Saturday, February 27, 2010

Instant Gratification.

Social networking has changed how we interact, yes, I know that is a mild understatement. When Mr. B was born, we called people in the morning, and the word spread about his arrival. When Connor came around... photos were posted in the wee hours of the morning on FB, joyously announcing his arrival.

I am really excited because my cousin had a baby boy last night... I even called it! Yeah, I know, there is an equal chance either way.. but still! Well, nothing like checking out FB for more information on her site, her hubby's site, and then her sister's site for updates... looking for pictures and details that are surely going to be posted at some time. Of course, we all are impatient in my house. Hello, didn't the big event happen last night?? We want pictures, and details... and in a few weeks, we can't wait to meet the little duffer!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Ride

It certainly wasn't my first time, and I am sure it won't be the last time, but watching the RCMP musical ride is always a treat, and does make me feel a little patriotic and proud.

It also helps having an in - being pretty tight with a member who was in the ride and still knows everyone. The ride is at Holland Park throughout the big O, and we traveled with our friend and his family to watch today. Pretty nice getting VIP treatment, and parking around the back by the stables. The weather held out just long enough for us, and it was neat to be there. This was not a scheduled performance, but people still showed up in droves.

I am glad that they have been performing during the big O, does it get anymore Canadian than the ride and the red serge of our mounted? It has been cool watching the red clothes and maple leafs being worn with pride, and then today, driving home, listening to the hockey game and when Canada scored, listening to everyone honk and knowing that even in their cars, most of us were tuned in to the game.
It has been interesting to see how the big O has evolved over the two weeks it has been on, how my own attitude towards it has also grown a wee bit too. Before I go off on a tangent... if you get the chance to check out the ride, it is worth it. Touristy, yeah. Waving the flag, yeah. Canadian? Oh yeah!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A curious incident

You would almost think it was NaBloPoMo with the amount I have been posting this month. Like Nej, I seem to have the urge to track the books that I have been reading this year. I just finished reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-time. It wasn't what I was expecting, but then again, I am not sure what I expected, if that makes sense.

It was a quick read and it does start off with a bit of a bang. It is a bit of an awkward read, especially when the first chapter starts off with a 2. I wondered at first if I had missed something. This is a unique book, and it is also a good read. It is first person narrative about a highly functioning, autistic, fifteen year old boy. It begins with the murder of the neighbors dog, and what unravels from this action is pretty revealing. I think this book delivers some insights as to how a person with autism functions and sees the world and the pace of the story was pretty swift. I must say, at 250 pages, I would have felt a bit ripped off at the $29.95 cover price, but I did get it for a fine price through that big online book company, which helped. I read so damn fast that paying full price for a smallish book, no matter how intrigued I am by the book is a little frustrating. If you stumble across a copy of this, it is well worth a look.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

That tree in Brooklyn.

When I finished a Tree Grows in Brooklyn I wanted to start typing out different quotes that I felt were relevant, or moved me. To reiterate myself, I can't believe that in so many years of university English literature classes, I never stumbled across this book. It is a really good read. It is so much a women's novel, and about growing up (coming of age), and about striving for more. This book is about family, and about surviving poverty, and even childhood.

It's funny, I am sitting here struggling with what words to say about this book and not really coming up with a lot more than "I enjoyed this book, and I think it is an important one to read". I think after coming up with a few posts for this week that have been floating around in my head that I have exhausted my store of thoughtful words.

It seems that in the last six months, I have been picking up some really profound books that have left quite an impression on me. I have also been reading just a lot of really good escapist novels too. I have this said before, but I couldn't imagine not being an avid reader and I hope I am raising two little readers. I love our night time reads, and we have been pretty good about picking out some great kid's literature that is a lot of fun to read to the boys.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

An olympic experience

Aside from catching the torch relay, I really hadn't given it a lot of thought to trying to catch an O-event. From how they did the tickets, in waves, and then by lottery, to just the perceived cost, and well, having two young kids also factors in to the equation... it just didn't seem to be in the cards to get out and experience an event.

Thanks to a dear family member, I got to go!! My dear hubby not only drove me back and forth to the venue, but also watched the kids while I got to go out and enjoy a women's hockey game. Went with a good diverse group of my extended family, and everything just clicked. It was a classic rivalry between Russia and Slovakia, and the Russians ended up winning. It wasn't the most exciting game I have been too, but it was a LOT OF FUN. There is still such a gap in terms of skill level in the world of women's hockey... Everyone was in a good mood, there was so much patriotism, so many pairs of those red gloves in the crowd... the atmosphere was amazing. It was great to be out watching women's hockey, and that it looked like a sell out crowd, and that people were cheering on the women! I remember when I first started playing in the early 90s, and to see so many people out to a women's game... just awesome. We have come a long way baby!!!

I am glad I made it out to an O-event. It was right up there in the top games I have seen live. It was cool to cheer for both teams, and to just enjoy being there - hell, I was even on the jumbo-tron a few times!! Everything is heavily branded, and there is lots of swag. Seems like O-pins are the thing to collect.

I would like to check out the flame at some point, and maybe drive around the city at night to see the rings in Coal Harbour.. just to see them... but not until the P-event coming up. Shame that so many of the "houses" are only open for the O-event. Kind of think it would be more appropriate if the Paralympic games were held first, and then the Olympics so the excitement would just build, rather than reach a peak and then reach a much smaller peak afterwards. I am glad I have not taken the boys downtown.. I was a little tempted, but it isn't the place. Not stroller friendly, and way too much walking for Brandon.. and then with the crowds.. how much fun is it looking at bodies at waist height?? I think what I have been able to do is just right. From what I am hearing, the atmosphere downtown is just crazy, cool, chaotic, and a little patriotic.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Is this really winter???

I could really get used to winters like this. Here is a shameless, patriotic moment.

Yesterday I had an incredible day out at Rocky Point with a dear friend and her daughter, and today, I had another great day out with my mom! I have discovered it isn't so crazy to manage the two boys... if one is on my back in the backpack and one is in the stroller or wagon. Brandon can't always do big distances, so I have been trying out different combinations to see what works for all of us!

It felt like a different kind of freedom getting out the last two days. Yes I CAN!!! Yes WE CAN!!! I wasn't sure how I would manage with the two, but it is almost easier now that Connor is older. Connor loves being in the backpack, and the wagon and the stroller worked well so that Brandon could rest and not do all the walking I like to do. Yesterday we covered about 3-4 km, and today it was about 2-3km. It was so nice to get out and enjoy the weather and this truly incredible spring that we are having. Er, I even typed spring unconsciously.

My boys, chilling at White Rock. Still one of my favourite places to go... even after all these years it doesn't get old.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oh Amaryllis

I have never had my own before, but I would wholeheartedly recommend buying an amaryllis bulb when they are for sale around Christmas time. What a marvel to watch sprout, grow, and then bloom (yes, I know I sound like a real nerd). This is a two day period in the life of my amaryllis. Yesterday it was just about ready to open, this morning it was almost there, and then this afternoon it is wide open in all it's glory.

Earlier on today, slowly opening in the morning sun (above).

Fully open this afternoon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

do not push it....

No really.

These folks are serious. Spotted by my dear hubby during his work day today...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I am currently reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and it is really good. It is melancholic, and I can't say that it is a really happy book (or truly unhappy one either), but I am surprised it didn't make the short list of books to read in any of the English lit classes I took in university. It is profound in the story it is telling, and I look forward to seeing how the story unfolds over the pages.

There is a passage that describes the 12 year old protagonists feelings towards her local library, and it got me thinking. I spent a lot of time in libraries when I was young. In my small town, the little library was an old shack, seemingly parked on the side of the main street. It smelled like old books inside, and the librarians were some of my favorite people around. I remember the summer where you could fill out a yellow, flashy sheet with the goal of reading 50 books over the summer (yes, I easily achieved that at the time). I remember the joys of new books, and being able to take them out, and the routine of bringing them back to pick out more. I loved Bill Peet books, and a few John Bellairs books, and the Judy Blumes... to say the least. I have lots of memories of books, around books, because of books. I couldn't imagine not being able to read.

I just finished another few of Lescroart's books, which are such better law procedurals than Grisham, IMHO, and then a more profound book called The Tenth Gift by Johnson. It was a lovely read. I have borrowed a few books in the last few months from my friend Cher, and I must admit, she has picked out a few winners! This book followed dual story lines in the present and in the seventeenth century during the era of the Barbary corsairs. The common thread was embroidery and the Cornish coast. Well worth a gander.

It is interesting to note that as you talk to your friends that read about what they are reading, and what they want to read, there is a lot of overlap. Even if you aren't a big shopper like myself, spending a lot of time looking at what is new and coming out... I think it is cool that there is an unspoken grapevine in which the books worth reading get talked about.

Well, I am starting to feel like I have been neglecting the kids to write out a few thoughts this morning. Mornings do start out slow around here, this is one thing I will really miss when I go back to work. This first few hours of the day as we all ease in to it... I am sure it will be chaos once I am back to work... although that will make weekends all the sweeter.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Classy Gold

It would appear that the big O event brings out the best and the worst in folks. It feels surreal that it is happening out in the city and the mountains, and here I am at home, on my maternity leave, and life moves on. Although seeing some of the events and displays down town would be interesting, the idea of going there with two young children in tow is not appealing by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe a late night drive to check out some of the lights and stuff happening, but not with the crowds.

Our news reporting of the events is all over the board. It seems there is lots of repetition, and the network that doesn't have the rights to broadcast seems to be dwelling on everything negative or dramatic. It seems that there is a mixed response to the opening (which is fair) and our weather is getting a bit slammed (which is fair and out of our control, really, truly, the warmest record ever on the heels of one of the worst? ironic to say the least), and weird delays that are happening (like Zamboni's breaking down and the replacement still has steel studs on it?!). There are also some really positive things happening out there too, but that isn't always what is being reported.

Like RCMP ride is sold out every day, the response has been huge. The cauldron is a hit. There are tons of people hitting the streets in the city, and places like the Irish House had a 5 hour line up to get in over the weekend. Funny, you don't hear a lot about stuff like that when you can make better headlines emphasizing that event ticket holders were refunded because of rain up on Cypress.

I had mixed feelings about the opening - some things went on too long, some things were a bit cheesy, some things really hit the mark, and then there was a bit of a technical glitch (understatement). I also felt that the final torchbearers should have been folks that had not had the opportunity to carry the torch previously. Fair enough, the Great One had not carried it yet, but the rest had... like.. hello??!!!

All in all, the opening was decent. While I am on a whinge, I still think that the speed skating oval should have been built at the university and not at sea level, ah well, that is how it is. The security seems so much, so excessive... and then there are all the rules of Van0c. They encroach upon the ludicrous. The big business element of it all, kind of takes away from what the big O should be about - the athletes, their family, and inspiring folks to new heights.

Which brings me around to a rambling point. A lot has been made about Canada not having won a gold medal on Canadian soil. I think the media flogged this point incessantly and I don't think it was that big of a deal, we do have other gold medals... I get it, but it was just harped upon. This being said, our Canadian fellow who won our first gold medal on Canadian soil... what a great win. What a classy young man who won with true dignity and aplomb. His story really touched me, and for once, I appreciated how some of the media treated/celebrated his win. I watched the late night interview with him and his family, and I felt proud of him, his family, and to be a Canadian where such values and experiences are possible.

So, the big O is many things, at differing times. My dad is working them, and my brother got laid off because of them. Some things happen for which I am proud, other things have happened for which I am not so proud. For better or worse, they are our O.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Torch hits town

I have a lot of mixed feelings about the big O that is hitting town. Somethings have been done well, and other things... well. Let's just leave it at that so this does not devolve in to a vent.

Here on the west coast, I can't see this happening again in my lifetime so it was important to get out and see the torch drift by with the kids, especially since it was literally at the end of our street. Child herding was successful and we were out of the house before 8:30 and it was cool watching the crowds build and people start to gather. There was excitement, and it was neat seeing everyone wearing their Canada gear. I think it is important to be proud of your heritage, it is part of your identity.

Here is proof that as a mom, you don't always get the chance to check out what you look like before you leave the house. I only look a little goofy. A torch exchange happened where we were, so we got pictures taken with the torch and yes, I had to touch it. The concept of the flame having traveled from Greece, and having passed through so many hands is heartening. It helps remind us of how we are all connected, somehow, in ways that are not always fathomable.

Like many of these events, there was a lot of build up to the torch runner arriving.. the torch was passed to our torch bearer, and on it moved. It seemed really fast, and then we were trundling back home. There was a community celebration moments away, but I knew there were thousands of people there. If I was solo, I would have gone. With two young kids in tow... no thanks. I may have been able to see something, but them - especially Brandon... he would have seen people. Lots of bodies. That is about it.

Well, that was our big O experience. I am glad that the kids can look back and now that they touched it and were a part of it. The torch is more grassroots, touching people, moving through communities. The big O - well, it just seems surreal that it is happening a short distance away, and all this bru-ha-ha isn't happening half a world away... it is here, our backyard. It effects us all, and yet ...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

more culture...

Ken and I had the chance to catch Beyond Eden yesterday at the Vancouver Playhouse. It was very well done. John Mann of Spirit of the West, and Tom Jackson, from North of 60 and Relic were the leads of this moving masterpiece. It is a shame that last night was the end of its' run, otherwise I would heartily recommend getting out and seeing this play.

I believe this play has an important place in BC arts and culture. At the end, Jackson commented that this is the first time Haida has been spoken on stage. Beyond Eden brought an important piece of BC history to light. Although the main characters are fictional, this play was inspired by the controversial 1957 expedition by Bill Reid and Wilson Duff to Haida Gwaii. The staging, lighting, and sound effects were awesome. I found that it moved at a really good clip, and I was sad to see it end. Mann's voice is definitely unique, and it was cool to see him act instead of front SOTW. Jackson has real stage presence, and I almost wish his character, the Watchman, had more scenes so I could listen to his deep baritone. The whole crew felt really tight, and the costumes were appropriate. The pacing was swift, and the story evoked a range of emotions for me - from elation, to frustration, to reflecting upon what totems and First Nations cultures do mean to me and within the greater tapestry of BC. I felt pretty fortunate to have made it out to such an amazing play and to see that it was completely sold out and that there were a range of patrons out to see it - not just the older set, people of all ages.

