Saturday, May 29, 2010

Just Three Days

In just three days, the weather has gone from warm and sunny to cold and snowing. Snowing. Wet snow for the last several hours and to continue into tomorrow. I have been keeping an eye on my flowers, and am not really sure what to do to ensure that they survive this crazy weather.

(Those blurry white spots in the background of the right image are snowflakes.) 

...In three more days, the forecast is sunny and 18C (64F). Oh, Alberta.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I am not the best green thumb in the world. Indoors, the only plant I have ever managed to keep alive (and propogate, actually) is a philodendron that lives on my bookshelf. I have killed all the other so-called 'hearty' plants I've ever owned: ivy, spider plants, cacti, bamboo. This year, mind you, people seem to keep thinking that I must know what to do with plants, because they keep giving them to me.

It started with a lavender that NA gave me about a month ago; which I seem to have transplanted successfully to an outdoor box. Don't ask me what happens when I need to bring it back inside in the fall. Then, JP's aloe plant exploded baby offshoots, so she gave me one of those. A week-and-a-half and it's still alive; that's a good sign! Last week, my mom offered me a tomato plant seedling. Considering last year I seemed to grow them quite successfully without even trying, I figured I could try one on purpose. He got transplanted today, and I will move him outside once it's more predictably warm. And today, a coworker bought me a peace lily plant to say thanks for taking photos of her kids. As that plant needs "indirect" sunlight, I am keeping it at work and away from my south-facing, large-windowed condo. The plant is beautiful and I want to keep it alive.

And yes, I've even bought plants myself on purpose. I went to Costco last week with my friend JC and bought flowers for my balcony boxes. The last couple of years, I have had moderate success with vegetables. This year, since my place is up for sale and I am hopefully moving (two months and no showings later...), I thought flowers would be a better option aesthetically and practically.

The day after I bedded them, we had the rain of all rains, and then four more days of subsequent drizzle and cloud. I watched as all my flowers got repeatedly beat up. A week later, and they're faring all right. The two boxes contain the same flowers. The hanging, vine-like flowers in one of the boxes is looking quite sad, and I think it's beyond recussitation at this point. Everything else seems to be doing just fine, however. The daisies, which spent last week with its petals mushed together, have opened up to the sunlight that returned yesterday. And the pansies are starting to lift their heads again, too.

Purple by gina.blankWho knows? You kill enough plants, something's gotta start living, right? ;)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ammendment to Relationships

Okay, I think I want to add something to what I was talking about the other day on expectations in relationships. I had reflected upon the idea that we should engage with people in relationships not just for what they bring to the relationship, but for who they are in the relationship. Not focusing just on what needs we are expecting them to fulfill, but meeting them where they are at in the moment and focusing on the person.

And I haven't changed my mind.

The thing is, different relationships do fulfill different needs. The author of blog from which I drew my reflections commented that she started to "strip away the definitions of what I thought a friend, a mother, a sister, a brother, a father or a companion were supposed to mean, and see that people simply did the best they could. They did what they were emotionally and physically capable of doing. ...Something you think you should get from a friend… maybe that actually comes from your mom. Or a comfort you want to have from your mother, maybe a sibling steps up and fills that role."

I get this. Many times I have had something going on in my life, and the response from my friends has maybe been contrary to what I was expecting (both good and bad).

The author says her relationships are more fulfilling because she's "not expecting people to be something they’re not." I do believe this is quite important. If you expect something from someone, and they can't provide that, it's disappointing. So by shifting your perspective and meeting them where they're at, there is less room for disappointment, cuz you're not expecting them to meet the need that they just can't. You know that need will come from somewhere else.

But I do think there is a role for us to express our various needs to the people we are in relationships with while still meeting them where they're at. I think there is a difference between expectation and accountability. I should not place expectations on people and automatically ditch the relationship if those expectations aren't met. That's pretty superficial. I do think, however, that we can hold people accountable to their potential.

