Fernie, a year and a bit later... we live in community

Apparently this is post number 600. It's been going a while. I think since 2005, when I started exploring Orthodoxy at St. Hermans, just after I finished undergrad at TWU.

Life really is beautiful and hard. I love that I have found a church that is honest, that is full of honest people. I think that must be the thing that I saw/see in orthodoxy, is that even though there are people of all political, philosophical, intellectual, and physical stripes, most people who convert to Orthodoxy do so because they have found something that either will or ought to demand as much honesty as one can muster. About one's self, that is. At least that seems to me to be the case. I don't agree with a lot of my fellow orthodox about things, but I think we are all striving for honesty of life, and an honest interpretation of what it means to be a Christian.

I feel a lot less of anything about God now than I did when I was 17, or even 27. I hope that feelings are as poor as assessment as I think they are. I avoid people who feel to much about God. I was one of those who took everything that was meant as internal and pushed it onto the world. This is probably why I blog at all. I keep more to myself these days, which is ok. But I like the idea of creating a version of history for my kids to read. I would love to have read the thoughts of my parents that happened before I was aware that they were human.

Tonight Z had a huge meltdown over a toy, it was unpleasant. As soon as he ate, he was fine. He's a good kid unless he's hangry, then he becomes intolerable.

The fast is different this year, so far. I have a different perspective on it. I miss orthodox people being in my life daily. We have good people here, to be sure.

I wrote the first bit the other day

Today we went to Crowsnest pass, where there is a really cool thrift shop. It's called bagatelle, and there is such a feeling of welcome, I love driving out there just for that. The roads were a bit sketchy at times, but not too bad. We saw a herd of Mountain Sheep in the middle of highway 3. licking the salt from the road. We didn't get a picture. But they are often there. I still love seeing animals. They are majestic beings.

The matriarch of St. Herman's has passed away, May her memory be eternal! She and her husband started english speaking orthodoxy in BC. I began to think about how important this is to so many people. It has affected the lives of literally hundreds of Christians, many of whom might no longer be Christians is it were not for their hard work. I wonder where I would be if it weren't for St. Hermans. Surely not here in this moment. It's strange to think of life that way.

It's really cold, and there's no snow. Kind of a bummer. It rained really hard right before it dropped down to -14 at night. Weird.

Also, check out Dave Ramsey if you haven't already. Great stuff regarding debt and money. Opinionated like an american, but I think that's why people like him. He's not always soft and polite. He rants. but he's deadly consistent. I like it.


Some Fernie things that we love

Zeke went skiing for the first time ever today
I can flyfish for cutthroat trout (and catch them) behind my house by about 400 metres
my commute is 7 minutes
I shot two deer this year. two.
We live in a community. This part is still finalizing itself. It's something we have always talked about, wondered about. We can't escape it here, geography compels it.


A first draft of my race report from the half marathon I ran

The Rookie Report

Heiko’s Hellish Half, Fernie BC For pictures (123 of them, a few doubles) click the link http://www.flickr.com/photos/pasivirta/sets/72157635223861469/

This is first race I have ever done by myself, and the second trail run I have ever participated in. My cousin has cajoled me into this sport, and I am glad. The truth is that we invented it when we were 15, but so did many others. We ran down mountains with huge packs, falling and rebounding like teenagers can, and this race reminded me of those days, specifically because of the final descent, which folks had dutifully reminded me to save some energy for, thankfully.

The race day was gorgeous, just enough cloud cover to keep us cool, and the people at the checkpoints on the ridge tops were quite cold it seemed, there was gusting wind off and on, and I think the runners appreciated it. I sure did.  The scenery was unbelievable, mountain spires towering overhead, beautiful waterfalls, and a huge variety of terrain.

The race began after a 45 minute drive up a treacherous mountain road. The group of us racers were chatting excitedly while listening to music on the bus. When we got there, a number of racers visited the bushes in final preparation (feel free to edit that out:) while the rest waited in the chilly morning air. There were 46 racers who finished, in times ranging from 2.5 hours to 6 hours plus.

We got started right at 8, I ran with the lead pack of runners, quickly realizing I wouldn’t keep up, I backed off and settled into a pace that seemed my own, and started to get into the zone. This being my first long distance run, I wasn’t sure what to expect. first ascent was quite steep, so I went quite slowly up it. There were beautiful waterfalls, ladders and lush rainforest sections. It was a great and intense introduction. Once we were over the first ascent, we were into a gorgeous meadow that was relatively flat, but still the uphill battle continued. It was less steep but there was no rest for the weary. The scenery continued to be amazing through Bisaro Canyon, where there was a cave that had been visited so often, the trail seemed to beckon us in, the runners who were nearby also thought the trail went inside or through, but we saw the pink flags taking us the other way. The flagging, it should be noted, was great, and having never been on the trail, I only wandered one time, and it was only a few feet past where I should have gone. The organizers should be commended for this. The flags were small, and simple, but clearly laid out and very helpful. After Bisaro Canyon, we hiked to Three Sisters Pass, which was the first of three passes, and came with an epic shale trail. I was gratified to get there and take a little break in preparation for some decent descent. After this little rest and a gel, I ran down towards fairy meadows which is appropriately named. It would be easy to see any of the Lord Of The Rings have scenes filmed here, or Narnia, or any beautiful fantasy film. It is easily one of the most beautiful places I have been to, and I am a native of BC who has spent my life doing various mountain related activities, despite this being my first foray into the trial running scene. The second pass we came to was also quite exciting, I think because it seemed like such a milestone, I felt like I could do it, now that I had come this far. And again the downhill section that followed was such a nice break from the constant uphill climbing, my legs were beginning to notice. The checkpoints were also better stocked than advertised, which was encouraging. I had enough with me for the whole race, but I was glad there was a bit of water in case we needed it. During the middle section, I kept on coming around different corners and looking up at steep rocky pitches thinking ‘where on earth do we go from here?’ which was kind of fun, and then the path would go on these really unexpected routes, through the trees, on the edge of the cliff, it was great. When I finally got to the top of Mt Fernie, it almost surprised me, but there he was, the last checkpoint guy, eating a can of beans and calling me in the radio, perched atop the 3 foot wide ridge overlooking the Elk Valley. I took a short break, asked how long it should take me to get down, he said 40-60 minutes is average,  and then texted my wife and told her I would be more than an hour :)

But this, this is the fun part. If I like trail running, it’s for the downhill part. I already could feel slight blisters forming on my heels, but I also knew if I was going to pass anyone, this was the time and place, so I went. I went hard. In the last descent, we drop a full 1000 metres of elevation over a mere 3KM. That seems like a 33% grade to me, which is pretty steep. I loved it. My knees didn’t, but as long as I kept bouncing down the mountain it was ok. When I tried to stop, that was the hard part. The second hard part was that after spending all of my energy on this downhill grind which really was excellent and fun, I still had about 1.5 km of nearly flat ground to run on, and my gas tank was pretty empty. But I finished, and I loved it. I finished with a guy I had passed, who caught up to me on this flat ending, and we chatted a bit about how beaten we were, and it was great. My cousin always tells me that one of the great things about it is the cameraderie, and it’s true. Now I feel a bond with anyone who has done anything like this, because you can’t understand by reading an article or looking at pictures, you have to taste and see what it’s like. Eat the dirt, breathe the dust, smell the waterfall and feel the crushing descent in your legs and then when it’s all over, know that you will have to do it again.


Summers Off? On discipline and hard work.

I can't really imagine taking the entire two months off, so I will be working a few days a week, at an old favourite, shoveling concrete.
I miss hard physical work, and working outside, and because the time frame is limited, if I don't like it, I can suck it up for a little while and just get it done.

I have learned a lot about myself lately. Not the least of this being that I love my job, which helps the students enjoy being there too. Sometimes it's stressful, and that's usually when I haven't planned enough. But it's good.

And Fernie is good too. It's incredible. I recently ran as a team of 4 competing in an ultra marathon, I only ran 10KM, but the vertical was pretty good. almost 700M of ascent and descent. Now, I didn't run up, I walked up, but I ran down. The craziest part is that we came 2nd place. 2nd! Somehow I got onto a team with elite runners. Check out www.trailrunner.ca for a look at the trail running scene. It's my cousin's digital magazine, and we were team Trail Running Canada. Anyways, that was crazy.

