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Canadian girl out and aboot



Canadian girl out and aboot - LiveJournal.com



Last Build Date: Wed, 05 Aug 2015 14:46:14 GMT

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Wed, 05 Aug 2015 14:46:14 GMT

One of the things that is weird about returning to LJ after being on Facebook so long is that I keep on looking for a like button so I can like all your posts.



What I watched the rest of July

Thu, 05 Aug 2010 22:50:22 GMT

Again, like I said, there have been few public posts around here lately. I'm writing a lot in a paper journal and have not been blogging as much.


Don't you forget about me- A documentary made by a group of filmmakers from Toronto, who go in search of the reclusive John Hughes. They interview lots of people associated with the work of John Hughes. This was a really sweet and interesting little film.

The Breakfast Club- I had to rewatch this since I've been reading a lot about John Hughes and watched "Don't you forget about me". This movie still holds up well, and the dialogue is great. I realized that I never realized that they were smoking pot when I first saw this movie as a kid. I thought they were smoking cigarettes.

Valentine's Day- I think I actually watched this movie in June, but what the hell. It was actually better/cuter than I expected. It was pretty damn dumb, but there were some cute parts and it was a decent piece of fluff. I love me a good rom-com.

Inception- Saw this on opening weekend with some friends. I really liked it, even though I missed a few plot points because I have trouble with action movies. But it was a good script, and visually stunning.

Baby Mama- I actually thought this was more interesting and funnier than I'd anticipated. It was neat to see a movie which dealt with infertility and female life issues and I liked both Tina Fey's acting and Amy Poehler's character. I even laughed out loud a couple of times, which is rare for me. However, I must say that I was disappointed by the ending of the movie and felt that the writers took the "safe" route.

Shaft- I thought this was amusing and I liked the style and some of Shaft's lines.

The Right Stuff- I picked this up off the shelf of the woman I was housesitting for. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I thought it was a fascinating movie. I learned a lot about the space program and really enjoyed the acting and the script.



What I watched in May, June and the start of July

Wed, 14 Jul 2010 17:37:33 GMT

I haven't been on the Internet as much, because I've been actually going outside. Also, my sleep counsellor cautioned me against using the Internet at night. So I've been drastically cutting down my Internet time, and it's made a huge difference for me.!

Still, here's what I've been watching.

Season 1 of Pushing Daisies
Season 2 of True Blood




1. Army of Darkness- I thought this was pretty funny, but it was the only one in the triology that I've seen. I will see the other ones though. So many great lines.

2. Babies- Mari and I went to see this in the theatre and I loved it. It was funny and cute and really shows how humans develop and how we're the same and different.

3. Sex and the Single Girl- A great movie based on Helen Gurley Brown's book and starring Natalie Wood. It was a funny, madcap and cute romantic comedy.

4. My Winnipeg- Guy Maddin's homage to his city, Winnipeg. This is REALLY artsy, but intriguing. I could probably make a similar movie about Saskatoon.

5. She's out of my league- Wow, this was pretty dumb. I wanted it to be more, but couldn't get into it.

6. Mean Streets- There's a reason why Taxi Driver and Raging Bull are great movies. Scorsese was just learning at this point.

7. Who's that knocking at my door?- Scorsese's first movie. There's a reason why you haven't heard of it.

8. Scoop- A cute movie starring Scarlett Johansson as a journalist who is investigating a tarot card killer, played by Hugh Jackman. I liked this movie more than I thought I would.

9. Eclipse (I know)- Load of crap, but I wanted to see it.

10. Pretty in Pink- Wow, Andrew McCarthy is a complete dick in this movie. I'll never understand this one.

11. Alice in Wonderland- This should have been called "story loosely based on Alice in Wonderland." I didn't like it.

12. Ferris Bueller's day off- I was surprised how well this movie stands up. However, the technology used in the film is DAMN funny.

13. Nick and Norah's infinite playlist- I liked it better the second time round.



Wedding invite for August 21,2010

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 22:39:14 GMT

Today I received a kick ass wedding invite from my friends Hanson and Danica. The wedding invite looks like a rock show poster, including a note about "doors opening", featuring, etc. It is seriously awesome.

The ceremony will be done in English and Cantonese and will be held at the Sun Yat Sen Chinese Classical garden in Vancouver. The reception is going to be held inside the main foyer of the Vancouver Public Library. On the 22nd, everyone is invited to a typical Chinese wedding banquet, which will feature the lucky 12 course Chinese meal, minus the sharkfin soup because of ecological concerns.

I can't wait!!!




Wed, 23 Jun 2010 01:26:08 GMT

I am reading a fantastic book called You couldn't ignore me if you tried . It's about the Brat Pack, 80s movies and John Hughes. I think it's going to inspire a little film fest over here :)



My friend's wedding

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 20:28:32 GMT

I attended my friend's wedding this weekend. This was pretty cool because it was the wedding of the first friend I ever picked by myself. I think we met at preschool when we were three. We lived in the same neighbourhood and were good friends throughout childhood. We stayed in touch over the years, even though we have not lived in the same city since we were 17.

I drove home to Saskatoon on Friday to go to the wedding on Saturday. It had rained really hard leading up to the wedding, but Saturday was blessed with good weather. The wedding was on an acreage outside of the city. I got to the site in good time, and met the groom and his parents who were waiting outside the house. I also got to chat with my friend's aunts and numerous relatives.

The ceremony was touching and personal. My friend wore her mom's refurbished wedding dress. The dress had been purchased in the 1970s and had a high neck and long sleeves. They removed the sleeves and neck and made a simple shift/slip dress using the original fabric. After the ceremony, which included personal vows, we drank champagne in the garden and mingled. There were only about 40 of us there.

