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Showing posts from September, 2009

Counting My Blessings Before Bed

Today was a kind of crummy rainy day. Here are the things that made it better:
Lynsey helped me finish a beast of a work task. She was, as one of my friends once called me, "the hand of God reaching down into the darkness..."Everything got into the mail and (almost all) out of my house.Conference Call #1 gave me the opportunity to have human contact, to think strategically, and laugh a little.
I found enough food to make myself lunch, meaning I didn't have to go out in the downpour.Conference Call #2 helped me pass another hour and a half of work time.During Conference Call #2, the sun came out.
Ellen always makes me laugh. Case in point.I went outside since the sun was out and I had no food to eat. I bought fresh food.
I got new hair products, which my friend has triple-guaranteed (right, friend?).Impromptu stop at the library produced three books to read and four CDs to listen to.
I made a delicious bagel sandwich of avocado, tomato, pesto. Ate it with cottage cheese and a …

Two Movies, Two Quotes, Two Questions

Brought to you by this past weekend and my friends with great movie taste. Watch these movies. Both made me cry, and I had to remind myself to breathe a couple of times, which is a good indicator of being drawn in by a movie.

Movie #1:God Grew Tired of Us - a documentary on the Lost Boys of Sudan. Over 27 000 boys fled the civil war on foot in the late 80s. Twelve thousand were still alive five years later when they resettled in Kenya after Ethiopia's government collapsed. This movie traces three of the boys who are sponsored to move to the US.

Quote #1: "What is the meaning of this? (motions to a Christmas tree) and how is this Santa part of Christmas - is he in the Bible?"

Question #1: How do I view my obligations to the communities I'm a part of? Do I even think of life that way? These boys came to the States and immediately spent the majority of their money and effort on bettering the lives of those they cared most for. While I recognize that sometimes a culture o…

Why "Glee" Makes Me Sad

I like the dancing. I like the singing. A lot. It makes me lean forward in my seat.

But. My excitement over Glee is waning. Allow me summarize the plot and characters so far:

Will is a hip young high school who decides to bring the school's Glee Club back to its glory days (when he was a student). His wife, Terri,is currently faking a pregnancy because she is afraid telling Will the truth will result in him leaving.

Rachel is the star of the Glee Club. She threatens to leave when another member is given what she regards as her solo. She is picked on by the cheerleaders and has a crush on Finn.

Finn is the QB. He also loves to sing. He's a little bit afraid of how he'll be seen for his Glee Club involvement, but he's a good sort who genuinely wants to help out. His friendship with Rachel is not well-received by his girlfriend, Quinn, to whom he is highly committed.

Quinn is not only a cheerleader, but the president of the "Christ Crusaders" (aka Celibacy Club). She…

Good Music Makes Me Giddy

Q: Which is sexier* - slide guitar, cello, or banjo?

A: I don't know either.

Tonight, I almost decided not to see a local band called In Medias Res perform. I am glad I went, so that I did not miss out on the following moments:

5. Cello and violin round out the sound of a traditional rock band (acoustic & electric guitar, bass & drums). These men also know how to make their songs build. I like the tension and the way it pulls you in.

4. Winning the 50-50 draw. Split three ways (we paid $10 for an "arms'-length" of tickets), I ended up with $33. BUT one of my friends owed me $20, so I got it back tonight and came home richer than I left, even after buying a CD. HA.

3. The first encore song. This song, but performed with some sort of hand-held glockenspiel by all six men. I don't know how to explain it...but it was phenomenal.

2. A song about a bear. More specifically, a song "about when you're in love with a girl, and you've been married for a coupl…

Meta-narratives, Mo, and Miller (Don)

This is the postscript to my last entry.

I sat down on the bench hoping to hear from God. I left feeling slightly confused. Had this man been some sort of answer to my prayer, or a distraction from it? Was this a random isolated encounter, or some sort of piece in a bigger narrative?

Last week, I heard Don Miller speak at the opening of his new book tour. Along with some jabs at our "socialist healthcare" in Canada and his naming of Vancouver as the most beautiful city in North America, he talked about the essential components of a story in screenwriting and how turning Blue Like Jazz into a movie has taught him a lot about living a good story and not just writing them. I appreciated many of his thoughts as both human and writer:

"We love conflict on the screen, but we hate it in real life...conflict existed pre-sin. (Adam's loneliness)"

"If you killed off a character, what dreams would die with them?"

"We're conned into not wanting big things, be…

Kitsilano Beach - September 23, 9:20am

I noticed him when he said hello to a little boy on a tricycle. He was on the short side of average, graying hair and weathered skin. Olive or tan - certainly darker than me. A blue button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled. Cargo shorts and sandals. Trying to be young?

I was sitting two benches down, watching the shoreline, trying to get my bare feet into the sun where they would warm up. I was there to think and listen. I told God that I would really like to hear from Him instead of Him listening to me prattle on again.

I had arrived just before 9am, and while the occasional jogger came by, I was pretty much alone. But soon other benches had occupants. Dog walkers strolled slowly by. Many of them carried Starbucks cups. A couple of women and their personal yoga instructors set up on the sand.

He called out hello to the little boy, and I had three near-simultaneous thoughts: His accent - is he South American? Is he a friendly sort of man, I wonder, or a creepy one? And where is that littl…

Children are Children

I love sponsoring a child through Compassion Canada, but sometimes I am derelict in my sponsorship duties. Today's letter from my little girl reminded me that I haven't written her since the spring:

Hello Beth _______ (I am always addressed by first and last name), how are you? I am so longing for you because I do not receive your letter for along time yet. But I believe God Jesus Christ keep helps you.

(insert stab of remorse here)
I really have been meaning to write...and send photos. I just keep forgetting to get them printed, so then I put off writing, and then...then nothing happens.

She continues.

Beloved Beth _______, I have three dogs, all of them so cute. What makes me feel amuse that they all are corpulent and the two do not have tail. I would like to give one to you but how? We are far each other.

Beth _______, do you have mate? May I know him?
And so it is decided. Tomorrow, I am writing her back. I am printing out some photos, and showing her that, no, I don't have…

Things Keeping Me From Blogging

My serious thoughts aren't processed enough for the public yet. My lighthearted thoughts always come at inopportune times when I am not online. I am working again. My online relaxing time has been spent trying to figure out the best ways to use Twitter & Google Reader. TV season is starting again.So are the social invites.

It's TV Time!

Now that Labour Day has come and gone, three things have happened:

children are back in school.the leaves are turning colours.TV shows are starting up again.
If I could watch all the TV in the world, without interfering with my social life (my policy is that people come before my preferred TV shows), these are the shows that would entertain me.

The Mentalist
The Office
Better Off Ted
Big Bang Theory
30 Rock
How I Met Your Mother
So You Think You Can Dance
America's Best Dance Crew
The Ellen Show

I don't think I'll be able to make them all a weekly occurrence. I might try to stay on top of the first six. The bottom five, I don't really need to see every episode...I'll just tune in when I can.

A few notes on shows:

Bones: I am itching for Bones and Booth to get together. It's gotta happen soon. Four seasons of URST (unresolved sexual tension) is about as long as you can stretch it out (see Remington Steele, as another example).

The Office: This may be the season tha…

Saskatoon Sky in September

Saskatoon Sky
Originally uploaded by bethaf. This was taken yesterday. I couldn't believe how beautiful the clouds were...if there's one thing I like best about nature (and I like a lot of things about nature), it would be the sky. I could spend hours watching the sky. Stormy skies, night skies, sunny skies, breezy cloud-moving skies...

Happiness is a sky like this.

The Book Thief

After finishing The Book Thief, I feel that I need to rework my entire rating system. I don't think I can give a 10/10* to a book - is there such a thing as a perfect book? But this one definitely ranks at the top of all that I've read this week.

