Thursday, August 18, 2011

Death Match: Canada vs. USA

I was recently at a conference with some people from my church. One of the pastors there was from a church in Surrey, BC, Canada. On our name tags, it listed our city and state of origin. On his, it just said "Canada". This prompted him to go off on a bit of a humorous tangent about all the things we stupid, stupid Americans do to Canadians. Things like:

- asking someone from BC if they know a friend in Toronto. That'd be like assuming someone from Chicago knew someone in Alaska.
- asking if it's cold there.
- asking if they live in igloos.

This made me think of a chat session I had with my Canadia friend, FROM SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN, who does not live in an igloo. I was prepping for a trip to visit her and trying to anticipate things that might be different. Of course, I took to Google, and found some really funny posts about the differences between Canadians and Americans. Naturally, Nin and I had to come up with our own list.


Tina: so. you wanna do the differences thing with me or no? if not i won't cry too much...but please keep in mind that i am emotionally fragile at the moment.
Nin: aw. yes, lets do the differences

(Nin then proceeded to send me an article about a water ban in her city, limiting the amount of water each home could use. She also whined about how the city wouldn’t let her bathe or wash dishes or water her lawn. She also told me about a zit on her face. So…I just started the list without her.)

Tina: 1. We say "a-bout". You say "a-boat".
Tina: 2. We can bathe whenever we want to.
Nin: 3. WE know that just because you're in the same country, doesn't mean you know everyone in it
Tina: 4. Nighttime starts at about 7...not 11
Nin: 5. we're not wimps when we see a single snowflake
Tina: 6. We don't burn down whole cities over hockey games.
Nin: lol
Nin: lolol
Nin: 7. we dont have our minds in the gutter when we say "regina"
Nin: so... i win?
Tina: 8. We on the otherhand pronounce Regina correctly
Tina: 9. We also know that Lace goes on dresses. Not necks.
Nin: what?
Nin: :P
Tina: its not NeckLACE
Nin: 10. we pronounce necklace and cement correctly. considering they're not spelled neckless, nor is it spelled ceement
Nin: HA. i win on that one
Tina: 11. shut up
Nin: 12. we are not rude
Tina: 13. Correction. You are rude. We on the otherhand speak to elders with respect, not as if they are peers.
Nin: LOL
Nin: 14. we on the other hand eventually leave the womb of our mothers and become adults, and dont call people miss and mr when we're well into our 30's
Tina: says the person who lives on the same street as her parents. ;)
Nin: lol
Tina: and you like being called Miss...dont' lie
Nin: i do. i do very much
Tina: 15. We eat meatballs on pasta (not rice)
Nin: 16. we on the other hand realize the versatility of meatballs, and put them on pasta, rice and subs. we also eat them as finger food. because we're advanced like that
17. We put gravy on everything except french fries
Nin: 18. we put gravy on french fries, along with cheese, and call it "poutine"
Tina: 19. We wouldnt' name anything poutine because it sounds too much like poo and we'd giggle too much to eat it
Nin: 20. we dont refer to any of our foods as "dirty" because thats weird (as in “dirty rice”)
Tina: 21. We don't have Moose.
Nin: 22. we bury our dead in the ground where they belong, going with the phrase '6 feet under'
Tina: 23. We have better trees  (ooooh. burn!)
Nin: 24. we APPRECIATE the trees God gave our land.
Tina: 25. We can wear shorts in September, October, November, and sometimes December.
Nin: 26. we know what touques are.
Tina: 27. We laugh at people who wear touques
Nin: 28. we accept people for who they are, and don't laugh at them.
Tina: 29. We don't lie.
Nin: lol
Nin: 30. we dont go to war and try to take over other countries :P
Tina: 31. You don't have to cuz we do it for you.
Tina: (you're welcome)
Nin: 32. we go ice skating and taboggan down a snow hill, and make ice sculptures.
Tina: 33. We go sailing and water September and October and November
Nin: 34. we aren't hicks, we don't say y'all, and we definitely don't say 'all of y'all' so not to sound super hickish
Tina: 35. We. Aren't. Snobs.
Nin: 36. we are. that's why we speak the snobbiest language there is, french.
Tina: 37. We have french heritage too. But...still aren't snobs. Must mean we're better.
Nin: 38. we aren't always out to "win" but instead, out for peace and acceptance. Love and not war and in turn, because of our humble amazing attitude, we do win.
Tina: (says the person who's said "I win!" like twice already)
Tina: 39. We fry everything...even veggies.
Nin: 40. so do we. :P
Tina: aw <3
Tina: 41. We have canals for drainage.
Nin: 42. we have basements, sometimes two basements.
Tina: 43. If we had basements, they'd be called underground pools
Nin: 44. we have a queen :P
Tina: 45. we don't need no stinkin' queen.

