Friday, February 29, 2008

This Just In! Leap Day Not Sadie Hawkins Day!

Someone said that today, Leap Day, is also Sadie Hawkins day. This is not actually true. Actually, Sadie Hawkins day is in November, most traditionally, and it originated with a girl whose father organized races where the girls chased the boys through the town and got to "keep" a boy, if they caught him.

Leap Day is LIKE Sadie Hawkins day, only more so. The tradition is that Queen Margaret of Scotland decreed that on Leap Day, women could ask men to marry them. Indeed, if a man said no, he had to pay a penalty of one pound or a pair of gloves or a silk dress...depending on his station. Women, however, had to give fair notice of their intent by wearing a red petticoat. If the woman did not display at least a corner of the red petticoat before asking, the man did not have to pay the penalty. He also didn't have to pay if he was already engaged.

Although this was not an actual law, it is a pretty established tradition. You can find postcards & such celebrating the fact - picturing Victorian women asking fathers for their son's hand in marriage, etc.

These fun facts are brought to you by the "Hannah was bored at her job today" committee, bringing useless but timely information to slightly interested people since 9AM this morning.

This is a test

This is a test, this is only a test.  Do not be alarmed.  Ignore any Daleks you might see.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why can't every day...

Oh, it’s been one of those days

When You walk with me

So close I think

I caught the scent of angels’ wings

And my, oh my unsuspecting heart

Leaps from its place

Begins to race

I finally found the place I never want to leave, oh...

Why can’t every day, why can’t every day

Why can’t every day, can’t every day

Be like today

Oh, why do the good days end

Makes me wonder now

With the way I feel

If yesterday was even real

And why, oh why do You seem so far away

Could it be that I’ve gone too far this time

And can I make You change Your mind, oh...

Why should any day, why should any day

Why should any day, should any day

Be like today

Do I wallow in my insecurities?

Do I trust what my feelings are tellin’ me?

Or do I rest in the promise You made me

That You’ll never leave?

Oh, today my heart believes

That the truth remains

You never change

Your love for me is still the same, oh...

Why can’t every day, why can’t every day

Why can’t every day, can’t every day

Be like today

Well, it's about 15 mi
nutes 'til 1AM, so I suppose that the real question here is: "Why can't every day be like yesterday?" But, this Chris Rice song is running through my head, not so much because I really felt like I walked with God today...some days are just magical that way, and some days are more relaxed and casual. Today was a relaxed, casual kind of day. But, I guess, the real thing is the dichotomy I find myself in regarding how my life goes through its paces.

Yes, I'm talking about temping again here. I guess, the real thing that's got me in a tizzy at the moment is that today I remembered what I really, really want to do with my life. I want to be a full time wife, with maybe a part time job - but not really a lot more. And, of course, at the moment, we can't afford for me to stay around the house and clean and cook fun interesting dinners for Scott and do the taxes and stuff. Because Scott is out getting his degree, not earning money but pursuing his passion so that he can earn the living that will eventually support this lifestyle I desire.

And I think about wh
at I would be doing if I hadn't gotten married. I'd probably be somewhere in Texas, pursuing my own degree or career, living my own life by myself. In some ways, that would be easier. But it would also be lonelier. I guess it is just harder to value the life I have when at times I feel so discontented. The lack of a pattern, the lack of regularity, its not good for me. I need a life that has stability in it, a center I can cling to when everything else is crazy. This is what allows me to BE crazy - to have that stable center. And right now, it feels like nothing is stable, nothing is certain. I don't know what is going on with me, what will be going on with me. Nothing is in my control. Nothing is even in the control of people I know or trust. It's all up to these strangers, these people who choose which students are worthy and which aren't. And I feel so up in the air. Like I'm being juggled...just like a gosling.

What? Some people juggle geese!

And, I can hear you now, mother mine, very clearly indeed. This is just where I need to be, just where God has put me so I can depend on him. Only, really, depending on God isn't as easy as it all sounds. Especially when you're forced into a corner where dependence is the only choice. I prefer to choose to depend and then depend. To take that "step of faith" or whatever. But instead I've been pushed. And I'm free falling. And I just want to land somewhere safe. But instead, here I am, taking three precious "days of rest" where I say to my temp agency "no 1 day assignments" and I really mean it. Even when they call me and ask me with a pretty please. I mean it for reals. Because I need SOME sort of stability in my life...and a job is so much of life, when you have one. Scott has his school, and I need something stable.

So, right now, I'm going to pray. For stability. That, God will give me a peace that completely and totally surpasses understanding. And I've prayed for this peace before, and I do believe it exists. But I don't know if I've ever needed it so badly or thought it more unlikely than I do this week.

There's another song that goes "All I really need is a song in my heart, food in my belly and love in my family." I have to add, especially in Canada, a roof over my head. But I wish I could have those things and stability too. Because right now I'm just following the goslings as we fly through the air. One after another. Only more random. Come to think of it - I'm jealous of the goslings! At least they have a pattern to their existence! I'm more like a hot potato or something.

