, so that's encouraging.

3. Another thing that I love about this trip? The Disney Days. On Friday, it was just Sandra and I. We were planning on getting to the park at about 2 that first afternoon, but our hotel wasn't ready for us, and then she had some work to do - so we finally walked through the enchanted gates about an hour before the sun set.

I love Disney at night. 

4. And I loved the two new rides. This is what the new Toy Story ride thingy looks like. You wear 3D glasses and sit in that little cart:

and you shoot things on screens with this gun:

And you find out your score at the end:

(And not that I'm bragging or anything, but I was Player 2.)
Hi Score for this game, for this month was over 600,000.

This ride? Was So Much Fun.

And the other favorite new ride:
The new car one.
In California Adventure Park.
It was like racing through Bryce Canyon.
So scenic.
So beautiful.

We were in the yellow car: