Archive for the ‘life’ Category

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2013: Three stories to tell

December 31, 2013

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Often I write these year-in-review posts and go month by month through the ups and downs of my year. This time around, I look at it in three distinct segments. Let me tell you some stories.

1. A foray into politics

I started the year with two new jobs in a new field. I reluctantly left broadcasting behind to try my luck at communications. One job was with a private public relations firm and the other a political party preparing for an election. Very quickly all things political ramped up and I was swept into the tide of a campaign. Two jobs became one and that one became my life.

I was happy to put everything I had into the campaign. At one point, I spent 50+ days at work in a row. We were putting in 12+ hour days and my boss, even more. Almost everyone I worked with had been campaign staff before. I was the new kid, so I took orders and completed tasks as best I could. I rewrote text over and over – the words lost all meaning and the meanings were diluted. The edits would circle back around to where they had started. A phrase that worked once would be discarded the next time.

But I did my job and didn’t say much about how I thought we could do better. There was a plan made by greater political minds than I. And there was a leader who decided how that plan would (or would not) be implemented.

That plan failed. We lost. It was devastating. I just felt empty. And I was out of a job.

2. Getting personal

Last year, the engagements started to roll in. This year, that trend continued. It even included me.

I had the pleasure of watching two of my oldest friends get married this year. One was streamed over the internet after a quick engagement and the other I travelled across the country to attend. We also had the pleasure of watching two Vancouver friends get married. Interestingly enough, they were with Orgle and I on our first date at a Whitecaps game.

I’m not a particularly sentimental person, but it is nice to see my friends so happy.

I am part of the 2014 Marriage Class. Our engagement a product of a romantic Quebec City hotel, some “California Love” and a nice bubble bath. The wedding is a small affair planned for May. In fact, we’ve cut so many traditions, it will seem more like a barbecue than what the wedding industry is trying to make me plan.

Maybe more exciting than my own engagement is the addition to my family. My brother and his wife had their first child. My nephew is the cutest thing ever and not just because I’m related to him.

So that’s the middle third of my year. Watching friends marry, visiting with my nephew, getting engaged and as summer wound down, welcoming Orgle’s mom to Canada for the first time.

3. Our Nation’s Capital

Following the election loss, I really didn’t know what to do next. My foray into politics had left me feeling empty and I wasn’t sure I could go through that again. So as other members of the campaign team returned to the fold, I looked elsewhere. And I found a job in Ottawa. Go figure, I flee from politics to the nation’s capital.

I now work in international public diplomacy. It’s communications, but also research and event planning – two things I’m really excited to do more of.

I don’t work for the Canadian government, but I’m sure if you really want to figure out what I do, you will.

Orgle started over when he moved to Canada. Now, as a pair, we are starting over in Ottawa. The move was stressful and there are lonely times, but I know it was the right decision. Orgle is loving the real winter weather and I am happy to have a whole new set of restaurants and shops to explore.

But I miss Vancouver, or at least the people there.

Overall:

It was a good year. Except the Oilers, they were rubbish.

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20 things you must eat in Vancouver

November 18, 2013

(Originally posted February 2, 2012. Updated in November 2013.)

I like food.

Honourable mention to Milestone’s california salad that I always eat at YVR. But there’s no way I’m putting a chain restaurant on my list.

Other than some ethical concerns with veal, I’ll pretty much try everything. I don’t like sea urchin, I don’t drink coffee and can’t handle diet pop.

In February, a friend is coming to town and I happen to be out of town! But I wanted to leave him a list of must-try foods in Vancouver.

Something absent on this list: Pho. Frankly, I have no idea what makes good Pho. I’ll pretty much eat it at any sketchy hole-in-the-wall. And I seem to like it all.

Also, the best breakfast under $3: Yummy Sushi. Wait, what?! I’ve never had sushi there. In fact, I don’t think they even do raw fish. But the hole-in-the wall has all day breakfast and is across the street from my home.

I’m not a big fan of breakfast, thus its relative absence on this list.  Same with sweets.  I’m a savory girl for the most part.

So far I haven’t been truly wowed by any Thai, Malaysian, Cambodian, etc. restaurants in Vancouver. That’s not to say there aren’t any really good ones. There are. I eat at Pad Thai regularly, though it is more cheap eats than authentic meal.

If there’s one thing you’ll notice about the list is that nothing is over $16. I’m not one to go for those $30 per plate meals.  So, this isn’t fine dining. I’m sure there is lots of very fine dining in Vancouver, but that’s not me.

