One of the things about learning how to cook is discovering that there is an art and a science to it. You need to know the language if you’re going to follow a recipe exactly as written. However, for the flavour you want, that takes more than skill, it takes passion. Yeah I am making cooking more artsy than it can be…but to me food is art.
I have typically put my Dad and my brother in the category of just having the cooking passion…knowing what to do when, having good knife skills, mixing a little of this and a little of that. I looked up to my Dad for many of the staples: stew, tea biscuits, fish, mmmm, his shepherd’s pie. My brother, I look up to for being adventurous: beer chili, bacon cheeseburger meatloaf, and once we made chicken cordon bleu.
I’ve been on a journey to combine both of the lessons learned from theses two cooks. I have attempted many of the staples like my Dad while taking risks with curries much like my brother. One memory for my Dad relating to cooking was the aspect of him putting mustard in Kraft dinner. I thought it was so weird until one day I decided to make macaroni and cheese from the Betty Crocker cook book from scratch. Sure enough the recipe calls for mustard powder. I loved reading that.
Maybe I should comment on the photos that started this post off. I like to use the crock pot because I put everything in, play with flavours, and take a leap of faith that when I get home from work it is going to taste good. Tonight after my dinner guest took finished and we assessed the meal, I said, “I think stews are my thing.” I have found the best results I have had have1 been while making a chilli or stew. Of course, there has been the odd bad pot of whatever, but it’s a learning experience. And I hope to keep doing that very thing, learning how to cook cause I know why I cook – it’s in my blood.
1. Footnote: “have had have” really Catherine? I had had that that other other thought in mind… 😉 Nod to Jasper Fforde
“Everybody’s talking about my tight pants, I got my tight pants, I got my tight pants on…”
Okay, reflecting on this video is the topic one of my best friends gave me… so I’m about to deliver. What this video proves to me is that sometimes things are funnier because of who is telling the story versus the content itself. Let’s dive deeper into that concept shall we?
When my friend first shared with me about the “Tight Pants” video, I laughed about it with her because she only described that it was about tight pants and then she began to sing it and just the line I quoted above. Hoping this won’t offend her, the tune she sang was not in the above video. I HAD to see this video she exclaimed while we were camping. I watched the video, and I was disappointed. I clearly needed my friend to commentate on what I was watching. And the most ironic part is that I can’t even really place the humour of the clip with her humour. She doesn’t swear or unnecessarily get angry… I’m that one probably.
Humour is one of those things that often needs the right audience and can be subject to personal taste. What one person finds funny another person could find offensive. Some people love Seinfeld, others don’t get why a show about nothing would be so hilarious. I even catch myself changing my humour moods when I compare the movies I find funny now compared to in my teens. I feel like right now I like smart and witty humour (most likely British) compared to the slapstick humour of Adam Sandler when I was fourteen. Many of friends like certain movies that are raved as “one of the funniest” whereas I find the content disgusting and unnecessary.
“I love to laugh, ha ha ha ha, long and loud and clear” – Bert in Mary Poppins
Have you ever had that moment with a friend where no matter what is said next you both cannot stop laughing? The kind of laughing where your stomach hurts or you might pee your pants or you’re already crying? A couple of scenarios come to mind that will probably be inside jokes but I’m going to share them anyway.
With my one friend we found saying numbers with emphfasis on the wrong sillabbble so funny we barely got to teeeeen. Eggight (8) was the most funny.
Another friend and I once pretended to have a kung-fu fight at a bus shelter after leaving class. We were so into it and even made sound effects. We could not stop laughing at the fact that no one was around to witness it. Another time we were studying for Human Health & Sexuality on the bus to school and you can imagine what we were quizzing each other on. As we stepped off the bus and were in line at Tim Horton’s, we kept talking about different things and a German guy from the bus turned around and said, “I kant get away from you two!”.
At work I received a call from my boss asking where we should put French in our HR Database when tracking spoken languages. I suggested, “Let’s put it under Gender”… I could hear her laughing from where I was at my desk. She thought I meant that French was a gender, like, male or female or french. I was thinking in terms of where it would show up on an employee screen.
