that perfect hand…

In Ocean's 11, Danny said that "the house always wins. If you play long enough, never change the stakes, then the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big… and then, you take the house." Here's the hand I've been dealt, sometimes it's risky and sometimes it's safe, but all the time… it's perfect. It's mine.


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rockstars

(Trav: I want you to imagine this story in full typical-Kate-ridiculousness… it will add the emphasis it needs that my words just cannot express)

Lately Luke and I have been talking about adventuring. I am always telling him I want to go on an adventure and whether that means to the breakwater to look at the luminescent bacterias (I think?) or check out the lab he works at or go to the lagoon or do iron chef, we like to be creative in our hang out sessions. Recently, I’ve been particularly adamant that while I love watching ‘The Office’, we need to do something cool and adventurous. Enter yesterday. It went something like this:

Luke is an avid fly fisher and since I have a storage unit up in Duncan, it worked well to time my going up for boxes with his need to exercise his passion on the Cowichan River. It was a gorgeous day and since all he really told me was that we would have to walk a little ways through some bush to the river, I wore a t-shirt, capris, sunglasses, and flip flops. I sat on the road while he got ready — his clothing consisted of fishing weighters (I don’t know how to spell it), a fishing vest, toque, boots, gators, and his rod. He said it was his fish slaying vest. I also had my bag (with my novel and juice for us) and Luke’s jacket. My arms were full.

So we get walking on this perimeter-trail-esque terrain when Luke looks back at me and says “Shoot Kater, you might regret what you’re wearing because we have to go off the trail now.” Whatever. I just smiled and said I wasn’t too concerned since it wasn’t going to be very far.

Are you kidding? It turns out the spot that we started and parked was totally wrong (He had only been there once) and for the next hour, we hiked and slid through willows, prickles/thistles, moss, tree trunks, vines, clay, and MUD. Once we had been going for a little while, Luke kept looking back at me asking me if I wanted to turn back. Coupled with the fact that there was no way I would be able to climb all that way back up in my muddy, loose, flipflops, I am a trooper and with a huge smile, I said No! We’re almost there…right? And he’d just grin. I fell about three times before he took everything from me. And I continually fell and got stuck for the entire journey straight down. At one point my whole right leg was stuck in the mud. It was so steep and forest-ish, it was absolutely beyond description hilarious. I haven’t had that much fun in months. He called it a “mud gorge”.

After I decided I would rather sacrifice my feet than fall on my face in the mud anymore, I walked the rest of the way barefoot. BAREFOOT. We came onto this creek where Luke washed my flipflops off (they were covered in so much clay it looked like concrete) and I tried to wash my feet a bit. Once we started going again, I was trying to be a rockstar and I said, as his fishing rod got stuck in a tree-ish, “Luke, can I hold anything?” (He had my shoes and everything else)… he looked up at me with the most awesome smile and said “No Kater, I think you need to focus on holding your own.

Sooo a couple more falls, giving me a hands up, screeches, laughs, and blood, and asking me if I felt one with nature, we came out and off of the cliff only to see two people walking down a trail. And we just looked at each other and laughed and laughed. He said “Well Kate, you’ve been bugging me for an adventure.” And it was of epic proportions.

The rest of the day was brilliant. Luke fished and after I waded into the river enough to get the worst of the mud off and wounds cleaned, I read on a rock, huddled in his jacket and so impressed with myself. There was fleeting moment where I couldn’t see him anymore in the river and panicked, but just as I was afraid his toque would come floating down without him, I felt a fishing line on my head. The adventure was far from over when we had to walk back, on the road, to his car. I chuckled every time we turned a corner and the car was still not there… we travelled a fair distance on our excursion! He didn’t catch anything, but for the rest of the night, every time we’d look at each other, if we weren’t talking, we just burst out laughing. And he was devastated we didn’t take pictures of how ridiculous I looked and how immaculate he looked… we looked as different as night and day and he was completely unscathed.

After a trip to the storage unit, a dinner at Boston Pizza with jagger bombs to celebrate success, we came back blasting the music and the heat. He called me a warrior. I asked him whether I should paint him as a villain or a hero in this story, and he said it was up to me. He was a rockstar. Team Hardcore — another successful run. And even though he didn’t slay any fish, we totally slayed that forest. And came out smiling in the end. Just awe-some.

This is the cliffe we came down.

This is the cliff we came down.

In all it's glory.

The picture doesnt do it justice, it was extremely steep and hard to envision from this photo..in all its glory.

We saw this later -- where I have circled on this photo is where we climbed all the way down. How unbelievably heroically survivorish of us.

We saw this later -- where I have circled on this photo is where we climbed all the way down. How unbelievably heroically survivorish of us.

Fisher-man in all his glory.

Fisher-man just fired right up.

The gorgeous Cowichan River on a gorgeous day in March.

The gorgeous Cowichan River on a gorgeous day in March.

So alternative to what we're used to. Brilliant.

So alternative to what we're used to. Brilliant.

Can you see him?

Can you see him?

Heading to a different spot.

Heading to a different spot.

I know it's blurry...but you can see the thumbs up!

I know it's blurry...but you can see the thumbs up!

We FINALLY found the car.

We FINALLY found the car.

War wounds.

War wounds. My arms look worse.


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i kissed grumps good bye

Every once in awhile I wake up in the morning completely disatisfied. It happens very rarely but it’s like a feeling walked into my heart and head and decided it is time for a little renovation. I spend a few minutes thinking about this, thinking about what I’ve done the last few weeks and then I think that thought I think 100 times a week: Is this where I thought I would be? How much longer before I start living this life I am meant to live? Then I start thinking about what I am spending my time and energy on and feel like I have to fix it.

I woke up yesterday like this. Just frustrated with how unproductive and unemotional and unjoyful things have sort of been lately. Kind of like a funk that is so deeply seeded into my day-to-day existence, I woke up sick of feeling so mundane. Amanda and I have coined this attitude ‘grumps’ and I am so not good at being grumps. I don’t know how I am supposed to channel this energy and I don’t know why grumps is resonating so intently. I even spent the last little bit deciding everyone around me is grumps, not me. But it is. And it’s frustrating. So it’s time for a little renovation. I think?

Classes end on Thursday and I still haven’t heard from the teaching program. Nobody I know who applied has, but when I was thinking about that my mom said to keep praying. But how can you keep praying for something you actually haven’t been? Yea. When I think about what I need to work on in my spiritual life it’s prayer. I have an easy time praying for the little things throughout the day like a mom whose trying to calm her kid down in the mall, when a friend asks me to pray, or when I want rockstar parking, but I find it hard to expose my fears and concerns through prayer. I am having an equally difficult time understanding my purpose. But yea, pray for my prayer life? That’s so redundant but I don’t mind admitting that I am struggling.

Among other reasons and things and people and places and fears, yesterday I really just made a mental decision to start editing. Edit out bad habits or feelings or whatever it is… I mean, living a joy filled life has been fabulous but I don’t think it’s wrong to struggle with it a little bit sometimes. Or is it? I don’t know. I just don’t do well with this. I start second guessing everything. I get worried about things I shouldn’t and I start watching my back in odd and disastrous ways. I just hate being grumps. But rising above and out of it can be hard sometimes, especially when you don’t really feel like people give you room to be grumps for a little while. I need encouragement. I need affirmation that I am doing okay. I need to own and believe that nobody else really has it figured out.

But then I woke up this morning to a glorious, rich, perfectly sunny and warm day and I understand that maybe the adventure is in living life, not attempting to solve it. Grumps gone.


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teaser

I will put stuff up concerning Iron Chef soon… it was an awesome, fabulous, fun day… right thru to the bitter end. I will debrief once I recover. Here’s a pic or two to tide you over until I have time:

Game faces. We practiced.

Game faces. We practiced.

Rockstar judging.

Rockstar judging.

Rockstar Team "we have more of a symbol" Hardcore's spread.

Rockstar Team "we have more of a symbol" Hardcore's spread.

I think laughter is the best way to brush off defeat. We're pretty good at it.

I think laughter is the best way to brush off defeat. We're pretty good at it.


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iron chef 2009 – the preshow

Sidenote: Hi Trav, I am glad you are out there creeping on me… I hope you’re having a really good day.

ANYWAYS…LET THE BATTLE BEGIN.

In the sheer geniusity of genius, some friends of mine decided a couple months ago that we should have our own version of Iron Chef America. Have you heard of it? Let me explain.

In the Food Network hit show, two chefs wage a battle in “kitchen stadium” where they are given one hour to complete a plethora of dishes that highlight the secret ingredient. Based on the judging of three judges, each chef is graded on the plating, taste, and originality of their dishes (generally 5 or 6). And then… the winner is deemed IRON CHEF.

We’re trying to channel this a little bit in our modified, student-friendly version. Here’s what’s going “down”:

The Competition (if you can call it that): Darcy/Celine (“the rookies”) vs Georg/Lindsay (“all talk…no walk”) vs Luke/Myself (“team h-core” or “pure awesomeness” or simply “no name needed”).

(I made these up myself because they don’t read this blog, I can say whatever I want).

Judges: Ty “i like cake and whipped cream on drinks” Corfe, Ryan “cook steak and i will vote for you” Recina, and Amanda “hand me smarties and i hand you the prize” Holenstein.

(Luke and I have done our research on how to bribe these people).

Where: deemed the “Torquay Temple”… at Buzz and Celine’s house on Torquay Rd/St/Ave/Whatev.

When: This Saturday. We meet at 3:00 pm at Safeway where Ryan “don’t steal Starbucks aprons while i am on shift” Recina will shoot off a cap gun to signal our start. We have 20 mins to shop and 5 mins to get to Torquay — penalized 1 point for every 5 minutes we go over the time limit. From there, we have two time limit options. Due to only one oven and small space, we’ve improvised to a 90 min time option by in which if a pair finishes in 90 mins they get a bonus point; total time limit is 120 min.

In other words, “ALL KNIVES DOWN!” will be yelled by Amanda “i am running high on life and monster energy drinks” Holenstein at apprx. 6:00 pm SHARP.

What: We have to produce a minimum of 3 dishes, preferably one of each of appetizer, main course, and dessert. We WILL go above and beyond.

Budget: 50$… but spices or any already-owned items (like wonton wrappers! shh!) don’t count in the budget because we can bring them from our respective homes.

Grading: 10 points – taste; 5 points – plating; 5 points – originality; -1 – for every time you fail to adhere to the “iron” clad rules…pun COMPLETELY intended.

The Prize: The losing teams do the dishes.

And the secret ingredient is…

HONEY!

Second sidenote: Luke and I were talking ourselves up quite a bit when the ball started rolling on this event. But since then, we’ve shut right up and created a strategy in our evasiveness. They think that we lost heart for the competition in the last month. I guess they don’t really know that Luke “nothing but grill” Hughson and Kate “likes it spicy” Stam have serious game.

In other words, we’ve been in serious, incredible training over this event. And what an even it IS…we even had a pre-Iron Chef meeting at Starbucks the other night.

Present at the meeting:

The enemies:

Georg “poser Paula Deen” Tuchlinski missing his teammate
Lindsay “artificial Emeril Lagasse” Smith
Darcy “fake Rachael Ray” Pederson and his more skilled partner
Celine “attempted Bobby Flay” Mercier

The judges:

Ryan “the rockstar” Recina
Amanda “the hoopstar” Holenstein
missing: Ty “the skatestar” Corfe

The fan favourites to bet on:

Luke “in contracts for his own Food Network show” Hughson and his sous chef
Kate “doesn’t need a show to be the best” Stam


Stay tuned to hear of our win! And to see pictures! And send your support.

Not that we need any.

Cheers!


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raise your glass..

I just finished what will probably be my very LAST 3000 word history research essay in my university career. Feels pretty darn good. I think I’ve written three or four per semester for the last three years.

Plus it’s sunny so I am open to celebrating on our deck with a cold one.

I cannot believe it — the end is in sight!

Cheers!


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silence me now

I am starting to believe that the lessons we learn and risks we take are much more invaluable the harder time we have with them. I have been praying specifically for silence lately. I decided not to give up anything or take up anything for Lent, but to use this time to create a habit of enjoying the silence more. They (whoever THEY may be) say that it takes 21 days to pick up a habit so I figure in 40, I will have this almost mastered. At least, I thought I would.

In the last few weeks, God has been calming my heart over the things that seem to plague me the most. Especially when it comes to waiting on my teaching application or my current state of financial affairs or ICBC or my car or boy or school wrapping up. I pride myself on not being an overly stressed or worrisome person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have concerns. When I had my kidney virus, my doctor told me that when you’re not an emotionally-charged-stressed person, your body chooses to react in other ways to make up for your emotions…through exhaustion or hair loss or blood pressure, etc. Lately it just started getting super noisy in my head and I just wanted to calm down and let God handle the rest.

It’s funny how it’s calmed down in my head, outwardly things have been chaotic. I broke Kyla’s espresso machine’s coffee pot, broke my favourite bowl from my mom, drove over a nail and popped my tire, the starter went in my car, I got four awkwardly-placed zits, toppled over coffee grinds and twenty minutes later, spilled my entire coffee all over my bed, carpet, and notebook. I also spilled a beer at our Mexican dinner party the other night all over myself so I was drenched from my middle down to my knee, dropped every other item or missed my mouth when I tried to eat off my plate…not even with chopsticks… when I went out for Chinese the other night, and finally, had both of my legs seize and spasm beyond painful repair when I was at the lagoon last Thursday night, sitting in the same place for three hours (try looking like a classy, elegant woman when all you want to do is scream and cry and yell… it all comes out in a garbled screech-crying-laughter). All in a matter of a few short weeks. (This is only ironic because I am not exactly a clumsy person or someone who likes to be out of control).