The rest of us continue to mingle and ate appetizers while the immediate family had photos taken in the front yard. Later on, some of us (myself included) helped with the food preparation, mixing up salads that needed to be taken down to the dining tent set up on the lawn We then clustered inside a tent to eat food that was mainly prepared by the bride and groom! The day before the wedding, the bride and groom had made about 7 salads and a poached salmon with dill sauce. They also served roast beef and vietnamese salad rolls and three kinds of cheesecake, which were catered.

After the dinner, we sat around the bonfire and talked and people played Bocce Ball. It was a really a beautiful wedding, a great chance to visit, and a reminder that weddings don't need to cost an arm and a leg or be a huge, major production to be beautiful and meaningful.



U of C and equine hospital

Thu, 10 Jun 2010 18:00:04 GMT

I have not updated since the Alberta Farm Writers Tour last weekend. On day 2, we went to the University of Calgary veterinary school. I proceeded to get lost on the way there, but still managed to find it, which was pretty damn amazing. I am getting better at driving in Calgary. I've also come to the conclusion that I like Edmonton way better than Calgary. It is smaller, less corporate and artsier. Ah well.

Anyway, we got to talk to some of the staff at the U of C school and learn from one of the students too. One of the most interesting things we got to see were all the models used for learning. They had a stuffed dog who was hooked up to a computer. People could adjust his heart rate etc, so the vets would learn how to fix it. They also had a learning lab in which actors were hired to play owners etc. The vet students had to learn how to tell the owners that their cow was sick/dog was dying etc. These scenarios helped the would-be vets to develop some bedside manners and skills for dealing with owners and hysterical individuals.

We also saw some really cool models such as the model of a cow's backside, which could be attached to a uterus/cow reproductive system, so that the students could learn how to palpate a cow before practicing on a living model. I thought all the models were quite neat, and I've got pics of them to put up on my facebook and flickr, once I get around to it.

Following this, we went to Business Innovations, where we saw a software developed for equine vets. I wasn't too interested in the software, but we got a chance to tour the vet hospital and see a horse in surgery. The horse was completely knocked out on anasthetic.(sp). When they were done the surgery, hooks were used to move the horse off of his back and into a padded room, where he was allowed to wake up. It was really interesting.



What I watched in May

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 16:59:34 GMT



1. Duck Soup- This was in one of Roger Ebert's "Great movies" list, but I didn't write about it because I didn't really like it. This was my first Marx brothers movie. I like the puns, but I've recently decided that I'm not really one for slapstick.

2. Sophie's choice- Wow, what an amazing movie! I actually believed that Meryl Streep was Polish. This movie has incredible performances from Streep and Kevin Kline. It's the story of a troubled couple and their relationship with a friend. Very interesting and definitely worth watching.

3. Blue Gold- A documentary about water, based on the book by Maude Barlow. Interesting, but not amazing.

4. Paper Heart- This movie had some cute parts, but overall it was generally annoying. The love story between Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera was staged. This really bothers me, because the movie is billed as a documentary. I didn't like the format of this. I want to see a documentary or I want to see fiction. A blend of the two makes me angry.

4. Klute- Jane Fonda is a prostitute who helps a detective solve a story. I rolled my eyes at some of the plot points, but I loved the way this movie was shot and I thought the acting was pretty good. There were just some cliches in the plot that annoyed me.

5. Invention of Lying- I love the premise of this movie. Ricky Gervais is the only person in the world who is able to lie, while everyone around him has to offer their thoughts without censorship. This results in some rather interesting plot points, but then the whole thing falls apart. There was a lot of potential here because of the interesting premise, but it was squandered.

6. Brigadoon- Gene Kelly discovers a mysterious village in the Scottish highlands and falls in love with one of its inhabitants. Excellent singing and dance numbers. This basically has everything that a person could want in a good musical.

7. James Dean- This was a made for tv movie in which James Franco stars as James Dean. Franco's acting is quite good, and you get to learn a lot about the life of James Dean, which was quite troubled. I really enjoyed this one.

8. He loves me, he loves me not- This was a fantastic movie starring Audrey Tatou in an extremely creepy role as a woman who is obsessed with her neighbour. I wish more people had seen this movie, because it's very creepy and creative.

9. Crazy Heart- I thought that Jeff Bridges was good, but Maggie Gyllenhaal was miscast in this film. In my opinion, she was too young and too pretty to want to be involved with an old washed up, drunk country singer. I thought the script was interesting and the acting was good, but there were things about this film that rubbed me the wrong way.

10. Kitchen stories- A Norwegian film about Swedish men who sit in kitchens observing the habits of Norwegian men. This movie would have been more enjoyable if I'd understood more things about Swedish/Norwegian relationships. I missed a lot by my lack of knowledge.



Alberta Farm Writers' conference- Day 1

Sun, 06 Jun 2010 14:23:10 GMT

I spent last Thursday and Friday in Calgary at the Alberta Farm Writers Association conference. First off, I have to congratulate myself for my success in driving around Calgary. I still don't know the city that well, and in my mind, it is a big mess of urban sprawl. But I was able to drive around and only got lost once!

On Thursday, I drove myself to the hotel to meet up with the other farm writers. There were about 40 of us on the bus, and we took off the Cattleland, a feed yard with about 25,000 cattle. It had rained and snowed a lot, so the feedlot was kind of gross looking and the cattle were walking around in mud. They do a lot of fairly interesting experiments with private companies at Cattleland and we drove around the feedlot on a bus while the owner talked to us about what he does in his operation. It started to rain a bit during this portion, but we were warm and dry. From there, we went to Fieldstone fruit winery where we sampled 4 fruit wines and learned about fruit wine making. Apparently, you have to use 75% Alberta grown fruit in Alberta fruit wineries. This is to protect the Alberta industry and ensure that people are making Alberta made products. Some of the fruit wines were quite delicious. From there, we went to the Strathmore station, which was an old railway station converted to a restaurant. The food there was pretty great and the ambience was fun.