And the other day I got up early and went for a 9KM hike, hoping to be back before breakfast, but I got  a flat at Island Lake Lodge. That's another weird thing, I live 10KM from a legendary catskiing operation. We are still working the debt snowball (cf: Dave Ramsey for more info) so it will be a while, but they have a standby list, so I know I'll get to go skiing there one day.

The recreation opportunities here are endless, to the point that I still scarcely believe that I live here, and could stay forever. I took Zeke fishing today, no fish but lots of fun, and soon when the river clears up, we can fish in a world class, 'classified waters' trout river, that is a 5 minute walk from our house. Did I mention the hunting? I get to drive 15 minutes and be in a legitimate hunting spot. or closer if I want, really. It's just so weird.

It's been a year and I really can't believe that we get to live here and be here. It's basically what I have wanted my whole life, to live in a small town, where I can fish and hunt, be a music teacher, and have a family. Actually, Literally, living the dream.

And I still am ungrateful sometimes, wondering if there isn't some reason to apply to sub lists in the lower mainland where I could drive farther, pay more for housing, earn less, and have my recreation opportunities basically decimated, so that the little time I have with my family I would spend driving to and from shorter sessions of the same activities.
Did I mention zeke skis for free next year? at the ski hill, which is 5 minutes away? I guess getting to the lift is more like 15 minutes. After getting dressed and ready at the car. I know, totally not worth the inconvenience. (sarcasm-do we have a sarcasm font yet)

I think the essence of Christianity is gratitude, thanksgiving, and somedays even though I can recount the things that I am grateful for, I don't feel grateful, and usually that translates to not acting grateful, but acting entitled. I don't know why or how I have this attitude of entitlement, and it isn't pervasive or continuous, but when I feel it, I wonder why I am not repulsed by it. or if I am, how to change the way I feel. but then why is it all about how I feel?

I guess that's it, why do feelings dictate our actions? or my actions. I guess that's the thing with discipline. and Holiness. It's just lots of hand to plow, nose to stone.



I took Zeke out and we shot two gophers today. It was quite the adventure. Zeke is getting quite the adventurous upbringing. He also got to ride his bike at the dirt jumps and the skate park. A full day. It's nice here.


deconstruction...and feelings

It is far too easy for me to deconstruct all of the things I love to do, which is problematic. I could easily find joy in a number of recreational things, such as mountain biking, hiking, running (which I actually am enjoying lately) watching hockey, playing music with friends, I can't even name them all. I guess snowboarding, snowshoeing, skiing, all of the sports things that are in abundance here.
They could all be called 'meaningless' a la ecclesiastes. But I know for sure that singing and fishing/hunting don't fall into those categories for me. which I find interesting. Those two feel like they have some ontological significance, but is that just an interpretation? anyways, sometimes I wish I hadn't gone to grad school so that I would stop looking at things in a particular way and just be.
Life here is good. So many good things, to be sure. I ran yesterday, and have been running and biking lots, so that I don't even want to have a djarum, but then part of me does want that selfish romantic moment, which is probably still a lie. And there we go again. Overthinking, or battling shoulder beings.
The year is winding down, which is also interesting, the summer should prove a fun break, and we'll see what it brings. Good visits and fishing and biking.
Z has been TEARING IT UP on his bike. I am so impressed with his bike skills, it blows me away. I have videos that I have put up on FB from youtube. He's really getting quite good. So I guess I like biking too, but when it is something for it's own sake it seems a bit weird, or pointless, and maybe that is the entire point, it isn't the thing itself, but the spirit behind it, and maybe the Spirit is harder to see here. or feel. (which I guess is ok, since life and orthodoxy aren't based on how I feel)


Snow is gone/Missing Gibsons

The snow is gone, and the bikes are coming out. The belief system of the community we belong to is coming clearer. I am Orthodox, but I am also becoming a member of the fernie community, we believe in recreation, protecting the environment, mining, drinking, and knowing what is going on. It's a beautiful place, and people are pretty respectful of whatever faith you have, but not a lot of interest in anything new, people here are pretty steadfast. Everyone is so busy that they don't have time to notice any lack they may or may not have. There are also some people who are self reflective, and that is nice, refreshing, but, and I do this too, so don't hear me being condescending at all, it is largely a culture of fast paced enjoyment, or relaxed escapism. I sound negative, and I don't mean to, it's really nice, but I miss Gibsons and the things I learned there.


