Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday morning tidbits

  • I love the comic strip For Better or For Worse. I read it daily for years, and have picked it up again over the last year or so. I've watched these people ahem, characters grow and change over the years and followed their lives storylines. Today's strip was the last one, and I totally sat at my computer and cried over it. Over a COMIC STRIP. I'm such a dweeb!

  • As I was doing the dishes, I had TLC's "Rock the Reception" on and watched two couples do a fabulously awesome choreographed dance to surprise all their guests at their respective weddings, and can I just say that I SO want to do something like that at my wedding. Should it ever happen. Bah!

  • I don't know why, cause things like this rearely bother me, but the lady on TV now keeps talking about all the "ashoshiashons" she's involved in. The blahbitty blah ashoshiashon and the blipitty bloo ashoshiashon and the ashoshiashon of bleppity blep. It's ASSOCIATION, lady! No "sh!" Noooooo SH! And she keeps saying it! And it's driving me nuts! (And I really need to get a life!)

  • Some friends and I are attempting to do a hike today I've been trying to do all summer. First I couldn't get anyone together. Then it was pouring rain (which isn't so bad, we went hiking anyway, but climbing steep exposed rock in the rain is not such a good plan!). Today is attempt number three. We have people. We have sun. Let's see what happens.

  • Happy Saturday!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Too bad he's interested in Olga

... or I would TOTALLY date him! After all, there is nothing wrong with him. - Watch more free videos

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rebirth, part seven: Alive!

Mini Camp (045)

From the time I signed up to work at Kawkawa for a week as a cabin leader, I was open to the possibility that things would be very different than what I had remembered. I was open to change, to something new. And when my friends dropped me off after our camping trip, I didn't really know what to expect.

I was nervous, actually. Overwhelmingly happy to be at camp - with kids, not just for work days!!! - don't get me wrong, but nervous. I hadn't worked at camp since I had become a teacher. What if I couldn't put the "teachery" me away and just be a camp counselor again? And really. I remember going to camp as a kid. There was always one counselor who was significantly older than everybody else, and I always prayed I wouldn't end up in the "old counselor's" cabin. And now? I WOULD BE THAT GIRL! hahaha! Seriously! Most of the staff were aged 16-20! Gak! (They were awesome!)

The age thing really wasn't an issue, and I found it was good to have a few teacher tricks in my pocket for one or two little monkeys. When their sixteen year old counselor was having no success in getting Mr Monkey to comply and he was at the end of his rope, I whipped out the teacher voice. "Mr. Monkey... that's ONE. " He looked at the counselor, looked at me, and did as he was told immediately. Is it wrong that I totally loved the fact that the counselor, poor kid, just looked at me like I was magic or something? Tee hee hee!

Ah, but I digress. I was prepared for new, for different. But what there was was the same Kawkawa I had always known - new faces, updated songs, yes, but it was so very recognizable as CAMP. It was still Kawkawa. The same schedule, the same traditions, the same games and shenanigans... the same God continuing to work in all kids of amazing ways. It felt so very good to be there.

I had five girls in my cabin - three aged 7 and two aged 9 - and they were awesome! I couldn't have asked for a better group of girls. We swam and ate and played and kayaked and sang and shot rifles and did crafts and giggled and caught frogs... and learned one more time about how deep God's love runs.

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Some highlights:

* The first night at campfire, I stood there, in that place I never thought I'd be in again, singing, doing all manner of goofy actions, watching the campers, and working so very hard at not bawling my eyes out as joy welled up inside me.

* My girls rising to every challenge and pushing themselves farther than they thought they could go - from extreme homesickness to maneuvering a kayak to holding a snake to sticking with a friend in a hard time to getting up in front of a group to do drama for the first time... they were so brave, and I was so proud of them!

* Singing with "Tang" our junior counselor in the cabin and one of my girls asking if we could sing the song (a version of Amazing Grace) at campfire. "Tang" played the guitar and all five girls sang in front of everyone. They were amazing! ... And I'm not just saying that - I know how off key kids can sing, but these girls sang together, on pitch, beautifully! All I did was hold the flashlight for them. They sounded like angels!

