The end of an era

About a week ago i received news that my old roommate Ty was cancelling the phone number of our house in edmonton. It was a rotating student household which he kept alive long after kylie tempted me away with promises of nightly suppers, clean laundry and lifelong happiness. The original housemates have since spread across the globe. Although Ty is still in edmonton, Aaron is currently biking across asia and Josh is coordinating public health for babies in Niger.

After almost 5 years you wouldnt think that this dissolution would affect me much, but consider the consequences... i now have to go in and apply for a new safeway club card. Up until this point I'm sure safeway assumed they were tracking the spending habits of a small all male long distance commuter commune or something.

Most treasured among my mementos from this free wheeling college kid lifestyle was a couch/loveseat that my mom found at a garage sale. It was one of the most comfortable couchs ever graced by my discerning derriere. A pillar of certainty in a world rife with changing ideas, identities and idioms. It was passed out on, made out on, spilled on, sprawled on and occasionally jumped on. When kylie and i lived in edmonton it was again included in our living room collection, but when we came out to chilliwack kylie relegated it to the basement where it served duty as a studying couch and place to sit while playing with niko (not to mention a springboard for quick 180s).

Now i believe I have set the stage for you to understand my reaction when i came home from work one day to find this morbid scene layed out at my feet.

It took a few days for me to muster the energy and time to load this old friend onto our trusty volvo drive it to the dump. As you can see, niko took the opportunity to destroy the cushions he missed the first time around.

We ran a couple errands on our way. the volvo sticks out in chilliwack anyways, but we were generating a lot of stares and laughing. a couple people even took our picture with their cellphones.

It was a sad day when i heaved this wooden embodiement of my carefree youth into a pit full of assorted detritus. I still have our kitchen table and coffeetable to console myself with but its difficult to nap on them. Ty has suggested a 10713 reunion this summer and if i can make it i will toast the memory of this couch multiple multiple times.

Goodbye comfy couch, goodbye 10713, goodbye carefree youth... in 3 months I will officially be a responsible adult, or at least get paid like one.


ps- a quick addition of 4 countries I would like to visit (the rest of kylie's stuff is pretty accurate):
1. turkey
2. nepal
3. israel
4. cambodia
Chris tagged us so here we go. I am filling it out for both Marc and I (he doesn't know this) :) See if you can guess which is me and which is Marc.


1. Elementary/Middle School Teacher
2. Piano Teacher
3. Resident
4. Steelworker


1. Scrubs
2. Amazing Race
3. Matrix
4. What the Bleep do we know?


1. Lethbridge
2. Edmonton
3. Chilliwack
4. Rocky Mountain House (Summers)

FOUR COUNTRIES I WOULD LIKE TO VISIT (where i haven't been):

1. New Zealand
2. Switzerland (Marc has been here, I have not)
3. Greece
4. Anywhere in South America


1. I'm goofy all the time (hmmmm who could this be about?)
2. That we never fight :)
3. Marc is a punk (this is partially true) :) Is this too many smiley faces in one section?
4. That I make dinners every night

FOUR PEOPLE I LOOK LIKE (according to some people):

1. Snow White
2. Jesus
3. David Beckham
4. Wow, that's quite a list but I can't think of a fourth


1. Have babies (one day soon mother!)
2. Live in another country
3. Perfect my French
4. Teach in a university ( I think this applies to both Marc and I)


Sun Peaks!

Marc and I went to Sun Peaks (just outside of Kamloops) this weekend with our bible study. We had such a great time! We rented a condo that had its own hot tub and three bedrooms. It was so great to get to know everyone a little bit better. On Saturday when everyone else was skiing, Marc and I went for a hike with Niko on the snowshoe trails. There was so much snow! I fell in a couple of times and it was deeper than my waist! After we snowshoed we enjoyed a couple of hours in the hot tub and then had an amazing dinner of BBQed steak. After dinner we went tobaggining on the toboggan park at the hill and we used a mat that was suppossed to protect people from running into signs! It was so awesome. We piled all 6 people on top and laid on the cushy mat and went high speed all the way down. Before we found the mat Marc attempted to make a diaper out of a white plastic bag to help him sled. (Picture of that to come later.) Anyways enough rambling, check out the pictures below. The ones where you just see our torso's, we are waist deep in the snow!


Saltspring Island II

Here are some organic sheep.

Ruckle park. Note the large rocks.

Classic Kylie

While in the rainforest we were visited by a forest spirit of some sort. This image is not photoshopped at all. it was taken with a manual digital camera with the exposure set super low. This thing was 3d and veritably pulsing with love for all living things, or perhaps demonic vitriol... difficult to tell.


Saltspring Island

We just spent 3 days on occasionally sunny saltspring island, home to organic farms, esteemed artisans and a mandatory high fibre diet. our time was divided roughly evenly into sleeping, hiking and eating with perhaps a small emphasis on the eating. we spent time on mt. maxwell where we experienced rain, snow, hail, being inside a cloud and finally beautiful sunshine. we also expored ruckle park and various beaches and large piles of rocks.

mt. maxwell

"I am an angel, sent by God..."


My favourite pizza

In honour of my friend Chris' trial of the southbeach diet I have decided to post one of my all time favourite recipes, courtesy of rachel ray, courtesy of kylie. We have been making a double recipe and then freezing a couple pizzas before baking. We baked a frozen one tonight and it was fantastic.

Stuffed french bread pizza

1 (2 foot long) loaf French bread
1 pound sweet (or hot) Italian sausage
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 package frozen chopped spinach defrosted and squeezed dry
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 pound sweet sopressata, from the deli, sliced thick, chopped
1/2 stick pepperoni, chopped
1 sack (10 ounces) shredded mozzarella
1 sack (10 ounces) shredded provolone
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
(the ricotta and mozzarella cheeses are mandatory, the others are optional, all measurements are of course discretionary, kylie and i skip the garlic b/c kylie is not a fan)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Split bread lengthwise and hollow it out. (kylie and i just press it down)
Cut in half across, making 4 shells for pizzas.

Heat a skillet over medium high flame and brown sausage in extra-virgin olive oil. Brown and crumble sausage. Add red bell pepper, onion and garlic. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, add spinach. Remove mixture from heat and season with a pinch of salt and black pepper, to your taste.

Transfer to a bowl. Combine sausage and veggies with ricotta, Parmesan, sopressata and pepperoni. Fill bread shells and top with mounded mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Place in hot oven on cookie sheet and bake until cheese melts and bubbles and bread is super crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes. Top pizzas with oregano and hot pepper flakes. Serve immediately, or snack all night!

It's different every time, but every time its my favourite pizza. and the hardest part is pronouncing sopressata.


Epic walks

Chilliwack has fantastic outdoor opportunities. Here is a quick photo tour of some of the places we have taken Niko for a walk in the past week or so. Note the beautiful weather we've had here recently. Should end tomorrow unfortunately.

Kylie and I are taking off to Saltspring Island for a couple days. I'm sure we'll have some good pictures of rain(y)forests and beaches when we return

Vedder river valley

Harrison lake

Island 22

Jesperson dike (yes josh, you too can one day have a dike of your very own)



Tyrn just recommended a documentary called The End of Suburbia to us a day after the globe and mail ran a frontpage article about immigrants becoming lost in the isolation of the suburbs.

He also mentioned an internet essay by Jim Kunstler predicting the collapse of the international banking system. Last week Kylie and I watched Enron, the smartest guys in the room an excellent documentary about the "house of cards built over a swimming pool full of gasoline" that was Enron. This movie gives you a bit of insight into how bizzare our financial system is.

I'm still waiting for Aaron's thai spiced, endorphin influenced thoughts on the matter.

My friend Jarrid replied to my last post in an email as follows:

Regarding your latest blog post.

I too concern myself with this issue. Another scary point is the race for developing countries to catch up to our "evolved" lifestyle.

I don't feel as though I have been told what to want. I do feel that anything I want is at my finger tips, and in any shape, colour, texture, etc I may desire and that there are people out there who would love for me to have all I desire.

It all deals with desires, Marc. Marketing capitalizes on our desires, some of them our most dark and selfish. A major part of the problem about desires is their tendency to create unhappiness when unfulfilled.

The Four Noble Truths:
With life comes suffering. Desires lead to suffering. Eliminations of suffering leads to happiness. Eliminate desires by following the 8 fold path (Right Views, Right Aspirations, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right contemplation)

We must realize that all that we desire can be found within ourselves, and that "Who is content with nothing possesses all things."

I feel that modern society is on a crash course. It is a pessimistic view, but I am convinced that changes to society's consumption will not change until it has to, and by that time it will be too late ( we have to change NOW!). I feel as though only once the oil runs dry, that alternative energies will be accepted, then people will clue in. That being said, I'm not about to just stand by and let it happen. I do agree that there are learned behaviors and habits that we have adopted from previous generations ( baby boomers, etc) and that these behaviours require diligent effort to modify, but it can be done.




This has been on my mind a lot lately

North America has a problem. A serious problem. We spend more money than we have. Our countries spend more money than they have and our citizens spend more money than they have. The grand bellweather of social climate Oprah Winfrey recently had a show on debt that Kylie was watching. On that show she claimed that 70% of american households are living in debt. Now I'm sure Oprah can afford to pay her fact checkers well, but even if she is overestimating by 50% this number is still astoundingly huge. Only a small fraction of these households are below the poverty line. The majority of them are middle class families.

Unless you do some pretty solid financial planning, it is very difficult to get out of debt once you are in deep. It is pretty rare for someone's income to suddenly jump enough to maintain their level of spending (which was driving them into debt) and to pay off their debts fast enough to get ahead of the interest. (the obvious exception to this is being in debt while going to school). Most people think that this will magically happen at some point, but in reality with every increase in income over time there is a corresponding increase in spending whether this is because of cost of living increases, more kids, more school, rising property taxes (ouch), or because with the raise we can finally afford that new car or tv.

Being in debt produces a chronic anxiety state. Every purchase brings to mind the lack of funds and every trip to the mailbox reinforces the plethora of creditors. A chronic anxiety state perpetuates a void in one's life. Why am I never happy? Why am I always looking to the future? Many people fill this void with consumer goods.

Why is this?

Is it some kind of vestigial hunter gatherer instinct welling up from deep within us and driving us to acquire? To feather our nest or store away those dried berries? I doubt it, and not just because the stuff we buy is non essential to our survival. In fact the purchases that make us temporarily happy are almost non essential by definition. How excited do you get when you buy butter or milk? Pay your rent? Gas bill? OK, I admit that buying a nice rack of ribs gets my dopamine flowing, but what about the equivalent protein in baked beans? No, the rush comes from the extras... a new tv, shoes, skill saw, sweater (kylie!), bike (marc!) or whatever happens to turn your crank.

Occam's razor would suggest a different explanation. One that does not introduce a new entity such as a "vestigial hunter gatherer instinct". Kylie and I caught the end of a really interesting show on the knowledge network called "Growing up Canadian". On that show they talked about the various wants and needs of Canadian kids in the early 20th century. These desires changed radically around 1900. Why you ask? Because of the advent of the Eaton's catalogue. Kids went from playing with homemade toys and the odd store bought sled to being told what to want by a fancy black and white catalogue. We never looked back. Today millions of dollars are poured into marketing campaigns every year to convince us that we cant live without X, Y or Z.

Now we have come to the part that has really been on my mind lately. Our capitalist economy is built on the health of these companies. Today's global market has amalgamated many of these companies into large corporations. We have been told repeatedly that what is good for the corporations is good for us. Indeed, many of us work directly or indirectly for corporations that require people to continue buying luxury items in order to survive. Our economy is fueled by our own overspending.

So we are faced with a dilemma. Do we as a nation attempt to curtail our profligate spending habits at the expense of our economy? These days increased global competition has brought in cheap consumer goods from overseas, and the corporations' obligation to their shareholders to post increasing profits every quarter has sent many canadian jobs overseas as well. So frankenstein's monster isnt doing the heavy lifting around the house anymore... he is free and running across the arctic tundra (or mexican desert). Our RRSPs are still growing, but it seems like a poor trade for the privilege of paying last months VISA bill with this month's salary.

Who is actually benefitting from all this overspending? International corporations and banks. the globe and mail published a list of the most profitable canadian companies of 2005 and 4 of the top 5 were banks. BANKS! We give them our money to lend to some poor sucker to buy a new car and they still charge us $2 to withdraw some cash. 70% of us owe them money and they are taking in still more hand over fist.

Could we even change any of this if we wanted to? The fashion industry is based on the concept that we need to spend more $ to be happy and succesful, as is the electronics industry and the automotive industry etc. Even if the bulk of the profits from these endeavours are not benefitting canada, our economy is still based on the health of all these companies, which is based on continued overspending by our citizens. Remember the desparate pleas from the white house after september 11 to get out there and buy stuff? Even a couple weeks of change in spending priorities was felt acutely.

This is the dilemma that has been distracting me for the past week or two. We are now living lives that are shaped by the corporations that sell these lives to us. Like the praire kids in 1905, we are being told what to desire. But unlike those prairie kids we are experiencing a barrage of advertising urging us to take on more debt in order to achieve our desires. VISA, Instaloan, 0% financing, no money down... its so easy and it feels so good. And we're just doing our patriotic duty right? RIGHT?

There, maybe now that I've gotten this out I can stop thinking about it for a while. Good thing too, b/c i just got paged.



Niko ate my glasses!

The other day Marc was upstairs and Niko was downstairs and Marc heard a funny crunching noise. He didn't think much of it but when I returned home minutes later I found my glasses destroyed. I have been meaning to get new glasses for awhile as my prescription has changed. I have now picked out new ones and they will be ready by next Monday. They are the first pair of funky glasses I have ever owned in my life. All my other pairs have been very nerdy so I am excited to show my new ones off!



Lately Alberta and Quebec's big healthcare announcements have been generating a lot of headlines and handwringing about the state of healthcare in this country. The prime minister is seemingly caught between his albertan roots and his new suburban powerbase.

This is weird, b/c canada has had a secret 2 tier healthcare system for some time now and it hasnt been reported at all.

I had a patient a few weeks ago who broke his wrist, and when the cast came off, he had no movement whatsoever. I referred him to a hand surgeon in vancouver and was told he would be seen in AUGUST!!!!! This is obviously ridiculous as he can't even work right now.
I then phoned around to see if I could get an earlier appt for him. All the hand surgeons had similar waiting lists. However, I was told by several people, "For $500 I'll see him next week" What??? Yes, that's right. And for a couple thousand he can have his surgery a week later.

There is at least one and probably several private ORs operating in Vancouver right now. You can get shoulder or knee surgery with the country's best docs. Old hip getting you down? BC health care kicking you while you're there? No problem, pony up the cash and they'll throw in a cataract operation for half price.

I don't understand why this is not making headlines when the political announcements are such big news and are encountering so much opposition.

A word to the Tommy Douglas fans of today... you have already missed the boat.
Healthcare in canada is severely broken. Our local hospital is grinding to a halt. Perhaps the answer includes some level of private healthcare delivery, and it's not just the debate that has been forced on us, it is the reality. However, healthcare will never recover without a fundamental restructuring of care delivery, and a shift in emphasis from caring for sick people to caring for well people and preventing them from getting sick.

Millions of dollars are wasted in the healthcare system every year through inefficiencies, bureaucracy, protection of regional budgets at the expense of total spending, and general silly decisions made by people in boardrooms who have no idea what is needed to run a hospital.

Two quick examples:
1. radiology departments routinely shut down their imaging overnight to save money in their individual budgets. This leads to patients waiting for days in a hospital bed for a test or procedure they need right away. In addition to the cost of keeping the patient in hospital for an extra week, the patient is likely to get sicker while waiting, or contract an infection from a neighbour and end up in ICU or on crazy expensive antibiotics or some other silly expense. Or they could save the system some money and die. The important thing is that the radiology department stayed under budget.
2. A common barrier to discharge of patients from the hospital is lack of community resources. Many patients wait around in hospital when they are better b/c they are unable to care for themselves at home. Home care budgets have been slashed across BC leaving homecare nurses overworked and underpaid. This leads to patients staying in hospital much longer than necessary and in addition to the cost of keeping the patient in hospital etc. etc. But the important thing is that we are saving money that used to go to those greedy homecare nurses.

I can think of 3 or 4 more offhand examples as above, and a well coordinated study/survey could probably come up with hundreds.

So class, what have we learned today?
Here's the bottom line for all you management/accounting folks.

We already have a 2 tier system.

Our current system will not survive and will not be able to take care of you when you are old and sick unless it is drastically overhauled from the bottom up.

What should we do? Any suggestions?



I hate Laundry!

I am the worst laundry doer ever. At any given time in my house there will be two HUGE baskets of dirty laundry along with two HUGE baskets of clean laundry that needs to be put away. This never ever ends! Today I was going to go to the gym but I couldn't because all of my "gym clothes" were dirty. (A horrible excuse I know!) The washing machine we have at our house is about 2/3 the size of a regular machine as is the dryer. Needless to say I jam as much laundry as I possibly can into the washing machine and then into the dryer and then everything comes out of the dryer SOOOOOOO wrinkled and I have to iron everything. I know that I could put less in the machine but then I would be doing laundry every single day of my life. Part of my problem stems from the fact that we now have a puppy and everything gets dirty when you take him for a walk in the rain, also part of the problem is that I change like three times a day. I have work clothes, jeans if we go out and then of course the lovely "pajama" oufits that are so comfy to wear after a day of work.

I discovered when we lived in Golden this summer and had to use the laundromat that laundry is amazing unwrinkled when you fold it right after it comes out of the dryer, wow what a revelation. I almost want to take my laundry here to the laundromat and get it all done in one day! I would love to use 8 washing machines and then 8 dryers and be done done done!!!!

I also don't sort my laundry. I know I know mom I should! My brother and I were just talking about laundry last week and how our mom does laundry. We both realized that it is not normal to grow up with multiple piles of laundry littering the hallway every Monday. (My mother is VERY organized!) There would be the dark warm wash pile, the cold light pile, the hot white pile, the cold light pile etc... etc... and these piles would be in the hallway for a couple of days until the laundry is done.
Maybe if I started piling my laundry in the hall rather than hiding it in the closet when people come over it would give me a reason to do it.

Last week I asked Marc if there was anything that I was failing at as a wife. The only thing he could come up with was laundry. (Which I thought was great that there was only one thing, he also made a list of all the wonderful things I do as a wife too!)

Oh I forgot about the socks, the last thing that I hate about laundry is matching socks. In fact I NEVER do it. NEVER EVER! Most mornings consist of me lying in bed and Marc saying, "I'm turning on the light " and he rifles through our big basket of unmatched socks and curses the fact that none of them match. Marc recently discovered that wearning black socks with khaki pants is a no no so looking for socks in the morning just got more complicated.

Anyways, I should go put in a load of laundry! :)

P.S. I am never as happy as the lady in the picture when I do laundry.