You know it’s summer when…

 

The Distant Hours

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{Belatedly} Wordless Wednesday, aka Thursday

I have to apologize for the plethora of posts lately, and especially that so many of them are about what I’m eating or not eating. When my boyfriend mentions it, I know other people have to be thinking it, too. 🙂 Sorry, guys. I’ve just been so excited about this diet and I’ve had so much to say! You haven’t seen the end of it, but this blog is about so much more than food, so it’s time to dial it back a bit.

Are you still with me?

Life for me lately has mostly been about schoolwork and health, and that’s only exciting to a select handful.

So, to shake it up, a glimpse of what I’m “reading” these days (via audio book), and a sneak peek at my walk-through of Bayfield’s newest store, Hive. Look for a Locality post about Hive this Friday.

Twilight

Hive

Playing Favourites: Fiction genius Diana Gabaldon

If you are a fiction lover that hasn’t yet discovered Diana Gabaldon, you just might die and go to heaven when you do.

A friend of mine introduced me to the Outlander series four or five years ago, and it was one of the kindest and most hazardous things she could have done for me. Thanks, Judy!

Outlander

Outlander (Book 1)

Genius Gabaldon set out to merely experiment with fiction, and so she combined everything in one novel: romance (yes, and sex), mystery, history, mythology, warfare, medicine, time-travel…! Yes, I said time-travel.

The result is pure genius. Sorry, I’m gushing. I’m a bit of a historic fiction whore. Contemporary stuff tends to depress me, while historic stuff, if well-written, can carry me away: a true escapism that is at once delicious and dangerous.

Gabaldon has a rare gift of imbuing characters with so much life that their story goes on and on and on… for 7 going on 8 fat, juicy books now, with no sense that they are reaching the end of their vitality.

From the Scottish highlands to pre-Civil War America to King Louis of France to the America of the 80s, Gabaldon’s storylines span the globe and over two hundred years of history, bringing to life historical characters, languages, and ideologies in a way few history textbooks could. This lady has done her research, and presents it, intertwined with brilliantly-written fiction, in a fascinating storyline I can’t get enough of.

And I’m not alone: thousands of people (okay, mostly women) around the world have become Gabaldon-philes, and I tend to infect those around me from time to time.

She even has a graphic novel that complements the series! Okay, she didn’t do the drawing, but for me, the fact that she has a whole pile of juicy fat novels, a spin-off series, AND a graphic novel is further icing on the cake that is her mastery.

A page from Exile.

A page from Exile.

Enough already. Just go read the dang books! Raid your library (I can pretty much guarantee they’re there). Ask the women you know. Just don’t miss out.

That is, if you’re a historical fiction lover. If not, sorry: this post is not for you.

(A note for those who aren’t used to reading historical novels, but are intrigued: the first book starts a bit slowly, but hang in there and it will all be worth it. I promise!)

What I’m Reading Now: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)

J.K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (Book 5)

J.K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (Book 5)

A few weeks ago, I had a brain flash (more aggressive than  brain wave), and realized that I could download audio books for free from different sites (library sites, etc.), and LISTEN to them! During the school term, I spend about 10 hours a week on the road, and a good amount of time walking between classes, etc., and I realized I could use that time to “read” books I never get the chance to read because all of my waking hours are filled with work and homework and band practices and friends and family, etc.

The rest is history: I started with The Great Gatsby, followed by The Old Man and the Sea, and then started the Harry Potter series. I will be sad when I finish Book 7, because I feel like I have a relationship with the Hogwarts clan… or maybe just with the fabulous narrator, Stephen Fry. (If you’re going to get audio books of the HP series, MAKE. SURE. that you only get ones where Stephen Fry is narrating. All others are sub-par)

Barbara Frum, a witty wordsmith. Who knew?

Barbara Frum

For a research paper on the CBC radio show As It Happens, I’m skimming former (now late) host Barbara Frum‘s book As It Happened, and I’m falling in love with her tongue-in-cheek snark:

“Thank goodness for sociology–it fills in so many of the blanks. It tells you that people in elevators get squirmy if you stare at them, that ugly people make more grateful marriage partners, that short people aren’t as tall as tall people, that Italians and Jews are inclined to holler when they’re in pain, and that people read in the bathroom to kid themselves about what they’re doing there. Were tax dollars not paying for it, I don’t think I’d mind so much. If sociologists find it stimulating to observe the obvious and the useless, who am I to quibble?”

Going Down in History

When they write about me in history books, what will they say? I was reading about a French political philosopher and author in one of my textbooks last night, and, in the margin of my notebook, found myself writing:

Sarah Koopmans (1981 – ?)

