Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Heat of Summer


The end of each day brings salt crusted evidence of hard work. Dirt covered faces, tans deep now, pale skin showing where the clothing stops. Top buns are frankly scraggly and ponytails migrated to the side of the head during 10 hours of bending to place trees in the ground. Some people's skin has transformed, while others, though a flush has replaced the glowing white of winter, still sport a pale visage. 

Back at camp, tights turn to shorts, sweaters to sleeveless and wool socks are tossed off with relief, sandals slipped on. The cooks are more responsible than I, wearing the proper PPE (personal protective equipment). Still, an open oven door leaves marks on arms and legs. Unavoidable. For me, it's Havianas and soft jean shorts every day. 

- - -

Waking up, the air is thick with the smell of forest fire. Barely awake, it still registers clearly. On the edge of Banff National Park, four days ago, lightning struck and a rip roaring fire ignited. Hungry, flames lick at every leaf, branch and stem, the inhabitants fleeing before the inevitable decimation of their homes. When I emerge from the trailer, the air is hazy, thick with the remnants of a forest. 

I am groggy from 3 beers and no water, but last night/ day was so lovely. The watering hole was greeted enthusiastically by our whole camp, after a long hot sticky shift. Crisp dives, brown bodies slipping in like seals; children at play, leaping for frisbees, backflipping, front flopping, yells cut off by each welcome plunge. They have been planting the trees faster than they come, so an early finish meant some leisure time under the hot sun, transformed from blistering to beautiful in the face of water at hand.

- - -   









Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Spring Plant.

Sometime in MAY///

After hanging about ominously for a large part of the day, the clouds have finally let loose. The rain has been pouring down in torrents; the pounders are getting pounded. They will be home soon. Thankfully, I know what these wet through souls do not - there is roast beef to be smothered in gravy, yams and cheesecake awaiting them. A feast lies just ahead.

In thinking about what to write, I have been hesitant. Not wanting, afraid even, to repeat myself. Afraid of boring you. But, the truth is, there are things that happen out here every year. Each year, I eagerly await the first buds and as they unfurl, I glory in their new, fresh, almost neon green. Entire hillsides covered in those tender new leaves. From the end of winter to spring to summer, much changes and it is far too easy to miss. Each year, planters go from strangers to familiar faces. Each year, we wake up early and stay awake until the sun goes down. The light and weather are my going concerns.

This year has begun well, though a spate of injuries has kept our first aid attendants busy. I can't help comparing planting to high school. 4 years, rites of passage, bonding over embarrassing moments and telling stories of people that have come and gone. It is strange to think back to the beginning. Strange to think of the things were unknown and intimidating that are now a part of my daily routine, barely causing a ripple.  

The propane heater in the dry tent needs to be started - wool socks and dripping sweaters and drenched jackets will soon cover the twine clotheslines hanging in big yellow. And most importantly, boots! Wet boots guarantee misery. I need to go put on Tim's too big rain jacket and get things ready, looking voluminous in steel blue. C'est la vie - one the best things about planting is that how one looks is much lower on the list of priorities. Dirt for makeup, sweat for glow. 


Monday, 17 March 2014

The Wedding/Reflection.

A month in. MARRIED. T & B. Today though, I want to reflect a bit on that ever-important day, the day when we became husband and wife officially.

Our wedding was completely wonderful. The days surrounding it (and the day of) were a lesson in grace and gratitude.

Because it is such a monumental day, one wonders how it will feel, cultural stereotypes playing in, as well as your own expectations and anticipation. I mostly thought about how I would feel, walking down the aisle, saying my vows, posing for pictures. Would I be nervous, excited?

But, what I could not imagine, even the tiniest bit, was how it would feel to have the love and the joy of your most loved people beaming at you at a million megawatts an hour. The tangibility of that love and support buoys you up way past cloud 9. When I look back our wedding day, always, I will remember how that felt. And that is gift we carry with us every day. Ok. Mush break.

This post is filled with pictures from our friends - the day through their eyes.

Newly marrieds at the reception. Photo by Jordan Todd. Thanks J Todd! We love you!

Photo by Tessa Suderman - documentaire extraordinaire - during outdoor photos.
4 of my 5 stunning bridesmaids, captured in color by Meg.

How could anyone be a bridezilla when they have such wonderful families welcoming you in and friends all around with the sole aim of helping you feel non-stressed, rested, on top of things, and happy? I know how incredible my friends are, but I hit the jackpot with Tim's immediate and extended family. Roths and Hunkas and all other names that make up the clan - it was so wonderful to meet those of you who could join us on the day! I can't wait for years of getting to know you all - between wine glasses clinking, Christmas gift exchanges, long meals and exotic locations...like Delta, BC. 

During our honeymoon in Costa Rica, I took some time away from drinking in the beautiful views and margaritas to write down what I remembered from February 15. From my moleskin (abridged):

"On Saturday, Tim and I got married. Unlike the weeks leading up to it, the day dawned with the promise of the previous day - bright, blue sky and temperate for February in SK. As I had hoped, the planning and stress melted away...

Nerves didn't come, even as the girls and I finished getting ready and we got to the church. I walked down the aisle confident, sure and ready. Though the day went by fast, I remember it - I was there. I remember seeing Kendra & Em & Chad & Charmaine & the kids as I began to walk down the aisle. But, as I turned my attention to Tim, all the smiling faces looking back at me blended into one joyous mass. Though I felt a lot of emotion, for once it was contained to a glisten and I reached the front of the cathedral free of a drenched dress. Light, my forever friend, did not desert me and the church was filled with golden light - haloing Tim's blond hair and bathing my face with warmth as we spoke our vows to each other...

James was wonderful, and after doing some shots at the church, we headed out to the windy and considerably colder open prairie. Unsheltered by the city - the cold shocked us all and so did the depth of the snow as half the bridal party and James spectacularly biffed it (camera and all). We got to the hall early to take some inside shots and it was perfect. People filled the loft as we finished and began to mix and mingle, beers in hand. The food was even better than at the tasting, and our vision of a great dinner party came to fruition." 

Black and white photos by the woman who made me want to pick up film, Meg Kroeker.

Our cake by the brilliant Sherry Sawatsky of Sliced Decadence.

Table Settings. My favorite author, my favorite table card by Beth Freeman, artist. MOH.

Where our beauty comes from. Parents!

T &B.

In recent years, I have observed a change take place in my friends who get married. One I couldn't put into words, but without exception, religious or not, post marriage there was something altered in their relationship. A solidity somehow, a confidence. A peace. Now, being on the other side of that commitment, I feel a change as well. Though I felt and believed myself to be completely committed to Tim before, something does change when that declaration is made before others and to the other person. I don't necessarily think my commitment level is different, but I believe that in marriage, in those promises, something sacred takes place, even though it is also a legal contract and act. Something that can eclipse any vision of balls and chains. 

This is the magic of marriage, the offering of yourself to another, to think both less and more of yourself than you always have. Less, in that your selfish dial can now be cranked down to low and that your capacity for generosity can be dialed up. And more, that you can be better version of yourself and that you can believe that you are worth this person's love and their commitment. More, that you have the support of another, always. Your back is had, so go ahead and be great...and not-so-great too. They'll still be there.

I loved the exhortation that Reverend Scott gave us at the wedding...he encouraged us "have a big house", one big enough to hold all who come for food, encouragement and counsel, out of grief or joy, or just for a couple hours. To allow our marriage and union to MAKE OUR HEARTS BIGGER - two hearts that join, able to love more and better. What brilliant advice. 

I am so thankful to have found my person. I am so thankful to have found Tim Roth.  Tim, I love you. I am so thankful and proud to be your wife. 

Last, but certainly not least, Tessa made a video of the wedding! Click to watch below.

ROTHTHEPARTY video by Tessa Suderman, click here.


Monday, 20 January 2014

Wedding Confessionals


After a request for a "mind dump" on the blog, I have been trying to comply! What follows is the last couple weeks in fragments.



Monday January 13

What do I say after yet another absence from this space? I must own to my inconsistency, my flakiness as a writer. Though it was not an official resolution, to write more is a resolution ever gathering strength. So many paragraphs formed in my head, only to disappear with the absence of a pen and paper to record them. Just yesterday, I was thinking about this entry and wrote (what seemed to be) a brilliant opening. What was it? No idea. It's off floating on the gusting winds.

The wedding is little more than a month away, and while I feel incredibly excited as it grows closer, I must confess, there are moments where all I think about is everything I have yet to do. Yet to confirm, yet to plan. And, at the the same time, I feel guilty at being stressed and not just joyful at the thought of our wedding day. Egad! Too many emotions.

Thursday January 16

A calm has settled the last couple days; will this calm slowly replace the buzzing anxiety that has come to stay the last couple months? I sure hope so. This morning I sit as the darkness begins to lift, the sky beginning to blue over the black treetops.

I need to leave for work in little over an hour, and in between I will mostly sit at my computer and then kick it into high gear when I have just enough time to get ready and leave for work on time. It is a new habit I have developed, not one that I particularly like - but these days, I am trying not to berate myself for small things.

With one month less a day until the wedding, though there is still much to do,  but excitement is winning. Excitement for THE DAY and all that entails, excitement to see friends and family from far away and eagerness to celebrate together. A break from the planning, a break to Costa Rica and then the beginning, officially, of a new life together.




Letterpress by the INCREDIBLE Jessica Hische, you can purchase her work here.

Monday January 20

Today I am feeling thankful.

Thankful for generous family and friends. Rebecca and the Moms (my Mom, Tim's Mom, should I just say my Moms? Newness...) threw a bridal shower for me yesterday and I am so thankful for the time people carved out of their busy lives to come, as well as the gifts and the advice I received. I feel spoiled.

My parents also came up for the weekend; while I was at work on Saturday, my Mom organized our new place (which was very disorganized post-move, it now looks and feels great) and Tim, my Dad and Grandpa Ikert built an unreal table! It will serve as one of the head tables, but more importantly it will be a table to gather around - for people to sit and be fed, for people to play board games and laugh, a place for toasts to be raised and fondues to sizzle.

In an email the other day, someone wrote: the countdown is on. It sure is. 26 days.




Monday, 4 November 2013

Pizza Diaries



Hat Print by the ever-wonderful Rifle Paper Co.

Last night brought the first snowfall of the year. Though I have been reserving a certain amount of dread for the onset of winter, instead this morning finds me humming happily away in my burrow. It does help that I have the day off today (my days off from the bakery/pizzeria are Sunday and Monday) and ahead...two bonus days owing to the delivery of a new proofer and some other equipment for the bakery that will shut down our production temporarily.

Though my first thought regarding the days off was worry about the loss of wages - after feeling run off my feet for the last two weeks, I am am thankful for the chance to catch up on wedding planning and job applications. The way the government seems to move, if I want to get a job by next year, I should apply now. Seriously. But. I am feeling much more confident as the pizza lady and finished our Saturday supper rush with a bang as I did two pizzas at once in the oven. I was triumphant! 

At Christies Il Secondo, we have a wood fired pizza oven, with the fire and pizzas in the same oven space. So if the right amount of flame isn't in there, the dough won't blister or puff properly. However, if the bottom is too hot, but bottom of the pizza cooks faster than the top and really, very few people crave blackened (ok, burnt) pizza crust. Since we hand turn (using a long tool called a peel) and maneuver each pizza for the 60 seconds or so that they are in the oven, doing two at once can be tricky. Thus, rocking out my first two solid pizzas at once was a great way to end the week.

This past week has been about small victories. Or really, a large one in a way. The last few years I have struggled with being active. I have been more often found in front of my computer, on my bed or couch with a book or Grey's Anatomy (or other myriad shows and movies). As I have continued my love affair with cooking, I have increased the amount that I eat (and often, richness of the foods I am eating, aka Mastering the Art of French Cooking). As I read Julia Child's letters and memoirs and she describes feeling "bilious",  I have given more than one Amen, Sister! This combination of overeating and little activity has led to extra weight and feeling like an unhealthy blob. Undoubtedly, ridiculous societal expectations have been playing into my negative mental image of myself and I do not want give them any credence. With that said, feeling stuffed and like I need to lay down after most meals is excessive. So, with help of Tracy Anderson workout DVD's and following her meal plans/diet, I am 8 days in and feeling really good.* Which deserves at least one fist pump. Maybe two. So chalk up another victory. 

I'm feeling good. And cozy inside, with bright light reflecting off the snow coming in.

Until next time,
Elizabeth

*Note: the first 5 days were hellish and I was grumpy and hating it. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

To Be



This is a time of in betweens. In between school and work, student and employee. In between engaged and married, girlfriend and wife.

It is lovely being engaged, but most times it feels normal, even humdrum. Calling caterers, sending countless email inquiries, designing invitations...shifting, kerning, weighing. This or that. And then come moments of magic. Picking up a nondescript cardboard box from UPS and carrying it home. Carefully opening it to reveal a white garment bag inside, slipping out of my everyday clothes and into my wedding dress. A frisson of wonder ripples through me as I look in the mirror, half my mind on what I see and the other half imagining turning the corner at the back of the cathedral and seeing Tim waiting the end of that long aisle. I will be wearing this dress on that day.

And until then, I am a to-be wife. To-be sister. And hopefully, to-be employed.

Until then - I will plan, apply and enjoy the last of the fall days.

Pictured above: Ideal Bookshelf #230 (Writing) by Jane Mount. 

---

P.S. How To make Creme Fraiche

1 cup (240 mL) whipping cream
1/4 cup (60 mL) buttermilk

Stir together the cream and buttermilk. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 24 hrs. Unwrap stir and refrigerate. Will keep up to one week.


Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Lucky One

Hello.

I am still here, after a long absence. From the woods to the prairies and back again.

These days, I spend my days at home. Jobless and searching for gainful employment. It is mostly nice. Nice to have time to cook and make new friends, drinking coffee in the sun. Walking along the river before winter comes. Wedding planning at a relaxed pace. Some days I feel very blah. Discouraged at the lack of response or rejections. But, mostly I know that something will come along.

Mail from Tiff & Gareth (the print of you beauties is up on fridge already), Tessa (loved the typewritten reply) and Meg (I am taking it over for Tim to read tonight, loved it!) came today. Tess also typed the following on the bottom of her letter:
"It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things." -Donald Miller

I, of course, burst into tears. I can not, even now, explain exactly why, but I think the simplest answer it that it is true. It struck a deep chord and when that happens, I invariably cry. Heck, I cry at the pluck of string. Anyway, I am thankful for the mail today from three women I love dearly. I am also thankful for all the encouragement from everyone here in Saskatoon when I feel discouraged, they make those blah days so much better.

This song has been on repeat today. Have you heard it before? I don't know where I have been, but I think I will have to acquire this album. "Youth", by the band Daughter.

Talk soon,
Elizabeth