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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perfect pairing [and instagram]

So yesterday was a big day, some pretty interesting things happened — more on that in a post to come. While I had my own things happening, it was a big day for my great friend Luke too. There probably won’t be more on that later, but yesterday was the day where individual circumstances regarding our careers officially made us adults. Anyway. Talk about being cryptic,  but a little elusiveness never hurt anyone so let me enjoy this for a few moments.

We decided to celebrate a little bit.  One of my favourite places in the city is Ferris’ Oyster Bar. I’ve never had fresh oysters before moving to the Island and it’s a treat that I will miss if and when I leave.  There is nothing like a freshly ‘shucked’ oyster with fresh horseradish, tobasco, and seafood sauce…and a glass of wine. I thought so, anyway.

When I [briefly] worked for Starbucks last summer, I learned about perfect pairings. The whole point was that there were specific coffees that complimented certain baked goods that they sold. Part of the training was to develop a sense of what item to recommend to a customer, depending on what drink they ordered. For example, ordering an Americano with a shot of caramel in it? Why don’t you try a chocolate covered pretzel? (I am not sure if that’s considered a complimentary relationship, I just thought of two things available there). The point is, I never really understood this. Every time they quizzed me on this, or I tried a coffee with it’s baked buddy, I didn’t really get why they were meant to be. Sure, they tasted good together but I definitely didn’t have the palate that got it. I definitely did not generate much revenue due to this type of “upselling” but I think I was more frustrated that I honestly could not tell what difference a macchiatto and a fudge bar relationship or a macchiatto and a vanilla scone pair made.

Until yesterday, there have been three perfect pairings (in cuisine) that I’ve come across. Well, four if you count sushi and chicken wings. They are:

1. Red wine and chocolate. It’s true, ‘they’ are right. Although I don’t know what it is that makes them meld, I do know that a glass of Wolf Blass 2007 Shiraz with a dark chocolate truffle is just delightful.

2. An Espresso shot poured over vanilla ice cream. Heaven surely has this ready made for us, it’s unreal.

3. Pear and parmesan. I was introduced to this a few months back, it’s a classic and brilliant dessert in Scott’s house, served with red wine after dinner. I don’t know if it’s the actual eating of pear and slices of parmesan cheese, which is delicious, but the process, to me,  that is perfect — where the cutting board with pears and cheese is passed around so that every time one pear is finished, another person gets to cut one to share. It’s relaxing, it’s social, begging great conversation… and it’s interesting to see how people cut the fruit differently (I don’t know if  the  others or Scott enjoy this aspect, but I do).

Aside from tasting good together, when I met perfect pairing number 4 (or 5, again – sushi and chicken wings) last night, for the very, very first time I have actually been able to taste when two things go together in a seeming love affair in your mouth: oysters and martinis (the real kind). I’ve had dirty martinis before but have never grown accustomed to the taste. They are straight alcohol and while I appreciate the absence of the sweetness from other variations of the cocktail, the strong taste of the alcohols is difficult for me to enjoy. Like my experience with cilantro, I figure I will develop a taste for martinis and the  hint of olive juice upon drinking them more often. I don’t drink much so this is inconsequential or probably never going to happen anyway, I just think it looks cool to go for a drink and order a martini. Except they’re gross.

Until last night. Back to our celebration. After we ate dinner, we went across the street to Ferris’ to have a martini – Luke wanting me to attempt to love it again. I had a few sips and like every other time, my throat burned and chilly shudders went through my body. However,  since we were at the oyster bar, we needed to order some. After eating my first oyster,  I took a drink of my martini and my palate- life changed. It was incredible how much I enjoyed that. It still tasted like the 100% alcohol it is but with the lingering taste of horseradish and seafood sauce, the drink went from shudder worthy to smooth and oh-so delicious. It was amazing, I’ve never experienced that before — a noticeable  sentiment between two flavours (yes, I know that they don’t have feelings, it was just so fascinating). In the other sense, the oysters tasted much better with the hint of vodka and olives. While I definitely do not plan to get in the habit of this delicacy,  last night I experienced, for real, a perfect pairing. It was really neat.

Stop laughing at me.

Another perfect pairing? My iPhone 4 and the Instagram App. Enjoy these photos:


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lent status update

So I am three weeks in. If you’ve forgotten – I gave up foundation (really, any type of powder, concealer, whatever) makeup and desserts.

