Saturday, December 31, 2011
It's been an amazing year - I've gone from working full time to being a full time student, and despite the odd bit of complaining, I've loved almost every minute of it. I have an exciting class lineup for next semester, and we're kicking off 2012 with a quick trip to California for a youth leader's convention, courtesy of my church, which is simply FABULOUS. I'm also really looking forward to the Calgary Comic Expo in the spring - someone who knows me very well gave me tickets for Christmas, and I'm working on a steampunk outfit to wear. I'm very excited that Amanda Tapping is one of the main guests, as the fall of 2011 has been a bit of an AT marathon for me. I just need to get caught up on the last two season of Stargate Atlantis and I'll be good to go!
My biggest project for 2012 is co-chairing a large youth conference in Calgary, and I'd appreciate your prayers for it! We're in the early stages of planning, and we're a bit behind where I'd like to be at this point - youth gatherings are something that mean even more to me than my geekery, so this is pretty major for me. Co-chairing is a big responsibility, and making this a spiritually meaningful event for the kids that come is my passion. SO; very exciting!
Hopefully in a couple of weeks I'll be sharing photos of LA - I've never particularly wanted visit it, but since the conference is there, we're going a bit early and staying a bit late in hopes of doing some sightseeing. There are only a couple of things I really want to see; the ocean, the Griffith Observatory (site of an episode of Star Trek Voyager) and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hopefully we can manage all of that without a car and in the limited time we have. Of course, I research trips as if I'm going to write a masters thesis on the area we're visiting, so I have more information then we'll need for the day-ish we'll have free... :)
Happy New Year to you all!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Sad day :(
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
In late September, I was looking for a tv show to watch online while we ate dinner. We gave up cable a few years ago because I just didn't have a whole lot of self control when it came to prioritizing my time when the Food Network was calling my name. So now we either watch shows on DVD, or online. I was scrolling through the shows available on the CTV website, and the name Sanctuary caught my eye. I remembered right away that Sanctuary was the show that Amanda Tapping was involved with after Stargate ended, so that was enough of a connection for me to tell Trevor that's what we were watching, and fortunately season one was all available.
I haven't gotten that instantly sucked into a tv show since February of 1997 when I watched my first episode of Star Trek: Voyager, part way through season 3. Now, about 6 weeks after finding Sanctuary, we're about half way through season 3, and should get caught up to the current episodes in season 4 by the end of the month. I'm struggling to slow down so I don't run out of new episodes to watch, but on the other hand, nearly every episode ends on a cliff hanger, and it's driving me mental! Trevor is very entertained by my expressions of frustrated fan-girl-ness.
Sanctuary is set basically in a modern parallel universe inhabited by normal humans, as well as 'abnormal' humans and creatures...think along the lines of X-Men. Tapping's character, Helen Magnus, is a 150-ish year old doctor who runs this Sanctuary organization, and she has a highly entertaining team of sidekicks, and a lovely British accent. I'm not sure exactly what it is about Sanctuary that I enjoy so much - it's a combination of the acting, the characters, the one-liners, the noble goal, the historical nods, the teasing cliff hangers - it's just brilliant.
Since I'm on Twitter now (which is a long story we won't go into in public! :P) I decided to 'follow' some of the actors from the show, just out of curiosity. What is this Twitter? Why is everyone so crazy about following celebrities? And so I figured normal, Canadian, celebrities were about my speed, and since I basically have dinner with these people every night, I was curious to know a bit more about their 'real' lives. I say 'real' because on Twitter of course people are still acting, but it's a different perspective on them.
In the middle of my Sanctuary crush, we took a weekend to run a youth retreat at our church. We had 75 youth and leaders from BC and Alberta sleeping on the floor, playing games, singing (yay Trevor!) and soaking up some really great teaching. The central theme of the weekend was Matthew 5:14, which is basically about being salt and light in the world. The speaker, Jenny (who I just love - I'd never even emailed with her before Friday, but I felt like I'd known her forever almost right away! I love it when that happens) used a refrain of 'you are a unique child of God' to punctuate a lot of her messages.