Anyways, enough rambling, if you’re like me, you just want the list. These are restaurants I really like… not just the menu items below.

Top 20 things you must eat in Vancouver:

(Updated in November 2013 to reflect restaurant closures)

Banh Mi at Big Lou’s

Carnitas Taco at La Taqueria

Chicken Wings at Phnom Penh

Chili-Garlic Eggplant and blade sheared noodles at Peaceful Restaurant

Choriqueso Sandwich at Las Tortas

Fish and Chips at Go Fish

Garlic stubs with pork at Zakkushi

Grilled Cheese at Burgoo

Ice cream sandwiches at Chocolate Arts

Kimbap at HMart (Korean Grocery Store)

Le Grand Feast at Nuba

Peruvian Seafood Chowder at Mochikas

Pasta at Lombardo’s Ristorante

Pizza at Zaccary’s

Polenta Fries and mixed drinks at Cascade Room

Rib ends at Memphis Blues

Salted Caramel Blondie at Beaucoup Bakery

Steak Frites at Les Faux Bourgeois

Sushi and Okonomiyaki at Zipang

Tonkatsu at Suika

Waffles at Patisserie Lebeau

Five best sushi restaurants in Vancouver:

Honourable mentions: Kishimoto, Temaki, Clubhouse, Mazuya, Ro Sushi

5. Samurai Sushi House – ENORMOUS. Seriously. The fish is decent and the cuts are massive.

4. Toshi – The fish is superb, the lineup is annoying, but the fish is superb. If you know anything about the sushi scene in Vancouver, you’ve heard of it. But honestly, I’m just as happy going to my top three. (All surprisingly nearby.)

3. Sushiyama – How dare I place something ahead of the renowned and line-up oriented Toshi? Sushiyama never disappoints.

2. Shiro – Get ready to sit uncomfortably close to someone else, with bustling servers running past you. They jam everyone in, which is a good thing because otherwise you’d be waiting a long time. A great mix of price, quality, speed, and homemade wasabi – and you get pocky at the end.

1. Zipang Sushi – After recently taking out of town guests here over any other place in Vancouver, I realized it is my number one. The quality is always amazing, the menu is extensive and the prices totally reasonable. Plus I like the random decor.

Five more restaurants you should try:

Cafe Salade de Fruits

Fable

Forage

Edible Canada at the Market

Pizzeria Farina

Three places I wish I had gone to before I left:

Bao Bei

Chuchillo

Vij’s
Best breakfast in Vancouver:
 
Yummy Restaurant – For $2.99 you can get two eggs, five pieces of bacon (or 4 sausages or ham), a plate of hashbrowns and toast.

Paul’s Omelettery – Repeat visits have proven no one makes a better omelet in town.

Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe – random things in or on a pancake

Red Wagon – Busy hipster spot, but for good reason. Go on a weekday to avoid waiting in line. Known for their giant pulled pork pancakes.

Swiss Bakery – Just get a loaf of bread here and have toast. Known for frissants.

Best deals in Vancouver:

(Previously mentioned) Yummy Restaurant for $2.99 breakfast

(Previously mentioned) Samurai Sushi House for the biggest pieces of sushi I’ve ever seen

Bistro 101 – The local cooking school does a three course lunch for $20, dinner for $25. Half price wine Wednesday means the bottle is as cheap (or cheaper than buying at the liquor store).

Kitsilano Daily Kitchen – Chef’s tasting menu for $65 – which doesn’t seem like a deal but for 6 fantastic courses of food, it’s worth it

Pad Thai Restaurant – Definitely not the most authentic thai restaurant, but their lunch deal of $6 is a huge plate of food.

The Patty Shop – Jamaican patties. That’s it.

Great Han Mongolian Barbecue – Throw food in bowl, they cook. Good deal! (Not by weight!)

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Breaking up is hard to do

November 4, 2013

Loxy n Orgle

My relationships over the years have been a mix. Some were good, some were bad and others were horrific.

A few years ago I met Orgle. I quickly realized this was more than good, this was something special. We moved in together just a few months after starting to date. We have since moved across the country and are planning our wedding for next year.

I’m not a huge fan of weddings. Not even my own. The frustration is mounting.