The City and it's noise.

I can't believe I grew up here. I alway enjoyed visiting quieter places, especially Gibsons. Today, after being a bit overwhelmed by the noise (this place is so loud, the streets, the cars blech) I lied down briefly in my parents closet and was so glad for dark quietness. I miss the sound of the snow, though I look forward to spring. It seems winter might be over but I bet we get one more storm before it really gets warm. Can't wait to bike, hike, run etc.

We have been thinking about getting a dog, but we are determined to wait until it is all a bit more affordable, vis a vis the debt snowball. I was lying down just now and thinking about discipline, hoping for more of it, as I am want to do, and I thought I should start watching/reading the posts of a friend who seems to understand discipline, though I wonder if it is discipline or it is that he has found the benefit of the work of the discipline so he doesn't feel like it is hard work to be disciplined because of the joy of silence.

I miss the silence. but part of me yearns for and creates noise. inner and outer. It's a struggle. yin and yang. I guess. maybe one day I can let the noise starve.


Moving Away

Having just moved away from St. H, I know something of the feelings of a family of friends who are about to move very far away. about as far as you can go, it seems. I feel terrible for them, bad for myself, I was hoping they would be our neighbours, sort of. I know there is a fascinating part of exploring something new, but it's just.so.far. West coast to east coast sort of far. It's pretty brutal.
But it can be okay, in the end. We are finding our way here in Fernie. Looking forward to visiting our peeps in vancity etc. and excited for the road trip too. Life isn't ever what you expect, I suspect.


The Bible as a weapon...

I just read something that tweaked something in my mind. The author said that the bible is not for us to point at other people, but to use as a communication tool, God to us. individually (and corporately, yes, but for our purposes, forget that for a minute)
SO often, the american evangelical straw man is creating terror (not actual terror, though sometimes) by using the bible like a weapon, pointing it's verses at others, when really all we can do is point it at our own hearts. Specifically with the LGBT community, I can read the bible, and it can be God's word to me. It's not me reading what God said to my atheist gay friend. It has nothing to do with them, in fact. Well, what it has to do with them is between them and God. If they are seeking truth, and/or wanting to belong to a christian community, a/the body of Christ, they will have to work that out. I am not a priest (thank God) and it is not my duty to shove any epithets, true or not, towards anyone (unless they are my friends/godsons/daughters and they have asked for it-and even then it's not epithets, it's a talk over beer or coffee) God is telling me to take care of the poor, love my neighbour, and giving me instruction on best practices for this thing we call life, seeing as he made it, he probably gets it in a relatively divine way, and I bumble around and am clueless. It is not up to me to interpret the bible (or worse yet, dreams or direct words from God-ugh-) for anyone else. The only thing I can do is take care of myself and try to do a good job loving my wife, raising my kids and not being a jerk to my students. If I get anywhere close to that, maybe someone will think it has something to do with God. maybe not. But I think that is up to God. or the Spirit.
I suppose that I finally have my answer to my gay friend who asked if I thought he was going to hell, and the answer is, ultimately, who cares what I think? and I said it at the time, but he seemed to think it was a cop out. But it's not, because why does my worldview affect him? I support his right to legal equality, (for a more detailed opinion, let's chat) Nobody should be treated badly, either in school or at work etc. Gay students should be safe in school, just like fundamentalist literal bible reading Christians should be safe in school. (which they aren't, btw)


