Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 In Review

A list of thoughts regarding the year that was: - New Year's trip to Ontario; hanging out with cousins. - Josh Ritter concert that rocked our socks off. - Discovery of the heart murmur: three months of worry and lost sleep. - Finished year one of grad school. - E&B's house purchase and move. - England. Sigh. James Herriot country; Wordsworth's muse; a land of history, of wellington boots and border collies, of stone fences and sheep pastures, of majestic old castles. A most beautiful place in the world. - A wonderful summer of running, gardening, geocaching, walking, farmers' marketing and discovering free things to do in Calgary...it went so fast! - Our 24th birthdays. - My parents' 25th wedding anniversary. - R&T's sweet William's birth. - Calgary Folk Music Festival with J&M. Highlight: Martyn Joseph. - Danish family visit and go hiking with us. - My dad's new combine and its inauguration (get it?? that's punny). - Road trip to Montana with J&M. - Our second international trip of the year, Denmark. The architecture, interior design, household design. And most of all, the family relationships we gained there. (Oh yes, and my research too.) - The federal election in Canada and the fall-out afterwards. - Taking up knitting seriously. Involving mittens, scarves. And sock. - A whole jumble of books read; songs listened to and listened to again; poems considered; movies watched. - K&K's engagement. - Friendships built; relationships grown; loving and being loved.
Perry at Coffee and S'Cream instructed us that no matter how good 2008 was, 2009 should be better. So we shall endeavour to fulfill this advice. Who knows what the year will bring? A post on hopes and dreams and goals to come in the new year. Happy New Year's Eve everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Once

I chanced upon this movie a while ago, and knew immediately that it was the kind of movie that I would like, and also definitely a movie J&M would also enjoy. Not only was I right, but they had already seen the movie AND bought the soundtrack. Because the music is stunning. This song is called Falling Slowly, and it won an Oscar.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Yum.

Bird's Custard Pudding + Berries [cranberry sauce here] = love

Sunday, December 28, 2008

And now, for something completely different [in Christmas music]

I've gotten pretty sick of your average Christmas music over the past while--you know, the kind you hear in the stores and what not. But luckily (especially for Christmas-music-loving Brent) we also have a number of unusual Christmas albums. Enya's And Winter Came is definitely a new favourite, and this is Brent's favourite song from the album.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Gentle Art of Domesticity

Mom and Dad B gave me this book, written by Jane Brocket for Christmas and I am enamoured. With its beautiful vibrant colours, with the ideals that it advocates, and the neat projects that it describes. So many cool ideas...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Heart Baskets

Every Christmas my mum has brought out the heart baskets she'd had for many years, so that we could put them on the tree and put candy in them. When we were in Denmark, we were given some of the special paper you need in order to make "proper" Danish heart baskets, and Brent drew us a design on Auto-cad so that we could print the design right on the paper and cut them out. Here is where we got some of our design ideas. They require some patience to make, as we discovered when we attempted to fashion some of the fancier designs, and as my brothers discovered when they helped to weave the little fragile paper strips. But the end product is beautiful, and the baskets are a traditional Danish Christmas ornament that I will continue to use through all my tree-decorating life.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Night

O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by; Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light; The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee tonight. For Christ is born of Mary, And gathered all above, While mortlas sleep, the angels keep Their watch of wondering love. O morning stars, together Proclaim the holy birth! And praises sing to God the King, And peace to men on earth. How silently, how silently, The wondrous gift is giv'n! So God imparts to human hearts The blessings of His heav'n. No ear may hear His coming, But in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive Him, still The dear Christ enters in. O holy Child of Bethlehem! Descend to us, we pray; Cast out our sin and enter in, Be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels The great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Immanuel.

Tips for this Christmas

Just in case any [male] readers need some shopping advice:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Trip Trap

Thanks to our Danish relatives, we could proudly decorate a little bit more "Christmasy" than last year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Children's Christmas Concert

Last night was our church's children's Christmas program. As usual, it was a hit, with both star moments and cute moments, a solid message alongside lots of laughter.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Pastor K called this the Sunday of Invitation. Are we prepared to invite Jesus into our lives this Christmas--and this is a question for Christians just as much as for non-Christians. Are we looking for opportunity to invite Him in and live our lives as He would want us to? If we were the innkeeper who let Mary and Joseph stay in our stable, would we notice that in doing so we had aided the coming of the Messiah, or would we simply have seen the new Holy Family simply as more tired and dirty travelers taking part in the census? May we be open to the voice of God in our lives in these last few busy days before Christmas, and also beyond that, in all of our daily lives.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Today was: really really cold. and sunny. the Christmas program dress rehearsal, to which we went. cookies and Carolling attempt #2, which was cancelled again due to bad weather. our designated present-wrapping day, which we get gold stars for accomplishing. a very good day for a nap on the couch. day #3 of headache; must get to the bottom of what is causing them. one of few recent opportunities to get together with E&B, and we'll take it. very very cold. and dark.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Our prairies

