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Monday, August 30, 2010

Digging for Fossils: Cache Creek, British Columbia


Spent an amazing Saturday with Pip, Tabs, Peter and my mom near Cache Creek at a major fossil bed find. The pics include one of John, our guide. The hood-doos above are on sacred Bonaparte First Nation land. They used the area for the coming of age rites of their young men.
I won't disclose any more info about the site as it is one of the most amazing slices of history (50 million years ago) that exists in Canada. It is a new find, and the government is slow to act. But I am going to join the current group to have this site designated a world heritage site by UNESCO. It is far too precious to have the novice likes of me digging up all the fossils. They are truly amazing--and so many of them. Yes, we each came home with a haul. But I'd rather the site preserved and excavated properly by professionals as the layers are fragile and packed with fossils from a time when Kelowna and Kamloops were active volcano sites.
I LOVE the land around Kamloops to Cache Creek. The wild west. My favorite landscape. It looks like pure adventure, calling me to explore.
The entire area is rich with history--the original fur brigade trail cuts through the area. I need to go back and explore some more.
And the new Baskins and Robin shop in Kamloops is an added bonus :)
--I was stricken with unbelievable stomach pain yesterday afternoon. An allergic reaction to something. I was bed ridden and in agony--took 2 Zantax and waited it out.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

This is Me


This is me today. Whoopie. I just don't have any new exciting photos to share with you so forgive me.
My gym sucks. IQuest is in the stone age. I drive down this morning, bright and early, before Peter leaves for work and there is a sign on the door: OPEN at 8:30. It's supposed to be open at 6. No email, nothing. I drove home and went for a run instead. They'll be hearing from me.
Off to Kamloops tonight for the weekend. Fossil and rock hounding and finding the centre of the universe. Apparently, some Buddhist monks from California have determined that the centre of the universe is located about an hour north of Kamloops. The region has always been considered to have mystical energy according to the first nations as well--worth a visit to experience this energy.
Obsessed with editing my novel, thus I am not as motivated to blog--sorry.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Barefoot Salsa Running


Fernando and Pip.

Stop the press. I am rewriting the entire Queen. Looked at it yesterday and I was hooked. I love writing it. All I want to do is lock myself in my office from dawn to dusk. If I were a man--no doubt I would. But I am a woman and I just cannot do that. It is a good thing because that life style would really mess with my body and brain. My children keep me grounded.
My mom is up the street looking after Miranda's girls while M & J are away with work.
I already have been sent a syllabus to my next class--looks like a lot of research writing. I'd forgotten how good it felt to be done all of my classes for my MA.
Weekend trips to Kamloops and Nelson ahead--before school starts. So much to do--must sign myself and my girls up for our fall lessons: skating, choir, tap and latin dance.

Oh...this is SOOO cute!  Fernando is waiting outside my office door for me at the moment, and looking out the floor length window. Mist and Pip just came down here and said that a baby chipmunk was sitting on the other side of the window and looking in at Fernando as he looked out. It ran when it saw my girls.

Beach day today and then "The Return of Nanny McFee" tonight with my little gals.
Feeling better today. Just got back from a morning run with 'Nando and my ipod. I felt so happy to be out running in the sunshine, listening to my music that I was literally running with a smile on my face and doing the odd little salsa step while 'Nando watered the trees..

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stowaway on an Arc


Pics are from a photo shoot of the Maplelea dolls for their upcoming catalogue. No word yet if the top pic made it in.

Tonight I'm alone
Alone in the dark
Away from the familiar tone
Stowaway on an Arc

--lines from a poem I wrote when I was 11 years old. They seem fitting today as I rest in bed with a nasty virus that has left me feeling tired, achey, nauseous, and fainty. My sister Miranda had it last week. I woke up feeling OK and Peter and I did our early morning Paul's Tomb hike to the bottom of the mountain and back up again. We even past the site of the forest fire. It was frightening to see. A large part of the forest burned and if it had proceeded any further, it would have climbed up and over the mountain and burned down our house! Thank goodness our mountain is watched each and every summer by fire crews and they are fast to react. Every summer, a fire starts on our mountain and every summer they get it out before any houses burn. Still, I think I will make a list of our most valuable items and where to find them incase one of these summers we must evacuate. I'll have to let it all burn except for my art work, writings, family movies and photographs and the smocked dresses my mom has made my girls! I figure I need to teach Mistaya to drive so she can head down the mountain with all of the little girls and our dogs while the adults pack up the vans! lol

It was after the hike that the bug crept in. I just wanted to go back to bed.

