Sunday, September 30, 2007

film two

With a little down time between films and a trip across town from one cinema to the other, db and I took in a farmers market. I've been seeking out farmer's markets a lot lately, wanting to buy food as directly as possible thus avoiding the grocery basket or the Whole Foods type experience that will package you a feel-good-about-yourself-for-shopping-here kind of experience. Why is it that Whole Foods always seems to open up in the wealthier neighbourhoods of a town? I think I know why and I know I want no part of it. (I'm really itching to talk about The Omnivore's Dilemma but again I'm waiting until I give my review for the autumnal readers blog.)

So the market was a pleasant interlude.
We picked up these lovely tomatoes. db put some on our pizza last night, but more on that later. There were lots of heirloom tomato varieties at this market and all kinds of food from b.c. I found a vegan bakeshop stall and bought a toffee nut square that was divine.

Back on the bus we crossed town to the next theatre and got a bite to eat. I wanted to be well fed for the next film since it would be featuring food.

How To Cook Your Life (2007, dir. Doris Doerrie) is also a documentary that features the Zen priest and cook Edward Espe Brown. His soft but direct humor and passion for food make this a fun film to watch. Not only do we get his cooking lessons, but we are also privy to his teachings through stories about his own journey with food and his time as a student of zen buddhism.

The approach to food in the film is based on Master Dogen who "wrote about the necessity of treating food as if it was as valuable as your eyesight." (from the VIFF guide) Starting with teaching students how to prepare yeast for breadmaking, the film sets a tone of light humor that is sustained throughout without turning this into the realm of the absurd.

While the film is set around Edward Espe Brown and his story, the camera does venture out into San Francisco and the everyday practice of people who try to share that appreciation of food with those who are the have-nots of society. We meet a woman who hasn't been to a grocery store in years, collecting her food from the backs of supermarkets and foraging berries from bushes, figs from trees etc. We also meet a collective who prepare vegetarian meals and take them to the most "undesirable" part of town and distribute the food to those who don't make it to the soup kitchens, the physically disabled and as one man puts it "the guy with the needle in his arm."

Doerrie doesn't keep us for long is this direction and fades in to another moment with Brown and his students. Brown focuses on the ingredients and the importance of cooking and being participatory in the preparation of food. You're not just cooking "you're working on yourself, you're working on other people."

Clearly what comes through is a celebration of food, of the type of food that does not come in a pre-packaged box or bag, but is raw ingredients that come together to create something new to be shared and enjoyed.

I left the film and couldn't wait to get home and make pizza with db. We made a fantastic pizza together and when I was chopping the peppers, I chopped the peppers.

I understand it will be released in the fall so once again the larger cities will probably get the screenings. Try and find this one if you can.

You can watch the trailer here.


Two more films were taken in yesterday as I managed to squeeze in a little film festival time. Work hasn't been co-operating since we still don't have an October schedule. I know I'll be working M, T, W since we go away next weekend for the Okanagan marathon but man I'd like to know times. Maybe I can fit one more film in. Just one more.


By accident again I chose two films that related. I purchased the tickets at different times so it wasn't intentional it just happened that way. It must be where my mind is drifting these days.

Both films were about Buddhism in one way or another. The similarities may almost end there except for ideas around food and survival came up in both films. Now I find myself in the middle of these films thinking of the book the Omnivore's Dilemma that I'm reading for the Fall Reading Challenge. Now is not the time for the book though. Let's focus on the films.

Daughters of Wisdom (2007, dir. Bari Pearlman) depicts the nuns of a Tibetan monastery, Kala Rongo. Re-built on land that was once destroyed by the Chinese government when it was wiping out monesteries across Tibet, Kala Rongo is a unique place because it has essentially been built by the women who reside there.
The film reveals the changing role of nuns in an otherwise male dominated realm. What Pearlman leaves with us is the idea that this is a revolutionary site because it encourages the education and the spiritual practice for nuns that normally and traditionally have been preserved for monks only.

The stories emerge from the nuns. Each nun that tells her story expresses her joy at being able to practice buddhism all day. Each one has a unique story and reason for where she is in her life. As a community, work is divided and the camera reveals a hard and poor life, but none complain or suggest that they would rather be anywhere else.

In contrast we meet three women of a herder family that live not far from the monestery. The middle sister of three girls became a nun and it would seem that her position in the family permitted her to do so. The eldest daughter was married off for economic reasons to the family and the youngest sister, while she wanted to become a nun has been chosen to be the daughter that cares for her parents. In other words, she really has no choice. These women do all the work. They tend to the yaks and maintain the house. They gather the water, grow and cook the food. They shear the yaks, churn the butter and care for the men what do they do? The women say that a woman's life is suffering. The men of the herder family sell the meat and dairy in the nearby town. The women say they get to go where ever they want whenever they want and after hearing their few words I come to understand that these women never go beyond where their daily chores take them. They are housebound and accept their life because they are women.

Visually we are given a handheld view of this region. The mountains surround and the rocky landscape further suggests the hard life for these people. I can only imagine this place in winter and how that would further complicate their lives. db said he wished he had seen it in winter, but with only 8 weeks to shoot what she could, Pearlman tries to give us a whole view as best she can. I believe she succeeds as well.

