• "Oh, if I could only put things into words as I see them! Mr. Carpenter says, 'Strive, strive -- keep on. Words are your medium -- make them your slaves -- until they will say for you what you want them to say.' That is true, and I do try, but it seems to me there is something beyond words -- any words -- all words -- something that always escapes you when you try to grasp it -- yet leaves something in your hand which you wouldn't have had if you hadn't reached for it. ... I have written myself out for tonight, and am going to bed."
    - Lucy Maud Montgomery, Emily Climbs

    This is my place to "write myself out" -- sharing both my day-by-day thoughts and my artistic output. Thank you for visiting! - Carmen Pauls Orthner
  • contact

The weather outside…

Filed under Christmas,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ December 2, 2010

In all my years of conscious recollection (ie. school age onwards), I have never lived without snow. Oh, yes, of course Saskatchewan has its hot summer days, and crisp autumn days, and even the occasional day of buds on the trees that could be called “spring”, but winter is the most repeated and most dominant note in the symphony of our year.

We moved to Regina from British Columbia (where, as my mom so often longingly recalls, they have “daffodils in February”) in 1978, when I was nearly five, and then I attended university in Winnipeg, Manitoba (also known as “Winterpeg”) from 1991 to 1995, and did spent 9 months studying and doing volunteer work in Lithuania before returning to my home province. And now my husband and I live in La Ronge, which is northern (aka cold) by any definition, unless you happen to live in the Arctic. I have lived through through days of -50 Celsius here, so don’t go questioning my understanding of cold!

The romance of snowy days fades quite quickly after a few weeks of trudging through jagged-edged drifts hard-packed by passing snowmobiles – on what were once (in sunnier days) known as “sidewalks”. But I do still experience a sense of joy in tasting the first few flakes of icy wetness, or noting, as I glance down on a cold, sunny day, all the tiny sparks of light glinting on the ground ahead of me. And today, I saw a grin on my 9-month-old daughter’s face, even though she was sitting in her car seat on the snowy driveway, on a -11 day. She was born on a late February day, in this chill-swept province, and she has come through a winter, through summer and autumn, a bit of winter and then a brief, glorious period of Indian summer. And now here she is on the other side of that, with a smile on her sweet little face, just below her red-tipped button nose. I can wish to be lying on the white sands of a Caribbean beach, or taking a siesta in Mexico, but for Sara, this is life as she knows it – and it’s my life too, right now.

So I’m going to try, this year, to pay more attention to what’s around me – to the evergreens and snow-covered bedrock in an uncleared stretch of forest across the street from my house, to how adorable my daughter looks bundled up in her purple jacket and her Saskatchewan Roughriders blanket, to the vast, gorgeous frozen lake I see every day (if I look!) when driving through downtown, and to the gloves I tend to forget at home and the cupboard full of tea and coffee and hot chocolate that I can brew when needed. But I’d still take a plane ticket to Cancun, if anyone’s offering!

My “Christmas manifesto”

Filed under Christmas,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ December 1, 2010

I am making a commitment to myself this year to chronicle my Christmas.

This is a remarkable season – filled with mystery, poignancy, history and traditions, expectations both met and unmet (whether you were awaiting the latest electronic gadget), pain and joy. It is a season in which much is magnified, in which the insignificant becomes significant – and sometimes that’s the trauma of what’s to be done with the turkey leftovers or why cousin so-and-so failed to send a card this year, and sometimes it’s shepherds staring open-mouthed at a night sky recently vacated by angels, and a baby born to a peasant girl in an obscure town who would become the Savior of the world.

What I want to record is both my day-to-day experiences over the next month, and reflections on the bigger picture – memories of past Christmases, my feelings and impressions, and what matters to me about this season.

I already know that this year will be different in two major ways: this is my baby girl’s first Christmas, and because of my sister-in-law Pauline’s at-risk pregnancy and the need for my mom and dad to fly out to B.C., it is also the first in 15 years that I won’t be with either my parents or my brother on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. There is also a good chance that this will be the last December that we are living in La Ronge, Saskatchewan – the small northern town where Bryan and I have spent the first 12 years of our marriage.

I want to make this season very special, and I know that even in committing to that, I run the risk of disappointing myself. But Christmas is not about perfection – it’s about anticipation, commemoration, and ultimately, a baby. I have my own miracle child to celebrate with this year, and I think that will make delighting in the birth of our Savior – and all the festive trappings that have built up over the centuries, and point to (and sometimes, unfortunately, obscure) the “reason for the season – special in and of itself. My mantra this year is, “Keep Calm and Merry On”!

