Thursday, December 27, 2007

The making of Christmas Card 2007

Some of you know that Michael and I email our holiday greetings. It's not because we're environmentally minded or lazy. It just happened one year and now it keeps happening. Check out the "cards" from previous years here.

This year's card was inspired by my fondness for Scared of Santa photos and Michael's fondness for vampires. We wanted to stage our own Santa photo, but we weren't willing to sit on a real live Santa's lap to get it. Instead, we scoured the city for a suitable fake Santa. We found him at a furniture store on Johnson Street, and the owners didn't mind us taking photos because, well, that's what he's there for. I'm not sure if they saw us put our vampire teeth in. We roped Sarah H into our schemes when we convinced her to take the photos after coffee a few weeks back. She was a little skittish (so was I), but she captured some great moments. Thanks Sarah!

I tried the vampire teeth on for some of the photos:

But I preferred one vampire and one scaredy cat:

This was the final product:

We didn't get too many comments after Michael and I sent this out from Saskatoon. Maybe people were weirded out by the fangs? I'm ok with that.

If I didn't send the card to you, I hope you had a great holiday too. I just don't have your email address.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A is for Anarchy

I'm happy. I finished my last exam AND I got a great grade on my anarchy essay. While you aren't familiar with my professor, Dr. James Tully, he's sort of a big deal in my political science world, and an A from him means a lot to me. Keep in mind that I view my university degree as one big hoop that I have to jump through, so the fact that I value this grade is significant. Also, it's worth noting that I have been avoiding political theory classes for years because philosophy isn't my thing; I finally took this class because I need it to graduate, and I fully expected my grades to drop.

Here are his comments from my essay:

"This is a very good and ambitious essay on Kropotkin in relation to Kant, Mill and Marx. The main section is very well researched beyond the text of the course. The whole is well organized and the main themes [human progress and its relationship to struggle and cooperation] are clearly set out and argued for in the course of the essay. It is really the central question of 19th Century philosophy."

I understand 19th Century philosophy! It was never a goal of mine, but I'll take it!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Preparing for earthquakes or other unspeakable events that may result in camping for 72 hours in Beacon Hill Park

I was reading one of my entries from last Christmas, and I see that I planned to put together an emergency kit a long time ago. Michael and I finally got our act in gear earlier this month, when our superstitious tendencies got the better of us: we were worried about predictions of a December 4 earthquake and tsunami. We didn't tell our friends about the prediction, which we heard about at a dinner party, because we didn't want them to get as crazy as we were getting. In the end, earthquakes are pretty hard to prepare for; who knows where you'll be when it happens? Chances are you won't be wearing your emergency backpack. Even so, we put something together so we could put our hearts at ease:

If you aren't too mad at me for not telling you about the prediction that didn't come to pass, have a look at this content list, and let me know if you have suggestions:

  • Flash light
  • Matches
  • Lighter
  • Candles
  • Work gloves
  • Warm socks
  • Ear plugs
  • Markers
  • Notebook
  • Playing cards
  • Tissues
  • Toilet paper
  • Water
  • Apple juice
  • Energy bars
  • Granola bars

I know I could look at/buy the emergency backpacks at Mountain Equipment Co-op, but it's more fun this way.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


After making tentative plans to get pedicures in August, Emily and I finally made it happen. Emily is a friend from my political science world, and we like each other because we have similar temperaments. That is, we experience the same kind of school anxiety and it makes us feel better to know there is someone else out there who has school-related panic attacks. Also, we are both CBC Radio nerds. I think we once had a showdown about who was the bigger fan. I may have won that round, because Emily has yet to fight with Rex Murphy on Cross Country Checkup. But that's not important right now. We’re both in the middle of final exams, and we went to Magic Nails and Spa on Yates so we could help ourselves relax and catch up with each other at the same time (we didn’t have any classes together this semester).

I was worried that I had high expectations that couldn't be met, but the experience was perfect. My favourite part was the massaging chairs with the built in foot bath. That's what I want for Christmas. The ladies who worked on our feet were awesome too. It was very relaxed in that they just chatted with each other and their nephew while Emily and I chatted with each other. No awkward conversation. No awkward silences. This is not a she-she spa with hippy music and candles. There are fluorescent lights and nephews. That puts me at ease more than mood lighting somehow.

Those of you from Vancouver are probably wondering what I'm going on about, because these types of Asian nail spas are everywhere in that city. That is not the case in Victoria; Magic Nails just opened in August and I've had my eye on it since I saw the grand opening banner. These types of establishments are especially good because they are affordable.

The final pedicure results are fine, but it's more about the process for me: making time to relax. Emily admitted that she almost bailed because she thought she needed the extra hour for studying, but wow. You should have seen her face when we were through. It really is magic.

I tried taking pictures of my feet this morning, but they won't be showing up on the Internet anytime soon, even though the red nail polish is festive. You'll just have to trust me on this one.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The goose is getting fat

I waited until December 1st to put up Christmas decorations and listen to Sufjan Stevens' songs for Christmas (thanks Sarah H!). Now I'm in full holiday mode. I didn't put up a lot of decorations because Michael and I are going home for Christmas, but I did make some new ornaments for the (fake) tree that I'm particularly proud of:

When I worked at The Sellution, one of the Main Street antique/consignment stores in Vancouver, I nabbed some of the single chandelier ornaments that were kicking around. The store kept a drawer full, and I wanted to make earrings. I did make a few pairs (Lydia, didn't you get some?), but most of them were too heavy on the ear. Last year I decorated my tree with candy canes, but I wanted something shiny this year. When I started digging through my suitcase of craft supplies, I found 12 of the glass beads. I took out the metal hardware and threaded them with colourful embroidery thread. Presto! Heather Armstrong just featured glass bird ornaments on Dooce. We're on the same page, but she didn't make hers.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Rock interventions

Michael's Rock Club theme was a success. Most of us admitted that we struggled with our final choices, but maybe that's why they worked; people put a lot of thought into their songs, and they shared some crazy stories. I'm sharing the play list with you, to satisfy your curiosity, but I've left names and stories out of it because of their personal nature. My choice is pretty obvious. Can you guess?

Play List

Walkin' After Midnight, by Patsy Cline
Fuck Was I, by Jenny Owen Youngs
Pump It Up, by Elvis Costello and The Attractions
Holland 1945, by Neutral Milk Hotel
There Is A Light, by Great Lake Swimmers
In The Evening, by Nina Nastasia and Jim White
What Wolves Would Do, by Les Savy Fav
Rollercoaster by the Sea, by Jonathan Richman
The Morning of Our Lives, by Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers
Step Back, by DAT Politics
No Key No Plan, by Okkervil River
Smells Like Happiness, by The Hidden Cameras
Andante from the Dumky Trio, by Antonin Dvorák

I can't tell you how happy I was that there were two Jonathan Richman songs. They were played back to back, no less. I decided to bring my favorite, Roller Coaster by the Sea, for a variety of reasons. First, I thought it would be great to hear the actual song when I went on the Santa Cruz roller coaster last August instead of torturing Shannon with my rendition. Second, I like the message of the song and I wanted to share it: sometimes you need to do something silly to get you out of your head.

I might add some other musings about this Rock Club at a later date. It deserves some extra thought and I don't have energy for a longer post right now. Besides, I need to go buy cookies for my last Writing Popular Science class. We're having a party.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Everything is the worst

I'm at that point in the semester when I'm having a hard time showering when I should. I stopped taking my vitamins a couple of weeks ago. I'm not drinking enough water. The thing that is really getting me down is this political theory essay that I have to finish in a week. I was going to submit an essay about Marxian theories of alienation, but when no one offered to sell me this type of essay I decided change my subject to Kropotkin and Anarchy. My dad suggested that I refuse to write the essay in order to embrace the true nature of this political theory. He made me laugh and then I truly considered the option.

I've been listening to Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, the 2002 Flaming Lips album, while I slog away on the computer. Here's one of my favorite songs on the album: Fight Test.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The new mayor in town

Michael is the new mayor of Rock Club. Actually, he's been mayor for some time now. While he decided on a clever theme right away, he's failing to set a date for the big event. I don't mind, as I have no idea what I'm going to bring. I'm posting his Back to the future inspired theme below so you can help me brainstorm. Of course, you shouldn't tell me to change parts of my life or anything, but maybe you can tell me what song you would bring so I can copy you.

In my mayoral universe, I’d like to see how we rockers might respond to the realization of my favorite sci-fi scenario (and second, maybe third, favorite mutant ability) – time travel. Here is my challenge for the upcoming rock club:

You’ve been given keys to the Delorian together with ample supplies of plutonium and a functional flux capacitor. Marty has briefed you on the dangers of carelessly toying with the spacetime continuum. Satisfied that you understand the risks, Marty has approved your request for a “pre-present” personal intervention. That is, he has authorized you to travel back in time so that you may attempt to alter the outcome of a single decision/scenario that took place in your life in the past. You’ve been given the opportunity to remedy a regret, right a wrong, or otherwise improve on something you did or did not do in the past. However, as Marty has explained to you, the only tool your present self can use to exert influence over your past self is, well, music – specifically, a well timed song to be played by your present self in the presence of your past self. The “Dobler” effect has been shown to exert only minimal stress on the fabric of spacetime while at the same time offering surprisingly efficacious results. Duly warned and boom-box equipped, you have been given clearance for your 88 mph departure…

Where, and when are you going? What are you going to try and change? Most importantly, what song are you taking with you?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween, yo

I'm not a huge fan of Halloween, but we did it up this year. Michael's costume was unbelievable:

He was Buster Bluth from Arrested development (I couldn't find a picture of him after the seal ate his hand):

This was my costume:

I was Robert Smith from The Cure:

Dressing up is fun! I'm never sure about Halloween, what with the scandalous costumes and the masks that make me uncomfortable (my recognition skills aren't great at the best of times), but this year was an exception. We went to the Caribou show with friends who also dressed up (there was a wizard, a prom queen, a dead beauty queen and two mechanics) and we were all thrilled to see so many people dressed up at the show; I didn't expect that kind of enthusiasm at a hump day Halloween show, especially because there were so many parties the weekend previous. The highlight of the evening was when we spotted another character from Arrested Development: Tobias Funke. It was a beautiful reunion. The guy wasn't able to fake the baldness, so Michael suggested that he add a trickle of fake blood to his forehead to represent the time Tobias got hair plugs; we saw him later and he'd added the blood to great affect. He was wearing his never-nude jean shorts, if you were wondering. Our Halloween team schemed about going as the whole Bluth family next year, and I have to say, I'm already making tentative plans. If not the Bluth family, then some other team costume will surely be possible.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

30 is the new 16

I haven't written for a while. It turns out that it's hard to juggle school and work and colds and 30th birthday party planning. But things have slowed down, and now I have time to sleep and ride horses.

Michael turned 30 on Wednesday. It's kind of a big deal, and we celebrated accordingly. Michael rented a Nintendo Wii since we had so much fun playing it in Ottawa, and it totally dominated the festivities. Thankfully my mom sent sparklers that managed to distract everyone enough to take a cupcake break. That's right, the reign of the traditional angel food cake has ended. I wasn't up for the headache with the egg whites, so Michael gave me permission to try something else. I surprised him with gingerbread cupcakes that were topped with warm caramel sauce and whipped cream, all made from scratch. I've never made caramel sauce before, and that was the most interesting learning experience. As far as health is concerned, caramel isn't very redeeming. It is sugar and butter and cream and a little bit of water and vanilla. That's it. It's scary to make in the same way that making donuts without a deep fryer (i.e. with a big pot of hot oil, like how my Baba makes them) is scary: you can really burn yourself. I got the cake and the caramel recipes from the Joy of Cooking.

In order to recover from the party and the cold that I had for a week, I slept for 11 hours last night. I'm not sure I've ever slept that long before, and it was glorious. Instead of spending the weekend in full recovery mode, I decided to sign Michael and I up for some horse riding today. It still seems like a totally random activity, but it was fun. A coworker of mine set it up, and I thought why not? I'm up for new activities. I was a little nervous at the beginning, but it turned out to a relaxing jaunt through the woods near Prospect Lake. I even calmed down enough to hold my camera up with one hand and take this picture:

I think I have the right amount of fear in my eyes.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A report on Ottawa

I like Ottawa. I'm not sure that I'd want to live there, but I like it. The city lost points when the PM didn't meet us at the airport, but it gained points when Michael pointed out that John Manley was on our flight to the capital city. We made him nervous while we giggled and pointed at him while waiting for luggage together.

We didn't do any of the wonderful things you suggested, except go for a drive in Gatineau Hills, and the only reason we did that is because the wedding was at a ski chalet in the Gatineau Hills (I was in Quebec for the first time!). It was as beautiful as you'd expect at this time of year. Michael said he wasn't impressed with the fall colours, but I think he felt their goodness before the trip was through.

Museums need more leisure time. Am I right? That said, I'm intrigued and I really want to go back and check them out sometime. The Diefenbunker? Awesome. Also: the Art Gallery looked amazing from the outside, as did the Civilization Museum. When I finally visit Montreal, I'll stop by Ottawa for the museums.

Parliament Hill didn't disappoint. In fact, I think Michael, Imtiaz and I were all pretty impressed by the magnificence of the buildings. We don't have old stuff like that on the west coast (uh, except for the legislature). When Michael saw the line-up for parliamentary tours, he said it was just like Disneyland.

We went to Ottawa for Nathan and Cindy's wedding, and it was really lovely too. The weather didn't work out, but everything else was perfect. The ceremony was short with lots of cute music: Badly Drawn Boy, The Cure, Nathan's mom and brother. The dinner was traditional Thanksgiving dinner and the wedding cake was a tier of cupcakes: yum. None of the speeches were inappropriate and the slide show was really touching. I want to get married just so I can put together a similar slide show. After all of the formal stuff wrapped up, we danced until dawn. My hips were hurting as we climbed onto the shuttle back to the city. I tried to take pictures of the dancing, but they never capture the moment, do they? If you want to see other, better pictures, check out the ones on Flickr or Facebook. None of those are as good as the patriotic one in this post though. Am I right?

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Darjeeling Limited

Why? Why didn't I know about this latest Wes Anderson movie until one of Nathan's wedding guests informed me of its release last weekend? Don't you guys have my back? It looks beautiful and everything I want it to be - better than Life Aquatic, I predict. It's only on in Vancouver this weekend. Who's going?

A report on Ottawa will be posted in the near future.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Coming soon: a capital weekend

I'm going to Ottawa this weekend. As far as Ontario goes, I've been to Lake Superior, Niagra Falls and Toronto, but not Ottawa. I wonder if Stephen Harper will shake my hand when I arrive at the airport? I don't like him or anything, but I want to honour that Simpsons episode when Tony Blair greets the Simpson family at Heathrow. I wish life was like that.

Michael's high school friend Nathan Phillips is getting married in Ottawa. When I went to Toronto for my choir trip in grade 11, we went to Nathan Phillips Square. FACT: The square is named after the Nathan Phillips who was Mayor of Toronto from 1955 to 1962, NOT Michael's friend from Prince Albert.

I imagine that I'll take pictures of myself on Parliament Hill, but what else should I do? I'm not sure how much spare time we'll have, but we've rented a car: we're mobile. Any suggestions?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ode to David Attenborough

I just wrote an op-ed for my Writing Popular Science class, and I want to know what you think. We have to submit it somewhere, so I was thinking of emailing it to The Tyee (see link on the right).

Bonding with nature through documentary television

The melodic voice of Sir David Attenborough, the knight of nature documentary narration, beckons from the TV:

“A hundred years ago there were one and half billion people on earth. Now over six billion crowd our fragile planet. But even so, there are still places barely touched by humanity. This series will take you to the last wildernesses and show you the planet and its wildlife as you have never seen it before.”

I was going to go for a walk, but Attenborough has convinced me that if I want to bond with nature, I had better have a seat on my couch.

Attenborough is introducing the series Planet Earth, the 11-part BBC nature documentary that has been running on CBC since 2006.

I’m not the only one who has been transfixed by the series, and it’s no wonder. The documentary, which, as its name suggests, captures the entire planet instead of focusing on one species or region, has been aired during the height of global warming anxiety. It is also the first of its kind to appear in high definition format; nature has never looked more natural.

