Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year of Adventure

Somewhere in the spring of this year, I was looking ahead at all the things I had planned for the next several months: travel, work, the social scene... And I had so many exciting things planned that I thought wow; this is going to be a year of adventure! 2009 is now coming to its close, and it has been a year of adventure. A wonderful, fast year of adventure. ...I'm not going to reflect on the amazing events and activities that made up my year here. Chances are, if you follow this blog, I know you personally, and therefore, you probably shared in some of those adventures with me. If not, there are blog archives for a reason. But just as valuable as the adventures are the things I learned both from those adventures, and from my daily activities and routine.

I feel like I did a lot of growing this year. Stretched. Challenged. It's been good. Highlights?
  • Relationship -- No, not romantic. Just... relationship. With God, with friends, with family, with colleagues... with people I may only ever have one interaction with... God calls us to be in relationship, and I have taken that calling especially to heart this year. I will continue to keep it on my heart going in 2010. I have been blessed with so many valuable relationships in my life.
  • Patience -- People automatically assume that because I work with children, I must have the utmost patience. ...While it's true that I have no problem being ever-patient with children, I would not describe myself as a patient person. I don't like waiting. I like to know when, and I like to know how. ...I forget that not everything has to happen on time, let alone on my time. And I've spent a lot of time learning to trust that everything works out. I get done what needs to get done; I get where I need to be; the world doesn't end by taking a slightly more scenic route. When I can deal with that successfully, it's quite liberating. Looking forward to more of it in 2010.
  • Flexibility -- I fall into the Type A personality category. I'm not very spontaneous. I don't always like it when my plans get thrown out the window. ...I'm getting better. Flexibility has been a trait that has been part of my job description for the last several years, and because I recognize that it's a valuable life quality, I am always trying to learn how to bend just a little bit more, or in a different direction. A lot of this past year has required that I be flexible. Uber-flexible sometimes. Some days that was easier than others. Some days I was practically a contortionist. Other days I just had no stretch left and it showed in my attitude. ...But I kinda like being a bit more bendy...
  • Grace -- We are human and we are not perfect. And just when I get caught up in how fallible people are, and how prone to screwing up I am, the Holy Spirit moves in and floors me with His grace. His mercy and forgiveness are pure and whole and complete. His power in relationships, fellowship, and community is just... beautiful.
  • Children -- I have always loved children. I have always valued children. The connection children make with important grown-ups in their life is so valuable. But that works the other way around, too. "The soul is healed by being with children" said Fyodor Dostoevsky. I don't actually know who that is, but he makes a good point. ...I lost one of my little cuties at work this year. We've had kids pass away over the years, but none that I'd ever worked with directly. It was strange to try and process. I remember being thankful that circumstances such as that were the exception and not the rule. That for the most part, our kids get stronger, and not the other way around. I wouldn't last in my job if the instances of death were not so outnumbered by amazing, inspiring, powerful instances of LIFE. It heals the soul when you connect with a child... when you can bop to Great Big Sea with your neice on a car ride... when your nephew starts calling you "aunty"... when the little ones see you from a distance and break into a run to hug you... when you sit in the river valley and blow grass and she thinks it's the funniest thing ever... Am I making the difference in their lives, or are they making a difference in mine?
  • Be -- I like to do. I like to be productive. I certainly don't like to be bored. ...I don't often run myself completely off my feet, because I also don't like to be burned out. But I don't often just stop. Just sit. ...That whole "be still and know"...? It's hard. But powerful... if I can just stop myself moving.
...It has been a growing year. Thanks for growing with me. Looking forward to 2010.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Reflection

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, who is Emmanuel--God with us. God came down in human form so that He could have an active relationship with His children--us. The wonder and mystery surrounding this moves me on and off throughout the year, but especially at Christmas.

"Every religion in the world is about man trying to reach up to God, like working your way up the ladder. They’re all about striving to achieve something for yourself. Christianity is the only religion about God reaching down to man and offering salvation as a free gift, with the added bonus of a personal relationship with the Creator God through Jesus Christ, who was there in the beginning." -- Francine Rivers

"Life takes a little bit of time, and a lot of relationship." -- William Paul Young

May your 2010 be rich with relationship and God's blessings and peace. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Holidays, Day 1

So, this is what my agenda has looked like so far today:
  • 8:30 -- Get up.
  • 9:30 -- Go spend time with the 'kidlets'; get offered breakfast and an egg nog latte within half an hour of arriving. Hang out at the museum.
  • 1:15 -- Return home.
  • 1:45 -- Have lunch.
  • 2:00 -- Putz around on the computer.
  • 3:20 -- Nap (with cat).
  • 4:00 -- Rouse; more computer putzing.
  • 6:00 -- Eat supper.
  • 6:30 -- Listen to Stuart McLean on CD while cleaning my room and kitchen.
Oh, the casual pace of holidays! I currently have a cat on each side of me as I type (have laptop, will cozy on the couch) who have fully accepted this new pace and have spent most of the day horizontal on the couch. Well, really, this could be what they do every day, and I wouldn't know it. But I like to think their routine sometimes matches my own when I'm home.

I was thinking earlier today of the first day of holidays when I was done school for the semester. In my freshman year, I had been required to stay right until the end of exam week given my exam schedule. Not surprisingly, once home I looked forward to the opportunity to sleep in.

My first day home happened to be the winter solstice (like today). I had been sleeping ever so soundly when my dad came in and woke me up by jostling my mattress. My parents were generally pretty good about letting me sleep in when I had nothing to be up for, so I knew that if I was being woken up, I must have definitely been sleeping in late. I rolled over and looked at the clock; it was around noon. I groaned and pulled the blanket back over my head. "Get up!" my dad stated, "it's the shortest day of the year, and you've slept through half of it!"

It's been a long time since I've been able to sleep in quite that late. I occasionally manage 11am, but those are usually the result of a 2am bedtime the night before. As I have gotten older (sigh, older, guh), I generally greet the day between 9:30 and 10:30 on weekends and holidays. It's still glorious. I will take advantage of this part of being single!

So realistically, given it is just after 8:30pm, the night is still very young. I will very likely listen to at least one more Vinyl Cafe story. Maybe two. At some point, though, I'm going out. JM wants to go night sledding--I think JP is coming, too. And when I look at tomorrow's agenda--which could play out pretty darn close to today's if I want it to--I think, "why not?" ...So I'm going sledding!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Home Stretch

I have been going steady since the beginning of December, with something on the agenda every evening. Routine activities plus fun Christmas festivities, but I'm definitely starting to crave some winding down. Friday is the last day of work for two weeks, and while I have things to do both Saturday and Sunday afternoon and evening, I am taking both mornings for luxurious sleeping in. And SO looking forward to it!

Then it will be Monday, which marks the start of two weeks where the sun will wake up before me (not the other way around), and where my afternoons and evenings are mine to schedule as I please. I am very much looking forward to peace, rest, and fellowship over the holidays.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Just Add Snow...

The last 48 hours have been either a test in perseverance or a testament to perseverance--not quite sure which; but what a time has been had!

