Saturday, December 06, 2008

Not About Cake For A Change

On the right hand side of my blog is a cluster map. It is a visual representation of the number and location of the people who have visited my blog during a certain time period. If you click on the map you can see an enlarged version. Just the other day I went to look at my map and discovered that it provided me with a list of total visits to my blog by country. I thought it was pretty cool. So this list is the number of visits that have been made to my blog between May 1, 2008 and November 26, 2008. I have to say that I'm pretty surprised that there were less hits from Brazil than from the UK. India's rating didn't surprise me too much since I was actually living there and blogging from there for about half of the time that this data is collected from. Anyway, some randomness for you that doesn't involve a cake. :)

Current Country Totals
From 1 May 2008 to 26 Nov 2008

United States (US)2,108
Canada (CA)1,293
India (IN)539
United Kingdom (GB)350
Brazil (BR)156
Australia (AU)73
Germany (DE)55
Europe (EU)39
France (FR)39
Netherlands (NL)30
Spain (ES)28
Italy (IT)26
Turkey (TR)22
United Arab Emirates (AE)21
Norway (NO)20
Singapore (SG)20
Korea, Republic of (KR)20
Philippines (PH)19
Malaysia (MY)18
Israel (IL)18
Hong Kong (HK)18
Thailand (TH)16
Poland (PL)16
Sweden (SE)15
Pakistan (PK)15
Switzerland (CH)15
Denmark (DK)14
Japan (JP)14
New Zealand (NZ)13
Romania (RO)12
Ireland (IE)12
South Africa (ZA)11
Saudi Arabia (SA)10
Mexico (MX)9
Belgium (BE)9
Portugal (PT)9
Indonesia (ID)9
China (CN)8
Austria (AT)8
Czech Republic (CZ)8
Greece (GR)7
Malta (MT)6
Colombia (CO)5
Peru (PE)5
Morocco (MA)5
Finland (FI)5
Argentina (AR)5
Hungary (HU)5
Bulgaria (BG)5
El Salvador (SV)5
Vietnam (VN)5
Russian Federation (RU)4
Egypt (EG)4
Nepal (NP)4
Oman (OM)4
Venezuela (VE)4
Chile (CL)4
Puerto Rico (PR)4
Sri Lanka (LK)4
Guatemala (GT)4
Kuwait (KW)4
Serbia (RS)3
Jamaica (JM)3
Taiwan (TW)3
Iran, Islamic Republic of (IR)3
Estonia (EE)3
Trinidad and Tobago (TT)2
Moldova, Republic of (MD)2
Iceland (IS)2
Uruguay (UY)2
Latvia (LV)2
Panama (PA)2
Lithuania (LT)2
Ecuador (EC)2
Slovenia (SI)2
Bahrain (BH)2
Qatar (QA)2
Bangladesh (BD)2
Tunisia (TN)2
Lebanon (LB)2
Croatia (HR)2
Cyprus (CY)2
Bahamas (BS)1
Kenya (KE)1
Algeria (DZ)1
Maldives (MV)1
Zambia (ZM)1
Georgia (GE)1
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BA)1
Aruba (AW)1
Senegal (SN)1
Netherlands Antilles (AN)1
Yemen (YE)1
Ukraine (UA)1
Costa Rica (CR)1
Macedonia (MK)1
Dominica (DM)1

Friday, December 05, 2008

Christmas Cakes For The Bride To Be

Because I apparently have nothing better to blog about than cakes, here is my most recent creation.

I made these cakes for a bridal shower for a friend of mine. Everyone was asked to bring a Christmas ornament for the couple's first Christmas tree together. I, being the cake person that I am, was inspired to make Christmas ornament cakes! I did them in the colors that Cindy, the bride, had suggested for ornaments for their tree. Red and gold & Blue and silver. I used a Wilton pan designed for making sports balls etc. You bake the two halves and then "glue" them together with icing. Each ball is a different flavor of cake and they're all iced in butter cream. The tops are mini peanut butter cups wrapped in gold foil. If you look closely you can see that I used some florists wire to make the hangy-loop-part coming out of the top. To give the cakes more of a shiny, Christmas ornament look, I "painted" them with colored shimmer powder, also made by Wilton.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Skoda Fabia The Original Cake Car

The cake decorator in me was amazed by this.

You can watch how they did it here.

Finale Cake from Wilton's Course 3

This was the finale cake that I made in Wilton's Course 3. The bottom tier is a butter pecan cake, torted, with a layer of chocolate cake in between. The top tier is chocolate. They are both filled and iced with cappuccino icing and then covered in rolled fondant. The flowers are petunias done in Royal Icing and the border is done in butter cream. I'm not a fan of the pillar look, I prefer the stacked tiered cake over this. I took this one to work with me and fed it to people. :o)

It has obviously taken me a long time to get this posted. I'll admit that I haven't been very inspired to write much on here lately and when I have had something to post, like the above cake, I haven't had the time to do it. :( I've been trying to catch up on reading other people's blogs recently. Maybe I can also improve in the area of keeping my own blog up to date....we'll see.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wilton Course 3: Fondant and Tiered Cakes

Right now I am taking Course 3 of the Wilton cake decorating classes. This is the first of my class projects.