For example, if I have a friend that I regularly went to see movies with, let's say, and suddenly she's injured such that she is rendered blind, obviously the nature of our friendship changes. I shouldn't abandon the friendship just cuz she and I can't share that connection anymore. I need to shift my perspective to meet her where she's at and foster new activities together. However, if that friend who's injured starts behaving differently in response to her new disability--turning down requests to hang out; refusing help from others; isolating, etc.--I should be able to call her on that, and ask her to seek the assistance necessary to pull it together or it will impact our friendship. I can still meet her where she's at emotionally, but she also needs to know that meeting her where she's at without moving to where her potential lies will alter the relationship significantly. ...And I would expect this the other way around, too, if it were me.

That's not a completely out-to-lunch idea, is it?

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Today I barbequed for the first time. I inherited JM's old (ancient?) BBQ when she moved. She assured me that it worked (with a caveat that some parts might need fiddling around with), so I decided to test things out this afternoon. When all systems looked good but nothing was happening, I was concerned that the tank might be empty. I was prepared for this, given the lightness of the tank when I initially brought it home. However, a neighbour's quick inspection found that the tank just wasn't screwed in tight enough to the hose to engage the flow of propane. ...And the ignite button's broken, but not crucial for successful lighting.

So I was up and running! I seasoned my steak accordingly and put it on the grill. I then oscillated back-and-forth between photo editing, meat-checking, photo editing, meat checking. It looked good; it smelled good. When I started thinking my steak must be close to ready, I realized that my barbeque was no longer lit. It had run out of propane.

I was prepared for a slightly less-well-done steak than is my preference, but upon cutting into it, it was nothing but perfect. Just the faintest hint of pink on the inside. I had had just enough propane for my steak. I smiled. I may have also engaged in a very mild happy dance. I complemented my steak with corn on the cob, grape tomatoes, and cucumber slices. I sat down and enjoyed a perfect summer time meal.

In the same breath with which JM assured me the BBQ worked, she also assured me that it would "revolutionize" my summer. ...I think she's right.

Relationship, Fellowship, Community

Sometime last year, my passion for the people in my life got heightened. I just got this sense that I needed to start really focusing on my interactions with others--in all relationships; in fellowship and community. Not just with the people I'm close to, but with people I might only cross paths with once; acquaintances; friends of friends. God calls us to be in relationship, and to be in community. He has blessed me with a core group of people that I see more, communicate with more, desire to grow more closely with, and whom I love fiercely. But I interact with so many other people, too.

I might be in a kindergarten in the morning, at playgroup in the afternoon, at Bible study that evening. The next day I might be in a family's home, and then at a consultant meeting, and providing respite somewhere that evening. How many people might I have interacted with in just 48 hours?

Needless to say, I've spent a lot of time recently thinking about my best fit at work, with friends, with family, in different social circles... where am I supposed to be building relationships? What does God want my different relationships to look like? And how do I live that out?

Via a link off another blog I tend to follow, I found an interesting article on relationships. It is something I think I intuitively figured out several years ago, but never really thought about overtly. It talks about being in relationship not solely for what each person brings to the relationship, but for who each person is in the relationship. Not expecting that because someone is a certain type of friend or colleague, they will fulfill criteria X, Y, and Z; but instead, that friend or colleague brings something of themselves which gives the relationship value, regardless of what they do, but instead, because of who they are.

Interestingly, I think--at least, for myself--this mindset is more likely in relationships that have I've been in for a long time. While each of the people I am close to have strengths that I admire, and that I expect I can count on them for (as I'm assuming others would of me), my desire to spend time with them or grow the relationship starts to have less and less to do with their tangible contributions to the relationship, and more and more to do with just wanting to enjoy that person.

What I've been wanting to do is be able to extend that to the relationships that don't necessarily have a history behind them. To enjoy families that I might only interact with once, and not just carry out the consulting role I am expected to perform. To not expect something specific out of a relationship just because that person meets criteria X when we hang out, but to just be with the person. And the opposite: to seek to build a relationship with someone I might not necessarily take the time to form a deep relationship with because I only expect them to meet criteria X.