Thursday evening's weather forecasters were handing out snow warnings on the radio. I hadn't yet purchased new snow boots, because up until this point, there hadn't been any 'real' snow, so I made a point of stopping by Mountain Equipment Co-Op after work, and picked myself up of boots that totally match my winter coat, have faux fur trim, and have an Active Temperature Rating of -40. There was a slightly more expensive pair with an ATR of -100C, but I just felt like that was a bit excessive, even for Canada. :) ...Plus they weren't as stylish.

Anyway, the boots were bought just in the nick of time, as the snow was already above my ankles by the time I woke up Friday morning. Of course, I had to go for a school visit out in a rural community outside of Edmonton. Because this was the 3rd attempt at this visit in the last month, there was not a lot I was about to let stop me from getting out there. So I gave myself some extra time, pulled on the new boots, and headed out. The normally 25-minute drive was 45 minutes, but it was a fairly uneventful trip out. The highway was actually relatively better than the city roads, which were accumulating with snow and creating ruts all over the place. I had bigger challenges moving through the residential neighbourhood of my afternoon family!

I had originally planned to go walking around the Legislature grounds Friday evening with a friend to check out the Christmas lights and listen to a choir, but the snow was still actively blowing by the time I got home from work, so I nixed those plans and stayed home. Instead, I put productive energy into editing photos I had taken for my respite family the night before. I was toast by about 10pm, so I headed to bed. I figured it would be good to get a nice solid sleep, as I was selling photo cards at my church's annual Craft and Bake Sale in the morning. I changed my alarm to get me up at 7:45.

At 8:45am, I woke up. I had changed the alarm time, but had NOT actually set the alarm. Considering 8:45 was when I had planned on heading out the door, I knew I had to move FAST. I bypassed showering, hair straightening, contact lenses, and breakfast, and left my condo in a bit of disarray, but I was ready and out the door in 20 minutes! Because I had actually allotted about 15 minutes to run an errand on the way, I skipped the errand and still made it to the church on time!

Now, keep in mind, the snow had kept falling throughout the night, so now there was a good foot-and-a-half of snow behind my car. If I didn't have to be out today, I wouldn't have been. With my neighbour on stand-by (who happened to be shoveling himself out at the same time), I put my car in reverse and gave 'er. My little Honda cut through that snow drift like it was butter! I was SO impressed! It was definitely more of an effort after this to work through the ruts and drifts and snow banks on the way to the church hall, but not nearly as treacherous as I was expecting, and my little car did not let me down!

Don't Get Your Tinsel in a Tangle by gina.blankThe craft and bake sale went fairly well. I had never sold or even attended one of my church's craft and bake sales, so I had no idea if or how much the snow (and recession, for that matter) was impacting the number of people that came through. In five hours, I only had about 25 customers, which isn't a lot, but it worked out to over 100 cards (mostly sold in sets of 5). I made way more cards than I needed, but certainly better than not making enough! (If you need Christmas cards, let me know--I have a box full! ...Proceeds go towards a Kenya mission project.) I consumed several cups of tea throughout the course of the day, watched the snow from the inside, and marveled at the fact that people were buying my work!

The drive home was just as drift-filled, plus the added bonus of higher traffic volume, but again, I was not let down by my car. I would have gotten stuck in my parking stall if I'd tried to force my car in, but I let my neighbour shovel my spot out instead. This evening was supposed to be another outdoor Christmas venture with a friend, but she and I both agreed that it was not worth it, and opted for an evening home instead. I got yesterday's edited photos onto a CD, downloaded some Christmas tunes for the child I'm working with, and started some Christmas baking.

Tomorrow I am headed to JP's place to watch "Up!" with the girls. It's s'posed to be a cute movie. I follow that up with some evening respite, and then crazy-Christmas-week 2 of 3 starts on Monday! It's s'posed to stop snowing overnight tonight, and then get really cold for the next several days. I'm not sure which I'd rather have. Constant snow fall or clear but COLD. ...Either way, at least my feet will be warm.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Square One!

I was out with my small group this evening, and we were reminiscing about old school/retro toys, clothes, movies, TV shows, etc. On the topic of our favourite childhood TV show, I remembered Square One, which ran on PBS while I was growing up. It was a math show (yes, I'm a geek), which I absolutely LOVED. I learned so many math tips and tricks--often before learning the concepts in school. I knew what a fractal was when I was eight!

Anyway, upon returning home, I YouTube'd the show, and thought I'd share some of my favourite highlights from this long-running series.

First, the opening theme:

Angle Dance (could you get any more 80's?):

Drawing a Map (I often had the refrain of this song in my head when drawing maps, right through into adulthood):

Oooooh, Tessellations!

Mathman (it always bugged me when he ate the wrong thing!):

Yup... I sure did love that show!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

God's Sense of Humour

Our mild November days would be optimal for photos, if the earth wasn't brown, grey, and leafless. In the winter months, I tend to back off the landscape photos and stick more to portraits, and close-up/macro photography. The only big exceptions are a). When it is pristine white with snow and a glorious blue sky and b). Sunrises/sunsets. There have been some really nice sunrises and sunsets lately--perfect shades of pink and orange. On these occasions, for whatever reason, my camera isn't handy, or I just don't have time to drop what I am doing and find a location at which to shoot. So I glance frequently in the rearview mirror, or out whatever window I can, and take it all in with my eyes. Which is fine. But I love capturing colour in my camera!

So I plan and prepare for the next day's sunrise/sunset: I leave for work a little early; I allow time to capture sunsets before my evening events. And every single time so far, the sunrise or sunset has been crap. God starts singing, "send in the clouds", and those shades of pink and orange disappear. There is no repeat performance of the perfectly clear sky of the day before, or the perfect spread of clouds to refect the colour of the light. Just the big, grey clouds that get in the way of everything. And often, these clouds lie just around the horizon, while the sky above is as clear as it had been all day long. It's so frustrating cuz lately it's been every single time! I just want a couple good sunset pictures, darn it!

Here--I'll show you two photos that I took of the same subject: our legislature building.

The first was taken yesterday at sunset. The second was taken almost exactly a year ago. Both are kind of cool, but I like last year's pic way better (despite the through-the-trees effect, which didn't go exactly as planned, but I digress...). Not only is the colour a bit more vibrant, but it fills the whole background--you don't have a giant cloud masking half the sky.

Sunsets are my eye candy; I want, I want, I want! Apparently, God would rather have me be distracted by the image in my rearview mirror than capture His glory safely on camera. Srsly.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Humming Along

I was just noticing that I haven't blogged in a few weeks. Busy? Yes, but not moreso than normal, really. But I find October/November, like February/March, is a 'blah' kind of time for the most part. There are no major holidays, it's cold and not very pretty-looking outside so I'm not spending much time out there, and there are no other exciting transitions or events during this time worth writing about, it seems. I think my most productive times of fun activity, picture-taking, and inspirational thinking come in the summer. With the winter comes hibernation.

I am actually in quasi-hibernation mode right now. I've been kind of thrown off by setting the clocks back, and am spending more time doing calm, evening things and then realizing it's only 6:30, and I have four hours of evening still to play with. On the plus side, my evenings have been relatively low-key; nice and relaxing.

