Saturday, January 15, 2011

Guelph, Great, Green

Right now I'm in the town of Guelph. A lovely, unique town in Ontario that is very green and friendly. I love its uniqueness and I love my friends who live here.

My friend Becky and I met when I was 13 years old. I had signed up for my first missions trip ever to go to Mexico, with what was then called YMI (Youth Mission International), under the umbrella of MBMSI. I joined as an individual, as did Becky and we ended up on the same team.

Somehow we clicked instantly. Maybe it was our crazy personalities and our zest for life and adventures. But since that trip, we have been friends ever since. Even though she lives in Ontario, we've been able to connect in BC, Ontario and Quebec and every time I am with her, I leave refreshed and encouraged.

We have a lot of great memories and some incredibly random ones too. And she always mentions how I'm the one who taught her you should always go double the suggested speed around corners. I don't quite remember that, but apparently in my younger days, this was some sort of horrible knowledge I imparted to others.

She got married a few years ago and it's been wonderful to see her little family growing. They have a son that is 20 months and another one on the way and I am thankful I can come visit and be a part of their lives and connect with them.

Presently I am waiting for my sheets to dry so I can go to bed. But once again, I am reminded of the many blessings in my life and am grateful for the people I have met along the way who continue to remain in my life.

Perhaps if I pull out my camera while here, I will snap some photos to share, but for now I'm just enjoying catching up, hanging out and playing with the little guy!

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Drifts, Drive, Delights

Snowdrifts are becoming a new favorite thing of mine. I don't know why, but I feel like I am rediscovering my love of winter all over again. The whimsical feeling of snow falling across the streetlamps, piles of snow on houses and vehicles, snow dancing and drifting across the roads and sidewalks, and that biting chill you feel as you step outside, not to mention the nose hairs freezing in cold temperatures.

I love it. Snow has this effect of making me want to dance around and twirl with my arms wide open, taking it all in. Being still in the silence that is created by the barrier of snow over everything. It's wonderful.

The other night it was kind of stormy and wind-blowy (new word) and we went for a drive around the city of Regina. It was delightful (as long as I don't have to drive).

I have heard reports of snow back home, which I was sad to miss, but it's also fun to be in a place where snow is the norm and it just keeps building up as winter continues.

Another thing I am thankful for is friendships. Pre-existing and new. I love my friends and am so grateful I can keep in touch with me via letters, internet and visiting in person. How blessed am I with so many wonderful people in my life! And even further, I am blessed by meeting the friends of my wonderful friends (who are all amazing, as a reflection of those they are friends with).

So today I am thankful for snow. And for meeting new people. And not just shaking their hands and trying to remember their names. But people you can instantly click with, joke around with and laugh with. People you can engage in interesting conversations and learn more about their lives and where they have been.

So these are a few of my favorite things, and I am grateful for these things and more.

And grateful especially for the fact that the snow sparkles like diamonds at every turn. Stunning!

Hope you find delight in some of your favorite things today! I shall continue my Canada friend visiting trek and hope you are loving and enjoying the little delights that each day brings!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Saskatchewan, Snow, Sizzling

Greetings from Saskatchewan!

Saskatchewan is cold. And because Regina has weird rules about where you can park and not being able to have cords across the sidewalks, Bethany was unable to plug in her car last night. And when it's -30 degrees outside overnight, car batteries get killed viciously.

This morning we were all set to go on our trek to Moose Jaw, but the dead car battery stopped us. And when we were unable to jump the car ourselves with a friend's help, we had to resort to ordering delivery pizza, and cozying ourselves in for an indoor day. Remember when you used to have indoor days at school and you just got to stay inside doing fun inside things? That's today and I love it.

Bethany is pretty awesome. We were roommates during my second year at Bible School and I love her dearly. She's been out a few times to visit me and I keep saying I will make it out to Saskatchewan to visit and haven't, so this time I finally did! And I love the wintery snowiness of it! Although I do wish I owned a winter jacket. And I was reminded this morning that jeans are the worst possible article of clothing to wear when it is cold outside. Thankfully the house is nice and toasty with a nice fire going.

I then proceeded to take some pictures from the porch.. because it was slightly warmer than it had been outside.

The one above is one of my favourites.

When Bethany and I were roommates, we used to always wonder why we never fought but most of the other rooms seemed to have big fights. We wondered if it was true that you need to have a good fight to go deeper in a friendship, so we figured, we didn't want to risk it, so we would have staged, pretend fights, that would result in yelling about non-existent problems and throwing clothes at each other. I feel like we've been closer ever since then.

Above is Bethany phoning for help to jumpstart the car. Below is us out for dinner for Japanese which was excellent. I was doubtful at first, but it was super tasty!

And Regina has random art everywhere, including some murals, of which my favourite is pictured below. I also enjoy that there is falling snow in the forefront as well.

