Thursday, May 29, 2008
i also have my first ESL class tomorrow, so wish me luck for that!
(also my african violets suddenly burst into flower.)
Sunday, May 25, 2008
edmonton is in alberta, which is the next province along from BC. i have to admit that alberta wasn't on my list of "top ten things to do in canada." it's sometimes known as the 53rd state of america, and is famous for its beef, cowboys and oil rigs. however, to get there you can catch the train right up through the rockies and up through jasper, then down into edmonton, and i've long had a hankering to see those mountains. also, it's where miriam is at the moment, which is a great reason to travel anywhere.
so i caught the via rail train east. the trip took 24 hours each way, through amazing scenery. there was a "bubble car" in the train, where you could sit up near the roof and watch the view through 360 windows:
the train was pretty comfy. everybody got a little pillow and blanket, and the bottom of the seat folded out so you could stretch out at night. there was a restaurant car and a little tuckshop affair which supplied me with coffee first thing in the morning (when the old ppl behind me decided 7am was a good time for a party. grrrrr!)
i like trains!
we started out through the suburbs of vancouver, then through farming land, the mountains behind gradually getting bigger and snowier,
til eventually the train just went past huge towering rockfaces and snowy mountains and raging rivers for hours and hours. it was so stunning.
this is mt robson, the biggest mountain in the rockies:
this is pyramid falls:
we saw not one but *two* black bears. they look so cuddly from a distance! i was hoping to see elk or moose as well, but wasn't lucky this time.
we stopped off in jasper, which has famous natcha. it held up the theory i formulated in whistler about the correlation between fabulous scenery and tacky pseudo-swiss architecture:
after we got through the rockies it got flat. like, *seriously* flat. these pictures can't capture the flatness of the prairies anymore than they can capture the bigness of the mountains:
i've always been very keen to see the prairies of canada, especially since winifred is always telling me stories about winnipeg, and wearing tshirts that say things like "prairie girls are a good catch!" it was very cool to understand a bit what people from central canada are talking about. i like the joke about your dog getting off the leash and watching it run off into the distance for three days.
however, i'm afraid i embodied the vancouver-stereotype and felt just a wee bit exposed and small amongst all that nothing. this stereotype works the other way too, where people from the prairies feel claustrophobic in vancouver cos of being hemmed in by the mountains.
i arrived at 5pm, and we went to check out whyte ave, the funky part of edmonton. unfortunately even the funky part of town featured a man shouting homophobic abuse and lots of people hassling us for money. it was not so cool. in fact, the whole trip featured a lot of being introduced as "miriam's friend" and not holding hands in public. it also featured a lot of scrounging to find food we could eat. did i mention edmonton didn't do it for me? (i'm friends with a couple of albertans who live in vancouver now - they call it deadmonton, hellberta. i'm not allowed to make that joke, though.)
it was hot and dry the first few days i was there, then rained heavily for the last few, which was a nice mixture. i spent a day touristing in edmonton, which was interesting. i found some nice bookshops and gift shops. i think my favourite discovery was a kit to make a plaster cast of your baby's buttocks. they had a sample bum on display.
here's some shots round edmonton. first, some evidence of the great hudson's bay. the company used to own most of canada, and now just owns some department stores. the whole story is fascinating.
apart from oil, edmonton is famous for having the world's largest mall. among other things, it has an ice rink and a water park with trained seals in it. i kid you not.
i decided not to go to that mall, in the interests of self preservation, but i went to a littler one in town, just to be in the spirit of things. i hate malls. here's me with "mall face".
look, the traffic lights are sidewards!
and this is university of alberta. great architecture, huh?
i think that's about all i have to say about my trip. it was a fascinating tourist experience, over all, and i really enjoyed the train journey and catching up with my girl, but i'm glad to be back in vancouver. it feels like home.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
i spent all yesterday planting out tomatoes. my nails will never be the same.
it was stinking hot (30!) and quite satisfying to be outside sweating for the labour of the land. . . or something. all my freckles came out.
