Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Still blogging from my phone.

But by the weekend, I should be reunited with my laptop. Yay!

Three things I am thankful for:

1. I have a phone.
2. For only $250 my laptop will be repaired and all my files will be saved.
3. I live in this country where I have the opportunity to work and the freedom to play. And pray.
4. Smarties.
5. Queen size beds.
6. People who write, draw, act, sing, dream.
7. Friends who want to hang out.
8. People who crunch numbers, add columns, pound nails, make decisions, teach others, run presses, raise children.
9. Book clubs and conversations about books.
10. I am thankful for lives well-lived. Like Corrie ten Boom's.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Blogging From My Phone

On Saturday morning at 10 am in Japan I was getting my hair washed, trimmed, blow dried, and styled. 
AND on Saturday morning at 10 am I was going through Customs at the Vancouver International Airport. 

Time travel. It's a beautiful thing.

So, I am home, working on getting my sleep patterns sorted. 

Sadly, my laptop is also messed up. I took it over to Best Buy this afternoon for a diagnostic appointment. Hoping, if nothing else, they can save my travel pics. They weren't too optimistic; they thought, on first glance that my hard drive is the problem. So I've left it with God and The Geek Squad. If I'm meant to have access to those 2,000 photos, I will. If not? Well, I'll just be the saddest puppy in Surrey til I get over it. No one died; no one lost an eye. 

Three thing I'm Thankful For:

1. Saturday evening with Drew and Danica. So good to be home.
2. Long walk through the neighbourhood tonight. I did not sweat. The sun was warm, the breeze was cool; I was the perfect temperature. 
3. Longest day of the year ... SUMMER IS HERE!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Yes. The Answer is Yes.

If you're thinking about a trip to Asia, and you're wondering if you should lose weight before you go? The answer is yes.

People in this part of the world are tiny.
Like, very tiny.

Maybe 5 feet tall.
Maybe 90 pounds.

When you book a 120 minute spa treatment here, (one that includes a full body scrub, a wrap, and a deep tissue oil massage) they are unprepared for the size of a large North American's ass.

Tonight, I was asked to undress and put 'these on'. They were paper bikini briefs, size extra small. I ripped the first pair, just pulling the up. I ripped the second pair as well. The third pair made it to my thighs.

"Is OK?" she asked.
"Not. Not OK." I replied, giving her a glimpse of way too much flesh.
She shrugged. Then pointed to the table.
"Lie down."

I was so embarrassed. LIKE BEYOND embarrassed.

I motioned a face up or face down question, and she indicated ass up.

Those paper panties didn't cover a thing. They were only hovering near the top of my thighs and I could barely breathe. So ashamed. Mortified. Sad. She put a towel over me, then immediately folded it back so my left leg and cheek were exposed.

I could not relax. I could not let it go. I could not get past myself. I felt so ugly and so exposed.

I fought tears for the entire 13 minute scrub.

She led me to the shower to wash off, then handed me another pair to put on.

I stood in that little shower room and cried. If the first three pairs were hard to pull up, this fourth pair was an engineering nightmare. Paper and damp skin are not best friends.

What was the point? Why was I bothering? My entire body was a wound tight and I just wanted to walk out of there. Go back to my room. Pretend this never happened.

I sucked it up like a buttercup though, and went back to the table for the wrap. As I lay there, dying a million figurative deaths, I talked to God. About this country. It's people. The history. The temples. The wars. The starving dogs. The begging children. My fat ass. Her hands. Her memory - please let this night be erased from her mind. Tomorrow's flight. My kids. My mom. The wedding. Friends. My fat ass. My bangs. Her hands there. And there. And the air conditioning. And I started to cry again.

It really was too much.

She wrapped me in plastic then told me to sleep for 5 minutes. Or something. Her english was non-existent and my ears were not hearing anything beyond my internal voice which just wouldn't shut up about losing weight and exercising.

After another shower, it was time for the massage. I'd had one a few nights ago, and it was the best massage of my life. They gave us extra, extra large roomy pajamas (both tops and bottoms) and did did the massage on top of our pj's.

I was expecting that again.

Instead she handed me another pair of those bloody black panties.