* Surprising my girls with a sleep-out on the last night of camp. I set up a tarp and after campfire and the outdoor movie, we dragged our sleeping bags, pillows and all-important stuffies down to the beach for a night of star-gazing and outdoor awesomeness. Being the beginning of August, there were lots of shooting stars, and it was SO much fun to hear the girls get all excited as they watched. A few of them had never seen a shooting start before! We lay there, watched, and talked about how amazing God's creation is. Falling asleep under the stars... there's not much better!

* Waking up around 4:30am on the beach to very VERY loud rumbling: a thunder storm was rolling in. I lay there for a moment, waiting for the rain, but there was none. Lightning came, far away at first, but I could tell the storm was coming closer. Do I wake the girls, or will it stay away? Gradually I began to feel a drip......................... drip......................... drip............... drip........... drip..... drip.... drip... drip.. drip. Faster and faster the drops began to fall so I sprang to my feet to wake the girls up. Not wanting to scare them (how on EARTH were they still sleeping through this thunder???), but also needing to wake them and get back to the cabin quickly, I began to call, "Girls! Wake up! It's starting to rain! We need to go inside. Giiiiirllllls... Wake up!" Once they realized there was a crazy storm going on - it was L-O-U-D and RIGHT on top of us: bolts of lightning shot through the sky and cracks of thunder sounded simultaneously with light that lit up the whole beach - they got a little nervous, but I just laughed and told them, "What an ADVENTURE!!!" Uhhhh.... yeah... an advennnnnture! We wrapped our stuff around us and scurried up the hill to the cabin. The storm was right on top of us, and it was by far the loudest thunder storm I have ever heard in my entire life. One crack of thunder sounded like an explosion - just one big, err.... thunderous BANG! We got back into the cabin JUST in time for the skies to open and it started to absolutely MONSOON. The rain on the tin roof was nearly deafening, not to mention the continuing thunder and blazing lightning. After about a half an hour, the rain had eased and the storm was fading farther and farther away. The girls had calmed down and fallen back asleep around 5:30am. We woke up a very few short hours later to blue skies, the soaking wet ground and drip-drip-dripping trees the only evidence of the insanity that had passed through earlier that night.

At camp, there's always SOMETHING!

It was such a privilege to be there - to be there for Kawkawa's first summer back, to have such fantastic girls in my cabin, to get to be a part of this ministry that I love with all my heart.

Kawkawa is alive once more! I can't wait to see what God will do there in the years to come.

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View the full photo set here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

And so begins my year...

Today was the first day I stepped into my new class in my new school. The kids don't start for another week, but unless there really ARE such things as magical fairies, those boxes aren't gonna unpack themselves.

So up I got, much earlier than my body wanted me to, got myself dressed, and went in to work. A new year, a new school, new staff members to meet, new kids to teach. While there's some aspects of same-ness in the new school year (I've been teaching for five years now and I've taught this grade before), it's still a little like starting a new job. I was trying to have a good attitude about it, cause my heart is still very much with my school. You'll notice I still refer to it as "my school." I can't quite call it my "old" school yet.

I drove all the way there - my new commute takes me almost directly past my [old] school - pondering, thinking, reflecting... I had gotten myself into a rather philosophical state as I parked, found an unlocked door, and wandered my way into the office to introduce myself and to get the key to my new room.

When I waled in, there was just one lady in the office, looking out the window. And so it begins, thought I, as I said hello and got her attention.

I introduced myself, she told me her name, and then, motioning towards the window, said, "Uh, we're just having a bit of a bird situation here."

A what?

A bird situation indeed.

I looked out the window on to a sort of enclosed roof area - the four walls of the school rose another story over the roof, making kind of an open-topped cube-like area. On the roof - the bottom of the "cube" - were two young seagulls who had fallen in and gotten stuck. They must have been too young to fly, but they kept trying anyway. They'd flap their wings and get about two feet off the ground, but then would smack into the window or the brick wall with a sickening thud. Out ON the roof trying to help them was the principal, holding a fraying, patchy grey blanket that he was using to try to catch them. The seagulls would hurl themselves against the wall, he'd try to cover them with the blanket and grab them, they would shriek and flap and get away, and he'd be left empty handed.