With that. Nin raised the white flag. Admitted our superiority and went to lick her wounds. ;)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Canadian Vacation - Day 5, part 1

(Read Day 1Day 2Day 3, and Day 4)

I've been putting off blogging about my last day in Canada, mostly, because I couldn't think about it without getting all weepy. Or, as evidenced Sunday, bursting into tears in the church lobby. Thankfully, the person who witnessed this surprising and sudden display of overwhelming and raw emotion didn't walk away awkwardly, counsel me to seek medication, or call a pastor for intervention...and she's still returning my texts, so...yay.

Being home, and alone most of the time...again, has been very hard. Don't get me wrong. I love my home town, my apartment (in spite of my neighbors and my lack of dog), my family, and being with my friends at church and in small group meetings...and via Facebook...but...most evenings, after work, I'm alone. Unless I call and invite someone to hang out, my phone doesn't ring, my calendar remains empty. It is the sad reality of being a single, my age, who is unattached, in a church full of people who are, for the most part, otherwise.

Don't get me wrong. I have friends. About 500 the last time I checked FB. ;)
I have people I can call when I need something, people I can visit, people who hug me and ask how I'm doing when they see me, people who I call and check up on periodically, people I can chat with on FB regularly, people I can arrange to spend time with...and we have a great time together. I even have long-term friends. People that I love dearly, that I may not talk to or see for months or even years at a time, but we can pick up right where we left off and it be just like old times. But, I don't have a "best" friend here. Someone with whom I'm certain the affection and care is totally mutual and who is involved in the daily of my life...and I in theirs. Someone who's home I can just crash at without calling. Someone to just "be" with. That special person that knows "everything" and its ok. Someone with whom I share inside jokes. Someone who's more like a sister than a friend. That person who is a given on the list when girl time is in order...and vice versa all of the above.

You girls know what I mean, right?

I don't have that, here, locally, in real life.

(big, heavy sigh)

So, getting a taste of what its like to be invited to walk around in someone's life for a week, whether it be an actual outing or simply dinner with the fam in the backyard...was...really...nice. But, now that I'm home and away from that, it makes my reality all the more stark and hard.

Hence the spontaneous sobbing in the church lobby.

ANYway, (for those of you still with me) that's just some frame of reference info for this post about my last day in Canada.

My last day began as per usual. We got up, had coffee (and a smoke for Nin) outside and then proceeded to get ready for church.

I'd really been looking forward to visiting Nin's church ever since I knew I was going up for a visit. Over the past 2 years, I've heard so much about the church and the people and how they've cared for my friend and her family, going back to when I only knew my friend's sister through her blog. I was also curious, both generally and specifically. I'm always interested in how other churches do church, but I was more specifically interested in seeing their worship time...more to the point, in seeing one specific aspect of worship: Flagging.

Nin had mentioned "flagging" during worship on many occasions. I pretended like I knew what she was talking about and didn't ask any questions to be polite. But, really, I didn't know what to think. I couldn't imagine anything in my head that wasn't chaotic and/or really distracting.

Nothing in my head was anywhere close to the reality of what I saw that Sunday.

Even before the worship time began, people were gathering up near the altar, ready. They selected flags and looked up at the musicians, some with eyes closed in prayer, preparing their hearts for what God had for them that morning.

