Sunday, July 19, 2009

Principles of the 30km Speed Zone

I recently heard a tidbit on morals and ethics that intrigued me...that, as a society, as parents, we have the choice to raise our children so that different aspects are emphasized and focused on. Intelligence is highly important for many parents...they focus on giving their children every opportunity to learn, to excel, pushing them to become skilled at thinking.

But in the long run, high intelligence isn't going to take your child all that far when it relates to happiness. Happiness equates to moral values, principles, and honorable mention.

It's more important to raise children who can find their footing in principles and morals. Rather than raising a child to be a person who goes 30km in the school zone because they don't want to get a ticket for speeding, we should be raising children to become people who go 30km in the school zone because there might be children around.

Baby Einstein probably won't be as happy as Baby Morality when adulthood hits if he doesnt't strong morals to match. There is pure personal satisfaction that results when the decisions we make aren't self-serving...when our thoughts flow first to the care and consideration of others rather than into the realm of "what's in it for me" or "what is my punishment if i don't...".

I'm in no way saying that smart people aren't happy...only that it's time we learned the distinction between what's important and what's not.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stories Are For Mystery

Quote by Robert Hellenga, from his book "The Italian Lover":

"At the corner of every good story there's a mystery that can't be explained. If you could explain it, you wouldn't need a story. Stories are for the things you can't explain. If you stick to that, everything else will take care of itself. Don't be afraid to break all the rules, and don't be afraid to follow them either."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Thinkx, also known as the "Productive Thinking" model, is a step by step process used to produce creative ideas or to solve problems. I've always been interested in "thinking models", used some of them for a while, but never been disciplined enough to find out how effective they might be.

There are six steps to Thinkx, which was developed by Tim Hurson, a Canadian speaker and author.

Step One: What's Going On? I think i find step one to be the most difficult. There are five mini-steps that you need to follow:

  1. What's the itch? Come up with a list of opportunities or problems, then look for commonality and patterns to determine one main issue.
  2. What's the impact? Take a closer look at the issue and determine how it affects me.
  3. What's the information? Look at all angles of the opportunity or problem.
  4. Who's involved? Me...and?
  5. What's the vision? What would change if the problem were solved or the opportunity realized?
Step Two: What's the Success? This second step is all about seeing the future with everything resolved, much like the first step, only in more depth. Think of using a tool called D.R.I.V.E.
  • Do - what do i want the solved problem or the realized opportunity, to do.
  • Restrictions - what don't i want the solved problem or the realized opportunity, to do.
  • Investment - what resources can be invested.
  • Values - what values do i need to live by.
  • Essential outcomes - what are they.
Step Three: What's the Question? Another challenging part of Thinkx...turn the challenge into a question. Come up with as many questions as possible about the opportunity or problem. Combine and group these questions and come up with one question, or a few, that are the most stimulating.

Step Four: Generate Answers by Brainstorming. Come up with a list of possible solutions to the problem or to make the opportunity a reality. Choose one of these solutions for further development, or a combine several.

Step Five: Forge the Solution. Once again a tool is used for this step...P.O.W.E.R.
  • Positives - list what's good about the answer.
  • Objections - what's bad about the answer.
  • What else? - think of things the solution reminds me of.
  • Enhancements - how can i make what's good about the answer, even better.
  • Remedies - take the list of what's bad and find ways to make things better.
Step Six: Align Resources. Here i take the thoughtout solution to my problem or opportunity and put it into a plan of action. I need to make "to-do lists".
  • Give myself timelines and milestones.
  • Make lists of people i need to involve i this.
  • Make lists of issues that will need more work.
Think it might work?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Golden Lucca

We're so excited about visiting Lucca...the history, the art, the beauty....and of course Giurlani Forno Alimentari, the oldest bakery in Lucca, to taste the aniseed-flavoured Buccellato...because i'm all about pastry and coffee anytime, anywhere.

Enjoy the link to the following webpage....Golden Lucca

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gelati Monastery

Several years ago i longed to go to wander through Tbilisi, to see the Black Sea, to take a tour through ancient monasteries. The recent military conflict with Russia has put Gerogia on the travel advisory list...but some time in the future i still want to get there, just so i can see the Gelati Monastery. The monastery is located in Western Georgia near began in the late 10th century and was completed in 1106 when it was founded by King David the Builder.

I love its majestic the haunting aura it projects. Perhaps one day....

(photo borrowed from fotopedia)

Friday, July 10, 2009

In Admiration of the Anonymous Blog

I frequently think of the advantages and benefits of having an anonymous blog. You know, the blog no one knows you have.

I could be anyone i wanted. Perhaps with an exotic name, like Isabella.

I could write about my love life, or lack of love life...and no one would raise their eyebrows in shock or smile in sympathy.

I could complain profusely about my job, my employer, my underpaid i am, how overworked i am, how stressed i feel, how i long to hand in a resignation letter.

I could gossip about my friends... without speculation and wonder...they would never know if i was or wasn't writing about them.

Just think of the things i could write about. My life, yours, theirs.

And all i would be, would be just Isabella, just another anonymous blogger...there to entertain you for a little while.

But i don't have enough time in my day to keep this blog updated. I already suffer from mental deterioration on an almost daily basis. dear Isabella....another time, another place, another blog.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

End of Philanthropy

Before you read this, let me start by saying that a) there is probably more to this story than i've read, b) it could be the doctor has a legitimate point, and c) i am extremely biased about issues such as this. I already feel we live in a failing society, where every person seems to be out for themselves at the expense of everyone and anyone else.