I'm a sucker for WWII books. Not only that, but it's brilliantly done. Narrated by Death, books within books - a Bildungsroman (German for coming-of-age-story) of classic proportions. It has been awhile since I've cried in a book, but there were tears down my cheek through the last several chapters. It started with a single tear - the parade & the quote from The Word Shaker got me (if you've read the book). After that...there was no going back.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the book was the way the author builds tension. It isn't exactly foreshadowing - it's more of an insertion of blunt statements of things three steps further down. It works, though, because you're left asking, But how!? And why…

My Name is Asher Lev


I loved the way My Name is Asher Lev explores art and the compulsion to create. I believed its portrayal of an observant Jewish family in Brooklyn in the mid-twentieth century. I like that it tackles the way that certain callings/gifts/occupations are viewed from within a religious community, and how the greatest gifts can also be the greatest threats. This sacred-secular divide is one that exists far too frequently and is challenged far too infrequently. Although I can't say, if I were one of the Rebbe's people, where I would have fallen after the big exhibition. Sacrilege is something I do not want to be accused of.

(I have to stop here, or this will turn into an essay...each of these books is fuel for extensive thought & discussion on important subjects, which is why I love literature. But I feel the need to hold back.)

In terms of style, I thought Asher Lev had a believable and endearing voice. The confusion of a child who doesn't quite understand what is going o…

The Secret Life of Bees

I'm very glad that I read this book before seeing the movie. I don't think I'll watch the movie, because I expect that it will disappoint.

It didn't take me long to be completely sucked in - 19 pages, to be exact. And 129 before I had to flip to the end to make sure things turned out okay.

I felt for Lily. I wanted to take Lily in and stand up for her. I wanted to reach into 1964 South Carolina, shake some people (maybe slap them!) and shout in anger at how ridiculous segregation is. I wanted Zach to want her. I wanted August to be exactly like she was - wise, patient, and gentle.

There are only two things that were less than amazing in The Secret Life of Bees, and they are the same two things that irked me just a little in The Mermaid Chair, another book by this author.

The first is that I find the symbolism a little heavy-handed. In both stories, there is an object - or really, a collection of objects - that plays a deeply significant and spiritual role in the story. But…

Eleanor Rigby

I read Eleanor Rigby in three sections. I read two pages in the airport, waiting for our luggage. I read again for awhile while lying in a hammock. Then I fell asleep, and woke up ready for dinner. I finished it off on the leather couch with a lamp over my right shoulder.

I love Douglas Coupland's books because they are about such normal people. Yet they involve the bizarre and unexpected and nearly irrational. I like that he is obviously fascinated and concerned with issues of spirituality and truth. I like that I don't know how things will work out, but when they do, I smile - usually with a twinge of sadness - and close the cover contented.

Random Douglas Coupland trivia: he coined the term "Generation X" in a book of the same title, and I once saw him at a movie.

Sounding Sunny

Every holiday needs a soundtrack. My upcoming week away will be punctuated by the sounds of Paolo Nutini's new album, Sunny Side Up.

I'm not sure which of these three Paolo-thoughts make me happier:
a) the obvious maturing and breadth of subject matter on his sophomore album (whereas his first album, These Streets, was almost exclusively about relationships & sex).
b) plans to see him perform (again) at the Commodore later this month.
c) the distinct possibility that I'll be once more in his hometown in the next six months...

A more in-depth album review may follow...until then, enjoy these two gems:

The List

Vacations are for reading. Tomorrow, I leave for a week-long getaway. Half the weight of my luggage is in book form:

Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals - Immanuel Kant (some light philosophy)
My Heart's in the Lowlands - Liz Curtis Higgs (travel writing through Scotland)
Mere Christianity - CS Lewis (classic Christian literature)
The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd (my "Oprah" read)
Eleanor Rigby - Douglas Coupland (I miss Wendy.)
Surfacing - Margaret Atwood (if I could pick a writing tutor, I would pick her)
My Name is Asher Lev - Chaim Potok (recommended by a friend)

We'll see how many I get through. I don't know what order I'll go in yet...Also, I read Sweetness in the Belly this past weekend. Highly recommend it.

Love books. Wish they would stop making more so I could catch up on the world's massive literary resources.