There are still a few Christmas decorations up, including some mistletoe, so Bethany and I decided we should probably pose by it...

I love the snowy streets here! Sometimes I wish I lived somewhere with real winter, but I do love it on the West Coast because we have the perfect blend of rainy days and beautiful sunny ones. But it's nice to visit friends who live in real winterland! (except when cars don't start in the morning.. but that just makes for fun indoor days!)

Here's the car jumping in action. Actually this was the failed attempt. A few hours later CAA helped us with getting it started. And then Bethany proceeded to drive around for an hour just to make sure it wouldn't poop out again.

Carmen and Bethany

Classic Saskatchewan license plate. Go Roughriders!

Now onto Ontario, sadly skipping Manitoba. I have loved Saskatchewan and look forward to returning in the summer!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Banff, Birthdays, Being

Birthdays are grand. Some people dread them and wish they would not come as a reminder of one's age. Yet, I think there's something incredibly wonderful about them. A celebration of LIFE. A celebration of YOU. The blessing you are the others, the blessings in one's life, and just the fact that you are alive. So I like birthdays and I like to wish people a happy birthday and to enjoy their birthdays with them.

So, when Jenn told me she was planning a party for her birthday, I was excited, because I had that weekend free to come to Calgary and celebrate as grand as we could and to fill our time with adventure and spontaneity and fun.

To dance, laugh, chat, drive, enjoy beautiful views, eat good food, freeze to death, talk until the wee hours of the morning and so on. Life is beautiful and wonderful and it is delightful to celebrate it with those you love.

I arrived Friday night and after a lot of talking, we finally drifted off to sleep. Then after wishing Jenn a happy birthday 10 million times, we went out for Dim Sum with some friends of hers and with her parents. So tasty! And fun to meet new people as well!

And I decided I need to find a dim sum place I like back home. Because it's tasty and super fun and you can try random and new things. Like when I was walking out, I noticed chicken legs and feet. Maybe next time...

After brunch, we headed to Banff with lindie. I love jokes that keep going, make themselves into new forms and then you find signs about them. A few years ago, Lindie met a guy from bible school when we were in the states. And somehow in the course of the conversation, she told him "your state is kind of dumpy." Anyway.. we have not stopped bugging her since and when we saw this sign, we thought it was absolutely perfect.

Cedric also had fun walking around Banf, but he met some menacing characters...

This toque was exceptionally warm and perhaps would have kept me far warmer than I was. Wearing really thin sweatshirts in very cold weather = dumb idea.

Lindie was so excited to go to the candy store, until she found out she couldn't buy any pez.

Banff was chilly, but stunning at every turn and fun to walk around and explore and see waterfalls. I love the excitement of being with friends on an adventure and how the possibilities of what you can do open up and every single thing that is mentioned sounds great and after a while, every sentence is started with, "Next time, let's..." I love the prospect of next time and the wonderful fun things we shall continue to do and to simply enjoy the moment and the randomness of it all.

We were turning a corner, and suddenly a whole row of elk came out of the woods! How delightful and well-timed!

And since Jenn and I have a tradition of seeing nice country churches when we're together, we decided to stop at this historic spot for a couple photos!

And of course, one must always try on animal toques and take photos when they are around.

And funny glasses would be included in that category as well.

Then after getting good and cold (which only took 5 seconds, but why not let it really sink in over a few hours?), we went to Banff Hot Springs.

It was wonderfully warm and comfortable with a nice view of trees, mountains and dusk all around.

The best part? Cedric (the gnome) joined us in the pools and helped us meet some people. Started some good conversations and they even wanted to take a picture with Cedric as well. He's a pretty popular guy.

And then we drove to Calgary into very snowy random drifts and windyness. A part of the trans-canada was even closed because it was so nasty. Then Aussie Rules, a dueling piano bar in the evening, where we met up with a bunch of Jenn's friends. I got to chat with her friend who had been to New Zealand for a few months and loved it, so it was super fun to share stories and our joint love of such a beautiful place. Made me want to go back. asap.

Sunday was a relaxing day and then we went to my friend Jacquelyn's for tea in the afternoon and then for dinner to one of my most favourite restaurants (glad I have fave restaurants in Calgary) with my cousin and her boyfriend.

Then I headed to the airport where flight delays made me happy for once in my life because I got to see my dear friend Anne who was passing through the airport on her way back to Edmonton. And after saying goodbye to her and boarding my flight, I got to see her an hour later, when I had to get off my broken plane and wait to board a different one.

All in all a delightful time in Alberta. I arrived in Saskatchewan at 2:00am in the wee hours of monday morning. -16 temperatures and snowyness welcomed me and I embraced them! And spending 3 full days with an old roommate whom I love dearly sounds delightful! I think we shall perhaps even go visit a giant moose soon!! Yippee! :)

Hope you are all enjoying your week!