To wrap up and go back to the beginning, I still don’t find the above video funny, but what does make me laugh is thinking about my best friend making me write about it. Hopefully she enjoyed this reflection on the fact that she is funnier whether she wears tight pants or not.
I borrowed the above photo from a friend’s backpacking trip that only ended some time today. It visually captures what I like about camping – the beauty of God’s creation. Camping, to me, means being outdoors and soaking in everything around me.
In my teens, I would go camping with one of my best friends’ family to a variety of places. The one that stands out the most was when we went to Algonquin Park. It was my first time there and I was ready to explore. I wanted to set out and see everything.
One day we were canoeing where I sat in the middle between my friend and her Dad and I was looking here and there hoping to see an animal. I had read in a book about someone praying and the sight of an animal brought them peace and a sense of God’s presence. I prayed that I would see something. I saw an otter. He swam near our canoe and I got such a rush of wonder.
Another special aspect of that particular event was that my friend’s Dad and I had a lot of really good conversations that week camping. I got to hear his perspective on a lot of different topics and share my own. I think I was under eighteen at the time and he respected me as if I was an equal. What a blessing for a young woman.
Camping with my own family was a bit different. We would get a cabin at a camp in Stayner, where my Mom grew up, for the whole summer. My Mom worked in administration and my Dad managed the sound booth for services. I would travel throughout the camp freely. One time my Mom said she was looking for me as a kid, and I was just happily sitting at the trailer of an older couple chatting away.
Whether out in the wilderness or in a campground, camping is liked by me because it seems to bring people together in relationship. You need to pull together things if it suddenly rains. A tent will not set itself up. You’re stuck with others and it will bring out your best and worst, especially if one. Of you snores or your back hates the ground or most of you are women during “that week”. It’s always an adventure!
The journey up Mount Margaret started as a geocaching adventure. My good friend wanted to do the 5ishkm one way to a certain point in order to get a specific cache (link), apparently one of the oldest in Washington State. It has a 1,600 feet elevation.
On the way to the hike, I decided drinking a Dr. Pepper would be okay versus the water I could have drank. We began the climb up the mountain on a gorgeous day with the sun beating down on us. Most of the hikes I have been on go up and then flat for a bit and then up… this one just felt like it went up.
At about 1.3km, I started to get a little light headed and almost passed out on my friend. I determined that it was time to head back down to where we started and rest while he pressed on with another couple of guys we were with. He was reluctant but with the technology available (cellphones), I convinced him to let me go back down alone. Little did I know that God had orchestrated such a beautiful time alone with Him.
I started down the mountain and felt such a peace about just listening. I said out loud, “Speak Lord, I am listening.” As I took my next step, a little brown snake slithered out of the nearby brush. Normally I am afraid of snakes, but in this case, I looked at it and said, “Move along!” It did. I said to God, “Yes, the lies really do run that deep.” The snake reminded me, as it can with many Christians, about the Fall in Genesis when the snake says to Eve, “Did God really say?” The lies I have believed, that run pretty deep, are about God being who He says He is and whether or not I can trust Him and am I good enough for Him.
As I was soaking in these thoughts, the trees suddenly parted and I hills in the distance, one layered upon another (the picture above). The scene took my breath away and I felt as if God had revealed beauty to me in such a timely and wonderful way. I exclaimed, “You brought me all the way here just to tell me how much You love me?!” I knew deep down that the Sovereign God had orchestrated the trip, the hike, the timing for me to just enjoy Him. I was being wooed by the Beautiful Pursuer.
Every time I look at the photo I am reminded that God is who He says He is and that is love is amazing and unique and beautiful and special and precious. I am glad that I had the time to myself and I would not have traded it for anything on that hike.
For the last three years, when January 1st hits, I pick a word for the year. The first time I did this, I picked the word “Freedom”. Throughout that year, I explored the difference between “freedom from” and “freedom to” and I was on a journey of understanding what freedom in Christ meant. Last year, the word was “Identity” as it seemed to build off the previous year’s growth. This year, my word is “Pursuit”. I decided to intentionally seek to recognize Christ as Pursuer and to see the variety of moments in life as God wooing me to Himself.
