Sunday, January 24, 2010

The World Today Can't Wait for My Tomorrow!

The day began with a walk.

I noticed that the trees across the street seemed devoid of life.

Quite in contrast to the time of year when they are bursting with colour.

It's January, the middle of winter, what did I expect?

I press on to meet with a friend at the Blenz Coffee.  The walk from my apartment is just a little over 6 blocks.  I notice that another pharmacy has sprung up in my neighbourhood.  I count eight pharmacies alongside King George Highway on my side of the street alone.  Without counting, I venture to guess there's another eight pharmacies alongside the sidewalk across the street in the same number of blocks.  Interestingly enough, I notice only one physician in the neighbourhood.  Something seems wrong with this picture.  More than a dozen pharmacies, all seemingly configuring to the bylaws regulating pharmacies, within 6 linear blocks of my home.

Enjoyed the time spent at Blenz with John.  For no particular reason, I don't patronize this chain of coffee shops.  That might be a result of never being favorably impressed with their brewed coffee.  Today, I decided to try an Americano and I was satisfied with my choice.  Not only did I get to spend some quality time in dialogue with a friend but a decent cup of coffee as well.  Life is full of surprises!

Unlike the photo above, I found out that this particular location is a beehive of activity.  Therefore, I can envision myself in a few years spending a lot of time just watching the people pass by and enjoying an Americano at the same time.

As I walk back home, I noticed that in preparation for the Olympics, a huge banner draped over the side of the tower at Central City.  Along with the symbolic rings of 2010 Olympics, the words: "The Future Starts Here!" 

That phrase on the side of a city landmark brought me back to something that came to mind while talking with John over coffee.  In discussing what it really means to be the person we are meant to be, I have a unique saying of my own pour forth from my mouth: "The world today can't wait for my tomorrow!"

My walk from home and back again, brought me face to face with a community sorely in need of helpful change.  There were so many things wrong with the picture, as I walk along the sidewalk.  I've already mentioned the inumerable "pharmaceutical" (ie. methadone) dispensaries.  I forgot to mention the "Instant Cash Now / Cheque Cashing" services, pawn shops and "rent to own" furniture/appliance stores.

There's something wrong with the picture.

Mahatma Gandhi said:

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

By God's grace, I plan to do just that.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Feeling Full as Well

The apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:11-12

... for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.  I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want.

Christmas and New Year's are over.  Somehow or another, I managed to only gain a few pounds.  Not quite sure how I did it, what with eating the traditional (in recent years) "Dutch Baby" on Christmas morning, and then feasting on "Olie Bolen" (another recent tradition in our family) on New Year's day.

The key to achieving Dutch baby perfection (and a nice crust) is to follow the instructions precisely - and let the first batch be a lesson in timing.  It's best if the eggs and milk are at room temperature, but it's not essential.

The Baer House Iron-Skillet Dutch Baby

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
2 to 3 quart cast-iron skillet (10")
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Accompaniments: powdered sugar, fresh lemon wedges, berries or maple syrup.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes before baking.  Add the butter to the skillet and place the skillet in the oven until the butter starts to brown, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a blender, process the eggs, milk, and flour until blended.

When the first wisp of smoke rises from the skillet, remove it from the oven - remember to wear a hot mitt - and pour the batter into the melted butter.  Return skillet to the oven, and bake until well-browned, 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the individual oven and the size of the skillet.  Serve immediately.  Cut into wedges and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar, a squeeze of lemon, berries or just maple syrup.

Hollandsche Olie Bolen

(Fried Cakes)

5 C. flour
3 eggs beaten
1 t. salt
1/2 pkg. currants
1/2 pkg. raisins
5 apples chopped
1/2 cake compressed yeast*

Mix the flour with milk enough to make a thin batter.  Add remaining ingredients.  Dissolve yeast in 1/2 C. luke warm water before adding to flour mixture.  Mix well and let stand to rise 4 or 5 hours.  Fry in deep fat like doughnuts.  Drop from spoon.  Roll in sugar or powdered sugar.

*One (.6-ounce) cake of compressed yeast can be substituted for 1 (1/4-ounce) packet of active dry yeast.

*Substitute 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (bulk) for 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast.

I made a 1/2 batch of the above recipe and it's way too much for two people.  I remembered as I was cooking that a 1/2 batch served Jennifer & I, along with a family of 4 we had invited to dinner last year year.  This year, I took the left overs to work the following day and still had a few to bring home to place in the freezer for a snack some day (not quite as yummy after being frozen, but still good enough to be a temptation for the midnight turkey).

Anyway, like I said at the beginning of this post.  Like the apostle Paul, I am content whether full or feeling empty.  The scoot is still being worked upon, but word has it that it might be running again soon.  We'll see!  I'm not getting my hopes up, but I am getting anxious.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Feeling Empty: Addendum

Robert, I hope you don't mind my adding a few photos of your scoot. Here is the offending culprit which has caused so much problem and repair delays


As your scoot looks patiently at the repair process while tucked in the corner of the shop

(Robert's scoot is the sad one on the right)

Like waiting for a new heart to be installed . Here is another peek from a different angle


I can feel it in my bones . . .