But through this couple week silence-excursion, I’ve learned that people constantly surprise you; that the most backwards way of handling things is to reserve the best for the people we’re trying to make an impression on, when I think we need to reserve our best for the people we love the most. I’ve also learned that, contrary to what procrastination may dictate, the state of my e-mail and facebook are proof-positive that I do not need to be on the computer very often, not that many people e-mail or ‘fb’ me all day long so there’s no need to be on it that much. As I make moments of silence, that’s when God creeps in and reminds me to trust him and trust my instincts and heart, I’ve had four or five occasions recently that reminded me that trusting people and trusting my worth, albeit being hard, is the greatest service to myself I can give. I feel like I am constantly being reminded to believe the best in people and trust them at their word, but we’re from such a broken and fallen world, it’s hard to remember sometimes that there still are truly honest, integral, humble, real, beautiful, positive people out there and I need to immerse myself in that truth and own that belief. Finally, spontaneity is key. Key. I need that.

My favourite current ways to disrupt this silence are with music (Dave Matthews concert in WA  this summer anyone?), playing basketball at the rivercourt or playing catch, the lagoon, cooking and dreaming of food (Jes and Marli, I truly am a Stam girl now… L made a comment on how often food is a topic!), phone calls and family love or visits from friends, new friends, learning about my heart, and simply being present in the lives of the overly-specially-wonderful family I live with.

This silence thing has disrupted and changed my routine. Usually before I go to bed I read or turn on the TV (which is set to turn off 20 mins later, since I know I will fall asleep). Now I just go to bed, and if something is on my heart or in my head, then I concentrate on that. It’s funny how now that I’ve been praying for calm and silence, how that’s infiltrating the other areas of my life. I have been affirmed recently by people saying “Kate, you’re so…” or “… is my favourite part about you, Kater!” and what’s funny is those things he/she affirmed in me have been ambitions and character traits that I’ve been actively trying to achieve in the last few years. But it’s been in the silence that I’ve really made certain things more important. Like hearing good things about myself, owning them, and not in vain or conceit, just hearing it is something I am not good at.

Do you ever find that the hardest things to hear are criticisms or insights from the people that matter to you the most? I say embrace it. Because as much as I’ve felt affirmed lately, I’ve also felt shaken and I don’t think it’s safe to ever be fully comfortable that there’s no room for improvement. The key to understanding that some things, when said in love and respect, are the greatest lessons to learn. But neither can you expect to take wisdom from people who haven’t earned your respect and vice versa. I think it is a privilege to share my heart with someone and have it heard, but I also understand that sometimes, people will not be as receptive as you may want, and that’s okay.

I guess what I am finding with silence in my heart and head is that there is so much more room now to pay attention to those and things around me that deserve it. In those moments of the day, however short they may be, that I devote to just sitting down to wait or listen, I am able to edit out of my head and heart the things that truly don’t matter or make sense or I don’t want in there. It’s kind of like a character-building heart-humbling exercise. And having God speak into those moments is just an added bonus, I know he’s doing something with me, he can just be pretty evasive when I ask specifically what that is.

Oh well. I like this season… actually, I love this current season of my life.  If anything, calm and quiet is helping me deal with the relative Kater-life-chaos with a bit more grace and honesty than before, except when my legs were not moving — I didn’t think I handled that in the most progressive-Kate fashion. I guess I can’t always be a hero. I wish we got that on video so I could share it with you.

Take some time to enjoy the silence. It’s not as quiet as you may think.


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my thoughts for… your thoughts?

A couple weeks ago, Nathan spoke at CPC about relationships, specifically romance. Go here and click on the title for February 15/09, to hear this –it’s worth it. ANYWAYS.

The big thing Nate was trying to get across was that everyone can romance anything because we are romancing something, whatever that thing or person is, whenever we invest our time, our talent, and our treasure into an aspect of our lives; that is what we romance. This convicted me.

That’s all I’ve got. What are you investing your TIME, TALENT, and TREASURE in? You don’t have to share with me, but it might make you think twice before you spend those three important parts of who you are in that way. Or at least, what you’re romancing might shock you and might need a little renovation. And re focus. I might start a chapter for this on my blog, I just have to figure out how.

Cheers!