Thursday, May 29, 2008

What I've Been Up To

My mom has been out of town for a week, so I've been more or less independent. I was talking to one of my Texas friends Sunday afternoon, and they asked, "Do you feel like you have more freedom up there?" I really thought about it, and I have always been blessed with the trust from my mom. I can enjoy time in shops, or drive over to the library. She always has an idea of who I'm with and what I'm doing, but since I'm not really interested in doing anything she disapproves of, I am pretty free.

For instance, yesterday I wandered through an amazing scrapbooking store for an hour, just getting ideas for my scrapbook and looking at prices.

Last night, my friend Kim came over and we went out to Earls for dessert, all dressed up.

This weekend I'm going out to the mountains with some friends (I'll try to get some good pictures).

Today I went to the University Bookstore and browsed. I found Prince Caspian in Spanish, which made me excited (especially since I read the first page and understood it!). I'm still pondering if I should get it; I've got so many books on the go right now!

Yesterday I quilted with my grandmother and nearly finished a wall hanging. All that's left is some small decorative quilting, and the binding. It's so nice being able to spend time with her.

Tomorrow I have my Spanish speaking final, so wish me luck! Then I leave for the mountains, and will be back Sunday night.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Stormy Days

It has rained for 10 days straight. I think I would have rather died in a flood than wait 30 more, but it's not pouring; it's like a hazy drizzle- for ten days. It's a cold, drenching rain (It's currently 8 degrees C outside). Plus, I found out my car leaks under the dashboard on the passenger's side, so each day after school, I have to mop up that day's puddle. Today, Kassi's car died, so we had to hook up the jumper cables- I'm sure more than one person driving by laughed at us as they saw two girls trying to find the battery in my car. However, after a couple calls her her boyfriend and some consulting of my driver's ed manual, it's running.


However, there is a blessing in the rain.

Our gross, brown Calgary is... GREEN!

Everything is so beautiful! There is this bush next to our kitchen window that I thought was dead, only to find it coated in dainty white flowers. The hanging flower pots that my mom planted are so cheery, and the apple tree is gorgeous! Here are some pictures from this afternoon. Ignore the gross weather... it's worth it!
The "dead" bush (far and close)

Hanging pot
The other treeThe apple treeThe apple blossoms close up

Bleeding Hearts (Short Story for English 30-1)

For English, I had to write a short story "about the human experience and a message to your reader". Tada! It's sort of sad, if you read it, but has a good moral. I got the idea from a story my mom told me once, the Bleeding Heart Tale. If you take apart the parts of the flower, you get bunnies, earrings, slippers, and a sword. To see the different flower parts, click here.

