Category Archives: Family

Snow in Vancouver

Snow on the palm trees!
Snow on the palm trees!

So we arrived in Vancouver for a two-week visit to the westcoast and found it snowy. Luckily it has mostly melted, so we can continue our tour: the city, Maple Ridge, Mission, Seattle, and Victoria.

Unicorn and dino in the audience of a mummers play
Unicorn and dino in the audience of a solstice mummers play

On Dec 21 there is always a big multi-site solstice celebration in Vancouver, which is one of my favourite events.  Professor Banjo and Hot Pluto Jazz trio played, and the grand finale was Urban Haida drum group accompanying fire dance.  Perhaps 2017 will be the year I put together my hula hoop and acro-yoga skills and take up fire dancing.

MyY solstice favourite, the outdoor (shirtless!) fire dance
My solstice favourite, the outdoor (shirtless!) fire dance

Graham and I also took his parents and our youngest nieces on a tour of the Fraser Valley Eco Dairy. We learned about their bio-digester and methane fuel/compost production, as well as animal husbandry. Linnea was really interested in the robotic milker, and Jasmine was brave enough to let a cow lick her with a long, scrapey tongue.

A visit to the EcoDairy in Abbotsford with nieces!
A visit to the EcoDairy in Abbotsford with nieces!

A tale of two thrifties

I bought this all-wool grandpa workjacket for $10, then I hipstered down to the farmers' market and bought this pumpkin.
I bought this all-wool grandpa work jacket for $10, then I hipstered on down to the farmers’ market and bought this pumpkin.

The first time I remember going to a thrift store was with my Mum and my Nana, the summer I was 4 (or so.) It was at a St Vincent de Paul in Langford on Vancouver Island, and was a favourite of my Nana’s to visit after grocery shopping in town. We looked through the varied array of items for treasures, tried on outlandish things and things we’d actually buy, and generally had a good laugh together.

The little pumpkin went to hang out with his friends: $10 table painted apple green; once-flowered lamp spray-painted black; Fish aquarium skull spray-painted black

Value Village was a mainstay not just for halloween (though it was that), but also to get clothing allowance to go a little further and to get something no one else had. I thank my lucky stars I was a teenager during the 90s, when thrift shopping made you THE COOLEST (especially since I would have done it anyway, even if it wasn’t cool). Also thank goodness that my Mum was not alarmed by the outlandish fashion sense of my cross-dressing, african-headscarf wearing teenage self. I have had great thrifting outings with my high school buddies and my Mum; I’ve learned some great ideas for thrifted fabric and how to use ‘all parts of the sweater’ from Margot and Anita, all with the ethos of ‘waste not want not’ and ‘frugal is smart’. I loved thrift shopping in Sweden and got tons of cool stuff, like our Swedish sofa/chair and the boots and jacket seen here.

Tweed grampa blazer and lined leather boots from Erikshjlalpen
Tweed grampa blazer and lined leather boots from Erikshjlalpen

I haven’t been thrifting with Mum for a long time, but occasionally she and Graham’s mom Bernie get together and go to ‘the boutiques’. Favourites are the women’s shelter coop in Mission, and the Mennonite Community Council Store in Abbotsford. They seem to have a blast, and much of the awesome hand-made ceramics in my cupboard are fruits of Mum’s searches.

A doily stretched over a frame for earrings and such
A doily stretched over a frame for earrings and such. It’s not just storage, it’s art!

In the internet age, one can engage in ‘online thrifting communities’ to find out what your local thrift shop has in stock, ‘hunting trophy’ blogs where people show the coolest things in thrift stores like this one in Sweden, and blogs all about how to repurpose old stuff.  I have been doing some thrift shopping lately, showing a grad student where to get furniture and housewares and getting a few things for the new apartment. I have even prepared a ‘refashion’ of my own for your enjoyment:

DIY how-to for a wool cushion cover

We don’t call them Cosby sweaters anymore, just ugly sweaters, after infamous comedian Bill Ugly.
It had 10 minutes of life as an all-shetland-wool ugly-sweater-vest!
Three quick seams on the sewing machine and stuff with a pillow
Now living in texture-harmony with the Norwegian reindeer skin


$30 side table with storage inside. It might be the world’s highest piano bench? $2 ceramic plant pot on top.