Despite the brief introduction to winter with snow and cold at the beginning of October, November's temps have been relatively decent--anywhere from 5-15C (41-60F)--so I have been trying to enjoy a walk here and there, and taking kids that I work with outside whenever possible. And because the light is getting so low in the sky, the atmosphere is one of peace and tranquility most of the time.

So overall I've been finding that I am engaging in the regular daily activities, but I'm coming at them with definitely more of an autumn/winter pace rather than the excitement and gusto that I go at things in the summer time.

It's not all bad. Taking things slower is a good skill to have. I am finding, though, that I need to give myself more of a kickstart for the times that I NEED to go at something with gusto and excitement. In the car, for the most part, I have traded my Summer Fun Mix CD for my Grey's Anatomy self-made compilations--for those who don't watch the show, their choice of music is [fantastic, but] generally more... indie? 'Dark and twisty'? Less mainstream? ...Hmm, I am really at a lack of descriptors this evening. Well, their music is kinda like this:

or like this:

It's great music, but certainly not get-ready-for-fun type music! So every now and then I need to pop in that summer CD to rev myself up a bit. Once the snow falls, there will be activity to do (read: snowshoeing). And as we get closer to December, we start in on Christmas, New Year's, and Birthday fun. Without all that, it would be a long ride through the winter, that's for sure.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Quiet Saturday Night

It is my second quiet Saturday evening in a row. Some people would think that sounds lame--I should be out--chillin' with friends; enjoying a party; going on a date, for Pete's sake. Yet, I am quite content here at home this evening. I have been working on a various photography projects and tasks, with music to set a peaceful atmosphere in which I find rest this evening rather than social connection.

Saturdays are actually my best social days. I am socially "on" throughout the week, and my 'me-time' comes only in little doses after work each day. By Friday evening, I have very few resources left with which to meet any social demands. I usually take Friday evenings to be by myself, and I like it that way. Saturdays, however, are a completely different story. I am generally spoiled with the ability to sleep in on Saturdays, which renders me well-rested. I then spend the late morning and into the afternoon puttering around my condo, and maybe--maybe--running a couple errands. Whatever my Saturday daytime agenda is, it is rarely taxing. And it is generally independent. So by the time Saturday evening rolls around, I am so ready for whatever it is I've been invited to, or have organized, or am part of.

So then why am I sitting at home tonight, you ask? Well, mostly cuz there just doesn't seem to be anything going on. And believe it or not, in the introvert's world, this is okay.

It is a delicate balance for an introvert to manage the social requirements of work and extracurricular activities throughout the week and still have enough energy for friends and weekend socializing. In high school, this balance was easy, cuz I had such a set routine which was not all that socially taxing. School was for learning, not so much for constant social interaction. And it's not like I went out anywhere in the evenings (okay, there was youth group--one evening a week; some weeks I'd love to go back to having just one evening activity!). Then I hit university and found I oscillated a bit between overdoing it socially and then having to recover over the next few days. It's tough to be an introvert whose primary love language is Quality Time. I would so often be torn between wanting to participate in whatever was going on (cuz so much had the potential to be the greatest times ever) and wanting to just spend time in my dorm room watching TV or reading a book (but then I might miss whatever cool was going on!).

Somewhere along the way, I started paying more attention to my social self. I judged how I was doing in the moment, and I started judging how the events of that day were impacting how I felt about upcoming social activities. This wasn't really a conscious decision, like "I will monitor my social behaviour", but more just a sense that I knew I had to balance myself better, so I ended up just being more 'aware' of myself socially. I started finding that I could generally tell when I was more likely to be sociable, and when I was going to need some down time. For example, I would know on the Monday of a typical work-week that I would need down time by Thursday or Friday, and would indicate this to my ex so that he would a) not take it personally, and b) not schedule us to go have supper with friends or something.

The art that is this social balance took several years to master, and I am quite proud of my ability to do so. Occasionally, I still overdo it, but those times are few and far between.

My next couple weeks are going to be a but busier than average. Lots on the extracurricular plate going on. I am looking forward to all of it, but it means I have to take into account the different social dynamic. So here's to a quiet Saturday night!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


It is the Thanksgiving weekend, and as I was going through some of my file folders this evening, I came across a timely piece of 'art' (I guess you'd call it) that I put together when I was in university. Somewhere in my second year, I remember I started writing down all the things I was thankful for--as I thought of them--to fill an entire sheet with thanks. I added to it over the next couple years, and eventually filled the 9x12 page. It was sort of a personal art/prayer project, I think.

I've scanned the original, which you can see a large-ish version of by clicking on it, but as this is the time to remember all the things we have to be thankful for, I took it upon myself to type out the entire list. There is so much to be thankful for! And regardless of what it is, none of it can be taken for granted. ...The list is by no means exhaustive...