God give me peace. Give me rest. Help me to sleep. And to wake up refreshed. Is this much to ask? I don't know. What I do know is that I need it - like I've needed not much else in my life ever before.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I like this picture

There is something powerful about this picture. It is a piece of art inspired by the work of one of my favorite authors (any guesses?) and I just love the strong sense of purpose in this young girls face. She has had a hard life, full of uncertainty, but now she has carved her place in the world and is comfortable with the path she has established. There are adventures in her future, but she will meet them head on, from a position of strength and purpose - mentally if nothing else.

Actually, I'm quite jealous of this girl, when it comes to it.

Ominous Hummmmm

I'm really, really, really starting to see a distinct bad thing in temping. Today I turned down a peach of a job for 2 reasons - 1) It was a 1 day job and 2) I was tired. Now, having spent some time in repose, attempting to not berate myself for avoiding this opportunity, I have come to a very telling realization about myself and temping.

You see - my father, who is a very wise man, once told me that many, many people slog their way through their days to pay the bills with jobs they hate - but that it is a very valuable thing to have a job you like, and worth much more than you might think. And he is right. The funny thing is, it took me this long to realize that I hate temping. Why? Because I don't hate the individual positions - that's why. Because I like the people I work for and the work I do. What I hate is the lack of regularity. I am a planner. But I cannot plan my days around my work. It irks me to no end!

So, I am left with a sinking sensation. And, unfortunately, no one but this here blog to talk to about it. Scott is off at class and my mom is teaching her class right now. I'm not sure if I feel better posting this or not - but just getting it out in sentences is helping. But, what am I to do?! I think I shall have to research the feasibility of that position for the ACU company after all. A steady job would probably be worth 1.5 hours commute each way. Probably. And, who knows, it might not be so long a journey. I know! I shall call the TTC! Hurrah for the ability to call the TTC!

With a plan of action comes a slightly lighter heart. Here's hoping.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Patience is for the birds! (And me)

Well, I don't expect to write during any other time today but right now (before I go to work) because when I get home from work I'll almost certainly be too tired and Scott will probably be on the computer. So now is the time to say what's on my mind.

I really, really wish I knew where we were going to be this next fall. We got our first letter from a school yesterday - a "no" from Wisconsin-Madison. Which is too bad because it would have been fun to live in the same town as Rachel. But then I understand that driving in Madison in winter is no fun. So I guess that's a plus. And they had a good library-science program, but it was expensive so I'd probably have waited until I'd lived the mandatory year or whatever to become a Wisconsin resident so it wouldn't be so bad.

Anyways, hearing back from only one school and a "no" at that is not the greatest. I know that I'm not supposed to get all anticipatory about hearing from schools yet - we shouldn't be really, not until March. But I just wish March would hurry up and get here and my life could be settled.

One reason I wish this is church - our church is really awesome and really going places. It is so exciting to hear how God is working in our church and through his people. I really kinda want to get involved! But if I end up leaving in August or June or something...then I leave a big blank place and in a church this small, that's not a good thing - probably more trouble than my helping would be help. I've talked with the pastor about it and he agrees with me - (at least I think he does...he was a little distracted at the time...but is usually able to carry on multiple conversations at a time, being a former lawyer and all that). So I wait. And pray. Perhaps this is what God is teaching me? Have patience?

Possible. Very possible.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sushi! And Sake! In Containers! For Valentines!

This is my valentine's present - isn't it romantical?! It will look much more betterer once I have placed sushi on the plates, soy sauce in the little sauce things and sake in the sake pitcher.

And now, my friends who read Japanese...I have a challenge for you! We got the blue and brown sake mugs because they worked so well with our color scheme - but what do they say?! I'd love to know! Tell me please!


Well, some of ya'll have probably been wondering what's been going on these last 2 weeks. Because the blogging, it hasn't been happening so much! Well, the answer for that is really pretty simple - I've been really busy. But then it gets complicated. See - during last week (not the week that is currently ending, but the one BEFORE it, which contained the official Valentine's day) - I was a little stumped as to what to write about. Not because I didn't have stuff to write about but because all the big things that were going on in my life were wrapped around a SECRET.

That secret was that Scott & I were headed down to Texas on Friday. Scott's brother got married on Saturday - and we were there! It was so odd - to be down in familiar territory without months and months of anticipation. I barely had 2 weeks to plan! But, in those two weeks, not only did I figure out all the wonderful things I could do on Friday, Saturday & Sunday with the Garbaczes, I also planned a surprise for my own family.

With the help of my clever Dad I managed to drive down to Abilene, knock on the front door and surprise a 7 second long scream out of my mother! It was truly awesome. Both she & MaryLynn had no clue whatsoever that we were coming down. We spent all day Monday and most of Tuesday together - and we had a blast! We played Settlers of Catan (for which we bought the expansion pack in the US...much less expensive than buying it here in Canada!) and we ate fried chicken. Mom made my favorite jello salad and it was tasty tasty! Then, all too soon, we had to drive back to Wichita Falls and then to Dallas in the morning with Ginger. A completely uneventful flight later - we were back in Toronto! Crazy times, no? If the trip sounds short - it WAS - and yet we did so much in those 5 days. I wouldn't take it back for the world.

So, to top off the whirly windness of the week - when I got home I had a message from my agency - and I had employment on both Thursday & Friday. Good for the bank account - but as the employment didn't allow blogging (there was time, the sites were just blocked) I was unable to fill ya'll in on my doings of the week.

