Friday, December 26, 2008

Some final Christmas cheer

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I am in an Advent state of mind. I'm in a season of waiting, a season of longing, a season of wondering when Jesus will show up. One of my most loved Christmas songs has always been "O Come O Come Emmanuel" and I have been resonating with it these past weeks.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

I feel alone as I mourn my old faith - a faith that was more certain, more well-defined, more at home in the church. I feel captive to my uncertainty as I wait on my new faith to take shape and grow roots. I have been waiting for Jesus and looking for him, fearing that he might never appear in the ways he used to.

At the entrance to my work, there is an agency sign sheltered by a tall peaked wooden structure. To decorate for Christmas, a large star was placed on top of the shelter, making it reminiscent of a manger. Over the past month, I have been mindful of this symbol every morning when I drive into work - pointing me to where Jesus can be found. The God of the broken-hearted is with the struggling kids I work with. When I join with them, I find Jesus.

In places and situations that cause me to wonder where God is, I am privileged to be able to make him apparent as I bring my own compassion, humour and help. I've found that God feels nearer when I am thankful. I have many things to be thankful for.

My hope for myself and for you is that this will be a season in which we can hold the tension between longing and expectant rejoicing. A season in which we can hope for something greater, take delight in the good in our lives, and bring blessing to the lives of others.


1. to be glad; take delight (often fol. by in): to rejoice in another's
2. to make joyful; gladden: a song to rejoice the heart.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fifiths and Fourths

I've been tagged by Avey to put up the fifth photo in my fifth folder. Here it is:

This photo was taken on my 26th birthday. Kyle and I were attending the wedding reception of one of my co-workers. It was the most expensive event I have ever attended. The wedding was held on four different levels of an art gallery. We started at the top level with drinks and hors d'oeuvres, third for dinner, and second for cappuccino and chocolate fountain. It was one of those events where I'm unsure as to which fork I should use at what time. Thankfully, the people we sat with were funny and laid back Newfies. When served a lime sorbet to cleanse our palates between courses, Newfie Man complained that his ice cream was just a "limey ice ball".

Just for fun, here is the fourth photo in our fourth folder. It's pretty out of focus:

This was taken two Christmases ago in Florida. There was a lizard hiding behind the washing machine in our condo. Kent's girlfriend and I chased it out, trapped it in an ice bucket and put it outside. This photo was taken as we were trying to build a sort of gateway to force him into the bucket. I loved him.

If they'll play along, I'm tagging my sisters Amisha and Heather.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

For those hard to reach places

After a long hiatus in blogging I often feel like I need something spectacular to share. I don't have any crazy adventures to write of but I did recently receive a very quirky gift.

When I was in England, my friend told me about pope-soap-on-a-rope. From the moment I learned of the product, I wished for one. A couple of weeks ago, Karen and Greg left their dog Lhotse (or as Kyle calls her, Bleeder) with us again for a weekend. When they returned from Seattle, they brought me this hand-shaped soap-on-a-rope.


Monday, November 24, 2008

The Rules

Last week I stumbled upon a website that I have been enjoying tremendously. It's called 1001 rules for my unborn son. It's an ongoing project filled with great advice that made me pause, smile, and read until I'd gone through them all (304 as of today).

I even employed one of the rules this last week at my company Christmas party- "Rule 243. There is no need to tell anyone you are leaving the bar (or in my case, the party). It's called an Irish Goodbye. And it comes in handy."

Here are a few more of my favourites:

258. No vanity license plates.

245. Look people in the eye when you thank them, especially waiters.

242. Hang artwork at eye-level.

235. When singing karaoke, choose a song within your range.

232. There is exactly one place where it is acceptable to wear gym clothes.

168. Be cool to the younger kids. Reputations are built over a lifetime.

148. When handling a frog, be gentle.

125. A t-shirt is neither a philosophy nor an advertisement. It’s a shirt. Wear it plain.

86. Never criticize a book, play, or film unless you have read or seen it yourself.

14. Men with facial hair have something to hide.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One of my not-so-favourite things

When people ask me what I do, I usually tell them I'm a psychologist. This isn't technically true yet but it's the easiest way to explain what I do.

My least favourite response is: Are you analyzing me right now?

What am I supposed to say to that? That's just awkward.

I have two requests, internet.
First - give me some funny one-liners I could respond with.
Second - write a comment about the most frequent/funny/annoying response when people learn your vocation or hobby.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Trouble from above

Monday night I was sitting at my desk writing a court report when I heard a strange tapping noise above my head. I looked up, praying there weren't mice in the ceiling. In an instant, water was dripping like crazy onto my desk.

I ran up to the staff suite and found a spare garbage can to catch the water. While I waited for the on-call maintenance guy, I climbed atop my desk with the intent of removing the already water-stained ceiling tile before it was completely soaked. As I was pushing the tile, an object started slipping toward me from inside the ceiling. I scrambled to get out of the way as a giant blue mop bucket plummeted toward my head. Hm...I'm guessing that the ceiling leak might be an on-going problem.

Nun Watch Update: After a very long dry spell, I saw three nuns this evening while walking to the University with Kyle. They were all wearing white winter jackets to match their habits.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Adventures in dog sitting

Saturday 12 pm
Lhotse is the lovely dog of our friends Karen and Greg, who are in Europe for two weeks. We are taking care of her for the second week of their trip. Kyle and I drive to Taco Time to pick up Lhotse from her first set of dog-sitters.
Jamie: Is there anything we should know before we take her home?
Other dog sitters: No. Not really. She will pretend to be chewing her bone on the floor while sneakily destroying your carpet. Watch out.

Jamie: Okay. I can handle that.

Saturday 2 pm
Kyle and I are in the off-leash park, walking Lhotse and our dog Chaz.

Jamie: Lhotse's butt looks weird.
Kyle: Yeah?
Jamie: It looks like she has balls. Is that norm
Kyle: I don't know. I've never had a girl dog.
Jamie: Me neither.

Saturday 5 pm
Kyle and I are looking out the kitchen window, watching the dogs in the back yard.
Kyle: Chaz is still humping Lhotse. Why is he being such a tool?
Jamie: They've been going at it forever. They need to take a break.
Kyle: Maybe I should take Chaz back to my par
ents' house.
Jamie: Yeah, he can't keep this up. He's an old man and needs to rest.

Sunday 2 am
I'm awoken in the middle of the night. I hear Lhotse making weird noises.

Jamie: Kyle, get up. Somethings going on with the dog.
Kyle stumbles out of bed and into the kitchen. From bed I can hear him.
Kyle: Lhotse, are you okay? You're hurt. Where are you bleeding from?
Kyle: *!$^&*
Jamie: What? What's wrong?
Kyle: Come check this out. See where she's bleeding from.
I wander into the kitchen to see blood all over the kitchen floor, emanating the area of Lhotse that had earlier appeared to be her balls. She's in heat.

Sunday 1pm
Kyle returns from walking Lhotse.
Kyle: I had her in the off-leash park but we came to a big group of dogs and three of them started coming after her, sniffing aggressively. I had to put her on her leash and take off.
Jamie: Yeah, maybe we shouldn't take her to the off-leash park anymore. The last thing I want to tell Karen and Greg when they get back is that their dog was gang-banged at the park.

Sunday, 3pm
Lhotse is desperately lonely and crying on the back porch.

Jamie: Maybe we should let her in. She's reall
y sad. What if we block off the kitchen and let her stay in there?
Lhotse runs in, leaping with joy as we're reunited after two long hours apart. Her tail is wagging like crazy, acting acting much like a propeller and spraying drops of blood everywhere.

After cleaning up the mess, we become the Macgyvers of dog sitting. Our problems are solved with the creative use of simple household objects - an old pair of underwear, a pad, some scissors (for a tail hole), a safety pin, and some duct tape.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hammacher Time!

Hammacher Schlemmer came in the mail last week. Last year, I was angered by all of the catalogues we receive now that Kyle's contact information has been "rented". This year I got excited when I saw Hammacher Schlemmer because I knew that I could use it to get Kyle going. I laid in bed one night reading aloud to Kyle the descriptions of my favourite Hammacher Schelmmer treasures. I laughed out loud when Kyle rewarded me with an emphatic, "I wish there was some way I could punish that company!"

One of my favourites was the Only Stainless Steel Wallet. This beauty is woven with 25,000 steel threads. Thankfully, it is resistant to corrosive materials such as salts, acids, and seawater. It is the perfect gift for your elderly loved-one who fears identity theft - "the tightly woven steel also passively resists radio-frequency hacking--the latest identity theft technique that attempts to scan newer credit cards." Identity thieves are now scanning people's pockets? Whoa! The problem of identity thievery is much worse than I thought. Peace of mind for only $89.99

With the Keep your Distance Bug Vacuum, you too can kill bugs from a distance of up to two feet. "The lightweight plastic design allows complete control while chasing flying insects." It's only $49.99! If I had this little lovely, I could avoid picking up crunchy bug bodies without making Chaz eat them off the floor.

One of the most impressive items was the 14 M.P.H. Cooler. For those of us who live and think metric, that's the 22.53 km/h cooler. It is the world's only rideable three-wheeled cooler. You can travel almost 25km on a single charge, carrying up to 24 pop cans and 9 pounds of ice. Apparently, it handles similarly to a golf cart but has a handy cup-holder located between the drivers' knees. This can be yours for the low, low price of 499.95 US.

Just in time for Christmas, Hammacher Schlemmer sends out the catalogue in which you can find the gift for the person who has everything. Kyle and I are people who have everything...more than everything we want and need. Though it's easy to laugh at the useless Hammacher Schlemmer gifts, my consumption is only a shade less ridiculous. I find Christmas gifts stressful - I get anxious about giving people things they like and feel guilty when I receive things I don't want. For the past few years, our families have gone Grinch-style and decided not to do gifts. Avey has included some great alternatives from World Vision on her blog. Oxfam and Samaritan's Purse have other fun Christmas donation catalogues you may enjoy.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

PB Slices

A friend of mine once told me that the secret to successfully marketing a new product is to appeal to the customer's laziness. All you have to do is create a product that will eliminate a simple but mildly annoying task. People will be all over that.

Example: bags of shredded cheese. Is it really that hard to shred your own cheese? No... But I'm still occasionally tempted to lay down six dollars so that I can just pull shredded taco-spiced cheddar out of my fridge on a whim.

The inventor of this product has gone too far. Much too far. The P. B. Slices web site actually says "PB Slices makes peanut butter easy to eat."Hmm...what a conundrum. Easy to eat but difficult to peel. I'm also guessing it's difficult to digest and eliminate from the body. I think I'll choose to go to the massive effort of fighting open a jar, wrestling the peanut butter out with a knife and tearing up my bread as I try to spread it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Taking it to the streets!

I have noticed an alarming trend on Calgary roads. Fewer people are giving the wave.

People, don't give up the wave! It's a friendly necessity of the road. I make sure to wave extra enthusiastically whenever someone lets me in front of them. I even give a wave when the person might not have intended to let me in.

The sinster side of my love of the wave is that it makes me smoulder with anger when I let someone in and they don't acknolwedge me. I have a friend who used to honk at people, tailgate them, and give them the finger when they didn't wave after being let in. It sounds crazy but I can totally understand that reaction.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fiscal management

Yesterday I was cleaning our room. Behind my dresser I happened upon a grocery bag filled with about a hundred receipts from several years ago.

There are lots of things to love about Kyle but one thing that drives me crazy is his habit of squirreling away EVERY RECEIPT HE'S EVER GOTTEN. (Conversely, it drives Kyle crazy that I never keep my receipts and have no idea what happens to them.)
Kyle's receipt collection is not just limited to the grocery bag behind my dresser. There are surprise receipt stashes all over the house - stuffed into bowls, hiding in envelopes, crammed into cupboards.

In his defense, that grocery bag of receipts could come in handy should we ever decide to return those bananas we bought in April 2003.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hasidic Rain

On my way home from work, I drive past the Calgary Jewish Centre. Twice now, I have been very excited to see an Orthodox Jewish man standing at the corner waiting to cross the street. That's right. It's not just about nuns anymore. I have expanded my sectarian excitement.

When Kyle and I went to New York in the spring, I was really interested in the Orthodox Jews we saw. On our flight back from Rome to New York, our plane was filled with Orthodox Jews returning home from Jerusalem for Passover. I sat beside one young Jewish guy on the plane and wanted to ask him a million questions. He, however, just wanted to sit with his lap top and read a million of his old emails so I left him alone. Okay - truthfully, I also read his old emails.

Orthodox Judaism is unlike many cultures and faiths in which women bear the burden of maintaining culture with their appearance. In Orthodox Judaism, it is men whose appearance is more distinctive. Women are expected to dress modestly and married women often cover their heads for modesty. Many women wear a scarf to cover their hair. However, less conservative married women cover their heads with a sheitel, or a wig. I was delighted to learn that there is such a thing as a kosher wig - one that is guaranteed to not be made with hair originating from idolatrous rituals.

On the plane and in the airport, I was looking all around me to spot women wearing sheitels. It wasn't an easy game because their wigs were such good quality. I have to admit that as I played my sheitel spotting game, I felt a bit puzzled by the use of a wig as a head covering. The women's sheitels were often very stylish and looked just like natural hair. Actually, after two days in transit their sheitels looked much better than my dirty mop. I was eventually informed that the purpose of covering a married Jewish woman's hair is to keep her natural hair private and reserved for her husband's eyes only.

So there you have it - some info about Orthodox Judaism inspired by my commute in Calgary.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Love that Thom York!

I got my first Radiohead album when I was sixteen, having asked for it as an Easter gift. When I got the album, I had just broken my leg skiing and was in a cast up to my hip. Because I couldn't climb the stairs, my dad moved my mattress and stereo into the living room. I spent a couple of weeks in bed in the living room, doped up on Tylenol 3, listening to Radiohead's album The Bends and reading every Margaret Atwood book my mom found in the Grande Prairie Public Library. I couldn't shower and my mom had to wash my hair in the kitchen sink.

It was a weird time but the music was fantastic.

Even since then, I have been hooked on Radiohead. Their tunes are the soundtrack to a lot of wonderful (and of course, angst-ridden) memories. Last week, Kyle and I went to Vancouver to see them play live. I have wanted to see them for ages and was not disappointed. They were incredible live and even though we were soaked with rain, I was absolutely over the moon at the concert.

A few months ago when I was planning this trip, I booked a "hotel room" at UBC. Our plan was to splurge on a hotel room after a few days of camping on the way to Vancouver. The photos I saw on the internet looked pretty good. Spartan, but good. In person, it was a horrible, tiny, sweltering dorm room. It was 20 degrees outside and the thermostat in the room had maxed out at 30. When we walked in, Kyle said, "This is why you should do more research into these things."

Figuring we'd be better off sleeping in our car, we turned on our heels and got our money back. After phoning five hotels with no vacancy, we decided to drive down Broadway and stop at the first hotel we saw.

Inside the hotel, the receptionist asked, "What's your budget? We have one room left but it's the Executive Suite". While Kyle and I paused and looked at each other, she must have been moved to pity by our post camping greasiness and backpacks. She offered us the best room in the hotel for only $80 dollars more than we would have paid for our awful dorm room. It was beautiful with two bathrooms, kitchen, living room, and a lovely view of downtown.

Aside from when we locked our keys in the car in Golden on the 10-hour trip home, we had an absolutely fantastic trip.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Patriotic scrunchies = gold!

I've spent more than a few hours this week watching the Olympics and have been left with some burning questions regarding women's gymnastics.

1. Did the Olympic Committee proclaim an edict requiring female gymnasts wear a scrunchy?

2. Must regulation scrunchies be co-ordinated with said gymnast's national flag?

3. Is there a relationship between bringin' it scrunchy style and Olympic glory?

I've done some intensive on-line research and found compelling evidence indicating that the answer to these questions is yes.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Heart Bowness

Kyle and I live not too far from the neighbourhood Bowness. I like Bowness. Bowness has a dodgy small town feel - with a lovely park along the river, a cool bike shop, a trendy breakfast joint, cute little houses from the 1950s, and a plethora of seedy apartment buildings with old mattresses on the balconies.

