Chicken Fettucine

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Now this casserole is sure to please the fussy and the avid eater alike. And anything that is one dish is a winner.

All you need is:

1 small Chicken

½ pound Fettucine

2 cups grated Cheese

1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

And

Miscellaneous: ½ onion chopped, 4 small cloves garlic grated, 1 teaspoon black or white pepper, 1 teaspoon flaked chili, seasoning salt or regular salt to taste, homemade marinade, 1 teaspoon oil

 

 

What to Do:

Wash and cut up chicken. To give you an average of how much chicken I used, the little one cost $9.95.

Season chicken with marinade. My marinade is a blend of cilantro, green onions, parsley and garlic. Marinade is non-negotiable for me.

Boil chicken in about 9 cups of water until it is tender for approx. 30 minutes.

I eyeballed the water but had to go back and measure it for this post. I kept the boil on low-medium. High boiling evaporates the liquid too quickly so watch the temperature of your stove. And distractions like the TV.

When chicken is cool, de-bone and shred in bite size pieces. Set aside.

Keep back 2 cups of the chicken stock for the casserole.

Boil fettucine in the remaining stock, adding more water if needed.  Remove fettucine when it is al dente, that is, slightly firm and a bit undercooked. Drain off any excess liquid. Very coincidentally the stock was the exact amount I needed, so there was no need to drain off. How’s that for free-hand cooking!

In a large bowl mix together the chicken, soup, 1 cup cheese, onion, garlic, chili flakes, pepper, and the 2 cups chicken stock. Add the fettucine and toss thoroughly until the mixture is evenly spread. Add salt if needed.

Grease a baking dish with a little oil and pour in the mixture.

Heat oven to 350 and bake for 35-40 minutes or until cheese is melted and begins to brown.

I always bake an extra 5 minutes after that to get a crisp, brown crust.

 

Have you tried this dish or done variations to it? Post them in the comments below.

Letter to EU GDPR subscriber

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Dear _____, 

I hope this gorgeous spring day finds you well.

I am writing to you about the newly required Compliance with the EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) which takes effect on May 25, 2018.

I’d like to assure you of the following: I have a Privacy notice on my website which assures that your privacy is protected. You can read it at https://www.susanharris.ca/privacy-policy/

As a reminder I’d like to say that I am collecting personal data of your name and email address only for purposes of sending you my e-newsletter for which you voluntarily subscribed. Do note that you can unsubscribe anytime by simply clicking the Unsubscribe button at the bottom of the newsletter.

I use MailerLite email platform to publish my newsletter, and therefore it is a third party that will have access to your name and email address. Please let me know if this is permissible. If you are not comfortable with the sharing of your name and email address with my newsletter carrier, please let me know and I will unsubscribe you immediately. (MailerLite has promised its users that they will not be sharing the email contacts with any third party.)

Your data will be stored for the length of time you remain a subscriber to my newsletter. Do note that each time a newsletter is sent (which is currently on a bi-monthly basis), the option to unsubscribe is given. This implies that your data is kept on a bi-monthly basis, which is automatically renewed until the unsubscribe button is clicked. You can also inform me if you’d like to unsubscribe and I will ensure that your data is removed.

I recognize that you have entrusted your personal data to me and for this I thank you. I pledge to be responsible and transparent in its usage, which at this time is for my e-newsletter only.

Since you and I have been friends before the days of social media, and you shared your personal data with me then, I will continue to communicate with you via email and social media outside of the parameters of the e-newsletter.

Please let me know if I can answer any questions. Please also let me know if you wish to remain a subscriber of my e-newsletter or if you wish to be removed from it by May 24, 2018. I would love to keep you on as a subscriber but I will not assume automatic opt-in in keeping with the regulation. Therefore I hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Susan

Walking, and Lean

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The horizontal blue line points to our house, and it’s 415 steps to the back door

With a Snowfall Warning of 10 cm of snow to begin falling today I decided to take two walks, one for today and the other for tomorrow when no doubt walking would be an impossibility. A second push for extreme winter will begin on Sunday and into Monday-Tuesday, but I’ll take two days at a time. With a biting wind chill making it feel like 19°C and  discouraging loitering, I’ll do the same with this blog and get to the point.