So, there's the answer to why haven't I been blogging for the last 1.5 weeks. I have been very, very busy! But now, hopefully, things shall settle down a little and I shall return to my blogging ways.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Times, they are a-changin'

Well, I feel down right sheepish. No blog posting in so very, very long! And even now, I really have not much to say. It's Valentine's Day, but Scott & I are waiting 'til we're a little less stressed - right now there is much school going on. So we'll celebrate next week sometime - he has a reading week next week, so no going to school, just lots of reading here at home.

Super Mario Galaxy. It calls my name. But, even more, I know I need to chop veggies. Ah, the joys of wifely bliss. I take care of my hubby - because he takes care of me! YAY!

I had to say no to a job yesterday because I had a massive headache. In fact, just thinking about the headache now makes me remember what it was like and that's no fun! Why did I have a headache? Because of the poor priorities of the people who I was working for on Tuesday! There was this buzzing noise! And it went on and off at random intervals. For 7 hours. Hence: Headache.

Now I go chop veggies. Nom nom. That is all. So exciting, no? Maybe tomorrow I will get day-after-valentine's chocolates on sale. Tasty goodness! But what I really want is a cadbury creme egg. Now that's something I could really like!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Special thanks to Scott for pointing me towards this Praust Questionnaire. This is a Thing I Do When Bored. You may now share in the hopefully less than boring results.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
To let someone I love down

* Where would you like to live?
In a big, big house with all my family & friends! Barring that. Texas.

* What is your idea of earthly happiness?
A game night with all my family & friends, a delectible turtle chocolate cheesecake at my left hand, a Dr. Pepper at my right, Mom's lasagna wafting from the oven, cranberry jello salad available when I want it and veggies with french onion dip within reach. I likes the food! And the family and friends.

* To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
Uber-focussedness. I know several people who are really, really efficient, but they are also definite bears to deal with when they are being so efficient. I actually tend to like these people even when they're all focussed in and I like to help them because they always make you feel useful.

* Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Sam (Lord of the Rings), James Qwilleran ("The Cat Who..." series), Lord Peter Whimsey (Dorothy Sayers books), Ron Weasley (Harry Potter books), Grissom (CSI) Dr. Who (the Tom Baker Doctor & the latest Doctor) & Jean Tannen (Red Seas Under Red Skies).

* Who are your heroes in real life?
Scott Kemp, Scott Garbacz & Mike Holmes

* Who are your favorite heroes of history?
John Adams, C.S. Lewis & the authors of the Magna Carta

* Who are your favorite heroines of history?
Marie Curie, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots & Isabella of Spain

* Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
Linda Kemp, Ginger Garbacz, Christina Roberts & (don't laugh) Angelina Jolie

* Who are your favorite heroines of fiction? Alanna (of Tortall, who introduced me to the Strong Female Protagonist), Mary Russell (of the Mary Russell mysteries), Zifa (NCIS), Willow (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Tohru Honda (Fruits Basket) & Betty (of Ugly Betty).

* Your favorite painter?

* Your favorite musician?
the Killdares or Johnny Cash

* What is it you most dislike?

* What is it you most dislike in a woman?
False niceness

* What is it you most dislike in a man?
self-satisfied pride

* What is it you most dislike in a Christian?
Hypocrisy & denial

* What historical figures do you most despise?
Hitler & the people who followed him...especially those who took "initiative."

* The quality you most admire in a man?

* The quality you most admire in a woman?

* The quality you must admire in yourself?

* Your favorite virtue?

* Your favorite occupation?

* Your most marked characteristic?
my finger that looks like its burned but isn't.

* One thing that makes you very happy.
Spending time with my family & friends. Especially without hurrying.

* One thing that makes you sad.
Being lonely.

* What do you most value in your friends?
Stick-to-it-ness & innovativity

* What is your principle defect?
lack of self-confidence

* What is your dream of happiness?
To have all the time in the world, not be worried about money & live with good friends, near family.

* What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?
To have the ability to do good, but to turn away from it.

* What would you like to be?
Successfully Creative

* What are most afraid of?
Personal failure

* What is your favorite flower?
the Bluebonnet

* What is your favorite bird?
a Cardinal

* Who are your favorite prose writers?
For the prose? C.S. Lewis & Dorothy Sayers

* Who are your favorite poets?
Madeline L'Engle & Brian Jacques

* What are your favorite names? S
cott, Michael, Joeseph, Jade, Megan, Sarah & Elizabeth

* What event in military history do you most admire?
The persistence & loyalty of the British people when they thought they were losing the war.

* What reform do you most admire?
any Tax reform that makes things simpler without making them more expensive.

* What natural gift would you most like to possess?
athletic stamina & coordination

* How would you like to die?
Of old age, with my family, and at the same time as my husband.

* What is your present state of mind?
really annoyed at this buzzing sound that's going on and off at random in this office. No end in sight.

* What is your motto?
Live life like you mean it.

* What is your most-often used cuss word?

* What position do you sleep in?
on my side with a pillow between my knees and the wall to lean on.

* What is a recurring theme in your prayers?
Could Scott please get into the right school, preferably Notre Dame.