I received this topic from one of my best friends because she has pegged me as a pursuer and her as a distancer. I seek others out and make every effort to get to know them. She reminded the other day that I practically annoyed her into being my friend when we met in college. She described the encounter as, “I was headed to Zehrs across the street and you followed me and kept asking if you could go with me.” Sounds stalkerish eh? It is obvious that I did win her over. She tried to distance herself from me but my pursuer nature would not relent. Thank God.
Why am I a pursuer rather than a distancer? Let’s start with the positive side of being a pursuer shall we.
Today a friend shared with me a line from a song, “The opposite of love’s indifference”…I asked, “How can love be indifferent?” My heart could not ponder such a thing. For me, to love others means to pursue them. I want to know who they are, what makes them unique, how they think… Some of my best friendships were formed out of my desire to get to know the other person. I intentionally and boldly asked that question – you know the deep kind of question that opens up the other person… and I listened. Another way I have been describing pursuit lately is the concept of just getting in someone’s way. It can be literally standing so they can’t get by or inserting myself into a conversation or some sort of activity. Once it is put in my mind or heart to get to know that person, it’s pretty obvious to me that I’m going to try hard to see results. The other positives of this side of the coin are that it is easier and natural to meet new people and help others feel welcome.
One thing I am learning is that often our strengths can also be our weaknesses. In being a pursuer, I often have wondered if it flows from a sense of control. If I make the first move or start the conversation then I am in some way in charge of the outcome. Even though I know deep down I cannot control someone else’s reactions or decisions, I have myself convinced that I can. I get to start the rippling effect, so there! The other disadvantage is that I often cannot tell if I am being pursued. If I waited, would I be surprised? I once experienced this in friendship. One of my best friends came up to me after we had met at a party and said, “We’re going to be friends.” I have loved her for that ever since. It gave a taste of what it is like to be on the other side; someone got to know me first. What a wonderful feeling.
Ironically, I realize that although I may be a pursuer in human relationships, I tend to be a distancer when it comes to my relationship with God. It is why I have made a conscious decision to put Him as the Beautiful Pursuer. The more I respond to the work of the Holy Spirit through Scripture, relationships, prayer, and every day life experiences, the more I see God pursuing my distancing heart. He does not give up even when I walk in the other direction at times. Last Sunday the sermon was about when Jesus washes the feet of the disciples and something struck me…He washed the feet of Judas, the one who betrays Him. I had this feeling of pursuit as I realized that He pursues me even when I betray Him. His grace and love are not conditional on how much I pursue Him. And at the same time, the more I see God’s pursuit, the more I do want to pursue Him in return. I want to know who the Beautiful Pursuer is and truly grasp why He loves me so much. His love remains…
As I was prepping for this writing assignment, I got my topic mixed up and researched what today was like a year ago, five years ago, and nine years ago. Call me crazy, but journalling really has its advantages. I think I could have even gone 15 years and possibly 20 as I have been journalling since the age of nine.
One month ago, on August 26, 2014, I met three wonderful ladies for dinner. The four of us have done these ladies nights once in a blue moon to really enjoy each other’s company. On this particular evening, I learned how to have a good time despite awkward circumstances. The waiter in the middle of us was on the job for the first time and tipped his tray of drinks onto our table (not the one we’re at in the photo). I was unfortunately sitting in the corner of the booth and experienced what it is like to have coke and water pour into my lap! I looked like I had peed my pants, seriously! I wanted to have a good time with my friends, so I moved on. We had some amazing conversation and our meal ended with this photo – proof that you can have a good time no matter what life pours on you (yeah bad pun).
