Tuesday, August 19, 2014


We went to Seattle last week. We touristed the crap out of that city. We came back yesterday. I'm in the fuzzy place between vacation and real life where you can't remember how grown-ups do stuff. Make my own food? Clean up after myself? Drive? Errands? What?


We're learning this about ourselves lately: we don't love being where all the people are. We like walking around, avoiding the large crowds, looking for coffee shops and greasy pub burgers and finding quiet parks and live music and stuff like that. But Seattle has this thing called the City Pass that gets you into a bunch of its main tourist attractions for $65 altogether. We decided to try it out and see if it was worth it.

It got us into the aquarium, the Space Needle (twice), the EMP Museum, the Museum of Flight, and on a cruise around the harbour. We were tourists to the max, and I hung the camera around my neck without shame.

Verdict: worth it if you're into those sorts of things. The EMP Museum (a museum entirely dedicated to music, sci-fi and pop culture) was very cool, the hour-long cruise was good, the aquarium... would've been a crushing disappointment if it hadn't been for the giant octopus (no sharks?), the Museum of Flight was sweet, and the Space Needle was just okay. (Apparently, you can get the same view from the Columbia tower for only $7 or something like that, and if you've been up the Empire State Building or the CN Tower or anything like that, you might possibly be seriously underwhelmed.) So maybe not something we'd do again, but also not something we regret.

Plus, it was all generally easy stuff to do with a 7 month-old in tow, which was key. Babies love museums.

We did other stuff too though. We saw the Blue Jays play the Mariners at Safeco and took the obligatory gum wall pictures. We wandered through Pike Place at one in the morning and went shopping downtown and visited the Olympic Sculpture Park by the harbour. We visited as many coffee shops as we could and rated them on atmosphere, coffee, and baked goods. 

When we were tired of the crowds and the walking, we sat in our room and watched Shark Week on the Discovery Channel while Sullivan read One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish in his playpen. 

It was a different kind of vacation but that in itself was fun--it was our first as a family of three. Slightly (very) terrifying, but good. Really good.

Monday, August 11, 2014

{my scary weekend}

This weekend wore me right out. It could've been the sun and the heat, or it could've been the buzzing crowds down at the Folk Festival, or it could have, possibly and probably, been all those pesky near-death experiences I had.

C'est la vie. 

Friday night, I was at the Folk Fest with Hannah. The night was warm and clear and beautiful, the kind that lets every note of every song ring right out into the night sky with nothing to stifle it--but then this crazy storm came up out of nowhere. The rain was falling straight sideways and the thunder was rolling in one long continuous wave that had no breaks or seams, only dramatic crescendos which built and built and built until you weren't sure if the sound was coming from above or below or within.

I was in the car by the time the real business started going down. Sullivan was asleep in his car seat and didn't even wake up when the hail started pounding his window. We got him home and Barclay brought towels and coats from the house to wrap him in for the sprint from the car to the front door. We were drenched, but he was dry.

Something was off in our house. I sensed it the second we walked in the door. It took me a minute, but I slowly realized what it was as I stood there in the middle of the kitchen removing layers of dripping wet jackets: the power was out, but I could still see. It was 10:30 pm. The lightning, like the thunder, was a constant, eerie flickering--enough to dimly light the room. The weather network reported the next day that the count was 350 lightning strikes per minute. I lit a candle anyway. 

I unwrapped Sullivan and brought him into the nursery to put him in his crib, when a crack of thunder ripped through the room like a monster truck. "I jumped" is an understatement and an overstatement. Outwardly, I was completely still but all of my internal organs were rearranged in an instant and I think my heart might still be down in my left foot. 

That monster truck sound, I discovered, is what it sounds like when your next door neighbour's house is struck by lightning.  

Sullivan slept through that, too.

We survived the storm, obviously, and had a fairly uneventful Saturday. More Folk Fest and some good naps. 

On Sunday, Barclay was playing at a charity fundraiser, and I went along to be proud of him. The day was beautiful and the event was beautiful, and the food was beautiful. But the weather had some unfinished business with me, I guess. 

I was sitting across from my mum-in-law, Ruth, and Sullivan was sleeping in my arms, and I was eating this dainty mushroom pastry, when behind her I noticed 

I'm trying to think of a way to say this that doesn't make it sound like I'm exaggerating or making stuff up. I'm not, I promise. 

I noticed a table behind her floating up into the air. There. That sounds believable. Right?

There were three old ladies sitting at the table, and they seemed as surprised as me, maybe more. Maybe. 

Logical explanation time: The tables were attached to big umbrellas. A gust of wind, maybe leftover from Friday's storm, snuck up underneath this particular one and lifted it into the air, wine glasses, appetizers and all. A server, who was hovering nearby with a tray of sliders and fish paté, stepped in quickly and held the table down. But the umbrella, which had already gotten up its momentum, sailed through the air like a torpedo--straight at me.

