Sunday 30 November 2014

The Kindness of Strangers

Make new friends, but keep the old,
One is silver and the other gold.
~the song we used to sing in Brownies.  It still makes sense.
I made a new friend today.
He gave me his car. 
First the backstory:
Four of us came together for a girls' weekend and informal ODPU reunion.
(here I need to interject that 'Odd Poo' stands for the former University of Calgary Outdoor Pursuits program and is the all-time worst acronym I've ever heard.  I refuse to use it except in very specific tongue-in-cheek situations.  It more aptly describes the way I feel after eating too much dairy, but that's another story.)
We were converging from east and west and planned to meet mid-way in Lake Louise.  A winter storm warning and terrible road conditions stopped us in Canmore.
In white-out conditions reminiscent of the Wapta ski traverse, we landed safely at the adorable, homey and kind Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge.
It featured cozy rooms, a fireplace and the all-essential hot tub.  Perfect.
Things really took off the following day as our fourth member met up with us after the storm.  We skied, settled in, giggled and caught up, perusing old school photos and sharing delicious preserves from the Okanagan (thank you for bottling up that sunshine Christin!)
We'd all been reading Ken Wylie's new book Buried.  As former students of Ken's, we discussed his courageous book at great length throughout the weekend.
He taught us much as an instructor in ODPU.  And I'm grateful that he's still teaching me with the brave words in his book.  I'm left considering the importance of heeding your intuition, speaking up when you know it to be right, regardless of the social implications, and that experience without reflection is for naught.
We stayed up late talking about these concepts, the world and our lives.
What a gift to gather with soul friends like these!

And this morning we woke up to -30.  It felt like -40.
LaHonda wouldn't start.  We tried everything.  We jumped the car, we harnessed the energy of a Nordic ski team to try for a push start.  We plugged it in.  We crossed our fingers.
Nothing worked.
Holly had a flight to catch back to Saskatoon.  The clock was ticking.  So our new best friend Pat, whose family runs the Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge GAVE US HIS CAR.
Mom, I swear I did not steal this car.  It was given to me.
It's an upgrade to say the least. 
For one thing, it starts.  And beyond that, it has SEAT HEATERS! 
We drove back to Calgary in luxury, filled with gratitude.
And remembering Ken Wylie's wise words about the importance of reflecting on experience, let me share a few lessons learned....
1.  If anyone travels with me, they must prepare themselves for a change in plans.  Because as hard as I try, it seems that something always goes a little teensy bit (or a whole heck of a lot) awry.  As we learned in ODPU, this is called a 'misadventure'.  Though I've been known to curse my misadventures as they are unfolding, without them:
  A) I'd have no new material for my blog (wouldn't that be a shame dear readers?) and,
  B) There'd be so much less excitement in my life  (which leads me to point #2)
2.  It is exactly these unplanned mishaps that bring great excitement and open me to new lessons and experiences.  I spent this morning upset and stressed and left this afternoon with a brand new friend and a great new car (I promise that I'll bring it back tomorrow Pat!)  It's when I've travelled with the least money that I've connected most deeply with new friends around the world.  I've stayed in their homes, eaten with their families, shared guinea pigs on my birthday.  When I have more resources and everything goes according to plan (don't worry, it's rare), I am somehow insulated against the exquisite and unplan-able (is that a word??) memorable moments that come from not knowing where I am, where I'll sleep that night, or whether my car will start...
And, ummmm.... lesson 3:  In Canada's chilly climes, it helps to plug your car in overnight....

Friday 28 November 2014


Changing the food industry for the better.

It needs to happen.  And that's just what my friend Lindsey aims to do. 

From her little basement in Canmore, Alberta, she is changing our snacking habits one bite at a time.  Downstairs, with her little ones in tow, she whips up amazing healthy treats and calls it all Tasty Living.  Her two healthy, rosy-cheeked kids are more excited about hemp chips and delicious wow cacao energy bites than licorice or gummy bears.  Now that's what I call awesome.

And beyond awesome, it's essential.  Have you heard what lurks in some of our food these days?  Those long labels and indecipherable words hide many dark secrets.  Today I found out that beaver anal gland juice could be giving my conventional treats their vanilla or raspberry flavor.  Yes, you heard me right:


They call it castroleum to make it sound better.  Our poor Canadian beavers.

Luckily, most of us aren't beavers.  So why would we eat wood shavings?  Nicely disguised with the word 'cellulose', this is used as filler or texturizing material.  If you haven't already lost your appetite and want to find out more, check out the shady secrets here:

But let's get back to being awesome - and step up our snack selections.  If you want to give a little boost to a gal who's doing this for all of us, support Lindsey on Kickstarter.

You can play a part in shifting the food industry too!

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Seeing Through New Eyes*

I've just had the pleasure of spending a week with a group of fascinating, engaged, accomplished, kind and humble new friends in the Canadian Rockies.

I took a week off from my amazing new job in municipal government (where I talk trash to kids every day by leading tours of our local landfills) to revisit the Rockies with Backroads on their premiere walking trip.  Every Backroads trip is amazing.  And this particular journey is really something to write home about.  I was in awe every day.  I am again reminded why I so often say that working as a trip leader is the best job in the world (and luckily for me, it sits in good company amongst one of the many 'best jobs in the world' that I have held.)

Spending this week introducing newcomers to Banff, Kootenay and Yoho National Parks helped me to view the area through new eyes.  I'll quote Marcel Proust here as he writes,

'The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.'

I owe a debt of gratitude to my new friends for helping me to open my new eyes each morning in the Canadian Rockies.  Though I've had the great privilege of travelling the world and experiencing many of the best things our earth has to offer, I am still most blown away by my own backyard. 

Our group of twenty shared conversations, daily hikes bringing us to ever more beautiful vistas and a dip in a mountain lake.  We smelled sweet pine sap on cool alpine breezes, marveled at thunderstorms over our gourmet meals and emerged from the richest desserts you could imagine just in time to see a double rainbow over the Rockies.

My co-leader Kenny (a generous, multi-talented man most noted for his hilarity and his cooking skills - seriously folks, check out Thai Cooking With Kenny!) toasted our week together saying,

'It is a special opportunity to spend a week in such a spectacular place with such a wonderful group of people - made more so by working alongside one of my best friends.' 

Kenny, I couldn't agree more.  And as far as best friends go, I am one lucky gal.  This one's for you.

Here I am, reading you a final morning poem.  I can put up photos of myself because it's my blog.  So there. 
Photo Credit:  Mark Weston
Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

from Dream Work (1986) by Mary Oliver
© Mary Oliver
*The title of this post was inspired by one of my mentors and a woman I see as a modern prophet, Joanna Macy.  For more on her work and seeing with new eyes, I highly recommend any one of her wonderful books, or her website: 

Saturday 31 May 2014


Just a few lessons that I have to share from an epic hiking trip I took in Peru with friends in 2012.

First and foremost.  Go there.  Get to Choquequirao.  Though this was perhaps the most epic hike I've undertaken in the Andes, it was worth every sweaty step.  Choquequirao is hot, remote, expansive, mysterious and 100% magic.  Go there.  Did I say that already?

Now onto some lessons learned on a dusty, sweaty, major trek.

1. Take the long view.  I learned this way back in my university Outdoor Pursuits days.  Go figure, they were right.  Yes, you will hike up for 1.5 miles straight.  But you WILL get to come back down again.  Oh wait, that part's painful too.  Scratch point #1.

2.  Don't drag your baggage along.  Seriously!  How many times do I have to learn this one?  All you REALLY need is a Snickers bar in your pocket.  All those cucumbers and journals really start to weigh a girl down. 

3.  Things never go according to your expectations.  Ummmm....just ask my friend Carolanne, or anyone who's paddled Georgian Bay in 50km/hr winds.  And the point is - this is usually where the best memories and experiences happen.

4.  Why do we do this after all?  Remind me...  Some might say it's for the profound connections to nature and to one another.  Some like to get really dirty so that a shower 5 days later feels just that much more phenomenal.  I hold that it's for the discomfort that jerks you smack into the beautiful present.  Or so that we can eat more Snickers bars.  One of the two.

and 4.5 Break in your hiking boots first.  Right Karen?

Now get thee to Choquequirao, Peru.  Wow.  No other words will do.

2 Days in Purge-a-tory

It's spring.
And I just moved into a clean new home.
That means one thing and one thing only:  it's time to purge old possessions.
Goodbye old love letters.  Goodbye ancient, expired snack foods.  And good riddance old bills.
But it's SUCH an emotional process!  Painful, slow, and the LAST thing I love to do.

