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Posts tagged ‘Vancouver’

Sun-Induced Panic

I meant to blog before today, but, as you may have heard, we’ve got sun.


Summer’s arrival in the Pacific Northwest has been nothing short of slothful. Our friends from sunnier parts of the planet have probably had plenty of belly-aching fodder to add to their Vancouver jokes. After all, British Columbians do melodramatic very, very well.  But in case you mistake rain complaints as Vancouver’s unique bid for an Olympic sport, I’d like to present a case for:

sun-induced panic sprints.

It may not be among the list of London 2012 Games, but here in the Wet Western Coast of Canada, we run faster than a cheetah when we see a hint of sun. Quick! Everyone, drop what you’re doing! It’s HERE!

Read more

To a Greater Abnormal

Many of you know that earlier this year my hairdresser of 17 years announced she was moving. I didn’t think much of it, assuming it would be only a few minutes away.

Then she told me it was actually a few hours and a couple ferry rides away.

I admit, the word that came out of my mouth was… ahem, not so graceful. Not very PG. 

She laughed at my response. I’ll miss you too, she said.

It’s not just that, I countered. I can’t find another you!

Some of you women may understand me: haircuts, dyes, and styles involve a lot of trust between you the person doing them. You have to believe they aren’t going to make you look ugly, homeless, fatter, or older than you are.

And after awhile, the trust becomes personal. They get you through things. Events, birthdays, banquets, weddings, funerals, holidays, family gatherings… even illnesses (though I haven’t lost my hair from chemo, it’s composition has definitely changed and my hairdresser has helped me adapt).

Even if you don’t know your hairdresser that well, per se, you often leave them (at least a good one) with the sense that they saved your life in a way, and you can relax a little more the next time you go there. Read more

Coffee, Crisis, & Character: “How can we help?” vs. “What do you have?”

Up until Friday night, I thought of myself as a coffee snob.

Unfortunately – or fortunately – or something, the reverse is true. As in, I apparently know nothing about coffee.

I don’t have a burr grinder. I prefer dark roast from Starbucks. I sometimes grind the coffee ahead of time. I can’t describe texture, taste or blend.

As a proud Vancouverite, this won’t do.

The epiphany came during an extended family visit near Coeur D’Alene, ID. Some of my husband’s family are heavily involved in coffee growth in Ethiopia. When they asked what I wanted for breakfast, I said Americano, dark roast.

Why do you prefer dark roast? they asked.

Uh, I didn’t really have an answer. I think it’s because I like the bold taste.

They brought me something different, and of course, it was the best coffee I had ever tasted in my whole life.

I guess I need to take a course on coffee, I said.

No, no, they replied. Just check out Coffee Geek.

Read more

Good Sports, Sore Losers, and Why it Matters: RIP Rick Rypien

This post is dedicated to a fierce competitor and a lovable guy, former Canuck Rick Rypien. We’ll miss you, Ryp. We know you didn’t play for us anymore, but we will never forget your spirit. We all loved watching you take on guys who were a whole head taller than you! Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.

Five hours ago, the Stanley Cup was at my work.

No, no. I’m not kidding. I mean, the real thing was at my work.

You super-sleuths now know where I work, if you know the Cup’s schedule. I, sadly, was one of the few who did not know it was going to be there.

And of course, today is the first day of my four-week vacation.

I discovered the Cup’s presence early this afternoon when someone posted a picture on Facebook. Calling the direct line to my department, I asked a co-worker if it was gone.

“Sorry,” she said. “Only a half-hour window, I heard.”

Sigh. This is the plight of a true Canucks fan: never knowing – or not seizing – their half-hour window. Read more

British Columbia: ‘We Don’t Think That’s Funny’ (And Other Inspirations from “How to Be a Canadian”)

On Wednesday I wrote about a sadly unknown feisty woman in history.

Today, I write about a sadly unread great Canadian book. It’s not the great Canadian novel. Though, it may make you want to write the great Canadian novel.

No, this is your manual on How to Be A Canadian. As evidenced  by, ehrm, the title.

I bought this book ten years ago for my American husband. He wasn’t quite my husband yet. The prospect of moving to Canada from the greatest country in the world made his patriotic heart quiver with nervousness (as it should). But the Ferguson brothers description of what defines us (hint: Canadians are always defined by negation, as in, I am NOT American), unites us (see below), and makes us awesome (the ability to poke fun at every inch of our land, people and government), made David laugh and say, ‘ok, I might like it here.’ Read more

The Help, and a ‘Riot Ballet’?: Friday Picks for the Non-Compulsive Arts Enthusiast

In an effort to help us all have more time for summer – and for me to have time for my ‘work-in-progress’ that is pushing its way out – I’ve decided to condense Tuesday’s picks and Friday’s Reads into a single post on Fridays. I hope to bring you at least one great book and one great link each Friday.

