Thursday, November 3, 2016

of late: July & August Musings


                                                                          1/ Fancy double date with our BFFs ; a Sourdough hobby that was exquisite and short
                                                                          2/ Lush walks on Thormanby island ; Obsession with our godson
                                                                          3/ School wife ; 3rd anniversary dinner in fancy duds
                                                                          4/ xoxo X 1 million ; Joffre Lake
                                                                          5/ Saturna: time standing still on ferry ; 3 generations of Green men
                                                                          6/ Ucluelet getaway : walks in pouring rain ; fish tacos
                                                                          7/ Ucluelet getaway II : outdoors cures all things

Of late...

I last wrote on June 28th and now it is November.
If I was feeling dramatic, I would say: that's nearly half a year without writing to you!
But: I am mostly feeling sleepy, and a bit behind on other things I have to do, so instead I say: that will do little lamb, that will do. Good for you for starting again.

It's always nice to come back to this space.

July and August were//

A study in how one can wake up at 6am every day to go to school, and maintain a semblance (and many times actual state) of calm and joy. Quite remarkably, this Eeyore body--with its propensity for hitting snooze three times in a half hour span-- would be standing on a crowded bus by 7am, heading to class with a thought out ensemble and not too many crinkles on her brow. You get used to the things you must do, and this was the summer I fit in all the classes I needed to get out of the way by Fall.

Less carefree nights, whimsical "What should I do today?" musings, and jaunts overseas to Europe, 
but . . . you know. Everything has its season. 

What Did You Love?//  

♥ The presence that Rowan is in our lives. The way he squeaks and smiles and how we're fortunate to be his chosen family and to watch him grow up. This most recent visit, he was the biggest boy who loved chilling with his Gigi and Bry Pops (still working on our nicknames.)

♥ The magic that is Buccaneer Bay / Thormanby island, and the beautiful cabin that Cousin designed. Despite mosquitos and the roughest waters I've ever been on, it was so lovely to be on their land with sea and sand spotted from every window. 

♥ The glorious Sunday morning I attempted making sourdough pancakes topped with greek yoghurt, mango slices and coconut flakes. The sourdough hobby has since died, but that breakfast was accccce. 

♥ Dancing my butt off to Spice Girls and JLo and other 90's Gods with my schoolwife, and getting out unspent energy in a sweaty, dark club. 

♥ Meeting our nephew Luke for the first time. That long, smiley, calm hearted bug. xo

♥ Conquering two goals: putting my bike on the bus (a long held irrational fear) and biking all the way from East Van to UBC. THAT HILL AT THE END, THOUGH. Yeesh. 

On turning Three//  

Around our anniversary, I wanted to write a specific post celebrating our marriage and how it felt to be turning three years old with my husband. I have wanted to write a post on our anniversary every year, one where he participates and shares his own voice and his writer's talent, and it just never happens.
The day came and went; I wore pink heels while eating pasta and squeezing his hand. We marvelled that a year ago, we were celebrating 2 years with wind-slapped cheeks in Iceland-- and a year before that, we were feeling distant from one another and unsettled from our big move to Vancouver. Our 1 year felt sort of sad, like we had failed an important quiz, despite studying hard for it.

It is nothing short of incredible what three years since the wedding and communication can do. 

Three years in, we remain each others' greatest ally and soccer-mom-cheerleader. We continue to ask for what we need from the other, while being aware of our own baggage and hidden landmines we each bring to the table. We host imaginary talk shows in our living room, with only ourselves as the audience, and laugh all the time. Sometimes I cry too, or his heart feels sad, and both those things are OK because we never feel the need to hide either. 

Maybe next year we'll write that special post together, but for now, I am quite content that there exists a man in this world who has a giant lemon pie tattooed on his hip for me. 


Remember how I get sort of weird and squirrelly around my birthday? This year I did the best thing. I celebrated earlier in the month with my best friends at my favourite restaurant at a long table, and then a couple weeks later when the real deal was happening, Bry and I just skipped town. 

Ucluelet had biblical amounts of rain the ENTIRE time we were there, but my god were we happy. I am at my very best when it is just me and him and nature, and that's what it was like for four days. We stopped to hug Red Cedars and Douglas Firs, traipsed around wet forests getting drenched, stuffed our gills with mac n' cheese hot dogs, gazed into a horizon of nothingness and endless Pacific ocean, and watched epic amounts of TV at night. Literally, my favourite. 

And, in an epic Herculean feat of our marriage, B convinced me to try surfing. In the rain. In an ocean. (Have I told you yet of my fear of open water and lack of swimming capabilities?)
He was such a good, patient teacher, and I was such a willing and excited student. In my diary on August 30th I wrote: I LEARNED TO SURF IN THE RAIN! I am a powerful goddess!!!!!! :D

If you know me, this is proof that anything is possible, and that magic exists in the universe. 

I'm 32!

Things I Ate That Were Good//

- Hank's BBQ in Ukee
- Zoe's Bakery in Ukee
- Fish tacos from the place in Ukee that isn't Tacofino 
- Lamb gnocci and green tomato salad from Savio Volpe
- Chicken banh mi from Ba Le
- Sausage rolls from that guy at the Trout Lake farmer's market
- The most amazing fermented cinnamon sticky roll from @annabellechoistudio 

Things I Ate That Were Overrated//

-  Wolf and Fog in Tofino (sorry)
-  Maenam in Kitsilano (sorry X 2)

A bummer//

That time my bike got stolen from the side of my house. I think I am still mostly in denial about it. I don't go to the scene of the crime very often, and I'm back to mainly walking around. 

Go straight to hell, bike thieves. 

Please Don't Leave on a Low Note//

Oh, okay. Well. Here's a dorky picture of me and my surfboard! 


I start Year 2 (and hopefully the last year, fingers crossed) of grad school. I write to tell you all about it.

I get back into the rhythm of packing lunches and going to bed by 10pm. 

I see real clients for the first time, and feel so nervousexcited that I have to lie down.

I try to decide whether to abandon my last and final post of the euromoon, because at this point, it's been a million years since. But it's London! So.. we'll see.

All this and more . . . coming soon!

Absence or not from this place, you are often fondly in my thoughts. I hope the world has been real, real sweet to you lately.

With all my love,

Your pen pal

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

of late: April, May and June Musings

                                                                          1/ Portland, J style: flowers & pies
                                                                          2/ Portland, B style: ciders & mac n' cheese hotdogs
                                                                          3/ Spring: our garden, our picnics
                                                                          4/ School: celebration & mes noveaux amis
                                                                          5/ Peonies: before & after
                                                                          6/ Sunday adventures: Dog Mountain views
                                                                          7/ Babies: Marge's new little love & the twins
                                                                          8/ Indian Arm: views & berries
                                                                          9/ Celebration: so much to rejoice over
                                                                        10/ Hope: solstice & end of year margaritas

Of late...

April, May and June were//

A whole season of joy. 

Does anyone out there not like these months? What spring can bring? Every year, it is a time where I bumble around saying to the blue sky: I can't believe it! You're back; to the flowers and the bees: I love you, marry me!; to the sun and the rain: Thank you for everything.

Life was so full this season that I had to get out my daily diary to see what had happened, why I have to lump all the months together this time--and I could barely get through a week's worth of entries without wanting to share some snippet or memory.

There was a lot. I have a lot. 

Even in the moments when I am very tired, so overwhelmed, inexplicably sad... I am just plum dumb lucky to have what I have. 

What Did You Love?//  

♥ The amount of times B has come through for us in his humble, hard-working, nurturing way. I can't cook dinner or do laundry because of a deadline? No problem. He's on it. I'm stress crying again? He holds me like a little lamb.
♥ The best friend is having a baby, which means another nugget to love and love and love
♥ Dancing in my sky-high green Amsterdam heels with my lovely new friends and celebrating the end of  intense UBC classes
♥ New recipe: BBQ zuch/spring onion salad from My New Roots with lemongrass sausages was an A+ home run
♥ Snow and sunshine and mango guacamole on a hike up Dog mountain.
♥ Every time I chose to bike to work.
♥ Having the whole side of an island to ourselves and eating chocolate under moonlight on our canoe trip up Indian Arm
♥ Spending time with my parents learning about their childhood for a family therapy genogram project. They are rad.
♥ Spontaneous date nights to Anh and Chi, Tacofino, Noodle Box, Red Wagon-- pretty much any time I get to eat with my husband and no one has to cook or clean. GROWN UP HEAVEN.
♥ June celebrations: sis turns 30! dad turns 65! parents' marriage turns 37! momma is officially a retiree! 
♥ The teaching school year coming to an end, with both of us bone-tired but with more compassion, more skills, more confidence. This marks seven years of us in the profession. 

On School, this Round//  

I was that student in undergrad that would put off her papers until literally the night before, start at 11pm, and write until 7 in the morning. Then, I'd skip class to sleep and eventually bus to school to hand in my paper, and slink away. I always got A's. 

I don't do that anymore, and yet, each major assignment still twists my brain into a sailor's knot, and my spine into a pretzel. Like every time. I procrastinate over written work, and obsess over presentations. The entire back of my head becomes a heavy slug. I binge watch comfort TV and eat commiseration doughnuts (not to be confused with celebration doughnuts). 

All of it is rooted in my specific brand of perfectionism and I am trying to unlearn some patterns. It is hard when bad habits still yield top scores, and you misthink: Clearly, this seems to be working...

Both /And (as opposed to Either/ Or) : I am proud of myself for being such a hard working, thoughtful, & creative individual AND I need to chill the fuck out.


YAAAAAAAAAS. What a gift we gave ourselves! I know a lot of you who go semi-regularly, but I haven't been in a few years and Bry has never been... 
It was just delightful. Maybe one of the top three highlights of the whole year. 

My second morning, I soaked in the gorgeous tub at our Airbnb, dumped vast amounts of epsom salts in the water, as I quietly wept to myself. Just kidding about the last part. I read a food magazine about stuff I was about to eat in Portland. I played Bon Iver from my phone. They have a rain shower the size of my office at home, where I rinsed off. It was like the most romantic solo date ever. 

I think B's top moment was either when we walked into Portland Cider and his face slackened as he realized there were 28 ciders on tap (versus the 1 or the 0 in Vancouver), or when we went to Fred Meyer and there was a city-block's worth of craft beer and cider in their fridges, a bar, and a guy who gave him taste tests of everything on tap. 

I almost penned a whole separate blog post on these three days, but I eventually couldn't summarize how it all felt like such a haven from the long days of work and school. Everything I was writing felt inadequate.

So, trust that we will be saving nickles and dimes to go again, and as a general public service announcement: the burgers we had at Deschutes Brewery were the best ones we've had since New York.

On Feminism//

On April 13th in my journal, I wrote: I am feeling the patriarchy lately. 

As I get older, the systems that conspire to separate us become more and more palpable. I become more furious. I don't want my godson to grow up in a world where he is told he has to man up, that tears are for the weak, that chasing girls is an integral aspect of his boyhood. I don't want any future daughters to think her body is anything but her own (not from the school administrators that police her spaghetti strapped tank top; or politicians that say what she can and cannot do with her own womb; not from someone at a party who finds it encouraging that she is just a bit too drunk to say no.)

It's weird and insulting when I say something and it gets dismissed, just to have B say the same exact thing again, and have nods all around. (This truly happens more than you think.)

I am tired of us vs. them, cats vs. dogs, emotion vs. logic, venus vs. mars.

I want to be listened to, and I want to listen to you.

Privilege based on gender is an important thing to recognize: whether you have it or you don't. 

On a lighter note, this response to a Dr. Seuss story made me LOL. 

Current not-real-but-real problems//

- Making lunch
- What length to cut my hair
- How to get my bike on a bus


I wear birkenstocks every day and give fashion a break for the summer.

I bike up and down and up and down and grow very strong indeed.

I swim / flail in the ocean in my blue bathing suit, and watch salt dry on my skin while squishing Rowan's cheeks. 

I try Aquafit!

The days are long now, and so is my fondness for all of you.

With all my love,

Your pen pal

Friday, June 24, 2016

Up Indian Arm

A few hours ago, I took the wedge of parmesan cheese from the fridge door, and unceremoniously took several toothy bites out of it. Because I was too tired to fix myself a proper snack, because nibbling would involve no dishes or knives or cutting boards to clean.
So, the parm we reserve for dusting on pasta is no longer a perfect triangle, and looks as though a gigantic mouse-shark hit pay day.

I was too tired-- a phrase that I, and he, and many around us have been saying lately.

We are limping towards the light, to that annual bit of sun and hope that the end of the school year brings. We are plum ready for respite, and maybe an adventure.

Until we can peel ourselves off the couch, or the bed, or the cabinet in the bathroom we sometimes sleep against, here is an adventure with a capital A we took one long weekend in May.


Let me start this off by saying that I am okay that we likely won't be doing much international travelling in our near future, so long as weekends like this are within our grasp.

It takes no effort, really. You call a guy about renting his canoe. You buy a watermelon. You meet your new beauty in all her muted sea-green glory, and name her Avocado. You strap her to the car.

You find yourself a husband who is awesome at camping meal planning, and name him Trip Captain. He looks into the details, and you insist on breakfast burritos and maple glazed doughnuts in Deep Cove.

You park, pile everything else you might need for the next 48hrs into the boat, and suddenly, you have left land for the wide, blue sea.

It turns out that your Trip Captain is also the powerhouse behind any movement Avocado is making, and you might as well be an ornamental mermaid at the bow of the boat. In your head though, you are a worthy contributor to the joint effort in getting the canoe to your stop for the evening, Twin Island. 
A mere 45 minutes from the marina, the island is a really sweet spot for for escaping from the hot scorch of the sun, and to break up your journey so that you can swim, read, tan, nap, set up camp, cook, and talk in the moonlight underneath the stars while eating dark chocolate, all with relative ease. Save the big paddle for tomorrow. 

(Later, you will find out that the paddling you have been doing on Day 1 amounts to lily dipping, and you redouble your efforts the next day so that your husband's arms do not fall off. Note: the boat moves much faster this way.)

You set off in the morning after a lovely sleep, even though you decide to keep your contacts in. (You will actually keep the same contacts in for a record-breaking two days, because rules of hygiene do not trump rules of efficiency in the wilderness. Your eyes will be dry like toast, but don't worry, you are a badass outdoors warrior now.)

Funny story.

You set out ahead of most of the other camper-canoers on the island, because they are hungover and a tad slow, and you are not.  You both paddle hard for a few hours, motivated to find the best camp spot up the coast. At some point, needing to pee and to eat lunch, Trip Captain and you decide to pull over on a rocky beach just past a waterfall. There haven't been a lot of parkable shoreline options until now, so everyone is very excited.

By this time, it is about 1pm. Really reasonable.

You make a couple awesome tuna wraps, hang out with a colony of ants, an abandoned cabin, and so many ferns from the dinosaur age. Trip Captain naps, and you read a book, and it gets later and later. At some point, after you've eaten a few berries and inspected the beautiful, wild foxglove growing languidly everywhere, he says it might be best to stay here for the night and not go any further up Indian Arm. He is concerned that heading to the actual campsite you've both earmarked will wipe out the energy reserves tonight, and that paddling back home in the morning with the potential of wind and tide will mean 18k of arm strength that he (understandably) doubts your lily limbs can handle. He doesn't say this in so many words. You do not agree.

And then somehow, you end up having one of those 'discussions' your marriage is infamous for, full of thoughtful concern for the other person, and very long pauses, and no one putting their foot down--meaning that no decisions get made, and the hours pass by so it's now 4pm, then 5pm, and every so often, you see in the distance canoes and kayaks floating past, and you worry that all the camp spots will be taken up, as you arrive-- with no dinner in your belly --sweaty and in the dark.

You don't want to stay here. It felt perfect for a lunch spot, but claustrophobic for a sleeping spot, and besides, the abandoned, falling down cabin gives you the heebie jeebies and you don't want to be the only two souls here when it gets dark.

But it is hard to say this irrational train of thought in the face of Trip Captain's reasoned logic about the tides turning against you in the morning, and the ease of staying here so you can get home swiftly.


In the end, your sadness and resignation that this potentially is the farthest you'll go up Indian Arm imprints on your face like a mopey bear, and as seeing you unhappy is your husband's most unliked thing, he throws all the shit back into the boat and you push off for the unknown, primary colors of a map that doesn't tell you much in the way of how close your next camping site is.

But lo! Behold! The freedom of leaving behind a cramped sliver of land for open water feels replenishing and hopeful indeed.

So much so that some bends later, a welcoming shoreline of other humans appears, and you both feel like idiots for marooning yourselves in Indecision for so long. You could have been on this very expansive beach for hours by now.

Oh well. No matter. You are now busy snarfing down watermelon, and being very smiley and smug that you were right and don't have to spend the night next to a haunted shack anymore.

Curry is made, supplies are hung up in a tree, and no one even really is bothered by the drunk party singing about hot dogs behind them. Sleep is easily attained, on account of all the actual paddling and the burn of accomplishment in your upper arms.

The final morning is foggy and deliciously so.

There is something very calming about a grey sky when you wake up outside, even when faced with some rain. Everything smells more earthy and anyway--your soul has forgotten about things like showering and furniture, and all is as it should be.

Breakfast is coconut milked oats with freshly picked salmon berries that Trip Captain has foraged. The colours bust open your eyeballs really wide. 

The way back is peace incarnate. You and he spy 17 seals between the two of you, 1 otter and hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of jelly fish. Your paddle glides in and out amidst their translucent, ebbing bodies. Eagles fly past, and their young hawks parachute down from the sky. 

Everything is like a Mary Oliver poem, or something.

All told, you paddle 12 km back in the direction of home. You've gotten used to the rhythm, and feel strong and able. Your skin turns brown, despite the cloud cover. 

The marina is ahead of you now, and other people on stand up paddle boards and kayaks begin to dot the horizon. It has just been the two of you for the past several hours, so it is a bit startling and maybe a little bittersweet to see civilization, and realize that your time as a guest of nature is drawing to a close.

You haul Avocado on the beach, unload, watch Trip Captain tie some knots. 

You put off turning your phone on for a while longer, relish in this stillness--

then ask to go for another doughnut.

You're a beaut, BC. Thanks for letting us live here.