Thursday, March 27, 2008

when every happy plot, ends with a marriage knot...

I have been rightly chastised by beth to write a new blog post, so I am.

I've been thinking lately about rich and poor. Not in a giant mansion versus homeless beggar, kind of way necessarily, but in a bit of a more personal way. I've decided to do landscaping again this summer, and though at first I had a bit of anxiety about joining up with a company I'm not sure I 100% want to be associated with, I am really looking forward to it. The other day, at work a guy sat down at the bar for a drink and started whining to me about his job (bartending somewhere else) and ended saying "well, its way better than working manual labour for that kind of money" and the very first thing I thought was "Not its not!", so I felt very validated in my choice of summer work. That being said, working landscaping has been the most financially friendly thing I've done. The hours and the wage work out to be pretty nice on my bank account, which is a good thing since I've been pretty lousy to my bank account lately!
The thing is, I have this feeling that I think I'd be really good at being rich. Not in a "I want lots of wealth" kind of way, but I think that if I came into a windfall of money, I would handle it well. Of course it would change the way I think about things, but it would be mostly in good ways. In generous ways. In respectful, thoughtful ways. It wasn't until this week though that I started thinking about why that is. And what I came up with, is that I am also really good at being poor. Though I am under no impression that I am in any way "poor", but I almost enjoy the way my years of being a student and my summers of volunteering and now my flitting from job to job in search of something I really love has taught me to live from paycheque to paycheque frugally without restricting my lifestyle too much. In other words, I have learned how to watch my money without being cheap about it. And though I understand the importance of saving up money for whatever the future may hold, I also know that this is the time in my life where I only have to worry about me in a lot of ways. If I have food and a place to live and an outdoors to appreciate and friends to share it with, I really don't have to worry about much more. I have not only learned how to deal with my kind of "poor" well, but I have fallen in love with it. Living this way has taught me things I'm not sure I would have been able to understand any other way.
..Rather than going to the movies or some other costly activity, I choose to walk around the city and in the river valley. And during these walks that I have found that I am ridiculously passionate about the nature that surrounds me and the people I share this city with. Which in turn leads to an involvement in issues of environmental consciousness and social justice.
..Rather than driving to the grocery store for bread/cake/granola, I often chose to make it myself from ingredients I have in my house. While I sit kneading bread and peeling apples and mixing rolled oats, I learn the importance of time and supporting of local agriculture.
..I watch the birds outside my window and listen to music and dance alone in the kitchen while I wait for the cake to rise in the oven and I learn what it is to understand myself. The crucial importance of listening to me and discovering more about who I am.

No, I would not trade my lifestyle for anyone else's in the world right now.

Soon regular schedules of landscaping and long hours of fantastic "manual labour" will fill my days with busyness and excitement, so I will savour these moments of lingering winter stillness while I can.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

what honest words she can't afford to say...

I am learning that things that move slowly are usually the most important and, as Mary Oliver puts it, "most things that are important, have you noticed, lack a certain neatness" - like the way winter moves into spring...but i want to say something more on the idea of slowness today.
I was always raised with this ideal of efficiency and the idea that it is important to get things done to the very best of your abilities, in the smallest amount of time necessary to do so. And though I still think that this is a pretty good thing in many situations, I have been really enjoying questioning that in small ways: Standing at the window watching the birds make tracks in the snow while the kettle boils rather than folding my laundry while I wait. Walking past my car to take city transit. Dancing to a Billie Holiday by myself in the kitchen while my supper cooks. Walking to the mailbox at the end of the street, picking up and examining interesting pebbles and rocks along the way.
I am in a strange place in life right now where I find myself floating between periods of excessive freedom with my time followed by short moments of rushing, busy work. And on the horizon, I can see a regular schedule and considerable busy-ness approaching with spring and landscaping nudging ever closer and so I feel as though I must make the most of the time I have left in this unusual lifestyle. And I've found that my soul finds its time best spent sipping tea in front of windows, bumping into strangers on the bus, swimming in jazz when dusk is just turning to night, sharing a pint of Guinness in cozy dark pubs in the early afternoon, baking cakes from scratch, letting the dough squeeze through my fingers and devour my hands and reading poetry aloud while laying in the middle of the kitchen floor.

