Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Break Day 5

Half way through Spring Break. Not "only half way" or "half way already"... just half way. The week is not moving overly quickly or boringly slowly. It's kind of been perfect. I really love the pace of down time. I am still engaged in activities, as is my nature, but there's no... strict agenda. No rush. I set out my day on my terms. As a result, I am moving through the week on an entirely different perspective. And it's been quite the week!

...I cannot believe how much money I've spent this week. And not on just frivolous stuff! It just seems I'm tackling a bunch of grown-up errands at once while I have more free time. This week, I have done groceries, purchased concert tickets, renewed my license plate, purchased several gifts for upcoming birthdays and occasions... and tomorrow my car gets its oil changed. And I have photos to pick up some time in the next couple days.

I've learned that I actually like doing groceries better in the evenings or early mornings (the former happens way more often than the latter) than in the afternoons. Apparently, afternoons is when many +65-ers hit the grocery store. It's slow. And congested.

I took the train to respite the other day instead of driving. I intend to do the same on Friday and Monday. It actually takes 10-15 minutes longer to get to N&S's place using transit, but some days it's just so nice to leave the car at home, and let something else move me from Point A to B while I listen to my iPod and read.

I have just started reading Memoirs of a Geisha, and although I am only four chapters in, I am thoroughly enjoying it. The writing is fantastic. It has been so long since I have read a really, really well-written book. I have read several books that are "good", even "quite good", but it has been well over a year since I have found anything that hits the level of "fantastic."

I am hoping to take my bike out for its first spring ride in the next couple days. Maybe in conjunction with train travel to N&S's. The days are definitely warmer, but the last couple have been so windy! I really just don't like the wind at all.

Passover and Easter are this week. This is the first time I will attend a Maundy Thursday service. Generally, the day before Good Friday is the end of a work-week, and by the time Seder supper is over (done annually at my church before the service), I'm just done, so I go home. But this year, Spring Break and Easter is all together, so my social energy has not been depleted. On Saturday, St. Paul's has its alternative service, which happens a few times a year. It's a more artistic liturgy, with a lot more room for just listening to the Holy Spirit. It's something I need practice at. And while I am running the projector for the service, as I did last time, it's still an interesting worship opportunity.

Also this week, I have been playing around a bit in Photoshop. Okay, when am I not playing around in Photoshop? But I downloaded this free plug-in for it that has several presets to artistically enhance my photos, and I've been quite enjoying it. Plus, my three top models are always ready and available to provide me with great photos! One of my favourite presets is one called "WWII." It really does make the photo look like it was taken in the 40's...

And of course, the highlight of the week thus far, my condo is on the market! That I did not see happening as a Spring Break activity. But! I signed all the relevant papers with my realtor yesterday--now someone just has to come in and fall in love with the place! ...Truth be told, I do love my little place. I have lived here exactly three years this weekend. Aside from university, this is the longest I have lived at one residence since I moved away from home. I have loved my little place. A lot of growing and blessing has gone on here. And it is because of the growing and blessing that I find myself needing a different kind of space. One that will allow for more growing and blessing.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Break Day 1

Today is the first official day of Spring Break for me, and if it continues along in the manner it has today, that will be A-okay!

I woke up after 9 1/2 hours of sleep, two cats purring and nestled on either side of me. This is not entirely unusual for a Saturday morning whenever I can help it, but a great way to start the day nevertheless.

Puttering around my condo, I got a phone call from my almost-two-year-old-nephew. He has just recently learned how to say my name, and I just LOVE it when kids learn how to say my name! The conversation was, simply, "Hi, Gina!" (and a very brief re-cap of his favourite movie, the Grinch, which he tells me every time I see him); it melted my heart!

Speaking of melting, after a week of cloudy and flurry-ish weather, the sun finally made a re-appearance today. With the thermometer reading 15C (60F), I put on my sneakers and iPod and headed outside. I had originally just planned to do my usual River Valley Loop, but once I got down into the River Valley, I just kept going. Instead, I did a 2 1/2 hour loop of North and South shore River Valley Trails. It was fantastic.

Upon return home, I was suddenly starving, so quickly got on the task of supper. But after that, I pretty much got comfy on the couch with various laptop tasks, and haven't done much else. Sounds lame, remember, this is the introvert on Spring Break. A quiet evening is not always a bad thing!

Earth Hour was this evening, and this is the first year I've been able to actively participate. In 2008 I was in the Hancock Tower of Chicago, which did Earth Hour within the building, but I was sadly disappointed in all the lights on in other buildings as I viewed the Chicago urban area from above. Last year... I can't remember, but I was somewhere where it wasn't an option. So I remedied that this year by illuminating my living room with a variety of candles, and it just helped to add the calm, relaxing ambience I have been taking in all day. Earth Hour ended half an hour ago, and I still haven't turned on the lights!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sweet Saturday

This day has just been too perfect not to blog about. It started early for a Saturday. I set the alarm for 7am so that I could watch my friend's ultrasound online. Technology rocks--to be able to be three time zones away and still be a part of things like these with people I care about. It was so sweet. Baby smiled, moved his hands, and generally just looked adorable.

