Friday, March 24, 2006

Me vs. Vancouver

Vancouver has turned against me. Oh yes, last week it was all romance and sunshine, cherry blossoms and daffodils. But now, it seems that one or two among the vast array of plants I’ve been enjoying has sent little bits of itself to bind to the antibody on my mast cells, causing a histamine release. Yes, I am allergic to beautiful Vancouver.

I have discovered that when you live in a different place, allergies can have different symptoms. I didn’t realize my main symptom until two people in two days told me I looked tired. Argh. I hate hearing that. I wanted to protest, “But I’ve been getting a lot of sleep lately! And I don’t FEEL tired! My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and I’m taking care of it, really I am!” Instead of saying that, I complained to Danice, who told me to disregard these people. The next day, after eight beautiful hours of sleep, I woke up, looked in the mirror, and I looked tired. “Danice, I look tired,” I said. She said the comments of others were going to my head. “No, really, I look tired.” She refused to comply. She’s not very perceptive.

This morning, my eyes were so puffy and red that I went out in the pouring rain to find a medi-clinic. After a morning of searching for a clinic that would take me, and waiting, I found out that no, it’s not pinkeye. It’s allergies. Even if my body has never reacted like that allergically before. Maybe my mast cells are maturing. I wonder which of you plants is the culprit…

I hope it’s not the big-white-flower trees. They excite me. I saw them blooming and I didn’t know what they were, but I told Danice in my seriousest botanical tone, “Those flowers are ancient, because they have many petals and many stamens.” She nodded quite seriously. She is learning a lot from me. I went home and did an internet search on “white flower fuzzy bud” (very serious terminology). Sure enough, they’re magnolias! Magnoliaceae is pretty much the second oldest extant eudicot plant family in the world. I was so right. Thank you, plant taxonomy 323. (I still like to call them big-white-flower trees.)

So Danice and I were thinking maybe if we live together in this house again next year, we might get a pet. We were thinking a pet of the reptilian variety. You see, our landlords don’t like pets, but they’ve allowed fish in the past. Fish are boring. But reptiles go in tanks, like fish. So maybe they’ll be ok with it…

We’ve done a lot of research online for this, looking up geckos and iguanas and chameleons and frogs and newts and anoles and skinks and even giant lizards that don’t fit in tanks. Anything to procrastinate from doing real work. We’ve learned that a lot of them eat insects, a lot of them need heat lamps, and a lot of them give you salmonella. The turtle seems to be our best bet for staying alive and not costing us very much.

The Wikipedia website at was particularly helpful, telling us right off the bat that “A pet is an animal that is kept (mostly by humans) for companionship and enjoyment, as opposed to livestock, which are kept for economic reasons. The most popular are noted for their loyal or playful characteristics or their attractive appearance or song.” Ok, first of all, Wikipedia, did I read that correctly – “mostly by humans”? Mostly? I’m not sure about that. But Danice and I did agree on one thing… if our turtle isn’t loyal, playful, attractive or vocally extraordinary, we’re going to inform everyone who asks about our pet turtle that actually, it’s not a pet, it’s livestock, and we keep it in our home for economic reasons.

Last night I went to an insanely amazing concert by a guy called Trace Bundy. He doesn’t sing, which is good, because instead of learning to sing, he just taught himself to play acoustic guitar in ways previously unknown to humankind. He sounds like three guitar players at once. He abandoned the pick years ago because he found out his fingers were way cooler than a piece of plastic. Some of his songs are entirely hammer-ons and pull-offs. He has one song where he intentionally clutters up the fingerboard with five capos just to introduce obstacles that give him a sense of challenge, and another where he’s constantly pulling off and putting on capos in the middle. If you don’t know guitar, or what a capo is, or how to pronounce it, just know that this guy damaged the egos of every guitar player in that room. You can check him out yourself at , or wait for me to get home and show you the DVD.

