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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for fun

I wouldn’t normally post something like this butttt I asked for a garlic keeper for my birthday. Random, I know… but you know how those things are, one conversation leads to another – this one started as ‘Mom, Chrissy was telling me how an Asian bamboo veggie steamer could be used as storage for onions and garlic…probably because it breathes better than other containers, genius hey?’ to which my mom responded ‘Why don’t you just get a garlic keeper?’ Even more genius. My mom – ever the practical one. On Friday, my parents had a birthday ‘party’ for me; it was a month late but that was the fun part, delayed attention – no big deal. Ha ha. Anyway, mom gave me a garlic keeper to celebrate 26 years. The keeper is made out of pottery and thus an idea emerged that this could be a forever-sort of thing and the beginnings of my pottery collection! I don’t know about you, but my mom has a complete pottery collection of every piece imaginable and it is long since been a desire of mine to have a collection of my own.

So it was the gift of the beginning of a beautiful, pottery relationship. Or something.

The hardest, and I truly mean difficult and overwhelming, part is picking the design and style. I was surprised that I fell in love with the set I did, mainly because I tend to enjoy things matte instead of glossy… but here it is, my first pottery item (sitting on top of one of the custom made shelves – compliments of my Dad’s brilliant handiwork). It looks kind of like an urn but whatever, hopefully the pictures are ok:



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kingfisher

Rediscovering some poetry the last few days, here’s a favourite from Walt Whitman:

Halcyon Days

Not from successful love alone,

Nor wealth, nor honor’d middle age, nor victories of politics or war;

But as life wanes, and all the turbulent passions calm,

As gorgeous, vapory, silent hues cover the evening sky,

As softness, fulness, rest, suffuse the frame, like freshier, balmier air,

As the days take on a mellower light, and the apple at last hangs

really finish’d and indolent-ripe on the tree,

Then for the teeming quietest, happiest days of all!

The brooding and blissful halcyon days!

 

Years and years ago when I first read this poem, I figured I knew what halcyon meant, just based on the poem. Yesterday, the poem came to mind in the most random moment, as I was driving home from work. It was just before sunset and I was taking the long way home near my favourite ocean access. I stopped for a little while, just watching the water and being reminded of how awe-some and beautiful the ocean is when Whitman’s words weaved into the moment.

I came home and did some reading about the poem. Here’s the most interesting part:

Halcyon is a name for a bird of Greek legend which is commonly associated with the kingfisher. The phrase comes from the ancient belief that fourteen days of calm weather were to be expected around the winter solstice – usually 21st or 22nd of December in the Northern Hemisphere. as that was when the halcyon calmed the surface of the sea in order to brood her eggs on a floating nest.

Halcyon means calm and tranquil, or ‘happy or carefree’. It is rarely used now apart from in the expression halcyon days. The name of the legendary bird was actually alcyon, the ‘h’ was added in regard to the supposed association with the sea (‘hals’ in Greek).
What is so neat about this is that there is a lone kingfisher that lives at the lagoon. He was pointed out to me months ago and I find myself looking for him every time I am in the area. Last night, I forgot about the kingfisher until I was getting back into my car and I took one last glance at the water, and the kingfisher flew right across the water, about a hundred feet away. The only bird out at that moment and it was beautiful. Breathtaking even.

And the simple thought that this poem reflects how things are going right now, it’s nice to have some things falling into place right now. Not everything, but some things. I’d like to believe it’s reward for being patient and not crying or yelling every day. But who knows, either way…I kinda like it, these halcyon days. And the kingfisher and all it represents.


