Monday, April 30, 2007

Lions and Tigers and Bears

Yesterday, we went to the zoo. We managed to get there in time for the lion and tiger feeding. Hmmm... interesting experience considering I don't eat red meat myself. This is papa lion, who gets hand fed like a baby.

Check out the size of his paw:

We rented pedal bikes and ripped around on the little dirt pathways. Wheee! Definitely the way to go. When we stopped at the Arctic Wolves for our picnic lunch they howled melodically in unison. Owwooowooowhoooooo. Mesmerizing!

And a few other favourite shots:

Watching this motionless camel was pure meditation. Alice the camel has three humps.

My Favourite Photograph

This was once my favourite photograph: Fruit Flag of a Flavourful Nation

Friday, April 27, 2007

Ghostbuster Construction Pirates

Yesterday it rained grey and wet. And the news scrolling across the tv in the elevator wasn't too bright and cheerful either. I left for lunch feeling a bit low, looking at the cement as my feet swerved yet another splash and dash.

Then out of the corner of my eye I see a large blur of steely indigo blue. Three burly men, dressed identically in blue overalls and steel-toed boots, stride towards me swiftly, strongly, and silently like a band of determined pirates looking for their loot.

Also like Ghostbusters - minus out Proton Gun mobile particle accelerators, add in sledgehammers and keychains. I blurt out laughing, wide-eyed and stunned, and then try to get out of their freight train way.

I wish I had a video camera with me - it was the quintessential movie moment, with tough men walking side by side in slow motion (ah, but minus the slow motion) down the runway before jetting off on another adventure. Think Top Gun, Apollo 13, and Men In Black.

Smee, the short and stocky bald ghostbuster construction pirate I will name after the jovial assistant to Captain Hook, smiled back as I told him they looked like ghostbuster pirates. I think I made his day.

He definitely made mine.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


A twelve-year-old boy sends his cheetah back to the wild, and in doing so, leaves home and kinda gets lost on the African savanna. So goes Duma, the movie I was watching with my younger son.

He asks me if the boy is lost.

Yes, I answer.

He instantly bursts into tears so heart-wrenching that he has to hide his head in his favourite blanket. Storm clouds erupt showers down his cheeks and he climbs onto my lap.

From that moment on, the movie is sad and scary to him. He cries more than once, each time snuggling deeper and deeper into my arms - a second security blanket.

At one point in the movie, we see Mom searching for her son. Run out and find her, my son screams out. Then cries again when the two don't connect.

This is too sad, I want to go to bed, he says.

I tell him he has to stay up to see the happy ending. And he does. And it is.

I love being a Mom. I love being so important to my boys that the thought of being lost without me is scarier than lions and hyenas and crocodiles and elephants and hippopotamuses and tse tse flies.

But then, I feel the same way about them.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Feelings, nothing more than feelings

My older son asked if I wanted to be a problogger, and stay at home and write on my blog about, get this,...."feelings."

It said it with the intonation of an 8 year old - "Ew, you touched a giirrrl."

Not only that, he went on: "Do you want to be a prologger, and stay at home and write on your blog about feeeliinnnggs, and hope that maybe someday someone might care enough to one day like it?"

Man, you gotta love kids. Share the love brother, share the love.

Oh, and by the way, he has decided he wants me to call him Paris, not older son.

Just Paris.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Skies are not cloudy all day

e.e. cummings: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.

A few days ago I heard that my dad's mild heart attack in February was actually something much more serious than we expected. In fact, his artery is 80% clogged and he needs surgery, fast. Thankfully, he is being looked after promptly and already has an appointment to meet with his surgeon.

I grew up in a house that was always full of laughter. My dad was one of those guys that liked to sneak up on my mom and tickle her from behind. (Guys just love the soapy-handed vulnerable woman who won't fight back with a thin wet wine glass.) He also liked to sing home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play. He taught me to have fun, help out, try my best, and above anything else, he taught me to be positive in life. Basic stuff, I admit.

But in times like these, when it is so easy to despair, I find I have a tendency to not worry. I keep at it, do what needs to be done, focus on what is important, and have a few laughs as well. And I sing. And tell everyone that things will be just fine. Then perhaps add a few more notes of laughter. In fact, I often find I laugh more the crazier life gets - a ying and a yang thing. "Ha ha ha, this is nuts, ha ha ha, what a day, wheee ha."

I believe positive thought is more powerful than negative thought. So for you Dad, today I am moving about doing the basic stuff. Having a few laughs and sending my energy back to you, home, home on the range, where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Good Earth

I often find it ironic that we bought a house to own a piece of land. My husband and I are not landscapers. Nor are we gardeners. Nor are we the type to pay someone to be landscapers or gardeners on our behalf.

We sometimes throw a blanket on top of our grass / moss / weed and enjoy a summer picnic. Sometimes we play a short game of soccer or mini golf or badminton. Once a year we pitch the tent and try to sleep with the ever present sounds of the urban forest in the background. But mostly we have a bit of land to hold the house and support the trees.

My point? We are horrific landowners, barely managing to keep our yard from retreating back into the infamous Canadian wilderness of poetic lore - despite many polite and welcome attempts by family and neighbours to help us out (your gifts of flowers and dirt and herbs are always welcome).

But last night.....ahhhh, last night, we were not just landowners, we were passionate farmers in love with the rich soil in our possession. We felt the dirt, moved the dirt, tasted the dirt.

We also butchered the weeds, tamed the surviving few blades of spring grass with our mighty push-mower, and chartered new territory in the herb garden we abandoned five years ago. We grabbed firmly onto our shovels and dug deep into the depths of our compost, where brown organic egg shells dappled new soil the colour of deepest Africa and contraband Cuban cigars.

We planted plants we forgot to plant last year. And the year before.

We rescued our rhubarb stalks and blueberry bushes from the barbarians at the gate. Damn those weeds.

We became one with worms, spiders, wood bugs, beetles, and millions of microorganisms that I thankfully couldn't see.

And then, light fading fast to almost dark, the rewards of working the good earth - dirty fingernails, muddy boots, sweaty backs, and that feeling that you are part of something a bit bigger. Something a bit more primal. Something to celebrate with a nice glass of Pinot Noir. Or two.

It was a good night for getting grounded.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Just remember to breathe

I love people that embrace the notion of self improvement and don't just take life as it is dealt. For instance, my friend Faye is challenging her fear of heights, which after a year is now just a manageable irritant, and my friend Janice is learning to swim. I love her description:

"The class starts, and the 'warm-up' assignment is to swim eight lengths, "freestyle". Yikes! Well, you can't get much more freestyle than my style, aka survival swimming. Others in the class are happy and calmly doing lengths, Jos and I are thrashing about in the slow lane, with me gasping for breath and making horrible sinking noises and gulping down lots of water. The good news - it can only get better. And it did, even in the short hour that we had in the pool. I left feeling refreshed and excited to try again. As I keep telling people (and myself) "If I can just remember to breathe, I'll be OK." Kind of crucial, I know, but good advice for life in general, really."

Yes, we will all be okay, we just need to remember to breathe.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bubbles (not the trailer park version)

A friend sent me this peaceful link. Don't blow away.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Oh Manfrotto

I have a new love in my love. He is long legged and rugged. Dark and handsome. Definitely the silent type. A bit on the heavy side, but oh, how that weight makes him sturdy.

Meet manfrotto. My new tripod.

I was introduced to him by my photography instructor, who instilled in me the importance of never starting a relationship with any other tripod. Manfrotto may cost a bit more, but he is loyal to the end and won't break down when you need him the most.

Last night, manfrotto and I snuck out together - our first tryst after dark. Such a bad girl I was.

We parked by the ocean and walked along the beach in the dark. I held onto him as tight as I could. He didn't mind (he is made of high-tech carbon fiber after all.)