It was an 8x8 chocolate cake with cappuccino filling, covered in fondant. It was way easier to cover a cake with fondant than I had imagined it would be. I took some creative liberties with the design because I didn't like everything about the example in the book. I like mine better. :) The full bow on top was something to learn from. I'll do a few things differently the next time I try one of those. I gave this cake to Raysha, the best India roommate ever, for her birthday.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Birthday Bash: 2nd Edition.

This weekend I went to Saskatoon so that I could make the cake for Cadence's second birthday party. I hope that it will become a tradition for me to make this Little girl's birthday cakes. I made a cake for her baby shower and I also made her first birthday cake. I decided this year to make a two tiered cake for a two year old girl. :)

The cake

The kid and her cake.

The cake on the kid.

Opening up her gifts.

Making room for herself in the car.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Somehow It Always Does...

This past weekend Jennifer Jade Kerr released her debut album, Somehow it always does... I was so excited to be able to attend the release party on Saturday night. Jennifer gave a great show despite the fact that she was sick. She has great honesty and authenticity in both her music and her stage presence. If you weren't at the release party and you haven't yet gotten your hands on the cd you can check out some of her stuff on her myspace page. Also, check out her website

This week Jennifer is moving to Kelowna, BC where she will work with a Lutheran church as the director of youth and young adults. I'm sad to see her go but glad that she is following God's leading on her life. Jennifer's decision to leave Saskatchewan has affected my life in various ways, I have taken over her position as Registrar of Western Christian College and I've also moved in with her former roommate, Kim. So far both are working out wonderfully. So thanks Jennifer! :)

Love this girl!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Happy 2nd Birthday Little Girl!

It has been a long time since I have blogged about my all time favorite topic. Can anyone guess what (who) that is? Her name is Cadence and she stole my heart on the day she was born, two years ago yesterday. I reflected on this special day a year ago, and also included a picture from the day she was born and another from the day she turned one. I couldn't be in Saskatoon yesterday to get an "official" birthday picture but the one I've included below was taken last weekend when I was there. Isn't she cute? Everybody say "Aaaaaaaaaaah"! :)

This time last year Cadence wasn't walking on her own but now she's walking and running and getting into all kinds of mischief. She still doesn't say much at this point but she has her own ways of communicating her wants and needs.

While I was away in India I missed my Little girl so much. After being gone for 6 months I had become somewhat unfamiliar to her and that was a little hard on me. I'm glad that I've been able to spend enough time with her since getting back that she knows me again.

Happy second birthday Little girl!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy One Hundredth!

Yesterday Bella Dobni, one of the residents of the care home where I used to work, turned 100. I had decided some time ago that I wanted to make her a cake. It's not every day that you get the opportunity to make a hundredth birthday cake!

The base tier was chocolate fudge, the middle tier was butter pecan and the top tier was french vanilla. It was iced in butter cream with fondant numbers and a fondant banner. It was my first time using real flowers on a cake. I wasn't completely satisfied with how it worked out but it was something to learn from for the next time. The evening before I went to five different stores before I found white roses. I was beginning to worry but my perseverance payed off and I found some pretty nice ones. The care home put on a big BBQ to celebrate and all of the resident's families were invited. It is apparently going to become an annual event. The cake was a big hit with everyone. Bella loved it which made me very happy.

Bella with her cake. She looks pretty good for 100!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cake Wrecks

Last week Lisa introduced me to the Cake Wrecks Blog. The subtitle of the blog is "When professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong." This blog has given me much amusement. Go check it out, it's worth it!

Another Cake :)

On Sunday night my friend Jennifer Wallace sent me a message on facebook asking if I could decorate a cake for Jessica, her sister in law, and her daughter, Addyson's baby shower that was going to be on Friday evening. In the back of my mind I knew that there was a possibility that I would be moving to Regina this weekend but I agreed to make the cake anyway. Jennifer gave me creative license on the project and this is what I ended up with.

It was two layers, one chocolate and one vanilla. Iced in butter cream and the details are done in fondant. Jennifer did tell me that Jessica's favorite color is blue even though Addyson is a girl. So I tried to incorporate the blue without making the cake look like it was for a baby boy. The little pink footprints were made using a mold. The cake was a big hit at the shower which made me happy.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My Next Step

I find it interesting and somewhat amusing that my life never seems to go the way I plan it. God likes to mix things up on me. While I was in India I did a lot of praying about what I would do when I got back to Canada. There was really only one thing that was clear to me and that was that I needed to spend some time in Canada for a while and not run off to another foreigner country for an extended period of time, which had been my original plan. I knew coming back to Canada that I needed to take some time to take care of some health issues before I could go back to work. I am very glad that antibiotics cleared up the bacterial infection that I picked up while in India and I've started some new treatment for my sciatic nerve problems. (Look for more info on that in a future blog post.)