i put two of the plants in the little garden plot i cleared in the front garden. here they are, snuggled between the rhubarb and the spearmint:
i also have carrots, potatoes and garlic in that bed, so we'll see what comes up. when the little cucumber seedlings get a bit bigger i'm going to bung them in as well. (bung is my new favourite word. i'm all ocker, don'tchaknow?)
i've also got five plants in big big pots on the back verandah. i've been dumpster diving and alley-scrounging for weeks collecting the big white buckets. good fun!
i've also got one in miriam's garden plot, and two little plants that will go in her plot in a few weeks. and that's all my babies settled! now i don't have to lug them in and out all the time, and i shouldn't have to water so often, seeing as how it's vancouver and rains all the time.
now we wait for fruit!
here's a shot from miriam's allotment. that's a brussell sprout plant on the left, three glorious radishes i'd just pulled, and the nasturtium, which was looking pretty crook for ages there and has only just perked up:
in other news, a bunch of stuff fell into place with visas and employment, which means i have a few weeks off and then will start teaching ESL in a basement downtown. still applying for other jobs, cos it's not full time, but still, experience! money! sense of purpose!
i'm taking advantage of the time off to duck over to alberta to visit miriam, so rather than the gardening blog i seem to be running, we'll have a short hiatus then resume as a travel blog with photos of mountains and stuff. if you're good i'll take a photo of the giant perogie for you.
now where did i put my cowboy hat?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
isn't it beautiful? it's the last tulip in miriam's garden.
i've had a productive few days so i actually have stuff to write about. today i made a guest appearance in ziggy's year 9 english classroom. talking to a bunch of fifteen year olds is challenging! they were a perfectly friendly bunch, though, and ziggy has a great repertoire with them, so it all went well. they're doing a novel study of Maus, so i was lecturing on reading images and the relationship between text and image. it was a reprisal of my picture book lecture in a lot of ways, though i didn't cover as much material. i talked through one page of the comic (panelling, frames, background, pov, shading, etc.) then got the students to do their own analysis of another page.
it was funny being in a big high school again. i felt not particularly grownup. but it was very nice to be back in front of a classroom. i do enjoy teaching. (did i mention how glad i am not to be a teenager anymore?)
am still working on getting some sort of paid work in front of a classroom. i've replied to a bunch of ads and have an interview with an ESL school on thursday. wish me luck!
and that's where the tomatoes are at. it's the may long weekend this weekend, which is traditionally when the weather is warm enough for tomato plants to go outside. you have to harden them first, which means bringing them outside each day for gradually longer periods so they adjust to cold and wind before you bung them in the ground and leave them to fend for themselves. lugging all nine in and out each day is quite a process!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Thursday, May 08, 2008
they're so cute! they're working on their second set of leaves and their big sister is working on her third set. teeny tiny forest here we come!
the coriander already looks like a forest. there's an entertaining adventure happening in the middle pot on the right - see that plant that can't get rid of the seedpod? it's been gradually forcing its way out of the seed, slowly, slowly. fascinating to watch.
the tomatoes are still awfully happy. the paul robeson in particular has taken off. see its fat flower buds!
moving to the back verandah garden . . .
the radishes are not doing so well. they've been stuck at this cute heart shaped leaf stage for weeks now, and only six came up out of twelve i planted. i still think they're very brave, though:
next to them is one of ziggy's strawberry plants, which has taken neglect and lots of sun and produced masses of flowers and extra leaves:
and, uber-cool new addition to the outside garden, winifred's hummingbird feeder!
she lent it to me for over the summer. you make up a sickly sweet mixture from a package of "nectar concentrate hummingbird food" and keep the feeder filled and then tiny birds come all summer to drink! at least, that's the plan. i haven't seen any yet, but i guess it'll take them a while to find it. will definitely keep you updated on this one.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Here are some photos of autumn in ****, The sunrises were spectacular even if they were caused by the annual suffocating burn-off. Made some good photos though. I took them from the front verandah with my new camera and am pretty impressed with myself (deep down I know the camera really did it!!)