So – on to Christmas!

This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason,
There’d have been no room for the child.

- Madeline L’Engle

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.
- Charles Dickens

I’m a journalist, not a prophet…

Filed under Challenges,Projects,Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ November 18, 2010

… but I must comment on the fact that less than 2 weeks after my post about Kate Middleton and her prince, she and William are officially engaged — after dating for, what, 7 years?? I highly doubt that the future king of England needed any extra encouragement to finally pop the question — or rather, to go public about it, since apparently he put Diana’s ring on his future bride’s finger while doing charity work in Africa, back in October — but just in case, you’re welcome, Kate. ;)

Anyhow, speaking of ending silence, I am back on-line and glad to be posting on my blog again. After a bit of a crummy day a couple of weeks ago, I decided I needed to turn the computer off for a few days and focus my energy elsewhere. I managed to lose 2.2 lbs. in the ensuing 6 days, at least in part because instead of collapsing in front of the computer monitor whenever I got bored or distracted or tired, I found something else to do — that “something else” often as not being housework. I still have a long ways to go to really satisfy myself with how our home looks, but at least some of the lingering messes are gone. The challenge is to maintain what I’ve finished, while continuing to live in the house AND get other areas of the house tackled.

What else… well, we had our first appointment with a worker with the local Early Childhood Intervention Program, who will be checking on Sara’s progress development-wise over the next few months. She thought Sara was great fun, and she really is, although sometimes exhausting. She has discovered the wonders of opening drawers, ripping newspapers/magazines, climbing into baskets and between pieces of furniture, and heading off at top speed using a combination crawl/bear walk technique. She nearly catapulted herself off the edge of our bed while playing — fortunately, Bryan grabbed her in time! She is expanding her diet, adding creamed corn and broccoli/cheese/potato casserole (baby food version) to a menu that already includes peaches, pears, green beans, butternut squash and carrots, although she still prefers her bottles (which she will grab at if she is really hungry and we’re not seating her in our laps fast enough for her liking). Stains now decorate numerous items in her wardrobe, as she somehow manages to smear food even underneath her bibs (which she also likes to chew on).

I am almost finished my Christmas shopping/gift-making — when you live in a remote area, you shop whenever the opportunity presents itself, whether at a craft sale (like the upcoming Morningstar Faire or the travelling Ten Thousand Villages sale) or in stores in any city we visit. Our first gifts for this Christmas were purchased in July, on a trip to Edmonton. I also have a number of boxes coming in the mail from on-line vendors, and I need to allow for at least 2 weeks shipping time from American stores. We’re starting to get into the Christmas spirit, although I won’t do any wrapping until we have our tree up. I’m hoping to get a real tree again this year, but I’m also hesitant because we’ll have a curious 9-to-10-month-old to contend with. We may end up with a very small tree that’s set at least 3 feet above the ground! But that one could be a real one, if we get one in a pot?! I would like to get a stocking for Sara, and we have an ornament for her already — my mom always gave me and my brother (and more recently my husband) a new ornament every year, generally to symbolize something about the year, and I’d like to do that with Sara as well. I’m dreaming of crackling fires with hot chocolate, the rustle of wrapping paper (I know Sara will be VERY good at ripping it — and we’re thinking of getting a big empty box and wrapping it for her to enjoy playing with, in addition to “real” gifts of course), hot soups and sweet baked goods (butterhorns, cinnamon rolls, a twisted candy cane-shaped bread with fruit inside…), laughter, making my first gingerbread house, finishing up and displaying the Christmas wreath I’m making, uncovering the precious “little angel” ornament I got when I was 3 and hanging it on our tree, the Christmas musical my husband is performing in, candle lighting on Christmas Eve, first photos with Santa Claus…. It will be good. :)

Other good things — I got tickets to see a one-man recitation of “A Christmas Carol” (we went last year and it was superb), “Chuck” continues to be excellent on Monday nights (though that’s rarely when we watch it — thank goodness for DVRs), I got news that I will receive a $1,500 cash settlement as a claimant in a lawsuit by freelance writers whose work was published on-line without their consent, I had a very nice coffee date with my friend Linda, Bryan’s 40th birthday party (with a Mexican theme) was a success, the Saskatchewan Roughriders won the CFL’s western semi final last weekend, my prayer triplet meetings (to pray for fresh vision for our church) are going well, I’m 2 (out of 52) short essay questions away from the end of my doctrinal paper for the missions agency we’re applying to, I finally made it to my massage therapy appointment and my lower back is feeling less sore, I had a nice breakfast date with my friend Timea this morning, tomorrow we’re going to see my parents, and my friend Megan is coming over tonight to watch “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, which is one of my favourite movies.