Canadian religious and social philosopher and author

Can’t you just see it? A couple hundred years from now, if I make enough waves during my lifetime, and my existence is significant enough to mention in some kind of history book, I imagine that’s not far from how it might appear.

Like me, when you think “philosopher”, Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato come to mind; perhaps I am not easily compared to the ancient toga-wearers, but when I read this description of philosophy, there is much that I identify with:

Philosophy is defined as: The study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language; the pursuit of wisdom, a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means, an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs.

A philosopher is, then, someone who seeks wisdom and enlightenment; a person who seeks reason and truth by thinking and meditation.

This thing that I do, this blog, is my journal of observations as I study humanity. Someday, hopefully, I’ll graduate to a more formal outlet for my ideas and findings, but lucky you to have known me when–!


How Freakin’ Fabulous Am I? (rhetorical question)

There are a few things I’d like to say:

1. I suck for having procrastinated from writing for ever so long. You may not care, but I know the truth: I officially suck for not taking the time to record all of the freakin’ fabulous thoughts I’ve had over the last several months. Some of the blame can be laid on the following inconsequential pastimes: work, two bands plus other music projects, and being there for my family.

2. While I initially anticipated the arrival of winter with fear and trepidation, now that it has been asserting its climatic domination of my area for weeks, I’ve mostly gotten used to it. I had some noteworthy help from a few contributors: the Fionas (my amazing knee-high, sexy black leather boots), elbow-length black leather gloves, snow tires, and CAA, with an honourable mention to hemp hearts and espresso.

3. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I have a new bible that has very little to do with spirituality but everything to do with great taste. As happens with many great things, I stumbled upon this book in a local store that I hadn’t set foot in for a long while, and I can’t get enough of it. My new bible is written by What Not To Wear‘s Clinton Kelly, and it’s called: Freakin’ Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally be Better Than Everyone Else.

Clinton’s approach is very humourous, but truly, truly fabulous. These pages are chock-full of common-sensical advice, from how to match patterns to how-to recipes for great appetizers to good manners. I love it, and possibly not platonically! I’ve been accused of being too proper, caring too much about grammar, and being picky about lighting, and now I find myself vindicated by Mr. Kelly. Alleluia!

I simply can’t leave it at that, I’m sorry. This book will likely stay on my coffee table for decades to come, and all of you who care will be able to leaf through it and glean its wisdom for yourself. Honestly, where else can you find all of this basic good advice in one very fun, well-published, entertaining format?

This is the book that I’ve been waiting to discover for all of my adult life. Or, at least since I discovered how fabulous one can be and my true potential for achieving it.

A great paragraph:

When throwing a party, you must sanitize and guest-proof your bathroom. If the bathroom that will be used by your guests is not absolutely spotless, you will quickly get a reputation as a dirty birdy. And then, nobody will eat the food you’ve made because they’re afraid of catching hepatitis.

Just sayin’: great writing, right?

Here’s another tidbit:

If chopping onions makes you cry, hold a few unlit matches in your mouth. The sulfur is supposed to absorb some of the onion fumes. You can also hold a slice of white bread in your mouth. Either way, you’ll look like an idiot. Also, try throwing the onion in the freezer for a bit before you chop it. The colder the onion, the less fumes. Personally, I don’t mind a good cry. In fact, if I cry while chopping the onions, I’ll run to the bathroom mirror and recite one of my favorite lines from Poltergeist: “Don’t you touch my babies!!!” It’s the part where the kids are being sucked into the bedroom closet for the second time and JoBeth Wiliams is at HER WIT’S END! It’s very dramatic. (Hi, JoBeth, if you’re reading this!!!)

I mean, come on! Mixing great advice with self-deprecating humour and pop-culture references? What could be better in a self-help book?

4. I have to go now. I have some more reading to do before I’ll be ready to host any freakin’ fabulous Christmas parties. Ta Ta.

A Day in My Life, June 2008

I had a sudden desire today to chronicle and compare the different stages of my life, as I look back and notice that my life in June 2008 is remarkable different from that of June 2007, June 2006, June 2005, and so on.

I invite you to be a witness on this journey.

June 2008 finds me 27 years old, living in a two-bedroom second-floor apartment in the only apartment building in a tiny town in East Huron County called Brucefield. This town is known for it’s flashing light, yellow if you’re driving between Clinton and Exeter on Highway 4, or red if you’re coming from either Seaforth or Bayfield. There is one elementary school, one church, one drive-in restaurant, two mechanic shops, one Asian/Home Decor/B&B/Lunch Room location, and one fire station.