  • Thank You that I have everything I need—that I want for nothing.
  • Thank You for e-mail.
  • Thank You for breathing.
  • Thank You for diamonds.
  • Thank You for CDs.
  • Thank You for candles.
  • Thank You that I can speak.
  • Thank You for pure acceptance.
  • Thank You that I can see.
  • Thank You for sunflowers.
  • Thank You that I live in a beautiful city.
  • Thank You that I am computer literate.
  • Thank You for freedom.
  • Thank You for warmth.
  • Thank You for daisies.
  • Thank You for life.
  • Thank You that I can sing.
  • Thank You for rainbows.
  • Thank You for angels.
  • Thank You that I can be silly with my friends.
  • Thank You for inspiration.
  • Thank You for Your amazing love.
  • Thank You that I have food to eat everyday.
  • Thank You that I am no longer jealous.
  • Thank You for tears.
  • Thank You for colour.
  • Thank You for warm fire places.
  • Thank You for travel.
  • Thank You that I can play the piano.
  • Thank You for mistakes.
  • Thank You for understanding.
  • Thank You for what I don’t have.
  • Thank You for hands that I can do things with.
  • Thank You for proof.
  • Thank You for kisses.
  • Thank You for Skittles!
  • Thank You for dying for me.
  • Thank You for frustration.
  • Thank You that I am literate.
  • Thank You that I have a home to go to.
  • Thank You for strength.
  • Thank You when kids listen to me.
  • Thank You when kids don’t listen to me.
  • Thank You for music.
  • Thank You for tourist attractions.
  • Thank You for the smell of raspberries.
  • Thank You that I can go to school away from home.
  • Thank You for Bailey’s.
  • Thank You for warm beaches.
  • Thank You for good parents.
  • Thank You for trust.
  • Thank You for Sprite.
  • Thank You for sweet peas.
  • Thank You that I have two legs to walk, run, rollerblade, and dance.
  • Thank You for stressful conversation.
  • Thank You for opportunities to celebrate!
  • Thank You that I can buy clothes.
  • Thank You for the use of a car.
  • Thank You for beauty.
  • Thank You for being my Best Friend.
  • Thank You for willow trees.
  • Thank You for brothers.
  • Thank You for my experience at 7-Eleven.
  • Thank You for hugs.
  • Thank You for the sunshine.
  • Thank You for butterflies.
  • Thank You for words to express feelings.
  • Thank You that I can take photographs to remember special events.
  • Thank You for warm weather.
  • Thank You for patience.
  • Thank You that I can write.
  • Thank You that I am Your child.
  • Thank You for blunt honesty.
  • Thank You for the rain to make things grow.
  • Thank You for beautiful mountains to look at and hike through.
  • Thank You for love.
  • Thank You for memories.
  • Thank You for the smell of freshly cut grass.
  • Thank You for children.
  • Thank You for friendly coworkers.
  • Thank You for fresh water to drink.
  • Thank You that I can trust people.
  • Thank You for friends from whom I have grown apart.
  • Thank You for chocolate chip cookies.
  • Thank You for experience.
  • Thank You that I can drive.
  • Thank You for coincidences.
  • Thank You for Dairy Queen blizzards.
  • Thank You for cacti.
  • Thank You for dance.
  • Thanks for walks with friends.
  • Thank You for naivety.
  • Thank You for funny stories.
  • Thank You for marriage.
  • Thank You for humbling car accidents.
  • Thank You for contacts.
  • Thank You for new people.
  • Thank You for ice cream.
  • Thank You for books to read.
  • Thank You for being vague.
  • Thank You that friends can come to visit.
  • Thank You for strawberries.
  • Thank You for death.
  • Thank You for holiday.
  • Thank You for touch.
  • Thank You for TEC.
  • Thank You for gentleness.
  • Thank You that I am never alone.
  • Thank You for words.
  • Thank You for the sunsets.
  • Thank You for honesty and truth.
  • Thank You that I am introverted.
  • Thank You for piano.
  • Thank You for innocence.
  • Thank You for the moon.
  • Thank You for coffee.
  • Thank You for beautiful music.
  • Thank You for YOU.
  • Thank You for the opportunity to travel.
  • Thank You that I am employed.
  • Thank You for the weird people!
  • Thank You for ladybugs.
  • Thank You for friendly smiles.
  • Thank You for peaches.
  • Thank You for humour.
  • Thank You for lizards.
  • Thank You for fun times.
  • Thank You for the gift of selfless behaviour.
  • Thank You that I can work with wonderful children.
  • Thank You for beautiful flowers.
  • Thank You for happy dreams.
  • Thank You for cold.
  • Thank You for concerts I can go to.
  • Thank You for a cat’s purr.
  • Thank You for perspectives other than mine.
  • Thank You for walks in a park.
  • Thank You for stress.
  • Thank You for cloud cover.
  • Thank You for those who don’t judge.
  • Thank You for the ability to learn new things.
  • Thank You for hard experiences, because they help me grow.
  • Thank You for flukes.
  • Thank You that I am healthy.
  • Thank You for cool quotes.
  • Thank You for playtime.
  • Thank You that I have oxygen to breathe.
  • Thank You for helping me out of my shell.
  • Thank You that I can hear.
  • Thank You that I am Canadian.
  • Thank You for a good relationship with my family.
  • Thank You for growth.
  • Thank You for paint.
  • Thank You for unlimited long distance.
  • Thank You for Sorrento.
  • Thank You for communication.
  • Thank You that I can deal with stress.
  • Thank You for the most amazing friendships!
  • Thank You for motivation.
  • Thank You for strength to set the example.
  • Thank You for chewing gum.
  • Thank You for good movies.
  • Thank You for romance.
  • Thank You for laughter.
  • Thank You for independence.
  • Thank You for surprises.
  • Thank You for the gift of listening.
  • Thank You for sleep.
  • Thank You for Slurpees.
  • Thank You for feelings.
  • Thank You for the colour red.
  • Thank You for the sunshine.
  • Thank You that I have seen a shooting star.
  • Thank You that I can dance.
  • Thank You for wake-up calls.
  • Thank You for scenery on road-trips.
  • Thank You that I am smart.
  • Thank You for cute babies.
  • Thank You for relaxation.
  • Thank You for sparkles.
  • Thank You for sunscreen.
  • Thank You for amusement parks.
  • Thank You for the freedom to worship.
  • Thank You for broadening my horizons every now and then.
  • Thank You for photos.
  • Thank You for Your Word.
  • Thank You for nostalgia.
  • Thank You for scholarships.
  • Thank You for the opportunities to go look at the stars.
  • Thank You for detail.
  • Thank You for the opportunity to play like children.
  • Thank You for conversation.
  • Thank You for cool shows on television.
  • Thank You for cats.
  • Thank You for summer holidays.
  • Thank You for my next heart beat.
...What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

An actual conversation at 8:56am today, as I am driving with a child to go swimming.

Me (special needs para-professional from the city): Hey, look--a big truck! We're going to pass the big truck; it's pulling a tractor! Wowww!

Child (4-yr-old with severe speech delay from rural Alberta): ...Dat's a back hoe.

Me: Oh. Back hoe. Gotcha.

* * *

It's okay. Yesterday I learned the term 'auger' at his playschool. Before, I just used to call it... well, I dunno what I called it. The child may have a speech impairment; I have a John Deere impairment.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Malachi 3:3 says: 'He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.'

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining Silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: 'He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.' She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, 'How do you know when the silver is fully refined?'

He smiled at her and answered, 'Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it.'

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Busy Bee

I feel like it's been forever since I've written a decent post. I have gotten back into my regular work routine (as 'regular' as my work can get!), plus an extracurricular routine, and both have kept me busy. I am thoroughly enjoying a 'lazy Saturday' today, so I thought I'd catch you up on the highlights of my last month.
  • Work rocks. The position I am in provides a healthy challenge daily, as I jump-start programs, coach staff, and serve as the resource I am titled to be. This is my third year being a Resource Coordinator, and it is interesting, because the challenge is totally still there, but the maturity of having held my position for so long is really starting to come through this year. It's kind of hard to explain. I feel like I have a larger 'box of tools' to use on the job; I feel like I am answering questions more solidly; I feel more comfortable in more settings with more people. I am supervising a practicum student this year, which feels like such a 'grown-up' role, and I am also currently subbing in a program with a child with severe behaviours, and I'm not struggling with it the way I feel I once might have. I've had a lot of "I can do that? ...I can do that!" moments.
  • I think part of the feeling more like a 'grown-up' (aside from the fact that I am now only 1.25 yrs away from being 30--yikes!), is that I'm starting to more often dress like a grown-up. While this may not seem like a 'fall highlight' to you, it's a big deal in my world! Working with children has always [gratefully] allowed a wash-and-wear wardrobe. Tees, jeans, capris, sneakers. It suits me well, cuz I don't much like dressing up. Still, I've slowly been realizing that--especially in the office, and when I'm out with friends--it might help me look more my age if I dressed more my age. So, over the last couple of months, I have meshed together the desire to be comfortable, the need for floor-play worthy clothes, and the benefit of dressing up a little bit when I have been shopping. I managed to get a couple new outfits into my closet in August, I also picked up a couple things in the outlets in Seattle, and most recently, acquired some gems at a clothing swap that I went to with my friend JP. When it was still really warm out, I had a ton of fun in skirts, and am moving into the pants and sweaters now that fall is here. Last Tuesday, I was downright exhausted all day long, but I was wearing what I can only describe as a perfect outfit. Usually I dress in accordance with my mood (i.e. tired = cozy and comfortable), so I stretched myself a little bit to wear comfortable, but nice. ...I think it helped a little bit! I can't wait to wear that particular outfit again on a good day!
  • My photography is also expanding a little bit. I am gleaning photography tips from credible online sources, and having fun out in the field (trying to get the glorious colours of autumn, if we would just have more sunny days!). I am trying to expand my skills by taking pictures that don't fall into my standard portrait or landscape or up-close shot. I tried some sports-action photos at some friends' ultimate frisbee game over the summer. And I am especially having fun experimenting with my wide-angle lens. And in the realm of my comfort zone, I had two people ask me to do their family photos, which has been rewarding. I am also currently turning several of my photos into Christmas cards for our church's December craft sale. I don't care to be a professional, but I'm excited to see what potential my photography does have.
  • I'm taking dance class! Friends and I have signed up for a weekly drop-in hip-hop class that will teach the basics of different styles like popping, krumping, house, etc. While my friends seem to have been looking for more of a cardio workout, I am thoroughly enjoying learning a new routine each week to build up a repertoire of choreography knowledge and dance skills. I'm breaking a sweat and feeling it the next day--that's enough of a work out for me!
I think that's about all that's new and exciting here in my little world. Now, back to my lazy Saturday...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Psalm 97

