Monthly Archives: June 2009

Two new pictures

Red flower

Fortunately, there's an abundance of flowers to practice on.

When nothing goes right and the pictures turn out lack-luster and boring… photography can be frustrating. I’ll give it a few more weeks or months or years before I throw up my hands in defeat.

Abandoned shoes

Abandoned shoes

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Canon Powershot A620

I like it when my parents get new stuff.  It often means their old stuff gets hand-me downed. And with my sister and brother out of province/out of country, there’s no competition.

This time, it is a camera. They’ve had three digital cameras since the digital camera thing started, and I now have two of them. The first was an HP. It was big and clunky and didn’t hold it’s battery life for more than 15 minutes. On a good day.

The second, the one my parents have let me borrow indefinitely, is a Canon Powershot A620. It’s got 7.1 megapixels and way more features that I’m still trying to figure out. My parents have been happy with it for a few years now and only got a new one because they forgot it on their trip to San Francisco to visit my brother.

M and I played around with it for a while on Sunday afternoon. I took a lot of boring pictures on the drive back from my parents place. He took a few more thoughtful, planned photographs, but not the 250 I took in 1 hour.

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9000+ stitches

My mother used to do some embroidery. Not a lot of it necessarily ended up on our walls (though I wonder how much of what was on our walls was cross stitch or embroidery of some kind, and I just never noticed). I remember a “Home Sweet Home” cross stitch hanging by our main entry way and, my favourite, hanging in the kitchen beside the bathroom door, a scene from Nobody’s Boy, of Vitalis and Remi walking down the road with the two dogs and the monkey. (This one is the only one they hung up in the new house; it’s in the sun room now.) It was this cross stich that made me want to try my hand at it.

In elementary school, I made a bunny. It was a kit for kids and didn’t even require separating the strands of embroidery thread, if I remember correctly. I tied knots to start and probably had a matted mess at the back of my canvas.

Last fall, I went to Michaels and took a look at cross stitching kits. I was looking at the big ones, thinking about something to put on my wall, something extravagant that my kids will admire in 15 (or 20, 25, whatever) years. They’re expensive! I almost left, discouraged, unable to justify the money spent on something I might not enjoy, especially on a student budget.

And then I found their clearance bin. Instead of a $50 large canvas, I found an $10.00 5×7. This one:

Isn’t she pretty?

Anyway, it was a good thing I didn’t spend much money on it, because it ended up gathering dust for six months or so. I finally pulled it out about two, maybe three months ago. For the first while, it was a mess and the more colours I used, the more tangled my threads got and more difficult to manage.

And then I went home and got help from my mom. (Has anyone else noticed a recurring theme in these posts?) She gave me a colour palet for organizing my threads and a proper embroidery hoop. I can’t say I’ve actually made leaps and bounds of progress since then, but it’s far less frustrating. And it’s become something relaxing in it’s repetitiveness. I work on it at M’s house while he and his roommates are watching hockey or soccer or doing various engineering-like assignments.

Some pictures of my progress will follow. Eventually.

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An affirmation

A huge coincidence.

I went to a new church on Sunday with M and his roommates. I don’t often hear a man preach anymore since both the churches I attend regularly have gifted women leading them. This pastor is in his 70s and soon retiring (as the church’s website told me). So, when I saw the sermon title, I realized it might be the last time I would step foot in that church.

*”A wife’s obligation to her husband.”

I don’t know if I fully believe this was a coincidence. I don’t often go on tangents about women and their relationship to the church. And on a Sunday I don’t go to one of my usual churches, after a week of researching Biblical feminists and feminist theology, I get a sermon on one of the passages commonly used to keep women in a position of subordination to men? I don’t think I have ever heard a sermon on this particular passage (Ephesian 5:21-33), or on any issues pertaining to women’s roles, for that matter.

I spent most of the worship time trying to make sure my mind was open and focused where it should be.

And then, when he started to talk, I almost cried. I think I have been reading too many blogs by men insisting that the Bible is very clear about the place of women in the world, combined with a somewhat hostile point of view from the guy in my last post. So, to have the passage interpreted from the pulpit by a man coming at the passage from an intellectual, but spiritual angle was a powerful thing.

I wish I could link to his sermon, but that particular church doesn’t seem to post them anywhere. He said a lot of good things, discussing what the original Greek actually says and the context of the time, which so many people are so happy to throw out especially in the letters, which are the most context driven.

Ultimately, he described a relationship of submission to one another, defined by submission, together, to Christ. It was an affirmation of my belief that that passage is meant to be something beautiful and not hurtful and oppressive.

I guess the sermon was a lesson in not jumping to conclusions about what someone is going to say before they say it. I am completely guilty of that.

[* My first reaction to the title was to grumble about why we always talk about a wife’s duty to her husband and never a husband’s duty to his wife. Almost as soon as the sermon started, I was corrected: this is the second part in a series that started a few weeks ago (they have more than one pastor and they don’t necessarily seem to do consecutive weeks). The first was “A husbands obligation to his wife.”]


