Sunday, 27 October 2013


In a way, I suppose this whole blog is dedicated to Matthew. But this post really is...

Yesterday was the Immortal Brush Annual Painting Competition at Strategies Games and Hobbies on Main St. If you've been following Matthew's blog, you'll know that this a major event in his wargaming calendar.

Matthew entered his diorama and tank last week, but he has been preparing them for months, on a strict and disciplined painting schedule at our dining table. He has painted for many more hours than I have studied, I'm afraid to say.

Matthew and I walked over to Main St in the streaming sunshine. It could not have been more perfect. Here are some pictures of our neighbourhood in all its Fall Glory.

We met Aunty Eileen at Bean Around The World on 20th and Main, and then Cousin Carolyn joined us. Matthew left us to meet up with Harry the Swiss at Strategies Games and Hobbies, and we ladies sallied forth to shop vintage and 'splore.

At one point, we got a call from Aunty Lorraine, who was lunching with Gramma a couple of blocks away. Sadly (and miraculously) we did not manage to connect.

Amidst our shopping, we popped into Strategies to show our support for Matthew's diorama. We understand that Gramma and Aunty Lorraine also did this. Matthew was a hot favourite.

Carolyn picked up a very pretty dress and some jeans from Front and Company (pretty much the best most whimsical store in all Vancouver), and Aunty Eileen picked up some super healthful buckwheat honey from a honey shop (with copious free samples! we tasted the difference between "salty, savoury honey" and "traditional dessert honey"). I picked up some black pointy-toe crocodile pumps late in the day. And that was only between 20th and 30th Avenues! 

At 5pm we declared it a day, and slunk into Coco et Olive for a coffee and a biscuit. I texted Matthew to come meet us. Aunty and I were sitting in the window, sipping our drinks, when he came wandering up the street, neck hung heavy with medals!

He won three of the seven possible categories: Best diorama, Best Science Fiction Large Model, and Customer Favourite (of course!).

He was awarded a fancy carry case to accommodate his ever-expanding army, and some other coveted swag.

Good on you, Matthew!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Women, Walking Home, In the Dark

UBC is really lovely at this time of year, especially when the sun is out. When it's overcast, it's both desolate and radiant. There are squirrels everywhere, charmingly burying nuts and flouncing their massive bottle-brush tails.

The last two years, I was out there pretty much every day, but this year I've only been there on Saturdays, so I have been able to watch the slow autumnal colour changes over a different time.

Yesterday afternoon I was at UBC, slaving away at the old thesis. Three wise PhD students, Erin, Sarah and Brendan, were also there. In the middle of the afternoon, Erin interrupted the studious peace to announce that she had just received yet another email from UBC campus security and the RCMP (for my non-Canadian readers, that's the mounties), warning of an attack on a woman, walking home in the dark, on campus.

This is the third email we have recieved. It's the third incident in the last month. Women, walking alone, have been grabbed from behind, and almost pulled into bushes. I say 'almost' because so far, the three women have been able to fight their attacker off and run away.

A little over a year ago, a woman was assaulted one block from my house. She was walking home alone in the dark, like these women at UBC. In the downtown West side, three women were attacked on their way to work earlier this year, over a space of two weeks.

Over on Cambie St, about a month ago, there were two attacks on women walking home in the dark. My cousin lives near there. She works late at night, and has to walk home from the train station.

I'm lucky that I rarely have to walk alone in the dark. I was really enjoying my morning gym routine, but I do not feel safe walking alone before 6am, when the traffic is sparse and the fog is thick in our neighbourhood, so I'm going to the gym in the early evenings now. It's still dark, but there's lots of people around.

I'm lucky that I have the choice to change my routine. Some other women in this city are not so lucky.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts

We had a really lovely evening with the family last night. The food was plentiful, the pet dogs were hilarious, and it was good to catch up with the cousins after quite a while. We all lead such separate lives! Case in point: I texted Cousin Emily over a week ago to collect the pie dish I had left at her house (remember the blackberry pie?), and the only time we could both connect was at 8am on Friday morning, for less than one minute!

Anyway, here are some pictures of our evening.

Action shot: Gramma stirring the gravy. The camera was on some fancy night setting, which Matthew did not tell me about.

Festive centrepiece

Aunty Lorraine carving the bird

All 26 pounds of it!

Stuffing hatch

Matthew getting in on the action. Aunty Eileen actually doing the work.

Aunties and Turkey

Carolyn with the Tofurkey

The banquet table

Ladies to the right: Carolyn, Aunty Lorraine, Sophie and Emily

Ladies to the left: Gramma, Aunty Eileen and Joanna (friend o' Carolyn). And Matthew, of course xoxo

The pie after. Pronounced a success! Need to work on my pastry, though.
 Not pictured are the pumpkin slice, orange slice, and peanut-butter-balls we also gorged on.

Fancy treat: ice wine from Oliver!

Cheers, Sophie!
Because of the reduced crowd, we all went home with super generous left-overs. I think I'm going to make a turkey pie this evening.

I had grand plans for today. I was going to hit the gym, go to uni and write a couple of hundred words, and then meet my friend Maddie for a beverage. None of those things are happening, as far as I can tell. I am not better, I spoke too soon. I coughed All. Night. Matthew is exhausted from the interrupted sleep, and I want to hide under a blanket. Which I will totally do as soon as I finish this post.

Happy Thanksgiving, all! Thanks to my wonderful family for making it special.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving Thoughts

I've emerged from the cave of sickness, and I'm ready to blog again. Seriously, I was sick for a week and a half, and I still have a rattling cough which keeps Matthew and me both awake at night. What can I say? Being sick is hard.

I have 40 minutes from right now to see this pumpkin pie cooked and cooled, and to shimmy into a dress and some make-up. I can do it.

