merry christmas from lethbridge!

we have escaped chilliwack's brutal 3 degrees and sunny in favour of the more seasonal -11 and snowing of lethbridge. here in southern alberta we have enjoyed the hospitality of both kylie's mom and my parents and done all the things we like doing at christmas (although kylie has unfortunately missed out on the more athletic endeavours).

first up was a family xc skiing trip to cameron lake. i don't need to spend much time on this as it has been well documented by julie.

she did however miss the cattle drive we encountered around Mountain View, on the way out AND back. memories of africa and SE asia.

an impromptu christmas gathering spawned organically in my parents' kitchen involving the likes of chris, katherine, fraser, kevin, joanna, lisa and shareen.
my mom was overjoyed to come home from shopping and encounter a party in her kitchen. we overheard her telling her sister on the phone how much fun it was. it's wonderful to have a mom who is so flexible!

that evening entailed a christmas party with kylie's dad greg and her brother brad (a professor at the college... honestly).
the turkey loaf was glistening and the conversation was scintillating.

with all the snow falling, fraser and i had to get out to castle mountain for our first DH day in 2 years. the snow was perfect and the lift lines were nonexistent. on dec. 22nd! the joys of a local hill. castle offers steep bowls, tonnes of tight tree skiing and almost no green runs. kylie made me buy a helmet, but no one was hurt. i was amazed to see well over half of the people on the hill wearing helmets, kids and adults alike. what a cultural shift.

fraser did use his helmet as a contact surface with the snow on two occasions but kept his neck and brain intact.

finally yesterday we made gingerbread houses and did some caroling.
julie showcased her proprioceptive persistence to create this decadent dollop of dental destruction.

family friends amy and jen came over to contribute to our cul de sac. gingerbread houses not being a big deal in china, they had never made one before. we were impressed with their performance (i think they were happy as well).

i think julie is the reason there is a national shortage of these mitts.
merry christmas everyone!


long live the moustache

well, we went ahead and bought a brand new family car. looking for efficiency over efficacy led us to this little intellectual vehicle.

actually, it is truly the property of our buddy jarrid. handover of the vehicle involved a trip to vancouver, chilliwack and on to kelowna. dont worry, we didnt buy a smartcar.
at island 22, the ice permeating the eroded sand created a sort of natural sub zero concrete. it was unnaturally strong.

that reminds me, it has been absolutely gorgeous here over the past 10 days. -2 and sunny and i have been biking 5 times. vedder is clear of snow, but there is a strange natural phenomenom going on that i cannot explain.

in some areas of the trail there is a crystalline ice structure just below the surface. on top all you see is the familiar packed dirt of your favourite trail, but if an object of significant weight rolls over it, the surface buckles and the underpinnings of the trail are revealed to be scintillating ice crystals arranged in organic rows. the dirt is all gone and only water remains, or perhaps some substance that is not apparent to the naked eye.

has a stream of runoff removed all the dirt from right under the trail, leaving only ice? that is my best guess. i wish i had a picture.

yesterday we had our friends masako and shandalin over for lunch, after which we ventured to island 22 to catch snowflakes. masako made us a wonderful japanese veggie and bacon and cheese dish and shandalin contributed some crispy christmas baking.

and finally a brief discussion of my moustache. i love it. i'm not going to shave it. i recognize that it looks a bit silly and i dont care. it was originally grown for movember, although i succeeded in raising very little awareness. it was then kept into december b/c it was so fun to aggravate kylie and the ER nurses. now things have changed. new emotions have arisen. i wake up in the morning and gaze at the splendour of my upper lip and think "what a great moustache!" as you can see in this picture i have started working on the side bars angling in towards the chin. i derive joy from watching it fill in.
the other day as i was heading out for a bike ride i put on my toque b/c it was cold, and donned my sunglasses b/c it was sunny. i got some funny looks when i stopped for a new allen wrench set and it wasnt until i glanced into a mirror and realized that the whole ensemble looked a bit thuggish. my Rage hoodie only added to the look, while the puffin on my toque added a note of whimsy.
i took off my sunglasses, but that is my only concession to current fashion. what a great look to be incognito in a small town.



week in review

this week kylie and i continued on the project she started with her mom and painted our old office/new bedroom.
we are happy with the colour and the feel of the room. i remember learning in psych 1000 that the best colour for a baby room is yellow, and laughing at the thought of painting any room such an odd colour. we've come a long way... baby.

after a miserably rainy 2 weeks the sun has returned to the fraser valley. on the first fully sunny day we ventured to our favourite beach to double our vitamin D dose using the reflective properties of the fraser river.
kylie is pretty quick on the trigger and captured niko in a number of athletic and akimbo poses.

blue skies after rain means the mountains have regained their picturesque snowcapped glory.
we were able to enjoy views of these peaks while bathing niko. here is niko repulsing my attempt at a second scrubdown.

in musical news, after some time primarily immersed in the soft sounds of ann vriend and jose gonzalez and the harder vibes of matt good and the dandy warhols i have recently returned to hip hop and techno to feed my inner metronome.

i found "kings of salone" from sierra leone a few days ago and this song powered me up vedder mountain yesterday (swollen members narrated the downhill after a conversation with our friend dan about their street cred in the US):

you can download the whole mixtape here.

if i am going to touch on the subject of african rap, then i have to share with you the song that dominated the auralscape of east africa while we were there in 2007. a tanzanian rap with a chorus that loosely translates as "what's up? - it's all good" and acts as an easy primer for swahili slang greetings.

being able to sing the chorus of this song went a long way towards establishing street cred with the locals. greeting any young person on the street in zanzibar would quickly lead to an exchange such as:

happo vipi?
happo sawa

mambo vipi?
mambo poa

habari yako?
sawa sawa, na wewe?
mzuri sana bwana

if i could successfully navigate this far into the conversation in the correct order the young person with whom i was conversing would almost invariably start laughing and say:
chizi chizi kama ndizi

which translates loosely as "crazy crazy like a banana"

at this point i would be out of my language depth and we would both start laughing... i love swahili and i enjoy the laid back drawn out friendly greetings. typing this out has made me miss africa (dont tell kylie).

finally an interesting factoid from the world of tiger woods. i hesitate to wade into the media bonanza surrounding his trumpeted fall from grace, however i found this point illustrative of both the degree of tiger's saturation of mass media and the vocabulary of the majority media consumer. yesterday woods released his reactive media statement, the first line of which reads "I have let my family down and i regret those transgressions with all of my heart". the number one google search yesterday was for the definition of "transgression".


embarassing moments and mustaches (oh and cherri)

check out my movember stache! kylie hates it, which is fun, but i love it. although with my new haircut i look like a cop.

up until a few days ago i had a soul patch as well. for a more refined look.

we had a bunch of plumbing issues pop up at our place all at the same time, so i have been busy working in tight spaces. everything is back to working order, except the tub faucet still bleeds a lot of pressure from the shower. i never did figure out what happened with our dishwasher, but just a thorough inspection seems to have taught it a lesson.
kylie's mom cherri came out to visit last week. we warned her she wasnt going to see the sun for a week, but it actually came out a few times. it was fun having her around. together kylie and cherri prepped our office to be transformed into a jungle themed bedroom.

finally a quick and disgusting true story that happened to me today. if you are squeamish stop reading now... i deliberately left this until the end.

last night all the infectious people i have been seeing at work finally caught up with me and i went to bed with stomach cramps. i assumed the cramps were related to me eating half a pan of smore brownies that kylie made, but the sudden need to run for the bathroom to empty my intestines in both directions made me realize that there was something more going on.

i slept intermittently until things calmed at 4:00 and woke up at 7:00am feeling a bit better. i was scheduled to assist in the OR and if i phoned in sick they would have to cancel the operations. i talked to the surgeon and he encouraged me to come on out and give it a try. eating a banana and an orange and feeling ok i decided i could cruise by the er and pick up some strong antinauseants and the surgeries could go on!