High Prairie Farming William Notter There's never enough of the right kind of rain, and always too much of what we get. e've got no need for casinos-- keeping the farm is enough to gamble on. If the seed doesn't blow out of the ground in December, the wheat gets laid down flat in the fields by hail come summer. Spring blizzards get the calves, and one year my corn was nothing but rows of stalks from softball-size hail a month before harvest. That storm ruined my shingles and beat the siding right off the neighbour's house. A little hail and wind can't run me off, though, and I'll keep dropping the well until the aquifer dries up like they've said it would for years. We may not know what it's going to leave us with, but we can see our weather coming. When those fronts blow across the fields, trailing dust and rain, we've got time to get the cars in the shed, and ourselves into the basement if the clouds are green. Next morning I go out to see where the dice fell. Everything's glazed and bright with the dust knocked off and the sun barely up. The gravel on the roads is clean-washed pink, and water still hangs on the fence wires and the pasture grass. Sometimes I need to call the county about a washed-out road, or the insurance man about a field stripped clean. When I'm lucky I can shut the irrigation pumps down for a day or two and give the well a rest. I l ike to drive right into it sometimes when a storm comes up, lightning arcing all directions over the hills, and the slate-blue edge of the front clean as a section line. There's an instant in that border where it's not quite clear but not the storm when everything seems to stop, like my wheels have left the road. The light turns spooky, dust just hangs, the grass glows like it's ready to spark and catch on fire. Then the motor strains, fat raindrops whack the tin and glass like the racket from a flock of blackbirds, hundreds of them scattering off a stubblefield.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Song

This morning is going to be a big rush running around the city accomplishing tasks...at -20. Should I or should I not wear my long johns? This is one of my all-time favourite Christmas albums. Sarah McLachlan looks a little chilly in that skimpy outfit, but I think she must wear heavy wool sweaters when she's actually singing the songs, because they are warm and cozy. So, without further ado, Wintersong by Sarah McLachlan.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Please Sir, May I Have Some More?

What, you want more?! ... She wants more snow!!! That girl will surely be hanged. [Adaptation from Oliver Twist.] This morning we shoveled for the fourth time in a week. I think Calgary has gotten more snow in the past week and a half than we had in ALL of last winter. But that's ok by me. We went for a walk the other night and made snow angels in a park down the road. I waved at them when we went for another walk last night. But they're probably buried now...we'll have to make new ones. Last night I wrote some Christmas cards, including one to our postman. I wrote in the card that we appreciated the faithful service--even when our sidewalks were buried in snow. So this morning when I put it in the box, Brent shoveled the walk out so he has no reason to grumble about us. We waved at our southward neighbour who is always quick to get out and shovel--usually before us. She shoveled her walk and two to the right, and we shoveled our walk and two to the left. So that almost takes care of the whole block! For I read in my devotions this morning "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (Hebrews 13:16). Too easy...shoveling snow is actually quite fun. And I get to wear my awesome Tough Duck insulated coveralls. I'm invincible in all cold and snowy weather in those! So happy snowy wintery day number I'm-not-sure-I've-lost-count! (I do know, because Brent's crossing days out on the calendar, that there are EIGHT days til Christmas.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Third Sunday of Advent

Sunday past was the third Sunday in Advent. At church we talked about it being the Sunday of Love, and K spoke about God's love as our Father, using an illustration of Mary's father. How difficult it must have been for him to watch his daughter go through all she did at 13, an "illegitimate" pregnancy, giving birth in a stable far from home, having to flee to Egypt to protect her son. The Anglican Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent: O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee: Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at they second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday morning poem

Can you believe how fast Christmas is coming? I can't. But I'm excited. Things to do this week, the last full work week before Christmas: - Get some research done so that I can start writing Thesis Chapter One after Christmas holidays. - Write the postman a Christmas card and attach the his chocolates and put them in the mailbox for him to get. - Plan something Christmas-desserty to have with A&C when they come later this week. - Pick up a marzipan pig for the prize for Christmas dessert. - Finish our folded-paper ornaments, inspired by special Danish design. - Send Christmas cards and the last of the parcels. - Finish my knitting projects that are Christmas presents. And I'm sure there's many more pre-Christmas things along with the daily menial tasks that have to be done before now and next Tuesday! And today's poem (definitely fits under the category of "nonstop nonsense." ;) Any prince to any princess Adrian Henri August is coming and the goose, I'm afraid, is getting fat. There have been no golden eggs for some months now. Straw has fallen well below market price despite my frantic spinning and the sedge is, as you rightly point out, withered. I can't imagine how the pea got under your mattress. I apologize humbly. The chambermaid has, of course, been sacked. As has the frog footman. I understand that, during my recent fact-finding tour of the Golden River, despite your nightly unavailing efforts, he remained obstinately froggish. I hope that the Three Wishes granted by the General Assembly will go some way towards redressing this unfortunate recent sequence of events. The fall in output from the shoe-factory, for example: no one could have foreseen the work-to-rule by the National Union of Elves. Not to mention the fact that the court has been fast asleep for the last six and a half years. The matter of the poisoned apple has been taken up by the Board of Trade: I think I can assure you the incident will not be repeated. I can quite understand, in the circumstances, your reluctance to let down your golden tresses. However I feel I must point out that the weather isn't getting any better and I already have a nasty chill from waiting at the base of the White Tower. You must see the absurdity of the situation Some of the courtiers are beginning to talk, not to mention the humble villagers. It's been three weeks now, and not even a word. Princess, a cold, black wind howls through our empty palace. Dead leaves littler the bedchamber; the mirror on the wall hasn't said a thing since you left. I can only ask, bearing all this in mind, that you think again, let down your hair, reconsider.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Some things of today

Yup, we sure had fun. And no frosty cold and snowy weather would stop us. Banff: Hanging out on the way there; the hotsprings and the frozen hair effect; drinking beer at the Irish Pub [and sleeping on the way home (well, not all of us)]. At home: Making baked brie and drinking wine; teasing sleepy M; watching Indi movies. Church: On the worship team; hanging out with our favourite 5, 3 and 1-year old briefly; seeing some church friends and introducing them to J&M. Lunch: eating vegetarian chili, sitting around BSing; talking about music. Settlers of Catan: playing a three hour game; drinking two pots of chai tea; eating countless chocolates, oranges and ginger cookies. And getting so caught up in the silliness of the game that we (I) didn't even notice that I won. I'm so glad that siblings can be friends as well as family. Happy early birthday, M!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hard Times Come Again No More

Today's blog is a song we heard on the radio last week. Yo yo Ma and James Taylor work very well together, as our latest Christmas Music purchase can attest to (Yo-Yo Ma's Songs of Peace and Joy). Hope everyone is having a good weekend in the snow and cold. I can tell you that the Banff Hot Springs are delightful in the cold. And that a certain brother-in-law of mine may or may not be one step closer to being married. ;) Happy weekend!

Friday, December 12, 2008

More, more and more snow...

We just got in from shovelling the driveway and sidewalk for the SECOND time today. It's just snowing and snowing and snowing. And it's beautiful. As the result of the snow, Cookies and Carolling at the church was cancelled, and J&M decided not to brave the QEII Highway and drive to Calgary, at least not tonight (can't blame them). But, Rachel and Trev DID come and I can't help but grin just thinking about them. I'm SO glad they're in Canada again and we can visit with them. They're just plain old great people and I love them. Plus, I think they wished this weather upon us, because they wanted to experience true Canadianness again, and that's just fine by me. December Moon May Sartin Before going to bed After a fall of snow I look out on the field Shining there in the moonlight So calm, untouched and white Snow silence fills my head After I leave the window. Hours later near dawn When I look down again The whole landscape has changed The perfect surface gone Criss-crossed and written on Where the wild creatures ranged While the moon rose and shone. Why did my dog not bark? Why did I hear no sound There on the snow-locked ground In the tumultuous dark? How much can come, how much can go When the December moon is bright, What worlds of play we'll never know Sleeping away the cold white night After a fall of snow.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Grumpy Thursday

It's hard to be excited about the day when you wake up with a head-ache that won't go away even after drinking lots of water, doing an hour of yoga and drinking a cup of coffee. But I have to try to feel better. Because - Brent made the coffee this morning and he put cinnamon, ginger and cloves in it. - Radio 2 played Louis Armstrong singing Christmas songs. mmm. - We bought this Yo-yo Ma cd last night and it is lovely. Cello music ranks right up there with banjo music in my books. - I went to an information session on a 2-year BEd last night and the program looks super promising and exciting. - J&M are coming this weekend and we're going to have a BLAST with them. - R&T of Korea fame are in the SAME COUNTRY as us, and we might get to see them tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why sure, back up the truck...

More snow

You've been missing my poem posts, haven't you? Well I've been saving this one for the perfect moment. The snow has been so incredibly beautiful the last two days. Calgary doesn't get many soft fluffy dumps of snow that don't immediately melt or are blown into hard crusty drifts. Yet this lovely wondrous goodness has been ours for a moment, although it is three degrees above zero right now, and it's supposed to get up to six today, and all our lovely snow will be gone. So, we must treasure it while we can. Boy At the Window Richard Wilbur Seeing the snowman standing all alone In the dusk and cold is more than he can bear. The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare A night of gnashings and enormous moan. His tearful sight can hardly reach to where The pale-faced figure with bitumen eyes Returns him such a god-forsaken stare As outcast Adam gave to Paradise. The man of snow is, nonetheless, content, Having no wish to go inside and die. Still, he is moved to see the youngster cry. Though frozen water is his element, He melts enough to drop from one soft eye A trickle of the purest rain, a tear For the child at the bright pane surrounded by Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

These are a few of my favourite things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens Brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favourite things.
Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eye lashes Silver white winters that melt into springs, These are a few of my favourite things.
Cream coloured ponies and crisp apple strudels Doorbells and sleighbells and schnitzel with noodles Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings, These are a few of my favourite things.
Lots of reasons to be happy today: - I conquered the skill of knitting mittens as the warm woolen mittens above can attest to. - We mailed our overseas Christmas packages yesterday. While they were not quite brown paper packages tied up with string, they conjure up that image. - On Sunday, with the falling of snowflakes on my nose and eyelashes, silver-white winter arrived in full force. And it has created beauty out of brown-ness all around us. Check out the pictures on Brent's photoblog for further proof. Or his facebook pictures, for that matter. God knew what he was doing when he invented the decorative loveliness of snow! (More on this later.)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Second Sunday in Advent

Isaiah 11:1-10

11:1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

11:2 The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

11:3 His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear;

11:4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

11:5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

11:6 The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

11:7 The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

11:8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den.

11:9 They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

11:10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

"Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Saturday night's all right, all right

Today has been a whirlwind of a day, to Lacombe and back, to Lee Valley and Ikea and now at home again with brother Theo staying over night. But, I finished my mittens on the drive back and forth from Central Alberta. They're not perfect, but pretty good for a first try. Pictures to come. Lots on the go again tomorrow, including our third annual trip to sing-along with the Calgary Philharmonic doing Handel's Messiah. It's going to be GREAT. G'night!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Not-so-holy Night

As Ken would say, this is the gift that just keeps giving. Enjoy, especially those of you with musical backgrounds and/or a good sense of pitch...

The best of today

Today can't help but be another great day. We've got a date tonight with friends to play Settlers of Catan; I'm on my second cup of coffee and eggnog...the first was just too good, so Brent made a second pot of coffee; I am in love with poetry and have so much to share; Last night, I started knitting a pair of baby mittens last night, in a colour I would like to call cranberry, and am using my new bamboo #7 needles, which work as smooth as...bananas and peanut butter; I am tracking down a book for my mum and the Ambrose University Library is scanning and emailing me the part of the chapter I need. Hurray for un-earned kindness! I feel lately like Brent and I are pretty much the perfect match for each other; and, finally, Radio 2 is playing all the best Canadian songs this morning (see here for a Radio 2 blogpost about it), and it warms the cockles of my heart (especially Stan Rogers' 45 Years--posted here). Have a great day, readers!

45 Years

Today's song, played on CBC Radio 2 Morning. Probably one of the best love songs out there.
45 Years by Stan Rogers Where the earth shows its bones of wind-broken stone And the sea and the sky are one I'm caught out of time, my blood sings with wine And I'm running naked in the sun There's God in the trees, I'm weak in the knees And the sky is a painful blue I'd like to look around, but Honey, all I see is you. The summer city lights will soften the night Til you'd think that the air is clear And I'm sitting with friends, where forty-five cents Will buy another glass of beer He's got something to say, but I'm so far away That I don't know who I'm talking to Cause you just walked in the door, and Honey, all I see is you (CHORUS) And I just want to hold you closer than I've ever held anyone before You say you've been twice a wife and you're through with life Ah, but Honey, what the hell's it for? After twenty-three years you'd think I could find A way to let you know somehow That I want to see your smiling face forty-five years from now. So alone in the lights on stage every night I've been reaching out to find a friend Who knows all the words, sings so she's heard And knows how all the stories end Maybe after the show she'll ask me to go Home with her for a drink or two Now her smile lights her eyes, but Honey, all I see is you

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thinking

It's can't help but be a good day when I have a cup of steaming hot coffee with a healthy glug of eggnog in it. And when K&K are coming over for supper. This morning I started reading the second book of poetry compiled by Garrison Keillor. This book much more has a theme...after all, they are "Good Poems for Hard Times." Keillor writes "This is a book of poems that if I knew you better and if you were in a hard passage I might send you one or two of along with a note, the way people used to do, believing in the bracing effect of bold writing....These poems describe a common life. It is good to know about this. I hope you take courage from it." So far I've read the first section, entitled "Kindness to Snails," and almost every poem made me tear up. Maybe I'm just in a teary mood at present. Actually, that's quite possible. On the other hand, perhaps one's soul should always be open to experiencing strong emotions of one sort or the other; to being empathetic to sorrow and joy, to be compassionate, to throw caution to the wind and make oneself vulnerable to love and hurt.
For a Five-Year-Old by Fleur Adcock A snail is climbing up the window-sill into your room, after a night of rain. You call me in to see, and I explain that it would be unkind to leave it there: it might crawl to the floor; we must take care that no one squashes it. You understand, and carry it outside, with careful hand, to eat a daffodil. I see, then, that a kind of faith prevails: your gentleness is moulded still by words from me, who have trapped mice and shot wild birds from me, who drowned your kittens, who betrayed your closest relatives, and who purveyed the harshest kind of truth to many another. But that is how things are: I am your mother, and we are kind to snails.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Advent Calendars

Growing up, we always had chocolate advent calendars, which I loved. Not so much for the chocolate behind the door (I usually fed mine to my dad) but for the excitement of opening the doors and counting off the days. Today, while reading Little Red Caboose, whose blog I read regularly and become more and more inspired by the Waldorf style of teaching, I came across a link to this blog, who Brent and I were both inspired by and who is now going on my regular-read list. I am particularly in love with this advent calendar, which apparently used to sell as a kit, but doesn't any longer. Once I buy my sewing machine and get better, I am definitely making these. I AM going to get better at indulging my crafty side. Knitting, crocheting, sewing...I want to do it all!