Which reminds me, as of tomorrow, I will officially be back in Saskatoon in one month. Crazy! I’m excited because Christine is coming to take me home, and we’ll get to ride on a plane together. And when I get home, my grandma will be there, and I haven’t seen her in five years! First, a couple papers to write, a lot of books to read, a few exams to knock off… and I’d better get over these allergies, because at this rate, you guys won’t even recognize me when I get home.

P.S. This is my fiftieth post! Hooray! In honour of that, here is an eagle in a tree (he's at the top left).

Sunday, March 12, 2006

and this is the sun's birthday

It’s one of those days when you want to wear your sunglasses, even indoors, because it’s your way of supporting the cause of the sun, which seems to be doing so well. The sun was shining on Granville Street as I walked home from church this morning. I had just bought these gorgeous two-toned blue orchids for my roommate Bryanna (happy birthday!), when I heard someone singing. I thought it was a busker, so I crossed the street to see. It turns out it was an older gentleman who was walking down the street, singing in Italian at the top of his lungs. You could have heard him ten blocks away, head thrown back, hands in his pockets, the serious look on his face doing nothing to mask the sheer joy behind his voice. He was singing songs about love, I’m sure. Amore. I slowed my pace so I could walk beside him. I imagined that I was on a street somewhere in Italy, Venice perhaps, being serenaded. I imagined that he was much younger, that he was singing about the way the sun danced in my beautiful red hair. I started to feel as though the flowers in my arms were from my Italian lover.

Further along on my walk home, I was squinting because of the sun, and finally, the tune to that song that I’ve been trying to remember for weeks, Riley’s song “Sunray,” worked its way out of the recesses of my brain. The sun drew it out, I think. I started humming it to myself. What a great summery song. “Keep the day awake, I don’t want it to end…” The birds were singing in the cherry trees (as you can see, I can’t write a whole blog without mentioning birds!) I wanted to sing at the top of my lungs, like the Italian, but I think I have to grow up a bit more before I can be like him, willing to look like a fool for the sake of life and love. An unabashed fool for love. I’m not in love. But this afternoon, I really did feel like I was IN love. Just not with a guy. Certainly not with an Italian senior citizen. In love with a God who blesses me with sun that dances in my beautiful red hair, with cherry blossoms, with two-toned blue orchids, with Riley songs, and yes, with Italian senior citizens who remind me that “all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”.

So it is apparent. Spring has sprung. The only regret I have is that it sprang without melting. There is no thaw here. There is nothing to melt. Melting is inseparable from spring in Saskatoon. (an aside - When you're away from where you grew up, you realize what is not universal, and therefore worth remembering and describing.) There’s the icicles dripping. The ice on the sidewalk with water underneath, so that when you step on it, it creaks and starts fissuring under your feet. There’s an aroma that goes along with it, I can’t quite explain. ee cummings says the air of spring smells of “never and forever”. The meltwater runs into the gutters, making miniature rivers, perfect for toothpick races. You kick blocks of ice down the street (these are the kind that hurt people when accidentally used in snowball fights, and end up getting snowball fights banned from recess). There’s a slushy sludge on the road, and everything is a bit muddy and dirty for a while, because so much gravel and sand has been spread on the roads through the winter to make things less icy. But nobody seems to mind. Everyone goes outside with T-shirts on, just because they can, even if it’s only a couple degrees above freezing. BBQ time.

Rachel reminded me today that I might not actually have to miss this, it may only be happening when I get home at the end of April. Yay! Two springs.

I have just eaten one of the most wonderful cheggels ever cooked (cheese + egg + bagel = cheggel), I am about to enjoy a piece of Bryanna’s peanut butter cheesecake, and tonight, I have just discovered, I’m going to an Arrogant Worms concert. Wow. I’m going to have to get out of this romantic mood into a sillier mood. But romantics are kind of silly anyway.