Walking is  really a leisurely stroll. I do not wear a pedometer because I’ve not changed the batteries in mine, but more so it’s because I’ve found a way around it. I count my steps manually. It sounds kinds of nerdy but it keeps me focused and aware of what I’m doing. I treat it like a Lean exercise, all about improvement, value and productivity. I maintain accuracy and keep it scientific by jotting into Notes on my iPhone.

Here are my stats for Walk 1 today’s walk. (Each has to be multiplied by two to factor in the return trip):

10 steps from backdoor to yard.

405 steps from yard to the blue line in the photo below.

360 steps along blue line to highway. (I stop at the Stop sign.)

That’s a return total of 1,550 steps.

A step or pace measure approx. 26 inches, bringing Walk 1 to  just above half a mile (.513 miles or .82 km).

Walk 2 (for tomorrow)

1330 steps from blue line going north to farm on second photo.

That a return trip of 2660 steps which is just over a mile (1.1 miles or 1.76 km)

Total walking distance is about 1.6 miles or 2.6 km.

My USUAL ROUTE is from back door to farm return, and not going up to the highway. That is usually 3,470 steps or nearly one and a half miles (1.4 miles or 2.29 km) which I usually do in 40 minutes but 60 if I include spending time with the cats.

I had taken a similar count in summer and the results were significantly different. The reason? I take smaller steps in the snow and hence have a higher step count.

Can you spot Eiffel?

The main reason I walk to the farm is to see the cats. Sir Smokey was all furry-purry and happy. Eiffel was his usual crazy wild self, peeping from the rafter nears the planters safe from being touched. As if anyone wanted to touch him! (no sour grapes, right?)

Walking is not about capturing distance. It is the fresh air, the serene fields, the delightful animals (excluding bears and coyotes), the healthiness of being outside in a clean environment, exercising my body and keeping “youthful” in the coolness that preserves the skin. The ability to use Lean to improve my overall lifestyle self as I’ve done in my business practices. I’ve found that walking in the countryside brings thoughts of God more naturally than walking elsewhere and for this I am grateful.

How do you keep your walking fresh and exciting?

White Teeth

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Recently on a visit over coffee my friend commented, “How do you keep your teeth white?”

I replied immediately that this would be the subject of my next blog post. I’ve been asked that question as much as I’ve talked about the weather. And the reasons can be as varied as the weather when one factors in genetics, enamel density, medical issues, habits, lifestyle and such like. But whereas the weather swings in extremes, my routine is simple and stable. They are not really secrets but choices and practices that anyone can adopt. Here’s what I told my friend:

  1. I brush my teeth frequently, but at least twice a day at minimum and always as soon as I wake up. I don’t eat breakfast but getting the “sleep film” off my teeth before I have coffee ensures that added accumulation from coffee does not compound on my pearlies.
  2. Coffee stains. Look at a white teacup immediately after you drink coffee and you’d notice the staining is already apparent. I usually take milk with my coffee and this in itself reduces the staining effects. Further, I always rinse or drink water after having coffee, and even if on the rare occasion my coffee is black, having water immediately after dilutes the propensity to stain.
  3. I’m a Diet Pespi girl and consume lots of it – using a straw. The straw ensures the dark cola does not touch my teeth and hence there is no staining.  ( I tried drinking coffee through a straw but dropped that faster than a hot potato. Hot coffee through a straw has laser-like torment; don’t try it.)
  4. I don’t drink alcohol nor smoke thereby eliminating staining caused through related products.
  5. I use teeth-whitening toothpaste, my preferred choice being the Sensodyne brand. (Any toothpaste with baking soda has a whitening effect.) It is not advisable to use teeth-whitening toothpaste 100% of the times so when one tube is finished I switch to a regular kind and then back again.

The coffee gathering at which the question was asked

There are marketed teeth-whitening products on the market but I don’t use them.

What tips and tricks are tried and true for you?

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Do remember to log in the Comments section below to leave a comment. Thanks for visiting my blog, and have a great day.

Becoming Sir Smokey

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Page 2 of letter sent the to Queen. Words obliterated for this blog.