Then, the music started, and the flags began to move. Words fail me as I sit here trying to think of a way to describe what I saw and felt.

Though, I was drawn to the flags, to the colors, to the movement, it was by no means distracting. The flags brought a whole new level of life to the music. It was as if the spirit was dancing through the waving colored if the spirit of God in the people waving the flags was somehow dancing above their heads. It was beautiful and I was moved to tears.

At one point, an older woman began dancing with a young girl to a song called "The Father's Song." I was undone. I saw in their movements the heart of God for his children, his joy in us, his delight.

Honestly, though the sermon was good and instructive, I think I heard more from the Lord and experienced more of the Lord from the flagging and dancing. I'll elaborate on that in another post, though. :)

After worship, we had a short break for coffee, which I, personally, think should be mandatory at every church, every where. But...I digress. During that time, I got to meet some more of Nin's church friends, including an actual French Canadian and the man who did her shower surround. I also saw "coffee whitener" (creamer to us) for the first time. I couldn't help of think of teeth whitener and that caused a few seconds of weird images and giggling to myself. Then, we went back in for the message.

Part way through, another Canadian internet buddy showed up. His name is Steve, but everyone calls him Moose. I've known him about as long as I've known my friend's, going back before Katrina. He came in to visit his brother and decided to stop in at church to say hey to me.

We took a photo to commemorate the event. :)

I also got to meet and visit with Nin's friend, Sherry. A.K.A. "Sherryness".

Then she and another friend, Chelsea, joined me and Nin and Sarah for lunch.

We had planned on Mexican. So, naturally, my mouth immediately began watering for chips and salsa.

I could literally taste it.

I was ready.

But the restaurant we'd decided on was only open for dinner on Sundays, so Sherry suggested another "mexican" place down the road. It was called "Avocado". I was hopeful. I mean, guacamole is made from avocados, right? 

It was good, but it was only marginally Mexican, and...(cue Hitchcockian suspense music)...they didn't serve chips and salsa!

(insert shock and horror and many gasps)

But my lunch was good. And pretty. So pretty, that I took a picture. (I also took a picture because this was the first time I ever go sweet potato fries at a mexican restaurant and I thought that was worth preserving for posterity.)

Sherry liked it, too, and took her own photo.

Our lunch was loverly. We ate outside. Where it was very warm and I, again, did not sweat. I also got to get to know two very sweet, godly ladies a bit, which was better than not sweating.

After lunch, we headed to the my request. This never happens. But, in my defense, they had some awesome eyeshadow that I just had to

Before we headed toward the eyeshadow, they made me stop in the Roughrider's store to shop for a souvenir to take home.

They had some fun, too.

Then, I had to pee. Sarah and Nin did this while I was, um, indisposed.

Finally, we arrived at the home of the awesome eyeshadow.
I was in heaven.

...and after my purchase, I was blissfully content.

After shopping, we headed to Nin's parents for dinner and cards. This was probably my most favorite night of the whole trip.

And, I was doing a good job of not being sad until Chris prayed before the meal. I tried to choke back the tears and the sob that was forming in my throat as he thanked the Lord for mine and Nin's friendship and making my visit possible. When I opened my eyes, I tried not to make eye contact with anyone. "Just look down and serve your food. Keep it together, woman", I instructed myself.

But, it was no use. My lips were in full quiver and the tears spilled over my eyelids and my restraint was shattered. Then I saw Nin, wiping a tear, too...and that was it...until I called Chris a name for making me cry, then we all laughed and I was ok again.

For dinner, we had the Dunlop's famous spaghetti. It was delish. It felt very "family-like". :)
I felt very welcome, very loved...and that feeling was quite mutual.
Again...favorite night of the whole trip.

Then, we played a card game called "Pit" It was super fun and super loud. 

I won the first hand and thought I was pretty much the

Nin didn't win. Many times.

Chris remained silent about this and just took score.

Then, Nin stuck me with the worst cards possible. and, I lost. and, I didn't handle it well.

