Wednesday, October 27, 2010

pending thoughts


I wonder what would happen to the world if we
(little as we are)
became more intrigued by,
and less afraid of,


Monday, October 25, 2010

SHOUT OUT – that old adage…

Way back in the beginning of time, I began posting something called “SHOUT OUT!”s. They were odes to local inventors; artists, musicians, and the like. I was so ambitious, I boldly claimed that I would post one “every Monday!” and I even asked for suggestions. And then, because I have the ability to blip through seven months of Mondays without really noticing (the gift of time travel? Sadly, no), the SHOUT OUTs and the joy that came with them ceased. My apologies to my apologies to my apologies.

So today’s post (and it’s even Monday! Can you believe it!) is a L.O.N.G. awaited SHOUT OUT; one I’ve even mentioned from time to time (for those with a keen eye, you might have noticed the self-loathing notes at the bottom of the occasional post?). This was a reader suggestion from my friend Bailey. She was engaged at the time, loved her photos & photographer, and asked me to mention her in an upcoming SHOUT OUT. I think that was a long time ago. Because not only is Bailey married to that person she was engaged to, she has been married for awhile. Good gracious. (okay I counted, and it really has been only seven months since she asked...not the year I expected. Pride point? Hmm...)

So anyway! Onward and upward. Here is the much awaited, much prolonged SHOUT OUT for Carolyn Egerszegi Photography.
Like any good photographer, the pictures speak for themselves - so I won't comment on every one (tempting as it is!). However, I love this first one. One day I will be in a picture this whimsical. Just you wait! Balloons in photos rock my world - but this one in particular is adorable is! I like everything about it - the framing, the simple color scheme, and the clever idea.


Oh, the gorgeousness.

This next one is a shot of the rings on the morning of their wedding. Andrew sent Bailey a letter to read before she got ready that day. HELLO. I know you don't really need them anymore Andy, but you scored major points for this one. Also, this photo is awesome (I am a writer. Am I biased because the rings are sitting on words? Maybe). Creative ring shots are hard to come by - this one definitely fits the bill!

Beautiful moments to capture. Bailey - you are so expressive!

It feels like I haven't done enough justice to Carolyn, only posting six photos. But her clean style and eye for color made me want to post a lot more and I easily could have posted a LOT more. So instead let me give you this: her blog address. Make sure to check her out if you are looking for a photographer!

Friday, October 22, 2010

when I'm older...


...I am  not going to assume everyone younger than me is stupid.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

wonderland wisdom


Alice: From the moment I fell down that rabbit hole I’ve been told what I must do and who I must be! I’ve been shrunk, stretched, scratched and stuffed into a teapot! I’ve been accused of being Alice and of not being Alice but this is my dream! I’ll decide where it goes from here…

Bayard: It will diverge from the path.

Alice: I make the path.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

everything is beautiful

Thanks to my amazing job, I was able to attend Splash 2010 this past Saturday - a fundraiser for Arts Umbrella. Arts Umbrella is a not-for-profit society for visual and performing arts for children based in Vancouver. The fundraiser was arts based - with both a live auction and a silent auction of some wonderful art pieces by a number of artists. The event was held at Granville Island and was like nothing I've ever been able to attend before. Beautiful setup, beautiful people, beautiful cause.

Many of you know by now that I've decided to try sharpening this as-of-yet-neglected artistic bone of mine. So far, I've spent countless hours daydreaming; honing not the skills but the confidence and the drive to actually do it. My evening at Splash proved to be remarkably inspiring and incredibly well timed. Not only was I surrounded by fabulous art, I was in a room filled with artists; the paintings were not only wonderful to look at, but they were clear examples of what happens when Art meets Dedication.

My mom's natural abilities with paper, paint and canvas spilled over in many ways to me and my sisters, and as such, I grew up with a critical eye for color, shape, and design. Without conscious effort, I am constantly analyzing the visual appeal of the paintings, drawings, and art-pieces I come across on a daily basis. But, my word, I have never before visited a gallery. And here I was; surrounded by art that was worth...a lot more than I ever thought art could be worth. So, while I didn't necessarily like all of the paintings, it is hard to deny the skillset and talent of someone who has clearly taken the art world by storm (as was the case a few times).

Much to my delight, the pieces from both the live and silent auctions are all available for viewing online, although I do say that there is no justice here when compared to seeing the pieces live. The size of the canvas and the depth of the colors is hardly the same in a photograph as it is in real life. Regardless, here below are a few of my favorite pieces from the evening; ones which, were I a well established financier, I may have purchased myself.

This piece by Carole Arnston was absolutely exquisite in person, with bold, vibrant
colors and obvious emotional connection. Definitely one of my favorites.
Visit for more of her work.
This painting by Suzanne Northcott may look simple at its outset, but upon closer
inspection you would notice the immense amounts of articulate skill it took to create this.
This one was definitely a close second for personal favorite, and was one of the highest
grossing sellers; it was very popular with the guests. In fact, it was the only piece to more
than double its worth at auction. Go to to see more of her work.
Another piece that looks simple until you look closer....see that?? That's FOG.
And tree branches, and incredibly accurate depth of field. That deserves a "wow."
Quite lovely in person, very accessible to the viewer which I like, and very obviously a
work that took time and talent. Painting by Richard Cole; visit for more;
he is very, very good!

Mixed media was a form that showed up on quite a few pieces, although this one
was definitely the most captivating piece in that genre. The details and depth
are impossible to see via photograph, but you'll just have to trust me on this one;
in person, it's quite captivating. By Andre Petterson, visit and find
his name on the left hand menu.

This work by Glenn Payan was one of the pieces I liked more the longer I looked at it.
Love the stylistic nature of his work - very unique and full of character.
Check out for more of his stuff.

Another mixed media piece, this time by Angela Grossman. Here's an excerpt
from her website: "While still a student at Emily Carr College (now Institute) of Art
and Design in 1985, Angela Grossmann was introduced as one of the Vancouver
Art Gallery's "Young Romantic" painters most likely to influence the course of painting
in that decade." Very cool. Visit to see more.

Although nearly impossible to see here in a photo of it, this painting is actually
quite remarkable in person. The lighting is untouchable, and the colors are vibrant and
inviting. Ross Penhall had made a name for himself in the art world and it is not hard
to see why. Visit - gorgeous!
To see more of the art that was available at the live auction, and find out more about Arts Umbrella, go here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

art & poverty

one of the many charming, artistic details in an otherwise desperatelly impovershed neighborhood.
Photo by Michelle Bruton

A couple weeks ago now, I took a tour of the Downtown East Side. My friend Sarah had come across an ad on Craigslist by a guy who was offering “An information tour of Vancouver's and Canada's most known and least understood neighbourhoods”. Craigslist ad? Downtown East Side? Hmm.

Despite the supposed risks I signed up with a group of friends for a 10am spot on a Saturday morning; the tour would last approximately three hours and would take us through a variety of DTES locations. I wanted to learn more about this neighbourhood from a non-media standpoint, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. What would I see if I went there myself?

Our tour guide was David Beattie, a 51 year old journalist “who has lived in six countries on four continents, and [has] reported on social issues in Metro Vancouver, BC and abroad for 30 years.” Originally from South Africa, David has settled here out of fascination with the DTES. He is doing what he can to study, communicate with, and advocate for the Downtown East Side residents and culture.

David’s knowledge of the history, politics and people of the DTES was extensive and fascinating. He isn’t a na├»ve reporter, repeating what he was told to say; he is a man who has lived and breathed the air with these residents for some time now. He has taken the time to read, to listen, and to learn; he is a walking encyclopaedia of DTES information, with dates, names, and stories told with detail and in the right order. You could see his heart as he spoke; unbending, yet unbiased by popular opinion. If you told David that the DTES should be cleaned up and promptly closed out, he could tell you very easily all the reasons you are wrong. He so easily convinced me that I had been mislead about the truths of the DTES – because I had been. Once you are there in amongst the people, listening to the stories and learning the history, you too might begin to feel pain instead of fear, like I did.

What I learned from David and from the tour is hard to narrow down into a paragraph or sentence, because there was much to learn and much to grapple with. And the things I saw and heard are still percolating, as if I’ve barely started to understand them (in fact, I’ve considered taking another tour already). But, I will do my best to bring out the most prominent threads; the pieces of information that kept coming up on the street around us and in our conversations throughout the morning.

If I could sum up the Downtown East Side into one word, that word would be: Community.

Shocking, isn’t it? Previously, I believed that the summary word for this area should be a lot less forgiving than Community. Regardless, and because of the tour, that is the word I’ve chosen. From the minute we stepped in to the borders of the DTES, we saw people everywhere – and this was the subject of our commentary on more than one occasion. They were all over the sidewalks, laughing and talking and figuring out their world together. The sharp contrast between this neighbourhood and my own began with this observation: everyone talks to everyone else. Of course there are reasons for this continual outdoor communion, one of which is the housing situation. Low income housing is far from affordable and even further from liveable; after seeing just the outsides of these “apartments” myself, I decided that I too would rather sleep on a frozen sidewalk than inside that.

If I could sum up the people of the Downtown East Side into one phrase, that phrase would be: just like me.

More shock, I’m sure. But the humiliating recognition of my own arrogance kept swatting at me as I walked. How could I deem any person as less capable than I am? I have been given the tools since birth: support, love, health, education, identity. To place my worth higher than someone else, simply because I was born to opportunity, is arrogant. I have always been told that I could do anything I want and my gifts and talents were celebrated; I have known because I was taught that I am valuable and worth the investment. These are a people who have been told otherwise. And that right there is our only difference.

I should comment here, as I expect there are a few who think I should, on the prevalent drug use in the DTES. Here is my thought on that:

We all have addictions, vices, and compulsions; some are just more visible than others. The consequences are different, but the choice is the same: your coping mechanism may not cost you your job or be visible enough to lose the respect of your community, but it’s still your coping mechanism. “Well at least I don’t…” is a poor excuse for a caste system, whichever way you look at it. When you are 100% faultless, you can judge someone with an addiction. But since you aren’t, you can’t.

If I could describe the tour experience in one word, it would be: de-mystifying.

I have so often heard reports about the DTES, but I have never before heard reports from the DTES. The difference between the two is actually quite remarkable. Yes, there are so many things going on there that are heartbreaking, unsafe, and even dangerous. But the most painful thing about all of it was the absolute, unmistakeable reality of the fight it will take to defend the people who live there. There is an entire world against them, save a few.

So to David, I say thank you. Your dedication to educating people is respected and necessary, and I am certain that through your efforts, much will change.

for more pictures of our time on the East Side, visit

Here is the original craigslist ad, complete with David's contact information. At the end of our tour I asked him if I could pass this information on to others who might be interested and he agreed it would be okay. Please remember to be respectful in your comments.

DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE - get to know it! (Downtown Eastside)

WHAT? An information tour of Vancouver's and one of Canada's most known and least understood neighbourhoods.

WHY? Fear and misunderstanding lead most Vancouverites and nearly all tourists to avoid the DTES. This is a pity as understanding and knowledge of the forces at work in the area will lead to tolerance and compassion, and thus more enlightened public policy for rehabilitation and recovery of those DTES residents who want and need it.
WHEN? Any time you choose, between 10am and 8pm seven days a week. I need THREE HOURS notice before starting any tour.
WHO? My name is David Beattie, I'm a 51-year-old journalist who has lived in six countries on four continents, and have reported on social issues in Metro Vancouver, BC and abroad for 30 years.
HOW MUCH? By donation - half of which goes to PACE - "Providing Alternatives, Counselling and Education" to survival sex workers.
HOW LONG? One to three hours. If you are able, we walk for between 3 and 6 kms. If too much for you, bring a car or we can take a bus part of the way. CONTACT: email


1. Insite - North America's only safe injection site for drug users. Highly controversial, you will learn all about the case for and against.

2. Carnegie Centre - called the "Living Room of the DTES" this building is not only an architectural and historical curiousity, it's become a unique sort of "poverty plaza" housing an array of intriguing services, events and disparate groups.

3. First United Church and other shelters: We visit this famous landmark, where up to 300 of the most marginalized people in the entire nation are fed and housed for free 365 days a year. Truly, if there is a ground zero for the biblical injunction to treat "the least among us" this is it.

4. VANDU - the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users: an enlightened service where drug users find a welcoming place to gather in a drug-free, safe environment, access counselling or just relax and watch a movie etc.

5. Oppenheimer Park: newly renovated, this park is the green heart of the neighbourhood, complete with a community centre that offers recreational activities and a unique set of programs, much of it aimed at the high proportion of First Nations residents in the area.

6. Quest - a unique supermarket that sells the overflow products and produce of regular supermarkets, for a tiny fraction of the price.

7. Health services - such as the free dental clinic, optometrist etc.

8. Free food services - The Dugout, Union Gospel Mission, Harbourlight complex and the Evelyn Saller Centre.

9. Arts and culture venues - the DTES is becoming a magnet for live music, the home by default for hardcore rock and punk.

10. Vendor zones - informal markets where residents recycle a fascinating array of goods they rescue from bins and dumpsters throughout the city, selling them on for next to nothing.

11. Bottom of the ghetto - this is what I call the back alleys where addicts go to shoot up and smoke crack etc. We don't do anything unsafe or inappropriate - this is not voyeurism, but it is important for a full understanding to the area to experience the full squalor that's the result of outdated policies such as drug criminalization and turning the mentally ill out of institutions without adequate follow up.

12. Ghetto housing. See 45-square-foot rooms in buildings that would not be out of place in Bangladesh slums or Depression-era USA, which rent for the $375 maximum that BC welfare recipients get for housing.1. Insite - North America's only safe injection site for drug users. Highly controversial, you will learn all about the case for and against.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

new methodology

I was at the nail salon this evening getting a manicure; a decision I made only hours beforehand while I tried to pass the last slow hours of the day. My nails are short, because I'm bad at leaving them alone (is there a polite way to say "I bite my nails" ? No? Alright then). The theory I came up with this afternoon was that if they look pretty, I won't want to touch them; that my perfectionist bent towards clean edges and solid blocks of color will turn into something good, on behalf of my poor little hands.

My nail technician sat down and, in one of my favorite accents to listen to, said, "Ooooh! Shawt!" and got to work right away, not looking up to my face for the next 10 minutes or so.

Do you ever get that feeling that people are talking about you? I get that feeling whenever I visit my nail salon. The first time I got a pedicure there, my technician kept tapping my foot as she chatted with the lady next to her in Chinese. This time around, there were three women coming over on a regular basis to look at my hands and lecture my nail tech.

What do the Chinese people think of me??

Needless to say, I've added "frequent visits to spa" to my list of routine habits. It's all a part of my new methodology.

this not my hand. but it could be my hand. maybe later.
ps. you should buy me this ring.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

maybe I'm not a writer.


Maybe I’m not a writer. The more involved I get into other facets of creativity, like painting and sketching and hands-on-creating, the less moved I am to write. I feel kind of weird about it; like I’ve created this pressure field around me where people expect me to have thoughts on paper, and I expect me to have thoughts on paper…and all I want to do is take naps, eat popcorn, drink wine with the sunset and cuddle up to future plans...and doodle; I do a lot of doodling these days.

I'm feeling a little out of sorts.

Monday, October 4, 2010

(read it!)

After a rather lengthy hiatus, I picked up where I left off in Donald Miller’s book Searching for God Knows What. I stopped reading it only to accommodate my August Roadtrip to Friendville. When I got back from resting I realized that I really liked resting and decided to put more of it (rest) into my daily routine. And because when you stop it is impossible to start again, I soon found that I could hardly muster the energy it would take to stir coffee – crashing and burning will do that to a girl – but! have no fear. Now that I have settled into a balanced life of sorts, where I am collecting all 9 of my nightly hours and eating my three squareds and enjoying plenty of time to myself, my desire to read has come back. So I started in again with Don, on my lunch break today, over coffee (which I now have plenty of energy to stir).

I may have mentioned it before, but this book is quite incredible and I really think you should pick it up and read it. Even if you don’t adhere to the Christian faith or believe in Jesus or consider yourself spiritual (or however you want to phrase it), I still think you should give it a go. But promise me this: if you start it, finish it. I say that only because what I read today had me bursting from the inside with agreement, and that particular chapter is nearer to the end…so because I want you to read that chapter too, you should just read the whole thing.

When I am finished with it I will do my best to summarize my favourite parts…and try not to quote the whole book in it’s entirety. This will prove a difficult task, as I have already used up a large amount of highlighter in each section. In the meantime, get yourself a copy and that way, when I’m done and writing about it, you’ll have something to say in the comments section.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

carbs save lives


things that make me (snap!) angry:
1. tailgaters
2. technological glitches
3. assholes

Friday, October 1, 2010

highlights of an administrative life


Today, via an electronic filing system, I got my Total Folder Size (including subfolders) in Outlook from 37,986 KB to 7,744 KB. I do this monthly, but today I got the lowest number I've ever gotten, which means that I am right on top of things in the filing department. Talk about big news.