Porpoise Bay Hike

When we discovered that our favourite thrift store in Gibsons is closed on Mondays, Peter and I decided to go on a short hike instead. This was one he had had never done before and hike is perhaps a generous term for it although there was a fair bit of uphill. We headed to Porpoise Bay Provincial Park, a place I actually camped at when I was a kid. My memories of that camping trip are as follows:

1. It rained the entire time. (This may or not be true.)

2. My brother and I fought the whole time. (This is very likely true).

3. We played Monopoly in the tent while it rained. (I’ve seen a photo.)

4. We hiked for hours. (Apparently it was only about one hour. It felt like days.)

Yesterday’s hike wasn’t the most picturesque I’ve ever been on. The temperature is dropping around here but it remains very dry. There was a lot of brown in the forest.

This would be a bad place to smoke. Were I inclined to smoke while hiking.

There were some spots of colour too!

This is an area that’s been logged in recent years and is growing back now so it lacks the dense undergrowth and huge trees that a lot of B.C. (fortunately) still has.

Autumn is coming!

We kept seeing these weird, clearly man-made structures scattered the woods. My husband helpfully identified them as bunkers for paintball.

Clearly, Pete’s an expert. I’ve never been paintballing but it’s pretty popular around here because there are so many places to run around in the forest.

When we returned home there was a package with my name on our doorstep. I had no idea what it contained. Here are my steps for receiving a surprise package:

1. Order something you want on-line. Do it kind of on a whim because you see a good deal while looking for something else.

2. Promptly forget complete about this order. It helps to be in the middle of packing and moving.

3. Order from some mystery company in Ontario so your purchase takes a really, really long time to arrive.

4. Spend the summer wishing you had the very thing you ordered. Continue to forget that you have already bought this item.

5. Open up your mystery package and realize that you’re kind of an idiot.

What do you think? Did I need new shoes? Truthfully, I am very rough on my shoes. I’m excited to have some new ones.

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Stories about Pie

Isn’t it kind of crazy that this:

Can become this:

Baking pies has always seemed to me the epitome of domesticity. Good pie crust seems like such a simple thing but it is not an easy achievement. I’ve tried a number of different recipes and I think this apple pie was one of my more successful ones. I used a variation on this recipe. (If you’re looking for a good recipe website, I almost always have luck with The Pioneer Woman, particularly when it comes to classic, homestyle cooking.) My favourite part of the recipe I followed though was her tip on rolling out your dough between two sheets of parchment. It worked so well! Using parchment meant I didn’t have to handle the dough as much or add a lot of flour to keep it from sticking. Two downfalls my pastry always seems to run into. For the pie filling, I just kind of threw stuff together until it tasted good.

(Funny true story about me: As a child I refused to eat any pie but meat pie. I only liked meat pie. Which is bizarre because I definitely have a sweet tooth and always have. But I even refused to eat my Oma’s homemade pies and everyone knows that Oma pies are the best! I really don’t know where this conviction come from or what changed it but I definitely enjoy all kinds of pies now.)

This all sounds pretty wholesome, doesn’t it? Picking apples, baking pie. Well, I’ll go one better…while I picked apples, a butterfly landed on my face. One of those little white ones* that are very common around here. I want to say it was a magical moment but in truth I just had a twitchy freak out because a bug was on my face. I’m not terrified of insects by any means but I certainly prefer for them to respect my personal space.

(* Moth update: After a little research I think it was actually a Satin Moth. So, less magical, I suppose. )

Speaking of my face…If any teenagers are reading this, let me be the first to tell you that pimples will continue to happen to you, even when you’re closer to 30 than 20. They just do. Sorry. Consider yourself warned.

Some Spam Tastes Better Than Others

Since I’ve started this blog I’ve received hundreds of comments. Hundreds of spam comments that is. (I’ve received real comments from actual people too and those are far, far better. Keep ’em coming!) Many of them don’t make sense, many of them tell me about supposed missed opportunities, some of them are funny/weird and I thought I’d share them. Along with my own reaction, of course!

1.  nice blog. lista de emails lista de emails lista de emails lista de emails lista de emails 

I’ve gotten a few like this and they always make me laugh. I can’t help but read this in the voice of Strong Bad from homestarrunner.com when he would check his e-mail. What happened to that site?

2. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! By the way, how can we communicate?

I’m not sure we can communicate because although you are using English words, I have no clue what you’re saying. Also, you’re a robot. Nice use of the word auspicious though.