They all laughed at me. But, I didn't cry, cuz I'm strong. 

While we were playing, a wicked storm kicked up...

I'll save the rest of the story for tomorrow, because this post is already way too long and I'm still not quite ready to write about the "goodbye" part.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Canadian Vacation - Day 4

(Read Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3)

In one of my previous posts, I commented on how hard it is having your BFF living over 1000 miles away. As I type this, I am feeling that distance more than I ever have.

Shortly before I went up to Canada, my friend's father-in-law got some very bad news regarding his health. Since I've been home, that news (and his condition) has gone from bad to worse. Of course, I am doing all I can do here. Praying, being available to chat or not as needed, encouraging or just listening. But, oh, what I wouldn't give to be able to just drive over to her house and hug her and her hubby, babysit the kids, pray with them in person, or just take a mental break and watch some old episodes of The Office with them.

So, maybe reminiscing over Day 4 of my trip isn't the best thing to do...unless I want to give my tear ducts a workout...but...I'm gonna give it a go.

Saturday morning, we really didn't do much. Nin and I went to the grocery to get some things for the family bbq they had planned for later in the day, then we just hung around until we had to start getting ready for a photo shoot with the whole family.

I knew, if I ever got to Canada, I would want to do photos for my friends. I had all sorts of ideas as to the type of shoot I wanted to do. So I left the house full of vision and rarin to go.

Daniel was ready, too

I haven't been able to work on the pix yet because I'm trying to finish up some wedding stay tuned for a sneak peek on my photography site (

After the shoot, we ran home, changed and headed out to The Forestry Farm and Zoo for the family bbq. I was very disappointed to learn that the Forestry Farm didn't actually farm forests. They did have lots of pretty trees, though. :)

And lots of opportunities for silliness.

I also had more time to get to know Nin's family better, which was really nice.

I heart Nin's family.

According to photos on FB, the family bbq usually includes crazy games. I have to confess, I was excited to see the games, but also a little scared. So, when everyone started bailing early and the games got scrapped, I wasn't entirely disappointed. In fact, I think I recall breathing a small sigh of relief.

Since the games didn't happen, and we still had some daylight, we decided to go visit the zoo. 

Since Nin's husband is kind of a big deal, we got in for free.

I got to see a bald eagle for the first time. 
Yes, I had to go to Canada to see the symbol of American Freedom.

My Canadian friends thought that was really funny.

My embarrassment was abated by this guy. Nin's husband ran up and down in front of the enclosure and this wolf chased him. Whining. Like a puppy. It was the cutest thing I've ever seen. I wanted to take him home.

Meanwhile, Daniel chased chickens.

They were not amused.

Jonah: Auntie Tina, do you have chickens in New Orleans?
Me: Yep. Lots.

Daniel stopped chasing chickens long enough to feed rocks to geese.

Isaiah: Auntie Tina, do you have geese in New Orleans?
Me: (laughing) Yes.

Then we saw some bison. Chris tried to call them over like he would a puppy. 
They just continued grazing.

Jonah: Auntie Tina, do you have bison in New Orleans.

On the way home, Nin and Daniel had a fun time in the back seat.

After we got home and the kiddos went to bed, we decided to do facemasks.

I looked like I slammed my face into a vat of vaseline.

Chris looked like Hannibal Lecter.

When it came time to peel off my mask, I soon realized that I'd put the mask over my eyebrows. 
It hurt a lot.
We laughed a lot, too.

Nin laughed so much, she cracked her mask.
She looked like Skeletor.
Which just made us laugh more.

Next, it was nose strip time.

The results (to quote Nin): Chris took gold, I took silver and Nin took bronze.

Finally, we played "Wizard", which I always said like Michael Sera in "Juno".

It was super fun...and I didn't win.
I never win.
For reels.