And finally, I finished my second layout for the All About Me challenge blog, wrapping up my stint as their November guest designer. The challenge this time around was to scrap “what I wanted to be when I grew up” — which is the real reason for my post title, Kate Middleton and a homage to the original Star Trek‘s doctor, Leonard “Bones” McCoy notwithstanding. ;)

Here it is. :)

Journalling reads: I’ve been a word nerd from way back – but I always thought that my career ambitions were tied to print, not the airwaves. I remember wanting to be a librarian (I thought it would be great to be surrounded by books all day), or a famous author (complete with a drawing of myself signing multiple copies of something I think was called “The Happy Puppy”). Sure, after hours spent listening to his long, rambling conversations on CBC Radio’s “Morningside”, I dreamed for a while of being the next Peter Gzowski, spending my days talking to interesting people doing interesting things. Even if I needed convincing, my stilted delivery and awkward radio scripts, plus torturous hours spent cutting out bits of reel-to-reel tape and sticking them back together with blue adhesive for j-school assignments would have sealed the deal. But years later, while reviewing an old audiotape, my mom found something that made me re-evaluate. I don’t know when it’s from, or why I did it, but there it is: little me, “interviewing” the Bible’s King David (played by my mom) about how he felt about killing the giant Goliath – complete with a very appropriate sign-off: “This is Carmen Pauls, reporting.” And so, I am.

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Thank you for welcoming me

Filed under Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ November 3, 2010

(One of my favorite photos from Halloween 2010 — my Sara in her duck costume, giving a “high five” to her uncle Darcy in his toga and laurel wreath.)

Thank you all for making me feel so welcome in the blogging “neighbourhood” — it’s been a treat to read your comments, and I look forward to having a chance to comment on all the other inspirational layouts in this blog hop. :)

I was hoping to have some time to play with “paper and pretties” tonight, but that’s not how my day went. I poured most of my energy today into playing on the floor with my baby girl, cleaning the kitchen (urgh — it was such a mess, and the rest of the house isn’t much better right now), sorting laundry and taking part in my daughter’s beginner swim class. She is the tiniest one in her class, but amazingly confident in the water already. She has figured out the proper leg and arm movements and goes “swimming” (with me holding her up) enthusiastically after the balls and toy boats, watches the instructor and the other kids (like her 2-year-old cousin Theo and one of the girls who goes to the same babysitter) carefully to see what they’re doing, and is a good sport in the game/song times (we do songs like “Motor Boat, Motor Boat”, “Bingo” and the “mm mm went the little green frog” one, adapted for swimming practice). She even tried a bit of bubble-blowing today, although she hasn’t quite figured out how it’s done. I love seeing her wet and grinning, and squealing happily in the water. :)

I am eager to learn more about the art of blogging — it’s still a very new “medium” for me, although I did attempt it a few years ago, only to abandon the effort because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted my blog to “be”. When I tried using it as a diary, I ended up writing mostly when I was feeling sad or overwhelmed, and that didn’t present a very balanced picture — and it was also weird having posts like that so “out there”. And when I thought about using a blog for sharing crafty projects, I felt as though I wasn’t making projects consistently enough to make that worthwhile. I’m still wrestling with what the content here will be. I’d like to strike a healthy balance between open, honest sharing about my everyday and yet not being “too” personal, and also have a place to talk about ideas and experiences I have had in the past or am now having, and share my projects and some of the rationale/thinking behind them. Any advice from those who’ve “been there” would be greatly appreciated.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to try Shimelle Laine’s Blogging for Scrapbookers class. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s taken the class, and/or interested in talking about it. It’s now one of her archived classes, so there isn’t ongoing discussion on the forum as far as I know. So if you’re planning to take it, let me know — it would be great to have others to bounce ideas off. :)

Anyhow, thanks again for the comments — they do my heart good.

« Previous Page