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Biblical feminists?

I almost had an argument with someone about women’s roles in the church. Almost, because if I hadn’t shut up, I would have gotten very angry, which I know would not have helped in the least.

Since, I’ve been one-track-minded.





Unnamed ‘lady’


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No one’s laughing at God when they’re starving or freezing or so very poor.

I will probably listen to this song all day.

We’re all laughing with God.

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2 Corinthians 12:7-10

For the past year or so, I’ve struggled with something.

God sometimes seems cruel and sadistic.

Okay, so maybe that statement is a little harsh. And probably more than a few readers who stumble across this blog will condemn me as a blasphemer for it. (Good thing they’re not in control of my salvation.)

The first time I was really hit by God’s less than rosy character was probably last year when I read Judges straight through for a Bible study for students that I was participating in. Seeing God as intolerant as He was went against almost everything contained in the construct I have of him. God is supposed to be love, but I couldn’t see the love in the accounts of the massacres of people.

I have yet to come to terms with that.

Today, in my morning devotions*, I was hit by a verse that is supposed to bring comfort. But I found myself reading it in a way that brought anything but.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

If I’m understanding this correctly, God demonstrates his power in our lives when we suffer. In fact, God refused to remove Paul’s “thorn in his flesh” so that Paul can be strong through Christ’s power. God achieved an (incredible) advancement of His kingdom through, according to this passage anyway, Paul’s suffering.

What? Cruel and heartless much? Where’s the loving God we’re taught about in Sunday school here?

Perhaps I’m focusing on the wrong portion of this passage. Perhaps it’s not meant to be about suffering at all. Paul also says “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Perhaps it’s less about God using our weakness and more about us using his strength.

It’s worth thought. It can’t be that simple. The Bible (and God) rarely is.

And I still can’t figure out Judges.

[* Just before the new year, I started the devotional given to me by my church when I did my profession of faith. I’m in mid-February. Yes, it’s June. I’m amazed that I’m doing devotions at all.]

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Closet Census: shoes

I have 25 pairs of shoes.

I took a census of portions of my closet last night. I weeded out about 5 pairs of shoes, and lined up the rest to admire my collection.

I have a lot! Except for the running shoes, none of these were more than $50, at least half were second hand, and the other half Payless. I suspect I’m one of their best customers.

I figure buying cheap shoes is probably best for me. Many people talk about buying quality that will last forever. They don’t realize that some days I like to wear black, other days brown. One day peep toe, the next pointy. Flat, heeled, round toe, sandal. I’d be completely unable to live with myself if I insisted on quality, but demanded variety.

Picking the right pair of shoes to go with an outfit is my favourite parts of my morning routine. You can tell I’m not having the perkiest day if I show up to work wearing jeans and my worn, dirty flats. If I pick that pair of brown shoes on the right, I’m playing it safe. If I pick the tall peep-toes, I’m feeling pretty good.

The pointy-toed black ones in the middle there haven’t been worn in months because the tips have fallen off.  Anyone have any recommendations as to where I should bring them to have them fixed? Or know of a place I can buy my own tips so I can see if I can fix them myself?

Some of my shoes are getting pretty old. The tall boots were a Christmas gift from my siblings in 2006 (it was the Christmas of my second year), and those orange shoes I bought, despite my mother insisting they were hideous, for 11.50 at Zellers while I was, I believe, still in high school. The other brown boots beat both of them though: they were a vintage find.

(Since taking this picture, I have decided it’s time to let those vintage boots go. They have joined the discard pile, but if anyone would like them, they’re up for grabs. Same goes for the orange shoes. And the peach coloured ones, third from the end in the first picture. Gorgeously cute, and expensive in the reproduction by Urban Behaviour, I think, but just don’t quite fit me.  Probably for a 6.5.)

Perhaps next week, I’ll talk about my dresses. Ah, my dresses…

[Yes, I am aware that there is cat food on my floor.  And a twig.  That’s left over from Pekoe’s house plant snack.]


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The ‘Coons

The campground was almost completely empty this weekend. Because of this, the raccoon population seeked and and pestered the few campers that were there, ourselves included.  In fact, it felt to us like we had the whole ‘coon population circling us the whole weekend.

The first interaction was Friday night.  I was in the tent getting the bed made and putting on my pajamas. I looked out the open door and saw a shadowy figure moving on the picnic table.  I called to M and he came over to chase it away. I was somewhat astonished.  In all the years I’ve been camping, I don’t remember the ‘coons being so unafraid. In fact, I can’t remember having ever ever seen one.

But this was not the end of it. M and I know what do about the coons. We knew they were looking for our food and were not interested in hurting us in anyway. We did our best to make sure all the food was in the truck at the end of the night and didn’t keep anything in the tent with us. Unfortunately, this wasn’t quite good enough.

