Saturday, March 1, 2014

Turning 30

Turning 30
February 28/March 1, 2014

I was born on February 29th.  The day of eternal youth.  And maybe I believed it and never really thought my youth could slip away.  When I was younger, 30 seemed so old.  That was always the point of, "Ok, you're not a kid anymore.  It's time to grow up and get real."  That's a scary thought.  It's true that I'm not a kid anymore, but I'm not going to 'grow up and get real'.  I'll always embrace my youthful spirit. 

I'm also the youngest, in my family and in my marriage.  My sister calls me 'Little Lindsay'.  I love that.  Maybe I just thought this would never really happen.  It's a hard thing, but so much better than the alternative!  I'm lucky to be turning 30.  I'm lucky to have all the things that I do and for the bright future I'm creating.

Age is relative.  Yes, 30 is not that old.  When I'm 40, 60, 90 I'll probably look back on this time and think that I was so young.  I do that now when I think of my early 20's, but at the time it didn't feel that way.  This idea keeps me grounded.  It reminds me to embrace the things that I may not be able to for much longer.

Like great metabolism. 

This year was incredible.  My list was a bit of a way to avoid the truth of the situation, but I think it helped me more than I could have ever known.  I learned so much and grew in so many ways. 

Here's what I've learned:

1. Drive a Mini
I really want a Mini!

2. Eat Sherms Ultimate Gripper from Tubby Dog
I shouldn't be so nervous to try different foods.  I loved this so much more than I expected.  Also, an egg goes well on just about everything.
I've tried a lot of different foods this year.  This one really translated into my everyday life.

3. Take a class at Williams Sonoma
I'm just never going to be that great in the kitchen.  That doesn't mean I shouldn't try.

4. Walk with wolf dogs at the Yamnuska Wolf Dog Sanctuary
I love spending time with my friend Kristi.  I knew she was fantastic before, but I think this is the first time that her and I really spent a large amount of time one on one.  She is a blessing to have in my life. 

5. Go the the National Music Centre
I have great intentions, but I'm not always so great with committing to volunteering.  I've done it so sparingly.  I shouldn't be afraid to just say no.

6. Ride a bike from one end of Fish Creek to the other (within yyc city limits)
My dad is still one of my favorite people.  I really am daddy's little girl and I'm so happy to be that.
I didn't just learn that, but I was reminded of it.

7. Try shrimp again
I don't like shrimp.

8. Watch The Shining
I knew a lot of references from this movie without having seen it, but there was a lot more to it for me to understand.  It was a decent movie.

9. Be in a water balloon fight
I have some of the most incredible friends in the world. 

10. Attend a wine tasting
I learned a lot about pairing cheese/meats with wine and matching flavors. 

11. Graffiti Knit
People are more in awe of knitting than I had realized.  It sucks that it was taken down, but it will be remembered by far more people than you and me. 
12. Go to a parade
Calgary is much more supportive of gay rights (human rights, really) than I thought.

13. Canoe on Lake Louise
Lake Louise is not as close as I thought.  We were late.
I love being in boats.
Courtney & Tammy can make me cackle.

14. Fly a kite
Spending time with someone much younger than me can make me feel like kitten.

15. Go on a walking tour of downtown Calgary
Calgary has more history than I gave it credit.

16. Zipline & Bobsleigh at Canada Olympic Park
I shouldn't be afraid to push my limits.  I flew on the zipline upside down.  That was really cool.  

17. Fly in a hot air balloon
From that far up the world looks like tilt shift photography.  It was so tranquil and beautiful.  And it felt completely safe; I didn't expect that.

18. Walk the Alzheimer's Marathon
I needed this so much more than I realized.  The amount of time in my life since my grampa passed is longer than the amount of time I had with him.  It's been a long time, but I will never fully heal from watching what happened to him.
I didn't know how much I needed to be in a space with like minded people.  I needed to ask for help from my friends and I needed to see how strong they were in supporting me.  Strangers were even donating to me for this.  It was overwhelming in an incredibly positive way.
This was like a trust fall.  More people were there to catch me than I could have imagined.