* What would you ask God if you had the chance to get an answer, straight from His lips, straightaway?
Where will I be living this next fall?

* How do you view Christianity today?
full of fallen, hopeless people who need the Jesus they think they have.

* How do you view art inside the Christian realm today?
few & far between

Monday, February 11, 2008

Too long oolong?!

Mmmm tea. I like tea. My love of tea started early. My mother has always stocked many, many different kinds of herbal tea, but since she is allergic to caffeine, it wasn't until last year that I discovered the many wonderful non-herbal teas that are out there. Thank you Trick! You totally introduced me to the terrific thing that is the "cup of tea" experience. This, followed by my jobs in Canada where tea is considered a terrific alternative to coffee, has led me to have my own wonderful tea drawer. You'll find the following in my third drawer down under the utensils:
Vanilla Chamomile
Peach Ginger
Orange Pekoe

Mmm mmm tea.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Living Inexpensively pt 2

Okay, looking back the first bit was more about the philosophy that allows me to live inexpensively than many actual practices. I shall now attempt to move on to the actual practices. Being practical & all, they might be a good idea.

1) Plan for tiredness. It is a good idea to have a few "easy prep" meals on hand most of the time. Our "easy" meal of choice is a frozen pizza. This is good for when everyone is exhausted but you really need a good meal.

2) Dress up your basics. You might think that canned beef ravioli is relatively bland and not that tasty. Of course it is, unless you add spices while you're cooking it. I use a basic "Italian Seasoning" mix and sometimes a little frozen garlic.

3) Speaking of frozen garlic - this is a great thing. You can buy garlic pre-peeled & in a packet in most chinese grocery stores. Just stick them in a bag in your freezer. Not only is the garlic easy to get at, it is also easier to cut & press when frozen.

4) Chinese grocery stores = less expensive produce. You may have to inspect your produce a little more closely, but you certainly can't beat the prices. I especially like to buy red bell peppers by the pound!

5) Fresh green beans, make a great alternative to chips when washed in cold water & put next to ranch dressing.

6) Want to eat the healthier whole wheat pasta but not able to afford it? Mix it in! Buy a small box of whole wheat pasta and do 1/4 whole wheat to 3/4 regular inexpensive pasta. As long as you buy the same shape, the cooking time is about the same. It adds interest to your pasta with different colors and you feel a little better about yourself.

7) Parmesan cheese. A little jar of the powdered parmesan goes a long, long way. Add it to your cheap pastas for the "livin' large" feel.

8) As you may be able to tell, Scott & I both love to cook. Cooking your own food at home is a great way to save money. If you have a significant other, share the tasks. Funnily enough, Scott would much rather wash dishes than chop onions & veggies. Me? I'd rather chop. Perfect division of labor!

9) Tired of staying at home doing nothing? Rearrange your furniture! Not only will you have a great opportunity to clean, but you'll also have a new feeling space.

10) Find out what things your city is doing for free. Is it free to go to the local museum every Thursday evening (Grace in Abilene)? Does your local library give interesting and informative programs on everything from origami to travel? Does your local library let you BORROW non-book things, like passes to the local museums? (Toronto Public Library) You're living here, paying taxes...take advantage!

11) Want to travel? Try couch surfing! Find a free place to stay near you. Offer your couch to passers by. This is a great way to meet interesting people from all countries & walks of life!

12) Are you using rechargeable batteries for everything possible? I don't follow this one as closely as I should. But I think it's a good idea. Especially when you can buy item specific batteries (I just bought the rechargables for our Wii...they use the Wii's USB power to recharge which is AWESOME!)

13) Share the cost of a meal. We did this when we lived in College Station. Once a week, one person would make dinner for all 6 of us. Not only was it tasty, but we got to not cook sometimes...and we also enjoyed new and interesting food experiences! (Mmmmm bay leaves... (I tease, Kent, the soup itself was actually quite tasty :-p) Mmmm homemade alfredo sauce...)

Living inexpensively...not cheap

I recently stumbled on to a random livejournal person's blog about living on a minimum wage and how to save money, etc. And it got me thinking about the things Scott & I do to save money...wondering if there are more things we could do and what those things might be. Who knows, maybe my ideas will help someone...maybe I will get new ideas from writing down the old ones...or maybe someone will have an idea that I'm not using to suggest! So many possibilities, I might as well jump right in.

1) Stress Less
First and foremost, you have to know the philosophy by which I budget. Money has the potential to be a major stress factor in my life (and Scott's even more so). Stress = BAD. Not only that, but when I stress, how do I fight it? By buying chocolates..candles...the little luxuries that are not really in the budget...which only makes me MORE STRESSED. So...stress also = expensive. Therefore, one goal of my money management is that it be as stress free as possible. I do this in several ways:

2) Delegate
One way that we keep money from = stress too often is that I handle the budget. Scott does not like logistics and budgeting is a BIG logistic. By taking the burden of keeping track of our money, I help him out a lot...and I help me too - because with one person mostly in charge of keeping track of our money, things run smoothly.