My apartment overlooks a cornfield, the view of which is mostly obstructed by a lovely birch tree. Said tree helps me feel more confident walking around in my apartment in less-than-decent clothing on summer nights. After all, who would be driving by slowly enough whose gaze could penetrate the birch branches in the split second I happen to be passing through my dining room, several feet from my beautiful picture window?

I enjoy living alone, though sometimes I do wish someone was there to care whether I came in or not, or to wonder where I was, or to motivate me to do dishes, finally! My neighbours are understanding and quiet, the area is safe, and I actually have a place to call home. MY home. I’ve immensely enjoyed painting and decorating my apartment, putting all of my good taste to good use in a place where I’m the boss, now and forever.

Another addition to my life is that of Trixie the Toyota, a pretty, dark-green 1997 4Runner who goes with me everywhere I go. She hauls the accoutrements of my life and hobbies without complaint. She has survived being rolled over in the ditch after skidding out on an icy country road, being hit-and-run by some unknown person, a not-so-successful attempt at backing up a trailer, and carrying some of my more treasured furniture.

Not so enjoyable are the bills that go with being established and mobile, namely cell phone, rent, insurance, hydro, phone/internet, groceries, gas, repairs, etc. I can’t say as I ever yearned for that part of nesting, but I take it in stride, usually. I’ll be much happier when I can finally get my tax returns done (for the past 2 years), pay off my credit card, and have money set aside for winter tires.

I have spent more than a year at the same job, as a server at The Brew’n Arms English pub and restaurant in Bayfield, Ontario. Earlier this year, I graduated to keyholder and Dining Room Manager, as well as Kitchen Painter and Orchid-Caretaker extraordinaire. My bosses are wonderful people who have become friends and family, as well as the most understanding and flexible supervisors anyone could ask for. They make me want to stay and do my best for them, for their business, for their town.

Last year at this time, I was also working as a drywaller, and, shocker! I don’t miss it a tiny bit. I do enjoy my refined house-painting skills, which I have recently put to good use in a “cottage” in Bayfield, and hope to expand as a second job. If you hear of someone looking to hire a house painter, give them my number!

I’m not attending church because I couldn’t handle the one I had called “home” for years. I’m generally fed up with the institution that is what church has become, with all its expectations and traditions and legalism. I would enjoy a faith-based community of believers that is honest and open, a group that can laugh and be reverent in an informal way. I really could expand this paragraph to a whole essay, but suffice it to say that I have not encountered such a community, but I still seek to hold onto my beliefs. I am discovering more of what life is like on “the other side” (outside the Christian bubble), and it’s very educational, despite occasionally dangerous.

If it were possible to live on coffee, I’d do it.

I’ve joined the wonderful realm of BlackBerry, as I once dreamed of doing. And I’m paying for it, too.

Writing is still my best communication method.

I rarely see earlier than 10 AM, or close my eyes earlier than 1 or 2 AM. I’d like to change that.

The music in my life has developed over the past year as well. I am the youngest voice of the all-female cover band, Cactus Jam, and I love it, despite playing mostly Legions. I was also privileged enough to be part of Noted!, a project sponsored by the United Way in my county, which is helping to boost the music careers of the 17 women chosen to participate. We got to record 14 tracks in a professional studio, and a great-sounding CD is the result. This past winter I also ventured out to sing a few times at Open Mic nights at a local pub, and have been the featured soloist at two church events.

This year finds me recently motherless, a drastic blight on anyone’s life, and definitely on mine. It has changed so many things and finally propelled me into nesting in the first place. It also made my brother and I guardians of our youngest brother and launched me further into the land of disabled children in Ontario. I now have a lawyer, communicate regularly with several case workers, get all kinds of official mail, and have to return junk mail still addressed to Mom.

June 2008 also finds me blonde, and with an even greater fashion sense. I love that about growing older! I predict I’ll still be stylish in my 80s. If I’m not, remind me of now.

I’ve discovered I love flowers and plants, doing the Toronto Saturday Star crossword, Pinot Grigio and Shiraz, premium beer, CBC Radio, brie on melba rounds with semi-dried tomatoes in duck confit, Dollarama’s plain candles, serving dessert, mom’s old couch and armchair (with my apartment’s decor built around them), C&E used furniture in Goderich, Americanos from The Bean, and living in Huron County!!! (Sorry, but that deserved more than three exclamation points)
Being Sarah Elizabeth takes different shapes all the time, and I’m enjoying the process. Here’s to another year!