Here’s what I’m excited about today:

1. The Help

Many of you have already heard me rave about The Help. I believe it the best book I’ve read in the past five years. It was recommended to me by my mother-in-law, a voracious reader and member of two book clubs. I love that she ‘previews’ books for me and passes on the best. Like most of you, I don’t have nearly enough time to read, so its nice to have a ‘filter’ for books worth a space carved in my jam-packed Mommy day.

If any of you have not read The Help yet, I highly recommend you do, compulsive reader or not. My favorite books are those who deal with substantive topics in a hopeful light. Kathryn Stockett’s novel about the lives of African-American maids in 1960’s Mississippi certainly does both. (for a synopsis, click on the ‘trailer’ link below). This story will make you laugh, cry, and cheer. Even a year after I first read it, the characters of Skeeter, Minny, and Aibileen are still impeccably vivid. Read more

Hockey, Art & the Vancouver Riots: Was it us? Was it the sport? And is there any chance it won’t happen again?

This weekend’s ‘Celebration of Light’ fireworks competition marked Vancouver’s biggest outdoor party since Game 7. Like the leaders of Oslo, Vancouver believed that continuing with annual outdoor events after catastrophe was worth the investment of trust in residents. Free societies should continue as free societies. Limiting freedom based on isolated events is counter-productive.

Not that Vancouver’s June 15th is truly comparable to Norway’s July 22nd.

June 15th, we did to ourselves. July 22nd was inflicted by a seriously disturbed individual.

The only commonality, really, is that incredibly sick feeling deep down inside.

Confession time, Vancouver: Were any of you holding your breath in the last 48 hours? Did you wonder if gut-wrenching images of our city would once again splatter the global media?

Yeah, me neither.

Now, if you were, I’m curious: why? Do you believe us a pack of senseless morons, ready for destruction at the first opportunity? Do you believe us to have such poor memories that the results of June 15th are already washed from our minds?

Many of my non-Vancouverite friends have asked me why the riots happened. That’s not really an issue I want to touch with a twenty-foot, aluminum-plated pole, sound-proof pole. Paid professionals will soon answer that question, and until they do, I’d like to keep my comments on ‘why’ to myself.

But I never believed, deep down, that it was ‘just us.’

Sure, our reputation is still tarnished. I talked with a friend last night who said she felt sheepish admitting her home city while talking with the locals on her vacation. Their response? “Oh. Vancouver. You take your hockey very seriously.”

Well, I guess that’s true.

But here’s my question: is that bad?

Several June-15th related comments have intrigued me.  One has recently protruded: the implication that, had our residents been more invested in arts than sports, the riots would never have happened. Sports increase emotional contagion. Arts decrease irrational behavior.

And, as Steven Stosny says, ’emotions are more contagious than any known virus.’

I have long found the arts to be soothing for my soul. I can not count the number of times I find myself at my piano, behind my guitar, or, sitting here writing, when my spirit feels crushed, depressed, or severely frustrated. The cathartic release brings a sense of peace afterwards. I am less irritated by my surroundings, more compassionate.

And I have yet to meet one person face-to-face who is actually proud of what happened in our city following Game 7. I have to believe that the majority, if not all, of our city, is willing to do whatever it takes that it doesn’t happen again. I certainly am. And if more attention to the arts would help us, that’s something I’m willing to pursue.

In other words, if its not ‘just us,’ that led to the riot, is it our past times?

Without delving into ridiculously cold scientific jargon or syrupy-sweet artsy-fartsy-ness, I asked the internet this question, and my extremely-talented pianist friend pointed me towards an interesting community called “Hill Strategies.”

According to Hill Strategies, arts education produces a host of emotionally intelligent traits:

– increased confidence;

– fewer emotional problems;

– better conflict-resolution skills;

– improved problem-solving skills;

– increased school abilities;

– increased social skills; and

– increased motivation to learn.

Impressive statistics. Persuasive enough to ask the question: are arts a healthier past-time than sports?

I’m not sure how to answer that. If you are, feel free to enlighten us. All I know is I feel a burst of meanness coming on, and I need to hang with Jillian Michaels and my hand weights for awhile.

See, for me, exercise endorphins are often far more anxiety-purging than the serotonin brain bath I receive from playing Clair de Lune.   So maybe its not that arts are healthier than sports. After all, could we not claim each of those above-listed effects of arts education for sports as well?

Perhaps, but then we need to make an important distinction.

I know some arts and music fans who have behaved just as obnoxiously as sports fans. Artists are notoriously moody, irritable creatures. We (yes, I’m one of them) often think our tastes are the best. We are quick to judge those who like things we don’t. We can be critical, finger-pointing, anal-retentive human beings.

Not always the healthiest behaviours, really. What happened to all that emotional intelligence I mentioned before?

But perhaps we should consider the benefits listed above apply to arts and sports participants, not their spectators.