I hope your Vespa is repaired and on the road soon

Sincerly, bobskoot

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Feeling Empty!

While leaving church this morning, a friend asked me: "Got your scoot running yet?  It's been three months now, hasn't it?"  Jennifer laughed, as she said something about it being more like four months and that I'd be riding the scoot this afternoon if it had been out of the shop & running.  Today was a perfect day for a short ride.  The rain had abated and the sun was pushing it's way through the clouds.

I am feeling somewhat empty.  Akin to that space in front of my car, where for the last few years, my 2005 Vespa PX150 rested from my travels each day.  People notice that my license plates expire in the spring of the year and enquire whether I ride year round.  I answer them in the affirmative.  Their next question, "Even in the rain?" puts a smile on my face.  Yes, I ride even in the rain!  And boy, does it rain on the west coast.  I think of it as 5 months of continuous rainfall.  Some days just a gentle mist and other days a torrential downpour, but it seems like it never stops from the beginning of November to the end of March.

I think it was one such day that I got the idea in my head and had declared a trip to Steveston for "fish & chips" as a ride on Saturday.  Roy showed up that day at Urban Wasp and said he was game, if I was game.  Jennifer had no choice, as she was riding pinion that day.  So off we went, in the cold and wet, across the city for lunch at Pajo's.  Afterwards, we all admitted that it was a crazy idea and "never again."  When you don't have to ride in that sort of weather, why would you?  On the other hand, these are the memories that we talk about and remember well into our golden years.  As opportunity presents itself, I'll write about these good times and fabulous memories.

I've had my motorcycle license for over 10 years now.  A friend's gift of a Suzuki 400cc motorcycle (sitting in his barn) infected me with the joy of two-wheel travel.  The demise of the motorcycle, and purchase of a 2001 Yamaha Vino (50cc) as a second vehicle in our household brought on the love of scootering.

That first scooter served me well, as I travelled from Surrey to Aldergrove, Ladner, Maple Ridge, Burnaby, Delta, Langley and Vancouver.  A definite bonus was the "40 cents per kilometre" that the Government of Canada was paying me in remuneration for the use of my vehicle while performing my duties as an interviewer for Statistics Canada and an enumberator for Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation.  The Vino travelled over 32,000 km, with only regular maintenance being required.  Occasionally, one of my co-workers would jealously complain about my "cheap" transportation.  Then I would remind them of the days I rode to my appointments in the cold and damp (to say the least).

The mileage on the Vino accumulated and I began thinking it was time for a "new" scoot.  About the same time (2005) Piaggio released their limited (350 units) edition "Vespa PX 150's" to the Canadian market in celebration of their 60th Anniversary.  I had been dreaming of one day owning a vintage Vespa 2 stroke with 4 speed manual transmission.  Maybe when I was 65 years of age, retired and with plenty of time on my hands for puttering about.  But, the opportunity was irresistable to have both a "vintage" scoot and a "modern" scoot now.

And while I wouldn't recommend my particular purchase decision to anyone, I recommend to people that they consider owning a scooter.  It's rarely about the destination, but it's nearly always about the ride, the friends and friendships.  I'm feeling empty without my scoot, but on the bright side, I have missed a lot of miserable weather to be commuting to work without a roof over my head and a heater blowing against my body.  I also have something exciting to look forward to.  One day the phone will ring and I will hear the words "your scoot is ready!"  I can hardly wait.  It can't be long now, it's been too long.  Dare I say, "maybe in time for Easter?"  Or should I say, "in time for summer" and those days when I can put miles under my feet thinking to myself, "I need to get myself a mesh jacket" real soon.

I'm feeling empty, but I'm also feeling full.

I have so much to be thankful for.

Keep looking up and pressing forward!

Best regards,

Robert, the Reverend
Surrey, BC

Friday, January 01, 2010

Why is this guy smiling?

The time is 4:00 pm on September 4, 2009 and my wife will soon be on her way to Kilimanjiro, Tanzania.  I'm sitting across from her at the airport, sipping on my Starbucks.  The drink in my hand could very likely be an Espresso Truffle.  Jennifer will be gone for 17 days.

Some might say that it's the thought of being on my own for an extended period of time that has put the smile on my face.  I have the house & bed to myself (well almost, as Austen our beagle is at home with me).  Those who know me well, would say it's the cup of coffee in my hand that has my face lit up.  I definitely enjoy a cup of good coffee and Starbucks sets the bar for where I like to begin.

But the reason for the smile ... it's rooted in my joy of seeing my wife accomplish the seemingly impossible.  A fundraising goal of $10,000 for the Alzheimers Society of BC.  Financing the trip to Mount Kilimanjiro.  Climbing the mountain!

I knew she could do it!  I knew she would do it!  She did do it!

She climbed Mount Kilimanjiro (paying her own way) and has raised more than $17000 thus far in funding for education and services to support the more than 70,000 individuals and their families across the province of BC who live with dementia every day.  The money raised also funding vital research into the causes and the cure.

She did it with the help of family, friends and strangers.  I smile because there is so much in my life to smile about (including the coffee).