Thursday, December 29, 2011

I am Not a Hippie

Photo by my Grandfather in the 60s.

I got called a hippie three times this past week.
I am not a hippie.
I am not.
Well, not that I know of.

I'm not entirely sure what makes you a hippie, but I am going to assume that if you are one, you know you're one.

I am not insulted by the remarks at all, I just find them amusing.

I may wear clothes that look similar to what one pairs up with what hippies wear - but that's an insult to them to say that their "lifestyle" and who they are is just clothes. Anyone can wear dress to any culture or subculture.

Although --- peace, love, freedom, and bare feet? I'm cool with that.
(there is one tattoo I want to get - the word "bear" tattooed on my foot, right above the toes)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Photos of Friends Who Look Like Other Friends

These are a collection of photographs of friends of mine who look like other friends.

Robin - Canadian square dancer
Mark - Swiss neighbour
Andrew - exchanger to Thailand
Michael - American square dancer
Eric - known since Kindergaret

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Acoustically Stringed

Instruments played yesterday:

Instrument: Guitar. Ukulele. Fiddle. Baritone Ukulele. Appalachian Dulcimer. Cello.
Owned By: Father. Family. Brandon. Me. Me. Me.

Not in photograph: Piano. Harpsichord. Harp.

Stringed instruments - that's where it's at, yo. Back in the 4th grade (11 years ago) I started up with the cello and do not regret it at all.

The soothing low tones of a cello fill in that range in a jam like how certain spices take certain meals from "meh" to "huzzah!"

Yesterday, Marni came over and I got to jam with her. Oh! The delights. That was something I certainly enjoyed. Later I played on my ownsome. Earlier too. And then I got to play with the Brother Unit which was brilliant.

I like stringed instrumenst. Would I like to be capable of those blowing instruments? Sure. They sound pretty rad. But strings are where my heart's at (and reeds, on the occasion).

The baritone ukulele is my latest toy - bought on a whim on Granville Island (where many whims seem to occur).

I was hanging out in my favourite music shop when a girl checked out a ukulele and then put it back (my attention was at the sitars at this moment). I glanced up and saw a giant ukulele near the concert one she had been holding. Rich colour. Solid build. I asked to play it and loved the tone - not so twangy as its wee cousin-ukes.

The problem with playing the cello is it is not, is not portable. Getting it around makes me nervous (until I have a hard case) and in certain weather, I fear for it's dear life. So I can't get it to jams easily.

The little uke we have is a Martin. 'nought said, can't got taking that one around. I just checked online and apparently, this little guy I've been playing with since I was a toddler is valued at around $2,000. According to Uke Hunt (one of the biggest ukulele sights I've seen on the internet), "Martin ukuleles are probably the most sought after brand of ukulele around."I definitely thought it was a toy. Turns out - not quite. Now I understand why Dad doesn't want me taking it everywhere in a pillowcase.

So, seeing this instrument I could easily play and take places, I was sold. Portable music!

I got a Makala and, have to say, I've been quite pleased. For a budget instrument, it plays pretty beautifully. Up there with the Martin? I doubt most people would hear a huge difference. From my research, sounds like my satisfaction is mutual with what others have thought of them. Of the budget ukuleles, these are some of the best. I'm satisfied to have it added to my string collection. Just ordered a case (tweed to boot!) - once it arrives, I'm set to go.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Britannica Gun - The Band

I was a part of a band - Britannica Gun.

Don't know if I'm still a part of it.
I doubt it.
I don't even think it exists any more.

We had Whitaker, Wesley, Nate, and then me.
Guitar/mandolin, drums, bass, and cello.

Here's some shots from the concert.

Can't say I enjoyed it immensely until I had the audience to keep me company.

Gift Guide on a Budget :: Local, Fair-Trade, Charity, Homemade, Second-Hand, Events

If you're not bothered at all by how consumerism seems to take one hand as we walk towards Christmas...
um, well, I don't know. But I think you ought to be.

I love Christmas, I do...

But Christmas gifts seem to get me in a peculiar way. It seems like so much of the time, we are desperately searching for an item to give someone and end up giving them something they don't need. Being a budget-minded-college-kid (think - cheap, cheap, cheap), spending money on something you don't feel good about can make Christmas gift shopping a drag, and get your mind in all the wrong places.

But there are seven types of gifts I can support and rely on:
local, fair-trade, homemade, second hand, charity, events, and activity inspiring

That's it.
And that's what my gifts have been this year.

Normally, you think of local or fair-trade items being pricey. You would love to get someone something that supports the right people (your neighbors or the people making the product, not the corporation) but you feel you can get more bang for your buck if you go to stores like Target.

Not so!

Trust me, I am cheap cheap cheap! And I find possibilities in both.

Here's what this looks like for me.


Local, for me, tends to become local artists or gift cards to locally owned restaurants (consumable gifts have their place when accompanied by an experience).

Local music artists are fun to support and have a lot to offer. You can often buy from them directly and its definitely a gift that'll be enjoyed (if you can match the tastes of your recipient).