One year ago, on September 25, 2013, I was wrestling with God on a couple of things. From my rather large handwriting I can tell that I must have been having an emotional day. The journal entry starts with, “Maybe my pen was not working because I was going to argue with You.” I can see that the fountain pen I went to use to begin writing looks scratchy for the date and then the colour changes to a lighter blue. I wonder now what I would have written if the pen allowed me to actually begin arguing with God. Reading through my thoughts, I came to the conclusion that I was meant to learn something through the ups and downs I was encountering. There are a lots of questions in the journal entry…questions to God and questions to myself. I was discontent and I wanted God to answer for it. Another thing I recognize is that in the midst of battling I was also proclaiming my beliefs on who God is and the connection I have to Him. Thankful there was hope in the midst of misunderstanding.
Five years ago, on September 25, 2009, I was praying before an eight hour shift at Starbucks. I prayed for a customer’s Dad who was diagnosed with cancer. I prayed for a good friend who was the Head Resident Adviser for girls dorm at Heritage, and I was considering transferring to another store closer to home. If I went through my journals just looking for when I have intentionally thought of or prayed for others, I wonder how many people there would be. There is something so special about being able to look back and see how prayers are answered. I finished the day and the journal entry by reflecting on “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel while riding the bus home from work.
Nine years ago, on September 24, 2005, I’m just going to copy into here what I wrote then because I think it’s funny considering where I worked five years later and my current love of coffee: “Ok I’m tired. I went to Tim Horton’s & the line was insane, so now I am at Starbucks. I think I should cut myself off soon. I’ve spent too much money on coffee…and Starbucks loves it! I have to be at work in 20 mins. I hope I won’t get too hyper & scare the other sales people or customers. I’ll walk over now.”
I wrote this before starting school and working at Starbucks. I remember that I would get a tall caramel macchiato before every retail shift in order to get through it. I made the trip to Sunrise Center, a long bus ride, about getting coffee instead of going to work. The spending money part was that at the time I had not even considered school, I thought I was going to work retail. I decided one day to do the math on what I was spending on coffee, and did the drink cost x 5 days a week x 52 weeks a year = a lot of money spent of coffee per year. The most logical step was getting a job at a Starbucks. Double irony, this week and last, I went to Tim Horton’s 5 days in a row. No insane lines and no worrying about being hyper at work. If I arrive back to work in a good mood or possibly hyper, it is not due to the coffee but the break from the office, the fresh air, and the good company.
The difference between sweaters and sweatshirts to me like the difference between formal and informal, business and casual, dressed up and dressed down.
When I go to my closet and pick a sweater it means I want to appear more put together. I want to be warm in the office, for example, but still display some level of professionalism. Of course, if I’m really trying to make an effort, I will have a dress shirt underneath rather than a simple camisole. A hoodie does not quite give off the put together vibe. I have found that since working in an office and feeling like I’m in my first “big girl” job, I have purchased more sweaters versus sweatshirts. I now have 40ish (depending on my Friday & Sunday moods) hours in which I need to dress up. The compromise from my beloved hoodie is the sweater.
Oh hoodies, so loved by Catherine. So, when I go to my closet and pick a hoodie/sweatshirt it means I don’t care about my appearance and I am seeking comfort. I enjoy the ability to sort of hide in the hood if I wanted to. A good hoodie can be loose or tight, but the hood adds the comfort I need. When I was in my teens, I would wear college hoodies that I bought from Value Village because I thought they would make me look older. I had a University of Western one and a Carlton University one. I felt so cool and yet was able to continue to be comfortable… Win/win.
Which do you prefer and why?
“If you want to destroy my sweater, pull this thread as I walk away…”
In the words of Talking Heads, “And you may ask yourself, how did I get here?”
Tonight I test-drove a car! I can honestly say that I would not have seen myself at this point even a year ago. On July 31, 2014 I got my G2 license and it was one of the key events that shifted my perspective on wanting to drive. You might even say that it gave me the drive to drive (oh yeah 2 parts of a triple-entendre). I had a friend offer to take me driving early spring and I took him up on it. I received good coaching and patience and in hindsight, a push in the right direction. After a couple of times, it was suggested that I could skip most of driver’s training and just take a few in-car classes in preparation for the G2 test. So I did and I was successful.