Anyway. The make up has been awesome, rather – the lack of. I feel so good, I have not put ANYTHING on my face, save for mascara, in over three weeks. The first week was really rough, my skin went through a kind of detox so I had a lot of red splotches and breaking out a bit around my jaw. I figured that was minor pay back for covering it up for so many years (12 years, give or take). But now,  my skin is really evening out and it feels better than it ever has.  It’s funny, I never actually had bad skin to begin with so I am now wondering why I ever started wearing any makeup whatsoever. OH well. And at the recommendation of a friend, I’ve picked up a new moisturizer, the best one I’ve ever used (Dormer 211 — buy it) and that is making this whole fast thing awesome — at this rate, I have no plans to wear make up after this. Thanks Jes for the challenge. I think everyone should do this. I thought I’d see a direct correlation between clean and clear foundation-less skin and not eating desserts but I’d proven science and pore cleansing commercials, speaking about eating right for healthy skin, wrong becccccauuuseee….

I cheated on my dessert sacrifice about 5 days in. Let me explain. I don’t actually know why I gave up dessert to begin with. It’s not a crutch for me and it’s not something I have often enough to even notice if I don’t have it. As I thought about it more, I theorize that I only gave it up because Chrissy didn’t believe she has what it takes to give up something she’s passionate about (ice cream, graham crackers, chocolate, and bananas — yes, altogether. Amazing). So I guess when she suggested I give up dessert, it was actually so she could live vicariously through me and feel as though she is doing the fasting in her own small way. Maybe?

Not really, but I still don’t know why I gave it up. My dessert count it up to this:

1. sex in a pan (Sunday – 5 days in to lent)
2. sex in a pan leftovers (Monday – 6 days in to lent)
3. three bowls of ice cream at various times post-first cheat
4. Frozen yogurt with my almost-due preggo friend Rebecca (5 days ago)… we had to, she was craving! (I was craving? :))
5, Joy the Baker’s Butterscotch Pudding with Carmelized Bananas and Cream (2 nights ago)

PS Joy the Baker has changed my life. Anyway.

6. A piece of Connor’s birthday cake (yesterday)

Don’t ever say I am not accountable to my actions. And now that I’ve completed that list, it’s safe to say that three weeks in, I am officially giving up dessert for an extended-lent, possibly into my 26th year. I really don’t have  it often, I blame it on being influenced of those around me. So either the people or the dessert has to go. Bye bye deliciousness, here goes.

EXCEPT if I want frozen yogurt. Or Joy the [rockstar] Baker‘s grapefruit scones. Unreal. Lifechanging. Breakfast transforming. Amazing. Period.
Cheers!


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hear ye!

So here’s a good one. I’ve been learning a lot lately. Most of it is comprised of patience mixed with perseverance and a little dash of unexpected and sprinkled with exhaustion and boredom all with a hint of awesome as I’ve been trying to sort things out over the past two months. Well, I am certain it is all going to be okay and work out as my ma always says — I got a part time job at the learning centre here working with younger kids on their reading and writing in the post-school hours and on weekends.  Perfect. And just days after I got that job, I found out that I am officially on the supply list for one of the school districts here…that’s right, I am a teacher on call! Tell your friends. Actually don’t, but it is pretty cool and I am very excited to hopefully start getting some calls! I’ve never been on call for anything, except for during my job hunt where I’ve constantly waited by the phone for someone to potentially give me a job. Maybe the last two months have been training me for the nature of the position. Who knows. Any words of advice? I feel like I need to start showering at night so I can be ready at the drop of a hat (or if they call me at 7 am). I’m also a little nervous…as a TOC, I can be called in to any school, any grade in my district. I have no idea what to do with younger kids, especially x30. Go to games? Books? Activities? Help? Overwhelming.  For example, Victoria is in the middle of a freak snow storm right now. Chrissy says it’s approximately 6 inches worth of the white stuff out there. Naturally, we went outside to play and while I was putting on Eli’s snowsuit, etc, I all of a sudden had this flash of  “Oh no, can you imagine teaching kindergarten and having to do this for 25 odd kids? Punch me.” Anyway, for those of you on Vancouver Island, you can appreciate how much of a set back snow can be. I grew up in the north but I’ve definitely acclimatized to the west coast (read: am not outfitted — neither in body or vehicle — for these conditions). The rest of you can judge or laugh all you want about the wimps that are island dwellers, but I don’t care. There are several morals to this story:

1. If the snow keeps up, I am refusing all calls to come teach anything grade 3 and lower. That takes a special person that I am not.

2. I don’t think I am ready to have children quite yet if I am already losing sleep over thinking about the production that is getting them ready for the outdoors.

3. It’s time to sell Bella.

4. 6 inches is a lot of snow for here, it totally ruined my plans. And there is no point shovelling when you finish the driveway only to have to start again.