When I was younger, my mother would pull me onto her lap with a blossom from the bleeding heart plant and tell me a story. I remember nestling against her indigo skirt as she pulled apart the petals. “Once upon a time, there was a prince who loved a princess very much, so he gave her two bunnies, some earrings, and a pair of beautiful slippers.”
“What were the bunnies’ names, mama?” I would ask, as I rubbed my fingers along the top of the delicate petals.
“What do you want them to be called?” she would tease.
Each time, I would examine the rabbits, and place a name to their character. There were Emilys, Amys, Josaphines, and Julies. I would squirm out of my mother’s lap, and carefully lift the rabbits from the grass and let them bounce through the air.
“Listen honey, this is important.” She gently pulled me back onto her lap. “The princess still ignored the prince, and he was devastated, so he took the sword and put it through his heart. When the princess found out, she realized how much she loved the prince, and said, ‘My heart will always bleed for him.’ That’s why the flower is called the bleeding heart.”
“Why did she ignore him, mama?” I would ask, looking into her kind, sapphire eyes.
“I’m not sure honey. The point is, she shouldn’t have. You understand?”
I would nod, but it’s not until this year that I did.
The next year, I started school. My mother always greeted me when I got home with a smile, wiping her floured hands onto her apron and taking me up in her arms. As she poured me a glass of milk, she would ask questions about my day, and listen with keen interest as I described the drama that kindergarten entails. I can imagine her laughing, as I recall the importance I placed upon my life, but she never let me see her. She let me believe that my life was important, and taught humility through example.
One day she woke up dizzy. As she sat up, the ground rushed to the sky and hit her face like a frying pan. That afternoon, I was so absorbed in my colors that I did not notice her arms stabilizing herself as she poured my milk and brought it to me. I don’t remember if I thanked her. Years later, my father mentioned it to me; I don’t remember this day at all.
As I entered middle school, my friends became the epicenter of my life. Their opinions defined me, and I despised my mother. I pretended to like the dresses she made for me, but would bring a change of clothes to school. The hand packed sandwiches would be replaced with chips from the convenience store across the street. I wouldn’t tell her about school plays or awards ceremonies I was in, because then I would never have to worry about her staring up at me from the audience, a daughter she didn’t know. I felt like I should protect her from finding out what I had become.
In high school, my priorities changed again. I would lock myself in my room for hours reading and studying. If I needed help I would walk to the library and ask the librarian or a friend that I would find there. I never asked my mother for help. Frequently after an afternoon of studying, I would come into the kitchen for a cup of tea, and find her in her rocking chair, knitting or reading. “What are you studying, honey?” she would ask. I would answer, and quickly finish my tea, sacrificing my burnt tongue to return to my room.
One night, as I was sliding the dishwasher rack back and closing the door, I saw her stand up from the chair. She looked older than I remembered. As she walked forward, her joints popped with age. “Ha, listen to me. My body’s a symphony.” I turned, but she stopped me. “You know, you don’t have to do all that for me.”
“The schoolwork. I don’t expect you to be perfect.”
“I know.”
“Just don’t push yourself too hard, you understand?”
“Yes, mam.” I do it for me, I thought as I walked out of the kitchen.
With my grades, I got into our state university with a full scholarship. Even though it was only a thirty minute drive from our house, I moved onto residence. I was absorbed by the college life, attending every football game and guest lecture possible. I would come home occasionally to have dinner with my parents, but always found an excuse about having to leave early. “I have a test tomorrow morning, early,” I added.
Then I met Paul, and didn’t come home as often. He treated me like his princess. He bought me a pair of diamond earrings, which reminded me of the princess from my childhood. I made sure he knew I adored him. A year after we met, he bought me a ring to match the earrings.
We were married two months after we graduated. My mother helped me pick out my dress, and offered to do the alterations to save money. As I stood on her stool, balancing in my heels, I peeked down to watch her work. Her hands shook, and she pricked herself with pins as she marked the new hem. “You don’t have to do this, mama. It doesn’t cost that much to have someone else do it.”
She straightened up, and looked at me with the same sapphire eyes I had seen before. “I want to.” She looked me up and down with a sad smile, and bent down to examine the hemming job she had done. “It won’t be that much longer anyways.”
Shortly after we were married, Paul’s job had us transferred to another state. Our visits became annual, till this year, when I got a call from my father.
After the funeral, my father pulled me into the master bedroom. He sat on the bed, slouched like a rejected man, defeated from nights without sleep. He pulled open the drawer on my mother’s side of the bed, and pulled out a journal.
“She told me she wanted you to have this,” he said.
“I didn’t know she kept a journal.” I flipped open the cover and something fell out of the pages. It floated towards the carpet, like a light snowflake. I bent down to pick it up, and found a bleeding heart that she had pressed in its pages.
The next spring, as I was pulling weeds from the garden, my daughter came out to watch. I studied her face as she watched the bees fly between the flowers, and as she picked the flowers for a bouquet. She presented them to me, saying, “Here mommy, I made this for you. There are daisies, and roses, and pink flowers.”
“Do you know what the pink flowers are called?” I asked. She shook her head slowly. “They’re bleeding hearts. See, once there was a prince who loved a princess very much, and he gave her lots of things to get her attention,” I said, picking off the outer petal.

