Saturday, June 16, 2007

what would you take?

I have sometimes been asked and sometimes asked myself the question "what would you take if you had to leave your house suddenly because of a fire?. Yes my passport, yes my laptop - things that would make it easy to start again.

But the one thing I would definitely take is my recipe book.

You see, my life is contained in the small photograph album stuffed to overflowing with paper.

My mom made me my recipe book as a leaving home present. She got one of those photo albums that hold a picture on the top page and bottom page in a clear plastic sleeve. She went through her recipe book (made for her by her mom, my nanna) and copied out some of the favorite family recipes: Nanna's peanut butter crinkle cookies, the Koyl chocolate cake (eaten at countless family gatherings and my brother's favorite birthday cake), a bread recipe I'd given her back when I was learning to bake. She filled the empty slots with more recipe cards. I quickly filled a number of those cards in an excited frenzy, delighted to be cooking for my newly launched self and the friends that came to share my table.

Years later, the book is stuffed with bits and pieces of paper holding various recipes. But the recipes are really incidental; these papers hold my memories. The recipe for corned beef hash, very carefully set out in my dad's notoriously unreadable handwriting. We have had corned beef hash, made by my dad, as Christmas breakfast for as far back as I can remember. My handwriting setting out how to make hot roast beef sandwiches, scribbled on a bit of a telephone pad as I jotted down the instructions from a long distance telelphone call made to my mom. A recipe for scones in the hand of an old boyfriend. My recipe for brownies, brought home from a year spent living in New Zealand. The recipe for Wendy Anthony's famous cookies (secret ingredient: almond essence). Arising out of a discussion about drinks held in the university student lounge, a recipe for Chai scratched on the back of a bank receipt by a friend who had recently returned from spending a year in India (she included the hindi script for chai at the top of the recipe). My best friend's recipe for carrot cake. I've never made that recipe, but it reminds me of her wedding where I was her maid of honour at an outdoor wedding in the freezing cold of early March - they had carrot cake as their wedding cake. A sheet of paper in my mom's handwriting describing how to can peaches. My sister in law's recipe for granola, given to me the summer after she married my brother and requested because of a lovely breakfast spent out on their garden deck eating granola, yoghurt and blueberries harvested from their bushes.

The recipes help me cook the food,but they are far more than mere tools. The handwriting, the memories the recipes invoke: they are the pictures of my soul.


I want to beg you as much as you can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within yourself the possibility of shaping and forming as a particularly happy and pure way of living; train yourself to it - but take whatever comes with great trust, and if only it comes out of your own will, out of some need of your innermost being, take it upon yourself and hate nothing.

Source: Letters to a Young Poet

Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, June 11, 2007


To live content with small means, to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich, to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never, in a word to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common, this is to be my symphony
- William Ellery Channing

Nine requisites for contented living:
Health enough to make work a pleasure. Wealth enough to support your needs. Strength enough to battle with difficulties and overcome them. Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them. Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished. Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor. Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others. Faith enough to make real the things of God. Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future
- Goethe

Saturday, May 26, 2007

St. Andrews

A quick blog update from Scotland. Susan and I went to St. Andrew's today to look around. Here's me peeking 'round the pier at St. Andrew's harbour.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

why indeed?

A must see video.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

easy directions from new york to paris

1. go to
2. click on "maps," above the search bar...
3. click on "get directions"
4. type "New York" in the first box (the "from" box)
5. type "Paris" in the second box (the "to" box)
6. click on "get directions"
6. scroll down to step #24

Monday, April 16, 2007


I really like these photos. Reminds me of summer times as a kid.

More posts soon. How about some Cuba pictures?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

legitimate reason for not posting...

It's kind of ironic to post to tell you that I'm not going to be posting for a while, as I've been super lame in the last couple of months, but I'm going to tell you anyway: the blog is going to be legimately silent for a week.


Because I'll be here:

Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 16, 2007


This Desert Land

Joseph Bayly

I said
this desert land is barren
void of life and beauty.
I drive for miles
see nothing
only sand and sage
feel nothing
only wind and heat
taste nothing
but spit dried spit.
He said
have you ever driven
in spring
through this same desert
seen blossoms flower
gorgeous wild?
It's all a thing of timing.
Seeds of beauty
are there now hidden
waiting fall of rain
to bring them life.
Lord send rain
upon my world
my life
I'm tired of dried spit.

Source: "A Psalm in Mojave Desert" from Psalms of My Life

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dear Scottish Friends

Dear Scottish Friends,

I love each and every one of you and you are very wonderful. But I really wish that you'd never told me that "pants" is a naughty thing to say in public. I can still see you cringing when I told you about my 'fancy pants' that I'd brought specially from Canada to wear to Christmas dinner. I recall how you looked at me in horror when, upon falling on Dun I, I loudly exclaimed that I had dirty wet pants. How when I told the nice bed and breakfast lady that I needed to wash my pants, she coloured up slightly. And when I told you that my pants were falling down because they were too big, you laughed.

Now that I'm back in Canada, everytime I mention my pants I cringe. When I hear others talking freely about their pants, I'm embarrassed on their behalf. The problem is, when I talk about my trousers, everyone looks at me blankly.

with love from your culturally appropriate friend,


are you a confused non-Scottish reader? Look here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

my sentiments (a bit too exactly)

Thanks for the awesome birthday present, Shan! You rock!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

flat as a pancake

Apparently they're going to re-inflate the roof again in the next couple of days, so I thought I'd post an inflated and uninflated view of the dome.

Monday, January 15, 2007

next day on the hills

Kent, Karen and I in the fading light (oh the joys of self portraits! Misaligned photos and camera shadows in the face (see Bobbi's face in the last post)

pretty things

pictures to distract you from the lack of posts

Some moss - photo taken while hiking on Dec 27th on Mt. Work

An unstitched panorama of the Vancouver skyline, taken from the Seawall on the south side of False Creek. Photos start from the west and end in the east. For anyone familar with Vancouver, look closely at the last picture. No BC Place Stadium roof!

Monday, January 08, 2007

a belated Happy New Year

A belated Happy New Year to everyone. I have been hibernating.

Posting a poem like this really is an act of faith at this time of year in this part of the world. Today the world is one colour: grey. I have memories of colours, memories even from this past weekend, but when it is grey outside, it is like my memories have become sepia toned and watered down. Maybe one day I will live someplace where it is mostly sunny. I love looking at these photos to inspire me about what my imaginary place might be like.

Why I Wake Early

Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety -

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light -
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Friday, December 22, 2006

singing of angels

Howard Thurman

There must be always
remaining in every life,
some place for the singing of angels.

Some place for that
which in itself
is breathless and

Old burdens become lighter
deep and ancient wounds
lose much of their old hurting.

Despite all the crassness of life,
all the hardness and
harsh discords,
life is saved by
the singing of angels.

Source: The Mood of Christmas, received from Inward/Outward

As we swing into Christmas, I'm hoping for you the lightening of burdens and ears to hear the singing.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

5 things

Mike tagged me with the 5 things-you-likely-don't-know about me meme. So with no further adieu:

1. I used to be a magician's assistant. Yes, really. I did the trick where I got locked in a box and magically changed places with the magician. No, I won't tell you how.

2. If I was only allowed to have one sweet thing in the world, I would without a doubt pick Purdy's dark chocolate covered ginger. You'll note that the link I gave you goes directly to the order page. Email me for my address if you want to shower me with chocolate ginger love. I once convinced the office manager at my last work place that we had emergency band aids, tylenol, tampons...but no chocolate. After that, she kept Purdy's dark chocolate covered ginger on hand. I kid you not.

3. I love striped socks. Sometimes when I get dressed for work on the days I am wearing boots, I'll put my fancy work clothes on and then wildly striped socks. It makes me happy to know they're there under my boots.

4. I can speak backwards almost fluently (well, not quite fluently - but quickly). My family all knows their names backwards. When I first met my best friend, I introduced myself as Asil and she came right back at me with her name backwards. I knew I could love her right away.

5. I was once totally convinced that my dad could make rocks by pressing sand together in his hands. I'm not going to tell you how long I believed this - well, okay - 10 years old (maybe older?). The thing that totally tricked me is that he "couldn't" do it all the time - only when he was "feeling strong enough". Yes, I believed in Santa Claus for a long time too.

I'm tagging Claire, Richard, Bobbi, Mel, and Julio. Let me know in the comments when you post your 5 things.

free money!

It's killing me that there is free money over at Mike's and no one seems to be taking advantage of it.

There are matching donations for the next 49 donors (was 50, but I took one of the spaces) to the (red)emption campaign. Your $10 becomes $20.

I really like this campaign because I think most everyone has $10 bucks to give to AIDS work and I like that it's no strings attached, no consumerism involved. I know we all give to lots of different organizations with both time and money...and this is one of the organizations that rallies around us each being equal human beings. Please toss your $10 in the pot. (If that link doesn't work, go to Mike's and follow the pay pal link on the side bar)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Happy smiles

I got to hang with some friends the other day. Here is a picture of me and their awesome daughter.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Some of you may be aware of the Project (Red) campaign kicked off by Oprah et al about 2 months ago. It is essentially harnassing the power of consumerism to create some extra money for AIDS in Africa. Entirely worthy, but still focused on consumerism.

Two friends of mine have started the [Red]emption Campaign. Rather than spend $210 so that Apple (or another company) can donate $10 to AIDS work, just give the $10 without the purchase. It's a very cool campaign and they're almost half way to their goal of 1000 donations. All the money, every single penny of it, is being donated to the Steven Lewis Foundation. My understanding is that this foundation is doing some of the top AIDS work in the world.

Here is one of the links to the (Red)emption Campaign. Robert's words are well worth the read.

You can donate via the button on the side bar here. Yeah, it's only $10 bucks. Yeah, don't buy two fancy coffees. But the compelling things for me is this: I am not fully human, fully alive, if another of my fellow human beings is suffering. That's why I donated.

I'd be thrilled if you would (a) donate and (b) link to this on your blog. Oh yeah - there is a double your money thing going on right now. If you donate, there is a bunch of matching money that's been pledged. The Scottish part of me LOVES that if I give $10, there is a $20 impact (sorry lovely Scottish friends - I mean that as a compliment!)

goat resources

I'm getting a lot of hits these days from people looking for goats. More specifically, they're looking to purchase a goat on someone's behalf - someone who can actually use it.

For those that remember, this blog started because of a goat campaign. You can flash back here to see the origins of the blog. We set a goal of 10 goats and ended up with 35 goats.

We're not running a goat campaign this year - I'm supporting the (Red)demption campaign this year (more about that in a bit), but I thought I'd link to a few resources for those people that land here through searching for goats.

For Canadians: World Vision Canada
US: World Vision US
International: Oxfam with a specific gift link

That's just a small smattering. Hope it helps.

Monday, December 11, 2006

night prayer

I seek your presence, O God
not because I have managed to see clearly
or been true in all things this day,
not because I have succeeded in loving
or in reverencing those around me,
but because I want to see with clarity,
because I long to be true
and desire to love as I have been loved.
Renew my inner sight,
make fresh my longings to be true
and grant me the grace of loving this night
that I may end the day as I had hoped to live it,
that I may end this day restored to my deepest yearnings,
that I may end this day as I intend to live tomorrow,
as I intend to live tomorrow.

- Philip Newell Sounds of the Eternal, a celtic psalter. Taken from the Monday night prayer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

post Christmas party fullness

Back to more haiku writing to celebrate dinner at Nyala:

it is a good thing
to own and wear stretchy pants
no more food for days

okay, that was technically accurate (5:7:5), but lame. Let's try again:

laughter salts the food
stories of a dremel fire
I spit my beer out

Nope, still too light hearted for a stern and steady haiku but it does refer to a true story. One of my co-workers, a not particularly handy one, was telling about the flames that occurred - twice - when he was using another co-workers' dremel tool. Unfortunately, I had just taken a sip of my beer.

Okay, one last try:

freely flowing beer
no forks, only fingers
makes for lots of laughs

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I don't think diamonds are a girl's best friend

Here is a photo essay about diamond production, from earth to the jewelry shops. I've oft admired a sparkler, but the more I find out about who really pays for diamonds, the less pretty they seem.

Distressing, really.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

sunday snowshoeing

I got these kick ass snowshoes on Saturday, so I had to get back on the mountain on Sunday to try them out.

Here are two pics from Sunday:

an artsy fartsy shot of the snow:

Kent and Danny in front of Hollyburn Lodge:

Saturday, December 02, 2006

makin' tracks

Huge new snow

Dr. Seuss tree

The view from underneath

The crew

A Love Like That

A Love Like That - Hafiz

All this time
The sun never says to the earth,
"You owe
What happens
With a love like that.
It lights the

Source: The Gift

via inward/outward

Friday, December 01, 2006


"Perspective is a group sport"

Go have a read what Milt has to say today. On World AIDs Day, it's even more pertinent.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I'm melting!

Weather is changing and the snow is slowly starting to melt. Here is a picture from a couple of days ago:

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

snowing again!

I can't believe that we've now had snow on the ground for 5 days and it's snowing again. I'm really loving the snow. The weather forecast says its going to start raining, though, so that's no fun.

Going snow shoeing for the first time out this season. Cypress has had about 150 cm of snow in the last week. Pictures to come.

Monday, November 27, 2006

our big chill is everyone else's small potatoes

Okay, no more whining about it being cold. We've got no risk of anything except rosy cheeks. Ever wondered how long it takes exposed skin to freeze? here is a handy chart. Brrrrrrr!

remembering when things had colours other than white

The view from my office window last week:

You thought I was kidding?

My balcony at home:

Thermometre at home:

House on the way to work:

Someone who is comfortable with the cold:

Inner courtyard at the office:

Sunday, November 26, 2006

boil snow advisory

The boil water advisory is still in place, but I feel sure that tomorrow we'll be told it's now a boil snow advisory.

[EDIT: the boil water advisory was lifted. No boil snow advisory is in place, but it's always a good idea to avoid yellow snow.]

Argh. I had over a foot of snow on my car when I came back from the Island. It was too icy and snowy to even make it into the back alley, so I had to park on the street. I can't remember it ever snowing this early. Very beautiful, though.

Friday, November 24, 2006

question of the day

If someone has a mid-life crisis while playing hide & seek, does she automatically lose because she can't find herself?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

stupid body trick of the day

From an email I received this morning.

A little test to do at your desk..... How smart is your right foot?

This is so funny that it will boggle your mind. And you will keep trying it at least 50 more times to see if you can outsmart your foot. But you can't!!!

While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles with it.
Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction.

And there is nothing you can do about it.

Dammit - and I thought I had a smart right foot. I've always presumed it was the left one that was "a bit slow", but obviously I was wrong.

Monday, November 20, 2006

No, tell us what you really think...

In response to an email from a customer telling a company that they were cancelling the hire of a marquee for their upcoming wedding, an employee of a New Zealand company sent an email with the following comments: "Thanks for your reply. Your wedding sounded cheap, nasty and tacky anyway, so we only ever considered you time wasters." The email goes on from there - definitely read it to see the customer service fire bomb of the year.

The employee got fired. Weird twist: she's married to her employer. I wonder if they've put the ubiquitous tape line down the middle of the bed as well?

As if the whole incident wasn't bad enough, it's now hit the international media. And unless some trickster has faked up what seems to be a real company website, it seems that the whole thing is true.

Appalling, but really, what wouldn't you give every once and a while to tell a customer what you really thought?

equally weighting each moment

I've recently been thinking about life and living it in both the boring and exciting moments. Today's quote from Inward/Outward is a good one:

All Moments Are Key Moments

Frederick Buechner

"Taking your children to school and kissing your wife goodbye. Eating lunch with a friend. Trying to do a decent day's work. Hearing the rain patter against the window. There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it, always hiddenly, always leaving you room to recognize or not to recognize.... Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."

Source: Now and Then