The leaves were photographed through the bathroom window. That’s my dogwood.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
job hunting is boring and stressful. don't wanna! i made a self-aggrandising cv (with help from bbb and grotijira), and today is booked in for sending it out out out to everyone in existence. it's gonna be *fun*!
you know what is actually fun? dominoes. i learnt how to play it properly on the island, then it turns out that ziggy has a set, so i've spent a few evenings last week getting gloriously embroiled in competitive hilarious train building:
on one of the game nights winifred bought me some timtams. here's one masquerading as a domino:
the tomatoes are very happy (though they want more light), and the tiny gumtreefid has a tiny third set of leaves on the way. all good.
now to start whoring my cv. . .
Saturday, May 03, 2008
we had a full house for breakfast - ziggy, her friend b, miriam and me. some people were wheat free, some people were kosher and non-leavened, so breakfast was miso soup and a kind of french toast thing made with matza. it was yummy.
then miriam's sister came round with a cool bicycle-xylophone-guitar-sculpture she'd made, and sung a song she'd written for it. the performance was kickarse cool and we all clapped.
then we all wandered off to the farmer's market and met up with a bunch of other folks, including cassandra. here's some of the outside vendors - lots more stuff inside!
it was a beautiful sunny day, and i got lots of nice fruit and veg and some snacks for the journey to the island. also a big red bag with a radish on it.
there was all sorts of new springish foods available, like leeks and rhubarb, but i didn't buy them cos of leaving the next morning.
after the farmers market cassandra and i walked down to ht naturals, this shop that sells beautiful beautiful fair trade organic etc. clothing made from hemp and bamboo. normally their stuff is *super* expensive, but it was a 75% off warehouse sale!
it was actually in the warehouse attached to the shop - we went through big boxes of clothes. i got a nice singlet and this pretty blue top, and it was less than $30. huzzah!
then i walked home, jumped on my bike and sprinted all the way to the suburbs to meet an accountant and do my tax. she was a terrifying efficient young woman whose only small talk was "i can see you are a very untidy person." i didn't tell her that my previous filing system had been a shoebox, and the neatly paper-clipped piles of paper i was flinging round were a vast improvement. anyway, she got me lots of money in my tax return (maybe can pay rent? huzzah!) and was well worth her fee.
this is me trying to find a route home that didn't involve a scary busy road with no bike lane and lots of people that drive like dickheads. i found one and had a pleasant ride home.
i had been home long enough to drink some water and check my email when miriam rang to see if i could come take a tour of her community garden plot; i'm OIC garden while she's away.
i wandered down the street and she showed me which little green seedling thing would turn into which plant and how much water they each want. i checked on my brussel sprout plants:
and miriam planted some radishes:
we gave the garden a good water then headed down the drive to buy some booze for the two parties we had on that night. i bought some local wine and got a free reusable bag (the non-plastic bag movement has suddenly hit its strides in vancouver):
i came home, got dressed up in my new top for partying then blogged. here's a photo of me blogging about taking photos for blogging. now i'm blogging about it. it's so meta-fictional it hurts! (to quote deathbyshinies)
the first party was a good food, random singing kind of house warming, with a keg in the corner. the only people miriam and i knew was one of the hosts, but we had some interesting conversations with random strangers.
here's miriam's friend playing her strum stick:
the second party was a red wine, barbecue, game playing kind of housewarming, with lots of miriam's funky friends i'd met before. it was a lot of fun. we stayed late playing demon (wicked card game) and _apples to apples_, as seen below:
i got home at 12.30 (which, strictly speaking, is the next day, but i'm sticking this one out) and started to pack for going to the island the next morning. miriam was coming to pick me up at 8am. here's what my luggage looked like by the time i went to bed:
i was thoroughly wiped by 1am and only stayed up half an hour reading a tamora pierce novel. a very busy day.