Except when it comes to this friendship.
I'm definitely the winner in this deal. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Canadian Vacation - Day 3

(Read Day 1 and Day 2)

Day 3 didn't begin nearly as early as Day 1 or Day 2...thankfully. But, since Nin and her husband both had early morning appointments, I set my alarm just early enough so that I could shower and get breakfast before the kiddos woke up. By the time I was clean and fed, Nin was off to her hair appointment and Chris was out the door for breakfast with one of his pastors. Soon the kids were up, so I hooked them up with breakfast and then they headed down to the basement to watch cartoons while I finished getting dressed and ready for the day.

On the agenda: Lunch, Jazz Fest, Red Beans with the Fam, and Canada Day.

Shortly before lunch, Nin's parents arrived. We all ate lunch together outside...and I needed a sweater. At noon. In July. We also needed to light the bug coil.


But, sweaters and mosquitos aside, lunch was lovely. 

I heart eating outside.

After lunch, we headed out to the Jazz Fest. Being from New Orleans, the birthplace of Jazz and home of the world-famous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, I was quite curious to see how other people do a Jazz Fest.

This is my curious face. It's also my content face.

The setting was beautiful. The free stage was next to the river, and people were scattered all along the bank and the grassy area in front of the stage. The day was sunny and warm. And, the music was good, but, um, it wasn't jazz. Unless jazz is now salsa. 

Nin went fetal in disappointment.

Meanwhile, I entertained myself by taking photos of Nin's shoes.

Jonah took photos of my wrinkles.

Daniel worked on his tan.

And Nin checked Jonah's hair for bugs as she napped.

While at the jazz fest, I also got to experience the "Beer Gardens". It is a fenced off area where alcohol is purchased and consumed. Jazz Fest attendants are not allowed to bring their own beer with them or consume it on their blanket or in their chair out in front of the stage. I'm not a big drinker. If I have half a dozen drinks a year (and if I drink more than half of each) that's plenty for me. But, being from New Orleans, and seeing people drinking beer ONLY in a designated place is very strange. At our Jazz Fest (or Mardi Gras or New Years Eve or Arbor Day) people just walk around and go in and out of tents and booths with their drink in hand.

ANYway, soon we had enough of non-jazz music and headed home where I finished off the red beans I'd been cooking all day for my Canadian friends. We all met at Nin's parent's home to eat. On the way, I took a picture of a Christmas Tree. In July.

These trees are, quite literally, every where!

Nin hates all the evergreens in the whole world!

My Canadian friends really enjoyed their red beans...except Jonah, who put soy sauce on her rice, because that's how she rolls. 

As they were enjoying this traditional New Orleans dish, my friends began throwing out ideas on other ways to prepare the adding corn or ground beef.

Though I tried to restrain myself (for like 2 seconds) I had to protest.
"There's no corn in red beans!" (said like Tom Hanks in "A League of Their Own")

After going against all I hold dear and holy by suggesting changes to the food of my people (which was probably pay back for my prior request for a non-bloody steak), we went home to get ready for Canada Day, and Nin did THIS to me:

Yes, that is a Canada Dr. Seuss Hat...and Elton John glasses...and a boa...and stickers featuring Moose and Beavers...and Canada tattoos on my face.

I'm told this is how the Natives first looked when the British came in to take over the land and subjugate them. Since I'm not really familiar with Canadian history, I didn't question it.

Soon everyone was in their Canadian garb, and we piled in the car to go see the fireworks. 

Notice the daylight in the rear window. This is approximately 8:30pm. It would be another 2.5 hours before the sun was down enough for fireworks.


We met up with the rest of the family at their secret parking place...

and Nin protected her butt from mosquitos.

After walking a million miles, we got to the field where everyone was ready for fireworks. 
And...I got to meet THE Camille. :)

She was pretty much awesome.

P.S. It was really cold. I had long sleeves, a sweater and 2 blankets...and was still shivering.
Nin was a good sport and snuggled with me until the fireworks started.

They were pretty much awesome.

The Pan was a fan.

After fireworks, we walked a million miles back to the car, swatting mosquitos along the way, then ate some bacon before collapsing into bed.

Why bacon?

I don't know. But, I didn't complain. I never complain about bacon.