Sometimes Kyle and I drive to the Safeway in Bowness to do our grocery shopping (where guys in the parking lot sometimes try to sell you art made with sharpie pen). Outside Safeway, there is a tiny patch of spruce trees dividing the parking lot from busy 16th ave. Last week as I was hauling the groceries back to our car, I spotted a pregnancy test mixed in with the wood chips beneath the trees. Yikes. I didn't get close enough to the test to see the result but I sure am crossing my fingers and hoping the best for the woman who took a pregnancy test in the Safeway parking lot.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

And we're back!

As you may have noticed, I took a bit of a hiatus from blogging. This whole employment thing has really been cutting into my internet exploring.

I've been enjoying my job very much. I have always had the blessing of finding wonderful mentors wherever I go and my new workplace is no exception. The psychologists there are brilliant, passionate, and have been teaching me tons. I could say that I love learning but that wouldn't be entirely true. What I really love is being awesome at things. Unfortunately for my ego, there is a lot of learning that must take place before I can be anywhere near awesome at my job. So in the mean time, I'll endure the awkwardness of feeling fraudulent, bumbling my way through daily tasks and asking obvious questions.

Aside from working, I've been walking barefoot, eating ice cream, hanging out with family, going to barbecues, sleeping without blankets, having slushy drinks on patios, playing with our dog at the river, and taking in local festivals. Last weekend we had a great time at the Folk Fest. I'm posting the song Imitosis by Andrew Bird who played on Friday night. He was absolutely wonderful.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Love languages - as learned in a Romanian orphanage

Kyle is drying his hands in the kitchen after preparing supper. I walk toward him with my arms outstretched for a hug. Kyle runs away into the living room.

Me: Hey, I want a hug.
Kyle: No.
Me: I need loving touch.
Kyle: Okay, fine. (pokes my calf with his socked foot) There you go.
Me: That is not loving touch.
Kyle: If I'm willing to touch you, that means it's loving.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Because the Highland Fling doesn't count

A while ago, Kyle's mom asked me which sport I would most like to be good at. Honestly, if I could choose another talent to have in this life, it would have nothing to do with conventional sports. I would choose to dance.

Each summer, I watch "So You Think You Can Dance." In past years, I have taken great joy in the amazing talent on this show. When I watch, I sit on the couch smiling, twitching, and wishing I could express myself and create something meaningful with the movement of my body. Unfortunately, I cannot. Once, while dancing at a wedding, Kyle informed me that partnering with me was like pushing a side of beef around on the dance floor.

Oh yeah? Is that so? Would a side of beef keep trying to take the lead? No, I didn't think so!

Below is a clip of a contestant who can do a fantastic robot.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Moving Along

There has been a lot going on the past little while. Kyle and I both convocated last week. Even though the ceremonies can be painfully long, I really enjoyed my convocation. In addition to having my parents in town, I was able to convocate with two dear friends from my programme and I got to wear a Master's robe with crazy bat sleeves. Even though I'll miss being a student and was sorry to say goodbye to the UofC, it feels great to be finished. Convocation was significant for me because it marked the accomplishment of something I have wanted since high school and have worked hard for.

The morning of my convocation, I received a job offer from a local agency. After taking the weekend to think and pray about the position, I accepted it and threw myself headlong into my new grown-up life. With only two days under my belt, I think I made the right decision. The staff seem fantastic and I'm learning a ton from the man who is training me. The change feels really sudden but good. It's hard to believe that I'm allowed to be in charge of someone's treatment or be their therapist. Despite the weirdness, I'm excited and confident that I will be able to do good and fulfilling things in this new role.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm learning and you can too!

Lately I've been reading about how the type of banana we eat (the Cavendish) is under threat of Panama disease, a soil fungus. Apparently, until the 1960s, North Americans ate a different type of banana that was wiped out by this same fungus. Reportedly, the old bananas were much tastier than the Cavendish. However, I've also heard that these bananas used to walk 15 miles to school in the deep winter snow, uphill both ways.

I'm not too worried about the banana situation as there are a few hundred other varieties being cultivated around the world. If the Cavendish is wiped out, different types of bananas can be grown and imported. Don't worry. There is no impending banana dooms day.

What's interesting about this story is how bananas are grown and the reason they can be wiped out. Unlike wild bananas, which are full of giant hard seeds, domestic bananas are seedless mutants. Sometimes, banana plants in the jungle spontaneously produce new plants with two full sets of sex chromosomes, making them delicious but uanble to reproduce. People take cuttings from these plants and cultivate them for food. The result is fields full of carefully-cultivated clones of the original plant. Being genetically identical, the whole crop is susceptible to the same diseases. Consequently, if one plant is taken out by a certain pesticide-resistant fungus, the other plants are likely to follow.

Who knew?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On Bird Love and Things you Can Buy

Now that I read it again, my sassy spring rant was mostly just mean. Sorry to any and all who either live in High River, have a flooding basement, or are shocked each year by the return of Stampede. To turn the tide of negativity I decided to post about some things that I have been enjoying.

1. It's no surprise that I am enjoying spring. I savour the slowness of rainy days, the freshness of green grass, the change of pace when the sun comes out, and the scent of blossoms. The view into our backyard is fantastic. The only downside is that every time I look up from writing resumes or working on papers at the computer, there are birds doing it in our lilac tree. I don't know if they also enjoy the scent of blossoms, but in the sparrow community, there is something very sexy about our lilac. A few days ago, two birds created this crazy little flapping ball and then, in the throws of passion, fell out of the tree. Worried, I got up from the computer and ran to the window to see if they hit the ground. No sign of hurt birds. They're probably making tiny sparrows in a less thrilling location.