19. Buy a pair of Christian Louboutin (or similar) heels
High end shoes are not always worth the high end price tag.  The ones I bought are, but many that I tried on weren't. 

20. Donate blood 5 more times, bringing my total to 20
I prefer plasma donations to whole blood donations.

21. Go tobogganing
I shouldn't underestimate my husband's sense of adventure.

22. Go to the Devonian Gardens
There's no such thing as a free drink.  I knew this in theory, but I got to watch it here.
I went there during a work networking event.  I didn't drink, but many people did and gossip spread very quickly the next day - amongst companies, not within.
23. Skate at Olympic Plaza
Hockey players have so much more talent than I had realized. And I already thought they had a lot.

24. Knit something for a homeless person
I got more out of this experience than I think Eugene did.  He loved it, but I was overwhelmed by the love from him.  I didn't expect that.

25. Make yarn balloons
Just because it's a craft doesn't mean I'm going to enjoy it.

26. Read at least 2 more of the classic books from the BBC list
Just because something is deemed a 'classic' doesn't mean I'm going to be all that interested in it.

27. Go to the Opera
Not all love stories are worth telling. 

28. Go to the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory
I learned so much about space and how much we don't know.  Space exploration is still very new. 

29. Pay for a stranger's meal at a restaurant 
As humans, we need to be better to one another.  That way it won't be so hard to understand kindness without agenda. 
Also, don't hesitate so much.

30. Climb a tree 
I'm not as comfortable in a tree as I thought I would be.  
If something isn't perfect, try it anyways, but keep an eye out for the best opportunity.  It will likely be there if you look. 

Wow, what a year. 

One thing that I heard repeatedly this year was that I was inspiring people.  That's an incredible idea, but the truth is that I was inspired by them.  

I couldn't possibly list all of the people who have helped me with this.  The support I received was overwhelming.  I felt so loved this year and it taught me that it's always been there, I just haven't always seen it.  

I'm living in a community of beautiful, kind and talented people.  If you're reading this, you're part of that.  I owe a lot of my success to you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  

Maybe I'm not comfortable with the idea of being 30, but I sure am excited for the future.  I have some ideas for more things that could be 'list items'.  Instead of making a list, I'm just going to take my enriched sense of adventure into my daily life.

Now let's go have some fun. 

Specifically, thank you to my wonderful, loving and very supportive parents and husband.  I love you guys more than you could ever imagine. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Climb a Tree

Climb a Tree
February 16 & 22, 2014

There's an incredible tree somewhere in the north west part of Calgary that I climbed with a friend when I was 19 or 20.  The branches are strong and perfectly spaced for an easy climb.  You can go a couple stories up, feel safe and overlook downtown.  It's perfect.

But I forgot where it is.  And then winter came and I started to worry about ice and cold.  I really should have done this in the summer.  Ah well.  Live and learn.

In October, on the last warm day, I went down into Fish Creek to find a tree but they were all either too young with small branches, or had fallen over.

I started to worry about this.  Then on February 16th, Chris and I went to Tubby Dog.  On the walk back to our car, I noticed a tree in front of an apartment complex.  It wasn't huge, but it would do the trick.  On a whim we stopped and I started to climb.

I got up about 5 feet and then my available branch climbing options started to dwindle.  And I got a bit nervous about falling out.  So we hung out there for a few minutes.

A couple of people noticed me, but they didn't seem that confused or fazed by the fact that a grown woman was up in a tree in a residential area.  I guess that's 17th Ave.  Weirder things happen there every minute.

When I was up there I realized that this was number 30.  This was the last thing to do before the big date.  And I didn't want to get down.  I've lived the past year with fun and exciting goals; how could it end?

Of course, it had to.  I needed to come down and carry on with my day, but it felt anti-climactic.

I guess what it really was is that now I was only left with the fact that in just 12 short days my 20s would be over.  No more distractions.  It's time to face reality and that sucked. 