Have you neglected the local baker down the road? The cafe? Now's your chance to support them. Go grab a gift card, encouraging the recipient to explore this new edible experience.

There's also usually craft fairs set up in all communities. While I love these, I tend to strike out in finding gifts that are functional and match the needs of my family and friends - but still, definitely worth checking out.

Fair Trade

Fair trade. Fair trade.
I hope you know how important it is.

Fair trade means the people who do the work get the money they actually deserve and have earned. It means that the hours a man or woman might spend labouring on the item will help them take care of their family.

Good & Fair
Photo by Patricia Chang.

There's all sorts of fair trade options - but one of my favourites is Ten Thousand Villages. I visit the shop over on Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, but they have an online store too.

Ten Thousand Villages has wonderful items even I can afford. Yes, some are pricey, but you just have to do some looking.

This year I'm giving out a few "Serenity Incense Box Sets" to the folks I know that are into that sort of thing. I bought a set for myself and was really pleased. I love lighting up a stick each day in my room to calm things down.

I'm also a huge fan of the "Star Valences" made in Bangladesh. I've got this hanging in my doorway. It's affordable, fun, and perfect for the right person. They're a lot cuter in person, I promise.

Other things I've gotten from this shop are musical instruments (because you can't go wrong with a musical instrument gift in this family).

Next time you need some of the basics (underwear, etc) - try going to Good & Fair (although, I admit they are a bit pricey - it's worth it). They get their cotton from sources where the workers get to work in a safe facitility, have rights, are paid just wages, and their kids get to go to school for free.


This is where I spend most of my money. I like donating money through organizations like World Concern and Love146 in honour of friends instead of giving the friends a physical gift.

With World Concern I can do things like buy a goat or educate a child, and tell my recipient that that's what's happening as their present. I've never had a negative reaction to this. People tend to be really into this.

If you don't know about Love146 - you need to go there now. If you don't know the facts about modern day slavery, you need to educate yourself now.
- 27 million people are enslaved
- Over 1.2 million children are trafficked annually
- Over 100,000 U.S. children are forcefully engaged in prostitution or pornography each year

Just make sure a charity is legit before giving. There are awesome ones that will use your money for what you intend it for and there are others that pay the bosses big wages.


Simple enough. Sew up a cute apron (my mom rocks at doing that) or a fun skirt  or, if you can, knit up a hat.

Sew together a bag.

Bake some treats.

Take some photographs and print them out. Put together an album for them.


My oh my is this a fun one! I've been gettin' second-hand gifts since I can remember (my grandparents are the King and Queen of Garage Sales!).

Garage-sales and thrift shops are the perfect place to find a gift for super cheap. There's an unlimited supply of gag-gifts and actual useful items that have already been owned. So by buying them, you're not adding to the problem of adding more crap tot he world. You're using the stuff that's already there.

Random CD's, tablecloths, kitchen tools, books...

Anything that makes you think of the person.
Like, I got my brother Hans Brinker on VHS for his 24th birthday. Yes. He liked it.

And when an item is only $0.25, I don't even have to think twice before buying it and throwing it under the tree. If they like it, great! If not, they can pass it on to the next truck in the neighbourhood, put it on Freecycle, or donate it at another thrift shop.


I love the gift of an event.
A meal.
A movie.
A concert.
A museum.
A ferry ride.

Do something and make a memory.
Don't just clutter the shelves.

Activity Inspiring

This is one of my favourites for kids.

These can be as simple as craft supplies, games, and musical instruments.
Kids like gifts.
I like giving gifts that they either create with or share with others.


So that's the basic gist of my Christmas gift shopping this year.

Not too expensive - and the recipients aren't just benefiting at the loss of others.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Up On the Hill Top - Future Gazing - Alaska, Maine, Kentucky

Crawled up the hill, looking around Bowen. And this chapter of my life is about to come to a close. In two days, I'll be leaving-leaving-leaving Bowen Island. Then a quarter of community colllege and then...

What? It's decision making time again?

Here's what I've got to decide between.

Alaska. Maine. Kentucky.

And this would be starting in around April or May - after Winter quarter is over.

Alaska and Kentucky are for certain possible. Maine, not sure.

Portland, Maine.
I would be the nanny for three children.
It would rock.
And honestly, I think I could do a good, quality job for the family.
But this might not be possible.

Haines & Wilderness, Alaska
There's two ways this could go.
I would head up there with two mates (I highly recommend you check out that link, they're both lovely musicians) I met back in May. We got along beyond fine and they invited me to come back up to Alaska with them this year.
I could get a job up there, they said there are plenty of employment opportunities, in Haines or...
There's a chance I could be the nanny for a researcher from the UW with her wonderful daughter in the wilderness. I could also combine the two adventures into one. I'm meeting with the family in January.

This would be going to the Christian Appalachian Project and living with a community of other volunteers in a house and volunteering like it's a job. My application is in. I just have to tell them when.

But the very moment my dear friend Janice in Ontario gives me the signal, I will be prepared to fly right over.

What to do? What to do?
I do appreciate having such opportunities made available to me.

Homemade Applesauce :: Goat Yoghurt, Sailboats, and Snoring Bulldogs

The family of the home I've been house sitting in was kind enough to stock the fridge with veggies for me before leaving. But, in addition to the veggies, they left baskets of fresh apples.

I am allergic to fresh apples.

If I bit into a fresh apple, my eyes sand mouth go berserk making life a bit miserable for a short bit.

So I've got these apples but can't eat them fresh. They're about to go gross and I felt like it was up to me to save them.

What'd I do?
Make applesauce, of course. You already know that. You saw the title and picture.
Make applesauce just like we made it at L'Abri and how my mom made it growing up.

I chopped up a few, threw in my favourite spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon), a few spoonfuls of water and turned up the heat. In under 24 minutes, the applesauce was ready for consumption.

No sugar added. I am of the belief that white sugar is, essentially, poison - so adding it to something already so sweet, like applesauce, isn't even a possibility.

One of my favourite treats is plain goat milk yoghurt. It's creamy, thick, refreshing, and doesn't make me feel sick. A scoop of it with a scoop of applesauce and a sprinkling of flax seed makes the perfect afternoon snack for me.

One thing I'll miss about living in this house is the window views. I love seeing the sailboats and watching he ferry come in and out every hour. It's like a giant grandfather clock.

As to the snoring of Jake and Charlie? Not sure how I feel about it. But, I have to admit, they are pretty adorable. I don't blame them for sleeping in front of the fire all day. It's my favourite spot in the house too.

Today It Is Tuesday Tuesday

Richard left, a few hours were alone in the home, and then Charlie and I headed out for a stroll to go find Kyle.

We went to the park, the beach, the other park, up and down mainstreet -- and I learned that walking with a dog is just like walking with a baby. People ask if she’s friendly and I can confidently say she is.

Not once, while we were out, did she jump on anyone or bark. Yes, she was stubborn a few times, but I’ll take stubborn over frantic any day (except for Thursdays). People seem to approach or avoid when I’ve got Charlie or Jakie with me.

After an hour outside, off the boat popped Kyle.

Kyle - whom I met in a warehouse in Portland and then saw in Seattle -- the only logical pattern would be to see him in the next major city up northwards, Vancouver (we’ll say Bowen Island is Vancouver, for pattern’s sake).


Hello Kyle.
Hello Kyle.

He brought a yam!

Clown school made him a fun play mate --- and he laughed.. a lot. A lot, a lot, a lot. And that was wonderful. Stories. Laughter. Laughter. Stories.

We spent some time with freshly roasted almonds and the indoor swing-sling-chair-hammock (Ikea Ekorre Swing) before skittering off to the Knick Knack Nook.

Over a few creeks and through the woods to the Knick Knack Nook we went. Past the meadows and the hatchery our feet carried us. And it was closed.

We took the road way back to the Ruddy Potato (couldn’t afford anything) and then the Snug Cove General Store (Kyle bought me a jar of chickpeas - I get to make my mash!). By this point he was mumbling something about being hungry and yams.

Back we went to the house with a detour at the library where I picked up a few excellent books (Tin Tin, Emily of New Moon, Tolstoy, Pooh stories, and a Child’s Christmas in Wales) and the Pagemaster (1994) for kicks.

At the house, two excited dogs greeted us, and Kyle’s hunger continued. Some quinoa leftover from breakfast and the rest of the almonds satisfied until dinner.

For dinner, we threw the yams, carrots, and onions around in some olive oil, salt, and marjoram in a cast iron skillet. Around 35 minutes in the oven and the incredible feast was ready. So delicious. This is what my body likes.

Then we spoke of Morris dancing, swung, danced, made a fire, and watched the ferry come in... and realize he ought to be on that ferry and walked out to meet it.

What’s crazy about this location is that we can do just that. We can see the ferry come in, pack, walk casually to it, and still have at least 7 minutes till the last chance to board.

December, I like you.

We broke the pattern of going north.
I saw him down south in Santa Clara, California.

Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Review: Jentacular January

12 days till the new year.
Reviewing 2011, month by month.
Starting with January.

A new school year.
Grandma has a birthday.
Learning Scot Gaelic.
Capital friends.
Cupcakes and weddings.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Canadian L'Abri Fall Term 2011 - Photograph Compilation Slideshow

Here's 969 of my favourite photographs from September through November 2011 at the Canadian L'Abri (L'Abri Canada).

To access the album, click here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hitchhiking on Highway 99 :: West Van --> Whistler

I had been told that it was easy to hitchhike up to Whistler. I decided to give it a shot. Here was my experience.

I woke up on Friday morning with few plans, but Whistler was in the back of my mind as an idea. When I saw the ferry pull in at 8:30 AM (you can see the ferry from the window of the house I've been living in), I decided I wanted to be on it. I rushed around the house, throwing things into my bag that i might need - three carrot sticks, two mandarins, and the leftover cheerios in a bag. All set to go!

I ran with full vigour to the Snug Cove ferry terminal and leaped on. By 9 AM, I was standing on my own two feet at Horseshoe Bay and hoofing it up (that's the term my dad always uses) to Highway 99. I wasn't quite sure how to get there. I walked up the hill, through the round about, backwards on the old highway, and then I found a hiking trail straight up the hill towards 99.

It was a scramble up some rocks and a slope, but I made it to the Highway. Hopped the barrier. Jumped over the meridian. And I was set to go. There was the perfect pull-off and I stuck my thumb out with optimism.

Cars whizzed by and I realized this wouldn't be quite as easy as hitchhiking on Bowen Island. Not too bad, though. I was picked up within six minutes.

Bud was my first ride (also known as Baldur). He was an older man from Iceland and we got along just fine. He thought I was a sweet little girl and patted my head three times. He drove me most of the way, to Squamish.

In Squamish, he told me a good place to pick up another ride.

I wandered over and there were already two other hitchhikers. They told me they had been there for three hours already - not a good sign. I stood there for a good amount of time and realized that it could take a long time to get picked up, standing by them. Being a single young girl, I had a pretty good chance of getting picked up. I wandered away and within 10 minutes, or so, a giant truck pulled over and I hopped in.

Ryan, who was somewhere in his late twenties or early thirties, was the one to give me a ride this time. He was going all the way, all the way to Whistler. I was set to go for the next 53 km or so.

Mid car ride, I realized that Alex was in Whistler. I hadn't thought about that before I left, otherwise I would've worked it out with him before hand. Ryan had an iPad (which I definitely called an iTablet) with internet so I could shoot him an email. I told that, if he got the email, we could meet at the library.

And it's at the library where my time in Whistler (click here for the post on that) began.

As it got dark, I decided it was time to hike back before the cars couldn't see me. I walked along the non-existant shoulder of 99. At the end of the block, there was a clear spot to stand in with a wide shoulder and out came the thumb again.

The fourth or so van pulled over. You know those creepy giant vans with no windows? The ones they tell you not to take candy from? That was my ride. An older long-haired man reeking of pot offered me a ride. I got in, but then found out he wasn't really going far enough to get me where I needed to go, so I told him I'd wait for a better ride. A girl in a VW, Laila, picked me up and took me to Creekside, where I could better get a ride out of town.

It was only 7 minutes or so before another van pulled over and I got a ride all the way back to Horseshoe Bay.

It was Vito. Oh Vito. Blaring his reggae.

He got a call. I wasn't listening till I heard, "... yeah. I picked up this good looking hitchhiker. She's a hippy from Bowen Island. Well, actually, from Seattle..."

Glad to be the hippy from Bowen Island.
I don't think I'm a hippy.
He says I am.
He also says it's a phase I'll outgrow...
Based on the adults I hang out with, well, whatever "I am" seems to be sustainable.

He said he was headed up to Whistler on Sunday and Wednesday and said if I wanted a ride again, I could count on him. I grabbed his email and am set to go back to Whistler on Sunday. He also might be doing a trip inland and offered a ride for that sometime in the future. I think I'll have to pass, but it was a kind offer.

So, that were my 204 kilometres with strangers.
It was really lovely of them to give me a ride.

Baldur, Ryan, Laila, and Vito.

Vegan Spelt Gingerbread Christmas Cookies

Cookies - a staple of Christmas, right? They go hand in hand with Christmas trees, Christmas lights, Christmas mandarins, Christmas nutcrackers, and, er, Christmas socks! Christmas cookies.

It was December 17, 8 days before Christmas, and I hadn't had a single cookie yet.
It was time to take some action.

Problem is - cookies have a tendency to make me sick and addicted. Addicted to the sugar. Sick from the sugar. But they taste oh so good...

Also, I'm in a different house with the ingredient supply situation out of my hands. I haven't spotted a single dairy product in the house. But I did have spelt flour (which is good news - I'm usually pretty good with spelt flour) from the Adams.

A Google search of "spelt vegan gingerbread" brought me to Tiffany's blog, Live. Learn. Love. Eat.

Last month she put up her recipe for Spelt Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies. BINGO!

Ingredients like spelt flour, sea salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, and vanila were called for. Check out her blog for the recipe. Not white sugar. No white flour.

For the "fat" it called for canola oil - but I used a half applesauce and half olive oil substitution with complete success.

The cookies came out delightfully fluffy and flavourful. I handed them out to other Black Sheep Morris Dancers with full approval.

The vegan spelt gingerbread cookies - dang, these things were quite good. Fantastic texture. Easy to cut out. It's a recipe I recommend with full vigour.

And now I've got my Christmas cookie fix for the year. In 12 months, it'll be time to pull out this recipe again.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Four-Hour Friendship in Whistler and the Quest for Soup

I woke up this morning and decided to go to Whistler. I clambered up onto Highway 99. Stuck out my thumb - and magically I appeared in this town I'd heard much of.

My first steps in Whistler weren’t the brightest - they were slushy brown steps right after Ryan (whom had just picked me up 60 km ago in his giant truck ) had dropped me off at the public library. A few more slushy steps later and I saw a dapper red-headed chap strumming away on his guitar.

I walked on, used the washroom of the library, and hopped right back out trying to decide if I should go back to the red-headed boy. Few things beat live music and that's really all I wanted. He was still there and I asked if I could listen, as I sat on the bench next to him, and he told me that I could and I made sure I wasn’t keeping him from making money and he told me I wasn’t because he wasn’t there to make money. All clear.

Beautiful rhythms and pickerings came out and I was overjoyed. This was lovely music I could enjoy. He asked if he could sing and had no objections.

As I listened to the words of the songs, I kept hearing, “Margaret,” “Margaret,” “Margaret.”
This song was about Margaret. That's me....

Had I told him my name?
Did he have any idea that he was singing to a Margaret?

Of course I was delighted to hear my name in a song and moved accordingly to such joy. He had a sweet melodic dulcet voice one could easily listen to for extended periods of time.

After the song finished, I told him my name was “Margaret” and a laugh was had after that... and we proceeded to hang out for four hours, until I hitchhiked back to Vancouver.

For perhaps one to two hours, we sat in front of the library in the frigid 2° C weather. He pulled out a harmonica and we jammed with that. The smiles from passerby and encouraging words were assured approval. He taught me to play “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on the guitar, and I handed it back to him as we sang through four verses.

Chris was quick to laugh. Usually smiling. And altogether a wonderful chill guy. And from Ontario (what's with all the Ontarians and where is my fiancé when I need him?).

One older man, Donny (scroll down to see him dancing), came outside multiple times to smoke. We got talking (after I encouraged him to clap) and I later gave him a hug as he went back inside. He made sure I knew where I could find him, Starbucks, so we could hang out if ever I wanted. Later, he told me I had pretty eyes and asked if I wanted a beer. I said, “No thanks,” as I had only eaten a carrot and a few handfuls of Cheerios that day.

Chris took up the cue and said, “Why don’t we go look for some soup?” He knew I really really wanted soup. Really really really really wanted soup in Whistler.

See, Julia, of L’Abri, had told me about a place with wonderful soup in Whistler. She didn’t know the name of it, but she said it was lovely. I set out to Whistler with the hopes in spoiling myself with a cup of delicious soup.

We set out in the slush, meandering around keeping our eyes open for any shops with soup. We spotted an information place and stepped in. Some brochures did have soup, but nothing seemed quite right.

Chris and I walked up to the counter and the front-desk-lady asked if she could help us.

“Yes, I’d like to get some soup.”
Without hesitation she told us to go to Gone Village Eatery - beyond the mailbox, to the left, and through the bookshop. It was beautiful! She knew exactly what I wanted!

I ran out of the door, Chris following, and I skittered her directions out  till we got to the shop with soup. This was not a time to walk. Soup was near! I had to run. I could not contain my excitement as we found Gone. Oh! It was perfect! It was perfect! I got that perpetual grin on as we waited in line for this finest of soup shops. I don't think we ever would have found it without the Info-Lady's guidance.

French Onion Soup Au Gratin with Bread was my order.
How exciting!
Chris got Yam and Bacon.
Equally exciting!

And we found our table. I looked at him and said, “This is the best time I’ve ever had in Whistler.” It was, indeed, the best and only time I had ever had there. “Me too,” he said. ‘Cept he had been to Whistler before so I think it meant a lot more when he said it.

That soup was perfect! It hit the spot and was just what I needed that afternoon.

We walked around the bookshop, read Winnie-the-Pooh quotes, and wandered around Whistler.

We ended up at the Hilton and the front-desk-man helped us find the bear skeleton Chris had seen before, but had forgotten where it was. It was in front of the mineral store and huge! We found the trinket bridge. We found the means of making soup - a can opener in the kitchen shop and fire from the torch in front of a restaurant. We admired a vibrant parking garage. We laughed abundantly and took snow paths, turning left. We went up stairs that led to nowhere but closed off hot-tubs and admired the playground.

And then I realized folks were leaving the slopes - 3 PM, they were closed, which meant now would be the perfect time time hitchhike home. He walked me to Highway 99, hugs were exchanged, and I was sent on my way.

What a terrific time in Whistler, though.

I got to meet an incredible friend within 3 minutes who I got to hang out with for a zealous four to five hours up until I left the town again.

Donny - the wonderful man who offered to take me out for a beer and told me I beautiful eyes. I had to pass up on the beer offer.

This is the song Chris played - "Margaret Downe" by Aidan Knight of Victoria, BC.
After just a few minutes of listening, I recommend it with all my toes.

And a bit more of Aidan Knight for kicks:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Skyping with the Mother and Father Units - Harpsichord/Piano/Bagpipe Chanter/Recorder Concert

How many folks, when they Skype with their parents, get a concert out of the event?

Last night I wasn't feeling so hot (not hot enough for Morris dancing) so I stayed home and chatted with my parentals for a bit.

It was fun talking to them (they're lovely people) - I talked mainly to my dad. I love how he stays busy with so many creative things.

Just the other night I got an email from mom (or was it him?) telling me to turn on the radio (had to go via internet). My dad was making music live for around an hour with harpist Bronn Journey. I tuned in and, sure enough, they were jamming live! It sounded relaxing and wonderful (it was for the time they call "quiet time" on the station) and apparently, people liked it enough that they've called up asking for more.

During our conversation, my dad played "Oh Little Town of Bethelehem" to the tune of "Gilligan's Island" on the harpsichord he built! Mom and he played lovely piano/harpsichord and piano/recorder and recorder/bagpipe chanter duets. It was wonderful!

Yeah. I have pretty rad parents.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"That's Nuts!" - The Forbidden Phrase

“That’s nuts!” I said in astonishment, as the young girl tried to shock me with her crazy story.

“We're not allowed to say that! You shouldn’t say, ‘nuts,’” she said. “When you say, ‘That’s nuts,’ it means, ‘penis.’”

I get educated on something new every day.

Sleepy in the Cove

Sleep. So important. Such a day’s mood setter.

I thrive on a sleep schedule. When I go to bed by a certain time and wake up at another, my body loves it.

Lately I’ve been going to bed by 10:30 PM. I start my routine at 9:30. Throw the dogs out for a final wee and head inside and get myself ready while they’re still out. Then I drag their beds into the bathroom (where they sleep) and go outside and tell them, “Go pee! Go pee!” Because if I don’t, then they pee in the house overnight, leaving me a lovely mess to clean.

Hopefully they’re done by 10 PM and I can lock them away.
Then to bed I go, hopefully it’s not too cold.

This morning I woke up at 6:02 AM and felt super hot - sweaty hot. You know where you wake up and your neck is gross and moist? I guess that down blanket was doing it’s job. Go little furnace me, go!

Surprise: American Friends on Canadian TV

It was Saturday evening and not much was going on. While I don’t like to watch TV all too much, sometimes I do turn it on for the added noise level. Celtic Woman was on PBS so I turned it on as I worked on pictures.

Turns out it was a fund-raiser that day... and then I started to see familiar faces answering phones in the background. Wait - I know her. And her. And him. And that other guy!

It was crazy turning on the TV in Canada to see all sorts of my American friends.

I found it highly amusing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ten Things To Blog About

Over ten things to document in blogging.
How grand.

Not that people need to read them - I just don't want to forget them.

Bowen Sunday

I checked my wristwatch (or "beeping" if you're Sebastian or Sofia or "my beeping watch" if you're Gabriel) - 10:02. Oh bother. Two minutes ago, the service at Cates Hill Chapel had begun. I looked at my self in the mirror. I hadn't brushed my hair in around 36 hours. In less than 37 seconds I had it half pulled back, out of my eyes, and a furious barking bulldog at my heels.

"Stop barking... please?" I demanded Charlie with authority. I've been trying every tone of voice with those dogs and every pattern of word choices my brain can come up with. "Please stop." "Stop." "No barking." "I don't really like it when you growl in such a furious way at me."

I pushed past the dog in my path (kindly) and threw on my down jacket I had just gotten at the Knick Knack Nook. A small scarf, two gloves, and I was set to go.

The walk gave me a settling feeling of being content. On this very day (the 11th) three months ago, I had taken my very first ferry trip to Bowen Island. A little runt of an island in Howe Sound right on the Strait of Georgia, in British Columbia, Canada, that I never would have explored were it not for L'Abri.

I know I could've stuck my thumb out for a ride within seconds, but the 1.2 mile walk is easy and the weather was clear. A morning stroll sounded ideal in that moment. As I pushed forward, familiar faces lined the streets - some I knew for certain ("Hey Maggie!" is a sound I like to hear) and others I had simply seen before as one does after living on an island with such a small population.

Up the hill.
Across the bridge.
By the woods.

An alert German Shepard welcomed me to Cates Hill Chapel. This was the first time I had entered solo. Weeks previeously, I was in the finest of company - other L'Abri students or dear Mary Ann. It was a full house, standing room only at that point, while the children acted out the Christmas Story.

They led the heart-warmed congregation through carols as the frost from outside melted off of my shoes. Each moment of eye contact was like a soul-hug with the beautiful residents of Bowen. A standing ovation brought the story to an end and the children scampered down the aisle to awaiting treats. I searched for a seat and found a stack of chairs by the Sheibes - Clarke, Julia, and Samuel. In creeping over, I wondered how much Samuel would remember of me. When he saw me, "Mah-gee" was my greeting as he squirmed to get down. With little persuasion, Clarke put him down. He looked up at me, said, "MIN!" and proceded to tottle in a complete circle. Yes, "Min" is what Samuel and I do indeed do together. We love to spin.The remaining "big people" prayed together and took communion - how grateful I am to my Father for so much!

Post-service, there were certainly people to talk to. During the L'Abri term, I wasn't one to hang around and discuss after church. I normally wanted to charge out for SPD reasons, but today I felt inclined to connect and catch-up - usually with the parents of the kids on Bowen that I get to play with.

I left the church feeling satisfied and wandered through the woods to the Knick Knack Nook to see if there were any treats. A friendly honk from the Adams' Jeep told me I was there and I was thrilled to see Carrie and baby Isabel. Inside the thrift shop, I had the privlege of carry the fuzzy-infant around (softest sleeper I'd felt in a while), leaving Carrie with free hands for a bit. We paced through the store, Isabel taking in all the fantastic textures and me checking out the incredible prices. For $1.28 I got delicious Fold-N-Mail stationary (I'm a sucker for stationary - it was nearly a full tablet of 33 of 40 original sheets present and cost around 1/20th of the original price - only $0.50), a small wooden spoon, a business card album, and "somethin'" else. What a big spender I am.

Back out in the cold, I took the trek back to the Cove to burn some time before the West Coast Symphony Concert at the Bowen Island Community School (BICS). I ran into Matthew on the hill and we discussed the purpose of dogs and the possiblilities of the English language.

I was delighted to find yams in stock at the Ruddy Potato (the local organic market) and snatched a tiny one up for $1.04 (this island is not cheap - nor the shop). I sauntered down the steps, tossing my yam up to a clever tune I wrote on the fly with the in depth lyrics of, "I got a yam!" A dapper elderly man on the sidewalk commented on them being the healthiest of root vegetables, putting even more bounce into my step as I set my sights on the local library.

The library occupied me for the remaining time as I pulled out Emily of New Moon from my backpack and read in the corner. I left with a copy of the Nutcracker in my backpack, thoroughly stoked for the upcoming concert.

The school gym was packed with families and excited concertgoers and fellow music-enthusiasts. I found my seat front and center only because I was a single girl and few people were attending solo. The attendance of children was encouraging and perfect for this performance which included "Peter and the Wolf." I was pleased that I could afford this concert where admission was by donation.

The West Coast Symphony put on a beautiful performance, opening with Giuseppe Verdi's Overture to "Nabucco." This was followed by the ever so famous "Peter and the Wolf" which the children devoured! The narrator was in full character as he interacted with kids who sneaked up to the front to sit or dance at his feet. The audience laughed as five or six small birds twitted about, making the concert all the more enjoyable. After an intermission, they finished up with Vivaldi's "Concerto for Two Trumpets," Mozart's "Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat," and a unifying round of Leroy Anderson's "A Christmas Festival." With the Christmas Festival piece, the whole gym sung out familiar Christmas tunes as they were recognized, all led by a local opera singer who was holding his son.

During the concert, to my right I heard a familiar tongue - German! However it was high German from Germany, mumbled, and whispered, so it was hard to catch on. I was trying to think of a way to enter the conversation and came upon it as we sang during "A Christmas Festival." When "Silent Night" was played, I sung the German version, "Stille Nacht," and knew I had caught their attention when they looked over at me.

After the concert, the man turned to me said, "You sang "Silent Night" in German," to which I replied, in German, that German was a language I could speak. We were bantering back and forth instantly and before long I had Horst and Anne's number and an invitation to come visit during the next ten days for some German company and conversation. This delighted me.

It seemed time to head home and check on Jake and Charlie. They were fine. They growled at me. I danced....and rocked out to the Nutcracker, yo.

And so goes life on Bowen...

Friday, December 9, 2011

2011 Review - Photographic Slideshow Edition - Part I - First 1,000 Shots

Here's the first of two or three sideshows of the highlights of 2011.

There's 1,000 photographs here to start us off.

I don't expect anyone to watch it all (it's 50 minutes long) - but you can click on it to view the album and either view the slideshow in 1/3 that time (select 1 second viewing) or just scroll through.

Wish these had their captions still attached to them so you would know the significance of some of the shots, but hopefully they can tell most of the story on their ownsome.

I also have scheduled a smaller walk-through of 2011 with a smaller selection and a few words. It'll start on the 19th, with a month a day, leading up to New Year's Eve.

Green Juice in My Cup

Spinach, Swiss chard, celery, broccoli, cucumber, and bell pepper - all juiced up for a cup of green goodness.

I just want me my juice.

I am ever so grateful that the family I am house sitting for has a juicer and stocked the refrigerator with veggies for juicing. I've been grateful for my daily cup. It works to wake me up or as a dinner. Can't really go wrong. Love this stuff.

And it's green, like a Christmas tree!
Want some?

Two Bulldogs and I

No worries - I would never dress like this outside of the house. This is ownsome dressing for Bowen-afternoons alone.
Someone to house sit for seventeen days with two bulldogs... does that sound like me?

I'm not even going to pretend I am a dog person (if you must know, I am a fish person). When my brother was younger, he got bit by a pitbull. This instilled a deep fear of dogs in him, cynophobia, which he passed on in partiality to me. When going for walks, we would go out of our way, extensively, to avoid the "dogs residencies."

But he got better (thank you counseling) and I came to realize that if I was chill around dogs, they'd usually leave me alone.

So I heard about a family needing someone to come to their house in December. I decided to meet the dogs, see how the chemistry was between me and them.

I met them and loved them (kinda - as much as I could love a dog).

Charlie and Jake are their names, two sweet (and sometimes loud) girls.

Now I've been their soul caretaker for the past 4 days. The soul caretaker of two bulldogs.

I learned that bulldogs are the most excellent of cuddlers! Goodness, how they cuddle constantly (if I'd let them). And in this house that is heat solely with wood, they are like a welcome little portable furnace on my lap or by my side.

Do they snore outrageously? Yes.
Do they stick their face too close to my face all the time? Yes. Way too much. Like right now, Charlie won't stop trying to lick the computer screen.
Do they bark? Goodness, yes. And then I tell them, "No barking."

But they also are delightfully sweet and crave any attention I'll give them. I like taking them for walks most of all. That, I find to be delightful. Last night Charlie and I did the 3.4 kilometer walk up almost to Rivendell and back (I think I tired her out). Today I'll take Jake out for a stroll.

Mornings are our roughest times because I have to get them up and fed and let them go to the bathroom all before I head out to nanny. I can normally get up at 7:05 and be out the door by 8:05 in time to make it to my destinations at 9.

Mostly, though, they're super chill and sleep by the fire. They sleep. I read and type and craft and create food.

I won't say I wish I had a dog, right now. They bark and poop. Yes, they're sweet, but having them is a long commitment. But I'm really grateful for this opportunity to hang out with Charlie and Jake. It's helping me grow and learn to live with dogs, and I do like spending time with them (except for when they bark - can't say I have the same love for them like a momma to the baby, unconditional - this love has conditions).

Within 4 seconds of me sitting down, they're usually right next to me saying "Hey -- love us!"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Roasted Roots, Tubers, and Bulbs

Roasted vegetables have held my heart for a while - and infiltrated my diet in the past few days.

Dinner - roasted yams (thank you Kyle!), onions, and carrots.
Lunch - roasted carrots, beets, and onion.

Chop veggies. Toss in a little bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt and marjoram.
Set the oven to 350°F. Roast for 30 minutes.

This is what my body likes.
Vegetables, it can handle.

Bread makes my body feel weird. Milk ick. Sugar is awful.

Sometimes I'm ok with them, but it's not always guaranteed.

This, can't go wrong. Feel most excellent, I do. I know there's quite a bit of sugar in carrots and beets, but I'm pretty good at processing it (with some spinach on the side, I'm set).

En Guete!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Survivor: Last One on the Island

Richie just boarded the ferry and now I am the last L’Abri student from the Fall term 2011 left on Bowen.

Melanie is gone.
In Young is gone.
Dieter Jan is gone.
Marie Madelein is gone.
Anna is gone.

But I’m still here.

And it feels alright. It feels right. I’ve got the house to myself for the first time in a long while (apart from Jack and Charlie, the bulldogs that are chilling next to the fire right now). This means I can sing at full volume and twirl and leap and jump.

I don’t suppress myself in full around others (I've done that and felt terribly awfully miserable) - I let most of myself be me, but there are certain things I just don’t cut loose on. When I meet a friend who likes to let everything go and exist, oh, what a joy is that! Three friends come to mind. Three friends who reassured me that I could be me me me without apologies. But I know there is a bounty more! In the contra world, such friends are abundant.

It was wonderful hanging out with Richie these past few days. I left the island (back in November) then he left then I came back and then he came back. We managed to stay outside for around five hours yesterday morning (not counting the ride we hitched to the cove or the three minutes inside as we dropped our stuff off).

Being outside does my whole body and mind good (so long as I’m weather prepared). It’s stimulating in all the right ways without crossing into the overstimulating category. It encourages constant movement and spontaneity is made easy to not snuffle.

 I’m not sure, yet, what to think about these next sixteen days I have here. Probably devour a few books, blog a bounty, and cuddle with these lovely dog creatures (they are excellent napping companions, I’ve discovered - like sleeping with space heaters). I’ve got families I can hang out with, children to watch, and the visiting to Kyle and Alex, day visitors, and Joelle, for two nights, to look forward to.

And I want to use this time to get into a routine of chilling with Jesus. With life on the go, I’ve neglected him terribly which isn’t right at all! I’ve talked to him a wee bit, but some hardcore Jesus and Margaret time is long overdo. Maybe we’ll go for a walk - I bet he wouldn’t even mind the company of a bulldog with us.

Pardon the shades - they're for the privacy of the family.
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