Afterwards, my brain was quite happy to return to unconsciousness for a couple more hours, and I re-awoke later in the morning definitely more refreshed. I was mildly disappointed when I looked out my window and the sky was cloudy and white and not the sunny that had been forecast by Environment Canada. But by the time I met my friends at Transcend Coffee, the clouds were making way for glorious early spring sunshine. We chatted in the upstairs lounge near the window for a while before deciding to take advantage of the sun on a long, loopy walk through the UofA farm.

I returned home cozy on endorphins and vitamin D, and have settled into a relaxing evening of television, internet puttering, and cat cuddling.

Thank You, Lord, for such abundant blessings. The blessing of technology, and the blessing of life. The blessing of friendships, and warm spring days. Thank You that I live in a place where these are all realities for me. You would be worthy of praise and thanks, even if I had slept through the ultrasound. Even if it had snowed today. Even if I had spent the day in my condo doing nothing. But You choose to bless, and You do so abundantly. Thanks. Amen.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I ♥ My Niece!

Context: I was looking at animal figurines with my nephew, A, and was labeling the scorpion one for him. My niece, S, was close by.

S: "Aunty Gina, what's a scorpion?"
G: "It's... kind of a bug." A bit worried she'll freak out about them, I reassure her, "they don't live here in Canada cuz it's too cold in the winter. They only live where it's hot all the time."
S: "...I think I would like to live there."
G: (completely taken aback) "Yeah?"
S: "Yeah, cuz if it's hot all the time, then we don't have to worry about all this bundling up."

Music to an aunty's ears!!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Not So Different...

Okay, so I recently watched an 80's teen movie called Can't Buy Me Love. It was recommended to me by a friend cuz the male lead is Patrick Dempsey, who is also the male lead on Grey's. From the outset, I knew this would not be a 'substance' movie. I expected 80's cheese, and it was 80's cheese.

But I had to wonder a couple times: if I had been a young adult in the late 80's and had watched the movie 20 years ago when it was new, would I have thought it to be cheesy, or would I have thought it was a feel-good teen movie? A while ago, I posted about how, re-watching some old clips of Lois & Clark, I could admit that it was definitely a bit cheesy twelve years later. But I sure didn't think that when I was sixteen! ...Maybe cheese is relative?

Okay, so here's the final scene from Can't Buy Me Love. Context: geek pays popular girl to go out with him, but even though she ends up really liking him, she blows his cover in a moment of weakness. There's animosity. Can chic and geek really co-exist together?

Now here's the ending scene from the fourth season finale of Grey's, which I was watching this evening. Context: on-again-off-again for the last three years, Meredith and Derek are discovering themselves and what they really want out of relationships.

Really, what's so different about a kiss riding into the Arizona sunset and a kiss atop a Washington cliff in a candle lit house plan? I think it's just time that renders the former cheesy. Clothing trends change. Issues-of-the-day change. But the concept... discovering what really matters in making a relationship work; discovering that there's someone who loves you for who you are; having that true love approach you with the kiss you've been waiting for for who knows how long; having the happy ending... The concept is timeless.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Lesson in Listening

So, when you call Blockbuster and they don't have what you're looking for, and they tell you to try HMV, don't call four other video retailers first (the fourth of whom will also tell you to try HMV). Really do try HMV, because they had what you were looking for all along.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Seattle Suburbs

On Sunday, JM and I checked out Timberlake Church in Redmond (just east of Bellevue). The large, modern-style church was located in a beautiful space, with a green, forested view that made me feel more like I was at a retreat centre than a church service.

While I don't think I would ever make Timberlake Church a regular church to visit when I go to Seattle, it was interesting to attend for one Sunday. JM and I couldn't figure out why, with such a great worship band, no one was standing and singing along. Still, the message, which is obviously one of the most important parts, was decent. We were worried that, being Valentine's Day, it was going to be another stereotypical sermon on love. Instead, the pastor talked about relationships, and while there was some emphasis on marriage, he was inclusive, and talked about principles important in all relationships. Occasionally, he would say something, and we couldn't quite tell if he was joking or not (if he was, fine; if not, um...), but the overall message was well-received, and it was a nice way to start the day.

Sunday afternoon was spent at Seattle Premium Outlets, snagging deals that are unheard of in Edmonton most of the time (we've had people in Seattle actually ask us, "don't you guys have a huge mall up there?", and we give the same response: "it's just not the same."). In the grand scheme of things, I didn't actually walk out of there with a whole ton, but there just wasn't that much I really needed. A couple tops, a pair of shoes, some wonderful snacks from Harry & David... If you have not tried Harry & David popcorn snacks, I highly recommend them! Yummmmmm!

After seven hours of wandering the Outlet stores, JM and I headed back to Bellevue for supper (at Barrios; fantastic), and to take advantage one last time of the hotel's hot tub to prep our muscles for the drive home. Another fantastic weekend.