An American Discovery Channel release of the documentary tried to reach beyond the BBC crowd by replacing Attenborough’s narration with the voice of actress Sigourney Weaver. It worked. Talk show hosts Ellen and Oprah both featured the documentary on their respective TV shows, urging their viewers to educate themselves about the state of the planet.

But is TV the best tool we have to learn about our natural surroundings?

f you live in a city where the only green space you see on a regular basis is a manicured municipal park or the blocks of grass that your neighbours may or may not maintain, the answer is yes.

Nature documentaries like Planet Earth are beneficial because they arouse biophilia, the human propensity to affiliate with other life forms. Biologist Edward O. Wilson uses the term to describe the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life. In our increasingly urban landscape, we have to find the connections where we can, and in our media saturated culture, TV is an accessible option.

Besides, while I might see a seal or a pod of orcas from the beaches at Beacon Hill Park if I’m lucky, I’m certain I will never be in a position to witness snow leopards pursuing markhor goats in the Himalayas, let alone be able to watch crab-eating monkeys swimming from an underwater vantage point.

While the series may arouse biophilia, it doesn’t make explicit reference to the world’s environmental problems until the last episode. In the DVD cover notes, Attenborough says this was intentional.

“This new series is more a celebration of our planet, not a lament about the state of it,” he explains. “It shows what is still there. In some areas there is no doubt that we are doing damage to our world but, at the same time, there is a vast amount of uncharted and untouched wilderness.”

Attenborough’s sentiment explains why this nature documentary has been particularly effective. It doesn’t take the doomsday approach found in other global warming documentaries, such as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

However, it’s hard not to feel the impact of global warming as you watch the Ice Worlds episode. In it, a male polar bear is unable to find footing on melting ice; he resorts to swimming, which he cannot do indefinitely. His desperate need to eat brings him to a colony of walrus, but he is already too tired to succeed in his attack. Wounded and unable to feed, Attenborough tells us the bear will not survive.

If you’ve had your fill of complacent biophilia after watching Planet Earth, but walking outdoors isn’t for you, watch the companion series Saving Planet Earth. It explores the work of global conservation charities. BBC launched the series in June 2007 with an episode presented by Attenborough. This time he examines the impact of humans on the planet, and once again his voice and his medium make the reality of global warming go down a little smoother.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Prairie girl?

I'm from Saskatchewan, but you'd never know it; I grew up in a farming community, but I don't know a thing about farming. I was a town kid, see. And while I spent many a day running around my buddies' farms, I never absorbed the smallest detail of farming life. My dad knows a bit more than me, and he's had the opportunity to see what harvest time is really like during the last couple of weeks. It's September and he's not in the classroom for the first time in a billion years. Instead of twiddling his thumbs at home, he's been helping the Sanderson family with this year's harvest. I'm sure the forced meditation that occurs during long days on the combine is serving him well.

My mom has been tied to the city because she has a job, unlike some people, but she's been able to spend a night or two at the farm too; I think she looks right at home.

I wish I had taken an active interest in agriculture when I was growing up in Rosetown. I guess this desire is connected to the recent focus on trends like the 100 Mile Diet and the importance of knowing where your food comes from. I attended the Saanich Fair with Zoe and Dan a couple of weeks ago, and I was happy to see Vancouver Island kids engaging agriculture through 4-H. When I have children, I will definitely encourage them to take part in this type of club. They will learn about food supply, and I'll be able to cuddle their pet sheep.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hona cultivates food and community

Michael and I recently attended Cultivate, a dinner party tradition established by Hona Watanabe. We know Hona through Sarah Hunt, who told us about the dinner last year, and we've been scheming about how to get invited ever since. When I received an invitation through Facebook, I knew I'd never question its usefulness again.

Hona is passionate about bringing people together to enjoy her recipe experiments with local, seasonal ingredients. People are happy to oblige.

This is what she served:

  • Chickpea and buckwheat patties with miso gravy;
  • Red cabbage, Japanese greens, white sprouts, burdokroot and green beans with sweet onion sesame dressing;
  • Roasted BC potatoes and carrots with mint garlic butter sauce; and
  • Macha sponge cake with blackberries, figs and whipped cream.

We were impressed with the food (see above), the hosts (Hona and her helpful buddies), the company (40 guests), the atmosphere (a beautiful Chinatown loft), the vision (100 mile diet, anyone?), the price ($5 plus tip), everything! I hope that Hona has the stamina to keep it up; I don't know many people who could pull off a dinner party for 40 people with such grace.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I heart camping, but why?

Michael and I went camping at Lake Cowichan last weekend. It was a short trip, but it was our most successful yet. Read: we didn't freeze during the night and we actually slept in. While we were smoking up our clothes by the fire, we mused about why people like camping at all. I guess it comes down to appreciating nature, fending for oneself and getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but you have to admit that it's sort of strange to put so much effort into a certain amount of discomfort. Am I right?

Fending for oneself (by sharpening a roasting stick):

Getting away from the hustle and bustle (with a fancy rental car):

Appreciating nature (with a worn but irresistable vantage point):

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Thank you for knocking me outta my head

There are too many things to write about San Francisco because that's how the city rolls. When I got home I told Facebook that I just got home from the moon, and I meant it. If you want to go on a holiday in North America but you don't want to feel like you're in North America, or anywhere else for that matter, go to San Francisco. Oh yeah. And go see my sister.

