Wednesday, September 28, 2005


The Vancouver honeymoon is over. Oh, I'm still perfectly content. Just wet. The Vancouverians are all saying it's the beginning of the eternal rains. I have thus far avoided buying the necessary gear (ie. raincoat and umbrella), because I thought I might jinx the sun in my anticipation. Also, I was led to believe that most often in Vancouver, the rain is what my roommate Danice calls "piddle" (Saskatchewan translation: "It's spitting."). She said that a lot of people don't even carry umbrellas. But not so today. Today it was not piddling. It was raining, full stop. (The "full stop" thing is my new British friend Simon's expression, so I'm trying to work it into everyday speech). The moral of the story is: it is time to break down and make these purchases.

What else can I tell you? I went on the retreat last weekend, in Warm Beach, Washington. It was not very warm, and I didn't see any beaches. But it was still very fun. There were at least 250 students, staff and faculty at a big retreat centre/camp. I stayed in a tent. I borrowed a good sleeping bag, but my nose was cold. Here are some pictures I took there - it was really beautiful. I got to know a lot more people, and I even got to make use of my new guitar. The only downside is that I'm behind in all of my reading. But I'm going to assume everyone else is, too.

I have a busy weekend. Today I started swing dance lessons with the Swing club at UBC (I hope this excites you, Daniel and Alexa!). I plan to be a Lindy Hop expert by Christmas. Tomorrow I'm taking a mandatory personal retreat for my spirituality class. I've decided to venture out to one of the gulf islands by ferry to really isolate myself. Don't worry, I'll bring my camera. Apparently there's a retreat centre on Bowen Island called Rivendell. I'll let you know if I run into any elves. And I'm also participating in a workshop at Jacob's Well this weekend, which is a ministry in the Downtown Eastside area of Vancouver - the poorest neighbourhood in North America. Then on Sunday night, I'll be heading to the university to see "Illusions and Reality" with Lou Leventhal. Awesome. Maybe I'll get some work done sometime too.

Well, I suppose I'll have a lot to tell you all about after this weekend. Have a good one!


P.S. Chris wanted me to tell you that I've ripped three other pairs of pants since that first pair. But not in the same way. Most of them have ripped on this thing sticking out of my couch. So I have a good excuse to go shopping now.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I'm the Saskatoon magnet.

Hello all,

I thought it was about time I include some pictures of why I'm really in Vancouver. Yes, classes are in full swing at Regent College, and I'm starting to establish some semblance of a routine. The routine is: go to class, spend all other time reading for class, unless of course something more appealing comes up. Ah. Luckily, this weekend is the Regent retreat in Washington. Apparently it's only a couple hours away. Students, staff and profs are all invited, so I"m pretty excited. I'm tenting. I'll let you know how it goes.

So here's some pictures of Regent. There's the front of the building, with the little courtyard. Then the chapel, where most of my classes take place. Finally, a picture of some of the girls I've met and started a prayer group with. Most are Americans. Left to right, it's Julia, Amanda, Melanie, Lisa, Tora, Danice (my roommate) and I. We're all first year students.

The steepest learning curve is definitely in Hebrew. It's pretty much a bunch of wavy lines and dots. And a lot of making coughing sounds in your throat. I did find out that my Hebrew prof, V. Philips Long, or Phil, translated part of my Bible. Crazy. He worked on 1 and 2 Samuel in the New Living Translation. For serious. Check your Bible.

I've decided I'm a Saskatoon magnet. I tend to attract people from Saskatoon. Since seeing Lisa, which is still the freakiest thing ever, I ran into Chris Polachic on campus, and today I met a girl I graduated with at Walter Murray - she was waiting at the same bus stop as me. She's doing her master's in theoretical physics here at UBC. Now, I admit, the chances of meeting these people was probably more like one in 40 000 (number of UBC students) than one in 2 million. But still. Come on.

Please keep praying that we'll get a working phone soon. I miss you all.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Coincidence? I think not.

First off, I want to show you an example of this phenomenal phenomenon known as the "tide". It still surprises me every time I go down to the Rock. Sometimes I can't get to the Rock. Sometimes it takes me a minute to walk to the water from the Rock. It's all because of the moon. I love the moon. So here's a side by side view of my beach at high tide and low tide:

Okay. I also want to show you a picture of a black squirrel, since it seems to be the most commented-upon item in my last blog entry. It was frolicking (sp?) in a tree above me on the beach when I was trying to read Genesis. It's kind of freaky, so prepare yourselves.

Did I mention Danice is deathly afraid of them? She thinks they are devil creatures. They do need to learn to be a bit more photogenic.