I knew that with the back pain I've been experiencing for so long that I would not be able to return to my former job at the personal care home even though I loved that job. I did think that maybe I could take an eight month program geared toward that field while I tried to get my back straightened out. I wasn't super keen on the idea of going back to school right now but I decided that I would do my part of sending in an application and that God could decide from there. I sent in my application while I was still in India and I was pretty confident that I would get in. I was actually pretty shocked when some circumstances out of my control arose that delayed me acceptance until it was too late and all the places were filled. "Um, ok God. I did say it was your decision on whether I got in or not. So what do you have you sleeve for me now???"

Shortly after I had returned from India and before I had found out that I wasn't going to school I had received an email from Stan Helton, the dean of Western Christian College, asking if I would be looking for work in the fall. That wasn't in my plans but out of curiosity I replied asking why. He informed me that there was a likely possibility he would be in need of a new college registrar and he thought I would be a could candidate for the job. To be completely honest, I laughed out loud when I got that email. I can't help but wonder if God was laughing right along with me, knowing exactly what he was planning.

Some different things happened that lead me to at least begin praying about whether I should apply for the position. In the end I submitted my resume with the mindset that I took the step but that it was God's decision from there. On Thursday I got a call from WCC offering me the position starting on Monday. And God, being the amazing God that he is, already had a home and roommate lined up for me before I even got the job!

In some ways I am sad to be leaving Saskatoon again so soon. I love being close to my family, Lisa, Paul and Cadence and I love the church here. At the same time Regina is not too far from Saskatoon that I can't make regular trips back here. I'm already planning on being back next weekend. And I do have a lot of good friends in Regina as well. I'm both excited and nervous about this new phase of my life that is about to start. Mostly I am excited about the ministry opportunity that this new job is. God is so good to me and I am so grateful!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Memories of a Friend Gone Too Soon.

One year ago today my friend Brian Windell was killed in a car accident. Brian and I graduated together from Western Christian College in 1999. The news of his death came as a horrifying shock to me. I have thought of him and his family often over this last year. There are many emotions involved when someone you care about leaves this world. It's because of my struggle to deal with those emotions that I haven't written anything about this before now. In some ways I still don't feel ready to write.

Brian was a good friend. Always there with an ear to listen and an encouraging word or simply a shoulder to cry on, if that was what was needed. I have fond memories of camp fire devos, late night walks and deep conversations. The high school drama team had a performance in Bozeman, Montana once and Brian tagged along to visit family. On the drive back home, there were some amazing northern lights in the sky. It turned out that Brian had never seen them before. It was hard for me to decide which to watch, the lights in the sky or Brian's amazement at God's magnificent display. Another memory that sticks out in my mind is of our grade 12 camping trip. A lot of crazy things happened that weekend including blowing up part of a chimney with a butane cartridge from a cordless curling iron late one night. Brian loved playing with fire. After we had been sufficiently reamed out by Momma G the group of us decided to go for a walk. For some reason everyone else lagged way behind and it ended up just being Brian and I for a long time. I wish I could remember the details of our conversation that night but I can't. I do remember we shared about some of our struggles and our goals and dreams for the future. Eventually the rest of our group caught up to us and Brian had the idea of hiding in the ditch until they had gone past us. He looked at me and asked if I could scream, I simply grinned and then screamed at the top of my lungs. We could hear one of our friends, Jeannie, get really upset and the rest of them trying to calm her down and figure out where I was. Brian literally fell to the ground laughing. We shared a pretty good laugh as we all walked back to the campsite. These are just a few of many memories I have of Brian.

After he moved back to the states to go to university Brian and I kept in touch through email. I only saw him two or three times after grade 12 and eventually the frequency of our emails lessened. We may have drifted apart as seems to happen to so many friendships as people go their separate ways but every time we did touch base we picked up exactly where we had left off.