The story goes like this: in 2006 a Montreal doctor by the name of Mr Henry Coopersmith (i refuse to use the salutation "Dr"), on his way to Paris for a short vacation with his wife, was asked to attend to a lady having an anxiety attack. He did....took a nap...and was woken up and requested to fill out the proper medical forms.

Sounds like something anyone would do, even if they weren't a doctor, right? Apparently Coopersmith thought much more highly of his practice of billing for service than providing that service with any philanthropic thought. He contacted Air Canada and requested that he be compensated for his medical service with two free executive class tickets, a total of about $3,058.00. Air Canada refused. Coopersmith sued.

The judge in small claims court awarded Coopersmith $1,000.00 for services go on the free tickets though, the judge deemed that request an exaggeration as Coopersmith still made it to Paris.

Now here comes the part where i could be considered a hard-nosed, biased, judgmental bitch. But i expect you to, if you're someone with medical knowledge, to step up to the plate in any situation where you might be needed. If we can't rely on our fellow man to assist us when circumstance requires it, what does that make us? Should you be paid for that service? Let me think about much do you already make as a physican? Are you NOT flying executive class to Paris while the rest of us are crammed back here in seats that have been modified to increase passenger count capacity?

The reality for me is....not all things we do for others are billable as "service". There has to come a time in everyone's life where they do for others simply because they can. As human beings we have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other to assist, to aid, to make life that much better when we can.

I can understand a bottle of wine from Air Canada. A thank you letter. Three columns in all national and international papers extolling your virtues as a thoughtful, considerate, caring doctor. But money? Free airline tickets?

Nope. Mr. are damn lucky your case didn't go to trial and even more lucky that i wouldn't have been sitting on the jury.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Curse of the Squirrels

During last winter i decided that it would be a cute thing to feed peanuts to the local squirrels...four black ones and two adorable gray ones. So yes, it was cute. They would frolic all over the balcony, amusing me, agitating the cats. Oh, how adorable it was when they would peer through the balcony doors when there were no nuts set out for them. Often they battled it out with the blue jays, which is probably why they resorted to hiding the excess of nuts i treated them the dirt of old plant pots. Industrious, i thought...and though they made a huge mess of the balcony, i knew it would all end in the spring when i stopped spoiling them.

Now that summer is here, and i have new plants in new pots with new dirt, i want to sign those squirrels up for the Squirrel Family for Relocation Program. The little buggers insist in digging in the pots, tossing dirt up and out and everywhere...and there are NO NUTS!! Do they have memory loss? There hasn't been a peanut on the balcony for months now.

This mess is messing with my sense of order and my need for organization. I look out onto the balcony and i love the table and chairs i have there...the climbing clematis, the lilies, the geranium...and then i see the tossed up dirt.

I need to take some deep breaths and think how cute it still is that they come to visit. But....long-tailed idgets....there are NO PEANUTS!

Monday, July 6, 2009

An Aperitif Named Pirlo

When i research for my upcoming trip to Tuscany i inevitably read about the foods and drinks i'll soon get to indulge in once i get there. My recent discovery is Pirlo, an Italian aperitif.

Well, first of all, i'm not all that familiar with just what an aperitif is. Aha...

Aperitif = an alcoholic drink savored before a meal with the intent of stimulating the appetite. Not to be confused with a digestif, which is served after the meal.

The Pirlo is an aperitif that is a blend of white wine (usually Prosecco), Campari, and seltzer (soda water). Back to web surfing to satisfy curiosity about Prosecco and Campari.

Prosecco = a sparkling, dry Italian wine made from the prosecco grape, which is grown in the Veneto area of Italy. This wine is supposed to be (we'll see when we get to Italy) bubbly and lemon tasting, and is often used in the Bellini Cocktail.

Campari = created by Gaspare Campari in the 1860s with the intent of being used in Campari's bottled cocktails. Campari is equal parts alcohol, sugar, and distilled water...then infused with citrus, rhubarb, and herbs. Apparently the question, "What are these herbs?" can't be answered....herbs remain a secret ingredient. Seriously, i'm not making that part up.

So there you have it. The Pirlo.

Of course my dad most likely thinks of Andrea Pirlo instead of the aperitif. Andrea is an Italian fussball player who is good enough to have been to the FIFA World Cup.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Okanagan Summer

I ran home for three days, home to the safety of parental attention. It was a nice lazy...hazy...dozzy.

We took a drive out to Fintry Landing.....

....admired dandelion puffs....which failed to whisk us away on an adventure but still make me dream.....

....admired my parent's roses....

.....and finally captured a camera-shy hummingbird.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Procrastination = Chocolate

Constant themes for me, at least lately, have been procrastination and negativity. I'm a master at both. So perhaps i should be embracing these two wonderful traits and blending them together.

"The Wonderful Virtues of Negativity and Procrastination"

  • Procrastination enhances my negativity. High levels of negativity increase the level of my procrastination and depending on the degree allow me to accomplish minor tasks or, if there has been a lot of negativity enhancement, absolutely nothing at all.
  • Procrastination allows me to research websites on how to increase my productivity. Though i often makes notes on stimulating productivity, procrastination allows me to quickly ignore these notes, leading to an onrush of the finest negativity.
  • Negativity allows me to feel a) so utterly sorry for myself that any and all productivity is wiped out by procrastination, or b) like a martyr as i slog through tasks i have procrastinated and now must do or die.
  • Perhaps the best negativity/procrastination blend is the ability to feel so absolutely crappy about everything that only the finest chocolate will improve the situation.
So...really...procrastination and negativity are wonderful things if the end result is chocolate.