So, the ‘two thrifties’ in the title could be Mum and Nana, me and Mum, or Mum and Bernie (the common person in all these pairs being Mum). I’m glad to have learned to avoid waste and to find utility in used things, it is a good value to have and I think I am better for it.

Here’s to you on your birthday mom: they don’t make ’em like they used to!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Elizabeth birthday visits


Sibling smiles with deer in the background


I didn’t think I’d be back in Victoria so soon, but when the new owners of the apartment requested it in the first week of September, I ended up traveling to Vic and Van about a month after my last visit. The main impetus for the visit was bringing furniture from Vancouver to Elizabeth and Erik in Victoria, but it also happened to occur on Elizabeth’s birthday. Bonus! We played badminton with Elizabeth’s new birthday kit, saw the utterly ridiculous Sausage Party movie, did yoga, hung out, and ate great food.  Not much prose here, so enjoy the photos!

Local Victoria deer eating up the gardens
Elizabeth in the Township kitchen where she bakes up a storm each day
Birthday breakfast mimosas with fresh squeezed orange juice and Vueve Cliquot.
David and Elizabeth enjoying the new counter stools
The new furniture filiing in the living room
The new furniture filiing in the living room

Emptying Hemlock House

All cleared out!

So Hemlock House is now owned by some new residents. These folks wanted it less than a month after they made the offer, shortly after labour day weekend (today!). Graham was racing in Quebec, so I went back to empty it out and get it ready for the next folks.

There was some visiting too! Family and friends helped out.


Empty apartment selfie on the last day with Dad and David


I was really REALLY lucky to have a lot of help and support. Thanks so much to Bernie and Tom, Mom and especially Dad who made 2 trips into the city, Jordan (aho also made two trips to clear out furniture!), Raynn-Beau and Adam who took the bulk of the heavy kitchen items. Biggest thanks to David, who not only packed and cleared out, but also drove the UHAUL moving van  full of furniture to Victoria for Elizabeth. It actually turned into a pretty fun weekend, all things considered!

Don’t forget the bike and the storage locker! There was so much to do upstairs, I was a little afraid I’d get distracted and forget the basement storage locker. Not pictured: the dank spider breeding facility that was the storage locker.


What if you have a bunch of ceramic stuff and no packing paper? If it’s Thursday, you hit up a Georgia Straight news box.


When you clean out a fridge and kitchen, there is a LOT of recycling to be done.


The piles of stuff were amazing. I think each box must have been shuffled and moved at least 4 times.


Dad taking a break from loading and packing


Cupboards cleared and cleaned. Teapot was the last thing to get used and packed.


What does an apartment look like after you’ve cleared it all out? I left some mercy toilet paper for the new folks who may need to ‘go’ before they unpack.


David helped out with the final clear-out


Bed frame disassembly – getting closer!

Farewell Hemlock House! It was a good little apartment and we had a lot of good times and fun parties there. We’ll be back for X-mas, and have already found airbnb new hemlock house across the street. It even has a pine outside the window (maybe a certain raccoon lives there now?)

I will miss this view.      🙁


Word of the Day

Saudade is a Brazilian Portuguese word for a sad but sweet nostalgia.  Thievery corporation has a bossa nova song to articulate the feeling. So apt(artment)!


Elizabeth visits

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!

Some gardening
Some gardening in Elizabeth’s front flower beds

In August I went to visit Elizabeth, and now we can look back and remember how much fun it was. It was a great trip; we went on some forest walks and visited the sea, did some gardening and harvesting and cooking, and mostly some hanging out and visiting.

Mom with a new outfit
Mom with a new outfit
No Vic trip is complete without a trip to Township! Elizabeth with Mom and Dad walking to the coffee shop

And now for the Pizza party! Elizabeth harvested some figs from her backyard and dried them, then she and Erik assembled a supa-boss pizza, better than any 1986 cardboard game:

Elizabeth and Dad enjoying the results
Pizza party, staring: this fig pizza!
Erik also liked the pizza
Erik also liked the pizza

New Homestead

Casa de Einarson, Courtney/Comox 2016

My first stop on Vancouver Island was Courtney to visit the Einarsons new place. All the kids were coming back for a summer visit, and I dropped in for a few of those days. It was beautiful!