3) Immediate Value
It is important, nay vital, to have the scrimping and saving be worthwhile, both in the short & long term. I read a news story not too long ago about an Oxford librarian who passed away - and her family discovered that she had hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of artwork squirrelled away in her home. And it's not like these things were displayed and appreciated...they were tucked away in drawers or hidden behind doors and such. So very sad...she lived like a pauper and never really appreciated it.

One way we do this is by allowing ourselves to reap the rewards of our savings. For instance: Scott & I each get $25 a week for work/school lunches. But, it is possible to eat out a good lunch and spend much less than $5 a day. The money we save there is ours. Individually. To do with what we want. I use mine for a good cup of coffee sometimes or to put in a jar for a date night. This way, although we are living with little money, we can still afford life's little extravagances. This is what I call living inexpensively versus living cheaply.

4) Time is Money (Spend for Freedom!)
Another thing we do to avoid stress is to get month passes for the TTC. Now, the reason I KNOW this avoids stress is that we didn't have month passes for the month of January. We weren't there the whole month, I didn't have a job at the beginning of the just didn't make financial sense. But, looking back on that month, while it might not have made financial sure makes emotional sense! We spent much of January in our basement apartment. There were whole days (Saturdays) when I didn't even take a step outside. This is dreary & wearing. I had to plan grocery trips way too carefully...which meant we sometimes had to go around to the corner store & spend more money on the same item. (example: sour cream $4.00 at corner store, $2.00 at Walmart) Plus, we didn't take advantage of several Toronto City activities that would have been free if not for the tickets to get there & back. This month, with the passes, I feel soo much more relaxed. We had a wonderful $20 date last Saturday where we went all around town and experienced the joy that is this city. I know, this won't help ya'll who are not in Toronto...but I had to put it down, because it has made such a difference in our lives and it is only the 8th of February!

5) Big Picture means relaxing sometimes
We keep the Big Picture in mind. Scott is in school right now. He will be in school for the next 5 years or so. But, wherever he schools next year, we will be there for the full 5 years. This year I haven't been able to get a permanent job - due to the fact that we're only here for 1 year for sure, and so I only have a 1 year work permit. To get into Canada, we had to show that we had a certain amount of money available ($16,000) to prove that I didn't have to get a job for us to live. We showed this 2 ways - through savings we had built up and through an investment account that my parents had established to pay off my college loans. This has been a very nice safety net for us, especially once we finally got established with all the monthly bills and such, since my job status is in constant flux and we never know how much money I'll get per week. One week, I could work all week and earn $16 an hour...another $13 an hour...and another I could only work a few days during the week. Temp work is like that. And it is nice to know that we have the necessary amount to cover all recurring monthly expenses through the end of August.

More it is time for me to go & eat lunch!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I hates it!

Wow. I have discovered the dangers of trying to write creatively during work. Never in my life have I written so disjointed a paragraph as the first paragraph of my Roop story below. I'm going to print it out and write all over it. Now! (At work, but hopefully eventually enough proofs and I'll get something right.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Many Quests of Prince Roop: Quest 2 Episode 1

--This is an EDIT of the previous post, after some reflection, moving things around so that this particular quest comes earlier in the 7 (there are 7 quests - it's a Magic number, really) This whole "quests of Roop" thing is part of a MUCH larger WIP that I've been working on since last August. (Actually it's the least developed part...which conversly is why I'm able to write it.)--

On his second journey into the forest, Roop felt much more prepared. He had kept quite busy over the year, much to the disappointment of his mother and her ladies who had very specific ideas on appropriate pastimes for a young prince. He had eluded the garden parties, balls, afternoon teas and weekend visits through a carefully acquired ability to be consistently unavaliable with a series of equally creative, plausible and irreproachable excuses. Shortly after he'd returned from his barely successful venture into the Green Forest last year, Roop had realized how important it was that he gain this knowledge, and quickly. Not so very long after this realization, Roop was sure it would be impossible to escape from his loving mother's attentions. He had been sitting in the garden, wondering what he was to do when he was approached by one of his godfathers, Baron Brandek. Brandek had a reputation for mad brilliance which earned him both the respect and fear of the younger generations.

"I say, my boy, I say. You look positively down in the dumps? How long has it been? Two weeks? Well, you're ahead of schedule, but then you always were a bright lad. Let me see what I can do."

And, with that, the old man turned and galumphed back the way he'd come. Roop had not given it much thought, Brandek was an eccentric old gentleman, but he meant well. Two days later, he got his first invitation to the Brandek estate. He would spend much of the next year hunting in its wild mountain forests, studying in the cool, dry library and learning to respect the odd meanderings of the Baron Brandek as he taught Roop the lore and legends of the Green Lady.

So it was that, as he strode down the forest path for a second time, prince Roop felt cautiously optimistic. Brandek explained that the task of training kings to be had fallen to his family for generations. He had trained Roop's father for these tasks, as his father had trained Roop's father's father. Surely even the Green Lady would respect the ages old traditions, there was no way he would get lost this time.

Two hours, three advice giving hedgehogs, a hedge maze, a hedge witch and several hundred identical fir trees later, Roop finally found his way through to the cliff base. He looked up, this was most certainly not the place he'd been last year. In fact, he could see nothing familiar in any direction. However, somehow, he knew this was the place. He looked up, sure enough, about half way up the cliff face was the sigil. He'd been warned about this. The Green Lady had ways of perceiving a prince's fears and making him face them. Fortunately for him, so had the Baron Brandek. He pulled out climbing ropes and stakes, gathered his nerve and began a slow climb.