It all started when a woman with a charming accent approached my book table at the tradeshow in Melville at Christmas.

“My mother’s name was Susan Harris.” Her blue eyes and my brown ones sparkled at each other and an animated conversation broke out. She is British and I knew my name Harris traced back to the Governor of Trinidad (1846-1854) when the island was colonized by Britain.  Governor Harris established the education system there and Harris Promenade is named after him.

The woman and her daughter were duly impressed. As far as they knew, they were not related to Governor Harris but nonetheless wanted to check out the lineage.

“What’s his first name?” asked the daughter excitedly. “I’ll check it out on Ancestry dot com.”

Unfortunately, I did not know. I did not even remember that he was Lord Harris, a Baron  of noble birth. Wikipedia names him the Right Honourable George Francis Robert Harris, 3rd Baron Harris, Governor of Trinidad. I had researched the history when his great grand nephew Conrad Harris passed away in 2015 but the details seemed to have been laid to rest with the body.

“I’ll just check Harris and Trinidad. Something will come up.” The daughter concluded with a smile. The mother purchased her books and we parted.

As a writer and researcher my interest soared to the extent where I wanted to create a publication on this notable statesman, a comprehensive record that would serve as a legacy to the family and future generations, as well as for citizens of the island Lord Harris governed. Finding accurate information proved difficult, so I decided to write to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for help in obtaining historical records and photographs from the British  archives. I was keeping the memories of 3rd Baron Harris alive as I had done for the penny in my book, Little Copper Pennies: Celebrating the Life of the Canadian One-cent Piece 1858-2013, so I decided to send a copy of the book to the Queen to support my request. As I searched for a business card to include with the book, my eyes fell on Smokey’s bookmark. The back of it contains a list of my books and my contact information. Gold.

And that’s how Smokey’s picture is winging it’s way to the UK. Like Pussy Cat who had been up to London to visit the Queen, Smokey’s picture will be seen by the Queen in London. How’s that for a lil ol’ cat on the frozen prairies?

Of course this honour mandated recognition. An update to his name. Sir Smokey.

Knighthood requires touching a sword on the right and left shoulders of the person while they kneel. Forget about pointing anything at Smokey. You won’t find him for days! Worse, don’t point a sword, I mean the steak knife I’d substituted. The only interpretation is butchering.

“Kneel Smokey.” He crouched in his final posture as a commoner. Good. The knife is in my hand pointing downward but he does not see it, so all’s okay. I touched his right shoulder, then the left with my other hand.

“I dub thee a Knight.” Blue eyes pierced my brown ones.

“Rise, Sir Smokey.”

He’s frozen.

“Rise, Sir Smokey.”

Sir Smokey rose and darted back to the heated rocks on the spa.

Kitten Smokey. Born September 1, 2011. Knighted Sir Smokey on January 4, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Case for Xmas

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Our Sunday School Christmas concerts in Trinidad were highly anticipated events that drew large audiences annually. The merrily-decorated church was packed year after year with members and well wishers who came out to enjoy the songs, poems and drama presented solo or in groups. The skit from the Teens Class was the highlight that never failed to thrill, and as the final item on the program, it brought a bright and memorable year to a close.

One December, I donned pink and stood on the pulpit with heels together and toes out, my right hand over my left on level with my waist, my shoulders squared. I bowed to the crowd, and stood upright again. Then with every ounce of energy in my tiny 12 year-old body, I belted my monologue:

 

Here’s a question, tell me pray?
Should we call it Xmas day?
Or is it Christmas we should say?
Is it X or Christ?

The audience waited with bated breath as I replied to the rhetorical question posed by a poet whose name I did not know and which an Internet search in 2017 still did not reveal. Xmas was a short and convenient word of the season. It saved ink and space when signing postcards. Was it really a big deal if it’s X or Christ in the “Christmas” word? But in Christian circles it mattered. It mattered immensely, even to this day (run a search), and I too was convinced by the proof I delivered that night.

Who was He of matchless birth?
Heaven’s glory left for earth,
Coming here with lowly birth,
It wasn’t X but Christ.

Who was He that wise men three,
Travelled from afar to see,
Bringing gifts so liberally,
It wasn’t X but Christ.

A few “amens” had rung out from the senior ladies, their heads and hats bobbing up and down.

Who did travel through the land,
Always with a helping hand,
Healing folks at His command,
It wasn’t X but Christ.

Who did die upon the tree?
Suffered there for you and me.
Bore our sins on Calvary,
It wasn’t X but Christ.

The nodding and bobbing had continued though the church was quiet, conviction heavy as my high-pitched tones commanded the night air. Then the verdict was delivered in crescendo, with passion that still marks my person to this day:

Let us then with one accord,
Honour give unto the Lord.
Call it CHRISTMAS, that’s the word!
For it isn’t X, but Christ.

I had executed the poem with intonations and flourishes the way my principal had trained me for choral speaking when I represented my school at age 9, and it accrued a level of sacredness tantamount to the Holy Scripture. I bowed, acknowledged the thunderous clapping and cheers by making eye contact with the crowd from right to left as he had demonstrated to me, before exiting the stage through a side door.  

Decades later the question resurrected as I wrote my Christmas alphabet books. Words beginning with the letter x are often challenging to find, but it was easy this time. Both An Alphabet of the First Christmas and Christmas A to Z  contain the word Xmas, although the other 25 words used in each book are different.

It was during the research for the books that I came across the knowledge that X means Christ in the Greek language. X comes from the Greek letter Chi which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, which in English is Christ. Therefore Xmas was derived by interchanging Christ with to give us Xmas. (http://www.dictionary.com/e/xmas-christogram/). In this context then it is not sacrilegious to use Xmas, for it is in fact Christmas in a combination of letters from two languages. The wise men did bring gifts to X.

Friends on social media, teachers, media personnel and adults in general have observed to me that the origin and meaning of Xmas is new to them, and they discovered this knowledge through my alphabet books. I am pleased that “elementary” alphabet books have brought enlightenment to adults and it is my prayer that I will inspire and educate all the days of my life.

It gives me peace to know that the Bible tells us that any who calls on Jesus Christ shall be saved, and this means “Christ” in any language.

I still wear pink but as an adult I have a different and definitive answer than the preteen in the little church. X or Christ is good for me.

Merry Xmas. Christ is born. I wish you a happy and holy season.

How Not To Kidnap A Cat

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 From idyllic island to metropolitan cities to rural farm. From squishing sand with toes, to  squeezing into pumps, to skirting squelchy mud in boots. Oceans blue tipped with foamy white. Streets buzzing with lights and life. Expanses of serene space.

And barn cats. I realize I have had 43 of them over the years, their numbers shrinking even as our bonding grows. Tears falling over the meal for a fattened fox. For the babies that die.

“They’re only barn cats.” The neighbour was patient. “Good for catching mice but multiplying too fast.”

She meant well. The “good for catching mice but multiplying too fast” is but a pendulum that swings too quickly, blurring the useful with the burdensome. They catch the mice that eat the grain, gnaw the boxes and nibble rubber hoses in the equipment. They’re supposed to keep away snakes too, but I’m not persuaded that they do.

The garter snakes, though harmless, never fail to evoke blood-curdling screams and high-pitched shrieks. Through it all, the cats remain unperturbed, carrying along with the more important duties of the moment—cleaning, sleeping, eating. Store-bought food for barn cats adds up quickly, too. Mice and birds are almost non-existent over winter, and gophers stir only in their sleep, dreaming of hide and seek when they pop out of their holes, upright as a soldier paying homage to a superior.

Cat poop accumulating over the wintry months awaiting the spring cleanup is aversion enough to abandon farming. Although they’re good to dig and cover in the summer, eight months of snow on the ground does not encourage the animals to find faraway spots for toilet regimes. The putrid smell intensifies with warmer temperatures. But the chore of cleaning is relegated to another, as is the decision to abandon or not. Yes, many find the threshold of tolerance for cats small, and the smaller the number in the barn, the happier a situation it is.

Far from the perfumeries of department stores, from exclusive scents in duty-free shops, I find myself in the smelly barn the felines haunt. Daring. Hoping. Inexperienced.

“There’s a new white kitten at the farm.” My husband had kept this information for the lights out moment. I had bolted upright in the darkness, a gopher at attention.