A Long and Meaningful Conversation Gone Public

(I’m on the right, in purple, and my friend is the one not on the right or in purple)


14/11/07, 11:45 PM


u still chillaxin?

yes, i still am chillaxin’

haha
i thought you’d be asleep by now
are you back from work?

yeah
we closed a bit earlier than 10 so i was home by 10:30

sweet
so, what do u do when you have a little bit of extra time?
how do u spend it?

right now? online
i also read and watch the west wing, private practice, house, grey’s anatomy, and the office… all downloaded shows i watch on my laptop

no, i mean, when u have “you” time, what do u usually do?

that’s what i do

sweet

if i’m out, i get coffee and read
11:50 PM

yea, u r a reader

and i write every now and then, too
can’t live without books

i like ur blogs

thanks!
looks like i’m about to get a whole new design and i’m STOKED!!!

design?
i thought i’d have a great time at youth tonite
i got up early this morning
had a great meeting

and not so much?

had an inspired moment
wrote down what i thought would be a great message
was very excited about it

yeah my blog site is really generic… i’m gonna pay to have it overhauled by a pro with an original design, etc.

came together pretty good
wrote it all down
prayed about it
got ready
and by the end it felt like junk
it just didn’t feel right
it felt like it sucked

so did you switch it up?

i hate that
no
i was very confident all the way until i actually begin to deliver it
and because i thought it was very good
i tried to deliver it all
but as i was sharing it it didn’t make sense

11:55 PM

shit
i mean, crap!

hahahaha!!!!
shit!!!! u r funny
i love your “realness”
seriously

yup.
i love that i discovered the edginess of swearing at the right moments
hahaha
12:05 AM

u r funny

u r right

r u chatting with a thousand other people?

just one
right now
and looking into buying a book
and emailing the blog designer

which one?

which book?
No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog

u r a nerd!!!!!!!!
ha!

pretty much
but this blog thing is important to me
and i want it to be a truth destination

yeah, i can see that

not just a journal about what i’m having for lunch!

i admire it

i wanna inspire people to be more honest
which is a challenge for me ’cause it means i have to be really honest with myself

well, to be honest
u do inspire me

well right on!

12:10 AM

i am inspired to be honest with myself too
and working on being more honest with people
and to be honest, i am not doing the best lately
being in the US right now has taken the life out of me
i do not feel alive
like my regular self
it sucks!!!

for me, i think it’s living outside of YWAM

i love God so much
but i feel like an alien here

i feel like an alien outside of YWAM.

i don’t know
life is just different

could it be part of that yearning for heaven thing?
feeling lonely ’cause we need more of God?

i think so
being heaven bound

or maybe part of the church culture that exhausts you?

yeah
that too

i really just can’t stand it all
i mean, church, en si*, is good!!

it just always feels like you are the odd one around
yeah

but it’s just how we’ve come to do it that eats the life out of people!

yeah

just read a really interesting and truth-full book called So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore by jake Colsen

ok…

it’s the fictional story of Jake and how he meets a man named John who seems to have known Jesus in person, that’s how much he has the truth of God deep inside of him
12:15 AM

cool

each chapter is about a different conversation Jake has with John and how John helps Jake find God’s truth for himself, which happened outside of a church building
but it’s very clear that it’s not anti-church or anything

that sounds like an interesting book to read
yeah, i know

just talks about how we’ve made church into a self-serving institution
that teaches people how to fail, pretty much

it’s so hard to look at church and see what is wrong with it without being negative

free-thinking is frowned upon
programs are emphasized, etc.

yeah

anyway, it was very enlightening and an easy read… pick it up if you can!

i have had a hard time trying to figure out what is worth saying and what is not at youth group

hmm yeah i have the same struggle with youth people themselves

haha

i have a study group that’s me, a 25-year-old guy who was raised catholic and has been reading the bible and discovering faith for a year
then a handful of 16-18 year-olds
some of whom grew up entrenched in the pentecostal church

interesting
wow

and another who only recently “got saved”

“got saved”?

and knows virtually nothing about “christianity”

ha!

well she uses that term now because that’s how all the pentecostals called it
but i personally don’t love it

yeah

and i’m afraid she’s already getting a stilted view of what faith is, just like her christian youth group friends have grown up with

man…

it’s a very crazy mix… me growing up one way and then almost flipping over to have a faith that looks SO different!
i feel like a doctor in theology with them

hahaha!
i know

anyway, i talk to them about faith and church, and i really have to try hard not to diss the church that most of them attend
because that’s their reality!

yeah
i struggle with the same things

but i try to talk about other perspectives and point out ways that could be better to do things, and how i have my own personal opinions, and some things work better for other people

12:20 AM

like we do not think we are better

but i DO think their (recently it was mine, too) church is sick and i’m actually scared of what they might learn there

just more aware, maybe, of the futility of this life and are longing for that “more” in Jesus

well, and the freedom that comes when faith doesn’t have to take the rigid shape of sundays and wednesdays, tithes and small groups!