And of course, where there are babies, there are parents. On the top of the walls of the school watching this all unfold were two very, very angry adult seagulls who were shrieking at him with sounds I didn't know seagulls were capable of making - it was almost like they were barking. He'd try to catch the young birds, they'd flap and try to fly and hurtle themselves into the wall, the adults would bark louder and occasionally dive bomb him, and the whole cycle would repeat.

As I watched all this chaos unfold, the lady I had initially said hello to turned to me and laughed. "Welcome to our school. This is a pretty good indication of what it's like here."

Oh, I can sense some stories coming on! hehehe!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Backlogged Blog Be Gone!

Well. How to catch up on a whole month full of shenanigans, photos, and adventures? Who knows. But I'm betting there'll be bullets. Not the bang-bang kind, silly billy, the listy kind. And hoo boy, will there be photos. Here's installment one...

After summer school ended, I was super-de-duper eager to get out of the city and spend some time in the mountains. I had a group together, and we were going to go up past Whistler to backpack, but, as you may recall, there was a mountain on the road. We quickly did some last minute research (thanks, Jon, for your tip!) and went up to the Coquihalla canyon instead, about a 2.5 hour drive east of Vancouver...

I'm only half heartedly apologizing here for the mass quantity of photos in this post (heaven help you if you're on dial-up, sorry!), but whatever, it was AMAZING, and between the nine of us, six cameras, and three days, there were over 1200 photos taken (I may or may not have been responsible for over half of those... shut up!). These represent only a mere smattering of the awesomeness that was the August long weekend! Click any photo to see a larger version, or, if you're a sucker for punishment, click here to see the full photo set on flickr.

* Hiked in to a wilderness campsite on the shore of Falls Lake, set up, chilled out, and tootled around. Ken decided to forego the first aid kit for a hammock and water guns, so we had some fun with those, too. (Yes, we DID have other first aid kits! :P )

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* Hiked up an ATV trail to find a long pipeline path covered in fields and fields and fields of wildflowers. We hiked up quite a ways, enjoyed the views, the flowers, and the company.

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* Came back down and got our little camping kitchen set up for dinner and Jiffy Pop. Mmmmm! SO delicious!

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* Did some fun night photography that mostly ended up with hysterical laughing and frivolity and sat around our non-campfire campfire and told stories and chatted late into the night. And yes, way to many "ands" in that last sentence. Oh well.

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* Got up for a somewhat lazy morning of enjoying the spectacular surroundings before heading off for our hike: Needle Peak!

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* We hiked all day - massive swarms of mosquitoes couldn't dampen our spirits as we hiked through forest and into the high alpine with spectacular views of mountain peaks as far as the eye could see.

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* After lunch, we split off - some went to an alpine lake, and some went to try to get to the needle, which involved some fairly crazy scampering up steep bouldery cliffs. There was one peak we had to climb up and over before we got the needle itself that took long enough (and was scary enough!) that we decided to stop there and just enjoy the views - which were FANTASTIC! - from there.

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(Gee, I wonder why it's called the "Needle?")

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* On our way back to camp, there were some bets made and some money laid out, and Ken (of the hammock and waterguns) made some coin by doing something nobody else was willing to do...

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* The evening held swimming (OY VEY that was a c-c-c-c-cooooooooold lake! It burns! It buuuurns!,) dinner (sweet! Pour boiling water into foil bags, let sit for 15 mins to rehydrate: "We're cooooking!"), and stargazing. In the middle of nowhere, the stars were intense and multitudinous, and we enjoyed lying against a log and watching the early August meteor shower fling stars across the sky right, left, and center (can you spot the big dipper in the photo that looks all black?). SO beautiful, SO peaceful. I couldn't help but think over and over, "The heavens declare the works of your hands..." (Psalm 19:1)

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* We packed up the next morning and drove to Camp Kawkawa for a swim in the (much warmer) lake and some chill time on the beach. We were treated to the most spectacular display of synchronized swimming (can it be synchronized if it's only one person? Water dancing?) to Enrique Iglesia's "Hero", had some more shenanigans with the Weapons of Mass Wetness, and revelled in a weekend well spent - just what summer is supposed to be.

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It was only three days, but it felt like a week, and was the perfect way to kick off my summer vacation.

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View the full August Long Weekend photo set here.