3. Have you heard about Google sniping ? there is a buzz about it right now . Basically its an alternative to blogging NOBODYSDEAD.COM check it out and tell me what you think please

This is obviously a scam. Also, you can’t say there’s a buzz about something that I’ve never, ever heard of. I don’t live under a rock. There is no buzz. Why did you put your website in all caps? It looks threatening, even though it’s saying something nice. (False, but nice.)

4. This next one is long but full of good, crazy stuff. I’ve condensed it as much as possible. The spam stuff is bolded, my thoughts are not.

Around . everyone considers psychics, a lot of may not. Pardon? It’s possible is really because the reason there are many clarifications in regards to psychics is that there are many everyone labeled grow to be psychics which have been nothing but scammers…This goes on for a long time. It reads like the opening paragraph to an extremely poorly written essay on psychics. Namely, the difficulty in ascertaining a “true” psychic.
Psychic Source is regarded as the main and furthermore most well-known Psychic companies. This could very well be true, I could not name a psychic company to save my life. And may all across for 25 years and years issuing books. Delivers cellular phone books. Wait, you’ve lost me. You’re a psychic company that delivers cellular phone books? Are those different than a regular phone book? It goes on here to talk about psychic companies going on airlines, arranging hotlines and fleecing clients. I’m no longer sure if they’re talking about themselves or a different company. Then the essay switches focus drastically…Countless overweight people have become a couple of most important substances that controls Psychic Source away from various other Psychic companies. There are so many things wrong with this sentence. I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t refer to people as a substance. It makes it sound like you’re going to eat them. How do “countless” people become only a couple of substances. Are you blaming overweight people here or saying that they’ve saved your company? At this point in the “essay” I’m getting a headache trying to figure out what they mean. Let’s skip to the end where they share “testimonials” from people who are totally not made up.

I will declare that all of the books I became was probably far from universal, along with Psychic You became a book using this program? That’s, that’s crazy. I don’t know what to say. I guess if I became a book I would want to be a unique book and probably far from universal. My wife and i spoke with not simply have cellular phone individuals our family suitable This sentence goes on to make less and less sense and to culminate with the phrase “little inlaws” but there does seem to be a weird fascination with celullar phones here. I will genuinely point out that I became incredibly shocked with all the checking My wife and i were given. I think that maybe this “person” is trying to say that he got a lot of money (cheques?) somehow? Test drive it your true self. This is my new favourite sentence. If I ever go to a car lot and they tell me to “test drive it your true self”, I will automatically buy that car.

Please click here To vacation at The very Psychic Source Web-site This must be the most amazing website ever.

5. And one last quickie…

Its like men and women are not fascinated unless it is something to accomplish with Woman gaga!

My academic education insists that I explain that this sentence is taken out of context. However, it makes even less sense in context. I think that they are referring to Lady Gaga here, right? I mean, that’s the only way it makes even a modicum of sense.

Summer Holds On

Lately…

Jellyfish are throwing themselves to a certain death on the rocks. I’d feel bad about it but jellyfish are jerks.

Photo Credit: Peter

The weather continues to be amazing. The beach gets quieter and quieter though now that the weekend folks/holidayers aren’t around.

That heron didn’t stick around to hang out with us but did leave behind some cool footprints.

I walked on water. (No. Not really. Sorry for the blasphemy.)

Simple and delicious meal on the beach. Please note: my father-in-law makes amazing focaccia bread and my mother-in-law makes delicious balsamic dip to go with it and I ate a lot of both.

I ate an apple that I picked from a tree outside my front door. It was delicious. Also, we have to pick them before bears notice them and start hanging out in our yard. (The Sunshine Coast is different than the city! We had fruit trees when I was a kid but only birds came into the yard to eat them.)

I took five ferries in three days and got to hang out with a whole bunch of beautiful ladies that I like a lot and miss a lot, as well as celebrate the impending nuptials (that word got used a lot this weekend!) and imminent end of her life as a single lady of a dear friend.

Oh, and I also got to steer a ferry.

Small Town Perils

Some things are different when you live in a small town. I’m learning to adjust to the lack of anonymity you have when you live in a town of approximately 8, 500 people (that’s rounding up). Since I don’t know that many people yet I still find it charming to run into an acquaintance downtown. But sometimes you want to run errands in private.

I’m attending a bachelorette party this weekend and so this afternoon I headed to the pharmacy downtown to buy items of an, um, intimate nature for my friend who is about to be married. In truth, I’m sort of awkward about buying such items no matter where I am. I’m a bit of a prude about some things, I guess. As I arrive downtown I remember that every time I’m there I run into someone I know. Often someone from church. Someone I know drives by on the main street and waves. I wave back, already feeling awkward.