I intend not to "step so quickly over this sacred place on God's body that is right beneath your own foot, as I dance with precious life today" (Hafiz).

Friday, March 14, 2008

there's no better journey than me on my way to you...

The Beautiful, Striped Sparrow

in the afternoons,
in the almost empty fields,
i hum the hymns
i used to sing

in church.
they could not tame me,
so they would not keep me,

and how that feels,
the weight of it,
i will not tell
any of you,

not ever.
still, as they promised,
God, once he is in your heart,
is everywhere -

so even here
among the weeds
and the brisk trees.
how long does it take

to hum a hymn? strolling
one or two acres
of the sweetness
of the world,

not counting
a lapse, now and again,
of sheer emptiness.
once a deer

stood quietly at my side.
and sometimes the wind
has touched my cheek
like a spirit.

am i lonely?
the beautiful, striped sparrow,
serenely, on the tallest weed in his kingdom,
also sings without words.

- Mary Oliver

Monday, March 10, 2008

knock me over, stone cold sober...

I have been keeping a point form list of things to blog about, and it has reached the point where I have to do something about it. Actually it probably reached that point a little while ago, but I haven't found the inspiration to put it into words so this morning I will be going in a type of point form mode of things this week that made me want to blog...

Lemonade: I've been in a fresh squeezed lemonade mode lately. So far I have gone through a dozen lemons. Bethany has these really great tall straight glasses that are the perfect lemonade glasses and so the whole experience is really quite fantastic. I've been playing around with the portions and have found that its my favourite if you add a little SoCo and peach schnapps. I think that will be my new "signature drink". SO good.

Also, I had a craving yesterday for cake with apples in it. So I went to the store and bought the cheapest apples in the place, took a base cake/load recipe, added flavours and sugars I thought would go well and ended up with a pretty good maple vanilla apple cake with a vanilla brown sugar topping. Its nice and light because it doesn't have a lot of flavour, but sort of just... hints of a flavour. I like it.

In Bethany's desire to spraypaint anything she can get her hands on, we now have a new life brought into our magnetic board in the kitchen. Yesterday we spent some time putting all of her fridge magnet poetry words on it. Our friend Dave is the best fridge poet we have ever met....seriously, this guy is GOOD! He comes home from Africa next week and I hope he makes a good poem on our board when he visits.

Karen gave me a David Gray cd (among other things) for my birthday and I have been listening to it pretty much non-stop. It has helped that Beth is completely addicted to it too. Its a "best of" album and in the liner notes, Gray talks about each song and sort of gives a little story about it or how it was written or how it was recorded. I love the song "Be Mine" but he apparently hates it. He hasn't played it live for over 5 years now and says its one of his least favourites. I always think its so interesting to see what pieces artists like compared to what the general public loves.

In other news, my birds have filled the top birdhouse so full of sticks and grass and leaves that they are sticking out of every crack. AND, yesterday when I went out to put crumbs in the feeder, they stayed in the tree flitting around, watching me, until I was finished, which means they're getting used to me. I'm excited about them and seeing them building in my yard makes me ridiculously happy.

there is more to talk about I'm sure, but I did justice to none of the above topics so I will quit here.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

girl, you make me want to feel...

It is already Thursday?! How has the week gone by this fast? I don't know. What I do know is that this week has been crammed full of passionate ideas that I cannot put out of my head. I don't know if I can make sense of all these ideas here but I will try to direct you to them in ways that will help you decide about them for yourself...

First of all, I watched one of the BBC's 2006 Planet Earth series yesterday. It as stunning. I can't believe how incredible the world we live in can be. You can read about them here ( and then immediately be won over by them and buy the set here ( I can't really say one thing about them that amazed me because it is all so awesome, but I saw the first dvd, and on it, there are these migration scenes of elephants/buffalo/impala, etc. in Africa's dry season. It was so stunning that I couldn't hardly speak or swallow or blink while I watched it. Check them out if you get the chance.

