Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Grandfather - a Testimony

My Grandparents with our family in the mid 1970's (that's me in the yellow dress)

A young girl sits awkwardly at the harmonium in her grandfather's basement.  Her short little legs are barely long enough to reach the foot-pedals.   The smell of stale dust blows out of the dry leather bellows and adds an odd whiff of history to that distinct aroma which always pervades the home of the aged.  The whining drone of the reeds, hauntingly similar to the sound of badly tuned bag pipes, puff out an old Genevan tune that immediately bring a river of tears to her eyes.  She only knows 3 chords but she is ever so thankful to the cousin who showed her how to play them one rainy afternoon.  Those 3 chords opened up a world of opportunity to sing in a church choir of her own making.  Transported by the beauty of the harmonies and the power of the words she is half standing and half sitting on the bench looking as if she is riding a bike far too large for her tiny frame.  Her little legs pedal furiously to keep the music flowing.

"As the hart, about to falter,
In its trembling agony,
Longs for flowing streams of water,
So, O God, I long for Thee.
Yes, athirst for Thee I cry;
God of life, O when shall I
Come again to stand before Thee
In Thy temple, and adore Thee?"

Staying with her grandparents for extended visits had become a usual occurrence.  Her Mother and Father were struggling to keep their marriage together.  Her days at school brought rest from the trauma of a tattered marriage bond however many a late night argument violently woke the children from their peaceful sleep.  They huddled together for comfort in their shared bedrooms, awaiting the storms abatement.  Grandfather wanted the children kept from the chaos as much as possible and provided a calm and quiet place of refuge that ensured  stability for the little girl and her siblings.  His was a home where tea time was always at 10 am, the old grandfather clock was wound with perfect precision every evening at 8 pm, and the Bible was read with the regularity of a rooster's crow.

As the Vox Jubilante belts out the sweet refrain, the little girl sings along with a sorrow too deep for her tender age.  

"Bitter tears of lamentation
Are my food by night and day.
In my deep humiliation
“Where is now your God?” they say.
Oh, my soul’s poured out in me,
When I bring to memory
How the throngs I would assemble,
Shouting praises in Thy temple."

Psalm 42 is her favourite psalm. The words contain her inmost thoughts even though they were written thousands of years before by an adult King in a foreign land.  She too, like David, felt deep humiliation.  All the other families in her tightly knit dutch immigrant community lived normal lives together, going to church twice on Sunday, having happy family dinners where they gathered around the table to read and pray with each other.  But she was not like them.  Her family looked very different.  She did not fit in with all the other little girls who had a warm safe place to sleep at night without a care or worry of what the dark night ahead might hold.  No, she slept with one leg dangling over the edge of the bed and one foot firmly planted on the floor, ready to escape at a moments notice.  How she longed for things to be the way they used to be!

Her breathing begins to become laboured and her body to tire as she feeds the old bellows with enough wind to keep up the sad refrain.  There in her Grandfather's basement as the music drones on, she imagines his gnarled hands lovingly holding his tattered Bible, pages scarred by pencil gashes and red ink.  She recalls how after a quiet lunch of white bread and gouda cheese  he humbly dropped to his knees to pray with her, giving thanks for all his blessings.  His head bowed, hair thin and white with age, he spoke quietly of the faithfulness of his Heavenly Father in his own life and those of the generations before and those yet to come.  His God was a faithful God.  His God was her God. 

"O my soul, why are you grieving,
Why disquieted in me?
Hope in God, your faith retrieving:
He will still your refuge be.
I again shall laud His grace
For the comfort of His face:
He will show His help and favour,
For He is my God and Saviour."

As the words fly from her heart and her voice soars above the groaning pipes, she pedals faster.  The bellows huff and puff, the piccolo joins in, the angels pause for a moment to listen.

"But the LORD will send salvation,
And by day His love provide.
He shall be my exultation,
And my song at eventide.
On His praise e’en in the night
I will ponder with delight,
And in prayer, transcending distance,
Seek the God of my existence."

The little girl lies spent, arms stretched out across the quiet keyboard as the last bits of wind escape like a whisper from the empty bellows.  Her heart is beating fast from so much exertion.  She feels that she is not alone in the quiet basement full of old framed photos and antique cupboards bursting with delicate china handed down from an older generation.  She feels the presence of her grandfather and his grandfather before him who faithfully lived lives that testified to something much greater than themselves.  Their testimony was of a faithful God of the Covenant who sent His own Son to die for us that they all might live.  A Father who makes good things out of bad, strong men out of weak, and Saints out of sinners.  


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Coco Chanel is Alive and Well in Milner

Christmas cheer is in my blood.  As a matter of fact, I often feel that I must be a distant relative of Mrs. Klaus.  Around this time of year, my dreams are full of red and white.  My hair is dusted with so much gold glitter that I leave a trail of sparkling specs wherever I go.  You will most likely find me running around the greenhouse with a shiny sparkle stuck to the end of my nose, a box of bright metallic cellophone sheets tucked under one arm and curly ting ting bunches under the other.  During the months of November and December my calling in life is to spread the joy of the season from house to house, one beautiful poinsettia at a time!

Here at Darvonda we grow somewhere around 200,000 gorgeous Red, Pink, White and Candy Speckled blossoms every year.  Each plant is meticulously chosen for it's depth of colourful bracts, strong branches,  and number of blooms.  While they don't take longer than 6 months to go from a cutting to your dining room table, they do require a very meticulous attention from the farmer when it comes to water, light, fertilizer and temperature. The growing process can be quite overwhelming.

On our farm, Poinsettias are one of the most demanding crops to grow.  They are finicky about not getting too much water or their roots will rot and yet they need a steady amount of fertilizer to keep their leaves nice and green.  They prefer a nice bright Fall season for good growth and yet must have 10 hours of darkness per night to ensure they color up nice and strong.  Even the shining headlights of passing cars can put a poinsettia on hold!

Oh the ups and downs of being a farmer.  First there is not enough light and then there is too much.  It's an uphill battle all the way to Christmas.

Around our place, almost 100% of our crop goes out dressed up for a party.
Rarely do we send them off in a plain old speed cover and brown cardboard box.  Nope.  I love to bling my baby girls up before I send them out to you.  Organza by the meter, shiny buckles by the thousands, and glitter by the ton is always on hand here like a well stocked makeup kit.  Haute Couture for flowers is the aim and I consider myself the Coco Chanel of the horticulture industry.


 I LOVE my job!

Now be sure to stop on in at your local garden centre, florist shop, grocery store or Big Box outlet and get your poinsettia before it's too late.   This year's fashions are flying off the shelves.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Plan an Event - Plan an Adventure

Photo Credits:  Dragonflight Photography

If there is one thing that gets my blood pumping, it's planning a PARTY!  My initial attempts at being an event coordinator were for my children's weddings.  First it was my Little Angel's "Phantom of the Opera" theme, then Junior's "Please Make it Simple MOM" theme and the  most recent Opera Diva  wedding based on "A Night in Venice" theme .  Oh, how I love a themed wedding.  However, those occasions are now distant memories and with no imminent betrothal's on the horizon from my 2 youngest children, it seemed wise to me that I scratch my party planning itch in some other way.  So, this summer we started working on our 2nd Annual "Fete for the Foodbank" at the store.

Photo Credit:  Dragonflight Photography
Last year we had 175 people join us at a big Wine and Cheese soiree with proceeds going to our local food bank here in Langley.  This year we wanted to change things up a bit by adding a PAMPERING aspect to the evening.

I made a few strategic calls to some talented family and friends...

My Niece Deanna doing mini nail sessions.

and we set up a few beauty stations around the store.....

My cousin's daughter Laurel does a mini up-do
giving our guests the opportunity to sit for a 5 minute consult....

Miss Eigenraam does her magic on Miss Schouten
or some were even treated to a 5 minute MASSAGE.....

Photo Credits: Dragonflight Photography
in the middle of the greenhouse!

Starbucks donated coffee for our bistro......

Photo credits:  Dragonflight Photography
and Tracy Cakes donated cupcakes.

Photo credits:  Dragonflight Photography
Township 7 came by and served the wine.

Photo credits:  Dragonflight Photography

Wine always lifts my spirits!

Photo credits:  Dragonflight Photography
We also featured a fashion show by "Everything but the Groom" as well as "Nectar Lingerie".

Then Chef Glen Zoteck showed us how to whip up the yummiest chicken skewers in just a flash!

The crowd got an opportunity to nibble and sip all night long.

Our volunteers just kept the food coming!

As the sun began to fade, our appetites were wonderfully satisfied with all sorts of tasty morsels.

What do you get when you combine good food....

liberal libations.....



and more SHOPPING?!

You end up with a wonderful night out with new friends....

neighbour friends....

sister friends.....

FRIENDS of every sort.  Each of us united in our wish to connect on a deeper level with one another and with those in need.

So, if you are feeling the need for a little adventure in your life, I would like to suggest you start planning a party?

All you need is a little decor.....

some mood lighting.....

a few tables and chairs.....

and a whole lot of flowers to set the scene.

OR.....if your real hobby is ATTENDING parties, you could always come to one of my parties here at the greenhouse.

This November 16th we are planning a big Winter Reveal shindig at Milner Village Garden Centre which will feature all of the right elements for a fun evening out.  You can register here.  The evening will include 5 local fashion designers presenting their recent creations, local cheeses, local musical talent, catered appetizers, wine tasting and a chance to see the store all done up for Christmas!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Creative Costumes - Pumpkin Style

Pumpkins and scarecrows are popping up everywhere.   Grocery stores, home improvement stores and corner stores have palettes of colourful gourds bubbling out of giant cardboard boxes as you walk in the doors.  Sunny fall days are slowly transforming as temperatures dip and fog begins rolling in to the Milner Valley.  That's the signal it's time to start planning for the upcoming fun of Halloween!

No need to travel far for an adventure THIS week.

This is the time of year when MATURE citizens get to suspend their adult frame of mind and start thinking like a kid again! Memories of late night trick or treating in the rain and snow with winter coats beneath our cardboard Robot masterpiece keeping us warm while hampering our ability to move freely.  Pillow cases bursting at the seems with bubble gum, candy bars and sweetarts that would last well past Christmas.  Oh the sugar highs and inevitable crashes are indelibly etched in my memory.  Those were the days!

I distinctly remember how much fun it was to plan what costume I was going to wear for the annual candy heist.  Rolls of aluminum foil and tubes of red lipstick were always in short supply at this time of year.  You can imagine then that when I grew up and became a mom, I had even MORE fun dressing my kids for the many parties that happen around this time of year.

Mini Me and Opera Diva as Hiawatha and Snow White

Sometimes the kids LOVED their costumes.....

Mini Me as Pocahontas

Sometimes they helped design their own costume......

My Little Angel draws her dream dress for Mom to sew

And sometimes they re-designed costumes to suit their own personal preference.

Mini Me makes herself a paper crown and train to change things up just a few years later
The boys generally didn't enjoy dressing up as much as their sisters.

Junior's very last costume.  He made a mighty fine Scarecrow!

I just don't understand why NOT?!

Anderson Cooper was VERY scornful of being dressed up.

We always found it such a joy to go around and meet the neighbours whom we never normally saw.  The Davis family, long time farmers here in Milner, held an annual party where we would all gather after the candy was gone and the children were too tired to hit another house.

Now that I am an empty nester, I realize that I still need to itch that creative costuming side of me.  I am finding myself sending Facebook suggestions to my College aged kids for "just in case" they might go to a party next week.

So reply.

So what's a gal like me supposed to do when she has no one to dress up?!  She goes out and buys a bunch of PUMPKINS and uses THEM to curb her addiction.

Never one to leave good enough alone, I find myself going crazy making all sorts of wacky planters just for FUN!

I crack myself up!
Heather, Chrysanthemum and Winter Kale make a perfect combo!
I think I will sell them this weekend at the Winter Market here in Milner Village Gardens so that I can afford to make some more again NEXT WEEK.  My addiction has taken hold I fear.

So, if you are someone who LOVES to hark back to those wonderful days of childhood when your imagination was boundless and magic was real, stop on by the store this weekend.  We are going to be holding our Winter Market where all sorts of fun things will be going on.  

Unfortunately, someone STOLE Frankenstein last year so he will not be attending.

35 Vendors will join us in selling their handmade goods....

Fresh organic veggies.....

and even HOTTIES Food truck will be there!

Using our imagination to pretend there are NO CALORIES in Hotties's fresh pasta!