It’s not the idea of being with Orgle for the rest of my life that is bothersome. That’s no biggie. I wanna lock that kid down now. He’s one of those baby-faced men who won’t be participating in Movember because he… can’t. But he is owning his look now. He’s better looking today with his patch of white hair than he was when we met.

I know that it will all come together in its own cheaply beautiful way, I in my green dress, Orgle dressed as a visiting professor.  Surrounded by a handful of close friends, but no bridal party, we will have what we think of as a wedding, even if it’s only adjacent to the traditions people expect (and the weather Australians are hopeful for).

The core is there. The payoff will come. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Other than relationships built by family ties, my longest relationship has been one with the Oilers. My vintage of Oiler fandom is one that doesn’t really remember the cups. I was alive, but learning the fundamentals from talking to riding a bike were more important at the time.

My first Oilers game was in the 1991-92 season against the San Jose Sharks. I was 10. Looking back, maybe I picked the wrong team.

Anyways, the glory days of boys on the bus has never really resonated with me. I had the strife of almost losing the team, the terrible stretch in the early 90s and then now. Before the game on Saturday, I made the unfortunate comment that between team moves and injuries, the team could not get any worse. It took just 8 hours for that to happen.  This is the low point of not just my fandom, but the Oilers organization.

Orgle joined me on the Oilers fan bus. When I met him, he was a Canucks fan. It’s the only Canadian city he had lived in, so I can’t really blame him. But a few weeks with me and his RSS was subscribed to Lowetide and Blackdogpat.  We bought Gamecentre so that we could watch more games. The conversion was a pretty easy one.  But think about the three years of teams he has put up with. Talent abounds but results don’t. He must really love me.

So, Orgle has never seen an ounce of success, I’ve never been a fan for a cup win, and this organization can’t get much worse.

A positive person would say there’s no where to go but up.  A negative person would quit, cold turkey.

I’m a realistic person.

I’ve dedicated over 2 decades to this team and for half of it, they haven’t even competed.  ’96 to ’06, those were my glory years. Just being in it is what matters to me.

A friend wrote on Facebook about the Oilers: “my loyalty remains unwavering, my dedication is what’s fragile.”

I can’t agree more. So while I don’t think I can break up with the Oilers, what we have is an unhealthy relationship. I give everything I’ve got and in return, I get depressed and Luke Gazdic.

Oilers, this isn’t “Good Bye”, it’s see you around. For now I need to step back. I need you to think about what you’ve done.  I realize that you have been down on your luck this season, but you’re pulling me down with you (and I am already in a wedding planning funk).  I’ll be back, whether I like it or not.  I’ll miss your musk.

But for now, take care of yourself, get healthy, and I’ll see you on the other side of .500.

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Went to Quebec, Montreal and Toronto. Watched an old friend get married. Ate lots of food. Got engaged.

July 28, 2013

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The best characters on TV

January 11, 2013
Donald Glover

Another chance to post a photo of Donald Glover

I used to be a movie geek. I took some film studies in University, I spent hours in video stores back when you could get seven old VHS movies for seven days for $10, and I would scour newspapers and magazines for the best movies of the year lists – lining them up for viewing soon afterwards.

But sometime in the last 5-10 years, that all changed.  DVD sets of TV shows were more convenient to watch and relatively affordable, sites like Sidereel and TVDuck made it easy to stream things onto the laptop often in my lap, external hard-drives gave me more space to store the stuff I download, my varied media schedule gave me late evenings and afternoons to watch, and, dare I say it, there’s some great TV being made by both basic and premium channels.

It’d be hard to tell you my favourite shows of all time or even of the current season. In fact, the  list I came up with: My favourite TV characters of 2012 doesn’t even come from the best TV.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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2013. It’s here.

January 4, 2013

New Year's Eve with Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians

How 2013 will be different from 2012:

1. My family will be bigger. My brother and his wife are expecting their first child – my first niece or nephew.

2. I will have a new job.  In fact, I will have two new jobs starting in the next few days. I went from no work to a whole lotta work in a hurry. Neither are reporting jobs, nor are they media jobs. It’s really a new career beginning.

3. I will be staying close to home. The travels of 2012 will (unfortunately) not be repeated. We are getting several visitors from Australia. We’ll trek to Calgary to see the new one. We will also head to Toronto for the wedding of an old friend. It was a year of engagements among my friends (at least according to Facebook), 2013 will be weddings and 2015 will be babies.

4. With less long-distance travel comes more close-to-home exploration.  I intend to spend more time on local mountains this winter, hiking, camping and kayaking in the summer.