I head into the pharmacy and pretend to look at shampoo. I’m tempted to buy a decoy product so that if I do see someone I can pretend that’s what I came for and hide my real purchase behind my back.

No, Karissa. You are a grown woman. You’re married. Who cares if people think you’re buying, um, intimate items for yourself?

Everybody in this town knows my in-laws.

I sneak into the “Family Planning” aisle. (Why on earth is that what they decided to call it?) I peruse my options while pretending to look at First Aid items next to the section. I try and look interested in a rubber ear dropper while peeking sideways at the “Family Planning” section.

Dammit, Karissa, be a grown-up!

I gather my courage and I bravely crouch down to check some items closer. Pregnancy tests are stocked on the bottom shelf. (For pregnant women to see as they feel nauseous and bend over?) Perfect, I think. If I see someone I know, I’ll pretend to look at pregnancy tests. Being pregnant is wholesome, right?

Wait….then they’ll think I’m pregnant.

I’m not pregnant.

That’s a rumour that could spread quickly.

People might start congratulating me.

Then I’ll feel fat.

Moral of the story: I’m paranoid. I didn’t run into anyone I know. Small towns are okay.

Also, I really don’t know that many people here. Talk to me again in a year or so.

“One holy, catholic, and apostolic Church”

The above title is quoted from the Nicene Creed, a statement of belief I learnt as a child in the Anglican church. Here’s a true story: I repeated this creed in church long before I ever knew what it really meant. When we got to this line, I wouldn’t say it. I thought it meant I believed in the Roman Catholic church and I knew I didn’t. I have Catholic family so I had nothing against Catholics, I simply thought I shouldn’t say out loud I believed in the Catholic church because I knew I wasn’t Catholic. It wasn’t until years later that I learnt the true definition of catholic. Namely, universal. In the Nicene Creed, “catholic” refers to the church as a whole, worldwide.

I’ve been thinking a lot about church lately. More specifically, what is the purpose of the church and why do I go?

I’ve gone to church for different reasons at different points in my life. I went because my family went. I went because my friends went. I went because the boy I liked would be there. I went to make friends. I went because I had obligations to fulfill. I went because I wanted to worship God. I went to be taught and to learn. I went because it felt like family there, because it was my community. I went because I didn’t feel like going and those were the days I knew I needed it the most.

Most of those are okay reasons. Some more okay than others.

I’ve been really blessed by the church and I’ve been hurt by the church too. I think, if Christians are honest, most of us have. It breaks my heart when I hear of people so hurt by the church that they refuse to return. At the same time I think, “Yeah, I can see how that happens.” I’ve been offended and I’m sure I’ve offended people. (Actually, I know I have because I’ve been told I have.) I’ve gone to churches where people have poured into my life and really blessed me. I’ve gone to churches where no one spoke to me.

Recently God has really been convicting my heart about the purpose of church. I’d gotten into a space where I expected certain things from a church.

I expected people to be friendly and welcoming.

I expected a Bible study or home group to provide me with fellowship and friends.

I expected strong, Biblical preaching that spoke to my heart each work.

I expected worship leaders who were musically talented and who led worship that moved me.

Let me be clear that those are all good things. I still think that a healthy and thriving church will have those things. But I know many churches don’t. That doesn’t make them worthless or bad churches. Instead, what I’m realizing, is that we may be called to stay at those churches and help them become healthy and thriving, rather than walking out and finding a church that already fits our ideal.

The church is made up of people. Human beings. Flawed, sinful human beings. Here on earth the church will never, ever, ever be perfect. It will never quite live up to God’s kingdom. Our hearts know this. This is why we are so often hurt and disappointed by the church. There may be Sunday mornings (or Saturday evenings or Wednesday afternoons or whenever your church meets) where it seems like Heaven opens up and we see a glorious glimpse of what church was meant to be. Those times may be few and far between. I’ve cried because church is so good and I’ve cried because church is so disappointing.

What God has laid on my heart these past few weeks and why I’m writing this quickly-lengthening post is that I’m looking at church from the wrong direction. I’ve been looking at church from the angle of, “What can this church provide me?” when I should be looking at it as, “What can I do for the church? What can I do to glorify God with this group of believers?”

It isn’t about me needing to do things for God. He doesn’t need me to do things for Him. My God, who created the stars in the sky, doesn’t need me to teach Sunday School or bake cookies for a church fundraiser. Those are human needs and in participating, I get to be a part of God’s work. Not because He needs it but because He loves me and wants to share His goodness and grace with me and, more often than not, I grow by doing these things.