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grateful

I have been feeling convicted lately. Partially because I am overwhelmed by how selfish being on practicum is (and trying to find the balance in that). The other part is feeling convicted by thankfulness. I was in church yesterday, fixating on how easy it is to say thank you but wondering how often I actually stop and think about how truly grateful I am. It is so simple to live abundantly with the grace and peace of knowing I’ve got many people and things to appreciate; many people and things that take care of me. But I don’t think very hard about it and what it actually means to me. Perhaps, dare I say it, I even take it for granted? I need to start thinking about where the food I eat comes from (and I don’t only mean the hands who prepare it) or where the leaves, that turn their vibrant shades at this time of year, fall from (and subsequently, make my heart a little more full). I was encouraging my students recently to question “why” when they were writing their essays and reading response journals. As I said “Don’t just write it for the sake of writing something down, explain it so I know you’ve questioned why and made some sort of connection…” that little, aha!/hypocritical, voice danced its way into the tapestry of my heart as this Thanksgiving was nearing ever-so-close: just like in an English paper, saying thank you and being grateful is one thing, but understanding and being able to explain why shows that I am not just saying thanks because I know I should but because I have thought about it enough to know just how meaningful my blessings are. I am human, I mess up a lot and am aware of my many faults, whether pointed out to me by others or not, but if there is one thing that I know myself I want to get better at is not taking for granted the parts of my life that are gifts. By gifts I mean the things that I don’t deserve. And that basically means everything.

I want to love deeper because I know how fragile life can be. I want to understand thoroughly because I am learning how much there is that I do not know. I want to apologize and forgive unconditionally because that means I care enough to move beyond. I want to love myself a little more everyday so that I can love others more wholly. And this Thanksgiving, I want to be especially thankful for the things in my life that I cannot control because no one is forcing them to be here, and yet they are anyway.

to parents ~ who love unconditionally
to siblings ~ who understand grace
to weston ~ who grounds me, life at 25 should be just as exciting as life at 11 months
to family ~ where there is a place to fall into; who make chaos oddly calm me down
to best friends ~ who make it easy to just be; to who my soul craves without realizing it until they are around
to new friends ~ who make me wonder where I was without you; from who I am learning the quiet strength of time can mean nothing… or everything?
to far away friends ~ who I never forget, but tend to ignore
to high school students ~ who captivate me, inspire me, frustrate me, and make me laugh
to sharing a ride; to phone calls ~ where sharing an experience is almost as important as the experience itself
to mentors ~ who challenge me and in turn, keep me humble
to the world around me ~ who I continually benefit from yet I don’t notice often enough
to the place I call home ~ where I forgot how much I missed it and all of you
to my health ~ kidney stones or not, I am blessed
to my dream ~ for coming true and keeping me busy for 6+ years
to people in customer service ~ who I value for impromptu conversation and smiles
to music, to books, to writing, to long drives, to the Lagoon ~ that remind me to appreciate simple quiet
to hope ~ that I catch hold of when I get anxious for the things I cannot control
to beach fires and large mugs of tea ~ things that have come to depend on
to God ~ for entrusting me with these

Happy Thanksgiving.


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made with love…

I would like to acknowledge the following people for making the, well…following, photographs possible (or what is inside them):

Dad – for telling me they taste JUST LIKE MOM’s a couple years ago, making me persevere to make them again and again. YES.

Chrissy – for the generous lending of your cooling racks — for the very first time I made biberli not using an extra oven rack or overturned dish drying rack. Trav you get thanked just for your association with Chrissy. And your commentary to my life.

Ky – for you generous donation of icing sugar. I needed more BUT yours got me through round one 3 days ago.

Tim – the guy I work with and his honey bees — the honey he gave me this summer was exactly what I needed for these cookies.

Megan – for being the very first person I made biberli with, I think I’ve come a long way since then.

My Nana – for her legacy of incomparable Christmas cookie recipes.

My landlords — God bless them for the smells they have to put up with wafting through the vents.

Jes — for your patience over my questions over the years, I think this year I might’ve done it solely on my own? Wait, I did ask how long the dough could sit out I think — it’s tough to make these in one sitting!

Luke – for being my biggest fan and favourite ‘critic’… insisting it’s not enough to fairly judge by trying just one.

My dear Mom — whose heart probably broke when her second daughter did nothing but sit around and watch all of the Christmas baking being done… little did she know my baby blues were suffocating my brain with every last detail for making the softest, sweetest, most deliciously golden brown and delightful Christmas cookie the world will ever have the privilege of recognizing. To you mom, I tip my hat.

SUCCESS, friends…SUCCESS!