Photos by drp ( and Nick Atkins Photography ( Both Attribution, Noncommercial, Nonderivative licences.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

FLDS Raid Update

Today, the Texas Court threw the case out. Overall, I think this was a good thing.

Even if there is abuse (as I'm sure there is) the case was presented as a group abuse, when cases should have been more individual. Plus there was a lot of confusion on details- apparently out of 31 of the "pregnant teens", at least 15 girls are older than 18, and even then, they can be legally married at 16, so being a pregnant teen is not illegal. Hopefully the abuse can be sorted out, and the raid will be a deterrant to future abuse.

Plus, now that the group has gotten more publicity, if something were to happen in the future it would be treated with fewer steriotypes and hopefully judged as any other family would be. I'm still not sure what they're going to do about the polygamy issue. At this point, I think it would be more detrimental spliting up the families again, and do more harm than good. Morally, I have an issue with it, but I'm not sure why something like that is a legal issue.

For more information:;_ylt=AkASZLQMQlSQNNqP93RHWaSs0NUE


Many of you know about my obsession with Librivox (link to the right), where Public Domain works are recorded by volunteers and put up for downloading. The program that they use is Audacity. It's a free, basic audio editing program. I didn't really know anything about audio editing before I downloaded it, and didn't read any information from them (I'm not even sure if they have any up). It's simple enough to figure out.

I figured I would use it to record things like audio books, but if you want to do some rough recordings for a band, it is nice because it allows you to record multiple layers, move them around, crop, copy, paste, and adjust volume and tempo of each layer. You can fade in and out, filter sounds, and do some crazy things with voices that I don't fully understand (everything from Alvin and the Chipmunks to the teacher on Peanuts)

I never thought I'd have the opportunity to use it for high school (though I figured it would come in handy for linguistic recordings), since I'm not in any technology or drama related courses. However, in English, we were assigned a short story project, and one aspect was creating a radio drama. This has been the handiest tool. I recorded my partner's lines, and on my own time at home, shifted and adjusted them. I also added in some background music and free sound effects I found on the internet. The final project is professional sounding, and it was relatively painless, compared to working with a recorder and cassette, where everything would have to be ready and we would all have to take time to meet outside of class.

The only warning with audacity is that it records things in an .aud format. You have to download another program which converts it to .mp3. Once you have both programs, the conversion is very simple. I don't know the other program's name, but if you're interested, let me know. I know they also have the information in some of Librivox's resources. I reccomend starting out with these programs for any students, rather than spending a boatload of money on a program with features you may never use. The only time I would consider otherwise is if you need a professional recording, but you would have to go to a studio for that anyways.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Honey Nut Granola

Here's the recipe for my Honey Nut Granola. I have a hunch that I got it from Canadian Living Magazine, but I really don't remember; I found it last summer, and didn't write down where from. In any case, it's somewhat original since I've changed everything from the ingredients quantities to the cooking time. Enjoy.

Honey Nut Granola
6 cups rolled oats (it calls for regular, but I think it tastes better with instant- personal preference)
2-1/2 c coarsely chopped pecans
2/3 c tasted wheat germ
3/4 c butter, melted
1/2 c honey
1/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar
2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt
(you can also add coconut, raisins or dried cranberries, if you have them around)

Mix oats, pecans, and wheat germ in large mixing bowl. In 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup, add sticks of butter. Melt in microwave, and in same measuring cup, add honey, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir.
Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients, stirring as you add. Add coconut and other nuts/seeds now, if you want. (Dried fruits are added after baking). Make sure you coat all the oats, at least a little.
Put into metal 9x16 cake pan (or any pan with sides at least one inch tall). Spread evenly, so that some parts aren't clumpy while others are dry. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes (stir it every 5 min).
Cool and store in airtight container. Makes 14 cups. Our family likes to eat it like cereal with milk, or mixed up with yogurt. If you want to decrease the amount of butter, you can. I've already decreased it from 1 cup. Just keep in mind, it prevents the oat clusters from clustering.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Thought from Mr. Adamson

Everyone has heard that practice makes perfect.