5. I will know how to drive standard. This is more of a hope than a reality.  I have taken a few lessons so far but it’s painful.  After 15 years of driving, I’m finding the process utterly frustrating.  I know I’m a good driver but the skills fail to translate – and if you’ve ever honked at a vehicle clearly marked “student driver”… you’re a dick.

6. Steady as she goes for the relationship. We’ve lived together over a year – awesome. We’ve met all the family and friends – smooth.  We’re approaching two years together – still magical.

7. Orgle will be a permanent resident. The paperwork was submitted over 6 months ago. Whenever he checks the wait times, it has gotten longer. It’s now about year. (And he was fast-tracked through the process.)

8. The unexpected. Each year brings challenges not foretold. You have to be excited for them. I know I am.

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2012: A Year in Review

December 27, 2012

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January.

Stuff we did: Went to the Vandusen gardens for the first time, it was also the last day for the Christmas lights there, so it was busy.  Attended the wedding of one of Orgle’s coworkers. Apparently, I attend one wedding a year, this was it! The biggest snowfall of the year came and went, to Orgle’s dismay. I saw my favourite band, Fitz and the Tantrums for the second time in less than a year. We got free tickets to an Oilers-Canucks game here in Vancouver – even getting to sit in the box of the Oilers’ owner. (With whom I’m less and less impressed.)

Travel: A terrifying trip to the interior to go skiing – from freezing rain on the way out to white out conditions on the way back.

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February.

Stuff we did: Strapped on cross country skis for the first time since I was a child.  It was NOT like riding bike.  I have forgotten everything I once knew. I got really sick midway through the month. I also got around to finally printing some of my pictures in a darkroom.  A lot of fun.   Sad to think this hobby will soon be difficult – or even obsolete.

Travel: Up to Whistler for a week to ski (I end up only getting one day in due to pneumonia-related symptoms). We went because Orgle’s dad and brother were visiting.

Life events: Meeting Orgle’s dad and brother. Later that month my mom retired – joining my retired dad on the Island full time.

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March.

Stuff we did: This was probably the most relaxed month of the year. Some skiing (both downhill and cross country), lots of cooking, dinners with friends…

Travel: Off to Vancouver Island to celebrate my dad’s birthday and to ensure my parents weren’t driving each other insane, living together 24/7 for the first time in many years.

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April.

Stuff we did: I was a speaker about online legalities at the RTNDA BC conference. I joined a women’s team for a soccer tournament in Squamish.

Travel: We went to Seattle and Portland with my parents, my brother and his wife.

Life events: Celebrated a year with Orgle (with dinner at Chambar). I sincerely can’t say enough nice things about him. His unwavering support through my unemployment has been monumental. He is a caring soul who believes in me even when I do not. I didn’t know I could love someone this much.

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May.

Stuff we did: This is as active as I got all year.  I bought a bike to ride to work, I’m still playing soccer and now volleyball a couple nights a week. This would come to a crashing halt six weeks later. I was a speaker about the future of news online at the BCAB conference.

Travel: Third annual take-over of my parents place in Cedar.

Life events: At the start of the month, Orgle tears his ACL playing soccer. Eight months later and he is still up to 5 months away from surgery and another 8 months to a year from recovery.

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June.

Stuff we did: I was interviewed to be the head of the new Huffington Post BC edition. (The first of many interviews through the rest of the year.) Finally got Orgle to the Alibi Room – a big deal after some failed attempts.

Travel: Camping on Orcas Island.  Boy did it rain.

Life events: In a soccer game, I badly sprained by ankle. Six months later I’m still recovering. Hoping to play again in January. Also, this blog turned 7! (Meaning two months later I celebrated 7 years in Vancouver.)

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July.

Stuff we did: My balcony garden really started to take off. Sure, I planted my tomatoes too close together, making them tall and skinny instead of bushy.  I also accidentally put the mint in with other things.  I think I managed to separate it out, but we’ll see what sprouts in the spring! I started a cider blog and Orgle reconfigured our wine fridge to fit in more beer as he keeps cellaring it.

Travel: A trip across the country to Newfoundland (More pics here and here), where the people seem warm and welcoming even if you’re not entirely sure you know what they are saying.  It’s a beautiful, rugged landscape and every meal seems to be served with fries. We also are off to Vancouver Island again, this time to celebrate my mom’s birthday – my oldest friend, Sabrina, happens to stop by!

