About EMP

I was reluctant to write a standard bio, so I offer these 40 random facts about me instead:

      1.       This website has been a long time coming! I am technically challenged and rely on other people to help me enter (end exit) cyber-space.
          Special thanks to my web designer, Evelyn, at Willowrose Webdesign. If I could have chosen, I’d live in a world of pre-technology (yes, even if that meant draughty huts, wood fires and no hot running water).

2.        I do recognise the immeasurable value of my computer, telephone and Internet for work and, more importantly, communication; however, I still refuse to own a cell phone or laptop. It takes years for me to embrace techno-change.
          I succumbed to Facebook only after the 32nd invitation (and because of my little sister’s not so gentle persuasion). facebookphillips@gmail.com

3.       I am learning to see myself as a writer—my preferred style, or voice, is clearly that of a letter-writer.

4.       I fully intend to keep alive the dying art of letter-writing … with a little help from my friends.

5.       Q: “But who uses stationery anymore?” you may ask, as did LC, a songwriter I know.
          A: I do.

6.       I love wintry Canada and feel privileged to be living here under blue prairie skies. Alberta has become my home.

7.       I miss my sunny homeland at times and consider South Africa one of the world’s truly beautiful countries; most of all I miss the linguistic and cultural diversity of Africa’s people and the abundance of wildlife and colourful birds.

Lilac Breasted Roller
      8.       One of my favourite birds is the multicoloured lilac breasted roller.

9.       I have always been a teacher at heart, even before I studied to “become” one. I used to teach classes of hundreds of students (at RAU in Johannesburg) and I thrived in that chaotic, creative environment. Now I teach tiny classes … but there is something special about knowing my students’ spouses and birthdays and habits and quirks.

10.       I enjoy reading (and teaching) literary classics, and plan on working my way through the Complete Works of Shakespeare this decade; I was invited to read a dozen of his plays at university for my degree, and I truly enjoyed more than half of them.

11.       I am currently rereading all of Austen’s novels. Dickens is another favourite author: “Make ’em laugh; make ’em cry; make ’em wait.”

12.       In 2007 I co-authored and published an anthology of letters. The Hippo and the Unicorn is a rainbow of words between two unusual friends on a journey. See Rainbow of Words.

13.       I truly admire Luci Shaw’s poetry and (the late) Madeleine L’Engle’s fiction. Their co-authored book, Friends for the Journey, remains an all-time favourite of mine. I hope to collaborate on a book like that one day. Soon.

14.       I love twins (and always secretly wanted to be one or to have my own).

15.       On this website you will meet many Canadian kin, including my adopted twins:

a). the girl next door is born on the same day as me (we garden together “over the fence”); and
    b). my kingdom colleague, born the same month and year, in the same country (and the mother of twin girls and an older daughter).

16.       You will also meet Tammy (mother of twin boys and an older son), with whom I spend each Tuesday eve; soon you may follow our caffeinated conversations in “Tuesdays with Tammy”: our collection of quotes and anecdotes detailing our mutual love of learning (and teaching), literature, lattes and life in all its fullness. 

17.       In May I will have been married to my travelling companion for 16 years. We met two decades ago, in 1990; this year I will have known him for longer than I haven’t known him.

18.   I am left-handed—like my hubby (Robin), my dad (Ian), and countless friends and relations. Leave a comment if you are a lefty like me.

19.       Unlike my hubby, I am fond of heights, I have no fear of small spaces, and I particularly like to combine the two and fly high in tiny planes. (One of my favourite poems is John Gillespie Magee’s “High Flight.”)

20.       I love to travel—my first choice is by air. Rail is second, water a close third. Car travel is a necessary reality in a country this vast, seldom a choice.

21.       In the past 15 years I’ve lived in South Africa, the Czech Republic (Prague) and Canada (Calgary and Cochrane, Alberta). I’ve travelled to/through 16 countries, and hope to (re)visit many more. We now have (pen)pals in many ports.

22.       I freely admit to being rather fond of Hroshi, our hippo-companion, and her extended family (filled as they are with imagination and stuffing). She is the inspiration for many of my as yet unpublished travel stories, which I hope to have the courage to share … one day. Hroshi says to tell you hippos are my favourite animals, along with giraffes.

23.       Hroshi’s niece, Hubble, a recent immigrant from Botswana, has begun her own anthology of letters. (Hubble’s blog—There’s a Hippo in My Hammock—is currently under construction.)