I put them on, angry at myself and angry that there were no alternative options. Everytime I tried to pull them up I felt like absolute shit. I wanted to slither back to my room. Why was this not funny? How come I couldn't laugh at the stupidity of it all? Why was I not coping? What was the point of having a two hour spa treatment if I was going to be wound up tighter than a drum?

The massage was not gentle. She said she had "strong hands, work hard."
98% of my body was punished.
I took it, believing it was good for me.

Those were the longest 120 minutes of my life.

"Is your skin all soft? Didn't that just fly by? Did you fall asleep? Wasn't that awesome? Was your door open the whole time? What scent did you choose for the massage oil? That was incredible, wasn't it?"

Sue loved every second of it.

I'm happy for her.


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. I had 6 fears coming into this adventure.
Every. Single. One. of them has come to pass.
And I survived.

2. Sue's patience.

3. Underwear that fits.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


I had the morning to myself, so while Sue and Minh worked, I hung out at the roof top pool. The plan was to sit in the sun and read.

It rained. 
It rained really hard. Big huge fat drops of water. 

So I read inside. 

And in the afternoon, when the sun came out, Sue and I went to the War Remnants Museum
For 90 minutes I fought nausea as I wandered through the exhibits and stared at the images. So many horrific things happened during that Vietnam war. (Probably during all wars. But this one was on display...)

Our capacity for evil know no bounds.
We (as a people) do terrible things to each other, with each generation thinking up new ways to torture their enemies.

The whole time I was walking through those halls of horror, I was saying sorry to God for the way we've messed things up on earth. He gave us such a beautiful place to live and we do atrocious things to it and each other. And I just felt sick at how messed up we are. 

When I couldn't handle it any more, I found Sue outside, on a bench. I sat beside her, and warned her that I was going to cry. She said that was OK. So I let a few tears escape.

The reason I am here is because Sue invited me to join her on a business trip. Her business? Leading seminars, meeting with educational agents and talking to students interested in a North American university education. She (and Minh, a Vietnamese MBA student, studying at Kentucky State) help and encourage young people (and their parents) to submit applications to various universities in the States or TWU in Canada. 

I've been fortunate enough to be able to watch them at work, and to meet with/eat with some of the students. And they are all so eager to live in the USA. 

For two weeks I've seen the excitement and longing that these young people have to move to America.


That museum made it seem like the Americans were Satan's special agents of evil. And yet, despite that, less than one generation later, the young people of this country are eager to go the USA.

And that did my head in.

The ugliness of war.
The hope of a new generation.



I've been going through all my photos, and just reviewed the ones from a week ago when I toured the Cu Chi Tunnels.

For the Viet Cong, life in the tunnels was difficult. Air, food and water were scarce and the tunnels were infested with ants, poisonous centipedes, scorpions, spiders and vermin. Most of the time, soldiers would spend the day in the tunnels working or resting and come out only at night to scavenge for supplies, tend their crops, or engage the enemy in battle. Sometimes, during periods of heavy bombing or American troop movement, they would be forced to remain underground for many days at a time. Sickness was rampant among the people living in the tunnels, especially malaria, which was the second largest cause of death next to battle wounds. A captured Viet Cong report suggests that at any given time half of a PLAF unit had malaria and that “one-hundred percent had intestinal parasites of significance."

I can't imagine.


As I sit here, in Ho Chi Minh city, writing out this blog, watching the news about the shooting in Orlando, I am grateful for the life I've been allowed to live. I am thankful that my boys haven't seen war. I am appreciative of the journey my Omi endured to get her family from Russia to Canada.

I am blessed and lucky.

And also a little bit dumb.

I've been having stomach issues and last night. I'd had enough, so I decided to take the medicine my doctor had prescribed.

Sue threw in the towel tonight as well, and pulled out her meds. She needed relief too.
She was reading her label out loud and said she needed to take one tablet twice a day.

"I only have to take one a day," I said.
"You sure? How many milligrams are yours?"

I get out of bed, grab the bottle and read out loud... "Take one tablet..."

"Oh, wait..." I say, as I turn the container slightly.

"Twice daily."


"I didn't notice that before."

