Archive for the ‘Randomness’ Category

Dear Abandoned Blog

Dear Abandoned Blog,

I’m sorry I haven’t written in so long. I miss you, I really do. All our leisurely evenings together, with me scanning photos from my old sticker books or teenage journals, oh, I remember those fondly. All those late nights, with me uploading photos and then writing thematic posts to match… heavenly.

But with taking on this teaching job in the fall, and adapting to Keaton’s new early morning schedule (meaning that late, late nights just aren’t possible anymore, and sleep deprivation is no fun), I just haven’t had much time to spend with you. Evenings after Keaton goes to bed are now spent learning HTML or spreadsheets, to teach them in my class… a bit of a learning curve, this whole college instruction thing. Does it count that I’m writing a lot of posts in my head? They just haven’t made it to your “Posts” page, yet.

I hope to see you again soon, dear Blog. I just need to find my groove.




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The reality truly didn’t hit until I was standing there, last Wednesday at 2:30pm, in front of the class of 25 eager, cute, very computer-savvy students. Many of them were about half my age. I felt old. I was the instructor. This was my class. They were looking at me expectantly. It didn’t feel like all that long ago that I was the student, in that very same classroom, looking expectantly at the instructor.

Yes, I am now teaching in a program (Arts & Entertainment Management at Capilano University) of which I am an alumnus (class of 2002). Who ever would have thought that, one Masters degree and several years of work experience later, I’d one day be teaching in this same program. And Computer Applications no less! What the heck have I gotten myself into? I just spent two hours tonight teaching myself how to format text in Word 2007 – it was like I was cramming for a test. I’ll be teaching this stuff in less than 24 hours, by gum!

I don’t think that I’ll write much about my new teaching life on my blog – you know, privacy and professionalism and all that. But because it’s such a present issue (as my sister Tara would say), I just had to.

Wish me luck.

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Dear Loyal Readers (of which there are approximately two),

Please excuse my absence from the blog this week! I wanted to post more images from my childhood sticker book (my unicorn shinies page is to die for), a recipe on Thursday, and a “this moment” photo from the week today, but I didn’t.

My excuse? I was finishing my latest children’s book, a second hi-lo chapter book for Orca Book Publishers… putting in hours reminiscent of my college all-nighter essay-writing days (ie. staying up until 4a.m., except now I have a baby so that’s a really dumb idea). I was just so determined to get the blasted thing done, and I’m really happy with it. I’d been writing it for waaaay too long (since I was newly pregnant with Keaton), and it is so very wonderful to have it all sent off to my editor. Who knows, my publisher might want it, they might not, but it’s a satisfying feeling to know that it’s now in their hands and our of mine. Phew. And now I am so excited to finally be able to start something new!

But first, my little family and I are off visiting the various grandparents in Chilliwack, Vernon and the Kootenays for the next almost two weeks. I’m so looking forward to days filled with river floating, drinking & eating, lolling and other fun summery-ness.



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Girl Crushes

My biggest, longest-lasting girl crush: Winona.

I love crushes. I’m someone who’s prone to obsessions from mild to serious, and crushes just seem to go with the territory. Whether it’s a celebrity or a real person you’re crushing on, you just gotta love that twinkly-hearted, joyful feeling you get. In a special class for me is the Girl Crush, which mainly involves total admiration and imitation. You want to be just like her. I’ve had many girl crushes in my life, and I’m happy to give you a guided chronological tour. Enjoy the ride, people.

1. Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie – Age 4. This was my very first girl crush, as far as I can remember. I mean seriously, who didn’t have a thing for Jeannie? She had awesome hair that wound around her little veiled hat, she wore awesome gauzy pink pants and outfits, and she could go all tiny and poof into her gorgeous glass bottle! I thought she was the prettiest girl in the world, and tried endlessly to braid my hair like she did (I didn’t have nearly enough), poof into my parents’ fancy glass bottles (didn’t work) and blink my eyes and nod to make magic happen (ditto). Didn’t stop me from trying, though.

2. Agnetha Fältskog from Abba – Age 5. Apparently as a kid, I liked the blondes. I don’t even know how many hours I spent staring at the Abba Greatest Hits Volume 2 album cover. I wanted Agnetha’s hair. I wanted her blue eyeshadow. I wanted her white blouse-y neck scarf-y thing. I wanted to be her, singing “Waterloo” all gorgeous like that. My mum was constantly searching for her wooden spoons, which were scattered all over the house having been used by me as lip synch microphones.

3. Janet from Three’s Company – Age 5 to 7. Oooh, that funny, spunky, raven-haired, petite little Janet. Perhaps a pre-cursor to my Winona fascination as a teenager?

4. The “Winter” woman from Color Me Beautiful – Age 8. Any children of the 80s out there remember this book? It took the suburban housewife market by storm in 1980, featuring colour palettes for each complexion and colouring, according to the seasons. I carried my mum’s copy everywhere, and went through a total Color Me Beautiful obsession, deciding what season every single person that I knew was. When I finally started determining if our pet guinea pig was a Winter or Fall, my mum said that maybe we should put Color Me Beautiful away for a while. I was in love with the woman on the main “Winter” page, with her milky white skin, black hair, grey eyes and huge stripes of pink blush on her cheeks (this was 1980, after all). Although with my blonde hair and freckly face I was resoundingly a Summer, I was so determined to somehow be defined as a Winter, just like that beautiful, Snow White Winter woman. *sigh*

5. Lori W. – Age 6 onward. This was the first “real person” girl crush that I remember. Lori was the teenaged daughter of our neighbours across the street, and I was in love the minute I first laid eyes on her. She had a sleek dark brown bob, and cool clothes like tall black pointy boots and black pencil skirts, and purses that looked like patent leather boxes, and she was just so different-looking from everyone in our somewhat scrubby little suburban neighbourhood. Lori could put on just a white t-shirt and jeans and look effortlessly chic. When 12-year-old me attempted to copy that same look, however, I looked like a dork and everyone at school made fun of me. For a while, when I was about 6 or 7, Lori would come over on Saturday mornings and give ballet lessons, to me, my sister Tara and a couple of other neighbour kids in our kitchen. Lori wore the best pink leotard with perfect white tights, beat-up old pink leather slippers with pink satin ribbons lacing them up (be still my beating heart!) and an angora wrap sweater. I also remember her very shapely thighs. I would look down at my skinny little girl legs and hope that one day I would have nice, muscular, skookum thighs like Lori. (Ah, the random thoughts of a 6-year-old.)

6. Marlisse – Age 7 to 12. Marlisse was my mum’s good friend. She was funny, and sweet, and really good at sewing and crafty things, and plus she had the awesomest thick, feathered brown rocker hair ever. I remember saying to my mum that I thought Marlisse was the prettiest lady I had ever seen. I wanted to be exactly like her. I also remember asking Marlisse once how tall she was – she said she was 5’4″, and I remember thinking that I wanted to grow up to be 5’4″… that was my ideal height for a long time (I grew up to be 5’8″… what would little girl me think of that?). Once she told my mum that she thought I was pretty, too, and that was just about the most thrilling thing I’d ever heard in my life. Sadly, Marlisse was killed by a drunk driver about 12 years ago. She’ll always be that fabulous rocker chick that I knew in the 80s.

7. Cyndi Lauper – Age 8 to 10. I listened to She’s So Unusual in my Walkman until the tape wore out. One of my elementary school highlights was dressing up as Cyndi for Halloween in Grade 4, and everyone lining up for my autograph ’cause I looked so much like her. Must have been the orange and green hair spray (I still remember the mildly sweet, baby powder-ish smell of that stuff…)

8. Ecaterina Szabo – Age 9. During the 1984 Olympics I became completely obsessed with gymnastics (I still tune in religiously during each Summer Games). My dad taped all the coverage for me and my sisters and I watched it, over and over (and over) again unti the tape snapped (that was a sad day, let me tell you). I think I could still recite most of the commentary. I fell in love with all the gymnast girls – Mary Lou Retton, Julianne MacNamara, but it was that little Romanian Ecaterina Szabo who stole my heart. So serious she was! First of all, could she have a better name? Second of all, could her curly bangs be any more fabulous? Third of all, her floor exercise could not have been any more awesome! I put tiny little foam curlers in my bangs in an attempt to make them look more Szabo-like, and my mother wisely advised me not to go to school like that. My sisters and I turned our yard into a gymnastics arena, with sawhorses stuck together for balance beams, our swing set for the bars, and a nice patch of grass for the floor ex mat. I always tried to do fluttery hand motions like Ecaterina did at the beginning of her floor exercise. Click on her name (above) to see her in action!

9. Kristen R. – Age 11. Kristen was the prettiest, coolest, most fashionable girl in school. She had catlike hazel eyes and perfectly straight, sandy blonde hair. I used to sit behind her in Grade 5 and try to sit at my desk exactly the same way she did. Unfortunately, in her early twenties Kristen completely wrecked her brain on drugs and then began to suffer terribly from mental illness. She’s in and out hospital now, and I’ve seen her begging on the streets from time to time. Who would have known, back in the day when she and I would do air guitar in the girls’ change room at school, how it would all turn out.

10. Winona Ryder – Age 13 onward. My biggest girl crush of all time. I first saw her in Great Balls of Fire (one of my serious, major obsessions) and immediately fell in love with her little oval face, big brown eyes, ponytail and bangs. Wow! I loved how she talked, I loved her full yet small lips, I loved her clothes. From then on I tracked Winona and all her looks and hairstyles, often going to my hairdresser with a photo of Winona’s latest short hairstyle. I got myself a silver chain and cross after I saw her in Mermaids. Yup, Winona was the coolest.

11. Greta Garbo – Age 15. Now there was a real woman! I watched all her movies, I read all her biographies, I poured over books of photos of her from the library. That sexy accent! That deep voice! Those elegant, large-lidded eyes and sharp cheekbones! I copied her signature and practised making the “G”of my last name just like hers. (I still sign my name G-Garbo style to this day.)

12. Maggie O’Connell from Northern Exposure (played by Janine Turner) – Age 15 to 19. I know my best fried Heather shares this crush!  Ah Maggie – she was a pilot with the best short haircut. What a cool, independent woman! Besides, she got to kibbutz with Dr. Fleischman all day long, who I was madly in love with. Lucky, lucky Maggie. While searching for good Maggie photos, I came across Janine Turner’s website, and was horrified to see what she’s become (or was all along, and I just didn’t know) – a right-wing, conservative, Sarah Palin-loving Republican who writes cheesy books about being a single mother, and releases country music CDs with her daughter. Not to mention starring in her very own Christian Yoga DVD, so that you can get a bible reading during your downward dog. Seriously, you have got to check this out (click link above).

Those were all the crushes during my most impressionable ages. There have been some since then, but none as palpable and strong as these ones. Right now I’m really into Laura Calder. The way that woman wields a flan… Anway, I think that some of these girl crushes helped to shape the woman I am today – for the most part (with the notable exception being “Winter” woman), they were all quirky, independent, smart, sassy gals. My kind of women.

Okay girls, who have been some of your girl crushes?

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Chicken soup with matzo balls and grilled cheese sandwiches with ketchup and mustard – an unorthodox yet delicious combination. Soup and sandwiches is one of my favourite meals, ever.

At age fifteen I became obsessed with everything Jewish. It was around the same time that I started watching – and loving – Woody Allen movies. All his references to his Jewish faith, family and background really got me started. This was also the time when I had a crush on my cute Jewish boy triumvirate: Woody, Paul Simon and Dr. Joel Fleischman from the TV show Northern Exposure. The episode where Joel’s Uncle Manny dies and then he dons his yarmulke and prayer shawl to say the kaddish? Don’t even get me started – I’m getting all verklempt! I dreamed of going to New York City to Max’s Delicatessen. I listened to tapes of people speaking Yiddish and Hebrew. I read Jewish folk tales and treasuries of Jewish humour. One day my younger sister Tara and I even snuck out and went to Vancouver by ourselves to – get this – go to a Jewish Film Festival. I started writing a screenplay about a nun and an orthodox Jewish man who somehow meet and fall in love (oh, the whole “forbidden love” thing – so appealing to teenage girls!). In grade ten I even pretended that I was Jewish around some people I didn’t know very well, and told them that I celebrated hanukkah. Yep.

My teenage Jewish obsession culminated in a special fancy dinner that Tara and I put on for our family, with orthodox/kosher Jewish dishes (ie. no milk and meat combined). I can’t remember what they were exactly, but we researched the recipes forever. (And this was in the days before the internet – many trips to the library.) Matzo meal was next-to-impossible to find in Maple Ridge in 1990, let me tell you. Tara and I even went so far as to make ourselves some little yarmulkes and beards, and then to curl side tendrils of our hair, sidelock style. Yes, instead of donning wigs and a great deal of make-up like good orthodox women, we had apparently decided it would be more fun to dress up like orthodox Jewish men. Gad, I wish I could dig up the pictures from that dinner party. On second thought, maybe not.

So, what about the Jewish faith and culture could fascinate a good little gentile girl from the suburbs to such an extent? Well, a big part of it is of course the whole “The Other” fascination – the Jewish culture seemed so exotic, so different from my Christian church-going, perogie-eating, hymn-singing Mennonite background. To my teenage self the Jewish culture seemed so much more witty, so much more edgy than the freshly-scrubbed, wholesome types that I was surrounded by. Growing up in Maple Ridge, B.C., I had never met anyone even remotely Jewish, but I had read about them in Judy Blume books.

Gradually my Jewish obsession faded, only to be replaced by some other new obsession (I think it was Star Trek: The Next Generation and my huge crush on Data. I’m certainly prone to my obsessions, ask anyone who knows me well). On Friday night, in a little nod to my Jewish-lovin’ past, I cooked up some chicken soup with matzo balls, which my best friend Heather so kindly procured for me from Solly’s Bagels (matzo meal is still hard to find, it appears). Oy vey! Delicious.

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Gotta Wear Shades

[Oh my gad, I’ve had a draft of this post up on my screen for three days, totally unfinished. Every time I went to add to it, Keaton would start crying at that exact moment. Ah, such is life.]

Back from an awesome time in the Okanagan. Lots of good food, good wine, good company, good Settlers of Catan-playing and general good times. And check out my hawt new shades – picked ’em up for $10 at the always awesome Surplus Herby’s in Vernon. (Also some lovely white catering-type napkins, three for a dollar!)

Some photos from the trip:

Amazing  food, courtesy of Josh’s mum and others…

Fabulous family…

A music-filled party at Melodious Mama‘s house...

Good times with Grandma…

Great fun with our friends Ryan, Colleen and their kids in Penticton…

Good times!

Reading: Two delicious cookbooks by Canadian chefs that I just borrowed from the library: Laura Calder’s French Food at Home and Michael Smith’s The Best of Chef at Home. I love both of their shows on the Food Network (my sister Chay can’t stand  Michael Smith’s voice, but I like him), and their cookbooks seem equally fabulous. Okay, so Laura Calder  seems like a bit of a priss, but whatever. It feels very grown-up lady-ish of me to feel such joy in curling up to read a cookbook, but it can be quite fun, can’t it? Just reading all those recipes with the promise of making some of them. I’m already feeling excited about Michael’s Apple-Roasted Chicken and Laura’s Onions in Their Skins. I haven’t actually made anything from these books yet, but I’ll report back!

Listening to: At this very moment – Tom Allen on CBC Radio 2. I’ve also been loving Lykke Li, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and my old favourite, Edith Piaf.

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