I was right all along to embrace these amazing traits in myself.

Monday, June 29, 2009

I Am a Digital Fiddler

I've often written about my great ability to procrastinate when it comes to sitting down and writing something of quality. In fact, i think i'm so great at procrastination that i should be considered an absolute genius.

My original plan today was that, after dinner, i would write some intelligent posting here. But instead i found myself browsing around the Internet and wasting precious time.

Ah.. low and behold i come upon a perfectly intelligent posting...but it's not on my blog...nope.

The article is titled "How to Stop Digital Fiddling and Start Writing".

Eureka! I've found myself...the true writing inactivity has been documented and i can no longer hide from my procrastination. So what, exactly, is digital fiddling and do i really have it?

  1. Do i avoid writing by reading my e-mail? Better believe it.
  2. Do i check my blog stats? Well, no...but i do check to see how well my cat Lillian is doing in the Top Animal Twitterer contest. And then i go back to check e-mail again.
  3. Do i tune my blog to make it visually more appealing? Well, sometimes. Or i'll change my Twitter background, or add a new application on Facebook. And then check Lillian's stats again. And one more quick look at one of my three e-mail addresses to make sure nothing new has come in that i really should attend to.
  4. Do i surf the Internet? Absolutely. And with my coming trip to Tuscany, i heartily justify this surfing...after all, i need to do my travel research, don't i? I know i could make specific time for this travel research...but once i get started i can't stop and so i happily flit here and there.
  5. Do i focus on social networking? Certainly....i have to maintain my social image on Facebook and Twitter...and then i have to make time to comment on the blogs that i regularly read.
Is it any wonder that i NEVER get anything done?? I am...most definitely...a Digital Fiddler of the worst kind.

Good thing the article goes on to suggest ways to stop fiddling and start writing, the first suggestion being to disconnect my computer from the Internet. Seriously? The article says that at first it will feel strange, but shutting off the computer is the only way i can re-connect with myself. I get that concept.

Next, i should turn off all the programs that i'm not using to write with. This would leave either Open Office or Microsoft Word the only place i can no chance of time wasting.

The last suggestion to stop digitally fiddling is to....write the first sentence. Which i know holds a lot of power. Which i rarely utilize.

Now that my identified problem of procrastination has been disected and much easier will it be for me to stop all this fiddling and stand up, pay attention, write write and write?

Note to many more Monday mornings like today do you want to have as you trudge to work?

You can ready the full article on Digital Fiddling here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mammogram Sunday

Seriously, they are now booking mammograms in Vancouver for Sunday appointments. What better way to spend a Sunday morning than waking up early for an 8:00am appointment? At least it's done for another year. And the technician was nice enough to keep me distracted by telling me all about the homemade poultice she had made out of wholewheat bread for an infection she'd had on her leg.

Onward at noon for an optometrist appointment to have my eyes dilated and check eye health. I could start to like Sunday appointments since it means i don't have to take time off work to get things checked and probed.

The rest of the day was lazy...went for lemon gelatto...finished a book, started another one.

Perhaps the most interesting thing i got out of this day, besides the information about wholewheat poulices, came from my own father. Who is now also on the bandwagon that is pushing me towards publishing my writing and making a "decent living out of it, not getting rich".

Though rich would be nice...the decent living will do. The ability to be here in Vancouver with Caitlin for as long as i wanted...then traveling to Kelowna to spend time with my parents and friends...then down to SF to see my sister, my favourite and only brotherinlaw, and Toadie nephew...then off to Paris for a week of strolling and sitting in cafes...then...then....

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Away We Go

Went to the 12 noon showing of "Away We Go"...which was ridiculously cute and thought provoking at the same time.

"A couple who is expecting their first child travel around the U.S. in order to find a perfect place to start their family. Along the way, they have misadventures and find fresh connections with an assortment of relatives and old friends who just might help them discover "home" on their own terms for the first time."

Go see this one if you go see's well worth it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Writing With Censors

Censorship has always been a big issue for me. I firmly believe that we all have the right, no matter who we are or where we live, to read what we want. And of course this makes me a firm believer that we all have the right to write what we want, without censors of any kind. So what censors are holding me back?

My current focus for getting published is children's literature. I'm a kid at's easy for me to make up characters and stories in my head and bring them into reality. I've always given voices and lives to stuffed creatures. What i seem to lack is the honest to goodness discipline to get published, but i've discussed that topic before and it's not the focus of this posting.

The point of this posting is that i often feel i'm writing with censors when it comes to some of the writing i post here as well as the non-children's writing i hope to publish one day.

One of the authors i greatly admire for her style of writing is Ali Smith. When i read her books, i'm reading myself. That is the way i want my first adult fiction book to flow. Her books are filled with sentences that would never pass a grammatical exam. "The Accidental" was the first Smith book i read...and i was blown away to find an author that put words down on the page in such a similar way to my own style.

So why have i never progressed deep enough with my own writing to get close to publication? The censoring of words, the censoring of thoughts....these things hold me back.

Sure...i get it...that style of writing...but will any publisher "get it" enough to say sure, let's go with this one. I'm a cynic, a procrastinator, a disparager, a doubter. My fiction is reflected in these characteristics. I'm also a romantic, an anticipator, a dreamer...traits that are also reflected in what i write.

I would love to get to the point where i can write without censors and not worry about anything else but being able to publish what i "get" whether anyone else will ever get close to getting there.

My biggest problem is that when i read back what i might have spent hours seems too steeped in poetical metaphors...or too honest...or too close to make me think it's any good. I don't need to discover myself at this point in my life. The issue is....though i know who i am, how i think, that i'm stubborn, and eccentric, and think off the grid....i lack the confidence to present that person to the world through my writing.

Reality check: what better way though, to remain hidden behind a wall that lacks confidence, than through the written word?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Power of Negativity

I've been thinking a lot about negativity and how much power it has, how all-consuming it can be.

I don't think i used to be as negative as i am today...i'm sure i wasn't. Regardless, i'm trying to be conscious of negative thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Awareness isn't always easy i picked two quotes that make sense to me:

"Negativity is an addiction to the bleak shadow that lingers around every human form ... you can transfigure negativity by turning it toward the light of your soul."
~~ John Donohue

"The cycle of God, the good, is broken by a single act of negativity. The cycle of negativity is stopped by choosing the good -- not just once, but again and again until it is goodness that prevails in your life and in our world altogether. "
~~ John Morton

Monday, June 22, 2009


When my sister was here a couple of weeks ago...she brought this most amazing chocolate with her...Valrhona...deep, dark, rich...perfect with a cup of coffee.

This wonderful chocolatier is based in Tain l’Hermitage, France. We indulged in the dark chocolate...and it wasn't around for very long...not a day, not an hour...minutes.

Indulgence #2: Wine from the Lang vineyard in the Okanagan. The Pinot Gris was crisp, clear, and highly refreshing at the end of a hot day in Vancouver.

The Marechal Foch brought on some speechlessness on my part...relaxing, soothing, sloooow and deep.

It was great to find two great wines from home...the Okanagan doesn't get enough credit for the fantastic wines they produce.

(photocredit West Coast Wine)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Heart in Europe

I have always seen myself as living in a villa in France, a hillside town in Spain, a small city in Germany. And now perhaps, in Tuscany. It really doesn't matter where, the point is that i have always seen myself there.

The books i read when i was barely in my teens set the stage for my wanting to live somewhere other than where i was living...suburbia in Canada.

My European parents and the culture they brought from Germany made me long to go there. And when i did, only ten years old, i feel in love with everything European...fresh bread every morning, bustling streets while just around the corner i could some find some old church that demanded a hush of reverence, the smell of coffee wafting out of small cafes. Put me over there...and i'm in heaven.

I try to duplicate the "European feel" here in Vancouver but something is always missing. My memories of my travels over the ocean are my constant reminder of what i should be doing, need to do.

Dream image: Living part time in Paris.

Reality work: get those cover letters for editors written.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Proposal

Spent the afternoon in the theatre watching "The Proposal" with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.

Cute and fun. A no brainer...and of course Mr. Reynolds is quite easy on the eyes. A fellow Canadian too.

Recommended when you want to believe in the power of love and attraction.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Little Italian "pick me up"

Tiramisu translates from Italian to "pick me up" perhaps the Italian women are in need of some uplifting divine dessert after a meal...or when having coffee...or even for breakfast. Now that would be ideal.

I always thought of Tiramisu as being some classic Italian sweet that has been around for a hundred years...but that's not so at all. While the research varies, the consensus is that Tiramisu was invented in the 1970's in the northern region of a town called Treviso, which is just a short distance from Venice.

The main ingredients of this sweet include Mascarpone cheese, Espresso coffee, Savoiardi cookies (we know them as Ladyfingers), and Zabaglione cream. Every ingredient on its own is yummy...together they melt in your mouth and have always been a favourite dessert of mine.

Needless to say i'll be sampling a piece or two of Tiramisu while i'm in Italy. And oh yes, you have to know that i have a list started of the foods and drinks i'm going to indulge in while on vacation in September. List to be posted in its entirety at a later time.

(photo borrowed from the Citrus Blog)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Flourishing Clematis

Amazing...the way the clematis on my balcony is winding its tendrils around the railing, adapting to the unnaturalness of my un-garden garden, making the most of what it has to work with and flourishing despite its inability to be root deep in unbound soil.

Me...i'm not nearly as adaptable nor do i flourish in situations that aren't ideal for my sense of protection.

I'm easily flustered, as i grow older...easily knocked out of the protective sphere i usually surround myself with when not in the safety of my home. I have to think about change when it happens and talk severely with myself, tell myself that change is growth and growth takes courage...and then i often think of Winnie the Pooh and how he dealt with the "things"...

“You find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

.....and i totally relate to my great desire to just hide away and not take chances....hide my "things".

It was once easy to believe that i was fearless.

But i suspected i wasn't and proved it to myself when i went alone to Paris a couple of years ago. Although it was a great trip, and i would go alone again, i was forced to face multiple fears and anxieties. You spend two weeks alone in a foreign country without speaking a word of French and you're sure to grab the horns of any fearful beast and deal with it.

I came back from Paris no longer hmming and hawing about some of the things i MIGHT be afraid of. I adapted, i admitted, i understood...and most of the time i still remember to understand.

The reason for this posting...self talk perhaps. I'm not flourishing where i am today, doing what i'm doing. I feel uncreative, stifled, down trodden. And oh yeah...look at the years on that age clock...going up all the time...hello Monica...

I need to make some changes, smart changes. Like that balcony adapting clematis...i need to take what i've been given, acknowledge it...and flourish. Time to let the writing muse take over and believe in what she can do...and that what she can do will sustain me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuscany Apartment Booked

After the relief of the flights being booked....comes the relief of the apartment being found, booked...ours.

Go take a our Florence apartment.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Reading Muse is on Vacation

I am going through a reading dry spell...which i very much detest. Every once in a while i just can't seem to focus on anything long enough to grab my interest and continue. This is the time when i have to reach for a "non-thinking" book to get the wheels and the words and the paragraphs flowing.

However, that philosophy isn't working this time....and i've attempted to read three books now....with no success at all.

Perhaps my mind is deep in Tuscany. Dreaming of walking in the autumn sun, indulging in coffees and chocolates and pastas.

Or perhaps my mind was so focused on my family visiting last week and the excitement of their arrival kept me from reading.

And perhaps now it's that i'm feeling sad and out of sorts that my family is gone again to their own corners of the world and i'm left here without them. And then my daughter, my link to feeling connected, disappears to Vancouver Island for her own little adventure.

Another attempt...i'll give this mystery a try, see if it boosts me into reading mode: A Necessary End by Peter Robinson.

Friday, June 12, 2009

All Things Decadent

Once again i forget how lucky i am to live in Vancouver...a city that has everything...a city that is famous for its reputation of a laid-back and easy lifestyle along the Pacific coast.

Having my family here for the last parents from Kelowna and my sister and wee nephew from San Francisco...has gotten me out more than usual.

Today, being their last day here, we ventured over to English Bay and Stanley Park.

After walking along the seawall we ate dinner along Denman Street, stopping to take home some Cookies by George.

And who can resist cupcakes from Cupcakes! Blue Hawaii coconut, Lemon Drop, Caramella, and a mini Sweet 16 vanilla.

A finish to the day watching the sun start to set over English Bay. With a bold reminder of why i love living here so much and why i really should get out more.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Domaine Tempier 2007 Bandol Rosé

I have at last tasted my Bandol rosé ...the bottle i sought out over a year ago while visiting my sister in San Francisco. Bandol didn't disappoint, and that $60 US dollar bottle of wine was everything i had painted it in my mind to be....smooth, rich, easy.

More please...yes please.

After reading the book "Alice Waters and Chez Panisse" not only was i fascinated with the foodie revolution that was instigated by Alice Waters, i also became fascinated with her restaurant, Chez Panisse, and her addiction to Bandol rosé.

I have yet, even after numerous trips to San Francisco, to dine at Chez Panisse, but i long for the day when i'm able to sit down and indulge in one of the week night dinner eat what is local, what is simple, and what has been simply transformed into something magnificent.

For instance, this would have been tonight's offering:

Thursday, June 11 $75
Grilled asparagus with breadcrumbs, garden lettuces, and farm egg
California sea bass a la plancha with all-i-oli
Roasted Red Wattle heritage pork loin with glazed Chino Ranch turnips, greens and fava beans
Pluot ice cream pavlova with peaches and berries

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Baby Beluga

It's been years since i've been to the Vancouver Aquarium...and having my family visit for a week was the perfect excuse for a trip to see the water creatures. Even more of a reason was the birth of the latest baby beluga on Sunday, June 7th at 3.39 pm.

It was crowded and noisy and full of elementary school age children...everyone wanting to get a look at the new baby....and what a thrill it was when i was able to watch her swim beside her mama, Aurora. And just as exciting to finally get a decent picture of the two of them.

Yes, i know....wild animals, whales no less, in captivity. And here in Vancouver...we hold these belugas captive, away from where they long to be. But hopefully the few in capitivity bring a greater good for those in the ocean.

Right now there is a 24 hour watch on the baby beluga, to be sure she and Aurora have a secure nursing pattern established...and to be sure they bond.

I'm a sucker for any baby i'm glad we planned this day...and i was able to see this little baby beluga.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tranquil Summerness

Those lazy days of summer are here, before summer officially makes its appearance on the calendar. Waking to the chattering and chirping of birds, that feeling of anticipation before you get out of bed, of another sun-filled day. Walking like a hamster around the track is made that much easier when the morning sun is claiming the day. The air smells different, bright and fresh, full of promise.

I’m reminded of living in Kelowna …summers when Caitlin was little…such languid days we would have…easy…”tranquil” might be a good way to describe those days and that time. Days like this take me back there…the heat, the smell of the air, the aroma of flowers and plants.

I also remember some amazing summer days I spent with my mom when I was young. I know all those days were different and culminate in the memories I have of that time…but in particular I remember the two of us hanging the laundry on the clothes line to dry, feeling the coolness of sheets and shirts against my face as I wove my way in and out and around the hanging laundry. Exploring the yard with her, looking at the flowers…those glorious Sweet Williams she would plant, filling the rock garden, so many colours. Lying on the grass on our backs, looking at the clouds, making stories out of shapes of white puffs. Those are precious days to me, days that have always been with me in one way or another in all the summers since that time. I think I have my mother to thank for this feeling of “tranquil summerness” that comes over me on days like this.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons I can’t wait to take her to Tuscany …autumn sun and lazy days.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Want to be the Girl With the Most Cake...But I'll Share...

There is always great enthusiasm to travel to Europe, or down to San Francisco to visit my sister, but there is also my enduring enthusiasm for all foods when i particular for coffee, chocolate, and sweet things...ALL sweet things.

Already i am plotting and planning and preparing for the epicuran and gourmand delights of Italy...

Such as a visit to Gaetano ba pasticceria in Firenze (Florence). How can you not be enticed by their pastries and cakes??

And what about Patrizio Cosi? How can anyone not lose themselves multiple times...surrounded by these pastries?

(photo credit: I Dolci di Patrizio Cosi Pasticceria)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

American Psycho

I'm stuggling my way through "American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis, struggling being the key word here...and it's slowing me down from getting to all the other waiting books.

Perhaps having seen the movie first, years ago, is part of the problem. Or perhaps just recently having finished a rather psychologically violent book is the reason i'm paging it through this book.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Psst...I've Got a Secret

The most adorable little toadie boy is arriving here at the end of next week.

He'll wear his Prince Toad crown, and crawl all around.

He'll take more steps, and fall boomze to the ground.

But he's brave and he's fearless,

Prince Toad will rise up quite tearless.

Hip hip hooray for our toadie!

(illustration by Ruth Palmer)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tuscany Becomes Reality

My mama and i have booked our flights to Italy. And this is when, for me, a trip actually becomes a reality. When i've bought the ticket and sold my soul to the airlines.

I'm excited about this trip for so many reasons. It's been a long time since my mom and i have had a vacation together like this, although my recent Easter trip with my family was a bit of a good tease.

So now the search is on for an apartment to rent, what sights we can't miss...and of course a list of cafes in ANY city or town i MIGHT find myself in.

As i search here and there for information for our trip there are always websites i want to share with my mom. And e-mailing links to my mom can be frustrating (sorry mama). So an ideal way will be to insert information here...with a quick link. Easy access.

Like this one....for the Lucca Wall...a small city with a strong Roman imprint.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Vancouver Greenness Reaches Global Audience

It didn't take me long, while searching for something "green-like" to post on our intranet at work, to stumble onto this North Carolina green advocacy group called "The Charlotte Green Team". At first i was just impressed with their blog design...gorgeously green...wonderful navigation from page to page. But what makes this blog mentionable is that there, right under the "news" tab, was our very own Vancouver in an article titled, "Vancouver's Greenest City Action Team Releases Recommendations".

Apparently Vancouver has a goal that i've yet to hear or read about: to become the greenest city in the world by 2020.

The article on the blog was originally written for an online news site based out of Seattle. And someone way down there in North Carolina deemed it worthy of mention. So there should be some pride here...that we live in a city whose initiative is being recognized beyond our own Canadian borders.

There are 44 recommendations to enhance and promote greenness in Vancouver. My personal favourite is edible landscaping: recommendation for a policy where a miniumum amount of the trees and plants on city owned property be edible. This would include herbs, fruit, nuts, edible flowers, nuts, and berries.

If you live in Vancouver...or not...the Vancouver recommendations are definitely worth a look. Followed by an attempt to get involved, which is easy as it pulls you in and makes you proud to be a Vancouverite...or some other ite of somewhere else.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Actively Seeking Publisher...Finally

I'm now ready to look for children's book publishers. I finally have two pieces that i feel are ready to be submitted. Off they'll go to await sentencing, their fate out of my hands, their creator.

I've been writing for so many years that i usually forget, or just brush aside, my dream of actually being published. There's that little voice in my head that tells me i'm not good enough, that no one would or could want to publish something i wrote and put my name underneath the title. And too many years of "ghostwriting" haven't helped either. I'm so used to writing and sending to someone else to get the credit that i've assumed it's just going to be forever.

Perhaps the good thing is that i really like these two pieces i've written... "Liam and the Valentine Thief" and "Liam and the Easter Rose". Maybe i'll post them here sometime soon....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Last Days" Worth the Time?

I'm reading a book about crime by Brian Evenson...about a cult following of amputees who classify themselves as a one, a six, an eight...depending on how many amputations they have. More notoriety given to large amputations such as legs and arms. I bought the book based on a reader review. And i thought i should branch out and try something a bit different. Well, i got it. I would give up reading this book but a) i bought it, b) its a slim book, and c) author has won some awards. I'll see if this worth my time.

I think it would be interesting to write a thesis or article on why people choose the books they do.

update: Finished reading odd book...Bizarre beginning, middle, and end. I can't even begin to fathom a moral, an ethic, a definitive plot for this book. But i did finish it. Excerpt from book:

And this, he realizes, is only the best possible outcome. In all probability it will be much worse. The hatchet will strike wrong and he will have to strike a second time. He will wooze and fall before cauterizing the wound and then lie on the floor bleeding to death from the wound. The guards will catch him at the gate and kill him. Or even worse, all will go well, the arm coming smoothly off, but Borchert, smiling, will say "Very good, Mr. Kline. But why stop there? What shall we cut off next?'

He raises the cleaver high. His whole life is waiting for him. He only needs to bring the cleaver down for it to begin.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tilford Park

For some reason I rarely think of posting about this amazing city that I live in. Time after time Vancouver is featured in international magazines. This is an awe-filled place to reside. And I think I take it for granted. I'm certain I do.


Caitlin and I went out for lunch and then down to Tilford Park, which is hidden here on the North Shore beside Starbucks and other local stores.

There are eight separate small theme parks here, all connecting together: The rose, oriental, and white gardens. The rock pool and native garden. And the herb, display, and colonade gardens.

It was a nice, sunny May day. So we wandered through the park, took a few pictures, and sat in the sun for a few minutes.....

...and I told Caitlin the story of the bleeding heart...which I told her so often when she was little as we had a pink bleeding heart plant right by our front door.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Time Has Wings

Oh...look...another couple of months between blog postings. There has just been no time to find to write anything here. The real job, the on-the-side writing job, trip down to San Francisco for my darling nephew's first birthday, the need to read...time consuming but a great time.

Perhaps the most exciting news is that I've got the okay from my supervisor to book my trip to Italy. I was a bit nervous about requesting because I needed to ask for an additional five or six days off without pay. I've used far too many vacation days this year...much different from the last two where I missed out on a lot of time off because there was no one to take over my job for me. But I'm deserving, I work hard and now it's time to play.

So mama and I can really plan. First up is finding not only reasonably priced flights to Florence from Vancouver, but a flight that is as stress-free as possible. If it looks good cost-wise, the connecting flight is too soon to allow for anything but smooth flying with NOTHING hindering everything being on time.

If the connecting flight makes us feel okay's TOO much time that we're waiting. But at least the search is on...and we can book. And once I have those e-tickets in my little all becomes reality.

Planning is ecstasy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Top Contributor

Although perhaps a small honour, it's still an honour and makes me feel like I at least accomplish something in all my wasted time. I was invited to be a top contributor on the Chapters Bookstore online community website...probably because I write as many book reviews as I do and not because my reviews are in any way outstanding. I also review on a new site, which deserves some mention here as I've already found several books to add to my to-be-read list. Flashlight Worthy has lists of books, take your pick, there's something there for you to read.

And of course there's my profile on Good Reads where I list the current books being read, and rate and review the ones that I've finished reading.

Book obsessed? Definitely. But hopefully in a nice way.

I'm a firm believer that everyone, absolutely eveyone should read. And has the right to read whatever they want...romance, biographies, all counts.

My own daughter was read to long before she emerged, 2.5 weeks late, into this world. She has been surrounded by books since birth, and except for a portion of her teens when you couldn't get her to talk to you in a normal fashion never mind read, she's back at it.

And now I have a new adorable, 10-month old nephew...who already loves books, and whose personal library I find it one of my bookish delights to keep well stocked. So now I'm obsessed with children's book reviews.

Yes, just another distraction to keep me from writing something worthwhile.

To honour one more person's Dr.Seuss' birthday today...1904.

Happy Birthday, Mr.Seuss.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Should I Hire That Personal Coach?

Because I certainly think I could use one. I’ve reached this point in my life where there are a few things I haven’t accomplished, that I would really like to see through to being a reality.

I have, in the past, written several articles on personal and business coaching. And always thought, as I was writing, how perhaps I should consider the possibility. But I’ve never pursued that thought any further.

One stumbling block being the money. When you’re not gushing in money it’s hard to justify paying someone to motivate you and help get your life back on the tracks. I always just flamboozle myself by saying “oh, just read some motivational articles and you’ll get it”.

Have I gotten it? Nope.

Second stumbling block: Will I find the right coach for me?

There are a lot of coaches out there. How do I choose? Someone locally so I actually see them? Or one by phone, two or three sessions to guide me with my choices in life so I get results?

Or…do I just call my sister…and then my mother…and then my strong and amazing friend Alice…go over my life goals with them, have them tell me that I CAN do all that and more??

My problem is that I’m stuck in this space and frustrated with being stuck and don’t know how to break through some of the barriers in my way. I finally have localized my dreams and goals and know what I want to do. And my timeline for reaching that point where I am living those dreams and goals is three years. Short time line, but one thing I don’t need any coach tell me is that I NEED to give myself deadlines…or it all flat lines and nothing gets done. And where I once would beat myself up when things didn’t get accomplished, I now can quite nicely get into a Zen state where it really doesn’t matter…I’m cool with it…yeah, whatever, next time I’ll try harder.

Rhonda Britten, the founder of the Fearless Living Institute.and a life coach for over 12 years, says that most clients are between 35 to 55 years of age and “at a crossroads, must make a decision and is sick of choosing out of safety and fear."

Understood. Many of my decisions are made out of fear for my financial security, such as my current ghostwriting project that forces me to write quality articles at the speed of a demon looking for that next tower of fire, articles that I would love to use for myself. I write so much in one week I barely have time to focus on anything else. But I keep telling myself it’s a short-term contract and the end result is a padded savings account that makes me feel secure every time I check the balance.

But is this a good decision for me? It’s definitely taking time away from writing my own articles that I NEED to write in order to prove my worth as a freelance writer.

Time management and procrastination. If I had to pin down two of the issues that prevent me from getting things accomplished, those would be it. I am unable to time manage. At work, at the job that I go to five days a week to pay the bills, I manage well. I’m getting paid by someone to do a job. It all falls apart when I get home. I need to make myself really understand that what I want, to write full time, is just as important and deserves to have quality time expended on it.

If procrastination were an art, I would have perfected it. If you fall into the procrastination category, you get it, and I don’t need to elaborate on it. If you’re not a procrastinator, you’ll never get it. To you, all us procrastinators are just a bunch of lazy time wasters. Reluctantly agreed.

I will seriously make the time this weekend to talk to myself about coaching, about how much I want to write and get paid for it, with no other jobs on the side that zap my energy.

Another motivating quote by Rhonda Britten, “Intention is living in the present, actively choosing the future while being aware that in each moment your state of mind is up to you”.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Freedom to Read

The week of February 22 to February 28 is the 25th annual Freedom to Read Week in Canada. Taking part in some way, no matter how small, is the perfect way to take a stand against censorship in this country. We each have the freedom of choice to read what we want…and we have no right to tell anyone else what not to read.

Some people were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. I was born with a golden book in my hands. Literature has been a part of my life long before I could ever read the words on the page. But I understood stories…my brother and I would climb into our parent’s bed and plead with our father to tell us a story. Which he did…spoken not in English but in German…fairy tales that stick with me to this day. My love of words was endless and has never been satisfied.

I don’t remember how old I was when I got my first public library card. But I do remember everything about that library. The location, the front door, the check-out desk at the back, the aisles…and exactly where the “Blue Fairy Book” by Andrew Lang sat on the shelf in the corner.

After all that, present to me the idea that books are actually banned…and I’m outraged. Oh I can understand why certain books are challenged and banned. I can understand why some parent may take offense to reading Maurice Sendak’s “In the Night Kitchen ”not because Mickey is baked into a cake but because he’s illustrated in three of those amazing pictures without any clothes on. Yes, naked toddlers are a threat to society. I get that. So don’t read this book to your child. Just don’t tell me I can’t. I read my own daughter this book and I’ve noticed she has no lingering effect after seeing Mickey naked. Yet Sendak’s book continually shows up on the list of challenged books.

And don’t think that censorship and book banning is becoming any less of an occurrence. The Toronto District School Board is currently reviewing Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” after a parent complained that their child in grade 12 was reading the book in class. One single complaint that the book “has foul language, anti-Christian overtones, violence, and sexual degradation”. Atwood’s book often makes the challenged list yet is one of the most celebrated books by one of Canada’s most respected novelists and poets. It will be interesting to see what the Toronto District School Board does with this high profile complaint.

And one last comment, though it pains me to go there since I spend a fortune in this store and now need to re-evaluate my shopping plans in order to take a stand…Indigo Books. In July of 2006 you couldn’t find a copy of the June/July issue of the U.S. published magazine “Free Inquiry” at Indigo. Indigo’s senior vice president for procurement, Joel Silver, said that the missing edition of “Free Inquiry” was an oversight and Indigo would indeed sell the issue. However Tom Flynn, the editor of “Free Inquiry” had a little more to add. Earlier that week he had been told that Indigo wouldn’t be stocking the June/July issue…no reason offered. And that in the future, Indigo would examine future issues to see if it was suitable for sale in Canada.

The real reason for the non-appearance of the June/July issue? Blatant censorship. An essay within its covers by a Princeton professor Peter Singer titled, “The Freedom to Ridicule Religion-and Deny the Holocaust”. Which I encourage you to link to here and read for yourself. Personally….I liked what Singer had to say in his essay: “Freedom of speech is important, and it must include the freedom to say what everyone else believes to be false, and even what many people take to be offensive”.

And now go check out the Challenged Books List and pick up something controversial to read.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Story of Johnny Head-In-Air

As he trudg'd along to school,
It was always Johnny's rule
To be looking at the sky,
And the clouds that floated by;
But what just before him lay,
In his way,
Johnny never thought about;
So that every one cried out -
"Look at little Johnny there,
Little Johnny Head-In-Air!"
My mornings are on the sacred side. I don’t actually leave for work until just after 8, yet I like to get up at 6am. Go through the morning rituals…and have time for a cup of coffee in front of the computer. Sometimes I write…and lately that’s been happening a lot since I’ve got a ghostwriting job which, though it pays quite well and is ongoing for a couple more months, is very time consuming.

But sometimes, like this morning, I browse through a few of the blogs I follow. While reading one today, I had that “aha” moment, that brought back good memories of blogging. In my WP days, about two years ago, I would compose posts in my head as I walked or drove. I was always looking for something to write about…something of interest. I have to admit that my postings were often about personal nonsense however, when I looked back over the entire blog before shutting it down, there were some good entries there.

Writing is either in your soul…or it isn’t. And blogging is just another way to let the muse out. Before blogs became all the rage, writers wrote on paper…in diaries, on scraps of paper, in notebooks. Unless you handed someone your notebook and said, “here, read please”, your writing remained extremely private. Then along comes this incredible application…the blog. And suddenly…you can write…and others can read…or not, and you never have to see their facial expressions if they don’t get it, or they get it and disagree.

And even more satisfying is that you can click on your own little space on the Internet…and see your words. Your very own words. Your corner of the world where your creativity exists. I believe that when it comes to many of things I write, I’m a narcissist. I like to see the shape of letters…forming my thoughts…trailing along the page…weaving a tapestry into which is woven pieces of me.

I’m already falling back into that pattern of composing words in my head. Like "Hans Guck-in-die-Luft" …a German folktale by Heinrich Hoffman, where Hans walks while day dreaming and looking into the clouds, falling off the end of the pier in to the water, where ravenous fish are waiting to devour him.


Wenn der Hans zur Schule ging,
Stets sein Blick am Himmel hing.
Nach den Dächern, Wolken, Schwalben
Schaut er aufwärts allenthalben:
Vor die eignen Füße dicht,
Ja, da sah der Bursche nicht,
Also daß ein jeder ruft:
"Seht den Hans Guck-in-die-Luft !"

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ellipsis Obsessed ...

It’s true. If you’ve ever received an e-mail from me…or poetry. Or something written…you know how I often I use an ellipsis. I think my style of writing could be used to identify me in the event of an untimely disappearance.

“Aha….this one uses an ellipsis a total of nine times in just six sentences…must be her!”

I just happen to think that the ellipsis is the most important punctuation symbol we have.


From the Greek…a series of marks that indicate an intentional omission of phrase or word. Can also be used to finish off an unfinished thought, or at the end of a sentence, trailing off into silence.

Between sentences, three dots are used (…). At the end of a sentence the three dots should be followed by a period, for a total of four dots (….).

It got more complicated as I was reading the definition, all these rules and regulations for using dots...and I realized I’m not going to change the unofficial way I write anyway…so I’ll stick with my pattern.

I do love using ellipses…what a great way to fly along as you write…dipping and dotting without worrying about punctuation.

Dear Punctuation People,
I’m sorry I take liberty with the English language. I can write nice and grammatically and punctuationially precise when I have to. The ellipsis is one of my sources of rebellion. I have so few rebellious outlets in life. Please allow me this one indiscretion….

Sincerely and ellipsically yours.