This evening is Canadian Thanksgiving at Aunty Lorraine's house. I have been looking forward to it for about three weeks. I decided to go sort-of-vegetarian in preparation (I say "sort of", because I ate dinner with salmon twice). It's been totally easy. Except for salmon (which is a local delicacy, and which I will not give up for as long as I live in the Pacific Northwest), I don't miss it at all.

There will be comparatively few of my family in attendance this evening, as a couple of folks are on holiday elsewhere on the continent. Also, despite our last minute scramble of an effort, neither Matthew nor I could Find A Foreigner to invite. Oh well, more turkey for us.

The pie! It is out of the oven! It looks beautiful, a rich dark orange.

Pie before

Pie after

Friday, 4 October 2013

Hanson at the Vogue Theatre

Howdy friends. Matthew and I were tickled to see Hanson play in Vancouver on Wednesday night. Since we missed the Portland show (by accident) and the Seattle show (on purpose), we had a lot invested in the evening. Unforch, I was feeling a bit under the weather, and I also worked a 10-hour day.

Things that, on Wednesday night at 5pm, stood in between me and my enjoyment of Hanson:
1. I was still at work
2. I had a headcold
3. It's a long story, but I have stitches in my back which severely limit my rocking out

Reasons why, on Wednesday night at 8pm, I decided to stick with the plan of going to Hanson anyway:
1. Matthew

In the name of love, Matthew hustled me onto a bus downtown, and found me a safe and warm seat in the balcony of the Vogue Theatre. I have never rocked less. It was a low point.

The support act was basically a smoother John Mayer, but still still with the slight slime factor. He had a lovely voice, but there's only so many soulful acoustic guitar love songs with falsetto breakdowns you can tolerate. His name is David Ryan Harris and I begrudgingly admit he had the voice of an angel.

Okay, on with the Hanson:

To be honest I'm not really into their new album. I have heard a few songs, but since I've been doing the Pursuit of Silence (TM), it really has to be earth-shattering to make me voluntarily listen again. Nevertheless, we love the Hanson, so anything they play is going to make me want to throw my undies at them.

The started with a couple of new songs, including "Fired Up" and "You Can't Stop Us Now". They played songs from all albums, and no covers at all this time (every show previous has had a token cover song).

Personal favourites of the evening included "Juliet" from the new album, "Save Me" from about ten years ago, and a hard-to-find Taylor solo called "Never Let Go" which I don't think is on any albums (I have a tinny bootleg that my bestie Nyssa shared with me way back in the day).

Matthew and I definitely chair-danced to "Thinkin' About Something", because it's rad, and also "Lost Without Each Other", which was the perfect encore. What can I say? It's just the best song ever.

Some notes:
  • All the songs were sped up. Maybe that's their new aesthetic? Maybe they wanted to fit more in?
  • Taylor is a classic fidget in the style of Mick Jagger, and although Matthew took over fifty photos, there are only one and a half in which Taylor is not blurry.
  • This was one of the longest Hanson concerts I have ever been to. They played heaps of songs. It was really good bang for my buck.
At the end of the night, I felt uplifted. Even though I still maintain that this album is not in my top three, it was a solid night out. And I think we made the best of it, given my temporary limitations.

As usual, my warmest thanks to Matthew for getting me to the show, and for being enthusiastic. It's one of the things that makes him the best husband ever, and I appreciate and love him for it.

Also, a shout out to my Hanson-lovin' ladies in Melbourne. You were there in spirit, I felt you!

Portland 2013, Part 2

Note: I wrote most of this yesterday but didn't get to post because it was such a long day :(

Last night Matthew and I went to see Hanson. It was a surprisingly late night. More on that in a later post.

Monday (in Portland)

We pulled open the curtains to discover a couple of bubbles floating past the fifth floor. On an adjacent carpark stood a woman in pigtails, the source of the bubbles. Only in Portland. In the business district. At nine am on Monday.

Zoom for bubbles.
Anyway, here's what the rest of Monday looked like:
This is just painted on the building.
A shop cat.
After breakfast we headed over one of the many many bridges to the East side of town so that Matthew could check out a massive gaming and hobby store.

One of Portland's many bridges, looking onto another of Portland's many bridges.

Giant wargaming and hobby store.

Joel, the game shop guy.
A vivid sign describing the effects of tram tracks on your bike.

More vintage shopping!

A room of bones at the vintage shop.

Getting some ramen (at a very white ramen shop... did we mention how white Portland is?)
In the afternoon we took advantage of a spot of sunshine, and headed for the Japanese Garden in Washington Park. Our map was neither to scale nor descriptive, so we did some serious trekking up the Goose Hollow hill (a fancy neighbourhood) by accident, when we realised how far the bus had dropped us from the garden. And in fact we had to cut through the Test Rose Garden to get to the Japanese Rose Garden! Anyway, it was worth the wait. The Japanese Garden was stunning.
Washington Park monument

One of the many picturesque views in the Japanese Garden.

After the Japanese Garden, we met up with Scott and Bill (who had just come home from an awesome holiday in California, where it was 100 american degrees all day). We went to a cute creperie for an unusual but tasty dinner. A fine end to the holiday, although the peace of our dinner was interrupted by news of the American government shut-down. Seriously. What?! We certainly mixed politics and dinner on that evening.

Our drive home on Tuesday was much more civilised than the other day. There were even patches of sunshine! An all-american highlight of our trip was seeing a long convoy of tanks going on a training mission in the Washington countryside. There were about 20 of them, and everyone was in full uniform. They were coming from the local base, which you drive past on the freeway. It was quite a sight.

Thank you to Matthew, my one true love, for driving us to Portland this lovely weekend. We are celebrating a rather impressive anniversary in the coming days, and it means so much to me that we could take this time away together.