Yup, purging.  My worst nightmare.

All I can say is thank God for my mother.  She flew out to help me.  She's more patient than Job.  She's an organizational guru.  She's endlessly giving.  And endlessly forgiving when she ends up in the accidental role of whipping boy in my more emotional moments. (Sometimes, I am a very bad person)

My mom, the saint - providing snacks and smiling, even in the midst of my hell...

Obviously, I should have called in reinforcements.  One of the many friends or family members who love to declutter, throw out old junk - some of whom actually do it professionally.  Like, for a living.  I mean, check these gals out:  Room to Breathe (Incidentally, they were writing a piece on how to declutter your home AS I was doing it...)

The biggest problem I have is with paper - it just builds and builds...The number of coloured post-its and chicken-scratch-covered receipts that have passed through my home probably amount to at least 7 ancient redwood trees.  And that's not cool.  Not to mention that at times I feel that they are burying me alive.  Retribution from the redwoods for taking their children before their time I suppose.

It's just that I feel like I need to capture every thought I think.  Somehow catch these ephemeral moments in ink...I have scraps of poetry, snippets of screenplays, random 3am strokes of insight and an overwhelming amount of non-done to-do lists.  But thanks to my Mom, I have a few less now.  The struggle continues - if you can handle a stressed-out ginger, come on by and help out...
 (but anyone who knows me well will tell you that an angry ginger is not to be taken lightly)
**Months later, and I finally have recovered my wits sufficiently to write about it.  Trust me, it wasn't pretty - but now I'm so proud of my place that I'm inspired to post the whole place to Pinterest...

Thursday 8 May 2014

Farming is Life

(the rest is just details)


I've fallen in love these past few days.

(what else is new? you may ask)

It's totally different this time!

When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a farmer.

Then I got older, worked in the mountains, sat in an office and forgot about the farm.

Until last week.

And now I want to be a farmer again.  Or at least marry one.
(I'm under no false illusions here.  I do recognize that farming - or loving a farmer - is probably one of the most demanding things a human bean (thank you SARK!) could choose to undertake.  And I am not excited about the idea of 4am wake-ups.  Or never taking holidays.  Or working all season only to have the weather destroy your crops.  But I do believe that knowing the land, learning how to live in harmony with our changing seasons and providing nourishment for our species - in a sustainable way - is one of the most noble, needed pursuits on the planet today.)

I spent the week with my seventh cousins thrice removed on their land near Clearwater, Manitoba.
I showed up like city-girl Paris Hilton on The Simple Life, only without the cute outfits (and showing less cleavage).  I arrived in nightclub boots and skinny jeans.  Like the wonderful people they are, my family welcomed me in with open arms (and a more farm-appropriate Carhartt uniform).  I vow to get one for myself now  (I mean, how can I possibly become a capable, resilient person without the right outfit?? Seriously...)

A calf literally fell out of its mother as Mom and I forced our compact rental car up the lane way. 

I named him Teardrop.  But don't tell Don.  Even I know that you're not supposed to name farm animals.
(But my parents' friends once made a pseudo-exception to this rule by naming their backyard cow 'Freezer Beef')
Within an hour I was driving a tractor.  And then I was holding a gun for the first time in my life.  I'd never imagined I'd see the words Winchester and Remington up close.  It was terrifying.  I can't believe my cousin Don trusted me to even hold the thing.  Thankfully, I'm a terrible shot, so the gophers of Clearwater have never been safer.

My family is absolutely amazing.  If there are more generous people on the planet, living with greater integrity, I have yet to meet them.  This land is their life.  Once upon a time they had fields yellow with canola.  Then they raised sheep.  And now cows.  When I asked Don why he switched from canola to cattle, he said that he didn't like what the crops were doing to the land.  He takes a holistic management approach to farming, mimicking nature's processes.  Allan Savory, who first conceived of this notion believed that, "only livestock can save us."  He believes that rotational cattle grazing can restore rangeland soil.  These restored grasslands are then able to sequester vast amounts of carbon dioxide, lessening our negative impacts on the atmosphere.

I only spent two days on the farm. 
But under these vast open skies holding a newborn calf in my arms, I had an epiphany.  This really is life.  In our cities, we remove ourselves from the cycles of life, death, weather and seasons, hiding out in malls and on freeways.  Here, out in the Manitoba wind, I was right next to my food, to my family and to the land - our lifeblood.  I think that this is what breeds resilience in people. This is an enormous part of what it truly means to be alive and human (thank you to Ken Low and Leadership Calgary for that concept).  And as Don reminded me, 'It's not the big things.  It's all the little things.' 

As we pulled away, I waved at Don in the tractor, his 3-year old grandson on his knee.  What a place for a kid to grow up.  This might just be what it takes for us to become free range humans again.  It's time, people.

Tonight I am grateful for:


For fresh wet calves,
Who stand a second after they're born.

For babies and boys
And Mom.
For the tractor
and Don
and Jan-Anne-Brayden-Mitch.

For the wisdom that comes from the fields,
for not letting skool get in the way of your education.
For resilience,
for sunsets.
For the generosity of strangers.
For family and farms and
Family farms.

For love and fresh food and pico de gallo. For twins and bottle-feeding and snowy white owls.
For a calf in wolf's clothing,
deep mud and 2-way radios.

For poetry and poets and
Even for iPhones.
For places without service.
And lives of service
And peace and
And Palestine.

I'm grateful for you.
And for me.
And for we.

And most of all, I'm grateful for this whole mad circle of life and for all the things that

Wednesday 16 April 2014

The Houston Solution

I've found it!

The very simple solution to Houston hair = Houston hood.

Now I can go about having a great time.


Tuesday 15 April 2014

Amendment to I Hate Houston

People are very kind here.

And truth is, my opinion on this place is not to be trusted.  I can hardly see past my huge hair in order to make any educated commentary.  (See previous 'Everything IS Bigger Here') post with regards to my Houston hair.  My curls have held a grudge against this city and as such we (my curls and I) are clearly biased.  As such, please disregard the previous post.

Much appreciated.

I hate Houston

The good thing about bad places is that it gives me time to work on my blog.

And, to be fair, I’m sure Houston is not ALL bad.  I just happen to be staying in the parking lot of a mall.  And it’s not even a good mall.  (Are there good malls?)

After EVERYTHING-IS-AUSTIN (post to be written imminently) and Ft-very-Worth-my-while, Houston is a major disappointment.  I’ve been informed that although I only have two armpits, Texas has three:  El Paso, Brownsville, and the largest, where yours truly finds herself right now.

In Ft Worth I met my new BFF.  Unfortunately, he never leaves his porch, so I’m unlikely ever to see him again.  In Austin, well, everything was awesome and now….well…I guess I had to come down somewhere, right?

Don’t misunderstand me.  I know that Houston is filled with fabulous people.  I just haven’t met them yet.  And wonderfully inspiring places.  I just haven’t been there.

I tried to go for a bike ride upon arrival.  The hotel passed me a rusted out clunker and the chain fell off within the first 100 metres.  Fortunately, I’m a former bike mechanic (though I never was a very good one), so I managed to limp the bike back to the hotel.  People looked at me very strangely as though to say, ‘Ahem, ma’am, people don’t do that here.’  Oh wait, nobody has yet called me ‘Ma’am’ in that drawling, adorable way.  That’s most likely the real reason that has kept me from having a good time in Houston.
I really should give the place a chance. 
Alright Houston, you've got twenty hours.

Friday 11 April 2014

Come Mess with Texas! or Everything IS Bigger Here

I love Texas.
I didn't think I would.
But the term 'friendly Texan' is true to the letter.
And everything really is bigger here: 

The Hospitality
My Hair,
& ahem...

My new Texas home at The Rosen House Inn, no biggie
Allow me to explain -
I have been blown away by the way I've been welcomed.
The Texans are rolling out the red carpet in a very big way.
And I'm joyfully dancing on it in my cowgirl boots.

I love it here!  'Mom' gives me a hug with breakfast every morning.
There was a friendly wave from each person I passed on their porch during my run this morning.
Then a delicious breakfast and warm hug from my 'Mama' hostess at the Rosen House B&B here in Fort Worth.  Not to mention that I already have a new local best friend.  His name is Elio, or Horatio, or Eliodoro, depending when you met him.  He writes a poetry blog called Fat Boy Speaks Fresh.  It's an ironic title given that he's almost as waifish as all the other artists I've ever met.  He wears all black, excepting his Star Wars t-shirt leftover from Grade 3.  And he has a hip haircut.  He's showing me all the coolest things in Fort Worth.  And there are many.  I want to wear a head camera when I'm with him to capture everything he says.  He's that funny.  I'm reminded of Aryeh, a man I met in an igloo in Colorado.  I wanted to record him as well.  In fact, I did.

Aryeh explains his near amptutation after an injury sustained on an extreme ski film in Alaska

Elio, on whether someone actually likes you, or they're just being 'Texas friendly'

The hospitality here extends to perfect strangers - my server when I arrived was named Honey - and she was one. I sat outdoors at Mijos on the very cool Magnolia Street.  She simply delivered to my table everything she thought I'd like to eat and drink.  Salmon fish tacos and Thai basil sake. Amazing.  This Canadian girl is loving it here! The bank clerk actually seemed devastated that she couldn't think of a nearby drug store to help with my hair problem.

Which brings me to my hair problem.  Texas is a bad hair state for me.  My red curls act as a barometer.  They increase in volume with humidity.  Here, they've gone wild - and like all things Texan, big.  My face is barely visible through the fuzz of frizz.  A euphemism would be to call it a halo.  I'm calling it a....nightmare?  It was awful when I first visited Houston at age 17.  I think it may actually have soured my experience.

I had to bring in the heavy hair artillery in anticipation of a return to Houston, bad hair city extraordinaire.
*a warning to curly-haired readers:  Houston is the worst hair city I've encountered to date.
Specialists in the emergency room of the extreme-curl-makeover salon I visited in crisis today concurred.  They gave me this product.  It went against every green grain in my body to buy the aerosol can filled with questionable chemicals, but hey, a girl's gotta look good on stage.  I'm not sure that it's helping.

I went to Houston visit my much older, much cooler, on-a-full-ride-tennis-scholarship-at-Rice-University-cousin while I was still in high school.  I really wanted to fit in and seem cool.  This is very hard to do when your hair's so big that you can barely make it through the door.  Somehow, in spite of this, I managed to enjoy the state enough to return for this year's Radical Reels tour of Texas.  The big hair is a problem, but I'm learning to live with it.  The generous engaged audiences and perhaps the most friendly people on earth are offsetting the aforementioned issue.  But truth be told, I've most likely stayed in Calgary for over a decade not because of my friends, family or the excellent bike paths, but because my hair generally looks fabulous there.  I'm that vain.

But back to Texas.
It's fabulous.  Despite my left-leaning, environmental bent, I've recently developed a thing for trucks.
There are many of them here. Trucks.  And Texans.  Neither of which are things that my progressive, tree-hugging and way-left-of-liberal self expected to love.  I do.  I love them. 
It just goes to show you.  Stay open.
And come to Texas.

Oh, and as for EVERYTHING being bigger in Texas, well...

my Southern breakfast was HUGE this morning.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

LOL or Is Anyone Actually Reading This?

I'm writing this today for my friend who is recovering in hospital.
I learned yesterday that he regularly reads my blog.
I'm still in shock.
Here's why:

A) Because the word 'regular' is not in my vocabulary (outside of the bathroom), nor is that word reflective of the inconsistency of my blog entries

and B) WHAT??!  Someone out there is actually READING this??  This changes EVERYTHING!  I mean, here I've been spilling out stream-of-consciousness silliness and although, yes, this is a public medium, it didn't really occur to me that anyone out there might read what I have to say.  How terrifying (and thrilling??).  Someone out there is paying attention.  We do that so rarely nowadays.  So much stuff is competing for our time.  In any case, now I actually have to write.  I owe it to my one faithful follower.
So Paul, this one's for you.

There are two titles to today's post.  Because I cover two topics.  And because, let's be honest, my favourite part of writing is coming up with catchy and creative titles.  No deep insights required, no time commitment or follow-through, simply a quick stroke of genius and a snappy headline.  Perfect.  My pace exactly.  If I ever write a book...scratch that.  WHEN I write my book this year (you read it here first!) it will go by multiple names.  I already have five of them.  Kind of like the way my friend Zhiish has seven names for each of her dogs.  And three for each of her beautiful daughters.  None of which, incidentally, are listed on their birth certificates.
Zhiish's pal Kenzie, DaKin, D.K., 'The Big White Horse', etc. featured here celebrating Hallowe'en in her fave bee costume

So - on to the other topic of today's post: LOL!
If there's one thing I love (add it to a list of a million other things) it's laughing out loud.
Ideally in public.
Inappropriately and out of control.
In the confined space of a plane next to a total stranger just about beats all.
I can't tell you how much I appreciate the authors of books who are able to elicit this from me.
The most recent is Susan Juby. I'm in the Denver airport.  I spent my flight from Calgary in bursts of jubilant laughter, interrupted only by bathroom breaks and my friendly Texan seatmate. 
It happened approximately once every two pages.
I mean, this woman is good.
Listen to this.  In describing an 11-year old girl who arrives at the farm, she writes,

'Her little face was all blank and unimpressed, like a Baptist minister running into the local whore at the bank.' 

Ah, to write like that.  I do plan to assimilate her brilliant use of similes.  And I'll admit, I opened this book with some hesitation - I mean, it takes a really special someone to make me laugh like this.  I can count on one hand the winners:

1. Flavia DeLuce - 11-year old chemist and comic.  Brilliant.

2. Terry Fallis - Who knew that Canadian political humour could crack me up??  It did.

and the very best: 3. The Rosie Project, wherein our hero engages in a wife-hunting mission, completely with a 169 point questionnaire...

My current favourite!

And now to close.
If you're reading this, let me know.
I want to know who you are and if what I write will affect my future job prospects.
I actually viewed this whole blogging thing as a form of journal writing until this week.
I just read the following line in the Woefield Poultry Collective.  The young punk who's just moved to the farm whines about the lack of internet access at the farm.  He hates having to update his multiple blogs in public places.  He says,

'I hated trying to update in public.  Blogging should be a private activity, not that different from taking a crap'.

I burst out in uncontrollable laughter.  I can totally relate.

So, dear reader, in order to differentiate this activity from taking a crap, I urge you to keep on reading.  And let me know that you're out there!

(And by the way, if you really are out there, please comment back to recommend some hilarious, laugh-out-loud books.  At the rate I'm racing through the Woefield Poultry Collective, I'm going to need something new by tomorrow.  Either that, or you're going to be pounded by a barrage of blog posts in my post-book boredom.  It's really up to you.)

Wednesday 26 February 2014

The Wonder of the Window Seat

I am about to say something terrible.

Years of air travel have made me...are you ready for it?.....BLASÉ.

How terrible! Did you know that blasé is defined as,

'apathetic to pleasure or excitement as a result of excessive indulgence or enjoyment : world-weary'? 

That's the last way I want to be!  I could be accused of excessive indulgence and enjoyment...but heaven forbid it would make me apathetic or world-weary!

It was my Mom who woke me up to who I had become. 

Having worked as a flight attendant and in active international travel for a decade, I had begun to think of a plane ride as simply a means to an end.  A way to get from one place to another.  So as not to inconvenience my neighbour in the event of a bathroom trip (of which I take many), I would choose an aisle seat.  I also liked to think I could get off the plane faster from an aisle seat - in the event of an actual emergency or the ridiculous rushed feeling to leave the plane that I feel the moment we land.  This borders on claustrophobia but somehow combines a need to race to the baggage carousel and jostle for position only to wait for ages for my luggage to emerge.

On my last trip home, Mom came to greet me at the airport (one of the sweetest acts in my book - and it brings me to tears every time).  She swept me into a hug and cheerfully asked, 'Did you get a window seat?'  I was taken aback for a moment.  I couldn't actually even remember.  And the worst part was, I didn't care.  I've had such incredible privilege to fly so much over the years and I had stopped even paying attention to the flight.  The magic of zooming from one existence to a new experience at over 30,000 feet and hurtling through the atmosphere at over 500 miles per hour had become lost on me.  I paid more attention to the pretzels than to the feat of engineering that had me airborne or to the views unfolding below.  I had become like the pathetic passengers in Louis C.K.'s hilarious piece, 'Everything is Amazing and Nobody is Happy' 

I love this - it may be one of the funniest videos I've ever seen.  And yet it's also so very sad.
It's time for us all to wake up to wonder again.
I am so grateful to my Mom for everything - but in this moment, it's for the wide-eyed, engaged and very alive way she has helped me to see the world (and air travel) - for the miracle it is.  For her living example that reminds me to never take a thing for granted.  To board each flight excitedly as though it's my first.  To sit wide-eyed like a child, in wonder and with my nose pressed to the window.  Thanks Mom.

You'll find me in the window seat.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

1st Stop, Hamilton

Heather HEARTS Hamilton!

I heart Hamilton.

Not to be confused with Hamilton, Ontario - the land of my relatives (which I also, incidentally, heart).  It is home to the Royal Botanical Gardens - I'm a huge fan.  That Hamilton is edgy, shockingly rich culturally and fringed by the beauty of the Niagara Escarpment.

This Hamilton may be one of the friendliest, most low-key, yet majestic places I've been.  The gas station attendant felt like my new best friend.  My hotel had a log bed and a balcony gazing out on snow-covered mountains.  As many people live in the entire State of Montana as in my current city of Calgary, Alberta.  People are doing great things - like B.E.A.R. - getting youth outdoors and inspiring them to greatness through wilderness and supportive mentors.  It was my first stop on this year's Radical Reels tour  and what a way to kick things off!  I would guess that half of the audience were too young too drive a tractor, and already busy getting rad in their spare time.  Those at the other end of the spectrum seem to have moved here by choice to keep living the life of their dreams.

Oh yeah, and then there was also that other Hamilton...the time years ago that I applied to the, 'Best Job in The World'.  It was to live on a beach, blog and become the honorary caretaker of Hamilton Island, Australia.  I wasn't chosen.  Their loss.  I still seem to have landed a few of the best jobs in the of which recently landed me in this Hamilton.

So here's to Hamilton - all of them!


Need I say more?

Sunday 2 February 2014

Song 15

Well folks, it's been a while since I've written anything.
And this incident embarrassed me a little.  Well, ok, a lot.  So I needed a cooling-off period.
But here's the story.

I borrowed a friend's car over Christmas.  He's a great friend and we've known each other for 15 years.  He's a good-looking, kind guy.  I left his car in valet parking, with a full tank, a sweet Christmas card, and with the stereo cranked up high, cued to one of his favourite songs - Emmylou by First Aid Kit.  Adorable.  He likes to play it on his guitar.

What I failed to take into account was that valet drivers actually have to drive the cars.  Go figure.  The disaster occurred in those few moments.  By driving the car, the valet inadvertently advanced to a new song and triggered an unfortunate sequence of events....

I got a very long text from my friend a week later.  It was so long that it didn't come through properly.  So I couldn't read it.  No biggie.  I let it slide.  When it's important, someone follows up, right?  Another week passed.  Then I got a call from my friend.  He simply said, 'Would you like to go for a walk?  We need to talk.'  I happily and somewhat cluelessly (typical) chirped out, 'Sure!'

We went for a really nice walk.  We got to a high spot with a gorgeous view of the city.  It was here that my friend said,
'Yes?' I prompted.
'Did you read my text?' he asked.
'No, it didn't come through!' I said in my usual, annoyingly chipper way.
'Song 15?' he asked cryptically.
'Song 15?' he repeated.  This time with his eyebrows raised.
'What?' I repeated more loudly, as though by increasing the volume he might understand that I didn't know what he was referring to.
'You really don't know what I'm talking about?'
I shook my head. 
'Well....maybe you should read this then...' he said, looking pained.
He handed me his cell phone and pulled up a 4 paragraph-long text message.
I read the first line and instantly knew we were in trouble.
'Uh oh,' I exclaimed.
'Ummm.....that's really not what I meant....'
'Don't worry, I think you're great, but I don't feel that way about you either...'
5 awkward moments followed.
Silence.  An embarrassed giggle.
We finished our walk.
More silence.
I left him with an awkward,
'Ahem.  See you soon. Please apologize to that girl you're dating for me.'

I got to my car and immediately advanced to Song 15-
through which I'd inadvertently declared my undying love. 

The source of confusion became instantly clear.

A pounding beat came over the speakers, and then the words,

'Babe, it's half past lonely and you're gone away
But I know that you're feeling the same as me...'

(big beat kicks in here), followed by:

'I don't wanna be your friend no more,

I only wanna be your love!'

Song 15  - just listen.  Trust me.

Sigh, yet another embarrassing moment.  Chalk it up to yet another awkward miscommunication for Little Misadventure.  Or perhaps I should go by Little Miscommunication?

Don't cry for me though - my friend and I are still friends.  And we've decided that the best way to communicate is with words.  Face to face.  Imagine that.