It's a work in progress, but it's a blessing-filled journey so far!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Don't Mess With My Music

I love music. While my science-loving, left-sided brain dominates a lot of what I love to do and my overall temperament, there are still artistic, musical, right-brained clusters of neurons that permeate many of my activities. I enjoy having music around for most of my waking hours; in the car, on the computer, as I play with the children I work with... I have quite a bit of fun still making mix CDs for my car. I get so much satisfaction ordering the music in just that perfect way. ...And over time, the music forms associations depending on where it's heard. There are certain songs that will induce in me a strong craving to go camping. Or to drive to Seattle. Or to relive some of my university years.

I have to admit, though--although I love music, I'm not as current in the music scene as you'd think I would be. I don't actually listen to the radio a whole lot, and even less to the most mainstream of stations. The stuff I like, I generally either find by accident (i.e. I hear something on someone else's stereo that I find kind of catchy), or seek out for a specific reason (i.e. a friend recommended it, or it's from Grey's). I only really know a handful of artists across musical genres.

Regardless, I love music. And because I love music, I love iTunes. Along with Photoshop, it is probably one of the best-loved programs on my laptop--which I also love. I've had my laptop for four years, and while I'm not on the newest-of-the-new operating systems, my XP is not entirely obsolete, and my laptop holds up well. But occasionally it has issues shutting down. So when it was doing that the other day, I manually forced it to shut down with the power button. Which I've done several times before in moments of impatience, without consequence. Not so much the other day.

The next time I started my computer after that, I noticed my internet settings had been reset. Fair enough. Whatever, I thought. Then I opened up my iTunes. It, too, had been reset. My over-1200 songs and nine customized playlists were gone. "Oh, crap." My brain started racing. The music can't be GONE-gone, I thought. I forced myself to think, enlisting Google to help remind me of technological details I was having trouble remembering in-the-moment as my brain was trying to solve the issue and keep from freaking out at the same time. The iTunes folder. Right! It's where iTunes automatically organizes song files when imported or downloaded from the iTunes store. Most of my music was there. The rest was in My Music folder. It took over an hour, but eventually, I had virtually all my music back in my iTunes library. I even put music back into the simpler of my customized playlists. It was midnight by this time, however, and I made it part of the plan to deal with the more complex of playlists the next day. I went to bed with a sense of satisfaction at how resourceful I'd been in solving the issue.

My mom (who stayed with me the past few days) went on the computer early in the morning when she was up, however, and it asked her about a "disk cleanup". It must have done a heavy duty clean up, cuz when I went into my programs, the internet and iTunes had been reset again! I was not impressed. I called Tech Support at Apple to see if I should just uninstall and reinstall iTunes at this point (yes), and got e-mailed details to uninstall all of iTunes' various components in proper order. I ran another disk clean-up. Then I de-fragged the C:\ drive outright. Then I uninstalled iTunes and its friends (QuickTime, etc.). I emptied the recycle bin for good measure. And finally, downloaded and reinstalled iTunes.

I added ONE song into my music library. Then I shut down the computer and started it up again. I wasn't about to go through the process of re-loading over 1200 songs again until I knew that there were no more issues. Upon restart, the one song was still there (and my internet started where it was supposed to start). Halle-ja-loo-yah!

So for a second time, I re-loaded all 1200 songs (distributed across 4-5 main folders). And we are now good. I still have a playlist that needs to be ordered properly, and my larger playlists may not have all the songs that they originally had (I can only cross-reference so much with what's on my iPod, cuz I haven't up-synced the iPod in a while). But I'm pretty much there.

I love my music. Most of the music in my iTunes is on CD, many of which live in my car. But aside from the hassle it would have been to have to reload that way, it's nice to have all my music in one location to just listen to whatever I want, however I want, with one click.

I worked hard to build a library of music I love... don't take that away from me!