Now I ask myself, what transitioned for me from being content in taking the bus places to really wanting my to drive myself places other than crazy? I do not look at taking the bus as a disadvantage or something to look down on. The only word that comes to mind is:
I suddenly want to be able to come and go from places as I decide to. I want to be able to visit a friend out of town without having to book off an entire weekend to do so – even if it’s worth it to see them for that long. I want to go grocery shopping with my Mom or for my Mom. I can imagine a Sunday morning where I can go to church and rest knowing that I can get home without trudging through snow or burdening someone else because of rain. I want freedom.
So there were a lot of “wants” in that last section. I could use the word “need” instead, but I know deep down that the majority of my needs are already being met. I have been blessed with some pretty amazing friends, family, and co-workers who have made commuting, socializing, and living possible because they are gracious in offering rides. I have learned to give of my own resources in a variety of ways because of not driving.
But let’s be honest, “Life is a highway, and I want to drive it all night long” (Tom Cochrane). Yeah, we’re back to wants… Dear friends, family, and co-workers, wouldn’t you find it exciting to not need to drive me home? Wouldn’t it be great, friends in particular, if you could kick me out of your place knowing I’ll get home? How awesome would it be if I said, “Hey, let’s go for dinner, and I’ll pick YOU up?”
I have so many hopes stored up in getting a car right now that I have been praying for wisdom in not purchasing the first one I drove. I need to keep a clear head and recognize that sometimes good things do come to those who wait. In the meantime, I’ll go to sleep tonight dreaming of myself driving…
“Someone to Watch Over Me” by Gertrude Lawrence – Favourite version as above, sung by Ella Fitzgerald
A bit of history, the song is from a musical, that much I knew. I never knew what to imagine as the scene in which the song is sung, but apparently in “Oh Kay!” from 1926, a maid sings it to a rag doll. I love Ella’s version because her voice, to me, has a soft roughness to it and the range fits my ear for singing. I can imagine myself in a smoky bar in the 1920s trying to sing this without crying at the same time. I can imagine myself at home now sitting down to the piano and trying to play this song even though I don’t have that jazz instinct. It’s so simple and beautiful and… well, my favourite for a reason. Here are the lyrics and you can read them, and then I will share romantically and sentimentally and emotionally and just plain girlie – why it is my favourite song.
There’s a saying old says that love is blind Still were often told, seek and ye shall find So I’m going to seek a certain lad I’ve had in mind
Looking everywhere, haven’t found him yet He’s the big affair I cannot forget Only man I ever think of with regret
I’d like to add his initial to my monogram Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb?
There’s a somebody I’m longing to see I hope that he turns out to be Someone who’ll watch over me I’m a little lamb who’s lost in the wood I know I could, always be good To one who’ll watch over me
Although he may not be the man some Girls think of as handsome To my heart he carries the key Won’t you tell him please to put on some speed Follow my lead, oh, how I need Someone to watch over me
I love the Biblical references in this song first off. The second line is from the gospels – Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” The fourth line reminds me of something from the books of wisdom – Song of Songs 3:1-2 “All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves;I looked for him but did not find him. 2 I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves.So I looked for him but did not find him.” Later there is a reference to a lost lamb which reminds me of Psalm 21 “The Lord is my Shepherd…”
How many times have we as women had a crush on a guy where it didn’t quite turn out how we had envisioned? Or maybe we have lost love in some way? For me I often think of the first two lines of this section as regret in terms of wanting to be loved romantically but not quite getting there.The adding of an initial to one’s monogram to me speaks of marriage. If I marry and take on a new last name, my C.E.W will change (assuming the last name doesn’t start with a “W” but you know what I mean). But then the end line takes my heart to a couple places simultaneously. I think about being protected by the Good Shepherd protecting and guiding as mentioned in Psalm 21 and I think about finding the kind of man who seeks to protect and guide me as a woman. Am I a hopeless romantic? Yes.
