Posts filed under ‘relationships’

The veggie garden is planted


This past weekend three granddaughters came to help plant our vegetable garden. They arrived together and were ready to begin. I could have done it myself or I could use it as time together and teaching moments. I chose the latter. It’s busy, but it’s fun too. And they feel a part of the process.

We talked about setting up the fairy garden before they were all out of the car. That was part of the plan for the time together. The small one said, “I didn’t bring my fairy,” but she didn’t seem upset. The other two chimed in that they’d share their fairy for her to play with.

“You can bring your fairy for a visit another day,” I said. She seemed pleased by that.

While I was getting some things ready, the eight-year-old helped the newest crew member to get her garden gloves on.

The plants were set up in the garden ahead of time, where I wanted them to be. The youngest one, at three, needed help digging the hole. The older girls understood that’s where they were to dig. The 6- and 8-year-old proved that they could dig the hole, put the plant in, and fill it in with soil, then smooth the ground around it.

Everyone had tools to use. The little one loved her new little shovel and fork and the little garden gloves that stuck out farther than her fingers. Eventually the gloves came off and she settled at digging holes, a tool in each hand. You can picture it, a purple shovel in one hand and a green fork, that looked more like a shovel, in the other hand. I helped her dig deeper and helped her fill in the hole with the tool and smooth the ground around a plant. She had a hand at it anyway. That’s good for her first time.

The older two dug holes on their own, put in the new plant, remembering to break up the root ball first.  “I don’t need gloves, Grandma, ” one said. They knew the plants need water. The bigger girls put the cages over the tomato plants. The plants will need it later as they grow heavy with fruit. They remembered that from the previous year, I think. Placing the wire cage was a bit tricky for one, but she got it too.

We set in plants I got at the nursery and some we’d grown ourselves: tomatoes, zucchini, yellow beans, cucumbers and basil plants, and then we put in carrot seeds too. (One of the cucumber plants was started in Brownies and Sparks.) Now we’ll watch them grow. Oh, and we gave the plants a lot of water before we went inside for a bit, to play and have a snack.



Our garden planted and cages around the tomato plants



Time to play. Sidewalk chalk is good.


“Here’s my picture”



Fairy garden is in process after some controversy over how the house and garden stone were to be placed.

Soon it was time for the girls to go home as parents arrived. They wanted to stay longer, but they’ll come again soon, I’m sure, to check on the garden and to give it a good drink.


The fairies seem happy to be outdoors again after the winter inside looking out

Later in the day my husband and I placed the netting over the garden beds and secured it  in place, to keep the birds and small critters out of the garden. Now we tend it and watch the garden grow.


May 29, 2018 at 1:15 pm Leave a comment

A Women’s Retreat

Could it be two weeks already since our women’s retreat. I look at my planner and it most surely is. Last year our retreat was cancelled when the church camp was closed for the winter and until May. Our retreat, originally Mount Zion Lutheran Women’s retreat, is always held in late April and has been held at Camp Edgewood at Eden Mills, ON, for many years. This year we were in for a treat because we were at Stone House at Hidden Acres near Shakespeare, Ontario.


We ate, gathered and learned in this building, and the accommodations were good too. We had time to explore the camp in free time as well, so we weren’t indoors all the time.

Our theme for the weekend was “Seeing God in Surprising Places.” We arrived early evening on the Friday, unpacked our gear and food contributions, dug out our Bibles for worship and greeted each other. It had been two years since our last gathering so it was good to see each and catch up on what’s happened in others’ lives. Among them were two newcomers to the group, and they came with musical instruments.

Friday evening’s questions for pondering included these questions:

What’s the dream/project or vision you feel called to in this time of  your life?

What is one tangible part where you can start where you are?

In small groups we talked about seeing God not only in church, but also in the community and where we’re asked to serve.

A really interesting question that we carried with us in our conversations for the weekend:

Where do you see assigned seating?

In the world there is assigned seating, but in the kingdom of God, there is not.



Saturday morning, we gathered again for discussion and worship. And we changed our seating arrangement often that weekend.


As women, we  are called upon for many roles. We’re often wives, mothers, sisters, care givers. Add in work commitments and we may be business owners, employees, and in my case, a writer too. We often have many identities. We talked about identities that we carry around.

Some of the questions we were asked included: Which ones need to shrink? And which ones need to grow?

Pastor Anne kept adding on layers of questions for us to discuss in our small groups: When does one identity fight for prominence (my own words) over another?


Pastor Anne Anderson, our spiritual director for the weekend, handed out nesting Russian dolls for us to open  until we reached the smallest one. The last one was indeed very tiny.


Most dolls of this sort that I’ve seen before were similar to this one, where all the dolls are modelled after women and they get tinier and tinier as we open up one layer after another. I had never seen the kind that housed different characters within.