1 The Lord is king!
Let the earth rejoice!
Let the farthest coastlands be glad.
2 Dark clouds surround him.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire spreads ahead of him
and burns up all his foes.
4 His lightning flashes out across the world.
The earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
every nation sees his glory.
7 Those who worship idols are disgraced—
all who brag about their worthless gods—
for every god must bow to him.
8 Jerusalema]" has heard and rejoiced,
and all the towns of Judah are glad
because of your justice, O Lord!
9 For you, O Lord, are supreme over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.

10 You who love the Lord, hate evil!
He protects the lives of his godly people
and rescues them from the power of the wicked.
11 Light shines on the godly,
and joy on those whose hearts are right.
12 May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord
and praise his holy name!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cheering for the Visiting Team

I found this while organizing/sorting through some old files and stuff this past week. What a blessing to have so many in my life who cheer the visiting team with me. :)

I'm writing this ... on a Saturday morning in Boston. I came here to speak at a conference. After I did my part last night, I did something very spiritual: I went to a Boston Celtics basketball game. I couldn't resist. Boston Gardens is a stadium I'd wanted to see since I was a kid. Besides, Boston was playing my favourite team, the San Antonio Spurs. 
As I took my seat, it occurred to me that I might be the only Spurs fan in the crowd. I'd be wise to be quiet. But that was hard to do. I contained myself for a few moments, but that's all. By the end of the first quarter I was letting out solo war whoops every time the Spurs would score. 
People were beginning to turn and look. Risky stuff, this voice-in-the-wilderness routine. 
That's when I noticed I had a friend across the aisle. He, too, applauded the Spurs. When I clapped, he clapped. I had a partner. We buoyed each other. I felt better. 
At the end of the quarter I gave him the thumbs-up. He gave it back. He was only a teenager. No matter. We were united by the higher bond of fellowship. 
That's one reason for the church. All week you cheer for the visiting team. You applaud the success of the One the world opposes. You stand when everyone sits and sit when everyone stands. 
At some point you need support. You need to be with folks who cheer when you do. You need what the Bible calls fellowship. And you need it every week. After all, you can only go so long before you think about joining the crowd. 
-- Max Lucado

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tom and Aubergine Take Us to Seattle

There are not a lot of people in my world who don't know that I embarked on my first ever road trip over the Labour Day long weekend. JM, SC and I adventured down to Seattle, Washington for some shopping and some sight-seeing. We had a blast; the whole experience was just absolutely wonderful. I would even endure the stressful parts (that go along with any road trip) if it meant experiencing the same wonderfulness all over again.

The Drive Down (aka Sleepless To Seattle)

Work committments (mine) meant that we left late Friday afternoon. It took us 45 minutes to get out of Edmonton from Downtown, which we'd prepared for, it being a long weekend and all. Still, I felt it was once we were outside the city limits that we really started to get 'into' the drive down. Once the sun had set after we passed through Hinton, we traveled by the light of a glorious full moon, which cast black silhouetted mountains all night long. It was such a serene drive. ...For the most part...

We filled up Kamloops, which was the most complicated gas fill-up I've ever experienced. First off, it was around 2am, which meant I had to pre-pay with the dude in the store. Except you aren't let into the store. You pass your credit card through a box and tell him how much you want to pre-pay for. But in my case, my Visa suddenly had a fraud altert notice on it, and I couldn't use it. SIGH. Will have to call Visa in the morning. Okay, so debit card. Here comes the pin pad through the fancy box. But of course, if you don't fill up to what you authorized for, THEN you have to go back to the man on the other side of the box and get a refund for the difference. And then... can I get the washroom key? ...Again, all through the box.

Finally, we're on our way again. The car-top carrier vibrated a constant hum, despite attempts to silence it with additional bungee cords. Sometimes we managed to tune it out, other times, not so much. We gave up just outside Kamloops. Which was where I discovered the joys of the Coquihala. With the car-top carrier (not full, but still present) and the three of us, my car was not accelerating up hills at its normal capacity. And really, it's a 4-cylinder Civic. How much torque does she really have at the best of times? Well, the Coquihala is the most up and down highway system I've ever been on. On the inclines, it was all I could do to keep my car above 90km/h. I dropped down into fourth gear almost every time. But on the down grades, it was all I could do NOT to go faster than 120! There was one point where I took my foot off the gas because I was near 130km/h, and the car did not slow down on its own! Ain't no one sleeping at the wheel on that highway, I tell ya.

Finally, we reached the border. And that was easy-peasy. So, okay, Tom (the GPS system), where to now? Oh, you want me to go on that road that doesn't exist. Hmm... I'm not cool with that, Tom. We meander through the comunity of Nooksack for what seems like forEVer, and eventually hit the I-5. Hallelujah. Next challenge: getting to the hotel in Bellevue. We need to get from the I-5 to the 405, and I don't know why it was so challenging, because we did it with great ease several times over the next three days, but we missed it, had to turn around and try again. And it felt very confusing. And we were right exhausted by this point.

So we get to the hotel, ready to just crash on the beds in our hotel room, when we are informed that there is only one bed in our hotel room. Seriously?! Mix up in the reservation. Sigh. If a cancellation happens later, we can be upgraded, we are told. But right now, the hotel is full. Fine. Grumpily and wearily, we climb into bed (thankfully a king-size). ...Joy comes in the morning?

Joy and Peace Restored! (aka Saturday)

Although I only slept for two hours (solidly, at least), I was already feeling better on Saturday. While JM and SC slept a little bit longer, I went to the lobby, printed a couple maps for the day, and dealt with the Visa people. We had a lot of shopping coming up, and I needed a working credit card!