“A white kitten?!”

Three words formed a question, an exclamation, and a statement that would one day be wrapped in print, though not known yet. My husband had not anticipated my level of interest or he might have reserved the subject for the morning when he would be more alert. But time of day, or the fact that he is not a night person and wakes up early for his day job, was inconsequential. In halting tones, the good man manoeuvred my torrent, patiently explaining and describing the kitten. Over and over. That he had known me for years and still chose to bring up the kitten topic at a time he was hoping to sleep undisturbed was his only error in judgment at that moment, or perhaps it was my flaw that I was impatient.

Insight: Allocate time for certain subjects and keep within the timelines. Ask to get back to the person if the time runs out. Gauge the appropriateness of a topic before tackling it.

The next day was Sunday, and after church I dropped my daughter at a friend’s house, assuring the mom I’d be back within an hour. My husband was harvesting canola and I usually took him his lunch. Knowing that I’d want a kitten-moment, he did not drive to the house immediately as he usually did when he saw my car. There was time.

Meanwhile, I had to execute my plan. I drove slowly up the lane. The animals must not be startled. Parking my CRV close to the house, I crept out, leaving the driver’s door ajar. I unlocked the trunk. The cardboard box was still there with its lonely sausage tenant. It would not be lonely for long.

I tiptoed across the dry yard, my runners soundless. I stopped breathing as I approached the barn. Almost. The cutest, most adorable little creature sat under the riding mower, the large machine shrinking its size even more in comparison. It looked dirty white, as if it had passed through smoke. Its tail was dark, eyes heaven-blue. Tranquil. My husband had estimated it to be about five weeks old.

Insight: Don’t fall into complacency based on appearance.

I froze. I knew I had to build trust since the wild little thing was watching me warily, prepared to bolt at any sudden movement. My husband had cautioned about its energy.

Insight: Especially with the new, take time to build trust. This holds true for jobs, people, animals…

Ten minutes later, I was glued to the same spot. Furry heads rubbed against my jeans and I patted them, bending slowly, taking advantage of the moment to inch along with their bodies, closer to the feeding dish where the welcome party drifted—the sure sign that petting time was over.

The little kitten was no match for the eight heads that converged on the oval tray. She could not get close to the food. Eventually she hopped inside the tray and took a cautious bite, chewing at a tortoise’s pace. Cats left as tummies swelled. Only four remained. I must hurry.

With the sun smiling gold on my silver car behind me, I stretched my hand inside the dark shed toward old, brownish-grey Strawberry. Even though it was only a slight movement, the little kitten cowered a few steps behind, as if she had a built-in alert. I held on to Strawberry and the kitten came back to the food. I watched from the corner of my eye. The hazy head dipped in the bowl. And I pounced.

Smokey on CTV television, June 2016

Insight: Make discernment an ongoing study.

Yeoooowww.” Instantly the remaining food-crazed cats fled from the bowl, their eyes round and brown. Eighteen claws aimed at me as the five-week-old kitten struggled, hissing and spitting, meowing and yowling. My treasure secure, I fled. How I ran. Who had moved the car so far away? Blood oozed from the back of my hand, a scratch or a bite I couldn’t tell.

Insight: Create a workstation that flows sequentially. In this case, the escape vehicle must be close to the loot. Avoid bottleneck situations.

My husband was incredulous when he heard the story later. “Didn’t you wear gloves?”

Gloves? I was inexperienced.

Insight: Safety gear is never an option. Seek it out, wear it, don’t compromise. Have the necessary tools at hand.

But gloves were a lesser concern on that day. Mama Cat was the feared enemy. Which one of the clowder was the mother? I had encountered a female cat with babies before, snarling and springing at me two minutes after I’d fed the ingrate. I had no desire to repeat the incident. My fevered brain registered the foible in my plans.

Insight: Seek advice on how to reach a goal. Research. Create a sustainable plan.

Cats streamed into the sunshine. Curiosity or mutiny? Deep throated sounds reached my ears. I screamed my husband’s name but he was in a combine kilometers away. Out of sight. Sweating, terrified and whimpering, I tried to intimidate the four-legged crew while struggling with their scratching, biting offspring.

