The John Conspiracy?

I’d always heard that John (or variations of the same) was the the most popular men’s name in the world.

This summer, I’ve learned that the rumours are true!

A friend married her fiance named John.

A baby was miscarried and named Jon.

A chef named John came to work in the kitchen at the pub.

I met three men named Jon, John, and John:

One asked me out.

One got my number.

And one I asked to go with me to the wedding of the first John I mentioned.

I’m starting to wonder if there’s some John-centered conspiracy I’m supposed to be part of.

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!

Hip Hip Who Cares?

It’s 1:56 am, almost two hours into one of my life’s milestones. You guessed, a birthday. The big 2-7, not that I look it, according to people everywhere. One of the ironies of life, I suppose.

Mac Forums sent me an email congratulating me, and the Facebook team is wishing me a great day. Kind of unbelievable, isn’t it, that I haven’t met the Facebook team, and that Mac Forums isn’t even a person, and they remembered my birthday?

Better yet, I seem to have thought I’d forget my own birthday. When I checked my BlackBerry a few minutes ago, I found an alert from my calendar that said “Birthday!” and gave me the options to Open, Dismiss, or Snooze (5 min.) I chose dismiss, which brings me closer to my point.

25 was a great birthday (Norway, 90 people I didn’t know, me standing on a chair while they all sang to me a song in a language I didn’t know and clapped their hands and spun around and tweaked their noses. Yes, they were adults). The ones before that were pretty fun. On what I think was my 23rd, I innocently and inadvertently ordered a pi

Times, How They Change

I ran into a guy I went to grade school and high school with at a bar tonight. We’ve been living and working in the same area for a couple years now, seeing each other occasionally but never talking, and tonight he finally got up the nerve to talk to me.

In grade school, we were both in Talent Pool (the smart kids’ special group). I also remember doing a project together about sumo wrestling, which I had previously known nothing about. I was totally intimidated by his creative mind and seemingly unlimited knowledge of music and culture.

In our last year of high school, we were in a hilarious 4-character Chekov play, playing opposite each other as bickering suitors. During the last scene, we were urged by my character’s exasperated father to kiss already, so the bickering would stop. And kiss we did. A simple peck, to be sure, but there was actual lip contact. I was embarrassed at the time, thinking he’d be annoyed to have to get that close to a lowlife like me.

Fast forward several years, and I’m together. I’m confident. I’ve traveled, I’ve had life experience, and I’ve finally discovered what my great passions are. That which I do, I do well. Now, people notice when I walk into a room. Guys flirt with me. Girls are intimidated. I still find the phenomenon a bit strange, but it is nonetheless true.

As I said, this co-student of mine and I have been co-existing within the same area for a while, but haven’t spoken. I thought he’d be like, “Oh, it’s that Sarah Koopmans”. Tonight he spoke to me, and I asked him why he hadn’t said hello before. He said it was partially because he had been thinking, “Holy @#$%, that’s Sarah Koopmans!”

My, the times, how they change! I’m grateful that people do, too, with myself at the top of the list.


I once was a prude. There are people (my little sister, perhaps), who still think I am. But I’ve come a long way in the last ten years. No, I don’t feel inclined to spill the beans here (at this time) about all of my indiscretions and anti-prudish behaviour, but suffiice it to say that I am no longer a prude.

prude |pro?d|
a person who is or claims to be easily shocked by matters relating to sex or nudity.

How to Force a Reno

Today was a great day. Even though it started early (I had to be somewhere by 9:00 am), I loved that I had a reason to get up. The day continued to be great, even though I did a few hours of dirty work (pulling old nails out of two-by-fours at a kitchen renovation project), enhanced by some scrumptious raspberry turnovers and delectable coffee (thanks to the newly re-opened Art See Cafe on Main Street in Bayfield for the complimentary coffee on this, their first day of business!). Even when I pinched my left index finger between a crowbar and a plank, it continued to be a good day.

My day got better when I (finally) had the chance to stop at the shops in the little town that I drive through on my way home to Brucefield. I am usually either in a rush or driving passing at midnight, so I’ve never been able to check them out. Until today. One of them was great! An interior decorating shop, it was full of furniture, antiques, candles, wall-hangings, drapes, centerpieces, and much more. And a new friend, Debbie, who I now feel like I’ve known for a while.

It didn’t take long for me to share the pertinent details of my small-town Huron County life with Debbie and her elderly parents, and soon she started apologizing for her almost-baldness, citing chemotherapy as its cause. I started asking her questions, and was delighted to discover that my new friend is a breast cancer survivor! I shook her hand and explained my interest.