The monestery offers a kind of freedom. While the nuns do still view the monks as above them, the film does suggest that this too, given time, will change. The end of the film shows an election of sorts where 8 nuns are elected to run the monestery's affairs. This is a first and with the film ending on that storyline, we can only feel hope for the future of this place.

This is another film I highly recommend. It is getting a North American release so if you're in a bigger center, chances are it could come your way.

Friday, September 28, 2007

September and Octobre

Oddly enough I've just seen two films recently that are titled after two fall months of the year. I've only just realized this as I'm about to write about them. Is there a film called November? Perhaps I should see that next.

Other than sharing months of the year, these two films are also "period" pieces and both deal with one group of peoples feeling oppressed by another group. Both deal with colonialism and ideas about nation, but that is probably where the similarities end.

September (dir. Peter Carstairs) is an Australian film that just screened at the Van. film fest. Set in 1968 Western Australia the story is about a friendship between two boys, one white (Ed) and one aboriginal (Paddy). As aboriginal rights begin to change, this friendship is shaped and changed as well, having to be renegotiated.

The story is quite simple in its telling and it is beautifully set on the dusty farmland owned by Ed's family. Paddy's family lives on the land and works as slave labour. There is a parallel of the boys' friendship with their fathers since we learn that they grew up together and had been friends as well. However, with one owning the land and one becoming the servant to him, their friendship is just a memory that flickers awake at moments in the film. As we watch the film we have to wonder if Ed and Paddy will live out the tradition of their fathers and one supposes their fathers before them.

The film is predominantly set on the dusty golden landscape beneath a pale blue sky. Inspired by boxing, the two boys construct their own ring where they mimic their boxing heroes. Ed brings his boxing gloves and each boy takes one, reminding us again of who owns and who borrows in this world. Innocently, the two spar until the sun sets and of course later in the film it is where Paddy will eventually take out his anger towards Ed and all that Ed represents. It is the point of no return for Paddy as he determines that he will not follow in his father's footsteps, but rather find a way out.

What really struck me about this film -- well, there were several things really, but I'll start with one -- was the minimalist dialogue. To me the dialogue was perfection. This film was all subtext, it was all in the visual, which to me is pure cinema (if I may say that there is a such a thing for me). The pauses between spoken words, the way the actor could hold a moment and the camera holding with them created a tension, emotion, and a dramatic impact that implied the weight of the situation.

This film never ventured into the cliche or the saccharin and it continued to surprise me throughout. If you find this one on dvd I recommend you see it. While it was a visual feast to view it on the big screen, the simplicity of the scenes themselves convey what a strong and beautiful film this really is.

If September conveyed it's story through the visual the characters' subtexts, Octobre does the opposite.

Octobre (dir. Pierre Falardeau) is a dramatic retelling of the real events of the FLQ kidnapping and murder of a government official. The story is told from the kidnappers point of view as they act out the kidnapping and then proceed to live with their victim while on the outside world the government eventually responds with a banning of the FLQ under the War Measures Act.

Being privy to the lives and turmoil of one of the FLQ cells in an confined space of a run down bungalow is a tense and claustrophobic experience. While we are invited to understand and perhaps sympathize with the working class and oppressed individuals who took extreme actions to change life for the french people of Quebec, the film is almost testing us to see if we can find some sympathy for these men. However, with only one confined side of the story we are only frustrated by the scene and rather feel alienated from the men and their own inner conflicts.

The heavily worded script, chock-full of dialogue, sounds scripted and I could feel the writer at work. It comes off as theatrical, complete with fade to blacks as if the lights are going down on the scene before lighting another area of the stage. I quickly became tired of the intense anger and overly-dramatic moments that only broke once when we had to watch the characters eat some disgusting looking food. Perhaps repulsion best explains how I felt about this film.

Am I recommending it? No.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Water by Deepa Mehta is a beautiful film. Set in India in 1938 we follow Chuyia, a child bride who becomes a widow as her parents inform her. Chuyia, who barely remembers being married, is taken to an ashram (a place where widows live out the rest of their lives) by her parents. As tradition dictates, Chuyia's head is shaved and her colourful saris are exchanged for a plain white one thus visually identifying her as a widow, an outcast, someone who is already half dead. While Chuyia reluctantly learns about her new lot in life, she meets Kalyani. Kalyani stands out amongst the widows with her own room, her hair in tact and there seems to be some hope expressed in her eyes. We learn that Kalyani is being prostituted out, taken across the water at night where she is the mistress to an upper class man. When Kalyani meets a young idealist, a follower of Gandhi, the story reveals itself to really be about two "star-crossed lovers." This film is a Romeo and Juliet set within the changing political environment of 1938 India. In Water the two feuding families of the classic R & J story are the two classes represented in the film. While the film does focus on the love story, it is predominantly through Chuyia's eyes that we experience the world.