So here is my amazing story of the evening. There are two million people living in greater Vancouver. (For perspective's sake, there are only one million in all of Saskatchewan). Tonight, about one hundred of those people were at an evening service strangely called "Rock Garden". One of them was me. I took the bus and the skytrain for over an hour to get there and join my roommate at this cool service. I'm singing for about ten minutes before I look to my right and notice to my surprise that another one of these one hundred people is Lisa Nazarenko.

Lisa is from Saskatoon, from Emmanuel; she's played cello there for many musical presentations. She moved to New Westminster (part of greater Vancouver) three days ago. What are the odds, really? It was so weird to see someone I knew. Lisa and I weren't very close in Saskatoon, but we sure hugged for a long time in the middle of that service. People all around us were staring. It was great. I think we were both craving a little familiarity. It gave an extra edge to the words of the song we sang at the end, "For You are good, for You are good, for You are good to me..."

He is good.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Top Ten minus five

Hey everybody,

First off, I owe you some pictures of some of my Rock friends. Here are some of the starfish I was having fun picking up, and, of course, Martin the Great Blue Heron, in all his splendour.

A couple updates to my life - I've now been to one of every one of my classes, and I'm in the midst of figuring out how I'm going to actually accomplish all of this reading. Danice and I are about ready to throw our phone out the window. We have developed relationships with all of the staff at Webcall (who are located, ironically, in Saskatchewan) by means of repeated attempts to get our phone working. As of tonight, we still have nothing. Argh. I don't want to talk about it.

And now, what you've all been waiting for, the top five differences between Vancouver and Saskatoon. If I had ten, I'd put ten. Maybe after I've been here longer I'll notice more.

5. Some green lights here are constantly flashing. I still haven't got a satisfactory answer as to why. I know that they're the lights that only turn red if a pedestrian wants to cross. But we have those in Saskatoon, too, and they don't have to flash. If any Vancouverian reading this blog would like to comment on this, I would be much obliged.

4. In Vancouver, at least what I've seen of Vancouver so far, there are more Starbucks than Tim Hortons. I'm absolutely sure that it's the other way around in Saskatoon. In fact, I have yet to see a Tim Hortons here, though I've been told they exist. But there are intersections here where there are two Starbucks facing each other, and they both seem to be doing excellent business.

3. In Vancouver, you always have to dial the area code. This is because there are two area codes in this city. Danice considers this to be highly embarrassing, because there are cities far bigger than Vancouver that manage just fine with one area code. Oh well. What matters is I learned quickly that when people around here ask for your phone number, you give them 10 digits.

2. Wildlife. Obviously, the marine wildlife I've already discussed in this blog are quite different from the Saskatoon river life. But one thing I didn't know before coming here is that instead of gophers (or for mammalogists like me, ground squirrels) they have black squirrels. Yes, black squirrels scampering across the road. Especially on campus. As an aside, an American student at Regent asked me what a gopher was, and I told him they were a highly-sought-after pet in Canada, but I could get him one for cheap - say, 50 bucks. So could someone trap one for me?

1. Everything is big and green here. There are huge plants everywhere. One of my first comments to Danice when I arrived here (a great first impression) was, "I feel like I'm in that Super Mario Big Land". You know, the world where everything in the scenery is twice the normal size. I've also foolishly asked whether certain trees are real. Danice laughs, because they're obviously rooted in the ground. But monkey trees - ever seen those? Weird. Here's a picture. You'll have to tilt your head again. Apparently, people play "monkey tree no returns" the same way we play "punchbuggy". Also, hedges seem to be a big thing in my area. I walked down one street and thought, you know, this street was probably originally one giant hedge that people cut their yards out of.

0. And I forgot one, so it's number zero. The bus. The bus is electric. These two bars stick out of the top of it and connect to overhead wires that run along main streets. Sometimes the bars fall off and the driver has to use a pole to put them back on. And at least in my area, there is no bus schedule. It's supposed to come frequently enough that you just show up at the bus stop and one will come. From my experience, this is not always the case. Also, if the bus is full, it will just drive right past your bus stop, too bad for you. I have told people that in Saskatoon, if this were to happen, people would be dying of frostbite at every stop. Nobody here seems to care about frostbite.

Well, that's all for now. I'm going to pass these onwards and upwards to David Letterman. Or maybe just Sam, for old time's sake. Ah, the days of top ten lists at the Connection...


P.S. I'd like to give a shout out and huge recognition to Christine Kulyk, who helps me deal with things and listens to me vent so that I write happy, funny blogs instead of sad, depressing ones. You go, girl.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Rock

Hi guys! Well, I've survived a week and a bit here. Today was my first actual day of classes at Regent, which was both exciting and overwhelming. I have a lot of reading ahead of me, and I need to have memorized the Hebrew alphabet by Thursday. But the profs are very engaging and entertaining, which makes me happy. Yesterday was called technical difficulties day at my house, as Danice and I struggled with the frustrations of installing a web-based phone. At one point, due entirely to my own ignorance, I managed to completely uninstall my wireless internet card. We provided many good laughs for my dad, Danice's brother, and the tech guy from the phone company, Rhett, who we got to know quite well. The phone is still not functional, sadly. Maybe tonight... I finally got my bus pass today, so maybe today will be better all around.

What I really want to share with you is a secret place I've made my own, which I affectionately call "The Rock". You get to it by exiting my house, crossing the street, walking across some grass and hopping the fence, very carefully climbing down the cliff (yes, for you avid readers of my blog, this is the infamous site of the split pants), and hanging a right when you hit the sand. I do this every morning.

I've met quite a few creatures since I became a regular at the Rock. Usually I just sit on the Rock and watch them, sometimes taking pictures or looking through my binoculars like the geek that I am. This distracts me greatly from my true purpose for being there, which is reading my Bible and praying. It is hazardous to pray with your eyes open here (for those of you who heard my "talk"). There's so much more going on that's new and interesting to me, and it can take a lot of time to actually be aware of it all. But I think it's worth it.

Let me introduce you to some of the creatures I've met. The guy who thinks he rules the place is Martin, the Great Blue Heron. I got pretty close to him this morning to take his picture, but unfortunately my memory card malfunctioned. He's there pretty much every morning. Then there's Matthew, Mark and Luke, the mallards. Phil the killdeer (that's a kind of wading bird) and Solomon the kingfisher (that's also a bird) come around every once in a while. Two highlights for me... seeing an actual seal or sea lion (I'm not sure which) swimming in the ocean right near the Rock. They swim slowly with their heads out of the water for a minute or so, like they're showing off, then disappear completely. Another highlight is actually experiencing the phenomenon of tides. It was low tide this morning, and I was looking at Martin with my binoculars, and suddenly I realized that he was surrounded by starfish! Maybe this doesn't excite you, but the only place I've seen real starfish outside an aquarium was when I dissected one. Don't worry, I didn't name them all. I haven't named the gulls either - there's too many.

So that's a little taste of the Rock. I'll probably talk more about it as I experience new things there. Soon to come - Top 5 differences between Saskatoon and Vancouver. I'm compiling a list in my head. :)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Not so dilly dally

Hello to all of my varied readers, old and new!

Today I nearly died. Several times. You see, I signed up for a rather innocent looking "Dilly Dally All-Day Hike", an optional activity for first-year Regent students during this first week of orientation. I imagined dillying and dallying around with a few other students, enjoying the fresh air and whatnot. I was a little off in that estimate.

We arrived at the foot of Dilly Dally peak. It was only upon reading the brochure at the bottom that we discovered that Dilly Dally is quite a serious misnomer. In fact, it may have been named sarcastically, or even as a cruel trick to dupe unsuspecting over-eager hikers. The brochure said, "for experienced and fit hikers only". We did no dillying or dallying. What we did was more like rock climbing. The incline was betwen 60-80 degrees the whole way, and it took us 4.5 hours to ascend 1150 m onto the peak. It's the hardest physical thing I've ever done. I can't believe the lactic acid build-up in my legs did not poison my entire body. There were some perks, like this waterfall, Swan Falls (many of you know of my waterfall obsession!) - sorry, you'll have to look at it sideways because I don't know how to flip it. But there was no view from the top. We hiked another three hours back down the same way. I have muscles in my legs I never knew I had until they all started hurting. Rachel and Sarah, I'm glad I didn't inherit your knees, because I would never have made it down. Anyway, the mountain has been re-named by us Regent students: "Dilly Dally Death March".

Haha. The hike was actually gorgeous, and I'm glad I went, because there was so much green, and so much tall. Green and tall. Here are some more pictures I took. We also stumbled upon the set of Smallville, the TV show, taping at the foot of the mountain - they're filming a stunt where Aquaman bursts out of the lake, with a crane pulling him of course. It was pretty cool to see, even though there were no famous actors around.

Well, I have more to say but I don't want to exhaust you. To be continued...

Monday, September 05, 2005

Near-nude experience

Have you ever heard of Wreck Beach? It's Vancouver's only nude beach.

No, I haven't been there. Yet. But I have a pretty good story about Jericho Beach. That's the beach that's right by my house.