Last night Miranda and I attempted "Eat, Pray, Love" but it was sold out so we watched "Switched." All of Jennifer Anniston's movies are the very same. She looks exactly the same, not a hair out of place, and plays the exact same woman over and over.

 I finished applying for the MFA program. It was so much fiddly work--using up to 3 computers at once to locate all of my art photos and text and mail them away. The applying itself was so much work on its own, I feel like I am ready to graduate the program!

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Retro Rumpus Room has Deep Roots


Here is my finished rumpus room--that is the name we called the basement room at my grandparent's house. Mistaya and I decided we love the name "rumpus room" and will call this room that forever more.

My maternal grandparent's rumpus room was my favorite room ever. It was filled with endless wonder : giant antique bank desks with tall, wooden swivel stools, their drawers filled with art supplies--drawing pastels and paper.
-There were shiny dark wood cabinets with oil paints and canvases (my grandmother was a hobby painter) and board games.
-The sofas were long and sturdy from the 1950's. And usually I could find a nice fat collection of MAD magazines, Archie comics, and BC comics--my grandfather was a kid at heart.
- Book shelves filled with old medical books with gory pictures of all sorts of rashes and diseases (my grandfather was a medical doctor). And a fantastic collection of art books. And this part is really creepy--the medical report about a little girl (a friend of mine) who had drowned at the town pool. My favorite childhood babysitter (a teenage boy) had been the lifeguard on duty that day and had tried to save her. I remember the horrible details of the report still--he was able to revive her but she aspirated shortly afterword and died at the scene. Sorry for the details. I just cannot believe this stuff is all still in my mind like it was yesterday and it is all really horrible stuff. I don't think anyone knew that I'd found all those reports in the cabinet and read them. And it gets worse. The summer before she drowned, my cousin and I were being bullies. Real little neighborhood shits--even though we were only vacation residents of the town. And one day we stopped that little girl on her bike and tried to demand that she eat leaves we'd picked off of some tree . I can't remember how it ended. But she went home upset, I am sure. I've never stopped feeling ashamed of my childhood self for that act of bullying. Because she was a friend of mine--on another occasion I'd been invited to her house.

 I loved an old photograph on their rumpus room wall. It was an blAck and white photograph from near the turn of the 19th Century. It depicted a young, bare-chested, aboriginal man in a buckskin loin skirt. I think he even had a feather in his long black hair. He was wading into a stream beside a tall rock wall--I always assumed it was a picture of the Highwood River--it flowed down from the rockies through the town of High River, where my grandparents lived. I'd picnicked at a spot on that river with my family when I was little. I remember tall rock walls, cliffs and a cold, swift mountain river cascading down through the Alberta foothills. I especially remember one day, on a family picnic, my tall, freckled father ran like the wind down the steep slopes towards the river and knocked himself out on a tree as he was being chased by hundreds of hornets. I was a toddler at the time but the memory of my dad's terror is still in my mind.

My grandparent's youngest daughter, my Aunt Sara, still lived at home for a few of my childhood years and I remember how their basement housed some of her treasures--china horse figurines and the troll dolls that she collected. How I loved to look at all of her collections and sneak in a touch here and there. Of course, I knew I risked death in doing it. She was a territorial teenager after all.

I spent every summer of my childhood down in that rumpus room. Hours were spent cross-legged on the floor building houses out of lego. And a few years after that, I watched many a Beta tape on the teli as a teen ager--sprawled out on the floor, sipping "Tahiti Treat" pop and munching on chips with home made "Hickory Farms" spice flavoured dips. Hey, I even kissed my very first boyfriend on the sofa in that room.

So all of you armchair shrinks out there take note. I, unbeknownst to myself until today, have been trying to recreate my grandparents rumpus room--right here in my own home. This 1950's furniture craze of mine has roots!
 It all adds up:
-the china horse figurine on my window sill.
- the giant antique teak desk, the long 1950's sofa.
- the shiny, dark wood cabinets.
- books shelves filled with my grandfather's old medical text books, my art books.
- my own paints and easel.
-a teli and movie collection.
Did I mention my collection of retro board games? And the trolls? I don't have any but I have encouraged my daughter's collection of the ugly creatures.
All along I have been creating this cozy childhood place of refuge for myself...thinking it was just an uncontrollable passion for thrifting.

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Gruntartus

Gruntartus: used to describe something that is dangerous and unbelievable yet also fitting and practical.

The newest word to join the English language. I invented it in the middle of the night last night. I was thinking about the video on YouTube about the penguin that was being chased by a pod of killer whales and finally escaped by jumping in a dingy full of tourists. There is only one word to describe such an incident: Gruntartus. The whole thing was gruntartus.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Multitasking Media Marvel


Peter secretly took this pic of me the other day on his iphone and mailed it to me. I was only in bed to be comfy--as you can see I was fully dressed in a brown dress. I think I was making an imovie at the time.
I thought the pic was so timely as ten years ago, this pic would not have happened--I even have my flip video camera on the bed as I'd just down loaded video. The empty Starbucks cup speaks volumes of the N. American lifestyle in 2010.

Stressed as applying for the MFA requires so much of my time--mutitasking with various forms of media. Oh, how I just want it out of my hair and to be signed up for all my classes this fall.

Fire on our Mountain in the night. NO idea until this morning. It is 100% contained but not out.
We live in a battle zone on this mountain--nature has the upper hand.

Lake was warm but windy last night--I could seriously just veg on the beach and watch the sunset if it weren't for the kids demanding to go home and eat :P
Watching the various triathete men head into the water as they practice for the big event this weekend was rather entertaining, I must say ;)!

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer at the Park


I am busy applying to switch from an MA to an MFA. I am very excited about this as my end career goal is to paint and teach post-secondary art. Of course I will continue making time to write throughout my life as well. I will be a travel-painter. Not unlike a travel photographer--only I will photograph nature all over the globe and then use my photos to inspire a painting series. I can hardly wait to put paint to canvas again! I took a break to write and do my MA and now I am ready to pick up my brush once again. I want to publish Queen... as an e-book asap as well.

We had our friends Stan, Alberta and their 2 kids for supper. They are moving to Victoria in a few weeks. As usual, once you realize friends are moving away is when it hits you--we should have gotten together more! They are a great family and I am sure we will see more of them as we often get to Victoria. Peter made his famous burgers and fresh french fries. I made a salad and a double chocolate cake which was essentially cream, chocolate and eggs with a little raspberries and pecans--so good.

I have this reoccurring dream--it always leaves me feeling sad. I am trying to meet someone whom I really want to meet and this person never shows up--I get stood up :(

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Queen of the Godforsaken


The cover for my first novel--coming soon to e-books everywhere!

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sasquatch Country: Harrison Lake, British Columbia

Above: Building a sand village on Harrison Lake BC. And Tabs looking for treasure in the shallows.
Below: A gorgeous moss covered tree stump in the forest that looked like a diplodocus ready to spring to life at dusk.
Parasitic flowers on the forest floor.
Harrison Lake--private beach that took hiking on death defying cliffs to reach--worth it though, the water was so clean and refreshing.
Kyran making his best Sasquatch face!
The tiniest campers with their Sasquatch "Quatchie" dolls.
Buddies. Finally--I caught Kyran unaware!
The gruesome twosome caught their favorite cuz. And Kyran making yet another one of his comical faces! It is impossible to photograph him in repose.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Canoeing in Sasquatch Country


We had a wonderful canoe to a private beach. We went in circles for awhile because Kyran was a much stronger paddler than I. But I got stronger and he calmed his strokes and I steered the canoe back to shore! The picks are from Hicks Lake which was a quiet, mountain surrounded gorgeous little lake. The toad was at least 8 inches long and so adorable.

Miranda is now known as 'Hot Wheels' as she peeled into the camp site at such a speed that the park warden gave her a talking to and neighbor campers shouted "give her paper!" (ticket) But it was due to stress as we had dismantled our entire tent site to move to a new camp ground on the lake only to have to move our camp 3x's as the sites turned out to be reserved! All worked out for the best as we discovered a new almost empty camp ground deep in the forest that backed an amazing wild ravine.

We had many, many adventures. We found an amazing hike to a private beach on Harrison Lake. We had to hike way up through the deep cedar forest on narrow rocky cliff-rimmed trails (I was a little terrified as cliffs, kids and I don't mix!) But the beach was gorgeous and obviously remote. Harrison Lake is HUGE and so clean. The mighty Fraser River flows from Harrison to Vancouver. One can boat to and from Vancouver from Harrison Lake. We hiked past the hot spring source and witnessed 65 oC water bubbling to the surface. I love Harrison Lake. It is massive and clean with tall coastal mountains surrounding it. The mountains surrounding the lake are crown land so the population of humans is very low (bonus!).

Our craziest adventure happened on our last night. Miranda woke me in a panic, something big was outside our tent and did we remember to put away our food coolers? I was so dead tired and it was pitch black inside the tent--I kept thinking Miranda's voice was coming from the opposite direction and I must have turned myself around in the night. Once I got my barrings, the answer to her question was no. YIKES! Mistaya and Kyran woke in the tent next to us. They said something big was walking outside their tent and it was really stinky. At that stinky info, terror flowed through my brains. All I could think of was the recent bear attack on several tenters in Yellowstone. I wanted to make noise to scare it away, Miranda wanted to remain quiet and let it go about its business of eating our supplies. I warned our kids, "Stay in your tent and be quiet. Worst case senerio, throw yourselves on top of the little kids and form a huddle--if I yell huddle." We decided to use our car keys to flash our car lights and beep the van horn. Next, Miranda took out the lantern and discovered the creature gone and our coolers tossed about. I joined M to clean up and saw a large creature in the shadows. It turned out to be a very big raccoon, sitting on its haunches, eating one of our bagels and smacking its lips! A huge relief that it wasn't a bear or worse a grizzly as Sasquatch park is home to all types of bears, cougars and wolves too. But raccoons can be very aggressive so we were happy when it stopped to lick its long tail and headed for the forest. Sleeping after that was near impossible. I kept hearing sounds and sure enough, the loud "Whoop! Whoop! of an unusual forest owl that sounded more like a primate than a bird--it had kept me guessing the night before. And several frightened little girls needed trips to the outhouse which was 1/2 km away and a very dark trip indeed.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Camp Sasquatch

Park entrance--adventure awaits us!

Suspicious foot print we found on the shore of Hicks Lake--Kyran's foot in comparison.
Pip and Atremis telling Sasquatch stories to each other.
Tabs, Artemis and Nemi

Mist and Kyran

Chef Miranda with her specialty a la Jiffy Pop!

Melissa (me) sampling Miranda's scrambled eggs (NOT! I hate eggs in actuality)
Chef Miranda presiding over the breakfast table.
Chef Melissa very pleased that she didn't have to cook the scrambled eggs! Note the steep ravine behind our tent--very wild and lush with ferns and a bog style creek at the bottom (Mist, Nem and Tabs sunk up to their knees in boggy black mud--I fear the little Pip and Artemis would have disappeared from sight all together if they stepped down from the log bridges!
Kyran as Jorge (pronounced Horhay)-his latin alter ego. Jorge was most entertaining, helpful and in fact kept me in stitches the entire time!

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

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Hippy Chics at My Birthday Picnic



We had a picnic in the park behind my house for my Birthday Supper and were serenaded by many coyotes. We ate Indian food and a double chocolate and raspberry-mousse-cheesecake made for me by Miranda.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Big Fat House gets a Girdle

A quick peek at my newly configured 1950s family room. It still needs the wall pictures but I rearranged all of the furniture to make it less cluttered. I am in love with the copper colours of the decade. And yes, I admit to awaiting the arrival of 2 eBay 1950's Blue Mountain Pottery cats. I hope they arrive in one piece as the last one I purchased thrifting did not even make it out of the store before my beloved Tabitha accidentally smashed it. Thus, the tragic incident inspired me to replace the smashed cat by finding it on eBay and alas, I found two! And yes, I simply adored both of them;)

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