The weekend prior to my birthday, we decided to go to Santa Monica for a couple of days.  It was such a beautiful reprieve from the cold winter we've had for the past few months.

On February 22nd we were biking around the area and ended up in a park.  And there it was - the perfect climbing tree.  Since it was still before my birthday, this could be my real list item!

I needed a bit of help to get up to the first crook, but I was able to climb a lot higher than the last time.  With the help of a second set of eyes, I was able to get pretty high up.  Though, not really that high.  I'm not a kid anymore and I did start to get nervous again.

The tree was smooth and beautiful, with a lot of branches.  It was old and comfortable.  I even scraped my elbow, which I liked.  What's climbing a tree without a scrape?!

Chris took some silly pictures of me and I was able to take some from within the tree. 

And then it really was time to come down, put my list behind me and face my dirty thirties.

Here we go!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pay for a Stranger's Meal

Pay for a Stranger's Meal at a Restaurant
February 10, 2014

As with pretty much everyone, I didn't have a lot of money in my early 20's.  Chris and I would go out for supper, even when it was stretching our budget, and talk about winning the lotto.  We always said that we would want to pay for things for strangers: meals, gas, etc.  We knew how incredible it would be for that to happen to us; it was a given that we would try to help someone else.  Maybe we could help someone who really needed it.

I had an idea in my mind of exactly what our strangers would be like before I started looking for them.  They would be a few years younger than us, in a long term relationship, tight on cash but still wanting to treat each other.  This is exactly what we were.

Chris and I go on a lot of dates, which I think it important and I figured that we would find this couple pretty easily without searching. 

A few months ago we were at the Keg, talking about my list.  Chris noticed the couple at the table next to us.  Their meals were basic, no appetizers or wine/alcohol, etc.  They were very much in love and seemed like they were treating each other to a special night out.  They were perfect... except they didn't exactly fit the idea I had in my mind, so I hesitated. 

We watched them share a dessert and then pay for their meal with a gift card.  I watched the perfect opportunity slip by me. 

What a silly thing to do.  They were perfect and I couldn't see it because I got hung up on a small detail that didn't matter.  I kicked myself afterwards and for the next couple of months.

As my time became more limited, I started looking more seriously, but anytime we were out, the other restaurant guests seemed to be quite well off. 

I decided that we had to narrow our search to the 17th Ave area.  This is where we lived when we were younger and I expected to find the right people there.  It's a lively area, and perfect for people in their 20's.  Chris had the great idea of going to Chianti's on their cheap pasta night.  This would draw out people looking to save a buck but still have a nice date.

When we arrived, we walked through the back door, through the restaurant to the front hostess stand.  There were only about 5 tables in the restaurant, but 1 of them looked perfect.

We were seated around the corner from them and couldn't see them.  I decided to walk around near them as if I was going out to the car for a moment, to be sure.  Yes, they were the right choice.

I told the server what I wanted to do.  She didn't seem to understand at first, so we kept mentioning it.
Near the end of our pasta, our server told us that the other table had asked for their bill.  She brought it over and I scribbled out the price and wrote them a note.  We asked to remain anonymous.

A couple of minutes after the bill had been dropped off, I walked past again, pretending to go to the washroom.  A couple of servers as well as another group of people that was about to leave was standing watching the scene.  They were all touched, except for the couple, who seemed confused.

I went into the washroom and heard them walk past, talking.  They sounded negative and the guy said, "Do you think we look that desolate?".  She said no, but that really struck me.

I didn't want them to think they looked poor!  I didn't think they were poor.

Heading back to the table, I had mixed feelings.  Doing something positive for someone had left a negative taste in my mouth.

Chris and I talked it out and he said that maybe they are really down on their luck.  Maybe the guy said the word "desolate" because that's how he really felt.  Maybe they needed this more than we could ever know.  Maybe we brought them a small piece of sunshine at a very dim time in their lives.  Or maybe not.  

Either way, I know that we did something great for someone else.  It's just too bad that more people don't do nice things for each other.  Maybe then it would be easier to accept when strangers do nice things for each other. 


Friday, February 21, 2014

Go to the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory

Picture of snow, not space, but still very cool
Go to the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory
February 7, 2014

I love space.  It's so vast, mysterious and beautiful.

The Rothney Astrophysical Observatory is run through the local university and is located just south west of Calgary.  I'm not really sure when I found out about it, but I've wanted to check it out for a very long time.

They post about public nights on their website and I've kept a close eye on it for the past 9 months or so.  The summer seemed like a great time to go, but things kept coming up that would stop me.  We either had plans or the sky was overcast, etc...

Into the fall and winter the frequency of the public nights dropped by quite a bit and I started to get concerned about this one.

 At the beginning of January they posted about the next public night - February 1st - the night that Mark and I had tickets to the opera.  And that was going to be the last public night before my birthday. So that was unfortunate!

I contacted the observatory and inquired about having two people for a private tour.  They said that they only run private tours for organizations with a minimum of ten guests.

Stumped again.

Then, the lovely Courtney had a brilliant idea.  She has a business name, why not host an 'event' there with her company as the hosting organization?  This was perfect!  I booked the tour and ten of my friends jumped at the chance to learn more about space.

On the night of the tour it was cold and overcast.  That was disappointing, but the rest was amazing.

Our guide took us out to the small telescope right away.  The moon had peaked out for a few minutes and she didn't want to miss our opportunity.  Even though it was a small telescope, the power of it was incredible.  The moon looked so clear through the lens.

Afterwards we went inside for a presentation about the astronomer Keppler and what our galaxy looks like from outside of it, as well as other cool space info.  Our group had great questions and it was more like a led discussion.

Afterwards she took us outside to see the big telescopes.  They weren't in use, but just seeing the size and hearing about what they can do was really interesting.  We were all blown away by the first one, which a lot of the students use for study.  It was in a small dome shaped room, which looked pretty much exactly like what you'd expect an astrophysical observatory to look like. 

Then she took us over to the next building.  It had offices and other incredible space things in it.  We each got to hold a meteor that was billions (!) of years old.  It was heavier than expected and smelled like pennies. 

Then she led us down the hall into the next room.  Entering one at a time, each person exclaimed in excitement, leaving the people behind more and more in anticipation.

That room had a gigantic telescope.  We thought we had seen the large one in the first space, but this blew it out of the water (or sky, har har har)!  It was a large room and we were all quiet, looking up in awe. 

Around the room they had face cut out boards for photos, which was a lot of fun, but it was hard to not just stand below the telescope and stare.

We stayed in the room for a little while, but then it was time to go back to the main area.  The moon had poked out again, so we got a second look.

Afterwards we tried to warm up with coffee and hot chocolate, had a short visit and then it was time to go. 

Our guide gave us a deal on the rate.  She said it was because the sky was clouded over so we couldn't see much, but I think it was really because she enjoyed our group so much.  She's probably used to school groups filled with kids who are begrudgingly dragged along, but we were so excited about everything.  And we were silly.  I love that about my friends.

I can't wait to go back to the RAO this summer on a beautiful clear night.  You should go too.  It's cool.



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Go to the Opera

Go to the Opera
February 1, 2014

I love this artwork
In January of 2013, Chris (hubby) and I were at Mark & Kristi's house for supper and we started talking about the orchestra and the opera.  Coincidentally, someone from the orchestra called a few days later with a discounted rate for the upcoming orchestra, which featured opera singers.

We bought 3 tickets (Chris & I plus Mark, Kristi wasn't interested) and were excited to attend.  The show was a couple of months later and Mark ended up not being able to join us, which was too bad.  However, it was not a full opera experience.  It was beautiful, but there were no costumes or sets.  I wanted more. 

Mark and I decided to ditch the spouses for the night and go on our own opera adventure.  Tickets went on sale in September, but our show of choice wasn't till February 1st.  We chose The Flying Dutchman.

Mark is a dapper gentleman and we decided it was best to let that shine.  In anticipation, I purchased a blue gown and Mark purchased a cane, top hat and monocle.  He also made sure his pocket square and tie matched the color of my dress.  Seriously, dapper.

We met at the Jubilee and got to our seats right away.  We were about 15 rows from the stage, right in the middle.

My knowledge of the story was almost completely null, so I was in for quite a show.  It started off with some incredible lighting on an iridescent curtain, made to look like crashing waves.  It was fantastic!

Luckily, there was a screen above the stage that translated the vocals, so we could understand what they were saying.

So here's the story:  A man is searching for a woman who will be faithful to him for all of her life and he says aloud, "I will find a faithful woman before I die" and the devil decides to hold him to this, placing a curse on the man and his ship.  He becomes immortal in his search.  However, he can only step on land once every 7 years and only for 24 hours - of course finding a wife in that time would be tricky!

He happens upon another ship that is just about home and makes a deal with the captain - all of his riches for the captain's faithful daughter, whom he's never met or even seen.  The captain is a greedy man and agrees.  

The next scene is of the daughter (Senta) at home with her friends.  She is involved with a man (Erik) who is a hunter, while all of her friends are with seamen.  They mock her for this.

Senta has heard of the curse on the Flying Dutchman and dreams that she will become the faithful woman he's searching for.  She becomes obsessive and falls in love with the Dutchman, again without having met or seen him.

The ship arrives home and Senta meets the Dutchman for the first time.  Within a few minutes she agrees to be with him and swears that she will be faithful for the rest of her life. 

Of course, Erik is not happy.  He believed that he and Senta were in love.  He confronts her and tries to make her realize how illogical she's being, reminding her of their love and the promises she has made to Erik.  While this is happening, the Dutchman walks into the room and sees them talking.  He takes this to mean that Senta is already unfaithful.

The Dutchman tells Senta that he can't trust her and he leaves in his ship.  She jumps into the ocean after him. 

And that's the end. 

As I'm sure you're doing right now, Mark and I spent a lot of time crinkling our faces and making 'what?!' hand gestures. 

The costumes were incredible, the set/lighting was beautiful and the performances were outstanding, but the story was odd.  Mark and I had a hard time understanding a lot of the reasoning behind the character's actions, specifically Senta.  I guess that's the age we live in.  You know, where people get to know each other, can talk to people aside from their spouses and don't jump into the ocean after men they've only just met.  

Overall, I'm so happy with this experience.  It was a great production and I really enjoyed a night out with Mark.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Read Two Classic Books

Read at Least Two More Classic Books from the BBC List
January 30, 2014

I love to read, but I'm one of the slowest readers out there.  I've actually taken a speed reading class, but I didn't get any faster.

You may remember a few years ago when BBC released a list of the top 100 classic books.  Going through it, I was embarrassed to find that I had only read about 7 or 8.  I printed the list and kept it on my book shelf as a reminder to go back to the classics.  But that's about as far as that went.  So this year I decided to change that.

In the spring I was at Chapters and found Dracula was on a great sale.  I needed a new book and it was on the BBC list.  Perfect!

It's an interesting read because the story is told entirely through the diary entries of the main characters.  If you haven't read this book, it is the story of a vampire who feeds on a couple of women with the intention of turning them into vampires as well.  The men in their lives are obviously displeased with this and they hunt the vampire to save the women.  However, the hunt only becomes serious after the first woman is turned by the vampire and killed by the men.  I won't give away the ending, but I think we all know how things pan out.  Everyone likes a happy ending.  Dracula is just shy of 400 pages and it took me a couple of months to get through. 

Something to note is that two of the main characters are named John and Jonathan.  That's convenient.

The great thing about Dracula is that there is also a movie.  I was able to watch it and wow, did they take a lot of creative liberties!  I understand that movies often need to be different from books to keep people interested and entertained, but come on.  Mina was in love with her husband, not Dracula! 

In October I started thinking about a second book.  My sister has read a lot of the books on that list, so I asked her what she would recommend and ordered The Three Musketeers.  She said it was an easy read that would make me laugh.  I was excited.