A former neighbour had a rabbit farm, and during the ‘great bunny incident’ they were freed and their progeny comprise a self-sustaining bunny population in the neighbourhood. These dudes are EVERYWHERE.

After my Mom and Dad moved off of Thornhill, I still visited semi-regularly to see the Einarsons. It was nice to stop in and see everyone at Christmas, and also nice to visit the goat farm in the country. They moved at the end of last year, and I was delighted to go see them at their new place.

Leif and Katja in the Gazebo. We had a few glasses of wine and a game of Catan out here.

The new homestead is beautiful. This part of the Island is so lovely, with tall mountains, lush valleys, and ocean never far away. The area was settled by Europeans for farming, and I saw wheat being combined there on July 30 (early compared to sK). You can buy pasta made with local durum.

The backyard has a series of patios, with a gazebo, fire pit, and patio. There is also a substantial frog pond full of monsters.

We took a walk down to the stony beach where we flipped over ricks to see crabs scuttle away. We caught frogs in the pond, chased bunnies, and had some outstanding dinners. I look forward to another visit in the future.

Leif, Auntie Jordan, Katja, and Jerry the Bullfrog

Old Homestead

Ladies at Goldstream
Ladies at Goldstream

Mom grew up spending summertime at the cabin with Nanna and Pop and her five brothers. It is a beautiful spot, on the waterfront of the Finlayson arm nestled between Mt Finlayson and the Malahat in a little shake and shingle cabin. It was sold a long time ago, but the road to get there drives through Goldstream Provincial Park, which anyone can go and visit.

Mt Finlayson, home of the mysterious moving stairs
Mt Finlayson, home of the mysterious moving stairs

We went during my last visit to the island, and looked down Finlayson arm with the tide out from the vantagepoint of the Goldstream nature house.  Everything looks a little smaller now.

Awesome green forest
Awesome green forest

I remember the Halls Marina (undoubtedly a different name now) being soooooo far away. It is a good place and it was nice to go back.

The view to Halls
The view to Halls

Tour de Van Isle

Kitty Coleman Beach in 'greater Courtney'
Kitty Coleman Beach in ‘greater Courtney’

I just got back from a week in BC, complete with visits to Courtney/Comox, Victoria, and Vancouver. There was lots to see and do, and during this time I spent very little time at the computer or on email. …and Nothing burnt down! Good to know.  More posts on the specific visits later, but for now enjoy these general seaside shots.

The Schwartz Bay to Tsawassen ferry is a pretty nice trip, especially when you aren’t used to seeing the ocean and islands all the time.  In this part you can see Mount Baker
Mom and Dad go for a walk on deck
Mom and I sat on deck through Active Pass. Cover your ears for the horn!


Zen Koan: Happy Birthday David!

Keep reaching

This is year of the monkey, David’s astrological sign in the Chinese zodiac. This 4″ x 4″ painting depicts a zen koan David told in one of his yoga classes.

A monk was walking through the forest when he encountered a tiger. The tiger started chasing him and he ran over a cliff, catching a vine on his way down. He clung to the vine as he looked up at the tiger swatting at him from above, and he noticed a little mouse nibbling at the top of the vine and fraying it. As he looked up he also noticed a bright red strawberry. He plucked it and ate it, and it was the sweetest and tastiest strawberry he had ever had.

Like most zen koans thee are lots of interpretations, but I like this one: since everything is impermanent and situations are rarely ideal, we need to seek out and enjoy the strawberries when and where we find them.
Thanks for being a guru and a great brother!

Sweet chariot

front view
Front view of the new ride

Mom and Dad got a new car! Their 1998 Ford Explorer was getting a bit tired and they were looking for an upgrade. They had driven that guy (and his smaller 2-door brother) for a long time, but now it is someone else’s turn to drive ‘ol’ whitey’. The upgrade is a newer Lincoln Navigator, so at a glance it looks similar but it has a sun roof and backseat climate controls and electric everything. They gave me a ride when I was in Vancouver and it has a nice leather interior too! Apparently Dad has been reading through the owner’s manual to figure it all out, so the next time I see them they’ll be flying it to space ports and sending it out on self-driving trips to Costco.

They look to be enjoying it!
nice upgrade