No cheese for us mouses

Today's post is for my sister-in-law, who reminded me of the Muppets, and for Tom Allen, the CBC Radio 2 morning announcer, who was talking about Dickens' Christmas Carol this morning. Muppets' Christmas Carol is simply a classic.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Changes

I've been thinking about doing this for a quite a while...and apparently my hair (blonde, never dyed or permed) is a hot commodity in the Wigs-for-Kids world. So, on Thursday, I did it. I went to The Fringe hair salon on 14th SW, and the hairdresser who cut my hair was awesome. I was pretty nervous about the whole thing, but she was really relaxed and kind and gave me exactly the cut I wanted! She cut 14 inches off for the Cancer Society and a little bit more as she trimmed it up. I'm still getting used to this short(er) hair business, now, five days later. I am missing my easy twisted-up bun; I'm using too much shampoo and conditioner; and I keep brushing hair that's no longer there. But I'm learning, and am appreciating the quicker drying time! So there you have it. Major-change-for-Kirstin, in words and pictures. Now, to learn to use a blow-dryer and a curling iron...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Can't help but be happy when the first day of the week and the first day of the month are the same, and when the month in question is December! So much to say...so many blogs in my head just waiting to be written. We had a wonderful weekend, book-ended with the driving-accompanied-by-coffee with brother Kevin. In a quick summary, some highlights of the weekend included - A research trip to Dickson and learning how the museum and archives operate; - Babysitting little cousins and watching Cinderella, discussing the pros and cons of being a princess; - Helping out with the craft sale, selling the pretty ornaments you see in the picture above, and seeing so many people from my growing-up years in our hometown; - Coffee with my parents half-way through the craftsale, and hanging out with my youngest brother (who, it should be clarified, may be the youngest, but is NOT "the baby"); - More cousin time on Sunday, playing Clue and laughing harder and being sillier than I have in a long time. In other words, it was a long-needed and much-anticipated family reunion, in addition to being a busy craft sale. And it was wonderful. Finally, on the topic of Advent: At church on Sunday, mentioned in passing but not really dwelt upon to the degree that I would have liked, was the fact that we were celebrating the first Sunday in Advent. We lit the candle of Hope, because the birth of Jesus represents the greatest Hope that we could ever hope for! Because of Jesus, we have steadfast knowledge that no matter what happens in life, we have the Eternal Hope of our Saviour. Halleluia! From the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, on the Occasion of the First Sunday in Advent: "Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and forever. Amen."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Decoding Coffee-talk

How can you argue with a drink order that includes a heart? Practically speaking, in translation the cup reads "half-sweet; Christmas special #4[gingerbread latte]; no whipping cream on top; for a customer in the coffee-shop part of the store" (I think). We can't help but grin when we think of our favourite coffee-shop people, the owners and senior staff of Coffee and S'cream. We are so thankful for the small-town feel they bring to our lives, and for their friendship and interest in our lives. And because they make such tasty lattes. That was the best gingerbread latte I've ever had. (And Brent really enjoyed his "naughty Mrs. Claus" rum & eggnog latte too!).

Sugar and Spice Cont'd

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Story-Poem

Sir Patrick Spens Anonymous The king sits in Dumferlin town Drinking the blood-red wine: Oh where will I get a good sailor To sail this ship of mine? Up and spake an eldern knight Sat at the king's right knee: Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor That sails up the sea. The king has written a broad letter And signed it with his hand, And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens Was walking on the strand. To Noroway, to Noroway, To Noroway o'er the foam, The king's daughter to Noroway, 'Tis thou maun bring her home. The first line that Sir Patrick read A loud laugh laughed he; The next line that Sir Patrick read A tear blinded his eye. Oh who is this has done this deed, This ill deed done to me, To send me out this time of year To sail upon the sea? Make haste, make haste, my merry men all; Our good ship sails the morn. Oh say not so, my master dear, For I fear a deadly storm. Late, late yestreen I saw the new moon With the old moon in her arm, And I fear, I fear, my master dear, That we will come to harm. They hadna sailed a league, a league, A league but barely three, When the air grew dark and the wind blew lou,d And growly grew the sea. Oh our Scotch nobles were right loth To wet their cork-heeled shoon, But long ere all the play were played Their hats they swam aboon. Oh long, long may their ladies sit With their fans into their hand Ere ever they see Sir Patrick Spens Come sailing to the land. Oh long, long may the ladies stand With their gold combs in their hair Waiting for their own dear lords, For they'll see them no more. Half o'er, half o'er to Aberdour It's fifty fathoms deep, And there lies good Sir Patrick Spens With the Scotch lords at his feet.