Basically, after all this rambling, what I want to say is, I’m learning to be committed to the flawed Church. (Capitalized because I’m taking about that “catholic church” thing from up above, not as any one particular church.) If I don’t think I’m getting out of Church what I should, maybe it’s because I’m not putting in what I should. I need to be committed to the Church, not because the Church has been good to me but because I am a part of the Church and because the Church is precious to God.

(Side note: There are definite and tragic cases of abuse in churches and I am by no means advocating commitment to abusive or controlling churches or to those that don’t follow and preach the Bible. I’m talking here about your normal, flawed but still God-desiring, Spirit-seeking, Bible-following Church.)

In discussing this with someone recently they mentioned something Oswald Chambers wrote. I went home and read the passage (it’s found in the daily devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, which is a great devotional.) Here’s an abridged version of it:

We are to be fountains through which Jesus can flow as “rivers of living water” in blessing to everyone. Yet some of us are like the Dead Sea, always receiving but never giving…As surely as we receive blessings from Him, He will pour out blessings through us. But whenever the blessings are not being poured out in the same measure they are received, there is a defect in our relationship with Him….Stay at the Source, closely guarding your faith in Jesus Christ and your relationship to Him, and there will be a steady flow into the lives of others.

For reference the Bible passages Chambers draws on here are John 4:14 and John 7:38.

This is what I want. Not to go to church that others might bless me (that might happen and if it does, it will be great) but to stay at the “source”, to draw close to my Saviour, and from there to see the abundance that He provides and to (hopefully) bless others. I don’t know what that abundance, that “river” might look like. It might look exactly like what I hope for, it might not.

Another side note/disclaimer: I’ve read over this post a few times and I feel nervous about posting it because I understand a blog is a public forum and there are people who know me personally who read or might read this blog. I think there is a lot of offense in the Church (people offending others, intentionally or not, and people feeling offended) and it’s not at all my intention to add to that. I’m not talking about any single church here so if you read this and we’ve ever been at a church service together, please don’t read into this too personally. I can say good and bad things about every church I’ve ever attended or visited but, really, I have mostly good things to say. I have, by and large, been very blessed by the Church. (Both in the world-wide sense and in the individual sense.)

So why post all this then? Because this is how I feel and I believe my feelings are valid. Yours are too! Because this is a tiny smidgen of my experience within the church. Because I believe it’s important not to idolize the church or act like flaws don’t exist within it. Because I’ve been going to church my entire life and I’ve seen church ministry up close and that’s been a good and a bad thing for me. Mostly a really good thing. Because maybe this will encourage someone else. Maybe not. But it helps me to write this down and put it out in the world.

Mostly I want to post this because this is honestly what God’s placed on my heart recently and I want to share that.

Thrifting on the Sunshine Coast

This is a bit of an overdue post but I guess now I can say I was waiting for summer to end in order to give you a more complete overview (or something like that!). I’ve done some good thrifting since moving to the Sunshine Coast in July and I’d like to share some of my finds with you.

It’s been a good summer for books (as if I really need more books!) I love shopping secondhand bookstores but my heart really belongs to Russell Books in Victoria. My years there more than doubled my shelves.

Books I’ve bought 2nd hand this summer:

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon
(Bought from Community Treasures Thrift Store in Gibsons)

The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver

Every Man Dies Alone, Hans Fallada

Fugitive Pieces, Anne Michaels

The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant (I’m working my way through this tome (not pictured) currently and it’s so good. I’m kicking myself for not reading Gallant’s stories about 6 years ago.)

All 4 of those titles were purchased at the Sechelt Friends of the Library Sale.

Requiem for  Nun, William Faulkner

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan

Oscar and Lucinda, Peter Carey

Consolation, Michael Redhill

The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Those 6 titles (as well as a couple purchased as gifts) were found at the Roberts Creek Library Sale. (And in case telling you I bought books as gifts makes me sound really generous, they were $1 each. Also, I know library sales aren’t really thrift stores but they are awesome and you should support your local library.)

A Gate at the Stairs, Lorrie Moore (book review coming soon)

That last one was bought from St. Mary’s Thrift Store in downtown Sechelt.

I’ve bought a few things for my house:

Ramekins (from St. Mary’s) and an apple peeler (from Community Treasures). My Oma and my mom had apple peelers like this and I loved using them when I was a kid. Currently most of my kitchen stuff is in storage but when we settle back into our own place eventually, I look forward to using these.

This bowl that looks like a flower (from St. Mary’s). I did not buy the apples used. There were also about a dozen tiny bowls that looked like this one and I wanted to buy them but I just couldn’t justify it or come up with a reason I might need a dozen tiny bowls. I kind of have a thing for pretty bowls though.

I bought a few fall accessories:

The scarves are from The Wildlife Thrift Store in Vancouver. The gloves are from St. Mary’s. I neither seek out nor completely avoid leather and I wasn’t looking for leather gloves. But I picked these up and tried them on in the store and they fit like, well, a glove. Which doesn’t happen to me much because I have kind of small hands. Also, they cost $1.50.

On the clothing front I did pretty well too. I don’t have pictures because a) I’m not a good enough photographer (especially with my busted camera) to take pictures of clothes by themselves that are nice to look at and b) I feel weird taking pictures of myself in said clothes and posting them here. This is the closest you’ll get:

That’s Peter and I in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago (eating poutine) and I’m wearing a dress I bought at Salvation Army. My jacket was not thrifted. But Peter’s shirt was.

Oh, and in case you were wondering what we did with all those blackberries we’ve been picking…

We made blackberry tarts!

P.S. I linked to each of the thrift stores I mentioned partly so if you’re ever in this neck of woods you’ll know where to shop and partly because I believe in supporting these kinds of charities. I haven’t researched extensively on the various charities they support so I can’t promise I endorse everything they represent. What I do know about them is good stuff though. And if I can buy clothes and the money I spend goes to helping someone else, that’s pretty cool.

A Lesson I Don’t Want to Learn

So…my camera broke yesterday. It was sad. Turns out, it doesn’t end so well if I fall directly on it. It does still take pictures but the view screen is busted. Which means I have to hold the camera up to my face to take a picture. This isn’t necessarily a hardship but it’s definitely not as convenient. Plus, without the screen it’s almost impossible to change the settings and that’s a pain. But I guess I know what to ask for for my birthday. And Christmas. And my birthday next year.

I’d love to upgrade to a DSLR and have been wanting to for some time. I’d do it in a heartbeat if they weren’t so expensive but it looks like I’ll be stuck with a busted-up point-and-shooter for a little longer.

In the end though, it’s just a thing. And while things are nice to have and they can make our life easier and more enjoyable, they are not what our life consists of. I guess this is a lesson I need to keep learning.

I was able to use my camera last night to take some pictures out on the boat while Peter and his dad fished.

We also picked more of these delicious guys!

We found a spot where blackberries pretty much reigned supreme.

Welcome to September

If August means apples then the beginning of September means blackberries.

This time last year Peter and I were still in Victoria. We decided to pick blackberries and headed to the park nearest our home. We did not find a single blackberry. Though delicious, blackberries are an invasive species to BC and so a lot of the parks in Victoria work hard to keep them out. Of course there were always blackberries in Beacon Hill but I’ve seen dogs pee on them so…

Throughout the winter in Chilliwack, I would make mental notes of places I saw blackberry bushes and plan to return come the end of summer. It got me through some cold, snowy days.

Earlier this week Peter and I spotted a plethora of ripe blackberries down the beach from us. I ate a lot of them and went back today to pick more. I really should have brought a ladder since many of them were out of my reach but I did what I could.

Oh yeah, I braved danger to pick those berries! I probably ate too many earlier this week though since my haul wasn’t quite what I hoped. I have my eye on another spot nearby though so perhaps in the next few days.

Because our good news is that our plans for the coming year are finally settled. We are definitely staying in Sechelt!

I haven’t talked much about it on the blog but Peter and I have spent the summer in an odd (but lovely) state of flux, hoping and praying that we stay on the Sunshine Coast but waiting to see how things worked out. We were hopeful that things would work out for us to stay but also wanted to be open to the fact that God might have different plans for us. And that would have been okay. In fact, that would have been great because God’s plans are good. Of course, it’s easier to say that on this side of the summer, when things have worked out just as I hoped. But honestly, I’m thankful for our summer, just as it was. I don’t love living in a state of not knowing; I like having plans. But God has been teaching me to trust in Him, that no matter where we live, He will provide. Even if His provision doesn’t look like what I think I need.

Sechelt First Nation totem poles.

Not that this is a lesson I’ve finished learning. I think it’s likely I’ll keep struggling with this one for, oh, the next 80 years or so. Maybe when I’m 106 I’ll have it down.

In the meantime, I get to keep enjoying this for a while longer.

Seriously, that’s today. Summer is not over yet.

And here’s a few more from the last week.

Also sunflowers! September needs to mean sunflowers too!