When it rained on Saturday, we scooted ourselves, our glasses of wine and our (unhealthy) snacks into the tent. From there, we watched it pore and hail, and listened to the thunder with glee. We were safe and dry and the storm was fun!

When it stopped, we emerged, pulled our only-slightly-damp firewood from under the tarp and lit a fire. An hour or so later, in the middle of twirling a hot dog over not-quite-hot-enough coals, I head a rustle from behind us.  I turned around and shone the flashlight in the direction of the tent.  A tail stuck out of the door we had forgotten to close. We chased the ‘coon off and rescued a box of crackers it was trying to steal.  The crackers and all the other snacks immediately went into the truck and the tent was zipped after making sure no other furry creatures were camping out inside.

A few minutes later, we witnessed a territory spat, complete with growls and lashing claws. The rest of the night, when I shone the light at the pine trees that surrounded us, we saw many fat, waddling, fuzzy and cuddly looking ‘coons, circling and circling, apparently completely unafraid of us.

(Unfortunately, all this time, I didn’t think to try to get a picture of them. I would likely just have been disappoint though… M says his camera doesn’t take great night-time photos.)

When we were packing up, I discovered one of my bags was missing.  It was my work bag, a nice canvas tote my parents gave me for my birthday a couple years ago. It had been almost empty; just a banana and an apple left over from my lunch on Friday.

It had been in the tent.

It didn’t take long for it to register that the ‘coons had struck lucky from us after all. The whole weekend, we thought we were doing such a good job of keeping our food out of their clutches, just like we’re supposed to. Turns out we failed after all.  And I wanted my bag back!

It wasn’t hard to find. It was a mess when we found it, not two meters from the tent behind a group of trees. There was banana smeared all over the inside of it, and it looked like the ‘coon rubbed dirt all over it. It was covered in ants, and if it had been any other bag, I would have tossed it immediately. As it is… I love that bag. I saved it, I will wash it, and I will use it for many years to come.

My Hug a Tree bag

I guess our first camping trip can’t be perfect, right?

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The Rowdies

Despite the park being pretty empty, we had one neighbour for the weekend. Anyone who has ever gone camping will likely have experience with this type of camper. They were late teens, early twenties and had come with one purpose in mind: to get as shit-faced drunk as they could.

When I was 12 or so, my mom took my best friend and I camping for the May long weekend. Our neighbours on that camping trip were a similar group. We left that weekend with a story of a couple stolen lawnchairs that we stole right back from them at the end of the weekend. That story, though huge to a 12 year old, pales in comparison to the group we got stuck beside this weekend.

They were a friendly bunch, one of them in particular. Saturday morning, while we ate breakfast, we watched them fight with a dead battery. One of them broke off and came towards us. They needed booster cables. M had some, since he’s a well-prepared motorist and, being a friendly guy, lent them out without a qualm. They were appropriately thankful.

Saturday afternoon, they began their drinking games. I have never been a big drinker and M wouldn’t claim to be either, but we are university students. We understand drinking games, have even played a few ourselves. So we watched with amusement and dashed into our tent when it started to rain.

In between cracks of thunder, we could hear them yelling and hooting, still going at it, not slowing down at all. Even when the hail came, they were unfazed.

That night, as we were lighting the fire, the friendly one came over and asked what they should do about the ‘coons. He wanted to know if they should worry about them, if they should be afraid of them, or what. We told him to put their food in the car and to not worry about them; they’re mostly harmless.

Around midnight, we threw the rest of our wood on the fire in preparation for bed. It was the last night we were there and didn’t want to bring any home. The fire was big and warm. It wasn’t long before a figure came out of the darkness. 

He leaned against a tree for a while, then came closer. I said hi. He said nothing. He took off his shoes. He sat down. He spat. For a moment, we thought he was going to throw up. Then he layed down, muttering something about his ****ing friends and the ****ing cold.

It was weird.

Fifteen minutes or so later, his friends come over, asking to borrow a flashlight. They told us they lost a camper. We pointed at said lost camper and they stammered apologies, got the guy up and lead him away.

We went to bed.

The next morning, still sound asleep, we hear, “Excuse me. Excuse me, can we borrow those booster cables again?”

We grumbled. I got up to get them since I had to get up to use the washroom anyway. It was no longer funny and I was not amused. But, that was it. They boosted their car, returned M’s cables, and left while we were in the bathrooms, leaving their campsite a mess, illegally scavenged driftwood burning in the fire pit, and a bottle of windshield washer fluid with an orange substance that looked and smelled suspiciously like kool-aid and vodka on our picnic table. (I removed it to theirs; park staff was going to have to do some work on that site anyway. Does anyone else remember a story about some people who died because they drank punch that was stored in old anti-freeze bottles?)

It turned out it was around 10:45 when they woke us up, not the 9:00 we thought it was. We were almost grateful that we didn’t waste any more of the day in bed, but that was not my preferred way of being woken up.

At least they provided a good story…

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