Not very long after hearing of Brian's death I came across my grade 12 address book that had been put together by a classmate. There was room for each student to leave a comment underneath their contact information. Brian wrote about some of his memories from that year, including fire, butane and the northern lights. He finished off by talking about wanting more time to make more memories and wrote, "We'll have plenty of time before long. Just make sure you go to the same place I do. (I'm going up, I like fire and all but not that much)" I never imagined that Brian would be gone so soon. He left behind a wife of five years and an eight month old daughter as well as the rest of his family and friends. I know that we are all looking forward to joining him "up" there one day. Brian's family and friends are especially in my thoughts and prayers today.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

August Long Weekend - Parry Reunion '08

On the weekend we surprised my grandmother with a family reunion. Her plan was to spend the weekend at my aunt's cabin up at Crooked Lake but what she didn't know was that all of her grandkids and great grandkids were going to be there. The only person missing was my Uncle Garth who was unable to make it. The idea was hatched by my cousin, Ashley and my sister, Michelle a few months ago. It all came together pretty well. I was convinced that someone had spilled the beans and that Grandma knew what was going on but apparently she was caught completely off guard. It had been many years since the entire family was in the same place at the same time like this. It was such a wonderful weekend for everyone I think. It was really nice to catch up with everyone and meet some of the newer family members whom I hadn't yet met. It was also great meeting my cousin, Rebecca's fiancé, Geoff and my other cousin, Ashley's boyfriend, Carlos who happens to be from Guinea-Bissau and speaks Portuguese. Speaking with him in Portuguese made me very happy! I posted a ton of pictures on facebook so go check it out.

Group shot of the entire family taken on Saturday.

This is the cake that I made to celebrate the occasion. Any excuse to make a cake! This was my first attempt at a tiered cake, turned out pretty good I think.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Nasty-India-Sickness aka Campylobacteriosis

The verdict is in, my Nasty-India-Sickness that followed me back to Canada has a name. When I got the call I actually had to ask the guy to spell it for me because even after he had said it once or twice I still wouldn't have been able to repeat it. C-A-M-P-Y-L-O-B-A-C-T-E-R-I-O-S-I-S. Now try saying that ten times fast! According to my new friend from the centre of infectious disease control it is a bacterial infection that I most likely acquired from eating infected poultry, pork or beef or drinking unpasteurized milk. He gave me more information than I could ever want on the bacteria and asked me a lot of questions about my travel history and symptoms. I was on the phone with him for at least a half hour. He also told me that normally they don't treat this with antibiotics and just let it run it's course but since I have had symptoms for so long that it would be a good idea to go back to see my doctor so he can prescribe something. So it is back to the doctor for me! And of course after I got off the phone I googled my newly named disease and found a pretty picture of the campylobacter for you all to see.

P.S. The doctor prescribed me some super-antibiotics and so I'm now hopefully on my way to a full recovery! :)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Journey Home - HK and Victoria

My India adventure ended with Hong Kong and then Victoria. I loved Hong Kong the second time around almost as much as the first. That city has everything a person could want. We had some good adventures and ate some great food which was just what I expected. I didn't take many pictures this time but here is a noteworthy one of me and my Rayshma taken at Hong Kong Park. Life just isn't the same without my Rayshma around. :(

When we finally arrived in Vancouver (I think it was a 13 point something hour long flight) I was asking myself why I had thought it was a good idea to schedule 4 days in Victoria instead of just going straight home to Saskatoon. That feeling didn't last long however. Pretty much as soon as I left the airport I was glad I was there. My first highlight was meeting some Brazilians on the bus to the ferry. I love speaking Portuguese with random Brazilian strangers. It's amazing to me how I can become someones new best friend just for the simple fact that I speak their language. I wonder if it is like that with all people or just Brazilians??? I was blown away by the ferry ride to the island. The whole weekend in Victoria reinforced the simple fact that I am definitely a prairie girl. I loved Victoria and I kept telling Crystal that I could easily consider relocating there. My only problem would be that I would have no time for work because I would be too busy playing all the time. :) Peckett and I both love to take pictures so we did a lot of that. If you're on facebook you've probably seen all of these already but I'm posting them here anyway.

Peckett at the lookout on top of Mt. Doug.

Also taken on Mt. Doug.

Feeding the seals at Fisherman's Warf. There were really cool houseboats here.

Another Pamela is definitely a prairie girl moment.

We found some really cool trees in Beacon Hill Park.

Almost like a hammock.

Taken at Balmacarra Beach

You can't tell but this tree was actually hanging out over a cliff...I don't like heights, I was being brave!

I really like driftwood.

Maybe the coolest piece of driftwood I saw all weekend.

Crystal and her fiancé, Brian. They weren't yet engaged at the time of this photo.

So good spending time with this wonderful girl! I really enjoyed having her show me around "her island"

This was taken at Island View Beach.

My new little driftwood home.

Hiking at Pickles' Bluff...what kind of a name is that? And why is Crystal on her cell phone in the middle of the bush?

Watching the sunset off of the breakwater at Ogden Point.

And this was maybe the most random thing I saw while in Victoria. Darth Vader playing the violin. weird.

Crystal thank you so much for an amazing and unforgettable weekend. You made coming home incredibly special for me! You also stuck with me during the worst of my jet lag which is impressive! I think I may be slightly sillier when I haven't slept in 36 hours. Or maybe just less understandable. :)

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Journey Home - Kolkata

Well, I guess it is about time that I tell the story of our trip home. It was a long trip to say the least. We left Guwahati on Saturday morning. It poured the entire drive to the airport. And when I say poured I'm talking about the sky being opened and the waters of heaven pouring down! When we arrived at the hotel in Kolkata we discovered that our suitcases that had been tied to the top of the Sumo with a tarp over them had been soaked. So we unpacked our suitcases and turned our hotel room into a mock clothesline.

In January we spent a couple nights in Kolkata but we didn't get to see very much of the city. We had some sickies on that trip so we hung out in the hotel instead. It was a lot of fun to go and see some of the city this time around.

Sunday we worshiped at the home of Swami and Violet. Violet made us an amazing lunch. She served us her fried chicken which is famous among the Canadians who have visited her house.
After lunch Ray took Raysha and me on a little adventure. The pouring rain that we had left behind in Guwahati found us in Kolkata and proceeded to drench us to the bone. I will always remember making our way from the taxi to the subway in the rain. It was if we were wading upstream or something. First we went to see the Victoria Memorial. We didn't go inside because it cost a ridiculous amount of money. It was one of those "Indians pay 20 rupees and foreigners pay a gazillion times as much" situations. I hear there's not much to see inside anyway. It looked pretty nice from the outside.

We then took a cab to the Missionaries of Charity's Motherhouse. The Missionaries of Charity is Mother Teresa's order. Inside the Motherhouse there is a small museum type display outlining the life and work of Mother Teresa. Her tomb is also there for viewing. I had just finished reading her biography written by Navin Chawla. I would certainly recommend it. It gives a lot of insight into the work that Mother Teresa was passionate about, serving the poorest of the poor. After seeing the Motherhouse we went down the street to the Shishu Bawan, children's home. We arrived only 15 minutes before the Shishu Bawan was supposed to be closed to visitors, one of the sisters kindly showed us around despite that fact. It was supper time for the children but we still visited many different areas. We saw children and infants who were being treated for malnourishment and we saw special needs children with varying degrees of disabilities. We visited with children of all ages. The only area that we were not permitted to go was the intensive care area for premature infants. My visit to the Shishu Bawan may have been short but it left a deep impression on me. When I return to India I would like to schedule one or two weeks in Kolkata for the purpose of volunteering with the work of the Missionaries of Charity. Go read the book by Navin Chawla to find out about what these dedicated people are doing all over the world.

On Monday we went to the market to look around and do some shopping. Ray took us to see the Fairlawn Hotel where the movie City of Joy starring Patrick Swayze was filmed. I haven't seen the movie but I'm gonna check it out.

Ray's shoes were in desperate need of a shine after wading through the water the previous day. Notice this guy only has one arm and one leg. Watching him tie the laces was pretty impressive.

Didn't see any of these rickshaws in Guwahati, only Cycle rickshaws.

My very first rickshaw ride was on my very last day in India.

Our flight out of Kolkata was super early Tuesday morning which really just felt like Monday night. It felt pretty surreal since I hadn't quite wrapped my mind around the fact that I was leaving India. Surprisingly there were no delays or hitches of any kind regarding our travel. Unless you factor in that Andrew spent that entire night vomiting. I felt so bad for the poor kid. He was a trooper though and by the next day in Hong Kong he was doing better. I'll save that leg of the journey for another post. To wrap up my adventures in India I'll leave you with this photo. It pretty much sums it all up.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Birthdays Birthdays Everywhere

Yesterday was a very special day. Most importantly it was my brother, Dirk's 30th birthday! Happy Birthday Dirk! He had a wiener roast party with some friends from work on Friday night and so I made him a cake. He is a little bit of (and by that I mean HUGE) Star Wars fan. So I decided I wanted to do something Star Wars related. Here is what I came up with.


I got a little creative with this one. There are actually FIVE cakes that make up R2D2. The body is 3 8" round cakes stacked on top of each other. I baked a fourth cake in a pyrex bowl for the head and his legs were baked in a long loaf pan. I then cut and shaped the loaf into two legs. I inserted 4 plastic dowels into the 2 bottom round cakes and place a cardboard circle for support before adding the third round cake and the bowl cake on top. I then inserted a long plastic dowel through the middle of all four cakes to give it some stability. I also inserted plastic straws down the length of the legs to add support. I iced it with white and grey buttercream icing. The detailing is done in blue and grey fondant and then some grey buttercream piping. I was running out of time and icing near the end so the legs and some of the details are not as nice as I would have liked. It was my first time using fondant and making more than a two layer cake. Both worked out pretty well for me and I'm looking forward to playing around with the techniques on future cakes.

The other reason that yesterday was a special day was it was Canada's 141st birthday. I didn't make a cake, too much R2D2 left over! I did go watch the fireworks with Dirk and his friend Devon though. I like fireworks. Good times. Happy Birthday Canada.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sentence Finally Given

I know you are all expecting the tale of my journey home but this post doesn't actually require me to do much writing and is therefor less time consuming.

The two men who were found guilty of breaking into my father's home and attacking him and my brother were sentenced yesterday. You can read the article that was run in today's StarPhoenix newspaper below or it can be found online here. Please note that there is a typo. My father is 55 years old not 59.

Assault on father, son leads to jail time

Betty Ann Adam, The StarPhoenix

Published: Thursday, June 26, 2008

Two men who forced their way into a rural home and assaulted a father and son inside are going to prison.

Justice Ian McLellan had no pity for William Kominetsky, who was shot in the stomach by the Pike Lake-area homeowner he was assaulting on the rainy night of June 17, 2005.

McLellan refused to consider Kominetsky's wound a mitigating factor, saying he was the author of his own misfortune.

Kominetsky, 39, was sentenced to 41/2 years in prison for break and enter and assault causing bodily harm against Robert Stonehouse, 59, who later suffered a trauma-induced stroke from the attack.

Stonehouse also suffered a gunshot wound from the same bullet that pierced Kominetsky's stomach.

Stonehouse inadvertently shot through his own side as he reached across his front and tried to fire behind himself at Kominetsky, who was holding him face down on the sofa and punching his head.

Thomas Johnson, 31, was sentenced to 30 months for break and enter and assaulting Stonehouse's son, Dirk Stonehouse, 29.

Both offenders will have their DNA profiles entered in the national data bank and are prohibited from possessing firearms for the rest of their lives.

Crown prosecutor Sandeep Bains said it was a very disturbing case in which strangers entered a rural home and committed violence upon the occupants.

The prison sentences send "a significant message to the community" that people who commit home invasions will be dealt with seriously, Bains said.

Both Stonehouses used firearms from their collection to repel the intruders and were themselves charged with attempted murder. Both spent a weekend in custody before the charges were dropped.

The elder Stonehouse suffered the stroke while in custody and was taken to hospital, but returned to cells three times in one night, he said in an interview.

Roger Kergoat, Johnson's lawyer, said the incident occurred when rain prevented Johnson and Kominetsky from camping out and they decided to try to collect an alleged debt while they were in the area.

Both were drunk and belligerent when they knocked on the Stonehouse door and Johnson demanded money, McLellan found.

Robert Stonehouse said he had never met Kominetsky before and didn't recognize Johnson, who had worked for him briefly, years earlier.

Johnson punched Dirk Stonehouse and Kominetsky pushed past them into the house, McLellan found.

Robert Stonehouse hurried to call 911 but the call didn't go through because his son was using dial-up Internet.

Stonehouse managed to seize his .25-calibre pistol from the pocket of his armchair and warned Kominetsky but it did no good and Kominetsky attacked him.

Kominetsky punched Stonehouse on the couch and didn't stop even after he was shot in the stomach.

Dirk Stonehouse, meanwhile, had locked Johnson out of the house and tried to help his father. Kominetsky didn't respond when the younger Stonehouse punched him in the head and warned he would get a shotgun.

Before he could get the weapon, Dirk Stonehouse had to fight off Johnson, who had heard the shot and broken in again to help Kominetsky.

Dirk Stonehouse struck Kominetsky on the head with the shotgun barrel and the weapon discharged, though no one apparently was shot by it.

After the intruders left, police were notified.

When Kominetsky and Johnson were arrested they told police Stonehouse invited them over and then tried to kill them.

RCMP obtained a search warrant for the Stonehouse property and arrested and charged the victims.

Robert Stonehouse said outside court RCMP caused about $10,000 damage during the search and he still has not received back about $30,000 in property seized at that time, despite the fact it has been three years since the incident. He said he intends to take legal action.

McLellan on Wednesday ordered the return of Crown exhibits in the case but those do not apparently include the property Stonehouse alleges was seized.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Home Again

This will just be a quick post to let you all know that I arrived home in Saskatoon in one piece. Yesterday was my first day at home and it was definitely a full one. The next few days promise to be just as busy so I'm not anticipating any time to dedicate to blogging in the immediate future. Hopefully I'll catch you up on the epic return journey sometime soon and then my blog is bound to revert back to it's boring pre-India self again. :) If you're in the Saskatoon area give me a call and maybe we can get together. I'd love to tell you about the adventures in person.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Saying Goodbye To My Kids.

This past Tuesday was our first day back at Kalapani after being away for two weeks. As I was walking up to the school building I heard some kids yell out "Miss". Then Chetan and Sushil came running out of the classroom calling "Good morning Miss! Good morning Miss!" And one after the other they ran up to me with arms open wide and grabbed me in probably the best hug I have ever received. It nearly brought tears to my eyes and I've gotten a little teary eyed when I have thought about it since. A child giving someone a hug might not seem like that big of a deal to us in North America but here in India people don't really give hugs. Everyone shakes hands instead. This has been a bit of an adjustment for me because I like hugs. It has been hard saying goodbye to people and not being able to hug them. For me a shake of the hand just doesn't seem to bring enough closure. This unabashed show of affection from Chetan and Sushil really made my day. I know that it is going to be one of my fondest memories of India when I go home. That small event has given me some confidence that maybe I did make a bit of a difference in these children's lives.