One question on Saturday morning for us to ponder on our own:

If Jesus could talk with you personally today, what is the message he would give you?

Consider that question any time and come up with your own answer.


We followed the discussion about identities with an activity.


some of our results



After lunch we did a craft directed by Helen Weber. Here’s one example of our journal and jar with journal topics.





We ate, we laughed, sometimes cried as we shared things in our lives, knowing that what we said in confidence in the group stayed there. We enjoyed each other’s company. During spare time, we went outdoors for a walk and enjoyed nature.







One of the other buildings at camp



A new person to the group. We sat on the swings and chatted. We both love to take photographs.



And some of the time we just sat and visited.



Here are a few questions that we contemplated that you can too:
Where do you encounter God?

How do we celebrate who we are? And how do we live that out in a diverse society?


May 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

Dreaming of spring but living in the now

We can well dream of the season ahead when plant life begins to poke its head above the soil and the sun warms them and helps them grow, yet we must live in the now and not in dreamland. For as Janice L Dick says in her post today, then we have material to write about. She wrote:

“No matter who we are, we will experience uneven roads on our respective journeys. Writing is living out our thoughts, dreams, fears..




some of the gaillardia from my garden last year


Canadian Networker Fall Business Expo photo courtesy of KW Snap 2015

March 1, 2016 at 1:10 pm Leave a comment

Something to think on

I’ve often heard this line: “But we’ve always done it this way.” Yet the truth is that when change  is called for, doing things the same way we’ve always done them will not produce change. It gets us into an even deeper rut when that way of doing things is no longer working. Like driving a car back and forth on a muddy road and just getting in deeper.

My daughter’s friend, Lara, had this quote on her Facebook page this morning.

If You Want Something You’ve Never Had, You Must Do What You’ve Never Done

It made me think.

There’s no author mentioned and when I searched on google, I learned this statement has been around for quite some time. Apparently, it’s not Thomas Jefferson to whom it’s sometimes attributed.


Yet another blogger proposes another discussion on the quote—and a different person to whom the quote is attributed.


Now I’m not suggesting that you suddenly decide you want to be an astronaut, because that would involve a lot of training you may not have. What would be the one thing you want to do differently?

Apart from the quote attribute query, what does the quote mean to you? It’s a good question for the New Year. Maybe even better than a resolution.





December 31, 2015 at 3:24 pm Leave a comment

District 86 Toastmasters Fall conference

In July, I completed a proposal for a workshop for the fall Toastmasters District 86 conference in November. It seemed a long time until the conference, but these things must be done ahead of time to give the organizers time to sort through the submissions and select the workshop presenters.

From our holiday spot in the Kawarthas, I completed the last steps of submission and enjoyed my holidays while awaiting an answer. The best thing, indeed, after submitting anything for consideration, from a poem to a book manuscript or a workshop proposal, is to forget about it and go on with other things, like holidays with our family and a visit to a Toastmasters club in that district.


Buckhorn Lake resort


Naturally Speaking Toastmasters, Peterborough, ON

It was early September before I received the phone call one evening from the Education chair, Jacklyn Payne, that my proposal had been accepted. I was excited and anticipating the conference when I would present, but I had to get down to work and build up my workshop from the ideas and outline I had presented. Between other commitments, it was time to get to work on it.

A lot of thinking and writing went into that workshop. Research too, that I would use to support my workshop, titled ASK for Direction on Mentoring.


Here I am with my workshop assistant, Doris Tuckett, on the Friday afternoon.


and my second workshop assistant, Albert.

Toastmasters calls these assistants Activators, which is really a scientific term. Our networking breakfast business associates got a ‘charge’ out of my response to this.

(conference photo)



My music stand came in handy as we had no lectern, but the sound equipment (mic and speaker) came with me from Kitchener. Thanks, guys at Sheridan Sound, Kitchener, for being so amazingly helpful.

(conference photo from Flickr)





Some of my engaged audience members, listening and then laughing about a story I told

(conference photos)

Thanks to both Doris and Albert for making sure the details around my presentation were covered, and to Chris  Brown, President of our  Energetics Toastmasters club, who helped take down my equipment and get it to the car.


23004361822_7834bfaef8_z(conference photos) At head table, left to right: Gary Schmidt, Vitaliy Fursov, Janice McDonald


After my workshop was past and my things put away, I sat back and relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the conference, the speakers and contestants for both Humorous Speech and Table Topics contests, and of course Gary Schmidt (shown above at left of speaker Vitaliy Fursov), a past Toastmasters International President. I had really hoped to hear more from him since he travelled so far to be with us.

I couldn’t miss our own district speaker, Neil Dunsmore, who backed up much of what I said about mentoring in his thought-provoking, lively and inspirational keynote speech on Saturday morning. He also spoke of his own mentor, Dawna Bate, a fellow member of his first club. He often “bounced ideas off her” on what he should or shouldn’t keep in his speeches. He gave us much to think about.