The life inside the ashram is fairly grim since these are condemned women. Outside of the ashram people fear if a widow's shadow grazes them they too will be cursed. They are ignored, forgotten and unloved women. Kalyani's forbidden love causes a storm that sets the tragedy in motion. For Chuyia her youthful spirit brings an energy to the interior of the ashram that we sense has not been there for quite some time. While it is Kalyani's desire that disrupts the norm, it is Chuyia's presence in the ashram tradition that initially stirs up the staid life of this society. She questions and fights. She even bites and in her youthful innocence defying the traditions refusing to adapt to what she sees as an illogical life. What the film is suggesting is that tradition acts as a mask for an oppression of women, saying that it is not tradition that causes women being viewed as unimportant and second class to men, but rather a society dominated by a patriarchal upper class, one that determines the rules that includes the view of women as second class. When Chuyia asks, "Where do the male widows live?" there is a collective gasp from all the widowed women as they mutter things like "What a horrible thing to wish upon our men."

Water is obviously a central motif. The camera water as life and it is presented at moments to remind us of renewal. Sins can be washed away and our thirst can be satisfied. Water can transport us and it can also take life from us. It is central to the life of the community and it is one thing that everyone shares and has in common. Each person comes to the banks of the river to be cleansed even if it is for different reasons the desire is ultimately the same.

I kept missing opportunities to see this film (as I often do) on the big screen and it really is unfortunate that I did not see it in the theatre because Mehta works with a fantastic cinematographer (Giles Nuttgens) that brings light into such a dark place as the ashram is. Visually this film is remarkable. The stillness of the shots allows the scene to dictate how we see the story unfold. In fact, the emotion and content of the scene seems to dictate how the camera views the (in)action. I draw attention to this because often in film our eye is led by the camera choice. Water is an example of a film that does not let the camera shape the story. Instead it works with light and dark to highlight areas of a scene while the drama unfolds for us.

If you haven't already seen this film, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

the curse has been lifted and other notes

6:00 am the phone rings. db is up but not answering so I get out of bed because the thought occurs to me that it could be important. No one phones at 6 am unless it's important. I grab the phone too late. Hello? Dial tone. So I star 69 to see the number (no, we don't have call display) and I can hear my brother leaving a message. All I hear is the end of the number of where he is and this: "call me it's very important."

I fumble around with the buttons on the phone trying to hear his message again and I scribble down the number in the dark. I call him. He answers at his work number.

me: What's going on?
bro: the curse has been lifted!
me: What?
bro: the old man is dead!
me: Who's dead
bro: Bill Wirtz
me: Oh my god. When did this happen? (I have no idea who this is, but I express concern)
bro: Yesterday. The curse is lifted man. Aren't you monkeys up? Isn't db making coffee?
me: He's up. I'm in bed! It's six in the morning.
bro: The blackhawks are going to have a great season.


The lightbulb goes on (only in my head. I leave the bedside light off to stay in the dark). This is hockey talk. He needs to be talking to db.

me: okay I'm putting db on because you should be talking to him. (subtext: I don't give a rat's ass at 6 am).
bro: put him on.
me: You know I'm going to kill you for this.
bro: Yeah, yeah.
me: (As I'm passing the phone to db) I'm going to kill you.

At that point db takes over the phone. He later explains to me that my brother believes the team was cursed because Wirtz ran it poorly by doing things like not televising home games. Huh?

We're also joining bro's hockey pool so I've got to make some picks now. I guess the season has officially begun.


Roaming Writer
is moving to a little place just outside of Nelson. While I'm sad to see her go I'm glad she'll be going to a place she really wants to be. She's bought a place there and it even has a little studio separate from the house that will become her writing space/office. What a dream!

I went to graduate school with her and when she moved back to BC I somewhat lost touch with her. Recently she emailed me out of the blue for some help with dialogue on a script. We never did get to that project, but we reconnected which was cool and she showed me parts of the city that I probably wouldn't have visited on my own.

Have a great trip Roaming Writer. I'll be visiting as soon as I can.

db's bread book that I got him for his birthday noted regarding sourdough:
"The yeast and bacteria from the soured leaven will provide B vitamins and biotin (important if you follow a vegan diet).
So here's to the sourdough. db made a beautiful loaf this weekend.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

things you find in your garden

After seeing this post over at Wandering Coyote's I thought I should post our tomato photo that I took after db found this one in our garden.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

trail river run success

This proves I finished. The camera was in my backpack with all my gear. I wanted photos of the start/finish line, but alas the batteries crapped out on me and there are no photos of the day's event itself.

how the race went

I biked to the Poco start line, about a 15 minute bike ride. I changed in the community center's changeroom and did my usual nervous tying and untying of the shoes, pulling my hair back (ponytail or pigtails?), sipping my water, re-adjusting my bib number and so it goes. It seems absurd that I should be nervous at all, but that's just the way it is I guess.

The morning was clear and cool so I took some time to warm up on the "track" across the street. The track is a fine pebbled surface, nothing fancy. There were other runners of all shapes and sizes, paces and fitness levels warming up too. Then one by one we gathered around the start line. I stood in my usual mid-pack spot. Since the 10 k runners were starting at the same time I thought I should let those Speedy Gonzales' take the front of the line. I didn't recognize anybody except for the woman who has the dog Taz that I encountered a couple of weeks ago. Later in the race I would see a woman from the Running Room that is very nice and knowledgeable.

An informal countdown was done and we were off. I was off faster than I wanted to be, but I didn't stress because I knew I'd ease up on the more open part of the trail since it's flat and pebbly. Of course I needed the porto-potty after 2k and stopped at the first one. It was occupied. I realized after over a minute of waiting that they may not come out right away. I tried not to panic because I thought well I won't take any walk breaks and I started out too fast anyway. Then when I saw the pack thinning I got going and with the hope that I could make a quick stop later.

I picked up my pace and checked my time at 4 k and I was already 3 minutes off my pace of where I wanted to be! On top of this I was a little unsure of how to pace myself for a half. I've been training with the full distance on the brain that I couldn't figure out if I was going too fast, but I didn't want to slow down too much since I felt I was already too far behind. I managed a quick porto-potty stop at the next one and then kept going full steam ahead.

The first turnaround was a 7 k mark. There we were to run back to the main road and then turn onto another section of the trail on the whoville side of the slough that leads to the Pitt River. A turn around is cool because you get to see other runners in the race coming along the trail towards you. Just about everyone said encouraging words. At 7 k I was close to where I wanted to be, near 40 minutes. I wanted to hit my 8 k mark at 45 which was the goal.

I hydrated and took a gel and it all moved along like most races. I pushed myself because I knew I still had to make up time. At this point most of the runners were well spaced apart. There wasn't a lot of us so it was nice to have some room to focus. I decided that I would just have to "pick off" runners. I looked down the trail and sussed out the distance of the woman ahead of me and how she was moving and went for it. I passed her sooner than anticipated. From that point on I just did the same and kept passing runners. No one was passing me after the 10 k mark.

About 300 m ahead of me was a pair of women who were dressed the same and looking pretty fit and I thought if I could keep them in sight I'd cross the finish around the 2 hour mark. I never thought I'd catch them, but just to keep them in sight felt like an achievable goal.

I'd never run on that side of the slough. The mountains were so close and there's some lovely farmland between the trail and the mountains. I could see some workers out amongst the shrubs (grapes? fruit of some kind?). The second turn around seemed like the end of the road although I'm sure it is, but I felt a bit alone out there. A fifty-something guy with his SUV parked on the side was playing some tunes and standing holding the paper cup of water out for me to grab. He was our water station. It looked so...unofficial. What are we crazy runners doing out here? I thanked him, opened another gel and took a few seconds to walk while I finished my water. The two women had just finished the turn around. I had to keep pace behind them so I got going.

I passed others heading towards the turn around and just waved this time. I had to focus. There was a cyclist (afterall this isn't a closed route and many people use the trail on the weekend) dismounted and looking towards a stand of trees. As I ran by I asked her, "what do you see?" She said, "I just saw a bear in that tree." I missed it! My bear sighting chance was just that close. I had dodged enough bear scat on the trail to make me believe she had just seen one. You gotta watch that on the trail and I did notice one or two runners pointing to it as a caution for the runner behind them.

Anywho...(or is it anypoo now?)
I crossed the road towards the home stretch. There's a little foot bridge to cross before heading into the more heavily wooded area and those two women were just meters ahead of me now. I now believed it possible to catch them. Despite the exhaustion I was feeling, I tapped into my inner strength and asked it to help me. A little technique I've been using lately is tapping into the spirit of Ndereba (she's the Kenyan marathon runner who is unbelievable). Recently I watched her complete the marathon at the worlds and win it with so much strength and determination that whenever I need help I think of her running that race. The next thing I know I was passing those two women and I felt like I was floating, like I wasn't even touching the ground. I've never experienced that before. Is this what they mean by a "runner's high?" In the moment I wondered if this would be the the way I'd feel before I collapsed, but I felt good. I floated for about 1.5 k until I saw the next person ahead and I could see the opening in the trees with the sunlight coming through, which is where the finish line was. I tried to find another gear and did which made the floaty feeling go away. Back was the tired feeling, but I was too close now. I passed the next runner and then there was no one ahead of me. I saw the finish and crossed in 1:59:20. that's a personal best!

I was on my own with no one to celebrate with, but I felt great. I couldn't wait to see db and see how he'd done.

I biked home (well...not all the way home. The steep hill up to the house is a struggle on a good day never mind after running for 2 hours). db was home. He did the 18 k! He took his time and finished 18 no problem. When I left him earlier in the morning his attitude was to just go out and see how it felt, see if he could run any distance. Lo and behold he finished his whole run. It's unbelievable how far he's come so quickly. Without a doubt he's ready for Kelowna.


In other news...
On Tuesday I took this picture (or was it Wednesday?) of the toad lily coming along nicely.
Overall, the entire garden is looking great with only patches starting to fade or look ready for a winter rest. I do have a bit of clean-up to do this week.
My work-pal who has been bringing me cranesbills and lilies and other little snippets from her treasured garden tells me she has more for me! I still have four pots yet to transplant that she gave me two weeks ago. These include a golden heuchera, a mystery clematis, another lily and...I can't remember the other one just now.

Then Friday I discovered this:

What a treat! The toad lily that I brought home in May with so much hope and watched it as it grew and stretched up and outward has finally bloomed right on schedule. Sigh.