24.       One of my favourite movies is Charlotte’s Web. I’m a farm girl at heart—“I had a farm in Africa”—and I adore pigs. And cows. My latest nickname is Moo (!).  

25.       I finally took up horse riding last year—I’ve loved the majestic beauty of horses since I was a little (farm) girl—and now I ride a couple of times each month at Griffin Valley Ranch (just off the 1A on Forestry Trunk Road) with my lovely partner, MM.

26.       I love to create. One of my favourite hobbies is designing and making photo-cards. Another is gardening. And napping.

27.       I enjoy photography and assist my spouse during weddings, etc. He’s the lens; I’m the voice. http://www.hippophotography.ca/

28.       I prefer classical music, but have sufficiently eclectic tastes to appreciate a range of original composers and songwriters. I like lyrics that tell a story.

29.       I do not have a good singing voice (or so I was told by a musical colleague who lacks the gift of encouragement), but I do love to sing. A special childhood memory includes being in the youth choir at BMC. (Since my husband does not know I cannot sing, he encourages me to sing him to sleep, saying my voice soothes his spirit.) I believe the Bible’s exhortation to “make a joyful noise unto the lord” is meant for me.

30.       Although I have the body of a runner—I was part of the track team at school for 12 years—I have the heart of a walker. I love to amble around my neighbourhood with my camera, taking photos and greeting folk along the way.

31.       I love being in mountains—sun, rain or snow. I enjoy hiking (and met my spouse on a memorable hike in the Western Cape’s scenic Swellendam). And did I mention how much I enjoy napping?

32.       My soul comes alive when it rains, particularly when there’s an electrifying thunderstorm. As a child I used to go into the garden in stormy weather (a practice not encouraged by my kin). As an adult I like to stand at the edge of a lake when there’s lightning (also not encouraged).

33.       I enjoy baking but not cooking, especially not complicated dishes. I am content to make (and prefer to eat) simple foods: soups, stews, salads, fruit plates—which can be quite attractive. My mom eventually gave up telling me not to play with my food. The fridge magnet “Dinner’s ready when the smoke alarm goes off” was made for domestic ungoddesses like me.

34.       My favourite staple food is rice; my favourite take-out meal, Chinese. My favourite desserts include plain vanilla cake (Tammy’s annual b’day treat), vanilla ice cream (like Snoopy, I’m a purist), Paul J’s fresh-from-the-oven apple pie, and my gym partner Wilmien’s milktart. After one mouthful, I added Evie’s Impossible Pie (with coconut and maple syrup) to my list of favourites. And crème caramel or brûlée. And anything my mom-trio makes, of course!

35.       My mom-trio is my birth mom: Lynnette; my mother-in-love: Beth; and my Canadian mom: Diana (the Little/Mungs adopted us 12 years ago and we continue to celebrate special occasions with our family away from home).

36.       Although only my closest companions believe this about me, I’m actually a mild introvert (according to personality profiles), which means I refuel in solitude in order to have energy to be with people. Most folk see me only as a “people person” and don’t know my silent side—although some wish they did! My favourite sacred space is the Hermitage, a rustic cabin at a local retreat centre. I also enjoy King’s Fold, further from home. My dream for my 40th is to spend a week alone at Rivendell on Bowen Island in BC.

37.       I believe Jesus Christ is Who He says He is. I want His truth to shape my daily decisions. “Prone to wander, Lord, am I; prone to leave the Lord I love.” This year my fervent plea is to wander less … and get back on track earlier. My accountability partners are gracious at keeping me in line with God’s leading.

38.       Spiritually, my prayer is to grow in grace and wisdom and joy as I choose to serve my Creator God, with the power and encouragement of His Spirit, in a community of kingdom colleagues and siblings. I don’t understand suffering, but trust that God has a purpose in mind for humanity and for all of His creation.

39.       Since I collect both postcards and quotes (my friend Heidi-in-Chicago says I collect people, many of whom you’ll meet on site), I’m stealing this quote about postcards from our pastor:        
          “I want my gravestone to be shaped like a postcard from heaven. I want it to read: ‘Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here.’”

40.       On Feb 2, 2011, I will celebrate my 40th birthday.

            I was born on a Tuesday in Johannesburg at to my parents’ (and siblings’?) delight. {Thanks for having me, Mom and Dad.}