2. The Hippy Report: I finally found an environmentally friendly liquid dish soap that works! After trying many that didn't sud, my friend Karen recommended Seventh Generation. Their lavender scent is gorgeous and it works as well as conventional dish soap. I love it so much, I have to hold myself back from climbing into the sink with my dishes. The second update in the hippy report is a recommendation for a delicious fair trade organic coffee. It's called Oso Negro and it's roasted in Nelson, BC. What's not to love?

3. While it was raining, Kyle and I made great use of the DVD machines at Safeway. If you haven't tried them yet, you should. The selection is a bit limited but a new release costs $1.53 per day. That's a crazy good deal! A couple of weeks ago we rented a beautiful film, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly". Its based on the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, a French man who was paralyzed after having a massive stroke. With only the ability to blink one eye, he wrote a memoir.

Inspired to read his memoir, I looked for it at the public library. There were 47 people who had requested the English translation and 3 for the French. Although I'm pretty sure that I'll be constantly looking up words, I'm going to try reading a French book for the first time in 10 years. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Spring Rant

Every year around this time it rains. When it rains, the rivers run high. And when the rivers run high, there is flooding south of Calgary. Invariably, Global News is on scene each spring to capture this story.

Last night, I watched an interview with an unfortunate man from High River whose basement has flooded. In his interview he said, "You never expect this to happen to your house." What?! You own a house in a town called HIGH RIVER, a town that is built on a FLOODPLAIN!

I feel badly for people whose houses flood, I do. It sucks when your things get ruined and you have to pay to clean up the mess. Also, the High River area is beautiful and I understand why people choose to live there. But honestly, being surprised by spring flooding in High River is like me being shocked by all the drunken, pancake-eating professionals in cowboy hats that innundate downtown Calgary each July.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Family photo

I didn't get either of those jobs I interviewed for and am starting a new round of applications. Even though I was a bit bummed out, one of the employers managed to be very encouraging while telling me that I didn't get the job. I'm mostly over my unemployment grumples and enjoying my freedom again.

Last night, I decided that Kyle and I needed to take a "family photo" to send to a friend in India. I chose a spot in the back yard and Kyle set up our camera on the fence. As we waited for the timer to go off, Chaz kept wandering into the photo and dropping balls at our feet. We decided that rather than having tiny basket balls in front of us and a fuzzy black streak in the picture, we'd just get him to sit down in front of us. Kyle came up with a brilliant plan. He commanded Chaz to sit before placing his ball on the fence so that our obsessive dog would be looking into the camera. It worked really well the first time.In the second photo, Kyle again got the dog to look forward by saying, "Chaz, where's your ball?" Unlike the time before where he stared longingly at his ball, Chaz ran forward and jumped up against the fence, reaching up to get it. As our camera wobbled on the fence, Kyle took off running. I just wish you could see Chaz's snout in the frame, then it would be the perfect depiction of life at our house - Chaz doing something bad, me laughing, and Kyle trying to avert disaster.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Waiting Game

I was at a party the other week when someone asked me what I did for a living. I had to answer: "Well I used to be a grad student but now I'm unemployed." The guy I was talking to said the average unemployment lasts four months. Still enjoying my joblessness, I gave him a high five.

If I were to have that conversation today, I'd probably give him a fierce backhand. As I head into my second month of unemployment, I'm starting to feel anxious and bored. I've had a couple of interviews, one of which I thought went really well. But even though I was my shiniest, most professional self, neither potential employer has phoned me back yet.

I know that after a week of work I'll be craving the days when I slept in, read books in patches of sunshine on the living room floor, took afternoon walks, met friends for coffee, and shopped for groceries down luxuriously quiet aisles. So for the next days and weeks (hopefully not three months as predicted by party guy), my task is to enjoy my freedom and trust that the right job will come along. My other task is to stop lying around in patches of sun and turn my thesis into a journal article.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Spring again!

Things around here are better than they were a couple of weeks ago. Kyle is feeling better and we're having some gorgeous spring rain. One of the most fantastic things about spring is the puddles. Ever since I got my driver's license, I have LOVED to drive through puddles. In high school, I used to cruise around town with the intent of finding massive puddles and splashing through them. Due to the awful roads in Grande Prairie, this was almost always a successful mission. A particularly good spot for finding humongous puddles was the Co-op parking lot.

When I was in high school I worked part time at the Co-op deli. The Co-op, especially the cafeteria, was where all of the cool senior citizens hung out. Once, my friend Jamie and I were taking our lunch break in the cafeteria with my sister Amisha when an old man wowed us with an array of denture-related tricks. It was pretty awesome/unsettling.

Anyway, back to the puddles. One lovely spring day I happened upon a gorgeous puddle in the Co-op parking lot. I took a few rounds with my mom's escort wagon, laughing to myself as the water splashed up and over my car. The puddle was so awesome that I picked up my friend Roxanne to show it off. After driving back with her to the Co-op, I excitedly looked both ways before gunning it down the parking lot toward the store entrance. According to Roxanne, an elderly gentleman stepped out from between two cars just in time to be caught in my tidal wave of muddy parking lot water. I couldn't see him in my rear-view mirror but Roxanne swears that I drenched him. In my embarrassment and uncertainty, I just drove away. I still feel awful.

Please enjoy the spring and it's puddles but do so responsibly!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Making the best of a bad situation

Overheard in the ER waiting room:
"Could whoever ordered Chinese food please come to triage?"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Some photos from Egypt

Here are some of our photos from Egypt. If you're on facebook, you may have already seen these and others. But for those of you who aren't (ahem, Paige), here they are.