It has been strangely exotic in my life - I never would have dreamed that with two young kids I would actually have the opportunity to see not one, two, or three, but four amazing plays in short order. Amazingly enough, it is Phantom that is at the bottom of the four that I have seen but each has had it's merits and have been wonderful experiences. It feels great to get back in touch with that part of myself and to be with someone who also appreciates live theatre as well.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


It's been a long time since I blitzed through a novel as fast as I have read Still Alice. It is, (insert pause, as I search for the right string of words here, ironically enough) a powerful read. It is also not an easy read, but it is also an accessible read, if that makes any sense.

Now that I just finished the book, and it is 1am - what do I think? Reflectively, Alzheimers is a scary, progressive, degenerative disease. Alice ruminates that being branded with the big "A" is worse than being diagnosed with cancer, because with cancer you have a chance of winning the battle. There is something obscene about Alzheimers, how it robs you of yourself, your memories, your being. Still Alice is powerful because it is written from the perspective of someone who is diagnosed young, whom is still at the top of their game, so to speak. I think Alice's children have a nice character arc to them, but I am a bit lukewarm about her husband John. I think that is how it is meant to be, the ebb and flow of relationships as a loved one slips away and life still continues on.

This almost reminds me of reading a book by Mitch Albom. Not a book that you will place high on the big L literary shelf, but one that has meaning, and evokes an emotional response from the reader. Contemplating a degenerative disease is down right sobering. Scary. A potential that is hard to take beyond the initial stages of acknowledging it's existence and how it can unfold over time. Diagnoses like Alzeimers rob one of their innocence, and all the lives that this person touches.

I feel melancholic and reflective having read this book, I think we will have an interesting discussion at book club about it. I feel a little sad, and I think of the women I know whom have had and have Alzheimers. I feel for them, for their families. I think of my Uncle Roy (my grandfather's brother) and my Auntie Kittie, whom passed away a few years back from complications arising from Alzeimers. My Uncle Roy used to visit her all the time in the hospital, and he told me that even though she wasn't his wife anymore, she was his girlfriend now, and he found comfort in that. What do you say? Are there words? It is just so important to reach out.

This book affirms my position on trying to live without regrets, living life to the fullest, and speaking truths, a little carpe diem thrown in for good measure. You can never afford kids, you can never afford to travel, you can never afford to take time off and do the things that are important. Then again, you can't afford not to do these things. To weigh matters, and then go back to the first comment, and live without regrets by making your peace with your decisions.

This is a good book, a touching book, one that is hard to ignore. It is a fast read, a poignant one, and an important one.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

You win some... you take some back to the library

Over the years, there have been a few literary greats I just couldn't get in to. I tried, really I did, and with some of them, a few times. A few examples are: the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Henry Miller's work , War and Peace, She's Come Undone, a PD James novel (really recently) and seemingly the majority of Margaret Atwood's books.

I gave it the old college try with Never Let Me Go. I couldn't get in to it. I read some reviews (love that big book seller website with lots of feedback) and it does sound like it deals with a profound, relevant topic (human cloning, the book was written shortly after Dolly was cloned in the UK) but it wasn't happening for me. I have read hundreds, nay thousands of books and it always surprises me when I come across one that I stumble through in the beginning and just cannot get myself up to reading. Where I look at the book, and find housecleaning to do instead of diving in between the pages.

I liken it to how you tend to at least like or be indifferent to most people you meet. About 2% of the folks out there, you will just not like on sight, and the feeling is usually mutual. (Weird tidbit I learned in a conference a few years ago). Well, it wasn't that this book was poorly written (it isn't) but I just couldn't work the will up to continue it. I asked myself - do I need to work this hard to enjoy reading? And the answer was an easy no, especially since I had Ian Rankin's latest novel lined up.

This is another perk about being friendly with the library again. It makes taking risks with books painless. Oh well, I didn't like this novel so I took it back early.

I am just about done The Complaints, and although I miss reading about the somewhat crotchety Rebus, I have enjoyed this newest offering. Amazing that you can blitz through 300 pages in a few days that you enjoy, and cover about 20 pages in that time of a book you can't be fussed by. Next up, Still Alice.

On the same vein, Brandon and I have been picking out kid's books at a rapid pace. We are not winning the battle. It is amazing how many terrible, boring, uninteresting kids books there are out there! Once again, nice to be able to take out a bunch of books, and when you are done, take them back!