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christmas music

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Is it that time already? JUST ABOUT. I love Christmas music but I am pretty selective about my tastes. I own probably 20 odd Christmas albums but I find myself repeating the same few over and over and over again. And now that I’ve recently learned (yes, I am behind the times) about torrent downloading, I’ve been able to track down some pretty classic Christmas music. That’s neither here nor there, as I try best I can to pay for music and support artists, my current fleet of Christmas music genius (including but not limited to) are the following albums and songs, # 1 on the list being my all time favourite. Please, get with me in the season and post a comment with your own favourite Christmas music/songs… I could always use some more:

1. Sarah McLachlan’s “Wintersong” album. My. Favourite.

2. Paul Brandt’s “A Gift” album.

3. “Christmas Song” by Dave Matthews Band (This song has so many glorious Christmas memories from Calgary for me, it gives me chills every time I listen to it.)

4. “Maybe this Christmas” by Ron Sexsmith (First heard on The O.C.)

5. Boney M’s “Christmas Album” album.

6. “Baby it’s Cold Outside” by Bing Crosby (I think that’s the best version? Leanne?)

7. Garth Brooks’ “The Magic of Christmas” album.

8. Casting Crowns’ “Peace on Earth” album.

9. “12 Days of Christmas” carol as sang by my DAD.

10. City on a Hill’s “It’s Christmastime” album…most noteable: “Manger Throne” by Third Day. (This cd stirs my heart and my desire for snow, hot chocolate, and a fireplace).

11. Sheree Plett and Eisenhauer’s “Lights Used to Shine” album.

12. Jewel’s “Joy: A Holiday Collection” disc.

Also, apparently Chris Tomlin has a new Christmas cd out so that might be a dream come true… who knows. Anyways, give me some stuff to add to my library… yes!

snowflake


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stocking up

Perks of home — spending two weeks back in Penticton made it the perfect time to pick up the “necessities” that I deem crucial to my quality of life:

Cherry Hill COFFEE

Cherry Hill COFFEE

This is not crucial but it is delicious:

Naramata Nut Brown

Naramata Nut Brown

Along with the salsa mom and I made, I also loaded up on her homemade apple chips which I can’t post a picture because I ate them already.

On a sidenote digression, a number of years ago I had a little Christmas baking day where my dear friend Leanne brought me a Christmas cactus (who since has gone by “Curtis the Cactus”). Leanne told me that these plants are supposed to bloom at Christmastime and some times Eastertime so every year I have waited for flowers off of Curtis to no avail. When I moved to Victoria, I consulted my personal plant expert Chrissy on how to essentially force Curtis to grow and bloom. Even though she gave me stellar advice (some of which I still haven’t taken), my dang Cactus remained flowerless that Christmas and Easter and subsequently the Christmas and Easter the next year.

I left Curtis with my ma when I came back to Victoria this fall under strict instructions to baby the little guy. I wondered if maybe the climates of stagnant, frozen, bitter Calgary or wet, humid, mild Victoria were hindering the little guys’ progression. Then, lo and behold, I went home at Thanksgiving and this is what I saw:

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Moral of my story? Two things: Curtis is not a feminine-enough name for all that pink. Second, my mom is a rockstar.

Cheers!


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ordinary miracle – sarah mclachlan

It’s not that usual when everything is beautiful
It’s just another ordinary miracle today

The sky knows when its time to snow
You don’t need to teach a seed to grow
It’s just another ordinary miracle today

Life is like a gift they say
Wrapped up for you everyday
Open up and find a way
To give some of your own

Isn’t it remarkable?
Like every time a raindrop falls
It’s just another ordinary miracle today

Birds in winter have their fling
And always make it home by spring
It’s just another ordinary miracle today

When you wake up everyday
Please don’t throw your dreams away
Hold them close to your heart
Cause we are all a part
Of the ordinary miracle

Ordinary miracle
Do you want to see a miracle?

Its seems so exceptional
Things just work out after all
It’s just another ordinary miracle today

The sun comes up and shines so bright
It disappears again at night
It’s just another ordinary miracle today

It’s just another ordinary miracle today