Because it's so overwhelming, I was happy to leave the city for a day for a bit of respite. Shannon and Chris have turned their second washroom into a veggie oil processing plant, so we drove to Santa Cruz fueled by veggie oil. Hooray for all of the good things that means! During the ride we listened to the soundtrack for the Lost Boys: a 1987 American horror film about young Californians who must fight a gang of teenage vampires. It was filmed in Santa Cruz, which was one of the city's attractions for me. The other attraction was this:

I've never been a big fan of amusement park rides, especially ones that spin, but I have taken a shine to wooden roller coasters. I like the one at the PNE in Vancouver and I like the Santa Cruz coaster, the Giant Dipper, even more. I think I was laughing the entire ride. Shannon was screaming. The coaster had extra significance because of the song Roller Coaster by the Sea by Jonathan Richman. I've posted the lyrics below, but because I know they won't have the desired effect on their own, I think you should try to listen to the actual song. It became the theme song for the weekend to Chris' dismay; Shannon and I listened to it one thousand times. It's how we roll.

Roller Coaster by the Sea

You see I went on the roller coaster last night when I was feeling bad
Down by the sea in Santa Cruz, and I was feeling sad

But we went down, and around, and it knocked me out of my head.

Well, I went on the coaster and my heart was heavy as lead
But we went down, and around, and it knocked me out of my head.

I say whoa-oh-oh, for it knocked me out of my head. Let's go...

Hey roller coaster by the sea, thank you for helping me
And roller coaster by the water, made me feel more as I oughtta

Well, you knocked me out of my head

See, I went on a roller coaster last night when I was feelin' bad
We were down by the sea in Santa Cruz, and I was sadder than sad

But we went down, and around, and it knocked me out of my head

Hey, when I went on the coaster, my heart was heavy as lead
But we went down, down, and around, and it knocked me out of my head.

Well, it knocked me out of my head.

The Santa Cruz trip took place on Friday. Saturday night was reserved for the Giraffes:

I was a bit nervous about the Giraffes when this picture was taken, but I warmed up to my costume as the evening wore on. Five of us dressed up as Giraffes in order to attend the animal masquerade at The Great American Music Hall. The costumes were part of a Burning Man theme camp last year, but they have taken on a life of their own. I found out why: being one of herd of Giraffes makes you famous. People want to talk to you, touch you, take your picture, invite you into their home for intimate moments (I was propositioned by a random woman on the street), welcome you to their wedding receptions, anything! All this from a Giraffe head made of foam and some yellow accessories.

The day after the Giraffes required some healing time. That's why Shannon and I went to the Kabuki Japanese communal baths on Sunday. I wish every person I know could go to these baths every week. The baths are for women three days of the week, men three and couples one (on the couples day you have to wear bathing suits). I love the ritual of moving from the showers to the steam room to the sauna to the cold pool to the hot pool. It's beautiful! The spa also provides lemon and cucumber water, tea, ice cold wash cloths, fancy soaps, salt for exfoliating and cucumber slices for your eyes. Seriously. It was a dream. Shannon said I should make tentative plans to open one in Victoria.

I could keep writing about San Francisco forever, like I said, but those were the main attractions. Also, I'm tired.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dance dance revolution

I'm finding it really hard to get back into the swing of things this week. I arrived home from San Francisco on Monday and I just had time to do laundry tonight. However, I did have time to post my pictures, so check them out. In the next few days I will write about these highlights: the roller coaster by the sea; the Giraffes; and the Japanese communal baths. Intrigue!

Because I'm too tired to write this minute, I'll leave you with a new tentative plan: learn the following routine from an episode of this year's So you think you can dance (the only show I'll watch in the summer). It's beyond anything.

I've told a few people that I'm planning to do this dance at my wedding, but that was rash; I'll be happy if I do some of these moves in the privacy of my own home. Maybe I already have.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Prairie girls

My friend Emily lives on a boat! With her boyfriend and her cat! Last week, Dana and I visited the famous boat and its occupants because they're moving into town in the fall. Dana is from Alberta and I'm from Saskatchewan. We get excited about boats! I'm happy that Emily will live so close to me, but I also want to visit the boat again. Maybe in August. Emily?

Check out the extra pictures on Flickr.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I told you so

They didn't give me a lot of notice, but I pulled it off; I'm committed to this embroidery thing (see this post from a few weeks back), even though I forgot to bring a needle with which to embroider when I went to the park to craft with Sarah H this evening. Angie, I promise that I'll send some sort of embroidered gift to you by Christmas. Who knows who'll spring a wedding on me next??

Those are pillow cases, by the way.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Marry me

The summer started out with nary a wedding in sight: Sarah and Galen were out of the way with their April wedding, and Nathan and Cindy aren't even a speck on the horizon with an October wedding. That changed a couple of weeks ago, when Shannon and Chris announced they were getting married in Seattle in, well, a couple of weeks. Shannon prefers not to use the word wedding, but I don't know what else you can call it. Family members traveled from far and wide. Chris and Shannon picked out special outfits and the families donned their finery. There were flowers and rings and a judge and tears. That's a wedding! And as far as weddings go, this one was beautiful. The only thing missing was long, awkward toasts to the bride and groom. I'm saving those for my trip to San Francisco next week; the trip was planned in advance of the wedding announcement, but I'm glad that I get to see them so soon after the big day. Especially because two nights in Seattle didn't leave a lot of time for really connecting. That'll surely come with the drunken toasts.

Check out the rest of my wedding pictures here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cleared for take-off

My dad is no longer a high school teacher; he retired in June, and it was one of the reasons Michael and I went home for a visit a few weeks ago. My mom pulled off a wonderful bbq with some friends and colleagues, and everyone had nice things to say about my dad's career. I knew that I would be saying a few words before I gave Dad a couple of treats, but I was stumped. Thankfully, Shannon had prepared a little speech, which she emailed to me. I presented it with added flair by blubbering through the whole thing. It was a happy occasion, but I guess I was emotional because, like Shannon says, my dad was one of my favorite teachers of all time. Have a look at her words, below.