After that, we went to SemBios Systems, which is a biotech firm that is working on genetically modified organisms. They are making safflower plants that can produce insulin. This was a very scientific part of the tour and some of the info went over my head. We did get to look at lots of safflower cultures and bits of plants. We also toured their sister company, Botaneco, which is completely natural. This company extracts safflower oil for cosmetics and the product can be found in Burt's Bees and Spectrogel.

After this, we went back to the hotel for the banquet and got to listen to a speech and have a question and answer session with Ag Minister Jack Hayden. This was pretty interesting, and he's definitely a better speaker than the previous ag minister. The highlight of our meal was definitely the Vodka Caesar soup, which had a great tomatoey taste and was like a Caesar but in soup form. I would definitely have that again.

The whole day was a great opportunity for me to talk to other ag writers, network, meet new people and learn a whole lot of info. This year I will be going to my first Calgary Stampede, and I now know a lot of people on the ag media organizing committee. Networking with others really made this conference valuable for me. I'll write more about the second day of the conference in a bit.



Sylvan star cheese

Wed, 26 May 2010 14:28:31 GMT

Last week, I did a little trip out to Sylvan Star Cheese Sylvan Star Cheese . I'd heard a lot about this cheese, which is made in a small town just outside Red Deer. The man who makes the cheese is an immigrant from the Netherlands. He was a cheesemaker for 30 years before moving to Canada and then opened up shop when he moved with his family. The cheese has been so successful that John and his family were able to create a new cheese making place, complete with a great farm store and an educational room. The milk for the cheese is supplied by the farm's 140 Holsteins. I was not able to visit the farm, for food safety reasons. Generally, if a food manufacturer lets you go inside their plant, they won't let you go on the farm, in order to cut down on the possibility that you could contaminate their food.

The educational room is quite cool. John and his family are making a video about cheese making, so people who go to tours at the farm will be able to learn more about cheese without going into the actual facility. There is also a window in the educational room which will allow people to look directly onto the floor to watch people making cheese.

The cheese is made once or twice a week. Milk is brought up from the farm and then heat treated, not pasteurized. Live cultures are added and then the curds are pressed into molds. Eventually, the mixtures are dipped into brine (salt water) and then allowed to cure. The curing process takes A LONG time. Sylvan Star is known for their Grizzly gouda, which is aged up to a year. Old Grizzly is several years old. The cheeses cure on shelves. They are rotated daily and coated with a breathable wax, which must be applied every day. It's very labour intensive and takes a long time.

Before visiting Sylvan Star, I didn't know that lactose can be destroyed in cheese making. When cheese takes this long to make, the lactose goes away, which means that people who are lactose intolerant can eat this cheese.

Sylvan Star is known for their gouda, but they also make Gruyere and Edam. The Edam is cave aged. Everything must be completely controlled- temperature, humidity, light, etc. It's a very precise process.

Sylvan Star has won numerous awards for their cheese. They make about 20 kinds of cheese including a smoked gouda and various spiced goudas. I got some of the Grizzly and the smoked gouda to take home, and both of them were exquisite.



Bees and teens

Mon, 17 May 2010 17:24:46 GMT

I won a spot in a beekeeping workshop this weekend, so I spent most of the weekend hanging out there. The course was taught by a woman I know, and was held three blocks from my house at this yoga studio. I've walked by the space often and it's quite nice on the outside, so it was pretty exciting to get to go inside the space.

The workshop was pretty great. I had a good time interacting and talking with the other participants. One was a chef who just moved here from England and she is interested in making local cheeses. Another was a woman who had done 2 years teaching English in France, and was very interested in local food and sustainable communities. I really enjoyed visiting with everyone. I found that I do know quite a bit about bees, but there's still so much to learn! I've also started thinking more about beekeeping, and how I can become a beekeeper, eventually. It definitely won't be happening this year.

I did also learn that beekeeping is legal in the city of Calgary, but not in Edmonton (yet). I'm thinking that eventually, I might want to get some bees and put them out on a friend's farm. It's not like I don't know people with large areas of land in the province :) I also think I want to go and work at a beekeeper's at some point to get more experience.

Aside from my beekeeping workshop, I taught my teen writers group. We talked about submitting manuscripts and giving readings, and it was a very talky lesson. Our normal space was occupied by a group of people that looked a bit down and out. We moved to a room on the other side, and I told some of the people to send lost teenagers over to my room. One guy told me that it was a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. I've never run into one of them before, so it was pretty interesting just to see one.

I also told the teens that I won't be teaching the group next year, partially because I want to concentrate and work on my own fiction. I know that one of the kids was kind of sad about this, because we've really built up a bond and I could see it on her face when I announced it. I'm sad about this too. I hope she stays in touch with me. Some of the other teens will be turning 19, so they won't be able to take the program anyway.

I did try to make it a positive thing, and said that the new instructor might have interest or expertise in areas that I don't do. One of the kids said that it might be exciting to have a new instructor, but it has also been nice to work with me the past 2 years. I was pretty touched by this.

After my busy day, I went to the gym and pushed myself pretty hard. Then I came home, talked on the phone, watched some episodes of "Skins" on DVD, read and vegged. I ended up having one of the best sleeps that I've had in weeks. I've stepped up my scheduled exercise to four days a week, and intend to keep it this way. I definitely want to see if it affects my sleep and my ability to sleep.



A little sadness today

Sat, 15 May 2010 14:03:21 GMT

Yesterday I came home after dance class to find a message on my answering machine from my esthetician. I have been going to the same woman for the whole time I've lived in Edmonton. I get my brows and other waxing done at a spa near my house, but I have built up a relationship and a friendship with one woman there. I always requested her specifically and we'd talk a lot about our lives as she did my waxing. Well, she left a message on my phone to tell me that today (Saturday) is her last day at the spa. She is not going to another spa, but is moving on to something other than esthetics. She also said that she wanted to let me know that she was leaving, and to tell me that she has really enjoyed getting to know me over the past couple of years.

I was very touched by her phone call, but I feel sad that I'm not going to see her any more. I know this may seem weird or trivial, but you can build up a very personal relationship with someone who does your hair, or your waxing, or gives you massages or reiki. Fortunately, my mom called right afterward, and I was able to talk to her about my feelings. But I still feel a little sad today. I might buy some flowers and take them to her, since it's her last day today...



Dietary changes

Thu, 13 May 2010 16:01:00 GMT

Since April 26, I've made some massive changes to my diet. I'm calling this an experiment, and so far it is going extremely well. My decisions were based on a whole bunch of principles. Lately, a lot of my friends seem to be cutting out sugar, and getting on exercise plans. I've noticed a lot more health conscious behaviour among my friends and it seems to be catching. I was also inspired by the fact that I haven't felt good about my body in a long time. Between ages 30-33, I gained a lot of weight. It's not weighing more than bothers me; it's being squishier. I used to be very toned and I want to be that way again. I like being in good shape. I've always been a person who likes to exercise and who feels best when I'm exercizing. I have noticed this over the year. I stepped up my dance classes this year by taking 2 classes a week instead of one, and noticed a big change in my moods. I started making sure that I was exercising more, and it did make a big difference for me this winter. So I'm also ramping up my exercise. I've recently reduced the amount of meds that I've been taking and I've been trying to supplement and manage moods and tendency towards depression with other things. This includes focussing on diet and exercise and possibly working on more cognitive techniques. I might go back to yoga or meditation or something. I was also inspired because A and I watched all six episodes of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, which looked at eating in North America. My eating habits are golden compared to some of the people featured on the show, but I still wanted to examine what I was putting in my mouth.I think about food all the time. I read about food all the time, and talk about it all the time in my job. I think about eating habits, what we grow, what we produce and what's sustainable. I'm studying for my food security certificate, but my interst has led me to reading as much as I can about food. I know that I'm following a passion, because I continue to want to learn and read more and I keep on getting excited when I'm learning about food. I'm passionate and I'm following that passion! It's very exciting. As a result of reading, I started to think more about what I was eating lately.Another inspiration came from my dad. My dad has severe eczema and has had to go on an elimination diet. He realized that he had a sensitivity to gluten, quit it and lost a ton of weight. (It wasn't just gluten, he had to cut out a lot, but gluten was one of the major things.) So I started thinking about how much gluten I was eating. Dad advised me to cut it out completely, but I didn't want to go that far.I also got the idea from Mark Bittman's diet in "Food matters". He cut out a lot of processed foods and starches and was basically vegan until dinner, as he called it. He lost a lot of weight in the process. Other inspiration came from Rachel Cosgrove's book "The female body breakthrough."I hadn't paid attention to how much of my diet was actually comprised of carbs. On some days, I would eat a bagel (and fruit) for breakfast, a veggie burger with fruit and maybe something else for lunch, and then pasta with tomato sauce and cheese for supper. Yikes! I was also eating about a small block of cheese a week. This was mostly due to sheer laziness.So lately, here's what I did. I started eating breakfast again. Breakfast is fruit (I'm a fruit a holic and can't get enough), and usually some kind of whole grain porridge, like rolled oats, quinoa, etc. Sometimes I put yogurt in it, other times I put dates and soy milk. Since I've started eating breakfast again, I've noticed that my blood sugar fluctuates less. I recently read that people who skip breakfast tend to eat 40 per cent more during the day. I won't be skipping brea[...]



What I read in April

Mon, 10 May 2010 18:17:42 GMT

I've been reading a lot of poetry because I keep on meeting new poets. Surprisingly, I have not written more poetry, but I have been working on some fiction since I have more time lately.1. details from the edge of the village by Pierrette Requier- I love this book. It's a collection of poems about growing up as one of 11 children in a French family in northern Alberta. Very visceral with a great use of language. Funny, rich and delicious. 2. What is the What by David Eggers- This was a VERY difficult book for me to read. It's based on the true story of a man who lived through the Sudanese civil war and lived for years as a lost boy. Very difficult book that I struggled with, but I'm glad I read it.3. Travelling with Pomegranates- a mother and daughter story- by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor- I liked the sections where the two travelled to Greece, but I found this travel biography mostly unfulfilling. They were on some sort of spiritual quest, but I found the issues that they wrote about to be rather mundane.4. Vancouver Special by Charles Desmers- I loved this book, which was a collection of essays about various aspects of Vancouver. It was funny, true and will be enjoyable to anyone who has lived in the city.5. The Heights by Peter Hedges- Peter Hedges gets into the lives and heads of a bunch of families living in the Heights in New York. A domestic novel which is sort of interesting, but not mind blowing.6. Nice Recovery by Susan Juby- This book was great! It was the story of author Susan Juby, who was an alcoholic between the ages of 12-20. She talks about her experience as an alcoholic and in recovery, and then talks with young recovering addicts about how the system and recovery has changed. I'd recommend this to parents, teens and teachers.7. Too close to the falls a memoir- by Catherine Gildiner- The first memoir by Gildiner. She grew up close to Niagara Falls and went to work in her dad's drugstore when she was 4. She had a series of interesting adventures and experiences. This book was good, but I preferred its sequel.8. A free life by Ha Jin- This book was long! It told the story of a Chinese immigrant family and their experience becoming acculturated and acclimatized to the United States. The patriarch of the family struggles with his desire to be an intellectual and his responsibility to provide for his family. I'll be reading more Ha Jin for sure.9.Garlic and Sapphires- Ruth Reichl was the food critic for the New York Times. In this book, she details the 6 disguises she used to go review New York restaurants. This is a funny and interesting book, recommended for anyone who loves food and good writing.10. Planet Chicken by Hattie Ellis- This book talks about the growth of the chicken industry over time. I learned a lot about chickens and was somewhat disgusted by what I learned. However, the book is British, so some of the facts presented didn't apply to North America. 11. The Sportswriter by Richard Ford- I can understand why this book is considered a big deal, but it was damn hard for me to read because nothing much happens and it's mostly an internal monologue. I'll probably read more by Ford eventually.12. Apples to Oysters- by Margaret Webb- Margaret Webb is a food journalist who travels around Canada visiting farms in every province. This book is a great read and you'll learn a lot about farming and the foods of Canada. Fun and recommended.13. Country Driving by Peter Hessler- I didn't enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed Hessler's other two books. The book is divided into 3 sections; the Great Wall, life in a Chinese village, and life at a Chinese factory. My favourite section of the book was the section about living in a Chinese village. Some inter[...]



Workshop weekend

Mon, 10 May 2010 14:54:44 GMT

It seems that I am going to multiple workshops in May. This weekend was Edmonton media camp. It was the first one ever and was attended by about 180 people. The event was free and was held at the Shaw conference centre downtown. My friend Darrell drove down from Grande Prairie, so I got a chance to chat and hang out with him, which was cool.

The workshop was attended by numerous journalists, PR people, communications people, bloggers and all sorts of new media people. It started off with a panel discussion, then we jumped into the "unconference." I've never been to an "unconference" before, and think that the format could work well for other subjects. What happens is that people pitch their topics and write them down on big sheets of paper. Then these pitches are compiled into groups. So then you pick a topic that is of interest to you and go discuss it. I sat in on sessions about "creating a local food movement website", "how can we convince executives to use social media to market", and one on "change and new media." All interesting stuff. I met a lot of people and thought it was a good opportunity for media people and journalists and PR people to get together and learn from each other. We were encouraged to livetweet the event, so I did. All in all, it was a good event.

I spent most of last week being sick with a bad cold, which sucked. This is my first cold of 2010, and it's still going away. I wasn't able to go to dance class on Friday last week, but I should be able to go again tonight.

I also spent part of last week at the Alberta Agricultural Economists Association conference, which was highly academic.

In other good news, I won a spot at a beekeeping workshop! So I'll be spending part of next weekend learning how to take care of bees.



Brain dump

Tue, 04 May 2010 16:11:27 GMT

1. We are having a snow storm here! A major, icy snowstorm with freezing rain. It kind of sucks, but at least I don't have to drive anywhere today. I am very happy about that. Also, I'm not going to complain because we desperately need moisture in this part of the province.

2. I am not on the road as much, and that is awesome. In fact, I'm getting caught up on older stories and working from home a lot. This allowed me to do some submissions yesterday and get more of my writing out there. Also, when I did my taxes I found that I drove 13,062 km for work.

3. Yesterday I went to see my accountant. I told him I would meet with him in May so that he could deal with clients that would have to file before the deadline. I am expecting a refund, so I would not have to pay. I was very diligent about keeping my receipts and claiming expenses for my writing business and I think it's going to pay off. I feel somewhat intimidated during financial things so it was very cool to play with my accountant's dog during our meeting yesterday. The dog just loves me. She snuggled up to me while I was waiting, and then sat on my lap and gave me little kisses on my hand while we were talking to my return. Yay for dogs!

4. Got my invitation to my cousin's wedding. I have to figure out if I'm going to fly into Victoria or Vancouver and who will drive me out to White Rock. The wedding is out at an apple orchard! Her future husband's parents' own a U-pick operation and the reception and party is going to feature a barn dance, wiener roast and s'mores. Fun!



Permaculture Saturday

Mon, 03 May 2010 16:41:04 GMT

This Saturday, I went to the Edmonton Permaculture convergence, which was hosted at a local community hall. The day was supposed to give participants a taste of permaculture and only cost $35. I've heard of permaculture due to some of my food security courses and wanted to learn more.

Here's a brief definition Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in natural ecologies. It was developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and their associates during the 1970s in a series of publications.
The intent is that, by rapidly training individuals in a core set of design principles, those individuals can design their own environments and build increasingly self-sufficient human settlements — ones that reduce society's reliance on industrial systems of production and distribution that Mollison identified as fundamentally and systematically destroying Earth's ecosystems.


I am mainly interested in the food security components of the concept. I was expecting about 30 people to be in attendance, but I walked into a room of about 120 people! I ended up sitting at a table with the keynote speaker, who is known as The Urban Farmer . He conducts workshops on how to grow food in your backyard, and also hosts tours to Cuba to learn more about organic agriculture or permaculture in the country. I found out that there is funding available to handle the costs of one of these tours! I also talked to a landscape naturalizer, a dance artist who was creating a memorial garden, and lots of other interesting people. The sheer number of people was simply overwhelming, as I wasn't prepared for it, so I spent a lot of time listening to the other people around me.

There were sessions on backyard chickens, keeping and maintaining bees, food projects and gardening in schools, picking fruit trees for urban backyards and creating eco-sustainable communities. All in all, it was a very informative day.

I should also mention that there was a potluck and everyone had to bring a food item, clearly labelled with ingredients. As a nut allergic person, I can't say how much I appreciated this! I'm going to ask for this at any event that I organize. Anyway, the food was phenomenal. I had some cold soba sesame noodles and spent part of yesterday looking for the recipe so I can duplicate it at home.



What I watched in April

Sun, 02 May 2010 15:53:19 GMT



1. The Lovely Bones- I watched this on the plane. It was... okay. The main character was good and Stanley Tucci was downright creepy. However, I still preferred the book and felt that Mark Wahlberg was somewhat miscast, even though he can actually act.

2.Hot Tub Time Machine- I wanted this movie to be a lot better than it actually was. Some parts of it were funny and I loved Lizzy Kaplan and the homage to Sixteen Candles. Still, I wanted more.

3. This is it- If you're a fan of choreographed dancing, you should watch this! It's a good movie about Michael Jackson's final tour and the planning of it. Some amazing dancing. I was impressed to see how humble and kind MJ was. He was a real professional.

4. Adam- I liked this movie. It was about the relationship between a high functioning Asperger's dude and a children's illustrator. Both Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne were good and beautiful. It was somewhat unfulfilling, but still an interesting story.

5. Whip It ! I LOVED this film. Great cast, funny and feminist! This was a lot of fun.

6. Sold out, a Threevening with Kevin Smith- I actually really like Kevin Smith's talky movies. This one features a story about when his dachschund went into heat. I was amused.

7. The Blind Side- Better than I expected. Sandra Bullock really made this movie.

8. The September Issue- a documentary about the September Issue of Vogue magazine. Anna Wintour is a bitch, some of the women who work at the mag are interesting, and my dad fell asleep while watching this.

9. Broken Embraces- A great Aldmodovar film. This one was quite Hitchcockian and I really liked it. I love Almodovar's use of colour and the shots he sets up.

10. Our Daily Bread- This is pretty much like a Baraka about agriculture. There are no words or narrative; it's just shots of people working in industrial agriculture, and then eating their lunches at work. Very interesting and disturbing. You have to be in the right mood to watch it.

11. Showboat- This was on Turner Classic movies, so I watched it. My favourite person in this was Ava Gardner, as I didn't care for the main character's singing voice. This is definitely not my favourite musical.

12. Max Manus- A Norwegian film about saboteur and resistance fighter Max Manus. There was some good stuff about this movie, but also a lot of flaws.

13. The Killing Fields- I did learn some things about the Killing Fields and the Cambodian genocide, but I was also very tired when I was watching this and fell asleep for a little while so I can't really give an accurate account of this film.



Update

Tue, 27 Apr 2010 16:51:33 GMT

I was in Calgary for five days this past weekend. I managed to do a lot of work, and a little bit of socializing. A and I were good Calgary tourists. I finally made it to the Glenbow museum , which is both an art and history museum. It was pretty darn great, except that we got museum-ed out and didn't see the whole thing.

I personally really liked the Alberta mavericks exhibit, the Asian art exhibit (duh) and the Kent Monkman exhibit. The Monkman was over the top and risque and portrayed with the stereotypes of native people in art and cinema. It also inserted tropes about gay culture into the art.

The next day, A and I went to the Crossroads market to meet up with two of my friends from university and their amazing 3-year-old daughter. She was wonderfully chatty once she warmed up to us, and was generally just a really nice and sweet girl. I haven't seen her since she was about 6 months old, so she was quite a treat.

I'm back in Edmonton for a while, which is nice. Last night I went to a dinner hosted by my publishers. My publishers are putting out 10 books of poetry instead of their usual 4, so they invited all their past Edmonton authors to come out and meet the new poets. Tonight they'll be hosting the actual launch of the new books. Should be fun.

In other news, I'm embarking on what I'm calling "a lifestyle change." I'm going to start eating better and doing some strength training. At least, that's what I'm planning to do. I want to be healthier and more toned. So my diet will include more whole grains, and less processed foods, less wheat, and less cheese and junk. I am looking into the strength training based on what (image) vestra has told me about the program she has been doing based on a book called "The Female Body breakthrough", which I read yesterday. So it's just all starting slowly so that I can adapt to everything, but I'm kind of excited about it all.



What I read in March

Sun, 18 Apr 2010 16:26:14 GMT

Yeah, I know. It's the middle of April.1. Dramarama by E Lockhart- A fun, teen book about a girl who wants to be a musical theatre star and her adventures at summer camp. This was a great read.2. The amazing absorbing boy- by Rabindranath Maharaj- This book was lost on me. It was about a Trinadian boy obsessed with comic books who moves to Toronto. I really didn't like it, missed a lot of the references, and missed the Toronto connections.3. Lonely- learning to live with solitude by Emily White- One of the most powerful books that I have read so far this year. Emily White creates a book that is part memoir, part exploration of the human feeling of loneliness. She describes how loneliness is different than depression and how it must be our last taboo. Highly recommended.4. Toronto- The Edible City- edited by Christina Palassio- A collection of essays about Toronto's food and food security. Some chapters were better than others. Some chapters were of limited interest to me.5. Indigo Springs by Alyx Dellamonica- planetalyx's book! I look forward to reading the second one.6. The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis- A satire on the Canadian parliamentary system. Some parts were funny, but I lost interest near the end. 6. Me Myself and Ike by KL Denman- A teen novel about a teen who suffers from schizophrenia. Interesting look at what it's like to be in a schizophrenic head, but the ending disappointed.7. Friends with benefit by Darren Barefoot- A friend's book about social marketing. Some parts were useful to me, but I basically read it because I knew the authors.8. The Stepsure Letters by Thomas McCulloch- Read for www.roughingitinthebooks.com9. Raymond Carver- a writer's life by Carol Sklenicka- A pretty thorough but brutal examination of Carver's life. I found it pretty interesting, but it was LONG. It did give you a good background into some of the incidents that inspired his stories.10. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby- I really liked this book! It was the story of a crazed music fan and his girlfriend, and a reclusive musician. I don't want to give away the plot, but it was fun and a good read.11. The Poker Bride, the first Chinese in the West by Christopher Corbett- The story of the Chinese arrival in the Western US. It started out interesting then got dreadfully boring.12. Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk- I wasn't expecting to like this book, and it took me a while to get into it. It's the story of a man who appears in a modern day mental institution in Spain. No one knows who he is, but he believes he is Christopher Columbus. The staff at the hospital, including one nurse named Consuela, try to find his identity. Some beautiful passages of writing in this book.13. Corked by Kathryn Borel Jr- A Canadian goes to France to visit some wineries with her father. They fight a lot. However, I did learn a few things about wine.14. After the Falls by Catherine Gildiner- I loved this book so much! It's a memoir of growing up in the United States in the 1960s. It's the story of a unconventional life, told with a lot of humour. Highly recommended.15. Earthgirl by Jennifer Cowan- A teen book about a young woman who becomes an environmentalist. I liked some of the themes, issues and the Toronto setting, but the ending sucked and there were some factors that grated.12 out of 15 books were written by Canadians[...]



Hello from Saskatoon!

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 15:25:20 GMT

Last week was pretty darn busy. I had my dance recital, which turned out to be awesome. One of the girls in our tribal number brought a big group of friends who ended up sitting in the front row. They were hooting and hollering during our number and we got more excited and danced even better. We got lots of compliments on our piece and my dance teacher even congratulated a group of us by saying, "How much did you guys rock?" It was great.
I danced well in both of my pieces and had a great time.

The day after that, I went to the doctor to renew some prescriptions and talk about this red spot I have under my eye. The patch developed last summer, and it took me a few months to clue in and realize that not all funky skin things are benign. So I went to the doctor and she gave me a prescription for some cream. Unfortunately, I had to wait at the doctor's for 2 hours, which sucked ass. Fortunately, I read almost a whole book while I was waiting.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday were filled with the Northlands Farm and Ranch show. The Edmonton Expo centre has been redone and was wonderfully designed. There are lots of spots for hanging out and relaxing in between seminars. I attended numerous agricultural seminars, worked my butt off, and got to hang out and read in between sessions.

I also attended a session for STARS air ambulance. The Cattle Feeders Association of Alberta has raised over $250,000 for STARS in the past 13 years. As a result of their huge donation, they got to have their logo put on one of the helicopters. STARS is a helicopter service that helps rural people. If there's an emergency, the STARS pilot, flight nurse and flight paramedic go get the person, and bring them to a hospital in one of the province's major centres. I admit that I thought this presentation would be kind of dull, but it was actually interesting and moving because many of the guys who attended had had some sort of experience or connection to STARS. One poor man had lost his granddaughter in an accident, and so he was really moved by the experience and started crying. However, he was comforted by some of the people there and it was quite beautiful, in a weird way.

Yesterday I hopped into my car and Fergus and I drove to Saskatoon. I'm returning him to my parents, who just got back from China. They also redid the house, and it looks completely different. Today I'm doing some work and then Mom and I are going to the bridal shop so I can go get fitted for my bridesmaid dress.



What I watched in March

Thu, 08 Apr 2010 00:29:25 GMT



Hump Day- I thought this movie was absolutely brilliant. It tells the story of 2 guys who decide to film themselves sleeping with each other in order to enter Seattle's amateur porn festival. Very realistic dialogue and brilliant story.

Last Train Home- a documentary about China's migrant workers, and their plight to get home for Chinese New Year's. This was a movie that was painful to watch, raw and honest. It was definitely a good one to watch if you want to learn more about the lives of factory workers in China.

Beauty and the Beast- The Jean Cocteau version of this is pretty great. It inspired the Disney version, and is visually great and creepy.

The Conqueror- John Wayne is Genghis Khan in this movie and tells the secret of how Khan joined the clans. It's horrifically bad and is frequently on the list of worst movies made.

Far from Heaven- This brilliant film depicts life in 1950s Connecticut. Dennis Quaid and Julianne Moore play a seemingly ideal couple who falls apart at the seams. I really loved this movie and thought the visuals and attention to detail were fantastic.

Couples' retreat- This movie should have been a lot more enjoyable because it had such a strong cast. It had a promising start, then it seemed like the writers went out for a coffee and handed the script over to someone else.

Shanghai Express- This movie stars Anna May Wong in her first "dragon lady" role, and Marlene Dietrich as Shanghai Lilly. It's about the intrigue that happens on a train across China. Very interesting film.

Bedlam- A Val Lewton movie about a mental asylum, starring Boris Karloff. This was one of the films that Scorsese made his cast watch as they prepared to film "Shutter Island." I like Lewton movies because they are quite creepy.

The Class- I wanted to like this movie more than I did. It was almost like a documentary about life in a rough, French school. However, I had a hard time getting excited about it.

The Informant!- Again, another movie that had great promise but fell flat. This was mostly the fault of the script, which just sort of meandered everywhere.

Every Little Step- A great documentary about the creation of "A Chorus Line." The documentary also follows new performers who are auditioning for a chorus line. Very interesting.

Good Hair- I was fascinated by Chris Rock's documentary about black women's hair. It was interesting, funny and sad and I learned a lot from watching it. I was still thinking about it several days later.

It's Complicated- I watched this on the plane and liked it a lot more than I expected to. Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were great, but it was also the feminism of the script and the smartness of the script and the situations that made it so enjoyable. I also enjoyed all the actors who played the smaller roles, like John Krasinski and Hunter Parrish.



The rest of my time in Toronto

Tue, 06 Apr 2010 16:58:36 GMT

The day after my reading, I went down to the Art Gallery of Ontario to look at the King Tut exhibit. This was a National Geographic exhibit and it was utterly fantastic. It opened with a short video narrated by Harrison Ford, and then you walked into an area where you could see some of the treasures of the pharaohs prior to King Tut. Then it went to the history of the discovery of the tomb, then a tour of various rooms of the tomb and some of the treasures found in the tomb. Following this, I toured some other galleries in the Art Gallery of Ontario and looked at works by the Group of 7, Henry Moore and other famous Canadian painters. I didn't see the whole museum as the museum is huge and I can only handle museums for about 2-3 hours.

Following this, I met up with (image) listersgirl, (image) sarcasma and (image) starfishchick and we went for dinner at Fresh, then a walk, and then a tour of Whole Foods because I had never been and enjoy grocery store tourism.

The next day, I took transit to the airport and hopped on the plane in record time. My flight was non-eventful, except for the fact that I was EXHAUSTED. I took a cab from the airport to my house, and ran to my last dance class. We practiced our tribal fusion piece and everyone was wearing their costumes. My costume is awesome, except I managed to snag my fishnet glove on my seashell bra during the practice. After dance class, I picked up Fergus from my friend Mari's house, and then picked up A from his bus.

The long weekend was pretty awesome- A and I watched movies all weekend, took Fergus for walks and went for Chinese food and dim sum.

Tonight is my dance recital. My friend was going to come see me dance, but her car is dead and she has no way of getting out to the recital, which is in a suburb. I'm pretty disappointed, but what can I do? It just seems to be a bad night for people. Perhaps next time.



Reading in Toronto

Thu, 01 Apr 2010 14:01:57 GMT

So I spent most of the morning hanging out with vestra, before getting ready to take off. It would take me about an hour to get to the Harbourfront, so I left early and then wandered up Bay street and looked at Nathan Phillips square and part of Queen St West before getting on the streetcar to get to Harbourfront. It might be the time of year, but I didn't see a lot of trees and green in Toronto. I also think it's weird that people bike in the downtown area without helmets. Seems that helmet wearing is law in Vancouver, but not in TO. I find it odd.Finally, I got down to Harbourfront, where I took pics of some of the waterfront. It was okay, but not as interesting as the Harbour in Vancouver. I was more excited to see some of the areas where they have the International Festival of Authors. After getting lost, I managed to find my way to the Pearl Harbourfront restaurant. I thought this was kind of a dumb name, until I got there and realized that we were having Chinese food! My comfort food! Deliciousness! There were a bunch of poets there and so I sat next to two very nice women and we ended up chatting all during the dinner and I had a good time meeting some of the poets and the judge. Most of the poets were teachers or publicists or media types of some sort, which was pretty interesting to me. After we were done eating, we wandered over to Harbourfront in a group. One thing that was weird was that most of the other writers said I "looked familiar" and asked if they had read with me before. Because I live in Edmonton and not Ontario, I was doubtful and had to negate them. It was kind of funny. There were a few people from Guelph, Hamilton and Windsor, but the majority of people were actually from TO. We were ushered into the Harbourfront room, and then 2 of us went backstage to use the greenroom bathroom and pick up some things. I got to sign the archive book, which was signed by all the authors that had gone to Harbourfront. So I got to sign a few pages after Sherman Alexie. (I squealed with excitement internally)Since I didn't know anyone in the audience (my friend was going to come but her neighbour/friend had a heart attack), I felt really awkward, so I was hiding backstage until the actual event. We read in alphabetical order, so I was 8th. I think I did a good reading, and a lot of people told me that they enjoyed my work. It was a very eclectic evening and there was a lot of different work read. People were nice and I ended up chatting to another poet and her friend in the line for the bar. However, after the entire event, we had to stand around to sign books, and I just ended up feeling very awkward because most people seemed to know a lot of other people, since they were from TO, and I am not. Still, it was interesting and I met a lot of neat people and it was fun to read in another city. They still didn't tell us who "WON" but said a short list would be announced in the next couple of days. Last year they picked 6 poets to come back and perform, so it will be neat if I get picked. I'm not going to think about it any more though. So to sum up- great reading, awkward standing around after. This is my weak point. I'm really good one on one or in small group situations, but I tend to feel a little awkward at parties or in large groups because I never know who to talk to.[...]



Hello from Toronto!

Wed, 31 Mar 2010 14:41:09 GMT

So I arrived last night at about 6. My day started pretty early because I had to drop Fergus off at Mari's. This was a bit like dropping a child off at daycare, and she pretty much had to assure me that he would be fine. Then I did a few more things before going to catch my sky shuttle. My sky shuttle journey was probably the most eventful part of the trip. I was seated behind this incredibly racist woman who kept on spouting her views to the bus driver, trying to get him to engage with her and agree with her racist ideas. The bus driver, who was a 33-year-old man originally from Egypt (he told her this when she asked), politely deflected and refuted all her racist claims. I didn't say anything, just watched the interaction. After she left, the bus driver was shaking his head with frustration and I just told him that he had done an incredible job by keeping his calm and deflecting her crusade with polite facts. It was pretty amazing, but crazy to witness.

The plane ride was fine and my arrival in TO was fine. I realized that I needed to eat something when I was staring at the list of connecting flights, wondering where I could find my luggage. Once I got everything, I was able to take the bus and subway and meet (image) listersgirl at the subway station. I'm now in the apartment belonging to (image) listersgirl and (image) vestra. It's incredibly cute.

Today I have to get ready for my reading, but don't have anything else planned. It will take me about an hour to get there, so I'll probably head down early and explore the waterfront a little.