Friday, November 21, 2008

For the sake of Goodness

As I posted before recently, even when money is slightly more scarce (not scarce at all compared to other countries!), and the whole financial world is in turmoil, we need to have an eternal perspective. But as I was also reminded of by one of my all-time favourite bloggers, there is much goodness in this world to appreciate too. 1) Coffee. My brothers and I were all raised by my mum to appreciate a good cup of coffee. Only since our trip to DK did I realize just how much of that is from her Danish heritage. They drink STRONG coffee in Denmark, and they're so tough that it's common to drink coffee right before bed! And none of that decaf stuff, either. I like my coffee freshly ground, STRONG and topped up with an ample amount of hot milk. I'm such a coffee snoot that my favourite coffee is...my own. Well, my mum's and Cat's are equally acceptable, but not even Starbucks can beat mine. Pretentious about my coffee, yup that's me. More specifically, we found a new kind of coffee on our last trip to Co-op: We've tried Kicking Horse, and it's pretty good but at times a bit bitter, and we've also tried Salt Spring Island coffee (sister-in-law B's favourite), which is very tasty but expensive, and now here is a Calgary coffee, and it's great and cheaper than either of the other two! So #1 is coffee. Not because it's the most important, but because it comes earliest in the day! #2 is for CBC Radio 2, of course. And the goodness of music generally. Because we've gotten sick and tired of CKUA as of late--especially the morning announcer--and have discovered the quirky morning fun of Tom Allen on Radio 2. We're a little over his love for Sarah Harmer and Great Big Sea, but we appreciate his musical trivia and segways and all the fun singer-songwriter tunes. #3 Is for lovely zip-up sweatshirts with thumbholes, in the colour blue, which is my favourite. This one is on my Christmas list from MEC. Hurray for the goodness of being zipped-up warm when it's chilly and windy and snowy out! #4 Sarah Susanka's The Not-So-Big House. Jan showed Brent this book while we were in Denmark. It's exactly what Brent's interested in designing and has lots of neat ideas for the kind of house we'd like to own someday. The kind of house where everything has its place; space is not wasted; and quality takes precedence over quantity. Good is practicality, interesting housing design and inspiration for Brent! #5 Again a reference to the goodness of music. This is on my dream wish list for the distant future...an MP3 player that will store songs but also play the radio (so I can listen to CBC Radio 2!). Not so important when I'm home thesis-writing, but good for research trips and commuting next year, because I'm addicted to music and can't live without a goodly daily dose of it. ;) #6 Creativity and colour and lovely material. This Matryoshka doll is handmade by Little Red Caboose. It looks so friendly and soft and inspires me to start sewing. And it is just one example of the numerous beautiful hand-made things Ella makes. #7 Again the goodness of colour and creativity. This is a painting I love...done by Lovelife! I love the soft blue tones in this specific painting and in much of Kal Barteski's work, and how she often combines words and art to make poem-pictures. Beautiful. #8 I love knitting for its rhythm and consistency and, well, because it is another creative outlet. In my old age (ha) I'm realizing how much I appreciate structure and regularity (as long as it is ME who is enforcing it!). #9 is for bbouwsema.wordpress.com. Because my dear male 1/2 is incredibly talented at photography and, out of the goodness of his heart, took the time to help me start figuring out Photoshop! #10 is for Garrison Keillor, for words and for poetry, which you may have noticed, is a subject near and dear to my heart lately. The beauty of poetry lies in its ability to express an idea or emotion or scene concisely but descriptive enough for readers to understand. (Concise unlike my long-winded blathering!) And the little mischievious Christmas nissers? Not only are they friendly little fellows, but they remind me of the coming Christmas season, which is a time of "Good tidings and great joy, which shall be for all people!"

Change of Plans

This morning did not go as planned. Instead of getting up, doing an hour of yoga, then the dishes and then straight to work by eight as Kirstin-the-scheduler had outlined, the morning was co-opted for PD time (perhaps to honour Shannon's PD daying?). Yoga was done, can check that off the list, but the dishes, laundry, cookie-making and school work (work? what's that?) are temporarily delayed. Brent made the coffee this morning while I was in the shower, so I could pour coffee and milk and sit down and start learning this Photoshop. For a while now, I've wanted to learn Photoshop, but I'm not the most patient of persons and learn best by doing. So with the most patient of husbands aiding me along the way, I have spent the morning attempting a photoshop project. I was inspired by Lovelife to describe good things in my life. And so photoshop attempt number one is a portrayal of this. (Thank you, dear husband, for helping me out!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I like food

Want to make yourself hungry in short order?

In the face of it all...

In the face of all the economic worries, the apostle Paul says "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." And "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." 1 Timothy 6:6-8 and 17-19.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hope

A friend of mine often reminds me to look for the "sparkles of joy" in my day. And I think that can be extended beyond individual days...without hope and joy, we would despair--and it would not be difficult to despair in the world today. But "sometimes things don't go, after all, from bad to worse." May it happen to you. Sometimes by Sheenagh Pugh Sometimes things don't go, after all, from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel* faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail, sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well. A people sometimes will step back from war; elect an honest man; decode they care enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor. Some men become what they were born for. Sometimes our best efforts do not go amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to. The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to you. *Muscadel: wine from muscat grapes

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mandarin Orange Season

Today's poem is in honour of the goodness of sweet mandarin oranges available everywhere these days. And in honour of all things good, like walking in the fog (which we did yesterday) and beautiful new babies, and the simple joy life can contain. The Orange Wendy Cope At lunchtime I bought a huge orange-- The size of it made us all laugh I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave-- They got quarters and I had half. And that orange, it made me so happy, As ordinary things often do Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park. This is peace and contentment. It's new. The rest of the day was quite easy. I did all the jobs on my list And enjoyed them and had some time over. I love you. I'm glad I exist.

Carpooling

Could we do this in Calgary, if we got some heavy-duty snow tires?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Koop: Come to Me

Today's song: light, fluffy and all about the jitterbug (is that what that dance is called?) We were introduced to Koop by b-i-l Eric. Thanks E, they're virtually on our daily playlist. :)

Alden Nowlan

A friend of mine sent me a message recently and told me about a Canadian poet who I'd never heard of and probably should have. I spent a couple of hours reading his work yesterday...he describes a Canadian experience so accurately. I had a hard time choosing which poem to share, as there are quite a number from the little reading I did that are sharable. But you'll just have to take this one, which I concur with my friend is quite lovely, and if you like it, borrow an Alden Nowlan collection from the library. Something I like about poetry is the writers' ability to describe a situation or personality so succinctly. Like this one: Canadian Love Song by Alden Nowlan Your body's a small word with many meanings. Love. If. Yes. But. Death. Surely I will love you a little while, perhaps as long as I have breath. December is thirteen months long, July's one afternoon; therefore, lovers must outwit wool, learn how to puncture fur. To my love's bed, to keep her warm, I'll carry wrapped and heated stones. That which is comfort to the flesh is sometimes torture to the bones.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This is Just to Say

Today's poem(s) is one that made me giggle the first time I read it in my poetry anthology when I was in the second year of my English degree. Who puts their plums in the icebox anyway?
This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold
But today in my perusal of this new edited collection of poetry, I came across a gem: a response to William C. Williams. Poor Williams...he never knew what the chilled-plum lady would do in retribution. Maybe he'll think first next time.
This is Just to Say by Erica-Lynn Gambino (for William Carlos Williams) I have just asked you to get out of my apartment even though you never thought I would Forgive me you were driving me insane

Friday, November 14, 2008

Feeling Sluggish

This morning I broke with my early morning routine because I felt gross and sleepy at six...and six thirty...and seven..and... But when I did eventually get up, I was grumpy and mad at myself because I had plans for this early morning. Like doing the dishes. And putting away laundry. And devotions. It just goes to show that one should never listen to one's six-in-the-morning inner voice. That inner voice will always want to sleep in; it's never reasonable and cheery like inner voice of nine in the morning.

Lending Out Books

Today's poem just struck me as funny. Lending Out Books by Hal Sirowitz You're always giving, my therapist said. You have to learn how to take. Whenever you meet a woman, the first thing you do is lend her your books. You think she'll have to see you again in order to return them. But what happens is, she doesn't have the time to read them, & she's afraid if she sees you again you'll expect her to talk about them, & will want to lend her even more. So she cancels the date. You end up losing a lot of books. You should borrow hers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How shall we pray?

As I was doing my devotions this morning, I was struggling with the fact that I don't really feel like I can pray. I don't know how to approach God and I often feel like I merely come to Him with my list of requests (lists of all sorts are one of my little-known talents) and hand them over and then leave. It's not real quality listening for God's direction time, or confessing my sins. I feel like I'm always on the go too much to just sit and listen. But I came across this poem this morning, and it expresses a lot of what I can't. Address to the Lord by John Berryman Master of beauty, craftsman of the snowflake, inimitable contriver, endower of Earth so gorgeous & different from the boring Moon, thank you for such as it is my gift. I have made up a morning prayer to you containing with precision everything that most matters. 'According to Thy will' the thing begins. It took me off & on two days. It does not aim at eloquence. You have come to my rescue again & again in my impassable, sometimes despairing years. You have allowed my brilliant friends to destroy themselves and I am still here, severely damaged, but functioning. Unknowable, as I am unknown to my guinea pigs: How can I 'love' you? I only as far as gratitude & awe confidently & absolutely go. I have no idea whether we live again. It doesn't seem likely from either the scientific or the philosophical point of view but certainly all things are possible to you, and I believe as fixedly in the Resurrection-appearances to Peter and to Paul as I believe I sit in this blue chair. Only that may have been a special case to establish their initiatory faith. Whatever your end may be, accept my amazement. May I stand until death forever at attention for any your least instruction or enlightenment. I even feel sure you will assist me again, Master of insight & beauty.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Under construction

In case you've been wondering what's going on with all the changes, we're playing around with the blog layout...things'll be fixed soon, I promise!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Poems and things

Yesterday I at last borrowed from my parents two books of collected poems, edited by Garrison Keillor. I have been wanting to read these poems since Mum and Dad first read from them to me last year. But one does not have time to read poetry whilst enrolled in the first year of grad school. But year one has come and gone (and I'm still alive!) and now I can delight in the deliciousness of these poems. And I can't wait. I fully intend on sharing my favourites with you, dear readers, and here is your first. Brent and I have been getting up early the past couple of weeks in an effort to use our days more efficiently and enjoy the middle-of-the-day sunshine when we can. (And interestingly enough, my friend Shannon made a similar decision right at the same time as us!) So this poem seemed apropos. At least by Raymond Carver I want to get up early one more morning, before sunrise. Before the birds, even. I want to throw cold water on my face and be at my work table when the sky lightens and smoke begins to rise from the chimneys of the other houses. I want to see the waves break on this rocky beach, not just hear them break as I did all night in my sleep. I want to see again the ships that pass through the Strait from every seafaring country in the world-- old, dirty freighters just barely moving along, and the swift new cargo vessels painted every color under the sun that cut the water as they pass. I want to keep an eye out for them. And for the little boat that plies the water between the ships and the pilot station near the lighthouse. I want to see them take a man off the ship and put another up on board. I want to spend the day watching this happen and reach my own conclusions. I hate to seem greedy--I have so much to be thankful for already. But I want to get up early one more morning, at least. And go to my place with some coffee and wait. Just wait, to see what's going to happen.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Snow

We got our first snow yesterday! Well--it's quickly melting in today's sunshine, so we won't be uploading any pictures, but nevertheless, B and I have been anticipating this event. We had waffles for supper last night to celebrate the first snow of the winter. So, just thought I'd share some snowy cheer. :)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This Fragile World