Thank you, Neil. One great highlight of the entire weekend.


22590966708_c3ed652991_z(conference photo) Neil, a quiet moment in his keynote

Neil also managed the sound board and mics for the speakers at the main hall presentations and dinners as well as the contests.


The times I attended my book table, I had opportunity for conversation with others who came by to check out my table and tell people about the books I was selling.


My book table in the Petun Room at the conference centre


Now it’s more than a week since I gave my workshop and attended the rest of the conference, District 86 Fall Toastmasters conference in beautiful Blue Mountain near Collingwood. I’ve received some lovely compliments on my workshop, for which I am very grateful. It was a good experience over all, and giving a workshop to fellow Toastmasters, you really need to be “on your toes.”


Oh, and if you’re on Facebook, look for the Energetics Toastmasters and my page (Carolyn R. Wilker) and like us too.

November 27, 2015 at 3:21 pm 6 comments

We Were So Far Away

Today I blogged over at Canadian Writers Who Are Christian about the Kairos Heart Garden project and the upcoming Truth and Reconciliation closing ceremony.

On April 7th, I received a message from Kairos, an ecumenical organization dedicated to social justice, from whom I get occasional email updates. The email told me that the formal Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process is coming to a close in Ottawa from May 31 to June 3, 2015. The celebration is to be a legacy for aboriginal and Inuit children who were taken from their homes and placed in residential schools.

I had not known that Inuit children were also involved, but I knew that aboriginal children had been. Children’s author Jennifer Maruno addresses the residential school issues in her book Totem, and how some children ran away to go back home. That hurtful initial step of placing the children in the residential schools, and all that followed, goes deep in aboriginal history.

The Heart Garden

Kairos invited individuals and churches across Canada to plant ‘heart gardens’ and send one to Ottawa for the special ceremony. Kairos intends TRC and the garden as a healing action.

To read more, go here.

While you’re there, read more from Canadian authors who are Christian. You will be inspired, entertained and encouraged.


May the ceremony at Ottawa be just as colourful.

May 11, 2015 at 2:05 pm Leave a comment



A bird sits on the topmost branch of a cedar in our backyard. He looks one way and then another. I open my office window a crack to check if he’s singing. He’s not, at least at this moment. And then he takes flight and I cannot see him anymore. The sun is shining in a light blue sky that holds fluffy white clouds. The air is still cool, but the snow banks have been shrinking and what’s on the sidewalks is turning into a small lake.

I thought to wear my rain boots instead of heavy winter boots yesterday when I prepared for my walk, and it was a good thing, for as the sun warmed the atmosphere, the puddles on the sidewalk and near street corners had grown large enough to slosh through and get one’s feet very wet.

Two young boys, just home from school, stood on top of snow piles next to the sidewalk and gathered whatever snow they could grab and tossed it in the water on the street. Perhaps they were checking how fast the snow would melt, or was it a science experiment, trying to displace water from the already growing small lake on the road?

Teens skateboarded down the middle of the street, talking as they went, and separated enough to let a car pass as it came close.

The streets are widening too, with the receding snow. I haven’t seen a robin yet, but I’ve heard the cardinal call. Is it spring yet?

After a long winter, with much snow and dark nights, I’m ready for spring to show its face, ready to see the earth come alive and the buds form on the trees, but I am not rushing time, for each moment we have is one we will not have again.

In the past few weeks, we’ve heard news of the death of three people, two elderly relatives and my friend Kathy, which has been difficult. Good-byes are hard, even knowing they go on to heaven. Those days of mourning are not to be rushed.

At the same time, we also await the arrival of a new member of our family, at the beginning of life beyond the womb. And I do not want to rush those last days of the mother-to-be preparing her heart and mind for the birth of her baby, or the baby’s father to recover from what may have been a viral bug. He needs to be well to attend the birth of their first child. The obstetrician has said, “It’s time.” And so soon, we shall meet our new grandchild who has indicated life through many kicks and movements within its little warm fluid-filled sack.

In the church year, we’re in the season of Lent, a slower more reflective time, with dark shadows, death, and a lot of waiting. It’s interesting how Lent parallels our anticipation of spring after a long winter, in the northern hemisphere, and how that promise of joy comes at Easter when we often see the first hint of flowers coming from the cool earth.

New life, and that brings me back to the anticipated baby.



I think this baby may yet beat the arrival of our spring flowers, and then we shall be stepping lively to meet this little one and congratulate the new parents. There may be tears, of both joy and sadness, when this baby arrives. Perhaps we’ll even sing as loud as all the birds together. The baby’s young cousins will meet the baby they have been waiting for, and welcome the baby with kisses and gentle hugs.



March 13, 2015 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

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