Refuse to be Passive

Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

Short Visits

In Food, Life in General on February 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm

I love it when my mother comes up to visit. She was up this weekend for a quick trip. She arrived on Thursaday night so that she could attend meetings at NAIT on Friday. And then we had Friday evening and Saturday morning together before she headed back south.

Thursday evening was excellent. There’s something brilliant about two people sitting with cups of tea and catching up on the latest news and then moving on to more meaningful conversations. My father has bought a “new” pickup truck, a 2005. I’m not sure exactly the make and model, but I do know that it’s metallic orange, which I would have been alright with, except then he wanted to get it fancied up with some decals. So, now my father’s pick up truck has a small cowboy riding a horse on just below the back seat windows, and has “Trail Rider” blazened on the side of the box near the gate. He also got a stripe that runs the sides of the truck that has a bit of a barbwire feel to it. And he is prouder than a peacock. I had to laugh when I saw it. My father is a wannabe cowboy. He always has been, but this is one of the first times I’ve really noticed it. I know he loves riding, and that my parent’s basement is decorated in a bit of a country theme. My father wears the hat and boots on a regular basis, but now I really feel like they need to buy a ranch with horses to make this image of my father complete. It won’t happen, but wouldn’t that be fun!

Friday evening saw my mother, sister, and brother-in-law try an Asian restraunt we’d never been to before, called the Blue Willow. Our waitress was excellent, as was the food. I knew their ginger beef was fabulous, as I’d ordered it before from their food trailer at the street performer’s festival in the summer. Ever since then I’ve wanted to try it. Good food, good company, made for a good evening.

This morning, Saturday, saw mom and I up on time and heading to the Duchess bakery for breakfast. We got there right at 10am, which is when they open. Good timing, as I thought they opened at 9. Whoops. But they were just opening the door as we walked up. We snagged one of the few tables that grace the bakery and ordered chocolate orange scones and black coffee. Absolutely delectible. Even now, I can almost taste the scone if I think about it. That bakery always has excellent food and excellent service. It’s no wonder people were outside the door eagerly waiting for 10am.  Every time I’ve been to the Duchess on a Saturday it’s busy. I always go at different times, so all I can assume is that every Saturday is a rush all day. I bet that means the bakers’ days start mighty early. That, and apparently, there are enough rich people in Edmonton (Glenora in particular) to keep this bakery going from day to day. The amounts of money some people dropped there were massive. My $8.40 purchase seemed piddly next to the people in front of me. Still, I got service with a smile, and the young man helping me brought our coffees out to the table. From there my mother and I hit up a small consignment shop, but as usual, found nothing. Then we wandered through an excellent kitchen store called Call The Kettle Back (Black?) and while pricey, had excellent quality wares for sale. I only picked up a tea strainer, but my mother bought some new tea towels and a few other things. All in all, a delightful morning.

Then, she departed for Lethbridge again. A short trip, but as always, a good trip. I love it when my mother comes to visit and I look forward to the next time.

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Criticism? No thanks.

In Life in General on February 24, 2010 at 10:05 am

I don’t take criticism well. I never have. I remember being in the advanced creative writing course in university and having to put my work up to every one of my peers’ and professor’s scrutiny. It was painful. I never wanted to present my work because it seemed the comments were always more negative than good. But I knew it was a good exercise for me, and constantly reminded myself that it wasn’t me they were critiquing, and that in the end, they were trying to help me be a better writer.
Sadly, it seems that I’ve forgotten the lessons that course taught me about constructive criticism and being gracious in the face of it. I’ve forgotten how to appreciate it as help. The truth is, I don’t want help. I like to think I’ve got it all under control on my own. Now, I could turn this into a theological/spiritual rant, but that’s not actually the direction this post is going.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the swimming pool with my sister, and one of the guys who was swimming in our lane said something to me when we were both on the same end of the pool, grabbing some water (yes, you can get dehydrated even though you’re swimming in it). He said. “Kick from the hips more, don’t use your knees so much.” I was immediately taken aback. Why would he critique my kick? What right did he have? And worst of all, I thought I was kicking from the hip. Dang. How do I adjust something I thought I was doing properly? I certainly wasn’t going to ask him. He was in his late 20’s and in good physical shape. But what really bugged me was that he was critiquing me when he still had things to work on in his own stroke. Granted, he was right. I should kick more from the hip and bend my knees less. I just don’t have the strength– which I could develop if I really wanted to. But did he know that when his arms came up out of the water he then slapped them down, creating huge amounts of splash, rather then leading with his hand? Now, regardless of that, this guy moves fast. Kudos on that.

He was at the pool again today and I found myself heading for the hot tub before my swim, hoping he’d get out and then I wouldn’t have to risk his criticism again. My sister and I had started to call him “chip guy” because I had initially commented to my sister that he probably thought “he was all that.” And she added, “with a bag of chips.” Anyway, I finally hopped into the pool , as he wasn’t leaving and I couldn’t put it off anymore if I wanted to get in a half decent swim. I chatted with my sister and chip guy came tearing towards the end of the pool, splashing water on the way. He stopped at the end, where my sister and I were chatting to grab a drink. It was then I noticed a small tattoo at the top of his back, right below his neck. It was a fish with a cross in it. Simple, small, but with a definitive message. Dang it.

What I had seen in him as arrogance had been him trying to be helpful. My pride and prejudice made me assume he was being a twit. Really, I was being a twit. Why couldn’t I have thanked him for his advice and taken it to heart, rather than deciding from that one sentence that he was a jerk? I think I might be the most judgmental human in the world. The funny thing is that, in assuming he was the jerk, it was I who took on that roll.

Oh, and I took a look at his kick. It’s rather perfect.

Pan Seared Tofu Stirfry

In Food on February 22, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Tonight’s meal could have been easier, and I wager that most restraunts couldn’t make a meal that tastes that good. I chopped up some red pepper, asparagus, and snap peas. I sliced some extra firm tofu and dipped it in a sauce of hosin sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and peanut sauce and then sprinkled it with garlic. I seared it on high heat and then added the veggies, making sure to keep the food in the pan moving so it didn’t burn. And the results? Quite delicious if I do say so myself.

Living for Today

In Life in General on February 22, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Too many people live for the future, whether it’s the upcoming weekend or where we’ll be next year. Many of us just survive the present in hope of things to come. We miss so much by living like this. I am as guilty as the next person. This weekend I took a good look at my life and how I was living. Was I living in the here and now? Or was a waiting impatiently for what’s coming round the bend? Sadly, I found myself looking to the future. The thing about the future is that it becomes the present, and the future we were looking forward to becomes the present, and then all too quickly, the past. So wouldn’t it make more sense, and ultimately make us happier to live in the present? If we’re not happy with the present, wouldn’t it make sense to start working towards change now?

By living for the future and ignoring the present, I miss so many opportunities. I miss out on making new friends, on taking advantage of the activities the city has to offer. For example, this weekend I am going to the Opera for the first time with one of my friends. What an experience! I’ll have to be sure to relish the experience.

I have made new friends in Edmonton and find I often fail to make the time to spend with them, hanging out, going for coffee, hitting up the farmer’s market, or going to a movie. By living for the future I loose sight of the amazing opportunities and blessings that I have now. Therefore, I’m going to focus on living in the present, making the most of each day. Then, I truly believe that I will be able to live my life to the fullest.

A Thirst for Knowledge…and Beer

In Life in General on February 19, 2010 at 2:03 am

I talked with a friend on the phone for two hours tonight. I think he now believes I am nuts. The conversation started when I told him via text that drunkeness was one of my pet peeves. This necessitated a phone call when he asked for an explanation. During the course of the conversation I told him I was a Christian. He was cool with that, but started getting skeptical when he found out I was more than a lip-service Christian. He’s a firm believer in not giving your life over to somthing or Someone, particularly if it can’t be proven empirically.
Turns out this guy, who I’d never thought of as much of a brainiac, although never thought of as stupid, is a hardcore academic. He has a massive thirst for knowlege, and many of his more profound thoughts seem to be the result of discussions and arguments with friends after having one too many beers. He says that’s when he does his best thinking. He also thinks I’m too uptight. But that’s another story. He’s completely non-judgmental, which kinda drives me nuts– but so be it. When you claim no absolute truth, you can afford to believe that people can believe whatever they want and be right. He’s a big proponent that as long as he’s not doing anything “bad”–illegal– he’ll be alright.
Part of his thirst for knowledge has read him to read the Bible cover to cover. There were a lot of things in it he didn’t get, but he wanted to know what he was talking about when going up against people.
We talked for a bit about Christianity and my beliefs, the conversation wandered back in another direction, and then veered back to faith. This would happen multiple times throughout the conversation. The honest truth though, is that there were a number of dead ends I hit, and areas I had no answers. Leaving it up to faith isn’t good enough for him. Since he’s an academic and has a thirst for knowledge, I suggested he read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. I hope he does. Lewis has a way of putting things into words that I just don’t have.
I hope that the Holy Spirit has planted a seed to grow within my friend, and that He will use me to His glory and honour. But I feel like such a failure.
I hope I didn’t freak him out too much. He seems cool with it all, and I’m hoping he is, as I’d really like to keep him as a friend.