5. I have work. I get to teach. I am so excited!

 

Cheers!

 


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immensity

Immensity –> vastness, enormous extent; immeasurable, boundless.

I don’t know how I could come out of this unchanged — don’t ever believe someone who says that you can’t make a difference in two months. I’ve seen evidence of this, I carry it as truth. It also scares the hell out of me.

Ever feel like you’re playing witness to a situation or life from the outside? That’s the only way I can describe this confusing, can’t-quite-place-it, where am I, feeling of today: like I just spent two months as an outsider looking in on my own experience that I am now trying to comment on.

Really? Did that all just happen? The extreme is a bit audacious — one minute there are 93 students depending on me, the next morning there are none. It’s a fragile, life altering thing — teaching.

From day one, I felt set up for failure. There were stumbling blocks in my path coming every which way. Some I shared, and some I tucked into the crevasses of my heart — embarrassed and humbled and terrified that I just may not be able to do this. My first practicum was easy in comparison. I knew for months in advance what I was teaching, where I was going, how to work the photocopier, how to log onto the computers. This time? I knew for two weeks what I was teaching and did not have a computer log on until the second month. I felt like a yard sale on the first day, I simply had to trust that things would work out how they were supposed to — it’s the only thing I could semi-control.

But, like anything new, I learned more than I anticipated and was challenged the whole way through. I learned that what I cannot tolerate, I REALLY cannot tolerate… and thus, once in awhile heard a booming, stern voice coming from me even though I couldn’t recognize where the passion came from… this shocked me, and found me in the bathroom on a couple of occasions with tears! I didn’t know what I couldn’t handle until there I was, trying to handle it! Bullying each other and talking while others were speaking were the biggest ones — I felt my shoulders and neck muscles seizing every time one of my students was belittled, degraded, or ignored by his own peer. That is totally lost on me — how could they dare treat one another like that? The coolest part of my practicum was seeing this dissipate as my lack of tolerance for this behaviour and their trust in me made it okay to stop being cruel; to stop talking out of turn. There were good days and bad days but it was pretty powerful to witness progress…both academically and socially. Those kids were getting it and suddenly, the responsibility for themselves and eachother was quietly becoming their own.

Ask anyone and they’ll say they were blessed with the coolest kids. I would argue mine were better. 🙂 The demographic where I was opened my eyes to a truth that I’ve long since ignored — not everyone has parents like mine or families or homes or simple love. Slowly, but deliberately, my cozy haven of a world unraveled as I guided my classes into a collaborative, safe environment where they could share their truths — and some of those were really difficult to hear. I thrive on human connection and the weeks passed by with me not being able to leave the classroom at lunch because kids were forever stopping in to share. I wouldn’t say I am the most gifted teacher, I would argue anyone that would say I am any good… but I think my gifting and heart made the connections easy to form, yet how in the world do I walk away from them? Or do it, authentically, over and over again?

English was easy, social studies was hard. My teacher mentor for social studies fell ill and was unable to mentor me so I was teaching social studies 11 on my own, no guidance or insights into whether I was doing it “right” or not. It was an awkward, unfulfilled challenge — I felt like I was failing all over the place with no one to step in an catch me when I needed it. But someone trusted me and somehow, that was justified as ability. I couldn’t do it, could I? Immense.

Something else that mattered more that I thought it would was that I was not alone. My first practicum, as the only student teacher out there, my world felt so huge and full but some days were difficult to be motivated and confident in my ideas or concerns because I had no one to share them with. When I found out that Scott and I were placed at the same school, I think a few high fives were exchanged. Yet as the weeks progressed this fall, the privilege of teaching out there went beyond the kids and my practice but going through it with a good friend. I felt unworthy of the support, the drives along that windy road were shorter and shorter as having someone to share the experience with became a lifeline. It was hard and challenging…but I was inspired by Scott’s honesty and perseverance, especially when I felt like emotion and exhaustion were getting the better of me. I’m just glad it was him. Period. It was simply a privilege, having someone else to talk to, to listen to, to look forward to, who knew when things weren’t right, to care and share lunch with and remind me of my own truths when it all seemed to be too much; when it felt like I really was this outsider playing witness to something immense.

And then, having the rest of those I care about so close — it was really nice to teach “alongside” some of my favourite pre-service teachers…not in the same school, but being in the same city this time made hugs and conversations and Saturday morning visits and Friday nights to connect become a real dependency to know that everything would be okay. ‘Cause sometimes? It really felt like it wasn’t.