Pink Shirt Day

Tomorrow is Pink Shirt Day, where we all wear pink shirts to support the idea that bullying is wrong.
My problem with it is that it seems not like a defensive move to support the kids who get bullied, but an aggressive move by anyone even remotely tied to the LGBT lobby. Now, I have gay friends, who I love and respect. One of my friends married his man this past summer. I support their need for legal rights, I don't totally get why they wanted to get married in a church, but that is a completely different matter than the right of EVERY person to have an education free from any form of persecution.
The few gay students I have encountered here in the east kootenays have been persecuted, to be sure. But it seems that it is not different from the way that anyone who is different and speaks out about it is persecuted. A few of my students who are christians have been teased so mercilessly that they are about to be homeschooled to escape what they feel is torture. I constantly defend a student with special needs because others are teasing this one. Bullying has more to do with pack mentality, mimetic violence and the fact that someone is different than the crowd. This means that if anyone is gay, religious, weak, strong, ugly, pretty, famous, or anything other than the majority of the group, they will be singled out and challenged for their difference. I don't like it, but it's how students behave in my classes. It's terrible.
The other problem with the 'anti-bullying' movement is that it is not getting anywhere near the root of the problem. To tell kids not to be bullies or whatever we say to them is completely meaningless. They don't get it. If a kid grows up being bullied (or hurt, or whatever) by their parents, of course they are going to hurt other people. It's how they have learned to live. So its not something that can be legislated or programmed, it's something that starts at home.
In music, I have the chance to teach students not only the form and content of music, but something about community because community is an integral part of creating music. When my groups are larger and voluntary, the doors will be firmly shut to anyone who shows unwillingness to learn how to belong to a group where trust and vulnerability are key values.

Oh, and teaching was better today. It's all a work in progress. Even my thoughts on this matter (pink shirt day) are progressing and I may see it differently in the future, but for now I don't like the way that it is framed. Don't get me wrong, if a kid uses the word 'gay' as a negative epithet, I don't let up until everyone in the class knows that it is completely unacceptable. I did it once in september, and I haven't heard it since. I will defend everyone's right to do their thing, but I don't think that one group deserves special attention over and above other groups. Why don't Aboriginal students get a day to be defended against bullying? God knows it happens.


patience vs coddling vs proper lesson planning

I think today was the worst day teaching I have had yet. And it was uber short because one of my classes was skiing, and I have a prep. The only class I really taught today was terrible, and I couldn't tell if it was because of how I taught it, or because they were being a pain. And I think it was both.
I think I could have taught it a lot better, on reflection, because I basically started them off on the hardest part of the music we are working on, so I didn't really give them much to feel good about, didn't give them any momentum, and at the same time, they were not taking it well, which maybe is because they are young and immature. Anyways, It was brutal. I didn't like it. Though I guess a bad day fishing is better than a good day working in a mine. But the more I think about it, the more it could have been better had I done things differently. I begin to see now how my 2nd practicum really did prepare me well, much better, when it comes to structuring a lesson. Not only how, but why. The first people ranted about the structure being incorrect all the time, without much explanation of why. Terrible. the 2nd practicum people explained and showed me in the rehearsal time, why it mattered to have a consistent and thoughtful structure. Here's how it works (this is partly for a friend who recently TOC'd a band class)

1. warm up 15% approx
-something they can do easily and that is going to get some technical things working, like fingering and embouchre (mouth)
2. Exercises 25-30%
-this might be from a book, or something that they are also successful at, so they can feel good about their ability, and remember things they have worked on recently. Probably both something from a workbook and some pieces that they know well.
3. The New/Hard piece
-work on the sections in the piece that are difficult. Play the whole thing once, if possible, then do smaller bits, and then try to put them together. (this is a very cursory example/explanation)
4. End with something that you all enjoy, so you can end the class on a high note.

This is actually a reminder for me, because I didn't do this at all today. Probably mostly why today sucked. Ah well.

The original question of my post is now moot, because if I do this, I won't need to decide between patience and coddling. I sometimes wonder if I am coddling the students by enabling disrespectful behaviour, but then when I drill them for it, am I being impatient. It's a weird dichotomy, and I think part of it is that teachers have no real power. There's nothing for the students to fear anymore. Some of them anyways.

It's been a day. But as I said, if I had taught better, it might not be a question I would be asking.


Winter, not enough snow here, too much over there

I am watching hockey, and enjoying it. It helps that the canucks just scored twice in quick succession. I remember my mom talking about going to local hockey games on saturday nights in sudbury. I really like the idea of representing your home town, and playing with people you know, because it is the way community would function, but the NHL, as fun as it is to watch, is all big business.

We are terribly excited about our visit home, though we won't see everyone we want to, we can't wait to be at St. Hermans. I do like our little church here in the kootenays, but it is tiny.

(aside, Phillip Phillips's song Home is great, but I am surprised at how many commercials it is in, including an awesome one featuring my bro in law for coldwell banker)

I also want to point out that a friend of mine from high school is currently in LA due to being nominated for a grammy. It's weird. I knew he would be famous, but I didn't know what that all meant. Josh Ramsay, lead singer of marianas trench, wrote half of the song 'Call Me Maybe' (surely you have heard it) as sung by mission's own Carly Rae Jepsen. Anyways, he is in LA this weekend, trying to keep his hopes low I think. Yes I like to name drop at times like this. I got to have a short visit with him in lethbridge last time they toured through the area.

We have been sick, so its been a weird week. I found an amazing store that sells all sorts of furs and it turns out a cougar pelt is worth over 2K. This area is crawling with them, so I think I will make sure to have a tag in case I see one, though I don't think I will go out of my way looking for them. I must like it here because I have plans for the spring, summer and fall already, including biking, bear hunting, fishing, hiking with the family and hunting in the fall. I still hope to get some ice fishing this winter, apparently even the river allows for ice fishing, though that seems weird.

Teaching a digital recording class, off to a slow start but I have a good plan to follow I think.

Had some visitors recently, and it was so good to see them. Also heard of some other old friends from far away who might be moving just a bit closer, but not certain yet.

We have had the fortune of visiting with my cousins from lethbridge a few times, and wish we could see them more, they are great and have kids who are close in age to ours. Laurenn usually works weekends so we just don't have an ideal schedule right now.

There's an amazing thrift shop in crowsnest pass, called Bagatelle, in a little town called coleman. we like it. Have you seen the video for the song Thrift Shop? (It's got a fair amount of F bombs, so if you don't like them, beware) but the message is clear and brilliant. The rapper has other thoughtful songs too, worth checking into. I'm a fan, despite the cuss words. check it out.

If you are reading this, there's a high likelihood that I/we miss you. Thanks for reading. Hope to see you soon, either here or there.

oh and Z turns 4 on tuesday. Craaaaazy.


On thinking too much

Today I told my mom about the video for a song called 'Thrift Shop' and if you haven't seen it and can handle a few f#@* bombs, it is BRILLIANT.

And then I am watching hockey, and overthinking it too. some days I realize that its just a habit that I think and I hem and haw and wonder if it really is worth it, or a good way to spend time, but what would I do alternatively? watch TV?  And what is national identity? Am I really a Canadian, and should I really be embracing that? should I find my identity so strongly in the church that I ignore things like professional sports? and then there is downhill skiing and snowboarding, one of the best mountains in the world is 2km away, and we could get our kids into these expensive sports, but should we? so many questions that I think are answered by preference rather than divine will or any sort of explicit expectation, as long as it is done in the right spirit.

Life is so different here. We are becoming different people, more our own, but do I want to be who I am becoming without the influence of beautiful holy people that I left behind? and what influences am I  ensuring will continue to push me in the right direction? At the moment, Dave Ramsey and William Lane Craig. Monthly liturgy in cranbrook with people I like and respect, but that is much different than living at church.

There are things I know I love to do, and there are things that I can basically take or leave. I loved spending so much time hunting this past fall. The silence, being alone, and being with animals, interacting (mostly scaring them away)
I love kitchen dance parties with the kids, wrestling downstairs in the playroom.
I love singing. church.
my job is pretty great.

I think snowboarding is really really fun, but I could probably take or leave it, like hockey, which I enjoy, especially with others, but won't be sad if I miss a game, or a season.

It made me very happy when Z wanted to read the kids church book again tonight. And the french book. Both made me feel pretty good.


rest and discipline. On being a tangry grouch. (tired+angry=tangry)

Something I have been taking for granted lately is rest. I have gotten back into that habit of staying up just a bit later, 11 maybe, and then being tired and grouchy, and doing it many days in a row until I am a nasgul. or something. And it's not that staying up late is necessarily bad, but I am not 21 anymore, and I can't really take naps that often to catch up, and why start out with debt anyway? I might as well go to bed early. I remember being so pumped about choir that I would intentionally, with military discipline, go to bed by 9pm. Every night. IN HIGH SCHOOL. so that I was ready to wake up early and be on time. (it is possibly my parents would argue about this, but it is how I remember it)
Now, because I am the only one around to do the discipline, I am not there. It is a constant theme, perhaps it is a muscle I can work out and develop. Here's hoping.
Lord have mercy.