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!

TV! Again


On Thursday I went downtown to the studio again  to speak about the ongoing study Walking away from chronic low back pain, and how walking can help with low back pain. Since farmers may have decreased access to hands-on care, a self-management intervention like walking can be particularly useful to them.
To view the segments, go to the Farmgate media site and pick the episode from October 29, 2016.  My collegue Debra Morgan’s segment starts at 12:20; mine is at 14:30.

Happy Halloween! 

Ironman with with very safe chest and hand lights  (safety points added).  Crap visibility through mask's eyeslits though (safety points deducted)
Ironman with with very safe chest and hand lights (safety points added). Crap visibility through mask’s eyeslits though (safety points deducted)

This statue of a running guys gets dressed up every year. Once it was optimus prime, which was a real favourite.



While I took next to no photos from the wedding in Toronto, I did take some photos at the Royal Ontario Museum. We saw the Chihuly exhibit, which included about a dozen massive illuminated blown-glass installations. Cool!






We also went to the first people’s exhibit and the Pacific Islands exhibit, as well as a special exhibit on the gender/sexuality fluidity of wakashu in samurai-era Japan. They have whole floors and wings we never got to see. If I lived in Toronto, I would absolutely get a year’s membership and go a bunch of times!

Graham with the 4-story totem, stolen with love from Haida Gwaii
Graham with the top of the 4-story totem, stolen with love from Haida Gwaii
Birch bark canoes, which look light and flexible enough to navigate some rocky rivers. I’d try one!

Since we were there on a weekend, there were some special events including a parade and interpretation of flags from Ghana, complete with singing and dancing.

Ghanian fabrics and song abound
This is a coffin from Ghana, where it is common to bury people in something symbolic of their life. The fisherman might get a massive ornate fish; a successful business man (or car guy) might commission this Mercedes.

Toronto Wedding

It’s been a while since we went to Leif and Christina’s wedding in Toronto.  This wedding was for our National Teammate Jason and his lovely bride Rebecca.  There has been a lot of travel this Summer and Fall so far, and more coming up.

Us with our friend Rommel and his wee daughter

As the wedding was approaching we realized we didn’t have appropriate outfits and also didn’t have a lot of time to figure that out.  Graham ended up ordering a custom suit online,  he plugged in his measurements and picked out the finishings he wanted and they sent him a suit in the mail.  It turned out pretty nicely, and the jacket fit me well enough that I may order one as well!


Graham’s successful try-on of the mail-order suit

It was such a lovely wedding, complete with 10-course banquet, that I didn’t take ANY photos. Just enjoyed it!

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!

New place

The much-brighter living room, with Graham fully installed.

As if moving at the beginning of September wasn’t busy enough, we also moved at the beginning of October, upgrading our Saskatoon place.

Graham calls the dining area ‘West-coast corner’

It is a lovely spot, in a very quiet modern building that seems devoid of stoner-neighbs. We are on the 10th floor, which seems quieter, cleaner, and also has a view of the river and the University. When it is dark we can see the Canadian Light Source, like an urban aurora.

View of the kitchen (Taken crooked, to mobilize your neck. You’re welcome.)

I really like the blond hardwood floors and all the windows, the for-real laundry set-up, and the MASSIVE kitchen. Although it is bigger than the last place we have donated and craigslisted a bunch of things so that we still have space and air inside.

There is a main bedroom with en suite and walk-in closet.  Luxurious!
There is a main bedroom with en suite and walk-in closet. Luxurious!

We’ve unpacked everything and set it all up – we even got some plants. Come check it out!

Office/bedroom 2. Space for guests, and you get your own bathroom for coming to visit!


Adventures after Sweden