For me, 'you are a unique child of God' applies outwardly. I'm secure in that I'm a unique child of God - I've never doubted that. But it gave me a different perspective loving on the kids around me, and reminded me of why I got into youth ministry in the first place, almost 15 years ago.
But what really got my attention was something that happened yesterday. Ryan Robbins, who's one of the actors on Sanctuary, Tweeted a link to a video in which he sings 'Hallelujah' by Leonard Cohen. Here's a link to the video: http://vimeo.com/15215209
It totally blew me away. I watched a version of Hamlet recently where David Tennant (Dr. Who) played the title character, and his acting was just so raw and emotional I actually had to look away from the intensity, because his pain felt so personal (he's replaced Kenneth Branagh as my favourite Hamlet, by the way). I felt a lot like that watching Robbins sing this song.
Now, this song always breaks my heart a little bit, because I feel like Cohen was SO CLOSE to discovering the amazing grace of God, but he never quite gets there, and it's just so haunting and sad. It's basically about King David's horribly tainted relationship with Bathsheba, but in the Bible, David was forgiven and his relationship with God was restored, which is what the song leaves out. Robbins' version is the most heartbreaking I've ever heard - he said on Twitter that he'd been going through something at the time, and it's totally obvious.
This verse is the saddest, I think, it's just so hopeless and lost:
Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
The strangest thing happened while I was listening to Robbins; even though I knew this video was a year or more old, I had the sudden overwhelming urge to pray that he would know that he's a unique child of God. Blew my socks off - I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I actually couldn't sleep last night because it was so on my mind, which is crazy, because I can literally sleep through a rock concert if it's past my bedtime. :)
Is it weird to pray for an actor who you'll probably never even meet, because he was going through something that you'll never know about, when you don't even know how he feels about God in the first place? Or how he'd feel about being prayed for, and by a stranger? It feels a bit weird...but I didn't feel like I could do anything else in the face of such obvious pain. Salt and light, right?
Here's another version, called 'Another Hallelujah', by a Christian artist called Lincoln Brewster: http://youtu.be/uN5_PgtLpRc
It takes this melancholy cry for help and turns it into a triumphant anthem of grace and praise, which is totally what God is all about. Cool, hey?
So, that's the saga of how a tv show, a haunting song, and a youth retreat have all come together today to ground me in my faith in Jesus and give me goosebumps.
And how I just spent an hour banging out 1100 plus words about this when all I'm supposed to be doing is writing 500 on Hamlet... :)
Sunday, October 30, 2011
When we got home from our BC holiday, our friend Jennifer was at our house. She'd been feeding the cats while we were away, and working on recording her second album at a studio here in town. She asked us to join her and a couple of other people to sing background 'alleluias' for one of her songs! Of course, we couldn't say no to a request like that! :) But I was terrified of single-handedly wrecking her CD! Luckily, by the time the producer had us sing the melody and the harmony, and then run it through whatever computer magic, our little group sounded like a huge choir and my voice was indistinguishable from the rest.
One of my least favourite things about living in Calgary is (after the weather) Stampede. I could rant about it, but suffice to say that I don't enjoy it much. But this year we decided to get up earl and go on the morning where you can get in free if you go before a certain time. One of the big things this year was a figure skating show with Salle and Pelletier, of whom I'm a big fan. I was a bit underwhelmed, although that's probably because I'd gotten up early, and had to battle crowds, which is one of the reasons why I generally avoid Stampede. We went on the Ferris wheel, and I 'won' a stuffed minion (from Despicable Me) on the midway. We had fresh squeezed lemonade and mini doughnuts and hot dogs. We checked out the critters and watched the sheep shearing.
And of course we checked out the vendors, where I managed to get away without buying much of anything except some Tupperware, which I'd been looking for anyway. We were getting to our limit of interest, but we took a quick stroll through the crafting displays, and I found this gem of a Harry Potter cake. Pictures cannot do it justice - it was a masterpiece, and clearly created by someone with an abiding love for all things Potter. The detail is incredible!
Later in July we went up to Drumheller to the Passion Play. They have it there every year, and this is the third or fourth time I've been. They change the script up a bit - drawing on different Gospels - and this year was fabulous as always. We took a couple of youth from our church, and camped nearby. It was lots of fun, and we're hoping to do some youth camping again next year.