“Shoo. Bad cats!”

The bottleneck seemed longer than a line of rush hour traffic on a Friday afternoon but eventually I crossed the distance to the waiting car. Dropping the yowling kitten in the box, I slammed the door shut before collapsing onto the driver’s seat. The little animal was petrified, jumping out of the box and moving at whirlwind speed from the back to the front to underneath the seats. Would she settle near the brakes? Or worse, use the soft fabric seat for a toilet or scratching post?

It had taken all of 15 minutes but my time in cat hell had felt like an eternity.

My husband recounted later that night that he “saw silver shooting at a speed that’s not allowed on the highway.”

Silence.

“I had no lunch.”

More silence. It was impossible to dismiss the twinge at the reminder that he had been hungry all afternoon.

Remorseful, I urged, “Hurry up and shower. We have a guest.”

In the bathroom, he introduced himself to the guest in the makeshift litter box my friend had provided. She had also offered a “sheep”—long piece of plush faux fur that imitated the warmth and feel of Mama Cat’s fur. I had accepted both the box and the fur gratefully as I had been totally unprepared for a kitten. Fortunately, too, the supermarket was open and I was able to procure kitten food.

And so it came about that we had our first house kitten. Born in a barn, as wild a cat as there ever was, likely to have been devoured like so many others.

But no. The vet pronounced her a ‘him.’ The hint of smog that enveloped his fur inspired his name. Smokey. He once locked himself in our car and the CAA was called, leading to the publication of Smokey’s Lock-Out in the August 2014 issue of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

As he grew older, the hint of dark became lines, showing his Lynx Siamese blood.

“I could teach children to count using your stripes, Smokey,” I cooed to the lovable pet. One tail, two eyes, four paws, 10 stripes…”

Published 2015

And therein was born the idea for a second children’s book. (My first one was Little Copper Pennies for Kids).

But I thought counting to ten was too limited a market for a book, so with a little more thought, Alphabet on The Farm was created. I’m writing this story on May 21, 2014. Today my publisher accepted Alphabet on The Farm, and it will be printed in both English and French. This book will also be the first of my books to be translated into another language. My most recent success.

Insight: Even the mundane, despised or insignificant hold seeds of promise. A cat or a castle offers opportunities and with a bit of creativity one can find success in the ordinary.

I know for sure that whatever life offers I can make good of it. In a classroom or a barn room. If lemons, I’ll make hot sauce. If cat-napping, please wear gloves. More and more I am persuaded that anyone can find success right where they are.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. His promises remain with me to the farthest part of the earth. He’ll be with me. I was born on the sparkling island of Trinidad and I was successful there. He equipped me and blessed my ministry and career. Upon immigrating to Canada, I remained confident that I can be successful anywhere I locate, at anything my hands find to do.

Published 2016 by Borealis Press

From idyllic island to metropolitan cities to rural farm, I walk in His will and I delight in Him. He leads and I listen, and follow. The Lord promises exceedingly abundantly above what I can ask or think if I please Him. I’ve learned to be content though it was a long road pitted with discontented twists and gloomy points. But God never left, He never forsook. I do my part and He does His. And that makes me realize that I’m successful not because of who I am but because of who He is.

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

A chapter from 10 1/2 SKETCHES: INSIGHTS ON BEING SUCCESSFEL RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE

Copyright 2015 by Susan Harris

Near-death Experiences caused by Pain

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Photo credits of Google Images

No two people process pain the same way.

Each person’s tolerance to pain varies. By “tolerance” I refer to the maximum pain an individual is able to endure before taking evasive actions. Because of these variances, the Pain Scale was created to help gauge pain and treat it accordingly. The scale uses the numbers zero through 10 and each number is assigned a description.

In this blog I refer to my experiences with acute pain, and by acute pain I mean pain that has a time span of up to six months, and which is directly related to tissue injury or a short-term condition (such as pregnancy in my case).

While I often felt my pain was 1,000 and that a new scale needed to be developed for it, the pain scale I refer to was created by a pediatrician named Dr. Donna Wong, back in the early 1980s. Originally it was created using pictures for children but has since evolved and is widely used in hospitals with patients of all ages.

