Thursday, July 31, 2008

Might somebody be trying to tell me something?

I've been trying to go camping for quite some time now. Each weekend adventure - week after week after week - gets shortened into a day hike, which is fine, but it's not camping.

Two or three weekends ago I tried to go to High Falls Creek in Squamish, about an hour our of Vancouver up the Sea to Sky highway (which, other than a day long detour through Lilooet, is the only road to Squaminsh/Whistler/Pemberton. map ). The plan was to hike, then go to Whytecliffe Park (a great little park and beach halfway home) for burgers and a swim afterwards. I didn't get a lot of people interested, and I forgot I had a baby shower that day anyway. Ok, fine.

Last weekend, I tried to do the High Falls/Whytecliffe combo again. We had a great group of people, we drove to Squamish, but then decided that rain + steep exposed rock cliffs + narrow trail along a steep canyon pretty much sucked, so we did another, lower, not as deadly hike. This was also totally fun, but again, not High Falls Creek.

This weekend is a long weekend, and dagnamit, I'm going camping! We've got a great crew of ten fabuloso people, details arranged, food (mostly) bought, cars arranged. The plan was to hike in to Joffre Lakes just outside of Pemberton, about three hours from Vancouver, also along the Sea to Sky highway.

A great plan, except for this:

And this
Can you spot the wee little humans?
It happened about 11pm Tuesday night, and they're not expecting the highway to be open until at LEAST Monday. They have to BLOW UP all the rock and shove it into the ocean first. And determine if the foundation for a whole lot of other unstable rock just left the whole REST of the mountain ready and able to collapse at any time. Uhhhh, yeah.


So we're skipping out on our Pemberton plans and heading the OTHER direction, along with all the other THOUSANDS of people who can't get up the Sea to Sky. *shakes head*

Oh well, it's an adventure, right? And unless a massive rockslide blocks ALL highways outta this town, I WILL BE GOING CAMPING THIS WEEKEND. End. Of. Story.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Where does the time go?

Summertime! There's just too much living to do to blog!

Summer school is hurlting along. Three weeks down, one to go, then finally - FINALLY - freedom! I've been jetting out of work as quickly as I can for BBQs, hanging on the beach, hiking, going to the fireworks, taking nana out for her 89th birthday dinner, parties... goodness, I don't even KNOW what I've been up to, but it's sure been fun. I kind of figure, if I have to work, I may as well squeeze as much other stuff in as I can. Of course, that also means that I'm out every night till usually late and am getting no work around the house done... but hey, that's what rainy summer days are for, right?

Erm, or not. Today it's supposed to rain for the first time in four weeks - FOUR WEEKS, people! Oh sweet glorious, glorious summer! - and I'm dead set on hiking anyway. I've been trying to do this hike for weeks, dag namit! Hmm... the slippery steep exposed rocky cliffs that we're supposed to be scrambling up may not be such a great idea when they're wet... but let a girl dream!

Now about these fireworks. Hand us if you've been to the Symphony of Fire/Celebration of Light in Vancouver. I tell you. They have RUINED me for any other fireworks displays. Ever. Synchronized to music, shot off a barge in English Bay, hundreds of thousands of people crammed along the beaches all over English Bay, Stanley Park, and beyond. Streets closed downtown for the absolute HORDES of people leaving en masse. I LOVE the fireworks. Love love love. I don't think I made it to one show last year (there are four a year), and by golly I want to go to every one this year.

I saw Canada's display through the lens of my camera on Wednesday, and got some cool shots. I'll post a link in a few days when I'm actually HOME enough to upload them, but here's a teaser to give you an idea of the cooleriffic display on Wednesday night (GO CANADA!). And below that is a picture I only WISH I took - a view of the fireworks from a few years ago taken from Cyress mountain. Wowowowow.

Off I go. Church then HIKING! Quite possibly in the rain. Good times.

Above = Mine.
Below = Not mine. I wish! Click the photo for photo credit (and a bigger version)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Not a bad Saturday night!

Who'd a thunk it? A girl sends out an invite for a "Gahden Pahty, Dahlink" (said in pretentiously snooty accent), and every girl on the invite list but one declines, and every boy who replies can come. (And no, we're not in the garden. We were, till it cooled off and the bugs came out!)

Karen. Me. Ten boys. Not bad, eh?
Tee hee hee! (Click to embiggen)

It was actually pretty great to have people over! It's been far too long! Good food, a BBQ, some serious laughs. I love summer! *sigh!*

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Inspired by a sink of dirty dishes

It's tough when you don't feel like posting a lot
So I decided to sit and write all in one shot.
Eight posts all at once to entice and amaze
But sheer volume of words just might leave you dazed.

So come back every day to read one or two
Or sit down in one shot and read them all through.
Come visit, leave comments, clickity click
To help you, this link just might do the trick.

You can start with the label I linked to above
To see all at once is one way you might love.
Or you can start with this jolly post here
Like the Choose Your Adventures of yesteryear.

Chronologically speaking, all posts are back-dated -
Hopefully not a practice that's hated.
Now, this rhyming, while grand, has lost most of it's meaning;
Oh well, it's sure fun... and it's kept me from cleaning! :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Choose Your Own Adventure

There's lots to catch up on, so let's do it "Choose your own adventure" style, shall we? Click the links to all the posts I should have written over the last few weeks to find out more! (They're not all just below this one, some are hiding among posts that actually WERE written. It's a game, or sorts. Maybe only fun for me, but hey...)


A hot summer Saturday is the perfect opportunity for a hike. So, of course, I seized that opportunity last weekend and had a SPECTACULAR day. I didn't, however, end up with many photos, because my camera was misbehaving. (To read about WHY my camera was misbehaving, and how I blame orangutans, click here) But it was a gorgeous hike, with views of Howe Sound, the Gulf Islands, and the Lions.

Through the forest and past meadows and viewpoints, it was a good climb, too, and I felt good and wiped out by the end. The trail was also a little tricky in places, because there was a windstorm this past week, and there were a TON of blown down branches along the trail, and even a few large, gnarled trees - though these were most likely there before the windstorm - that completely blocked the path. (To find the answer to the age old arithmetic problem "Summer School + Windstorm = ???" click here.) But then again, what's a hike without a little scrambling straight up a steep forest floor, blazing your own path as you go? There was still quite a bit of snow during the last part of the hike, too, but we managed fine. (Well, mostly fine. To read about one effect of lots of snow on a hike and how that relates to prunes, click here.) Too bad there was no good opportunity for bum skiing!

Tired and dirty, we all decided the best place to go after a good climb to the top of a mountain was the ocean, with a pit stop to Dairy Queen first, of course! (For more on ice cream and corn, click here!) After woofing down our Blizzards, we hightailed it to the beach and in we dove for a swim. (To find out about another beach day and why the cops should have hauled me off to jail, click here.) Ah, glorious ocean! The water was beautiful, as was the hour and a bit we spent lying on the warm sand drying off and soaking in a whole lot of sunshine.

I arrived home: happy, hungry, and ... hexhausted (like "exhausted," but better, cause it starts with an H like the other words in my list), and flopped on the couch to eat nachos and guac and watch TV. Turns out The Princess Diaries 2 was on, so I unashamedly watched the entire thing and even cried at the end. Um, kind of a lot. Did mention how hexhausted I was? (Now that just looks like I'm a witch. Hex? Really? Whatever. Wow. I'm losing focus here, people. Where was I? Oh. Right... To read about another time I was completely hexausted and a little train spoke to me, click here.)

And that brings me to now. Totally, completely hex... tuckered out, I'm headed to bed. Pitter patter around the posts I linked to. They're not ALL as nutty as this one.

Some are even nuttier.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A tastebud extravaganza

Smack dab in the middle of a somewhat seedy industrial area in Vancouver is perhaps the BEST gelato shop EVER. That's right. La Casa Gelato on Venables.

I hadn't been down there in years, so I had forgotten quite what a spectacle it is. I should have known we were in for a not-just-your-typical ice cream shop when every surface in the parking lot except the ground was painted pink! (Yes Sarah! Even parking lots can be pink! ;) )

We could tell we were coming up on it because of the hordes of people on the corners of an otherwise fairly unpopulated stretch. When we got out of the car, we were greeted with live music from the steel drum player outside and the conversation of dozens and dozens of people.

As we opened the doors, our senses were overwhelmed: sights of at least a hundred people, smells of sugary waffle cones and candy, sounds of a super perky Italian version of Oh Suzanna blaring on the loudspeaker... we weren't entering an ice cream shop, we were entering a circus! A delicious, delicious circus.

La Casa Gelato is famous for having over 200 flavours of gelato and sorbet. Two hundred and eighteen, to be precise. And that's just what they can serve at any one time. Apparently they have five hundred and eight in the rotation. And hoo boy do they have some interesting ones. A smattering of the gelato flavours I sampled: fennel, pear and gorgonzola cheese, balsamic vinegar, wild mushroom, basil, spicy yam, cranberry vodka, lavender, garlic... I'm sure there were more, I just can't think of them. I've heard of beer, jalepeno, curry, carrot, and rose, too, but they weren't out that night. I really didn't feel it necessary to try the "corn" flavour. That just kinda grossed me out. They also had "rice." But really. What would that taste like? I ended up with chai tea and lime tequila. Soooo yummy!

I pretty much think you could have a whole meal there, don't you think? All food groups represented! Mmmmmmm!

We ate our gelato in the courtyard across the street, enjoying the live music, the kids with ice cream dripping down their faces, and the warm summer breeze. I SO have to go back there! What fun!

Well, except for the corn flavour. Blech!

To go back to the main story, click here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Just because this tickled my funny bone.

I wants me one!

That's one heck of a soaker!

We got a LOT of snow this winter, and we have had an exceptionally cold and rainy spring (but it's ok, it's been hot and glorious for over two weeks in a row now, so all is forgiven). All of this means that there is still a lot of snow on the mountains. If you plan on going hiking, don't be surprised if you have to do some of it in the snow.

Now this is normally not an issue. It's fun on a blazing hot summer day to throw snowballs at each other or to do some serious bum skiing. But apparently there are certian hazards to watch out for. There are the usual creek-under-the-snow type hazards, and the slippery-snowy-slope type hazards (and probably more that I'm not aware of and really should be if I'm gonna go do these kinds of things).

But there's one hazard I wasn't exactly expecting. That would be the "ground drops out from under one foot revealing that what you thought was trail was really a slushy muddy watery snowy pine-needly and did-I-mention-muddy hip-deep HOLE into a not-yet melted alpine lake" hazard.


There I was, walking along the FOREST FLOOR - not snow, not slush - DIRT FLOOR, when to my left I noticed a lake that was still partly frozen over. In the middle there was slushy lake, then toward the edge was watery lake, watery mud, mud, and dry trail. Granted, I stepped in the mud, but still. IT WAS NOT THE LAKE! Except, apparently the ground dropped off at a ninety degree angle and it really WAS the lake.

The ground quickly gave way and I found myself one foot on the trail, one foot sunken in UP TO MY HIP, I kid-you-not. It made the noisiest slurping sound as I heaved myself out in a puddle of mud and slush and water and laughter. I can only imagine what I looked like to my friends behind me. One minute, walking along, the next minute - WHOOSH! Four feet shorter and covered in ooze!

(Just try to ignore how butch I look in the photo, mmkay?)

And yes, looking at that photo, it LOOKS like that big muddy hole is OBVIOUSLY a part of the lake. But that was AFTER I MADE IT LOOK LIKE THAT, folks! It looked completely like that patch of ground my right foot is resting (solidly!) on before the EARTH GAVE WAY AND TRIED TO EAT ME!

I was fine, albeit dirty and with a heck of a lot of water in my boot. Good thing I have proper hiking boots and wear synthetic liners and wool socks when I go hiking (hence the hottie sockline tan half way up my calf, baby, yeah!). Nearly three hours later, and squishfoot Hillary had turned into a rather extreme example of pruney goodness, complete with pine needles between my toes. (Again, the photo doesn't do justice to the amount of forest floor I removed inside my hiking boot!)

Chalk it up to yet another hiking adventure!

To go back to the main story, click here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I have seen the effects of the wind, but I have never seen the wind

"Miss Hillary! It's snowing!"
"Aaaah! It's gonna get on me!"
"There's someone knocking at the door!"

These are a mere smattering of the excited, distracted comments the kids were shouting out all day today. The wind picked up last night, and it was blustery all day today. Goooood and windy. Branches down, power out, waves pounding - you name it. But it was also blazingly hot, so I tried to have my windows open to at least get some fresh air in my sweltering classroom.

That is, until I realized that there is a big grove of cottonwood trees right outside my window (my summer school is not at the same location as my "regular" school), and the little balls of fluff that are the cottonwood seeds were blowing into my room by the bucket load, swirling around, landing on desks, swooshing back into the air, landing on kids, making them want to chase them all over the room. Yeah, not the greatest scenario for teaching (but it sure was cute!)!

And then there were the constant comments that someone was at the door knocking to get in. I think I told them twenty times that it was just the pocket chart that was tacked there flapping against the door.

But it's when a rather large gust of wind blew three posters OFF THE WALL - one of which still retained it's tack and landed in a little girl's lap, poking her in the thigh, that I decided it was time to give up and shut the windows!

A rather eventful first ten minutes of class!

To go back to the main story, click here.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Summer time. Hot weather, long days, miles of sandy shore, downtown bathed in evening light, sun setting through hazy mountain range after hazy mountain range... there's nothing better than heading down to the beach for a picnic and an evening swim. I've been getting down to Kits, Jericho, Locarno, Spanish Banks - you name it - as much as I possibly can these days. After hikes, after work, whenever. The water is cool and refreshing, and the warm sand between my toes and salt on my skin just makes me SO happy! So happy that I start acting like a CRAAAAZY woman. Clearly.

I went down to Jericho with a friend from work tonight and packed us a picnic - a nice crispy salad, chicken, and a desert of angel food cake, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream. The store was out of the regular kind, so I was forced to get chocolate whipped cream (!!!!!!!) instead. Life is ROUGH.

But it was also HOT, and we are both teaching summer school, and it's summer, and the beach, and I was in the mood for some danger, so I popped a couple of beers in the cooler, too.

Oh yeah.

This is only hilarious because of the fact that I rarely drink, and when I do I don't even really LIKE beer (though the lighter kinds are growing on me), and I'm WAY too much of a goody goody. But I popped those beers in the cooler and we drank them and golly-shucks-DARN they were good!

I only had a minor coronary when the coppers who patrol the beach on their quads (seriously. Can *I* have that job, PLEASE? Drive up and down the beach all evening on a four by four? Rough life!) pulled up, spotted our dinner and cooler, and stopped to hang around a bit to keep an eye. Public drinking and revelry? Booyahshaka! You betcher booties! But we played it cool. Reeeeal cool. The Fuzz never knew a thing, and we busted out the booze... after they were long gone and my heart had stopped palpitating.

In fact, we were SUCH party animals that we didn't even finish one beer each.

Now THAT'S what I call LIVIN' ON THE EDGE!!!!

To go back to the main story, click here.

Summertime slacking

Well how's about that? Post every day, post every day, post every day, then BOOM! Nuttin'! For a week!

I'm even trying to think of what I've been up to... lots of random summer stuff, which is awesome! (Well, and having to go in for two days of my week off before summer school to finish packing up my classroom - not so awesome, but hey, it's done!) Beach, hikes, Playland (an amusement park here in Vancouver), chillin' with friends from near and far... I LOVE THE SUMMERTIME!

Summer school is underway, and I've got three sessions of cutie patootie rugrats. Kindergarten to grade three, we're all learning to become better readers and writers. Woot woot! As much as my entire body and soul revolt against actually getting up and going to work every morning, and every evening I lament the fact I can't spend all of the next day on the beach, I'm actually enjoying being there each day. This whole primary summer school thing is soooo much easier now that I've actually, I dunno, taught primary! I'm sure stories will be forthcoming!

In the meantime, I'm off!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Shabby Green Door, revisited

Last night* I listened to a talk by David Gotts, who is the director of International China Concern, an organization who works with abandoned babies, children, and young people in China. It left me rather overwhelmed.

There are over one million children abandoned in China every year. Eighty percent of them die.

Dave described the scene at a particular orphanage in China... One worker caring for forty children, many of whom had some sort of mental or physical disability, or both. Four or five children sharing one wooden cot to sleep on. Children with disabilities sitting alone in the courtyard, tied to a chair, left there all day long and into the night. Children going wild when the meager meal was brought in, swarming the servers, stuffing the food into their mouths as fast as they could for fear another child would steal it from their hands; crawling along the filthy floor picking up any leftover grain of rice they could find - anything that they could put in their mouths. Bones that had been chewed clean and tossed on the floor would be picked up by someone else, sucked clean and tossed away once more, only to be picked up by another child, then another, then another. The light of hope extinguished from a child's eyes because they knew that they were most likely going to die. All humanity had gone from that place.

Then there was the shabby green door - a padlocked door to a room where the sickest or weakest children were put when there were simply too many children in the orphanage. It was off in a corner beside a noisy water system, which would drown out the sound of a child crying or pleading for food. Eventually, the child would stop crying, stop pleading, and quietly starve to death.

What kind of world lets children die, cold and alone, padlocked behind a door. What kind of world leaves a child on the street to die just because it's a girl and not a boy, or because the child has a disability? Why does God let this happen???

And it's not just in China. Things like this happen all over the world. Extreme poverty and suffering in India, in Africa, in South America... Even right here in my own neighbourhood. A homeless man died on Sunday morning on Hastings Street. He froze to death. What kind of world are we living in???

I cannot shake the image of that shabby green door. I don't think I want to. It's so easy to hear a story like that and feel so far removed from it. It's overwhelming. It's so far away. What could I possibly do? But I don't want to just slough it off, letting it bring a tear to my eye and then carrying on with my life as if it never happened. I want it to affect me, to motivate me to action. But I'm scared of what that means, and don't even know where to start...

* Originally posted December 6, 2005

Wow, that was messed. up.

I had a dream last night that I had a blind date, but I had to go to this dinner first, and it was a big ol' party. Two of the guests were Dooce and her husband, Jon. I was sitting beside Dooce, and was telling her that I wanted to buy some postcards to send to some friends. She told me she should give me one of her post cards, but I said no thank you, I already had some and had sent them to those friends, then she started rubbing my upper arm with her thumb and I was all, what the heck? It was kind of hurting, and she didn't stop. I thought she was pressuring me to take a postcard, so I told her about sending them, and the friend's reactions, etc. But then she licked her thumb and wiped it on the spot she was just rubbing, and then I realized that she was happy I had postcards already and was going to pour salt on my arm and do a tequila shot and it was her way of saying that I'm awesome! Ooookay. It was at this point that I told her I had a blind date that night, after the dinner, but that he was actually AT the dinner, too, over on the other side of the room with a bunch of guys who were watching Elvis videos. It was supposed to be Karaoke, but no-one was singing. So Dooce motioned to her husband to take me over there, and I was all, "No no no!" but he got up and literally dragged me (darn shoes with no grip!) over to my date, whose name was Fergus or something. We kinda laughed, cause we both knew we were there. Someone had been razzing him about going on a blind date, too. I watched Karaoke for a bit, then Jon (Dooce's husband) lent Fergus his car to go out on our date. I was upset cause we hadn't had dinner yet, and I wanted to still hang out with Dooce, but hello, awesome! We had BlurboDooce's car! We went on our date, but none of the date was in the dream except for arriving back at the restaurant two hours later, and seeing someone come out from the party apparently naked (no parts visible) but covered in yellow and orange body paint. Then Dooce came out and she had her face painted, and I was all, "Aw Darn!!! I missed the face painting party?!?!?!" I have no idea how the date went, and don't know if it was an "Aw darn" cause the date sucked and I missed a fun time out with Dooce or if it was an "Aw darn" cause really? Face painting with Dooce is awesome but oh well cause the date was great. I walked into the restaurant, and then I woke up, realizing that aw crap! I had wanted to be at school for my final packing day 45 minutes ago.


Off I go...

*UPDATED* Arriving here at school to pack up the last of my stuff, hand in the move over, and turn over my keys, I realized that I also dreamed last night there was a last minute class created for next year and that I got to keep my job.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Canada Day, eh?

Here be a little overview of Canadian History for y'all to celebrate this great nation's 141st birthday. Hold on tight and enjoy the ride!

(Oh watch it... it's FUNNY! It's more like "history." Heh.)

Aaaand, cause a few of you have mentioned it to me already today, here be my Canada Day YouTube debut from last year. Sans sound. Avec mucho ridiculousness. Because my camera has no sound (dumb dumb dumb!), I had written a message and the words to Oh Canada on all those pages, but it was too sunny and it all got washed out. Yes. I'm a nerd. And apparently I have no shame...