what i did not recon with was the masks. thick surgical masks with full eye shields off the top, and b/c these were total joint cases, the addition of a bizarre hood that looks like a diaphonous version of a snowmobiling suit.
put all that together and add on a double wraparound surgical smock that extends to mid shin and you have a pretty stuffy nausea inducing environment. i should have bailed right there.

instead i managed to hold it together for the first 30 min of the surgery and it was not until the bone saw began splattering little clots of pulped femur across the surgical field that my mouth suddenly flooded with saliva. the OR staff where all aware of my precarious position and thus it was no surprise when i gave my apologies and bolted from the room. unfortunately the garbage can i had counted on just outside room 4 had inexplicably been removed. i ran down the hall and around the corner to the change room but didnt make it. i vomited a nice thick mixture of banana, cliff bar and coffee but it didnt hit the ground. i kept running, realizing that it was being held in check by my layers of personal surgical draping. having that pleasant mixture in my mask did nothing to alleviate my nausea and, as often happens, the balance of my morning intake came up in my stomach's second attempt.

this time the volume of vomitus exceeded that available in my mask hood combo and, as my mask swelled to contain it against my mouth and nose it shot out to fill the space between the plastic shield and my eyes. still being several steps from the bathroom i had fleeting visions of drowning in my own vomit as i reached the garbage can and tore my mask off just as my vision was completely obscured. i took a big breath and glanced sideways to see a lucky recovery nurse who was just getting changed and thus was able to bear witness to this disturbing spectacle.

the OR was able to find someone else to rush in from home and take my place, so the nice lady got to have her new knee and in a noncontaminated fashion. i should have been firm and said i couldnt work and they would have found an assist and delayed the case a bit, but i guess i had to learn that lesson the hard way. i am feeling a bit better now, and have spent the whole day lying around reading and sleeping (thanks for "the lives of animals" steve, another book that makes my mind dance).

anyways, now i am left with a bit of embarassment, which should wear off as i dont work in the OR again for a few weeks, as well as the memory of what it feels like to drown in your own puke. lovely.


Ottawa Part Deux

After our lovely jaunt to Montreal we headed back to Ottawa to visit with Carlynne for a few days whilst Dan was off chasing (and eventually hunting) deer. We went to Parliament two days in a row, on the first day we went to Question Period and listened to a very lively discussion about h1n1. I remarked to Marc that I would never take a class there because afterwards when I asked them to be respectful they could come back with, "But in question period all the MP's texted on their cell phone . . . In question period all the MP's talked to eachother and didn't listen . . . But in question period the MP's all insulted each other. . . " Yes the list goes on and on but it was definitely interesting nonetheless.

Enjoying tea at the statues celebrating women's suffrage
Marc showing a deep respect for all the women who fought so hard to get the vote
On day two of our parliament adventure, we biked to Parliament from Carlynne's. Marc took this photo to trace our route. I am not really sure where we went but we covered a lot of these streets.
We took a tour of Parliament and went into the library. It was surprisingly bright with warm colours and beautifully carved wood. (Sorry no pictures allowed in the library! I had to find one on the net.)

Afterwards we went and watched the Senate, it was a refreshing change after the chaos that was question period. Thoughtful questions and reasoned answers!

When we were leaving there was a beautiful light hitting the hallowed halls (actually walls) of our governmental centre.

The library from the outside
On our way home we stopped for the quintessential Canadian snack - a beaver tail!

A paparazzi view of Stephen Harper's house

We also celebrated Halloween with Carlynne and went for a walk on a beautiful day.

Some of the many very small and cute trick or treaters that came to the door:
Afterwards some very big and cute chefs came to the door demanding candy. We gave them none, but they graciously gave us a ride to their friends house to play Beatles Rock Band.
All in all a lovely trip and a great restful time away! We picked up Niko in Revelstoke as soon as we got back and here he is with three of his walking buddies. Getting this picture of them all sitting and smiling was no small feat, so enjoy!! :)