We set up on a flat patch of grass. Lovers walked by looking at us funny, but I didn't care.

I won't reveal all the details, but let's just say that after an hour of trying a few different positions and pressing a lot of buttons, I was pretty darn satisfied.

My Favourite Photo

This photo of my neighbour will forever be one of my favourites. He is a kind man with an aging house. In my mind, the two are inseparable.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Oui, Nunavut, our home and native land

Nunavut means "our land" in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit. A few months ago I met a few aboriginal people from Nunavut, and they gave me a map of their land. It is a diverse place, full of raw fjords, remote waterways, and isolation.

I love that the map is in four different languages - english, french, and inuit, in two different forms.

I grabbed these samples from a Nunavut website. I think it is a beautiful written language (I don't know what this says though):

ᓄᓇᕗᑦ -- "ᓄᓇᕗᑦ" ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖓᑎᑐᑦ -- ᐃᓄᖕᓂᑦ ᐊᑯᓐᓂ ᐊᕐᕋᒍᒐᓴᒪᕆᖕᓂᒃ ᓄᓇᒋᔭᐅᓯᒪᔪᖅ ᐊᕐᕋᒍᑦ 100 ᐅᖓᑎᒪᕆᐊᓐᓂ ᓄᓇᒋᔭᐅᖃᑕᕐᓯᒪᔪᖅ ᐃᓄᖕᓂᑦ. ᑎᒍᒥᐊᕐᖢᑎᒃ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᑐᖃᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᐊᒪᓗ ᓄᑕᓐᓂᒃ ᐃᖃᓇᐃᔭᕈᑎᓐᓂᒃ ᓱᕐᓗ ᖃᕆᑕᐅᔭᑯᕈᑎᓐᓂᒃ, ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ᒐᕙᒪᖓ ᐊᑦᔨᒋᖏᑐᓐᓂᒃ ᐱᓕᕆᑎᑎᔪᓇᕐᓯᔪᑦ ᐃᑲᔪᑎᓐᓂᒃ ᐊᕿᒃᓯᒪᔪᓄᑦ ᓄᓇᕗᒥᐅᓄᑦ ᐅᓐᓄᕐᑎᒋᔪᓄᑦ 29,500.

Nunavut -- "ovagut nunakpun " taimatun Inuktitut okaohitun - taimali aihimavioyok tapkonoga Inuiknun 1000 okioni taimalo eglagani Kanata agmegaituni 100ni okioni. Egkitlogik tamakni Eglitkuhitlo eglihimayaitlo taimalo annigiyauyutlo taimalo notan oktuktahaat pignagialakihimayait algoyatigut ematun itton Hilakut toyotigiplogitlo,Kavamaat Nunavutmi hatya pignagialakitmatigik tavogagalok ikayutihaitigut agtunihaitigutlo agtungagahualikiyauhimakmata etkoniahimayan 29,000 iglokaktunut.

Oui, this is Canada too. I can't wait to visit!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

This Is Why I'm Rich

I'm not rich. I just thought you might like to read my older son's latest attempt at being just like Wierd Al Yankovich. Check it out and pass it on!

Fly Naked

I am one of those people that keeps my dictionary handy. And my thesaurus. And my style guides. I have three dictionaries that I use regularly, and now, I just might have four.

I was recently introduced to the urban dictionary. If you can read it without paying attention to the swear words and derogatory remarks, it is kinda interesting.

For example, I just read about the term Fly Naked, which means to fly somewhere with the bare-minimum of belongings, and purchase the rest where you are.

"Aren't you going to pack for Thailand?"
"No, I'm going to fly naked."

Funny, I was just chatting with the grrls about that earlier today. How one day I am going to rebel from this urban lifestyle and just fly, fly away into Neverland. My husband and I are going to be flip-flop wearing nomadic travellers and live happily ever after in a world of pirates, treehouses, mermaid's lagoons, and teepees. Of course, we fully expect you and the kids to visit us in some remote village in a tropical jungle for a cup of mint tea.

But now... now I am going to turn it up a notch and fly naked. How's that for a happy little thought?

Monday, April 9, 2007

50 Million Bubbles for Breakfast

A friend of mine passed me a copy of Red, White, and Drunk All Over, a book on wine by sommelier Natalie MacLean.

On page 108 Natalie quotes Madame Bollinger: "I drink champagne when I am happy, and when I am sad. Sometimes I drink it when I am alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it - unless I am thirsty."

I am one of those people who politely, but quite happily, sips a flute or two topped with freshly squeezed on Christmas morning. I am also known to have a kir royale when dining en le petite france en burnaby, otherwise known as my brother and sister-in-law's house. Little did I know I was downing 50 million bubbles each glass! According to this little red book, there are 250 million bubbles in a bottle of Dom Perignon.

I kinda like the idea of having 50 million bubbles for breakfast. Perhaps I will try to be more like Madame Bollinger. I could use more happy bubbles inside me.

Further Trials of the Body from Mars

First, there was the nervous nose, then came the well done arm, and last, the sillies packed up and left town. Now, we move down to the feet.

" you know why my big toe hurts?"

"No, I don't."

"Cause one of my toothes is wiggly."

If anyone knows of a cure for these alien invasions, please notify the authorities at once.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Give in and move on

Further to my last post, you know that we have been having a hard time finding the perfect new car for our family activities. So, today we gave in. The good news is that we sold our old too-small car. The bad news is that we sold it as a trade-in for a new pretty-big minivan. Well, new to us. We are no longer a single-car family. We are now a single-minivan family, complete with DVD player, automatic doors, and room to sleep at least two when the "stow-n-go" seats are stowed to go.

As we were finalizing the paperwork this morning, I couldn't help feel sad that my once hip Volkswagen Westfalia, Volvo station wagon, or Jetta life was about to be reduced, uh, I mean expanded, to an eight passenger minivan. Then, I was told an unexpected story that kinda cheered me up.

Jacques, the credit manager at the car lot, has three girls. He also has a minivan. Except, he traded in his beloved Porsche for his family-fun Dodge Caravan. Porsche....for a minivan. Porsche. Minivan. I just about peed myself when he told us.

I guess if he can leave his European engineered lifestyle behind, I can certainly leave my European engineered lifestyle behind too.

As for the younger members of the family, they have died and gone to heaven. All the doodads, gizmos, and gadgets are enough for them to call me "the best mom in the world today."

"Why today?" I ask.

"You didn't buy the van yesterday," was the reply. Earning points with my teenager; not a bad byproduct of the day.

Now, I am sitting here accepting our situation, which means planning our first trip with the new home on wheels (something about sleeping in a van turns my crank, pumps my water, cools my fans, and sparks my plugs - right up there with yurts, tree houses, and houseboats).

Hmmm. Where to go, what seat to stow, what movie to bring? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Why can't we fit 6 people, SCUBA tanks, camping gear, and BMX bikes into a Jetta?

After attending the Auto Show last night I realized that shopping for a new family vehicle is the same as shopping for a new bikini - what you need is always larger and more expensive than what you want.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Absorbing Spring

I place a towel on the weathered wood deck and slide on to my belly like the cobra yoga pose in reverse. My thin socks find a hollow groove between two planks and my head rests nicely on the pillow pocket created by my arms crossed in front of me. Like a shy child, my eyes hide in the nook of my bent elbow, blocking the glare of the early afternoon sun.

Where I lie in the lee of the deck, the wind is blocked by seagrass, still roseless rose bushes, and other coastal branches just budding their first leaves of the season. The still air captures the sun's rays and plants them firmly into my black sweater - two layers beneath, my back defrosts. Heat rises from the wood to warm my belly. I close my eyes.

Waves wash against tidal rocks where mermaid's gloves has drifted ashore. Broken crab legs, caught by a beached log, fade in the dry light. On shore, atop the giant douglas fir, the neighbourhood eagles start their nest.

I am warm, finally.