Thankfully, Ruth and a few other quick-thinkers got ahold of the thing as it shot past them, slowing it down enough that by the time it hit me it didn't hit very hard at all. Sullivan cried a little, probably more due to the screams and shouts around us than anything, but then he was chill about it too. All's well that ends well. That's what they say.

But then when we got home, there was a spider the size of a small concert hall, just hanging out in my bathroom like, "What?" That scared me more than the lightning strike right outside my window and the Hurtling Umbrella O' Certain Impalement put together, actually. I gasped my tonsils out.

So now it's Monday. Hopefully the week ahead is a little less scary.


Thursday, August 07, 2014

{tea for two}

I got asked to, and I'm quoting here, "doodle on a teapot" for a charity auction on Sunday. I said yes, because I haven't had a strange assignment like that in a good long while and it sounded like fun.

I got the teapot and matching cups and saucers and some sharpies a few weeks ago, and then I set them on my desk and left them there. I was dumbfounded by them. They were white and smooth and fragile, and I was afraid to even pick them up, let alone color on them with markers. I know that it's a thing that people are doing these days--coloring on mugs or whatever and then baking them in the oven so that the artwork is permanent--but I hadn't counted on how intimidating the first bold black line would be.

And besides that, what's a person supposed to draw on a tea set? Something dainty, right? Tea is for dainty people. Refined people. People with polished English accents and high heels. You can't draw a garbage truck on a tea set.

In the end, I was inspired by a tree I saw in the park, which was covered in doilies. When I saw it I thought, "DOILIES. Duh."

Doilies are the daintiest.

So that's what I went with, and here (da da-da daaaaa) is the finished product. It only took me a couple of hours to actually do (after a million hours of deliberating), and I completed it while watching Rad, which is a movie from 1986 about BMX biking starring none other than Lori Loughlin (who you know as Aunt Becky from Full House) as a pro biker. (None of that information is very important, I guess.)

I'm super nervous to hand it over, as I always am with things like this, but I'm also pretty happy with how it turned out.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014


This week has been a weird kind of busy/not busy. I feel like I'm behind on everything, and yet when someone asks what I've been up to, I stare at them dumbly and I shrug my shoulders and I shake my head and I wiggle my toes and I say, "I don't know...I'm tired?" I guess I ask it more than say it because I feel like I need permission for that to be an acceptable answer. And even though it doesn't really answer the question at all, it kind of does. I've been up to being tired?

Other stuff too though. We went to the beach, and we're planning a trip to Seattle to watch my Grandpa get married, and I'm working on a thing for a charity event next Sunday. You know. Stuff. Just, I don't think you should expect me to be eloquent about it on such short notice. I've been awake since May.

Van is six months old now, and has decided that sleep is horrifying and terrible and ridiculous and un-fun. Everyone has advice about it and while they give it to me I stand there drooling and counting their chin hairs and not hearing a word they're saying. Not out of spite, just out of a necessity to preserve brain activity. Then I smile and say, "Ah, well, this too shall pass." It seems like a safe thing to say because everyone usually just smiles back and says, "Oh yeah, faster than you think!"

Which I have mixed feelings about, actually, because despite the fact that I only ever get to sleep an hour or two at a time, I really really like this stage. It's my favorite so far. Like, as I was writing this, he rolled across the room and is now trying to crawl up into my lap while jabbering away like a cantankerous old man. Will he still do this when he's seventeen? NO. No he will not. I don't think.

But he will sleep, I guess.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

{music and places}

I was having coffee with my cousin the other day and we were having that conversation (you know the one) about how certain songs bring you back to certain places and times. I feel like I've had that conversation a million times with a million people, but I love it every time and I'll keep having it because music and memories are just such excellent topic fodder.

On the drive home (which was exactly two hours and twenty minutes with a sweet fiery orange sunset burning in my rearview mirror) I picked a CD or song that reminded me most of each place I've lived since high school (minus the place I'm living now, because it's not a memory yet), in the style of Pip Plum. Because how else are you going to pass two hours and twenty minutes of driving by yourself? It's not an exhaustive list, and it's not even a list of all of my favourite CDs and songs from those times; just music that effectively takes me back to those places.


Pasqua Street House: Imogen Heap//Ellipse

Barclay and I bought the Pasqua Street House a little more than five years ago, just after we got engaged. We spent something like six months gutting it, drywalling it, painting it, putting in new floors, wallpapering it, just generally renovating our faces off, with the help of a few wonderful friends and family members. My old ghetto blaster sat in the corner through it all, blaring 1940s big band and 1990s punk and 1980s hair metal and whatever else came out of our eclectic collective CD collection.