I may be crazy. I may be lily crazy. Again a nod to my sis for introducing this spectacular tiny flower to me. It also has a delicate fragrance if you get close enough to sniff that is as subtle as the flower itself.

It's tempting to cut it and bring it inside to enjoy it all the time, but it should be in the garden. And doesn't it look lovely in the late afternoon sun?

After our Sunday running related achievements we thought we'd enjoy the late afternoon sunshine with a little beer under the canopy in the backyard. I sat so I could just view the lily from my chair. It's a bit far away since the flower is one of the features as you walk up the stone steps to the garden's upper level where we sit.

Now I look at all we achieved in the garden as well and see where there's room to move things around and give the perennials more or less light and a better placement to offer the best view in different stages of blooming.

Ideally I would like to move the lilac from the front to the back. You can't even see it in the front and there is so much room in the back. The soil is a bit of an issue where the grass is because it is very packed and more like clay than anywhere else in the garden. The japanese maple seems to like the back corner I wonder if there's a spot for a lilac over there?

fuelled up and ready to go

I've never biked to an event before. This should be a good warm up. I've had my toast, my oatmeal and my coffee. That should get me through the first hour okay.
db has a tough run this morning that he will be running elsewhere around the same time so I hope that goes well. I'll try and encourage him from where I am since I know he'll be doing the same.
The weather is good and I think the sun should be out by the 9 am start time. The sky has already broken up quite a bit.
I'm off.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Run Vegan Run

It feels like the running season could keep going with the gorgeous weather we're having, but I know it's winding down and I'll be taking my break after Kelowna.

This Sunday I'm running the Trail River Run. It's a 10k and half marathon distance so I signed up for the half since it works well with my training schedule. I have run most of the trail although not all at once, but I think I know it pretty well. It's pretty flat and well maintained, nothing that would truly require trail shoes. I'll be fine in my running shoes. It's a fairly small event so there won't be a lot of us but there will be runners and there's nothing more fun than running an event with a bunch of other runners (really, it's true).

I'm still working out fueling myself beyond basic water. I can't figure out what really works for me. I'm so hesitant to take any gels again and yet I took one gel this past weekend and felt fine. Tomorrow? Who knows? All I do know is that I need to figure something out fast before I run Kelowna because it's a long, long distance. I'll probably risk the gels, going with the ones that have had the most mild effect on me in the past, and perhaps carry some pretzels for the midway point.

Today I had a good run up the hill and then down to the park where I did some laps around the park and played around doing fartleks (fun to do and to say). Just in case you don't remember me talking about "fartleks" (I think it's a Swedish term) I'll define. It's a way to train where you run as fast as you can for a certain distance and then jog for a bit before going full out again. It's fun because I just look down the road or trail and pick my mark and run as fast as I can to get there. I almost certainly did that when I was a kid just for fun so it's no surprise that I enjoy it now. Today I noticed the importance of my core strength to maintain my speed. Maybe this could be a fun way to strengthen my core without doing tedious ab exercises?

After my laps around the park I picked up my pace for the last few k just to push myself out of my comfort zone. I haven't said it before but I'd really like to finish Kelowna in 4 hours and 20 minutes. That would be 10 minutes off my Tofino time which seems completely illogical and improbable. I'm hoping that those tough hills of Ucluelet really made the difference in slowing me down for the last 8 k and that Kelowna will be flatter and more forgiving and I'll find a way to get to the finish in 4:20. Two weeks ago I thought I'd give up and just told myself that I only wanted to finish, but I always want more. If I didn't I wouldn't be able to go out and train on those days I really don't want to.

So let's all think 4:20 together and get me to that finish line.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

first review for the Fall Reading Challenge

I've posted my review of My Sister, My Self.

What book title?

I guess I don't know myself as well as I thought. Like Wandering Coyote perhaps I should give this a read as well...

You're Love in the Time of Cholera!

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Like Odysseus in a work of Homer, you demonstrate undying loyalty by
sleeping with as many people as you possibly can. But in your heart you never give
consent! This creates a strange quandary of what love really means to you. On the
one hand, you've loved the same person your whole life, but on the other, your actions
barely speak to this fact. Whatever you do, stick to bottled water. The other stuff
could get you killed.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Is bottled water any safer than tap water?

Do you drink bottled or tap, or both? Do you have a Brita or another filtered system?

We use to have PUR filter on our water tap and did so for many years, but since moving west we never bothered installing it again. We found the filters not only expensive, but it made me crazy to have these huge pieces of plastic that we're expected to turf once they're used up.

Bottled water is tap water so why not drink straight from the tap and that's what we've been doing ever since we decided not to put another filter on our tap. I admit that I do occasionally buy bottled water when I've forgotten or have been too lazy to carry my own, but I'm now making more of an effort to stop buying water bottles that contribute to landfill and carry my own water on a regular basis. After all I never go out the door for a run without carrying my water so why shouldn't I do this every time I go out the door?

Some things to think about:
- most water bottles end up in landfill
- bottled water is tap water.
- bottling water for sale (for profit) creates us to think of water as a privilege and not a basic human need for survival.
- the environmental impact of producing the plastics to contain the water and then ship the water to be sold. Think about who does this really benefit?

You can read more here and you can check out Co-op America's site via my sidebar and search the water debate there.

food glorious food

Saturday it was db's birthday. db was undecided when I asked him what he wanted for dinner. Then it came to me: Ravioli and db's eyes lit. He suggsted we stuff them with squash and chanterelle mushrooms (no, we didn't actually pick them even though they are in season right now). We planned it out for Sunday night since we both had to work on db's actual birthday.

Sunday we managed to time everything beautifully. Both of us had our long run in the afternoon (the morning was too wet). While I ran my 32 k, db completed his 12 k and then went to pick up an organic squash for the filling. He baked the spaghetti squash and was just taking it out of the oven as I finished my post run stretching. He started the tomato sauce (yes, I know it's his birthday and I should probably do all the cooking, but let's be realistic here, db is the superior cook between us and his tomato sauce is perfection). db pulled out a rather dusty bottle of red wine from his collection, a Southern Italian wine and I started the pasta and uh-oh, no semolina flour. Yes, we could have just made pasta with regular flour, but I really prefer to work with a semolina blended dough that is a bit stronger and the flavour is preferable as well.

Okay plan B. Russet potatoes on hand. I put them into bake and decided to make potato gnocchi. Whew. The birthday dinner was saved. We stored the squash and pre-cooked chanterelles with plans to make ravioli on Monday.

Dinner was delicious. Fluffy pillows of gnocchi in a simple tomato sauce. Mmm. And with a weighty 1998 red wine (D'Angelo Canneto made with Aglianico grapes -- you were right on that one db). We had tomatoes from the garden in our salad and I made a creamy cashew dressing that went well with the greens.

Earlier in the day while waiting for the rain to let up so I could go running, I made a vegan cheesecake as per requested by db. Naturally I made a blackberry topping for the cake since we still have blackberries left over from when we made jam. The whole meal was a nice way to toast db's birthday and a good reward for both of us after two tough runs that afternoon.

The cheesecake recipe is from my sis and is flavoured with lemon zest and limoncello. It's so delicious. The first time sis made this cake I couldn't believe it's similarity in taste to the real-deal. Even the texture bakes up similar. Those who've eaten it and are cheese-eaters are always astounded that there is no cheese in it. It's so delicious and so easy to make I'm surprised I don't do it more often (that' s probably a good thing though).

I was a bit concerned since I have pretty much tried to eliminate soy from my diet and this cake is all about soy with tofutti cream cheese (the non-hydrogenated one) and silken tofu. I seemed to be fine the next day. So I'm not sure what's upsetting my stomach. I'm not diving back into the soy again that's for sure, but I have been eating a little here and there and for the most part I seem to be okay. I'm still watching what I eat to try and find a connection.

Monday we made the ravioli as planned. The two of us pretty much have the pasta making production perfected. db makes the filling, I make the dough and db rolls the dough through the machine while I stuff the pasta with the ravioli filling. It really doesn't take long at all and I really enjoy it. It's nice to work in the kitchen together. Both of us still had tired legs from Sunday's run, so it also helped that we made dinner together.
The ravioli was a success as well. Two nights in a row. I hope we celebrate his birthday this well every year. db extracted another (not as dusty) bottle from the collection and we toasted to his birthday again. Why not eh?

I guess we'll be fasting for a couple of days now.

* * *

I mentioned the package that we received in the mail from my sis. I took some photos of the jewelry she sent. The note has a little "Handmade By" stamp and she signed it. I love it. The piece is actually made of glass. My photography doesn't do it justice though. The piece is quite exquisite.

Sis also included a new bell for my bike with my favorite heroine on it. Actually, I'm going to call her a hero because she is in the traditional sense. WW was never a heroine in the classic sense since heroines in film are the ones who usually need to be saved. WW only saved everyone else. She was a much needed role model on tv for me growing up. I might actually put the bell on the front door somehow.

Sis's beau thinks that these old style bells remind people too much of ice cream trucks and therefore don't take them seriously when you use them. He uses a whistle. I actually find I rarely have to use my bell here. I'm not in the city so encounters with the parked car and its door opening are less frequent than when I lived in whoville city.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Nice Matters

Well I'm quite flattered. Karen, captain of the HMS Swiftsure, passed on the award. Much thanks and right back at you Karen.

Apparently, I am to award 7 bloggers that make blogging nice, to people who are "encouraging, inspiring and kind." We may all be awarding each other at this point, so I don't know if I can award anyone again. So instead of risking being redundant I give awards to all of you who have commented on my blog or emailed me personally with your words of support and kindness. So thanks to all of your blogs (you know who you are) for your own intelligent, entertaining and thoughtful blogs.

encounters this past week

Time flies when you're doing what you love. I had two days away from LV which was great and I spent my first day off working which was also great because I was doing what I love, and doing what I've wanted to be doing since I left school. It's nice to actually work for yourself. I hope I can keep it up and that this job leads to more.

Because I had met up with a friend from university who I hadn't seen in a couple of years I was able to meet up with this director she's worked with and she put the two of us in touch. The next thing you know he's got some story editing work for me. Like I said, I loved doing it.

I didn't have much time for the garden or really much else, but that's okay. I checked on the toad lily to make sure it wasn't starting to bloom without me noticing. The garden changes daily and I hate to miss it, but one of the nice things about getting to work at home was that I could take my work outside for a bit of a break from the computer and sit in the backyard and continue working there. It was idyllic really.

* * *

On Sunday I ran 30 k. I had intended to run 32 but there just wasn't enough in the tank. I was ill prepared, feeling kind of crappy when I went out, and it got pretty hot as the day started to get going. On one of the trails I did keep meeting up with another woman runner with her dog (Taz) who was having to stop every now and then because Taz had to stop and sniff or run into the water or check out another dog. Anyway we did pace each other for a bit which was encouraging. I even got to run just behind Taz for a little bit which was fun. I could tell the woman was a distance runner by her form, her stash of water bottles she had with her and just the shape she was in.
The night before I had told db that I was a bit nervous having never done a 32 k run on my own since he use to cycle with me or I'm usually in a race when I go that distance so I'm never really on my own, there's motivators around and I'm use to that. So this encounter with this woman and her dog (Taz) was a welcome distraction from the road and trail ahead. While I didn't have a great run this past Sunday, I've got a second chance at the 32 k distance for this coming Sunday and I'm already feeling more positive. I'm taking an extra water bottle and more fuel to get me the distance. Maybe I'll even see Taz again.

* * *

db's birthday is tomorrow, but he's been showered with gifts already. I got him a bread book that he had on his wish list. It arrived just in time. The book was shipped to his work address so he got it at work this morning with the card and was completely surprised. I love surprises. Then when I got home a package from my sister was waiting at the door. She filled a box with gifts for the two of us. db got some very nice running socks. Sis made some beautiful jewelry for me. I'll have to get photos of the jewelry and post.
Also in the package was a cd with photos my mom took when we all went to Tofino together so I had to add in these pictures of sis and I on our big run. I love the one of us on the road. She had finished her race and I was still working on mine so she ran a bit with me. It was such an amazing moment.
This is us on the dock in Ucluelet doing some post race stretching. We all took a bit of a break down on the dock and watched some of the seals and eagles in the area. That was truly an amazing day to have the whole family together and to be in such a gorgeous part of the country together, each of us having new experiences individually and together. Very memorable.

I've been reading My Sister My Self for the Fall Reading Challenge so when I saw the photos of the two of us I couldn't help but think about what a special relationship we have and how lucky I feel to have a sister and to be a sister. It really is a unique bond.

This last photo was taken on the ferry home from Tofino and the beautiful sunset we encountered. The sky was stunning that evening. Mom took this picture of db and I walking on the deck.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

on the gray whale and more

Well, my interest in the posted story below continues. The only updated news I've heard so far is that the Makah tribal leaders intend to prosecute the men who brutally slaughtered the gray whale. I read an update here.

I also came across an article about the gray whale population and that perhaps it is not as healthy as initially thought.

All of this is coming on the heels of reading the book "The End of the Line: How Overfishing is Changing the World and What We Eat." While the book was focused on human consumption it could not help but discuss how overfishing affects other species that also rely on that same diet. Whales come to mind don't they?

One chapter in the book looked at tuna catches and the subsequent by-catches that are part of any fishing. Here is an excerpt from that chapter:
"...the most comprehensive and eye-opening answer to the question of what gets killed alongside the skipjack tuna that ends up in you pantry (...) was an unpublished paper by two scientists from 1998-99 when the thre European organizations of frozen tuna producers delcared moratoria on fishing in certain areas close to the African coast because of the number of (endangered) juvenile bigeye tuna they had been catching.
(...) I looked up the common names for these species with growing disbelief. It amounted to almost the entire cast list of Finding Nemo. Let's start with the turtles, as these are the most endangered. There was a full house of the ocean going turtles, loggerhead, green sea turtle, leatherback, hawksbill, and gulf Ridley. (...) Then there were the whales (remember the Indian Ocean is supposed to be a whale sanctuary): minke, humpback , and one the observer could not identify (pigmy blue is possible in those waters, but it could have been anything. After that we come to the fish. There was quite a list, topped by the great white shark, which is now officially recognized (...) as vulnerable. (...) On the bright side, they didn't catch any dolphins."

I suppose what I am trying to connect here is our disregard for the oceanic environment and the species that live there. Our consumption once again comes at a great cost to other living creatures.

Monday, September 10, 2007

garden update

We just came in from watering and I thought i should get one shot of the garden anyway so you can see how it has progressed. M. finished the retaining wall, but he still has to finish the front with some rockface he's mentioned so we'll wait and see if that happens.
It is starting to fill in quite well. I've got fucshia's on either side of the wall and they have been blooming since I brought them home in April.

This is what I'm really excited about though...the toad lily! Here it is just getting started. It's the only lily I know of that blooms in the fall. My sister introduced it to me last year and I couldn't believe what a unique plant it turned out to be. We moved last year just as it was starting to take off. I was so happy to find one here and I've been watching it closely to make sure it has all the right conditions. It seems happy doesn't it?

There will be more photos of this to come.

whale slaughter

This story is one I will be following closely. The knowledge that it took 10 hours for the whale to die is enough information for me. I'm appalled and I want to know exactly what happened and why.

For a complete story on the Makah's tradition of returning to whaling you can read more here.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

whoville cats

I thought a few cat photos were overdue. Gigi and Prima are the stars of whoville.

Friday, September 07, 2007

office space

Now that life is back to some normalcy after the panic of thinking I had to move, I've started thinking about tidying up the office area and making it more...inviting to work in. Mostly it's the Gigi lounge since Gigi spends a lot of time in there just lying about. She's got her own little play and sleep area with a nice long window to lie in front of and watch the world go by.

The room looks fairly unfinished and I do have to wait until the window finishing is complete before doing too much. However, I am going to start with paint. I've been searching for a low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) or even better a no VOC paint which is easier to find than I thought.

Why no VOC? Well, I'm very concerned with the quality of my indoor air just as I am concerned about the quality of my outdoor air. Paints can continue to release toxins into the air years after they've been applied. Yes, I know it's a "small" amount, but it's still a quantity and if I have an option to not contribute to that then I opt for a no VOC paint.

With that out of the way, now I can think of colour.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

the last few days

This is what I wrote Monday night after reading the lease renewal for our suite:

"We only just realized that after another year in our place, we have to move. I didn’t think it would bother me, but it does. Maybe it bothers me because I didn’t want to live here initially but gave it my best to make it home and now it’s grown on me. Feeling more comfortable here and loving the area and all it has to offer, it really has become home.

I wish we could live here longer now, but for how long?

Knowing we made a decision, set a goal for our own house and would rent until then, I guess I just didn't want to move much. It will be tough. We’ll have to find a new place, plan our move, change our address, hire movers, unsettle the cats, do a new damage deposit, a new pet deposit, and then all the little things that you don’t think about. I wish we could buy next year, but it’s just not possible. I’d have to land some friggin’ fantastic job to make that happen. db would have to become captain of the Saeco machine to get a pay raise as well.

Not everything works out the way you want it to."

My thoughts seem to convey that we got our lease renewal and it reads in one section:
"(...)at the end of this fixed length of time:
a). the tenancy may continue on a month to month basis or for a fixed length of time
b). the tenancy ends and the tenant must move out of the residential unit"

Our homeowner checked option "b". We were so upset. I assumed that they needed the space with the new baby and all.

So this is how it played out today...

I called Deb (homeowner) just to discuss the flexibility of moving earlier or later from the planned date. We had this whole conversation about moving and making it work for both of us and then she said "we wish you guys could stay" (or something to that effect) and then it dawned on me. She had checked the wrong box on the lease and we were having a conversation we didn't need to. Deb and I had a laugh over this and started over. We signed the lease with the option to renew next year.

Phew! Panic is over. I know we were working with a year before we had to move, but still after having just moved last year I really didn't want to do it again for a while longer.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Kentucky Fried Cruelty

Nothing makes me angrier than this horrific fast food nightmare. Okay, anytime animals suffer for human greed makes me angry. Okay, anytime animals suffer makes me angry. Anywho...I've always hated "dirty bird" as we call it and when one was planning to open up, coupled with Taco Hell, next to my supermarket I was livid. It happened. Taco Hell and Kentucky Fried Cruelty opened. That whole area stinks now like death. I'm always astounded when I hear people say "that smells so good." Huh? I guess I've been so far removed from the fast food scene that all I smell is burning fat and oil and all I think about is tortured animals.

Yesterday's Sun made me very happy when I saw this story. PETA is launching a tv add in Vancouver to boycott KFC in Canada. Woohoo! I tried showing the article to someone at work and she said "I can't read that I don't want to know." There's the problem right there. People have an idea that something awful is going on but refuse to look and see what exactly is happening to animals. Just go to PETA's website or Farm Sanctuary's website to find out a little truth.

back to fluville

Yuck, I'm not feeling so great. I left work yesterday feeling woozy and chilled. The signs were there and I gave into them by the time I finished work. I couldn't wait to get home and go to bed. It was a bit of a rough night, but I'm feeling better today. I just have very little energy.

Of course I run through the list of possibly life threatening illnesses I might have even though I know it's the flu. Is it West Nile? Avian flu? Norwalk? Is it a new kind of SARS, something that has yet to be named? Is it a sign that I've got something worse like a failing kidney or some other organ (it doesn't matter I always imagine some worse case scenario)? None of these options seem to have come true so I'm just sick with a regular ol' 24 hour flu.

Prima loves it because I'm not moving much and she can sleep next to me or on me whenever she pleases. I've never met such a needy cat. It's very sweet really.

My plans to run 30 k this morning are delayed, so I'm going to try tomorrow. It's been a fairly nice day today so hopefully we'll get a window of no rain tomorrow and hopefully it will be while I'm on the run.


Oh yes the windows. Did I mention that already? The new windows are in and we've got extra light in the living room and now that window opens to let in some air. Finally. Once the finishing work is done I can set up the cat post near the living room window so the girls can have easy access to the ledge.