Last night I went to hear Cal DeWitt speak. I've heard great things about his books, though I haven't read them myself - something I plan to soon remedy. You can find them here ( if you want to beat me to it. He spoke on climate change and presented much of the same evidence and disturbing trends we've seen in Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" environmental documentary, but rather than using scare tactics and playing on fear for the future, he delivered his message with amazing hope and joy. I could write so much about what he said but there are two thoughts that have really been swirling around my mind today. First of all, he talked about how to react to these overwhelming, disturbing trends we are seeing in climate change. In one example, he said we should look to the Netherlands as an example. He said that the ocean is rising. This is a fact we all know. What did the Dutch do?? They raised the dikes. They didn't sit around discussing whether it was our fault or a cyclical process or even worse, ignore the fact that the water is rising....they raised the dikes. He went on to use this metaphor as a way to really break down the overwhelming paralysis we are seeing in the face of climate change in a very beautiful lecture. The way he ended it though, really got to me. After giving such a heavy topic a very light perspective, he said, "we will lose species, we will have millions of environmental refugees, we will cause irreparable damage to this world and will forever change to course of our climate, but it will still be a magnificent world and it will not lose its awesome beauty." (i don't want to say i'm quoting him directly, but he did say all these things and fairly close together! haha) He ended by challenging us to live joyfully and full of awe in the face of this changing earth and to mobilize our own lives to make the changes we need to slow this curve of destruction. And, to most importantly, bring the children into nature so that they will love it because, he said, legalism cannot make any headway against these trends. What we need is the passion that comes from defending something we desperately love.
If you have a chance to hear him speak, take it. Also, I think that if you are at all interested in the environment, creation, land, beauty, religion or humanity, you should set out to read his books.

Also, I received the Jan and Feb issues of the National Geographic in my mailbox today and one of them made short mention of these "emerging explorers-tomorrow's storytellers". They're Canadian (from Vancouver) and run this website community called Though I haven't had a significant amount of time to look at all their projects, these two guys Sol and Joshua have made a television series with the same name..."4REAL". The television show, 4REAL, is a series of half-hour episodes hosted by Sol Guy that takes celebrity guests (musicians, models, actors, etc.) on adventures around the world to connect with young leaders who, under extreme circumstances, are affecting real change on some of the most pressing issues of our time. It looks amazing and the way in which they are using art and culture to bring awareness to the triumphs of young leaders in these places is groundbreaking. Anyway, this week, the series airs on CTV. Everyone I know gets CTV and so if you have the chance, you should watch a few of these episode and let me know what you think...I will be watching them as well. The Alberta CTV schedule for these shows can be found at the top of the page here ( Each of the four episodes they're airing this week will be aired twice, so if you miss it once, check again the next showing.

This week is far from over and I can't wait to see what else will come up, but tonight I am going to a "travel talk" at the local Travel Shop about backpacking around Europe because, over the past few months, Iceland has gone from being a fairly non-existent place in my world to a place of interest to feeling as though it is in my very bloodstream and I am deciding that I have to do something about that.

on a final note...thanks for reading this far, I usually try and keep my blog posts shorter than this, but I also hope you follow some of those links. They're worth your while.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

you were my sweetest downfall...

I've been reading The Great Gatsby in bits lately and today I came across this line:

"In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."

I want to photograph that.

That exact idea..."moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars"

I have to go to work now, so I cannot write more, but I will soon. Probably tonight. I realize I've been neglecting a good blog post lately, so I will get on that.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

amongst the crowd a heart will break and a heart will mend...

I am here! Still here. Despite the craziness of this week and my lack of blogging, I am taking a breathing break to spend some time to put into words some jumbled thoughts from this week. At the moment, I am sitting on my bed, with every movement of my body sending out whiffs of beer. My co-worker put Big Brother on the TVs at work tonight and so, half of the last just of keiths red I poured ended up all over me because I was watching the veto competition instead of the tilt of the spout. great.

That being said, I am overwhelmed with exhaustion and so I will point form some things I have been thinking about and leave them to perhaps expound upon later...

- "You are not our little closet secret anymore" -Jamie at my photography opening

- Angus and Julia Stone are my new favourite musical artists

- What would your parents have been like had they led different lives?

- I really love poetry

- I think I could do great post graduate work in sociology on reality television shows

- 10 years is a very small block of time, but in the next ten years, my life will most likely be drastically changed

- post script to the one above...I want to be able to say that every 10 years

- Bodies need sleep