Brent was playing Martyn Joseph today and I figured I should share some. We saw him live at Calgary Folk Fest this summer, and he's coming to the city again in January. I'm still tracking down the lyrics of this song and will add them to the post when I find them. In the meantime, enjoy "This Fragile World" by Martyn Joseph

Monday, November 03, 2008

[rant]

I'm really torn about all the American election hype that's going on right now. It is monumental, possibly course-of-history-changing, but is it really THAT important? As Canadians, shouldn't we care more about our own government than the American one? Yet, as this CBC article explains, a record low number of Canadians voted in the federal election on October 14th (for the record, we both voted--and we were out of the country on election day, for goodness' sake). If so few people care about who is running our country, why don't we go back to an absolutist monarchy or dictator who can make decisions on our behalf. Apparently, that's what Canadians want. And yet of course we all care about who the Americans vote for. The States are our big and powerful next-door neighbour and important trading partner and we ought to be interested in how our relationship is going to change for the next eight years. But to prioritize it OVER our own government?? That seems counter-intuitive, ignorant, and thoroughly detrimental to the Canadian political climate. It almost seems like we watch the American election the same way we pay attention to celebrity gossip or slow down to look at a car crash. Because the media has made it THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE IN THE NEWS we cannot but senselessly stare at it. So, in a moment of rantful frustration, I say if you, reader, are paying more attention to the American election than you did to our own, shame on you. [/rant]

Today's song

I don't care how messed up their personal lives are at present, they make lovely music. For You lyrics I have set aside everything I love I have saved everything else for you I cannot decide what this doubt's made of Though I thought over it through and through In a book in a box high upon a shelf In a locked and guarded vault Are the things I keep only for myself It's your fate but it's not your fault [CHORUS:] And for every useless reason I know There's a reason not to care If I hide myself wherever I go Am I ever really there? There is nowhere else I would rather be, but I can't just be right here An enigma wrapped in a mystery, or a fool consumed by fear [CHORUS] I will give you all I could ever give Though it's less than you will need Could you just forget, if you can't forgive All the things I cannot concede [CHORUS]

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Canadian Police Chase

Maybe it is just cause we're tired, but we repeatedly laughed when we saw this ad on tv tonight. Enjoy.

Creating abundance

"In the human world, abundance does not happen automatically. It is created when we have the sense to choose community, to come together to celebrate and share our common store. When the scare resource is money or love or power or words, the true law of life is that we generate more of whatever seems scarce by trusting its supply and passing it around. Authentic abundance does not lie in secured stockpiles of food or cash or influence or affection but in belonging to a community where we can give those goods to others who need them--and receive them from others when we are in need." I just finished reading a phenomenal book called Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, by Parker J. Palmer. It was truly one of the most inspirational books I've ever read, second only to Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle. The quotation above is taken from the last chapter of Palmer's book, and I find it meaningful on so many levels. First, because it is fall, and we are halfway between Canadian and American thanksgivings and B and I are inspired to make pumpkin pie from scratch this weekend (if we can overcome what seems to be a major pumpkin shortage in the city of Calgary!). Growing up, fall has always meant drawing attention to, thanking God for and reveling in the abundance that is harvest. Thanksgiving dinner was never a private affair in the S household. It simply had to be shared, particularly with one family that has been good friends with my family all my growing up years. The sense of joy in abundance at Thanksgiving dinner was always partly a result of being able to share it in community with our friends and family (and also partly the result of my mum's ability to create a hyggelig, cozy occasion!). Second, this idea of abundance and community makes me think about church. Potluck meals that are key part of all the churches I have attended are a simple example of how abundance is felt and shared amongst people at church. But of course, it also goes much deeper. Within our spiritual family, we should feel the abundance of God's grace as we celebrate communion together and learn about each other's spiritual walks. This, of course, does not always happen. When we come to church with the idea in mind to rather hoard all of our energy to ourselves, rather than sharing it, everyone loses. The abundance that SHOULD be church then does not exist. In addition, principles that Jesus preaches include sharing with those who have less, rather than hoarding for one's self. If every one did that, we would not need the social safety nets that countries create, to greater and lesser degrees, to protect the weak and needy. Finally, abundance as the result of community reminds me of another book that I am reading at present: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, another of my favourite writers. Kingsolver writes about her and her family's experience of buying all of their food locally for one whole year, and the joys and difficulties of accomplishing this goal. One of the messages that Kingsolver relays is that when consumers buy their food locally--well, when they buy ANY products locally--they are building into a small community of producers. Who in turn support the community further, creating an effect where all locals benefit. Shopping locally, for food as the Kingsolver family does, or in whatever way, again is an illustration of abundance occuring within a community. If we all are willing to pay just a little bit more for a carrot that is grown in our home area, rather than being cheap and buying carrots from Mexico (for a very small example), think about how this could spread and develop local markets, rather than being spread over the 1000s of kilometers to Mexico, where the carrot producers there see very little of the actual money you spent at the grocery store. Anyway, those are just some thoughts I've been having as of late. Share the celebration of Thanksgiving with others; When a man asks for your coat, give him your shirt too; Shop locally!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You Haven't Seen Lego...

...Until You've Seen Legoland.
Harbour-scapes: Space: the Final Frontier
Famous landscapes and buildings:
Assorted shots of the Park: The Legoland Hotel: