Friday, 29 November 2013

'Tis The Season of Giving

For those who celebrate it (as I do) the Christmas season fast approaches. Often touted as a 'season of giving' it seems that the modern holiday season is more apt to be the 'season of buying'. Enticing commercials give proclamations of need for this product or that. Stores boldly announce that they carry items for everyone on your list. The list they announce includes everyone you may possibly encounter in your daily life. It truly is the 'season of buying' even with the intention of giving. I find this time of year a bit overwhelming in that aspect. I prefer to make memories, share laughs, break bread and partake in merriment with my friends and loved ones. 

Now I am not posting this to pass judgement or tell you how you should spend your money or what to buy. I am just sharing a bit of how I have seen the season in recent years. I enjoy aspects of the holidays yet part of me is concerned of the effects of such mass consumerism. That is why I delight in the initiatives and ideas that I have heard of over the years. Giving in a different way. Two examples come to mind. One I have been aware of for several years as it is a campaign put on by Metro Vancouver. The other I learned of the other day as it making its debut in Canada on Tuesday December 3: Giving Tuesday.

For the past several years, Metro Vancouver's Holiday Campaign promotes alternatives to buying products as gifts. With the burden of mounting garbage and environmental damage that occurs during Christmas, their clever campaign sets awareness to creating memories and being a "green angel". Using light humour they cast ideas of all sorts. Here is just one example:

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I learned of Giving Tuesday in one the daily papers in Vancouver. It announced its arrival in Canada this very year. What began in the USA in 2012 as counter-measure to the consumer buying frenzies of Black Friday and Cyber Mondays is now making its way to countries worldwide. As part of the UN Foundation, Giving Tuesday has now added Australia, Canada, Latin America, Mexico and Singapore to its roster. This global movement is an incredible opportunity for people to give back to charities of all sorts: local, national and international. A time for us to learn of these varied and needed charities and if able, to give to them. There are many ways to help: money, time, spreading the word and so much more.  Below I have listed the links to the country-specific websites. Please take a look, learn and if able, give in whatever way you can. I know I will. If you would like to promote Giving Tuesday please use the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #UNselfie. Post pictures of yourself and why you want to give. Post it on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook along with the hashtags. It is good to give back. Giving Tuesday USA - Australia - Canada - Latin America - Mexico - Singapore

Saturday, 23 November 2013


My first trip to Europe was with my dear friend Izabela. After spending three weeks in England I met up with her in Amsterdam. That began our super fast fun 3.5 week tour of The Continent. One of our stops was in city of Cologne (Koln), Germany. The hostel we stayed in was on one side of The Rhine River and we crossed a bridge twice daily. One our way to the city centre we would amble past the stately gothic Cologne Cathedral. This stunning building that took centuries to build looms along the Rhine and is a source of pride for its cities inhabitants. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the most visited sites in all of Germany. 

Cologne Cathedral @Nite...

Although I found the exterior intricate and stunning, it was the inside that wowed me. Ornate, elaborate and a bit foreboding I found myself looking skyward to its detailed ceilings, in awe of the art of its architecture. A small person in a giant world. 

Photo credit: Flickr - Sanjib Behera

Monday, 18 November 2013

Gray Days

So dreary
I do not know if it the shortened days with less sunlight, SAD, hormones or that I am just ready to leave but things just seem so gray and dull. There is no sunshine. I need daylight. All I want to do is leave. Go. Go somewhere where it is not the same old same old. I get up for work and it is the same routine. Now do no get me wrong. I like my work - I just do not like going to work. I am happier on my days off. I am even tired of seeing people. Now that is a big one because I enjoy being around people. It seems to be the same thing over and over and over. Same activities, same conversations, same city. I want change. I want to go. Then there seems to be the influx of farewell parties. Stupid Couchsurfing - people show up, become your friend and then they leave. I want a farewell party. I want to be the one to leave. God I can't wait to leave. 

These words to Vince Vaccaro's song (as I posted the video here) "Costa Rica" spin endlessly in my head:

"I wanna leave this place yeah never to be found,
I wanna leave my old life far behind
Can I lose my name be someone new
And I'll throw my trouble deep in the wild blue"

Sunday, 17 November 2013


Noisy, bustling, colourful, spicy, cultural - a beauty within a hectic design draws people into the magic of Marrakesh. Not the largest of Morocco's cities (Casablanca, Fes and Rabat precede it in size) yet possibly the most recognized. The souks (covered markets) alone come to mind when I think of this captivating city.  The maze of stalls filled with tasty foods, exquisite fabrics, colourful glassware, and enticing spices all the while honing haggling skills can make one's head spin, I imagine. Add ancient city walls, stately mosques, numerous palaces and beautiful gardens, one can see why travelers flock there.  Even French fashion designer Yves St Laurent owned a home here. In 2008, his ashes were scattered in Majorelle Gardens after his death.


I expect I will be wowed and overwhelmed by this incredible city when I finally visit.

Photo credit: Flickr - Ivan Serra

Friday, 15 November 2013

50 Questions

50 Questions eh? Sure, why not?! I am obliging to Jules request over at My Mom Is A Whack Job to copy and answer these and link back to her. Keeping in the same spirit, you do the same. 

Okay, here goes:

1. Do you like blue cheese? Yes yes yes! On stuff, alone, mixed in a pasta sauce etc. I love most every cheese and have an unnatural addiction to it

2. Have you ever smoked a cigarette? Yeah, a few times. I Always felt like crap later - ends up I'm allergic to tobacco. 

3. Do you own a gun?  Of course not. Handguns are illegal in Canada (and I feel much safer with that - no guns = no shootings). I don't hunt so I do not own a riffle.

4. What flavour do you add to your drink at Sonic? I have never been to Sonic and there are none in my area, that I am aware of.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Nope.

6. Do you like hot-dogs? Sure. Oddly enough, Vancouver is well known for Japa Dogs but I have never had one.

7. What is your lucky number?  9 - The fact that it is 5 times in my birth date seems significant to me (that's including the century, year, month, day and hour)

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Water and tea (tea usually on days off so I can enjoy it and not gulp it down).

Can you do push-ups? I can usually do some modified ones (knees bent) and maybe 1 military style one. But many years ago when I was slim and strong I could do 30 - 50 military style push-ups ~sigh~

10. What's your favourite meal? Oh so many to choose from. Of dishes I make myself it would be my variation of chicken piccata with rice and warm green beans in a homemade vinaigrette dressing. As for restaurants, probably the (veggie) tacos at La Taqueira. 

11. What's your favourite piece of jewelry? Uh...I dunno. I do not really wear jewelry (I'd be such a cheap girlfriend/wife). I guess my nose ring, which is actually an $8 piece of glass, cause I wear it all the time.

12. Favourite hobby? Hobby? Does going to the movies count - that is a fav pastime of mine. Recently I have been doing some hot yoga.

13. Do you work with people who idolize you? I would guess so. I am an RMT (Registered Massage Therapist) and my patients always tell me they love coming to see me.

14. Name a trait that you hate about yourself? That I have no follow through on things that I want to accomplish. I try and plan and my resolve lasts only a short while. I annoy myself all the time.

15. Middle name? Liisa
16. Name 3 thoughts at this moment: Holy crap it's windy outside! I should go to bed. Maybe I should check on the items on my balcony to see if they are still there?

17. Name 3 things you bought yesterday: chocolate Timbits, lunch (it was gross - not from Tim's), a diet pop.

18. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink: Water, Diet Coke, Beer (namely IPAs - that is India Pale Ale for you non-beer drinking freaks)

19. Current worry right now? A friend's health.

20. Current hate right now? Lack of daylight since the time change - I swear I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

21. Favourite place to be? Where I am wanted.

22. How did you bring in New Years? At a house party with friends - my cigars that I bought in Cuba were a big hit too.

23. Favorite place to go? The whole wide world

24. What is your most recurring dream? I have two. One used to be never getting on a plane for some reason or other - it was an awful dream. That has since changed in the past couple months and I dream of visiting other countries. The second one is that my friends hate me and want nothing more to do with me.

25. Introvert or extrovert? Both, I love being around people but I need my time away from the people I know. But I can not be without some sort of contact with people even if that means the transit driver or store clerk etc

26. What colour shirt are you wearing? Not a shirt - pj top that is gray

27. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? No - too slippery. Just give some good ole cotton ones, higher thread count preferred

28. Can you whistle? Yeah I am not to bad at it

29. Favorite colour?  Blue

30. Would you be a pirate?  Meh - maybe for Hallowe'en

31. What songs do you sing in the shower? I don't

32. Favorite girl’s name? Piper - I liked it so much I named my cat that (after all she is a very pretty and "girly" cat).

33. Favorite boy’s name? Dane but I liked that name before I ever heard of Dane Cook and I can't stand him.

34. Who is your loudest friend?  I have several.

35. What’s in your pocket right now?  N/A as I have no pockets on my pj's

36. Last thing that made you laugh? News clip about Rob Ford getting enough to "eat"

37. Bed sheets as a child?  I don't remember

38. Worst injury you’ve ever had? Whiplash from a car accident

39. Do you love where you live? Apartment wise - I like it and it works for now. City wise - yes, I love Vancouver but am ready to see the world.

40. How many TVs are in your house? One and it takes up a lot of room in my small space

41. What is your worst habit? Eating junk food waaay too much.

42. How many dogs do you have?  Zero - I am a cat person

43. Does someone have a crush on you? Oh come on...nobody like the big fat girl (I've actually been told that...more than once). At least it keeps the *ssholes away

44. Do you own slippers? No 

45. What is your favorite book?  A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith and the Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

46. What is your favorite candy? Peanut M&Ms but I am not supposed to eat them 'cuz I am allergic to red and yellow food dye (my system does not like that at all) so basically Dairy Milk and Lindt chocolates.

47. What is your favorite sports team?  Vancouver Canucks 

48. What song do you want played at your funeral I have never thought about it.

49. What were you doing at 12 AM last night? sleeping

50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up this morning?  "Move cat, cuz I really need to pee."


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Art schmart - what is the deal with it?

What is big deal about art? I mean really, come on! Someone puts paint on a canvas or hits a piece of stone with a chisel and we call it "art". We say it means something. 

So what does it mean?

Well, it means a whole lot of things. Humans have been carving and painting since we were cave dwellers. We, as a race, have followed this need to record our lives and it always began with images, with art. It also sets us apart from other mammals. We record. We express. We share. Art is so much more than just notes from an instrument, steps in a dance or colours on canvas. It is a recording of our history. Art, in its numerous forms, is a narrative. A human narrative. This narrative is even viewed from an anthropological point. Beliefs, history, culture, ceremonies, wars, portraits, nature, and celebrations are expressed in art. Susanne K Langer describes its importance succinctly here.  Even the recent discovery of the "art find of the century" has made headlines. Discovery of over 1,400 lost or unknown works in Munich, Germany has caused excitement beyond the art world. The story of these stolen paintings from Nazi Germany is now part of our history. 

Yes, art in all its forms is important. It is not just leisure or an extravagance. Art and its history matters. Additionally, one does not need to be an artist to appreciate the arts. Who doesn't like music (in its numerous styles) or marvel at skilled dancers. I myself, although not an artist by any means, have been moved by paintings, cried to touching music and been in awe of spectacular dance. I have also been puzzled by art (not sure I understand modern art but realize that it is about perspective) and even bored by it, yet I do understand its importance. It speaks of us.

That is what art means, at least to me.

Below are pictures of a few of my favourites. I have seen all of these except the one by Klimt.

Etombment of Atala by Girodet-Trioson
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Detail of Dying Slave (The Captive) by Michaelangelo
Photo taken by myself.


The city square was a central meeting place in ancient cities. Even in a more recent histories they have maintained that social aspect - a place for citizens to eat, drink, sing, dance, discuss and formulate ideas. In 15th century Rome, over its first stadium, Piazza Navona was built. Later, during his papacy, Pope Innocent X shaped it into a tribute for his family, who's palace faced the piazza. Restoration of both his family palace and the Sant'Agnese in Agone church along with the commissioning of Bernini's famous Fountain of Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi) boasted the baroque style of the time.  Additional fountains at either end of the piazza add to its architectural beauty. 

Piazza Navona

Today this stunning plaza remains a (pedestrian) gathering place filled with restaurants, cafes, artists and a place to share memories with family and friends 

Photo credit: Flickr - O Snail

Sunday, 3 November 2013


Today's special spot is inspired by a favourite song: "Costa Rica" by Vince Vaccaro.

Costa Rica is a lush country situated from coast to coast of Central America. It is a country that has achieved amazing environmental and human development objectives. In addition to being known for exciting ecotours, sensational nature, pristine beaches, and outstandingly diverse flora and fauna, this tropical country is a leader in sustainability and peace. Despite it's tropical climate (it is only 12 degrees north of the equator) its geography provides different weather pending the region. 

Costa Rica February-March 2011


Photo credit: Flickr - Luc Van der Biest

As a bonus I have included the video by Vince Vaccaro that inspired today's post: