Monday, October 31, 2011

Make Music Every Day

"Make music every day," were the final words I received from my father in my 21st birthday card, right before the "I love you."

That was his advice to me, or perhaps his desire or wish.

However I took it, what incredible weight those words hold for me.

Music is definitely a gift in the Hubert family. It's something we all can and love to do. It's how we connect with the world and blare out those out-of-the-box thoughts that whir in our brains.

I'm really grateful that I was able to bring my cello with me to L'Abri.

With a ban on recorded music, it's music of our own creation that fills the huge house during the evenings and breaks.

I've found another already-musician to play with, Miss Anna of Kansas. She plays the piano so sweetly and post-lunch jams with her are the perfect the dessert.

Richard came to L'Abri with perhaps one or two chords under his belt and a single strumming pattern. But oh how he has improved and learned! Daily determination has helped form him into a musician I can also jam with. Am, Em, Am, Em, Am, Em. Over and over. We work on his muscle memory as I get to exercise improvisation.

Marie Madelein is our classical guitar extraordinaire.

Melanie is the Queen of Parodies. She takes the lead role in rewriting popular tunes to fit the L'Abri mood. We have a small selection of songs that a handful of us love to blare out on the frequent occasion. Love it.

It's fun singing with In Young - she knows a few songs in English and I've been learning one in Korean. One of my favourite memories is stumbling up the hill with her, arm in arm, screaming out the chorus of, "Hey Jude," by the Beatles.

Dear Dad - yes, I'll make music every day, just as you told me to. If that is your only desire for me this upcoming year, I can only think of how it will bless me and others to pursue it. Making music daily goes beyond practice for us, that I know. For us, music is not determined by theory and written notes but these feelings we get and melodies that ramble through our heads.

Make music every day.
Sounds good.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Will Work for Tea


Each regular day, for three hours total, the students and one of the helpers labour away around the L’Abri property. We wield our axes and maneuver around salaal plants with large lopper-of-sorts with only a few brief words of instruction to prepare us.

By the time it’s 4:30 PM, mandatory tea, we come back, more often than not, dirt-stained, paint-speckled, and ready for that promised hot cup of tea to give us the energy needed for the last hour and half of work.

These hours are not something I abhor but endear. I like getting grime under my nails. I enjoy sweating under my rain gear. I love the muck. Physical labour in the company of close friends slips right past the chore-radar and is accepted as just another activity to do. Working with the other students brings us closer and gives us a chance to let the conversations wander.

Our tasks are, for the most part, outside. We’ve cleaned chicken coops, harvested vegetables from the garden, turned compost, gathered sticks, cleared trails, hacked at hemlocks, destroyed salaal, tidied the greenhouse, painted, stained, helped build a deck, shoveled wood chips, gathered flowers from around the property, and done everything concerning fire wood - chop ‘em, sort ‘em, move ‘em, dry ‘em, stack ‘em and re-steack ‘em. Oh the luxury!

Chopping is the top task of choice for, I know, at least one of the students, Melanie. Wood is the perfect scapegoat for any bottled up frustration, anger, or emotion that best likes to come out with full on physical... violence?

This work, I know, is good for me on all sorts of different levels.

One way is with my SPD. The act of pushing, pulling, and moving provides all sorts of sensory input. The benefits make me crave this lifestyle to continue all the more.

Another way is the reward of seeing the actual results to your labour. This isn’t some task that just comes out as a piece of paper that I hand in to a professor and get a letter in return for. No sir. At the end of a task, I normally have something I can stand back and smile at - I can size up the tower of wood, taller than me, or I can walk the trail just carved into the woods. Instead of knowing I’m close to the end of an essay by word count, the shrinking size of the wood pile, decreasing in size with each shovel-full, is my indicator that my job is almost done.  Oh to have tangible results! And the knowledge that what I’m doing has a purpose in the scheme of living; the wood will keep us warm, the chickens will be happier with a clean coop and continue to give us eggs, and the food from the garden will do what food does best.

If this work is character building, I’d say that explains a lot of the character developments in our crew. We must have incredible character by now!

I’m grateful that each of the students has a brinking-on-admirable work-ethic. All of us are willing to work and do work. The workers here have told us that our group, altogether, has done more work than the past three terms combined! Once we were staining the deck, a large portion, and we finished in half a work period. At the end, Jeff pointed to a small, small portion of the deck. Apparently, it had taken a past term more than one work period to do half of what we had just done. With everyone working, that becomes the standard. It’s an encouragement to keep up with it and not lag behind. With everyone doing what they can, there’s no resentment in the uneven distribution of work to do. We all pull our own weight, and with that comes our approval.

Fifteen hours a week of work - time that bonds the group further and drives us outside. I can’t complain.

Friday, October 28, 2011

October 24, 2011

This is a blog post in which I shamelessly describe the details of a day for the sake of having a day recorded.

Today it is Monday, Monday (well, yesterday was - that’s the day I’ll be writing about - Monday the 24th of October, 2011).

6 AM waking up in the morning... it was time for In Young’s daily walk, not mine. I heard her tromp out the door and slipped back into that harsh dream state where you remember everything that filters through your head. At 7:58 AM, I heard her voice again, “Buddy, two minutes to breakfast!”

I jumped out of bed and threw on the salmon shirt, the blue sweater, orange pants, and skittered to the table where people had almost finished setting themselves down. I was relieved that someone had already set the table, a job I wasn’t sure if I still had. I wasn’t sitting in my normal seat (living room side, far right) but on the kitchen side second from the end. I was pleased as punch to be next to Melanie. All gathered were In Young, Melanie, Marie Madelein, Richie, Anna, Micah . Richie was across from me with Micah to the right followed by Jeff at the end. In Young was to my direct left. Marie Madelein was on the other side of Melanie. Anna was across and to the left, looking at her.

“Biscuits,” we were informed, by Melanie, as the meal was announced, and she also told us that one biscuit, the one that looked odd, was specifically for me.

Delights! A special biscuit for me! I was eager to see it.

I grabbed a day old slice of French toast and buttered it up while waiting for the biscuits to make their rounds. Micah encountered the funny-shaped biscuit and held the basket over my way. I looked in to see a charming starfish biscuit smiling up at me... well, as best as a biscuit could smile if they did smile.

Slicing him open seemed tragic, but worth it when I got to see the butter melt in in interior.

We had Jeff with us this morning and the contents of my dream spilled out.

My dream centered around high school graduation and reminiscing. People like Jordan Eaton, Christian Kang, Alanna Francis, and Sarah Wyler were there. They took us back to our elementary classrooms where we sat and waited and were led in some standard elementary tunes. I remember feeling short as we lounged on the floor. We were then ushered into the main gym and we were all wearing these long sweatshirt like robes that were accented with shiny black material. I then figured we had picked out the designs through Jostens when we ordered them. I was not pleased I had picked one that said, “Inglemoor First Ladies” or something like that. Others had ones that looked like the Superman symbol, but with Inglemoor letters. I remember seeing Jordan. I walked up the bleachers to sit next to Christian and was excited to sing him a Korean song In Young (who I live with now) had taught me. Later we all went out and Peter Reid had a bright red, huge truck. It had a button in the back that could be pushed to silently shut down the vehicle. Then we were given viewmasters (bright blue) with half cards that fit in and had the alphabet. This is around when I was woken up.

I believe Jeff then read us Bonhoeffer but I am not entirely certain. This morning must have been quite unusual as I did not volunteer to do dishes. I believe Richie and Anna did them this morning.

I ran back to the bedroom to get ready. Brushed my teeth. Washed my face. And then there was a good chunk of time before we had morning prayer at 9:30 AM.

My agenda tools were grabbed, along with a print out copy of Winnie-the-Pooh, and I found a spot next to the fire to rewrite my favourite parts of it before giving my script back to the Adams. I asked Michah if he had a business card and he got me and In Young both one. Melanie then displayed her impressive photographic memory, I believe, by memorizing the numbers by saying them out loud. Richie cleaned himself and his hair turned fluffy.

Prayer time, I sat first on the big blue couch but then got up so Julia could sit there (it’s quite comfy and she deserves the highest of comforts). I then sat on the little rocking chair and eventually moved next to Marie Madelein and Richie on the black sofa.

We waited until Jessica came (the computers had been giving her grief) and sang “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and “Amazing Grace” a capella. With no words for the first one, I was forced to lip-sync or hum.

After that she read to us parts of the gospels and about Peter, oh Peter. She then read to us a final letter from one of the men who the movie, “Of God and Men," was based off of. It was written right before he was murdered or martyred in Albania. We offered up our thanksgivings and petitions and prayed over them. At 10:45 AM I slipped away to start heating up the water for tea, which I had already set up, for the most part, after breakfast. I selected peppermint (loose leaf) and Earl Grey (Twinnings).

At 11 AM on the dot, Julia closed up the prayer (I was still in the kitchen) and we gathered for tea. I asked Jessica if she wanted the photographs in the album of the photo book she had given away. She asked about that and I told her about the box of books we were told we could take from. She was glad I had mentioned that because those books were not, in fact, for the taking but for storage. Now she could get them all back. We gathered the books back up and drank tea. I read Winnie-the-Pooh.

For Monday-tidy they put me in the basement (as usual, because of my SPD, I do best there) and on porches. I swept the long hall to the tunes of Jamie Cullum, Blue Scholars (Julia came downstairs during this one), and some other lovely bands I can’t quite name. I tidied the laundry room, dusted around a bit, and vacuumed the stairs. Swept the porches and tidied some more. I also swept the lower porch because, well, it really needed it.

Around this time, we were asked who wanted to go pick pumpkins and Melanie did. I quickly finished my job (sweep sweep sweep), saw that Micah had taken apart the vacuum (it was horrible at sucking), and talked about the Onion. I grabbed my camera to go shoot Melanie in her harvesting. So many large beautiful pumpkins! And some sweet babies too. Micah came over with the vacuum contents to put in the compost and all three of us walked back to the house together, the pumpkins in a wheelbarrow. Melanie arranged the pumpkins on the deck and then Richie and she posed awkwardly with them for me.

Time for silent lunch. I gathered my mung bean soup, salad, and a slice of banana bread before heading over to the Adams’ house to “watch” Gabriel as he napped. I used this time to work on photographs, blog, and fill out my agenda some more.

Screams were heard from the bedroom and I knew that Gabriel’s long, restful nap was over. He screamed for his mother and I followed the “Gabriel Wakes-Up” procedure. A quick call to the Scheibes let Jeff and Carrie know their son was awake so they could come take care of him. Then I scrambled upstairs to his bedroom, his cries getting louder. He seemed inconsolable the first minute as I tried to think of how to distract him. I opened a few windows and then started talking to him about his mom and how she was coming home. “Want me to hold you?” a phrase he is familiar with. He put his arms up and I picked him up and walked him to the window. “In just a minute,” I said, “Mommy will be coming up this road to you. Do you want to go see her? Let’s go wait for her on the porch.” And so he stopped crying and I carried him down the stairs to their new deck in the back where the sun was shining. I found a dry corner and set him down on my lap and we waited for the parents to arrive. I had been told it would only take a minute or so for them to come back but in this day it took them a wonderful, long 10 minutes or so to make it back to the house. The entire time I tried to distract Gabriel with thoughts and was pleased when he seemed quite content fo the entire time. I’ve seen Gabriel after naps before and the general pattern seems to be random crying following the wake-up for a good deal of time. We spoke of dragon flies and pigs and wet water and what we would do if there was snow on the deck. Jeff strolled down the lane and Gabriel and I greeted him with wide waves. The exchange happened and I was set to go back to the main house - hearing, “Good-bye Maggie!” being yelled at me the entire walk back.

Back home, it was already study time, around 3:20 PM. At this point I felt torn as to what I ought to do with my time. We only have half a study day on Mondays in the afternoon. Normally I study the first half and the second half I use to walk or bike somewhere. This helps keep my brain level and on tight. Since we would be sitting the second half, I switched back and forth between walking or staying at home and reading. I chose to head out and set out into the woods.

I wandered down paths and trails and eventually came to a rope hanging down. For 7 minutes, I stood right where the ropes was and spun it around my body, counting the number of times it took for it to finally hit me in its orbit. Further steps took me to the side paths that I always pass by because they are deliberately overgrown. The first path I took used to be something of a road which turned out to go to nowhere. The further down I walked, the thicker the trees got - but they were all quite young. I backtracked and picked another path. This one went further and further into the woods. All I could hear was the occasional chattering raven, twittering lil’bird, and the leaves rubbing themselves against each other by the encouraging of the wind. The isolation started to make me feel uneager and I didn’t take my time getting back onto the main road.

4:30 PM was mandatory tea and the usual was there except for Richard, who missed the entire thing. Today was Jeff’s turn to talk about the Kingdom and he wanted to get a head start at 4:45 PM as to make sure we had enough time to discuss all our brains could come up with in the limited time allotted. Melanie and Micah were on the couch by the window. I was on the left side of the black couch (my favourite spot). In Young and Marie Madelein were in the back on chairs. And Richard came in, almost late, and took the blue couch.

Jeff’s lecture managed to keep me engaged no problem, even despite the fact that I hadn’t taken my medications that day. At the end we did have questions and wrestled with thoughts of prayerlessness and the Kingdom.

The lecture went all the way up to 6:30 PM - time for dinner at the Scheibe’s. Dinner was same as the first meal I had at L’Abri, sweet potato noodles with basil, something spicy, something oily, and sausage. It sounds as simple as it is but tastes about eight time more delicious than it sounds. The side salad was refreshing as usual. Marie Madelein and I did the dishes after the meal, and interest feat at L’Abri as we don’t use dishwasher-machines. We are the dishwashers. I rinsed and dried and she scrubbed the dishes to perfection.

As we finished up the dishes we could hear viola singing away with the piano five rooms over - Micah on the viola with Anna on the piano. As they played beautifully, I nabbed my agenda and started to fill it out, catching up on the life I had failed to record. Richard came over and sat across and I asked him what we had done on a day. Turns out he keeps tabs on his day so he ran and got his documentation notebook and we went through all the days I had not yet recorded. Behind us, Anna, Melanie, and Micah were reading a Father Brown book and laughing outrageously out-loud. It was refreshing. Richard was hungry and nabbed some kettle-corn from the fridge and I sat myself down between Anna and Melanie on the couch. There was a discussion about reason and feelings and I enjoyed their talking - grabbing handfuls of kettle-corn between thoughts.

They opened the book again and Anna read a new story out while I played with her hair, twisting it and turning it into mohawk-attempts. The gruesome chapter, “Secret Garden” was laid out and we cringed and laughed away at the classic humour. Post story, bed time.

I remember it was a quick and pleasant trip to sleep.
And that was my day at L’Abri.

Gettin` Low in the Community - Have a Hand

The thing about living with a group of people continuously for a few months is that, over time, they get to see pretty much every side of you.

Where I can normally hide my “down” side, the part of me that sometimes shuts down a lot of emotions, here it shows on the occasion.

What an encouraging lot I live with!

First off, they don’t try to yank me out of it like something is wrong.

One day, I had a silly ounce of frustration as a result of feeling isolated during a 1.5 hour period of time. I was vocalizing those emotions, acknowledging that I thought they were out of place. But then, one of the girls, Abigail, she looked at me and related to that. She reconfirmed my emotions, didn’t belittle them, and that meant so much to me. I didn’t need someone to reason with me then. I didn’t need someone to make me laugh. I needed someone to validate what I was feeling which brought me back.

Another one of the students, In Young, has been wonderful at getting me back. She’ll ask, “Are you ok?” and sometimes I’ll just be honest with her and say, “Not really.” Often these are at points where my senses are rearing around and jamming up in my brain. Then she often gives me a hand or back massage. If only she knew how much it helped my brain get back! The pressure on my body is often just what I need to calm down and feel better. I am so grateful for that. And when I’m in a less-than-ideal mood she can normally reach out and help me back up without even knowing she’s doing it. She can get me back to normal in record time.

Then there’s Melanie - she’s definitely wonderful and understanding when I get into those places. I can rely on her to be a steady friend and ear at times, even when I need to do a super-fast vent, shake it out, and move on. And her words are golden! What Melanie says goes. She`s relate able and genuine.

It’s been quite healthy for me to experience different emotions within this group dynamic. It’s a bit nice to have people get to know every side of me.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Practicing My Angry Face

Today I practiced looking angry.
After many failed attempts, I decided it was a lost cause.
Chipper I shall remain.

Reflection On Last Days -- 19 Days Left

Anna’s in the living room reading a novel.
Julia and Samuel are in the barn playing after their time spent in the garden gathering tomatillos and flowers.
Melanie is in the library.
And I’m just about as close to the fire as you can get.

In Young and Marie-Madeleine are in Victoria, BC and Richard is going to Whistler via Vancouver.

Jeff, Carrie, Gabriel, and Isabel are going to town.
Clarke and Jessica are doing the weekly shopping for the community.

What a life.

Sun finally came out and our plans for Tunstall Bay expotition are still set in place.

I adore this life.

And with such limited time left within it, I start to do that thinking that one does when something good is about to come to an end. Only 19 more days of this life is left.

Such a familiar feeling, so familiar that I’ve almost become numb to it.

My first “only a few days left of this life” moment was when I was 16 and packing to go to Switzerland for a solid year. I was brinked full of a slurry of emotions of mixed excitement, anticipation, and curiosity. It was the positive wonders that overtook any worry I could have and the transition from America to Switzerland, from the Hubert Family to Familie Hinter, from English to German, was smooth. The will to adapt made adjusting all the more easier.

The end of my year in Switzerland brought on the second “last days.” These had sickening potential and I denied my departure with full vigor... until I had to start saying “Good-bye” which brought on a new pain I had never experienced before. Without the certainty of a return, the unknowns of the separation affected me deeply in ways that later showed up in my American life in the form of panic attacks and lack of desire to eat.

Then there was the leaving of my high school life in June 2009, the last days with my high school mates. This wasn’t a phase of life I was going to spend any time morning about. High school? Over it. Prom and the graduation ceremony just seemed like barriers keeeping me from moving on with life.

Next time I got to say “good-bye” to my daily life was when I went back to Switzerland with the intentions of staying for a year. This one was one of the easiest last days I ever was put through. The promise of reunification with the sweetest slices of my Swiss life overwhelmed my brain and there was no remorse as I boarded the plane for Geneva.

My premature departure from Switzerland meant yet another time to leave. These were peculiar days - sudden and unexpected. I had only a handful of friends to say good-bye to and my dearest friend, Alice, had already left for England. This was a time God had used to give me closure to my previous time in Switzerland, sewing up open sores that I never let heal properly, and he was so involved in the process that leaving once again was not too emotionally exhausting. I understand the purpose of my time there and knew that what had needed to be done was complete and it was time to move on with my life.

Leaving for L’Abri didn’t come with any “final days” feelings, as I knew I’d be back in just three months which isn’t much at all, but this was one of the least acknowledged departures. I barely told anyone I was leaving, Facebook was not notified but deactivated instead. I unceremoniously left early on a Sunday morning with Brent and Sarah for the border.

And now I have to leave L’Abri.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting when I came here, what I was hoping for. I know my expectations were set ever so low as to not be disappointed - but I think even had I set up high expectations, I would not have been let down.

This tight knit community has woven its way into my heart. With each of us contributing, altogether it is a beautiful thing. God has been here every step of the way as I try to learn to listen, as I long to long for him more. As I learn about the Kingdom.

24 hours a day I spend with these people - spending, at most, one and a half hours by myself in a day at a time before the reunification. Where I thought my introverted self would cry would I have adapted and adjusted, slowly settling in like cozying up on a couch - where each movement you make brings you into deeper comfort.

I have fallen deeper in love with each of the other residents here as layers of each beautiful person are peeled away in conversation and I begin to get to know the heart of each one.

In no time at all, as is usual, I have come to consider this lifestyle my life. What is happening now, this predictable rhythm of existence, is what I know and desire. Moments don’t occur in which I desire to be elsewhere.

This is where I want to be.

And in 19 days, I’ll need to let it all go. I’ll need to loosen my fingers’ grips onto the charms of my L’Abri life and ask God to untangle any ties that it has made with my heart. I hope to put them in a box and give them up to him. That way, with God as the keeper of my memories and emotions, I can move on and he can use them in me later on. I will trust him to toss be back to Fall 2011 to remember a lesson learned and keep me from slipping into the dangerously attractive trap of getting lost in a reminisce, trying to deny the present.

But for now, I’ll keep holding on. With 19 days left, a premature loosening of the ties would leave distorted memories fresh in my head, perverting those dear moments of nothing that have prevailed the hours spent on the hill in the woods on the island up in Canada.


`May-eeee! Doo-ee-oo-ee-oooo!` he shouts as he runs into the room.

Before I even got a `May-ee` (or MAHHH-gee) he called me Didgeridoo.
As he stumbles around chanting `Moh-bike!`we all fall thoroughly in love with him.
Making tea time all the sweeter.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Harvest, Yo!

Today, Melanie picked the pumpkins from the garden.

I wonder what L'Abri will do with them?

I know my high hopes are set on kuerbissuppe (pumpkin soup).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Finest Company

I find myself to be in the finest of company.

In Young, Jeff, Anna, Richard, Melanie, Abigail, Jessica, Clarke, Marie Madeline, Julia, Samuel.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Autumn Skitter

October 16, 2011

Post-library visit, I ran back to the Snug where my friends were using the wireless to catch-up on life back home.

"Done soon? Perhaps done in two hours?"
"Yeah, I think so."

So I ran back out to see what I could find on the island.

I skittered around rocks.
I scurried to find views.
I rested in a meadow.
I shuffled in the leaves.

I enjoyed my favourite season.
And today felt like that season.

I discovered my two new favourite Bowen-locations.
Incredible smells!

I isolated myself.
I escaped the path.

Oh this lovely life.
Lovely lovely life.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fishbowl. Speed Scrabble. Water in Your Face.

September 26, 2011 - L'Abropoly

No computer.
No TV.
No cell phones.

How to entertain oneself? By the finest means!
The company of others!

For the past couple months, or perhaps just a single month, free time has been few and I’ve practiced the art of not go-go-going to entertain myself. Staying in this fine community provides more than enough to do throughout the day with little time for my self.

With the empty evenings and occasional afternoon, we often find ourselves gathering to play games. While before I met have wound down in the evening with some time on Facebook, trudging through the ongoing lives of others, now I enjoy the moment scrabble letters, scraps of paper, pens, and a few shovelfuls of creativity.

Where invitations used to be extended via friend-lists and created “events,” now something eventful can be pulled together over dinner with full inclusion to everyone.

One of our favourite games to play is Fishbowl. It guarantees chortling, creativity, and a few raised eye-brows. Phrases I like to play with include serendipitous wigwams, crepuscular starfish, Anna’s toe-jam, and poop purree.

We play speed scrabble (we use a few sets of scrabble pieces together since we have so many people - just like banagrams), telephone pictionary, and water-in-your-face (not sure if I recommend it or not) among other games. I like to do tanagrams by myself in during the short breaks.

This reminds me of the back-then-times when the family would gather in the parlour for evening games. Guess we have something like that going on... ‘cept we’re just a lot of 20-year-olds (plus a 35 year old) out in the middle of the woods on an island.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

143 Days Later

May 12, 2011
Lake City, WA

I was dancing down the contra line and encountered a few jubilant lads who were spending a few nights to dance in Seattle on their way to Alaska.

May 13, 2011
Phinney Ridge, Seattle, WA

Saw them on the dance floor again.
Went to bar, left bar, went to Dick's, exchanged clothes, went to Cupcake Manor.

May 14, 2011
Green Lake, Seattle, WA

Hang out continues through the night and into the morning. Off to Honkfest.

Boys continue on to Alaska and I remain in Seattle.

and then, 143 days later

October 4, 2011
Vancouver, BC

Back they come. North to South.
Seems like I've known them longer than I really do as I get thrown over a shoulder and carried around.

And perhaps I'll see them in around 193 days when they make there way back up to Alaska for another season of working.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

the Sitting-And-Waiting-On-A-Bench Game // Vancouver Edition

Miguel and his girlfriend at the Vancouver Public Library

Twice a week, at L'Abri, we are given the day off to go and explore or at least break routine in some way.

It was my first Thursday and my inner-introvert combined with my inner-wanderer got up the desire to head over to Vancouver, BC on my ownsome.

A short ferry trip combined with a long bus ride and I found myself in the 8th largest city in Canada (following Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton, Mississauga, and Winnipeg), but the most densely populated of all the cities.

With such a city (still smaller than Seattle) the chances of running into one of the few people I know was not to be expected, but I decided to play a lovely game.

The game?

Sit on a bench and see how long it takes for someone I know to walk by.

I even picked an inside bench.
Got out a sandwich.
And waited.

The verdict? Answer to the game? How long does it take?

Less time than it takes to eat a sandwich.

In around 7 minutes, my friend Miguel walked by.

Miguel? Who's that?

Miguel is a lovely boy from Columbia, I believe, who I met in Switzerland back in 2007.

What a fine game I have discovered.
It's always lovely knowing wherever I'll go, I can always find a friend.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Your Letters Have Been Received - And I've Written Back

September 24, 2011

Thank you ever ever ever so much for the encouraging beautiful letters I've received from many of you.

They warm my heart, tickle my mind, and fill me with outbursts of laughter.

And here's the thing - I have written back, you just might not have gotten it yet.


Something called Canadian-Post.... which takes forever.

Letters take random amounts of time to get here.... but currently it seem that mail reached me significantly faster in Switzerland than here.

I am still receiving birthday greetings (so wonderful!) which was 20 days ago... and many of these were posted pre-birthday. It seems it takes around 10 days minimum for the mail to get through and I can only imagine how long it takes for my letters to get to you.

But, thank you to all! I adore you much so! Know that your responses are flying through space right now, headed towards you at speeds of millions of kilometers per hour.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Island Time - British Accents and Hitchhiking

It's curious how quickly the human body can adapt to a new location - for me personally, eagerly calling it home. This small island, Bowen Island, and this L’Abri-lifestyle have quickly snatched up my heart and mind to the point where, now, this is where I feel at home.

When out and about (yes, those words ought to be said with a Canadian accent) town (Vancouver), when I think about the return trip back to the island, the words that are in my head are, “Time to go home.” And when people ask where home is, my response often resonates with the idea that I’ve been temporarily relocated to Bowen Island.

This quaint (?) sweet (?) little (definitely) island of a few thousand....

Where the community is thick.
Where dogs take on human-level status.
Where standoffs with deer are frequent.
And where everyone seems to have a British accent.

What I love is the entry point to this community is the ferry. That’s where it call comes together.

Even though I’ve only been here for a short bit and could by no means be considered a resident (especially by the residents who have been here their entire lives) and it is not a reciprocated feeling, I feel this united feeling of belonging as we board and exit the ferry as a walk on. It’s like a parade as the islanders leave the ferry via foot, dispersing when they reach their homelands.

One of my favourite things about the island... two. Two things I like are that there are no chain stores allowed on the island (just try and put a McDonalds here - they would flip!) and the abundant network of walking trails.

Hitchhiking is also frequent, common, acceptable, reliable, and convenient here.

Oh! Oh! And they have bioluminescent plankton here (phosphorescent)! It’s incredible! One of the residents, Matt, has had us over multiple times to check it out in the bay. If you swim late enough at time, well, it’s insane! There’s these little plankton everywhere that light up when you bump into them. So when you jump in, swim, twirl, or move at all, little dots of blue light light up all over the place. When you get out of the water, the lights get out with you and quickly slip down your body. It’s fun to shoot streams of light out with your mouth and glittering all over. Surreal and magnificent. Definitely a wonderful sight to be seen if you can bare the cold (thank you Washington-water for preparing me).

And within this island is the L’Abri community - up on Bishop’s Hill in the thick of the forest with its own clearing, three ponds, and three residencies. Community within a community, like those Russian nesting dolls. Here is yet another place of belonging, culture, and routine (tea, tea, tea, tea, tea - five times a day) that I think merits its own post someday.

Bowen Island is serving me well. It’s a peaceful setting for the kind of growth I’m aiming for and holds enough pockets in the woods to hide in that I feel safe.

I’m grateful I live close enough to it (when I’m “home-home”) that with a bus-train-train-bus-ferry-hitchhike-walk ride, I can easily get myself back here for a weekend to slip back into the meandering rhythm of things.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

That Disconnected Life

I have never been so disconnected for such an extended period of time, before, in my life (since the means of connection were provided).

No internet. No text message. No Facebook. No email. No phone calls.

The only way I can be reached over 86% of the time is via snail mail (which two wonderful friends in my life, Tucker and Lucy, have taken advantage of).

There is a stillness and a here-and-now-ness in the middle of the woods in the middle of an island in the middle of the water off the coast of mainland Canada.

Besides what Tucker and Lucy have told me, I have no idea what is going on in the lives of my other friends.

Right before I left, I deactivated my Facebook account, leaving over 1,400 “friends” of mine in the dark about my existance. Few were told I was leaving, and those few were people I had told were simply the ones I had seen recently. 

Facebook would tell me who has been working out, what another person ate for lunch, and who another person. None of that information is available to me out here.

And I love it. I don’t miss it at all.

And when I do get on the internet, oh, what to do? What to do?

I tend to just swim through the blogosphere a bit, check email for a few minutes, and then, well, what else is there to do with the internet? And I set my self free to experience the real world again.

Facebook-free life is refreshing, full, and not something I want to leave any time soon. Yes. I don’t have any intentions of going back on any time soon.

Cell phone? That necessary?

I don't think so.

I used to pack my life full of events and get togethers, but I like this time of not getting together. I like learning to let life happen as it does... and feeding the chickens.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I don't know that I ever could or would live someplace where you can't see the mountains.

I really like mountains.

Mind Control

Normally I can get my mind to do what I want it to do.
Normally I can tell it to not think about one thing and move on to another.
Right now it isn't obeying and that is something I find frustration in.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sensory Overload in Community Living - First Experience

Yesterday, I had my first potential mild sensory “melt-down” that was luckily averted before I was too far gone.

Living this structured life has both benefited me and required a few ounces of adjustments. Finding the unstructured “alone” time that I need to decompress and re-center is quite hard to come by, which in a sense I think is good for me to learn to live with.

However, on this day, my body rebelled. It decided that enough was enough.

I felt myself feeling a bit overwhelmed around lunch time during our discussion. It was a challenging question we were processing and required some deep thinking. But that was fine, not unusual.

I was feeling a bit suffocated as they heated the house with wood. Whereas I am very comfortable in cool weather, for them, what I find comfortable, they find freezing. One of my housemates kept adding wood to the fire to keep up the warmth. For me, I found it unbearable. I felt like I was being stifled and all I wanted was cool aire to breath. I could slip out on the occasion, but for activities like meal time, they required my presence inside at the table.

Work time is where I felt actually triggered.

Knowing I do best outside, alone, I asked for some outdoor jobs and got to spend a bit of the time working with the compost, recycling, and chickens. However, when all was said and done, I was assigned to the girls’ bathrooms. Bathrooms! A job I used to adore doing. No problem isn being asked to clean bathrooms.

But soon, things started getting to me.

The chemicals started to overwhelm my sense of smell. I felt like I ought not to breath and started to limit that sense. I didn’t feel like inhaling the fumes and that triggered negative emotions in my brain.

Then music.

Then the vacuuming started. It felt like someone was pushing it into my ears and I started to recoil in discomfort.

Rattling in the kitchen.

Please make this noise stop.

But I decided I could push through this. I decided to try and make my mind be greater than my senses. But my mind is my senses and I was not on a path to success.

It was time for me to sweep and mop the floor and I couldn’t find the broom anywhere. Multiple times I had to cross the wet, already mopped main floor barefoot and my entire body tingled with discomfort.

Escape. Flight. Escape. Flight.

It was at that point where I didn’t even feel like I could really communicate my needs. I slipped outside to the side steps and hugged my knees.

Tighter. Tighter. Tighter.

I didn’t feel like the joyous girl they had come to know. I felt like an absolute nutter.

It’s all in my head. Is it all in my head? Maybe it’s all in my head. Yes, it’s all in my head but that’s what makes it so real.

The vacuum continued to whir and roar. Then it would be turned off. Then on. Then off. My senses tipped with each change.

During a pause, I tried to slip inside the house. I made it to the bathroom when the vacuum started again and I quickly returned to the cold pavement.

When the vacuuming was for certain over, I skittered into my room, covered myself up, and hid. I was longing for some pressure, or something to make myself feel secure. I considered grabbing all of the books and quilts in the house and layering them on myself. But I felt too timid to get up.

4:30 PM means tea time... which is mandatory.

I am sure I could have passed and they would have been understanding, but I hadn’t yet fully explained to people what goes on in my little body and I felt obliged to attend. Walking to the sitting room, little sounds startled me and I found my place against a wall and later, the a foot stool.

It was there that In Young, sweet In Young, asked me how I was feeling.

“Not that well,” was my reply. Not usual words to come out of my words.

“Are you sick?” she asked. And I was able to give her a short clear explanation of the traffic jam in my brain.

Then she offered the best of all things to me. A hand massage. In Young has magical hands I tell you, lots of pressure, and it brought me back to center a bit more.

When it was time to get back to work, I talked to Anna about what was going on and she quickly allowed me to escape for a bit. I ran into the middle of the woods and found a rock sit on. I allowed my brain to wander, relax, and breath.

I’m not sure how long I was gone, but it helped a lot. A lot.
It helped to have no pressure to go back.
It helped to pray.

Feeling put back together, I made my way back to L’Abri and went to our room to read some Oscar Wilde. My roommates were really, well, sensitive towards me and I really appreciated it. They were compassionate but gave me space.

By dinner time, I felt close to back to normal.
Well, as normal as it gets for me...
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