ProHealth describes the pain scale on its website and breaks down the numbers into mild pain, moderate pain and severe pain as indicated below:

0 – Pain free.

Mild Pain – Nagging, annoying, but doesn’t really interfere with daily living activities

1 – Pain is very mild, barely noticeable. Most of the time you don’t think about it.

2 – Minor pain. Annoying and may have occasional stronger twinges.

3 – Pain is noticeable and distracting, however, you can get used to it and adapt.

Moderate Pain – Interferes significantly with daily living activities.

4 – Moderate pain. If you are deeply involved in an activity, it can be ignored for a period of time, but is still distracting.

5 – Moderately strong pain. It can’t be ignored for more than a few minutes, but with effort you still can manage to work or participate in some social activities.

6 – Moderately strong pain that interferes with normal daily activities. Difficulty concentrating.

 Severe Pain – Disabling; unable to perform daily living activities.

7 – Severe pain that dominates your senses and significantly limits your ability to perform normal daily activities or maintain social relationships. Interferes with sleep.

8 – Intense pain. Physical activity is severely limited. Conversing requires great effort.

9 – Excruciating pain. Unable to converse. Crying out and/or moaning uncontrollably.

10 – Unspeakable pain. Bedridden and possibly delirious. Very few people will ever experience this level of pain.

Photo credit of Google Images

Three times during the past 19 years I’ve been debilitated to the point where I lost consciousness. Such pain and un-wellness is the equivalent of level 10 on the scale. When I lost consciousness, I slipped into the other world. The first time it happened I was in a doctor’s office, and a family member was with me. He confirmed that the doctor could not find my heartbeat or pulse and I was “out” for three minutes. This was my first near-death experience (NDE). I experienced NDEs twice after due to unimaginable, unspeakable pain. All of these are described in my upcoming book.

Over the weekend I attended the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild annual conference and participated in the Open Mic session. This segment afforded each writer the opportunity to read their work for three minutes. I read about my first NDE. The next morning, a fellow guild member met me in the parking lot as I was walking back to the hotel for our final session.

“I enjoyed your reading last night. It was interesting.” She smiled as we fell in stride.

I asked her the first question that comes to my mind when the topic arises. “Have you heard of similar experiences.”

“Oh yes,” she responded casually, “the elders experience it during meditation.”

“It’s not the same at all!” I hastened to clarify. “Mine was caused by a health issue, not through meditation or prayer. It may sound similar but their causes are different.”

She nodded but did not pursue the conversation further. I, on the other hand, pondered it all day. What became apparent was the confusion about NDE, out-of-body (OOB) and spiritual practices. While a NDE and meditation involves being OOB, the difference between them is the root CAUSE. “The fruit is determined by the root,” as the maxim goes.

A comparison of fog and rain adds clarity. Both are forms of moisture and very prevalent on the prairies where I live. Their condensation leaves the ground damp and wet. It is impossible for me to tell if it is fog or rain that had left droplets on my car simply by looking at the wet car. The difference between fog and rain clouds is altitude at which they are found. Fog is cloud that sit heavy in the air while rain falls from clouds high above. But one cannot call fog, rain, and vice versa.

An NDE can happen to anyone. An NDE is not a religious experience; it is about mortality, and all humans are mortal. Meditation by contrast, is an induced state that is brought on by the choice of an individual; it is not natural to human beings as death and mortality are.

Individuals who are near death often have out-of-body experiences as described in the works of Dr. Raymond Moody, Dr. Jeffrey Long, Dr. Mary Neal, Rev. Don Piper, and Pastor Todd Burpo, to name a few authors. On the other hand, individuals engaged in meditative worship and incantations, such as in eastern religions and tribal practices, often relate out-of-body experiences but they are in no way close to death.

I want to make it clear that I do not subscribe to the practice of seeking out-of-body experiences through meditation. I do not endorse it. My experiences are wholly derived from acute, short term health issues, and I approach NDEs and OOBs in this context in my book.

Website links:

http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=20019

(http://wongbakerfaces.org/us/wong-baker-faces-history/)

http://www.pearsoncanada.ca/media/highered-showcase/9780133249781/M30_KOZI7610_03_SE_C30.pdf

What is God’s gender?