What’s Wrong With What We Eat

In Food, Life in General on February 17, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Food for Thought. Watch it. It’s worth it.

Orange Chocolate Scones…Mmm

In Food on February 17, 2010 at 9:58 am

This weekend, my sister and I took a side trip from our clothing shopping to hit up the Dutchess Bakeshop, as she’d never been there before. I have no clue how her hummingbird loaf or croissants were, as the place was packed so we took the goodies to go. But what I can tell you, is that the Orange Chocolate Scones are absolutely divine. They’re moist and full of flavour while not being overly heavy. Even the memory of it makes my mouth water. I’m discovering that I’m starting to appreciate foods with subtler flavours and this one fits the bill. Not over powering, the dark chocolate and orange mix together to create a delicious treat that could easily become a bad habit.

(Sorry there are no photos,  it was screaming to be eaten, so eat it I did)

Budgeting

In Life in General on February 16, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Part of my job is to help students learn how to budget. Part of my job is to help them find areas where they can cut expenses. As such, I do a bit of research each week, looking for new ideas on how to cut expenses. Now, conveniently, that means that I’m also finding out ways to tweak my own budget, or at least I should be. The thing that really drives me nuts about all this research though, is that I never find any new ways for me to trim my spending. It’s mostly old hat for me. Of course you write a list when you go grocery shopping. Of course to get books out of the library rather than buying them (if the library doesn’t have it, they’ll often buy it if you out in a request). Of course you don’t buy what you don’t need (okay, so that’s a bit of advice I could probably take to heart). But really, most of what they’re citing, doesn’t apply to me. I don’t buy daily lattes at Starbucks or buy bottled water. I walk where I can, when I can. I don’t buy extravagantly. Still, at the end of the month, my money is tight. This month I’ll be ending with less than $50 in my bank account. My rent, by all means, is cheap, and includes utilities. I don’t have cable– for $70 a month, I can rent a movie a day at Safeway and still be ahead ($1.88 incl. tax). So where am I going wrong? I’m not a big spender. But still, I can’t seem to slice any more off my budget. So, these websites with all this budgeting advice, and secrets to saving money, are completely useless. The best money saving tips I get are from friends and acquaintances. All you people who write about money saving, come up with something new to say!

Mardis Gras!

In Food, Life in General on February 16, 2010 at 9:55 am

Mardi Gras, literally Fat Tuesday, is the day of partying that happens before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Actually, I’m fairly sure Mardi Gras was never supposed to be. But who doesn’t want to have a big party with lots of food before spending 40 days focusing on their (my) sin? Shrove Tuesday, is also today. A time to celebrate by eating pancakes! Where this tradition comes from, I have no idea, but I like it. So today I will be chucking my healthy eating out the window, and tomorrow I will be back at it. Also, I will be starting my fast from ______. Well, that’s for me to know and you to never find out– or maybe you will. I think I’ve told one or two people already. But one thing I’ll say, it’s gonna be tough!

Sweeney Todd

In Art on February 14, 2010 at 11:02 pm

I think that my subscription to the local theatre for the season was one of the best buys ever. And out of the five shows I’ve seen thus far, none has been better than the latest. On Friday evening I went to see Sweeney Todd. I’ve never seen Sweeney Todd. I think I watched the first twenty minutes of the movies with Jonny Depp, but was unenthused so found something else to do. I really didn’t know the story line going in, so all I knew was that it was about a barber who kills people and that they wind up in pies. But the music was fantastic. And the man who played Sweeney will forever be Sweeny for me. The music was fantastic– from the musicians to the singers, they were all top notch. The singing was well enunciated, allowing the audience to be easily transported into the world of Fleet Street. For those of you who have never seen Sweeney Todd, I’ll stop right there. But I will say this: it’s definitely worth seeing. Sweeney Todd is playing at the Citadel theatre until February 28th. Act now, before it’s gone!