She almost fell off her bed she was laughing so hard.
(Because, uh, the other day she noticed I was taking a sleeping pill that my doctor suggested would be fine for me to take while away. "You take a full pill? You don't take half?"

And then I checked I label, by turning it slightly and reading the whole thing and sure enough. I was supposed to take half. NO WONDER I've been sleeping so well. WHO AM I? SINCE WHEN DO I NOT READ LABELS?)

"Good thing you're not baking cookies. You halved one thing and doubled the other..."


We're leaving first thing tomorrow for Cambodia.
The adventure continues.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. So much laughter on this trip.
2. As well as good conversations.
3. And amazing sights.
4. This story.

Do you remember this photo? It was taken by a 21 year old. in this area, (Saigon/Ho Chi Minh)  43 years ago during the Vietnam war:

That little girl whose clothes had been burned off her?
Is now a Canadian. Her name is Kim. She is married and has two sons.
She has learned to forgive.

Read the story. 
It is so full of hope.

Shalom, friends.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


So on Tuesday May 31 at 1:35 pm I got on an airplane.
On Wednesday, June 1 at 11:30 pm I got off.

Today is Sunday June 12. I am in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for the second time on this trip. I've completed 6 of the 10 plane rides this adventure will have in total.

I have some thoughts.

  • I'm travelling with Sue, who sleeps 10 inches away from me every single night. And with whom I am sharing a bathroom. We eat all our meals together. We sit in companionable silence, reading our books or working on our laptops most evenings before we fall asleep. And every morning when she wakes up, she checks this blog to see what we've done. "You haven't posted anything to Pixnprose," she'll say. "You're letting people down. Marj must be disappointed." I'm trying to be In The Moment at all times, and fully experience this country while I'm here. It's hard to Live It and Record It at the same time. Hats off to travel bloggers who manage to update their blogs daily. Sue? Marj? September? Mom? This post is for you. With love. 
  • If you have the option, choose Premium Economy on overseas flights. Seats are wider, and recline further. HOT cloths are presented to you before the meal (that you selected off a menu!) is served. And the food is amazing. 
  • If you're going to have a total of 10 air plane rides in 18 days, you stop having deep conversations with God at every take off and landing. 
  • If it's your birthday on your travel day and your friend says she wants to do something special for you to celebrate the following night, suggest to her that a cupcake would be lovely. Unless you're OK getting naked with a young Vietnamese woman you've just met in order to have a massage with her in the 'couple's room'. 
  • If you're taller than 5'2" and weigh more than 100 pounds, the robes and disposable bikini panties that are available to massage customers will be a tight/non-existent fit. Vietnam is a nation of petite trim people. No where is that more evident than in the changing rooms of spa salons as you realise than none of the garments/slips of fabric supplied will cover those bits you'd prefer no one would look at.  
  • Staying in business class hotels with a seasoned business traveller is highly recommended. Air conditioning. Turn down service. Complimentary bottles of water. Air conditioning. Comfortable beds. Bedside 'have a good sleep' notes. Chocolates on pillows. And showers/toilets behind frosted glass walls (as opposed to clear glass.) I cannot stress this enough. There are times when you just want a smidgen of privacy and that frosted glass panel is all that keeps you sane during those moments. 
  • If you are a tall (5'9") woman with flawless white skin or an overweight woman with very blonde hair, you'll be photographed repeatedly by the locals as if you're The Curiously Strange Women of The Travelling Canadian Circus. 
  • When you book into a hotel that has a free spa treatment each day of your visit, say no to the mud wrap. Or say yes, and prepare to have mud smeared in private places. Surprisingly, with extra attention spent on uh, the boob area, both during and after the application of cool sticky mud in that air conditioned room, right under the vent that is blowing cold air on your chest that is covered with cool sticky mud being applied by someone who likes to tweak and caress. Having this procedure done in the couples room with a teensy tiny Vietnamese colleague on the bed beside you introduces a whole new level of intimacy to the business relationship. 
  • Massages are a pain-filled, stress-filled way to spend an hour of your life. If you feel like you're going to break down and sob when the masseuse surprises you by jumping up on the table and sits on your bum while digging her elbow into your shoulder blades, think on happy thoughts. And spend those 60 minutes chatting with God about your kids. 
  • Vietnam is a hot place to be in June. It's like swimming through hot wet air the second you go outside. Your body will break out in a sweat and all conversations will include a running update of the speed in which the river of back sweat is trickling into your underwear. 
  • Shooting an M16 is cool. The stories about the war in Vietnam are not. 
  • Nothing makes you appreciate your good, good life more than seeing the utter poverty that little children are born into in this place. 
  • Use the traveller's diarrhea medicine your doctor prescribed already. Seriously, what have you been waiting for? Do not wait til Day 12 of the vacation.
  • Earplugs and apologies go a long way to ensuring everyone gets sleep. So do little blue pills. Maybe read the label first. Jeesh. 
  • Buy a bigger purse. Hats are stupid. Kindles are not.
  • Contribute to the local economy by employing random people you meet on the street to do your laundry and peddle you around the city. Give tips generously. 
  • Prepare to feel all the feels. 