It seemed fitting to end with an ee cummings poem. He reminds me of the Italian. Unabashed. I found this one this morning. It is about love and seasons. Here also is a picture I'm really proud of, a picture I took of cherry blossoms in Jericho park by my house.

i love you much(most beautiful darling)

i love you much(most beautiful darling)

more than anyone on the earth and i
like you better than everything in the sky

-sunlight and singing welcome your coming

although winter may be everywhere
with such a silence and such a darkness
noone can quite begin to guess

(except my life)the true time of year-

and if what calls itself a world should have
the luck to hear such singing(or glimpse such
sunlight as will leap higher than high
through gayer than gayest someone's heart at your each

nearness)everyone certainly would(my
most beautiful darling)believe in nothing but love

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Do you haiku?

Reading week is done.
The cherry trees are blooming.
It is too silent.

There is my attempt at haiku. I was inspired by the cherry trees, since they remind me of Japan, and haiku comes from Japan. I have never been to Japan, but in Grade 8 I had a substitute teacher who taught us Japanese for a week; it’s all he knew how to teach.

The Japanese word for cherry tree is “sakura”. Another Japanese word I like is "sudoku". Especially when bored in class.

Seriously, though, the cherry trees - they're beautiful. I saw one today and thought it was covered in snow, not blossoms. Whoops, I got Vancouver mixed up with Saskatoon. It's YOU who are all covered in snow. Fifteen more centimeters tonight. Make sure you do not forget to unplug your cars before you leave home, the cord may be covered in snow. Here, the cherry trees are blossoming. I'm not trying to rub it in, really.

I walked around Jericho pond today and it took me an hour, because the red-winged blackbirds were singing and I kept having flashbacks to leading groups of grade 2s around at ecology camp and telling them the song sounded like “conkereee”. My bird book says it’s “okaleee”. Neither does it justice. I saw a common snipe for the first time. He’s currently awaiting a name. (No, Alexa, there is not enough demand currently for a 12-step program for birdaholism.) Lately I’ve been wondering if I shouldn’t just become a professional birdwatcher. I mean, a bird research and field work person. Theology sometimes excites me, but discovering a bird I’ve never seen before always makes my day.

Generally (all bird songs aside), it’s too silent, as my haiku says, because I gave up listening to music for Lent. Mostly in my room – I don’t want to force my roommates to stop listening to music. I had no idea how addicted I was to music in the background, music to get me out of bed, music to distract me from homework. I do a lot more singing to myself now. I feel like a monk. I feel like Brendon. But out of all the things I’ve given up for Lent, I think it’s the best reminder. As soon as I wake up to that awful beeping (as opposed to a well-chosen CD), I remember my sacrifice and His.

Reading week is done, and I have accomplished about as much as I accomplish in a normal week. Hooray. Miles to go. Wonderful miles. Here’s something I read today. Do you agree? “A modern emphasis on the benefits of Christ for us today has deflected interest in the specific character of Jesus’ historical life [and the historical accuracy of the Gospels]. For many Christians it would be sufficient if Jesus had been born of a virgin (at any time in human history, and perhaps from any race), lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death, and risen again three days later.” These are pretty much the only parts of Jesus’ life that Paul focuses on – his death and resurrection. I had never noticed how little Paul refers to Jesus’ teaching or miracles. Interesting. Is the risen, spiritual Christ (with whom you have a living relationship) more important to you than the historical figure? “His existence is important for theology; what he actually did or said is not.”

A couple of pictures should round this off. Here’s one of Hannah and I. Hannah is my professor’s daughter who is British and wonderful. Rachel and I hung out with her one day at her house, and thought it would be quite fun to light one of those easy-light firelogs. We apparently didn’t follow the instructions well, because it looked demonic like that for quite a while. The other one is messianic Rachel, walking on the water. The last one I like to call “Heron City”. Martin posed quite nicely for me.


P.S. Rachel and Daniel, best of luck in your One-Acts! Congratulations, Nick, on being un-deported (re-ported?) back into Canada! Congratulations, Emmanuel Baptist Gospel Choir, on an apparently smashing debut!