My post-road trip highlight was attending When Words Collide, a reader-con here in NW Calgary. A friend and I went together, and enjoyed meeting people, people-watching, hanging out with mutual acquaintances, attending panels, and generally being inspired in our literary ambitions. We're definitely planning to go back next year - it was SUCH a fun time.
Friday, October 21, 2011
I swear that stump has been in that exact same spot for 15 or 20 years...
Bed of sand dollars at low tide
Thursday, October 06, 2011
If you ever go caving, I HIGHLY recommend tough nylon MEC pants. Trevor's jeans were incredibly muddy, but after a quick dusting off, my pants were totally clean. Also, no matter how warm it is outside, it will be REALLY cold underground. And since you have to wear the helmets they provide, I recommend having your own hat to wear under said helmet if you're squeamish about things like germs and bugs. :) Also, take water and a few snacks in a very small backpack - you will absolutely need your hands free.
It was quite stiff uphill hike from the parking lot to the actual entrance of the cave. When we got to the cave, the guide unlocked the gate, and we scrambled down a long metal ladder like you'd find on a ship. I was surprised by the cave itself - I had expected something you could stand up in an walk around, but it was more like a long sloping tunnel. I expected to hear mysterious drumming from the depths any second....
Cool mineral formation
Some people see a buddha, some people see Jabba the Hutt...and you can see a perfect reflection!
Emerging from the underground
After all of the hiking, scrambling, and hiking, not to mention the long drive, I was STARVING. So we headed to Coombs to see what we could find to eat.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
This is Hatley Castle at Royal Roads. Royal Roads has a long and complicated history...however, it's main attractions are peacocks that roam wild, incredible gardens, a view of the ocean...and Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. If you watch the X-Men movies that came out around 8 or so years ago, the scenes set inside the castle, with the incredible wood paneling - that's Hatley Castle. It's also Lex Luthor's home from the tv show Smallville as well, but I was more tickled over the fact that last time I was there, I got to stand RIGHT where Patrick Stewart did. We didn't go into the castle itself this time. There was a wedding in progress so part of everything was shut down, but we got into the parts of the garden that weren't for a discount, so that was a good deal!
Monday, September 19, 2011
It was most excellent! If you're ever in Victoria, I highly recommend the White Heather!
We did go an park underneath the Empress, partly because it's handy, but largely because I wanted to go to the gift shop and stock up on Empress blend tea, which is actually pretty comparable to grocery store tea, at least in price. In flavour...amazing! Then we set out to walk all around the main downtown core.
"Darth Fiddler", a random busker downtown on the waterfront....Victoria's waterfront is populated with interesting and random things to look at at.
The inner harbour is dominated by the Empress (above) and the provincial legislature buildings. We visited Murchie's Tea room and shop, Roger's Chocolates, and many random and interesting stores. My favourite Chinese restaurant is still beside Fan Tan Alley (is it just my imagination, or does every city with a Chinatown have a Fan Tan Alley?)but we didn't eat there, because we were meeting Trevor's friend Dana for dinner at Fisherman's Wharf. We walked for about four hours - I really wish I'd had a pedometer so I could count how many kilometers it was - I was bagged!
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
We camped just outside Sidney, which is an area that I didn't know well to begin with. The campground was beautiful, and a very short walk from a secluded beach. Oh, beach...woe, landlocked Alberta!
One of the new additions since I lived there is the Shaw Ocean Discovery Center, an amazing museum/aquarium, staffed mostly by volunteers. All of the marine life in the aquarium comes from the waters around the island, and I had no idea that there was such exotic variety in our cold Canadian waters.
Trevor washing dishes at our swanky campground:
One of my must-see sights in Victoria is Craigdarroch Castle. Not really a castle by European standards, but certainly by Hudson's Bay outpost standards! It's a beautiful sandstone mansion on a hill overlooking the Victoria harbour, and it's been restored to the state it was in when the family built it, as opposed to the state it was in after it was a school.
In the lobby, looking up:
On the top floor, looking down:
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
We spent the afternoon hanging out with our good friends Chris and Kelsey, and their new baby. We were lucky to catch them, as the left Vernon permanently later that week! They took a break from packing to take us to their favourite lake-side patio for some EXCELLENT calamari.