"Huzzah! Three cheers for the kingling! A masterful climb!" As he pulled himself over the lip and into the cool darkness of the cavern a figure of leaves, bark, moss and sunlight pranced towards him, doing a credible impression of a dirty little girl. The image curtsied, "Why hello little prince! And what can I do for you today?"

"It is not you who can do for me, but I who do for you, and well you know it. Set me your task, oh Lady Green, and I shall go forth with my best vim & vigour." He smiled, bowed to the leafy girl. Lesson one: it was best to play along and keep the Green Lady amused.

"Always straight to business with you ever hopeful kinglings, isn't it? Well, at least you are courteous. Your father was ever so boring!" The leaf girl flitted here and there, in and out of shadow and sun. "You boys are my only distraction in these long seasons, you could at least try to be amusing."

"I suppose I had not thought of it quite that way." And actually, he hadn't. All the training he'd received had described the Green Lady as full of mischief and fun. No-one had mentioned the possibility of lonely. "Perhaps I could come again some other time of the year, just to visit?"

"Well, aren't you the sweetheart! You're the first prince to ever offer to visit and I just might appreciate the company. What an exciting prospect." The leafy girl whirled about, all her pieces and parts flying hither and yon, reminding Roop of nothing so much as one of his father's older counsellors who was fond of pacing back and forth. Her muttering was like the rustle of leaves in wind. "Would you come in the winter? I'm ever so lonely in the winter. Or maybe the spring...then I'll feel like showing off though and that might be too much too soon. I'll think on it, arrangements could be made, arrangements could be made." Then, just as suddenly, the Green Lady seemed to remember his presence in the here and now. She turned, the acorn that currently served as an ear still spinning round and round. "So kind of you to offer, young Prince, you shall have my reply posthaste!"

"Thank you, kind Lady." He bowed again, this was a very different Green Lady than he had seen last year. He wondered what had effected this change in temperment, perhaps a result of the weather? "Perhaps now, you could speak to me of my quest?"

"Of course the quest! The Quest!" The sunlight, until that moment shadowed and green, burst out brightly, spangling the room with little spots of yellow light and suddenly her voice was much less that of a little girl and much more like the ancient and austere persona he'd met a year ago.
"You shall be tested both night and day,
seek the potter who works in black clay.
Turn the wheel that shapes us all.
But be wary of a fall.
He who tries to turn his own.
May leave behind an empty throne."

And then, before he could even bend down and pick up his climbing rope, he was on a road, on the edge of the forest, looking out into darkness. A branch...blown by the wind?...pushed at his shoulders. Hours had passed in what seemed like minutes and the moon was almost directly overhead. It would be midnight soon.

The Many Quests of Prince Roop: Quest 5 Episode 1

Crunch. Crunch. The snapping of twigs, the breaking of leaves, the shifting of stones...all combined to assure Roop that, wherever he was going, he could not do so silently. In all reality, it didn't really matter whether he glided through the forest like one of the big cats or tromped about in the manner of the wild boars. It was his pride that irked him. He knew how to walk silently, had trained for many hours to achieve stealth and elegance in his gait. But nevertheless, despite all his efforts, the forest betrayed him. It apparently wanted to get on his nerves.

Anyone who spent any time in the Green was used to thinking of the forest as a living, highly intelligent and virtually omnipotent presence. The difference for Roop was he knew It personally and therefore knew It's sense of humor. The moment he was able to actually ignore the little joke being played on him, it would stop, waiting for a reaction like some small, sullen child. Roop started whistling. He could swear the rustling of the leaves sounded like laughter. It was going to be a long walk.

Two hours, three hedgehogs, a hedge maze and several fir trees later, Roop finally found his way through to the waterfall. He stood on the rock, high above the crystal pool, dreading the next step. Ever since the third year, when he had expressed a fear of heights, the entrance to the cavern had remained the same. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes and walked off the boulder.

Wind rushed by his head, shouting at him, filling his ears with nonsense. He tilted his head back and yelled...his eyes still closed, ignoring the dread in the bottom of his stomach and doing his best to embrace the rushing air that pressed against his feet and back. And then, with a familiar sigh, he slowed, landing softly on a bed of moss and leaves.

"Wheeeeeeeeeee! That was fun! Can we do it again?" a figure of leaves, bark, moss and sunlight pranced towards him, looking very much like a very dirty little girl. The image curtsied, "Why hello little prince! And what can I do for you today?"

"It is not you who can do for me, but I who do for you, and well you know it. Set me your task, oh Lady Green, and I shall go forth with my best vim & vigour." He smiled, bowed to the leafy girl. It was best to keep the Green Lady amused.

"Always straight to business with you, isn't it? Well, at least you are courteous. Your father was even more boring! You boys are my only distraction in these long seasons, you could at least try to be amusing."

"I suppose I had not thought of it quite that way." And actually, he hadn't. "Perhaps I could come again some other time of the year, just to visit?"

"Well, aren't you the sweetheart! Not one of you kinglings has ever offered to come visit. I'll think on it, it would take some arranging, you know?"

"Thank you, kind Lady. And now, my quest?"

"And now, the quest!" The sunlight, until that moment shadowed and green, burst out brightly, spangling the room with little spots of yellow light. "You shall be tested both night and day,
seek the potter who works in black clay.
Turn the wheel that shapes us all.
But be wary of a fall.
He who tries to turn his own.
May leave behind an empty throne."

And, just like that, he was on a road, on the edge of the forest, looking out into darkness. A branch...blown by the wind?...pushed at his shoulders. The moon was almost directly overhead. It would be midnight soon.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Brand new day...

"Pure" -- SuperChic[k]

This is my brand new day starting now
I let go the things that weigh me down
And rob me of the beauty thats to be found
And life all around
And this is my prayer without ceasing, the negative releasing
And as I rise above, my burden is easing

I bring the pure flow like water around
The rocks of life won't pull me down
I bring the pure flow, drink so deep
The river of life, my soul at ease
I bring the pure flow like water around
The rocks of life won't pull me down
I bring the pure flow, rising above
The storms of life to live and love

This is my brand new day in the light
Troubles rising up on the left and the right
I keep my eyes fixed on where I want to go, the rest will follow
And this is my prayer without ceasing, the negative releasing
And as I rise above my burden is easing

I bring the pure flow like water around
The rocks of life won't pull me down
I bring the pure flow, drink so deep
The river of life, my soul at ease
I bring the pure flow like water around
The rocks of life won't pull me down
I bring the pure flow, rising above
The storms of life to live and love

This is my brand new day starting now
Letting go of the ways that I fall down
The old can be made new, the lost can be found, the lost will be found
And this is my prayer without ceasing, the negative releasing
And as I rise above my burden is easing

I bring the pure flow like water around
The rocks of life won't pull me down
I bring the pure flow, drink so deep
The river of life, my soul at ease
I bring the pure flow like water around
The rocks of life won't pull me down
I bring the pure flow, rising above
The storms of life to live and love

I've been listening to the SuperChic[k] album "Beauty from Pain 1.1" a lot lately. I've been a fan of SuperChic[k] since their first album and I hope they enjoy a long and successful career together as a band. If this latest album is any indication, I think they have a good chance at that long career. They have matured a great deal since that first album. Their sound, while still punk rock chick band, is both edgier and smoother. They harmonize beautifully when they want to and yell in all the right places (Without screaming - I can't stand screaming music.) So, liking this band comes easy, like enjoying a good "SFP" (Strong Female Protagonist) book or watching a movie starring Jodie Foster, Angelina Jolie, etc.

This song, on the other hand, is not the one that I expected to have stuck in my head all day. There are several others that I'd have thought made more serious melodic & thematic arguements for being the theme song chosen by my subconscious. But, having had this song stuck in my head all day, I am now quite prepared to muse about the different thoughts it brings forth in my head.

First, the general impact of the song. I love the music, it is hopeful and peaceful, upbeat and yet slightly contemplative. And the idea behind the song resonates very much with one of the central modes of thought I've been thinking on lately. I'm beginning to see a pattern worth noting in the things God is bringing to my attention. The idea that each day is a new day, that we start fresh with God every morning, every moment has been a theme of late. Forgiven. I am forgiven. Not just when I accepted God's free gift of salvation & forgiveness. But now. He forgives me quite often. Why? Because I quite often need forgiveness. I quite often provoke mercy. I quite often mess up. Why? Because I'm human! I fail, I mess up, I deliberately do the wrong thing. And God forgives me. God forgives me for my selfishness and my lies and my wicked thoughts and...everything! Yay for a new beginning! (Which reminds me of the Killdares song, which is also good. Perhaps another post on that one.)

Second thought: Pure. What does it mean to "bring the pure"? I think back on how I've changed in the last 5-6 years. In some ways, to some eyes, I might be less pure. I swear sometimes, never the name of God in vain, that goes under "forgiveness" up there and a habit I am thankful to not have ever acquired, but sometimes my words offend the ears of others. My taste in humor is different, and perhaps offensive to others as well. (Again, this might be due to my tolerance for language others deem offensive.) So, what does it mean to "bring the pure"? Am I supposed to be like a princess in a tower, my hands lily white, my only callouses from embroidery needles? I don't think I could! (See aforementioned affection for SFPs.) I need to be in the world, but not of it. As for what that means as far as my language & humor...well, I guess the jury is still out on that one. Perhaps something to put forth to my small group on Friday...

A reminder...

Looking back at yesterday, I am reminded why I got a college education, why Scott is working towards his PhD and why it is so very important to work smart more than you work hard. Here is why:
Monday 2/4/2008
7:15AM - woke up
8:10AM - catch the bus to work
9:00AM - 5:00PM- at work
5:00PM - head for subway
5:30PM - purchase new clock radio
6:10PM - arrive home
7:00PM - watch Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy
8:45PM - go to bed

Now, that, my friends, was a day when my every waking moment was spent wondering why I wasn't asleep. Assuming I went to sleep by 9:15 or so...I got 10 hours of sleep last night. This morning I am still tired, but not nearly as tired as I was yesterday. I shall be repeating this process for the next 2-3 days, maybe extending things a little so I go to bed at 10 instead of 9. I am so glad, so very, very glad that this is not my everyday life. I was so exhausted last night I maybe spoke 3 paragraphs to my hubby...who lovingly took care of me, made me soup and stroked my brow. I programmed the new clock.

I know that many people with college educations, many people actually using those college educations have jobs that take the same amount of time, if not more, every day. My thankfulness is for the positions I'm able to get, even temping, due partially to my college education. This difference is not necessarily in position, as a temp my preferred position is receptionist - a job many people acquire without a college education. But, especially with temporary work, the difference is in the quality of the establishment I find myself at. Funnily enough, not only does this usually mean more pay (the better to pay off the college loans!) it also usually means either less actual work or more interesting work. Even more importantly, the people I find myself interacting with tend to be educated, interesting individuals as well. And this is the reason that, most of the time, my weekdays are not typically a straight slog from job to bed.

The reason for this departure from a normal, happy day that involves actual conversations and making of dinner instead of merely dropping from work to slumber is that I haven't been slumbering nearly as much as I'd like in the last 2 weeks. Which brings to mind the last time this happened - the resulting illness and change of habits.

At the beginning of my "career" as a professional temporary associate (The term used by one of my favorite agencies for whom I worked in Oxford, England.) I found myself in a job that was as sloggy as a slog could be. I lasted 4 months in this position, 4 months of being the lowest bump on the totem pole, the most hammered peg in the block. Finally my body rebelled - I got the worst case of flu imagineable and the position suddenly ended. It was then that I decided to be a little more discretionary with my positions. Fortunately for me, at the time my wonderful hubby was earning enough money with his sloggy job that I could afford to be a little picky in my assignments. This meant that I only worked for companies that I "liked the sound of" or positions that were short term enough that if I didn't like them, things would sort out on their own.

All this experience meant that when I came to Toronto not only did I have knowledge of the types of companies I wanted to work for, I had the experience and the references to ask for them with confidence. And so it is that now I work in "executive level" positions. Agencies (especially Kelly Services, thank you Kelly!) send me to their high level clients knowing that I can put forth not merely a pleasant demeanor but also a wide variety of skills. Sometimes this means I'm working my butt off. Othertimes...well other times I blog when the phone doesn't ring. Because that's the nice thing - the more "executive" you are, the more your receptionist is there to make people comfortable when they come in the door. And that's what I like doing best of all - helping the highly intelligent, unique personalities that are VPs, entrepeneurs, department heads, etc to be comfortable. Right now, I'm learning lots and lots about how the different sectors of the business world all come together. It will be interesting to see where this puts me when I make my next career move this summer or fall. Hopefully I'll be able to pick a path and find a unique niche somewhere interesting and fulfilling.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Do not expect complete lucidity

But then, why would you? Today is especially bad for me and completed thoughts expressing themselves on paper as I had an awful night's sleep. On the positive side of the balance, though, the Super Bowl was very, very fun to watch. We went to the party hosted by our church and had a whole lotta fun at the "Pembroke Castle" bachelor pad. It was a very exciting game to watch and the pastor's wife and her catering business provided the best munchies I've had in a very long time. burgers with bacon.

On Saturday Scott & I had our first date in a very long time. We went to the WinterCity festival put on by the city of Toronto. Photos I took of the flaming pots there will be posted shortly, probably. I took a lot of photos. After wandering around watching all the fun fires for a while, we took the streetcar down to a pub and listened to some harmonica blues. Good stuff indeed. Best of all, I got to be silly & romantic with my love. He's the best hubby a gal could ask for!

In prayer request news - we've been having a lot of insomnia lately. And I mean a lot. I'm drop dead tired right now...and I just had coffee about 25 minutes ago! Hopefully I'll be able to go home & collapse on the bed there. But not 'til 5. So I've gotta keep myself amused and awake until then. Any suggestions?

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Travel Maven Strikes Again!

As many of you probably know, I love to travel and I love to plan trips that I can never take and trips that I may take someday and trips for other people. I also try to stay up to date with the lastest trends in hotels, airfare, etc. One of my dream jobs would be to write a travel help column as staff ombudsman for MSNBC or some such company. In today's search I stumbled on the website for the Propeller Island City Lodge in Berlin, Germany. It was actually listed as one of "10 hotels you wouldn't catch us dead staying in" on a website. But I, always up for an adventure, decided to check it out. And lo, behold, this is one of the coolest hotels I've ever seen or heard of in my life!

Each room at the Propeller Island City Lodge is unique. And boy oh boy do I mean UNIQUE! Take, for instance, one of my favorites, the "4 Beams" room:
You sleep hanging from four large ceiling rafters. The bed is suspended one and a half metres above the floor and you have to climb up a ladder to get to it. A favorite touch of mine is the chair directly underneath the massive bed. Now, I've always wanted to have a bed that hung from the ceiling. The people at this hotel have DONE IT! I am impressed.

But, that is not the only wacky room. They have everything from a room where all the walls are wacky mirrors to a room where the floor is the ceiling and you lift up trap doors to reveal your bed and chairs. If I am ever, ever, ever in Berlin, I shall be staying at least one night in this hotel.

And eating a jelly doughnut.