I am not quite sure what else I feel. I want that perfect song or right poem or rich cup of coffee that I can use to be a stand-in, something tangible, for an experience I have yet to grasp or really understand. All that I am sure of is that I am playing a role in something much, much bigger than myself and that in itself adds an element of grace to my life.

Feeling? Blessed. Tired. Exhausted. Sick. Thrilled. Inspired. Inferior. Old. Worthy. Unworthy. Stretched. Unsure. Able. Overwhelmed.

Grateful. I am feeling grateful. I learned so much. 2 months made a difference; all the difference in the world.

 

 

I am a teacher now. The immensity of that statement does little to understate my experience. It’s kinda cool though.

 

What now? “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” ~Gilda Radner

 

Cheers.

 

 




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six in six

Finished six weeks of practicum so far, starting the seventh in about 2.5 hours and I’ve learned six things that I plan to elaborate on:

1. Being firm is difficult — I scare myself sometimes and have made myself cry (not in front of the kids, but later).

2. Support is invaluable; friend(s)/mentors who understand exactly what I am going through is an understated blessing.

3. I teach and lecture using my hands a lot.

4. There’s a balance between being selfless and selfish that I’m close to understanding — I am learning to care without getting emotional.

5. Sometimes being constantly challenged is not healthy (or so it feels, as I can barely keep my eyes open and it’s only Monday).

6. There is nothing cooler than adolescent youth.

 

… did I just say that?

 

Cheers!


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here i go again

Tomorrow it starts all over again. However, this time I am teaching 2 English 10s instead of 1 English 11, Julius Caesar instead of Macbeth, Social Studies 11 instead of SS 9, I’m one of four pre-service teachers instead of the only one, have a fall wardrobe instead of a summer one, and driving 25 mins NW instead of 25 mins NE (just kidding, I don’t know the direction but the commute is the same). I am unprepared currently — tomorrow is a Pro-D day and we get to go to a seminar instead… but it’ll come. I am much more relaxed this time around. Doesn’t mean it won’t be overwhelming and daunting and tiring but the actual ‘unknown’ isn’t as worrisome as it was once before. I’ve been waiting for this forever so I am excited. I also hope it doesn’t go SO fast that I don’t have time to process it. I am thrilled that Scott will be there, teaching bio and physics right downstairs from me… so if you think of me, think of him and hope for some greatness/success/patience/resilience to come our way!

It’s so close now, the end, I am so excited for the next couple months… if it’s even a fraction of as incredible the first practicum was, I am going to be blown away!

Any wisdom or advice for me/us? I would love to hear your thoughts… what was the best part of your high school experience…or the best part about your favourite teacher?

Cheers!


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twenty-five

Without much pomp and/or circumstance, I turned 25 yesterday. After a morning run where I ran into the rear of a deer, I opened a parcel from my family that has been sitting (unopened — are you surprised?) here since Wednesday, I spent the late morning hanging out with this cutie and his rad parents:

Eli

They took me to a market in Oak Bay and for an awesome sushi lunch. Perfect.

The afternoon consisted of fielding and enjoying the telephone calls from my overly awesome family and friends who just keep meaning more and more to me as my 24 years swiftly gave way to 25. From there I just hung around before the beach fire we had last night to celebrate the day. There is something about an evening that starts with the sunset and ocean waves crashing and people like this:

Celine

who is giving this look to:

Darcy

all the while stories are getting shared around the fire between me and these three:

Mark, Alison, Scott

I think Scott was talking about coaching football, passion accentuated by aggressive hand waving. And then, nights get better and better when seeing people I haven’t for awhile, like this guy:

Mao (with Carly behind)

all the while this is going on:

When these two showed up, after celebrating a Dad who shares the same special day with me:

Paul and Kristen

And I could never forget this one:

Celine and Glenn

And just a couple more so you get the point — great people and fantastic moments make these times, the best times:

Because when smiles like these:

lead to a grin like this:

and everyone is sitting there like this:

what does the evening end with, you ask? Well, stars instead of sun, high tide instead of low, and a little something like this:

It was a great day. 25 is going to be brilliant, just you wait.

Cheers!


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some summer snaps

Here’s some pictures from the K.C.S.O.U. (kate’s current summer of unemployment) thus far. Noteable moments so far? Countless beach fires, time with family, school ending, and getting a sun burn on the right side of my body yesterday while playing Scrabble at the lagoon (yes, only my right face cheek, arm, leg, and chest… so weird).

These pictures are from UVic’s summer institute (so my June school) when we went to the high ropes course up in Shawnigan, Josh’s wedding, a couple beach fires, and yes, more fishing excursions. Hopefully the captions work and tell you what’s up.

Anyway… enjoy!

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