Boys on the patio, waiting to be fed!
Too quickly we had to hit the road for Penticton, as rush hour highway traffic through Kelowna can be terrible. Again we were blessed with smooth sailing, and we made it to Penticton about an hour before it would have been too late to check in. The campground was practically deserted, as we were just ahead of the main tourist weekend. Our site backed onto a lagoon, home to assorted friendly ducks.
It also had an excellent view of the sunset!
On Tuesday we met up with our good friends Scott and Sam, and their two super-cute little girls for some time at the beach. The weather was hot hot and the sky was as blue as it gets. I tried my hand at kayaking on the lake - it's quite a bit of work! My right arm is much stronger then my left, so of course my strokes weren't even and I spent a lot of time trying to stop veering, and to go in a straight line. :)
It was getting on nap time for little girls, so the family went home, and Trevor and I picked up lunch, and headed to the beach on the other lake, at the north side of Penticton. It was quite windy there, and not nearly as hot. There were lots of ducks and geese to watch, as well as some entertaining tourists.
At the far end of the waterfront promenade, past the beached paddle-wheeler, is a beautiful rose garden. Some of the bushes hadn't even bloomed yet, but most of them were at their peak, and it was lovely. They all had incredible aroma, and I had a lot of fun stopping to smell the roses, and take a million photos, while Trevor humoured me!
We headed over to Scott and Sam's for dinner, and I was entertained to discover that they have the exact same Ikea dining room table as us - great friends think alike :)
Wednesday was quite the adventure. It was the first day I was able to register for my university classes, and being the highly organized person that I am (some say OCD, but that's another story :) I already had a timetable mapped out and I was ready to go first thing. Alas, I discovered that not only was the Spanish class I wanted full already, meaning I had to chose a different language option and fit it it, I couldn't actually register until after 12 noon! And we had to leave Penticton ASAP because we had a booking on the ferry that evening. But I was at least able to put the classes I wanted in a 'shopping cart' to hopefully save a bit of hassle later.
So we packed up camp (and it's a good thing we bought a larger car last winter, because otherwise we wouldn't have had enough room - I don't pack light!) and made tracks for Vancouver. The last time I was on a trip in that direction, I was about 13, so not remembering how to get to the ferry, we relied quite heavily on old-school paper maps, the GPS on Trevor's BlackBerry (I LOVE having my own personal computer geek!) and printed Google maps.
I decided that we should head south out of Penticton and take the Crowsnest route, because I'm a big fan of scenic trips, and I'm pretty sure I've never been that way before. I had an anxious half an hour when we got stuck in construction, but we made good time after that. We stopped in Hope for lunch, but sadly got turned around in the ridiculous labyrinth of highways that surround that area, and ended up going BACK THE WAY WE CAME! I JUST about had a heart attack. Fortunately Trevor isn't nearly as excitable, and we only lost a few minutes before we were able to head in the right direction again. Whew!
We made it to Chilliwack by mid-afternoon, and drove through town until we found a coffee shop with free wi-fi for customers. I got tea and something...I don't even remember what...to go along with the wireless password. I was able to quickly register for my classes, and then we were back on the road again, and this time my goal was to make our ferry sailing.
Thankfully we avoided construction and getting lost in Vancouver, and were perfectly on time to check in and get in line for the ferry. We even had a few minutes to check out the shops and get some supper. I don't know if words can adequately express my relief at being safely registered for school, and not missing our boat.
We were even the first car on to the ferry!
I don't ever remember such a windy crossing before, but I loved every second of it. It's been FAR too long since I pilgrimaged to the island!
Friday, August 26, 2011
In April we had two dishes with pesto - cavatappi with mushrooms, and scallops. I must just not be a pesto fan, because I didn't like either of them at all. The cavatappi is fun though - a twisty, spiralled type of pasta that I did like. We had Chinese BBQ Pork, cooked in the crockpot that we weren't a fan of, because the meat was too dry. I'm finding that common theme with most of their crockpot pork dishes, so we're going to try to stay away from those, as well as from the Pineapple Chicken, which was simply uninspiring.