Chetan on the left and Sushil on the right. I made them pose for this picture after class on Tuesday. Not only are hugs uncommon but so is smiling for the camera!

Today we went out to Kalapani for the last time. We have been going to the school twice a week and teaching stories from the life of Christ. (We also taught Sunday school using Old Testament stories.) We wrapped up our lessons on Tuesday with the story of the crucifixion and resurrection and today we had a fun day of presentations and goodbyes.

From the very first day that I went to Kalapani I fell in love with those kids. That first day they had no idea what to make of these white Canadians girls. Now just walking up the road to the school we are greeted with shouts of "Good morning Miss!" no matter what time of day. And on our way back down we are sure to be sent off with a "Goodbye Miss!" Even the parents of the children often greet us. I've gone from not knowing how to even pronounce their names to only confusing a few of their names because they look so much alike. Some of them have gone from being too shy to even try to speak English to being able to say some simple phrases. Spoken communication has been difficult but unspoken communication has happened on so many levels.

Today was a difficult day for me. I knew saying goodbye was going to be hard but I never imagined that my heart would hurt as much as it does. We started out our morning by handing out folders with all of the worksheets that they have done with us over the last 5 months. We also presented each child with a photograph of themselves. These kids have most likely never had their photos taken until we came along. They get so excited every time I pull out my camera and they always want to see the picture after I have taken it. I think they were pretty pleased when I gave them their photos today. As I called them each up one by one I went against the cultural norm and gave them each a hug. Some of them were eager to hug me and others didn't seem to know how to respond. We spent some time singing their favorite songs and then we went outside for a class photograph.

It was unfortunate that there were only 39 out of 53 of the students there today.

After our photo shoot we had one last go at "What time is it Mr. Wolf?" They really do love that game although sometimes their "What time is it Mr. Wolf?" comes out more like, "Wat choo a et mor woog?" or something of the sort. :) After they were all played out we served them cookies that Raysha and I had made last night. Soon enough it was time for them to be dismissed and the inevitable goodbye had come. I tried to say a little something but pretty much started to cry on the spot. They all kind of stared at me dumbly and I know they were thinking, "Why is Miss crying???" I think that most of them understood that this was the last time that we were going to see them as they all came and said goodbye two or three times. I was blown numerous kisses from Laxmi as she walked down the road and I was pretty much just a big blubbering baby.

I love those kids and I pray that the seeds that were planted in their hearts during our short time with them will one day grow into faith. Please join me in praying for these very precious children. Thank you to all of you who have chosen an individual child to pray for. There are still 10 more children who have not been chosen by someone. This includes one new student, Hinangshu Sinha who started coming to school while we were away. The others are Raj Chetri, Brine Marak, Aditya Singha, Emon Sangma, Ujjal Kalita, Sujal Singha, Rahit Sharma, Pawan Chetri, and Udiptta Sharma. You will find their photos here. Go and choose one and leave a comment letting me know. Thanks.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Five Months

Today marks five month since we left Canada. That means that in two weeks from today I will be back in Saskatoon. We are leaving Guwahati in four days. FOUR DAYS! It feels surreal. I've already started to assemble the complicated puzzle that is the contents of my suitcases. I'm beginning to think that packing could be considered and art form.

This is my travel schedule:

June 14
12:00pm, depart Guwahati - 1:10pm, arrive in Kolkata.

June 17
1:45am, depart Kolkata - 5:40am arrive in Bangkok.
8:00am, depart Bangkok - 11:45am arrive in Hong Kong.

June 19
12:45pm, depart Hong Kong - 10:00am arrive in Vancouver.

June 22
7:25pm, depart Victoria - 9:45pm arrive in Calgary.
10:40pm, depart Calgary - 11:45pm arrive in Saskatoon.

The McPerhouses will be hanging out in Calcutta for a few days and then spending a few days in Hong Kong with Harmony. I'm looking forward to seeing more of Calcutta than I did the first time but I'm not looking forward to the heat and humidity that we are going to encounter there. They tell me that it's worse than Guwahati, which is hard for me to imagine. I am really looking forward to seeing Harm again and eating some incredible Chinese food. That's probably my favorite memory of our first time in Hong Kong. Such good food! The McPerhouses will be parting ways once we hit Vancouver. I'm heading to Victoria to hang out with my old high school friend Crystal Peckett and the rest of them are headed to Regina. I can hardly wait to see Crystal again and have her show me her BC world. I'm also looking forward to getting home to Saskatoon and seeing my family and friends again. If you're in the Saskatoon area give me a call after the 22nd and we'll catch up.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Aizawl, Mizoram

As I mentioned in my last post Thursday took us from Manipur to Mizoram. The city of Aizawl to be exact. Both Autumn and Andrew were super excited to finally be returning to Aizawl. It is where they lived before they came to Guwahati in January. After spending time with them in Aizawl I now know why they like it so much. It really is a very nice place, very different from anywhere I have been in the North East.