Is that the problem, then? Should we only play sports and not watch it? Should we only draw and paint and write our own artistic creation, and not appreciate another?

Or, is it just that as spectators we have an inappropriate distance between ourselves and the thing we spectate? By watching someone else do something, are we somehow both too close and too far away from the thing we enjoy?

Some blame the riots on our over-identification with our hockey team. I’ve written about that before here. But if the healthiest benefits of our past times come when we fully participate, limiting our engagement may be exactly the opposite of what we need to do.

And, had we been more engaged with art than sport, maybe we would have rioted over that instead.

Arts spectators have rioted before. Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring caused quite a stir when it debuted in Paris in 1913. Wikipedia observes that the ballet’s “intensely rhythmic score and primitive scenario and choreography shocked the audience that was accustomed to the elegant conventions of classical ballet.” Indeed, Paris was not only shocked at the progressive content and style, they were deeply offended.  Thus began the most famous classical music riot to date.

Hmm. They rioted because they were offended.


What if that is our problem? What if all the destruction of six weeks ago – images that still lurk in my brain’s recesses – started because we were offended?

It’s possible. Everything about that night felt not right. Unfair, even. Shocking, to a city and a team that (gulp) expected to win.

Perhaps our issue, then, isn’t sports. Maybe, its getting offended.

I cringe inside. I’m not exactly the role model for handling offense with grace. But I want to be better. A lot of inappropriate, terrible things originate in offense. Again, we need only to look at Norway to see just how terrible. And, we need only look at any of our social media investments to see how inappropriate we can be when offended.

I’m not sure how to get better, exactly. But I know that part of it is starting to get behind the eyes of the person who offends. Perhaps there is some detail of his perspective, some narrative of her history, that invites me to compassion. Perhaps there is some merit to their perspective; to his likes or her dislikes.

And there is the great challenge: to learn to embrace those who think differently from us. If you’re interested, I urge you to pick something you never thought you’d like, something a friend or acquaintance enjoys, even something you might judge them for liking, and figure out if there’s anything there you find appealing. This isn’t about peer pressure. Peer pressure urges us to like something so we will fit in. Choosing to invest in a loved one’s hobby urges us to like something so others will fit in.

Helping others fit in. Hmm. Kind of the definition of a good host, eh, Vancouver?  We’ve done it before. We can do it again.

Your thoughts? I’d love to hear them.







Two Reasons to Pick Reading Over the Bachelorette

I have nothing against the Bachelorette. I have nothing against TV. And I won’t always blog about reading. But I found two links for Tuesday’s Pick-of-the-Week that may inspire us to pick up those dusty books sitting on our nightstand.

1)Vancouver is Awesome Book Club

I frequent this great website called Vancouver Is Awesome. They study, promote, and preserve Vancouver Arts and Culture, with a positive spin (from the Google profile). Something I really enjoy are the interviews with famous Vancouverites – ie. Ryan Reynolds, Michael J. Fox – on why their city is so great. I hope one day they add Joshua Jackson to that list of people, since, let’s face it, I’m still a Mighty Ducks fan at heart.  But this week I discovered a link on Vancouver is Awesome to their Vancouver Book Club. The club features local authors and subjects important to Vancouverites. This past week, they highlighted the book ‘Adventures in Solitude’ by Grant Lawrence in their secrets-to-taking-BC-Ferries post (fabulous on its own). So if you’re interested in supporting local authors/publishers, check out the rest of their list here.

2)Why Science Says Reading Fiction is Good for You

This one speaks for itself. My favorite part describes writing as a ‘co-conspiracy between reader and writer’ and ‘not just the writer’s creation.’ I love the idea of fiction as a collaboration between author and audience.

What do you guys think? Your favorite novels, are they a combination of effort on your part as well as the author’s? Or is it something you just consume? Let me know (and I will be much faster replying to comments on this one).

Tuesday’s Pick of the Week: Ode to Vancouver’s Rain

I know its not quite raining today, but you know that thing where we all spend our lives complaining about rain? Today it occurred to me that perhaps sun actually has a downside: it induces inescapable guilt. Yes, I said guilt. Because if I spot the sun and in a true-Vancouverite-panic, rush my kids outside to soak up every last minute because, who knows, it might not return for a year or something, Read more

Why The World Needs Strong Women, and Why Kate Hudson Would Have Made Me Jealous Six Years Ago

As many of you have heard, both Kate Hudson and Victoria Beckham welcomed babies this morning – a boy and a girl, respectively. I offer them both my congratulations and my condolences. Babies are always good news, hence congratulations, but I can not imagine what it would be like to have your baby’s arrival be announced to the whole world, hence, my condolences. Anyhow, that’s for another post, something like Why I’m Grateful that I’m Not a Celebrity, or 10,001 Reasons to Stay As Obscure As Possible. But the news Read more

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