I soak in the longing this woman has to be with the one she loves in a deep hope that he will live up her romantic expectations. Perhaps I can relate too well. I learn how unwavering desire can be and how she does not bend on this man being the one who watches over her. What peace can be found in leaning back and knowing someone is there to rest against. Spiritually I find a deep comfort. The last set of lyrics makes me grin a little bit as she confesses her love to not be much of a looker in the eyes of others. But he has the key to her heart – I wonder what that key is… a sense of humour, intelligence, can he cook?
And of course, as a pursuer by nature (to be discussed in a future post), I can absolutely relate to her trying to beckon him to do as she does. She wants his desires to align with her desires. She needs him. She’s desperately seeking him. It’s the kind of vulnerable abandon that many of us long to explore. C.S. Lewis says in Four Loves, “To love is to be vulnerable.” To truly love, whether in a friendship, with family, or romantically, there is an element of vulnerability. We put ourselves out there in loving and experience the rippling effect for good or for ill. It is painful to love wholeheartedly.
It’s just a song, but I sing it all the time when I’m walking somewhere. It reminds me that I am being watched over and protected by a Strong Shepherd. It also gives me a glimmer of hope that I’ll find a not so handsome man someday who will follow my lead.
My secret super power is that my brain is like a filing cabinet. I store information that I observe, hear, read etc in the proper filing folder for bringing up at a later time. This could easily be seen as me being a know-it-all, but the ability I have to pull the information even surprises me. I cannot believe it sometimes what is stored in my brain and memory.
Sometimes I will meet someone again who I haven’t seen in months or even possibly years and at first I feel awkward that I cannot remember why I know them. Then suddenly, and not always, when we figure out the connection, the file folder for them opens up in my mind and out comes everything I remember about that person. “So, how’s your twins?” “How is that random thing you shared with me five years ago?” “Are you still working at that place?” I leave the conversation baffled at the fact that I remembered something about them and amazed at the look on their face when they realize I did.
There was once a day when I worked at Starbucks when my co-worker and I decided to test this secret super power. We kept a tally of how many names I could remember of the customers we served during the eight hour shift we both worked. I managed to get to 90 names… what is that, just over ten names an hour? I had a technique for this one though – every time I saw that person walk into the cafe, I would say hello and their name. As an auditory learner, I reinforced my memory. Perhaps I could have used that technique better during my degree… too late :).
At this point, I would say that my secret super power is relational in nature, but as a nerd, I know it also comes out in random pieces of information that people don’t always want to hear. I was once in Seattle on a coffee tour when a random person walked by wearing a t-shirt that said, “Keep Calm and Bring a Towel”. I knew what it was from right away. One of my tour members noticed it and asked what it was from… I opened the “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” file folder and responded. He said, “Was that a TV Show?” and I was about to empty the file folder of everything I knew when I suddenly had the social internal nudge that he didn’t need that much information. I responded, “No, a radio show by Douglas Adams” and then I tried to mentally move on before continuing to speak. Ironically, we stepped into a coffee shop and tried a coffee called “The Meaning of Life” in which I wanted to yell out “42!” at the top of my lungs.
The awesome thing about secret super powers is that only you know they are there and you learn when to use them. I actually have thought of this ability to recall information at the right time as a gift from God. It has been used to put someone else at ease or welcome or love.
In its relational form, this super power has given others the feeling that I genuinely care about who they are and what makes them unique. If coupled with quality time and being present, being able to ask questions about the things someone has told me seems to make a difference.
In its practical form, it has helped me in my current job. The work I am doing as a Human Resource Information Specialist requires me to have a high attention to detail, the ability to make connections, and being able to quickly problem-solve. I love being able to remember things from early on in my learning and apply them with the knowledge I have now. I love having my boss look to me for a detail or fact that she needs and I can be a source of information often.
I’m grateful for my filing cabinet system. But I can also see that often a strength is also a weakness. Sometimes I misread a situation where my input is not needed. Like giving someone a word to use in conversation when they want to find the right word themselves. Or as someone described today, seeing your friend or loved one’s eyes glaze over because you emptied too much of the file folder on a certain topic. Thank God for the ability to tuck away these experiences in the self-awareness folder that once opened is not worth shutting…let it rest on top of the cabinet.