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When a friend responded to one of my posts on social media, “What if God is a ‘she’ and not a ‘he’?” I decided to write this blog.

Pronouns assigned to God has traditionally been masculine, perhaps drawn in the same vein of patriarchal language used in older societies. Books, laws, national anthems use the masculine gender for inclusivity. The term “man” covered men, women, boys and girls. It could be argued that the masculine gender is word-efficient and makes for easier reading (or singing).

God is a spirit as declared in the Bible in John 4:24. Merriam Webster dictionary defines spirit as “a supernatural being or essence.” This is non-physical, and as such, gender cannot be ascribed to spirits. Yet gender helps us understand the abstract concept of spirit. We have to refer to God as something and one cannot altogether avoid using pronouns in smooth conversation or writing. The gender “it” that is used to denote gender neutrality seems demeaning as a reference for God. Perhaps if there had been neuter gender, male gender, female gender and spirit gender, the confusion would have never arisen.

Our natural minds cannot conceptualize the supernatural in its entirety. Our vocabulary do not contain words for the “Spirit gender”, so at best, we describe spirit as He, in terms that are concrete as they help us understand what is abstract. Spiritual “eyes” are what’s needed to see God in His spiritual capacity.

In the Old Testament, God appeared as men to Abraham (Genesis 18). John 4:24 states, “God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth.” (Note the word “him”.) Three times in the New Testament Jesus refers to God as Father, as maleness. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology identifies over 165 references to God as Father in direct and metaphorical references.

The Bible is the lens through which I interpret God. The Bible is God’s inspired word and it uses masculine pronouns and words in describing God. This helps me understand the “person” of God but at the end of the day, God is a Spirit whom I refer to as He.

On hot topics like God’s gender, people can’t be told anything if they’ve already made up their minds. I am not offended if someone refers to God as anything but male. Instead, I am happy they’re thinking of God, for to be open to God means He can yet reveal Himself and help them secure Eternity.

Susan Harris has been touched by Eternity and desires that all will inherit it.

Two Injunctions

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Today is my birthday and I will not be on social media. Unlike birthdays gone, I want it simple. Quiet. For the first time my timeline on Facebook is closed.

When I chose the theme of God’s Direct Words for my 1-Minute Prayer page, https://www.facebook.com/1-Minute-Prayer-368981386624849/ I could not have foreseen what would be posted today. I started on January 1, 2017, from Genesis. While Jesus’ words are easily identifiable in red letters in the New Testament, God’s words are not identified. I had an overwhelming desire to read what God has said and thus “God’s Direct Words” came into being. As I read I trembled with the people, bowed in worship and relived revival in my soul. After all, I had heard His voice speak to me literally during on my first visit to Heaven in 1998, and that voice reverberates when I read His speech.

The words of Almighty God in today’s post are, “Then he is to take off these clothes and put on others, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a place that is ceremonially clean. The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.” Leviticus 6:11-13 (NIV, author italics added.)

The injunction seared in my spirit: The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out.

Not once but twice the reminder is given to keep the fire burning. There is an urgency that it must not go out.

Why such an urgency? What happens in the interim between it going out and being relit? It is difficult to rekindle the fire? Is it impossible to rekindle once it goes out?

Questions run through my mind but I don’t need to know why. I am prepared to be obedient.

Trips, gifts, restaurants are not on my birthday agenda. My theme for this year is heaven-minded. My purpose changed on June 24th after seeing Heaven for the fourth time. I want instead for men and women, boys and girls to make it to Eternity. I want to normalize conversations about the afterlife, encourage the sick and assure those afraid of dying.

To do this I must keep the fire on the altar of my heart burning on the first day of my upcoming year, set a strong flame so it will not go out. Just me and God.

I’ll catch up with you tomorrow.

Susan Harris’ upcoming book, Touched by Eternity, details her trips to Heaven, encounters with angels, visions and miraculous healings. 

Visit 1 Minute Prayer at https://www.facebook.com/1-Minute-Prayer-368981386624849/

(this blog was pre-scheduled on Oct 2)