Today you are all here with my dad to celebrate his retirement. Thank you! My dad truly deserves to be honored on this day for being one of the best teachers so many students ever had; I know this because he was my teacher in high school too, one of my best teachers.

Even in his last few years of teaching, my dad was still learning, teaching new material and inspiring his students to learn. He didn't become one of those teachers we have all had: the ones who are done years before their retirement, boring their students to death with their sheer lack of interest in their profession. I know my dad was present right till his last day of teaching.

I am really happy that my dad had so many rich and diverse teaching experiences in his career: Spruce Lake, Cudworth, Saskatoon, Regina, South End, Saskatoon, Rosetown and finally Saskatoon again. If anyone knows the different kinds of high school kids in the large geography of Saskatchewan, it's my dad!

And his range of subjects always fascinates people; I love telling people aviation studies and drama in the same sentence. Wowee. He really got to teach what he loved and I believe that the students he taught knew that too.

Dad, you will have the opportunity now to do many different things and teach in many different environments, but you may end up back in a high school, and that's ok too! You're at home in that environment and your amazing connection with high school kids will never change. Thank you for inspiring so many people to keep learning.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Prepare yourselves

From this day forward I will only give gifts that have some sort of embroidery component:

Jenn and Tim's beautiful baby (Kaden!) received my first complete project, and I think he likes it. I think he'll like it even more when he grows into it. Shannon was wondering about the practicality of giving a baby a white bib. I see her point. I hear babies can be messy.

Embroidery has proven to be the perfect summer craft. I was looking for a portable option that wasn't knitting - something I could bring to coffee shops, beaches and crafting dates with ease. I considered cross stitch, but I don't have the patience for that right now. I visited Sublime Stitching after seeing an ad in Bust, and, after only a few days of hemming and hawing, I ordered some start-up supplies. Jenny Hart has starter packages to get you off the ground, but I opted to create my own package because I desired her brand new fancy book over a simple instruction manual. You can borrow it if you want.

It's good that I have a new craft on the go because I have a backlog of presents to address. Next up: baby gift number two. This one is for another Saskatchewan baby: Camron belongs to Angie and Ray. I hear he likes primary colours.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Luck be a lady

I have many things to write about - a baby nephew named Kaden, a new embroidery hobby and a recent car co-op directorship, to name a few - but no time to give these topics their due (check my flickr account for evidence of the first two). I do have time to tell you about the success of a tentative plan that I've been pursuing for months: I've been entering my name in every draw that comes my way, trying to reconnect with the luck of my youth. It finally proved fruitful at the Victoria Car Share Co-op barbeque last night, when I won two tickets to the Organic Islands Festival this weekend. I know the tickets are only worth $15 combined, but I have to start somewhere, right? If you live in Victoria, let me know if you want to join me.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ode to local strawberries

On Saturday morning, Sarah, Michael and I tried to make it to the Moss Street Market in time to hear the start-up bell. We didn't make it (because of a coffee detour), but when we arrived shortly after 10, we joined the first line up we saw. Why? Local strawberries! It turns out that other vendors were selling strawberries too, but we're sheep. We saw a line-up and we stood in it. And the strawberries were worth the wait (even though this vendor would only sell one basket per customer).

Friends, I'm just going to go ahead and say it: I don't think there is anything better than local strawberries (this includes those picked from your own garden, obviously). Lydia, I know you're with me on this. Sometimes I think I'm exaggerating their goodness, but when I have my first local strawberry of the year (those underripe ones from 2 weeks ago don't count), all doubts disappear. They are so good that I was actually sad while I was eating them: the seaon is too short! How much longer do I have? Should I eat a basket a day? Can a person eat too many strawberries? Will I ever be satisfied? I feel a little short of breath thinking about it.

I'm going to Saskatoon on Friday, and my dad has promised me strawberries from the garden. Combined with the fact that Michael and I are going home to meet our new baby nephew (Jen and Tim's son Kaden), this vacation is going to be hard to top.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hey everyone!

My blog is one year old today! In my first post, I didn't think I would be able to make it happen: I make many tentative plans that never come to pass. But I persevered! Also, I succeeded in completing several of my original tentative plans: notably, making perogies and using my camera more. I still only use my sewing machine to hem pants though. Coming soon: curtains!

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the folks who comment on the posts and those who appreciate my musings anonymously, but mostly the ones who comment. I love the comments more than you can ever imagine. On that note, the response to last week's post made me so happy; there is so much knowledge to share, and I love that people wrote long, thoughtful responses. Do that again. I have tentative plans to prepare a follow-up to that post in the near future.

Monday, June 04, 2007


There was this one Urban Politics class. During a group discussion, we were supposed to develop a feminist form of urban design, so we focussed on co-operative living. We felt that, among other benefits, co-ops make having kids easier; it's that whole it takes a village to raise a child thing. I remember my teacher said it was interesting that we focussed on child rearing as the number one feminist issue, rather than, say, violence against women. I thought it was interesting that he thought it was interesting.

It's certainly topical right now.

I was just at a press conference where this guy says to the TV cameras: I've been thinking about grandchildren more and more lately. I hope my daughter-in-law is listening to this.

A week earlier, I did a double-take when I saw the cover of Maclean's. It read: Hey Lady! What will it take to make you breed? Your government needs to know. You can read the main article here. It brought up some interesting points, although I found the title crass. I especially liked the bit about France. That country has some great incentives for parenting, which don't try to get women to stay home; in fact, almost 80 per cent of French women work. This is why:

There is a calibrated income-tax rate for families whereby the more children a couple has, the more money they keep in their pockets. The state offers a monthly allowance of roughly $400, which is bumped up when the child reaches the age of 11. Parents are entitled to a tax deduction for in-home child care help (which Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who stepped down this week, recently announced will be doubled). There is an extensive state-run crèche system, where parents can leave their toddlers at a moment's notice, for free. Families with three or more kids are deemed "famille nombreuses" and are eligible for zero income tax, heavily subsidized rent and transportation, and state-funded parental leaves that can extend for years. They also get free access to many public amenities, and about $325 per year toward extracurricular arts and athletics programs for the kids.

The response by the Tyee is also worth a read: So you want me to breed?

I want to know what my lady friends think about the pressure to bear children! Also: let's move to France!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

On concerts

When we moved to Victoria, Jillian thought I wouldn't be able to hack it. She thought I would go through concert withdrawal. I think her aversion to concerts (which I totally understand, by the way) warped her perception of me and my live music habits. That said, I do love a good show, and I've enjoyed a recent concert fix: we attended the Sasquatch Music Festival last weekend.

Normally I'm not a fan of big concerts, but the line-up for this festival made me sweat. Manu Chao! Bjork! The Arcade Fire! Sarah Silverman (not a band, but whatever)!

The Arcade Fire were my favourite. I sang out loud. Michael too. I danced silly and felt like a super star; it reminded me of that first Hidden Cameras concert I went to with Ananda. I liked The Arcade Fire before, but I didn't love them. Now I love.

Bjork was a powerful yellow starfish on a giant stage. Was it a rave? Maybe. I'm ok with that.

Manu Chao is a punk band, apparently. I didn't know. I was sad when I recognized lyrics to favourite songs: they didn't fit with my memory. Lots of people seemed to like the show though, and it was satisfying to see the team in person.

Sarah Silverman? What happened? You appeared once with a lame joke: you pretended (?) to forget the name of the band you were supposed to introduce; you read Manu Chau off your hand in an exaggerated fashion; you skipped off the stage and never came back. Pitchfork reports you may have been sick. Boo!

Other goodness included catching the last song by Patrick Wolf and keeping warm with the Spoon fans.

During the road trip part of the weekend, there was a lot of talk about favourite concerts (MIA/LCD Soundsystem, Hidden Cameras, Belle & Sebastian/Jonathan Richman) and bands we hope to see one day (Camera Obscura, The Shins, Animal Collective). Combined with the thrill of seeing a good show, those conversations made me thirsty for more! I don't want to move back to Vancouver, but I do hope I make enough money to skip over for shows more often. I don't want to miss Camera Obscura next time around.

Check out the Flickr for photos by Nick.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Down with the old canoe

Sometimes I'm sad that Hollywood took over some of my childhood passions. The Lord of the Rings can't be mentioned without images of Orlando Bloom and Liv Tyler coming to mind. Similarly, the Titanic can't be referenced without acknowledging the 1997 mammoth blockbuster that starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Although I love Winslet and I'm partial to DiCaprio, I did not like that movie. I didn't like it because it was based on a fictional love story when fiction wasn't necessary. There was plenty of real heart-break to communicate. Also, that song by Celine Dion sucked.

My interest in the Titanic started in grade 8 when we had to read A Night to Remember, and the research hobby spiraled from there. After political science, I've probably read more about the Titanic than any other subject (although don't ask me to regurgitate any details, since this all took place years ago). My grandma also had an interest in the Titanic, and maintained that Down with the Old Canoe was the best book on the subject.I tried reading it when I was younger, but was turned off by the academic tone. It may be time to give it another try.

Last fall CBC Radio advertised the Titanic exhibit that was coming to the Royal BC Museum, and I called my grandma to share the news of our good fortune, without realizing that the exhibit wouldn't be coming until April. Once we found out, we were still excited about it, of course, and had tentative plans to go together.

As many of you know, my grandma passed away in February.

Michael brought me to the exhibit as an early birthday present, and I'm happy to report that it wasn't that good, and I know my grandma would have agreed. I was disappointed by the focus on the remnants from the wreck site. It was mildly interesting to see a plate from the first-class china set; it was specially-made for the Titanic and didn't even make it through one voyage, yet it survived on the bottom of the sea floor for decades; but while the surviving plate may bring to mind the class themes that dominate the Titanic story, it doesn't capture the main draw of the Titanic story: it was a perfect tragedy. Dozens of events lined up to create such a devastating outcome: the crew that was looking for icebergs didn't have binoculars; if the Titanic had hit the berg head on, instead of turning at the last moment, it wouldn't have sunk: if there were enough life boats, no one would have died: if the nearby ship hadn't assumed the emergency flairs were fire works, it would have been able to save hundreds of people. Those are the bits that people want to hear about.

There was one aspect of the exhibit that I did like, even though I found it a bit morbid. When we went in, Michael and I were given male and female boarding passes. They had information about who we were traveling with, our circumstances of travel and what we did for a living. At the end of the exhibit we were able to check lists of the saved and the lost to see if we made it. It was an effective way to illustrate the personal level of tragedy that resulted when the ship when down.

Michael's pass was for Richard George Hocking. He died, but his family all survived. Mine was for Charlotte Annie Tate. I survived with my baby, but my husband died. See what I mean? Fictional stories are not necessary.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

I don't have a ton of pictures of me and my mom together, but those of you who know her aren't surprised: she's usually the one behind the camera. This one was taken last summer on Saltspring Island, and although I love it, I now have tentative plans to acquire some additional photos of the two of us. Perhaps when I visit Saskatchewan in June. It won't be mother's day, but it will have to do. The point is, my mom loves photos. Michael and I were taking pictures on my birthday last week, and after he took the photo of me and the cupcakes (which he made!) he said, "There, your mom will be happy with that." Some of the pictures are posted on Flickr; in fact, I started the Flickr account to satisfy her craving for pictures of our trip to Mexico. When you live so far apart it is a nice way to connect, which is why I'm going to try and convince her to set up her own account. Again, a tentative plan for June. I'm not the best computer teacher, but maybe we can do it if we have a few glasses of wine first. Even if I don't succeed it'll be a fun belated Mother's Day gift. What do you say, Mom?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Popcorn clusters

Michael wanted to make popcorn balls last week. His mom used to make them, so we embraced the nostalgic craving and started looking for options. In the end we asked the Internet what we should do, and it told us to make this gingerbread caramel corn recipe. Not a popcorn ball per se, but it does harden into clusters of popcorn, and that's close enough for me.

There is a lot of sweetness in this recipe, but at least we used organic light corn syrup and organic molasses. That means it's actually healthy.

You've all made caramel before. This is exactly the same except you add baking soda at the end, which makes it foamy. I wonder why this ingredient is necessary?

And at least there's no gluten in the recipe. My wheat-free friends and family can enjoy this snack!

One way to curb the sweetness is to limit the coating on the popcorn.

This recipe makes you bake the final mix for an hour, which seems a bit long, but makes the final product extra crunchy. I enjoyed my serving with Michael and Sarah H, an episode of The Office and a glass of milk to cut the sweetness.

Monday, April 30, 2007

It's my first day at work

It was my first day at the office today, so this morning Michael played me a Daniel Johnston song. Guess what it's called:

It's your first day at work
It's your first day at work
You feel so nervous
You feel just like a jerk

You're boss is being nice to you
But that's just for today
Tomorrow he'll be mean to you
So you better listen up
And do what you're supposed to do
Do what you're supposed to do

It's your first day at work
It's your first day at work
You feel so nervous
You feel just like a jerk

I sang it in my head all day. Thankfully my boss will be out of town tomorrow, so he can't be mean to me. Funny. He's actually very nice and I feel at ease with all of my coworkers, even if I do feel a little nervous to start another new job. I've had my fill of first days of work!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Update city

I went to Vancouver and I'm happy with how the whole thing went down: I sat in the ferry's private (i.e. peaceful) lounge on the way to Vancouver; I almost finished my very first crossword puzzle with a lot of help from Lydia and a little bit from Ben (I only had hard clues left at that point in the trip); I had a wheat-free, dairy-free picnic with Lydia, Brie and Sarah R and was shocked to hear that Brie hadn't been in Queen E park since she was a little girl; I ate Bert's pancakes with Michael; I didn't buy a cupcake from Picnic because Uncle Bruce made chocolate cupcakes with Irish Cream icing that filled my craving; I scoured every store on Main Street with Cheryl; I may have overstayed my welcome at Motherland (that Main Street clothing store I worked at briefly); I ate triple threat (cheap, big, good) sushi with Marla, Lydia and Kelly at some late hour; I slept in three different beds; I hung out with some cats; I sneezed a lot; I fell asleep on a city bus; AND I met Jen on the ferry and ate drive-thru fries in her mom's car on the way home.

The only bad part was the mega-construction/road work. Main Street smells like tar. Cambie Street looks like Armageddon. The insides of the city were exposed on Granville Street, but that actually looked pretty cool:

If you want to see a few pictures with people in them, I'm trying to get back on the Flickr train; check out the link over there on the right side of the screen. Mom, it's at the bottom of the list of links.

Today I started my first unofficial day of work (my first official day in the office is next Monday), and my first task involves compiling trivia about BC for a website database. Did you know that in 1890, Nelson was the biggest city between Vancouver and Winnipeg? True story. I love how a full-time job feels like a holiday after that last semester of school. My four-day work-week fantasy almost seems unnecessary right this minute.

Friday, April 13, 2007

List of goodness

  • I'm done school for the next eight months.
  • I'm not sick.
  • I have a week to putter around Victoria.
  • I'm going to Vancouver next Thursday.
  • I have a great co-op job with the provincial government.
  • I might go to the Sasquatch music festival.
  • I joined Facebook and reconnected with old friends.
  • I'm going to see the Constantines tonight.
  • I'm done school.
  • I'm done school.
  • I'm done school.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday bunage*

Happy Easter weekend! It's finally warm in Victoria, and I'm so relieved that Global Warming hasn't caused eternal winter just yet. The UVic buns* were relieved too. Now they can stretch out on the grass and gain strength before they deliver chocolate eggs on Sunday. What a great holiday.

*Terminology borrowed from Cute Overload.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

School's out for summer

I have one more week of exams, but today is the last day of classes. Huzzah! On that note, I am almost finished my last website: Women are funny. Please look at it for good times. Also, tell me if you find any errors (spelling and otherwise), because I have time to fix them before it's due next week. I already know that the header looks squished in Internet Explorer, so keep that comment to yourself. And don't fill out the comment form; the results will be sent to my professor. Thanks, friends.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Sarah + Galen

Sarah and Galen married each other yesterday:
The ceremony was lovely (no rain!), and the newly weds threw a great reception too. The burrito buffet (Galen's idea) was especially unbelievable.