This morning, I woke up and I wanted to do my devotions by the ocean for the first time. Last night whilst playing guitar on the beach, Danice and I found a great secret passageway from the park outside our house, over the fence and down to beach level. It's rather steep.

So this morning I went traipsing out with my Bible. There was a man sitting by the entrance to our passageway, which made me kind of self-conscious. But I nonchalantly hopped the fence and proceeded to make my way down this steep slope. Near the end, there's a large step down. I stepped, and I heard a loud ripping sound. It was my pants. I looked down, and the whole crotch area was in two parts. Here is a picture to demonstrate. Yes, mom, these are the ones you fixed. Sorry.

I don't think the guy saw me, but I couldn't go back up there with him watching. So I carried my sweater in such a way that it concealed my area of concern, and set out along the beach, laughing at myself.

The story is not over. I did my devotions, and somehow I got that Steven Curtis Chapman song "Dive" in my head. Now, those of you who have had experience with Steven Curtis Chapman know that his music can have dramatic effects on people. I was staring at the ocean with the lyrics running through my head, "I'm diving in, I'm going deep..." And suddenly, I stood up and took my watch and glasses off, and ran into the ocean with my clothes on.

It was salty and cold, and almost felt like skinny dipping because of the increase in water flow due to the aforementioned pants accident. After a few minutes, I got out and walked back along the beach, again using the sweater, dripping wet. All I can say is I'm glad the beach was very sparsely populated.

So I've had my Vancouver baptism. And I promise to share all of my embarassing experiences with all of you. One more reason to keep tuning in.

P.S. Want to hear the most ironic part? I was washing the ocean off my body in the shower when I realized I was using ocean-scented body wash!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I live in Vancouver now. I arrived yesterday. It's all a little weird.

What a beautiful place to live, though! It's really too good to be true. The trees are everywhere, and they're big. You know on Super Mario Bros. where you go into big world sometimes? Everything is double the size it's supposed to be! I think it's because it rains here. It rained today. It was ok, though. In Vancouver, you have to get used to the rain. Wanna see the view from a block away from my house? Here it is:

Yeah, that's the ocean. I had to taste it to believe it. I went down there with Danice and we played guitar for a while. Danice is my roommate. She's great. She's pretty much been taking care of me. It's weird to have to rely on people so much. I'd really be lost without her help. Literally. Roaming the streets of Vancouver. She took me on the sky-train today, and we bought groceries. The downside is that neither of us can cook. We're going to do a lot of experimenting. Tomorrow we'll go see Regent, and Jordan will come.

Generally, emotionally I'm doing well. It's weird to feel like a tourist but know you're going to have to become familiar with a place. It's weird to know you have some ownership over a piece of a beautiful city that really doesn't feel like it's yours. I miss my family, I miss Chris, I miss everyone else at church - so much . . . it almost feels like physical pain sometimes. I've been trying to distract myself with the excitement of a new place. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I think I will find friends here, but not replacements. Never replacements. If you had a role in my life before now, you cannot slack off. No slacking. It's still your job. I'm hoping you will leave jobs open in your lives for me, too. There will be no lay-offs. This is labor day.

I will keep posting. I miss you.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Blue Moon-Bow Express

Well, I'm getting better at saying goodbye. After I started crying while cutting garlic at Christine's house, I realized that grieving over leaving (haha, that rhymed) was sucking the joy out of my last moments here. So I decided that I'm not going to indulge my self-pity (or legitimate sadness) by crying until Saturday, when I leave. That way I'll have more good times I can look back on with joy. Like tonight - I drove to Pike Lake with Chris, just for kicks, and we saw like a hundred deer. And one rabbit. And one unidentified rainbow-like strip across the night sky that was NOT the Milky Way, that we named a Moon-bow.

So I'm leaving Saturday, at 2:45 PM, from the John G Diefenbaker airport. If you want to come see me cry, you are more than welcome. I will be sending an e-mail out to a lot of you to let you know what my new address will be. If you don't happen to be on my address list and you want my new address, e-mail me and let me know. My e-mail and blog site will remain the same.

In the last couple of days, I've made a few large purchases, and thanks to Evan and Scott who helped me in this. I bought my own acoustic guitar. He is blue, and since 12:30 tonight, he is called "Blue Moon-bow Express". He is travelling to Vancouver right now in Jordan's car. I got a very good deal on him. I also just bought a digital camera, so I will be able to post pictures here on my blog and in e-mails. Here is my first practice picture, of my family tonight.

Aren't they precious? Especially Rachel. Boy, I'm going to miss them. And a whole lot of other people...