We did enjoy the Greek Shrimp, although we left out the cheese sauce that came with it, and the Pizzaiola Pork. My only complaint about the Pizzaiola Pork is that it didn't re-heat well, although it was quite tasty the night we made it.
The big hits in April were the Hong Kong Chicken Drumsticks and the Smothered Roast Beef - both were excellent, and we'd definitely make them again.
In May we had really good results, except for the Maple Glazed Pork, which wasn't a favourite, although doing it in the oven made it turn out better then some of the other pork ones we've tried.
We really liked the Honey and Garlic Beef Stir Fry, the Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops, the Savory Chicken Drumsticks, the Slow Cooker Beef Roast, and the Thai Chicken with Basil.
However, we loved the Zesty Sauced Ribs. Meaty, saucy ribs stewed in the crockpot all day...they were divine. We could have eaten them every day that week!
We didn't do a session in June, because it fell while we were on holidays, and we actually still have one of the July dishes left, which is right now thawing in the fridge for dinner tomorrow. It needs to be baked in the oven for an hour, which made it not such an idea candidate for a work night dinner. So stay tuned for another Dashing Dishes post in a month or so, when we're done with the August dinners we just made!
Monday, August 15, 2011
Our holiday really got started with our trip to the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo the weekend of June 17, here in Calgary.
Friday was sneak preview day, and I went down early to help my friends from Edge Publishing, Brian and Anita, to set up their vendor booth. Trevor came down after work, and we checked out the vendor booths, and then we went to a comedy show put on by a local geek troupe called the 404s. As with all comedy, it was a bit hit and miss, but we had a lot of fun.
They had a game where the audience could submit a line on a piece of paper, and as the actors played out a scene, they would randomly have to grab a piece of paper and work in the line on it. As the MC was explaining this, he pulled out a slip of paper and started to read. We knew right away it was the one we submitted, as it began: "Soft kitty". One of the girls in the troupe was literally beside herself with excitement, grabbed the slip of paper from him, and began to sing the unofficial theme song of the tv show the Big Bang Theory. And in a moment that made this geek girl's weekend, the whole theater began to sing along. :)
Saturday we got there early enough to check out the vendors again, and then get in line for my photo op with William Shatner. I had a noon appointment time, and I was supposed to be in line about 45 minutes before that. Well, it was a GONG show. They had more people lining up then they had room for, so they ushered us all out to sit in the bleachers in the corral. This was appreciated, because at least we got to sit down and watch the Summer Glau panel, which was interesting, because I haven't yet watched any of the shows she's been in, other than her guest spot on the Big Bang Theory. Then it was Christopher Judge's panel, which was the one panel that day that I had REALLY wanted to see.
For those who don't know, Christopher Judge was on Stargate SG 1, which I really like. Unfortunately, it was only about half way through when they took a batch of people out for their photo op, including me! Woe!
The photo op was quite disappointing - literally only a few seconds long, and I wasn't even allowed to touch William Shatner - I thought I'd at least get a handshake out of it. I'm glad that I did it, but I don't think I'd spend the money for a photo op with a big celebrity like that again. His 'performance' later in the day was really entertaining, and when he was listing all the projects that he's got on the go, I could only hope that I'll be that spry when I'm 80!
On Sunday we went to the Tia Carrere panel, which was interesting. She was in Relic Hunter and Lilo & Stitch, so I'm a bit of a fan. But by that point I was REALLY sick of all of this white hat business and this supposed 'vow' that goes along with it. We didn't actually stay for the whole thing because I wanted to go get good seats for the next event.
Jonathan Frakes is very entertaining. He was quite taken with the couch set up for him to sit on, and decided to take the most advantage of it.
The people-watching is always fun - some of the costumes are amazing.
There was a zombie flash-mob, dancing to Thriller.
My costume was one of the less elaborate.
Overall, I didn't find this Comic Expo as fulfilling as my first, which was last year. There weren't as many panels I was interested in, and I felt like there was too much emphasis on shopping rather then geeking out, and I was quite disappointed with the way the Shatner photo ops were organized. But that said the corral was a better, larger venue, and the crowd control was generally much better then last year. I'm not sure if I'll go again next year or not - maybe I'll see about volunteering instead of paying for admission.