Life events: Tell my boss I’m quitting in August.

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August.

Stuff we did: It’s Orgle’s favourite day of the year – Dog days of summer at Nat Bailey.  It’s a night where people can bring their dogs to the stadium for baseball.  Orgle loves pups.  We wander the Richmond Night Market, gorging ourselves another night. We officially become Whitecaps supporters. We bought a five game pack with friends and watched most other games on TV. We head up to Britannia Mining Museum – familiar ground for Orgle who once worked at an underground mine.  Despite his knee and my ankle, we get out for some hiking through the summer. We hiked near Whistler and then went to the spa afterwards. Some of my final shifts at the radio station are spend working at The Fair at the PNE.  Orgle wanders the grounds for the first time, even taking a zip on the wooden rollercoaster.  He also goes to his first (and last?) CFL game.

Travel: Whistler for hiking and spa.

Life events: Walk out of the radio station for the last time.  I spent nearly five years working there and it was time to go. On the last day of the month, we head to the airport, Australia-bound.

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September.

Stuff we did: More than half of the month was spent in Australia. The rest was spent celebrating birthdays and, well, starting the process of figuring out what to do with my life.

Travel: Having been with Orgle a year and a half, it was time to fill in some of the knowledge gaps.  In other words, it was time to visit his homeland, meet his mom and other sister, see pictures of him as a baby and get to know his friends. We spent just over two weeks in Australia. (Pictures: Brisbane/Sunshine Coast, Melbourne/Great Ocean Road, Adelaide/Wine Region, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary), It was a painfully short visit (planned as such with the hope that I would be able to get it off work, which in the end I quit over).

Life events: Celebrate my 31st birthday and Orgle’s 29th. We’ve also been in our little apartment a year which, if my moving history suggests anything, is a milestone.

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October.

Stuff we did: I read career help books and applied for dozens of jobs. Orgle worked.

Travel: Taking advantage of my unemployment and Orgle’s decent vacation day allocation, we drove down to Seattle and caught a flight to Iceland for just over a week. It’s a beautiful country built on lava rock. It’s like they say, Iceland is green and Greenland is ice. (We flew over Greenland.) – If you consider Australia an island (which technically, it is not), it was our fifth island in less than five months. We also went to Vancouver Island for Thanksgiving.

Life events: At some point you realize your relatives aren’t going to be with you forever. I’ve lost my dad’s parents and the inevitability of my mom’s parents passing is upon us.  I have a grandfather who doesn’t remember me, nor the answer to a question less than five minutes ago. My mother recently made an astute comment that modern medicine is keeping his 87 year old body in relatively good shape, but is it worth it if his mind is going… going… gone?

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November.

Stuff we did: We watched Obama win again. That was pleasant. We were hiking North Shore mountains into November without snow or legitimate cold (this would soon end). Other fun things included hosting a clothing swap, convincing Orgle we needed to go to Ikea, learning how to make bread and going up to Squamish to look for eagles and dead salmon (finding a great out of the way meal too!).  I signed on with CBC to do some casual fill in as an associate producer for current affairs programs. I also got more involved with volunteer and political work.

Travel: Our second annual group getaway to the Sunshine Coast. It’s an excuse to sit in a hot tub and play board games (not at once).

Life Events: Three months without a full-time job. To be fair, if I wanted a job, I could have one by now. But I don’t. I’m terrified by the idea of taking something I will hate again.

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December.

Stuff we did: Started the month at Orgle’s company Christmas party, then woke up early the next morning to catch a ferry to Nanaimo. My brother and his pregnant wife were there visiting my parents. Unfortunately, I was only able to spend a day there before heading back to Vancouver for an interview with CUPE. Alas, it wasn’t worth it as I didn’t get the job.  Like November, it was a month of lots of interviews, meetings and rejection calls.  In less depressing news, Orgle got himself a case of Westvleteren – I’ll let you google that one. Friends joined us for a potluck on the 15th and karaoke on the 21st. I’m blessed to have such wonderful friends (and more Christmas cards than ever before!) We even got a little snow just before Christmas, and more presents than I deserved under the tree.

Travel: Took Via Rail to Edmonton to give Orgle the real Canadian winter experience.  It was -23 degrees when we got off the train. Christmas lights are better in the snow.  Also spent Christmas in Cedar with my parents and relatives.

Life Events: Another year over.

Next post: Looking forward to 2013.