Saturday, September 24, 2011

Twenty-Four Hours and Counting

At roughly this time tomorrow, my mom will be taking me to the ferry so I can make my way to the Vancouver Airport and from there to Ireland.

I was planning on have a small series of Irish themed posts to put up while I was away so I wouldn't feel guilty about not posting while on holidays.

Sadly, the posts were a case of too much time.

I originally started researching the Irish history ones back in June. I was going to make short narrated videos (and even did a couple of cartoon drawings). Realising I wouldn't be able to make my original target date, I pushed the posts back to my trip.

In the ensuing three months, I collected almost a thousand pages worth of typed notes. Just notes! In short, I have enough information to write a book. (Don't go getting any ideas, mom.)

About three weeks ago, I went to edit my notes into some sort of narrative...

...I'm still editing...

...and I just got to Cromwell. (That's roughly 1650... so, you know, another 350 years to go through. There's just an uprising in 1798, the famine, an uprising in 1916, a civil war, independence for 26 of the 32 counties, another civil war, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and the Peace Process to cover... easy peasy!)

It took me until Thursday to realise that I'm not going to make my goal. I was holding out some ridiculous hope that I'd wake up and find it all pre-written and the video laid out and I'd just have to edit them (I was planning on three of them) and that would be that.

As a result I'll try pop in once or twice while I'm away but there will be no pre-planned posts. (And I make no promises that my other posts won't just be "STILL ALIVE! HAVING FUN!")

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall TV Viewing

While finally breaking down and watching Alex O'Loughlin's abs Hawaii Five-0 last night, I had a very pleasant surprise.


Okay, the actor's name is Terry O'Quinn, but he played a very memorable character on the hit TV show LOST called 'John Locke'. (The previous sentence is only included for my mom. I'm going to assume the other three of you have watched LOST.) We already had Daniel Dae Kim on Hawaii Five-0; how long before Jack and Sawyer show up?

I'm sure this is old news to anyone who keeps up with pop culture, but I've been doing less and less of that lately so this was an honest to goodness surprise for me. Along with the surprise that there was actually very little ab action in this episode.


Guess I'll just have to troll the Internet for that.

That's what I was hoping to see! Still, there were a lot of close up of his eyes in that episode so I can't complain too much.

Happy Wednesday to me!

Sorry, what was this post about again?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

At Least Bow Ties Are Still Cool*

I had that moment.

You know, that moment when you realise exactly how old you are.

I’m not deluding myself and thinking that I’m still some young spring chicken who can party until 4am, sleep for three hours and still get up for work at 8am (um, not that I ever did that, any former employers who may be reading this), but I don’t think of 31 as old. Older, yes. But not old.

Then I attended an Alumni Band practice on Thursday night.

There were slim pickings in the Alto Sax section: me, Mike and a quiet girl who answered every question I threw at her but didn’t say much in general. (My apologies; out of all the questions I asked her, I forgot to ask her name.)

She had graduated just the previous June. I did a quick mental calculation in my head: grad’ed when she was 18 in 2011... she was born in 1993. I started high school that year.

This was my grade eight school bus.

We continue to make small talk as we sight-read the first Alto Sax music. Mike and I tell her our grad years (1996 and 1998 respectively) to which she just says ‘wow’.  As the night wears on (and I wear her down) she opens up a bit more and comments on a few of the pieces we’re playing.

Eventually we come to a medley that most of us have been itching to play because it’s a piece of music Mr. Wilson got years ago for a fun audience interactive piece. It contains a couple of dance songs from the late 80’s and early 90’s as well as Y.M.C.A. As Mike said, it was like being at a high school dance all over again.

Yes, I'm talking about this Y.M.C.A. song.

As we wait to begin the piece, the girl leans over and points to a section of the piece that has words we’re supposed to say.

“What song is that?”

I read the words exactly as they show on the page.

“Whoomp! There it is.”

Her face is completely blank as she looks at me.

“Whoomp! There it is,” I repeat, this time saying it as it’s said in the chorus of the song.

She blinks. I feel like the Danny Butterman character in Hot Fuzz: “You’ve never seen Bad Boys II?”

“Don’t you know ‘Whoomp! There it is’?”

She shakes her head.

“You don’t know ‘Whoomp! There it is’?” I am in complete disbelief that someone younger than me doesn’t know this song and before I know what I’m doing, I’m rapping the whole first verse to this girl who was born the year the song came out.

I get to the repetitive chorus and look at her, hoping for some sign of recognition. All I get is a giggle.

“I’ve never heard it but your rapping is good...” her voice trails off and she giggles again.

And that, my friends, is what getting old feels like.


I guess I'll just have to take it back to old school cuz I'm an old fool who's so cool.

*That's a Doctor Who reference in the title. You know, just so we all know exactly how cool I am.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Things I Think Are Awesome: Part Two

Part two of no segues has arrived. (There will also be no segways. We've been over this.)

1. This Photo

For those of you born without the geek chromosome (oh, how boring your life must be), that's Nathan Fillion, Felicity Day, Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Anthony Head all in the same photo! On top of that, the photo was taken in the house of Joss Whedon!!

Throw in a Wil Wheaton, and I would have stolen a car and driven to that party... three days late, but whatever.

2. Sleeping masks
At some point this summer, I noticed that I was waking up really early regardless of what time I went to bed. I started sleeping with a shirt strategically placed across the top half of my head and noticed a huge difference. After a conversation with my mom, I got one of their free-from-a-plane-trip sleeping mask and it's love. Well, lust.

I've noticed that it's much easier to fall asleep and when I wake up, I've actually slept the whole night. I'm waking up at 7:00am (without an alarm clock!) feeling completely refreshed. I'm also not waking up through out the night because of various street noises. I'm attributing this to the fact that I'm reaching REM sooner and staying in it longer because the light from the outside streetlamp is no longer affecting my sleep patterns.

Of course, I'm not a scientist, so this could all just be mumbo-jumbo bulldroppings.

But it sounds impressive, right?

The only downside is that the cheep sleeping mask can occasionally get a little hot and sweaty. An upgrade to a higher calibre of mask is on the horizon (although I'll stick with this one for now).

3. Fernwood Village

I felt it was time I threw a little love at my little corner of Victoria. It's a funky area to live in and I don't always give it the props it deserves. When I first moved to Fernwood in 2003, the NRG was pretty much a non-entity,  the George and Dragon Pub was the site of the worst service I had ever experienced in my life (and I was spat on by a waitress in Paris, so, you know, the G&D was pretty crappy), the dark square and questionable 'residents' meant I never walked through the area at night, and the largest building sat boarded up.

I would tell people I lived in Fernwood and I could see that look in their eye.

Flash forward five years and I'm back into the neighbourhood. The NRG is a sizable organisation which has bought and developed the Cornerstone Building (which houses the awesome Cornerstone Cafe), all available building space has been taken up by independent, locally owned businesses, the Fernwood Inn is actually a decent pub with decent service(!!), and the more questionable residents have been 'encouraged' to vacate, leaving behind the fun, funky artist and Bohemian types who make this neighbourhood so awesome.

As a community, we came together for a day and painted the poles. How awesome is that?
The Cornerstone Building is hiding in the background.

From the annual FernFest to small street parties, Fernwood really is about making the neighbourhood a neighbourhood. It's impossible to walk around the area without meeting someone you know from random conversations in  the cafe, the pub, or one of the restaurants.

I'm so glad I moved back to the area and got to give it another chance. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

PS. One of the people who makes Fernwood awesome, is Terry.

4. TARDIS Cat scratcher

Doctor Who!


Together at last!

My mind = blown!

Okay, so it's not really the first time they've been together. In fact, if google is anything to go by, most Doctor Who fans must also be cat-owners. But my mind is still blown!

Tip of the Catnip to THR for sending this my way. More pictures can be found here.

5. Bakingdom

I woke up to find this announcement on the Bakingdom facebook place:

I pretty much had to sweep up my mind so it could be re-blown.

Fingers crossed she finds a way to make this happen!

6. Munro's Books

In anticipation of possibly going to Guinea next year, I wandered into Chapter's to peruse their French section. I had two goals while I was in there: 1) create a mental list of the type of French books I'd like to take to the school, and 2) check out the selection of sewing books to gauge if there's any with lots of pictures and very little writing.

While the children's section in french took up a decent chunk of space, it was the same eight books over and over and over and over. Okay, so perhaps there were more than eight, but the point is that there was a lot of repetition.

I mentally noted a couple of books and then headed out to Munro's. It will never cease to amaze me that a book a book store that would take up less than half of one floor of our three story Chapters building has a better book selection. Not only did they have more options for children's books in french, they also had an adult section in French, German, Italian and Spanish.

When it comes time to actually think about ordering these books seriously, you'll find me at Munro's (or Bolen's, love them too).

Also, Chapters, you kinda suck. But that's a different post.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Storytime Sunday: September 11th

There's no proper story today, just my memories.

Ten years ago today, my mom and stepdad were supposed to fly to New York for my step-cousin's wedding on the weekend. The phone had started ringing very early that morning and when my mom woke me up, I assumed it was to say 'good bye'. Never, in my wildest imaginings would I have thought of what I saw that day.

I laughed when I watched the TV. Not because I was happy about it, not because I found any actual humour in it but because I laugh when I'm nervous and this made me very, very nervous. I watched the second plane hit. I just kept shaking my head; "this can't be real, this can't be real."

Two cousins, bothers, on my dad's side work in Manhattan. When I finally came to terms with the fact that this really was happening, my next thought went to them. Were they at work? Were their buildings affected? It would be almost 48 hours before my dad would get word from his sister. I had never felt time move so slowly.

At work that day, I ended up comforting an American woman who was freaking out. She had come up with her sister who was visiting from Germany. The US border was only allowing American citizens to cross the border. What was she going to do? She couldn't leave her sister whose English was very rudimentary but she had a 15 year old daughter at home in Bellingham. It was the first time she had ever left her daughter home alone. I was torn between wanting to tell her everything would be okay and wanting to scream at her "I have family in New York and I don't know where they are!" Screaming back at someone rarely solves anything, so I told her everything would be okay.

We got her and her sister a hotel room, and we were able to put her in touch with her daughter and her neighbours who said they'd let the daughter stay with them until she got back. When all was said and done, she looked at me with tired eyes.

"I can't imagine what people with family in New York are going through right now."

"We're waiting to hear about our loved ones; hoping for the best, mentally preparing ourselves for the worst."

Her eyes got really big as she realised that I had family in New York. She pulled me into a bear hug and I could feel her body shake as she sobbed a couple of times.

"I'm sure they're going to be okay," she whispered in my ear before she stepped back. She and her sister disappeared into the crowd in the Inner Harbour.

When she came back three days later to thank us for our kindness, I was not at work. I wish I had been there so I could tell her that my cousins were okay.

While much of that day passed in a fog, if I ever passed that woman on the street I'd recognize her in a heartbeat. I can't help but wonder what she's doing today.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Things I Think Are Awesome: Part One

I’ve seen these lists posts on other blogs so I decided to do one here... mostly because I really don’t know how to segue through all the things I want to talk about. Although normally I think a well-crafted segue is awesome.

Not segways, though. They kinda suck.

(The only good thing to come from segways was G.O.B.)

1. Stir It Up

I wanted to give some love to a new-to-me restaurant in Fernwood, Stir It Up. I was finally enticed into trying the restaurant one day after smelling of their delicious food. It's Jamaican and Caribbean food. Sadly, the kitchen is very small and does not allow for prep in the space so some of the items are premade and then reheated but it tasted so delicious, I got over that very quickly.

[Photo from their site]

It is cash only so hit up the ATM before you go (there's one across the street at the Fernwood Inn, so, you know...) and you either need to go on a sunny day when you can sit outside or get take out as the inside has about two 'cozy' seats. Meals run about $10.


So, this webcomic is something that I always love but I was a little enamoured with this particular comic:

[Permanently borrowed from XKCD]

I know I may get some haters but based on the people I know who attend Burning Man, I have come to decision that the majority of attendees are socially obnoxious d-bags. Also, based on the number of stories those same people have told me about cheating or being cheated on at Burning Man, they're d-bags who can't stay faithful so... yeah...

3. THR

This falls into the list of things I always love but THR (who is also crafty) is back from her trip Down Under to see her family and she linked up to a great link of free organization tools. I thought it was so awesome, I decided it needed to be shared over here too. She linked to some crafty person who also had links to fee name tags/crafty items. The part I liked most is here. It's all free and all cute. What's not to love?

4. Star Trek (TOS)

Thanks to Darla over at Bakingdom (that girl is seriously talented and you should all have her in your reader even if only to look at the pretty pictures of things you'll never make... like me!) I learned that today is the 45th anniversary of the airing of very first episode of Star Trek.

I don't know if you guys have noticed but I am a huge nerd! I watched every single episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation growing up. I read a couple of the books (which I would only read at home so I wouldn't accidentally be caught with one by a 'cool' kid and mercilessly mocked for) and even dressed up as Counselor Troi for Halloween one year.

I dyed my hair black with one of those 'one wash' dyes and then I curled it.
The curls were gone in about 30 minutes (stupid poker straight hair) and
I was still washing the black dye out two weeks later. One wash my *ss!

I was a late-comer to The Original Series (called  TOS by those 'in the know' aka geeks) only starting to watch it about five years ago. I love it. Some day, when I meet my sugar daddy (so, you know, never), I plan to buy the entire series on DVD because I'm nerdy awesome like that.

Back to Darla's awesomeness. Also being of the geek-persuasion, Darla made these awesome TOS sugar cookies.
[Credit: shamelessly stolen from Bakingdom]

Seeing them in my reader this morning made my heart go pitter-patter! Also, she insinuated she was going to make some Firefly baked goods so that's my day made.

Captain Mal in edible form? If you insist!

So, those are some things I think are awesome right now. I have more to talk about but a) I have a lunch meeting I have to get to and b) The Guild isn't going to watch itself in the next 20 minutes before I have to leave, so, you know...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Storytime Sunday: The House

I stand at the road and stare at the building trying to reconcile it with the one from my childhood. It's just a non-descript house in a row of non-descript houses crawling slowly up the hill towards the church. Was that all it ever was? I ponder as I watch a lazy bumblebee loop-to-loop its way to the geraniums standing sentry along the front of the house.
The world stops. Even the breeze has disappeared. The unusually sunny sky paints the house but it's just a facade on the depressing stucco walls. Flecks of gray paint commit suicide from the front door overhang revealing the old pale blue underneath. Like a line of marching ants, four doorbells stretch along the doorframe. I can't help but think to when there used to be only one.
The moment is broken as I feel the breeze on my cheek.
An ad for Skysports whispers out the window defeating the lace curtain’s attempt to hide life from the outside world. The whisper reaches the church bells and they answer in dulcet tones: it’s one o’clock and we don’t want Skysports.
The roar of life comes from the road and the bumblebee takes off.
You can never go home again.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shoot for the Moon. Earth's Gravitational Pull Will Prevent You From Obtaining Orbit But Maybe You'll Land Somewhere Interesting.

After a fabulous weekend in Nanaimo during which we visited Gabriola for the Theatre Festival, played a total of 11 games of rummy (so, roughly 100 hands), drank a few bottles of wine, drank a few gallons of tea, and discovered I had injured myself, the rest of Summer has flown by.
Did you know it's September 1st today?

I know!

I realised that out of all my plans for the summer, very few of them actually happened but I'm okay with that.

Camping plans fell through at the last minute. Hiking plans never happened due to something else happening pretty much every weekend. Travel to Vancouver and Seattle never materialised for the same reason. I did a lot of running but conflicting schedules and then injury stopped my goal of four-times-a-week.

I did get to catch up with some old friends at Shawnigan. I sat in the gardens at Government House and read a good book. I had multiple BBQs with awesome people. I verbally committed to going to Guinea in December 2012 and teaching the Kubian village ladies to sew school uniforms.

Wait, what?

Yeah, you read that right. But don't worry, go back and reread it just to make sure. I'll wait.

Through the magic of links, I'll remind you of the time I said:
5) MoonDance is talking about going back to Guinea for another dance/drum intensive learning holiday in 2012. Actually, Lynn suggested it a few years ago and then later said it wasn't a firm plan. Tonight Erin and I decided that we're just going to talk about it like it's happening because then it will. So, I'm totally going to Guinea in 2012. You heard it here first.
Erin and I were (sort of) joking but it worked. Moondance is going to Guinea in 2012 for dance and drum lessons. (While I have verbally committed to doing this, I will refrain from saying I'm actually going until I can sit down and do some accounting math and planning.)

Moondance is very closely related to Matoto as Matoto was born out of Moondance's last trip to Guinea. At at working bee last week, we were discussing our school in Kubian which will begin teaching students this October! (very excited about that) when the topic of school uniforms came up. I remembered a project in Tanzania where the local women were taught to sew the uniforms which in turn gave the additional income to the mostly single women.

Why can't we do that?

Except we need someone who sews.

And that, my friends, is how I ended up verbally committing to going to Guinea.

(Actually, I told them that if I am able to make the trip to Guinea, I would teach sewing but that the *if* is quite substantial at this time. They gave me a 'uh-huh' look which clearly states they expect me to fully make it happen. I do, after all , have 15 months to get it sorted.)

Something else I need to get sorted out in that time? French.

Guinea's only offical language is French. While I know that many of our teachers will have some English and many of my fellow travellers will have some French, I'd like to be able to do most of the teaching with as little translation as possible. In other words, I should have started learning French yesterday.

I'm nothing if not ambitious... and slightly crazy.

Mostly crazy.