Our first fun activity of the day was The Container Store, which is like the home organization section of Ikea on steroids. They have a sign above much of their merchandise that states, "Organized. Happy." That pretty much sums it up. :) All three of us came out with perfect purchases. And as I vacuum-packed my linens this evening, I did yet another happy dance!

Seattle at Sunset by gina.blankAfter The Container Store, we headed into Seattle for the first time. Ladies and gentlemen, Seattle is beautiful. If it weren't for the overall lack of sunshine (and the fact that it's not Canada), I think I could totally live there. It's hilly, but without it feeling like the sky is closing in on you. The pace of the city is very laid-back. And everyone is so nice! We headed down to Pike's Market and checked things out there. I will need to come back to Seattle sometime when I can take a day by myself and take advantage of the photo ops down there. There was so much culture and dynamic! I enjoyed taking in the sights of the market, even if it did get overwhelming very quickly.

We ate dinner at a fun place called the Steelhead Diner, and then spontaneously decided to head to the Space Needle afterwards and check out the view. It was a good half hour walk to digest dinner and visually take in the downtown core. The Space Needle was great! I had been told it wasn't all that spectacular, but for a shutterbug at sunset, it was so nice!

By the time we came down from the Needle, it was pretty much dark, and we felt ready for a couple drinks before heading back to the hotel. We found this little place a couple blocks from the Needle called the Tilikum Place Cafe, and I cannot accurately or justifiably describe how wonderful this little place was. As we chatted about trip highlights on Monday's drive home, this little cafe came out as one of the top activities. Perhaps it was cuz we first went into this lounge that was a complete dive, I dunno. But we walked into this quiet and classy cafe, and were greeted by the nicest, most friendly staff I've ever run into. It was a family-run cafe, and you could tell that they loved what they did. The gentlemen who served us happily obliged to 'create' drinks that weren't directly off the menu, including the most accurate re-creation of my favourite drink. We chatted and sipped quite leisurely, sleep coming on, but none of us quite wanting to leave right away. Eventually we did depart. We had another exciting day ahead of us.

Shop Till You Drop (aka Sunday)

We had set aside Sunday to attack Seattle Premium Outlets, home of 110 different outlet stores, many of which don't yet exist in Canada. And even if they do, everything in them was relatively less expensive then purchasing them up here. PLUS, Alberta and Washington (and a couple other states) have an agreement that when visiting Washington, Albertans don't have to pay sales tax. It's a pretty sweet deal. We all did our own little happy dances and happy giggles in various stores. JM could have brought all of Le Creuset's kitchenwares home with her; SC found little plastic muffin holders for the muffins she takes to work (that may not sound overly exciting, but you didn't see the look of excitement on her face!); and I finally got a new windbreaker to replace my old, dying MEC one. It's from Columbia, it's brown and pink, and I love it. It also has a fleecy insert, so I can wear it into the early winter, as well (my big MEC winter jacket is not exactly trendy anymore, but it's in too good condition to justify a new one, so I would like to save it for just the -40 days). ...I also managed to grab a few stocking stuffers and such, and felt the trip was thoroughly successful. ...I have no justifications for spending any money on myself from now till the New Year, mind you!

After the outlets, we went back into Seattle for dinner, drinks, and dessert. JM and SC went for one last market jaunt, and dropped me off a few blocks before that to check out a store I'd been interested in on Saturday. Alas, it was closed, so I took advantage of the hour I had to myself and checked out a couple stores on the way to the market area, and tried to get at least a few pictures before meeting up with the girls again for supper.

They had found a little restaurant above the market area (Lowell's Restaurant), in which we sat at a window looking west across the Seattle port. And of course, the sun was in its early stages of setting, so the view was just so great. I also had the most amazing grilled cheese sandwich in the world (three cheeses, tomato, and bacon). ...After supper, we headed out for drinks and dessert. The wind had picked up, and it was relatively cold. The first three places we tried had 45-75min waits (apparently Sunday at 7pm on a long weekend is a peak time for restaurants in Seattle), but finally managed to find a place a little off the beaten track that seated us immediately. I tried creme brulee for the first time, and loved it. I also had Bailey's and coffee for the first time, and loved that, too. It was an excellent way to wind down the evening.

Upon returning to the hotel, we were finally able to upgrade our room to one with two beds (hooray, hooray!). I got a bed to myself that night; I felt very spoiled!

The Road Home (aka Smoothest Trip Ever)

We were up and at 'em quite early Monday morning to get a head start back to Canada. We had no idea what the border crossing would be like, and we knew we'd be dealing with duty and such once we got there. Plus we all had to work the next day. We went back the way we had come--through Nooksack and all that--and it was surprising how much more enjoyable it was to travel through during the day time. What a scenic little place, Northern Washington! It was also quite out of the way of traffic, and so when we arrived at the border, it was much like it had been when we'd come down: we were the only car. We pulled up to the stop, and answered the standard questions. Then we had to tell the customs lady how much money we'd spent. Julia and I were both over the 48-hour limit somewhat. "Were you guys aware of your exemption limits" "No, not really." (yeah, we kinda were, actually). The customs lady explained our limits, and how normally we'd have to go inside and fill out the forms for tax, duty and all that fun stuff. "But because you weren't aware of your exemption, I'm going to let you guys go through. But just so you're aware for next time..." and goes on to politely ask us to make sure we do our research before we next cross the border.

Once we are in the clear, all I hear is giggling from JM in the driver's seat before she exclaims, "ohmygod, I LOVE Canada!" ...Not that you reading this should take this as an example of how your own border crossing may or may not pan out on your own road trip, but we weren't really going to complain about ours.

Happily (in daylight, with a silent car-top carrier [we fixed it], and having slept the night before), we drove back through the glorious BC terrain and into our home province. Much conversation, and much music later, we drove the last stretch from Hinton home, again closing the day with a beautiful sunset behind us, and a large, rich harvest moon rising ahead of us. When I got home, I was just as exhausted as when I'd arrived in Seattle, but this time, it was the good kind of exhausted.

My summer has officially come to an end. What a wonderful finale.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not a Pansy Princess

So, I was playing pretend with S this afternoon. She made me a princess, and she chose to be my knight. She presented the appropriate play costumes, and we were ready to go. Good thing, as there were nasty dragons to be fought. S wielded her sword (read: pool noodle), and with a triumphant "I'll protect you!" took the first dragon down with amazing skill. Then she turned to me and invited me to help her with the next dragon. Sweet deal! The princess hardly ever gets to hold her own sword, let alone use one!

After slaying dragons, Sir S decided we'd better get married, the process of which involved going out to a fancy dinner (man, that would be a lot less stressful and expensive in real life!). We slayed some more dragons, and then I was made supper and dessert again (just regular supper this time, not the kind that gets you married). Play continued on a little bit after this, and then we went outside.

As I was driving home after, I realized that while she has no clue, S totally had some basic tenets of a good relationship thrown into our pretend play. In this day and age, a wife (i.e. the Princess) isn't just a pretty little thing of her husband's (i.e. the Knight). She is (and wants to be) part of the action! The husband has a role to be the protector, and is confident to take initiative, but knows to invite his wife alongside to slay life's dragons together.

At the same time, the wife needs to know she's appreciated and loved at the end of the day, after all the dragon-fighting has been done. Nothing grandiose. Just something that says, "y'know, honey--we fought some big dragons today, and I'm glad you're on my side. I just wanted to say I appreciate you for that."

One day, S will want to be the princess. There is a fantastic knight waiting for her somewhere. One who will let her help fight the dragons, and take her to dinner after. :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

"The whole universe is too small to contain his immensity. We can no more catch a hurricane in a shrimp net or Niagara Falls in a coffee cup than we can grasp the infinity of God's reality." -- Unknown

Monday, August 10, 2009

Not Meant to Understand, Just Go With It

Taken from Beth Moore's book, Believing God (good book overall. I especially enjoyed the last four chapters, from which this passage comes).

Not a Children's Book

"The Bible is not a book for the faint of heart--it is a book full of all the greed and glory and violence and tenderness and sex and betrayal that befits mankind. It is not the collection of pretty little anecdotes mouthed by pious little church mice--it does not so much nibble at our shoe leather as it cuts to the heart and splits the marrow from the bone. It does not give us answers fitted to our small-minded questions, but truth that goes beyond what we even know to ask." -- James Bryan Smith

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Speaking of Tomatoes...

"The difference between knowledge and wisdom is that, knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, while wisdom is not putting it into a fruit salad!" -- Unknown

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Story of the Not-so-Green Thumb

Once upon a time there was a girl who planted things in garden boxes on her balcony. This year, the girl was growing lettuce, and for the first time, attempting herbs: dill and oregano. Vigilantly, she nurtured the seeds she planted, but while the dill started shooting up fairly quickly, the oregano remained hidden under the soil.

Eventually, a plant appeared in the empty garden box! This plant was also sprouting up amongst the dill and in the lettuce. Presuming the wind had blown the seeds around early on, the girl sighed in relief that her oregano had at least started growing, and kept tending to her little garden.

One day, the girl was at a friend's house. Her friend was making vegetable dip, and as she moved around the kitchen, commented, "...needs some oregano." The girl watched in confusion as her friend snatched some leaves from a plant in the kitchen that looked nothing like her own oregano plant. Knowing that her friend was much wiser about food plants than she, the girl decided to deal with the foreign garden plant once she got home.

Upon closer inspection, she realized that not only did this plant not look like oregano, it didn't even smell like oregano. It kinda stunk, actually. And the rate at which the plant was growing was exceeding the dill and the lettuce. One of the stalks even had a little yellow flower forming on it. Hmm, the girl thought, a fast growing plant growing in all my garden boxes... Weeds! The thought that weeds had been growing so freely in her garden boxes annoyed her greatly. They could have hampered the growth of the other plants! She diligently yanked all the stalks out of the boxes and tossed them in the garbage. That felt better. It certainly looked better.

Two weeks passed and the girl thought nothing of her garden box misadventure. Then one day, the girl was playing with her niece in the family's back yard. Her family that lived there had a beautifully landscaped back yard, so the girl thought it odd when she sat down next to a large, gangly-looking plant near the patio--a giant version of the plant she'd had in her own garden boxes. I know my family's been busy, the girl thought, but they wouldn't let a weed get this bad... would they? The smallest seed of doubt started to fill the girl's mind. She moved the stalks around a bit to inspect the massive plant more closely. She gasped.


Sure enough, small green tomatoes were sprouting all over the plant. The girl's heart sank as she realized what she'd done in her own garden. She'd had at least half a dozen tomato plants growing, and she'd yanked them all. No, she hadn't researched the foreign plant online. No, she hadn't asked anyone about it possibly not being a weed. Where would tomato seeds have come from?!--No one else's balcony had tomatoes. And why would something so yummy come from a plant that smells so awful?! ...There had been no reason to make the link from "not oregano" to "tomato". As a result, she'd lost the potential for one of her favourite garden foods.

...And she still had no oregano.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Taken from All I Ever Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
By Robert Fulghum

Better than hide-and-seek, I like the game Sardines. In Sardines the person who is it goes and hides, and everybody else goes looking for him. When you find him, you get in with him and hide there with him. Pretty soon everybody is hiding together, all stacked in a small space like puppies in a pile. And pretty soon somebody giggles and somebody laughs and everybody gets found.

Medieval theologians even described God in hide-and-seek terms, calling him Deus Absconditus. But me, I think old God is a Sardine player. And will be found the same way everybody gets found in Sardines--by the sound of laughter of those heaped together at the end.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Realizing Home

Hard to believe, but I am about half way through my summer vacation time already. Already! It has been a blast so far, and I don't doubt that the rest of the summer will be just as wonderful.

Most recently, I just returned from a week-long trip to Nova Scotia to see C&Lorie (and K!). I hadn't seen them in about a year, and was way excited to go back to the East coast, which I hadn't visited since 2005 when they got married.

The trip was wonderful. Nova Scotia is a beautiful province. A completely different beautiful than Alberta. NS isn't even remotely like Alberta, except that both provinces are in Canada. NS is almost entirely trees. Lush green rolling hills wherever you look (and because of the humidity, it all smells so good!). All the trees, and the small size of the province in general, allow for a really 'cozy' feeling. There are no long streets or avenues of cookie-cutter houses and neighbourhoods. Heck, there are no long streets or avenues, period. All the roads wind and curve in all directions. Houses sit nestled into the sides of hills, as well as along shorelines. Small towns are all the rage. Very picturesque. Cozy.

I enjoyed all of it so much that I was surprised to find that, nearing the end of the week, I was craving a little more openness. I wasn't feeling claustrophobic, per se, but I was realizing how Albertan I was. Having lived in Alberta my entire life, this makes sense, but I was nevertheless taken a bit by surprise to realize that by about Thursday, I was starting to crave 'the familiar' in a manner akin to that of when I was in Haiti.

I found it frustrating to not know whether the clouds were coming or going. In Edmonton, the weather travels consistently west to east (actually, slightly diagonally across the city--more like NW to SE). I can look west and see what's coming. In NS, everything moves around in circles up and down the coast line. I couldn't figure it out. Add to that the fact that I couldn't tell if I was facing north or south half the time, unless it was evening and the sun was setting. And despite the beauty of all the surrounding trees, the sky just felt a bit smaller. Horizon? What horizon? I just wanted to stand up on a roof somewhere and be able to look out over things. Cozy was getting too cozy.

THEN we went to the beach. L took me to her grandparents' cottage at Heather's Beach, up on the north shore of NS near Pugwash. On a clear day, you can look out across the water and see PEI. This was by far the best part of my trip.

First of all, I knew where I was. The cottage was atop a cliff that looked out over the water--north, east, south, west were all very easy to find. How reassuring just to be able to place myself! The sky immediately opened up on the higher ground, and it just felt so much better!

Still, had the cottage been nestled in the trees somewhere, away from any sort of directional indicators, this still would have been the best part of the trip. As I mentioned, it was SO good to be able to see C&L again. The whole week had reminded me of this. Lorie and I spent a lot of time driving, which allowed for the ability to catch up through conversation on the last year. On the Wednesday, I participated in C&L's kung fu lesson--as I had done some of these lessons a few years ago when they led them at their house in Edmonton, it brought back some fond memories. On Thursday, we went to the new Harry Potter movie.

When we were at the cottage, the cards were brought out in the evenings, and everyone grabbed their drink of choice, and we played. And I realized how much I had missed that aspect of my social life. For five years I had known that it was pretty much a guarantee that C&L would be up for hanging out on Saturday nights, and this almost always involved card games. For the last year, that social option hasn't been there.

While there are many things that I can do with all my friends, I have found that there are always a few select activities that are more or less specific to certain friendships. For example, Grey's nights. Those are with JM and/or JP and/or SC. I can totally watch Grey's with other friends, but it just wouldn't be the same.

So it was the cards on the Friday and Saturday night... along with the back-and-forth banter... and the laughter... and the one crazy story we hadn't heard yet (plus the stories we'd heard and laughed about 100 times)... and that Nova Scotian atmosphere... that reminded me of the unique aspects of this friendship that I had missed. I had traveled clear across the country, and it was still like being home.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer Sunday Sun

With nothing on the agenda this weekend, I wanted to take advantage of the summer sun. Yesterday proved to be a challenge, though, as it was mostly cloudy, punctuated with mere 5-minute bursts of sunshine every now and again. Also punctuated with 5-minute bursts of rain. It was quite the odd Saturday. There was a solid half hour where Princess and I both basked in the sun (her eating grass, me reading a book), but that was it. I raised my white flag at about 4pm that afternoon, and cozied on the couch with my book instead before heading to Jennifer's to watch a movie.

Today, however, was quite sunny out all day, so knowing that the forecast predicts rain for the next three days, I decided to take advantage of what I was being given. After church, Princess and I spent about half an hour outside before even I thought it was a bit too warm to just be sitting still. So I tucked the cat inside, brought my bike outside, and went for a lazy meandering ride in my neighbourhood. I am mere blocks from Ada Boulevard, a street that lines the north side of the river valley in Edmonton. Gorgeous houses, gorgeous view (if you don't look too far east to the refineries), and a nice quiet ride. I rode clear from one end of Ada to the other, and then rested on a bench for a bit to just admire the view. This city really does have quite a bit of beauty to it.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Two days into my summer schedule, and I am loving it. Respite in the morning, and whatever I want in the afternoons. I am still a bit slow-moving after my backpacking adventure, so I'm glad my schedule has afforded me the ability to be slow-moving. Yesterday afternoon, I puttered around a bit on the computer, and then had a two-hour nap. When I awoke, I thought, "should I be productive now?" But by this time it was 6pm, so I had supper, puttered around a bit more on the computer (read: played around in Photoshop), and then forfeited productivity in exchange for cozying back on the couch with my book (I am currently reading through the Twilight series, and finished New Moon last night).

This afternoon, I had more energy, so I ran a couple errands, and then tackled some organizational things--letters to mail, papers to fill out, junk to recycle. I haven't yet gained access to the third book of the Twilight series (Eclipse), otherwise I'd be on the couch again, for sure. Yes, I know, I could start reading any other book while I wait for Eclipse to come into the library, but I wasn't proactive in that task early enough. The library closes early on Fridays. ...I will saunter down the block (okay, three blocks) to the library tomorrow and see what I can find.

I am also s'posed to hang out with JC tomorrow. I am working up the courage to ride my bike to her place. I have done it before (although not since last summer); it takes about an hour. Thing is, today was the first day since returning from BC that I've been able to sit down or crouch without my legs being on fire; the first day that I haven't moved around like an 85-year-old lady! ...I would love to start taking my bike out more regularly; I just don't want to push it.

Ah, well, I can always have a nap afterwards.

Friday, June 26, 2009

And.... cue summer!

Today was the last day of work for the summer. Well, last day of 'real' work. Similar to last year, I will be doing respite care throughout July and part of August, which is technically work cuz I'm getting paid. But it's much more laid back, and much more flexible hours. It's the perfect way to still have some income during the summer and be able to maximize the fun!

I have a packed summer ahead of me! When I tell people what I'm going to be up to, their brows furrow and they generally comment, "ooh--that sounds busy." But I don't see it that way. I think of each adventure I'm going to be engaging in, and I just see relaxation and fun; a change of pace! In the next eight weeks, I will be:

1. Backpacking up Mt. Robson, BC
2. Hanging out with C&Lorie in Nova Scotia
3. Cushy-camping in Kananaskis with part of my respite family.
4. Camping in Cadomin (near Jasper), which has turned into a stomping ground of sorts, as it will be the third year in a row at this wonderfully peaceful area.
5. Still pending--road tripping to Seattle.

And during the week, most of my afternoons will be open for lazy River Valley bike rides, naps in the sun, and other such peaceful activities. Ready or not, summer, here I come!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Perfect Saturday

I can't help reflecting upon how good this day has been. Saturdays rock; and summer rocks. And today has pretty much been the best of both worlds.

It started by waking up after 9 1/2 glorious hours of sleep, followed by a brief kitty cuddle. I spent the morning just puttering around my condo--tackling a bit of laundry, removing things from my balcony (they're painting next week), and prettying my toenails on said sunny balcony.

Lunch time brought the phone call that would determine details for the afternoon's activities which I had been anticipating from the day before. The bike trails and sunshine were calling; this could not be ignored! My friend JP and I hopped on the LRT down to meet JM, and to the River Valley on our bikes we went. Sunny and 25C (77F), barely a cloud in the sky--what a glorious day for a bike ride! We headed down into the valley near Kinsmen, and up onto one of my favourite roads in Edmonton--River Valley Road. A canopy of trees lines the entire stretch of bike trail that runs parallel with the river; it is so pretty (the photo--not mine--is taken in the fall, I know, but you get the point). We continued through a couple parks areas, reveling in the smells of summer that we passed, and affirming over and over that we must go camping, we must go camping, we must go camping!

We finished our journey at Hawrelak Park, one of Edmonton's biggest parks (that's not a golf course). The place was packed with people--BBQ, frisbee, soccer, biking, jogging; it was all happening. We snacked on cherries and enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells.

I was very impressed with my overall endurance. Still, I decided to take the train home, which allowed me some reading of Twilight; I am halfway through the first book, and plan on reading the series over the course of this summer. After arriving home, I continued to read as I soaked in a refreshingly warm bubble bath, and traded my salty, sticky, gritty self for a softer, vanilla-fragranced version. Post-soak, I got into some comfortable clothes, and lazily pinned back my hair (which is finally growing out enough to get away with being laissez-faire about it!).

As I prepared pork chops and corn on the cob for supper, I noticed on Facebook that JC's evening was as open as mine--come on over, I said; I've got corn on the cob! JC also had the fantastic idea to make smoothies. Strawberries, kiwis, ice, a bit of sugar, and a touch of Smirnoff Raspberry--it was SO good; I can't describe how it added so beautifully (and tastefully) to my summer day. JC and I decided to watch Now and Then to continue basking in the feeling of summer goodness.

Now that the sun has finally set, and my condo is starting to cool off for the night, I am getting ready to stretch out and delve into some more Twilight before bed.

Yes, this day has been pretty much perfect.