A couple hours later, after lunch and a shower (and an episode of The Office), I returned to Debbie’s store, this time with paraphernalia from my apartment in tow, to seek her help picking paint and drapery colours. Together we picked out a lovely deep blue-grey called Distant Thunder for my bathroom.

Skipping forward a few more hours, I spent the evening singing with the Noted! ladies, practicing our group songs for the CD Launch next week (if you don’t have your tickets yet or your CDs pre-ordered, what the heck are you waiting for?!). Gosh-darn it, we are talented!

Finally arriving home, I made use of both arms and toted my purse, papers, a shopping bag, my new gallon of paint, a jug of laundry soap, the items I took to help decide on a paint colour, and a McFlurry all up to my second floor apartment in one fell swoop.

All was well, til I set the can of paint down at the top of the stairs and started fishing for my keys. I somehow knocked the can over, and it started a fateful course down the carpeted stairs. Who knew the lids to paint cans would fall off of their own accord? Not I! Granted, it had some helpful momentum. Nervously, I turned around. And started to swear. My lovely Distant Thunder was all down the stairs, pooled on the floor at the bottom, flung onto the walls, and even splotched onto the ceiling of the entryway.
(Insert more swearing here)


The hideous evidence:

Paint can covered in paint
This can was brand new 30 minutes ago…


A wiped-up puddle of blue-grey paint
What was left after scooping up the majority of the paint puddle


Carpeted stairs dripped with paint
The view from the bottom


Paint drips on a wall
Water birds on a wall?
Paint smeared above a door
A little here and a little there…
Paint down carpeted steps
After cleaning up… luckily no one cares about this carpet!

The Idiosyncraticness of Me

1. Multi-tasking while brushing my teeth. I seriously have a hard time just standing there by the sink and brushing without going to change my clothes, put on jewelery, etc.
2. Harping about the quality of things.
3. Being late.
4. Saying I’m going to bed at a certain time, then staying up 2 hours later.
5. Reading several books at the same time.
6. Enjoying anti-social behaviour.
7. Being “artsy-fartsy”.
8. Having big hair.
9. Carrying salon-quality bobby pins everywhere I go.

10. Turning up my nose at tap water and weak coffee.

11. Possessing a menagerie of candles.

12. Being wont to shock (surprise?) people with jewellery or fashion or hair choices.

13. Crafting what I deem to be clever phrases. Sometimes I’m my own biggest fan.

14. Singing snippets of random songs at random moments. Lately, everything from Patsy Cline to Tina Turner to Celine Dion to Elvis.

15. Getting peeved at inconsiderate drivers, or, well, all people that seem to lack common sense.

16. Playing a competitive game of soccer.

17. Bossing around my siblings.

18. Focusing so much on now that I lose sight of next month.

19. Typing a mile a minute. Or maybe closer to 75 wpm. 90?

20. Using a special, orthopedic pillow, or whatever it is they’re called.

21. Lusting after new technology (can we say “iPhone”, anyone? “Blackberry”? “MacBook”?) .

22. Multi-tasking while driving. Why waste time at home doing makeup, making phone calls, or practicing songs when you have drive time to do it all in?

23. Getting worked up talking about church culture vs. a God-filtered life.

24. Either constantly shifting positions or standing up because of the effects of the mysterious, self-diagnosed disease of NBS.

25. Falling in love with pretty things, such as my red down throw or my 50s-inspired black heels.

26. Being capable of creating a list of self-descriptors so long it would take a whole day to read.

27. Knowing when to finally quit and go on to another task.


Hi, I’m Sarah, and I’m nesting.

Yes, it may be addictive, and perhaps there is no way to get it completely out of your system, but I have to find some way to deal! To me, it makes sense: I’m 26. I thought I’d be long married by now, or at least have a degree!

I lived away from mommy for most of six years, then moved back in for 10 months, after which I moved a few minutes away, in with friends. Mommy agrees that living with her again isn’t something she expects her kids to do well. Phew.

The friends have been great. Very tolerant and flexible. But how long would you really like to have your wife’s friend living just over the wall from your bedroom? Coming in late and sleeping in late? Paying you next to nothing? Honestly, we’re good. But I don’t want to push it, and besides, I want to nest!

Please, can I? Have my own little corner of the world? Where I’m the only one responsible? Be able to spread out into the kitchen and the living room, too?

The possibility of loneliness comes to mind. There is something about someone caring whether you come in at night or not that helps to calm the mind. So I’ve thought about maybe getting a pet. That’s complicated, too, because I’m not really a cat person, but dogs need more attention than I’ll be able to give them, I think!

So I’m looking for my corner. If you see it, let me know.


Writing stuff that’s going to be read by everyone from your grandmother to the kids in the youth group where you’re a leader to some guy you met once to your former boss is complicated. It really is. Not joking with you there.

Do I go with slightly funny or can I possibly launch into mocking Canadians, Mexicans, Hawaiians, the Dutch, or those from the H.C. (Huron County, where I currently live), because I know all those people groups well and I can do it? But one of them might be offended, eh! I’m thirsty (translation: it’s 2:58 pm. translation: coffee time)!

Should I stay away from mocking church and its tribal nuances, as Drew Marshall so eloquently put it, because some of my readers think church is the best thing, like, ever, hallelujah, amen?! Or will there be enough church-goers (I’m one of them, I guess I’ll admit) that can laugh at themselves to make it worth the risk?

Can I swear (because I’m okay with that every now and then, when it’s appropriate)? Or should I be concerned about what Mr. Board Member might think of me should he happen to hear about this website and come over to read this exact post? Might I get “fired” from being a youth group leader if I say “what the hell” instead of “what the heck”? Even though we all know “heck” is a substitute?

There are things I’d like to write about that I don’t want to expose while living in my hometown, where people that have known me for years (and know that I consider myself a “missionary”, which means I’m holier than everyone else, obviously) can look me in the eye and stare in shock. In that one restaurant that everyone goes to for brunch. I’d like to talk about my church, but not when I live two blocks away and my next-door and 9-door-down neighbours attend there, too. They might hear about this website, and then they’ll look at me differently, you know they will! You just can’t escape gossip in a town of 7500, although I must say it seems to be better than living in CLA-n, town of closer to 3000 with one main corner in the centre of it.

I also wonder if those people who get the being-online-24/7 thing (they’re the ones who get “24/7”, too) and know what blogs are actually want to read my stuff if it’s longer than a few lines and doesn’t include pictures? If I don’t make references to rap or raves, and if I don’t say motherf****** at least once every 30 seconds, will they understand me?

Like I said, complicated. I wish I didn’t care. I wish I could just write whatever I felt like, whenever. One of these days, I’m gonna write a tell-all book and then it will be too late for me, wherever I live, but I feel much better about that somehow. It’s as if getting published in print adds an air of legitimacy to would-be scandal, whereas publishing your own subjective words online is suspiciously subversive.

I strangely want people to know that I AM scandalously and suspiciously subversive, but I want them to figure it out without my telling them face-to-face. Because that would just be awkward. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned growing up in a small town, it’s that when things get awkward, either get drunk, or get outta there!

Life In The H.C., Part One

My family has claimed residence in the H.C. (Huron County, for all you uninitiated) for over 20 years. The H.C. extends from–well, the left side is Lake Huron, and Goderich is somewhere in it, and so is the first town we lived in when we moved to the county, Dashwood, and a bunch of other towns that I’ve never been to.

I’ve known for years that the H.C. is famous for a few things, namely drunk driving, drunk driving accidents, divorce, and domestic violence. Some legacy, huh?!

But now that I’m out and about this small portion of the County, I’m slowly picking up on a few other things that I somehow missed before joining the “real” work force. Oh, the culture that I never realized I had foregone by not going to bush parties or gravel running, and avoiding Buck ‘N’ Does (or Stag ‘N’ Does, etc.).

I never heard about the insanity of teenagers working in the barn and the fields till 10:00 pm, then picking up a 40-ouncer (that would be alcohol, ladies and gents) and a couple of girls, “touring” till the booze was gone, getting a couple hours of sleep, then hitting the barn again at 5:30 am. Day in and day out!

Who knew that entire towns were rife with gossip about who is building something on their property, who is moving in with whom, whose business has gone bankrupt, who hasn’t shown up to the coffee shop in a couple of weeks?!

There’s actually a whole other accent I’ve stumbled upon, too: a nearby town I’ve always known as Clinton (CLIN-ton) is pronounced by some Huronites as Clinton (CLA-n).

But my absolute personal favourite is this: 3:00 means coffee break. For everyone, duh! My boss will venture to ask somewhere in the vicinity of the hour if I feel like coffee. Usually, I’ve had at least two cups by then, and, in favour of my body’s general health, I reply that I’m fine. The response, “Oh, well, it’s about 3:00 so I was just thinkin’ you might want coffee.” How is it possible that 3:00 has come and gone every day for 20 years here in the H.C. and I am only now learning that it is an hour synonymous with coffee?! Help a girl out!