Taken on the road between Aizawl and the airport. The drive from the airport to Aizawl was spectacular!

Aizawl is unlike any city I have ever visited before. It is a city on a hill, or if you are from Saskatchewan, a mountain.

It amazed me how all of the buildings were built on stilts on the side of the mountain. I can't even imagine the devastation that would occur if there was an earthquake.

Our time in Aizawl consisted of lots of visiting. Our first visit was to Supreme and Mary's house. They have a daughter, Shristi and an infant son, Christopher.

Here I am with Shristi and Christopher. Christopher was not at all fond of us white people. He cried when he looked at any of us. Lucky for me he didn't realized it was a white girl holding him until after we took the picture.

On Friday we went to visit the former campus of Silver Oak School where the McMillans used to live and work. A beautiful place that is now owned by the Indian Border Patrol. We also went to visit the new school which operates under the name Dr. Saptea Memorial School. Autumn and Andrew had the chance to visit with some of their old friends and classmates.

This was take at Dr. Saptea Memorial School...Nice view.

This shot was also take from the school.

Friday evening we had supper at Ginpu and Alemla's house. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of their family. Their daughter, Aran, is Autumn's age and their son, Dodong, is Andrew's age. Both Autumn and Andrew spent a couple of nights sleeping over at their house. Alemla is an amazing cook and a very pleasant lady to visit with. While we were there Aran took Raysha and Autumn and I to the highest point in Aizawl, maybe the highest point in all of Mizoram. It was a steep and precarious climb but the view of the city and the sunset was definitely worth it. I took a ridiculous number of photos and I had a very hard time choosing only a couple to post.

On Saturday we had lunch at Pu Moia's house. He entertained us with stories from his trip to the UK. He works with the Gideon's distributing Bibles in various Indian languages.

Pu Moia then took us to meet Becky's mom. I was really glad to have that opportunity.

Saturday afternoon Ray and Ellen took us to the big market in Aizawl. It was quite the experience with lots to see and of course lots of people. Ray and Ellen bought both Raysha and I a Mizo Puan, a wrap around skirt, as a thank you gift. There were literally hundreds to choose from so it was very difficult to make a decision. I absolutely love mine and I am very excited to wear it when I get home to Canada. I can't imagine wearing it in the heat of Guwahati, not even in the cooler temperatures of Aizawl. I'm not sure how the Mizo women can stand it. I would surely melt into a puddle!

Early Sunday morning I became sick again. It was really disappointing for me because it meant that I had to miss out on meeting a lot of people. I stayed at the hotel all day on Sunday and most of Monday. Monday night I did join everyone for supper at Ginpu and Alemla's house again.

Before we knew it Tuesday had arrived and it was time for us to head back to Guwahati. It was a beautiful sunny day and it stayed that way up until we arrived at the airport. The sky darkened and then unleashed a huge amount of wind and rain. We sat around the airport for a very long time before they finally announced that the flight was canceled. Canceled flights to and from Aizawl are not uncommon at this time of year with the Monsoon starting. The rain had stopped by the time we were making our way back up the mountain to Aizawl. Along the way we encountered a major landslide that had blocked the road. Eventually they were able to clear it away and the traffic slowly filtered through. There were many other small slides along the way but none that blocked the road.

The hills were even more beautiful after the rain. The clouds appeared to be almost resting in the valleys. Quite a sight to see.

The cancellation of our flight offered more opportunity for visiting. Wednesday's flight was booked solid so we had to get tickets on Thursday's flight. Every extra minute was well used. I know that Autumn was glad to have a couple of extra days. On Tuesday morning before we left the hotel she had said that she hoped our flight would be canceled. She got her wish.

My two favorite kids and I hanging out at the hotel.

We awoke to rainy weather on Thursday morning which made us wonder if our flight would be canceled again. Luckily by the time we reached the airport everything had cleared off. If the flight had been canceled our next option was to take a bus. Aizawl is 525 kms from Guwahati which would have taken 18 hours by bus. I was much happier to spend an hour on the airplane. The trip was great but it was very good to come home.

The last but not least of my news from our wonderful trip to Manipur and Mizoram was that I finally learned to solve the Rubik's Cube. Raysha started teaching me back in January when we first arrived. I said back then that I wanted to be able to solve it before leaving India. Figuring it out by myself didn't work so well but the mission was accomplished thanks to a lot of patient instruction from Raysha.