When it arrived, I discovered that it is 700 pages!  So, there's no way that could happen before the end of February.

Instead of finding another book right away, I dragged my heals.  Finally in December we were at Chapters again and I bought The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  At 180 pages I knew this was my best option.  My version had a basic cover with stickers on the inside so that I could create my own cover art.  We were off to a good start!

I didn't seriously start reading this book till January, but then I got through it really quickly.  If you haven't read this one, it's about a man who lives on earth and his friend Ford, who is from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. The earth man, Arthur, has no idea that Ford isn't from earth till Ford saves Arthur from the demolition of earth by taking him hitchhiking on an alien space ship.  They get thrown off of the ship and miraculously rescued by another ship.  The second ship has been stolen by the president of the galaxy and is trying to find Magrathea, a fabled planet that no one believes really exists.  They do find it, only to discover that the people of Magrathea are creating Earth 2, to replace the demolished first version, which was also created by Magrathea. 
It was an easy read and had some humor to it, but I wasn't all that excited by it.  To me, it didn't seem like there was much of a climax to the story.  Some exciting things happened and luck almost always saved the day and then it was over.  Perhaps if I read the next book or two I might get more into the story. 

Luckily, this book also has a movie, which just so happened to be on Netflix.  I watched it and was really pleased with the adaptation.  They did change a few things, adding a bit more of a climax, but they did a great job of keeping the basics together.  And the casting was perfect.   Since there are some very different words in the book (like Magrathea), I discovered that I had been saying them wrong.  I kind of liked that.

I'll continue to make my way through the list, but I'm excited to get back to some modern reads.  Chris Hadfield's book is waiting to be read and I can't wait!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Make Yarn Balloons

Make Yarn Balloons
January 27, 2014

I'm a serious knitter.  My gran taught me when I was too young to remember learning.  Through my teenage years I didn't knit all that often, but picked it up again in my mid 20's.  I knit everyday.  I need it in my life.  There's just no going without it.

In the past year or so I've been branching out to other crafts and kept seeing yarn balloons on Pinterest and other websites.  They're beautiful and seemed easy enough to make.

This list was made before we bought a new home.  We're building the home, so haven't moved in yet and making yarn balloons doesn't seem like a smart thing to do before undergoing a move.  What if they get completely ruined in the process?

Well... hopefully that doesn't happen.  We don't move till after my birthday, so I couldn't put this off any longer.

I bought some punch balloons because they're rounder than normal balloons.  Luckily I already had some glue, so I was all set.

I hung the balloon on a hanger on the shower curtain and used some tinfoil, shaped into a small bowl, to mix the glue with a little bit of water and started running yarn through the mixture.  It was really gloopy, but spread well over the yarn.  Of course, I couldn't put all of the intended yarn into the glue all at once, so it became a balancing act trying to wrap the yarn around the balloon, while soaking it in glue/water while it was still on the rest of the skein.

My intention was to make 3 balloons.  First was the blue one.  By the second one, I realized that 3 just wasn't going to happen.  I started with a full bottle of Elmers and ran out of glue.  That's a lot of glue on two balloons!

The pink went a lot more smoothly for yarn placement, but suddenly it felt like all of the loose hairs on my head were stuck to my gluey hands or yarn.  Needing to get them off, they ended up all over my tub, glued down.  That was an interesting mess to clean up afterwards!

Making both balloons took a little less than an hour and I can't say I enjoyed it.  The whole time I just wanted to finish them...

I left them hanging to dry in the bathroom for a little over 24 hours and then popped the balloons.  As the balloons deflated, they pulled the yarn in on itself.  It seemed like they were ruined, but I had left them to dry for so long I figured they had to have been finished.  Luckily, I was right and they went back into the correct shape very quickly.  It was a neat process, but I probably would have liked it a lot more if I knew that they were going to be fine.

Now they're hanging in the guest room closet, waiting for the move.  Hopefully nothing happens to them, because they look great.  They'll look even better hanging from the roof in my new knitting room!