that is where i am, at least
yeah

where people desire to gather and they do, spontaneously, and God-conversation happens over meals because poeple are hungry for him, not because you’re striving, planning to have people to gather because that’s what christians DO!

but u feel so odd because everyone else thinks u r a heretic, a crazy son of a gun

yup
sorry – i’m passionate about this, as you can tell

of course

and i have to work on the balance of not hating on the entire church as a whole!!

well, i need to hear it and share it too

recently i heard that the vast majority of north american churches are gaining people only because people are switching churches from “dead” ones
few new converts come in and few churches are being planted
wow, huh!?

yeah
i had heard that
most of the growth is people switching chrches
there is really no outreach mentality
it’s all programs
and tradition

yup
grrr it makes me just… i don’t know… it makes me feel gross!!!

and religious institutional shit
ooops
crap

haha there you go!!!

sorry
yup

12:25 AM

hahahaha!

um. I’M not offended!

i know
i am just laughing hard right now

hahahaha
nice

it’s cool to have a friend like you

one of the things that turned me off most about my church is what i call the Superficial Bullshit that hits you in the face as soon as you walk in the door

i am so glad we can talk about this

like…

superficial “hey, how are you?!” ‘s when people don’t know ANYTHING about you besides who your mother is and where you work

yeah

like feeling the need to say “God bless you” to every person you see… because that’s the loving thing to do
what does that even mean?

i feel so bad because there are people in church who really need God

i mean, i know God can and does bless people, and isn’t it sweet to wish that for someone, but is it actually heartfelt??

and yet, we are so burnt out doing the “other things”

i found such a lack of deep relationship, hardly any pursuit of friendship outside the doors of the church, a group of people who don’t KNOW each other, they just know about each other

that we do not have the energy to give any more because we are spent by everything else

yeah, so burnt out trying to keep people in our churches!
right??

right!

imagine if we weren’t so close-fisted about our buildings and our schedules and our rituals

i think this is the longest chat conversation i’ve ever had
!!!!!!!

haha you don’t hang with me often enough!

ha!
i guess

12:30 AM

continuing on…. imagine if we didn’t try to make sure our financial butt was covered, if the majority of a church’s finances weren’t focused inward

well

imagine if our kids could ask “why” questions about God and faith

love it
i think for me the most riddling thing is why leadership is so concerned about image
and what things might look like
and the lack of communication and trust
and the lack of confidence and team work

yeah. HATE the image bit!!

right now at our church no one seems to be enjoying working together
brandon** left already

wow! didn’t know that.

nancy**, (one of the staff members with the longest tenure) and one of the most faithful is thinking of leaving too

and why are they leaving?

the new pastor is just basically calling the shots and not communicating real well with anyone

yikes

and anytime one of us shares an idea or even points out a few things about his ideas, he basically shuts them down

oh my
classic for practically sending people running from your church!
i see why you don’t work at your office!

12:35 AM

like, my wife and i have gone a few times into his office to share with him how we feel and stuff, without complaining (or trying not to) and just wanting some communication or feedback, but none was given
ha!

yeah

i feel bad
cause i feel like i do not really like him
and i am praying that i learn to love him anyways

but you work for him

regardless

and you’re supposed to like him, he’s your pastor
yeah

God is good
and he is really, really faithful
we are here, and we won’t give up until our work is finished
but man, it just seems to get harder every week

sort of heavy, huh?

yeah
but, oh well
life wasn’t meant to be a joyride
specially in the ministry

no, but we were meant to have freedom in Christ

we know that

i mean…

yeah

you do have a purpose there, i’m sure

of course

and we all have to sacrifice

even though at times is hard to see
or remember

but you can still live in freedom
from the things that bind many “christians”

yeah, like drinking a beer tonite

sweet

and hopefully others will be inspired

nice!!
hey i’m thinking of putting some of this conversation on my blog site, edited, of course… would you mind?

nope
i’d be honored

sweet!

hey girl, and friend, i gotta go
sleepy time

okay. buenas noches

bye

Edited for spelling, clarity, and anonymity.

* “en si” – in and of itself
** Not their real names

the flies are lethargic but i had a wonderful day

Today was an unexpectedly wonderful solitary restful holiday day. Who could have imagined, after getting (or taking) only a handful of chances to hit the beach all summer, that I would be able to enjoy its inspirational warmth and beauty on the day after Thanksgiving?!

I got up late (again) and rushed to my massage appointment. I feel like I wrote that as if massage appointments are part of my regular life, but they