They're wrong.

Practice, without aim, technique, or guidance does not result in perfection. Unless you practice it right, it's not going to suddenly appear perfect.

One of my ballet teachers, Mr. Adamson had a saying. "Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent."
Picture from by Shalet Ann. Attribution, Noncommercial, Non-derivative License.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Around the House: Drying

With all the hype on environmental issues, it's good to conserve while we go. The beauty of most forms of conservation is you generally end up saving money in the process, at least in the long run. It's great to be able to take advantage of a sunny day to hang out clothes, rather than put them in the dryer. It saves electricity, and gives you fresh smelling clothes. It can be hard if you live in humid areas, but Calgary is perfect for it. Today we had a load out for an hour, and it was warm and dry by the time it was brought in.
I promise, last post on laundry. :)
Picture from By Steve. Attribution, Noncommercial, Non-derivative Licence.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Around the House: Ironing

The other day in class, we were talking about a particular short story that used ironing as a symbol to represent monotony and how society "irons" out the wrinkles in individuals, till we're all the same (flat board). Our student teacher brought in an ironing board and iron, and asked for volunteers to iron out parts of the shirt and tell us what pops into our head. At one point, she asked "How may of you have ever ironed?" Almost everyone raised their hand, but about 4 or 5 people had never ironed!

If you're one of them, go iron something. It's relaxing. I love it. I have fond memories with irons: my uncle taught me to iron, quilting with my grandmother (there's lots of ironing in sewing), watching my dad iron his work shirts, and more. I iron with my right hand, with my board set up for left-handers, and set my iron on the left side, since my uncle taught me how he learned: from left handed Grandma Dorothy.

It's great fun. Try it! But read the care label of your shirt first, just in case.

Photo from By Pedro Veneroso. Attribution Noncommercial Licence.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I have such wonderful women who have raised me in different parts of my life. Of course there's my mom, who has always been there, but I also want to thank people like my grandmothers who have supported her, and people like Mrs. Palmour, Mrs. Erickson, Aunt Heather, and Mrs. Smith who have been there for me when she couldn't. Thank you all!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Tale of the Evasive Piano Teacher

Finally, the long awaited news! I have been tempting you all about it since February, and it's now come together enough to share.

Back in February, I was looking around for a piano teacher, and called one of the University profs to see if she knew any masters students who would be willing to teach me. She asked me to come over to hear my level (Canadian music level systems are so simple, but I don't know mine since I've never had a Canadian teacher before), so we met one afternoon, and talked about my interests and learning style. I played her one song from my Pride and Prejudice soundtrack book, and she said she would teach me.

My first lesson was supposed to be in the beginning of March, but because of the Calgary Music Festival, she was busy through all of March and into April. Then she got sick, but finally, we had a lesson. I was disappointed at all I had forgotten (I know how to read music, but had forgotten a lot of the theory {scales, tempo vocabulary, and dynamics}), but it's all coming back. Plus, there's a lot more that I've never learned on perfecting my finger strength and hand positioning (which is, to put it nicely, is sloppy).
Anyhow, that's what's new with me. That and spring is FINALLY here!!! No joke this time- today it rained for the first time since I got here. So exciting. My Narcissus have bloomed, and they are so cheery, looking at the sun. And naturally, with spring comes a haircut, so I no longer have long hair, but it's easier to care for short, and a lot of people have said that it looks good.

Piano/Rose Picture courtesy of Roddyrotton. Attribution, Noncomertial, Non-derivitive Licence.
Narcissus Picture by myself. Creative Commons licence: Attribution, Noncomertial.