That was the summer Imogen's Ellipse came out and I'm pretty sure we went down and bought it the day it hit the shelves at the HMV. We listened to it over, and over, and over again, for the remainder of the renos and afterward, and now when I hear it I smell drywall dust and picture Saturday mornings making pancakes in our cozy little green galley kitchen.

Grandma Guzz's House: Howie Beck//Flashover

Before Barclay and I were married, a series of strange events led to me being quite suddenly a little bit homeless and moving in with his grandma, who we affectionately know as Guzz. I slept in her basement for three months and we played a million games of Yahtzee (I lost every single one). She was probably the best housemate a girl could ask for.

There was an old alarm clock radio by my bed so I woke up and got ready every morning to the CBC. Whoever the morning DJ was at the time really loved this Howie Beck song from the album How to Fall Down in Public; he played it several mornings a week.

Prince of Wales House: David Gray//Please Forgive Me

When I came to Regina, it was to live with a couple girls I knew from high school back home. We had a townhouse in the east end of the city right by the prison. I was constantly afraid that an escaped convict was going to break in and kill me, but it never happened.


I met Barclay on my third day in the city, and he burnt me a CD with this song on it less than a month later. Smooth. Very smooth.

My Apartment on Fifth & Friesen: Jimmy Eat World//Clarity

The Fifth & Friesen apartment in Swift Current was not Pinterest-worthy. There were pictures sticky-tacked to the walls for decoration and a few pieces of (very) mismatched furniture (not in a twee way) and I slept on an air mattress and used my guitar case as a coffee table. A friend gave me a TV and it sat on the ground in front of the couch. There was a store down the street that sold hot tubs and used CDs. I bought a lot of CDs and no hot tubs. I found Clarity there, which is a funny thing to say about a place that sells hot tubs.

For a very short time, I lived with a couple of girls in a little farm house on a ranch just outside of Swift. Our schedules were exactly opposite: they were super responsible wife types who got up at 5 AM in the morning to bake bread and clean the bathroom. I was usually just getting in at that time from a show or hanging around with Karlie or whoever and didn't know how to bake bread.

It worked out fine and we got along really well, but I look back and feel like I maybe should've learned from them a little more. Oh well. I know how to bake bread now.

The Februarys played at The Lyric Theatre one night when I lived there and I went with a bunch of friends from school. The show was good and we hung out with the band after. It was one of those nights where absolutely nothing all that crazy happened but it was just solid fun.

Cabin in the Mountains: Tegan and Sara//So Jealous

The summer I spent in the mountains, I was alone a lot. I was living with a bunch of camp counsellors, and their job was fairly 24/7 while mine was just...well, like 6/7. I ran in the forest and kayaked around the lake in my backyard and hiked to my favourite waterfall almost daily. I had a little green mp3 player which only held a few CDs at a time. It had some Imogen Heap songs, some Modest Mouse, some Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Decemberists, Blindside, Andrew Bird, Brand New and T&S. But sometimes I'd just play the last song from So Jealous on repeat. I'm still not sick of it.

I went to a teeny tiny little Bible college out in the middle of nowhere for two years. By my second year, I had a pretty sweet little group of close friends and, being so far out in the prairies, we went on about a zillion road trips. I fully admit to (and feel bad about) commandeering the CD player every single time we got in the car and being kind of a jerk about it if anyone wanted to listen to country music.

That was also a time in my life where I didn't have internet access (aside from really slow crappy dial-up) and couldn't just hop on YouTube and find new music. So I'd go to CD Plus and buy a disc based purely on the artwork on the front. It usually worked out pretty well. I got this CD on one such trip, and made my friends listen to it all the way home. It was more poppy than anything else I owned, and I liked that about it. Now when I hear certain songs off of it I get super nostalgic for dorm dance parties. (Crystal, I know you're reading this. GET OVER HERE.)

Saskatoon Apartment: Brand New//Deja Entendu

Our apartment in Saskatoon was little, and there were five of us living in it--two in each bedroom and one on the couch in the living room. Rent was $50/month or something ridiculous like that. I ate Sidekicks probably every day. That summer in Saskatoon was an important time in my life because it taught me a huge lesson: you can get a library card and borrow as many CDs as you want for free. I got Deja Entendu out at the beginning of summer, and kept renewing it until the day I moved away that fall.

On my first day at Millar, I met a girl named Annette. We found each other in the gym and started talking about music because we were both wearing band t-shirts. Then we went back to our dorm rooms and got our five favourite CDs and traded. This was one of the ones she gave me. I listened to a lot, a lot, of other music that year, but this CD is the one that makes me think of that first day and meeting a million people but not remembering anyone's names and going to sleep in a strange bed and just feeling so thankful to have met just one person who I had something in common with.

So that was my mental exercise for the day. I've been listening to the music while writing this post and now I'm feeling pretty dang schmaltzy and sentimental. Gonna go write some "Hey! Remember when..." emails.