Here we are on our first day in front of the Sphinx and the Pyramids in Cairo. It was crazy hot when we landed, 40C. Typical for March is between 25-30. The pyramids are right in Cairo, which is strange. In this photo we are standing right across the street from a jewelry shop, a Pizza Hut, and some souvenir stores.

After Cairo, we traveled to the south of Egypt where we took a Nile cruise. I was very surprised by how incredibly beautiful the Nile was. Here's a shot from the boat. We would typically sail in the afternoons and evenings. Most of our sight-seeing took place in the early morning before it got really hot.

Here is the ceiling of the one of the temples we visited. The black marks are from the torches of Christians who hid in the abandoned temples to escape Roman persecution. Unfortunately, they also defaced many of the temples. I was so impressed with how well-preserved the temples were after 4000 years. We don't have any photos but in the Valley of the Kings where the Pharaohs were buried, the paint on the walls is so vibrant it looks as though it was painted yesterday.

We traveled a bit by bus. We usually travelled in convoys and were always accompanied by guards with AK47s. They even checked under our buses with mirrors to check for bombs. Anyway, at one truck stop, there was a Bedouin woman who stood there with a baby goat riding on top of a donkey. I LOVE IT WHEN ANIMALS CATCH A RIDE ON OTHER ANIMALS! When I spotted her, I almost lost it. I think this was the most excited I was all trip. The donkey didn't like me and kept trying to walk away with its goat. The Bedouin woman also had an albino son, which was interesting. I wondered how they kept him from getting sun burnt.

Here we are riding our donkeys into the valley of the Kings. It was a very bumpy ride and as I wrote earlier, mine was crazy and ran off into traffic. It was a lot of fun and I giggled most of the way.

Our really enjoyed the end of our trip when we went to the Red Sea and Sinai peninsula. We did some snorkeling in the Red Sea, which was incredible. I got stung by a jellyfish while we were snorkeling. Kyle valiantly offered to pee on the sting but I declined.

On our last day we woke up at 1am to climb Mt. Sinai. We started from an ancient (but still working) monastery at the base of the mountain and climbed for three hours. The paths were filled with tourists, camels, and chanting pilgrims. We climbed in the dark with the help of Bedouin guides and flashlights. There were tea houses along the path where you could pull over for a cup of tea or a snack. We got to the top while it was still dark and watched an amazing sun rise. It was a fantastic way to end our time in Egypt.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Not feeling so well

Jamie: Oh you're burning up. Can I get you something?

Kyle: No. I want to take a bath. A bath would be soothing.

Jamie: So why don't you? Do you want me to run you a bath?

Kyle: No, I don't like our bath. It's sketchy and dirty.

Jamie: No it's not.

Kyle: It has chips in the porcelain and there's that brown stain...

Jamie (interrupting): Yeah, but that doesn't mean it's dirty.

Kyle: ... and I pee in it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Home For a Rest

As we touched down into Calgary yesterday afternoon after 46 hours in transit, my heart warmed as I gazed at the Rocky mountains and the city's skyline. As we taxied down the runway, I squeeled with joy when I spotted a gopher skittering around in the grass. That sealed it...for the first time in the seven years I've lived here, Calgary felt like home.

Last night I considered downloading some photos from our new camera so that I could post them on here. But as I toyed with the idea, I was incapacitated by the fear that I would somehow delete all 600 of the photos that Kyle took on our trip. If that happened, Kyle would sneakily sew a kilogram of cocaine into the lining of my jacket, send me on an errand to his mom's elementary school and then call the cops on me. That way, I would never be able to leave the country again.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Just wanted to post to say that Kyle and I are still alive and enjoying our trip. Today we are in Luxor and took a donkey ride into the Valley of the Kings to see the tombs of the Pharoahs. It was pretty incredible. The donkey ride was hilarious but my donkey ran into traffic and Kyle' s also tried to get him killed. What Kyle calls his "deft donkey handling skills" spared him from certain doom while I was saved by a motorcyclist's swerving skills.

Tomorrow we set off to the Red Sea to do some snorkeling and then on to climb Mt. Sinai. More later!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Part one of our holiday is nearly over as we leave Chicago tomorrow afternoon and fly to New York. Chicago is an insanely friendly city and much more beautiful than I had expected. We've had a great time here with two of Kyle's co-workers and their spouses. This weekend was a big deal in Chicago because it's St. Patrick's Day weekend. We headed out early on Saturday morning with about 10 000 other people to watch the annual dyeing of the river. It was insane to see how they were able to colour the river lime-green. The streets were filled with people of all ages and ethnicities wearing green clothing with slogans like "Irish drinking team" or "Kiss me, I'm drunk". I just love how people of different backgrounds can get past their differences and unite in a celebration of Irish stereotypes. We joined in the celebration, wearing green beaded necklaces and enjoying some green beer at an Irish Pub.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's time for a new scene

For those of you who are wondering, my thesis defense went really well... aside the part where I tripped over a power chord and unplugged the projector before starting my presentation. The committee asked me questions for an hour and a half before sending me out and deciding on my mark. As they deliberated, I stood in the hall with a dear friend who sat outside waiting for the full two hours. After about five minutes, they called me in and told me that I had passed. It feels great to be finished.

To celebrate, Kyle and I are heading out on a three-week trip. We're going to Chicago, New York, and then to Egypt. The past few days have been filled with preparations for our trip.

This week we were due to get our second Hepatitis vaccine, which will allow us to eat ice cubes and borrow other people's nail clippers while we're in Egypt. When I went to the university clinic to get my injection, I was told that I would have to wait at least 90 minutes to see a doctor. Not wanting to wait, I took my vaccine home with me. When I got home, Kyle and I made a list of people we knew who could administer the vaccine, which came conveniently packaged in a ready-to-use syringe.

As we made our way down our list of medical professionals who might inject us in exchange for a bottle of wine, we called a friend of Kyle's whose wife is a nurse. Kyle's friend told us that although his wife wouldn't be able to help us, he was going out for wings with a buddy who also happened to be a nurse. On their way to the pub, Kyle's friend and Nurse Buddy popped by to give us our needles. It was a bit awkward to invite a stranger into our home, shake his hand, and then roll up our sleeves for the injection. He did an awesome job and the injection was painless. He was so good I almost wanted to check the floor to make sure he hadn't missed my arm and spilled my $57 vaccine all over the floor.

Problem solved! We were injected and ready to take on the world. However, because Nurse Buddy didn't want to take our used needles with him to the pub, Kyle and I were left with two syringes to dispose of. Not wanting to throw them in the garbage, we wondered how we could get rid of them. In a stroke of genius, we decided to drive downtown and dispose of the needles in the safe boxes intended for drug users on the street. Under the cover or darkness we crossed town, walked through the seediest park we could find, and dropped our needles in the bright yellow safe box. I did feel a bit uncomfortable using services intended for addicts and homeless people. However, I figure that the government resources used to dispose of our Twinrix needles are much less than what would have been required for a more legitimate vaccination experience.

We'll be gone until early April. I'm not sure how often I'll be accessing the internet but I hope to post a few times while we're away.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The best policy?

Friday as I was walking on 17th Ave, a guy held out a baseball cap full of coins and asked, "Spare some change for marijuana?"

I kept my money but I sure did appreciate his honesty.

Monday, March 3, 2008

T minus 46 hours

Things have been quiet on the blog front this week. I will excuse myself because the oral defense of my thesis is on Wednesday afternoon. However, the truth is that I haven't been studying all that much. I'm a smidge nervous but mostly I feel ready and excited. I can't wait to be finished!

Friday, February 22, 2008


Today I spent a train-ride visiting with a lovely elderly woman. She was very well dressed and wore a sparkly clip in her coiffed hair. As we chatted, I couldn't help but notice the crop of three-inch curly hairs sprouting from her chin. It was as though I was staring into the grey-haired face of my future.

I myself grow pretty mean crop of random face hairs. And they seem to increase every year. I'm a bit self-conscious about these dark, wiry buggers and try to keep them plucked. However, I will occasionally be mortified to find a long straggler on my chin and wonder who has noticed it.

I once tried to make Kyle promise that if I was ever in a coma, he would keep on top of the plucking regime. But even after I threatened to haunt him to avenge my hairy death, he only agreed to do it once. After that first time, I would be on my own. That was when I tried to enlist my sister to the task.

This afternoon, as I spoke with the elderly woman on the train, I found her chin hairs refreshing. There's nothing more liberated than a woman whose face says "Screw it. I'm not modifying my body any more." I really do believe that hairiness is just part of being alive and human. I also believe women should be more comfortable and open with the natural processes of their bodies.

Nevertheless, it's much easier to promote these values when the tufts of liberation are declaring freedom on someone else's face.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Urban Outdoorsmen

Last night I celebrated Valentine's Day by going on a ride-along with two of my friends who are outreach workers for CUPS (Calgary Urban Projects Society). We drove around the inner-city looking for people who might need condoms, food, or clothes. It was a pretty slow night but I enjoyed learning more about what my friends do at CUPS and how they interact with people living on the streets.

A lot of the people have really fun nicknames. For example, there's "Survivor Man" who when asked how he is, always says "I'm surving!" and rants to the workers about how they don't have what it takes to "survive" on the street. Or my favourite, Caveman, who loved to talk about his role as a Caveman extra in a 1980s Darryl Hannah movie.

I was reminded last night of when I worked with homeless people in England. Before I left for England I needed a rain coat. Because I didn't have much money, I bought one of those bright yellow plastic rain-coats. In addition to being cheap, I thought it was cool in an ironic, fisherman kind of way. However, when I got to England, it was more ridiculous than cool and one homeless man called me Paddington. In addition to having a weird coat, I had neglected to bring a hat, mittens, or a scarf. I borrowed these from friends and ended up with a very "eclectic" outfit.

One night, I approached a group of young homeless people and struck up a conversation. My intent was to see if they needed any food or referral to local shelters. But before I could ask, they asked me where I was sleeping that night and welcomed me to stay with them at a nearby parking garage. I was humbled by their honest generosity and their willingness to help a stranger. It was much more generous than my offer of tuna sandwhiches and hot chocolate that I hadn't prepared or paid for. But even so, I was a little taken aback at being mistaken for a homeless person by homeless people.

Anyway, after last night I have lots of thoughts about homelessness, which I'm still mulling over.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Hierarchy of Needs

Yesterday I spent much of my morning at the medical clinic at the UofC, getting some immunizations. I brought along an article with the intent of studying while I waited but ended up people watching the whole time.

At one point, a cute little first-year wandered in. She looked fairly ill with her hair swept up into a really messy pony tail and outfitted in her pajamas and a hoodie. She wasn't wearing shoes but cushy slippers, which led me to believe that she must have walked from rez to the clinic through the underground tunnels. However, what made me smile was when I noticed that despite not being well enough to put on shoes, sickly first-year had taken the time to apply eye make-up.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I just sent an email to the manager of an organization where I worked for two years. In my email, I asked if they were hiring and said that I'd love to come back if they were. This is the response I got.

Jamie- I am sorry- please remind me who you are-I know your
name but that is where it ends.
Ow. My Spirit. It's crushed.

Maybe this job search is going to be more challenging than I had anticipated...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Time's up!

Things have been a quiet on the blogging front this week because today was my deadline to hand in my completed master's thesis to my supervisor. I just emailed it to her and am sitting here at my computer feeling a bit sick to my stomach. After having spent so much time writing, reading, and editing the same paper, I feel as though I have no idea if my thesis is what it should be. We'll see.

I've really enjoyed the process of writing my thesis and I'm trying to savour the last weeks before I defend and then move onto the next phase of life. Full-time work will definitely be a shock to my system!

Even though there is quite a bit more work to do before I'm entirely finished, I've resolved to celebrate steps along the way. So today, I'm posting a commemorative photo of the local where the magic has been happening for the past eight months.

This corner of our dining room is where I spend my days - staring out the window, drinking coffee, and listening to CBC Radio 3. And with the constant help of, I also do some writing.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Together at last

Maybe this is following too closely on the heels of the "Pee and Poo post" but I couldn't resist putting up a photo of the product I stumbled upon while killing time in London Drugs yesterday.

Monday, January 14, 2008

And the prize for weirdest birthday present goes to...

Amisha - with Pee and Poo, my new plush friends.

Baby Girl!

Yesterday was my 27th birthday. I had a wonderful weekend with my friend Roxanne who drove down from Edmonton. My birthday was made even better by the addition of my new niece, who shall remain nameless (but hopefully not for long!). My brother and his lovely wife Sarah are still settling on a name. She was born at 9pm on the 12th, just three hours shy of sharing my birthday. I guess my birthday present to her will be not to hold that against her.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Kyle's right. They are Evil.

Kyle and I bought really good travel mugs, which I try to bring with me whenever I meet someone for coffee. Last week at Starbucks, I handed the woman at the till my travel mug and ordered a drink. Then, like a good customer, I walked to the bar to wait quietly for my coffee. I watched in stunned silence as the barrista made my drink in a cardboard cup, poured the drink from disposable cup into my travel mug, and tossed the cup in the garbage.

I understand that she probably wants to make sure I get the same amount of drink as I ordered. But it's a Starbucks mug, which I figure must be a standard size. Or maybe she was confused and didn't notice the mug until after she started making my drink.

Regardless of the reason, I was a bit irritated. The sad thing is that my irritation wasn't because of the environmental impact of such waste. It was because of my deep love of disposable coffee cups. When I drink from a cardboard cup, I savour the warm feeling of heat transfering from the drink to my hands. I relish the rough texture of the paper. I delight in the colourful cheer of left-over Christmas cups. For me, the cardboard cup is a big part of the experience of going out for a five-dollar coffee.

It was all I could do to not launch myself over the counter, intercept the cup before it hit the garbage can, and fill it again with my lactaid latte. Instead, I watched in slow-motion horror as that beautiful cup sailed through the air, ricocheted off the side of the giant garbage can and fell on top of a cold pile of coffee grounds.

All that beauty... wasted.

Why Starbucks, why!? I try to do the right thing by bringing my own cup and you just taunt me!

ps. For fun, you coffee drinkers should check out the Oracle of Starbucks.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Wardrobe Dysfunction

I'm going to a bar downtown tonight to see a show. I'm excited about seeing the band and I'm pumped to hang out with some friends who are in town for the holidays.

On Friday I was out for lunch with these same friends, worrying aloud about what I should wear to the show. My anxiety stems from the fact that I'm just not cool enough for indie shows (or any other shows) and neither is my wardrobe.

To illustrate my lack of coolness, I told the girls about the time a bunch of kids from my bible school drove up to Edmonton to watch Grandmaster Flash dj. Not knowing that Grandmaster Flash was playing a rave, I put on my "coolest" sweater, which I had picked up from Value Village. The sweater was chocolate brown with a small gold lion embroidered on the chest.

At the rave, I felt okay in my brown sweater amidst all of the kids with their loofahs, glow sticks, soothers, and neon spandex dresses. And then I went to the bathroom. While I waited in line, one of the tiny raver girls asked me if I was a security guard. A security guard. That's how cool I was in my awesome brown sweater.

So tonight I'm heading downtown wearing jeans and my current coolest shirt. I have a good feeling about this one. But then again, I also felt pretty hot in my security guard sweater so it's hard to know how things will turn out.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Christmas 2007

We had a fantastic couple of weeks cruising around the province enjoying the generous hospitality of friends and family. In Camrose we got to visit some of our dear friends and meet Soren, a fantastic new addition to our family.

Aside from the arrival of a beautiful new baby, there was another Christmas miracle. Every year, my family practices the British tradition opening of Christmas crackers before dinner. For the first time ever, Amisha received a paper Christmas crown in her cracker that was big enough to fit over her massive head. She was so excited that she kept it in her pocket and brought it out periodically over the holidays.

Another highlight of our holiday was Murray's Ho Ho Hold the Turkey event, which Amisha has accurately described on her blog while skillfully mocking our host. I think this is my favourite party ever, not only because of the delicious forno pizza but because of Murray's mad dancing skills.
Click on the photo to check out the intensity on his face. He wasn't messing around...

The night before we left Grande Prairie I laid awake in my bed, overflowing with thankfulness for a holiday filled with the sweetness of new life, connection, good food, and laughter.

Happy 2008!

Background by Jennifer Furlotte / Pixels and IceCream