Photos to follow eventually.

Shalom, friends,

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


"We seem to have a fear of empty spaces. We want to fill up what is empty. Our lives stay very full. And when we are not blinded by busyness, we fill our inner space with guilt about things of the past or worries about things to come. 
Perhaps part of our fear comes from the fact that an empty place means that something may happen to us that we cannot predict, that is new, that leads us to a place we might not want to go. I might not want to hear what God has to say."

-Henri Nouwen

Monday, May 30, 2016

Full to Overflowing

I usually sleep in on Sundays. Especially wet ones.
But Kevin and Sharon were going to be installed as Lead Pastor couple at Coastal Hills Community Church at 10:30 am, so I hauled my butt out of bed and drove around Cloverdale looking for their meeting place.

I finally let Google maps direct me and I got there just in time to find one of the few empty seats down the centre aisle right in the front. Exactly my favourite spot to sit in a brand new environment where I only know one family and they'll be busy getting commissioned on stage.

Seriously. You'd think that after 20 years of going to places alone, it would get easier. Hell no. Every. Single. Time. I have to pep talk myself against turning around and driving home.

Anyway, two seconds after the service started, I was being hugged by behind from a friend from the olden days. Like, olden, olden, days. Haha. And then two worship songs later, her husband, whom I went to high school with, tapped me on the shoulder and gave me a hug too. Turns out, I knew a few folks there. And they all were in huggy moods.

And then I got super lucky and had the privilege of being able to hold this little angel for a few minutes...

She is so very sweet.

Then, seeing it's right in the same neighbourhood, and it just seemed like the right thing to do - I stopped in to sit with my dad for a few minutes.

He loved Kevin and would've been at this service today, had he been able to/still been alive.

If people in heaven have the option of watching us bungle around on earth, I think he would've been cheering Kevin on.

It would've been his 80th birthday on May 18.
And today was my brother's birthday.

This was my first visit to the graveside.
I don't think of him as being here, at all. He's in heaven. Telling stories. And making things with a Holy router, smelling like sawdust.

Memories of him abound up at the lake, or over at the farm. And even in the house I'm living in.
This was very pleasant, but not terribly meaningful.

From here, I went over to the mall.
It was drizzly when I got dressed at 9 am.
But the sky was clearing and the black pants, brown boots I had on were all wrong.

The mall was packed and hot. And I was uncomfortable x 1000.
I returned two bathing suits, then bought some sleeveless tops and a pair of rhinestone-y heeled flip flops. And some flat white shoes and an over-the-shoulder/cross-body bag to hold my camera and passport. And brought my camera and neck strap over to London Drugs to ask them to attach it for me. She talked me into getting a wrist strap instead, which she put on for me. And then I got an adapter and a bunch of $1 chocolate bars. And luggage tags. And travel size tooth paste and other misc toiletries and my feet were on fire and my legs were boiling hot and I still had more stores to go to. Like Sephora, for make-up, which was 100 degrees with all those lights. And the afternoon seemed to take forever. Because, MALL.

And I really hate shopping. So much walking carrying bags and a purse, and legs in pants and feet in boots and sigh.

I eventually made it home and immediately removed all unnecessary outerwear and my room looked like this:

I was going to go out for dinner with Drew and Danica, so I called to see where we were meeting and he said, "We're coming over to your place instead."
Me: OK. Am I cooking? What do you want?
Him: Let's order pizza.

And then SURPRISE! They all them showed up.

And they brought me a gift.

A new camera.
For my trip. (And my birthday.)
(Was important to them that I have the latest equipment.)

You should hear the shutter on this baby.
So sexy.

So I took many pictures.

And they put up with me making that shutter clunk 100 times in 15 minutes.

Pizza and wings for supper.

And then I brought up all my $1 chocolate bars (intended for the plane ride) which we ate for dessert, while we played Scattegories.

And then the mosquitoes came out, so everyone went home and I cleaned my room and started packing. It's now 4 am.

I am an idiot.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1, These people in my family.
2. Sunny evening after a morning of wet.
3. Full day overflowing with Very Good Things.
4. My new camera.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tattoo. (And hat.)

After reading yesterday's blog post, a friend messaged me with the advice that I shouldn't get my tattoo in Vietnam. I should get it done close to home, in Vancouver.


I did it even closer to home than that.
I got it in my bathroom.

Because if I'm anything? I'm totally not cool.

I also suck at taking selfies.
(I forgot my make up at work, so I don't want to take a pic of my face.
Nor do I want the mess of my bedroom to show up.
And I'm doing laundry, so my decent bra is wet.)

But I have a temporary tat (HAHAHA) and a HAT (that I bought at the dollar store yesterday) and WISPS of blue hair (THAT IS MOSTLY HIDING UNDER YELLOW HAIR).

SO much cropping.

(I do not know how to focus a camera while looking in a mirror and trying to hide this and cover that.)

There it is.
It says I love Odyssey.

(Haha, Like as in, Adventures In Odyssey.)

It was a test tattoo our creative department designed for an upcoming conference. We'll be handing them out. The quality is great, so we'll be ordering a few more - this time with the character's faces. My right bicep will soon have white-haired 80-year old Whit on it.

You are so jealous.

Also I really need to go buy some make up.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Friends who say, "Hey let's do something on Saturday night." And when I say 'Sure, what'd you have in mind?" and she replies with, "Can I come to church with you, and then go out afterwards to talk?"

2. I love Saturdays.

3. That hat? Barely fits. I have a fat German head. But it has an elasticized strap - so I can put that under my chins is it gets windy.


PS My mom approves of the red bra. "Your boobs look good up there."

Mid Life Crisis?

I have turquoise highlights in my hair.

Wanna see?

I got to the salon at 7 and watched Danica do her thing way over there, at her station.

So proud of her.
She reminds me of my sister back in the days when she worked in a salon.

She wrapped a warm towel around my neck then put a gown over my white sweater. She slipped away to mix some dye then came back and said, "What do you think?"

Haha. I think she is an amazing mind reader because those are exactly my favorite colours. LOVED them,

So she painted it on. And used foil. FIRST TIME ever with the whole foil process.

An hour later, voila. Peek a boo colour, just like I wanted.

That's an underlayer of peacock-coloured hair. My regular hair is on top. So you can't really see it unless I walk around with the top layer bunched up in my hand. Which I don't usually do. I need that hand for other things. Like holding my camera.

Seeing this pic, I can understand why my sister is planning on cutting off my hair after D + D's wedding. Holy smokes this is an inappropriate hair length for a 55 year old.

It  (the streaks of colour) is less obvious after I dropped the top layer of hair back in place.

(But it's kinda fun knowing they're under there...)

I'm getting a tattoo tomorrow.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. I have fun hair underneath my boring hair.
2. Sort of like having a red lacy push up bra under my boring black tops.
3. And right now? My head is soft and smells awesome.

Thank you Danica.
I love it x  1,000.

Shameless plug for my Drew's girl:

She works at Vivid Hair Boutique  #190 - 8700 200th St Langley 604.371.3737

And this is her Instagram account.

Samples of her crazy ability to make hair wild and beautiful:

Makes my colour look tame now, doesn't it?